The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – Everything Is Almost Awesome

Released: 28th February
Seen: 10th March

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In 2014, the movie The Lego Movie came out and shocked everyone. Sure, Lego had released parody movies before straight to DVD and had little joke sketches made but a full-length original feature-length film that was just generally about Lego? That sounded like it was destined for disaster. And yet, stunningly, it wasn’t. The Lego Movie fast became a monster hit, the 5th highest grossing film of 2014, it got an Oscar nomination for the deliriously catchy song “Everything Is Awesome”, a song so catchy that me typing that sentence has forced that song back into the heads of everyone who heard it. It also managed to surprise everyone with an emotional story about someone’s imagination being restrained by the attitude of their distant father. It’s genuinely one of the greatest animated films of the last decade and I will gleefully die upon this hill… so, when they announced that there was a sequel coming out, I was incredibly nervous because there aren’t exactly many sequels to great animated films that are as good as the original. Lucky me then that The Lego Movie series just enjoys surprising me with how good it actually is.

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Isn’t It Romantic (2019) – Heartwarming or Heartburn?

Released: 28th February
Seen: 5th March

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This review was going to start with a paragraph that would try to discuss the concept of postmodernism, originally I would go through the concept and throw out a few assorted examples like Duchamp’s “Fountain” or the movie Scream and then create this elaborate explanation about how it’s self-critical and how no one understands it. This is how a lot of my reviews begin, a tangential observation about the general concept of the film that is meant to provide context and to have something that appears before the “Read More” text on the main page. This allows me a chance to not only give a point of reference early but to make use of a stupidly expensive degree that I will probably never get to use in any other context… and that, my dear reader, is a postmodern version of the opening paragraph to a movie that clearly is trying to be a postmodern critique of romantic comedies.

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Stan & Ollie (2019) – Well, here’s another nice movie you’ve gotten me into!

Released: 21st February
Seen: 21st February

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When you look back through the history of cinema there are only a few performers who can truly be considered icons. One of the biggest icons in the history of cinema is Laurel & Hardy, a comedy duo who made over 100 films together over the course of about two decades where they basically were the biggest names in comedy. Their partnership started almost by accident, the two of them were part of the old Hollywood system that signed people up to contracts that kept them working for years and turned them into one of the most iconic duos in history. It was almost inevitable that some portion of their lives was going to be turned into a biopic, as it seems Hollywood loves to tell stories about itself. Of all the stories that could’ve been told, the one they picked was absolutely perfect.

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What Men Want (2019) – This Man Wants More Of This

Released: 14th February
Seen: 17th February

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In the year 2000, the film What Women Want was released. Starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, the film revolved around an advertising executive who is a bit of a chauvinist… Ok, he’s a lot of a chauvinist and his sexist attitudes get kicked into high gear when a woman is hired to help broaden the firm’s appeal to women. What follows is several hours of Mel’s character not learning anything, not really listening and using the power that he’s been given (through the magic combination of lipstick, panties and electrocution) in order to maintain his spot at the top of the food chain. He will at one point use this power to stop a woman from committing suicide in a series of tonal whiplash scenes that this movie doesn’t handle well, but for the most part he uses it to maintain his status at the top. To make my opinion on the original even clearer than it is, I didn’t like it very much. I didn’t find it to be a good use of the concept that it was gifted and it definitely didn’t age well. So, when I heard that there was a gender-flipped remake coming out I can’t pretend that I wasn’t nervous about it… fortunately, my nerves were not needed.

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Green Book (2019) – It’s Not Easy

Released: 24th January
Seen: 30th January

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When it comes to topics that will spark an intense conversation about a movie, there is none quite as fraught as the delicate subject of race. It’s a subject that must be handled with care because the fact of the matter is that when trying to explore the history of racism in a movie, you can run the risk of accidentally making things worse in your attempt to explore it. I’m certain, for example, that the filmmakers behind Crash had the best of intentions when making their film regarding racism and were clearly trying to explore what causes it. At the time the film was given critical praise and a Best Picture Oscar… now we look back on it as a poorly executed film that is all surface and no depth. Even the people who gave it the award now look back and say “Oh damn, we should’ve given it to the one with the Cowboys”. To quote Ta-Nehisi Coates article ‘Worst Movie Of The Decade‘ from The Atlantic:

“I don’t think there’s a single human being in Crash. Instead, you have arguments and propaganda violently bumping into each other, impressed with their own quirkiness.”

For the record, I only know this quote because of Lindsay Ellis’ fantastic video essay on the movie Bright, another film that brought up racial issues without thinking them through for more than about 15 seconds. The point is that this is a very tough topic to talk about and I want to address this difficulty at the top because I’m aware of how important this is and how, as a white person, I’m probably the last guy who should be talking on this topic… HOWEVER it’s an element of the film I saw, I talk about films I see here, so it would be pretty weird if I didn’t address it in some way. I encourage you to seek out reviews of this movie by people of colour who can undoubtedly address this topic better than I can, but since you’re here let me fill you in on my thoughts about this movie.

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The Favourite (2018)- She’s A Killer Queen

Released: 26th December 2018
Seen: 14th January

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There’s something about historical comedy that has always fascinated me, ever since I first saw an episode of Blackadder II and saw an exaggerated rendition of Queen Elizabeth the first. It was truly a masterpiece, the visual style of a historical drama with joke after joke thrown in for good measure created a contrast in ideas that I hadn’t imagined before. This interest carried over to movies, such as last years The Death Of Stalin, which have been able to blend history with a sense of wit and ups the production values to the point where a film can look like a historical epic but have some of the funniest dialogue put on screen. With a film like The Favourite, we not only get to enjoy another comedic interpretation of a Queen but, once again, we mix elements of a biopic and a comedy to get something that can be genuinely fun… most of the time.

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Instant Family (2019) – Just Add Water

Released: 10th Janurary
Seen: 10th January

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The phrase “based on a true story” is little more than a marketing gimmick nowadays. Sometimes a film might actually be inspired by a real event that really happened but, a lot of the time, it’s either just an outright lie or it’s a meaningless way to try and add gravitas to a story that any writer of a lifetime movie could’ve thought up. Now that’s not to say this particular story didn’t happen, indeed all reports say that it’s based on the directors own experience going through the foster care system… but I swear I saw this exact same storyline in a movie I saw in the afternoon on the TV back in the 90s so it feels a little pointless to try and hang a “Based on a true story” banner over this good, albeit-generic, family film

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