Harriet (2019) – Review

A Universal Picture, Written by Gregory Allen Howard, Kasi Lemmons, Directed by Kasi Lemmons.

This is a solid and well made biopic about one of the most important people in American history. I couldn’t help but get the feeling that this film didn’t properly show the full impact this woman had and the amount of lives she saved.

It is told in a very standard manner and while this gets the job done, I wish there had been a bit more imagination put into it to create something truly special.

The supporting turns from Leslie Odom Jr, Joe Alwyn, and Janelle Monáe are effective, but the film is carried entirely on the back of Cynthia Erivo, who is very good here.

She also stands a chance of becoming the youngest EGOT in history due to her song ‘Stand Up’ (she has no chance in the acting race) and it would be interesting to see such a piece of history.

Rating = 3/5

Uncut Gems (2019) – Review

An A24 Picture, Written by Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein, Directed by Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie.

Uncut Gems is undoubtably a unique piece of cinema and exactly the sort of indie film that I hope continues to be made.

It is totally a singular vision, and absolutely thrilling, with the style of the Safdie bros shining through to create a truly anxiety inducing price of cinema.

The editing and sound teams deserve to be in awards contention this year as they are some of the best I have seen in a long time.

The whole cast is amazing, with the mix of real people and actors truly adding to the feel of the film. Kevin Garrett as himself and Idina Menzel do good jobs, while Lakeith Stanfield continues to prove he is one of our best character actors.

In her debut role, Julia Fox delivers one of the performances of the year. She brings amazing charisma to every scene and truly makes your root for her. She has a particular scene that has got everyone talking and rightfully so (it is incredibly memorable) but she is amazing throughout. She has a unique and stunning visual presence, as well as genuine acting talent. I really wish she was in the best supporting actress consideration this year.

The man who absolutely carries this film is Adam Sandler, proving yet again what a remarkable actor he can be when he pushes himself. This is a very tough role to pull off and he does it with ease, showing what a talent he can be and I truly hope he continues to take on these sort of roles, even though he never got any awards attention for this film.

Rating = 4/5

Miss Americana (2020) – Review

A Netflix Original Picture, Directed by Lana Wilson.

Taylor Swift is one of the biggest selling, highly decorated, and most talked about celebrities of the 21st Century, and this documentary allows us behind closed doors to get a better understanding of who she is.

This is less a story about how a country girl managed to rise to the top of a male dominated industry, and more about the person herself.

We see how famous incidents have effects her (the shocking and indefensible Kanye moment in 2009, the Kim vs Taylor feud, her finally making a political stand) and it gives context to these moments we all saw play out from the outside.

On an interesting side note, Swift has a very powerful speech about being a ‘nice girl’, which really made me think of the ‘cool girl’ speech from Gone Girl, so if there are any Amy Dunne fans watching this, I’m sure that will amuse you too.

She makes it clear that for much of her life she put her happiness in the hands of people liking her, which is something many people can relate to, and it is great to see her healthy growth in how she feels about herself and how she lives her life in her own way.

The way she deals with her sexual assault case and her eventual step into politics is commendable, and she seems determined to support the fans and the people who have got her where she is. Taylor Swift is now “un-muzzled” (as she herself puts it) and ready to fight for what she believes in.

I will say that while this is clearly a stage managed documentary, so it is not possible to get the full picture and unflinching understanding of who she truly is, I do believe this shows us a lot and makes one point very clear to me.

Strip away all the fame and fortune, and Taylor Swift is a good person, who is actively trying to educate herself so she can continue to be an ally to those who need her the most.

Rating = 3.5/5

Bojack Horseman Season 6: Part 2 (2020) – TV Review

We have finally reached the end of one of televisions most stunning achievements. What started as an amusing animation that lovingly made fun of Hollywood and it’s inhabitants, quickly became one of the most startling examinations of the human condition ever put on screen.

The whole show, throughout its 6 season run, has dealt with depression, trauma, sexuality, self destructive behaviour, sexuality, racism, and most importantly, our experience as humans. It has done this through a unique and unflinching lens that has allowed true growth for its characters and for some real lessons to be learned by its audience.

Despite all this, it has also managed to be a genuinely hilarious show, with much of the humour so cleverly skewering Hollywood and the pop culture landscape in a loving yet skeptical way, that I am convinced this show was written specifically for me.

The whole supporting cast have become characters we truly love, especially Diane, Princess Carolyn, Todd, and Mr PeanutButter (one of TVs greatest good guys/boys). The voice work on these characters has been exceptional and in this final season, while they all take a real backseat to Bojack, they certainly have arcs that feel right and natural for them.

The final season deals head on with the ‘Me Too era’ in one of the most authentic and well done ways I have seen so far, and it also presents us with Bojack’s reckoning and his battle between his self destructive tendencies and his desire to live as a good man.

