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The Round Up #27 - May 2024

Updated: May 31

Hello Buffs, hope you're all doing well. May has been a bit of a blur really. My team Leeds United has taken up alot of my time this month with a trip to London to see them play at Wembley in the Championship playoffs (we lost btw, grr). All hell broke loose on streaming, some of which is highlighted in the pages this month. Sometimes I feel like I need another set of eyeballs to cover it all. Also, if you are missing your fix of Germans rapping about rhubarb, well wait no longer. This (see directly below) has been the most often played track on my Spotify this month. I know, I'm very, very sorry. Anyway, that's it for May, roll on the end of June. We'll be knee deep in the Euro's by then and salivating at the thought of Wimbledon and the Olympics. Can't wait. See you soon, love and slop, Steve xxx.


PS - thanks to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo for the shoutout on their show last week. Bless them. x




In The Land of Saints and Sinners (2023)***

While the Banshees of Inisherin went some way to prove, Ireland is not so awash with twinkly-eyed ginger village idiots that are always drunk and doing a merry jig in the pub to the giddy melodies from the one local lunatic with enough musical talent to get a tune out of a fiddle, it sometimes did the exact opposite. This is just as beautiful to look at, but the script is nowhere near as accomplished as anything Martin McDonagh would present us. Bringing weight is Liam Neeson and Kerry Conlon (seen in the the very movie above) set in the seventies during the troubles and the effects a group of IRA members hiding out in a small unassuming village has on the community in general and one nearly retired assassin, in particular. Simple and unchallenging, but Conlon is great as always, even if the whole thing smells a bit politically whiffy.



The Idea of You (2024)***

Hmm, this could have been tricky, so kudos to Hathaway for taking it on. To be fair, there aren't many that could get away with it. But she does, just about. I'm old enough to see her alleged age as jailbait still, really, so perhaps I'm not the best frame of reference. Forty-year-old mother of sixteen-year-old daughter falls for a 24-year old popstar, and he also, helplessly for her. Well, you would, right? She's just so lovely. Who wouldn't? It's a bit too twee for my liking but the suburban middle-aged mothers will lap it up. Slightly above average if only for the size of the directors balls, before Hathway stamped all over them in her Louboutins, which she definitely paid for herself.



Unfrosted (2024).5

An unbelievable waste of time and talent. I genuinely expected a comedy. Seems like I was expecting too much. How can one person (Seinfeld) with such a terrific legacy to take advantage of, with such obviously useful connections, make such an awful balls-up? This didn't raise as much as a grin, let alone an outright laugh. Gob-smacked stony-faced ambivalence all round. Awful, just awful.



Arthur The King (2024)***

I was rolling my eyes at the thought of having to sit through a sports drama starring Mark Wahlberg, but got much more out of it than expected, at least when Arthur turned up. Having always been a dog person, the second half of this was always going to make me smile. A family-friendly inoffensive couple of hours with layers of good messages thrown in. No, I'm not crying. Shut up, right.



The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024)***

Guy Ritchie's Inglourious Basterds Lite really. As usual , Ritchie's script is sharp and incisive and the talent, particularly the magnetic Henry Cavill, is openly having way too much fun than they should be doing, with Cavill seemingly shrugging off his often understated characters, given free rein to let loose, a world away from The Witcher, Superman or Argylle. The plot skips along amiably and without too much issue for the entire two hour runtime and will keep you entertained throughout. An often unheard of tale, from the diaries of Winston Churchill, opened on 2016, that went unnoticed and unheralded until some sixty years later.



Love Lies Bleeding (2024)****

Rose Glass is making quite the name for herself, with the likes of Saint Maud and now this stark and gritty effort starring Kristen Stewart and The Mandalorian's Katy O'Brian. Also starring the likes of Ed Harris, James Franco and Jena Malone and you can begin to appreciate the quality behind the project before letting Glass loose on such sights she has to show you. It's grim and grubby, you can feel the dirt under Stewart's fingernails and doesn't pull punches, giving you warts and all. Glass is refreshingly visceral and unapologetic for the stories she tells and the flawed characters she delivers. If you enjoyed Killer Joe, then you know the vibe. Recommended.



