White Noise: I Had To Check Whether Hitler Studies Was A Real Thing, That Is The State Of The World

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family cope with the after effects of a toxic chemical leak.

I don’t really know what was going on with this film, there were so many disparate plot elements happening here that meant any kind of meaningful story simply couldn’t be found. One second they will all be in the town shelter talking about the effects of the airborne toxin, and the next they were back in the family home talking about something else entirely. I would say from a narrative point of view this film is all over the place in such a way that it feels hyperactive.

Moreover, as other reviewers have said there is a certain sense of pretentiousness here for sure, the film is clearly made for a certain type of person and that person is someone who is very much the cinephile. I would say to my own enjoyment of the feature that I found myself laughing and was genuinely engrossed in the goings on that I could make out and understand, but there were times when I was laughing at the film, unintentionally so on its part, wherein I was laughing at just how pretentious it was.

The acting is fairly good Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig steal the show, but Don Cheadle does come in with some great moments as well, so I would say it is a toss up between all three. Though If I were forced to pick I would probably pick Gerwig as her scene in which she talks about trading sex for pills is quite moving.

Overall, not quite as good as Baumbach’s efforts with Adam Sandler, but still mostly enjoyable.  

3/5

Pros.

Gerwig

Driver and Cheadle

It is fun and even funny at times

Cons.

It is very pretentious in parts

It is trying to do and be too much

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Glass Onion, A Knives Out Mystery: Returning To Excess

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, goes to a private island to investigate a murder yet to come.

Whilst I still think this film is good, it pales in comparison to the first, not hugely, but certainly to a noticeable degree.

The writing is still sharp and the comedy and commentary is still very much on point, I laughed quite a few times during the film and thought that it had a number of insightful points about modern society.

Moreover, the vistas and the locations are still incredible to look at, and the film does present itself as the child of an Agatha Christie book and the excesses of the modern age.

However, outside of the comedy and the beautiful scenery is where the cracks start to immerge, and the hollowness begins to reveal itself more and more. This hollowness can best be seen in the performances, which do greatly lag behind the first film in that the ensemble never really comes together as well as feeling like each actor is playing a cliché or archetype rather than a real person. It feels like a group of actors acting rather than real characters interacting. The weakest member of the cast is probably Jenelle Monae who struggles to emote and gives an incredibly hammy accent turn midway through the film that simply isn’t believable at all, but this is why often musicians don’t make good actors.

Lastly, the runtime is an issue. At the two and a half hour mark the film quickly starts to develop pacing issues in act one and these get worse as the film progresses, there are many needless asides, flashbacks and so forth which whilst interesting to a degree in flushing out the world these characters inhabit, never really need to be.

Overall, still good but in some ways a little disappointing.

3/5

Pros.

The location

The comedy

Craig

Cons

The pacing issues and unsatisfying nature of the ending

The acting is frequently poor

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Troll: A Very Norwegian Kaiju

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An unearthed Troll begins to cause havoc in Norway.

In many senses this is a monster movie, or perhaps even a kaiju movie, it is about a big creature going around wrecking things and causing lots of damage and then humans having to come up with a way to stop it. Maybe that is what I should have expected, but I was thinking this was going to follow more in line with something like Troll Hunter and be about Trolls and explore the Troll legends of Scandinavia, but not have it devolve into CGI destruction. I was disappointed with what I got in the end.

Moreover, this film is in a sense also quite comedic and I don’t really understand whether that was on purpose or entirely unintentional, as the film takes itself very seriously but every now and again there will be a line that is very silly and that you can’t help but laugh at, it is quite odd.

Additionally, I found the CGI of this film to be quite distracting for all the wrong reasons. Now I am not going to go after the film too harshly for this as though it has some Netflix money, it isn’t like it has a Hollywood style budget so a little shoddiness in the CGI department is to be expected, but this film really takes the cake. It frequently shows it’s CGI Troll and my word does it look fake and jarringly so.

Overall, another dumb monster rampage movie with sub-optimal CGI.

2.5/5

Pros.

It is watchable

It has an interesting premise

It is funny but I don’t know if that is intentional

Cons.

The oddness in humour and tone

The lackings in the CGI

It is dumb and squanders its premise

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The Noel Diary: A Strong Sense Of The Familiar

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Justin Hartley plays a writer who must return to his childhood home and face the demons he has been running from as he clears out his dead mother’s possessions.

