Wonder Wheel

I know, I know. Woody Allen has a bad rep. But there is absolutely no denying his films are works of art. My favourite to this day is Midnight in Paris because the radiance it brings to the screen is not like anything I had seen to date. Wonder Wheel is on par with that. (Cafe Society is also one of my favourites but that’s mostly because Jesse Eisenberg is a dream).

Wonder Wheel tells the story of Ginny (Kate Winslet) a waitress in a clam bar on Coney Island. Ginny’s husband also works on Coney Island as a ride engineer and subsequently they live in an unused shack which used to be one of the carnivals main attractions, it is now a not-so-comfortable home to them and Ginny’s son.

Ginny’s stepdaughter arrives on the scene fairly early on in the story, Carolina (Juno Temple) is on the run from a mob as she has left her gangster husband and told too much of his story to the police, resulting in his hoodlums wanting to kill her.

The story is narrated by one of Coneys lifeguards, Mickie (Justin Timberlake) who ends up having an affair with Ginny whilst gradually falling in love with Carolina.

The story is full of twists and turns, although being fairly predictable (story-wise) it’s witty and charming nature makes it very easy to watch and the pace keeps the viewer interested.

Although Ginny isn’t the nicest human being on the planet (she is having an affair after all) I did end up caring deeply about her.

The whole film is a triumph but the icing on the top of a large, delicious cake comes in the form of Kate Winslet’s performance. She is just outstanding, her accent is flawless, she’s naturally genuine and completely captivating to watch. The support performances are also very strong, Justin Timberlake and Juno Temple work perfectly as the jam and cream within the cake (I think I might be hungry).

I strongly recommend this beautiful piece of original cinema. 🎡🎢🎠

Wonder Wheel

I, Tonya

I, Tonya follows the story of champion figure skater Tonya Harding from the age of 3 right up to her 40’s when she gave an interview about her career. It battles with domestic violence in the worst kind and family dramas. And it wasn’t for me.

I find it a lot easier to write about films I didn’t enjoy, compared to films I love. There’s only so many times I can say “it was amazing” before it starts loosing it’s meaning.
As always, at this time of year, like a lot of people I try and see as many of the Oscar nominated films as possible before the big day (for me, second to Christmas Day, the biggest day of the year). I now have exactly 1 week until the Golden Statue will be shining again and everyone (inevitably dressed in black #timesup) will be walking the red carpet in sunny Hollywood. I’m down to just 1 ‘best picture’ nominee left to watch, Lady Bird, which I am going to see today and yesterday I had the…pleasure? of watching I, Tonya.

I’m disappointed to say, I didn’t like it. I know, I know, you should never start a review off by saying you did, or didn’t, like something but that’s the honest truth. I wouldn’t say I was particularly excited about it in the first place but I was looking forward to seeing something new and different but was disappointed with what I saw.

I had the impression from the trailer that it was going to be a heavily performance based film and I thought the entire thing was held together with Alison Janney and Sebastian Stan, Janney was raw and honest and Stan was gritty and nasty to watch which both worked really well for me. Margot Robbie, who is nominated for the best actress award at the Oscars, was good but not like blow me away amazing. I think she has serious potential and has, obviously, been in a lot of big films but I just haven’t seen her in anything yet that made me think “yes, she’s one of the greats”. I look forward to the day I can say I was wrong.

The script was a big downfall for me, I couldn’t bare the way they kept breaking the fourth wall outside of the interview scenes, it didn’t fit in at all and I didn’t see the relevance of it. Not only was it a bit weird to watch but everything they said during those moments was pointless, not funny, not relevant and just out of place. It was like it was trying too hard to be something it’s not and didn’t need to be.
I also didn’t quite understand why it was trying to be a comedy, there were people around me laughing at things that in my head I was thinking “what on earth is funny about a mother throwing a knife into her daughters arm” – do people just laugh when they’re uncomfortable or was that the desired reaction?
There was a huge spotlight on the domestic abuse throughout Tonya’s life, which I understand was a big part of her growing up and her marriage but it felt a bit like it was constantly being repeated for audience reaction instead of actually focusing on the story. I got a bit lost in the middle when the “incident” happened and I didn’t even know who the person they were sabotaging was…or was that just me? Maybe I drifted off for a bit.
I was kind of hoping for something huge to happen at the end, which I know couldn’t have been made up because it was biographical but it felt very anti-climactic to me, like I was literally just waiting for it to end and for the “this is what happened to Tonya after the film” text came up.

