La La Land (2016) – Film Review.

Title: La La Land

Cast: Ryan GoslingEmma StoneJohn LegendRosemarie DeWitt

Director: Damien Chazelle 

Genres: Musical, Drama, Modern Classic

Rating: 5/5


Tipped for a flurry of wins at this years Oscars, and already scooping 7 awards at the Golden Globes, La La Land has been the film that everybody has been talking about this January. Initially, I wasn’t sure of what to make of it, due to the sheer amount of press attention and comments I’ve heard from various people, but thought it was high time to check it out. Safe to say, as soon as the credits went down, I was hooked.

Written as a love letter to Hollywood, this halycon romance showcases everything bright and beautiful about Los Angeles, as well as touching on the Golden Age of cinema, the dizzying heights of early-day love and how dreams can be achieved, but to what sacrifice.

We follow the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress turned on-set barista, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a cynical jazz pianist. With adorable meet-cutes, this couple fall in love and each push the other to achieve their dreams. However, when Sebastian is given a rhetorical Golden Ticket for his rs-la-la-land-3d3a431a-8329-4539-b953-51e2d61a396cmusical career, we watch as the couple struggle with long-distance romance and broken promises. Set amongst modern-day Los Angeles decor, this film reeks 1950s architecture, culture and clothing. With the atypical ‘burst-into-song-at-any-random-moment’ bits of traditional musicals, La La Land will not only guarantee to make you smile, but also want to jump on the next plane to LAX.

This movie is not only beautifully shot, but saturated with primary colours and heady extended dancing shots. Both Stone and Gosling play off each other well, and there is clear chemistry between the two actors. The audience are fully aware that they’re not Fred and Ginger, nor the best singers, but they make the dancing and singing work with their natural talent. This is writer-director Damien Chazelle’s second musical since Whiplash, and the director has not failed to deliver.

If you’re expecting a heady movie that is very plot driven, La La Land isn’t the one for you. This is more of an experience, and it has been remarked that this movie has done to musicals ‘what The Artist did for silent movies’ by The Guardian. For fans of feel good movies like Moulin Rouge, Casablanca and Singin’ in the Rain, I’d thoroughly recommend this movie.

La La Land is out in cinemas now.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) – Film Review

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Cast:Eddie RedmayneKatherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo 

Director: David Yates

Genres: Fantasy, Harry Potter, Magic

Rating: 5/5


If there’s something that you should know about me is that I’m a massive Harry Potter fan. Like, huge. So big that I’ve met JK Rowling, been an active member of Pottermore and the Harry Potter fansites for year, own a wand and a set of Hufflepuff House Robes, along with casual wear.

fantastic_beasts_and_where_to_find_them_ver4_xxlgYes, I know.

So when it was announced that we were going to get a new Potter movie, albeit a ‘prequel’ to the Wizarding World as such, I was so excited. I remember receiving my copy of the original Comic Relief textbook and devouring it. I loved the idea of Magical Beasts, and always thought that if I was in the Harry Potter Universe, I’d become something of a magizoologist under Hagrid’s schoolings.

I went to see Fantastic Beasts in my Hufflepuff t-shirt (as the lead character was also housed in Hufflepuff), and was thrilled from start to finish.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in Pre-Depression New York. English magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has travelled to the Big Apple in search of a rare birthday present, and is equipped with his battered suitcase, in which he’s placed an Undetectable Extension Charm to house his vast collection of magical beasts. However, this is not a fail-safe holding for some of his creatures, and thanks to a switch-up between the suitcases by oblivious No-Maj (Muggle) Jacob Kowaski (Dan Fogler), some of the animals escaped. It is then up to Scamander and Kowaski to re-capture the beasts. However, there is something more sinister and deadly prowling the streets of New York, and along with Scamander and Kowalski, they rope in down-to-earth disgraced Auror, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston)  and her carefree sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol) to discover what this terrorising the population of New York, without revealing the highly secretive magical community.

The first thing I discovered about Fantastic Beasts is that it has the right tone for a Potter movie. It had all the majesty, magic and realism of the original 8 films, and despite being released over 5 years since the last Deathly Hallows one, it didn’t feel as though any time had past.

