The BFG (2016)

Anyone my age and older will say that Roald Dahl’s stories inspired us and maybe even helped shape our lives today. Each story is timeless and perhaps the most moving yet most frightening of them is The BFG or The Big Friendly Giant. Excitement overcame me when I saw the posters and trailer for this movie, as it did my friend whose idea it was to watch it yesterday.

One night Sophie, an orphaned girl in London, spots a giant from her window. Fearing she would tell the adult world, he takes her away with him back to Giant Country and his little house underground. At first, she’s afraid she’ll be eaten, but realises he’s actually a very friendly giant, who doesn’t eat children, but the nine other giants in the country do. They form a close friendship, and she calls him BFG (Big Friendly Giant). BFG is bossed around and bullied by the other horrible giants, who also steal children from their beds and eat them, Sophie and her Giant both hatch a plan to stop them, which enlists a certain monarch’s help.

Directed by Steven Spielberg I knew the story would be in safe hands and he created some magical moments, particularly the dream catching sequence. Dotted around London are Sophie’s Dream Jars also, so it seemed like the story was taken seriously before the film even premiered.

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Admittedly, the opening is a little slow starting and some points in the middle drag despite the quality cast and visuals. I also felt there were certain moments that were a little randomly placed and didn’t fit in with the aesthetic of the rest of the movie. As sweet and light as the musical score was by John Williams it isn’t as iconic or memorable as his previous work such as E.T., Jurassic Park etc.

But these flaws will be soon forgotten as you get swept into the world of the Giants. Even though tailored towards children, who laughed and engaged in it from what I witnessed in the cinema, it is humorous enough that even the parents were laughing out loud. The giant sequences are playful; the two lead evil giants Fleshlumpeater and Bloodbottler played by Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Bill Hader (Inside Out, Saturday Night Live) are unrecognisable and wonderfully evil. Scriptwriter Melissa Mathison did an excellent job by retaining the unique speech of the Giants, originally crafted by Roald Dahl himself.

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Ruby Barnhill makes a spirited Sophie, and kudos for such a young girl to practically act alone against CGI Giants. And the surprise appearances of Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall and Rafe Spall are welcome as they bring another smile to your face. But it’s really Mark Rylance who, once again, steals the show for me. The beauty of his acting is that he doesn’t just talk the talk or walk the walk, he also conveys so much emotion and tells a thousand stories through his expressive eyes. When he is on screen, it is never a dull moment, whether it be funny or sad, and he is the perfect BFG.

Overall, The BFG is a lovely film that had me smiling throughout and was a truly charming watch.

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Matt Charman Q+A: Bridge of Spies (2015)

So Wednesday 6th April saw me sat in a Q+A session with the incredible Matt Charman, screenwriter of Bridge of Spies. He was a fascinating bloke to say the least, particularly interesting to me as I love writing and have always considered screenwriting a potential career path for me.

Matt Charman’s advice to early writers, or to any writers, is to “write what you want to see.” And as writers, we should be able to tell anecdotes and stories well. I myself am sometimes eloquently fascinating or sometimes lose absolutely all social skills and bore everybody to sleep with my life stories, however this will force me to practice! His work ethic too is incredibly impressive; writing on one project from 7am-1pm, then writing on another project from 1.30pm-7pm. If you want to write, just keep at it!

The idea for Bridge of Spies came from footnote in a book, according to Charlan, about JFK and his administration, where JFK sent a man named James Donovan, an insurance lawyer, to negotiate in Cuba with Castro directly to return American hostages during JFK’s “Bay of Pigs” period. The footnote told Charlan that James Donovan was an insurance lawyer who was known for negotiating in East Berlin in the Rudolf Abel case. His mind was whirling; who is this James Donovan that the American government put all their faith in- twice?

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I wrote a short review on Bridge of Spies a while back in November after I had watched the film, but never published it. So here we go:

Three reasons I thought I’d like this film. First, because it is directed by Steven Spielberg- you’ve got an above average film right there already. Secondly, because it’s based on a true story of America in the 1950s – which I am completely fascinated with. And thirdly… It starred Tom Hanks. An amazing man and a fantastic actor, class A, the best- I love Tom Hanks. But what did concern me was that this film could end up being another boring Lincoln. But how wrong I was!

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. The only hope of freedom is New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man’s freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court.

