Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Alien: Covenant (Review)

'Alien: Covenant' is a science fiction horror film which stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride. This film is directed by Ridley Scott.

Ridley Scott returns once again to the Alien franchise with the second prequel installments which is a hybrid story which connects Prometheus to the earlier Alien films. Reactions were mixed with 'Prometheus' however myself enjoyed the film while acknowledging it's flaws. 'Alien: Covenant' is exciting for most audiences because it's more familiar to Scott's beloved 1979 original Alien. 
So here's the deal with 'Alien: Covenant' The dialogue is very exposition and the characters are quite boring, but the visuals and thematic elements are the best parts. Ridley Scott creates a visual intensity that is hard to forget, This film is one of the most beautifully shot films of the year. Micheal Fassbinder's character becomes more developed which is always interesting. A decent film, but I actually prefer Prometheus by a very small amount. certainly better than Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection, but nowhere near as good as the original. The film has one of the better stories of the alien films, however sometimes the scope of the story gets in the way of the small corridor horror of the first alien film or the straight forward hard hitting action of Aliens, yet it's a good story which has a great conclusion. In some ways the pacing of this film reminded me of 'Rouge One', the first two acts are slow and rather dull, but the third act kicks the story into gear and leaves the audience on a high note, so while you will leave Alien Covenant satisfied you have to sit through about 90 minutes of 'meh'.

If you have high exceptions for this film you will most likely be disappointing, however if you are willing to be patient then the film has many interesting and thought provoking ideas as well as recreating some of the excitement of the first two Alien films, but not quite matching it.


Rating: 6/10





Sunday, 2 April 2017

Free Fire (Review)

'Free Fire' is a crime comedy film which stars Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and Michael Smiley. This film is directed by Ben Wheatley.

Sharp suits, but not so sharp shooters, 'Free Fire' is another entry into Ben Wheatley's cannon of pitch black comedy's. The set up of Free Fire is nothing new and the sound of the premise will probably make film buffs shrug their shoulders and say "I'd rather just watch reservoir dogs", but despite the obvious similarities, Free Fire still manages to surprise me with it's quick wit and creative action. The idea of making a film such as Free Fire sounds simple enough, however the way Wheatley directs and the style of Amy Jump's rapid fire dialog keeps you invested in the story and characters through 90 minutes of sheer gunfire.

The characters in this film are thoroughly entertaining to watch, the highlight performance from Sharlto Copley as the eccentric gun salesman Vernon is hilarious from the moment he walks on-screen. Other great performances from Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Sam Riley along with the rest of the cast provide brilliant comedic chemistry. The score from Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow is also surprising and unconventional for the style of music that they use, but yet still somehow works perfectly for this film. For a film which is set in one location pacing is very important and for the majority of the film's runtime it is executed well, however there is a slight few moments here and there which felt a little null. One of the few minor problems I have is the ending, it works well, but it felt quite predictable and I hoped for something a little more exciting and unconventional.

Overall 'Free Fire' is a film which may not aim high, but it shoots on target and will prove to be one of the funniest films you will see all year. 'Free Fire' comes highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 31 March 2017

Ghost in the Shell (2017 - Review)

'Ghost in the Shell' is an American remake of the sci-fi action anime film of the same name. This film stars Scarlett Johansson, Micheal Pitt, Pilou Asbæk and Juliette Binoche. This film is directed by Rupert Sanders.

Going in with a complete blank slate, I had no reservations or any anticipation for this film, largely due to never seeing the 1995 original. What this version of Ghost in the Shell does very well is creating visuals which seem to pop out of an anime and into live action. The cinematography and set design truly is gorgeous. This film is likely to have taken visuals queues from Blade Runner for the films neon drenched aesthetic. Another thing to note from the technical side is the film's direction, which is quite impressive, taking in mind the restrictions of making 12A friendly action scenes, without using jarring quick cuts or shaky cam, although these days that thankfully seems to be a thing of the past. The synth/orchestral score from Clint Mansell is another impressive work to add to his long line of superior movie soundtracks.

Aside from the visuals the rest of the film works fine, but that is the main criticism I have with this film, it reaches it's peak halfway through and seems to decline in excitement during the second half of the film, to give some credit, it feels fast and ends before you know it, but at the same time that maybe the problem why the second act is less interesting, because the second act focuses on character, when the first act doesn't. When your halfway through a movie it's quite a bit harder for an audience to suddenly start caring for the characters once the action is over.

