The Tourist (2010)

Looking for a tense romance thriller? Then this is the first calling. Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. What more is wanted?

Angelina Jolie plays Elise Clifton-Ward, a woman the police have their eye on. A very close eye on to say the least; following her every move. Behind all this following is a crazed detective, a detective extremely determined in solving his case, one which we know has been going on for quite a while and has been rather unsuccessful. But Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany) will not give up until he has found Alexander Pearce. A man the audience does not know who he is, why he is wanted until further in or what he looks like. An element of the film the audience is engaged in and intrigued until the very end; to say the least, they do it well. All we know is that Elise is in love with this man and only she knows how to find him.

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But where does Johnny Depp come into this. Because I’m sure many are huge fans of the amazing Johnny Depp. I am, of course! From him being the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Jack Sparrow in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Edward Scissorhands’, there’s too many! Anyway, the point is, you hear Johnny Depp and you know it’ll be a good watch. And ‘The Tourist’ isn’t any different. He plays Frank, a down to earth character, one that is comical and naïve to the situation Elise has put him in. A simple math teacher that Elise just happens to be sitting next to on the train, well not so coincidental, she does choose him in her plan. A plan to convince everyone else that he is Alexander Pearce, so this poor math teacher from Wisconsin is brought into the situation, being shot at and his life threatened repeatedly, a tourist caught into the wraps.

Bring in an angry, violent British gangster (Steven Berkoff) determined to find the man who stole from him and it just adds an emergency tension to the film. A more specific edge of violence and threatening Frank even more, even if he is a character we love so much. ‘The Tourist’ is a very thrilling tense film, but one that is very enjoyable. One that has a mixture of action and romance thrown within.

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The actors are perfect and the tension of the film is amazing in intriguing the audience and bringing them in until the final second of the film, one that is never a disappointment. So if you are looking for a film which will grab your attention, make you occasionally giggle and route for Frank, then this is the perfect and only choice.

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The Misogynist (2011)

‘The Misogynist’ is a creative and unique short film. There is definitely a particular essence to the film which is so different to others; although I liked this difference. It went well with the film especially the plot.

The camera is something that has to be pointed out. The use of the camera was very unique and varied in shots. There were extreme close ups, long shots, medium shots, everything. But what I liked the most is that there were moments where the camera followed the character, but contrasting mostly that it was completely still. Moments where the only thing moving was the character himself, the landscape quiet and still, just vast empty spaces the main protagonist was walking into. This gave such a unique style to the film that should be appreciated.

So anyway, the plot of the short film. The film lasts just over 12 minutes, however a lot is said. But cleverly, there actually isn’t much dialogue, a lot is said in the silence of the moments; although a lot is said when they are actually talking as well, more than you think. The main protagonist is husband, Harlan (Pascal Yen-Pfister), a photographer struggling to find his new project to shoot; to give him his edge and his own personal style. There are also two other characters, ones that contribute to two different parts of Harlan’s life. The wife (Rhea Sandstrom) mostly contributes to the life at home situation, while she is constantly at work, Harlan is struggling with his new project. You can tell from the beginning, there is a trouble in this marriage. The camera represents this distance between the characters. Significantly she does tie in with the life of photography but only because she is the symbol of what Harlan’s new project is based upon. The other character is W.D. Frost (Timothy Cox), who manipulates the photography part. We are told about Harlan’s career and his difficulty he is going through in regards to his photography. We discover through W.D Frost that something isn’t quite right when he gives his first selection of pictures.

I would recommend this film for a unique stylistic short film that has quite an eerie, creepy feel to it. A film that represents a bit of foreshadowing and many various camera styles. So did Harlan ever find his new edge for his photography?

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Well to say that Disney films have changed considerably would be an understatement. Of course there has been a massive boost in technology and the whole look of the film appears different. Although, saying this we can never disregard our first Disney Princess and our first ever Disney Classic, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’! And we can never forget her when so many have come after, we have to travel back to 1937 when she was the only one around. Right to the beginning.

Now I’m going to assume that everyone must know the story of ‘Snow White’, it seems bizarre to me if people don’t. But then again, part of me wouldn’t be surprised as more children now-a-days are growing up with the Disney likes of Rapunzel, Elsa and Anna. So just in case people don’t know, Snow White is a young princess who lives a bright singing life, until the jealous Queen, her step-mother, orders her most faithful Huntsman to kill her. But of course, he cannot kill the fairest of them all, poor young Snow. Into the woods she goes, petrified at the beginning, but she soon finds some friends, seven of them in fact. Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy, Sleepy, Grumpy, and never forgetting, my all-time favourite, Dopey.

