Wednesday, January 31, 2018

On The Films I Saw But Didn't Review

2017 was a strange and busy year. Full of lots of films, to be sure. Unfortunately, I was unable to get around to writing about everything I saw.

This blog has always been a passion project, and the moment putting content out becomes stressful I know it's time to take a step back. With this in mind, I made a point to take note of the films I wanted to write about and put together a collective piece briefly sharing my thoughts on each of them.

So this is it! It's written slightly more informally and is more of a brain-dump than my usual reviews, but I hope you enjoy it all the same. There are so many films I'm looking forward to seeing this year, I can't wait to share more reviews on this blog. In the meantime, thanks for checking in.

Baby Driver



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Bursting onto the scene with its all American cast and Hollywood action movie stunts and car chases, Edgar Wright's 6th feature promised something a bit different. However, despite its production value and inherent Americanism, Baby Driver is consistent with Wright's signature style, though admittedly more refined.

Baby Driver decidedly became one of my favourite films of 2017. It really is the full package, with the right amount of humour, well-rounded characterisation, fast-paced and witty dialogue with electric action scenes, all topped off with a 10/10 soundtrack.

For my review of Edgar Wright's 2013 film The World's End, click here.

Okja


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Okja manages to provide a thought-provoking commentary on animal exploitation and the meat industry without feeling preachy. Its commentary did at times feel cheapened slightly by the cartoonish nature of some of its characters, namely Tilda Swinton's Lucy Mirando, head of the corporation in charge of the Super Pig competition.

The stand-out performance by far was from young lead Seo-Hyun Ahn as Mija. She manages to perfectly convey her love for her large piggy companion, Okja. Starting out in a remote, mountainous region of South Korea, we are soon taken through Seoul, to New York and beyond, and shown the truest and purest of bonds, that of a young girl and her pet.

Dunkirk



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Many have already remarked on the technical prowess of Nolan's newest feature. In line with his interest in the theme of time, we are shown Dunkirk from three different perspectives: land, sea, and sky. All of which operate in their own separate and respective time zones.

Immersive though this film is, its characterisation is non-existent. For all its technical bravado, it remains a soulless husk, failing to communicate the complexity of the myriad of human lives lost and emotions felt on the day.

Yes, the fear and intensity are palpable, but we are given no reason beyond the immersion that the sharp sound design, and Hoyte Van Hoytema’s brilliant cinematography provide, to care about the fate of the protagonists. Though this may sound cold, that's how the film feels. It works more successfully as a reenactment piece, lacking as it is in anything human unlike Inception, Interstellar or really any of Nolan's other films.

The Beguiled



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Though Coppola remains one of, if not my all-time favourite director, she failed to capture my attention with her spin on the wild 1971 thriller. Admittedly, my expectations were high, as the original provides ample opportunity for her to explore some interesting themes similar to those of her previous work.

However, she doesn't stray far from the original source material, with some aspects feeling shot-for-shot the same, making the eventual twist feel stale and predictable. Perhaps it is to be better enjoyed by those unfamiliar with Don Siegel's original, as a standalone feature in line with her whimsical cinematic style. For those expecting something new or original, it won't be found here.

Click here to read a piece I wrote for Little White Lies Magazine last year about the thematic comparisons between The Virgin Suicides and The Beguiled.
For my review of The Bling Ring, click here.

Blade Runner 2049




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Blade Runner 2049 came as one of the more disappointing films of 2017, that is after T2, of which you can read my review here. I went into this film wanting to like it but just couldn't find the will to care about its characters.

As a whole, it felt like Blade Runner 2049 was trying to be more clever and thought-provoking than it actually was. The original Blade Runner did a much better job at questioning the human condition in a world where replicants are possible. Not to mention, with all the possible narrative directions this film could have gone down, given the ambiguity of its predecessor and the world it left behind, the plot was actually quite absurd.

With regards to what it means to be human, the original asked those questions with more subtlety. Sadly, that nuance and ambiguity are lost in Denis Villeneuve's sequel, making it feel hollow and tedious.

The Handmaiden



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Though technically a 2016 film, I only got around to seeing this at the end of last year. Another of my favourite films I saw this year, I only wish I had watched it sooner!

Playfully erotic and gorgeously shot, there are some scenes in here that feel pulled straight from an oil painting, such is the richness of the colour, texture, and dark atmospheric allure of the dark set-pieces and the devious characters that inhabit them

A sly and sexy revenge thriller, The Handmaiden throws curveballs that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its closing credits roll.

Goodbye Christopher Robin


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More than a little twee, but enjoyable all the same, Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the story of how the world's favourite 'hunny' loving teddy bear came to be.

Having just returned from serving in the first world war, Alan Alexander Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is set to get stuck into his heavy, pacifistic anti-war tome. Meanwhile, young Christopher Robin (Will Tilston), known to his family as 'Billy Moon' is lonely and bored, having been left in his father's care by his absentee mother (Margot Robbie) and Scottish nanny (Kelly Macdonald).

After much deliberation, Alan drops his pen and gets on board with some much needed father-son bonding time. Coming to terms with his post-war PTSD, he softens and grows to admire Christopher's fun-loving approach to life, and gets to know some of his animal friends. With this, a poem or two, and a children's book, the world falls in love with Christopher Robin and his Pooh bear.

Thrust into the spotlight against his will, Christopher must face the reality of his unwanted fame as he learns that the precious bonding time he spent with his father and woodland friends is no longer his alone. A peek into the flustered world of child stars, and fortune in a family fraught with tension despite its ideal facade under the gloss of fame, it's a story that needed to be told.