Best thing: There are a lot of sweet little moments I could pick, such as our protagonist being coached on how to eat pasta for the first time. But I think I'm going to pick a character: the horrible shopkeeper our protagonist works for at the start of the film. (Though a near second place unsurprisingly goes to Julie Walters because, y'know, it IS Julie Walters after all.)
Worst thing: Is it me or does the Italian boyfriend feel a bit fake at times? Charming, sure, but in a bit of a fake way. It's not a massive flaw since this is a really great film, but I'd buy into the relationship more easily if he seemed a little more genuine.
Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan as an immigrant to America going through the cultural changes and the hurdles to start a new life. This isn't abcomedy, it doesn't get wacky or self-referential. It's a straight-up real life drama to capture the situation of an Irish immigrant to the US in the 50s.
It's beautiful and powerful and it's interesting how the story uses an ordinary character to capture the whole culture surrounding Irish immigration during that decade, rather than making a biopic about a particular famous person who arrived in the States this way.
Essentially I guess this is a romance, but this is not a film that lets relationships take centre-stage. Brooklyn is a simple yet gripping drama which pulls on the heart strings. It's not so much a story with heroes and villains, but rather one that captures humanity.
Brooklyn is a unique and beautiful drama and I highly recommend it.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Best thing: John Goodman is regularly amazing and even in more ill-advised projects like King Ralph or The Flintstones, he's still wonderfully charming. Here, as the bunker-building conspiracy theorist, he portrays an unhinged character who presents as well-meaning, this id not so far removed from his performance in The Big Lebowski.
Worst thing: To be reasonably vague about a scene in the second half, if someone is wildly stabbing through the wall of a container it's a bit unrealistic for them to keep barely missing the way they do here. That being said, this is just dramatic license really.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a tense thriller. The film works pretty well as a stand-alone film and I'm pretty sure this involves some major changes to the Cloverfield mythology. (Wasn't the original Cloverfield creature man-made?)
Simple, effective, well-acted, tense, exciting, comedic elements; I also thought I saw a few homages to Psycho, even from the opening scene when our female protagonist starts by packing up to run away from her current home and relationship.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a massive mark-up in quality from the first movie in the department which matters most: the characters. I'm now pretty excited to see what this franchise throws at us next. Considering that I wasn't sure if I'd ever rewatch the first movie, that's a pretty big turnaround.
But even if the next few Cloverfield films were to turn out to be hopeless, I'd still be happy with this small independent instalment.
Eye In The Sky (2016)
Best thing: Honestly Alan Rickman is brilliant here. I was very impressed and it's all the sadder that is now one of his last ever roles.
Worst thing: Admittedly the liberal handwringing from the politicians becomes more than a little ludicrous at times. But then again, I think that is the point of the film. By bringing a perspective less confortable with warfare into the scenario, we get to explore the basic concepts more thoroughly - even if it possibly means that we miss out on some rather more realistic moral quandaries.
Can I have a remote control beetle camera? Wow, so cool.
There have been plenty of films now about the reasons that terrorists organise bombings and even when we enter Eye In The Sky with that information on our minds, it doesn't make the villain seem any less evil to me. It's quite frightening how realistic the main villains are here. (In fact, it seems that one villain here is based directly on Samantha Lewthwaite, the white widow, currently believed to be residing in Kenya and assisting Al-shabaab.) I wondered whether the depiction of areas controlled by Al-shabaab might be a little unrealistic but it doesn't look like anyone is questioning that.
Eye In The Sky doesn't feel like a real scenario but it is an interesting exploration of the morals of global warfare and a great showcase of acting talent.
Best thing: The performances in Foxcatcher are excellent and Channing Tatum perhaps deserves particular credit. He doesn't have all that much dialogue and so through his performance we see his character transition through rage, jealousy, admiration. C-Tates has come a long way as an actor.
Worst thing: The film is way too long. This is not a film that needs to take over two hours. Naturally this is subjective, but I really felt the length this time.
Can I just check, does this film involve sexual abuse? I feel like it might be implied but it's never terribly clear.
There are all sorts of clever little details such as when Channing Tatum's character is given a chalet to live in and yet he watches the tv crossed legged on the floor rather than using the furniture. Also when the rich benefactor adds two wrestling medals to his trophy room he bizarrely goes on a tangent belittling his mother's love of horse riding and everyone around him feels unsure how to react.
Still considering the extreme length of the film, much still seems unclear. As much as the film feels genuinely tense and we get a real sense of the extent of the rich benefactor's bizarre behaviour, the film seems to be missing any real point and after the stretched out 2 hour running time, I really needed some point to it all.