A Simple Favour (2018)

This trailer executed a film full of suspicion and thrilling moments, one full of secrets and mystery. It definitely peaked my interest and want to watch it. Additionally, throw in Anna Kendrick – who I love from ‘Pitch Perfect’ and ‘Trolls’ – and Blake Lively – who is fabulous but also remembered as the scandalous Serena van der Woodson in ‘Gossip Girl’ – and I immediately thought the film couldn’t get much better to get me to watch it. The advertisement for this film seemed everywhere, and eventually I found the time to go to see it in cinema. To so much despair, I was left feeling deflated, underwhelmed and exhausted from sitting so long and enjoying little.

Two mums meet as their sons’ bond, on an unwilling playdate, the women become unlikely friends. Two complete opposite characters. Then one goes missing…

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I spent the whole film waiting for something to happen, for the thing to happen, and I never felt it came. Everything seemed too predictable, or if there was something shocking it wasn’t executed to the shock factor, instead I just found the truth when the main protagonist did; this was so slow, it wasn’t a big reveal, it was a slow recognition. Most of the secrets were actually visually played out with explanation, so again that didn’t help with any secrecy or mystery. I have to admit, there were a few ‘wow, it’s going to get good now!’ moments, but then I was slowly dropped back down again. It seemed like it had a long beginning, but at the same time, one not long enough to be fully explained, and then a long middle and end, an unsatisfactory end.

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It wasn’t all bad! I didn’t mind the characters, Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick are both great actresses and they played their parts well. Although I think we found out a bit too much of Blake Lively’s character, but the right amount of Anna Kendrick’s, even if I didn’t want to know… They were characters that felt quite real even if messed up in their own lives. Additionally, I loved the costumes, all clothing seemed perfect to all of the scenes, to add to their characters, to add to their personalities. And to add to the genre and potential suspicion. Along with this, was also the brilliance of the music, it again added to the scenes extremely well.

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As a whole, I think I just expected a lot more than what was actually there. With such a brilliantly open trailer there was so much for the mind to ponder over, but the imagination from the trailer almost ruined the film as it was lacking. The film also has a lot of swearing and some sexual scenes, so it’s definitely a film for older ages. Overall, I was let-down.

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Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

This drama is a biography of the life of the writer of Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne. I don’t know about you, but a life story of the writer of Winnie the Pooh is definitely not a history I had stored in my general knowledge. So I went into this film having no knowledge of what was going to happen or how these figures would react, other than Alan Milne eventually writing the childhood spectacular of Winnie and his friends. What I didn’t expect was to be blubbing throughout the film, it was a beautifully heart-wrenching film.

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The true story is inspired by one family, the Milne’s. The father, Alan Milne (Domhnall Gleeson), is nicknamed Blue, this is what he is mostly referred to as. Once a soldier in the First World War, Alan struggles with war-related flashbacks in uncontrollable states of bright lights, loud noises and sudden movements, you watch as this man struggles with his own hearing and sight but tries to hide himself in writing books. In constant fear of war, he retreats him and his family to the countryside to move away from the loud noises that haunt him so much. Soon he feels his books and plays are not making the difference he wants to make, he wants to stop all wars, to find any possibility to end another war, especially when he has a son. Daphne Milne (Margot Robbie), the wife and mother, is a complicated character. Her harsh ways but loving appearances are confusing to understand her charisma, but deep down she’s a character in agony of bearing a son when she believes there to be another war he will have to partake in. Both of these characters are riddled with reality confusions and are lost in their own despairs, that when the young boy grows up he never has much connection with either parent having been brought up by his Nanny (Kelly Macdonald).

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This little boy of course is Christopher Robin, but from a young age he was called Billy Moon by his family. He has so much love for his Nanny Nou as she was always more of a parent than his actual parents. But when she has to leave for personal reasons and the mother is also away, father and son are forced to spend time together like they’ve never before. This is when the exploration of the woods comes to life as young boy and father play and pretend of wild animals and bears. The creation of Winnie the Pooh is beautifully done as Billy Moon plays in the woods with his beloved teddy bear and illustrator draws the simplicity of Christopher Robin and his best friend. The contrasts and edits of the film create a truth in the children’s books coming to life as they did when first wrote.

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As the success of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh grows the harder is becomes for poor Billy Moon to cling onto his own childhood and his story. The film progresses through the life of the family as a lot of things change. Emotional and heart-felt, this drama cleverly plays on the audience’s emotions as anything could happen, but as a constant reminder this is the true story. The actors and actresses are brilliant as their real-life characters come into play in reality on film, every word is hung to as what was said. As the film passes through life, the movement of time has to be done well, which of course it is, the characters look older perfectly. You really do fall into this British beautiful drama of the Milne’s struggles and realities of creating a phenomenal children’s story.

