Category Archives: Features

Fun movies articles, lists as long as your attention span, and opinions so big, you just have to comment on them.

The Weekend Binge: Sex Education

Over a decade ago, when I too was navigating the hotbed of hormones, puberty, and wanting to smush my face against other peoples faces, the only thing I had for reference was Skins. And the guys in Skins were cool. Too cool. Far too cool. They popped pills, drank themselves silly, went on holidays, and shagged like pro-porn stars. They weren’t figuring out their bodily bits whilst awkwardly starring at popularity as though it were a cat just out of my grasp.

Embarrasing behaviour in television series didn’t seem to really come to me until The Inbetweeners and seeing as girls were treated as mythical fit creatures, that didn’t seem to appeal to me too. It is only recently that has been great developments in truly looking at the intimacy and idiocy of sexuality and all the nasty feels that come with it with in shows such as Big Mouth, Awkward and this brand new British comedy show Sex Education.

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Created by Laurie Nunn, and directed by Ben Taylor (episodes 1 – 4)  and Kate Herron (episodes 5 – 8,) Sex Education is a brilliant whirlwind of pubescence and growing up. It revolves around Otis, the 16 year old boy whose mum Jean is a sex therapist. Trying to navigate through Sixth Form, he is approached by Maeve who suggests that he uses his learned expertise to help the gawky teens of their school for a price.

Blending eighties and seventies fashion and music into a modern day setting, Sex Education is a stylish romp with British pulp. The comedy is a fresh beat of a show that gets into the details of what’s brooding underneath.

Asa Butterfield makes a brilliant lead character in the gangly Otis who has never masturbated due to a repressed fear. Getting comfortable with his new role as the school’s sex guru, he also has to tackle the openness of his mother Jean (played amazingly by the effortless Gillian Anderson and, despite her being somewhat ), her own complications, and his secret attraction to Maeve. Who, by the way, is played greatly by Emma Mackey, deeply diving into the “social outcast” stereotype and pulling out a full dimensional character with soul. Otis’ openly gay best friend Eric is genius and Nccuti Gatwa gets to delve into the morsels of being homosexual whilst coming from a conservative and religious family.

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What Sex Education does phenomenally well is shape it’s characters with their abundance of diversity and sexuality. Whilst also teaching the audience about difficult sexual behaviours such as vaginismus or how your emotional map can affect your downstairs area, it fleshes out each and every role here. Not one person is cast aside as the show dives deep into LGBT issues, how pressure at a young age can impact, and life without the support of a family. It is earnest in it’s depiction of Sixth Form students and masterful in making us care for each an everyone.

Yet the show doesn’t hesitate to grapple with darker themes such as abortion, consent, and homophobia. Happily, it doesn’t showcase these issues with graphic depictions in an misguided attempt to be “honest.” It is exactly that but it is subtle, sensitive, and enriched with a deep understanding. Sex Education is perhaps one of the best written TV shows about teenagers out there, replacing melodrama with hilarity and earnestness.

It is alarmingly nice to watch a television series about teenagers where they aren’t popping pills and coolly having the best sex they’ve ever had. It’s a gloriously open and honest portrayal of what teenagers actually get up too when their trying to figure out their sticky bits. An impressive must-see show that ticks with great rhythm, fantastic emotion, and seriously hilarious comedy.


Sex Education is available to watch on Netflix! 

BAFTA Screenwriter Lectures 2018: Alfonso Cuaron – Highlights

Alfonso Cuaron is our most accomplish filmmaker who transcends genres. His work has evolved into either technical masterpieces or deeply human explorations. Or, you know, both at the same time. His work is conducted with pure passion, evolving from one screenplay.

At BAFTA last weekend, as part of the Screenwriter Lecture Series, Cuaron joined Jeremy Brock to discuss his vast career as well as give tips and advice on how he develops his scripts into these phenomenal movies.

