The Weekend Binge – Big Little Lies

I never used to be somebody who could binge watch; I found it stressful, like I was racing to the end of a show as opposed to actually watching it. That changed eventually, where I could watch multiple episodes of a show in a day, as I do now, but full TV Seasons in one day were still a no. It wasn’t until I finally sat down to watch HBO’s Big Little Lies, which I once again expected to take me a week or two, that I felt what others feel when they can’t stop watching. I watched the whole thing in a day, because I simply couldn’t stop.

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Someone’s dead; the series opens as one of the biggest community events in Monterey, California is tainted by an untimely passing, and preceding it was the tragic and twisted lives of three privileged but emotionally troubled women (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley) who found themselves struggling as their children fight, their personalities clash with others, and their pasts haunt them.

I hope I’ve done at least a little bit of justice with that synopsis; truthfully,  Big Little Lies is a far deeper barrel of drama and emotion than I could ever comfortably put into words. Much like many HBO shows, it’s a program that accelerates with every perfect line of dialogue and takes the story exactly where it needs to go. It’s mostly unpredictable, and even the things you can see coming are still exhilarating when they happen, but it’s so easy to forget about the bigger picture in this show because the drama is biting. Watching these powerful women at each other’s throats is intoxicating, but it doesn’t ever push the stereotype of bitchy women hating on each other. These relationships go far deeper than that, and are empowering to say the least. Every twist and turn this show takes is delectable,  enticing and that’s without even mentioning the stunning visuals and the addictive – and I mean addictive – soundtrack that is absolute perfection.

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But of course, these biting words would be nothing without a cast of brilliant actors to put the sting and the passion in; the two male leads do an excellent job, with Adam Scott turning in an uncommon dramatic performance that kills it, and Alexander Skaarsgaard delivers in his Emmy winning turn as psychotic Perry Wright. Zoe Kravitz is great – and her performance of Elvis Presley’s Don’t is beautiful – her majesty Laura Dern is electrifying, and Shailene Woodley is out of this world too. Woodley is very talented, and it was always a shame to see it go to waste in films like Divergent, a franchise that wasn’t good enough for it’s talent and fizzled out appropriately. It was her performances in films like The Fault in Our Stars, The Spectacular Now and The Descendants that showcased her talent, and to see her return to glory in a role that’s deeply human and unabashedly broken is fantastic. Now, the most awards have been picked up by Nicole Kidman, and don’t get me wrong, her turn as Celeste is heart wrenching and beautiful. That being said, it is a crime, and I mean an absolute crime that should be punishable by law, that Reese Witherspoon has not picked up a single award for what was easily the best TV performance of last year. I’ve never appreciated her enough; I’m not that familiar with her earlier work and my best knowledge come from her cheesy rom-coms, so imagine how floored I was when she delivered a powerhouse performance in every sense of the word. She is an unstoppable force that tears her way through every single through every word and every scene. She is heart breaking, invigorating, hilarious, infuriating, she’s everything. She is perfect.

Big Little Lies isn’t just the best TV show of 2017, it’s one of the best TV shows of all time. Season two is on the way, and Meryl Streep is joining the cast – I’m actually quite fond of her when she’s not receiving undeserved Oscar nominations – and at just seven episodes long, it’s not asking a lot from you, especially when it’s offering you a television masterpiece.

Big Little Lies is available to watch on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital services.

The Breaker Upperers – Review

New Zealand comedy has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years. That has largely been down to Taika Waititi’s gloriousness, bringing us the taste of the islands. Through films such as What We Do in the Shadows and Boy, Waititi has successfully brought the world of New Zealand to our shores without including a single hobbit.

But the countries comedic history is so much more than just Waititi. You have Peter Jackson’s comedy horrors like Bad Taste and Jonathan King’s side-splitting Black Sheep.

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Written, directed by, and starring Jackie van Beak and Madeleine Sami, The Breaker Upperers revolves around Mel and Jen, best friends who run an unusual business. It’s their job to break-up couples in many different ludicrous ways such as police offices informing that a jilted lover is missing or jealous mistresses. When an old boyfriend of Jen’s returns and a young client makes the pass at Mel, brooding issues starts to arise causing friction with the pair. Can the team solve their problems and stay as best friends?

From a great and unique premise comes a movie filled with some hilarious jokes and super one-liners. The Breaker Upperers is an entertaining comedy of oddities with some pretty surreal characters and wonderful comedic timing.

