‘After’ (2019) – Film Review

By Ciéra Cree – Initially, to be honest, I didn’t intend to write a review about this film. For a while it seemed like it was going to unfold into a typical story similar to countless…

By Ciéra Cree

Initially, to be honest, I didn’t intend to write a review about this film. For a while it seemed like it was going to unfold into a typical story similar to countless others of its theme – a girl moving away to college and falling for the wrong kind of boy – but, evidently, it amounted to something more since I am here writing this for you today.

Originally published in 2014 as a YA romance novel by American author Anna Todd, the book obtained its film adaptation in 2019, more precisely on the 12th of April, after seeing significant success. There are numerous other books in the ‘After’ series including ‘After We Collided’ (2014), ‘After We Fell’ (2014), ‘After Ever Happy’ (2015) and ‘Before’ (2015) but, to my knowledge, there currently stands as only being the one film from the selection available on Netflix.

Warning: this review contains light spoilers.

With Josephine Langford taking on the lead role of Tessa Young, a freshman and only child of a single “overprotective” mother, ‘After’ offers viewers a vicarious slice of student life through the eyes and experiences of our young female lead. Tessa is reserved yet simultaneously outspoken; she would much rather be alone reading a book than be dragged along to an alcohol-abundant party by her year-older roommates Steph (Khadijha Red Thunder) and Tristan (Pia Mia) but at the same time she knows how to stand up for herself when she really wants to.

Pictured: Tessa & Steph together at a house party.

Throughout the story we see these two sides of her emerge at differing moments – for instance, in a game of truth or dare she refuses to answer the truth or go through with the dare alternative, walking away from the game altogether to suit herself however, on other occasions, we can see that she caves into doing or going places for the sake of fitting in.

It makes sense that Tessa would want to fit in after moving to a new state away from everything that she knows but as the film progresses we learn more both about her character as well as her true desires. She has been with her boyfriend since highschool but, upon moving away, you could question whether this is because he makes her happy or because she doesn’t know of anything else. I liked Noah (Dylan Arnold) immediately; he seemed kind, thoughtful and good to her, but after she moved away to college and met Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) she opened up further to the world as well as within herself.

Pictured: Tessa & Hardin swimming in a private lake.

I appreciate how this film, although simple, carries a lot of messages. Of course there will have been many which I have missed from this first viewing but one of the predominant ones that I caught would be the importance of living a life which is truly your own, for yourself. Despite the rollercoaster of highs and lows that Tessa faces once Hardin and college develop to be a new norm, her old life becomes cast in shadow and displayed to those watching in a fresh light when they connect. Before we saw this girl as someone smart with a nice boyfriend and a helpful mum, seemingly living a perfect life, but in time we realise that she isn’t living a life that is perfect in her eyes, but rather in her mothers. 

‘After’ is the birth of a young lady into the start of a future which is truly under her own agency and control. It talks to us about living, not just being alive and going through the motions of what others believe that is best for us, and it talks about love blossoming from places that are reluctant and unexpected.

We learn about Hardin who, at first glance, comes across as a somewhat arrogant jock but beyond his exterior he holds tenderness, a poetic quirky nature and remnants of pain. In the process of watching this film, likewise to how Hardin self reflects, viewers can also learn a bit about themselves too due to its many thought provoking subtopics including honesty, forgiveness and change.

Pictured: Tessa & her mother at home.

Overall I enjoyed how this film encouraged me to think, admittedly more than most of the film itself. The events were rather predictable and I struggled to click into the narrative until around half way through when it picked up and got more interesting. Although, that being said, it isn’t something that I regret taking the time to see. Tessa’s innocent demeanour colliding with that of Hardin who was notoriously deemed as a complicated “bad boy” was intriguing to see play out, especially towards the end. And the way that additional information was detailed about her mother during a conversation with Hardin was insightful and it helped me to piece together why Tessa’s previous life had been moulded in the way that it had been.

Images: Screenshots from the film by Ciéra Cree


‘Mogul Mowgli’ (2020) – Film Review

By Jasmine King – Bassam Tariq’s Mogul Mowgli follows Zed (Riz Ahmed), a popular British-Pakistani rapper whose ambition is to perform on his first international tour. After…

By Jasmine King

Bassam Tariq’s Mogul Mowgli follows Zed (Riz Ahmed), a popular British-Pakistani rapper whose ambition is to perform on his first international tour. After spending time performing gigs in New York, Zed flies back to the UK to visit his family, whom he hasn’t seen for a couple of years. During this time, however, he is suddenly plagued by a disease leaving his debut tour in limbo.

Mogul Mowgli opens with a bang! As Ahmed takes us back to his MC roots (Riz MC), the eruption of energy transferred to us via the performance is extraordinary. Tariq’s style of documentary filmmaking is evident in the film’s scenes, in particular when Zed is captured reminiscing upon the mixtapes that he created as a youngster in his family home. Archived footage of Ahmed as a young boy accompanies this particular moment, assisting in illustrating his ever-present passion for music to viewers.

The film tackles identity issues through rising conflict as friends imply that Zed isn’t proud of his Pakistani roots. They often label him as a “sellout” and one can remark that the way he changed his name from ‘Zaheer’ to ‘Zed’ is an indication of the struggles faced in Britain as a Pakistani descendent. To change his name in order to fit into society more comfortably, despite the fact that the lyrics of his songs seem to, in actuality, indicate holding pride towards his heritage, illustrates this further.

We see him returning to his roots throughout the story, attending prayer at a Mosque and rediscovering who he truly is.

Upon Zed falling ill, the film does a great job of capturing the real and raw scenes of his ongoing treatment. From the highs of family and friends coming together in solidarity, to the lows portraying the struggles in his surrounding relationship with his parents, Ahmed, Tariq and the supporting cast are to be commended for their tremendous efforts on and off the screen.

Mogul Mowgli teaches us the importance of self-acceptance and overcoming our deepest trials while simultaneously acknowledging the struggles that those in similar positions to Zed face on a day-to-day basis. Zed’s characterisation is captured thoughtfully, which will never go unappreciated, and neither shall his journey. This film is more than worthy of a watch!

Images: Taken from IMDB

‘All The Bright Places’ (2020) – Film Review

By Ciéra Cree – Over the lockdown period caused as a result of COVID-19, I gradually noticed myself making time to watch films. The title ‘All The Bright Places’, similarly to…

By Ciéra Cree

Over the lockdown period caused as a result of COVID-19, I gradually noticed myself making time to watch films. The title ‘All The Bright Places’, similarly to the instance of what happened when I stumbled across ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ on Netflix, seemed somehow familiar so I decided to hit play.

At this point the only things which I knew about the film were that it was under two hours long and that one of its subgenres was romance. Now, however, I know a bit more; the story was initially published in 2015 in the form of a novel by Jennifer Niven, for instance, and it won awards including Goodreads Choice Awards Best Young Adult Fiction. 

Warning: this review contains spoilers.

Disclaimer: although not overtly detailed within the review, this film deals with topics such as depression and suicide.

