21st century girl

reviews – my way.

Month: July, 2017

Pulp Fiction (1994)

‘Let’s get into character’ 

Pulp Fiction is a cult classic movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, and it follows a series of interlinking stories that are mostly centered around two hitmen Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnifield (Samuel L. Jackson), a boxer named Butch (Bruce Willis) and his love interest, and it starts and ends with two people at a diner. The film also stars Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth and Quentin Tarantino (who makes an appearance in all of his films).

I had heard of the film before, as its reputation as a modern classic proceeds it, along with its epic soundtrack. It also happens to be my younger brother’s favourite film. I have also previously seen other Quentin Tarantino films, such as Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds. I particularly liked the five dollar milkshake and iconic dance scene between Vincent and Mia. I thought that Vincent and Mia would end up together, but they don’t. That’s what Tarantino is good at. Proving that you don’t need a romantic plot line to move the story along. If you were an inspiring filmmaker, this would be the movie to watch. The camera angles speak for themselves, and I particularly took notice of the positioning in the scene between Bruce Willis’ character and his love interest. His love interest is positioned lower than he is to show her vulnerability and the fact that she is intimidated by him and that he has more authority over her. I should also note that Tarantino sometimes uses medium closeups of the characters when they speak to draw attention to them when they talk. He’s also very good at using product placement, as the characters spend most of the film eating.

There is also a contrast between the women in the film. The main female character Mia is rather headstrong and a bit rebellious. She takes drugs and she doesn’t really care what other people think. She also reminds me of someone who I used to go to college with. The closeup shot of her Mia’s lips show feminitity, and the shot of her feet highlight suggest Tarantino’s interest in showing women’s feet  in all of his films. I personally thought that the other main women in the film were a bit annoying, and I’m rather glad that most of the marketing of the films involve Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman’s character).  I did not realize until now that the Direct Line adverts make an obvious reference to Pulp Fiction, as the actor Harvey Keitel is in both Pulp Fiction and the Direct Line ads.

Quentin Tarantino makes references to other films throughout the movie itself, and the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic 50s inspired bar in the film, where there are people dressed as Marilyn Munroe, Buddy Holly and James Dean. I don’t think my older sister (who likes Buddy Holly’s music) would be complaining if a Buddy Holly lookalike was a waiter in a cool restaurant. I like how the film eventually goes back to the beginning, and how Pulp Fiction messes with your mind. It’s a rather love it or hate it film. Despite that, Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta made a good pairing and they were brilliant in their roles. I should also note of the editing between the pop tarts popping up in the toaster and the John Travolta character being shot. Apparently Pulp Fiction is told in a reverse chronological order.

I think that the soundtrack also goes with the popularity of the film. I had always associated Chuck Berry’s ‘You never can tell’ with the iconic dance scene, and I’d love to eventually learn how to do that dance. It looks like fun. I think they did that dance on Strictly a few years ago. I’ve also heard the introductory music of Pulp Fiction elsewhere as well.

Overall, a cult classic film that has inspired me to look into watching other classic Tarantino films. The only downside to this film is that it sometimes drags and goes off on a tangent and doesn’t make any sense, but I think that’s just Tarantino’s artistic way of filmmaking.

4.5/5

 

Cherie (2009)

‘No one is ever as busy as someone with nothing to do,’ 

Cherie is a film about a passionate affair between a courtesan named Lea (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her colleague’s young and spoilt son Cheri (Rupert Friend). It also stars Kathy Bates as Cherie’s mother and Felicity Jones as Edmee, Cherie’s wife (who he was arranged to marry).

The cinematography was great. The costumes were wonderful. The musical score was quite interesting and it set the tone for the movie. They had a good choice for the cast, as Rupert Friend is currently one of my top favourite actors at the moment, I have watched Michelle Pfeiffer in a great deal of things and I had seen Kathy Bates in other films such as Titanic. She seems to be the go-to actress for period dramas.

My interest in the movie stopped at the cinematography, the cast, the costumes and the musical score. The rest of the movie fell flat for me. It’s not the fault of the cast. I’ve watched Rupert Friend in other things such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, the Young Victoria, Starred Up, the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice and the tv show Homeland, and he was fantastic in all of them, especially Homeland. He’s a terrific actor, and he played the part very well and brought charm and stage prescence to the film, although I think that this movie isn’t his best, though he saves it by a mile. I also saw Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, and I’ve heard that she’s in Star Wars: Rogue One. The cast isn’t to blame for this abysmimally dull movie (Cherie, I mean. Not Rogue One). It’s the script that I cannot stand. I think it’s just the witty one liners and the constant stupid ‘I love you’s’ exchanged between two characters that we are supposed to believe are supposedly having an affair with each other/in love, along with the many awful romantic scenes. Sometimes, the dialogue even made me roll my eyes. Perhaps I needed to have read the book beforehand. Also, that Cheri character really has Mummy issues that he needs to sort out.

Maybe this movie is supposed to have some dramatic inner meaning about desire and sexual curiosity towards an older woman or a younger man, and the rejection of someone of their own age. Perhaps I watched the film expecting other things. Either way, despite the incredible costumes (Cherie’s red coat looked lovely and the gowns looked amazing) and the fact that Rupert Friend is shirtless for most of the film, along with the pretence that it’s supposed to be a period drama, it just came off as being overly dramatic. Again, it’s not the fault of the cast or their acting. It’s just the fault of the script and the plot and the chemistry-less romance.

