An Elephant Sitting Still (2018): Review by Your Opinion Sucks

An Elephant Sitting Still (2018): Review by Your Opinion Sucks

A Blog Other Cr*p

“He told me the other day, there is an elephant in Manzhouli. It sits there all day long. Perhaps some people keep stabbing it with forks. Or maybe it just enjoys sitting there. I don’t know.”

An Elephant Sitting Still is a grand tapestry of a film, a four-hour long living breathing monster that makes one proud to appreciate cinema. Its very existence is soaked through with sorrow of the most merciless kind, as one seldom mentions An Elephant Sitting Still without touching upon the passing of its writer/director, Hu Bo, who took his own life shortly after completing the film at just 29 years old. It would forever be his first and only effort, an effort that sadistically taunts you with the empty promise of what he seemed destined to achieve in his life. Perhaps a filmography of sharp, aesthetically gratifying and beautifully eye-gouging films like this one, of which there would be nothing else alike on the beautiful big screen. We will never know, what is known is that cinema is a much darker place without him.

The camera is alive in this story, almost constantly moving with and around our hapless characters. Anticipating, as we do, what unpleasantness will be arriving shortly in the grimness of their lives; when the already screaming tension is pushed beyond its limit. Refusing to cut back and forth, preferring to glide as long unbroken takes from one despairing fall to the next, we are treated to a washed out world in which people are searching for an escape. Normal every-day occurrences are the problems our characters face here, dilemmas, ultimatums, situations many of us will recognise from our own lives, the kind that can seem inescapable; and are therefore capable of terrifying us in cinema.

This is a slow, meditative piece, the tone is almost cruel, making use of a musical score that sounds both hopeful and hopeless all at the same time, the colour scheme is miserable and the story is relentless in its emotional tragedy. And yet, you will not leave empty handed in the desperate search for something-anything that could offer hope, as An Elephant Sitting Still does not wish to beat you over the head with depression, but one cannot have light without there first being darkness, and while the majority of the film is bleak in a way that smashes your glass house to the ground, it represents a flawed succession in finding that escape from the emptiness of existence. Films like this represent something the filmmaker needs to get off their chest, the need to truly express themselves, beyond commercialism and above the need for a return on their years of hard work, Hu Bo wanted to say something, tear his emotions free and in turn – he tore mine.

An Elephant Sitting Still had everything for me, my favourite combination, style and substance, substance dictated by style; there would not be one without the other. The story is expansive and relatable in its persistent and personal assault of meaningful themes, and while the style perpetuates sadness, it is almost fun, as every clear artistic decision implies a filmmaker who loved his craft. There are no pretty pictures or gorgeous landscapes, characters are either bullies or victims, a snowy setting makes for discomfort all the way through and while hope is spread very thin, still it lies before you, at the end of this painful journey, and the result is a majestic piece of work with a very satisfying sensibility to it. I will say that not every line of dialogue felt as unique in its characterisation as though it wasn’t all Hu Bo’s own words, but this is a mere spec in the shadow of what is a monumental achievement, there need to be more films like this out there, for the sake of the integrity of cinema itself.

 

 


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Game Night (2018) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Game Night (2018) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Game Night is a fantastic film, highly original, funny and real treat.  The story of a group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery, Game Night runs with it’s concept brilliantly throwing in a few twists and turns along the way with some smart humour and winning performances from the talented cast.  What sets this film aside is that it’s directed and shot with real flair.  Simply put Game Night is well worth a watch and could ned up being on my top 10 list for 2018.

Best Bit: The Egg

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: The Game, Horrible Bosses, Manhattan Murder Mystery

 


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Mid90s (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Mid90s (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Mid90s is the debut directorial effort by actor & comedian Jonah Hill, a skateboarding coming of age story set in LA in the…  well, I’ll let you guess.  In short it’s a revelation.  Hill delivers a super authentic film with a naturalistic cast, unflashy direction and a killer lead performance by Sunny Suljić in his first headlining role. Mid90s is at times a brutal look at growing up, with the highs and lows as Sunny encounters love, lust, friendship loneliness and self-discovery.

