Downsizing – Brand New Trailer & Clips!

Downsizing is an absurd idea. That’s not to say it won’t be amazing, merely that the entire premise is borderline insane.

The film is what appears to be a sci-fi comedy with more emphasis on the former than the latter. Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig play a happily married couple who are offered the chance, along with everyone else in the world to be shrunk down to a minuscule size in order to help prevent overpopulation.

The way the smaller world is presented, it looks to be a near utopic paradise. But it seems to be missing something. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and for a more sinister twist to happen before the film’s finale…

Downsizing is coming to cinemas soon!

Victoria & Abdul – Review

A long dinner table sits centre of an opulent room. Men adorned in bright red wait with bated breath as they prepare for a very special ceremony. A party of the upper-classes trickles into the room somewhat excited to dine with Queen Victoria. But this is to be another monotonous moment for Her Majesty, the start of an exhausting routine. The food is quickly gobbled, the speed dictated by the gluttonous feeding of the Queen, and she is falling into a tedious sleep. From the wings comes one eager man and another more belligerent one who have been pulled all the way from India to present a special commemorative coin (the Mughal) to Queen Victoria. Despite the hefty instructions, the former glances cheekily at Her Majesty, locking eyes with her…

…and thus our story begins.

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Victoria & Abdul is the latest film from acclaimed British filmmaker Stephen Frears. Starring Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, and Eddie Izzard, it unlocks the true but hidden story of the titular characters: One being the second-longest reigning British monarch, and the other an Indian servant. Despite the different cultures, Victoria warms to Abdul, promoting him from visitor to Munchy, a Muslim spiritual advisor who teaches her the ways of his religion and his life in India. For Abdul, he is able to elevate himself through pure generosity and kindness. Together, they make quite a pair, much to the chagrin of those around them.

Indeed, it is the pairing at the centre of Frears’ movie that propels the movie forward. The  actress Dame Judi Dench presents an astonishing performance as Queen Victoria. At the beginning, she is a cantankerous, selfish, and greedy monarch with twisted pursed lip and a grouched laziness. Even then, Dench layers her with understanding and an inherent loneliness, echoing from being widowed for ten years. With the arrival of Abdul, Dench makes her youthful, filling her with adolescent fancy and pure joy that is radiant throughout the film. It is a beautiful unravelling that such a competent and impeccable actress.

Opposite her is Indian actor Ali Fazal. His role as Abdul is a puppy-eyed and elated, irresistible and charming, willing to open the audience up to his world as he does to the Queen. Fazal is terrific, and his almost child-like approach to the world should be revered. His excitability at the beginning lends more visceral emotions to the sadder elements here, allowing Fazal to show an incomparable range. Dench and Fazal have an on-screen chemistry filled with wit, laughter, and amusement, able to adapt to this century old story and unearth its bliss.

Surrounding them are lavish costumes and regal locations not previously seen on screen, adding a  grandeur to the proceedings.  In some manner, they are do imbue you with an irritation, the luxury of monarchy seems so insanely out of touch with our modern society and viewpoint of the Royals. It is rather gorgeous to look at though, with a blend of outfits from Victorian England and India, a testament Consolata Boyle’s enriching costume design.

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There is a saccharine sweet approach to the Empire through Frears direction and Lee Hall’s script and it will certainly bristle with some people. The tensions overseas are rarely touched upon and the trauma Queen Victoria’s reign caused to those countries in her ruling is skirted over. Despite the somewhat lack of depth, the story brings the race issues and prejudices into the houses of the Royal Family. Namely in the form of Bertie, Edward VI, played with scorn and understanding by a ferociously good Eddie Izzard. He and a band of staff scheme and ploy to displace Karim, plunging the delightful film into turbulence and bleak honesty.

While there is a soft look at the Empire’s treatment of the colonised countries and the overall sentiment of the film is a queasily agreeable one, there are moments of darkness and unrest. Capturing this perfectly is Adeel Akhtar (a seriously underrated actor) as Mohammad, Abdul’s begrudging friend. Pursued by Bertie, Akhtar spits that Karim has “made fools of them all,” a scathing and insightful insult. And here is what we have to remember, about those prejudice entitled racists, understanding and love will make fools of them all.

Victoria & Abdul is out 15th September 

Short Circuit: Dirty Books

There’s one key thing that sticks out in films, above most other things; passion. A film is instantly more enjoyable when you can see clear as day that the people making it were in love with it, and even when the execution isn’t great, it can elevate the film and speak volumes about those behind the camera.

I’m not trying to imply that Dirty Books is at all a bad film; the 15 minute short, revolving around a young school news paper editor who’s distraught when he’s told the publication will be now be made digitally, and conjures up a number of schemes to keep it alive, is honestly really impressive. But there are certain moments that don’t hit and certain performances that are a little lacking. These just don’t matter though, because everyone is having a good time doing it. Zachary Lapierre set out to make a great film, and his dedication to his craft really shines.

What’s perhaps most impressive about the film is taking a reasonably simplistic idea and turning it into something so much more. For a film about kids, it’s got a very adult approach and doesn’t fall into traps that easily could have happened when making a film in this setting with these kinds of characters. It doesn’t particularly feel cliche’d or overdone, but rather, takes all of it’s elements and works on them to their absolute best, culminating in a well thought out and very satisfying ending.

As I say, it’s not consistently well done, but there’s so much passion going in the making of it that it doesn’t truly matter. Dirty Books is a well written, well shot, and very enjoyable little adventure that deserves a lot of praise.

Find out more about Fitch Fort Films! 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Review

Welcome back to my adventure through the filmography of one of the most iconic filmmaker’s of all time, Steven Spielberg. We’re skipping ahead a little here; The Sugarland Express and Jaws were his next films, but not only is Close Encounters of the Third Kind getting a brand new Blu-Ray release, it’s also kicking off the BFI’s Spielberg season this weekend, so the other two reviews will come in due course but for now, let’s take a look at one of the most revered Sci-Fi films of all time.

Close Encounters was a passion project for Spielberg; it’s based on his 1965 film Firelight (Most of which is now sadly lost), and stars Richard Dreyfuss as an electrician who plays witness to UFOs flying through the sky and becomes obsessed with discovering what they are and why they’re here, driven to near insanity. Some of the most iconic imagery of his career came from this film, including the shots of Barry opening the door to red mist, the flying saucer descending on top of the mountain and the aliens themselves stepping out of the ship. Somehow I’d never gotten round to this one before, even though I’ve owned the 30th anniversary boxset on Blu-Ray for quite some time now. Three different versions are available on the disc, but I opted for the 1977 original, and whilst I’m not blown away, I’m certainly impressed.

As is evident with every Spielberg film up until this point, he really loves what he’s doing; of course, this film holds a lot more sentimental value to him so it makes sense that it would be so lovingly crafted, but every frame of this film is perfectly constructed. Every bit of lighting, every line of dialogue, every track of the score etc. This entire film is rich with ingenuity and passion. It’s almost awe inspiring, definitely ranking among the most breathtaking of his filmography. The film is far from a horror, yet at times you could easily believe it was, like the scene where Barry gets abducted and all the windows and shutters start opening, and they can’t escape the aliens’ presence. It’s incredibly tense, and quite threatening when you consider we have no idea what these aliens want. The performances are excellent too; we know Spielberg loves his “every man” heroes and Richard Dreyfuss is fantastic at it. Their work together isn’t quite as good as it is in Jaws (Close Encounters itself isn’t as good as Jaws), but it’s a combo that works. His paranoia and obsession is so convincing. When you think about it, his exposure to UFOs happens very quickly, there’s barely any time to gather what happened or give him some proper development, yet straight off the bat we know exactly what’s going on with him, and he carries the entire film.


Still, this film isn’t without issues. The main one is it’s pace; of the four films so far, Jaws is the only one that doesn’t suffer with being slow. The film does hit serious lulls that aren’t too damaging, however you really do feel time go by. On top of that, there really is only one interesting character in the film, and that’s Roy. I suppose you could argue for Jillian, but even then, she’s kind of boring. This wouldn’t be such a problem if there weren’t scenes dedicated to other characters like the government official types who are boring as all hell. And whilst this isn’t really an issue, your experience with the film can vary based on what your expectations are. If you’re expecting this film to be heavy on extra terrestrials, you may be quite bored; this is a film about aliens, but it’s not really about THE aliens. Their presence is chilling and exciting and always felt, but this is very much a character driven film. Luckily I didn’t really know what to expect going in so I wasn’t affected, but I could see how somebody expecting a lot of outer space goodness would be seriously disappointed.

It has its flaws but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives in this Sci-Fi classic. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is an experience, and one that I imagine is even better on the big screen so make sure you go check it out the BFI Southbank for a truly spectacular time. Join us soon for reviews of The Sugarland Express and Jaws, then we can get 1941 out of the way (Really not looking forward to that one) and finally get to Indiana Jones. Stay tuned, folks.

Watch it at The Ritzy 
Mon 18 Sep, 8.30!