Female Empowerment at its Finest: How Ocean’s Eight has brought changes to the androcentric industry

Hello readers,

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.

Sandra Bullock, Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, and Awkwafina in Ocean's Eight (2018)

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

Cast:

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:

Hailey Baldwin, Olivia Munn, Katie Holmes, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Serena Williams.

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.

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

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10 Years of Marvel: Infinity War Review and My Favourite Marvel Films

Hello readers,

I know Infinity War came out a while ago but as I want to do a post full of spoilers I was waiting until hopefully most people have seen it.

In this post, I’m going to talk about the last 10 years of Marvel and how I became a fan.

Infinity War

Image result for infinity war poster

This is the film that took 10 years and 18 films to make. The culmination of the Marvel story. I went to see the film on the opening night and really enjoyed it. Not only was it a great story full of twists and turns, it had shocking and funny parts as well. One minute, I was close to crying, the next laughing.

Some audiences and critics tend to dismiss comic book / superhero films but they are actually full of difficult themes: death, loss of loved ones, relationship struggles, betrayal, loss of identity, depression and of course, the villains.

Infinity War is essentially all the Marvel characters coming together to stop Thanos who is trying to collect all the Infinity Stones and destroy the universe. Sounds simple, but the interactions between The Avengers, Guardians and Doctor Strange add new dimensions to the story we haven’t seen before. Who knew Rocket and Thor would get along so well, or Shuri and Banner?

Tony Stark meeting Doctor Strange and Star Lord were some of my favourite moments along with Okoye, Black Widow and Scarlet Witch working together in the end battle.

The personal battle Banner had with the Hulk was a funny on going joke as was the conflict between Thor and Star-Lord.

The most shocking moments for me were Loki’s sudden death, Gamora being thrown off the cliff and Vision’s revival and second death by Thanos and of course when half of them disappeared.

My theory is that they are all in an alternate dimension and will all return safe and sound. I also hope that Gamora returns but I don’t have high hopes for Loki or Vision.

The cast is very long so I will just list the top 20 or so characters below:

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/ Iron Man
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk
  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America / Nomad
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Josh Brolin as Thanos
  • Don Cheadle as James Rhodes / Rhodey / War Machine
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange / Doctor Strange
  • Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther
  • Chris Pratt as Peter Quill / Star-Lord
  • Zoe Saldana as Gamora
  • Paul Bettany as Vision
  • Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  • Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
  • Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Karen Gillan as Nebula
  • Letitia Wright as Shuri
  • Danai Gurira as Okoye
  • Dave Bautista as Drax
  • Pom Klementieff as Mantis
  • Benedict Wong as Wong
  • Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket
  • Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot

I give Infinity War 5/5.

My Favourite Marvel Films

Here are my top Marvel films, a couple of them I have only seen a few times as they are quite new, such as Black Panther and Thor Ragnarok but the others I have seen about four or five times and I think they are all amazing films.

The first Marvel film I saw was Iron Man around age 13. I was in awe of Robert Downey Jr. and his character, Tony Stark. I immediately loved the film. The second one was even better. I then branched out into the Avengers, Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy. I eventually watched every Marvel film and since Captain America: Civil War I have seen every new film in the cinema. Before Marvel Studios, I had seen the original X-Men trilogy and loved those too.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2 (2010)

This film has many great things about it: Formula 1, War Machine, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell and of course, Robert Downey Jr. I think the plot is good to follow, shows how people can become villains at the hand of heroes and why mankind deserves saving. It is also a film I watch if I need cheering up or a good laugh.

The main cast are

  • Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
  • Don Cheadle as James Rhodes / Rhodey / War Machine
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman / Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer
  • Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
  • Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
  • Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
  • Paul Bettany as the voice of JARVIS

Overall I give Iron Man 2 5/5.

Captain America: Civil War

Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Bettany, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Many people said that this film feels like an Avengers film as most of the Avengers are featured but the core focus is on Captain America trying to protect his friend Bucky Barnes so I feel that it is right to call this a Captain America film.

I think the best lines go to Hawkeye in this one such as ‘I’ve been retired five minutes’ ; ‘I was gonna take the kids water skiing’.

Paul Rudd is also a stand out as Ant-Man especially when he meets Team Cap.

This film is more about politics than the Avengers films as were the other two Captain America films. The Government gets involved with detaining Bucky and wants the Avengers to sign the Accords to only ‘avenge’ when the UN says so.

The villain of the film, Helmut Zemo whose family were killed in Sokovia (in the last Avengers film in 2015) is trying to reactivate the Winter Soldier as revenge, an emotion we can all relate to.

The scene where it is revealed that Bucky as the Winter Soldier killed Tony’s parents was heart-breaking and the subsequent fight where Steve then gives up his shield feels very much like the end of the Avengers.

Peggy Carter’s funeral, an essential plot point, also struck a chord with me as a fan of the Agent Carter series and the first Captain America film.

In this film, we first meet Black Panther and Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU for short)

I like the drama and action scenes in this film with many amazing stunts and fights and also comic timing by Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Tom Holland, Anthony Mackie and the others.

The main cast for this film is similar to Infinity War but with a few missing:

  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
  • Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
  • Don Cheadle as James Rhodes / Rhodey / War Machine
  • Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye
  • Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther
  • Paul Bettany as Vision
  • Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  • Paul Rudd as Scott Lang /Ant-Man
  • Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter / Agent 13
  • Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo

I give Captain America: Civil War 5/5.

Black Panther

Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Isaach De Bankolé, Martin Freeman, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, and Letitia Wright in Black Panther (2018)

I have already talked in depth about this film over on my Cannes blog post last week but here I will mention some of my favourite parts.

The scene and car chase sequence in South Korea was amazing and also had some great lines, especially by Okoye and Shuri.

The introduction of Erik at the art gallery was clever and shone a light on racism.

The reveal that T’Chaka killed his own brother and left Erik in Oakland was very shocking and added a new dimension to the story.

Some favourite lines are ‘What are those!’ by Shuri; ‘If you say one more word I’ll feed you to my children… I’m kidding, we’re vegetarians’ by M’Baku; ‘Is this Wakanda?, No it’s Kansas’ by Shuri; ‘Guns… So primitive!’ by Okoye; ‘Does she speak English?’ ‘When she wants to’ by Okoye; ‘Nakia… hi’ ‘You froze’ by T’Challa and Okoye.

The cast are listed below:

  • Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther
  • Michael B. Jordan as Erik Stevens / Killmonger
  • Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia
  • Danai Gurira as Okoye
  • Letita Wright as Shuri
  • Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi
  • Winston Duke as M’Baku
  • Martin Freeman as Everett Ross
  • Angela Bassett as Ramonda
  • Forest Whitaker as Zuri
  • Sterling K. Brown as N’Jobu
  • Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue

I give Black Panther 5/5.

Thor: Ragnarok

Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Mark Ruffalo, Karl Urban, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The third in the Thor series, Thor: Ragnarok directed by Taika Waititi is one of the funniest Marvel films so far. There are so many little jokes paired with physical comedy and facial expressions from the cast that had me laughing out loud in the cinema. It is a refreshing new take on Thor and the comic book genre.

Chris Hemsworth who plays the protagonist Thor, stated that he was doubtful of doing a third Thor film until he read Waititi’s script. Thor was given a funny side, jokes were made by him and not just at his expense. The film still had a villain, Hela: Thor and Loki’s secret sister and darker themes such as betrayal, grief, depression, death but the comic timing and humour that Waititi injected into the film kept it light and entertaining for audiences.

Favourite parts of mine are Hulk and Thor’s interaction “Hulk like fire. Thor like water”; the ‘Get Help’ plan “A classic”, “I still hate it. It’s humiliating”, “Not for me, it’s not” and “This team of yours got a name?” “Yeah, it’s called the … uh… Revengers!”

Two hilarious characters that are new to the Marvel franchise in this film are the Grandmaster played brilliantly by Jeff Goldblum and Korg, a creature made out of rocks voiced by the director himself.

The surprise appearance of Doctor Strange as Thor and Loki look for Odin on Earth made a great scene.

The cast for Thor Ragnarok are:

  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Cate Blanchett as Hela
  • Mark Ruffalo as  Bruce Banner / Hulk
  • Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie
  • Idris Elba as Heimdall
  • Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster
  • Karl Urban as Skurge
  • Anthony Hopkins as Odin
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange / Doctor Strange
  • Taika Waititi as Korg (voice)
  • Rachel House as Topaz

I give Thor: Ragnarok 5/5.

The Avengers

The Avengers (2012)

The first group film, the Avengers remains one of my favourites even though the Marvel storyline has moved on significantly with Infinity War. The first outing of the six original Avengers contains key bonding moments between the six and Nick Fury. We also see the first major disaster on Earth that the Avengers fight as a team.

