Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson 2017)

imagesand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Phantom Thread (2017), Paul Thomas “No Daddy Issues Whatsoever” Anderson’s latest paean – albeit ambivalent – to men who are monstrous pricks is not the fabrics or the frocks or the fungi, nor is it the way in which the relationship between Edward Christian Reynolds and Bella Anastasia Alma deconstructs the myth of romantic love, revealing the way it works as ideological cover for the toxicity of heteronormativity under a patriarchal class system, no, the best thing about Fifty Shades Posher is the scene at the fancy-pants New Year’s party in which there is literally an elephant in the room – and no one talks about…

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Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh 2017)

82d829ff1bb81c97c8a5092c0db9dddeand so anyway it turn out that the best thing about the oddly lifeless Logan Lucky (2017) is not the spectacle of Soderbergh blaming its poor box-office on the marketing campaign rather than the odd lifelessness of it all, nor is it the tremendously funny I swear gag of beating the Disney juggernaut to cutting off the arm of the latest Skywalker, nor is it the actually quite amusing (though I think it is meant to be touching) scene in which Channing Tatum’s little girl tricks an auditorium full of West Virginians to sing ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ out of key, no,  the best thing about Logan Lucky is Daniel Craig’s very first scene in which, with an eye on his post-Bond future and the mortality of older actors, he auditions for every scenery-chewing role that, after their deaths, would previously have been offered to Steven Berkoff, Anthony Hopkins or Malcolm McDowell…

Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan 2017)

410yY+U925Land so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Christopher Nolan’s latest clunkily structured storm und drang indulgence, Dunroamin’ (2017), which is all about his bungalow in Weymouth, is the emotional rollercoaster of the last few minutes, which starts you thinking that leaving Europe might actually be worth it if we get to abandon Kenneth Branagh on the beaches, but then moments later it turns out that losing Tom Hardy to the Germans is the true cost of Brexit…

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Jake Kasdan 2017)

JumanjiWelcomeToTheJungleand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) is not the presence and performance of The Rock, who is, as pretty much always, the main attraction of a film you can’t quite believe you’re paying to see (though more on this below), nor is it the absence of Robin Williams, who just as often was really fucking irritating, even more so than Jack Black, who here is surprisingly – and thankfully – kept largely in check, nor is it the interesting spectacle of the excellent Karen Gillan, who insists on wearing a coat, playing a three-dimensional rendition of a two-dimensional avatar who nonetheless much more closely resembles an actual character than the one she gets to play in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies (even if Jake Kasdan and his chums were too lazy to choreograph ‘dance fighting’, one of her ‘strengths’, reducing it instead to ‘dancing then fighting’), nor was it waving my debit card too close to the machine just as they were changing the seat reservations for us, thus locking the system in a loop that meant they had to reboot it, which meant we would miss the start of the movie, which meant they instead waved us in without us actually having to pay, no, the best thing about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is the opportunity to see the reproduction of dominant ideology engineered with such precision, transforming Judith Butler’s arguments about the performativity of gender into tips on how to pick up guys, and throwing two actors of colour centre stage so as to pretend the colonial imagery and ideology underpinning it all has disappeared or is somehow magically no longer racist, cos seriously guys you really do need more than a little Hart and a big Johnson…

Tomboy (aka The Assignment) (Walter Hill 2016)

