Roma

I feel it’s necessary that I talk about this film as everyone else seems to be raving about it.

I gave it one star purely for attempt. At the end of the day it is still a film so a lot of work will have gone into it but that’s not to say I enjoyed it in any sense. It took me two days to get through it, I had to turn it off half way through on day one because I kept falling asleep. On day two I started it from about 10 minutes before I turned it off just in the hope that I would catch something I missed to try and drive me to the end, I found nothing.

I found it painfully pretentious, clearly I am missing something because to me it also had no story whatsoever. The family were vile people who I had no interest in watching and honestly, couldn’t care less that her husband was cheating on his wife and mother to his children. I don’t think the mother showed any compassion toward her children who were dealing with a horrific event in their lives. The lead character (I don’t remember her name) was fairly endearing but for the most she came across as pathetic. I just didn’t warm to any of them. There were so many moments in it that had no relevance whatsoever to the main story, the martial arts training scene and the rich American’s holiday home but to name a few. I liked the inclusion of the protests and the civil war happening in the town but that was only to be over shadowed with the main character going into labour which bored me to my core.

Since watching the film a few weeks a go I have tried to understand the relevance of it being in black and white. It was clearly a conscious decision of, I assume, the director but it didn’t seem necessary to me, if I’m missing something then can someone please enlighten me? If anything it made the film harder to watch because not only did I have to follow the subtitles (which I actually didn’t have a problem with, I usually have subtitles on anyway) but I also had to try and read the times of day and locations without the use of colour which when you’re reading text at the bottom of a screen is fairly difficult.

I have read that Alfonso Curon made this film as a reflection of his life growing up in 1970’s Mexico, which is great, good for him. But did it need to be so self-indulgent? Couldn’t he have just written a book or a memoir that his fans could read? Honestly.

I don’t get it, I didn’t like it, it was boring, too long and quite frankly too vain for my liking.

 

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Roma

Welcome to 2019

I have slacked off massively with writing in here lately. I think I probably did half a dozen posts in 2018 (if that!). It’s a funny thing really because I watch so many films but I find it hard to write about them all the time, especially because I love most of them so it’s hard to just sit here and write “I loved it, it was great, go and see it” without being constructive! So I’m attempting it again, this is going to be the case every year I think but I can keep trying!

2018 saw some incredible films for us all, there really was something for everyone. It saw some of the biggest box office hits in the last 10 years and introduced the world to Netflix/Amazon/YouTube originals (which I have my reservations about). I haven’t necessarily got a top and bottom 10 because I genuinely couldn’t choose but I’ll write about the few that really stood out for me.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)Obviously this list wouldn’t even exist without me mentioning Bohemian Rhapsody. Queen have always been a huge part of my life, ever since I was about 8 and I discovered my parents old CD collection, Queen The Greatest Hits and Michael Jackson’s History were the two that I immediately latched on to. When I heard about 5 years ago that there were talks of a Queen biopic I was one of those stubborn fans that refused to get excited about it because no one can ever be Freddie except for Freddie. After years of debate and pre-production nonsense they finally announced Rami Malek was to play Freddie and suddenly I started having a bit of faith, of course it helped that Queen legends Brian May and Roger Taylor were producing.
On top of my love for Queen I have been obsessed with Live Aid for as long as I can remember, I don’t even really know when I first discovered it but they released the whole concert on DVD back in 2004 and I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve seen it, let alone the amount of times I’ve watched the Queen performance alone from that amazing day.
Then the film came and I loved it. I was actually fortunate enough to get tickets for the world premiere which they were holding at Wembley Arena so me and my friend went and got to witness the film on the biggest screen I’ve ever seen in the biggest room I’ve ever watched a film in with the cast and crew sat in the audience. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
Since then I’ve seen the film again at the cinema because no chance was one viewing enough, I’m hoping to see it one more time before the Oscars.
I love it, I think it shows everything that is honest and true about all 4 members of the band, ok some of the plot points are slightly out of order to how they happened in reality but they were told the way they were needed to in order to aid the film.
I sobbed when Malek won his Golden Globe and then sobbed some more when the film won best picture.
It has my undying support for the Oscars and I’m so happy it’s being recognised, for Freddie.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Woody Harrelson, Frances McDormand, and Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Hard to believe this was within the last year, I saw it on January 25th (I keep a list – I don’t just happen to have a freakishly good memory) which was actually the second time

I watched it as I was able to see it at the London Film Festival back in 2017.

It’s a stunning film that will be remembered for years to come, it’s a shame it didn’t win best picture at the Oscars but I did also love The Shape of Water so I wasn’t too disappointed.
I love the script, I think it’s the perfect balance of heart break and comedy, and Frances McDormands performance was second to none.

