Monthly Film Roundup: February 2023

Films Watched: 18

How Many Were First-Time Watches: 14

Best Films: The Whale (2022), All Quiet on the Western Front (2022), Puss In Boots: The Last Wish (2022)

New Releases: The Fabelmans, The Whale, Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, Knock at the Cabin, Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania, Women Talking, Cocaine Bear, What’s Love Got To Do With It?


The Fabelmans (2022)
Sometimes it strays into the overly sentimental, but this film remains an absolute treat – what an honour to witness Spielberg’s autobiography play out using the medium he loves best. A heartwarming and totally charming coming of age movie about a kid who loves making movies 

The Whale (2022)
Darren Aranofsky delivers another wholly singular film, this time exploring depression, eating disorders and mortality. Brendan Fraser’s stunningly powerful performance goes much deeper than the brilliant prosthetic work, and together with Sadie Sink they present an incredibly moving piece of drama

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022)
Beautifully animated and sporting an excellent voice cast, this sequel is miles better than it had any right to be. Delivering spades of action, humour and heart, the Shrek franchise hasn’t been this good since 2004.

Knock at the Cabin (2023)
Despite a maintained creepy atmosphere, this restrained M. Night thriller lacks the punch of his best work. The narrative lacks logic, the characters are thin and the acting is often a little hammy

I’m Still Here (2010)
A strangely unique mockumentary about Joaquin Phoenix’s decision to retire from acting and become a rapper. He successfully parodies his artistic-self, but the whole film struggles to overcome being just a piece of performative art

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Occasionally it tonally stumbles around the fact that the story just isn’t child friendly, but on a whole this is a remarkable animation where Disney went darker than they ever had or will again. Wonderfully designed and boasting some impressively powerful music, it’s still a triumphant gothic tale

Pocahontas (1995)
It’s well meaning and pretty, but despite all best efforts this is a softer and overall duller entry in the Disney-renaissance. The main issues come from the bland villain and blasé attitude to historical accuracy, but Alan Menken once again works wonders in the music department

Titanic (1997)
A well-framed and gut wrenching blockbuster that perfectly combines a micro love tale with a macro disaster. It’s the last time James Cameron put story on a level peg to spectacle, and it still packs a real emotional punch

Into The Woods (2014)
An uneven but entertaining Sondheim adaptation that doesn’t shy away from the complex nature of its source material. Admittedly the stage show shares similar narrative issues, but great performances make for a fun fairytale musical

Beauty and The Beast (1991)
Massively aided by Alan Menken’s Oscar Winning songs and score, this fairytale adaptation might just be the brightest jewel in Disney’s crown. Wonderfully animated, tonally well-pitched and economical with its storytelling, it’s a fantastic tale as old as time

Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
Imagine if The Rise of Skywalker merged with the Hitchhikers Guide, but was worse than the sum of its parts. This entertaining but tonally misguided sequel is better than its predecessor, but once again proves that Peyton Reed is as derivative a filmmaker as they come

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Starring a then-married Cruise and Kidman, Kubrick’s thrilling final film explores the sexual promiscuity of monogyny with thrilling results. Though the mystery is lethargic in its unfolding, it still makes an interesting commentary about the human psyche

Aladdin (1992)
Featuring one of Robin Williams’ defining roles, Disneys animated adaptation of the Middle Eastern folk tale has its issues, but the merits thankfully outweigh them. Several excellent songs carry the colourful movie to an entertaining conclusion

Women Talking (2022)
A powerful peaceful protest against male violence towards women. Sometimes it struggles with its un-cinematic content, but writer/director Sarah Polley still delivers a moving drama with a fantastic ensemble cast

Cocaine Bear (2023)
It’s a bear getting high off it’s tits on cocaine and going on a rampage. When the bear is on screen it’s entertaining, when it isn’t you’re left with an overdone bunch of b-list characters playing out uninteresting subplots. Good fun, don’t watch with kids

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)
No War film is really ‘pro’ conflict, but rarely has there been one that demonstrates it’s futility quite so powerfully. Stunningly crafted and devastatingly brutal, it’s as Anti-War as filmmaking can get in a time when that’s most needed

What’s Love Got To Do With It (2023)
It doesn’t have enough rom, com, or Tina Turner, but this lighthearted Brit flick still offers a fun perspective on assisted marriage. It’s main issue comes from the films’ insistence to use overdone ‘Richard Curtis-isms’ rather than finding a unique filmmaking voice

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