Summer of Cinema: Old

Dear Readers,

I went into this film with not much prior knowledge apart from knowing the director, one actor and the fact that it was set on a tropical island. This was the best way to do it for me personally as watching the trailer afterwards gave away a lot of key details. The screen was pretty busy and I had a good aisle seat. This film eases you in with marriage problems and a family on holiday but after going to the beach, everything falls apart and the story begins to mess with your perception of reality. I have only seen one M. Night Shyamalan film before and it was a long time ago. I knew his films usually had a thriller/horror element and were known for being mind-bending. The screen was semi-packed which gave me confidence in the film, especially as it had already been out for three weeks.

The film title and poster do not give much away other than the ageing element. When I went in I wondered how this would play into things, I imagined the characters being shipwrecked on the island and steadily growing old as we do normally. What did happen was very unexpected. It is hard to talk much about this film without giving away the big idea so I will be talking about the concept of the film and certain plot details.

The film focuses around a family with two young children. They are on holiday from the US but both parents are European from their accents. The trip is one least hurrah before they tell the kids they are divorcing and that the mother has an illness. They check in and are greeted with specially designed cocktails and charming staff. The hotel looks very luxurious and everything seems picture perfect. We meet a few other characters: families on holiday, all Americans so we can assume the Caribbean or somewhere off the US Coast. Nothing big happens until a guest has a seizure and everyone rushes to help. Trent, the youngest of our main family makes friends with another boy his age, Idlib whose uncle runs the resort.

The next day, the manager tells the family of an exclusive beach that is only available to his favourite guests. They are guided to a minibus where the family from the dining hall before have also boarded. They are taken to the beach by a familiar face (M. Night Shyamalan) and told to call if they want to be picked up or the bus will come at 5pm. The group walk through the rocks, armed with deck chairs and heavy picnic baskets and appear on a picturesque, quiet beach. They settle in but notice another man sitting on the sand in the distance.

Things begin to get unnerving when Trent finds a dead body in a shallow rock pool. The man tells the group he was with her and they connected because they both have conditions. While trying to sort out the body, another couple arrive, the woman who had the seizure and her husband. Someone tries to go back through the rocks but ends up blacked-out on the beach. They are trapped.

With all this going on, the parents initially miss their kids ageing up 5 years. The two 6 years, one from each family and Trent’s sister, Maddox who is 11 are all now biologically older. Then the mother of the doctor dies then her dog. Things keep getting weirder and weirder until they work out that they are ageing roughly a year every half an hour. The conditions and illnesses become more prevalent and create problems for the holidaymakers.

I will not give away the ending but it was not one you would expect and had a more logical yet disturbing explanation. There is also a happy ending for some characters so it is not totally doom and gloom.

I liked this film as it had a good concept that was not completely obvious but once it hits, there is little time to find a solution. The characters all had complexities but were easy enough to follow as the concept was enough to hold it together. I also think the casting was great for Trent and Maddox at different ages, especially Trent. I truly believed they were the same person. I related to the characters because I could not see a way out of the situation and any time spent on the problem was wasted periods of their lives.

The diversity was good, it is rare to have two European characters in such prominent roles. There were a few moments that were amped up for shock factor particularly how Crystal and her husband met their ends. Overall, an enjoyable film that makes you cherish the time you have rather than spending that time worrying or not making that change before it’s too late.

I give this film 5/5.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

A Star is Born / A Simple Favour

Hello readers,

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

A Star is Born

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

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

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

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

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

Cast:

Lady Gaga (American Horror Story) as Ally

Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) as Jackson Maine

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

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

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

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

A Simple Favour

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

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

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

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

I give A Simple Favour 5/5.

Cast

Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) as Stephanie

Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) as Emily

Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as Sean

Ian Ho (Willa) as Nicky

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

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

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂

My Weekly Recommendations 27th November

Hello readers,

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

Cinema:

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

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

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

DVD

Two Weeks Notice (2002)

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

Amazon Prime

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

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

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

Happy Watching,

Robyn