Ben has written 79 reviews for films during 2021.

  • Silent Night

    Silent Night

    ★★½

    Silent Night is proudly left field, opening with Michael Bublé and closing with enigmatic bleakness. Director Camille Griffin utilises her cast and children to full effect but her tonal balancing will prove divisive. 

    For me the airtight tonal breaching didn’t work, the inanely uneasy underlying tone obstructed the film’s attempt at comedy. Touching specifically on the comedy, it’s not very funny, the characters are intentionally insufferable. It was very difficult to indulge in the presence of these characters previous to…

  • The Claus Family

    The Claus Family

    ★★

    The Claus Family is aesthetically pleasing enough to mask a weak script and a potholed plot. 

    I was not surprised to hear of director Matthias Temmerman’s history in Belgian children’s television. His work here is clearly very familiar, it’s easy to see his professionalism but a lack of enthusiasm is also apparent. The acting is mediocre and obviously meets the directors standards. The film is very derivable from almost every Christmas family film, the plot is overbearing and the characterisations…

  • Home Sweet Home Alone

    Home Sweet Home Alone

    Home Sweet Home Alone is a weirdly embittered film with a very unproductive sense of structure. 

    Whether it be the heinous attempts at embracing self-awareness or the lazy conformation to foregoing tropes, this is a putrid little Christmas film. Strangely Home Alone 5 got a lot right and it seemed they had finally worked out how to rework this franchise in an inoffensive way. Unfortunately Home Sweet Home Alone deserts the reliable Home Alone structure and everything falls apart. First…

  • A Castle for Christmas

    A Castle for Christmas

    Old handers Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes star in this dense, mildly offensive Netflix hallmark outing. 

    The film has some of the most ludicrous writing I’ve seen put to screen this year, the protagonist has an artificial writing job that allows the plot to propel through a public breakdown. She then finds herself in the Scottish Highlands, at which point we are introduced to Cary Elwes who helms a fairly lurid attempt at a Scottish accent. The film then falls…

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

    Spider-Man: No Way Home

    ★★★½

    No Way Home isn’t exactly an altruistic experience, I can absolutely envision why this film means so much to people and how gratifying it must be for a long term fan to experience the events of the story. 

    Personally the nostalgia doesn’t do anything for me, I can’t be overly derisive as my ignorance towards these characters inherently created a barrier between me and the film. Objectively, this handles its premise fairly well, there’s a lot of material here and…

  • Single All the Way

    Single All the Way

    ★★

    Netflix continue to augment their mild obsession with Christmas films helming a big city protagonist moving back to their small Northern hometown for the holidays. At this point they’re all blurring into one and Single all the Way’s late release will unfortunately amplify its forgettable nature for many. 

    This has surprisingly low stakes, it’s comfortably mellow and gentle. In many ways the low stakes can benefit the film, the slapstick is minimal (and bad) and the pacing is consistent. The…

  • Christmas vs. The Walters

    Christmas vs. The Walters

    ★½

    Christmas vs. The Walters is a trite and unconvincing Christmas film with very little original or noteworthy ideas. 

    As an ensemble piece this never comes together, the chemistry between the actors isn’t great and the individual performances aren’t credible. Dean Winters is under-utilised and his relationship with Diane Walters character isn’t explored with enough authenticity. Bruce Dern’s cameo caught me off guard, from the looks of it he wasn’t on set for very long which is refreshing because his entire…

  • The Hand of God

    The Hand of God

    ★★★★

    The Hand of God is a delicate, beautiful and deeply personal coming of age tale from Paolo Sorrentino. 

    On paper this film made me very excited, there were many elements of the story that I am intrinsically invested in, and on that level I didn’t love the film as much as I wanted to. That being said I was still very much invested in and impressed by The Hand of God. Cinematographer Dario D’Antonio does such a fantastic job crafting…

  • 8-Bit Christmas

    8-Bit Christmas

    ★★½

    Director Michael Dowse has been fairly hit and miss lately and his continuation into streaming provides another underwhelming, often one-noted film. 

    It’s hard to dislike such a harmless, idealistic film but 8-bit Christmas can get quite straining. I was never fully charmed by the films gimmick which vitally made the film personally feel quite inaccessible as a whole. The cast certainly aren’t to blame for the films looseness, Dowse gets a lot out of the young cast particularly Winslow Fegly.…

  • Black Friday

    Black Friday

    ★★★

    Black Friday is a surprisingly engaging and liberally gory B-movie. This is a film that thrives off of its tight location and focused antics.

    It’s full of very impressive VFX, especially given the tight budget, unlike a lot a lot of similar films the camera takes pride in the effects and quick cuts are minimal. The creatures are effectively scary and threatening. The stunts are decent, some of editing struggles to cover
    the action but it’s generally believable. When the…

  • Love Hard

    Love Hard

    ★★½

    Some breezy, brainless and fairly charming Christmas trite. Love Hard is almost as lethargic as it’s title, but ultimately proves as passable with some solid performances and a healthy level of refraining from slapstick. 

    Nina Dobrev and Jimmy O Yang don’t have fantastic chemistry, but that doesn’t take away from their individual charming performances. They overcome the weak script, the stale plot and the conventional characters well and are generally convincing and likeable. The typical hallmark character tropes are very…

  • Waiting for the Barbarians

    Waiting for the Barbarians

    ★★

    I’ve found Ciro Guerra’s work in the past to be truly alluring and authentic, so it’s with disdain that I found Waiting for the Barbarian’s to be neither alluring or authentic. 

    All of the film’s assets are discouraged by the sloppy book to screen translation. Guerra clearly treats the source material with care, and as such if you’re a fan of the book it’s likely to work for you, however if you aren’t aware of the book the film might…