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Showing posts from January, 2017

Split (2017)

How great is that poster?!

Much has been made of Split as M. Night Shyamalan's return to form. It's certainly been a long time coming. Sixth Sense (1999) made cultural waves at the time of release to an extent that the endless spoofs and jokes about it's twist have overshadowed the film itself. It's an excellent horror film, and gets under my skin every time I watch it. I enjoyed, but didn't love Unbreakable (2000) and Signs (2002), and by the time The Village (2004) was released I feel like Shyamalan and his twist endings had begun to become joke in itself. From then on his films seem to have got progressively worse to the extent you wonder whether that early work was a fluke. In 2015 it looked like he had stripped back the high concept ideas evident in duds like Lady in the Water (2006), The Happening (2008), The Last Airbender (2010), and 2013's After Earth (I went to the cinema by myself to see that... urgh) with his tense horror, The Visit, and Split …

Hacksaw Ridge (2017)

We're in the thick of Oscar buzz as the 2017 nominations were announced today.  Suicide Squad (2016) is now an Oscar nominated film (kill me), and a win for Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'How Far I'll Go?' in the brilliant Moana (2016) would make him the youngest ever EGOT winner (what am I doing with my life?).  Last night we caught a showing of a film that appears to be flying under the radar a bit.  I'm not sure if that's anything to do with it's director, Mel Gibson, and his previous misdemeanors, or just show how strong a year this year's line up really is (as a quick aside, I'm really pleased to see 2016's excellent Hell or High Water make the noms).  With the bar set as high as it is this year round in the Best Motion Picture category in particular, it's going to take a lot to surprise and shock.  Gibson's war epic, Hacksaw Ridge did both.
Just as with Lion (2017) which we caught the night before, Hacksaw Ridge tells a true story so rem…

Lion (2017)

Going in to a film feeling mentally unprepared makes it sound a much more arduous way of spending your time than it is. With all of the 'heavier' Oscar films on the horizon though, and with a preview screening of Mel Gibson's war epic, Hacksaw Ridge on the following evening, Charlotte and I were looking forward to disengaging our brains for a change. We had therefore gone to go and see M. Night Shyamalan's latest, Split. That isn't to say I'm expecting that to be an easy ride with it's multiple personality plotline, but certainly a lot less 'meaty' than those films released around this time of year. Unfortunately when we got to buying our tickets the screen was sold out (this has left us even more determined to catch it - particularly after the girl behind the counter then went on to tell us how good it was... no need to rub it in). Fortunately, another film released this weekend gone was starting in 10 minutes - and that is why we had to swap …

A Monster Calls (2017)

J.A. Boyana follows up his 2007 horror, The Orphanage, and 2012 survival drama, The Impossible, with a fantasy coming of age story: A Monster Calls.  It's based on the award winning novel of the same name - a piece of work Patrick Ness completed after Siobhan Dowd sadly passed away with cancer before she was able to finish it.  Dealing with the prospect of loss and grief are the main themes of the story, and I was surprised to see it handled so well and from such a fresh perspective.  The films' story of a monster visiting a boy in the night may be fantastical, but the themes it hinge on couldn't be more real.
Lewis MacDoudall plays Conor O'Malley, a young boy caring for his mother (Felicity Jones) who is struggling with her fight against cancer.  Faced with the prospect of having to live with his overbearing grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), and bullied at school, things appear to take another dark turn when he is visited by a monster in the middle of the night.  Unclear…

Manchester by the Sea (2017)

If there is one way to get me giddy for a film, it’s having Friday Night Lights' very own Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) in it.  Although other fans of one of the greatest TV shows ever may also be hoping for a 2 hour Chandler motivational speech, that isn't how Manchester by the Sea pans out.  Instead Kenneth Lonergan (who writes and directs) has created a deeply moving and realistic look at grief, family and loss.  A comedy it ain't, but Manchester by the Sea was a film I could have watched for another 5 hours so attached was I to it's characters and story.  It's subject matter makes it a difficult sell, but I really hope this finds an audience as it was an enthralling piece of work.

The story is a difficult one to tell while avoiding certain spoilers, but I think that is important so as not to lessen the impact of particular scenes.  Essentially, Manchester by the Sea is about Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) - a man forced to care for his nephew (Lucas Hedges) followi…

La La Land (2017)

Going in to films with high expectations can be a killer.  Rave reviews, constant awards buzz, a director's follow up to one of my favourite films of 2014, and starring the on-screen couple of one of my go to feel good films.  It's a huge amount of pressure - even the girl taking our tickets at tonight's preview screening told us how jealous she was.  How can the end product ever live up to that sort of expectation?  Damien Chazelle's masterpiece, La La Land, managed to surpass those huge expectations and transport me to another world I never wanted to leave.  This is why I love films and going to the cinema.  When films work best, they are the best form of escapism.  La La Land was a brilliant example of exactly that.
As well as it's musical genre, La La Land's storythemes are that of music and film.  The film centres around life long passions for the two, and ambitions to reach personal goals in each field.  Emma Stone's Mia is an aspiring actress trying t…

(00)7 Best James Bond Opening Sequences

You could tell Die Another Day was going to be dire as soon as Bond somehow gives himself a heart attack to escape custody.  And then there was the invisible Aston Martin.  Despite that though, it actually started very well.  I even like Madonna's title song (dons tin hat), but the start's hovercraft chase is really fun too.  I caught Skyfall's pre-title action sequence (and brilliant title song) on TV the other day, and it got me thinking about how important they are to the Bond formula.  It's a given now that every Bond film starts with a look down a gun barrel, a breathtaking action scene, followed by the song and title sequence.  Die Another Day, and to a lesser extent Spectre, were poor Bond films that couldn't live up to it's breathtaking starts, but those scenes are so good I'm almost tempted to put them on and sit through the whole thing.  So, putting the rest of the film and the brilliant title song sequences aside, what are the best ever Bond film…

Silence (2017)

A labor of love for ten years, Martin Scorsese's interpretation of Shūsaku Endō's 1966 novel of the same name is the first film I've caught in 2017.  Although we managed to bravely struggle through the hangovers to watch it yesterday on the 1st Jan, it's taken me a while to digest and think on exactly how I feel about.  That I've been thinking about Silence ever since the credits began to roll should be enough to persuade many to go and make their own minds up.  Ultimately I think its too much hard work to say it meets the high expectations we and Scorsese set for it, but if you're after a stunning looking and thought provoking start to the year, this film is certainly that.


Two 17th century Jesuit priests receive word that their mentor (Liam Neeson), has abandoned the faith upon facing persecution in Japan.  They decide they must search him out to find the truth as well as attempting to spread Catholicism in the country.  Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver shake o…