Film Reviews by Champ

Welcome to Champ's film reviews page. Champ has written 34 reviews and rated 33 films.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Free Solo

Breathtaking - both visually, and philosophically

(Edit) 18/09/2019

This film is seared on my mind, weeks after watching it. While I had the disk, I just had to watch it twice.

I've done a tiny amount of climbing, just enough to know I'd never remotely consider doing free climbing. But I also do other 'dangerous' activities, where my confidence and competence allows me to think that I have mitigated the risks, and am safely 'in control'. Consequently, the issues faced in the film spoke to me very directly.

The first reaction is that Alex has a death wish, or just doesn't care if he lives or dies. But then you get to know him, and realise he is an intelligent rational human being. And then your brain refuses to accept this - he sounds like a rational guy....but he's doing *that*!

By the end my brain wasn't able to square this circle, but I was just left in awe of what humans (some humans...) are capable of.

Watch this, and blow your mind

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The Wife

More like a play than a movie

(Edit) 05/09/2019

This is a good, well-made film, with great performances from the leads, especially (in my view) Christian Slater. But it never really grabbed me, and at the end I didn't feel moved, just a bit "meh". I'm not sure why this is, but really I think it felt like a bit of a theatre production, and was quite slow moving. The revelation wasn't particularly suprising, and it seemed to me there was no sense of closure at the end.

This all sounds quite critical, doesn't it! It was one of those films where I kept waiting for it to really get going, and it never really seemed to. But there is nothing actually bad about it - it just didn't really work for me.

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You Were Never Really Here

Very dark. Very very dark...

(Edit) 22/08/2019

A few days after having watched this film, I still can't decide if I like it. I certainly admire it, but that's a different thing. But it's still in my mind, which is the sure sign of a quality work of art. Joaquin Phoenix is superb, and almost unrecognizable, as Joe, the enforcer living on the edge of society, doing bad things to bad people for money. The supporting cast are all bit players to the central role, but they all the do a good job. Johnny Greenwoods score is unsettling as the visuals, creating an edgy feel to the film.

On the downside, the dialogue is often mumbled, meaning I sometimes struggled to follow where things were going. But, having said that, it's not really a plot-driven film - it's about atmosphere. If you prefer your revenge thrillers to be more by the numbers, then go with Taken 17, or whatever number they're up to now.

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The Favourite

Brilliant and Beautiful

(Edit) 24/07/2019

This film garnered excellent reviews on its original release, and I can really see why. Firstly, it looks absolutely beautiful - every frame looks like an Old Master. The period music and general soundscape also contributes to the brilliant period effect. In some way, the combination of visuals and soundscape reminded me of Peter Greenaway's The Draughtman's Contract. But unlike that film, this has a distinct narrative arc, that in places almost felt like a thriller - I was gripped as the story unfolded.

The three main characters are all brilliantly portrayed, and I felt my sympathies wax and wane between them as the story progressed. The dialogue is sharp and funny too, and the actors all relish it.

I'm very surprised by the number of negative reviews on here, as I would have expected people to understand what they'd be getting with a Yorgos Lanthimos film before they ordered it. Anyway, suffice to say it met and exceeded my expectations, and I'm very happy to recommend it.

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Lean on Pete

Poignant, but no closure

(Edit) 25/06/2019

I rented this film because of the very positive reviews, especially from Mark Kermode on Wittertainment. Usually I know MKs tastes well enough to judge what I'll like, but this one caught me out.

This is a beautifully shot and acted film, telling a very sad and believable story. But ultimately, it didn't get any real connection with the characters - I was just watching things happen to other people, in a "shit happens" sort of way. I kept waiting for a proper denouement which would put all of Charlie's suffering and experiences into context and tie it together, but at the end it just seemed to peter out, like they'd run out of time or film stock.

