Film, Review

Review: Deadpool

deadpool-poster-8I have never been a fan or an advocate of superhero films; the Marvel and DC universes have just never pulled me in like they have millions of other cinema-goers. Actually, I can count on one hand which superhero films I appreciate every now and then: Batman: The Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, Kickass and Deadpool = 4  / 1,000+

I was skeptical at first because it’s another film flung onto the pile of generic masculine movies about characters with extraordinary powers. I would be guaranteed…… [Click here to read more]

Film, Film and the Female, Review

[FandFBlog] What Makes Interstellar So Great?

[Adapted from my post on Her Story Arc]

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Interstellar (2014) is one of those films that doesn’t suggest in the trailers that it’s going to be as complicated as it is. I still don’t understand what happened or how it all worked, but that’s usually a given with Christopher Nolan films – I’ve watched Inception (2010) many times but still don’t really get that.

In Interstellar, the possibly not too distant future Earth is becoming more and more uninhabitable due to crop losses and huge dust storms. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a NASA physicist, sends ex-NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a highly intelligent team of researches through a wormhole across the galaxy to investigate three planets, to determine whether humans can inhabit any of them.

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Film, Review

The Princess Bride (1987)

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“Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” – Westley

*Swoon*

The Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner is one of the greatest love stories out there, and it’s impossible to deny that without meeting a barrage of angry fans. Described by the grandad (Peter Falk) as a tale filled with “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” it’s a cult classic that has rocked many people’s worlds.

One of those lucky individuals is me.

When I was a pre-teen, Mum put on a VHS tape with no more introduction other than, ‘You will love this film, it’s one of my favourites.’ As many first-time viewers also admit, I was hooked from the start. Now I’m a sucker for a princess / fantasy / fairy tale story, but this particular piece is far more than that. As we see within the film, the grandson who is hearing the story for the first time from his grandad slowly comes around to the idea of romance, action and comedy being stitched together into one masterpiece.

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It’s one of the quirkiest films I’ve ever experienced and I have never seen anything like it since. Following the beautiful character Buttercup (Robin Wright) through her love, her heartbreak, her kidnapping, her forced marriage and her rescue, the film shows us how true love conquers all and ultimately wins. We are introduced to many exciting characters, particularly the dashing Westley, (or Man in Black as he is sometimes known) played by Cary Elwes, and the wonderful Fezzik, played by the great late Andre the Giant, alongside Inigo Montoya, portrayed by Mandy Patinkin. There are many, many amazing actors who play gorgeous characters in The Princess Bride but it would become a very long review if we were to discuss each and every one.

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One of my favourite scenes is towards the end when Fezzik, Inigo and Westley are storming the castle, with Westley recovering from being ‘mostly dead’ – one of the most hilarious concepts I’ve ever heard and seen acted out. Elwes manages to carry off the floppiest body imaginable, all the while successfully staying in character and somehow saving the day (obviously; it doesn’t count as a spoiler). The whole scene depicts three men who were not originally all on good terms working together for true love and for Buttercup’s survival. We see them work together to get into the castle and then split up to follow their own causes (with the exception of Fezzik who mysteriously disappears after Westley heads for Buttercup’s suite). Everything that the film has built up to comes to fruition in this scene and it really gets your blood pumping while still retaining its element of tongue-in-cheek comedy.

We’re presented with some pretty serious themes in The Princess bride, including suicide, torture, forced marriage, death, poisoning, yet we never feel down or miserable. In fact, we find it amusing when Westley is recovering from being tortured, and he can’t even hold up his own head; and it’s hysterical when we first hear the clergyman (Peter Cook) say “Mawage!” during Buttercup’s unwilling ceremony. As well as being incredibly funny at just the right moments, it’s also an emotional roller-coaster. My heart bleeds for Inigo on his quest to avenge his father, killed by the six-fingered man, Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), when he was just a boy. Buttercup also strikes a chord with the audience when she talks about how she died the day that word came to her that Westley was dead. The grasp on true love, whether about soul mates or fathers is perfect and every viewer can relate to one relationship or another. This film draws on every aspect of love that we are capable of feeling, from grandfather and grandson, to love/hate husband and wife, to a kingdom’s love for its future queen.

“As you wish,” Westley’s famous and only line at the beginning of the film will stay with me forever. I want it printed on everything. It means ‘I love you, and I will do anything for you’. He shouts it when Buttercup has thrown him down a very steep incline to show her that it’s him: “Oh my sweet Westley!”

*Sigh* Could this film be any more perfect?

Actually, yes.

For Christmas, Mum gave me the vinyl edition of The Princess Bride soundtrack, by Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits. I’m actually listening to it right now on Spotify which is actually proving to be an intense distraction because I just want to close my eyes and open my heart to the music.

