Jojo Rabbit
2019
****½
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Archie Yates

Towards the end of World War II, the timid 10-year-old Johannes “Jojo” Betzler remains a devout Nazi. His dedication to the cause begins to crumble when he befriends a Jewish girl his mother is hiding in the attic, which doesn’t make his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler very happy. A dark comedy about the Third Reich does not sound like an easy proposition, but somehow Taika Waititi pulls it off. Like La vita è bella, the film finds an awkward but just about perfect balance between the laughs and cries. The performances are all excellent. Waititi’s Academy Award winning screenplay is loosely based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens.


Long Shot
2019
***
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård

Fred Flarsky is an idealistic journalist who quits his job on moral grounds. That same night, he runs into his childhood babysitter Charlotte Field, now U.S. Secretary of State, who offers him a job as a speechwriter as she gets ready to announce her presidential campaign. This is a funny and likeable, but highly implausible romantic comedy. Rogen plays the same drug-loving, foul-mouthed loser he always does, but he has great chemistry with Charlize Theron. However, the politics in the movie are total Hollywood wish fulfillment.


American Factory
2019
****½
Director: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
Cast:

Six years after General Motors shut down their factory in Dayton, Ohio, a Chinese Fuyao car glass company reopens the plant. The owners attempt to make the factory profitable, but it appears to be at the expense of safety and basic workers’ rights. This terrific documentary was shot from 2015 to 2017, and it gives the audience a deliciously intimate and uncensored look at the culture clash that escalates between the Chinese owners and the American workers. Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature.


Enola Holmes
2020
***
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Frances de la Tour, Burn Gorman, Adeel Akhtar, Fiona Shaw

Enola Holmes, the baby sister of Sherlock, is a self-taught and critically thinking 16-year-old girl. When Enola runs away from home to investigate the disappearance of her mother, she meets the young Viscount Tewkesbury, whose life seems to be at risk. This is an adaptation of the first book in The Enola Holmes Mysteries series by Nancy Springer. The movie is funny, enjoyable, disposable, and anachronistic. Millie Bobby Brown, who also co-produced, gives a commanding lead performance.


Tolkien
2019
***
Director: Dome Karukoski
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Derek Jacobi, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynn-Carney, Craig Roberts, Genevieve O’Reilly

This drama about J.R.R. Tolkien attempts to capture the dramatic circumstances that turned an orphan Catholic boy with a keen interest in languages into one of the biggest selling fantasy writers of all time. Just as Tolkien falls in love with a Protestant girl and finds his true calling, he and his tight-knit group of friends must face the trenches of the First World War. Literary biopic is not the most exciting genre, and this conventional film does not offer surprises. There is certainly very little here for the casual fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It is beautifully shot and well-acted, though.


Hereditary
2018
**½
Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne

Following the death of her estranged mother, Annie and her two children suffer strange visions. Are these supernatural occurences or symptoms of the mental illness running in the family? Ari Aster’s feature debut is a powerful and unsettling horror film. That is, up to the point when we find out what is actually happening. After that it gets silly. Toni Collette gives a physically draining performance.


Gerald’s Game
2017
***½
Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Chiara Aurelia

Jessie and Gerald travel to a remote cabin to spice up their marriage, but things take a dark turn when Gerald suffers a heart attack while Jessie is handcuffed to the bed. This gripping and intense thriller escapes its confined setting inside Jessie’s head, as she looks back on her failed marriage and her childhood traumas. Based on Stephen King’s 1992 novel.


Isle of Dog
2018
**½
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Kunichi Nomura, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe

Following an outbreak of canine flu, all the dogs of Megasaki, Japan are banished to Trash Island. 12-year-old Atari flies a plane to the island in order to find his beloved Spots. Wes Anderson’s second stop-motion animation is marginally better than Fantastic Mr. Fox, his unbearably whimsical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book. Like all of his work, it is meticulously designed and shot, but the story didn’t grab me at any point.


Leave No Trace
2018
****
Director: Debra Granik
Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey, Dana Millican, Michael Prosser, Derek John Drescher, Isaiah Stone

A traumatised war veteran and his 13-year-old daughter live totally off grid in a forest park in Oregon. The father and daughter slowly begin to drift apart after the authorities force them to abandon their isolated existence. Debra Granik’s follow-up to Winter’s Bone is another subtle, slow-burning, and powerful drama about marginalised people. Based on Peter Rock’s novel My Abandonment, which is based on a true story. Despite her tender age, Thomasin McKenzie gives a terrific performance.


