YOF 2017 #16 – 17 | The Lego Batman Movie, War on Everyone

Continuing my quests to log (and briefly review) all the films I watch in 2017, here are my thoughts on the 16th and 17th films in the series: The Lego Batman Movie and War on Everyone.


 

Lego Batman poster.jpgYOF2017 #16 | The Lego Batman Movie

I originally posted a fll (if short) review of this over at Fake Geeks. You can check that out here.

In short, I found The Lego Batman Movie to be a fun hour and a half or so. There’s plenty of gags, references and quips (relating to the older entries in the Bat franchise and to science fiction in general) to keep adults invested.

3.5/5


War on Everyone.pngYOF2017 #17 | War on Everyone

Now this was a film that flew under the radar last year (despite managing to watch an astronomical amount of 2016 releases, I didn’t make it to this one).

However, thanks to my fellow Geeketeer Simon (aka MelmanPringles to you YouTubers), I had the pleasure of watching this the other week.

This black comedy / buddy cop film divided opinion (4/5 in Rolling Stone, 1/4 at rogertebert.com etc). For me, whilst the humour can miss a little at times, it nails it a lot more often than not.

It’s also worth pointing out how good the cast is too – it’s like a whose who of underated talented. Alexander Skarsgård (True BloodWhat Maisie Knew) has been a favourite of mine for a while, and Michael Peña (End of WatchAnt-Man) has impeccable comic timing that Hollywood is seemingly only now really realising. Theo James (The Divergent SeriesThe Inbetweeners Movie) is entertaining in a one-dimensionally written antagonist role, and Tessa Thompson (SelmaCreed) is solid in support.

4/5


 

It’s been a quiet year so far, but I’m hoping to ramp up the film watching over March – April time. I shall report back soon with more thoughts.

YOF2017 #4 – 15 | Remainder, Rams, Your Name, Hunt for the Wildepeople, Lights Out, Fire at Sea, La La Land, Under the Shadow, Money Monster, The Neon Demon,The Take, The BFG

In my quest to blas through as many films from 2016 before submitting my film of the year list to my fellow Geeketeers at Fake Geeks, I’ve watched a whole heap of films in recent weeks. They make up all but one of these entries.


YOF2017 #4 | Remainder

You can read my full review of Remainder over at Fake Geeks. In short, while Omer Fast shows promise in his full length debut, it is ultimately more of an interesting head-scratcher than a mind-bending classic.

3/5


YOF2017 #5 | Rams

You can read my full review of Rams over at Fake Geeks. In short, it is an expertly crafted, affecting drama that’s spiced up with sprinklings of dark humour.

4/5


YOF2017 #6 | Your Name

Your Name was at the UK cinemas for about 5 minutes, but a few of us were very loucky to have gotten down to see it. It’s the last film from Makoto Shinkai  (5 Centmieters per SecondThe Garden of Words) who is one of a few directors that has been given the ‘next Miyazaki’ label.

Briefly, Your Name is about a  boy and a girl who – every so often, and seemingly at random – exchange bodies when they sleep, and they spend a day as the other person. Going into the whys and wherefors will spoil this one, but I can honestly say that this an excellently made film. It’s very much a mulit-layered piece, without being impentrable to the casual viewer. I have a feeeling it’ll place well in our film of the year list.

4.5/5


YOF2017 #7 | Hunt for the Wildepeople

Another strong contender for film of the year is this adventure comedy-drama from Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok).

Julian Dennison is excellent as Ricky Baker, a troublesome youth who floats from family to family in the child welfare system. His latest stop is with “Uncle” Hec (Sam Neill) and “Aunt” Bella (Rima Te Wiata).  For reasons that I won’t get into for fear of spoiling certain plot points, Hec and Ricky end up the object of a manhunt in the New Zealand bush.

Hunt for the Wildepeople is a brilliant film. While it’s mostly humourous, there are moments of genuine tenderness and drama. Neill is great, and Dennison steals the show.

4.5/5


YOF2017 #8 | Lights Out

While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, there are some nice spots in this adaptation of a 2013 short. The cast is pretty good too, and the characters feel a little more three dimensional than the usuals that get wheeled out for horror franchises.

A sequel has already been confirmed, here’s hoping it improves  on what they have already built and don’t send it the way of Saw etc.

