Mothering Sunday: Prepare To Be Depressed

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Set in a post WWI Britain this film tells the tale of Jane, played by Odessa Young, a maid who falls in love with a wealthy man, played by Josh O’ Connor.

This film was fairly bleak across the board. With the amount of death and heartbreak in it one questions whether this is even a romance film, or whether it is simply a drama about the impacts of post war trauma and gilded cages. I was so depressed by the end of this film that I had to watch something happy and upbeat almost straight away, be warned.

Moreover, the film has a needless amount of nudity throughout. This goes in both directions and feels as though it has just been stuffed in to give a shock to the older market that would usually come out for this sort of fare. Rather than feeling daring, or perhaps subversive, this instead feels incredibly try hardy.

For positives I would say that this film is certainly watchable, Colin Firth and Olivia Colman both give strong performances even if they are only featured infrequently. However, The leads seem far too detached for most of the film, which makes it hard to care about either of them, or even the film itself at times.

Overall, I am curious who this was made for?

Pros.

It is watchable and Firth and Colman give good performances

Cons.

The excessive amount of nudity

It is depressing

It is hard to care about any of the characters

It is terribly paced

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Good Luck To You, Leo Grande: A Sexual Prime Is Never Over

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After the death of her husband a woman, played by Emma Thompson, grapples with rediscovering her sexuality.

I think this film is a marvel. Not least for what it does in terms of pushing age boundaries in Hollywood and reconstructing the idea of a nude scene, but also because it is so earnest and tender.

For the most part the film is a series of conversations in a room between Thompson and a male prostitute, played by Daryl McCormack, who she hires. This could easily have become very boring and drawn out however, the film does a great job of exploring these characters and allowing us to see further and further past their carefully crafted masks as the film progress.

Furthermore, I thought the conversations between the two often became very heartfelt and insightful, not only reflecting the struggles of life but also the very notion of British repression. I thought the two actors had great chemistry together and the screen really came alive when they were interacting.

Overall, I thought it was a wonderfully thoughtful film.

Pros.

Thompson

McCormack

The writing and the insight

The feel good nature of the film

It made me smile frequently

Cons.

It certainly won’t be for everyone  

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The Starling: A Favourite Film Of Guantanamo Bay

0.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A couple cope after the sudden death of their child.

Boy this film was badly on quite a number of different levels. However, I think one of the roots causes of this film being awful was the casting of Melissa McCarthy. Some people would argue that like Adam Sandler that McCarthy cam be good in the odd dramatic role here and there, the same people would point to her performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me? However, I would argue that her performance in that film was nothing more than a fluke, and that by and large she is only capable of giving one kind of performance loud and obnoxious, and that is true in whatever film she is in comedic or dramatic. It certainly is true here.

It has to be said though that the failings of this film cannot be entirely blamed on McCarthy, as the script is also frequently terrible, being not only overly sentimental but also incredibly tonally off at times. There is a scene in this film wherein the message seems to be that it is okay to be angry at suicidal people for being that way which sends a hell of a bad message even if that is not how the writer intended it to come across.

Overall, the film is incredibly generic, it is the very definition of the kind of trash we have collectively come to expect from a Netflix original over the years.

Pros.

Timothy Olyphant is always great and a welcome presences

Cons.

McCarthy

It is very generic

It has a bad message

The tone is all wrong

It borders over-sentimentality

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It’s A Wonderful Afterlife: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past Got Real

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A mother, played by Shabana Azmi, becomes so obsessed with who her daughter, played by Goldy Notay, is going to marry that she starts killing people who she views as getting in the way or to have slighted her daughter. Sadly for her these people later come back as ghosts that haunt her every waking moment.

I thought this film had a lot of charm, is it the best film ever? No. However, there is more than enough to enjoy here. I liked the spin this film put on the idea of the traditional mother worried about daughter being single storyline and thought the added horror comedy elements really helped to bring it all together in a strong way.

