Category Archives: Movies

Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

 

Beauty and the Beast’s heroine Belle was played by modern feminist Emma Watson.

It may be a ‘Tale as old as time’ but Bill Condon’s remake of the 26 year old fairy-tale film was refreshingly modern, feel good and unforced.

The film is set in a picture-book French village during the 1780s. Beauty and the Beast’s heroine Belle was played by modern feminist Emma Watson. Watson’s character was clever and bookishness with a perfect balance of strong will and innocence.

Dan Stevens plays the enraged Beast whose charm seeps through from very early on in the film. Stevens adequately portrays his characters bitterness with undertones of frustration and sadness.

Gaston, the self loving bully is played by Luke Evans however it is his sidekick the smitten Le Fou played by Josh Gad who steals the show. McGregor and McKellan also work well together as the hilarious and odd duo Lumiere and Cogsworth.

The story follows a young prince – Dan Stevens – who refuses to help an old beggar lady when she arrives to his castle. The woman warns the prince not to be deceived by looks before transforming herself into a beautiful enchantress.

She puts a spell on the prince turning him into a beast and the castle’s inhabitants into furniture. The Beast must find love before all the petals from a magical rose have dropped.

The film pulls out all the stops in its ballroom scenes and most of all in the Be our Guest dinner sequence which can only be described as a “choreographic extravaganza”.

The movie highpoint reminds the viewers of Disney’s successful and magical history in cinematic craft. Throughout the film the frolicking furniture brings life and laughter to the audience during even the darkest of moments.

Overall, the live action/digital hybrid film was joyful and enchanting. Writer’s Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos skilfully modernised the story without eliminating all the features we fell in love with as children.

Those who predicted the film would not hold a “talking candle” to the original will be pleasantly surprised.

See alternative reviews at : https://arstechnica.co.uk/the-multiverse/2017/03/beauty-and-the-beast-2017-review/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/mar/19/beauty-and-the-beast-review-undeniably-arresting-emma-watson-josh-gad-bill-condon

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/beauty-beast-review-emma-watson-dazzles-disneys-show-stopping/

Beauty and the Beast film review

By Katie Dickie

 

Beauty and the Beast have recently been relaunched to our cinema screens, with the 2017 version a live action film, compared to the 1991 animation.

Director, Bill Condon, employs the latest technology in visual effects, computer generated imagery. Using 3D computer graphics to create scenes or special effects throughout the film.

When a handsome prince, played by Dan Stevens is transformed into a Beast by an enchantress who warns, “Beauty is found within,” she also places a curse on his servants.

Emma Watson plays Belle, the bookish beauty and heroine. Our first introduction shows her strolling around her home village of Villeneuve, in France, singing, “I want more than this provincial life.”

Gaston, a former soldier in the French army, seeks to marry Belle and is played by Luke Stevens. Will he succeed?

Lefou played by Josh Gad is Gaston’s side- kick and displays subtle affection towards him throughout the film.

Kevin Kline plays Belles father Maurice, a music- box maker. After picking a rose in the grounds of the castle, he is taken captive by the Beast.

Belle becomes a prisoner in exchange for her father going free. Will Belle soften the Beast’s heart?

If she falls in love with him the curse will be lifted on the Beast and his servants. Will this happen before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose?

Is Belle suffering from ‘Stockholm syndrome’? (Where a captive shares feelings of trust or affection toward their captor). Emma Watson has strongly disputed such claims, in recent interviews. I feel the relationship between Belle and the Beast is a matter for your own interpretation.

During a ballroom scene at the end, there is a brief ‘gay encounter’ with Lefou and another gentleman. This storyline has attracted much publicity, however young children would not pick up on this.

Beauty and the Beast is an excellent film, live action gave the film a good pace and depth, something that animation alone could not achieve. Cast performances were all superb.

The soundtrack, which has added three new songs, aided performance and helped convey background storylines.

Sarah Greenwood, production designer, added decadence to the sets and improved viewers understanding of the time period.

A parental guidance (PG) rating has been given to the film, as it contains some violent scenes, but should not unsettle a child aged eight or older.

Click on the links below for alternative reviews.

http://variety.com/2017/film/news/beauty-and-the-beast-reviews-critics-1202001749/

http://www.empireonline.com/movies/beauty-beast-2/review/

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/beauty-and-the-beast-2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From lost to found…..a journey of 1100 miles

It’s Sunday evening, you and your hangover are just about on speaking terms, and as such, there’s really only one thing for it….light the fire, pour a liberal glass of “hair of the dog” and settle down with a movie to distract from the knowledge that Monday morning is fast approaching.

