SCREENWASH – DECEMBER 2016 – FILM & TV REVIEW ROUND-UP by PAUL LAIGHT
Merry Christmas to anyone reading this and a Happy New Year! So, as we wind down our employment and head home for the holiday season I offer my final cinema and TV screen round-up of the year.
From next year the Screenwash monthly round-up will mainly consist of the best stuff I saw each month rather than EVERYTHING! My blog will also feature the usual classic film features and reviews as usual. I’m off to the pub soon so a very quick run-through with marks, as usual, out of eleven!
**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**
A PERFECT DAY (2015) – NETFLIX
Well-meaning and intriguing comedy-drama set circa ‘90s Balkan conflict stars Benicio Del Toro as an Aid worker facing anything but a perfect day. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)
BILLIONS (2016) – SKY ATLANTIC
Tremendous drama starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, as a billionaire stockbroker and New York Attorney General respectively, who lock horns over insider trading. This has the lot: great acting, script and cat-and-mouse twists galore in a meaty twelve episodes. (Mark: 8.5 out of 11)
BLUE VELVET (1986) – BFI CINEMA
“Why are there people like Frank?” asks Kyle Maclachlan’s Jeffery Beaumont in David Lynch’s dark journey into the underbelly of small town America. Hopper’s tour-de-force performance is chilling and funny in this eccentric, violent and memorable thriller. (Mark: 9 out of 11)
CASE 39 (2009) – NETFLIX
An alright chiller starring Renee Zellweger as a social worker investigating the abuse of a young girl. Of course, not all is what it seems. (Mark: 6.5 out of 11)
FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING (2016) – NETFLIX
Paul Rudd is excellent as a depressed man seeking escape from life by helping muscular-dystrophy effected youth, Craig Roberts, in a touching and funny road movie. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)
FUNNY GIRL (1968) – NETFLIX
The classic Broadway musical which I saw recently in London with Sheridan Smith (I wasn’t with her – she was in it) is a breezy blast through the songs and career of Fanny Brice. The kind-of-rags-to-riches-narrative is simple but the delivery is brilliant, with Barbara Streisand bursting with life, humour and song in an energetic Oscar-winning performance. (Mark: 8 out of 11)
JOY (2016) – SKY CINEMA
Hit-and-miss drama stars the amazing Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano; who battles family strife and corporate sexism to rise to the dizzy heights of TV shopping celebrity. (Mark: 7 out of 11)
IP MAN 3 (2015) – NETFLIX
Donnie Yen, again, excels in the further adventures of martial arts legend Ip Man. This time its 1959 and he’s up against Mike Tyson as a gangland boss and other rivals to his Wing Chun crown. Worth watching for the majestic fight scenes and the always awesome Donnie Yen (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)
LES DOULOS (1963) – BFI CINEMA
Classic French Noir from Jean-Pierre Melville stars Jean Belmondo is a shadowy joy which thrills with its twisting plot following a robbery-gone-wrong. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)
MASCOTS (2015) – NETFLIX
Christopher Guest’s comedy mockumentary about sports mascots has some big and silly belly laughs and even sillier costumes too. It’s very daft with some fun routines throughout. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)
MATCHSTICK MEN (2003) – SKY CINEMA
Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell are brilliant in Ridley Scott’s smaller-in-scale-than-usual-con-artist film which contains a series of thrilling twists and Cage’s excellent OCD-afflicted performance. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)
PUSH (2009) – NETFLIX
Captain America/Chris Evans stars in this not-bad action-thriller about telekinetics being hunted down by a nefarious agency somewhere in Hong Kong. (Mark: 7 out of 11)
REMAINS OF THE DAY (1993) – MOVIE MIX
Sensational period drama set just before WW2 features incredible acting from Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. They star as the Butler and Housekeeper who develop feelings for each other but professional commitments keep them at arms-length in a wonderfully touching human story. (Mark: 9.5 out of 11)
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016) – CINEMA
Disney’s Star Wars roadshow-behemoth moves onto the first of it’s’ anthology series with a rip roaring war movie set just before A New Hope (1977) – (Mark: 9 out of 11). My full review is here.
SATURDAY NIGHT & SUNDAY MORNING (1960) – DVD
Albert Finney is excellent in this ground-breaking-for-its-day-working-class-social-realist drama. He’s a hard-working-boozing-chauvinist who rebels against the bosses and law in a gritty, and at times humorous, slice of British life. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11).
SECRET IN THEIR EYES (2015) – SKY CINEMA
Pointless and so-so remake of the classic Argentinian Oscar-winner which takes a great story and good cast and reduces it to a functional detective story. (Mark: 6 out of 11).
SELF/LESS (2015) – SKY CINEMA
Badly-reviewed-but-not-too-bad takes a great premise of Ben Kingsley having his consciousness transferred into Ryan Reynolds’ soldier and turns it into a decent action-chase thriller. (Mark: 7 out of 11).
THE SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE (2016) – NETFLIX
Decent based-on-a-true-story set in the Congo during a battle in the Katanga district circa 1961. Charismatic Jamie Dornan leads UN troops battling French mercenaries in some brutal and explosive battle scenes which echo the backs-to-the-wall heroics of Rourke’s Drift. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11).
SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974) – FILM FOUR
Steven Spielberg’s debut cinema release is a lively road-pursuit-comedy-drama with a sparky lead performance from a very young Goldie Hawn. The characters strife didn’t grab me but the action barrels along sweetly with some funny scenes and beautiful cinematography. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11).
SULLY (2016) – CINEMA
Tom Hanks excels as the experienced and noble pilot Chesley Sullenburger who somehow landed a plane on the Hudson after birds had ripped out its engines. Clint Eastwood directs with his usual steady hand as the film shows life experience is often more valuable than a computer simulation. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11).
THE THIN BLUE LINE (1988) – NETFLIX
Errol Morris’ seminal documentary about a miscarriage of justice pretty much re-invented the crime documentary with its’ chilling re-enactments and interviews with the personae involved. The film would eventually prove the innocence of wrongly-accused drifter Randall Adams in the crime of a murdered police officer in 1976. Formidable, gripping and humane drama. (Mark: 9 out of 11).
THE THREE AMIGOS (1986) – SKY CINEMA
Chevy Chase, Martin Short and comedy genius Steve Martin star in this silly spoof of Westerns and silent-comedies as they are mistaken for hardened protectors of the weak. (Mark: 7 out of 11).
WESTWORLD (2016) – HBO – SKY ATLANTIC
Brilliant and exquisite Sci-fi-western-mash-up from Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy with an all-star cast is reviewed – (Mark: 9 out of 11) – in full here:
WHITE FANG (1991) – SKY CINEMA
Ethan Hawke is a young explorer looking to make a go of his dead father’s gold mine in the end of the 19th century Yukon. Lots of snow and action aplenty as Hawke’s boy becomes a man and befriends a young wolf in the process in fine family entertainment. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11).
WOLF HALL (2015) – NETFLIX
Mark Rylance owns this dark drama as Thomas Cromwell; a key figure in the court of Henry the VIII – here portrayed by the brilliant Damian Lewis. Based on Hilary Mantel’s astonishing novels it charts the political and religious back-stabbing of the day in a naturally shot and wonderfully acted period drama. Rylance’s performance is subtle and steely as the man from lower stock who rose to pull the strings in the King’s court. (Mark: 8.5 out of 11).