Another post so soon? What a shock. I have been travelling a lot recently so haven’t gone to the cinema too much until a week or so ago but now I have the whole summer to watch and review.
In this post I am talking about the new season/series of Stranger Things!
Thought about posting this earlier but wanted to make sure I didn’t spoil the series for any one not as fast at bingeing as me. So if you haven’t seen all of Stranger Things 3 or are planning to watch it in the future, look away now!
The latest series had a different vibe to the previous: the kids are growing up; they’ve lost people; the stakes are becoming higher and the monsters harder to conquer.
The addition of the Starcourt Mall to Hawkins, Indiana was a great plot idea as it created the location for many of the adventures, shopping trips and final showdowns. Steve and Robin work at Scoops Ahoy for the summer, the group sneak into the cinema and Russians are building something underneath.
I think that the dynamics between all the different characters were very well balanced. There are more characters than ever this series with new additions of Robin, Alexei, Tom, Larry and Heather. The main cast are split into four gangs, if you will. There is Scoops Troop consisting of Steve, Robin, Dustin and Erica, Lucas’ younger sister who has a much bigger role in series 3. Their adventure below the Starcourt Mall trying to defeat Russians and become American heroes takes them away from the main action of the Mind Flayer and the Flayed.
Eleven has grown into her new home and place within the group, bonding with Max and having a summer of love with Mike. The kids group consists of Max, Lucas, Will, Mike and Eleven. They are soon joined by Jonathan and Nancy who get up to some investigating of their own involving rats and fertiliser.
Another character off on their own adventure is Billy, Max’s older step-brother and eye-candy of the community pool. Again his role has been expanded this series. Last series, Billy was an enemy, Steve’s school rival and Max’ gate keeper. This series there is so much more to his story. Also stemming from the last series is the relationship that Billy has built up with Karen, Nancy and Mike’s mother. Billy suggests they meet in motel for some private ‘swimming lessons’ and I bet Karen is glad she didn’t go through with it after Billy’s arc this series. Billy recruits Heather into his evil plots but he isn’t himself. The Mind Flayer is back and has taken over Billy’s mind.
Our last group of Stranger Things characters are Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper, Will’s mother and Eleven’s adoptive father, Jopper. They team up to investigate mysterious goings on with a loss of magnetism in the town. Joyce also goes to Mr Clarke for help, the kid’s science teacher. They then kidnap Alexei and hold him hostage from a man who could be described as the Russian Terminator. They find Murray as he is the only Russian speaker for miles around.
It was really interesting to split up the characters into new and old gangs to work out what monsters are plaguing Hawkins and I think when they eventually all teamed up together which I was hoping for, they all gelled well with one another.
The setting and 80s culture played a big part in this series as always. The fashion of crazy prints, short shorts and block colours was great to explore and as this series is set around 4th July, the Duffer Brothers could explore what a summer in Hawkins looks like. Particular stand out outfits to me were Eleven’s. Max takes her shopping to the mall and they go to The Gap to get her a new look after she dumped Mike. The clash of patterns and bright colours were great for Eleven and showed some of her quirky personality.
Other 80s culture I loved was the films that were referenced. With the new multiplex cinema in Starcourt, the characters had many chances to go the cinema. At the beginning of the series, the group sneak into a showing of Day of the Dead and when Steve and Robin have been drugged by the Russians, on their escape Dustin and Erica try to get them to hide out in a screening of Back to the Future. Other films on the marquee at the front of the cinema are Fletch, D.A.R.Y.L., The Stuff and Return to Oz.
Other pop culture items mentioned are Ralph Macchio: Max’s apparent celebrity crush which prompts Lucas to wear a Karate Kid t-shirt; The Neverending Story theme tune: a duet between Dustin and his camp girlfriend, Suzie over radio; Cheers, a popular US TV show that Joyce and Hopper both watch and the New Coke that only Lucas likes.
The monsters were bigger and gorier than before with the Mind Flayer possessing Billy then getting him to kidnap others for the army. In the end almost thirty people end up as Mind Flayer goop. The monster that grows larger, the more it absorbs people is the most gruesome so far and hardest to destroy. Jonathan and Nancy in the hospital certainly try their hardest but don’t succeed. Of course it takes team work, powers and sheer cleverness to defeat the monsters… and the evil Russians.
The series was kept with Stranger Things’ theme and tone and made a brilliant new season. I cannot wait to see what they have in store next year.
Films I’ve enjoyed recently are Chasing Happiness, Legend, Starter for 10, Rough Night and Wildlife.
Last Saturday I went to the cinema to see the film Yesterday. This has been a long standing arrangement with my friends for the last 365 days. That is because we were extras in the film when the cast and crew filmed at Gorleston Beach for the day. Gorleston is where I have spent much of my childhood and is only a short drive from our home town.