The actors and characters seem so young and innocent to me, the only thing they have to worry about is Loki and the Chitauri. However, Thanos is briefly introduced a plot point that won’t be answered for another six years.

This is also the introduction of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and Hulk: I think he does a great job and his character develops from a timid scientist to a fighter in Infinity War.

The Avengers don’t gel together right away, Iron Man and Thor’s fight at the beginning is one example as is Tony and Steve’s constant arguing. They do however come together to fight the enemy: the aliens.

Some of the best lines are “Have a care how you speak! Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard and he is my brother!” “He killed 80 people in two days” “He’s adopted”

“What’s the stat, Rogers?” “It seems to be powered by some sort of electricity!” “…well, you’re not wrong”

“This is just like Budapest all over again” “You and I remember Budapest very differently”

Essentially this is first film we see the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes working together as a team and trusting each other.

The main cast are:

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
  • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
  • Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill
  • Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
  • Paul Bettany as Jarvis (voice)

I give the Avengers 4/5.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

To many people this is one of the best Marvel films to date. It has a different tone to the other films. Captain America becomes a fugitive and is on the run from SHIELD, the organisation that helped him find his feet in the 21st century. He works with fellow Avenger, Natasha Romanoff and new recruit, Sam Wilson to defeat the Winter Soldier and Hydra who have infiltrated SHIELD. The film has a strong undercover spy thriller vibe which is unique to other Marvel movies.

The introduction of Sam Wilson helps show Steve Rogers as a leader, Sam follows Steve on every command and it shows how experienced Steve and Natasha really are.

They also uncover an enemy Steve fought 70 years ago and foes who they thought were on their side. Overall a very entertaining film.

Some of the best lines include “41st floor! 41st!” “It’s not like they put the floor numbers on the outside of the building”

“It was not my first kiss since 1945. I’m 95; I’m not dead”

“Where did Captain America learn to steal a car?” “Nazi Germany. And we’re borrowing. Get your feet off the dash”

The excellent cast for this film are:

  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
  • Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
  • Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
  • Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce
  • Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes / the Winter Soldier
  • Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill
  • Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow
  • Maximilano Hernández as Jasper Sitwell
  • Emily VanCamp as Kate / Agent 13
  • Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter

I give Captain America: The Winter Soldier 5/5.

Thanks for reading and here’s to another 10 years of Marvel!

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

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Guest Writer: It’s All About the Plot – Dramas by Women to Watch this Summer

Hello readers,

This post is written by a guest writer – A. L. Fox. This woman is a professional writer, having written articles for newspapers and magazines but here is her first blog post. She writes about films and TV shows that she watched recently and wants to recommend to you.

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

It’s All About the Plot – Dramas by Women to Watch this Summer by A.L. Fox

What makes a good film? Simple question but there is no simple answer. Critics and the viewing public often disagree as box office figures often illustrate. One recent example is that of the latest blockbuster in the Star Wars franchise, Solo. It was given a warm reception by most film critics and yet, it has had poor box office returns.

However, back to the question about what constitutes a good film – and, in my definition, that means a film that I have enjoyed watching – and one that I don’t wish back the hours spent in its’ company.

For me, plot is everything – tell a good story and you’re definitely on to a winner; dialogue comes next closely followed by good acting – and good casting. If the actors aren’t right for the characters whom they are portraying (wrong age, wrong ethnicity, wrong dynamics and so on) then no matter how good their acting skills, they won’t be convincing and the film will feel contrived. You could argue that all films operate at this level but there has to be some ring of authenticity to connect with the audience. On reflection, perhaps casting needs to lead the field. Nina Gold, casting director of well-earned repute, with Games of Thrones and The Crown, just two of her long list of credits, would probably agree.

There are so many films out there; so much choice that hours can be wasted just choosing one to actually watch. Sometimes the blurb helps, sometimes it doesn’t. Here are two of my random selections from Netflix:

Maggie’s Plan (2015)

Maggie's Plan (2015)
Directed by Rebecca Miller

Stars: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore.

Reading the blurb on Netflix and the ‘rom com’ categorisation, almost had me swiping right. But the quality of the cast led me to press select and I urge you to do the same. This was a sensitive portrayal of relationships and conflict and a very touching reflection of the dynamics within those relationships. Maggie wants to have a baby but she’s not in a relationship and decides to use a donor. But she meets John, who has distanced himself from his marriage to a much more successful college professor, Georgette. John doesn’t work – he is writing a book and Maggie is flattered that he has asked her to proofread his manuscript. Their relationship develops as Maggie finds herself pregnant and they marry.

However, Maggie then finds that John continues his self-absorbed life and she becomes the main breadwinner and carer, often looking after John’s children from his first marriage. Seeking to regain her independence, she seeks to reunite John with Georgette realising that they still love each other and that they are similar personalities.

There’s a wonderful plot suggestion at the very end of the film that completes the heartwarming tale.

Their Finest (2016)

Bill Nighy, Gemma Arterton, and Sam Claflin in Their Finest (2016)

 

Directed by Lone Scherfig

Stars: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy.

This was categorised as drama and it provided plenty of that along with a slice of war history that is not as familiar as the bombs and battlefields of WWII. Catrin leaves her Welsh home to live with a man in London but he soon leaves her for another and to support herself, she works as a secretary and then as a scriptwriter for the film division of the government, making propaganda reels to keep up the country’s morale.

Her struggles for recognition as a woman scriptwriter are documented without becoming too sentimental or political but it does highlight the difficulties of being accepted as a professional working woman in that era. There is a love interest who, although set against her joining the division at first to the extent of undermining her contribution, eventually falls in love with her. The ending isn’t as expected but this elevates the film from descending into the realm of fantasy. A good watch with some interesting historical detail and a good plot.

The Split (2018)

That word again – plot. The television series that has caught my attention – and kept it – is The Split, from the pen of Abi Morgan. The story centres on the travails of a family of divorce lawyers, the Defoes, mother and two sisters who are lawyers and another sister who works as an au pair, thrown into turmoil by the return of the father after a thirty year absence. He ran off to America when the children were small – with their nanny. There is plenty of drama with everyone’s relationship falling into the spotlight in turn; it’s all there, from hidden children to hidden secrets, from the twists and turns of divorce battles to betrayals. It depicts love in all its’ forms and manages to retain a freshness and dynamic that keeps you interested. With Nicola Walker heading a fine list of actors (Anthony Head is the father), the occasional misstep could be overlooked in the lower ranks. It is now on iPlayer so watch it before it vanishes.

Reviewing my recommendations, I have noticed that they are all by women – the writing, and the directing. Women tell a good story and have more empathy with the position of women in society generally, In the beginning, in the 1920s and 30s in Hollywood, the majority of screenwriters were women; it was relatively low-paid and it was all about the action. When cinema became big business and men realised there was money to be made from writing, they muscled in and took over. Now, only 16 percent of screenwriters are women – a shocking statistic that needs to be addressed, something the above writers are helping to change.

After all, women have been telling stories for centuries; they need to regain control and prominence on our screens once again.

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Cannes Film Festival 2018: My Experience

Hello readers,

Today I will talking about my time at the Cannes Film Festival a few weeks ago. It was an honour and a pleasure to go and my friends and I had a marvellous experience.

We all had the Cannes Cinephiles passes which didn’t let us in to many films but I managed to see a dozen or so, some of which I will be reviewing below as well as the festival as a whole.

Cannes Film Festival:

Related image

The festival itself was a amazing experience. Luckily we had great weather until the last two days where it rained very hard and I didn’t have an umbrella. The promenade where the festival was held was easy to navigate and there were many souvenir shops and kiosks selling reasonably priced food. The atmosphere was really lively and many people just came to walk around or hang out on the beach, soaking in the sun. Everyone I encountered was really friendly and helpful and I met some really interesting people in the film industry. The bars and food places were very expensive so we tended to eat in our apartment but the places we did go were very good quality.

The buildings and theatres where the films were screened are very spacious and great places to watch films. The Grand Theatre Lumiere was the biggest theatre and where the most prestigious films and premieres were held. I was lucky enough to go to a few films in this theatre and it was breathtaking. The Salle Buñuel was also a lovely 400 seat theatre where I saw other films.

If you ever get a chance as a filmmaker to go to Cannes Film Festival I would highly recommend it. The only downside was the fact that my pass didn’t let me in to as much as I thought it would when I applied to go.

I give the Cannes Film Festival as a whole 4/5.

Le Grand Bain (Sink or Swim):

One of my favourite films, I saw this film in the Grand Theatre Lumiere and it was really touching. It was about a man struggling with depression in his 40s and trying not to disappoint his wife and kids. On a whim he joins a male synchronised swim team and finds a reason to live again. Although there are some tough themes in this film such as mental illness, there are many comedy elements and I left the film feeling uplifted. Essentially, it’s about working as a team and finding joy in unexpected places.

