Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

88th Academy Awards- Predictions

 

Oscars
Image credit: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Well it is that time of year again! Awards season in the world of movies, and Hollywood’s biggest night in the form of the Oscars has arrived!  The bow ties will be being tied, the dresses will have been chosen Well what a year of movies we have had! The 2007/08 housing crisis, A return to a galaxy far far away, eight angry strangers stuck in a blizzard, the scandal of the Catholic Priests abuse, the return of an icon of cinema in Rocky Balboa, Cold War drama, and a romance between two women and many more. Lots of great movies and great performances, but as usual a lot of snubs too, most notably in the acting categories

Controversially, for the second year running, all 20 of the acting nominees are white, leading to the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag trending throughout social media. Some have elected to even boycott the ceremony in response to this snub. While there were opportunities for the Academy to nominate some incredible performances from some talented black actors and directors, the problem is more to do with Hollywood itself rather than the Academy.  It is important that the Academy is taking measures to do something about this, because it is a problem, and one that you would hope we don’t see again when it comes to the 89th Academy Awards in 12 months time.

Anyhow, tonight will be the night that the all the hard work of all the actors, directors, composers, cinematographers, costume designers, sound editors, visual effects will be recognised, but of course there can only be one winner in this category, and so I give you my hopes and predictions for this year’s awards, as well as some of those who I feel could have been nominated. Let’s get started!

Best Supporting Actor:

5 remarkable performances from all here, and perhaps the most open category of all the acting nominations, Stallone and Rylance have both been claiming the honours throughout awards season, so one would think it’s between them. Tom Hardy was a massive surprise nod, given he did not at all feature in any of the awards shows previously, but his inclusion is well deserved, whilst Mark Ruffalo’s turn in the journalism drama Spotlight was heart-wrenching to watch, but very powerful and arguably a career best work from him. I would like to see Ruffalo triumph but I think this one is Sly’s for the taking.

Who I think will win: Sylvester Stallone

Who I think should win: Mark Ruffalo

Who I think should have been nominated: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) or Jacob Tremblay (Room)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh- The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara- Carol
  • Rachel McAdams- Spotlight
  • Alicia Vikander- The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet- Steve Jobs

Another very open category, and again a good batch of performances. Kate Winslet has been taking some of the awards for her work in Steve Jobs, but Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara have received wide praise for their work in The Danish Girl and Carol respectively, but some have argued that these ladies should be in the lead actress categories, while Vikander should arguably be nominated for her magnificent work in Ex Machina. While Jennifer Jason Leigh’s work in The Hateful Eight was also excellent, and was one of the standouts in a very well acted film. It’s going to be a very tight contest.

Who I think will win: Kate Winslet

Who I think should win: Jennifer Jason Leigh

Who I think should have been nominated: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)

Best Original Screenplay

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

This category is not the strongest it could be, Quentin Tarantino’s work on The Hateful Eight  is a notable absentee from this list, and while I immensely enjoyed his work, it was not his finest writing not by a long shot. The clear favourite among this year’s crop is Spotlight, a movie that was driven by dialogue that was just enthralling to watch, and really made you think when the credits began to roll, it’s odds on and one would have few complaints should it emerge victorious. That said, Ex Machina was also insanely gripping, while Inside Out, as well as being my favourite movie of 2015, could arguably lay claim to be Pixar’s finest work. Nevertheless, this is Spotlight’s to lose.

What I think will win: Spotlight

What I think should win: Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay

A category that is much stronger than its counterpart. The Big Short has been taking many awards in this awards season, and while it was funny it places, I really feel it fell flat in places as it just overloaded the audience with too much economical mumbo jumbo that unless they were well versed in the subject, it would sail over their heads. Emma Donoghue’s Room was a dark but uplifting tale, while Drew Goddard made one man’s solitude on Mars, a lot funnier than it could and maybe should have been. The Big Short is definitely the favourite though.

