Summer of Cinema: Freaky

It comes as no surprise that Freaky shares the same director (Christopher Landon) as another horror: Happy Death Day as that film also has a comedy trope, time loops. With many of the classic horror plotlines having been used over and over, its refreshing to see someone trying to mix it up a little and also make these films more appealing to those who do not like a simple gore fest. That is also what drew me to this film. It was not going to be doom and gloom, everyone dies. In a comedy horror, you know people will survive.

Dear Readers,

This has never been my favourite genre of film: slasher horror but I made an exception for this one as it stars Kathryn Newton, an actress I love to watch on screen and had the body swap concept which is not a take I have seen on a film featuring a serial killer. The film was like a modern version of the Scream films: set in a small American town, main protagonist is female, killer on the loose, teens at the high school already victims. The comedy aspect from the ‘Freaky Friday’ theme added something different.

I saw the film at a different cinema than my usual and it was very quiet so I got to sit in the centre of the screen with no-one in front of me. The film was easy to get lost in due to the suspense and hopefully none of the cinemagoers sitting at the back saw me jump.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

It comes as no surprise that Freaky shares the same director (Christopher Landon) as another horror: Happy Death Day as that film also has a comedy trope, time loops. With many of the classic horror plotlines having been used over and over, its refreshing to see someone trying to mix it up a little and also make these films more appealing to those who do not like a simple gore fest. That is also what drew me to this film. It was not going to be doom and gloom, everyone dies. In a comedy horror, you know people will survive.

You would be mistaken for thinking that the film had no blood or gore at all. The opening scene establishing the serial killer, The Butcher provides plenty of that. There were some new ways of killing teens that I had not seen before such as with an ancient javelin and a wine bottle down the throat. I definitely was hiding behind my fingers for that one.

We then meet Millie (Newton), an average high-schooler who has retreated within herself after her father’s death. She is invisible at school but hangs out with her friends, Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich). She lives with her mother (Katie Finneran) and older sister, Charlene (Dana Drori) who is a cop. We meet many of the usual high school tropes: the football team, the popular girls, the mean ones. Millie has a role as the team mascot on the cheer squad, a position usually occupied by the ‘loser’ of the film.

When waiting for her mother to pick her up after the homecoming game, Millie is left alone in the dark. Not a good idea with a killer on the prowl. He finds her and in running away she makes it to the football field again. He manages to stab her shoulder with his new weapon, gained in the first scene but before her death, Millie’s sister comes to the rescue.

The next morning, Millie wakes up in the body of the Butcher (Vince Vaughn) and he wakes up as Millie. With help from her friends after they realise the Butcher is actually their friend, the three figure out that they have 24 hours to stab Millie’s body again with the knife, otherwise the swap will be permanent.

Meanwhile, The Butcher as Millie has taken on a whole new look that gets heads turning. It grabs the attention of Millie’s crush, Booker (Uriah Shelton). He also comes to learn of the swap and the pair have a tender moment while Millie is still the Butcher which made for a strange yet funny scene.

The film concludes with a hunt for the killer at the homecoming party held of course, at an abandoned mill where the Butcher resides. There is a second ending where the Butcher comes after Millie and her family but he is finally put to rest.

I enjoyed the teen tropes of the film and that only characters who had wronged Millie or others in some way were victims. The style of the film was great with Millie’s outfit that the Butcher picks being a favourite. There were some gory deaths but they did not take over from the comedy side of the film. The acting was good and just the right tone for this sort of comedy horror. My issues with the film is that there were a couple of jokes made about rape that were in very poor taste and completely unnecessary. That disappointed me as many films and television shows have moved beyond this humour.

Overall, I enjoyed the film and the acting but it was let down by a couple of comments. I give it 4/5.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

Summer of Cinema: Cruella and A Quiet Place Part II

The use of sound in this film elevates it from your usual gore fest filled with horrific creatures and gruesome deaths. One of the characters is deaf and in the sequel she takes over the role of the patriarch and becomes the one to find a safe haven for her family. We get to experience sound the way she does, when the film shifts to her point of view. It was a great technique that helped the viewer relate to a deaf character when this can be tricky to do if you do not know anyone who is deaf in the real world.

Hello Readers,

Welcome to my new series Summer of Cinema. The cinemas have reopened and I together with thousands of others have been going to watch the films that we have been waiting for in the last year. I have made the trip twice this month and I am planning to enjoy the experience many times this summer. I will be continuing my series with a review of every film I see in the cinema this summer, of which I hope there will be many. Time to once again sit back, relax and enjoy the magic of the big screen.

Cruella (2021)

I chose this film for my return to the cinema as I was interested in the concept. A 101 Dalmatians prequel of Cruella in 1970s London and in the fashion world. What’s not to love? The film starts with how Cruella ended up in London as a young child in the 60s and jumps to her life as a common thief with her two friends and their dogs. Cruella who is first known as Estella, gets a simple job at Liberty’s and after an avant-garde unprompted window display, she goes to work for the House of Baroness, a notorious fashion house. Estella then decides to become an even bigger presence in the fashion world than the Baroness and to do this she must unleash her bad side – Cruella.

The film was a bold move for Disney as even though the film is a 12, it is pitched towards a younger audience as well. I think the film bridges the divide between a film for younger audiences and older ones. Many people in the screening were adults. This was a fresh take on a villain’s back story and it created a world that had not been associated with Cruella De Vil in other iterations. Whilst we know Cruella as the dog-napping rich old woman with little joy and a grudge against spotty dogs; Estella in this version is fun, kind-hearted and poor. Later in the film when she takes on her Cruella persona, we see some of the Cruella we have known in other films appear. She is a more toned down version than the original and no dogs are harmed in the film.

One of the best parts of the film for me was the fashion. There were so many wonderful and striking designs made by both the Baroness and Cruella. While the Baroness took measured risks and presented as prim and proper; Cruella smashed the expectations and matched rock’n’roll and feminist angst with a runway show. Seeing Cruella’s ideas to outshine the Baroness get even more outrageous and punk was a fun highlight.

Emma Stone was wonderful in the role and her accents were on point both as Estella and the slightly posher Cruella. She played all facets of Cruella seamlessly. I was initially sceptical of Emma Stone’s casting as Glenn Close gave such an iconic performance as Cruella. My fears definitely were vanquished after seeing the iconic performance that Emma gave. It was like she was born to play the role.

I thought that the other actors were all amazing in their roles, especially Emma Thompson as the villain and the children who played the younger versions of Estella and the gang. My only issue with the whole film was that Estella and her friends were around 11/12 years old then it jumps to 10 years later but the actors playing them in the 1970s look at least 30 and not in their early 20s. Emma Stone could just about pull this off but the other two were pushing it. Once I let this go, I enjoyed the story and let go of realism.

The music for was another iconic part of the film with some great classic 70s tracks that paired with Cruella’s bold fashion pieces created a punk rock London scene that I would love to experience.

Overall I give this film 10/10. Every element was on point and my expectations were lowered as it is a Disney film but I feel like the film was suitable for all audiences especially with the period setting and witty dialogue. If ever there was a prequel or continuation of a well-loved classic to live up to or even surpass the original, it would be Cruella. A warm welcome back to the cinema and a great start to a Summer of Cinema.

