September Cinema goings

This was initially going to just be a review of Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood but I decided to include a couple of others I saw in the cinema. A Rainy Day in New York was one I went to for the actors and even though the performances were good, Woody Allen’s direction and writing did not work. Animals, directed by Sophie Hyde, was a screening I attended on my shift at the small cinema I volunteer at. Bizarrely, no one turned up. Below, I’m going to examine why these films have not done so well. Plus what I think of the latest Tarantino.

Hello readers,

This was initially going to just be a review of Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood but I decided to include a couple of others I saw in the cinema this month. A Rainy Day in New York was one I went to for the actors and even though the performances were good, Woody Allen’s direction and writing did not work. Animals, directed by Sophie Hyde, was a screening I attended on my shift at the small cinema where I volunteer. Bizarrely, no-one turned up. Below, I’m going to examine why these films have not done so well. Plus what I think of the latest Tarantino.

A Rainy Day in New York

A Rainy Day in New York (2019)
A Rainy Day in New York Poster

As a fan of Timothée Chalamet and his Oscar nominated performance in ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (Now on Netflix) I wanted to see this film for his performance. I saw it in a cinema in Turkey on holiday this summer. It has yet to be released in the UK or US. The film has faced lots of controversy due to allegations against writer and director Woody Allen. I’m not here to debate his actions but let me just say that I do not agree with them and by watching the film I am in no way defending Woody Allen. Many of the cast have also tried to distance themselves from the film and have donated their salaries to the charity ‘Time’s Up’ which fights for fair treatment of men and women in many industries but specifically the Hollywood business.

Now on to the film. The basic premise involves college couple Gatsby (Chalamet) and Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) going to New York City for an interview Ashleigh has landed with a director. Gatsby wants to turn the weekend into showing her his favourite spots as a New York Native and meeting his family. They quickly get separated as Ashleigh gets involved in the dramas of the director (Liev Schreiber), his screenwriter (Jude Law)and hotshot actor Francisco Vega (Diego Luna). Gatsby connects with his ex-girlfriend’s younger sister, Chan (Selena Gomez) and ends up taking her to the activities.

The synopsis doesn’t sound so bad but the writing and many plot points turned this film into a sexist, unbelievable film. For starters, all the characters speak to each other as though they are doing a PhD in linguistics. The language is filled with metaphors and references that the target audience, 16-24, would not understand. I certainly did not understand it neither did the person I went with. As for the sexism, Ashleigh goes to do a one hour interview with a director and ends up having emotional and physical affairs with three different older men in one day. She is a smart young woman and seeing all these older men taking advantage of her is so remnant of the #MeToo movement that Allen is involved in its almost funny. Most people would not just abandon their boyfriends to go off with older men despite how clever or sexy they are. Ashleigh was also playing the part of the dumb blond. She could never remember which hotel she was staying in. She may never have been to New York except for once in her childhood but anyone can remember one name.

Ashleigh’s naivety and Gatsby’s pursuit of Chan despite once dating her sister and being in a relationship are some of the points of the film that really did not work for me. Also, the coincidences of people just happening to run into each other was too unbelievable. Once or twice for the rom com effect maybe but New York is not as small as it appeared to be in this film. The ending where Chan and Gatsby just know to meet in the same place was cute but too far-fetched. Another scene where Gatsby’s mother confesses to being an escort before she met his father didn’t add anything to the plot. This is practically the only scene we see them interact.

One other issue I had was that despite having smartphones, the film could have been set in the 80s/90s. The characters never went on social media which is an every day necessity of Generation Z or took any photos. They only used their phones for the occasional text or call. I think if you’re going to write a film in modern day New York you have to use the technology and environment of the present day. You could tell that it was written by someone who is not familiar with what the younger generation actually do or talk about.

Overall the actors did the best with what they had but it just felt like any other Woody Allen film from days gone by. I half expected Diane Keaton to pop up in a baggy suit. 2/5.

Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood

Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Quentin Tarantino, Kurt Russell, Damon Herriman, Timothy Olyphant, Mike Moh, Margot Robbie, Margaret Qualley, and Julia Butters in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood Poster

I finally got around to seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film. It was definitely not what I expected but after reflecting for a few weeks was typical of Tarantino’s personal style, elevated by the talented cast. I am not a huge fan of Tarantino having seen about half of his filmography which is not hard as he has only made nine films. My favourite is Inglorious Basterds but Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood is definitely up there. I really enjoyed the setting and aesthetic of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The film revolves around several characters, many stars from the time. Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), an action star is becoming edged out of the business and feels like his glory days are over. His friend and stunt man, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) is struggling with his own life being over and how he’s going to survive in his trailer.

Rick lives next door to Hollywood director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and his wife, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). They are rarely seen together as Roman is always away filming. Sharon is often seen with her ex, Jay Sebring (Emile Hirsch). Rick is trying to get more roles as the leading man but ends up doing many guest TV episodes as the one off villain. His agent, Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) suggests he find more leading man roles otherwise the public will start to see him as the villain.

