Instead of a film review I thought I would talk about the brilliant portrayals I’ve seen by different actors and actresses in the cinema this year. I know it’s only February but there have been some stellar performances. I have seen some great performances in older films but I wanted to concentrate on newer films.
Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart in Mary Queen of Scots
This female driven historical drama led by Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I was powerful and emotional. Mary’s story of love and loss really pulled at my emotions and even though I knew that in the past, women had basically no rights, I expected more for two British Queens. Saoirse played Mary as a strong queen who also loved motherhood and being the head of the army. She showed her loss greatly and suffered with noble quality. A particularly heart breaking scene to watch was the murder of David Rizzio, Mary’s friend. He was struck by many of her noblemen with her husband delivering the reluctant final blow. The birth of her child, James I was also a great scene by Saoirse. Saoirse Ronan is an amazing actress who has been nominated for three Oscars. Other roles, I have loved Saoirse in are Lady Bird and Brooklyn.
Emma Stone as Abigail in The Favourite
Emma’s performance reminded me of the goofiness and fun personality she has in real life but when Abigail starts to sabotage Sarah and become Queen Anne’s lady in waiting, there’s a manipulative, possessive undertone that I hadn’t seen her play before. Normally, Emma plays the fun, smart, down to earth type of character but Abigail was a side to her I had not seen before. Every little smirk and look to other characters and the camera showed what her character was thinking and feeling and her funny faces made me laugh. She definitely deserves her Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.
Tessa Thompson as Detroit in Sorry to Bother You
Tessa is a versatile actress who I have seen in Thor: Ragnarok and Annihilation before but in Sorry to Bother You she was electric. As an artist and protester, her character Detroit is not afraid to speak her mind in the capitalist US, the film has created. Detroit supports Cassius but when he starts to become more of a corporate stooge she quickly leaves him alone as she puts her own morals and beliefs before her relationship. The scene that stood out to me for its boldness and bravery was her live performance stunt at her art gallery. Detroit is dressed in a sort of bikini made of black gloves and she lets people throw pigs blood and old mobile phones at her. To stand there, wearing barely anything and having things thrown at you was a bold choice for the actress. Many people would not have been dedicated enough to do that on camera. The way she carried herself and never apologised for anything was a great character trait for a woman in any film but especially this one where the working man or woman was forced into working for capitalist pigs such as Steve Lift, played by Armie Hammer. Overall a fantastic performance and I can’t wait to see what Tessa does next.
Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns
To resurrect such an iconic character is a brave and certainly risky endeavour for any actress but to Emily Blunt the role of Mary Poppins just fitted. I loved the Julie Andrews version as a child so I had high expectations for this film and it certainly delivered. Emily looked the part of Mary Poppins and had the mannerisms and voice down pat. She was reminiscent of Julie Andrew’s Mary Poppins but definitely put her own spin on it. Every wink and look she did was carefully coordinated. Emily is also a fantastic dancer and singer which are essential skills for this Disney character. My favourite performances were ‘A Cover is Not the Book’ which Emily sang with Lin-Manuel Miranda and some CGI animals. Having to act with characters that aren’t there is a tricky feat but this musical number made it look natural. I also liked ‘Trip a Little Light Fantastic’ which had a great dance routine. Emily has taken a few serious roles in recent years with The Girl on the Train and A Quiet Place so it was great to see her in a lighter part.
Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy
I’m a Steve Carell fan from his comedy work on The Office and in films such as Get Smart and Crazy Stupid Love but he has been doing some great drama performances in recent years and David Sheff in Beautiful Boy was one of the best of his career. Playing the father of a drug addict is no easy role but Steve managed it beautifully. Every time Nic played by Timothée Chalamet let his family and his father down, you could see in Steve’s eyes that his character was gradually becoming more tired and upset over his son’s actions. David tried so hard time and time again to help his son get off drugs even going so far as trying cocaine himself to see what was so good about it. He also has his wife and two other children to look after and his job. Steve showed David’s struggles really well. I think that Steve is a great dramatic actor. I also recently saw him in Vice and his character was dramatic in a political, ballsy way, not taking no for an answer. Very different from his character in Beautiful Boy. I hope that Steve keeps playing dramatic roles in the future.
Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody
As a massive Queen fan, I was always going to high expectations for this film but Rami Malek’s transformation into Freddie Mercury was the thing that completely sold it to me. The songs and other cast were also amazing, particularly the other members of Queen but Rami’s performance made me fall in love with Queen and Freddie all over again. Rami’s movements and voice, singing and talking sounded so much like the original. I have been a fan of the music of Queen for years but I wasn’t aware of the struggles and hardships Freddie went through just to be himself. I never knew that he was with a woman before he met Jim or his fallout with Queen. His use of drugs to try and regulate his symptoms of AIDs was quite emotional to watch. His stand out scenes for me were the interview where he is high and all the journalists want to know about is his private life and of course the climax, the Live Aid performance. He is well deserving of his Oscar nomination and his Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Awards.
Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You
In a film set in an alternate reality, an important part to keep the audience understanding the plot is the interactions of the characters and how they behave. Lakeith was great in this role because he kept me on track in the different reality and I related to his story of wanting to succeed and make people proud of him. Lakeith’s character, Cassius Greene becomes a telemarketer and rises to the top using his ‘white voice’. Cassius becomes a power caller and leaves his friends behind but you can see by his expressions that he isn’t happy to do it. He is motivated by pride and the need to be successful and be able to provide for his uncle. In the end, he did the right thing which is what makes him the hero of the tale. One of my favourite parts was when Cassius would call people up and in the film, they plonked his desk right next to the customer. It showed that telemarketers can feel like they are right there in your home. I am excited to see what roles Lakeith takes on next.
Christian Bale in Vice
Many people are aware that Christian Bale is a very method actor but for his role as Dick Cheney, he is virtually unrecognisable as you can see from the photo above. I completely believed that he was Dick Cheney and it was interesting to see his journey from being a loser to the Vice President of the most powerful nation on the planet. When Dick starts working for Donald Rumsfeld, he is quiet and helpful but as he starts moving up the ranks, he becomes more outspoken and controlling. As Vice President, he managed to negotiate with George W. Bush and control most of the President’s responsibilities. The scenes showing 9/11 were when Dick Cheney was at his most ferocious. Christian completely became this character and his gradual build up into the most powerful man in the world was an amazing process. I also recently watched the Big Short by the same director as Vice and Christian’s character in that film was so far from Dick Cheney it is hard to think of them as a the same actor.
I’ve been watching more films recently and wanted to share some recommendations from the past week that I have seen either in the cinema or at home. There’s a mix of sci-fi, comedy, drama and alternate realities. I hope that something I have enjoyed this week sparks an interest for you.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Set in an alternate reality Oakland, Sorry to Bother You shows what it can be like to climb the corporate ladder in Capitalist America. Cassius Green takes a job as a telemarketer at RegalView and quickly learns that using his ‘white voice’ will help him advance to power caller, a highly coveted position, available via the golden elevator. When Cassius starts earning more, he soon realises that being rich and successful, does not mean happy. His girlfriend, Detroit is a feminist activist determined to protest against the state of the world.
I really enjoyed this film. The bizarre alternate reality provided a satirical view on corporate America and what it could be like if powerful companies had more influence. The film was clearly a protest against corporate greed with the CEO of WorryFree, a cost-free way of living, being a billionaire and the antagonist of the film. There were many hilarious jokes, relatable moments, wacky incidents. The cast were amazing and the script was well-written. I would happily watch it again and recommend to anyone to go along to the cinema to take in this amazing film. I saw it in a sold out screening so it has been very popular. The ending took a weird direction but in an alternate reality, anything goes. 5/5.
Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius Green
Tessa Thompson as Detroit
Jermaine Fowler as Salvador or Sal, Cassius’ best friend and fellow RegalView worker.
Omari Hardwick as Mr. ________, a nameless manager who takes Cassius under his wing when he becomes a power caller.
Terry Crews as Sergio, Cassius’ uncle. Cassius lives in Sergio’s basement and is motivated to become a power caller when Sergio learns he many lose his house.
Michael X. Sommers as Johnny, Cassius’ manager.
Steven Yeun as Squeeze, organiser of the worker’s union at RegalView.