Ready Player One

My favourite book re-imagined into a film directed by my favourite filmmaker. It was winner from day one.
The first time I watched it I was so annoyed at how much they had changed from the book, honestly there is so many changes it’s basically a different story. After viewing it a second (and third) time I realised it’s not a different story, it’s the same story told by a different person. The book and the film are two seperate things and although I didn’t get to see all the things I had hoped for in the film I still have them within the book and that’s enough for me.
So after this realisation I came to love the film, the visual effects are outstanding and the cast are all so great and perfect for the roles. I was beside myself when they announced Mark Rylance as Halliday, he’s so perfect for the character.

Love, Simon

Love, Simon (2018)Such a beautiful, lighthearted film about love, friendship, family and courage. I found it so heartwarming I went to see it twice in two days. The script was so charming and the performances carried it with such grace. It tackled issues that hundreds of thousands of teenagers deal with all over the world every day and it did it with such care and compassion, it didn’t seem accusatory or shameful it just felt so honest. I can’t wait to see it again.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)Lets end this run down of my 2018 favourites on the biggest high of the year for me. I saw it 5 times, I would have seen it more if I hadn’t run out of time. Infinity War has become my favourite (tide with Age of Ultron) Marvel film. It’s perfection of every element just astounds me, they didn’t shy away from killing off some of the most pivotal characters in the MCU and they allowed the audience to be left on the biggest cliff hanger of all time. They could have played it so safe and they didn’t and I am so grateful!
The countdown is on for End Game and I for one cannot wait any longer!!!

 

So that’s 2018 in a nutshell, I would also write about the films I didn’t like this year but why look back on the negatives when we can look forward on the positives!!

So far some of my favourite films of 2019 have been:

Colette
Aquaman (yes, really)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Mary Poppins Returns

And now I’m looking forward, into the future of film and what 2019 has to offer. So here are a few of my most anticipated films of the next 12 months!

Avengers: Endgame (26th April)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (5th July)
Captain Marvel (8th March)
Star Wars Episode IX (TBC)
Shazam! (5th April)
Ok now the obvious ones are out of the way

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (26th July)
Quentin Tarantino returns to the directors chair in this highly anticipated drama following to aspiring performers in Hollywood during the terror reign of Helen Skelter.
Likely to be gory, weird, clever and all round Tarantino, I’d say I’m more intrigued than excited but I’m sure it’ll be a huge box office hit.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (TBC)
Lily Collins takes on the role of Ted Bundy’s wife, Elizabeth Kloepfer, in this chronicle told from her perspective and how she battled to see the truth in her husband for so long.
Zac Efron takes on the role of Bundy and I think I’m most excited to see how he holds his own in this dark drama.

Serenity (1st March)
Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star in this drama thriller as a divorced couple who have to face reality although it may not be as it seems.
I’m obviously excited to see McConaughey back on the big screen and I’m expecting great things from him and Hathaway.

The Irishman (TBC)
Robert DiNero, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel in a mob film directed by Martin Scorsese.
Need I say more?

That’s it! My sort of review of 2018 is done and now we look forward to what excitement 2019 will have in store. Bring it on.

 

Welcome to 2019

Retail Therapy

Retail Therapy is a one act comedy play which tells the story of a corner shop set in Yorkshire, showcased at Ye Olde Rose and Crown in Walthamstow as part of the Undisposables ‘New Voices’ season.
Throughout the piece we are introduced to the staff members and some of their regular customers through the cleverly written script by one of the shows leading actress’, Hannah Whyman. 

The piece features a clever and innovative script using wit to aid the comedy and keep the whole performance at a watchable pace. I’m not usually a fan of sit-com style comedy but for me this was just the right amount of crude, slapstick and nonsensical to make it enjoyable for the whole audience. 

The performances were fantastic, the timing throughout was perfect and given that it was performed in an intimate setting the cast didn’t overact and the expressions on their faces and the comedic skills they were using were on point. With a cast of only 5 people and much more characters than that, they did a fantastic job of quick changes and sudden accent changes that it didn’t effect the piece at all.

I was very impressed with this production, particularly with the writing – I thought the script was perfect. 

Amazing job done by all, they should all be very proud. Looking forward to seeing what else The Undisposables have got up their talented sleeves.

Directed by: Caspian Cunningham
Written by: Hannah Whyman
Starring: Hannah Whyman, Francene Turner, Caspian Cunningham, Jamie Terry and Richard David Law. 

