Oscars Recap 2017!

After last year’s debacle, it can’t go anywhere but up, right?

The 90th Academy Awards have just wrapped up the wonderful year of film that was 2017, celebrating the best films and highlights of the last year that redefined cinema and changed pop culture. Though many of the winners were the frontrunners throughout the awards season and the ceremony didn’t prove much of a surprise, all of our favourite films and performances were represented during the show, whether it was through nominations or presentations, celebrating the likes of trailblazing filmmakers and actors like Kumail Nanjiani, Gal Gadot, Chadwick Boseman, Greta Gerwig and Daniel Kaluuya. And ultimately, most of the recipients were deserving winners, recognising films and performances that truly captured us as we sat in the theatres. What more can we ask for? Here’s what happened at the Dolby Theatre during the 90th Academy Awards:

In an opening monologue that was much lighter than years previous, yet fit the theme of the evening, Jimmy Kimmel welcomed us to an evening that was bereft of surprise and felt hours longer than it actually was. He did, however, provide one of the best running gags of the night: he promised a prize to the person who ended up giving the shortest speech of the night, a jet ski, in the style of a game show host, that would then be riffed on by several of the night’s winners.

Then, starting the show off, as they often do, with Best Supporting Actor, I’d hoped this would be the only acting category that might offer us something of a surprise. Sam Rockwell won the Golden Globe for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at the beginning of the season and was the main performance that everyone was talking about (even if it was about how controversial it was), but it was such a tough category, and he certainly wasn’t a sure thing. However, he managed to come out on top of Dafoe, Jenkins, Harrelson and Plummer, and even dedicated his award to late friend Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Following this was two of the technical categories: Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. While Darkest Hour stylists Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick were a lock for Makeup and Hairstyling, mostly for Gary Oldman’s prosthetics and Winston Churchill, it would’ve been an absolute crime if Phantom Thread, itself a film about fashion design, hadn’t won the award for Costume Design. No surprises there!

Best Documentary Feature provided our only real upset of the evening, with Icarus, a documentary about a major international doping scandal, beating out favourite Faces Places, the French documentary film following director Agnes Varda and photographer JR through rural France. This was then followed by an absolute robbery in my opinion: Dunkirk took out achievements in both sound editing and mixing, whilst Ansel Elgort and Eiza Gonzalez, stars of the film that truly deserved those awards, Baby Driver, presented the statues. As much as I liked Dunkirk, Baby Driver could not have worked as a film without its sound engineering, and it’s a real shame they didn’t win.

After the Shape of Water collected the award for Best Production Design (because that film was STUNNING), a beautiful moment for the night happened, as Chilean film A Fantastic Woman won Best Foreign Language Film. Starring transgender woman Daniela Vega in this very personal story about a transgender singer after the death of her boyfriend, this was a huge moment for inclusivity and representation, the first of many for the evening.

Surprising no one, frontrunner Allison Janney won best Supporting Actress for her role as LaVona in I, Tonya, taking to the stage and declaring, ‘I did this all by myself’, followed by much laughter. Dear Basketball was named Best Animated Short Film, giving us all a very surreal moment as Kobe Bryant received his first Oscar, and then Coco, the beautiful and well-deserving Pixar film, took out Best Animated Feature.

Rounding out the technical categories, Blade Runner 2049 won its first Oscar of the night for its Visual Effects, followed by Dunkirk once again beating out Baby Driver (among others) for its achievement in Film Editing. Again, another robbery, even in a category where I, Tonya could’ve just as easily taken out the top prize. Both these awards were also presented by Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph who, holding their shoes in hand, complaining about their feet, and shouting out to Meryl in the front row about being Tiffany’s real mum, led many of us to wonder: why the hell is Jimmy Kimmel hosting when they could have?

The Best Documentary Short Subject was then rewarded to Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, and Best Live Action Short Film was won by The Silent Child, where winner Rachel Shenton signed her speech as she said it, for the star of the film, Maisie Sly, at home.

