21st century girl

reviews – my way.

Month: September, 2015

The History Boys

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‘Sir, I don’t understand poetry’

The History Boys is a film based on a play by Alan Bennett about a group of intellectual boys who have all been accepted into Oxford or Cambridge and their teachers Mrs Lintott (Frances de la Tour), Hector (Richard Griffinths) and the young history teacher Irwin (Stephen Campell Moore) contrasting teaching methods.

There have been many films that have followed the same plot or basis of The History Boys but the movie strikes as being original. I haven’t read the play but the film has many familiar faces, such as Dominic Cooper, Richard Griffinths (the actor who played Uncle Vernon in Harry Potter but sadly passed away a couple of years ago), James Corden (an actor/presenter that I don’t really like but he was passable in this), Frances de la Tour and Andrew Knott, a fairly good actor who was in The Secret Garden 1993 when he was younger. This movie is proof that A levels are very old fashioned and useful qualifications, especially if you are reaching for the top, and in this case- so that the boys could enter prestigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.

I personally liked this film, although the actors who played the boys were about 25-30 year olds playing eighteen year olds, but I think that that is the magic of convincing acting that is also applied into other films and TV shows and I’m not really too bothered as long as they played it well, which they clearly have. My favorite scene was when one of the students reenacted a soliloquy from the classic movie Brief Encounter, my mum’s favorite film. Although I am not going to a top university any time soon, there have been some teachers in the past who have taught me who don’t muck about and some add some fun to student learning.

It also has many themes and topics that make it slightly more exciting than an average play adapted into a film and it has many life lessons, such as be careful on a two person motorbike.It also makes you realize that you status and reputation is merely defined by what prestigious university that you are getting into.

Good cast, did not fail to make me laugh and cry and a generally ok film.

3.5/5

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DVD collection part II

Lord of The Rings Trilogy- 

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This successful trilogy is probably one of my favorite film trilogies ever. I like stepping into the hobbit and Elf world Middle Earth for 8 hours+. My favorite films out of the trilogy are the first and the last LOTR film while the second one sticks the two together. I can also quote LOTR fairly fluently but among my friends and people that I know, there is a very divided opinion into who likes it and who doesn’t.

The Matrix-

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The Matrix has played a part in terms of the inspiration and influence for my dystopian story. It is about a computer hacker called Neo (Keanu Reeves) who lives in a parallel universe where humans are machines and highly trained agents led by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) are after him. It stars Laurence Fishbourne as Morpheus and Carrie-Anne Moss as Neo’s girlfriend Trinity. I personally found that this movie was good because Trinity wasn’t a sexual object and she kicked butts as a strong female charecter.

Miranda Series 1-3-

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Miranda is a TV series about a tall woman called Miranda (Miranda Hart) who desperately tries to fit in with adulthood, long term crushes etc. The final episode aired earlier this year and it never fails to make my mum and I laugh.

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest- 

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Jack Nicholson plays Randall Murphy, a guy who checks into a mental hospital to question his sanity. I originally watched this film to vary my film tastes and the film itself is quite good although not all of those sorts of films appeal to me, although I like some of the older films because newer films only want to pack some pop culture references into their movies. It also stars Christopher Lloyd from Back to The Future and Back to The Future and one of the charecters, the terrifying Nurse Ratched is apparently the most famous female villain in cinema (I heard it from somewhere, I can’t remember where).

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- 

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The Perks of being a Wallflower is about a socially awkward high school first year/freshman called Charlie (Logan Lerman) who makes friends with a girl called Sam (Emma Watson) and a guy called Patrick (Ezra Miller). I read the original book before watching the film and I watched the film a while ago so I don’t remember too much of it. Ok, it is overridden with high school cliches but I did find that it was an ok film that made me laugh at times.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of The Desert- 

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This movie is directed by Stephen Elliott and it is classed as an LGBT film. It is about three drag queens named Mitzi (Hugo Weaving), Felicia (Guy Pearce) and transgender Bernadette (Terence Stamp) who go across the Australian outback. I have made many people watch it and I saw a very interesting documentary about it several months ago. I have also told some people how jealous I am because the three male leads look better in dresses and bright costumes than I do and it has a brilliant soundtrack to back up an equally brilliant movie.

