March 2022 In Review

A month which involved Frightfest Glasgow, rereleases of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather films, and a brand-new iteration of Gotham's protector. So, let's see what films I watched this past March.

The Godfather (1972) [rewatch] - 5/5 - It's been far too long since I last saw this masterpiece, so the chance to revisit it in cinema was an offer I could not refuse. An immaculately crafted epic that breezes by, with phenomenal set-pieces and masterful performances which inform exquisite character arcs. That Francis Ford Coppola can sure make good films.

Ali & Ava (2022) - 4/5 - A socially-realist love story from Clio Barnard, carrying such heart and winning performances within.

The Batman (2022) - 4.5/5 - An engrossing crime-thriller which offers hope amongst corruption, this is a tremendous take on a well-known character.

Jackass 3D (2010) - 3.5/5 - A film made with the then-popular 3D craze in mind, something that's distracting when certain stunts feel crafted with a focus on this different take on the third-dimension. There's some excellent stunts, such as the High Five and Electric Avenue, and some tough to watch ones, such as the Lamborghini Tooth Pull and Poo Cocktail Supreme. The hit ratio feels lower than some of the other films, yet there's still a fun time to be had watching this chaos unfold.

Jackass Forever (2022) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - There's few joys in life like getting an unsuspecting friend to watch a Jackass film. The escalating pain of the cup test would especially mess them up.

Best film of the month, Best film seen in cinemas,
and Best film rewatched: The Godfather

Nights End (2022) - 2/5 - An isolated ghost tale which misses the mark on atmosphere.

The Godfather Part II (1974) [rewatch] - 5/5 - This is how you do a follow-up. By blending the ideas for a prequel and a sequel, Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola draw engrossing parallels between father and son as they conduct mafia business. Where a young Vito strives to overcome poverty and build a better future for his family to flourish in, Michael's actions formed in privilege shatter his own in irrevocable ways. What's been left is a thrilling and expansive epic that's every bit as powerful as its predecessor, even if my preference is for the 1972 original. Although it does floor me how Pacino didn't win Best Actor for his masterful performance here.

Mandrake (2022) - 3/5 - An occult spin on a crime drama which struggles to maintain interest.

Freaks Out (2022) - 4/5 - An imaginative romp of superpowered circus performers fighting fascists.

Best film watched for the first time:
The Worst Person In The World

Let The Wrong One In (2022) - 2.5/5 - A vampire-comedy at its best when focused on the brotherly drama.

Monstrous (2022) - 4/5 - An affecting story about guilt and confronting traumatic truths.

Inu-Oh (2022) - 4/5 - Masaaki Yuasa delivers this tale of Inu-Oh, a boy born with unique physical characteristics that's treated like an animal by the people in his town. He has a passion for dancing and listens to the stories of the various spirits around him. He befriends blind Biwa player Tomona, and the pair use their skills to become increasingly popular artists while speaking truths previously unheard of.

As the pair express themselves in ways which transcend their physical limitations, a fascinating blend of ideas are brought alive with an excellent art style. Despite some moments moving along too quickly, it's easy to become swept up in the emotional stakes as the heartbreaking finale shows how history is written by those in power, no matter how unjust it may be.

The Cellar (2022) - 4/5 - An effective look at regret and grief amidst a creeping atmosphere. 

Biggest Disappointment: Night's End

Who Am I? (1998) [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - What Jackie and Benny Chan have crafted feels like reverse-engineered filmmaking, as the stunts were phenomenally crafted only for the story, character-stuff, and jokes to be built around that. As such, there's a questionable depiction of Africa and a mediocre spy thriller with a vague McGuffin to pad out the time where the stunts aren't occurring. Although the stunts are exceptional, particularly the car sequence.

Police Story (1985) [rewatch] - 5/5 - An absolute action masterpiece full of jaw-dropping stunts and humorous gags, centered around a story of a role-model cop being used for the end-games of others. The mall fight is an all-timer, and it's astounding this shoot had any survivors.

Good Madam (2022) - 3/5 - Single mother Tsidi is forced to move in with her estranged mother Mavis, a live-in domestic worker caring obsessively for her catatonic white ‘Madam’. As Tsidi tries to heal her family however, a sinister spectre begins to stir.

Co-writer/director Jenna Cato Bass utilises the set-up to approach issues of class and race, as family members must maintain appearances and appease the Madam or they will have nowhere to go.  Part of the story unfolds in depicting the struggles of parent/child relationships, and how they're informed by work and familial legacy, although the slow pacing can be felt throughout. It's worth mentioning that the unsettling elements creep up on you, yet it may be a case of "too little, too late" by the time they arrive. There are various ideas pulling the film in various directions, a possible effect of the films 12 screenwriters. While the elements don't always work, the ones that do are worth sticking around for.

Heckle (2022) - 0/5 - An infuriating grab-bag of ideas which make no sense.

Biggest Surprise: Freaks Out

X (2022) - 3.5/5 - A loving throwback to 70's slasher flicks with tension and heartfelt themes, X marks the spot.

You Are Not My Mother (2022) - 4/5 - A blend of social realism and Irish folklore to unsettling and affecting results.

The Nan Movie (2022) - 0/5 - A mid-2000s relic in the worst possible ways.

Some Like It Rare (2022) - 4/5 - A cannibal-comedy with some bite to it.

Worst film of the month: The Nan Movie

Umma (2022) - 3.5/5 - What Iris K. Shim has created as writer/director is a fascinating tale about generational trauma, and the way it informs the lives of a Korean-American mother and daughter. Sandra Oh terrifically portrays Amanda, a woman racked with trauma that she can't be around electricity, leading her to desperately alter her life. While she's content with the life, her daughter Chrissie is curious about the wider world and sets her sights on attending college. While the runtime is lean, I do wish there was a bit more time to let elements breathe, particularly at the end. This doesn't take away from what a stellar and atmospheric story it is, complete with a terrific performance by Fivel Stewart.

The Worst Person In The World (2022) - 4.5/5 - A poignant feature about the uncertainty of life, immaculately captured by Renate Reinsve's excellent performance.

The Batman (2022) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - I still loved this upon a revisit, although I was even more impressed by the car-chase sequence. Shooting it by placing the cameras inside and on the cars is a fantastic tactic, making every turn, collision, and cars closing the gap all the more impactful. It's a different approach which sets this apart from similar sequences so very well.

The Novice (2021) - 3.5/5 - For her feature-film debut, Lauren Hadaway delivers a tense psychological thriller following a girls obsession with being the best in her rowing team. Comparisons to Whiplash are inevitable and don't help this film, for it's engrossing in its own right despite some lulls in the storytelling, and is anchored by a tremendous lead performance by Isabelle Fuhrman.

Best film of the month: The Godfather
Best film seen in cinemas: The Godfather
Best film watched for the first time: The Worst Person In The World
Best film rewatched: The Godfather
Biggest Disappointment: Nights End
Biggest Surprise: Freaks Out
Worst film of the month: The Nan Movie

Number of films watched: 24