Armie Hammer as Steve Lift, CEO of WorryFree and writer of best seller, I’m on Top.
Super 8 (2011)
A sci-fi film with a strong element of family relationships. It’s 1979 and Joe and his friends are making a movie together. They are all around 13/14 years of age. While filming at a train station they witness a monumental train crash. Afterwards, many strange incidents occur, suddenly making real life way more interesting than the zombie film they envisioned. Joe is also struggling with the sudden death of his mother and his deputy police chief father is too busy to listen to him. Joe and his friends try and save their town from a mysterious creature.
I really loved this film for many reasons. The writer/ director, J.J. Abrams and producer, Steven Spielberg have made some of my favourite films and TV shows such as Star Trek (2009), Lost, Jurassic Park, ET, Ready Player One and so many more. It was also interesting from a film student point of view to see the sort of equipment the average kid would have access to while making a film. The technology was more advanced than I had realised for that time. The actors were all superb with Joel Courtney as Joe in his first role! and Elle Fanning as Alice really standing out. They both struggle with strict fathers but don’t let that stop them making the film. It was great to see a big Hollywood film put children as the main actors and most of them had little or no previous experience. I also enjoyed the 70s setting of the cars, clothes and general culture. Family played a big part of the film and I found myself shedding a few tears at the end which I haven’t done at a sci-fi film before. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes sci-fi, family orientated or kid-centred films. 5/5.
Joel Courtney as Joe, the makeup wizard who also makes models of trains.
Elle Fanning as Alice, a convincing actress who borrows his dad’s car.
Ryan Lee as Cary, a great zombie actor who always brings explosives.
Riley Griffiths as Charles, the writer/director of the film and Joe’s best friend. He has many siblings and his parents always look out for Joe.
Gabriel Basso as Martin, the lead of their film who isn’t as clever as the others but has plenty of talent.
Zach Mills as Preston, another actor and general helper. Often left behind to cover.
Kyle Chandler as Joe’s father, Deputy Jackson Lamb
Ron Eldard as Alice’s father, still angry over his wife leaving.
Noah Emmerich as Colonel Nelec, he leads the military presence that take over the town.
Glynn Turman as Dr. Woodward, the kid’s science teacher who is the key to the monster’s appearance.
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
Based on the best-selling book, The Girl with All the Gifts tells the post-apocalypse story of Melanie who is kept in a military compound and spends her time in a classroom, buckled into a wheelchair. A zombie apocalypse has happened and the remaining survivors are living in military camps across the UK. Melanie loves her teacher, Miss Justineau as she tells the class wonderful stories of princesses, goddesses, Romans, Greeks and warriors. When the base is over run, Melanie realises that she too is a ‘hungry’ and with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks, Dr. Caldwell and a couple of soldiers, she travels through the dystopian wasteland of England to reach Beacon, the next place of hope.
I was really excited for this film as I read the book a couple of years ago and greatly enjoyed it. The film was good but did not deliver the same enjoyment as the book. A few big points were changed and the romance between Sergeant Parks and Miss Justineau was completely written out and the ethnicity of Miss Justineau and Melanie was swapped around. It was entertaining and the acting was okay but it did not live up to my expectations. I would not watch again in a hurry. 3/5.
Sennia Nanua as Melanie, Miss Justineau’s best student and Dr. Caldwell’s last chance.
Gemma Arterton as Miss Justineau, Melanie’s teacher who feels great compassion for all the children in her class.
Paddy Considine as Sgt. Parks, the no-nonsense leader who grows to trust Melanie.
Glenn Close as Dr. Caldwell, the scientist who wants to use the children to make a cure.
Anthony Welsh as Dillon, a private who goes on the expedition to Beacon.
Fisayo Akinade as Kieran Gallagher, a private that Melanie trusts who also goes on the trip to Beacon.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
This epic animation took four years to make and certainly delivered. It focuses on teenager, Miles Morales, he has just started at his new boarding school but still sneaks out to hang with his Uncle and paint graffiti. He is bitten by a radioactive spider and gets all sorts of powers. They get him into many embarrassing situations but after witnessing Peter Parker’s death, he takes on the responsibility to stop The Kingpin from destroying reality by trying to bring back his dead family. Miles gets help from many different Spider-People that have been brought to his reality. He struggles with believing in himself and it doesn’t help that his dad’s a cop.
I loved this film. It has received a lot of praise and is nominated for an Oscar so I was pleased when I eventually got around to seeing it. The animation was brilliant as unique, often going back to comic book lay out. The cast of voices is hugely talented and they helped bring life to some amazing characters. There were many hilarious parts but also some great messages about helping your friends and being brave. I would recommend to any superhero fans or anyone that is looking for something different from an animation. 5/5.
Shameik Moore as Miles Morales
Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker, an older Spider-Man who has let himself go in his reality.
Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy, who became Spider-Man instead of Peter Parker in her reality.
Mahershala Ali as Uncle Aaron, Miles’ cool uncle.
Brian Tyree Henry as Jefferson Davis, Miles’ police officer father.
John Mulaney as Peter Porker/ Spider-Ham, a pig who is also Spider-Man.
Kimiko Glenn as Peni Parker, from the future, she co-pilots her robot with a spider.
Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir, from the 1930s, in a monochrome universe.
Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, Peter Parker’s guardian who helps the Spider gang in their mission.
Zoë Kravitz as Mary Jane, Peter Parker’s widow
Kathryn Hahn as Dr. Olivia Octavius, Wilson Fisk’s scientist with a superhero alter-ego
Liev Schreiber as The Kingpin, the evil owner of Alchemax.
Chris Pine as Peter Parker, the first Spider-Man who dies trying to stop the Kingpin.
Almost Famous (2000)
This cult classic from 2000 may be old but it tells a great rock and roll story. 15 year old William convinces Rolling Stone Magazine that he is a legitimate music journalist and goes on tour with upcoming rock band, StillWater. He is trying to write his piece but also has many experiences along the way. He makes friends with Band Aid, Penny Lane, who is romancing Russell, the guitarist of StillWater. William learns that rock stars are not all glitz and glamour and they aren’t always your friend. It is set in the early 1970s, the golden age of rock.
I really enjoyed the film. I love rock music especially from the 1970s and it was interesting to see the music industry through the eyes of a teenager. The acting was great, Kate Hudson stood out as Penny Lane and Frances McDormand as Elaine, William’s strict mother. It had many funny moments while not holding back on drama and entertainment. A classic for a reason. 5/5.
Billy Crudup as Russell, leader of StillWater and the person William becomes closest to in the band.
Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, 16 year old Band Aid, who likes to runaway from life by touring with bands.
Frances McDormand as Elaine, William’s mother
Patrick Fugit as William, rock fan and wannabee journalist.
Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe, member of StillWater.
Zooey Deschanel as Anita, William’s sister. She leaves home when William is 11 to escape her oppressive mother and to become an air stewardess.
Anna Paquin as Polexia, Penny’s fellow Band Aid
Noah Taylor as Dick Roswell, the band’s manager
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs, editor of Cream magazine who gives advice to William.
Jimmy Fallon as StillWater’s new manager brought in to bring some order to the tour.
I have watched a diverse selection this week and I hope that you are inspired to watch something I enjoyed.
Another post for me in the same month is rare I know but as I am still on university holidays, I thought I would write about what I’ve been watching this year. I have had quite a lot of spare time so I have been watching many TV series and films. Not everything listed below came out this year. Hope everyone is having a good 2019 so far!
I will start with the films that I have seen.
Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol 2011
I watched this at home a few days ago and as a lover of the latest film I had high expectations. They were certainly met. The dynamics between the main cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner really gave the film the human spark it needed to not be a mindless action thriller. There were amazing stunts and cool gadgets – the magnetic suit for one, stunning locations and spine-tingling suspense. I would definitely watch again and I will be watching the earlier films in the Mission: Impossible franchise. 5/5.
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, an IMF spy, constantly on the run and never out of danger.
Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, the funny computer genius who has just passed field training.
Paula Patton as Jane, a colleague who is out for revenge.
Jeremy Renner as Brandt, an analyst who gets caught up in Hunt’s mission.
