21st century girl

reviews – my way.

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Beauty and The Beast (2017)

‘Be Our Guest!’ 

Beauty and the Beast is the live action version of the 1991 Disney film of the same name, and it follows the story of a young woman named Belle (Emma Watson) who is taken prisoner by a fierce Beast (Dan Stevens) in a castle to save her father, and befriends many of the castle’s staff, including a candle called Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), a clock called Cogsworth (Ian McKellan) and a teapot called Mrs Potts (Emma Thompson) and her son Chip (Nathan Mack). It also stars Luke Evans as Gaston and Stanley Tucci as the organ.

I went to watch the movie at the cinema with my older sister, and apart from the parents of the children watching the film, we were the oldest people in the cinema. My one criticism of this movie is the fact that it uses Stockholm Syndrome as a main motivation to move the story on, though I have avoided reviews before and indeed after watching the film.  Likewise, it is a rather good live action remake. Emma Watson was brilliant as Belle, and I previously saw her in Perks of Being a Wallflower and Harry Potter, the latter of which was a huge part of my childhood, along with the animated version of the Beauty and the Beast. The scene where Belle arrives at the ball in the iconic yellow dress reminds me of the Yule Ball scene in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, though I watched Besuty and the Beast with that in mind. It was great to see some of my favourite actors (including Ian McKellan, who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings) in a spectacular version of a childhood classic. My favourite part was the bit when the Beast gives her a library, and maybe the ball scene, and the castle looked wonderful. The cinematography was incredible, and Dan Stevens brought his charm to the character of the Beast (along with his lovely blue eyes). I did hope that Gaston and Lefou would end up together as I heard something about a gay subplot long before I watched the film. Though I don’t watch that much of Luke Evans’ work, he did play a better Gaston than the one in the 1991 original.

My sister and I knew most of the songs off by heart, and she ended up singing some as we grew up with the original. It’s good to do a good Disney original justice, along with adding a bit of backstory, instead of ruining it entirely. It was also good to play guess the actor when all the inanimate objects became real people at the end. I think this is the first movie that Ewan McGregor has sung in since Moulin Rouge (2001), which is also another great movie.

Overall, it’s worth a watch. Maybe multiple viewings if you must. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s supposed to be for children.

4/5

The Boys are Back (2009 film)

‘My son will never replace your daughter,’ 

The Boys are Back is an Australian/British film about a sports journalist named Joe Warr (Clive Owen) who has to raise his two sons, Artie (Nicholas McAnulty) and Harry (George Mackay) alone following the death of his second wife Katy (Laura Fraser).

From the very start of the film, it tends to suck you into an emotional rollercoaster that grabs at you and never lets you go until the credits roll. I went into watching the film thinking that it was going to be a really dull road movie involving children, but I was quickly mistaken. At times, I thought that it would land into some huge cliches, for instance, Clive Owen’s character running off with the mother of Artie’s female friend, but that never happened. From there, however, there could be some contrast between raising a daughter as a single mother and raising two children as a single father.

I found it quite sweet how Artie’s mother seemed to be a huge part of Joe’s life, to the point where, at some points in the film, she would be heard before she could be seen. If I ever watched the film again, I would look out for the positioning of Katy in the shots to make it appear that she was dead and he was alive, therefore he’s talking to her in his grief stricken subconsciousness. What’s so good about this film is that at times, it’s from the perspective of the father, but sometimes you see an insight into what it is like for the children. The film made me laugh, cry and smile and have a whole range of unpredictable emotions. One minute, I’m disliking Joe because he abandoned his eldest son Harry, the next, I’m getting used to him because after all, he only wants to bring his children up well. Perhaps the generation gap between the mother and the grandmother as a result of the loss of Katy- Joe’s wife, shows that Artie’s grandmother had to somehow take her daughter’s place, and she doesn’t live in the same household as them so Joe and his family have a household without women. It takes you on a journey to explore the somewhat troubled father-son relationship in close detail, and it leaves you thinking about it afterwards. There is also a metaphorical battle between childhood from Artie and teenage angst from Harry, who is indeed quite insecure, and hates his father. This is a heavy difference from Artie.