Eddie Redmayne played the bumbling, oh-so-sweet and nervous Scamander amazingly. He really showed a man who was far more comfortable being with his creatures, rather than society, along with being an unsung hero for the entire film. His passion for the protection of animals was almost visceral. The rest of the cast slid into their roles as though they are built for them. The airy yet touching romance between Queenie and Jacob was also a bittersweet undertone for the entire film, and I hope we get to see more of them in the sequels.

Once again, Rowling and director David Yates did some fantastic world-building. This was the first time that we saw the Wizarding World outside England, and the slight differences were obvious but enough to make it all feel fresh and unique. Having a female Minister for Magic (over the pond they call it the Magical Congress of the United States of America) was a fabulous addition, and this film had enough of the original Potter-ness to make us feel safe, but was vastly different.

The film was fluid in its progression, and although it wasn’t particularly action-filled constantly, it was brilliant watching. There was enough jump-scares to keep the audience on it’s tone, but not off-putting for younger watchers.

It also set up for a sequel well. I’m so excited to see the world of Newt Scamander get revealed to us, as Harry’s was to readers, and I hope they keep up with this high standard for the proposed 5-film series.

All in all, a brilliant movie. Scamander is vastly different to Potter, but that is what we, as the audience needed. I personally hope they keep Redmayne as the title role, as he has now firmly cemented my love for this bumbling magizoologist.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out NOW!

Stranger Things – TV Series Review (2016)

Title: Stranger Things

Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton

Series Running Time: July 2016-Present Day

Genre: Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Period Drama, Mystery

Rating: 5/5


After suffering from a nasty bout of food poisoning over the weekend, I couldn’t muster up enough energy to do any University work, or really anything for that matter. So, I decided to indulge myself and watch the highly acclaimed series ‘Stranger Things’, which became the hit cult show of the summer through the streaming site, Netflix. Continue reading

David Brent: Life on the Road (2016) – Film Review

Title: David Brent: Life on the Road

Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith, Tom Basden, Jo Hartley, Mandeep Dhillon

Director: Ricky Gervais

Genres: Comedy, British Sit-Com, Comedy, Mockumentary

Rating: 3/5


I’m not the biggest television watcher. I usually find things on Netflix, or on iPlayer catchup. But when it comes to actual sitting-down-television watching, it’s not really my thing. However, there is one thing that I love, and would happily sit down to watch, and that is good British comedy. Harking back to The Two Ronnies, Open david-brent-lor-main-posterAll Hours, Only Fools and Horses and Steptoe and Son, British situation comedys (sitcoms) will guarantee to put a smile on my face, and provide an easy and funny watching experience.

But there is one series that I have watched time after time again, and that is the 2001-2003 BBC mockumentary series, The Office. Following a fictional paper merchants, and the day-to-day life of its employees, The Office has a host of lovable and hilarious characters. But, to me, there is one standout character. And that is the irritating manager, David Brent.

Ricky Gervais’ character of the hapless, hilarious and dreadfully un-PC office manager garnered legions of fans, who tuned in weekly to see his antics, and after The Office finished its run, fans were left with a hole in their lives.

However, when it was announced that Gervais would bring his character back to life in a feature length film, there were mixed reactions. However, after seeing it last week, I was pleased to say that the film felt fresh, but with all the charm of The Office.

Over ten years have passed since we last left David Brent. And now, the middle-aged and largely friendless rep has decided that he wants one last hurrah into the music world, and re-visit the music world of his youth. Bringing back his old (with none of the original members) band, Foregone Conclusion, Brent finances an ill-fated tour around the South East, and lives out his dream of pop stardom.

Overall, I’d say this film was a light-hearted, laugh out loud journey. It was never meant to be serious, nor did David Brent necessarily have to change as a character. He was always going to have this vein of being un-PC, yet in this film we do see more of a sensitive side to Brent. His dealings with mental health issue, loneliness and romance were always brushed off in a typical funny manner, yet felt very personal if you explore it.

For me, the songs were the funniest parts, as the lyrics were so offensive that they couldn’t work in any other scenario other than with David Brent. The humour was often light, off-handed comments that almost make you double take, and the storyline was quite sweet in the way that Brent never stopped believing or dreaming.

What I was very happy about is the fact that the jokes were all fresh material, and it wasn’t a compilation from the series. Unfortunately, as I stated in my Absolutely Fabulous review, this happened in that film, and felt very disappointing.

