April Film Diary


Missed doing my April roundup while away at the TCM Film Festival, time to catch up.

Love & Mercy (2014) Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson viewed from two periods in his career, played by two actors. Careful and compassionate look at the troubles of fame and family, the demands of mainstream/corporate conformity, and even a peek inside his head, with less time spent on the creative process.

Inception (2010), intricate, impressive dream-maze with interesting characters to follow through it.

Life of Crime (2013) enjoyable, easygoing and amusing Elmore Leonard adaptation, a pre-Jackie Brown kidnapping-turned-relationship caper, nice work by Jennifer Aniston.

Maggie (2015) Schwarzenegger plays father to a teen who’s turning into a zombie, in a dreary, arty disease-of-the-week movie.

San Andreas (2015), tons of panic and destruction that numbs the mind and would have been way more fun if, in a bid to top 70s disaster films, it featured an all-star cast making cameos in creatively grisly death scenes.

The Loft (2014), unlikable bros who deserve the tawdry mess created by the murdered woman in their shared cheaters’ condo.


Ida (2013), short, excellent mysterious journey of discovery for the orphaned young nun who unearths an unexpected background before taking her vows, guided on her quest by her lonely, lost once-powerful aunt. Wonderful acting brings to life this odd couple and their discovery of freedom and friendship, leading to wisdom and tragedy.

Lost River (2014), Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, a dark, trashy and stylish fairy tale. Ben Mendelsohn is good and creepy.

Violence (1947) OK noirish B about a sham activist organization, for a Dark Pages writeup.

Wild Card (2015) delivers the action I want from a Statham film but doesn’t deliver the grit and drama it was aiming for. This second adaptation of William Goldman’s Heat (the first try was Burt Reynolds’ 1986 movie) doesn’t make the brooding, searching tough guy a convincing character, or put him in a story worth caring about.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) coming-of-age for two budding filmmakers (their private library of auteurist remakes is fun) that’s neither manipulative nor melodramatic.

Officer Down (2013) nothing special, James Woods, Dominic Purcell, David Boreanaz, Stephen Lang, and Walton Goggins in a fair crime thriller.

Walk of Shame (2014) humiliating story and a waste of Elizabeth Banks’ talent.

Jurassic World (2015), built for comfort and popcorn entertainment but forgettable, with cardboard characters and one excessively cruel death.

Wanted (2008) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) for a fun discussion on this episode of the Filmwhys podcast.

Z for Zachariah (2015), interesting, unpredictable post-apocalyptic romantic triangle examining faith, guilt and trust through interactions between sheltered optimist Margot Robbie, cautious intellectual Chiwetel Ejiofor and unsettling charmer Chris Pine.

Cadillac Records (2008), Chicago blues ensemble biopic centred on Muddy Waters, his rise, rivalries, racism and fate as trends pass. Inaccurate but soapy, featuring a parade of Chess Records icons, including Beyonce as Etta James.

Dead Silence (2007) ventriloquist dummy horror movie that’s not the least bit scary.

National Treasure (2004) mindless fun, enjoyable treasure hunt.

Mr. Holmes (2015), the iconic detective struggles with dementia, angered as his famous logic fails him, swatting away anyone who’s concerned, and bonding with his housekeeper’s boy, who encourages and idolizes him. So-so plot but complex, moving performances from Laura Linney and Ian McKellen.


Spy (2015) delightfully raunchy, violent, uplifting, and feminist story of a CIA desk jockey finally given the chance to shine as an operative. Now, this is giving Jason Statham something to act; he hilariously spoofs his heroic screen persona with his pompous, escalating, outlandish tales, Peter Serafinowicz’s accent and Don Juan act is shiftier than Rose Byrne’s villainess.

Repulsion (1965) psychological terror that’ll get a post along with the other early Polanski films I caught up with in May.

15 movies at TCM fest, see that list here

4 movies on the plane to and from the fest, will watch The Revenant and Carol again on a real screen to truly enjoy:

Joy (2015), Scorsese-lite take on a woman’s rags-to-riches picture with less skilful use of music, and a great performance by Jennifer Lawrence.

The Revenant (2015) insists on the brutality of man and nature with beautiful visuals and cold, hard drilling music, epic but leans toward affected and overwrought.

Carol (2015), at heart “just” an authentic, asymmetrical May-December romance in the face of giant obstacles, with the added pain and challenges of being a gay couple in a more punishing time, having to hide longing and happiness.

The Big Short (2015), riveting, fast-paced expose of the men who saw the 2008 housing crash coming and positioned themselves to profit, full of likably horrid, self-centred characters.

the ones I posted on:

Year to date: 177 films


8 thoughts on “April Film Diary”

    1. That’s a tearjerker for sure, wonderful work by McKellen but then I could watch him in anything. Looking forward to The Dresser with him and Hopkins!

  1. Always enjoy your monthly round up posts. Have to say ‘Ida’ sounds like my kind of film and I will be adding it to my watch list. Have only seen two of the films you mentioned ‘Mr Holmes’ which I enjoyed immensely, think Laura Linney is one of the finest English language actresses of her generation and ‘Cadillac Records’ which I really struggled to stick with, thought this was a poor film.

    1. Thanks, always fun to share what we’re watching. I really liked Ida, very moving and the 60s B&W style suits the era and tone. Excellent acting there, and I totally agree with you that Linney was outstanding in Mr. Holmes. Those were easily my top movies of this batch. Cadillac Records went too far into a soap for me, didn’t really enjoy it but I did like Jeffrey Wright.

  2. I loved Ida and have been recommending it to everyone. Can you believe that scene with the Aunt at the window? I rewound & watched that scene three times just because it was so unexpected.

    The Big Short was interesting in the way it was filmed. I was wondering how they would make a screen adaptation of the book, and thought they did a great job of presenting all the numbers & concepts. (Many of the concepts went over my head when I read the book.)

    Yes, San Andreas would have been better if they’d borrowed ideas from the 1970s disaster movies. We just watched Earthquake with Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner et al, and enjoyed it way more than San Andreas.

    1. I rewound that moment too! I couldn’t believe my eyes and thought I’d blinked and missed something. Wonderful performances from both women, and I love what they brought to each other’s lives. So authentic and that B&W fit that and the era so well.

      Interesting about The Big Short book, I can imagine it was much easier to follow in the movie. Fascinating characters, I really liked it.

      The other thing about San Andreas is the excess, the FX/CGI is neat but they start so huge and then don’t let up, to the point where it just lost its effect on me. Kind of dumb fun but in that case I would’ve got a kick out of crazy all-star fun.

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