Like every other broad character, Joe does make mistakes. That’s where Clive Owen’s diverse acting range comes in. Having seen Clive Owen interviews about this film before watching the movie, I’m aware of how much the film basically feeds into his life. You could tell that he enjoyed being part of the film. His range of emotions throughout the film were superb. He could go from a ‘hey, let’s go on a road trip!’ to ‘Oh, for goodness sake. How about I teach you some manners afterwards?’ within moments. You could see his point when he lost his temper, though at times it came out of nowhere, and the fact that he pushed away his eldest son until it was too late was a bit uncool for. As for the actors who played the boys, they were both very promising, and I hope they do wonders in the world of acting.

I did not expect to watch the film with so many thoughts and emotions. As a fan of Clive Owen, I’ve seen both good and bad movies of his, and I think this one becomes second best beneath Children of Men. All the other actors were good in their own way, and the cinematography was excellent. If they would have carried on with that plot line between Joe and his youngest son’s friend’s mum then I would have turned it off entirely. The end had me in tears, though I don’t know if I would feel sad in the same way if I watched it again, though I will certainly give it another few rewatches.

If you haven’t watched it, go and watch it and say what you think of it.

4.5/5

Stardust (2007 film)

What do stars do? They shine,’

Stardust is a movie based on the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman. It follows the story of a young man called Tristan Thorn (in the book, he was named Tristran), played brilliantly by Charlie Cox, who goes on a quest to win the heart of a woman named Victoria Forrester (Sienna Miller). When he gets to the star, he discovers that it is actually a woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes) but the evil queen Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) wants Yvaine’s heart for eternal youth. It also stars Henry Cavill, David Kelly and Robert deNiro.

I read the book before I watched the film, so I knew all the background story that was either cut out or not explored in too much detail in the film. I was aware of the Take That song ‘Rule the world’ that played in the end credits, and it suited the context of the film perfectly.

The cinematography is brilliant and so were the actors. At times, it did feel like the Michelle Pfeiffer show, but she nevertheless captured the role of the evil witch incredibly well with her screen prescense and her female villain aura about her. I think it would be really cool having that magical green light coming out of your finger, and I spent the entire film paying attention to her character. Good characters are boring. The scenery looked incredible as well, though it gave off the impression that it was set in medieval times when it’s actually set at some point in the Victorian era. I like how a children’s film like this one can sweep you off somewhere magical, though I am aware that a lot of the mature bits in the book had either been condensed down, assumed or cut out entirely. The unicorn also looked quite sweet.

I would probably watch this film again. The ending was quite sweet and I watched the film and looked out for all of the cast members that I recognised. Though I don’t tend to watch Robert DeNiro films that much, he is rather good and quite legendary. The best part is that it’s narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. I didn’t, however, like the character of Victoria Forrester. If a guy promised to give me stardust, I wouldn’t laugh at him. I also don’t like how Ricky Gervais has to be in every film, this one included. Some of the lines in the film made me laugh, for instance ‘I’m not your mother, get off me!’. It was also quite sweet how he reunited with his mother eventually and became king.

I would highly recommend that you watch Stardust if you haven’t already seen it, and if you have a spare two hours.

4/5

Primal Fear (1996)

‘Where is Aaron?’ 

Primal Fear is a movie based on the book on the same name by William Diehl, and it is about a lawyer called Martin Veil (Richard Gere) who solves the case of an altar boy named Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton), who is accused of murdering a priest.

Conisdering that this was Edward Norton’s first film, it was rather good. Edward Norton has become one of my favourite actors simply because his screen presence is overpowering amongst other things, and he was incredibly good in this movie. Richard Gere was rather brilliant in his role, and he fell for Aaron’s lies as he was tricked.