3.5/5


YOF2017 #9 | Fire at Sea

This is a narrrator-free documentary look at the European island of Lampedusa. Being so close to Africa, the island is often a first port of call for migrants from the continents to the south and east.

What could have been excellent, is merely decent. Too much time is spent with the families of the island doing trivial tasks. The times spent focussing on the plight of the migrants is moving, and one of the doctors giving a talking heads piece about why he helps them is somewhat prodfound.

3/5


YOF2017 #10 | La La Land

Damien Chezelle’s  first film since the amazing Whiplash (the Fake Geeks film of the year)  is a musical set in Hollywood, about chasing your dreams.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are very good in the lead roles, and the songs are mostly good. The story meanders a smidge, but the ending is pretty darn good. It’s gonna be quite high on my list of films in 2017.

4/5


YOF2017 #11 | Under the Shadow

This is an acclaimed internationally produced horror set in Tehran, during the Iran-Iraq war of the 80s. As Tehran is bombarded with missile attacks, Shideh (Nerges Rashidi) tries to comfort her daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi). As the film progresses, things take a turn toward the unexplainable – is a djinn stalking Dorsa?

While I don’t think it’s amazing (it received five star reviews from a number of notable publications), it’s still really good stuff and has a shot at my top 15 for the year.

4/5


YOF2017 #12 | Money Monster

A decent hostage thriller starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O’Connell. It wholly unoriginal, but done quite well throughout. There’s alsodecent support from prominent TV actors such as Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito, Denis Boutsikaris and Chris Bauer.

3/5


YOF2017 #13 | The Neon Demon

A bit of a mixed bag from Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest release. It looks amazing (as you’d probably expect), and the soundtrack is spot on. Elle Fanning is pretty good on the most part, though significantly better in the first half than the second (her character undergoes a transformation, and she’s much better at portraying the former than the latter). The film is a smidge slow, and the last third seems to be shocking for shocking sake. Still, I didn’t ‘not enjoy’ it. It’s just… decent/fine.

3/5


YOF2017 #14 | The Take (Bastille Day)

Like Money Money, this is decent (if by the numbers). Elba plays a CIA agent, Richard Madden is a pickpocket and Charlotte Le Bon an naive political idealist. The three of them end up tangled up in bomb plot. Fun enough entertainment.

3/5


YOF2017 #15 | The BFG

I must confess that I’ve never read the book, nor have I watched the famous 80s cartoon. However, I really enjoyed Steven Spielberg’s adaptation. It’s definitely at the better end of and increasingly bloated kids CGI film selection.

4/5


 

YOF2017 #3 | Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One poster.pngMike did a cracking review of this for us over at Fake Geeks, which I mostly agree with so I won’t go on about it too much.

I thought it was very good. There was a strong cast, with Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed probably the standouts.

While it wasn’t OTT, seeing the film in IMAX certainly seemed like the way to go. The space battles were more impressive for it, and the whole 3D experience worked well. It defintiely didn’t feel like a ‘gimmick’ in this one.

I’ve heard rumblings of continuity errors, though I’m not sure I noticed them myself. I’ve read up on one or two, but they seem to have been explained away (one of them by the director himself).

There isn’t too much more I can say without delving into spoilers (hat hasn’t already been said in Mike’s review).

In short, it’s very good, it’s likely making my top ten films.

4/5

YOF2017 #2 | Where to Invade Next (2016)

With the deadline looming for the Fake Geeks teams to submit our lists for Top 15 films of 2016 (so we can populate a combined Top 20 list), I’ve been using every medium possible to catch up. In this case, I used my trusty Lovefilm account to grab this doc from last summer.

The original review was posted at Fake Geeks, but you can read it in full below.


Where to Invade Next poster.pngDirected by | Michael Moore
Produced by | Carl Deal, Tia Lessin, Michael Moore
Written by | Michael Moore
Starring / Narrated by | Michael Moore
Run Time | 120 minutes
Certificate | 15

Plot |  Michael Moore goes on a fact finding mission to discover which policies would benefit the United States, were they to adopt them.

Review | Michael Moore documentaries can be more than a little hit or miss. He can make moving pieces (Bowling for Columbine), as well as films that lift a lid on profit-driven governmental policies (Sicko). He can also make sensationalistic, conspiracy-theory guff (Fahrenheit 911). Though lighter in tone to all those previously mentioned, Where to Invade Next thankfully harkens back to his work on Sicko more than anything else.

