Movie Snacks: A Definitive Guide

I am a snacker. I like to snack when I study, read, travel, and, most importantly, when I watch movies. Sometimes I want to go to the movies just because I’m craving good popcorn. Of course, not every movie snack is created equal, and most of the time, theatre-bought snacks are very expensive, but they are still an essential element of movie-going. So, below I have created a guide for every occasion at the movies, once and for all deciding which snacks are the Best of the Best:

Popcorn (AKA The Classic):
Popcorn has been a staple of movie theatres since the 1920s, when silent films became talkies and going to the theatre was much more of a crowd experience than an outing for the wealthy, and has become synonymous with the cinema since. Despite being the best, and most iconic, choice, popcorn is often really expensive to buy from the big chain movie theatres, and they usually bulk it up with so much salt and butter that you need a drink, too. I tend only to buy popcorn at my local or smaller cinemas, where tickets are cheap enough that food is affordable (and those cinemas, like my local, tend to make THE BEST popcorn, too!). But sometimes movies just aren’t right without a fistful of popcorn.
Pair with: Popcorn is great on its own, but reaches next level greatness when paired with almost any chocolate (see below).

Maltesers (AKA The Whiplash Trick):
Though MnMs are superior on a day-to-day scale, Maltesers are the best chocolate to eat at the movies because they pair best with popcorn. Recently made infamous by the film Whiplash, I’ve been pouring my Maltesers into my popcorn bucket since before I was in high school, but apparently this isn’t a common thing? Get it together, people! Consider this a Public Service Announcement: popcorn salt and butter on a Malteser is a heavenly combination, and once you try it, you’ll be wishing you’d known about it sooner. Plus, they’re pretty great on their own.
Pair with: Popcorn, for the ultimate experience.

Sour Patch Kids (AKA The ‘Only At The Movies’ Treat):
For all the lollies you could eat at the movies, these are the best choice because I tend to only buy them when I’m going to the movies. When I was a kid, the cinema would always advertise the candy bar with the slogan ‘no one can see you in the dark’, so when else do you have the opportunity to eat a whole bag of sour patch kids in public? You’d probably never want to do it anywhere else; just go for it.
Pair with: A drink, because God knows you’ll need one.

Choc Top (AKA The Old Favourite):
I don’t know if everyone around the world has these, but choc tops are a quintessential part of Australian cinema-going. It’s just a pre-packed ice cream cone with a hard chocolate coating, but what makes it so special is that you can really only buy them at the movies (the best ones, at least). Plus, one of the best parts is that sometimes you can forget they exist, and your first choc top after a few years without is like returning home.
Pair with: I was at the movies once and saw this unbelievable trick: a guy dipped his choc top IN HIS POPCORN. Ice cream and popcorn. This man deserves a Nobel Prize. I am yet to try it, but that’s some next level snacking.

Drinks at the Movies (AKA Tough Choice):
Though most will insist on giant soft drinks from the candy bar, many other drinks offer a variety of different movie-going experiences. Coffee (hot or otherwise) is always an interesting idea when seeing a slower movie (AKA How I Sat Through The Revenant), and if your local cinema offers cups of tea, I highly recommend ordering one at least once for a cosier viewing. And for fancier sessions, like deluxe sessions or one-off screenings, never say no if they offer you drinks on arrival (unless you’re underage, of course). Champagne at the movies is the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like royalty.

What are your favourite movie snacks? Is there anything I need to try? Let me know in the comments!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Top Five: Matthew Vaughn

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There are many directors I admire – Steven Spielberg, Denis Villeneuve, Ridley Scott – but probably my absolute favourite is Matthew Vaughn. Though not quite so prolific as the aforementioned names, Matthew Vaughn has been a strong stylistic voice on the scene since the 90s, forming a strong relationship with Guy Ritchie as a recurring producer before forging his own path as a director. I’ve seen all of his films, which isn’t exactly a mean feat – there’s only five of them – but each of them have a very individual genre and tone, whilst still obviously part of one filmmaker’s specific canon. From fairy-tales to crime films, superheroes and spies, all of Matthew Vaughn’s might be adaptations of graphic novels or books; but all have such a creative take on the source material and genre features that it feels like specifically his vision, which is why I love them so much. You never know what he’s going to take on next.