What I think will win: The Big Short

What I think should win: The Martian

What I think should have been nominated: Aaron Sorkin- Steve Jobs

Best Animated Feature

  • Anomalisa
  • Boy & The World
  • Inside Out
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • When Marnie Was There

This seems to be a two horse race between Inside Out and Anomalisa, which is yet to reach UK shores, but has received a lot of praise. However I cannot see anything dethroning Pixar’s work of utter genius.

What I think will win: Inside Out

Best Original Score

  • Bridge of Spies- Thomas Newman
  • Carol- Carter Burwell
  • The Hateful Eight– Ennio Morricone
  • Sicario-  Jóhann Jóhannsson
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens- John Williams

As much as I enjoyed John Williams’s score for our return to a far away galaxy, Ennio Morricone’s work on The Hateful Eight was incredible and will probably take home the award.

Who I think will win: The Hateful Eight

Who I think should win: The Hateful Eight

Best Costume Design

  • Carol- Sandy Powell
  • Cinderella- Sandy Powell
  • The Danish Girl- Paco Delgado
  • Mad Max Fury Road– Jenny Beavan
  • The Revenant- Jacqueline West

Who I think will win: Cinderella

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Revenant

Who I think will win: Mad Max Fury Road

Best Visual Effects

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

What should have been nominated: Ant Man

Best Film Editing

  • The Big Short- Hank Corwin
  • Mad Max: Fury Road- Margaret Sixel
  • The Revenant- Stephen Mirrione
  • Spotlight- Tom McArdle
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens- Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

The editing in The Big Short really bugged me and is one of my main gripes about the film, its editing is scrappy and made to look almost like a documentary, whereas it just looked really scrappy. The editing in Mad Max was crisp, likewise with the Force Awakens, so I would like to see either of those two win, although Big Short is the favourite, undeservedly so in my opinion.

Who I think will win: The Big Short

Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Cinematography

  • Carol- Ed Lachman
  • The Hateful Eight- Robert Richardson
  • Mad Max: Fury Road- John Seale
  • The Revenant- Emmanuel Lubezki
  • Sicario- Roger Deakins

Despite an incredible 13 nominations and not a single win, Roger Deakins is one of the finest cinematographers working today. Yet I cannot see anything usurping Emmanuel Chivo Lubezki from claiming a hatrick of Oscar wins, and it would be well deserved as The Revenant is visually breath-taking with every single shot, although a win for Deakins would be well deserved.

Who I think will win: Emmanuel Lubezki

Who I think should win: Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Sound Editing

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Sicario

Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens or The Martian

Best Sound Mixing

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Director

  • Adam McKay- The Big Short
  • George Miller- Mad Max Fury Road
  • Lenny Abrahamson- Room
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu- The Revenant
  • Tom McCarthy- Spotlight

Last year’s in this category, Mr Iñárritu is looking good to win again for his terrific work on the Revenant, and his main competitor is probably George Miller. The Australian showed how to film and direct an action movie, and he did it without a shaky camera in sight. Lenny Abrahamson’s work in Room was also quite an acheivement to be fair, A win for one of those three would be more than a fair decision but I think Alejandro Iñárritu will do the double.

Who I think will win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Who I think should win: George Miller

Who I think should have been nominated: Ryan Coogler (Creed) or JJ Abrams (Star Wars- The Force Awakens)

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett- Carol
  • Brie Larson- Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence- Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling- 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan- Brooklyn

While she remains one of my favourite actresses, and her performance was the bright spark, Jennifer Lawrence does not deserve to be the one clutching the statue this time around, and for me is fortunate to be nominated at all. Cate Blanchett did do some amazing work in Carol, but it would be a major shock if Brie Larson doesn’t triumph. Her work in Room was heartbreaking to watch, but she gave a terrific performance that is absolutely deserving of an award. However, two ladies I do think deserved nods here are Charlize Theron and Daisy Ridley. The former outshone Tom Hardy in Mad Max, while Ridley delivered a superb breakthrough performance in the year’s biggest movie. She stole the show and even though it’s a blockbuster, she deserved it. Even if they had both been nominated, this is Larson’s trophy.

