Tenet

Alright cinema fans, it’s time for a Christopher Nolan film so you all know what that means. Get yourselves into a cinema, the bigger the better and prepare for another mind bending cinematic experience that I can barely explain but I’ll give it my best. I honestly wasn’t sure we’d get a chance to see Tenet this month or even this year. But here it is, the movie to get us all back in the cinemas again. Well it’s sure to get the Nolan fans back anyway because you can have all the online streaming platforms you want with all these seemingly endless choices but there are certain movies you need to see on a massive screen with surround sound and Tenet is that movie.

I normally give a brief overview of the plot but for spoiler reasons I obviously can’t go into any real detail. A Protagonist armed with only one word, “Tenet” fights for the survival of the entire world. If you really want a taste of what you’re in for then check out the trailer, you’ll still be confused but what can I tell you, it’s a confusing film. It’s got espionage, time travel, John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki and a little bit of Michael Caine (it wouldn’t be a Nolan film without Michael Caine now would it). What more can I say? Nolan’s originality never ceases to amaze and Tenet has raised the bar for the sci-fi genre. The entire cast are outstanding, particularly John David Washington.

The whole movie is one giant puzzle that demands your full attention. Yes, that does mean no bathroom breaks, you’re not going to want to miss a second of this believe me. I’ve only just seen it and I’m dying to see it again and because of the complex narrative, Tenet is the type of film that would benefit from a second viewing. You get everything you’d expect from a Christopher Nolan film minus the Hans Zimmer score. Yet the score by Ludwig Göransson fits Tenet perfectly although I did find it overpowered some of the dialogue at times. Still, the exhilarating soundtrack will keep you on the edge of your seat. The stunts and practical effects are truly impressive. We all know Nolan favours real effects over CGI where possible and the results clearly pay off. Tenet is original, complex and exceptional. Not afraid to push the boundaries and raise the standard for what comes next.

The cinemas are open safely and ready so when you feel ready too be sure not to miss Tenet, better yet do yourself a favour and see it in 35mm or 70mm. Highly recommended.

★★★★★

Pinocchio

I don’t care how old you are, anyone can enjoy a well told fairy tale and although I wasn’t too sure what to expect from Matteo Garrone’s interpretation of Pinocchio, the result is a beautifully dark retelling of the classic fairy tale. It really is refreshing to see a remake not done by Disney these days. This adaptation of Pinocchio has found the balance between nostalgia and a faithful retelling of a film we all grew up loving/traumatised by (I can’t be the only one who found the donkey scene traumatic as a child).

I’m sure anyone reading this is familiar with the story of Pinocchio but just in case; a poverty stricken wood-maker Geppetto creates a wooden puppet who magically comes alive. In order to become a real boy he must prove himself to be truthful and unselfish. There’s also a cricket, a fairy and some other fun characters in there too, just don’t expect the cricket to sing. Immediately it’s clear that this adaptation is much more faithful to the original novel. Surprisingly dark and atmospheric but it’s visually stunning and accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack by Dario Marianelli. The makeup for everyone is also very impressive even a little unsettling at how realistic it looks. This is exactly the kind of film a live adaptation should be, true to its source material with a dark tone and not overly reliant on CGI.

Recapture your childhood and let the nostalgia wash over you with this remake of Pinocchio that’s sure to delight people of all ages. Recommended.

★★★★☆

Unhinged

Nothing says welcome back to the cinemas better than a deranged and demented Russell Crowe driving around the city in a rage-induced rampage.

Rachel’s (Caren Pistorius) already stressful day gets a whole lot worse after a confrontation with a highly unstable man at an intersection. Enter manic Russell Crowe and his roaring pickup truck. Rachel quickly becomes his target and spends the rest of this crime fuelled thriller trying to escape a severely unhinged man. Buckle up for a movie that’s not quite Duel and not quite Falling Down but somewhere in between. Keeps its foot on the pedal from the get-go and doesn’t let up till the credits roll. Stressful to say the least, but it does the job. It’s not the most original or memorable film you’ll ever see and honestly without Crowe Unhinged probably wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar. Yet he makes a great villain with a very menacing onscreen presence. It’s tense, entertaining, and may cause some paranoia the next time you get in your car.

