Posts Tagged ‘My thoughts on’

My Thoughts On… Saving Mr Banks

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free!

Synopsis

Author P.L. Travers reflects on her childhood after reluctantly meeting with Walt Disney, who seeks to adapt her Mary Poppins books for the big screen. (via IMDb)

What I LIked

  • When I’m asked what my favourite film, I might um and ah a little bit, but I usually come down on the side of Mary Poppins. It holds a very special place in my heart, so I was so excited to see Saving Mr Banks when it was announced. I didn’t manage to get to the cinema to see it, but I finally watched it a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn’t disappointed at all. I loved it. For those of us who are fans of the 1961 film, it’s the perfect companion, watching how it all came about, hearing the fabulous songs, and getting an insight (albeit a slightly Disney-fied insight) into the life of the author who created the eponymous nanny.
  • Emma Thompson is amazing in everything she does, and she is so perfectly suited to this role. She manages to bring a huge amount of likeability to a character who is stubborn, rude and cantankerous. We need to feel sympathy for her at the same time as feeling exasperated by her, and it’s hard to imagine anyone as adept at playing this kind of role as Emma Thompson. She was robbed in last year’s Oscar nominations.
  • Similarly fabulous performances come from Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti and Colin Farrell. I particularly loved Giamatti’s performance as Travers’ chauffeur, Ralph. Their relationship really touched me; she trusted him as little as anyone else affiliated with the Disney corporation at first, but he won her over, and it was a beautiful moment when he spoke to her about his daughter’s disability. I also loved Bradley Whitford, BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman, playing the creative team working on Mary Poppins and trying their hardest not to lose their tempers with Mrs Travers.
  • Given that this is a Disney film about a Disney film, there was always the worry that Saving Mr Banks would end up mawkish and sentimental, but it avoids those traps almost entirely. It stirs the emotions, and it did make me cry, but it wasn’t soppy or over the top. It has received some criticism for seemingly showing P.L. Travers as having a change of heart about Mary Poppins in the end, and I think the scene where she ends up dancing to Let’s Go Fly a Kite is rather Disney-fied, and almost definitely never happened. But I think that it does a pretty good job at showing that she entered into the whole endeavour because she had to, and not because she wanted to. I think it’s the perfect mix of real life and dramatisation, and I just loved it.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I am the first person to appreciate a sideways glance at the audience from within a film, especially when it’s a reference to a film that I love. The flashbacks to P.L. Travers’ childhood provided lots of these, and to begin with, I was on board, but by the end of the film, I felt as though they were being shoehorned in just a little bit. By the time little Ginty’s Aunt Ellie was saying “spit spot!” I was just about done. I just wanted it all to be a bit more subtle than that.

Why Should I See This Film?

I feel as though this is one of those films that I am so late to the party with that most people will have seen it already! But if there’s a chance you haven’t, I would say that fans of Mary Poppins need to see it immediately. It evokes such a wonderful sense of time and place – 1960s Disney World – that it’s a joy to watch. And the performances, most notably of Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers herself, are just breath-taking.

My Thoughts On… About Time

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free.

Synopsis

At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think. (via IMDb).

What I Liked

  • I’m not going to pretend that I am not a Richard Curtis fan, because I am. I like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually, all to varying degrees, and I think that his style of films are entertaining to me. They are never going to win Oscars, but they are funny, they are sad, and they are enjoyable, as far as I am concerned. So I never thought I wasn’t going to enjoy About Time as much as I enjoyed its predecessors. It’s a romantic comedy, with likable characters, and it was a very pleasant way to spend 123 minutes.
  • Domhnall Gleeson is a star; I truly believe that. He is just so completely watchable, and he carries this film perfectly. Tim is awkward and geeky, but he’s lovable and he’s attractive, and you completely believe that Rachel McAdam’s Mary would fall in love with him.
  • The rest of the cast are amazing too. Tom Hollander steals every scene he is in, which is frankly the case in every film he appears in. Bill Nighy, also never not amazing, is beautifully cast as Gleeson’s dad, and he brings his effortless cool to the role. Rachel McAdams does slightly quirky girl-next-door perfectly.
  • Bellowhead pop up during the ‘Falling in Love’ montage as buskers in the underground station. Obviously, when I say Bellowhead, I mean Jon Boden and Sam Sweeney of Bellowhead, because to have the whole of the band in an underground station would be ludicrous. Anyway, obviously Bellowhead are amazing, and their version of How Long Will I Love You is lovely.
  • The film made me cry, a lot. Without giving too much away, I have a bit of a flash point when it comes to terminally ill parents (terminally ill anyone, really, but parents especially), and I watched this in a week when my emotions were running a bit high anyway. Truth be known, I probably would have cried if it had been any week in the year, but I sobbed. This might not seems like an obvious thing to put into a ‘What I Liked’ column, but I love crying at a film, especially if I’m at home.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I don’t really see the point in nitpicking over the time travel issues in a time travel film. Unless you are making a film like Primer, where you go out of your way to make the time travel actually scientifically accurate (insofar as time travel can be scientifically accurate without being scientifically possible), there are always going to be paradoxes, and an agreement between the audience and the film not to delve too deeply has to exist. About Time gets around the issues to a certain extent by saying that the men can’t travel outside of their own timeline, and so Tim can’t go back and stop JFK being shot, for example. Therefore, although I have put this point into ‘What I Didn’t Like’, the truth is, I don’t care about the intricacies of time travel in the film. I don’t care if there are inaccuracies, or paradoxes, because ultimately, it’s an entertaining and poignant story.

