Having watched Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle which disappointed me with the lack of women and the poor representation of women, I followed through on my commitment to re watch the original, and man, I was so glad I did.
Alan (as a child, Adam Hann-Byrd, as an adult, Robin Williams) and Sarah (as a child, Laura Bell Bundy and as an adult, Bonnie Hunt) discover Jumanji in a building site and accidentally start playing. On their first rolls, Alan gets sucked into the game and Sarah is chased from the building by bats. Skip to twenty-six years later. Orphans Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) move into Alan’s old and abandoned house with their Aunt Nora (the wonderful Bebe Neuwirth) and discover the game. Alan, now an adult, comes back and they track down Sarah so they can finish the game and everything will be restored to how it was. And with each roll, more threats come from the world of the game to torment them.
This is how you make a kids film. It’s a great plot, the characters are fabulous, there are several female characters, the teenage girl does what she needs to survive rather than squealing and wimping out. Having a brilliant cast, including the wonderful Robin Williams and a young Kirsten Dunst helps, but it was clever, strong writing, and a real adventure. Looking at the credits, most of the production team were men. So, blaming the appalling nature of the recent remake on the fact that that production team was also mostly men is not valid. What’s happened in the last twenty years? I don’t watch as many kids films these days, but do we still have kids films that do better by us? I’d love suggestions.
How often do we hear that some of the key players within NASA in the sixties were African American women who were still forced to ride in the back of public buses and use separate bathrooms and drinking fountains to white people? For me, it was never until now. Hidden Figures tells of three women and their rise against the odds. There’s Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) who sees that the department she is unofficially managing (Computers – this being at the very start of machines being called computers, so computers means people who doing the calculations, and in this department, black women)is becoming obsolete just as a huge IBM machine is brought in. As she has a skill for mechanics, she steps in to find a future for herself and her fellow employees. Then there’s Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) who is assigned to compute with the engineers and is soon identified as having a brain that is capable of far greater work and is encouraged to take a degree in engineering. Finally, Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) who is put to work with the department working out the mathematics for the re-entry of the first manned mission to space. She is battling not only the attitudes of those around her who see her as a threat, but the politics of the time, with the only bathroom she is allowed to use being quite some distance from her desk. Then there is the love interest, Jim Johnson (Mahershala Ali), which I felt was totally unnecessary to the film – in fact, kind of undermined it in a way, because it was as if being extremely intelligent wasn’t enough, you have to have a man too. Still, it’s a great story and a thoroughly enjoyable and funny film.
Hidden Figures was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Octavia Spencer) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi). It was also nominated for Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Octavia Spencer) and Best Original Score – motion Picture and for a BAFTA for Best Screenplay (Adapted ) (Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder).
Based on the book by Jack Kerouac, On the Road follows beat poet Sal Paradise as he travels across the country with his friend Dean Moriaty who leaves a string of women everywhere he goes.
It’s probably a very good film, but it just annoyed me. I’m far too much of a cynical cow to have any respect of faith for the hippies and beat poets of the past. All that ideology and blah blah. I’d love to travel across the US, but not with any of these people. Perhaps I’d have liked it more if I’d read On The Road. But perhaps less.
Ages ago, I reviewed The Ides of March and felt that it was quite average for a political thriller, especially compared to films such as Wag the Dog and Primary Colors. Since, I’ve discussed the film and read other reviews, and it seems that most people thought it was a much better film that I did. I do want to revisit it, however I wanted to see the others first for some comparison.
Wag the Dog tells the story of a Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) and Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) who are working in the last fortnight before a presidential election to bury the story of a sexual encounter between the President and a young girl. They bring in Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to produce the appearance of a war with Albania, along with victims, heroes, the whole kit-and-kaboodle.
It’s fabulous. It totally plays into the idea of a massive conspiracy. It couldn’t be done now; with the internet and wikileaks, it would be very easy to disprove. In fact, it couldn’t have been done then. There is no way the media would just go along with the stuff that is being fed to it – regardless of how cleverly the leaks appear are done. But what the films shows is how it could almost be possible – and if it could happen, this is how it would go. It’s fabulous, so funny. Wonderful cast, great script. We even got a bit of Woody Harrelson, Kirsten Dunst, William H Macy, Dennis Leary and Willie Nelson. Perfect.
Wag the Dog was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Dustin Hoffman) and Best Writing:Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published (Hilary Henkin and David Mamet)
I remember promising myself after watching Dancer in the Dark that I would be very careful of watching films by Lars von Trier. It was such a difficult film, so incredibly painful and horrible. Melancholia is not as heart wrenching, but it is certainly an extremely emotional journey. If you let it be.
The film starts with a series of ultra slow, beautiful images which were wasted on my small television screen. Then we meet Justin (Kirsten Dunst) and her new husband Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) in a stretch limo that is struggling to negotiate a narrow and windy road; it’s amusing, but seems like a very clunky metaphor for a failing relationship. Finally, they arrive at the party and everything seems fabulous. The bride and groom are laughing and socializing. There are awkward moments with her parents and boss, but it seems perfectly normal until it gradually becomes clear that she is suffering from some kind of debilitating depression and that their relationship is not all it is set up to be. Justine winds up staying with her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland).
On top of this, there is a mysterious new planet, Melancholia (the name being a metaphor being one I appreciated a lot more than the stretch limo) which has been hiding behind the sun. It has emerged and appears to be heading toward Earth.
It is certainly a beautiful film that I wish I’d seen in the cinema; it is almost impossible to get a good sense of the beauty of the cinematography on a small screen. I often find that films with character such as these who are quite annoying and make poor decisions, I get very annoyed. But instead, with Melancholia, I was drawn in and wanted to know more.
I have become totally obsessed with the opening sequence. I find it totally hypnotising and mesmerising. I even found it on youtube to watch whenever I like. Here it is:
Surely, the name of this film just lends itself to bad reviews. Like ‘All Good Things – apart from the acting, story, directing and just about everything else’ or ‘All Good Things… All bad things, more like?’ or something equally as terrible. As it happens, it is not a great film, so unleash the terrible lines.
David Marks (Ryan Gosling) is the son of real estate tycoon Sanford Marks (Frank Langella). But he doesn’t want to follow his father’s footsteps. He and his beautiful young wife, Katie (Kirsten Dunst) move to Vermont and open a health food store called All Good Things. Life is great, but then David is pressured to return to New York and follow his father’s footsteps. He’s acting pretty weird, and then his wife disappears, then suddenly it’s 20 years later, David is dressing as a woman and his best mate dies, and the spotlight is put on him for both cases.
It is based on the true story of Robert Durst and his wife Kathleen McCormack who disappeared in 1982. It’s a pretty compelling story, yet not a compelling film. This despite the strong acting, especially from Kirsten Dunst in one of the best performances I’ve seen from her. The key problem was the structure and the script – it felt as though a lot of time was put into the set up of the relationship between David and Katie, but then the disappearance and all of the acts after this seem rushed, and given how exciting this part of the story is, it’s just a waste.