Film Reviews by Champ

Welcome to Champ's film reviews page. Champ has written 46 reviews and rated 46 films.

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Liberal Arts

A gentle, funny and heart-warming film

(Edit) 10/02/2021

I really, really loved this film. It's about nostalgia, and the sense that everyone has of growing up and older, and how to recognise it and acknowledge it. The characters are beautifully written and played, and completely believeable.

The writing is brilliant, but not in a "clever clever" way - when someone says something insightful, it really feels like they've only just thought of it themselves.

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Mid90s

Mumblecore to the...er, what did he say?

(Edit) 07/01/2021

Much of the dialogue here is unintelligible. After a while you realise that this is ok, because it's not a Aaron Sorkin script, and what matters is not so much what the characters are saying, more how they say it. It's all about mood, as is the whole film, really - it doesn't really go anywhere, and there's no plot to speak of.

So why did I give it 3 stars? Because it left me with a good feeling. It reminded me a lot of The Florida Project, and gives a similar sense of people at the bottom of the pile still managing to find meaning in their lives.

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Misbehaviour

Brilliant evocation of a period in history and a movement

(Edit) 21/12/2020

This film covers events that happened in my lifetime, and yet I was still shocked to be reminded how the world used to be. We really have come a long way, baby! This film brilliantly brings to life one event near the start of that journey, and engages you and makes you invest in the characters and what they are doing.

And, as with the best dramas based on real events, the final shots of the real protagonists, as the are now, with a short potted history of what they went on to do, warmed my heart even more.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Just about perfect

(Edit) 02/12/2020

The loved the first "How to Tame your Dragon" film beyond words, partly because it was so funny, kind, beautiful and charming, and partly because when it came out my step-daughter was the perfect age for it, and she loved it too, so we watched it many times together on the sofa.

Now she's about to go to university, but the third and (very obviously) last film of the three brought back everything that was special about the first one, and brought all those memories of shared enjoyment watching on the sofa flooding back. Consequently, the emotional content of this film, which is significant, chimed in with my personal emotional life, to the degree that I've never been moved as much by an animated feature.

This film is beautifully realised, beautifully scripted, beautifully played by the voice actors, and is just altogether wonderful. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Now pass me another tissue, please :-)

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Three Identical Strangers

Astounding and breathtaking

(Edit) 04/11/2020

This film completely took my breath away. It had me hooked in the first 5 minutes, and then as the story unfolded I got drawn further and further into it. It engages you in a way that only a genuine true-life story can - if this was a drama, you'd dismiss it as much too far-fetched.

The openess and honesty from the protagonists is amazing, and (as the director says in the DVD extras) is what really makes the film something special.

I'm not going to give away any of the content - you need to watch it. This is the documentary of the decade.

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Knives Out

Brilliant re-invention of the whodunit

(Edit) 09/10/2020

This is a great film, with a great cast, brilliantly written and full of fantastic performances.

But what really makes it work is the clever twist to the whodunit genre. You think the "who" and "how" are revealed early, which ought to kill the film. But the plot is smart enough to add twist upon twist, and even though you think you know what happened, you don't really.

And Daniel Craig's accent is worth the price of admission alone

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Parasite

Almost, but not quite 5 stars

(Edit) 12/08/2020

Obviously, this film has been praised to the heavens, and consequently sets expectations sky high. And I really, really loved it...but not quite as much as everyone else seemed to. To be specific, I thought the third act didn't quite live up to the promise of the first two.

Still really brilliant, all the same, and highly recommended

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Ad Astra

Dull and takes itself way too seriously

(Edit) 29/07/2020

I'm a fan of SF, but this has to one of the worst SF films I've ever seen. Every single line of dialogue was so portentious, serious, and, frankly, up itself, that the whole thing was tedious and dull. I didn't identify with, or even believe in any of the characters.

And I looked in vain through the credits for "Science Advisor", and unsuprisingly, there wasn't one listed. No kidding, as the science holes were insane. What did Tommy Lee Jones eat for the 29 years he spent near Neptune? How on earth were there thousands and thousands of gallons of water under the rocket launchpad on the moon? Why did everyone walk around on the moon and Mars as if they were in Earth gravity? And many more, that I've blanked from my mind.

