Booksmart [Film Review]

A week ago, I went to see the film Booksmart at the cinema. I’ve been wanting to see it for a while – just because it looked fun and a lot of people were comparing it to Superbad. I also like supporting indie films every now and again, especially since they are often underrated.booksmart

At the beginning, the film seemed kind of cringey. One woman walked out within the first ten minutes (although if she’d seen the trailer she would have known that it was targeted at a younger audience) and there were parts where I felt myself thinking: wow this is like any other high school movie. However, the film definitely got better as it went along.

What I loved about the film was that it was actually from the perspective of two high school students who weren’t popular. You see these in films all the time but they are often not given the primary focus, so I thought this was a nice change. I loved the character development of the two main characters as well; they had distinct personalities and I could imagine them as real people – in fact, I see a lot of parts of people I know within them. There were some moments that were trying too hard to be funny, which ultimately let it down, but there were other moments that were genuinely laugh out loud.

I definitely think this is one of those films that you really have to go into open-minded and give it a full chance to get out of it what you want. There were actually some scenes that had beautiful cinematography. For example, when one of the girls jumped in the pool and then walked through the crowded house, with all the voices muted out and a focus on the slow steady beat of the music and the perception of the character. I really felt this one. There was also an argument that had a similar muted effect and the acting in particular here was very good. There were moments where it could have been cliche, but it opted out and I was so glad it did.

Whilst this is hardly one of the best films I’ve ever seen, there was definitely a uniqueness to it that is hard to pinpoint. I feel like the characters will stay with me long after the ending and that, in itself, is a success.

What Have I Watched on Netflix Lately?

Recently, due to being ill, I’ve had a chance to get through more TV than normal, which is always a great thing! Here are 3 TV Shows/Movies I’ve seen that I recommend watching!

After Life

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Written, produced and directed by Ricky Gervais, After Life follows a man who has fallen into depression after his wife has died from cancer. And Ricky stars in it himself too. I read a couple of reviews about how this is a difficult series to get into at first, and I understand this viewpoint due to its heavy subject matter; however, I instantly loved it. I admire the way it tackles mental health in such a real and stripped back way that doesn’t feel forced or faked into being something it’s not, and the dark comedy etching its way through the dialogue is nothing short of hilarious. There is such an important message that you can take away from After Life and that is that happiness isn’t always about ourselves; it is about making others happy and feeling worth it simply because we have made life better for someone else. And I will forever come back to this series to remind myself of this.

“Happiness is amazing…it’s so amazing that it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not.”

 

Love, Death & Robots

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Honestly, I didn’t think this series would be my kind of thing. I would have easily dismissed it if I hadn’t heard that it was ‘like an animated Black Mirror’.  So as a huge Black Mirror fan, I had to give it a chance. I can’t really explain what this series was like because it’s so unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. To start, the animation was insane. There were different plots and different animated styles per episode but a couple of them could have easily passed as real life acting – I really couldn’t tell! Whilst some episodes weren’t all that great, they were all so unique and well-written and the visuals were really beautiful. My favourite was probably Zima Blue, with Three Robots falling close behind.

 

I’m Not an Easy Man

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This is a French film that A New Chapter recommended to me a while ago, and now I’m finally here to leave a short review on it! This honestly has one of the most interesting movie plots I’ve come across. It’s about a man who believes he’s the best guy around and exists to have control over women. And then one day he walks into a lamppost and is thrown into an alternate universe where, instead of the patriarchy, women are in charge. This was such a thought-provoking film and I wish I could throw this upon every single guy out there so they could understand a women’s perspective.

Have you watched any of these TV Shows/movies? If you have, let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Get Out [Film Review]

After spending most of this weekend binge-watching Friends (which is never a bad thing), I decided to take a break to watch a film. Get Out has been on my watchlist for a while now. With 7.7/10 on IMDb, I can’t not watch it.Image result for get out

For starters, the main character Chris in Get Out is played by Daniel Kaluuya – the guy who delivers that amazing speech in the black mirror episode Fifteen Million Merits – which is enough of a reason to watch the film in itself. His acting is just as good in Get Out; he delivers a character who goes to his girlfriend’s home to meet her parents and is unexpectedly trapped in a place where people initially seem to treat him differently because of his race, but actually entrap him in a hidden, more disturbing reality.

Image result for get outAll I can say is that this film was insane. The characters were creepy. You never really knew what was going on. There was this dark and compelling vibe throughout that had me completely hooked. It was one of those films where it doesn’t make complete sense until the final moment, and then it hits you all at once.

