The Glass Castle – Review

Family. That is a word designed to keep us loyal. A safety net for our species where blood and kin circle with one another as though our trust and love protect us from villainy and strife.

But it is also a word that keeps us locked in abuse, blindly following our parents no matter what. It keeps children stuck in the chains of their parents, lost as to how they could break free from the damaging relationships are shifting and evolving us for the worse.

With everything that messes us up in our lives, it is family, and parents, that are the factors impacting us the most.

In The Glass Castle, the idea of family loyalty is challenged by dysfunction.

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Based on the memoirs of journalist Jeanette Walls, the movie follows a family led by impoverished and alcoholic father Rex. Rather than lead a conventional life, he bounces from house to house, squatting until they are forced to move again. The children are effectively left to fend for themselves; at a young age Jeanette is burnt badly whilst cooking food, they are mainly out of education, and Rex winds up passed out whilst their mother fixates on him or her art.   Flitting between flashbacks and the present, Jeanette reminisces on her turbulent past when her parents came back into her life, and truly how they affected her.

Because comparisons are inevitable, The Glass Castle is the bleaker version of Captain Fantastic. The latter, however, is based in (imperfect) ideals that come from a genuinely good place. In The Glass Castle, however, Rex’s ideologies are affected by his alcoholism. Submerged within deep-seated trauma, Rex cannot seem to break a cycle of neglect and impoverishment that have a negative impact on the people around him, particularly his children. With Jeanette as the focus, director Destin Daniel Cretton, who gifted us with Short Term 12, we learn the imbalance it causes when you are older and how the scars run deeper into adulthood. Juxtaposing her childhood life with the one she’s tried to make for herself, Cretton works two sides of the story, connected by this harrowing life.

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Brie Larson as the lead is admirable and superb. The Academy Award Winner rallies through different versions of Jeanette as she comes face to face with the life she was forced to live. As a young teenager or an accomplished woman, Larson layers Jeanette with this fierceness and pain – a determination to get away from her bullying and controlling father.  Rex is played by Woody Harrelson and it’s about time we just gave him all the awards. Harrelson immerses himself into the role, excavating the echoes of suffering that ultimately reverberate on his own children. Filled with shame and pride, Rex is a towering man and Harrelson embodies the role entirely and perfectly.

The titular Glass Castle serves as a metaphor for a dream neither Rex or Jeanette will ever meet thanks to Rex’s shortcomings. The film never quite reaches complete potential in the same manner, and it seems as though Rex’s abuse is skirted over towards the end of the film. Yet running through the credits are the real family and in their reverence you can see a nuance to how we should approach our own trauma.

For anyone who has been through similar issues, it is an affecting and powerful film to watch.

The Glass Castle is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 


The Cloverfield Paradox – Review

It’s a bold move. It’s a very bold movie. It’s an exciting, terrific, and bold move.

For as you wake this sleepy Monday morning, you’ll wake to a brand new Cloverfield movie. That’s right: in a somewhat  familiar move from the trilogy, they’ve completely dropped a whole goddamn film right onto the streaming site Netflix. No press advance, no actual trailer, no idea.

And, as of now, at 3.51am GMT, there’s not even an IMDB page. It’s an interesting step for Netflix and J.J. Abrams, series producer, and we’re all a little bit gobsmacked .

So, as film journalists and critics race against time to be the first to watch The Cloverfield Paradox, is the film worth a watch?

Yes, almost certainly.

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Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, Daniel Bruhl, David Oyelowo, and John Ortiz, the film revolves around a space station floating above earth doing some kind of bizarre test following a serious incident on the planet. With engineers and scientists from all over, the objective of their mission is unclear. However, with tensions mounting, it is imperative that they keep their wits about them as horror lurks upon their space station.

I’ll keep the plot as that because I don’t want to spoil anything for you as you should go in as fresh as possible. In fact, go watch it and then come back to discuss.

Directed by Julius Onah, The Cloverfield Paradox is an amalgamation of a lot of space-station survival movies. Basic monster plots such as Alien and Life combine with mind-bending films such as Interstellar and, yes, even Doctor Who. These main allusions come from the ship’s production design and the panic-induced struggle to stay alive and figure out what’s going on. This isn’t a criticism because it’s hard to be truly original in space travel movies but it is one that marks against an otherwise brilliant film.

The mysterious toe-curling plot spins through elements as dazzling and as terrifying as space can be. This is a movie where you’ll constantly mutter under your breath “what the fuck?,” increasing the infliction and volume until you are wailing it at the screen. It’s not just a movie where confusing moments happen, spiralling out of control through space, it is one weighted by emotion and mystery that’ll bewilder yet brilliantly entertain. It helps that that is a subplot on Earth which reminds you on the movies centre.

Though there are similarity’s to other films, the performances are superb. The movie is a pretty progressive one in terms of cast with a whole array of characters on the ship including Zhang Ziyi’s Tam who speaks pure Mandarin for the entirety of the film, master actor David Oyelowo, and the elusive and beguiling Elzabeth Dibicki. Each performer has there own entity and part to play within the film, though most are outshone by the charismatic and hilarious Chris O’Dowd whose line delivery is simply brilliant.

