Friday, 3 April 2020

Rocks - BFI Film Festival

Firstly, it’s beyond a shame that 'Rocks' won't get to have its moment in cinemas this April. A story about a London teenager who left by her mum to take care of her young brother and fend for herself. But this isn't just about harsh realities or the tragedy that some young people suddenly find themselves left in, 'Rocks' is also about friendship and how we try to do the best for our friends even if it means making difficult decisions.

Sarah Gavron’s latest film may seem like other films of a certain genre but really, it’s been a long time, where a film, not a TV series, centres around a group of friends who happen to be girls. With 'Our Ladies' meant to be released later this month too, cinema is really be robbed of fantastic stories that you don't normally see on the big screen. But unlike 'Our Ladies', which was based on a novel, 'Rocks' was brought to life very differently. Working with the cast who mostly have not had any acting experience, Sarah Gavron worked on the script and dialogue for their characters. This refreshing way of telling the story really does shine through throughout, its realistic and very believable that these girls are friends and do deal with these problems at school and home at time doesn't feel like it’s a drama but a documentary and this is no bad thing.

Delving straight in Rock's world and the very dire situation she finds herself in. Too young to have to know exactly what to do, she's too young to have this responsibility but here we find her, asking for friends to let her stay the night, stealing stolen money from a new questionable friend, starting fights with those she's closest to. Her story doesn't have an end but rather a new start and new challenges. The last few scenes where her and the best friends take an impromptu trip to the coast is both full of joy and mischief but a sobering tone and a realisation that things will change, hopefully for the best.

A fantastic cast and a refreshing take on the over used 'coming of age' genre, Gavron makes this about friendship and growing up instead, which is a far better view of this story. I just really wish this British gem could be enjoyed in the cinema. Soon, I hope. But I feel I'll be saying that quite a bit in the weeks to come.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Jack & Yaya - BFI Flare

Seeing as BFI Flare along with lots of other films festivals have been cancelled and postponed due to the pandemic that has gripped the world, there will be a severe lack of festival posts this year, which in turn will mean there will be a lack of posts this year from me and the outlets I would write for. This will have a knock on effect into next year as well.

BUT BFI Flare did still have some features available to watch on the online library which press still had access to. I was late to this, however I was able to see one of the films I had been looking forward to, a documentary about two best friends who have supported each other through everything, including when they both came out as trans. Its a truely beautiful film and I was please I got to review it. My full review will be available on Vulturehound HERE very soon.



Friday, 27 March 2020

Ema - BFI London Film Festival

Slightly different this time as instead of a review, this is for an interview I had with Mariana Di Girolamo who plays Ema. A hell of a character with a style (which we mention quite a bit) that stands out from the crowd and a personality to match.

A vibrant, sexual rampage with dance sequences to match the energy but with a tragic and heartbreaking story at the core and Ema herself as the conductor for this performance. I was lucky to speack to Di Girolamo about the film, Pablo and Ema, which you can read over at Vulturehound HERE.

"What kind of bird are you?"

Finally. I've finished my Moonrise Kingdom zine.

Maybe its because I'm finally getting my groove back or that I have time on my hands, but I've finally completed the zine I started in November. In fact, I'll be saying 'finally' quite a bit over the next few weeks. Although this zine isn't quite what I had in mind, I was determined to complete it sooner rather than later.

My aim is to have the zines I've made available to view as a PDF and eventually become available to purchase BUT that last part is quite a way off as I would need a printer and scanner in order to complete my real zine dreams. Until then, please enjoy this sneak peak at the finished PDF. Hoping to print a few copies so I can see what it looks like, as I'm thinking of future Wes Anderson projects and how they'll all need to be in landscape to fully take in his visual style.

I have other zine ideas in the works, maybe with luck and lockdown I'll get them donw soon too.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Nine Years

This is the strangest post to write right now. Amidst the cinemas closing around us, the virus frenzy continuing to grow, this doesn’t seem like the time for me to look back at my 9 years of writing on this blog.

