Movie March Week Three

We’re already at week three? March is moving so quickly! Thankfully I was more productive this week than last, and got my butt into gear to watch some movies, most of which I’d never seen before. This week contained some television new and old, some fun re-watches, and, as I move into a new year of uni (where I’m studying classic film this year), some class-assigned movies and a few classics sprinkled throughout my week. What have I seen? What have I been up to? Read below for my weekly roundup:

15/3: Riverdale

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Alas, more Riverdale. At this point I’m probably the only person left still watching this show, but it’s a really great vehicle of drama for me – I can take it as seriously or as campy as I want in any given moment. I think we’re ramping up to the end of the series which is a scary thought; what am I going to do without my Thursday night Netflix ritual?

7/10.

16/3: West Side Story

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Oh man, this musical has a special place in my heart. When I was in high school, my school put this on as the school musical, and whilst I wasn’t involved (one of my many school-related regrets), the music, characters and story seeped into school life, and I soon became enamoured with the star-crossed romance of all-American Tony and Puerto Rican immigrant Maria. I’d never seen the 1961 Oscar-winning film until last Friday, but boy am I glad I did now: Richard Beymer as Tony is so lovable, Natalie Wood is sublime as Maria, and Rita Moreno’s Anita is a whirlwind of a performance, equal parts witty and tragic. It’s bound to get its music stuck in your head, but when you hear the score, you know it’s not a bad thing.

9/10.

17/3: The Lion King

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I think the last time I saw the Lion King was actually this time last year, during the inaugural Movie March, and I loved it even more this year, probably because I saw it at the drive-in. I love the drive-in for several reasons, mostly because of its retro aesthetic and the fact that I can talk through a film and nobody gets mad, and the ability to see The Lion King on the big screen for the first time, set against a night sky backdrop, was truly special. I’ve always loved the music and the characters of what is arguably Disney’s most beloved film, but this time around I got even more out of the father-son relationship explored in the movie, and was moved even more by the tragedy surrounding it, and the ideas of dealing with death and becoming the person you need to be after experiencing trauma. Heavy stuff for a movie with a singing meerkat, huh?

9/10.

18/3: Gone with the Wind

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Confession time: before Sunday, I had never seen Gone with the Wind. Actually, I don’t think that’s much of a surprise, since the 1939 Oscar-winning film is incredibly long and incredibly of its time, so most people my age probably haven’t seen it. We all have pre-conceived notions of what Gone with the Wind is like: the epic romance, the epic racism, the Civil War melodrama, but Gone with the Wind really managed to surprise me. It’s still racist, but it’s not quite the epic romance I’d thought it was – although Scarlett (Vivian Leigh) and Rhett (Clark Gable) do have a fantastic report – and this was, in my belief, for the better, because I got to focus more on the main star of the show, Miss Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett is a feminist icon of her time if ever I saw one: cunning, clever, owning her sexuality and driven, doing whatever it takes to survive the Civil War and ensure that she lives the most successful life possible in the aftermath (‘As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!’). She’s also incredibly emotional, and feels deeply as she struggles with her love and abuse of different men and romantic partners over the film’s almost-4-hour runtime. There’s so much to love about this film, with its melodrama, its Civil War history, its romance and its wealth of great characters, moments, and dialogue – “Tomorrow is another day, Scarlett”, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”, and countless others. I really did love it, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in film or classics.

9/10.

20/3: I’m Not There

I'm Not There

Skipping over Monday, I’m moving onto I’m Not There, the Todd Haynes-directed biopic of sorts about legendary music icon Bob Dylan. Rather than telling a linear story about Dylan’s life, the film focuses on six different personas, all representative of Dylan in one way or another, with their own mini stories told in separate filmic styles. There’s 70s actor Robbie (Heath Ledger), born-again folk singer Jack (Christian Bale), early-1960s icon Jude (an androgynous Cate Blanchett), young African-American boy Woody (Marcus Carl Franklin), poet Arthur Rimbaud (who was a real person, here played by Ben Whishaw) and older cowboy Billy (Richard Gere). What’s funny about this film is that, although I learned absolutely nothing about Bob Dylan, this film gives me a much better idea of the KIND of person Dylan was: introspective, poetic, and ever-changing. A fascinating film to check out if you’re a fan of biopics, and especially Bob Dylan, as his music plays throughout the film.

8/10.

21/3: Fresh Meat

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I’ve been obsessed with the stand-up comedy of Jack Whitehall lately, and I love his Netflix show Travels with my Father, so I’ve been watching Fresh Meat, a show about university students in Manchester living in a share house together. Whitehall plays JP, a private school lad who takes over the house and seemingly can’t play nice with the rest of the ensemble of students, who include Vod (Zawe Ashton), an uber-cool party girl, Howard (Greg McHugh), an older student who needs to learn boundaries with his fellow housemates, and Kingsley and Josie (Joe Thomas and Kimberley Nixon), who are navigating the awkwardness of sexual attraction whilst sharing a bedroom wall. It’s full of fun, sometimes cringey comedy, and it’s a great way back in to British comedy for someone who used to watch a heap of it.

