21st century girl

reviews – my way.

Month: October, 2015

The Wolfman (2010)

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‘What are you afraid of?’

Joe Johnston directs this so-so remake of the 1941 film of the same name. It is about a man called Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) whos brother-and later he was mauled by a mysterious werewolf, and must protect his brother’s fiancée Gwen (Emily Blunt). It also stars Hugo Weaving as Inspector Abberline and Anthony Hopkins.

In terms of the film, I liked the choice of cast and they all did a superb job. In particular, Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving led the best performances out of the whole cast. Hugo Weaving’s character was based on a real person and he stole the scene whenever he was in it. The cinematography had a blend of blue and black colors which added to this grim and dark movie and the sets/scenery looked fantastic, especially the tired manor house. The costumes were well designed as well. Apart from that, I felt that the movie was a tiny bit too stringy, and I don’t know if it was due to anything else aside from the fact that if you took away the all star cast, jump scares and the stunning cinematography, the movie would be really hollow. Likewise, it is an interesting film but I can understand why some may not like it and some people might. The jump scares were very well edited into the generally dark and gory movie and were probably the cause into why the movie became scary very quickly.

I saw this on sale at HMV several years ago but I thought that it looked way too scary for me and I was still way too young to watch it. Asa Butterfield also stars in it for about a minute of it as the young Ben Talbot.

The director definitely knows how to scare his viewers with some very cleverly edited jump cuts that usually pan over to the wolfman, usually after he’s torn someone limb from limb. The movie could be interpreted in many different ways and considering that the main guy spent some time in a mental institute, the wolfman turns out to be his other side to him. I don’t think reminding myself that it was only Benicio del Toro after hours of makeup made it any less scarier. There’s one thing that I learnt after watching it: Werewolves are not cute and cuddly and they don’t even come close to resembling huge dogs.

Anyway, very interesting cinematography, brilliant cast, compelling time period-appropriate costumes but it was a bit scary/ gory for my tastes.  After all, it is Halloween.

3/5

 

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Whiplash

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‘There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job’

As the old saying goes, ‘There will be Blood, sweat and tears’. Indeed there is as Damien Chazelle directs Whiplash, an Oscar Winning film about a young jazz drummer called Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) who is pushed to the brink of sanity by his unpredictable instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K Simmons).

While this isn’t the best film that I have ever seen, it would be one of the ones that you could study and put under the microscope to discover some sort of inner meaning. I have never watched anything with J.K Simmons in it, but he was truly terrifying and he deserved the Oscars that he got at the Academy Awards earlier this year. With one evil glance to his overworked students, he just makes the movie stand on its own. He’s believable and he’s scary. I also used to think that playing the drums looked rather cool because of the drummers in various bands but it turns out that there is more work and effort than that. The ending sequence never seemed to end, suggesting Andrew’s never ending quest for perfection. Whiplash is the like the drum version of the Darren Androfsky film Black Swan.

I personally liked how some of the film uses close ups which focuses on the hands or the drum kit, either coated with blood or sweat or sweat dripping from his face or his hands gripping onto drum sticks. The film makes use of the dark side of music and being in a jazzband and uses its Oscar bait and therefore chooses its closeups and deeper meaning and symbolism wisely. Beneath the sounds of the drums is a wailing drummer falling under the pressure.

Overall, an interesting film which earned some well deserved Oscars. Some bits made me queasy but it was a superb performance from all the cast.

3.5/5

 

 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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‘If we burn, you burn with us’

Katniss Everdeen, Gale and Peeta return for the final book of the popular Hunger Games trilogy. Her home District 12 has been destroyed so Katniss has to become the symbol of rebellion in the lead up to the final battle.

Mockingjay luckily made up for the marmite (love it or hate it) previous volume Catching Fire. Collins gathers every last dying thread to create an interesting and thrilling final read. At least they were all happy in the end but the lead up to it was gripping and the author certainly knows how to take away the characters that you love the most. I couldn’t imagine losing a sister as much as Katniss lost Prim or how Katniss basically lost Peeta when he got brainwashed into thinking that she was a threat.

I have yet to compare this with the two respective film adaptations, but I would imagine that it would be hard to say goodbye to the characters when the final film comes out in a month or so.

Overall, A poignant goodbye to what turned out to be quite a good book trilogy. After all, the Hunger Games never stops even when your home burns to the ground.

3/5

 

 

A.I: Artificial Intelligence

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‘Is it a game?’

Steven Spielberg directs A.I, this sci-fi  movie about a robotic boy with proper human thoughts and emotions called David (Haley Joel Osment) who sets out to be a ‘real boy’ and find his human mother. It also stars Jude Law and some other major A-list actors.

I have a fairly big interest in these sorts of movies, but in this case, the visuals and the cast strike more than anything else in the film. I also like the connotations of water and being a toy, especially when it comes to what David is, as water can easily break a toy. He’s a robot and young children like playing around with robotic toys. In some way, the make up people must have spent ages trying to make Jude Law and Haley Joel Osment look like robots complete with alot of effective but slightly dated CGI. The use of blue is a major colour is the film and it definitely does jump on your fear of water as blue is usually associated with being a cold colour. After all, he did direct Jaws….

