Detroit (2017)

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Detroit is one of the best films I have seen so far this year. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this film breaks some of the conventional rules of blockbuster Hollywood, channeling, in my opinion, French New Wave style techniques, typically found in French films during the 1960s. If you know your French New Wave you’ll know Jean Luc Godard or François Truffaut as two key influencers of the movement. Bigelow chooses to use zooms as well as extreme handheld camera shots, so much so that the viewer becomes immersed as if they are present with the characters. I am pleased Bigelow used zooms in a Hollywood feature; I picked it out straight away as being unusual in a cinematic production as I studied film at university, whereas my mum did not know that was so unusual. I could go on for hours about the filming techniques Bigelow has used and why I love her style of filming!

Detroit is still relevant today, especially since the recent riots in Charlottesville. The film is based on the riots in Detroit during 1967, with a particular focus on the murder of three unarmed young black men in a motel. The story itself is completely horrifying; I went into the film knowing about the riots but not about this particular motel story and I left feeling a rage toward the officers who committed the crimes and the way they changed the lead character, Larry Smith’s, outlook on white people through their irrational acts. 

John Boyega and Will Poulter are two of the big names attached to Detroit, however the lead actor is called Algee Smith. No, I hadn’t heard of him either, but he is incredible. The music used in Detroit really pulls the film together; gospel, Motown, and other musical genres play a huge role in a lot of African Americans’ lives, as we know from history and other films, so to incorporate music in such a big way through Larry was really important to the accurate historical representation of 1967. 

If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to see this film! I’m glad I did not do too much extensive research before going in because it’s important to see how a story is represented through the director’s eyes. Everybody tells a story slightly differently, even a real life one!

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Dunkirk (2017)

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Dunkirk was nothing less than a spectacle of a film. Christopher Nolan proved his worth with the stunning World War 2 film about the 400,000 people stranded in Dunkirk beach surrounded by the enemy.

The sound mix really made this film for me, it was precise and all consuming for me as a viewer. Small effects such as using a ticking clock style of sound faintly in the background long before the build up of a dramatic scene. This subconsciously builds suspense and by the time the dramatic scene is taking place the viewer is entirely immersed in the experience.

This film, with it’s all star cast of Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles (whose debut acting I was SO pleased with!), Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and many other names, is a brilliant tribute to the almost 300,000 people rescued from Dunkirk Beach.

Song to Song (2017)

 

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Song to Song incorporates everything I love about the art of film. This film is shot in a non linear format, meaning there is no such rule as continuity and the cinematography can be as artistic or strange as the director wishes. 

Stunning locations and an all star cast made this film a privilege to watch. I would recommend this to true film fans, however it’s not an easy watch so if you’re in the mood for a rom com or similar, it may be a little challenging to keep up with at times.

I overheard some very mixed reviews when walking out of the cinema after watching Song to Song. I think you really have to be in the right mindset to take on a non-linear, romanticised film such as this one. That is not a criticism, I found the film enjoyable for the most part! If I’m completely honest I just felt that it was half an hour too long, and I know exactly where I would have cut scenes… but that’s the harsh side of my criticism!

The soundtrack was brilliant and I loved the use of GoPro style filming towards the start of the film at a festival. As for the casting… Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender and Cate Blanchett are just some of the names you will recognise in the cast of this quirky, modern romance film. One to watch if you’re into something different, with a lot of character!

The Secret Scripture (2017)

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The Secret Scripture is gripping, heart wrenching, and at times quite distressing. The story is adapted from a book and discovers the truth behind why Rose Clear has been living in a psychiatric ward for 50 years. 

The Secret Scripture takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster of a story. With an all star cast and outstanding performances I will be very surprised if there are no academy award nominations given to this excellent film. I’m already talking about the Oscars 2018… help!

One of my favourite actresses of the moment, Rooney Mara, plays a young Rose, while Vanessa Redgrave plays her 50 years on. Both of these incredible actresses work together to portray a character anyone can connect with and feel empathy for. This film is so down to earth and really makes you think twice about how mental health was viewed once upon a time in the UK and Ireland… and how it still is in many parts of the world. There are some distressing scenes in this film so beware before watching that it could cause upset to some viewers.

It Comes at Night (2017)

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It Comes At Night is a brilliantly realistic horror film. Often horror films are created about supernatural or demonic creatures and events, whereas this film focuses on a real life situation involving a contagious disease.

