February 2020 In Review

February has gone, and it was a bit of a slow month for me in film-watching. It seems my time was mostly taken up by watching Bong Joon-Ho's masterful Parasite, but I'm not complaining too much. So, let's see what films I was viewing over the past month.

Queen & Slim (2019) - 4.5/5 - What an impressive directorial debut. An astounding job is delivered by Melina Matsoukas, lending a distinctive style to this 21st century take on Bonnie and Clyde. This outlaw fable has its foot in an unfortunate reality, rooted in saddeningly relevant topics, brought to screen in the most gripping of ways.

But no matter where the story goes, it never loses sight of its core romance. The pairing initially are like chalk and cheese, as the quietly religious Slim shares an awkward Tinder date with the assertive and disbelieving Queen. After circumstances thrusts them together, the pair bond with one another, and their romance blossoms along the journey. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith give exceptional portrayals in their roles, selling their fugitive relationship with ease.

A key theme of this film is perception. The media sees the inciting act as a cold-blooded murder, while some citizens see it as a rightful act, interpreting the intentions for different reasons. However people view this couple on the run, they're ultimately two people thrust into a nightmarish situation, who just wanted to have a nice date, and live out the remainder of their lives. No matter if we question some of the choices they make, we want things to be alright for the pair of them. 

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood (2019) - 4.5/5 - If it weren't for TV parodies, my knowledge of Mister Rogers and his televisual series would be non-existent. None of that diminishes the power of this emotionally powerful feature film, capturing the importance of kindness to one another through a journalists inner demons. This was perhaps the best way to depict such a beloved real-life figure, as his teachings help our lead come to peace with his past, in order to forgive, reflect, and grow as a new father, all of which Matthew Rhys portrays with a stunning vulnerability. Tom Hanks is certainly the more high profile piece of casting, but it's not some gimmick, as he gives an exemplary portrayal of the kindly real life figure. But the credit I must give is to Marielle Heller, whose stunning direction is a perfect fit for this story, depicting the more surreal moments so very well. The most talked about part is a moment of silent reflection, which is a stunning scene which ensures viewers will follow suit. Nothing may be said for a span of time, but volumes are spoken, and it's an emotional lynchpin in this feature. What a magnificent piece of work.

Parasite (2019) [rewatch] - 5/5 - All the more powerful on a repeat viewing. What Bong Joon-Ho has crafted is an outright masterpiece.

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Best film of the month, Best film seen in cinemas,
& Best film rewatched: Parasite

Birds Of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn (2020) - 3.5/5 - A candy coloured showcase for a brill cast, this is a Hyena bathtub full of fun. 

Parasite (2019) [rewatch] - 5/5 - I managed to convince my subtitle-adverse partner to come and see this film, and she came out of it a fan, asking when we can next see it.

The power of Bong Joon-ho is immense. This is a great introductory feature for anybody who's yet to dive into international cinema.

House (1977) - 4/5 - I'm sure there's much to read into this film, told through a number of well crafted think-pieces full of wit and downright smarts. Good luck finding those from me, as I'm currently left baffled by what I've witnessed. What I do know is that Nobuhiko Obayashi has crafted something too imaginative and bonkers for me to not fall in love with it. A few plot threads do feel superfluous, but it does well by the characters, being more than one-note figures described by their singular names. I have been left with images seared into my mind, while being on edge with specific scenes.

See this, and be forever changed by this once in a lifetime experience.

Paths of Glory (1957) - 5/5 - One viewing down, and I am completely happy in calling this one of my favourite films by Stanley Kubrick. An exemplary war feature which is utterly tense, completely devastating, and unforgettable long after the emotional finale. Through the tremendous performances put into these well written characters, we're left with 88 minutes depicting the gross injustices against the working men, heaped upon them by those in positions of power. A masterpiece.