Except we do: his next film is a sequel to his most recent outing, Kingsman: The Secret Service, but even his interviews on the film suggest an entirely different film, focusing on Americana as a theme rather than class relations. So, as an appreciation post for one of my favourite filmmakers, as well as a channel for my excitement for his next film, here is my top five favourite films directed by Matthew Vaughn (in order of release):

  1. Layer Cake (2004) (AKA His First):

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Layer Cake was Vaughn’s directorial debut, establishing a style which really put him on the map: a hyper-violent, oh-so-cool London lad film about a middle man on the drug-ring scene, played by Daniel Craig, who is just about to retire comfortably when his last job gets very messy. Layer Cake allowed Vaughn to showcase his filmic roots in a film that, while reflecting his collaboration with Guy Ritchie, with its brash British characters and gritty tone, was inventive in that it placed entirely new characters in a crime film, such as the middle class XXXX (Daniel Craig’s character in the film is unnamed, which is so much fun). Whilst not my favourite Matthew Vaughn movie (crime movies are not my forte), the large, brilliant cast, including Sienna Miller, George Harris and Michael Gambon, highlights the faith the film industry had in this first time director.

  1. Stardust (2007) (AKA My Guilty Pleasure)

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Maybe it’s the pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox with pirate hair, or a campy Robert De Niro, a long-haired Mark Strong, or just a love of fairy-tales, but Stardust is one of my absolute favourite films, and very high on the list of Vaughn films for me. Adapted from the Neil Gaiman book of the same name, Stardust is about a poor boy named Tristan (Charlie Cox) from the small town of Wall who, in order to win the affection of his crush Victoria (Sienna Miller), ventures over the fence into a magical neighbouring town to collect a fallen star, who appears in the form of Yvaine (Claire Danes). As they trek back home, they encounter all sorts of obstacles and villains, such as Prince Septimus (Mark Strong) and the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), and new friends too, and it’s all narrated so wonderfully by Ian McKellen that I can’t help but be enchanted every time. Even though it’s ridiculously cheesy and very camp, I fall in love every time I watch it; it’s full of great little cameos, fun scenes, and an incredibly heart-warming will-they-won’t-they love story, and you can really see the world-building that both Gaiman and Vaughn have contributed to, since the fairy-tale itself stands up quite well. It may be Vaughn’s least-known movie, but it holds a special place in my heart.

  1. Kick-Ass (2010) (AKA Everyone’s Favourite)

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When I was in high school, my friends would not shut up about Kick-Ass! And when I finally watched it, many years too late, I completely realised why: it does what Matthew Vaughn does best by taking genre tropes, in this case superhero tropes, and uses them lovingly, whilst also making them baudy and sending them up. In this case, bored, comic-reading teenager Dave Lizewski (a fresh-faced Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decides to become the superhero Kick-Ass after a car accident leaves him with the inability to feel pain, catching the attention of crime boss Frank D’Amico (a barely recognisable Mark Strong) and two other superheroes, daddy-daughter duo Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz). It’s big, and bold, and incredibly funny, creating careers for Taylor-Johnson and Moretz as well as revitalising Cage’s, and in the beginning of an age of superhero films, it managed to be a precursor to the lower budget superhero movies that are making a comeback (Chronicle, even Deadpool), focusing on story and characters instead of meeting marks. Its sequel might not hold up, but that’s not directed by Vaughn, and Kick-Ass works so well on its own.

  1. X-Men: First Class (2011) (AKA My First)

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Even my favourite X-Men film is a Matthew Vaughn movie! X-Men: First Class not only started my love of Matthew Vaughn movies, but it started my love and interest of the X-Men franchise, and superhero movies as a whole genre. This prequel to the original X-trilogy, which sees a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) discovering their powers and meeting for the first time in the 1960s, is very much a departure from his regular, almost parody-like genre films, but is still so reflective of his own visual tone – strong 60s style, star-studded cast (albeit American this time), and a story that focuses on the characters’ relationships, not their battle scenes. Though he’d firs been tapped to direct X-Men: The Last Stand, no-one could have saved that sinking ship, and First Class was the perfect vehicle that allowed Vaughn to work on even bigger projects, like his next one, which is my absolute favourite.

  1. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) (AKA My Love)

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There is not a single thing I don’t like about this movie. For those of you reading this who have ever suffered a conversation with me about this film, please forgive me, but this is the part where I sing the praises of one of my favourite movies ever. A classic tale of working class man becomes upper class gentleman, Kingsman tells the story of Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton), a young man who is taken under the wing of gentleman spy Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and joins the secret spy agency Kingsman, just as tech billionaire Richmond Valentine (a lispy Samuel L. Jackson), whose radical environmental beliefs are much, much more sinister than they seem, sets his plan into action. Kingsman pays homage to the over-the-top classic spy movies of the 60s with its larger than life villain, crazy technology and gentlemanly affairs, whilst also forging its own path entirely, using its filthy humour, outrageous violence and great mixture of talented veterans and exciting newcomers to set itself apart and make it one of the most loved and successful films of 2015, especially for a heavily rated film. I love the cast; I love the soundtrack; I love the themes; the story, the humour, and even the gory action. It is peak Matthew Vaughn, and I love it.

