July 2016 in Review

We're now into August, and I've managed to get quite a few films viewed over the past month. So let's see what I managed to watch over the past July.

The Holiday (2006) - 2/5 - Nancy Meyers' holiday comedy proves rather harmless in its attempts to deliver a romance tale set across the UK and the US. But its cornball attempts proves to be as suffering as a pillow held down over ones face. The material is overlong, thanks to numerous scenes getting drawn out for longer than they really should be. Jude Law and Cameron Diaz prove to be rather charming with each other, but the camaraderie between Kate Winslet and Jack Black comes off as forced. Eli Wallach is utterly adorable though.

Keanu - 3/5 - For their first headlined feature film, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele bring the same amount of likeability, charm and chemistry to the picture which their show benefited from. The humour can prove rather hit and miss, but its worthwhile for moments like Key educating gangsters in George Michael. But the plot feels rather cluttered throughout, and does little to subvert from familiar territory. But that kitten is utterly adorable, I can see why Peele would go through all that for him.

Me Before You - 1.5/5 - Has there been a recent picture as desperate to make viewers cry?

Bend It Like Beckham [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - The story doesn't veer far from predictable, but the overall picture remains infectiously feel good.

Only God Forgives [rewatch] - 5/5 - It's been 3 years since I last viewed this, and my love has only grown for it. It's easy to see why Nicolas Winding Refn's film was so divisive, but for those are taken by its subtle storytelling and performances, prepare to be treated by this cinematic force of nature. The result is damn fine visual storytelling, packed with stunning cinematography and a score that's sumptuous to the ears. This tale of a son wanting forgiveness for an act which haunts him, while under the influence of his toxic mother.

I can't help but love this picture.

Best film of the month and Best
film rewatched: Only God Forgives

Independence Day: Resurgence - 0.5/5 - A big budget picture with no kind of effort put into it, anywhere. 2016's Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The Neon Demon - 4.5/5 - An alluring picture which draws viewers in, thanks to the hypnotic visuals and sumptuous score. It then offers a dark satire on the cutthroat world of the beauty industry, containing an unsettling tone and an absolute batshit climax one won't believe. I can't help but fall in love with this one.

Ghostbusters (1984) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - In preparation for the release of the internet's least favourite film they haven't seen, I gave this a rewatch. Yep, it still holds up. I got a better feel for Winston and Louis' characters, but I do still wish there was more of the former in the film. Aside from that, the great chemistry, seamless handling of genres and terrific cast help turn this into a downright classic.

Ghostbusters (2016) - 3.5/5 - For all the furore over this picture, it turned out to be a rather enjoyable picture.

Best film seen in cinemas: The Neon Demon

Bridget Jones' Diary - 4/5 - By all accounts, this should merely be a by the numbers romantic comedy. Lucky for all, director Sharon Maguire infuses a great amount of likeability, charm and humour. Plus, the magnificent performances at the centre give viewers great reason to be invested in the love triangle that drives this picture.

And you just try to not be entertained by the silly fight scene between Firth and Grant, I dare you.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - 1.5/5 - I wonder if it was intentional to have Bridget mirror the film, as both teeter on the edge of reason. After our title character got together with Mark Darcy, the sequel begins by lamely causing a rift between the two. It appears this action is only so the picture can cover the same ground as its predecessor, with the exception of the unnecessary diversion to Thailand. It even gives another fight between the two love rivals, which pales in comparison to the proceeding films fight, but remains the films highpoint.

Don't Look Now - 4.5/5 - Having never before viewed a Nicolas Roeg film, I did not know what to expect from this. Long after viewing this, and the masterful opening and closing scenes remain stuck in my mind. In-between that is a picture that mirrors its leads, in how powered by grief they are. The experimental editing and building pace serve to heighten the pictures mood, even if they occasionally prove trying. Certainly a picture not easily forgotten.

Into The Abyss - 5/5 - My first time watching a Werner Herzog film, and my god. The picture was difficult to watch at times, yet rather thought provoking. Herzog tackles what drives people to kill, the effects it leaves on others, and especially the death penalty. Not an easy watch, but a rewarding one that'll leave you appreciating life a little bit more.

Best film watched for the first time: Into The Abyss

The Legend of Tarzan - 2/5 - David Yates' take on the Edgar Rice Burroughs character can be summed up rather simply: intriguing ideas, poor execution.

Man Bites Dog - 4.5/5 - Well....damn.

A no holds barred crime film, following a camera crew as they make a documentary around a serial killer who goes about his craft. There's some effective humour early on, but as the camera crew venture deeper down the rabbit hole, it's clear they're getting in too deep as they become more than just witnesses, Lines are often crossed, the picture goes into more unsettling territory, and becoming rather shocking. Special mention is deserved to Benoît Poelvoorde, who delivers an effective turn as the camera crews subject matter, up for delivering a good natured laugh one moment, and then a shocking act of violence the next.

No C4 for Daniel Daniel - 2.5/5 - An early piece of work from the directors of Man Bites Dog, which is an overlong trailer for a spoof action film. Problem is, despite a few inspired moments, it isn't really funny, and certainly outstays its welcome.

