Film Reviews by Champ

Welcome to Champ's film reviews page. Champ has written 29 reviews and rated 28 films.

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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 :-)

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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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).

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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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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Battle of the Sexes

Entertaining modern history

(Edit) 03/12/2018

I'm now old enough to be watching historical films about events that I actually lived through! But I was a boy when these events happened, and didn't fully realise the terrible treatment that women athletes suffered at the time. The acting, especially from Emma Stone, as Billie Jean King, and Steve Carrel, as Bobby Riggs, is exceptional, and all the supporting cast are very good too. Even if you don't know the story, it's clear how it's going to pan out, but despite that, it kept my attention to the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film - the era was brilliantly evoked, for better and worse, and it does show how far we have moved towards gender equality, even though it's been a very slow journey - the films events took place in 1973, and Wimbledon finally paid equal prize money to men and women in 2007.

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American Made

Funny but chilling

(Edit) 14/11/2018

On the surface, this was a fairly outlandish romp, with Cruise perfectly cast as the pilot with the million dollar smile and negotiable morals.

But the laughter freezes a little when you realise that most of this actually happened! The killer moment for me was seeing Nancy Reagan on TV with her "Just say no" message, while her husband's government is actually helping import cocaine.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and rate it nearly has highly as The Big Short, which made me feel much the same.

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Goodbye Christopher Robin

You'll have a hard heart if this doesn't provoke a tear

(Edit) 27/09/2018

I loved this film. While the Pooh books are a part of my childhood, I don't feel any tremendous affection for them, so it's not down to that. I think the film does a great job of capturing the stilted and frozen emotions of the English upper classes of the time, and how that was passed on down the generations by the use of nannies. Christopher Robin clearly loved his nanny "Nou" much more than his mother, who was more interested in being a socialite in London. The film captured this very well, and also how the mother's distance allowed a closeness to develop between the child and his father, that eventually led to the Winnie the Pooh books. It doesn't shy away from the exposure and impact that being the inspiration for the books had on the young boy either, and his determination to break away from that and join the army and fight in WW2. The film takes some liberties with the truth on what happens next (no plot spoilers here), but CR's rapprochemont with his father at the end of the film is incredibly moving - or it was for this viewer, anyway.

Highly recommended.

PS: if you want to see how brilliant and versatile an actress Margot Robbie is, watch her in I, Tonya (also extremely good) the night after watching her play CR's uptight mother in this film.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Finding Your Feet

A little predictable, but still very enjoyable

(Edit) 20/09/2018

There's nothing groundbreaking or new about this film, and in many ways it is a very typical British comedy-drama. But it does have a great cast, and they are all at the top of their game, managing to turn in very good performances with a somewhat variable script. The humour was laugh-out-loud funny, and the sad parts were sad enough to elicit a tear from this viewer.

This film fits the audience demopgraphic establised by Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and if you liked that you will definitely like this. I did.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Breathe

Amazingly uplifting story

(Edit) 25/09/2018

The synopsis of this film would put most people off - a man is paralysed from the next down after contracting polio, and then lives with it for 30 years. But in fact, the film is wonderfully uplifting and inspiring, and great illustration of the tenacity of the human spirit. Of course, the tragedy of the story is very tragic indeed, and the tears definitely flowed at some points of the film, but the was lots and lots of laughter too.

The cast is excellent throughout, but Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy deserve to be singled out for portraying what is essentially a deep and moving love story. The phrase "love conquers all" is the sort of cliche that would normally make me gag, but in this case it damn well did!

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