Arrival (2016) Film Review

Twelve alien spaceships appear and are hovering in various locations around the world. Countries are working together on how to communicate with these strange creatures and among them are a high-level linguistics professor, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). Over a series of long, drawn out sessions, they establish some kind of communication, but does it mean what they think it means?

I kind of get why people might like this, but I was bored. It was sooooooo slow, and while there was some beauty in the filming, I just didn’t get it. Plus, it has a ‘twist’ – at least, I think it was a twist. For me, however, I had no engagement with any of the characters; I didn’t care about the aliens or why they were there. I was somewhat intrigued by the concept of what a world does when aliens are hanging about and what we might actually do to attempt communication – in fact, the more I think about this, the more fascinated I am. I think it’s because so much sci fi have some kind of auto translating thing to avoid the whole concept of cross species communication.

Arrival won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Denis Villeneuve), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Achievement in Production Design.

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016) Film Review

 

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is a young man who, despite the example set by his alcoholic, abusive father (Hugo Weaving) whose life was ruined in WW1, signs up for WW2. However, he refuses to carry a gun – he has volunteered to be an unarmed medic, to spend his time in the field saving the injured soldiers. Based on a true story, Doss is treated like a freak by most of the army including his immediate superior, Sgt Howell (Vince Vaughn) – until he proves his worth.

I quite liked the idea, it really is a good story. I’m not quite sure why Doss had to come across as a bit of a fool – his character had a bit of a Forest Gump feel to him, and I feel as though that took away a lot from his stance. There is a whole section at the start which had stuff from his childhood that I feel was really unnecessary – almost as if it was just filling up space to make it a longer, weightier film. For me, it really got good once they were fighting. That was very impressive.

Hacksaw Ridge won Oscars for Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Andrew Garfield), Best Achievement in Directing (Mel Gibson) and Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

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Jane the Virgin – TV Review

Based on the famous telenovelas of Latin America, Jane the Virgin follows Jane   (Gina Rodriguez), a virgin who is accidentally inseminated by the doctor who should be doing a pap smear. What are she and her fiancé, Michael (Brett Dier) going to do – especially when she starts to have feelings for the biological father, Rafael (Justin Baldoni)? Then her grandmother (Ivonne Coll) has to deal with seeing her daughter, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) reconnect with Jane’s father, telenovela superstar Rogelio (Jaime Camil). But the doctor who inseminated her was Rafael’s sister, and was supposed to be inseminating Rafael’s wife who had stolen the last sample of Rafael’s frozen semen after he had cancer… and then it gets complicated.

What is great is that the characters are great. They have real good sides and bad sides, but they don’t seem too over the top – and then there are the ones who are over the top! Oh, they are so much fun! My favourite will always be Rogelio – so magnificently ridiculous and gorgeous and funny and – he’s great. Love him. In fact, I think he is really the reason I watch it. What’s not great – well, isn’t it just making fun of a person for their religion and beliefs, and saying that sure, you can believe in saving yourself for marriage but we’ll all laugh at you? Isn’t it, at the heart of it, just a bit nasty? Yet… no. I don’t know. Just enjoy it.

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Suicide Squad (2016) Film Review

Aliens have appeared and been fought off by Superman. Only, now Superman’s nicked off. How can the world protect themselves agains the bad guys? Get worse guys. A whole bunch of dodgy folk with talents or some kind of mutant skills, stick a bomb in their necks and threaten to blow them up if they do the wrong thing. But then, when things don’t go so smoothly, what happens then?

It was great. Top characters (most notably Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as The Joker), a decent story, some fantastic special effects and you’ve got a good film. Better than good, actually. A lot better. I’m being far too casual, it’s ace shouty blow ‘em uppy, fun times.

Suicide Squad won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.

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Hell or High Water (2016) Film Review

Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby Howard (Chris Pine) are a couple of guys whose deceased mother’s ranch is about to be foreclosed on by the bank, and they’ve just found oil. Desperate, they start robbing banks. They are chased by close to retirement Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges ) and his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), a couple of law enforcement men (not sure on which department) who are stubborn.

If you want to see one of those slow-moving films with a whining violin soundtrack that sounds a bit like Warren Ellis (ah! Lookie here, the soundtrack is by Warren Ellis and Nick Cave!), with men who talk slow and have that slow, Texas smarts, this is the film for you. It’s a good film, possibly a great film, though not a really original film. While I didn’t mind watching it, I’d sooner have re-watched No Country for Old Men.

Hell or High Water was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Jeff Bridges), Best Original Screenplay and Best Achievement in Film Editing, as well as nominations for Golden Globes for Best motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Motion Picture (Jeff Bridges) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. It was also nominated for BAFTAs for Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Screenplay (Original) and Best Cinematography.

 

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The Amazing Spiderman (2012) Film Review

Yet another origin film of Spiderman. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is bitten by a magic (or whatever) spider and develops skills. Blah blah blah… no, actually not. Yes, the essential plot is that. But let’s face it, that’s a pretty cool plot anyhow. Then add in Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field and Martin Sheen – awesome cast. Andrew Garfield is a great Spiderman. I loved it, heaps of fun, great humour, cool stuff. And then there’s Denis Leary too! Ace.

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Trainspotting (1996) Film Review

It was 1996, I was living in London, listening to this soundtrack and loving this film. It’s one of those films that I’ve been fearful of revisiting in case it wasn’t as good as I remember…. But it really is. Thank goodness!

So, Renton (Ewan McGregor) is a heroin addict living in Edinburgh and hanging out with his mates: fellow users Spud (Ewan Bremner) and Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), health nut Tommy (Kevin McKidd) and psycho Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Sometimes they are using, sometimes they aren’t. But they are all just trying to get through life and eventually find their way to somewhere. Or not.

It’s a strange film, kind of daggy in ways. I found re -watching that it was far filthier and grosser than I remembered, but it really is a great film. To show how amazing drugs can be and then how terrible an experience using drugs can be with really no strong judgement. And it’s funny and sad and has the most amazing soundtrack. Certainly brought out my nostalgia.

Trainspotting was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published)

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