Coda – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant and Eugenio Derbez. Directed by Sian Heder Written by Sian Heder Length: 111mins

As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), Ruby Rossi (Jones) is the only hearing person in her family. We are steadily introduced to the life that the Rossi’s have created for themselves, the family fishing business as a key part of their day to day routine and Ruby serves as the ears on the boat listening out for the radio calls, and plays translator when communicating with the other fishermen. But when the future of their fishing business is threatened, Ruby is torn between following her passion to get into Berklee College of Music and the heavy weight of abandoning her family at a time they need her most.

There’s nothing spectacular in the plot, nothing that’s particularly unexpected or included to shock the audience. Just a story of normal people, their struggles and how they grow together to resolve their issues. Although a simple plot, the characters are written well. Each character within the focal family has their own opinion on their familial situation and as we get to know them as the audience, the slight differences show through and the cracks start to show. It’s a situation where even if you disagree with a characters opinions or demands, you are given enough information or emotion to at least realise why they might feel the way that they do – I appreciate that sounds pretty basic but it creates an atmosphere where none of the characters (apart from the high school bullies) are the ‘bad guy’.

 I did find it a bit difficult at the beginning of the film in the family scenes, because I was trying to watch the performances at the same time as read the subtitles; an element that I’m certainly not complaining about but just had to adapt as a viewer. Having said this, it didn’t take long to adapt and it’s really quite incredible to see the skill of emotional and comedic acting while the actors are also communicating through sign language. All of the performances were strong, Troy Kotsur was obviously recognised by the Academy as well as other award bodies. Emilia Jones played the lead brilliantly, audiences can really feel the emotional tug of war that she plays throughout, all while dealing with the usual teenage ‘stuff’ that everyone faces throughout education. Daniel Durant and  Eugenio Derbez also gave really memorable performances that broadened the character mix, keeping the film and it’s little twists and turns interesting. 

In all honesty, I’m a little bit torn on it’s Best Picture win. I loved the film but it definitely felt like more of a ‘viewers choice’ than an academy choice. I say this lightly as it’s probably one of my favourite best picture winners, but it lacked some of the elements that you would usually expect from the nominated films. Perhaps it’s a shift in how the academy is voting or maybe the film moved it’s voters so much that they didn’t care about what is usually done. Either way it doesn’t matter, Coda gained the film worlds greatest accolade and I truly hope that more people see it because of their win, because it’s a movie that should be seen. 

I had the privilege of watching Coda with a good friend of mine who is hard of hearing herself and who has hearing loss within her family. I think most would struggle to hold their tears in by the end of the movie, but to watch my friend well up and comment on moments, sharing “thats how ****** felt” or “I can totally relate to that” made me realise that even as someone who tries to be considerate to people, not knowing how well they can hear or see etc…that I haven’t always considered just how difficult and exhausting it must be to struggle with a disability that is invisible and can be so devastatingly isolating. Coda helped me open my mind and be more aware of being deliberately kind rather than ‘passively decent’, to anyone around me who may be struggling.  

Coda is so pure, and it deserves to be seen. If it’s showing at your local cinemas I urge you to watch it on the big screen, but if not, you can find it on Apple TV. 

Nosferatu – Classic Review

Rating: PG
Cast: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wagenheim and Greta Schröder
Directed by F.W. Murnau
Length: 94mins

At times, amongst the long list of films to watch and endless possibilities that streaming services can provide, it can seem as if film is one medium that’s been around for an eternity. And yet, from every great drama to intriguing thriller, all of this has come about within only the last one hundred years, taking us all the way back to the topic of today’s review – F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic horror film, ‘Nosferatu’. 

Adapted from Bram Stoker’s iconic ‘Dracula’ novel, the story tells of the truly terrifying Count Orlok and his stalking of a small town estate agent who, along with his wife, is unfortunate enough to become the target of the Transylvanians’ hauntings. Perhaps best known from the iconic still of Count Orlok sneaking up the stairs of the innocent couple’s home, framed amongst the gloom of the night as a deeply unsettling silhouette, highlighting the shadow which has been cast over the town by his arrival, Murnau’s film is an early masterclass in what can be achieved through visual symbolism. The curled and decrepit hands of our antagonist frequently send a chill down the audience’s spine, providing so much horror in only a small detail, as if such a hand might reach over your own shoulder as you watch the film yourself.

