Monthly Film Roundup: January 2023

Films Watched: 22

How Many Were First-Time Watches: 21

Best Films: Goodfellas (1990), Babylon (2022), Funny Girl (1968)

New Releases: White Noise, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, A Man Called Otto, The Pale Blue Eye, Empire Of Light, Till, M3GAN, Plane, Babylon, Pinocchio, Aftersun, Tár


Goodfellas (1990)
As fast moving as it is fast talking, Scorsese’s crime blockbuster is the high point of his illustrious filmmaking career. A dizzying portrait of gangster life, with the ensemble cast all delivering stellar performances alongside a showcase of technical achievements

White Noise (2022)
An entertaining but aimless adaptation of Don DeLillo’s postmodern novel. Noah Baumbach adapts and directs with his usual flair, and the cast perform well, but this ambitious project doesn’t quite work and comes off a little too disorienting. However, one key highlight is Danny Elfman delivering one of his best scores in years

I Wanna Dance With Somebody (2022)
Visually uninspired and poorly scripted, this biopic is just about as ‘by the numbers’ as they can come. Naomi Ackie delivers a decent enough performance, but her lip syncing along with original Huston tracks is incredibly unconvincing, meaning all emotional connection is totally lost from what should be powerful musical numbers

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
The crazy world of street art, told by its most famous character, is documented in a wonderfully entertaining way. Banksy’s filmmaking debut is comedic and self assured, with an interesting insight into his world of creation

Love and Sex (2000)
Simple but effective, this romcom is a forgettable but entertaining romp. With a refreshingly ‘complicated’ love story, the  central pair of Famke Janssen and Jon Favaru have good chemistry

The Impossible (2012)
A horrifying and impactful disaster drama, but one let down by a disappointing screenplay with jilted dialogue. Thankfully, strong performances and well crafted production value make for a worthy true story retelling

A Man Called Otto (2022)
Tom Hanks shines in a melancholic drama that isn’t afraid to engage in gallows humour. Though it treads fairly familiar ground, the lethal combination of widowers and Thomas Newman music means that even the toughest viewers would struggle not to shed a tear or five

Funny Girl (1968)
Barbara Streisand’s first film performance remains one of the most revelatory debuts in history. Her voice and comedy talents, combined with some mightily impressive technical achievements, makes for a fantastically entertaining musical

The Pale Blue Eye (2022)
The almost exclusively British cast is an embarrassment of riches in this American mystery that revels in Gothic Horror. Though the plot leaves a fair bit to be desired, the design and atmosphere still make for entertaining viewing

Empire of Light (2022)
Though it has some moments of wonder, the majority of this film is a well performed but plodding affair. The surface-level handling of race and mental health issues let’s down what is otherwise a well-shot movie with another great performance from Olivia Coleman 

Till (2022)
Though it lacks any real cinematic flair, this retelling of a shocking true story remains important viewing. Danielle Deadwyler’s stunning breakthrough performance anchors the film in a rich emotion for a narrative that feels sickeningly vital 

Late Night (2019)
A satirical look into the comedy and politics behind an American late-night talk show. It’s corny and totally predictable, but Mindy Kaling’s quippy dialogue and Emma Thompson’s smashing performance makes this film an entertaining 90 minutes. 

M3GAN (2022)
An entertaining premise, but one foiled by a weak storyline and some poor supporting performances. It lacked enough comedy or horror to justify either genre, and ultimately became a fairly boring affair

Plane (2023)
Thinly plotted and lacking enough action, this Gerard Butler thriller is still a fairly entertaining affair. Giving a fun twist on the ‘plane crash landing’ narrative, it’s an easy watch, but one that you’ll also easily forget

Jack Reacher (2012)
The film may have its flaws, but Christopher McQuarrie’s first directorial feature with Tom Cruise remains a mightily entertaining watch. Classy in its execution and sporting several notable action scenes, it was a promising early sign of things to come from the collaborating pair

Babylon (2022)
Despite its 3hr runtime, not once does this audacious film ever outstay its welcome. Exquisitely performed, stunningly shot, amazingly scored – this movie is a filthy odyssey through Hollywood’s debauched past, and I loved every second of it

Pinocchio (2022)
Guillermo del Toro brings his usual dark imagination to this classic fairytale, with typically wonderful results. It’s a little long and not all of it works, but on a whole this remains a beautifully hand-animated treat

Aftersun (2022)
There’s simple but effective, but for me (and I’m aware I’m in the minority) this narrative was so simple that the emotional catharsis was totally lost. That said, this remains a beautifully shot, sweetly performed and understated coming of age drama

Tár (2022)
A wholly singular vision of one conductors obsession with perfection, despite her own imperfections. Though it looses steam in the final act, this is a well crafted and stunningly performed character piece 

The Weather Man (2005)
Nicolas Cage delivers a typically great performance, but this dark comedy fumbles a lot of its blacker themes. A key issue comes from Michael Caine’s decision to do an ‘American’ accent, with varying levels of success

Extraction (2020)
As with many of these Netflix thrillers, Extraction sports some impressive action filmmaking, but a hugely lacking screenplay. A weak narrative and far too light on character development culminate in a sub-par thriller

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (2022)
A wonderfully charming sex-positive comedy drama. Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack deliver fantastic performances in this well written and tender two-hander

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