Dave Griffiths keeps counting down is top 30 films of the year. Today we look at the Top 10.
10. THE GENTLEMEN
After the year that we have had it is hard to believe that the brilliant Guy Ritchie film was a 2020 film – but it was it landed on January 1st. Ritchie at his pure best!!!
9. A WHITE, WHITE DAY
Brutal and unrelenting this drama simply reminded me why I love Scandinavian cinema so much.
Waves is simply one of those films that will stay with you a long time after you have watched the film. Brilliant acting and a film with a twist that you will never see coming.
7. UNDERGROUND INC: THE RISE AND FALL OF ALTERNATIVE ROCK
A brilliant documentary that not only celebrated the rise of alternative rock but also revealed the dark side of the music industry that forced a lot of bands to give up.
6. THE DRY
Harshly beautiful The Dry is the perfect crime thriller. Eric Bana is sensational and we are all reminded just how good Robert Connolly is as a filmmaker.
5. THE INVISIBLE MAN
Horror re-boots are not supposed to be this good, right? Somehow though Leigh Whannell managed to take an old concept and turn it into something so, so terrifying.
Beautiful yet brutal at the same time. This foreign language film about child soldiers is destined to become a cult classic.
3. THE COMEBACK TRAIL
It is rare for a comedy to ever get this high on my Best Of lists but The Comeback Trail was something special. Funny, an all-star cast that brought their A-Game and a look back at Hollywood’s past – what wasn’t there to like?
2. THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON
Few films stuck with me in 2020 like The Peanut Butter Falcon. A touching story that also showed why Shia LaBeouf is never an actor that we should forget about.
1. ABOUT AN AGE
The perfect coming-of-age film. This Aussie film came out of nowhere and reminded us all just how great a film can be with perfect casting and screenplay that is full of natural dialogue. An Aussie classic!
Summary: A respected Army leader suddenly finds herself in a battle of life and death in a mysterious world where humans are prey for other-worldly creatures.
Cinema Release Dates: 1st January 2021 (Australia), 31st December 2020 (Thailand), 29th January 2021 (UK), 18th December 2020 (USA)
VOD Release Dates: TBA
Country: China, Germany, Japan, USA
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Screenwriter: Paul W.S. Anderson, Kaname Fujioka (video game series)
Cast: Jin Au-Yeung (Axe), Aaron Beelner (Palico), Diego Boneta (Marshall), Meagan Good (Dash), Josh Helman (Steeler), Tony Jaa (The Hunter), Milla Jovovich (Artemis), Ron Perlman (Admiral), Nic Rasenti (Sergeant Roarke), Jannick Schumann (Aiden), T.I. (Link), Hironi Yamazaki (Handler)
Running Time: 99 mins
Classification: M (Australia), TBC (Thailand) 12A (UK), PG-13 (USA)
OUR MONSTER HUNTER REVIEWS
David Griffiths’ Monster Hunter Review:
While a film is often judged by the way that it is received during the Awards season there are times when the best feeling in the world is to sit down a watch a film that is never going to even be mentioned during the illustrious awards period. Yes, it is great to sit down and watch a film that challenges you or makes you think, but at other times all you really want to do is sit down, turn your brain off and watch something dumb yet enjoyable. That is where films like Monster Hunter come into the picture.
Based on the popular video game franchise Monster Hunter sees director Paul WS Anderson (Alien vs Predator) once again re-united with his real-life wife Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) after the duo made four Resident Evil movies together.
The storyline is basic. Jovovich plays Lt. Artemis a strong but caring solider who is well-respected by her colleagues who serve under her. While out a mission looking for a missing team Beta team they suddenly find themselves stuck inside a powerful storm that somehow pushes them through a gateway to another dimension where the likes of Admiral (Ron Perlman – Hellboy) are stuck in an everlasting race to survive as they hunted by other-worldly creatures.
As Artemis’ crew drop like flies (that isn’t a spoiler it pretty much happens in the first 20 minutes of the film) she suddenly finds her only help can come from weather-beaten warrior known to the audience only as The Hunter (Tony Jaa – Ong-Bak). The only problem is that while they rely on each for survival they also don’t trust each other.
