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Not Okey. Very Quick Review.

A teenage nihilist (Zoe Deutsch.) invents a lie where she Is one of the victims of a Paris terrorist attack in an attempt to win over an attractive workmate (Dylan O’Brien) This quickly spiralled out of control and results in our antihero getting involved with some genuine activists (led by Mia Isaac) in this black comedy. The film sells itself as the millionth take on the darker side of social media fame. In a lot of ways, it is that but whilst watching a more direct and obvious comparison came to mind. This is essentially what would happen if Dear Evan Hansen became self-aware of the central characters’ awfulness and played the entire thing for darkly comedic effect. It even ends with someone performing a spoken word piece that in another version of this story could easily be something adjacent to the generic pump-up pabulum of You Will Be Found. The screenplay cribbes generous notes from a lot of the current YA media discourse. It is solid at offering an absurdist flip on material that is typically played dead straight. Whether it’s poking fun at the specific brand of cynicism authored by Sam Levinson with Euphoria. Poking at the surface level cultural appropriation of Emily in Paris. The splash of genuine realism and emotionally honest ending applied to Evan Hansen. The film doesn’t have a great deal to say on its own merit. This is thankfully offset thanks to very amusing delivery and a great central performance from Deutsch. Ultimately the side of the narrative the film chooses to sell itself on is the least interesting element. Those entrenched in seemingly endless media discourses who can distract themselves and poke fun at some of the battles that go on online will find something to like here. If the narrative had developed its voice rather than mining comedy thanks to riding off the coattails of others it could have been something truly great. For a mid-level Fox streaming offering/ offshoot under Disney, this is an appropriately dark-hearted and in large part effective skewering of current troops and trajectories within the very YA-centric online culture wars.
7/10.

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Resident Evil(Netflix Live Action ) Review. (Mild Spoilers.)

When one has no attachment to the source material and has not seen any other incarnation of it across various media how do you treat something from a reputable franchise becoming the new internet punching bag? This sort of thing where every critic is in a rare to the bottom in an attempt to come up with the snarkiest put down. That was very much the reaction that greeted the eight-episode first season of Netflix’s attempt to make Resident Evil work on live-action streaming TV. Viewers had knives out for it from the second it dropped. That said this watcher went into the opening episode with a relatively open mind. He ended up watching the full thing for one very specific and personal reason. Is the season that bad?
A lot of the criticisms of this season are valid and individual moments may scrape the bottom of the barrel. That said overall this is not the automatic 1 out of 10 that a lot of fans have automatic ire for. It does get close on a few occasions. The very generic pre and post-apocalypse duel timeline structure, on the one hand, shows interpretation of Albert Wesker ( Lance Reddick) relocating both his teen daughters to a relocated Racoon City in Cape Town via flashback. The narrative follows one of the daughters as an adult (Ella Balinska) in the post-apocalypse timeline. This is the exact sort of rote material even less discerning audiences will have seen before. The majority of the season comes across as clunky, occasionally laughable, teen drama nonsense with occasional apocalypse interludes. That said Lance Reddick is the kind of reliable genre actor that always attempts to bring a level of gravitas to even the most generic material. He is the one genuine bright spot amongst the cavalcade of bad to atrocious central performances that aren’t worth mentioning. That said there are moments in which the season can deliver some effectively nuts and bolts gory spectacle despite how one note and played out everything feels It’s like the show wakes up and suddenly figures out how to deliver something much more fundamentally solid before retreating into the quagmire of extreme mediocrity. On a personal note, it was nice to see the side of Cape Town That Hollywood adjacent genre producers would like to see represented get some time on screen. It’s one thing knowing that something may be shot in a particular place. Another knowing that one has quite possibly walked those same streets as the characters on the way down to the beach during multiple trips out there over the years.
Then there’s episode 7. The two genuinely so bad they’re hilarious sequences in the penultimate episode have to be seen to be belied. Some images from the episode cold open have already gone viral but another sequence involving the use of Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now genuinely had this viewer doubled over in laughter questioning what an earth he was even watching. The utter insanity of the highest order. The finale might not be anything as bad but does feature a mutant crocodile because reasons. It does feel at times like someone was influenced by the creative energy of Scott Bucks’s run at Marvel TV and wanted to recreate the legendary awfulness of A certain Iron Fist scene involving ice cream multiple times over. That said having seen all 21 episodes that Buck was responsible for show running Netflix live-action Resident Evil is a level up over this very bottom of the barrel. At least Resident Evil has a couple of redeeming moments and one major performance that’s doing its best to polish this turd.
Netflix live-action Resident Evil may not be quite as irredeemable as some would have you believe but a lot of the criticism it has received is fair and accurate Laughable third-act reveals. Paper thin with often embarrassing writing and bland characters aplenty. A couple of effective set piece sequences and Lance Reddick for trying his absolute best with material that does not deserve any kind of weight prevent it from going at the very bottom of the genre TV bin. It still deserves to be there. Just not with the detritus so bad that people try and wipe its existence from the face of the earth.
4/10.

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The Umbrella Academy (Netflix) Season 3. Review (MIld Spoilers)

In terms of superhero adjacent streaming series debuting in 2019 the diverging paths of Netflix’s, The Umbrella Academy and Amazon The Boys are an interesting point of comparison. One has blossomed into one of the best most critically acclaimed multilayered shows on TV. The other is The Umbrella Academy. Season One is mostly fun with some engaging characters and quirky style but was never truly great. Season 2 is a completely all-over-the-place mess. Strong moments and improvement over the opening outing are offset by more expansive plots that ultimately still feel stretched far too thin with moments and storylines that just don’t work. The plotting followed the same formula as season one but the greater scope did offset a certain level of diminishing returns. That said the cliffhanger that closed out the sophomore effort was an intriguing prospect for future seasons. Thus this did go into Season 3 with a relatively open mind. How was the season?
A complete and total mess. However in a very different way to Season 2 which is a big part of the reason this viewer wanted to write this review. Whereas Season 2 had far too much going on the newest effort feels like 60% filler. There is still a degree of fun to be had. Even in the presence of some incredibly weak momentum writing these characters can just be fun to hang around with. Elliot Page’s transition is written into the show gracefully and with minimal fuss, The in-universe reason why it occurs relates to the worst storyline from Season 2 but that’s not Elliot’s fault. That said this is all the good this author has to say about what is incredibly frustrating viewing end.
Yet another world-shattering event is being tackled by our quirky team of heroes and their Sparrow equivalents. This show offers nothing new with the introduction of what might have been a potentially intriguing reset rather than an excuse for the creative team to recycle the same plot mechanics yet again. There is not even any inkling of the overall threat until the end of Episode 3. Not to mention an entirely unnecessary wedding and multiple fake-out deaths in the final two episodes. Not to mention an ending that sets up another variant on the same formula for a potential next season. Watching the writers run themselves in circles so clearly stretching for any inclination to keep the show going is an incredibly draining experience. Despite one character getting the happy ending, they deserved last season. A few brighter moments suggest there might be something here if you cut the season in half. That said the sense of wasted time and potential looms large as the credits rolled on the finale. Would this viewer watch another season? Possibly but it would be the side of him that sat through all 21 episodes of the Scot Buck showrun Marvel TV shows and watched the full season of Netflix’s live-action Resident Evil. The potential this show promised throughout a lot of its first and second season ( despite niggleing issues) is now gone.
Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy starts to circle the drain and fails to avert the feeling of being a large filler with its Not to mention ending simply resetting to a variant of the same formula having wasted the huge promise with the cliffhanger resolution from season two across the next 10 episodes. Massive fans of the first two seasons might get something out of it. That said if one always thought this show was a bit overly pleased with itself for individual tastes watching through the newest 10 episodes will only reinforce that feeling.
5/10.

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Where the Crawdads Sing. Movie Review.

This viewer considers himself relatively on the ball in terms of potential big releases on the horizon theatrically. That said the level of somewhat astroturfed feeling of supposed anticipation for Where The Crawdads Sing blindsided him a little bit. The trailer looked fine. It’s sold as a fairly melodramatic mystery thriller with the level of attempted atmosphere and the cosine of Taylor Swift that will get her army of fans in the door regardless of what the content of the final film is. As a huge fan of the Normal People TV adaptation, it’s also interesting to see what kind of Hollywood careers Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal will have going forward. It was only until the week beforehand this watcher also realised this was the latest publishing sensation to saunter its way onto the silver screen. So that’s why it’s theoretically treated like some form of mid-tier blockbuster? The question is as someone not familiar with the source material how is the film?
Odd and mostly rather boring. There’s enough differentiation between the two timeline narrative structure that makes them distinctive enough. That said both the back storytelling the fable-like tale of a Carolina marsh girl ( Edgar Jones) and the murder she eventually gets caught up in suffer from a lot of the same problems. The screenplay is far too reliant on hokey melodrama to sell any of the potential heft the narrative appears to be going for. It’s like reading the diary entries of an overeager middle schooler’s attempt to be deep. Edgar Jones does her best with the material she’s given but her performance seems far too overqualified for this level of the problem Then the much darker elements of the story smash in. They may cause audiences to momentarily wake up from the sense of mild drowsiness those not already enamoured with this story will likely go through. That said they are such an awkward fit with the sort of film that otherwise seemed built for unthreatening middle age aged wine moms to go and see following a discussion of the source material. The tonal clash is so violent that this author ended up not being sure who the full package was really for.

Then there’s the legal drama. The sort of sleepy courtroom fare that any sane viewer will have seen a million times before. As with the flashbacks it’s elevated by Edgar Jones and David Statheren showing that they would be capable of so much more with better material. Nevertheless, they tried their best but are effectively unable to raise the legal scenes effectively above a potential cure for insomnia. Much is there is stuff to discuss in this review the entire 128-minute experience is the worst kind of boring. One has to give some credit for the performances for being better than they should be given the screenplay. That said this is the sort of film not distinctly recommendable to anyone unless they have a pre-built relationship with the source material.
Aside from the moments where the injection of darker material comes across as unbelievably awkward Where the Crawdads Sing is the blandest kind of mediocrity. There’s enough quality acting to raise the film above the level of entirely irredeemable. Unfortunately purely from this viewer’s experience with the film, there’s nothing here to suggest why the source material caught on in the way it did. Unless one is predisposed to like the style of narrative there’s nothing in here new viewers won’t have seen before. Given the increasing lack of prime theatrical only initial post-pandemic releases that’s a real shame.
4/10.

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All My Friends Hate Me. Very Quick Review.

This BFI-backed British black comedy is a somewhat one-dimensional but effective examination of the idea that the supposed collective experience of education holds no emotional weight whatsoever. A graduate is excited when his university buddies Arrange a slap-up birthday weekend at a lavish country house. When our hero gets there he very quickly realises his “friends” have regressed and indulged in a deliberately entitled lifestyle. Meanwhile, the lead has embarked on a life that seems a lot less flashy but enables him to follow his passion as a charity worker. . The film’s attempted commentary on class divides should be thuddingly obvious from that plot synopsis. It’s something of a surprise then that the writing is still sharp, quick-witted and dark enough even if the film does not attempt to say anything new on any of the major thematic points it wants to ram home. It does this with the subtlety of a brick to the face. Where the narrative succeeds is in examining and unpacking the inherent nonsense of the idea that doing the same university course at the same time brings along any level of emotional engagement. The tone gets across the clique somewhat impenetrable nature of the emotional bonds built by academic environments. Certain kinds of people will think there should automatically be a level of emotional attachment beyond the shared academic experience. In reality, this is complete nonsense. It can be incredibly awkward for people not automatically enamoured with this specific group attempting to immerse themselves within these types of All My Friends Hate Me plays this for awkward black comedy and mostly does it well. Combine this effect with the fact there’s still a level of quality to the more one-dimensional moments. You have something that might not be as smart as it thinks it is on one level but will certainly connect with a particular audience. The whole package feels destined to become a British cult favourite if it is picked up by the right people Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen. That said it’s certainly the sort of production that will have a certain level of merit in its hypothetical cult status
7/10.

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Elvis. (2022) Quick Review.

Stylistically Baz Lurman has those who will be automatic easy marks for his style over substance approach. There’s also a sizable section of viewers that will reach for the proverbial vomit bucket as soon as they see his name on a poster. Well, this reviewer would definitively plant himself in neither he will admit to being closer to the latter than the former. Well, Lurmans confetti blast to the face might be less egregious Then the filmmaking tropes of Michael Bay or Zack Snyder it is certainly capable of inflicting a throbbing headache on the audience. His 160-minute biopic of the king of rock and roll sounded like a potentially difficult prospect for those not already inclined to buy into what Lurman can offer as a filmmaker. Nevertheless, this viewer did go in with an open mind.
Honestly even as someone who treats Lurman productions with a degree of distance Elvis is perfectly solid. Things don’t perhaps start on the best foot. The prologue infuses Lurmans whirling editing and general glitz with a pantomime villain Tom Hanks playing Elvis’s manager Colonel Tom Parker as if he is an exaggerated version of old man Robert De Niro in The Irishman. Things quickly calm down thought. There is plenty of over-the-top Lurman flourishes to please the audience that will come to the film looking for that. What honestly surprised this viewer was how the conventions of what is a fairly standard music biopic provided just enough grounding in some sense of hugely exaggerated reality to prevent Lurman from going totally off the rales He is helped along by a truly magnetic central performance From Austin Butler. Not only is the central turn this sort of powerhouse performance that elevates every single scene Butler is in including some impressive musical performances blending Butler’s vocals with the genuine article. The full package is a solid attempt to find the heart and humanity in one of the most imitated and mythologized figures within pop culture e. Who knows if any other central r performance could have conveyed this as effectively? One thing’s for sure though. is going to be a Superstar of the future.
There’s almost not a lot to say about the rest of the film. Even if one has had an allergic reaction to Lurman in the past Elvis is worth a viewing just to see one of Hollywood’s potential next big things deliver what might be their magnum opus at the start of a potential burgeoning career. The rest of the film is a conventional music biopic that solidly and engagingly hits all of the beats one might expect it to. Butler’s performance certainly elevates the set but there’s enough restraint in the presentation that this has the potential to appeal beyond the older audience that is typically marked for films like this.
Elvis still has plenty to keep those who inherently buy into Baz Luhrmann’s style satisfied. That said there’s just enough restraint hemmed in by the conventional music biopic structure to not cause a section of the audience to reach for the sick bucket. Thankfully this is balanced out thanks to a sensational central turn from Austin Butler. It doesn’t matter that there’s, ‘s not a lot beyond the decidedly glossy surface one might expect from Lurman. The central performance alone makes it worth the experience.
6.5/10.

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Obi-Wan Kenobi. (Disney +) Review.

As has been covered with each review of a Star Wars Disney + show the blog’s original intention certainly wasn’t to cover all of them. This author did not grow up with Star Wars and is not necessarily a massive fan. That said the three seasons released before this one have been interesting to discuss. Now adding a fourth with the return of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan bridging the gap between the prequel and original trilogy has only furthered this impression. How is it?
No beating around the bush here. In terms of the full six-episode package like Boba Fett before it, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a complete mess. There are definite positives to be found. It’s nice to see Ewan McGregor return as the character and not be encumbered by George Lucas’s screenwriting ability ( or lack thereof.) The first episode offered some solid but basic setup and the last two episodes do a strong job of delivering a slice of effective Star Wars spectacle. This effectively saves the season. The middle three episodes are a perfect encapsulation of everything wrong with Disney streaming and farming IP-related strategy that those that hate it by birth right will use as a stick to beat the final product. Sloppily paced, needlessly stretched out and shockingly cheap looking at times. That’s not even touching the fact that on paper the narrative chosen here for McGregor’s big return highlights fan service of the most shallow kind. This viewer is not going to be too harsh on it. Ultimately the season does deliver some strong moments despite itself so it’s not like the narrative choices are completely irredeemable. There are even some strong moments in episodes 3 through 5. Especially in our central characters’ first confrontation with Darth Vader that closes out episode 3.