That being said, Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Ava Hamilton is spectacular. This is her film: A desperate mother looking for the answers in a world falling apart. She anchors the movie with humanity and grips you into the drama. Mbatha-Raw is an great lead who absorbs you into her plight, both on the space station and in her personal life. It’s an astonishing role, catapulting the actress further into the stratosphere of stardom.

Similarly to 10 Cloverfield Lane, there are only faint connections to the first and second film. However, the idea that this franchise could spiral off in many different directions, dipping into many different genres means that there are endless possibilities. Cloverfield doesn’t had to (and probably wont), end here.

For now, The Cloverfield Paradox is an entertaining adventure into J.J. Abrams world, led, once again,  by phenomenal performances.

The Cloverfield Paradox is available on Netflix now. 

If Beale Street Could Talk – Review

With Academy Award winner Moonlight (honestly, it thrills me so much to still say that,) Barry Jenkins showed the world that he was not just a talented filmmaker, but he was an innovative one too. Not just by his story structure or the stirring cinematography, but by the gifted way he can find a voice and a character…

A voice and a character midst the silence. The beating heart of a person in the chaos of life. The stirring truth of identity and sexuality. Barry Jenkins is adept at all of this and more. So when his next project – If Beale Street Could Talk – was announced, the whole film world was gripped to see what he’d produce next.

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Based on a novel by James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk revolves around young woman Tish and her partner Fonny who are living in 1960s New York. Fonny is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison just as the pair are about to start their lives. When Tish announces that she is pregnant, her family and his move forward to help exonerate him from prison. But when his accuser disappears and the only witness is also arrest, all hope for Tish and Fonny seems to fritter away. Can the pair gain their happy ever after?

If Beale Street Could Talk is a sublime exploration of love and prejudice. By concentrating on the centric pair, director Barry Jenkins concocts a glorious display of emotion and spends a heft of the film showing just how connected Tish and Fonny are. As proven with his previous film, Jenkins truly is a story-teller who can produce believably and earnest depictions of love and here is no different. Tish and Fonny feel real – as though actors Stephan James and KiKi Layne just so happened to be a 1960’s couple – and that helps you invest in their pairing.

There is also a great and sensitive exploration of the racism that impacts the day to day life of black people. With clear allusions to what is happening right now, and also montages of photographs, there is a clear comment on the trauma and prejudice people of colour suffered from (and still do.) Brutish police officers who never forget a face to Brian Tyrell Harvey’s speech on fear, it is never forgotten that black people have agonized from atrocities that are still prevalent in America today.

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Added to this is the absolutely incandescent cinematography and cinematic language. The movie flits through flashbacks and sequences similarly to Moonlight but without ever dipping into confusion. It portrays New York in an era soaked light with some achingly gorgeous use of colour. Through James Laxton’s impeccable eye, the film is a vibrant and lush cityscape of imagery and emotion. It’s simply beautiful to watch.

Nicholas Brittel’s sublime score is emotive. Within minutes of the film, you’ll find yourself already pushed to the emotional edge with it all.  Jenkins has not only proved that he is far from a one-trick director, but he also has his own particular style and cinematic brand. With If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’ has proven himself to be our most engaged and exciting filmmaker.

If Beale Street Could Talk is out on select cinemas from Friday
It is out nationwide on the 14th of February. 

Mission: Impossible Fallout – Brand New Trailer!

Ah yes, it is the return of that series which sees Tom Cruise running, recklessly doing stunts, and amazing action sequences. This time it’s Mission: Impossible Fallout. 

Starring Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and  Alec Baldwin, the film revolves around yet ANOTHER mission that goes wrong for Ethan Hunt and his IMF team. Welp.

It’s going to be a good action flick, especially with Christopher McQuarrie returning in the directors chair. There’s also Angela Bassett. ANGELA BASSETT!  What do you think?

Mission: Impossible Falout is out 26th July 

Skyscraper – Brand New Trailer!

Dwayne Johnson is our ultimate movie hero at the moment and now he returns in action thriller Skyscraper. 

Like a mash-up of Towering Inferno and San Andreas, the movie revolves around an ex-CIA operative who is now Head of Security for the largest Skyscraper in the world. But old enemies come a knocking, kidnapping his family, and locking them in the burning building. Yelp. Now he’s their only hope.

Look, I’d happily watch Dwayne Johnson leap from a  toddlers tricycle into a shell pool. What do you think?

Skyscraper is out later this year! 

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Brand New Clips & Footage

There has been a lot of Chewbacca style wailing over this Star Wars prequel. From Christopher Miller and Phill Lord pulling out to rumours of re-shoots, there has never been such drama with a Star Wars film (cough cough cough.)

Regardless, excitement pushes forward as a brand new teaser lands on the internet ahead of a full trailer tomorrow.

The movie, obviously, revolves around Han Solo and his mission to become the best pilot in the galaxy.

With Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clark, and Donald Glover, this could be very exciting. What do you think?

Also see the photos from last night’s premiere!

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Solo: A Star Wars Story is out later this year!