‘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!

‘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.

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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.

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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)

‘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.

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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.

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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.

‘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

BE WARNED… FROM HERE ON OUT THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! STOP READING NOW.

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.
  3. IT WAS TOO SOON TO SEE HIM DIE AGAIN ON MY SCREEN? REALLY YOU WANT ME TO WATCH HIM GET BRUTALLY MURDERED AGAIN! RIP GLENN, ALWAYS IN OUR HEART.

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

‘Beautiful Boy’ (2018) – Cambridge Film Festival Review

Tears, heartbreak, love – three occurring themes throughout Beautiful Boy that make this film so empowering and tear-jerking that it is one of the best films I have seen this year. Produced by Brad Pitt under his production company…

Tears, heartbreak, love – three occurring themes throughout Beautiful Boy that make this film so empowering and tear-jerking that it is one of the best films I have seen this year.

Produced by Brad Pitt under his production company, Plan B Entertainment, Steve Carrell (David) and Timothée Chalamet (Nic) star as the main characters. The film is based on the novel Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction. Carrell and Chalamet both play excellent parts as we see a father (Carrell) struggle with his relationship with his son (Chalamet) as he deals with a crippling drug addiction, starting from when he turned eighteen years old.

The film lasts two hours, seeing Nic tackling his drug addiction through a non-linear narrative, exposing us to how his addiction to drugs started and the struggle David goes through to get his son back. David is a freelance journalist, writing for magazines such as
Rolling Stone as we see in the film. He pitches an article idea to his boss which is personal to him, sharing the story of Nic and how he lost his son mentally through his use of drugs.

We go back and forth in time, seeing elements of both Nic and David’s lives that piece together the impact of Nic’s life and how he turned to the use of drugs such as crystal meth, weed and LSD. The non-linear narrative works amazingly as viewers are able to view the struggles that drug addicts go through: recovery, relapse and rehab. Through flashbacks from the past, we can see the struggles Nic repeatedly goes through in his attempt to stay clean.

I love the use of music in the film too. Music adds such an emotional impact to certain scenes throughout that really make viewers feel what the characters are going through.

I cannot recommend this film enough, it really opens your eyes to what struggles, pain and emotions drug users and their relatives go through on a day-to-day basis. All I can say is get your tissues at the ready! (Be prepared for seeing the use of needles a lot too.)

Written by Eliza Rawson

‘Life Itself’ (2018) – Cambridge Film Festival Review

In this drama multiple lives intertwine and spin around each other.  We see the story of two college sweethearts, the story of a couple struggling to support their child in Spain, the story of their children and how all their lives are connected…

In this drama multiple lives intertwine and spin around each other.  We see the story of two college sweethearts, the story of a couple struggling to support their child in Spain, the story of their children and how all their lives are connected by a single event. The multi generation levelled saga is beautifully told and supported by the music of Federico Jusid, and Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel my Love. This is Dan Fogelman’s second directorial and first big thing to come out after This Is Us. With a cast consisting of some of Hollywood’s finest e.g. Antonio Banderas and Olivia Wilde, this film has all the ingredients to be a crowd pleaser. The film finds a fine balance between happiness and sadness, and keeps surprising by taking away the characters you hold dear with a twist on their life story. The timeline is a little confusing at first but becomes clear when the film unfolds.

Halfway through the films 4 chapters and epilogue, it becomes clear that the narrative voice is the daughter to the children of the two couples we see struggling. This however does not interfere with the interest to learn more about the characters. Especially as the story of Will (Oscar Isaac) and Abby (Olivia Wilde) had more than half of the cinema in tears. The raw humour and joking ebbs away as Will Shoots himself and the story start to focus more on the Gonzalez family. As the story’s background changes to the idyllic olive farms in the countryside of Spain, it will once again start with a love story everyone romanticises, but this soon will start to crumble after a family holiday to New York. Javier and Isabel try to find a cure for their traumatised son, Rodrigo, and soon need to ask the help of rich landowner Vincent Saccione. Javier is a proud man and decides to leave his family so that Saccione can take care of his wife and son. They all meet one last time at the end of the film as Isabel falls ill.

The film had various bad reviews from acclaimed film critics but the public seem to have a different opinion on Twitter and outside the cinema. This film gives hope and happiness and then takes it away to build it up again but never disappoints.  

The Cambridge Film Festival runs from the 25th of October to the 1st of November in various places in Cambridge. For more information on the festival go to https://www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk

Photo taken from https://www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk

Cambridge 38th Film Festival – Life Itself

Director – Dan Fogelman

With – Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Isaac, Olivia Cook

Written by Merel Van Schooten

‘A Star is Born’ (2018) – Film Review

What an amazing performance by her, I have actually been left shook to my core and she deserves every award out there. A Star is Born is a remake of the 1976 version of the same…

 Let me just start this review by saying this: Give. Gaga. An. Oscar.

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What an amazing performance by her, I have actually been left shook to my core and she deserves every award out there.

