mv5bmjy3otk0nja2nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwntg3mjc2mdi-_v1_sy1000_cr006401000_al_Adapted from a Japanese novel based on actual events in the 17th century, Martin Scorsese’s Silence is not for the faint-hearted in terms of both length and subject matter.

Telling the story of Jesuit priests heading to Japan to find out what happened to their mentor, it’s a meditation on the nature of faith and in particular what happens when that faith is sorely tested.

In this period Christianity was outlawed in Japan and a wave of persecutions took place leading to the deaths of many, those converted and the priests themselves. Although the film by necessity focuses on the brutality of the official response to what they see as a threat to their way of life, it also stresses the conviction of the Jesuits and the bravery of the local people who maintain their new religion in secret and help the priests in their quest.

It’s a difficult film to write about in some ways. I’m not a person of faith but that doesn’t mean that I can’t relate to the predicament the priests find themselves in, where their deeply held beliefs are challenged by threats to the wellbeing not of themselves, but of the people around them. It’s a philosophical piece which takes time to explore these questions without necessarily reaching a conclusion, and it’s clearly a very personal film for the director.

It’s a long film and I felt every single one of the 161 minutes it lasted, but the excellence of the performances (from Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson in particular) and the beauty of the cinematography offset the worthy nature of the film. I found it difficult to engage with it on anything other than an intellectual level, but it’s an important film worth seeing. I’m glad I experienced it and Garfield deserves all the acting awards going, but it’s not one I would seek out again.

 

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mv5bnzg4mjm2ndq4mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzk3mtgyode-_v1_sx214_al_Picking up a year or so after the events of Finding Nemo (but of course actually being released more than ten years after that movie was such a success) Finding Dory concentrates on our favourite forgetful Blue Tang fish as she, well, starts to remember stuff. She heads off to find her long-lost family, and of course can’t do it alone, so takes Marlin and Nemo along with her, this time heading for California rather than Australia.

And of course, there is a lesson to be learned – to quote IMDB (who else)

[…] everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way

I had intended to see this in the cinema but for some reason we missed it, so when it appeared on the Book God’s Christmas list it seemed a good idea to make sure it was under the tree. As is traditional chez Bride, we watch movies on New Year’s Eve because we are elderly and fuddy-duddy, and we look for a feel-good film to see out the old year. Somehow that got lost and translation and we ended up watching Deadpool, (again; I love that guy) but Dory became our first film of 2017, and a lovely start to the year.

I really enjoyed Finding Dory, largely because of Ellen DeGeneres’ performance, but also because of the new characters it introduced along the way, all of whom, like Dory, were different in some way. So as well as the family thing, there was also the importance of recognising that being different doesn’t mean being weaker or less deserving in some way.

It got a little bit out of control as the big set piece at the end unfolded, but it was a sweet, fun movie which I know we’ll watch again. Not a bad start to the movie-watching year.

I had really hoped to write individual reviews for these films as they are (mostly) worthy of more than a couple of short paragraphs, but such is life and I could see myself just not writing anything about them at all in a desire to tidy things up for the start of a new year. So, here goes:

Doctor Strange:- The newest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this was on my must-see list as soon as it was announced, and it did not disappoint. Cumberbatch totally looked the part, and despite the controversy over casting I thought Tilda Swinton was, as ever, awesome. It was tripper and funnier than I expected and made it onto my To Buy list straight away.

Spy:- I hadn’t really seen any of Melissa McCarthy’s work until Ghostbusters, but i was very taken with her as a screen personality, and I had heard that this was a very funny film so it seemed a no-brainer to check this out when it appeared on cable. Haven’t laughed so much in ages. McCarthy very cool, but it’s Jason Statham who makes this film. Hilarious.

Arrival:- I was very keen to see this, more so after I read the short story by Ted Chiang on which it is based (and is wonderful in its own right). A completely absorbing and moving film with excellent performances. I wondered how the story would translate to the screen and I wasn’t at all disappointed. So clever and engaging. And one of the rare occasions when I have liked Jeremy Renner. Again, straight onto the To Buy list.

Independence Day: Resurgence:- It kind of had to be done. I love Jeff Goldblum and was interested how this would all work out twenty years after the original. And I didn’t think it was as awful as some people did, but it was distinctly meh and a real mess. Insufficient Goldblum, at least one superfluous sub-plot and the unnecessary despatching of several characters for no good reason that I could see. A clear example of bigger not meaning better.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:- Loved it. Yes, there are plot and pacing problems; it feels like two unequal stories mashed together, one significantly darker than the other, but it was so well done that it was easy to overlook. I really enjoyed the film; the effects were excellent with some wonderful beasts (I personally would like to own a Niffler, and the Thunderbird was so so cool) and personable characters. My favourite was Queen; she was so sweet. Looking forward to the next film.

