In a time where a man with multiple allegations of sexual assault against him can become president, it’s crazy to think that thirty years ago another man’s presidential campaign could come crashing down so easily because of adultery. In 1987 Gary Hart was considered the frontrunner for the 1988 Democratic Party presidential primaries, but withdrew from the campaign a week after news broke of his alleged affair with his mistress, Donna Rice. George H.W. Bush went on to win the 1988 election for the Republican Party. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: The Front Runner (2018)
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)
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)