It (2017) (Andy Muschietti)
More violent and profanity-filled compared to the 1990 TV mini-series. Bill Skarsgård is good although I find Tim Curry’s performance creepier. Surprisingly and maybe unintentionally, the bully with the mullet, Beverly’s dad, and the hypochondriac boy’s mum are scarier than Pennywise. In fact, the clown was only scary the first time I saw him in the iconic scene with the boy in the yellow rain coat. After that, it’s just more of the same from Pennywise. The kids were, like the mini-series, believable as friends. The story is effective enough that could have been a coming of age drama without any supernatural elements.
It Chapter Two (2019) (Andy Muschietti)
Chapter 2 (in cinemas now) goes for a comedic horror approach and isn’t as scary as the 2017 film. Tonally a bit all over the place. I was never bored during the almost 3 hour running time, but lacked the sustained charm and cohesion of chapter 1. The story works better with children going on the adventure, it feels implausible (in both the 1990 mini-series and the 2019 film) that grown-ups are doing these things. The aspect that the group’s memories have faded since leaving town is interesting but not explored enough. The opening sequence is quite horrific and (as another reviewer wrote) actually has you hoping Pennywise will show up and deal with the situation.
An improvement on part 2 of the mini-series in terms of performances. But the only scare (aside from the aforementioned first scene) for me was when the girl goes under the seating during the baseball game, and she was not even an important character, and neither were those people in the opening. Stops being frightening when you know what to expect around the corner. My favorite moment had nothing to do with the plot when the camera zooms into a jigsaw puzzle. I imagine Stephen King’s novel left more mystery to the imagination as CGI monsters have little to no effect on me. I wish some of these special effects had been left on the cutting room floor, and instead the filmmakers had given a higher priority to character interactions. There’s an obvious cameo in the used goods shop while Brandon Crane from the 1990 mini-series makes a brief appearance at a company meeting, and Peter Bogdanovich plays a director on a film set. To sum up, entertaining and well paced for such a long movie, and with a few emotional moments, but unfortunately the scares are lacking.
Despicable Me (2010)
Should have watched it sooner. Funny, sweet, and imaginative. Suitable for all ages and with memorable characters. The songs don’t overpower the entertaining story though you have to suspend your disbelief at times, as the rocket building, for instance, was unrealistic. The scene with the puppet book may make you cry. Has since been turned into a trilogy, plus a spin-off movie involving the minions.
In Fabric (2018) (Peter Strickland)
Recommended by dbmoviesblog. A visually-driven UK horror about a red dress, and similar to the director’s neo-giallo Berberian Sound Studio (2012) it looks and sounds like was made in the 1970s. I was into the atmosphere and dream-like strangeness. The female sales assistant in the clothing store speaks in a seductive language that fascinated and the story has a way of putting someone under a spell.
The film is in two distinct halves, and bizarrely funny moments are sprinkled throughout. In the first half, a single mother lives with her son who brings a new girlfriend home, while later on a washing machine repair man got more than he bargained for.
My rating is slightly brought down by Strickland’s inability to resist repeating things such as the same hilarious joke 3-4 times in the space of 30 minutes.
Overall, a bit too much repetition, but I loved being in this world, and loved that Strickland withholds information and doesn’t force-feed you the answers. Definitely a movie to watch when it’s dark outside.
Mark Kermode described In Fabric as a “consumerist satire”, comparing it to TV-movie I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990) which is based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1937 novella of the same name.
The Best Offer (2013) (Giuseppe Tornatore)
Won several awards in its native Italy. By the director of Cinema Paradiso (1988). Beautiful score by Morricone and impressive set designs. The characters and Hitchcockian mystery were compelling. Geoffrey Rush is good as the art auctioneer even if the age gap between him and the woman was uncomfortable. The twist is clever but makes me like the story less. The anxiety/phobia theme was handled well though kind of got brushed aside by the time we reach the finale. While has been accused for being predictable, I didn’t have that experience at all.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) (Arthur Hiller)
Finally a comedy that doesn’t just try to be funny but actually is funny, particularly during the first hour. It helps you get to care about them. The last third is not as effective but I want to watch the duos other comedies.
Booksmart (2019) (Olivia Wilde)
The movie has nothing to do with books. In fact it’s about freeing yourself from bookish things. A buzzed about coming of age comedy but it’s a bit overhyped. The two leads have good chemistry and it’s progressive for the LGBT aspect but I didn’t find it funny aside from the panda joke. They were annoying to listen to for an entire movie. Of the supporting characters, many were underwritten, the most interesting of them was the rich outsider guy with the flashy car.
The soundtrack is sporadically effective, especially Oh Baby by LCD Soundsystem when she is walking home from the party, the cover of Unchained Melody by Lykke Li during a sad moment, and the karaoke scene with Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know.
Ser du månen, Daniel (2019) (Niels Arden Oplev)
By the director of the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). Impactful story of the kidnapping of a Danish photographer by terrorists in Syria. Based on a true story, so you can’t really knock it for being predictable. One of those movies where you think thank god my family is safe and our problems are trivial compared to the horrors going on in other places in the world. Told as a thriller so never dull, yet a painful ordeal and made me feel worse off than before. So I can’t recommend unless you are particularly interested in terrorism. Asks the question if handing over ransom money is an option as you are funding the terrorism, and if the Danish state ought to change its firm policy regarding paying ransoms. There were definitely tears among the audience.
Queen: Days of Our Lives (2011) (documentary) (Matt O’Casey)
By the numbers documentary covering Queen’s career and hits. Watchable but didn’t tell me much new. I didn’t know Death on Two Legs, the opener on A Night at the Opera, is about them being screwed over financially by the record company.
Evelyn (2018) (documentary) (Orlando von Einsiedel) (Netflix)
By Oscar-nominated filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel (Virunga, The White Helmets). A brave and personal documentary with the director and his family opening up about a suicide of a loved one. A memoir of who Evelyn was, family and friend dynamics, and what led him to take his life. Very sad, and therapeutic for them to go on this walk in the UK together, however also rips up in old wounds. If you have been in a similar situation could help you deal with the healing. I haven’t experienced these emotions, and found the film slow and only occasionally involving, such as the ice cream van scene, the black friend breaking down, and the moving poem. The family/friends cared about Evelyn deeply in the way we all want to be loved and I see it as an anti-suicide film that shows the years of hurt and uncertainty that are inflicted on those left behind. Yet you could question the ethics of sharing Evelyn’s personal information such as reading his suicide note aloud as the guy is not here to approve the content. An important film and mostly avoids becoming esoteric but failed to hold my full attention and the substance was too clichéd. Didn’t reveal enough about Evelyn to really make me invested in his story, only hinting at who he was. A lot of crying by the relatives.
What do you think? As always, comments are welcome