Unhinged is the fun and immersive cinematic experience we need right now and after 157 days without seeing a single movie in the cinema I can tell you nothing felt better than losing myself in the big screen and forgetting all the other madness for 90 minutes. So if you’re itching to get back to the cinemas again and looking for something distracting and entertaining, Unhinged is waiting for you. Recommended.

★★★☆☆

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man is better than I ever expected it to be

Cecilia’s (Elisabeth Moss) abusive ex Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) commits suicide and leaves her his fortune. The relief that he is gone from her life is short lived as a series of very strange occurrences begin to happen to her. She suspects Adrian’s death was a hoax and he has found a way to haunt her without anyone seeing. How does she convince everyone that she is being terrorized by something invisible?

First off I had low expectations for The Invisible Man after watching the trailer, I felt it had bad horror movie written all over it. Not only that, but The Invisible Man was supposed to be one of the many monster movies in the Dark Universe franchise. A franchise that failed after one movie, you can all go ahead and blame Tom Cruise’s Mummy movie for that one. But The Invisible Man is not that kind of movie. The opening scene sets the tone of the type of movie you will be watching, taking a real life frightening situation and builds a horror movie around it. It uses everything at its disposal to keep you in a constant state of unease. From the camera work to the score and absolutely everything that Elisabeth Moss is doing. She really is superb in this, her facial expressions and stunt work are brilliant. I thought The Handmaid’s Tale was showing us Elisabeth Moss’s full range of emotional capabilities but she is well and truly pushed to her limits with this performance.

Everything about The Invisible Man pushes it away from your average horror. It doesn’t restrict itself to one genre, yes it is for the most part a horror movie but it’s also dealing with a very serious subject matter. The physically and emotionally abusive relationship and the aftermath of that. It raises issues of how we treat victims of abuse and the devastating effect it can have on one’s mental and physical health. It’s incredibly tense, unexpectedly horrifying and jam packed with frights. It will make you jump out of your skin and with plenty of stress inducing moments you’ll be on the edge of your seat. I’m impressed with how this movie has been reinvented to suit today’s audience. It is well worth taking the time to see, highly recommended.

★★★★☆

Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Don’t let the abysmal Suicide Squad taint your enjoyment of this ridiculously fun film

Birds of Prey turned out to be the kind of movie Suicide Squad should have been. Fun, violent with a snappy script and the cast all having one hell of a good time. If you want something a bit lighter after awards season then join Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey on a fantabulous crime filled ride.

Harley and the Joker have broken up (yes that does mean Jared Leto will not be anywhere in sight, relax). After an unlikely series of events Harley Quinn teams up with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to rescue a young girl, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from an evil crime lord. Enter Ewan McGregor as evil crime lord Roman Sionis and his trusty henchman/personal serial killer Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina). Did you get all that? One of Suicide Squad’s only redeeming qualities was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She was the only character with any real development, not only likable but you can sympathize with her even when she’s doing all kinds of mad things. Birds of Prey expands on this further only this time you’ve got more female characters kicking ass and not just parading around in a pair of hot pants.

The stunts are straight out of a comic book or a video game, this is far from your serious, grounded in reality comic book movie. But it’s over the top without introducing anything overly far-fetched like witches or a badly CGI half man half crocodile. The action and stunts are ludicrous, particularly anything happening in the third act but hopefully you’ll be too busy having a good time to notice. And if that wasn’t enough, Birds of Prey also has a hyena and Ewan McGregor doing a full on 60’s Batman villain performance. Seriously all that was missing was the “POW” “SNAP” “BAM” colourful bubbles whenever he’s onscreen throwing a hissy fit or attempting to be menacing. It’s totally bonkers from start to finish. If you enjoy comic book movies at all then be sure to check out Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.