The movie is interesting if you look at it from a psychological perspective. I am not a psycho but I have always been fascinated by how and why murderers commit a crime-and often deny it. What I particularly find intriguing is the plot line about multiple personality disorder. In this case, you have Aaron, an angelic looking, rather quiet alter boy who has a stutter, and you have Roy, an angry, violent psychopath, maybe the hidden, unsympathetic beast inside Aaron, perhaps a personification for his insecurities that can only be taken out with rage and denial. That’s my opinion anyway. The fact that this was Edward Norton’s first role was not the point, though he was nominated for an Oscar for it, and he deserved the nomination. He brings so much emotion to the character that you could almost see the mask slipping from the guy’s face to reveal two entirely different personalities.

As for the film’s likeability, it’s not a movie that I would convientionally enjoy. However, approaching it from an analytical point of view is quite interesting. For instance, does the closeup of Aaron’s hands and face suggest the uneasy suspicion and tension of switching between his two personalities? It’s the type of film that you would watch, and it would make next to no sense, but it’s only afterwards that you start to bring all the hints and clues together. Was it Aaron behind those prison bars all along, or was it Roy? Was Aaron groomed by the archbishop, and in anger, he took revenge by killing both his girlfriend and the priest, therefore creating those two personalities to make him seem insecure? Was the quote ‘There was somebody else in the room’ a early hint into his dual personality?

The use of cross cutting interlinking the crime scene and the scene where Aaron is fleeing with blood all over him is particularly effective. The fact that mostly everything is reported on the news in the film also concludes that nothing is secret and the police and the lawyers defending you are not idiots. I am not a huge fan of prolonged courtroom scenes. I find that they all follow the same formula, yet they seem to keep the film flowing. Yet the slight twist at the end personally makes me question what I’ve just watched. The ending is also up to your interpretation.

It’s certainly not my favourite film but it is definetly a kickstart into Edward Norton’s successful career as an actor. As for Richard Gere, I’m not a huge fan of his work but he carried the film along with his charisma and his prescence on screen, and all the other actors in the film were good in their own way, though I don’t think I would be able to look at priests in the same way again.

4/5

 

 

 

Suicide Squad

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Harley Quinn. Nice to meet ya,’

Suicide Squad is a movie starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevigne and Jared Leto, and it is about a group of super villains who save the world from the apocalypse. It includes iconic modern day characters such as Harley Quinn and The Joker.

I was ID-ed to buy the movie (the movie is a 15 and I’m 18 in six months) but I actually watched the movie with my best guy friend, who likes action films. Last Halloween then a lot of people seemed to dress up as The Joker and Harley Quinn, and I didn’t really understand the hype. As for who played The Joker better, Jared Leto and the late Heath Ledger interpreted the character in their own way. I liked the art direction in the movie, the cinematography, the soundtrack and the colour scheme were astounding. I generally heard mixed reviews about this movie, some said that it was good, and others said that it was terrible. For me, it’s not my favourite movie but it does have its good points about it and its downsides too. At times, it seemed to drag and it seemed like it was very much the ‘Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Jared Leto Show’.  I can see why Harley Quinn is such an iconic image for both men and women. As for her and The Joker’s relationship? It was toxic, and Jared Leto adapted the character of the Joker in his own sinister way. The green hair and tattoos suited him very well. I think that Cara Delevigne’s witch character might have been a representation of multiple personality disorder (her good side and her enchantress side) but I’m not too sure about that.

Overall, a decent film with a good soundtrack, cast, special effects and visuals. I can understand why Margot Robbie was chosen for the part of Harley. Although she’s not my favourite actress, her character reminds me of one of those confident, attractive characters who seems to attract the men with her sex appeal and badassery.  I previously saw Margot Robbie in Wolf of Wall Street, and I didn’t really like it that much.

If you haven’t seen the movie already, go and see what all the hype is about. It also features a Batman cameo.

