Opens on my birthday, sometime during the cold war. Mute Amelie (Sally Hawkins) lives in the apartment above a reclusive artist (Richard Jenkins) who forges them fake IDs and van decals when it’s time to break her fishman boyfriend out of the government facility where she works alongside Octavia Spencer, but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, blatantly evil U.S. government agent Michael Shannon wants to kill and dissect the fishman, and sympathetic Russian spy Michael Stuhlbarg defies his superiors to save the fishman, all the while nobody noticing that Mute Amelie is having an affair with the fishman, and forgetting that she’s not deaf and can hear all their plans which they are constantly saying out loud.

I was warned by the anti-Guillermo critic contingent, but thought it’d be worth checking out Sally’s dance moves on the big screen, and jeez, does this movie ever have the best production design. Since Doug Jones plays the fishman, can this count as a Hellboy prequel?

Great opening titles, the credits created from an array of redacted documents. I took a note when pausing to grab snacks: “no way will the movie live up to these opening titles” – and it didn’t!

but it’s thrilling when G’s laser-breath is finally unleashed:

It doesn’t go the full Cloverfield, but sticks close to the ground, glimpsing giant monster battles from a panicked human perspective, much of the action unreadably dark on my screen. Bomb disposal expert Col. Witwicky must be cursed, he and each of his family members getting right in the path of monster attacks, until he breaks the curse at the end by torching the bad-guy monsters’ eggs before they can overrun the planet. And oh yeah there are evil monsters here, and Godzilla’s the good guy. And Juliette Binoche dies horribly after only 15 minutes, and Bryan Cranston is the star but he dies too, and Sally Hawkins gets three lines, and Ken Watanabe plays the Japanese scientist, and David Strathairn plays the serious military one, but mostly we’re left with Witwicky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, lead rapist of Nocturnal Animals) trying to get home to his Olsen wife before the world ends.

Evil Mantis Monster:

Hidden Mothra reference on a fishtank:

Gareth made this between indie alien thriller Monsters and a Star Wars spinoff. I was planning to double-feature this with the even newer Godzilla movie from the creator of Evangelion, but after two disappointing action flicks in a row (this and Alien: Covenant) I couldn’t risk a third, so rewatched Fury Road instead. Normally I’d say “argh, why did I watch this bland multiplex junk,” not recalling why it ended up on my must-see list, but now thanks to Letterboxd I can look up exactly who recommended it… aha, Ehrlich with 4.5 stars. “One of the most satisfying, well-paced & beautifully directed blockbusters since Jurassic Park… genuinely registers as the first post-human blockbuster.” And MZ Seitz listed it as one of the century’s best. They are high.

As a rule, I don’t like movies about precocious, lovestruck schoolkids. But I like Richard Ayoade and this got good reviews and Rushmore comparisons, so I checked it out. Extremely well-done – funny and atmospheric, two things that rarely go together. It’s Wes Andersonian without seeming derivative.

Oliver Tate worries that his parents (Sally Hawkins of Happy-Go-Lucky and Noah Taylor, appropriately of The Life Aquatic) aren’t getting along, pines after a classmate named Jordana, and envisions his own life in that sweetly megalomaniacal manner that teenagers do.

Drama: Oliver gets the girl, then loses her when he panics and doesn’t come to the hospital on the day of her mother’s cancer surgery. And Oliver’s mom might be cheating with the next-door neighbor (new-age spokesman Paddy Considine). For a movie starring a kid, it works out its conflicts in a refreshingly mature way.

Oliver checks up on his parents:

Paddy Considine:

There’s a traffic jam on the movie-blog because I couldn’t think of anything to say about Happy-Go-Lucky. I liked it though! Katy kinda liked it too. Happy teacher Sally Hawkins tries to infect everyone around her with happiness, meets a stone wall in her paranoid, misanthropic driving instructor. There’s also trouble with an unresponsive store clerk, a mentally disturbed homeless man, her picture-perfect pregnant sister, and a young school bully with abuse issues at home. Through the kid Sally meets a cute boy, a child counselor with whom she goes boating at the end.

I don’t remember Sally Hawkins from Vera Drake. I don’t remember driving instructor Eddie Marsan from any of his eight movies I’ve seen in the last five years, poor guy. I’ll look out for him playing John Houseman in Linklater’s new movie.

People who called this movie the flipside to Leigh’s Naked were right on (though Leigh himself doesn’t think so). It’s one of the few movies I’ve seen theatrically lately which I would gladly watch again right now.

D. Denby: “Leigh surrounds her with a realistic social world—workplace, family, students, a variety of grumpy and dissatisfied people. She greets them all with such frothy benevolence that you fear for her. Yet the movie, shot on sunshiny, light-filled days, feels joyous and loose-limbed, and the audience learns to relax and go with it.”