Coast: Running Away

Written by Luke Barnes

Coasts is a drama coming of age film directed by Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart. The plot revolves around a young woman whose life changes when a traveling rock band is forced to stay in her small town for a while.

This film was a very stirring coming of age tale. It struck me as very personable and relatable, we have all been there before, we have all faced the reality of our small town life or grown board with our city if we are not from a small town, the urge to roam and be free is something that every human being can relate to.

I thought the drama of this film was very impactful. The idea of do you stay with what you know and what is comfortable and familiar, or do you take a chance that might never come again and go and be wild, I thought this premise raised a lot of philosophical questions and makes one reflect on their own life.

Overall, a very thoughtful and thought provoking film that nearly everyone can relate to.

Pros.

The relatability

It causes you to reflect

It is entertaining and engaging

Cons.

It has a few minor pacing issues

4/5  

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Bend It Like Beckham: David Beckham Really Is In Every Film

Written by Luke Barnes

Bend It Like Beckham is a sport coming of age comedy film directed by Gurinder Chadha. The plot sees Jess (Parminder Nagra), try to pursue a career in football despite her parents wishes.

I enjoyed this films depiction of ‘football mad England’, its approach is far more subtle and thoughtful than films like Football Factories or Green Streets would have you believe. I thought Jess as a character was very easy to warm to, and also very relatable. We could see the identity crisis she was facing, and we sympathise as the character almost becomes like a friend to us over the course of the film.

I thought the ending of the film were she gets to go and become a professional footballer in America is heart warming and just the right amount of feel good resolution that makes you think ‘hey maybe things will be okay’.

My main issue with the film would be that the central romance between Joe (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), and Jess is troublesome on several levels. Firstly, the love triangle between Jess, Jules (Keira Knightly), and Joe feels a bit too male fantasy, and secondly because he is the coach of the team and both of his female love interests are players on the team, meaning the power dynamic is icky.

A bigger question not just for this film, but also applicable more generally, was a romance plot line actually needed at all?

Overall, a feel good film on the surface but troublesome underneath.

Pros.

Nagra

Knightley

The ending

Cons.

The romance plot line

Some of the wider messages

2.5/5

The Edge Of Seventeen: High Fidelity In A Classroom

Written by Luke Barnes

Edge Of Seventeen is a coming of age comedy film directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. The plot sees socially awkward teen Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), navigate a world of depression, rejection and family strife, all whilst figuring out who she wants to be- I promise it is happier than that sounds.

I enjoyed this film so much, that it has quickly supplanted its way into my top ten films of all time.

For me, this is one of the best if not the best teen film of all time. There is something so painfully true about this film that really reached me and felt reflective of my own high school experience. The idea of teenage mental health is not something that you often see come up in coming of age fare beyond the usual idea of angst, however, it is really done justice here.
Where this film pips something like Lady Bird, is that it is more relatable. There is a quiet middle class privilege to Lady Bird, yes I said it, that though present here also is lessened to a point whereby it feels like a closer mirror to how a lot of people actually experience highschool.

Steinfeld is terrific here truly. I know True Grit was the film that put her on the map for a lot of people, but this was the film for me that made me stand up and take notice. She makes the characters so complex, but also so likeable, so charming and yet so self-destructive.  Moreover, the level of chemistry she has with Woody Harrelson, who plays her teacher, is off the charts- they must be cast together in more films.

Overall, a film that spoke to me on a personal level and reminded me why I love film.

Pros.

Focusing on teenage mental health

Steinfeld

Harrelson

The writing is sharp and witty

It feels painfully true

5/5

Short Term 12: Give Brie Larson An Oscar!

Short Term 12 is a drama film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. The film follows the life of Grace Howard (Brie Larson), a troubled adult who supervises at a home for troubled teens.

I have to say before I watched this film I was not on the Brie Larson bandwagon; I had yet to see that one performance by her that was going to convert me, I had seen her disastrous pr efforts and her meh turn as Captain Marvel in the MCU neither of which impressed me. I liked her in Free Fire, Scott Pilgrim and Kong Skull Island but I was still unconvinced. However, all that changed when I saw this film and now I am 100% on board the bandwagon.

There are a lot of great performances in this film, we get to see hints at future potential from Lakeith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever, as well as a great turn from John Gallagher Jr. in the male lead, but this is Larson’s film through and through. Larson sells every minute she is on screen with such an emotional intensity that you can’t help but be drawn in. I thought the struggle her character goes through, and the later reveals as to the motivation behind that, is incredibly moving and manically depressing. I think the conversation this character arc raises however is ultimately uplifting, positive and needed as it shows there is hope.