Although I’m thankful that my 10-year anniversary isn’t this year in light of everything going on out there, I had hoped this year was going to be THE year. Off to a fantastic start (personally) and film wise too. The triumphant Oscar wins for Parasite. A crop of fantastic female led films for the summer, all now on hold or postponed. I work in event cinema as well write about and cover film, its hitting me harder than I expected or sooner than I expected.

The last few weeks have felt like a film we’ve all seen before it gets to the panic and possible zombie apocalypse or world war or dare I say it, virus outbreak. But in theory, this is not like the movies, we’re all just living it.

My office where I work has said we can work from home and as I recently moved into my new place, it's going to be a long and hopefully not as lonely as I fear road. At least I’ll be writing more as we all move further online. I’ve been rather absent from my blog last week and the week before last mostly due to my own personal thing going on but I’m bouncing back. With many films in my collection to be watched and many films online to enjoy, there’s no end of material.

Everyone be safe and healthy out there and hopefully we’ll be back in cinemas soon.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Birth of a New Genre

There seems to be a new breed of film out there, or maybe its always been there, we just haven’t tapped into its potential yet, that’s a bridge between grindhouse, dark matter science fiction and old school horror, but somewhere in between it all, there Nicolas Cage.

Adapted from and based loosely on the story by H.P Lovecraft, the colour or color that is from out of space is something that lands on earth in the shape or appearance of a meteorite, landing smack bang in the middle of a forest which also happens to be the front garden of the Gardener family. Not long after this, colour appears, strange things begin to happen, which soon turn to grotesque and as its Cage here, highly amusing. In the midst of all the hell the family are experiencing, a hydrologist is in the local area surveying the land for a reservoir that has been planned by the local politicians. He serves as the narrator, book ending this very odd story and film. Never providing clarity but even more mystery. 

There is no doubt that the audience who saw ‘Mandy’ will be flocking to this offering from Richard Stanley. Especially the two films not only share style and genres, in some ways, but they also share Cage. He isn’t quite the glue that holds the film together, that burden is given to Madeleine Arthur who plays his daughter, Lavinia. But Cage has a presence that not many actors have. He is both fantastic and abysmal at the same time. You can’t help but hang on his every line as they are be weird, profound and incredibly funny. This may be the writing but as it feels like a role made for Cage, its mostly him and his charisma. Cage really does go all the way, complete with several moments of insanity and screaming while hitting things. But the extra special zest in his performance is his random Trump impression that serves in the story as an impression of his character’s father. 

Moving away from Cage, the film itself is gory and disgusting in all the right places. For an alien horror film it serves up the right amount of each genre to keep you entranced, literally as the colours, are beautiful. Having the main antagonist as a colour is difficult in itself but you really do feel the pain, terror an dread and that even before the body horror elements kick in. There is sense of ‘why’ but ultimately it doesn’t matter. The story, as it unfolds, is a slow burn which you appreciate over the films that feel the need to rush to climax. Hopefully we’ll see more of this obscure genre hybrid in other films, and hopefully more Cage too for good measure. 