The film itself was a delight. Watching it felt like a warm hug on a winter’s day or a bar of chocolate after a rough day at school. I think that it will become an instant classic as so many of Richard Curtis’ and Danny Boyle’s films have already. There was a real feel good vibe about the story. I felt attached to the film because of my extra experience and that the character was from a part of the world I knew very well. However, I think it is enjoyable no matter your own experiences or where in the world you hail from.
I will start by reviewing the film itself then move on to the day of filming.
Yesterday tells the story of Jack, a struggling musician from Suffolk. He continuously tries to break into the music scene by gigging in local pubs and at one point a festival but with no luck. In a freak storm that causes a worldwide blackout and an unfortunate yet hilarious injury for Jack, his life changes. The world can no longer remember the chart topping, legendary band, The Beatles. As a guitar player and singer, they are some of Jack’s idols but now no one else in the world knows who they are.
Jack sees this opportunity to reinvent his musical persona after hearing amazing feedback from his friends and manager/friend Ellie. He starts by recording some of the songs and his success spreads very quickly with the help of Ed Sheeran. He becomes a worldwide sensation but starts to loose focus of what matters, his friends and possible romance with Ellie.
I am a huge fan of The Beatles so would definitely be seeing this film even if I hadn’t been an extra. I was worried at first that Jack would be trying to pass off the music as his own without any moral dilemmas but throughout the film, Jack is constantly unsure if he is doing the right thing and fears being caught out. He only does it to show the world the incredible music they have all forgotten. He just wants the world to know the power of the Beatles.
My friend Will who was also an extra enjoyed the film and it made him more excited to see it having been in the film.
My experience as a film extra
The day itself was a really great atmosphere and a fun day out. I heard about the experience from a friend and rallied together a group to drive to the beach. I am not sure why but I wasn’t expecting the beach to be that busy. Probably because I hadn’t seen the event advertised on social media or heard about it from anyone else.
When we got there, I was shocked to see hordes of people at the car park, waiting to get the bus to the beach. The crowd was about 6,000 people, the largest gathering of extras in the UK. The experience was free but we still had to get tickets and waiting in line to get them checked took a while but we all got the the beach. There was a field full of Porta Loos and food stands as we all had a free burger and ice cream for taking part.
We were quite near the back as we did not arrive at the crack of dawn and because some of the party got lost on the way. We still had a great view of the Pier Hotel, where the main action was. Having Danny Boyle, a world famous director interact with the crowd and tell us what to do was an amazing experience. I could see lots of cameras on the stage and a band all set up; there was another big camera near us and a helicopter that flew over head.
Filming that day really made me appreciate how much effort goes into such a small scene. It took basically 6 hours to get the shots and we did probably 8 or 9 takes of jumping up and down for a song. It must have taken a lot of coordination. I couldn’t really tell what the song was as it was a more rocky version but after watching the film, Jack is upset while playing it so the song comes out very angry. The scene that took a whole day to shoot, was probably two or three minutes in the film.
Another friend who was there on the day said that it “felt cool to be part of an actual film and see the director”.
The only downside of the experience was the sunburn that I came home with.
Other films I have enjoyed at the cinema recently are: Rocketman, Toy Story 4, Men in Black International and Spiderman: Far from Home.
It’s been a while since I have done a post, just over six weeks but with university ending for this year and England suddenly becoming a warm country I haven’t found the time. I then saw a great film last night that I knew would make a great review. Long Shot starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen is a romantic comedy but one I had not seen before with the woman more powerful than her love interest. The way of Hollywood and other film industries is that the woman will have a job as a secretary/bakery owner/journalist/teacher or something else. These jobs are, of course all valid and necessary but her male love interest will be a banker/CEO/policeman/her boss or someone with more authority and power. In Long Shot, the roles are flipped.
Charlize Theron plays Charlotte Field, the Secretary of State of the United States. She has all the power, a team of advisers and not much down time. Her love interest, Fred Flarsky, played by Seth Rogen is a junkie journalist who is forced to quit his job and dresses like he’s going to a 90s rave. Charlotte holds all the power between the two and it is her career on the line throughout the film.
Although of course, this is still the real world and the United States of America so even though Charlotte is successful, she is still treated as unequal to the male politicians in the film. She is talks about being asked what her skincare routine is, what designer she is wearing or being treated as just a pretty face. She has to work twice as hard as the men just to be taken seriously as a politician.
The film showed me that women in positions of power often have to fight harder for longer to gain the respect that men seem to gain more easily. The President of the United States in the film played by Bob Odenkirk and is a TV star who previously played the president on a TV show then decided to run for office. I thought that was a fun twist and The President decides he won’t be running for a second term to get into movie acting which he sees as more ambitious then being POTUS.