The Railway Man-

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Railway Man is a true story based on Lomax’s memoir about a man called Eric Lomax in World War II who worked for Burma Railway and got tortured. I personally preferred the memoir but the film does not water anything down, romanticize it or sugar coat it with unrealistic scenarios in World War II. The movie adaptation stars Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine and Nicole Kidman.

Remember Me- 

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I don’t think a single viewing of this film goes by without me feeling really sad as a result of watching it. Robert Pattinson stars as a troubled young man called Tyler who falls in love with Ally (Emilie De Ravin), a girl who is trying to connect with her father after her mother died when she was younger. Robert Pattinson did this one at the height of his Twilight fame and he did fairly well.

The Rover-

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 David Michod directs The Rover, a movie that consists of Guy Pearce asking others to find the men who stole his car, usually at gunpoint, and he comes across Rey (Robert Pattinson), the dim brother of one of the thieves. I think Guy Pearce is a really good actor but Robert Pattinson is so brilliant in this one, despite his questionable southern accent. While Maps to the Stars and Cosmopolis are not very good films, The Rover is good because I like most of the movies set in the Australian outback because they are usually small films.

Saving Mr Banks- 

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Emma Thomson gives a compelling performance of the uptight and bitter Mary Poppins author P.L Travers, who sells her rights so that her book can be made into the film Mary Poppins. The film divides between P.L Travers as a heartless individual to scenes from when she was younger then you wonder why she ended up like that. It is a sweet little film and Tom Hanks brings his performance as Walt Disney to the absolute best that there can ever be. Also stars some other well known faces such as Jason Swartsman, B.J Novak and Paul Giamatti.

The Sixth Sense- 

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My older sister hates this film but I don’t mind it too much, as long as I watch it in the middle of the day. Haley Joel Osment stars as Cole, a little boy who can see dead people and seeks the help of a child psychologist called Malcolm (Bruce Willis). I suppose this movie does know how to scare you and make you jump from the perfectly timed jump cuts. Haley Joel Osment was considerably good in this role and he had more ways of acting than ‘look shocked’ or ‘look scared’. I also like some of Bruce Willis’ stuff like Sin City etc and he was brilliant as Malcolm.

Still Alice- 

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Julianne Moore stars in this film about a woman called Alice who is diagnosed with Alziemers at the age of fifty. I read the original novel before watching the movie and I cannot decide which one is better but Julianne Moore suited the role considering that I read the book knowing that she was going to play Alice.

V For Vendetta- 

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V For Vendetta is within my top 10 favourite movies. It is basically about a masked man who goes by the name V (Hugo Weaving) whos plan is to ignite a revolution with the help of a young working class girl called Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) to get revenge on those who disfigured and tortured him. I’ve watched it so many times that I can quote it fluently and I can’t even remember why I like it so much, but I like the symbolism and the action scenes and the diologue and I don’t think anyone can ever play V quite like Hugo Weaving does. This is also the film that I was originally scared by due to the masks but I also got really into Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving’s work.

Warm Bodies- 

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Warm Bodies is basically Twilight but with zombies instead of vampires. It stars John Malkovich and Nicholas Hoult. While I do not think of it as more than a sweet little film for teenagers, it is an ok movie and Nicholas Hoult has certainly become more fit since he was in About a Boy (commonly known as growing up) so that’s probably one of the main reasons why people watch it.

Water For Elephants- 

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I think this is the movie that got me into Robert Pattinson’s work and where I found out about Christoph Waltz. I also remember when it was out about four years ago and I collected stills from the film as posters. Robert Pattinson plays a vet student who runs away to the circus in the Great Depression and falls in love with the ringleaders wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon). Admittedly, I do not watch it as much as I used to, but when I do, it brings me back to when I used to watch it all the time. I also read the book before I watch the film but luckily the film waters to book down to find an appropriate audience. Robert Pattinson was brilliant as Jacob and I prefer watching his outside of twilight roles because he brings more promise to his work, and I like how Christoph Waltz has that evil glint that he never has in photo shoots or interviews and only has it in most of his films.