If you haven’t seen a Matthew Vaughn film, please do! I would recommend any of these films feverishly, because, if nothing else, you’re going to have a seriously fun two hours. And if you’ve seen these films, tell me what your favourite is in the comments!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0891216/mediaviewer/rm209816832
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375912/mediaviewer/rm414679296
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486655/mediaviewer/rm1031900416
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1250777/mediaviewer/rm2146077952
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Two Years of In Film, As In Life!


Two years ago, I was a first year university student with no idea. With very little background knowledge and no idea how to achieve it, I dreamed of being a film critic, driven by my passion for film and my keen interest in reading about them. So when my best friend told me about how she’d started a blog, I thought, I could do that! And thus, my passion project and love for the last two years was started in the form of In Film, As In Life.

In Film, As In Life changed my own life from then: it inspired me to watch more films, both in cinema and on DVD; it allowed me to develop my own opinions and ideas about movies, and taught me how to express them; it also encouraged me to have faith in my own opinions about film (just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong). It even gave me the opportunity to do internships with magazines I admire and love; I even got to write for Empire Magazine, my original inspiration for becoming a film critic, and I’m still working for FilmInk, a movie magazine which pushes my love of indie cinema. And don’t get me wrong, not all of my reviews of been perfect or flawless or even well-written – I cringe reading back my older reviews – but it’s all been a learning process, and boy, have I learned a few things. 

But one of the most surprising things I’ve learned is that some people actually read my reviews, people I know, and people I don’t. I would do this even if nobody was reading (and not many people, if any at all, were reading for a very long time), but one of the wonderful things this blog has allowed me to do is interact with people who love movies just as much as I do. I feel a sense of pride every time I press post on a new review, but that’s nothing in comparison to the excitement I get reading comments and interacting with this community. So to all you readers out there, thank you. 

While I’m here, I may as well thank a few more people (since this is already a very indulgent personal post): thank you to everyone who reads these posts, I love hearing your thoughts and talking to you about my favourite things. Thank you to my friends who put up with my writer’s block, who read through my reviews and help me keep going. Thank you to my family, who have always given me constructive criticism and pushed me to do my best, and thank you to all of my friends who go to the movies with me; you make every cinema trip so much more fun. 

But the most important acknowledgement here is all the movies I’ve seen over the last two years. This website has inspired me to watch as many things as I can, and I have seen well over a hundred films in the last two years at the movies alone, and infinitely more DVDs. While not all of those movies have been good, I have enjoyed going to see each and every one, all for different reasons. Some made me laugh, many made me cry, a lot made me think, and they were all such different viewing experiences that they were all worth the money (sometimes, my mum makes me tally up how much money I’ve spent on DVDs or movie tickets; I’m always more impressed than depressed). 

So to celebrate the last two wonderful, fascinating, exciting years, I want to share with you my five favourite movie-related experiences from the last two years: they may not have all been 5 star films, but I had the most amazing time. So here is my celebratory top five:

1. Mad Max: Fury Road – In Conversation
After the phenomenon that was Mad Max: Fury Road, my friends and I scored tickets to a panel with George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris, who shared concept art, videos and storyboards of the mind-blowing film. It was so interesting to get their insight into the deep themes of the film; an action blockbuster on the surface, the feminist themes and human values were fascinating in discussion with some of Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers. 

2. The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood

In 2015 I was lucky enough to be able to visit the US and spend a fabulous day in Hollywood, soaking in the sunshine and the history of Tinseltown. I saw the Dolby Theatre and all its Oscar history (they have columns engraved with the names of each of the Best Picture winners dating back to the 1920s!!); I got to see some of my favourite names, Julie Andrews and Harrison Ford on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and then got to measure my hands against my heroes at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Tom Hanks, RDJ, Gregory Peck, Marilyn Monroe, and the brilliant Robin Williams, it was a pretty inspiring place, topped off with lunch at the Hard Rock. It was only one day, but it made the whole trip. 

3. Star Wars: the Force Awakens, in Midnight Release

For the first Star Wars release in over ten years, my friends and I ventured to our local cinema to bask in the neediness and fandom that is a Star Wars midnight release. The adrenaline was pumping late at night, the lines were full of people dressed as stormtroopers, Jedi and Darth Vader, and even with all that coolness, nothing compared to the excitement of seeing that opening crawl for the very first time. A perfect night for a great film. 

4. Spotlight and Deadpool: Double Movie Day 

With my great movie friend Sam, we embarked on a mission of epic proportions: two movies, one amazing day. We started with Spotlight early in the morning, and its deep, emotional themes moved us before we got to cleanse our palettes with one of the biggest comedies of 2016 – Deadpool. They were surprisingly complimentary films, one to make you think and one to follow as an upper, and we’ve been trying to one-up ourselves ever since. 