Cil8I9LWgAAOcRQand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Tomboy aka The Assignment (2016), Walter Hill’s tawdry and exploitative story about a hitman, Frank Kitchen, played by Michelle Rodriguez, complete with facial (and other, more southerly) merkins and a prosthetic male chest and torso every bit as convincing as Nicolas Cage’s chest in Ghost Rider (Johnson 2007) and a prosthetic penis (cos yes there is a full frontal shower scene), who is double-crossed by the gangster Honest John (naughty Anthony LaPaglia!) who hired her and sold to the wealthy-genius-but-struck-off-female-surgeon-who-dresses-mannishly-and-likes-to-experiment-on-homeless-people-who-won’t-be-missed-and-whose-brother-was-killed-by-Frank-the-hitman, Dr Rachel Jane (naughty Sigourney Weaver!), who exacts her revenge on her brother’s killer while simultaneously trying to free Frank from the trap of toxic masculinity by performing unwanted and non-consenting sex change surgery on him, and who then – like the gangsters – becomes the target of revenge for the female Frank, also played by Michelle Rodriguez (who won an acting award for this shit, though admittedly a fairly obscure German one), again with some full frontal nudity, presumably to reassure the audience that the male body prosthetics caused no lasting damage to Letty, is not Hill’s unnecessarily complex nested narrative that jumps back-and-forth in time in order to cover up what looks like a collapsed budget and disastrous shoot while minimising anything resembling interest or suspense, nor is it that he also managed to trick Tony Shalhoub into appearing as Dr Galen (how long did it take to come up with that name?) in long and badly written dialogue scenes with the now-institutionalised Dr Jane, nor is it that somehow Walter Hill manages to make this tawdry and exploitative story so very bland that you are left wishing Abel Ferrara had directed it, or a young Jonathan Demme, or even a young Walter Hill, so as to make it properly tawdry, no, the very best thing about Tomboy aka The Assignment is that, despite Hill’s ploddingly pedestrian and mostly completely inoffensive treatment of this tawdry and exploitative tale, he nonetheless – and albeit by an extraordinarily circuitous route – manages to leave you feeling as dirty as you should by making you grateful  he has always resisted the urge to direct a movie in the Alien franchise he produces, which means you are grateful for films directed by Sir Diddley Squat…

Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi 2017)

obvgswamufrzand so anyway it turns out the best thing about Thor: Ragnarok (2017) was not the automatic ticket machines being out of action so we had to queue up at the box office to collect tickets we’d already paid for, nor was it the cinema’s decision to start a screening of Justice League (Snyder 2017) at roughly the same time so we had to queue among even bigger idiots doomed to even greater disappointment than me, nor was it the curiously Oirish-sounding music on the soundtrack every time the story took us to Norway, nor was it Tom Hiddleston’s always amusing inability to actually deliver lines of dialogue, which this time faced some tough competition from an oddly Americanised Frumious Bandersnatch, nor was it Karl Urban’s rather baffling but spot-on London cabbie accent, though it probably helped make Idris Elba feel at home during the two or three days he was on set, nor was it Marvel/Disney’s cunning ploy of bringing in the always vastly overrated mildly funny Taika Waititi to imbue an otherwise plodding-but-not-quite-as-plodding-as-usual late franchise entry with some mild and vastly overrated funniness, as well as to pay homage to Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon (1980) while generating the shifts in tone necessary to clumsily staple the main franchise universe to the version in Guardians of the Galaxy movies, nor was it the disappointing absence of the Rock (Thor: RagnaROCK!!!!) whose trailered Jumanji  just looks better and better in comparison, while still looking terrible, you understand, no, the best thing about Thor: Ragnarok is perhaps almost the most ignominious, in that it fulfilled a long-held shamefully festive and object-cathecting  fantasy, that is, to see Cate Blanchett play Servalan in panto….

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos 2017)

KSD_1Sheet_Alt_Curzon_HRand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), Yorgos Lanthimos’s tepidly comic but ultimately toothless mash-up of Ballard, Kubrick and Lynch, is not the relentlessly crawling pace that actually gives you time to watch not paint dry but Colin Farrell’s beard grow (and turn increasingly grey), nor is it Alicia Silverstone’s wise decision to quit the movie after a single scene because it required her to suck Colin Farrell’s fingers, nor is it the fact that I have finally managed to stay awake all the way through a film by Yorgos “no idea how to wrap up this story” Lanthimos, though this time ironically it could well have been the praying for sleep to come that kept me from napping, nor is it the fact that no deer, sacred or otherwise, were killed during the making of this film, no, the best thing about The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the immensely tall cameraman employed to do the long tracking-in and tracking-out shots, whose head you constantly fear is going to come a cropper on light fittings and door ways, thus adding a much-needed sense of danger and suspense as this never-seen lanky technician is the nearest thing to a character you could give a flying fuck about…