Of course, a silent, black and white film from 1922 is probably not top of too many people to-watch lists, understandably so. However, the film isn’t too lengthy and delivers an impactful, suspenseful eighty minutes of classic horror. Through having to tell its story entirely visually – as well as with the help of the occasional title card – the storytellers work creatively throughout the runtime to convey complex emotions and unsettle the viewer on a great many occasions.

Depictions of Dracula, the popular cult figure who’s often recognised by their pale complexion and fang-like front teeth, are so familiar to us in this day and age that to go back and see such iconic details first being brought to the big screen is something truly impressive. The makeup department and set design work brilliantly on the film to establish each location as another innocent place for their haunting ‘Nosferatu’ to cast his shadow over.

It’s not often that a film turns 100, and with specialist showings being projected throughout the country, perhaps now is the time to take a chance on a film that you may not have previously considered sitting down and enjoying. There’s so much interesting filmmaking at play here, culminating in a great number of iconic sequences, as well as the excitement of seeing Nosferatu, perhaps the first true horror villain, creeping across the screen.

Ambulance – Review

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, Garret Dillahunt, KeirO’Donnell and Jackson White.
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Chris Fedak
Length: 136mins

Michael Bay’s Ambulance is tale of two estranged brothers, Danny (Gyllenhaal) and Will (Abdul-Mateen), and a bank heist gone wrong. Based on a 2005 Danish picture of the same name Michael Bay drags the story out to a much longer telling of the story. While the plot is relatively basic, Bay manages to pad out the movie with a whole lot of extra ‘stuff’, some of it nonsensical and some of it to add the Michael Bay wow-factor. 

Watching this film was unusual for me, mostly because having watched the trailer a couple of times I thought it looked awful. The trailer really put me off. It’s a pity, because at the core of the film, partially concealed by Bay’s posturing is a relatively slickly executed action film – Danny and Will hijack an ambulance: inside is a critically injured cop and a ballsy paramedic (González); outside are guns, explosives and a lot of very angry law enforcement officers. While in general I thought it was better than the trailer suggested it would be, it was frustratingly ridiculous at some points. I’m not just talking about the slow motion stunts or classic ‘Bay’ whoosh of a camera down the side of a building to heighten drama, but some of the core plot points, that used up so much time, just made no sense. One example that I can give without spoilers is a big emphasis on confusing the police by joining with other ambulances, thus stretching the polices attention and giving an opportunity to escape. However, the plan was to spray paint the focal ambulance, which makes no sense at all, and they spend so long discussing and achieving this and they somehow manage to slip a neon green ambulance past a police blockade…I’m all for a bit of creative licence, but it surely should be at least a tiny bit plausible! 

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal are fine; there’s nothing in their performances that will blow the audience away but that’s more down to a relatively basic script and character stereotypes.  The tension building is effective throughout, the score having a strong impact, however the whole film is a build. They don’t really let it drop, which either exhausts it’s viewers, or loses their attention. The film essentially plays out as one extra-long car chase, with Bay’s trademark direction present in all its glory. Throughout, Bay’s camera rarely stays still, sweeping and swooping through the LA streets as the ambulance does its best to evade the constantly growing police presence. This kinetic camerawork, coupled with Bay’s choppy editing style can at times leave it’s audience feeling nauseous. 

Despite it’s glaring flaws, audiences seem to quite enjoy it. Ambulance wasn’t for me – but I appreciate that many others might enjoy the escapism and high speed car chases to allow them to step into a couple of hrs without thinking about todays troubles. If you can forgive some nonsensical choices and enjoy a high speed action film, then there’s a good choice you’ll enjoy it. 