I thought a lot of the jokes landed and I found myself laughing a fair bit throughout, I thought Sally Hawkins’ best friend character had all the best lines, though maybe some would say these days there was an element of cultural appropriation within her character.

My main issue with this film is as it so often is the pace of the film. I thought the film was overly long and had too many needless asides and sub-plots, it could have been a lot better if it had been half an hour shorter is what I would say.

Overall, above average though not quite up to the level of Gurinder Chadha’s later work Blinded By The Light though few films are.

Pros.

It is a lot of fun

The performances are good

Sally Hawkins

Cons.

It is too long

A few of the jokes don’t age well

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Flight Attendant Season Two: An Eight Episode AA Meeting

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The plot this time around sees Cassie, played by Kaley Cuoco, seemingly being framed for murder whilst also having to work through her alcoholism.

I enjoyed this season slightly less than the first, and though I do think there is still a reason for this show to exist and that the second season is not totally unnecessary, I do think that the show can do with improving if it is going to go onto a third season.

I liked that Max and Annie, played by Zosia Mamet and Deniz Akdeniz, were given far bigger roles and I thought it was a good idea to even give them their own side stories as well, it really helped to strengthen some of the weaker moments and to add some much needed comedic relief.  

The darker tone and the more intense focus on Cassie’s alcoholism is an issue for the show as far as I am concerned as though it is for the most part good character work it does become a bit too bleak and hard to watch at times, and last I checked this was a comedy drama series. My issue is that this season spent a lot of time focusing on these sad elements and that made it less enjoyable to watch.

Overall, the darker tone and deep dive into Cassie’s alcoholism makes this show hard to watch at times and makes you question whether it is still fun to watch, however, there is still enough good elements to keep you around.

Pros.
Mamet and Akdeniz

An engaging mystery

Fun to be had

The ending

Cons.

It is bleak and hard to watch at times

They give the alcoholism stuff far too much focus

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France: A Highbrow Satire That Won’t Leave Many Laughing

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A well respected French journalist, played by Léa Seydoux, decides to quit her job and seek new horizons after she has a road traffic accident that leads to someone else getting hurt.

In many ways I think the humour of this film just didn’t register with me, there were a few lines that made me laugh and I think the film did manage to formulate some competent satire of the modern media landscape at times, but for the most part the jokes left me cold. This could be humour lost in translation that if I was French I would understand and appreciate or it could just be my subjective comedic tastes not aligning with this film.

I think the biggest issues I had with this film is that the tone seemed so all over the place, at times coming across as a drama and other times as a dark comedy. The issue with trying for both is that often neither comes off well, this was certainly the case here as both the dramatic elements and the comedic elements felt underdeveloped.

The performances were good and I can’t fault Seydoux she did all she could to keep this film together, a valiant effort, however, it wasn’t enough.

The worst crime of this film is that it can be labelled as boring.

Overall, Seydoux tries her best but this film just doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be and comes across as boring.  

Pros.

A few funny lines

Seydoux

Cons.

A lot of the humour doesn’t land

The split focus

It is boring

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Everything Everywhere All At Once: Mothers Can Be Saviors Or Destroyers

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Evelyn Quan Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh, is a dissatisfied wife and business owner who becomes alerted to her multiversal significance.

In many respects the idea of multiverses in cinema is quickly becoming played out, a trend bound for death. However, I won’t be so cynical to say that the multiverse formatting can’t yet provide us with some interesting ideas, insights and emotions. This film proves that through the idea of a multiverse greater philosophies can be debated and explored, and the inner workings of the human mind can truly be taken apart and examined.

I really enjoyed the character work in this film as well as the mother daughter focus. Yes, I did think that having Evelyn’s daughter Joy, played by Stephanie Hsu, being the villain was a little obvious and on the nose, however, I also thought that despite this the film used their relationship to create fantastic emotional stakes and to nicely examine the concepts of motherhood.

