Whiplash

Ohhhhhh.

It’s quite a while since I was left speechless at the end of a film (I think the last time was Under The Skin).

I really struggled with the first two-thirds of a film, with the bullying, with the abuse, with the fact that a teacher at any level was allowed to get away with such behaviour.

And then (spoiler alert, don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the film) the incredible finale just drew everything together and amazingly turned it all upside down. In fact, it all happened in just couple of frames – where the father peeps through a crack in the door and sees his son on stage. Something in that swift shot changed my whole view of the film. Not of the initial behaviour, but of how complicit the student was in the process.

I know J K Simmons is getting all the plaudits for his performance as the teacher, and it is definitely a strong one. But Miles Teller as the student is equally as good, in a smaller and therefore perhaps overlooked way.

Jupiter Ascending

Aw, you know, I totally understand why people will not get on with this film at all.

But at least the Wachowskis try to do things a little differently. For example, the eponymous Jupiter at least has some real agency by the end of the film, and makes her own decisions on her own terms.

Yes, Channing (who is absolutely, fine, by the way) does keep popping up to save her, but he doesn’t tell her what to do.

And yes, she does go along with the whole thing rather too easily in the beginning without asking the obvious questions.

But I had fun with the film, despite the fact that the fight/action scenes are a tad too long, and Bae Doo-Na is criminally underused.

Now, would somebody please get Eddie Redmayne a throat lozenge …

American Sniper

Even worse than I had expected, but for totally different reasons.

This could have been an interesting film about war and post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, there are moments when I imagine the film thinks it *is* a film about PTSD. But it’s actually just Clint continuing to pontificate about What It Means To Be A Man.

Bradley just looks vacant, and the attempts at showing any elements of humanity are ham-fisted.

If this man is genuinely an American hero, then I despair.

Foxcatcher

There’s something really eerie and unsettling about the tone of this film, from start to finish. It’s clear from the outset that the relationships are not right, without being able to pin things down, and I felt on edge throughout.

Solid turns by Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum, but Steve Carell’s performance as John du Pont was just too mannered, and at times he looked like he was holding his head at an angle to stop the prosthetic nose from falling off.

Best if you see the film knowing nothing about it – unfortunately a Guardian news (not film) headline spoilt it for me.