Tilda & Wes

Tilda Swinton is being honoured at BFI this month, receiving a fellowship for work in cinema over the decades. She is a staple in cinema, as both a British icon and international success. She is known for her indie and blockbuster roles, she is a literal chameleon. Last night she was joined on stage by one of her collaborators, a writer and director known for his distinct style in both production design, characters and stories. Wes Anderson is a filmmaker that you can instantly recognise and having him on stage with Tilda is a dream made in heaven.
They first met, unofficially, at Cannes when Orlando was being screened and Anderson was there for one of his short films. Years later, Swinton saw The Darjeeling Limited and wrote a fan letter to the director, prompting the two to meet and collaborate on three films and counting.
Together they had selected some films that had inspired and entranced them to take us on a magical tour through their cinema.
As both shared a passion for Powell & Pressburger, they started with ‘A Matter of Life & Death’ choosing a clip from the start of the film, moving on to reference ‘The Red Shoes’, ‘Peeping Tom’ and Tilda’s favourite film ‘I know Where I’m going’ which she talked about with such sweet delight, telling us all to take a trip on the sleeper train to Scotland so we could experience just a fraction of what she did when she saw the film. Wes had picked a Satyajit Ray film ‘Days and Nights in the Forest’ and showed us a 7 minutes clip, which the audience seemed to enjoy immensely despite only 1 or 2 people having seen the film. Tilda shared her admiration for Alec Guiness in Kind Hearts and Coronets who plays the entire family in the film, saying that it reminded her of her own family and how they all looked the same too. Wes made a point that he was planning on stealing some of the scenes we’d seen and asked that no one else do that. Ending on a quick clip of James Cagney dancing, the two legends slipped out the door.
It was just an hour talk but it was utterly delightful and it was really was a treat to have both Tilda and Wes on stage.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Watch List January & February

The Gentlemen
Ever wondered what made Guy Ritchie the director he is? Some would argue that he's made some terrible films (Revolver, King Arthur) and some truely amazing films (Lock, Stock..., Snatch, RocknRolla) and when he's stepped out of his comfort zones, mixed reviews (Aladdin). But Ritchie is a creature of habbit. He is at his best in London making up stories about gangsters. That's literally what this is mixed in with a scandal. It's pure Brit grit classic gangster shenanigans with a witty script and even better weird characters that inhabit the grim ends of London. I enjoyed it for what it was but I think a lot of people were underwhelmed by Ritche's latest, saying it was the same old same old. True, it is. But its what he does best and I can appreciate him at his best. 3/5

Can't believe I overlooked this film when it first came out... and here I am dedicating an entire post to it. HERE.4/5

The Personal History of David Copperfield
Not my favourite Dickens as it is very depressing, however the amazing cast assembled was too good to miss and I was not disappointed. David goes from loved son to outcast to loved nephew to gentleman to poor man to author and its all mapped out through the eccentric characters he meets, collecting scraps of paper to remember each person and their mannerisms. Very funny and depressing as hell in places, but its as expected as it is Dickens. But this is one of the best adaptaions I've seen of his works. 4/5

Queen & Slim
Starts out like other films but takes the 'lovers on the run' genre trope and twists it on the head. Two fantastic characters in an extraordinary situation with only one way to end. Topical and socially adept, a brilliant film that I hope stretches as far as the characters in the film reach.  4/5

Weathering With You
Made by the creators of 'Your Name' so I knew I'd love it. The animation is beautiful, with dahses of fantasty one minutes and crashing reality on the streets of the city the next. Ultimately a heart warming and wrenching story at the same time throughout. The dramatics teenagers are going through is heightened to the skies when runaway Hodaka Morishima meets Hina Amano, a weather maiden who can stop the rain and pray for the sunshine. The story and the characters are even set in the same world as 'Your Name' characters but the film doesn't quite have the emotional punch the previous film had but its still a wonderfully animated film complete with indie rock soundtrack to keep you in the mood. 3/5

Truely worthy of being the film to make Oscar history and be internationally celebrated. Without giving away the story, a family living in a basement level flat in poverty, trying to secure minimal paying jobs, work their way into a wealthy family's home. But even this small, reasonable ideal can come with a heavy price. There is so much subtext, with twists and shocks to keep you transfixed on the screen. A thriller with few thrills, a horror story with little blood and a drama that is subtle where it counts, its a fantastic film. As above, so below. 5/5

Birds of Prey
Absolutely loved this film. Far better than the other films in the DC cannon. Fun, funny and emotional. Plus now all I want is to find a sandwich that would be good enough for Harley Quin to nearly die for.  I wrote about the film in a bit more detail HERE in case you'd like to know more. 4/5