And so ensues the great debate that happens in every living room, in every house, between every couple at this crucial stage in the weekend…….What movie should we watch? Action? Fantasy? Comedy? For me, Sunday evenings and a film “based on true events” fit together perfectly like love and marriage. As the song so beautiful puts it, “ya can’t have one without the other!!”

This week’s pick, “Wild”, Nick Hornby’s 2014 adaptation of Cheryl Strayeds’ New York Times number 1 best-selling memoir, “Wild: A journey from lost to found.”

So, what’s it all about? Cheryl, played by Reese Witherspoon, embarks upon a gruelling 1100 mile solo hike through the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail. Following her mother’s death to cancer, Cheryl is unable to process her grief and spirals into self-destruction. A heroin habit and many sexual encounters with strangers cement the toxic relationship she is developing with herself. She is acutely aware that, in order to break the cycle which she now identifies as everyday life, she must stop using these coping mechanisms to numb the pain of her mothers passing. In short, she needs to be able to  feel again.

Throughout this transformative journey, feel she does. Of course there’s the physical side that one would expect from a trek such as this. From the numerous raw and bleeding grazes etched into the skin of her ever shrinking frame to the loose toenails that need to be ripped from their nail bed in one swift movement in order to continue hiking. But there is also an intense emotional journey.

During the trek, flashes of Cheryl’s back story become interlaced with the present day to allow a greater understanding of what has happened in her life to shape her as the complex individual she has become.

I’m not going to offer any spoilers. Does she succeed or does she decide to pack up and return to her previous life? You’ll have to watch to find out.

I will leave you with this, during the journey she meets a fellow hiker who asks her if she ever gets lonely trekking solo. Her response, “I’m lonelier in my real life than I am out here.” And so, some food for thought, in a world so full of other people perhaps it is in isolation, that a true sense of physical and mental freedom can be found or perhaps not? You decide.

 

Review: ‘Get Out’

“Black is back!”

Meeting a partners parents for the first time is usually a somewhat uncomfortable experience, and in “Get Out” the situation is no different.

Awkward dad jokes, an overtly competitive sibling and a mother who specialises in hypnosis. Yes, it’s your traditional ‘meet the parents’ set-up.

DANIEL KALUUYA as Chris Washington

The directorial debut from Jordan Peele (MADtv, Key & Peele) presents the audience with a film balancing precisely on the line between psychological thriller and dark comedy.

At several points in this film you will experience the urge to laugh, although whether your giggle is the result of humour or horror you are never quite sure.

When African-American photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is invited by his Caucasian girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her family, race is an issue from the beginning.

The insistence that her father would have voted for Obama “a third time” is later reinforced by the man himself, as Bradley Whitford embodies the role of friendly/desperate Mr Armitage with a conviction that is winningly cringe worthy.

Mrs Armitage’s (Catherine Keeper) contemplative assessment of Chris is no more comforting, particularly when we see her command of the two (black) servants using little more than the clink of a spoon on her teacup.

Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keeper as the creepy Mr and Mrs Armitage

It soon becomes clear that the warning “Don’t go to a white girl’s parents’ house!”  delivered by Chris’ best friend, and provider of comic relief, Rod (LilRel Howry) is more ominous than first thought.

Bleak comedy soon gives way to spine-chilling mystery as Chris is paraded as the star attraction of a garden party where wealthy, white people prod his muscles and patronisingly insist “Black is back!” with an intensity which transcends mere curiosity.

The casting of Daniel Kaluuya may have been controversial when revealed, but it is the Brits former non-entity in Hollywood combined with Peele’s chaotically choreographed writing which makes this film stand out.

The casting of a more prominent actor would surely not have cemented us so securely in a film where the progression of the sinister is so rapid.

The unpredictability of the script, the haunting, string-filled soundtrack and a cinematography where symbolism is subtly emphasised all combine to create a thriller where the audience cannot guess what is going to happen next. It is satisfying for those sick of the predictability of thriller films, yet to label it as “crowd-pleasing” could not be further from the truth.

“Get Out” is a triumph of cinema, a socially relevant but unique concept which reveals more messages with every viewing.

The audience teeters uneasily between the realms of farce and fear as we are presented with a world which is assuredly unrealistic, yet at the same time disconcertingly familiar.

