Film Reviews: Don’t Breathe 2. CODA. Stillwater. Jungle Cruise. Amelie. Mary and Max. A Silent Voice. O Brother Where Art Thou? Captivated The Trials of Pamela Smart

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Don’t Breathe 2

When the villain becomes the protagonist. Don’t Breathe (2016) was an excellent entry to the home invasion genre with an amazing twist. Then The Quiet Place (2018) came out which followed some of the same patterns and everyone seemed to forget about Don’t Breathe. The sequel also has a crazy twist and is almost equally as brilliant. I’m devastated there won’t be another one.

7/10

CODA

I understand the pressure of being the kid who has to translate for their parents who don’t speak the language. Your family’s livelihood depends on you. It angered me when Ruby kept staring at her phone instead of interpreting for her dad. I know this is supposed to be a coming of age, teen movie, but the love plot was unnecessary. I was waiting for them to turn the sound off, and when they finally did, it was very much effective. Also, we all love Joni Mitchell, but Both Sides Now is not an audition song.

8/10

Stillwater

We’ve all seen that Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix and just by watching the trailer for Stillwater we can agree this is a rip off of her story. As shocking as Amanda’s story is, the film is even more unbelievable. They wanted to make it seem like a different story, by changing the location from Italy to France to start with and ended up going too far.

5/10

Jungle cruise

How is this not… a new instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? If you’re in the UK, go see it at Odeon and don’t forget to pick up your A3 poster. It’s the nicest one they’ve had in a while.

6/10

Amelie

I could watch 10 hours of 6 year old Amelie’s adventures. Also, I’ve never noticed the ASMR in the opening credits before. Maybe Youtube isn’t as useless as I thought? The cinematography is beautiful, but the subject matter is too light for me to find the film to be of essence. Watch Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique instead.

7/10

Mary and Max

Two lonely people from the opposite sides of the world become best friends. I haven’t had a pen pal since I was twelve and now I really want one. The ending is soul crashing.

‘You are my best friend. You are my only friend. Your American pen pal, Max.’

9/10

A Silent Voice

I don’t believe the bully could ever become friends with the bullied, but all the talk about suicide is what makes this animation wonderful.

9/10

O Brother Where Art Thou

This reminded me of The Defiant Ones (1958) with Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis and it was funny at times, but why was Holly Hunter in only 2 scenes?

7/10

Captivated The Trials of Pamela Smart

An HBO documentary about the first televised trial. This girl clearly didn’t understand she could go to prison for hiring someone to murder her husband. I’ve always loved Gus Vant Sant’s To Die For starring Nicole Kidman and never knew it was loosely based on Pamela Smart’s story.

6/10

Film Reviews: Sneakers. The Other Guys. The Mitchells vs The Machines. Paul Blart Mall Cop 2. The Briefing. Jude. All Good Things. The Producers. The War of the Roses

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Sneakers

I’ve only owned orange cars and that orange Volkswagen is hella pretty. According to IMDB, it’s the exact same car used in So I Married an Axe Murderer. The fact that only 3 of Sidney Poitier’s films are available on my services is a crime. Nonetheless, I’ll watch all 3 this week.

7/10

The Other Guys

I recognised Ice T’s voice straight away, and he’s not even credited for his narration. Foo Fighters’ My Hero plays as Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock jump to their deaths in the only interesting scene in the film.

2/10

The Mitchells vs The Machines

This was cute, but… furbys are not evil. They were the must-have toy of the late 90s and the film’s portrayal is disappointing. On the other hand, the film has an LGBT character, so all is forgiven.

‘You’ve inspired me to follow you on Instagram.’

7/10

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

A few years ago I attended the Security Awards in London and the ceremony was not even remotely as eventful as what is shown in this film. The IMDB page for Kevin James says his trademark is being ‘chubby, but athletic’. I guess this series is the proof of that? There are two reasons why I watched not one, but both Paul Blart films. The first one is that I watched all 9 seasons of King of Queens back in the day, and the second one is that I spent 8 years of my life working in security. I’ve met a lot of police academy drop outs who thought they were saving the world, when in reality they were all very much replaceable.

3/10

The Briefing (original title Odprawa)

A camera follows medical students as they learn their profession by making decisions, dealing with difficult patients, talking with patients’ families and fighting exhaustion. The ending is very abrupt and accompanied by annoying sound design. I feel like this could have been something if it was a bit longer.

