A Simple Favour

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) has a perfectly comfortable life, she has a wonderful son, a beautiful house and a popular only Moms Vlog where she shows the world how to bake healthy snacks and fun arts and crafts for children to enjoy. On an average day whilst collecting her son from school Stephanie meets another Mum in the playground, Emily (Blake Lively). Their friendship flourishes when Stephanie is asked to collect Nicky, Emily’s son, from school one day. 4 days later Emily is no where to be seen. Her husband has no idea, her boss has no idea, no one has seen Emily. In what started out as a comfortable drama comedy the story takes twists and turns to keep the audience constantly guessing and turns into a gripping thriller.

As a whole I absolutely loved this film, I felt completely captivated by the entire production. The settings were incredible and the characters were fascinating. It takes some really dark turns and delves into plot points that I really would never have expected.

Constantly keeping you guessing and unsure who to trust and who you’re ever supposed to like, Pail Feig (Geeks & Freaks, The Heat, Sky) does a fantastic job with bringing this completely original story to life.

The cast were fantastic, such interesting choices for the two leads but so compelling to watch. Anna Kendrick was a complete stand out for me, she played the slightly crazed, overly perfect, deceitful best friend so perfectly. I was completely addicted to her throughout. Blake Lively was also fantastic.

The two kid actors playing their sons were brilliant, the young actor playing Nicky was perfectly on point. Brilliantly done.

A completely addictive script written by Jessica Sharzer adapted for screen from the original novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. The dialogue was perfectly executed and not over-used as can be a danger zone when creating dramas. It was full of witty lines which allowed the audience to enjoy this film, with all its dark themes, as a comedy.

I really loved it, absolutely brilliant and a strong female cast. I highly recommend.

You can see it in cinemas nation wide now.

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A Simple Favour

**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

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

Downsizing

Downsizing 
Another film filled day at the London Film Festival today. 

The first film of the day was Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing” starring Matt Damon, Kristin Wiig and Christoph Waltz. Easy enough to say what a fabulous cast it is, and it really is that, Christoph Waltz was hilarious and Matt Damon was perfectly charming. 
The film follows the story of Paul and his choice to be ‘downsized’. This is a medical/scientific procedure taking place all over the world that allows people to shrink down to 5 inches tall. The idea behind it is that we will protect the environment by being a lot smaller and thus producing a lot less waste. Complications get in the way of Paul living the fantasy dream life he had hoped. Largely from the betrayal of his wife who, half way through the procedure, decides to back out completely and Paul is left alone. 

I really enjoyed the concept of the film but did feel a bit conflicted in how I was supposed to feel afterwards. I thought it was full of whit and charm but also full of political statements and a fair amount of racism. There was quite a bold statement about Mexicans living on the other side of the big wall/dome to the North Americans. Interesting how that is famously one of Donald Trumps biggest aims as POTUS. 
There were parts of the narrative that I don’t think were needed, one being a random scene in which Paul ends up high at a Hollywood style party, there was something kind of off about this scene, I never quite understood his motivation to take the drugs and what he thought would come from it. 

There’s another scene towards the end where Paul and his three companions travel to Norway in the wake of the end of the world to the first downsized colonie to join them and relocate inside a mountain to stay safe and eventually save the human race. I didn’t get this bit at all. I understand that the whole point of this scene was that Paul was forced to make the ultimate decision, but really it could have been much quicker had he never travelled all the way to Norway to make the decision. 

I really loved the first and second acts, I like the concept and the general story of people becoming small, it’s funny and original. As I always say, theres not enough originality coming out of Hollywood at the moment. 

Ignoring all the political statements and themes it is a charmingly funny film with a few unexpected twists and turns. I recommend seeing it if only for the lovely Matt Damon. He looks great without eyebrows……

Downsizing

2017 …so far

Yep, as always, I’ve left it ages since writing here but I guess that’s mostly because I don’t think anyone reads it haha! So what’s the point?

2017 has begun with a bang for me in the film world, I’m loving almost everything I see at the cinema at the moment. That time of year is here again, awards season, I live for this period of the film calendar! There’s so much to be excited about and so much I’ve already enjoyed.

My top film for 2016 was Arrival, the script, the acting, the production design, the direction, the narrative was all phenomenal. I loved love loved it. And having Jeremy Renner to look at for the duration of the film was also a nice treat. I really do love that man! I was luck enough to get a glimpse of him and Amy Adams at the Arrival premiere back during the BFI Film Festival here in London. Another highlight of the last 6 months for me, unfortunately I didn’t get to view any films at the festival but I went to a lot of the red carpet events and it was so much fun! I saw some real idols and had the chance to be involved in the celebration of the industry I know and love so much. It was great!

