Saturday, 22 December 2018

Best Films of 2018

As the New Year approaches, as is tradition, comes the time to reflect on the year that has passed and pick out my favourite films of 2018.
It is often very difficult to narrow the list down to ten, particularly in a year that has been superb for the horror genre, so the list will feature twenty titles.
So relax, grab your popcorn and enjoy this walk down the cinematic memory lane... well, given the list, the Netflix and Chill memory lane!

Special Mention: Secret Cinema presents Blade Runner: The Final Cut

While not technically a 2018 cinema release, the Secret Cinema presentation of Blade Runner was honestly one of the greatest cinematic experiences I have ever been a part of. Not only was the technical presentation top notch but the chance to become part of that world, albeit briefly, is something that will stay with me forever, not to be washed away like tears in rain.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Green Book - Review

Green Book, the Surprise Film of the London Film Festival and Cineworld's Secret Screening, is a genuine surprise... in just how charming it is.
On paper, the story of an Italian heavy who drives a rich, educated black pianist through the Deep South on a concert tour sounds like Driving Miss Daisy in reverse. A film that could be incredibly cloying, schmaltzy and patronising.
However the end result is an incredibly funny and charming film. Just as the story sees two people with preconceived views of the world and people slowly broaden their minds, this film will change audiences' minds who go in expecting one thing but come out pleasantly surprised.
Based on a true story, the film may not break any new ground in terms of plot and structure. You can see exactly how the film will play out as if reading a road map of New York to Alabama. But that doesn't matter at all when the film delivers on heart, wit and charm.
All of that charm and good will is down to the excellent pairing of Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as Tony "Lip" Vallelonga and Dr. Don Shirley. The two spark of each other brilliantly and have some of the best on-screen chemistry of 2018 and make for one of the best odd couples of recent years.
Mortensen is certainly an actor more known for his intensity that comedic sparring ability but his brash, loudmouth bounces perfectly off Ali's uptight, reserved Shirley.
In the end, as the two attempt to make their way back to New York in time for Christmas, you realise that you have almost been watching a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles set during the civil rights movement.
Just as Shirley's performances impress audiences all over the States and Tony slowly works his charm on Shirley, audiences will find themselves utterly beguiled by Green Book which is destined to become one of 2019's breakout sleeper hits.

4 stars

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Anna And The Apocalypse - Review

There is a new festive film in town to add to the list of "Is it really a Christmas film?", joining every Shane Black film and Die Hard. Say hello to Anna And The Apocalypse.
Set in a small town outside of Glasgow, a zombie outbreak threatens the teenagers as they approach their end-of-term Christmas show.
Set at Christmas with a plot that involves family trying to be reunited? Sounds like a Christmas film to me.
What it is for certain is Scotland's answer to High School musical meets Shaun Of The Dead. High School Musi-Kill if you will.
One of the strengths of the film is that asides from one or two minor references to a pandemic on the radio, the first act is played straight as a musical... and a very good one at that as the songs such as Break Away and Not Another Hollywood Ending are right out of Disney film.
At the centre of it all is Anna, a young woman who has lost her mother, at odds with her father and wishing to escape her life to explore the world. It's just a shame that those pesky zombies take a bite out of her plans.
Ella Hunt plays our heroine and is the UK's answer to Anna Kendrick. She can sing, do comedy and handle the emotion.
Surrounding her are the stereotypical high schoolers; the best friend, the bad boy, the couple, the outcast.
Of these, Sarah Swire deserves special acclaim along with Paul Kaye chewing scenery rather than flesh as a vindictive, angry headmaster.
When the zombie attack takes hold, the musical numbers tend to take a back seat to the ultra violence which is more than you'd see on Sauciehall Street on a Saturday night in the run up to Xmas.
Director John MacPhail and writer Andy MacDonald (based on Ryan McHenry's short film) clearly have a love for the genre as there are many references to Night Of The Living Dead and Shaun Of The Dead (there are some classic Edgar Wright edits in there).
What's more, their knowledge extends to being able to take the tropes and cliches and turn them on their undead heads and surprise audiences.
It's an all-singing, all-dancing Grange Hill meets The Walking Dead. La La Land of the Dead!

4 stars