Review: Jojo Rabbit

Within the first minute of the film, Jojo Rabbit gives you the “Oh” moment. With a German cover of I want to hold to hold your hand in the background, Johannes (Roman Griffin Davis) and his camp imaginary friend Hitler (Taika Watiti) are practising their Heil Hitlers in the mirror, before he runs down the street in excitement as today is his first day in the Hitler Youth. His joyous face and childish motion in this silly scenario along with the upbeat music may lead you to crack a smile. However, this is interlinked with Nazi propoganda videos of smiling crowds. This is when having being swept away with Jojo’s commotion, you realise “Hold on a minute. Why am I going along so happily with this?” This smart ploy is one of cleverest scenes in the film as you recompose yourself and remember that you’re in 1940’s Austria.

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Review: So Long, My Son

When a film is over 3 hours, it needs to do two things. Firstly it needs to justify its length of time. Secondly. it needs to look after the audience. At 186 minutes long (22 minutes longer than 2001: A Space Odyssey), So Long, My Son does pack in a lot of content.

The film starts with the major pivot. Xingxing and Haohao are two young best friends who were born on the same day. At a young age, Haohao suggests they play in the reservoir. Xingxing is nervous, and doesn’t really want to go. We fast forward and see that Xingxing has died from drowning here, but we’re not sure what events lead to this.

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Review: Little Women

We are back for 2020. Although, I do admit I saw this film in 2019, I’ve just been much too busy to sit down and witter about my feelings around a film. Nonetheless, I have finally found half an hour free and intend to discuss a rather good film which made my top twenty of the year. So without further ado, lets talk Little Women.

Based on the book by Louisa Alcott (which I have yet to read), Little Women follows the story of four sisters in two different time periods. Jo (Saoirse Ronan) is a writer who never plans to fall in love. She wants to be successful, but her writings aren’t interesting enough according to the publisher who requires women to be married or dead by the end. Meg (Emma Watson) would rather fall in love than be rich. Amy (Florence Pugh), however, believes that marriage is merely good for money and wants nothing more than riches as she becomes a painter. Beth (Eliza Scanlen) is the innocent one of the group and a talented pianist. They are looked after by Marmee (Laura Dern) while their dad is fighting the civil war. They just about get by, nonetheless acting with generosity and kindness to one another and their community. Meanwhile, their aunt Marge (Meryl Streep) enjoys living in wealth albeit in a cold frame of mind. Next door is rich kid Laurie (Timothee Chalamet) who takes a liking to Jo.

Gollowing all of these characters over two time periods may look like it can get confusing and at first it does as the film jumps back and forth. However, after a while you can follow it and see why the present is the way it is compared to the past. Time jumps are brilliantly timed as director Greta Gerwig puts together a cohesive and intriguing narrative. Furthermore, each character is made to feel like an individual who you can explore throughout the run time.

The themes of love and money come up throughout the film, justifying all decisions whether they be right or wrong. Nowhere are the themes and differences more apparent than in costumes. When searching for money, Amy will wear big outlandish dresses compared to Jo’s simpler taste.

The lighting throughout the film is brilliant as well. While scenes from the past have a warm orange glow, scenes from the future have a cold blue feel to them in comparison, allowing the viewer to differentiate and showing them that the issues they have in the future need to be resolved. One small gripe I had was that some of the early scenes were poorly lit meaning I struggled to see exactly what was going on.

Most of the cast are on top form throughout this. Ronan is absolutely brilliant as usual as Jo, however she may even have been outshined by Florence Pugh as Amy. The relationship between both of them feels so natural and flowing. Ronan and Chalamet’s natural chemistry was also apparent throughout leading to both of them having some of the funniest and most heartwarming scenes. Laura Dern was incredible as well. It was odd how little screen time a big name like Emma Watson had as it felt like they skirted around her character a bit.

Image result for Little women

The first word I wrote on my notes app was “charming” on the train ride home. The whole film will make you feel warm but will make you cry. It’s a wonderful film for the whole family. The script is very funny and made me laugh out loud multiple times. Such a film with strong women holding their own should be considered a feminist masterpiece, and yet it doesn’t feel ragingly political. Even if it is such a film, Little Women will have universal appeal to people of both genders. My only wish was that we could explore these characters more.