I admire the filmmakers ambition in making a film which is loud, big and somewhat action packed (first half) while still giving time to focus on the characters and the deeper themes within the context of the story. For the majority of the attempts at adding a third dimension to the main character 'Major'  the film succeeds, however it feels rushed and over expositional at times. Overall 'Ghost in the Shell' is a film that's worth seeing for it's impressive visuals and music, however I would personally not say this is a film you must rush to go out and see.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Lost City of Z (Review)

'The Lost City of Z' is an Adventure drama bio-topic film which stars Charlie Humnam, Robert Patterson and Sienna Miller. This film is directed by James Gray.

'Lost City of Z' is a film which after viewing it you wonder why it hasn't received much attention. The film follows the grand story of explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest to find the ancient lost city of "Z". For a film of such a large scale it's interesting to see how it's been advertised as more of an indie film, this maybe because of the film's advertisers want to cash in on the film's critical praise, it maybe because the film is too old fashioned for modern audiences to become interested in, however this film for better or worse has the feel of a 60s/70s film and if this film was released back in that period it would have certainly been sold as an epic adventure film.

The most obvious aspect to praise "The Lost City of Z" for is it's impressive visuals. Shot on 35mm film by cinematographer Darius Khondji, the film is undeniably beautiful and has a warm feeling in it's visuals which feel lost in today's age digital photography. The casting of this film appears to be quite unusual however it pays off as all of the actors give commendable performances. The score for this film is also impressive and stands out from other recent large scale films. The characters have a good amount of development and the main character played by Charlie Hunnam avoids being the black slate, uninteresting Mary Sue-type character, which is the vain of a lot of lead characters in action/adventure films. While giving time to reflect it is clearer to understanding why this film is not receiving a great deal of advertising, for one the film is targeted at adults because of the focus on the drama and conflict between the protagonists work and family. 'The Lost City of Z' also has a long runtime of 140 minutes (2hrs and 20 minutes) and is for the most part a slow paced affair, however I was never bored and didn't feel the weight of the films runtime because of the realised scale of the story. The only problem I have with 'The Lost City of Z' is that the main characters never seem to age despite the film taking place in a time span of 20 years, apart from that this is a film which is definitively worth seeing if you prefer the old school style of filmmaking.

Rating: 8/10


Friday, 24 March 2017

Life (Review)

'Life' is a sci-fi horror film which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. This film is directed by Daniel Espinosa.

Bringing back the straight forward 70s thrills of Alien with a new modern identity 'Life' is firmly slotted into the sci-fi horror genre while providing the intelligence that makes the film's central ideas interesting without being pretentious or pulling any punches with the horror aspects of the film. The most common complaint that I have heard about this film is that it is too familiar to Alien, although I agree this film takes a lot of inspiration from Alien it manages to create a story of it's own without fully depending on the built in expectation of that film.

The Alien in this film which is named 'Calvin' is one of the most terrifying creatures put on screen, without spoiling this film, it is not the appearance of this creature which is the most frightening. Daniel Espinosa establishes the film with long tracking camera movements that seem to float in zero gravity, similar to the 2013 sci-fi film Gravity. The use of floating and sweeping camera movements are a great way of communicating the unpredictable and unavoidable events which the characters will inevitably face. One of the ways the film progresses from previous films of the genre is the reasoning towards the characters choices and actions, the characters in this film make smart, rational decisions unlike characters in a stereotypical horror movie.

The performances in the film are of a good standard, the actors give it their all and while the film has an acceptable amount of character development, there could have been room for a little more, especially when it comes to the more emotional scenes, aside from that 'Life' is a film which may not live up to the heights of 'Alien' or any other sci-fi masterpiece, but it is simply entertaining from start to finish and is sure to be a film which most sci-fi and horror fans will at least appreciate.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Founder (Review)

'The Founder' is a biographical drama film which stars Micheal Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch and Laura Dern. This film is directed by John Lee Hancock.

