Beauty and the Beast

Director: Bill Condon

Nominated for: Best Costume; Best Production Design

I’m a late 80s baby and therefore the Disney movies from the early 1990s, like The Lion King (Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, 1994), Aladdin (1992, Ron Clements & John Musker) and The Rescuers Down Under (1990, Hendel Butoy) hold a special place in my heart as they are the ones I grew up like, and none more so then Beauty and the Beast (1991, Gary Trousdale) which is my absolute favourite animated Disney classic. Needless to say I was a little bit wary when they announced that Beauty and the Beast would be the next in the current line of Disney animations to be re-imagined as live-action films. I also couldn’t wrap my head around how they were going to have real actors being the wonderful objects – like would they be identifiably the face of the actors providing the voices or what? I certainly did not expect to like this new version of Beauty and the Beast … nor did I want to like it … but I have to say that Bill Condon did an exceptional job and actually surpassed my expectations (and they were high expectations indeed!!)beauty-and-beast-2017-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

That’s not to say there aren’t elements that didn’t quite gel with me because there were. And sadly the one that just didn’t sit right at all was Emma Thompson’s Mrs Potts – or more specifically her accent. Now it was always going to be difficult to take one the role that was made iconic by the wonderful Angela Lansbury but I had faith the Emma Thompson would be the women to do so. And she wasn’t – her singing voice is wonderful but the accent she used for Mrs Potts was all wrong for me. I understand wanting to put your own spin on a character but Emma’s got such a lovely voice anyway that I didn’t really get the decision to go with an accent. In fact the accent’s in general were sometimes a bit hit or miss – like Ewan McGregor’s French accent as Lumière.

Sir Ian McKellen was brilliant as Cogsworth – the irascible old clock forever put out by Lumière’s failed plans. The relationship between the two of them is hilarious. And Cogsworth gets even better when they’re returned to their human forms and you discover that there is a rather unexpected harridan of a wife in his past life. Actually the way that they linked the villagers with those who had been trapped in the enchantment was one of the new elements that I liked the most. I also thought the idea of adding Stanley Tucci as a piano, Maestro Cadenza, was a brilliant one but then I love Stanley Tucci as an actor. He adds a lot of humour to his roles. Kevin Kline fits as Maurice – and by adding more of a back story to his life becomes a much sadder character which makes you love him even more.

mVa0DfBgIWHlLuke Evans just is Gaston – he’s perfect. It’s as if the animated character has walked off the screen and become Luke Evans. The look is spectacular and he can back it up with the voice needed for Gaston too. It is spot on casting! As is the casting of Josh Gad as his hapless sidekick LeFou. The interplay between the two of them is wonderful. But what I really like is that LeFou is allowed to develop emotionally as a gaston lefoucharacter. He definitely starts off as Gaston’s sidekick who blindly follows all his instructions and directions but he actually develops something of a conscience and begins to make decisions for himself after coming to realise that Gaston isn’t really the leader everyone makes him out to be.

Dan Stevens grew on me as the Beast but then I think that was just getting used to the make-up. The addition of the opening scenes of him as the spoilt Prince before the enchantment befalls the castle was a great decision as it shows the starting point of the man and makes his journey through knowing Belle all the more meaningful and a noticeable change in character by the end of the film. And the man has a set of lungs on him – I was very taken with his voice. I absolutely adore the new song written for the Beast. It’s beautiful, haunting and so emotional and perfectly fits the moment. But then the film benefited from having Alan Menken on board to write the music which meant that any new additions would still fit with the original songs thanks to him being the original composer. 

Belle is the Princess I want to be – even now – as she’s a reader and a feisty character. She’s not the damsel in distress that previous Disney Princesses were – in need of the Prince to save her. In fact it’s she who saves the Prince! As such it was really important to have the right person for her. And I actually love that it was Emma Watson. I know that the comparison has been made between Belle and Hermione from as far back as the very early Harry Potters but it is a worthy comparison and you just know that J.K Rowling will have been inspired by Belle when writing Hermione so it’s a choice that made sense for me. Sure there were moments when it was like ‘Oh there’s Hermione’ but not so much that it took you out of the film.

