February 2016 ~ Films

January 2016

I’m very behind with my end of month posts for February! But here’s my roundup of the films I saw, I’m trying something slightly different this time.

What Richard Did
Director – Lenny Abrahamson | Writer – Malcolm Campbell | Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Lars Mikkelsen {{Television}}

An emotional drama that is slow to build to a crescendo, but packs a powerful punch when it does. Great performances from a young cast whose assured direction from Lenny Abrahamson produces a memorable film that has stayed with me in the weeks since I watched it.

Spotlight
Director – Tom McCarthy | Writer – Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer | Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams {{Cinema}}

This is a gripping film, focused on the real life events about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the abuse of children at the hands of catholic priests. Thoroughly deserving of its recent Oscar win for best film, it’s my favourite film of 2016 so far, with, for me, a standout performance by Liev Schreiber, whose quiet determination shines against more exuberant performances by the likes of Mark Ruffalo.

Girlhood
Director – Céline Sciamma | Writer – Céline Sciamma | Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Mariétou Touré {{Amazon Video}}

Having only previously seen a short clip – of four young French girls dancing and lip syncing to Diamonds by Rihanna – my interest was thoroughly piqued by Girlhood, and I was not disappointed. Marieme is a young woman who, when her academic options are curtailed, finds herself seeking solace with a gang of girls. Karidja Touré is a wonder as Marieme, and that Rihanna scene is quite simply perfect.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Director – Woody Allen | Writer – Woody Allen | Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Naomi Watts {{Amazon Video}}

I’ve watched a lot of Allen films so far this year, but this one has already passed from my memory. Set in London, the narrative focuses on a single family, recently separated Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones, and their daughter and her husband, Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin. Unfortunately, it’s just totally unremarkable, though I always enjoy Lucy Punch, no matter what she’s doing.

Dad’s Army
Director – Oliver Parker | Writer – Hamish McColl | Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones {{Cinema}}

There’s no doubt that in my mind that this, a film based on the much-loved sitcom from the 60s and 70s, was made with love, rather than a cynical cash-grab. But it just doesn’t really work for me; it’s not that funny, the story meanders all over the place, and its only saving grace is the genius of Toby Jones in everything he does, and the swoon-worthy sophistication of Bill Nighy.

Zoolander
Director – Ben Stiller | Writer – Drake Sather, Ben Stiller, John Hamburg | Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor {{Netflix}}

It’s time for me to accept that I shouldn’t watch comedies just because they are considered funny by the rest of the world at large. I didn’t laugh once at Zoolander; I’m sure that a story about a male model being brainwashed to assassinate a world leader is funny, I just didn’t get it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Director – Burr Steers | Writer – Burr Steers | Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston {{Cinema}}

This is a silly film, there’s no doubt about it. I doesn’t take itself particularly seriously, and ultimately, it is a lot of nonsense. But I can’t pretend I didn’t have fun watching it. In all honesty, I will watch Pride and Prejudice in just about any form, because it makes me laugh, and I love Elizabeth Bennet.

The Revenant
Director – Alejandro G. Inarritu | Writer – Mark L. Smith, Alejandro G. Inarritu | Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson {{Cinema}}

Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo Di Caprio, is left for dead after he is mauled by a bear. The Revenant follows his journey across the wilderness as he fights for survival. There’s no better word to describe this film than ‘visceral’. It pulls no punches, and the stunning cinematography makes it a joy to watch.

Melinda and Melinda
Director – Woody Allen | Writer – Woody Allen | Radha Mitchell, Chloë Sevigny, Jonny Lee Miller {{Amazon Video}}

A debate between two intellectuals about comedy vs tragedy gives us the dual stories of Melinda, played by Radha Mitchell. In one narrative her unravelling life and neuroses play out tragically, while in the other, she plays them to her advantage, and starts a new life in New York City. Not an Allen film that I particularly enjoyed, this one; mainly due to slightly annoying characters.

A Bigger Splash
Director – Luca Guadagnino | Writer – Alan Page, David Kajganich | Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes {{Cinema}}

Tilda Swinton plays Marianne Lane, a world-famous rock star, who is recovering from throat surgery on an idyllic Italian island with her husband, played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Their peaceful holiday is disrupted by the arrival of Ralph Fiennes and his daughter, and the ensuing sexual tension plays out against the beautiful backdrop. Tilda Swinton is, as ever, masterful.

Along Came Polly
Director – John Hamburg | Writer – John Hamburg | Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman {{Television}}

Failing to learn my lesson with Zoolander, I tried another Ben Stiller comedy. I still didn’t find it funny.

Deadpool
Director – Tim Miller | Writer – Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick | Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein {{Cinema}}

I giggled my way through Deadpool: proof positive that I do get comedies, they just have to be funny. A superhero movie with a proper sense of humour about itself, it still managed to have a final act epic battle, but it made its way there with such aplomb and hilarity, it’s entirely forgiven.

Grimsby
Director – Louis Leterrier | Writer – Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston | Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson {{Cinema}}

I went to see this against my better judgement, having never been so inclined with any of Baron Cohen’s previous films. I wasn’t disappointed, because my expectations were so low. I found the whole thing almost entirely unfunny; it was crass and cheap, and I really didn’t like it. Mark Strong is so much better than this!

Ice Cold in Alex
Director – J. Lee Thompson | Writer – Christopher Landon, T.J. Morrison | John Mills, Sylvia Sims, Anthony Quayle {{Television}}

John Mills’ army captain is tasked with getting an old ambulance across the desert to Alexandria, taking two nurses, a British colleague, and a South African captain with him. The relentless heat of the Egyptian desert is the foe here, rather than enemy forces, and Mills puts in a wonderful performance as an alcoholic, battle-weary officer.

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