John Lee Hancock is familiar with bibliographical films about ambitious business men and their struggles over power, with his previous film 'Saving Mr Banks' being based around Walt Disney and P.L. Travers' rocky relationship during the production of Mary Poppins. With this experience John Lee Hancock once a again provides a perfectly solid and thoroughly entertaining film. Micheal Keaton shines once again in another great performances to his current 'renaissance' career. Hancock with cinematographer John Schwartzman create a warm colour pallet which reflex's the simple times of yesteryear, which is always charming to watch. Unsurprisingly Keaton gives another charismatic performance as the optimistic, but sometimes ruthless protagonist.

Other performances from actors such as Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch also provide the film more dramatic ammo than one might expect from the advertised light-hearted comedy drama.

Overall The Founder is not a film which breaks any new ground, but it is a film which is good-natured, thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly more dramatic than you would expect.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 25 February 2017

A Cure For Wellness (Review)

'A Cure For Wellness' is a psychological thriller which stars Dane DeHann, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth. This film is directed by Gore Verbinski.

A film like 'A Cure For Wellness' is not an easy sell to most audiences, but because of some cleaver viral marketing and the story's familiarity with 2010's 'Shutter Island' the hype has become quite strong for a mainstream film as unconventional as this, perhaps in this era of film, people want change, but does change result in a good film?

According to a majority of film critics it doesn't in this instant, but I for one enjoyed 'A Cure For Wellness' much more than I expected to. Gore Verbinski has never struck me before as a visionary, but more of a director for hire. This film proves I have misjudged him, this film is visually striking and provocative, echoing Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining". The film takes advantage of the hospitals setting which is located in the Alps, even though some of the visual imagery is clearly CG, the constant unsettling tone of the story make those images all the more disturbing and though provoking.

The performances in this film from Dane DeHann, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth are all worth highlighting. Dane DeHann proves himself as a leading man for a film which questions it's main character. Jason Issacs unsurprisingly turns in another chilling performance and Mia Goth brings hope as a future leading actor.

As for the pacing, the first act of this film is brilliant, it's tense, engaging and menacing, during the second act there is a slight slumber, but things pick up as the film begins to evoke it's nasty side. The third act of the film is troublesome, while some plot points come together well, some others don't. There is a reveal towards the end, which did not make much sense for me. There are a few genre cliches here and there which are there to make the film more commercial, for the most part they work well and are not exploitative, but they can feel unnecessary in the grander scheme of the film.

Overall 'A Cure For Wellness' is a film which is worth seeing because of it's tone, visuals, story and performances. While this film is certainly not for everyone, it's themes and ideas could certainly resonate with a smaller audience which may lead the film to become a future cult classic.

Rating: 7/10


Monday, 20 February 2017

20th Century Women (Review)

20th Century Women is an independent period drama film which stars Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann and Billy Crudup.

Set in the late 1970's, '20th century women' studies the counter culture of the era and the coming of age story of a teenage boy discovering how to become an individual man. Good-natured without being too sentimental '20th century women' is a film which places idealism and philosophy front and center while still remaining characters which still feel realistic and natural.

For a drama film which is nominated for the Oscars it's surprising that none of the performances here are nominated. Annette Bening shines as the impulsive single mother Dorothea Fields. She is perfectly cast in this role as sells every minute of comedy and drama the character has to offer. Elle Fanning turns in another good performance to her rapidly growing filmography. Newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann gives a great and honest performances as the films lead. One of my favorite and the most surprising aspects of this film for me was the cultural setting of the punk scene which grew in California at that time. The film stars with the first wave of punk and continues through the new wave and hardcore punk scenes. As someone who is interested in the history of punk it was not only a nice feature, but also accurately presented the youth culture of the time which is crucial for a coming of age story.

Despite the strength of the performances and writing I felt that the second act of the film dragged and became too repetitive, which made the film longer than I believe it needed to be.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 17 February 2017

Fences (Review)

'Fences' is a period drama film which stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. This film is also directed by Denzel Washington.

Adapted from the 1980's Broadway play of the same name 'Fences' has been a long time passion project for Denzel Washington. The revival broadway cast return with Washington helming the directors chair. The choice to cast actors who have performed this play was wise because they have a lot of experience with the screenplay which is clearly present when seeing the drama on-screen. Unsurprisingly Denzel Washington and Viola Davis give brilliant performances, as do the entire cast, which is impressive when considering the huge amount of dialog in the film, but when you've done this story over 100 times you can only get better. The dialog is compelling and is filled with character.