Meanwhile, Cliff has his own plot going on as he meets Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) from a nearby cult run by ‘Charlie’ who is actually Charles Manson. I was aware that the story evolved around Sharon Tate and Charles Manson and thought it would show the famous murder but it had a more spectacular, fictonal ending. Anyway, Cliff visits the ranch where the cult live to check on an old friend, George Spahn (Bruce Dern).

Other highlights include Sharon going to the cinema to see her new film and not being recognised; Rick being told by his young co-star ‘that was some of the best acting I’ve ever seen’; a fight between Cliff and Bruce Lee and Brad Pitt shirtless on a roof. The ending was in true Tarantino style, violent and over the top. It involved members of the cult breaking into Rick’s house and ends with mauling, stabbing and one of the intruders being torched by Rick’s flame gun. Although the violence was over the top for the film, it was true to Tarantino’s style.

Overall I really enjoyed the film and the Hollywood setting really made it for me. The calibre of acting was amazing and it was great to see Leo and Brad vibing off each other. The script was great and all the shop fronts, cars, costumes and props really helped you believe it was 1969. 4/5.

Animals

Animals (2019)
Animals Poster

I had not heard much about this film other than seeing in it on the programme but I think it was a shame that no one turned up to see it. It had a quality that really drew you to the characters and I certainly became invested in their story. It centres on two women, Laura and Tyler, roommates and best friends living in Ireland. They party most nights but when Laura finds a connection with musician Jim, she tries to pull away from her life with Tyler.

The raw honesty in this film, based on a book by Emma Jane Unsworth, was one of the best parts about it. Female friendships are often shown as rock solid and always loving and supportive but the rockiness and co-dependency of Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler’s (Alia Shawkat) friendship was really refreshing to see. We can see the world through both of their eyes. Laura is fed up of being told how great she is by Tyler despite not doing any work. She claims to be a writer but has only done 10 pages in the last decade. Tyler constantly tells her how talented she is but when it comes to actually writing Laura draws a blank and goes back to drinking and partying with Tyler.

Tyler meanwhile doesn’t seem to have many ambitions other than having a brilliant night every night. Her outfits are outrageous and cool. Clothes we all wish we could pull off before throwing on jeans and a nice top. She is very insecure about Laura’s whirlwind relationship with Jim and their engagement seems to be the catalyst to set off the divide between them. Tyler turns 30 but doesn’t feel like she should clean up her act until Laura moves out.

Laura seeing her wild little sister have a baby and settled into family life drives her to want to marry Jim but the pair don’t actually have that much in common. The hopelessness and pressure to write something good was greatly shown by Laura. She had a fear of never being brilliant so didn’t really try.

I think that no one turned up as it had not been greatly advertised and most of the cast and crew aren’t widely known. Marketing is so important in today’s era when there is so much choice.

Overall I enjoyed the film and was an honest portrait of women with no male gaze thanks to the female director, Sophie Hyde. An enjoyable watch that will make you feel better about your own failures. 3/5.

This concludes my three films for this post. No 5/5s for this week but not every film you see is going to be amazing. They all had their own qualities though.

Other films I have enjoyed recently are Dead in a Week… Or Your Money Back; The Back-Up Plan and Tall Girl. Now that I am back at university, I hope to start going to the cinema more often.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

Romantic Comedies are now promoting smart, successful and powerful women… and they’re still funny

Charlize Theron plays Charlotte Field, the Secretary of State of the United States. She has all the power, a team of advisers and not much down time. Her love interest, Fred Flarsky, played by Seth Rogen is a journalist who’s just been fired and dresses like he’s going to a 90s rave. Charlotte holds all the power between the two and it is her career on the line throughout the film.

Hello readers,

It’s been a while since I have done a post, just over six weeks but with university ending for this year and England suddenly becoming a warm country I haven’t found the time. I then saw a great film last night that I knew would make a great review. Long Shot starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen is a romantic comedy but one I had not seen before with the woman more powerful than her love interest. The way of Hollywood and other film industries is that the woman will have a job as a secretary/bakery owner/journalist/teacher or something else. These jobs are, of course all valid and necessary but her male love interest will be a banker/CEO/policeman/her boss or someone with more authority and power. In Long Shot, the roles are flipped.

Long Shot Poster

Charlize Theron plays Charlotte Field, the Secretary of State of the United States. She has all the power, a team of advisers and not much down time. Her love interest, Fred Flarsky, played by Seth Rogen is a junkie journalist who is forced to quit his job and dresses like he’s going to a 90s rave. Charlotte holds all the power between the two and it is her career on the line throughout the film.

Although of course, this is still the real world and the United States of America so even though Charlotte is successful, she is still treated as unequal to the male politicians in the film. She is talks about being asked what her skincare routine is, what designer she is wearing or being treated as just a pretty face. She has to work twice as hard as the men just to be taken seriously as a politician.

The film showed me that women in positions of power often have to fight harder for longer to gain the respect that men seem to gain more easily. The President of the United States in the film played by Bob Odenkirk and is a TV star who previously played the president on a TV show then decided to run for office. I thought that was a fun twist and The President decides he won’t be running for a second term to get into movie acting which he sees as more ambitious then being POTUS.