The screenplay categories are often where the smaller, incredibly loved films find success (see: the Big Short, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Miss Sunshine, etc.), and this year was no different. James Ivory took home Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name, adapted from the book of the same name by Andre Aciman, become the night’s oldest winner at age 89. Jordan Peele was also met with great applause and cheering as he was announced the winner of best Original Screenplay, for his landmark breakout film, Get Out. Accepting his award, he said, ‘I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone would let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it. I want to dedicate this to all the people who raised my voice and let me make this movie.’

History was made in two ways this evening in the Best Cinematography category – not only was Rachel Morrison, nominated for her work on Mudbound, the first female cinematographer ever nominated for an Oscar, but Roger Deakins, the 14-time Oscar nominee, was finally recognised for his work on Blade Runner 2049, earning it its second award of the night. Alexandre Desplat also won his second Oscar for Best Original Score, for his work on the Shape of Water’s transcendent score. And, in a win that wasn’t certain yet definitely deserved, Coco’s emotional core of a song Remember Me won Best Original Song, a win that was a highlight of the evening for me as it is arguably the crux of the film.

After Jordan Peele’s best Screenplay win, the Directing category looked a lot less certain that it had previously, especially as Emma Stone announced the nominees with ‘These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces’. Yet it was Guillermo del Toro, the favourite for many (including myself) who won for the Shape of Water, giving yet another heartfelt speech, saying, ‘I am an immigrant. The greatest thing art does is erase the lines in the sand, when the world tells us to make them deeper.’

The night’s biggest influence was, of course, the Time’s Up movement, and in recognition of this, there was a video presentation celebrating the industry’s diverse talent and their achievements from the past year, including Dee Rees, Greta Gerwig and Kumail Nanjiani. In fact, it was Nanjiani who stole the show during this, poignantly saying, ‘some of my favourite movies are by straight white dudes about straight white dudes. And now straight white dudes can watch movies about dudes like me, and you relate. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it all my life.’

After Gary Oldman collected what was a career win (but a deserved one) for his role as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, emotion in his voice and his eyes, it was then time for Best Leading Actress. Frances McDormand’s win may not have surprised anyone when she won for Three Billboards, but what she did next was certainly a welcome surprise: setting her Oscar on the stage at her feet, she invited every female nominee in the room to stand with her, and implored the room to look around at all their wonderful talent, and to help them get their projects made. She then concluded her speech with two words: inclusion rider. As a clause in an actor’s contract that requires the cast and crew of the film to be diverse in order to work with them, this big statement summed up the entire tone of the evening and capped off a wonderful season of McDormand speeches.

There was a pretty sure winner throughout the entire night for Best Picture – that is, if they didn’t screw up at the end, as several jokes through the show continued to remind us. The presenters, the recipients, and even the envelopes seemed to remind us of last year’s big mess up, with the category’s title printed on the front of each one in BIG BOLD LETTERS. Yet as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the Best Picture award, it was no surprise when The Shape of Water was called out. Guillermo del Toro gave a nice speech, and then, just like every year, the show ended pretty abruptly. But not before Kimmel gave away his jet ski! The winner was Mark Bridges, the winning costume designer from Phantom Thread. The real winner of the evening!

All in all, it was actually the smaller categories this year who provided the greatest surprises and intrigue. Baby Driver’s complete shutout! Roger Deakins finally winning! Like always, watching the Oscars gave me great hope for the films to come this year, since that’s what the Oscars are all about: shedding light on smaller films and recognising their achievements so more people will go and see them. And I hope this year’s Oscars drives more people out there to see Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards and The Big Sick.

Congratulations to everyone who came out on top!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

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Top Ten Films of 2017 – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! In Film, As In Life may have taken a short break for the last few months of 2017, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t spending time at the cinema, catching up on all the films I could see. Sadly I didn’t get around to reviewing them all last year, but it’s a new year, and I plan to be back with a new review or post for you each and every week.

To catch you all up on some of the films I’ve seen since I last posted (the last review I posted was back in September, for Atomic Blonde – can you believe it? Did you miss me?), and to look back at the year gone by, I’ve compiled my Top Ten Films of 2017 list – I hope you enjoyed these films as much as I did!

