I rated Molly’s Game 7/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4209788

I got to see this at a ‘secret’ preview showing. So glad I did. The trailers I’d seen made me want to see it. The movie itself is a triumph. My first reflections were that it was a well-done ‘contemporary events and flashbacks’ film. Thinking later on, it is a disturbing and oddly un-Hollywood Hollywood movie about accommodation and acceptance. Possibly one of the best illustrations of a ‘slippery slope’ on screen.

The closing scenes and the end credit follow up are excellent. I’m very glad the movie had ‘what happens next’ as an endnote.

Essentially a high achiever from a high achieving family has a setback, takes a year out, falls in with an intoxicating crowd and builds a great business with ‘little more than [her] wits’. As with anything you like it can carry you away and that’s where things take a tricky turn.

I mentioned ‘disturbing’. Michael Cera does a great job as an unsettling and seemingly evil Hollywood a-lister, poker player, and self-proclaimed ‘destroyer of lives’.

This is a great ‘based on a true story’ film with some tough scenes that ends with a realistic outcome. Good luck Molly Bloom.

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I rated battle of the sexes 8/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4622512

8/10? For a sports movie? Ah, this is so much more than a sports movie. With very credible performances by Emma Stone and Steve Carell this is a story of awakening and revolution.

With a good balance of back story and character we seem to find out a lot about the events that prompt the ‘battle of the sexes’.

The action on court is neatly done. And the action off court gives an insight into the characters that my last tennis flick did an unbalanced job of. With this movie I felt that I saw real people dealing with their day to day problems as well as the macro-problems of the age. Sure, some of the characters are super-villain-like (for example, the USLTA chairman) but that puts the emphasis on Stone and Carell and their close characters to show us more depth. And they do that really well.

If you can tolerate the tennis then this is a great character movie showing the weird world of the 70s.

I rated the disaster artist 8/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3521126

Wow. This is one of the most uncomfortable and entertaining movies I’ve seen. With some convincing performances and some bizarre material it is also one of the most skilled retellings of real events I’ve enjoyed.

I was discomfited with the talking heads opener featuring some real life Hollywood talent. And then things really begin.

I am almost ashamed to say that I had not heard of ‘The Room’ which is the movie that inspired this ‘based on a true story’ film. Though the well-informed folks @travellingmanuk manchester, my local comic store, had.

The film tells the essential parts of the story of two guys who make a pact to support each other’s ambition to be actors in LA. That they make the pact after a spontaneous drive to the site of James Dean’s infamous crash sort of sets the scene for the entire movie.

They have distinct set backs. They have minor successes. They despair. They triumph. And best of all they realise the lesson of all creative people: once your art is out there your interpretation is secondary.

Almost a literally incredible film this is well worth watching just for the excellent acting and feeling of discomfort at real life. It is absolutely worth watching for its determined reach for authenticity and truth.

Just go see it. Now, where can I get my hands on ‘the room’?

I rated Justice League (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

Oh dear. It’s very long. It’s not very engaging. It has some made for TV FX. It has a lame rabbit-from-the-hat ending. And it just doesn’t seem very original, very challenging, or very convincing.

It is though better than batman vs superman.

Of all the characters Wonder Woman shines out as being the most authentic and convincing. Gal Gadot does a great job. The other convincing character, oddly, was the flash. Out of his depth, suffering hero worship, and still coming to terms with his abilities he’s funny, effective, and, again, authentic.

Bruce Wayne isn’t bad but it’s a very cardboard character here. Cyborg? Well, he does a better character job than batman but he lacks something. Aquaman is amusing but there’s not much to him. And his littering the ocean with whiskey bottles is out of place in 2017.

‘Steppen Wolf’ and his flying vampire zombie skeletons is a joke. There’s no real menace or fear created by what should be a terrifying foe. Though being saddled with a repeated explanation and origin story doesn’t help him.