The main story of the film is that Fred leaves his job then goes to a benefit with his successful friend, Lance, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr. They run into Charlotte who used to be Fred’s babysitter when he was a teenager. Charlotte decides that to up her humour points, she has to hire Fred to write her speeches. The two go on a tour promoting Charlotte’s ‘bees, trees and seas’ environmental plan that she has been passionate about since she was 16.

While touring around the world, Fred and Charlotte reconnect and get to know each other better. Fred helps Charlotte to relax more and develop interests outside of her job. As this is a Seth Rogen film, he off course smokes weed and one hilarious scene involves Charlotte and Fred going clubbing in Paris after having taken drugs. Charlotte then has to deal with a hostage situation whilst still high.

The villain of the film, Parker Wembley played by Andy Serkis in some prosthetics, runs Wembley News that makes ridiculous claims and tries to discredit Charlotte. He continues trying to get a meeting with her after she persistently turns him down. It is his actions that almost ruin Charlotte’s career.

This film is laugh out loud funny which was not compromised despite the politics and feminism woven throughout the plot. There were no politically incorrect jokes or degrading comments made about women that were not self-aware or seen as bad within the film.

My friend Terry who I went to see the film with said that she liked the way that Charlotte “manages to achieve her goals without compromising her beliefs and still get the guy.” Terry also said that Charlotte “felt really real to me. She felt like a real person. You don’t often feel that in rom coms, especially with the female characters.” I agree with Terry and I think that a big part of the reason we both liked the film was that Charlotte was a smart successful woman but she could still be vulnerable and she still had feelings and hurdles to overcome in the film with her romantic life and her job.

I loved this film and Seth and Charlize had great chemistry that helped make their relationship seem believable. If you like rom coms but are tired of the man always being in power and the woman shown as weak, sexualised, ditsy or nerdy then this is the film for you. It is a 15 and there are some raunchy scenes but nothing too intense, it is a rom com after all.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

P.S. Other films I have enjoyed since last writing a blog post are Shazam!, Dumbo, Avengers: Endgame, Wild Rose, Wine Country, Ideal Home, Dog Days, The Perfect Date and The Last Summer.

TV series I have loved watching since my last post are The Society, Dead To Me, Now Apocalypse, Timeless, Z Nation, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Durrells, Special and On My Block.

Strong Women in Film

Felicity Jones was powerful as Ruth and even though small in stature, she had command and the authority that Ruth had and still has. The portrayal of Rut Bader Ginsburg really inspired me that even though she had been pushed aside, Ruth knew her place was to fight for equality. Her daughter also inspired her as she turned to feminist activism. This film is really one to watch, not just for Felicity Jones’ amazing outfits, inspiring performance but Ruth’s amazing life story.

Hi readers,

I will discussing films that I have seen last month with strong and inspiring female characters. In the past, actresses were there just to be rescued or as someone for the actor to talk to or monologue to. Almost like a plot device. There have been many films featuring women and I feel like society’s attitudes towards women has become more accepting and inclusive. We are getting biopics about amazing women such as the female NASA mathematicians in Hidden Figures that helped put a man in space; Wonder Woman, the first superhero film that I have seen starring a woman; films about female musicians, Amy and Whitney; films remade with a female cast, Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 8, What Men Want, The Hustle. I will be looking at some film’s I have seen last month with a strong female lead.

On the Basis of Sex

Felicity Jones in On the Basis of Sex (2018)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is famous for work toward gender equality and her position as Supreme Court Justice. This origin story shows how she progressed from Harvard Housewife to the woman she is today. Ruth was one of the first women to attend Harvard Law school and when her husband Marty was diagnosed with a serious illness she took his classes for him. She graduates but no law firms in New York will employ a female lawyer in 1959. She becomes a lecturer but when one case opens her eyes to the injustice towards a man then all women, she must take a stand. Felicity Jones was powerful as Ruth and even though small in stature, she had command and the authority that Ruth had and still has. The portrayal of Rut Bader Ginsburg really inspired me that even though she had been pushed aside, Ruth knew her place was to fight for equality. Her daughter also inspired her as she turned to feminist activism. This film is really one to watch, not just for Felicity Jones’ amazing outfits, inspiring performance but Ruth’s amazing life story.

Captain Marvel

Brie Larson in Captain Marvel (2019)

The first female lead Marvel film was always going to be good but Brie Larson as Carol Danvers just took it to a place beyond anything I thought it could go. The main message running through was that even though Carol had gained Kree powers and could blast people, she was powerful and strong when she was human. Her determination and strength was shown in a beautiful montage of Carol being knocked down at various ages but then standing up stronger and braver than before. Brie Larson’s comedic timing was on point and I believed that she really didn’t have an memories before waking up in Hala, the Kree city. Maria, Carol’s best friend and fellow pilot was also a great female character. Despite being a single mother and black, she became an Air Force pilot. When Carol came back with no memory, she helped her remember her life and their adventures together. Her daughter, Monica who admired Carol as her role model was also a great female character. Definitely one to take young girls who need self-belief and the confidence to achieve their dreams.

