Jay and Silent Bob Reboot


Viewed – 26 January 2020 online rental

I guess the warning signs were there from the off. An unfunny sequence right at the beginning gets our two stoner protagonists arrested, leading them to discover a movie reboot is being made, based on a movie they were the inspiration for originally. Yes, director Kevin Smith is back doing his nerdy comic book self-referential thing in a movie universe he created with cult favourites Clerks, Mallrats and the original Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back.

Meant as a satire of movie reboots, poking fun at Hollywood, social media and even ‘woke’ culture this should have been a laugh riot … considering once upon a time Smith was one of the sharpest voices around. Yet the script here struggles to be much more that an egotistical tribute to himself. As a fan, that’s a damn shame too as what’s here with a plot revolving around Jay (Jason Mews) finding out he has a daughter, is fine but the movie struggles with clunky dialogue that feels forced and jokes that really aren’t that funny. Attempts at emotion also fall flat not helped by the mostly wooden line delivery of Smith’s own daughter, Harley Quinn Smith as Jay’s illegitimate daughter.

These characters are likeable on a purely surface level, and what they get up to is occasionally fun. The wealth of celeb cameos are enjoyable too with Chris Hemsworth, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appearing. There’s just clearly nothing left that hasn’t already been done with this world and it’s like even Kevin Smith knows that by this stage.

Verdict: Poor

The Favourite


Viewed – 23 January 2020 Blu-ray

Sometimes a movie peaks one’s interest for no particular reason. I guess I wanted to see this just because of its intriguing concept and the fact it had good word of mouth. That Olivia Coleman Oscar nod didn’t go ignored either. So what’s it about? In the early 18th century, Queen Anne (Coleman) reigns during a war with the French, and is dutifully aided by Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). However when a maiden, Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at the palace, the equilibrium is upset as she begins to court the Queen’s favour and a fierce rivalry ensues.

This reminded me of that other costume drama classic Dangerous Liaisons, with its similarly mean-spirited characters and manipulative behaviour. Similarly this is also rather sexy and interwoven some strong language amongst its often entertaining, quirky dialogue. Olivia Coleman may have got all the attention for her performance but I found her portrayal overly pathetic and silly, that whilst fascinating was far from award-winning in my opinion. Weisz is suitably bitchy, sexually-ambiguous and enjoyable but next to Emma Stone’s more interesting, conniving character she comes off second best. Yes, Stone is the stand out here, subtle, layered and just fun to watch with more of a character ark than those that surround her.

With expected lavish production and costumes, despite occasional bizarre camera techniques (were those fish-eye lenses entirely necessary?) this was a joy to look at. The movie’s not quite as daring or provocative as it could have been and where it goes is rather disappointing … whereas I had expected a dramatic, possibly shocking conclusion. Worth checking out though.

Verdict: Good

New decade – new system


Hi everyone.

I’ve been thinking of this for a while and wanting to move away from my usual ratings system, especially where I score movies from 1 to 5, often throwing in that awkward 2.5 /5 or 3.5 /5 score for movies that don’t easy fit in. So going forward I’ll be using simply a word for each part of the scale as follows:

Essential – this replaces the much coveted 5/5

Recommended– replaces 4/5

Good – replaces 3/5

Poor – replaces 2/5

Avoid – replaces 1/5

I’ve updated the reviews I’ve posted already this year and this new system will remain for the foreseeable future.

Craig.

1917


Viewed – 21 January 2020 Cinema

There’s been a lot of buzz around this leading up to awards season.  Is it worthy?  Let’s find out.  During World War I, two young soldiers are given an unenviable task. In a race against time, they must travel into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save thousands of lives.

I won’t say I have the best knowledge of WW1, but still found this fascinating but not utterly gripping. The focus on these two characters makes for an effectively claustrophobic experience, aided by an unshifting, one-shot gimmick that certainly adds to the focus but also makes the whole show a bit less cinematic. Director Sam Mendes however delivers an occasionally powerful story that feels very real at times, exploring the mundanity of war as much as the violence and conflict. I felt the movie lacked big set pieces and failed to dig in deep with the characters, with little of the depth of say, the similarly perspective-driven The Revenant. With that said, one particular night sequence is quite visually striking.

Actor George Mackay is the stand out and is suitably supported by realistic casting, with names like Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch making an appearance. Yet it’s the authenticity here that shines, stepping away from any Hollywood excess. Worth a watch, but not quite as good as it’s hype suggests.

Verdict: Good

Midsommar


Viewed – 11 January 2020. Online rental

Following a family tragedy, a female student agrees to go on a trip to Sweden with her boyfriend and his friends to attend a religious festival at a secluded commune. However once there she begins to witness the community’s unusual ceremonies and suspect not all is what it seems.

The second movie from Hereditary director Ari Aster certainly has influences from The Wicker Man, with its focus on Pagan rituals, and also bares resemblances to religious cults like The Manson Family and Heaven’s Gate. Yet Aster also sprinkles it with his own ideas and haunting imagery and with an exploration of human drama at the centre of the horror, like Hereditary this again disturbs. Lead actress Florence Pugh is mesmerising as someone already dealing with grief, faced with uncertainty in her relationship and then unfamiliar surroundings that initially seem exactly what she needs – and then something else entirely. The movie also explores passive-aggressive behaviour amongst the various characters which only adds to the tension.

It is a bit long at over 2 and a half hours, and gets predictable towards the end with a little too much foreshadowing … but direction is effective with great use of sound, unconventional editing and (cleverly) daylight to build unease. A movie that further cements Ari Aster as one of the most interesting horror directors working today.

Verdict: Recommended