‘All The Bright Places’ tells the story of a young student, Violet Markey (Elle Fanning), and the internal struggles that she faces. Within moments of starting the film, a viewer can detect her introverted nature and that she seems to be a person that does all that she can to maintain the division of her internal dialogue merging with that of her external world. She is quiet, glum and irritable; opening up to others is far from her forte. 

Pictured: Violet & Finch standing in one of the “surprise wander” locations.

To those who don’t know her, Violet’s nature may seem rather cold and although throughout the scenes we learn that she does indeed have friends, she tends to attempt to outcast herself regardless – that is, until she meets Finch.

Theodore Finch (Justice Smith), in my opinion, was a great portrayal and the film really wouldn’t have been the same without him. Yes, I suppose it’s easy to say considering that he’s one of the two mains in the script, but his multidimensional characterisation provided such a beautiful addition to the plot.

Finch met Violet on what would have been her belated sister’s nineteenth birthday. He was out on a run around the streets when he came across her standing on a ledge where the car crash that tied her siblings fate occurred. Despite being in a bad way, she still urged him to go home.

On the surface to some viewers this story as a whole could be broken down very simply: a young girl is grieving the death of her sister, she meets a boy and the boy makes her feel happy. On one hand this deconstruction isn’t untrue but if you’re looking for something a bit deeper then I encourage you to stay tuned.

Pictured: A medium close-up on Violet’s expression in the car.

The camerawork used during shots of Violet when she speaks to Finch is thoughtful and, on this end, it definitely didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. For example, when she is opening up to Finch in his car on the way to visit one of their many future “bright places”, the focus lingers on her face for what would normally be an uncomfortable amount of time. We are sutured into a medium close-up, as if we are positioned beside her, while we wait to see if she can muster up the words to describe how she feels. In a sense those shots, to me, shared somewhat of a resemblance to that of ones which in horror utilise psychoacoustics in order to create anticipation or suspended disbelief. Especially since Violet showed blatant understandable fear about entering the vehicle, the line delays worked well to throw a viewers thoughts around, in turn assisting to anchor their attention onto what she did go on to say.

Additionally Finch’s persistence is a strong element of the film to explore. Why did Violet, a girl whom he previously did not know, and her happiness mean so much to him? And, in relation to this, what spark did he see in her that no one else had?

Pictured: Finch spacing out in a cafe while accompanied by Violet & her friends.

I adore the way that this film holds a polysemic nature, as well as the fact that deeper meanings can be deciphered. No lie, as a watch it has made me think, which I believe is something that art should aspire to do. The tale caused me to ponder the impact of selflessness and how easy it is for people to assume that others have it easier than themselves. It’s nothing new when I say that there is no way that we can know what others are going through but the ways in which the film, largely through Finch, chooses to emphasise Violet’s good qualities and focus on the light that she holds within is so tender and inspiring.

From how she dressed and spoke to her sense of humour and facial expressions, Violet very much felt like her own person in this film as opposed to someone who was only seen as sad and struggling. And Finch; from beginning to end his quirky mannerisms, upbeat tempo and infectious desire for spontaneity remained evident, which is all the more powerful once we eventually learn why and what he is willing to go through to place warmth in someone else’s heart.

Images: Screenshots from the film by Ciéra Cree

‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ (2018/2020) – Film 1 & 2 Review

By Ciéra Cree – We all have those days where we wake up and can a) instantly tell that we are going to get very little done or b) where we can tell that our minds just need a day…

By Ciéra Cree

We all have those days where we wake up and can a) instantly tell that we are going to get very little done or b) where we can tell that our minds just need a day off. On this particular day, despite my best efforts of hoping to be a bit productive, I could sense that my head didn’t want to cooperate. 

I’m not a person who tends to watch a lot of Netflix, which may come as a surprise considering that I’m soon to be entering my second year of Media BA (Hons). But something in me decided to have a random browse through their “originals” section. There were numerous enticing titles but when I saw ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ my brain instantly made a connection. It must have been months prior but on a piece of paper, which is now goodness knows where, I made a list of shows and films that I would like to check out sometime in the future. This film was definitely one of the ones on it, so I hit play.

Warning: this review contains heavy spoilers.

Cast from left to right: “Josh Sanderson”, “Margot”, “Lara”, “Kitty” & “Peter Kavinsky”.

Based off of the 2014 book of the same name by Jenny Han, ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ tells the story of sixteen-year-old highschool introvert Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor). Lara lived at home with her father (John Corbett), her older sister Margot (Janel Parrish) and her eleven-year-old younger sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) before Margot moved away to Scotland to start university. After Margot leaves, Lara is left feeling even more isolated than before both within her general life as well as among the grief of losing their mother, so little sister Kitty decides that it is her duty to step in.

Although Lara was shy and had never had a boyfriend, it didn’t mean that she had never had a crush! Hidden away in a teal hat box, she kept an assortment of letters addressed to, as the film title suggests, all of the boys she had ever loved before. In total there were five: one for her neighbour Josh Sanderson (Israel Broussard) who happened to be Margot’s ex-boyfriend, one for “Kenny from Camp” (Edward Kewin), one for Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), one for John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Burtchett) and one to a boy called Lucas (Trezzo Mahoro). These letters were all handwritten and included the addresses of the boys, despite not being stamped.

To me, as a viewer, this already raised some questions. Why would Lara address all of these letters despite never intending to send them? Or perhaps she would tell people that she never intended to even though she secretly wanted to? The fact that she addressed the one to her neighbour as well seemed rather peculiar, considering that he only lived next door. Her letters were not anonymous either so mailing it to Josh would have made very little difference.

Maybe it was more about the sentiment behind it; the idea of mailing someone a love letter the old fashioned way could have appealed to her passionate nature? Part of me is still left to wonder how she happened to have all of the boys addresses too. Some were more understandable because, of course, she would know the address of her neighbour and the boys whom she was friends with. But, for instance, in the case of John Ambrose, they met at a conference once years ago and that was the extent of their interactions. 

Technicalities aside for a moment, Kitty posted off all five of the letters behind her sister’s back with the aim of finding her a boyfriend. As a character I really like Kitty. She is blunt and funny and speaks in a matter-of-fact sort of way which comes across as simultaneously charming as well as somewhat sassy. She doesn’t seem to think into the consequences of her actions, only bearing the end goal in mind, which is inspiring but also helps to remind viewers that she is still an eleven-year-old irrespective of her intelligence.

Needless to say that when Lara starts being approached by the boys, due to the mail, she is confused and in a state of panic. Initially she is unsure of how they were leaked so she attempts to merely dismiss them. But when the reality hits that one of the five letters was sent to her sister’s ex-boyfriend she knows that she has to do something, fast. 

So what does she do? She makes a pact with Peter, one of the five recipients, to pretend to date in order for her to seem uninterested in Josh and to make Peter’s ex, Genevieve (Emilija Baranac), jealous so that she’ll take him back.

Pictured: Peter & Lara.

From that point onward I felt that the romance element was relatively predictable. I could tell that Lara, at least, would end up falling for Peter, since she had never dated someone before and that was her first feeling of closeness. It’s the follow up film, ‘To All The Boys: PS. I Still Love You’ (2020) which, for me, took the films to a deeper level.