  1. Logan

 

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The best superhero movies are the ones that don’t feel like superhero movies, and Logan blew me away with its bold choices, depth of character development, and simple yet emotional storytelling. Hugh Jackman gives a career-best performance as Logan, who’s looking after a severely deteriorating Professor X (Patrick Stewart, also giving a devastating performance) after the demise of the X-Men, when a mysterious young girl with familiar powers (Dafne Keen) appears with news of young mutants living in North Dakota. Filled with a brutal brand of violence that Wolverine deserves, Logan is a raw, heartbreaking culmination for a character we’ve loved for decades, and the perfect end to the Wolverine franchise.

  1. Wonder Woman

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Almost the antithesis to Logan, but also fantastic in its own right, Wonder Woman was every bit a superhero movie – and everything a superhero movie should be. Taking the breakout character from 2016’s Batman vs Superman and giving her a WWI-set origin story, Wonder Woman sees Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) travel journey from her warrior’s paradise on Themyscira to the world of man, to fight Ares, the God of War, and save humanity from the devastation of the Great War. Though much of the film’s sincerity and heart comes from its director Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot carries the film on her shoulders as the charismatic, fierce, loving hero Diana, a role model for women everywhere as she bursts onto No Man’s Land and defends those she loves, and a step forward in representation for women onscreen. An optimistic film in a cynical time, Wonder Woman was the breath of fresh air 2017 definitely needed.

  1. Spider-Man: Homecoming

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My love of the Spider-Man movies is well known and documented – I was a huge Tobey Maguire-web-slinger fan as a kid, and after the MCU debut of Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, I was hooked and ready to see Tom Holland’s solo debut in Homecoming. And he didn’t disappoint: part superhero film, part teen comedy, Spider-Man: Homecoming focused just as much on Peter’s growing pains as a high schooler whose life is going through major upheaval with his powers, as it did with the heart-stopping action scenes that we’ve come to love and expect. Not only was the film sweet, fun and funny, but Tom Holland was perfect as the precocious Peter, making me even more excited to see him fight alongside the Avengers later this year in Infinity War.

  1. The Beguiled

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The Beguiled was a very different kind of female-driven movie this year: set in the South during the Civil War, it centres on a small girls school led by headmistress Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) and her young pupils, who take in an injured Yankee soldier and nurse him back to health. But things get dark when jealousy erupts between these women, all of whom have spent much of their lives isolated from men, and none of the young women know who they can trust – or even who the real villain of the house is. Filled with nuanced, powerful performances across the board, the Beguiled is a fascinating film about the complexity of female relationships, coming of age, sexuality, and the importance of sisterhood.

  1. Baby Driver

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Baby Driver was by far the coolest movie of 2017. It may even be director Edgar Wright’s coolest movie to date, which is saying a lot. Starring Ansel Elgort as Baby, a talented getaway driver with tinnitus who listens to music constantly to drown it out, almost the entire film is choreographed (and edited) to its amazing soundtrack – which means we get car chases set to the Damned, and coffee runs set to Harlem Shuffle. Its fantastic ensemble cast (Jon Hamm, Lily James, Jamie Foxx) is second only to its originality of storytelling, and as you watch it, you feel like you’re watching something fresh, new, and satisfying.

  1. The Big Sick

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The Big Sick was the little indie darling that could this year, a hilarious yet emotional romantic comedy written by real-life married couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon about the fascinating story of how they got together. Kumail (playing himself) is a Pakistani-born stand-up comedian struggling with his family’s more traditional views of marriage; Emily (here played by a wonderful Zoe Kazan) is a psychology grad student who heckles him at a gig, but their newfound relationship soon finds trouble when Emily falls into a coma due to a mysterious illness. The Big Sick is a heartfelt look at love and the importance of family, with a poignant, yet very funny, script, and is filled with career-best performances from Ray Romano, Holly Hunter and Nanjiani himself. And it’s just been nominated for a Best Screenplay Academy Award! Not only was the Big Sick one of the most genuine, feel-good films I saw this year, but it was one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen (it’s both extremely funny, and very romantic), and if you didn’t see it this year, I highly recommend you track it down.

