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.

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!

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’.

 

The Jungle Book (2016) – Film Review.

Title: The Jungle Book

Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito.

Director: Jon Favreau

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Drama, Disney, Adventure

Rating: 4.5/5


In the past few years, we have been lucky enough to see some of the  ol’ Disney favourites being remade and rejigged for a newer audience. Alice in Wonderland has, and is still having, the Tim Burton treatment, whilst Cinderella and our favourite baddie Maleficient have been given live-action counterparts and new movies to entrathe-jungle-book-heronce audience back into the cinema seats. And when it was announced that they were going to be doing the same with The Jungle Book, I was so excited. As somebody with younger siblings, I’ve watched The Jungle Book a lot, and still find the story and songs as charming and whimsical as the day I first watched it. And as time passed, and a star-studded cast was announced to be playing my favourite animal roles, my excitement grew. And boy, did this film not disappoint.

Adapated from the 1894 collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book tells the story of the orphaned Mowgli, who was raised from a very young age by a wolf pack in the jungle. Despite considering himself a wolf, and feeling right at home with his adoptive family, Mowgli’s life is turned upside when a threat from the fearsome and rengade tiger, Shere Khan, forces him to flee the jungle and join the human village. Assisted by his friends, Bagheera the panther and Baloo, the bear,  Mowgli is sent on a journey of finding out who he is, and who is is capable of becoming.

What I love about this remake is despite going into the film already familiar with the plot, it never lost its magical feel. The original 1967 movie was the last time Walt Disney gave a movie his personal touch,, and there is something masterful about that film that spans generations. But this new version only updates this feeling. Gone is the old-fashioned animatioTHE JUNGLE BOOKn, and it has been replaced with state-of-the art technology and CGI. The animals looked hyper real, and the songs (despite being radically cut down to only including ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wanna Be Like You’) feel natural and not just like another Disney musical. The story had relatively the same storyline, but with a new plot development including Shere Khan and the leader of the wolf pack, Akela, the film creates new and ingenous twists on the familiar story.Also, by using some of Kipling’s later stories, such as with the addition of the the Water Truce, along with The Law of the Jungle poem, it really gave the first part of the film a literary and emotional tie to Kipling.

The cast were utterly fantastic and fiting for the characters they spoke for, but what really stole the show for me was Idris Elba’s Shere Khan. The old villianous tiger has been reimagined to far more bloodthirsty and dangerous, and Elba’s smooth and sometimes arrogant tones really add something to the tiger. Both Scarlett Johansson, in her memorising portrayal of the nefarious Kaa, and Bill Murray for his rendition of the mellow ursine Baloo won high praise from me. Lupita Nyong’o’s gentleness and maternal warmth brings a dignity to Raksha, the mother wolf. And without the cool wisdom of seasoned thespian Ben Kingsley, Mowgli’s guide through the jungle, Bagheera the panther, would have fallen short.441210-shere-khan-the-jungle-book

But be warned, this film is not for children, or the faint hearted. Despite only being rated a PG, the film has got some dark points, and with the detail of the CGI, the animals feel more realistic. Tigers have become tigers, and not just cartoon characters. So, this isn’t going to be a film you take a six-year-old to see.

But all in all, a fantastic rendition of Disney’s classic masterpiece, and if this is anything to go by, I’m very excited to see what the next live-action adaptation is going to be like.

The Jungle Book is out now!

Top 5 – Book-to-Film Adaptations.

Now, I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact of when I hear about film adaptation of a book I’ve read; I get extremely excited for it. It helps if I’ve obviously enjoyed the book, and I love theorising over who will be cast as who, and how they’ll direct particular scenes and what wording from the book will make it into the movie. And whether it’s a good adaptation or a bad one, it’s always worthy comparing them and seeing whether the film stands up to the book, or vice versa.

So, with my blogpost series of Top 5’s  becoming an actual thing, I thought I’d do a blogpost about my personal top 5 favourite book-to-film adaptations. And from this you’ll hopefully be able to discover some new films, or even new books.