A Quiet Place Part II (2021)

In contrast to Cruella, I have been waiting for this film since it was announced that there would be a sequel. I do not normally enjoy ‘horror’ films such as these with monsters and jump scares but A Quiet Place bridges the gap between ingenious filmmaking and scaring for scaring’s sake. At the heart of the films is a family that represents everyone. Their struggle to survive in the post-apocalyptic world, especially after the death of a child and the man of the house touches a nerve with many, especially after the past year.

The use of sound in this film elevates it from your usual gore fest filled with horrific creatures and gruesome deaths. One of the characters is deaf and in the sequel she takes over the role of the patriarch and becomes the one to find a safe haven for her family. We get to experience sound the way she does, when the film shifts to her point of view. It was a great technique that helped the viewer relate to a deaf character when this can be tricky to do if you do not know anyone who is deaf in the real world.

I am especially attached to the characters because of the actors. John Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt play husband and wife as well as John directing both films. This is rare in the film world and of course their on-screen chemistry is reflected by their real life bond. They already know how to move around the other and as they have children of their own, acting as parents is second nature to them. The actors who play the kids, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds are two of the best young actors in Hollywood today and both do excellent jobs reprising their roles in the sequel and picking up where the first film ended.

While a direct sequel, this film also has a flashback to the first day of the apocalypse and we get to see a glimpse of who the family were before they became survivalists. We get to see John Krasinski and their other son again amongst other members of their small town. The town is actually a replica of the one we see in the first film. I personally did not notice any difference but then again three years have passed in between the two films.

We also have a new character introduced, Emmett who takes over John’s role as the adult male. While Emmett does help the family out when they are being pursued by monsters, it is Millicent’s character who assumes his role as the protector and forward thinker. She becomes the one in charge of saving the family after she hears a clue on the radio and goes to search for an island that she believes will be a new home for her family. In the other storyline, we see Emily Blunt step up to protect her new baby and her son, Marcus who gets badly injured at the start of the film.

The family flee their burning house to find somewhere new to hide when they come across a disused flour mill, or so they think. After being pursued by a creature who we get to see up close for the first time, Marcus gets caught in an animal trap and they seek shelter. By coincidence, the mill is being occupied by Emmett, a friend from before the meteor struck. He offers them shelter and after Regan (Simmonds) leaves to find the island, he goes to get her back and the two form a father-daughter bond.

Marcus then steps up as the man of the mill and looks after his baby sibling while his mum ventures to the nearest pharmacy for medical supplies. What follows are tense encounters with the monsters all set to a backdrop of a genius soundscape that helps the audience immerse themselves in the characters’ world.

There were a few jump scares and seeing the monsters close up wasn’t pleasant but again this film centred around family and human survival. There were twists and unexpected moments that had me holding my breath, not daring to make the slightest noise. Leave your popcorn at home again for this one.

Overall I give this film 9/10. I think some elements could have been expanded slightly and it was missing something that makes a film 10/10 for me but it was a worthy sequel and the acting was on point. Another great venture for John Krasinski and co.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

My Top 20 Films of 2020

A recent viewing for me over the Groupwatch Feature on Disney Plus. The animated version was a childhood favourite of mine so I was sad that I did not get a chance to watch it at the cinema last September. Its release on Disney Plus was a delight for me and despite some controversy surrounding its locations, I think this is an important film for Asian representation in Western culture and especially for women. Mulan volunteers to fight in the Chinese Imperial Army some one thousand years ago. In the live action version, Mulan lives in a poor village and takes her father’s place due to his ill health whereas in the original version, Mulan is a princess and takes his place to prove herself. I loved Yifei Liu’s performance as Mulan; I remember they spent a long time trying to find the right actress and I think the casting was perfect. She was able to portray vulnerability and femininity at the beginning and then brute strength and leadership as a soldier. The fight sequences were impressive and used clever techniques as well as offensive action. Scenes with the snow avalanche and the final showdown were particularly impressive as well as the general production design. It did not feel like a typical cuddly kids film and I think it was a good move to get rid of the songs, no matter how great they were. I really loved this film but it was missing that extra something that makes me give a film full marks.

Hello readers,

A friend suggested this concept to me after talking about one of their favourite films of the year and I thought it would be great way to say goodbye to a horrific year for the world. Despite cinemas being closed for most of 2020, film found a way via streaming services. I was surprised at how many new films Netflix was putting out but it certainly kept me entertained. I’m listing my top 20 in no particular order apart from my IMDb rating. Going through all the films I saw released in 2020, I realise that my total viewing is only slightly longer than this list but each film on the list did bring me some joy this year and that’s what really counts in my eyes.

Onward – 10/10

This was the last film I saw at a chain cinema before lockdown and I am glad it was this one. It was a great story with an interesting new universe, a great cast and a feel-good story. I loved the dynamic between the brothers played by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland. They are elves living in a modern fairy tale land which is a blend of technology and mythical creatures. The characters go on a road trip/quest to try and fix a spell and see their late father one last time. This Pixar animation is a lovely tale for adults and children and I am glad I saw it in the cinema. It is now available on Disney Plus.

Godmothered – 9/10

I was pleasantly surprised by this Disney film that I saw over Christmas on Disney Plus. It represents the maturing of the Disney company as I have seen other content in the last couple of years with more feminist and LGBT story lines than previously included. This tale focuses on a fairy godmother who goes to Earth to help a little girl and save her godmother academy. The little girl is now an adult with children of her own and a job at a local news station. Eleanor, the godmother is not well versed in the modern world which leads to some hilarious incidents. There was a lot for adults but this is definitely a film for children. It is also set at Christmas but this is more in the background. The ending was not the usual marry a prince which I liked and shows that romantic love is not the be all and end all. A great cast with Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher and June Squibb.

Dating Amber – 9/10

I enjoyed this film set in the 1990s in Ireland with a great twist. It features Eddie and Amber who are both gay but pretend to date each other to get their fellow students off their backs. They embark on a deep emotional friendship and are able to be themselves for the very first time while exploring their sexualities. This was a very sweet story about finding yourself while also discussing some darker themes and it is worth its 15 rating with some older discussions. Starring upcoming actors Fionn O’Shea and Lola Petticrew along with Sharon Horgan and Simone Kirby. A great Irish film with comedy and heart.

Palm Springs – 9/10

This American comedy is the only film I saw in the cinema last year since lockdown started. It was in a cinema in Turkey but I have not wanted to attend in the UK so far but hopefully cinema will be back soon. This film played on the Groundhog Day trope with someone getting stuck in an endless time loop only in this film there are three people in the time loop. It made it a fun twist. The film is set at a wedding in Palm Springs and it begins with Sarah entering the time loop that Niles is already in. The two of them make the most of the endless days and gradually become closer and look for ways to leave the loop. It was a fun comedy that took my mind off 2020 for a while. Some great comedy stars star, Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti with other known faces: Peter Gallagher, Tyler Hoechlin, Camila Mendes, J.K. Simmons and June Squibb.

