Assassin’s Creed

– as a moderate fan of the games, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this moderately enjoyable. It ticks most of the boxes for fun, even where it fails on story and overloads on style above substance.

La La Land

– hyped beyond all reasonable expectation, this is nonetheless an impressive piece of cinema, likely to trump even the most cynical of viewers (of which I was one). That said, it’s not without its issues: the dreams vs love moral is troubling at best, and it’s manipulative in its narrative, leaving you valuing a year long whirlwind romance over a long term stable marriage.

Sully

– Tom Hanks saves the flight, but perhaps not the lacklustre film, despite a consistently strong performance throughout. How many times can you show a plane landing on a river?

Snitch

– probably the closest the big man has come to actually having to act, and bizarre to see him in a vulnerable role, but sadly the film is built upon a plot of sand, and the whole thing is too stupid to enjoy

The Jungle Book

– surprisingly excellent – a well crafted CG world and characters who stayed (mostly) true to the original. A shame it pulled a few punches, and reached a questionable conclusion about man in the animal kingdom!

Creep

– I started intrigued, amused and definitely ‘creeped’ and then it dragged for a good 30 minutes. The finale was tidy and smartly executed but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re really into off the wall indie horrors.

Midnight Special

– Po-faced, sulky and soulless movie, borderline tedious. Great music though. To quote an IMDb comment: “Nichols forgot to give his movie a pulse. How can a story about intense paternal love, faith, and transcendence feel this lifeless?”

Dope

– cool, feel good vibes are the 90s beating heart of this teen coming of age flick. There are a couple of missteps, and some odd scripting, but overall this is a lot of fun, and curiously nostalgic.

Cop Car

– the wonderfully simple and yet bizarre journey of two boys who find an abandoned cop car. Perhaps not the most pleasing resolution, but top marks for originality.

Sicario

– For the second time. This firmly occupies a spot in my top ten films of all time list. Astounding, heart pounding, breath-taking from start to finish.

Injustice

– surprisingly strong turn from Chris Evans, very good acting. Hard to like the film overall though. It tries too hard and has a pretty flat aesthetic throughout. I found it an unrewarding experience.

Mississippi Grind

– Very interesting but frustratingly unsatisfying. I’m on the fence about this one. I left the cinema deeply introspective and curious about the story, but that same intrigue leaves you agonised at the lack of resolution.

The Program

– Terrific acting from Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd and all the cast. It’s an eye-opening tale even in hindsight. How Armstrong got away with it for so long and so flagrantly is unfathomable.

Spectre

– Mixed emotions on this. Undeniably a spectacle and a feast, but even for Bond’s universe, there are simply too many questionmarks over the plot. Some ill judged and sickeningly cheesy scenes really undermine the overall stylised aesthetic as well. Whilst the set pieces and Bond tropes are all on point, the plot as a whole is very weak and uncomfortably contrived.

Jurassic World

– If you ignore the agonising voice of Basil Exposition and overlook the McGuffin brothers, this is almost exactly what you’d expect, but a lot more fun. Wisecracks, iconic shot frames, and lots of awesome dinosaurs. I had a blast.

The Book of Eli

– never fails to entertain although sadly the product placement has become more evident as one brand in particular has gained traction in the past few years. Otherwise a terrific film.

The Gambler

– albeit nowhere near as bad as I had prepared myself to endure, even for a fan of Marky Mark Wahlberg this was a bit of a slog. Unlikely and unlikeable characters fill a mostly uninteresting plot. That said, it’s delivered with conviction. Ultimately pretty average.

Love

– Pretentious nonsense, and an exercise in audience tolerance. One of the most boring films I have had the mispleasure of watching. Stick with The Signal instead – a much better effort by the same director.

Exodus

– A pleasure to see a top cast at the top of their game. A pity that the story is so bat-shit crazy, a fact you can only truly appreciate with thanks to Ridley’s undeniably solid film making. Some baffling choices, but overall extremely impressive.

The Maze Runner

– Continues the trend of the surreal adultification of kids. Horribly scripted, badly acted, and filled with a cast in their mid to late twenties trying to be 15. The maze itself is dull, impossibly and bizarrely proportioned given its purpose and occupants, and the hastily explained premise feels superficial at best and utterly pathetic at worst. Agonising that this is what studios throw their weight and money behind these days and more agonising that it will probably be a (financially) successful franchise.

The November Man

– Brosnan back in comfortable shoes as government operative Peter (Bond by another name). Hackneyed and unoriginal, if moderately entertaining for at least the first two acts before crashing out with a nose dive.