★★★☆☆

Parasite

Parasite is without a doubt one of the best films I’ve seen in years

I felt so many emotions watching Parasite and I’m dying to see it again. There is a reason you’ve heard so much about this film. Yes, it’s true some movies that receive a lot of hype end up not quite living up to it but in this case do not be afraid to believe the hype. It’s an original story with superb acting. I’ve never seen anything like it, one of the best films I’ve seen in years. Film fans this is not to be missed it’s phenomenal and will stay with you long after it has ended.

An unemployed family (the Kims) take a very keen interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks family, quickly integrating themselves into their lives despite the stark contrast in social status. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot because the less you know about Parasite the better. It’s incredibly unexpected and does not play out the way you think it would at all. It gives you moments of extreme awkwardness and hilarity. There are times where you have to laugh just to release the ever building tension. It’s a comedy, drama and horror all rolled into one masterful movie. Bleak, violent, a dark and twisted story that will constantly keep you guessing.

Director and writer Bong Joon Ho has truly outdone himself with this masterpiece. Parasite is one of those rare films you can’t stop thinking about after you leave the cinema. It’s so profoundly disturbing and bizarre I’m still trying to process it. I understand not everyone takes the time to see subtitled films and to them I can only say you honestly don’t know what you’re missing. Foreign language films have the extra edge to them, and if you don’t believe me then just take the time to see The Host, The Raid or Pan’s Labyrinth. Very few foreign language films have the potential to finally break the record by winning a Best Picture Oscar but if anything can do it Parasite can.

Unpredictable and highly provocative, I cannot recommend this highly enough. If you only see one film this year let it be Parasite. What else do I need to say? Are you still reading this? Well stop, get yourself to a cinema and see it, you won’t be sorry.

★★★★★

The Turning

It’s not just as bad as you expect…it’s worse

Have any of you ever been to an average amusement park with a less than average haunted house/ghost train where half the machines don’t work and the ones that do are so far from scary you just want the whole experience to end as soon as possible? Yeah, that’s what it’s like to watch The Turning.

Kate (Mackenzie Davis) takes a new job in a totally creepy mansion as a live in governess for two orphans, Flora (Brooklyn Prince) and Miles (Finn Wolfhard). She soon discovers that the house and the children are harboring some dark, disturbing secrets. And in proper horror movie fashion it takes all the clichés you’ve seen before and stuffs them into an hour and a half desperately hoping something will scare you. Not only does it fail at it’s one job it also has nothing else going for it. There’s no atmosphere, it introduces various themes bordering on mystery or psychological thriller but the result is a bland boring mess. It’s all over the place with the horror movie tropes you’ve seen done before only better. As the story progresses it only gets worse and in the last act you could be forgiven for thinking you fell asleep only to wake up towards the end and ask yourself “what just happened?” I was awake the whole time and I felt like this, I was still asking myself that question when it finally ended. Only I don’t care enough to look into to the fact that it feels like a chunk of this film is missing, I honestly don’t care.

The casting was about the only thing The Turning got right. Davis, Prince and Wolfhard are better actors than The Turning would have you believe. So it’s painful to see them in such a badly written, generic horror. Not recommended, trust me you’ll regret wasting time on this one. But if you don’t want to take my word for it I can assure you the other four people in the cinema didn’t seem too impressed with The Turning either.

★☆☆☆☆

Just Mercy

Based on real events, Just Mercy leaves you speechless. It’s a harrowing journey that will make your blood boil and stay with you long after you leave the cinema.

World-renowned civil rights defence attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) moves to Alabama in the 1980’s to defend wrongly condemned death row prisoners. With the help of Eva Ansley (Brie Larson) he works on his first case, Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx). Although the case was built on very little evidence and some questionable testimony, McMillian was put on death row for the murder of an 18-year-old girl. Bryan delves into this case in a desperate attempt to free a man condemned to death for a horrific crime.

Michael B. Jordan doesn’t give an angry shouty storming around the courtroom type of performance you almost expect him to give. Instead giving a much more subtle but very powerful performance that dominates every scene. Foxx gives an equally moving performance as the tormented death row inmate. There’s lots of opportunities to develop their characters and how both performances were completely overlooked for any awards is beyond me. There’s a lot to dislike about awards season and this kind of blatant snubbing is one of them. Stevenson comes up against constant racism and bias during his time working with convicted dead row inmates. Just Mercy is definitely a movie to make you re-evaluate your stance on the death penalty.

