A Screen Near You (Cinema Review Aug/Sept 2019)

I love the cinema! It’s as simple as that. I love the immersive feel of the big screen, the excuse to eat way more popcorn that I would allow myself at home, the complete switch off from the outside world. At just Β£5 a ticket at my local Vue it’s always accessible to mine and Josh’s budget for a fun date, and there’s nothing quite like the visual punch of the cinema screen to wash away any worries from my head.

I was recently going through some drawers while tidying and found all my cinema tickets from the last year, it turns out that I’ve watched over 20 films on the big screen in that time. In the last 2 months alone I’ve seen 6 films. Discovering this stockpile of ticket stubs gave me the idea to create a series on my blog in which I talk about the films I’ve seen recently on the big screen. I can’t promise that they’ll always be the most useful of reviews because at the end of the day they’re only my opinions, and to top that off I have a notoriously bad memory retention of film plots.

Within further ado on to what I viewed (or ‘Vue’d?) in August and September, two months that can almost completely be summarised by the words ‘bad horror’ and ‘Brad Pitt’.

All the reviews have bold headers so you can skip to the films you’re interested in. All the reviews will have very light spoilers in, but nothing that wouldn’t be spoiled by watching the trailer.

Annabelle Comes Home (August 10th)

We started August with Annabelle Comes Home, the latest instalment in the Annabelle story which focuses on a cursed doll. Apparently the story is a based a on a really demonic doll and the demonologist couple that stopped it’s reign of terror. This film was a jump scare filled romp involving the couple’s daughter and her babysitter alone in the house, cue the babysitter’s friend releasing Annabelle from her protective case who creates enough demonic destruction to fill a 90 minutes of screentime.

Honestly it wasn’t a bad film, it was a bit of fun, cheesy and spooky in all the right ways. The plot was certainly not overly complicated, and a bit predictable; certain subplots involving the different spooky presences in the house could have been expanded to create a richer sense of an expanded universe of demons. For a film led by young actors I was impressed by the commitment to the characters, they didn’t feel too much like bad teenaged stereotypes. It’s not the kind of film that I could really give a star rating to because I know really it’s a bad film but I enjoyed it, and that’s the point of it really.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (August 31st)

To stay on the bad horror theme (but to skip around chronologically) at the end of August we saw Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which was truly a terrible film, hours of my life I’ll never retrieve. Comparing it to Annabelle Comes Home makes it seems even worse on reflection, both were horror films with simple premises, young actors, jump scares, and spooky visuals, but how one did it so right and the other did it so wrong I’ll never know. Honestly I don’t want to think about it anymore, I want the part of my brain that remembers anything about this film back so that’s it, that’s my conclusion, thank you, moving on immediately.

It Chapter 2 (September 7th)

It Chapter 2, more bad horror. I’m coming to the realisation now that I’ve spent Β£15 in two months on seeing bad horror films, it’s a difficult genre, I understand, but I expected better from It Chapter 2. The plot of the film can be summarised succinctly by this handy Always Sunny in Philadelphia meme.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

It wasn’t a terrible film, it was fine. It had some good performance, special effects and moments but overall I remember being bored – the one feeling that I really don’t want to feel at the cinema.

Downton Abbey (September 16th)

The only film in that I saw in the last two months which doesn’t fit into either of the aforementioned categories (although I’d highkey love to see Brad Pitt in the series) was the Downton Abbey film, which I saw with my friend Rosie in mid September. I loved revisiting the characters from the series; as terrible as the writing was in this film I can’t help but hope for a sequel. It’s a film for the fans and nothing more, a lot of the plot points were blatant fan service and felt like they’d fallen directly out of someone’s fanfic. It’s a difficult film to review because I know in my heart that it was awful, truly terrible, clunky dialogue, a plot that was so contrived an predictable that it was almost painful, but I did have fun.

Ad Astra (September 21st)

Finally I feel like I can somewhat redeem myself in terms of taste level and show you that I don’t exclusive watch terrible films; wrapping up this blog with a couple of films which are objectively ‘good’ (or at least trying to be). Ad Astra starred Brad Pitt as an astronaut who goes out into the cosmos to find his Father who he had for decades believed to be dead, and that’s about it in terms of plot. We saw this film in Imax which I think was a good choice as it was a visual masterpiece, with many beautiful space-scapes and carefully handled special effects.

The world building was the greatest strength of the movie, the human space settlements on the various planets felt lived in and fully realised. Pitt delivered an earnest performance with the given material but the lack of dimension in all the other characters made the film feel flat. It felt like every other character in the film was written wholly to accommodate Pitt’s character and performance, he’ll probably be Oscar nominated for this brooding performance, but I doubt he’ll win.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood ( August 16th)

To finish of this post I thought I’d go with the film on which I have to most opinions. I would describe this film as a black comedy, led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a jaded actor and stuntman duo. Tarantino’s 9th film features all the great things you would expect from his work: crime, dark humour, violence, a stellar sound track, blood splatters, and great leading men. It also heavily features the sexist overtones you’re willing to forgive his earlier work for having been made in a different era. This film had a distinctly vintage feel, not just in it being literally set in the 60s, but in it’s complete absence of female characters that had any other personality traits than ‘cute’ or ‘crazy’.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood felt like a great old movie, it had the same vibes as one of Tarantino’s most iconic earlier films Pulp Fiction. Some viewers would say that with the film being a homage to old Hollywood the film was right in portraying women as they would have been ‘back in the day’. If Tarantino was willing to play fast and lose with the reality of the true crime story of the Manson family (who feature heavily in the films) he could have given Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate a few more lines, he was after all attempting to portray her as a real person and not as a character in one of her films. This is all not to say that it wasn’t an entertaining film, just a problematic film, and enjoying problematic media is a whole different blog for another time.

Conclusion

I hope you found something useful or entertaining in some of these reviews and I personally look forwards to creating another instalment in this series in a few months. In the next few months I’m excited to see Joker, The Goldfinch, and the latest instalment of the Star Wars series and probably a few more trashy horrors.

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