The David Brent movie isn’t meant to be hard-hitting movie, and may not appeal to fans of the show who found David Brent irritating, but I found it funny and lighthearted.

The film is out now.life-on-the-road

 

 

 

Suicide Squad (2016) – Film Review.

Title: Suicide Squad

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara

Director: David Ayer

Genres: Superhero, Action, Comic Book, DC Extended Universe, Comic Book Adaptation

Rating: 3.5/5


It came on the coat tails of Batman Vs Superman, and gave audiences the taste of a film that was going to be manic, bright, ridiculous and villainous.

With excellent trailers, a cast that is not to sniggered at, and the first reincarnation of the Joker since Heath Ledger’s chilling performance, Suicide Squad was supposed to b1e DC’s resurrection from heavily panned movies and critical reviews.

However, despite it giving some kick-ass moments, it failed to live up to expectations.

Originally a storyline that few outside of the comic book readership would have heard of, Suicide Squad tells the story of a motely group of imprisoned super villains who have been forced to be part of a fighting task force and work to reduce their prison sentences. Starring Deadshot (Smith) as the world’s best gunslinger and assassin; Harley Quinn (Robbie) deranged ex-psychiatrist and girlfriend of The Joker; Diablo (Hernandez) pyrokinetic gangster; Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje cannibalistic crocodile, and bank thief Captain Boomerang (Courtney), the team have to fight against otherworldly creatures for the government, whilst always actively trying to rebel against the authority that imprisons them.

Excitement rose throughout the release of the trailers and teasers, and there was thousands of questions that comic book fans had to ask. What was Leto’s Joker going to be like? How was Robbie going to portray Harley Quinn in her first full-length live action cinematic debut? Was it going to be light-hearted, dark, somber, violent? How many backstories would feature? Is this going to be a continuation of the Batman Vs Superman line, or be entirely different? So on and so on.

So what did I like about the movie/what was done well? The cast and the acting were very strong throughout. There was chemistry between the cast that was obvious to the audience, and I thought they gelled well together. Despite some of the Squad’s characters not being explored (Killer Croc, Boomarang etc), they still made a good addition and impact within the narrative. Will Smith’s Deadshot was strong, as he was shown to have arrogance and loathing towards the authority that imprisoned him, whilst showing his strong paternal love towards his daughter. Diablo was also a favourite, as he is shown initially to be remorseful over his actions, yet when he warms up to the Squad, he considers them to be the family that he lost. A very sympathetic character in my mind. But for me, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was a favourite.SUICIDE SQUAD

With her backstory glazed over, the audience wanted more, and when we saw the transformation from the straight-laced Dr Harleen Quinzel to the manic Harley Quinn, I was very impressed with Robbie’s acting ability. Harley Quinn was un-hinged yet still self-aware of who she was, and her love for the Joker and contempt for the mission in hand. This made her character feel multi-dimensional, as she is not just the film’s sex appeal and Joker’s sidekick, but significantly more. She is shown to be completely bad-ass with baseball bat, yet possesses an angel face and dressed as a crazy cheerlander mixing with a circus performer. Harley Quinn certainly made an impact. ,

I’m also very interested in Jared Leto’s Joker. With plenty of boastful interviews about never breaking character throughout filming, and employing method acting constantly, Leto dedicated a lot of time and energy to portraying his Joker, yet we didn’t really see that. The Joker was a minor character in this story, and with around 15 minutes of screen time during the entire film, he isn’t given enough time to
make a real impact. However, I found his gangster apparel and mafia vibe to be tiresome. To me, The Joker is a solitary and lone figure that largely works above the regular villains. Leto makes him far more ‘Mob Boss’ rather than ‘Crazed Clown’. However, I am excited to see if he is explored more in further films.

However, to me the film fell down the pit that Batman Vs Superman did. There was a lot happening, but not a lot of plot, and what plot was there felt very disjointed and full of holes. The way it has been edited together felt choppy and disjointed, and there were some odd flashbacks and films over the film that didn’t really make sense. There was an initial plot line that seemed completely pointless, and the main drama was largely brushed over, and only resolved in the last third.

However, DC has learned from the heavily-panned Batman Vs. Superman by incorporating some lighthearted and comedic moments, which did relieve the drama slightly.