The costumes are simply stunning! They’ve managed to maintain the magic of the original film while at the same time putting their own stamp on things. Actually that’s one of the things the whole film did really well – the new additions were done carefully and enhanced the original film rather than detracting from it. It must actually have been quite a daunting position for the costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, as these costumes headshots_1490713523438.0are so iconic and yet animated so don’t exist in the real world in the same way. Especially the yellow ball gown that is very much the signature piece of the film. She has done an exceptional job – I got goosebumps the first time that scene comes on. It’s everything the original was and yet more because it was real this time. But I think the costumes that blew me away the most in terms of technical ability were the debutante dresses from the opening scenes that establish the Prince as the loathsome character he started as. These are all done in shades of cream, off-white and ivory and are absolutely stunning. They’re gorgeous – every one is an individual design that relies on different textures and patterns rather than colours to make them different from the others around them. It’s quite a brave thing to do as it could so easily have just all blurred into one but it was done masterfully and added a level of richness to the film. images

Now nothing is going to be able to replace the original animated Beauty and the Beast for me because that will always be my favourite Disney. But I will say that this film did an admirable job and actually took me by surprise in terms of how much I loved it. The new additions bring an added spark of life to the film without replacing or removing anything that made the original so magical in the first place. And oh my god – the library – so much more mind-blowing in this film than the animation. I’m still so very jealous!!

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Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Nominated for: Best Visual Effects

I’m not really a monster movie fan so I wouldn’t normally choose to watch a King Kong movie. But I am a Hiddleston fan … and as much sister is always telling me is I’m very shallow and quite often watch films just because they have someone I like in them. Kong: Skull Island was fantastic! I kind of knew it was going to be visually stunning before the film even came out as when we were at Universal Studios a couple of years ago they had just finished the ride and the visuals of that were awesome. The scale of the ride was epic so ultimately I knew that the film it was based on would also be larger than life.

poster_57517_1486991879Jordan Vogt-Roberts made a conscious decision to have the film set at the tail end of the Vietnam War and was heavily influenced by Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) I mean my dad came in and after watching roughly 30 seconds of the film guessed that it was set around the Vietnam War. The lighting, the score and some of the set pieces echo Apocalypse Now which helps to situate the film in a specific period of history. And it’s not just the technical aspects of the film that are influenced by the Vietnam War but also the narrative. The team of soldiers assigned to assist the scientific expedition, led by Samuel L. Jackson’s Packard, are very much products of their recent environments and the experiences they went through. They definitely have a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality about them which is rather a saddening thought. Because of their time in what has come to be recognised as a hellish war they’re completely blinded to the beauty and incredible nature of the island around them … at least at the beginning anyway. Samuel L. Jackson’s Packard is your Sam Jacksonstereotypical bad-ass army man who has let the power of command go to his head. His priorities have become skewed thanks to the war and he’s actually one of the most dangerous characters in the film – far more dangerous than the majority of the monsters inhabiting the island.

UnknownJohn C. Reilly is hilarious in this as the marooned World War II US soldier. He’s been stuck on this island for almost 30 years with an enemy, in the form of a Japanese soldier downed at the same time, and a native tribe of people who remain silent throughout. To say it’s left him with the inability to recognise if he’s speaking out loud is an understatement – he also has no filter which is brilliant. There is a sadness to his reaction when he asks whether they won the War only to be answered with “which one?” I also love the banter between him and Slivko as Cubs and Tigers fans, respectively, as by the time Kong: Skull Island was released Cubs had finally managed to not only get to, but win, a World Series. As I’ve mentioned before I’m something of a Tom Hiddleston fan and it was really enjoyable to see him in a pure action hero role – he’s not the antagonist for once (that’s not to say that I don’t love him when he’s being the truly antagonistic Loki because well … what’s not to love about Loki?!)