Model House (2024)*

I knew nothing about this whatsoever before sitting down with it. Arguably, you could say this is sometimes a good thing. Otherwise, I may not have bothered. Five 'models' spend the night in a shared house while on a job together, on the night of a home invasion which is about as convincing as the acting from the assembled group of vacuous Instagram influencers featured. This is just about as good as you might imagine, so really, even at under ninety minutes, this is still a chore you really don't need to suffer.



The Garfield Movie (2024)**.5

One of very few movies that I watched immediately. Not sure why this is the case for this ninety-odd minute adventure about the feline worlds' biggest lasagna lover and most lucid detractor of Mondays. Even I have happy memories of a more innocent time of Jim Davis and his imagination, before The Simpsons even existed. To be honest, besides the obvious graphical enhancements, this is something of a time capsule, with decent voice acting from Chris Pratt, Samuel Jackson, Nicholas Hoult and Hannah Waddingham. A madcap, raucous adventure with some nice satsuma-tinted flourishes, but this is aimed squarely at the kids and nostalgia junkies.



Atlas (2024)*.5

We really shouldn't be surprised that a movie about AI in a dystopian near future really has no evidence of a soul. Casting Lopez as the missing link in the relationships between AI and humanity is no help either, given that her performance is woefully one-dimensional. Add to this that the writing is bordering on embarrassing and that the idea has been done superbly well elsewhere, its shortcomings are tiresome. A bigger waste of time and money you will struggle to find this year.



Femme (2024)***.5

Came for George MacKay if I'm honest and he didn't disappoint. This addition to queer cinema from the BBC deals with some difficult, delicate subject matter as a drag artist is beaten severely in the street one night and then finds himself with the option for revenge on his abusers, and one in particular. This is an intriguing character study, delivered slow-burn, seductively teasing its audience with its potential outcome, with a plot that will keep you second guessing.



Stella Maris (1918)***

Lovingly remastered to 19fps, the Mary Pickford Foundation have worked hard to get this to the state we currently find it. The story of two polarised girls, falling in love with the same man, both played by Pickford, with the aid of what was revolutionary at the time; that being double exposure, allowing both performances from Pickford, already an established Hollywood star, to be on screen at the same time where necessary. Lauded more these days for the technical brilliance than the performances or the story, this often suffers from narrative inadequacy, often an issue with the silent era of the early twentieth century, which was regularly a cause for a lack of depth, though the updated score goes some way to improve the tone. A marvel for its time, nonetheless.


Civil War (2024)***

I don't think there can be too much in the way of argument that Alex Garland is a bit handy when 'doing films an' that'. Civil War, his sixth directorial effort, however, has been my least favourite, featuring Kirsten Dunst as a photojournalist in a dystopian American future in the middle of a, yes you guessed it, civil war. She's on her way to 'DC' to try and snag an interview with the President, who is losing the war in double-quick time. The race is on then to get there, despite many obstacles, before the President buys the farm. The pacing is imaginative, with a plot that this side of the pond just doesn't have too much knowledge or experience of. Maybe its just harder for us to imagine Cheshire and East Anglia getting shirty with Westminster and declaring war on Rishi Sunak. We are more likely to just tut quite loudly and roll our eyes. Feels like a drag though the conclusion is entertaining, but the rest feels mostly like needless, unbelievable fluff.



Tarot (2024)*.5

Final Destination wannabe that is unfortunately subservient to its demographic, making this less bloody and less scary than it really ought to be. A group of friends have their cards read, each being given a different final card, which in turn becomes their ultimate end. Patched together just about enough narratively to almost make sense, albeit nonetheless ridiculous, this is bearable but fruitless and unchallenging.





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