The Zero Theorem- 

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Christoph Waltz stars in one of his only films after 2009 where the only thing that he wants to kill is his computer. The Zero Theorem is about a hairless man called Qohen Leth who seeks to prove a theorem and waits for a phone call to tell him the meaning of life while isolating himself in a chapel. It is an interesting film with a good color scheme and Christoph Waltz actually co-produced it but unless you like his acting or Terry Gilliam, you might not like it.

The Other Woman

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This film is the reason why I find some chick flick type films (except Mean Girls, 13 going on 30 etc) rather ludicrous. The Other Woman is basically about three women called Carly (Cameron Diaz), Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton) who are all involved romantically with the same man.

I think this sort of film has been done before and it is a bit predictable, no three dimensional characters and the guy wasn’t even that good looking. I watched it several weeks ago with my mum, my eleven year old brother and a boisterous dog that we were looking after at the time. It doesn’t really help that aside from Bad Teacher and Shrek, I cannot stand Cameron Diaz, both the actress and her acting. Nicki Minaj played the sectary and it was more like ‘What wig is she wearing now?’. I personally don’t like Nicki Minaj or her music and supposed ‘acting’ either.

I am generally positive about most of the movies that I review but this movie is better suited in some sort of Cameron Diaz box set. I am really sorry for being horrible about this movie although I didn’t care for any of the characters or their tired stereotypes but I suppose that it made me laugh sometimes.

Directed by Nick Cassavettes.

1.5 /5

Sin City

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‘Hell of a way to end a partnership’

Robert Rodriguez and the original graphic novel writer Frank Miller direct Sin City- a episodic movie split into six parts and follows the corruption of several different people in New York city. It has a good cast, including Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood, the late Micheal Clarke Duncan from The Green Mile and others.

I like how it is adapted well from the comic book, so much so the visual effects deserve some sort of award (if they hadn’t got several after the release). I think the black and white comic technique thing was known as neo-noir and it seemed to be very effective. The tinted (usually red) paint for blood was interesting and it looked like they were let loose with the red, white and yellow paint. If I was an up and coming filmmaker, I would probably want to take inspiration from the visual effects from this film and use them in my own student film. In some of the scenes, the women wear red among the black and white color and red is usually the key color for lust, blood, romance, love, sex and danger. Ok, the women were only used as sexual objects but they were also strong characters once they were armed with a gun so they were kicking butts while the men blew each other’s brains out. Quentin Tarantino was a guest director and I could see where he got involved because it bore some similarities to the bloody battles in all of his movies.

I watched some of this movie a while ago with my sister and I wasn’t very interested in it. Clever visuals and soundtrack and actors, but aside from that, my views of the movie haven’t really changed. All I saw were sleazy men, blood and some actresses who stood around with guns and suspenders pretending to be prostitutes but I suppose that the visuals were striking and the characters were no-nonsense. I suppose this would be one that you could hack at and analyse to death. One of the only reasons why I decided to watch it again is because I thought my opinion of it would change and because I didn’t realize that Clive Owen was in it (I like some of his films, and sometimes his face) and he was very good as Dwight with his hair and leather jacket and convincing screen presence. Elijah Wood was also exceptionally creepy considering that his role was a far cry from the hobbit Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Micheal Clarke Duncan was brilliant in his role as much as he was in The Green Mile.

This would probably just about make it into my top ten and I liked the cinematography, visual effects, colour scheme, cast and action sequences. The action sequences also reminded me of some of my brother’s video games that he likes playing i.e Grand Theft Auto V while the striking visuals are open for analysis for those who want to look into it that deeply. There is a sequel called Sin City: A Dame to Kill For but I haven’t seen it yet.

3/5

The Secret Garden (1993)

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‘Can I have a bit of earth?’