On that topic, it’s probably best to acknowledge Hayden Christensen’s return. That said this is hard to judge because Christiansen only has a couple of scenes where is definitively him playing some version of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. When Vader is not in the suit and being voiced by a returning James Earl Jones he is under heavy prosthetics. Christiansen’s take on Anakin only gets one de-aged flashback scene to show what level of acting chops he can bring to the table. In theory, this project is meant to be redemption for these actors’ interpretation of the central characters. One of them delivers a strong performance that is often saddled with weak material. The other is not definitively on screen for long enough throughout the season that his performance can be judged effectively. This all seems like a massive missed opportunity. The fact it was originally developed as a series of potential feature films is incredibly obvious. Given the amount of plot on offer throughout the six episodes, it’s hard not to think that the project should have stayed in that format or been scraped.


Obi-Wan Kenobi is incredibly frustrating viewing. There are moments of quality sprinkled throughout and two episodes that deliver effectively what they’re trying to do. A lot of the season fields are sluggish and overstretched in a way that just doesn’t suit the prestige mini-series format. This isn’t necessarily a problem exclusive to Disney products. It is exemplified when all of their projects are extensions of TV and movie characters regardless. The entire package might be fundamentally flawed but it’s far from the worst thing ever. That said Ewan McGregor deserves a lot better. Whether there will be any more for him in this role remains to be seen. One can only judge based on what this first season brought to the table. from that perspective, Obi-Wan Kenobi in its current form feels like a decidedly undernourished meal.
5.5/10

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The Princess (Disney +/Hulu.) Quick Review

Not to be confused with the recent Diana documentary this reviewer just covered here’s the latest 20th Century Studios R-rated cast off. Star of perpetually YA adjacent mediocrity Joey king is your classic “strong-willed princess” heroine. Set to be part of an arranged marriage and stuck at the top of the tower we watch her escape her captors as the kingdom is in the process of being taken over by some rather pantomime-like villains. As has been stated before by this author it’s sad to see the state that one of the biggest former movie studios is in under Disney as a content farm for streaming content. That said with something like The Princess it’s not hard to see why this got banished to an SVOD graveyard

A blatantly cynical to astroturf a female-centric action movie ripping off John Wick and The Raid films. Except put together by a team with 1/100th of the skill of this sort of craft-focused action s better efforts. It’s like watching someone who has seen all the right influences but only has the Capability to plant themselves at the shallow end of the pool. Cue a lot of speed ramping and general editing choices that on some level are attempting to recreate some level of OTT spectacle but can’t resist throwing in jarring cuts. The action has all the flow of a decidedly jerky attempted roller coaster. Throw in a dose of thuddingly insincere corporate “girl boss” feminism and you have already seen The Princess.

The pantomime-like tone and atmosphere does make this a good candidate for audiences looking to expand their knowledge of entertainingly mediocre to outright terrible films. That said there are better alternatives out there. Someone out there okayed the deranged third-act plot twist in Wild Mountain Thyme as recently as last year. That says The Princess has had enough camp energy to prevent itself from languishing in the very bottom rung of streaming content. That doesn’t mean it is decidedly worth any kind of viewing experience regardless.
4/10.

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Hustle And The Fate of the Mid-Range Movie in 2022

The scope and scale of the Adam Sandler Netflix contract has been a recurring meme at various points through the years since he signed it. Hustle effectively asks what if that contract produced some genuinely solid dramatic material. Taking Sandler’s love of basketball and slotting it into a standard underdog sports narrative is one of those things that seems ridiculously obvious. Sandler is a Philadelphia 76ers basketball scout who is on the brink of retirement after years on the road. His discovery of a raw talent in Spain (Juancho Hernangomez) compels him to make one last push to get the kid into the NBA. They have helped by a cast filled out with several real-life NBA figures playing fictionalised versions of themselves. Que your standard sports movie story. There’s nothing revolutionary here. It’s just a ridiculously solid version of exactly the film one thinks it will be. It helps that the emotional investment and bond between Sandler’s character and his protégé is established quickly and effectively. There are some rough edges but none of the morose personal demons wallows that can impact these stories if they go too far in that direction ( see Gavin O’Connor’s The Way Back.) In other words the perfect candidate for an SVOD subscription release.
This viewer has heard the argument that the film should have been released in cinemas as counterprogramming to Jurassic World: Dominion. There’s no question that in a previous pre-streaming age this would have been the case. This viewer would as the following question. How much would a film like this have been actively made theatrically in a previous life? A well-regarded adult drama that’s not necessarily exceptional or gunning for awards out of the gate faces a distinct argument for its opening to middling or disappointing box office results before finding its true home in the ancillary market and on home video. Some will say this is a perpetually bad thing. To some extent, this viewer might agree. That said the relative streaming success of movies like Hustle shows that there is quality that can migrate streaming effectively. It’s also under no pressure of getting booted out of theatrical release after 10 days thanks to the impending arrival of a generic blockbuster. If this is the film landscape of 2022. Along with certain streamers accepting wider theatrical windows for some of their releases, there’s still plenty of good mid-range mainstream material releasing weekly. It’s just unemployed the scope of platforms than in previous generations.
7/10.

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McEnroe. (2022) Review.

As a huge tennis fan, It should be obvious that this viewer was inclined to check out this new documentary covering the career of John McEnroe. Even if McEnroe’s achievements and his cult of personality feel like they have been thoroughly covered across various projects in both drama and documentary. What surprised this onlooker was that the new firm had a relatively wide theatrical release and was even playing in some multiplex venues. Granted it will be gone from most of those after a week. Even if The subject is still one of the most well-known figures in tennis on paper the new piece looks like something one might see appear at a film festival before appearing as a reliable schedule filler in between the action on various live sports channels. This may be its fate in the US. The opening logos do confirm that it’s a co-production with Showtime. That said after watching it’s not hard to imagine why the UK arm of Universal along with documentary specialists Dogwoof thought this might play well to a broad audience. It’s the kind of efficient, engaging and effective career walkthrough That benefits hugely from the fact that McEnroe himself is an engrossing presence regardless of your thoughts on his sport. The most intriguing and admirable yet odd element of the film is its framing device. Occasionally the constructed career narrative and talking head interviews with all the figures One would expect to see Will cut to a reoccurring framing device. Contemporary McEnroe walks around the streets of modern New York City throughout a single night as if he is in some variety of Neo-Noir project. These might not work for every viewer but give the proceeding a commendable big screen-worthy element. This enables McEnroe as a fully formed piece to differentiate itself From the standard formula for this style of sports retrospective to a certain extent.

The full package is supremely watchable but nothing particularly new even for casual tennis fans. It’s like watching someone do a mid-tier episode of “Tennis Relived” on themselves. Notably, without The Tennis Podcast’s occasionally frustrating ability inorganically insert a “how do we make this about inequality?” angle Even in the stories and careers where that is less relevant. In other words, McEnroe is the exact sort of mainstream adjacent documentary that exhibiters love to put in front of a mainstream audience of both casual and established fans of the subject matter. This is perfectly fine. Ultimately there is a level of comfort in watching a story one knows be solidly told through the medium of documentary. Rather this than filmmakers trying to push the boat out and bungling the execution of a topic that could have been fascinating.
McEnroe is a solid documentary that doesn’t break any new ground in terms of covering a very well-established career within the sport. That said the piece is the kind of efficient and engaging career walkthrough that has the potential to play to a wider audience. It’s somewhat wild to this fan that three tennis feature films have appeared in various places over the last 18 months. Netflix cameras have been following both professional tours this season. One also has continuing escapades and modern stories of players like Nick Kyrios, Bernard Tomic and Benoit Paire. These careers read at times like the script from a pre-constructed reality TV show. There will be plenty more tennis adjacent media in the pipeline. Even outside of the traditional pre and post-Wimbledon bubble.
6/10.

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The Princess. Quick Review.

Really. More Princess Diana media. Even as someone who was all of three years old at the time of her death Princess Diana is this sort of easy audience adjacent narrative that certain viewers and filmmakers will always have an avert fascination with. Ever since Actress Emma Coren deservedly won a lot of acclaim for her portrayal of young Diana in Netflix’s The Crown it seems like Diana-centric projects have gone into production overdrive. Even more so than usual. The one-dimensional emotion porn of Pablo Lorraine’s awards/festival pandering Spencer. The ludicrously over the top, too camp to not be destined for a cult status notoriety of Diana: The Musical. Everything in between. Well here’s another one.

The Princess is an attempt to construct the Diana tale utilising only existing archive footage. Something along the lines of the stunning 2019 Apollo 11 documentary all the work of British documentarian Asif Kapadia. Except in those cases, the presentation did offer what felt like a spectator’s view on the subject matter. The Princess Diana chronicle has been so thoroughly picked clean that The Princess as a piece of work is not necessarily as effective when judged on this standard. That is not to say it does not have some merit in its own right. The documentary offers a snappy and efficient whistle-stop tour of events that feels a little more emotionally well-rounded than other decidedly-dour takes on the same story. This is especially true when looking at the material showcasing Diana’s impact on the lowest most everyday life-like section of society That said if one is familiar with this style of archive piece there is nothing new here. Granted it is better than all the recent Diana media that isn’t The Crown It probably has a future destined as a school and museum piece.This is perfectly fine in some ways.

Students deserve something with some level of stylistic or content-based merit that’s not going to make them automatically hit the snooze button. That said unless one is an easy sell for interpretations of the Diana tale or is a specific find of this type of archive-focused documentary (as with this viewer) there are easily available stronger examples available on streaming and physical media. Well, it might be objectively better than some of the higher profile Diana projects of recent times The Princess delivers the sort of final product that doesn’t enable it to establish a true identity to establish appeal beyond those predisposed to be interested in the subject matter.
6/10.

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Man VS Bee. Netflix. Review.

Projects like this seem like the kind of thing that it would be easy to take Netflix to task for. The product that causes an avalanche of snarky quote tweets that say certain things with the hope of going viral. Then you have the critics who might have watched the series but we’ll give it one star by birthright. The mere sight of that gurning facial expression Rowan Atkinson does when in character gives them a fight or flight reaction. Then they write a quick over-the-top headline relating to how this project is so without merit it is a reason to cancel your Netflix subscription. There’s one thing neither of the camps will admit Even in his older age Rowan Atkinson still has an audience. After watching Man VS Bee he still has a talent for effective and engaging slapstick construction.
What story is that that the premise doesn’t already imply sees Atkinson play a hopeless house sitter starting his new job looking after a rich smart home for two decidedly posh holidaymakers. Everything looks like it’s going to be fine until the titular Bee comes on the scene and causes Atkinson to get into a variety of slapstick shenanigans trying to kill his winged enemy. Many will hate this on concept and performances alone but Atkinson knows his family audience. Solid all-ages slapstick traverses language and cultural barriers. Thus the opening episode lays out the geography of the house very plainly along with showcasing just how many gleefully over-the-top delightfully dangerous set pieces our central character is going to get into. Watching these play out over 9 short-form episodes is a good time for those who don’t dismiss or think they are above this variety of simple but effective physical humour. After decades in the industry mining, his slapstick persona with similar material Atkinson comes across like an old pro at this stuff. One could say the narrative somewhat defeats its purposes with the winged aggressor being a CG creation. That doesn’t matter The best physical comedy relies on a level of cartoon logic regardless of content. The pratfalls and set pieces are more than effective enough to please an audience that would give a project like this a chance. It’s Effectively Jackass swapping out the exposed male genitalia for a variety of property damage.
The 10-minute episode may be a talking point for some. Watching through this season this viewer did not doubt in his mind that had this been released in 2020 it would have appeared on failed short form streamer Quibi. With each episode effectively being one set piece It’s very much up to the viewer how they decide to watch it. Binge. Singular or a couple of episodes at a time. Atkinson will always be doing something reckless in pursuit of his winged adversary regardless of viewing method. Given the format, the ending feels decidedly rushed. There’s a huge plot reveal that effectively gets brushed past as the final episode barrels towards a conclusion. If this had been a longer series that revelation deserves decidedly more development. That said the whole thing mostly comes across as efficient and effective.
complete package
Man VS Bee is a 90 minutes short-form season of slapstick Rowan Atkinson doing exactly what slapstick Rowan Atkinson does. Does that sound appealing? While you might like this. Does the mere thought of it cause viewers to break out in hives? This is probably best avoided. That said Atkinson and his creative team’s gift for slapstick construction and knowing what an audience expects of him is still present and correct. The audience for who this project is for will likely have a solid time with it and that is perfectly fine. Those that see investments like this as the death of all quality streaming content need not apply.
7/10.

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Lightyear. More Interesting For What It Isn’t.  

As a confessed die-hard Pixar fan on paper, it was great to finally see them back in cinemas. The joy of seeing that little bouncing lamp on the screen was designed to bring this viewer a pang of joy like few other media-related events in 2022. One just wishes it had been with a distinctly more interesting product. No getting around this. Well, Lightyear may not be as bad as some people will tell you it’s a distinctly more interesting film to discuss or misrepresent conceptually than watch. On paper, this being the in-universe feature film that was the inspiration for the toy line that eventually led to Andy being enamoured with Buzz Lightyear sounds just weird enough to be intriguing. In practice what Pixar has done here is make an incredibly straightforward space adventure with a new character that channels some of the same essence and catchphrases of his toy equivalent. Chris Evans’s voice work lacks the distinctly believable yet cartoonish approach that makes Tim Allen’s performance so iconic. If anything in a strange way the film fundamentally misunderstands what the appeal of the original Buzz Lightyear is. The deliberately gibberish mythology that the toy has been programmed to believe simply feeds into his delusions of grandeur. It’s what makes Tom Hanks’s delivery of “YOU ARE A TOY” as the hero’s drive towards Pizza Planet in the original so iconic. Thus making a film based on mythology that’s incoherently generic by design as part of the original humour has a ceiling in terms of final results. It’s hard not to feel that Lightyear definitively hits that ceiling. It’s not to say the new film doesn’t have merit. Pixar continues to creatively one-up themselves in terms of just how gorgeous their animation can feel from a presentation perspective. It’s truly stunning stuff that deserves the biggest screen humanly possible. The 3D transfer here is very solid. Offering strong depth and effective pop-out that these days can only be achieved in a theatrical presentation.

The full like a PG-rated interstellar crossed with the Netflix revival of Lost in Space. As a viewer who watched all three seasons of the latter, there’s something to be said for this kind of reliably solid family genre fare. That’s said when you have a product that is on some level trying to convince the audience of reasons for its existence simply being a solid three-star film will not cut it in this day and age. Especially given that we are dealing with Pixar here and there are the last three demonstrably better films to streaming. This author’s fandom for Pixar and Marvel means he will likely have a Disney Plus subscription for however long the service lasts. Projects like Lightyear would be a perfect fit for streaming. The fact the film has delivered relatively poor box office returns compared to expectations suggests that the pioneers of computer animation may or may not be confined to streaming for the time being. This is a sad state of affairs for a company that was originally ( and still is in some ways) the trendsetter for mainstream computer animation. Some viewers’ knowledge of the medium is largely based on Whatever was the last Pixar film that happened to be released. Much is Pixar has the roar aesthetic ability to make even a lower-tier project like this perfectly serviceable on its terms it’s broadly unremarkable.

Lightyear is that rare case where the memes and internet discourse and confusion around the premise or more interesting and engaging than the film itself. Mobius wishes its online presence could be anything like this engaging. Nevertheless in an age in which Pixar is still capable of achieving greatness Lightyear being their first theatrical release in three years doesn’t feel right. Needless to say, the three Pixar films before this sands theatrical release run circles around this lower tier ( but far from terrible) effort.
6/10.