A Private War

This film was very powerful and more shocking and sad than the previous two but Rosamund Pike as the war journalist, Marie Colvin was striking. Marie goes to war zone after war zone reporting on the most horrific things she can find and does it with a bravery that most people don’t have in them. A male journalist in her situation might retire after the trauma and danger she went through but she kept going even after having a stint in a rehabilitation facility due to her PTSD. In each war zone: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria, Marie felt compelled to share the horrors of war and what was happening to the civilians who had nothing to do with the conflict. Marie also struggles with her personal life, her husband leaves her, she drinks and smokes way way too much, she doesn’t leave enough time for friends and after losing an eye, she becomes depressed.

I loved this film for it’s honesty and showing what war is really like not for the soldiers or terrorists but for the people, the citizens. War really took a toll on Marie and her writing was so visual that she is regarded as one of the best journalists of her time. The ending shocked me as I didn’t know much of Marie’s story and I won’t spoil it here but throughout the film there is a countdown in years to Syria. Would be happy to watch this again.

The Princess Diaries

An older film than the others in this post but she a great film for women. Mia, a normal, socially awkward teenager is told that she is the heir to the Genovian throne, a fictional European country. She starts ‘Princess Lessons’ with her Grandmother, Clarisse, the Queen of Genovia. Mia realises that some people just want fame and not everyone will be as nice as her artistic supportive mum or best friend Lily. This film is full of laughs and I have seen it many a time. Mia is a role model to young girls everywhere as she chooses to use her position to change things in the world for the better. Her house is also really cool. I would encourage any woman, young, old or in-between to watch this uplifting female empowering film. The sequel is also worth a look.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Lee Israel’s motivations are relatable, she can’t sell her work and is living in a cockroach invested apartment in New York. Her actions are not well thought out as she starts forging letters from great literary figures like Dorothy Parker when her work as a celebrity biographer is no longer relevant. She starts selling her letters, claiming her cousin found them in his loft and then ropes in her friend and fellow writer, Jack Hock to help her pass off the letters as originals. It works until it doesn’t. Lee doesn’t have much luck in her personal life, her girlfriend left her and her new love interest at the book shop unravels when the letters are discovered as forged. The film itself is based on Lee’s book she wrote on the ordeal and why she did it. Melissa McCarthy as Lee was one of the best of her career and a real change from her usual comedy such as Bridesmaids, Tammy, Identity Thief and Life of the Party. This film showed Lee’s ingenuity and creativity when she had no other way of making money. Someone else may have accepted a job in a different field but Lee persevered in her chosen profession. A great film that showed the resilience of women.

Isn’t it Romantic

Rebel Wilson in Isn't It Romantic (2019)

An anti-rom-com with Rebel Wilson in her first lead role that made fun of every troupe while simultaneously fulfilling them all. Rebel plays Natalie an architect who loves her job but wishes she did more than design parking garages and watch her friend Josh stare at the beautiful woman on the billboard outside her window. When Natalie bumps her head she ends up in a cliche rom-com with hot doctors, clean streets and handsome men falling in love with her. She doesn’t know how to leave but when Josh starts dating the woman from the billboard; yoga ambassador Isabella, Natalie thinks that breaking them up will get her out of this rosy, annoying world. This film was a feel-good romantic comedy while simultaneously making fun of all the cliches such as women fighting at work, Natalie’s friend/assistant, Whitney suddenly becomes her rival; random bursting into song; perfect flash mob dance sequences. Natalie realises at the end that to escape the ‘perfect’ world she needs to love herself not any man and I think that is a really female empowering message. I love Rebel Wilson in any role she does and this was no exception.

I Feel Pretty

Another film where a woman feels underappreciated then hits her head. This time Amy Schumer is Renee, an under-confident woman not happy with her size, her dating life or her dead end job in a basement in Chinatown working for Lilly Leclair as an IT specialist. After falling off a Soul Cycle bike and hitting her head, Renee wakes up believing that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. This gives her more confidence to pursue her dream job as a receptionist for Lilly Leclair, working in their Fifth Avenue office. Her friends who have always loved her are confused as it everyone else as Renee hasn’t changed at all, she just thinks she has. When Renee becomes close to Lilly Leclair head honcho, Avery Leclair, she starts leaving her friends and new boyfriend, Ethan behind. Being confident makes her self-centred and vain. I thought Amy Schumer was great in this role and the message that you are perfect just the way you are and can achieve your dreams with the right attitude and self-belief was really strong and moving for me.

20th Century Women

This film about 3 strong women raising a teenage boy in 1979 was a true to life look at what struggles women face such as teenage pregnancy, ovarian cancer, single motherhood, rebellious children. The atmosphere of the film and the women interacting with each other intellectually and taking Jamie under their wings while fighting stereotypes and discussing menstruation, sex and womanhood was one I haven’t seen in many films and made me feel seen as a woman. Setting the film in 1979 was important as periods and other female ‘issues’ were regarded as even more taboo at that time. The love that Dorothea felt for her son made you sad that he kept pushing her away but also you understood he just wanted to be free and live his life. A great story and look at life in California in the 1970s.

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

My Weekly Recommendation // February 2019

I really enjoyed this film. The bizarre alternate reality provided a satire view on corporate America and what it could be like if powerful companies had more influence. The film was clearly a protest against corporate greed with the CEO of WorryFree, a cost-free way of living, being a billionaire and the antagonist of the film.

