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January At The Movies: Who cares what picture we see (when they’re all this great)?

Hacksaw Ridge

A long long time ago Phil let me post a review of ‘Enemy Mine‘ and ramble on and on about what the film meant to me growing up. It soon turned into him letting me review John Carpenter films. Tarantino. Scorsese. All of my heroes.

I just wrote about why I love film. Why certain films reminded me of others. Why you’re all way too harsh on Zack Snyder – that kind of thing. And then life got in the way. For someone who lives for films, I wasn’t writing about them much.

So I started to collate a months worth of what I’d seen. Just short, sharp thoughts on what was out. Then you think… what’s the point? It’s not to influence anyone to go and see, or not see, a certain film. I shudder at the thought of a real life person needing someone else’s opinion to see something.

Sure… I might tell you I watched ‘Morgan‘ last night and it’s the most underwhelming film I’ve ever seen. But what’s the point? You may steer clear, you may want to see it even more. The point for me would be to tell you I think ‘Ex_Machina‘ is so much better it’s borderline unfair (on all the other movies, now I think about it).

So that brings me to January 2017. I’m going bold here. I think it might be the best month at the cinema ever. Allow me to explain….


Rogue One‘ is still out. And if you didn’t go back to IMAX it one last time – shame on you.

Passengers‘ was nowhere near as bad as everyone said, and had made me laugh so much with everyone having spasms about how it out performed ‘Silence‘ at the Oscars. I found the whole thing quite intriguing – but much like ‘Live by Night‘, clearly butchered by time short urbanites who think a runtime is more important to overall quality.

The whole “Get it to two hours, so we can get more showings on”, is wearing thin. Yet much like the current state of the world, we brought a lot of it upon ourselves. Remember how we all (well, you), bemoaned films getting too long? Well, now many are too short.

I read the other day that ‘The Magnificent Seven‘ (2016) could have been a lean 90 minutes. I couldn’t be more in the opposite camp. That film needed MORE, not less.

Live by Night

That’s why it’s an important month. We have Directors that are willing to allow a film to breathe. Love him, or hate him, Affleck does this so well in his compromised cut of ‘Live by Night‘. When were the Oscars ever as important as it should be for Scorsese? Look at ‘Goodfellas‘ and it’s haul. Or lack of. (Just realised we got ‘Goodfellas’ in 4K, too).

Scorcese made a new film. That’s the point. Do you know what? He won’t make many more. So if you didn’t take a pilgrimage to your nearest cineplex to see ‘Silence‘ – shame on you. It, and he, will be gone before you know it.

And, as with ‘Gangs of New York‘, ‘Silence‘ is destined to go down as a mystery of our time as to how great the original four hour cut was. Again, have a little patience. I went to a 9PM showing post working since 6AM. I worked the next day too, but have never felt so invigorated. It’s sublime cinema – and the start of what is simply the most understated and underrated run by an Actor I’ve ever seen.


That’s right. Andrew Garfield, not good enough for Marvel, has somehow delivered more in a month, than some do in a career. ‘Silence‘ *and* ‘Hacksaw Ridge‘. It’s just insane even thinking about it. Because we knew they’d both be amazing – but did we ever expect them, and HIM, to be so great?

This should be a love ode to Baby Goose and the rather beautiful ‘La La Land‘, but the sad reality is that film probably isn’t even in my top three of January. Let alone 2017. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, and the world clearly needs its escapism at the moment. But Gosling front running the Oscar, and plaudits, over Garfield and Casey Affleck?

No. Just no.

La La Land

I simply won’t allow Hollywood to turn Ryan Gosling into the new Tom Hanks – and serenade him for all of the “wrong” films. I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen. And I can’t let that happen. (Sorry Baby Goose. I still love you in ‘Only God Forgives‘). As long as Gosling makes films like ‘Half Nelson‘ and ‘Blue Valentine‘, his time will come. (It transpires a lot of his haters haven’t even seen those, by the way… Wow. Just wow).

And Casey – long since my favourite hidden secret in Hollywood? He’s immense. And ‘Manchester by the Sea‘ will be a rather uncomfortable double bill with ‘Blue Valentine‘ one day for me. When I want the most realistic film I’ve seen about grief – and the most realistic about marriage. Get Michelle Williams in more films. Simple.

Manchester By The Sea

And I can’t not mention ‘A Monster Calls‘. I, and you, saw all of these in the same MONTH, remember.

What a film. Possibly Neeson’s best. Certainly a film that deserves better treatment from cinemas, and cinema goers, as it’s what we’ve been crying out for.

Perfect length. Original idea. Powerhouse acting. Where is its Oscar nomination?


One more before ‘Hacksaw’. And that’s ‘Split‘. If there was anyone deserving of “best comeback award” along side Mad Mel, surely it’s M. Night Shyamalan.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with how everyone turned on him. It’s never quite tallied up. Like having a twist at the end of ‘The Village‘ is any right to deny how good what went before it was. Sure, there have been misfires. But Zlatan can’t score them all. If he misses a chance – you should have faith he’ll score the next one.

I’m saying nothing about the epilogue, but desperate and bold in equal measures – it’s a fascinating idea. See it.


Then I finally saw ‘Hacksaw Ridge‘. After that rambling pre-amble, I don’t even know what to say. I know no one has got close to Mel Gibson’s portrayal of violence, I know that. I don’t know if it’s ‘Braveheart’, ‘Passion of the Christ’ and ‘Apocalypto‘ (SO underrated), hanging over it… but the film has an unnerving sense of violence and dread hanging over it.

When they finally look up at the ridge – Gibson shoots it like sci-fi. Astronauts on an alien planet. Yet the whole thing feels like a horror film. The score – which is transpires was a last minute second choice – is beyond foreboding,  and it’s all quite special.

I (possibly) over did it a bit (who knew?), with my love of ‘Fury‘ a few years back. It’s interesting as a few people have said to me recently they’re getting my obsession with that film a bit more now. But this? This is another level.

A Monster Calls

Forget past misdemeanours like the hypocrite you all are… Gibson needs to take the major honours. I love the fact that the world loves the idea of Gosling and Stone floating in the (city of) stars as much as I do, but the use of a camera from Gibson (mounted on a gun, so you feel the recoil), is other worldly.

I haven’t even mentioned Fassbender acting like he’s in ‘Macbeth‘ again in ‘Assassin’s Creed‘ – because it’s not important. What’s important is January 2016 offered us ‘Force Awakens’ (one last time in IMAX), ‘Revenant’, ‘Hateful Eight’, and ‘Creed‘.

And January 2017 has gone and topped it.

(I am conscious I haven’t even seen ‘Lion’, ‘Moonlight‘ and ‘Trainspotting 2‘ (don’t ever call it “T2” around me again).

When I’m this high on Garfield and Gibson — Is there any point?

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