Overall, an average film with a good cast, musical score and costumes. Everything else fell flat for me personally. That, however, is just my opinion.

2/5

 

 

Homeland (TV show)

‘I’m a guy that kills bad guys’ 

warning: Possible spoilers ahead.

Homeland is a U.S TV show about a bipolar CIA agent named Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) who become s convinced that a marine and former POW named Sargent Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) is planning a Muslim terror attack on American soil. Many storylines (mostly terrorism based) spiral out from there. It also stars Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn, a CIA officer and assassin, and Mandy Patinkin as Saul, among others, including F. Murray Abraham, who was in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

I initally thought that the TV series got off to a slow start, though it only really picked up in Season 2, even though you got to know the fundamentals and the background in season 1. I was aware of Damien Lewis, but I hadn’t seen him in anything else. I must admit that the only reason why I watched Homeland was because it looked interesting and I like Rupert Friend’s work. The show itself goes on such a journey that season 1 lays down the fundamentals e.g Brody’s family life, his affair with Carrie, his strained familial relationships with his wife and children, his link to terrorism etc. However, from season 2 and 3 onwards, Quinn picks up from where Brody left off, especially after Brody dies in the season 3 finale. After that, there was a period of time when the show was trying to pick up its pieces. I didn’t care for many of the characters except for Brody, Quinn, Saul and Carrie, though my interest in the latter two characters does not convince me to carry on watching the show.

I like how nobody in the show is 100% good or bad. You also see the motivations and reasons  behind the characters so that they are never dull. Quinn comes across as being a bit odd, though he is an immensely likeable character. It was rather sad to see his vulnerability at stake in the final episode, and I was left feeling empty after he died, even though he’s not a real person. He survived a gassing, an explosion, several shootings, a stabbing and being in a near death situation in a coma. He grew with us as the viewers in all of the seasons that he was in. That’s perhaps what made the season five and six season finales so emotional (at least for me anyway).

As for all of the other characters, they were also rather interesting as well. Some of the issues in the show were also incredibly close to comfort, such as the IS, the 9/11, terror attacks, bomb threats, a new president and a whole list of other things, and the contrasts between religion I.e Muslim, atheist, catholic, Jew etc and being kept hostage. I also found that the news and social media played a huge part in the story itself and the motivations behind most of the storylines, and homemade controversial videos are one of the many ways to get you into trouble. It’s also rather scary how everything from trackers to your phone to even a drop of blood can be used as evidence for your whereabouts.

I first watched Homeland one weekend when I was scrolling through Netflix. I watched episodes in the hours between giving my brother his lunch and dinner when my parents were away. Back then, I was in my last few weeks of college (I’ve since graduated) and I was watching the episodes before and after college. The series had developed along with me, and it was sad to see all of the good characters go as I have an real connection with them.

Would I watch this show again? Yes, I would, just not the episodes after the sixth season. I wish that I could unwatch the series and rewatch it again as if I had seen it for the first time, or if I had never read any spoilers prior to watching it. I was rather emotional seeing Quinn detoriate towards the end of season five and for the entirety of season six and how it affected himself and everyone else around him. He was a rather unpredictable character, he could either lash out or ignore the other character or plan to do something sneaky like making a bomb or spy on people or run off. Season five was sort of left on a cliffhanger into whether Quinn would survive or not.

Had I known about this show later last year, then it could have contributed massively to a college art project about news. I like how they also don’t brush mental illness aside, as the main character Carrie has bipolar, the main guy’s daughter’s boyfriend has mental health issues and Quinn eventually gets PTSD etc.

Overall, a great and relevant show that adapts to the time and issues of modern America.

4/5

Jackie

I never wanted fame. I just became a Kennedy’ 

Jackie is an Oscar winning film about the life of John F. Kennedy’s wife Jackie (played by Natalie Portman) after JFK’s assassination. The film also stars Billy Crudup, Caspar Philipson and also John Hurt in one of his last roles before his death.

I was aware that this movie was Oscar bait, so out of curiosity, I watched it to see what the fuss was about. I am also a fan of some of Natalie Portman’s work, so that was one of the many other factors. It is fair to say that I was not exactly disappointed, but I also don’t have any need to watch it again too many times.

Natalie Portman approached the role quite well, and she suited the part of Jackie Kennedy. I think that the costumes looked outstanding, especially the iconic pink outfit and hat that she wore when JFK was shot. A horrifying and particularly haunting scene is when she has her husband’s blood all over her in the car. Of course, Jackie had to go through a lot in her lifetime, that is quite reflective in the film. The film is basically a statement on a feminist approach to Jackie Kennedy’s independence in the wake of her husband’s death. I think that’s where it went wrong. Although the entire film was about her, it seemed to just scream ‘look at me, I’m a strong, independent woman!’ in a rather overbearing manner, though I do respect films that bother to show women in a good light rather than an object. The film also came across as being a bit slow at times as well. I do find it interesting how the only original footage from that time is the shooting of JFK’s assassin. Likewise, some of John Hurt’s dialogue was strangely coincidental as it was about death and he died several months after the release of the film. I also noticed that the scenes where she’s with her husband are generally shown to be a lot brighter than the scenes where she’s mourning him.

Overall, a fairly interesting take on Jackie Kennedy after her husband’s death. The film had great actors, cinematography and costumes, however it felt as if it was going nowhere at times and it was a bit overhyped.

3/5