The Lovebirds – 9/10

This film moved onto Netflix after cinema shut down and I was glad it did as I got the chance to see it. It was a great buddy comedy with a couple who are going through problems. They end up on the run after a misunderstanding and encounter many interesting characters while trying to clear their name and fixing their relationship. It is a blend of comedy, drama, adventure and a little horror. With comedy gold Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani and set in New Orleans, a great film if you’re looking for something new and distracting.

The Old Guard – 9/10

This was a great film and one of my favourites released this year. It was a great story and I think the fact it is based on a comic book really made it a step above past action films. I am a fan of the director, Gina Prince-Bythewood and how she made this film into a fan favourite and cult phenomenon. The idea is something that has been played with before but rarely outside of the superhero genre. The team are made up of immortals who have been fighting evil for hundreds or thousands of years. They spend their infinite time helping secretly around the world to solve problems and take down criminals. When a new immortal is found for the first time in a hundred years, she joins the group and tries to protect the immortals from the threat of exposure from a man trying to harness their immortality for themselves. I loved the characters and their backstories and the relationship they all have with each other. The romance between Nicky and Joe is a highlight along with Andy’s character. The cast of Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Harry Melling, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli make this film, a great one and I am looking forward to any potential sequels and I will definitely be re-watching soon.

The Half of It – 9/10

This indie Netflix original uses a well known trope with a more diverse outlook. Paul has a crush on Aster and pays Ellie to write love letters for him. While a friendship blossoms between the two from completely different social circles, something else develops between Aster and Ellie. The story is set in a small fictional town, Squahamish most notable for its conservative church and railway line. This gives an idea of the views of the townspeople when it comes to outsiders or those who do not comply with their religious beliefs. I was pleased to see that the romance is not the main focus of the story but the sweet friendship that develops between Ellie and Paul. This is not to say that the love story between Ellie and Aster was not explored. A lot of the shots were done to show the cinematography of the piece and to enhance the plot. I watched this film via Netflix Party with a friend and we both enjoyed. It was interesting to see a teen film with a slower pace and a less studio vibe.

My Spy – 9/10

I was happy that this film appeared on streaming services after the pandemic ensured it only had a limited run. A family action comedy that provided some well needed escapism in the first lockdown. We see tough team up with cute when JJ, a CIA operative is assigned to track the family of a former agent. Sophie, the former agent’s young daughter manages to suss out JJ’s mission and they team up to get the job done. I enjoyed seeing Dave Bautista is a role where he plays a human rather than as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and while he is the funny one of the group in the Marvel films, he gets to show a different side in My Spy. Sophie is played by Chloe Coleman, a rising child star who has no trouble carrying the film as the co-lead. It’s always fun to see a hardened stoic man softened by a smart kid. There are some laughs but also a lot of action. An all round enjoyable film.

All The Bright Places – 9/10

There was a lot of anticipation for this film as it is based on a bestselling novel by Jennifer Niven. While it has a depressing premise, I enjoyed the film. I feel like it has similar tones to The Half of It with a focus on the cinematography. I think it was important for the film that the author was a writer on the film and helped maintain the feel of the story. It stars Hollywood heavyweights Elle Fanning and Justice Smith who have both starred in their share of big films. Other stars include Luke Wilson, Alexandra Shipp and Keegan-Michael Key. This film shows the complex love story between Violet and Theodore and how they battle their past demons. Set in Indiana but shot in Cleveland, the unique locations add to the motifs and details of the film. It is a sad one but I think this is an important depiction of mental health and I hope it prompts more conversations amongst young people.

Mulan – 8/10

A recent viewing for me over the Groupwatch Feature on Disney Plus. The animated version was a childhood favourite of mine so I was sad that I did not get a chance to watch it at the cinema last September. Its release on Disney Plus was a delight for me and despite some controversy surrounding its locations, I think this is an important film for Asian representation in Western culture and especially for women. Mulan volunteers to fight in the Chinese Imperial Army some one thousand years ago. In the live action version, Mulan lives in a poor village and takes her father’s place due to his ill health whereas in the original version, Mulan is a princess and takes his place to prove herself. I loved Yifei Liu’s performance as Mulan; I remember they spent a long time trying to find the right actress and I think the casting was perfect. She was able to portray vulnerability and femininity at the beginning and then brute strength and leadership as a soldier. The fight sequences were impressive and used clever techniques as well as offensive action. Scenes with the snow avalanche and the final showdown were particularly impressive as well as the general production design. It did not feel like a typical cuddly kids film and I think it was a good move to get rid of the songs, no matter how great they were. I really loved this film but it was missing that extra something that makes me give a film full marks.

The Prom – 8/10

I’ve always loved a musical and this one was no different. The film is based on a Broadway musical and a true story about how a school in Indiana prevents a female student from bringing her girlfriend to the prom. When some washed up Broadway stars hear of the story, they rally to the cause and fly to Indiana to help Emma just live her life. This film debuted on Netflix with some A list actors: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, James Corden and Keegan-Michael Key. I thought this musical had a fun vibe and while a little cheesy it had a great message of acceptance and love. The songs were a great fit and are more universal than some musical songs. The design of the Prom at the end was a lovely celebration for all sexualities and I’m glad that the story was told.

Enola Holmes – 8/10

This spin on the classic Sherlock Holmes tale offers a female led perspective and introduces a younger cast supported by well-known actors. Set in Victorian England, Enola is the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. She is raised in the country by her mother away from proper society. When her mother leaves with no explanation, Enola heads to London to find her encountering a wayward Viscount and a mystery along the way. A lawsuit over the addition of more human characteristics to Sherlock’s personality was issued by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle but this has now been settled. I thought this film was a fun take on the Sherlock story and gave younger and female viewers a point of view in the story. I enjoyed the film and the story. It was a delightful story with enough intrigue to keep you interested and beautiful production design. A talented cast featuring Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Burn Gorman, Frances De La Tour and Fiona Shaw.

Work It – 8/10

Dance films are always an upbeat fun watch for me and this film was no different. What sets this film apart from every other dance film is that the main character is not a professional dancer. Quinn’s best friend is in the high school dance troupe and when she lies in a college interview, saying that she is a dancer, she needs to make that happen. She is not allowed into the troupe so forms her own with a group of outsiders and becomes the rival team at a competition. This is a film about learning to accept your flaws and living your best life anyway. The different styles of dance shown create a diverse story rather than just hip hop or ballet as in some films. There is also a brewing romance between Quinn and the choreographer she convinces to help them. I enjoyed the fun-loving nature of the film and it stars some great young actors: Sabrina Carpenter, Jordan Fisher, Liza Koshy and Keiynan Lonsdale. If you are a fan of teen films or dance films, then this is one for you.

Desperados – 8/10

A slightly out-there plot that could only happen in the modern world, Desperados also reunites actors Lamorne Morris and Nasim Pedrad who played husband and wife on television show, New Girl. Wesley meets Jared and at first her relationship is great but then he ghosts her and she sends a ranting and insulting email. He is in Mexico and was in a car accident so while he is recovering, Wesley flies to Mexico to delete the email before he sees it. What ensues is a girls trip with her two best friends and a ridiculous adventure. Each of the three women have things to confront about themselves and this trip offers the chance to do it. Wesley then bumps into a blind date she had before Jared and develops a friendship with him. This film was cheesy but had some real content and was a plotline I hadn’t seen before. It stars some great comedy actors: Anna Camp and Robbie Amell as well the aforementioned actors. I watched the film over the summer and seeing Mexico was something to take my mind off the pandemic for a while.

