Monthly Film Roundup: May 2021

Films Watched: 51

How Many Were New: 39

Best Films: Kes (1969), Requiem for a Dream (2000), Her (2013)

Worst Films: Snakes on a Plane (2006), Fateful Findings (2013), The Room (2003)

New Releases: Promising Young Woman, Nomadland, Judas and the Black Messiah, Godzilla vs. Kong, A Quiet Place Pt. II


Eagle vs Shark (2007)
Taika Waititi’s directorial debut lacks the subtlety and depth of his later films, but still displays his usual blend of charming comedy and underplayed emotions

Elephant (2003)
A shocking and powerful drama inspired by the 1999 Columbine School Shootings. Sparse but visceral, it’s unrelenting tone is expertly directed by Gus Van Sant

Promising Young Woman (2020)
An excellent revenge thriller with a stunning central performance and a crucially important message. The film does suffer from cliché plotting, clunky writing and a very “mainstream feel” for an Oscar winner, but this will work in its favour as it means more will see the message and act to better themselves

Westworld (1973)
The basis for the hit TV show, Michael Crichton’s remarkably original film is a great directorial debut. The ‘state-of-the-art’ digital effects do look dated, but they work for the film, and the central plot is so unique you can’t help but get swept away with the adventure

The Philadelphia Story (1940)
With a fantastic trio at the helm, this 40’s romcom is a lovely watch. Drawn out but entertaining, the cast works wonders with a snappy script and fun premise

Mean Streets (1973)
A confident early success from Scorsese, DeNiro and Keitel provides an energetic snapshot of life in Little Italy. The minimal plot works for the film, but isn’t as exciting or deep as Scorsese’s later work

Shame (2011)
Sex filled but never erotic, Steve McQueen directs a surface level but uncompromising drama about sex addiction. Michael Fassbender has rarely been better as he dives fully into the role with brutal honestly

Liar Liar (1997)
A fabulous feel good comedy with a rarely better Jim Carrey. With a neat central premise that is fully stuck to, the film delivers big laughs aswell as huge heart 

Kes (1969)
A touching and quintessentially British drama about the working class struggles in South Yorkshire. A heartbreaking portrait of youth and Britain, it’s a timeless classic

Nomadland (2020)
A stunning example of raw, uncompromising filmmaking that is socially aware and quietly moving. Its 3 Oscar wins are richly deserved, with another stunning performance from Frances McDormand, and tone-perfect direction from Chloé Zhao

Three Men and A Baby (1987)
There’s only so much plot the titular concept can sustain, but thankfully the charismatic trio inject enough humour to make it a passable and heartwarming comedy. It’s also always refreshing when you find a classic comedy that isn’t outrageously racist, sexist or misogynistic

Brick (2005)
An affectionate neo-noir that shares the great style of the genre, but also the pitfalls of being mind-numbingly convoluted. The high school setting doesn’t quite work for the plot, but it certainly works well as a confident debut from Rian Johnson (Knives Out)

The Fountain (2006)
Another richly ambiguous triumph from Darren Aronofsky. Telling a spiritual story of mortality and love through the whole of existence, all in the space of 97 minutes, it’s a wonderful success with beautiful performances and an equally beautiful score

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Darren Aronofsky’s tragic ode to addiction is an evocative sensory experience. A tough and uncompromising film as four addicts watch their dreams slowly become nightmares, with a breathtaking central performance from Ellen Burstyn

True Lies (1994)
The first film to cost more than $100million, ‘True Lies’ sports some stunning practical action. Though it’s a bombastic piece of popcorn entertainment, it’s let down by a drawn out runtime, blatant misogyny and offensively caricatured villains

Recording ‘The Producers’: A Musical Romp with Mel Brooks (2001)
An intimate behind the scenes gem documenting the recording sessions of ‘The Producers’. Mel Brooks breaks up the song sequences with facts, anecdotes and other joys.

The Sixth Sense (1999)
An iconic supernatural film that succeeds and fails on the importance of its ending. Most of the tension and logic is lost if you know where it’s going, but it’s still an enjoyably gothic ride

Predestination (2014)
A truly unique premise with a story that’ll keep you guessing and boggle your mind. If you can accept the central premise, it’s a mightily fun time travel thriller

Phone Booth (2002)
Joel Schumacher’s neo-noir thriller is a remarkably accomplished work. At just 1hr15, it’s bursting at the seems with pace and energy, and sports a fantastic vocal performance from Kiefer Sutherland 

The Celebration (1998)
Stripped back filmmaking techniques add to a family melodrama with dramatic consequences. Comic but dark, it’s bare presentation enable a tactile and heightened drama 

The Seventh Seal (1957)
An allegorical Swedish film that explores the meaning of life during the Middle Ages. Iconic imagery and the looming presence of a personified death makes the strange tone more palatable

Super Size Me (2004)
In the first few minutes, this doc made me feel very hungry. Very quickly I could have felt more sick. From the Michael Moore school of shock-tactic documentary filmmaking, Morgan Spurlock presents a entertainingly shocking expose on McDonalds, though it proves nothing we didn’t already know 

Sideways (2004)
A totally wonderful, if pretentious, comedy drama about two friends on a week of wine tasting in California. It benefits from Paul Giamatti’s brilliant performance that distracts from the, quite frankly, dull conceit of wine tasting

