Features

Top 5 Skins Stars Making it in the Movies…

skins_series_1

When it launched in 2007, Skins was one of the most talked-about, controversial shows on British telly. Featuring sex, drugs and…more sex and drugs, these high school kids really caused a stir. Some have faded out of the public eye since, but a selection have gone on to be huge!

Continue reading “Top 5 Skins Stars Making it in the Movies…”

Features

Top 10 Films of 2017

10. A Ghost Story

a_ghost_story

“David Lowery serves up a surreal slice of paranormal absurdity with A Ghost Story, finding long-lasting intimacy in a film that is utterly and eternally universal. The lonely protagonist is trapped by space but not time, creating thought-provoking cinema that intelligently highlights both the significance and insignificance of the marks we leave on the world in our wake”.
My full review
9. War for the Planet of the Apes

War-apes

“War for the Planet of the Apes is a thoughtful, emotionally charged and fitting finale to what should be recognised as one of the greatest trilogies in the modern age of filmmaking”.
My full review
8. Lost City of Z

p04yc8m8

“As a work of filmmaking, it’s an immediate classic, fit to stand beside the best of Werner Herzog and Stanley Kubrick – though it’s also entirely its own thing, classical to its bones yet not quite like anything that’s come before it”.
The Telegraph’s full review
7. The Beguiled

The-Beguiled-2017-Colin-Farrell-Elle-Fanning

“There is tremendous entertainment value in the dinners and musical evenings that the women lay on for their wolfish guest. Kidman’s delivery of the line, “Would you cay-uh for a digestif, corporal?” is very entertaining”.
The Guardian’s full review
6. Manchester by the Sea

manchester-by-the-sea

“With its minimalistic cinematic approach, Manchester by the Sea manages to tell a heartrending story with maximum impact. Lonergan’s precise filmmaking, both in the script and the visuals, is cleverly geared towards the performance of Casey Affleck, which doesn’t for one second fail to deliver”.
My full review
5. Raw

hero_Raw-2017

“Raw marks a masterful directorial debut from a skilled filmmaker who presents a visceral feast for the eyes and ears that should be avoided at all costs by the sensitive and squeamish. It may be the most disgusting film I’ve seen at the cinema but the frequent shocking sequences are reined in by a sharply clever script that ensures that the craft of storytelling is at the forefront of the film’s vision”.
My full review
4. The Florida Project

film_review_the_florida_project_17041

“Moonee, along with her friends Scooty and Jancey, goes off exploring around odd pastel coloured buildings that resemble the run-down ruins of a Wes Anderson set, and through their playful escapades the movie masterfully captures the mischievous adventure of childhood. The narrative flows like a summer holiday; wild and sprawling with no strong sense of where one day ends and another begins”.
My full review
3. Dunkirk

Beach-700

“Dunkirk is war cinema at its most epic, perfectly showcasing Christopher Nolan’s supreme ability as a director as well as his storytelling gift of depicting intimacy on the grandest of scales”.
My full review
2. Get Out

get-out-daniel-kaluuya-allison-williams

“Jordan Peele achieves shockingly smart satire as well as shuddering trepidation with his remarkable directorial debut. His subversive vision is powerful and scarily topical, and is transformed into an intensely enjoyable cinema experience”.
My full review
1. La La Land

lionsgate-LGIIUK95432-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-GB-1492796204640._RI_SX940_

“The trick to why La La Land works so well is the clever balancing act between nods to romanticised nostalgia and the harshness of reality. For example, mesmerising musical sequences can be ended abruptly by the shrill sound of an incoming call, illustrating the juxtaposition between the era they revere and the world we live in today”.
My full review

 

Features

Chicago Film Festival 2017: Review Round-up

banner

I was fortunate enough to spend a day covering this year’s Chicago International Film Festival, and can share with you my capsule reviews below!