The colour scheme is actually really interesting. At one point, I did not care much for the film but it picked up in the middle, although it isn’t exactly the best film that I have ever seen but Spielberg is one of my favorite directors (aside from Tarantino and probably the Wasowskis). I think that one day, we will actually have robot children (not the ones who sit in front of the computer, I mean actual robot children) and more talking teddy bears. I like how the director combines darkness, light, hope and taking bits from popular fairytales such as Pinocchio to contribute to a fairly good film.

Overall, stunning visuals, interesting cast, excellent director. At least David got his wish in the end and it makes you appreciate your mother more.

3/5

 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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‘You just remember who the enemy is’

Katniss Everdeen returns and the story picks up from where it stops in the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy. A rebellion against the Capitol begins so her and Peeta Mellark return to the arena to fight in the Hunger Games all over again in a special edition.

I’ll admit that some bits of the book were incredibly slow, and some picked up the pace and the pieces from the previous Hunger Games book, and I began to notice more obviously that Catching Fire, and the Hunger Games altogether, is basically a toned down version of Lord of The Flies, or something similar when you make children fight or take over in a dystopian world. I read about half of this a while ago and I haven’t seen the film yet, but some of it was indeed gripping and some of it was not. It didn’t really help that I read the main arc of the story in a fairly loud classroom before college so most of it is a bit bitty. I also think that the second book of any trilogy has alot to live up for and despite the fact that it did carry on from the first, it did not exactly live up to it.

Once you take part in something, mostly a TV show, I would assume that the people in charge or indeed the leaders will not let you go of that event. It is as if the Hunger Games never ended and Collins is just picking up the pieces.

I just need to see if Mockingjay completes the trilogy successfully and if the Catching Fire film adaptation does the book justice (I have been told that it doesn’t but I would need to see if that is correct).

3/5

 

 

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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‘Gates open at Nightfall and close at dawn’

The Night Circus is a novel about a circus that only opens at night, and during the day, it is only a couple of ‘striped tents’. At the circus, two illusionists called Marco and Celia are binded by magic and they fall in love.

I don’t know how I came across this book but I saw it in my local bookshop and decided to buy it, thinking that it would be on the same premise as Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants and the film of the same name because of the circus. Clearly, it was not. In fact, it was entirely different and may I say, better, and the only things that the two books had in common was that they were both primarily set in a circus.  Immediately, I was swept away into a land of acrobats and a magician and all the different interlinking stories that blew me away, especially the heavily romantic relationship between Marco and Celia. I don’t remember reading something this good but it is currently my favorite book. It is imaginative and I sometimes like to press my face into the pages in the unlikely case that I will jump into the book and join the night circus (or the Le Cirque de Reves) and go back in time about one hundred and twenty or so years. It is also up to the readers interpretation into how they approach the events in the novel.

I had many predictions about this book. It was too good to be a ‘it was all just a dream’ scenario, which, to be honest, is only an interesting story if it is done well and not used as a last resort. I also hope that they never turn it into an actual released film because the novel itself stands alone and takes you on an adventure and it doesn’t need some ego filled actors to prove it, although it will eventually be interesting how the actors interpret the characters. I also think that the circus is a metaphor for escaping from everyday Victorian duties or expectations e.g one of the characters Bailey was accepted into Harvard but he was more interested in the  circus.

Anyway, I liked the characters. It was surprisingly easy to follow and doesn’t tend to go off on a tangent or stick to the cliches of a book about a circus, in fact, the circus was just the tents. I honestly couldn’t put the book down and I still imagine the lit tents  against the night sky and all the romance plot lines long after I close the book. It isn’t just all about a circus; there’s love, deceit, death, hope, betrayal and an ongoing thing that the circus was all just a game. Not a sentence went by without me thinking that it had some sort of symbolic relevance which could be pieced together at the end. The ending made me wonder what happened to the remaining characters long after the events that Morgenstern actually wrote in the book. I now know why readers get attracted to fictional characters and writers get attracted to their characters as well. I might even read this novel again soon to pick up the small pieces that I didn’t pick up the first time round.

At one point, I was so carried away with the characters and the story lines interlinking with each other carefully that I stayed up past my bedtime to read most of it, forgot where I was and ended up reading the same forty or so pages again. There isn’t a single thing that I should criticize about this book, even the ‘love’ scenes were somewhat beautifully written. Now I’m getting withdrawal symptoms from this fictional circus and the book altogether.

If you haven’t read it, I would recommend this masterpiece to you. I also cannot believe that this was Morgenstern’s debut novel because she did a very good job at it. I don’t think that she has published anything else as of yet.

5/5

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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‘May the odds be forever in your favour’

The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel and the first book of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. It has since been made into a successful film trilogy starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutchinson and Liam Hemsworth.

