The Round Up #9 (Nov 22)
Smile (2022) - Was a good deal better than I was expecting. This seemingly one trick pony was truly accomplished in places, and pushed all the right tension buttons in fits and starts. It didn't maintain it throughout the entire running time, but not by accident. The potential insinuation of terror was good enough to keep this reviewer engaged throughout. Sosie Bacon's fear-addled unravelling Doctor is mostly believable and the plot will feel disarmingly familiar to the likes of 'It Follows'. Altogether, it's not as much of a ride as the aforementioned horror yarn, but the right side of crazy.
The Last Shift (2020) - This one started promisingly. I was cheered, despite knowing literally nothing about it, when Richard Jenkins appeared, followed closely by Ed O'Neill and then Allison Tolman. Perhaps this was going to be okay. I mean, the talent on show almost guaranteed it, even if they just did the the thing they normally did. Right? Well yes, for the most part. It's occasionally funny but rarely dwells on it and often poignant and heartfelt. The story of two ends of the same stick is never as telling as it might be, written not quite well enough for the social commentary it's trying to espouse.
The End Of Us (2021) - Highly budget conscious, this production created during and mainly concerning itself with the pandemic, this is well written and performed amiably by engaging talent that does quite alot with what appears to be very little. It's not the last word in drama and seldom funny enough to cause an actual laugh out loud, whilst it tries quite obviously to be both.
Just harmless and charming enough to sit through the once, but really, there isn't much here to coax you back or wish for more.
The Issue With Elvis (2021) - Not much love (or hate for that matter) amongst my peers for this under the radar effort from 2021, featuring the various talents of the Wincott family, with Charlotte directing and starring Jeff and Wolfgang. It's low on budget and it shows, but none too garishly as to make you wince. When a movie features practically all of its runtime to footage of the woods or parks or just outdoors in general, you know the mighty dollar is having a say in things. The script and its delivery is a little stunted throughout, but dialogue is not exactly liberal early on. The performances are fine, but at best average at their highest point. Carefully curated with the love of a passion project about abandonment, mental health and friendship, though not purporting any real expertise. Slow-paced, deliberate and not for the impatient.
Sharp Stick (2022) - Unlikely and mostly unbelievable coming-of-age story of Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth), a 26-year-old virgin, who has hit that point in her life where she needs a damn good seeing to. And she gets it from Josh (Jon Bernthal) the father of the Down's son she is caregiving. After this relationship ends, she starts a voyage of sexual self-discovery, with all of the tragedy and comedy involved in such a pursuit.
Lena Dunham blows hot and cold if we're honest, but this is maybe one of her better efforts, with some great casting. It is not as funny as it wants to be, by some degree and not wry or contemporary enough to be truly relevant either. As a throwaway, it's fun and easy, but little more.
Love Actually (2003) - Only nineteen years late. I blame Eastenders. At the time, I was a huge Richard Curtis fan, loved romantic comedies and hated, with a fair degree of passion, Martine McCutcheon. When she featured on Eastenders, I had a very strong feeling that she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. Hence, the lateness of my arrival. Everybody I knew and also didn't know loved it, apparently, so here we are. Better late than never. Ostensibly British in its character's apparent inability to express themselves in regard to their feelings, this was clearly a shameless stab at cementing Curtis' reputation, which it does, despite it's obvious overladen flaws.
Where Are You (2021) - Extended perfume advert with rare, incidental narration by Anthony Hopkins. The story of a previously successful but now struggling fashion photographer and the muses he has known. Much more style than substance, really, with an unforgivable script and acting performed by a bunch of pretty people that happened to be around at the time. It drags and meanders and flounces pointlessly throughout and even when the semblance of a plot is approached, there is little for the viewer to grasp. Not sure why Hopkins agreed to this. Must have been duty or money, I expect, but it could never be described as validity or even credible.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) - I'm quite sure James Gunn doesn't want us to take this seriously. If so, it wouldn't come off well because, well...it's just rubbish, really. But well intentioned rubbish. Looks like he wrote it on the toilet after a particularly demanding curry. Didn't make me laugh even once, but I smiled often.
The Estate (2022) - At first glance, this had real promise. Toni Collette, Kathleen Turner, David Duchovny and Anna Faris? A gluttony of talent, but the warning bells were still ringing before the opening credits had finished when I spied that this was produced by Sarah Jessica Parker, Admittedly I am not a fan, and my walls went straight up. She has a knack of creating the most vacuous and undernourished projects that leave you with either a bitter taste in your mouth or no taste at all. It must be have been the extended exposure to Sex & The City that makes her this insipid in reality.