I rated Their Finest (2016) 8/10 #IMDb


From the trailer I’d expected this to be typical twee British retrospective comedy.

Sure, it has some of those elements. What makes it so good is its tragedy. It’s realism. And the authenticity of its characters’ journeys through life and death.

Gemma Arterton is brilliant in her portrayal of her character’s development and realisation of her responsibilities and needs.

The real/unreal contrasts of the authentic real world, the real world of propaganda films, and the unreal world of the movies are woven together splendidly. The on-location scenes really get this across as Catrin tries to return to London and meets a harsh reality.

There is British comedy though. The interplay between bill nighy and his agents is so rich in its understatement. And the almost recursive referential nature of the ministry comments on the in-the-film filming needing more ‘oomph’ is hilarious.

This is a surprisingly rich, amusing, tragic, and fulfilling movie. It could have been edited more tightly but it is well worth watching. Go see it if you can get to a cinema.

I rated Fast & Furious 8 (2017) 6/10 #IMDb


You know what to expect. F&F8 provides it. Fast cars. Shaky butts. ‘Family’. Mild mawkishness. Etc.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham do a very good job in the setting. Statham really does well.

There are a bunch of predictable one-liners, some peril, lots of guns and explosions, and it all goes together to pass the time surprisingly quickly.

Not bad. And probably tough to avoid at the multiplex. If it does pass you by, just watch one of the other ones on streaming and bump up the sound. Fun.

I rated The Handmaiden (2016) 8/10 #IMDb


I think Its erotica had a small Manchester audience a little squirmy at times but its acting, direction, and storytelling made it well worth watching.

I only found out afterwards that this is an adaptation of ‘finger smith’.

With a plot that makes the most twisty-turny Hollywood movie look like linear perfection, this slick Korean-Japanese movie tells a good story with exquisite and uncomfortable brilliance.

Strange erotic book readings. Difficult relationships. Plots and counter plots. Reckless behaviour. And lust and love.

With what the BBFC call ‘strong sex’, together with what I’d call ‘squirmy violence’ in the midst of a good story well-told this is a movie you need to see.

I rated Beauty and the Beast (2017) 4/10 #IMDb


Despite its nice blend of CGI and real scenes this is a long and unrewarding movie. Typical ‘musical’ songs jammed on to a good story make it easy to lose attention. Add a degree of overstated acting from some cast members more suited to amateur pantomime than Disney spectacular and it all gets a bit much.

Emma Watson does the best job possible in the circumstances. There are a few witty lines and some scary forest and wolf scenes. But being mediocre and long this is a test to watch.

I rated Raw (2016) 7/10 #IMDb


Wow! A challenging movie with some shocking scenes and ideas that will make it unsuitable for some.

Opening with a motor vehicle incident as a primer and then moving on to our protagonist this is not Hollywood.

Justine leaves her coddled home to go to veterinary school. An odd ‘lord of the flies’ sort of place if the induction rituals for freshers are a guide.

There are the usual fresher shenanigans: excessive drinking, drugs, sex, loud music, and so on. But here there are rituals of conformity, degradation, and abuse. Maybe it’s institution-specific?

Justine endures some of these before her hunger starts to develop. Any more and I’ll start spoiling it for you.

If you don’t like retching, vomiting, blood, and depravity then avoid this movie. One brilliant scene involves Justine puking and retching as she brings up several feet of hair into the toilet bowl. 🤢 the sound track is entirely in keeping with the cinematography.

It’s slow at times, but as a tale of non-conformity, distinctiveness, and becoming yourself this is a remarkable feature.


I rated Free Fire (2016) 3/10 #IMDb


A gun deal doesn’t quite work out as intended. Then I suffered 90 minutes I’ll never get back. Most of it was spent watching gun-play among a bunch of half-baked characters with some accents from somewhere.

Some of the gun noises seemed more like real guns than is usual in gun-heavy movies. And there were some John Denver songs. The rest was poor at best.

I rated Ghost in the Shell (2017) 5/10 #IMDb


For a futuristic film this seems oddly dated. Perhaps it’s the rambling intro text in the titles: ‘in the future…cybernetic enhancement…blah blah’. Perhaps it’s the super-futuristic cityscape that now seems oddly familiar from so many movies. Weirdly, one of the scientists smokes in the lab. Possibly a cool thing in 80s Japanese comics. Just out of place and and out of time in a 2017 adaptation. In a way it’s like watching Blade Runner again: dystopian future, but how it looked with the imagination of the 80s.

The storytelling is too much like a series of comic book chapters jammed together to make it a flowing cinematic narrative. Some of these chapters are good. Such as Major visiting her mother is very well done. Awkward, emotive, and left to be continued. And the scenes in the Yakuza club are tense and engaging.

There’s too much made of the cyberization of the people. It’s just a bit too ‘look at this, people with machine parts’. In the time that’s passed since the comics, the novelty has worn off and bled into reality a little. It’s cinema: show, don’t tell.

Perhaps the oddest thing is the robo-nudity of Major. Sure, I understand that Major has tactical camouflage built into her skin. And that clothes would impede her stealth and killing ability. But really? Maybe that’s the point though. To give the audience discomfort. A machine with the brain of a human that looks like, but is sufficiently different from, a human to make us feel uncomfortable when we see her shell.

Oh, the repeated clumsy references to Major’s ‘ghost’ do get tedious. If you take ‘ghost’ to mean human consciousness then say that. Or use ‘soul’ or even ‘essence’. The Japanese idea translating as ‘ghost’ makes sense in the comics. But in this movie it just sounds gauche.

Overall this was OK. Some great bits spoiled by an overly-literal reference to the excellent original material.