See You Yesterday (2019) – Timely

Released: 17th May
Seen: 8th August

The concept of Time Travel in cinema is one of the most fun and irritating plot concepts we’ve ever come up with. Fun because it allows us to explore history and do variants of “Person from today is stuck in the past” stories that present a fish out of water narrative. Irritating because, every single time it happens, people try to logic the hell out of the time travel and explain why it wouldn’t work that way as though time travel was an actual thing and not a storytelling device meant to act as the most threadbare framework for an actual story. This was evidenced earlier this year with Endgame where people ignored the larger story about acknowledging the past of an entire universe of characters and showing the drastic change and growth of everyone involved and instead said “Actually it makes no sense that they all travelled like that, time travel doesn’t work that way” in a whiny high pitched voice, not unlike Urkel with his testicles in a vice. In case it isn’t obvious, I do not care if the Time Travel element doesn’t make sense because it never has to. It is a variation on the MAGIC SCIENCE that was used in Happy Death Day 2U and nothing more. Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the newest entries into the Time Travel genre and the first Netflix film since Someone Great that actually got a reaction out of me.

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Secret Obsession (2019) – I’ve Got A Secret

Released: 18th July
Seen: 5th August

I almost feel bad for taking so many cheap shots at Netflix and their original films. I’ve lambasted them, I’ve mocked them, I’ve put them on my “worst of” lists but I swear I don’t do it intentionally. Netflix probably makes the exact same amount of good and bad films as any other distributor… the catch is that a bad Netflix film is one you can only see on Netflix with a Netflix branded logo right up the top hammering home just where you saw it. I also don’t mind that they have bought so many subpar films, they have to do their best to try and outright own as much content as they possibly can since they’re having content pulled by their corporate partners who are trying to make their own service. Hell, they just lost all of Disney’s stuff while Disney prepared for Disney+, I can’t imagine that Fox properties will stay on there for long thanks to the Disney merger and CBS is pulling a ton of its stuff too in preparation for whatever they’re doing with their own platform. I get that Netflix is trying to maintain a large number of films and aren’t that fussy about the quality… but god damn I wish they’d maybe try a little harder to not pick up the scraps that fell off Lifetime’s table.

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The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019) – DIVE DIVE DIVE!

Released: 31st July
Seen: 4th August

In the 1980s there was a huge refugee crisis in Sudan. Thousands of Ethiopian Jewish refugees fled persecution by making an arduous trip to Israel. To help get these refugees from Sudan to Israel, Mossad agents set up a fake hotel as a cover that they used to keep eyes off them while they were sneaking large numbersof refugees to somewhere safer. The entire endeavour was lead by a man named Gad Shimron and he, along with his team, saved over 12,000 people from persecution. It’s a story that Gad put in a book called Mossad Exodus or you can read a condensed version in an article from The Sun. To quote the end of the article “It is, [Gad] says, important to remember that the bravest people in the story aren’t the Mossad operatives but the Ethiopian Jews who endured endless hardships trying to reach Israel by land, sea or air — uncomplaining men, women and children who crowded into trucks, small boats or planes with no guarantee of safe passage.”… but Hollywood decided that they could get Captain America to play a Mossad agent and that changed the focus considerably.

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Crawl (2019) – You Can Call Me Al-ligator

Released: 11th July
Seen: 30th July

One great thing about Horror is it has many subgenres and every subgenre has its standout movie. Slashers have Halloween, Zombies have the George Romero trilogy of Night/Dawn/Day of the Living Dead and Found Footage has The Blair Witch Project. There’s a pantheon of iconic movies in each subgenre that help confirm horror as one of the most diverse and fascinating genres of film. The movie we’re going to talk about today, Crawl, fits into the subgenre known as Natural Horror which has given us classics like Jaws, The Birds and Cujo. It might be a little early to make this kind of call, but I would be willing to say that Crawl might be up there with those movies as an example of a great natural horror movie.

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The Lion King (2019) – The King Is Dead

Released: 17th July
Seen: 17th July

The first film that I have any memory of seeing in a cinema is the 1994 animated classic The Lion King. While my memory is a little sketchy (because I was 6) I still remember how enthralling it was, this glorious creation that was chock full of drama and laughs and bright glorious colours that just seemed to leap off the screen. I remember the legendary stampede and my mother crying at Mufasa’s death. Truly it was the film that started me on a journey to loving cinema and of all the movies that I could’ve seen as my first theatrical experience, I’m glad it was that one. Now, here we are, 25 years later and I’m angry and bitter and hate everything and have to watch as the first film I remember seeing is slowly sucked dry right before my eyes and all I’m left with is a withered husk of a film… I’m not going to be happy during this review, just so we’re clear.