‘Each one of you will have their cemetery, that’s for sure.’ (oryginal: Kazdy z Was bedzie mial swoj cmentarz, to jest pewne)

5/10

Jude

Cousins fall in love and feel they’re being punished when a tragedy strikes. Rachel Griffiths is superb as always in a supporting role.

6/10

All Good Things

I didn’t realise this was based on Robert Durst’s wife’s disappeareance. I watched Lifetime’s version of events in ‘The Lost Wife of Robert Durst’ just last week. All Good Things is definitely a step up, but it’s still not a good movie.

5/10

The Producers

I have never heard of this musical, but ‘Keep it Gay’ and ‘I Wanna Be a Producer’ are really good musical songs. Will Ferrell is the perfect weirdo for his role.

6/10

The War of the Roses

The first half of the film is a generic romcom, but the other half is Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner trying to kill each other and that is super fun!

5/10

Film Reviews: Candyman. The Night House. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blache. Frances Ha. Once Around. Battle Royale. 3 Faces. Legend. Little House: The Last Farewell

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Candyman

As glad as I am that this movie is a continuation of the 1992 film and not a remake, Candyman could really use another bonfire. I’m glad Tony Todd was in this one too, I was worried they had replaced him. I’m disappointed in myself for not figuring out the twist until the hospital scene.

7/10

The Night House

This may be the most tense cinema experience I’ve had in years, since Insidious probably. It’s scarier if you can’t see it. I liked the main concept, but the ending, although original, is a let down. On the other hand, the idea of a family member going to all that trouble to protect you is reassuring.

7/10

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blache

If you’re a filmmaker or a film buff, you need to watch this asap. I will now go watch everything directed by Alice Guy-Blaché I can get my hands on.

8/10

Frances Ha

Frances is a typical millennial who wants to spend her 20s in New York, pursuing a creative career, but having to take various odd jobs to support herself. Frances Ha is a bigger love letter to New York than a Woody Allen film.

7/10

Once Around

Holly Hunter stars as a 20s woman in love with an old man. Her family do not seem to mind the age difference, but they sure hate his personality. I loved the idea of projecting old family videos on a baby bump.

7/10

Battle Royale

A story of Japanese teenagers forced to kill each other on a remote island. If you liked The Hunger Games, you have to watch this!

9/10

3 Faces

An Iranian girl got into an acting school, but her parents disapprove of such profession. Jafar Panahi is asked to help. I’ve been putting this one off since January, and finally found the time to watch it. The channel I DVR’d it from no longer exists too. I have now seen all of Jafar Panahi’s feature films and Crimson Gold is the only one I didn’t like.

6/10

Legend

Beautiful set design to a very average fantasy film. With long hair, Tom Cruise looks exactly like Camilla Belle.

6/10

Little House: The Last Farewell

What a depressing ending to the series. I wish they brought Harriet, Nellie or Mary back for the final episode/movie. Yes, my family did spent the entire summer rewatching nine seasons of The Little House on the Prairie.

9/10

Film Reviews: Old. Black Widow. The Forever Purge. Uncle Frank. The Silence. Images. Troop Zero. November. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Till Death Do Us Part. Framing Britney Spears. Paris When It Sizzles. Runt Page.

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Old

Old is the film I’ve been looking forward to the most this year. I do however have to question the kids’ mental growth. A simple non-spoilery example is a 6 year old wouldn’t know what sex or prom are. The biggest con for me was the pregnancy storyline, which felt extremely forced and plain ridiculous. Cropped faces is one of my biggest pet peeves and there’s a lot of this sort of cinematography going on here. While the young actress looked a lot like Thomasin McKenzie, the adult version didn’t, they even forgot to give her green coloured lenses. Despite the aforementioned, I loved the concept and this was a pleasing watch.

7/10

Black Widow

So Florence Pugh is getting her own Marvel film? If you’re in the UK, Odeon is handing out A3 posters of Scarlet Johansson as the Black Widow, I recommend you grab one with your ticket. I haven’t seen all of the Avengers, because I don’t normally watch superhero movies, so the post-credits scene was a surprise to me. I originally went to see Black Widow because it stars Rachel Weisz, but I ended up enjoying the film quite a lot. The opening scene was probably my favourite and the opening sequence made me emotional partially because of Malia J’s lovely cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, making me already more invested in the superhero film than I ever thought I could be. Black Widow features multiple strong female characters and I had a lot of fun watching it. The Nirvana cover is going straight into my playlist.