5. The Founder – My First Press Screening 

My first glamorous introduction into the wonderful world of film criticism, I ventured into the city to see Michael Keaton’s the Founder in a private screening. Signing embargoes, checking my phone at the door; my friend Marina and I drank in the corporate atmosphere before walking all the way back to the office (a longer walk than imaginable), stopping only for dumplings on the way. 

Happy Two Years for In Film, As In Life, and here’s to many more! 

Talk soon, 

Jessica x

My 100th Blog Post!!!

100 posts! It’s hard to believe I’ve written so many posts, but then again, it feels like a thousand. This blog began as an outlet for me to be able to share my work with my friends, and eventually, the world; to think I’ve complained about, criticised, and praised so many different films, shared so many of my opinions and thoughts on movies, and spent so much time working on all of these different posts is astonishing. But the craziest part is that they actually get read by people, so to whomever it is that’s out there reading this, thank you. I truly appreciate it.

But to be honest, I would still do this without people reading it, and I did for a long time, too, and that’s because I really love movies, and I really love this blog. I think about both of them every day, constantly, prattle on about them to whoever will listen, and don’t think I will ever stop doing that.

With the two year anniversary of this blog coming up (two years! I can’t believe it), I thought I’d save the big memory-fest for that post instead, so for my 100th blog post I thought I’d focus on my two big loves, movies and lists. Two commemorate my 100th blog post, here is my top ten favourite films of all time:

(Disclaimer: I have dozens of favourite films. I’d challenge anyone to pick the one favourite movie of all time they have. This top ten focuses mainly on the important stuff, like making me feel all good inside, re-watchability, memories and favourite characters. Okay. Enjoy!)

  1. Kingsman: The Secret Service
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    It’s a newer film, but when it came out I saw it three times in the cinemas. I bought it for my birthday, and watched it on my birthday. I just love it. Following a gentleman spy named Harry Hart (Colin Firth) who takes a working class man, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), under his wing, Kingsman has heaps of humour, action and great performances that never fail to make me smile and make a bad day good again.
  2. The Holiday
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    The Holiday is one of my absolute favourite Kate Winslet movies, and certainly one of my favourite movies of all time, about a Hollywood editor and a newspaper reporter who swap homes for the holidays after their love-lives get turned upside down. It sounds cheesy, and it is, which is why I don’t particularly like Cameron Diaz’s character in it, but everyone else is fantastic: Kate Winslet and Jack Black have such wonderful, sweet and comedic chemistry together, and Jude Law is wonderful romantic and heartfelt. And my favourite character, Arthur (played by the brilliant Eli Wallach), a retired Hollywood screenwriter, provides some moments and quotes that get me every time, reminding us to be the leading character in our own lives.
  3. Aladdin
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    A Disney classic, Aladdin captures my heart for two reasons. The first is because he is the most relatable character; he’s not royalty, but he’s in love, and he doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for the person he’s in love with or the things that he wants. He only figures out that the best way to connect with Jasmine is being himself through the Genie, which is the second reason I love this movie. Robin Williams is an icon to me, I love everything he did, and the Genie is probably his most Robin Williams role ever, so full of life and pop culture and fun, that re-watching Aladdin is like sitting down with an old friend.
  4. The Princess Bride
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    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” The Princess Bride is one of those movies that is so memorable and quotable, that you feel like you’ve seen it a hundred times when you’ve only seen it a few, but in the best possible way. The story of Buttercup, Wesley and their friends is so dear to me because it has everything a movie could want: it’s a romance and an action film, with the quirkiest, most lovable sense of humour I’ve ever encountered, so much so that the framing device of the grandfather reading the story to his grandson is actually one of my favourite parts of the movie. The Princess Bride is one of my “Twoo wuv”s of cinema.
  5. Toy Story 2
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    One of the strongest memories I have from my childhood is the Toy Story 2 PC game. There was checkers with Woody’s critters, a luggage jumping game, and a Frogger-esque game where you had to navigate Buzz and co. across the highway. When watching the movie, however, my nostalgia changes: Toy Story 2’s ideas of leaving our toys behind and growing up hits me so hard every time, I cry just hearing the song from Jessie’s flashback. But it also has so many jokes, like Empire Strikes Back references galore and toy store jokes, and it’s just such a wonderful, well-rounded, heartfelt sequel that really elevates the franchise and makes you feel everything.
  6. X-Men: First Class
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    This movie is actually one of the first movies that really made me passionate about movies. The X-Men franchise is one of my favourite series, and First Class, directed by my favourite director Matthew Vaughn, is one of the best X-movies, a great combination of fantastic cast, sharp story and quick action. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender give Charles and Erik such an interesting relationship, and Vaughn really makes use of his talented cast and setting, giving it depth but also having fun with it. Of all superhero movies, this is the one I love the most.
  7. Roman Holiday
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    I haven’t seen very many, but I love classic movies, and I love Audrey Hepburn movies best of all. Roman Holiday was her first headlining role as Princess Ann, a bored Royal visiting Rome who escapes from palace life for the day with Joe Bradley, an American journalist played by Gregory Peck. Even though it’s in black and white, Rome absolutely shines in this charming film about friendship and duty, and the chemistry between Hepburn and Peck (and, indeed, Eddie Albert, who third wheels as Joe’s photographer friend Irving for most of the film) is delightful, with a beautiful score serenading them on top. But despite all it’s brilliance, Audrey Hepburn is still the best part, sweet and funny and heartbreaking, and it’s her Oscar winning role. Roman Holiday makes any day better.
  8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
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    I grew up on three movie series: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Pirates of the Caribbbean. The first two series make up the next two slots, but one of my favourite movies of all time is Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. I always loved the sword-fighting and swashbuckling, Geoffrey Rush scared the hell out of me as a kid, and I was so in love with Orlando Bloom as a child (is that creepy? You decide). But rewatching it as an adult, the film has a really enjoyable and original story, awesome action, and such lovable characters, with Johnny Depp’s iconic staggering Jack Sparrow and great chemistry between Bloom and Keira Knightley. I am well overdue for a re-watch of this movie, but I will always love it.
  9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
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    All three original Indiana Jones films (we don’t talk about the fourth) are masterpieces, but of the three, The Last Crusade has always been my favourite. I don’t know why young me chose to love the one with the snakes and rats, but that must speak volumes about the tight story and great relationship between Indy and his dad (my favourite Sean Connery role), that I would overlook such horrifying scenes. The Last Crusade was the basis for my love of Ancient History, and of Harrison Ford, who is more iconic as Indiana than Han for me, and the fun action and story always makes me to watch it whenever it’s on TV, which is often.
  10. Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope
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    Last year I did a whole series of reviews of each Star Wars movie, and every time I re-watch the series, A New Hope is by far my favourite. There’s something about Lucas building his world for the first time that always captures my imagination: Old Ben is telling Luke stories about the Old Republic, the trash compacter scene, Leia’s classic one-liners, Han shooting first in the Cantina… I could go on and on about how much I love A New Hope, because there isn’t a scene I don’t love, a line I can’t quote, a character that doesn’t excite me. The Empire Strikes Back may be perfect, but A New Hope is perfect to me.