Hello readers,

I’ve been watching more films recently and wanted to share some recommendations from the past week that I have seen either in the cinema or at home. There’s a mix of sci-fi, comedy, drama and alternate realities. I hope that something I have enjoyed this week sparks an interest for you.

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Sorry to Bother You Poster

Set in an alternate reality Oakland, Sorry to Bother You shows what it can be like to climb the corporate ladder in Capitalist America. Cassius Green takes a job as a telemarketer at RegalView and quickly learns that using his ‘white voice’ will help him advance to power caller, a highly coveted position, available via the golden elevator. When Cassius starts earning more, he soon realises that being rich and successful, does not mean happy. His girlfriend, Detroit is a feminist activist determined to protest against the state of the world.

I really enjoyed this film. The bizarre alternate reality provided a satirical view on corporate America and what it could be like if powerful companies had more influence. The film was clearly a protest against corporate greed with the CEO of WorryFree, a cost-free way of living, being a billionaire and the antagonist of the film. There were many hilarious jokes, relatable moments, wacky incidents. The cast were amazing and the script was well-written. I would happily watch it again and recommend to anyone to go along to the cinema to take in this amazing film. I saw it in a sold out screening so it has been very popular. The ending took a weird direction but in an alternate reality, anything goes. 5/5.

Cast:

Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius Green

Tessa Thompson as Detroit

Jermaine Fowler as Salvador or Sal, Cassius’ best friend and fellow RegalView worker.

Omari Hardwick as Mr. ________, a nameless manager who takes Cassius under his wing when he becomes a power caller.

Terry Crews as Sergio, Cassius’ uncle. Cassius lives in Sergio’s basement and is motivated to become a power caller when Sergio learns he many lose his house.

Michael X. Sommers as Johnny, Cassius’ manager.

Steven Yeun as Squeeze, organiser of the worker’s union at RegalView.

Armie Hammer as Steve Lift, CEO of WorryFree and writer of best seller, I’m on Top.

Super 8 (2011)

Super 8 (2011)
Super 8 Poster

A sci-fi film with a strong element of family relationships. It’s 1979 and Joe and his friends are making a movie together. They are all around 13/14 years of age. While filming at a train station they witness a monumental train crash. Afterwards, many strange incidents occur, suddenly making real life way more interesting than the zombie film they envisioned. Joe is also struggling with the sudden death of his mother and his deputy police chief father is too busy to listen to him. Joe and his friends try and save their town from a mysterious creature.

I really loved this film for many reasons. The writer/ director, J.J. Abrams and producer, Steven Spielberg have made some of my favourite films and TV shows such as Star Trek (2009), Lost, Jurassic Park, ET, Ready Player One and so many more. It was also interesting from a film student point of view to see the sort of equipment the average kid would have access to while making a film. The technology was more advanced than I had realised for that time. The actors were all superb with Joel Courtney as Joe in his first role! and Elle Fanning as Alice really standing out. They both struggle with strict fathers but don’t let that stop them making the film. It was great to see a big Hollywood film put children as the main actors and most of them had little or no previous experience. I also enjoyed the 70s setting of the cars, clothes and general culture. Family played a big part of the film and I found myself shedding a few tears at the end which I haven’t done at a sci-fi film before. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes sci-fi, family orientated or kid-centred films. 5/5.

Cast:

Joel Courtney as Joe, the makeup wizard who also makes models of trains.

Elle Fanning as Alice, a convincing actress who borrows his dad’s car.

Ryan Lee as Cary, a great zombie actor who always brings explosives.

Riley Griffiths as Charles, the writer/director of the film and Joe’s best friend. He has many siblings and his parents always look out for Joe.

Gabriel Basso as Martin, the lead of their film who isn’t as clever as the others but has plenty of talent.

Zach Mills as Preston, another actor and general helper. Often left behind to cover.

Kyle Chandler as Joe’s father, Deputy Jackson Lamb

Ron Eldard as Alice’s father, still angry over his wife leaving.

Noah Emmerich as Colonel Nelec, he leads the military presence that take over the town.

Glynn Turman as Dr. Woodward, the kid’s science teacher who is the key to the monster’s appearance.

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)

Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Gemma Arterton, and Sennia Nanua in The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
The Girl with All the Gifts Poster

Based on the best-selling book, The Girl with All the Gifts tells the post-apocalypse story of Melanie who is kept in a military compound and spends her time in a classroom, buckled into a wheelchair. A zombie apocalypse has happened and the remaining survivors are living in military camps across the UK. Melanie loves her teacher, Miss Justineau as she tells the class wonderful stories of princesses, goddesses, Romans, Greeks and warriors. When the base is over run, Melanie realises that she too is a ‘hungry’ and with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks, Dr. Caldwell and a couple of soldiers, she travels through the dystopian wasteland of England to reach Beacon, the next place of hope.

I was really excited for this film as I read the book a couple of years ago and greatly enjoyed it. The film was good but did not deliver the same enjoyment as the book. A few big points were changed and the romance between Sergeant Parks and Miss Justineau was completely written out and the ethnicity of Miss Justineau and Melanie was swapped around. It was entertaining and the acting was okay but it did not live up to my expectations. I would not watch again in a hurry. 3/5.