Overall, this is an incredibly emotionally impactful film and it is a model for how scripts should be written, close to perfect.

Pros.

Brie Larson

It has both humour and heart

The journey

The conversation around surviving abuse

The ending and the hope it brings

Cons.

It can be upsetting and deeply depressing at times

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke     

Clueless: Austen Revisited

Clueless is a coming of age comedy film directed by Amy Heckerling, loosely based on the Jane Austin novel Emma. The plot sees teen socialite Cher (Alicia Silverstone), Queen of her high school, take the new girl Thai (Brittney Murphy), under her wing.

I have heard a lot of people talk about this film for a while, it has a real strong cult following, so I decided to check it out for myself. I was naturally comparing it to the other adaption of Emma, the more recent adaption from this very year.

I found this to be the better of the more recent American Emma adaptions, it had that lively spirit and wit that I feel the 2020 version was lacking.  I always enjoy when they modernise classic tales and give them a newer twist, like the Leo Romeo and Juliet film from a while back.

I thought that all of the characters felt warm and had a good amount of rootability, though Cher did nasty thing it never reached a point where I didn’t like her as a character, she never felt cold or mean spirited.

The one thing I would flag up is the icky main romance. They changed a lot of things from the classic story for this film so why they kept this in is beyond me. In the film Josh (Paul Rudd), is Cher’s stepbrother, to add to that he is in college (University for non-Americans) and Cher is in high school she is 16 years old, both of these factors make for a deeply troubling romance, that honestly shouldn’t happen.

Overall, a quirky fresh take on an old classic. The characters felt warm and the humour landed even if the odd nearly incestuous age inappropriate relationship didn’t.

Pros.

A fresh take

The humour

Fun rootable characters

Cons.

A few things were lost in translation

The main central romance was deeply troubling

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

Sleepover: Possibly The Worst Child Actors Ever

The Sleepover is a comedy crime family film directed by Trish Sie. The plot sees a quiet suburban mum Margot (Malin Akerman), have her super thief origins exposed to her family and then promptly get kidnapped along with her Husband (Ken Marino), and her ex-partner/ fiancé Leo (Joe Manganiello). It is up to Margot’s kids to save their parents.

So this is yet another miss in the original film category for Netflix, it has very little going for it and is borderline unwatchable. It seems to want to be so many different films, namely Adventures In Babysitting and Spy Kids, and fails miserably at both.

The child acting in this film is mind numbing they might be the worst child actors in the history of film, everything they say is so asinine and cringe that it proves whoever wrote the dialogue has never met a teen or a young person. The line about the Dewey decimal system was the moment I knew this film was utter trash. Stranger Things’ Sadie Stanley is probably the best of the child stars, but that is by no means an endorsement.

The adult sections of the film are better, in that they give my eyes a reprieve from rolling, and if the film had given them more focus then the film would be a hell of a lot better. Akerman kicks ass and is believable as a super thief, Manganiello plays the hammy villain well; spoilers but you weren’t really going to watch this dumpster fire were you? However, the standout of the whole film is Ken Marino as the bewildered but well-meaning husband to Margot, he actually made me laugh quite a few times and made the torture of watching this film somewhat bearably, if they do a sequel cut everyone else keep Marino.

Overall, maybe Netflix should stop letting a computer green light their films, maybe that is a good idea; obviously it is.

Pros.

Ken Marino

The adult sections and storyline

Cons.

The kids are awful

The dialogue is heinous

It is so dumb

It is a waste of your time

1/5

Reviewed by Luke

Moonrise Kingdom: A Flood Is Coming

Moonrise Kingdom is a comedy drama film directed by Wes Anderson. The plot follows a pair of young kids who fall in love and decide to escape their restrictive homelives to be together, prompting a man hunt.

So, I have talked at great length about Anderson’s quirks in filmmaking in other reviews, so I won’t go too much into it here, only to say that this might be the best usage of them yet. They work in such a way that they make the film feel cheery, even though a lot of bleak things happen, it never feels depressing; it has a childlike sense of wonder and nativity that prevail throughout.

The kid’s actors were fine, that is big praise considering normally child acting ranges from terrible to god awful.