Best Bit:Jonah Hill modest direction

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Stand By Me, Booksmart, Eighth Grade

 


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Hell Fest (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Hell Fest (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Hell Fest takes the standard slasher tropes we’ve seen a hundred times before and does absolutely nothing new with them.  Like not a thing. Nadda. Zip. It’s like Scream never happened. Okay so, to be fair,  it does set the events at a horror theme park which is kinda different but save for a few moments doesn’t really make the most of it.  Honestly in a way I kinda like the lack of post modernness about it all but this is very much a by-the numbers slasher film that only really worth watching for a few decent & gory kills.

Best Bit: It’s gory

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Halloween (2018), Happy Death Day, The Final Girls

 


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Ready Player One (2018) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Ready Player One (2018) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Tonally Ready Player One is a bit of a mess.  The humour doesn’t always work alongside the darker story undertones and the amount of swearing is very unusual for a Spielberg film.  This all said – Ready Player One is visually stunning and as you’d expect the direction is first class, showing once again that Spielberg is still one of the best directors working today.  The cast are generally good as well but personally I’m getting a little bored with Mark Rylance’s increasingly one note mumbling’s.  But it’s the cameos you’ll remember – everything from the Iron Giant to the Delorean and a million more.  Ultimately Ready Player One is a geeks paradise that’s good enough to paper over it’s cracks.

Best Bit: Cameos!

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: Back To The Future, Minority Report, Tron

 


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Skin (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Skin (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The story of a young man forced into making the dangerous choice to leave the white supremacist gang he’s belonged to since being a teenager, Skin is an interesting if slightly surface film that relies heavily on it’s performances rather than it’s familiar story. In fact Jamie Bell delivers a second career best performance (after Billy Elliot) , with some excellent support from rising star Danielle Macdonald. Guy Nattiv does a good job directing but you end up feeling that the film could go further and deeper than it does.  So overall interesting rather than essential.  

Best Bit: Bell

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: American History X, Romper Stomper, This Is England

 


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Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Friends ESSENTIAL LIST For Decade (2010-2019) Part 2:  Captain America: Winter Solider, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mad Max: Fury Road, Nightshooters, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, Whiplash

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Friends ESSENTIAL LIST For Decade (2010-2019) Part 2: Captain America: Winter Solider, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mad Max: Fury Road, Nightshooters, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, Whiplash

Quick Review Year In Review

The votes are in.  The Long List been reduced to just 13… and here they are, the Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Guests list of the FILMS TO WATCH for the Decade (2010-2019).  In no particular order:

 

#7: Captain America: Winter Solider (2014)

As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow, to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier.

 


 

#8: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

A group of intergalactic criminals must pull together to stop a fanatical warrior with plans to purge the universe.

 

 


 

#9: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search for her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.

 

 


 

#10: Nightshooters (2018)

An action thriller about a group of filmmakers who find themselves on the run from a violent horde of criminals after witnessing a brutal gangland execution. Unable to flee the derelict building they have been shooting in, the hapless film crew must use their technical skill and cinematic knowledge to defend themselves. The stunt man is a martial arts master, the special effects guru disregards safety and sets lethal traps, and the sound department strategically lay radio mics to detect when the hoodlums are on their way. Cue lots of thrills in a cat and mouse game of survival.

 

 

 


 

#11: The Social Network (2010)

As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins who claimed he stole their idea, and by the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.

 

 

 


 

#12: Toy Story 3 (2010)

The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it’s up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren’t abandoned and to return home.

 

 

 


 

#13: Whiplash (2014)

A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

 

 


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Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Friends ESSENTIAL LIST For Decade (2010-2019) Part 1: Avengers Assemble, Avengers: End Game, Kings Of Summer, Kubo and the Two Strings, Operation Red Sea, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Friends ESSENTIAL LIST For Decade (2010-2019) Part 1: Avengers Assemble, Avengers: End Game, Kings Of Summer, Kubo and the Two Strings, Operation Red Sea, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Quick Review Year In Review

The votes are in.  The Long List been reduced to just 13… and here they are, the Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Guests list of the FILMS TO WATCH for previous decade (2010-2019).  In no particular order:

 

 

#1: Avengers Assemble (2012)
Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

 

 


 

#2: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to reverse Thanos’ actions and restore balance to the universe.

