Monday, 30 March 2015

While We're Young Review

While We’re Young is Noah Baumbach’s comedy drama about a middle aged couple (Ben Stiller & Naomi Watts) who suddenly find a new lease of life when a younger couple (Adam Driver & Amanda Seyfried) enter their world.  The film starts off as a fairly standard comedy about growing old, think “This Is 40” but less self indulgent and a bit funnier. Stiller & Watts are very funny in this section of the film as we see them try to cope with this strange modern world around them. The film manages to find quite a lot of comedy in this section despite the fact we have already seen numerous comedies about growing old before.

Soon the film changes focus however and it turns it’s attention to Ben Stiller’s character that of documentary film maker Josh. Josh meets Jamie (Adam Driver) and Derby (Amanda Seyfried) at first Josh is fascinated by the two and he is amazed at their hipster lifestyle this pushes both Josh and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) into a midlife crisis as they try to keep up with their new friends again the film finds comedy here and provides temporary reflection on the young lifestyles clashing with the old. However this coasting along familiar ideas isn’t enough for the film and it starts to push forward into new ground. The film starts of play on the fact that three of its main characters make documentaries so it starts musing on the idea of storytelling and truth vs art. It’s interesting ground for the film and it does make it stand out from similar indie fare. Personally I didn’t find that all of the stuff about filmmaking ultimately tied together and it did come out of left field from where the film was starting off which itself wasn’t a bad thing but in the end it felt a little rushed and it didn’t all make sense and often it was explained through speeches. You could make a comparison to Birdman in this respect but the film comes out much better than Birdman for many reasons lime the fact it’s considerably funnier, the writing is whilst flawed is still interesting and it moves along at a very fast pace.  The core of the film is the four main characters and the actors are all very good in their roles. Baumbach’s direction is very light and naturalistic I haven’t seen any of his previous films but he is clearly fitting this one within the established American indie style.

Overall While We’re Young is an above average comedy it’s very light with it’s touch, it’s consistently funny and it provides interesting reflection on the nature of youth even if it’s stuff about storytelling doesn’t ultimately come together.  


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Cinderella Review

We live in an age were people are so hypersensitive about spoilers. People are concerned about hearing the slightest bit of information about a film based on a book that’s been out for ages. It’s this sort of thinking that damages the way we think about narratives, suddenly they become judged on how surprising and  shocking they are we no longer care about other factors. It doesn’t matter how well the story is told it just has to be surprising. This is precisely why Cinderella is a breath of fresh air. The film simply tells the age old story of Cinderella and delights in being as traditional and straight as it can and for that it is simply wonderful. Kenneth Branagh weaves a tale that is sure to entertain for generations. He doesn’t try to adapt Cinderella for the 21st century because he knows how badly that would date instead he just takes the fairytale of old and makes it in a modern way. It’s not as easy a transition between animation and live action as you might think whereas with hand drawn animation you can have more basic  cleaner less detailed images with live action you have to feel the frame and give a sense of place this is why Branagh’s Cinderella actual feels like a very big theatrical film but in the center of the film he finds the heart and voice of the characters. 

Lily James takes the eponymous role and really makes it her own. Cinderella feels like a real character rather than a stereotype of goodness.  Jame’s Cinderella always tries to stay positive even when the worst is happening to her she isn’t just a standard goody goody too shoes she gives us a sense of Cinderella’s inner conflict as she tries to help others but till wants to do things for herself. She makes the character so likeable that it is rewarding to see the good things that eventually happen to her. The other performer who makes the film work is Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother she is only on screen for a few memorable scenes but she narrates the whole thing with an English accent as polished as a glass slipper which contributes to the whole classical sense of the story. Cate Blanchett is a joy to watch as she embraces the role of the wicked stepmother she’s having so much fun in the role playing all the wickedness with an underlying sense of jealousy and sadness which creates for a compelling character.

One key element to the film is the costume design. Cinderella’s ball dress is one of the most gorgeous dresses ever put to film; it’s puffy and frilly  but made of this light fabric and in this gorgeous shade of blue and its decorated by small fragile fabric butterflies it is simply beautiful. The stepfamily are dressed in these garish silk colours that both repel and entice the eye and they seem like clothes that would only be worn by people with more money than sense.