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Reiner wanted a modern twist to the music and I think it’s already stood the test of time, almost 30 years later, being the most perfect cherry on the cake to one of the most perfect films in the world. You can see the scenes in your mind’s eye when you listen to the music, as it fits so snugly with the action. Synonymous with the visuals, the music is a movie in its own right, feeding you emotions and excitement while you try to get on with daily life.

You watch the film partly through the eyes of the grandson, seeing it for the first time, relishing in the wonderment, while not necessarily agreeing with his disgust at the kissing (depending on your age of course). It adds a childlike fascination to the film, as you occasionally check in with the pair reading the book together, and you listen to Peter Falk’s voice, it entrances you and you want to know more. What happens to Buttercup among the shrieking eels? Will Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) get his way? Tell me more!

With vast landscapes, intricate fire swamps and beautiful castles, it’s a gorgeous film to watch, just to take in the scenery. It’s colourful and bright, different and unique. It’s one of the most quoted films since it’s debut and one of the most loved, proven by the celebrations when it reached its 25th anniversary.

If you enjoy the film, I highly recommend reading Cary Elwes’ book, ‘As You Wish’, all about his experiences in making it and how he still feels about it now. It’s a film that has a special place in the heart of its creators and actors, but also sits snugly in its fans’ hearts, including mine.

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In truth, it’s one of the more difficult films to explain, as there is so much to it, but what can be explained is the emotion that you feel when watching it. It’s a film that I love showing to friends who have not seen it and allowing them to fall in love with it as well. The perfect quotes that have been born from this film will live forever and always crop up in any situation. Just last week, Mum texted me saying “Have fun storming the castle” ten minutes before I went in for an interview (turns out on this occasion I couldn’t storm the castle, but that’s another story).

In the meantime, take Prince Humperdinck’s advice and we will look forward to the 30th anniversary celebrations next year.

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Film, Review

The Revenant

the-revenant-2015.39576Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest film to hit the cinema is The Revenant about legendary
frontiersman Hugh Glass and how he claws at survival after a vicious bear attack and his exploration team have left him for dead. It’s caused a stir among many film fans, with lots of comments about how this year should be DiCaprio’s year to win an Oscar.

I couldn’t agree more, as his performance is absolutely outstanding. For a character who experiences more pain than you can imagine, both physically and emotionally, Leo completely owns it. For most of the film, he doesn’t speak, but his emotions and survival tactics are entirely raw and heartbreaking.

Alongside DiCaprio, Tom Hardy plays an utterly gross and spiteful character. Bitter from his treatment by the Native Americans, he doesn’t agree with Glass’ decisions and is the culprit behind him being left for dead after the harrowing bear attack. Coming across as mentally unstable, he’s creepy to watch and I always felt wary of him when he was on screen.

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There aren’t many characters that make up the cast, allowing Leo to rise to the top as his character struggles through the uncharted land of North America. Having so few vital characters makes you really focus on the ones that you are fed, and by the end of the film, it feels as though you understand them and know them.

I didn’t expect the film to be as gory or as brutal as it was. Of course, I knew about the bear attack and I figured there would be a fair bit of fighting going on, but I didn’t think it would make me cringe as much as it did. At times I recoiled back into my seat, trying to get away from the gore. As it’s shot so close to the action and so intensely, with barely any breaks or cuts, it really draws you in and you feel like you are there with them. The bear attack itself was unlike anything I have seen before. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu has been pretty secretive about how the bear was made, preferring to keep it a mystery, but the film has won several awards already for its CG work.

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The whole production is beautiful, and at times I felt as though I was encouraged to look at it as a piece of art, as you might in a gallery. Long takes and seemingly endless shots dominate the film, giving the viewer time to take in the breathtaking scenery. Strange angles of trees gives it an uncomfortable feel, along with the up close and personal shots of dirty faces with rotten teeth.

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A 3 hour long combination of beautiful wide shots, bloody encounters and thought-provoking music makes The Revenant a strange piece of artwork. At times, it resonated with horror films such as The Shining (1980) and perhaps The Blair Witch Project (1999) by use of the vast, empty shots and eerie music.

It’s a one of a kind film and I haven’t seen anything like it before. Shrouded by controversy on the treatment of the crew and the decision to film in such remote and treacherous locations creates an air of mystery around the whole feature, encouraging you to wonder if DiCaprio was the only one who suffered to make this film.

 

https://briholme.wordpress.com/reviews/revenant-the/

Entertainment, Review, Television

Pretty Little Liars

I’ve only just started watching this and I’ve just finished episode 3, so this is like a vague review depicting what I think so far.