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Of his sexuality drama Y Tu Mamá También, Cuaron spoke about stitching together the narrative that is simple yet complex at the same time. “What I feel is the control of the rhythm and tone, but to also tell a story that’s incredibly enthralling, the story of these boys and their sexual awakening and the story of their rights of passage from a kind of innocent sexual bravado”

Despite there being a book of Children of Men, the film wound up being slightly different. Cuaron spoke on how he crafted the dystopian thriller and how the idea began to flow. “I immediately had a movie come into my head… and I started the mental process of drafting how would it go.”

For most audiences, his work on the third Harry Potter Film, the Prisoner of Azkaban is his most famed. Though the host didn’t want to spend too much on the movie, Cuaron ensured us that it was a fantastic experience. I have to say, from the narrative standpoint, it’s very joyful. And besides that, it was, as a director, it was my kindergarten for visual effects!”

It also helped him create Children of Men. “they didn’t want to do it, and after Harry Potter they gave me the green light so…

After laughter, Cuaron concluded; The magic of Harry Potter…”

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In 2013, Cuaron released his most acclaimed work Gravity, for which he won the Oscar for Best Director, though he stresses that the making was frustrating. “It was something that was kind of tough and sometimes frustrating of Gravity is that we were constrained by the technology. So we had to, everything, even the performance of Sandra Bullock, I admire her performance because she was so constrained about timings about rhythms and stuff”

Now he is releasing Roma, a movie that is sure to make waves at award-ceremonies this year, despite being released by streaming service Netflix. The meticulously crafted film is filled with a lot of different details. “In Roma, it’s filled with a lot of foreground/background and a lot of description of what is in the background and everything is in the screenplay. The film is very aural; there are a lot of sounds going on.”

With much adulation, Cuaron concluded his lecture and class.


Check out the full transcript over at BAFTA Guru now!
Roma is out in select cinemas now.

5 Reasons Why You Should Watch Jupiter Ascending

To say I was excited for Jupiter Ascending would be an understatement. Seemingly the only one frothing at the mouth to get her hands on The Wachoski Sibling’s latest space romp, it appeared that my titillation for the film was a lonely place to be. But sitting in a screening, the IMAX prepped to meet that level of enthusiasm, I was sure enough in for a ride – perhaps not the one I was expecting. Within minutes of the movie, the audience was overcome with clichés, stifled acting and a tragedy so cheesy that a man behind me groaned loudly. From that moment on, I knew that the film was going to be awful and strained.

And I was going to love every minute of it.  And I do. I love it so much.

Recently, Eddie Redmayne (of Fantastic Beasts fame,) has said it’s his worst performance. But, actually, we adore it. And we’re here to tell you why we love it – because it’s terrible. Jupiter Ascending the story of a toiler cleaner who discovers that she is the reincarnation of a Queen and actually rules Earth, here’s the most bat-shit insane moments from the film. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

Honourable Mention: One of the extras has an inexplicable floppy elephant face for no reason whatsoever.

Monty Python’s Boring Cameo 

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So Terry Gilliam is no stranger to creating over the top, mad-capped films. BrazilTime Bandits and more all ache with the Monty Python stars flare with a special uniqueness. So his appearance in Jupiter Ascending could be perceived as a somewhat nod to his work with cult films and space adventures. Though in the context of the Wachowski’s space adventure, Giliam’s role is perplexing and heavily underused – especially as he appears as part of this DSV set-up, poking fun at the rigmarole of applications and queuing. Because in space, no one has figured out how to make the form filling enjoyable. Certainly, no one has made the process entertaining on the screen, as proven by the sheer tedium that not even Gilliam can save

And They Call It Puppy Love

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Channing Tatum appears as the hero to the film. He’s a splice of dog and human – who happens to have wings that were clipped from him – named Caine (Caine-Nine, perhaps). He groans, gurns and tries desperately to save Queen of our world, Jupiter Jones. She is played by Mila Kunis who cannot handle grandiose films and her “talent” falters repeatedly to convey the drama, distress and determination needed for the role. Together they produce the most awkwardly strained pairing in cinematic history who have such little chemistry that it is pretty much like watching two of your cousins get it on. What’s worse is that you know the lines they are going to spout at one another, it’s like they’re following “Fantasy Script 101” which, if that book exists, would be a hell of a lot better than some of the drivel this film comes out with.

