Hello, aliens! I’m a tad late (as usual), but welcome to Watched This Month – May edition! I had a Birthday this month and what seemed like endless busy days, but I managed to get a lot of watching done. Even more than in April, actually! I went a little over-the-top-crazy with the word count last time, so I’ve given myself a little break and have cut down on my comments this month. Sorry! I’ll put aside some more time in June. These posts always take longer than I anticipate when I try and make everything a full blown review (ie. April). Anyway, enough blabbering! On with it!
|10 Cloverfield Lane (Dir. Dan Trachtenberg)
After waking from a car accident, a young woman finds herself locked in an underground bunker with a man who proclaims to have saved her life and that, while she was resting, a chemical attack has rendered the outside uninhabitable.
I never saw Cloverfield, but this very distant cousin was truly impressive. Enveloped in mystery and suspense and with John Goodman’s character lending the film a very unnerving quality, it kept me guessing and absorbed all the way through. It’s not a particularly ambitious or deep film, but it’s a thriller done absolutely right.
|Captain America: Civil War (Dir. Joe Russo and Anthony Russo)
A rift grows between the Avengers – particularly Iron Man and Captain American – due to political interference following a variety of large-scale incidents involving civilian casualties.
I’ve spoken before of my Avengers fatigue, but found myself enjoying Civil War a lot more than expected. Despite being a tad convoluted at times, the plot – while not spectacular – came together rather well and the drama felt largely authentic. The villain, too, was a breath of fresh air and the action was very entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the final confrontation and hope that it actually has ramifications come the sequels and that everything isn’t miraculously resolved.
|Children of Men (Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)
A thriller set in Britain, 2027. Society is on the brink of collapse: the female population has become infertile and the UK is home to the worlds last functioning government, which imposes oppressive immigration laws on refugees. A former activist agrees to help transport a refugee to safety, but discovers she is miraculously pregnant.
A powerful film with a deeply captivating plot and some tremendous performances. The gritty and harsh backdrop is beautifully shot, with many truly poignant and memorable sequences. It’s a decade old this year, but feels just as relevant.
|Faults (Dir. Riley Stearns)
A comedy-drama about a despondent writer and cult specialist whose most recent book has been a failure. He agrees to ‘deprogram’ a couples’ daughter, but the situation takes an unexpected turn.
A fairly solid directorial debut with an engrossing first half an hour or so; I just wasn’t a fan of where the plot went thereafter (but Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were both amazing throughout).
|Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 (Dir. James Marsh)
The second Red Riding installment; this time following a detective trying to solve the case of the Yorkshire Ripper, which in turn uncovers massive police corruption.
I was completely unaware the Red Riding trilogy featured a different cast each movie and was thus a little disappointed by the lack of Andrew Garfield, but Paddy Constantine knocked it out of the park. A fine piece of bleak neo-noir filmmaking.
|Starry Eyes (Dir. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer)
A determined wannabe actress submits herself to an ominous group of people in exchange for fame and fortune.
I watched this because somebody on the internet recalled it after watching the trailer for The Neon Demon. They said it was quite good, but I thought it was awful. A gratuitous and vulgar movie with dull, shallow characters and a bunch of horror cliches. Gotta get that finger nail peeling scene in there. Really, now. I hope The Neon Demon is nothing like this.
|The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Dir. Guy Ritchie)
Despite tensions amid the Cold War, a CIA agent and a KGB agent must team up to stop a criminal organisation from manufacturing a nuclear weapon that would upset the fragile balance of power between the Eastern and Western blocs.
A wonderfully lively, fun and action packed spy caper. Sounds a little cliche on paper, comes across as anything but on film. Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander are near perfect and the film is just so witty and sensational that it never tires. I hope they make another. Would’ve made my top ten had I see it last year.
|The Spectacular Now (Dir. James Ponsoldt)
A coming of age story that follows a hard-partying, freewheeling high school senior whose outlook on life changes after meeting his polar opposite: a reserved, bookish girl.
In the same vein as films like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Spectacular Now is a completely endearing and wholly relatable coming of age tale centered on two very authentic, three-dimensional characters. It grabbed me from the off and still hasn’t quite let go. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are tremendous together and I can’t imagine the film being as memorable without them. I’ve read the book has a more sombre ending, but loved that the film wasn’t explicitly happy or sad, which made it all the more pensive. Definitely one of the best of the genre.
|Warsaw ’44 (Dir. Jan Komasa)
A wartime drama portraying the events of the Warsaw Uprising through the eyes of a group of young freedom fighters, with sprinklings of romance.
The film seems to have received a resoundingly average response online, but I really adored it. Here’s an excerpt from my review.
Warsaw ’44 is a thoroughly tremendous film; as engrossing and powerful as it is haunting and frightful. It’s beautifully shot and aesthetically rich, which almost leaves as much an impression as the sorrowful story and soul-stirring subject matter. Yes, it’s slightly sensationalised and picky on details, but it’s also a very credible piece that – terrifically – is both thrilling and instructive.
|While We’re Young (Dir. Noah Baumbach)
A middle aged husband and wife enjoy a fresh outlook on life after befriending a young go-getting couple.
Similar to Faults, I really enjoyed the first half of While We’re Young, but ultimately wasn’t a fan of where it went. It felt a little meandering at times and the commentary on documentary ethics didn’t really go anywhere, but the humorous scenes are plentiful and there’s a lot of fun to be had. If you’re a fan of Ben Stiller’s likeably agitated persona, then you’ll love him in this.
|Zootopia (Dir. Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush)
Freshly recruited Officer Hopps and her easy-going fox friend Nick Wilde attempt to solve a missing animal case in the mammal metropolis of Zootopia.
An ingenious if at times cliche animated mystery-adventure that doubles up as a buddy cop movie. The plot is entertaining and the writers and vocal talent do well to flesh out a rather extensive cast. The city of Zootopia is spectacular and has a lot of scope for sequels. One of Disney’s best of recent times.
And there we have it! Eleven films this month. At this point, I would usually move on to television, but from now on I’ve decided to only write about TV shows once I’ve finished watching them. I enjoyed composing my month-to-month commentaries, but spreading my thoughts across multiple posts is a little troublesome and disorderly. Writing just one entry per show once I’ve seen it in its entirety will allow me to write a much more conclusive and extensive review and is just a more organised way to do things. So that means Game of Thrones Season 6 and Peaky Blinders Season 3 thoughts next month.
Until then, my friends. Ciao!