Steve McQueen: The Lost Movie (2021) – Fascinating Piece Of Forgotten Cinema

Released: 2nd January
Seen: 2nd January

In the 1960s, one of the coolest movie stars on the planet was Steve McQueen. Star of classics like The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven, he was an icon who combined his love of acting with his other passion, F1 Racing. One of the things he was most known for was that love of driving, often doing his own stunt driving in any film he was permitted to. His love of driving was so great that he pushed to make one of the biggest racing movies of all time, a film that would become one of the most legendary unfinished films in history.

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The Minimalists: Less is Now (2021) – Minimally Good

Released: 1st January
Seen: 2nd January

When I think about minimalism, I tend to think about it in conjunction with the art world. My brain instantly goes to works by the minimalists like Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire, which is a 5-metre high painting of two dark blue lines with a bold red line right in the middle. Well, it turns out that minimalism is also a lifestyle movement now which basically means to have nothing in your home that you don’t have an actual use for (so bye-bye to that Funko Pop collection).

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Best Performances of 2020

2020 has been the year of never ending badness, that would be the mildest statement one could make about this year. In general, it’s been a total shitshow with very few moments of happiness… so this year seems like a perfect time to start a new tradition on this blog, because why the hell not? It means I have fresh New Year’s content and that’s always nice to have fresh content so this is me saying what I felt the best performances of the year were.

Well, I say “Best” but much like with the best films of the year list, ‘BEST” in this context really means “Performances that I liked the most”. Maybe they weren’t in the best films, some of them might actually be in pretty bad films, but they’re the kind of performances that make you want to watch any film… and this is a top 20, because it’s my blog and I can do that sort of thing!

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The Top Ten Worst Films of 2020

2020 has been the dumpster fire of years. Hell, calling it a dumpster fire almost feels like a compliment, at least a dumpster fire provides warmth and gets rid of garbage. The best thing we can say about 2020 is that Parasite won best picture during it and America decided to get rid of 239 pounds of fascist (I’m sorry, that was mean… he is much fatter than 239, which I’d like to remind everyone is the number that Simpson’s writers picked in order to set up the joke “You’re the fattest thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve been on safari”). Other than that, hundreds of thousands died from a disease that no one had ever seen before and the world shut down almost completely. It’s been a genuinely awful year that we will never forget even though we all want to. 

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Best List 2020

The Top Ten Best Films of 2020

Honestly, this year I almost didn’t make the best list. For months it felt like I would be pushing it and scraping the bottom of the barrel to force 10 titles to appear on the list, every seemingly great film has been moved to 2021 and what was left for the 2020 audience felt more like the kind of stuff that’d be filler in any other year. 2020 has been one of those years where it felt like finding the positives was impossible, we spent months inside and watched countries battle against fascism. If you were to ask what the highlights of the year were, most would probably say “Uh… Parasite won best picture” and that would end the list. 

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We Can Be Heroes (2020) – Just For One Day

Released: 25th December
Seen: 31st December

Robert Rodriguez is one of the most fascinating filmmakers of our time. Known as the one-man film crew, he’s got a reputation for doing everything on set. Not only directing and writing, we’re talking handling the editing and cinematography and score of his films, he’ll even carry the damn Steadicam if that’s what he has to do to get the job done. He’s also very well known for working with a limited budget, preferring to come up with creative solutions to his problems rather than just throw money at it. He’s the kind of director who you always look out for because no matter what he makes, you can guarantee that it’ll be interesting in some way. Well, now Netflix has decided to get this filmmaker on their payroll and let him have some fun and god I hope this is the first of many Netflix funded Rodriguez films to come because the man knows how to make a fun family film, which is the quick description of We Can Be Heroes.

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Mank (2020) – It’s His Sled!

Released: 4th December
Seen: 28th December

Mank Info

When it comes to movies and their quality, there are no real definitive answers. A film that I love is one that you may hate and vice versa… there is, of course, an exception to this statement. Namely, if you answer “What is the greatest movie of all time” with any movie other than “Citizen Kane”, you are factually inaccurate in the eyes of everyone who would bother to ask that question and will probably be stoned in the streets. 

