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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