Men In Black: International – Brand New Trailer!

We live in a land of reboots and remakes and sequels. Navigating them can be treacherous.

But we’re here for Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as the new alien fighting heroes.

The film revolves around a woman who discovers the secret agency and has to fly to London in order to save the world.

There’s a lot to process in this trailer, including it’s use of song. But we’re really excited. What do you think?

Men In Back: International is out 2019! 

The Favourite – Review

The world of Yorgos Lanthimos is a bizarre yet beautiful one. From bored teenagers in Dogtooth to animals in The Lobster, there is something about the filmmaker’s mind that you want to immerse yourself completely in; soaking in every stilted word, every bizarre premise, and every Colin Farrell mustache.

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Although there is no Farrell facial hair here, Lanthimos is on top form with The Favourite. Blending voluptuous and superb British period dramas with the humour as black as their dresses, Lanthimos produces his most accessible movie yet.

Starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz, The Favourite tells the story of the later years of Queen Anne. Miserable, gluttonous, and egomaniacal, Anne spends her life stuck in the walls of her stately home. Her council is led (and manipulated) by Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough who uses her status as the Queens confidant to pull the strings of war. When Sarah’s cousin Abigail arrives, the pair find themselves locked in a battle for the admirations and love of Anne. Who will win in their sick vying?

The Favourite is certainly one of those movies in which you’ll happily feast upon. It’s an impeccable balance between this ornate and gorgeous Stuart time period whilst also having cutting modern humour surrounding it. Playing fast and loose with classical language and updated curse words, the fluidity of the dialogue mixed with the satirical comedy brings a fresh beat to stuffy period dramas. There are some hilarious one-liners that’ll be trotted out for years to come.

Shot by natural light, Lanthimos’ updated black comedy looks divine. Filmed at Hatfield House, the large and gorgeous spaces lend themselves to some pretty beautiful scene set ups (as well as echoing the tedium and the emptiness that is rife here. The décor is ornate and splendid whilst Sandy Powell’s impressive costuming harkens back to the era immensely. The detail on display here is fantastic, including mud splatters, tears, and more.

There has been much talk about what actress deserves what award. Indeed, this is a film of three leads. Olivia Colman, who has been an undeniable tour-de-force on British programming and movies finally gets the royal role she’s been waiting for. Here she plays her Queen as petulant child but the bratty behaviour is not merely from her status and wealth, but also from her grief. She’s a pained woman – physically and emotionally – and her work is phenomenal here.

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Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone play two different breed of players. The former, as Sarah, is a more pragmatic in her approach. She’s honest, if albeit unkind, and one of the few people who does not play into the Queen’s whimsy. So naturally when Stone’s sweet and ambitious Abigail comes as a fallen Lady turned scullery maid, Sarah finds herself matched in manipulation and drive. The pair make great enemies, using Anne’s fancies and desires as a ploy so when the final hits, it smarts for all three.

There’s also great support from Fop Nicholas Hoult (who is clearly having the best time,) and Joe Alwyn make adequate male accompaniments but fail to shine under the shadows of this brilliant trio.

The Favourite is intriguing and beguiling. Yet it does not have a satisfactory conclusion. In fact, as the film progresses into its final chapters, it struggles to muster to sharp wit and interest as the first hour or so caught. Though this may be the case, Lanthimos’ work is a delicious one and you’ll want to gorge on repeatedly.

Until you vomit.

Then want to gorge again.

The Favourite is out Boxing Day in  West End Cinemas
It is out New Year’s Day! 

Bumblebee – Review

Transformers is a movie series that often procures a lot of ire. Never before has a bunch of films been so lambasted by film critics, industry folk, and audiences alike (this is a wild and outrageous generalisation but it works). Yet they still attract box office numbers, leading to six movies coming out.

Yet the sixth installment, set in the eighties and revolving around one particular Transformer, has set a precedent by being a well-championed and well-received film. But is it worth all the chatter?

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Bumblebee revolves around the titular youngest and most rambunctious Member of the Autobots. After escaping from his home world, which is under siege from the Decepticons, Bumblebee is found, beaten, and left for dead. Disguising himself as a Volkswagen Beatle, and without a voice, it is years before the yellow-clad Autobot is found again. Flash forward a couple of years, and outcast Charlie, suffering from the loss of her father, discovers the car and decides to work on the project. However, what she finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic war. Having to teach Bumblebee how to be himself again, it’s up to the unlikely friends to save the world.

Directed by Laika legend Travis Knight, Bumblebee has – ha ha – transformed the overblown franchise from an explosion-filled quip fest into an earnest Herbie-like adventure.  The film’s focus on a sweet refreshes the franchise somewhat. There are moments of cute, family friendly comedy cut that appeal to your heart whilst also making you chuckle. The film has some incredible action sequences and great robot fights.