  1. Wind River

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Wind River was an even smaller film this year, but it probably had one of the biggest emotional impacts on me as a cinema-going experience. Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner, Wind River follows a veteran tracker (Renner) who is still grieving the death of his young daughter, as he helps a naïve FBI agent (Olsen) solve the murder of a local young Native American woman in the dead of winter. Jeremy Renner gives a heartbreaking performance as Cory, a white man whose life has been torn apart by violence, and is seeking retribution for the family of the murder victim, who was best friends with his own murdered daughter. Olson also gives a very complex performance as an outsider in this Native American community, and as the mystery behind what really happened becomes clearer and even more devastating, the film gives you only a few small moments of catharsis, with the film’s final emotional punch as unrelenting as the breathtaking blizzard that rages throughout the entire film.

  1. Ingrid Goes West

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Continuing my trend of fantastic independent cinema, Ingrid Goes West is a biting satire of social media, authenticity and LA culture. Aubrey Plaza is captivating as Ingrid, an Instagram-addicted stalker who has just found her new obsession: photographer and “lifestyle guru” Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). She moves to LA and constructs this fake life and personality around herself as she befriends Taylor, but, the further into the lie she entangles herself, the further she has to fall when it all unravels. Movies about social media rarely work, but this one does on so many levels – it’s realistic, and terrifying, but also incredibly dark and comedic, a cautionary tale about oversharing and the authenticity of our online selves versus reality. This is Plaza’s best role since April on Parks and Rec, but Elizabeth Olsen is also fantastic, as is Billy Magnussen as her coked-up brother and O’Shea Jackson Jr as an aspiring fanboy screenwriter. Ingrid Goes West is probably my favourite film of the year, and if you can find it anywhere, I promise you it’s worth your time.

  1. Coco

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Oh, man. Coco is the latest film to come out of Pixar, so grab the tissues and prepare yourself. It follows Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young boy who loves to play the guitar, but his family despises music, after his musician great-great grandfather abandoned his family years and years ago. On Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead, he finds himself in the Land of the Dead, and must find his great-great grandfather, the legendary singer Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) to receive his blessing and return home. In their most stunningly colourful animation since Inside Out, Pixar have created their emotional film to date, a beautiful story about passion, family, and remembering where you came from. Miguel’s journey through the Land of the Dead is breathtaking, both visually and through the lore of what happens after you die, and is filled with vibrant music in traditional Mexican style, as well as heartbreaking moments that would melt even the coldest heart. Coco is truly a Pixar film to make you feel human again.

  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Unlike the many, very vocal, people on the internet, I actually loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi so, so much. It accomplished many of the things a truly great sequel must: it took characters we were familiar with and helped them grow across their journey, with Rey coming to terms with a Luke that is barely recognisable and growing stronger in the ways of the Force herself. It established new, complex and interesting relationship between characters we’ve barely see interact before, as Rey and Kylo Ren’s fascinating Force connection and Leia and Poe’s more lighthearted friendship showed us. It expanded upon the lore of the previous films, with the Force working in new and interesting ways, and it also gave us some of the best fight sequences and moments ever seen in Star Wars. Whilst much of Finn, Rose and the Resistance’s storyline clearly didn’t work and was quite boring, I can commend it for bringing into the story powerful themes about the blurred lines between good and evil, an idea which will surely come into greater focus in the trilogy’s final instalment, but I think the thing I enjoyed most about The Last Jedi was that it was unafraid to take risks. Things don’t turn out exactly how you expected them to, and people change, and whilst this may have rubbed some people the wrong way, it made me even more excited about the future of Star Wars. “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.” Star Wars will only remain great if it stays fresh and new within itself, and after Last Jedi, I have hope that it will.

And that’s my top ten of 2017! What was yours? Let me know in the comments!