 

Why Should I See This Film?

If you’re a fan of Richard Curtis, there’s very little chance that you won’t enjoy this film. It’s a romantic comedy with a father-son relationship at its heart, and wonderful performances by Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy (with a scene-stealing turn by Tom Hollander). It will probably make you cry, it will almost definitely make you laugh, and it’s just nice. It’s no hardship to watch nice films from time to time.

My Thoughts On… Boyhood

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free.

Synopsis
The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18. (via IMDb)

What I Liked

  • Boyhood is famously a film that was filmed over the course of twelve years, allowing the actors to age naturally, rather than using different actors for different stages in the childrens’ lives. It’s a fascinating concept, and while it’s not actually new, I’ve never watched a film like it, and I just loved it. I loved watching Mason and Samantha grow up, from young children to young adults. And of course, it’s not just the children who grow. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, as the parents, also grow, and while the change is not so drastic as it is in the children, adults change a lot in twelve years too.
  • Having said how fascinating I found this concept, it wasn’t something that I constantly thought about throughout the film. The changes were signposted; while it was obvious that time had moved on, it didn’t intrude on the story, and constantly take you out of the narrative. The characters’ hair changed, and different music alluded to a new year, but it wasn’t clumsy in any way. It was interesting to watch the subtle changes in technology, fashion and culture, and to see things like the launch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. All these things came together to ensure that we knew that time was moving on, but it was done so well.
  • In filming the movie over the twelve years, Boyhood simply relies on life to provide a story. There are no huge developments, as such, it’s just time passing by and the natural rhythms of life that make the film what it is. While it’s called Boyhood, it’s a story about the whole family. Olivia, played by Patricia Arquette, spends the entirety of the film looking for love, and coming up against the same problem again and again. Her husband, played by Ethan Hawke, finds himself on an opposite trajectory, starting the film as a downbeat dad, but finding his feet and finding a way to have a relationship with his children.
  • I fell in love with Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr. As a little boy, he reminded me a lot of my nephew Robbie, and that just endeared me to him even more. It must have been a huge leap of faith for Richard Linklater to take a chance on a child who had never acted before, without knowing what sort of person he would turn into. It’s clear that he made a perfect choice, because Coltrane is a joy to watch from start to finish.
  • I really liked the dialogue of the film. I don’t think it was improvised, but the speech patterns felt really natural, particularly in the children, and it really appealed to me.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I loved Boyhood. I can’t think of one thing that I didn’t like about it!

Why Should I See This Film?

I can’t recommend Boyhood highly enough. It’s a joy to watch the children grow up on screen, and to watch twelve years go by in a 164 minute film without ever feeling it is too long is a trick that most directors wouldn’t be able to master. The four central performances are just fantastic, especially that of Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason Jr. He’s so likable throughout the whole film, and totally lovable as a small child. There are some funny moments and some poignant moments, and it all comes together to make one of my favourite films of recent years. I can’t wait for the DVD.