Star Trek [rewatch] - 5/5 - 6 years before taking on one of the decades biggest films, J.J. Abrams showed how to deliver a terrific reboot of a long-running property. Perfectly cast, with a wonderful balance on action, humour, character moments and spectacle. May this franchise live long and prosper.

Biggest Disappointment: Batman: The Killing Joke

Star Trek Into Darkness [rewatch] - 4/5 - The turnaround for J.J. Abrams' sequel to the 2009 hit has been a bit astonishing, especially with how quickly it occurred. To be fair, parts of the film feel more interested with homaging Wrath of Khan than forging its own path. But despite this, what we've received is a well handled take, utilising Starfleet to get across timely discussions, such as drone warefare and the War on Terror. Despite my preference that Cumberbatch wasn't portraying Khan, it can't be denied he kills it in the role.

Star Trek Beyond - 4.5/5 - Taking over from J.J Abrams, Justin Lin had quite the uphill battle with delivering this sequel. Luckily, he's proven to be more than up to the task, delivering flash action while Doug Jung and Simon Pegg prove they know the characters, delivering intriguing character conflict & interactions. Plus, good natured humour and an increased use of the masterful Karl Urban make for a fantastic picture.

Seeking A Friend For The End of the World [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - A rewatch of this 2012 gem still convinces me that the drama works and Steve Carell gives one of the best performances of his career. I'm still not convinced about the humour, Keira Knightley being right for her role, or about the films last few minutes.

Ice Age [rewatch] - 3/5 - It's been a lifetime since I saw this motion picture, and it remains hard to believe this franchise is still going. Viewing it for the first time since my childhood, and it certainly doesn't hold up that well. Don't get me wrong, the picture is harmless enough and will suit its target audience extremely well. It's visually competent fluff, but there's little to it. On an irritation scale, Sid ranks up there with chlamydia, serving as a conduit for lazy slapstick and half-hearted gags.

Biggest Surprise: The Invitation

The Bourne Identity - 4.5/5 - Doug Liman directs an intriguing amnesia thriller, boasting slick action, a compelling story, and a fantastic lead performance from Matt Damon. All it took was this one film to prove himself as an action star. 

The Invitation (2016) - 5/5 - One of those picture it's best to venture into knowing as little as possible. Director Karyn Kusama crafts together a gripping view at handling grief, carrying an ominous atmosphere, while managing to be unbearably tense. The ensemble cast deliver fantastic performances, particularly Logan Marshall-Green and Tammy Blanchard, each dealing with shared grief in their own manner, while clearly nursing some hurt. John Carroll Lynch delivers a monologue that you won't forget anytime soon.

And that climax! If you see a more chilling final shot this year, let me know!

Batman: The Killing Joke - 3.5/5 - If only the first half was better handled.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - 5/5 - While Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton have delivered utterly fantastic and iconic takes on the character, this animated picture delivers the absolute greatest adaptation of the Caped Crusader. A compelling mystery mixed with a genuine romance, and character conflict at the heart of Bruce Wayne. Plus, the top notch animation delivers fluid fight scenes, and the voice work is masterful.

Worst film of the month: Independence Day: Resurgence

Piper - 4/5 - The latest short from Pixar is impeccably animated, delivering an adorable little bird, on its compelling journey to overcome its fear of the water. Get ready to have your hearts captured by this little guy. 

Finding Dory - 4.5/5 - The temptation must've been so great for Disney sequel to deliver another cash grab akin to Cars 2, as they'd still rake in the money. Rest assured though, this sequel has been handled with a great amount of heart, care and love. There's a great amount of genuine humour & emotion delivered, with lovable characters at its core. Granted, Marlin and Nemo feel superfluous to the plot after a point, but one can't help but care for the outcome to these characters story at every turn.

Plus, Hank, Destiny and Becky are just fantastic. Idris Elba and Dominic West also kill it as Sea Lions. 

Finding Nemo [rewatch] - 5/5 - Disneys underwater tale proves to be one of their finest. Up may be best known for its saddening opener, but to me, this picture gives it tough competition. It perfectly sets the mood for the remainder of the picture, as we're taken on a heartfelt, amazing journey of a parent who learns to let go of his son. That finale is especially emotional, and this is just perfect.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths - 3.5/5 -The Justice League are the paradigm of hope and goodness for comics, DC Universe or otherwise, so I've always found it interesting to see the Crime Syndicate, their evil counterparts. It proves equally entertaining and intriguing. James Woods' nihilistic Owlman proves to be the highlight, which is more than can be said about his less memorable teammates. Plus, William Baldwin is rather miscast as Batman.

The BFG (2016) - 2.5/5 - It's hard to believe this amateurish piece of work was handled by Steven Spielberg. A barely passable affair, which is in need of work on the script and in the editing. But Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill do great work in their roles.

Best film of the month: Only God Forgives
Best film seen in cinemas: The Neon Demon
Best film watched for the first time: Into The Abyss
Best film rewatched: Only God Forgives
Biggest Disappointment: Batman: The Killing Joke
Biggest Surprise: The Invitation
Worst film of the month: Independence Day: Resurgence

Number of films watched: 30