Also, I know I’ve been pretty absent for the last six or so months, but this time I plan on sticking around, so stay tuned for reviews of my favourite films through the year ahead!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2527336/mediaviewer/rm3942668544
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Atomic Blonde


Does a film need to have a good plot to be a good film? Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is an undercover MI6 agent who is sent to Berlin at the height of the Cold War to investigate a fellow missing agent, James Gascoigne (Sam Hargrave) and recover a list of the world’s intelligence agents. But no one is ever what they seem in spy movies like these, and Lorraine and her allies are keeping secrets from each other that threaten not just their cover in Berlin, but their lives and the lives of others.

Atomic Blonde is one of the rare movies where almost everything is working so well together – action, performances, soundtrack, stylistic direction, everything – but the plot is both overly complex and wildly non-existent at the same time. I may have seen it a while ago, but I forget almost all of the film’s big reveals and why they mattered, because they were almost inconsequential to the film as a whole; as Lorraine liaises with the drunken, roguish agent David Percival (James McAvoy) and becomes involved with the French newcomer Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella), as they attempt to recover the list, the audience is unsure of who’s lying to who, who’s trusting who, and whether we can even trust Lorraine. But rather than create intrigue and mystery, this leads to nearly two hours of jumbled together scenes and forgettable communist bad guys; none of the plot twists gave the film any more tension, stakes or compelling moments, so it just operates on one emotional level: “this is cool, but what’s going on again? And why do I care?”


That being said, the film is somehow still ridiculously entertaining, with director David Leitch taking his John Wick coolness, turning it up to 11, adding neon 80s style and lesbian sex scenes and reminding us, “oh, that’s why we care.” The brutality of Lorraine and 80s underground Berlin is perfectly encapsulated in the savage stairwell fight, as well as many others, and Leitch has crafted some of the year’s best and most realistic fight scenes, mashing them perfectly against the Brit-pop-punk, edgy fashion and frenetic direction that makes Atomic Blonde feel fun, fresh and like nothing else we’ve seen this year.

Because in a year of heralded heroines (Diana Prince, I’m looking at you), Theron’s Lorraine is worlds away from the impassioned fight of Wonder Woman, yet equally as kick-ass. The strength of Charlize’s performance and fighting skills is on show here, from the brutal Stairway Fight to the shock-twist final battle, and her chemistry, particularly with Sofia Boutella, is piercing. But everyone is doing well here, from James McAvoy as the drunken spy to John Goodman’s secretive CIA agent, and even new Pennywise-to-be makes an appearance as Lorraine’s dapper friend. 


So, DOES a film need to have a good plot to be a good movie? Apparently not, since Atomic Blonde is a good film, albeit a confusing one at times. The intense action, charismatic performances and edgy-80s-Berlin vibes created an atmospheric film that was easy to enjoy – this was definitely a case of style over substance done right. 

7/10. 

And here’s the list of my top five favourite films starring the cast of Atomic Blonde:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road – Charlize Theron
  2. X-Men: First Class – James McAvoy
  3. Captain America: Winter Soldier – Toby Jones
  4. Kingsman: The Secret Service – Sofia Boutella 
  5. The Emperor’s New Groove – John Goodman

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm223425280/tt2406566

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Dunkirk

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Christopher Nolan may be a legendary filmmaker making his first, highly anticipated, historical war film, but one should not forget that his Dunkirk is not the first 2017 film to focus on the infamous battle: Their Finest also told that story, so is Nolan really so innovative? Obviously I’m kidding, and Nolan’s film is going to be amazing, so excuse my humour and please read on. (Also, Their Finest is a really fun film, if you’re interested).

Surrounded by the German Army, hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers are trapped on the beach of Dunkirk as they attempt to cross the Channel and return home. But as this proves more difficult than first imagined, these soldiers will have to rely on the strength of British civilians, as they enter a warzone to bring back their men. Despite this being one of Nolan’s shorter films, it doesn’t feel like a short movie; its continuously sombre tone and constant tension takes its emotional toll, so by the end the viewer is certainly emotionally drained.