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Hailee Steinfeld is an accomplished actress. We’ve all known this since she exploded onto the big-screen with her Academy Award nominated performance in True Grit. Since she has excelled in fantastic movies including Begin Again, and the phenomenal The Edge of Seventeen. Her talent to reach into the depths of a character and pull out an emotional arc is impressive for this young actress. She smiles with unbridled joy and yet can map out the grief of a daughter lost without her father. It’s a fantastic performance for Steinfeld.

There’s also John Cena as our muscular-bond disgruntled soldier.

The biggest problem with Bumblebee is that it’s just average. Which is great for a Transformers film, but feels as though the story, the style – even the era –  follows the same path as eighties inspired products that have come before it. It’s become boring and tiresome to see the same songs trotted out with the obligatory reference to The Breakfast Club written in there. On top of this, the adventure seems too familiar and isn’t embellished enough to pull it into pure greatness.

Yes, it has capable components that work together to create a brilliant film and I’m not going to detract too much because for a family garb, it is genuinely impressive. But if you aren’t a huge fan of the Transformers series, this isn’t going to assuage you.

Bumblebee previews this weekend. 
It is out on the 21st 

Nancy – Review

Andrea Riseborough is one of our most gifted actresses. The British star has made a name for herself in movies such as Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance,) Welcome to the Punch, and television series National Treasure. With big haunting eyes and the ability to transform like a shape-shifter into her characters, Riseborough is an amazing performer. Her gifted talent has spectacularly captured us all. She also backs female led movies and has her own small production company Mothersucker. The actress definitely continues her Rise…borough.

Awful puns aside, Riseborough is one of the few actresses that has two films in the BFI London Film Festival where she plays the titular role; Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy and this, Christina Choe’s Nancy.

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The brooding drama is a spectacular exploration of the anti-heroine. Also written by Choe, the film revolves around Nancy Freeman, a woman who, through boredom, concocts fantastical stories online to connect with strangers. She writes blogs for miscarriage websites, Photoshops her holidays, and lives in a social media world beyond that of her bitter and ill mother. When Nancy watches a TV spot about a missing child, she discovers that the “thirty years later” photo composite looks exactly like her. Nancy decides to hunt down the couple – Ellen and Leo – to see if they are really her parents…

Christina Choe has crafted a delectably intriguing tale that blurs the lines of lying and life. The film quietly delves under the hood of a maligned person who has crafted many different falsehoods about herself to the extent that she is unsure of who she is. As a viewer too, you also battle with the truth as you are equally convinced and unconvinced about Nancy’s true identity. The film is an assured debut by Choe that uncovers an emotional connection between us all – the want for connection and completion.

Andrea Riseborough is impeccably cast as the tedium riddled woman struggling to find an identity yet falling into home and finding herself yearning to be this couple’s estranged daughter. Riseborough magnificently digs under the skin of her character and her role as an anti-heroine is really defined her. Nancy isn’t a likeable character; in the first half she tricks a grieving father into believing she is a pregnant woman with an ill child. Yet Nancy is also alone, living with Ann Dowd’s vicious mother and unable to connect to the world around her without it being a falsehood. Riseborough confidently exhumes the character as she grows close to Leo and Ellen, achingly wanting to belong there.

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Playing opposite Riseborough is J. Smith Cameron’s desparate Ellen. Here’s a woman whose mourning has been constantly open. Never knowing the true whereabouts of her daughter, she’ll never have full closure and Cameron portrays this so well that upon the instant Ellen and Nancy first speak, you hope that Nancy is their daughter. Ellen takes to Nancy with an alarming closeness that is realistic of lamenting and longing. As their relationship develops, it is gloriously enticing and that’s largely through Smith’s performance.

There’s also this wonderful bubble of grief to both Nancy’s lack of belonging and Ellen’s struggle with losing a daughter for over three decades. In many ways the grieving mother and the lost daughter could very well be kindred spirits – related even – and the reveal will never change that.

Nancy is a slow drawling film that may take time for it to claw into your flesh but in a snow-ladden forrest, or the haunting familiarity of a distant memory, Nancy really evolves.

Choe’s astute character study is a phenomenal feature debut.

Nancy is available to watch on Amazon Prime

Roma – Review

Alfonso Cuaron is a masterful filmmaker. His glorious work transcends decades, genres, and communities – boundless in his intricate intimacy. From Y Tu Mamma Tambien to Gravity (with a magical pit stop at Harry Potter,) Cuaron has shifted and shaped genres with his stunning work. Now he brings us Roma – a truly astonishing piece of work.

The film, semi-based on his own experiences, revolves around Mexico City in 1970 and 1971. It focuses on maid Cleo who works with an affluent family alongside other maid Adela. Head of the family is couple Sofia and Antonio, who are slowly going through a painful divorce and are keen to keep it from their three boisterous children. Cleo is also having a relationship with a young man and the film flows through snapshots of their lives all the while a rebellion is forming in the background.