And that’s week three done! I’m hoping to fill the final week of Movie March with some Wes Anderson hipsterism, Alex Garland sci-fi, and hopefully a rewatch of my favourite film of last year. Want to know what it was? Tune in next week to find out!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt7124300/mediaviewer/rm2824033280
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055614/mediaviewer/rm3844782848
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110357/mediaviewer/rm3450715392
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031381/mediaviewer/rm3933242368
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368794/mediaviewer/rm506566656
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2058303/mediaviewer/rm3845659136

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Movie March 2018! Week One

This exact time last year, I embarked on a project designed to further both my love of films and my love of writing about them: Movie March, a month where I (attempt to) watch a movie each day, and, at the end of every week, post a summary of what I’ve watched. Part initiative to watch more films, part initiative to write about them more, Movie March ended up being a really interesting dissection of my watching habits when I watch films more frequently – and in the end, I truly did watch more movies that month.

Over the course of the last year, not much has changed. I still don’t watch enough movies (although I do watch more now on average), and I certainly don’t write about them enough, so Movie March is the perfect opportunity to inspire me to watch more, write more, analyse and engage more. So allow me to kick things off with my first week of Movie March:

1/3: Mad Max: Fury Road and Speed

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As I am now entering my fourth year of university, I decided to do something new and fun and join my university’s Film Appreciation Society, which meets twice a week for a screening of a film, followed by discussion. Last Thursday was the club’s first screening of the year, with the double billing of the most recent Mad Max film and Keanu Reeves 90s classic, and I was driven to go both by an interest in meeting new film-lover friends and also to see Speed, which I had not seen before. I had seen Mad Max: Fury Road before (you may remember my post about the GRAPHIC! Talk I saw with George Miller); I am still as fascinated by this film’s epic scope and depth of lore today as I was two years ago. The cinematography is breathtaking, the action electric (or should I say diesel?), and the story, though simple in comparison to the visuals, still feels incredibly personal. Charlize Theron’s Furiosa draws me in every time, as does her complex relationship with Max (tom Hardy), and I especially love how each of Immortan Joe’s escapee wives have their own distinct personalities. And, as I did last time, when Furiosa and the wives get up on the platform amidst celebration and Max stays behind, not having earnt his moment yet, I still wonder what is next for Max, and where he is to go next.

9/10.

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The second film we screened was Speed, which thankfully makes up for my lack of movie watching the day after. I expected to be entertained by Speed, but I definitely didn’t expect to be as invested in the story, and the characters, as I was. It’s a classic action movie conceit: Keanu Reeves plays an LAPD officer who has to think quick after a bomber rigs a bus to explode if it goes slower than 50mph. Young Keanu has this great duality as an actor of both intensity and charm; he may be easy to make fun of with his very 90s voice, but here he has an easy, sexy chemistry with Sandra Bullock (who is also fantastic) and somehow makes a bomb that’s rigged to explode when the bus goes under 50mph believable. The movie walks that difficult line between knowing exactly what kind of movie it is, and still taking itself seriously when things get serious, and that results in an adrenaline-filled, tense, but super fun, action movie.

7/10.

3/3 (Because I was lazy on the 2nd): John Wick

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Sensing a pattern? After Speed, I realised how few Keanu films I had actually seen, so I’ve gone on a bit of a Keanu kick, starting with John Wick, the story of a former assassin who’s dog is killed by the son of a Russian mobster, and goes on a no-holds-barred killing spree to seek revenge. Whilst the story itself is simple and nothing new, it’s Keanu’s performance, the action sequences, and the world building that really elevates Wick to the kind of film that gets a sequel three years later. Keanu is intense and brooding, but still looks like he’s enjoying himself in the most brutal and quick-paced gun fight scenes I’ve seen recently, which are kinetic and inventive, and capitalise on Keanu’s physicality and martial arts skills. But it’s the world building that fascinated me the most, with this underworld of assassins, connected by this hotel that specialises in the assassin industry, that lends credibility and believability to the characters we’ve been following and their motivations. Is John Wick: Chapter 2 on Netflix?

7/10.

4/3: The Road to El Dorado

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How had I never seen this film? Growing up, as many of us did, on Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks classics, I’ve always been aware of this film, but this delightfully quirky film had somehow slipped my radar. Based on legends from the Spanish conquering of the New World in the 16th century, the film follows con artists Miguel and Tulio (Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline) as they search for the lost city of gold and stumble upon a civilisation who mistakes them for gods. Despite its problematic elements, the film is so much fun: it’s brightly coloured, full of fascinating characters – from an opportunistic high priest who uses our heroes’ arrival to control the city to a conning local girl looking to make her fortune and escape, as well as our main protagonists and their conflicting dynamics – and is even peppered with an incredible Elton John/Tim Rice soundtrack that I can’t believe I didn’t know existed. It brought me back to my childhood of watching The Prince of Egypt, Spirit and Sinbad, and all those other cult classic animated films we’ve allowed ourselves, foolishly, to forget.