In the second film Lara and Peter, by that point, are actually dating. She seems noticeably happier, as echoed by the remarks of her family, but when another figure from her past makes a sudden reappearance she begins to question everyone and everything. John Ambrose, one of her past letter recipients, just so happened to sign up to volunteer at the same work experience placement as her and she is beyond shocked, since believing that his letter must have gotten lost mid departure. 

Pictured: John Ambrose & Lara tidying a room at their volunteering placement.

This film explores Lara as a person more extensively than the first which is something that I really appreciated. It delves into her hopelessly romantic heart and her desire to find something beautiful, as well as the ways that the mind can misinterpret and distort the beauty which is already in front of us. She begins to see Peter differently and convinces herself that he doesn’t want her – only Genevieve. 

Genevieve isn’t overly likeable but towards the end of this sequel seeing a softer side to her was highly impactful. Throughout the films she consistently acted hostile towards Lara, usually unwarranted, and we assume that it’s because there is jealousy between them over Peter. An element of that may be true but when it becomes apparent to Lara that Genevieve isn’t as harsh as she seems to be the truth of where her feelings should lie about the pair of them reveals itself.

Overall I liked these films; they were heartwarming, sweet and easy to watch. The second one, in my opinion, was better than the first although in order to properly digest it you need to have watched the one prior. 

From an analytical level there were some parts such as addressing the neighbours letter, John Ambrose magically happening to volunteer at the same placement as the main character and the way that Lara would go to sleep and wake up in false eyelashes which potentially lacked some attention to detail or came across as unrealistic but on the whole they were enjoyable. There were touches of thoughtful detail within the films such as when viewers could hear Lara’s thoughts that I wished were explored further but I can see the appeal for simplicity when portraying content in a genre like this.

(Sidenote: I definitely smiled when discovering that Ross Butler was a part of the cast for film two!).

A third film, ‘To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean’, is estimated for release late this year.

Images: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images and Bettina Strauss/Netflix

‘The Gentlemen’ (2019) – Film Review

By Lily Brown – My first cinema experience of the year was to see Guy Ritchie’s latest film, The Gentlemen. I have to admit I have never seen some of Ritchie’s more famous films, including Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and RocknRolla…

By Lily Brown

My first cinema experience of the year was to see Guy Ritchie’s latest film, The Gentlemen. I have to admit I have never seen some of Ritchie’s more famous films, including Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and RocknRolla. However, I had seen his Sherlock Holmes films and I enjoyed those. I had seen the trailer for The Gentlemen and been drawn in by the strong cast and exciting action sequences. This film did not disappoint, I would happily pay to go and see the film again at the cinema.

Matthew McConaughey and Hugh Grant, both once known for their roles in romantic comedies, are continuing to show audiences that they have other strings to their bow. McConaughey plays the lead man, Mickey Pearson, and is both charming and rather scary when necessary. Hugh Grant’s Fletcher narrates most of the film and offers some comic relief which is welcome during some of the more serious scenes. Fletcher, a private investigator working on a story for a big newspaper on Mickey and his enterprise, is not only funny but a potentially unreliable narrator, with Charlie Hunnam’s Raymond pulling him up on the more dramatic and fanciful elements of his tale. Henry Golding, who I recently saw in Last Christmas, plays Mickey’s cunning adversary Dry Eye. Michele Dockery, playing Mickey’s beloved wife, Rosalind also shone in her role. She showed range as both an independent and astute businesswoman, warning Mickey that he would not be able to hang around all the time once he retires, and wielding a gun when necessary. However, she is ultimately saved by Mickey when threatened by Dry Eyes in her office.

The film balances comedy, action and some darker subplots well, and although some of the action may seem far-fetched it is never to the detriment of the film. Perhaps the darkest part of the film involves the death of the Laura Pressfield, the daughter of a wealthy family Mickey is associated with. Despite Mickey and his right-hand man, Raymond, attempting to return her home to recover from her heroin problem she dies on her parents’ front lawn. This scene is juxtaposed with Mickey talking to George, his counterpart in the heroin industry, about the differences between their products. Some of the action scenes were so tense I was on the edge of my seat and I thought the scene where Mickey is rushing to the aid of his wife was particularly well-acted.

The film jumps around a little, with some moments being replayed and with the film catching up to Fletcher’s narrative. I found that sometimes it took a moment to work out where the narrative has picked up and whether we were seeing a flashback or watching the action in real-time. However, overall the film is a joy to watch with plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience guessing at the ending. The film’s finale, while initially hinting at a cliffhanger ending, ties everything up nicely. I hope we get a sequel!

The Film Corner: April Filmmaker of the Month

By Piotr Wysmyk – Scorsese is considered one of the most greatest directors. Taxi Driver (1976) was the first movie which developed the unique Scorsese style of filmmaking/storytelling. From that point, his career really started…

By Piotr Wysmyk

Martin Scorsese


Born in 1942, American director and producer.

Scorsese is considered one of the most greatest directors. Taxi Driver (1976) was the first movie which developed the unique Scorsese style of filmmaking/storytelling. From that point, his career really started. His first success was later followed by the other, also highly popular films such as: Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Departed (2006). All these productions are considered classics of gangster/mafia genre and, undoubtedly, have established Martin Scorsese as the master of this specific genre. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is Martin Scorsese’s most recent box office success. The Irishman (its release is already set for the second half of 2019) is probably going to be the director’s great comeback to the gangster/mafia movie genre.

 Are The Wolf of Wall Street and Goodfellas Similar to Each Other?


Undoubtedly, The Wolf of Wall Street and Goodfellas are Martin Scorsese’s most recognisable films. At first glance, they might be considered to be different from each other. On the other hand, there is a possibility that the more detailed analysis will reveal some similarities. In my review I am going to analyse both movies to find out if there is any commonality in them.

Goodfellas presents the fact-based story of three gangsters: Tommy (Joe Pesci), Henry (Ray Liotta) and James (Robert De Niro). The story begins from Tommy’s and Henry’s childhood days and their introduction (provided by James) to the world of organised crime. The film is later followed by the images of their adult lives which are marked by the brutal struggle to climb up in the mafia’s hierarchy. However, at the end of the day, there is always a high price to pay for such a life…the main plot is interlinked with side threads which concern the main character’s private lives which are full of the often appearing images of decadence, emptiness and exaggerated extravagance.


The Wolf of Wall Street is the fact-based story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) – the rich Wall Street Broker who is the owner of the Brokerage House called Stratton Oakmont. The film sweeps through the all stages of Jordan Belfort’s career – from the first days on Wall Street, through his days of prosperity (as the owner of the Brokerage House), to the breaking point and the final conclusion marked by downfall of his empire. The Wolf of Wall Street centres on the overall account of the main protagonist’s private life which is full of falsity, self-destruction and wrongdoing.

At first glance, both analyses’ reveal some similarities between Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street. Both films are fact-based productions and, due to that fact, they somehow belong to the genre of biography/fictionalised documentary. The plot seems to concern totally different topics. However, there are themes which appear in both films (e.g. self-destruction, wrongdoing, paying a high price, emptiness). From the technical point of view, both films contain of the no-dialogue/no-monologue scenes where voice-overs take the lead. Such scenes seem to be a part of Martin Scorsese’s signature strategy of filmmaking/storytelling.


