Back up to a high number of films this week, 10 in total. I think I learned the lesson I have been given time and time again – trust your instinct. When I’ve heard of a film and decided not to watch it because it doesn’t look that good, I’m usually right. When I hear of a film and decide to watch it, I’m often pleasantly surprised.
This is not a hard and fast rule, and is probably counteracted by learning too much about a film and spoiling it, or being more prepared to like something when I think about it less.
Which is pretty much why I avoid trailers and other information for films I want to see. Which is a complete switch from where it used to be – Attack of the Clones and Star Trek Nemesis I’d actually read the script before seeing them. But at some point you realise that sort of insight can ruin the enjoyment rather than heighten the expectation.
The World’s End
I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead, much more so on TV than in the cinema. Hot Fuzz I love anywhere, it’s a great take on small village living with a fun twist. Whilst this tries the same thing it fails because so little time is given to the village, so much time is given to the leads who are either awful or uninteresting, and the twist is poorly conceived and delivered. So I should have trusted my instinct that has stopped me from watching it until now.
Another film I was recommended to by Netflix based on previous content. A socially awkward man uses his wife’s voice and personality to create a digital assistant for a healthcare company, and the lines between which he cares more for become unclear, impacting their relationship. This film is everything I wanted Her to be, a good use of technology to tell a human story. There is not a person in this film I didn’t care about, and I was thoroughly engaged by the story. A really good watch.
Letterboxd lists this as the ‘most obscure’ film I’ve watched so far. I wanted to see it after hearing the actor Tim Matheson, who plays Reagan on The West Wing Weekly podcast. It’s a nice telling of the event and the personalities involved, but a little lacking in drama, which is often hard with a historically truthful tale.
Burying The Ex
Truth be told I was only watching this because it has Anton Yelchin in it. Sadly that wasn’t enough to rescue a very ordinary film that has a really nice idea at the core of it, but doesn’t make it work. Reminiscent of the movie ‘Life After Beth’ in many many ways, but at least that had Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza to shore it up.
The Thomas Crown Affair (remake)
You can hear my thoughts on this in detail on a future Pop Culturally Deprived, but this is still a good heist movie that uses its lead actors very very well and has an incredibly sharp script behind it.
The Thomas Crown Affair (original)
Which is to say that the writing on the original is less good. The leads are excellent but this is clearly a film of its time – the number of changes that they made for the 1999 film shows how this wasn’t quite as good as it wanted to be.
Ghost In The Shell (Live-action remake)
I love the original GITS (and will be watching that soon), and was very excited to see this when it was announced. As it got closer to release I was less and less enthused by it, so ended up not catching this at the cinema. Again, good instincts because it was lacking in a number of ways. They tried to use the live action nature in some ways that don’t work as well in animation (showing emotion, doing a more personal element of the story), but they kept in all the set pieces which were much better in the original. It left me questioning really why this was made.
Death Note (2017)
I have to admit I do not know Death Note other than by the references I see on t-shirts, comics, merchandise etc. Netflix offered me the trailer and I was grabbed within a few seconds. Again, my instinct paid off. I was riveted by the whole thing. The idea is good, the implementation is good, the escalation is good. There’s a lot about this to enjoy, and it might be the best thing I’ve seen so far.
Now You See Me
My instinct on this was to not see it at the cinema, but that it would be enjoyable when I did catch it. And that was on point up to the last 10 minutes. The whole way through we felt like the movie was lying to us, or holding something back, and when it came it was almost flippantly given away in a manner that actually lessened the whole. This is definitely a film that goes for style over substance, and doesn’t show you the best bits of the story (the development of the illusions, the magicians together).
Now You See Me 2
Fortunately the sequel does give you those things. Unfortunately it likes style even more than the first. There’s a sequence in here where they’re flipping a card between them whilst being frisked. It looks great. It has no purpose. I genuinely do not understand why they did that. And a lot of the tricks shown were much more about CG and visual effects than they were genuine magic tricks. I enjoyed this more than the first because we spent more time with the magicians at its core, but still not really impressed.
I would love to recommend Death Note as I enjoyed it so much, but reading the critical reception I think I’m on the wrong side of that one (my lack of knowledge of the source material is probably to blame). Operator however was a terrific film that told an excellent story in a gripping manner, so everyone should definitely seek that out.