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‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ was a true eye-opener to the effects of a successful book has on one family, even though they were the ones successful. The young boy could never have his story to himself ever again, it was always to be shared with the rest of the world. But on the other hand, Winnie the Pooh created a happiness in childhoods all around the world and is still remembered today, cherished in children’s memories of the wonders of a bear in the woods and all of his friends’ beloved.

Footloose (2011)

A remake of the famous 80s music film, from Kevin Bacon to probably less famous actors and actresses, but to dancers, amazing ones, and isn’t that all you need in a film such as this one. With the amazing and fun song that’s always remembered of this film, NOW I GOTTA CUT LOOSE, FOOTLOOSE, KICK OFF THE SUNDAY SHOES, PLEASE, LOUISE, PULL ME OFF OF MY KNEES, JACK, GET BACK… ok I’ll stop. It’s very catchy. You either love it or you hate it, and that’s the same for this film. Now I actually haven’t seen the original version, so I can’t compare the two. This will be a review standing on its own.

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Welcome to the town of Bomont, a town of unusual rules and laws. But simply explained. The film starts with a three year flashback, of a town tragedy, sudden and horrific, five seniors die in a car accident after returning from a party. Laws are put in place, curfews, laws against drinking, alcohol. Public dancing is banned. Three years on, we notice a new guy in town, Ren (Kenny Wormald) from Boston, moving in with his Uncle Wes (Ray McKinnon) after his own personal tragedy. We soon find out he’s not used to the small town kind of life, Ren is a character loved with a smart-ass, sarcastic attitude. Quickly misunderstood, he just tries to fit in but keeps getting lost in things getting him in trouble. We also get to know another character, Ariel (Julianne Hough). Her brother was the one driving the car three years before, so she’s been living in agony, she’s a character troubled and very complicated. Seemingly confident and gets what she wants, she’s actually very lost and broken. She’s an interesting character. As the film goes on, Ren and Ariel have more moments together and truth leaks out about her issues and her controlled father issues and her rebellion. Because of the intensity of the characters and the deep backgrounds they both have, I would say this film is more drama than anything else. There isn’t as many songs and dances as you would think, replacing this are some difficult scenes, heartfelt or heart-breaking, particularly with Ariel.

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My favourite character, Willard, is played by the brilliant Miles Teller. His character has to be appreciated. He’s really funny and his development of dance skills is one of the best scenes. He’s a hot-head where usually most of his scenes contain him getting into a fight. I love watching his character grow. ‘Footloose’ is a great, feel-good movie. The songs have to be mentioned, as I already have mentioned the classic Footloose song. But also there are some other great songs, the slowed version of Holding out for a Hero is beautiful and suited to the scenes it is placed, and the country line dance scene is brilliant, obviously with the amazing dancers, but also with the great Fake I.D. song they dance too. There is one angry dance scene which personally I find a tad awkward, ok very awkward… Nevertheless, the dancing and music has to be appreciated as it makes you want to dance along.

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This remake of ‘Footloose’ has great dancers, has great songs, and a fun but heart-felt storyline. It’s not the simple ban on public dancing that wants to be broken blah blah, because there is actually more to it than that because of the complicated characters I’ve already mentioned. Regardless, ‘Footloose’ is fun and very enjoyable, and back in the day I watched it on repeat. And yes, it is very predictable, but oh well! If you think this would be a film for you, I would recommend it, although I understand it’s a film of particular taste. Get up and dance with the film, because why not?

The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants (2005)

I love this film. You could say it’s a chickflick, but I think there is so much more to it than the simple ‘chickflick’ phrase that tends to be stereotypically stemmed with films ‘girly’ or cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love chickflicks, but this film is on a different level with some great moving moments and some hard-hitting realities. It’s not just a film of best friend teenagers being separated, although this element definitely does make it chick-flicky, but that’s not a bad thing!

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The plot is a story of four best friends experiencing their first summer away from each other since birth. While shopping, they find a pair of jeans that happens to fit all of them perfectly. They then make a pact to send the jeans to each other wherever they are in the summer and write what they did while wearing them, this was their way to stay in contact and share something over summer, even if they weren’t together. It might sound cheesy, and it is a little, but stick with it because there is so much more than a pair of jeans, or pants if you’re American. We follow their stories, that become so real and the audience does become invested. These four characters couldn’t be further opposites if they tried, and that’s what makes this film great. They are all different and they all tell their own summer story, throwing in a variety of things to watch for. Firstly, the one who mostly narrates at the start and the end, even though the others do chip in, is Carmen (America Ferrera). Carmen’s story is travelling to South Carolina to visit her absentee father. Her summer with her father doesn’t go to plan when his life isn’t what she assumed. Next is my favourite character, Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), she’s the rebel of the group. Her summer is staying at home working in a store and trying to create her own documentary as her passion is film. On the way, she ends up, not of her own decision, gaining an assistant, who participates in a major role of her summer. Then there’s ‘Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively as Bridget. Bridget’s summer is heading off to Football Camp in Mexico. Bridget is competitive and at front with who she is, but deep down there is so much more to her. I do have to admit, some of her scenes are extremely cringey. Finally, ‘Gilmore Girl’s Alexis Bledel as Lena, she’s the innocent, secretive one of the group. Lena travels to Greece to visit her grandparents, but instead ends up in a forbidden summer romance.