It is in French but I didn’t find it too hard to follow along with the subtitles. The director, Gilles Lellouche, who is also an actor, had a great style and really focused on the back stories of all the characters which made me sympathise with them more.

The main cast are Mathieu Amalric (Barbara, Tournée) who plays the protagonist, Bertrand; Jean-Hugues Anglade (Betty Blue, Nikita); Leïla Bekhti (Paris, je t’aime; A Prophet); Guillaume Canet (The Beach, Rock’n Roll); Virginie Efira (Elle, Victoria); Philippe Katerine (The Truth About Charlie, Opium).

I give Le Grand Bain 5/5.

Leto:

Leto (2018)

This film that I also saw in the Grand Theatre Lumiere had a very different feel from Le Grand Bain but I really enjoyed it. It was also the first film I saw at the festival. The story depicted 1980s rock bands in Russia, based on the wife of a successful musician. It was shown in black and white which really enhanced the sad points of the film.

Communism at the time didn’t allow people to play rock music so the bands played at a club set up by the main character, Mayk (pronounced ‘Mike’). The audience was small compared to rock bands of the time in Europe and America but they were all enjoying the shows enthusiastically.

The director, Kirill Serebrennikov, used lots of close ups and at some points had a camera crew filming the band and their entourage. The only colour shots were footage of the camera.

The music of the film really helped tell the story, and the titular song written by the real Viktor Tsoy, Leto was my favourite.

The characters listened to American and European rock such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Blondie. The songs the bands played on stage were great rock music and showed the emotions of the characters.

This was also one of my favourite films and as a fan of 80s rock music it really appealed to me. Even if you aren’t a fan of this genre of music, the story alone is full of emotion and tells the age old tale of love and loss.

The main stars are Teo Yoo (Equals, Day Night Day Night) as Viktor Tsoy, a young musician being coached by Mayk; Irina Starshenbaum (Attraction, Ice) as Natasha whose memoirs the film was based upon and Roman Bilyk in his first acting role as Mayk.

I give Leto 5/5

The House that Jack Built:

This film is one of the most disturbing films I have ever. seen It is about five incidents committed by a serial killer with OCD. A big draw for the film is Uma Thurman but she only has a minor role. The serial killer Jack, played by Matt Dillon, has an obsession with killing that he doesn’t want to stop. The film shows many horrific and terrifying scenes in close and graphic detail so definitely only watch if you are over 18 and have a strong stomach for horror. Despite the shocking and twisted scenes depicted in the film, at it’s core, it showed an emotionally unavailable man, trying to build a house and who cannot form any relationships whatsoever.

The cinematography was very well done with beautiful countryside shots interspersed with the more disturbing images. The director, Lars Von Trier, who had a seven year ban from Cannes for jokingly declaring himself a Nazi, has an impressive body of work and has won many prizes at Cannes in the past. When I saw the film at its premiere, as soon as he walked in, he had a standing ovation. The film also received a ten minute standing ovation and sparked a mass walkout by at least 100 people.

The acting in the film was outstanding, especially Matt Dillon. I don’t think I will be able to watch him in anything else without seeing him as the serial killer.

The main cast were Matt Dillon (There’s Something About Mary, Crash); Bruno Ganz (Downfall, Wings of Desire); Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Vol.1 and 2); Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, American Honey).

I give The House that Jack Built 3/5

Fahrenheit 451:

I saw this film at it’s midnight premiere and I was lucky enough to see the stars as they walked into the theatre, five feet away from me.

I enjoyed this film and stayed awake until two am watching it, when in some day time films I fell asleep. It played like a young adult adaptation and is a remake of a film based on a popular 1950s book by Ray Bradbury.

It portrays the idea that knowledge is dangerous and all books must be burned. Firemen work to destroy all books and punish those harbouring them. One fireman, Montag working his way to General, begins questioning why he’s burning books after he meets an influential woman.

My only issue with the film was the ending and as I don’t want to spoil it, I will not say why. The cast were good and I liked the graphics and story but there was something missing. I have not seen the original film but a friend said it was one of her favourite films.

The cast of Fahrenheit 451 are Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Black Panther) as the hero, Montag; Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water, Midnight Special) as his boss; Sofia Boutella (Star Trek Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Clarisse, who shows Montag a new way of living.

I give Fahrenheit 451 a rating of 4/5.

 

Jane Fonda in Five Acts:

This documentary moved me and it was really entertaining. I  like Jane Fonda as an actress and I knew she was an activist in the 1960s and 1970s but I didn’t realise the extent of her life.

The documentary was about two hours long and split into five acts – Henry (her father), Roger (her first husband), Tom (her second husband), Ted (her third husband) and Jane. It told of her beginnings as Henry Fonda’s daughter and her mother’s mental health issues through her three husbands, notable film roles such as Barbarella (1968), Klute (1971), On Golden Pond (1981), her activism and controversy around her. It concludes with her return to acting in 2005 and her unmarried life. Many people from her life, including 2 of her husbands, Paula Weinstein, Robert Redford and Lily Tomlin give their thoughts and opinions about Jane.

It was a very emotional documentary and I cried when it revealed that her mother committed suicide in a mental institution. Now, knowing about Jane Fonda’s whole life, I respect her much more as an actress and human being. I think she is a role model to her own and every generation.

I was also very pleased when Jane Fonda herself made an appearance along with the director Susan Lacy. Jane gave a great speech about being proud of yourself and standing up for others.

I give Jane Fonda in Five Acts 5/5.

Driving Miss Daisy:

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Driving Miss Daisy is a timeless classic from 1989 and was played in the Cannes Classics section. I had never seen it before and I really enjoyed. It had a lovely ending and was a really enjoyable film. I didn’t fall asleep in this one either!

The story tells of a friendship between an old Jewish woman and her black driver set in the South of the US. It starts in the 1950s and spans 25 years. It started as an Off-Broadway play but was adapted to an Academy Award Winning film. The film was nominated for ten Oscars and won four of them – Best Picture, Best Actress – Jessica Tandy, Best Makeup and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The film deals with many themes; racism, ageing, Judaism and anti-semitism, class and many others.

The film stars Jessica Tandy (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, *batteries not included) as Miss Daisy, Morgan Freeman (Se7en, Invictus), who starred in the original play in the same role as Hoke, Miss Daisy’s driver and friend; Dan Aykroyd (Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters) as Miss Daisy’s well-meaning son.

I really enjoyed this film and would definitely recommend giving it a watch.

I give Driving Miss Daisy 5/5

Black Panther:

Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Isaach De Bankolé, Martin Freeman, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, and Letitia Wright in Black Panther (2018)

This film was screened on the beach with an introduction by the director, Ryan Coogler. I am a massive Marvel fan so I had already seen the film when it came out this February. It was great to watch it again and amazing to see Ryan Coogler in person.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Black Panther, it tells the origin story of the comic book hero Black Panther. T’Challa is crowned as the King of Wakanda, a fictional African country that has hidden from the world, after the death of his father, King T’Chaka in a previous Marvel film – Captain America: Civil War (2016). He tackles villain Ulysses Klaue and an American soldier, Erik Killmonger, who turns out not to be who we think he is.

The film is told in typical comic book adaptation way with a good vs. evil vibe but it was also thoroughly enjoyable and a big change for Hollywood as it was the first film to have a budget of over $100 million and feature a predominately black cast. It featured humour especially from Shuri, T’Challa’s tech wiz sister; drama, action, plot twists and some great fight and car chase sequences. The CGI was also breathtaking especially when the real Wakanda is revealed.

The film stars many great Hollywood actors and actresses: Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up, Marshall) as T’Challa/Black Panther; Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Fantastic Four) as Killmonger; Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Nakia, T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend and undercover spy; Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead, The Visitor) as T’Challa’s bodyguard and friend, Okoye; Letitia Wright (Black Mirror, The Commuter) as Shuri; Winston Duke (Person of Interest, Avengers: Infinity War) as M’Baku, a rival leader of another tribe in Wakanda.

Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Sherlock) as Everett Ross, a government agent who joins the fight to help old friend, T’Challa; Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Sicario) W’Kabi, T’Challa’s friend and Okoye’s love interest; Angela Bassett (Strange Days, Olympus Has Fallen) as Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother; Sterling K. Brown (This is Us, Army Wives) as N’Jobu, T’Challa’s uncle; Forest Whitaker ( The Last King of Scotland, Rogue One) as Zuri, T’Challa’s adviser and Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) as Ulysses Klaue.

I think Black Panther is one of the best Marvel films and I give it 5/5.

Bergman: A Year in a Life:

Bergman: A Year in a Life (2018)

This documentary narrated and directed by Jane Magnusson (Cupcake, The Swimsuit Issue) tells of Ingmar Bergman’s life in the year 1957, the most chaotic of his career. Bergman is a revolutionary Swedish writer-director whose films are masterpieces, telling stories of the human condition. He has been nominated for nine Oscars and won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1971. His many films include: Summer with Monika(1953), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Seventh Seal (1957) (which I saw at Cannes), Persona (1966), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Scenes from a Marriage (1974) and Fanny and Alexander (1982).