 

 

 

Retail Therapy

Wildlife

London Film Festival 2018

Wildlife tells the story of a family of three who have recently moved to a remote town in a bush fire-prone area of Montana. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) looses his job at a local golf club and after his supporting wife trying to help him find a replacement job he leaves his family to work for the volunteer firemen to help protect their town from the ever growing bush fires. Jerry’s wife Jeanette (Carrie Mulligan) is left at home to raise their son and find a job to provide for them both. The news of her husbands departure sends her on a downward spiral of affairs, alcohol and deceit. Whilst all of this is happening around him Joe (Ed Oxenbould) is left to fend for himself, find a job, and is forced to grow up before his time.

This story of family, lies, affairs, depression and heartache is stunningly told through Paul Dano’s creative direction. There is a dominant sense of intrusion into the family home throughout the entire piece, with the use of still camera shots which allow the actors to move on and off the screen without looking like it’s a mistake. Dano also set up a shots so that we didn’t see the conversation happening but the reaction from the character concerned. Joe plays a big role in providing a constant emotion throughout as we see the majority of the action from his perspective, as a 14 year old kid he feels it’s his duty to sit back and watch his family fall apart in front of him but as time passes he then feels the instinct to become the parental figure in this car crash situation.

Dano is one of the most intelligent filmmakers in Hollywood at the moment, as seen in this film, his use of symbolism may not be subtle (as seen with the wildfire representing the family being naturally destroyed) but they are powerful and they leave the audience completely glued to the screen.

The performances throughout were perfect. Carrie Mulligan tells the story of a woman fighting against the expectations of a 1950’s housewife and dealing with a pre-midlife crisis so elegantly that she makes it look effortless. There are parts throughout the film where you empathise with what she’s dealing with but that soon turns into hatred for her as she continues with a sordid affair. Gyllenhaal’s character can, at times, come across as pathetic but once you remind yourself of the pride of men in the 1950’s your forced to sympathise with him, his love for his son is evident throughout and the delivered performance is utterly compelling. Pretty much perfect in all the films he’s performed in, Gyllenhaal proves his incomparable acting ability yet again.

The stand out performance for me came from Oxenbould, he carried the entire production on his shoulders and did so with complete grace and prowess. He controlled Joe’s emotions perfectly without ever showing him giving in to the world that is currently crashing down around him. Flawless.

I loved this film, everything about it was effortlessly perfect. The styling was stunning, we usually see 50’s suburban America in a bright colourful light but throughout Wildlife we are shown it to be normal, not always happy and really quite drab in times. The script was calm and quiet without overpowering dialogue which allowed the cast to perform. I will be gutted if it doesn’t receive award recognition for performance and direction.

I highly recommend Wildlife to everyone, it’s an example of how great minds can make great films.

 

Wildlife

A Star is Born

***Contains minor spoilers***

A remake of the 1976 Barbra Streisand remake of the 1954 Judy Garland original, A Star is Born tells the story of a want-to-be singer rising to fame with the help of a famous country singer. Ally (Lady Gaga), a grafter who writes songs, is performing at a drag bar when Jackson (Bradley Cooper) stumbles into the bar in search of alcohol and to his surprise comes across Ally’s performance of La Vi en Rose.
Jackson takes Ally out for a drink, in a drug store’s car park, and she performs one of her songs for him. He instantly falls in love with her voice and takes it upon himself to aid her in making her a star. Thus…a star is born.

I had really high hopes for this film due to the hype that has been thrown around it, I also love country music so I thought it would be right up my street. Unfortunately it just didn’t tick all the boxes for me. I found the characters quite difficult to connect with and the storyline was too predictable.

I thought it was very well cast, Lady Gaga was brilliant in the role of Ally, however, I really didn’t like her character. At the start of the film she was head strong, tough and stood up to people who treated her badly. We see her battle with her awful manager, we see her deal with the every day stresses of living at home with her father and all his work colleagues and, for some unknown reason, we see her breakup with a boyfriend on the phone right at the start. On top of all of that we see her punch a policeman in the face so there’s no doubting she is a strong, independent female. So why when she suddenly has a burst of fame do we see her giving in to all the demands of her awful producer and getting pushed around by her drunk husband. I don’t buy that she would have changed her personality that much just because she was in love with him. That isn’t the Ally we are introduced to right at the beginning of the story.
So, although Lady Gaga was absolutely fantastic in the role (and we can’t deny she has a flawless voice) I just didn’t buy into her character. I thought she was weak willed and at times pathetic.

Bradley Cooper, as well as bringing this film to the screen in his director debut, leads this film incredibly. He was by far my favourite thing about it, although playing a stereotypically awful character, he absolutely smashed it. He performed with grace and prowess whilst making me physically cover my eyes at times because he was just so uncomfortable to watch…in a good way. Jack is a vulgar, ugly, nasty human being who’s one true love in life is his addiction to alcohol, drugs and music. We see so many sides of him throughout the film, he disregards his brother from his life, he abuses his wife and more so abuses himself. His health is declining as is his career and he blames everyone around him for this, including Ally.
Similar as with Ally, I didn’t like the character but in a different way, I believe you are supposed to empathise with Ally but I didn’t whereas Jack is just awful, he knows it, the writers know it and the audience agrees with it. He’s perfectly written.