 

 


 

#3: The Kings Of Summer (2013)

Three teenage friends, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land.

 

 


 

#4: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armour worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

 

 

 


 

#5: Operation Red Sea (2018)

PLA Navy Marine Corps launch a hostage rescue operation in the fictional Republic of Ihwea and undergo a fierce battle with rebellions and terrorism.

 

 

 

 


 

#6: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Teen Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man of his reality, crossing his path with five counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat for all realities.

 

 

 

Next Time: The final 7 Films To Watch for the Decade. 

 


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Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Friends: The 36 Must See Films Of The Decade (2010-2019)

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Friends: The 36 Must See Films Of The Decade (2010-2019)

2019: In Review Other Cr*p Quick Review Year In Review

So this is it: Phil’s Quick Capsule Review & Guests (including podcasters Mike Parkin & Josh Morris, Filmmaker Ross Boyask and Phil’s Quick Capsule Review writers Will Strong & Matt Duddy) LONG list of the 36 must see films of the Decade (2010-2019)

This list will also form the basis of our vote for the Essential Films of the Decade (2010-2019)

So how many have YOU seen?

Avengers Assemble
Avengers Endgame
Avengers Infinity War
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: Winter Soilder
Deadpool
Ex Machina
Green Room
Happy Death Day
How To Train Yoru Dragon 
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Inception
John Wick
Kings Of Summer
Kubo and the Two Strings
Mad Max Fury Road
Mission Impossible Rogue Nation
Misson Impossible: Fall Out
Nightshooters
Operation Red Sea
Pitch Perfect
Skyfall
Social Network
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Star Wars: Rogue One
Super 8
T2 Trainspotting
The Greatest Showman
The Signal
The Way Way Back
The Wolf Of Wall Street
Toy Story 3
Warrior
What We Do in the Shadows
Whiplash
Guardians of the Galaxy

 

Check back in the next few days for our final list or take the QUIZ HERE  to see how many you have seen!

Phil’s Best & Worst Films Of… The Decade (2010-2019)

Phil’s Best & Worst Films Of… The Decade (2010-2019)

Quick Review Year In Review

So this is a look back at all the films I gave the coveted Best & Worst awards each year to from the previous decade, as we look back at the previous 10 years of movies.  Have opinions changed?  Actually on a few… yes.

All in my very humble opinion…

 

BEST Films Of The Decade… (By Year)

2010 – The Social Network
2011 – Hugo 
2012 – Argo (Should have been: Skyfall)
2013 – Rush
2014 – The Wolf Of Wall Street
2015 – Whiplash (Should have been: Mad Max: Fury Road)
2016 – The Nice Guys (Should have been: Kubo And The Two Strings)
2017 – Baby Driver (Should have been: T2 Trainspotting)
2018 – Coco (Should have been TIED with: Mission Impossible: Fallout)
2019 – Joker

BEST FILM Of the Decade: Mad Max: Fury Road


Honourable Mentions:
American: the Bill Hicks Story, Senna, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty, Life Itself, Inside Out, Kubo And The Two Strings, T2 Trainspotting, Mission Impossible: Fallout

 

WORST Films Of The Decade… (By Year)

2010 – Skyline
2011 – Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon
2012 – Ghost Rider 2: Spirit Of Vengeance
2013 – The Host
2014 – Transformers 4: Age Of Extinction 
2015 – Fifty Shades Of Grey
2016 – Point Break (2016)
2017 – Fifty Shades Darker
2018 – The Cloverfield Paradox (Should have been Holmes & Watson)
2019 – The Dead Don’t Die 

WORST FILM Of the Decade: Transformers 4: Age Of Extinction 

 

Dis-Honourable Mentions: 44 Inch Chest, Sucker Punch, Cold Light of Day, The Worlds End, Sex Tape, He Who Dares 2: Downing Street Down, Central Intelligence, Transformers The Last Knight, Fifty Shades Freed

 

 


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