The documentary featured archive footage of Bergman on talk shows and photos from 1957. Many people were interviewed for the documentary including Lena Endre, Thorsten Flinck, Elliott Gould, Barbra Streisand, Liv Ullman and Lars Von Trier.

Bergman’s story was very interesting but also tragic. He suffered very painful stomach ulcers his whole life and mental illness which he was often hospitalised for. In recuperation, he wrote many of his films.

I had heard of Bergman before Cannes but this documentary introduced me to his life and I would really like to watch more of his films.

I give Bergman: A Year in a Life 5/5.

Awards:

Grand Prix – BlacKkKlansman

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From what I have heard of this film, it deserved to win the Grand Prix. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it but I have seen the trailer and it features some excellent actors and actresses.

Palme d’Or – Shoplifters

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I didn’t see this film either but my friends did and said it was their favourite film. The director, Hirokazu Koreeda is known for his films: Nobody Knows (2004), Still Walking (2008), Like Father, Like Son (2013) and The Third Murder (2017).

What I wish I had seen:

BlacKkKlansman:

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

This film directed by Spike Lee (Malcolm X) and produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out) tells the story of an African-American police officer infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan and managed to become the head of the local chapter.

It stars John David Washington (Malcolm X, Monster) as police officer, Ron Stallworth; Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Logan Lucky) as Flip Zimmerman; Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3, That ’70s Show) as David Duke; Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Last Five Years) as  Patrice and Alec Baldwin (The Departed, It’s Complicated) as Actor.

As it won the Grand Prix this year, I think I will be seeing it in cinemas.

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word:

Pope Francis in Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (2018)

This documentary on the Pope sounds really interesting especially as it directed by the legend Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire; Paris, Texas).

I did queue for this film but it filled up before I got a seat.

Ryan Coogler and Christopher Nolan masterclass

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Image result for christopher nolan cannes 2018

I am disappointed that I missed these. My friends went to the Ryan Coogler masterclass and said it was really interesting. They were both very popular.

Solo: A Star Wars Story:

Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Donald Glover, Alden Ehrenreich, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emilia Clarke, and Joonas Suotamo in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

I am not a big Star Wars but I wanted to see this. It tells the Han Solo origin story, however it was screened after we left the festival.

It stars Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!, Stoker) as Han Solo; Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, Now You See Me) as Beckett; Emilia Clarke (Me Before You, Game of Thrones) as Qi’ra; Donald Glover (Atlanta, Community) as Lando Calrissian; Thandie Newton (Westworld, 2012) as Val; Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Crashing) as L3-37 and Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Journey’s End) as Dryden Vos.

It appears to be very popular and I may see it in the cinema.

Thanks for reading this long and overdue post.

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

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LGBT films are becoming more widely accepted among audiences

Hello readers,

Sorry that this is my first post in many weeks. I was on holiday at Easter so I didn’t go to the cinema that much and I have been very busy with finals at university, but I have now finished for the summer.

So let’s begin with a question:

Why are LGBT films becoming more widely accepted among audiences?

Recently, Hollywood and other film industries have been green lighting more LGBT themed films for wider releases. Audiences have wanted them for decades and whilst there have been some great LGBT films in recent years such as Blue is the Warmest Colour, Brokeback Mountain, I feel that in the last couple of years, more films and TV shows have been featuring LGBT characters and I want to explore why.

As Hollywood is the biggest and most widely broadcast film industry, I thought I would start there. In the USA, homosexuality was legalised in 2003 in all 50 states but this did not spark a sudden movement in the big production companies such as Paramount and Universal.

What helped kick-start changes was the legalisation of gay marriage in 2015. Personally, I think that this is what drove the movement forward in the American Film Industry.

Image result for gay marriage legalised usa parade

Legalisation of gay marriage in 2015, USA

There is a higher demand for films featuring these themes as worldwide acceptance is becoming more wide spread. Here are some popular LGBT films:

Carol (2015)

A film about the love between an older and a younger woman in the 1950s. It’s set in Manhattan, New York and as it was illegal for anyone to be gay, the two have a complicated relationship. The film received many awards nominations at the Oscars (six), the Golden Globes (five) and the BAFTAs (nine). It also competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Cate Blanchett, who is the President of the Jury for Cannes 2018 starred and her love interest was Rooney Mara, both accomplished actresses. It has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and other glowing reviews. The film did moderately well at the box office also grossing $12.7 million domestically and $27.6 million worldwide. I think this film shows that audiences want LGBT films and will honour them with awards and great reviews.

Grandma (2015)

This film doesn’t have LGBT issues at its core but instead focuses on the relationship between a teenager and her lesbian grandmother. The girl is pregnant and needs money for an abortion. Her grandma, still grieving the death of her partner, helps her do this. Other relationships portrayed are between the girl and the father of her child, the grandmother and a man she almost married and the girl’s mother. This sweet film portrays being gay as a normal part of life. It was set in modern day so there were no secret relationships here. I have seen this film and really enjoyed it. The titular ‘Grandma’ is played by Lily Tomlin who is amazing in the role.

There have also been some other great LGBT films since then. One of my personal favourites from last year was Call Me By Your Name. I have talked about it many times on this blog so if you have read my other posts, you know of my love for the film.

It is a beautiful tale of two guys, Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. Even though it only made $16 million in the US Box Office, it had four Oscar nominations including Best Picture. Some audiences feel like it was robbed of nominations for Best Director and Best Supporting Actor and it only won Best Adapted Screenplay – James Ivory, who is, in fact, gay. The fact that this film was even nominated for four Oscars is a step in the right direction for Hollywood becoming more accepting of LGBT themes.

A Fantastic Woman (2017)

The film featuring a trans lead which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film was a step towards trans equality. Hollywood has become more accepting of homosexuality in recent times but trans equality is only just becoming accepted.

Moonlight (2016)

The tale of two black gay men living in LA which won Best Picture was really the first of its kind. It was a beautifully made film and explored many issues with drug abuse, adolescent violence and grief. It also won two other Oscars and was nominated for eight in total.

Recently I saw Love, Simon which inspired this post as it is the first big studio film with a main character who is gay.

This film played like a typical coming-of-age high school film but with a gay character leading it. It had all the typical plot points of a high school film but with the character of Simon falling for an anonymous guy instead of a girl.

TV series are also becoming more diverse, two of my favourites in particular are listed below:

Brooklyn 99

This comedy show about a Brooklyn cop precinct has a very diverse cast, one of the best on TV today. It features a black gay man as the captain, two Latina detectives, one now a sergeant, another is bi and another black sergeant. There are straight white males and one female but the diversity of this show is wonderful. The cast are all great in their roles and it is one of my favourite shows.

Sense8

This show about 8  people from around the world being telepathically connected features a trans character, a gay Latino guy, a black guy, a black lesbian and two Asian women. The cast are also very good in their roles. The show also features two straight white guys and one straight white woman. It is very good and I would highly recommend a watch. It does feature a lot of nudity though.

I hope you enjoyed this post and my first foray into a different kind of post. I will carry on doing film reviews but I also want to write about topics that matter to me like LGBT rights.

I will be posting an Infinity War review in a couple of weeks as I want to talk spoilers!

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

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Oscar Winner Reviews

Hello readers,

Apologies for not posting in so long, I was preoccupied with university and other commitments but I’m back and in this post I am going to review the Oscar winning films of 2018 that I have seen.

Best PictureThe Shape of Water

Image result for best picture oscars 2018 winner

This film by Guillermo Del Toro is a fantasy adventure set in the 1960s in Baltimore, US. It stars a mute women who cleans at a top secret government facility every night. They bring in a new asset, a humanoid fish creature that she becomes friendly with.

The film stars Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) as the mute cleaner Elisa, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) plays her chatty and loyal fellow cleaner and friend Zelda, Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) plays Elisa’s neighbour who is an artist and her best friend, Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) plays the twisted man in charge and Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) plays a scientist who appears to be on Elisa’s side.

The beautiful cinematography, soundtrack and acting in this film are what won it Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Personally, I think Call Me By Your Name or The Post should have won but The Shape of Water still deserved this win. 4/5.

Best Actor – Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour

Image result for gary oldman best actor oscars

Gary Oldman’s performance as Sir Winston Churchill at the beginning of his reign as British Prime Minister during the Second World War was a well deserved recipient of this award. The makeup department did a great job making him look like Churchill but it was Oldman’s mannerisms, voice, timing and overall ability that ultimately won him this Oscar.

