I rated The Death of Stalin (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

The difficult blend of very serious matters (hit lists, abductions, rape, corruption, summary executions) and a combination of farcical disorganisation and bureaucracy makes for an odd movie. Not much of the humour is LOL. And yet it is a film with masses of wry satirical bite.

At times it is a bit too ridiculous. For example the remaining committee members moving Stalin from the floor to his bed. Maybe this is accurate. And perhaps hat uncertainty of what’s genuine and what’s embellished is an inhibitor on engaging in the events.

It’s a well done, bitterly satirical movie about some very difficult events and some very unlikeable characters.

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I rated Borg vs McEnroe (2017) 6/10 #IMDb

It’s a well done story of being at the top of your game and wondering ‘where now’.

Dwelling mostly on Borg and the tension of the Wimbledon final where he faces McEnroe this is a superficial delve into life at the time and the journey to the final. The two leads do a persuasive job of being the tennis players.

The different attitudes and rituals of the reigning champion and the usurper are displayed and contrasted.

As with many sports movies there isn’t that much to it. But what there is is well played and convincing. Worth catching if it’s on and you can take the time.

I rated Blade Runner 2049 (2017) 8/10 #IMDb

A dark, long, episodic quest. It is like an updated amped-up echo of the original in terms of style and content.

It also suffers from some of the same dated guff: dystopian future, radiation wasteland, rogue squishy android replicants, quietly spoken seething villains.

It’s difficult to separate performance from direction but Ryan Gosling does a great job of being a replicant with strong emotional control. Harrison Ford reprises his role well. Ana da Armas and Sylvia Hoeks are very good in their roles as artificial people. Joi is perhaps the best played role in the movie with a balance of human/not-human that sits just right in the uncanny valley.

I saw it in 2D and in 3D. They’re as physically gloomy as each other and 3D adds nothing to the experience.

The misdirections in the story are well done and kept my interest though I found I needed to concentrate throughout the movie because of its almost episodic nature as the plot progressed. A nice change from the usual cinema fodder.

It’s a gloomy, dated, long, and challenging movie to watch. Despite these qualities, its weak premise, and its quest-like style it is well worth seeing on the big screen where its spectacle is apparent.

I rated The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017) 7/10 #IMDb

A slip of the keyboard had me give this a 6/10 initially. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable movie in the same vein as the Lego Movie and Lego Batman. While the Ninjago line and world isn’t as readily recognisable as those of the preceding movies it makes for a good setting with some very entertaining characters and relationships.

Oddly the film began with some live action reminiscent of many ‘let me tell you a story’ type movies. Odd, but fun. This scene features Jackie Chan who later voices the sensei.

If you enjoyed the other Lego movies you’ll likely enjoy this. It shares any number of similarities.

I rated The Party (2017) 2/10 #IMDb

Nicely shot in black and white. The party takes place in the confines of a small house. With dialogue as banal and preposterous as real life I couldn’t tell whether this was an acutely observed exercise in realism or just a really poor drama. The various nonsense and tripe shared by the characters in their escalating layers of events including: appointment to shadow minister; successful IVF; impending relationship breakdowns; terminal illness; jealous revenge, and so on meant I couldn’t bear to endure the whole thing. One of only a handful of films I’ve walked out on.

If you like strangely realistic yet contrived black and white movies with tedious characters, banal dialogue, and a bitter layer of humour then this might be your cup of tea. It wasn’t mine.

I rated Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) 7/10 #IMDb

If you enjoyed the first Kingsman film then there’s no choice, you have to see this.

The familiar comic-book ultra-violence is in. A preposterous James Bond-like plot is there. And it retains the expletive-ridden Kingsman irreverence.

Yet although it has the same spirit, it isn’t as much fun as the first one. It seems to go on a bit longer than I’d like but it’s hard to point to any particular pieces that I’d want cut to make that happen.

The Statesman stuff is well done with credible suspicion before they sort things out. The inevitable bar fight scene was familiar, amusing, and innovative.

I’d single out some great fun performances by Channing Tatum and Elton John that really added to the fun. Elton John is brilliant in this.

Well worth seeing.

I rated Wind River (2017) 8/10 #IMDb

A powerful and mostly gently paced movie with some credible and realistic characters in the midst of a horrible situation in a harsh landscape.

I’d thought there were a few too many Ski-doo sequences-a bit like aerial shots in Lord of the Rings. But these extended and frequent transitory shots reinforce the isolation and challenge of the landscape.

Until a showdown, it looks like it’s going to be a long inconclusive tail of an ending.

With scenes of brutal and sexual violence this was tough to watch at times.

A real film. With realistic characters. Well worth seeing.