The Third Man

– necessary viewing, but hardly the most exhilarating. The sewer chase is pretty iconic, and the visuals generally are sharp and striking. Other than that, this viewer was left unmoved.

24: Live Another Day

– As farcical, implausible and two dimensional as every other series of 24, this is a highly enjoyable, almost nostalgic return to the franchise. Ignore the thick American propaganda and stupid plot holes and you’ll have a blast.

Banshee S02

– Not quite up to the first season, and many of the show tropes are becoming a little worn, particularly the seemingly obligatory drawn out sex scenes and flashbacks every episode, but it’s still fast paced and exciting enough.

47 Ronin

– Not great, but I enjoyed it. It’s too long, the CGI is horribly subpar, and both the script and editing are weak. Beyond that though, it ticks most of the boxes for entertainment value, just don’t expect too much.

Silicon Valley S01E01

– Unimpressive. Whilst the story picked up by the end of the episode and there was the vague compulsion to continue, the jokes were predominantly lame and it didn’t seem to bring anything new to the “nerd” genre.

The Bag Man

– Bizarre, badly made noire, that clearly spent its entire budget on the two leads. The final 30 minutes really drag and some of the sound work is appalling.

Out of the Furnace

– Not a bad film, just not particularly notable either. The script relies on too many tropes and permits too many contrivances, whilst the delivery lacks panache. Bale gives it his all as always.

All Is Lost

– Difficult to criticise but hard to like. Surpringly engrossing, if not gripping. Silent and bleak with some wonderful imagery in amongst the bad green screen. The abrupt ending and lack of conclusion is vexing.

The Great Gatsby

– Very strong performances negate some of Luhrman’s garish and plain bad directorial decisions (modern club music??! What?!), but the film somehow survives more or less intact (perhaps due to the “enduring” novel and DiCaprio). Better than expected.

Her

– An uneventful, peculiar and totally implausible pseudo-philosophical speculation on love and humanity. Engrossing in it’s novelty, but bland.

Casino

– Engrossing despite its length, and for the most part brilliantly scripted. The final act disappoints as characters make irrational decisions and contrivances begin popping up, but overall this is hugely enjoyable.

The Counsellor

– Sadly, whilst there’s a good movie hidden in there somewhere (at least, all the ingredients are there), it is disguised by horribly self-indulgent philosophising, gratuitous prurience, wooden dialogue, and a plot that is more convoluted than a knotted ball of string. Very disappointing.

A Hijacking

– Depressingly anticlimactic and overall not as thrilling as was marketed. A long film with flat pacing. Disappointingly, the strong acting doesn’t make it much more palatable.

Red Lights

– A three phase film: first exciting and intriguing, then a bit farfetched but entertaining, and finally agonisingly farcical and stupid. Dodgy editing as if they shot an epic and cut it down by a few hours, ruthlessly scattering key story elements along the way.

La Grande Bellazza

– Even for all its fans and plaudits, this is indubitably pretentious and full of itself. Interesting, occasionally insightful and no doubt beautifully shot, but frankly, I found it whiffed of Californication for Italiophiliac pensioners.

The Lazarus Project

– The late Paul Walker in something a little different. Intriguing, if not exacly fast paced. It feels like it’s trying a bit hard, but nonetheless kept me mystified even through the last few minutes. A pity the same story wasn’t executed with a little more finesse all round.

Rififi

– Infuriatingly typical. Interesting enough (just about) right up until the third act where everything falls apart and Hollywood’s sense of morality kicks in, resulting in totally irrational behaviour and face palm coincidence. Given the era, perhaps it can be forgiven, but for people to still herald this as a standalone masterpiece, I think is very dubious.

Fresh

– a drugs runner and prodigy chess player applies chess tactics to find an edge in the real world. An enthralling movie and the inclusion of chess is certainly more than perfunctory.

Red 2

– Not half as enjoyable as the first, putting far too much emphasis on the ditzy Sarah (Mary Louise-Parker) and her boring relationship with Bruce Willis. It is still entertaining, but the novelty and sense of inappropriate fun has gone.

Gravity

– A cinematic spectacle unlike any other, the skill and artistry of direction and sound design inspires wonder. Unfortunately, the lacklustre script is very generic Hollywood fare and doesn’t offer a plot or dialogue to do the rest justice, dragging the film just shy of perfection. Unmissable though.