Summary

While not quite hitting the incredible heights of Ladybird, Gerwig does a good job putting together a compelling narrative which you buy from the beginning. This alongside brilliant acting throughout the cast make Little Women one of the best family films of 2019. [Grade: B+]

The top 20 of 2019

We are getting to that time, new years day, where one puts together their list of films. While I’m no Barack Obama, this list should provide a good indicator of what one could have watched and could look for upon a DVD release. Apologies to some films I didn’t see yet Fighting with My Family, Sorry I missed You, The Souvenier, Pain and Glory, The Two Popes and Ford vs Ferrari amongst many others which may have gone into the list had I had the time, but that doesn’t make the twenty any less worthy.

All twenty are from all over the world and provide a variety of genres, so hopefully there is something which takes your fancy. Each one is a brilliant piece of work which gave me enormous satisfaction. There were other good ones which weren’t included. Just because a film is at 17/18/19/20 doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. It just means there were others which I also enjoyed more or in a different way. Apologies in advance to Marvel fanboys and here is to 2020.

Eight of these films are on Prime/Netflix UK so there is no excuse to not watch them. Enjoy!

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Review: Knives Out

If you go to the cinema and enjoy a film that I didn’t, then I am happy for you. My view is not all encompassing and sacreligious. Not all films are my cup of tea. If you enjoyed the latest blockbuster that I found boring, great. I really am pleased for you. If you didn’t enjoy the weird indie flick I liked, that’s fine as well. I’m sad you didn’t enjoy what you spent time and money on, but have no resentment over your film taste. Despite your prior beliefs, this blog is not gospel and I mention this before I review Knives Out as I find it leaves me in an awkward place. I can see why others liked this film a lot, but I really struggled to connect with it.

Knives out is written as a comedy/murder mystery. On crime writer Harlan Thrombey’s (Christopher Plummer) birthday party, he appears to commits suicide, however all is not as it seems *shock* as an anonymous donor has paid for private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to investigate. The primary focus of the story is Marta (Ana De Armas), Harlan’s carer, who clearly knows more than she is letting on. She os accompanied by a top cast of Thrombey’s sinister family members including Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon and Toni Colette, to name a few. Similarly to death in paradise it attempts to somewhat split the comedy from the story, however this really fails in Craig’s dreadful attempt at an American accent. Every time he spoke, my immersion into the film was ruined, whether a suspenseful, emotional or funny part, he just couldn’t shake the accent off.

Twist The Knife

Review: I Lost My Body

Unlike most reviews I do, I watched this film on a TV. I also watched this film in its original language (with subtitles), however, Netflix does have an English option with Dev Patel as its lead. I would recommend sticking to the French as the voices match the aesthetic and music better.

One of the great film betrayals is the idea that animation is only for kids films. The idea is that it’s obviously make belief and therefore, no self respecting adult could consider an animated film a masterpiece. Well, this is wrong. Spider-man into the Spider-verse is one of the most creative superhero films around. WALL-E is a gorgeous emotional tale for everyone with mature themes to think about. Then you have true the great animated film Spirited Away. In fact, it’s not a great animated film, it’s just a great film, full stop. Animation creates a contract between writer and viewer in which the latter suspends their disbelief, leading to more abnormal and creative ways to write. This is when animation is done right. Anyway, now we have removed any inhibitions around the genre, lets move on…

At the time of writing, it’s been 6 days since I watched I Lost My Body (or J’ai perdu mon corps), yet I still remember most of it. It’s a film with a sense of familiarity yet difference at the same time. We start with a hand escaping from the fridge. What we can tell about it straight away is that it is looking for its body, so it scuttles away like an insect using its fingers for legs. At the same time, we are introduced to Naofel (Hakim Faris/(Dev Patel)), who we see as a young boy growing up. There is a lot of focus on his hand as you see him use it in a variety of places and each texture he feels or interacts with is done in a way which shows said hand as sentient. It’s pretty obvious from early on, that he’s going to lose said hand at some point. So we end up with time jumps between the story of how he loses his hand and the story of his hand trying to find him.

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