I always take it as a sign that I’m not enjoying a film when I have to look at my watch during to find out how long I’ve got left and when I did that during I, Tonya I was disappointed to see I’d only watch an hour so far.

Clearly, this wasn’t a film for me and won’t be getting my vote come Sunday, even though I know Alison Janney is very likely to win. I’d much rather see Octavia Spencer pick up the Supporting Actress award.

But hey, I don’t decide the winners, yet.

I, Tonya

Journeys End

After having seen a lot of films based on/during the time of World War 2 I was looking forward to seeing a film that’s about the heart and soul of World War 1.

Journeys End tells the story of a British battalion going into the trenches in France during the First World War to attempt to gain land from the Germans. We meet the men of Captain Stanhope’s (Sam Claflin) troop as they prepare themselves for their designated 6 days in the trenches. Stanhope leads the group of men as a well respected captain with his co-captains as aid. During their second day in the trench Stanhope is called up by his superiors to send 10 of his men, plus two captains, on a raid to capture a German soldier for questioning. Whilst dealing with his own personal demons Stanhope makes the decision to send up Osborne (Paul Brittany) and Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) to lead the troop during the raid.

After a successful mission, despite the loss of Osborne, he comes to learn that on their 4th day in the trench they would be subject to an attack from the Germans, it is his duty now to prepare his men for such a challenge.

Their future is unlikely and Stanhope knows this from the start but with his strong intuition and bravery he leads his men into the battle.

The narrative of this film is slightly patchy in parts and is vague in terms of a clear beginning, middle and end. However, it is a strongly performance led film with standouts from Claflin and Butterfield (with a special shoutout for Toby Jones who plays the Baldrick-style army cook perfectly). A very realistic take on what life for those soldiers would have been like and a real eye opener.

A must see for any war film fans, be prepared for powerful sound effects and highly tense moments.

Journeys End

Early Man

It’s hard to find an Aardman production that I don’t like. I think the closest I’ll ever come to saying “I wasn’t keen” was for The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and that’s purely because the original W&G films are perfection. Early Man is another great example of just that.

The story of Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his Stone Age tribe is told through some of the best British comedy I’ve seen in a long time. We meet Dug and his companions during the Stone Age when there biggest challenge is hunting down a rabbit, until Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and the Bronze Age come along and take over their land. In a bid to keep there valley for themselves Dug and his friends challenge Lord Nooth to a duel, however in this case, the duel is a game of football.

Jam packed with British puns and football related humour this is definitely a film for the entire family to enjoy. It’s quirky, quick paced and all round entertaining. The use of some great British actors as the voices of the characters is genius, a particular stand out for me was Johnny Vegas and his character Asbo, just champion.

I love the style of Aardmans animation, it’s so iconic and makes the film feel somewhat nostalgic. They have a skill of using the claymation style to tell the story and it only adds to the jokes.

I recommend this film to anyone who is in the need for some harmless comedy and any lover of the beautiful game.

Well done Nick Park – you’ve done it again!

Early Man

**SPOILERS** The Maze Runner: Death Cure

The time is finally upon us, the end is high, so long hermano….

I was lucky enough to get into the UK Fan Screening of The Death Cure in Vue, Leicester Square last night. The Maze Runner series of books, written by James Dashner, are my favourite series of books (not including Harry Potter because…come on?) has been made into a series of films and has finally come to its end….unless Wes Ball decides to make the other two books…hint hint, PLEASE!

I was concerned about this film at first because of how badly the Scorch Trials reflected the book, they just made all these strange decisions and completely changed the whole story, like not mentioning that Thomas and Theresa have telepathic powers.
HOWEVER, I am working on the whole “see the film as something separate” thing and I think I achieved that mind set throughout Death Cure. Yes, there are a lot of changes to the book, for example why “nose man” is leading the rebellion when in the Scorch Trials BOOK he is crawling around the sewers trying to steal peoples noses…like why make such a dramatic change to the book? But still, they kept Gally in it, whom I adore (played by the incomparable Will Poulter) and they still killed off Newt, ok it’s super heartbreaking but it’s a good part of the story.

We’ve seen Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends make their way through and complete the Maze Trials. We’ve seen them loose some friends along the way and conquered the Scorch Trials and we find them at the start of the Death Cure fighting back against the capitalistic co-operation WCKD by taking down a high speed train in the middle of the Scorch to free their friend.
The film opens with this high intensity scene which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the film, the action is non-stop with a lot of scenes involving “cranks”, the zombie type characters that have been affected by the life threatening illness known as The Flare – the cranks have improved visually since The Scorch Trials, they’re repulsive in The Death Cure.
The main characters are tide together with a strong friendship bond which grows and grows throughout the film ending in one devastating scene which I’m glad they kept in from the book.

