Ben has written 217 reviews for films during 2020.

  • Happiest Season

    Happiest Season

    ★★★

    Happiest Season is effectively sentimental and saccharine, while also not fully earning it’s proposed happy resolution. 

    This is very clear in what it’s setting out to do, and it has almost everything working in it’s favour other than the nonsensical and quite heavily annoying family members and a few plot points which don’t feel sincere. Kristen Stewart gives one of the best performances in the film but unfortunately struggles to find chemistry with Mackenzie Davis, their relationship never seemed likeable…

  • My Dad's Christmas Date

    My Dad's Christmas Date

    ★★

    An irreconcilable dramatic effort which isn’t appealing enough to even pretend that it’s in any way a comedy or a Christmas film.

    Unfortunately this lacks the needed wit to make it approachable or funny in any way, it also isn’t as festive as I was expecting or hoping for, instead disguising itself as a Christmas film and telling the same contorted story that’s been told 1000 times before. Even with all of that, this isn’t all that bad, it’s narratively…

  • The Loss Adjuster

    The Loss Adjuster

    Filled with unnatural dialogue, overly convenient situations and rushed storytelling, The Loss Adjuster proves to be a boring and empty low budget Christmas film.

    This is very poorly constructed both narratively and technically, filled with woefully shoddy editing and muddled shot selection along with handheld and constant cut filmmaking make for a very tough film to engage with. The worst technical element is the terrible, constant and exasperating score which gave me a headache almost immediately and consistently made me…

  • A California Christmas

    A California Christmas

    ★½

    A California Christmas fails to authenticate it’s dramatic heft and provides little substance or ambition to it’s subordinate story. 

    It isn’t hard for a film of this nature to feel entirely paraphrased and redounded in story, and this provides everything that’s to be expected from it along with a dramatic punch which missed the mark. The plot runs exactly as anticipated in terms of romance, neither of the main characters are particularly interesting and the chemistry between the actors wasn’t…

  • Silent Night

    Silent Night

    ★½

    Silent Night is fundamentally bleak enough to fit it’s ambition but simultaneously isn’t funny or clever enough to endeavour anybody’s full attention. 

    There’s nothing here that feels shocking or austere, although it is a film with severely austere mannerisms. Silent Night is a blandly told and severely disheveled attempt at telling a desolate British crime story, with characters that don’t feel intact and storytelling which is no where near as clever as it intends to be. There’s something about this…

  • Christmas Crossfire

    Christmas Crossfire

    ★½

    Christmas Crossfire doesn’t carry a lot of stature, and ultimately provides it’s audience with nothing but some eloquent shot selection and some sturdy work from behind the camera. 

    Essentially Christmas Crossfire just isn’t well written, lacks ancillary support to it’s weak direction and has too much going on within it’s story. There’s far too many characters within this, and it’s almost impossible to care for any of them, so the film doesn’t feel concise with it’s building of relationships. This…

  • Just Another Christmas

    Just Another Christmas

    ★★★

    A nice Christmassy spin on the time loop sub- genre while not necessarily being a time loop film in itself. Just Another Christmas is a well structured, fun little Brazilian Netflix Christmas film with a wonderful grade of poignancy and realism well fitted with some whimsical slapstick silliness that feels warranted for a film of this nature. 

    Leandro Hassum is really great in the lead, he brings a sturdy sense of humour to the story as well as keeping the…

  • Mank

    Mank

    ★★★★

    Not as antagonistic or combative narratively than what I was somewhat expecting, but David Fincher’s ‘Mank’ is an excellently written and finely performed character study and an impressive introspection on Fincher’s part. 

    There’s no frame of reference more entitled to this era of Hollywood than that of David Fincher’s, and the man’s perfectionisms adhere to character studies like this. Of course in comparison to Fincher’s wider filmography this feels like one of his lesser viscid efforts, and it’s one of…

  • Nocturne

    Nocturne

    ★★

    Nocturne contains some genuinely frightening imagery, but struggles to permeate this imagery within an interesting or coherent narrative. 

    Sydney Sweeney is very good in the main role here, it’s unfortunate that the writing for her character doesn’t lend a hand to her performance. The character of Juliet was the only real opening point for us to feel involved in the film, and unfortunately as a protagonist she was only briefly exciting and the film felt heavily inaccessible for the most…

  • Triggered

    Triggered

    ★★½

    Never boring but also never particularly enticing or convincing. Triggered is a low budget B-movie with a solid premise and weak direction. 

    The main issue is the characters, not only is there far too many characters, but the characters themselves are also too skimpy and thinly sketched, creating no real protagonist within the narrative. The lack of a clear protagonist made it very hard for the film to feel like anything more than an enjoyable spectacle without any clear drive.

  • Fatman

    Fatman

    ★★½

    Doesn’t live up to it’s wonderfully ludicrous premise, Mel Gibson is well cast as this off the rails interpretation of Santa and Walton Goggins is excellent as a Hitman. 

    Ultimately I think the film should’ve taken itself less seriously and embraced it’s comicalness. The first two acts feel less narratively finished than needed and felt more like an overlong build up to a climax which wasn’t as fun as expected. The story leaves itself too open, the pace makes the…

  • The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two

    The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two

    ★★

    Nothing here will exasperate viewers but it’s disappointing to see Columbus make a cliche abiding Christmas film with a lack of creative delineation. The first one is superficial but fun with a well captured sense of holiday spirit. This one isn’t much worse but definitely feels much lazier in execution and much less significant as a holiday film. 

    Expectations were high, with this being directed by Chris Columbus but it’s another example of his magic being lost as a director.…