7/10.

5/3: Hot Fuzz

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Monday was the perfect sick day for me: it was raining, the Oscars were on (hey! You should check out my recap), and after that I got to watch a much more interesting program: Hot Fuzz. I’ve been catching up on my Edgar Wright since Baby Driver last year, and this film was so different to Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim that it reminded me just how interesting a filmmaker Wright is. When skilled London police officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is transferred to a sleepy village, not all is what it seems, as he teams up with bumbling PC Danny Butterman to uncover the dark secret harboured by the town’s creepy residents. Not only is it a love letter to past action and cop films, and the second instalment of the Cornetto Trilogy, but it’s a fascinating (and relatable) treatise on the insularity of small town life and the nature of ambition. It’s a comedy, an action film, and it even functions as a thriller: the second act twist is super surprising and satisfying, and kept me going through a film that, before the twist, I had worried was boring me. Spoiler: it was not.

8/10.

6/3: Queer Eye

With a couple of busier days ahead of me, I unfortunately didn’t watch any movies for the rest of Week One, so instead allow me to tell you about my TV and other entertainment pursuits. Today I watched the penultimate episode of the new Netflix version of Queer Eye, a reality show where a team of five gay men – the Fab Five – transform the lives of men who are struggling to look after themselves in different areas of their lives. It’s a heart-warming, hilarious, often quite emotional show that not only teaches self-care, fashion and cultural tricks and tips, its strength is in its Fab Five: Tan, Karamo, Antoni, Bobby and Jonathan, who are all so lovable and aspirational that there’s never a dull moment. This show never fails to lift my mood, and by the response on social media, Netflix had better be planning a second season. Soon.

7/3: My Obsession with Podcasts

Whether I’m cleaning or using public transport, at some point during the day I’m listening to a podcast, always film related, of course. And I’ve discovered so many great new ones lately that I’m obsessed with: there’s the Cine-Files, hosted by John Rocha and Steve Morris, where they break down a movie, often scene by scene, and talk about the film’s history, the filmmaking, and the actors and creatives involved. Not only is their analysis fascinating, as they each bring different views to the films (Steve’s more technical, John’s emotional), and often have on guests that give even more insight into the history of that genre. John Rocha also does another podcast, The Top 10, with comedian Matt Knost, where they compile top ten lists of different categories of films, whether it be an actor’s or director’s work, a genre, you name it, and I’ve loved that one for years.  I also discovered that the Director’s Guild of America also do a podcast: they have a director with a new film be interviewed by a fellow director on the film they’ve just released, and it’s different to a regular interview, as it’s two peers discussing their field rather than a simple question and answer. I’ve also been loving Alicia Malone as the host of the Filmstruck Podcast (she has an interview with Edgar Wright that’s wonderful), and I’m trying out the Empire Podcast for the first time after years of reading their magazine.

And that’s been my week in (mostly) movies! I’ll try to watch more movies this week, but who knows what’ll end up in next week’s recap. I just bought a heap of new DVDs so you’ll probably see some more Keanu Reeves sneak in there, as well as maybe one or two classic films, as that’ll be a big focus of my movie watching this year. Also, if you’d like to join in, leave me a comment telling me what you’re watching, or anything you recommend I check out. Until next week!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111257/mediaviewer/rm663421696
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392190/mediaviewer/rm2189869824
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2911666/mediaviewer/rm3993420032
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138749/mediaviewer/rm1456741120
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Movie March: Week 4

Movie March is officially over! It’s April, which means soon we get to see all the new “summer” releases and some of the most anticipated films of the year, but first, let’s recap the last week of Movie March, from the 22nd right through to the end of the month. It certainly wasn’t a failure of a week – I ended up watching seven movies in ten days, plus a bunch of YouTube and TV – but it was pretty sporadic, since three of those movies were watched in one monster day. Speaking of monsters, the most recent monster movie also gets a look in here – and it’s not as bad as you think. Without further ado, here’s my final week of Movie March summed up:

22/3: More YouTube
No movies today, but I have recently discovered a new favourite YouTube channel: Andre “Black Nerd”, run by Andre Meadows. A frequent guest on one of my favourite podcasts, Andre is so enthusiastic and never ashamed of his guilty pleasure viewing – his Riverdale recaps are hilarious, his love of the Power Rangers makes me actually interested to see the movie (though I probably won’t), and he’s a Disney fan, so his wide scope of interests is actually fairly similar to mine. Plus, discovering a new channel means a big back-catalogue ripe for a binge-watch, which is both dangerous and exciting.