Often, psychological thrillers can fall short of being great if the conclusion doesn’t play up to the rest of the film. I’m always wary not to get my hopes up too much in case there isn’t multiple twists and a dramatic finish – in fact, there are very few films which have this. Get out, however, managed to shock me in a kind of weird/disturbed way where I just sat staring at the screen at the end overthinking everything that happened. There were so many moments that foreshadowed the ending and yet I had so easily overlooked them. It’s crazy how the director managed to pull this off so effortlessly.

It would be an understatement to say that Get Out will play on my mind for some time. It’s one of those films that gets you thinking about a lot of societal issues, on top of psychological trauma and the way the mind can be manipulated. It definitely takes its place as one of the best films I’ve seen.

Gattaca [Film Review]

Gattaca is one of those films that is just beyond any explanation or trailer of it. Honestly, I have no idea where to start when writing a review on it because it completely blew me away. But let’s start with the premise.Image result for gattaca

Gattaca is based around the concept of genetics and how these affect us as people. Set in the future, it follows a time where science determines your future. Everything about you can be found out through testing, from what diseases you might get, to when you will get them. Job interviews don’t matter because science knows what matters. It knows who you are, what your future is like, and thus determines whether you are suited for that particular career. Of course, this causes many problems, particularly for those who are seen as inferior.

Vincent, played by Ethan Hawke, has always wanted to travel into outer space; however, he is one of the inferior “in valids”. His genes do not work in his favour and so he can’t follow his dream – as simple as that. But accepting this as fate, of course, wouldn’t make for a good movie. The film follows the journey of Vincent fighting against this by using the genes of Jerome (Jude Law) who is “valid” and can’t work due to injury. He fakes the identity in order to pursue his dream.

Dystopian books and films have always been something I’ve found intriguing; the idea that there are unlimited possibilities out there for the future and we have no way of telling what could be real. It was, therefore, inevitable that I would love Gattaca. However, the plot simply kept surprising me. The acting was brilliant; the writing was incredible (so much so that at one point I thought it was originally a book) and yes, there were plot twists, and yes, they were amazing. Apparently, there was even an alternate ending which was originally used for a tester audience before it was released. However, many thought it was too intense/emotional or just reiterated meaning that the film had already presented. Personally, I agree with the latter.

I would recommend anyone and everyone to watch this film because honestly, it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It creates a futuristic world that is so different to reality and yet is completely possible; it manages to hit you with enough force to feel connected to the characters and their motivations. For this reason, it is huge success.

True Story [Film Review]

I can’t believe how underrated this film is. It hasn’t even reached 7 on IMDb and yet I couldn’t take my attention off of it. The story, the acting, the cinematography – it was unbelievable.

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The plot follows a journalist who has his identity stolen by someone who then lands up in prison. He visits him regularly in an attempt to understand why he chose him and to, eventually, reveal the truth.

What was so interesting about this film is that you spend the whole time in suspense, waiting for the truth, when we know that the full truth is never possible – especially in such complicated situations as murder, but also in everyday life. We can’t climb into someone else’s mind and so we spend all this time, as an audience, trying to get inside the mind of the prisoner, when we can’t even get close.

What made this film different to the typical crime movie was that I couldn’t make my mind up about the prisoner. The journalist put faith in him that no one else had and it made me want to have faith too. A lot of the time we class murderers as Others that are so far away from us that we could never understand. But they’re not. We’re all people. This film showed that, yes he may have been a murderer, but there are so many different sides to a person and that, despite these actions, he still had similarities to the journalist. They still had similar ways of thinking and seeing the world. And sometimes that is much more important than focusing on punishment. For once, this film focuses on the strength of human connection, regardless of the actions of those people. Sometimes that is all someone needs to be able to think straight and live again.

I’d recommend this film to anyone because it gives a unique take on a crime movie and represents empathy on screen in a way I’ve never really seen before. Jonah Hill and James Franco surprisingly suit the more serious roles and did a fantastic job. Visually, the film is incredible.

Have you seen this film too? What are your thoughts?

Inside Out [Film Review]

I’ve been wanting to see this film for absolutely ages. I’d heard so many people talk about it and I loved the sound of its plot. However, I only managed to see it a week ago whilst I was on a flight back from holiday. Hey, everyone must have thought I was twelve, but if any animated film is for adults, it’s this one.Image result for inside out

To give a rough overview, Inside Out follows the life of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who has a very happy life until her parents move her across the country to a new town. There is an operating system inside her mind where ‘people’ represent different emotions. There’s Joy and Sadness and Disgust and Anger and Fear. They all switch to take over Riley’s emotions, and therefore actions, at different moments.