There are so many movies I had to leave off this list that I could honestly write about another twenty films and still be nowhere near done, but the movies listed above are a quintessential list of films that never fail to brighten my day and get me excited.

What are some of your favourite movies? Let me know in the comments, and if I haven’t seen them, they’ll be next on my watchlist!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2802144/mediaviewer/rm214302720
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457939/mediaviewer/rm3696138496
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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/mediaviewer/rm3834676224
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120363/mediaviewer/rm4046227712
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1270798/mediaviewer/rm3898784000
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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0325980/mediaviewer/rm1788653568
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097576/mediaviewer/rm1920519168
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Six Most Exciting Films of 2017

Happy New Year everybody! Whilst many of us are mostly just glad to put 2016 behind us, I absolutely cannot wait for 2017 to swing into gear: not only will I have my degree by the end of the year and *hopefully* pursuing a career in film criticism, but there are so many fantastic movies that I can’t wait to see! I’m hoping to delve a little bit more into the indie movie world a bit this year, as well as expand my repertoire of classic film (not to mention finally finish that Watchlist I made almost two years ago), but there are some giant films coming out this year that have had my attention since I first discovered they were in production.

Now, here I would normally do my Top Five list, but there were so many movies I’m just itching to see that I had to expand it to a Top Six. So, here’s my Top Six Most Exciting Films of 2017, in order of release dates:

  1. Wonder Woman (ETA June 2nd)

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After DC’s shocking year last year, a lot of people are losing their faith in what used to be the biggest names in superhero films, but all of that could change with Wonder Woman. In what seems to be an origins story with a modern day framing device, this movie will follow Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince as she leaves the Amazonians to fight in the war to end all wars. Wonder Woman was easily the best part of Batman v. Superman, and this trailer looks super badass, complete with Amazonian drums and the epic theme we experienced during BvS, but the best part is Gal Gadot, who both looks the part and has such a presence that this film is bound to make her shine. With a female director behind the camera, here’s hoping she’s given the opportunity to dominate like she deserves.