23/3: Funny Face
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A friend who shares my love of classic cinema has been talking this movie up for so long, I eventually gave in and watched it. I was missing out for so long! A proper ear-worm musical, Funny Face sees Audrey Hepburn play Jo Stockton, a philosophy-loving intellectual who gets whisked away to Paris into the world of high fashion after being discovered by a classy magazine editor (Kay Thompson) and her charming photographer friend (the one and only Fred Astaire). Full of iconic Audrey Hepburn outfits, a lot of dance scenes, both brilliant and hilarious, and some s’wonderful and s’marvelous songs, Funny Face might not be for the casual musical fan, but is lifeblood for any die-hard classic musical lover.
7/10.

25/3: Beauty and the Beast, the LEGO Batman Movie, and Cop Car


I’ve skipped the 24th (and will skip the 26th and 27th) because on my day off this week, I crammed in three beautiful, funny and thrilling films and had one amazing day. Starting my day with Beauty and the Beast (which I have already reviewed), I got lost in the live-action remake of such a beloved classic. Even though the almost-identical story makes the point of this movie questionable, the new music and stunning visuals made this film utterly enchanting, with the talented cast stealing my heart (Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci? My absolute favourites) and getting stuck in my head. Next was the LEGO Batman Movie, which I highly anticipated after recently starting the Dark Knight trilogy, and it didn’t disappoint: though much more of a kids movie, dealing with less-adult themes than the original LEGO Movie, LEGO Batman is a joy ride from start to finish, cramming in jokes, meta-references and even musical numbers to make sure you’re constantly entertained. The all-star cast is so enormous it’s ridiculous, and though it’s not perfect, LEGO Batman proves that the Dark Knight doesn’t have to be all dark. I finished my day off with Cop Car, an indie thriller from Jon Watts (the director helming Spider-Man: Homecoming later this year) which sees two runaway kids steal a police car from a cop who definitely shouldn’t be messed with. Starring a terrifying Kevin Bacon as the cop, Cop Car is 84 tight minutes of heart stopping moments, as the two show-stealing kids Travis and Harrison (played by James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) go on the run and just try and survive the movie, basically. It’s full of twists, turns, and on-the-edge-of-your-seat scenes, and is a film any movie-lover has to see.
So, overall, a pretty good day.
8/10 (Beauty and the Beast), 7/10 (the LEGO Batman Movie), 9/10 (Cop Car).

28/3: Kong: Skull Island
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I know what you’re thinking. The new King Kong movie? Really? But before you judge, I’d like to point out that this is one of those movies that needs to be taken as a product of genre. It’s not a high-concept action drama; it’s a creature feature, almost B-movie style thriller, which focuses on the action and jump scares to create 2 hours of pure action entertainment, the human characters and their Vietnam-war setting merely acting as a vehicle for epic fights. This isn’t normally my thing, but going in with an open mind meant I was genuinely on the edge of my seat as Kong hunts down both humans and creatures, and even meant I could enjoy what little character development there was, since John C. Reilly steals the show and even tugs a few heartstring. I know that all movies should be placed on equal footing when it comes to reviews, and Kong is no Citizen Kane, but if a popcorn flick is what you desire, I highly recommend Kong: Skull Island. Who’d have thought?
6/10.

29/3: The Dark Knight
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Can you believe I’d never seen this before last Wednesday? I couldn’t either. But Heath Ledger is one of my favourite actors of all time, and watching him as the Joker felt like his career coming full circle for me: his performance as the Joker was more detailed and intense than I could have ever expected, not just a character, but a real man, terrifying and unpredictable, a symbol of chaos and more than just a villain. He definitely overshadows a lot of the rest of the movie, but it’s all still amazing: Gary Oldman truly had me worried for a second as Commissioner Gordon, and Aaron Eckhart is truly tragic as Harvey Dent (though that eyeball is very distracting). The movie just moves from one epic scene to the next, with all of the Joker’s machinations gripping and suspenseful, and Christian Bale again holds it all together as Bruce/Batman, becoming the conflicted, complicated vigilante that Gotham doesn’t deserve, but needs. Even though I think Batman Begins is a tighter movie that stands on its own better, I can’t deny that the Dark Knight is a masterpiece.
9/10.

30/3: The Office
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Season 9 is playing with my emotions, you guys. I’m conflicted, you see, because on one hand they’re creating a lot of drama, which I love, but they’re tearing apart friendships and ruining characters that I’ve come to love. Andy is now deplorable, Erin deserves all the happiness, I’m worried for Jim and Pam, and Angela and Oscar deserve so much better, both in their friendship together and their respective relationships. It’s surprising and infuriating but still addictive, and I can only hope it wraps itself up well. Please.
8/10.

31/3: The LEGO Batman Movie
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Again? Of course! I end up seeing a lot of movies twice in the cinema (I saw La La Land 3 times at the movies), so when some friends wanted to see it, I didn’t hesitate to go too. It’s definitely as fun upon re-watching; though it moves kind of slow sometimes the second time around, these sections are followed by the most exciting scenes, so it brings you back up right after. Definitely worth checking out, but maybe only once.
Again, 7/10.