weaver's photosBrie Larson is awesome in this as Weaver, the war photographer embedded with Packard’s squad. At first glance she’s there to fulfil the beauty aspect of the classic ’twas beauty killed the beast that is associated with the King Kong legacy. But she is so much more than that. She is a real kick-ass female character who is about as far from being a damsel in distress as you can get. She is much more one of the boys and gets stuck in with all the rest of them. My absolute favourite part about her character is that the camera not only works but also had real film in at all times while they were shooting. All of those photos were taken by Larson – she’s got an incredible eye! And they really do bring to mind military photos – particularly ones from that era – there’s a strong resemblance to the work of Don McCullin. I mean sure there may be a giant skeleton behind them which is a bit incongruous once taken out of the context of the film but otherwise they could be straight out of recent history. Larson’s Weaver also has some genuinely touching moments with Kong – she is definitely the one who connected with him the most.Skull-Island

Kong is absolutely stunning!! The level of detail in his creation is outstanding and holds up under very close scrutiny as there are a number of close-ups on his face … which is so very expressive. And a large part of that is due to the skill of Terry Notary in bringing him to life through motion-capture. He is very much a protector in this film – displaying it on a number of occasions particularly the scene where he effortlessly lifts a downed helicopter off a giant wildebeest. Kong has the ability to switch from brutality to gentleness instantaneously evidenced in the fight scene with the skull crawler where he maxresdefaulttakes the time to rescue Weaver. The Skull Crawlers are the stuff of nightmares – they are hideous and seriously creepy looking. Perfect adversaries for Kong. I really liked that there was an obvious respect for Kong – and not just from the scientists on the expedition who you could argue are predisposed to look at new discoveries with open eyes. Indeed this respect counteracts the arrogance with which the whole expedition first arrives on the island.

I love the ending even if it is a very sentimental one – it’s one that brings a lump to my throat every time I watch it. Now I’m a film fan and it’s rare that I watch a film and don’t find something that I like about it – I just enjoying watching films of any sort – but my dad is much more selective in what he views and ultimately likes. You couldn’t really say that he watched Kong: Skull Island out of choice as I was monopolizing the shared living room but he actually rather enjoyed it I think. He certainly watched the entire thing and didn’t leave which is much more of a recommendation than me saying I loved it is (as I tend to love everything)

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Director: James Gunn

Nominated for: Best Visual Effects

I’m a massive Marvel fan anyway and although before they released The Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) I hadn’t really encountered this group of characters they very quickly became favourites of mine. The interplay between such a dysfunctional group was what made the first film such an enjoyable viewing experience and thankfully they took that interplay and improved on it for this one.guardians-galaxy-2-4k-uhd-main

The ever-present Marvel humour is there in full force – often centering around the extraordinarily cute Baby Groot and the various attempts to parent him throughout the film. And Dave Bautista as Drax is upping his game with some brilliant one-liners. Not only that but I love the way he looks at the world – it’s a beautiful thing that shows the audience that there isn’t one “right” way to approach everything. The addition of Mantis, played by the exotic Pom Klementieff, is one that really works. As an empath she gets straight to the feelings of the group and has this wonderful innocence about her. I love the relationship she and Drax form, the simplicity of it is a joy to watch. There’s none of the usual bullshit baggage that we as humans bog ourselves down with. They simply say, and show, exactly what they feel.

In fact the character development of the whole cast is great to watch – it’s keeps the dynamics interesting and feeling organic. The overriding theme to this volume is very much that of family, in all its various guises. Through Gamora and Nebula a light is shone of the dynamics of a sisterly relationship. As a sister I can really relate to that one – you may not always get along but there will always be love there and when the chips are down you’ll always look out for each other. I think they portrayed it really well – even if their relationship is an extremely violent one thanks to the dysfunctional parenting of Thanos! Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan are excellent in their roles … and I do not praise Karen Gillan lightly as she’s one of those actors that I struggle to connect with.

maxresdefaultThen there is Baby Groot – who is quite possibly the cutest thing to grace the screen ever! The Guardians are much more of a family unit now rather than the disparate characters thrown together by circumstance that they were in the first film. Rocket is not only dealing with an identity crisis and working out how he fits into this family but also trying to parent Groot at the same time. Mind you every member of the Guardians parents Groot – even Drax albeit somewhat reluctantly (which is ironic considering he is the only one who has actually ever been a parent before.) There is a sequence at the end that is just heart warming where Groot brings the whole team together.

