Films

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

Thoughts on… Foreign Language Films

I’ve realised that this year I’ve watched way more films that aren’t in English, than I have in previous years. In fact, in the Spring I watched more films in a foreign language than I had in the last couple of years combined.

I’m not sure why I don’t watch more films that are in another language because there’s so many films out there that could be great and to not watch them just because I’ve got to read subtitles is just silly.

I’ve noticed that when I watch films with subtitles, I pay more attention to the film and can therefore get absorbed into the story and characters more. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve found some random film in English on Netflix that I’m not super excited about and it’s just something to watch, I often find myself scrolling through Twitter etc as I can still hear and understand what’s happening even if the film doesn’t have my full attention. When I’m watching a film that’s not in English and has subtitles, I don’t touch my phone for the full runtime of the film and I get so much more out of it because of that.

One of my favourite foreign language films is Banlieue 13. It’s a French action film full of brilliant stunts and it’s a lot of fun. The first time I saw it, I watched it dubbed as it was playing on a coach on a school trip to France. I loved it as soon as I saw it and bought my own copy, including the sequel, as soon as I could. Ever since then I watch it with the subtitles.

I prefer to watch films not in English with the subtitles, as then you get to hear the voice performance of the actors as the filmmakers intended. I get pulled into foreign language films and barely notice the subtitles once I’m 10 minutes into the film.

Some of my favourite films not in English that I’ve watched this year is the South Korean Train to Busan and the Danish The Guilty. Both are fantastic and super tense and, or course, they are both set to get American remakes. It’s a shame that so many people don’t step out of their comfort zone and won’t watch something that’s not in their native language. There’s so much out there and I know there’s more I want to catch up on so give me all your foreign language film recommendations!

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Thoughts on… Film Award Season

It’s mid-December and that means only one thing – film award season is heating up.

Award season is interesting to say the least and it can be annoying, overwhelming and relentless. I do have a vague interest in award season and what films get nominated for Golden Globes, SAG awards, Oscars and everything else. Part of it is because I’m a part of #FilmTwitter as there’s no escape from it all. It can be annoying and all the arguments when different films are slated or snubbed or praised can make me dislike a film. Which of course is not a good thing because the film should be judged on your viewing experience of it, not what awards it has or hasn’t been nominated for or what other people think about it.

One year when I was at university, I think it was the 2013 to 2014 awards season, I decided to try and watch all the films that would be nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress at the Oscars. Living in the UK that meant that I would get the “Oscar bait” aka all the films that was likely to be nominated for the big awards a month or two after America. It was an interesting experience but not one that I want to repeat any time soon.

I watched films that I wouldn’t normally watch. For instance, Nebraska which I can’t remember anything about and August: Osage County and the only thing I remember about that film is disliking every single one of the characters. Attempting to see all the films that will get Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress nominations was something I did to be able to say, “I’ve seen that film!” and when the nominations actually came out, I could have an opinion on all the nominees in a category. Now though, I can’t be bothered to be honest. I would rather watch films that I think I’m going to enjoy or are something I want to see no matter what nominations it does or doesn’t get and while there can be some very enjoyable and interesting “Oscar bait” films I don’t want to force myself to watch them if I don’t want to.

I think this time of year with all the awards it is sometimes just a bit much. Everyone has an opinion and there’s so many films out there, so naturally some of the films and the performances that are being talked about I haven’t seen but now I don’t feel that I must catch up. That’s because the films or performances are ones I don’t want to watch or are in horror films or are other genres that I’m not interested in and am 99% sure I won’t enjoy.

I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised that Widows isn’t getting more nominations, as I thought the performances and script were top notch, but I’ve learnt not to get too caught up in awards season. Though, I do readily admit that I love that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is one of three films (the other two being Ben-Hur and Titanic) to have one 11 Oscars and, I believe, is the only film to have one an award in every category it was nominated in. But besides that little titbit, I’m not going to let awards season, and the 2019 Oscars, get me down.

Do you try to have an opinion on every film that gets nominated for the big awards? Or does Oscar-season just pass you by?

REVIEW: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

After their universes collide, Miles Morales meets Peter Parker and a whole lot of other spider-people. As Miles starts to get to grips with his spider-powers, they all must work together in order to get home to their own universes.

When the first trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out, I found it a bit disconcerting as the animation seemed to be so different to the animation style I’m used to seeing in Disney and Pixar films. I stand corrected though as the animation style is stunning and it works perfectly for the story. The animation is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. All the colours are so vibrant, they pop from the screen and make the films New York setting come alive in a totally different way. The blend of animation styles is wonderful, especially how each character from a different universe looked so unique. The whole film feels like a visual comic book with the way there’s words on the screen to emphasise a sound, and there’s moments where the screen is split up into comic panels.

But don’t think Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is style over substance, its story and characters are just as brilliant as its animation. Miles is a great character. He’s a realistic teenager with parents he sometimes finds annoying, struggling to fit in at a new school, and then he has superpowers to deal with. For a film with so many characters, and a lot of things happening, it never loses the focus on Miles. Miles is the heart and soul of this film, he’s the audience’s stand-in but he’s still a fully fleshed-out character.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is funny, touching, and exciting. It is action-packed and fast-paced, there’s always something happening whether it’s family drama or a big fight sequence, but it also has so much heart.

I loved Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s one of my favourite films of the year, and I can’t wait to see it again. It’s a stunning film that made me tear up multiple times and for different reasons. There’s a lot of references to different Spider-Man films which is a lot of fun. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a film that knows how to poke fun at its comic book roots while still making a believable world full of heroes and villains. Oh, and make sure you stay till the very end of the credits! 5/5.

REVIEW: Christmas with the Coopers (2015)

The intertwined stories of four generations of the Cooper family as they come together for their annual gathering on Christmas Eve.

Christmas with the Coopers is one of those perfectly fine Christmas films. As with many films set around the holidays where a large, extended family get together, there’s arguments, secrets and misunderstandings.

There’s a lot of plot threads about the different characters, potentially a few too many but on the whole, it works and that’s due to the cast all giving good performances. My favourite plot was Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) finding a fake boyfriend at the airport so she doesn’t have to go home single. Her relationship with Joe is lovely as she slowly starts to open up to him, and they end up being a couple you root for. The friendship between Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) and Bucky (Alan Arkin) is sweet and does a good job at not veering into being uncomfortable.

I have to mention the ages of the various actors and how as a fictional family, they make no sense. I’m not usually that fussed about actors ages, but in Christmas with the Coopers I did find it difficult to realise who was related to who and how because some people looked too similar our different in age. For instance, Diane Keaton and Marisa Tomei are supposed to be sisters with not much more than a five-year age difference. When Tomei’s character was mentioning a sister, I could not figure out which character out of the rest of the cast she could mean until the very end of the film.

Christmas with the Coopers is sweet, funny and it’s an easy watch kind of Christmas film that’s all about the highs and lows of a big family. 3/5.

TRAILER REACTION: Avengers: Endgame

There’s me thinking, “Oh dear I haven’t got a post for blogmas planned for today, will have to write something when I get home from work.” And what do you know, the first trailer for the next Avengers film was released earlier today and I have a lot to say about it.

First of all, beware spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp and my thoughts and predictions on what might happen in Endgame – which probably won’t be in any real order and I’ll have probably forgotten some stuff. I loved this trailer, and to be honest I think it’s going to be the only trailer for the film I watch. I want to know as little as possible before seeing this film.

I loved the way it started with Tony seemingly alone in space (I say seemingly as he’s going to be with Nebula and my hopes that they will bond in space and become besties haven’t been dashed yet) leaving a farewell message for Pepper. His message makes me so sad, he’s one of my favourite characters and he’s been through so much. He had nightmares and suffers from PTSD from his first trip into space, and now he’s stuck floating through space, running out of oxygen. There’s a sort of symmetry with the trailer starting with Tony as he is the character that started the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I predict either Carol, aka Captain Marvel, will find and save Tony and Nebula as she’s on her way to Earth to answer Fury’s message, or Pepper is going to come to Tony’s rescue. I think it could be Pepper mainly because of Tony’s use of the word “Rescue” as that’s the name of the armour Pepper has worn in the comics.

I love that Clint is shown in the trailer, especially as I spent so long trying to spot him in the Infinity Ware trailer and he was never there! It looks like he’s taken up the role of Ronin which means that his family has almost certainly turned to dust. I predict a very different Clint Barton to what we’ve seen before, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he fits in with the rest of the Avengers that are left.

When Bruce looked at the wall of missing heroes, aka people who may have turned to dust, Shuri was on there! That was a surprise and then leaves me wondering if she has turned to dust, or is generally MIA, who’s now leading Wakanda. Okoye and M’Baku both survived Infinity War so maybe between them they’re trying to keep the country together?

Also, because none of the heroes on Earth know what happen to Tony, does that mean his face is going to be on that wall of missing people? Because if it is I’ll probably cry. But then it makes me think about how all those who are still alive, Thor, Steve, Natasha, Bruce and Rhodey, will react when Tony does get back to Earth presumably with Nebula and Carol in tow.

Then there’s the ending with Scott! I have so many questions right now about him. How the hell did he get out of the quantum realm if everyone who knew where he was turned to dust? Does he know what’s happened to the rest of the world? Because he’s quite cheerful if he does! What about his daughter?

I really liked the vibe this trailer gave off. Here’s a bunch of heroes, the original Avengers, all at their lowest point, but they’re still going to try and find a way to fight. I love that it doesn’t show that much, mainly just shots of the characters, and that there’s no real scenes of action. I don’t need that. I know I’m going to see Endgame as soon as it’s out and I know there’s a good chance I’m going to love it. These characters have been a part of my life for 10 years now. I’ve written two dissertations on Marvel Studios. My love for these characters and this whole universe is a big part of me. And while I know there’s a good chance that some of these characters will die – the most likely of them being Steve and/or Tony – I don’t want them to. Even if at the same time I think that narratively speaking it might be kind of poetic if they do die, especially Tony because as I said, he started it all.