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Death to 2020 (2020) – KILL IT WITH FIRE

Released: 27th December
Seen: 27th December

2020… this year can hurry up and die at any moment. Seriously, the actual year itself could just fall over, scream “Help, I can’t get up” and we can all just kick it to death. Here’s how awful this year was, Charlie Brooker decided to not bother doing a season of his depression porno Black Mirror (which is one of the best shows with one of the best pilots, more pilots should include world leaders having sex with farm animals) because he didn’t want to make us feel even worse. Instead he decided to make a mockumentary titled Death to 2020, very much in the style of his Wipe series where he would comment on the major events of the year and god it feels cathartic to see the year getting the punching it deserves.

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Palm Springs (2020) – Repetitively Sweet

Released: 17th December
Seen: 26th December

Palm Springs Info

“It’s Groundhog Day, except…” is a fairly easy way of describing most movies that feature a time loop situation, it tells everyone exactly what to expect right off the bat. For example, Happy Death Day is “It’s Groundhog Day, except there’s a killer on the loose”. Well, when it comes to describing the oddly relaxing Palm Springs, one could quite easily say “It’s Groundhog Day…. with a pool”. 

Palm Springs takes place during a wedding at the titular Palm Springs where a boyfriend of one of the wedding guests, Nyles (Andy Samberg) ends up taking over a speech being given by Sarah Wilder (Cristin Milloti), saving her from drunken embarrassment. They end up sneaking away and going on a stroll together, having a good night out under the stars… when suddenly a man with a bow and arrow shoots Nyles who crawls his way into a nearby cave with a weird glowing light in it. Sarah follows him in there and the next thing she knows she’s waking up in her bed. Turns out that Nyles has been in a time loop for a while and the loop was caused by the weird light in the cave, so now Sarah and Nyles both have to just deal with living in a perpetual loop while trying to figure out how to end it.

Now, by the mention of a man with a bow and arrow you might assume that Palm Springs is kind of a Happy Death Day situation where they have to figure out who keeps trying to kill Nyles but no, no we learn quickly that it’s just a guy called Roy (J.K. Simmons) who also ended up in the loop and is just pissed at Nyles. In fact, truth be told, for most of the film there is no real antagonist or even plot, it’s just a pair of people who try to learn how to live through the same day over and over again until the final act when someone remembers “Oh shit, we need an ending” and they hurriedly come up with a way to put things right. It’s all very chill and relaxed and honestly, I kinda love it for that.

The repeated days are all very basic, the main characters don’t have to really repeat the same actions and since they spend most of the film away from everyone else it allows them time to grow without, oddly enough, getting repetitious. Watching this strange little relationship between Nyles and Sarah is the core of the film, a strange romance born out of being the only people (besides Roy) who are in this loop. Throughout the loops they learn more and more about each other and fall in love in a sweet albeit dorky way.

Palm Springs is a very simple little film, the most elaborate moments it has are when Roy turns up to have a moment of revenge on Nyles but he barely turns up, maybe two or three times at the most to be an actual threat to the main characters but outside that he’s not in the film as much as he could be. The film focuses, quite rightly, on where the emotional centre of the film is. Slowly it reveals more and more of the characters and of some of the family members around them (one particular revelation is brilliantly handled, not to spoil it but it does involve Sarah and happens about 2/3rds of the way through the film) and does so with easy charm.

Palm Springs is that kind of film that’s easy to watch but hard to talk about because it’s just really good. It doesn’t shoot too far, it knows its limits, it goes for being a good fun romcom and absolutely succeeds at that. Could I have used a little more Roy? Sure, hell you paid to have J.K. Simmons so why not use him? Could I have enjoyed a few more gutbuster lines? Sure, I mean the film was funny but could’ve gone further. Did I enjoy the film? Hell yes, it’s a good simple fun film that does what it needs to do to get the job done.

Palm Springs Rating 3.5/5