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That being said, it takes a while to get into the tension of the story. Nolan is experimenting with the temporal structure of the film; the three, at first separate, stories of the film are set one week, one day and one hour from the climactic events of the film, on the beach, on the water and in the air respectively. Though this is at first quite jarring, in terms of placing each of the characters in relation to each other, it does allow us to slowly get to know each set of characters. Nolan keeps us very unfamiliar with his characters, so they also take a while to earn your interest; but eventually you do enjoy them as a representation of the experience of real soldiers during the battle, as the actors give fantastic performances as an ensemble and accurately represent the universal experience of the soldiers as a group.

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Ultimately, this slow build of character and story is successful in building great tension and working the three stories together. When they do collide it is both organic and super satisfying, resulting in a climactic third act that is full of action and character development, bittersweet relief and incredible tension, an intense culmination that is everything we’ve come to expect from Nolan’s storytelling. Characters come into their own: soldier Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) becomes more protective, his mate Alex (Harry Styles) more emotional; pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) and civilian sailor Mr Dawson (Mark Rylance) become heroes, and Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) becomes more in tune with his men. Despite what little we know about them, we care so much about them, and more importantly, their plight to return safely home.

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But what we expect more from Nolan is his visual mastery, and having seen this in 70mm, I can say he accomplishes that too. The bleak yet beautiful beaches and seas create such a brilliant blend of colour, and the landscape is simultaneously peaceful and threatening. His direction in this instance is timeless, and throughout the film there is an almost constant ticking clock as part of Hans Zimmer’s moving score. While his storytelling here is not as good as some of his other films, Dunkirk is his technical crowning achievement.

Dunkirk is a beautiful entry into a varied filmography; whilst distinctly different to the rest of Nolan’s films, it carries his precise knowledge of everything happening for a reason, whether it be exact turns of character, or moments that he crafts to make you feel a very specific, powerful way. And though not all of his efforts have the perfect effect he was after, all throughout Dunkirk you have the immensely gratifying feeling of a filmmaker who is in complete control.

8/10.

Dunkirk has a a lot of newer names, but also some British powerhouses, so here’s my top five favourite films starring the cast of Dunkirk:

  1. Bridge of Spies – Mark Rylance
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Kenneth Branagh
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road – Tom Hardy
  4. Batman Begins – Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy
  5. Inception – Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Christopher Nolan

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/mediaviewer/rm1139550208
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Baby Driver

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Satisfying. Fun. And oh, so cool.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young but experienced getaway driver, counting down the days until he’s out of the business, and can escape Atlanta with potential girlfriend Debora (Lily James). But one final job sees him in over his head as all hell breaks loose with experienced heisters Buddy and Darling (Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez) and loose cannon Bats (Jamie Foxx).

As Baby suffers from tinnitus, he always listens to music to drown out the ringing – thus, we hear Baby’s music, a fun mix of retro pop and modern rock, constantly in the background, and if not there’s a slight ringing noise. Technically outstanding films like this rarely combine such skill with balls to the wall fun like Wright has here; Baby Driver is a directing and editing masterpiece, combining sound and music with visuals in ways that aren’t just impressive, but unique and oh, so satisfying. Characters often move in time to the music; shots almost always cut away in 4/4 time, and gun reports are in time with the beat, creating an incomparably cool, rock and roll alternative universe which is modern, retro and classic all at once.

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This is all in theme with its timeless story: a romance interspersed with frenetic action and violence, and Baby and Debora (a picture perfect couple, with electric chemistry between Elgort and James) are just a couple’a kids who want to run away together. Standing in the way, of course, is the film’s double act as a stylised, hyper-violent chase movie. Crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey), to whom Baby is obliged, and his host of unpredictable criminals are always throwing a thrilling spanner into the works of our fairy-tale, allowing the film to continue to surprise, even to its final moments. And though the plot may seem simple on the surface, its uncomplicated nature allows the film to fully embrace every part of itself and wear its heart on its sleeve.

Because Baby Driver is unapologetically earnest, enjoying every genre it encompasses. Baby and Debora’s relationship is romantic and realistic, but unafraid to be cheesy. The action is tense, and gory, pushing the film’s stylistic beats all the way to its truly rock and roll climax. And the many enormous car chases never waste a second, impressing us with slick action, the sweet soundtrack and character development all at once, usually in the form of the quiet but enigmatic Baby. Though his supporting cast is fantastic, Elgort carries the film on his shoulders, and in amongst the craziness and power of his criminal world, his sincerity and devotion to his family (in every form it takes) is what compels us to his fast, loud story.