The F**k-It List – 8/10

This film is about finding your own path in life and not just going along with what others expect of you. Brent Blackmore spends his whole life studying to please his high-achieving parents. When he joins in with his senior prank and it goes wrong, Brent posts a ‘F**k-It List’ listing things he wish he did in high school. Slowly his college offers dwindle and he is banned from graduation. He goes viral and opportunities start opening up. This is a fun teen comedy with some real heart and a good message about being yourself. Set in sunny California, this film is for everyone that felt they missed out on something in life and needs persuading to pursue it. Featuring an up and coming cast of Eli Brown, Madison Iseman, Andrew Bachelor and Karan Brar.

Extraction – 8/10

A fast-paced action film set in Bangladesh in a world of weapons and arms dealings. The son of an international drug lord is kidnapped from his school in India and mercenary Tyler Rake is dropped into the city of Dhaka to rescue him and extract him back to India. The action never stops and a bond forms between Tyler and Ovi, the boy. I enjoyed the different setting and the city made a great location for this type of film. Chris Hemsworth is great in this type of role and it’s a good film to show his range after his high profile role in the Marvel universe. Despite the high stakes and difficulty of the mission, Tyler never gives up. In the background, his colleagues work to get information about the kidnappers and their motives.

Birds of Prey – 8/10

Another film I saw when cinemas were open and life was normal. I am not normally a fan of DC Universe films, I have only seen a few, namely Wonder Woman and Shazam but I went to see this film with a friend and I thought Margot Robbie could carry the film as Harley Quinn. Sometimes giving a secondary character a solo film doesn’t work but Harley really had her own tale to tell. The film starts with Joker having dumped Harley and she takes it hard. She spends the time getting back to what she does best: fighting bad guys. She meets a young girl on the run from an evil sexist crime lord who has also done Harley harm. She teams up with other female heroes to form the Birds of Prey and take him out. Her outfits were really fun and different. Her character is not how women are usually presented in superhero films such as Black Widow who was originally a sexy assistant or Captain Marvel who is a strong and sarcastic pilot. Harley is neither of these things but forges her own path. Even though she is a comic book character, her story of recovering from a toxic relationship and learning how to be her own person without that relationship is relatable to many women. A fun film about the strength of women and how they can be tough and violent yet vulnerable and broken.

The Boys in the Band – 7/10

This film has a long history as it is based on a play that debuted in the 1960s in New York City. It was controversial at the time as the main characters are all gay men and being homosexual was still illegal in America or certainly looked down upon in many states. The film itself features actors who are out as gay in the roles which the playwright insisted upon. The original cast featured gay actors too at a time when it was dangerous to be out as gay in America. The film is about the men all gathering for someone’s birthday party in a New York apartment and they all come away as different men than they were before. Secrets are spilled and dares are made and surprise guests appear. It does play out like a play with a few scenes not set in the apartment. Ryan Murphy is on as a producer and there are some talented people involved such as Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells. Its an interesting piece and says a lot about how it felt to be gay in that time and place.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – 7/10

A very cheesy and almost parody of the Eurovision Song Contest, the film celebrates the energy and vibe of the contest as a strange, trashy event where anything goes even Australia being in Europe. This film features Lars and Sigrit who by freak accident get the chance to represent Iceland at the contest. They have been trying to get their musical duo going for a while and get the chance of a lifetime. They head to Scotland for the contest and face rivals, potential lovers and extravagant costumes. This film was not made to be taken seriously and I thought it was good for what it was: a fun musical film to honour a ridiculous tradition but it did not inspire me. Starring some big names: Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as the duo Fire Saga along with Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens and Demi Lovato. Of course, Graham Norton stars himself as he has been the UK commentator for a number of years.

Parasite – 7/10

This film was a cultural phenomenon when it came out especially as it made history and won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I thought the film was good but not 10 out of 10 good. The story had many twists and turns and could only happen in that sort of society with such a class divide in the same city. It spoke volumes about how people treat each other, not just in South Korea but worldwide. The film is about a poor family living on next to nothing, the teenage son gets the chance to work for a rich family and he gets positions for each of his family members. Things take a turn when they realise that they have stumbled into a chilling situation. The director Bong Joon-ho has made films like Snowpiercer and Okja as well as many South Korean ones. I was not familiar with the actors in the film but they did a great job at creating the story of the film. I thought some of the plotlines were a little far-fetched and I was a little confused about the genre and message of the film as the ending was so bleak. I know that this film meant a lot to many people so I wanted to include it even though there were other films I enjoyed more this year.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

My First Trip back to the Cinema

Of course, being stuck in a time loop is no new plot device as seen in films such as Groundhog Day which set the precedent for this sort of films; Source Code; Happy Death Day and Looper. What was different about this time loop was that there were multiple people stuck in the loop. The two main characters Nyles and Sarah played by Samberg and Milioti respectively are both guests at a wedding in Palm Springs. Nyles is the boyfriend of bridesmaid, Misty and Sarah is maid of honour to her sister, Tala. The two have never met before the loop starts but quickly become allies.

Hello readers,

I have been absent from the blog for a while as in the current pandemic, there has not been many new films to write about. I have been watching more television shows as Netflix has been releasing some great new series during the pandemic.

I have as of a few days ago ventured back to the silver screen. I am however in Antalya, Turkey and not the UK and as the coronavirus was controlled here a little earlier, I feel safer going back to being out and about. The cinema has introduced a number of preventative measures including hosing down the seats after every screening. I also chose the Gold Class screen which is more luxurious with only 4 seats to a row and these are spaced out. The cinema chain, Cinemaximum has had these screens for a while and they are really coming in handy this year! They are also leather so make cleaning super easy and comfortable to sit in.

Anyway onto the film. I went to see Palm Springs, a Hulu original film starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. I did not think that I would get to see the film as I was under the impression that it would only be released on the streaming platform, Hulu which is only available in the US. Turkey does tend to get a lot of films that don’t have wide international releases so this may be a reason. I was very happy to see the film though as the concept sounded fun and is a new twist on the time loop trope.

Of course, being stuck in a time loop is no new plot device as seen in films such as Groundhog Day which set the precedent for this sort of films; Source Code; Happy Death Day and Looper. What was different about this time loop was that there were multiple people stuck in the loop. The two main characters Nyles and Sarah played by Samberg and Milioti respectively are both guests at a wedding in Palm Springs. Nyles is the boyfriend of bridesmaid Misty and Sarah is maid of honour to her sister, Tala. The two have never met before the loop starts but quickly become allies.

Some elements of the plot surprised me from what I saw in the trailer which is rare these days as many trailers reveal just a little too much of the film. I was under the impression that Nyles and Sarah both got stuck in the time loop at the same time but as I realised early on, Nyles has been endlessly living out November 9th in Palm Springs way before Sarah gets pulled into it. This worked well as a narrative device where a new character is introduced to a pre-existing scenario to explain things to the audience without needing a character to break the fourth wall.