Ready or Not
The concept for this horror-esque thriller is brilliant and yet so simple. When Grace marries into the Le Domas, on her wedding night she has to pick a card to determine what game she plays to initiate her into the family. But instead they try to kill her. Its brilliant. These sort of things only happen with ridiculously wealthy people and usually Americans, lets face it. Its chilling but somehow fun at the same time along with a few laughs. Grace, is also refreshingly normal. She reacts the same way anyone would in her position, even punching a kid in the face (he deserves it, watch the film). Fun and games and the occult. 4/5

Steve Coogan playing a billionaire arsehole, its very dark, very funny and my gad does it have a gut punch third act. My full review will be over on Vulturehound HERE. 4/5

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Portrait of a Lady on Fire - BFI London Film Festival

This was one of the films that I saved from LFF because I wanted to take my time over it as I felt rushed at the time. Well it took so long to ponder over the impossibly beautiful coast, sky and sea as well as the superb women that take centre stage that the film was to be released on the perfect day, Valentines.

My full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Birds of Prey (and the ridiculous judgement of female led films)

 When it was announced that there would be a sequel to Suicide Squad, most were deterred as this possiblely meant that we'd have to sit through a 2 hour film where Jared Leto method acts again but luckily that was squashed. A film about Harley Quin on the other hand would be new, fresh and a rare things amoungst the male dominated superhero genre. With only 'Wonder Woman' to date carrying the would be DC comic franchise, holding the torch for female fronted films of this nature, DC really needed to step up. Especially as all they had to offer was a sequel. Suicide Squad could boast three female heroines/villains in their line up; (not including Amanda Waller) Enchantress (killed off), Katana (deserved better, maybe more screen time?) and Harley Quinn (dressed in very overly sexual outfits throughout). So, it was time for something extra and something more than what was offered.

Enter Margo Robbie, not just as Quinn, but as one of the producers of 'Birds of Prey', also enter Cathy Yan, director. Although not as seasoned as previous choices for previous films, she's has a smart wit and hell, she was ready for a challenge, so it seemed. BUT seeing Birds of Prey as a 'challenge' just meant that, male directors either weren't interested or weren't approached. I hoping it was the latter. Yan is fantastic. She's created a superhero genre film that not only fits into the greater universe in big and small ways but it also extends past the stereotypical genre expectations. There are plenty of jokes about the 80s cop dramas but that's really what it is. Its a crime drama with a superhero comicbook flare that works so darn well, its immensely pleasing to see such a great blend. Not only does it sound and look amazing but the fact that there are five characters' stories woven into the story and doesn't become convoluted, or confuse or infuriate, it is a smooth and ridiculously fun ride from start to finish. I honestly cannot point out anything that is not needed or doesn't feel right and I'm not Robbie's biggest fan. But she is fantastic in this. The title does only make sense by the end (but who cares, plenty of other films do the same) and the rest of the title, that is played out to perfection, again, without being overbearing in anyway. Screen time is even shared out equally between characters. This brings me to my confusion as to why the film is hated by some audiences. And sorry but the evidence is damning, it is mostly guys.

From what I've read, women either don't care enough to get into a fight about this or they LOVE the film. But the guys, they hate it, not with passion, but with pathetic generalisations. From the tweets saying Huntress doesn't look hot enough, from the box office reporting that this is worst DC has had ever (really? want to check the BOR for Suicide Squad? or Green Lantern? No?) Other films that were actually terrible such as.... well any other DC film apart from Wonder Woman were panned by everyone, not just critics, yet more films were still made. It seems the bar was set ever so much higher for a female led film. This ridiculous behaviour was happening in 2016 and its just getting worse. There's actually a moment in the film where Quinn is trying to guess why she has annoyed Black Mask and one of the guesses is just because she has a vagina. I think with that she knew why guys didn't or wouldn't like the film.