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Best film watched for the first time: Paths of Glory

Bad Boys For Life (2020) - 3.5/5 - I didn't expect much from this long in gestation sequel to Michael Bay's Bad Boys series, but consider me pretty impressed. What's been crafted is a film packed with spectacle and style, where the action works well alongside the humour. Sure, there are a few moments when one overwhelms the other, but these are few and far between. All of it's done without the nasty regressive edge which I find with Bay's filmography, and has a completely unexpected emotional core within, which hits the mark very well. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence work well off each other, even if the latter can become a bit much at times. Luckily, they have a wonderful supporting cast filling things out, including the AMMO squad who take the franchise forward into the modern day, and are compelling characters in their own right. Consider me on-board for the eventual fourth film.

Parasite (2019) [rewatch] - 5/5 - Took my film loving brother to see this, and he came out adoring what he'd witnessed. All hail the power of Bong Joon-Ho, and his genre-defying piece which rewards upon multiple viewings.

The Witches (1990) - 4.5/5 - The idea of Nic Roeg adapting a Rolad Dahl story, with Jim Henson on-board, sounds like the result of a "make your own film" generator. What's come about from the combined efforts is something truly special, building a hidden world which feels so very real, all from the claustrophobic setting of a seaside hotel.

From the practical effects to how it's shot, and especially including the paintings, this is nightmarish stuff led by a killer Anjelica Huston. It may let things down with the ending, feeling to me like a forced way to end things happily, but it doesn't detract from this being a horrifying feature. PG rating, my arse.

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Biggest Surprise: The Invisible Man (1933)

The Boy (2016) - 3/5 - Working off Stacey Menear's script, William Brent Bell crafts a film around an unsettling looking doll, setting audiences up with expectations for where the feature will go. It thankfully doesn't go down the expected routes, subverting things for the more savvy of audience members, making for an enjoyable time. Lauren Cohan and Rupert Evans sell this scenario very well, as their characters are a believable pair you can't help but root for. I do wish one subplot didn't force its way into the main plot, and I can't say I was ever really scared or unsettled, but the ensuing 97 minutes flew on by.

Death of A Vlogger (2020) - 4.5/5 - A contemporary spin on a haunting, which sadly becomes more relevant with each passing day.  

Brahms: The Boy II (2020) - 1/5 - I must give it to this film, it's been a while since I've seen a franchise gone off the rails to this extent. What worked for me in 2016's The Boy was how it subverted the typical idea of what kind of film you were watching, especially when it came to the third act. No such luck with this follow-up, which leans into the expected routes so much, as though the filmmakers are afraid of making one single subversion. It just all plays out in the most groanworthy of ways, making for a frustrating experience which is coupled by some Joey Tribbiani style "smell the fart" acting. What's more, it feels like an instalment made by people who didn't see the original film, but made a sequel based on hearing the basic premise. The fact that screenwriter Stacey Menear and director William Brent Bell returned to the franchise is, frankly, baffling.

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Biggest Disappointment, & Worst film
of the month: Brahms: The Boy II

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (2020) - 4/5 - A film which captures what makes the series work so well, for both fans and newbies alike.

The Invisible Man (1933) - 4.5/5 - After one viewing, I'm happy to call this one of my favourites among the classic Universal Monsters films. Running at only 68 minutes, James Whale delivers a tense feature detailing the unravelling of one man, as his invisibility serum makes him become more and more unhinged, and he utilises his predicament for horrific means. From the most petty of acts to some more murderous ones, we really get a feel for the chaos an unseen person can cause. This especially includes when it unleashes a paranoia among the poor townsfolk, caught in a scenario they never imagined would be happening to them. Central to it all is Claude Rains, who exceptionally performs in the role, be it aided by visual effects, or in a voice role. What an inspired classic.

The Invisible Man (2020) - 4.5/5 - An effective update on a classic character, this is unbearably tense through both a minimalist approach, & slick set-pieces.

Best film of the month: Parasite
Best film seen in cinemas: Parasite
Best film watched for the first time: Paths of Glory
Best film rewatched: Parasite
Biggest Disappointment: Brahms: The Boy II
Biggest Surprise: The Invisible Man (1933)
Worst film of the month: Brahms: The Boy II

Number of films watched: 14