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……


20 films in to 2017

It’s now March 14th, I have just seen my 21st film of the year. Kong: Skull Island. I have actually been keeping a hand-written film diary which seemed like a great idea at the start of the year but apparently it means I write a lot less on here.

There’s already been some incredibly successful, high-budget, blockbusters this year that I have thoroughly enjoyed, things like; Logan, Passengers, Kong, The Great Wall (despite Matt Damons dodgy Irish accent, I still love him) and Hacksaw Ridge and we still have so many to come, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnarok and Power Rangers to name a few. I have also just started hearing a bit more about the new Charlie Hunnam hit, The Lost City of Z, which at first I thought looked boring and ridiculous but actually after reading some reviews and watching some trailers for it I’m actually very interested in seeing this film. It looks like it could be something great.

I also followed all of the Oscar nominees like a hawk, I managed to see all the Best Picture contenders before the awards took place, my favourite from the day dot was Arrival, I also loved Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion and Hell or High Water. I was disappointed in Moonlight and Fences, which unfortunately Moonlight went on to win Best Picture, in my opinion it didn’t deserve it, it was a film made for all the wrong reason, political drivel that was made with one intention, to win the BP Award at the Oscars, props to them – they did what they set out to do. But I truly believe Hidden Figures should have won, it was a beautifully told important story. (I’m aware this is a controversial opinion, I don’t think I need to worry about the half a dozen people that actually read this blog, but it is my opinion and I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, I just didn’t like it.)

Aside from all of that, one of the films from this year that seems to have stuck with me from the first moment I watched it was Manchester by the Sea (again, controversial, I like it for the film and the talent, not the actors themselves). It was one of the most visually beautiful films, New England is such a beautiful place and it’s nice to see the scenic shots on the big screen. Casey Afflecks portrayal of a man dealing with guilt, grief and trauma is so compelling, you felt every single word he said and it was the first film, in a long time, that I actually managed to have some empathy for the characters. I am now currently reading the screenplay and have downloaded the soundtrack because I just can’t get enough of it. Kenny Lonergan is an absolute genius and his words are so soothing yet heartbreaking at the same time. I true visionary. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

So 2017 seems to be going off with a bang, we’re now into the third month of the year, second of the film year, and I’m excited to see what the rest of the year brings.

I am still working on my challenge to see every Oscar Best Picture winning film, I think I might have ticked a few more off the list since I last wrote. I watched Million Dollar Baby the other night and found it extremely dull. I’m surprised it won as much as it did, but that’s just me.

What’s next? I’m not sure, the dreaded remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is being released world wide on Friday so maybe I’ll drag myself kicking and screaming to see that at some point and I want to see Ben Wheatleys Free Fire once that’s released, see if it’s any better and less pretentious than High Rise. But until then, I’ll just stay sat on the sofa working my way through my ever-growing DVD collection.


20 films in to 2017

The Departed

It’s hard to believe it’s 10 years since this masterpiece came into our lives, it is what I believe to be one of the greatest films of the last decade. It is so beautifully written with such a captivating narrative. The casting is 100% on point; as always Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, even Alec Baldwin, who I usually think of as a bit of a joke actor, create a compelling team of characters that truly bring this film to life.

Even before the title comes onto the screen we have already learnt so much about the story, who we should trust and who we hate, the goodies against the baddies. Yet, somehow, after learning all that in the first 8-9 minutes we are completely engrossed by the story and where it’s going to go.

The cinematography helps ass to the perfection of this film, smooth, long panning shots make each and every second so much more addictive. As for the editing I think of it as one huge montage, the inclusion of the continuous soundtrack makes the story feel fast paced. Each individual narrative has a different style to the score which helps the viewer relate to the characters and sets the tone of the scene.
I love to see a film that is solely dependent on the progression of the characters, everything about this film is because of the characters and without the insane amount of talent the characters would be nothing.

It’s also clever how people, like myself, who don’t know much about the setting of this film, mafia, Boston, Irish heritage, instantly know what’s going on and what it must have been like around that area when these things were happening.

Towards the end of the film evening is moving quite calmly, then all of a sudden Martin Sheen’s characters dead body falls off the roof of a building and then BAM the drama intensifies and that’s when it gets better and better right up to the closing credits.

I think my favourite moment in the film is the completely silent scene between Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio when they’re on either end of the police phones. They’re just there, on the screen, with the phones to their ears and staring straight ahead. So much happens in those few seconds of silence that words would have killed it. It is that moment that Leo’s character, Billy, suddenly works everything out and we, as the audience, work out that aside from all the murder and the crime and the police the actual whole point of this film and the story is the relationship between these two characters. They don’t meet each other officially until the last quarter of the film, this moment on the phone is the first time they have contact and somehow, the whole film revolves around how they effect each other.

That’s the beauty of the simplicity of this piece of art.


The Departed

Good Will Hunting

I feel like I’ve missed something in my life.

I’ve just started watching this film for the first time, after years and years of saying “I really want to watch Good Will Hunting” and for some unknown reason I have been putting it off. But this morning, I have 3 hours until I have to start work, I decided the best way to pass some time is to sit and watch a truly good film, so I decided to go for it. And it is phenomenal. I love it already and I’ve only watched like 30 minutes.
Matt Damon is amazing. And Robin Williams (god rest his soul) hasn’t even come into it yet! Oh I lie, there he is. I miss him.

There is no better feeling in life, than discovering a great film. And it’s a film, not a movie. Just saying.

I didn’t get to watch any films yesterday because I was at college learning about films, we have to do a presentation comparing the editing techniques between two film makers, one from the past (1895 – 1945) and one from the present (1950 – now). I’m yet to decide who I want to study but when I do, I will let you know!

Stellen Skarsgard is in this film, he is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated actors of our time. I love him. He has an amazing presence in film and he brings something really raw to the films he’s in (that sounded kinda pretentious huh?) basically I just like him.

I’ve also spent a few hours this morning watching Gossip Girl, it’s kinda dumb but I do like it, sometimes you need a bit of dumb to get through the day.

Good Will Hunting