Personally I think Timothée Chalamet for his role as Elio in Call Me Your Name was a potential winner as was Daniel Day-Lewis for his role in Phantom Thread. I have not seen Get Out which I have read is also deserving of every Oscar it was nominated for or Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Actress – Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Image result for frances mcdormand best actress oscars

Frances McDormand’s performance was the best of this film. Her face held so many expressions that you could always tell her mood or what she was thinking even though she didn’t vocalise it. The content of this film is hard to think about but is very much in our lives. McDormand’s reactions to the other character’s opinions on what happened to her daughter also show her emotions and she continues to fight for justice.

Personally I think this award could have gone to any of the other nominees: Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water, Meryl Streep for The Post, Margot Robbie for I, Tonya or Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird. I have not seen Lady Bird yet but I have heard many good things about the film, directed by Greta Gerwig. However, Frances McDormand did deserve to win.

Best Supporting Actor – Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Image result for sam rockwell best supporting actor oscars

Sam Rockwell’s performance as a racist cop who later redeems himself was award worthy. I am a fan of Rockwell’s and he played this character with enough heart to make the audience sympathise with him even though some of the lines he says are very offensive. His care for his mother and McDormand’s character also shows his softer side.

Personally  I think Woody Harrelson from Three Billboards as well or Richard Jenkins from The Shape of Water also gave winning performances. Willem Dafoe from The Florida Project was good but not of the same level and I have not seen All the Money in the World so I cannot comment on Christopher Plummer’s performance.

Best Supporting Actress – Allison Janney for I, Tonya

Image result for allison janney best supporting actress oscars

Allison Janney’s performance as Lavona Harding, Tonya’s abusive, pushy mother was definitely deserving of this award. Her blunt, perfectly timed delivery of her lines and her random acts of violence as Tonya’s mother really gave Lavona life. Tonya’s mother was a big influence on her success and character and she would not have had success without her.

Personally, I think Allison Janney was the best in her category but Octavia Spencer’s performance was also brilliant as Zelda in The Shape of Water and Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread was also perfection. I have not seen Lady Bird or Mudbound.

Best Writing Adapted Screenplay – James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name

Image result for james ivory best adapted screenplay oscars 2018 on stage

As you may have gathered, Call Me By Your Name is one of my favourite Oscar nominated films this year so I was really pleased that it won this award. The script of the film was one element that made Call Me Your Name a standout for me. The acting, cinematography and music was just as brilliant but the writing definitely made this film Oscar worthy. Elio and Oliver’s gradual move from dislike to love was portrayed really well by Ivory as was what many people feel is the best scene of the film between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his father (Michael Stuhlbarg). The monologue Stuhlbarg delivers was inspiring to many audiences around the world.

Personally, I think Call Me Your Name deserved this win but Molly’s Game and Logan were also brilliantly written and deserved greater recognition this year. I have not seen The Disaster Artist or Mudbound but have heard they were noteworthy.

Best Director – Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water

Image result for guillermo del toro best director oscars on stage

Guillermo Del Toro did the directing, writing and producing for the Shape of Water, it was his vision. The actors in the film responded well to his direction and portrayed his vision accurately. I could tell it was a Guillermo Del Toro film because of the fantasy feeling and the mythical creature. Del Toro has worked hard in the industry for many years but this is his first Oscar. His other films have been in Spanish but this film was out of his comfort zone, dealing with communism in 1960s America and for that departure from his normal genre, he deserves this award.

I think The Shape of Water was the best in this category out of the two I have seen. Paul Thomas Anderson has also been in the industry for many years but yet to win an Academy Award. I have heard that Jordan Peele, Christopher Nolan and Great Gerwig were also all deserving.

Best Original Music Score – Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water

Image result for alexandre desplat oscars 2018 on stage

The score for The Shape of Water definitely helped emphasise the plot and added to the whole look and feel of the film. A soundtrack can really make or break a film and this one definitely helped it win Best Picture. Even though the film was set in Baltimore in the 1960s, the score along with the cinematography and acting helped transport you to a fantasy world in certain scenes.

The scores for Phantom Thread and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri were also a great match for their films. I think The Shape of Water did deserve this win but I have not seen Dunkirk or Star Wars: The Last Jedi so I can’t be sure.

Best Original Song – Kristen Anderson – Lopez, Robert Lopez for Remember Me from Coco

Image result for kristen anderson lopez robert lopez oscars 2018

This song was a worthy winner and was pinnacle to the plot of Coco. It was sung as a lullaby and a more upbeat version at different points and both are beautiful. It is about remembering someone even after they have died or moved away. In Coco, the performance of this song by Miguel and Hector voiced by Anthony Gonzalez and Gael García Bernal respectively was a highlight of the film. Other notable songs from the soundtrack are Un Poco Loco and The World Es Mi Familia.

Personally I love the song ‘This is Me’ and the rest of the soundtrack from the Greatest Showman and the song ‘Mystery of Love’ from Call Me By Your Name was also beautiful but Remember Me was very well deserving and was an important for the Latino American community. I have not seen Mudbound or Marshall so I do not know how the songs nominated fit into the films.

Best Animated Feature Film – Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson for Coco

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Coco was a beautiful animated film. The attention to detail was crazy amazing especially in the afterlife. Disney/Pixar films have been getting better and better in recent years and Coco is definitely my favourite for a while. All the characters fit well into the story and even though there were quite a few, none of them were overshadowed. Miguel the main character, a 12 year old boy who wants to be a musician despite his family’s history of no music, was a great character. Through his voice (Anthony Gonzalez) you could hear all his emotions. The film is centred around the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead and the songs on the soundtrack all have a Mexican feeling and some are in Spanish. I think this film is really important for Hollywood in the US’ current political climate and the films itself was just amazing.

I have not seen any of the other nominees but Coco was a stand out film of the year and not just in the animated film category. Any child or adult would love this film.

Best Cinematography – Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049

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While I did enjoy Blade Runner 2049 as a whole as much as others have, the cinematography was beautiful for this film. Some of it was Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) which some people in the cinematography community feel should not win but the other non-CGI parts were also brilliantly filmed. Roger Deakins himself has been in the business since the 1970s and this is only his first Oscar win despite working on great films such as Sid and Nancy, Fargo, A Beautiful Mind, and Sicario.  His win was well deserved and I am pleased that his talent has finally been recognised by the Academy.

The cinematography of The Shape of Water was one of the best parts of the film for me so I would not have minded if this film won and Darkest Hour also had award-deserving cinematography. Again I have not seen Dunkirk or Mudbound so I couldn’t possibly comment, although I have heard that Dunkirk is a cinematic masterpiece.

Best Visual Effects – John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer for Blade Runner 2049 

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The visual effects of Blade Runner 2049 were amazing and next level and even though I did not enjoy the plot so much, it did look stunning. The sunrises and sunsets were particularly wonderful and the colour palettes of orange and reds but also greens and blues was well thought out. I do not know much about visual effects but the film looked visually other worldly and futuristic which was the idea.

Personally, I think Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had better visual effects and CGI and considering two major characters are CGI, I think this film should have won but Blade Runner 2049 was a worthy winner. I have not seen the other nominees.

Best Costume Design – Mark Bridges for Phantom Thread

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The costumes for this film was one of the best parts. The beautiful couture dresses that Reynolds creates from scratch are very important in the film and are breathtaking to look at. Mark Bridges was very deserving of this award. I would have loved to have worn a Woodcock dress.

Darkest Hour also had some wonderful period costumes, especially the women in Churchill’s office and Churchill (Oldman) himself. The Shape of Water also had some very American outfits but I wouldn’t have nominated them for this award. The outfits in Victoria and Abdul were also wonderful and fit for a queen like Victoria. I would have given the award to either Phantom Thread or Victoria and Abdul. I have not seen Beauty and the Beast but from photos the costumes do look very lovely.

Best Production Design – Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau for The Shape of Water

Image result for paul d. austerberry oscars 2018 on stage

The production design of The Shape of Water was also amazing and transported you to the world of the film. Elisa and Giles’ apartments were particularly well done as were Giles’ drawings, the diner and the top secret government facility. The fact that Elisa lived above a cinema was a lovely added touch.

I think the Shape of Water was very deserving of this award. Blade Runner 2049 and Darkest Hour also had great sets, Darkest Hour particularly had some great 40s details. The Shape of Water did have the best production design in my opinion but I haven’t seen Beauty and the Beast or Dunkirk.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour

Image result for best makeup and hairstyling oscars 2018 on stage

The makeup and hair styling for Gary Oldman to transform him into Winston Churchill was definitely award worthy. Whilst watching the film I had to constantly remind myself that it was Gary Oldman and not Winston Churchill. It was a real accomplishment in prosthetic makeup and hair styling.

Victoria and Abdul also was a worthy contender as Judi Dench looked much older than she is and like a long-reigning queen. I have not seen Wonder but from pictures of the prosthetic makeup used on Jacob Tremblay who plays the main character Auggie (August), it was also worthy of this award.