4/5

John Hurt

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I woke up to the news that John Hurt had sadly died at the age of 77. He was the sort of actor who was so diverse in his acting range that you probably wouldn’t guess that he played so many different kind of roles in his life time. He portrayed John Merrick in The Elephant Man, he was in Doctor Who, he was Mr. Ollivander in Harry Potter, he was in Alien as the guy who had the alien bursting out of his stomach, V For Vendetta, 1984 and Perfume amongst many other roles. I also distinctly remember him being on the TV show Who do you think you are? He came across as being a distinguished looking old man who has played more characters than you have ever cared to imagine.

I do not know which film of his is my favourite, but it is most likely to be The Elephant Man because of the screen prescence and emotion that he put into his role. He was one of those actors who delivered raw intensity to every role of his, which probably explained why his career was so long, and he never really played the same person again and again. He was actually an incredibly good actor and he was one of my favourite actors as well. I would have loved to have met him just to say thank you. Luckily he got and actually deserved a knighthood. He was one of those actors who was in every film that you could imagine but he was never once an annoying character in any way. I am yet to see one of his most recent films, a Natalie Portman film called Jackie but I’m sure that it would be a sweet tribute to watch it. It was also quite ironic that he played Winston Smith in 1984, and switched round so that he led a very Orwellian society in V For Vendetta. Pancreatic cancer has also killed Patrick Swayze, Steve Jobs and Rex Harrison.

Rest in Peace, John Hurt.

1940-2017

 

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (TV movie)

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‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt,’ 

We’re going on a Bear hunt is a short film based off the popular children’s book of the same name by Micheal Rosen. The short film stars Olivia Coleman and Pam Ferris amongst others.

My mum used to read myself and my four other siblings the original book when we were all little, so it was a pleasant surprise to have such a classic book adapted into a short but sweet film. I would probably not be taken seriously for reviewing an animated children’s film of this level, but it is for all ages. You could watch it with your children or reminisce on having it read to you when you were younger. Although Christmas Day was a day ago, we are simply spoilt for choice with Christmas television and movies.

The animation was simply beautiful and detailed and the baby and the dog were adorable. If you want a relaxing movie to unwind with, I would suggest that you should watch this one.

4.5/5

 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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‘I will bring you that fallen star’ 

Stardust is a book written by Neil Gaiman and it is about a man called Tristran Thorn who vows to retrieve a fallen star for his beloved, a woman called Victoria Forester.

I was familiar with some of Neil Gaiman’s work previously, but I had not read any of it. Considering my fascination with fantasy and magical realism novels, I will continue to explore his work in the near future. I am aware that there is a film adaptation of Stardust but I have not seen it, although I might watch it at some point and see if it lives up to my expectations that I concluded from the novel. As I read the book, I realize how the Take That song made for the film suits the moral of the story. I was recommended this book by my older sister, and as I was reluctant to explore more in the fantasy genre, I had a go at reading it.

This book is short and sweet and I finished it in about two days. Although the concept of having someone retrieve a fallen star for the person that they love is considered to be a cliched idea, Neil Gaiman does it in such a way that makes you fall in love with his vivid descriptions and characters that is all too common in the fantasy genre. His characters, however, are distinguishable. I do love a good fairytale. I also have a small interest in stars and it is simply fascinating looking at them on a cold winter’s night. Stardust is also quite an easy book to follow and everything starts to come together the more that you read it. I tended to avoid the reviews of the book to keep my first impression of the novel fresh and undiluted from someone else’s negativity.

This book strives on conflict. On one side, there is Tristran wanting to catch a falling star as a favour for the woman that he loves, and on the other side, there is the evil witch who wishes to destroy the star. What was particularly effective was the fact that the star was personinified as an actual woman, a lady called Yvaine. Gaiman takes what would usually be cliches if applied to any other story and puts his own individual twist on it, making you dwell in a fantastic fantasy world that you refuse to leave. His narrative does not go down a straight road full of predictabilities. The book is full of surprises. Tristran does not even marry the woman who he retrieved the star for. This suggests that even if you go the distance for people, they would not care in return, as it shows in the book when Victoria Forester marries someone else.

