Kristen Stewart

My Film Year in Review and my Film-related Goals of 2021

What with 2020 being what it was, my film-watching didn’t really take a hit. I watched 265 different films and of those films, 93 of them were rewatches. I think with everything going on I definitely enjoyed revisiting old favourites, where I knew the story so didn’t necessarily have to think too much. I did manage to see 16 films in the cinema in 2020, pre-pandemic and in between the various lockdowns the UK has had. I shared my Ten Favourite Films last month, in some ways it was hard to pick favourites as I felt I hadn’t seen many new UK releases what with everything else going on, but I really would recommend all the films I mentioned in that post.

I completed the 52 Films by Women challenge for both directors and screenwriters again, which was the fifth year in a row. I watched 57 films directed by women and 70 that were written by women.

I did make some headway with my unwatched DVDs and Blu-Rays! That’s thanks to the A-Z in April Challenge where I posted a film review for every letter of the alphabet. Now I have 63 unwatched physical films so that’s good. I did watch some of my Clint Eastwood and Alfred Hitchcock boxsets but I still have over 10 films in each boxset.

I didn’t spend much time watching TV series in 2020 (what a surprise!) but I did finally finish watching Shadowhunters and I was really happy with how they managed to wrap everything up. I also watched series two of The Alienist and His Dark Materials, Good Omens and Down to Earth with Zac Efron, which I all really enjoyed in different ways. My newest TV obsession is Cobra Kai, I watched the first two seasons in one weekend in September and fell in love with it, then I watched season three in two days at the beginning of the month and even got my mum into it. I love that show a whole lot.

Now it’s time for the fun actor and director stats I get from having a Letterboxd pro account.

My most watched actors of 2020 were:

I watched the Underworld series, the Karate Kid series and the Descendants trilogy for the first time, and I rewatched the entire MCU in April/May (and wrote about how that helped me grieve for my dad). I also rewatched The Chronicles of Narnia, the original Ocean’s trilogy, the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (that was back in January and wow does that seem like a long time ago!), the Bourne series, the Jurassic Park/World films and The Lord of the Rings – so that explains most of the actors who make an appearance. I also made an effort to watch more of Anton Yelchin, Chadwick Boseman, Kristen Stewart and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s filmographies.

My most watched directors definitely reflect the fact I watched a lot of different series. Kenny Ortega (Descendants), Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s), the Russo brothers and James Gunn (MCU), Paul Greengrass (Bourne), Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean), Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic Park/World), John Avildsen (Karate Kid) and Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings). It’s disappointing but not surprising that it’s just male directors as I didn’t watch many films made by the same woman.

So what are my film-related goals of 2021? I’ll continue to be a mood watcher, there’s loads of films of different genres in my Netflix and Amazon Prime queue to keep me busy as well as the physical films I have. I want to watch 52 Films by Women, both directors and screenwriters, again. I was considering to try and watch one Alfred Hitchcock film, one Clint Eastwood film, and one Studio Ghibli film (they’re all on Netflix and I’ve only ever seen Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle) a week but we’re a week into 2021 and I haven’t watched any of them yet. But I do like that idea and hopefully going forward I’ll watch at least one of those types of films each week.

With regards to TV, I suppose what I’d really like to do in 2021 is finish all the Marvel Netflix series. I’ve watched up to and including season one of The Punisher so that means I have six series left to watch. Speaking of Marvel, I’m really looking forward to all the MCU shows coming to Disney+ this year, with WandVision starting next week. I do think I’m generally better at watching shows when they’re released weekly so I should be able to keep up with them. Otherwise, there are a load of series I’d like to try like The Madalorian, Dickinson and Ted Lasso but I won’t hold out too much hope with that one – I know what I’m like with TV.

Do you have any film or TV-related goals for 2021? If you have a Letterboxd account do let me know so I can follow you.

REVIEW: Personal Shopper (2016)

Maureen (Kristen Stewart), a personal shopper in Paris, refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who died there. Her life becomes more complicated when she starts receiving text messages from an unknown number.

Personal Shopper is one of those films I’d recommend going into knowing as little as possible – and avoiding the trailer at all costs. All I knew about it was “Kristen Stewart played a personal shopper and things aren’t what they seem” and I had no idea the level of unnerving suspense that would be throughout this film.

Maureen, like her twin brother, is a medium and while she doesn’t necessary believe in the afterlife and the souls of the dead, she does believe she can feel presences. What worked really well was how her beliefs aren’t mocked by those around her. Some characters also believe and treat the idea of spirits as perfectly normal, and even those who are a bit dubious don’t laugh in her face or belittle her for trying to get a sign from her brother.

Personal Shopper is all about grief and trying to find connections. Kristen Stewart is fantastic here, playing Maureen’s search for any sort of contact with her brother with desperation, and when she starts receiving text messages that seem to know far too much about her, she’s close to tears but also has a steely determination to see things through. Maureen responds to the texts and things spiral as she tries to figure out what’s happening – could it be her brother on the other end of the phone? Stewart is in every scene of Personal Shopper and is just magnetic to watch, you can’t take your eyes off her as the camera lingers on her as she tries to process things, often while trying to stifle tears.

Personal Shopper is an unsettling blend of drama, horror and thriller. There are so many moments that can be left over to the viewers interpretation, making Personal Shopper an interesting film to discuss with others. There’s an eeriness throughout the film, and a tension that I wasn’t expecting. The sound, and sometimes absence of sound, in Personal Shopper gets under your skin, leaving you on edge and waiting for the other shoe to drop almost constantly.