The whole film is riddled with the kind of pompous drivel for dialog that made comic movies so bad in the past. The dialog towers above the underlying plot devices in terms of quality though. The unity blah blah blah. Three mother boxes blah blah blah. Divided between the Amazons, Atlanteans, and ‘man’. Albeit man chooses to bury their ‘mother box’ in a shallow grave in the woods. The amount of exposition on the back story was just intolerable. Especially as it made little sense and didn’t really help the plot much.

Poor Alfred. Not only dressed in some dodgy army surplus gear but also relegated to a few ancillary scenes. A waste of a good character and a fine actor.

As for the Superman resurrection stuff. Well. Superman being invincible is bad enough but raised from the dead by magic mother boxes connected in ‘the unity’? Drivel.

This is a dire movie which is only redeemed by the boldness of Wonder Woman and the wise cracks of the flash. The rest is just very very disappointing given how good some recent superhero movies have been.

Only see this if you’re a DC completist or need an overly long soporific. I hope there are no more movies like this coming from the DC stable. The only thing that can save them would be a Wonder Woman 2 to match the quality of the last one.

I rated Paddington 2 (2017) 7/10 #IMDb

A delightful family movie involving Paddington, the Brown family, a thieving villain, and quite a caper.

There’s some great CGI to create a credible fictional bear refugee in London. Add Hugh Grant playing an ageing, egotistical, thespian master of disguise and while it is childish at times it is also heartwarming and entertaining.

The strange dated, yet modern, London suited to the Paddington stories comes alive in some very neatly done scenes. And there are some real moments of despair with Paddington in prison. And some of real peril in the train chase.

Well worth seeing.

I rated Only the Brave (2017) 6/10 #IMDb

Slightly grander than the usual straight to TV ‘based on a true story’ tales of heroism, I was in two minds about seeing this. I’m glad I did.

It started as a pretty macho movie and I feared it would be all male banter, bonding, and beer. It’s not. I’m sure the real life fire fighters had far more depth than the characters portrayed on screen. Having said that I thought that though the characters are focused/accentuated for the drama there was more depth to them than is common for this type of movie.

The people around the firefighters – partners, friends, others are played very well and make this somewhat more than a heroic guy movie. Their relationships really add to the peril and tension I experienced when things got scary.

The bravery of these firefighters is apparent and this movie fittingly captures their heroism. The end scenes and credits also reflect the difficulty that survivors have of the aftermath of tragedies like this.

It’s a credible, well made dramatic tale of real life bravery.

I rated The Florida Project (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

This is one of those movies that seems interminable at times when you’re watching it but afterwards it seems more rewarding.

It’s a tale of the contrasting worlds within a world of children and adults in low income motel accommodation in Florida.

For the children it seems to be a summer of day after day adventure and play. Sure, there are some incidents of difficult behaviour like swearing, rudeness, and arson. But these are isolated things in the daily lives of children who seem to have few cares, almost endless sunshine, and enjoyable outdoor play. Nearly everything is an adventure. And the events and scenes are compellingly authentic.

For the adults it’s a different story. Low income jobs, precarious employment, and the expectations of adult life lead to some difficult, dangerous, and ultimately high-penalty choices for some.

I didn’t read much about the film’s background and set up. From appearances it seems very Ken Loach like. In that there are some known actors and a bunch of seemingly regular people. Either it was unscripted or the actors are excellent at translating lines into realistic-seeming mundane day to day dialogue.

Willem Defoe is remarkable as the motel manager. Both in his portrayal and in his character. Calm nearly all the time. Helpful and supportive even at personal cost. And protective and caring. The scene with the potential paedophile is unnervingly realistic and totally gripping.

Why 5? In part it is that while the film is glorious in its colours and cinematography and it has some real drama it just unfolds at such a normal life pace that it’s not that entertaining. And from the start you’re aware that this is like a train on a collision course. It’s going to end badly for someone.

If you’re used to slow moving arty movies and can enjoy the escapism the children’s adventures offer while handling the adults’ events then definitely see this. If you like arty films that elide mundanity then take your stamina tablets before walking in.