Léa Seydoux as Moreau, an assassin looking to trade documents for diamonds
Mary Poppins Returns 2018
I was quite late to the party with this one but I managed to see it last week at the cinema. This film appear to have sparked a controversy as while some people were disappointed with the outcome, it has been nominated for four Golden Globes and three BAFTAs. I, however, really enjoyed it. I have seen the first one but not for a while so it wasn’t fresh in my mind but the overall feeling of this film is updated yet similar to the original. The songs and sets are different and the characters have grown up but Mary Poppins is still there to save the day. The animated scenes were inspired by but didn’t copy the original. The film gave me a heartwarming feeling. Great bit of fun for all the family. 5/5.
Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, the magical nanny returning to the Banks’.
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, the lamp lighter who joins in on the fun.
Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks, he’s all grown up and struggling with finances.
Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks, she rallies for women’s rights.
Pixie Davies as Anabel Banks, the most responsible Banks child.
Nathanael Saleh as John Banks, the sensible one.
Joel Dawson as Georgie Banks, he likes to wander off and fly kites.
Julie Walters as Ellen, the housekeeper and cook.
Meryl Streep as Cousin Topsy, who can everything but not on a second Wednesday.
Colin Firth as Mr Wilkins, chairman of the bank who is determined to repossess the Banks’ house.
Finding Your Feet 2018
This heartwarming comedy will tug at your heart strings and put a smile on your face. Sandra discovers her husbands affair and runs to her sister’s council flat in London. By finding her long forgotten love of dance again and meeting Biv’s fun friends, Sandra gets a new burst of life and reconnects with her sister. I particularly liked the sequences in Rome and Biv’s eccentric zest for life. It also shows to me that older actors can still make a great entertaining film and younger leads aren’t always necessary.
Imelda Staunton as Sandra, whose husband has been having a secret affair for years. She lived in a big house in Surrey but moves in with her sister at the beginning.
Celia Imrie as Biv, a woman who lives every day like it’s her last. She swims in cold water pools, does weekly dance classes, goes on dates and buys her stuff from the charity shop.
Timothy Spall as Charlie who lives on a canal boat and takes a shine to Sandra.
Joanna Lumley as Jackie a fellow dancer and a lawyer, she knows how to have fun.
David Hayman as Ted who lives next to Charlie on the canal. He’s Charlie’s best friend and is always there for support.
A hilarious comedy about a woman taking revenge a bit too far. Kate is working multiple jobs to put herself through nursing school and support her three daughters. After a billionaire playboy throws her off his luxury yacht, she uses him for her own gain. Leo, himself falls off the yacht and wakes up with no memory. Kate convinces him that she is his wife and takes him home. She makes him do manual labour and earn money until she can pass her upcoming exam. Full of heart and funny scenes this film was a delight to watch. The only slight downside was as most of the characters were fluent in Spanish they spoke it frequently with no subtitles. It didn’t impede too much on understanding the main plot though. 5/5.
Anna Faris as Kate, a wannabe nurse struggling to balance work, studying and looking after her children.
Eugenio Derbez as Leo, a selfish billionaire who becomes a doting husband after her gets amnesia.
Eva Longoria as Theresa, Kate’s friend who is in on the act and helps her keep it up.
Mel Rodriguez as Bobby, Theresa’s husband, he lets Leo work for his building company.
John Hannah as Colin, Leo’s chef and employer on the yacht.
I’m going to start by saying that I didn’t really enjoy or understand this film but seeing as it won two Golden Globes, some people must appreciate it. The film set in Mexico in 1970 is telling the story of Cleo, a domestic servant and the family she works for. It is in black and white and while this does give the film some atmosphere, I think that the film didn’t have a strong enough setting, dialogue or plot. There were also a lot of long shots such as the beginning and many unexplained events. The acting was okay but I didn’t really connect with the characters enough to care about what happened to them. The family appeared to care for Cleo at some points but still treated her like just a servant. Confusing. 2/5.
Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, the domestic worker who works for Sofia and her children.
Marina de Travia as Sofia, the lady of the house and the mother of 4 children.
Fernando Grediaga as Antonio, the husband and father who works as a doctor and is away a lot of the time.
Verónica García as Teresa, Sofia’s mother who helped out the family.
Attack the Block 2011
I really liked this action comedy. It is set in and around a block of flats in South London. A gang of teenagers find a strange creature and kill it. It turns out to a an alien and the rest of the fleet descend on the block. Sam, a nurse teams up with the gang and they defend their home. They also have to avoid angry rival gang members and keep little wannabees out of the way. Featuring appearances from Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker and John Boyega, this award winning film is definitely worth a watch. 4/5.
John Boyega as Moses, the gang’s leader who is just trying to survive childhood.
Jodie Whittaker as Sam, a nurse who gets sucked in to defending the block
Alex Esmail as Pest, the token white guy in the gang and the first to be injured.
Leeon James as Jerome, Moses right hand man
Luke Treadaway as Brewis, a rich boy who is the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nick Frost as Ron, a drug dealer with his own weed room.
I have also been loving many TV shows, most of them are Netflix Originals.
A Series of Unfortunate Events – Series 3 2019
This third and final series is the climax to A Series of Unfortunate Events. I really liked the film that was made but this series really does justice to the books. It uses two episodes for each book. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire have been on the run from the evil Count Olaf since their parents died in a mysterious fire. They have discovered that their parents were in an organisation V.F.D but they don’t have all the answers yet. Can they ever escape from Count Olaf’s grasp? What is in the sugar bowl? What is V.F.D? Could one of their parents still be alive? Find out if you dare in series three. I really loved the series. The acting is superb and the story is very well thought out. It definitely does the books justice. 5/5.
Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, the oldest sibling and an inventor. She always ties her hair up with a ribbon when she has an idea.
Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, the middle sibling and the researcher. He has read many books and his extensive knowledge comes in handy.
Presley Smith as Sunny Baudelaire, the youngest sibling, a toddler who likes to bite things and often comes to the right answer before her siblings.
Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, the narrator of the Baudelaire’s tale. He has pieced together the story for us to watch unfold.
Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, an actor who travels with his troupe and is desperate to get his hands on the Baudelaire’s fortune.
Lucy Punch as Esmé Squalor, the forth most important financial advisor and Count Olaf’s girlfriend. She travels with Olaf in hopes of finding the sugar bowl. She wears ridiculous ‘in’ outfits.
Kitana Turnbull as Carmelita Spats, a spoiled little girl who loves performing and travels with Esmé and Count Olaf as their ‘daughter’. She hates the Baudelaires and calls everyone ‘cake-sniffer’.
Alison Williams as Kit Snicket, the sister to Jacques and Lemony. She has been trying to help the Baudelaires.
COMEDIANS of the world: UK: Ellie Taylor 2019
I watched Ellie Taylor’s special and really enjoyed it. She talked a lot about marriage and impending motherhood but in a very funny way and many of her opinions. She is one of my favourite comedians and it’s great to see her representing the UK in this series. There are many different comedians from around the world in this collection.
The Good Place Series 3: Episode 10 and 11 2019
Since the series has come back from it’s mid series break, it has taken many turns. The four humans, Michael and Janet finally got to the Good Place but they only reached the mail room. They have to work out what to do next. Eleanor and Chidi talk about the events of episode nine and Michael is concerned about the points system. The next episode takes place in IHOP but I don’t want to give too much away. It’s hilarious as always whilst teaching about philosophy and what makes a good person.
Kristen Bell as Eleanor, the shrimp loving Arizona trash bag with a thing for mailmen.
William Jackson Harper as Chidi, a philosophy teacher who struggles with choices and gets nervous stomach aches.
Jameela Jamil as Tahani, a rich self entitled party hostess who only does charity for her own gain and grew up in her sister’s shadow.
Manny Jacinto as Jason, a Jacksonville Jaguars fan who has been in many dance crews and doesn’t have much brain power but a lot of heart.
Ted Danson as Michael, a demon who enjoyed torturing the four humans but is now working with them to get to the Good Place. He loves human quirks.
D’Arcy Carden as Janet, a human search engine with powers to get you anything you want. She has been rebooted so many times, she is starting to behave like a human.