Movie March was definitely a rollercoaster! I’ve seen so many new films, rewatched a lot of favourites that I haven’t seen in a while, and really been able to take a look at my watching habits. Surprise, I watch a lot of stuff! But Movie March has encouraged me to watch more, and I’ll definitely be continuing that into April and throughout the rest of the year. I may even do a weekly round-up of everything I watched every week, so keep your eyes peeled! And as always, I’m open to suggestions for more movies to watch in the comments. Happy watching!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050419/mediaviewer/rm4119116544
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2771200/mediaviewer/rm2593665792
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4116284/mediaviewer/rm1143086592
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3813310/mediaviewer/rm2059790592
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3731562/mediaviewer/rm2730242816
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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386676/mediaviewer/rm4002334208

Movie March: Week Three

Movie March: Week Three

It’s been a bad week, guys. I’m sorry. For seven nights of potential movie watching, I only watched four. They were good movies, don’t get me wrong, but only four? I’ll do better next week, I promise. But on a positive note, this week Movie march became something a little bit different to me: starting this challenge I was using it to try and inspire myself to watch more movies, but instead I’ve found that it’s been a way for me to sort of analyse my watching habits, and start paying attention to not just how much I watch, but what I watch.

For example, it’s become pretty clear that I go through phases – I’m doing a long-form Marvel marathon, I’ve been watching a lot of Disney movies, and I’ve rekindled my love of Audrey Hepburn movies, so I’ll probably try and finish that box set too. I’ve also noticed that I seem to watch SOMETHING every day, whether it’s a movie, some TV, or especially YouTube, so I’ll talk a little about my favourite movie-related channels later too.

Long story short, they may not have always been movies, but I have watched something every day, so let me break it down for you:

15/3: Riverdale
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I wrote at length last week about how much I’m obsessed with Riverdale at the moment, and it’s not going away any time soon. The mystery is getting so much deeper, with new characters popping up left, right and centre that are only creating more and more suspects for this super complex murder conspiracy. But at the heart of it is this really great teen drama, too; there are some really sweet love stories brewing, great family tension being unravelled, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’ve also realised that’s why I like Riverdale so much: I’ve seen terrible versions of this type of show, with series like Pretty Little Liars really falling flat and becoming convoluted and cheesy, but Riverdale successfully weaves so many plotlines together, combines drama with humour and mystery, and gives us lovable characters that allow us to actually get invested in the story.  The next episode can’t come fast enough.
8/10.

16/3: Captain America: The First Avenger
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An actual movie! The original Captain America is by far the weakest of the three, and possibly one of the weakest of the whole franchise, only really serving to pave the way for the Avengers. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to love. This first movie sets up a beautiful character arc throughout the entire franchise: here we see Steve Rogers, military man, a soldier with such faith in the government that he is willing to sacrifice himself for it. This all changes as the franchise progresses, and Steve becomes more questioning and rebellious, but this movie sets him up as such a tragic character, a man lost in time, losing everyone he loves. It breaks my heart. Thankfully, we have Hayley Atwell and Tommy Lee Jones to inject a little fire and life into the story, and a fantastic villainous turn from Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, and a little insight into Bucky Barnes, a small character no one could have known would become so important.
7/10.

17/3: Aladdin
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Aladdin is easily my favourite Disney movie for many reasons, so watching it last week was a no brainer. I find Aladdin the most relatable of Disney characters: he’s not a prince, just a kid trying to get by, and his love for Jasmine is so sweet and pure that it warms my heart every time. But it’s his relationship with the Genie that steals the show: not only is this my favourite Robin Williams performance, but their friendship is so fun and caring, and takes the movie over the edge to become a classic. The music is brilliant, the animation is astounding, and Jafar as a villain is actually terrifying, and Aladdin is just such a fun romp that I’m so glad I re-watched.
8/10

18/3: The Office US
The Office - Season 9
I originally started this show just for Jim and Pam, but I stayed for everyone else. The Office totally lives up to its reputation as one of the best TV shows ever; the first season is a little forgettable, but by the end of season 2 I was hooked on all the characters, from Michael’s well-meaning buffoonery to Dwight’s antics, uptight Angela and the love-to-hate-him Ryan. Of course, Jim and Pam are still my favourite part of the show – their relationship is just so real, so heartfelt, and its brilliance didn’t stop once they finally got together. I cried all the way through their wedding. Even now in season eight, the show is still wonderful (not quite as good after Steve Carell left), and I can’t wait to see how it ends.
9/10.