Maggie:- I can’t remember if someone recommended this to me or I just heard or read a review somewhere, but however I found out about it I was intrigued by a slightly different take on the zombie genre and a subtle performance by Arnold Schwarzenegger. I thought it was very good indeed. Low key and affecting. Worth watching.

Limitless:- We really enjoyed the TV series produced by Bradley Cooper (and sadly and wrongly cancelled after only one season) and decided to watch the film that had started it off. I am ambivalent about Mr Cooper – I’ve seen some great performances and some where I didn’t warm to him at all) but he was absolutely ideal for this character and I liked the movie very much, especially as Robert de Niro was being proper Robert de Niro. No real depth but a great Saturday night watch.

Rogue One:- It was brilliant. I’m going to see it again next week and will say more about it then, but I’m excited to see it again.

 

 

 

 

A paragraph or two on the films I saw between Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange. There are some crackers in here, I promise.

 

fullsizeoutput_597The Bournes – many many years ago I watched the first of the Bourne films and despite my brother (a huge fan of the books) telling me I would really like it, it left me entirely cold. Move forward to 2016 and consecutive evenings spent watching Supremacy and Ultimatum, and though I’m still not entirely bowled over, my increasing appreciation of Matt Damon made me like these a bit better, probably also down to the involvement of Paul Greengrass as director. Not sure I’ll ever watch them again, or spend any time on the most recent one (or the Jeremy Renner filler either).

 

mv5bzmnjnja4yzktodk5yy00n2q0ltgymgmtzgixmjjkndvjy2q3xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtc5ntu1ndu-_v1_sy1000_cr007361000_al_April and the Extraordinary World – French steam punk animation, chosen by the Book God who has read the graphic novel. The voice of Marion Cotillard. Strong steampunk influence. Paris as you’ve never seen it before. Sentient gun-toting lizards. Great fun. And on the same evening we saw….

 

 

 

mv5bmtg0odyzodg4ov5bml5banbnxkftztcwndm3nzawmg-_v1_uy268_cr50182268_al_

 

 

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Japanese time-travel shenanigans. Beautifully done and much more poignant than I expected it to be. Eddies in the space-time continuum.

 

 

mv5bmja2mzg2ndmznl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjcwoduzote-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_

Kubo and the Two Strings – the first of the films seen this autumn that made it straight onto my To Buy list. Beautiful to look at, wonderful story, scary bits, Charlize Theron as a monkey and Matthew McConaughey as a giant beetle thing. Astonishingly good.

 

 

 

mv5bmtg1nduymzk5nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotk1nzuxmze-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Blackhat – of course Chris Hemsworth is one of the world’s greatest hackers, and of course he’s going to be pulled out of prison on a deal so that he can help the good guys track down a major cyber criminal enterprise, and of course it’s all going to go wrong, so revenge must be obtained. A great cast and significantly more fun than it had any right to be.

 

 

mv5bmtc3mji0mjm0nf5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtyxmtq1oa-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Argo – Affleck’s big Oscar wining movie about events surrounding the American hostages in Iranian 1980. Based on actual events, it shows how appalling the situation was and how risky the venture to get this small group of people out of the country was. Affleck is excellent, Bryan Cranston is brilliant as always, there are astonishingly awful haircuts and outfits, and my personal favourite, Victor Garber as the Canadian Ambassador. Excellent movie.

 

MV5BMTc2Mjk0MTM0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjgyOTg1NjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Victor Frankenstein – I made an attempt to see this in the cinema but missed it, and wondered at the time if I had had a lucky escape. Watched on a Sunday afternoon when I was feeling a bit rubbish, this was absolute tosh but hugely enjoyable for all that. With Harry Potter as Igor and Professor X as Frankenstein it was an absolute hoot. Scenery well and truly chewed.

 

 

mv5bmjq0nza4ndcxm15bml5banbnxkftztgwmtk1njuzote-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_The Girl With All The Gifts – I totally adored the novel this was based on (you can read my review here if you are so inclined) this was the first outing for our little Film Club. I can’t say enough good things about this film – visceral and tense and beautifully acted by an excellent cast, scary and hopeful in equal measure. A very different take on the zombie movie. Can’t recommend it enough.

 

 

6d9d490dfbc3da653ad80a40c460681fBlack Mass – based on a true story of a notorious gangster, brother of a state senator and informant to the FBI, but only so he could get rid of the Mafia who were muscling in on his turf. Deeply morally ambiguous, astonishing levels of corruption, everyone finally getting their just deserts. nice to see a film in which Mr Depp is not hiding behind a bad wig and a silly voice. Oh, wait….

