Films

Ramblings about Films – whether it’s new, reviews or something else.

REVIEW: Every Day (2018)

Teenager Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) falls in love with “A” someone who wakes up in a different body each day and must live that person’s life for a day, not causing any lasting problems before they go to sleep and wake up in another person’s body.

Based on the contemporary YA novel of the same name by David Levithan, Every Day is a surprisingly sweet, thoughtful and touching film. The supernatural or fantasy nature of “A” is explained well, and through inhabiting numerous characters (and the young actors performances) you get to see what their personality is like as they slowly get Rhiannon to believe what happens them each day.

The young cast are all great, but Angourite Rice is just wonderful as Rhiannon. Rhiannon has the typical teenage boyfriend drama, but as she grows closer to “A” she becomes a more confident person that has always been open and kind. Rice’s presence lights up the screen, bringing the laughs with the comedic moments but also can put across the pain of loving someone who she doesn’t know if she’ll see them again.

The soundtrack is great and everything about this film is so soft. Both in terms of the story and the way the film is shot with soft lighting and idyllic settings, whether it’s a lake house or a beach, makes it seem like Every Day takes place at the beginning of summer and “A”’s and Rhiannon’s romance will never end.

Every Day tackles ideas of sexuality and love in a broad way but it’s a way that’s accessible to it’s target audience without being preachy. It also features discussions of mental health which is handled well, however there’s so much more this story could have done with race and class as “A” spends time in these different people’s bodies and lives.

Every Day is a sweet film that’s about loving a person for who they are, not what they appear like, and its young cast does a fine job showing the different kinds of relationships you can have while in high school. 4/5.

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REVIEW: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

When author Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) falls on hard times as her books aren’t selling, she turns to forging letters from famous dead authors, poets and playwrights in order to make a living.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a witty and entertaining heist film that has a lot more going on than one might think. While it’s certainly a small-scale heist film, behind the crime Lee is committing, is a story of loneliness. Lee is grouchy and often nasty, and she much prefers to spend time with her cat than with people. Her reclusive and curt nature doesn’t make her popular with her agent (a brilliantly scathing Jane Curtin) nor make her well-known enough to have people want to buy her books.

Melissa McCarthy gives a great performance in a more serious role. Her sensitive take on Lee’s hostilities makes her more than an unlikeable cat lady, instead being someone who has layers and is afraid of getting hurt. Richard E. Grant almost steals the show though as street smart charmer Jack Hock. He helps Lee fence her forgeries and his friendship comes along when she needs it the most. Their chemistry is wonderful as both Jack and Lee were gay, they appear to have a unique understanding of one another. In many ways they are complete opposites but for the most part they work together, their interactions are certainly very funny.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a darkly witty little crime film. The script and direction make you like an unlikable character from almost the very beginning and the performances are brilliant. 4/5.

Films of 2019

Here are all the films I’ve watched this year. My main film-related goal for this year, as it’s been for the past three years, is to watch 52 Films by Women (both directors and screenwriters). You can find out more about what I’m watching on my Twitter or Letterboxd.

Without further ado, here’s what I’m watching in 2019! Film titles in bold are films I saw at the cinema and films with an asterisk are rewatches. Any title with a hyperlink goes to its review – whether that’s here on my blog or on Jumpcut Online which I contribute to.

January:
Colette (2018)
– Anna Karenina (2012)
– Lawless (2012)
– Home (2015)
– No Good Deed (2014)
– The Gunman (2015)
– Legacy (2010)
– 100 Streets (2016)
The Favourite (2018)
Stan & Ollie (2018)
– The Duchess (2008)
– In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)
– Brooklyn (2015)
On Her Shoulders (2018)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)*
Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
– The Young Victoria (2009)
– Emma (1996)
– Jimi: All Is by My Side (2013)
– Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)
Every Day (2018)
– Assassin’s Creed (2016)

February:
Capernaum (2018)
– Sleepover (2004)
– The Gambler (2014)
– The Glass Castle (2017)
– Short Term 12 (2013)
The Last Five Years (2014)
– Rocket Science (2007)
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
– Tanner Hall (2009)
– John Wick (2014)*
– John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Life (2017)
– The Trouble with Bliss (2011)
The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)
Instant Family (2018)
On the Basis of Sex (2018)
– The Accountant (2016)
– Invictus (2009)*
Woman Walks Ahead (2017)

March:
Fighting With My Family (2019)
What They Had (2018)
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
What Men Want (2019)
Jellyfish (2018)
Captain Marvel (2019)
– Leaving Neverland (2019)
– Three Identical Strangers (2018)
– Avengers: Infinity War (2018)*
Open Grave (2013)
– Suburbicon (2017)
– Mojave (2015)

Number of different films watched: 54
Number of times been to the cinema: 18

REVIEW: Stan & Ollie (2018)

Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) attempt to reignite their film career as they embark on a gruelling theatre tour of post-war Britain.

