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

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 🙂