June 2018 in Review

It's a wonderful feeling when its days after you've seen something, and it stays with you, to the point you're replaying scenes and parts of dialogue over and over in your head. I was fortunate enough to have this a number of times throughout the month, so let's look at the films I watched this past June.

Witchfinder General - 4.5/5 - Michael Reeves brings to screen a tale that's well told and gripping, yet pretty shocking in its brutality, as the barbaric practices of witch hunts are put front and centre, as well as the lacking humanity from the general public, who are so blinded by fear, they believe such horrific acts to be acceptable. Vincent Price wasn't the original choice for the role (Donald Pleasance was), but he's downright chilling as the titular Witchfinder. A loathsome individual that fits the narrative well, as viewers long to see the bog standard hero to take him down.

2001: A Space Odyssey [rewatch] - 5/5 - How could I pass up the chance to see this on the big screen? The intermission was a surprise (first I've ever had in the cinema), but the visuals remain magnificent as ever, the story still engrossing, and HAL 9000 is one of cinemas greatest characters.

Eagle vs Shark - 3.5/5 - The last feature film I've seen of Taika Waititi, and he's certainly proven time and again to be one of the most heartwarming and hilarious directors out there. This, his directorial debut, is a rather touching tale of a man living in the shadow of his deceased brother, which can elicit chuckles throughout the runtime. It's a shame our lead can border on unlikeable throughout, but Jermaine Clement is great in the role, while Loren Horsley is an absolute gem as our lead.

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Best film of the month, Best film seen in cinemas
 & Best film rewatched: 2001: A Space Odyssey

The Burning - 4/5 - In the wake of the Weinstein revelations, much of this film does seem quite bad in retrospect, be it the men's heinous attitudes towards the women, or the needlessly leery shots we keep getting. It's a shame, because this is a great addition to the slasher genre which otherwise holds up pretty well. The time is taken to characterise the group, before the gruesome murders occur before our very eyes, brought alive thanks to the fantastic work by Tom Savini. 

I Am Not A Witch - 4/5 - Talk about a confident debut film. Rungano Nyoni brings to screen an assured picture that mixes together black comedy and hellish tragedy, fronted by a stunner of a performance in Maggie Mulubwa. I look forward to seeing what they do next. 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night - 4/5 - For her feature film debut, Ana Lily Amirpour delivers a Persian vampire western, shot in black and white. It's exactly as unique as it sounds, carrying an enticing fairy tale quality to it amidst the well-handled genre mash-ups. A gorgeously shot piece of work, lending wonderful visuals even to the effectively atmospheric pieces of horror. This is a wonderful cult film, and a terrific debut. 

Bone Tomahawk - 4.5/5 - What an impressive directorial debut this was from S. Craig Zahler. His focus, first and foremost, is on the confident script, as the time is taken to spend time with the characters, getting to know them and enjoy time shared with them. The western elements are well built up, so that when we get to the horror of it all later on, it's rather shocking, but done in a way that doesn't feel like too large of a leap. What we bear witness to is one of the most shocking scenes of horror I've ever laid eyes upon, and thank goodness there are moments of humour throughout to act as a release for such a shocking display.

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Best film watched for the first time: Hereditary

Mamma Mia - 1.5/5 - Okay, I can see why this film is so beloved and appeals to a number of people, but it didn't work for me. A cornball tale wrapped around cringey comedy and grating musical numbers. Considering the cast assembled, it's a darn shame that Amanda Seyfried is the only one who doesn't resemble a drunken relative butchering beloved songs at karaoke. Pierce Brosnan is easily the worst of all, with his singing voice being a new breed of war crime.

Zombie Flesh Eaters - 3.5/5 - My first Lucio Fulci film, and he fully commits to the zombie genre. The well executed set pieces and tremendous effects wonderfully bring this tale alive, and prove to be the strongest aspects of this. Where it falls down are the thin characters, and dubbing that's damn noticeable and pretty distracting.

Ocean's Eight - 4/5 - Well, colour me impressed. The necessity about all female reboots can be argued about until daybreak, but if they work, i'm happy to have get more of them, and this certainly worked for me. Sandra Bullock leads a eclectic cast who share a great deal of chemistry, making their friendships utterly believable and making for an utter joy to watch. Yes, there could be more fleshing out of Richard Armitage's antagonist, the problems are brushed off a bit too smoothly, and the film essentially forgoes a great ending so James Cordon can piss about and drag things on. But when Anne Hathaway is such a joy to witness on-screen, when the heist is pulled off so satisfyingly, and when it's all so fun to witness, these problems won't keep me up at night. 

