2015 In Review

Notables

The Surprise - Furious 7 (James Wan)

What we said at the time: 'The Fast… movies will always be bombastic B movies that make little sense but in Fast & Furious 7 the film makers have managed to add a heart that is not easily eclipsed by the noise, the dizzying camera angles and the gratuitous booty on show. Out of context of Paul Walker’s passing, this would be an entertaining, if one set piece too long, ride. In context the studio has made a reverential, beautiful (in its own way) and fitting epitaph for its fallen star.'

Why it's here: Crying at a movie is fine. I'm not holding dry eyes up as a sign of masculinity. Crying at a Fast and Furious movie? Find me somebody who thought that was going to be the case at the start of the year I dare you. Universal managed to add subtly and heart to a movie about smashing cars into each other, an astonishing feat. Oh, and that closing shot.... 

Festival Pick - High-Rise (Ben Wheatley)

What we said at the time: 'Wheatley has constructed a wonderful monster in High-Rise and just watching it breathe in and out, spewing rot is a sight to behold. One particularly brutal set-piece in the monolith’s shopping centre is a superb piece of work that brings together the carnage perfectly. And then there is the soundtrack. Never have you witnessed Abba so utterly, brilliantly abused. Portishead’s cover of SOS is magnificent and perfectly reflects the building escalation of the horror within the walls of the building. Taken as its parts, this movie will make you uncomfortable and probably pretty baffled. As a whole though, it’s a vile, spewing, mutated look on the underbelly of civilisation hiding in very plain concrete clad sight.'

Why it's here: Horribly brilliant and brilliantly horrible. Still lacking a trailer or any real online footage, that is the best way to witness Wheatley's latest....

One to Watch - Bel Powley

What we said at the time: Powley is nothing short of a revelation as Minnie. Until now, mostly a veteran of a whole bunch of TV shows in the UK that I’ve never heard of, this movie seems destined to send her flying across the Atlantic to star in just about anything Hollywood cares to put her way. Decked out with an atrocious fringe and a wardrobe full of clothing that must surely have been geeky even in the seventies, her Minnie exudes a kind of cool awkwardness that it’s very hard not to feel envious of....And then there are those eyes. I’m pretty much convinced that you could watch the entire of this movie with every other part of Powley redacted, including her speech and you would still cop a huge lump of the emotional impact in those eyes. They should create a BAFTA category for eye acting.

Why she's here: Because her performance in Marielle Heller's wonderful The Diary of a Teenage Girl eclipsed everyone else on screen. Which is no mean feat considering the talent on show. Alexander Skarsgård and Kirsten Wiig are great but it's Powley's down to earth and wise beyond her years Minnie who steals the show.

The Disappointments

Black Mass (Scott Cooper)

What we said at the time: 'So let’s cut to the chase, Black Mass is a good film. It has a good script, it is well directed, has a fabulous cast and Johnny Depp is just brilliant but you know what?  It’s just ain’t got no swagger.  This is a film that is aligning itself with movies such as The DepartedCarlito’s Way and Goodfellas.  And those films are cool as fuck. Black Mass is just not cool. It’s good but it’s not cool. And that’s kind of a shame.' 

Why it's here: Pretty much defines disappointment really. A decent enough movie really but given the talent on show both in front and behind the camera, this one should have been so much more. Depp is distracting, Cumberbatch a weirdly accented cameo and the whole thing just not exciting enough.

Ted 2 (Seth MacFarlane)

What we said at the time: '[MacFarlane] can produce funny material but has no clue how to line it up into anything coherent. Like a man who knows the beat off by heart but has no understanding of the lyrics, he stumbles around shouting every gag, movie reference and pinched line he can in any order with the hope that some of it ends up being funny. Throw the format out Seth and try to make a movie first and a gag reel second.'

Why it's here: MacFarlane has simply reached the end of his talent here. The heart and coherence of the first movie are completely missing and all we're left with is a obnoxious teddy bear and an even more obnoxious Wahlberg. It's dispiriting, boring and pointlessly offensive. Sigh.

Worst Movie - Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (Tom Harper)

What we said at the time: 'Woman in Black: Angel of Death (the 2 seems to come and go, depending on what you’re looking at), is pretty much a failure on all levels. The characters aren’t developed enough for you to care about their fate, the whole movie is lit too brightly to leave you with any real sense of dread and the wonderfully dressed and isolated Eel Marsh House is left only as a stark reminder of how effective the first movie was and how poor this one is. As bereft of scares as it is of a proper ghostly presence, this should see the burgeoning franchise off nicely. Hammer needs to delve back into its scary toolbox if it is serious about reclaiming its horror throne.'


Why it's here: By no means the worst movie we've ever seen, it's more the bland resignation with which this one goes through the motions that is upsetting. Not one single scare or even tense moment, it's as if not a single person involved had any clue what the word scary meant. Offensive in it's utter dullness.

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