Reviewing Every Movie I’ve Seen This Year
Well, it’s election day, which means we’re all way too antsy to sit down and read anything heavy because we need to get up and check the poll numbers one last time dammit so I’m fulfilling my national duty by providing some futile form of distraction to keep you busy until ten tonight when everything stops and starts. Basically, I’ve been to see a bunch of films this year that I never got around to reviewing, so here’s my hot take on shit you’ve lost interest in by now!
La La Land
I mean, I only didn’t review this one because I think my opinions on it are so blindingly clear. Not only does it have the cheek to star Ryan Gosling, but this so-called musical only has about a half-dozen fucking songs in it and none of them are very good. It’s trite, boring, uninspired and masturbatory, and underserves one of my favourite cinematic genres, musical theater. La La Land is proof that, as white people, we really need to step down and take a long, hard look at ourselves, because this is pretty unacceptable. Relevant: my rant about Another Day of Sun and why, despite being the best song, it’s the worst song.
I saw this on the same day as La La Land, and I was frankly still so cross about the former that I barely had time to think about how a two-and-a-half hour historical religious epic starring Spiderman and Qui-Gon-Jinn wasn’t really what I was up for. But thank God I didn’t, because otherwise I might have talked myself out of seeing this fucking incredible film – whatever you think Scorcese’s masterpiece is, you’re wrong, and it’s this movie instead. I cannot overstate how brilliant Andrew Garfield’s performance is as an Italian missionary sent to Japan in the seventeenth century, and he’s matched by an equally excellent supporting cast including Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, and Tadanobu Asano. Sweeping and epic and yet highly personal, Silence is beyond powerful and moves into the truly ground-shaking. A woman had to be led out of our viewing bawling her eyes out, and if that doesn’t sell you on this, nothing will.
Trainspotting was one of the first truly adult films I ever watched and I still have the biggest soft spot for it, so I was a little skeptical about the sequel – and while, yeah, it’s not as good as the original, it’s not far off. As with the first movie it’s really the performances that make this what it is, with a rose-tinted nostalgia and a sharp script that stops it getting too soppy. Robert Carlyle is perhaps even better here than in the original, and if you loved the first movie, there’s plenty here to recommend, including another great soundtrack.
Man, I’m still not over the fact that this beat La La Land at the Oscars – not because I didn’t think it should, but because it seemed like such a long shot. Moonlight is a transcendentally brilliant film, and every good thing that someone at your work who saw it says about it is true to the nth degree. The story charts a gay black boy through his troubled upbringing, but instead of exploiting the natural exploitable dark corners of that premise, the movie looks for humanity and finds it in a collection of brilliant performances (particularly from Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris) and heartfelt moments.
I don’t think Personal Shopper is the greatest movie ever or anything – Olivier Assayas’ acclaimed previous film, Clouds of Sils Maria, is where to look for a contender in that category – but it really does underline what a fucking brilliant actress Kristen Stewart is. As the titular personal shopper haunted by the ghost of her dead brother, she explores grief, loss, and fear of death with nuance and intelligence, helped along by an interesting if meandering script. Go see it, just for her.
Kong: Skull Island
You know, I really don’t get Tom Hiddelstone. I mean, he’s fine as Loki and whatever, but most of the time he just seems to have on this slightly exasperated pouty face like he’s just remembered about a cup of tea that has inevitably gone cold by now. But he’s not the only problem with this uninspired prequel – apart from a very solid action scene to introduce the titular gorilla, everything is a mush of CGI yawnerity and plodding plotting that even the otherwise-solid cast (John Goodman, John C Reilly, Brie Larson) can’t overcome.
This one almost slipped under my radar – a low-budget British period drama about a young woman married off in a political union finding twisted ways to reclaim her power – and I’m both glad and upset that it didn’t. Because while this movie is excellent, the performances from leading woman Florence Pugh and her leading man Cosmo Jarvis scintillating and simmering and the direction phenomenal, this film fucked me up. It really is great, but had I known some of the stuff it was going to show, I wouldn’t have gone to see it. I was waiting in the queue for the bathroom afterwards, and a woman who’d been in the same showing I had turned to me and went “Good thing there’s a bar upstairs, eh?”. So yeah, be warned, but see it if you can.
I really like Ben Wheatley, who directed Free Fire, and most of the cast of his most recent action-comedy (Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, etc), but this film was utterly and completely forgettable. Apart from the fact that Hollywood seems to have finally figured out that Arnie Hammer is at his best playing an asshole, there’s nothing I can say about this movie except to shrug with my eyebrows half-raised.
Yeah, this really was as good as everyone said it was. If you haven’t seen it already, just fucking do it, and start counting down the days till Jordan Peele’s next movie comes out like the rest of us.
I hope you manage to muddle through this election day one way or another, and that you’ll join me for another six months of grumbling about movies! As ever, if you’d like to read more from this blog, please consider donating to my Patreon.