Personal grievance; There are two strong female characters in the series and they both have their time to shine in The Death Cure – Theresa (Kaya Scodelario) who is seen as Thomas’ love interest and the main female character and Brenda (Rose Salazar) who is a close friend of Thomas’ throughout the second two films. Brenda is by far my favourite character and it bothers me how much Theresa is marketed as the female hero when actually she’s a traitor and just an all round awful person who annoys me a lot. But that’s just my little vent about the characters, no reflection on the actual film.

I would highly recommend this series of films to anyone that is into the whole young adult fiction thing, such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. It’s my favourite out of those series (the books, not the films) although in close competition with The Hunger Games.
The Death Cure is full of heart and great performances from some amazing young actors, special shout out to Thomas Brody Sangster who has come along way from being the little boy in Love Actually, he makes a great crank.

Just remember one thing; WCKD….is not so good.

**SPOILERS** The Maze Runner: Death Cure

Get Out

Well, I’ve finally got round to watching this film before it inevitably picks up a few Oscar nominations.

We’ve recently had the Golden Globe awards where it randomly got nominated for Best Musical or Comedy which I totally don’t understand. I’m literally watching it right this second and I can confirm there is nothing funny or musical about this film.

It’s intense and not at all the sort of film I would normally watch but I’m so glad I am because it’s very, very impressive film making.

There are some true standout performances mostly from Daniel Kaluuya who is nailing his performance as confused Chris Washington. Chris has been taken to his girlfriends parents house for a relaxing weekend away only to discover that they are brainwashing black people but I’m yet to work out why. It’s such an interesting concept with some really modern themes running through.

One thing I’ve really picked up on is the camera work, the cinematography is stunning and so fitting for the film.

I will continue this post when I finish the film because I don’t really want to take my eyes off it for one second….

Ok so I’ve just finished the film, and it’s so funny how you can change your mind about a film halfway through.

I really loved the first half, the ambiguity of it was compelling and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. It was a clever story with great acting and an interesting concept.

The second half was textbook horror and I completely lost interest. I got bored when he was just running around the room killing everyone. Boring.

Ah well, the performances were great and loved all the technical stuff (cameras, lighting etc) but it kind of fizzled out for me.

On to the next one!

Get Out

My top 10 (…12) of 2017

As it’s New Year and everyone is all about making the resolutions I figured I should set myself a few realistic ones for 2018. First of all I really need to work harder at this blog, I really love writing about films and talking about films, I’m always that person at events that seems to somehow turn the conversation on to “what did you think of Star Wars?” so I really should embrace my blog more. Not to mention I use it to get press passes and then fail to actually publish any of the stuff I write about the events. So that ends NOW. I am going to set myself the challenge of at least 2 posts a month, talking about either films I see in the cinema, film events I attend or just old favourites I watch at home. Please bare in mind, Santa did very well this year by bringing me the new blu-ray box sets of the MCU phases 1 and 2. So there will be a lot of Marvel heavy content in the posts.
My other resolutions (besides attempting to get a tattoo) are going to be to find a job I love and stick at it, find a new house and most of all GRADUATE! I am so close to the end of 5 years of film studies (with a lengthy gap after the first two) that I cannot wait to say goodbye to education and get on with working on a proper career.

So, the finish of 2017 on my blog I am going to do a brief breakdown of my top 10 films of the year, now this is likely to either change or be extended when I look back over my film journal. But this is just a spontaneous blog post as my parents are having a New Years Eve party that I’ve managed to escape by saying I have “uni work” to do….

So my top 5 films of the first half of the year (Jan 1st – June 2nd) year:

1 – La La Land – It doesn’t feel possible that La La Land was released this year, it feels like a lifetime ago. How could I possible have a post about the best films of 2017 without a mention to this film. Musicals are a huge part of my life so for a film like this to be brought to the big screen and get the recognition is deserved meant that the world still has time for musicals. I don’t necessarily agree with everyone that says its as good as the musicals of the golden age, but it sure is a modern homage to them. It’s a shame it didn’t win the Oscar, I don’t know if it deserved to win it but I definitely would have given it to La La Land over Moonlight.

