Gary Does: Film Reviews (#22 of 40 Ways to Stay Creative)

10.08.16 · Film

Hands up who likes a hot, sweaty commute. Ah, you can’t, because there’s no bloody room, and won’t because it sucks. One thing that’s taken the sting out of the commute from outer London to outer outer London (i.e. the M4 corridor) for me, is the chance to settle down and watch a film.

I ‘studied’ film and will still bore the Calvins off of anybody who still asks my opinion, but up until recently it was a Metro/book for the journey. I woke the tablet from its slumber to do more than just play CBeebies for Jr and started ticking titles off an exhaustive list.

Here’s my round-up of the Top 10 I’ve recently enjoyed in no particular order – I’ve laughed out loud, gone wide eyed and occasionally shed some ocular moistness on many South West trains. Why share? Because inspiration comes from all quarters. Each choice has made me think about it, after the fact, which informs me that it’s fizzing around and inspiring me as a copywriter and creative.

WARNING: as is the way these days, trailers can sometimes serve up the whole film, leaving nothing but narrative crumbs to pick up.

The Hijacking (2012)

Finally got round to seeing this. It’s currently on Film 4’s roster. Unbelievably tense, brilliantly paced with a palpable mood so strong you can almost taste the salt air and feel the sweat pouring off the characters. Corporate politics V Somali pirates = A winner.

Victoria (2015)

German crime drama that doesn’t need East End posturing or kitchen sink estates to be tense and effective. It avoids clichés and has a cast that are as natural as the camerawork (another one take film, like Birdman). A real feeling (I imagine) for what a robbery actually feels like. Superb score by Nils Frahm and club music by DJ Koze. 

Sing Street (2016)

I’ll have a double dollop of schmaltz on toast please, to go. Yep, the ‘oirish are at it again as lovable musical rogues in a truly heart-warming story from the writer/director of Once. 80’s Dublin, a school band, young love and awesomely catchy tunes make this a musical that will smash a rainy afternoon to bits.


Lobster (2015)

Quirky. Strange. Beguiling. Subtly acted by all in it. A gloomy colour palette punctuated by splashes of life and colour, and a general sense of unease interspersed with very black humour. As romantic as Eternal Sunshine, but with a definite European feel. Stick with it, it’s worth it.

The Iceman (2013) / Midnight Special (2016)

Double-header as one choice. Why? Michael Shannon. He’s inscrutably moody (which he brilliantly debunks and plays up in a recurring cameo in The Night Before. An amazing presence (that doesn’t do crap accents – Tom Hardy) and a great actor that could rival De Niro if he gets into a stellar movie. Mafia hitman bio / father to a boy with unexplained powers. Both great films, not just because of him.

Inherent Vice (2015)

It’s more than a little bit Lebowski, but Joaquin Phoenix as a very stoned private detective in the hippy era is sprawling, looks pitch perfect and has enough plot meandering to keep you gently wriggling throughout. Oh, and Paul T Anderson is a genius (with Punch Drunk Love being one of the most criminally underrated films ever).

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

A western / horror??? Well, there was plenty of claret in Hateful Eight (too long, some clunky dialogue but an ultimately stylish and watchable bit of Tarantino), and Kurt Russell, but BT takes it a bit further. There’s sassy dialogue, tension and a truly wince worthy scene that left me aghast and then smiling that not everything’s been done in horror before.


Mistress America (2015)

Greta Gerwig is amazing. It’s that simple. Natural charm, impeccable comedy chops – she’s the indie film darling that is just so watchable. Mistress America is well written and has an old school screwball comedy feel that’s brought up to date. Her socialite character’s journey with her new freshman friend never runs out of steam.

Ant Man (2015)

Big man crush on Paul Rudd, ever since Friends. He’s effortlessly cool, funny and just a bit nerdy. Have watched pretty much his whole catalogue (including the recent Netflix film Fundamentals of Caring) Oh, and I was/is a massive comic books fan. Ant Man – silly, funny, great action. Batman V Superman? Oh how the mighty never got off the ground.


Fruitvale Station (2013)

Biographical drama that’s even more relevant day by day now. Young black man tries to live a straight life… Emotional drama, low budget, packs an emotional punch that left me reeling. Watching Michael B Jordan has punched through my defences – I’m ready to give Creed a go.

Honourable mentions:

A Touch of Sin – languorous, culturally rich Chinese film centred around 4 characters introduced by seemingly random acts of violence. Slow, but worth a go.

Green Room – punk horror. Patrick Stewart cashing in but a fairly original horror/thriller.

Youth – Michael Caine. Legend. Rachel Weisz again (never tire of her). Harvey Keitel (shame on you and those insurance commercials). A meditation on age and youth. Unsurprisingly moves at a snail’s pace, but the photography is stunning and everybody is eminently watchable.


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