Overall, the film committed the unforgivable sin - it bored me a little. I know many others disagree, and now I worry that not liking it reflects poorly on me :-)

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First Man

Makes humankind's greatest achievement dull and uninspiring

(Edit) 01/05/2019

I'm a bit of a geek, and am interested in space flight, ever since my dad woke me up, at 6 years old, to watch Armstrong step onto the moon.

I know this was about Armstrong, not the moon landings themselves. And I know it's not a documentary. But there was no sense of the momentousness of these events, and Armstrong was presented as just morose and completely unengaging. And, a bit more explanation of 'why' things were happening would have been useful - this is recent history now, and I found myself explaining to my partner what the LEM was, and why it had to undock and re-dock with the command module before heading to the moon.

There's a great movie to be made about the moon landings, but this isn't it

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post

More downbeat than I had hoped

(Edit) 17/04/2019

This film is well made, very well acted, and tells an important story. But I didn't enjoy it that much. While it was set back in the 90s, so-called "conversion therapy" still goes on, and it just made me angry. I had hoped that the kids reaction would be a bit more subversive and confrontational, but mostly acted as victims in the awful situation they had been placed in.

This is one of those oddities - a film that Mark Kermode liked a lot, and I didn't :-)

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Molly's Game

Classic Sorkin

(Edit) 21/03/2019

I love Aaron Sorkin's work, and have done ever since the West Wing. This has smart, sassy characters, saying smart sassy things, and weaves a complex plot in and out and around, keeping the viewer engaged and intrigued

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Ready Player One

Good translation of the book

(Edit) 08/03/2019

I was keen to see this after reading the book, which I thought was very good indeed. I'm surprised by the number of negative views on here, as I really enjoyed the film, and in fact watched it twice in a week before I sent the disk back. I'm slightly too old to be of the computer gaming 80s generation, and know absolutely nothing about gaming, but that wasn't an issue at all.

I really enjoyed the conceptual ideas, and about people retreating from the real world by losing themselves in an online world, which I think is very relevant to today. I generally don't like CGI heavy films at all, but because the CGI in this was actually part of the plot of the film, again, I was fine with that part of it.

Speilberg is such a master storyteller, and even on my 2nd viewing I was on the edge of my seat. Very happy to give this 4 stars

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Phantom Thread

I can see how some people might love this...but I hated it!

(Edit) 07/02/2019

This is a well made film, with great performances throughout. However, I had not the slightest interest in any of the characters, or anything they did, and came to actively dislike them all by the end of the film. I can understand that some might enjoy it, but the Daniel Day Lewis character is so appalling, and not remotely sympathetic, that I actively wanted him to die (spoiler: he doesn't; I was dissappointed).

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Passengers

Multi-faceted story, brilliantly realised

(Edit) 23/01/2019

I enjoyed this film a lot more than I expected (and I did expect to enjoy it, else I wouldn't have had it on my list!)

My first impression was how amazing it looked. We're all used to amazing screen realisations of SF stories, but the ship looked incredibly believable, and the first 10 minutes almost took my breath away. And then the film did what great SF usually does, and made us focus about the inner psychological state of it protagonist. This only intensified when Jennifer Lawrence joined the story.

My interest waned slightly when the third act turned into a more traditional "peril in space" story, but it did act as a believable catalyst for the reconciliation of the two main characters, and I found the final ending really touching.

And Martin Sheen play a brilliant robot barman :-)

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Incredibles 2

Almost better than the original!

(Edit) 11/01/2019

The Incredibles is my favourite animated movie of the modern era - above any of the Toy Stories, the Shreks, Monsters Inc, etc. So while I was really looking forward to the sequel, I had some trepidation, in case it sullied the first one.

I needn't have worried - the new film is very good indeed. In some ways, it's better - the story genuinely kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was next. The animation was right up at the level we expect from Pixar, and I particularly liked the fact that Elastagirl took the lead in much of the story.

The first film is still my favourite, because...well, it's the first. But this one is a very worthy sequel.

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