Goodbye 2016, it was not-nice knowing ya!
After all the food I’ve eaten and those cheeky pounds that have been added to my waistline over the festive period, it’s time to get back to writing nonsense about films. Soz, peeps.
My last cinema outing of 2016 was fittingly titled: Why Him? Starring Bryan Cranston and the always-hateable James Franco in the swear-filled father-boyfriend team-off, directed by I Love You, Man’s John Hamburg, it turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable watch.
It was a nice feeling going into a film expecting nothing and getting something. I mean, the something was dirty – as in, finding the loud-mouthed humour even remotely funny – but I hold my hands up: Why Him? made me ‘lol’.
I do think its biggest strength is Bryan Cranston. The man has serious comedic timing and his straight-faced act balanced off well against James Franco’s well, Franco-ness. There’s plenty of mis-fires, mainly from the latters line of toilet based humour, and though his no-shits-given millionaire act often out-stayed its welcome, this isn’t an outright Franco-bashing party. Without one, the other (Cranston) wouldn’t have worked and visa versa. It’s a double act. A different kind of one we’re used to, but it worked.
There’s some decent pop-culture gags thrown into the mix and the former Malcolm in the Middle stars disdain for his potential son-in-law is worth a laugh or two by itself, while Keegan-Michael Key offers decent support as the eccentric ‘property manager’ Gustav. And you know what else? Amongst the dick jokes, there’s a sweetness to it. You are what you are and all that jazz. I’ll give you that, Franco.
Another video game adaptation, another critical mauling. With Assassin’s Creed it’s not without trying, either. My two sense is this: it’s been harshly received.
Justin Kurzel – who directed the beautifully shot, but kind of snooze-tastic Macbeth adaptation last year with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard – re-teamed with the two stars for another aesthetically pleasing outing. It certainly looks the part; there’s a dull looking edge to its aesthetics that worked well with the edgy, dark vibe the film was rocking. Yet, by the end, your left scratching your head. What? Where? Why? Like, the set-up’s cool. The whole Templar Knights versus secret assassins in a historical battle for the ages thing its got going on peaked my interest. However, then you’ve got the whole going back in time thing going on too. I mean, Brendan Gleeson shows up, followed by fleeting moments of Charlotte Rampling and it’s all about ‘huh?’
Fassbender and Cotillard are pros, and despite not having a lot to work with given the amount of set-up this tries to cram in (and not all that convincingly), they do a serviceable job. Jeremy Irons – who could make you shiver by just reading the phone book – is my favourite part as the film’s palm-facingly obvious big bad, just, ‘cos, he’s Jeremy freakin’ Irons!
There’s some nifty action sequences and an obvious set-up for a sequel (or ten), and when it got going I thought it was fairly enjoyable action-fantasy fodder. It’s certainly the best game adaptation I’ve seen over the past twelve months… Yes, I’m looking at you Warcraft!
Manchester by the Sea
I was fortunate enough to catch a preview screening of Kenneth Lonergan’s awards favourite Manchester by the Sea before Christmas. I had prepared for a weepy, but what I found was more than a flick intended on keeping Kleenex in business: it was a wondrous mix of humour, charm, wit and heart.
Firstly, this is Casey Affleck’s career best performance. He must be thanking his lucky stars Matt Damon passed on the role, ‘cos the younger Affleck looks good to earn his first Oscar – and deservedly so! A master of awkwardness, Batfleck’s little bro captured a guy facing his demons in such an understated, yet thoroughly engrossing, manner. Tasked with looking after his nephew (the hilarious Patrick, played by Lucas Hedges) following the death of his brother, Affleck’s Lee Chandler must face his challenging past so he can get a move on with his future. It sounds old and cliché, but it’s done so astutely it’s a marvel to watch his character change the way he does. Sad, in fact. Very sad.
It’s very Boston, but that’s a good thing. Who doesn’t love the Bostonian accent, eh? But it’s just a real gem of a film that’ll take you through the mixer: it’s far funnier than you’d think, but then a big scene happens and it’ll slap you around the face. To top it all off, Michelle Williams comes on the scene and there’s a moment – just a chance run-in between her and Affleck – that’ll blow you away.