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

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4016934

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

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2771200

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

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4954522

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.

https://goo.gl/images/Xyq6v5

I rated Free Fire (2016) 3/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4158096

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

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827

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.

I rated Kong: Skull Island (2017) 7/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3731562

Kong movies are a bit of a mixed bag. This one seems to have grabbed all of the goodies from those bags, mixed them up with some madness and explosions and produced an enjoyable movie.

The ‘assemble the team’ bit is done quickly and with the right note of humour. Then it’s off to skull island. Some great flying in scenes and it’s right into the action.

1973 makes Samuel L Jackson’s character more credible than it would be today. He’s crazy.

The rest of the cast do a good job. John Reilly does a great job of being both comic relief and a disturbing castaway. A surprisingly sophisticated role for this kind of multi-national film. His crazy is both amusing and scary. Brie Larson does a good job of playing an independent woman in the type of movie that generally has ‘damsel in distress’ on offer.
Tom hiddleston plays a character of sorts. Sometimes really well.

It’s not a cerebral movie. It offers some familiar Kong themes. It has some NSS ‘message moments’ but these pass easily in the march to a conclusion.

Some of the cuts between the groups can be a bit disorientating.

It’s worth watching if you like threat, doom, big monsters, lots of bangs, and some kind of story.

I rated Sing (2016) 7/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3470600

Really enjoyable animated movie about a luckless koala desperate to save his theatre. His final grasp is with a talent show.

There are some well done cartoon capers mixed in with a tale of perseverance and doing things just for the fun of them.

Slickly animated, nicely told, and with some good voice parts. Even the singing bits are tolerable.

Feel pretty good animated fun.