2016 has been a pretty decent year for films, in my opinion at least. Naturally, some of the most highly anticipated films of the year were disappointing, such as Suicide Squad and Batman Vs Superman (the latter I had no hope for whatsoever). However, there have been some great films outside the mainstream (where the films were pretty disappointing) but today I'm going to focus on the films I was looking forward to but let me down.
Having liked much of Ben Wheatley’s previous efforts (especially the shockingly brutal Kill List) to find Highrise wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be is very disappointing. There’s plenty that is very impressive about the film, the post modern set design is terrific, and the special effects, which creates the feeling of being in a tall building, are perfect. What I didn’t like was the general incoherence of the film, there’s extravagantly dressed parties at the top whilst Luke Evans dances at the camera (for some reason). People argue that the works of J.G. Ballard are unfilmable, Ben Wheatley has proven that.
Once again, I liked most of the filmmakers (the Coen brothers in this case) works before Hail Caesar, however, their latest effort was probably one their weaker films. Looking back at Hollywood cinema of the past, and featuring the usual Coen stuff (zanny characters, bizarre plots, and a very loosely connected storyline), the film just doesn’t work. The issue is the storyline just feels unconnected and directionless in a way that’s episodic, rather than anything intentional, as some characters and their stories are more interesting than others. It’s a bit of confused film, lacking satirical bite and cutting humour.
Cafe Society is quite similar to Hail Caesar as it’s a satirical look at Hollywood’s past. Like Hail Caesar it fails to do this in a funny way and like Hail Caesar it's a narrative mess (its easier to forgive Hail Caesar for this). Cafe Society is Woody Allen in sleepwalking mode, but he has made a film a year since the 1980s so it’s not a surprise that one of his films will miss the mark. The production design, cinematography, and costume design are all exceptional, but the fault lies with the film’s story where Woody Allen’s script, about a love triangle, fails to grip, and is peppered with name-dropping of the stars of a bygone era.
A film that almost literally everyone was disappointed by. It’s a film that stunk of studio interference which, unsurprisingly, led to a messy, incoherent film. Everyone was hoping for an ensemble film as fun as The Avengers, but with extra bite and more violence, instead it was a film that failed to build chemistry between the squad members and took the horrendous misstep of making it almost impossible to see what’s happening in the final fight scene.
Love and Friendship
Critics loved this movie, and the trailers seemed pretty good but it didn’t click for me. Whit Stillman’s script has moments of humour, but I could not care about the banal lives of these people. Kate Beckinsale was good, and was the visual appeal of the film, but I found very little of interest outside that.