None of the films here are in my top list for 2022, but are all mostly worth seeing for one reason or another – either on Disney, Netflix or AppleTV+.
Amsterdam (2022) is loosely based on true events in the 1930s and has a sort of Coen Brothers vibe about it but is actually from writer/director David O. Russell. Three friends (Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington) join forces to figure out a murder and in doing so uncover an outrageous plot by big business to control the US government.
Pinocchio (2022), not the Disney remake but Guillermo Del Torro’s stop motion version, is a feast for the eyes and takes the usual fairytale of the puppet who wants to be a real boy to some unusual places. The animation is impeccably executed and there are some quite adult themes for what is essentially a children’s story. Anyone who saw Pan’s Labyrinth probably won’t be surprised to hear that.
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two friends who live on a small Irish island. One (Gleeson) decides he now longer wants to be friends with the other (Farrell) preferring to try and write a memorable tune on his fiddle. Rather than it being an out-and-out comedy this is a drama with a bit of dark humour thrown in. Farrell as usual impressed me immensely – showing again that he has such a skill in these odd indy films.
Spirited (2022) is an Apple TV+ exclusive movie starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds in a musical retelling of Dickens’s Christmas Carol. The songs are pretty forgettable and the film has more akin to Monsters Inc. than Dickens, but it’s quite good fun and it was Christmas after all.
All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) is a Netflix film telling the story of Paul a young German soldier on the Western Front in the closing stages of the First World War. The initial excitement of joining up turns into desperation and fear as Paul and his friends fight for their lives in the mud and blood of the trenches. It’s a story that’s been played out from the Allied side of WWII time and again, but this time we are in an WWI and among the Germans.
The action sequences and the overall recreation of the trenches from those times are to be applauded, however I had some difficulty really connecting with any of the characters and not just feeling that we were ticking of a list of tropes as the film progressed. Perhaps the fact that I had a serious case of the flu didn’t help but there are other films here I watched while I was ill and enjoyed more.
White Noise (2022) is another Netflix film based on a book by Don DeLillo and written for screen and directed by Noah Baumbach. It stars Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig as the mother and father of an American family dealing with a deadly airborne event (easily interpreted now as a metaphor for COVID) and the everyday complications of modern American life.
Driver and Gerwig revel in the dark comedy and the shifts in direction this film takes and I was left with the sense that this was an exploration of mortality dressed up in a small scale disaster movie pastiche.