Review: February 2020
Movie Of The Month
Parasite – Worth the hype! Out in the US to widespread acclaim last autumn, Parasite had a limited release in the UK and only got more showings once it scooped both Best Picture and Best International Film at the Oscars.
The film follows two families of four, one rich and one poor, with the latter trying to improve their situation in life by taking advantage of the former. How they achieve this goal is cleverly revealed layer by layer by director Bong Joon-ho, who adds plenty of tension and occasional humour. Just as he has you hooked into this storyline, the film unexpectedly makes a genre swerve and takes a different turn towards its finale. The cast are all exceptional and the film is truly deserving of all the plaudits it has been earning.
Queen & Slim – The two leads, played by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, have crackling chemistry and there’s an electrifying opening, as the two have an encounter with a police officer that leads to them going on the run. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t sustain that energy.
Birds Of Prey – D.C.’s latest is a decent enough action film even if it’s not particularly memorable. Margot Robbie is again excellent as Harley Quinn and Ewan McGregor enjoys himself immensely as Black Mask. The forming of the Birds only happens very late in the film and there are signs they could make a promising sequel given the camaraderie between the group. Or just give Mary Elizabeth Winstead her own film as the very awkward Huntress.
Sonic The Hedgehog – I came into this with no great connection to the character so there were no great expectations to live up to, as such the film is fine. I think Sonic looks good and there’s some good interplay between him and his human friend played by James Marsden, including one early contender for funniest scene of the year so far. Jim Carrey has a great time as the villain, Dr Robotnik. I’m told by people much more invested in the games that there are loads of Easter eggs to look out for. Make sure to stay through the credits!
Emma. – I really didn’t like the majority of this film, although it did pick up towards the end after a very slow start. Just about worth watching for Bill Nighy. He doesn’t have much to say but his mannerisms are tremendous.
Greed – Steve Coogan stars as retail entrepreneur Richard McCreadie, a man who cares more about wealth and the need to show that wealth than his businesses. That wealth, which he is using for a lavish birthday party, is played off against the working conditions of those in Asian countries making the products he sells. There are some very funny scenes but it has an uneven tone that doesn’t quite work.
The Call Of The Wild – The story centre’s on Buck, a dog who over the course of the film endures various owners. One of which is Harrison Ford, who is doing grizzled, grumpy old man very well. The CGI animals may look a little strange at times but the scenery is gorgeous and it’s just a really nice movie.
Dark Waters – Shot in a dull, grainy way this looks like a 70’s thriller – only they forgot to add the thrills. Mark Ruffalo is solid enough as the big-time lawyer who goes against what he knows to take on what initially appears a small-time case. The case itself is fascinating, looking at the use of poisonous chemicals, but the film never quite grips.
The Invisible Man – Sensational modern updating of H.G. Wells’ classic novel. Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia, a woman who escapes a bad relationship only to be continually haunted by her past. Plenty of scares and a sense of dread is provided by some dazzling camerawork. The sound and music work is awesome, at times propelling along scenes and other times leaving you in eerie silence.
Performance Of The Month
Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man – To say Moss carries this movie is an understatement. She’s hardly ever off-screen. Moss has to show a wide range of emotions from fear to paranoia to vulnerability, and she’s awesome in every situation. On the small-screen she has an amazing pedigree, having starred in The West Wing (aka The Greatest Show Ever) Mad Men, Top Of The Lake, and The Handmaid’s Tale. It would be great to see her translating that more regularly on film, like she managed here.
Ensemble Of The Month
Parasite – Another prize for this one. It’s very much an ensemble with every member of both families getting a chance to shine.
Preview: March 2020
Onward (March 6) – Pixar return with their first original film since the brilliant Coco three years ago. Not too much is known about Onward yet, but we do know it’s set in a fantastical world and features mega-stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, voicing two brothers who go on some kind of quest to reconnect with their late father.
Also Out in March
A Quiet Place II (March 20) – John Krasinski returns as writer/director for the sequel to his own hit. Real-life wife Emily Blunt is back as his onscreen wife, as is the rest of the young family from the first film. Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou also join the cast. It seems the Abbot family will be venturing further from home this time as the mysterious creatures continue to create havoc.
Mulan (March 27) – Disney continues to reimagine their animated back catalogue as live-action films. I think this one is a little more interesting because I’m not sure Mulan quite has the classic status of the others they’ve done so far, and it’s certainly not one that I know well. The trailer gives the vibe of a sweeping action epic and looks spectacular.
This month we rewind 30 years, back to March 1990 and The Hunt For Red October; the first on-screen outing for Jack Ryan and the first adaptation of one of Tom Clancy’ novels.
The film features Alec Baldwin as Ryan but almost focuses more on his rival, Russian submarine captain Marko Aleksandrovich, played by Sean Connery. Indeed, it’s Connery who gets top billing and his name above the title on the poster. Despite his protests that he’s just an analyst, Ryan has a habit of getting dragged into action, in all his incarnations. Whilst it certainly has an 80s/90s vibe, it’s an enjoyable thriller with the submarine setting creating a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere. It was Baldwin’s only appearance as Ryan, being succeeded by Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine on film – and currently John Krasinski in the excellent Amazon Prime TV series.
This month we say Happy Birthday to Daniel Craig who turns 52 on the 2nd – a month ahead of his return to his most famous role, James Bond, in No Time To Die. Away from 007, in order of release, here are my personal top 5 movies featuring Mr Craig:
- Road To Perdition – Sam Mendes’ 1930’s set mobster movie sees Craig opposite Tom Hanks, Jude Law and Paul Newman in a violent thriller.
- Munich – Slightly forgotten Spielberg movie about the aftermath of the bombing that took place at the 1972 Olympics. Craig plays one of the men leading the Israeli response against the Palestinian terrorists responsible.
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Fincher’s English language remake of the Swedish film, based on Stieg Larsson’s best-selling book, is just as compelling as the original. Craig is journalist Mikael Blomkvist who is asked to investigate the disappearance of a woman 40 years prior.
- Logan Lucky – Craig plays the superbly named Joe Bang, a convict enlisted by 2 brothers to aid with their ambitious heist plan to rob the takings from a speedway event.
- Knives Out – Craig is Benoit Blanc, a Poirot type detective looking into the death of the head of a wealthy family. He starts in the shadows and emerges to solve the mystery. A bigger hit than expected, a sequel is on the way.