Sunday, 15 January 2017

La La Land (Review)

'La La Land' is a musical film staring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. This film is directed by Damien Chazelle and tells the story of an apprising actress and a jazz musician who fall in love while pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles.

This film already has such critical praise that it has won several golden globes and is already nominated for a bunch of BAFTA's. Going into this film I was excited, but I felt some reservation, as I wondered how this film got so much praise. Was it just blind nostalgia?  Was it American critics feeling sentimental about the good old days of Hollywood? While some of that might be true, La La Land is much more than a "1950's rewind". The sheer talent that went into making this film is identifiable by every single frame.

 'La La Land' is one of the most beautiful films ever made. The free flowing, but perfectly stable direction from Damien Chazelle will make any aspiring filmmaker in awe at the craftsmanship on display. The cinematography from Linus Sandgren is simply outstanding. This film perfectly presents the cinematographers talents, as the majority if not all of the film rests on the cinematography, from it's long, complex tracking shots to it's contrast lighting, all while being shot in the classic cinemascope ratio of 2:55:1 in 35mm film. It's old school and it sticks with it in every detail. The production design of 'La La Land' is also another element to marvel at, each location is bright and bold and sets the backdrop of a dreamy Hollywood come roaring back to life. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play of each other with perfect chemistry. Once again Ryan Gosling shows his comedic talents and Emma Stone delivers one of the best performances of her career.

With all that being said a musical would not be anything without it's music and like Chazelle's predecessor 'Whiplash' the music in this film excites and delights. While all the songs are catchy, warm and charming, it's Justin Hurwitz score which makes the film a truly magical experience, which includes a mix of jazz and Broadway elements.

I am going to give 'La La Land' a ...


Overall, 'La La Land' is a film which is enjoyable on multiple levels and one that may even become a classic itself one day, the only thing which would stop it is the overwhelming critical praise and hype, which I have now become reservedly part of ...  Oh Well.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A Monster Calls (Review)

'A Monster Calls' is an internationally produced fantasy drama film about an unpopular boy who lives with his mother and is under the threat of living with his loathed grandmother, while a giant tree monster begins to interfere with his life, which complicates matters further.

There have been many fantasy films recently which have been just 'okay' and don't inspire any further that a satisfactory cinema visit. I am glad to say that 'A Monster Calls' is not one of those films. 'A Monster Calls' has a genuinely moving story, which features some brilliant career best performances from its cast, including Felicity Jones and rising star Lewis Macdougall, however it is Sigourney Weaver who is the highlight here as the strict, controlling grandmother, this might be weaver's best performance at least for me it's her most memorable performance since 'Alien'.

While 'A Monster Calls' is advertised as a family film, I advise people not to take young children into this film as it deals with strong, dark and rather adult themes which don't pull away from the film's emotional impact, however I do believe that older children will learn wise and moral lessons with this film while being thoroughly entertained and so will most adults. What I enjoyed about this film was that despite the plot revolving around a tree monster and tales of fantasy it still feels like a coming -of-age British indie film.

The film is directed by J.A. Bayona. A director who clearly has an understanding and appreciation for cinema, This film is shot and edited so well that most directors, even the likes of Scorsese and Nolan would be proud if it was in there filmography.
A Monster Calls was a big surprise for me, a film which was much better than I could of ever expected. The only minor problems I have with 'A Monster Calls' is that some lines of the dialog are over-expositional and the visual effects, which are nothing terrible, leave a lot to be desired.

I am going to give 'A Monster Calls' a ...

I highly recommend people to watch 'A Monster Calls' it works as both a coming of age drama and a fantasy film, as well as providing a very honest and candied story with lots of charm.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Silence (Review)

Silence is Martin Scorsese's latest film, which has been a passion project of his for nearly 30 years, now in 2017 it finally has it's wide release in cinemas.

Silence is based on the Shusaku Endo's novel of the same name, which tells to story of two jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who travel to japan in search of Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) who is their mentor and is said to have apostatised his faith in Christianity.

The first thing to note about this film is that it isn't an easy viewing, not just because of it's subject matter but also because of the way the story is told. Unlike recent martin Scorsese films 'Silence' makes a departure from the visual style and fast paced narratives that some might expect from his work, but instead 'Silence' opposes for a less visually playful, slower paced film, which takes it's time in exploring it's themes and characters.

while understandable, some people are disappointed with this film because of it's slow pacing, even as far to dubbing the film as being 'boring', however believe that the slow pacing of the film makes it all the more powerful. The story delves  into such deep themes that to feel the weight of the characters emotions a slow paced narrative is a complete necessity.

Silence is the type of film that does not answer questions or tie things up to their most logical point, but instead is a film that just wants you to think after it's over, and weather you like the film or not, most people will agree that it is a memorable experience.