1: Gone with the Wind.
Film: 1939 – Book: 1939
Director: David O. Selznick – Author: Margaret Mitchell.gone-with-the-wind
Mitchell’s text is an historical, sweeping novel set in and around the Deep South during the American Civil War, and focuses on life of Scarlett O’Hara, ex-Southern Belle and survivor of the war. And with the film having an impressive running time of nearly four hours, it certainly matches up to the gargantuan novel. The film sticks fairly faithfully to the plot, and with Hollywood royalty of Clarke Gable, Vivian Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard, the film is rich, sumptuous and a true classic.

2: Memoirs of a Geisha.
Film: 2005 – Book: 1997
Director: Rob Marshall – Author: Arthur Golden
Set against the beautiful Japanese backdrop of 1920s Kyoto, Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha memoirs-of-a-geishaenthralled me as a young teenage, as young Chiyo is sold to a geisha house and through her trials and tribulations, ends up being of the most celebrated geisha of her time. And Marshall’s movie brings this story to life, with a very well-cast crew of actors (Gong Li is a superb Hatsumomo), and a very true-to-novel plot, the film isn’t loud of brash, but approaches Chiyo’s tale in a superb manner.

 

 

3: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Film: 2009 – Book: 2005
Director: Niels Arden Oplev – Author: Steig Larsson.
the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattooA unsettling and thrilling film which grabs all the tension of Larsson’s first novel, and runs away with it. By paying close attention to the novel, and casting the fierce Noomi Rapace as the mysterious Lisbeth Salander, the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is ride from start to finish. Although scenes are taken from later books in Larsson’s series, the film is taut, terrifying and delightful all in one go.
(I haven’t seen the English version starring Daniel Craig, so I can only recommend this version)

4: Rebecca
Film: 1940 – Book: 1939
Director: Alfred Hitchcock – Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Once again, another classic film that has thrilled audiences for decades. Fans of Du Maurier’s original novel have praised this novel for how faithfully it stuck to the story, and with the power crebecca-alfred-hitchcock-21250737-400-303ouple of Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine playing the tragic Mr and Mrs de Winter, this black-and-white gothic tale has thrilled and titillated since release. With Hitchcock’s supreme directing style, and use of suspense, it is no wonder that the author herself said that this film, along with Don’t Look Now, are the only adaptations of her work that she had time for. Also, watch out for Judith Anderson’s excellent acting as the deranged housekeeper Mrs Danvers.

5: To Kill a Mockingbird
Film: 1962 – Book: 1960
Director: Robert Mulligan – Author: Harper Lee
I don’t think any film list can be complete without putting this film forwardto_kill_a_mockingbird_still. Lee’s Gothic tale of racism, inequality and moral issues has been read in countless schools, and her protagonist’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a sort of moral hero for readers. And in Mulligan’s 1962, Gregory Peck plays Finch in a sensitive and just manner, and with an excellent script and casting of Scout and Jem, the film really blows other adaptations out of water due to its direction and faithfulness to the text.

So, these are my top 5 choices. This year there are so many good books being adapted into films (I’m very excited to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), but I’d like to know what you’re excited for. Leave your answers in my comments.
Until next time!

Deadpool (2016) – Film Review

Title: Deadpool

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams

Director: Tim Miller

Genre: Superhero, Action, Marvel Film, Comic Book Adaptation

Rating: 4.5/5


 

When it comes to the release of a new Marvel film, there are always going to huge levels of anticipation, paired with tons of excitement, which turns into queues of fans waiting eadeadpool-poster-dec1stgerly at the doors of the cinema to get their fix of the newest installment. And when test footage was leaked online in July 2014 of hearthrob Ryan Reynolds playing the fan-favourite antihero Deadpool, the wait for the release of this origin movie was almost painful. But, as of February 12th 2016, this wait was over. But was it worth it? The answer is, of course.

In this film, Ryan Reynolds plays the smart-mouthed, quip-a-plenty and slightly insane antihero who, as shown through the origin side, is on a mission of revenge after a last-minute cancer cure leaves him with not only mutant abilities, but a horrible disfiguration. Now, before becoming Deadpool, the audience meets Wade Wilson, a handsome, hilarious mercenary who not only has the face of a god, but the girl of his dreams, Vanessa. But, like all fairytales (and theirs is certainly one of love mixed with depravity), something has to break it apart. Wilson is diagnosed with late-stage cancer of his liver, brain, prostate and and lungs, and the question is tossed up of his survival. But then Wade gets offered a get-out-of-jail-free card. Initially called a government-funded workshop, he is promised that this experiment would not only cure his cancer, but give him abilities that would surpass a normal human being, and make him into a version of a ‘superhero’. However, Wade is tricked by the conniving ‘doctor’, a figure of power called Ajax, and subjected to hideous torture and excruciating pain, which results in horrific scarring and a deep-seated desire for revenge.