A Star is Born is a remake of the 1976 version of the same name. The film is based on Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), an alcoholic rock star, who falls in love with Ally (Lady Gaga), after stumbling upon her performing in a drag bar. He convinces her to perform with him on stage and her career takes off, as well as their whirlwind romance.

I had never seen the original version, so I really had no previous knowledge of what the film was about, but I have been looking forward to seeing it since it got announced and I had extremely high expectations for it. And it did not disappoint!

You get a behind the scenes look of what I can only guess the music industry is really like. Pushing artists to breaking points and making them change themselves as the label think they will sell more records. You see Ally changing from her authentic self, to this dancing pop star with bright orange hair – because the label said so. Spoiler alert: she finds her way back to herself.

To get a negative out of the way first, and there is only one negative. To me, the ending of the film was given away within the first 5 minutes. I noticed it, but my mum didn’t. So, to many, you may not even realise. But because to me, it was so obvious, I found myself not fully allowing myself to emerge myself in the film.

Other than this one thing I was amazed.

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We are immediately positioned with Jack, and from the get-go, we want him to get better, to sober up and focus on himself. When he meets Ally, we think this is going to happen, but when she starts becoming successful herself he only gets worse.

Bradley Cooper has never really shocked me with his acting, to me he has always been a generic actor, nothing amazing. But this film has completely changed that for me and I have a new-found respect for him as an actor. Yet, Lady Gaga completely stole the film for me. It was her film and everyone else was just a secondary character. She really does outshine everyone else and stole every single scene she was in! Their on-screen connection is just amazing, and they are so believable as a couple, even if their relationship is kind of toxic. You are willing them to make it work, for them to both be happy and successful.

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This film really does take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, I was crying and then laughing, my heart broke and healed itself within the space of 2 hours (and then broke again). The songs are amazing and only add to my tears. I cannot wait for the full soundtrack to get released (on October 5th) because I have been listening to Shallow on repeat since they released it as a single and I need more! Also, who knew Bradley Cooper could sing? Because this is completely new to me.

I recommend this film to everyone, and I will 100% be seeing it again. Not only for Gaga but for the whole film itself. I have no doubt in my mind that when award season comes around, this film is going to win every single one.

Love, Jess

A Star is Born is out now! Watch the trailer below

Written by Jessica-Lucy Weal

Jess’ film blog can be found at: www.jessreviewsfilms.wordpress.com

‘Molly’s Game’ (2017) – Film Review

By Bethany Mattocks – I went and saw Molly’s Game as part of E4’s Slackers Club and if you’re a student and haven’t signed up you really should! If you’re a student, you can…

By Bethany Mattocks

I went and saw Molly’s Game as part of E4’s Slackers Club and if you’re a student and haven’t signed up you really should! If you’re a student, you can sign up to Channel 4’s film club, where you can see one film for free every month (usually an early release), and as an added bonus, the Cambridge Slacker’s Club is held at the Arts Picturehouse.

Molly Bloom is a nearly Olympic skier, until she has a spine problem and in qualifiers trips and falls. She then becomes a problem child, and starts working for a poker game runner and eventually starts running her own games. Two years later after she has stopped the games she gets arrested for running them so the story follows the fight from her to stay out of prison showing flashbacks of how the games developed as she got bigger in the poker world.

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There are so many big names in this film from Idris Elba and Michael Cera to Chris O’ Dowd. Yet they’re not used as some sort of ploy to get you to watch the movie, it just seems like a coincidence. This is usually a sign of a great film when the cast is all equal in talent and the storyline independently holds itself up.

You would think that watching a film about a top gambler being caught means you wouldn’t be hit hard by the story; yet you can really connect with Molly as the plot develops. You see how she got into the situation she is in now, how her life goes so quickly from helping at a little game to owning one of the biggest, and her drug dependence due to insomnia. She tries so hard to keep the game legal and help all her customers who eventually betray her. Still when she is able to avoid jail she says loyal to her players not to want to hurt their families, she refuses to give over confidential information to reduce her sentence and refuses a bigger book deal as it would involve exposing people despite the fact she has nothing left. One could even argue this makes her half decent. What also makes this film great is that it actually happened, and is always fascinating to see the retelling of a true story on the big screen. 

I personally thought this film was exceedingly good, and would thoroughly recommend it. 

Image Credits: STXfilms

‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993) – Film Review

By Bethany Mattocks – November is a prime time to watch this movie because of the is it a Halloween film or Christmas film debate. Therefore, if you watch it in-between the two…

By Bethany Mattocks

November is a prime time to watch this movie because of the is it a Halloween film or Christmas film debate. Therefore, if you watch it in-between the two then you can’t go wrong!