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Stranger Things. Season 4. Volume 2. Running Up That Endgame Hill. (FULL SPOILERS)

Spoiler warning. Given a large amount of this piece relates to the ending and set-up for the final season this should go without saying The best course of action if readers have not seen the final two episodes to turn away now. Otherwise, you could fall under Vecnas curse.
Let’s get this over with. Having already written over 1000 words on the first seven episodes of the season this fan of the show was super excited to dive into the finale when it was released over the weekend. How was it?
Mostly very satisfying. Two episodes totalling 3 ½ hours without credits is something of a daunting prospect. The developments here don’t fix the problems this season has been faced with thanks to its share scope. Joyce and Hopper in Russia do gain some much-needed momentum in the aftermath of the Demagorgen breakout. Even with the Entirely unnecessary hail-mary of the characters realizing, they need to re-infiltrate the prison having already escaped. Argyle is still around and develops a plot function in the finale. There’s no real explanation for what Brenner has been doing between his first demise and re-introduction or why he’s even back in the first place. The show seems entirely hesitant to kill major characters at this point. All of these can be argued as some level of nit-pick to a major problem. However, that doesn’t matter. When the character moments are this effective and the creative team have enhanced their ability to deliver the best blockbuster entertainment possible from the comfort of viewers’ sofa. The 50-minute second act within the daunting 2-hour 13-minute finale should be held up as a gold standard in terms of how to pay off emotional investments in journeys effectively Breathlessly packed with more impactful crescendoes that you can shake several Demadogs at This is mainstream entertainment at its absolute best. An immense amount of payoff to what has been building throughout the seasons made since season one blew up and changed the standards of what we think of as cinematic TV forever. Any true fan who has developed an affinity for the show’s characters and world-building throughout its run should leave the finale with a certain level of satisfaction.
The bleaker tone of the epilogue and the sense there might be something even darker on the horizon works in terms of providing an appropriately effective end to a much darker season. This viewer would be lying if after a 13-hour journey to get here the soft cliffhanger feels like a prologue to the main show’s endgame. This was in the season’s marketing from day one but This watcher can’t help but think that setting up and ending in that relies so heavily on next season after a 778-minute runtime to get to this point feels like a potentially dicey choice. There’s no reason to suspect The Duffer Brothers won’t stick the landing. Especially with Vecna being this series’ best villain yet and the earthquake bringing The Upside Down into the real world. We will just have to wait and see.
The finale of Stranger Things 4 was a mostly very effective end to a strong season for a show that has always been so much more than what it appears on the surface. Elements of the series formula are present and correct but when they are executed this well it’s hard to complain. A terrifically executed culmination of what has been building throughout the follow-up seasons released since the initial and instant cultural impact first entry. The ending also sets the table nicely for a final season where the show’s best antagonist will eventually come back to a Hawkins that feels post-apocalyptic. This doesn’t make for as of an effectively rounded-off ending as the previous seasons when taking Season 4 in isolation. Especially after the 13-hour journey to reach its conclusion. It’s all over to The Duffer Brothers now. Also, myriad Netflix executives will be desperate to green light all manner of sequels and spinoffs.
8.5/10.

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Projects Like “Men” Bring With Them The Worst Type of Online Film Discourse

Alex Garland at his best is one of the most engaging and propulsive genre screenwriters out there. His ability to combine this with enough metaphorical and interpretive elements to please the analysis over emotional response viewer might be his secret weapon. His slightly ponderous FX mini-series Devs was something of a step back. On paper, Garland’s third feature as director is still an exciting prospect. Jessie Buckley plays a woman on an idealistic journey to a British countryside village. When she gets there she finds herself in an entirely male-populated area. All the characters demonstrate traits of toxic masculinity and are all portrayed by the same actor ( Rory Kinnear.) Cue attempted metaphors.
No beating around the Bush. Men gets a few creativity points for somewhat wild swings within the third act. That said this viewer despises the piece otherwise Imagine throwing most of Garland’s creative credentials out the window. Instead, replace his directorial vision with a hollowed-out husk whose only knowledge of modern genre filmmaking relates to furiously worshipping at the altar of Ari Aster for the thousandth time. They then decamp to Reddit and deliver their interpretation of the various meanings and messages to an audience of increasingly out-of-touch neckbeards. They then wait for the latest Film Festival flavour of the month to come down the pipe to appeal to an audience of no one outside their specific bubble. A selection of Garland’s previous work also cultivated this audience but there was a level of organicness in terms of weaving this within the text of the narrative. how they gained an audience. Now Garland and his creative team know exactly how to tailor their work to this audience. These watchers would not know what any degree of populism in filmmaking look like if it slapped them in the face like a wet fish.

Trapped in this excruciatingly pretentious endurance test are two commendable performances from Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear. They are at least trying to sell a script that has nothing to say and takes a long time to say it over a decidedly overstretched 100 minutes. Bezel so the question of whether it’s a good idea to trap an up-and-coming British Oscar nominee in a film fundamentally meant to be an examination of the male gaze that yet was assembled by a creative team with mostly Y chromosomes. This is a thornier issue and a different discussion.
There may be some level of mildly grotesque spectacle in the film’s climax There are admittedly flashes of what makes Alex Garland such an effective genre writer. That said one also has to factor in that given how the narrative has played up until this point it also is indicative of the most boring way possible this story could have reached its conclusion. The juxtaposition of these two factors makes the third act generally nowhere near as strong as it should be. Given this is the only element of the film worth recommending if one is not willing to put in the time to attempt to evaluate the ridiculously overwrought and pretentiously ponderous metaphors this fact is very disappointing.
The limited merit in the third act may prevent Men from being a true worst of the year contender along with The Bubble and Deep Water. That said it doesn’t prevent it from being the singularly most disappointing film of 2022 thus far. A naked and calculated play for an audience that has no genuine grasp on what general viewers would want to see outside of their specific bubble. A piece that will directly alienate anyone that does not want to earnestly engage with its half-hearted attempts at “deeper” meaning. The two central performers might be trying hard to sell it to the audience but even they can’t effectively elevator the film beyond the realm of thinking it’s much smarter than it is. Unless one belongs to the type of online film communities that benefit most from a feature like Men do not waste any time with it or indulge in any of its eyewatering self-indulgence
3/10.

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Spiderhead. Quick Review

Top Gun: Maverick has been sitting on the shelf for so long that the director Joseph Kosinski the meantime has made this Netflix thriller starring Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller. They played a doctor and one of the patients at a medical facility using convicts as Guinea pigs for a series of drug trials at the remote island penitentiary of the title Throw in a screenplay by dead Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and one might think this is Netflix’s latest attempt to astroturf its way on the world of blockbuster film making. Except it’s not. With the limited mostly interior-focused locations, Spiderhead has the feel of one of those COVID lockdown-induced bottle thrillers that just happens to have a couple of big names attached. On paper, this seems like an interesting change of pace for Kosinski whose filmography thus fun revels so completely in the big screen experience. Unfortunately, this suggests that Spidered is more interesting or has any grasp on what it wants to do or say. All the themes one might expect from this sort of base-level morality-focused narrative are discussed but without any major conviction. There are also moments where proceedings invest in broad shock humour that have Reese and Wernick touches all over them. This is a piece that on some level wants to be propulsive and engaging but is somewhat let down by its inbuilt limitation. Above all else, the entire package is not a lot more than a middling episode of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror. There’s enough intrigue set up in the opening act that the majority of viewers will want to see the film through to a conclusion. That said much as Spiderhead is far from the worst thing ever it is symptomatic of the kind of star-driven middling genre fare that Netflix has become synonymous with over the past several years. The kind of project designed to squat at the top of Netflix charts for a week and then be distinctly forgotten will exist in a couple of years with Netflix currently going through an attempted course correction remains to be seen. For the time being in terms of new releases, Netflix subscribers can only watch what has been put in front of them. Perpetual mediocrity This will have alienated millions of viewers outside of those like this reviewer who has decided to write this piece and slap his Desired rating at the bottom of its conclusion. Despite the star power here there’s nothing to explicitly recommend or any suggestion that Kosinski and his team just put out one of the most jaw-dropping cinematic experiences of recent memory. In contrast, viewers will forget Spiderhead exists minutes after the credits roll.
5/10.

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Good Luck To You Leo Grande. Very Quick Review

An ageing , sexually restrained and widowed former secondary school teacher (Emma Thompson) hires a free-spirited sex worker (Daryl McCormack) in this stagey but pleasant romantic comedy. The piece doesn’t offer much beyond watching the two central characters meet in the same hotel room on four occasions ( hence the somewhat theatrical feel to proceedings.) That said the core strengths still site shines through. Thankfully they are absolutely the kind of things viewers will be looking for in this kind of limited location project. The two central characters have a sharp, engaging and funny rapport party that’s very entertaining to watch play out. It helps that both central performances remain excellent throughout. The script also approaches themes of body positivity and normalisation within sex work as well as the number of thorny questions inherent within the premise with a level of respect, tact and honesty. If the full package has a flaw however it’s that the narrative ultimately does not have that much progression across its running time. This is one of the sorts of films where just reading the synopsis or watching the trailer gives you a pretty exact idea of every theme and narrative beat that is going to hit. Despite the consistently amusing dialogue and incredibly strong performances, the full feature does nothing to dissuade these thoughts. This viewer was left with the impression the proceedings would have been much more impactful as a short film. Even at a relatively brisk 97 minutes things feel stretched and lacking the impact they should at times. A textbook example of a film is mostly solid in its current form but feels like some reworking could be a ½ step away from true greatness. In its current form, the film is solid and most definitely worth viewers’ time That said Good Luck To You Leo Grande is a prime example of seeing the possibility for a truly transcendent piece in a final film as solid but not as good as it should be. With a shorter more focused rum time this could have been something exceptional.
7.5/10.

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Jurassic World: Dominion. Disappointed Fan Review.

Ever since this viewer first, saw it as part of a 2011 UK cinema re-release the original Jurassic Park has been in his top five favourite films. The ground-breaking effects may be starting to look like a product of their time but the sheer scale and construction of the set-piece sequences still have the power to create cinematic wonder all these years later. The original sequels have their moments and one really funny meme (Alan) This fan hot take on the franchise might be that when taken overall the soft reboot of the Jurassic World movies might have resulted in a better set of sequels than the original offerings before the release of Domain as the supposed final entry. Solid B movies that offer an engaging slice of Dino spectacle without indulging in talking Raptors. Dominion sees the return of director Colin Trevorrow after The Book of Henry should have euthanized his career multiple times over. Not to mention the return of the original trio of main characters from the classic original. . Following on from Fallen Kingdoms cliff-hanger that dinosaurs were now out in the wild. The pretty overwhelming negative reception wasn’t an immediate turn-off. Fallen Kingdom debuted to a majority negative reception and that film has its moments. Thus this viewer put on his 3D glasses and entered the cinema with a relatively open mind. How was the film?
Mostly very disappointing. Granted not as bad as some people will tell you or even at the worst in Colin Trevorrow’s filmography ( he did make one of the worst and most baffling films of all time.) Yet the newest entry’s critical failure is assuming there has been enough mythology set up in the preceding five films to pull off this kind of era spanning the closing chapter with a modicum of effectiveness. The opening 90 minutes are flat-out terrible. Indulging in overly pleased with itself yet basic worldbuilding installed by Fallen Kingdom and the return of various Jurassic World characters who were always a little bit thin in the development department. Things get a little bit better once the World cast and the original crew are united within the same location but bafflingly they’re still kept apart for a portion of the runtime. As with all the films in this series, it does deliver some solid Dino-based blockbuster spectacle. At this point, though after sitting through 90 minutes of gibberingly overwritten nonsense the payoff might be worth it in isolation but certainly not as a conclusion to a six-film decade-spanning multiple trilogy franchise. Yes, it’s not as bad as The Book of Henry ( very few things are.) However, the fact Colin Trevorrow continues to have a career in Hollywood after his last two films is a little bit mystifying. It will be interesting to see if the creative disappointments here will be his final chance.
From the perspective of someone who will go to bat for the first two films in its trilogy Jurassic World: Dominion is not as bad as you might have heard. That doesn’t make it particularly good either. It spends a solid 2/3 of its running time misunderstanding the fundamental appeal and spectacle of the series across both its trilogies. Audiences don’t go to a Jurassic Park film expecting some incredibly basic yet endlessly overwritten mythology. They want to see a B movie involving Dinosaurs stomping on things and causing general destruction. Dominion does deliver the latter after taking far too long to finally get there. It’s far too late to save the film from being anything other than a mediocre disappointment. Especially as the supposed conclusion to the series as a whole. It’s hard not to think the franchises are too lucrative not to be back in some form. Whatever form that takes the original that started it all will always be a masterpiece. The sequels are entirely optional.
4/10

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Top Gun: Maverick Is What The Big Screen Was Built For.

The original Top Gun is a perfect example of a film that will go down to a certain established audience ( mostly dads) as an undeniable classic. Others will see it as a concentrated blast of 80s machismo. The hilariously obvious homoeroticism on display is the only thing that can ever be considered timeless. Yet 36 years after the original’s release Tom Cruise for all his shenanigans is one of the few movie stars that matter in 2022. His re-brand of the Mission Impossible movie series into a spectacle-focused craftsmanship-based stunt series has resulted in some of the very best franchise filmmaking in recent years. The question was could Cruse and his creative team apply some of the same formulae within the context of a Top Gun legacy sequel. The original Top Gun still seems like far too much of a kitsch item on paper as the basis for a truly effective follow-up. That said the early IMAX footage placed in front of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was incredibly technically impressive. So the opportunity to get to see the full feature in that format was high on this viewer’s list of activities as part of a day trip. Did Cruise and this madman-like commitment to big-screen entertainment deliver?
Most definitely. Top Gun: Maverick is an incredible piece of work. The sort of thing that reminds an audience what a truly dedicated set of professionals can achieve without the need to disappear up their ass or appeal exclusively to the A24 crowd. The films most inexplicable achievement is most definitely mining so much emotional heft out of a very standard set of plot beats With their basis in nothing more than what is a mildly endearing time capsule. Yet it’s hard to complain when Maverick’s final product will have enough to please an audience that does consider the original Top Gun some kind of warped masterpiece. Yet regardless of context, the sequel is far more effective and efficient at crafting this kind of “old guard teaches new class” follow-up. There’s nothing here audiences have not seen before but the execution both on a fundamental and emotional level is note-perfect.
This is before we even discuss the jaw-dropping IMAX cinematography The aerial sequences were the one unquestionably strong element of the original film. with Cruises new found career focusing on offering audiences stunt and spectacle based set-piece driven entertainment meant for the biggest screen possible The dogfights in the new entry have been seriously beefed up Even on a relatively small IMAX screen, it was one of the greatest cinema experiences of this viewer’s life. To say the film’s use of IMAX ratio is reference quality is a massive understatement. Roughly half the film is mastered for the full real estate of the IMAX screen. Experiencing the flying sequences and training missions as they were meant to be seen is genuinely awe-inspiring. An adrenaline-pumping, hair-raising transcendent experience. Especially given a breathless final act which is the unbelievably impressive film at the absolute height of its powers to enthral audiences. The sort that will be watched and admired for decades to come. It’s hard to think about where Cruse can even go from here after creating two films bound to go down as classics within action cinema with Maverick and Mission Impossible: Fallout The first half of Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning was already this viewer’s most anticipated summer film for 2023. On the back of having seen Top Gun Maverick twice that excitement has only intensified. For every Scientology-related couch-jumping embarrassment you can throw at Tom Cruise his modern output is why the big screen exists.
It’s worth noting that his part of the prep for writing this review this author wanted to see how the sequel held up on a regular Theatrical screen. He deliberately chose one of the most generic available to him within hey city. The surprise was how the film still managed to retain its breathless excitement even without the use of The IMAX enhanced aspect ratio. Great films can still be great even if they are not necessarily presented in the most optimum circumstances or presentation.
Top Gun: Maverick is marvellous. A breathless optimization of what makes Tom Cruise’s modern brand of spectacle-focused entertainment pretty much untouchable at its best. It may not be breaking any ground by sticking to its very distinct formula but there’s enough here to please multiple audience expectations and deliver emotional beats stunningly effectively that it doesn’t matter. The fact that all of this has been achieved with its basis in a slightly kitschy novelty item of the original might be the most impressive thing of all. Go and find the largest and loudest scream possible to immerse yourself in a film that truly utilises what the big screen was built to accomplish. The fact this author is saying this about a sequel to Top Gun of all things has major “I don’t make the rules” energy.
10/10

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Benediction. Very Quick Review.