The two stars on the acting front are Edward Norton as the Scout Leader and Bruce Willis as the town’s sheriff/ policeman. Now, Norton’s character is very sweet and wholesome, and he is almost impossible not to root for, but also he is expectedly good. The real star on the acting front is Willis. This is because to most people it is clear that Willis stopped trying years ago, he mainly just does paycheck roles and straight to video stuff now, but this film proves that when he is trying he can still be great.

Overall, a very sweet tale of outsider love told in a way only Anderson can.

Pros.

The clear Anderson touch

Bruce Willis actually trying

The childlike wonder and optimism

The child actors aren’t terrible

The Jason Schwartzman cameo

Cons.

A little slow with the pacing, a bit of bloat

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke  

The To Do list: Exploring Your Body

The To Do List is a romantic comedy film directed by Maggie Carey. The plot sees Brandy (Aubrey Plaza), make a to do list before she goes off to college, the twist however is that the items on the list are sexual in nature as Brandy is quite inexperienced, so she sets out to change that.

This has been in my Netflix queue for quite some time and I finally watched it, and I have to say I am glad I did. I ended up enjoying it way more than I thought I would, and it is easily one of the best films I have seen recently.

I thought the sex positive message of the film was very good and very enlightening for teenage viewers. The idea that sex is a natural thing and nothing to be ashamed off is something that is not said often enough, especially for Women. It is nice to see a new wave of media with a sex positive female focus, other example of my point would be Book Smart, Blockers and Fleabag.

I also thought the film was hilarious and it often had me laughing. I thought Clark Gregg as the overprotective, uncomfortable with sex father was the standout in this regard, his character often had me in stiches, and he paired with Connie Britton’s sex positive mum worked wonders.

Overall, a hilariously good, funny film that I highly recommend everyone watch.

Pros.

Clarke Gregg

Aubrey Plaza

Bill Hader

It has a very good message

It is hilarious

The cameos

Cons.

None

5/5

The Peanut Butter Falcon: The Next Champion Of The World

The Peanut Butter Falcon is an adventure film directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. The plot follows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young boy with down syndrome who dreams of becoming a professional wrestler just like his hero. However, in order to do that he needs to escape from the old people’s home that he has been forced into and venture into the great unknown on a voyage of self-discovery.

This is one of the most touching films I have ever seen, I kid you not there were a good few time when I had a tear in my eye. This one will hit you right in the feels. I think part of what makes this film so easy to connect to is its characters. They’re unlikely heroes, in a more simplified sense underdog.  

I think Gottsagen was great throughout, he was easily the most loveable character and you will want to see him become a wrestler so much. I also thought this fatherly connection with Shia LaBeoufs’ character of Tyler was also incredibly well done. The two make a great pair and are incredibly endearing together. This was the film that made me stand up and take notice of LaBeouf as a serious actor.

Overall, I think this is a very lovely film and is the sort of film we need right now when times seem so dark. It will have you smiling and cheering throughout. A must watch for sure.

Pros.

Gottsagen

LaBeouf

Johnson

The relationships between the 3

A small appearance by Yelawolf

Cons

None

5/5

Reviewed by Luke  

The Princess Diaries: The Disney Formula

The Princess Diaries is a comedy family film directed by Garry Marshal. The plot sees Mia (Anne Hathaway), find out that she is the next in line for a fancy foreign throne, but will she accept the mantle of Princess and future Queen?

This is your stereotypical Disney film, every girl become a Princess standard wish fulfilment. Nothing new there. However, despite the lack of originality I found the predictability of this film some what comforting, the film as a whole defines the term ‘comfort viewing’, there is nothing challenging to it, it is just warm turn your brain off fun.

Hathaway does a commendable job in the role; she is very easy to root for and her transformation feels earned; even if the ending feels overly sentimental and a bit forced. For those people who make insane internet conspiracy videos about how celebrities are vampires, you will find something to write about here as Hathaway looks very similar to how she looks now in the current year of 2020; it’s a bit trippy.

I enjoyed the relationship Mia has with her Grandmother Clarisse (Julie Andrews), the current Queen, I thought by the end of the film it felt quite genuine. Andrews character is definitely one that grows on you overtime, as I found myself liking her more and more as the film went on.

Overall, this is your standard Disney fare, you know what you’re getting if predictability and a lack of surprises sounds like comfort and safety to you right now then this is the film for you.   

Pros.

Anne Hathaway

Julie Andrews

Safety in predictability.

Disney charm.

Cons.

It is predictable as hell.

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke