drama

Maleficent-Review, Why is everyone Scottish?!

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Hey guys sorry for the late upload, was planning on doing this for last week but kinda got a little side tracked. Anyhoo I went to see the new Disney film Maleficent and thought I’d share my thoughts on it with all of you!

 

Maleficent, for those who don’t know, Is a film where the well known version of sleeping beauty is taken and told from a different point of view, this being the antagonist in the form of Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). This kind of film has been done before but honestly I don’t think it has ever been done better on the big screen. Angelina Jolie, despite my initial worries, is absolutely brilliant in her role and really helps carry the film. Not to say the supporting actors are bad it’s just no one else really gets explored in terms of character apart from her. The pacing of the film is good although it does seem far shorter than the actual run time suggests, which I take as a positive but others may not see it the same way.

The film has a coherent storyline so those of you that fancy going to see the film without knowing anything about sleeping beauty fret not. One thing I would say though is that although this is a PG rated film and yes there isn’t any swearing, blood, gore or anything along those lines I don’t think I could recommend taking your children to see it. The film is quite gritty and dark and although it makes for a great engaging film for adults I could easily see children finding incredibly boring and then in turn being incredibly annoying as your trying to make them sit there quietly for two hours. So yeah, watch on your own if you can!

Just remember though despite the grittier re-telling this is still a Disney film so of course they have comic relief characters, this time in the form of the three fairy sisters, and moments of slight cheesiness but other than the odd occasion the film does seem much more catered towards adults. The visuals in the film, especially in the introduction bits where everything is bright, are gorgeous and the CGI in the film is incredibly well produced, and without spoiling anything, especially in the fight/action sequences. On the same note with the costumes, they are terrific especially the work that must have gone into Angelina’s horns.

Sharlto Copley does an outstanding job as Stefan and his character progression was one of my personal favourite parts of the film. Another Actor who I have to mention is Sam Riley who plays a very well preformed Diavel, especially the on screen chemistry between him and Angelina Jolie. One strange thing though that my girlfriend pointed out to me after the film had ended was that almost all of the humans in this film had Scottish accents. Now it doesn’t really bother me but it is a little strange as it must have been a conscious choice by the director and writers as Copley was born in Johannesburg so it’s not like it  was a coincidence. But apart from that this is a great film that I thoroughly recommend going to see.

 

Maleficent gets an 8/10 and is highly recomended.

-Joe

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Fading Gigolo- Review

Directed by John Turturro

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“Never has sex for cash been so classy, if somewhat fabricated.”

 

Written, starred and directed by John Turturro, Fading Gigolo tells the story of Fioravante (John Turturro) who decided to take up the oldest known profession in history. Prostitution. Pressured by financial difficulties, Fioravante discovers that this new line of work moonlighting as a man whore appears to be a promising commercial venture. With the help of his life long friend Murray (Woody Allen) acting as his agent/pimp, the duo begin to make decent money. On one end Murray meets lonely woman or bored housewives in need of a quick fix, and arranges the meet for Fioravante who will go to the client’s apartment and flog his wooing wares. Issues arise however when Murray arranges for Fioravante to meet a recently widowed Jewish mother-of -six named Avigal. Her arrival at the newly appointed gigolo’s apartment for a simple massage doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. Matters become more complicated when a local neighbourhood watch officer named Dovi (Liev Schreiber), who has a soft spot for Avigal, becomes involved and set in motion a crosscurrent between love and money.

 

This film is set in New York, and it is apparent that a lot of inspiration has been taken from previous Woody Allen films when taking in the style and cinematography on screen. Whilst Woody Allen had nothing to do with the directing or writing of the film, I wouldn’t be surprised of Turturro sought after his advice on the execution of certain scenes. Everything from the expanded shots of New York accompanied with soft Jazz, and the stylistic filming of the cast conversing in the streets is decidedly Allen inflected. Here, it serves the movie justice and is done very well. It adds an old styled charm to it and gives a joyful reminiscent to classics like “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”

 

