The Love Witch (2017)

The Love Witch is a weird and wonderful piece of artwork. I say artwork rather than film at the minute because I can’t stop thinking about the production design. The costumes, the make-up, the set design, the locations, all of which are perfect. When I say perfect I mean every single shot is made up in such a way that the viewers can lose themselves in the film. Personally, I love a film that makes you forget it’s a film.

Samantha Robinson is flawless and mesmerising throughout the film. She takes on the role of the love witch naturally and they could not have cast anyone more appropriate for the part. Her voice is entrancing and she is an extremely convincing witch!

This film is about love, witchcraft, death, and feminism. There are some very dark scenes in The Love Witch but also some very well done parody scenes, keeping the humour alive in the peculiar story.

All in all, this film is not to be taken too seriously. It’s a fun, slightly gruesome take on the world of witchcraft and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It’s definitely one for art film lovers, feminists, and a slightly quirkier audience.

Moonlight (2017)

Moonlight is one of those films you keep thinking about days after watching it in the cinema. A touching film about a very real issue African Americans faced in the 80s and 90s and to some extent still today. The film is set in Miami and tells the story of one young boy and his experience growing up as a child, teenager, and his life during adulthood.

One of my favourite things about Moonlight is why the film is called such a name. The description and idea of African American skin appearing blue in the moonlight is told in such a touching way by Juan while he is supporting Little and acting almost as his mentor.

Moonlight won Best Picture at the Academy Awards along with Best Supporting Actor. The acting of the main boy, in all three stages of life, is believable and his character remains the same through the three different actors which is incredible to see. Moonlight is also very worthy of its Best Adapted Screenplay award and it really shows in the production values of the film.

It’s not one to miss and I am very much looking forward to watching it again upon its release. Like I said, it’s a film you cannot stop thinking about.

Lion (2017)

It’s safe to say Lion captures the heart of the audience. The story is based on truth, which always makes me feel more attached to a film. Sunny Pawar puts on an incredible performance and his angelic face draws the viewer in from the word go! A touching story about a five year old boy, Saroo, who goes missing in India while looking for work with his brother. The scenery is beautiful throughout and the costume and locations are perfectly authentic.

I particularly loved the parallels when Saroo is older and is reminiscing and remembering his previous life in India. He often pictures his brother and with the use of clever cinematography and editing, the director, Garth Davis, really pulls on the heartstrings!

It is shocking that this is a true story, because we forget that situations like this happen so often around the world. A statement at the end of the film reveals some true facts about these missing children and astoundingly 80,000 children still go missing every year in India alone.

This PG film is family friendly but an emotional topic, Lion is definitely one to watch this awards season. It picked up BAFTAs for Best Adapted Screenplay and Dev Patel won Best Supporting Actor; at the Oscars it was nominated for six but sadly went home empty handed. A truly emotive film with a brilliant lead child actor deserved much more than nominations!

T2: Trainspotting (2017)

T2 Trainspotting has an excellent soundtrack, that’s the first thing that sprung to mind when I thought about writing this review. The songs were appropriate for each scene and complimented the action taking place… plus it includes a song by my favourite band, Wolf Alice.

I had such high hopes going into the cinema for this film because I was a huge fan of the original Trainspotting… and probably watched it (without my mum knowing) when I was a little too young!  The acting was faultless, all of the characters have grown up and changed apart from Simon who, I thought, looked exactly the same! You’ll be pleased to know Spud’s facial expressions are still as hilarious as they were in the first film.

There was a great use of editing and visual effects throughout the film, which really brought the modern day aspect to the forefront. Projecting images in unexpected places such as on the side of a car reminds the viewer how long it has been since the first Trainspotting was released, and how the production values have changed so much since then.

I also have to mention the lighting, because I have not seen or picked up on a talent of lighting in many films, but this one was brilliant. One shot in particular uses a shadow to represent a lost loved one, and the way the light was used created all of the emotion necessary for the scene.

Overall, T2 is a great follow up to Trainspotting, closing the book on the characters with a satisfying ending for all of them. If you enjoyed… or were fascinated by, the first one, then you have to see T2 to find out what happened to the gang!

Manchester By The Sea (2017)

A faultless exploration into grief; Manchester by the Sea is an outstanding film. It is nominated for seven Oscars and I cannot wait to see which is it rewarded with. Casey Affleck is unbelievable, and under the direction of Kenneth Lonergan he excels himself in every way, alongside his on-screen nephew, Lucas Hedges.

It’s hard not to give away too much about the story because it really is one to watch if you appreciate a heavier subject matter. Each revelation is flawlessly executed while every single detail adds to the character relationships and developments.

One of the best explorations into grief I have ever seen. This is truly one of the greatest films and I hope it gets what it deserves at the Oscars this February… although it is up against the much loved by all, La La Land!