Parentage and its importance is what drives the narrative of this one with Quill finally meeting his father in Kurt Russell’s Ego. Chris Pratt goes from strength to strength, maintaining his excellent comedic stylings while very much pulling the emotional heartstrings throughout the film. Ego looks wonderful at first glance – everything that Quill has spent his life looking for since his mother died. But he turns out to be very much a poisoned chalice – and somewhat crazy on an epic scale. It highlights the idea of nature versus nurture. Ego may be Quill’s biological dad but he was definitely raised by Yondu and owes the man he has become to him.

GotGV2_Home_Video_5The new adversaries for this film – the Sovereign’s – are a bit strange especially in the way they approach combat. There is an element of it being a video game as the fighter pilots are situated in these weird little pods far removed from the action. As such there isn’t the same sense of actual, physical danger, as they’re not actually involved in the field of combat. I guess that adds to their sense of omnipotence though.

guardiansI found Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to be much more emotional than the first film, but then this seems to be a trend in the MCU. The visual effects are once again top-notch and do the important job of enhancing the narrative of the film. The two are so intertwined which is the sign of excellent visual effects. The Ravager funeral is stunning – a cosmic firework display of epic proportions! And the battle between Quill and Ego really shows off the skills of the artists involved including the building of an anatomically correct being in stages while on the fly in the middle of a fight scene. I also particularly enjoy the scene where Yondu recovers his psychic fin and just wreaks havoc on his mutinous crew. It’s a wonderful marriage of visual effects, music and choreography. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 has upped the game for the whole of the MCU but then it is part of the next Phase leading up to the next epic event within the MCU that will be The Avengers: Infinity Wars … and I for one cannot wait for that event!!

Get Out

Director: Jordan Peele

Nominated for: Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actor; Best Original Screenplay

When the nominations were announced I was surprised to see a horror movie getting picked in the Best Picture category but now having seen Get Out I see why to does indeed merit the nomination. However, I would classify Get Out as more of a tense psychological thriller than an out-and-out horror movie – although it’s definitely slasher worthy in the final act.

Teaser_poster_for_2017_film_Get_OutIt’s an extremely well put together film that does keep you guessing for quite a length of time. Jordan Peele takes a more subtle approach to making his audience uncomfortable. There’s an essence of ‘wrong-ness’ that permeates the film as soon as Chris enters his girlfriend’s suburban family home. Get Out certainly doesn’t do anything positive for the long-help trope that the pleasant facades of a suburban neighbourhood in truth hide a multitude of shady, and at time downright creepy, acts that’s for sure.

I found the silent auction particularly creepy as it took place in fairly close proximity to the focus of the auction, Chris, and at that point in the narrative you had no idea what the reason was behind it just that no good could possibly come out of it.

The sense of wrong-ness morphs from a much more relatable prejudice against Chris’s race (which by no means makes it acceptable in any way, shape or form!) into a much more sinister feeling at quite a gradual pace. A number of characters reminded me of pod-people from various horror and sci-fi films. I have to say that I was more uncomfortable with the extremely thinly veiled, and at times blatantly obvious, references and comments about Chris and his background as the sad truth is that there are still far too many people in the world who truly think like that – just take a look at what the Trump Presidency is saying about where America is at the moment. This was particularly highlighted by Chris’ experience with the cop requesting to see his I.D. even though he wasn’t driving.

The Armitage family are just plain wrong on so many levels. Rose, Allison Williams, is particularly deplorable as she actively entraps Chris through their relationship. And it becomes clear that she has done this on a number of occasions. The difference between her two personas is remarkable. And then Caleb Landry Jones pops up again in the third 0236e7141a0f636ab085bd944fc046127148a98fd1022adadfc308dbbe7bf5aafilm I have watched for this year’s Oscars – he’s making quite a name for himself (and not just as an actor who has been in the most Oscar nominated films in one year without garnering a nomination himself) Each role he’s played has been entirely different, displaying his ability to turn his hand to any genre of film and create immensely watchable characters … I also love him as Banshee in X-Men First Class (Matthew Vaughn, 2011) by the way!