Red Rocket – Review

Rating: 18
Cast: Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Suzanna Son and Brenda Deiss,
Directed by Sean Baker
Written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch
Length: 130mins

Rising from the indie filmmaking scene in recent years, and becoming known as the director who innovated the low budget, iPhone-utilising style of storytelling, Sean Baker is progressively growing from one strength to the next. Perhaps best known for his previous two films, ‘Tangerine’ and ‘The Florida Project’ – the first of which made heavy use of non-professional performers, as well as being completely shot across three iPhone 5S’s, and the latter containing many similar traits, Baker is clearly a director who’s unafraid to try new ideas.

‘Red Rocket’ tells the story of an ex-porn star named MIkey Saber, who has to return to not only his small-town name of Mikey Davies, but the town itself, residing deep enough into Texas for the film to be engrossed in the strong drawl of the deep South. As previously mentioned, Baker clearly has a love for working with unconventional actors, a technique which brilliantly builds the world of ‘Red Rocket’. Led by a former MTV performer in Simon Rex, as well as other cast members being scouted whilst waiting tables or walking their dog, there’s a clear authenticity in the way they bring their characters to life, which merges perfectly with the impulsive camera movements and narrative points of the film. Simon Rex in particular stands out, delivering what could be argued as one of the greatest performances so far this year. Throughout the film, you’re unsure as to whether you love him or loathe him, and yet if you read about the actions of Mikey Saber in some newspaper article, you’d never have any doubt than to pin him as a villain. To play with the audience’s emotions in such a way takes true talent, and considering that Rex only had a three-day trans-American drive to prepare for the role, as well as filming the entire movie without the knowledge of his agent, it all seems to have turned out fairly well.

Texas has a habit in films of being portrayed as a low-poverty area that appears unwelcoming to newcomers, but is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entirety of the US. ‘Red Rocket’ never claims anything on the contrary, but is undeniably infatuated with the skylines that plague this strange and chaotic land. Cinematographer Drew Daniels’ lens captures the South in its most tender moments, with the pinks and oranges of the lit-up sky providing a perfect backdrop to the donut shop or rundown houses which comprise the majority of the film’s locations. Once again seeming to paint our ill-intentioned protagonist as a hero, the way in which the landscapes are shown throughout ‘Red Rocket’ merge deeper into the uncertainty over what the audience feels towards Mikey, as he eagerly bikes through town towards whichever poor soul is next to cross his path.

Although on the surface ‘Red Rocket’ may appear to be a deeply sad film about broken homes and corrupt relationships, there are some excellent moments of comedy littered throughout. Bakers’ talents when working with larger-than-life characters and exaggerated dialogue was one of ‘Tangerine’s’ greatest strengths, and is something that shines through in many scenes throughout ‘Red Rocket’. Moments of sincerity are interrupted by complete stupidity or foolishness in a way that never feels unjustified. The natural performances and style of Baker’s work remains consistently great throughout, making it hard for any cinema-goer to look away, even if they may want to.

‘Red Rocket’ might not break the box office or ever receive the recognition it deserves at mainstream awards shows, but it would be a shame to let the film slide away uncelebrated. Sean Baker has once again shown himself to be one of the most creative indie filmmakers today, with each new release bringing another delight to the table.

Uncharted – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas. Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle. Directed by Ruben Fleischer Written by Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Jon Hanley Rosenberg and Mark D. Walker Length: 116mins

Uncharted is a straightforward action/adventure flick and a bit of fun for all the family. Of our leading characters we have Nathan Drake (Holland), a tough kid with a passion for history, making money as a cocktail waiter/pickpocket, ripping off rich people in the bar and ‘Sully’ (Wahlberg) who observes Nate’s thieving and presents him with a proposition: a scene with similarities to that of George Clooney meeting Matt Damon for the first time in Ocean’s Eleven. Sully entices Nate into helping him track down a golden key that could lead them to riches, riches that Nate had heard about and studied with his brother, who incidentally is now missing. In preparation for their quest to seek out Magellan’s  16th century loot, Sully’s admission that he once knew Nate’s brother, only adds a personal drive for Nate to assist his new partner in crime. 