So what makes Deadpool such a good movie? Well, there hasn’t really been a Marvel film that properly disappoints fans yet, as they all feature their favourite comic heroes, massive budgets and excellent cameos from Stan Lee. And Deadpool does follow that tradition. But unlike other Marvel films, this is a lot darker, bloodier, sexier and adult than what people usually associate with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It focuses on a crazy character, who actively rebels against the X-Men and deadpoolthe idea of a ‘hero’, and just wants to make this right with his girl and his life. Despite being called an extension of the X-Men films, there are so many jokes at their expense, and at the whole superhero genre that it makes it feel completely different and unique. Deadpool waltzs into fights without any concern, (knowing full well he will always heal) and always has the perfect one-liner for any situation. He is psychotic, babbling, hilarious, depraved and just plain vicious when it comes to the fight scenes, and Reynolds really comes into his own whilst playing him. This is Reynolds third attempt at a superhero movie (previously playing The Green Lantern in the heavily-panned film, and a ridiculous version of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) but this really is three-times the charm as his timing, charisma and chemistry with the rest of the cast really makes up for his past failings.

As shown in other Marvel films (Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man) humour really does account for a lot in superhero films, as it breaks through all fighting and the special effects and other-worldness of heroes and makes them a bit more human-like. And Deadpool is laugh-a-minute. Despite Deadpool having a constantly running commentary, none of his jokes falls flat, and each character does have their own comedy sketch to shine in. The scenes of torture that are shown are also kept a lot lighter than they could be, with Reynolds delivering excellent gallows-humour to keep spirits up. There are also a lot of visual gags and even dick jokes that still add to the overall madness of the film.deadpool1-gallery-image

The film also never slows down the pace, and constantly breaks the fourth wall (with an excellent line delivered by Reynolds of ‘A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like… 16 walls’), so you really get to interact with the character and how he perceives superheros and the whole world around them. Also, with a kick-ass soundtrack by Tom ‘Junkie XL’ Holkenborg, this films has all the elements of a great superhero film, but with a psychotic antihero as the protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and think it is the perfect addition to the Marvel Universe, and would love to see more of these ‘adult’ superhero films in the future.

Now, disclaimer. With quite graphic scenes of murder, violence, sex and language, this is a comic-book movie like none of the other Marvel films. This film is rated 15 in the UK, and R in other countries, so it may not be suitable for younger viewers who are expecting the lighter movies that Marvel have produced in the past.

But I can’t wait to see the next addition of the franchise, and I know I’ll be rewatching this
movie over and over again.

So, if you’ve seen Deadpool, let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

The Hateful Eight (2015) – Film Review

Title: The Hateful Eight

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kirk Russell, Tim Roth, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madsen, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern, Demián Bichir, James Parks

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Genre: American Western, Mystery, Murder-Mystery

Rating: 4.5/5


 

To me, to this day, there is only one director whose films I will actively go and watch in the cinema. Yes, I love plenty of other directors and producers – Baz Luhrmann, Danny Boyle, Tom Hooper, are just a few – but when it comes to physically going to the cinema, buying popcorn and a ticket and just staring up at the screen for hours on end, there is only one director that I will properly do that for. And that is Quentin Tarantino.

the-hateful-eight-poster1To me, his blend of extreme violence, long tracking shots, lengthy monologues and the Mexican stand-off just makes for a story of epic proportions. I could rewatch every Tarantino film, and still feel like it was the first time. So, I was unbearably excited to finally go and see his newest, and coincidentally, his eighth film, The Hateful Eight. And with a stellar cast including Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Kirk Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madsen and Walton Goggins, what more was there not to love?