To adapt the play into a cinematic form, the film opens the world that the characters live in, instead of just being set in the backyard of the family house, the film shows us the streets of pittsburgh which works well for the films opening, however the film spends time establishing the world of the characters into the second act which feels unnecessary and does slightly ruin the pacing of the film for me.  My only other compliant is that the ending to the film is a bit over the top with it's themes. Overall Fences is drama film which is worth viewing for any fan of film or literature because of it's script and acting.

Rating: 8/10

Moonlight (Review)

'Moonlight' is an independent drama film which stars Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali. This film is written and directed by Barry Jenkins.

Based on the poem "In The Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" by Tarell Alvin McCraney, 'Moonlight is a film which really is indescribable. While some critics and audiences have viewed it as a film about prejudice, I myself saw it as a film about guilt and forgiveness.

 The main character Chiron tries to find a place in his life where he belongs as throughout the film we see his life develop from when he was a child, a teenager and then a fully grown adult. This film is open to interpretation, there are no clear themes which shadow over the story. By doing this Jenkins makes the film more of a social realism film than a heightened drama, although because of his confidence in his visual storytelling the film also crosses over into a more art-house style of filmmaking. While at first this sort of style felt jarring, it began to make more sense as the film progressed and by the end I felt that the techniques Jenkins used for the film greatly benefited the film.

The film is also gains strong support from it's cast. The leading role was perfectly portrayed by all of the three actors, to play a main character which hardly speaks and yet is the emotional core of the film is not an easy task for most actors yet alone these actors are all new to screen acting, it's an achievement for them and it's an achievement for Jenkins direction. The more seasoned supporting actors such as Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris also give great performances which has deservedly drawn attention from this years awards season. Andre Holland gives a brilliant performances as Kevin, Chiron's long-time best friend.

Overall 'Moonlight' is a passionate and a truly emotional thought provoking film, which may be interpreted is many ways, but it will always open the door for discussion, which is what cinema is all about and while I can interpret the film in my own way, I don't feel I am doing it justice, to have any understanding of Barry Jenkins latest film you just have to cancel out the noise at watch it for yourself.

Rating: 10/10

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Lego Batman Movie (Review)

'The Lego Batman Movie' is a animated comedy film which stars Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, Micheal Cera and Ralph Fiennes. This film is directed by Chris McKay.

Perhaps more anticipated than it should be, The Lego Batman Movie brings us the return of Will Arnett's fan favorite interpretation of Batman from 2014's hit 'The Lego Movie'. Keeping with the colorful stop motion-like animation of The Lego Movie this film once again shows off the talents of the animators, each scene feels detailed and thoroughly designed. While some people will focus on how this film makes jokes about the current DC extended universe, it is worth noting the jokes also thrown at Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, there was one which I found particular amusing during the opening credits. The writers and filmmakers sure have a love for the batman franchise as references are made from every corner of Batman history.

While the story of this film is admittedly similar to 'The Lego Movie' I found to enjoy it more because of the films more reduced world which is for the most part only set in Gotham so there is less world building for the audience to sit through and as a spin off to a recent film, that's how it should be. I was entertained throughout the majority of this film and found most of the humour to be funny. The main issue for me was that there was too much humour and not enough narrative stakes and although going in to 'The Lego Batman Movie' you should expect many references to Batman and other superhero films I think that a little too much of the humour relied on those pop culture references. Overall The Lego Batman Movie doesn't break any new ground, but it's an entertaining and humour filled film that's is certainly worth watching if your a Batman fan.

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hacksaw Ridge (Review)

'Hacksaw Ridge' is a biographical war drama which stars Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Miller and Hugo Weaving. This film is directed by Mel Gibson.

Mel Gibson is back and is already back in the race for the Oscars. On a first glace 'Hacksaw Ridge' looks like a film which is primary Oscar bait because of it's period backdrop and optimistic themes, however upon viewing I discovered there is a lot more lying beneath the surface.

