Passengers (2016) Film Review

A ship taking 5000 people to a distant human colony across the universe is damaged in a meteor storm and Jim (Chris Pratt) is woken from hibernation 90 years too early. After over a year of entertaining himself, including having conversations with the robot barman, Arthur (Michael Sheen), Jim is joined by Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and they try to figure out how to live in this world.

I quite enjoyed watching this film, but it is more in contemplating it afterwards that I find myself really appreciating it. It’s a strong concept (though I’m certainly making no comment on the actual science within the world), and I do like the idea of putting people in a bizarre situation and just seeing what happens. It is an absolutely stunning film – I loved watching the way the spaceship made its way through the universe.

Passengers was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) and Best Achievement in Production Design.

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Moonlight (2016) Film Review

Moonlight depicts a few different times during the life of Chiron, an African-American man who grew up surrounded by violence, drugs and poverty. It’s not exactly a linear story, but more a series of moments from his life. It’s rough and, at times, hard to watch. It raises the question of how can one person live their own truth when any sign of difference is seen as a weakness to be exploited and destroyed.

This is one of those slow-moving films that I find I either love or very much dislike. Moonlight is one which I loved despite the sadness it brings. It’s a tough film, it’s hard to watch characters get damaged and have so much pain, both inside and out. One of my favourite scenes in the film is when Chiron is making a bed with Teresa, pretty much the only person in his life that he truly trusts. She manages to get him to smile, and there is a moment of hope. Just a moment.

Moonlight won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mahershala Ali), Best Adapated Screenplay and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Naomie Harris), Best Achievement in Directing (Barry Jenkins), Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score). It won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mahershala Ali), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Naomie Harris), Best Direct – Motion Picture (Barry Jenkins), Best Screenplay (Barry Jenkins) and Best Original Score – Motion Picture. It was nominated for BAFTAs for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris) and Best Screenplay (Original) (Barry Jenkins).

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Deepwater Horizon (2016) Film Review

In 2010, disaster struck BPs Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. It ‘blew out’, causing the death of eleven workers and spilling an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil. This film is the dramatisation of these events, with Mark Wahlberg as worker Mike Williams, Gina Rodriguez as worker Andrea Fleytas, Kurt Russell as rig boss Jimmy Harrell, and John Malkovich as BP executive Vidrine. It’s an amazing film, one that totally passed me by in the cinema. It has all of the explosions and excitement of a good action film, but with a tragic and plausible plot.

It starts like a fairly dull, normal day for the workers returning to the rig, dealing with the handover and the pressure being put on them by the executives who just want the pumping to start. Then, when things go bad, it’s all about survival. It’s tricky from here, because audiences are used to heroes in action films, and Wahlberg is such an action hero type actor. Consequently, I don’t know how much is accurate to the actual events and how much is modified for good audience viewing. I think as long as the audience are aware of the potential artistic licence, it’s a film worth watching.

Deepwater Horizon was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Visual Effects and for a BAFTA for Best Sound.

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Darkest Hour (2017) Film Review

I don’t know a lot about Churchill – I know of his alcoholism, his depression (famously, his black dog) and the ‘We will fight on the beaches” speech. I found it fascinating in the Darkest Hour to learn about how Churchill became Prime Minister, at a time during the war when the Nazi forces were their strongest there was a real threat of losing much of the British forces. It’s a film about politics, about personalities battling against each other and the devastation of war.

This film reminded me a lot of Lincoln in that both show that politics has never been straightforward as coming up with a good idea and following through – it is about backroom deals and double-crossing and planning against each other, and it is truly a dirty world. I loved the world around Churchill – the upstairs/downstairs and breakfast served in bed and backing out of the room with royalty, though I am hoping that this world is long gone. Though… probably not. I also was very aware that this is a dramatization and it makes me wonder what was real and what wasn’t. How much of an influence was his wife, his secretary, the King of England?

Darkest Hour was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Gary Oldman) and for BAFTAs for Best Leading Actor (Gary Oldman), Best Make-up/Hair, Original Music, Best Film, Best Supporting Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas), Outstanding British Film of the Year, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Film Review

It’s been a year since the daughter of Mildred (Frances McDormand) was brutally raped and murdered, and she’s fed up with the lack of action from the police. Her response is to put up three billboards challenging the local police, targeting the senior office, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). This polarises the local community, including fellow policeman Dixon (Sam Rockwell), who likes to take action with little thought.

I really love the work of writer and director Martin McDonagh. As with In Bruges, this film goes places that are totally unexpected. It amazes me that I can be horrified and in tears with the violence and the terrible nature of people and yet, moments later, be laughing. It’s a very, very dark comedy, and one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Frances McDormand), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Sam Rockwell) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Martin McDonagh) and was nominated for Best Director – Motion Picture (Martin McDonagh) and Best Original Score – Motion Picture (Carter Burwell). It was nominated for BAFTAs for Best Leading Actress (France McDormand), Best Screenplay (Original) Martin McDonagh), Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Best Supporting Actor (Woody Harrelson), Outstanding British Film of the Year, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and the David Lean Award for Direction.

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The Post (2017) Film Review

Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is the owner of the Washington Post in the early seventies, dropped into the role after the death of her husband who was appointed by her late father. When the opportunity comes to be part of an expose that involves breaking the law and putting her fortune and even her freedom at risk, she is torn between the advice of her board and her editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks).

It’s a slow start, with a lot of very necessary character and background information, and while I was interested, I wasn’t all that compelled. But as the action heated up, I was on the edge of my seat. I was so tense, feeding from the high energy and stress onscreen. And at the end, I felt down. Looking at the sixties and seventies, people really seemed to care about the government lying to them. Now, it seems that it doesn’t matter. People in power lie blatantly in ways that are easily proven and yet there is no outrage, no consequences. Such a timely film.

The Post was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Meryl Streep), for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Tom Hanks), Best Director – Motion Picture (Steven Spielberg), Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Liz Hannah, Josh Singer) and Best Original Score – Motion Picture (John Wiliams).

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Queen of the Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter – Book Review

The third book in the White Rabbit chronicles, Alice Bell and her slayer friends are still battling the zombies, plus the awful corporation, and still trying to find her way in her love life.

What I particularly like about these books is while they are somewhat cheesy and a little bit creepy (far too much sexy talk about spanking for me), they don’t seem to go the to the typical dystopia of so many YA novels. I want to see where the characters go. I want them to win, and I want them to have a happy ending. I’m more than happy to go to the fourth and (I think) final in the series.

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