Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool – DVD and Blu-Ray review

Sometimes a film comes along and smacks you in the face with how good it is; you see the trailer a dozen times and each time, it just doesn’t seem all that important. Then when your’e actually in that cinema, it’s impossible to believe how good it is. That was the experience Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool offered, and it was superb.

Based on his memoir of the same name, it follows Peter Turner (Jamie Bell), a Liverpudlian actor navigating his way through his professional and family lives when he’s suddenly struck with the news that his former lover, 50’s film star Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) is back in the country and in need of care, and the film takes us through their passionate and rocky relationship.

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Everything about Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is as charming as it’s title; from the writing to the direction, to the cinematography and performances, it wins on every level. Without wishing to spoil it, the narrative is presented in a far more non-linear sense than the trailers, and the method in which it transitions scenes is very impressive. It makes the story flow in a far more meaningful and effective manner that heightens the emotions and amplifies the impact of these events on Turner and Grahame’s later life. The performances all around are flawless; the likes of Stephen Graham and Julie Walters as Turner’s family members are brilliant, but it really comes down to the two leads. There was a lot of awards buzz around Bening, and though she didn’t score many nominations, her fragile and wondrous performance as Gloria Grahame is very tender and enlightening, though Jamie Bell is the true star of the film. He’s already so underrated, the fact that he couldn’t garner more love for what is easily his best performance is so disappointing. For a larger than life true story, he keeps everything on the ground with his stunted and emotional performance. Plus, listening to him talk in a scouse accent for an hour and forty-six minutes is somewhat infectious, especially if you can’t actually do the accent.

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It’s almost hard to believe this is a true story; the tale of an aged film star beyond her prime falling in love with a working class struggling actor, sounds like fiction. Even when watching it, it has such a sense of wonder and tragedy to it that it could only seem made up, but the film regularly drives the point home that this was real and grounds the film with it’s direction and it’s raw power, showing that it’s a truly remarkable story. Above all else, the film is a heartbreaking experience, in the sense that it literally plunges it’s hand through your chest and rips your heart straight out. Few films manage a tear out of me while I’m actually in the cinema, in the presence of many other cinema goers, but this one simply could not be helped.

What seemed like a very standard British romance turned out to be one of the best films of the year. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is an enchanting yet grounded portrayal of a fascinating true love, with excellent storytelling and killer performances all around.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital now.

Rakuten TV Empire Awards 2018 – The Winners!

Just when you thought awards season was over, it’s time for the Rakuten TV Empire Awards, hosted by the popular film publication in London and voted for by readers, offering a list of winners far from identical to that of the standard awards fair. So, who won big at this years award?

Star WarsThe Last Jedi may have been divisive, but the lovers made themselves known as it took home awards for Best Film, Best Director for Rian Johnson, Best Actress for Daisy Ridley, Best Visual Effects, and Best Costume Design while Mark Hamill was awarded with Emprie Icon Award, and deservedly so. Other films that managed to pick up more than award were Jordan Peele’s Get Out, for Best Horror and Best Screenplay, God’s Own Country, winning Best British Film (Over fan favourite Paddington 2) and Best Male Newcomer for star Josh O’Connor, and Logan, as stars Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman won Best Female Newcomer and Best Actor respectively. It’s about time Jackman got some awards love for his final turn as Wolverine.

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy went to the beloved Wonder Woman, Best Animated Film unsurprisingly went to Pixar’s Coco, and Best Documentary went to the groundbreaking I Am Not Your Negro. Best Comedy went to Armando Iannuci’s satirical The Death of Stalin, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle beat Baby Driver, The Handmaiden, John Wick Chapter 2 and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for Best Thriller. No, we don’t get it either. Still, Baby Driver was at least successful in winning Best Soundtrack and Best Production Design, while director Edgar Wright was awarded the Empire Visionary Award. Closing out the technical awards, Beauty and the Beast was awarded Best Make Up & Hair.