 

bd3From Carla Thomas’ B-A-B-Y to T. Rex’s Debora, the blood pumping Neat Neat Neat (The Damned) and the sublime Easy (like Sunday morning… you know the one), Baby Driver reels you in soul first, pulling you headfirst into a magical reality full of romance, blood, cars and guns. With its impeccable soundtrack and pitch-perfect performances, Baby Driver is a masterclass in filmmaking, as well as the most fun you’ll have in cinemas this year.

9/10.

With this cool ensemble cast, here’s my top five favourite films and TV shows starring the cast of Baby Driver:

  1. The Fault In Our Stars (no shame) – Ansel Elgort
  2. Cinderella – Lily James
  3. Elvis & Nixon – Kevin Spacey
  4. Daredevil – Jon Bernthal
  5. Parks and Recreation – Jon Hamm (he’s in an episode!)

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3890160/mediaviewer/rm3651742208
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3890160/mediaviewer/rm608583168
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The Beguiled


Some directors move fast and stylish; others are more meditative and lingering, and Sofia Coppola is definitely the latter. Many of her films, such as 2003’s Lost in Translation, will hit a point where they either have you, or they won’t, and just like Lost In Translation, her new film, The Beguiled, certainly had me. Set during the Civil War in Virginia, an injured Northern soldier is taken in at a girls’ school, where his presence threatens to break apart the close, yet strained, relationships of the women who live there. 


The Beguiled is a slow-burning Civil War snapshot that, at only 90 minutes, spends it first half or so diving deep into the lives of the very different women who live there, and the upset of Corporal McBurney’s arrival. Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) loves her work and her girls, but seems lonely for new company; Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) is desperate to leave and fall in love, as she had before she came to the school, and McBurney’s arrival offers to her the possibility of a new life. And while the younger girls develop friendships and small crushes on their wounded soldier, the older, teenage Alicia (Elle Fanning) is exploring her sexuality and sees McBurney as her opportunity to escape the repression of the restrictive southern girls’ school. 

Sofia Coppola’s masterful direction highlights the complexities of their relationships: her lingering shots of the beautiful estate and its grounds allow the story to breathe, followed by closely framed, tight shots that trap your breath in your chest, inspiring in you the claustrophobia that these women experience. Coppola captures the intricacies of female relationships, the natural jealousy and competition that arises in such cramped living spaces, supplying the film with its almost inappropriately dark humour, but also its incredible closeness and the family dynamic it creates, as these women are a family. 


Kidman’s Miss Martha is the caring but stern matriarch, leading the ensemble with brilliantly cold poise and watching over her four younger women – Amy (Oona Lawrence), Jane (Angourie Rice), Maria (Addison Riecke) and Emily (Emma Howard); Kirsten Dunst’s more emotionally impulsive Edwina is regrettably relatable and tragic, especially with Dunst’s intricately expressive face; and Elle Fanning’s overtly sexual Alicia may not even be the petty and selfish middle child she first appears as, as Fanning gives her such mystery. Yet despite their differences, they band together and look after each other when things get intense, which they do. 

Because Corporal McBurney is not to be trusted: spinning lies to each of the women, he worms his way into their hearts and creates bitter divisions within the school, seemingly becoming the most powerful person in the estate. Coppola’s slow burn here turns into an all-out fire, pushing her characters to breaking point, but she never breaks them, for power is never what it seems in The Beguiled. Despite being a period piece with an undercurrent of female jealousy, the women’s bond is never completely broken, and they stay strong together when the tables eventually turn. This is the ultimately feminist message of the Beguiled: when worst comes to worst, women will do what it takes to look after each other. 9/10. 