Despite this being a film full of villains, the main antagonist was The Enchantress. However, I didn’t think Cara Delevingne could cope with the character. The Enchantress was supposed to be an all power ancient spirit of a witch and completely evil, yet the actress just couldn’t grasp the severity of the character. If you want chilling villainy, look at Ledger’s The Joker, or Anthony Hopkins Hannibal. She just didn’t make an impact as The Enchantress, or the witch’s vessel, June Moon. She just felt weak to me, which made the final fight scene a bit lacklustre.

If you watched the trailers and read all the hype about Suicide Squad, you may be slightly disappointed. Harley Quinn was a real highlight, but the film itself was confusing, convoluted and not as crazy as we wanted it to be. Unfortunately, DC promised something big, but it still fell beneath expectations. However, if you want a film about crazed psychopaths trying to work together, with weird situations and hilarity ensuing, go and see the film. I found it be enjoyable, but don’t look too much into it.

Suicide Squad is in cinemas now.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie! (2016) – Film Review

Title: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks

Director: Mandie Fletcher

Genres: Comedy, Fashion, British Comedy, Sitcom

Rating: 3/5


For the last few months, all that the British newspapers seem to have been reporting on is the EU Referendum, post-Brexit slump, horrific acts of terrorism, and football hooliganism. And quite rightly so. But in a climate where every newspaper seems to boom out doom-and-gloom news, it is no wonder that light-hearted comedy is needed. And with the release of the eagerly anticipated Absolutely Fabulous movie on July 1st, this could’ve been the breath of ridiculousness that we all needed.
As a fan of the original series (which aired before my birth), I was so excited when principle filming started, and when the trailer came out with all the glitz and silliness of a typical Ab Fab style, it promised to be exciting what we all hoped it to be – A feature length Patsy and Edie adventure. However, when I saw it, I’m not going to lie, I was slightly disappointed.3600
The movie starts off in typical Edie-and-Patsy montage of ridiculousness. After crashing a Giles Deacon show during Fashion Week, we see Patsy and Edie inadvertently walking down the runway, before crashing and pushing celebrities off the coveted front row. So already I was giggling, and this was before anything was said.

Edie and Patsy have declared that ’60 is the new 40’ but for Edie in particular, her life seems to be in a downward style. After losing out on a book deal for her memoirs, as well as rapidly dropping clients, Edie’s PR agency is rapidly losing out on money and public interest. However, it is revealed that Kate Moss (a.k.a ‘Her Skinniness’) is in desperate need for a PR Agent, and Edie jumps at the chance to represent her. However, at a party, Edie accidentally pushes Kate off a railing and into the Thames, never to be seen again.

Suddenly Edie is wanted for murder, and with a jail sentence looming, she and Patsy flee to the South of France to find a sugar daddy to help them fund their new life. The Absolutely Fabulous Movie is ultimately an adventure of silliness, ridiculous fashion featuring our favourite trainwrecks.

So what did I love about the movie? Well, the fashions were absolutely amazing. With the host of designer clothes, the wardrobe department of the movie have managed to pick the most outrageous and colourful for Edie and Patsy and transformed them into something that almost seems satirical towards the extremity of some designer labels. The premise of the story was also good. ‘Killing Kate Moss’ was always going to make for an intriguing storyline, and with Edie and Patsy jetsetting off to Cannes and the South of France, it screamed old-age glamour.absolutely_fabulous_0

I also loved all celebrity cameos. With Lulu and Emma Bunton still appearing to be long-suffering versions of themselves, Rebel Wilson playing the worst flight attendant in history and John Hamm revealing that Patsy took his virginity, the film was ridiculous in how many celebrities were cast and happy to play outlandish versions of themselves.

But what let me down for this film was the script. When watching it, it felt tired, stretched and, to me, was just a rehash and reminder of their original jokes that made television gold when they were initially released. There was very little new material, and for the brilliant comedic writing of Jennifer Saunders, I was disappointed. However, the chemistry and characters of Edie and Patsy never failed, and neither did the power duo of Saunders and Lumley. They kept the film going when it felt too dry, and it was wonderful to see them together again.

I did like how it revamped Absolutely Fabulous, and brought Edie and Patsy screaming and kicking into the world of Twitter, social media and hashtags, but there is always going to be difficulty when bringing British sitcoms to the big-screen, as they work so well as half-hour segments, rather than rambling two hour ones. However, it was wonderful to see our two favourite drunks again. It was Edie’s and Patsy’s last hurrah, and for a post-Brexit Britain, it was the hurrah we needed.