Broadcast News (1987)
A romantic satirical comedy about the world of network television news reporting. James L. Brooks delivers his typical wit as Writer/Director, and the cast are all on top form, with Holly Hunter delivering a particularly stunning performance

School of Rock (2003)
One of the best comedy movies of all time. Feel good, uplifting and sending a host of great messages to kids, it’s an absolute blast from start to end 

Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Filled with iconic lines, ridiculous circumstances and questionable CGI, this crowd pleasing action film is terrible, terrible fun

Judas and the Black Messiah (2020)
An evocative and provoking biopic about the allegorical betrayal of Fred Hampton. Daniel Kaluuya fully earns his Oscar win, with LaKeith Stanfield beautifully portraying the conflicted nature of his character

Shrek (2001)
Watching Shrek on its 20th anniversary is a stunning experience, because it was such a fresh film that it still hasn’t aged. A beautiful story with strong messages, brilliant music and an excellent voice cast to match

Swiss Army Man (2016)
A uniquely surreal comedy about a stranded man who develops a friendship with a sentient corpse. Excellent performances and a beautiful score make up for a weaker third act

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Another cinema trip, this time to see the classic action blockbuster on the big screen. Stunning set pieces and an excellent twist on the original’s story make it one of the best sequels ever made

Pusher (1996)
An impressive gangster debut for Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. A gritty and grounded crime drama featuring an excellent early performance from Kim Bodnia (Killing Eve), aswell as Mads Mikkelsen’s feature debut

People Places Things (2015)
A wonderfully sweet comedy drama with a typically great performance from Jemaine Clement. With a simple but effective story of a struggling single parent, it’s a joy to watch 

Godzilla VS. Kong (2021)
Loud, dumb and stupidly fun. When the titular stars are on screen, it’s fantastic blockbuster entertainment; it’s just a shame that a lot of the film is spent with the dull performance of Millie Bobbie Brown and the rest of the underdeveloped human characters

Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands (2004)
Dirty and grit-filled, this sequel maintains a similar tone and story to the first, but this time puts Mads Mikkelsen in the leading role. Another harsh slice of the Danish criminal underground from the director of ‘Drive’

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
A rare classic horror that remains as nasty, shocking and intense as ever. By not showing the worst of the violence, your mind is able to imagine much worse than what low budget effects would ever have achieved

Primer (2004)
An impressive and cerebral low-budget feature about two friends who accidentally invent time travel. Stripped back of thrills in favour of philosophical arguments, it’s a striking piece of work

The French Connection (1971)
A technically proficient and well made thriller, even if its dated style and low-energy finale will alienate some modern viewers. Iconic scenes and a great central performance keep the slow-burn story afloat

Her (2013)
A breathtakingly beautiful deconstruction of the sci-fi genre, trading dystopian misery for achingly romantic optimism. Another excellent performance from Joaquin Phoenix and stunning pastel cinematography make for a truly great film

Vampyr (1932)
Vampyr is a stylish showcase of atmospheric technical achievements, but unfortunately leaves much to be desired in the pacing and narrative departments

300 (2006)
Has there ever been a more fitting film to symbolise “style over substance”? Epic fight scenes help maintain an overlong film with too little narrative

Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)
Another silent comedy masterclass from Buster Keaton. Fast paced with fantastic gags, and sporting one of cinema’s most remarkable achievements (the cyclone scene), it’s a fabulously entertaining affair

Thelma and Louise (1991)
A classic road trip movie that makes an iconic duo of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. Filled with heart, thrills and laughs, it’s a real crowd pleaser of a film 

Chicago (2002)
An exuberant musical adaptation from director Rob Marshall. Exquisite cinematography and pitch perfect performances from all involved are accompanied by zippy editing and lavish design. A true musical masterpiece

Hellraiser (1987)
An entertainingly dramatic horror which revels in its own bizarre aesthetics. A supernatural tale of sadomasochistic beings with excellent creature effects

Serpico (1973)
Al Pacino shines in a powerful follow up performance to the Godfather as he plays a police officer whistleblowing on his corrupt department. A thrilling film that only suffers from its inability to add further heightened drama due to it being a true story

American Beauty (1999)
Not much to say about this one. It’s a filmmaking masterclass in every department from writing to directing, scoring to editing, from its performances to its cinematography. An all time favourite and must watch 

The Room (2003)
The pinnacle of “so bad it’s good” filmmaking, The Room is a monumental failure. A terrible script, weak acting and a bizarre tone all contribute to the Citizen Kane of bad films, and a hugely entertaining film watching experience 

Fateful Findings (2012)
If The Room is “so bad it’s good” then this is “so bad it’s bad”. Neil Breen (writer, director, lead actor and the rest) is a personality chasm, sucking all life from every scene of his hilariously bad movie

A Quiet Place (2018)
One of my favourite horror films that uses the usually clichéd jump scare to evoke the feelings of the characters. Tense and short, it’s an absolute thrill

A Quiet Place Part II (2020)
While lacking in the same class, logic and freshness of the first film, this sequel still shares the same thrills as its predecessor. Cillian Murphy adds a needed new dimension to a perfectly entertaining sequel

Unforgiven (1992)
That year’s Best Picture winner presents an exquisitely performed tale that deconstructs the romanticised violence of the classic western. 62-Year-Old Eastwood stars and directs with the same energy of his 30 year old self

See you next month for June’s watchlist!

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