And that’s all folks!

This review contains all my own opinions and I have only reviewed the films I have seen. Another reason why this post was delayed is because I only saw the Shape of Water a few days ago and as it won four Academy Awards, I wanted to review it.

Anyway thank you for reading,

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

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Award-Nominated Films: A Review

Hello readers,

This post is dedicated to the three award-nominated films I have seen recently. Award season is often a time when the best films come out and this year is no exception. I saw all three of these films at the Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford. I also volunteer there. If you are ever in Oxford, it is a great little cinema to catch a film. It only has 1 screen but also has a bar (with alcohol!) and plush red seats. There are 2 films on every evening and usually one in the afternoon too. They also show lots of art-house style films, documentaries and ones you may not find in the chain cinemas. Anyway on to the films.

Molly’s Game – Nominated for 1 Oscar, 2 Golden Globes and 1 BAFTA

This film is based on a true story. Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) was an Olympic level skier. She was trying out for the Winter Olympics when she was injured and could never ski again. She moves to Los Angeles and puts off her plan of going to law school for a year. She begins working as a cocktail waitress but soon gets a job with Dean (Jeremy Strong) who then asks her to organise and run his weekly underground poker game. Famous actors, musicians, sports stars and millionaires play the game. After several years, Molly is fired by Dean but retaliates by stealing all his players and setting up Molly’s Game at the Four Seasons in LA. Her buy in is put at $250,000 US dollars a game. Her game gets bigger and bigger, moving to New York and involving members of the Russian mafia.

2 years after playing she is arrested by the FBI and tried for illegal gambling. The film tells her story from her beginnings of being raised by her strict father (Kevin Costner) and being coached to ski and do well academically to running a multi-millionaire dollar company. At the beginning of the film, Molly goes to visit Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who becomes her lawyer and her life is then told in flashbacks. The styling of the film is very good and Jessica Chastain is amazing in her role. I could only think of Molly as her. There is a lot of fast narration by Molly in the film but it is not too hard to keep up with.

The bold colours of the film combined with the amazing life story of Molly makes this film a triumph. The film has some sad moments that did make me shed a few tears, especially when Molly sees her dad after being arrested.

This film is a true female empowerment story and how even if you get one dream taken from you, it doesn’t mean you can’t do something else and create your own business. Even though what Molly did was illegal, there is still a story of true courage and determination to be told.

The Oscar this film was nominated for was Best Adapted Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Steve Jobs, Moneyball) who also directed the film. It is based on Molly’s autobiography of her life. I think Jessica Chastain should have received nominations for her role and so should Idris Elba for his role as Charlie.

Also starring in Molly’s Game are Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), Michael Cera (Superbad), Brian d’Arcy James (13 Reasons Why), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), Bill Camp (The Night Of), Graham Greene (The Green Mile), Claire Rankin (Taken, 2017), Joe Keery (Stranger Things) and Jeremy Strong(The Big Short).

Overall I rate Molly’s Game 5/5.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Nominated for 7 Oscars, 6 Golden Globes (Won 2), 9 BAFTAs, 4 SAG Awards (Won 1)

The film centres around the after effects of the raping and murder of Angela Hayes. Her mother, Mildred is fed up with the police department. They haven’t had any leads in 7 months. She then uses 3 Billboards on a small road near her home to ask a question: Why haven’t there been any arrests? Her billboards start to make people take notice and complaints come in for the honesty of the signs. The small town consists of many people on Mildred’s side but the billboards change the atmosphere of Ebbing, Missouri. The film is poignant and honest about the police department of small towns in the US and how in the South, many policemen are more concerned with falsely accusing black people for crimes than finding real criminals.

Frances McDormand as Mildred gives an astonishing performance, and she has been nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA and won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for her role. Her character is unpredictable, violent, mean, grieving and angry but McDormand gives her a human quality that makes you want her to succeed in finding her daughter’s killer.

Other cast members have also been recognised for their performances, Woody Harrelson who played the Chief of the Ebbing Police Department was nominated for a SAG Award, a BAFTA and an Oscar for his role. Sam Rockwell who plays a violent, racist cop, who later redeems himself, Jason Dixon won a SAG Award and a Golden Globe and was nominated for a BAFTA. He is also up for an Oscar in the same category as Woody Harrelson, Best Supporting Actor. The whole cast also won a SAG Award.

The other Oscars this film has been nominated for are Best Picture, Best Original Score – Carter Burwell, Best Original Screenplay – Martin McDonagh, Best Film Editing – Jon Gregory.

This film was powerful and truthful which I think really resonated in today’s climate of fake news and police brutality being covered up or excused. The painful story of a child being raped and killed has also been told accurately and respectfully.

The cast includes Frances McDormand (Fargo), Woody Harrelson (True Detective), Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back), Abbie Cornish (Candy), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea), Zeljko Ivanek (Seven Psychopaths), Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class), Clarke Peters (The Wire) and Samara Weaving (The Babysitter).

Overall I give this film 4/5.

Darkest Hour – Nominated for 6 Oscars, 9 BAFTAs, Won 1 Golden Globe and 1 SAG Award.

This film tells the story of Sir Winston Churchill, the man who was reluctantly made prime minister and fought for our country. Churchill has to make a decision between attempting to negotiate peace talks with Hitler, preventing him from invading Britain or to find against the Nazis, despite the odds being against Britain. Churchill is portrayed by Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) in his role of a lifetime. When I was watching Oldman on screen, I forgot that he wasn’t an actor playing Winston Churchill, I thought this is Winston Churchill. Oldman not only looked like Churchill in the realistic prosthetic makeup but he had his voice and mannerisms perfected. Darkest Hour tells an incredible story of British courage in the year 1940 in a time period that only lasted about 2 weeks.

Churchill also shows his human side by bonding with his new secretary, Miss Layton (Lily James) and shows his romantic side with his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas). There is also a lovely scene where he rides the Tube and asks ordinary people of London what they want for their country.

This film is very authentic from the scenery in the underground, where it looks just like the 1940s to the hundreds of extras used in the House of Commons dressed like Members of Parliament from the time.

Gary Oldman has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, one of six the film has been nominated for. The other nominations are Best Picture; Best Cinematography – Bruno Delbonnel; Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick; Best Costume Design – Jacqueline Durran and Best Production Design – Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer. Gary Oldman also won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, and a SAG Award.

The film’s nine BAFTA nominations are Best Film; Best Leading Actor – Gary Oldman; Best Supporting Actress – Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient); Outstanding British Film of the Year; Original Music – Dario Marianelli; Best Makeup/Hair – David Malinowski, Ivana Primorac, Lucy Sibbick and Kazuhiro Tsuji; Best Cinematography – Bruno Delbonnel; Best Costume Design – Jacqueline Durran and Best Production Design – Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer.

The excellent cast that transport the audience to this time period include Lily James (Cinderella), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), Ronald Pickup (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Stephen Dillane (The Hours) and Samuel West (Van Helsing).

Clearly this film has done well at the awards and it deserves it. I give the Darkest Hour 5/5.

Other films I have seen recently in the cinema include Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Hostiles.

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

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Review: The Post and Oscar Nominations

Hello readers,

I recently saw The Post starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep so I am going to write my review and talk a bit about the context of the film and what it means in today’s climate in the USA. Also I am going to share my opinions on some of the Oscar nominations.

The Post (2017)

The Post is set in 1971 and tells the story of the Washington Post trying to print the Pentagon Papers – around 7,000 pages of government secrets about the relations between the United States and Vietnam for over 20 years. The information was kept quiet by the government to protect themselves until Dan Ellsberg, who worked for the Department of Defence, leaked the papers to the New York Times. The paper was told not to print any more of the secret documents unless they wanted to be taken to court by the US government. The Washington Post who wanted to be taken seriously as a national newspaper, found the source and decided to also print the Pentagon Papers. They all have to face decisions between obeying federal law and avoiding jail or fighting for the freedom of information and letting the public know what their government had been doing.

The Vietnam War had many casualties including over 50,000 American soldiers. 100,000 men were sent to fight by President Kennedy. Four US Presidents from Eisenhower to Nixon were involved in the Vietnam War and authorised thousands of troops being sent to fight in a war they knew they could not win.

Apart from Government secrets being kept from the people and freedom of the press, another issue addressed in The Post was sexism. Although Katharine Graham was the publisher of the Post, she still had to prove herself worthy enough of being on the board of the paper. She was the only woman on the Post’s board. For example, at an important meeting for the Post, when she was trying to get investors to back selling stocks for The Washington Post, Ms Graham had prepared her speech and another man next to her took over her speech. She did eventually manage to command the room and the decision to print the Pentagon Papers came down to her and not a man.

Overall I think the Post was a great film and very relevant to today’s US Government and the ideas of ‘fake news’ and the rigging of elections. I give the Post 5/5.