Jupiter Stupider 

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The whole story reads like a pretty terrible Doctor Who/Disney mashup used to sell generic characters so young  folk can believe in magic. This all winds up being absurdly embellished and heavily underacted by the aforementioned bad performance by Kunis. The arc goes like this: Jupiter is a lowly maid working for her family, going around and cleaning toilets, which she hates. Her cousin has an idea to sell her eggs so he has cash to buy a television, console or whatever pathetic excuse he has to scrape ovum from Jupiter’s vajayjay. Then, with her legs up in stirrups, someone tries to kill her and Tatum’s dog hybrid saves her. This is swiftly followed by an alien sibling race attempting to murder her because she is the re-birth of their mother and they do so by seducing her because they are posh incestuous weirdos. So she darts over space, does some stupid things without thought, gets rescued a hell of a lot of times and then defeats them. Covering up that she is actually a Queen, she hides her identity by going back to scrubbing shit stains from porcelain. Reminder that she’s actually the motherfucking ruler of Earth.

But yet – she is humble enough to become best friends with Toilet Duck and Flash instead of taking her rightful place, despite super-mega-loathing her life beforehand. Yes. It makes zero sense.

“Oh God, not the BEES! 

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So Jupiter and a whole team of good guys need some sort of proof that she is the reincarnation of the ruler of Earth. When Caine takes Jupiter away from the missionaries sent to straight up murder her ass, he absconds her to a desolate house in the middle of nowhere where his old BFF Stinger resides. Of course, they’ve got more bad blood between them than a Taylor Swift video, so Stinger refuses to believe in Caine’s lavish story (although, he is played by Sean Bean so one can assume he didn’t want to get involved because of the looming death that comes to all of his characters). That is until the goddamn bees start swarming around Jupiter, and Stinger changes his mind with the reasoning that bees recognise royalty. See the symbolism; she’s the QUEEN BEE, his name is STINGER and she’s causing a bit of a BUZZ.

Wow.

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For anyone who watched Redmayne’s astute and poignant Oscar winning performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, you’d be right in thinking that clearly someone dropped acid in his drinks before shooting Jupiter Ascending. Sporting golden robes or next to nothing, the icy Balem Abrasax is such a confusing villain. Is he just a spoilt rich kid that dips his balls in the harvest mucus of humanity? Does he have a major boner for his mother? More importantly, why does he talk in a raspy voice as though a dozen bees swarmed in his throat (see, symbolism)? Eddie Redmayne is clearly lauding up his evil role as he roars bizarre line after bizarre line. Balem is done in such a hysterical way that you’ll wet yourself when he rips into his best Borat impression as he screams, “I CREATE LIFE.”

It’s truly a remarkably entertaining performance added to an over the top lavish film that makes it glorious in all its awfulness. I can predict that Jupiter Ascending will have the same cult following as The Room. Though, I’d advise against bringing bees into the screening*

*totally bring bees to the screening.


Jupiter Ascending is available on Netflix And Amazon Prime! 

Beetlejuice – 30 Years On…

In film lore, you can say Candyman five times in a mirror to summon the murderous vengeful spirt. You can say Bloody Mary five times and spin around to summon a wicked banshee. Or you can forget all the spooky crap, say Beetlejuice three times and call the funniest, most unruly ghost the underworld ever produced.

Beetlejuice is the 1988 supernatural comedy directed by Tim Burton starring Michael Keaton like you have never seen him before. An overzealous, over-sexed, suit wearing maniac who unleashes his own brand of haunting on the living world. The weird and quirky film is a must for all Burton fans and is one of his greatest on screen accomplishments with a witty script, superb cast, and some of the most memorable set pieces stop-motion and puppetry every produced.