I was not familiar with any of the details of this story and the injustice and corruption is not only shocking in itself it’s also shocking as to how recent this is. Just Mercy gives you a lot to think about, highly emotional and highly recommended.

★★★★☆

Bombshell

A highly topical film with a stand out cast, the three central performances by Theron, Kidman and Robbie are reason enough to see Bombshell.

Bombshell is heavily based on a real scandal against Fox News head Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) and the toxic atmosphere he presided over at the network. It follows three women working at Fox News, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie). As with all “based on true events” movies one has to be aware that certain creative liberties will always be at play. Yes the main plot details will hopefully be accurate but everything around that is up for debate. It’s best not to dwell on that as it may hinder your enjoyment of the film itself. In one way you will be entertained watching Bombshell with its snappy dialogue, hoping to get a few laughs from you. But keep in the mind the subject matter. It flips from one end of the spectrum to the other very quickly and there are a couple of scenes that are shocking and very uncomfortable to watch. John Lithgow is absolutely vile as Roger Ailes. I do mean that as a compliment, his performance is so convincing it will make your skin crawl. Lithgow and Theron’s transformation into their characters is very impressive and credit has to be given to the prosthetic makeup designer, Kazu Hiro. There are a lot of good contenders among the Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar nominees this year but Bombshell deserves to win.

Bombshell does highlight the toxic environment of the news network and you’ll feel two very strong emotions when watching it. Empathy towards the women, which is only enhanced by the superb acting from the cast and anger towards the harmful work environment and severe lack of repercussions to these high up sexual predators abusing their positions of power. Although I can’t fault the acting from anyone I’m not sure Bombshell is making the grand statement it thinks it’s making. It doesn’t shy away from the allegations against Ailes but other than that it doesn’t really deal with the issues it has raised. Has anything really changed? I didn’t have a high opinion of Fox News and Bombshell doesn’t do a whole lot to change that. It also feels like it’s trying to empower women yet it doesn’t exactly achieve that either. It’s an appropriate film and suitable for today’s climate, I only wish it had tried to be less like a comedy and delve deeper into the subject matter. Regardless it’s still worth your time and recommended.

★★★★☆

1917

Set during WWI, two young British soldiers Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given an impossible mission, to deliver a message to call off a planned attack that would see 1,600 men walk straight into a trap. 1917 follows these two soldiers on their deadly mission across enemy territory. You’re going to feel every minute of this film because it’s a outstanding story and a masterclass in film making.

MacKay and Chapman quickly meld into their characters, you can no longer see the acting and you’re thrown headfirst into this incredibly tense film. Throughout 1917 you could hear a pin drop it was that quiet, and my local cinema generally tends to sound something like a zoo at the best of times so for it to be that quiet is almost unheard of. With a nearly sold out screen, every single person was fully immersed in this spectacular War film. Expertly directed by Sam Mendes and complimented by a haunting soundtrack by Thomas Newman. The score is beautiful and it looks like it will be a very close competition between Newman and Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Joker soundtrack.

I should have known the cinematographer was Roger Deakins and his decision to film 1917 as a series of long takes is extremely bold and ambitious. At nearly two hours it plays out like one continuous shot, it’s truly stunning and I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into that. The sweeping camera work is skilfully done and it’s near impossible to see the edits. All the behind the scenes work should pay off because I believe 1917 is going to clean up at the Oscars and rightly so. If you’ve made it this far without seeing the trailer then keep it that way because the trailer does this film no justice. It honestly gave me the impression that this was a generic Oscar bait war movie. This is far from the case, 1917 is an original take on a war film and I know it’s early in the year to say this but we’ve already seen one of the best films of the year. A film that needs to be seen on the big screen, so what are you waiting for, get to a cinema and see 1917. Highly recommended.

★★★★★