19/3: The Lion King
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I’m sure I saw the Lion King a million times when I was a kid, but before Sunday night I hadn’t seen it in years and years, so much so that I’d forgotten how awesome it is. It’s not quite as light-hearted as I remembered, but it’s magnificent, from the score to the animation to the deep, soothing tones of James Earl Jones’ Mufasa. Of course, it was still lots of fun: the toe-tapping soundtrack is the best of any Disney movie to date (ever), and Timon and Pumbaa are possibly Disney’s best sidekicks as well, reminding me of why I saw this movie so much as a kid.
9/10.

20/3: Roman Holiday
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Audrey Hepburn movies have always been some of my favourite classic movies, and I like Roman Holiday best of them all. Watching Roman Holiday is like a fairy-tale: a princess (Hepburn) runs away from the demands of her royal life and explores one of the most romantic cities in the world with her handsome tour guide, American journalist Joe Bradley (the dashing Gregory Peck). Winning four Oscars, including Best Actress and Best Screenplay, Roman Holiday is like a dazzling daydream, all gorgeous scenery and sweet romance, but also has a lot of humour, as our two main characters hide their secret identities and cause trouble. Breakfast at Tiffany’s might be Audrey’s best-known film, but Roman Holiday will always be the best.
8/10.

21/3: YouTube
I don’t watch a wide variety of YouTube channels, but I still manage to watch a LOT of YouTube these days, and when I don’t have time to watch a movie, I tend to supplement with movie-related YouTube. For those who are interested in getting their fill of movie-Tube, I watch Screen Junkies and Screen Junkies News; the former is the channel that does Honest Trailers, which are some of the funniest videos on YouTube, but they also do a themed weekly Screen Junkies Show, and a long movie-debate show called Movie Fights (which I listen to as a podcast from iTunes). Screen Junkies News is run by the same people, but they do daily videos based on entertainment news, so on one day they could cover news about Disney, James Cameron and DC Comics, as well as a heap of reviews of new releases, with some great experts and interesting hosts and recurring guests. It’s just a great way to get insight on the latest news and see what other people are saying about the newest movies. Other than them, I also like people like Alicia Malone, a great YouTuber who loves Indie films, and SchmoesKnow, who do a great movie trivia contest.

Well, I hope I have better news to report next week on the last week of Movie March! Until then…

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5420376/mediaviewer/rm1410478592
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0458339/mediaviewer/rm3293165824
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103639/mediaviewer/rm175432960
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386676/mediaviewer/rm880518656
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110357/mediaviewer/rm3316497664
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046250/mediaviewer/rm4016740352

Movie March: Week Two

We’re halfway through Movie March, and Week Two has been interesting in that it hasn’t been all movies. In addition to some brilliant movies I watched this week, I also rewatched an episode of one of my favourite shows of all time, and the discovery of an addictively pulpy new show meant that my Sunday night was filled with teen drama. But this week was a wonderful mix of all kinds of entertainment, so let’s review my week in film!

8/3: Parks and Recreation


Last Wednesday was International Women’s Day, and I was feeling very inspired to watch some strong female characters kick ass and be amazing. So I thought, who better to watch than Leslie Knope? Parks and Recreation is one of my favourite shows of all time, Leslie Knope is such a role model, and the episode I picked, Win, Lose or Draw, is a real pivotal moment for her as a character: when she finally realises her dream of taking office and becomes a Councilwoman. I love her intellect, I love her humour, and I love her passion for her friends, town and government, and watching this episode reminded me of how much I love this series. 

9/10. 

9/3: Thor


After watching Iron Man 1 & 2 last week, I have decided to turn it into a long-running marathon, and Thor was the next movie on the list. Though not the best Marvel film, acting as a stepping stone to get the universe to the Avengers, Thor has some fantastic elements: Natalie Portman is a brilliant scientist and great love interest for Thor; Kat Dennings is such great comic relief as Darcy; Chris Hemsworth’s stunning transformation to become a literal god, and Marvel’s best villain to date in Loki, a spoiled, petulant brother who you still sympathise with. If you can get past all the crappy magical science jargon, Thor has some great moments and great heart. 

7/10. 

9/3: Batman Begins (review to come)


Oh yes. It finally happened. I finally watched Batman Begins. Much of my initial excitement came from the wealth of great facial hair in this instalment (Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe and Gary Oldman all sport fantastic moes), but when I really got into it, it blew me away. Christian Bale makes a fascinating Bruce Wayne, a great combo of tortured playboy, and his Batman wasn’t as goofy as I had been warned (though the voice got worse as it went on). Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Ghul was so menacing, the Scarecrow did actually scare the hell out of me, it was visually stunning, and the thing I loved the most was that everyone was giving a great performance. No one was phoning it in, there was great chemistry between almost everyone (though I can see why Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes in the next one), and the cast looks genuinely happy to be there, despite the film’s somber tone. It was just so refreshing to watch a good DC movie. 