Ford v Ferrari
2019
****
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, Ray McKinnon

In the early 1960s, Ford Motor Company decides to challenge the hegemony of Ferrari at Le Mans. They hire Carroll Shelby to design a racing car, and the talented but difficult Ken Miles to drive it. This long but confidently entertaining drama is based on a true story (although the Ford executive played by Josh Lucas comes across as a clichéd movie villain). Damon and Bale give commanding performances in the lead and James Mangold stages the 1966 race with imagination and verve. Academy Award winner for best film and sound editing.


Silence
2016
**
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano, Ciarán Hinds, Liam Neeson, Shinya Tsukamoto, Issey Ogata, Yoshi Oida, Yōsuke Kubozuka

In the 17th century, two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to Japan to find their mentor, who is rumoured to have renounced his faith. They discover a country where Christians are systematically persecuted and tortured until they agree to commit apostasy. Following The Last Temptation at Christ and Kundun, this adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel completes Martin Scorsese’s unofficial trilogy on faith. He spent several decades bringing this deeply personal project to the screen, but the resulting drama appears to be for believers only. The film is visually arresting but the story is a painfully long, slow and monotonous slog through misery, and it didn’t engage me at any point. The narration, for the most parts, is unnecessary.


Ad Astra
2019
****
Director: James Gray
Cast: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, John Ortiz, Greg Bryk, Loren Dean, Nataha Lyonne, John Finn

In the near future, man has colonies on the moon and Mars. Some 30 years earlier, an expedition commanded by H. Clifford McBride travelled further to look for signs of intelligent life, until it all went quiet near Neptune. Now Major Roy McBride is sent out to make contact with his long-lost father when the mission spacecraft is believed to be the source of mysterious power surges which threaten the entire solar system. Apocalypse Now meets Interstellar in James Gray’s slow but hypnotic meditation on cosmic loneliness. Roy’s trip to the heart of universal darkness includes some awe-inspiring ideas and stunning set pieces, even if its conclusion left me a bit underwhelmed. Brad Pitt gives a wonderfully understated lead performance.


The Favourite
2018
***½
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, Mark Gatiss, Jenny Rainsford

In 1711, two women vie to be the favourite of Queen Anne of Great Britain, who is physically and mentally frail. Lady Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, is the queen’s lover and the de facto ruler. Her tainted cousin Abigail Hill arrives at the palace as a scullery maid, but quickly climbs the ranks through her wits and charm. This entertaining dark comedy is based on real events, but its details have been embellished. The film gives us an interesting look at one brief moment in history, but it doesn’t add up to much more. The sets and costumes are stunning, but Robbie Ryan’s camerawork draws a bit too much attention to itself. Although the entire cast is superb, Olivia Colman was singled out with an Academy Award for her brave performance as Queen Anne.


Armomurhaaja (Euthanizer)
2017
**
Director: Teemu Nikki
Cast: Matti Onnismaa, Hannamaija Nikander, Alina Tomnikov, Jari Virman, Heikki Nousiainen, Ilari Johansson, Santtu Karvonen

Veijo Haukka is a misanthropic car mechanic who runs a side business as a pet euthanizer. When a troubled young man wants to put down his family’s dog for financial reasons, events slowly escalate to tragedy. This grim and darkly comic drama offers Finnish miserablism at its purest. It starts with everyone being miserable and ends with everyone being miserable, injured, or dead. Even the first romantic scene ends in a near-death experience. The film would perhaps be more bearable if any of the characters were believable three-dimensional human beings. The performances range from the charismatic (Onnismaa) to the irritating (Virman).


The Willoughbys
2020
**
Director: Kris Pearn
Cast: Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara, Terry Crews, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Seán Cullen, Ricky Gervais

Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby are so mad about each other that they have no time for their four children, who plan to orphan themselves by sending their parents on a treacherous vacation trip. This Canadian animation has a promising start, but by the second half it is all over the place, both literally and figuratively. On top of the Willoughbys, the script throws in an orphan baby, a candy factory owner and a singing nanny. The biggest problem is that all of the characters are forgettable, inconsistent, and visually dull. Based on the book by Lois Lowry.