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Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are a reliable combination. And with a killer script by Matt Charman, and Mark Rylance’s support, this film is an engaging, captivating watch. I wasn’t surprised either to see the Coen Brothers being the co-writers on this (alongside Charman), as some of the dialogue and the mood the Coens create in their films was ever present. Mark Rylance (who won Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards), is incredible, there are no words (and adding to this review now, he seriously deserved the Oscar, he’s a wonderful actor).

A politically driven film, and topical at it’s time of release with recent terrorist attacks, our society living in fear and world leaders doing what is easy and not right, Bridge of Spies also portrays a society living in fear, but a character like Donovan addresses the opposite; do what is right and not what is easy. Overall, Bridge of Spies is a wonderful film, thoroughly enjoyable and even my American friend grew emotional stating “this film has made me so proud to be an American.” Like 50s America, forever living in fear of the Atom Bomb, we shouldn’t live in fear either as life just goes on and, like Mark Rylance’s Rudolf Abel asks, “would it help?”

M x

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

And so the age of the superhero movies dominating the box office continues, and 2016 begins with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Probably the most anticipated movie for a long time, purely because of it’s title and because two of the most iconic fictional characters and superheroes history will ever see are going to fight each other!

Superman (Henry Cavill) is seen as a controversial figure in Metropolis after the events seen in Man of Steel, and while there are many in the world who see him as a superhero or a God, there are many others who view him as an extreme threat. Bruce Wayne or Batman (Ben Affleck) falls into the latter, having witnessed the destruction and death caused by Superman fighting General Zod in Man of Steel. As a result, he vows to use his power and resources to stop the danger that is Superman.

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Straight away, I observed and listened when a lot of people gave it bad reputation, mainly due to the fact it wasn’t Marvel and the fact DC is known for not being on top form (but reminder, that neither is Marvel.. remember Iron Man 3?) But does that mean because it’s DC it’s already set out to fail before even entering the cinema? Of course, Batman V Superman had it’s flaws. To start with, we had some poor, cliché dialogue constantly surfacing, to the point I was rolling my eyes numerous occasions. Secondly, I think always will find scenes with Superman a bit lacklustre, leaning almost towards snooze-worthy. Unfortunately his powers and gentlemanly characterisation is no longer captivating audiences. Since we can utilise our VFX and SFX much more effectively nowadays, we can create a less conventional hero with more unique powers and be able to do them justice, for example newcomers Ant-Man, Jessica Jones or even non-humans Rocket and Groot! And thirdly, I will also never be convinced on the casting of Amy Adams as Louis Lane.

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However, despite this, the movie itself was not cliché and surprised in being unconventional. Firstly, I adored the opening; it was provocative, artful and a fresh way to introduce our new Bruce Wayne, without giving him another dragged out origin story. And I was completely intrigued by Ben Affleck’s Batman. If this is the Batman we are staying with for now, I’m really excited for what’s to come. I’ll be honest and say the scenes that stood out for me included Batman/Bruce Wayne, particularly Bruce’s visions and scenes with Wonder Woman (the incredible, enchanting Gal Gadot). Shout out to Jeremy Irons too as Alfred, but who is now a mega hybrid of butler father-figure Alfred and tech genius Lucius Fox.

Batman V Superman is unlike any of the superhero movies I’ve seen so far because it is visually engaging. The cinematography is excellent and it’s post production colour grading makes it look even darker than The Dark Knight Trilogy, but equally as coarse and urbanised. The action sequences, like Man of Steel, are fast and warped, which brings my boyfriend hope they’ll finally be able to create a credible live action Dragon Ball Z movie also, as the fighting, movement and pacing of the final fight scene against Doomsday is resonant of the anime.

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My only other quibble is there is not enough interaction between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent and I would have definitely liked to have seen more. However, when they do come together without the capes and masks, it’s one of the most intense, well written scenes of the movie.

Overall, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was anything but dull in my opinion. No, it’s not Marvel but this is because it’s DC, and I commend it for not jumping on it’s band wagon. It had a few issues, but otherwise I found it a well crafted film that was thoroughly enjoyable; well shot, decent script with decent acting and a kick ass fight scene that featured three of the most iconic comic book heroes – what more can you want? And with it’s book ended opening and conclusion, and thanks to those awesome “teasers” shown to us by Wonder Woman, we can only assume there is more to come!

M x

(Also I’m totally psyched too that Bruce Wayne’s mother is called Martha and that Clark Kent’s mother is also called Martha!)

The Martian (2015)

In 2013 we were given Cuaron’s Gravity and in 2014 we were given Nolan’s Interstellar. This year, 2015 brings us Ridley Scott’s The Martian, which arguably is the most enjoyable yet!