Sex Education 2019
This series is filthy, dramatic, funny, quirky, relatable and entertaining. Set in a rural part of England, Sex Education tells the story of Otis Milburn, a 16 year old who wanted to be that person in the corner. His mother is a sex therapist and after one piece of great advice to the school bully, Otis and scary Maeve Wiley set up a sex clinic for the students of Moordale High. People start coming to Otis with all sorts of problems. Otis is also trying to be a teenager and sort through his own issues with sex and relationships. He is helped by his best friend Eric who is constantly pushing Otis out of his comfort zone. Otis’ mother, Jean is an overbearing, involved mother with a vibrant sex life. I loved this series and watched it all in two days. Very graphic so definitely for over 18s. It has been watched by 40 million Netflix users this month. 5/5.
Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn, unlicensed therapist navigating being a teenager and dealing with his embarrassing mother.
Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley, she has a bad reputation, is very smart and is always broke.
Ncuti Gatwa as Eric, Otis’ best friend who is out and proud but struggles with his father accepting him and his outrageous outfits.
Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn, sex therapist and single mother, Jean worries about her son and doesn’t do boyfriends
Connor Swindells as Adam Groff, the headmaster’s son. He doesn’t care about school and prefers to bully the student body. His father is constantly disappointed in him.
Aimee Lou Wood as Aimee, one of the Untouchables who struggles with their endless rules, she always has a boyfriend and is friends with Maeve.
Kedar Williams-Stirling as Jackson, the head boy and competitive swimmer. He has a lot of pressure from his mum to do well and needs plenty of advice about girls.
Alistair Petrie as Mr Groff, Moordale’s headmaster and Adam’s dad. He knows how to deal out the punishments and does not let up for anyone, even his own son.
Mikael Persbrandt as Jakob, a plummer that is fixing Jean’s bathroom.
Friends from College – Series 2 2019
The second series in this hilarious comedy drama about six 40 year olds who have been friends since college. Set in New York City, the series concentrates on their relationships with others and each other. In the last series, a lot of drama went down and the gang is still recovering. Max and Felix are engaged now, Lisa and Ethan and separating, Sam and her husband are in trouble, Nick is finally dating someone his own age and Marianne is still living her carefree life. I love this series and the second series definitely delivered on the drama and comedy. A stellar cast, this series is amazing. 5/5.
Keegan-Michael Key as Ethan, a young adult author who is desperate to know if his wife, Lisa wants a divorce or not after his affair was revealed.
Fred Savage as Max, a publisher who works closely with Ethan and is engaged to his long term boyfriend, Felix.
Nat Faxon as Nick, a player who only went out with girls in their 20s. He finds a woman his own age but can’t let go of Lisa who has been crushing on for 20 years.
Annie Parisse as Sam, a working mother who is the most successful of the group. She is having trouble with her husband, Jon after her affair with Ethan was revealed.
Jae Suh Park as Marianne, a carefree actress with nothing to tie her down apart from her daredevil on again off again boyfriend.
Cobie Smulders as Lisa, a lawyer who disappears after sleeping with Nick and reappears with a new boyfriend a year later
Billy Eichner as Felix, a doctor who is so done with the drama from Max’s friends.
Lost in Space 2018
This show has been out for a while but I watched the last few episodes in the series this year. I started it months ago but have been watching it sporadically. It’s about the Robinsons who leave Earth for a better future but crash land on a strange planet. They have to work together with others that land there to get back to the mother ship. There are alien robots, lying doctors, brave engineers and daring escape attempts. There is a lot of family drama involved and problem solving. The last episodes were the best for me as the middle of the series dipped from the great opening but still enjoyable. It’s different from the original series and the 1998 film. 4/5.
Maxwell Jenkins as Will Robinson, the youngest and bravest. He manages to befriend a robot.
Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson, the doctor and the eldest, she takes risks to protect her patients and her family.
Mina Sundwall as Penny Robinson as the engineer who likes to do her own thing and bend the rules.
Molly Parker as Maureen, the mother and a rocket scientist. She designed their ship, the Jupiter and lied to get her son on board.
Toby Stephens as John, the father and a soldier. He was absent for most of the kid’s childhood and is trying to make up for it.
Ignacio Serricchio as Don West, an electrical engineer who doesn’t have a family so is always up for danger.
Parker Posey as Dr Smith, a survivor who is determined to reach the new world. She manipulates people to get what she wants.
Les Miserables 2018/9
An adaptation of the beloved book, this series is not a musical, but a drama. Only three episodes have aired but I am really enjoying Les Misérables so far. It tells the story of many different characters, a prisoner, a police chief, a factory worker, a little girl, two swindlers. It illustrates the gap between the rich and the poor in the early 1800s in Paris. The acting is excellent and I can’t wait to see what happens. 5/5.
Main Cast from first 3 episodes :
Lily Collins as Fantine, a factory worker trying to feed herself and her child
Dominic West as Jean Valjean, a prisoner who got 19 years for a loaf of bread. He goes from one place to another, escaping his past.
David Oyelowo as Javert, a governor turned police chief, hunting Valjean for his crimes.
Adeel Akhtar as Thenardier, a pub owner who brags about being in the war. He cheats people from their money.
Olivia Colman as Madame Thenardier, a mother who cares for her own children only. Gets as much money as she can from anyone who comes her way.
For my first post of 2019, I’m sharing my personal opinions on who should have won at the Golden Globes this year. There were some unexpected winners and losers for me so I thought I would discuss these and what I thought of some of the films that won. I’m only going to talk about categories in which I have seen at least 3 of the films.
Bohemian Rhapsody – Best Motion Picture – Drama
I was very excited about this film as I am a long time fan of Freddie Mercury and Queen. The film certainly didn’t disappoint and it is one of my favourite films of the year. I found out more about one of my favourite bands and the hardships and joy they experienced in the early days of their success. I’m also really pleased for the cast as they all worked really hard on the film and press tour. I follow them on Instagram and the posts they make featuring each other have really kept the spirit of the film alive.
The category this year had 3 films featuring black actors which is historic in itself as awards ceremonies in Hollywood have been accused of unfair treatment in previous years. The fact that Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman and If Beale Street Could Talk were nominated is a big step towards racial equality. I have seen both Black Panther at the cinema and the Cannes Film Festival in May and BlacKkKlansman at the cinema back in September. Both films were amazing and would have been worthy winners of this award. A Star is Born was one of my best films of the year and it’s one award was disappointing but in this category I think it faced tough competition.
Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody – Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Rami Malek was the perfect Freddie Mercury in this film and got Freddie’s movements and mannerisms down to a T. I loved him as the lead singer of Queen and his performance brought the film to amazing heights. I also admire Malek for his roles in Need for Speed and the Night at the Museum franchise.
Bradley Cooper did an amazing job in A Star is Born as I have mentioned in a previous post and John David Washington as Ron Stallworth was powerful and iconic. Ron Stallworth becomes the first black cop in Colorado Springs and he engineers an infiltration into a branch of the Ku Klux Klan. The film by Spike Lee had a lot of powerful imagery and showed how awful and traumatising racism has been and continues to be. I have not seen At Eternity’s Gate or Boy Erased but Willem Dafoe and Lucas Hedges are both worthy nominees.
Alfonso Cuarón for Roma – Best Director – Motion Picture
I personally did not enjoy this film. It didn’t have enough plot or dialogue to follow to be able to empathise or relate to the characters. It was a pretty film to look at but as a drama it did nothing for me. I was disappointed with this winner and I thought the other nominees were more deserving.
Spike Lee and Bradley Cooper both did great jobs with their films and I would have preferred if one of them had won. I love Bradley Cooper as an actor and to be nominated for his directorial debut is a credit to his talents. Spike Lee knows how to tell a powerful tale and this was evident in BlacKkKlansman. Some of the dialogue and events really stuck with me. I haven’t seen Green Book or Vice so I don’t know how good the directing is.
Justin Hurwitz for First Man – Best Original Score – Motion Picture
The score for First Man really enhanced the breathtaking images of the film. When Neil Armstrong is going into space at the beginning the score helped me feel as though I was in the rocket with him. I think this score and composer are worthy winners in a tough category. Marco Beltrami did an amazing job with A Quiet Place, a film with minimal dialogue but the score creates great tension and suspense. I was on the edge of my seat for most of this film. Alexandre Desplat also did an amazing job with Isle of Dogs; another great film of 2018. Directed by Wes Anderson and told as an animation with Japanese and English dialogue, Isle of Dogs was a lovely story about the love between an owner and their dog. Like the Quiet Place, the score for Isle of Dogs helped enhance the story and build tension.