Logan Lucky
2017
****
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Hilary Swank, Daniel Craig

Jimmy Logan is an unemployed construction worker with a bad knee and his brother Clyde is a bartender who lost his lower arm in Iraq. These two West Virginian brothers plan to change the family’s fortunes by robbing the Coca-Cola 600 race. There’s only one hitch, the explosives expert they need is currently serving time. Steven Soderbergh returns from his brief retirement to direct a working class version of Ocean’s Eleven, and it turns out to be one of the most purely enjoyable movies he has ever made. The script is snappy and the cast is terrific.


Hacksaw Ridge
2016
****
Director: Mel Gibson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn, Ryan Corr, Richard Roxburgh

When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, Desmond Doss wants to become a combat medic. However, it’s an upward struggle because Desmond refuses to carry a firearm or kill a man due to his religious convictions. This true story of an unlikely war hero is based on the book The Conscientious Objector by Terry Benedict. Mel Gibson’s drama is consistently gripping, whether Desmond is enjoying a tender moment in the home front, challenging his comrades and superiors in the training phase, or facing the horrors of war in the Battle of Okinawa. Andrew Garfield gives a very strong lead performance. Academy Award winner for best editing and sound mixing.


Green Book
2018
****½
Director: Peter Farrelly
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov, Mike Hatton, Von Lewis, Brian Stepanek

In the early 1960s, the short-tempered Italian American Tony Vallelonga takes a job as a driver and bodyguard for Dr. Don Shirley, a black classical pianist whose band is about to embark on a concert tour which takes them to Deep South. The two men are very different, but they have a lot to learn about themselves and about each other. This true story, which is based on interviews and letters, treads lightly on the racism of the period and its characters, but it delivers an utterly charming and laugh out loud funny, not to mention crowd pleasing, portrayal of an unlikely friendship. At the center of it are two towering performances by Mortensen and Ali. Academy Award winner for best picture, original screenplay, and supporting actor (Mahershala Ali).


Diego Maradona
2019
***
Director: Asif Kapadia
Cast:

Diego Maradona was one of the finest but most controversial footballers in the history of the game. He captained Napoli to their first and last Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990, and led Argentina to their second World Cup title in 1986, but wrecked the second half of his playing career with his cocaine addiction. He is described to have two different personalities. Diego is the nice boy from the slums of Buenos Aires who loves the ball, Maradona is the badly-behaved global footballing icon. Asif Kapadia’s Senna was a riveting sports documentary which was assembled primarily from existing material. He uses the same method here, but his film does not have the same effect, perhaps because Diego Maradona is a more divisive and less relatable person.


Can you Ever Forgive Me?
2018
***
Director: Marielle Heller
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Jane Curtin, Ben Falcone, Tim Cummings, Anna Deavere Smith

Marielle Heller’s second feature tells an enjoyable but rather trivial real-life story of Lee Israel, down on her luck biographer who realised in the early 1990s that there is money to made in forging letters from famous writers. Jack Hock, a pitiful gay hustler, becomes her friend and partner in crime. Lee and Jack are delicious characters, and McCarthy and Grant give worthy performances in their respective roles. Based on Israel’s memoir.


Nocturnal Animal
2016
****
Director: Tom Ford
Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen

An art gallerist receives a manuscript for a novel written by her ex-husband about a family whose road trip turns into a nightmare. The disturbing novel forces her to look back at their relationship, which ended in a dramatic break-up. Tom Ford’s follow-up to A Single Man is another visually striking and unsettling drama where the past haunts the present. Whether the two parallel stories add up to a meaningful whole is a matter of opinion. Adams, Gyllenhaal, Shannon, and Taylor all give very fine performances. Adapted from Tony and Susan by Austin Wright.


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
2019
**½
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film is an homage to Hollywood of the late 1960s. Rick Dalton is a washed-up TV actor whose career is at a crossroads. His driver and best friend Cliff Booth is a former stunt man with a shady past. It’s clear that Tarantino is a fan of every little detail about the movies and TV shows from this period (except the way a show like Lancer would have been shot and acted), but his script is unfocused and meandering, and the film seems to go on forever. For every 10-second shot, he gives us a full minute, and for every 2-minute scene, he gives us at least 10 minutes. About 15 minutes of the running time is dedicated just on people driving around in cars. Like all his works, this one includes some memorable scenes, which includes an extremely violent Hollywood ending. The film looks and sounds terrific, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt have wonderful chemistry together. Margot Robbie, on the other hand, has a thankless role as Sharon Tate, who drives to the cinema to watch herself in The Wrecking Crew in the film’s dullest scene. An Academy Award winner for best supporting actor (Pitt) and production design.