There could have been a decent film here, but somewhere it was utterly lost.

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Cold War

Engaging, beautifully shot, but ultimately frustrating

(Edit) 03/06/2020

This film really drew me in, and the first 2/3rds are fantastic. But in the last third I didn't understand, or even believe, the behabiour of the female lead, and then it started to annoy me. And the ending was an anti-climax, probably because of this.

The look and music in the film are really wonderful - the camera lingers on captivating faces and scenes, and the music, which is a key part of the story, is quite brilliant. The film gives a really great sense of time and place in post-war Poland and Europe.

This film is definitely worth a watch, and if you can stick with the female lead's actions, then you may even love it.

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Le Mans '66

Damn near perfect

(Edit) 11/05/2020

This is an example of what you get when everything is done just right in a movie. The story and original characters are genuinely interesting and absorbing (so much so that I was inspired to go and read up on it all, and the people, later), the actors are uniformally excellent, and the script is pitch perfect.

You really don't have to be a petrolhead to love this (my partner isn't, and she really did).

Matt Damon goes from strength to strength, and Christian Bale is even better than normal. And *all* the supporting players are bang on the money.

Can't recommend this highly enough

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Green Book

Brilliantly told heartwarming story

(Edit) 25/03/2020

This is one of the most enjoyable films I've seen in a little while. It's one of those films which you know is manipulating your emotions, as it does it, but you don't mind.

The cast are uniformly brilliant, but a special mention must go to Viggo Mortensen, who is simply superb. And the period is perfectly evoked, from the way the Italian New Yorkers speak to the cars and small touches everywhere.

The written comments on the screen before the credits roll, showing the real people who inspired the film, was the crowning touch for me, and brought a tear to my eyes.

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Yesterday

Enjoyable, but promised more

(Edit) 15/01/2020

This is an archetypal "high concept" movie - what if the Beatles has never existed, but you could remember their songs?

The concept is developed very nicely, and the cast is very good. But I found a couple of ideas jarred against each other - one where on first hearing the song is immediately identified as a work of genius (as when Ed Sheeran first hears "Long and Winding Road") vs where the listener just treats it as a nice new song (as in when Jack's parents first hear "Let it Be"). By the end it was assumed that everyone in the world immediately knew that all the songs were exceptional, which I just didn't buy (and I still don't think Obladi Oblada is anything special myself!).

And the love story was just frustrating. Ellie is both lovely and beautiful - would Jack really never have imagined her as a girlfriend?

The criticisms stop this being a great film, but its still good, and good fun. It just could have been so much better. It's The Byrds, not the Beatles :-)

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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Great story and marvellous character study

(Edit) 16/10/2019

This is that rare movie, one that is very enjoyable dislike none of the main characters being likeable. It's essentially a two-hander, with the leaders brilliantly portrayed by Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant. Both characters have a complex and involved back story which powers their actions, and neither of them did I identify with, or even particularly want to meet! But the story of the film captivated me, and I really wanted to see where it went. It's based on a true story, and having really enjoyed this film, I know want to read the detail in the book.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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If Beale Street Could Talk

Enjoyed more by the critics than the punters

(Edit) 04/10/2019

This film had such overwhelming and widespread praise from the critics that I just had to see it. It started well, and the interactions between the (almost universally black) characters in the first reel were engaging and dynamic. But then the story didn't really seem to go anywhere, and while the atmosphere and cinematography were very good, the film never really engage with it. I admire it, but I didn't really enjoy it.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Fighting with My Family

A wonderful movie on a subject I care nothing about

(Edit) 20/09/2019

This movie is a textbook example of how it doesn't matter at all what the movie is *about* - what matters is that you care about the characters and their story. I have absolutely zero interest in wrestling, and having watched Fighting with my Family, I still have zero interest - but I really REALLY loved this film! It was wry, funny, didn't take itself at all seriously, and successfully played the underdog card for all it was worth. In the climactic scene, I was rooting for Paige in the WWE Divas championship (whatever that is!) for all I was worth.

This is a feel good movie, and it made me feel very good indeed. Highly recommended.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.
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