We always tell ourselves whenever there’s an Oscars ceremony that we don’t ever care about what they pick for Best Picture, because it’s always been up to us to decide how the films play for ourselves. But no matter how many times we like to reaffirm that the Oscars are ultimately just meaningless to our own opinions of the films themselves, the better question to ask ourselves is why do we keep watching them? I’m not of a mind that has ever believed in the Academy Awards as arbitrary to how we feel about the films that we watch over the years, but I always watch because they are also indicative of how the industry chooses to move forward in the future. When La La Land lost last year to Moonlight after an erroneous announcement, what did not come by was merely a victory for LGBT films in the sense that we were finally recognized by the Academy in their choice to award us Best Picture, but because odds were never certainly going to add up in its favour, it was a moment of triumph for aspiring filmmakers like myself.
Liam Neeson said fairly recently that he was set to retire from the action genre, so it was only fitting that another action film starring him was set to be directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. But when you see a name like Jaume Collet-Serra is behind the camera, you can only expect he can make a simple premise seem entertaining enough even if it isn’t set to last fairly long. Nevertheless he’s also shown himself to be at his best working with Liam Neeson as proven by Unknown and Non-Stop, so it was among many reasons I was still curious enough to see The Commuter. If this is going to be Liam Neeson’s sendoff from the action genre, it’s disappointing – but nonetheless it’s entertaining to see him getting into action as if he were young, then again it was what I expected.
The first Paddington film took myself by a rather nice surprise, given as I’ve had no connection with the titular character and walking out, I saw a sort of charm that loads of modern family films have lacked. It wasn’t merely a family film that kept itself limited to children but created an entire world in itself where everyone felt welcome – bringing out the sense of warmth and fuzziness that one could only imagine an actual teddy bear can bring. Coming into Paddington 2, I expected more or less the same and Paul King certainly didn’t disappoint. It felt nice watching this to let go of my usual cynical self all in the favour of a cute little bear who wants to find only the good in everyone that he meets.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting from Paddington as I first watched it, but it reminded me of something that I wished more family films had carried in this day and age. It carries all the best aspects of any family movie so that kids can enjoy it, but even adults would be left in awe as they watch together with their own children. It’s a film that knows how to invite a new audience to come along the ride, because it’s hard not to be won over by the sweetness of the presence of Paddington Bear himself. Those of you who would come into Paddington only expecting as much as a cute film about a bear coming into England will end up finding something more special, because what that sets oneself up for is a live action/CGI hybrid for the family done right.
This is the unfiltered version of Aaron Sorkin, now that he finally went behind the camera to direct Molly’s Game. I consider myself a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s quick and witty delivery but there’s also a point to which I felt that a lack of filter for once with Sorkin’s trademarks can become rather excessive and knowing that this is a product that speaks Sorkin through and through, now it’s easier to see where his indulgences end up getting in the way. That said, I don’t want to give away the idea that I didn’t enjoy Molly’s Game, because I don’t see myself ever resisting the sound of Sorkin’s smart-sounding dialogue coming out of Jessica Chastain’s tongue and I got what I expected.
The original Jumanji hasn’t particularly aged very well outside of Robin Williams’s role but the premise alone having been based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book of the same name has always remained an inventive one. In the film’s best moments it feels like an inventive take on the obsession with gaming by juxtaposing said dangers as a reality to really test how prepared its unsuspecting players truly are, but at its worst it also feels relentlessly dark, and these moments only make clear the film’s age more than anything. Now that we have a film taking on the same idea but placing it all in the world of a video game, the least I can really say about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is that I’m already signed up to actually play a video game of this sort.
NOTE: This is a revised opinion that represents my current thoughts as opposed to my previous review. You can find the original review right here.
When I first saw Get Out in the theater, I came out thinking that it was merely good; yet it managed to stick inside of my head far more in the days that came afterward. Not merely because of the fact that I was stunned Jordan Peele of all people was the director, but the scathing social commentary of this work is one among many things that makes Get Out among the most effective films of our own time. Effective in a sense that it plays as a reminder that we must change for the better and not just wear it on our sleeves that we are going to “accept” a change in pace. But because Jordan Peele chooses to tell us this story as a horror film, it gives us a grasp on a greater truth. It may not strike on the first watch, but knowing more about the world it presents and how it reflects our own is the most terrifying thing that Get Out opens us to.
Although I’m a fairly big fan of The Smiths I have to admit that it was never easy for me to listen to them because of Morrissey himself. It was even to the point I thought I hated the music of The Smiths, because I could never stand Morrissey as a person. I hate the sort of personality he carried, for he’s always struck me as an uptight tool who loves himself over all else. For this reason alone I was especially skeptical of the idea of a biopic being made about his early years, even for someone who listens to their music on a regular basis. I could only have imagined a biopic that was to be made about Morrissey would be one that never went into what I had always known him as, and to say the least – it is exactly what I got from England is Mine. It’s an ugly biopic that celebrates a singer whose personality is the exact opposite of what listening to their voice singing beautiful songs was like.
A prime example of everything that a war film should be all in a little less than three hours. Something that, ironically, feels hard enough for Hollywood to capture so it was up to directing pair Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger of Britain to make The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp amidst the Second World War. Many of their typical trademarks are present in here as always but their names as always are synonymous with quality. But something like The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp shows a different spin on the war film, for it also blends elements of romance and comedy. This sort of humanistic angle on a war film is one thing that makes such films as powerful as they are and even if it weren’t Powell and Pressburger’s best film, it surely will go down as one of them for nevertheless it still stands as one of their most beautiful works to date.
I remember when I watched Atonement in a history class, and it was a rather awful experience. Beyond the often noted tracking shot taking place on the battle of Dunkirk, I also found the whole film to be indulgent and frustrating – and the romance to be contrived. I recalled that experience because watching Darkest Hour, the first thing that I was thinking about was that this movie was tailor made for that exact same history class because the teacher did not care in the slightest about his own students. Darkest Hour just felt like that movie for history class that you ended up sleeping through and it was the reason you ended up failing your assignment, because you were supposed to write an essay about what you were watching and yet you couldn’t help but doze off because you felt nothing.