On a technical level Hacksaw Ridge features some incredible battle sequences which become more and more intense, this film is not for the faint-hearted.  The battle sequence are shot and edited perfectly and are easily as tense as the battle sequences in Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan'. Mel Gibson proves himself as a talented director with not only visually striking sequences, but he also brings out some truly great performances out of his cast. The score for this film is also worth noting as it really ties the whole tone of the film together. The film balances between the two extremes of sentimentality and brutal violence, a tonal flip which could lead to the films demise, yet the score gives you some much information and emotion from the characters that the tonal shift feels natural and fluent. The films editing is also worth praise not just because of the previously mentioned battle sequences, but also because of how the story is structured and how the film is paced, which makes the film very entertaining and despite the long runtime I never felt the length of the film. The only minor issue I had was the films sentimentality, which while well crafted can sometimes be a little overbearing, however 'Hacksaw Ridge' is certainly a film which I would recommend and I am sure it will be a memorable war film of this decade.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Christine (Review)

'Christine' is a independent drama film which stars Rebecca Hall and Michael C. Hall. This film is directed by Antonio Campos.

Based on a true event, this film is based on television reporter Christine Chubbuck and her time during reporting for WXLT-TV. In this film Christine is portrayed as a woman aiming between a fine line of fame and prestige as she attempts to work her way up the news broadcast industry with human interest stories. In similar fashion to Dan Gilroy's 2014 thriller 'Nightcrawler' this film explores the cynical side of TV news stations and the feeling of being detached from the people you work with. The highlight of 'Christine' is unquestionably Rebecca Hall's stunning central performance, her line delivery, body language and all the small instances of her performance make Christine one of the most memorable characters of recent film memory.

This film can be interpreted in many ways and will make most audiences have different views regarding what it's underlying theme is. I saw it as an allegory for depression, which is beautifully demonstrated throughout the entirety of the film. While this type of theme being explored may make people unconformable it's a powerful way of portraying depression and how people like Christine, who suffer from depression see the world from their own perspective.

As for the technical side 'Christine' is shot perfectly, it may not have flashy visuals, but almost every frame hits home the character, story and tone of the film. This film is near perfect for the majority of it's runtime. The only issue for me was the final 5 minutes of the film as I believe that they made the film slightly less powerful than it could of been if they cut the them away, however Christine is a film which is certainly worth checking out and supporting, as at this point in time it remains largely unheard of.

Rating: 9/10

Friday, 27 January 2017

T2 Trainspotting (Review)

'T2 Trainspotting' is the long awaited sequel to the highly acclaimed 1996 film 'Trainspotting'. The film features the same assemble cast from the original and is also once again directed by Danny Boyle.

20 years after the film which took British cinema by storm Danny Boyle returns to the directors chair to adapt the Irvine Welsh novel 'Porno', a continuation of the story about the characters of Trainspotting. Coming in to this film I knew that I should lower my expectations because I see the original trainspotting as a masterclass of filmmaking and it hard for anyone to capture lighting in a bottle twice.

One of the strongest elements of Boyle's direction is that he likes to experiment with the camera work of his films and push the envelop further for digital technology. There are scenes in the film which switch from professional industry cameras to GoPro's and web cams, which gives the film a sense of unpredictability, which is supported by the rather eccentric visual effects. The original cast return and all give good performances which make the characters feel more fleshed out and realistic. Highlights from the performances include Ewen Bremner's more dramatic return as Spud and Robert Carlyle's even more intimidating performance as Franco Begbie. Like the original Trainspotting, 'T2' seems to perfectly make the humor and drama fuse together, which is down to the performances, writing and pacing. however T2 seems to be more comedic than the first film. As expected the film has a few problems, the main issue for me is that some of the characters motivations are unclear, which makes it harder to be emotionally connected to the characters and despite the talent behind this film it does not match the energy of the previous film.

Overall 'T2 Trainspotting' is a worthy sequel because it develops the characters further and shifts it's direction from the original to open further doors and more intrigue for the continuation of the story, however it is not nearly as memorable as the first and does not stand on it's own, but it does serve as a good continuation of the story.

Rating: 7/10



Monday, 23 January 2017

Manchester by the Sea (Review)

'Manchester By The Sea' is a drama film which is written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan and stars Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams.

One of the front runners for the upcoming Academy Awards, 'Manchester By The Sea' has been already showered with critical praise and accolades and after seeing it I can say it's no surprise why.