Set in the blisteringly cold and mountainous Wyoming post-American Civil War, the film is divided into chapters – not unlike that of Kill Bill and other Tarantino films – and the first two chapters focus on a stagecoach ride. Its inhabitants are two bounty hunters, Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) and Jon Ruth (Russell); and Ruth’s prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Leigh), as they all venture out towards the fictional town of Red Rock. Both are delivering their bounty’s – Warren’s being a motely group of dead criminals tied to the roof of the coach, whilst Ruth’s being that of the very-much alive Domergue. In the second chapter, the audience meets an ex ‘Lost-Causer’ military man, Chris Mannix (Goggins), who is also journeying to Red Rock to become the new sheriff.

However, as the weather worsens, and a blizzard threatens to overwhelm the stage coach, the motley crew are forced into stopping at a roadside inn called Minnie’s Haberdashery. And it is there where we meet the rest of the cast. They’re Joe Gage (Madsen), a solitary cattle-hand; Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), a highly charismatic hangman; Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), a retired Confederate general; and Bob (Demián Bichir), a Mexican handyman and the haberdashery’s temporary caretaker.hatefuleight

And it is whilst these strangers are trapped together does it become obvious that there is something nefarious going on. Ruth believes that there is somebody working to secure the release of Domergue, and in a style that is very reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs, we have a group of gun-slinging strangers who all distrust each other, but remain trapped in one small location. And this is where Tarantino is at his most comfortable and creative.

This film doesn’t disappoint in a lot of instances. We’ve got the fail-safe Tarantino-esque monologues and sweeping bits of dialogue that Samuel L. Jackson performs with such gusto and feeling. The cast equally have their own amazing strengths – Roth gives the comic relief that is sometimes needed in such a tense environment, whilst Goggins delivers the perfect ‘Gone-with-the-wind-highly-racist-Southern-deserter’ role with conviction, that you find him both disgraceful, yet pitiful. And as the only real strong female role in the entire film, Leigh deserves all the credit for making her Domergue the most unladylike and lowlife murderess going.

The film is tense to the point of breaking. It continues to ramp up the pressure, and you know, as a viewer, that there is going to be a snapping point. But Tarantino keeps twisting and turning in his story-telling, so much so that you don’t know exactly when or how the facade will break. But, with the addition of the superb soundtrack, composed by Ennio Morricone – his first Western soundtrack in 35 years – the tension became almost unbearable in some places.

So yes, I did absolutely love it. I find Tarantino’s use of the one room and intimate setting to be one that would always work. And it has. But to me, this film did feel like an accumulation, and sort of celebration of his other work, whether it was supposed to or not. As it did have all the elements of the rest of his films, the Hateful Eight could seem slightly disappointing to some, as it didn’t have much originality. With a black bounty hunter and severe racial tension coming straight from the world of Django, and the group of betraying strangers being something out of Reservoir Dogs, The Hateful Eight does just about hold its own in terms of the rest of his films, but maybe next time, we need to go back to the non-linear storylines of Pulp Fiction, and put this Old Western vibe to bed.

But with a brilliant and always entertaining cast, a director who always pushes it to the limit, and a storyline that is full of tension and gore, this film is so distinctive, it just had to be a Tarantino movie. And to me, that quintessential trope is always going to be a winner.

(Disclaimer – This film is rated an 18/R – and depicts very graphic scenes of violence, profane language and having elements of sex and nudity. If you are at all squeamish or could get offended or triggered by such events, I would suggest you steer clear. Information all taken off the IMDb’s Parental Guide)

 

 

 

The Danish Girl (2016) – Film Review

Title: The Danish Girl

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw, Matthias Schoenaerts, Amber Heard, and Sebastian Kochs

Director: Tom Hooper

Genre: Biography, Drama, Costume Drama, LGBTQIA Film, Historical Drama

Rating: 4/5


In the last couple of years, the LGBTQIA community have had some of their most positive media representation yet. With hit television shows, the-danish-girl-eddie-redmaynemovies, television presenters, media stars and political triumphs under their belt, it seems that the world has finally seemed to turn a corner in acceptance and love of a group of people that was so badly treated and downtrodden for decades.

And through all this, the transgender community has gone from strength to strength with people such as  Laverne Cox, Ian Harvie and Caitlyn Jenner highlighting the issues that so many have pushed under the carpet, and giving all the silent masses a voice in which to be heard by.