When astronauts on the planet Mars get caught in a fierce storm, they flee in fear of their lives and leave behind crewmate Mark Watney (Matt Damon),who is presumed dead. With only a tiny amount of supplies, Watney must utilize his wits and his intelligence as a botanist and a scientist to “science the shit out of this” so to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates have other ideas to rescue him.

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With cinema continuing for a third year with the theme of space, The Martian has many parallels to it predecessors. Firstly, it had big name director Ridley Scott at the helm and, like Gravity and Interstellar, the film will probably go on to be nominated for some Academy Awards for it’s technical achievements but perhaps a Best Director or a Best Film too that Interstellar missed out on (which was criminal). Secondly, it has taken the strongest elements of both previous films and combined them. Gravity was successful partly because of it’s simple format and strong lead, as it was practically a one woman Sandra Bullock driven show. Interstellar was memorable for it’s indescribable visuals and aesthetic and it’s crazy scientific talk. The Martian combines both of these strengths: an engaging lead, with Matt Damon in many lonesome scenes setting a lighter tone, and beautiful awe-inspiring visuals to create a brilliant hybrid.

The third parallel is that The Martian starred Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, who both were two starring cast members in Interstellar. And Matt Damon is once again stranded and needs to be saved. At least he was a less cowardly scheming git this time. Oh and this is the third feature film where the U.S. has to fork out to save Matt Damon from jeopardy. Just saying.

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I may joke and quibble but actually I’m being unfair. Matt Damon was incredibly compelling as astronaut and botanist Mark Watney. For someone who has been left on Mars, he was actually incredibly relaxed about the whole thing, and he had fantastic comic timing. But Damon let’s you see right through this persona on occasion, and you catch a glimpse of Watney’s vulnerability. The fact that he talks to the camera the whole time, and becomes quite attached to this and the rover that transports him, like they are living creatures. Or when he constantly jokes to hide the fact that he’s probably truly terrified. But in typical Ridley Scott style, the hero is brave, throws their-selves in and is not afraid of death (similar to Russell Crowe’s Gladiator and Siguorney Weaver’s Alien).

I feel though, that with so many characters and a star studded cast, some were underused. Chastain is second on the cast list bill, as Commander Lewis, but we don’t see her much until the end, or her crew either (Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan and Askel Hennie). The back and forth with NASA too is similar to the script’s pacing of one-liners and charming characters. Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean and Jeff Daniels are excellent, but again, none particularly stood out in terms of character development: they are all incredibly clever but all a bit nice.

Other than this, The Martian is still really enjoyable, is not short on laughs, visuals or drama. It’s light-hearted and thrilling at the same time, and, again, made me realise further just how dangerous and scary space really is. What surprises me though is still, after all these perilous space movies, I still really really want to go!

The Martian is in cinemas now!

Films of Summer 2015

So I haven’t blogged in a while. It’s very easy to get sidetracked by University deadlines, family, work and life pressures in general, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching the latest releases. So here are a few thoughts on cinema’s best and worst this summer.

The Best

Jurassic World (May 2015)

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What is the third highest grossing movie of all time, surpassing ‘The Avengers’, Jurassic World continued this momentum to become one of my favourite films of this summer and blockbusters of this decade! It had a winning formula similar to it’s predecessor ‘Jurassic Park’, but an updated, more epic version, incorporating more of the formidable raptors and the new baddie, the Idominus-Rex! If you get a chance to see this movie, please do!

Mad Max Fury Road (May 2015)

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Mental, brutal and savage. There are no more words. Even though the plot could be summed in one sentence, it is still one of my favourite films of this year and touched upon themes of feminism and gender equality thanks to the writers, Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa and ‘The Wives’. But with that aside, Mad Max is a simple action film with incredible driving/fight sequences and epic characters.

Ant Man (July 2015)

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I highly enjoyed Ant Man, partly because it reminded me so much of Iron Man. It had a very similar plot, humorous dialogue and awesome action sequences, with the villain being the hero’s equal (Iron Man and the Iron Monger, and Ant Man and the Yellowjacket). Something Marvel can always get spot on is casting (with the exception of Don Cheadle for the re-casting of War Machine), and Paul Rudd is perfect for Scott Lang/Ant Man, along with great support from Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll and the hilarious Michael Pena.