 -Martin Scorsese’s biography, available online at: https://www.biography.com/people/martin-scorsese-9476727



 Casino, 1995. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA/France: Universal Pictures.

Gangs of New York, 2002. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA/Italy: Miramax Films.

Goodfellas, 1990. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA: Warner Bros.

Taxi Driver, 1976. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA: Columbia Pictures.

The Departed, 2006. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA/Hongkong: Warner Bros.

The Irishman, 2019. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA (not released yet).

The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA: Paramount Pictures.


‘Instant Family’ (2019) – Film Review

Instant Family (Directed by Sean Anders), was not only a hilarious film, but also very heart warming and extremely emotional. We were laughing, then crying and then doing both. It was a whole whirlwind of emotions which made…

Instant Family (Directed by Sean Anders), was not only a hilarious film, but also very heart warming and extremely emotional. We were laughing, then crying and then doing both. It was a whole whirlwind of emotions which made it one of our instant favourite films (pun intended).

Instant Family is based loosely on a true story, or as it says on-screen: “Inspired by a true story”. In fact, after doing some research, we found that it was inspired by the writer/director’s own experience of adopting, surrounding the issues and emotions he faced while going through the process. The film follows a married couple, Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) who want to start a family and decide that they want to foster a child. They intend to foster a 5-year-old girl, but after meeting Lizzy (Isabela Moner), an uncontrollable 15-year-old girl they decide to foster her. Little do they know, she won’t be fostered without her younger brother, Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and her younger sister, Lita (Julianna Gamiz). Pete and Ellie go from no kids, to three kids in a matter of days as we watch them struggle in their new role as parents. We found ourselves connected to them and felt like we were going through their new process too.


From watching the trailer which featured Rose Byrne, who’s mostly known as a comedic actress, we thought the film was going to be a classic comedy. But oh, how we were wrong – it was touching and emotional and often left us in tears (tbh, we are total emotional wrecks most days and it really doesn’t take much in a film to make us cry, but this film made us SOB) Nevertheless, it was also a very funny film, with many comical gags occurring throughout that really did make us laugh out loud. Since the film was based on a real-life story, it showed the reality of family, highly relatable for many; arguments with your parents, flighting with siblings, parents trying to get involved in your personal life.

Another great element of the film was its acting. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne were the perfect pair to play Pete and Ellie; they had great on-screen chemistry as both a married couple and new modern parents and they were kind of cool, like the parents you wish you had (sorry mum and dad). The scenes transition so well and the little montages showing them all falling in love with each other and becoming a proper family really made us grin (and happy cry).

Instant Family really shines a light on some of the issues that come with the fostering process and the length some people have to go through to be able to foster. It also showed how the parents feel when they foster kids, highlighting the emotions they go through which is shown through the parents going through support groups with other foster parents. At the support group they used humour to talk about serious issues the new parents were facing. Issues such as: accepting a new person into their lives or whether their new child will cut their throats in the middle of the night (you’ll laugh when you watch it). Nevertheless, the intention to capture the joy that family can bring worked, and it was amazing watching these strangers become a family and forming their ‘cosmic’ bond.

instant family

Overall, this is a very enjoyable film, giving you comedy, drama, some slight action, a whole load of emotions and Mark Walhberg’s biceps, (His biceps look like they were stolen from Hercules himself). Instant Family really had us crying up until the last moment, including the credits, where they displayed images of real-life foster families, including Sean Anders and his family.

The film promotes fostering and adoption, providing a website for people to find more information out about the subject in the credits. If you are interested or want to find out more about the process, follow the link here: InstantFamily.org

Instant Family is released in UK cinemas February 14th

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUfZq3DUd3Y

(Read more of Jess’ work at jessreviewsfilms.wordpress.com)

Our Top Ten Christmas Films

By Jess & Amy – The Christmas vibes are in full swing, Christmas is tomorrow and our Christmas break has only just begun… If you’re not feeling the Christmas spirt yet, then here are our top ten Christmas films, to get you in the mood for Christmas…

By Jess & Amy

The Christmas vibes are in full swing, Christmas is tomorrow and our Christmas break has only just begun…

If you’re not feeling the Christmas spirt yet, then here are our top ten Christmas films, to get you in the mood for Christmas!

The Princess Switch (2018)


What is it about?

A Netflix original movie about a duchess who switches places with a Chicago baker called Stacey, who looks exactly like her (Vanessa Hudgens plays both the duchess and Stacey). Problems occur when the duchess falls for Stacey’s lifelong friend Kevin (Nick Sager) and Stacey falls for the Prince (Sam Palladio).

Why we love it.

Christmas isn’t exactly crucial to this plot, but having it set during the Christmas month in the fictional country of Belgrvia makes it magical (plus the element of falling in love as a Christmas wish is any girls dream). Any Christmas film that has a cheesy love storyline, is a film we want to watch! Sam Palladio is everything to us, so him with not one but two Vanessa Hudgens is like, WOW. Kinda annoyed they didn’t have a little duet because both Sam and Vanessa have amazing voices, but maybe that can be a sequel?

Fun Fact.

Jess actually met Sam Palladio who plays the Prince, here is a picture after an 8-hour flight looking tired (but still looking hella fresh).


The Polar Express (2004)


What is it about?

The film, which is inspired by the book of the same name, is set on Christmas Eve where a young boy embarks on a magical journey upon ‘The Polar Express’ to the North Pole after questioning the existence of Father Christmas. On board he meets other children who are all supervised by the trains conductor who is on a tight schedule.

 Why we love it.

It’s a heart-warming film about family, friendship and reliving your childhood fantasy of meeting Santa (them fake Santa’s you meet in shopping mall’s never really made the cut). A proper family film that always leaves us in tears when he finally hears the bell (you’ll know what we mean when you watch). Plus, Tom Hanks, is iconic, even if it’s only his voice we are hearing.

 Fun fact.

You can actually have a trip on ‘The Polar Express’. There are many experiences offered by different train companies. Why not google it too see if they offer a magical journey near you.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)


What is it about?

The film is a live-action adaption of the book by Dr.Seuss, it’s about the Grinch (voiced by Jim Carrey), a reclusive and grumpy creature who hates not only Christmas but the who’s (residents of Whoville) as well. He decides to dress up as Santa and steals all the presents and everything Christmas related from the residents of Whoville.

Why we love it.

This is a Christmas classic and a must watch every Christmas! Realising the Grinch isn’t really mean, he was just bullied in his past. The songs are just amazing, and we love singing along!

Fun fact.

Universal pictures recently released a new animated version of The Grinch, its same story with some slight variations, once again it’s a great film but it also has an amazing soundtrack performed by Tyler the Creator.


The Santa Clause (1994)


What is it about?

On Christmas Eve, Calvin (Tim Allen), along with his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), accidentally kill Santa by causing him to fall off a roof while delivering presents. After he dies, Calvin finds a business card, telling him to put on the suit and become the new Father Christmas. The film follows Calvin and his struggles to become the new Santa while trying to maintain a relationship with his son and his ex-wife and her new partner.