Over on the television side of things, it was pretty spread out; Netflix royal drama The Crown won Best TV Show, while Jason Isaacs and Nicole Kidman picked up the acting awards for their roles in Star Trek: Discovery and the astonishing Big Little Lies respectively. I still maintain that Reese Witherspoon should be winning all these awards. Finally, the Empire Inspiration award went to Amma Asante, the director of indie British hits Belle and A United Kingdom, the Empire Legend of Our Lifetime award went to Steven Spielberg, for reasons I’m sure I don’t have to explain.

And that’s it for the Rakuten Empire Awards 2018.

Do you agree with the winners?
Did you stop reading once you saw The Last Jedi won Best Film?
Let us know in the comments!


Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Brand New Trailer!

I’ve said this for a while but Melissa McCarthy has needed a dramatic role to elevate her talents higher. She’s need something meaty and with depth. It’s not that she isn’t an accomplished performer and has finessed her comedy skills, it’s just we need to see her shine in a more layered role.

It looks like we’re going to get it in Marielle Heller’s latest dark comedy Can You Ever Forgive Me?  

Also starring Richard E. Grant, the story revolves around Lee Israel, a celebrity biographer who finds herself down and out after her latest job flops. That’s when her talent turns to forgery when she decides to falsify letters from famous writers.

This looks like a marvellous film with a fantastic role for McCarthy and the director of The Diary of a Teenage Girl in command, this is going to be deliciously dark. What do you think?

Can You Forgive Me? is out later this year. 

Daddy’s Home 2 – Review

Let’s address several elephants in the room when it comes to this release: It stars Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg. The pair have had a history of either racial or spousal abuse, have opened their mouths to spout all kinds of rubbish, and they cause a certain amount of fuss when they appear in anything.  To be fair to the latter he has also spent a lot of his most recent career apologising for his acts as a rampant dickhead teenager/young adult (and inexplicably, Boogie Nights.) But Gibson is still met with vehement grunting and should be; in an industry rapidly unearthing terrible secrets, the presence of the actor reminds us that no matter how bad you are, you are going to have a career after it. Doesn’t seem rightly fair.

So with that said, let’s criticise the film itself, shall we?

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Now, back in 2015, Daddy’s Home was a surprise hit. Between slapstick, visual jokes, and outrageous dialogue, the film had genuine moments and somewhat didn’t suck (it helps to get liquored up before watching the film.) Now with some moderate success, the movie “franchise” decides to shift it’s focus to the yuletide holidays and tackle a sequel in which Dusty and Brad’s fathers turn up and cause riotous scenes. Why? Because one pair is all sensitive and sappy whilst the others wear leather and our MANLY! See? HILARIOUS!

Alongside Bad Moms 2, Daddy’s Home 2 is an unnecessary sequel to an average movie that is trying to charm with it’s festive aurora  but, sadly, all the jokes fall flat. The Christmas outing is not helped by the heaps of dazzling greenery and gleeful tunes because the jokes are stale with moments barely registering on titters.

That being said, there is absolutely one moment that will make you wet yourself. I’m not going to give anything away but it stars  one of the biggest action movie actors in a glorious self-parody that kinda makes the rest of the boredom throughout the film worth it (or you can wait until someone uploads it on the internet and you can save yourself the trouble of actually watching.)

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The film’s saving grace, by a fraction, is Will Farrell. Love him or hate him, there is no denying his utmost gumption to leap into any comedic role he is given. Boundless, as Brad, he is a tender but brilliantly over the top character. Charming whilst sappy. John Lithgow is alright as his equally big-hearted father and Wahlberg is Mark Wahlberg. It’s sub-par, however, and despite the performances the film stagnates from a dull chuckle into a stony straight face.

Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t going to give you great belly laughs or fill you with festive cheer. It’s good for that kind of brainless movie throughout this festival and Oscar-winning season. But then again, it may just be worth it to see an absolutely blinding cameo with the movie inside the movie.

Daddy’s Home 2 is out in cinemas now.