My Thoughts On… Prisoners

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free

Synopsis
When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? (via IMDb)

What I Liked

  • Prisoners has a great cast; Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano and Melissa Leo. That’s a fair amount of talent in one film, and they all put in great performances. I’m always fond of watching Jake Gyllenhaal, particularly in a role like this. He plays the police officer working on the case, and I think it’s pretty great casting. Hugh Jackman also puts in a typically strong performance. It was actually a slightly different kind of role to the the type I am used to seeing him in. More often than not, he’s the hero, but here he is a much more complex character, someone who is the victim of a crime, but finds himself perpetrating an equally horrific crime in the search for answers.
  • The film takes an interesting look at the idea of justice and revenge. It’s a film that is definitely making a point, and trying to make you think about the issues that it is raising. What happens to Keller and his family is unimaginable, but what he does in turn to Paul Dano’s character is almost unwatchable at times. Keller feels completely justified in his actions, because all he wants to know is where his little girl is, but as a viewer, it’s impossible for me to sympathise with what he does. The fact that Paul Dano’s character is clearly suffering from developmental issues makes it feel even more distasteful, and the whole thing asks some serious questions about torture and the obtaining of information under duress.
  • The atmosphere of the film is just spot on. The film is set in Pennsylvania, and the weather is bleak and oppressive, and fits perfectly with the subject matter. It’s no surprise that Roger Deakins, the cinematographer, received an Oscar nomination.
  • I absolutely loved the ending. Though I have some concerns over the length of the film and how it ties everything up, I thought the way that the film ends was just fantastic.

What I Didn’t Like

  • There are three extremely talented female actors in this film: Melissa Leo, Viola Davis and Maria Bello. They are sadly underused; they are present, but this is really a boy’s film. It seems a shame to employ such fantastic actors and then leave them languishing on the sidelines of the story.
  • This is yet another modern film that is too long. At 153 minutes, it’s over two and a half hours long. I understand from a certain point of view; to wrap it up quickly would mean losing all the tension as to whether or not the girls are alive. Given that there were two, I wasn’t sure throughout the film how it was going to end, whether one girl or both (or neither, though that seemed unlikely) would survive. But two and a half hours is a long time, and I am not fond of a long film.

Why Should I See This Film?

I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a dark and tense drama. The performances, particularly by Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano are fantastic, and the sense of foreboding that pervades the film is so brilliant that you are never sure how it is going to turn out. I also particularly liked the way that the film ends!

My Thoughts On… Monsters

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free! (This post definitely contains spoilers, so avoid if you haven’t seen the film!)

Synopsis
Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border. (via IMDb)

What I Liked

  • Monsters is another one of those films that I have been wanting to see forever. Or at least for the last four years since it came out. I listened to all the chatter about it in the months leading up to the its release, and then it came out to rave reviews. I don’t really know why it took my so long, but I finally saw it a couple of months ago when it was on the television in the wake of Godzilla’s cinema release. It was definitely worth the wait, because I loved it!
  • What I loved most about Monsters is that it’s essentially a character piece, with the odd monster popping up. The film is about Andrew and Samantha, two people who are trying to make their way from Mexico, home to the US. The initial invasion of the monsters is long since over, and the film takes place in a world that has, to a certain extent, normalised the existence of these creatures on earth. Monsters is therefore really a film about a romance, which just happens to be set against a slightly unusual backdrop.
  • The dialogue is really natural, it genuinely does feel totally real. It’s really odd that this would be the case in a film that is telling the story of a monster invasion, but it’s true. I am not always a fan of this kind of dialogue; if it feels too improvised, I think it can sound a little contrived, but I think there is a good balance being struck with Monsters.
  • Monsters was famously made on a shoestring budget; director Gareth Edwards seems to have just gone out with his camera, filmed the scenes, and then taken to his laptop to create the monsters. For all we don’t see an awful lot of them, they are there, and they are, of course, brilliantly rendered. I’d honestly rather watch a film like this than most of the huge budget blockbusters that seem to have more money than sense.
  • Although the film received pretty good reviews, all of the complaints that I have read seem to dislike how slow the film is. I’m actually a fan of a slow, quiet film, so I don’t have this complaint. I thought it was paced well, and for a film that is only 94 minutes long, I think the slowness builds to a decent climax.
  • The film is beautifully shot. It just goes to show that you don’t need a huge amount of money to make a film that looks really good.

What I Didn’t Like

  • It’s been a while since I watched the film, but as far as I can remember, there wasn’t much about the film I didn’t like. I’ll definitely be watching it again!

Why Should I See This Film?
I would definitely recommend this film, though it’s important to know what to expect. Although it’s called Monsters, this isn’t your usual monster film. It’s not all about big creatures terrifying huge cities. It’s a road-trip movie, about a pair of characters who are trying to get home, and who encounter various troubles along the way. The special effects were famously created on a shoestring, but the monsters, when they do appear, look just about as good as those created in many blockbusters. If you get a chance and you haven’t seen this already, I’d say give it a go.

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