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‘The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants’ is a great film, it has comedy, meaningful moments, and reality struggles. Ok, ok it is quite chick-flicky, but it’s great either way! All the stories have some meaningful moral to them in which the characters learn from. Stories such as life being precious; stories where you should accept your emotions; stories where you can’t run away from problems; and stories of being able to be more confident in yourself. I do laugh in parts of this film, but I’m not going to lie to you all, there are also parts I cry in this film. It has drama, comedy and romance all wrapped up in one. Plus all the actresses are superb, but I do love Blake Lively and Rory from ‘Gilmore Girls’. It is quite a long film, but there is so much in it, that you don’t really notice time passing. I do think this is a fab film and would recommend if you would like this sort of film, but I completely understand that it probably is a film of particular genre.

Table 19 (2017)

I’ve been saying lately that trailers at the minute seem to have no mystery, seem to have no element of the unknown. It seems to be that you watch a trailer and you watch the whole film, and I’ve hated it! But I am so happy to say that this trailer definitely did not do that. To be honest, I thought it was doing that and I was going to know everything that would happen from what I was watching from the trailer, but no. You are deceived and that is what is missing from trailers now-a-days.

Firstly, this is not a romantic comedy. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I have to state straight off, this is more of a drama, but still does have light humour. Moments of slight comedy, moments of heart-warming, heart-breaking, some very moving moments – I may have nearly cried… This is definitely a film I didn’t expect, nothing seems as it is. I was constantly shocked by things revealed throughout the film. I loved that about the film, it really did make it so much better!

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Anyway, what is it even about? One wedding, one wedding day, many tables. The main protagonist is the brilliant Anna Kendrick, she plays the bitter ex-girlfriend, the heart-broken and understandably mad drop-out maid of honour, Eloise. She’s the ex-girlfriend of the best man, Teddy (Wyatt Russell); the oldest friend of the bride, Francie (Rya Meyers). The girl who was dropped from Table 1 to the last, Table 19. The table nearest to the bathrooms, the one furthest away from Table 1. Table 19 is the table of the “randoms”. There’s the bickering married couple, Bina and Jerry Kepp (played by the amazing Lisa Kudrow (obviously Phoebe from ‘Friends’) and Craig Robinson). To be honest, Bina was definitely not my favourite character, although I did quite like Jerry, both played well of course! Next, Nanny Jo (June Squibb), the first nanny of the bride – this woman is amazing in this film, she is a fabulous addition, such a great character. Then there’s the younger man, Renzo (Tony Revolori). He’s socially awkward, he tries a bit too hard to get attention (mostly failing), and he’s extremely reliant on his mother who constantly calls with her own personalised ringtone and a caller ID of the “mothership”. Finally, the man who you never really understand until he says who he is himself. This is Walter (Stephen Merchant). He comes across a bit odd and secretive, obviously lying at personal questions about himself, but as the film goes on he becomes more of a character you get to know and you quickly understand he is easily manipulated, which does become comical. All the characters are appreciated, they all definitely bring a different element to the film, and subsequently they are all given the same about of screen time, it definitely isn’t a film all about Anna Kendrick’s character (even if quite a bit about her).

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I loved the way things were revealed at the beginning, the things the audience need to understand to not be confused in the film – because it does go straight into the wedding right off. To show the other randoms who Eloise was to the bride, she shows off by explaining every table, not only to the rest of Table 19 but to us as well. In a short amount of time you surprisingly get a lot of information on characters. Although, that is hardly anything to what is actually happening, and there is so much depth. A lot is said without it actually being said, but then again, suspicions are confirmed in dialect. It is very clever how everything was secretive, it made the audience become more absorbed into the characters, wanting to know more about them, because when you think you know the information you need to know, more is revealed. It definitely reflects the reality of life, the reality that everyone has their own personal things going on, yet society points them as something else when actually other things are quiet behind closed doors. The whole film reflected a reality, it broke down film walls of good and evil, characters were not flawless, no character was perfect. There were things to like and dislike in most characters, their lives and this day was unexpected for them and the audience. It was great to see this difference to so many other films.