One of the latest instances of British #filmtwitter getting behind films with otherwise limited commercial appeal is this unconventional biopic from director Terrence Davis. Jack Loudon and Peter Capaldi play older and younger versions of the renowned WWI anti-war poet Siegfried Sassoon. Starting in the period immediately following Sassoon’s psychiatric evaluation due to his anti-war stance the narrative flits in and out at various points during his life. We see Sassoon interact with various cultural figures from the time. He battles his faith as well as romantic and interpersonal demons. It is superbly performed especially by Loudon who can deliver both sterling renditions of Sassoon’s poetry over archive footage and powerful renditions of scripted dramatized segments. This is especially true in a very strong first act which hits the beats one might expect for these kinds of stories but does so in a way that offers an emotionally resonant window into the subject’s life. As things progress however the pacing becomes more sluggish and decidedly televisual. Somewhere between a great pound drama and a blatant play for BAFTA recognition. There’s enough core strength to suggest the film might still be worth a viewing if one is particularly interested in the subject matter. That said this will be filling a Sunday night slot on BBC Two in two to three years with a moderate amount of fanfare. The beating heart and central performances deserve more than a complete package that ultimately lets itself down.
6/10.

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Bo Burnham. The Inside Outtakes. Review/Impressions.

This viewer has been a fan of Bo Burnham for years. However, because there tends to be such a large gap between solo projects the release of Inside last year with the first time he got any coverage on this blog specifically. For the first anniversary of the piece’s release, Burnham put together a selection of outtakes be row alternative versions and new sketches To the collective name the inside Outtakes. These were put up for free on YouTube. The new material takes advantage of the release format inserting several hilarious fake adverts that would not work in any other presentation There’s plenty of great new stuff here across both the video outtakes project and the accompanying album. The audio exclusive content includes extended, alternate and newly composed songs from the process of making the main special. If one is looking for an effective safe-for-work musical entry point into a Burnham-style closing song The Chicken might be the best his catalogue has to offer. Dark and poignant yet also unbelievably silly and mimetically memorable. It’s Burnham’s work distilled to its essence without some of the more risqué material that will rub certain audiences the wrong way.

That said well there’s plenty here to recommend this is the first Burnham project in the 10-plus years this fan has been following him where the machinations of the marketing machine to get this thing out there that goes against everything Burnham’s creative persona stands for. Merch drops related specifically to new material from the Outtakes project. Check. Multiple reissues of the album focusing exclusively on the unreleased songs or pairing it with the previously released regular edition for the definitive Inside experience. This bleeds into the video version of the Outtakes as well.

In this way, it Will always be interesting to see a project like this come together. That said the decision to integrate the B roll with a selection of new and alternative material struck this viewer as something that will only truly appeal to hardcore fans. Smashing together two distinctly different projects into one super project that is still ultimately only an addendum to the main piece. This smacks of the knowledge from Burnham and the team behind him that he can put out anything and swaths of his audience will lap it up regardless. As the man himself says in the first 60 seconds of the main special. “ Daddy made you some content. It’s a beautiful day to stay inside. ” It would not be untrue to say this lyric was floating around this viewer’s head as we watched another mildly intriguing but ultimately for superfans only piece involving Burnham fiddling with his various equipment. There’s plenty of merit to releasing this kind of side project and some of the individual pieces are worth spotlighting. As a whole, it falls at the bottom of Burnham’s solo creative output. It never quite escapes its origins as a collection of b-sides. Espesashaly when taken through the sort of singular vision lens that has benefited the majority of Burnham’s previous work. This is perfectly fine. Ultimately those in the tank for a project like this will likely leave the Inside Outtakes heartily satisfied. That said it won’t change the minds of anyone not automatically on board with Burnham’s vision and may give them more material to shout down his fans across the world.

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The Northman. Quick Review(Suggestive Spoilers)

Robert Eggers is one of the brand of filmmakers that gets treated like a messiah on certain film discussion portions of the internet. His films are for the hugely pretentious built-for analysis over genuine substance crowd that loves his brand of purely aesthetic-driven filmmaking. Eggers will always have a devoted cult audience that will treat each new project of his like some sort of rebirth for organised religion. Even if the products themselves are ridiculously niche. This writer would say the same thing about the hugely overrated but admirable work of Ari Aster but that’s a conversation for another day. The prospect of giving Eggers a studio budget seems like a wet dream for a certain type of online film nerd with no genuine grasp of what audiences outside the hyper-specific circle of contacts want to see. That said despite treating the release with some level of cynicism this author can’t deny that the trailer campaign was stunning. Maybe this would be the film to convince him that Eggers Work had an audience beyond the type of film festival watcher that’s going to eat all his work of that plate with a spoon and then ask for more. How was the film?
Both more and significantly less than this author’s expectation. There’s no denying a lot of the craftsmanship and aesthetic elements of the presentation are effective and admirable. Eggers delivers a film that’s abrasive, brutal and badass in all of the best ways for this sort of genre fare. That said the incredibly single-minded filmmaking will be incredibly hard to swallow for those directly on board. There are only so many times you can watch Alexander Skarsgard and his company of Vikings go about their bloodsoaked business before those not on board with the one dim tone will start to find proceedings a little dull. The finale is two naked men having a full-frontal sword battle on top of an active volcano. Now imagine layering a functionally impressive but caustic vocal and instrumental score on top of the final confrontation. The film has stayed at that one register for the previous two hours. In some ways, the piece is nothing other than a parody of itself. Then the certain watches that had already branded the film a masterpiece before they’d even seen it on directories name alone will be amazed when the film underperforms at the box office. To be successful with the kind of budget at play here something like The Northmen needs to have a broader appeal than the type of audience described in this piece. This was something that Robert Eggers was clearly and simply not interested in. Thus he gets the underwhelming box office that much as online film discourse would not like to admit it is probably accurate for this sort of single-minded one-dimensional affair.
The Northmen is a perfect example of the fact those already predisposed to like its specific style and presentation we’ll get something out of it regardless of what anyone else thinks. However, that same audience will get angry when the film underperforms at the box office because the final product realistically has very limited appeal outside of a bubble of potential viewers who will lap it up. Eggers can have his cult fanbase of audiences that think the A24 logo is a birthright rather than a simple distribution company. There were things to admire in Eggers’s big studio-backed swing That said this viewer would be lying if he didn’t acknowledge there were sections of the film so fixed on providing one thinmg border on a joke at times.
6/10

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Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022) Review

The Lonely Islands comedic output may be decidedly uneven but the great stuff on the crew’s creative CV does stick out. From the early Internet memetics of the SNL shorts that found a global audience, The brilliant cult favourite Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and the underrated time travel rom-com Palm Springs. For every one-joke song or film that doesn’t work there’s something great as a counterpoint. On paper director, Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg working with Disney might seem like an odd fit. That’s before one remembers they have a foot in IP-centric family movies having already worked on songs for The Lego Movie and its sequel with Lord and Miller. Thus when Schaffer’s update of the Disney Afternoon animated series started getting some solid reviews this viewer figured it was worth checking out. Even if the main credited writers were behind the abominable Robert Downey Jr version of Doolittle. Were they able to redeem themselves?
Definitely. On one level this new incarnation of Chip and Dale is what might be expected. A fairly straightforward neo-noir influenced Roger Rabbit riff. Except in this world, it is implied that cartoon characters have genuine interpersonal lives beyond simply being extensions of the mythology, characterization and world-building audiences see on screen. Thus not only can Roger Rabbit himself have a cameo. He could theoretically interact with the characters in a way that goes beyond the typical “Hey. You recognise this thing” of Space Jam: A New Legacy and its ilk.
No getting around this. The new Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers is completely bonkers in the best way possible. If it was simply What it looked to be on the surface it might still be relatively solid As a parody of hard-boiled detective narratives. The thing that makes it over the top is the reference humour. This might sound like a counterproductive statement. On one level reference, humour offers nothing more than a cheap acknowledgement of a particular movie or franchise and nothing more than that( cue the Captain America meme.) Here the writers utilize appearances from across the animation and celebrity industry in hilarious ways. Imagine if Eric Kripke’s version of The Boys universe and the final act of The Cabin in the Woods had a PG-rated baby with one another. Instead of using generic representations of copyrighted figures or inventing your own in a way that’s just different enough to skirt around protocols here the creative team have somehow got permission for A smorgasbord of characters from a variety of rights holders to make appearances even if it’s full a matter of frames. Combine this with a script that feels written by people that know their animation but are willing to poke merciless fun at various stylistic incarnations. The results are glorious. Even if part of the underlying amusement comes from the mental image of seeing a roomful of Disney’s legal team staring with abject horror at the final draft of this script. The fact the film exists in the form it does is honestly hugely impressive in a certain way. As long as one isn’t too tied up within the idea of reference humour in and of itself is not being an inherently bad thing the film is a great time,
Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers takes what could be a very safe nostalgia sequel and inject it with enough deranged energy to fill multiple projects several times over. It Won’t win over those fundamentally opposed to its very specific style of meta-commentary. Those that stick with it will find a genuinely hilarious piece of entertainment. Well, there’s a certain level of corporate synergy here there are more than enough weird edges to be perversely impressed that the creative team got away with Presenting the final product in the way they did. It’s also that despite most Disney Plus originals being terrible streaming-only gives you the runway. Good to great films can flourish even with the direct-to-consumer model in which potential viewers don’t even have to leave their couch. The irony is this viewer would have loved to have seen the 2022 Rescue Rangers in a cinema with a large crowd of animation lovers. Outside of The obligatory Post Malone cover of the theme song, it’s the kind of thing that would benefit from a large collective experience in the best way possible.
8.5/10

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Father Stu. Quick Review.

The prospect of an even nominally faith-based film will give certain audiences an allergic reaction regardless of whatever content or merits the actual piece has. One way filmmakers could in theory get around this is by offering a distinctly harder-edged alternative to religious-centric stories. Enter this Mark Wahlberg vanity project directed by Mel Gibson’s girlfriend ( and featuring the man himself as the protagonist’s alcoholic father) based on the “ inspiring” True story of Father Stuart Long. The criminal bad knuckle boxer who eventually became a dedicated Catholic priest before his diagnosis of Motor Neuron Disease and death far too young.
The thing this film taught me as a viewer is if you want to make A religious movie with rough edges cast actors that can so easily slide into caricature. No getting around it the first half of this film feels like an R-rated sketch/parody of “inspiration porn” narratives. At its best one might say that director Rosalind Ross is going for a very poor man’s David O Russell impression. At its worst, It’s like an R-rated version of Andy Samberg’s “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals” sketch. Instead, he’s now convincing the animals to become Catholic.

Another early scene early on has Mel Gibson being hyper-aggressive as he is stuck in traffic ending with him throwing out a slur to the person in the car next to him. All of this is jointly and jovially soundtracked as the piano line to Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5 comes in. This watcher felt ashamed for getting an incredibly dark but very hearty laugh from the juxtaposition. It once again brings up the question of whether or not the filmmakers have any self-awareness whatsoever when putting this thing together. This writer honestly isn’t sure.
In its second half, the things change family drastically playing up the More respectable religious side of the narrative. The problem is the tonal shift is decidedly earnest and very much at odds with what the film was trying to do in its opening stretches. Thus it’s in a weird nether region. Too close to parody in its attempt to offer a hard-edged version of these kinds of projects. Also far too earnest in the delivery once it gets past a cerin to appeal to anyone beyond the hardcore religious conservatives who would support media like this. It’s a very odd mixture that never comes close to coalescing in the way the filmmakers envisioned.
Father Stu is a decidedly odd beast. Far too close to dark comedy in its attempt to offer a harsher take on this kind of faith narrative. Yet far too sappy and earnest to appeal to anyone beyond the typical audience for this kind of story. The piece has already been a deserved box office bomb. There’s no reason to give it any kind of validity.
4/10.

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Stranger Things 4. Volume 1 Blockbuster Entertainment at it’s Most Bombastic and Ambitious (Review) Suggestive Spoilers

 Note. Suggestive spoilers ahead. It’s probably best to come back to this review  after finishing the seven episodes that make  up this release. 

Just after the midpoint within the return of the one Netflix show remaining that has not been prematurely cancelled after two/ three seasons there is what has to be the TV moment of the year so far. A character escapes the curse put on her by the villain. She uses a mixture of friendship, determination and sheer force of will to determine that she will not meet her end at the hands of the season’s new big bad. The buildup has been expertly handled but the payoff as she attempts to escape the spell put on her that could easily result in the character giving in and embracing death. It is utterly spectacular. There’s a harsh cut to black without revealing what the outcome of the set-piece is. This viewer was sat on his sofa knowing the episode could well end here resulting in one of the most aggravating yet brilliant TV cliffhangers of recent memory. Then, cutting back to the real world the character falls to the floor with the curse broken and the character is safe surrounded by the members of the ensemble that have been part of this particular plot thread. It’s an utterly enthralling and expertly handled 5 minutes. That said what has been the main talking point in the wider media discussion around this sequence ( and the new batch of episodes as a whole.) It is soundtracked by an orchestral remix of Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush The track had been established as a recurring plot point as the character’s favourite song along with the fact music has the ability to beet the monster. This is the perfect example of launching swaths of the wider discussion around this show being purely driven by the nostalgia elements. In reality, this shows ability to remix various elements of pop mythology into its own story with fun characters, great dynamics, engaging performances and strong world-building. Yet the 80s coat of paint is all section of the wider audience can think on.
Stranger Things is easily in this watcher’s personal top three for currently ongoing streaming TV series. Season 2 might have some missteps but 1 and 3 are perfect for what they are trying to be. There was a sense of “where do you go from here?” after season three. The conventional episode runtimes were starting to sag under the weight of so much stuff going on at any one time. The answer for the hotly anticipated season 4 after a three-year COVID induced hiatus is to increase the runtime to fit the enormous scope. Not to mention a far darker tone well still keeping the adventurous core and fun dynamics of what makes Stranger Things resonate with so many( 80s pop culture aficionado or otherwise.) The central plot especially is easily the best and most intense material that has been accomplished thus far while still feeling like a narrative and maturity related extension of what has come before. It’s fantastic stuff. The main pre-release bone of contention seemed to be the extended episode runtimes ( 5of the 6 regular episodes here comfortably hit 70-75 minutes without credits.) Not counting the undisputably feature-length volume one finale ( the first of three that finish the season Not to mention the $30 million per episode productions budget have been used by some as a proverbial stick with which to Beat Netflix accountants o the head by some online. Certain audiences and commentators will never change their minds. That said having seen having these episodes much as a lot of the side plots have things to nitpick at and criticise the sheer scope and scale Of what creators The Duffer Brothers are attempting to do here cannot be understated. . To say the results are mostly incredibly effective is a massive understatement. That said with such a huge palette to work with there are some casualties along the way. One of the season’s initial 3 core plots remains decidedly disconnected from the others even after 539 minutes of viewing time. Episodes can go long stretches without two continuous scenes from the same strand of the narrative. Johnathan’s new stoner friend adds absolutely nothing. For the most part, however, this is the sort of blockbuster event piece that combines character, scope and spectacle in a way that most movie and TV studios can only dream of. It might not be quite as well-formed and packaged as the previous seasons but the very best stuff in these episodes is the show at the very height of its powers. The final beat of the 93-minute Volume 1 finale might be convoluted and obvious to some but sets the stage for a truly epic finish.

After the disappointment of the Ozark finale and the weekly dumping of mediocre movies and the general sense, the streaming landscape has moved on from the Netflix model. One of the pioneers of the streaming platform returns and rightfully takes it takes his throne as among the best Original programming the modern streaming landscape has to offer. There’s the question as to whether or not the final four hours of this gargantuan return will stick the landing. Given how well the best material in these seven episodes land there’s nothing here to suggest the two-part finale won’t be an epic of world-shattering proportions. The season thus far might fall victim to its sheer scope at times. That said but at several points, it is good as long-form serialised blockbuster entertainment can be. Bring on the finale
8.5/10.

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Deep Water. Quick Review.

Ben Affleck is the serial killer to his promiscuous wife (Ana de Armas) lovers in this incredibly po-faced attempt at “elevated trash.” A Fox cast off this thing has been relegated to streaming for very good reason. Judd Apatow’s The Bubble might be the worst film of the year but this is certainly the most profoundly dull. The narrative desperately wants to resurrect the erotic thriller for a modern audience. Instead what emerges is an atrocity that treats the trashy and thin material with such an undeserved reverence that it borders on parody. Much is the two lead actors are trying to sell it their chemistry has all the sex appeal of dental surgery. This viewer started to question how on earth they even ended up together in the first place. then there’s a third act that feels lacking a conclusion in an attempt just to get this thing out the door. The end credits revealed that Sam Levinson. has a co-writing credit on this dumpster fire. This makes an absurd amount of sense. Especially given the attempted highbrow but realistically low brow tonal mess of the entire project. This critic can’t even begin to comprehend the complete mess that is the half of Euphoria Season 2 that he has seen. That’s a piece for another day. The other core factor the makers of Deep Water, don’t seem to want to acknowledge is the fact the modern erotic serial killer thriller already has a resurrection. It’s the Lifetime/Netflix series You. That said, because. The latter embraces its trashy elements with a genuine sense of humour I’m genuinely compelling lead performances. Even at its most meandering in season three, You was able to deliver three of the best episodes of 2021 to finish that season off with a massive flourish. Penn Badgley and Victoria Pedretti have more chemistry in their little finger than. Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas do several times over. If one is. desperate for some elevated trash on the big screen Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta is available. The latter features an item used in a specific way that you will never be able to unsee. Deep Water, wishes it has that level of relevance. As opposed to being a deservedly berried incredibly pretentious embarrassment./
Even if one is desperate To see the return of modern mainstream erotica to the world of movie star feature film making don’t see Deep Water. A major embarrassment for everyone involved that has been tucked away so that it has the least amount of exposure or potential career damage as possible.
1/10

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Fresh. Quick Review

This reviewer heard some buzz regarding this Fox/Disney acquisition from Sundance when it premiered. Given it’s an adult-orientated movie from the House of Mouse it forgoes theatrical release and is sent straight to streaming. Daisy Edgar Jones plays a central character struggling with the perils of modern dating. She meets Sebastian Stan in a supermarket meet-cute. Things progressed to the point where he takes her away for a weekend. In this viewer’s opinion, that’s all that should be known going in. It’s a shame that one of the film’s key poster campaigns gives a very obvious hint as to where the narrative might be going. Especially considering its 35 minutes before the title sequence and any sort of vague hint as to what the hook of the story entails. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this hook. Edgar Jones and Stan deliver solid performances and the film’s transformation from anti-romcom to contained location thriller are mostly solid enough. That said unfortunately the plot is never really able to take advantage of what ends up becoming the central gimmick in the way it should. This is not exclusively in its hesitance towards any gore. With strong enough writing, the restraint in terms of what is shown onscreen could prove an effective tool. This is not the case here. Not to say the choices made don’t have momentum or the sense of wanting to see how the third act resolves itself. It’s more that while solid enough you have seen this kind of film before. It could be diving head first into the more grungy side of the story or showcasing a more restrained character-focused approach. Fresh does neither and ends up in an awkward middle ground as a result. Given the strength of the central performances, there’s the general sense the film should be better than it is. It’s far from awful and potentially worth a look if you like this specific variety of paranoid limited location storytelling. That said with a more defined focus in terms of the exact tone the narrative wanted to hit this could have been so much better.
6/10

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Ozark. Season 4. Part 2. A Frustrating Finish.

Note. Although this doesn’t include any direct spoilers it might be best to turn around until readers have seen the ending.
No beating around the bush with this one. You can check out this blog’s previous Ozark reviews if you want this author’s thoughts on Season 4 Part 1 All the cards looked in place for a potentially strong finish. Did they stick the landing?
Not really. On one level these final episodes and especially the finale aren’t as bad as some may have you believe. This watcher would argue that from a pure plot perspective something approximating the plot points covered would have been a solid endi0ng always how the show was going to end. The problem is the writers have had such a pension first shock deaths throughout the show run that they’re stuck scrambling to introduce new characters this close to the end of the series when these particular story roles could have been filled by previously established figures and performances that were previously taken off the board. This means that the new threats do not have time to establish themselves or their story impact before they are inevitably called upon to fulfil their narrative role. By the end of the third episode, most of the set-up in the season’s first half has been dustbined for alternatives that are similar but not identical The other thing these final episodes are strangely obsessed with is Rian Johnson’s style “subversive for subversive stake” storytelling. A lot of time is spent establishing potential alternative happy endings for the Byrde family and those around them. Only for the finale to snap back to an ending that might be more in keeping with the tone of the show overall but also feels like a weird betrayal. The genuine ending doesn’t have the build-up or impact it should The performances may still be commendable despite the flip-flopping writing. The production is still generally committed to keeping the visual aesthetic of the show. That said this is endlessly frustrating viewing that even if it stuck the landing would only result in half the show being above average.
Ozark season 4 part two was endlessly frustrating viewing. Somewhere within the skeleton of these seven episodes, there is a solid ending that feels tonally in keeping with what has come before. In a way that’s very much the ending that viewers got. However, the journey to get there
was packed with wildly shifting tones And the writer’s clear realisation that they do not have enough characters left alive for their overall ending to work effectively. Thus although the final beats feel in keeping with this show as a whole they feel strangely distant from this half-season when taken in isolation. Especially with these final episodes’ wildly shifting landscape.
Season 3 might be one of this author’s favourite individual seasons of any Netflix show. That said this watcher would have a difficult time recommending Ozark as a whole. Unless one was really in the mood for a mid-tier family crime drama. Only 17 Of the shows 44 episodes rose above average Given the potential shown by the strong stretch leading up to the conclusion the fact he didn’t stick the landing is still a rather large disappointment.
Season 4. Part 2 Rating. 5/10.
Season 4 Overall. 6/10
Ozark. Final Rating 6/10

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Senior Year. Quick Review.

For her incredibly limited comedic range, this writer will also stand up for the fact that in the right role Rebel Wilson can be genuinely funny. Maybe this is only because this critic is willing to go to bat for her breakout role in the first two Pitch Perfects as being genuinely great. Maybe it’s because she’s capable of delivering some occasional solid zingers. Nothing about her general perception or sense that her team make genuinely below average films is changing. Especially with this excruciatingly lame. “thirtysomething goes to high school” comedy. After being stuck in a 20 year coma Willson’s character wakes up thinking it is still 2001 and desperate. to finish her senior year of high school. You can plot every single beat. from that single sentence. To be entirely fair the film does have one idea. with some comedic potential. This is its attempted satirical commentary on the amount of creativity stifled within the results-based school culture. If you want to see this done effectively look at Jemima Kirke’s season-long guest arc as the new headmistress in Sex Education season 3. Unfortunately. Senior Year’s comedic styling is more along the lines of” How do you do fellow 20120s kids Weren’t the early 2000s a different time.” Sam Richardson has none of the charisma he showed, so effectively in Werewolfvs Within. Justin Hartley plays the same character he has spent six seasons deconstructing and reconstructing on This Is Us. His performance would not be out of place on Kevin Peterson’s “The Manny.” All of this is soundtracked to the most generic studio mandated playlist of early 2000 pop culture hits. Including a mandatory appearance of The Bad Touch by Bloodhound Gang. The sense of humour has the feel of someone discovering the titular song and thinking the central line of the chorus that everyone remembers is the funniest thing they’ve ever heard.
3/10

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RRR. (Rise, Roar, Revolt) Quick Review.

Full disclosure. This writer is not expressly familiar with this variety of Indian action movies. That said the week that this three-hour epic focusing on two revolutionaries as they fight the villainous British in the 1920s dropped around the world it started gaining a lot of crossover buzz. So at a loose end one afternoon this author decided to take in a screening and see what all the fuss was about. What did he find?
Oh boy. This is a lot of movie. Throughout the extended runtime, our two heroes take on pantomime esque villains, indulging in ridiculously badass over the top action, and getting involved in dance battles. Then there is a musical sequence involving public flogging and an extended final battle that just oozes cool. All of this sounds like a tonally inconsistent disaster on paper. The thing is the piece completely runs with its wild narrative and tonal shifts expecting viewers to come along for the ride. It certainly helps that the sense of scale is up on the screen for all viewers to see. Knowing this got an IMAX 3D release in some territories made this author incredibly jealous. See this on the biggest screen possible if you can. The wild shifts and tone won’t be for everyone but the film is so self-assured with the way it presents its tone to the audience This is something that has big potential for crossover on the global market. Watching the gloriously self-aware yet insane ridiculous antics play out on screen with me and one of the couples there to experience it is one of this viewer’s favourite cinema viewing experiences of 2022 thus far. There are sequences here so gloriously insane that describing them with the written word would make them sound too silly. Yet here they are in all their big-screen glory. Given that the film is 3 hours the pacing does dip somewhat around the halfway mark. Yet the pacing comes roaring back with its trademark level of flair.
RRR won’t be for everyone. It’s too tonally inconsistent and ridiculous to appeal to those that exclusively grade their films based on analytical/thematic merit. That said the people who it is for will have a great time. A 187 minutes splatter painting containing every wild tonal shift one might be able to think of. Yet delivered with an unbelievably entertaining sense of self-confidence that most Hollywood films would dream of.
8.5/10

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Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off. Very Quick Review.

This viewer covered an incredibly mediocre celebrity adjacent documentary with a Netflix effort on Abercrombie and Fitch. Now let’s cover a much better genuine example. Tony Hawk: Until The Wheels Fall Off has one of the most striking openings of any film released in recent memory regardless of platform. The audience witnesses current day Tony Hawk in a purpose-built skating arena attempting and mostly not landing a series of stunts and tricks. These surely must be taking a toll on his body and general health at his age. Yet the kinetically edited sequence is a perfect approximation of the ethos of both the film and Hawks character as depicted here. He never gives up and is doing what he loves. As someone who only gave the documentary a chance because Hawk seems like an engaging figure in interviews, This viewer was surprised to find one of the best public figure documentaries he has seen in quite some time. Honest without being exploitive. A celebration =without being hagiographic. The 2-hour runtime offers an effective beginner guide to his career. From his role in the expansion of skater culture in the mid-80s, its eventual downturn and rebirth with Hawk very much the central figure in all of it. Offering. Engaging testimony from the man himself and those around him. The piece is just remarkably solid, from top to bottom. It offers nothing new from a presentation perspective. You have seen this style of talking head HBO documentary plenty of times before. However, unlike a lot of material in its genre, there seems to be a slightly wider sense of scope and scale here without depriving potential viewers and fans of what they came for. It’s excellent stuff and definitely. Worth picking out Above the avalanche of similar products meant to sell the audience on the career of whoever they are featuring well, just making them also seen as “relateable in a generic sense. One of the best. In its subgenre for quite some time.
8.5/10.

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The Lost City. Quick Review

Adventure author Sandra Bullock gets trapped in the jungle with her cover model Channing Tatum after being kidnapped by eccentric billionaire Daniel Radcliffe in this action-comedy. The film arrived in UK cinemas having gotten some good buzz and strong box office from its US release. It starts incredibly strong as one of the best mainstream comedies in quite some time. Built on a foundation of quippy dialogue, well-staged slapstick and a genuinely amazing cameo from a certain A-List actor that has unfortunately been spoiled in the marketing. Bullock is a solid leading lady. Tatum gets to show off his underrated comedic chops and Radcliffe has just the right mixture of threat and scenery-chewing as an obligatory British villain. The first half suggests this could be something truly special The best mainstream studio comedy since Instant Family in 2019. Unfortunately, the piece doesn’t quite keep up that level of amazing momentum as it reaches the climax. The switch from odd-couple buddy movie to standard adventure fare is solid enough in its own right. Unfortunately lacks the magic or dynamite comedic set pieces of the narrative opening stretches. It remains watchable but this viewer was instantly reminded how much he won’t stick up for the rebooted Jumanji series ( especially Welcome to the Jungle) for being the textbook example of how to do this genre effectively within a modern context. Even Disney’s Jungle Cruise was fairly solid. Not to say The Lost City doesn’t belong with those but it Came out of the gate so effectively that this viewer wished it had been able to elevate itself for the full running time and become something truly memorable. As it is the opening act is strong enough to give the film a solid recommendation. Especially if you’re looking for something light and fun to watch as the summer months approach. That said it could have been so much more.
7/10.

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Everything Everywhere All At Once. What Do I Even Say?

For the most part, this writer isn’t a fan of A24. Not to say there isn’t plenty of good to fantastic films in their back catalogue. It’s more the general aesthetic of picking up the decidedly middlebrow festival fare. They then sell it to a niche audience of #filmTwitter eccentrics who have no idea what the general public wants to see. They instead send thirst twists and random hot takes for whatever the flavour of the month is. Thus when an A24 film starts getting an insane amount of hype expectations for those outside the circle for the kind of films they distribute will be very much put in check. That said if you had looked at any variety of film discourse over the last few months it would have been impossible to avoid the breakout success of Everything Everywhere All at Once. Beyond something that had already been labelled a future classic in some quarters all this viewer knew about it going in were the directors, that it was a multiverse movie and Michelle Yeoh was in the title role. The most Intriguing element of it was that it came from the Swiss army man directing the duo of Daniels. This author would include Swiss Army Man and its majorly deranged energy on the list of potential crossover A24 films. The fact that a filmmaking team that came across as so maverick with their debut feature has now made one of the most acclaimed films of the year (at least with US audiences and critics) seemed a little impossible. With the film just about to open in the UK the chance to see what all the fuss was about at an early screening could not be missed.
Wow. Having seen the film last night it is actively quite hard to describe what this watcher experienced. Other than to say it was the most purely entertaining, crowd-pleasing piece of cinema released in the past few years. Certainly, since the one-two punch of Parasite and Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse created universally acclaimed genre classics in back to back years (2019 and 2020.) Everything Everywhere is a completely insane, wild, utterly hilarious and emotionally resonant multiverse adventure anchored by a brilliant central performance from Michelle Yeoh. Importantly it is also executed with mechanical precision despite the inherently bonkers nature of the events playing out on screen. Every frame is bursting with all varieties of visual and verbal gags. Insanely inventive often gust gut bustlingly funny plot turns lead into yet another inventive twist or mechanic. This is mainstream cinema in its purest form. The ability for general audiences to spark their creative imaginations, with a story that can engage and emotionally invest anyone regardless of personal background. It’s a film that everyone should experience at least once. If this writer were to offer any hot takes it would be that 10 to 15 years ago this sort of mid-budget but the massively acclaimed mainstream accessible movie would have been handled by a studio with worldwide ambition. They would try to get the brilliance of the film out there to the widest audience possible. As opposed to being in the pantheon of the distributor like A24. They will be able to sell it to their audience. The thing is that a film like this deserves so much more than being a flash in the pan success on film-related social media. This author is conscious of feeding into the overhype. That said he cannot emphasise enough that the sheer amount of joy in realising films this insane yet mainstream-friendly can still be made and have an audience. Find the biggest screen and best audiences possible. UK cinemagoers are in for the ride of their lives.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is just concentrated wonderfully. this writer feels like he should issue a disclaimer that as with any piece of media the film won’t be for everyone. Yes, it’s hard not to imagine a large swath of potential audiences instantly falling in love with the insanely controlled shenanigans this peace offers. This fan certainly knows he did.