Chances are if you have enjoyed what Anderson has done as a filmmaker with the Resident Evil franchise over the years then you will also enjoy Monster Hunter. The film is pretty much action sequence after action sequence yet somehow it also makes The Hunter and Artemis likeable characters. The fact that you can tell that Jovovich and Jaa obviously got on well off-screen makes for a chemistry on screen that just can’t be manufactured.
For me the film’s biggest weakness was that it didn’t allow us long enough in the world that it had set up. Outside of The Hunter and Artemis most of the characters are ‘missing’ for a huge chunk of the film which means the audience never really gets a chance to know other interesting characters like Admiral and his team.
The ending is insanely rushed to the point that you almost wish that Anderson had adapted this into a television series rather than a movie and as the final credits role you really do find yourself hoping that the movie becomes a franchise so you get a chance to share more adventures with these characters and take another trip into this world that leaves more questions about it than answers.
The key to this film working though is the amazing visuals created by Anderson and his team. When it comes to epic action sequences there are few in the cinema world that can do what Anderson does. Even when the Resident Evil franchise felt like it had thrown away any scrips or plot you could always guarantee that Anderson’s action sequences would be out of this world, and the same happens here. Add that to the fact that Anderson gives this film a feel like it is a war film with monsters just thrown in and it is not hard to see why this film is going to become a guilty pleasure for a lot of action film lovers out there.
If you are looking for a film that will keep you entertained without making you think these holidays then Monster Hunter is the film for you. Yes it has huge action sequences, lovable heroes and reveals a unique pairing of Jovovich and Jaa but do be prepared for a film where the ending is slightly rushed but will leave you wanted more. Monster Hunter is far from the perfect film but is certainly enjoyable for those of us who like action films.
Summary: Wonder Woman finds herself having to spring into action in 1984 when the mysterious Maxwell Lord offers everybody the opportunity to have their greatest wish granted… with catastrophic results.
Cinema Release Dates: 26th December 2020 (Australia), 17th December 2020 (Thailand), 16th December 2020 (UK), 25th December 2020 (USA)
VOD Release Dates: 25th December 2020 (USA)
Country: UK, USA, Spain
Director: Patty Jenkins
Screenwriter: Dave Callaham, Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, William Moulton Marston (characters)
Cast: David Al-Fahmi (Mr. Khalaji), Lilly Aspel (Young Diana), John Barry (Max (15 Years Old)), Menesh Bediako (Leon), Lynda Carter (Asteria), Oakley Bull (Kelly), Asim Chaudhry (Roger), Oliver Cotton (Simon Stagg), Lambro Demetriou (Max (8 Years Old)), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince), Hari James (Trigona), Tessa Bonham Jones (Lucy), Doutzen Kroes (Venelia), Connie Nielson (Hippolyta), Chi-Lin Nim (Wang), Pedro Pascal (Maxwell Lord), Ravi Patel (Babajide), Lucian Perez (Alistair), Chris Pine (Steve Trevor), Natasha Rothwell (Carol), Asa Sheridan (Jace Valentine), Rey Rey Terry (Courtney), Amr Waked (Emir Said Bin Abydos), Hayley Warnes (Aella), Kristen Wiig (Barbara Minerva), Gabriella Wilde (Raquel), Wai Wong (Lai Zhong), Robin Wright (Antiope), Kelvin Yu (Jake)
Running Time: 151 mins
Classification: M (Australia), G (Thailand) 12A (UK), PG-13 (USA)
OUR WONDER WOMAN 1984 REVIEWS
David Griffiths’ Wonder Woman 1984 Review:
Well at last 2020 has its own superhero – and her name is Wonder Woman. Over the last decade comic book fans have gotten used to having at least three or four superhero movies hitting cinemas each year. This year though with the blockbusters on hold those fans have had slim pickings. The underrated New Mutants came and went in the blink of an eye so the fans have just had to sit back and wait patiently for DC to launch their follow-up to 2017’s brilliant Wonder Woman. Now the wait is over and the result may surprise a few people.
