Look, I’m going to be honest with you: between the two of us, we see at least three or four films a week, and frankly we don’t have time to review every single one of them. But that doesn’t mean we don’t think they’re worth writing about. In fact, there are loads of films that slip through the cracks because of time constraints and other real-world roadblocks that we’d love to talk about with you. So we’re introducing our once-in-a-while new feature, Missed Flicks – the movies we didn’t review but that we think you should hear about. On to the reviews!
This was actually the very first movie we saw in 2018, so it speaks to the sheer quality of this flick that I’m still thinking about it now. An exceptionally timely look at toxic masculinity through the lens of the Western, Hostiles sank without a trace and it totally didn’t deserve to; featuring spectacularly stunning cinematography courtesy of writer/director Scott Cooper, and boasting career-best performances from a killer ensemble cast (Rosamund Pike is the standout in a devastating, gruelling performance, but Wes Studi, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons and a particularly exceptional Christian Bale deliver in a big way), Hostiles is still one of the finest films of 2018 and it’s going to take a lot to unseat it from that spot.
Now, this was a movie that wasn’t ignored by the awards bodies, earning a nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars this year, but Loveless is still a movie I don’t see enough people talking about. Maybe it’s because it’s so painfully, relentlessly bleak – a Moscow-set family drama about a divorcing couple forced back together to track down their missing son, nothing I can say to you will prepare you for the sheer emotional brutality this movie metes out. But it really is worth it. Featuring a pair of fantastic leading performances by Maryana Spivak and Aleksey Rosin, the film is the latest in a long line of incisive social commentaries from controversial director Andrey Zvyaginstev, and easily stands up to the rest of his epoch-defining work.
Stepping away from the utterly bleak for a moment (and, I guess, continuing with the Jesse Plemons theme), let’s talk about Game Night, the first comedy I’ve actually enjoyed in years. I’m no fan of the improv-comedy that Apatow and his ilk made so popular with films like Superbad and The Hangover, and bloody hell is it nice to see a comedy that seems to have sprung from more than just a bunch of stoners lazing around in an apartment when one of them announces “dude, we’re so funny, they could make a movie about us”. Game Night is inventive, manic, pitch-black, and features a hilarious supporting turn from the aforementioned Plemons as the creepy cop who lives next door. What’s not to like?
Isle of Dogs
Now, as a person who likes arthouse movies, of course I love Wes Anderson. And I was seriously excited to see him turn his hand back to direction after the soaring success of his version of Fantastic Mr Fox. But in all honesty, I was pretty disappointed by Isle of Dogs – despite great performances from a wonderful voice cast (Bryan Cranston is the standout, because his entire career is now being the standout in whatever he turns up in), a decent comic throughline, and some beautiful animation, Isle of Dogs feels overlong at a mere one hundred minutes, and the story never really convincingly gets off the ground. Certainly not bad, but a let-down for fans looking for the great follow-up to The Grand Budapest Hotel that they’d been craving.
There seems to be a theme with horror movies that want to be viewed outside the glut of campy spooky crap that comes out around Halloween – started with Get Out’s release early last year, all the prestige horror is hitting out screens in Spring instead (see also: Ghost Stories, The Quiet Place). And Unsane, Steven Soderbergh’s iPhone-shot horror flick about a woman committed to a mental institution against her will, for sure falls into that category. Claire Foy stars, alongside The Blair Witch Project alum Joshuah Leonard, as the movie takes some deeply uncomfortable and unsettling turns into the unexpected. Foy dominates in a career-best performance, all spikes and sharp edges, while Soderbergh reminds us that he doesn’t need a big budget to deliver deliciously pulpy B-movie scares. Unsane didn’t go the way I thought it would and genuinely scared me in the process, and for that alone, it deserves a place amongst the best horror of 2018 so far.
What movies have you seen that you want to talk about? Are there any movies you specifically want to see us cover in the next few weeks? Let us know in the comments below and as ever, if you enjoyed this, please consider supporting us on Patreon!
(header image courtesy of Odeon)