Jojo Rabbit (2019) – Springtime

Released: 26th December
Seen: 30th December

So… the Nazis are back. Do you remember them? God, you probably shouldn’t because we all agreed back around 1945 that Nazi’s sucked and anyone who does anything even remotely Nazi-like was a worthless piece of excrement that we didn’t have to listen to… then the world went freaking insane and now we have Nazis again and they’re out in the open like that’s in any way acceptable. I mean, it’s good that they’re open about it so we can punch them in the face but yeah, Nazis suck and no one should ever want to be one. There’s a controversial political statement, it’s bad that Nazis are still a thing. Maybe the problem was that we weren’t making enough fun of Nazi’s, there’s only so much Mel Brooks could do after all so it’s about time someone else made a movie that not only made fun of how stupid and ugly every single Nazi actually is… but damn it Taika, did you also have to make me cry like a child while you were doing it?

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Cats (2019) – Jellicles Can't

Released: 26th December
Seen: 26th December

In 1939, T.S. Eliot wrote a book titled Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. In it, he wrote a series of poems about… well, cats. The book was beloved by many and would be the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber to create the musical Cats in 1981. That show would go on to be the fourth longest-running show on Broadway, just behind The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and The Lion King. It would also be the 6th longest running show on the West End, behind The Mousetrap, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Woman in Black and Blood Brothers. It’s made billions around the world on the stage and has delighted audiences for years with its story of cats that compete to kill themselves in a magical ritual… and then Tom Hooper managed to get some blackmail photos of a lot of famous people and forced them to appear in his adaptation of the infamously strange musical. That’s the best explanation that I can come up with for why these people turned up. Blackmail and kidnapping, they certainly weren’t there because they wanted to be.

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Marriage Story (2019) – Love And Divorce

Released: 6th December
Seen: 7th December

This year I don’t think I’ve been that kind to Netflix original movies. As I look back, most of the year I’ve called them anywhere between average to awful with very few bright spots on the way. It almost feels like I was picking on them but I probably wasn’t any meaner to them than any other production company, they just happen to be the one where I have to visit a site labelled with their name so it’s easier to associate them with the bad product. I can’t forget that I saw Sextuplets on Netflix, it started with their logo and the only way to see it is to go to their site. Meanwhile A Dog’s Purpose, my worst film of 2017, has associations with Universal, Amblin, DreamWorks and Walden Media and I don’t even think of it as being a movie by any of those companies, I just see a bad movie.

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21 Bridges (2019) – Bridge Over Tepid Water

Released: 27th November
Seen: 4th December

So, fun story, I’ve had several opportunities now to go and see Terminator Dark Fate. I’ve had the time, the screenings have been local and I’ve even planned on it… I just can’t be bothered. A week ago when I saw Arctic Justice and Countdown on the same day, I planned on seeing Terminator that day too but ended up not bothering with it because it just didn’t seem like it was worth my time… but Arctic Justice and Countdown? Oh, those I had to go see. Same with Addams Family and Knives Out, I planned on the day I saw those to end with me seeing Terminator but after Knives Out, I just didn’t have the interest to stick around to see it because my day was already officially perfect and I didn’t want anything to ruin that (seriously, if you haven’t seen Knives Out then go see Knives Out and thank me later on). 

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Last Christmas (2019) Give It Away

Released: 7th November
Seen: 2nd December

2016, as a year, is generally remembered as a total dumpster fire where all forms of joy and happiness went to die. Entire nations turned on themselves and decided to do objectively stupid things like leave a certain European union or elect a pumpkin man that was assembled in 2013, had already begun to rot and somehow gained racist sentience (with that one sentence, I do believe I’ve gotten rid of the exact kind of reader one would hope to get rid of) and on top of that it seemed like every other day a celebrity that we loved died, culminating in the shocking death of George Michael on Christmas Day. Yes, there were more shocking deaths after him, but I need to save those for when the time comes to talk about the next Star Wars film. Anyway, naturally with a legend like George Michael there was a whole back catalogue of music that someone was inevitably going to take and turn into a tribute to the late performer. You would hope that they would make a film that was as joyful and cheeky as he was, something to celebrate his life… instead, they made a film that is the definition of saccharine and looted George’s pockets for discarded songs.