Southpaw (July 2015)

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I made a prediction to my boyfriend a week ago after seeing the trailer for ‘Everest’: Jake Gyllenhaal will be nominated for both Lead Actor and Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards.  Now obviously I could be completely off the mark here, but if his performance in Southpaw is anything to go by, then perhaps I should put a bet on. This movie explores grief and picking yourself back up from ultimate despair, but touches upon similar themes to that of Rocky: prejudice, opportunity and the American class system vs the American Dream. Southpaw is moving, uneasy, intense and thrilling all at once.

Straight Outta Compton (August 2015)

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This one was a big surprise to me as- shock horror- I am not down with the gangsta’ rap. However, Straight Outta Compton really impressed me. You have to appreciate the parallels between this fantastic musical biopic and NWA’s music: groundbreaking, political and poignant with impressive performances right up to the end. Their music, despite being hostile, became the much needed voice behind the working class population and the anthems of the riots to come. LA gangs the Bloods and the Crips stood united against a corrupted police force, neckerchiefs tied together, accompanied by NWA’s ‘Fuck tha Police’ is a chilling scene that I will never forget.

The Worst

Terminator Genisys (June 2015)

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I still don’t understand why I agreed to go along and watch this movie. And, of course, by the end I wished I hadn’t. I haven’t walked out of a cinema screen in a long time, but on this occasion I very nearly just. They can’t even spell the word genesis correctly. The only thing that kept me there was Arnold Schwartznegger as at least he brought in a couple of laughs. But in a nutshell? Appalling.

Minions (June 2015)

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Unfortunately, The Minions are not very compelling or enthralling leading characters. They are very sweet and funny, and loyal and yellow, and aspects  of the film was likeable and enjoyable but the plot is not as sophisticated as the Despicable Me’s and I was left bored. But kids absolutely adored it and that is it’s purpose at the end of the day, to captivate children.

Fantastic Four (August 2015)

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This movie left us all asking this question: When will cinema ever get Fantastic Four right? Better than the ridiculous, idiotic 2005 version in my opinion but still not quite good enough I’m afraid. It was a little on the bland side and the finale fight against Dr. Doom is so short-lived, you’re back to being bored again. Some plus points were the interesting casting of the Four (including Jamie Bell as the Thing, polar opposite of Michael Chiklis’) and the transportation sequence where they obtain their powers was excellent and refreshing to watch. But otherwise, this is another version that looks like it’ll need rebooting in a couple of years. Maybe next time, hand the rights over to Marvel and perhaps they’ll do them justice..?

What do you guys think on the films of this summer? Hopefully now I’ll be blogging more frequently, sharing my musings about films on here (because no-one likes to hear me ramble on in person). But I am looking forward to the award season and the many releases to come!

Whiplash (2014)

What an absolute gem of brilliance Whiplash is! As a musician, I was thoroughly excited for this film, but Whiplash is more than just about music. It’s about greatness and being pushed to achieving greatness, no matter how insane and intense the journey might be.

Whiplash focuses on a first year music student Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), a driven young drummer who earns a seat on the school’s best jazz band. This studio band is lead and conducted by Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons), the infamous teacher who uses fear, intimidation and, sometimes, violence to push his students to perfection and drive them to become the best.

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Based on his years in a studio jazz band, Damien Chazelle wrote and directed a 15 page short film a few years ago entitled Whiplash, that has now been adapted into a feature film for the big screen. I have the utmost respect for Chazelle, who’s film is an exhilarating musical roller coaster, with beautifully crafted, intimate shots, where you can fully experience, appreciate and marvel at how impressive being able to play a musical instrument well really is. Words fail me and there is just no other way to describe Whiplash – it is hugely impressive.

There was a buzz surrounding JK Simmons and his performance as Terence Fletcher, which was considered Oscar worthy and some of the best acting of this year. This was not false praise at all; JK Simmons was electrifying! As the sadistic, dictator of a Jazz band conductor, he was utterly genius, comic yet terrifying with the right amount of intensity. Often, I had a shiver of deja vu, as like Damien Chazelle, I also had an experience whilst at school with a drama teacher who put the feeling of “utter dread” into me, a lady like Terence Fletcher who was equally as pushy and a perfectionist, yet pleasing her was the best accomplishment in the world. Admittedly though, she was a pussy cat compared to him! JK Simmons was deserved of the Oscar he won only 10 days ago. But this performance is matched the whole way by the wonderful Miles Teller. As Andrew Neiman, you watch him transform and warp from an innocent, scared young man into an egotistical, immature and unpredictable boy instead, two ends of a spectrum that are constantly changing as a result of being pushed to the extreme by Terence Fletcher. Miles Teller is an up-and-coming gifted actor, who in future will hopefully be recognised for his acting talents as well as for drumming his heart out (Teller actually played the drums on this film.)