The main story of the film is that Fred leaves his job then goes to a benefit with his successful friend, Lance, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr. They run into Charlotte who used to be Fred’s babysitter when he was a teenager. Charlotte decides that to up her humour points, she has to hire Fred to write her speeches. The two go on a tour promoting Charlotte’s ‘bees, trees and seas’ environmental plan that she has been passionate about since she was 16.
While touring around the world, Fred and Charlotte reconnect and get to know each other better. Fred helps Charlotte to relax more and develop interests outside of her job. As this is a Seth Rogen film, he off course smokes weed and one hilarious scene involves Charlotte and Fred going clubbing in Paris after having taken drugs. Charlotte then has to deal with a hostage situation whilst still high.
The villain of the film, Parker Wembley played by Andy Serkis in some prosthetics, runs Wembley News that makes ridiculous claims and tries to discredit Charlotte. He continues trying to get a meeting with her after she persistently turns him down. It is his actions that almost ruin Charlotte’s career.
This film is laugh out loud funny which was not compromised despite the politics and feminism woven throughout the plot. There were no politically incorrect jokes or degrading comments made about women that were not self-aware or seen as bad within the film.
My friend Terry who I went to see the film with said that she liked the way that Charlotte “manages to achieve her goals without compromising her beliefs and still get the guy.” Terry also said that Charlotte “felt really real to me. She felt like a real person. You don’t often feel that in rom coms, especially with the female characters.” I agree with Terry and I think that a big part of the reason we both liked the film was that Charlotte was a smart successful woman but she could still be vulnerable and she still had feelings and hurdles to overcome in the film with her romantic life and her job.
I loved this film and Seth and Charlize had great chemistry that helped make their relationship seem believable. If you like rom coms but are tired of the man always being in power and the woman shown as weak, sexualised, ditsy or nerdy then this is the film for you. It is a 15 and there are some raunchy scenes but nothing too intense, it is a rom com after all.
P.S. Other films I have enjoyed since last writing a blog post are Shazam!, Dumbo, Avengers: Endgame, Wild Rose, Wine Country, Ideal Home, Dog Days, The Perfect Date and The Last Summer.
TV series I have loved watching since my last post are The Society, Dead To Me, Now Apocalypse, Timeless, Z Nation, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Durrells, Special and On My Block.
I will discussing films that I have seen last month with strong and inspiring female characters. In the past, actresses were there just to be rescued or as someone for the actor to talk to or monologue to. Almost like a plot device. There have been many films featuring women and I feel like society’s attitudes towards women has become more accepting and inclusive. We are getting biopics about amazing women such as the female NASA mathematicians in Hidden Figures that helped put a man in space; Wonder Woman, the first superhero film that I have seen starring a woman; films about female musicians, Amy and Whitney; films remade with a female cast, Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 8, What Men Want, The Hustle. I will be looking at some film’s I have seen last month with a strong female lead.
On the Basis of Sex
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is famous for work toward gender equality and her position as Supreme Court Justice. This origin story shows how she progressed from Harvard Housewife to the woman she is today. Ruth was one of the first women to attend Harvard Law school and when her husband Marty was diagnosed with a serious illness she took his classes for him. She graduates but no law firms in New York will employ a female lawyer in 1959. She becomes a lecturer but when one case opens her eyes to the injustice towards a man then all women, she must take a stand. Felicity Jones was powerful as Ruth and even though small in stature, she had command and the authority that Ruth had and still has. The portrayal of Rut Bader Ginsburg really inspired me that even though she had been pushed aside, Ruth knew her place was to fight for equality. Her daughter also inspired her as she turned to feminist activism. This film is really one to watch, not just for Felicity Jones’ amazing outfits, inspiring performance but Ruth’s amazing life story.
The first female lead Marvel film was always going to be good but Brie Larson as Carol Danvers just took it to a place beyond anything I thought it could go. The main message running through was that even though Carol had gained Kree powers and could blast people, she was powerful and strong when she was human. Her determination and strength was shown in a beautiful montage of Carol being knocked down at various ages but then standing up stronger and braver than before. Brie Larson’s comedic timing was on point and I believed that she really didn’t have an memories before waking up in Hala, the Kree city. Maria, Carol’s best friend and fellow pilot was also a great female character. Despite being a single mother and black, she became an Air Force pilot. When Carol came back with no memory, she helped her remember her life and their adventures together. Her daughter, Monica who admired Carol as her role model was also a great female character. Definitely one to take young girls who need self-belief and the confidence to achieve their dreams.