I really do admire the writing of Inside Out. It gives a depth to the film that isn’t present in most animated films, or in most films in fact. It had me thinking a lot about psychology and the brain and how emotions control us. Sometimes we don’t understand why we act the way we do and this film is an attempt to explain this; that how we deal with our emotions affects the way we face the world. Keeping them under control keeps your real personality in tact.

The emotions inside the parent’s heads was also really interesting. In the mother’s, sadness was in control. In the father’s, anger was in control. The contrast between this and the confidence of Joy in Riley shows that as we get older, we don’t just change physically or think differently, but we feel differently. And a lot of the time we feel more negatively. The journey to get Joy back into Riley’s body, as a result, reflects what we should be doing as adults too. Riley moving house is bringing adulthood sooner than expected, and that is why her emotions are becoming negative. She has to find her way back to those childlike feelings. As adults, we must do the same; we must find that happiness that we lost when we stopped being a child. The film uses Riley’s story as a metaphor for our journey for personal growth as adults.

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The smile of Sadness brings so much joy

Another message of the film that really stood out for me was the way Joy and Sadness combined themselves at the end to send off a ball of memory that was both happy and sad. To embrace the cliche, the moral of the story is that you can’t have one or the other. The characters spend majority of the film trying to get Joy back into the control centre, however ironically, the joy of Joy returning would not have been so great if it weren’t for Sadness controlling Riley in between. Sadness was actually my favourite because of this; I felt a lot for her character, but she couldn’t help being sad. We, as humans, cannot help feeling sad either. Instead, we should accept it so that one day the happiness will take it in and use it to fuel better memories. Joy and Sadness remain as friends and this is how we should tackle difficult times in our own life – for every sad memory, we have many great ones.

There are so many ways you can unpick and analyse Inside Out, so I won’t go into any more of a ramble than I already have. But I think this film is really interesting to watch, especially if you like thinking about how the mind works and how emotions affect us. If you have any thoughts about the film, please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear what you thought about this film too!

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch [‘Film’ Review]

I’m a huge fan of Black Mirror, so waking up today to see an interactive “event” (or film, you could say) on Netflix gave me so much hype! And so, naturally, I spent my afternoon watching it. And can I just say, it’s beyond any words I could say.

The rest of this post will have spoilers, so if you’ve reached this point and you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it now! If you have, feel free to join me in a world of overthinking.

What I loved so much about Bandersnatch was that it had similar vibes to past Black Mirror episodes, and yet it was taken to a whole new level. The idea of an interactive film is already exciting in itself, but of course, the writer Charlie Brooker could not fail to make this more than just a simple choice game. It becomes more of a choice game that reaches out to life as a whole; that makes the watcher question their own choices in their own life, not just in the episode.

I found that once I’d reached one of the endings, Netflix allowed me to go back and make different choices to see different endings. I liked that this was possible without watching the entire thing again. It also makes for a wider analysis of the film; if alternate realities exist, there is no one ending. We can try and reach an outcome in our life but it’s inevitably futile, since we reach all different possible conclusions in the amalgamation of our realities. There was one ending of Bandersnatch where a woman is watching Stefan on a computer. That “inception” of controlling the controller really sums up the purpose of the film: we are stuck in a maze where there is no way of knowing what is controllable or what constitutes an “ending”. Is there even a concept called an “ending”? It seems that the film’s lack of a “real” ending answers this; there is no solution. And in that, we are left questioning in attempt to gain control for the rest of time. We are simply powerless.

It is also interesting how Stefan’s vast and abstract thinking is outwardly deemed as madness by his Father, as if madness is this solution we jump to when we don’t understand. There is a certain kind of madness to Stefan’s contemplation of being controlled, however there is equally nothing to prove we have full control of our lives. Without a level of madness, nothing can be created (similar to the video game itself). Black Mirror is something that accepts and appreciates madness in a way no other TV show really does. None of us can comprehend the world, therefore aren’t we all mad?

In this respect, the writing is nothing short of phenomenal. The acting and cinematography allow the writing to shine in its best light and just about everything works for me. Black Mirror never fails to create an atmosphere unlike any other and I always find myself completely immersed in the world that it brings to TV. After watching Bandersnatch, I’m not sure I’ll be able to think straight for at least 24 hours, but only in the best way possible.