‘Logan’ Review: The final chapter of Wolverine’s story slices and dices all before it

Hugh Jackman in Logan. Photograph: Gamespot

Fans of the X-Men series have been clamouring for a gritty, ultra-realistic and brazenly violent Wolverine movie for many years, and even more so recently considering the success of fellow Fox property Deadpool. In Logan, which is touted to be Hugh Jackman’s last turn as the adamantium-clawed mutant, Fox and director James Mangold have achieved everything they set out to accomplish, and then some.

It is 2029, and mutants have become virtually extinct, with the few that remain seemingly in hiding from their human oppressors. A greying, bearded and dishevelled Logan is living in a rugged outpost near the Mexican border where his primary function is to care for a mentally debilitating Professor Xavier – with the legendary Patrick Stewart reprising his role as the iconic mind-reader for the final time. The Professor requires a lot of medication to restrain his substantial telepathic powers, which Logan pays for through his side job as a limo driver. It is somewhat disturbing to see these archetypal mutants in such a miserable state – it certainly makes a change from Xavier’s lavish X-Mansion in upstate New York.

One of the main story arcs in the film begins when Logan encounters Laura, a powerful young mutant portrayed by actress Dafne Keen who shines in a breakout performance. The girl is hunted by the methodical and frightening half-man, half-cyborg Donald Pierce, with Boyd Holbrook of Narcos fame putting in a superb display of charisma and nefariousness, and he will stop at nothing to bring Laura back to his Mutant Experimentation Centre. At first glance you could be forgiven for wondering why Laura is such an asset to the evil Pierce – but all will become clear around a quarter of the way through as her relationship with Logan develops.

Hugh Jackman has appeared in the X-Men series since its big screen debut in 2000, but for the first time, Wolverine feels mortal. You get the sense that every unsheathing of his trademark claws and blood-soaked battle may be his last, which separates Logan from modern day superhero movies where everyone appears to have an air of invincibility. It is a dark, emotional tale but at the same time an uplifting one. It is the perfect send-off for everyone’s favourite slicer and dicer. You can cast aside many of your superhero tropes and clichés for this one, as James Mangold tears up the rulebook and starts from scratch.

Film Review: The Revenant

the revenant

Film Review: The Revenant

 

The Revenant is one of those films which is more of an endurance test than a piece of entertainment, more of an immersive experience than the observation of a story. Depending on how you look at it this can be other good or bad. One thing The Revenant is not, however, is boring.

The plot is a simple one, and one filmgoers have seen before. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a tracker and fur trapper in the 1820s frontier of North America. After he and his hunting party are attacked by a group of Native Americans, a dozen of the survivors flee into the wilderness. Glass is then mauled by a bear and is carried some distance by his fellow trappers, before the terrain makes transporting the injured man impossible. Soon bickering and dissenting loyalties among the group ensue. The antagonist of the group, Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy, kills Glass’ son and leaves the injured fur trapper for dead. The rest of the movie follows a similar narrative to that of any revenge flick, with DiCaprio’s character, half-dead, battling against the elements in pursuit of the man who killed his son.

What makes The Revenant a cut above the rest in its genre is the technical brilliance with which the filmmaking itself is executed. Director Alejandro Iñárritu uses similar techniques which brought him Oscar success last year with ‘Birdman’. Long, sweeping takes follow the action with few cuts, and there seems to be nowhere the camera cannot go: on horseback, into the air and underwater. Uncomfortably close shots of the actors’ faces, seething, panting and gazing into the cold wilderness put the viewer right beside them. The violence, from the opening scene of the Indian raid in the hunting camp to a knife fight and the incredible bear-mauling sequence is brutal and unrelenting.

Much of this immersive and engaging style must be accredited to the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki, who, along with the director, chose to shoot the film in all natural light for added authenticity. When the camera isn’t following arrows from Indian bows and swirling around on horseback pursuits, it is capturing the rocky mountain landscape and merciless terrain in all its petrifying glory. The use of pale, cold daylight results in jaw-dropping vista shots and breath-taking views of the vast forest and white mountain ranges that put the viewer right in the picture.

The score of the film imitates the uncomfortableness of the environment, with winding electronic drones and thunderous orchestral charges which drive the action forward.

The acting from the whole cast is superb. The real stand-out performance, however, must go to Leonardo DiCaprio- if for nothing but for the sheer endurance and strength to play such a physically demanding role. In a part with little dialogue, his character is portrayed through brutal action and a seething anger bubbling under the surface as he pursues his son’s killer. He is put through every obstacle the wilderness can throw at him and the viewer is freezing and writhing with him every step of the way.

