Logan. A really great standalone superhero film. The fact it doesn’t have to serve a larger universe or sequel is a big factor here, as is the 15 certificate. Not to take away from the screenplay, direction, and strong lead performance from Hugh Jackman. This is a strong film in itself with Patrick Stewart and the great young Dafne Keen excelling too.
20th Century Women. Mike Mills’ first feature length film since the excellent Beginners (2010) is as equally excellent. He has a great way of telling stories and creating complex characters – everyone in it is on top form and they are likable and unlikable at different points throughout. There’s just a nice feeling to it all, with some awesome music and poignancy.
Elle. Isabelle Huppert, as fantastic as ever, plays the head of a successful video game company, who is raped in her home and, instead of informing the police (for reasons that are revealed eventually) she starts to deal with the matter herself. Her character is ruthless (in business and in love), funny, likeable, frustrating and baffling – as well as sociopathic. I wondered about the characters reaction to being raped – especially since this was a film written by a man, directed by a man, and based on a book by a man. At times, I felt as if it was diminishing the effect that rape has on the victim. But, on reflection, it seems to show the full meaning of consent in a powerful way. She is violently raped without consent and later has violent sex with very clear consent. And this is important within the character arcs, as well as in the morality it is trying to show. Understandably divisive and difficult to articulate an opinion on – but definitely a must see.
Kong: Skull Island. Quite frankly, absolute pants. A lot of well known faces here who could have been doing something much better with their acting skills. Tom Hiddleston’s lead is insanely dull with a half-written back story and the whole film is just so full of cliché and silly character decisions. Kong’s first attack is nicely choreographed, yes. There’s some great music, too, but it mostly feels awkwardly crowbarred in because, hey, we got a film set in the seventies, let’s use loads of seventies music! It’s a shame, because this could have been much more entertaining, even without completely getting away from it being an inevitable big, dumb action movie.
Get Out. A wonderfully creepy and well crafted film. Real life racial tensions were transferred perfectly into a horror movie setting here and the actors clearly have some good fun with it. Daniel Kaluuya plays the lead character’s understandable bewilderment and fear perfectly and is supported by great performances from Allison Williams, Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford, among others. There was a genuine sense throughout that this might not actually have a happy ending as well. Small flaws, such as me guessing a plot twist after first seeing the trailer, plus a few passing annoyances, didn’t ruin the overall quality, and enjoyment, of the film.
Personal Shopper. A weird one, this. I could never really get a grip on it. It is a ghost story, but it more a story about loss. I liked elements – an unnerving atmosphere was created well, Kristan Stewart was spot on, and it is a film that has lingered with me for a while after viewing it. However, while watching it I found it a bit frustrating, and sometimes boring and nonsensical. So, in conclusion, perhaps it needs another watch in a few months.
Prevenge. Alice Lowe’s feature-length directorial debut, a film she made while seven months pregnant, is along the same kind of funny/gory/bonkers lines as Sightseers, which she co-wrote. Not quite as good, it’s a bit rougher round the edges, but still super funny and actually rather sad and poignant at times between the laughs and blood.
Ghost in the Shell. There were some lovely visuals, and even the odd good idea, in this Scarlett Johansson-led adaption of the Japanese anime. Overall, however, it was a soulless (or ghostless) affair. There just wasn’t anything new being said here, so it felt as if making it was just a big waste of everyone’s time and effort.
FILM OF THE MONTH: 20th Century Women
DUD OF THE MONTH: Kong: Skull Island