Deadpool 2
2018
**½
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesy

Wade Wilson is just about to start a family with Vanessa, when she is killed. He tries to kill himself but instead ends up protecting a powerful 14-year-old mutant boy from a time-travelling cyborg soldier. Deadpool introduced us to this irreverent, motormouthed, and frankly exhausting superhero. Now that I know the character, he doesn’t get on my nerves as much. The sequel delivers more of the same anarchic, self-referential gags and gory action scenes. The movie is neither boring nor captivating, it just occupies the screen for two hours.


Fighting with My Family
2019
***
Director: Stephen Merchant
Cast: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn, Dwayne Johnson, James Burrows, Hannah Rae, Kim Matula, Aqueela Zoll, Ellie Gonsalves

The Knight family in Norwich, England live and breathe wrestling. 18-year-old Saraya and her older brother Zak both dream of wrestling professionally in the WWE, but only she makes it through the try-outs. Stephen Merchant’s feelgood film is based on the documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family, and it offers a nice mix of English working class comedy and moving character drama. The film was produced by the WWE, so do not expect a balanced view on the merits of wrestling as a sport. Dwayne Johnson plays himself in an extended cameo.


Uncut Gems
2019
****½
Director: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Cast: Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Eric Bogosian, Judd Hirsch, Keith Williams Richards, Jonathan Aranbayev, Noa Fisher, Abel Tesfaye

Howard Ratner is a self-destructive diamond dealer who runs a personal and professional high-stakes pyramid scheme. Whether Howard is juggling between his wife and girlfriend or attempting to pay off his gambling debt, he makes bad choices, and then covers his tracks by making even worse ones. The only actor to play a character this awful and abrasive is Adam Sandler, who goes full Pacino in his finest performance to date. If you can get past the auditory attack of the first few minutes when the soundtrack is cranked up to 11 and all the characters are talking and swearing simultaneously, the two hours that follow will leave you breathless. This incredibly intense drama from the Safdie brothers is exhilarating and infuriating in equal measure.


Stan & Ollie
2018
***
Director: Jon S. Baird
Cast: Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson, Nina Arianda, Rufus Jones, Danny Huston, Joseph Balderrama, John Henshaw, Richard Cant

By 1953, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are obsolete movie stars who struggle to get new projects off the ground. In financial straits, the duo embark on a music hall tour of the UK and Ireland, which takes a toll on them both. This unusual but likeable biopic is steeped in nostalgia, which feels a bit odd as it does not cover the years when these wonderful comedians were two of the most recognisable faces on the planet. This melancholic film does, however, paint a moving portrait of a long-standing professional friendship. Coogan and Reilly give very fine performances as Laurel and Hardy, and so do Henderson and Arianda as their wives.


Daddy’s Home
2015
***
Director: Sean Anders
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Scarlett Estevez, Owen Vaccaro, Thomas Haden Church, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Cannavale

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg combined well in The Other Guys, and here they play another odd couple. The mild-mannered Brad (Ferrell) loves to be a dad, even if the children are not his own. Just when he’s starting to bond with his wife’s son and daughter, their manly and laid-back biological father Dusty (Wahlberg) returns to the family’s lives. Once you know the set-up, this family comedy really doesn’t offer any surprises. It may be formulaic, but there are enough amusing scenes and performances (Thomas Haden Church is hilarious as Brad’s boss) to keep you entertained for 90 minutes. Amidst all this, the wife character is very poorly written. Followed by a 2017 sequel.


Us
2019
***
Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop

As a young girl, Adelaide wandered away from her parents at a carnival and ran into a girl who looked exactly like her. More than 30 years later, she is wife and mother of two, but still haunted by this memory. One night, their holiday home is invaded by an entire family of creepy doppelgängers. Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out really grabs you in the opening 30 minutes. The set-up is unsettling and intriguing. However, the payoff turns out to be underwhelming and nonsensical. Peele’s script is heavy on subtext, so much so that watching this mystery unravel becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.