The Incredibles [rewatch] - 5/5 - One of my favourites from Pixar. A clear love letter to the superhero genre, while never shying away from the darker aspects. A favourite scene of mine is when Elastigirl is telling Dash and Violet how the henchmen won't hestitate to kill them, despite being children. Edna Mode is a fantastic character (The NO CAPES! montage is a blackly comedic joy), while Syndrome is such a well rounded antagonist that feels very relevant considering the toxic members of the Star Wars fandom. I love it.

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Biggest Disappointment: Sicario 2: Soldado

Nothing Like A Dame - 4/5 - What a wonderful time this was. A breezy 80 minutes wonderfully spent in the company of 4 majestic Dames, as they swap anecdotes, go over their individual careers, and recounting tales from their lives. One does get the impression it's a bit toned down, in order to be shown to a wider audience, but it remains a fantastic time well spent. 

Hereditary- 5/5 - A nightmarish ride which never left my mind.

A Time To Kill - 4/5 - In spite of his time on the Batman franchise, I do believe Joel Schumacher can work wonders with the right script. Here, we have a courtroom drama centred on hostile racial relations, which prove as engaging and timely today as upon the films release over 20 years ago. Leading things are a tremendous ensembles, including a fresh faced Matthew McConnaughey, pre-McConnaughssaince, a phenomenal Sandra Bullock, and a terrific Samuel L. Jackson. It's just a shame things get bogged down by moments involving the Ku Klux Klan, which feel like an unnecessary attempt to spice things up, and feel taken from an entirely different film. It's a blemish on a magnificent little film. 

Nightwing and Robin - 1.5/5 - Well that was pointless. This felt more like a deleted scene than a short in its own right. At least the animation was good and the fighting flowed rather well.

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Biggest Surprise: Leave No Trace

Creed [rewatch] - 5/5 - With only his second feature film, Ryan Coogler shows how to reinvigorate a tired franchise, and take it into fresh directions. Through the personal story of Donnie, the weight of legacy is wonderfully examined and brought to screen through a compelling and emotionally engaging story. I love it.

Mute (2018) - 0.5/5 - Duncan Jones finally brings his passion project to screen. Shame about the final result.

Whitney (2018) - 4.5/5 - A heartbreaking documentary about the woman behind the music.

Deadpool 2 [rewatch] - 4/5 - As brilliantly subversive and emotionally engaging as it was upon first viewing. The film does stall prior to Cable's appearance, and its embracing of outdated tropes remain frustrating, but it's a fantastic time worth staying for the mid-credits scenes, and Zazie Beetz is easily a scene-stealer all throughout.

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Worst film of the month: Mute

Sicario [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - In preparation for the sequel, I decided to revisit my least favourite film that I've seen from Denis Villeneuve, one of my favourite directors. While it'd probably remain at the bottom for me, it's a film that certainly worked better for me upon this rewatch. The mounting sense of unease remains pertinent from the opening moments, as we follow the dealings of the U.S Government through Emily Blunt's eyes, while Daniel Kaluuya is vital to share her concerns, as they're thrust into the deep end of these murky waters they're led through. While Maximiliano Hernández's subplot felt superfluous to me, I now see it as necessary, allowing a viewpoint in how this drug war affects those in Mexico, allowing this film to tell more than one side of the story. Let's not forget the ever-stunning work delivered by Roger Deakins. 

Sicario 2: Soldado - 2/5 - A needless sequel which never justifies its existence.

Leave No Trace - 4.5/5 - The latest from director Debra Granik is a heartfelt and emotional two hander, which is deftly delivered by the more than capable leads. Ben Foster portrays a war veteran suffering from PTSD, who prefers to isolate himself from the world by living in the forest. Joining him to live this way is his daughter, played by Thomasin McKenzie. As the two are discovered by the authorities, and given their own accommodation, the daughter takes to the change of lifestyle, while the dad still struggles with his own problems. The pair do utterly fantastic work, which goes into well rounded characters that you feel for, and care for how their story turns out by the end of these 108 minutes. 

Best film of the month: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Best film seen in cinemas: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Best film watched for the first time: Hereditary
Best film rewatched: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Biggest Disappointment: Sicario 2: Soldado
Biggest Surprise: Leave No Trace
Worst film of the month: Mute

Number of films watched: 22