The Breaker Upperers is a riotous and darkly humorous comedy that is successful due to its leading cast. Van Beak and Sami are a brilliant on-screen duo. The pair have been knocking around Kiwi comedies for a while and it is nice to see them greatly at work in this on-point film. They work extremely well together, bouncing mirthful one-liners off one another and with style. Plus, they are completely believable as best friends. It’s the warmth of their partnership and the dry wit that make the film an accomplished film.

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Yes, for fans of Waititi, this is a definitely a must-see movie, especially because Jason Rolland’s from Boy appears. The Breaker Upperers does lag in story-telling and there are certainly bum-shuffling scenes as moments don’t land. Yet there’s a lot of heart here coupled with some truly slick humour. Hilarious yet with so much heart, the warmth and humour of this film is unmissable. Plus sliced into a programme that is drama or horror heavy, The Breaker Upperers is a perfect weekend movie.

The film also has the best X-Men/Vagina joke that you will ever hear. That’s a sentence that I never thought I’d write.

The Breaker Upperers is available on Netflix now. 

BFI London Film Festival – Date Announcement

As you should all know, we’re very fond of the London Film Festival; it’s one of our favourite events of the year, and we’re pleased to hear that it’ll be coming back to us this October from 10th-21st.

11 days of creatively rich cinema, the BFI are now taking submissions for films to be presented at the festival. The deadline for all short films (40 minutes or less) and feature length films (40 minutes or more) is 15th June 2018. So if you feel like you’re sitting on some cinematic gold of your own, it might be time to toss your hat in the ring and show us what you’re made of.

For more information on submission fees and how to enter your film, visit here. 

Rampage – Brand New Trailer!

There are plenty of video game adaptations out there but none of them have ever gone well. Could this latest one to well?

Rampage is based on 1980s video game of the same now and revolves around a giant white ape who terrorises a city. Welp. It is up to DWAYNE JOHNSON to help bring him down.

It’s DWAYNE JOHNSON. At this point, I’d watch him pick bogeys and eat them and I’d still be thoroughly entertained. What do you think? f

Rampage is out end of April! 

The Holly Kane Experiment – Review

Holly Kane (Kirsty Avery) is a 29 year old psychologist obsessed in her efforts to control her subconscious mind. Pursued by an impulsive stranger and an iconic psychologist, Holly’s drug fuelled experiments lead her into a state of paranoia and madness, as the situation becomes dangerously out of control.

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The Holly Kane Experiment is undeniably ambitious, but falls short of anything great; it’s strengths lie in it’s concept and the technical aspects of the film. It’s honestly a fascinating concept, one that has great potential to it if done right, but sadly the script is perhaps the weakest aspect of this film. It never hits quite as hard as it needs to or is as intriguing as it’s plot wants it to be, and the dialogue is no help. It feels a little rushed and very much contrived, with a fair amount of exposition, though given the nature of the film, its understandable. It’s the script that hinders some otherwise good performances; Avery does a good job in the lead, but both her and Lindsey Campbell suffer by failing to feel like real characters, a move that would have been intriguing had it been done intentionally though that doesn’t appear to be the case. Avery in particular does an otherwise impressive job of portraying a character reaching literal insanity for the sake of her work. Additionally, Nicky Henson has a commanding screen presence as Marvin Greenslade, the famous psychologist who funds Kane’s experiments.

On a technical level, it’s hard to fault the film; it’s fairly well directed and the cinematography is great too. Whatever flaws this film may have, it isn’t for lack of trying, and it’s obvious in the use of camera and sound. The sound editing does a great job of creating the uncomfortable and distressing atmosphere the film needs, and it’s often accompanied by disorienting (in a good way) quick editing. These moments juxtapose well with the more intense, sensual moments of the film, such as Holly floating still in water, with the sound of quiet waves washing over. It’s impactful and immersive, and serves the film well. That being said, and this comes back to the script, the film struggles with pacing. A plot like this deserves a slow burn but in this instance, it almost feels like a chore to watch, becoming a bit stagnant far too often, and it’s questionable as to whether the trek to the end is worth it.

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As I say, it’s by no means for a lack of trying; Tom and Mick Sands clearly have a good eye for filmmaking are no doubt ambitious in their efforts, but sadly, The Holly Kane Experiment falls very flat and fails to reach the heights it’s aiming for.

The Holly Kane Experiment is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!