I rated ‘Red Sparrow’ 5/10


I rated it 5/10 and think I might be a little generous. Jennifer Lawrence plays a dead-eye, cunning spy after being forced into a brutal regime of psychological reconstruction following a ballet ‘accident’.

The ending was surprisingly good, albeit somewhat predictable. I’m unsure if there was meant to be any real suspense for it. The rest of the film is a mish-mash of old spy-thriller standards (there’s a mole, dodgy ‘Russian’ accents, hung-ho CIA agents) and some weird blend of 1970s-style soviet stuff and modern day pieces.

Thankfully there are no ‘ultrasonic’ glass-smashing signet rings or the like. But there did seem to be floppy discs holding US-government secrets. Maybe these are popular in spy-circles for the difficulty they might present an adversary in finding something to read them with?

Joel Edgerton isn’t amazing at the best of times but he clearly had some very thin material to work with here. His character is tissue-thin compared even to Lawrence’s.

The film is way too long. It is gratuitously peppered with nudity. And it all seemed a bit dated and too contrived.

A shame, as Jennifer Lawrence is a strong screen presence.

I suggest this is a late night streaming one that you won’t mind falling asleep in front of. Watch Nikita (either version) instead.


I rated ‘Lady Bird’ 8/10


A teenage rites of passage story with stubborn, anarchic, and entertaining characters. Well worth seeing.

Lady Bird is trying to grow up. It’s tough when you think you’re in the wrong place, when your family is as weird as any other, and you literally come from the wrong side of the tracks.

With high school traumas, boyfriend trouble, and changing cliques Lady Bird triumphed for me as a great tale of growing up. It’s told both tenderly and hilariously with compelling performances from the leads.

I rated Black Panther 8/10


For a superhero movie this is entertaining and a little different from the usual.

Some great casting, a brief history of Wakandia, and some good social commentary made this a bit deeper than other Earth-based Marvel movies.

The bad guys are suitably bad. And the main one is tough, ruthless, smart, and has a reasonably compelling backstory.

The conceit of Wakandia as a secret, highly-advanced place is wonderful.

The film goes on a little bit longer than I’d like but there’s only one period where it lulls slightly after the Korea events.

All in all this is a great superhero movie. While it has its fair share of blammo fighting and special effects it also has a few more diplomatic angles on resolving problems.

The end credit short scene is a very nice touch.

Go see it if you can.

I rated The Mercy 6/10


The tale of an amateur sailor who takes on a single-handed round the world challenge that hardened professionals balked at.

If this had been an entirely fictional story it would stretch the limits of credibility. As a dramatisation it is as similarly dull as the director’s ‘the theory of everything’.

The cast do a fair job of playing 2D versions of real people.

The big dream, the harsh reality, and the uncertain conclusion to the sailing adventure are fascinating and drawn out. Perhaps the best part of the film is the brief and lasting aftermath and effects on the family.

Sadly this is a dull movie. Catch it on TV.

I rated The 15:17 to Paris (2018) 2/10 #IMDb


Amazing heroes. Dreadful film.

Seeing ‘produced and directed by Clint Eastwood’ I expected a gritty, high-quality movie about the heroes who potentially saved so many people on this infamous train ride from Amsterdam to Paris.

Instead, what I saw was a meandering cut-up effort with some leaden dialog, made-for-tv scenes, and shoddy cinematography.

I can’t fault the leads. Apparently played by the real people, they do as good a job as I’ve seen non-actors do. But perhaps the solid anchoring of scenes in reality is part of what makes this such a poor movie? For all it contains, it lacks drama.

Despite the cut-ups to remind you that horrible things are coming you’ll spend most of the movie watching mundane scenes of childhood and growing up. Like many people, these heroes had various challenges growing up. Unachieved goals, difficulties at school, friendship, loss, and disappointments. What makes this different is that there’s a tedious thread suggesting these events are all leading to a special fate. Oh, and that these scenes are played in a surprising non-dramatic way. It makes this less of a cinematic experience and more like an assemblage of endless home video footage.

Despite the serious nature of the movie there are some amusing moments including a fallacious argument between 2 of the boys’ mothers and their elementary school teacher. The teacher justifies her proposal that one boy take ADD medication with some seemingly irrelevant statistic. The mother responds with ‘my god is bigger than your statistics’. Few things are less helpful in dialog than throwing non sequiturs at each other. However, it’s not the last time you’ll hear this kind of thing.

Despite the chaotic and realistic re-enactment of the train scenes and the contrasting events immediately beforehand this is a poor movie to watch. Avoid it at all costs.

I rated I, Tonya (2017) 7/10 #IMDb


A very well-done Pseudo-documentary movie about the Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding.

Tonya, played by Margot Robbie, states the unreliable nature of any of the narrative early on. Irrespective, this is an entertaining, brilliantly played, and tough tale of abuse, dedication, and coming from the wrong side of the tracks.

The inept plot to scare a rival skater is played entirely credibly despite its ridiculousness. A far cry from the slick capers of fictional thrillers and crime movies.

The movie is a mix of character interviews and re-enactment of accounts of events.

This film has repeated images of domestic abuse and bullying.

It is well worth watching despite its niche sport setting. Go see this instead of hours of Winter Olympic footage.

I rated The Shape of Water (2017) 9/10 #IMDb


Weird, quirky, and a beautiful movie. This is an odd mix of ‘monster from the black lagoon’ styling and modern story telling. No doubt packed with metaphors that escaped me in first viewing it is a splendid story of sensual and sensitive relationships, friendships, espionage, and violence.

Wonderful cinematography, great characters and splendid acting. See it as soon as you can.