Who I think will win: Brie Larson 

Who I think should win: Brie Larson 

Who I think should have been nominated: Charlize Theron (Mad Max Fury Road) and Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

 Best Actor

  • Bryan Cranston- Trumbo
  • Matt Damon-  The Martian
  • Leonardo DiCaprio- The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender- Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne- The Danish Girl

Like the lead actor category, this one is almost certainly nailed on to be the moment Leonardo DiCaprio FINALLY wins that Oscar. He would absolutely deserve it as his work in the Revenant was truly extraordinary. I mean, eating raw liver to get into the role is commitment. Michael Fassbender did do a great job as Steve Jobs, and Matt Damon’s work in The Martian was also top notch, but I cannot see The Academy giving this award to anyone other than Leo, sixth time’s a charm (hopefully)

Who I think will win: Leonardo DiCaprio 

Who I think should win: Leonardo DiCaprio 

Who I think should have been nominated: Michael B Jordan (Creed)

Best Picture

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

With ten slots open I don’t understand why the Academy chose to nominate only eight as there were more than enough good films to give the final two slots to. And while I feel that the majority of these movies do deserve to be up for this award, The Big Short is for me extremely fortunate to be up there. Nevertheless, out of those scrapping for the honour, the three top contenders in my eyes, are The Revenant, Spotlight and Mad Max Fury Road. While Mad Max did fall a bit short for me in terms of its script (weak villain mainly) it was an enthralling time and impressive given its long spell in development hell. The Revenant has got its BAFTA triumph going for it but Spotlight has been taking some crowns along the way too, so it’s an open race. Any of the three would be deserving winners but I have a sneaking suspicion that The Revenant will take the top prize, but Mad Max or Spotlight may yet sneak a win.

Who I think will win: The Revenant

Who I think should win: Spotlight or The Revenant

Who I think should have been nominated: Inside Out, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ex Machina

 

Whatever happens, the movie world should be in for a fun and enjoyable evening!

Advertisements
Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Scott Pilgrim VS The World (2010)

scott pilgrim vs the world
All image rights belong to Big Talk Films and Universal Pictures

Scott Pilgrim VS The World – Film Review

Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman,

Director: Edgar Wright

Synopsis: Scott Pilgrim is a 22 year old who is on a road to nowhere until he meets a girl he rather likes. Only problem is that in order to win his affection he has to battle all of her exes.

Review: Movies based off video games do not have a good record of being any good, and for the most part, they do struggle to achieve greatness. and some are just flat out terrible. However every so often, one movie comes along that uses elements from video games in order to tell the story. 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow for instance, with the constant re-spawning. Edgar Wright’s 2010 offering, with the screenplay penned by Wright and Michael Bacall, adapting from the series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, also uses video game elements. It does this whilst also telling a love story, and uses them to brilliant, if slightly bonkers results, and one that will make anyone watching, their inner nerd extremely happy.

The focus of the story is Scott (Cera), a guy who no doubt many men who watch this movie will relate to. He looks for the direction in life, whilst striving to achieve greatness for his band, whilst also trying to win the affections of that special girl. Lo and behold he stumbles across the the girl of his dreams, in this instance it’s Ramona Flowers (Winstead.) Yet unbeknown to Scott, this lady has seven evil exes that Scott must do battle with, Tekken and Soul Calibur style, in order to win over her affection. Wright manages to fuse video game like tropes and live action very well, and the battles with the exes are somewhat ridiculous, but they are extremely entertaining to watch. There are some quirky and unique methods that Wright inserts throughout the film in order to tell the story, and sometimes to convey the awkwardness in some situations. The whole fight scenes are just like if video games, anime and movies all merged into one glorious package.