Here’s my list of my five favourite films starring the cast of The Beguiled:

  1. Moulin Rouge! – Nicole Kidman
  2. Spider-Man 2 – Kirsten Dunst
  3. The Nice Guys – Angourie Rice
  4.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Colin Farrell
  5. Lost in Translation – Sofia Coppola

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5592248/mediaviewer/rm2299078656

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5592248/mediaviewer/rm2466850816

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5592248/mediaviewer/rm1939879680

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield or Tom Holland? If you’d asked me that question a few years ago, the answer was 100% Tobey: the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy was the essential viewing of my childhood, the story of a kid – just like me – who was suddenly a superhero. Cut to May 2016 and ask me again: even with only his small role in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland’s younger, more inexperienced Peter Parker showed enough promise to be put up the top. This made Spider-Man: Homecoming one of my most anticipated movies of the year, and now that it’s out, it’s everything that a Spider-man fan could want.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming drops us in two months after the events of Civil War, where Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back to normal life… and hating it. Knowing he can do so much more and desperate to prove himself to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Peter takes on a group of thugs with more power than he realises, all while trying to survive his biggest challenge: high school. And high school is this film’s biggest asset: reading much more like a John Hughes teen movie than the superhero scale that we’re used to, Homecoming does for Peter Parker what Logan does for the Wolverine – take the character back to its roots and tell an organic story that stays true to comic and character. Through this we get our new iteration of Peter, younger and more immature and carefree, trying to grow up too quickly and come to terms with these new powers that are turning his life upside down. A high school movie also allows the film to dive more into Spidey’s rich history at Midtown High, so we get to see more of characters like Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), Michelle (Zendaya), Liz (Laura Harrier) and Flash (Tony Revolori), an ensemble whose chemistry and comedy make Homecoming a very authentic teen movie. This creates a film that’s not only full of coming of age heart, but so much humour – it might even be the funniest Marvel film to date, staying true to the character’s wise-cracking comic book roots.

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Though the film functions first and foremost as a teen movie, there’s still plenty of superheroism to go around. As Peter becomes more determined to impress Tony and become an Avenger, the more dangerous his situation becomes, getting tangled up with Adrian Toomes’ Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his high-tech gang, resulting in tense action and surprising twists that keep the film refreshing for its entire runtime. Fun winks Cap and the Avengers remind us that we’re still in a Marvel movie, but ultimately, Homecoming doesn’t rely on its franchise to produce thrilling stunts and heartfelt moments.

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And at the forefront of the film, Tom Holland easily mixes the two: he is far and away the best actor we’ve seen in the role so far, combining the nervous, shy Peter with his more outspoken, witty alter-ego in a way we’ve never seen before. Holland takes his youth and makes it integral to the story, since Peter’s just a kid learning to play in an adult world, and together with Tony Stark’s attempt at mentoring his webbed prodigy (played by a surprisingly heartfelt, austere Robert Downey Jr.), we see the importance of Peter learning his strengths and his limits as someone so you with so much power. And challenging him as the Vulture is Michael Keaton, giving a truly menacing performance; he may be a villain with good reason, as a man put out of business by Tony and the Avengers, but you can still feel Peter’s terror whenever the Vulture descends.

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The Spider-Man comics have always asked the question, “What would happen if you gave a 15 year old kid superpowers?” While the other two Spider-Man franchises have produced decent superhero films, they’ve never answered this question as well as Spider-Man: Homecoming does. A combination of Marvel and Sony’s production teams and a witty, fun script; a fantastic cast, and the discovery of one of Marvel’s powerhouses in Tom Holland, have delivered a Spider-Man film we can all be proud of.

8/10.

Now, here’s my top five favourite films starring the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming;

  1. Captain America: Civil War – Tom Holland, Robert Downey, Jr., Marisa Tomei and Chris Evans
  2. The Impossible – Tom Holland
  3. The Nice Guys – Angourie Rice
  4. Spotlight – Michael Keaton
  5. Community – Donald Glover

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2250912/mediaviewer/rm3938925312
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2250912/mediaviewer/rm1554655744
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2250912/mediaviewer/rm1537878528
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2250912/mediaviewer/rm1639526656
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2250912/mediaviewer/rm1777741568