The Internship

– Indubitably one epic advert for Google, but once it picks up the pace it’s as loveable as we’ve come to expect from Vaughn and Wilson (and their incessant cheery banter). That duo have the charisma of Gandalf and they turn tricks well too. Watch it with the knowledge it’s a farce and you can’t help but be entertained!

Magnolia

– An absolutely transformative piece; perfectly crafted, magnificently acted and potentially life changing. Paul Thomas Anderson is marked with unique, masterful skill – the Dostoevsky of film.

The Hunters (Jagarna 1)

– As with it’s sequel, a promising start and an accidental killing descends in to reckless, wanton and uncharacteristically pernicious acts by the killers, leaving an extremely frustrating and deeply implausible second and third act. Infuriating to watch despite the quality of production and cinematography.

Veronica Guerin

– Compelling and harrowing tale of the journalist exposing the drug underworld in Ireland. Blanchett gives an excellent performance reminding us why she’s one of the best in the biz.

Rear Window

– Honestly very disappointing. The potential didactic subtext surrounding Miss Lonely Heart and any number of exciting twists are overlooked in favour of a simple, uninventive and frankly ‘too obvious’ ending. Given the hype surrounding this classic, I was expecting significantly more.

Iron Man 3

– as always highly entertaining and enthralling, but there were three things I couldn’t reconcile – panic Attacks; regenerating, fire breathing mutants (!!! WTF !!!) and the boss battle which ends TDKR style (the killing blow going to someone other than Iron Man). Worth watching for Ben Kingsley alone though.

Roger Dodger

– Roger is such a smug, unlikeable character from the off that it’s difficult even to tolerate him, let alone enjoy the frustratingly bland and vacuous sex quest he embarks upon with his nephew. Irksome camera and lighting techniques further detract from the unconvinving proceedings.

Full Metal Jacket

– One of the all time great war films. The duality of man, the futility of war, the base human drives and emotions that inexplicably keep us all fighting, and killing, to stay alive. At times a little self-indulgent, this is nonetheless powerful and melancholic viewing.

Shotgun Stories

– albeit anticlimactic and a little unconvincing, this is nonetheless a beautifully told story of familial hostility, with strong performances and picturesque cinematography. Ultimately the whole piece feels frustratingly cyclical and inconclusive, but that is likely the whole point.

Another Earth

– thought provoking and touching, but a little too slow and uneventful to wholeheartedly recommend. Strong performances from both Mapother and Marling, especially considering the difficult nature of their parallel grief.

Scarecrow

– A difficult, unexpected viewing. An unlikely friendship emerges between two roadside travelers that evolves in to deep companionship. Uneven pacing makes watching this more effort than it ought to be, but the resulting climax is both poignant and thought-provoking. Terrific performances and a philosophical script.

When Harry Met Sally

– As much as I wanted to dislike this, it really is irresistibly loveable, which is something, considering that’s pretty much the synopsis of the movie too. A brilliant script makes up for some ups and downs. Top caricature performances and a top rom com.

Network

– A highly original and cutting edge classic, but 37 years on it can’t help but suffer. A great concept that loses momentum too soon and concludes with a disappointingly farcical crash.

Brick

– everything about this annoyed me, from the whiny smug kid voices to the convoluted ‘2 kool 4 skool’ direction, to Gordon Levitt’s deadpan glutton for punishment. The whole thing dripped self importance and wannabe indie-cool. Nauseating.

The Woodsman

– given its controversial topic and potential for daring filmmaking, albeit interspersed with the occasional standout scene, this generally pulls it’s punches. There are a few better films on the subject.

Brothers Bloom

– thoroughly enjoyable, if overly convoluted conman flick. It doesn’t always make sense, and you get the feeling it’s trying a little too hard, but it’s feel good and charismatic.

Margin Call

– Most frustrating. Some excellent performances, especially from Bettany, are undermined by a bad script that fails on multiple levels. The story is obscured by platitudes, sloppy metaphors, cliches and exposition.

A Dangerous Method

– either the film failed to do justice to the story or the story was simply not compelling enough to warrant the film. Good if unremarkable performances, although Knightley was always going to be a weak link.

Lawless

– A solid prohibition piece that lacks the panache to elevate it from the rest and falls to a few unfortunate cliches. Performances are average, but it’s nonetheless an interesting, biographical ride if you’re fond of the genre.

The Irony Lady

– Streep’s performance is excellent, and the focus is firmly on Thatcher’s character and personal life rather than her politics, which I think can only be a good thing. Not bad as biopics go.

Spider

– Mismarketed in my view. It’s a snail paced exploration of mental illness more or less from a first person perspective. Not my bag really, but an interesting watch.