Nate and Sully’s relationship is the heart of the narrative, though the film takes an origin story approach in this first instalment. Our two heroes learn to trust each other as their adventure unfolds, even if the road to get there is a bumpy one. They’re a far cry from the chummy partners in crime that are portrayed in the origin materials, with Nate questioning Sully’s motives every step of the way. Chloe Fraser (Sophia Ali) adds an extra layer of intrigue as a fellow treasure hunter, with a steely focus and determination of her own. Nate is never quite sure who to trust, or if he can trust anyone at all.

Tom Holland is the real driving force of the film. He brings his usual ‘cheeky chap’ vibes while throwing himself fully into the widespread story. Wahlberg has been criticised for his role in this movie, it seems several fans of the games were upset with his casting initially, but his portrayal of Sully is a bit flat – it’s fine, but nothing to shout about. Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle bring sass and strength to both of their characters which helps to broaden the overall feel of the movie. Of course, Antonio Banderas is the ultimate family movie villain, he’s just threatening enough to know he’s the ‘bad guy’ without engaging in a darker side that wouldn’t be appropriate for a movie of this type and certification. 

Uncharted isn’t a great action movie, but it is a good one. It’s definitely a good option as a film for all the family. It’s simplistic ‘solve the clues onto the next’ type plot doesn’t keep you guessing and it’s twists are obvious to audiences to enjoy a film of this genre. But purely based on entertainment value, I can’t really criticise it too much – it’s simple, possibly a bit forgetful, but enjoyable in the moment. 

The Duke – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren, Fionn Whitehead, Matthew Goode, Aimee Kelly and Charlotte Spencer
Directed by Roger Michell
Written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman
Length: 96mins

In August 1812, somewhere in Madrid, Francisco Goya painted the portrait of the Duke of Wellington, a tired but successful general. In August 1961, somewhere in Newcastle, bus driver Kempton Bunton – also tired, but hoping to be successful – headed down to London to steal the very same portrait. Starring classic British performers Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, ‘The Duke’ makes for an entertaining and easy-watching drama with an added layer of morality within its contempt for the rich-poor divide in the UK. 

Although Bunton (Broadbent) is not a man with a great deal of money to his name, ‘The Duke’ brilliantly shows the beauty in what he does have, and what is most precious to him – namely his family, and the burning desire inside of him to do right by others. He’s a clear hero to the story, allowing the real-life narrative to be framed as a quest for equality in the name of selflessness. Through the writing, as well as a delightfully playful use of music, the Bunton family are shown to be compassionate and caring people, who simply want to get along and make the world a little easier for those around them. A reflection of so many other families at the time, as well as in today’s world, it’s films like ‘The Duke’ which leave audiences with a deeper appreciation for what it is that they have, rather than what they feel they need – not something that can be said of many other heist films.

Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren’s natural chemistry on screen highlights the talent shared between the two, which has been cultivated through years of experience. Whether they’re dancing around their living room whilst the radio signs happily, or battling a speechless argument through facial expressions and simple gestures, the relationship experienced by the audience is one that has clearly had its ups and downs, but remains strong throughout. Furthermore, Fionn Whitehead’s performance as their youngest son brings a great new dynamic to the family, as well as some charmingly funny moments between father and son. 

In terms of the crime itself, the absurdly grand nature of its occurrence contrasts brilliantly with the simple nature in which it’s carried out, as well as presented within the film. The idea of waltzing into the National Gallery and picking out a piece of century-old artwork for the good of the working class may seem like something out of a Billy Bragg song, but the fact that this actually took place is heartwarming, and allows for some great moments of humour amongst the severity of its action. The film works really well to frame this scene as a moment of comedy, and reflects the mischievous, schoolboy nature of Bunton shown within most other moments in the story.

From a filmmaking standpoint, ‘The Duke’ isn’t going to be breaking any barriers or pioneering any techniques, but it sets out to tell its story in a way which is fair to its non-fiction roots, and manages exactly that. There’s a distinct charm amongst the performers and filmmakers at work here which British productions often seem to so easily tap into. For anyone wishing to experience two hours of unbridled positivity amongst situations which aren’t always the easiest, ‘The Duke’ is definitely the film for you. 

