We’ve taken a leaf out of Santa’s book, and have decided to reflect on the films of the year by determining which ones have been ‘good/nice’ and which ones have been downright naughty/bad. All of the team have put forward three films on their nice list and three for their naughty lists, giving their reasons why certain films have made the right or the wrong impression. So, grab a mince pie and some egg nog and join us to examine the lists. Ho, ho, ho!
Criminally underappreciated, Bart Layton’s retelling of a Kentucky library heist gone wrong is a masterclass in impeccable editing. Often when a film focuses on (and successfully executes) micro elements such as editing, the narrative is left behind. Yet, American Animals is one of the few that manages to do both justice. The fantastic use of editing combined with a terribly tense final act makes for a can’t-tear-your-eyes-away watch. Plus Evan Peters is fabulous.
Reminded me of Black Mirror’s Nosedive episode and not just because of THAT vanity table scene… Cam felt truly authentic and after realising that ex-cam girl, Isa Mazzei wrote it, it made perfect sense. What with Madeline Brewer’s impressive performance and the subtle but effective score, you felt very much like you are on the whirlwind journey with Alice (or Lola).
The constant chasing of followers, likes and voyeurs strikes a chord with the world we’re living in right now, and the sheer desperation and lengths people will go to be liked was rather overwhelming. My favourite (overlooked) scene is the editorial calendar of events – much like businesses do to create content. Alice is basically a content creator, something I hadn’t thought about before. So if anything, I felt more educated on the world of camming and honestly, a little scared by it!
Directed by fellow East Midlander and Derby University graduate, Deborah Haywood, Pin Cushion is an intensely personal, extremely affecting look at mother/daughter dynamics. For a directorial debut, Pin Cushion excels in cinematography, editing and kitsch effects that complement the subject matter delightfully. Although full of fairytale mellowness, the final act manages to grab you by the throat and force-feed you uncomfortable home truths, something I for one, am a fan of.
Visually and stylistically, Yardie is impressive. However, it’s not enough to carry the weak, borrowed plot for 90 minutes. It dabbles with themes such as drugs, violence, revenge and music (something, I feel it should have focused more on). But dabble, it did. And Elba’s inspirations were all-too-obvious, proving a fun game to see how many references you could spot. In which, I managed:
- The Godfather: hiding the gun behind the toilet
- A Bronx Tale: D scrambling to stop the shooter in the middle of a crow
- Goodfellas: putting the necklace around Yvonne’s neck (much like Henry and Karen)
- Kidulthood: Aml Ameen played a super similar character in the 2006 drama, as did King Fox and Uncle Felix. In fact, the entire storyline is SO SIMILAR
The Children Act
I hate to be that person but… it’s just so dull? The pacing is painful with weird, unnecessary injections of comedy (in the form of Stanley Tucci) that just doesn’t land. But really, am I surprised? It’s rare that an Ian McEwan adaptation works: Enduring Love, On Chesil Beach, The Child in Time. It seems the power and emotion behind his words pale when on screen. Plus 90% of The Children Act follows Emma Thompson walking or running across London. And as beautiful as Emma Thompson’s walk is, I needed more.
Sorry to Bother You
I haven’t felt so conflicted / confused / entertained by a film quite as much as I have over this one. Lots was going on visually and narratively, but nothing solid came off? At times the humour didn’t land, making for an even weirder experience. Interestingly though, I thought the entire cast put in a great performance, which is probably what kept me in my seat up until the final third, then it lost me to the sheer absurdity. I think underneath the unnecessary bullshit there were powerful messages, but it made you work super hard to benefit from them.