Romance in movies like these can sometimes feel forced and shoehorned into the story, but in this instance, not so. There is strong chemistry between Scott and Ramona, and you want to see them make it work, there is just the small matter of those crazy exes that Scott has to deal with, including battles with a former Superman in Brandon Routh and a pre-Captain America Chris Evans! No one ever said the hero had it easy! Michael Cera gives a great performance as Scott, he’s dorky, and a bit useless, but you just can’t help wanting to root for him. As Ramona, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, also brings her A game as Ramona, she’s not that weirdo ex, but a friend and someone Scott can turn to as he battles through the crazy exes. The rest of the cast including the likes of Anna Kendrick and Jason Schwartzman all play their roles brilliantly.

If you were to try and compare this film to another movie, you’d be hard pressed to find one similar. It’s a very unique film in this regard, and one that if it had been placed in the wrong hands, could have failed badly. Fortunately as it was in Wright’s very capable hands, it passed with flying colours. The quirky humour that Wright is brilliant, is packed throughout the film and it works perfectly. The opening of the movie is a little sluggish and slow to get going, but once the console of the film is fired up, the entertainment and the laughs will carry on all the way to the credits. This is a perfect example of a video game movie done right, even though it is not based on a video game. Nevertheless, for video game lovers out there, this is your movie.

Original, unique and very entertaining, with some top performances and some ridiculously funny fight scenes and video game references aplenty, to make the nerd in all of us extremely happy! 

a

Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Taken (2008)

taken-poster
Image rights belong to EuropaCorp, M6 Films, Grive Productions Canal+, TPS Star, M6, All Pictures Media. Wintergreen Productions. Dune Entertainment

Taken – Film Review

Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen

Director: Pierre Morel

Synopsis: When Bryan Mills (Neeson) a retired CIA agent finds out his daughter has been kidnapped half way across the world, he utilises all the resources he can to try and rescue her, before it is too late.

Review: If you have kids, chances are high that those kids are pretty special and important to you, or if you’re a kid who’s loved by your folks. So if you found out your child who had gone travelling around the world, had been kidnapped, you’d probably get in contact with the government and hope they are in a position to do something about it, and hope and pray for your child’s safe return. Well not for Bryan Mills, a former CIA operative who, decides to use all of his skills over his career and pools together all of his resources in a bid to rescue his beloved daughter from some nasty folks who have sinister plans for her.

With a script written by Leon director Luc Besson, and Robert Mark Kamen, our story revolves around Mills, his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and his estranged wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and after agreeing to let her go travelling, Bryan finds himself in a race against time to get her back after she has been kidnapped, before he will never find her ever again. The film is slow to get out of the blocks, but it does ensure there is character development. You do understand the emotion Bryan has for his daughter, but is very reluctant to let her go, thus straining his relationship not only with his daughter and also his already estranged wife.

Once Bryan lands in Paris, after he has had the galling experience of hearing his daughter’s kidnapping, the film picks really begins to pick up. Offering  plenty of very intense action sequences that are, for the most part, very well handled. The camera-work is fast and the scenes are cut very quickly, particularly during the many chase sequences that are packed throughout this film. As Bryan pummels bad guy after bad guy and will stop at nothing to get her back, and that means killing as many bad guys as possible. It is insanely fun to watch Neeson be a complete badass and he totally convinces as an action movie star.

There are moments to allow the audience to catch their breath, and of course there is Neeson’s now famous line which has been parodied to death but it’s still enthralling viewing.  It’s a simple plot and for sure is a little bit silly at times, but seeing Neeson beat the shit out of some bad guys, who are admittedly maybe a little too stereotypical, is just very enjoyable to watch. There is one torture scene that has caused a bit of controversy for its brutality. But nevertheless, Taken is pulsating action done right in just about every way possible, if perhaps just a little too short at 94 minutes.

 A thrilling ride in which Neeson reinvented his career as a badass action movie star with some top notch action scenes, and one very memorable line of dialogue. 