In terms of Christmas rom-coms this film is fairly bang average, there is nothing much to write about with it. The plot of a successful man returning home, confronting his past, making peace with it all the while falling in love with a local girl, played by Barrett Doss, is all very by the numbers for this sort of film. Again it seems like someone with a checklist is crossing off story beats as the film progresses, there is no element of surprise or the new here.

Hartly and Doss are fine, they are both serviceable enough but have neither the charm nor the chemistry to liven this film up. James Remar briefly lights up proceedings but he is barely in the film and after we have met him his absence is sorely felt.

Overall, serviceable but nothing more than that.

2.5/5

Pros.

It is watchable

Remar brings something to the film but is mostly underused

It is fairly short

Cons.

It is predictable and been there done that

It is poorly paced

It is boring  

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Pinocchio: More Disturbing Then It Had Any Right To Be

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The classic tale of Pinocchio, voiced by Gregory Mann, but now with added nightmarish creatures and fascist leaders.

Well this film achieved the impossible, it managed to make the Disney take on Pinocchio, animated not the trash live action, look tame by comparison. That is no small feat considering the fact that the animated Disney film has it fair share of deeply unsettling moments, but this film pips it by having some truly quite disturbing moments. Whether it is Pinocchio’s frequent deaths wherein he goes to an underworld like land and has conversations with frightening looking creatures, in most cases voiced by Tilda Swinton, or in the design of Pinocchio himself that never quite lets you settle down. In all honesty I found Pinocchio himself and the way he looked and acted to be the most scary thing about the film.

Writing this review for you now I can’t honestly say whether I enjoyed watching this film, it was certainly an experience viewing it though I don’t think wholly pleasant. Instead of giving it slap bang in the middle marks I have given it an above average score as whilst a lot of things in the film didn’t work for me or I found a little jarring, I like how far Del Toro pushed the concept and the risk he took with it, the Mussolini stuff he did was really quite daring and funny and fit the film in a way I wouldn’t have expected it to.

The ending will also be a source of contention for many as it is not by any account a happy ending, if anything it is fairly melancholic, it reminded me of the stylings of Tim Burton if that is any indication for you, but hey Ewan McGregor does a great job as the cricket and mostly keeps things light.

Overall, I can’t say I enjoyed the film but it is bold and some of it works really well.

3/5

Pros.

A risky and more adult approach

The setting and time period

McGregor    

Cons.

It is incredibly sad

Pinocchio himself is hard to warm towards because he looks unsettling

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Scrooge A Christmas Carol: The Very Worst Seasonal Musical

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A musical take on A Christmas Carol, but without the talent or the charm needed to pull that off.

Netflix has had quite a good track record of bringing out really good animated Christmas films they’ve had Klaus and Robin Robin, both of those films have become instant classics that I want to watch every year, however, this film really missed the mark for me and left me cold.

The main problem with this film is that it did nothing new with the story, sure it added a few extra lines here and there and reworded some stuff to make it more modern but if you compare this film to Apple’s Spirited where there is drastically different new elements to the classic tale, this is just more of the same but with a few bad new lines and even worse songs.

Don’t even get me started on the songs, they range from irritating to truly tuneless and awful and it leaves you questioning if the musical numbers are this bad why didn’t they decide to just have it be a normal non-musical film and scrap them in post?

The voice acting cast should have been able to bring the film together despite all of its various problems there is a lot of talent involved, such as Jessie Buckley, Olivia Coleman and Luke Evans, however, not a one of them turn up and for the most part it just feels like they are there for the paycheck and nothing else.

Overall, A disappointing waste.

1.5/5

Pros.

It is unintentionally funny

It is relatively short

Cons.

It is a worse version of a classic

The few new changes make it inferior

The songs are awful

The voice actors clearly don’t care

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover: Netflix Throws Another Book On The Bonfire

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another classic work of British literature is given the Netflix treatment and soiled.

Netflix and for that matter most non-British production studios just can’t ever seem to get right the very British sentiment behind these books, be it this or the works of Jane Austen, the themes and ideas that in many senses are timeless. So what do they do instead? They do what all hacks do they modernise, they take something timeless and they date it in the current year, they make yet another Bridgeton which some people like sure but that is also a million miles away from the spirit of the text.

