TERMINATOR: DARK FATE (2019)

dir. Tim Miller. So many great concepts, which don’t really seem to work together. I love the idea of bringing back Sarah Connor as a PTSD suffering Terminator hunter, and I love the concept of the way they bring back Schwarzenegger. The extremely corny writing, throwback lines, and clichés are very irritating. Very cool to see Mackenzie Davis, who is amazing in the TV series ‘Halt and Catch Fire’. The main villain is not really scary enough. The film seems afraid to use the famous Terminator drum theme, inserting it at weird moments, and mixing it with unsuitable orchestral backing. Despite having the same director as DEADPOOL (2016), the humor doesn’t really work, with a couple of amusing exceptions. 

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU (2019)

dir. Rob Letterman. The film noir parody elements early on are lots of fun, but are disappointingly dropped half way along, and replaced with a generic alien/monster story. The humor never really works, and Ryan Reynolds comic timing is not really utilized. The concept of Pokémon and humans living together is a good idea, but not really explored – I was hoping for a similar dynamic to how ‘His Dark Materials’ shows humans and their dæmons working together. I suspect very young viewers (surely the intended audience?) would find the film noir influenced plot very confusing, it’s almost a parody of CHINATOWN (1974).

READY OR NOT (2019)

dir. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett. In the genre of ‘humans hunting humans’, this is far superior to THE HUNT (2020). Just as much violence and gore as the other film, but infinitely more enjoyable. Lots of fun watching some actors from TV series seen in the past, Adam Brody (The OC), Mark O’Brien (Halt and Catch Fire), Henry Czerny (Revenge). Samara Weaving is sensational, giving a real movie star performance. The image of her in a torn off, blood stained wedding dress, and high top yellow Cons is horror movie magic. Brilliantly entertaining if you don’t mind lots of violence and gore.

ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE (2019)

dir. Nahnatchka Khan. Very disappointed. The only scenes that seem to work are the ones with Keanu Reeves, they’re like from a different movie. Ali Wong and Randall Park have some chemistry, but it’s wasted. I expected much more from the creator and writer of the brilliant ‘Don’t Trust the B—– In Apartment 23’.

JUST MERCY (2019)

dir. Destin Daniel Cretton. On the surface, a straight forward legal drama, based on the infuriating true story of a man falsely accused of murder, by a small town racist sheriff. The nuanced and realistic performances of the Michael B. Jordan as the young lawyer, and Jamie Foxx as the wronged man are spot on. I enjoyed Jordan’s naturalistic lawyerly style very much, his justified fear at the local racist bully cops, his near despair at a particular case, and restrained joy at his wins are all believable and honest. He’s not a 90s Tom Cruise style lawyer who slams the table at every loss, and pumps his fist with a manic grin at every win. It’s also largely a movie that will make you angry at the fact that capital punishment is still a thing. Even after the movie, you realize that innocent people are still being murdered by many different nations. Tim Blake Nelson is brilliant and tragic. Over two hours, but it flew by for me. 

THE DIRT (2019)

dir. Jeff Tremaine. The movie based on the official autobiography of Mötley Crüe. I missed out on being a Mötley Crüe metal head by about five years. When I was at the right age, it was all Nirvana, TOOL and Spiderbait. I didn’t enjoy this movie. It’s fun watching Iwan Rheon (The bastard Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones) play a grumpy alcoholic lead guitarist. Every band member comes across as an insufferable prick. I took no joy in watching their rise to fame, and no pleasure at the inevitable collapse. The band freely admits, and demonstrates using women they same way they use drugs, which is hand waved away by “rock and roll lifestyle, whoo!” — Gross. For hard core Mötley Crüe fans, there must be a thrill in seeing the band trash hotel rooms, and hook up with fans, but it was not for me. 

ฮาวทูทิ้ง (HAPPY OLD YEAR) (2019)

dir. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit. Beautiful heartbreaking story about throwing things out, and moving on. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying (star of BAD GENIUS (ฉลาดเกมส์โกง) (2017)) is breathtakingly perfect for this. The way the Nawapol’s camera lingers on her face, showing her boredom, irritation, sadness, introspection is perfect. Her mother character played by Apasiri Nitibhon, is low-key the heart of the movie — she steals every scene she is in. I would love a prequel about her character, or a sequel about how she lives after the events of this movie. In plot terms, it’s a small family drama, but it’s very moving, when you allow the minimalist style to wash over you and pay attention to the intricate performances. The music is understated and charming. The art direction (helped by the luxurious music), evokes Studio Ghibli levels of charming detail, and the memory of space. Gaston Bachelard would love this movie. Watch out for cameo by Bangkok City City Gallery co-founder Akapol “Op” Sudasna!

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC (2019)

dir. Todd Strauss-Schulson. Simple idea, single woman stuck in a romantic comedy, flawlessly executed. Constantly hilarious, but I imagine you need to be a fan of the romantic comedy genre (as I am). It pulls off the magic trick of satirizing romantic comedies, while simultaneously being a beautiful weepy romantic comedy itself. It’s packed full of visual gags, many in the background, it would be worth re-watching to try and catch them all. Rebel Wilson is hilarious. Excellent cameo by Jennifer Saunders, which they should not have revealed in the trailer. One of the funniest films I have seen in a long time, loved it.

FROZEN II (2019)

dir. Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee. Is the Arendelle built dam plot line a critique of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and implication of debt-diplomacy exercised by one country over a less powerful, but strategically important neighboring country? It’s certainly not, not about that. It’s also a charming, beautiful looking fairy tale, with many moments of brilliant animation that reminded me of FANTASIA (1940). Some of the establishment shots seem inspired by Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The songs are all beautifully sung, but nothing to the ear worm level of ‘Let It Go’, but you know what they say…

THE GENTLEMEN (2019)

dir. Guy Ritchie. For a star studded gangster film, this was one boring, unfunny film. The “villains” were not scary or funny. Matthew McConaughey looks bored out of his head. It’s good to see Jeremy Strong in a big movie. I should have re-watched some episodes of Succession instead.