With the film now getting a crap name change because the great title is not good enough and people are too dumb to recognise actors, feels like another nail in the coffin that is equality. BOR rule the cinemas, but the fact that the film made a big profit doesn't seem to enter anyone's minds. If it didn't hit the highest bar there is, its no good. Female led films are not a niche element to a film, its just part of it. Hell, I even still have to tag my posts if there are female filmmakers attached. I really don't understand why guys don't like watching films with female leads, especally when they aren't dressed in a hideous male gaze wanting outfit, I really don't get the guys who say female fronted films are just bad when they aren't. The worst films made in history were made by men, but no one wants to talk about that. Women have to work twice as hard that men for recognition, not an opinion, that's an actual fact.

Its only February and Birds of Prey is definitely going to be one of the best films of the year by the end but some male dominated crud will come out and 'top' it, but won't in fact top it. If you haven't seen it yet, go watch it, see for yourself what a film made by a brilliant director, starring five fantastic actors with a story that is both thrilling and satisfying really looks like.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Above and Below

Like many of you, I have not been lucky enough to see 'Parasite' yet. This week, thankfully, the wait is over. But just before we enter one of the most talked about films of last year and this year (so far) let us delve deep into the mind of Bong Joon-ho and see what lies beneath. In other words, lets go back and watch his previous films an revel in his fantastic genre twisting storytelling.

I wrote (at length) for Zavvi and the full post can be read HERE.

Why Jojo Rabbit should win Best Picture

Part of Zavvi's blog leading up to the Oscars, each film critic backs one of the nominees and the horse that ran out of the gate was 'Jojo Rabbit' by a mile, in my opinion. Its a black comedy war film where director Taika Waititi also plays Hitler, that's all you really need to be a winner. But if you want to know more about why I think this film deserves the 'top prize', head over to HERE.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Not Just About Strippers Robbing Rich Guys...

 I’ve been quite preoccupied lately but I did manage to see a film that was talked about, praised and of course then over looked by most. I now completely understand the hype and delight surrounding ‘Hustlers’.

Looking back, I think I just over looked the film as all I saw was a poster of strippers. No context, just well-known faces playing strippers and the colours were all neon pink and purple. The buzz started on Twitter, as most things do, then it elevated to high praise quite quickly. This wasn’t just ‘some run of the mill stripper film’. This was based on a true story about how a group of strippers had fleeced quite a few wealthy disgusting men after the financial meltdown of 2008. But the film was even more than that, it was about friendship and close bonds forged and shattered. It was about finding your tribe and surviving through the worst times together as well as celebrating the best of times. It was NOT just any film.

Based on an article that was published in 2015 written by Jessica Pressler about a group of strippers who had drugged men and stolen their money. Of course, any true story that begins this way is going to grab people’s attention. It’s a fantastic story but the film has been given another edge, it’s about friendship. I avoided saying ‘female’ friendship as gender doesn’t need to be stated. Given the Robin Hood angle as these women were stealing from wealthy men, mostly disgusting men, drugging them so they wouldn’t remember and taking what they believed they were owed or rather earned. The women are given space in the story to talk and aren’t just pretty objects to be admired. They talk about the job, making a living, surviving. They have dreams, modest even, but the best part of the story isn’t the crimes their committed, is the central characters relationship between Destiny and Ramona. Key players in the article that caught the attention of many.

Without going in to great detail as this film should be watched with fresh eyes if you haven’t seen it, the film is a mix of black comedy, crime drama and female empowerment. This, much like the drug the women cook up, is a dangerous concoction that could easily be written off as weak crime thriller fodder but in the right hands, director/writer Lorene Scafaria to be exact, the film is effortless, brilliantly acted and doesn’t turn down a dark hole of hate. The love and respect between Ramon and Destiny, even til the end, is genuine. Why aren’t there more films like this?

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Watch List December

The leftovers from 2019...