The beautiful cinematography accompanied by the scenery of Manchester creates a picture perfect film in between the emotion packed story. As the film takes place across a long period of time we get to see Manchester in every season. The snow particularly adds to one aspect of the story as the ground is too hard to dig in order to bury anyone.

I’d love to say there is absolutely nothing negative I can say about this film, and to be honest there is not. However, once I found out about Casey Affleck’s allegations against him, I was utterly disappointed because I think he is a brilliant actor. Of course I do not know the truth, but it has changed my opinion of him.

Finally, this deeply emotional film involves a lot of trauma but it is not without its humour. It’s a lovely reminder that even in the darkest times we can all hopefully count on someone close to us to make us smile and even laugh. It’s one of those films you keep thinking about for days afterwards, a spectacular masterpiece of video.

La La Land (2017)

A light-hearted musical about a classic romance. La La Land is quite the feel good movie but not without its emotions. Every good love story has its ups and downs, and the thing that pleased me the most about this modern musical was the non-cliché ending! I was so thrilled that it ended the way it did because I thought it was going to be the typical reunited sweetheart ending.

Ryan Gosling makes this film what it is, with his piano playing and cheeky smile he really pulled this film together for me. Also the story focusing a lot on jazz music brought a great old fashioned twist to the modern romance in this amusing, witty, musical number! However, it is controversial as to whether this film has ruined the jazz genre for a lot of people… I’ve heard many mixed reviews!

Unfortunately I am not an Emma Stone fan so I spent half the film not particularly buying into her role; I was also disappointed (to put it kindly) with her singing and dancing. While I know she is a much loved actress, she’s just not my favourite!

La La Land was nominated for an unbelievable amount of Oscars earlier this year, as I’m sure you heard. One that I knew it would win by miles is the original song. City of Stars is a wonderful song (even with Emma Stone singing in it) and I have seen no end of covers being posted left right and centre online since its release. The lovely thing about La La Land is that it has encouraged a younger audience to watch musicals again, although personally I have watched musicals all my life, I know a lot of people my age are not interested in that kind of thing at all so it’s great to see that change. All in all, La La Land is definitely one to watch!

Aside

Life, Animated is a special documentary about coping and developing as an adult with autism. I have grown up learning about autism because my mum worked in a school for 12 years of my childhood specifically working with children with autism and additional needs. As soon as I saw the trailer for this film I knew it was one she and I would enjoy, so we went together!

The story follows Owen and his journey into adulthood through graduating high school and moving into assisted living, away from his parents and brother. Owen, when he was very young, stopped communicating with his family all together. He watched Disney films on repeat, rewinding and fast forwarding over his favourite scenes. Owen’s parents struggled with his lack of communication and it took several years until he spoke… but when he did, he spoke fluently in sentences as if he had been speaking the entire time.

The use of Disney imagery, music and audio brings the film to life in the sense that we gain an understanding of Owen’s love for the characters and messages delivered in these films. At relevant points throughout the documentary an animation is created of Owen based from a story he had written about sidekicks. Owen has always favoured the sidekicks over the heroes in his favourite stories and I think this says a lot about his outlook on his own life.

The support Owen has from his family, school, and doctors is incredible and he is a very lucky man. I hope this documentary raises awareness of autism and brings hope to parents of children who may be struggling with their own communication or other autistic difficulties.

Aside

A United Kingdom is a truly inspiring film. The authenticity of Africa and Britain and the apartheid taking place during that time brought a very genuine feeling to a story based on truth. Rosamund Pike & David Oyelowo’s performances were flawless and their relationship was so believable. Sometimes I struggle with Rosamund Pike after seeing her in Gone Girl because she makes me feel a little uncomfortable, or even threatened in that film! Her acting ability is proven in A United Kingdom for me as she is a completely different person, still a strong woman but not scary, thank goodness!

I knew little about South African government and the apartheid before watching the film, besides the basics. After the screening I researched the true story of the Prince of Botswana and his white British wife to compare the facts to the film. Everything, even down to costume and cultural references, was accurate to the real situation taking place in Bechuanaland.

The opening shot of the film is an extreme close up of a fountain pen scribbling on coarse, textured paper with the distinct scratching sound beneath the opening monologue. From this moment on I knew the film was, if anything, going to be picture perfect with outstanding cinematography. Thankfully, I was right and it was so much more than that: an inspirational story of a couple defying all odds and pursuing their wishes and dreams, despite the thoughts of the rest of the world around them.

Amma Asante has created an outstanding film out of a heartbreaking racial and political situation of the 1940s. I am particularly influenced by Asante as she is a British female film director, of which there are very few making feature films with theatrical releases. I hope to see more female directors in my lifetime as influential as Asante and I am excited to see what she does next!