Stan & Ollie opens with a four or five-minute-long tracking shot of Laurel and Hardy as they make their way through a film studio, passing cowboys, Roman soldiers and crew members, as they discuss their marital situations and their next move career-wise. This was a great way to introduce these two men and show off how films were made, and the stars were controlled in the Classical Hollywood era.

Soon after that though it’s 1957 and Laurel and Hardy aren’t as young or as famous as they used to be. Coogan and Reilly both do a great job in their roles. They’re clearly having a lot of fun with the slapstick sketches, which are fun to watch too, but they both are well-suited to the more dramatic and emotional moments too. There’s a lot of history between the Laurel and Hardy we follow here, but there’s a deep friendship too. Great performances and cracking chemistry make them a compelling duo.

The supporting cast are great too and the whole film is almost stolen by Nina Arianda and Shirley Henderson, playing Ida and Lucille, Laurel and Hardy’s wives respectively. The majority of the laughs come from these two. Their interactions with each other are often scathing and witty, while their interactions with their husbands are equal parts caring and amusing.

Stan & Ollie is lovely and charming. As someone who knew little to nothing about Laurel and Hardy before seeing this film, I found it accessible, engaging and fun. It’s not exactly ground-breaking in terms of what a biopic can be, but the performances make this film more than worth the price of admission. 4/5.

My Film Year in Review and my Film Related Goals of 2019

To say I had a good year when it comes to films in 2018 would be an understatement. Amazingly, I watched 365 different films in 2018! This wasn’t an intended goal but by around March/April time, when I was looking at my Letterboxd diary, I realised that I’d watched more films than days in the year so far. After that I decided to try and keep that up and try and hit 365 films. You can see a list of all the films I watched here and my Top Ten Favourite films of 2018 are here.

As for my film-related goals that I actually set, I did pretty well with those too. I wanted to complete the 52 Films by Women challenge for both directors and screenwriters and thanks to the number of films I watched, I managed to get way over 52 films for both directors and screenwriters. I watched 75 films directed by women (you can see the full list of them here) and 112 films that were written by women – my list of those films are on Letterboxd here.

I wanted to cut down on my unwatched DVD’s/Blu-Rays but that didn’t really happen, mainly because I fully embraced Netflix and Amazon Prime this year. I mentioned that I wanted to watch the rest of my Clint Eastwood boxset which didn’t happen, but I watched about 4 of those films so I’ve got over 20 films left to watch.

I have a Pro membership on Letterboxd and I love looking at the stats it gives me for the year.

My most watched actors were:

I started rewatching all the films in the MCU at the end of December 2017 so that rewatch continued into 2018. I watched The AvengersAvengers: Infinity War in 2018 so that’s why there’s 8 actors here who have been in at least one MCU film. I also rewatched the Harry Potter series so that counts for most of the rest of the actors on the list really. Though I did use Netflix and Amazon Prime to find and watch films starring Robert Downey Jr., Daniel Brühl, Jeremy Renner, Emma Thompson and Michelle Monaghan because I like all of those people and wanted to fill in the gaps of their filmographies I’d yet to see.

My most watched directors of the year also show how I rewatched the Harry Potter series and that I rewatched a lot of the MCU in 2018. While I watched over 70 films directed by women, very few of them were by the same director, or if they were, I watched two films by them so they didn’t make this list. For instance, the two films I watched that were directed by Ryan Fleck, It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Mississippi Grind, were also directed by Anna Boden but she didn’t manage to fit on the list.

Now for my film-related goals of 2019. While I’m very proud of the fact I watched 365 films last year, I don’t want to put pressure on myself to watch that many again or even more than that. I think I’m going to be more laid back with my film watching this year. I still want to see new films, but I also want to watch some of the many TV shows I missed last year and not feel bad that I’m watching a show instead of spending the same amount of time watching 5 films.

I want to complete the 52 Films by Women challenge for both directors and screenwriters again. I love how that challenge can push me out of my comfort zone and make me really think about what I’m watching. Plus now that I have, and properly use, Netflix and Amazon Prime it’s so much easier to find films that are made by women.