Hail Satan?
 Who'd have thought that a documentart about a religion would grab my attention and even make me think twice about religion on the whole? I was surprised at how straight forward the story of the Satanic Temple was. On the surface it looks like its a group of satan worshipers who to put a statue representing their beliefs next to the 10 Commandments statue outside a courthouse BUT in fact is actually a fantastic positive group of people who came together to form the temple. They stand for all the things that those Bible bashers claim to be but aren't. As someone who was brought up Catholic, now not, I know exactly what those 'Christians' are like, maybe not to the extreme that the Americans are but I know them. Thought provoking and brilliantly told story. Hopefully the separation of Church and State will be realised, soon. 4/5

Little Women
Honestly, I was very disappointed when I heard that this was to be Greta Gerwig's next feature. I haven't enjoyed the previous adaptations I've seen, I don't really like the story but I do love the characters. My main problem is that I can't understand why Jo and Laurie don't get together, not married, just not to together. His 'romance' with Amy is literally just filling the void and in any version I've seen, its always going to be like that. Anyway....I loved this film. It was full of passion, creativity, Laura Dern and four brilliant sisters. Each were given a story, each was given a personality and each were fierce and brave in their own way. I was most pleased that Beth was given the heart of the story with just a few simple exchanges and her piano playing. A fantastic film that changed my mind about the story on the whole BUT still think Jo and Laurie would have been better suited, but thats just me. 4/5

Uncut Gems

Lots of screaming, lots of yelling, lots of money, not that many gems. My full review is over at Vulturehound HERE. 3/5

Frozen 2

Unlike the truly terrible (apart from Olaf) Frozen from yesteryear, this is a rare occurance. This Disney sequel is far better, still flawed, than the first. Great songs (can't remember them really) and finally Jonathan Groff stops talking like his reindeer and is given a song and its hilarious. There's an amazing water horse spirit thing and an enchanted forest, plus the cutest little fire lizard. The highlights come from Olaf who recaps the entire first film which is, again, hilarious as well as dropping inspirational and terrifying instagram quotes all over the place. It really was so much better and there's even barely any rock troll moments!! But the entire story is flawed and alot of what Elsa has to do it a bit obvious. But who cares! There's a cute fire demon thing in it! 3/5

6 Underground
I'm not a Michael Bay fan, at all but this cast was too good to ignore. And that is exactly what it is, a fantastic cast who deserved a whole better. The concept is borrowed and twisted and not in a good way. But the characters really do save this piece of high budget trash. Ryan Reynolds wants a franchise but the only way it could work is if he took the reins and made it better, like he did with Deadpool. 3/5

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

For the full experience, please read HERE.  3/5

Monday, 6 January 2020

The Rise of Skywalker

SPOILERS. There are SPOILERS in this post, you have been warned.

For those who love the originals, for those who actually the prequels and for those who adore the latest films, this isn’t made for you. To those who don’t really watch Star Wars or were at the cinema and didn’t know what to watch, this film was made for you, so, you’re welcome. Collectively Kathleen Kennedy, Disney, JJ Abrams and that guy Chris who really has no idea what he’s doing, decided it was a fantastic idea to completely change the film, with reshoots, rewrites and cutting 30% of the film as late as October 2019. What I’d give to see the rumoured multiple endings and the original direction and ending of the film. There wouldn’t be THIS much outrage across the fandom or the tepid mediocre ‘I guess it was ok’ reactions from those who, to be honest, aren’t as big a fans as Star Wars fans. Yes, I’m saying this, because in my opinion I believe it. Let’s get started, shall we?
As a film, it offers amazing scenery, visual and practical effects galore, a few nostalgia trips that are appreciated and that’s it. The story is confusing, backtracks quite a few things from the previous films in the trilogy, adds in characters we haven’t seen in decades that were thought to be dead, cuts down characters roles to near nothing, shatters fans hopes for certain characters including the actor who plays him, cobbles together an ending that seriously flawed, denies us a scene that would have greatly improved the film, kills off a fan favourite without justification, shatters another fan base while thinking they did what they wanted, ends appallingly overall and doesn’t give us hope for the future of Star Wars.