God’s Own Country
godsown

Francis Lee’s coming-of-age coming-out feature debut has been labelled as the UK’s answer to Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed romance Brokeback Mountain; Britback Mountain if you will, but it replaces sentimentality with bleak, bruising reality. Set in the beautifully sprawling Yorkshire countryside, the progressive plot centres around Johnny (Josh O’Connor), a young farmer who works tirelessly all day and binge drinks at night to avoid acceptance of his sexuality. When his family hire Romanian farmhand Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a simmering romance ensues, and his passion is unleashed. The power of Lee’s filmmaking comes from the effective simplicity. He slowly builds atmosphere as Johnny’s feelings rise within him, and this pent-up tension is portrayed immaculately. There are questionable character traits as the story develops that don’t always ring true, but minor problems aside, this is a refreshing and compelling exploration of LGBT issues on the big screen.

They
they

Rhys Fehrenbacher stars as J in They, the feature debut by writer-director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh which tackles gender identity. Born as a boy but identifying as a girl, J takes hormone blocking medication to postpone puberty while they embark on a journey of self-discovery. When J’s parents are away for the weekend, older sister Lauren (Nicole Coffineau) and her boyfriend Araz (Koohyar Hosseini) arrive to look after her. Unfortunately, the acting comes across as amateurish and this in turn makes J’s interactions with those around her feel stilted and unnatural. What begins as an intriguing premise loses its way around halfway through when a dinner scene at Araz’s Iranian parent’s house is dragged out so long that you’d think they’d changed the reel and put a different movie on.

Los Perros
losperros

A character study is the focal point in steamy Chilean drama Los Perros, written and directed by Marcela Said who began her filmmaking career in documentaries. The central character is Mariana (Antonia Zegers), a bored and restless kept woman who wants to break out of the caged life she’s found herself in. Controlled by both her husband Pedro (Rafael Spregelburd) and her father Francisco (Alejandro Sieveking), she seeks solace from her horse-riding instructor Juan (Alfredo Castro), an ex-colonel with a dark and mysterious past. Visually the film is very impressive and cinematographer Georges Lechaptois takes full advantage of the stunning backdrop it unfolds against. Zegers gives a strong lead performance as Mariana’s unpredictable nature drives the story forward. However, once the initial metaphor is established and Mariana is seen to be the titular ‘dog’, the narrative treads water through the final act.

Features

Top 5 Movie Bartenders…

clyde

In Steven Soderbergh’s crime comedy caper Logan Lucky, Adam Driver delivers what could be his career-best performance to date as hapless one-armed barman Clyde Logan. His brilliant role has inspired a reflection on cinema bartenders who know their craft from their crap.

Arthur (Passengers)
sheen

Passengers wasn’t a great film, but it did have a great bartender in Arthur, played by Michael Sheen. The android smooth operator serves up drinks to star-crossed lovers Jim and Aurora on luxury spaceship Avalon and injects welcomed humour into the script, albeit not always intentionally.

My review in full.

Razor Charlie (From Dusk Till Dawn)
fromdusktilldawn121210

When the Gecko brothers played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino turn up at the Titty Twister rock bar, they are greeted by an intimidating leather-clad barman called Razor Charlie. Portrayed by Danny Trejo in a brief but memorable sequence, it soon transpires that all is not what it seems with the drinking-den clientele.

Sick Boy (T2)
sickboy

Twenty years after the iconic original, Jonny Lee Miller reprised his excellent role as the entrepreneurial chancer Simon ‘Sick Boy’ Williamson. Now running the soulless Port Sunshine establishment, he sarcastically remarks that ‘the great wave of gentrification hasn’t hit us yet’.

My review in full.

Eddie (Barfly)
eddie-barfly

When heavy drinking Henry Chinaski is a regular at the other side of your bar, it’s fair to say that you will have your work cut out. In steps Eddie played by Frank Stallone (Sly’s younger brother). When he’s not battling and bickering with Henry indoors as shown in the image above, they are out in the lot having a street fight.