Personal Shopper really was an unexpected delight. I was captivated by its eeriness and by Stewart’s performance, how she can portray so much with so few words is wonderful. Personal Shopper really is a film that’s open to interpretation, what certain scenes mean, whether there are spirits, and if Maureen does the right thing. It’s an often creepy but always stunning film. 5/5.

REVIEW: Charlie’s Angels (2019)

When systems engineer Elena (Naomi Scott) blows the whistle on her employer misusing a dangerous technology, Charlie’s Angels Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Jane (Ella Balinska) are called into action to save Elena and to stop the technology from getting into the wrong hands.

It seems that Charlie’s Angels has been predominately slated before it was even released here in the UK and, after seeing it, it definitely doesn’t deserve all the hate. That being said, while Charlie’s Angels is more entertaining than you might’ve heard, it’s not without its problems.

For almost every fast-paced and exciting action sequence, there’s one that is just a little dull. The same can be said for the comedy, some one-liners really work, while others really don’t. But, it’s the cast, who all look like they’re having a lot of fun, that make this film.

Kristen Stewart gets the chance to show off her comedic chops and steals just about every scene she’s in as the sarcastic and motormouth Sabina. Naomi Scott does well as the fish out of water Elena while still almost seamlessly finding a place amongst the super spies, while Ella Balinska gives a star-making turn as the serious Jane. All three of them have their “hero moments” and they are all really satisfying.

The supporting cast are all good too. The title of Bosley is now what all the Angels’ handlers are known as and Djimon Hounsou, Patrick Stewart and Elizabeth Banks all put their own spin on what a mentor-type character should be like. Sam Claflin plays Elena’s power-hungry boss and while he’s no in the film a lot, his scenes when he’s scared for his life are hilarious thanks to the expressions on his face.

The third and final act of Charlie’s Angels is when the film really comes into its own. Once the trio of heroines are more of a cohesive unit and all the motives and bad guys have been revealed, that’s when everything comes together. This is when you truly see what a Charlie’s Angels film with these three characters could be like and it’s so fun and entertaining that you wish the film had found its groove sooner. Seeing Elena, Sabina and Jane be proper action/spy heroines makes me hope that this film somehow gets a sequel because now this trio is a solid team, I want to see them save the world again.

Charlie’s Angels is fun. The humour doesn’t always land but the charm of the three leads pulls it through. The final thing I have to quickly mention is the costuming in Charlie’s Angels as it is brilliant. It’s so nice to see female characters in outfits that are practical but look good and show off each character’s personality. 3/5.

REVIEW: Lizzie (2018)

A psychological thriller about the murders on the Borden family in 1892.

I had never heard of Lizzie Borden or the murder of her stepmother and father until earlier this year. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was something I was just oblivious to, or if it’s a story that never really became well known here in the UK.

Chloë Sevigny is captivating as Lizzie Borden. There’s a simmering rage beneath almost everything she does that you cannot look away from. This rage is because of her father (played by an icy Jamey Sheridan) who controls everything she does and belittles her interests.

Lizzie forms a friendship with the family’s new Irish maid Bridget (Kristen Stewart), with her Lizzie finds comfort in an otherwise cold home. The romance and tension between Lizzie and Bridget is electric to begin with but it’s unfortunately lost as the film progresses. More could’ve been made of their relationship but both Sevigny and Stewart give powerful performances.

Costuming and set design are both beautiful and haunting in equal measure, making this relatively small budgeted film look lavish. Lizzie is a film which seems to fall into a lot of the negative stereotypes of period-dramas, there’s lots of scenes of characters walking slowly down hallways or staring at each other across tables. In some scenes this builds the tension, but in others it seems to be dragging everything out when you’re waiting for the violent act to finally arrive.

Lizzie is an interesting film with a lot to say though it never finds the balance of what it wants to be. It’s a family drama, a crime thriller, and a lesbian romance, but it never gives any of these elements the time to be fully fleshed-out. The performances of its leads are better than the script their given, making Lizzie a straightforward and unremarkable retelling of this classic case. 3/5.

REVIEW: Speak (2004)

speak movie posterAfter a trauma over the summer that she’s trying to forget, Melinda Sordino (Kristen Stewart) becomes a selective mute. As she struggles with high school, broken friendships and her family, slowly she revisits what happens to her and tries to speak out.

Melinda is a teenager who has gone through a traumatic experience and really doesn’t know how to communicate what is going on in her head. While everyone else leaves her to get lost in her own head, her art teacher Mr Freeman (Steve Zahn) encourages her to express herself through her art. They have a sort of respect for each other and the art room becomes a place of sanctuary for her.

Speak is a great film because all the relationships are believable. Melinda’s parents Joyce (Elizabeth Perkins) and Jack (D.E. Sweeney) both don’t know what’s made Melinda so quiet but they don’t know how to push her to open up and at the same time they are both busy with their own lives that they don’t pay as much attention to her as they probably should. It’s not malicious, it’s just life. The way that teenage friendships can just fall apart is also handled-well. Suddenly people can go from one friendship group to a clique within a blink of an eye, that’s what happened to Melinda and she’s now on the outside looking in.

Speak is a phenomenal film. It’s the kind of film that showcases acting, direction and scriptwriting and shows that you don’t need a huge budget, just some talented people to make a film that can pack an emotional punch. Kristen Stewart is amazing as Melinda, there’s a scene where she locks herself in her closet and screams which makes your hair stand on end.

Speak is a powerful and inspiring drama and is the kind of film everyone should watch. 5/5.