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After (2019) – 50 Shades Of Bland

Released: 4th July
Seen: 4th July

In April of 2013, Anna Todd released the first chapter of a story titled After onto the website Wattpad. Wattpad is a website known mostly for fan fiction and in Anna’s case, she was big into One Direction. This would prove to be good for Anna because One Direction was still really big at the time, indeed probably at the peak of their collective career. So this fanfiction would focus on Harry Styles, the heavily tattooed member of the well-loved boyband, and create a tale where Harry Styles was a college boy who broods and has a bit of a dark side to him who would end up falling for the sweet innocent Tessa. The book was a huge hit on Wattpad, netting half a billion reads for the 99 chapters of romance between a member of One Direction and some girl who could be you, dear reader. Now, there was a time when this would be the end of the story. The Fan Fiction would stay online, net the writer some credibility in the internet space and we’d never have to talk about it on this blog because it would be unfair to be incredibly critical towards fan fiction which is normally written by bored people with a few hours to kill and a little fantasy they want to imagine… but then After just had to go get turned into a book, change the name Harry Styles to Hardin Scott (for obvious legal reasons) and become enough of a hit that someone had to make a movie out of this book because if Fifty Shades could turn into a hit franchise, surely this one will be a major hit too.

*sigh*

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The Perfection (2019) – It Played Me Like A Fiddle

Released: 24th May
Seen: 11th June

The genre of Horror comes with many subgenres, a lot of flavours that keep it interesting. The genre itself is so extraordinary and wild that it can go from the mental destruction caused by a Psychological horror to the elaborate gore of a slasher, to the homemade hell of Found Footage. Every subgenre has its own little quirks and tricks, its own landmark films and dedicated fan base. Heck, even fans of the horror genre have subgenres they love and ones they loathe. I, for example, am a big fan of the fun cheesy slashers but I always get irritated by found footage films. So, what sub-genre would I put a movie like The Perfection into? Is “HOLY SHIT” a subgenre? Because I believe I want to make it a subgenre.

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Tolkien (2019) – Everybody’s Tolkien At Me

Released: 13th June (Advance Screening)
Seen:7th June

To say that the 1937 book The Hobbit was a game changer would be an understatement. When it comes to the fantasy genre, one could say that The Hobbit and its follow up novels are the reason the fantasy genre still continues to have a life. It’s a work that inspired countless authors and, of course, eventually, lead to three of the most beloved movies of the last 20 years with the iconic Lord of the Rings trilogy. They also made movies based on The Hobbit but we don’t talk about those. Those films were huge though, truly massive moments that are landmarks of cinema and when they ran out of Hobbit movies, someone had to find something to fill the void and since the rights for the stories are with Amazon for that upcoming prequel series, the only way to fill the void would be to do a story about the author himself. You can almost hear the executive squealing with delight when they came up with that idea, even more joyful when they realised that Tolkien was in the First World War so they could do a huge battle scene. Basically, this was a way to get another Lord of the Rings movie out on a smaller budget and it would’ve worked so wonderfully… if, ya know, it was engaging.

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Rocketman (2019) – Hello Yellow Brick Road

Released: 30th May
Seen: 25th May (Advance Screening)

Last year I reviewed a little indie film called Bohemian Rhapsody, you might have heard of it. At the end of that review, I gave the film a 3 and a half rating, a good score for a good film but the more I’ve ruminated on it, the more I realise how the film just isn’t that good. If I were to review it today it’d probably get a 2 and a half star rating. That’s kind of the fun thing about reviewing, as you watch more films you build up a bigger library of references and can spot flaws easier. So when I saw the trailer for Rocketman, I was ready to be a lot more critical about the film. I was ready to not be won over by whimsy but to actually do this properly, and when I found out that the director of Rocketman was the same man who was brought in to replace Bryan Singer on Bohemian Rhapsody after everyone finally realised that Bryan Singer is a bit of an asshole (to put it lightly) I was excited. This is it, a do-over, a chance to try again and make sure that this time I spot a gaudy mess for what it is… and then they just had to screw up my plans by actually producing a fun enchanting film that put the biggest smile on my face. I swear, it’s almost unfair.

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Red Joan (2019) – Communism Is Just A Red Herring

Released: 6th June
Seen:22nd May (Advance Screening)

Do you know what’s the hardest part of these reviews to write? This opening paragraph that is always placed above a cut so when you look on the main page you get this little paragraph that provides a little bit of context, either context for the series the movie is part of or maybe a personal story so you can understand where I’m coming from when I talk about a certain film. The idea behind this format is that if you were to scroll through and read the opening paragraph, it might catch your eye and make you read it. It provides a jumping off point, like an introduction to an essay and they’re insanely hard to write because it requires me to find a way to hint at my feelings about the film without going into detail. It’s a taste-test that I offer you to get you to read on and when a movie is great they can be a lot of fun to write and when a movie is awful, they’re even more fun to write. But what about when a film is so middle of the road and so pointless that not only do I not have anything interesting to say about its inception, but its lack of purpose makes me spend a two-hour train ride pondering “Just how the hell am I going to talk about this?”. Well, Red Joan is here to test just how much I can get out of one of the most boring films I’ve seen in a while… which is weird to say about a film with Russian spies stealing nuclear secrets but that’s what we have.

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