Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Being one of few who enjoyed Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong remake, I was a bit skeptical of another Kong movie. But this time it’s different. This movie is brought to you by the same people who made the 2014 Godzilla remake (which I also thoroughly enjoyed) and not many people know that King Kong and Godzilla exist in the same universe and there are more of these monster movies to come (e.g. Mothra and King Ghidorah to name a couple). It seems then, that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe algorithm is so successful that other production companies are following suit.

Recruited to explore a new uncharted island, officials from the organisation Monarch, a group of soldiers fresh from Vietnam, a ex-military hunter-tracker and a photojournalist travel to Skull Island and disturb the unique and deadly creatures that live there, including a giant gorilla named Kong.

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Kong: Skull Island reminded me of a Vietnam war film – even the poster was resonant of Apocalypse Now! This blended perfectly with the fantastical, i.e a giant gorilla, and the action sequences that followed. The 70’s soundtrack worked brilliantly too, and really paced the film well. I was never bored.

The only quibble I had was that I didn’t care enough about the characters. Whether they got to the other side of the island in time to leave safely or not, I didn’t care. There were so many characters to get to know in such a short space of time, all with little or no backstory, and none of them were particularly likeable either.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island was an all round decent and enjoyable movie. It’s in cinemas now, and, if you’re interested in what’s to come, wait for an awesome after credit scene!

KONG: SKULL ISLAND

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Interview with Niall Johnson, Emilia Fox and Singe Greene – Mum’s List (2016)

On 24th November I was lucky enough to be invited to the press junket of Mum’s List. Recently released in cinemas across the UK, Mum’s List is a British movie shot on location in Clevedon. Based on a true story, the film is about the Greene family who’s lives are altered when Kate is diagnosed with cancer. She prepares her family by leaving notes and messages, a sort of “To Do” list for after she’s gone.

I had the absolute pleasure to meet and interview director Niall Johnson, leading actress Emilia Fox, who plays Kate Greene, and author of the book, and Kate’s husband, St John (Singe) Greene.

All three were a joy to talk to and gave real insight into the movie and the filmmaking process. Niall spoke on how the story came to be a movie such as this and his background with the Greene family. Emilia told me of the huge responsibility yet honour it was to play Kate Greene, (and how the West Country accent is a tricky one to master!) And for young people, like myself, trying to break into the film industry, they both give some advice!

Afterwards, I met with Singe and he told me more about his family, the boys Reef and Finn, and how the filmmaking experience affected them.

Even after the interview with Singe was over, I mentioned that he knew my dad from back home. We had a quick chat about him and then he told me to give him a big hug and tell him I love him “acres and acres.” Even through all the press days and premieres, Singe continues to spread Kate’s inspirational, positive message and his families’ story.

I’m so lucky and grateful to have met all three. And we could all strive to be more like Kate.

Mum’s List (2016) review and interview with Niall Johnson, Emilia Fox and Singe Greene

Although its subject matter is familiar territory in film, Mum’s List is unique in the sense that the story itself is unique and true. Adapted from St John (Singe) Greene’s autobiographical book of the same name, the story focuses on Singe (Rafe Spall) and wife Kate (Emilia Fox), who was diagnosed with cancer only a few years after their young son’s battle with the disease. But Kate prepares by compiling a collection of notes and life lessons for her family after she’s gone. Just hearing the synopsis can have audiences dabbing their eyes, but Mum’s List is a whole lot more than just a tear-jerker.

Director Niall Johnson’s true story drama is so understated and realist that it felt like, at times, I was watching a home filmed video. The story is personal to him: “I knew Kate in the last eighteen months of her life, so I knew the story way before the book. Movies were moving in on the story and Singe said “why don’t you do it?” I thought I was a bit too close and movies can mess things up. But as Singe and Rachel Murphy were writing the book I realised they were helping me find my way through what it was about the story that would make a hundred minute film. It was in Kate’s list. The book follows Singe of course, but the movie had to follow Kate.”

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Johnson glides us through the story, using the narrative to naturally flow back and forth from present day to past moments and memories. This enables an audience to grasp what kind of person Kate was and show that she’s not just defined by her illness. Brilliantly played by Emilia Fox, Kate is a loving mother, wife and friend, and has an incredible zest for life. “It was a huge responsibility being asked to play Kate, but a huge honour as well. I relied very heavily on Singe himself to talk me through every scene in the film. We sat in the pub and talked for a couple of hours and cried for a couple of hours.”

Emilia breathes life to Kate, and brings an element of subtlety, leaving out the melodrama. Similarly, Rafe Spall plays Singe with the same subtlety and he very much pulls us through the movie. Both actors give genuine, heartfelt performances and carry the film through it’s absolutely devastating and upsetting scenes.

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Being from Bristol and having a lot of family in the West, seeing Mum’s List filmed on location in Clevedon was incredibly exciting for me and is something that the film really takes pride in and Singe Greene definitely does too. “I really wanted it to be a British movie. I’m very proud of where I live and I hope we put it right on the map.” The scenery shots slotted into the movie are truly stunning and picturesque like from a postcard, all thanks to Director of Photography Eden Bolter, who’s recently been nominated for BAFTA’s 2016 Breakthrough Brit award.

Mum’s List, as a whole, is very understated, pulling away from Hollywood melodrama. Despite it’s subject matter, the film oozes positivity; everything down to the production design is bright and shining to reflect Kate’s personality even when she was ill. Mum’s List is a cruel and frank reminder that life is too short, so love too much and care too much. Its a heartbreaking watch at times, but altogether an uplifting, positive journey.

Mum’s List is in cinemas now!

mumslist-njef Full interview will be posted soon!

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