So, if you’re looking for an easy, relaxing flick to unwind with after a long day, The Revenant is not it. However, for sheer spectacle and an incredibly immersive cinematic experience, you can do no better.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1663202/?ref_=nv_sr_1

http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-revenant

http://oscar.go.com/news/winners/oscar-winners-2016-see-the-complete-list

 

Prescription Thugs – Review

Drugs are never going to be a non-controversial subject, are they?

The title of this documentary film gives you a fair indication of what you will be looking at during the next hour and a half. It’s a Michael Moore-esque look at the American establishment, focusing specifically on the evils of prescription drug companies.

View ‘Prescription Thugs’ Trailer here

The film’s creator, director and narrator is Mr Chris Bell, a man who himself has struggled with addiction to prescription drugs. Not only this but Bell reveals in the first fifteen minutes that his older brother, Mike, died of a prescription drug overdose merely a few years ago.

Make no mistake, this is a sad story. An attempt to instantly grab the viewer’s heartstrings and to gently nudge them towards the immediate conclusion that prescription drug abuse is a huge problem in American society.

And it works. To begin with.

Over the counter, under the radar
Prescription drugs: over the counter and going under the radar

Throughout the film we are continually introduced to ostensibly good people who have battled with prescription drug abuse. From ex-pro wrestlers to mothers of four young children, the scope of the problem is revealed and continually emphasised.

The viewer is hit with some pretty damning statistics, such as the fact that in ten years, the top eleven pharmaceutical companies in the world made $711 billion in profit. That’s not spin, that’s fact. The facts given throughout the film absolutely lend themselves to the story-tellers intention of allowing the viewer to see that there is something fundamentally wrong and worse, dangerous,  with the American drug market.

However, after 45 minutes of sad tales and warnings I found myself wanting something different. What do the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  have to say about this cautionary tale? We’re told that a spokesperson from the opposing side declined to comment, which is a shame as the film ultimately needed such a comment to offer some balance.

In my opinion, the one-sidedness almost took the creator’s argument full circle. Essentially the point being hammered home throughout the duration of the film was, “Don’t listen to the FDA’s propaganda, they’re not giving you the full story”. A point which was, as I have said, well made to an extent. I ended the film feeling that the creator(s) hadn’t offered me the full story either.

As a documentary on an issue as contemporary as drugs it certainly offers some interesting points. By no means a ground-breaking documentary, but it is absolutely a relevant one to today’s society.

Michael Morrow

 

Further information on prescription drug abuse is available from the National Institute on Drug Abuse here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/prescription-drugs-cold-medicines

 

 

Up Standing: Stories of courage from Northern Ireland

 

Up Standing tells the stories of ordinary people who stood up to violence, prejudice or sectarianism.

The film gives ten accounts of different acts of bravery from people living in Northern Ireland. It was produced as part of a Corrymeela community project and funded by the International Fund for Ireland.

Making films like this one creates an opportunity for untold stories to be voiced and acknowledges quiet peacemakers who have never been recognised for their own personal acts of bravery, kindness or peace-making.

The film is used by schools so it is appropriate that it begins by telling the story of a pupil travelling to school on a mixed bus.

A series of low-angled shots are shown in-between the aisles of a dark bus with a mixture of jump-cuts and hand-held camera movements.

Gillian (not her real name) witnessed an act of sexual violence against a boy as they travelled on the same bus.

The mise en scène creates a disconcerting effect with the framing exaggerating the narrowness of the aisles and lighting helps to warn viewers that they are going to hear something disturbing.

This contrasts hugely to the end of the story where softer lighting and longer shots are used to demonstrate how things on the bus got better after two schoolgirls stood up against sectarian bullying.

Gillian changes from a twelve year old who “knew [her] place” to someone who helped change the dynamics on the school bus forever. She describes her actions as “something that just bubbled up inside of me.”

Co-Director Paul Hutchinson said that they have made the film available for schools and some “show it,” but others are still “resisting” because of “a genuine fear.”

He said that some teachers believe that “this film is encouraging young people to take inappropriate risks.”

However, Gladys Ganiel (QUB) believes that part of what makes the stories so good is that these people did something when others failed to act.

She said: “After their examples work their way into the nooks and crannies of our consciousness, perhaps we will be reminded of what we have done and what we have failed to do.”

Mr Hutchinson is now working on another project that explores the trauma of not standing up and how people cope with that.