The Secret Garden is an adaptation based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett book of the same name. It is about a little girl called Mary (Kate Maberly) who gets sent to her uncle’s manor in North of England from India after her parents died. While at her uncle’s manor, she makes friends with an ill boy called Colin (Heydon Prowse) and her maid’s younger brother called Dickon (Andrew Knott) and discovers a secret garden that hadn’t been unlocked in years.

I read the original novel many years ago and I remember reading it several times and liking it because you felt as if you went to the manor and garden with Mary and her friends. Certainly, watching it recently brought me back to the daily multiple viewings of it. For some reason, it left me really wanting to live in a manor/mansion. It is also the sort of film that anyone could watch, whether you are a child or an adult.

I wouldn’t exactly call this a guilty pleasure to watch because it is one of the only films that has stayed with me since I was younger and it hasn’t really changed very much. I like how Mary changes and she learns to behave and respect other people although she is presented as being rather spoiled and bratty. It was set shortly before the war so perhaps they are all caught up in a world of dreams before the war struck.

The cast is good. Maggie Smith, who plays Mrs Medlock, is an incredible actress who has been in nearly everything and the actors who played the children were also brilliant. Andrew Knott later went on to play one of the students in the movie ‘The History Boys’. If only I had some unlocked doors leading to a secret garden in my garden and although Colin is meant to be ill, he’s a bit of a drama queen.

Somewhat magical, good cast and a successful adaptation of an interesting book.

4.5/5

DVD collection part 1

I collect DVDs. Alot of them, so much so that my DVDs and my books are the only thing in precise order. If you have read my previous posts, then I have written about nearly all of the movies before, and if you haven’t, I personally find it better to write them rather than explain it in a Youtube video. It’s always like a mini HMV on my DVD bookshelf.

Big Eyes-

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Big Eyes is directed by Tim Burton and stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. It is about paintings of children with huge eyes and a dispute over who painted them, whether it was Margaret or Walter Keane. It is very much a docudrama and Christoph Waltz tended to overreact and recycle his Hans Landa role but I liked how he descended into pure madness throughout the course of the film, although I did find him a bit creepy to start with anyway and his charm was secretly manipulating. As for Amy Adams, she was an example of some sort of independent woman. I liked it because Tim Burton stepped out of his comfort zone and the color scheme was interesting because it looked like an actual painting.

Carnage- 

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Another Christoph Waltz movie but this time, Roman Polanski directs it. Carnage is based on the play ‘God of Carnage’, and it is about two sets of parents who meet about a fight between their respective sons. I haven’t seen it in a while and I remember it being really slow throughout its short duration.

Catch Me If You Can-

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I think that the last time I watched this was on holiday last year. However, that is not the point. Steven Spielberg (a personal favorite)  directs this biographical drama about Frank Abagnale Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio) who pretends to have all these careers and forged money etc, all before he turned eighteen. Considering that it has a good cast to include DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, it is a good movie already, and sometimes it made me laugh.

Children of Men-

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This is definitely one of my favorites, and everything in it is all too relevant. It is directed by Alfonzo Cuaron. To put it simply, Theo (Clive Owen) helps the first pregnant woman Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) in eighteen years in a post apocalyptic world of 2027. I have avoided mostly all the reviews and some of the interviews so that I could stay interested in the film for as long as possible, and apparently my cousin was part of the behind the scenes location process. I liked it because it is intelligent and realistic because it can happen any day and there is no hiding from it. It is one of the more intelligent dystopians and avoids the cliches of kicking butts and focuses more on how to survive when there is no hope for the future. Some people interpret Theo as a Jesus figure who dies to save humanity but I am simply amazed by the many interpretations that you can have with this film. plus, I personally think that Clive Owen is a really good actor and there isn’t any reason for it, except for his compelling screen prescence.

Dead Poet’s Society-

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This movie coins the phrase ‘carpe diem’ which is used as a phrase in a majority of poems. It is about an English teacher played by Robin Williams who inspires a class full of gifted young boys in a strict all male boarding school. My sister got me the DVD as a present shortly after Robin Williams passed away, so it was a good little tribute to him when it contained some inspirational messages, telling us to ‘seize the day, make your life extraordinary’. It also has the young Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard, who were considerably good, and this film is probably the reason for my interest in studying and writing poetry.