Performances throughout were convincing. Turturro’s character as the modest, calm and slightly aloof middle aged hooker, was dovish enough to be likeable and sensitive enough to provide depth. Woody Allen’s character was also done in the typical Allen fashion, mumbling quips and making comical jibes. However, this film is not what I was expecting. This isn’t a side splitting comedy, and if this is what you are after you’ll have to look elsewhere. Yes, the occasional sarcastic quip and funny anecdote are present, but the majority of the film is that of a drama. It deals with the clashes between money and love; it covers loss and loneliness, jealousy, unhappy marriages, and religion. Fading Gigolo startled me in places, as it had some really rather unexpected touching and sad moments, which are not at all, put across in the blasé attitude fuelled trailers you can see on the Internet. These moments I found were when the film was at its best because you really took an interest into the stories behind each of the characters.

 

The films biggest downfall lies with the gigolo aspect to the plot. You will indeed struggle to suspend your disbelief as you witness some of the most gorgeous woman you’ve ever seen, pay up to $2000 to pay to sleep with Fioravante (well played Turturro well played…) At this point you sit back in your seat, as a Colombian temptress in boutique lingerie pays Turturro a wad of cash and leaps on a bed, and think “Yeah right.” This fallacy becomes most apparent during a ménage a trios scene with Sophia Vergara, a woman who could make a man’s genitals explode into a nuclear mushroom cloud by simply walking past him on a street.

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In what world would Sofia have to pay for bedroom antics???

 

 

Verdict

 

By no means a hilarious comedy, but with its charming style and awesome soundtrack, never has sex for cash been so classy, if somewhat fabricated.

 

Luke

 

Thirteen – a review

One of the most intense movies I’ve come across in a very long time, Thirteen is a journey that creates a roller coaster of emotions within its audience from start to finish. thirteen

Focused on the life of thirteen-year-old Tracy Freeland, the movie was written by Catherine Hardwicke and Nikki Reed, who also stars in the movie as the other protagonist. It is a semi-autobiographical film inspired by Reed’s life at age 12 and 13, with, interestingly enough, the character of Tracy being loosely based on Reed, as opposed to her own character, Evie.

The film begins by giving us a brief glimpse into Tracy’s life – living at home with her brother and her mother, who is a recovering alcoholic and who isn’t very involved in her daughter’s life, Tracy is quiet and reserved. This doesn’t seem to bother Tracy at the start, however, as she seems content to spend time with her young-minded friends doing homework and being typical thirteen year old girls. This is until Evie Zamora, one of the beautiful ‘popular’ girls at school, makes a negative comment about Tracy’s outfit – this upsets Tracy, who immediately races home and throws away anything she deems ‘uncool’, in an attempt to rid herself of her childish things. She then begs her mother to buy her better clothes, which she does – this results in Tracy receiving a compliment from Evie at school a few days later, which sends her spirits soaring. She relishes feeling accepted by the girls who are admired by everyone else at school, and so sets out to impress them further, hoping to win their friendship, and, in turn, obtain some of the shine that seems to surround Evie and her friends.

But then, what begins as a little scheme to get noticed blossoms into something much more serious – Tracy ends up falling into a pattern of bad behaviour, and adopts the attitude to go along with it. Encouraged by Evie, and her own desire for acceptance and praise, Tracy starts spiralling downwards into a whirlpool of theft and violence. This soon escalates to severe drug and alcohol abuse, and even results in Tracy having sex with a boy who is much older than she is.

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Tracy (played by Wood) and Evie (played by Reed).

All of this starts to have an effect on Tracy as a person, and this definitely does not go unnoticed by her mother. She sees Tracy stumble in at all hours of the night, always with Evie tagging along right behind her, and this then puts a strain on their relationship as mother and daughter. Tracy herself gets lost somewhere along her journey, and we see that the pressure to grow up too fast becomes too much for her at times, and she becomes self-destructive as a way to cope with that. Everything then comes to a boil when the truth is revealed, resulting in Evie moving away and Tracy’s mother being left to pick up the pieces of Tracy’s broken soul.