Why we love it.

Watching Tim Allen becoming Santa is always a laugh especially since he accidentally killed his Santa predecessor. Him shaving just to have a full white beard later is also hilarious. Then him gaining weight overnight and not knowing why is great (and we can all relate) but ultimately, he does become the Santa we know and love.

Fun fact.

This film is the first part of a trilogy; The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.

Love Actually (2003)

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What is it about?

With a multi-strand narrative, we follow many different characters (who, in some small way are all connected). Set on the lead up to Christmas, this film is about love, heartbreak and friendship. It’s a proper British film, showing school nativities, a dancing prime minister (Thersa May is shaking) to forbidden friend love and puppy love. Love Actually literally has it all.

Why we love it.

Emma Thompson. Hugh Grant. Colin Firth. Andrew Lincoln. Liam Neeson. Chiwetel Ejiofor. Kieira Knightly. Bill Nighty. Kris Marshall. A Young Thomas Brodie Sangster and ALAN RICKMAN.

Need we say more?

Fun fact.

I can’t lie, I still don’t think I am over Alan Rickman’s character buying his secret affair that gold necklace and breaking Emma Thompsons characters heart.

Home Alone (1990)

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What is it about?

After Kevin McCallister’s (Macaulay Culkin) family, forget about him and leave him behind on a trip to Paris, he finds himself living a dream, being able to do what he wants. This is until two men try to rob the house, and he finds himself protecting the house all by himself, coming up with creative ways to keep the thieves out.

Why we love it.

As a kid I wanted nothing more than to be left at home alone just so I could defend my house from robbers. This film made me want to do all the crazy stuff that Kevin pulls off because it just looked so cool. Not only is it about this badass kid, it’s about Kevin realising that he loves and misses his family and actually couldn’t live without them. The scene where he reunites with his mother and they share a hug always makes me cry, and then when the rest of the family return… so emotional.

It’s such a classic that I do judge you if you don’t like it.

Fun fact.

Jess hates this film.

Elf (2003)


What is it about?

As a baby, Buddy is accidentally taken by Santa to The North Pole, where he is raised by elves. However, buddy knows he is very different. Buddy who knows he doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the elf leaves The North Pole in search of his real father. Arriving in New York, Buddy gets to grips with human culture. Along the way, Buddy finds love, helps his dad to grow a heart and helps boost Christmas spirit.

Why we love it.

Not all of us do. Jess hates this film too (such a Scrooge), so much so she refused to write anything about it. Never the less I always end up watching this film at Christmas time, and I know I am not the only one. This is just a great feel good film, filled with Christmas spirt and cheer which just makes you happy from laughing.

Fun fact.

When I watch this I always end up saying “Did you hear that” after I burp, it’s a curse.

The Holiday (2006)


What is it about?

After Amanda (Cameron Diaz) finds out her boyfriend has cheated on her and Iris (Kate Winslet), finds out the love of her life is engaged to another woman, they decide to swap homes for Christmas. Iris leaves her little cottage in snowy Surrey for Amanda’s beauty mansion in sunny LA and vice versa. After wanting nothing to do with men, Amanda meets Iris’ brother, Graham (Jude Law) and after a one-night stand, they decide to start seeing each other, for the remainder of time she has in England. While Iris meets another kind of man, Arthur (Eli Wallach), who is an award winning, retired screen writer. Arthur teaches Iris all about the old films and how to “be the leading lady of her own film” (That bit always makes me cry). This film isn’t really about Christmas but more set around Christmas.

Why we love it.

Jude Law and Jack Black? Hell yes.

This is one of these films that is so romantic is makes you sick, it is so cheesy, but it makes you grin from ear to ear. One of these films you can’t help but smile at, even if you are bitter like Jess.

Fun fact.

This is my (Jess) all time favourite Christmas film. Like every other Christmas film can die because this one wins all the awards.

Arthur Christmas (2011)


What is it about?

Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy), the son of Santa, second in line to become the next Santa, goes on a mission with Gran-Santa (voiced by Bill Nightly), to make sure a little girl gets her present on time. The modern ways of delivering presents have meant that it one girl is missed. Santa and Steve, a stickler for the rules, believe it’s impossible to deliver the present in time. Arthur however can’t stop thinking about the little girl waking up to nothing on Christmas day so he makes it his mission to make sure she isn’t forgotten.

Why we love it.

It’s a heart-warming film that can be enjoyed by everyone in your family. I really love the element of bringing the old ways of Santa with the ways of using technology, especially in the end when they find a balance between personal delivery with technology aiding them.

I’m just waiting for a second film tbh.

Fun fact.

Justin Bieber has a song in it, and that’s the only reason we saw it, but I (Amy) ended up loving it, and watch it every year since.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)


What is it about?

Since the death of their father, siblings Kate and Teddy don’t get along. However, on Christmas eve when Teddy is looking after Kate they hatch a plan to capture Santa Claus on camera. Their plan works, and they get footage of Santa in the flesh, but when Kate wants to get a close up of the sleigh, things go wrong. They startle Santa on his sleigh causing him to lose control and crash, losing his sack in the process. The kids must team up with Santa in order to save Christmas.

Why we love it

Ok, so since this is a Netflix film we both thought it was going to be cheesy af, just like the princess switch, we were wrong. This film has a potential to become a Christmas classic. It was very very good. Kurt Russel plays Santa brilliantly, he’s funny and witty and full of magic. This films depiction of Santa is quite refreshing and becomes one of mine favourite film Santas. It’s also reimagines the look of elves, creating them fully from CGI and making them look like small cute furr-like creatures.

Fun Fact

Santa doesn’t say ‘Ho Ho Ho’ until the end of the film and it becomes the most satisfying thing.

The Film Corner: December Filmmaker of the Month

By Piotr Wysmyk – Ritchie gained recognition from the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) – his debut feature film. His career succeeded further in 2000 with the release of Snatch. Although Guy Ritchie’s career in film industry hit a low point, he was…

By Piotr Wysmyk

Guy Ritchie

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Born in 1968 – British Director.

Ritchie gained recognition from the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) – his debut feature film. His career succeeded further in 2000 with the release of Snatch. Although Guy Ritchie’s career in film industry hit a low point, he was still in the centre of attention due to his marriage with Madonna (married in 2000, divorced in 2008).

Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) earned Ritchie his comeback, earning him a huge box office success. They were later followed by The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017, for now it is the last production of this director).

Sherlock Holmes VS Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – (Review)

Sherlock Holmes and its sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows are probably Guy Ritchie’s biggest box office successes. Although the sequel is the direct continuation of the previous movie, each film presents its own, unique approach to storytelling and filmmaking techniques.