10/3: Superbad


Hers my problem with Superbad: the first act is awesome. Starting off as a high school movie about two friends on the brink of graduation who are trying to get laid, Superbad is a very realistic depiction of high school, so hilarious, and the friendship between Jonah Hill and Michael Cera is awesome and almost John Hughes-esque. And then it becomes a cop movie, as their third-wheel friend Fogell gets taken under the wing of two inept cops. Even though I love Bill Hader and Seth Rogen as their characters, the film takes such an unexpected detour for someone who had no idea what it was about going in, that I was negatively surprised. In fairness, these scenes do have funny moments, but I personally wasn’t captured again until they reached the party, which felt much more like a culmination of the movie I wanted. It was definitely worth the watch, since it had me cracking up, it just wasn’t what I expected. 

6/10. 

11/3: Riverdale


This was my other television indulgence this week, which I took a chance with on Netflix and was completely captured. Riverdale is a loose adaptation of the Archie Comics Series, but takes these iconic characters and settings and tangles them up in a murder mystery, where this small town is in shock after the mysterious murder of Jason Blossom, captain of the football team. I’m currently five episodes in (Netflix is releasing episodes weekly), and at this point everyone is a suspect, hiding secrets of their own: Archie (KJ Apa) has something to hide after hooking up with his music teacher over the summer, Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) family is swimming in secrets after her sister Polly is sent away, new girl Veronica (Camila Mendes) is constantly in the shadow of her controversial father, and Jason’s twin sister Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is a straight up psycho. There’s lies, lust, love and danger, and Riverdale is so ridiculously addictive and mysterious, but also well-written, so it’s a well-deserved indulgence. 

8/10. 

12/3: Beauty and the Beast


With the live action Beauty and The Beast hit to theatres next week, I thought it fitting to watch the well-beloved original, which was such a good idea. Though not without faults, Belle is such a wonderful character, her love for reading and independence so inspiring, and she’s surrounded by a number of interesting supporting players. Gaston is so vile that I love to hate him, Lumiere, Cogsworth and co. are absolutely delightful, and the Beast manages to defy the weird connotations  of his capture of Belle so well that you really do love them as a couple in the end. Plus, Beauty and the Beast also has some of the best songs in all of Disney: Tale as Old as Time genuinely made me cry, and that scene is so beautiful that it made me even more excited for this new version. 

8/10. 

13/3: The Princess Bride


This is one of my favourite movies ever, and even though I say that about a lot of movies, I really mean it this time. Set with the most brilliant framing device of a grandfather reading a book to his grandson, the Princess Bride is about (as the grandfather so well puts it) “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, Giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”, all tied together with irreverent humour, loveable characters, and a great cameo from Billy Crystal. It’s quotable, it’s beautiful, it’s hysterical, and it’s just… INCONCEIVABLE!

9/10

With such a range of movies this week, who knows what films the next week will hold? If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below, and until next week, happy watching!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2235063/mediaviewer/rm1518711808

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800369/mediaviewer/rm2799616

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372784/mediaviewer/rm107917312

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0829482/mediaviewer/rm1510126336

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5420376/mediaviewer/rm2176400896

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101414/mediaviewer/rm1756475392

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/mediaviewer/rm3834676224

Movie March: Week One

In my quest to become a film critic, the most important thing I’ve found is this: keep watching movies. Whether they’re new releases, older movies you’ve never seen before, or a film you’ve seen a hundred times – just keep watching. Sometimes I find it difficult to motivate myself to watch more movies as often as I can (especially when there’s so much good TV out there at the moment), so I’ve decided to take up Movie March, where I have to watch a movie a day, any movie, and then after each week I’ll summarise them here. New releases count, and so do my old favourites, and hopefully I’ll get into a habit and watch a movie a day for the rest of the year! So to kick off Movie March, here are the last seven films I’ve watched:

1/3: Pushing Dead
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I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney last week, where I got to see one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in a long time, Pushing Dead. From first time director Tom E. Brown and starring Psych’s James Roday, Pushing Dead is about a man named Dan Schauble who, after receiving a $100 birthday check from his mother, isn’t eligible for his health cover and can’t afford his HIV medication. Roday’s deadpan, sarcastic sense of humour as Dan tries everything to raise the money and get back on his healthcare plan sheds a light on what life is really like with HIV in a world where no-one wants to talk about it, and Brown’s simple yet witty and powerful script makes great use of a manic supporting cast: Danny Glover, Robin Weigart and Tom Riley, just to name a few. I can’t recommend this movie highly enough, with its big belly laugh-antics of Paula, sweet moments as Dan falls in love, and subtle but brilliant ending making it one of my best cinema-going experiences of the year so far.
9/10.

2/3: The Impossible
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I saw this film when it was released back in 2012, and all I can remember is crying the entire way through it. Even though I didn’t cry as much this time, The Impossible is such an emotionally devastating movie, a real-life story based on a family who was separated during the 2004 tsunami in Thailand and tries to find their way back to each other. Naomi Watts is a powerhouse as injured mum Maria, the epitome of struggle and strength as she leads her eldest son Lucas (a young and wonderful Tom Holland) to shelter, and Ewan McGregor’s devoted Dad Henry will stop at nothing to find all of his kids and his wife, searching every hospital in the area in the hopes of reuniting his family. Though director J. A. Bayona’s shots of a devastated Thailand are enough to make your heart sit in your throat, this family’s mission to find each other will catch your breath and sicken your stomach at times, before finally bringing those tears at the very end.
8/10.