 

 

97c5040cc606b76b461b317c211fd74cJack Reacher: Never Go Back – I really liked this. The Cruiser returns as Mr Reacher, still of course bearing absolutely no physical resemblance to the character as written but managing to bring his considerable star power to another good thriller. Mr C looks and acts his age, the female characters are strong and empowered, and when people get bashed around it actually has an impact. Major government conspiracy, the good guys are on the run and living on their wits, and all’s well that ends well. Thoroughly enjoyable.

MV5BMjM1OTMxNzUyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjYzMTIzOTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Which I keep on wanting to refer to as THE Suicide Squad because there can be only one, right?

What’s it all about?

A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated criminals to form a defensive task force, with their first case leading to a potential apocalypse.

“Their first case” – that’s really sweet.

Why did I want to see it?

I love, love, love the character of Harley Quinn. Viola Davis being badass as Amanda Waller. “We’re the bad guys. It’s what we do.”

What did I think of it?

Suicide Squad was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, and if I’d written this closer to when I actually saw the film I probably would have had more to say, but to be honest it was pretty much a mess. I’m not going to say that it’s bad, because there was a lot in it to enjoy, but it could have been great. Mark Kermode (amongst others) has suggested that it was edited into oblivion and not in a good way. I just thought that the story didn’t hold up; the best bots were all about Amanda Waller introducing each of the Squad members at the beginning of the film.

The good stuff:

  • Viola – wonderfully nasty. Wish she was on Arrow.
  • Margot Robbie as Harley – gleeful with a manic edge
  • Will Smith reminding me why I used to like watching his films
  • reminding us all that Ballroom Blitz is a great song

The rest was meh. Didn’t like Jared Leto’s version of the Joker, but not sure it’s entirely his fault.

So a disappointment more than anything else. Wonder if they’ll ever have a second case…..

MV5BODkyNDQzMzUzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODYyMDEyOA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_What’s it all about?

In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.

Why did I want to watch it?

Karl Urban. Wiping out the memory of the Stallone travesty. had heard good things about it. Needed something to watch on a Friday night.

What did I think of it?

I liked it. It was brilliantly violent. Silvery Dude suggested that was enough of a review, and I was tempted but…… that didn’t seem fair.

So, context – my kid brother used to read 2000 AD so I knew a bit about Dredd but have never really got into the comics myself. However, I think I know enough to realise that this was a pretty good adaptation; Mega City One was suitably cruddy and seedy and requiring of the type of justice meted out by Dredd and his colleagues.

It’s a classic cop buddy movie  – Dredd is given rookie Anderson to take out on assessment; she’s not done that well at the academy but she’s psychic so extremely useful. They head off to deal with three murders and walk right into (or actually provoke) retaliation from MaMa, nasty female drug dealer and all-round badass. Things do not end well.

Urban is brilliantly grim and the helmet stays on, so 1 million points to him. Olivia Thirlby as Anderson is superb – at one point I thought they were going to do the classic female gets kidnapped so hero has a reason to do his thing, but it’s so not like that (thankfully) – and Lena Headey plays MaMa in a style that makes Cersei look like a pussy cat.

Bloody and violent, but imaginatively so; like I said, like it.

MV5BMTU0ODk1MTIxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk3MTc5ODE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Why did I want to see it?

It’s Star Trek. Why wouldn’t I?

What did I think about it?

This is a really good film. I mean, really good. Don’t listen to people who tell you that it isn’t as good as the two that went before because frankly I think it’s the best of the lot. The cast are all excellent and have really settled into their roles. As others have said, in many ways the strength of Star Trek has always been the characters and their values and interactions rather than the villain of the episode and accompanying dilemma, so it’s really cool to see that delivered in Beyond, but with different pairings. So we have Bones & Spock, Kirk & Chekov, and Uhura & Sulu. Bones and Spock are particularly enjoyable together., snarking away.

In terms of the villain Idris Elba is always excellent but in some ways is the weakest part of the story. There is a very cool helpful alien and the special effects and backdrop to the story (especially Yorktown) are fantastic.

There are lovely tributes to Leonard Nimoy throughout as Spock and at the end, along with the saddest thing of all, a short tribute to Anton Yelchin.

Totally absorbing. Enjoyed it so much that I’m going to see it again next week 😀

IMG_0437What’s it all about?

Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

Why did I want to see it?

I wouldn’t have missed this under any circumstances, but I was determined to shoe this movie some love after the drubbing it was getting online before anyone had even seen it. I was excited to see a sci-fi/fantasy film where all of the main characters were women. It brought out my 1970s feminist side. Yes, I am that old.