Sherlock Holmes introduces all the main characters such as Sherlock Holmes, his partner John Watson and also some supporting characters (e.g. Mary Morstan and Irene Adler). This time the famous detective meets his match in Lord Henry Blackwood – the villainous member of the secret cult. His sinister purpose is to plunge the English population in fear of him in order to take over the whole country. Sherlock Holmes puts much effort to take the villain down but it proves to be a very hard task due to Henry Blackwood’s supernatural forces. He clearly seems to have the Devil on his side…

From its very beginning, Sherlock Holmes seems to be packed with darkness, mystery and suspense. The film is usually set in dangerous, gloomy streets of 19th century London. One of the main focuses of the movie is the horrible world of crime with enigmatic Lord Henry Blackwood at its centre. There are many weird, unexplained deaths/disappearing’s and the audience has to wait until the very end to get to know the solutions to these riddles. From a technical point of view, the film’s colour palette (darkened in post production, stripped of the natural colourfulness) and the selection of specific music/sound builds a disturbing atmosphere of darkness, gloominess and mystery.

In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows the detective has to fight against his arch enemy – Dr James Moriarty. The evil doctors plan is to take over the arms industry and start a world war in order to earn money by selling weapons. Sherlock Holmes and his allies prove to be determined to stop the vicious plan. However, the Moriarty’s power of destruction plunges all of them into the cruel race for their lives.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows presents something totally different than the previous movie. It shifted from gloomy streets of London to the international setting (different parts of England, Germany, France, Switzerland). The main basis of this film is the constant threat of politico-diplomatic disaster (outbreak of the world war), instead of the mystery of dark powers. In such a manner, the whole storyline gains a more militaristic character (e.g. more shoot-outs, soldiers from different countries, presentation of many types of weaponry of 1890s). From the technical point of view, this atmosphere is additionally highlighted by the slow motion scenes (e.g. reloading the guns, flying bullets).



  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, 2017. Directed by Guy Ritchie. USA: Safehouse Picures.
  • Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 1998. Directed by Guy Ritchie. UK: SKA Films.
  • Sherlock Holmes, 2009. Directed by Guy Ritchie. USA/Germany: Warner Bros.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, 2011. Directed by Guy Ritche. USA: Warner Bros.
  • Snatch, 2000. Directed by Guy Ritchie. USA/UK: Columbia Pictures Corporation.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E., 2015. Directed by Guy Ritchie. USA/UK: Warner Bros.

‘Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald’ (2018) – Film Review

By Jess Weal – Before you read this review just know, I am writing this at 4am after the midnight screening. I have been awake for 22 hours and am only running on coffee. “You could have waited till the morning to write this” I hear…

By Jess Weal

Before you read this review just know, I am writing this at 4am after the midnight screening. I have been awake for 22 hours and am only running on coffee. “You could have waited till the morning to write this” I hear you say, but I needed to get my emotions out about right now! I also wanted you to know I am better than you because I went to the midnight screening and you did not. But let’s get on, shall we?

Anyone who knows me knows how much of a ‘Potterhead’ I am (hate this term but I know y’all will come for me if I use another one). The whole Harry Potter franchise is my life, to the point where I have tattoos that my parents hate me for (sorry mum and dad). And let’s be honest, the only real reason we are getting this “spin-off” is because Jo wanted more money, that’s just the tea. Despite all this, I loved it, so let’s talk about that.

Crimes of Grindelwald carries on from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has just escaped prison and is trying to get all pure-blooded wizards together to rule over muggles (so basically Voldermort because apparently, they couldn’t come up with a better idea). Newt (Eddie Redmayne) is back in London and has been asked by Dumbledore (Jude Law) to go to Paris to go after Grindelwald and stop him. Credence (Ezra Miller) is alive and looking for his family (he doesn’t have a bowl haircut anymore, thank god). And Dumbledore… he is sexy as hell and I’m not embarrassed to admit it.


Negatives first, because there always has to be one… or many in this case.

Johnny Depp is trash. Nice to look at in the 80s. But now he is trash.

The film follows way too many different storylines, to the point where some things that are said, which seems like they would be extremely important to the plot, are rushed over! I literally turned to my friend, like “what is going on?” It was really confusing, and everyone was here, there, and everywhere. There were so many unanswered questions, which seem like they probably couldn’t be answered in another film, and so many things are happening that contradict all the Harry Potter films, people are related to other people and it’s all very confusing! And I know this isn’t another Harry Potter film, but if you are going to have Dumbledore and Hogwarts, then I’m calling it a Harry Potter film.

I need more Young Grindelwald (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Young Dumbledore (Toby Regbo) in the film! Having them on the screen, for about collectively, 30 seconds was not enough. Do you know how much I screamed when I saw Jamie was playing Grindelwald again? Do you know how much I screamed when Toby popped up in the trailer for about .5 of a second? You don’t, but my sisters do because I left them a voice note screaming about it. All my screams for about 30 seconds of screen time? No, thank you.

We all know Dumbledore is gay, so I want more of that. We know he loved Grindelwald, but we don’t know if Grindelwald loved him back and I need to know this! This is such a massive part of their relationship together and the fact that their history is brushed over completely is actually pretty ridiculous. We need to find out more in the next film or I’m suing!

Other than all this. This film is pretty amazing and I actually loved it more than Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Again, I’m going to compare this to Harry Potter and I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help it!

Seeing Hogwarts again, honestly, I wanted to cry. It felt familiar, it felt like home.

We actually get to see Dumbledore teach Defence Against the Dark Arts, and he uses a Boggart and the names of his students are the last names of the students in Harry Potter. It was all very… you guessed it, familiar. And I loved it, I loved the little easter eggs that were in it, stupid stuff that maybe people who weren’t majorly obsessed with the Harry Potter franchise wouldn’t recognise.

Whoever cast Young Newt should get a pay rise because that was an amazing match, I was actually shook, it was really like looking at a young Eddie Redmayne. Also, after this, my Eddie Redmayne obsession has come back again, so if you need me, I will be watching Les Mis on repeat for the next 24 hours.

Kind of love that Nagini is a person in this, really weird though, but watching her turn into the snake version of Nagini was amazing. It was a really interesting way to introduce her to the plot, and we all know how it ends for her, but I can’t wait to see how she gets to that point, what she goes through to get to Voldemort and why they bond the way they did.

We get introduced to Bunty, who is in it for all of 5 minutes. But, in them 5 minutes, she tells Newt to take off his shirt and if I was in her position I would have done the exact same thing. Bunty is the real hero of this film.

2 words. BABY. NIFFLERS. I want one! No, I need one. Imagine having a baby niffler. Ohh my god, I can’t think about it I get too emotional.

Jacob, Tina and Queenie are all back again. I just ship Jacob and Queenie, so much! Tina and Newt are alright I guess, but it is kind of a hetty relationship that doesn’t really need to happen.


This film has so many plot twists and surprises, I was sat there with my mouth wide open at so many points. There are so many things that will just remind you of Harry Potter and will make you want to go back and watch all the films again. Mini spoiler, but there are a few characters from the Harry Potter films that you may recognise (the names at least).

There is so much more to say, but there are so many things to spoil I want to quit while I am ahead!

Of course, I am going to see this film again, and I recommend you all see it too, regardless of if you were a big Harry Potter fan or not. This film is amazing, and you will love it.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in cinemas now

‘Robin Hood’ (2018) – Film Review

By Amy Williams – Robin Hood (2018) directed by Otto Bathurst is a re-telling of the classic folklore story of Robin Hood.  We all know the story, the thief that steals from the rich and gives to the poor, right? Well this film tells you to think again…

By Amy Williams

Robin Hood (2018) directed by Otto Bathurst is a re-telling of the classic folklore story of Robin Hood.  We all know the story, the thief that steals from the rich and gives to the poor, right? Well this film tells you to think again.