Black Panther’s score was also award worthy and it’s amazing to see a Marvel film nominated for so many awards at the Globes. Ludwig Göransson did a brilliant job and paired with the soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, the sound is one of the major factors that has made Black Panther one of the best films in recent years. I have not yet seen Mary Poppins Returns but have heard wonderful things about the film.
Shallow from A Star is Born – Best Original Song – Motion Picture
I think this song really deserved to win. It’s a powerful song and sung by Lady Gaga in the film, it tells the story and feelings of her character, Ally perfectly. Bradley Cooper also sings the song very well but I think it is Lady Gaga that truly owns it. I have listened to on repeat for months and it still moves me and empowers me at the same time. The sheer power of Lady Gaga’s voice singing it in A Star is Born gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it in the film. I’m glad that A Star is Born won in this category.
It did have tough competition though as I think every song in this category was award worthy. All the Stars by Kendrick Lamar and SZA from Black Panther has a great beat that is perfect for the film and Girl in the Movies from Dumplin’ by Dolly Parton is a great theme song for the film. It’s uplifting in the same way as the message in the film. I have just listened to Requiem for A Private War and it was a beautiful song but I haven’t seen the film that it was written for. Revelation from Boy Erased is another powerful song that would have been a worthy winner.
The Americans – Best Television Series – Drama
I haven’t watched the recent seasons of The Americans but I have seen it before and I think it’s a good show but this year there were more worthy winners. I think that Bodyguard or Killing Eve should have won. I enjoyed both these series and think they were great television dramas. Bodyguard about the British Home Secretary having an affair with her personal bodyguard. It seem fairly simple but there is so much more to this drama. Plenty of action and romance and the last episode is one of the most intense pieces of television I have ever seen. Killing Eve had more of a cat and mouse element with Eve who works for MI6 trying to track down a female assassin all over Europe. It was a great female lead drama and the drama was more long played than in Bodyguard. Great plot twists and acting. I haven’t seen Pose or Homecoming but I have heard great things.
Rachel Brosnahan for The Marvelous Mrs Maisel – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
I think that Rachel Brosnahan is an amazing actress and this is the role that she is born to play. I can’t see anyone else even attempting to play Mrs Maisel. I love this show and have seen both seasons. It is about an upper class Jewish woman in New York City. At the beginning of the show, Mrs Maisel’s husband leaves her for his secretary and to cope she turns to stand up comedy. It is set in the late 1950s when women were not very well received in comedy. The whole cast of the show are amazing and I would highly recommend watching it.
GLOW is an amazing series about female wrestlers in the 1980s and Alison Brie does a great performance as Ruth. I love this show and have seen both series and I cannot wait for the next season. Kristen Bell is also great as Eleanor Shellstrop in the Good Place, a comedy about going to the afterlife. The show while being up to date on pop culture also helps the audience to understand concepts of philosophy and make sense of what happens to us after death. I was really glad that Kristen Bell was nominated. Will & Grace and Murphy Brown are shows that I haven’t seen but have heard good things about.
I would also like to give a special mention to Ben Whishaw who won the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture made for Television. His role as Norman Scott in A Very English Scandal was great and he was worthy of the award. I have however not seen any other nominations in his category so it wouldn’t be fair to say he is the best, not having anything to compare it to. I watched all of A Very English Scandal last night and it was such a powerful and almost unbelievable true story. It tells the tale of Norman Scott having a gay affair with powerful politician Jeremy Thorpe in the 1960s and then being targeted for murder by Thorpe. Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe was also great and a role we rarely see him play, the bad guy.
I know I only gave my opinions on a few of the categories but I didn’t feel it was right to judge categories in which I hadn’t seen more than 3 of the nominations.
I hope to write on many new and different topics in 2019.
No new post for a while, I know, but last week I finished my university course for the year, so I thought I would write a few posts before the new year. This post will be about the Christmas Films I’ve loved watching this winter season. Most of them I have seen before but there were a few new ones.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
I watched this film at the cinema this year, and even though it is a children’s film, I thought it had enough adult humour to keep the whole family entertained. The film is a retelling of the Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol with the Muppets and humans acting side by side. Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge,the Bah Humbug of Christmas who is shown the error of his ways by three ghosts. Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit and his wife, Miss Piggy. Entertaining for all the family. It is advertised as a U but I would not let sensitive 4 year olds watch. 5/5.
Jack Frost (1998)
A classic Christmas film that I loved as a child. I watched it last month and even though it is a children’s film, I really enjoyed it. It is about a boy whose father reincarnates as a snowman on Christmas Eve. They have many adventures in the snow-covered Colorado town. Michael Keaton has great charm and charisma as titular character, Jack Frost, the front man of his band. When he was alive, he never could give Charlie his full attention but made of ice and snow, all he wants is to spend time with his son. 5/5.
Love Actually (2003)
Many people go to this Christmas romance written by Richard Curtis and starring many British favourites such as Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Bill Nye, Martin Freeman, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It tells the story of many different people in the lead up to Christmas. Hugh Grant is the new Prime Minister, trying to run the country, Emma Thompson is making lobster costumes for the nativity, Keira Knightley gets married and Liam Neeson tries to be a good step-father. There are so many little stories of love, loss and hope all set in London at Christmas time. I have watched this film every festive season since I discovered it. 5/5.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
A funny children’s animation for kids and adults telling the story of how Father Christmas, his family and the army of elves reachevery child on Christmas Eve. Steve, Father Christmas’ son has created a fully technological ship with a fool proof delivery system. However, when one present gets left behind; Arthur Christmas, the embarrassment of the family who has been designated to the’Letters to Santa’ department decides to help. He teams up with Grand-Santa and an old reindeer to make Christmas happen for every girl and boy. Filled with many jokes and gags, the film will make children and grown-ups believe in the magic of Father Christmas once more. One of my personal favourites. 5/5.
Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! (2012)
The sequel in the franchise, Nativity 2 carries on the tales of St Bernadette’s Primary School as this time they want to compete in the Song for Christmas singing competition in Wales. When the headmistress says no, Mr Poppy, the ditsy, childish teaching assistant hires a boat bus and brings the children and Mr Peterson, the new class teacher played by David Tennant along for the adventure. Featuring babies, magic flying donkeys and mountains, this quest to be part of something special at Christmas will warm everyone’s heart. Filled with jokes and laughs to keep everyone entertained. 5/5.
Christmas with the Coopers (2015)
A large family coming together in a small American town at Christmas. They all want to have the best Christmas ever but are all hiding secrets. Sam and Charlotte are getting a divorce after 40 years, their son, Hank is divorced and is looking for love again whilst fighting with his children’s mother over presents. Charlie is crushing on a girl and his younger brother, Bo is looking for the perfect gift. Meanwhile, Sam and Charlotte’s other daughter is avoiding her family at the airport where she meets a soldier and convinces him to be her fake boyfriend. Charlotte’s sister, Emma gets arrested and Bucky finds out his friend at the coffee shop is leaving town. Full of disaster and Christmas crisis, this film will make your family appear like normal. I’ve seen this film several times and it is filled with many of my favourite actors: Diane Keaton, Ed Helms, Timothée Chalamet, Amanda Seyfried, Jake Lacy, Olivia Wilde, Marisa Tomei, Anthony Mackie, John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Alex Borstein. 5/5.
A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)
One for an older audience of 15 or upwards, this Christmas sequel carries on the tale of Amy, Kiki and Carla as they decide at Christmas time to be ‘Bad Moms’ once again. With the arrival of all of their own mothers played by Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski and Cheryl Hines, the three stressed out mothers just want their kids to have fun without the pressures of a perfect family Christmas. Filled with dirty jokes and gags, a raunchy bit of festive fun. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn, three comedy queens star. 4/5.
