Film Reviews by Champ

Welcome to Champ's film reviews page. Champ has written 42 reviews and rated 41 films.

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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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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

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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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.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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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.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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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.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
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