  1. Spider-Man: Homecoming (ETA July 7th)

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I’ve made no secret here on this website: Spider-Man is my favourite superhero ever, and Tom Holland’s debut as the teenage webslinger in Captain America: Civil War was a highlight of last year in film for me, combining the youthful awkwardness of Peter Parker and the cocky quipping that so defines Spider-Man in a way that we’ve never seen before. When that teaser trailer was dropped announcing the full trailer last month, I practically lived on Twitter waiting for it to come out, and it didn’t disappoint. With a brief glimpse of Michael Keaton’s The Vulture, and an even larger role from Tony Stark than expected, Jon Watts’ take on Spidey seems very John Hughes-esque in the best possible way, a true coming of age story for a 15 year old who’s just fought with the Avengers. Your typical teenage stuff.

  1. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (ETA October 6th)

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Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of my favourite movies of 2015, a brilliant fresh take on a tired trope that not only invigorated the spy-genre, but gave us yet another great performance from Colin Firth, launched talented newcomer Taron Egerton’s career, and cemented Matthew Vaughn as my favourite director. When I heard there was going to be a sequel, I flipped. But since then there’s been barely any information shared – all we know is that the film will involve the American Statesmen, bringing Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Julianne Moree among others into the cast; Mark Strong and Taron Egerton will return, and (somehow) Colin Firth’s Harry Hart, who infamously died halfway through the film, will be returning, teased in a cryptic image posted on social media (see above). Plus, Matthew Vaughn will once again be in the director’s chair, the first true sequel he’s ever made, so all signs point to a fantastic film.

  1. Blade Runner 2049 (ETA October 6th)

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Let me take you back to my final year of high school, when I, a not even 18 yet, was given the opportunity to study the original Blade Runner. Never have I ever been so lucky to have been introduced to a film that, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have seen. It’s one of my favourite sci-fi films, and easily my favourite Ridley Scott movie, a brilliant exploration of what it means to be human, full of fantastic performances. Blade Runner 2049 was one of those sequels that, upon announcement, I dreaded – how dare they destroy such a perfect movie? But each piece of information we’ve received about it since then – the fact that Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario) is directing, Harrison Ford is returning, Ryan Gosling will be playing an interesting new role – has piqued my interest further and further, and when that trailer dropped a few weeks ago it shot to one of my most anticipated films of the year. For me, it doesn’t even have to do something similar to Blade Runner; if it’s just as interesting in a completely different way, I’ll be satisfying.

  1. Thor: Ragnarok (ETA November 3rd)

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Why would I choose Thor 3 over Guardians 2, I hear the internet roar? Two words: Taika Waititi. One of my favourite local directors, Waititi has directed some of my favourite films, including What We Do In The Shadows and last year’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Apart from working on the script for Moana, this will be Waititi’s first big Hollywood film, and since he’s got some local talent to work with too – Hemsworth, obviously, plus Sam Neill is rumoured to be making a cameo in the film – this is his chance to really show off his irreverent humour and talent to the world on a much larger scale. Even from the little Comic-Con feature following Thor and what he’s been up to since Avengers 2, his humour is on show and on point – if Thor 3 is even half as funny, it’ll be a success in my books.

  1. Star Wars Episode VIII (ETA December 15th)

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How could I make a list like this one without adding any Star Wars? After the Force Awakens so brilliantly returned us to a galaxy far, far away, we were left with so many questions: is Finn okay? Who are the Knights of Ren? Who was Rey waiting for on Jakku? And what in the hell has Luke Skywalker been up to? Literally nothing is known about the film – there aren’t any set photos on IMDb, no plot, not even a definitive title – and the next few months are going to be full of firsts for the film, with a teaser trailer hopefully dropping in the next few months. And, with Looper’s Rian Johnson at the helm, we seem to be in great hands for Star Wars to make it dramatic return next summer.

There are so many other films I could have put on this list: The Space Between Us, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Circle, the list goes on. But I’m most excited for the ones I haven’t even heard of yet, where I’ll enter the theatre unassumingly and leave a new person.

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/mediaviewer/rm1511143936
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4649466/mediaviewer/rm3954187264
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2250912/mediaviewer/rm3938925312
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451279/mediaviewer/rm283327232
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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3501632/mediaviewer/rm1510476032

2016 – A Year in Film

Full of ups and downs, 2016 has somehow managed to be an even bigger year than the last. Despite its fair share of sadness, including the tragic loss of some of our most iconic childhood characters, 2016 in film has been a pretty good year on this end. I had the fantastic opportunity to intern with not one, but two of my favourite publications in the film world, and got to tick off my bucket list some amazing firsts, like getting published in my favourite magazine! I also managed the seemingly impossible task of seeing 50 movies in cinemas this year, plus countless ones at home, and I definitely feel like I’ve grown in my love and knowledge of film.