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I’m going to admit I haven’t seen this Disney Classic in a long time. But I always remember when I went to Florida and I dressed up as Snow White; as a young girl of short dark hair, I always pictured myself as Snow White before any other Princess. I know a lot of children do this, but I feel Snow White is sometimes a bit underappreciated. So as a film night with my flat we chose this old, yet classic, Princess. And yes we’re all about 20 years old, but you know what, Disney is never for a single age. And that’s the best thing about it.

‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ is a film revolved about a lot of music, in every single second of the film, there is always some sort of humming, whistling, dancing, singing, or even just instrumental music in the background. I particularly love the quite long scene of them all dancing, playing instruments and singing along; you can tell it’s just a film to make the audience have a good time, to find it enjoyable. And what better way than to add comical moments to get the audience giggling? The audience will love all the animals, because Snow White, to say the least, is a character who is revolved around many animals. As you probably know, most Princesses have some sort of animal side-kick, Ariel has Flounder, Rapunzel has Pascal, Pocahontas has Meeko, and Cinderella has the mice. However, Snow White, has rabbits, deer, birds, squirrels, racoons… However, outshining them all, the turtle or tortoise, I don’t know. Looking from a child’s perspective, the audience would love all of them. They are silly and very comical. As are the seven dwarfs, if it be Grumpy walking into a door, or Dopey’s continuous dopey-ness.

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As this film is predominantly for children, the audience is told everything, all of the Queen’s plans so there are no surprises and the children don’t find it scary. However, I don’t think this makes a difference for an older audience, why should it? You watch this film for the enjoyment and escapism, not to be surprised in what is going to happen. We know the Queen is bad, she’s associated with animals like vultures and crows, not the prettiest of birds. There is also the extensive use of pathetic fallacy, a lot of rain and lightning bolts when the Queen is about.

Something very different I noticed in this film, ignoring the technology and the fact that all Snow White can really do is things in this household and she is clearly domesticated; however that’s a different argument, that’s thankfully all changed now, seen through Elsa’s own empowerment in ‘Frozen’. But ignoring that, the beginning and the end of the film, show sections of a book, which is cute to add to the Fairy Tale idea, but you have to read it, and I know this sounds completely pathetic, but I just noticed how different that was presented to how it would be now as there would definitely be a off-screen narrator.

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I would recommend watching ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. You can’t be a fan of Disney Classics when you’ve never even seen the first one! She teaches children to be happy and to dream big, but also more serious in cleanliness as she teaches the dwarfs to wash before they eat. She is a Disney Princess that is different from others, guaranteed, but also one that shouldn’t be forgotten. Besides she was the first!

Boyz N The Hood (1991)

‘Boyz N The Hood’ is a film based around a Los Angeles community, where to say the least has a lot of crime. If you’re looking for any easy watch, this is not the one. This film has violence, non-stop sirens, guns, alcohol, and to say it swears would be a large understatement. But what this film does is focus on many social problems, including race, friendship, relationships and growing up.

‘Boyz N The Hood’ focusses round one group of friends, most in particular three young adults. Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr), Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Darren ‘Doughboy’ (Ice Cube). All these characters couldn’t be more different. We see a lot about Tre, a young boy who is sent by his mother (Angela Bassett) to live with his father (Laurence Fishburne) to learn what it is to be a man. The father then raises him, to have morals such as independence, responsibility, thought behind actions and to not be influenced by the community around him, to avoid what happens to a lot of the other people in the neighbourhood; either being shot, in jail, or teenage pregnancy. The father, Furious, is really a character to appreciate in this film; despite everything you know what he says is heart-felt and for the right reasons. Now moving on to the next of the three, someone a bit like Tre but has fallen in one of the categories Furious steers his son away from, teenage pregnancy. At the age of seventeen, Ricky has a son, however this does not stop him from dreaming big and hoping to get the results he wishes in life, actually makes him work harder for it. A very lovable character, especially by his mother, whereas his brother, his mother doesn’t appreciate as much. This is Darren, or what others call him, Doughboy. Doughboy from the age of ten is arrested for the first time, and continuously from then he is in and out of jail. Although, there is so much more to his character, which makes him so much more interesting even if he makes the wrong decisions. So like I said a variety of characters there.

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I love how this film is structured. The first chunk of the film is actually based around the group of friends at the age of ten. We experience how they are when they are young, then the film jumps seven years ahead and we can tell how much has changed or what routes they have taken. I feel like this is definitely needed in the film as it gives a background story to all the characters which helps the audience appreciate them all in their own way.