This film boasts a brilliant screenplay from Kenneth Lonergan which creates perfectly realised characters in a realistic and relatable situation with realistic dialog which gives a honest portrayal of real people without relying on too much exposition. Casey Affleck gives a excellent performance which is appropriately subdued and understated. The supporting members of the cast also give great performances which help support the dramatic weight of the story. Lonergan creates a wonderful sense of dark and dry humour to balance out the dark and dreary melancholy tone of the film. While some people maybe put off by the strong use of the film's score I admired the way it seemed to overpower the scene to capture the emotions of the characters which are indescribable. I only have a few minor issues with 'Manchester By The Sea', while I would praise the use of the score I do feel that a few scenes run quite overlong and although Micheal Williams gives an honorable performance, her climatic scene feels a little rushed and slightly out of place.

Overall 'Manchester By The Sea' is a film which is an honest, heartwarming and relatable story for the everyday person and presents how entertainment can seamlessly represent reality while still being engaging.

I am going to give 'Manchester By The Sea' a ...

8/10

Friday, 20 January 2017

Split (Review)

'Split' is a psychological horror/thriller film which is directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars James McAvoy, Anya Taylor Joy and Betty Buckley.

Since the release of 2015's 'The Visit' director M. Night Shyamalan has been experiencing a renaissance of critical approval which was lost during his previous works. I myself enjoyed 'The Visit' and I was looking forward to seeing what his follow up would be.

One of the best decisions Shyamalan has made with this film was hiring James McAvoy, an actor who's versatility shines with this role, you can clearly see McAvoy having a lot of fun with his role as Kevin, a man who suffers with multiple personality disorder and has 23 different personalities controlling his mind. James McAvoy provides an amusing and entertaining performance which advances the film to a higher level. Anya Taylor Joy gives a good performance as the heroine of the story. M. Night Shyamalan makes the most of the films claustrophobic setting and atmosphere with the camera work from eerie controlled tracking shots to tense, chaotic point of view shots. Unfortunately that is all the positives I have to say about 'Split' as the film was a big disappointment for me.

I am not usually concerned by plot holes in movies, but the ones in split are just too big to ignore and make the film a frustrating experience to watch. The largest problems are in the third act which seems to lose all of the suspense that was built up to that point, instead the film just gets really silly at the climax, which leads to a dissatisfying ending. The film asks you to suspend your disbelief, which I don't mind, but the film poorly constructs any evidence for the climax to make any sense within the narrative. The film might have worked, if the film had focused on the visual storytelling rather than the dialog, so it's themes would be more cohesive. The film feels unfocused and the character development seems rushed, almost as if it was an afterthought, the film tries to create character development for one of it's characters by using flashbacks, but they don't pay off for much dramatic purpose.

I am going to give 'Split' a ...

4/10

Monday, 16 January 2017

Live By Night (Review)

'Live By Night' is a period crime drama film which stars Ben Affleck, Sienna Miller and Elle Fanning. Ben Affleck has also written and directed this film.

Ben Affleck has previously expressed his passion to make a classic gangster film that resembles the heyday of Warner Brothers. The look of this film completely ticks that box which Robert Richardson being the film cinematographer. This film is filled with beautiful lighting and production design which express the passion and attention to detail that the filmmakers have for this film, unfortunately it does not transcend in the script.

Although 'Live By Night' is visually stunning and is a brilliantly shot film, it's hard to get invested because of the films underdeveloped characters and confusing storytelling. The characters motivations seemed to be rushed or unexplained which makes it hard to understand or even care about the actions and decisions they are making in the film. This film does have redeeming qualities though, Elle Fanning gives a good performance with the material she is given and makes the most impact than any of the other actors with her character. Underneath the boring characters and unbalanced story structure they're some interesting highlight scenes which grab your attention, but because of the writing they don't hold you for long, which is a shame because the plot itself has a lot of potential.

I am going to give 'Live By Night' a

5/10

Friday, 13 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 aspiring 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 ...

10/10

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.

Wednesday, 11 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 ...
                                                                             8/10


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.

Tuesday, 3 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 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 I 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 whether 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 Yôsuke 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 ...

9/10

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.
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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.

Alien: Covenant (Review)

'Alien: Covenant' is a science fiction horror film which stars Michael Fassbender,  Katherine Waterston,  Billy Crudup and Danny M...