It's quite rare today that we get a mainstream film that really wants to challenge it's audience. 'Silence' is uncompromising in every degree, from it's style, storytelling, themes and tones. Don't expect a middle ground in this film because you won't get one.

But it's all reasons for why some of you will love silence and why some of you may hate it.
As for the technical side, Scorsese's visual direction is much more reserved than usual, but each scene is memorable because he is able to capture the 'feel of the moment' and bring out some of the best performances from his actors. The performances from Garfield, Driver and Neeson are all great, but the performances from the Japanese actors including YĆ“suke Kubozuka and Issey Ogata are worth equal praise.

As for flaws, I only have one. Although I said that the film should be long because of story and themes. I feel that the last 10 minutes of the film slightly outstays it welcome. However with that being said silence is a film which will stay with you and will make you question and interpret over the themes which are presented, I am going to give silence a ...


surprisingly despite it's runtime and slow pacing, I found myself wanting to see it again. I have seen it twice in the cinema now and I am considering a third viewing. Silence is a film which comes highly recommended.

If you guys want be to do an in depth analysis of Silence let me know in the comments below as it's something I am interested in doing.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

My Top 15 Films of 2016 (UK Release Dates)

My Top 15 Movies of the year
Honarable Mentions
- The Hateful Eight
- Deadpool
- Sully
-American Honey
15:  Deephan
14: Eye In The Sky
13: The Witch
12: The Revenant
11: Nocturnal Animals
10: High-Rise
9: Zootropolis
8: Your Name
7: 10 Cloverfield Lane
6: Spotlight
5: Hell or High Water
4: The Neon Demon
3: Suburra
2: Room
1: The Big Short

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Doctor Strange (spoiler-free review)

Doctor Strange

BBFC Certificate: 12A

'Doctor Strange' is a superhero fantasy film which stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Tilda Swindon. The film is directed by Scott Derrickson.

Branching out even further as Marvel expands it's cinematic universe even further with this fantasy flick. While Marvel is well known for incorporating new elements from different genres in their more recent films, 'Doctor Strange' is where they have truly pushed the boat out in establishing a new breed of superhero films. What I was most impressed by was the fact that it wasn't really a superhero film, but more of a mystical fantasy film, rather than just hinting at the fantasy genre 'Doctor Strange' actually is part of it.

It goes without saying that the visual effects are spectacular, not just in the scope of the grand 'illusion' scenes, but they also manage to capture the very finest detail when the magic is introduced.  Another thing to note  is how well structured this film is, unlike previous marvel films, this film does not relay on being an advertisement for a sequel or spin off (discounting the stinger). Benedict Cumberbatch is well suited for the role as is Tilda Swinton who turns in another great performance despite the smaller role. The visual direction and cinematography is excellent, using soft lighting to give the film a much needed whimsical appearance. Although despite these qualities I do have minor problems with this film such as the on and off humour and the over emphasis of exposition in some of the dialog.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Best 10 Films of 2016 so far (UK release dates)

With the first half of the year been and gone, it's about time to discuss what I think are the most immersive, enjoyable, artistic, entertaining, thrilling and memorable films of the year so far. Take note: this list is based on UK release dates, some films may be released last year in other territories. 

10: The Revenant

Want Further proof  you don't need 3D for a film to be immersive? watch 'The Revenant'. Shot in remote, uncompromising, but beautiful locations. This film is a visceral experience to behold thanks to the actors and filmmakers dedication to their craft. Dicaprio gives a strong physical performance, with Tom Hardy being the contrast as the mouthy antagonist. While both leads give excellent performances, for me Domhnall Gleeson steals the show with his supporting performance. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's direction lifts the story beyond it's revenge arch trappings and with Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography the film becomes one of the most visually stunning films of this decade.

9: Eye In The Sky

One thing many critics will praise about 'Eye In The Sky' is that it is timely, which is true, however many films of the same ilk are. What makes 'Eye in the Sky' striking is it's use of tense thriller scenes which also convey a sense of realism. Despite the main actors filming their scenes separately without ever meeting, the chemistry between them feels authentic and natural. The film balances the perfect line between entertainment and morality, making it a must see for people who are interested in the subject of drone warfare.

8: Zootropolis (aka- zootopia)

While at this time in cinematic history we are bombarded with civil rights films, this movie is actually more honest than any of the Oscar bait movies in recent memory. The characters in this film, particularly Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde are Disney's strongest in years. Not only was I invested into the story, but I could actually connect to the characters in the story, which in family films is a rarity for me. The animation is beautiful, each setting feels meticulously crafted and designed. The voice acting is exceptional with each actor giving their all for their characters, overall Zootopia is the best film of Disney's 2nd renaissance so far.