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Deadpool (2016)

Deadpool-poster-2

Image rights belong to Marvel, Kingberg Genre, TSG Entertainment and 20th Century Fox

Deadpool – Film Review

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, TJ Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Ed Skrein

Director: Tim Miller

Synopsis: When an operation goes awry for former mercenary Wade Wilson, he gains super healing abilities and adopts the alter ego of “Deadpool”

Review: It kind of goes without saying that comic book movies have surged massively in popularity in recent years, becoming a staple of Hollywood in the process. However, for all the films that have graced our screens, we have yet to encounter a comic book film that pushes all the boundaries it can, and goes in directions that very few have gone in. Well, thanks to the Merc with a Mouth, we have now.

It has been a long time coming, as the film has had a difficult journey to the big screen, after being in development hell for many years.  A now infamous “appearance” in the much reviled X Men Origins: Wolverine, that infuriated the fans who felt it was not at all true to the comics. Thanks to 2014’s Days of Future Past, those events are now banished forever. When test footage leaked back in 2014, it finally prompted 20th Century Fox to move forward with a solo outing for him, one that has remained very loyal to the comics, and one that will no doubt leave hardcore Deadpool fans, very satisfied indeed.

Deadpool is not the first superhero character Ryan Reynolds has portrayed, as he had a lead role in the 2011 Green Lantern flick. But having had an interest in playing this role since 2005, it is apparent that this character is his favourite and it’s very evident he’s having enormous fun playing the role, and he’s electrifying to watch. The dark humour, the crude jokes, the profanity, the breaking of the fourth wall repeatedly, the violence. It’s all on show here and it provides the audience with some glorious entertainment right from the opening credits. In addition, the film gleefully makes light hearted pops at other films and other super hero movies with great aplomb. The laughs are packed throughout the 108 minute running time, with some violent action also thrown in there for good measure, which is tremendously well handled by Tim Miller in his directorial debut.

This is the Deadpool show, but he does have some help in the shape of steel man mountain Colussus and newbie Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who are helping him confront the man who was responsible for Wade’s disfigurement, this being Ed Skrein’s Ajax. British actors are known for their portrayals of villains,indeed the opening credits make a joke about this fact. Ed Skrein does a tremendous job with the material he’s given but his character is never properly fleshed out and is not given the ample screen time to really elevate him above the majority of the villains that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided. The action is well filmed and provides some great viewing. Lots of action with sequence after sequence can sometimes feel like overkill (Man of Steel anyone?) But while there is a fair quantity of action on show, it would have been great to see just a little bit more, as some sequences are over before they had a chance to get going.

The disappointment of 2011’s Green Lantern as well as the misfire that was his appearance in Origins: Wolverine might have killed Ryan Reynolds’ hopes of making it in the superhero world of cinema, and for a while it did kill Deadpool’s hopes of a worthy cinematic outing. Yet his dogged determination to get this adaptation of a character he has an obvious passion for is admirable. The plot is a little bit formulaic but the film’s storming box office success has already resulted in a sequel being green lit. The Merc With a Mouth has ensured that 2016’s comic book movie offerings have got off to a terrific start.

Crude, dark jokes aplenty packed with Tarantino-esque violent action scenes. This is the Deadpool film that the fans have been waiting for.

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Spotlight (2015)

spotlight-poster
Image rights belong to Anonymous Content, First Look Media, Participant Media, Rocklin/Faust and Open Road Films

Spotlight – Film Review

Cast: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, Brian D’Arcy James

Director: Tom McCarthy

Synopsis:  Telling the true story of a group of journalists working for the Boston Globe newspaper who uncover the horrific details of child molestation at the hands of Catholic priests and the subsequent attempts to hush everything up.

Review: Every so often in the world of news and current affairs, along comes a story that is so shocking and galling for a number of reasons, it would cause you to read your newspaper, watch your television, or listen to the radio with just disbelief and horror that such an event came to pass. Many stories revealing such wickedness often slip under the radar, and do not see the light of day, and that may have been the case for the subject of this powerful drama of the scandal that rocked not only the Catholic Church, but the entire world to its core. It may well have not reached the public’s attention, if it wasn’t for the grit and graft of some brave journalists.