Christmas Movies you must watch every year!

I thought I would compile a list of my favourite Christmas movies and reasons why! I find this really interesting because everyone always has different answers to this. Please let me know if you have any particular recommendations for me!

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1. Elf

This is the most classic Christmas film ever. I’ve met a couple of people who don’t like this film which always shocks me, because it’s so damn hilarious?! It never fails to make me laugh and for that reason, it makes the top of my list.

2. Polar ExpressImage result for polar express

This one I love for nostalgic reasons. I used to watch it so much as a kid because I absolutely loved the music (I even owned the CD) and it’s just such a loving film about the importance of friendship. I watched it a couple of days ago and it’s crazy to think how far animated films have come since then, and it also got me totally emotional thinking about the fact that my childhood is long gone and over now. But it’s nice to have a film to bring me back to those moments and sing those songs like I’m a child again. I forgot how much I love this movie!

3. Home AloneImage result for home alone

Again, this film is a classic. I’ve watched it countless number of times and despite the spider scene still freaking me the hell out, I could never get bored of this film.

Image result for love actually4. Love Actually

I haven’t seen this film for many years but I watched it again this year and I forgot how good it is. It’s so interesting how all the story-lines interlink and there are so many this-is-so-sweet-I-want-to-cry moments. If all else fails and this doesn’t sound all that great to you, watch it for Mr Bean. It’s as good a reason as any.

What Christmas movies do you watch every year? Do you agree with my list or would you make some changes?

‘Stronger’ [Film Review]

Stronger is a film that was released last year, however I hadn’t heard of it until I stumbled across it on Netflix. Noticing that the main roles were played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany, I instantly had to watch it. Both these actors I think are very underrated. Jake’s acting in Prisoners and Nightcrawler (as well as Donnie Darko of course) is really outstanding and Tatiana plays all the clones in Orphan Black whom all have different personalities (she’s pretty much the whole cast list!) You can read my ramblings about Orphan Black here, back in 2016 when I was a baby to the blogging world.Image result for stronger film

To give a brief overview of the film, it involves an incident which causes a man to lose his legs. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story follows his journey through recovery. It is very much based on a true story and at the end of the film, you can see the real people and where they’ve ended up.

I highly recommend this film. Although sad, it really gets you thinking about what it would be like if you were in the position where you could no longer walk. I felt myself conflicted between feeling bad for the man who lost his legs, but then also for his girlfriend who gave up everything to help him. There was one particular scene in the car when they both got angry (that’s all I’ll give away) and it really proved what great actors they are – I really felt it. I really felt the story the whole way through.

Are you a fan of either of these actors? Are there any films you can recommend to me?

‘Nothing to Hide’ [Film Review]

Yesterday, when browsing Netflix, I came across ‘Nothing to Hide’, a French film which involves a group of friends meeting up for dinner and playing a game with their phones. They are to put their phones in the centre of the table and every time they receive a text or a phone call, they have to read it aloud. As you would have guessed, drama prevails.

I watched this film simply because the concept sounded cool. Not going to lie, it is annoying because it’s got English voice-over so the words aren’t in time with the movement of the lips (since they are really speaking French), but if you don’t focus on it, then it’s not so bad.Image result for nothing to hide film phones

I don’t want to give away much that happens, so I won’t mention anything specific to the characters and the plot. However, I did find the focus on phones and privacy really interesting. In the modern age, a lot of information about our lives is stored within our phones and social media (in fact, almost all of it is). So much so that handing over your phone to someone is like handing over your soul. It is interesting to think about the lengths you would go to hide the contents of your phone from someone else – whether that is for the reason of not wanting to reveal something about yourself, or simply because you don’t want someone to damage it. Even the prospect of someone damaging your phone shows much much you rely on it – you can’t imagine not living without it and therefore damaging it is like injuring your arm; for a while you are helpless, incapable even.

Whilst watching the film, I thought about whether I would partake in a game like this. Part of me would find it really interesting – to find out about other’s lives but also to bring awareness to what I actually use my phone for and who I speak to. This awareness would perhaps be interesting in distancing myself from phone addiction. But would someone knowing about my personal life and asking questions about it cause me anxiety? Of course it would.

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So whilst I recommend this film, I also ask you to think about the concept of it. Would you play this game? And if you did, would you feel comfortable?

Should we reveal everything about our lives to those closest to us, or is this a recipe for disaster?

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