The Princess Switch (2018)
A royal tale of finding love in unexpected places, The Princess Switch tells the story of Stacy and Margaret, one a baker from Chicago, just out of a relationship and the other the Duchess of Montanero, about to marry a prince she barely knows.When Stacy goes to Belgravia for a Christmas baking competition, she meets Margaret who wants to experience normal life for once. The two switch and quickly find there’s more to life than they originally thought while falling in love of course. The scenery of the film was breath-taking, and Vanessa Hudgens does great in both parts, but I found the film a little cheesy. Enjoyable watch though and great for anyone wanting to be a princess. 3/5.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
The best new Christmas film I saw this year on Netflix. Kurt Russell plays Santa Claus who crash lands in America after Kate and Teddy plan to catch Santa on Christmas Eve and accidentally disturb his delivery. They team up together to finish the job with a few bumps along the way. A heart-warming tale of family and loss and the magic of Christmas. Featuring a surprising cameo, Santa starting a rock band in jail, car thieves and the never-ending sack of presents, a lovely film that I definitely be watching again this year. 5/5.
Christmas Inheritance (2018)
Eliza Taylor (The 100) stars as Ellen Langford, a spoiled heiress to her father’s gift company. She is sent to a small town from the Big Apple to complete a Christmas tradition and to hopefully find herself along the way. In Snow Falls,she meets Jake who works at the inn and dislikes New York. With a fiancé back home, their chemistry can only spell trouble for Ellen. Starring Jake Lacy, Andie MacDowell and Neil Crone this story of humility and kindness at Christmas will remind us all what truly is important. Suitable for ages 12 and upwards.4/5.
Hope this gives you some ideas for Christmas films this holiday.
I know another post so soon is not characteristic for me but yesterday I saw ‘A Star is Born’ and it really moved me so I couldn’t not write about it. I will also give my thoughts on ‘A Simple Favour’ another great film that I saw last week.
A Star is Born
This film was one of the few films that has affected me in such a physical way. I have been known to cry at many films but this one elicited a different reaction. It’s beautiful story and combined with the original sounds and brilliant performances by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born moved me. I felt strongly for the characters and their pain which stayed with me for several hours. It was as if the events had happened to me and not just on the screen.
As this film is the fifth version of this tale, you may think there was nothing left to do with the story but this film proved that this simply isn’t the case. Lady Gaga plays Ally, a waitress who sings in drag club. She isn’t pursuing a career successfully due to music industry executives telling her she has the right voice but the wrong face. When famous rock country singer Jackson Maine (Cooper) stumbles across her performing, he immediately recognises her talent. She is invited to sing on stage with him and they perform her original song. She quickly becomes successful while Jackson is struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction and tinnitus.
All the songs were written especially for the film and always express the character’s feelings at that point within the film. My personal favourite is Shallow which is the first song Jackson and Ally sing together.
There has been a lot of buzz around this film and for good reason. Even though this is Lady Gaga’s first film, I will be disappointed if she doesn’t receive award nominations. I give A Star is Born 5/5.
Lady Gaga (American Horror Story) as Ally
Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) as Jackson Maine
Sam Elliott (Road House) as Bobby, Jackson’s manager/brother
Andrew Dice Clay (The Adventures of Ford Fairlane) as Lorenzo, Ally’s father
Rafi Gavron (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) as Rez, Ally’s manager
Anthony Ramos (Younger) as Ramon, Ally’s co-worker and friend
A Simple Favour
A Simple Favour really surprised me with it’s plot. The trailer gave me some ideas as to what the film would entail but I was truly surprised. The film follows mummy vlogger Stephanie played by Anna Kendrick becoming friends with Emily, a fellow mum at her son’s school. They drink martinis together and tell secrets. Emily is a very mysterious person and never reveals anything about her past. She also disappears for a while with no explanation. Even her husband Sean and son Nicky don’t know her secrets. She is always impeccably dressed in suits and works in the city as a PR manager.
After Emily goes missing, Stephanie tries to find her. I don’t want to say much more as it would spoil the film but what happened next was shocking and unexpected.
Anna Kendrick was amazing as always and excelled in a darker role. Her humorous tone and attitude really worked well with her character. Blake Lively was also very different and surprised me with her performance. Her whole body changed into her character, every movement or look was carefully executed. Her outfits and the decor of Emily and Sean’s house added to the rich glamour of their world.
I give A Simple Favour 5/5.
Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) as Stephanie
Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) as Emily
Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as Sean
Ian Ho (Willa) as Nicky
Joshua Satine (Godless) as Miles, Stephanie’s son
Other films I have seen recently that I would recommend are Faces Places (2018), Fight Club (1999) and Superbad (2007).
I know that this is my first post in over a month but due to going back to university, I haven’t been to the cinema that much. A couple of weeks ago, I did however see the highly anticipated anti-hero film Venom and the third instalment of the Johnny English films. I remember seeing the second one in the cinema when I was 12 so I thought it would only be right to see this one in the cinema too.
This new anti-hero film has changed the game for the superhero genre. Eddie Brock a journalist whose life goes downhill after investigating a laboratory trying to harness the power of symbiotes. He accidentally joins with an alien called Venom and gains immense skills and strength.
Set in San Francisco made a refreshing change from the Avengers setting of New York. The humanisation of Venom talking through Eddie adds a comedy element to the film. Tom Hardy plays the ‘bad boy’ character very well as was evident in Legend (2015) but his resistance to Venom killing and hurting people shows that Eddie does have heart. He also tries working with Venom instead of rejecting him completely.
Many critics wrote off the film but as a fan of Marvel and comic book films, I really enjoyed it. It had the right amount of action, comedy, special effects, rebellion against evil corporations and romance. As the superhero genre had really taken off in the past few years, perhaps critics are getting annoyed at reviewing films that won’t win any high profile awards.
I liked the romance between Eddie and Anne, it added a softness to a pretty intense film. When she leaves Eddie, it truly breaks his heart and is motive for his revenge on Carlton Drake’s empire.
Overall I think this film is great for any Tom Hardy or superhero movie fans but not one to watch if you like something clever. 4/5.
Tom Hardy (Inception) as Eddie Brock / Venom
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine) as Anne Weying
Riz Ahmed (Rogue One) as Carlton Drake / Riot
Scott Haze (Child of God) as Security Chief Roland Treece
Jenny Slate (Zootropolis) as Dr. Dora Skirth
Peggy Lu (Awkward) as Mrs Chen
Johnny English Strikes Again
The third instalment of the Johnny English trilogy picks up years later when Johnny has retired from the world of espionage to become a geography teacher. He however has not taught his students much geography. The film starts with Mr English teaching all his young students how to be a spy.
When all the identities of all the MI7 agents are revealed to the public, the Prime Minister reluctantly recruits English to investigate. Reunited with his sidekick Bough, English travels to the South of France to find the source of the hackers.
Meanwhile, tech genius Jason is proposing an update for the British Government’s systems but is actually the bad guy and is trying to disable the country’s internet.
Johnny English of course would not be complete without laugh out loud gags and scenarios. Some of the best ones in this film include English setting a French restaurant on fire attempting to cook prawns, dancing for a whole night non stop, using virtual reality and accidentally throwing someone off an open top bus and wearing a full knight’s armour.
Rowan Atkinson is hilarious as always and the addition of Emma Thompson as the Prime Minister means their scenes together are comedy gold.
Overall a great family film with a laugh a minute. Comedy films don’t really include much slapstick and visual gags anymore so a reminder of the old days is welcome with Johnny English.
Rowan Atkinson (Bean) as Johnny English
Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) as Ophelia
Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) as Prime Minister
Jake Lacy (Carol) as Jason
Ben Miller (Paddington 2) as Bough
Adam James (Doctor Foster) as Pegasus
Other films I have enjoyed recently are American Animals (2018) starring Evan Peters, Heathers (1989) starring Winona Ryder, The Social Network (2010) starring Jesse Eisenberg and BlacKkKlansman (2018) starring John David Washington.
Another blog post today, this time about films I have seen and enjoyed this summer on Netflix. All the films below are Netflix Originals as I have seen many other films on Netflix but too many to list here.
I think that this year Netflix has produced some great original and entertaining films (and TV shows) that I haven’t seen done before.