8/10

The Forever Purge

I love the Purge series despite all of its flaws. It’s a brilliant idea, and The Forever Purge is one of the best ones in a while. There are no rules and people no longer want the Purge to be limited to a single day. My favourite moment was when they said they would open the Canadian and Mexican borders to those unarmed, it made me tear up.

6/10

Uncle Frank

I’ve always been a huge fan of Six Feet Under, so naturally I’ll watch anything written by Alan Ball. I cried a lot during the last 30 min or so. The film is nominated for an Emmy this year.

I’ve got two words for you, “no problem”.

8/10

The Silence

I seem to fall in love with every Iranian film I come across. The Silence is a beautiful and tender film about a blind boy.

7/10

Images

While I would rate Nashville, The Long Goodbye, Short Cuts and a few other films directed by Altman higher than Images, it’s still a really good psychological drama.

7/10

Troop Zero

If you like David Bowie’s music, you’ll enjoy this. This film clearly waited years for its realese, Mckenna looks about ten here. Mckenna Grace has been in almost 60 films and TV shows including The Handmaid’s Tale and I, Tonya, and I’ve seen at least 15 of them.

5/10

November

Back in 2005 I bought this on Ebay, but there was something wrong with my disc and the film would freeze halfway through. I still have that DVD and never got around to finishing this film, until now.

5/10

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Till Death Do Us Part

Did I see Candace shamelessly holding one of her children’s books in an early library scene? While her dress was lovely, this was probably the weakest instalment in the series. Aurora Teagardens are officially tied with Lori Loughlin’s Garage Sale Mysteries at 16 films, this will soon change with 17th Aurora arriving next month.

3/10

Framing Britney Spears

For a group of journalists, they didn’t do much digging, did they?

4/10

Paris When it Sizzles

My whole family hated this. Did they really have to act out the character’s entire script?

2/10

Runt Page

Wait, so this series was all a dream? The first instalment wasn’t on Filmbox, so I ended up looking it up on Internet Archive. The dubbing is distracting and the storyline is poor. It’s one of the weakest ones, but definitely not the most disturbing one.

2/10

For more, add me on Letterboxd: letterboxd.com/joanneholly

Film Reviews: Cruella. Dream Horse. Fear Street Part 1: 1994. Arizona Dream. Lords of Chaos. Destination Wedding. Made in Italy. Balto. Here and Now

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Cruella

From the moment Emma Thompson appeared in that brown wig, I spent the rest of the movie thinking Helena Bonham Carter would have made a better Baroness. I went in a bit sceptical, thinking the film is just another excuse for Emma Stone to practice her British accent, but she is really good as Cruella. 101 Dalmatians was never a film I liked as a kid and at least Cruella is much better than both of the Glenn Close films.

6/10

Dream Horse

How did they get Toni Colette to star in this little Welsh film? This movie is a one time watch you’ll forget the minute it’s over and a film you would never check out if it didn’t star Toni Colette. They crammed so many British things into the first five minutes of this film, I thought for sure this wasn’t written by a British person, but to my surprise, I was wrong. Oh yeah, and I was the only person at my screening.

6/10

Fear Street Part 1 1994

Goosebumps books and TV show were a big part of my childhood, so I will always watch anything based on R.L. Stine’s work. I have never read the Fear Street books, but this film made me want to buy some of them and pretend It’s 2002 all over again.

6/10

Arizona Dream

Do you guys remember how big Johnny Depp’s career was in the 90s? Between What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Edward Scissorhands and many other hit films, he was the A-lister people wanted to see in every film they watched. Arizona Dream, one of the few 90s films starring Depp I haven’t seen before is expiring from Mubi tonight. It has many memorable scenes, but since I’m a sucker for nostalgia, my favourite part is Depp’s character reminiscing about his childhood. I wasn’t paying attention to the opening credits and was nicely surpised when Lili Taylor and Faye Dunaway walked into the shop. Also, this made me want to act out the plane scene from North by Northwest just like the characters in this film. I need to get this on DVD.

8/10

Lords of Chaos

A good example of ‘necessary’ exploitation. I loved the film’s portrayal of self harm and that shocking suicide scene.

7/10

Destination Wedding

Keanu and Winona’s characters are skeptical and sarcastic and spend the entire weekend complaining and bickering. Apart from that, it’s a very average romcom.

5/10

Made in Italy

Liam Neeson and his son Micheal Richardson star as a father-son duo in a film about grief. There are parts that are painful to watch because of what happened to Natasha Richardson. It’s a touching little film you should check out.