I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings me in the movie world, what knowledge I’ll learn and what fantastic films we’ll all get to experience, but before we look forward, let’s take a look back at the films of 2016. There were certainly a lot of busts, some movies that didn’t meet expectations or just sucked in general, but tonight’s not about them. It’s about the brilliant, the ones that moved us, made us laugh, and got us extremely excited. To celebrate the year that was, here’s my top five favourite films of 2016:

  1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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This film has made pretty much all of my top five lists this year, and that’s because my love for this film is endless. I notoriously don’t like Australian film, but New Zealand film is one of my new favourite loves, and all because of one man: Taika Waititi. His entire back catalogue is brilliant, but this one film, about foster kid Ricky (Julian Dennison) and his Uncle Hec (Sam Neill) going bush to avoid being caught by bumbling child services officer Paula, is his best work, equal parts funny and touching. Sam Neill is utterly enjoyable as he navigates his way around firecracker Dennison, and their experiences with crazy bush men and haikus will keep you laughing for hours. But the little moments, as Ricky recalls his days as a foster kid and Hec mourns his lost family, are just as brilliant, testing its talented cast and drawing you in all the more. It’s an absolute joy of a film (plus I saw it on my birthday, so bonus points), and one of the highlights of my year.

2. Captain America: Civil War

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As a massive Marvel fan, the build up to this movie for me was so intense: not only was it the Russo Brothers’ return to the studio after the smash hit of Winter Soldier, but it also heralded the debut of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, and the first ever Spider-Man (AKA my favourite superhero) appearance in the MCU. It had a lot of expectations to match, and it did that and more. Not only did we get brilliant characters, who all got the perfect amount of screen time, and the best Spider-Man performance to date by the wonderful Tom Holland, but we also got a tense political and family drama in Steve Rogers’ battles with Tony Stark. As they warred over which path to take the Avengers next, lines were drawn and crossed, but the most important thing this movie did? It made you wonder how the MCU will ever be the same.

3. Kubo and the Two Strings

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It astounds and saddens me how few people saw this film, but then again, I got to see it, and for that I am grateful. In a year of reboots, sequels and adaptations, Kubo was fresh and original, a beautifully simple tale about a young boy with mystical powers who sets off to find his father’s suit of armour and finish his ancient quest. Laika Studio’s stunning stop-motion animation added another layer to this already magical fairy-tale, as Kubo meets new friends and old enemies on his road through his family’s history, but despite its animation, Kubo is more than just a kid’s movie. It’s actually haunting, full of ghosts and the supernatural, and this blend of the pure and the scary added depth to the film’s opposing forces. With an unforgettable shamisen soundtrack, Kubo is wondrous, each moment deserving to be savoured.

4. Arrival

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Oh, man. Arrival was absolutely breathtaking. Amy Adams is brilliantly flawed as Dr Louise Banks, a linguist who is recruited by the military to create a new language after 12 alien vessels land across the Earth. Denis Villeneuve is a visionary, armed with a powerful script that explores human interaction and our severe distrust of each other, and from this he gives us stunning visuals, stark glass and cloudy ink, creating life right before our very eyes in the most poetic way. And yet the highlight of the film is still Amy Adams; her Louise is strong but scared, smart but selfish, and it is her ultimate sacrifice and act of courage that gives the film its heartbreaking twist, leaving the audience thinking about the powerful story for days after. Blade Runner 2049 could be in no better hands then Villeneuve’s.

5. La La Land

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My final film in theatres for 2016, La La Land was hyped for me to the point of near disbelief – the craziest thing is that it still exceeded expectations. As we follow aspiring actress Mia and jazz pianist Sebastian as they fall in love and try to find their place in Hollywood, we are treated to a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity. La La Land is a love letter to the Golden Age of Cinema, but still manages to be its own thing; it has the glitz and glamour of the city and the time, but is still grounded, achingly real and sweet, and as Mia and Sebastian fall for each other we fall for them too, flaws and all. More than this, La La Land music is infectious and sublime, full of inspiring showstoppers and sombre themes, and its masterful cinematography and direction gives Hollywood a special magical glow, an iridescent purple shine at night and a bubbly sunshine during the day, which makes the audience dream of being there, no matter the struggles. Here’s to the ones that dream; foolish as they may seem.

And that’s a wrap on 2016! Here’s to 2017; may it gift us even better movies, characters and stories!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/mediaviewer/rm2541358848
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4698684/mediaviewer/rm2541543680
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4302938/mediaviewer/rm3534426112
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2543164/mediaviewer/rm4281993472
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3498820/mediaviewer/rm324931072

Top Five Favourite Characters of 2016

As the year comes to a close, it’s very easy to get caught up in the things that made this year in film (and in general) pretty bad. And there were a lot of them! But there were also a lot of things that made this year pretty damn fantastic, so I thought I’d count them down for us in the lead up to 2017.