The show ends on a touching and yet not preachy note, and this final run of episodes really felt like a time to reflect on not just the lives of the characters, but ourselves.

There was once a marketing campaign for a season of the show where a poster said “Soprano. Draper. Underwood. Horseman” jokingly putting Bojack in the same boat as those iconic tv anti-heroes. However, as the years have gone on, the character and the show have proved they truly belong alongside those icons of the peak TV era.

There have been very few shows like Bojack Horseman, there will be very few like it in the future, and I am just glad I got to experience this show when I did.

“Back in the 90s, I was in a very famous TV show”

Rating = 5/5

Fast and Furious 9 – Trailer Reaction

The extra long first trailer for “F9” has finally dropped and it is completely bonkers, and certainly attention grabbing.

Some of the action looks so implausible and over the top that it’s almost unmissable, but it’s the narrative decisions that really interest me.

Dom’s brother is introduced as the villain of the film, played by non other than John Cena, and he seems to be teaming up with Charlize Theron’s villain Cipher.

We also see the return of Jordana Brewster as Mia, but no mention of how they will explain where ‘Brian’ is.

Additionally, we finally get the return of Lucas Black as Sean (the lead of Tokyo Drift, who is surely going to have a hell of a reunion with a certain someone in this film).

There is also no Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham, although Helen Mirren does show up briefly.

However, all of this isn’t even the craziest part of the trailer, as right at the end it is revealed Han is alive. It is a great moment but feels slightly like a cop out for all those asking for ‘Justice for Han’ to just miraculous bring him back, but I will withhold judgment until I see the film.

While this all seems totally ridiculous, I will absolutely be there opening weekend.

The Rhythm Section (2020) – Review

A Paramount Picture, Written by Mark Burnell, Directed by Reed Marano.

A “spy film” from the producers of James Bond, directed by Reed Marano, and starring Blake Lively should be a huge deal, especially to the people who are always clamouring for a ‘female bond’. However, the film was poorly marketed and the final product is lacklustre.

This is much more of a character study about a woman’s breakdown following the loss of her family and how she chooses unusual methods to do so, than an action film. It is a far cry from the sexy and kick ass heroines of films like Red Sparrow and Atomic Blonde, which happened to be much better films that I hope someday get follow ups, and it would’ve been ok if the had been executed better anyway.

The structure of the film just feels simultaneously rushed and yet drags, with the story feeling cliched in many ways. The scene of Lively in ‘disguise’ attempting to kill someone and the impressive long take car chase are the two real moments that made me wonder what could’ve been.

I still look forward to what the clearly talented Marano does in the future, and I hope people start to back spy films starting female leads instead of just asking for male characters to be turned female, especially if they are as good as Atomic Blonde or Red Sparrow.

Blake Lively is absolutely the best thing here (despite some of the ridiculous wigs and hairstyles she is given) and she shows yet again that in the right role she is very talented and a real movie star, and I hope she gets a strong follow up role.

Rating = 2.5/5

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) – Review

A Sony Picture, Written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster, Directed by Marielle Heller.

This film could quite easily have been a run of the mill biopic about a famous American idol. However, what we get is an inventive story about Mister Rogers, and more specifically about how his brand of kindness is something we should all strive towards.

The film uses the framing device of the story being told as though it is a extended episode of Mr Roger’s show, detailing how Mr Rogers helps our protagonist Lloyd to finally confront his issues with his father and finally be the family man he wants to be, and through this we are also able to get a deep understanding of Rogers.

He is a constantly kind and thoughtful man, but it is made very clear that this is an active choice. He strives to be kind every day, battling some of his natural instincts, and it isn’t something he is easily able to do, but he is a better man for it.

Marielle Heller is proving herself to be a incredibly versatile and exciting director. She makes some great visual and narestive decisions here, just like she has done in her previous films, and she really makes this film stand out.

Matthew Rhys is really good as the lead of the film, and does a good job walking the line between being haunted by demons but still being likeable enough for us to want him to get better.

Chris Cooper has some of the most important and powerful scenes in the film, and he proves time and time again what a great character actor he is.

There is truly only one man who could’ve played Fred Rogers, and that is one of America‘s most loved sons, Tom Hanks. He gives off such kindness, while also showing us glimpses of his inner struggle, making him a real character and not a cliche. He deserved his Oscar nomination.

“To die is to be human”

Rating = 4/5

BAFTA Predictions

The BAFTAs are the final major awards show before the Oscars and are the most prestigious awards ceremony in British film. While they often reflect quite closely what the American academy will do, there are usually some notable differences, with obvious preference to British film. I have made some bold predictions (especially supporting actress) but this is how I think the BAFTAs may play out.