The Batman – Review

Rating: 15 Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano and Andy Serkis Directed by Matt Reeves Written by Matt Reeves and Peter Craig Length: 175mins

One of the most anticipated movies of the year has landed after delays from it’s original release date due to Covid:19. A famous character, a famous city, a top billed cast and a whole lot of pressure to satisfy one of the more vocal fan bases. The Batman, presents us with the Riddler; a sadistic serial killer, who begins to murder key political figures in Gotham and forces Batman to investigate the city’s deep rooted corruption in positions of power, and causes our hero to question his own legacy. 

Immediately, audiences are going to compare this movie to The Dark Knight trilogy which is so well loved by many. Fans of the character seem fairly loyal to Christian Bale’s portrayal of Batman in the Christopher Nolan films which places a lot of pressure on Pattinson to perform. Pattinson is not shy of a challenge though, and while he shot to stardom in 2008 teen hit ‘Twilight’, he has constantly proven himself to be a highly skilled, deeply intricate performer. His presentation of Batman is fairly standard, it’s a shame we don’t get very much of Bruce Wayne in this film, while Pattinson is great as the Dark Knight, I don’t think he’s given very much material to utilise his abilities as an actor. Perhaps, if more films do follow, we will be allowed to explore more of Bruce Wayne’s personality rather than the vigilantes hard exterior. Having said this, I put none of this on Pattinson’s performance, he works intricately with the dialogue and plot that is in front of him, quietly portraying ‘vengeance’  and the dilemma that presents as the plot progresses. While the casting of our hero was largely talked about, no one seemed to doubt the immovable Zoe Kravitz when she was cast as Selena Kyle. Kravitz brings a really human reaction to the events in the film and the chemistry between her and Pattinson brings their shared scenes an exciting level of energy. Her mystery, vulnerability, strength and humanity create a really layered character and is captivating every moment she’s on screen. With a cast of this calibre it’s difficult to not write an essay on each performance, Paul Dano is haunting and unique in his role as Gotham’s sadistic villain, entirely captivating throughout andJeffrey Wright is solid in his portrayal as James Gordon, highlighting the characters’ need for justice to prevail even when surrounded by corruption.

The length of this film may be it’s downfall. At a run time of nearly three hours it’s a commitment to ask of a paying audience. While the majority of the film remains captivating, I feel like the first half hour could take cuts without anything being lost to the story. It’s a shame, as the rest of the content really does serve the plot. While a slow start may put people off, I hope that they give the rest of the movie the attention it deserves.

Matt Reeves takes on a very particular challenge with this movie, no doubt aware of the big boots it has to fill and the comparison that would follow. Reeves somehow manages to create a real piece of art with this film, visually it’s really impressive; it’s dark, yes, but that’s to be expected in Gotham. They took such care with the choices around cinematography and I think it paid off beautifully, theres a lovely balance between pleasing the technical ‘film buff’ and the ‘Batman fan’ and I hope that audiences recognise the detail put into creating the overall look and feel of the world we step into. 

The plot is great. It’s clever without being confusing, it’s not predictable and has so much intricacy written into the dialogue that knits the film together. I personally really enjoyed seeing the detective side of our hero, it’s not just about rocking up and knocking out the ‘bad guys’ (though there is plenty of that, don’t worry), it’s a wise choice to move in a slightly different direction with the lead character, giving audiences a fresh perspective. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, it’s escapism at it’s finest, and as often is the way with hero movies, allows us to consider basic themes of good vs evil, right vs wrong, bravery, discernment and wisdom in our choices. It’s length is forgivable for the feeling that the audiences leave with and I highly recommend going to watch this on the big screen. It is worth noting, however, that for UK audiences it is certificate 15, which does limit those who can go and enjoy in cinemas. 

The Card Counter – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Tye Sheridan, Tiffany Haddish, Willem Dafoe and Alexander Babara
Written and Directed by Paul Schrader
Length: 111mins

When the phrase, ‘Directed by Paul Schrader’ appears on any cinema screen, there’s a certain sense of dread that can form in a viewer’s mind. Known for his solitary and tormented characters, worlds which seem lacking in any joy, and yet a great awareness of how as humans we can be united – and therefore divided – it’s this harsh edge which has kept the Writer-Director above water in Hollywood for nearly fifty years. 