Cinderella is an example of storytelling at it’s best we know what’s going to happen but at every moment  we are completely sold on the story. There were genuinely moments that whilst I was comfortable in my knowledge of the story I questioned who Cinderella was going to win.  The film rests of James performance as Cinderella and she proves herself together her and Branagh make this a fairytale for the ages. 4/5 Stars 

My review of Frozen Fever the film before Cinderella is here  

Frozen Fever

Frozen Fever

Frozen Fever is a short film following on from the events of Frozen the whole piece is set to a brand new song “Making Today A Perfect Day” and the film follows Elsa as the attempts to make Anna’s birthday “Perfect”. The film is perfectly fine the colour scheme is a bit brighter than it was in Frozen so it’s a bit nicer to look at. The song is fine it’s a catchy pleasant melody but it probably won’t have the lifespan of “Let It Go” and that sort of summarizes the whole short. It’s perfectly fine and tides you over if your waiting for Frozen 2 but if your not it’s a nicely animated bore. If you want to make it more interesting have a game of “Spot The New Merchandise Bingo” in the film Elsa and Anna get new dresses and there’s a load of baby snowmen who might as well have “New Toys” written across their foreheads.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Theory Of Subtle Framing

In my original review of "The Theory Of Everything" which you can find here…/the-theory-of-every… I wrote about the way James Marsh plays on the framing of the film to communicate subtle short ideas which is appropriate considering the film is about the difficulty of communication in this rare marriage. When writing I had one shot in my mind and it was this shot. You see Jane and Stephen are on the opposite sides of the frame yet not only that Stephen is closer to the frame than Jane so we have two layers of distance working together (foreground and background, right & left) to show the distance between Jane and Stephen as their marriage deteriorates but the back of Stephens chair is responsible for the division in the frame emphasising how Stephen's condition is responsible for the split in the marriage but importantly both characters appear happy in the image Jane is content reading her book and Stephen is smiling whilst looking at his screen showing that the distance between them is increasing but they are still both very happy in their own worlds.

Monday, 16 March 2015

He's Started A Blog, He's Started A Blog, SJ Kamal He's started A Blog

I know a lot of different people all with different interests. But I am unaware of anyone as passionate about football as my friend SJ. I know nothing about football but you can't help but feel enthused when you see someone as passionate about something as SJ is with football and he's entertaining as well. SJ always brings a smile to every moment and he's never without a chant for something.

Anyway now you can get to know SJ better as he's started a blog on football which you can find here

Give him a read. If you like football it will be worth it!

This Is Where I Leave You - Review

This Is Where I Leave You.

This Is Where I leave you is another film in a similar slew of “Coming Home” movies. For those unfamiliar with the genre a “Coming Home” film will feature a middle aged protagonist who’s successful in terms of their career but maybe not fully satisfied in their home life. Then due to what is often a death in the family they have to go back to their childhood home at the same time as the rest of their family is there and in this time they come over old family  grievances to film themselves again. (See last years “The Judge”) This Is Where I leave You follows this formula to the point but it’s but no measure a bad film.

It’s gets over its formulaic narrative mainly due to its exceptional cast. Everyone in the film elevates it by bringing out humor and warmth in what could have otherwise gone very wrong. Jason Bateman lead the cast as Judd Altman (As character names go it just sounds bland) Bateman fits the role like a glove.  Playing the family patriarch who holds the family of characters together. The film isn’t nearly as absurd as “Arrested Development” but you can see Michael Bluth creeping through. That’s no bad thing though more Arrested Development is always welcome. Tina Fey plays his sister Wendy Altman who supports him through this family struggle. Fey is responsible for most of the laughs in the film and she runs circles around her male counterparts in terms of humour.  The film is completely littered with several successful people, it’s a bit like a school play with everyone showing up for their little moment. Adam Driver is there as the off the rails brother his character could come off like a bit of a dick but Driver finds some likeable charm underneath and he mines that for what it is. Rose Byrne shows up to play Judd’s small town love who never left. Again her character could be annoyingly ditzy but Byrne too finds some charm in the role.

In the directors chair is Shawn Levy. The films stands out compared to Levy’s previous fare and you get a sense that he is enjoying making something a bit characterful compared to Nigh At The Museum ∞. His direction is very silent not flashy but he has a nice visual eye and the whole thing is impeccably well lit it’s one of the sunniest films I think I’ve ever scene (Honestly I think it only rains about once). Thanks to a great cast and light direction what could be plodding and melodramatic  is still melodramatic but it’s enjoyable and humourous melodrama which neatly fits itself into a 1h39min running time.

3/5 Stars