One night at the wedding, Sarah is having a horrible time and gets drunk and decides to hook up with Nyles. He appears to not care at all as he wears a Hawaiian shirt and shorts at the reception. While sneaking off to a more secluded area, Nyles is attacked by a mysterious figure and crawls into a cave while Sarah looks on horrified. She follows him in and then gets stuck into his time loop. Nyles guides her through life in the time loop and Nyles begins to enjoy his life again along with Sarah who after first trying to get out by dying comes to accept her fate with Nyles. Sometimes they attend the wedding, other times they hang out at the local bar or meet with people that Nyles has befriended after his endless loops of the day.

There were a few twists to the story that I will not reveal but this romantic comedy is not just a straight forward happy ending. The film does have some swearing and intimate scenes but I think it could be classed as a 15 as there is no nudity, only suggestions of it. I really loved the film especially as it was in the luxury screen of Gold Class and the first film I had seen in the cinema since March. My watching partner was not satisfied with the ambiguous ending but I felt it didn’t need to be anything more than it was.

Today in the cinema, Christopher Nolan’s new film, Tenet comes out and I will hopefully be seeing this in the next week so look out for that review soon.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

What I have been watching this January // 2019

Hello readers,

Another post for me in the same month is rare I know but as I am still on university holidays, I thought I would write about what I’ve been watching this year. I have had quite a lot of spare time so I have been watching many TV series and films. Not everything listed below came out this year. Hope everyone is having a good 2019 so far!

I will start with the films that I have seen.

Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol 2011

I watched this at home a few days ago and as a lover of the latest film I had high expectations. They were certainly met. The dynamics between the main cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner really gave the film the human spark it needed to not be a mindless action thriller. There were amazing stunts and cool gadgets – the magnetic suit for one, stunning locations and spine-tingling suspense. I would definitely watch again and I will be watching the earlier films in the Mission: Impossible franchise. 5/5.

Cast:

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, an IMF spy, constantly on the run and never out of danger.

Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, the funny computer genius who has just passed field training.

Paula Patton as Jane, a colleague who is out for revenge.

Jeremy Renner as Brandt, an analyst who gets caught up in Hunt’s mission.

Léa Seydoux as Moreau, an assassin looking to trade documents for diamonds

Mary Poppins Returns 2018

I was quite late to the party with this one but I managed to see it last week at the cinema. This film appear to have sparked a controversy as while some people were disappointed with the outcome, it has been nominated for four Golden Globes and three BAFTAs. I, however, really enjoyed it. I have seen the first one but not for a while so it wasn’t fresh in my mind but the overall feeling of this film is updated yet similar to the original. The songs and sets are different and the characters have grown up but Mary Poppins is still there to save the day. The animated scenes were inspired by but didn’t copy the original. The film gave me a heartwarming feeling. Great bit of fun for all the family. 5/5.

Cast:

Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, the magical nanny returning to the Banks’.

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, the lamp lighter who joins in on the fun.

Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks, he’s all grown up and struggling with finances.

Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks, she rallies for women’s rights.

Pixie Davies as Anabel Banks, the most responsible Banks child.

Nathanael Saleh as John Banks, the sensible one.

Joel Dawson as Georgie Banks, he likes to wander off and fly kites.

Julie Walters as Ellen, the housekeeper and cook.

Meryl Streep as Cousin Topsy, who can everything but not on a second Wednesday.

Colin Firth as Mr Wilkins, chairman of the bank who is determined to repossess the Banks’ house.

Finding Your Feet 2018

This heartwarming comedy will tug at your heart strings and put a smile on your face. Sandra discovers her husbands affair and runs to her sister’s council flat in London. By finding her long forgotten love of dance again and meeting Biv’s fun friends, Sandra gets a new burst of life and reconnects with her sister. I particularly liked the sequences in Rome and Biv’s eccentric zest for life. It also shows to me that older actors can still make a great entertaining film and younger leads aren’t always necessary.

Cast:

Imelda Staunton as Sandra, whose husband has been having a secret affair for years. She lived in a big house in Surrey but moves in with her sister at the beginning.

Celia Imrie as Biv, a woman who lives every day like it’s her last. She swims in cold water pools, does weekly dance classes, goes on dates and buys her stuff from the charity shop.

Timothy Spall as Charlie who lives on a canal boat and takes a shine to Sandra.

Joanna Lumley as Jackie a fellow dancer and a lawyer, she knows how to have fun.

David Hayman as Ted who lives next to Charlie on the canal. He’s Charlie’s best friend and is always there for support.

Overboard 2018

A hilarious comedy about a woman taking revenge a bit too far. Kate is working multiple jobs to put herself through nursing school and support her three daughters. After a billionaire playboy throws her off his luxury yacht, she uses him for her own gain. Leo, himself falls off the yacht and wakes up with no memory. Kate convinces him that she is his wife and takes him home. She makes him do manual labour and earn money until she can pass her upcoming exam. Full of heart and funny scenes this film was a delight to watch. The only slight downside was as most of the characters were fluent in Spanish they spoke it frequently with no subtitles. It didn’t impede too much on understanding the main plot though. 5/5.

Cast:

Anna Faris as Kate, a wannabe nurse struggling to balance work, studying and looking after her children.

Eugenio Derbez as Leo, a selfish billionaire who becomes a doting husband after her gets amnesia.

Eva Longoria as Theresa, Kate’s friend who is in on the act and helps her keep it up.

Mel Rodriguez as Bobby, Theresa’s husband, he lets Leo work for his building company.

John Hannah as Colin, Leo’s chef and employer on the yacht.

Roma 2018

I’m going to start by saying that I didn’t really enjoy or understand this film but seeing as it won two Golden Globes, some people must appreciate it. The film set in Mexico in 1970 is telling the story of Cleo, a domestic servant and the family she works for. It is in black and white and while this does give the film some atmosphere, I think that the film didn’t have a strong enough setting, dialogue or plot. There were also a lot of long shots such as the beginning and many unexplained events. The acting was okay but I didn’t really connect with the characters enough to care about what happened to them. The family appeared to care for Cleo at some points but still treated her like just a servant. Confusing. 2/5.

Cast:

Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, the domestic worker who works for Sofia and her children.

Marina de Travia as Sofia, the lady of the house and the mother of 4 children.

Fernando Grediaga as Antonio, the husband and father who works as a doctor and is away a lot of the time.

Verónica García as Teresa, Sofia’s mother who helped out the family.

Attack the Block 2011

I really liked this action comedy. It is set in and around a block of flats in South London. A gang of teenagers find a strange creature and kill it. It turns out to a an alien and the rest of the fleet descend on the block. Sam, a nurse teams up with the gang and they defend their home. They also have to avoid angry rival gang members and keep little wannabees out of the way. Featuring appearances from Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker and John Boyega, this award winning film is definitely worth a watch. 4/5.

Cast:

John Boyega as Moses, the gang’s leader who is just trying to survive childhood.

Jodie Whittaker as Sam, a nurse who gets sucked in to defending the block

Alex Esmail as Pest, the token white guy in the gang and the first to be injured.