There's going to be a Beetlejuice musical on Broadway...

When Barbara and Adam Maitland (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) decide to spend vacation at home they expect a peaceful two weeks together. Unfortunately, for them, their car ends up in a river after an accident. On returning home, the pair soon realise they did not survive the crash and are now in the world of the deceased. Hanging around their human home, it is soon sold to a couple of New York yuppies the Deetz (Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones). To rid them of their unwanted guests, the Maitland’s call on a wayward ghost Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice) to perform a living exorcism. But Beetlejuice (Keaton) has eyes on the couple’s young daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) and sets about unleashing the dead on the living.

After the success of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Burton was sent a number of scripts for his next project. Unhappy at their lack of creativity, he was eventually handed an early script for Beetlejuice. After a few rewrites and adding his own brand of weird the film became the cult classic we know today. Beetlejuice possess (excuse the pun) a story and premise so bizarre it could have been written by Burton himself. Yet this is why it was such a perfect project for him.

For a story that deals with death this is a strangely uplifting tale. Death is just another stage that needs to be worked out and handled but the couple are together and can make new friends. Death is almost humorous in the way it is portrayed here. The dead man with the shark attached to his leg or the man burnt alive who is still smoking a cigarette all mock this next stage of being.

Like so much of Burton’s work the film contrasts the world of the living and the world of the dead. Also another Burton signature is that the underworld is portrayed as more alive and vibrant than the real world. The living world is bland and lifeless while the land of the dead is full of exotic characters and colourful settings.

For this film, Burton drew on his animation background of stop-motion to create the films weird selection of creatures. From the inhabitants of the undead waiting room to the sand worm that awaits the Maitland’s if they leave their human home. The film may not compared to the range of CGI used in blockbusters of today yet the film has a unique and classic look. Many will think of the works of Ray Harryhausen when watching these creatures inhabit the screen (a clear idol of Burton’s).

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For today’s audiences Michael Keaton is remembered for his role as Batman (also Burton films) and his recent star turn in Birdman. Yet the great actor began his career as a famed comedic performer. His later casting as The Dark Knight was met with disapproval and uproar from audiences until the film’s successful release. Despite how he may be seen today Keaton was and is a brilliant comedy talent. With razor sharp wit, charm and perfect timing, he is a humorous force in the little time he spends on screen. His stripped suit is an iconic image and seeing at least one Beetlejuice per Halloween is inevitable.

The film was also a breakout role for the young Winona Ryder as Lydia. Playing the young, unusual Goth girl become synonymous with Ryder in her early career yet her talent soon broke away from these restraints.

Catherine O’Hara, who would later go on to voice Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas and Mrs Frankenstein in Frankenweenie, here stands out as Delia Deetz. A frantic, image obsessed neurotic step-mother whose disbelief in the ghosts in her house drives much of the films humour.

A quintessential Burtonesque film containing his striking visuals, quirky characters and making the afterlife not a bad place to spend eternity.


Happy 30th Anniversary Beetlejuice! 

Nightmare Before Christmas – Jack’s Mid-Life Crisis

Christmas movies change when you grow-up. When you are younger, you are immersed in all the glorious festivities. The bright lights, the colours, the mysteries of Father Christmas, and generous gifts from loved ones. It’s all about the children and the spirit of the holidays that they keep alive in unbridled innocence. When you are that age, it’s magical and mystifying as are the films that promote it.

As you grow older and, spoiler alert, find out that Santa isn’t real and reindeer cannot fly, you view the holidays in a completely different way. Though the love felt around this time is stronger (because it isn’t based on an artificial, superficial bond over gifts,) that enchantment wanes. The stress of buying presents, the sweat over cooking Christmas dinner, and trying to appease all family members at once grows weary on your sleepy eyes. Watching these films, you start to appreciate Clark Griswold’s wide-eyed mania in National Lampoons, the cynicism of the adults in Miracle on 34th Street, and complete understanding of Emma Thompson locking herself away to cry.