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Featuring fantastic jazz music, including the title song Whiplash, and an astounding final act, if you told me you were disappointed by Whiplash, I’d be disappointed in you. For me, this is the best film of all the Oscar films nominated this year, and may have slipped onto my list of all time favourites.

Foxcatcher (2014)

Even now writing this review, I am still quite shaken up by Foxcatcher. Once in a blue moon, I am left speechless by a film. Foxcatcher has had that effect on me.

Based on a true story, on the outside Foxcatcher appears to be about American wrestling but is so much more than just another sports movie. Olympic champion wrestlers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and, his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) are invited by multimillionaire and sports enthusiast John E. du Pont (Steve Carell) to join his ‘Foxcatcher’ wrestling team, compete in the Olympics and, ultimately, aim to become the best in the world. What follows this partnership though are circumstances and events that are dark and distressing, and if you don’t know the story already, go in to the cinema clueless and unknowing.

The name Foxcatcher comes from the immense family estate and farm owned by the du Pont family, but I felt the name meant more than that. The chase that ensues on securing both the Schultz brothers is like a hound hunting a fox, and du Pont did indeed get what he desired and “caught” them. In addition to his wrestling obsession, du Pont was an ornithologist and avid bird watcher. The use of bird imagery and even with his nickname “Eagle” I could certainly see the resemblance of a bird in both his tenacious manner and odd appearance. He leers over Mark and Dave, hunting and circling them both, like a bird of prey.

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Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz has taken a leap from heart throb/action star to serious actor in this film with ease and in a role that was well suited for him as a beefy wrestler. At times, Tatum really showed moments of vulnerability that weren’t hammed up, but instead subtle and understated. Mark Ruffalo was equally brilliant as Dave Schultz, the more mature and charismatic older brother. Talented, supportive and loving to his family and Mark, he was a welcome, calming presence in scenes.

This is a polar opposite of John du Pont, of course, a character who fascinated me the most. As du Pont, Steve Carell created an unnerving, uneasy atmosphere, so extreme that, at times, I found him quite difficult to watch. Unpredictable and unstable, his presence and demeanour is truly chilling and I was on edge for the entirety of the film. What I also found interesting is in several interviews I’ve read with Steve Carell (Radio Times, The Guardian etc), he’s said that his look and his whole bearing was so off-putting that people would avoid him on set, adding to that sense of separation.

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Bennett Miller has directed such a sophisticated biopic; some use of cinematography and dialogue will stay with me for days. What is also clever is his choice of shots and the use of imagery: the birds, the constant repetition of the word “Foxcatcher”, use of certain objects throughout and references back to the civil war and the farm previously being a battle field. All of these things amount to foreshadowing the shockingly tragic yet unsurprising end. The extreme lack of music too created unbalance, letting you hear everything, down to the dissonant squeaks of the wrestlers shoes on the floor. Any prominent sound came as a shock, and rang out through the cinema.

I remained incredibly tensed up throughout (so did my friend who came to see it with me), and come the end when I could finally relax and the credits began to role I actually started to cry. And I wasn’t expecting that, similar to how I wasn’t expecting anything as remotely powerful, formidable and disturbing as the story or Steve Carell as John du Pont.

Birdman (2015)

This is the kind of film that is right up my alley. An all star cast, brave film-making and eccentric storytelling, it just had to be done well… and thankfully it was!

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman tells the story of a former superhero actor, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) who ambitiously adapts his own Broadway play in the hope it will revive his career, give new status to his name and to prove he isn’t just a washed-up old movie star. Along the way he has to deal with his new co-star, volatile actor Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), Producer Jake on his back (Zach Galifianakis), his recovering drug addict daughter and assistant Sam (Emma Stone) and reign in and quieten the Birdman inside his head, almost like the devil on his shoulder. This is a black comedy, it’s hilarious and laugh-out-loud funny in places, but I also felt a sense of sadness and sympathy towards Riggan. Fame is something that people sought, and once gained and not held on to, all respect disappears, leaving you with this contempt celebrity status that lingers with you forever, and for Riggan Thomson, the thing that lingers is Birdman himself. And he vows to escape him.

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What basically is a parody of Michael Keaton’s life, where this film Birdman is the career reviver as much as Riggan Thomson’s play, he plays him in good spirit and like Riggan, throws everything he’s got at the role, and Keaton gives the performance of his career. Michael Keaton is manic, funny and tremendous in the lead role and his supporting cast are equally matched. For me these are the best roles I’ve seen Emma Stone and Edward Norton in: Stone the tough yet equally vulnerable Sam, whose monologue to her father about nobody and nothing mattering including him and his play is a moment that stays in mind, and Norton as talented but poisonous Mike, egotistical by his Broadway status wreaking havoc on Riggin’s project and life.