Where to Invade Next img 2.jpg

For those that remember his 2007 feature on the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, you may recall a scene where he goes to France and asks questions of how the system works there. We discover that their higher tax rates take care of a number of issues, which expands past the limits of healthcare briefly to discuss paid leave for life events (such as your Honeymoon or moving house). Where to Invade Next can be boiled down to being a near two hour version of this scene, focussing on many facets of every-day life.

After a mildly humorous, fictional set-up (he explains that the Government has asked his opinion on where they should invade next), Moore treks across to Europe and Northern Africa with the idea of pilfering any ideas he comes across that could be of benefit to the US of A.

Where to Invade Next img 3.jpg

While Moore’s film making style and overt political leanings are never going to win over staunchy conservative right-wingers, Where to Invade Next is a nonetheless entertaining film, and some of the things he discovers about each of the countries he visits is genuinely surprising (the amount of paid annual leave Italians get may raise an eyebrow, as may Norway’s prison system, Slovenia’s free University education or Portugal’s stance on drug possession).

In a departure from many of his other releases, Moore retains a relatively light tone throughout and even offers a surprisingly upbeat outlook come the conclusion. This helps elevate Where to Invade Next towards the better end of ‘good’.


The Verdict | Moore’s refreshingly upbeat and light tone helps make Where to Invade Next an interesting and entertaining documentary.

4/5


YOF2017 #1 | Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Year of Film is dead!
Long live Year of Film 2017!

With the new year, I have decided to reboot my Year of Film blogsperiment. It retains the same idea as before – I give my thoughts on every feature film I see over the period of a year. In some cases, like this one, I will have previously published the article as a review (or part of one) over at Fake Geeks. Other times, I’ll just be putting up my thoughts directly here.

To kick things off, I watched Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!. I’ve been a fan of his for a while, and the Before trilogy is some of my favourite films of all time.

Below is the brief review I wrote for Fake Geeks:


Everybody Wants Some poster.pngDirected by | Richard Linklater
Produced by | Megan Ellison, Richard Linklater, Ginger Sledge
Written by | Richard Linklater
Starring | Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell
Run Time | 116 minutes
Certificate | 15

Plot |  Baseball pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) has arrived at his frat house, just a few days prior to starting college as a freshmen. We follow his exploits as he bonds with the new housemates.

Review | For anyone unfamiliar with Richard Linklater’s work, Everybody Wants Some!! may seem a little odd, as it is a film with exceptionally little by the way of conventional plot. However, those more familiar with the auteur’s previous works will know that Linklater is more interested in the interactions between people, then of a centralised narrative. This is very much the case with Everybody Wants Some!!, which simply shows us a three day period in the life of Jake Bradford.

Helping Bradford to settle in are his new team-mates: Finnegan (Glen Powell), Roper (Ryan Guzman) McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), Plummer (Temple Baker), Douglas (J. Quinto Johnson), Beuter (Will Brittain), Jay (Juston Street), Coma (Forrest Vickery), Brumley (Tanner Kalina), Nesbit (Austin Amelio), and Justin (Michael Monsour).

everybody-wants-some-img-2

While a large principle cast inevitably leads to some being featured more than others, the acting is pretty good across the board. Jenner is likeable in the lead role, and Powell, Russell and Amelio’s turns are particularly memorable in their own ways – as is Zoey Duetch as the love interest Beverly.

The twelve guys spend their last few days of freedom drinking, partying, getting high and chasing girls – as well as having the odd intellectual conversation. While this might mostly sound like a recipe for disaster in the vein of many a screwball, lechy hollywood comedy, this really isn’t the case. Yes, the guys are out for a good time, but the film treads a line closer to romanticised nostalgia.

everybody-wants-some-img-3

There is a genuine warmth to the script and the characters are played with such fresh faced honesty, that you can’t help but just smile at the antics of this cheeky dozen. An early scene sees five of them are cruising the streets on a sunny summer’s afternoon looking for girls, only for it to turn into a Wayne’s World style singalong to Rapper’s Delight. It’s fun, a bit daft and genuinely entertaining – which is pretty much a perfect way to sum up Everybody Wants Some!!.


The Verdict | A genuinely warm, meandering piece of nostalgia that will leave you with a smile on your face.

4/5