The Hunger games is about a 16 year old girl called Katniss Everdeen who volunteers to fight to the death instead of her younger sister Prim. The problem is, near death situations are a second nature to her and it is part of a live television show called The Hunger Games.

I wasn’t really a fan of the books or the films back in 2012 when the first movie came out. I haven’t watched the film in ages but Jennifer Lawrence is a brilliant actress who has won several Oscars and tends to avoid the cliches of lead female protagonists in trilogies or sagas. I prefer the dystopian genre because of its originality. Anyway, I love how strong Katniss is, both as a person and as a character who probably began in Collins’ mind. She’s so kick ass, a strong female character and very original, can take extreme risks and to think that it was all for a TV show. All the trauma, dead people and life death situations just for people’s viewing and pleasure. I can’t exactly compare The Hunger games with any of our TV programmes but people like watching others suffer.

I like how Suzanne Collins builds some strong characters, not pretty boys and moany girls, but that is besides the point. All the characters take risks, kick ass, kill or be killed. It is also hard to realize that Katniss is the same age as I am and I would never be able to do anything that she does, but that is the best part of reading books. Also, Collins tends to describe food for a vast majority of the novel, and if it’s not food, then she usually goes on about Katniss caring for her little sister Prim or Gale and Peeta.

Overall, a brilliant first volume to a successful book trilogy, interesting characters and some heartful moments where all you want to do is go up to an injured Katniss and give her a hug (although she might stab you with one of her arrows and it would be recorded on live television).

4.5/5

 

The Mule

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‘You’ve just made your second mistake’

The Mule is a relatively small Australian film set in the 1980s and it is about a drug mule called Ray Jenkins (Angus Sampson) who is caught and held in custody and also detained by members of the Australian Federal police, to include a cunning Detective Tom Croft (Hugo Weaving) and Paris (Ewan Leslie).

Hugo Weaving would probably be the one who I would praise the most for his character and portrayal in this movie. One raise of an eyebrow or an evil eye glance gives such a powerful performance that he just takes over the scenes that he is in, and perhaps the whole film. He has the sneaky side who hits on the assistant and stirs things but in a way he is probably a bit misunderstood, and after all, he is only doing his job. It would also be a film that I would want to watch again because I liked it so much and I would need to capture all the smaller details that I didn’t notice first time round. As for the others, Angus Sampson was ok in his role and after a while, I didn’t really care about the vomit, guts, blood and feces that were vividly splashed across the movie although it was queasy at times, because I knew that it was all fake. It was realistic.

I expected it to be worse, for some reason. Whilst it isn’t a film that I would watch with my Mum, I could probably interpret the film on many different angles. At school, we were taught the consequences of keeping drugs up your, let’s say, rear end, but surprisingly a good drama has been made out of it as a result.

A surprisingly good movie. I can see why Hugo Weaving and perhaps the others are within their comfort zones playing effective roles like policemen and other characters when doing small drama films like this movie and others, rather than multi million pound blockbusters. None of them feel the need to impress anyone and it works out quite well.

Also starring John Noble (who was in stuff like Lord of The Rings), Ewan Leslie, Leigh Whannel and others.

4/5

 

X+Y

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‘It must be hard to lose someone that you love so much’

X+Y is a heartwarming coming of age drama based on a true story. It follows the story of a young teen maths prodigy called Nathan (Asa Butterfield), who has Aspergers Syndrome and seeks comfort and competition in the wonders of mathematics, but not necessarily with other people (especially his mother) until he seeks to solve the most difficult problem- falling in love.

I have liked Asa Butterfield’s work since he was in The Boy In the Striped Pajamas when he was about ten years old. He always seems to pick roles which don’t require him to be ‘the hot guy’ because I personally think that he is rather good looking, but instead he chooses parts that have some sort of challenge even when he started out acting. Here, there is no difference. He was very convincing in a part that can be trivialized.  He and his maths tutor are binded because they are seen as different to other people. I read a book once about a boy with Asperger’s but I felt as if I was being patronized with examples and off tangent story lines. Sally Hawkins was also very good as his on screen mother and came across as a very fragile but strong woman who has clearly been through alot. Often, the story tends to go off on one to fill gaps but it turns out that it is all relevant. I like how some of it consists of shots of eyes because he sees the world differently.

I personally dislike Maths and I have never understood it but I can see why the characters connect with maths. It brought Nathan’s comforts, memories of his father, his relationships with girls, his syndrome and communication with his mother together for a bittersweet and tear jerking ending. The movie is way more than some guy doing maths and I had heard about it a lot as it was being released because I saw a poster of it at the train station when I was in London with the class earlier this year.

Good cast to also include Rafe Spall, Eddie Marsan, Jo Yang, Jake Davies and exceptional acting, inspirational messages and a generally brilliant film about love, loss and maths.

Alternative title is ‘A Brilliant Young Mind’

3.5/5