The newly released films I see in 2023 will appear here. I now include films seen in the cinema and new releases watched via streaming at home, as that’s the future for film releases post-pandemic. The text reviews beneath each film are what I said on social media about each one.
2023 Total: 21. (Seen in cinema: 15. Seen via home streaming: 6.)
The 2022 page is here. It links to the previous year, and so do the others, going back to 2015 when I started the One Film Per Week cinema thing.
Barbie is a modern fantasy with lots of metaphors about existentialism & feminism, about how everybody (men & women) should get equal opportunity. The archetypal Barbie & Ken have fulfilling story arcs. As do the main human characters when Barbie World and the Real World collide. That collision is a big part of making this a fantasy.
It looks and sounds great. Its messages are fab. It’ll annoy the right people. It’s a big-budget Gerwig & Baumbach film. I love their films. I loved this.
Edit: I saw it again in the cinema and raised my rating to 10. It was even better the second time.
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One is very silly. But that’s okay. The plot could have been lifted from a 1970s cereal box designed to give kids something to read as they munch on their Cornflakes and toast. But we’re not here for literary prowess. We’re here for the chases, the fights, the smouldering romantic tension, and the tongue-in-cheek comedy. It delivers on all those fronts in spades. I enjoyed it. It didn’t rise to great level, but it’s worth seeing.
Okay. Asteroid City has an unusual structure. It’s about the writing and the staging of a play set in the titular Asteroid City. It jumps between a greyscale theatrical real world with a narrator and the play scenes in Asteroid City. The play scenes are in over-saturated colours. I was dubious as it started, but it won me over. Both sides of the world. The actors in the play and their fictional character’s backstories are told well. Plenty of critics will hate it. I loved it.
No Hard Feelings is fab. It unfolds how you would expect, but there is nothing wrong with that. Story beats are used repeatedly for a reason. It’s funny, poignant, and leans into the age thing that people have been criticising without seeing the film. I liked it a lot. The leads are excellent. Recommended.
Chevalier was okay. The opening is pedestrian, including the much-flagged violin face-off. It gets better once it gets going. The plot beats are predictable and duly arrive when expected. It would have been better in French with subtitles rather than in English. And I don’t think the actors are actually singing. Samara Weaving is obviously fabulous. It had the potential to be great. It’s not. It’s okay.
Are you their God? It’s me, Margaret is pretty pedestrian. Not a lot happens. It’s okay. Nothing special. It has one substantial redeeming feature. Religious people will hate it. 👍🏻
Later addition: Apparently, the religious nutters have banned the book it’s based on.
If you mix themes from films on topics including teenage coming of age & fantasy worldviews, rebellion against cultural norms, arranged marriage pressures, social commentary, and secondary school friendships and drama, you have to do it well to nail it. As an aside, you also decide to make it funny.
That’s what Nida Manzoor does with Polite Society. I loved it, and GLOL’d several times. The undercover gym scene is fabulous. As are all the nods to other films and genres.
It’s a keeper. I’ll be back to see it again, and I’ll buy it on iTunes. Go see it.
Rye Lane is fantastic. It’s quirky, vibrant, funny, has great dialogue, and overturns some tropes in a good way. The leads are fab, as is the supporting cast. The back garden barbecue party scene is a masterpiece. I LOL’d several times throughout the film. I’ll watch it again when it hits Disney+.
Squared Love All Over Again isn’t as good as the first one. And that one was average. The only upside is Adrianna Chlebicka. You could film her reading the morning paper with coffee, and it’d be watchable. There will be more. It was the No. 1 non-English film on Netflix for a week earlier this month. And Netflix is contractually obligated to produce European output. I hope they hire some good scriptwriters if there are more.
I liked What’s Love Got To Do With It? Everyone & everything ends up exactly how you would expect. The path to get there is fun and has all the plot beats you expect and frankly want from a rom-com. But they are familiar plot beats for a reason. They work.
The film has some interesting things to say about marriage in western and Pakistani cultures. And modernisation. So traditionalists will likely be upset. Good leads and supporting cast. It’s well shot, and the music is good.
Your Place Or Mine is okay. A bit by the numbers for the main characters. The supporting characters are the most interesting part. I’d watch a film about Minka’s New York shenanigans or Alicia’s life in Los Angeles. It’s worth a watch.
Someone I Used To Know didn’t spark for me. The lead characters are hard to like. They do have redemption arcs, as expected, but I disliked them so much from earlier that the redemption didn’t compensate. It’s not a patch on the redemption arc of Olivia Allan’s character in The Valet (2022). Anyone who has been reading my ramblings for a while will know how highly I praise that film. Maybe unfair to judge Someone I Used To Know against it. But I do. Not recommended.
Wedding Season (film on Netflix) is a lite but good romcom. It has a bit of a 27 Dresses feel due to the many weddings the lead characters attend in and around the Indian diaspora in New Jersey. The leads pretend to be a couple at these weddings to get their parents and extended family to stop trying to set them up with partners. The outcome is as you’d expect. Nice journey to it though.
It has a good message about 2nd generation immigrants making their own way in the world. I liked it.
Stromboli is okay. It’s about a group of traumatised people who have booked time at a retreat on Stromboli — run by your archetype guru and his Indian assistant. Over the course of the film, various role-playing activities and flashbacks show what traumatic experiences have influenced the individuals’ lives.
I liked it, but I have a lot of questions. Did Sara go to the island to attend the retreat? How does the guru Jens know so much about Sara? Might need a second watch.
That’s Amor made me grin like a loon. It’s very easy to dismiss feel good films like this. I let go of the cynicism that can be directed at rom-com films of this ilk a while back.
This is a well-made romcom that hits all the beats. The cast are great, and the material is good. I don’t recall seeing Riley Dandy in anything else. I’ll be rectifying that. Recommended.
The Fabelmans did nothing for me. It’s a bland film. Neither inspiring nor annoying. I wonder if it would have been funded if the names attached weren’t Spielberg and Kushner.
I’m baffled by the glowing reviews. It’s average. Not a must-see by any stretch. I’d rather have watched a documentary about Spielberg’s life and career.
Take Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett, the Ryan Murphy & Ian Brennan mini-series Hollywood, and Hail, Caesar. Put them in a big story blender and sprinkle on some powdered debauchery before cooking at the temperature of Southern California.
Let the resulting film stand until cool & slice to 188 minutes. Call it Babylon and send it out into the world for consumption. It’s not a classic. It’s not even a must-see. It’s way too long. By about a third. It hasn’t much story. Average.
M3GAN is fun. It’s not scary, and most of the violence is just offscreen. It’s a typical AI gone bad story, but done reasonably well. Most of the story beats are predictable, but that’s fine.
It’s not as good as other comedic ’horror’ films I love such as Happy Death Day and Ready or Not. But it’s a fun watch without loads of jump scares.
I actually think that the AI components are reminiscent of Ex Machina. And the violence in M3GAN is comparable to what Ava does near the end of Ex Machina.
A lot is going on in Tár film. It has themes that touch on social climbing and forgetting your roots, the corrupting influence of power and strong influence over subordinates, megalomania, social and occupational rise then fall, and the regret that leads too.
It also flirts with cancel culture, mental health, and asymmetrical relationships. The lead character is a person who is hard to like—superbly played by Cate Blanchett. The sound is superb, as is the music.
I thought about rating it 9/10, but it’s overly long and is a bit full of itself in bits. Still a good film. But it could have been a masterpiece with some tweaking, in my untrained opinion.
Empire of Light is a dark film about dark themes. Mental health, depression, racism, loneliness, and urban decay. If that hasn’t made you gallop to the cinema to see it, then I don’t know what will!
Joking aside, there are some lighter moments in the connections made between characters. It’s an okay, but ultimately forgettable film.
I enjoyed A Man Called Otto. It’s a heartfelt story about life, love, loss, family, depression, community, neighbourhood, modernity, corporate greed, and redemption. I laughed out loud several times, and my eyeballs got a good wash. Strong 8/10 rating from me. I will rewatch I expect.