I really enjoyed this film (as a crime film obviously) as it is cleverly done, however you have to be in the right mind-set. There isn’t any feel-good moments really, nor any comedy of course; but rather tense and a sense that something bad is going to happen. It definitely pulls on heart-strings as you like characters, but things don’t turn out the right way. It’s a very moralistic film to say the least. So I would recommend watching ‘Boyz N The Hood’. Go ahead and experience the life of Tre, Ricky and Doughboy for an excellent crime film.

The Trouble With Uncle Max (2016)

There’s a plan and a route Sonya (Arianna Danae) and Joe (Nathaniel Sylva) want to take. However, their plan to kill Sonya’s Uncle Max (Bill Taylor) isn’t as easy as she thought.

I feel this film is one that isn’t meant to be an easy watch, relating round the obvious crime of the plot, the film is quite dark, especially the lighting as the film proceeds. It also turns tense quite quickly. Additionally, I feel the audience isn’t supposed to like many of the characters by the end, as we are exposed to many more things. I wouldn’t say these things are a bad thing, quite the opposite; giving a unique edge to the film and one that should be appreciated as an opposite to all those Blockbuster, Hollywood films we’re so used to now-a-days. So if you’re looking for a different sort of film, but one that is still as intriguing as all the others, I would recommend this one.

This film only lasts just over twenty minutes (as it is a short film), but cleverly tells so much. Within small parts of the film, it is leading towards the end, an end which leaves Joe in a situation he didn’t want to be in. But I have to mention the last couple of seconds, before the credits, just showing how much attention needs to be paid to this film. It really is clever. From the beginning of the film the audience are brought in, unsure to what is happening. We are told so many things from little aspects but they don’t seem to add up completely until things are verified more clearly. There are small indications, for example a name tag telling us who the main protagonist is, so when she is called we understand her situation more; a picture in Joe’s car, telling the audience he must love his girlfriend very much. Little things like this all add to the bigger picture of the plot and it is very clever. These continuous close ups are very good in drawing the audience’s attention to certain things.

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Furthermore, the actors are very good, especially Bill Taylor playing Uncle Max, as he quickly shows how obsessed he is with his “Screwdriver” alcoholic drink and that he must be quite abusive towards Sonya. Arianna Danae also plays Sonya well; you understand the pain she’s going through pretty quickly. But then it suddenly escalates and maybe there’s more to her. The director, Rufus Chaffee has been very clever in how things are already escalated to murder, as it gives the audience a sense of past and future, a sense that there has been so much before this film that we don’t know about, but must be pretty awful if it’s already risen to these thoughts already.

So if you’re looking for a tense 20 minute short film, I would recommend this one. It is unique in style and one that draws the audience in. Besides don’t you want to know why Sonya found it so difficult, or what in fact happens in those last few minutes?

 

 

If you think this is a film you would enjoy, ‘The Trouble With Uncle Max’ is available to be streamed or downloaded at www.vimeo.com/ondemand/unclemax.

You Again (2010)

This comedy romance is a brilliant film to lose sense of your own world for a while and fall into the world of Marni’s and her life she didn’t expect of her brother’s wedding. Kristen Bell (voice of Anna in ‘Frozen’) is brilliant as Marni, she plays the upset and raged sister when her world is thrown upside down as she discovers her brother, Will (James Wolk), is marrying her arch nemesis, ie. the girl who single-handedly ruined her childhood and bullied her throughout high school, Joanna (Odette Annable). Ploottt Twiiist. Not really, that’s just the plot…

This film is filled with hilarious moments, feeling sorry for Marni in awkward situations as the weekend turns into a sequel of a horror story in her own words. Marni goes back to her home town, Ridgefield, travelling back to her high school ways. A weekend of hell for her, she finds it difficult dealing with her new-found sister especially when it seems she’s changed into such a better person now. And things change up again when Joanna’s Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) turns up – the one and only ex best friend of Marni’s mother, Gail (played amazingly (of course) by Jamie Lee Curtis – flashback to ‘Freaky Friday’). This film is filled with hilarious moments for the audience to see mostly from Marni’s point of view, her hurt past coming into light. But also Gail’s confusion over the friendship break up with Ramona. This film should be appreciated, it is brilliant, there are some seriously cringe-worthy moments however, especially the ‘Toxic’ competitive dancing. But then again, it’s done well enough where you don’t want to look away but laugh instead.

