Chris has written 6 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2020.

  • 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…

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    ★★★½

    The first entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean series works for two main reasons. Firstly, the tonal balance. The swashbuckling hijinks are interlaced with fun character interactions, dark mythology and well executed comedy. Secondly, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. The character is like the intoxicated pirate version of Groucho Marx with his wacky antics and lively disposition, bringing both hilarity and unpredictability to proceedings. Depp himself is superb in the role with his witty delivery, exaggerated movements and zany…

  • Scream 2

    Scream 2

    ★★★½

    Though not quite as vibrant and fresh as the original film, this is still a very solid sequel especially when you consider it's rushed production. Kevin Williamson's script leans even further into metanarrative, frequently parodying the rules of the sequel with clever plot twists and amusing dialogue. Although I don't think the new characters are that memorable, the returning cast all give excellent performances and by this point they clearly understand what makes their characters tick.

    It does stretch it's premise as far as possible, yet it never becomes tedious like so many horror sequels do.

  • Dracula

    Dracula

    ★★★½

    I'll always have a fondness for this film given my grandfather was a big Hammer fan and this was one used to educate (as well as terrify) me on the horror genre as a child.

    As far as takes on the classic novel go this is a solid effort. It is overly condensed and a lot is changed (Dracula's castle is in Carlsbad, Harker is aware of vampirism, character roles are swapped or altered). Yet, like most Hammer films of…

  • North by Northwest

    North by Northwest

    ★★★½

    North by Northwest consciously feels like Hitchcock simply trying to have fun between the darkness of Vertigo and Psycho. It's carefree tone, big action set-pieces and amusing dialogue suggest this was a direct response to the reception of the former film. It is the archetypal of the wrong man genre, and it's influence on the James Bond series and future spy films is clear to see. Both Cary Grant and James Mason are ideally cast making the most of their…