Ben Is Back is a personal film for its writer and director, Peter Hedges. While not based on any one true story, it is reportedly a response to the death of his friend due to a drug overdose, the near death of his niece, as well as the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hedges’ mother, also, is a recovered alcoholic. Given the personal ties, it is only fitting that his film should star his son and man-of-the-moment, Lucas Hedges. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Ben Is Back (2018)
Having been in the pipeline for several years, Mary Queen of Scots, directed by Josie Rourke, finally makes it to the big screen. Based on John Guy’s biography, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, with a screenplay adapted by Beau Willimon, the film sees last year’s best actress contenders, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, star together at last, even if it’s just in one scene that has historical purists all riled up. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
For the third year running, the New Year brings us another terrific film centred on a teenage girl. Last year it was Saoirse Ronan in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, in 2017 it was Hailee Steinfeld in Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen. In 2019 it’s Bo Burham’s Eighth Grade. And that a man has managed to capture the awkwardness of a teenage girl so brilliantly is astounding. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Eighth Grade (2018)
Few can deny the timeless appeal of the original Mary Poppins. Led by the legendary Julie Andrews in her feature debut, the 1964 classic boasted a much-loved soundtrack by the Sherman brothers, some of the most memorable dance sequences ever seen on screen, and of course, animated dancing penguins. As portrayed in 2013’s Saving Mr Banks, Poppins’ creator, P.L. Travers, was pursued by Walt Disney for the rights to the film for over twenty years, and was not at all happy with the end product when it did eventually come to fruition. Travers rejected the concept for a film sequel in the 1980s, and acquiesced to the stage musical adaptation (which premiered in 2004, eight years after her death) on the grounds that no one from the original film – the Sherman Brothers in particular – be involved. Fast forward to 2018, a whopping fifty-four years since the original magic, and Poppins is back on screen. The sequel was approved by Travers’ estate but one can only assume she would not be thrilled; the penguins are back and they’re dancing on her grave. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Christmas approaches and with it, a slew of feel-good films. Some good, some bad, some utter catastrophes. Second Act, directed by Peter Segal, falls into the latter category as a film so farcical it’s embarrassing.
Maya (Jennifer Lopez) is incensed after she loses out on a promotion at work that goes to an educated douche. On her birthday she makes a wish that she lived in a world where “street smarts equal book smarts”. And honestly if the film had taken that explicitly magical route, it would have been better for it. Instead, her best friend’s cyber-savvy son overhears, makes her a fake CV and Facebook page, and sends in an application on her behalf to a top finance firm. She has a five minute interview and she’s hired, despite not even appearing to check beforehand what the job was for. Because it’s just that easy you guys. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Second Act (2018)
Following an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids back in 2012, Melissa McCarthy is getting Oscar buzz again for her starring role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? based on the memoir by Lee Israel.
Lee Israel (McCarthy) was a celebrity biographer who was down on her luck after poor sales and a lack of support from her agent (Jane Curtin). With not even enough money to pay for her cat’s vet bills, a chance find by Lee sparks an idea about how she can make money from her writing: create fake letters by literary greats and actors and sell them to collectors. The film, directed by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) and written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, does a thorough job in setting this up well so that we can empathise with Lee’s criminal actions – her cat is sick, her apartment is flea-ridden, she can’t afford a coat. Not to mention that her victims, for the most part, aren’t exactly the most likeable characters. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)