What did I think about it?

I genuinely liked this, it was huge fun. Yes, it was slight in some respects, and yes, the structure was a bit wobbly but the cast was uniformly excellent and I just loved seeing four women getting on with each other (mostly, and let’s face it, that’s what real life is like, nobody gets on with each other all of the time), making their own decisions and saving the world without a romantic lead in sight.

I may have fallen in love with Kate McKinnon. Melissa McCarthy & Kristen Wiig were relatively known quantities and McCarthy in particular was just lovely. And I thought that Leslie Jones was great, and had a lot of the best lines. I was already in love with Hemsworth Major but it was cool to see him make fun of himself, and he looked like he was really enjoying it. The use of cameos was nicely judged. I nearly missed the post-credit sequence, but a Facebook message from a friend (I was outside of the screening at the time before I’m accused of breaking the Wittertainment Code of Conduct) had me diving back in for the nice reveal.

And most importantly of all, I laughed throughout the whole film. On my to buy list. I would happily watch this one and over again.

MV5BNjExODg3MDUzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjExMjE3NzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_This is the last of my catch-up reviews. It’s entirely possible that I have saved the “best” for last…….

Watched: 19 June 2016

What’s it all about?

Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.

Why did I want to see it?

Like Dragon Blade, this was one of those mad-sounding films that my husband cannot allow himself to ignore, and I promised, despite anything that might transpire, that I would go with him. This was before the film disappeared from its original release date in the early spring. I should have known then…..

What did I think of it?

I started off by thinking that I had no words, but would have to find some otherwise this would be the shortest review I’ve ever written.

I think my initial reaction (shared on Twitter) was along the lines of “Oh. Dear. God.” Because this was bad, and I don’t mean the bad in a good way type of bad, but genuinely bad. And let’s remember that I have seen 10,000 BC where they used mammoths to build the pyramids. Anyway…..

On paper it must have sounded brilliant; let’s get Jaime Lannister to fight King Leonidas for control of a version of Ancient Egypt that must have been dreamed up while the writers were on drugs of some kind (surely that must be the reason?). They also clearly like gold, for there are lots and lots of shiny gold. And the Egyptian Gods are taller than the humans they are ruling, but exactly how tall is a bit of a mystery because their height does seem to change – full disclosure – someone (probably Mark Kermode) said that before I saw the film so perhaps I was hyper-aware, but it’s true – and possibly alien rather than actual gods though to be honest that is a minor point. Everyone speaks the same way except Gerard Butler, bless him, who sounds exactly like he grew up on the same council estate in Paisley that I did, and is clearly playing no-one other than Gerard Butler all the way through. There is a sappy human romance between a drippy girl and a charisma-free hero who delivers his lines like he’s in a pantomime (and I thought Brenton Thwaites was pretty good in Oculus, so this was disappointing) and should have an ‘r’ inserted strategically in his name.

And then Rufus Sewell turned up. I love Rufus Sewell but what on earth was he doing in this, apart from most of the acting and smouldering as per usual. Perhaps he needed to pay for school fees or a loft extension or something. Ditto Geoffrey Rush. And Chadwick Boseman, whom I simply loved as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, was camp in the extreme.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, they criminally wasted a (poorly designed) Sphinx.

The female characters had nice frocks though.

This was fabulously stupid. Really. And this from a person who loved both Jupiter Ascending and John Carter in defiance of almost everyone else, so I know whereof I speak.

No redeeming features whatsoever. Totally charmless. Ugh.

MV5BMjM1MDc2OTQ3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQ0NjQ1NjE@._V1_SY1000_SX675_AL_Still catching up; nearly there!

Watched: 18 June 2016

What’s it all about?

In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood’s top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.

Why did I want to see it?

One of those ones we managed to miss at the cinema, though to be fair it mostly came on my radar as a result of Bryan Cranston’s Best Actor nomination. It popped up on one of the movie channels and in the spirit of taking a breather from blockbusters we decided to watch.

What did I think of it?

I enjoyed this, but I found it a strangely old-fashioned film in both tone and structure, with the sort of montages I used to see in the biopics I grew up watching. But given the subject matter and setting that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know a reasonable amount about this period in US history so understood a lot of the back story which was not spelled out in huge detail. The thing that makes this film what it is though is the acting. The performances were genuinely strong, with Cranston (of course) and Helen Mirren the real standouts, though kudos must be given to Dean O’Gorman for capturing Kirk Douglas.

So worth watching but if I had to choose a film about this period I would probably go for Goodnight and Good Luck.