A Private War
This film was very powerful and more shocking and sad than the previous two but Rosamund Pike as the war journalist, Marie Colvin was striking. Marie goes to war zone after war zone reporting on the most horrific things she can find and does it with a bravery that most people don’t have in them. A male journalist in her situation might retire after the trauma and danger she went through but she kept going even after having a stint in a rehabilitation facility due to her PTSD. In each war zone: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria, Marie felt compelled to share the horrors of war and what was happening to the civilians who had nothing to do with the conflict. Marie also struggles with her personal life, her husband leaves her, she drinks and smokes way way too much, she doesn’t leave enough time for friends and after losing an eye, she becomes depressed.
I loved this film for it’s honesty and showing what war is really like not for the soldiers or terrorists but for the people, the citizens. War really took a toll on Marie and her writing was so visual that she is regarded as one of the best journalists of her time. The ending shocked me as I didn’t know much of Marie’s story and I won’t spoil it here but throughout the film there is a countdown in years to Syria. Would be happy to watch this again.
The Princess Diaries
An older film than the others in this post but she a great film for women. Mia, a normal, socially awkward teenager is told that she is the heir to the Genovian throne, a fictional European country. She starts ‘Princess Lessons’ with her Grandmother, Clarisse, the Queen of Genovia. Mia realises that some people just want fame and not everyone will be as nice as her artistic supportive mum or best friend Lily. This film is full of laughs and I have seen it many a time. Mia is a role model to young girls everywhere as she chooses to use her position to change things in the world for the better. Her house is also really cool. I would encourage any woman, young, old or in-between to watch this uplifting female empowering film. The sequel is also worth a look.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Lee Israel’s motivations are relatable, she can’t sell her work and is living in a cockroach invested apartment in New York. Her actions are not well thought out as she starts forging letters from great literary figures like Dorothy Parker when her work as a celebrity biographer is no longer relevant. She starts selling her letters, claiming her cousin found them in his loft and then ropes in her friend and fellow writer, Jack Hock to help her pass off the letters as originals. It works until it doesn’t. Lee doesn’t have much luck in her personal life, her girlfriend left her and her new love interest at the book shop unravels when the letters are discovered as forged. The film itself is based on Lee’s book she wrote on the ordeal and why she did it. Melissa McCarthy as Lee was one of the best of her career and a real change from her usual comedy such as Bridesmaids, Tammy, Identity Thief and Life of the Party. This film showed Lee’s ingenuity and creativity when she had no other way of making money. Someone else may have accepted a job in a different field but Lee persevered in her chosen profession. A great film that showed the resilience of women.
Isn’t it Romantic
An anti-rom-com with Rebel Wilson in her first lead role that made fun of every troupe while simultaneously fulfilling them all. Rebel plays Natalie an architect who loves her job but wishes she did more than design parking garages and watch her friend Josh stare at the beautiful woman on the billboard outside her window. When Natalie bumps her head she ends up in a cliche rom-com with hot doctors, clean streets and handsome men falling in love with her. She doesn’t know how to leave but when Josh starts dating the woman from the billboard; yoga ambassador Isabella, Natalie thinks that breaking them up will get her out of this rosy, annoying world. This film was a feel-good romantic comedy while simultaneously making fun of all the cliches such as women fighting at work, Natalie’s friend/assistant, Whitney suddenly becomes her rival; random bursting into song; perfect flash mob dance sequences. Natalie realises at the end that to escape the ‘perfect’ world she needs to love herself not any man and I think that is a really female empowering message. I love Rebel Wilson in any role she does and this was no exception.
I Feel Pretty
Another film where a woman feels underappreciated then hits her head. This time Amy Schumer is Renee, an under-confident woman not happy with her size, her dating life or her dead end job in a basement in Chinatown working for Lilly Leclair as an IT specialist. After falling off a Soul Cycle bike and hitting her head, Renee wakes up believing that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. This gives her more confidence to pursue her dream job as a receptionist for Lilly Leclair, working in their Fifth Avenue office. Her friends who have always loved her are confused as it everyone else as Renee hasn’t changed at all, she just thinks she has. When Renee becomes close to Lilly Leclair head honcho, Avery Leclair, she starts leaving her friends and new boyfriend, Ethan behind. Being confident makes her self-centred and vain. I thought Amy Schumer was great in this role and the message that you are perfect just the way you are and can achieve your dreams with the right attitude and self-belief was really strong and moving for me.
20th Century Women
This film about 3 strong women raising a teenage boy in 1979 was a true to life look at what struggles women face such as teenage pregnancy, ovarian cancer, single motherhood, rebellious children. The atmosphere of the film and the women interacting with each other intellectually and taking Jamie under their wings while fighting stereotypes and discussing menstruation, sex and womanhood was one I haven’t seen in many films and made me feel seen as a woman. Setting the film in 1979 was important as periods and other female ‘issues’ were regarded as even more taboo at that time. The love that Dorothea felt for her son made you sad that he kept pushing her away but also you understood he just wanted to be free and live his life. A great story and look at life in California in the 1970s.
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).