Leeon James as Jerome, Moses right hand man

Luke Treadaway as Brewis, a rich boy who is the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nick Frost as Ron, a drug dealer with his own weed room.

I have also been loving many TV shows, most of them are Netflix Originals.

A Series of Unfortunate Events – Series 3 2019

This third and final series is the climax to A Series of Unfortunate Events. I really liked the film that was made but this series really does justice to the books. It uses two episodes for each book. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire have been on the run from the evil Count Olaf since their parents died in a mysterious fire. They have discovered that their parents were in an organisation V.F.D but they don’t have all the answers yet. Can they ever escape from Count Olaf’s grasp? What is in the sugar bowl? What is V.F.D? Could one of their parents still be alive? Find out if you dare in series three. I really loved the series. The acting is superb and the story is very well thought out. It definitely does the books justice. 5/5.

Cast:

Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, the oldest sibling and an inventor. She always ties her hair up with a ribbon when she has an idea.

Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, the middle sibling and the researcher. He has read many books and his extensive knowledge comes in handy.

Presley Smith as Sunny Baudelaire, the youngest sibling, a toddler who likes to bite things and often comes to the right answer before her siblings.

Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, the narrator of the Baudelaire’s tale. He has pieced together the story for us to watch unfold.

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, an actor who travels with his troupe and is desperate to get his hands on the Baudelaire’s fortune.

Lucy Punch as Esmé Squalor, the forth most important financial advisor and Count Olaf’s girlfriend. She travels with Olaf in hopes of finding the sugar bowl. She wears ridiculous ‘in’ outfits.

Kitana Turnbull as Carmelita Spats, a spoiled little girl who loves performing and travels with Esmé and Count Olaf as their ‘daughter’. She hates the Baudelaires and calls everyone ‘cake-sniffer’.

Alison Williams as Kit Snicket, the sister to Jacques and Lemony. She has been trying to help the Baudelaires.

COMEDIANS of the world: UK: Ellie Taylor 2019

I watched Ellie Taylor’s special and really enjoyed it. She talked a lot about marriage and impending motherhood but in a very funny way and many of her opinions. She is one of my favourite comedians and it’s great to see her representing the UK in this series. There are many different comedians from around the world in this collection.

The Good Place Series 3: Episode 10 and 11 2019

Since the series has come back from it’s mid series break, it has taken many turns. The four humans, Michael and Janet finally got to the Good Place but they only reached the mail room. They have to work out what to do next. Eleanor and Chidi talk about the events of episode nine and Michael is concerned about the points system. The next episode takes place in IHOP but I don’t want to give too much away. It’s hilarious as always whilst teaching about philosophy and what makes a good person.

Cast:

Kristen Bell as Eleanor, the shrimp loving Arizona trash bag with a thing for mailmen.

William Jackson Harper as Chidi, a philosophy teacher who struggles with choices and gets nervous stomach aches.

Jameela Jamil as Tahani, a rich self entitled party hostess who only does charity for her own gain and grew up in her sister’s shadow.

Manny Jacinto as Jason, a Jacksonville Jaguars fan who has been in many dance crews and doesn’t have much brain power but a lot of heart.

Ted Danson as Michael, a demon who enjoyed torturing the four humans but is now working with them to get to the Good Place. He loves human quirks.

D’Arcy Carden as Janet, a human search engine with powers to get you anything you want. She has been rebooted so many times, she is starting to behave like a human.

Sex Education 2019

This series is filthy, dramatic, funny, quirky, relatable and entertaining. Set in a rural part of England, Sex Education tells the story of Otis Milburn, a 16 year old who wanted to be that person in the corner. His mother is a sex therapist and after one piece of great advice to the school bully, Otis and scary Maeve Wiley set up a sex clinic for the students of Moordale High. People start coming to Otis with all sorts of problems. Otis is also trying to be a teenager and sort through his own issues with sex and relationships. He is helped by his best friend Eric who is constantly pushing Otis out of his comfort zone. Otis’ mother, Jean is an overbearing, involved mother with a vibrant sex life. I loved this series and watched it all in two days. Very graphic so definitely for over 18s. It has been watched by 40 million Netflix users this month. 5/5.

Cast:

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn, unlicensed therapist navigating being a teenager and dealing with his embarrassing mother.

Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley, she has a bad reputation, is very smart and is always broke.

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric, Otis’ best friend who is out and proud but struggles with his father accepting him and his outrageous outfits.

Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn, sex therapist and single mother, Jean worries about her son and doesn’t do boyfriends

Connor Swindells as Adam Groff, the headmaster’s son. He doesn’t care about school and prefers to bully the student body. His father is constantly disappointed in him.

Aimee Lou Wood as Aimee, one of the Untouchables who struggles with their endless rules, she always has a boyfriend and is friends with Maeve.

Kedar Williams-Stirling as Jackson, the head boy and competitive swimmer. He has a lot of pressure from his mum to do well and needs plenty of advice about girls.

Alistair Petrie as Mr Groff, Moordale’s headmaster and Adam’s dad. He knows how to deal out the punishments and does not let up for anyone, even his own son.

Mikael Persbrandt as Jakob, a plummer that is fixing Jean’s bathroom.

Friends from College – Series 2 2019

The second series in this hilarious comedy drama about six 40 year olds who have been friends since college. Set in New York City, the series concentrates on their relationships with others and each other. In the last series, a lot of drama went down and the gang is still recovering. Max and Felix are engaged now, Lisa and Ethan and separating, Sam and her husband are in trouble, Nick is finally dating someone his own age and Marianne is still living her carefree life. I love this series and the second series definitely delivered on the drama and comedy. A stellar cast, this series is amazing. 5/5.

Cast:

Keegan-Michael Key as Ethan, a young adult author who is desperate to know if his wife, Lisa wants a divorce or not after his affair was revealed.

Fred Savage as Max, a publisher who works closely with Ethan and is engaged to his long term boyfriend, Felix.

Nat Faxon as Nick, a player who only went out with girls in their 20s. He finds a woman his own age but can’t let go of Lisa who has been crushing on for 20 years.

Annie Parisse as Sam, a working mother who is the most successful of the group. She is having trouble with her husband, Jon after her affair with Ethan was revealed.

Jae Suh Park as Marianne, a carefree actress with nothing to tie her down apart from her daredevil on again off again boyfriend.

Cobie Smulders as Lisa, a lawyer who disappears after sleeping with Nick and reappears with a new boyfriend a year later

Billy Eichner as Felix, a doctor who is so done with the drama from Max’s friends.

Lost in Space 2018

This show has been out for a while but I watched the last few episodes in the series this year. I started it months ago but have been watching it sporadically. It’s about the Robinsons who leave Earth for a better future but crash land on a strange planet. They have to work together with others that land there to get back to the mother ship. There are alien robots, lying doctors, brave engineers and daring escape attempts. There is a lot of family drama involved and problem solving. The last episodes were the best for me as the middle of the series dipped from the great opening but still enjoyable. It’s different from the original series and the 1998 film. 4/5.

Cast:

Maxwell Jenkins as Will Robinson, the youngest and bravest. He manages to befriend a robot.

Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson, the doctor and the eldest, she takes risks to protect her patients and her family.