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The realisation that I had grown beyond my Christmas exuberance years was when the true-meaning of Nightmare Before Christmas was unveiled. Jack Skellington, the hero that we know and love, is straight up having the most bonkers mid-life crisis imaginable. And I can completely relate to it.

For those who haven’t seen Henry Selick’s stop-motion festive raucous, the film revolves around Holiday Towns of Old where sects of creatures bring their spirits to the real world. Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween town. One year, despite throwing “the best Halloween yet,” Jack is feeling hollow with his life and feels an emptiness that praise and fame cannot quite fill. When he comes across a mysterious tree with a door shaped like Christmas, he winds up finding joy and wonder! Could this be everything that he ever wanted?

Skellington is for sure having a mid-life crisis – he even has a bald head to prove it. There are a lot of jokes in media when it comes to hitting a rut in your late thirties and forties (though one suspects that Jack is a lot older than that.) The usual cliche is the flabby-gutted man (I’d like to point out that whilst a mid-life crisis can certainly happen to women, in media it is portrayed mostly by men,) stares around at his dead-end job, his content but dull family, and has a panic. This isn’t what he signed up when he was KICKING ASS in his teens and early twenties. He had all these dreams and aspirations that unfortunately conceded when he had a family to raise and got caught up selling stocks or whatever middle-aged people do for work. To combat the urge of wholeness he ditches the family for a younger model, gets shiny car, and races off into to the sunset.

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That’s one example and is often the man who has everything who begins to wonder: “Do I have everything?” After hitting the limit of his success, seeing no room to grow, they find themselves hollow with bitterness as content replaces excitement. Consistently good is not a challenge and it irks them into leaping into another career path or chasing after some crazed notion that usually sees them wind up in a worse position than before. This is the exact storyline of a Nightmare Before Christmas. The titular holiday is actually a shiny red car that Jack things will make him alive again. Pretending to be Father Christmas is the sudden career change that goes against his every fibre because he is bored of being this beacon of Halloween world. And like everyone who gets some spark of genius, he goes with full obsession on this Yuletide aesthetic to the point where the creepy population of his town even begin to worry about him. Imagine having a faceless clown tap you on the shoulder like: “Hey dude, your being a bit weird, are you alright?”

What’s warming is that we’ve all been there;  hitting the wall of monotony in a career that we actually kind of love.Heck, even singers and actors often have to take breaks because singing the same song repeatedly is like throwing their sexy assed bodies against a wall repeatedly. We’ve all lost inspiration and mistaken it for unhappiness. Which is exactly what happens to Jack. He completely loses it, despite better judgements telling him that he is fine or that straight up trying to be a bony Father Christmas is both an aesthetically and emotionally bad choice. But like all in the midst of a middle-aged breakdown, Jack doesn’t listen until it blows up in his face. Literally.

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After, Skellington realises his mistake but also gains a new appreciation for the world that he inhabits. He grows and uses his experience to craft. Now I’m not saying cheating on your wife or spending savings on a car you’ll eventually re-sell is a good idea. What I am saying, however, is that these experiences – especially around Christmas time, are normal. Loneliness, tedium, and a lack of will happens to all of us, no matter how happy or complete we recognise our life to be. But it’s just another puzzle for us to solve and as long as you don’t, you know, feed people to the villain of a place called HALLOWEEN TOWN, then, little buddy, I think you are doing alright.


Merry Christmas Everyone! 

The Truth Behind The Senator

A political scandal that dodged the camera’s lens for almost 50 years finally comes under new scrutiny with a new engaging political drama from John Curran (The Painted Veil). Starring Jason Clarke (Mudbound) as a dead-ringer for Senator Ted Kennedy alongside the talents of Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Bruce Dern (The Hateful Eight), The Senator shines new light on the infamous Chappaquiddick incident on Digital HD and DVD this month.