Bradley Cooper did a stunning job at directing this film, I particularly loved the set up of the festival/concert scenes, it felt really personal and invasive with the characters on stage with the use of the backstage shots and close ups. And the live recordings of the songs worked perfectly.

My favourite part, by a long way, was the scene where he persuades Ally to join him onstage and they sing Shallows together. I love Lady Gaga’s delivery of the song, her charming querks make her really easy to watch and you truly believed that she was utterly terrified despite being seemingly confident. The chemistry between Ally and Jack is clear from the get go and this scene really was the peak for me. It all went downhill from there.

Full of clichés and a constant attempt to make the audience cry, this film just didn’t do it for me. With a huge Oscar buzz around it I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it gets nominated for Best Lead Actor and Actress as well as Direction and Original Song. I’m still not entirely sure where I stand on re-makes getting Academy Awards so I’d be disappointed if it wins Best Picture. I don’t think it deserves it.

Well done to Bradley Cooper for a good first attempt.

I’d recommend it to most, A Star is Born – now showing at pretty much every cinema in the country.

 

A Star is Born

Knights of the Rose

Knights of the Rose tells a story of royalty, betrayal, love and hate set during the Shakespearean age. Entwined with an impressive soundtrack of hits from the likes of Bon Jovi, Meatloaf, Bonnie Tyler and many more.

Prince Gawain is the head of the army and it is therefor his job to fight for crown and country and protect the pride and honour of his father and family.

The story opens at the end of a Great War with Prince Gawain and his battalion are returning home to their wives, girlfriends and families.

Princess Helen, Gawains young sister, awaits the arrival of her true love, Hugo, to be greeted by him vowing never to fight again if she takes his hand in marriage.

After an attack on the King by a rival settlement, Avalon, Hugo is called forward by fellow soldier Palamon.

Palamon also bids for the Princess’s heart and therefor persuades Hugo to fight in hope that he will fall and Princess Helen will be his and he shall one day be King.

Full of twists and turns and love and hate, Knights of the Rose is the perfect combination of heart and humour.

Although containing a bit of cheesy dancing and a lot of unnecessary ‘clicking’ this new musical had its crowd well and truly entertained.

The cast were faultless, some incredible voices; Adam Pearce’s bass tone never fails to impress (having previously seen him in Les Miserables and Sunset Boulevard …safe to say I’m a big fan!).

All cleverly carried by the stories narrator and brilliant performer, Ruben van Keer.

Side note: I also really loved the horses! Fantastic use of lighting and props all the way through.

I highly recommend this new musical full of heart and familiar songs.

Well done to the entire company!

Knights of the Rose

Eugenius!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An easy 5 Star!

Soon to make it’s return to London’s The Other Palace theatre, after a sell-out run earlier this year, is Eugenius! The Musical. A vibrant, upbeat musical about a boy named Eugene who dreams of writing comic books and telling stories about his beloved Tough Man. After getting scouted in a high school competition, Eugene is flown to Hollywood to turn Tough Man’s origin story into a blockbuster movie.
Eugene gets swept up in the excitement of Hollywood and ends up getting pushed around by his not-so friendly producer, Lex.
In a bid to help Eugene, his best friends Janey and Feris fly to Hollywood to be “tough, but fair” and save him from making a huge mistake.

Whilst all of this is happening, a parallel story of Tough Man’s evil twin brother, Evil Lord Hector, is taking place. He has flown to Earth from his home planet of Itsaballoon to track down Tough Man and kill him!

The two stories cross paths in this hilariously uplifting musical, full of courage, friendship and above all genius!

Chris Wilkins and Ben Adams bring this show to life with it’s bonkers characters, witty dialogue and fantastic songs. Full of brilliant catch phrases, 80’s sci-fi references and a theme song you’ll be singing forever. I for one am very excited for this brilliant show to be making a well deserved comeback. With a few returning faces to the cast (the likes of Dan Buckley, Laura Baldwin and Scott Paige) and a whole array of new talents (Rob Houchen, Neil McDermott and Alex Bourne among others).

This show reminds everyone in the audience that no matter how hard something may seem, if you are willing to work for it and give it your all, you have the ability to achieve it. As Eugene and his friends remind us throughout the show; don’t shoot for the stars…shoot higher!

Eugenius! The Musical will return to The Other Palace on September 1st 2018.

Eugenius!