Mina Sundwall as Penny Robinson as the engineer who likes to do her own thing and bend the rules.

Molly Parker as Maureen, the mother and a rocket scientist. She designed their ship, the Jupiter and lied to get her son on board.

Toby Stephens as John, the father and a soldier. He was absent for most of the kid’s childhood and is trying to make up for it.

Ignacio Serricchio as Don West, an electrical engineer who doesn’t have a family so is always up for danger.

Parker Posey as Dr Smith, a survivor who is determined to reach the new world. She manipulates people to get what she wants.

Les Miserables 2018/9

An adaptation of the beloved book, this series is not a musical, but a drama. Only three episodes have aired but I am really enjoying Les Misérables so far. It tells the story of many different characters, a prisoner, a police chief, a factory worker, a little girl, two swindlers. It illustrates the gap between the rich and the poor in the early 1800s in Paris. The acting is excellent and I can’t wait to see what happens. 5/5.

Main Cast from first 3 episodes :

Lily Collins as Fantine, a factory worker trying to feed herself and her child

Dominic West as Jean Valjean, a prisoner who got 19 years for a loaf of bread. He goes from one place to another, escaping his past.

David Oyelowo as Javert, a governor turned police chief, hunting Valjean for his crimes.

Adeel Akhtar as Thenardier, a pub owner who brags about being in the war. He cheats people from their money.

Olivia Colman as Madame Thenardier, a mother who cares for her own children only. Gets as much money as she can from anyone who comes her way.

Thank you for reading!

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

American vs Turkish Cinemas: A.L Fox recalls her Summer Experiences

Hello readers,

This is another post by A.L. Fox, my talented guest writer. This time she has written about three different cinemas in two different countries she has visited this summer.

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

There’s more to the cinema experience than simply absorbing the themes and colours that stimulate the senses from the screen, and hopefully stir our emotions – in a good way.  Many of us still visit the cinema to watch a film even though we can generally view most films from the comfort of our own homes.

So why do we continue to go out to see a film?

Often, it is to be sociable and share an experience with friends or a loved one or sometimes, that we want to be the first to see a new blockbuster release or, on occasion, to be challenged by new worlds and ways of seeing. There are many demands on our leisure time these days, and we have screens wherever we go, whether it’s a phone, a tablet, or a laptop but we still go to the cinema. In this century, around 150 million people still visit the cinema every year in the UK. Of course, this is a considerable drop from the 1.5 billion that went in the heyday of the Second World War. But now there are so many different ways of watching a film.

With so much competition for our eyes, cinemas have become much more than just a screen; they are places where you can eat, play video games – and eat mountains of popcorn. Most are multiplexes offering 3D and a very different experience from the cinemas of old. Now you book online, choose a seat, collect your ticket from a machine and don’t have to speak to anyone. It’s not quite the same everywhere in the world, though.

America is the home of cinema and there will probably be as many different cinemas as there are States but going to the cinema in New York is like stepping back in time. We were in the Big Apple when Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again opened so, naturally, we had to go. Bizarrely, the weather wasn’t as hot as we’d been led to believe; it rained and so that was another factor in our decision. The AMC chain is the biggest US cinema chain but the one on W 34th St felt as though it remained untouched since it opened in the 50s. First, we had to get to the 4th floor; there were the usual food stalls – and popcorn but also, gambling machines. We bought our tickets, and chose a seat; on the screen there were gaps between the seats – and, in the cinema,  the seats were in pairs with a large table – for the food, between them. Sitting down, there was another surprise for there were acres of room between the rows. People were able to walk without asking others to move. Unsurprisingly, people didn’t stop eating throughout the film and American audiences aren’t exactly quiet; they do like to voice their opinions, or add their viewpoint to the action.

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AMC Cinema on W 34th St, New York City, USA

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For the record, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again was enjoyable – the beginning was a little flat but once the cast hit their stride about 30 minutes in, it became more like the first film – and that’s exactly what audiences were expecting. The film delivered but it wasn’t quite a match for the original. Now that sounds like a criticism, but it’s not meant as one. It is simply that the first film was so iconic. A special appearance by Cher was successfully woven into the plot and she provided enough glitz to offset the absence of Meryl Streep, although there were some scenes featuring Streep, so she wasn’t entirely missing.

Most of the other main characters from the first film had major roles in this one with the addition of a young Donna (Lily James) and her Dynamos (Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn) plus younger versions of Sophie’s three dads (Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner).

Now, talking of original – the Regal, the second cinema we visited in New York, on W 42nd St was definitely like stepping into the 50s again. Here, the seats were black leather armchairs that extended to support your feet, almost to the point of becoming a bed. The carpets had the letter of the rows woven into it and the decor hadn’t been touched for decades. Here, we saw Incredibles 2; a film that had been on general release for some weeks so it wasn’t busy. We did get the noise of audience participation once again, and it was loud  – the sound turned up to echo over the comments.

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Regal Cinema W 42nd St, New York City, USA

Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Brad Bird, Sarah Vowell, Eli Fucile, and Huck Milner in Incredibles 2 (2018)

As for the film itself, it was definitely worth watching. It had all the impact and colour of the first film with an updated plot to reflect changes in society. This time, it was Elastigirl or Helen Parr’s time in the spotlight. She went to save the world while Mr Incredible became a stay-at-home dad. As ever, the action was fast-paced and attention-grabbing for both children and adults. The animation was brilliant and shows that Disney Pixar is not just for kids.

Both experiences were good; if you get the chance to visit either of these cinemas then take it; a different experience but a good contrast and it makes you appreciate the relative quiet of British audiences – unless, you’re unfortunate enough to sit next to the person who never stops eating. There are people who believe calories consumed in the dark don’t count as they munch continuously for the length of the film and that can be a big distraction but then, it’s all part of the cinema experience.

And what’s still part of the cinema experience in Turkey is – the intermission. Yes, they have a break in the middle of the film! We were watching Mission Impossible – Fallout 3D – and, at a particularly tense moment in the action, the screen went dark. An electrical fault? No, it was an interval. People went out and returned with more food, it may even have been a break for the smokers but it was only one hour into the film and it did break the flow.

Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Ving Rhames, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, and Simon Pegg in Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

The MI films are all fast-paced with plenty of action; there are no slow sections where a break could be achieved without interrupting this flow so it did spoil the experience – for me, at least. We didn’t mind the subtitles – some Hollywood films are dubbed but most are shown in English – but that break did upset the concentration. However, even though this is the sixth film in the franchise, it still captured the hearts and minds of the audience with a good story, death-defying stunts and enough dialogue to explain the plot points. Tom Cruise playing the lead Ethan Hunt was brilliant as always and supported by a sterling cast featuring Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin.

Three films, three different experiences; if you do get the opportunity to visit the cinema in another country then go – it may even make you appreciate what you have at home. As for costs, in the US we paid about £10/£12 for each ticket and in Turkey, we paid a bit less but, in terms of comparable costs relative to the country, tickets are much the same price.

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 19th November

Hello readers,

I know I missed last week but I thought I would catch up with my thoughts on films I have seen this week.