Most Predicted Wins – 1917 – 6

Best Film 

Predicted Winner = 1917

Main Challenger = Parasite

Outstanding British Film 

Predicted Winner = 1917

Main Challenger = For Sama

Best Direction 

Predicted Winner = Sam Mendes – 1917

Main Challenger =Bong Joon-ho – Parasite

Best Lead Actor

Predicted Winner = Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

Main Challenger =Taron Egerton – Rocketman

Best Lead Actress

Predicted Winner = Renee Zellwegger – Judy

Main Challenger =Saoirse Ronan – Little Women

Best Supporting Actor 

Predicted Winner = Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Main Challenger =Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes

Best Supporting Actress 

Predicted Winner = Florence Pugh – Little Women

Main Challenger =Margot Robbie – Bombshell

Best Original Screenplay 

Predicted Winner = Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Main Challenger =Han Jin-won and Bong Joon-ho – Parasite

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Winner = Anthony McCarten – The Two Popes

Main Challenger =Greta Gerwig – Little Women

Outstanding Debut by a British Director, Writer or Producer 

Predicted Winner = Waad Al-Khateab (Director/Producer) and Edward Watts (director) – For Sama

Main Challenger =Mark Jenkin (Writer/Director) and Kate Byers, Lynn Waite (Producers) – Bait

Best Foreign Language Film   

Predicted Winner = Parasite

Main Challenger = Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Best Documentary Film

Predicted Winner = For Sama

Main Challenger = Diego Maradona

Best Animated Film

Predicted Winner = Toy Story 4

Main Challenger = Klaus

Best Editing

Predicted Winner = Le Mans 66 (Ford v. Ferrari)

Main Challenger = The Irishman

Best Cinematography 

Predicted Winner = 1917

Main Challenger = Le Mans 66 (Ford v. Ferrari)

Best Production Design 

Predicted Winner = Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Main Challenger = 1917

Best Costume Design

Predicted Winner = Little Women

Main Challenger = Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Make Up and Hair 

Predicted Winner = Bombshell

Main Challenger = Judy

Best Original Score

Predicted Winner = 1917

Main Challenger = Joker

Best Sound

Predicted Winner = 1917

Main Challenger = Le Mans 66 (Ford v. Ferrari)

Best Special Visual Effects 

Predicted Winner = The Lion King

Main Challenger = 1917

Best Casting

Predicted Winner = Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Main Challenger = Joker

Rising Star

Predicted Winner = Kaitlyn Dever

Main Challenger =Awkwafina

Fellowship

Kathleen Kennedy

The Good Place Season 4 (2019/20) – TV Review

The Good Place has proven over its four year run to be one of the most genuinely kind hearted, inventive, and well written shows on TV. We live in a very divisive and often unpleasant world right now, and yet this show is able to really tap into the core of what it truly means to be a good person, without ever seeming preachy.

The first three seasons of this show featured some of TVs best and most unexpected twists, which meant the show kept constantly keeping itself fresh. While I didn’t think the fourth season totally lived up to what came before, it was a very fitting and powerful end to the show.

Mike Schur and his team of writers not only make some of the best pop culture/film industry jokes as anyone else, they also take us on a deep exploration of humanity and it’s many forms. The final season firmly established these notions and tied up all loose ends, showing that people aren’t periods for but if they are willing to learn, they deserve another chance, and that the only reason that life is so special is because it ends one day, and we need to make the most of it while we are here.

The whole cast, especially the lead six (Bell, Danson, Jamil, Carden, Jackson Harper, Jacinto) have been absolute revelations, creating a core group of characters that are all markedly different and yet find that their true soulmates are each other.

The particular stand outs from this particular season were Kristen Bell, Ted Danson and D’Arcy Carden, all bringing great humour but also great depth and heart to the characters.

“Everything Is Fine”

Rating = 4/5

Dracula (2020) – TV Review

The legend of Dracula is one of the most well known and frequently adapted stories in the history do literature, and I truly believe this will stand up as one of the best.

You can tell it is from Moffat and Gatiss as it has their distinct style, whilst also mixing well with the classic elements of the story. It is a bloodbath, drilling in atmosphere and gothic beauty, which is exactly what you hope for from this story.

The first two episodes especially play out like the ultimate gothic horror, with romance, sex, murder and everything else taking centre stage.

The third episode is the weakest but still very enjoyable, especially the stunning scenes of Whitby and the abbey, they very location that is thought to have inspired Bram Stoker to write the story’s.

The absolute best parts of the show is the casting of the two leads, both are absolutely perfect in their roles.

Dolly Wells is truly remarkable as Agatha Van Helsing. She brings charisma, humour, and a no nonsense edge to this update on the legendary vampire hunter.

As for the man himself, Claes Bang makes for a stunning Count Dracula. He is truly wicked, absolutely hilarious, and looks and sounds exactly like I have always imagined the character would.

The ending suggests we won’t be getting a further season which is a shame, but the show can go down as a real success and one of the best every adaptations of the legendary story.

Rating = 4/5

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started