First Viewings: 39
Creed II / Apollo 11
Two very different films were my highlights this month. On the one hand we have the eighth in Sylvester Stallone's enduring Rocky series, which also happens to be one of the best in this forty year franchise. The film delivers the expected training and boxing beats, but wraps them in an affecting story about different ways of experiencing and dealing with being a father and a son. Michael B. Jordan and Stallone are both brilliant. July's other highlight is one of several documentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It's a masterwork of editing, piecing the story together through stunningly remastered footage and linking it with archival voices and an electronic score made with instruments available at the time, all conspiring to plunge you 50 years back in time.
The Right Stuff / Bumblebee
Another film about space (and, technically, one about an alien). I'd seen The Right Stuff a few years ago and liked it a lot, but seeing it projected on 35mm drew me even further into the dynamic between the Mercury astronauts (great performances from Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid and more) and the contrasting story of Chuck Yeager. On the other hand, I'd never liked the Transformers films, until I saw Bumblebee last year. A rewatch only strengthened it, bringing home how, despite the cliches, it sells its coming of age story with the help of an underrated and genuinely excellent performance from Hailee Steinfeld, as well as delivering the series' best and, not coincidentally, most intelligible, action sequences.
The Dead Don’t Die / Dark Crimes
I went into some detail regarding everything I hated about Jim Jarmusch's zombie movie, which is both painfully arch and desperately unfunny, a well as being so poorly written and put together as to feel unfinished. Dark Crimes has many more things to answer for besides its none more generic title, chiefly the hilarious miscasting of an unconvincingly grizzled Jim Carrey as a brooding Polish detective. The story is run of the mill sub Scandi-noir, but it does manage one blessed moment of interest in the very last scene, as an otherwise wasted Charlotte Gainsbourg finally decides to show up and deliver a solid monolgue.
Best Actor: Michael B. Jordan: Creed II / Dennis Price: Kind Hearts and Coronets
Best Actress: Laia Costa: Only You
Better Than The Film: Kristoffer Joner: The Quake
Best Director: Todd Douglas Miller: Apollo 11 / Robert Hamer: Kind Hearts and Coronets
One(s) To Watch: Todd Douglas Miller (Director/Editor): Apollo 11 / Eleanor Worthington-Cox (Actress): Gwen / Isobel Waller-Bridge (Composer): Vita & Virginia
Best Visuals: Gwen (Director: William McGregor / Cinematographer: Adam Etherington)
Best Score/ Use of Music: Use of I Want You (Elvis Costello): Only You / Matt Morton: Apollo 11 / Isobel Waller Bridge: Vita & Virginia
Biggest Surprise: Malibu Rescue
Biggest Disappointment: The Dead Don’t Die
I'm Pretty Sure No One Else Has Seen This: Malibu Rescue
Movie I Finally Got to See: Hand of Death / Kind Hearts and Coronets