Overall, a lighthearted romp that will please fans of the original sitcom, but don’t expect it to be too groundbreaking.

The film is in cinemas now.

 

Alice Through The Looking Glass (2016) – Film Review

Title: Alice Through The Looking-Glass

Cast: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Rhys Ifans, Matt Lucas, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen

Director: James Bobin

Genres: Action, Adventure, Disney, Fantasy, Book-to-Film Adaptation, Gothic

Rating: 3/5


As you can tell by the title of this blog, this particular reviewer has an affinity to Alice in Wonderland. I was named after that book, and have had it as part of my literary life as much as any other childhood book.

When Tim Burton released his 2010 reimagination of Lewis Carroll’s tale, I fell in love with how he took the original characters and put his own unique spin on what would happen if Alice grew up and returned to Underland (incorrectly named ‘Wonderland’ by the child Alice), and I assumed there would be a Looking Glass sequel. So when I saw it in the cialice_through_the_looking_glass_film_posternema with my boyfriend last week, I went in with all the expectations and knowledge from the book, but unfortunately came out a little disappointed.

We find Alice a few years after we left her in Burton’s original film. After rejecting Hamish’s marriage proposal and becoming a sea captain of her father’s ship, The Wonder, Alice has explored Asia and returns to England with a head full of plans, reports and expectations. However, her whole world comes crashing to a halt when she finds her mother in a perilous financial state, with the loss of her home and the ship looming thanks to the efforts of her daughter’s jilted suitor.

But as usual, Underland beckons, and Alice manages to find another Narnia-esque portal through a disused mirror. Alice soons tumbles back into the world of her childhood adventures, but she soons releases that all is not well in the magical land. The Mad Hatter seems to be in a depressive slump and falling farther and farther into madness, thanks to the memories of his deceased family, and Alice is dispatched to travel back through time and save his family from their brutal slaying by the Jabberwocky.

But in order to do so, Alice has to deal with Time. And Time isn’t just a abstract concept in this film, but an actual half human/half robotic demigod, whose prize possession is the exact thing Alice needs to steal to complete her mission.

The audience is then treated to a series of different time periods and origin stories. The Mad Hatter is shown as a young boy and then a fresh-faced youth who is the black sheep of his austere hatting family, and we are given new reasons for the Red Queen’s swollen head and her hatred for her sister. And through a series of incidents, Alice has to save the hatter, mend time as well as save her mother.

So, what did I think of the film? Well, like I’ve said, I adored the first film. I really enjoyed the cast (I still do in this film), love the setting and beauty of the CGI and imagination of Underland (I still do), and I really liked the dynamic and chemistry of the characters and how they interact. But this film was lacking something. Maybe due to the fact that Burton was only a producer and not the director of Looking Glass, but this film didn’t have the sparkle and zazz of the 2010 film.

The plot was busy, and wasn’t particularly strong in the plot points. The whole idea of Time was good, and I loved the setting of the clock and the visual element of that, but I didn’t necessarily think the Hatter’s family needing an origin story, and there wasn’t a need to alter time lines. However, I did enjoy seeing the young Red and White Queen, and where their quarrels and differences came from. null

I also loved the smaller details of the films, such as Time having creations he called seconds, which turned into minutes, and why the Red Queen was so keen to cut peoples heads off. But I did feel that it was slightly jumbled and too busy for one film.

The characters were also good, with the memorable cast of Johnny Depp playing a ditzy yet loveable Mad Hatter, and Mia Wasikowka’s Alice being a proper no nonsense and tomboyish version young woman. Sacha Baron Cohen’s personification of the robotic, German-accented Time was also a refreshing and comical feature, and there was real poignancy and emotion of hearing the late Alan Rickman’s voice as Absolem.

But all in all, I felt that despite it being an overall entertaining, light-hearted romp in Underland, this film was really missing something. It didn’t have the gothic beauty of Burton’s original film, nor was it particularly strong in plot wise or story wise. It just felt a bit distracting, colourful and all over the place. Which is shame.

In the words of the Mad Hatter from the first film, ‘You were much more… muchier. You’ve lost your muchness’.