The screenplay, penned by McCarthy and Josh Singer, which was on the 2013 Black List of unproduced screenplays pulls no punches whatsoever. The story is gripping, and disturbing at the same time. When nudged by an incoming new editor in the direction of the scandal, the team of journalists quickly begin to find something deeply disturbing, and as the film goes on, interview after interview, the full extent of the scandal emerges on the team and the full realisation of the crimes that have been committed come into view.  The dialogue scene to scene keeps the attention of the viewer transfixed on the screen. With each conversation, whether with a lawyer, some victims, some people within the church, or whoever it may be, the team show great tenacity to dig deeper and deeper scratching every surface they can until there’s a story for them to run. It’s a dialogue driven film, but when it’s written this well, it’s riveting to watch.

The ensemble cast each deliver truly excellent performances, but it’s the performances of the Spotlight team in particular that shine the brightest. After his Oscar nominated turn as a washed up superhero in Birdman, Michael Keaton delivers another excellent performance as the editor of the team that comprises of Rachel McAdams’s Sacha Pfeiffer, Mark Ruffalo’s Michael Rezendes and Brian D’Arcy James’s Matt Carroll with John Slattery’s Ben Bradlee Jr. and Liev Schreiber’s newly appointed editor Marty Baron keeping a watchful eye over things. All excel but the standout performances are that of Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, who have both gained well earned Oscar nominations for the Best Supporting Actor and Actress respectively. Ruffalo in particular has an almost Hulk-esque moment at one point when the full depravity of the scandal comes becomes very crystal clear.

With such a delicate and controversial subject matter, approaching this film cannot have been easy for McCarthy and Singer, yet it is handled tremendously well. The direction is subtle but it emphasises is firmly on the need for justice for the victims. The reporters are not patting themselves on the back and having a drink celebrating at such a big scoop, instead they’re just aghast at what they have observed during their investigation. It is uncompromisingly brutal when the penny drops and there is a need and a desire to print their story and bring the perpetrators to full justice. In this day and age when the internet is taking over the journalism and publishing industry, it just goes to show that through real grit, determination and hard work, shocking truths such as these, can be brought to the attention of the public, and full credit to the brave journalists who did so.

Uncompromisingly brutal when it comes to the subject matter, with terrific performances and excellent well written dialogue, Spotlight will shake you to your core.

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Big Short (2015)

the-big-short
Image rights belong to Plan B Entertainment, Regency Enterprises and Paramount Pictures

The Big Short  – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

Director: Adam McKay

Synopsis:  An account of a group of people who foresaw the collapse of the housing market and the crumbling of the world’s economy in 2008.

Review: When the world’s economy went pretty much to shit in the latter half of the noughties, one thing we all knew was that the global economic situation was in complete disarray, with jobs being lost and lives ruined. But the vast majority probably had no idea who was to blame, why this happened, could it have been prevented and did anyone see this enormous mess coming? The answer to all of those questions is yes, four individuals to be precise who not only saw what was coming, but decided to do something about it and challenge the banks on their greed and their failure to avoid this catastrophe. Enter Anchorman director Adam McKay and screenwriter Charles Randolph, giving the account of how the entire world’s economy crashed and burned.

The account follows three different groups of people, who at various stages foresaw the impending doom, and each goes about their responses in very interesting ways. Firstly you have Christian Bale’s drumming, no shoes wearing kind of guy who likes to listen to metal music whilst foreseeing the imminent disaster via numbers on a screen. Then we have Steve Carrell’s melancholic hedge fund manager who teams up with Ryan Gosling’s trader, and finally we have Brad Pitt’s veteran banker, aided by two newbie investors. Through these three perspectives McKay flits between them as the months go by, and the financial crash looms on the horizon. The acting from all is of a very good calibre, with Bale being the stand-out amongst the ensemble and ensuring another Oscar nomination comes his way. After his unique role in Foxcatcher, Steve Carell again shows he too is a force to be reckoned with as he, mixing grumpiness and comedy surprisingly well.