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White Hot. The Rise of Abercrombie & Fitch. Quick Review.

Full disclosure This critic only watched this Netflix documentary for one reason. He wanted to see if Summer Girls by LFO got referenced. This is unquestionably one of the worst songs ever recorded. Thankfully is so stuffed. with hilarious non-secretaries that it’s insanely memorable. The doesn’t seem to have quite as much penetration on UK based worst song ever lists. It certainly deserves to be down there. If one hasn’t heard this majestically terrible piece of music here it is.

The song does get referenced in this film about the rise and fall of the titular fashion brand. Unfortunately, like a lot of Netflix documentary content, there is not much substance here. Very standard talking head stuff discussing the initial ubiquity of the brand to its desired target audience. and its gradual decline and loss of relevance within the fashion landscape. There’s Some mildly interesting stuff about the tokenism racism and positive discrimination going on within the corporate structure of the company at the time. However, this is nothing that potential viewers couldn’t get from similar pieces or any corporate failure documentaries. In the age of streaming, these are delivered in a very easily watchable tone and style. It might be worth knowing to some that the Abercrombie and Fitch CEO at the did get a kick out of being referenced along with the fact “New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits and “Chinese food makes me sick. That said much as it might not be the worst thing after there’s nothing to expressly recommend this documentary over the millions of similarly structured pieces in Terms of the narrative and delivery. Die-hard fashion fans or those that developed an attachment to Abercrombie in their youth Might get something out of it. Otherwise, audiences will move on quickly
5/10

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Morbius. Quick Review. (Spoilers)

Let’s get this one out of the way. Sony’s ill-conceived “Spider-Man without Spider-Man” universe continues with a film that’s been sitting on the shelf since pre-pandemic times. Its lead actor is fresh off giving one of the worst performances in recent memory in House Of Gucci as well as being a general easy target/Hollywood punching bag. Surely this screen adaptation of the comic character no one asked for is primed to be one of the worst of the year. Morbid curiosity is certainly what got this writer to sit down and give the film something of a chance. Was it as bad as feared?
Yes and no. As a film, Morbius is both exactly what In the know viewers might expect and much more than that in all the wrong ways. The first act is uneventful enough. An entirely derivative po-faced origin story that’s been chopped to the bone in the editing room. Large swaths of what feels like it might have been an extended first act have gone walkabout. Then after the origin of our living vampire antihero, things go decidedly off the rails. Hilariously overdramatic speed ramp focused editing, CG that’s incoherent and looks borderline unfinished. Unbelievably muddy visuals don’t help. Unlike the first Tom Hardy Venom where there are moments where it is genuinely laughed out loud funny in a so bad its entertaining way. The first half of the film is so dreadful that it will be hard to recommend the film to ironic viewers of the feature. The least interesting thing about the final product was its initial red flag. Well, Jared Leto’s performance isn’t especially good it’s nothing like as embarrassing as what might be expected. The continued media circus around his particular style of “ method acting” continues to suggest the performances he gives on the screen will be just as insane and salacious as the way they reported. This is decidedly not the case here. Well, Morbius is terrible it’s not Letos fault.
Morbius is both exactly as bad as expected yet not consistently amusing enough in a so bad its entertaining way to be entirely recommended unless viewers want to skip to the second act. That said the fact a studio of Sony’s clout and influence let this final cut out into the world says something about how desperate they are to cash in on the Spiderman brand. When the film develops into a gloriously incoherent high camp disaster it’s entertaining as hell in all the wrong ways. Then there are the two mid-credit scenes. These are an inclination of just how desperate Sony are to sell this disaster to an audience. Any sane executive would look at the way Marvel reacted to the venom 2 mid-credit sequence in Spider-Man No Way Home and leave the appearance of Michael Keaton’s Vulture on the cutting room floor. That said the studio is so desperate to hold on to the one valuable IP they have and its new connection with a much broader more popular hub of that IP that they will use whatever scraps they’re allowed to make their leeching offshoot seem more inherently watchable. This is regardless of whatever slap they might get from their larger and more profitable parent company.
Mobius is roughly half the embarrassing disaster viewers might have expected. Unfortunately, the other half of the film despite the presence of one of Hollywood’s favourite punchline bags in the lead role is mostly quite dull. Whether experiencing the half of the film is somewhat ironically enjoyable is worth it for some viewers remains to be seen. Even for marvel completionists or fans of Sony’s misbegotten attempt to leech off the Spiderman IP, there’s very little here beyond the pathetically desperate mid-credits teases.
2/10

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Dog. Quick Review.

Look at this poster. It’s Channing Tatum with a dog. There have been enough bad family-centric animal movies in the last 20 years that surely a film that looks as generic as this one does on all levels has nothing to add. Well yes and no. On one level this is exactly the sort of film you’d expect from that poster. Channing Tatum is a former army ranger who has to transport his fellow soldier’s dog to his teammate’s funeral. So far it is a standard potential for animal-related hijinks premise. There are some of the typical bonding and misadventures audiences expect from this type of narrative. That said this is a decidedly more sombre and more ambitious film than viewers may be expecting. The piece wants to be a serious examination of the mental and physical impact left by several tools of duty as well as offering a standard “one man and his dog” movie. It’s a credit to the creative team the narrative mostly succeeds at what it sets out to do. As the credits rolled this viewer became annoyed that he could not rate the film higher than he is going to. This is because ultimately despite the greater ambitions and scope of this particular example you have seen this archetype done a million times before. The film does nothing to deviate from this very expected set of third act plot beats. If it had been more daring in this regard it would have gone from something commendable and worth seeing to the potential for true greatness. That said if an audience likes dog movies but is decidedly stuck with schmaltzy Marley and Me clones Dog rises above its generic marketing and is worth a look.
6.5/10

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Peacemaker. Season One. Quick Review.

James Gunn’s rebooted The Suicide Squad was in this writer’s top five favourite films of last year. This statement might suggest this watcher only takes in the latest comic book films. This fan will stand up for the reboot and its merits to anyone who will listen. Especially given the atrocity of the Warner Brothers studio mandated 2016 film. As someone who has found Gunns R rated work, consistently straying into edgelord territory. Suicide Squad was the perfect property for him to indulge his maverick side whilst also acknowledging a level of mainstream accessibility. Gunn was also applying the found family formula But he perfected it as a writer, throughout his continuing work on Guardians of the Galaxy. Then you have John Cena. In this viewer’s mind, Cena is one of the most underappreciated comedic actors working right now. Regardless of the memes or his wrestling persona, the man has genuine comedic chops His ability to deliver the most absurd lines completely deadpan. will always be hilarious. This viewer was very excited to see it. Gunn and Cena teaming up for this TV spin-off based on the latter’s Suicide Squad character. That said, there was still the open question as to whether or not Gunns Suicide Squad would translate effectively to a streaming series. Things looked promising when the delightfully absurd opening title sequence was released. Featuring the entire cast Doing an entirely stonefaced choreographed dance routine to a title song that sounds like the rebirth of 80s hair metal. How was the show.

It was awesome. On one level it would be very easy to look at these eight episodes. and say “you like James Gunns Suicide Squad. Well, here’s some more of it.” This is doing a disservice to just how effectively Gunn and the creative team’s tone transitions from feature film to serialized streaming series. The sense of controlled chaos that made the film such a delightful surprise is present and correct It’s wild, over the top. wonderfully splatter heavy entertainment packed with loads of. Ridiculously NSFW Quotables. Thankfully it never loses sight of being a longer form streaming series with an overarching plot. If there is one weakness, it is here. The overarching plot that Peacemaker. And a series of new and returning characters from the film get themselves involved in some delightfully wacky and out-there moments. It does, however, feel rather perfunctory for this style of antihero story. When the cast is this committed to the wild tonal shifts and the dynamic between all the core team is so much fun this doesn’t necessarily matter. Well there might not be as much going on under the proverbial Kettle helmet as something like Amazon’s The Boys. (the current gold standard for R rated superhero content.) Peacemaker was a great time.
Coming in as a. self fan of the film. It is spinning out of. Peacemaker was a great season. It’s got the same sense of controlled but committed wildness that made Gunn’s reboot such a delightful surprise This author is excited to see that James Gunn has committed to at least another season of this show along with more potential spin-offs for his take on these characters. Whatever wildly tasteless adventures await. they will rank high on this viewer’s most anticipated TV list.
8.25/10

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Goodbye Flagship Wittertainment. Coda. The Next Chapter.

A few weeks ago this author published his piece covering his relationship with and attachment to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s film review show on BBC Radio 5 live. There was some speculation in the piece on how exactly the show would continue following its final BBC transmission on April 1st, 2020. Needless to say, as soon as that show ended fans got their answer. Blazing atop Apple Podcast, not 15 minutes after our dynamic duo had finished airing on the BBC was the trailer for the new Kermode and Mayo Podcast, Kermode and Mayo’s Take. From what pre-release information can be found the duo have partnered with Sony. and some of the production team behind the BBC show to produce a more general media review podcast. What exactly this will cover remains to be seen With a couple of caveats (until we hear the first episode,) this seems like a good move from our dynamic duo. Personally, this listener is hoping for some of the banter that makes Kermode and Mayo a distinctive and highly listenable partnership. not for it overrun the show in the same way. It had been done for years in its BBC incarnation. This could go either way, but the assumption that there will be no mandate in terms of length does give this former fan hope he can jump back on board with more focus on media coverage. Less formulaic inside jokes with listeners. desperate to tell the audience about what qualifications they have earned, please. The prospect of indulging in a broader media review podcast. Is not necessarily our dynamic duo going as far out of their comfort zone as one might think? Projects like Kermode and Mayos Home Entertainment Service have expanded the brand beyond its original remit of film discussion reviews. The Entertainment Service series itself was a little bit rough around the edges This was thanks to being an entire lockdown conceived and adjacent project. But there’s nothing to say a similar format can’t work in audio form. We will just have to see. When the new podcast Kermode and Mayos Take launches on May 5th. This author does not know exactly or even plans to cover His initial thoughts on the podcast after they start released. That said, he did want to make note of the next chapter/development having spent so long typing up his initial essay. He is at least curious to see how the new podcast pans out both from a release and content perspective. We shall have to wait and see.

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Toy Story In Concert. Edinburgh (Usher Hall.) Review.

In the age of Disney +, the entire Pixar canon is available at the push of a button for nothing more than the cost of a subscription. This doesn’t account for the viewers that still have physical media collections. Some (including this writer) still treasure them in the age of continued streaming dominance. What will persuade viewers to pay theatrical event prices for a screening of something They could easily sit on their asses at home and watch with their favourite snack of choice. The opportunity to see a favourite film with live orchestral accompaniment might satisfy that requirement in terms of providing an experience beyond a standard film screening. This takes us to the Novello Orchestra. Full disclosure. Having now seen three shows including two live scores from this collective this viewer had always been meaning to cover one of their Events/ tours. One of the most incredible cinematic moments of this viewer’s life occurred when seeing them perform the live score accompanied by a screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol last festive season. It was only when a certain scene appeared in its extended form that this die-hard fan realised the version of the film cleared for use with this event was the still being 4K restored directors cut with the full “When Love Is Gone” put back in. To this fan’s knowledge, it was the first time Disney has cleared this particular Version of the film for public screening anywhere for at least ten years. Even if the extended sequence drags the pacing down somewhat it was a truly magical moment to see this edition of the film with full orchestral accompaniment for the deleted sequence.
Having seen the Novello Orchestra do such an impressive job with previous shows and their Muppets live score this attendee went into the Toy Story event with high expectations. Needless to say, they were met. The best live scores can give you both an appreciation for the film seeing it in a unique presentation As well as the musicians and Iconic score being performed before your very eyeballs. The Randy Newman Disney aesthetic has been style parodied to the point where it becomes meaningless in some quarters. That said his work with Disney is the kind of thing you want to see in a Disney sanctioned live orchestra event. Filled with iconic motifs and memorable moments this enhanced the viewing experience in a way you can’t get sitting at home eating popcorn as you watch Buzz and Woody on Disney +. The one note this watcher would typically make with live score presentations is that they aren’t the best conditions for the first viewing of a film. In sections where score and dialogue overlap the orchestra can muffle the isolated dialogue track. This doesn’t matter. These Disney Novello Orchestra concerts aren’t aimed at first-time viewers. They are aimed at a broad target audience with a clear love of these iconic characters and franchises. Some may be more than happy to sit at home And fire up the film on physical media or streaming. Events like seeing a live score perfectly played by a series of seasoned musicians who are objectively very good at what they do are creating memories that will last a lot longer than a typical film event. It’s what has enabled this author to write this piece. The original Toy Story needs no introduction.
If an attendee ever gets the chance to see A Novello Orchestra concert or live scored presentation they come with the highest Recommendation. The chance to see these great film scores perfectly played to an audience that’s mostly there for the love of the films is an extremely memorable experience. Whatever events or Disney collaborations they have in the pipeline automatically have this fan’s interest.
10/10

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What An Earth Even Is “The Nan Movie.”

