Allied. This Robert Zemeckis film did probably suffer from having most of the story and plot twists within the trailer – this could conceivably be why this World War 2 set film being a rather boring watch. There was a genuine unpredictability to the outcome, but the getting there felt so laboured. In hindsight, I’d have preferred to have nipped out, perhaps to see an art exhibition or do my xmas shopping, and then just come back for the finale. It would have been a lot more productive.
Sully. Following the pretty average Jersey Boys then the awful, and quite frankly morally repugnant, American Sniper, Clint Eastwood is back with a good’un, about the miracle on the Hudson, when, in 2009, pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger successfully landed a passenger plane on the Hudson river like a right G. It is a weird film in some ways – in the way the story is told – but an interesting one with a great Tom Hanks performance. The film was no Mystic River or Million Dollar Baby; it was not without its flaws, as some of the dialogue was somewhat stilted and it swerved far too close to American flag waving towards the end. But a good watch overall, especially if the real life events are not that well known to you.
Snowden. Another Oliver Stone biopic and one sympathetic to its subject; and rightly so, as far as I know about Edward Snowden and the decision he made to (spoiler alert) tell the world about the fact that the NSA and CIA have the access to spy on ANYbody at ANYtime. The documentary Citizenfour was probably enough really but there was some interesting back story within this dramatisation. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as Snowden was really great but the film as a whole felt a bit boring and it was definitely gratuitously cheesy towards the end.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I am certainly not a big Harry Potter fan. I have not read the books and seen each of the films only once each. So whether this would be an advantage to liking this film or not, I do not know. However, the simple verdict to what I thought was that: it was all right. I liked that it was set in the twenties, rather than modern day – it added more character to the film – and there were some great actors doing some good things and I certainly wasn’t bored for much of it, but yeah – it was all right.
Rogue One. I am not a big Star Wars fan; this needs to be taken into account whenever I review a film from the series. I did enjoy The Force Awakens, though, in a switch-your-brain-off way, and much more than this latest one. I loved director Gareth Edwards’ debut Monsters and, while his rise to fame has been pretty incredible, his second feature Godzilla was awful and his third, Rogue One, was boring. It looked lovely and (especially if I were a super fan) I can imagine it is a nice filler between Episode 3 and 4, if watched in order but to me it was just pretty flat and pointless, particularly when watched as a standalone film.
The Eagle Huntress. A beautiful, moving, and interesting documentary. It follows the 13 year old Aisholpan who is determined to follow in her father’s footsteps to become a hunter that uses eagles, an old tradition in Mongolia, and one that usually passes from father to son. The scenery is stunning and it is a great feminist film. The level of Aisholpan’s success did seem completely unrealistic but hey – truth is stranger than fiction, as they say.
Collateral Beauty. A mixed bag of a film – mostly a mess. The cast was very strong – Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Ed Norton, Michael Pena, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Naomie Harris – and they all did well in their roles. The concept was good and left a lot of room for meaningful philosophical musings – some of which stuck nicely; some which were way too forced, overly written and cheesy. And the ending – what? (spoiler alert): Seriously, what was it saying – that they actually were Time, Death and Love and had helped them all? How fucking idiotic, if so.
FILM OF THE MONTH: The Eagle Huntress