The central romance, if you can call it that, is incredibly stunted and at times just plain awkward, it is fairly clear neither of the leads have any chemistry with the other, or even seem to like each other, and all of the forced romance scenes comes across as incredibly cold, emotionless and a little silly. I would say of the two Emma Corin has the far worse showing, with this and My Policeman really starting to make me question how they were ever able to get into acting in the first place as they clearly lack talent. A rich parent is probably the answer.

Overall, Netflix needs to realise that they can only push their Bridgeton esque pap so far.

1/5

Pros.

I’m struggling

Cons.

It doesn’t understand the spirit of the text at all

The romance is awkward and cringe

The leads have no chemistry

It is boring and a slog to watch

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Slumberland: Hanging Out With A Pet Pig

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After losing her dad, played by Kyle Chandler, Nemo, played by Marko Barkley, ventures into a world of dreams and nightmares in order to see him one last time.

I think the strengths of this film lie on the shoulders of Jason Mamoa and Chris O’Dowd, Mamoa for his effortlessly charming nature and surprisingly endearing turn and O’Dowd for just how much human realness he brings to his role as a guy suddenly forced into being a father. Of the two I would probably give it to O’Dowd as I think a few of his scenes where he is opening up emotionally with Nemo are quite powerful, as is the ending when he is racing to save her.

In terms of wider fantasy, the film has a few interesting set pieces but is mostly by the numbers. There is nothing that you won’t have seen done before especially if you are a fan of the genre. However, I did appreciate the gothic sense of style this film has which is almost certainly a by product of its source material, there is something very ancient and other worldly about this film, especially as it rarely features smart phones.

Overall, a surprisingly good Netflix film with some strong performances

O’Dowd

Mamoa

The heart

The gothic sensibilities

Cons.

It is nothing new

The CGI is a little patchy in places

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Christmas On Mistletoe Farm: You Deserve Better Than This

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A businessman, played by Scott Garnham, must take over the reigns of his father’s farm. Hijinks ensue.

I must say I have seen a lot of terrible Christmas films in my time but this has to be one of the worst I have ever seen, why Netflix ever decided to greenlight this is beyond me.

This film proves fairly conclusively that Debbie Isitt is a hack, or at best a one trick pony. She uses the exact same formula she did on Nativity, a no nonsense lead that needs to learn to cut loose, a stupid and loud sidekick that acts more like a child than a grown man and a large grouping of children who struggle to act. Whilst this worked for the first Nativity and just about managed to for the second, thanks in large part to David Tennant, here it just feels incredibly obvious and lazy, clearly she doesn’t have enough imagination to come up with a different premise and can only move the location of her tale around to pretend to be different.

Moreover, this film is a slog to get through. The pace of this film is awful, not only does it approach two hours, despite having no business to, it also meanders along at such a mind numbing pace that you question whether this is some new form of incredibly insidious torture designed to drive you mad. Nothing much happens across the whole of the film, because once again to be exciting and to have things happen would take imagination and writing ability that clearly the team behind this don’t have.

Overall, offensively slow and uninteresting

Pros.

It would be a good film to put on as you are falling to sleep for some background noise

Cons.

It is borderline unwatchable

It is a slog to get through and feels like a trail fit for the Ancient world

It is the same situations and characters as in Nativity only worse

There is very little at all to like about it

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Christmas With You: A Sleazey Christmas Message

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A famous singer, played by Andi Garcia, decides to spend Christmas with a fan, played by Deja Monique Cruz, whose TikTok video she likes, and whilst she is there she also decides to hook up with the fan’s dad, played by Freddie Prinze Jr.

Honestly, I just thought this was fairly boring, it wasn’t so bad it was good nor was it redeemable or even enjoyable in any way. As I approached the two thirds mark I was checking to see how long was left which highlights how much of a slog this film is to get through, it is really just aggressively average.

The worst thing about this film is just how little chemistry the two leads have, there is a moment in the final few minutes of the film where they have their big first kiss of the film and it couldn’t be more cold if they were trying for it.

Moreover, there is inherently something a bit icky about a star coming to spent time with her teen fan and then hooking up with her dad and becoming her new stepmother. I don’t know it struck a weird and not wanted chord with me.

Overall, a deeply meh Christmas film that you can easily give a miss.

Pros.

It is watchable

It does have some unintentional humour

It is nice to see Freddie Prinze Jr back on screens again

Cons.

It is boring and a slog to watch

The premise is a bit icky

The leads have no chemistry at all

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