This movie caused much debate during its release, due to its addressing of topics such as substance abuse, underage sex, and self-harm. However, from the moment it begins, it is simply breath-taking – featuring scenes scattered with a rawness not often seen in bigger Hollywood-style productions, this film goes the extra mile in telling a story in a way that is tragic and yet, utterly enthralling. The cast, too, are exceptional – Nikki Reed is brilliant as the enigmatic yet manipulative Evie, while Evan Rachel Wood is captivating as Tracy. Tracy’s mother is also a role that deserves bountiful recognition – portrayed by Holly Hunter, she is the perfect example of a mother who is simply desperate to find the girl she once knew to be her daughter. While trying to get through to Tracy and get her back on the right track, we see her also struggle with issues of her own, with her dependency on her ex-drug addict boyfriend causing a major rift between her and Tracy.

While Thirteen may not be a typical movie for a group of friends to watch together on a Friday night, it is definitely a film that encompasses depth, emotion, and honesty throughout. And in no way does it glorify the illegal activities carried out by the young teenagers – instead, it portrays them in a way that is true, and showcases just how lost a person can get when they’re trying to find themselves. This is a movie that I think everyone can relate to in some way or another, because really, it’s all about the lengths people will go to in order to fit in and feel accepted. This film is astonishing in its deliverance, and while it can be a little unpolished at times, this only adds to the realness of it.

4/5 – A brutally honest film that will stick with you for a very long time.

~Steph.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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4.5/5

“A charming, funny, and profoundly eccentric film”

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a comedy drama written and directed by Wes Anderson and inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. The film recounts the adventures of an eloquent and charismatic concierge named Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) who runs the legendary “Grand Budapest Hotel” amidst two great wars. To accompany Gustave on his adventures is his dutiful lobby boy Zero Mustafa (Tony Revolori), who soon becomes Gustave’s most loyal friend. The story centres on Gustave’s inheritance of a priceless work of art by one of the guests who, shortly after becoming infatuated with him, dies and leaving the painting in his possession. The rest of the family take hum bridge to this decision and try by any means necessary to get the painting back. Aware of this tricky situation, Gustave decides that the best course of action is to steal his own painting and thus set sail a series of events, which sees Gustave end up in prison over the suspected murder of the recently deceased guest.

The Grand Budapest hotel is a film brimming with innovative and clever Ideas, which help this film to stand out from the rest. The plot for example starts in the present, moves into the past, then even further back in history to where it all started. In the opening of the film, a teenage girl approaches a monument to a writer in a cemetery. In her hand she is carrying a memoir written by the author regarding a trip to that he once made to “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Here the film then cuts to the hotel which has clearly fallen on hard times due to the war, with the place being under furnished and the guests few. From here the film follows the author as he explores the hotel and meets with an elderly man who happens to be the owner. From here the elderly man then begins to recount the story of the Legendary Gustave H. (a former concierge of the Grand Budapest.) From here the film then cut to where a majority of the story takes place, during the life of Gustave. Essentially it’s a story within a story within a story. Storyception.

This unique narrative approach also has a profound effect on the way in which the film is made. Clever work with the cinematography of the film has given the landscape a two-dimensional look about it, to give the impression that the setting is an illustration in a book. This charming feature pays homage to the fact that the entire film is in essence a story coming to life.  It is all done beautifully well.

The acting throughout the film is solid. From Fiennes giving a convincing performance of a concierge serving the upper classes, to Defoes rather creepy portrayal of a “family hitman,” there were no characters within the story I felt were stilted or uninteresting.  Many of the characters within also had strange or otherwise amusing mannerisms that served to further bring alive the story as it transpires.

However, this film isn’t without its pitfalls. At times the rather libertine structure of film caused some parts of the plot to not fit together comfortably, and consequently making it seem as if events and dilemmas are being pulled out of thin air. This is at it’s most notable point towards the end of the film, when the story of Gustave seems to just come to a very abrupt halt as the story claws its way back up to the present. Regardless, it is still a charming, funny, and profoundly eccentric film that has been done so brilliantly, that these pitfalls wont detract from this otherwise terrific film.

Verdict

 

A creative and innovative piece of filmmaking, backed by a solid cast and colourful plot- It is almost reminiscent of a Monty Python film

4.5/5