So back to the present, 2017, what a year so far and we’re only 31 days in! I am keeping a handwritten journal of all the films I’ve seen at the cinema this year so I can have a final headcount of how many I watch because I have no idea how many I watched last year and I would be so interested. I’m looking forward to looking back over it this time next year to reminisce on some of the films I’d forgotten about.

So, I’ve seen 6 of the 9 best picture nominations for this years Academy Awards. Arrival being the highlight but, saying that, I’ve loved them all. La La Land is beautiful and wonderful and deserves all the recognition it gets, it’s so exciting to see the old art form from the Golden Age back on the big screen where it belongs. Emma Stone is a sure win for the leading actress category. Hacksaw Ridge, although a tough watch, a very tough watch, I really did love it. I have a lot of love for war films anyway and Andrew Garfields performance was great. He’s really growing into a serious actor. It’s very exciting to see. Manchester by the Sea, I really don’t know how I can put into words how much I loved this film. Casey Affleck is just incomprehensible, his performance was chilling yet beautiful, cold yet so warming, hard to watch yet addictive. I don’t know how else to say it, I really don’t. I can see him picking up the golden man on February 28th. Lion, also amazing, held together wonderfully by Dev Patel and his wonderful youngerself Sunny Pawar, a brilliant young actor who we can only expect great things from in the future. It was a beautifully heartwarming true story and I really loved it. (I’ve said that a lot so far, I told you, I have loved everything so far this year!)
So what have I got left? Moonlight, Hidden Figures and Fences. All award favourites so far this year and I’m really looking forward to seeing them all. Bring it on!

On a personal note, I have set myself the task (with my best friend, whom I will be attending the BAFTA red carpet with in 12 days!) to watch every film that’s ever won the “Best Picture” gong at the Academy Awards, it’s a heck of a challenge with 89 films to watch, one a year since 1928. I have watched 18, so I have quite a way to go. But I will start a new thread and keep you all (ha ha) updated with my progress.

So, until then, I bid thee a farewell.

May the force be with you, always.

2017 …so far

London Has Fallen

I can’t really decide what I thought of this film. It kind of speaks for itself and I’m glad it was only 99 minutes long.
The film takes place in London (hard to believe, I know) on the day of the British Prime Ministers funeral, he apparently died questionably in his sleep. That’s pretty much all we know about him. That and his name wasn’t David Cameron, however one of the main villains name is Cameron. Controversial?
What we do know is all the most important political leaders from all over the world are coming to London for the funeral so of course they’re all going to die except for the President of the US.
They all have very cheesy entrances to the city, the French Prime Minister is sat on a plush boat on the Thames acting like a bit of a dick, the German Congresswoman is stood admiring Buckingham Palace and the old German Prime Minister is swooning over his young girlfriend on the roof of Westminster Abbey, weird.
The film follows Gerard Butler, who’s characters name I have completely forgotten, around London trying to protect and later save the Presidents life. Aaron Eckhart has had a lot of practice when it comes to playing an important American politician and is actually getting quite good at it.

We all know what to expect from this film and really you get exactly that. Lots of explosions, lots of terrible one liners, lots of guns, lots of patriotism, lots of the F word and lots of a terrible American accent from Mr. Butler (and a happy ending for America, it didn’t get one scratch!)
There are lots of big bangs and London pretty much gets smashed to bits (which felt very strange having seen the film in a cinema on Piccadilly Circus) but all in all, for a film that was going to pretty much suck from the off, it was watchable if you’re into those kind of big budget, America rules, sexy old Gerard Butler films.

London Has Fallen

PAN

Hello world of no-one

I went to the cinema this afternoon to see Pan. I liked it, aside from the random bursting into Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit, it was good. There were a few parts in it that seemed a bit weird, like, the story was kind of confusing, there was no explanation as to why Blackbeard wanted to stay young. Oh, and what was with James Hook’s weird voice and awkward behavior. But, as far as over the top, fantasy, CGI-fests go – it was good. Oh and Hugh Jackman makes a fab pirate. I love pirates.

Also, just found out that James Cameron is producing a series of original comic books based on the story of Avatar. I can’t wait! Eep! (Yes, I love Avatar. Deal with it.)

PAN