The films acts as prequel to all the legendary tales of Robin Hood and follows the origin of the outlawed legend who starts out as the rich Lord, Robin of Loxley. He falls for Marian, a do-gooder who he catches trying to steal a horse from him. They are separated by war, as he is drafted by the Sheriff of Nottingham to fight in the war against Arabia. Years go by, and upon his return he finds Nottingham’s people in a state of oppression and poverty due to the “war” taxes put in place by the Sheriff. With help from John, Robin finds a new desire to hit back at authority and in some way take revenge upon the Sheriff.

Let me tell you, Taron Egerton is amazing, I loved him from Kingsman, and I loved him in this. He effortlessly becomes ‘Robin’ as if the role was just for him. His stunts were choreographed seamlessly and he executed them brilliantly with what looked like little to no effort, what a brilliant actor! (I saw a video online of Taron’s training sessions for handling a bow and arrow and its clear he had an unexpected talent for archery). I also loved the youth he brought to the character of Robin and felt that he was very charming, I quite enjoyed his topless scenes as well, I can’t lie.

What lets this film down was the narrative alongside the script. There were so many unnecessary exchanges between characters, I sat rolling my eyes for half of the film as well as thinking how much the writers messed up with the script. The narrative doesn’t flow as well as it should have and this film had so much potential and that’s why it’s so frustrating.

“Is it weird that I wanted to see more blood and violence?”

Another issue I had with this film was the aesthetics. The mixture of the colourful clothing and the modern-day style of some outfits didn’t fit in well with the rest of the look of the film, sometimes it looked as if it was set in the modern day and sometimes it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong the visuals and general look of the film was quite good. The heavy CGI that aided a lot of the action scenes wasn’t too bad. However, many of the action sequences left a lot to be desired, is it weird that I wanted to see more blood and violence?

I didn’t want this to be such a negative review but as much as I wanted this film to be amazing, it just didn’t seem to meet my expectations. The acting from everyone was fine, but the script just let the whole film down. Dare I say it, but there could possibly be a second film, the ending certainty sets it up. However, I don’t think it’s had quite a good enough reception to justify a second film.

Nevertheless, I still recommend that you watch it, simply because Taron Egerton is an excellent actor and I guess it is quite a cool action film. It’s also nice to see an action film without guns for once since the main weapon of choice is a bow and arrow.

Robin Hood is in cinemas now.

The Film Corner: November Filmmaker of the Month

Reservoir Dogs, released in 1992, is considered to be his directorial debut. But, Pulp Fiction (1994), one of the classics of cinema, gave him international recognition, winning an Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1995…

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino (born in 1963) – actor, producer, director, screenwriter.


Reservoir Dogs, released in 1992, is considered to be his directorial debut. But, Pulp Fiction (1994), one of the classics of cinema, gave him international recognition, winning an Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1995. Then his filmmaking career really started. As a director, screenwriter or even actor (he often played supporting roles in his movies), he created many generously awarded, known worldwide movies such as: Kill Bill (2003) and Kill Bill 2 (2004), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Django Unchained (2012, another Academy Award for best screenplay in 2013) and, most recently, The Hateful Eight (2015). All mentioned productions are Quentin Tarantino’s main projects, both directed and written by him. Undoubtedly, they represent his own unique, signature style of storytelling.

Quentin Tarantino’s Style of Storytelling

Throughout almost three decades, Quentin Tarantino has had an opportunity to build a quite impressive portfolio of films. He used his screenwriting potential to develop his own, quite recognisable, signature style of storytelling. I am going to explore it by analysing three of the Quentin Tarantino’s key productions: Reservoir Dogs (1993), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2013).


In Reservoir Dogs, the gangster boss gathers a team of gangsters who do not know each other. Their task is to rob a jewellery store. The suitcase full of valuable diamonds is the proof of the heist’s success but something has gone wrong in the process. The police has already known about the planned robbery. This means that there is a “rat” amongst the gathered gangsters…

Who is a snitch? This is the question which main characters are trying to answer throughout the plot of the movie. Many retrospections and the disturbance of the chronological order of scenes offer us the unfinished jigsaw puzzles which need to be put in the correct place. Reservoir Dogs is also full of “decorations” such as: catchy dialogues (e.g. the conversation about giving tips), violence or exaggerated bloodiness. Sometimes scenes are such a joke that we can hear Quentin Tarantino laughing straight in our faces (e.g. the torture scene where the torturer is dancing to the diegetic sounds of cheerful jazz music).


Inglourious Basterds is set in 1944. Here we can see many characters having their own stories to tell. The most important plot threads are linked to the team of Jewish American soldiers killing Nazis in occupied France, the other group of American soldiers planning to assassinate Adolf Hitler and the young Jewish French woman owning a cinema in Paris. All stories and characters lead to the one conclusion – to the assassination attempt of Adolf Hitler…

This time the film presents the historical setting which Quentin Tarantino has been trying to reflect. However, in this case the historical accuracy usually falls prey to his screenwriting creativity. Again there is a lot of catchy dialogues (e.g. the conversation between Hans Landa and French peasant or the pub shoot out scene) and violence. The chronological order of scenes seems to be preserved. Nazis are portrayed here as people prejudiced towards Jews and black people (which is basically quite accurate) and that fact leads to many racist, dark jokes appearing in Inglourious Basterds (e. g. the question game scene is probably the biggest source of racism in this movie). Basically the Third Reich and Nazis are presented here as a laughing stock. Such approach is highly attached to satire.


Django Unchained is set in USA, in the 19th century (before the American Civil War). It follows the story of a German bounty hunter and the black slave liberated by him. The Bounty hunter offers a fair exchange: Firstly, the black slave is going to help him catch his targets, and in return, the Bounty Hunter is going to liberate the black slave’s wife from slave labour.

Django Unchained is a film loosely based on Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. This legacy is accompanied here by the fictional presentation of the harsh reality of black people being enslaved in pre-Civil War America. This film is much bloodier and violent than Inglourious Basterds and Reservoir Dogs. Again we can witness catchy dialogues but sometimes there is more depth into them (e.g. the conversation between the Bounty Hunter and black slave about the goddess from Germanic mythology.) The movie is also a satire on the owners of plantations (they are prejudiced towards black people and that prejudice is presented by racist, dark jokes).

It is easy to notice that each film has a different setting and making such shifts is probably one of the Tarantino’s qualities. However, sometimes there is a comeback (e.g. The Hateful Eight, released after Django Unchained, is a comeback to western setting). Tarantino’s plots themselves are often very simple but presented in a way which make them interesting to watch; his endings can be really surprising as it is not stated whether everything is going to end well or not (some main characters might die at the end). The disturbance of the chronological order is also considered to be the one of the most recognisable of Tarantino’s tricks (however, not always used.)

In such a way, the three chosen films perfectly present the overall picture of Quentin Tarantino’s storytelling style.