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The Irishman (2019) – The Luck Of The Irish

Released: 27th November
Seen: 1st December

So… the discussion around Marin Scorsese lately has been kind of interesting. I’ve avoided bringing up his feelings regarding the Marvel movies on this blog because it never seemed relevant but now I’m going to have to talk about the movie that he was promoting while making those comments so let’s get that out of the way. While I think Martin was wrong, he’s also one of the greatest directors of all time and can, therefore, say any goddamn thing he wants to say about cinema. Plus, he’s still turning out high quality films so as long as he keeps proving why he’s one of the best of all time, I’m good with just about anything he wants to say… even if I strenuously disagree with him and think that his latest film has a few problems, it’s still great and worthy of letting the man say any damn thing he likes.

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Widows Walk (2019) – Walk On

Released: 16th December
Seen: 18th November (Lift-Off Film Festival)

When it comes to ghost stories, it’s very hard to get a truly great one. Ghosts are the kind of horror movie creature that can either be genuinely terrifying or goofy as hell with very little in between. I tend to like ghost movies more when the ghosts are used as some kind of metaphor, either for repressed emotions or for grief, because that lets these apparitions be used for something interesting instead of just “an excuse to make a closing door scary”. This movie used ghosts as a metaphor for grief, but it also needed to work a bit on its structure.

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No Turning Back (2019) – No, Turn Back!

Released: 12th April
Seen: 21st November (Lift Off Film Festival)

You know, I get no real joy out of writing a negative review. Sure, it can be cathartic to lay into a film that I felt was offensive or particularly bad but sometimes it feels like I’m kicking a puppy. Sometimes a first-time feature filmmaker makes a genuinely bad film and part of me wants to just ignore it, move on and pretend I didn’t see it… but I did see it and it would feel dishonest not to write about it especially when I have thoughts on it. Just know that this is not exactly fun for me right now, this one I feel bad because I was in the room when the director was asked “Is this a comedy?” and that question should tell you everything about how bad this drama film is.

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Knives Out (2019) – It Murdered Me

Released: 28th November
Seen: 23rd November (Advance Screening)

One of my favourite films of all time is the immortal Clue, the camp murder mystery based on the board game of the same name… in the states, in Australia it was named Cluedo for reasons I don’t understand. Everything about it makes me so happy from its quotable dialogue to the crazy camp characters to the luscious set that just begs you to enjoy every element of it. The film is a cult classic but it contains one massive flaw… no way in hell could you actually solve that thing. It has three different endings and all of them rely on information the audience never gets until the moment Wadsworth starts running around and telling everyone who did it. For years I was waiting for a movie to come around with great dialogue, crazy fun characters and a murder mystery that actually feels solvable as the plot comes out… and Rian Johnson clearly heard my plea because he made that exact film and I love it so much.

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Ford v Ferrari (2019) – Zoom zoom

Released: 14th November
Seen: 14th November

In the early 1960s the Ford motor company was having a bit of a hard time. Sure they were financially successful, but Ferrari was still considered the better car even though Ferrari at the time was hemorrhaging money. After the head of Ford, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) was rejected and humiliated in his attempt to purchase a stake in Ferrari he decided on a new plan… humiliating Ferrari by beating them at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race which Ferrari had won for several years running. In order to accomplish this, Ford hires Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the only American who hadwon the Le Mans race but retired due to a heart condition. Since that heart condition means Shelby couldn’t handle the race, he hires his old friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to handle the driving. Catch is, Ken’s a bit of a hothead who doesn’t play well with others, especially the bosses at Ford who are almost pointedly trying to abuse and screw over the little guys working for them.

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