While it cannot be denied that Daniel Kaluuya is brilliant as Chris, because he really is, I think my favourite character was actually his friend, Rod, played by LilRey Howery. Chris is a nuanced performance from Daniel who deals with the racial prejudice with a dignity that does him great service. There’s also an immense strength of will to his character that the Armitage family fail to recognise to their peril. But Rod … well Rod is 27GETOUT-master768hilarious. He totally has Chris’ back and is instrumental to his ultimate survival. He’s also the only person who comes even remotely close to working out what depravity the Armitage’s are involved in. And he does it all against the backdrop of firmly open ridicule – we all need a friend like Rod!

Get Out is not your standard horror film and that’s why I found it really refreshing – and I guess why it’s done so well in the nominations this year.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Director: Rian Johnson

Nominated for: Best Visual Effects; Best Original Score; Best Sound Mixing; Best Sound Editing

I’m by no means an avid “this universe is my life” type of Star Wars fan but I do consider myself a fan – just one who forgets how much I like the films until I watch them. I don’t even mind the prequel trilogy – they might not reach the same heights as the original trilogy but they do serve a purpose. I was hesitant to say the least when The Force Awakens (2015, J. J. Abrams) came out – in fact I was so bored of the constant hype in the month’s leading up to its release that I refused to see the film in the cinemas – and yet it was a brilliant relaunch of a beloved franchise that captured the same essence that made the original trilogy so magical (and no I’m not old enough to have seen the original trilogy when they were first released!) That did mean however, that the stakes had been raised even higher for the next instalment which was to be the tricky middle film in a trilogy … notoriously difficult to get right as most people view them as the ‘filler film’.

The mixed reactions on its release, from both critics and my friends, resulted in me going into The Last Jedi with some trepidation … would it live up to the excitement I felt when watching The Force Awakens?! I’m happy to report that it did, and I couldn’t really understand why there were so many ‘meh’ reactions to it. I really enjoyed The Last Jedi and think it did an admirable job picking up from the fallout of the last film while setting up the final one. Let’s face it this film was always going to have a pretty cliffhanger ending to it as you can’t go into the final instalment of a trilogy with it being all rainbows and unicorns now could you?

The acting is once again incredible with some people really upping their game. And the character development is on point. Indeed, Kylo Ren, who was my biggest bug bear in The Force Awakens, actually has some sort of personality and dimension in this film. No longer is he just the whiny, snotty little boy railing at his parents and the whole world, and is actually pretty interesting for the most part. Of course he does revert to that annoying worst towards the end of the film.

There is actually a pretty strong representation from our little island across the pond (the UK if anyone’s unsure) with a slew of British actors scattered throughout the film. I particularly enjoyed Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux in the First Order – I mean how is that guy still alive let alone still in a position that seems to retain some semblance of power?! He is excellent as the obsequious, snivelling lower level bad guy and I love the interplay he has with Adam Driver’s Ren.

I love how the Rebels are peppered with some truly kick ass women in leadership roles. It’s something we need to see more of and not just in the movies but in every aspect of life. Actually the film is kind of dominated by strong female characters with Daisy Ridley’s Rey driving the main narrative and Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose driving the parallel narrative.

IMG_4621John Boyega goes from strength to strength as Finn while still providing some light relief with his comic timing. Indeed it seemed like there was much more of a current of humour running throughout the film this time round. BB-8 remains awesome and one of the most adorable things in the universe although he does have some competition this time round. A lot of this humour comes from the introduction of some pretty memorable new additions to the creatures of the Star Wars universe. star wars creaturesThe vulptex, also known as the crystal critters, were definitely my mum’s favourite but then they reminded her of our dog. I loved the fathiers – weird horse like creatures that are used for racing on Canto Bight and found the Caretakers who look like strange little fish-nuns hilarious. But by far my favourite new addition is the porgs – strange penguin/puffin type creatures with enormous eyes and no beaks – they are so adorable and create a lot of funny moments in their interactions with a reluctant Chewy.