On 18 July 1969, United States Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island. He survived, but his passenger, 28-year old campaign strategist Mary Jo Kopechne, didn’t. The accident wasn’t reported for 10 hours, sparking a national controversy threatening the presidential ambitions of the once-considered shoe-in, and arguably ended the Kennedy family dynasty.

While the world knows the legacy of his older brother, President John F. Kennedy, with Hollywood even implicating a Marvel supervillain in a fictional account of his assassination, The Senator marks the first feature film account of a scandal that was once the national conversation. While the scandal and its key players were household names in the US however, the Atlantic Ocean and the passage of time risked them being lost to history here across the pond, so here’s our Quick Start guide to The Senator!

Born on 22 February 1932, Edward Moore Kennedy was the fourth and youngest son of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., who held a number of high profile positions under President Roosevelt. A member of the democratic party, Ted Kennedy was elected the Senator of Massachusetts at age 30, following his brother’s appointment as President.

Anticipated as a candidate for the position himself, the Chappaquiddick incident forever hindered his chances of high office. His only attempt, in 1980, saw him defeated in the democratic primary by President Jimmy Carter.

Despite the Chappaquiddick incident however, Senator Ted Kennedy was consistently re-elected throughout his life, serving the people of Massachusetts for almost 47 years, until his death in 2009. The fourth longest continually serving Senator in US history, he became known as “The Lion of the Senate” for not only championing economic and social justice, but also for his ability to negotiate compromises with opposing republicans.

Mary Jo Kopechne was a devout Roman Catholic who, after briefly working as a teacher, moved to Washington and later joined Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s secretarial team. Described as a “loyal worker”, she is known to have stayed up all night to type the Senator’s major speech against the Vietnam War.

During the 1968 presidential campaign, she helped compose the speech announcing Robert F. Kennedy’s candidacy and worked on his campaign as one of the “Boiler Room Girls”, who tracked and compiled data on democratic delegates’ voting intentions. She was reportedly devastated by the senator’s assassination later that year.

On 18 July 1969, Kopechne attended a reunion party for the Kennedy campaign team on Chappaquiddick Island. She left the event with Robert’s younger brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, who crashed his car in a nearby lake. Mary Jo Kopechne sadly passed away eight days before her 29th birthday. Her funeral was held in her home state of Pennsylvania on 22 July 1969.

Related through his mother’s side, Joe Gargan spent many summers at the Kennedy family home, where he and cousin Ted developed a close relationship. A lawyer by trade, he would later work on political campaigns for three key members of the Kennedy family: Senators Robert and Ted, and President John F. Kennedy.

A co-host of the infamous party on Chappaquiddick Island, Joe Gargan was one of two people Senator Ted Kennedy first told of the accident. After unsuccessfully trying to save Mary Jo Kopechne himself, Gargan tried to be a voice of reason for the senator, encouraging him to report the incident long before he did.

Gargan faded out of the public eye following the incident, practicing law and dedicating himself to helping sufferers of alcohol and substance abuse until his retirement. At age 87, Gargan quietly passed away in December 2017, months before the US release of The Senator.

By the time of the Chappaquiddick Incident, the controversial, once-leading politician had been confined to a wheelchair following a disabling stroke eight years prior. Despite losing his power of speech, he retained the mind that earned him success as an investor and political strategist.

Previously the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Roosevelt, Kennedy Sr.’s own political ambitions ended in embarrassed resignation during the Battle of Britain, following his defeatist attitude and the publishing of comments that “Democracy is finished in England”.

Kennedy Sr. remained prominent behind the scenes however, playing key roles in his childrens’ own political campaigns, including John F. Kennedy’s successful presidential bid, and assembling the strategy team in the aftermath of Chappaquiddick. Kennedy Sr. passed away in November 1969, aged 81.


The Senator releases on Digital HD on 13th August, and DVD 20th August, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.