I figure if you ask yourself ‘whats the best/worst film’ whatever jumps to mind was obviously good enough or dire enough to etch a mark on the old grey matter.
Now, my criteria for liking and hating films is varied. I’m a film geek, I love lighting, shot composition, art direction etc, etc, but I also love stories and the telling of them, so much so in-fact that I will often consider a simple or averagely rated film in much higher regard for this reason. Not that this is in anyway a defence for my choices, hell no! I stand by them. It is more an explanation of why I chose them. The films I really love, I love because of the emotions that they extract from me, and the stories they involve me in.
I dislike films for a multitude of reasons. Guaranteed to get you on my naughty list is, anything coated in ridiculous American sense of values and skewed reasoning that Hollywood so regularly presents to us, along with ridiculous dialogue and nonsensical over the top action or drama (I’m looking at you Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper, U571, most rom-coms, Marvel movies, Michael Bay and James Cameron to name but a few).
Anyways, reasoning and justification aside I was extremely honoured to be asked by The Film Flash to write a little something for his 2 year birthday, so here it is; The two best and two worst films I have seen in that short time:
When I first heard about it, the sheer ambition and scale of this project made me have doubts. It’s a lovely idea, but seriously it won’t work. A 39 day shoot over 12 years, can you be sure the actors will be consistent, how will you keep any sense of continuity, there’s bound to be un-ironable creases in the work. I was wrong.
It is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. A truly wonderful and simple story of a boy called Mason growing up. Instead of focusing on the huge dramatic moments (of which there are some of course) the film really draws you in with the smaller moments that make life so real. The easy going normality yet uniqueness of his character gives us all something to identify with. You don’t miss the gaps in the years, as we experience Mason grow and move on, somehow you were there anyway.
The open and sometimes brutal honesty within the family is used to paint a portrait of depth, very different, real people that ultimately share a love for one another. Occasionally as Mason grows there are some coffee house, fortune cookie, philosophy moments, but then isn’t that something we all do when exploring our world as young, thinking adults. Even then this is not projected as a message to the audience, it is merely a conversation that we listen to a young man share with his friends and family.
The evolution of the characters and the story is one of the most natural I have ever watched, testament to the actor’s abilities and Linklaters adaptive writing and vision. The script combined with the actors own improvisation is really something to be admired.
I need not say much more, (although i have to mention the subtle nod to Francios Truffats ‘The 400 Blows’ in the final scene of the film. I am a film geek after all!). I believe this is a film that will speak for itself.
I said before I love a good story. From start to finish, this is a cinematic masterpiece of storytelling.
Not just one of the best in the last couple of years, the best British film I have seen for a good few years. For a debut feature film, Yann Demange has excelled himself, I worry he has set the bar too high already! The mix of thriller, drama and action is so well laced together, it is nice to be reminded that a film can have all three elements and not fall apart or resort to having just one of them dominate the whole story. Gregory Burkes script is sharp and marries perfectly to the director’s visual telling of the story.
The bleak, gritty, grim, industrious look of the film is fantastic (the cityscapes of Belfast look amazing). It not only gives a strong feeling of the true life era, the political, social and economical devastation experienced but also creates a brilliant closed off world, in which the believable fictional story can unfold.
I was impressed with Jack O’Connells work in Private Peaceful and Starred Up, once again he did not disappoint. The inexperience and awe that soon turns to fear and almost animal survival as he is hunted, is built by both the pace of the film and O’Connells strong performance. The supporting cast is also excellent, notably the corrupt special forces team and their Irish associates.
I hate to use such an overused word as ‘gripping’ but that’s exactly what the film is, I was hooked form start to finish. It’s a rare treat these days to sit down and be utterly and completely, enthralled and exhilarated by a film. ’71 does just that.
American Ultra (The film I would have written when I was 18.)
Nightcrawler (Dark, so very dark Mr Gyllenhaal.)
The Babadook (Who’d have guessed, there is some originality left to find in the horror genre!?!)
The Drop (Great little thriller, Tom Hardy pleases as always.)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (It’s Star Wars for christs sake! Plus it wasn’t god awful like the unmentionable three.)