On the weekend beginning March 18th a very small corner of the UK Film discussion scene found a new easy target. This would enable critics to plug out their worst list with a film that seemed so severely out of touch that it’s hard to believe it’s even got released in 2022. This was the feature-length adaptation of Catherine Tate’s sketch character Nan. Not screened for press the avalanche of one-star reviews and questioning the film’s very existence appeared by birthright. If you dug a little bit deeper or even saw the film there was more going on here than it might seem on the surface. The final cut has been thrown out into UK cinemas with no credited director, A trailer released two weeks before a full theatrical release and a Warner Brothers logo on both trailer and film that is two years out of date. Having a Cineworld Unlimited card effectively means you can treat whatever gets released as if it was available on SVOD. As a lover of interestingly terrible films, The Nan Movie seemed like It would make for a fun thing to tear apart in a review. What did he find?
This viewer says this without hyperbole. The Nan Movie is one of the most fascinatingly awful things he can remember seeing in quite some time. Roughly half is what you might expect. Catherine Tate in heavy old-age prosthetics On a vaguely defined Road trip with her son ( Matthew Horne) It uses this as a thinly veiled excuse to make every kind of phobic joke under the sun. There is the material out there that can push buttons in a way that’s effective, subversive and interesting. Then there’s this style of comedy that uses the word gay as an insult and leaves it at that. An escaped relic of a time vortex stuck in 2005. It has somehow emerged into the post COVID cinema landscape of 2022. That said this is only half the film. What if this viewer claimed the other half of the film was an attempt at thoughtful drama with a de-prostheticsed Tate attempting to give Nan. a mostly played entirely straight origin story. The “jokes” in this section are effectively used as punctuation to the kind of thing that 5-10 years ago would have attempted to pack in all those older-skewing UK audiences in the wake of the success of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel franchise. The scene in which young Nan goes to see Citizen Kane sounds like it should be a massive meme. It is played entirely earnestly. The film was originally directed by an acclaimed UK theatre producer/director Josie Rourke While these flashback scenes may not be great they at least represent some sort of creative vision. This sort of thing seems a functional level above this sort of cheaply produced feature adaptation of a sketch character. Every time there was a jarring transition between one of these sections and a comedic set piece involving a Tupperware box full of piss this viewer became increasingly fascinated by the frankensteined theatrical edition. This was clearly at one point a project with some level of ambition. Studio salvage edits are always an interesting prospect in seeing how much the original intention comes through. Recent examples include Artemis Fowl, The Woman In The Window and Chaos Walking folks. The cut of The Nan Movie as it currently exists seems like an entirely different prospect. A salvage edit where the two competing tones and visions are at war for attention from the first minute until the last. This is not even getting onto the animated interludes. These are a clear attempt to stitch the film together and account for missing footage during the road trip sections. The filmmakers retroactively add in a plot point about Nan’s son (Mathew Horne) being an animator. Whenever there is a clear instance of absent footage stitch the Live-action sections during the road trip “animations ” are utilized. These sections look like they were drawn by a five-year-old in 10 minutes on a budget of about ) £0.50. They easily win the prize for the most baffling thing this viewer has ever seen projected on the big screen in all his years of going to the cinema. The kind of thing that enables the film to be marked as finished only on a technicality. This is the closest this viewer has ever seen to an unfinished film getting an Unbelievably wide theatrical release. It’s hard to describe just how repulsive these sequences look until there is footage available ( not at the time of writing) They look like the stuff of nightmares. Then there’s the ending with its incredibly sappy attempt to bring the two timelines together and hit the final mawkish emotional beats. These might be effective if the studio mandated final product hadn’t been so clearly mangled in the edit As the credits rolled the thought the original vision for this movie deserves some kind of director’s cut could not leave this watcher’s head. He is not saying it would have been great. Rather it seems ( from what exists in the theatrical version) like a valiant attempt to take a one-note sketch character and do something with her. That said Who knows how Warner Brothers might have reacted to the original edit. There is far more to be written about the behind the scenes story here once the full picture is known. For now, this viewer can only report on what he saw in the currently released cut. This is a fascinating prospect on its own merits.
The Nan Movie is one of the most fascinatingly terrible mainstream releases to escape its way into British cinemas. On the one hand, it’s the scathingly unfunny, decidedly out of touch disaster that every critic that posted their one-star review is determined to tell you about. On the other hand, dig a little bit deeper and you can find a picture of waring creative visions. This suggests the behind the scenes narrative is more interesting than the film itself. In no way would this viewer recommend The Nan Movie to anyone other than those interested insane terrible movies that Wind up bizarrely fascinating in terms of how the hell they ever saw the light of day. For as weird as the final cut might be The Nan Movie is the best example of this in quite some time.
3/10.

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Moonfall. Quick Review. (Slight Spoilers.)

If this author were to list his least favourite filmmakers Roland Emmerich would be on that list. There may have always been a market for the kind of disaster movie he peddles. However, he’s been doing the same stick with the trademark atrocious writing and similar character archetypes for the last 25 years. In a way, there’s not much that can be expected from his latest film which is pretty much as the title suggests. The moon falls out of orbit thus causing Emmerich’s bread and butter style of CG carnage. Only three pre-established characters ( Patrick Wilson Halle Berry John Bradley) can be sent on the mission to save the day. Don’t forget the generic family drama.
On one level if an audience has seen any of Emmerich’s they will have already seen Moonfall. It’s mildly amusing watching Emmerich do damage control after the film has proved a massive flop, He has claimed the film is the most expensive non-IP independent blockbuster ever made. This point is decidedly arguable. While Moonfall might technically be an original property It’s contributing to the tone and style of Emmerich filmography. Your disaster porn style is old news, Roland. Move on to something else.
That said the hoops Moonfall has to jump through to make the moon a sentient villain are certainly a choice that was made. The entire project seems so intergalactically stupid. It’s hard to believe it exists. That said these choices automatically make the film a more humorous and somewhat ironically enjoyable experience than any of Emmerich’s previous work. If the concept of the moon develops AI tentacles and attacks astronauts viewers might get out of it. That’s not even touching a mildly insane third act.
Moonfall is very much a case of the same shtick different day for Emmerich and his specific brand of a sub-90s disaster film. It has some novelty value in the places the goes to make the premise work on screen. On some level, this makes it better than Emmerich’s typical fare. That doesn’t make the final product necessarily good. The sheer lunacy of the whole thing might provide some ironic enjoyment but ultimately Emmerich will continue to do what he does regardless of audience feedback. Even as was the case here when the audience potentially dwindles to no one.
4/10.

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Cheaper by the Dozen 2022. (Disney +) Kidz Bop This Is Us.

In the tradition of continued IP mining of Fox properties acquired by Disney in the merger here is a new version of Cheaper by the Dozen. In 2022 the Bakers are now a mixed-race blended family led by Zach Braff and Gabriel Union as the parents. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s the obvious route to take the property down within a modern context. The new version itself isn’t even that bad by the incredibly low standards off straight to streaming Disney content that’s not Star Wars or Marvel related. Inoffensive enough family entertainment that doesn’t have much creative ambition beyond providing a light distraction as streaming filler. The only audiences that will likely get offended by this new edition are those that grew up with the Steve Martin and Bonnie hunt remake duo. The most obvious influence isn’t even the slapstick centric early 2000s family comedies that those remakes were cashing in on. In 2022 The shadow of This is Us looms large over these kinds of stories. Say what you will about that shows pension for the emotionally manipulative, hyper earnest family melodrama. At its best, this show has set the gold standard for this genre. Cheaper by the Dozen 2022 on the other hand feels decidedly forgettable and running on name recognition alone by comparison. It’s not as patients testing is something like Secret Society of Second-Born Royals or Artemis Fowl but that’s not saying a lot. Unless a particular viewer is a fan of any of the creative talent or has a penchant for covering Disney straight to streaming efforts there’s no reason to seek this out.
4/10
PS. For the sake of this writer’s comparison, he tried to total up how many members the blended Peterson family has across the two main generations on This Is Us. If you include Jack and Rebecca as the origin point and focus on the adopted and biological offspring of the” Big Three” By my count There are seven family members at the start of the show and 11 as of episode 6.07 That’s not counting partner characters like Beth, Sophie. Madison or Toby If you include these characters it goes well beyond the 12 in Any version of cheaper by the dozen. Counting both Miguel and Jack separately would hit the magic number of 12.

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No Exit. Quick Review.

There’s a broader conversation to be had about how as of 2022 new R rated titles from the Merged Disney/Fox are likely to be nothing more than content fillers for SVOD streaming. That said their first 2021 release feels like the sort of mid-tier studio thriller that benefits from this model. A college student and recovering addict (Havana Rose Liu) escapes a rehab facility and then gets trapped in a remote cabin during a blizzard with four other strangers. Some may have secrets to hide. You have seen a million sub-Tarantino thrillers like this one in the past. Films like this bring nothing new to the table. That said the narrative cultivated a decent level of atmosphere. It will likely keep viewers relatively engaged for the brisk 96-minute runtime. The sort of film viewers isn’t going to regret watching or spending time with but will slide off their brains almost instantly. In other words perfect for an SVOD release. This viewer doesn’t doubt that there will be future Fox adjacent titles sent to streaming that will not deserve that fate. That said its the perfect platform for No Exit.

6/10.

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Goodbye Flagship Wittertainment. A Personal History and Starter Pack for the UK’s Favourite Film Programme.

On one level there will always be a level of emotional resonance when something important or formative to a fan announces a conclusion. It doesn’t matter if you’ve aged out or moved on from whatever that piece of content was. The parts of the content that last in our minds are those that we will always have an attachment to.
Part One. Golden Hour
This writer’s late mother was always likely to have BBC Radio Five Live in the background of whatever she was doing. The dulcet tones of Simon Mayo’s afternoon show and the following drive time slot would accompany whatever we were doing after school. Mayo’s friendly but firm and fair interview style was always incredibly listenable. For this budding film lover, the golden time was the hour between 3:00 and 4:00 PM on a Friday and available on-demand afterwards) where Mayo would be joined by Mark Kermode to discuss the week’s new releases films. That initial hour-long slot was dynamite to listen to. The banter between host and contributor was playful and engaging but never mean spirited. The divide between presenter and contributor was clear but neither was ever looked down upon. It was great to see listeners engage with the various running gags but there was always a firm focus on covering the week’s new cinematic offerings There was plenty of classic era ranting and creative verbiage from Kermode Acknowledging the films he loved and Not holding back on the films that deserved a good kicking. This was all presented in an engaging, easily digestible package that did not outstay its welcome. Podcasts may be an easily acceptable form of release in 2022 but they were still a relatively new phenomenon in 2005 long before the age of media oversaturation we find ourselves in today. Between the launch of the podcast in 2005 and 2009 the show progressives in the way it essentially always has done. That said there was change just around the corner. This was not necessarily for the better.
Part 2. Double Length. What Do We Do Now? In December of 2009 Mayo announces he is leaving the afternoon slot on Five Live. His show with Kermode would continue with a dedicated and expanded two-hour slot on a Friday afternoon. This was treated as a big deal at the time. It effectively allowed the Kermode and Mayo film review show to settle into the programme modern listeners know it as today. There was one critical change. Progress various running gags and reoccurring segments had been garnished to augment the review section. With more time to fill from 2010 onwards these reoccurring jokes, we’re a lot more central in terms of their presence within the running time. There was Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins. A fan film based on a throwaway joke made by Kermode about the Percy Jackson franchise’s similarity to Harry Potter. An ever-increasing list of… “hellos “to famous fans of the show ( Jason Isaacs is the most famous one to mention here) An increasing list of fans listing their education credentials when writing into the show. An extended period where there was a reoccurring segment about the Co-hosts performing miracles. This occurred after one of their favourite Kermodeian rants caused a listener to wake up from a coma. An eventually excruciating running gag about an imaginary Wittertainment cruise. On a certain level, It’s hard not to have a certain level of sympathy with the production team. Having done radio work in the past it’s one of the best platforms for levelling the playing field in terms of the range of voices and stories that can be given a platform. That said filling a show with content audiences will want to listen to is much trickier than it looks. Especially on a station like Five Live, where the on-air talent has a full back of having extended blocks of music. In October 2014 this author stopped listening to the podcast in full. He kept up with the review segments posted to YouTube and a selection of Mayo and Kermode side projects. The days of Feverishly listening to the show as soon as it went out or after the podcast dropped were long gone.
Part 3. A Selection of Kermode Solo Work.
Throughout the years there have been plenty of Mark Kermode adjacent media to look at beyond the main show with Mayo. It would take an entire essay to cover it all in full. There were the Uncut video blogs. These were in house BBC produced videos with Kermode briefly outlining a talking point related to one of the new releases for that week. Alternatively, he and the production team would utilize it’s some kind of call and response with Kermode reading the comments in a follow-up video. The video blog ended after 10 years in 2017. Thankfully a lot of them have been archived as simultaneous upload’s to the Kermode and Mayo YouTube channels. The questions Kermode was responding to may have been lost to time with the discontinuation on the specific video blog platform but The videos themselves are pretty good. Especially in the way Kermode will engage with and respond to the questions with his trademark gusto. There was also Kermode’s themed memoir writings. These can also be found on Audible with narration by the man himself. These are very much an extension of Kermode’s on-air style and presentation. Maybe not as decidedly self-indulgent as the show would end up becoming but a fan-pleasing endeavour first and foremost. Kermode certainly has a big enough audience for this not to be a major problem.
As a replacement for the videoblogs, Kermode eventually started his solo podcast in 2018. This reviewer may not have listened to all the 180 plus episodes. He likes to think he has sampled enough of it to give an opinion. Kermode on Film is mostly a massive disappointment. There are some highlights. As a huge fan of the film, I enjoyed watching Kermode express his love for the preservation work undertaken by director Questlove and his team in their stunning documentary Summer of Soul ( Or When the Revolution Could Not be Televised.) These are the exception, however. A lot of the podcast feed are audio versions of his monthly BFI show An extension of his slightly baffling working relationship with Jack Howard. Many people will look at these podcasts. See the age difference between the two contributors and assume that’s the automatic problem. This water doesn’t think that is necessarily the case. This author is willing to bet that certain younger #filmTwitter types would give that left ear to work with someone of Kermode’s platform and influence. The more specific problem is trying to make the entirely different pool of references between the two hosts gel in a way that comes across as a regular podcast style conversation. A lot of it comes across as forced and awkward. The Howard shows feel like Kermode’s attempt to be “down” with the kids in a way His flagship radio show used to mock relentlessly.
If you want a much better example of Kermode’s work with a younger contributor his recent Radio Four series Screenshot is worth hunting down. The basic premise is the Kermode hand fellow critic Ellen E Jones take a broad premise From the media space and examine the influence of that particular style or piece of the media release and examine the creative DNA that has made whatever is being discussed influential in some way. Having listened to five of the nine episodes first season this writer how much he enjoyed these. Tight, well-produced and engaging with a focus on strong interviews and a light friendly tone during the linking segments. Recommended. The best piece of Non-Mayo related Kermode audio content in recent memory.
This Is only scratching a very small amount of Kermode solo work. If this author was to cover Everything we would be here forever. So let’s move on

Part 4. What Happens Now?
The decision to end Kermode and Mayo as a partnership on Five Live was always going to come at some point. The surprising thing from this writer’s perspective was that looking at the feedback to the announcement the main show appears to still have a very dedicated cult audience. Well, there are acknowledgements that it has gotten stale for some enough still love the inane witterings for the announcement to get national media coverage. The obvious move from here is to take the dynamic of the hosts into the field of commercial radio. They both already do commercial shows separately from their BBC work. Give the two of them format where they are not as contractually obliged to fill two hours every Friday and you could return some of the initial magic that made the show so special throughout the mid-2000s and early 2010s Beyond the broadcast of the final show on April 1st at this point we don’t know exactly what the future holds for Kermode and Mayo. This fan is certainly willing and waiting to find out.
Part 5. Kermode and Mayo Starter Park.
This isn’t necessarily a definitive list of the best Kermode and Mayo reviews on segments. These are just the ones this author would choose to offer listeners a solid introduction to the show and Kermode’s review style.
Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait/ Film Socialism/ Charles Dickens England.

The best reviews can give the listener/ reader an insight into the mindset And the intended audience are of a film even if they have not heard of it before. Nothing illustrates that better than these three hilarious takedowns.


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

The energy of watching your grandparents try and understand gaming culture all boiled down to one review segment. Shambling. all over the place but kind of endearing in how unfocused and out of their depth Mayo and Kermode feel.

The Bayformers Five Piece.

Stuffed full of ridiculous quotes and appropriately controlled aggression towards one of the worst filmmakers in modern movies. These are some of Kermode’s best-known works for a reason.

Sucker Punch.

No singular review has ever summed up the purely aesthetic drive of a particular filmmaker as well as this one.


Pirates of the Caribbean 3.


A suitably epic review for one of the most incoherent and baffling Hollywood blockbusters this viewer has ever seen. It’s still hard to believe that’s a Disney production opens with a scene of a child hanging 15 years later.

Fred. The Movie.


There was a period long before YouTube channels like Quinton Reviews made it trendy to sit and overanalyse the lore of early internet content for hours on end. At the height of Fred’s popularity the UK distributor arm of Lionsgate thought it was a good idea to give the first film a full UK theatrical run. This led to Kermode’s glorious Fred impression. You’ve got to love how Mayo tells the engineers behind the scenes to fade Mark’s microphone whilst on air. A classic moment in the show’s history.

Mamma Mia.

Kermode’s love the much more restrained and noticeably less fun Here We Go Again might be a little overzealous. That said nothing captures the cheesily incoherent majesty of the ultimate guilty pleasure film better than Kermode’s original review.

The Robert Langdon Trilogy

It’s kind of insane to think that 21 years after his first appearance and 16 after the first Tom Hanks film Dan Brown’s character of Robert Langdon is still considered a valuable IP. For now, enjoy Kermode’s enormously entertaining reviews of the Ron Howard/ Hanks movie trilogy. TURN THE LIGHTS ON has always been a particular favourite Kermode quote.
The Danny Dyer Saga.