There’re rumours that there’s going to be a trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home released soon, but I’m not going to watch it and do my best to avoid everything to do with it. Like, I know that everyone who turned to dust is going to come back somehow, so it’s the how that’s interesting to me, but I still don’t want to see a trailer of Peter Parker swinging around all OK.

If you’ve watched the trailer for Avengers: End Game, do let me know what you think. I definitely feel the MCU won’t be the same after this film. After this, it’ll be the start of a new roster of “Avengers” and the older ones take a step back, in whatever shape or form that may be.

REVIEW: Disobedience (2017)

When Ronit (Rachel Weisz) learns her father, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, has died she returns home to a hostile environment from the tightknit community. While she’s home her feelings for her childhood best friend Esti (Rachel McAdams) are rekindled, but Esti is now married to Ronit’s cousin Dovid (Alessandro Nivola).

Disobedience is a love story about two women and how their community and and sense of duty has kept them a part for years. From the moment Ronit arrives back in her old neighbourhood, it’s clear that she is seen as an outsider. With her tendency to speak her mind and refusal to conform to the typical path for an Orthodox Jewish woman, she doesn’t fit in with her family or their friends and neighbours.

Esti has followed that more traditional path and while she might be content in her marriage and wifely duties, it doesn’t give her the same feelings she had when she was younger and with Ronit. Weisz and McAdams’s scenes are electric. Ronit and Esti’s silent, lingering glances are just as affecting as when they do kiss or have sex. They are two characters that are lost in different ways; Ronit has been cut adrift from her community for so long, while Esti has almost been smothered by it.

Dovid could quite easily have been the big bad guy, standing in the way of Esti and Ronit’s feelings for one another. He’s Esti’s husband and they do have a seemingly good relationship, but it’s clear that it’s nothing like what her relationship with Ronit could be. Thanks to a thoughtful script and Nivola’s performance, Dovid is a layered character that is kind and caring, and he himself struggles with the outside pressures that are put on him and his relationship by the community he is a part of.

Disobedience is a beautiful film that allows the characters room to breathe, making their relationships and conflicts so much more richer than one might expect going into this film. It’s a film that’s about love and choices and being brave enough to do what’s right for yourself. Disobedience is a film that lingers in your mind long after you’ve seen it. 4/5.

Thoughts on… Film Festivals

This year I attended the Cambridge Film Festival for the first time. This was mainly because I now live in Cambridge but to be honest previously I didn’t know it existed. I was lucky enough to receive press accreditation, so I got to see a lot of films both as screeners and in the cinema for free as I was reviewing them for JUMPCUT Online. I also went to the London film Festival a couple of times this year. I try to see a couple of films at least at the London Film Festival each year, it’s not that hard for me to get into London and spend a Saturday or Sunday seeing films.

I was pretty exhausted after a week of festival viewing and it took me a while to write up all my reviews. (This is in part because my laptop decided to die – the charger port stopped working so I sent it away to be fixed and it was almost three weeks before I got it back. But that’s another story)

I’ve been thinking about what I want to get out of film festivals. Obviously, it’s a chance to see a film before the general public. Film festivals are especially helpful for that in the UK as, in comparison to America, we sometimes get smaller indie films or films that are likely to get awards buzz anywhere from one month to about three months or even longer after our American friends. For me, the films I make an effort to see at festivals are ones that are unlikely to get a cinema release, or if they do it would be a very small one and hard to find it in the cinema or even online on streaming or rental sites.

For instance, at the London film Festival this year there were films like Widows and Colette and they were all going to get UK releases – Widows was released last month, and Colette is set to be released in January. Take Widows for instance, from its UK premiere at the London Film Festival to when it was released in the UK, it was three weeks which is nothing really and so I would rather see the films that might be a foreign or indie film (or both) which I am unlikely to see in my big local cinema chain.

There’s also the community or networking side of film festivals which I do enjoy. A twitter pal arranged a #FilmTwitter meet up at the London Film festival and is was great to meet new people and to talk to people I’d met online in person. I really enjoyed the couple of hours I spent with all of them before we all went to another film screening or off home. It was a nice bonus for me as generally speaking my film festival experiences on the whole are quite solitary. This is due to what I’m interested in seeing, the cost and just the timings and people’s availability.

Due to the fact I was press at Cambridge Film Festival, and I lived so close to the cinemas so could go after work or walk from my flat, I packed in a lot of films in just over a week. I would see three films in a day, and in amongst the film watching I tried to review as many of them as possible. I was exhausted when I was finally finished and to be honest, I don’t think I paid as much attention to some of the films because my brain was getting over-saturated.

From that experience I definitely learnt that less is more with me and film festivals – I say that as if I won’t apply for press accreditation again next year! It’s cool to see films early before “everyone else” but I would rather spend the money on seeing more obscure films that don’t yet have a UK release date than ones that I know will get a decent to large scale release in a matter of weeks or months.

Have you ever been to a film festival? What was your experience and what do you like to get out of them?