Ender’s Game- 

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Asa Butterfield stars in the adaptation of the Orson Scott Card book of the same name. I read the book and saw the film, and I remember that the film squeezes in and cuts huge chunks out of the book but still manages to scrape enough footage together to give justice to the book. Asa Butterfield was very good in the film and it also stars Harrison Ford and Abigail Breslin.

The Great Gatsby-

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Baz Luhmann always has some way of interpreting something into a colorful and over the top display of a movie with hidden dark tones. One of my friends got this for me along with the theatrical poster several years ago. Leonardo DiCaprio was a good choice for the rich man and I love the soundtrack, the cinematography, the costumes, the actors etc. My favourite scene is the party scene because all the energy seemed to be released into that one scene and makes you feel like you’re at a rich man’s party.

Good Will Hunting-

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I’ll admit that I haven’t watched this one all the way through. It’s not that I hate the movie or anything but I can never really finish it. Good Will Hunting is about a gifted mathematician who needs to find direction in his life. Robin Williams was very good in his role, as was the young Matt Damon, but I felt that I didn’t care for the characters.

Horrible Bosses 1+2- 

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I don’t think either of the two movies did very well at the box office, but I’m not interested in box office records when it comes to this film because both of the movies make me laugh. The actors, the comic timing, the comedy (rather crude and slightly unoriginal stuff is usually best if it is in the right context). Christoph Waltz was in the second one and he did a good job considering that he was only there because he’s Christoph Waltz.

Hunger Games-

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I read the Suzanne Collins novel a long while ago and I haven’t seen the film in ages but I am a huge fan of the dystopian genre, having to fight to the death and stuff. Jennifer Lawrence is an incredible and stunning actress who has the capability of being a strong character. I haven’t seen any of the sequels either but these sorts of films are very popular because they don’t pretend to be something that they are not.

If I Stay-

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 If I Stay is about a young cellist called Mia (Chloe Grace-Moretz) and her decision to stay for the sake of her future after a car crash in a life and death situation. I had read the book before watching the film and I was surprised how it could be delivered onto the screen, although at times, it took inspiration from other movies like Ghost etc.

The Illusionist-

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 I think I wrote about this movie in one of my first blog posts over two years ago. I haven’t seen it that many times since but it is about a magician in the late Victorian times played by Edward Norton and it stars the ever-stunning Jessica Biel. At one point, it was one of my favourite films but it isn’t anymore.

Inception-

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I personally found that this was a really meaty film and I had to watch it in two parts because it was so long (although I could probably watch LOTR in one sitting). Inception is mostly about dreams and subconsciousness and it was interesting to look into all the symbolism (the spinning top) and it is one of those movies that gets you thinking in depth. Not only that, it also has very good cinematography.

Leon: The Professional- 

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I only really watched this because I wanted to see Natalie Portman in a role before stuff like Star Wars. Leon is about a hitman and a orphan, who seeks revenge on those who killed her family. Some aspects seem a bit weird considering that they involve a twelve year old and a forty year old, and I think it would have never dared to have been attempted in the 21st Century. Natalie Portman tackled such a huge topic while she was still really young and she is still healthier than nearly all the former child actors.

Closer (2004)

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‘Why won’t you let me love you?’

Mike Nichols directs this drama about the deceitful crossover of two sets of relationships involving Alice (Natalie Portman), Dan (Jude Law), Larry (Clive Owen) and Anna (Julia Roberts).

Admittedly, I would have probably never approached, let alone bothered to watch this film if it wasn’t for the stellar cast which makes the movie vaguely enjoyable. It wouldn’t have been very good if they got any four actors to play the two sets of leads and the good cast give them more background and depth than ‘Look at me, I’m the sleazy one’ ‘I’m the stripper’ or ‘I’m the photographer’. I liked watching from the side as they tear both the characters and the relationships apart and all they have to do is act on what’s left of the pieces in a metaphorical box. I am also a big fan of Natalie Portman and Clive Owen’s work.