Bohemian Rhapsody
2018
***
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers

This formulaic but foot tapping biopic of Freddie Mercury covers the musician’s life from 1970 when he joins Queen to 1985 when the band regroup and memorably perform at Live Aid. Inbetween, Freddie attempts to come to terms with his own sexuality and his diagnosis of AIDS. Like Walk the Line, Ray, and many other biographies of artists, Freddie’s captivating story follows a familiar story arc; the early success is followed by the inevitable years of excess and the late-career redemption. To enable this, Anthony McCarten’s script makes up characters and reinvents the chronology of the songs and events. Rami Malek gives a fine lead performance. He won one of the film’s four Academy Awards.


Bumblebee
2018
***½
Director: Travis Knight
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Len Cariou

B-127 escapes the collapsing Cybertron and ends up on Earth in 1987, with its voice box and memory damaged. An estranged teenager Charlie Watson discovers the Autobot disguised as a yellow VW Beetle, unaware that the U.S. Army and a pair of Decepticons are looking for it. This spin-off and reboot of Transformers is easily the most enjoyable episode in the series (I have seen). Apart from the obligatory big robots smashing each other, there is an actual story and characters I can care about. Admittedly, the screenplay is formulaic and heavily influenced by E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, but the resulting movie is thoroughly watchable.


Vice
2018
***
Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe, Jesse Plemons, Justin Kirk, LisaGay Hamilton, Eddie Marsan

A darkly comic biopic of Dick Cheney, whose colourful political career reached its peak as vice president under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. Adam McKay’s film argues that Cheney was a power-hungry and (in the last 10 minutes, literally) heartless operator, who orchestrated the War in Iraq. This is an entertaining but crass and one-sided account of Cheney’s life and career. McKay keeps things lively with some unusual and enjoyable storytelling devices. Christian Bale gives a commanding but slightly mannered performance, and his impressive make-Up and hairstyling won an Academy Award.


John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
2019
**
Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane

Following the events of Chapter 2 (2017), John Wick has a 14 million dollar price on his head for breaking the rules of the High Table. John attempts to remain under the radar, but it’s difficult when every assassin on the planet is after him. One might be tempted to call Chapter 3 a more streamlined movie than the original because it strips away any resemblance of a story. There are two solid hours of shooting, stabbing, slashing, punching, and kicking. After the first 15 minutes, I lost interest in the non-stop CGI massacre of faceless, nameless, and brainless assassins. By the end, the death count is more than 150.


Ikitie (The Eternal Road)
2017
***½
Director: Antti-Jussi Annila
Cast: Tommi Korpela, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Hannu-Pekka Björkman, Irina Björklund, Ville Virtanen, Helen Söderqvist, Lembit Ulfsak

One night in 1930, far-right extremists are about to shoot Jussi Ketola as a suspected socialist, but he escapes across the border to Soviet Union. Jussi hopes for a swift return home to his family, but instead he is sent to Helmi, a state farm where a group of North American immigrants have arrived to build a worker’s paradise. This captivating Finnish drama is based on the novel by Antti Tuuri, which in turn was inspired by the true story of Nestori Saarimäki. Dreams and reality crash in Helmi, and the consequences are harrowing. The performances are great, but I wish there was at least one native speaker playing the North Americans.


Hellboy II: The Golden Army
2008
**
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Seth MacFarlane

Hellboy, Liz, and Abe Sapien are exposed to the world just as Prince Nuada returns from a long exile and aims to collect three pieces of a crown to reawaken and control the indestructible Golden Army. Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy was a poor comic book movie, and things don’t improve in the sequel. Hellboy is still a likeable hero, although I don’t undestand his powers even after two full features, but the villain is forgettable and the story is a whole lot of formulaic nonsense. The performances, apart from Perlman, are terrible. The franchise rebooted in 2019.


Men in Black: International
2019

Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson

Seven years after the belated third part, the franchise reboots with a new director and cast, but no new ideas whatsoever. The movie treats its audience as if Men in Black or its sequels never existed. It’s simply enough to introduce another collection of wacky alien characters. Rookie MIB Agent M is dispatched to London, where she teams up with the supremely talented but increasingly cocky and sloppy Agent H. There is a generic A-plot about a global threat and an utterly predictable B-plot about a mole inside the agency. Both are so boring that I found myself drifting off at times. Hemsworth and Thompson were a wonderful pair in Thor: Ragnarok, but they don’t have any chance with this material.