It would be impossible to talk about The Last Jedi and not mention the loss of Carrie Fisher. Every moment she is on-screen has a bittersweet sadness to it but there is one moment in particular that brought a lump to my throat – when her and Luke are saying goodbye. This beautiful, touching moment between the two has an added poignancy to it and remains one of my favourite scenes from the film for the simplicity in portraying such emotion.

The special effects are always exceptional in a Star Wars film but then ILM is one of the most respected visual effects companies in the industry. I will say this however in relation to Snoke. I just could not help but see similarities to Gollum from The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003, Peter Jackson) but I think it’s mainly due to the fact that Andy Serkis brought both those characters to live through the use of CGI. It’s the way his mouth moves that really made me draw the comparison.

Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi screen grabI found Crait – the home of the forgotten Rebel base – absolutely beautiful and the battle that takes place there is visually stunning. All that red salt streaming behind the approaching ships creates some incredible images. It’s a brilliant set piece at the turn of the third act and provides a spectacular backdrop for some of the key moments of the film.

As always John Williams’ score is breathtaking but then the man is a genius and has been living in the world of Star Wars since the start so is well versed in every nuance of the stories told within it. Both the sound mixing and sound editing are seamless. There is one scene where Laura Dern’s gorgeous Admiral Holdo (I’m very much in love with her hair by the way!) pulls a truly selfless stunt that results in the destruction of Snoke’s ship that is an outstanding piece of filmmaking on every level but especially on its use of sound, or rather its lack of sound. It’s a confident director who understands the power that a moment of silence can have and isn’t afraid to use it. It’s definitely the image that has stayed with me long after leaving the cinema and so I leave you with it too … Enjoy! 

 

The Disaster Artist

Director: James Franco

Nominated for: Best Adapted Screenplay

First off I have never seen The Room (2003, Tommy Wiseau) so I was thoroughly unprepared for what The Disaster Artist, which is a dramatisation of the making of The Room and Tommy and Greg’s relationship I guess. I’m not sure I can honestly describe what I’ve just watched as it’s left me a bit discombobulated really, but I’ll try to form some coherent thoughts on it. Also just to say that I watched The Disaster Artist at The Prince Charles Cinema (in Leicester Square) which was followed by either a special screening of The Room or another of Tommy and Greg’s movies so I actually managed to catch a glimpse of Tommy Wiseau himself and he really does look and talk the way James Franco portrayed him in the movie! It’s very odd.

1489421599-wiseau-splitI genuinely cannot tell you if the film was trying to be bad or if it just ended up being that way. This is really highlighted by the makeup and hair. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to be bad when filming the movie within the movie or if it just genuinely was bad. Josh Hutcherson’s hair and Dave Franco’s beard where truly atrocious. I also found the makeup used to turn James Franco into Tommy The_Disaster_Artist_2 Wiseau quite jarring. At times it was excellent and you couldn’t see any of James Franco coming through but it sort of fluctuated throughout the film. This meant that there were times when you could see James Franco come through and that in turn highlighted the familial resemblance between him and Dave Franco who was playing Greg Sestero. I also found it slightly odd to cast your own brother in a film where the friendship between the two leads is somewhat questionable at times, even if it is one-sided. Or is it just that any film James Franco does seems to have a homoerotic undertone to it?

There are some recognisable names in this film – both in the weird conversation bit at the start, like Kirsten Bell, J.J. Abrams, and Kevin Smith – and in the actual film itself, obviously the Franco brothers, but also Seth Rogan, Josh Hutcherson, Megan Mullally, Jacki Weaver and Zac Efron (Zac is huge in this by the way – as in muscles not fat!). I can see why James Franco was beginning to rack up the nominations for Best Actor as he is pretty incredible in it and unrecognisable for a lot of it … it’s just a shame that the #MeToo sexual harassment movement has had some impact on his career given the current allegations against him. It takes a real skill to take something that you actually do well and do it badly and boy does he do this well – after all we all know the acting chops he has thanks to 127 Hours (2010, Danny Boyle)In fact everyone who acts in The Room segments of The Disaster Artist does an incredible job as there are some brilliant young talents being completely wooden and, frankly, terrible. It’s actually painful to watch at times the acting is that bad.  And James Franco’s accent is incomprehensible at times which just adds to the essence of bad.

