Saturday, 25 February 2017

Quick Reviews #16: Oscars 2017 Edition

Another year, another Academy Awards. This year, apart from the snub of Silence, is not as controversial as many before it, in fact I would go to say that this is one of the strongest years of the Oscars yet, I would happily give the Best Picture award to most of the nominees. Why can’t we have these kinds of films spread out across the year, I spent most of 2016 thinking it was a bit rubbish for films, how wrong was I! Now I’ve already spoken about a few of the nominees in previous posts, so I’m allowing this edition of Quick Reviews to be focused on the one’s I haven’t spoken about yet. So read on and find out what I thought about some of this year’s Oscar nominees.

La La Land
The film industry’s darling and the favourite for nearly everything at this year’s Oscars, and do you know what, it’s actually quite good. It’s mix of exciting drama and musical numbers really helps elevate it as something quite special with the performances of its stars, especially Emma Stone, being the cherry on top. Personally not my favourite film on the list of nominees but a great film none the less and one that I would not be upset about if it does end up winning best picture.

Incredibly well shot and beautifully acted, Moonlight brings us a story not like one we’ve seen before, but one we can all relate to in one way or another. It’s great to see these kind of stories on the big screen, characters that haven’t been represented enough before. It’s easy to see that director Barry Jenkins has poured his heart out into this script but has weaved it together into a poetic and moving piece of cinema. For me it lacked that final bit of something to make this stand out among the rest, it slowed down too much for me near the end and it left me wanting something more to go home with. Maybe that was the point…

Manchester by The Sea
This film will make you laugh and it will make you cry, almost in equal amounts, it’s an emotional roller-coaster of a ride. It’s a story so well told and structured in a way that keeps you engaged at all times, a true character piece and one that reveals layers upon layers of depth all the way until the end. If this one doesn’t win Best Original Screenplay I will be very surprised. A really beautiful and human film.

This is an incredible true story but the film’s slow pace failed to get me more invested in the characters rather than just on a surface level. I loved some of the story choices made, such as choosing to focus on the relationship rather that what it meant on a bigger scale for social injustice, though this is still of course embedded throughout. It had great potential but it unfortunately failed to grip me like.

This film was absolutely stunning and truly uses the full scope of the medium to tell a small and incredibly important snapshot from the life of Jackie Kennedy. The film is almost dreamlike, it cuts around from at least three different timelines, held together by a beautiful and haunting score that creates a sense of dysphoria, much like the mind state of Jackie herself, a woman who is simply trying to process an horrific experience which nobody around her wants to talk about. She’s lonely, isolated, lost in the world and every aspect of the film reflects this.

One of the most gripping Sci-Fi’s I have seen in a long time. This film is one of the most beautiful looking, amazing sounding and really thought provoking films to have come around recently. I’m not even sure I blinked when I saw it, I just wanted to soak it all in and understand it. It’s not a cold film either, it hits you emotionally and this is very much helped by the performances from its great cast. I’m sure it won’t be for everyone but I personally couldn’t find anything wrong with it.

Hacksaw Ridge
The first half of this film does not deserve an Oscar as much as the second maybe does. It’s quite corny and not very subtle in its approach when it comes to the drama. The war scenes however, are as viscerally amazing as they are brutal, they are very well done and truly pack a punch. It’s a solid war film that’s heart-warming but also a bit heavy handed at times. At least it earned Andrew Garfield the nomination that he definitely deserved for Silence instead… (he’s still very good in this though!)

I loved how colourful this film was, some of the visuals were absolutely gorgeous. The music is really powerful and I loved how it was used thematically and not just for the big set pieces (though ‘How Far I’ll Go’ is on repeat right now…). A great story for both adults and children, a brilliant and well-rounded family film. Just as good as Disney Animation’s previous film Zootopia, are they becoming the new Pixar?

Hell or High Water
This film is one that’s smart with its simple approach. It’s deeply layered in a way that never makes you root for one side of the characters over the others, the cops or the robbers. It’s a solid thriller with some great performances from all involved, worth a watch but probably not going to rake in the awards like some of the other films in this post.