7: 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane may not be the monster movie some people were expecting, but it is still one of the most terrifying films of this year. The main focus of this movie is not to scare the audience visually, but rather psychologically, much like Alfred Hitchcock did with 'Psycho'. I would say more, but I would hate to spoil it, the less you know about 10 Cloverfield Lane, the better experience you will have watching it. What I will say is that this film, despite it's very talented cast is dominated by John Goodman's performance. If you like tense films then this comes highly recommended.

 6: Spotlight

Spotlight in a word is absorbing. The writing, performances, direction and score absorb us into the drama as it unfolds on screen. While the film may not be as visually stunning as 'The Revenant' the film's writing and performances make the film all the more memorable. Mark Ruffalo's performance is powerful, but also realistically subdued, investing the audience in, but also  not drawing the attention away from the story itself. The film tackles a sensitive issue (about the child sex abuse scandal in the catholic church) without exploiting it or sensationalising it for the purpose of drama, seeing the story for the journalists perspective makes this film all the more intriguing.

5: Dheepan

Winning the prestigious 'Palme D'or' at the Cannes film festival, expectations were high for French Filmmaker Jacques Audiard's latest outing ... and it didn't disappoint.  While 'Dheepan' is a foreign language independent film it feels somewhat epic with it's story and impressive visuals. With great performances from it's cast and a brilliant direction from Audiard the film deepens into the common and complex subjects of social conditioning and the human spirit. The film is impressive both visually and emotionally, a film which captures the social standing of our generation.

4: The Neon Demon

Director Nicolas Winding Refn's third installment to what I have dubbed "The Neon Trilogy" (Drive, Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon) The Neon Demon is a controversial film which has divided audiences and critics, to the people who are familiar with Refn's work, there is no surprise there.  Like all of Refn's films the visuals are absolutely stunning. Working with Cinematographer Natasha Braier the film is not only an artistic method of storytelling, but it is also a cinematic experience which echos the likes of Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' with a mix of 70s exploitation horror films such as 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. Like the arthouse/B-movies that inspired 'The Neon Demon' the film has more to say about our modern society then the prestige Hollywood films that try to imitate it.

3: Suburra

'Suburra' might be one of the most unheard of releases of 2016, but cinephiles should defiantly take note of this Italian gem. 'Suburra' blends American crime dramas such as 'The Godfather' and 'Mean Streets' with the style of European films of recent years. The film is set in Rome which director Stefano Sallima and the cinematographer take full advantage of with a flavorful mix of historical and modern environments to create an atmospheric world which makes Rome a character in itself. The film is beautiful and well structured and while films of this type of genre and story are nothing new, the filmmaking craft here is hard to fault.

2: Room

Not to be confused with Tommy Wiseau's 'The Room'. Lenny Abrahamson's 'Room' takes a complex, almost unfilmable novel into a emotionally wrecking, but heartwarming story about the bond between mother and son. 'Room' is one of the most powerful drama films that you will come across this year. There is one crucial part of this film which makes the story believable and a crucial viewing and that is Brie Larson's performance. She won the Academy Award this year for 'Best Actress' and rightly so. Jacob Tremblay gives an extraordinary performance, every frame of his performance felt natural. Like 10 Cloverfield Lane the less you know about 'Room' before watching it the better, but I can tell you that the direction, Cinematography, writing, score, production design and of course performances are all excellent. It's a must see.

1: The Big Short

The housing market, hardly riveting is it? The question many film audiences were asking when they read the plot on imdb. Fortunately the filmmakers behind 'The Big Short' gave us the most engaging and entertaining film of the year.  With brilliant performances from it's A-list cast, 'The Big Short' will make you laugh before appropriately sending you on a downer.  Adam Mckay is a revelation when directing dramatic emotions, gripping the audience and making them feel like a fly on the wall. 'The Big Short' features an excellent screenplay and a fast paced narrative which makes 'The Big short' not only one of the most entertaining films of the year, but also one of the most important.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Peanuts Movie

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

BBFC Certificate: U

'The Peanuts Movie' is CG animated film based on the classic Charles M. Schulz comic strip 'Peanuts'. The film is directed by Steve Martino.

Using a mix of 2D and 3D animation 'The Peanuts Movie' is film targeted for fans of who grew up with the comic strips and television specials and is also geared towards the new generation of children. This film truly feels original to the source material, but also has the variety of the new technology not only to keep the younger viewers invested, but to also further emphasis the cinematic value of this type of animation. The film uses a very basic story, and for the most part it is well executed. The comedic timing was golden, the film successfully shifts from each tone without becoming too forced and over bearing. The film has a few flaws, the smplicaty of the story can at times feel repetitive for older audiences, and the film does often shy away from being striking. However, the peanuts movie is a charming and entertaining family film, that does feature a single fart joke, and that's good enough for me.

Rating: 7/10