Spotlight (How did that stuff ever really happen? Powerful film.)
Deadpool (As far as I’m concerned the ONLY Marvel film that’s really worth watching, it’s original and isn’t fecking dumb.)
Furious 7 (2015)
I really hated all the positive reviews from critics and public that surrounded it. Yes it’s sad Paul Walker died in a car crash, but thats no excuse to rave positivity about a film that had to be finished after he died. I’ve never been a huge fan of the franchise but I will admit, I have watched all of the films and there were occasions when I was mildly entertained.
This film however just didn’t even care. The script was terrible (although I’m sure Vin Diesel could destroy any decent lines by mumbling his bass tones all over it), the story made about zero sense, there was little, to no effort in concealing the fact that all they wanted to do was show off cars in different locations around the world.
I like Jason Statham, he was totally shit in this movie (incidentally in a street fight my money is on Statham wiping the floor with Vin) a really hard ass, special forces, unstoppable bad guy that can be stopped by a few chavs in pretty cars.
And the end, oh dear god! Apparently people in the cinemas were fighting back tears at the tribute to Walker, even critics said it was a respectful nod to him bowing out. No it wasn’t, it looks like a Marks and Spencer summer clothes advert being double teamed by adverts for Gap and life insurance, their resulting hideous child is the sickeningly stupid and weepy ending involving beach picnics and sunset drives.
Seriously this movie fucking sucked.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Well, where do we start? I like the Matrix and I love V for Vendetta but I really think the Wachowskis cannot make films, I think the previously two mentioned films are just flukes. You cannot make something that good and then repeatedly make things as bad as the other Matrix films, Cloud Atlas and then this horrendous stinking pile of garbage.
All you really need to know is it’s essentially the Matrix idea all over again but with aliens instead of machines and is worse than all of their crap movies put together.
When they walked into the studio office and pitched this idea they should have been laughed out of the building, whoever commissioned this should fall into a filled bath with a toaster.
So, Mila Kunis is an immigrant toilet cleaner but really she is the reincarnation of this alien queen who owns Earth……No I can’t be bothered it’s so stupid I’m not wasting my time. I’ll just share a few snippets with you;
Channing Tatum is a half dog-man with glitter all over him and he rides on gravity defying roller blades!? No seriously that’s his character. He looks like someone mixed up the costumes for Starlight Express and Cats. Mila Kunis is NOT a leading lady, never will be, she basically looks confused throughout the whole film and wants to have sex with a man-dog. Eddie Redmayne is in a completely different film (possibly a pantomime) to everybody else. There’s ridiculous lizard creatures that make the weird, small head dinosaurs from the Super Mario Brothers movie look good. Humans can be turned into milk to make aliens young again. More stupid CGI than you can shake a shitty stick at.
I could go on but I won’t, this is by far and away the worst, most ridiculous film I have (possibly ever) seen. I refuse to give it anymore of my time.
Transformers: Age Of Extinction (The Fighter made me think Mark could act, this film erased that idea and hurt my soul.)
Spectre (Er what happened? Bond by numbers with more dumb plot and location changes than a Fast and Furious film.)
Seventh Son (R.I.P.D and then this!? What the fuck happened Dude?)
Terminator Genisys (Well, for the ridiculous spelling alone. But also, is it me or is Daenerys only hot with white hair?)
Any Divergent Film (Soooo many reasons but mainly because no-one cares about them and they are really, really bad.)
Dragon Blade (Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody and John Cusack, what could go wrong? Enough that I never even finished it!)
Batman V Superman (How the hell does Superman know who Batman is? Their mums have the same name? WTF?!)
Point Break remake.
I never ever expected this film to be any good so imagine my surprise to find that it is!! Now hold on there one moment, this is a god awful film in the sense of what they have tried to make, but somehow during that process they struck that movie gold, a film that is so bad, its good. Point Break is one of these, the script and action are so laughably bad that it is enjoyable, instead of being disgusted at this terrible remake I actually found myself laughing at it (at it, not with it!) for most of its run time. Honestly check it out!