6/10

Balto

I didn’t know this was inspired by a real story, nor have I ever heard of this story, as I’ve never been to Central Park, but this was a moving film for kids and the fact that it’s partly true gets an extra half star from me.

6/10

Here and Now

Replace Paris with New York and you have a US version of Cléo from 5 to 7.

4/10

Film Reviews: Sound of Metal. The Passion of Joan Arc. Punishment Park. A Quiet Place Part 2. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. Rocco and His Brothers. My Week with Marilyn. Blue Dessert. The Last Family

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Sound of Metal

The film features excellent sound design and a beautiful performance from Riz Ahmed. There were three scenes I particularly liked, the one where we learn that he didn’t understand he would never hear the same despite the cochlear implants, when he finally found solace in silence and when that morning light hit her self harm scars. There was a pre-recorded Zoom Q&A after my screening, where Paul Raci talked about his day job of being an interpreter for 40 years and the differences between growing up with two deaf parents in 1950s Chicago, and living in more inclusive Los Angeles in the 90s. First film I watched at the cinema since the third lockdown started back in October! I’m glad I started 2021 with this one.

9/10

The Passion of Joan Arc

When I was a kid, older women would often say, ‘oh yes, after Joan of Arc’, when I introduced myself to them when accompaning my parents to the shops (I was born in a country where 92% of the populaton identify as Catholic, probably even more then. I do too, despite being the only kid in class to refuse to have their confirmation, because 15 was my time to rebel and I also disagreed with the church on a few things). No one’s mentioned Joan of Arc’s name around me in 20 years, but I still remember it to this day. I’ve seen this film before many years ago, it was on TV every Christmas and Easter, but I didn’t remember it well. I love all the close-ups and Maria Falconetti’s acting.

‘Why do you dress like a man? If we give you a dress, will you wear it?’

10/10

Punishment Park

‘Why do you dress like a man? If we give you a dress, will you wear it?’

7/10

A Quiet Place Part 2

I was supposed to see this on March 20th last year, but we went into the first lockdown a few days prior. Glad I finally got to see this. It’s obviously not as good as the original, but it’s still plenty eventful and I can’t wait for the 3rd one.

7/10

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

The soundtrack including a Green Day song took me back to the early 2000s. I didn’t grow up in the UK, so I haven’t even heard of these books as a kid, but how cute are these films?

7/10

Rocco and his Brothers

And this is exactly why I love Italian films. This movie is currently 146th highest ranked film on Letterboxd.

9/10

My Week with Marilyn

So this guy became famous by claiming he made out with Marilyn?

5/10

Blue Dessert

Blue Dessert has been on my watchlist since the 90s. This film is exactly what I was expecting, in a good way. You can find it on Amazon Prime.

7/10

The Last Family

Zdzislaw Beksinski has always been my favourite artist. His dark paintings are unique and truly exceptional. While this was a good film, I recommend you watch The Besksinskis A Sound and Picture Album documentrary instead.

6/10

Film Reviews: The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It. Friends The Reunion. Those Who Wish Me Dead. Wake in Fright. The Cold Day in the Park. Plan 9 from Outer Space. Krisha. Fantastic Planet. 300 Miles To Heaven.

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The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It

The second one was a love story and this is a continuation of their beautiful relationship. I also loved that straight-from-The-Exorcist shot of the priest standing in front of the house. This series will always be superior because it’s based on real people. I used to google the Warrens’ cases as a young teen and I’m so glad their cases inspired this series. Please tell me there are another 3 films I can look forward to?

8/10

Friends The Reunion

Friends was a huge part of my childhood and early teen years. I still have a giant poster hanging on the wall of my childhood bedroom I doubt I’ll ever take down. I’ve rewatched the show 10 times, and stopped myself when I wanted to start it for the 11th time back in 2010. For years the box set was my most prized possession. I know some fans wanted this to be a proper 17-years-later continuation, but I’m glad it wasn’t. I want the characters to stay happy and in their mid 30s, when life is still relatively simple.

10/10

Those Who Wish Me Dead

This felt like the last 10 years never happened and Angelina never ‘retired’ from acting. I wish she chose a better film to make her comeback with (I’m ignoring Come Away, because she had a small role there and I didn’t like the film anyway), but it still made me happy. I definitely would have liked Those Who less if it stared some random actress whose career I didn’t follow closely since late 90s. Also for smoke jumpers, they didn’t do much jumping, did they?