These stories are important ones to be shared in any post-conflict society, and a free copy of the DVD is available for educational purposes.

postcard A6

HOFFMAN’S PERFORMANCE A SALVATION FOR ANTON CORBIJN’S A MOST WANTED MAN AS HE LEAVES HIS ENDURING ON-SCREEN LEGACY.

a most wanted man

Hoffman’s performance a salvation for Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man as he leaves his enduring on-screen legacy.

Muslim refugees seeking asylum is nothing out of the ordinary. It’s becoming an everyday occurrence, thanks to the increasing national security threat. But when a part-Russian, part-Chechen, Muslim refugee arrives in Hamburg with a view to claiming his late father’s vast fortune, the ordinary is out. It’s left at the door of his safe-house.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the covert spy in Anton Corbijn’s adaption of John Le Carre’s novel; A Most Wanted Man. As intelligence are alerted, Hoffman battles corruption, morality and bureaucracy in an attempt to fulfil his sardonic mission to “make the world a better place.”

Rachael McAdam’s role is played with conviction. She is the young, ambitious lawyer tasked with processing Issa Karpov’s asylum application as well as a social worker, bodyguard and provider. Hoffman however, is the protagonist. He is also a raving alcoholic, chain-smoking, obsessive-compulsive intelligence officer racing against time to restore justice as well as his own professional reputation. Perhaps a little too convincingly.

Given that this was Hoffman’s last role before his tragic overdose, it’s fitting that his character, Gunther Bachmann appears jaded and exhausted. Either it is a reflection of the persona of a spy master or Hoffman was himself exhausted and despondent. The latter rings true.

Whilst the pretence of the film makes for gripping viewing on paper, on screen it’s an entirely different story. Perhaps it was the intention of Corbijn to portray the mundane tedium that is the everyday life of an intelligence spy. As Hoffman waits for his subject’s deal to be done, the viewer waits for the story to gather pace. Seemingly, both in vain. As late night coffee, whiskey and cigarette consumption dominate scene after scene, the viewer could be forgiven for employing said vices to carry them through to the end of the movie.

Finally the plot gathers pace. Albeit, in the final scene and last fifteen minutes of the film.

Hoffman’s performance however, must be commended and arguably compensates for the film’s disappointing dynamic. He is the overworked, overweight, cynical type that a spy should be. As spy thrillers go A Most Wanted Man draws a stark resemblance to John le Carre’s earlier novel; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It is a should-be gripping depiction of a collective battle for justice but lacks the follow-through of an engaging spy thriller with Hoffman’s character bearing an unnerving resemblance to his own fragile state of mind.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1

 

Mockingjay is the third instalment of the smash hit franchise Hunger Games.

Mockingjay begins in the immediate aftermath of the dramatic end of Catching Fire. After Katniss strikes the surface of the dome covering the games, rebels from District 13 rescue Katniss and another contestant Finnick Odair.

We quickly learn, contrary to what the Capitol has said, District 13 still exists and has most of the planets military arsenal. As the film unfolds, we learn that after the war which brought about the Hunger Games, there was a secret settlement between the Capitol and District 13 in order to stop extinction of the human race.

The viewer also learns that Alma Coin is District 13’s president and has been seeking a symbol to lead the rebel uprising, and she believes Katniss is that symbol.

Katnis is unsure at first if she can full fill what District 13 wants her to do, and is apprehensive about being used as a symbol. However, after returning to her home district which has been completely inilated by the capitols air force the films hero begins to believe in the fight and the cause.

Both Katnis and Peta are being used as propaganda tools by their respective side. A film crew made up of disgruntled Capitol residents follow Katnis in her day to day pursuits. On the Capitol side, Peta appears in interviews sporadically broadcast to the entire nation. In these interviews Peta begs Katnis and the rebels to stop their uprising.

Katnis is captured singing the Mockingjay song after witnessing the devastating effects of a Capitol attack, which becomes a rebel anthem. Petas’ appearance gradually deteriorates in each interview, and in the final interview he looks very distressed, but still manages to warn District 13 off an immediate attack.

The film’s final sequence centres on the rebels attempt to rescue Peta from the Capitol. The rebels manage to enter the capitol seemingly undetected and get Peta. But in a broadcast between Katnis and President Snow, the rebels learn that their exploits have been uncovered, but strangely they succeed.

Peta and Katnis are reunited in the final sequence of the film, with Katnis embracing her Games partner. Peta suddenly tries to strangle Katnis and is only stopped by Haymitch Abernathy and the film ends. The final part of the franchise Mockingjay: Part 2 is due to be released later this year.