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This drama was brilliant, it was inviting and rocky. To be honest, this film is just of one day and actually not that much happens, but so much is revealed and so much is said about these characters that you become invested in them all. It is a clever real-life film. This film is truly beautiful and I really enjoyed it. At one table of randoms, unlikely friends will develop.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

1947, Andy Dufresne comes to Shawshank Prison. While Red was serving 20 years of his life sentence. Yes, this is a prison film, I would be very surprised if you didn’t already know that as IMDb regards this film as number one, top film out there. It definitely is a classic high in memories of many. So if you haven’t seen it, you definitely should get onto it.

So Morgan Freeman plays Red, the con-man of the prison, the one who knows how to get things. Red is a brilliant character, we are delved so much into his character and personality, that the audience is invested in everything he says and does. Especially that he is the narrator of the film, telling us his story, but his story of Andy Dufresne. Andy’s harsh life in prison, but Andy wasn’t like everyone else in the prison – he declares he’s innocent. He was something different and that’s why this film is about him. Andy is played by Tim Robbins, extremely well. Everyone is played amazingly well, the story and characters are definitely top standard, but that’s of course expected, but at least it’s true as well.

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Ok, so not a film for younger ages. There are some horrible scenes in this film, ok no there’s loads. But it’s supposed to be a hard-hitting drama of the lives of those in prison. It’s also quite an emotional film, a film full of emotions, I will admit it makes me cry every time. But amongst the horror of what’s happening it makes the smaller happier parts in the movie so much more significant and rewarding for the audience. To say you feel all the emotions of this film would be an understatement, it is perfectly executed and emotions are not hidden.

A lot of time passes in this film, but what is great is that they do the passing of age so well. It is believable in every aspect. Because of this big timespan, the film is rather long, about two hours and twenty minutes. However, there isn’t a single boring moment. So much happens in this film, so much, and again it just adds to that emotion of the audience and the character building.

One of the top films out there according to IMDb and I can’t fault the film so I guess that could be true. Yes the film is harsh, it is not a happy warm film, there are moments of nasty hard happenings. But it’s all part of the drama that it is. I would recommend the film. It is a drama standing out from others.

The Book Thief (2013)

‘The Book Thief’ is a beautiful drama, a drama based in Nazi Germany from 1938 through World War Two. The story follows the life of a young girl named Liesel (Sophie Nélisse). At the beginning, we discover she is on her way to her new foster family, at the age of twelve being left to a husband and a wife she has never met before. Her new parents are Hans (Geoffrey Rush – recognisable in a completely different film as Captain Barbossa in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’) and Rosa (Emily Watson). Soon she meets a young boy living next door, eager to become friends with the new girl on the street, this is Rudy (Nico Liersch).

The first thing I should mention is that this is not a film you watch for thrilling moments or comedy or fast-paced action; it couldn’t be further from this. The film is rather slow, but not in a bad way, it is clever in the way the film progresses as you need to understand what is happening. Obviously, there are parts of history that are not covered in the fact that this is well-known in your knowledge anyway, so you do not watch a film knowing what is happening even though it covers the history of Nazi Germany. The story of Liesel and her new family is one to get warped into, there is so much emotion in this film and it really does grip you into the two hours.

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This film is different to many others of war; this is a story from the side of the Germans in World War Two, those that were living in Germany – of course this is not a true story or based on facts, but it gives a different side to a war we see many films from English or American point of views. We travel years through Liesel’s young life as she tries to come to grips with what is happening in Germany, her growing hatred with what is happening, and even more so her growing love for books and the importance to them in her life. The use of books in this film, is something that means so much more than just something to read, it is so clever in the film to add so much of this depth and detail. Even perhaps to give a love to people watching the film of books and the importance of imagination and seeing and processing the life around.

There is a narrator in this film, voiced by Roger Allam, I don’t want to give much away with this aspect of the movie, but it clever and different to many other narrators in films. The voice is not so much as a character in the film, yet contributes to the lives in ways that are very different. The voiceover is not continuous throughout the film, he is there at the beginning and the end, and other parts in which he is embedded in the storyline. Every actor in this film is brilliant and truly play the part well. Even the growing up of Liesel is recognisable and well done. There are characters to really appreciate and love in this film, for example, my favourite being Hans.

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Overall, it is a beautiful drama, it is a tear-jerker, but I think that is probably expected. Like I’ve already mentioned it isn’t a fast-paced movie, but I was invested in the characters, worried for all of them, emotion filled in every aspect of the film. It’s an eye-opening into Nazi Germany from a young girl’s point of view, a family who risks everything, men at potential of being called to war, but among all just young Liesel growing up wanting to surround herself with books. If you think this is a film for you, I would definitely recommend it, but I understand it is a film of particular taste. A film of bravery and courage in a dangerous place.