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We first see Thomson in his dressing room (hovering above ground), the camera stays with him throughout the scene and afterwards the camera doesn’t so much as blink. It’s one shot stylistic approach is rebellious, revolutionary and bold and it’s screenplay riveting, with lines and dialogue that I can imagine would excite actors enormously! But another aspect that may be overlooked is the soundtrack and sound design. With rhythmic drums that are dominant throughout, often adding comic value as well as the pacing and drive in a scene that the Editor would have been responsible for, except there are no cuts! They also grow more dominant at moments to motivate Riggan to succeed. As well as drums we hear thrilling superhero film music and melancholic classical music at moments when reminiscing his past, and a lonesome lonely piano at moments of isolation; they are perfect motifs to represent a character in what is a very character driven film.

This is an intelligent, brilliant, often silly but then again stylish film, and I found it oddly engaging. Maybe it was the strong, clear themes of fame, love, addiction and a yearning to prove yourself or, the genius experimental style. Whatever it was, Birdman has resonated with me and when I remember it’s highlights I smile and am truly inspired. For me, this is what film-making is all about.

Birdman is in cinemas now!

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Film Review

After watching ‘The Hobbit’ films so far (‘An Unexpected Journey’ and ‘The Desolation of Smaug’), I’ll be brutally honest and say I have been disappointed by them and felt Peter Jackson had lost some of his spark. The trilogy seemed to have been puffed out into this unnecessary 6 hour plus extravaganza from a short children’s story. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy is one of the biggest and greatest achievements in cinema history, and I adore them, yet ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy isn’t quite in concurrence with it’s predecessor.

That being said, the final installment ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ is the best to date, but it still carries the same feel as the previous films: chaotic and frankly, a bit tiresome. Despite this, I can’t help but still love ‘The Hobbit’ films and have a soft spot for them. ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ marks the end of an era and Peter Jackson’s obsession that spanned across 2 decades.

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The film starts with how ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ finished, with Smaug the Dragon flying to wreak havoc on Laketown, a sequence that is a bit confused and scattered, yet still allows for Bard (Luke Evans) to be the hero, his children to repeat the only line they have in the film (“Da!”) and for the magnificent Smaug to speak again (a highlight of the trilogy, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Once this is done, the 2 hour battle sequence begins, with Dwarves, Elves, Men, Orcs and Eagles, joined by Wizards, a Shapeshifter, more Dwarves, more Orcs and a brave little Hobbit transforming into fighting mode, all set against the backdrop of the Lonely Mountain and the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Admittedly, the battle sequences are wild but aren’t tiresome and the huge set pieces actually kept me interested, showing different storylines and points of view of each army.

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Something Jackson does really well is character development and something I was thrilled with was the casting. Martin Freeman is a welcome relief amongst the chaos as Bilbo Baggins, popping up to provide a new point of view of the battle and is the common sense behind some of it. Ian McKellen is always brilliant as his long running character Gandalf, protector of Middle Earth. I’m hugely impressed with the casting of Dwarf King Thorin Oakenshield, Elven King Thranduil and Leader of Men Bard the Bowman played by newcomers Richard Armitage, Lee Pace and Luke Evans respectively and all three hold their own against each other and other actors. The portrayal of how Thorin descends into madness or “dragon sickness” over the treasure of Erebor and the Arkenstone is something that I thought Jackson did very well, staying true to the book and was excellently acted by Richard Armitage.

However, I could have done without the annoying comic relief provided by cowardly Alfrid (Ryan Gage), and the ridiculous love story between Elf Tauriel (who was written into the series by Jackson, played by Evangeline Lilly) and young Dwarf Prince Kili (Aidan Turner).

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It’s not as emotional as I thought it would be, the battle sequences are not as epic and the conclusion is a bit underwhelming. Oh and Legolas’ stunts become more and more ridiculous each film. But all in all, ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ marks a gallant effort and the end of a trilogy overshadowed by ‘The Lord of the Rings.‘ Comparison aside, The Hobbit films have been enjoyable, bold, colourful and fun to watch and it is a strong send off to a series that has captivated myself and so many. But does anyone believe Peter Jackson when he says it’s really over? I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a draft script hidden away somewhere for the Silmarillion…

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