Teen sex comedies have been going through a rough spell for some time now. Ever since the seemingly 18th ‘American Pie’ film, the copy cat films became lazier and cruder for the sake of it. Also, a lot became increasingly sexist and, rightly so, people began to attack these films for having a “boy’s club” mentality. ‘Blockers’ however, manages to break free of this, embracing the notion that young women can also enjoy embracing their sexuality. What is also great is unlike similar films that came before it, the kids aren’t making increasingly stupid decisions, the interfering parents are.
A few years ago, a film called ‘Tangerine’ broke barriers within cinema by being entirely filmed on an iPhone. ‘Unsane’ follows the same technique and the tone of the film suits this filming style perfectly. The extreme close ups and the distant, creepy following shots are just a part of what makes this such an unnatural but uniquely enthralling cinematic experience.
A few nights ago, I was lucky enough to see Annihilation on the big screen at Hampstead’s Everyman Cinema (Yes, it was a different beast in that format). What was even better was afterwards I witnessed a Q&A with director Alex Garland and composers Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury. Unlike other Q&A’s I’ve seen, this one was brutally honest about all the issues surrounding it as well as giving a greatest depth as to how much work went into this masterpiece.
Right off the bat, I’ll admit the trailer for ‘Gringo’ didn’t do much for me. It seemed like the kind of comedy that wouldn’t make me laugh too much. After seeing it, my initial thoughts were right, I didn’t laugh that much. But, that’s because, despite the trailer suggesting otherwise, this is much more of drama with a story compared to a laugh out loud comedy.
Avoiding all the drama surrounding this films release (F**k you Paramount), Alex Garland’s follow up to ‘Ex Machina’ has annihilated all the other Netflix films out there. Now, while the bar isn’t set to high (‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ most recently dissapointed), ‘Annihilation’ is a future sci-fi classic that will be held in the same regard as ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in years to come. It is one of the most mesmerising and stunningly beautiful films to come out for ages (Like it was meant for the big screen…) and also tackles self destruction and more importantly, the state of mind within all humans. Simply put, this is as good as sci-fi gets.
‘Cars’ has always seemed like the unwanted step child of Pixar. It was the first film they released that actively disappointed and ruined a perfect run they had going for years. I remember watching it as a kid and being really bored. As I grew up, I learnt that most people had this opinion and, if anyone did enjoyed it, it was typically the younger kids. I never gave it another go and missed the subsequent sequels. Fast forward to now, and my girlfriend claims ‘Cars’ is one of the best Pixar film. After laughing in her face for months, I agreed I’d give it another go after we stayed in the ‘Cars’ hotel at Disneyland Paris to see if my older self liked it any more than my younger self did.
Kicking off the decade was the utterly average ‘Prince of Persia: The Sand of Time’ which was a welcome change from the utterly awful. It’s probably been best remembered for causing a huge whitewashing controversy. Not only was Jake Gyllenhaal cast, the film doubled down by making sure no one else was played by an actor of Iranian, Middle Eastern or Muslim descent. This was obviously a huge issue and rightly so, (one that still plagues our screens today but is looking like it’s on the way out) but the film isn’t awful. Unlike most of the other adaptations before it, you didn’t feel like you’d wasted your time going to see it. You probably didn’t remember it a week later either, but this small improvement felt like a big deal at the time. Was this the turning point when studios realised that video game adaptations didn’t have to be awful? Not exactly.
If, like me, you are a fan of video games, you’ll know how frustrating the film industries inability to adapt them successfully is. Good is generally an overstatement. The best we’ve got this century were average at best. Tomb Raider is out soon and I honestly cannot find any excitement or interest for the film, despite really enjoying the games. Looking back at what we’ve had to contend with in the last few years when it comes to adaptations, I feel my worries are justified.
Last year, I thought there were four films that were a solid 10/10. Already in 2018, I’ve said the same about ‘Three Billboards…’ and ‘The Shape of Water’ and now, in as many months, we’ve been blessed with a third masterpiece. Quite how a film based on something as simple as a seventeen year old growing up ended up this good is down to the incredibly sharp and inspiring script by Greta Gerwig, who also directs this semi-autobiographical story.
Francis Lawrence returns after completing his work on ‘The Hunger Games’ series with something completely different. He reunites with Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) in this spy thriller, which centres around a ballerina, Dominika Egorova, being recruited by the Russian government into becoming a ‘sparrow’. These men and women are trained into becoming spies who use their bodies as weapons for the Russian government.