I didn’t buy many new DVD’s/Blu-Ray’s last year, or if I did I watched them almost straightaway, so I have almost 70 unwatched films on my shelves and in boxsets so if I could get that down by half that’d be nice. Maybe 2019 will be the year I finish my Clint Eastwood boxset?!

Do you have any film-related goals for 2019?

My Top Ten Films of 2018

A bit later than normal, because life, but here’s my favourite films of the past year. I contributed to both the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten and Jumpcut’s Top 10 Films of 2018 this year as well so check out what took the top spot on both of those lists.

This Top Ten is based on UK releases in 2018. I reviewed most of these films so will link to my review if you fancy learning more about why I thought it was so good. I’ve put these films in a rough top ten but really the film that takes the number one spot is the one that is my all-out favourite and even though I’ve watched it five times in 2018, I still adore it.

10. Dumplin’
This film was so sweet, funny and lovely. It was released in early December on Netflix and I watched it twice in about ten days. Dumplin’ made me laugh and cry and I can see it becoming a go to comfort film for me.

9. Game Night
I definitely need to rewatch Game Night to see if I laugh as much as I did when I saw it in the cinema. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I ended up having such a good time with it, and “Oh no he died!” is still my favourite line delivery in any film I saw last year.

8. The Hate U Give
I loved the book so was eagerly anticipating the film adaptation of The Hate U Give and it didn’t disappoint. Amandla Stenberg was fantastic, and I think the story was translated to the screen so well.

7. Widows
I love a heist film and Widows was brilliant. It’s a slow-build kind of film but all the characters are compelling and the performances in Widows should be getting more awards buzz than they are currently.

6. Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians was one of those surprising occasions where I liked the film way more than the book. It’s funny, big, bold and it also made me cry at the end.

5. Black Panther
Ever since I watched the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon I’ve loved T’Challa so I was super excited about his standalone film in the MCU. I loved the world of Wakanda, the characters and the story, I haven’t done an MCU ranking recently but I think Black Panther would be in my top 5.

4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Well this was a non-stop thrill ride! Ghost Protocol is still my favourite Mission: Impossible film because that’s the team I like the most, but Fallout is definitely my second favourite and I really do think that Tom Cruise is super-human.

3. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
I grew up loving ABBA thanks to my mum and I think Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is just as good as the first film. I think how they combined a prequel and a sequel was great, I laughed, I tapped my feet, and I cried at the end.

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I really want to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse again before it leaves the cinema because it deserves to be seen on the big screen. I loved the story, all the spider-people worked so well, I loved Miles, and the animation was stunning.

1. Avengers: Infinity War
I love Infinity War so so much. I think not only is it a great film, where I like all the characters and the different stores going on, but it’s an achievement really that ten years of build-up and stories works.

Those were my favourite films of 2018. What were your favourite films of last year? Do we have any in common.

REVIEW: Bumblebee (2018)

On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, and tries to keep him out of the hands of the US military.

I’ll be honest, the first Michael Bay Transformers film is one of my go to comfort films and I really enjoy it. The rest of the films in the series are varying degrees of quality to say the least and I was very apathetic about The Last Knight. But I’m happy to say Bumblebee is like a breath of fresh air compared to the latter Bay films.

Bumblebee’s plot is so much simpler compared to some of its predecessors, and that allows the story to build on the characters and their relationships naturally. There are two Decepticons (voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) searching for Bumblebee who enlist the US military to help them search for them. The main guy in the army you follow is Agent Burns (John Cena), he’s very much a shoot first, ask questions later kind of guy but weirdly, probably due to Cena’s charisma, the way he delivers jokes is more entertaining and almost more believable than the tough guy persona.

Hailee Steinfeld is wonderful as Charlie. She’s a bit of a loner and she’s even an outsider in her own family as she doesn’t feel like she fits in any more. Charlie is smart and caring and her relationship with Bumblebee is wonderful.

Bumblebee is charming and does a brilliant job of combining heart with spectacle. Like the previous Transformers films, there’s still battles between Autobots and Decepticons but this time the characters on both sides are seriously stripped back leaving those who are present more room to grow. When there are fights between robots, they’re easy to follow and entertaining.

It’s perhaps a bit on the nose with the 80’s inspired soundtrack, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. The music is like a comforting hug and that, along with a story about a kid and an otherworldly creature, makes Bumblebee feel familiar and heart-warming. There are similarities to be made between Bumblebee and E.T. and The Iron Giant, both in terms of the plot but also because at its core is a wonderful friendship between a young person and a powerful creature.

Bumblebee is such a fun and lovely film, with so much heart and humour, that it feels almost old-fashioned in the best possible way. 4/5.