When it comes to Schraders core themes, ‘The Card Counter’ slots in very easily amongst the rest of his filmography. Oscar Isaac’s lead role as William Tell – a dedicated ex-con who’s developed a talent for Poker during his time behind bars – seems like the kind of man who wouldn’t seem out of place in a police lineup with any of Schrader’s previous characters beside him. This idea of having a self-reflexive solitary protagonist who keeps either a notebook of thoughts, or simply delivers them through voiceover, is a constant theme within Schraders films, and can almost feel at times as the most pure instance of Shrader conversing directly with the audience. It could be easily argued that after implementing this style for so long, it’s become a stale and played-out technique – but within these cold worlds which the director creates, this navigation of thoughts seems necessary as a way to enter the frequently closed-off mind of his leads. 

‘The Card Counter’ makes great use of cinematography and editing within certain areas of the film to deliver moments of extreme impact. Gruelling flashbacks to William Tell’s earlier life within the darkest pits of military intelligence extraction are made ever-more disturbing by a brilliant use of cinematography. Like the opposite of a fish-eye lens, the screen becomes distorted, and yet opens itself up even further to the viewer, ensuring that not a single painful detail is missed. Sadly, it can’t be said that this type of innovation is maintained throughout the film, and often the overtly-precise nature of both the look and style of the modern cameras which Schrader works with, can make a story feel as if it loses its edge slightly – particularly when compared to the dark grain of the directors films throughout the seventies and eighties. It would be harsh to directly compare eras of film which are half a lifetime apart, but there’s just something about classic Schrader films which you can’t help but look for in his later work. ‘The Card Counter’, however, seems to become at times something new within Schrader’s filmography, and whilst there are moments where it succeeds in developing new ideas, the overall aesthetic can, at times, fall easily into the tropes which we expect to see from this director.

In terms of performance, the cast do an all round solid job. Oscar Isaac and Tye Sheridan build a strong relationship which isn’t always explicitly laid out for the audience – developing a sense of uncertainty which evolves intriguingly as the story plays out. Tiffany Haddish can at times feel out of place and fairly wooden, but the dialogue that she’s delivering doesn’t do much to help her develop an interesting character. It’s this type of inconsistency within Schraders writing which makes his films interesting to watch, but a far cry from the great heights which audiences know he’s been capable of achieving.

‘The Card Counter’ isn’t a film to be entered lightly, and deals with some very heavy topics. However, it encounters these ideas in a way which still feels fresh and exciting, despite them being closely intertwined with Paul Schrader’s classic style. I’d definitely still say that the film is worth a watch, just so long as you know what you’re getting yourself in for.

Death On The Nile – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Emma Mackey, Armie Hammer and Gal Gadot. Directed by Kenneth Branagh Written by Michael Green (Screenplay) and Agatha Christie (Novel) Length: 127mins

In the second of Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot adventures, the famous detective finds himself tagging along on the honeymoon of the extremely wealthy Linnet Ridgeway (Gadot) and her new husband, Simon Doyle (Hammer). Others accompanying the happy couple include Linnet’s godmother, the bride’s former fiancé, a mother and son pairing, and a celebrated jazz singer and her niece as well as Simon’s jealous ex (Mackey), an uninvited but unshakable presence throughout the story…

It’s always tricky to comment on the plot of a movie that is an adaptation from a much loved author, especially one that has been made into film more than once. But to me, this story seems like a bizarre choice. The audience finds itself waiting for a good portion of the story until we  are presented with a murder, up until which point our lead character; a detective, is just awkwardly tagging along to a couples honeymoon party. Once he is released to do what he does best the plot becomes a little more interesting, though to me, the whole case is relatively predictable. 

While I would love to say that Death on the Nile was excellent, it falls slightly flat. The plot, as previously mentioned, accounts for a good portion of that. But also some of the creative choices throughout. The film is long, much longer than it needed to be and the time was used commenting on unusual aspects, for example, Poirot’s moustache gets its own pre-titles origin story, which is considerably more background detail than most of the other characters are afforded.