Dave Franco definitely deserves a mention too as, aside from the god-awful fake beard, he is the one lone sane voice that can ever get through to Tommy which results in a fair 12-the-disaster-artist-trailer.w600.h315.2xbit of pressure on him. He’s the kind of character that you latch onto in order to make some sense out of the craziness surrounding you. And nothing highlights the craziness so much as the premiere screening of The Room in The Disaster Artist which has the feeling of collective madness to it. The audience abandons all pretences of trying to take the film seriously and results in this maniacal outpouring of laughter.

I completely get why it has become a cult movie but I’m not sure that it would have the same impact on me now having watched The Disaster Artist first. I can’t help but draw a comparison to Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994) which is an homage to one of arguably the worst B-Movie directors in the history of film and that’s saying something because B-Movies weren’t that great to begin with … that’s part of the appeal of them … and this has the same sort of feel to it. Or at least it’s approaching a homage but I don’t know there is just a much more polished feel to Ed Wood than there is to The Disaster Artist – maybe it’s because Ed Wood was shot in black and white which makes it feel classier.

The scenes from The Room are pretty much shot for shot perfect – the pre-credit sequence puts them literally side by side and the likeness is outstanding. While I can’t tell you whether I enjoyed the film or not, as I’m still not entirely sure what I watched, I can tell you that it was definitely an experience that’s for sure.

 

 

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The Big Sick

Director: Michael Showalter

Nominated for: Best Original Screenplay

I’m not sure why but I wasn’t really drawn to The Big Sick from the trailers and poster I saw but it turned out to be a rather sweet, funny, and at times highly emotional movie.

Kumail Nanjiani, playing himself, is charmingly funny even if he is at times somewhat cringe-inducing in his humour. I love the way he portrays his familial relationships – there is a lot of love and humour there right alongside all the traditions. It makes for a much more relaxed portrayal of a muslim family than I’ve seen in mainstream media, especially his dad who is pretty jovial – the exact opposite of what you expect a muslim patriarch to be.

While the film is predominately about his relationship with Emily (Zoe Kazan), a white American woman, the cultural clashes that said relationship throws up open the door for wider philosophical questions about Kumail’s life. My particular favourite is when he asks his parents why they left Pakistan if they did not want Kumail to experience an American life. There’s the sense that Kumail is trying to work out a balance between the traditions of his family and his place of birth, Pakistan, and the place he now calls home.

Zoe Kazan bounces off Kumail wonderfully and effortlessly. I think what I really liked about the humour of the film is that it feels natural – it feels like the sort of back and forth you’d get with a real relationship. At times it is awkward and dorky but that makes it relatable. I don’t know if this is simply because the film is partly autobiographical or if the screenplay was written by both Kumail and the ‘real Emily’ – his wife Emily V. Gordon.

I can’t imagine putting any of my life on-screen for the masses let alone a period of time that was clearly traumatic and uncertain. There’s an honesty to the emotions that I guess comes from the fact that Kumail actually did live through those events.

Emily’s parents are kind of brilliant and I think much more accepting of Kumail and Emily’s relationship (certainly in the dramatised version) than Kumail’s much more traditional family. In fact, Emily’s mum, played brilliantly by Holly Hunter, has an active hand in ensuring Kumail remained in Emily’s life after her illness.

What could have all too easily become a fairly depressing movie turns out to be a charming feel-good movie with a lot of emotions but also a lot of laughs. It’s a film that have been handled delicately to tell a personal story in an honest and heart-warming way and I’m really glad I gave it a chance.the-big-sick-review_r91k