3/3: Logan (review to come)
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Oh hell yes, Logan was awesome. This is Hugh Jackman’s ninth and final outing as the Wolverine in a film that truly does the character justice, a gratuitous, bloody, crude affair that sees Logan trek across the country with a debilitated Charles (a very grizzly Patrick Stewart) and a mysterious young girl who has special ties to Logan through her mutant powers, Laura (Dafne Keen). More of a Western than a superhero film, Logan puts the characters and the story first, telling a story of redemption and debilitation, and most importantly, family. But it also has enough headshots and ripped throats to satisfy the hard-core superhero fan, finally allowing Logan to stay true to the comics and be as violent and vulgar as he likes, and ultimately tells a satisfying and heart-wrenching story that is a true send-off for Jackman, and a film that X-Men fans like myself truly deserve.

9/10

4/3: Jasper Jones (review to come)
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Adapted from the book that’s a classic for high school English students, Jasper Jones tells the story of Charlie Bucktin and the titular Jasper, who find a girl hanged by the river and go on a journey to find out who’s responsible. A classic Australian 1960s whodunnit, Jasper Jones’ strength is ultimately in its recreation of Australian life in the 1960s and its strong coming-of-age themes, leaving the mystery a little undeveloped, seemingly coming out of nowhere towards the end. However, great performances from a star-studded supporting cast of Hugo Weaving as Mad Jack Lionel and Toni Colette as Ruth Bucktin elevate the mediocre mystery to a well-rounded drama, and a shocking ending makes you leave the film on a high.
7/10.

5/3: Iron Man
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Full disclosure, since this is my space: I’d never seen Iron Man before this weekend. But now I have, so don’t lynch me. And it was awesome! The humour was typical of the billionaire-Playboy-philanthropist that I’ve come to love in the other MCU films I know and love, but the serious Middle-Eastern war setting for most of the movie was quite unexpected to me, mixing surprisingly well with the light-hearted tone of its main character. This movie makes me realise why Tony Star is the star of the MU, since Robert Downey Jr. gives such a brilliant performance, not just commanding the screen but allowing Tony to be complex, and occasionally quiet, too. The AC/DC was amazing, Jon Favreau’s direction was superb, Terrence Howard was really fun as Rhodey, and it was just a masterpiece. Now I know what I’ve been missing out on, and I’m sorry.
9/10.

6/3: Iron Man 2
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I was on a roll, and figured, why stop now? Iron Man 2 was obviously not as good as the original, with pacing issues and some cringe-worthy moments, but its development of the MCU cannot be underestimated, giving Nick Fury a bigger role and introducing us to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. Even though she wasn’t well developed, her bad-assery cannot be denied, and the action climax towards the end was fun and exciting. But Tony’s character development was the most interesting part to me; his complex relationship with his father and the decline of his arc reactor affecting his health made for a very multi-faceted performance from Downey Jr., who always rises to the occasion, surrounded by a wonderful cast who push him to breaking point, including a memorable villain from Sam Rockwell, an interesting foil in that he’s so similar to Tony. This made the film’s character conflict the highlight, which always makes a superhero movie stand out for me.
7/10.

7/3: Bridge of Spies
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I’ve been putting off watching this for so long, and now I don’t know why I didn’t. Tom Hanks is one of my absolute favourite actors, always bringing both emotion and a little bit of fun to every role he plays, and his New York attorney James Donovan who becomes embroiled in a Cold-War spy exchange is such a whole, human character, flawed but loving and driven to do the right thing. Even though Mark Rylance, in his Oscar-winning turn as Rudolf Abel, the captured and accused Russian spy, steals the show in many of his scenes through his seemingly carefree nature, this is truly Hanks’ film, aided by a gripping script by the Coen Brothers and epic direction by Steven Spielberg, as he braves East Berlin to bring not one, but two captured Americans home. Starting off slow, Bridge of Spies will take your breath in the final act, hoping everything will be okay, and definitely does not disappoint in its heart-warming final scenes.
8/10.

Well there you have it, my week in film! These weekly round-up posts will go up every week in March, as I watch more films and tell you why I love them. If you have a film that you love and would love me to watch, let me know in the comments and I’ll definitely give them a go!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3682448/mediaviewer/rm2013522944
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5091014/mediaviewer/rm4243525120
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1649419/mediaviewer/rm1648732928
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371746/mediaviewer/rm957647872
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4572984/mediaviewer/rm2077627904
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1228705/mediaviewer/rm3447819520
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315342/mediaviewer/rm2050175488