Bob (The Drop)
the-drop-tom-hardy

Tom Hardy certainly isn’t known for having a subtle approach to acting, but goes against the grain with a nuanced performance is Boston-set crime drama The Drop. Running a bar used by local criminals as a drop-off point for ill-gotten goods, he gives a powerhouse turn that should go down as one of his best.

My review in full.

Features

Top 5 Must-See Movies of Ed Film Fest 2016

maxresdefault
It’s festival time again and Artistic Director Mark Adams is back with an array of homegrown and international movies, all making their way to Scotland’s capital for the annual event! Usual strands of the Edinburgh International Film Festival such as Best of British, American Dreams and Night Moves return, and this year brings a special Focus on Finland section. Here are our top 5 selections from this year’s brochure…
Continue reading “Top 5 Must-See Movies of Ed Film Fest 2016”
Features

Top 5 Ryan Gosling Performances

From his breakthrough appearance in Nicholas Sparks’ weepie The Notebook to his brutal turn in ultra-violent thriller Only God Forgives, Ryan Gosling has an eclectic back-catalogue that divides audiences and keeps us guessing what he’ll do next. After his foray into directorial work on Lost River, he has turned to comedy in Oscar nominated financial satire The Big Short and detective buddy movie The Nice Guys which hits UK cinemas this month. In the run-up to its release, we count down his five best performances to date.

Continue reading “Top 5 Ryan Gosling Performances”

Features

Top 5 Performances that didn’t win Leo an Oscar…

After scooping his third Golden Globe and his first BAFTA already, Leonardo DiCaprio looks like a shoe-in to pick up his first golden statue at this weekend’s Oscars ceremony. The bookies certainly seem to think so, and have him priced at a ridiculous 1/100 to win! Jokes have been had, memes have been shared but now we should celebrate his greatness by looking back at his best performances that were shockingly overlooked by The Academy…
5. Titanic

titanic

Yes, he’d already starred in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, as well as being nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, but his performance as Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s disaster epic was arguably his breakthrough. The happy-go-lucky character enjoyed a whirlwind romance with Rose (Kate Winslet) before an icy twist saw his character memorably float to the bottom of the Atlantic.
4. The Departed

departed

In 2002, Leo struck up a fruitful working relationship with auteur director Martin Scorsese when they collaborated on Gangs of New York. Their third project together was Boston gangster flick The Departed which explored a cat-and-mouse game of cops and criminals. The film earned Scorsese his first Best Director Oscar after a career that had spanned over thirty years but poor Leo wasn’t even nominated for his work.
3. Shutter Island

maxresdefault

Another Scorsese directed film, Shutter Island is a neo-noir psychological thriller centered around U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels. DiCaprio stars alongside one of this year’s and last year’s nominees Mark Ruffalo, and gives a dark, complex performance that has more layers than Mary Berry’s sherry trifle, but again he went unnoticed awards-wise.
2. Inception
inception
Appearing in an all-star cast that included Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page and Michael Caine, Leo starred as Dom Cobb in Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending heist movie Inception. He played an ‘extractor’ which is someone who has the skill to infiltrate minds to steal information. A complicated plot ensues where Leo delves into a dream within a dream within a dream, but still his dream to win an Oscar was unfulfilled.
1. The Wolf of Wall Street

leonardo-dicaprio-in-the-wolf-of-wall-street-movie-9

Bold, brazen and bonkers, Leo’s outrageous turn as drug-fuelled stockbroker Jordan Belfort is perhaps his wildest performance to date, and saw him team up once again with Marty Scorsese. He pulled out all the stops and we saw him as we’d never seen him before, but was The Wolf of Wall Street just too extreme for The Academy? Probably.
It appears his brutal and bloody performance in The Revenant will finally get him his prize. If his name isn’t read out this year, he’ll be forced to grin and bear it.