6.5/10

Wake in Fright

This was brutal. Can we not hunt kangaroos please? I know I say this every time I watch an Aussie film, but this made me miss Australia. Thanks Mubi, you truly never disappoint!

‘It’s the best place in Australia!’

7/10

The Cold Day in the Park

I’ve had an awful couple of days, and yet this is what I chose to watch? It’s expiring from Mubi soon.

‘She was very masculine, our English teacher. But quite…pretty. And many of the girls had crushes on her.’

6/10

Plan 9 from Outer Space

This film had a budget of only 60 000 dollars and the funny thing is, if it wasn’t a sci-fi film, we would have never noticed it. I watched Tim Burton’s biopic on ‘the worst director ever’ Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp a few years ago, but I never actually got to see Wood’s work, until now. I lasted 20 minutes, but then again I don’t have the patience for sci-fi unless it’s Jurassic Park, so I’m not the best person to rate this.

2/10

Krisha

If everything else fails, write a script slightly based on your family and cast them in it. I love that Krisha is shown as an introvert, who feels uncomfortable surrounded by a large group of people. She tells her pushing-30 son or nephew (played by the director) he needs to go to film school while he’s still young, otherwise he will become trapped in something else (the actress who plays Krisha didn’t start acting until she was 35) and that he should do it because he had a great passion for it as a kid. I can relate to all of the above. I also loved the thrilling score heard in the background through most of the film. I watched 4 films on Mubi today, and this one is my favourite.

8/10

Fantastic Planet

Let’s… torture some humans. This was on my watchlist for the longest time and I finally got to see it thanks to Mubi.

7/10

300 Miles to Heaven

I love that this is inspired by a real story. I also loved the scene with the parents telling their kids not to come back, because they knew they would have it better in Denmark than in 1980s Poland.

8/10

Film Reviews: The Woman in the Window. Under the Silver Lake. The Legend of Bagger Vance. The Haunting of Hill House. Overboard. Black Mirror: Arkangel. Little Giants. Isn’t It Romantic. Float

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The Woman in the Window

I’ve waited two years for this, and this is what I got? I know everyone is calling this a Rear Window knock-off, so I won’t. This movie should have had more scenes with Julianne Moore.

5/10

Under the Silver Lake

Some kids egged my car back in January, then they took the cracked eggshell and pressed it into the side of my car. To this day my dad is convinced it was a bird carrying an egg that dropped it on my car and that I scratched my car with a petrol noozle and there is no convicing him otherwise. Anyway, this is relevant, because the character’s car also gets egged by some kids. When the characters talk about hidden messages in song lyrics, my mind automatically went to Charles Manson thinking the same about The Beatles’ lyrics. There is a lot I didn’t like about the script, which should have been cut. Most of the cinematography is beautiful though, and that’s what saves the film. I got an A1 poster of this movie at my local cinema 3 yrs ago, but it took me this long to check out this film. I watched this on Mubi in two sittings and let me just say, I was glad when it finally ended.

6/10

The Legend of Bagger Vance

This was directed by Robert Redford? I knew there was a reason why I DVR’d this. Jack Lemmon only narrates this, he’s not actually in the movie, something I wish I knew before going in. Unfortunately, this was extremely boring. If you enjoy watching golf on TV, give it a go, otherwise, stay away.

4/10

The Haunting of Hill House

I wish we did not spend that much time with the adult characters, half of them were plain boring. I got sick of them in episode four and started fast forwarding through some of their scenes. I hated that this was 80% drama and 20% horror, instead of the other way around.

7/10

Overboard

I laughed when Edward Herrmann said ‘I never saw her before in my life’ and proceeded to leave. RIP, Edward Herrmann.

6/10

Black Mirror: Arkangel

Obviously I’m starting my Black Mirror journey with the episode directed by Jodie Foster. I’ve only seen Nosedive before, and It left a good impression on me. Brenna Harding from Puberty Blues stars. Also, why would you ever chip your child.

7/10

Little Giants

I couldn’t stop laughing at Al Bundy being sporty and chewing gum agressively. That’s it, that’s my review.

5/10

Isn‘t It Romantic

The first twenty minutes of her mocking romantic comedies is watchable, and the fact that the viewer knows Wilson and Devine’s chemistry from Pitch Perfect helps a lot. Everything that happened after she hit that pole is a mess. Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’ is constantly heard in the film, tranferring me back to early 2000s.

3/10

Float

I’m tagging this as LGBT because to me this short is about a father learning to accept his child’s queerness.

‘Why can’t you just be normal?!’

7/10