The main family are self sufficient and never leave their property in the middle of nowhere, while outside people are becoming sick from a horrific illness they are quarantined in their healthy house and surrounding area. 

Starring Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Joel Edgerton. I last saw Joel Edgerton in Disney’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green, so this was quite a contrast! He played the role well and I felt gripped throughout this film.

It Comes At Night will make you jump! It’s definitely got an age 15 rating for a reason as there are some disturbing images of the illness taking over people, as well as violence. If you’re a horror film fan then this will be one for you! 

Kedi (2017)

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Kedi, meaning ‘cat’ in Turkish, is an uplifting documentary about the lives of stray cats in Istanbul. Beautiful scenery combined with adorable cats and kittens is a recipe for a very good film in my opinion! I’m a cat person, so of course I wanted to see this film. The cats are considered an integral part of the city and mean a lot to the people of Istanbul; they treat and care for them as if they’re their own pets. 

Each cat is portrayed with a personality by different people who have got to know them, which really brings them to life and tells the audience about their habits and lifestyle. A very neat documentary originally made by YouTubeRed focusing on the intertwining lives of people and cats in Turkey! 

Documentaries are my favourite form of video, whether they’re cinematic or for television. I absolutely love to learn about new places, people, or things! I knew little about Istanbul before watching this, other than that my Grandpa says it’s beautiful. Turkey is always talked about as such a dark, dangerous country and now I’ve seen this film I have seen such a lovely side to Turkey that is never shown on our screens! I hope one day to visit Istanbul and admire the city… as well as all of the beautiful cats!

Going in Style (2017)

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Going in Style is a light hearted comedy with an important message about growing old the way you want to! Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin are all hilarious. Each of their characters representing a stereotype of the elderly.

Zach Braff is the director of this classic comedy film; those of you who recognise the name will have watched the brilliant TV series Scrubs, a few years back. He directs flawlessly and I think this film is a brilliant feel good one, with some excellent unexpected humour!

I love watching a comedy film every now and then, and although they usually do not resonate with me, I connected with the focus on the elderly in this film and associated the characters with my Grandpa and his siblings… which is amusing in itself! OAPs doing weird and wonderful things and committing crimes is a funny thought, although I’m sure they still do! Age is just a number…

Hampstead (2017)

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Hampstead is my feel good film of the summer so far! A lovely lighthearted story based on the real life of Harry Hallowes, who sadly passed away two years ago. The celebration of his life through this film is very loosely based on his actual life, however the concept of him living on Hampstead Heath is entirely accurate.

Brendan Gleeson plays a brilliant “Donald” whose character represents Harry Hallowes, although he is extremely well kept considering his living conditions – with a beard looking as soft as candy floss! Diane Keaton plays his love interest, living over the road from his shack in a very expensive apartment. I am not personally a big fan of Diane Keaton, however she played a convincing role in Hampstead meaning I could set aside my opinion and judge the film objectively.

A very well shot film with some outstanding camerawork particularly in the scenes among the heath. Even the supporting roles in the film are played by recognised actors, so the casting was excellent throughout.

Hampstead is one of my favourite places in London and when I lived there I walked on the Heath whenever I had a sunny day off. A beautiful setting amidst the chaos of the city only a mile or so away! I would recommend this film to anyone looking for an easy watch with a delightful real life story.

Rules Don’t Apply (2017)

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Rules Don’t Apply is absolutely one of the best films I have seen in a while. Not that I would expect anything less than brilliant from Warren Beatty! The casting was spot on, Lily Collins is one of my favourite actresses and she is completely flawless yet again in this film set in 1960s Hollywood. Accompanied by Warren Beatty himself and Alden Ehrenreich, the three main characters present a story worth telling and are all unique in their looks and performances.

The cinematography and editing worked together like magic, I love the style of editing where there is no lingering after lines have been said. A quick edit can create humour, awkwardness, and tension at the best of times!

Lily Collins performs an original song that we hear four times in the film, including the credits. It is beautiful! Her singing voice is perfectly imperfect, but still much better than a lot of artists out there selling number ones.

I did not want this film to end. I grew very attached to the characters from the beginning, which is a sign of excellent direction from Warren Beatty. I look forward to watching it again upon its release!

The Love Witch (2017)

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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.