The film jumps right into the action after a very quick intro in the opening scroll, with Kylo Ren finding and fighting his way to Exogol, the Sith home world or something near to that. There he meets Emperor Palpatine who is somehow alive and tells him to kill Rey and he’ll give him power and his Final Order, a massive fleet of star destroyer ships. Rey meanwhile is training with Leia’s guidance but as she is now struggling with the light and dark, she keeps failing. Poe, Finn, Chewie and C3PO pick up a message from a spy in the First Order about Palpatine and about the impending doom that will occur. The gang and Rey go on a mission to find a way finder that should lead to Exogol so that Rey can confront and kill the emperor once and for all.

To avoid giving a beat by beat critique that will just feel like a story explanation, similar to what I’ve seen Youtubers do, I’ll dive straight in. Having seen the film twice, I gained clarity on most of the story and characters. Meaning that the first time I just felt outraged and was over heated and immensely annoyed at the death of Ben Solo. The second time around, I could almost enjoy the mediocre tone of the film. No character was given a good send off, but on a whole the film was enjoyable IF you over looked everything that was built up in the previous films in the so-called trilogy. But my enjoyment was stunted by the incredible bad ending, not just Ben Solo dying but the fact we were all denied an actual fight between Palpatine, Rey and Ben. As well as dialogue between Rey and Ben at the end, but I’ll get into that later. We were also given a real slap in the face rip of ending that had been taken from Return of the Jedi with the Resistance or Rebels or whatever they were calling themselves by the end. The film was a mixed bag that consisted of plot and style elements stolen from other Star Wars films, note stolen, not homaged, terrible plotlines for all the rebel characters, a complete change in direction for the entire saga and a dissatisfying end for Rey and Ben.

With the reshoots in mind and the last minute changes, I’d really like to see what the original plan was and I’d also like to see the original cut of one of the final scenes which quite a few people have fixed for fans out there, yes, especially for Reylo fans, but in all fairness, it’s not only Reylo fans who are calling for justice over Ben Solo. Kylo Ren was a huge fan favourite across the ages of fans, seeing this happen with such a, let’s face it, utter shit inconclusive ending, its fair for the outrage. Having Adam Driver missing from nearly all press events was a huge tell-tale sign too. This could be explained as that he was busy promoting Marriage Story, even though that came out a month earlier, but it’s still something not to be ignored. JJ Abrams and the writer of such fan favourites as Superman vs Batman and Justice League Chris Terrio have been next to no help with trying quash outraged fans and disappointed audiences, they’ve continued to try and justify their pathetic attempt to end an epic story.

The major ridiculous plot twist that wasn’t a twist as it was basically blurted out in the first 5 minutes, making Rey Palpatine’s granddaughter was a weak attempt to try and justify Rey’s position in the Star Wars story. Making her ‘someone’ negates the whole point of what the trilogy was meant to be about. You don’t have to be famous to be someone great. But to JJ and that t**t Terrio apparently you are only worth something if you’re famous. Really shoddy character development boys. Rey’s story was set up as different and more interesting than the people of note. Believing that anyone could be a Jedi was the hope we needed and made for a great story, but JJ and Chris just burnt that-wait did the Torries write this? Rey’s story on her own was ruined but her continuing bond with Kylo Ren/Ben Solo was becoming more interesting. Confirming that they are a Dyad, the literal embodiment of the light and dark sides of the force was meant to be a bigger deal but despite being the best parts of the whole film, Rey and Ben didn’t get their epic battle with Palpatine, they didn’t even get to be happy together. Hollywood just didn’t want to give us the happy ending to the saga. This time, a happy ending would have made sense and no one would have complained.