Also in other film news this week is the release of the Oscar nominations for this year’s awards. Many great films, actors, directors and other crew members were nominated.

Image result for oscars 2018

The biggest award of the night, Best Picture has many great contenders. I have only seen Call Me By Your Name (which I wrote about in November) and The Post but I hope to see a few more before the awards are handed out on March 4th. Personally, I think Call Me By Your Name was one of the best films of the year in terms of storyline, the actors, the setting, the director and the score. It has been nominated for 4 Oscars in total including Best Actor for Timothée Chalamet, Best Adapted Screenplay, James Ivory and Best Original Song – ‘Mystery of Love’ by Sufjan Stevens.

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Other great films in the Best Picture category are Darkest Hour, about Winston Churchill and how he helped to win WWII; Dunkirk, about the famous battle of Dunkirk in WWII and the rescuing of over 300,000 troops from France; The Shape of Water which has a staggering 13 nominations and is about a woman connecting with an alien in the 1950s; and Get Out, a horror film about an interracial couple visiting the woman’s white parents for the weekend.

All of these films have received high praise so far, and have done well in other award shows. Darkest Hour directed by Joe Wright has a total of 6 Oscar nominations including Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Make Up and Hairstyling. Gary Oldman has already won the Golden Globe and SAG Award for his role as Churchill. This year was the first time he has won any awards.

Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Lily James in Darkest Hour (2017)

The war film Dunkirk directed by Christopher Nolan has 8 Oscar nominations including Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing and Best Original Score.  Starring in the film is Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, James D’Arcy, Harry Styles and Mark Rylance. Christopher Nolan has also been nominated for the David Lean Award for Direction at the BAFTAs this year.

Fionn Whitehead in Dunkirk (2017)

The Shape of Water has nominations in many categories including Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score and Screenplay, Best Sound Editing and Mixing and Best Cinematography. This comeback from Guillermo Del Toro, is set in the Cold War and stars women as the important characters.

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)

Get Out has 4 Oscar nominations in total including Best Director and Best Actor for Daniel Kaluuya. Kaluuya has also been nominated for an EE Rising Star BAFTA Award for his breakthrough role.

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017)

The other Best Picture nominations are Lady Bird, Phantom Thread and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

I hope that Timothée Chalamet wins Best Actor, but I predict that Gary Oldman will win as he has already won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for his outstanding portrayal of Winston Churchill.

I would like Margot Robbie or Meryl Streep to win Best Actress for their roles in I, Tonya and The Post. I think any of the nominees, also including Sally Hawkins, Saoirse Ronan and Frances McDormand could win.

For Best Director, I would like to see Greta Gerwig win as she is the only female nominee and her work is outstanding or Jordan Peele, for Get Out, his amazing debut. I feel like Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk or Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water may win the Oscar.

The other awards are still important but I have picked a select few to comment on. If you feel inclined, please leave a comment below with who you want to win at this year’s Oscars.

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

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My Top Netflix Picks

Hello readers,

I have recently got a Netflix account so this post will be listing what I have been watching on the popular streaming service. I know I haven’t posted in a while but I was busy as I’m sure you all were over the Christmas/New Year Period. Hope you all had a great festive/ holiday season.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015)

I am currently on Season 2 out of 3 of this show and so far I am really enjoying it. Each episode is only 25 – 30 minutes so it is easy to binge watch which I have been doing.

The premise of the show is that Kimmy Schmidt and three other women were trapped in a bunker for 15 years from 2000 to present day. They are set free to live the lives they were robbed of by their cult leader, the evil Reverend. Kimmy is 29 and decides to live in New York City and create her new adult life there away from Dunsville, Indiana where she was held captive. She meets Lillian, a crazy lady who hates what hipsters are doing to the neighbourhood and Titus Andromedon, someone who also moved to New York City to pursue a dream: to be in the Broadway show, The Lion King. They all help Kimmy readjust to the modern world of mobile phones, the Internet and dating. She also gets a job working for Mrs Jacqueline Voorhees, a rich woman who can’t seem to do anything for herself.

This sitcom is definitely funny in its own unique way. The characters always seem to have a crisis but that’s life! Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridesmaids) stars as Kimmy; Titus Burgess (30 Rock) as Titus Andromedon, Kimmy’s fabulous roommate; Carol Kane (Hester Street, Taxi, The Princess Bride) as Lillian, their wacky landlord and Jane Krakowski (30 Rock, Ally McBeal) as Jacqueline Voorhees, Kimmy’s self-centred boss.

This show is great if you are looking for something different and fun to binge watch as there are currently 3 seasons on Netflix. Also nominated for 16 Primetime Emmys and 4 SAG awards. The show is written by Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Robert Carlock (30 Rock, Friends).

Stranger Things (2016)

I know many people have seen this show, but I couldn’t not write about it. It is set in 1983 in the fictional mid-west small American town, Hawkins, Indiana. Four friends in middle school, Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will gather in Mike’s basement to play Dungeons and Dragons. On the way home, Mike disappears. In his place appears a strange girl, Eleven who can move things with her mind. Mike’s sister, Nancy also investigates her friend, Barb who goes missing just like Will. Chief Jim Hopper is on the case, he thinks Hawkins Lab has something to do with the disappearances.

The acting and aesthetic of this show is really outstanding. You really believe it is set in 1983. The creators, the Duffer Brothers took inspiration from many 80s films like the Goonies, ET,Ghostbusters and many more. Each episode is 40 – 55 minutes and there are currently two seasons out but this show is also very binge-worthy. I am re-watching it for the second time because it is that good.

The ensemble cast are: Winona Ryder (Little Women, The Age of Innocence) as Will’s mum, Joyce Byers; David Harbour (Revolutionary Road, Suicide Squad) as Chief Jim Hopper; Finn Wolfhard (IT) as Mike Wheeler, the leader of the party; Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, the goofy, knowledgeable one; Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair, the practical one who brings the gadgets; Millie Bobby Brown as the mysterious Eleven; Natalia Dyer as Will’s sister, Nancy Wheeler; Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers, Will’s older brother; Joe Keery as Nancy’s boyfriend, Steve Harrington; Cara Buono as Mike’s mum, Karen Wheeler and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers.

Above are the main cast for Season 1, there are some added cast members in Season 2 but I don’t want to give anything away.

This show is a drama/mystery/horror and once you start watching you will be hooked. It has also been nominated for 4 Golden Globes (including one win by David Harbour), 18 Primetime Emmys (including 5 wins), 4 Sag awards (1 win by the ensemble cast) and 1 BAFTA nomination.

The Good Place (2016)

This sitcom style show has a different vibe to most TV programmes you see these days. Yes it is funny, with a certain amount of drama with some well developed characters but everyone in it is dead. It takes place in somewhere called The Good Place, somewhere everyone who was really kind and generous on Earth go after death to live out eternity, like paradise. Only those who have dedicated their lives to others go there. Everyone else goes to the Bad Place to be tortured.

Eleanor Shellstrop goes to the Good Place, at first she thinks she earned it but when she finds out the architect of the neighbourhood, Michael thinks she is someone else, she knows she is in the Good Place by mistake. When the neighbour experiences problems and Eleanor realises she is causing them, she decides to try and earn a spot in the Good Place through her ‘soulmate’ teaching her ethics. Chidi is meant to be Eleanor’s soulmate but due to an error, they realise they are only destined to be friends. She also befriends her neighbours, Tahani and Jianyu, who are soulmates or are they?

The show stars Kristen Bell (Frozen, Veronica Mars) as Eleanor; Ted Danson (Cheers, Becker) as Michael; William Jackson Harper (Paterson, High Maintenance) as Chidi; Jameela Jamil (The Republic of Telly and The Great Comic Relief Bake Off – herself) as Tahani, someone who Eleanor finds condescending and is the only one with an accent; D’Arcy Carden (Broad City, Other People) as Janet, a computer program who looks like a person, Janet contains all the knowledge in the universe and Manny Jacinto (The Romeo Section, Once Upon a Time) as Jianyu, a Buddhist monk who took a vow of silence aged 8.

This comedy is something different and I would recommend to ages 12 and up. I have seen season 1 as that is all there is on Netflix but there is also a season 2. Very easy to watch as each episode is about 23 minutes. It also won a Critics Choice award for Most Exciting New Series.

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father (2017)

This documentary starring Jack Whitehall (Bad Education, Fresh Meat) an actor and comedian and his uptight and middle class father, Michael. In this 6 part series, father and son go on the gap year Jack never had around South East Asia. They visit Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and go to many spots that only the locals know about. Jack takes his father along for some well needed bonding time as the two are like chalk and cheese. I find Jack Whitehall entertaining and the funny dynamic with his father makes this travel show different from the rest. Good to watch if you enjoy Jack’s humour from his TV series’ or stand up. The filming of the scenery is very good and you see this part of the world from a bird’s eye view and more.

