Unsane

***SPOILERS***

Sawyer (Claire Foy) is accidentally committed into a mental institute on what turns out to be an insurance scam, after befriending a fellow “inmate” (who was quite clearly a journalist from the off) she finds herself under threat of an old familiar face.

I have just spent the last 15 minutes reading other people’s reviews (something I rarely do) on this film to try and structure how to write what I thought because, to be quite frank, I can’t tell if this film was utter brilliance or completely dreadful.

All I found from my readings were people applauding Soderberg for filming the entire thing on an iPhone. A detail I think he should have kept quiet until after the release as all I could think throughout the film was “this was shot on an iPhone”. I don’t really think it added anything special to it, if anything it just made me feel a bit motion sick from all the insane closeups and bad use of framing. It was clever in the sense it felt very intrusive and claustrophobic but that’s something that could have been achieved by shooting in the conventional way.

The story itself was definitely gripping but the plot didn’t quite take me where I thought it was going to. I was waiting for some big psychological twist at the end but actually it stayed fairly tame in terms of storyline. There also seemed to be some big gaping holes throughout and moments where I found myself thinking “what on earth would she have done that for?” – one of the reviews I read said it seemed like a script written in college that is finally being made and I totally agree on that. The script itself is weak.

There are some stand out performances throughout the film, Claire Foy outdoes herself in the lead with a strong supporting cast from Juno Temple, Joshua Leonard and Jay Pharoah. Foy has definitely proven herself in this role given that the only thing most people know her as is the Queen in Netflix’ The Crown.

I also have the same issue with it that I had with Get Out. It started off as a very clever concept and didn’t mess about with getting right into the story and the first half was strong. It got to the halfway mark and I found myself checking my watch and feeling bored. “Girl gets captured, girl figures out way to escape, girl escapes, girl kills capturer” which is exactly what I thought of Get Out. Textbook.

Anyway, in terms of film it was enjoyable for one watch but I doubt I’ll see it again. The cleverness of shooting on an iPhone was wasted and the plot was weak. Strong performances throughout and how could we have a film set in Boston without our favourite Bostonian making a cheeky cameo? (Easily my favourite part).

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Unsane

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