In the period before he essentially rebranded into a soap actor Danny Dyer was busily churning out low budget UK crime films. These would get a limited theatrical release. The ire with which Kermode treated these was always worth remembering. To the extent that when Dyer himself got wind of kermode’s impression of him he threatened violence against him. Also of note is the one major instance this author confined of Kermode giving Dyer a positive review.
House of Gucci.

How do you deal with a performance destined to potentially go down as one of the worst of all time from Jared Leto? You mock it mercilessly given the sense of prime ridicule Leto’s embarrassing turn as Paolo Gucci deserves.


And Finally.


Sex and the City 2.


This starter pack was in no particular order. Apart from this final entry. In this humble fan’s opinion, this is the greatest Kermodeian rant ever put to audio. There’s very little to be said about it that hasn’t already been said. If one had never experienced the joy of witnessing this utterly glorious rail against the worldview put forward by this particular franchise press play and enjoy. You certainly won’t be the same person you were 10 minutes before it started having experienced what is quite possibly the greatest film review ever.

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The Tinder Swindler. Quick Review. (Spoilers After Rating)

Netflix’s latest true crime flavour of the month is this feature documentary focusing on an Israeli con artist. He told his victims he was a member of a key family within the diamond industry. He then slotted into a very elaborate credit card Ponzi scheme. It’s not difficult why this documentary and story generally has caught on. The peace paints the victims as the type of people you would charitably class as hopeless romantics. That said the commitment to his scheme from the swindler is morbidly interesting. Being a feature as opposed to an unnecessary mini-series means the story doesn’t wear out its welcome. There’s a genuinely WTF inducing reveal at roughly the one hour mark That the narrative proceeds to do nothing interesting with this reveal. The filmmakers essentially admit in the closing text that there is nothing more to that side of the story Much as there might be mountains of true crime features out there The Tinder Swindler is pretty solid for what it’s trying to do. True crime completists and fans alike will get something out of this story.
6.5/10

Spoilers ahead
The film concludes with the swindler’s capture. He effectively gets a brief jail sentence and a slap on the wrist. That is a somewhat generic “ Here’s how much money he stole. That said he is still out there“ admission On one level it’s hard to complain about this story getting more traction. It may well enable more victims to come forward. That said there are two decidedly more cynical reactions regarding this. The first is that the subject of the documentary now has a platform. There have been new stories coming out about hey morning to star in his dating show. Not to say any sensible commissioner would indulge this fantasy. That said certain people especially on the internet may want to help the con artist indulge his fantasies more than they’re willing to admit. Not to mention the open-ended nature of the conclusion plus the success of the film generally might compound Netflix to make any number of pointless spin-offs or follow-ups specials. It’s already astonishing how much Tiger King feels like it’s been milked to the bone two years later. Perhaps suggesting something similar might happen with The Tinder Swindler shows a level of mistrustful expectation from this water. Perhaps it is just an example of the expanded scope and still growing market for these types of true crime stories. We shall have to wait and see?

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Sing a Bit of Harmony. Quick Review.

Initially, this reviewer questioned why what looked on the surface like a very mid-tier anime feature was getting a big week-long theatrical push in both subbed and damned versions at his local Cineworld. Then as his subtitled screening of the film began the Sony logo popped up. The vague memory that they had bought Funimation occurred to this viewer. Given that both Sony and All The Anime have a decent track record in terms of theatrically released anime in the UK don’t be surprised to see a greater selection of mid-tier titles getting more of a push.
In terms of this title specifically Sing A Bit of Harmony is both exactly what one might expect whilst also being decidedly quirky for its specific genre.
On one level this is your standard anime schoolgirl slice of life narrative. The narrative here sees a team of scientists trying to integrate a singing robot AI into a standard anime high school setting. Cue your standard level of slapstick hijinks that one might expect from an anime presentation of the premise. There are also extended j-pop musical sequences. AI development sections that come across like a Japanese take on the opening of RoboCop. Not to mention a metaverse centric final act. What might look relatively straightforward on the surface if you know the genre and style reveal itself to be a much more peculiar oddity when the layers are peeled back. It’s honestly difficult to say if the entire thing comes together as a cohesive whole. That said if you’re a theatrical anime fan looking for something that might be a lot stranger than it seems on the surface The film might be worth a look. This reviewer is certainly not going to complain about a wider variety of animation seeing the inside of a UK cinema.
6.5/10

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The Book of Boba Fett is a Work of Corporate Calculated Cynically Evil Genius. That Doesn’t Make it Good. (FULL SPOILERS)

Since The Mandalorian remains the most coveted piece of media on this site I guess this writer is obliged to talk about Boba Fett given how things eventually panned out with the seven-episode season.
This viewer went in with no anticipation whatsoever. Disney + are currently alternating Star Wars and Marvel series release schedules. A season like Boba Fett benefits enormously from the fact it is simply taking the viewing slot this author would typically use to watch a weekly marvel episode when those shows are in season. This author’s lack of emotional connection to Star Wars is a lot lesser he did go into Boba Fett with a relatively open mind. What did he find? One of the most bizarre seasons of television to ever have been released by a company like Disney Let’s discuss.
Part One. The Mediocrity of Boba Fett.
Internet discourse ( especially when it comes to something like Star Wars) may tell you that the first four episodes of the boba “ solo” season are the worst thing ever. They are not. Deeply uninspiring might be a more accurate phrase. Much as there’s a certain level of polish in these Disney tentpole streaming releases the lack of any real momentum or purpose becomes a problem very quickly. The extended first act feels like it’s been made out of obligation purely because The Mandalorian Season 2 mid-credit scene promised its existence. We watch Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) try to establish a footprint within the underworld of Tatooine. That’s kind of it. The leads are solidly watchable but they can’t escape how much these episodes have an “it exists” vibe throughout. At the end of episode four, Boba references the need for additional support to take on a crime syndicate. What came next was both decidedly unexpected and yet screamingly obvious when you look at the full season.
Part Two. Return of The Mandalorian.
As soon as episode five dropped the secret was out. Seeing the Mandalorian return with an episode that picks up directly where season 2 left off. It can be seen as either prologue to season three or a continuation of season 2 following Mandos’s decision to give Grogu to deep-fake Luke Skywalker The episode is probably mid-tier in terms of ranking it alongside Mando’s episodes from his show. That said the sense of confidence and purpose that had been sorely lacking in Bobas solo episodes returns in full force. The first Mando does drop viewers in the deep end somewhat. Well, this isn’t a problem now it might get confusing at a later date given that it might not be immediately obvious these episodes of “Boba Fett” are essential bridging material between seasons of Mando. Those that checked out of Boba Fett early or flat out didn’t watch may be in for something of a surprise when the next season premieres.
Part Three Rise of Skywalker Rebirth.
This is likely with this article is going to lose some fans. The penultimate episode of the season is nothing more than reskinned unbelievably hollow fan service. Its Rise Of Skywalker dressed up in Mando colours. It is better than that utter abomination. The episode does hit a few effective beats. That said this author’s lack of emotional investment in Star Wars generally makes the cynical calculation of this episode a lot more obvious. The ending cliffhanger makes it clear ( despite the presentation) that Grogu is going to go back and rejoin Mando. Otherwise, there would be no Mandalorian season 3.
Part Four. Finale Blow Out.
No doubt some audiences would have wanted a more character-focused finale. What character do Mando and Boba have that is not already previously established? The correct answer is none. Substituting this for a climax that effectively throws every action beat that Jon Favreau and his team can think of is mostly pretty effective. Yes, there’s fanservice and plot points manufactured to go viral instantly. These are better blended with the narrative than the ones in the previous episode. The finale is pretty solid for what it’s trying to be. A multi-million Star Wars action figure play session. Mando and Grogu are now fully on the board for season three of their show. The Bobo season that was initially promised is now also complete. Corporate evil genius at its finest.
When looking at this season of Boba Fett overall it’s obvious that the pitch was as follows. How do we set up Mandalorian season three whilst also offering the Boba Fett series we now obliged ourselves to make? In answer to that question, Disney has produced a Star Wars splatter painting. The Mando plotlines are the only ones carrying forward. It is strangely commendable that the marketing was able to hide what the seven episodes are. This does not necessarily make the season good. It just proves the point the Star Wars fandom was the victim of false advertising Even if those moments of insincerity produce the season’s best moments. The truth is regardless of the qualms viewers may have with these episodes a large chunk of them will continue to watch the next Star Wars live-action offerings regardless. This will be done on brand recognition and emotional attachment alone. Well, there’s a place for this in media consumption it’s seasons like The Book of Boba Fett with its level of surprising complacency that will turn casual fans away.
6/10.

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Marry Me. Quick Review.

When her fiancé (reggaeton star Maluma) is discovered cheating just as they are about to get married on stage a celebrity musician ( Jennifer Lopez( decides to complete the stunt with a random single father ( Owen Wilson) instead. Things play out exactly as you would expect from there. Given the garish premise and trailer, this writer’s expectations for an increasingly rare theatrically released rom-com were pretty much rock bottom. Colour this author somewhat surprised that Marry Me is not an atrocious endurance test. The final product comes across much gentler and more quietly effective than the marketing suggests. This generic plot is carried by the quiet charisma of the two leads. They can execute the series of cliches expected from this genre in an effectively solid manner. Sarah Silverman turns up playing the same role she did in School of Rock 18 years ago. Weirdly, this casting choice is symptomatic of what the film is trying to achieve. It’s a perfectly pleasant and surprisingly likeable throwback to the romantic films of the 90s and 2000 ( some of which the two main stars were in.) When watching one of the performance sequences and seeing several gyrating nuns congregate around Lopez this author first thought was “ this is immediately going to get clipped out and branded the worst thing ever as a viral internet clip.” That said the audience for films like marry me won’t care what Twiter thinks of their film. They just want to rom-com that is potentially swoon-worthy. Much as this author might be loath to admit it Marry Me delivers effectively on that very basic audience expectation.
6.5/10

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A Journal for Jordan. Quick Review.

Welcome to the first truly baffling film of 2022. In his latest feature as director, Denzel Washington effectively attempts to resurrect the Hollywood ghost of Nicholas Sparks adaptations in this screen incarnation of a true story. Throughout several tours of Iraq First Sargent Charles Monroe King (Michal B Jordan kept a journal of life and motivational advice for his young son ( see the title.) The narrative cuts back and forth showcasing the romance between King and his young wife Dana (Chanté Adams.) In a contemporary timeline, she is attempting to raise Jordan as a single mother following King being killed in action years earlier(not a spoiler.) Dana and Jordan still read their husband and father’s journal all these years later. The entire thing reeks of decidedly schmaltzy Christian inflected melodrama in the worst way possible. Denzel Washington has a much leaner behind the camera CV when compared to his work as an actor. The question of what attracted him to a project of this calibre remains unanswered. Unless he woke up one day and decided he wanted to target the sort of inherently treacly wine mom that would not know what an effective on-screen romance is if it hit them square in the face. The said audience may well be satisfied purely based on seeing Michael B Jordan’s ass cheeks fill the frame at one point. The production has a major whiff of being an exclusive industry insider product. The real-life Dana Canedy turned the journal and her story into a memoir. She would go on to be a major figure in the publishing industry. On some level, she may want to see her story up on the big screen. The kind of inspiration porn that certain audiences will eat off the Hollywood conveyor belt with a spoon. That said vanity projects are usually considerably more interesting to you talk about than this. Everything about this project screams low effort on pretty much every level. This sort of thing will be farted out theatrically before being left on the modern roulette wheel of streaming culture.
2/10

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Emily in Paris is Still Garbage. It’s Not Worth Getting Offended at Its Very Existence.

Emily in Paris is one of the easiest targets in the streaming sphere. This author fed into that last year with his coverage of The first season. So why did this viewer even bother with the sophomore season? There are two reasons. Ultimately there is something rather memetic and memorable about just how atrocious the writing on this show is. Secondly ( and more importantly) this watcher was looking for something easy and unchallenging to watch during a self-isolation period. The prospect of hate-watching is not something this viewer necessarily encourages. That said it’s easy to see why Emily’s misadventures have developed an Audience of people specifically watching to indulge in their worst moments. This show is shallow and vacuous but simultaneously insanely memetic and memorable. Some of its choices are so stereotypical and yet baffling. It’s hard to believe this writers room exists in 2022.

As an example. Emily and Lilly Colin’s massive unibrow got a new love interest this season. This character looks like he’s just walked out of a Shondaland series. He is a British banker Working in Paris examining the financial implications of Brexit. His introductory conversation then descends into a “Megxit” pun. There are lines like “I’m not a leak, I’m a girl from Chicago.” Attempted self-awareness that falls flat on its face. A Plot Regarding Emily’s friend not having an up to date visa. The only job she can get is a toilet chaperone. That is until the owners of the drag club letter indulge her singing talents. so she does karaoke to BTS in the most painfully 2021 music choice that will be dated five minutes from now. In this seasons most egregious musical moment the friend and her love interest do a cover of Falling Slowly from Once. This viewer’s first instinct would be to make an angry tweet regarding how Once director John Carney should get a free opportunity to slap the creative teams behind potentially the worst Netflix megahit.
The thing is that first bad as this show Is it also clearly has a massive silent majority audience that enjoys it regardless of the online discourse. Honestly, this is perfectly fine. There’s a huge audience out there for this kind of cheaply produced escapist entertainment that could care less about how it’s perceived by the audiences of Reddit or Twitter. These people are A far more lucrative audience than those who indulge in niche/ cult streaming shows that may have critical acclaim but will never develop an audience in the same way. If something like Emily in Paris is the antithesis to that argument then so be it. There’s not a lot that can’t be gleaned about the show from showing potential viewers any random 10-minute section from across the 20 episodes produced thus far. If one happens to enjoy it then so be it. These viewers are just as entitled to lowbrow entertainment as more discerning watchers might be to the latest massively acclaimed comedy/drama. If the entertainment happily comes from shows like Emily in Paris we should not degrade the show for catering to an audience much less invested in online culture.
Season 2 rating. 3/10

Pleasure. Quick Review

An aspiring porn star relocates from Sweden to the US in hopes of becoming the next big thing in an indie drama that on one level is exactly what it looks like on the tin. An attempt to reframe and offer a female gaze on a decidedly male-dominated industry. Que ensuing debate about how the film presents the concept of performer agency within the business. Much of this might be expected given the narrative formula on display but it’s somewhat refreshing to see a film about this subject that on one level is not lecturers to the audience about its position one way or the other. The decidedly mumblecore presentation gets in the way of just how effective these sequences can be at times. This sort of material is catnip to the mildly pretentious festival crowd whose only regular streaming subscription is MUBI ( who have struck up a very on-brand distribution deal here.) Yet as our central character gets deeper into the industry the narrative implementation of shock value becomes more overt. When the film first appeared on the festival circuit they were distributors who wanted to cut it down from an NC-17 to an R rating. Having seen it in its complete uncut form the one sequence likely mandates that rating is one of the most disturbing things in recent media. The sort of thing that requires a very stiff drink of choice afterwards. That said in eventually presenting both sides of the central argument when depicting the porn industry it’s hard not to think that the film offers no definitive idea of what it wants to do or say regarding any of the events or scenarios depicted. It’s worth seeing for a strong lead performance and the moments that do work. Unfortunately in its attempt to offer a separate take on a very well-documented debate Pleasure eventually falls foul of that lecturer’s tone it spends a chunk of the narrative trying to avoid. Festival-type crowds will eat it up regardless. There are commendable elements throughout Pleasure but it’s the sort of production those in the target audience will recommend realising it has little audience appeal outside of those who were built to champion it.
6/10