Easy to watch as each episode is only half an hour. I binged this series in a couple of days. It is funny but also informative particularly of the history of Cambodia and the suffering the people have endured in the past, something which I was unaware of previous to watching the show. I would say it is suitable for 15 years and up due to the complex and often rude language used.

The Crown (2016)

This show tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the monarchy of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. It starts in 1947 when Elizabeth and Philip got married. It then depicts the history of the Crown from King George VI to it being passed down to his daughter. The show also features other members of the royal family from the 1950s, the Queen Mother, Queen Mary, Duke of Windsor, Princess Margaret and Prince Charles and Princess Anne as children. The show depicts the hardship and joys Elizabeth faced as a new queen whilst still trying to be a good wife and mother.

The audience is shown the emotions of the people behind the stories in the newspapers and how they dealt with each crisis. Many people view the Royal Family as having it easy, but there was a lot they weren’t allowed to do and they had virtually no privacy then.

Whilst the show portrays real life people and events that actually happened, we have no way of knowing if what the characters said to each other in private is correct or not. Nevertheless, I think that the show is excellent. The acting and set design make you believe that the actors actually are the people they are pretending to be.

Starring in the Crown created by Peter Morgan is Claire Foy (Breathe, Wolf Hall) as Queen Elizabeth II; Matt Smith (Doctor Who, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Prince Philip; Vanessa Kirby (About Time, Everest) as Princess Margaret; Victoria Hamilton (Doctor Foster, Scoop) as the Queen Mother; Pip Torrens (Pride and Prejudice, Star Wars: Episode VII) as Tommy Lascelles, Private Secretary to King George and Queen Elizabeth and John Lithgow (Cliffhanger, Interstellar) as Sir Winston Churchill.

The show has won 2 Golden Globes (1 for Claire Foy), been nominated for another 3 (1 for Claire Foy and 1 for John Lithgow), won 3 Primetime Emmys (1 for John Lithgow), nominated for another 9 (1 for Claire Foy), won 2 BAFTAs, nominated for another 10 (1 for Claire Foy, Jared Harris (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lincoln) who played King George VI briefly in Series 1; John Lithgow and Vanessa Kirby).

The Crown has also won 2 SAG awards (1 for Claire Foy and 1 for John Lithgow), been nominated for another 3 (1 for Claire Foy), won a Critics Choice TV award for Best Supporting Actor – John Lithgow and been nominated for 2 more (1 for Jared Harris).

Clearly, the show is a success for Netflix and one of their most popular shows. There are currently 2 series out, I am half way through series 2 and I really love it. I didn’t know half of what happened in the Royal Family at the time and the acting, costumes and set really transport you there. Each episode is about 1 hour long but it is definitely worth watching.

Grace & Frankie (2015)

The premise of the show is quite simple, Grace and Frankie are told by their husbands, Sol and Robert that they both want a divorce because they want to marry each other. Turns out both Grace and Frankie’s 40 year long marriage was only real for half that time. Robert and Sol, who are partners in a law firm have been secretly gay and in a relationship for the last 20 years and want to get married as it is now legal.

Grace and Frankie have known each other for those 40 years but they are far from friends. Grace ran her own beauty business and believes appearance is everything. Grace teaches art to former convicts and is also a hippy who likes to take drugs and live wild and free. After their husbands leave them, they share their co-owned beach house and gradually begin to get along. Both have two children, Grace has feisty Brianna who now runs her business and Mallory who has 2 kids and a husband of her own who is more conventional and generous. Frankie has 2 boys, both adopted, Bud who is practical and a lawyer like his dad and Coyote who is a recovering drug addict searching for his purpose in life.

Together both families navigate their new and unexpected dynamic with hilarity and drama along the way. Starring in the show are Jane Fonda (Barbarella, 9 to 5) as Grace, Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, Grandma) as Frankie, Sam Waterston (Law and Order, The Great Gatsby, 1974) as Sol, Martin Sheen (The West Wing, Apocalypse Now) as Robert, Brooklyn Decker (Just Go With It, What to Expect When You’re Expecting) as Mallory, June Diane Raphael (The Disaster Artist, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as Brianna, Ethan Embry (Sweet Home Alabama, That Thing You Do!) as Coyote and Baron Vaughn (Cloverfield, Black Dynamite) as Nwabudike ‘Bud’.

This comedy has been nominated for 1 Golden Globe for Lily Tomlin, 7 Primetime Emmys (2 for Lily Tomlin, 1 for Jane Fonda) and 4 SAG awards (2 for Lily Tomlin, 2 for Jane Fonda).

Each episode is around 25-30 minutes and there are currently 3 series with a fourth coming on Netflix very soon. I have just finished series 1 and I will definitely be continuing to watch it.

Recommendations I have received from friends are Gilmore Girls, Brooklyn 99, 13 Reasons Why, Black Mirror, How to Get Away with Murder and Orphan Black.

Hope any Netflix users find my review useful.

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

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Paddington 2, Breathe and Murder on the Orient Express

Hello readers,

I know I haven’t posted in 2 weeks but I have been temporarily preoccupied with university tests and coursework. I am back today though. This week I thought I would post about films I only saw in the cinema as I have mainly been watching Christmas films on DVD and Prime. The films mentioned below I have seen in the past couple of weeks at the cinema.

Breathe (2017)

I saw this film a few weeks ago but it has still stuck with me. The film tells the true and heartbreaking story of Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge) and his wife,Diana(Claire Foy, The Crown). They get married and travel to Kenya for Robin’s job. Diana reveals she is pregnant. Suddenly, Robin wakes up with a fever and he can’t move his body. He becomes paralysed due to polio disease. This is 1958, he is given two years to live. He goes back to live in a hospital in England as he cannot do anything for himself. He then persuades Diana to get him out of hospital as he wants to live out his last days at home. He then keeps on living. This film shows the power of love in the face of epic adversity. It also documents the invention of a mobile chair that changed the way the severely disabled lived their lives. This film is jolly and a real heart warmer once you come to terms with Robin’s struggles. Other notable performances are by Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey) , Tom Hollander (The Night Manager), Amit Shah (The Hundred-Foot Journey), Hugh Bonneville (Paddington), Stephen Mangan (Episodes) and Dean Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones). Andy Serkis (actor – Rise of the Planet of the Apes) directs and Jonathan Cavendish (producer – Bridget Jones Diary), Robin and Diana’s son produces. Overall I give Breathe 5/5.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

The classic novel by Agatha Christie is transformed in this new adaptation by Kenneth Branagh. Hercule Poirot, the world-famous detective needs a holiday so his friend suggests a 3 day trip on the Orient Express, which his father owns. Poirot is enjoying his first class experience until a passenger is murdered in the middle of the night. The train travelling from Istanbul to Paris gets grounded by an avalanche in the Swiss mountains so there is nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. As the tagline goes, everyone is a suspect. This film depicts the era of the 1930s down to the finest detail. Kenneth Branagh’s moustache is also a great costume piece. This murder mystery will become a classic for years to come. There is a reason Agatha Christie is the best selling novelist of all time. Her stories are timeless. An all star ensemble cast feature: Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn) as Hercule Poirot, Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liaisons), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast), Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean), Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love), Olivia Colman (The Night Manager), Tom Bateman (Snatched), Leslie Odom, Jr. (Red Tails), Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Derek Jacobi (Frasier), Lucy Boynton (Sing Street), Sergei Polunin (The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall) and Marwan Kenzari (Wolf). Overall I give the Murder on the Orient Express 5/5.

Paddington 2 (2017)

Image result for paddington 2 poster

The sequel to the well-loved Paddington (2014) definitely lives up to the original. Based on the Paddington Bear stories by Michael Bond, Paddington 2 continues Paddington’s story. He has settled in with the Browns and now is friends with all the neighbours. In Mr Gruber’s Antiques shop he finds the perfect present for Aunt Lucy’s birthday, a pop up book of London. The book written by Madame Kozlova whose fair is in town turns out to be very valuable and is stolen! Paddington is in the wrong place at the wrong time as he tries to catch the thief and now he is in prison. It is up to the Browns to try and catch the real thief. This lovely and delightful tale will put smiles on the faces of both children and adults. This film features a quintessentially British cast:  Michael Gambon (voice) (Path to War), Imelda Staunton (voice) (Vera Drake), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Ben Whishaw (voice) (The Hollow Crown), Madeline Harris (Man Down), Samuel Joslin (The Impossible), Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Jim Broadbent (Iris), Julie Walters (Billy Elliot) , Ben Miller (Johnny English), Jessica Hynes (W1A), Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Brendan Gleeson (Into the Storm- 2009) and Tom Davis (Free Fire). Overall I give Paddington 2 5/5.

Other films I have seen are The Florida Project (2017) and Jurassic Park (1993).

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

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