Your average viewer is in all probability not going to have much clue when it comes to explaining the reasons behind the economic crash, and lots of the economic terminology are likely to sail over their heads. Therefore in order to understand the specific terminology that the cast are speaking of, there are some amusing celebrity cameos who are there for the purposes of dumbing it down so that those audience members who are not well versed in economics are able to catch their drift. There is humour peppered throughout to keep the story flowing, something McKay knows very well from his Anchorman days, and it does to a certain extent. However due to the vast amount of financial terminology, it means the story does falter a little bit. The interest in the story does diminish, which it shouldn’t given the impact that this crash undoubtedly had on many people the world over.

McKay presents his vision of this story almost documentary like with a lot of use of hand held cam in a handful of scenes. There is also a lot of breaking the fourth wall with the characters taking the audience for a ride. Yet the breaking of the fourth wall and the use of handheld cam does not always work. The latter in particular, it makes it look a bit sloppy and badly edited. And as this style is not always implemented, the film lacks a bit of consistency in terms of delivery and tone. It tries to be both a comedy and a documentary, and while sometimes it does work, others it really doesn’t. The film is probably the best attempt at telling the story of the housing crash, but even then, unless you’re very well versed in economics and all that jazz, the film is probably going to leave the audience found wanting when the credits begin to roll.

The acting is of a very decent order, with a solid enough script but unless you’re well versed in economics and the whole crisis, you may not be as interested in the story as you perhaps ought to be.

b

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Room (2015)

room-2015
Image rights belong to Element Pictures, No Trace Camping, Film4 and A24 Films

Room – Film Review

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Synopsis:  A mother and her son are locked in a tiny room and are being held captive, and these four walls are all the boy knows of the outside world.

Review: As human beings, we all know of the world we live in. The wonders and sometimes horrors of our world can inspire, they can amaze, and they can horrify in equal measure. We’re accustomed to our surroundings, and our homes. So imagine if the four walls of a small shed were all you knew of the world, and what you called home, and you had no idea of what exists beyond those walls. Well for young Jack (Jacob Tremblay) that is exactly what he thinks. His mother on the other hand knows that there is life beyond their solitary confinement but she hasn’t seen it in seven long years after being kidnapped. But she has her little boy, and that is keeping her going through all the years of captivity and hardship that she has endured.

The screenplay, written by Emma Donoghue which is adapted from her book of the same name, is very heart-wrenching, and there are some uncomfortable moments in the early stages. There is a very obvious inspiration (if you can call it that) to the tale of one Josef Fritzl. Yet despite the hardship and somewhat lack of space that the two of them do have those rare moments of joy and happiness between them, and these are a joy to watch as the audience is almost constantly reminded of the bleak reality of their situation, this is until they make a plan to escape their captivity. Director Lenny Abrahamson does a tremendous job of putting the audience in the position of our characters, you feel as though you are in these awful surroundings with them, and through brilliant camera work, he is able to provide new views on the tiny surroundings, quite incredible considering that it’s a very small shed.

The acting on show, particularly from our two main stars is tremendous. Brie Larson especially giving a career defining performance as the troubled mother. You really feel for her character and what she’s going through and it is heart breaking to watch her go through the torment of captivity. She has been picking up plenty of awards in this awards season and she stands every chance of adding the Academy Award to her collection. Young Jacob Tremblay is also fantastic in what is one of the best child performances in a long time. He’s convinced that “room” is all that exists in the world, that people on TV are not real, and his conviction is very real and tremendously powerful. Awards have come his way too, and like with his co-star, very well deserved ones at that.

The story has some very dark moments that could make Room uncomfortable viewing for some, and while it is a very impactful script, there a few things that are left unanswered or unexplained, things that you would have thought that they would have touched upon in a bit more detail. Nevertheless, the film remains a moving story to watch, with some tremendous acting and directing, and proves just how powerful the love a mother has for her child, no matter the desperate or horrific circumstances of a situation, is truly unbreakable.

Two very powerful performances anchor this incredible story, that is both heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure

a