Set in 1984, as the film’s title suggests, Wonder Woman 1984 finds Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot – Furious 7), working at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. Her secret life as a superhero is still very, very secret despite the press trying to speculate who this mystery woman is that keeps rescuing people across the city.
Then comes a case that sees Diana’s day job crash head first into her secret identity. After foiling a robbery of black market artefacts one of the items, a mystery stone, ends up the Smithsonian where it is to be identified by Diana’s friend and colleague Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig – Bridesmaids). After the two women learn that the stone grants wishes they both secretly cast their own wishes.
Diana’s wish sees the return of her deceased love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine – Star Trek) while Barbara wishes she could be more like Diana… a recipe for disaster given Diana’s powers. Added into the mix is television conman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal – Game Of Thrones) who was the intended recipient for the stone in the first place and his plans see the world once again put in danger.
Reviewing Wonder Woman 1984 is no easy feat. For all the reasons that some audience members like this movie others will find them contributing to the film being a let-down for them. In all honesty director Patty Jenkins (Monster) has not created a film with the epic feel of the first film, but that to me was not necessarily a bad thing. Instead Jenkins should be congratulated for embracing more of the style that was made famous in the Wonder Woman television series. There is a simplicity to this film and it works. There are no convoluted Marvel storylines here, instead Jenkins takes one of DC’s most popular characters and gives her a simple storyline that ends up becoming a classic tale of good versus evil.
Likewise Jenkins doesn’t go over the top with the action sequences here like she did with the finale of the first film. Yes there are some great fight sequences throughout the film but there are no planes crashing into buildings or anything like that. The best sequence takes part on a desert road and captures the style of The Fast & Furious franchise. Just like the first film though the most interesting scenes in the film were the ones set in Themyscira and once again I found myself hoping that one day we get an entire film set there.
What Jenkins tries to embrace more here is characterisation and that in turn gives the film heart. More of Diana’s pain and loss is explored while there is also an inner conflict explored when Steve returns to her life. Perhaps where the film does lose a little though is the fact that while Maxwell is supposed to be the ‘big bad’ in this film you learn very early on that Wiig’s Barbara is the much more interesting character.
DC fans will embrace this film picking up the obvious nods to the popular Wonder Woman television series, small things like using her tiara as a weapon show that Jenkins is a true fan, while non DC fans may feel a little under-whelmed as the film concentrates more on the heart and soul of Diana than it does jumping from planet destroying explosions etc. If you are a Wonder Woman fan though, embrace Wonder Woman 1984 because you are going to enjoy it.
Summary: James Bowen reflects on a time when he thought Bob The Cat was going to be taken away from him at Christmas time.
Cinema Release Dates: 3rd December 2020 (Australia), 24th December 2020 (Thailand)
VOD Release Dates: 6th November 2020 (UK)
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Screenwriter: Garry Jenkins
Cast: Aretha Ayeh (Officer Jarvis), Jamie Bacon (Chugger), Daisy Badger (Becky The Vet), Sheena Bhattessa (Jane), Bob The Cat (self), Tony Cook (Finn), Louisa Corr (Maisie), Ella Jarvis (Lili), Celyn Jones (Mick), Ciaron Kelly (Pete), Lydia Larson (Ella, Exchange Teller), Pepter Lunkuse (Ruth), Gerard Miller (Ian), Tim Plester (Leon), Stephen McCole (Mark), Stefan Race (Ben), Poppy Roe (Denise), Phaldut Sharma (Moody), Kristina Tonteri-Young (Bea), Luke Treadaway (James Bowen), Nina Wadia (Anika), Jacqueline Wilson (self), Anna Wilson-Jones (Arabella), Joanne Zorian (Irene)
Running Time: 92 mins
Classification: PG (Australia), G (Thailand) 12A (UK)
OUR A CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM BOB REVIEWS
David Griffiths’ A Christmas Gift From Bob Review:
I will always be the first to admit that I am a sucker for Christmas movies. I blame it on the fact that Christmas movies were part of the reason why I became a cinephile in the first place. One of my first memories of the cinema was going with my parents to what is now the Cameo Cinemas to see a rare Aussie Christmas gem called Bushfire Christmas. I can also vividly remember falling in love with Dudley Moore’s Santa Clause: The Movie the first time I watched it and then being overjoyed when I ripped open my presents on Christmas morning to find the movie’s companion book among my swag from Santa… yes at that moment I learnt that Santa is a cinema fan as well.
