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)
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)
Following the success of his short film Zombie Musical in 2011, the late Ryan McHenry(responsible for the ‘Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal’ vines) began developing a feature length version for his debut. He sadly passed away in 2015 while the film, co-written with Alan McDonald, was still under development. John McPhail was brought in as director and Anna and the Apocalypse was completed. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Back in 2000, the film gods gave us Billy Elliot, a story about a boy who wanted to break gender stereotypes and be a ballet dancer. In a supporting role, Billy’s friend Michael is revealed to enjoy cross-dressing, with this scene celebrated in one of the best numbers in the stage musical adaptation (which premiered on the West End in 2005), ‘Expressing Yourself’. Elton John’s lyrics include “What the hell’s wrong with wearing a dress, being who you want to be… What the hell is wrong with expressing yourself? For trying to be free”. It’s a beautiful moment but its place in the show is mostly as a comical reprieve from the drama of the main character. Continue reading THEATRE ON FILM REVIEW: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2018)
While adults are treated (or perhaps tricked) to a remake of Halloween this time of year, younger audiences also get another recycling of a tried and true formula in Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. With a new batch of humans, the same group of monsters return with a few new additions, making for an entertaining enough comedy-horror for kids and teens. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)
Based on the book of the same name by Darcey Bell, A Simple Favour sees Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick), a mummy blogger, trying to raise her young son (Joshua Satine) on her own while keeping up an Energiser bunny-like enthusiasm. Despite her willingness to get involved she hasn’t made many friends, and quickly becomes enamoured by one of the other mothers, the mysterious Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). After sharing a series of playdates where they drink cocktails and exchange secrets, Emily asks Stephanie for a simple favour while her husband (Henry Golding) is away: to pick up her son (Ian Ho) from school. A few days later, there’s still no sign of Emily. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: A Simple Favour (2018)