• A Christmas Carol

    A Christmas Carol

    ★★½

    For a story all about emotional and ideological transformation, I'm confused by how stifled this adaptation is. It's as if Zemeckis wanted to stay loyal to the source material but also give it a bombastic update which results in a lot of tonal whiplash and a lack of resonance. Every genuinely atmospheric or creepy moment is undercut by something excessively ludicrous or goofy, to the point where you're left wondering who this is even aimed at. I don't know anyone…

  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

    ★★★½

    Although overly simplistic, this is an enjoyably spirited musical from Howard Hawks. He crafts the right playful tone for the material which is assisted by the catchy songs and beautiful technicolor photography. Marilyn Monroe is typically endearing and Jane Russell gives an amusingly sardonic performance; they make an effortlessly charming duo and keep things rolling along smoothly.

  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ★★★½

    There is plenty to admire here from the gorgeous cinematography to Chazelle's free-flowing direction to the well-integrated use of music, but I just can't find that emotional connection La La Land is so clearly striving for in order to take it to the next level. I do like this narrative as a bittersweet portrayal of two artists struggling to reach their potential playing out as a golden age musical homage with the dreamy tone, striking colours and appealing songs. Ryan…

  • Dog Day Afternoon

    Dog Day Afternoon

    ★★★★★

    There is an authenticity to Dog Day Afternoon that is usually very difficult to capture. Sidney Lumet's documentary style direction, the confined setting, the distinctive characters, the naturalistic dialogue and the stark absence of non-diegetic music all merge to convincingly convey such a mood. Like all truly great films it also feels as relevant as ever. It deftly touches on themes of economic inequality, police brutality, media frenzy and gender identity throughout the central conflict; a conflict which moves from…

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    ★½

    I'll give props to Jim Carrey whose witty delivery and boundless energy makes a small amount of this work, but my word is this an unpleasant experience overall. The grimy colours, the obnoxious camera angles, the drab production design, the gloomy tone; it all combines to make this feel less like a fun festive film and more like an unnerving fever dream after you've drank too much eggnog.

    Expanding the source material doesn't work as it results in the addition…

  • Forrest Gump

    Forrest Gump

    ★½

    The more I scrutinise Forrest Gump, the more I find myself totally perplexed by what it is trying to achieve.

    It is both monotonous and insipid. Forrest luckily stumbles into something he can mindlessly do, becomes successful, meets some famous people and reunites with Jenny who runs away after a short period. Rinse and repeat throughout the entire film. It's no wonder this appeals to boomers so much, it's effectively an empty guide to the United States in the late…

  • Sound of Metal

    Sound of Metal

    ★★★

    Very impressed by the sound design here, the striking use of noise and different tones really helps to create an immersive atmosphere that effectively communicates the feelings of the main character. I also think Riz Ahmed stands out with a restrained performance that never falls into histrionics as it so easily could have. He brings a believability to proceedings that helps ground the entire film.

    However, this is held back by how formulaic it is. The story goes exactly where…

  • The Apartment

    The Apartment

    ★★★★★

    The way in which The Apartment so deftly walks the line between comedy and drama simply astounds me; so ingeniously witty as it deals with loneliness, heartbreak and suicide ideation in such a poignant manner. As you'd expect with Billy Wilder the detail on display is marvellous. The small moments of great importance, the brilliant reoccuring jokes, the sharp dialouge that flows wonderfully, the tenderness of the romance and the characters whose struggles are depicted in such a compelling style.…

  • Some Like It Hot

    Some Like It Hot

    ★★★★★

    Always a joyous experience. So much works faultlessly; the plotting, characters, dialogue, pacing and the jokes which constantly land as intended. Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Joe E. Brown and especially Jack Lemmon (whose delivery and expressions are comedy perfection) are all outstanding.

    This might well be the finest example of Billy Wilder's comedic expertise.

  • Mank

    Mank

    ★★½

    It pains me that a film by David Fincher could leave me feeling so indifferent. Mank gets by solely on its technical proficiency; the direction, photography, score and acting are all as good as you'd expect. The writing is where it really struggles because very little of it works as intended. The flashback structure undercuts momentum, the overlapping dialogue is stilted and the attempts to examine the studio politics of the time feel half-baked. It's not really about the writing…

  • Frozen II

    Frozen II

    ★★

    Frozen II is yet another belated sequel that struggles to justify its existence. It has some positives as the animation is beautiful, the songs are catchy and I will give it props that it builds on the world that was previously established.

    However, the narrative structure is messy and so much of the storytelling involves bland fantasy rigmarole that gets tiresome quickly. Elsa is the only character to get any development as everyone else is reduced to one trait only…

  • Burning

    Burning

    ★★★★½

    A deeply ambiguous, multi-layered mystery whose languid pacing creates an eerie atmosphere that never lets up. There is a ton to unravel here, from the class and societal divisions represented by the principal characters to the central disappearance which walks the line of uncertainty just right. Really impressed by Lee Chang-dong's measured directing, the gorgeous cinematography and the outstanding performances of the three lead actors.

    Definitely a film that stays with you and demands further inspection.