  • Django Unchained, 2012. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. USA: Columbia Pictures
  • Inglourious Basterds, 2009. Directed by Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth. USA/Germany: Universal Pictures.
  • Kill Bill, 2003. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. USA: Miramax Films.
  • Kill Bill 2, 2004. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. USA: Miramax Films.
  • Pulp Fiction, 1994. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. USA: Miramax Films.
  • Reservoir Dogs, 1992. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. USA: Dog Eat Dog Productions Inc.
  • The Hateful Eight, 2015. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. USA: Double Feature Films.

Written By: Piotr Wysmyk

‘Monsters and Men’ (2018) – Cambridge Film Festival Review

By Niamh Edmonds – Thursday 1st November and the closing night of the Cambridge Film Festival I attended a UK Premiere of the amazing film “Monsters and Men.” The 96 minute feature is due to come out in UK cinemas 11th January 2019 with an…

By Niamh Edmonds

Thursday 1st November and the closing night of the Cambridge Film Festival I attended a UK Premiere of the amazing film “Monsters and Men.” The 96 minute feature is due to come out in UK cinemas 11th January 2019 with an age rating of 15+.

The film is written and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, known for “Stop” (2015) and “Stone Cars” (2014). The film features stars such as John David Washington, the up and coming Kelvin Harrison Jr, Chanté Adams and Hamilton’s (broadway) Anthony Ramos.

The film is both engaging and exciting from the beginning to the end. The film is shot and located in Brooklyn, New York State. The films plot begins when a white armed police officer shoots an unarmed black civilian, named Darius Larson. The event of the shooting was filmed by bystander Manny (Anthony Ramos) who then proceeds to upload his recording of the shooting off his phone and onto the internet. The uploading of the video sparked protests and activism in the local area against racism and police brutality.

What I liked about this film was that it had a clear message regarding police brutality against black Americans/ black communities in the United States. The film was clearly produced to spread awareness to its audience regarding this issue of policing and racism in the United States. Additionally, what I really liked was that the film had a good balance coming from both the point of view of the victims, protesters and police officers.

I would highly recommend this film because it clearly highlights police brutality and racism against black communities in the United States. The film is a really big eye-opener as to what happens everyday in the U.S; it gives a clear and shocking visual insight into how it feels to be both the oppressed and the oppressor.

‘Burning’ (2018) – Cambridge Film Festival Review

Last week we were lucky enough to attend the Cambridge Film Festival and got the privilege of watching Burning – A Korean film with subtitles. The film follows Jong-soo (Yoo Ah-In) who is a working…

By Jess Weal & Amy Williams

Last week we were lucky enough to attend the Cambridge Film Festival and got the privilege of watching Burning – A Korean film with subtitles.

The film follows Jong-soo (Yoo Ah-In) who is a working class man from the countryside in Korea. When working an odd job, he runs into Hae-mi (Jeon Jon-Seo) who used to live in his neighbourhood, when the pair were children. She asks him to look after her cat whilst she takes a trip to Africa (which Jong-Soo thinks is imaginary). She returns a couple of weeks later with a new friend Ben (Steven Yeun), who she quickly becomes close with, causing Jong-Soo to become jealous.

Let us start by telling you this… this film is long, you will lose interest and then wish you hadn’t. Burning is – pardon the pun – a slow burner! The first hour and a half is, to put it frank, quite boring, but it turns out to be vital to the plot, once you understand what is happening.

Neither of us knew anything about this film, and to be honest, we were only interested because of Steven Yeun. We hadn’t even seen the trailer, so we really did have no idea what this film was about, just that two people had recommended it to us, one even telling us “best film of the year”. Burning managed to exceed expectations we didn’t have, we don’t know how that works but it does.

Turns out, the film was a Drama/Mystery, with clues and scenes that all make sense once you finish the film. Which is why your dozing off in the first half will come back to bite you!

Many shots lingered way longer than they needed to, and an almost silent sex scene had us giving each other awkward looks and cringing at the deep intimacy being showed through close ups of Jong-soo’s sex face. (Cringing now just thinking about it)

This film is 100% polysemic, and you come away with a million different theories and ideas about the film, especially when you think back to them earlier scenes (Told you not watching will bite you in the ass). Some theories online suggest that the film can be politically analysed through the tension of the social classes, between the rich and the poor. But, since we do not have knowledge of the class system in Korea, we didn’t interpret it that way


The film gets interesting when Hae-mi goes missing after spending a night with Ben and Jong-Soo at Jong-Soo’s house, which is when Ben confesses to Jong-Soo that he likes to burn down greenhouses and admits that he is planning to burn down a greenhouse “very close” to Jong-soo. Once Jong-Soo discovers Haemi is missing, he goes on a mad hunt to find her and discovers how dodgy Ben really is. Jong-Soo decides that Ben has taken her and perhaps killed her (the evidence suggesting this is strong), he meets up with Ben and ends up brutally stabbing him, before setting fire to his car with the dead body in. And to be honest, we’re not happy about it because:

  1. We will never find out what happened to Hae-mi because the number one suspect is now dead
  2. The almost innocent Jong-soo is now a murderer.

Amy came away believing that Ben was a serial killer, using greenhouses as a metaphor for women, and him burning down the greenhouses is really him killing women. This theory is reinforced through his sociopathic tendencies of not being able to cry as well as keeping ‘trophies’ of his ‘victims’, such as their jewellery, in a draw in his bathroom.

Jess however thought he was grooming the girls (we assume there are more than one), to be coming prostitutes or escorts. He kept their jewellery and we see him doing make up on one of the girls, which he could be doing before delivering them to the men.

There is so much you can take away from this film, so much to think about and discuss that it’ll be on your mind for days after. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t look like it is available anywhere in the UK or will be available anytime soon.

Watch the trailer below:

‘Secret Ingredient’ (2018) – Cambridge Film Festival Review

A dark comedy staring cancer, cake and criminals. Secret Ingredient, a festival stand-out and one to watch if you ever get the chance…

A dark comedy staring cancer, cake and criminals. Secret Ingredient, a festival stand-out and one to watch if you ever get the chance.

Secret Ingredient made its UK premiere at the Cambridge film festival on its third day and it’s a film worthy of that prestige.

The film tells the story of Vele, an underpaid train mechanic struggling to afford his father’s cancer medication due to price inflation. As a result, Vele considers turning to ‘alternative’ medicines but instead decides to use a marijuana cake.

This spirals into a series of events involving a duo of criminals trying to track Vele down for their missing drugs, the creation of a cultish atmosphere around the prophesied ‘healing’ properties of the cake and Vele reconnecting with his Father.

Secret Ingredient can very easily draw you in with its dark diatribe and slow-going person moments, leave you laughing at very serious points and invest you into the lives of its ensemble cast. You may even want to see more interactions between the antagonists even when they’re trying to track down our main character.

You can quickly forget it’s a foreign language movie as the text on screen is never too fast or drawn out and the backdrop of Macedonia only works to enhance a universal story.

Secret Ingredient is a treat to watch and a film I’d recommend for someone wanting to watch a serious drama or comedy.

Written by Niamh Cubitt