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I can't tell you how long I have been waiting to take my two-year-old son on his first trip to the cinema. Well, actually, I suppose I can. It's been two years. Obviously. But that wait finally came to an end with this movie, one which I thought might be an appropriate introduction to the big screen for him because a) it's about singing cartoon characters, and b) it wasn't written by Seth Rogen. Of course, I was still fully prepared for failure. Expecting a toddler to stay still and quiet in a chair surrounded by strangers for nearly two hours? Surely impossible. And yet, that's exactly what he did, while fixated
on the movie. So whatever I say in this review from now on, know that my son – easily closer in age to the target demographic than I – rates it 10 out of 10 choo-choo trains or whatever.
Please let's not ruin this. We have a great thing here: La La Land is the rare kind of spellbinding, wonderful film that has reviewers like me tripping over themselves to find new superlatives for describing it. It's simply flawless. But that means that there'll be an unholy inclination by some #hot-takers to put it down; to chip away at the film's perfect sheen just to say something "interesting". But can we just not, this time? Can't we just have this one? Don't we deserve to enjoy something this sweet and pure and lovely just for once? It certainly feels like it's been a while.
For all the criticism aimed at Marvel, the thought of a 1-star or 2-star MCU movie these days just seems like an impossibility, and you'd like to think that we could expect the same for all forthcoming Star Wars instalments. Surely there are just too many talented stakeholders invested in the process to allow for any major misfires? And yet, there are valid reasons to fear for Rogue One: it's the first standalone spin-off, consisting of almost entirely new characters; director Gareth Edwards still has much to prove; rumours around the reshoots weren't kind; and of course the recent memory of the prequels is still hanging around like a clingy, irritating Gungan. So does Rogue One give us reason to believe that Star Wars will now always be in safe hands? Or is it just another hollow, unmemorable blockbuster facsimile? Is it a new hope, or just the latest attack of a clone?
Can you separate the art from the artist? Is it fair that a film with high hopes of awards potential is now being overlooked because of behind-the-scenes controversy? And should we let a 1999 rape charge brought against filmmaker and star Nate Parker affect how we view his depiction of rape in this film? One thing's for sure, film reviewers everywhere are grateful for being handed an easy opening paragraph before never mentioning the ethical dilemma again for the rest of the review because it's all a bit (*sharp intake of breath*)
Critics are already calling it "Inception meets Space Jam".
There is a terrifying truth presented in Snowden, and I don't mean one of the obvious ones about misuse of power or unlawful global surveillance. It's one that comes early in the film and is only hinted at, but it is confirmation of a deep, dark, universal suspicion: that the incompetency you see in some of your work colleagues is a common problem that exists all the way up to the top. Like when Patrick from Legal doesn't process your request because he doesn't know the difference between an Excel spreadsheet and a Google doc. That kind of thing could very feasibly still happen at a top government level. Goddamn you, Patrick. Goddamn you, all the Patricks.
At a time when every superhero, toy, 80s cartoon character, board game and emoji are fighting for enough space at the box office to create their own movie 'universe', J.K. Rowling's work is already done. Her wizarding world of Harry Potter is well established and still ripe for further exploration, which is pretty much the perfect environment in which to churn out money-making tie-in movies of lesser returns. And yet, instead, a far greater challenge has been undertaken: birthing an entirely new franchise of films set within the same universe. Somehow, audiences are going to have to get invested in a new story that - we can assume - will never be as important as the one we have already seen. So those beasts had better be pretty bloody fantastic.
When a film is deliberately
trying to outrage, does that make it more acceptable? Is bad taste really just a matter of taste? Is it problematic that the IMDB Parents Guide for Bad Santa 2 lists warnings for violence, alcohol/drugs/smoking, frightening/intense scenes and sex & nudity (“There are close-ups of genitalia featured, but they are contextually justified”), but says nothing about the overtones of misogyny, racism and whatever you call being rude about little people? Surely it’s this kind of selective oversight that makes this a world in which Trump can become president. (*evacuates the area from the topical bombshell he just dropped*)
Adding itself to the long list of films that are about the least dynamic occupations known to man - alongside The Postman and The Constant Gardener - The Accountant belies the real nature of the job by having a musclebound, autistic Ben Affleck punch and shoot people in his spare time. We all know, however, that accountants are only good for trawling through an overly complicated mess of information to try to simplify everything and make sense of it all. Which is, coincidentally, exactly the kind of accountant that this film really needed.
I still maintain that the first Jack Reacher
is a decent action film, and one that has fun with tropes and clichés of the genre. Obviously, not everyone agrees with me
, but I think ultimately I've been proved right
. And in that sense, the original controversy surrounding Tom Cruise’s casting as Reacher didn’t make sense to me. As I’m not beholden to the source material in any way, Cruise seemed perfect as the all-star action guy with the charm and wit to carry through the self-aware humour. But, as there’s none of that here, this might just be the first instance of an actor being miscast in his own sequel.