To kick us off, 2016 was a huge year for characters we already know and love making it to the big screen, and an even bigger year for surprising and unexpected characters to steal our hearts. A film’s characters are always the most compelling and important part of any movie for me, so here is my Top Five Favourite Characters of 2016:

  1. Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison – Hunt for the Wilderpeople)

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Resident skuxx and gangster, Ricky Baker stole the show in New Zealand film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, one of my favourite movies of the year. Played by the wonderful youngster Julian Dennison, Ricky is a foster kid with a heart of gold who gets up to all sorts of crazy antics with his foster Uncle Hec when they decide to go bush, warring against bumbling child services officer Paula. Ricky was effortlessly funny with his haikus and dancing, but also vulnerable as a child who’s been chewed up by the system, and Dennison balances this perfectly, creating a character who is incredibly close to home. Surrounded by veterans in director Taika Waititi’s and Sam Neill, Dennison stole almost every scene, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

  1. Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland – Captain America: Civil War)

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Ever since Sony and Marvel announced that Spider-Man would be re-joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans have been on the edge of their seats waiting for his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. As the year’s first billion-dollar movie, Civil War was spectacular, giving each character the perfect amount of time despite being jam-packed, and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker was by far one of the standouts. Holland’s youth allowed him to bring Peter something we’d never really seen before – a young Peter, who’s actually learning to deal with being a teenager and a superhero at the same time, and his chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. was so electric that Downey Jr will even appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But the highlight was his stunts: from his banter with Falcon and Bucky to his Empire Strikes Back takedown of Giant-Man, it was a joy to see Spider-man join the MCU. How far away is Homecoming?

  1. Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)

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Every single Harry Potter fan had been waiting for the day that a new Harry Potter film would come out –  and this year we got our wish, when, on November 17th, we finally made our trip back to the Wizarding World. This time following a magizoologist named Newt Scamander (the delightful Eddie Redmayne), we got to explore 1920s New York as he sets out to recover some magical beasts that have escaped, with a sinister plot to expose magic to the Muggle World brewing under the surface. And though we were introduced to a marvellous cast of characters, including No-Maj Jacob Kowalski and witch Tina Goldstein, it was her sister, Queenie Goldstein, played by Alison Sudol, who stole the show for me. A beautiful legilimens (mind reader) with a kind heart, she owned her sexuality in a time when she wasn’t allowed to, and was lucky enough to find a man who saw past that – Jacob – and form a sweet friendship with him, as she introduced him to the Wizarding World. She may be an odd choice for many as a favourite character of the year, but she struck a chord with me, and with a now five-movie franchise in the works for Fantastic Beasts, I can only hope we get a lot more Queenie.

  1. Louise Banks (Amy Adams – Arrival)

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Arrival is another of my favourite movies this year, and Amy Adams, who is one of my favourite actresses, absolutely shines in it as Louise Banks, a linguist who is brought in by the military to decipher an alien language when twelve alien vessels land all over the earth. Smart but selfish, brave but terrified, Louise is one of the most real characters I’ve ever known, and Adams gives her such a strength and vulnerability that had such an impact on me as I watched the film. And even as the film twists and her greatest power becomes the source of her tragedy, she still fights through it, standing strong. In a sci-fi film which could have easily centred on a man, Denis Villeneuve has made an absolutely outstanding, visually stunning film which would win all the Oscars in a perfect world, but I’ll just settle on Adams even being nominated for an Oscar because she gave the best performance of the year.

  1. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool)

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How could I not put Deadpool on this list? Even though Deadpool wasn’t quite the film I wanted it to be, it was still unbelievably good, mostly because of Reynolds’ performance as Deadpool. When a black market cure for his terminal brain cancer leaves his skin wrinkled like ‘an avocado had sex with an older avocado’ (thanks, T.J. Miller), mercenary Wade Wilson goes on a revenge mission against his torturer and becomes Deadpool, an unkillable man and anti-hero. As well as subverting the traditional origin story and giving it a harder, fourth-wall breaking edge, Deadpool’s success can be put down to Reynolds: his dedication to bringing the character to life the way he deserves and brilliant comedic performance as Deadpool is what made the film fantastic. As well as this, the film’s no-holds-bar humour, kickass hip-hop soundtrack and self-referential quality brought it over the edge to make it a refreshing comic book film that injected life into the dying X-Men franchise and gave Marvel Studios character envy. Plus, the cameo possibilities are endless, and after this year’s X-Men outing, Deadpool would surely have a lot of great material.

Honorable mentions go out to Kubo (Kubo and the Two Strings), Black Panther (Captain America: Civil War), Newt Scamander (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Eilish Lacey (Brooklyn) and Chirrut Imwe (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, purely for potential)!

What were your favourite characters of this year? Let me know in the comments below, and here’s to another great year of characters in 2017!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDB.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4698684/mediaviewer/rm2541543680
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2543164/mediaviewer/rm4281993472
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3183660/mediaviewer/rm3123642624
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3498820/mediaviewer/rm3805550848
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