Some of the acting, however, was fantastic. British breakout star Emma Mackey was truly brilliant. Surrounded by Hollywood A listers, her scorned, possessive Jacqueline de Bellefort stood up to the ranks of those around her, bringing a deeply emotional, interesting performance. While Mackey is the one I chose to mention by name, as per Branagh’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, the film is filled with outstanding talent. This talent, and of course Branagh’s direction (which has just seen him nominated for an academy award), is the main draw of the movie. 

This film was a victim of Covid:19 and was due to release originally in early 2020 which means that audiences were left waiting and wanting to see the picture. I think that this can have a negative affect on it’s audiences – keen fans were left building up hopes for this film that may not have reached such heights had the film released when originally planned. It also suffers due to the controversy around several of it’s top billed cast which perhaps leaves a foul taste as people finally get in to watch the film. 

Death on the Nile is ‘fine’. It didn’t blow my mind, I wouldn’t rush to watch it again, but it’s a film that I could see myself re-watching at some point in the future as something to have on in the background. It isn’t as engaging or exciting as Murder on the Orient Express and left me wanting more. 

Jackass Forever – Review

Rating: 18
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Jason Acuna, Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacey and Zack Holmes
Directed by Jeff Tremaine
Written by Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine, Eric Andre, Derrick Beckles, Andrew Weinberg, Colton Dunn, Knate Gwaltney and Sarah Sherman
Length: 96mins

For over two years there’s been a great deal of uncertainty over the future of local cinemas, but now, along with the help of one or two superhero movies, it seems that all was needed to return audiences to the big screen experience was a gang of foolhardy midwestern americans with a penchant for landing without style. ‘Jackass Forever’ may be the first film I’ve seen in a cinema where audiences laugh, groan and flinch in unity, with no other intention than to enjoy these madmen and women taking on increasingly unbelievable stunts.

As a Jackass film, it would be a hard sell for anyone who already knew it wasn’t for them, but there’s so much enjoyment to be gained from watching these group of excitable and carefree friends mess around on a scale that allows them the ability to essentially try out anything they like – a power that in the hands of the likes of Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O results in some mesmerisingly unbelievable footage. Their passion for taking off their clothes in front of the camera as well as their mates comes into its own in this latest film, resulting in some nail-bitingly tense scenes. Like the playground of a child’s imagination, ‘Jackass Forever’ allows its audience to bear witness to (as far as I know) the world’s first triple wedgie, body surfing and underwater farts being set alight. If you’re a zookeeper then you made need a word of warning, any requests from the Jackass guys to make use of your animals could lead to bears eating salmon from an electrified maniac, or a screaming Wee-Man desperately trying to avoid the bite of a falcon’s jaw as it devours the meat from his daringly small thong. It could almost sound as if the group are unkind to these animals, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, in a moment of hilarity, member Dave England proclaims that he’s a vegetarian, right after having been soaked in an unholy amount of pig semen.

Amongst the stunts, pranks, and general hi-jinks, ‘Jackass Forever’ provides a feeling that the group of hard nuts really do care for one another, and on the whole walk away from each inconceivably daring event with a smile on their faces, even when that departure from the set involves a stretcher and a fair few rolls of gauze tape. Aside from the newer – though equally as entertaining additions to the Jackass crew – the gang have been carrying out these wild escapades for a long while now, and know how to put on a good show. No scene throughout the film feels like filler, with each moment coming along at exactly the right time to deliver a new level of excitement, as well as perhaps a new chorus of winces from the audience. To see Johnny and Steve-O up on the big screen is something that a whole generation of Jackass-lovers have never been able to experience before, and now with restrictions lifting more and more, ‘Jackass Forever’ couldn’t have come at a better time to show the world that hanging out with your friends is still as fun as ever.

‘Jackass Forever’ is of course not for the faint of heart, but it’s still a great film to watch if you want to spend ninety minutes lost in a world of high energy madness. Truly, you have no idea what’s going next, and a lot of time neither do the poor souls on screen – but that’s all just part of the fun.