‘You know, it doesn’t normally snow on Christmas Eve.’ So says Joan Cusacks’ local, tin-foil wearing narrator as Let it Snow, Netflix’s latest entry to the festive canon, opens. Any slim chance that this might be some ironic nod to the fact that it always snows on Christmas Eve in films such as this dissipates rapidly. This is earnest, predictable material, carved from an algorithmic record of past successes. It’s woke Love Actually for the streaming generation, chockablock with YA stars and extracts from the Richard Curtis back catalogue. There’s no depth nor visceral meaning whatsoever here but it’s likeable enough in bite-size skits.
Continue reading Let it Snow | Review
Released almost exactly a year to the day, and now snuggly nestled on Sky Cinema, Anna and the Apocalypse boasts one stellar song. Seriously, it’s a total ear worm. You’ll know the one when you see it. That’s not to dismiss the rest of the pop light soundtrack as entirely lacking – there are zinging lyrics throughout – but rather to highlight quite how successful this bandstand centrepiece really is. Around it, the film is likeable, well cast and impressively produced. The jokes land and story holds up. If every element were as superlatively strong as said song, Anna would be an instant classic. It’s hard not to see it finding long term cult success nonetheless.
Continue reading Anna and the Apocalypse | Review
This latest offering from Hangover trilogy director Todd Philips doesn’t half get the mind going. Having earned rapturous applause from the Venice International crowd, Joker has since met critique for its crude depiction of mental health suffering and inciting of violence. Perhaps such attacks take the situation too seriously – tonal murk aside, Joker is a superhero film – but there is no smoke without fire. As a work of cinema, meanwhile, the film does impress. Philips’ direction is smart and his production handsome. Yet, the real trump card here is an immersed central turn by Joaquin Phoenix. And that’s no joke.
Continue reading Joker | Review
From directing duo Will Becher and Richard Phelan, Farmageddon is the immensely clever, laugh a minute follow up to Aardman’s similarly inspired Shaun the Sheep Movie of 2015. Yes, it really was that long ago. The film is also the apex in the history of a character who has transgressed from Wallace and Gromit sub player to international superstar. Note that Shaun’s first big screen foray won the Bristol based studio box office takings of over $100m. Perhaps part two isn’t quite so faultless as its pitch perfect predecessor but, by gum, it’s close enough to be a fan favourite.
Continue reading A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon | Review
There’s an unquenchable irresistibility to the visual prospect of an Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones screen reunion, set in the basket of a hot air balloon some 37,000 feet above the ground. A cinematic match made in heaven, which happens to be set in the heavens. Maybe it is the case that neither Redmayne nor Jones will feature in next February’s awards conversations – as they did following 2014 hit The Theory of Everything – but in the imaginations of willing audiences, they can only soar higher and higher.
Continue reading The Aeronauts | Review
Criticism for The Laundromat, Netflix’s Steven Soderbergh directed answer to Adam McKay, has been generous. This is, by all accounts, a cheap, intensely smug and fundamentally patronising exercise in flippancy. Of course, it’s evidently not cheap. Aside from Soderbergh’s likely high price tag, the film stacks debts to a pedigree of acting talent that stretches from leading turns by Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas to cameos from the likes of David Schwimmer, Sharon Stone and Matthias Schoenaerts. In delivery, the film is so irksome it’s almost enough to encourage support for Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca’s ludicrous attempts to block the film as defamatory. If only it were that entertaining.
Continue reading The Laundromat | Review
Much like Alice Through the Looking Glass before it, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has been too long coming to truly still warrant its own existence. The ever welcome screen presence of an on-form Angelina Jolie aside, this is that vogue of follow up that no one asked for and fewer still needed. Indeed, Mistress of Evil has all the drably conceived hallmarks of a sequel that Buena Vista would have shipped straight to video twenty years back. It is, at least, no worse than its predecessor, which was itself a deeply inconsistent beastie.
Continue reading Maleficent: Mistress of Evil | Review