My favourites are:
Like Father (2018)
A truly original and heart warming film about a father and daughter, Like Father really moved me in a way I didn’t expect. The synopsis – a workaholic left at the altar spends her honeymoon cruise with her estranged father – really does not explain the emotions this film portrays. The back drop of New York and later the Caribbean cruise liner, Harmony of the Seas was a combination that not only worked but that I had never seen before. The cruise ship was epic and breathtaking and exuded luxury which makes the fact that Rachel is sharing the experience with her dad, not new husband all the more hilarious.
Harry and Rachel are put in a group of other honeymooners and that provides comic relief and advice. Seth Rogen makes an appearance as Rachel’s holiday rebound.
This film while being fun to watch also contains deeper messages about love and parenting. For any daughters who have absent or working away fathers, it will make them think about what’s important.
Directed by Lauren Miller Rogen (Seth Rogen’s wife) and starring Kristen Bell as Rachel and Kelsey Grammer as her father, this film definitely explored emotions deeper than I thought it would in a unique setting.
A particularly enjoyable scene was the game show where Rachel and Harry have to compete as though husband and wife.
I give Like Father 5/5.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
Based on bestselling novel by Jenny Han, this teen romance has quickly been dubbed a classic by many. I, for one, happen to agree wholeheartedly. It centres around teen Lara Jean who lives in her own fantasy land when it comes to love. She’s never had a boyfriend but plenty of crushes. When the secret love letters she writes to them are posted by her younger sister Kitty, Lara Jean’s fantasies start coming true. Lara Jean begins a fake relationship with Peter Kavinsky, her 5th grade crush, because that always goes well.
A reason why this film is so widely loved and appreciated is down to a few key reasons. One is that Lara Jean and her sisters are Asian-American. Many mixed race girls have never seen themselves as a main character represented so well in film or otherwise. The Coveys’ heritage is never sidelined with their American father attempting Korean food and the sisters’ love for Yakult, it is never exposed for stereotypes or even explicitly mentioned. It is visually shown with a few references. Another reason is Peter’s respect for Lara Jean. He never makes fun of her for being inexperienced, he loves listening to her and helps her gently move out of her comfort zone. When Kitty tells him, ‘call me Katherine’ he is patient until she learns to like him. He also quickly earns the respect of Dr. Covey something which others find hard to do.
Kitty Covey is another well thought out character. Though she is only 11, she knows that as a woman she shouldn’t be talked down to or dismissed. She even talks back to her dad and is always seen wearing a necklace saying ‘Feminist’. She makes fun of her sisters’ but also helps them find romance.
The film truly depicts how stepping out of your shell can result in finding what you’ve been looking for and shows many people that being shy doesn’t mean you can’t get the guy.
Directed and written by women, Susan Johnson, Sofia Alvarez and Jenny Han (author of the book) really shines through in the script and the male characters are written just as well as the female ones.
Starring the brilliant Lana Condor (X-Men Apocalypse) as Lara Jean, Noah Centineo (The Fosters) as Peter, Janel Parrish (Pretty Little Liars) as Margot, Anna Cathcart (Desendants 2) as Kitty and John Corbett (Sex in the City) as Dr. Covey.
This film really does make you believe in love so therefore I give To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 5/5.
Father of the Year (2018)
I wasn’t expecting to like Father of the Year and almost dismissed it as another bad comedy but I surprised myself by enjoying it. The synopsis definitely doesn’t do the film justice – a drunken debate between two college graduates about whose father would win in a fight – really is very wrong. One, the two college graduates are childhood friends who went to college together and have one last summer before going to New York. The debate was not drunken but a funny dinner discussion at one boy’s house with his father present.
The film for me shows a father dismissed by his son as being a wasted, unemployed slob, desperately trying to have one last summer before his son begins his adult life.
While Ben’s father, Wayne is all of the above, he is also genuinely caring which can be hard to find in a parent. Ben’s mother seemingly left Wayne to go travelling and have an ambitious career and is only briefly mentioned in the film.
Larry’s father however is a scientist but is pushed around by his 8 year old stepson, Aiden and wife to a point of the viewer feeling frustrated at why he can’t have a backbone. He also does care for his eldest son and tries to be a good father. He never resents Aiden for treating him so appallingly and and can barely tell him off.
While both fathers do end up fighting and causing trouble for Ben, this is only a small part of the film. Ben meets a girl, Meredith, his first real relationship while Larry searches for his purpose in life.
Although the slapstick comedy made me laugh out loud, the feelings and emotions between father and son also made me love for the characters and their misfortunes.
Starring David Spade (Joe Dirt) as Wayne, Nat Faxon (the Desendants – Writer – Won Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award) as Larry’s father, Mardy; Joey Bragg (Liv and Maddie) as Ben, Matt Shively (Power Rangers) as Larry and Bridgit Mendler ( Good Luck Charlie) as Meredith.
I give Father of the Year 4/5.
A real coming age story of four friends about to graduate high school, where they call their teachers by their first name, dealing with love and loss whilst smoking weed.
The four friends, Lily, Chloe, Amelia and Rebecca attend a progressive school unlike any shown in American media. Chloe is dealing with the loss of her older brother, Thomas while Lily as his girlfriend also grieves. Rebecca deals with not being as rich as her friends and her crush on a teacher and Amelia is stuck mediating her divorcing parents. Although three of the girls are wealthy, the film shows that money can’t buy friendship or happiness.
I liked the film for it’s honesty about grief and friendship and that girls can be stoners too. It shows how grief for a brother and a boyfriend often feel the same but can be different.
Featuring an all star cast of Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars), Kathryn Prescott (Skins), Alexandra Shipp (Love, Simon), Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8), Alex Wolff (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Austin Butler (Aliens in the Attic).
Set It Up (2018)
This more traditional rom com between two adults in New York is original but features a troupe I’ve seen before. Two people who hate each other slowly become friends and fall in love. This particular setting though was very original.
Two assistants hatch a plan to create a romance between their two demanding bosses to give themselves more free time. With the romantic setting of New York City, love was bound to happen.
The comedy comes from Harper and Charlie both faking gifts and date ideas from each boss that they should clearly use in their own lives. Harper wants the free time to find a suitable boyfriend and finally write an article for the website her boss runs and Charlie wants more time for his girlfriend.
Of course they eventually find they want more time for each other.
Harper is refreshingly a huge sports fan and sees her favorite team, the Mets whenever they have a game.
The film shows that it isn’t bad to have ambition and love could be right under your nose when you least expect it.
Starring Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall) as Harper, Glen Powell (Hidden Figures) as Charlie, Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels) as Kirsten, Taye Diggs (Chicago) as Rick and Pete Davidson (Saturday Night Live) as Charlie’s roommate, Duncan.
I give Set It Up 5/5.
The Kissing Booth (2018)
The first of my recommendations that I saw this summer and the first one I really loved.
Elle Evans who has had the same best friend, Lee Flynn since she can remember has the smart idea to run a kissing booth at her school fair. Over the summer she has matured and now catches the eye of some male students.
After promising the appearance of Lee’s gorgeous older brother, Noah at the booth, she is surprised when he turns up and kisses her. They then embark on a secret relationship as she has a pact with Lee to never date his brother.
Elle is the kind of sweet and loveable character that always ends up making a fool of herself despite trying her best. She attempts to keep everyone happy but can’t help following her heart.
Also based on the best selling novel by Beth Reekles.
Starring the incredible Joey King (White House Down) as Elle, Joel Courtney (Super 8) as Lee, Jacob Elordi (Pirates of the Caribbean) as Noah and Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles) as Mrs Flynn.
I give The Kissing Booth 5/5.
If you have any Netflix Originals that you have enjoyed this summer, please leave your recommendations below.
This is another post by A.L. Fox, my talented guest writer. This time she has written about three different cinemas in two different countries she has visited this summer.
There’s more to the cinema experience than simply absorbing the themes and colours that stimulate the senses from the screen, and hopefully stir our emotions – in a good way. Many of us still visit the cinema to watch a film even though we can generally view most films from the comfort of our own homes.
So why do we continue to go out to see a film?