2 – Manchester by the Sea – Anyone who knows me, knows how much I adore Casey Affleck and this is not the only film starring him that is going to make it on to my top 10 (see “second half of the year”). I have a real issue with connection to my emotions, not just when watching films but also in every day life, I have a slight reputation of being the girl that can’t cry. There is one scene in Manchester by the Sea where Lee Chandler has to deal with the realisation of a heartbreaking situation whilst taking full responsibility for it and Afflecks performance is utterly compelling. He made me feel like I’ve never felt before whilst watching a film – a well deserved Oscar. Kenny Lonergans script and directing effort is both beautiful and effortless. If I could have chosen the winner for best film at this years Academy Awards it would have been this film. I just love it.


3 – Hidden Figures – Another worthy Oscar contender, it’s unsuprising that my top 5 films of the first half of the year consist mostly of Oscar nominees because the competition was unbelievably strong. A shout out aswell to Haksaw Ridge which so nearly made the cut, another stunning film.
Hidden Figures for me was everything I wanted to see from an Oscar nominated film, it has an exciting story which centres around some incredible characters and touches on some very important topics. It carries the entire film with controversial issues without making it heavy-going and depressing to watch. It’s an uplifting possitive effort to educate people about real events that took place. The leading performances from Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae are a match made in heaven – three performances that deserve to be celebrated.

4  – Logan – I wasn’t going to compile this list without at least one Marvel film featured and this year it just had to be Logan. I firmly believe Hugh Jackman deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance and finally the super-hero genre would get the recognition it deserves. Jackman had to say goodbye to his beloved Logan/Wolverine in this epic finale to his 9 film run within the X-Men series. Although being a part of that huge franchise Logan really does stand on it’s own two feet as a powerful film with its brilliant story line and powerhouse performances. A long with its amazing lead performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, the supporting cast also deserve some praise; Stephen Merchant, an unlikely choice for a superhero film, was absolutely fantastic and Dafne Keens debut was perfect as the role of Laura, Logans unknown daughter. A fantastic cast overall.
I was also lucky enough to see it as Logan Noir – an entire black and white edit of the film at the famous Prince Charles Cinema in London over the summer, it was the perfect film to see stripped back to black and white.

5 – Their Finest – Although to some people this might have been a forgettable film, it was one of the few films I gave 5 stars to this year. The film tells the story of a female film maker who has been appointed to make propaganda films during World War II. Filled with laughter and heartbreak this film really meant something to me, the story of Catrin Cole (played wonderfully by Gemma Arterton) is one of bravery and creativity and is incredibly moving. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already seen it, I really did love it. Who wouldn’t love a film starring Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton?

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Ok, this isn’t going to make it on to the top 5 of the start of the year, because it’s not by any means the best of the series BUT it does deserve a mention. After the fall of ‘On Stranger Tides’ Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg pulled the franchise back perfectly with ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ (or ‘Salazars Revenge’ here in the UK) with the use of classic Pirates humour and a fantastic new cast, with the return of a few favourites. The Pirates series of films will always hold a special place in my life and I firmly believe “the more Pirates films, the better”.

And my top 5 (which has turned into my top 7) films of the last 6 months (June 3rd – Dec 31st) of the year:

6 – A Ghost Story – The second of Casey Afflecks films to make my list. The story of C, an introvert composer who has a sentimental attachment to the house that him and his wife live in. Killed tragically in a car accident at the start of the film, C returns to the house as a ghost to watch over his wife. One his wife has moved on and decides to leave the house behind C is left behind with the house and stays there whilst other families come and go.
It’s an absolutely stunning film that leaves you racking your brains to understand the movement of time. Two incredible leading performances from Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

7 – My Life as a Courgette – It’s surprising that there’s an animated film on my list that isn’t a Disney or Disney/Pixar film but really I couldn’t not feature this one. My Life as a Courgette is a story set in rural France about a young boy called Courgette whos parents both pass away and he moves to an orphanage. Its a beautiful story told through the use of stop motion animation which I am a huge fan of. The colours and production design is stunning. I watched it with the British dub but I hope to see it in the original language soon.
I look forward to seeing it, hopefully, get a best animated feature nomination at the Oscars which is definitely deserves.