Cast:

Sennia Nanua as Melanie, Miss Justineau’s best student and Dr. Caldwell’s last chance.

Gemma Arterton as Miss Justineau, Melanie’s teacher who feels great compassion for all the children in her class.

Paddy Considine as Sgt. Parks, the no-nonsense leader who grows to trust Melanie.

Glenn Close as Dr. Caldwell, the scientist who wants to use the children to make a cure.

Anthony Welsh as Dillon, a private who goes on the expedition to Beacon.

Fisayo Akinade as Kieran Gallagher, a private that Melanie trusts who also goes on the trip to Beacon.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Poster

This epic animation took four years to make and certainly delivered. It focuses on teenager, Miles Morales, he has just started at his new boarding school but still sneaks out to hang with his Uncle and paint graffiti. He is bitten by a radioactive spider and gets all sorts of powers. They get him into many embarrassing situations but after witnessing Peter Parker’s death, he takes on the responsibility to stop The Kingpin from destroying reality by trying to bring back his dead family. Miles gets help from many different Spider-People that have been brought to his reality. He struggles with believing in himself and it doesn’t help that his dad’s a cop.

I loved this film. It has received a lot of praise and is nominated for an Oscar so I was pleased when I eventually got around to seeing it. The animation was brilliant as unique, often going back to comic book lay out. The cast of voices is hugely talented and they helped bring life to some amazing characters. There were many hilarious parts but also some great messages about helping your friends and being brave. I would recommend to any superhero fans or anyone that is looking for something different from an animation. 5/5.

Voice cast:

Shameik Moore as Miles Morales

Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker, an older Spider-Man who has let himself go in his reality.

Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy, who became Spider-Man instead of Peter Parker in her reality.

Mahershala Ali as Uncle Aaron, Miles’ cool uncle.

Brian Tyree Henry as Jefferson Davis, Miles’ police officer father.

John Mulaney as Peter Porker/ Spider-Ham, a pig who is also Spider-Man.

Kimiko Glenn as Peni Parker, from the future, she co-pilots her robot with a spider.

Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir, from the 1930s, in a monochrome universe.

Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, Peter Parker’s guardian who helps the Spider gang in their mission.

Zoë Kravitz as Mary Jane, Peter Parker’s widow

Kathryn Hahn as Dr. Olivia Octavius, Wilson Fisk’s scientist with a superhero alter-ego

Liev Schreiber as The Kingpin, the evil owner of Alchemax.

Chris Pine as Peter Parker, the first Spider-Man who dies trying to stop the Kingpin.

Almost Famous (2000)

Kate Hudson in Almost Famous (2000)

This cult classic from 2000 may be old but it tells a great rock and roll story. 15 year old William convinces Rolling Stone Magazine that he is a legitimate music journalist and goes on tour with upcoming rock band, StillWater. He is trying to write his piece but also has many experiences along the way. He makes friends with Band Aid, Penny Lane, who is romancing Russell, the guitarist of StillWater. William learns that rock stars are not all glitz and glamour and they aren’t always your friend. It is set in the early 1970s, the golden age of rock.

I really enjoyed the film. I love rock music especially from the 1970s and it was interesting to see the music industry through the eyes of a teenager. The acting was great, Kate Hudson stood out as Penny Lane and Frances McDormand as Elaine, William’s strict mother. It had many funny moments while not holding back on drama and entertainment. A classic for a reason. 5/5.

Cast:

Billy Crudup as Russell, leader of StillWater and the person William becomes closest to in the band.

Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, 16 year old Band Aid, who likes to runaway from life by touring with bands.

Frances McDormand as Elaine, William’s mother

Patrick Fugit as William, rock fan and wannabee journalist.

Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe, member of StillWater.

Zooey Deschanel as Anita, William’s sister. She leaves home when William is 11 to escape her oppressive mother and to become an air stewardess.

Anna Paquin as Polexia, Penny’s fellow Band Aid

Noah Taylor as Dick Roswell, the band’s manager

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs, editor of Cream magazine who gives advice to William.

Jimmy Fallon as StillWater’s new manager brought in to bring some order to the tour.

I have watched a diverse selection this week and I hope that you are inspired to watch something I enjoyed.

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

A Star is Born / A Simple Favour

Hello readers,

I know another post so soon is not characteristic for me but yesterday I saw ‘A Star is Born’ and it really moved me so I couldn’t not write about it. I will also give my thoughts on ‘A Simple Favour’ another great film that I saw last week.

A Star is Born

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018)

This film was one of the few films that has affected me in such a physical way. I have been known to cry at many films but this one elicited a different reaction. It’s beautiful story and combined with the original sounds and brilliant performances by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born moved me. I felt strongly for the characters and their pain which stayed with me for several hours. It was as if the events had happened to me and not just on the screen.

As this film is the fifth version of this tale, you may think there was nothing left to do with the story but this film proved that this simply isn’t the case. Lady Gaga plays Ally, a waitress who sings in drag club. She isn’t pursuing a career successfully due to music industry executives telling her she has the right voice but the wrong face. When famous rock country singer Jackson Maine (Cooper) stumbles across her performing, he immediately recognises her talent. She is invited to sing on stage with him and they perform her original song. She quickly becomes successful while Jackson is struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction and tinnitus.