It is because of my love for Christmas movies that I am always willing to over-look the cheesiness and over the top sentiments that seem to come with every holiday movie when I sit down to watch them. Yes there are some people out there who will roll their eyes even at the thought of sitting down to watch A Christmas Gift From Bob but for me it put me holiday bliss.
A sequel to the popular A Street Cat Called Bob this film picks up as the success of James Bowen’s (Luke Treadaway – Attack The Block) novel is beginning to sweep around the world. After attending a publisher’s party where he feels very uncomfortable he leaves only to find a young homeless busker being bullied by a Council Official named Leon (Tim Plester – Game Of Thrones).
While sitting down and providing a meal for the young busker James recounts a Christmas story of when he and the famous Bob found themselves under threat from Leon and the kinder Ruth (Pepter Lunkuse – Father Brown) who threatened to separate the pair because they had to investigate whether or not Bob was being looked after correctly by James.
Now I will be the first to admit that the storyline here is pretty thin, but on the flip side I also have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Sure the suspense is pretty much wiped from the film because you see James and Bob together at the start of the film before they recount the tale and yes some of the main characters are just token clichés, but I still firmly believe that every cat lover out there will sit down and thoroughly enjoy this film.
It is also worth noting that this sequel is not as alternative in style as the first film was. In the hands of director Charles Martin Smith (Dolphin Tale) the film becomes a complete family fluff piece… but seriously isn’t that what we all look for in a Christmas movie anyway? Surprisingly the film does break out of its bubble of fluffiness from time to time as it just causally reminds its audience at how some homeless people do become targets for figures of authority when they are doing nothing but trying to survive.
Of course the highlight of this film is Bob The Cat who steals the limelight in every scene he is in, but he is well supported by Treadaway who works remarkably well with the fluffy script and brings some oomph to his role. While at times he is not given much to work with in the way of dialogue he counteracts that with some brilliant facial expressions that certainly gives the audience a strong feeling of how James is feeling at that very time.A Christmas Gift From Bob is a film for anyone that loves animal or Christmas films.
Hey, if you love both you are going to be in your absolute element so enjoy!!!
Dave’s rating Out Of 5
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture A Christmas Gift From Bob Reviews:
Jesse Eisenberg reminded everybody about just what he good actor he can be with his World War II drama Resistance in which he played mime Marcel Marceau.
29. 23 WALKS
While it could have easily become just another ‘oldie romance’ 23 Walks went that step further and explored how many families and the Government cast aside the elderly.
28. WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS
You don’t normally expect to see a young adult film make a best films of the year list but Words On Bathroom Walls is not your typical young adult film – great visuals mean this film will stick in the mind of its audience for a long time to come.
27. JUST MERCY
Hard-hitting and dramatic Just Mercy had the same impact on me as movies such as Mississippi Burning.
26. HONEY BOY
Shia LaBeouf not only reminded the world what a good actor he can be but also revealed his skills as a filmmaker with the hard-hitting Honey Boy.
I loved this movie for all the reasons that others hated it. It drew its audience in and then turned the world right upside down with a twist that nobody saw coming.
24. KNIVES OUT
An all star cast and even more important – a whodunnit that actually worked. Yep Rian Johnson’s films have made by Best Of Lists before… and he has done it again.
23. DARK WATERS
Mark Ruffalo was a standout in this courtroom drama that delivered a message that all should hear.
22. MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
An all star cast delivered in this under-rated crime thriller. This was a piece of Edward Norton brilliance.
21. USE ME
Part drama, part mockumentary Use Me is a film that deserved a lot more recognition than it ever received.