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Throw in Joanna’s crazy ex Tim (Kyle Bornheimer); a very over the top wedding planner Georgia (played by the brilliant Kristin Chenoweth); a younger brother (I think he’s a younger brother, I’m not actually sure) Ben (William Brent); hilarious Grandma Bunny (played excellently by Betty White – also the Grandma in ‘The Proposal’); and of course the best friend of Will and the high school crush of Marni’s, Charlie (Sean Wing). This just adds to the brilliance of this film, and makes it that much enjoyable. Grandma Bunny needs extra mention, she is so funny, just in her occasional moments are memorable and great. Plus there are some very recognisable actors, one such as Dwayne Johnson perhaps… even only for like two minutes.

One of the best things is that Marni is such a loveable character for the audience. She creates many heart-felt moments for the audience, we feel saddened at her high school life but we feel happy at where she has achieved and got to now. Everything she does, we see from her point of view. Do remember this film is a PG, and not a 12 or above, so it is quite moralistic in many ways, especially when looking at bullying in school and giving people second chances. There are moments of obvious comedy, moments of happy cute couples, moments of laughter again, then sad, then happy again. This film is very clever in how it controls the audience.

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So if you think this sounds like a film you would enjoy, I would highly recommend it. It’s a great film to escape into for an hour or so. So go and see how this family’s life turns out, it’s only one wedding, how bad can things actually get?

Wild Child (2008)

A year after ‘St Trinian’s’, comes another boarding school based film. And again there is one who does not fit in, but not because she’s a good girl going into a hectic school, but the opposite; a rebellious, disobedient American 16 year old being sent to boarding school in England to learn some life lessons.

Now, it might seem from that description that I don’t like the film, but do not jump to that conclusion. Yes, I love ‘St Trinian’s’, and I love ‘Wild Child’. ‘Wild Child’ is definitely one of those cheesy chick-flicks to fall in love with, a proper teenage based film, to say the least.

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This comical romance/friendship building film is based around Poppy, “Moore Poppy Moore”; played by Emma Roberts (recognisable from a variety of similar genre films, such as ‘We’re The Millers’, but also Nancy Drew herself). When she pushes her father to the limit for the last time, he sends her to Abbey Mount School (the most stereotypical version of a British school ever…); and to say the least she acts pretty stubbornly about the whole situation. However, the great thing about this film, is of course she is meant to be like that, the school is supposed to change her, as we grow to love her character and become to understand the reasons she is that way in the first place. Poppy tries to boss around her new roommates (ones she believed she shouldn’t be living with anyway – in her eyes supposed to be having a room to herself), but her roommates fight back, trying to get her to pull to the new ways of this different school; however in the end just trying to help her leave instead. These roommates are Kate (Kimberley Nixon), Drippy (Juno Temple – also in ‘St Trinian’s, but also one of the fairies in ‘Maleficent’), Kiki (Sophie Wu) and finally Josie (Linzey Cocker). Additionally, I can’t forget to mention that obviously there is a rivalry between Poppy and another girl, the head girl in particular, Harriet (Georgia King). And how could I forget? The romance element? Bring in Freddie (Alex Pettyfer), a guy who is out of bounds (obviously). A great addition to the film, I have to add.

Amongst all this, ignoring the very stereotypical views of both the English and the American, ‘Wild Child’ has many moments that are hilarious, such as sassy comebacks from Poppy. There are hilarious moments with one teacher in particular, Mr Nellist (Jason Watkins). It’s just a cute, feel-good movie. I would say based for a very particular audience, if you couldn’t already tell. There are also some other recognisable actors, Shirley Henderson for example (very famous – but some people round my age would probably recognise her as Moaning Myrtle); there is also a brilliant scene with the excellent Nick Frost (of course a comical actor, in films such as ‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘Paul’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’).

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The music is great in how it connects to the film, making it that much more enjoyable. There are also some pretty dramatic scenes, but who cares? It just adds to the comedy and amusement of the film, or in some cases, the dramatic element definitely adds a seriousness in a scene in particular. But there are also some pretty great scenes, going from Lacrosse matches to town, to the ‘Movie Magic’ school dance. There are many scenes that are different from all the others and should all be appreciated in my opinion.

So if you are the appropriate audience, or if you just think this would be a feel-good film for you to watch, then I would recommend it. It’s such an easy watch as you witness Poppy’s mission to leave Abbey Mount and return to her Malibu life. So why not go discover who they are? If they know anyway… “Who are we?!”