However, it all gets a bit confusing, and I hope that the director intended to show that the audience don’t know who is now cheating on who, who is going out with who and which person decided to go off with someone else. It’s like a soap opera with better actors and a better script and without the feeling that you have to doze off from the ludicrous acting.

Closer looks a bit odd from the outside and it would probably never appeal to someone who is not a fan of the director or the four actors, but it is always worth a watch.

Brilliant cast, good director and an interesting soundtrack.

3.5/5

Mary and Max

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‘It would be great if you could write back and we could be friends’

Mary and Max is a heartwarming tale about a young Australian girl called Mary (Toni Collette) and an old Jew/atheist called Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who develop a friendship through letters over a long period of time.

It is shot entirely in clay motion, and a suppose that that gives it a unique animation style. I haven’t seen a film like this before where it was used effectively (except Wallace and Gromit) so it was quite surprising to watch a film like this and be amazed by the incredible soundtrack that fits in with the pace, dark undertone and narration of the film. It made me laugh, cry and become mesmerized by the story.

I know of Toni Collette from other stuff like About a Boy and The Sixth Sense but that is not entirely the point considering that she was very good in this and gave her voice well to what I thought was an animated masterpiece. As for Philip Seymour Hoffman, he passed away last year and I wasn’t so interested in his films until now, but he had a very good voice.

I liked the claymotion and I think the whole writing back to forth to each other has been done in other films but it was never as effective as how the animators, director and creator of Mary and Max put it across considering that there is more to it than that. I also don’t think that it is any old animated film, what comes with the viewing includes several useful life lessons as Mary and Max were both considered to be strange to the outside world and all the clues are put together when Max is diagnosed with Aspergers and she is considered an outsider.

Good cast, soundtrack and animation. I seemed as if I was watching a long roller coaster ride and I would defiantly watch the movie again at some point in the near future, although I did find that it was very depressing. Just because it’s a cartoon, it doesn’t mean that it is always aimed at children. It also has an effective colour scheme and I like the bit at the end with the divide between black and white and colour. I also like how they both had unfinished intentions and everything about this film is all too powerful. You think that it will result in one thing and it results in something completely different. It leaves you thinking ‘How did they do that?’

Directed by Adam Elliott.

4.5/5

Shutter Island

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”She’s still here. She never left’

Martin Scorsese directs yet another one of his thinkers’ movies, and Shutter Island is about two Marshals called Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his working partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) who investigate the disappearance of a female killer who escaped from the mental institute on a desolate island called Shutter Island. A series of events on the island leads to Daniels questioning his own sanity.

I think that this is one of those type of horror-thrillers that wouldn’t be scary if you took away the shock factor and the chilling music. If you took away those horror factors then Leonardo DiCaprio’s character would be running around looking mad and questioning people.

I don’t remember caring about this movie whatsoever when I last watched it several years ago, although Scorsese likes using his shock factor to scare the audience into thinking ‘did that really happen or is that a trick?’. Watching again meant that we could be manipulated into clues which may have been discarded or expanded on throughout the course of the movie.

I don’t like any of Leonardo DiCaprio’s films past The Great Gatsby but that is not the point. I liked how he was clever enough to keep that sort of secret for so long, which is halfway between being clever and having duo-personality disorder, something that could be argued in an in-depth analysis. As for Mark Ruffalo, I personally think that he is a good actor and he worked well as Leonardo DiCaprio’s character’s sidekick, and not forgetting Sir Ben Kingsley, who seems to wow the audience with his overbearing screen presence every time he plays a role in every film.

I also liked the cinematography, all the greys and black shades and the feeling that they cannot escape off the island, therefore he cannot escape the fact that he was the guy who went missing. Considering that I live on an island, it actually makes the whole film seem very claustrophobic and creepy, and the lighthouse symbolism could be interpreted in many ways.

Overall, good cast, cinematography and plenty of suspense to keep you questioning the forthcoming events.

4/5