Boy – Review

Taika Waititi can do no wrong. From Eagle vs Shark to What We Do In The Shadows, this New Zealand filmmaker has delighted with his special brand of humour and character depth. In fact, last year, his phenomenal indie hit The Hunt for the Wilderpeople topped many a list for ‘Best of 2016′ and made impressive waves at the Box Office.

After tackling the latest Marvel Entry, Thor: Ragnarok, his 2010 hit Boy came back into our lives and now it is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now.

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Set in 1984 at Waihau Bay, New Zealand, Michael Jackson obsessed Boy is a Maori kid with lots of dreams, fantasies, and hopes despite being a . A lot of these revolve around his father, whom he idolises. When his Dad Alamein returns from prison, Boy is keen to kick start their relationship again with his heroic father. However, when they finally meet, he discovers that the man is more dim-witted than daring, and more self-centred than self-less. With the image of his father cracking, can Boy discover who he is?

Boy is exactly what Waititi does best, silly, stupid, and down-right uncomfortable comedy that works on a multitude of levels. Utilising the era with great homages to the King of Pop as Boy envisages his father to be, Waititi crafts a tonally on-point film that shifts from the fantastical to the hard-hitting reality. The film has a lot of depth; though it may seem like a frivolous coming of age day, it delves into the heart of family relations, particularly about putting a parent on a pedestal. In Boy, it’s not about figuring out that his father isn’t fantastic, in fact, the opposite. That is one of the biggest pains of your life: losing respect for your parents and Waititi tackles the subject matter with sensitivity and great comedic timing.

Similarly to Juilian Dennison in 2016’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople (and despite staring Waititi himself as the foolish and foppish Alamein,) it is James Rolleston who commands the screen (well, him and his pet goat). As the dreamer and overly enthusiastic Boy, he is impossible not to love. A joyous titular character who’s first thought after finding a bag of cash is buying ice cream for himself and his mates. But Rolleston also manages to be realistic wounded after his father’s betrayal.

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As mentioned, Waititi is terrific as the somewhat whiny, and pathetic man who cares more about his loot and “biker gang” (really strong finger action on those air quotes, by the way,) rather than his family. Alamein wants to be the King of the Road, a legendary thief whilst still being admired by his children. When it all starts to unravel, he is hit with realism and Waititi handles Alamein’s break in glorious fashion.

Boy is sentimental as well as uproarious. A comedy with a ginormous heart as well as a spectacular finale that is certainly a thriller….

…Anyway, Boy is playing at select cinemas at the moment so it is definitely worth having a look.

Breathe – Review

Andy Serkis has been an undeniable talent in the British film industry, and has swept up Hollywood in his on-screen presence. Especially when it is digitally altered with computerised faux fur or alien like tendencies. He is the go-to motion capture man who has developed incredible characters such as War for the Planet of the Apes‘ Caesar, the mighty King Kong,  and most famously Gollum from Lord of the RIngs. He has also appeared in flesh, brightening our screens in movies like Wild Bill, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and, unashamedly, 13 Going on 30.

Going behind the scenes for his directorial feature debut Breathe, Serkis proves that he has just as fantastic when conducting an incredible real-life drama.

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Starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, Breathe revolves around Robin Cavendish, a young man who is stricken by the deadly polio disease and is only given three months to live. Becoming disabled, paralysed from the neck down at 28, Cavendish and his supporting wife Diana travel across the globe in order to help others like  him affected by polio as he defies his prognosis and the doctors.

Based on film producer Jonathon Cavendish’s life and own father, Breathe is a marvellous and inspiring tale of a man defying odds. Though it meets pretty much every cliche of a “period affliction drama,” or even recent BFI London Film Festival openers, Breathe is impossibly charming and directed with astuteness. Serkis has crafted a caring piece of cinema that is a palatable movie about illness and it’s impacts. Travelling over the globe, Serkis drenches the movie in glorious scenery. Whether it is the emerald shimmers of English Countryside or the amber sunsets across the Narobi desert, this quaint and lush work may be soundly structured but is vibrantly shot.

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Plum voiced and extremely upper-class, Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy make admirable leads, even with some shaky ageing make-up in their later years. As Robin, Andrew Garfield is maddeningly compelling. Maddeningly because he simply has to smile a lopsided goofy grin and he radiates the character. Layered under this positivity are years of struggle with polio and whilst there is a lot of tea, crumpets, and stiff upper-lips, there is also a lot of anguish. Resolute and rambunctious, Garfield puts in an almighty performance. Opposite him is The Crown‘s Claire Foy who is terrific in her role as Diana. Much like Tatiana Maslany in Stronger, Diana is the rock that pushes her husband into survival, pulling him from deep depression, and adhering to his crazed notions that help him escape the confines of his bed. Though Robin is, indeed, an incredible man who a spirit, adventure, and will-power to strife not just for himself, but for others like him Foy is incredibly astute at allowing Diana resolve as well as emotion.

The message throughout the film is that disability does not mean a worthless life (although, this is arguably contradictory by casting an able bodied man in the lead role.) We should do more to better not just accept, but to be more empathetic and strife for the betterment of those with disabilities. Breathe is about determination and love, and happiness in the face of adversity.

It may be twee but it certainly breathes with excellence.

Breathe is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Berlinale 2018: Songwriter – Review

Ah, Ed Sheeran. That carrot topped genius. That small hobbit-like mastermind. That crooning pasty white boy.

If we were all being honest with ourselves, we’d admit that we can’t help but love your music. From the cheesy to the stirring, Sheeran has amazed us with his fabaroo talent. Naturally, like with most music type people, this would transcend into cinema. Whether that’s a star-studded biopic or a documentary, those bright-eyed musicians always wind up on the big screen (including those god-awful 3D tour movies.)

Now our Brit favourite has his own documentary. Premiering at Berlinale, to woops and cheers and laughter, Songwriter sees Ed Sheeran at his most intimate. The film follows aspects of Sheeran’s process as he develops the catchy beats for the commercial and critical hit Divide. Recorded across the world, Sheeran shares the screen with fellow musicians that help him shape his sound and songs.

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Here’s the thing about Songwriter: The documentary is rudimentary. It’s a bog-standard hand-held adventure with shaky cam and out of focus moments inter-spliced with family footage. It’s leaps us through time frames that are shoddily edited together There’s this weird sub-intro (the first scene is about Sheeran writing Bieber’s Love Yourself on a tour bus, post tour,) about Murray Cummings (the director) and Sheeran, showcasing how their relationship truly formed from cousins to documentary filmmakers. Other than that weirdness, the filming is pretty much standard, even bad at points.

Yet within it is a fascinating look at how someone can pull music from their mind, craft it with other talents, and produce ear-worms such as Shape of You or Castle on the Hill.  The characters within the film  including Benny Blanco, who is so afraid of flying that they take a boat to London from New York (which lends itself to surreal recording session,) Sheeran’s composer brother Matt, and the man with the best moustache Foy Vance. It’s in these collaborations that the film finds it’s stride. Not only do you see how Sheeran can pull music from thin air, but you also dive into the process of shaping it, crafting it, and producing it. It’s like watching Ed Sheeran give birth to a child and then a group of talented mothers come in to help raise it. It makes the film more fascinating as different people lend their skills to this ground-breaking album.

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Songwriter is bog-standard documentary film-making that is sure to speak to thousands of Sheeran’s fans. But underneath the surface is this brooding artistry from a man who took over the world with a simple guitar and his incredible singing. It’s an intricate look at musicians where you can see exactly how they work and process with an appealing end note.

Whilst it may not be impeccable filmmaking, it’s within this subject matter where it really finds it’s voice.