All the songs were written especially for the film and always express the character’s feelings at that point within the film. My personal favourite is Shallow which is the first song Jackson and Ally sing together.

There has been a lot of buzz around this film and for good reason. Even though this is Lady Gaga’s first film, I will be disappointed if she doesn’t receive award nominations. I give A Star is Born 5/5.

Cast:

Lady Gaga (American Horror Story) as Ally

Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) as Jackson Maine

Sam Elliott (Road House) as Bobby, Jackson’s manager/brother

Andrew Dice Clay (The Adventures of Ford Fairlane) as Lorenzo, Ally’s father

Rafi Gavron (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) as Rez, Ally’s manager

Anthony Ramos (Younger) as Ramon, Ally’s co-worker and friend

A Simple Favour

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in A Simple Favor (2018)

A Simple Favour really surprised me with it’s plot. The trailer gave me some ideas as to what the film would entail but I was truly surprised. The film follows mummy vlogger Stephanie played by Anna Kendrick becoming friends with Emily, a fellow mum at her son’s school. They drink martinis together and tell secrets. Emily is a very mysterious person and never reveals anything about her past. She also disappears for a while with no explanation. Even her husband Sean and son Nicky don’t know her secrets. She is always impeccably dressed in suits and works in the city as a PR manager.

After Emily goes missing, Stephanie tries to find her. I don’t want to say much more as it would spoil the film but what happened next was shocking and unexpected.

Anna Kendrick was amazing as always and excelled in a darker role. Her humorous tone and attitude really worked well with her character. Blake Lively was also very different and surprised me with her performance. Her whole body changed into her character, every movement or look was carefully executed. Her outfits and the decor of Emily and Sean’s house added to the rich glamour of their world.

I give A Simple Favour 5/5.

Cast

Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) as Stephanie

Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) as Emily

Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as Sean

Ian Ho (Willa) as Nicky

Joshua Satine (Godless) as Miles, Stephanie’s son

Other films I have seen recently that I would recommend are Faces Places (2018), Fight Club (1999) and Superbad (2007).

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

Venom and Johnny English Strikes Again Review

Hello readers,

I know that this is my first post in over a month but due to going back to university, I haven’t been to the cinema that much. A couple of weeks ago, I did however see the highly anticipated anti-hero film Venom and the third instalment of the Johnny English films. I remember seeing the second one in the cinema when I was 12 so I thought it would only be right to see this one in the cinema too.

Venom

Tom Hardy in Venom (2018)

This new anti-hero film has changed the game for the superhero genre. Eddie Brock a journalist whose life goes downhill after investigating a laboratory trying to harness the power of symbiotes. He accidentally joins with an alien called Venom and gains immense skills and strength.

Set in San Francisco made a refreshing change from the Avengers setting of New York. The humanisation of Venom talking through Eddie adds a comedy element to the film. Tom Hardy plays the ‘bad boy’ character very well as was evident in Legend (2015) but his resistance to Venom killing and hurting people shows that Eddie does have heart. He also tries working with Venom instead of rejecting him completely.

Many critics wrote off the film but as a fan of Marvel and comic book films, I really enjoyed it. It had the right amount of action, comedy, special effects, rebellion against evil corporations and romance. As the superhero genre had really taken off in the past few years, perhaps critics are getting annoyed at reviewing films that won’t win any high profile awards.

I liked the romance between Eddie and Anne, it added a softness to a pretty intense film. When she leaves Eddie, it truly breaks his heart and is motive for his revenge on Carlton Drake’s empire.

Overall I think this film is great for any Tom Hardy or superhero movie fans but not one to watch if you like something clever. 4/5.

Cast:

Tom Hardy (Inception) as Eddie Brock / Venom

Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine) as Anne Weying

Riz Ahmed (Rogue One) as Carlton Drake / Riot

Scott Haze (Child of God) as Security Chief Roland Treece

Jenny Slate (Zootropolis) as Dr. Dora Skirth

Peggy Lu (Awkward) as Mrs Chen

Johnny English Strikes Again

Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)

The third instalment of the Johnny English trilogy picks up years later when Johnny has retired from the world of espionage to become a geography teacher. He however has not taught his students much geography. The film starts with Mr English teaching all his young students how to be a spy.

When all the identities of all the MI7 agents are revealed to the public, the Prime Minister reluctantly recruits English to investigate. Reunited with his sidekick Bough, English travels to the South of France to find the source of the hackers.

Meanwhile, tech genius Jason is proposing an update for the British Government’s systems but is actually the bad guy and is trying to disable the country’s internet.

Johnny English of course would not be complete without laugh out loud gags and scenarios. Some of the best ones in this film include English setting a French restaurant on fire attempting to cook prawns, dancing for a whole night non stop, using virtual reality and accidentally throwing someone off an open top bus and wearing a full knight’s armour.

Rowan Atkinson is hilarious as always and the addition of Emma Thompson as the Prime Minister means their scenes together are comedy gold.

