C’mon C’mon: Joaquin Phoenix Proving Why He Got An Oscar

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Johnny, played by Joaquin Phoenix, must look after his young nephew Jessie, played by Woodie Norman.

For the most part I thought this was a beautiful film about lonely souls finding each other and bonding. I thought Phoenix was at his most paternal here and his relationship with Norman’s Jessie felt very organic, powerful and real. A number of times the scenes between the two as well as some of the scenes where Phoenix’s character is talking into his radio equipment about Jessie were so sweet and wholesome that they almost brought me to tears.

Now this film won’t be for everyone there will be some that view it as boring or as pretentious, especially because it chooses to be entirely in black and white, however I think the intimate focus and this colour choice help the film to stand out and give it personality.

The only thing I don’t like about this film is the long drawn out sequences where the children that Johnny interviews go on about their fears for the future. To me I thought these were dull and took away from a tight and compelling main story about the bond between boy and uncle.

Overall, Phoenix is an incredible talent.

Pros.

Phoenix

Norman

The emotion

The style

Cons.

Some of the sections drag on  

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South Park The Return Of Covid: We All Wish We Could Escape This Bleak Future

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The residents of South Park try to travel back in time and stop the outbreak of the covid epidemic.

I enjoyed this special far more than I did the last, mainly because I thought the message of learning to live with the disease, saying enough is enough, and trying to regain a semblance of our old lives, where being locked down for several months a year isn’t the norm, is not only agreeable but should be encouraged. It is nice to see things like this as a counter weight to the scare-mongering.

I enjoyed the friendship of the boys being the central focus and thought that the future Cartman, voiced by Trey Parker, storyline was actually quite sweet and well done. I know some fans will not like the final fate of Cartman but I thought in some ways it was poetic to the character we knew all along, though this is by no means the end and probably a series of the show years from now will give him a whole different future.

This special I also found to be funnier than the last and it made me chuckle a good number of times during it. I am still quite apathetic to the topic of covid and hopefully this will be the last time the show mentions it as the jokes are starting to run dry.

Overall, better than the last and hopefully the last time we will see the series tackle covid.

Pros.

The message

The ending

The jokes

Cons.

The covid jokes have been done to death

It goes on for a bit too long  

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The Cleanse: Wellness Is A Troubling Industry

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After his life falls apart Paul, played by Johnny Galecki, decides to go away on a cleansing retreat to unexpected results.

This whole same plot line was done far better in a twenty minute episode of Rick and Morty. Basically, during Paul’s stay at the retreat he sicks up some form of parasite that is supposed to represent all of his bad qualities, and as part of the retreat he has to kill it so he can become the person he wants to be. The difference between this and the very similar plot line on Rick and Morty is in the latter it only lasts for twenty minutes and the resolution is infinitely better. I thought from the beginning it was incredibly obvious where the film was heading.

The acting is fine Galecki is serviceable enough, no one really stands out. The thing I would give the film props for is the design of the creatures especially as they aged and became more monstrous, I thought they were well designed and made the appropriate impact.

Tonally this film is a mess as it doesn’t seem able to decide what it wants to be, there are serious moments ruined by a poorly written joke for example. It should really either be a straight horror or a darker comedy and not try for both as the writing just isn’t there.

Overall, some good ideas and strong creature design is balanced by a contrived and easy to guess story with a poorly thought through tone.

Pros.

Galecki

The creature design

Some interesting ideas

Cons.

Rick and Morty did it better

The tone is all over the places and clashes frequently

It is incredibly predictable  

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Epic Movie: Willy Wonka In A Whole New Sinister Light

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The guys behind those Movie films reunite to make a spoof of the fantasy adventure genre.

This one is going to be controversial. For many a lot of the Movie films are some of the worst ever made, if you check out worst films of all time lists all across the internet you will see the likes of this film and others within the Movie family of films gracing many of the spots, however I actually liked this film. Yes I know.

Though not all the jokes land, some come across as overly sinister or mean spirited, I did laugh at quite a few of them. Moreover, I thought a lot of the songs were strong and they stayed with me for a long time after watching, they were catchy.

None of the cast are going to win awards but they are all doing their respective shticks fairly well. I thought Crispin Glover was a delight as a sadist and perverted Willy Wonka, his scenes stole the show for me.

Overall, certainly a film that will be an acquired taste comedically, but one that has some good moments which do enough to overshadow the bad.

Pros.

The songs

The jokes

Glover

Cons.

A few jokes are in poor taste or feel mean spirited

It goes on for far too long

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Matrix Resurrections: Taking Everything That Worked And Flushing It Down The Toilet

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another franchise is brought back from the dead only to be dissected, demystified and reinvented in a new trendy way, without seemingly understanding what made the first few and its later sequels, to a lesser extent, work.

The first ten minutes of this film gives you enough reasons to turn it off. The dialogue is terrible, this is a problem for the whole film, and seems to think it is saying something deep when actually a lot of the deeper philosophy of the series seems to have been carved out of it. Pair this with a group of new characters that look, act and feel like cosplayers doing their best to make a fan film and you are given your first red flag.

To make matters worse the whole meta idea of Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, being a games developer who made the Matrix as a game and in this world everyone knows about the events of the trilogy not as events that really happened but as sections of a popular game is just awful. In this early part of the film they make funny meta comments about how WB is forcing them to make a sequel to it, and about various elements from earlier films, this does not come across as funny or deep it comes across instead as smug, pretentious and up its own arse. They also manage to throw in a good number of left wing talking points during this early section of the film seemingly for no reason other than to be trendy and have certain parts of Twitter praise them.

Honestly the way this film recontextualises the other films it makes them borderline unwatchable, and hence forward I will pretend like this film doesn’t exist.

The only reason it has got a one is because Reeves is trying and is allowed to have some fun with the role.

Overall, please save your money.

Pros.

Reeves

Cons.

It ruins the previous films

It is too meta

The writing is awful

The new characters look and feel like cosplayers

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This Is The End: This One Aged Poorly

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of deeply privileged friends get together to hangout at the end of the world.

I remember enjoying this one a lot when I was younger, oh boy has it not aged well. Firstly and rather obviously there is the issue of James Franco who is allegedly a Hollywood creep, and then secondly there is such a feeling of smugness and privilege that it makes the film almost hard to watch at times.

Senses of humour change as you age certainly within the last eight years mine has. I didn’t really find myself laughing much at all here and quite often I found the jokes to just be annoying. Moreover, I found the everyman appeal the film was going for to be ruined by the fact that you realise these characters must all have large sums of money and could just buy their way out of the situation, it makes the whole scenario feel far-fetched.

The only sequence that I enjoyed was the Emma Watson scene, she makes it hilarious and I would like to see her do more comedy film she seems to have really great timing.

Overall, it was funny maybe five plus years ago but now it just feels like a group of entitled man childs complaining about being rich.

Pros.

Emma Watson

One or two laughs

Cons.

Mostly unfunny

It feels smug and entitled

A lot of the bits drag on for far too long   

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Shallow Hal: Why Are Fox Making A Sequel To This?

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

We get an incredibly obvious parable about not being a shallow dick. How is this a film?

In my review for The Holiday I said that I really like Jack Black and that he is good in nearly everything he is in with that being the exception, however, I forgot about this film. Black goes far too over the top here and much like with The Holiday this doesn’t feel tonally right. Moreover, despite trying his best Black’s character comes off as nothing but a dick for most of the film, and I understand that is the point as he is supposed to reform by the end of it, but that just leaves you with a somewhat bearable lead for about ten minutes at the end.

Moreover, it should go without saying that this film is painfully unfunny and despite claims that it is supposed to be body positive and that the lesson of the film makes up for all of its crude jokes this simply isn’t true. This film is about an hour and twenty minutes of fat jokes most of which also boarder on the misogynistic. These range from irritating to frankly insulting.

The fact fox is doing a sequel to this film in 2022 is baffling, no doubt it will be gender swapped for reasons but the terrible jokes will still be the same. Laughing at fat people for being fat isn’t funny it is demeaning and wrong; this is a lesson Melissa McCarthy could stand to learn also.

Overall, a nasty mean spirited comedy film not made up for by Black or by the message.

Pros.

Black is trying.

Cons.

Black is miscast and his performance doesn’t fit the film

The constant fat jokes

The pacing issues

Using a fat suit

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Pusher III: Hosting A Party Is More Stressful Than Running A Drug Empire

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Refn concludes his Pusher trilogy with a day in the life of Milo, played by Zlatko Buric, the drug lord from the first film.

Though I still enjoyed this film I thought it was the most needless of the trilogy and could see why Refn didn’t really want to make sequels, this one felt the most stagnate and time killy. Whilst the other films had an ever increasing sense of tension and claustrophobia this film feels decidedly smaller in scale and in stakes. Though for the most part this leads the film to feel less enthralling it also gives us a more intimate look at this character and their mentality which is nice and leads to a number of good character moments.

I think Buric does a good job here and keeps the film trucking along nicely, of the series characters I feel like he was the only one other than the two already used interesting enough to justify there own film and it was intriguing to see his own little slice of the underworld.

I would say this film struggled with its pace as unlike the others it did have moments that drastically slowed down and in doing so lost your attention.

Overall, a good but not great ending to the trilogy.

Pros.

Buric

The intimacy

A deeper look at Milo’s slice of the underworld

Cons.

Pacing issues

Weaker stakes

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Pusher II: Sometimes One Just Needs To Run Away

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The second film in the Pusher series follows Tonny, played by Mads Mikkelsen, as he gets out of prison and tries to return to his former life of crime.

Mikkelsen is magnificent here as always, as we see his Tonny grow over the course of the film, and feel  the claustrophobic metaphorical walls of Tonny’s life closing in around him trapping him into a cycle of criminality and abuse. Honestly, the final sequence of the film when Tonny finally turns on his gangster father, played by Leif Sylvester, and runs away with his baby is incredibly powerful and a lot of the sequence is incredibly reminiscent of Refn’s later film Drive.

I enjoyed the return to the Danish underworld and thought there was still a lot here to be mined and explored. I liked the juxtaposition of having Tonny not fit into this world at all, though not through a lack of wanting to. Though in many ways the character is morally repugnant Mikkelsen plays him with such a sense of weary charm and desperation that you can’t help but like him. The supporting cast all have moments to shine here, but this is very much Mikkelsen’s film.

Overall, an incredibly strong film.

Pros.

Mikkelsen

The world

The ending

The emotion and the stakes

Cons.

It feels a little rushed at times

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Mother/Android: The YA Genre Just Can’t Seem To Die

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Chloe Grace Moretz tries to break free of the YA market by making a science fiction film that feels remarkably YA. Moretz plays a young woman who must navigate an AI uprising in order to get to safety so she can give birth.

It is a shame this year has been so mixed for Moretz she started off with the underappreciated Shadow In The Cloud, and then went on to make Tom And Jerry, a sequel to the animated Addams family film and then this, further and further from grace. This film is by no means terrible, there are some interesting concepts here, however, it never does much with them. Instead it seems content on making this film a depressing melodrama with a YA dystopian setting and a front and centre romance.

Even when the film gets gritty the violence is either not shown or it is surprisingly bloodless, which I guess makes sense if you are fighting robots. However, it just makes this film feel like yet another poor YA film.

Moretz is trying her best however, she doesn’t really bring enough resonance to the part and as such the big emotional twist at the end doesn’t work as much as the film needs it to.

Overall, yet more weak science fiction.

Pros.

Some interesting ideas

It is relatively well paced  

Cons.

Moretz can’t land the emotional delivery

Surprisingly bloodless

It feels like an edgy YA film

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