I would definetly read this book more than once. The characters are not just cardboard characters, I personally think that they are metaphors. Tristran’s journey represents maturity into adulthood, and the personification of the star represents goodness and hope while the witch represents evil. Witches are common creatures in folklore, giving more of a reason to make her villainous. She also has a motive to be evil, to destroy people’s happiness, so she isn’t just a cartoon villian. Gaiman’s vivid descriptions of the woods and trees and the sky and the the stars can easily make you fall in love with the book so that you are seduced by his effective narrative.

Overall, a fantastic book that I shall reread at some point, full of surprises and wonderful characters. As it is set in the Victorian Era, the author gives a bit of context at the beginning of the book and dwells off into his own fantasy world that readers can easily get lost in. The book also makes me really want either a goat drawn carriage or a unicorn. The fact that the author uses goats and unicorns etc instead of horses gives its own individuality, only a subject to the writer’s eccentricities. Apparently Stardust is a sequel to a book that Neil Gaiman never published but Stardust is fine on its own.

4.5/5

 

 

 

The Big Bang Theory (TV Show)

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I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested!’ 

The Big Bang Theory is an American TV show about a group of scientists/physicists called Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny  Galecki), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Neyyar) and an engineer called Howard Wollowitz (Simon Helberg) and the women in their lives, to include Amy Ferrari Fowler (Mayim Bialick), Bernadette (Melissa Raunch) and the blonde and slightly bimboish Penny (Kaley Cuoco).

I watched the series because some of my friends are obsessed with the show, and when I was less familiar with the programme, we watched the scene about Sheldon’s explanation of the Doppler effect in GCSE physics. I also knew that Sheldon’s favourite number is 73 long before I began to watch the show.

Generally, some of the episodes make me laugh, while some of the plot lines are quite repetitive throughout some of the seasons and therefore aren’t that funny. I don’t really like the character of Penny, particularly in the earlier seasons. I felt that if you threw something at her character then her character would either fall down or not budge or react, but I suppose that she grows on you as the seasons progress and she’s only there for the same appeal that the character of Charlotte brought to The Inbetweeners. The show also plays on a lot of common stereotypes. I particularly like the characters of Amy and Sheldon. Sheldon is a man child and Parsons brings so much geeky, bittersweet and childlike charm to his character. As for Amy, her comic timing and stage prescence is fantastic and I identify more with her character rather than any other female in the show.

Likewise, the show is heavily quotable, one of my favourites being the common Sheldon quote ‘That’s my spot’. Despite all the cliches, I think that it is quite a good show and I watched it because it was convientantly on Netflix. I like the social aspect of most American TV shows. You walk into each other’s apartments (using the secret knock first), have takeaway every night and occasionally go down to the lab.

An interesting, heavily quotable and slightly addictive programme with a catchy theme song that does not insult the geek culture,but rather makes all the everyday people look stupid. In some ways, it also explores the opposition of views of the beginning of humanity I.e the religious version from Sheldon’s mother and the slightly more realistic and scientific view from people such as Sheldon.

4/5

 

Seasons

This isn’t a conventional Halloween post. By seasons, I mean spring, summer, autumn, winter, not the seasons of your favourite TV show. In the last days of autumn for the year, I often wonder what makes autumn such a wonderful time of year. Is it the heavily romanticised falling leaves? Is it the shades of yellow and orange that somehow complement each other? The pumpkins? Who knows. It’s different for everybody.

Autumn, as I see it, is the awkward but beautiful in between season. When summer is over and winter isn’t quite there yet, it’s good to have a season that glorifies the colour orange (one of my least favourite colours, but only if it’s on clothing). I don’t think there’s anything better than having the fire on when it’s dark outside and watching the TV, or the sight of fallen orange leaves.

I’ve never really been a fan of Halloween. By that, I mean that I don’t really go to Halloween parties, but there’s something so lovely about carved pumpkins and the cold on the same day. Halloween decorations are in the shops by August, and Christmas things arrive in the shops not long afterwards. Bonfire Night is also quite good because I like fireworks, and it reminds me of V For Vendetta.

Happy Halloween.