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    17 years


Top Gun: Maverick

Style and substance this time around
I admit to not being the biggest fan of the original 'Top Gun'. I found it style over substance and that isn't really what I like in a film. Yet here I was on opening night for the sequel. Such is the quality and high standard that Tom Cruise is putting into every movie he is involved in these days. I wasn't let down. This film had the style, but it also had the substance.

Firstly, I thought the cast were really good. Good looking, stylish and charismatic - almost to a fault. It can come across a little arrogant and egocentric, but I think that's what you have to buy into to enjoy these films. These guys are hot-heads no doubt about it, but that's what people pay to see.

There are some very good action sequences in this film. When you're watching a car chase in a movie it is very easy to keep track of where everyone is at. In a plane chase though it is very hard to get context of everyone's situation. It can be a little confusing at times but I thought the film did a good job of keeping us in the loop (so to speak) as much as they could.

There's plenty of fan service to the original. I thought Val Kilmer's scene was handled very well. Touching, sweet, funny and as respectful as it could be. The film is also quite well paced. It's over 2 hours long but it never feels like it is dragging. I had a surprisingly good time with this movie. 8/10.

Leaving D.C.

A very tense, edge-of-your-seat experience
I love found footage films. They're just the best types of movies - and ironically they cost next to nothing to make, so we should have thousands of them. 'Leaving D. C.' is a great example of how effective these films can be. There's nothing more than a creepy concept and the thought in the back of our minds about what could be out there, and yet it is infinitely more scary than most of the big-budget horror being made today.

What you don't see is always more scary than what you do. This film understands that and it is a large reason why it works so well. Sure we see a little bit, but only ever enough to know that something is messed up, never enough to know exactly what it is.

Even at only 77 minutes it can get a little repetitive in parts. Also the ending is going to be a little bit of let down for some. It works, but it is very abrupt and kind of over before you know it. A little more of a drawn out final sequences would have been nice.

Otherwise though I had a great time with this movie. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and that is something I can't say about enough horror movies these days. 8/10.

The Outfit

Made with a lot of class
As I was watching 'The Outfit' I felt sure that I was going to go to the IMDd trivia section after the film and find out it was based on a play. It all happens in one location, contains a very manageable budget and has exquisite dialogue. And it's a rare play that I'd actually want to see, because this film was damn good.

Mark Rylance is just fantastic. Most of the films I've seen him in he's been in a supporting role and he always nails it. But to see him in a starring role where he was getting endless screen-time was just terrific. He's one of those actors who always feels like their character is in total control of every scene they're in. Endlessly calm, yet potentially the most cunning/dangerous one in the room.

This movie just gets everything right. It's the type of plot that if done wrong could be a disaster, however if done the way it is here can be nothing short of a treat to watch. The pacing, the dialogue, the acting and story structure were all terrific. A very strong 8/10.


Waited 10 years to see it and it was a mild let down
Back when 'Mud' came out in 2012 multiple people recommended it to me. And not people who watched a lot of films or often told me their favourites. Fairly random people. I've always meant to get around to seeing it since then and finally did last night. To be honest it was a bit of let down. It certainly isn't a bad film, but it isn't one I'd be going out of my way to recommend to people by any means.

The film has one hell of a cast. I'm not sure how famous some of them were at the time of filming but even if they weren't big stars at the time they certainly are now. Even though the whole cast is extremely strong no one particular performance stood out to me. Matthew McConaughey is good as always and is probably the pick of the bunch, but even he wasn't as captivating on screen as I'm used to.

Films based around kids aren't usually to my liking. I find they're often safe and predictable. That's pretty much how I felt about this one. It does a lot of things well and checks a lot of boxes but it always felt like I knew exactly what was around the next corner. 7/10.


A short, well-paced film that sacrifices nothing
It's been interesting to me which movies/TV shows/books have decided to acknowledge the pandemic and which have decided to skip it. Not many are acknowledging it, but 'Kimi' does and even incorporates it into its plot which I respected.

Zoey Kravitz has the rare ability to be a bad-ass social outcast and be very likable at the same time. Not many actors/actresses can pull that off. The character she plays here is the type that could often very much annoy me in a film, but because of her it didn't in 'Kimi'.

I love the runtime of this film at only 85 minutes. There is no filler. It gets in, does its thing and gets out. You might think they would have to sacrifice character building, however with only one main character they really don't. I cared more about her fate than I do 90% of characters in longer films.

This one was a good time. Well-paced, suitably violent, clever and exciting. I recommend this one. 8/10.

The Mean Season

Great premise but then plays it way too safe
I think the worst crime a film can commit is to be dull. It doesn't matter what your film is about, there is always a way to catch the audience off-guard and throw some surprises into the mix. 'The Mean Season' is one of those films that plays out exactly as expected. It checks all the boxes the studio would want it to, but man is it a forgettable ride.

Even when the killer is on the phone everything just feels so safe and watered down. The most daring thing the film does is a gratuitous nudity scene (seriously, where did that come from?). Near the end there is a little mini-twist I'll give the film credit for, however it's a bit late by that stage.

I didn't hate this film though. It was just such an interesting premise that I wanted more out of it. I wanted it to fire some shots and take some risks. It didn't though and for that reason I suspect I will have forgotten about this film by tomorrow morning. 6/10.

The Northman

A well paced and engrossing film
Robert Eggers previous two films have been a little bit too arty for liking. Seeing him do a more audience-friendly film though I thought could be interesting. Generally olden-time films aren't to my liking, however I do like revenge films so I decided to give this a chance. I'm glad I did. I liked it about as much as I could've expected to.

This is a very serious film as you've probably guessed. It is heavy and it is relentless. It is gory, violent and is going to be an uncomfortable watch for anyone who is squeamish. I loved all that. I thought it was all handled wonderfully. It never feels gratuitous.

The film is long at 137 minutes. It doesn't drag though. Sometimes these types of films get bogged down when they try to introduce a love-story or they get too dialogue heavy, but this films pacing is about as good as you could expect for a film of this length. I had a good time with 'The Northman'. 7/10.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to
I must start this review as I do every with every MCU film and say they are not normally my cup of tea. I also must say I have no idea what is considered a spoiler and what is not, so I will label it on the cautious side. My main take away from this film would be that I didn't dislike it as much as I expected it to.

I thought the star of the film was Elizabeth Olsen. Every time she was on screen the movie was just a little more exciting. What a fun character she has in these films. Benedict Cumberbatch is also simply terrific. He has so much charisma I think I could enjoy him in just about anything to be fair.

I loved the horror elements of the film and all the nods and references. I've heard whispers that this could be considered too scary for kids. I don't think that's the case though. Perhaps one death scene where a character's mouth is removed is a little messed up but otherwise they'll be fine.

This is my fifth MCU film and it might just be the one I've enjoyed the most so far. 7/10.

Blood Simple

Clever but lacking some polish
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Coen brothers. Some of their stuff is great, other stuff I wish I'd never seen. This was their first movie. It's an interesting story, but it isn't made with quite the polish their later work would possess. If they'd made this one later on it could've been quite special I suspect.

The film is clever but it feels a little soulless. Every character is dirt-bag and the one character we are meant to root for 'Abby' is never fleshed out at all. We are basically just supposed to root for her because she's a woman.

The story is intricately woven though and moves at a quick enough pace that it never gets bogged down. It's only 99 minutes long too which helps. It's not a bad film but it's also one I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend to someone. 7/10.

The Lost City

Some good cameos are not enough to save this overly safe film
'The Lost City' is a prime example of a film in desperate need of an R rating. So often you can see the joke is there, but the script is having to dance around the subject and play it as safe as it can. It leads to almost nothing in this film being funny - particularly in the case of the two leads who are somehow the weakest part of this movie.

The cameos are what this this film afloat. Brad Pitt and Oscar Nuñez are particularly great in their limited screen time. Daniel Radcliffe as the villain gives it everything he's got too but it's just not a very well written villain. He's not very menacing and doesn't have any memorable attributes.

The film starts to drag near the end as well. The last 20-30 minutes feel like they take an eternity. There are no stakes in this movie. Everything feels extremely safe and like they are aiming it more at children than adults. This one wasn't for me. 5/10.

The Other

Some interesting concepts but a very dull film to sit through
There is nothing more difficult than reviewing a 50- year old film, and one that was made 20 years before you were born. On the surface it is always going to seem pretty bad because of how far cinema has come since then. But for all I know at the time this was a ground-breaking film. So perhaps take this review with a grain of salt.

For what it's worth though I didn't particularly enjoy it. I was sold on the promise of a very good twist. I'd known about the film for years but only just got around to seeing it. It didn't work for me. It isn't scary, it isn't mysterious or suspenseful or tense. For the most part it is just a couple of twins running around playing. Oh the excitement.

The ending does get a little interesting. These are the types of films I miss the IMDb message boards so much for. I was a able to track down the old message board for this movie and it cleared up what exactly went down. It was very clever and one of the few good things this had going for it.

There seems to be a love/hate relationship with this movie. There are certainly some thought-provoking themes in the mix and that's the stuff I love. However the majority of the actual product itself is pretty grim to sit through. 5/10.

In the Valley of Elah

An enjoyable watch that works on multiple levels
I have no particular interest in the military, however whenever I watch a film based around it I almost always enjoy myself. 'In the Valley of Elah' is no exception. I didn't actually know Tommy Lee Jones was nominated for an Oscar for this movie until after it finished. However while I was watching it I kept thinking that this was the best work I'd seen from him. He's a large part of what makes this film so good.

In fact the entire cast for this movie is incredibly strong. Charlize Theron is great and Susan Sarandon is really good. Then you have names like Josh Brolin and James Franco and they're in very minor roles. This must have been a film that actors wanted to be a part of, even if in only a small way.

On the surface the film is a murder-mystery, and it works pretty well if that's all you're looking to get from it. If you look deeper though the film is trying to portray an anti-war message. It does a really good job of balancing these two things. Amongst it all there is a heart-breaking little side story involving Theron's character. The juggling act the screenplay does with all this is terrific.

Where the film is going to let a lot of people down is the conclusion. It feels extremely anti-climatic and a bit of a let down after all the build-up. If you think about the message the film is trying to portray though it makes a lot of sense. It's probably the one part of the script that isn't handled all that well in the juggling act though it has to be said. That aside though, this is a very fine film and one I would recommend. 8/10.


Flawed but a lot of fun at the same time
Michael Bay can make a banging action film, we know that. He's wasted a lot of his career on the terrible 'Transformers' films unfortunately, but when he wants to make a straight up R rated action film it is almost always going to be enjoyable on some level.

The problem this film runs into is that it is simply too long for its concept to justify. Admittedly it does its best to squeeze every last drop out of the premise. However if you were to shave 20 minutes off the film you would end up with a lot more satisfied audience members who had a great time, got in, and got out. Similar to 'Speed'.

The film also runs into some into some major morality problems, which almost always happens when you make criminals your protagonists. The film actually does a good job of bringing us on the side of the 'Will Sharp' character. However by the end of the film the load of crap they are trying to serve us about him being a hero is pretty hard to stomach when you think back on the chain of events.

A Bay film is never going to be perfect though, and for every flaw you find you'll likely find a positive to counter it with. The film is fast, well acted, has some great action sequences, some great side characters and a fun plot. Sit back, don't overthink it, and have a good time I'd suggest. 8/10.

Boiling Point

A captivating 95 minutes that flow seamlessly
I've always thought working in a restaurant must be close to the most stressful job on earth. 'Boiling Point' displays basically exactly what I'd always imagined. A collection of under-payed, under-appreciated people being put under immense amounts of pressure day in, day out. This film is brilliant.

This would be an incredible film even if it weren't filmed in one shot. The fact that it was is just the icing on the cake (sorry). I've seen films like '1917' that appear to be done in one take but aren't really, and I've seen films like 'Pieces of a Woman' where a very long scene is all done in one take (absolutely loved both of those movies too for the record), however I'm not sure I've ever watched a film where the entire thing was genuinely filmed this way. The preparation that must go into it has got to be enormous. It's incredible to watch everything flow so seamlessly.

Before watching this I worried they wouldn't be able to fit enough drama in to fill a 90 minute runtime. I need not have feared however, there is more than enough to go around and even then there isn't time to resolve a lot of things. The pacing of this movie is electric. It squeezes every last drop possible out of the concept.

There are so many little moments in this movie that are great. The white waitress vs. Black waitress contrast is one of the best things I've seen in a film in a long time. So simple, yet so powerful. That really blew me away. There are lots of little moments like this throughout the film but that was the one that struck me the hardest.

It's hard to find enough good things to say about this one. I loved it from minute one. I can't recommend it highly enough. 10/10.


What was that?
I had no interest in 'Master' due to its IMDb rating until someone recommended it to me, describing it as dark and mysterious. I will have to hold that person's recommendations in lower in regard for a while because this one was not for me.

I found the film painfully boring, with minimal character development and no reason to care about any mystery that may or may not be apparent. There were also endless fake sequences that turned out to be dreams - one of my most hated elements of any film. Once is a crime, more than once is unforgivable.

When the credits rolled I actually found myself saying out loud, "What the hell was that?" It's pretty hard to find redeemable qualities about this one. 4/10.

We're All Going to the World's Fair

A strange film I either didn't get, or there was nothing to get
The opening scene in 'We're All Going to the World's Fair' was very strange. I thought to myself, that's fine if that's how you want to set the stage for your film. Then the next scene was equally strange, and then the next as well - and I realised I was just in for a strange film overall. I didn't love this one.

There was a point where I thought the film was setting itself up to be an abstract version of 'Paranormal Activity'. I would've been okay with that. That wasn't the path it was ultimately choosing to go down however. The problem was I don't know what the path it was going down was. I simply didn't understand the film on the first watch. Or maybe I'm overthinking it and it's just as simple as it seems. If so, why was it worthy of making a film about?

The film isn't long at least. It would be hard to argue it outstays its welcome. It didn't work for me though and will be gone from my memory by this time tomorrow. 5/10.

The Frozen Ground

Interesting case - not an interesting movie
I had listened to a podcast about the real-life case behind 'The Frozen Ground', so I thought it might be interesting to watch the movie based on it. I was wrong. If you are interested in this case I highly recommend the Casefiles podcast episode over the movie. How can a movie about the hunt for a serial killer be so boring?

The camera-work in this film is bizarre. It is so shaky and unfocused it is hard to watch. Nothing is framed well either. I'm not the type who usually notices these sorts of things either, so the fact is stood out to me shows how bad it was.

I found John Cusack as a serial killer extremely bland and I found Nicolas Cage as a cop extremely bland. I think I would've liked to see them switch roles (see 'Con Air'). I think that would've been far more interesting.

I found it really hard to focus on this one. It just kind of drifts along pointlessly for what feels like a long time and then it is over. Not one I'd recommend. 4/10.


Works on every level
'Fresh' explores one of my greatest fears. Ever since I saw a particular scene in 'Hostel: Part 2' the concept has really bothered me. I won't say what it is because the surprise element is one of the great things this movie has going for it. All I'll say is it bothered me greatly.

This film works on every level. If it was just a straight up love story, I would've loved it. A love story with a very dark twist though - brilliant. The characters are what sell this. They are given such great dialogue to work with that you can't help but love them.

I've found that when a film has the class and audacity to start its opening credits over 30 minutes into the runtime (see also 'Drive my Car') it is almost always a good sign. It's a sign that the film isn't playing by the rules. Nothing is off the cards and anything could happen at any time. I love that.

I can't remember the last occasion the runtime of a movie went by so quickly. I loved every minute of this film and can't recommend it highly enough. 9/10.


A very frustrating and ineffective movie
I've never seen a movie so determined to trick its audience as 'Curtains'. The beginning of this movie is riddled with entire scenes containing no purpose other than to fake us into thinking something serious is happening. Then a character wakes up or reveals themselves to be playing out some twisted sex fantasy. It's extremely frustrating to watch.

Then we get to the actual heart of the story, the mansion sequence. We are suddenly thrown a group of actresses and a director who is an atrocious man. We are given no reason to care for these people. They are simply not there one minute, then there the next. It's impossible to care about their fates.

There is no tension in this movie. The kill scenes are done very poorly. I typically love whodunits, however by the end of this one I simply didn't care who the killer was. No reveal was going to be interesting to me. I just wanted the film over by that point. This one was not for me. 4/10.


Nailed it
Someone once said 'Ti West is the best director you've never heard of." It was me, I said that. This guy has been putting out quality horror films for years now and not getting anywhere near enough recognition. 'X' may be his best film yet. This one is a blast.

This film created something very few modern horror films are able to - tension. I found myself very tense during this film. It's actually a very patient film though. The build-up is methodical and slow with only little hints as to what is to come. Because of the strong characters and dialogue though it is never dull or boring.

Then when the action does kick in in the final third of the film it is a wild ride. All the pieces that have been masterfully set up fall into place and nothing is off limits. No character felt safe and I absolutely love that feeling in a horror film. The editing style ad the way it used in some of the horror sequences really caught me (and some other audience members) off guard. I had never seen anything like that in a film before, but it worked so well.

There is some great chemistry amongst this cast. All six of the main leads nailed it. I have to say my jaw was hanging when I read that Mia Goth played both 'Maxine' and 'Pearl'. Are you kidding me? That is some truly incredible make-up work and acting.

It sounds like we are getting a prequel to this film soon and I am here for it. If it's even half as good as this one then it will be worth the price of admission. See this one. 9/10.


More of these please
This was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed it. I chucked it on during a hill-hike and it killed 80 minutes for me in no time. The voice work was the best thing it had going for it. Kate Mara has a particularly soothing voice (I don't think I had noticed this before) and Adam Scott contrastly has quite an interesting voice with a lot of mystery and depth behind it. It was a pleasure to listen to.

The story is good. It's reasonably basic as you would expect. Easy to follow, yet it has enough complexity and mystery to remain interesting. I think I would've liked the ending to go a little differently but other than that it was hard to fault.

I hope this does well because I would like to see more of them. They should be easy to make and not take up much time in actor's schedules. Fingers crossed. 8/10.


Stop screaming and shouting please
There was a point in this movie where I thought to myself, "I'm not sure who's going to come out on top, but I also don't really care." There isn't enough to separate the characters. There is no good and evil. They are all just awful. That's not a fun way to watch a film.

Getting the negatives out of the way first, the screaming and shouting in this movie is unbearable. I read that they were trying to make it like a play and so they had to exaggerate everything. And that's fine but there has to be a better way to do it. Watching a woman scream at absolutely nothing over and over again is just a dreadful experience.

All that said, I didn't hate the film. It was my kind of film actually. It just wasn't done the way I would've liked, with interesting set pieces and some action sprinkled in here and there. I did like all the twists and Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve in their primes is a sight to see. However I probably won't remember this one a week from now. 6/10.


A lot of build-up, very little pay-off
The structuring of this movie is utterly bizarre. Almost an hour into a 90 minute movie nothing had happened. Just endless talk about nothing interesting. Was this supposed to be extreme effort put into character development, so that when the event the movie should've been about actually happens we care more? If so, it did not work.

I can handle a slow build up if it's done well. But this was basically just watching a group of adults act like no adults in the history of humanity have ever acted. Then when the event actually happens it has to be worth it for the patience you have invested, right? In this case it wasn't at all. It was just weird.

It was hard to find much to like about this one. The cast try their best to bring some life out of the script but even that mostly falls pretty flat. Not a lot to see here. 4/10.

Happy Birthday to Me

If you don't know what your twist is while filming the movie, it's probably not going to be a good one
No one loves a twist ending more than myself. And I don't even mind if you have to push the boundaries of reality to do it occasionally. But the twist in 'Happy Birthday to Me' is so bizarre and unbelievable - both theoretically and in execution - that it just doesn't work on any level.

I love that they tried to get creative with the kills in this one, but some of them are certainly better than others. The weights one for example was embarrassing. If you're in that situation - I don't know, perhaps drop the weights? Like there's stupid, then there's horror movie stupid and then there's that scene.

I just didn't find this one scary either. There's a lack of suspense built up a lot of the time. One minute a character is being fed a kebab, the next the kebab stick is being shoved down their throat. Now that might work for shock value (were it not on the cover-work of the film) but it doesn't build suspense at all.

Maybe I'm over analysing a 40 year old horror movie, but I was just hoping for something a little more memorable. The film is 20 minutes longer than most horror movies so I was hoping they'd use that time to add a little depth. It turns out they didn't even have the twist in mind when they were filming, which is why it comes from so far out of left field. This one wasn't for me. 5/10.


The power of a good script
You can have a film with a $250 million budget, but if what is written on the pages of the script isn't interesting then it's not going to matter a lick. Conversely, you can have a budget of next to nothing, but if you're working with a well written script then you can have the audience captivated. 'Windfall' is a perfect example of the latter. A movie that wouldn't have cost much more than the actor's salaries had me glued to the screen.

I really like the trio of actors they picked for this movie. Jesse Plemons is probably my favourite actor working today so that helped a lot. I haven't seen a lot of Lily Collins, however everything I've seen her in she was terrific. The case is the same here. Finally Jason Segel I though was an inspired choice. There's something fascinating about an actor known primarily for their comedy work taking on a serious role. It can take a little while to adjust your brain to it, but once you do it's usually a treat.

Some are going to find the film a little flat. There is a lot of talking and if you're not in the mood to be patient then it may test you. Also there aren't many characters and two of them at least are pretty deplorable people. That's not to say they're not interesting and complex characters, but spending 90 minutes with unlikable characters can be a chore.

I really liked this one though. It was exactly the type of film I'd like to see being made more often. And there's no reason they can't when you can make them on a dime. I would recommend checking this one out on Netflix. 8/10.

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