After delivering such a brilliant cinematic masterpiece, Rian Johnson’s excellent story telling was ignored, negated and just plain disrespected by JJ. Johnson gave us a Rose Tico. JJ just cut her out of the story, even getting her to actively say she’ll miss out on the adventure to do some paper work or study something. Appalling. Finn, who was and is force sensitive was reduced to just screaming everyone’s names, mostly Rey’s. Finn and Rose were great characters, but clearly all JJ and Chris cared about was….was….actually no idea. Did they even care at all? They cared enough to put out rumours of Poe Dameron being gay. They definitely spent time on that. Even adding in a whole new female character from his past to flirt with a bit. Pointless. Oscar Isaacs has said that Poe was gay so I’ll take the actor who advocated for FinnPoe or StormPilot to be cannon. We were robbed of a genuine pairing here. These were just the tip of the iceberg. With plot holes and pointless detours galore such as why bother making Hux a spy just to kill him seconds later? How the hell did Palpatine survive the Death Star, really, how? Cryptic warbling doesn’t cut it. Where is Ben? He wasn’t a force ghost at the end so where is he? Why was Rey more emotional when she healed Ben than when he died? Actually, I can answer that, he wasn’t meant to die. Who the hell had sex with Palpatine? How the hell did Rey’s parents manage to be anonymous for so long? What was the point of death teasing C3PO and Chewie, seriously what was the point?? Also why the hell did Disney and LucasFilm think this terrible mess of a film would satisfy fans and non-fans alike? Its not even a case of all those who liked TLJ hate TROS, it’s a mix of hate and ‘meh, it was ok’. They wanted to avoid further discourse but instead shot themselves in the head with this mess. They could have just given what we all wanted, they would have made money either way.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Jojo Rabbit

Even though I saw this last year at LFF, here’s my review of Jojo Rabbit, besser sp├Ąt als nie.

Going into a Taika Waititi film there is an expectation these days. Before with his earlier releases you literally went into the cinema no knowing what you’d get but you knew you’d be laughing. Looking over his past films, Thor aside, there’s been an odd mix of wonderfully wacky characters within stories exploring love, abandonment, grief, boyhood and usually featuring an odd pairing. ‘Jojo Rabbit’ is all of these elements rolled into one, but the difference between all the past creations and Jojo is that, this is a war film. This is something to bare in mind when going into Taika’s latest with expectations.

‘Jojo Rabbit’’s plot had been loosely explained as the film where Waititi plays Hitler as an imaginary friend of a ten-year-old boy which is literally all you need to know about the film’s plot. But just to add a bit more clarity the film is set in Germany, weeks before the end of second World War. Jojo is an avid member of the Hitler Youth Organisation but after a traumatic incident, he starts to doubt his allegiance to the cause, despite having Hitler as his imaginary friend. His doubts become greater when he discovers that his mother has been hiding a Jewish teenage girl in their home and has to decide whether to turn her in or not.

With star studded cast fleshing out the supporting adult roles, the younger cast are given the main part of the drama which is the real strength of the story. The comedic tone overall is hilarious, poking obvious fun at the Nazi’s and their beliefs about Jews and how they functioned, even to the end of the war and the fall of Germany. The humour is dark in places but as this is a war film, its expected and is still enjoyable for the most part. Waititi’s Hitler is a highlight and brilliantly ludicrous, as in one scene he is seen eating a unicorn, but he actually features less than you’d imagine, which in story terms make sense. All the scenes with Jojo and Elsa, the Jewish teen, played fantastically by Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie are a delight, watching their tentative friendship unfold. Archie Yates as Jojo’s friend Yorki is just so adorable and steals a few scenes. With Scarlett Johansson as Jojo’s mother and Sam Rockwell on absolute top form as a German Officer, the adult and mainly comedic cast round out the story but this film really does belong to the young cast.

There are laughs to be had and comedy is the film’s second nature, war being its first, the balance between the two does work. Smaller elements such as famous pop songs sung in German and random cardboard costumes thrown just give the film that Waititi touch. Overall the film feels like an step towards the unknown which I welcome as I always look forward to what he’ll come up with next.