Cinema:

Borg vs McEnroe (2017)

This film about the Men’s Wimbledon Final in 1980 was a great in depth look at how competition and the media affected the players involved. Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason), a Swedish tennis player trying to break the record for 5th consecutive Wimbledon title is up against John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), a US player known for his quick temper trying to win Wimbledon for the first time. The film follows their journey from childhood as young tennis stars to the final. The actors truly commit to the role and embody their characters not just by looking like them but by being them. I was shocked at how emotional and heart warming the film was, Borg had to deal with his extreme fame and how he cannot even walk down to the street without people running up to him chanting his name and McEnroe has to try and show the media and the world that he is good enough to beat the 4 time champion and not loose his temper. This film also stars Stellan Skarsgård (Thor) as Borg’s coach, an ex-Wimbledon quarter finalist who has backed him since he was a teenager, Robert Emms (War Horse) as Vitas Gerulaitis, an American tennis player and Ian Blackman (Hail Caesar!) as John McEnroe Senior. The actual match played between Borg and McEnroe was an amazing sequence, the whole film had been leading up to this match and you want both players to win. Overall I give Borg vs. McEnroe 5/5. 

Amazon Prime:

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

This film is a 90s rom com classic and I don’t know why I haven’t seen it before. The story follows Kat played by Julia Stiles (Bourne Ultimatum) and her sister Bianca played by Larisa Oleynik (The Babysitter’s Club). Bianca really wants to date the cute, popular guy Joey (Andrew Keegan) but her dad says she cannot date until her older sister Kat does. New boy at school Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) also wants to go out with Bianca but when he learns of her dad’s rule he conspires with new buddy Michael (David Krumholtz) to get Kat a boyfriend. Enter Patrick, a cool, clever, school-hating bad boy with a motor cycle played by the young Heath Ledger (Batman Begins). He starts dating Kat for a price paid by Joey. Kat and Patrick get closer but will she discover their relationship is all a sham? Based on Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew, this is an American teen movie with a twist. Also starring Gabrielle Union (Bring It On)as Bianca’s best friend; Larry Miller (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) as Kat and Bianca’s dad; Daryl Mitchell (Galaxy Quest) as Kat’s crazy English teacher and Allison Janney (American Beauty) as the guidance counsellor who likes to write erotic novels. Overall I give 10 Things I Hate About You 5/5.

Box of Broadcasts

Deux jours, une nuit (2014)

I saw this film via a streaming service provided by my university but it is available on DVD and possibly other streaming services. This film is different to most films in the cinemas because it wasn’t made on a big budget and most of the actors were not professionals with dozens of credits. It shows a woman, Sandra played by Marion Cotillard (Inception) one of the few names in this film, as she goes around her small French town trying to convince her co-workers to vote for her to keep her job rather than their bonuses. She had a long period of leave due to depression but she feels better and wants to go back to work. The only thing standing in her way are her colleagues. Whilst this film is realist, showing ordinary activities like making dinner, buying food, travelling in the car it has a pull to it that makes you feel for Sandra and you hope she succeeds in her mission. Also starring are Fabrizio Rongione (Rosetta), Catherine Salée (Blue is the Warmest Colour). All the other actors and actresses are virtually unknown. The Dardenne Brothers who directed this film like their films to be realist and full of people we don’t recognise so that the audience is more invested in the characters and setting and not thinking where they know each actor from. This film really struck a chord with me and showed how vulnerable yet strong women can be. Overall I give Deux jours, une nuit 4/5.   

I hope reading these reviews inspires you to check out these films or maybe some of the actors in them. This is my weekly selection. I have watched a few others this weeks that deserve a mention: No Strings Attached (2011), I Am Not A Witch (2017), The Bad Education Movie (2015), Bring it On (2000) and The Mummy (2017).

Happy Watching,

Robyn

My Weekly Recommendations

Hello readers,

Even though this is only the second post on this blog, I feel like I am getting more into writing this. I had a small break from the blog before it really even got started due to starting university but now I am back.

So let’s get to the point: the films I have watched this week.

Cinema:

I now volunteer at the independent cinema where I now live so I get to watch new films every week and this week was Blade Runner 2049. I actually saw this last month for my birthday and I was not too impressed. This time around I actually consciously chose to have a nap in the middle of the film and I find it extremely hard to fall asleep watching any movie let alone a noisy one like this but somehow I did. The film is not bad but it is not the type of film I would watch again (like I did). I felt the marketing by Sony was too hyped up. I went in expecting an action packed Ryan Gosling/ Harrison Ford duo movie with sci-fi and amazing special effects. I was disappointed.

From a film student, point of view (which is also me) the film was visually stunning, the scenery of the desert and post-apocalyptic world was really amazing and the colours and lighting in every shot was clearly well thought out but I felt the script and lack of action was what let Blade Runner 2049 down. Granted I had not seen the original Blade Runner (1982) so I wasn’t as invested in the characters as some people but I felt this reboot was not the film for me. A lot of others did enjoy it like The Guardian gave it 5 stars, but I do not. It’s okay for me to have my own opinion and I still bought a ticket and contributed to their box office gross. Overall I rate this film 3/5.

DVD:

I bought the film Eat Pray Love (2010) on DVD from a charity shop and this week I decided to watch it. It is based on a book by Elizabeth Gilbert that was a New York Times bestseller that I read last year and absolutely loved. The book is about  woman who divorces her husband and then goes on a year long trip to Italy, India and Indonesia. The book is also about God as she starts praying and in India she goes to an ashram – a place of prayer that was set up by her guru. The book really spoke to me so I went in with high expectations and I was not disappointed. This film may sell itself as a rom-com but to me is about finding out who you want to be in life and what your goals should be. The author Liz is played by Julia Roberts who does an excellent job at portraying all of Liz’s emotions and feelings with using few words and her face. Other cast members include James Franco, looking very young playing her lover David, Billy Crudup, her husband and Viola Davis, Liz’s friend in New York where she lives. The story was adapted in the film but Liz Gilbert worked closely with the producers and oversaw all changes made. Some things were added that actually happened but were not mentioned in the book. The film is long over 2 hours but it is worth it to get the full story. The only negative is I felt the film did not go into enough did about Liz’s time in Indonesia. Overall I rate this film 4/5.

Amazon Prime:

I watched Office Christmas Party on Amazon Prime. I know it’s a bit too early for Christmas but this film features some of my favourite comedy actors and actresses like Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon and Rob Corddry. The film is about a technology company run by a relaxed boss who has taken over from his dad. The office branch is about to be closed by his workaholic sister (Aniston) so the office throws an epic Christmas party to close a client. Chaos ensues. I liked the fun nature of this film and the great one lines from some of the funniest comedic actors in Hollywood. The cast gelled well and set for the party was massive and very detailed. It also has drama and romance and an epic car chase at the end. For a funny Christmas movie, it actually had a plot that made sense. I also watched it because I saw the trailer when it was being marketed last Christmas and thought it looked like a good film to watch. Definitely one to watch if you love comedy and Christmas and don’t mind occasional American cheesiness. Overall I rate this film 5/5.

So these are my 3 recommendations for this week. Some weeks I may watch more films than this but this week I had some big assignments due so I watched more TV instead.

Happy watching,

Robyn