8 – War for the Planet of the Apes – I wasn’t sure if this would make the cut but the more I think about it the more I remember parts of it which I absolutely loved. One of my favourite things to see on screen is Woody Harrelson playing a villain and one of my favourite performances from him is in Out of the Furnace (2013) where he played one of the best on screen villains I’ve ever seen. His performance in the final installment of the Apes trilogy is brutal, he comes across as a true villain with self righteous intentions.
The new Planet of the Apes trilogy has showcased some of the greatest special effects ever seen on screen and that is mostly down to the outstanding performance from Andy Serkis in the lead role of Ceaser the ape. Throughout the trilogy we’re told the heartbreaking story of Ceaser and his tribe and this film just adds to that heartbreak but told in a beautiful way that, although the story is far-fetched, it somehow seems relevant.

9 – Dunkirk – Obviously Christopher Nolans’ World War II epic was going to make the list, in fact this is my number 1 film of the year. I find it hard to describe things like this that I love so much without just saying “it’s amazing, it’s brilliant, it’s perfect” but really this film is all of those things. From the intensely thrilling sound design with the use of a ticking clock to build the tension throughout the film to the painfully silent dialogue. One of my favourite things about it is the use of time, almost as it’s very own character, you’re thrown around all different time sequences as the film goes on, each character has it’s own timeline which crosses over with the other characters. It’s fascinating and genius, Christopher Nolan is a visionary and I for one am so excited to see what he comes up with next.
One of the things, that I always comment on, is the casting. I (along with a lot of people) was very unsure of the use of Harry Styles, former boyband member, in a film such as Dunkirk, but actually he surprised me and his character was so interesting. I think he actually did a great job. Mark Rylance was the screen stealer for me though, his calm exterior and typically British character made him relatable and interesting to watch. The rest of the cast were also fantastic, newcomer Fionn Whitehead and Tom Glynn-Carney were both brilliant as were the greats Kenneth Brannagh, James D’Arcy, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy.
I can’t say enough good things about this masterpiece.

10 – Three Billboards (outside Ebbing, Missouri) – The summer of 2017 brought some really exciting new films into my life, mostly because I was lucky enough to get a press pass for the BFI London Film Festival which meant endless new films from all sorts of fascinating filmmakers, Malcolm McDonagh is one of them. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri was one I wasn’t sure about before going to see it, it was the closing film of the festival for press pass holders and for that reason I didn’t want to miss it. I was utterly blown away.
A heartbreaking story about a mother (Francis McDormand) who’s daughter was raped and killed, but the local police department lead by the respected Chief of Police (Woody Harrelson) did nothing to find the culprit. She takes extreme measures by leaving controversial messages for the police department to draw attention to there mistakes.
The script is compelling, a darkly comedic film full of whit and charm a long with an incredibly powerful monologue from McDormands character, Mildred.
I can’t recommend this film enough to everyone I talk to about it, it’s stunning and is likely to receive multiple well deserved Oscar nominations.

11 – Call Me By Your Name – Another film I wasn’t sure about before going to see it however, I absolutely loved it. A stunning love story between two unexpected companions who fall in love over a summer spent in the beautiful backdrop of the Italian Riviera. Two stand out performances from the leads Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet both tell their own personal stories with truth and honesty. I don’t want to say too much as it’s a fairy new film and I know a lot of people may not have seen it yet, but it really is stunning and worthy of a watch. Fingers crossed for some best actor nominations.

12 – The Greatest Showman – Start the year with a musical and end the year with a musical. That’s how I roll. The Greatest Showman tells the illustrious story of the founder of the great travelling circus, P. T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman appears to have made my list twice, a long with Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson.
The Greatest Showman is a musical theatre spectacular, if you don’t enjoy films where the characters are half way through a conversation and dramatically burst into song then this isn’t for you. But if you enjoy spectacular dance routines, unbelievable costumes, love stories, music, animals and just all round great entertainment then this is your film. It’s fabulous, really, truly, fabulous and what a great way to go out of the year. With a bang.

So that’s it! My top 10 (…12) of 2017. I have loved going to the cinema as much as I have (82 times to be precise) and attending multiple premieres, festivals, conventions and special screenings. Lets see if we can make the round 100 in 2018. Bring it on.


Films I am looking forward to on 2018:
– The Posts
– Ready Player One
– Maze Runner: The Death Cure
– Black Panther
– Avengers: Infinity War
– Early Man
– Sherlock Gnomes
– The Incredibles 2
– Coco
– The Crimes of Grindlewald
– Solo: A Star Wars Story
– Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
– A Wrinkle in Time
– Mary Poppins Returns
– Wreck it Ralph 2
– Isle of Dogs
– Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

And I’m sure there will be many, many more!

My top 10 (…12) of 2017