Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Quick Reviews #20: Oscars 2018 Edition

The Oscars have been and gone; this year with less drama and more predictability (for better or worse). I've been pretty good at catching the nominees this year - seeing all but one from the best picture list. I haven't reviewed them all though, so here's my Quick Reviews post for you guys to see what I thought of the other nominees - other than Get Out and Dunkirk that I haven't reviewed before. So read on and enjoy. 

The Shape of Water

A new film with an old school feel, from the plot to the pacing. It’s typical Guillermo del Toro, one of the best auteurs working today, his style is all over it and the story is the right mix of strange and beautiful to have come from his mind. It didn’t strike me as much as some of his previous films, however it is still an amazing watch. Its story of outsiders strikes a chord right now still making it worthy of its Oscar win, even if - yes - I do think there were better films in the line-up this year.

Lady Bird

I went through all the emotions watching this film. Greta Gerwig has made a gut-punch of a film; a coming of age story that’s all about walking the dangerous line of being an individual and wanting to fit in. I dare any millennial not to relate to this film: the feelings and the emotions just rang so scarily true. This is the kind of film I’ve always wanted to write, I’ve even tried to, but I don’t think I would ever be able to perfect it the way Gerwig has.

Call Me by Your Name

A fairy-tale romantic film set in the Italian countryside that’s bursting with sex and sensuality. As coming of age films go this one can be a hard watch at times. As you know the flourishing romance has a time limit on it; this is all going to end in tears. Knowing this I tried not to get too attached to the main characters but it was impossible to do so. Their chemistry, despite the age gap, is electric and I was a mess when it all came to an end. The whole thing has a love song music video vibe to it. I loved it.

Phantom Thread

It's gorgeous to look at, as it entices you in, captures you and takes you on a dark and twisted ride through a relationship like no other seen on film before. A superbly crafted film with excellent performances all round and a surprising and darkly funny script. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this one. It’s a shame it never got as much hype as some of the other films on this list; it deserved to. It's a good one to end on for Daniel Day-Lewis, too bad he didn’t get the Oscar for it.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ve been struggling with what to write about this one. I really liked it but at the same time I acknowledge the problems it has. They should never have tried to redeem Dixon, he was a great villain and should have stayed that way. We’ve had nonredeemable characters redeemed in the past but the way this film tried to force this one left a bad taste in my mouth. It is just a bad choice in what is an overall good film. A film that could be dark and funny before switching to sweet and sombre within a moment.

The Post

My politics ruined some of my enjoyment of Three Billboards but in this film it elevated the experience. The film might as well be called 2017, the parallels are scary and the Spielberg sentimentality really works and is very much needed right now. It’s very well rounded, has great cinematography, great performances and a great score. Spielberg isn’t losing his touch any time soon.

What did you think of these films? Did the Oscars get it right this year? Let me know in the comments below

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Black Panther

It's been a while... I've recently moved house and been without internet for some time (thanks BT for your terrible service!). Anyway, there's been a pretty big release from Marvel...

Black Panther is the breath of fresh air I needed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although I still very much enjoy most of the films that are produced by the studio, I have started to waver a little with some of the basic premise recycling. Now don’t get me wrong this film has some Marvel ‘similarities’ but ultimately is its own new fresh thing. Read on to find out my SPOILER FREE thoughts.

For the most part Marvel has suffered a little when it comes to diversity, people of colour usually take a backseat to main characters and there isn’t a really any excuse for it to have taken this long for a black superhero to have their own standalone film within the universe. Marvel aren’t the only problem though, Hollywood in general has been slow to this game for a while and although we have had black superheroes, we’ve never really had anything like Black Panther before; a film with a predominantly black cast representing Africa in a way that’s never been seen in a big mainstream blockbuster and that means something. I’m a white dude, I’ve seen a lot of them on the big screen, I’ve been represented, it’s time to get our films as diverse as the world around us. The cast in speaking is one of the best Marvel has assembled, the main players being: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Angela Basset, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. The story follows T’Challa, the newly appointed King of Wakanda, after the events of Civil War he struggles with his new mantle as the country decides if/how it will change under new leadership.
The first thing that Black Panther does excellently is give you a real sense of Wakanda, the secretive and extremely modern city of Africa, powered by a massive source of vibranium. Throughout the whole film you get to see a lot of the country and the people that live there. |The film is never afraid to embrace the weirder side of the mythology and it made me realise that Thor really missed an opportunity to establish Asgard in the same way.  Wakanda feels lived in, it feels like it has a history and it’s definitely a place I would like to see more of in the future. If it wasn’t connected to the MCU, Wakanda could have a whole franchise to itself, that’s the kind of scope director Ryan Coogler has been able to create around the character’s first solo outing.

One of the reasons this feels like a fresh film in the MCU is the fact that superhero business is secondary to the main story; a story of monarchy, politics and change. The action set pieces are cool but they don’t stand up to the spectacle we’ve had so far in the franchise, not that this is bad thing - it feels right within the context. The jokes are not as full on and if I was to criticise the film for anything it would be that the small amount of humour mainly lands flat. But this is a more serious affair; bringing in themes that are very relevant in the world right now. This may not be the first time Marvel has woven mature themes into its narrative but it does feel like the first time that they have felt this important.

On top of great characters and an interesting and satisfying story, the film is also one of the best looking and most colourful of Marvel’s so far. There’s the odd bit of dodgy CGI every now and then but it doesn’t take away from breath-taking scenery as you swoop into Wakanda for the first time. Accompanied by a unique music that excellently blends a traditional score with African instruments and hip-hop.

As you can probably tell from the amount of praise of already heaped on the film - I very much enjoyed it. It’s personally one of my favourite MCU films and has calmed some of my fears that the studio isn’t afraid to take so-called “risks”, mix it up and embrace the fun mythology of the comic book source material. The only way stop superhero fatigue is to tell great stories that just so happen to have a superhero in the them and Black Panther is an excellent example of this. Onward and upwards. I’m giving Black Panther a rating of 5/5.

What did you think of Black Panther? Where does it rank in the MCU? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!