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.

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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