Well there you go, I'm actually a little excited to see how this Oscars goes down, is it La La Land's show or is something going to come out a steal its thunder? Do you care? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading! 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Podcast: Cinebois2Cinemen

So this week I wanted to share with you a podcast that I have been listening to called Cinebois2Cinemen. It's a new project from three of my friends that I studied with at University, Daniel Smith, Alfie Martin and Ben Kersey. Now I'm not just promoting this because they're my friends but also because the content they are creating is really good! I'm big fan of podcasts in general and the quality of their production and the depth of their discussion is just as good as the best. I'm hooked already, it's like being back in Falmouth, having serious discussions about film and the industry but also having a good laugh as well. If I haven't hooked you then they have also written a little something themselves to entice you in:

'Cinebois2Cinemen' is a weekly film podcast that aims to provide in-depth discussion and analysis on the weeks releases with a veneer of casual silliness and self deprecatory humour that permeates 99% of all our conversations away from the microphone. Our aspirations for the podcast are simple; As we approach our one month anniversary it seems fitting to expand our listening base away from friends and family who listen just to be polite. In the future we've planned (perhaps rather over zealously) a few changes to the formula, such as dragging guests on from all walks of life and even livecasts should you wish to put the horribly high voices to the constantly greasy faces. All jokes aside, we genuinely love talking about films, and would love people who share that love to have a listen, get in touch and provide feedback (good and bad). This week, we chat about Moonlight, and follow that on with a discussion about masculine portrayals in film. We've got a few others in the back catalogue where we discuss other films and what we felt were subjects relevant should you be feeling fruity. Thanks to Alex for sharing the podcast. Love, Cinebois2Cinemen

I urge you guys to check this out, what I've heard so far is great and it can only get better. If you love film then this is definitely one for you. You can check out the latest podcast on Moonlight below:

I'm going to have to wait on that one because I have yet to have seen Moonlight as my local cinema will not be screening the Oscar nominated and highly critically praised film (not bitter...). If you're like me or want to start the podcast from it's very beginning then you can check out the first episode on La La Land here:

Check out their Facebook page here.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Movie was a film that I absolutely loved when it first came out and it has kept growing on me ever since, so much so that I would rate it as one of my favourite animated films. And who would have thought it, Lego!? So now they’ve spun off one of the characters, Batman, in his own solo film. Which means that nerds like me can have two slices of cake with this one!

There are three great things about The Lego Batman Movie; one is that it’s a great placeholder whilst we wait for the sequel to The Lego Movie. It keeps in tone with its predecessor, delivering a nice story with strong family themes and is filled to the brim with stupid yet very funny gags. And this one barely takes a moment to breathe with the jokes, they just keep on coming, it’s like Airplane! where there are jokes going on everywhere, this film is going to be rewarding when it comes out on DVD and you’ll be able to pause it and check out all the visual gags that have passed you by.

Two is that it’s a great critique and ribbing of the history and mythology of the character. You can tell there’s a lot of love for the character but at the same time they do not hold their punches when it comes to making fun of him. It’s pretty much a spoof movie of Batman in popular culture, making fun of his dark and brooding ways, his villains (including Superman) and his weird phase in the 60’s… Some of the jokes are made for avid comic book fans and general audiences will find that some of those might go straight over their heads. Chris McKay, the director and the everybody else involved clearly know the range of their audience very well.

Three is that it’s a good Batman story! Seriously, when this film starts it gathers some of Batman’s most notorious villains (and some of his not so well known) and has them take over Gotham City, with Batman the only one able to stop them. I can only imagine a live action Batman movie starting in that way, so for now I’m happy that I’ve been able to see the Lego version of that. Now I’m not saying that this is among some of the best Batman story’s out there, it’s probably one of the more family friendly ones but we’re not talking about the new The Dark Knight here. The voice cast is absolutely great as well, with the stand out for me being Michael Cera as Robin.

With this film, the Lego is more of an animation style rather than something that is part of the story, for the most part anyway. This isn’t a bad thing but because it’s shot like a film, it meant that at times it suffered from the Transformers effect, where the action on screen is very hard to follow because it’s literally blocks smashing against blocks. There are some very nice camerawork and angles involved but it sometimes suffered with pretty crazy action scenes.

It works as a Lego movie, it works as a Batman movie and it works as a spoof movie. That’s pretty good going, you’re going to have a fun time at the cinema if those three things flick your switch. There’s heart to it but personally I do wish they could have slowed down a bit more often to let it sink in because it never hits you the way The Lego Movie did. It’s a fun spin off but I do hope that future Lego films are able to capture the smartness, enjoyment and emotion of the original film more so than this one did. I’m rating The Lego Batman Movie a 3.5/5. Good geeky fun.

What did you think of the film? Better that The Lego Movie or worse? Let me know in the comments below?

Thanks for reading!