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Roma is one of those films that has been constantly spoken about since it bounced around film festivals and many a (more accomplished) critic has tackled the beast with fervent glee and adoration. It’s hard to follow those review. It’s also hard to come up with better words that aren’t just “stunning,” “breath-taking,” and “perfect” all over again. The hysteria around Roma is warranted – it’s absolutely one of the most enchanting pieces of cinema around.

Cuaron strips back to the mechanics of family life, told from the point of view of “the help.” Played with stellar naturalism by Yalitza Aparicio, an apparent acting novice, Cleo is this lovely and complex woman who has a kind nature that is boxed in by the world around her. As a live-in maid, she rarely has a moment of respite before she is washing the copious amounts of faeces of the drive-way or cleaning away the children’s tornado-like lives. Aparicio goes through grief and anguish and the work is excellent. It’s surprising this film is mostly improvisation, these non-actors bring an intimacy to these characters that is unparalleled with a lot of films here.

The choice to shoot primarily in black and white is a bold choice and yet the absence of colour only enhances the vibrancy of Cleo and her world. Cuaron produces some impeccable shots and framing devices that will burn forever in your mind. Even if it is the first watery reflection of a plane overhead, mirrored in a later shot, or a burning shrubbery on fire that causes a wayward man to bellow songs. Cuaron has delicately and beautifully conducted one of the most visually appeasing movies that is redolent in its exquisite nature – burning into your mind with such a haunting presence.

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Roma has sparked off the Netflix verses cinema debate. There are those who vehemently believe that this stirring piece of art needs to be seen on the big screen. True, there are visuals here that call out for the big screen, moving with an equally captured audience. But Netflix’s cinematic release has eschewed the film to only a small set of screenings in the capital – it isn’t entirely possible for all of us to see it on a big screen.

It’s funny. This is a film so structured in its portrayal of glass, whether it is the encompassing house with its crooked flat attached or a woman cleaning up the mess of a whirlwind rich family who then criticise the mess. It’s absurd that people who take away from this film a snobby attitude about where people watch the movie – negating how limited and expensive those screenings are. True, I have fallen prey to this behaviour and if you can see Roma in a big screen, then watch Roma in a big screen. However, your experience is not lesser at home.

Regardless of how you see it, I cannot stress this enough – just see it. Turn off your phones, your lights, and snuggle in with a cup of tea just to absorb everything that Cuaron has poured into the story here. The intimacy, the texture, and the spirit of the film will surely capture you no matter the capacity that you watch it in.

Roma is out in select cinemas today. 
It hits Netflix on 14th December! 

Lizzie – Review

Lizzie Borden is one of those names that has lived in infamy. When her stepmother and father were brutally killed by an axe, eyes fell on Borden. Despite being cleared by the police, she is widely considered the murderer and has since garnered notoriety – a legendary status even.

Now her story is being explored in drama film, aptly named, Lizzie.

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Directed by Craig William Macnell Lizzie is a brooding film that revolves around the infamous killings of 1892. Starring Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart, the film takes us behind the murders and into the possible events that led to them. As Lizzie battles for control over her domineering father William, brand new Irish maid Bridget enters the home. The two women find themselves drawn to one another. Noticing the kindred spirits and their closeness, William tries to force them apart. With all the pressures around them, a dark plan is formed.

The film is really good at bringing the period to life with candlelit scenes, a maze-ridden house, and costumes to die for. It is certainly pretty to look at.

The actresses at the core do a pretty good job here. Despite Kristen Stewarts dodgy Irish accent, her “fish out of water” character Bridget makes for an wide-eyed and amazing character. Enveloped by the house and it’s unnerving residents, Stewart winds through her own horrors and she is great at this. Chloe Sevigny is good as the starring lead character and goes through similar motions. Sevigny is stoic yet emotive. It is just a shame there isn’t better material to leap her character forward here. That being said, the pair together make for some marvelous chemistry that does spark when they edge closer together.

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As we’ve mentioned, the actresses are really good but my god is the characterisation sloppy. We never really get to explore Lizzie as a character and she comes off quite petulant in spite of the abuse she suffered from her father. Whilst she is meant to come across as “strong-willed,” we seemingly don’t spend enough time with her and she is the titular role.

However, the film is boring. It is a slow, drawling film. Whilst it’s pretty to look at, it struggles to find a decent pace and soon turns into a turgid and quite boring affair. It only becomes really interesting in the final half, with a brilliant uncovering of the murderers.

Lizzie is a disappointment but it certainly has some good elements to offer. I’ll have to admit – perhaps I was expecting a little bit more. Especially because the film’s trailer is a punchy and darker affairs. This film has been really mis-marketed. Those expecting a slice and dice period romp with bloody bits and grit will be sorely disappointed. Even more so when there isn’t a decent character study to replace that.

Lizzie lacks the chop to make it an interesting historical piece of cinema.

Lizzie is out 14 December