Often, it is to be sociable and share an experience with friends or a loved one or sometimes, that we want to be the first to see a new blockbuster release or, on occasion, to be challenged by new worlds and ways of seeing. There are many demands on our leisure time these days, and we have screens wherever we go, whether it’s a phone, a tablet, or a laptop but we still go to the cinema. In this century, around 150 million people still visit the cinema every year in the UK. Of course, this is a considerable drop from the 1.5 billion that went in the heyday of the Second World War. But now there are so many different ways of watching a film.
With so much competition for our eyes, cinemas have become much more than just a screen; they are places where you can eat, play video games – and eat mountains of popcorn. Most are multiplexes offering 3D and a very different experience from the cinemas of old. Now you book online, choose a seat, collect your ticket from a machine and don’t have to speak to anyone. It’s not quite the same everywhere in the world, though.
America is the home of cinema and there will probably be as many different cinemas as there are States but going to the cinema in New York is like stepping back in time. We were in the Big Apple when Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again opened so, naturally, we had to go. Bizarrely, the weather wasn’t as hot as we’d been led to believe; it rained and so that was another factor in our decision. The AMC chain is the biggest US cinema chain but the one on W 34th St felt as though it remained untouched since it opened in the 50s. First, we had to get to the 4th floor; there were the usual food stalls – and popcorn but also, gambling machines. We bought our tickets, and chose a seat; on the screen there were gaps between the seats – and, in the cinema, the seats were in pairs with a large table – for the food, between them. Sitting down, there was another surprise for there were acres of room between the rows. People were able to walk without asking others to move. Unsurprisingly, people didn’t stop eating throughout the film and American audiences aren’t exactly quiet; they do like to voice their opinions, or add their viewpoint to the action.
AMC Cinema on W 34th St, New York City, USA
For the record, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again was enjoyable – the beginning was a little flat but once the cast hit their stride about 30 minutes in, it became more like the first film – and that’s exactly what audiences were expecting. The film delivered but it wasn’t quite a match for the original. Now that sounds like a criticism, but it’s not meant as one. It is simply that the first film was so iconic. A special appearance by Cher was successfully woven into the plot and she provided enough glitz to offset the absence of Meryl Streep, although there were some scenes featuring Streep, so she wasn’t entirely missing.
Most of the other main characters from the first film had major roles in this one with the addition of a young Donna (Lily James) and her Dynamos (Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn) plus younger versions of Sophie’s three dads (Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner).
Now, talking of original – the Regal, the second cinema we visited in New York, on W 42nd St was definitely like stepping into the 50s again. Here, the seats were black leather armchairs that extended to support your feet, almost to the point of becoming a bed. The carpets had the letter of the rows woven into it and the decor hadn’t been touched for decades. Here, we saw Incredibles 2; a film that had been on general release for some weeks so it wasn’t busy. We did get the noise of audience participation once again, and it was loud – the sound turned up to echo over the comments.
Regal Cinema W 42nd St, New York City, USA
As for the film itself, it was definitely worth watching. It had all the impact and colour of the first film with an updated plot to reflect changes in society. This time, it was Elastigirl or Helen Parr’s time in the spotlight. She went to save the world while Mr Incredible became a stay-at-home dad. As ever, the action was fast-paced and attention-grabbing for both children and adults. The animation was brilliant and shows that Disney Pixar is not just for kids.
Both experiences were good; if you get the chance to visit either of these cinemas then take it; a different experience but a good contrast and it makes you appreciate the relative quiet of British audiences – unless, you’re unfortunate enough to sit next to the person who never stops eating. There are people who believe calories consumed in the dark don’t count as they munch continuously for the length of the film and that can be a big distraction but then, it’s all part of the cinema experience.
And what’s still part of the cinema experience in Turkey is – the intermission. Yes, they have a break in the middle of the film! We were watching Mission Impossible – Fallout 3D – and, at a particularly tense moment in the action, the screen went dark. An electrical fault? No, it was an interval. People went out and returned with more food, it may even have been a break for the smokers but it was only one hour into the film and it did break the flow.
The MI films are all fast-paced with plenty of action; there are no slow sections where a break could be achieved without interrupting this flow so it did spoil the experience – for me, at least. We didn’t mind the subtitles – some Hollywood films are dubbed but most are shown in English – but that break did upset the concentration. However, even though this is the sixth film in the franchise, it still captured the hearts and minds of the audience with a good story, death-defying stunts and enough dialogue to explain the plot points. Tom Cruise playing the lead Ethan Hunt was brilliant as always and supported by a sterling cast featuring Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin.
Three films, three different experiences; if you do get the opportunity to visit the cinema in another country then go – it may even make you appreciate what you have at home. As for costs, in the US we paid about £10/£12 for each ticket and in Turkey, we paid a bit less but, in terms of comparable costs relative to the country, tickets are much the same price.
Having finally seen Ocean’s Eight at the cinema a couple of months ago, I thought I would give my opinion on why the film is important in terms of female empowerment. The film, a continuation of the Ocean’s 11 trilogy starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, is not just a heist film about eight women stealing a necklace, it’s a change in the right direction for female filmmakers.
Even though the film was directed by a man, Gary Ross, writer, producer and director; it is the cast and plot of the film that has shown women on top for once.
The eight talented and diverse leads from the music and acting world were not just picked randomly, as a unit they gelled together to create a believable and enjoyable chemistry.
I loved the setting of the film, at the MET Gala, one of the most prestigious events in the world. It played to the character’s strengths and interests: Mindy Kaling’s character is a jewellery maker, Sarah Paulson takes a job at Vogue, Anne Hathaway is a vain but devious celebrity. Some male critics dismissed the setting as a ‘typical female subject’. I however disagree with this.
The setting of the MET Gala as the most exclusive invitation in America makes the stakes for the heist that much higher. Just robbing the vault where the necklace was kept wouldn’t be as exciting or dangerous as actually carrying out the heist at the gala with cameras and security covering every inch of the place.
In most male-led heist films they would not consider robbing a necklace and certainly not by taking a job at a magazine or catering the event. This is where women find their individuality and what makes the film plot interesting.
There are some very influential and key male characters in the film such as Claude Becker, Debbie Ocean’s ex-boyfriend who becomes an important person in the heist as he is taken to the gala as Daphne Kluger’s date and is manipulated for revenge by Debbie.
A satisfying ending to the film reveals the eight never being caught but letting the insurance agent trying to hunt down the stolen necklace only have 10%. Lou also reveals all the other jewellery she managed to lift so the participants all get $30 million – twice the agreed upon amount.
This film showed me that women can still wear dresses, take typically feminine jobs, steal a necklace but can also be clever, not get caught and make a great entertaining movie.
Some personal highlights of the film for me were Debbie Ocean managing to get herself a free hotel room at the beginning, the recruitment of Daphne to the plan, the ‘job within a job’ at the gala, framing Claude Becker and the four retired actresses at the end auctioning off parts of the necklace as bracelets and brooches.
Directed by Gary Ross
Screenplay by Gary Ross & Olivia Milch
Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean (the leader and the woman who thought up the heist whilst in prison)
Cate Blanchett as Lou (Debbie’s best friend with catering skills and an authoritative persona)
Helena Bonham Carter as Rose Weil (a timid fashion designer struggling with debt)
Mindy Kaling as Amita (a jewellery designer, looking for a boyfriend and still living with her mother)
Rihanna as Nine Ball (a hacker who can crack any puzzle)
Awkwafina as Constance ( a pickpocket who can take anything from anyone)
Sarah Paulson as Tammy (a housewife with kids, running a secret buy and sell operation and an old friend of Debbie’s)
Anne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger (one of the most famous actresses in the world, looking for her MET Ball dress designer and who is vain but also deceitful)
Richard Armitage as Claude Becker (an arrogant gallery owner who is an ex-boyfriend of Debbie’s and Daphne’s new beau)
James Corden as John Frazier (the insurance agent trying to hunt down the stolen necklace who managed to catch members of Debbie’s family on several occasions)
There were also many celebrity cameos at the MET Gala such as:
Overall I think this film is very entertaining for both men and women and the empowering messages for women only enhance the story.
I give Ocean’s Eight 5/5.
Sorry for not posting in almost two months. I have been on holiday in places with no WiFi and I also haven’t had the time to write a good piece. Hopefully will be doing a few more this month to make up for the lack of pieces in July.