Saturday, 25 February 2017

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Laika studio made Coraline, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel about a young girl finding her 'other mother' who wants to give her buttons for eyes. In Kubo, we follow, of course Kubo who lacks one eye, and who tells stories of a great hero called Hansu in his village. More I can't really say, for fear of revealing too much. The thing that is truly remarkable of this stop-motion film is how extremely beautiful and well-done it is, every sequence is remarkable and beyond beautiful. From the colours, to the scenery, to the character design and the details on their clothes. Despite this, the story does lack some of the refinement it could have had, like, Coraline, but it's a wonderful tale nonetheless. A story worth seeing.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Sing Street (2016)

Director John Carney of the film Once and Begin Again fame, returns with another charming film, focusing on a bunch of teenagers in 1980's. We follow Conor who's parents are going through a rough time in Dublin, financially and emotionally. One of the consequences financially is that he's sent off to a different school, a lower class all-boy school called Synge Street. Conor doesn't start off so well, being different, but everything sort of takes a different turn when he finds another like-minded soul who in turn leads him to a girl - possibly the girl. It's like every 80's flick you've ever known, the sort of familiar trail of "boy sees beautiful girl whom he's desperate to impress".

Conor confidently asks her to star in his bands music video, except, he's not got a band.

It's effortlessly charming, besides being hilarious, as you see the band change their style, especially Conor. He's repeatedly changing throughout the film, donning makeup, dye, and various cringeworthy hair styles that are clearly a homage to the various popular bands back then. Well worth a watch, especially for the excellent soundtrack, original tracks and all.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Brooklyn (2015)

Last time Nick Hornby wrote a screenplay was for An Education, which was good, except for the fact that the ending didn't seem to know where it was going. The fact that Brooklyn is based on Colm Tóibín's novel probably helps, besides Saoirse Ronan being downright amazing in the role as Ellis. Living in a small town in Ireland with her sister and mum, her sister encourages her to leave for America, putting her up with a job and a place to stay, as there's nothing available for her in Ireland. To begin with Ellis is deeply home-sick until she meets Tony, a young Italian man who begins to make her feel like Brooklyn might be home to her.

The film isn't revolutionary perhaps, but it's wonderfully done by director John Crowley. The acting is also splendid and you understand the dilemma's and worries that go through Ellis' head as she tries to adapt to change, besides trying to understand where she truly belongs. It's nice to see such a story from a female perspective, in a way, as it's much more of belonging than it's about 'romance'. Besides bringing up how many went away from home, leaving behind everything they knew, and how devastating that must have been...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Ricky played by Julian Dennison is a foster kid, sent to live by the bush in New Zealand with Bella and Hec, the former more enthusiastic about Ricky, than both her husband and Ricky are themselves. He's had a troubled past - known for loitering, kicking things, breaking things, burning things etc, you name it, and winds up in some more trouble - getting lost in the bush, with his foster Uncle Hec played by Sam Neill. The fact that they also wind up being hunted by the government/child services because of a misunderstanding complicates things.

Directed by Taika Waititi who also directed What we do in the shadows, it's a brilliant comedy-drama/adventure film, and I highly recommend it!

Monday, 31 October 2016

The Final Girls (2015)

The thing about slasher films, is that all in all they're rather fun, but we've seen them before. The concept of The Final Girls is, however, different. Max (Taissa Farmiga) lost her mum a few years back, a famous scream queen actress Amanda Cartwright (Malin Akerman) who played in an eighties slasher film called Camp Bloodbath, which Max's friends force her to attend a viewing of. The viewing of the film turns disastrous, as an accident sends the entire theatre into flames, but Max and her friends head for the screen hoping to find the exit behind it. Inadvertently, they find themselves inside the film itself, having to follow the set-up of Camp Bloodbath, while Max struggles to cope with seeing her mother alive again even if it's not really her. However, due to their appearance, the films story seems to alter, and the final girl is up for grabs.

It's not often I find myself tearing up about a film, but I did. There are lots of films who've done similar concepts back in the day, and this could have easily wound up as one of those generic flicks hadn't it been for the underlying theme. The mother and daughter relationship within it, and the bittersweetness of loss.

I can never listen to Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes now without getting emotional.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Room (2015)

I knew nothing about Room when I walked in. I knew Brie Larson was playing one of the leads whom I remembered from Trainwreck and Scott Pilgrim vs The World. In some cases not knowing anything is a benefit. I'd not looked up a trailer, though I'd seen a short little synopsis about a young mother stuck in a room with her son. My mind raged from post-apocalyptic horror to indie-flick. None of which rang true in the end. It's a film that has to be seen and it hurts throughout the whole. That's all I can really say, and Brie Larson deserved to be clutching the many awards that slipped into her hands. She was perfection and so was Jacob Tremblay who played her son.

Spotlight (2015)

When you think of Oscar winners they usually celebrate Hollywood in some way or the other, besides digging into the same melodramatic groove which is familiar to us all. Recent years the trend has finally turned (like a slow rusty cog, it has got to be said), and what was once an obvious shoehorned winner doesn't get its price. Like Spotlight, nobody could swear it would win, though they hoped. It doesn't glorify the villainy that is talked about, its quiet, its honest, its true. This is a real story, these are real people and victims.

The Boston Globe has a little group of journalists who collectively make up a single department called Spotlight and focus on a story at a time, doing months of research before publishing. When a new editor steps in, there's a bit of fear that Spotlight will get cut, but they're surprised when finding their new editor wants them to pursue a story that has become easily overlooked articles in the newspaper as a whole.

It's about the catholic priests who've been accused of molesting young children during the 60's to the 80's, a sore topic in a very catholic city, and one people would rather ignore than really talk about. The Spotlight group charge head-on, digging what some of the team presume will be nothing, but they find that there's quite the scandal at their hands.

You could easily look up the article itself, and read up on all the history, but this film is about the process, the shock. Parts of you don't want to believe that such a thing could happen, but it has. It's a film that made me cry not because it tried to showcase the horror or push any emotional button, but because it just felt raw, honest. It told it like it was. That's whats horrifying. There's something incredible in knowing that the same director made The Cobbler with Adam Sandler the same year. It's laughable really, but here he managed to handle the topic expertly.