But before all this, there was a single woman. A figure of great significance, and a figure that, until now, has only been known by few. And that was Lili Elbe. Artist’s muse, haunting beauty, and born under the name Einar Wegener, Elbe was one of the pioneers of gender reassignment surgery, and remains a cultural icon to the transgender community today. And now, in 2016, Lili’s tale has come to life in a decadent film, directed by the acclaimed Tom Hooper and starring Academy Award -winning Eddie Redmayne and Golden Globe nominee Alicia Vikander.

At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Einar and Gerda Wegener. Depicted as a bohemian and happily married couple living in Copenhagen in the early 1900s, the couple both worked as artists, but originally at different levels of success. Whilst Einar was highly successful in his paintings of bleak landscapes, Gerda was struggling to get people to notice her portraits. And it is one of these portrait sittings where Einar’s life seems to have a revolutionary and remarkable turning point. When the Wegener’s mutual friend, a beautiful ballet dancer a711955211nd socialite Ulla (portrayed by Amber Heard) fails to turn up for her sitting, Gerda persuades Einar to step in and wear stockings and ballet shoes to give Gerda a point of reference. It is then the audience notices that Einar changes. It’s both a visible and emotional realisation for Einar, and maybe one he had never experienced before.

And following this turning point, the audience witnesses the blossoming of Lili through Einar, and how, despite initially Lili becomes a welcome muse for Gerda, the transition of Einar-to-Lili fully becomes a source of tension and ultimately a breakdown of marriage between the Wegener’s.The rest of the film then shows Lili deciding to go ahead with the pioneering surgery. And it is then we witness one of the most perfectly spoken lines of script in the film. Whilst speaking to her doctor, Lili says in a nervous manner, ‘I believe I am a woman’, and Gerda follows up, in a calm and assured voice ‘I believe it too’. To me, this acknowledgement of Gerda’s is one of the most positive reactions. In agreeing with Lili, Gerda shuts the door on Einar, and lets Lili become the woman she always wanted to be. And it was really one of those catch-in-the-throat moments that makes you fall further in love with Gerda.

The acting in this film is superb in my opinion. I realise there has been strife over the fact that Hooper did cast a cisgender man to play a transgender role, as well as blatant historical inaccuracies, but to me, I felt Redmayne played the part of Lili and Einar equally well.

In Einar, we saw a sensitive, caring husband whose struggles with his true self are shown to be both heart-wrenching and completely painful at time, and with Lili we see a shy and initially retiring woman who does rise from the ashes, and just wants to live her life as the woman she can has danishgirl1-xlargefinally become. What I did love about Redmayne’s performance was the obvious soul searching he does as Einar to become Lili. He spends a lot of time perfecting how he thinks a woman should move, how she sits and gestures with her hands, and also just how to be, subconsciously. There is pain when there needs to be, and there is also glee and realisation. And, as Golden Globe and Oscar season approaches, I would not be surprised if we see nominations and awards left right and centre.

But for me, it was Vikander who brought the house down. Before this, I hadn’t seen Vikander in much. But in this film she blew me away. She plays the feisty Gerda in such a dazzling manner. She’s flirty, outrageous, daring and loving at the beginning of the film, and as she watches her husband disappear and Lili to come to prominance, we see her lose some of her old self and seem to grow up in a way. She shows grief, dismay and anger for ‘the loss’ of Einar, but then support and resilience in living and supporting Lili. Without realising it, she even helps Einar make Lili the woman she wants to be, as in a touching montage, she is shown how a woman should walk, what clothes to wear and how to move. Vikander’s Gerda was always there as a pillar of support, and we do feel sympathy for her marriage breakdown, but also admiration for her strength.

The movie was also decadent in its filming and taste. With beautiful costuming, backdrop, visual effects and filming, the film is typical of Hooper’s lush and almost costume drama-y touch. But sometimes it felt as though the backdrops did distract from the actual action.

But all in all, I was thoroughly impressed with this film. Yes, sometimes it did feel slightly costume drama, and unlike Hopper’s brilliant The King’s Speech, there was moments when the drama did fall slightly short. But Redmayne’s acting, along with the force-to-be-reckoned-with Vikander more than made up for it. All in all, a movie to see.

But what do you think? What were your thoughts on a cisgender man playing such an iconic transgender role? Does Vikander deserve an Academy Award? Let me know in the comments.

The Danish Girl is out now.