Tim Burton brings yet another creepy, yet cool, film through the story follows Jack Skellington, [Danny Elfman] the King of Halloween Town who is tired of Halloween being the same every year, unlike his town who still loves the celebrations. Sally the ragdoll girl [Catherine O’Hara] is the only one who notices and their relationship develops from there through bonding over people misunderstanding them, she just wants to escape her house and Dr Finkelstein and he wants to escape his duties. He finds Christmas Town and forms a plan to bring Christmas to Halloween Town but the people don’t really understand and kidnap “Sandy Claws” and it all goes downhill from there!

I love how this is a Christmas and Halloween movie as it’s the worst when you feel you can’t watch a film more than one time of year and feel like there’s some sort of bad luck involved if you watch it at the wrong time. With this film, I feel it can be watched any time of year with the combination of seasons involved. It even involves Easter when they kidnap the Easter bunny by accident! Truly a whole year-round film!

One of the best features of this film is the use of music, ‘What’s This’ and ‘This Halloween’ is among the best, absolute classics for Halloween lovers and have had countless covers, for example, Fall Out Boy did an amazing cover of ‘What’s This’ in 2006 as did Panic! At The Disco of ‘This is Halloween’. ‘Jack’s Lament’ is another one of my favourite songs mostly because of the scene on the hill in front of the moon, it looks so pretty! Plus, the line where he takes off his head to pretend to be Shakespearean holding his head in his hand is hilarious!

The characters in this film are so cool! Not only because of the amazing Claymation but the sassiness of the Oogie Boogie man [Ken Page] and the mayor with the turning head depending on his emotions are great, there’s such a range of monsters in Halloween town it puts the classic going as a cat for Halloween to shame!

The film is a Claymation and so would’ve taken a very, very long time to film; it baffles me all the work that must have gone into it but it was very worth it becoming a classic to date! It took a group of around 100 people three years to make the movie and for one second of film up to 12 stop-motion moves had to be made!

So, see this film if you haven’t already but if you have, watch it again it’s prime time!

NBC FI

‘The Battle of the Sexes’ (2017) – Film Review

By Ben Jones – The modern political climate is an interesting one, to say the least. On the one hand, our current society is the most advanced and progressive it’s ever been…

By Ben Jones

The modern political climate is an interesting one, to say the least. On the one hand, our current society is the most advanced and progressive it’s ever been. Yet when we turn on the news, it can often feel that we’re moving backwards. A film like BATTLE OF THE SEXES reminds us how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go, whilst also being just a jolly good time at the cinema.

In the early 1970s, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) was the US number-one female tennis player, but the prize money she was expected to win was only an eighth of the male players’ prize. As an act of defiance, King and her fellow female players quit the Association of Tennis Professionals. But King faces distraction from her flirtatious hairdresser (Andrea Riseborough).

Meanwhile, ex-champion player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) is struggling with a gambling addiction that threatens to break apart his marriage. Instead of trying to give it up, Riggs comes up with a bet that will get him back in the public eye; a match between him and King, to prove which gender is the best at tennis.

The way the film takes the personal lives of these two characters, and runs their stories parallel alongside the central plot, is not groundbreaking, but brilliant nonetheless. Even if you know how the final match turns out, you don’t know which result would be best for their respective private struggles. That adds a whole new layer of drama to the already-infamous story, making the whole thing more cinematic.

The script is excellently funny, particularly for Carell (whose character can’t even resist playing cards in a therapy session regarding his gambling). There are also some really sweet, tender moments, particularly for Stone and Riseborough, whose relationship feels genuine and very sensual. The direction is often beautiful, including a wonderful shot of King’s husband in a hotel corridor. He’s just received some bad news; in silhouette, backlit by the hallway lights, you can see his belly moving up and down, his breathing quickening from shock. It’s a simple touch, probably done in countless films before, but it’s very effectively done.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is the cast. On top of Stone, Carell and Riseborough, the film co-stars Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming and Natalie Morales, and features cameos from Fred Armisen, Chris Parnell and John C. McGinley. Normally, a stuffed cast like that suggests the filmmakers were more focussed on star-power than storytelling. On the contrary, everyone on screen is giving one of their strongest performances to date. The only one who could be accused of phoning it in is Cumming, whose gay costume designer is camp and clichéd to the extreme. But it’s Alan Cumming. All of his lines, even shots of him when he’s not saying anything, are the biggest laughs of the film.

This genre – if you could call it a genre – of feel-good comedy-dramas, based on true stories of social justice, is tremendously successful. Films like THE FULL MONTY (1997) or PRIDE (2014) have been pleasing crowds (and bringing them to tears) for decades. On the downside, there isn’t a specifically unique selling point to set BATTLE OF THE SEXES aside from those films. It follows the formula to a T. On the upside, it might be one of the finest executions of the formula so far.

Also, if you are a little tight on money – why not consider becoming an Arts Picturehouse Member? It’s discounted for students and has so many great perks! Plus the cinema also hosts the C4 Slackers Club which also includes free tickets occasionally to new films which haven’t been released yet. Find out more here.

Image Credit:  Cloud Eight FilmsDecibel FilmsFox Searchlight Pictures