Chris has written 6 reviews for films rated ★★ during 2021.

  • Suicide Club

    Suicide Club

    ★★

    The core concept here is an interesting one, bringing together various genre elements to form a dark satire on the despondency affecting young people in modern-day Japan and the nefarious influence that omnipresent pop culture can have on their psyche. The startling opening sequence alone presents numerous avenues to explore, so it's unfortunate that the promise this material offers is never fully realised.

    Where it stumbles most is that it doesn't quite work as either a horror film or a…

  • Rebel Without a Cause

    Rebel Without a Cause

    ★★

    Sorry to say it but this is one of the classics that I think is rather weak overall. There's no denying the natural magnetism of James Dean and he convincingly depicts his character's struggles, but nothing else leaves much of an impact.

    It attempts to capture that excessively emotional phase of adolescence where small issues seem gargantuan, wayward feelings are natural and generational discontent is escalating but leans so heavily into bland melodrama that it can't offer the cutting insights…

  • I Care a Lot

    I Care a Lot

    ★★

    Despite Rosamund Pike's spot on portrayal of a stone cold sociopath, I found this vibrant blending of crime thriller and black comedy to be extremely unfocused. For all it's attempting to do it ends up landing in a prosaic middle ground; the decided lack of depth, wit and darkness means it doesn't leave much of an impression. I do like how energetic it is thanks to the snappy editing and spirited direction, while the performances are all good with Pike…

  • Promising Young Woman

    Promising Young Woman

    ★★

    Carey Mulligan gives a typically excellent performance but I haven't a clue what the film around her is trying to achieve. A revenge thriller without the thrills, a satire that lacks any astuteness, a character study which offers barely any insight; it's striving for some kind of pathos but the whole thing feels superficial. It's just throwing out vague statements without bothering to examine them; deep down all men are degenerates, grief is a burden, the police are absolutely useless…

  • Motherless Brooklyn

    Motherless Brooklyn

    ★★

    For a noir mystery I'm surpised by how devoid of personality this is. It's not dark or complex or even comedic, it's just middle-of-the-road banality. There's so much potential to make this story visually interesting and instead it's shot like a made for TV movie (even more baffling when you have Dick Pope as cinematographer); the extremely smooth visual style does not suit the material at all, whilst the compositions and editing are decidedly insipid. There is an engaging premise…

  • Babyteeth

    Babyteeth

    ★★

    Tries to be naturalistic, heartfelt and broadly quirky all at once which results in it feeling like a hodgepodge of random scenes instead of a coherent narrative. It often seems to be solely concerned with ticking off the young adult genre checklist; we get the ill main character, oddball romantic interest, troubled parents, totally unnecessary title cards, whimsical use of music and absurd situations. The performances are all good and the visuals are appealing, but the lack of dramatic heft and dearth of effective humour means it doesn't really work.