The thing that many people will take from this film is how strange it is, there are often abstract and surrealist elements featured throughout the run of the film, and I think in many cases you aren’t supposed to fully understand what is going on so that you can form your own interpretation of events. I appreciated how strange this film got.  

Overall, a fun film that won’t be for everyone but is well worth your time all the same.

Pros.

Yeoh

Hsu

The broader themes

The abstract strangeness

Cons.

The pacing, the film is on for way too long   

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The Social Network: Was Mark Zuckerberg Ever Human?

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The story of the founding of Facebook.

I have seen this film well over 5 times it is just so good. The team of Fincher and Sorkin really come together to deliver something amazing here. The dialogue scenes are so impactful and tightly done that each one feels like its own mini action sequence, Fincher keeps the stakes up throughout the film and in my mind does justice to his subject.

I think this film for the most part doesn’t show Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jessie Eisenberg, as either good or bad but rather as just a human being who has seen some troubles in his life. I think Eisenberg is near perfect in the role and I don’t see how anyone else could have played the part, this is probably Eisenberg’s finest performance to date. Moreover, this film features Andrew Garfield which is always a good sign and he too has a strong turn here.

My main issue with the film is that the Napster stuff with Justin Timberlake feels quite like filler and doesn’t really need to be in the film, I think the piece as a whole would be tighter without it.

Overall, a magnificent biopic let down by a needless sub-plot

Pros.

Fincher

Sorkin

Eisenberg

The drama

Cons.

Timberlake and the Napster side plot

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Downton Abbey A New Era: Everyone Likes A Trip To The South Of France

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two interconnected stories of a trip to the south of France and a film shoot.

I never watched the Downton Abbey series and only went to see this film and the one before it because my girlfriend likes the show, but I have to say I did find a lot to like about this film. Most notably it has just the right amount of heart, making you laugh and making you cry in equal measures even I who have no attachment to these characters found it hard to not well up in the end.

Moreover, the film moves along at a nice pace and never starts to feel slow or boring you are constantly being entertained from start to finish. By that same token the performances across the board are fantastic with everyone involved giving it their all, if I had to pick a favourite I would probably say Hugh Dancy’s Jack Barber as he was a very welcome addition to the usual line-up.

I also enjoyed that this film gave Barrow, played by Robert James-Collier, a love interest and was not afraid to pursue an LGBTQ+ romance, I thought not only was it very progressive for the film but it also became the main source of heart in the film, by the end I was really hoping they could be happy together.

Overall, a good time and a lot of fun, even if like me you aren’t a huge Downton fan.

Pros.

The jokes

The emotion

The performances

The LGBTQ+ representation

The ending

Cons.

The brother sub-plot really goes nowhere

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Whiplash: The Bloodiest Drum Kit You Will Likely Ever See

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller, has the world’s worst student experience.

Previously I have not liked Miles Teller as a performer, he often gives off a very smug and irritating air that I find ruins a lot of his performances for me, however, here I thought he was first class. Teller brought a lot to this film, you really felt the character’s pain both physical and mental over the course of the film. Moreover, I thought this character’s journey to greatness was incredibly inspirational and I thought a lot of that had to do with Teller’s performance.

In addition, I hadn’t been a great fan of Damien Chazelle’s other films La La Land and First Man did little for me in either case. However, I thought this film was incredibly effecting and one of the tensest films I have ever seen, the battle between Neiman and his abusive conductor, played by J.K Simmons, was marvellous and never let up.

Simmons was fantastic as well and truly deserved the Oscar for his performance, he portrayed the character in such a flawed and layered way that you are never quite sure how you feel about him, on the one hand he is incredibly abusive but on the other he really does want Neiman to be the best he can be.

Overall, a powerful film.

Pros.

Simmons

Teller

The tension

The emotion

Cons.

The pacing, it could have been better being about 15 minutes shorter with a tighter edit of the second act  

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