Jerry And Marge Go Large: Bryan Cranston Is The Ultimate Dad

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After retiring from this job Jerry Selbee, played by Bryan Cranston, and his wife Marge, played by Annette Bening, decide to take advantage of a mathematical flaw in their local lottery and win money to help the town to stay afloat.

This film is deeply forgettable. Clearly this film wants to be the feel good film to cheer us all up in these dark times, and that is admirable, however really it is just incredibly generic. I think the acting weight of Cranston and Bening really do help to pull it up, without them giving deeply earnest performances I would have scored this film lower, much lower.

I understand it is based on a true story so there is only so much they can do with creative license, but this film feels like about a hundred other all American films, where the nice humble small town Americans get rewarded. In many ways without even watching this film you can accurately predict where the plot is going and how things will end up.

Moreover, I have looked into the true story this film is based on and can’t see any mention to the entitled college kids who become the villains to these simple down to earth folks. The whole narrative is so cliched and laughably bad, I don’t know why the film needed to include it in the first place.

Overall, fine. Cranston and Bening do a hell of a lot of good work, without them this film would just be forgettable schlock.

Pros.

Bening

Cranston

It is watchable

Cons.

The evil college kids

It is incredibly cliched and generic   

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The Silverton Siege: What The Mummy Gets Up To On His Off Days

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Loosely based on real world events, this film sees 3 young South African self-described freedom fighters hold a bank hostage whilst demanding the release of Nelson Mandela.

I thought for the most part this film was quite strong. It had good stakes and never let the tension slow down, by not having any respites or lulls in side stories or God forbid comedic relief this film allowed itself to be constantly engaging and intriguing.

Moreover, I thought the performances across the board were strong, I would not say there was a single weak performer. Thabo Rametsi was a compelling lead who really sold the struggle and inner turmoil of the character he was playing. Arnold Vosloo was also magnificent in his role and really brought something to the film.

I thought the social commentary of the film worked for the most part, however, in some areas it was laid on pretty heavily and as such felt a little clumsy. It certainly raised awareness and made me think a lot more about that time and place in world history, but I do think the writing could have been a bit stronger in this regard.

Overall, an above average Netflix film but certainly not something that will set the world on fire.

Pros.

Rametsi

Vosloo

The tension

Cons.

The social commentary is a bit too in your face and obvious

Pacing issues

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The Phantom Of The Open: Aim For The Bunker, Then Hit The Green.

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The true story of the worst golfer of all-time.

This was an unexpected treat, made doubly so by the fact that this film was directed by Craig Roberts one of the most underrated talents working today, until watching this I was not even aware that Roberts had moved into directing but I can now say it suits him.

This film was the perfect balance of trippy abstractness and British working class values, never fully leaning to one or the other and though that might sound strange or even paradoxical it works well. Moreover, the film is incredibly uplifting and feel good which after the couple of years we have all just had gives it an extra point from me, there were multiple times whilst viewing that I had a smile on my face.

Mark Rylance is outstanding in the lead and really sells both the character and his journey, as such I think it would be nigh on impossible to watch this film and not be rooting for Flitcroft as he is incredibly affable.

Overall, one of the best films of the year so far, certainly check it out.  

Pros.

The abstract scenes

Rylance

The feel good aspects

The ending

Cons.

A few slight structural issues

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The Duke: Down With The TV License

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A working class man, played by Jim Broadbent, steals a priceless work of art to blackmail the British government into doing more for senior citizens.

I enjoyed a lot about this film, I thought that it was inspiring, a nice look into a forgotten time period of British history, and also boasted a great message as well. Furthermore, this film really highlighted Broadbent’s acting abilities and becomes a fine showcase for him, he manages to cover the whole range from affable to anger and fully sinks into the character.

However, there was something about it that left me cold, which is hard to put my finger on.

My main issues with the film were the awful pacing which made it stretch on for far longer than it needed to, even brushing up to becoming boring at times, and the inclusion of the Anna Maxwell Martin character: who seemed to exist solely to make the statement that not all posh people are bad. Martin’s character is basically reduced to a cliché, and her appearance during the trial scene was cringey as hell and made the scene itself hard to watch.

Overall, a perfectly fine film but one that is also easily forgotten.

Pros.

The message

Broadbent

It shines a light on a lesser known event in British history

Cons.

The pacing

Martin

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Ted K: Sharlto Copley Does It Again

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The plot details the life of the Unabomber, here played by Sharlto Copley, shortly before his capture.

I was quite mixed on this film. On the one hand Copley is magnetic, as he nearly always is, and does a remarkable turn as Kaczynski falling entirely into the character. However, on the other hand the film spends far too long trying to develop out art house elements and surreal sequences that neither fit the format of the film nor add anything to it.

These art house elements also end up slowing the film down a lot and lead to it having pacing issues. There are vast parts of this film where everything moves along nicely and you are engaged and then it hits you with an abstract trippy scene which takes you out of the film and slows it down a lot.

I enjoyed the ending of the film and thought that it felt suitably big and impactful and the final shot showing the prison that Kaczynski resides in achieved the chilling effect it was going for.

Overall, a good true crime biopic however it could have been better.

Pros.

Copley

The tension

The ending

Cons.

The art house elements

Pacing issues.

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Against The Ice: The Bleak White North Of Greenland

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An expedition to Greenland soon turns into a life or death struggle for two men, played by Nikolaj Coster- Waldau and Joe Cole. Based on the 1909 true story.

I think this film is a remarkable tome to the human condition, both Coster-Waldau and Cole are  giving it their all and you can really feel it in their performances, from the beginning both sink into their characters so completely that you forget that you are watching a film.

Moreover, the film maintained a strong sense of tension throughout, there were multiple moments where, pardon the trite overused phrase, I was on the edge of my seat. I thought the film for the most part was deeply enthralling and kept you engaged throughout, this was helped along by you caring about the fate of the explorers.

My main issue with the film was that though for the most part it did a good job of keeping you interested there was significant pacing issues resulting in slow moments that hurt the film broadly and that tested your interest in it, regarding this there are also a number of sub-plots that could have been cut down to save time as they really don’t add much of anything.

Overall, an interesting film that is dragged down by some aggressive pacing issues.

Pros.

Coster-Waldau

The tension

You care about the characters

Cons.

The pacing

It overstays its welcome

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Pam And Tommy: Drilling And Pounding

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An opening episode with all the depth and nuance of a puddle of sick, which often revels in its crass vulgarities thinking that simply by being shocking the series can be entertaining.

Honestly, I can’t understand why this show is getting good reviews? I am bemused by it. Within the first episode I found nearly all the characters to be so loathsome and unpleasant that I had trouble finishing it. If Tommy Lee, here played by Sebastian Stan, did indeed behave like that in real life he should be in prison, and if not he should sue this show for defamation.

Moreover, I am no prude, but this episode was needly vulgar every step of the way, I don’t know why it needed to be. Did the show think this would make it funny? Is it trying to make some kind of comment on the lifestyles of the rich and famous? Is it supposed to be shocking? I don’t know the answers to these questions dear reader, but I do know that after the hundredth ‘oh yeah do you like that’, that it becomes cringe and feels like it is trying too hard.

Also I have not seen the whole series yet so I can’t comment fully, but it seems to me that in the little we see of Lily James’ Pamela Anderson here, she is being sexualised. Which maybe they will do more with her over the course of the series and they will give her some nuance, but I doubt it. Objectification very clearly on display.

I also think it is worth noting that the real life Anderson, did not want this show to be made. So it is a show about a deeply intimate and embarrassing moment of her life being made without her consent. Ponder that.

Overall, I don’t think I’ll be returning for episode two.

Pros.

At least they didn’t have alleged sexual predator James Franco staring in it like they were going to

Cons.

Everyone in it is deeply unlikeable

It is trying to hard to be gross out and adult

It is vulgar

Lily James’s Anderson is being objectified

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Minamata: All You Need To Fight Injustice Is A Camera

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Johnny Depp stars as W. Eugene Smith a photo journalist who was pivotal in exposing the Japanese Minamata scandal.

There will be some out there put off by the fact that this film stars Johnny Depp, to them I will say he has not been charged with anything, though he is already cancelled and the masses online will form a pitch fork wielding mob if he stars in anything. If he is formally charged with something then of course my opinion will change, but for now the situation is murky and people are quick to cast the stone and ride the high horse.

Personally, I thought Depp was surprisingly solid here, his last few performances had begun to suggest he was losing his way and was maybe even starting to phone it in, however he is on strong form here and delivers a stirring performance.

I thought the film as a whole was haunting and brought light to a scandal many of us may not be aware of. It handles the drama and the emotion well and you become so wrapped up in the goings on that you want to go out and fight the injustice as well. I thought Ryo Kase was the scene stealer of the film and had many powerful scenes.  

Overall, I think it is a shame that many will let their feelings towards Depp put them off watching this as it is a very powerful and needed film.

Pros.

Depp

The emotion

Kase

Cons.

Pacing issues

Bill Nighy seems miscast

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Calendar Girls: The Calendar That Titillated The World

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of older Yorkshire women pose nude for a calendar to raise money for cancer patients. Based on a true story.

I found this film to be enjoyable to watch and mostly feel good. Yes, there were one or two moments that were a little on the depressing side but for the most part it was a cheery celebration of life.

I thought all of the performances across the board were strong, Helen Mirren and Julie Walters are both compelling co-leads and both are relatable with their individual struggles and how they handle their fame. I thought it benefited the film to have the reflection on fame and what it can do to up end a life, it made the characters feel genuine and real.

My issues with the film would come as a result of a very played out narrative that feels been there done that. Obviously this film was pinned down as it was a true story so had to stick to that, but a lot of the emotional beats and revelations about life felt deeply generic and puddle deep. The film was also insanely predictable.

Overall, a sweet if overly familiar film.

Pros.

Mirren and Walters

It is very watchable

A few funny lines

Cons.

It is very predictable

It feels played out  

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The Souvenir: The World’s Most Depressing Film

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young woman, played by Honor Swinton Byrne, falls in love with an older man, played by Tom Burke, however there romance is a bad one and things quickly descend.

My, my if you are looking to become depressed then look no further than this film. It is one of the bleakest, grimmest films I have ever seen. Honestly by the time the credits began to role I felt depressed. I understand the film might be reflective of the real life horrors that inspired it, but that doesn’t mean audiences want to see it. I can not imagine anyone choosing to watch this film and then finishing it, if it weren’t for the purposes of this review I would not have.

I only put this film on because I enjoy Richard Ayoade, but he was barely in it. Truly he was the white whale of this film, I kept at it and kept at it hoping for more time with him but sadly we only got a brief hello.

The emotions of the film rung true and I suppose that is the only thing I can really compliment the film on. Everything felt very genuine and I didn’t doubt the sincerity of the script or those delivering it.

Overall, manically depressing.

Pros.

The emotional feels genuine

Richard Ayoade for the brief moments we get with him

Cons.

It is bleak

You will leave it feel depressed

Pacing issues

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