Overall a great family film with a laugh a minute. Comedy films don’t really include much slapstick and visual gags anymore so a reminder of the old days is welcome with Johnny English.

Cast:

Rowan Atkinson (Bean) as Johnny English

Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) as Ophelia

Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) as Prime Minister

Jake Lacy (Carol) as Jason

Ben Miller (Paddington 2) as Bough

Adam James (Doctor Foster) as Pegasus

Other films I have enjoyed recently are American Animals (2018) starring Evan Peters, Heathers (1989) starring Winona Ryder, The Social Network (2010) starring Jesse Eisenberg and BlacKkKlansman (2018) starring John David Washington.

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

My Weekly Recommendations 27th November

Hello readers,

I know it is Monday but I went home from university this weekend so I was extra busy with my parents so apologies for the late post. I will be doing some different posts soon but for now here is another rendition of what I have been watching this (last) week.

Cinema:

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

This film charts a story of two men meeting in 1980s Italy, they initially dislike one another but then they migrate to lovers. Sounds simple, which the plot is, yet it is 100% effective. The beautiful scenery of a hot Italian summer, the French language combined with Italian and English, the sensual soundtrack and costumes all come together to create a romantic love story that also explores being gay in the 80s and lusting after someone older then having to lose them. The main character Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a 17 year old who is a gifted musician at first dislikes the loud all American student that comes to stay for the summer, played by Armie Hammer. He gradually realises his feelings for Oliver(Hammer) are not hate but love. Chalamet’s performance is stand out, his emotions are always written all over his body unless he is trying to hide them. He looks French, his parents holiday in Italy but is American. His accent and piano playing are also spot on. Hammer is also great in his role, knowing when to be forward and play hard to get. Also starring are Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) as Elio’s father, a professor of archaeology who invites Oliver to be his student; Amira Casar (Versailles) as Elio’s mother; Esther Garrel (17 Girls) as Marzia, Elio’s girlfriend who he gradually drifts away from as he becomes closer to Oliver and Victoire Du Bois (From the Land of the Moon) as Chiara, a girl who dances with Oliver and proceeds to lust after him.

A gorgeous film that made me smile and empathise with Elio even though I am not a boy in 1980s Italy. Chalamet made you feel Elio’s jealousy, fear, excitement, sadness, happiness and boredom. He truly brought Elio alive. Overall I give Call Me By Your Name 5/5.

DVD

Two Weeks Notice (2002)

This charming little rom com set in New York City starring Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Sandra Bullock (Miss Congeniality) is definitely a feel good movie if you need to be reminded what it is like to love and not be loved back. Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a lawyer who uses her Harvard education to fight against social injustice. She is offered at random a position as lawyer by George Wade (Grant) who is the face of Wade Corporation, a development company trying to knock down every old building in the Big Apple for their own gain. Lucy, who regularly protests against George’s company accepts the job deciding she can do some good from the inside. She excels at her job and becomes the one George turns to for everything, what outfits to wear to his divorce settlement. Lucy decides he is too demanding and quits for her own health. During her two weeks notice, whilst seeing her replacement, June cosy up to George, Lucy starts to feel one emotion for George she never thought she would: love. She continues to be professional and not let her rare feelings get in the way of quitting. A classic Hugh Grant film in which his character has some shocking similarities to Donald Trump pre 2016 who incidentally turns up for a surprise cameo during a benefit. I liked this film, definitely one to watch if you love Hugh Grant in Love Actually or Sandra Bullock in The Proposal. Also starring are Alicia Witt (88 Minutes) as June Carver, Lucy’s replacement; Dana Ivey (The Adams Family) as Lucy’s tough talking mother; Robert Klein (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) as Lucy’s dad; Heather Burns (You’ve Got Mail) as Meryl, Lucy’s friend and David Haig (My Boy Jack) as Howard, George’s business partner and brother. Overall I give this film 4/5.

Amazon Prime

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

C.I.A agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill, Superman) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer, The Lone Ranger) a KGB operative are forced to work together to reach a common goal in the 1960s when the tension between Russia and the US is at a high point. Both agents have no choice but to work for the mysterious organisation. The film starts with an epic car chase through the streets of Berlin, where Solo and Kuryakin fight each other but are then forced to be a team. They meet Gaby (Alicia Vikander) a car mechanic who’s uncle has connections to the Vinciguerra family. Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) is building a nuclear bomb and Solo, Kuryakin and Gaby must work together to stop their common enemy from destroying the world as they know it. This film is cheesy and a parody to movies of the time, adapted from a television series of the same name but ultimately a good watch. The blossoming romance between Vikander and Hammer who pose as a couple to be wed gives the film a softer edge. There is also violence but it is more comic and entertaining than gruesome. Hugh Grant also appears as a British agent bringing in reinforcements for the final mission. The dynamic between Cavill and Hammer also gives some classic masculinity that Guy Richie, the director is famous for. Also starring are Luca Calvani (When in Rome) as Alexander Vinciguerra, Victoria’s husband and Sylvester Groth (Inglorious Basterds) as Gaby’s Uncle Rudi. Overall I give The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 4/5.

Hope you enjoy my 3 picks this week, other honourable mentions include Sleeping with Other People (2015) and What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012).

Happy Watching,

Robyn