And so far, so good. I knew full well what to expect when I started watching and yes it’s about a group of beautiful American girls and all the gossip and secrets that surround their lives. They’re all very self-entitled and omg my life is so much worse than yours! hashtag love ya. The writing is… eryhh… but I think the character development so far is decent even within only 3 episodes. I’m sticking with it, let’s put it that way.

My only worry is that there are now 6 seasons and I know what happens at the end (friends have been watching it for a while and I didn’t mind knowing the spoilers) which makes me wonder how on earth they have managed to fit 5 whole seasons between now and the cheeky reveal. I’m just hoping that other dramatic things are going to happen!

I have high hopes for it because a lot of my friends have watched it and there’s been a lot of hype about it around social media lately, so that must mean it’s good…right? An update will follow once I’m more into it.

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Film, Review

Review: The Maze Runner

I mean, this film is good.The-Maze-Runner-1-Sheet-250714

It’s entertaining to watch and it’s an interesting concept to consider, not unlike The Hunger Games or Divergent, adaptations of all these YA novels that are floating around in the literary cosmos as of late.

It’s also got good character development and interesting backstories to characters (even though they don’t have memories of who they are.)

I didn’t get it, though. I like the idea of throwing teenagers into a challenging environment to see how they get along but I never understood why they had to be surrounded by a maze. Alright, it demonstrates a test of their ability, but why a maze? The grassy area in the middle is surely all they need to test them. I expected the maze, being all secretive and ‘ooh nobody knows what’s in there or around it’ to be more significant and there to be a reason for its existence. Without it, it’s similar to The Hunger Games other than the fact that it explains nothing. Literally nothing… With The Hunger Games  we get given the information that we need to understand the film right at the beginning in some very simple and effective text. The Maze Runner seems to like the idea of keeping its audience in the dark for a very long time and it’s a shame that I still don’t really understand what was going on throughout.

I just have this…hatred?…for films that don’t explain themselves at the end and leave us on a cliffhanger. Maybe that’s unprofessional for someone who supposedly enjoys films but I like to be told what the dealio is.

The main character is super brave. He knows what’s up and it’s as though he’s been put there to lead the others and seemingly teach them that they can overcome whatever is growling like it’s not had breakfast for a few days in the maze. Thomas, as we later find out he is called, is the one who discovers all the ways to succeed in the maze rather than living off the fat o’ the land as the other boys have decided to do. They’ve actually got a sweet little community set up there and they all get on, which is nice for them, until Thomas arrives and riles everybody up by disturbing their peace.

I don’t agree with the female character. Bearing in mind that the only other people brought into the community inside the maze are boys and then they ho she comes along, it just seems a bit strange and unnecessary. Does it imply when she arrives with a note in her hand saying she is the last one that she is there so that they can reproduce and keep their community alive for many years? I don’t think it does. And I’m just presuming here, but why, if the establishment is exclusively for boys would you throw a girl into the mix? Is it to create some romantic drama for the onlookers? Probably not because we never see them and it’s not The Hunger Games. Is it to prove that females are as good as males? Doubtful because this particular character contributes literally nothing to the whole story and is a bit pants if you ask me. Surely the reasoning for putting one whole female into the group is to prove that she’s as badass as the lot of them and maybe provides a bit of interest for the main fella. Shouldn’t there be a clear cut reason for adding her? Otherwise, with her being as pointless as she seems to be, there might as well be a mixed bag of genders in that little experiment, something similar to what we might see in Percy Jackson.

For all intents and purposes, it’s a good watch. It’s exciting and entertaining, but it feels like they’ve tried to be too clever and then not been able to explain anything. I will be watching the next film though when it comes out in cinemas…soon, The Scorch Trials.

Books, Entertainment, Review

Book Review: One Day

As I’ve said before, I have recently become an avid reader all over again and this time I discovered a book my David book-one-dayNicholls that I 100% fell in love with. One Day, you may have read it or seen the film (which I still need to watch) and you may, like me, have fallen in love with the story.

It’s about two people across twenty years and documents what happens to their relationship when they are on good terms, bad terms or no terms at all. They both go through death, new romances, shit jobs, good jobs, health problems, anything and everything that normal people experience. And it’s a rollercoaster. But for starters, when I first started reading it, I immediately felt like I could relate to the characters. The female lead, Emma, is a hard working-just graduated-student from Leeds. Check. She finally gets close to a boy she’s liked for a long time. Check. She likes art and wants something creative in life, maybe to be an author. Check. And I was thinking, okay, this is cool. They kept coming at me, more and more things that I could relate to as I read on and to be honest, it felt kind of weird. Emma is throwing a production of Oliver! when not three weeks ago my sister was in one. They go on a holiday to Greece and I’ve very recently been looking at a lot of Greek holidays. Okay, they’re getting a little weak but you get my drift. A story about two people embarking on the adventure of life after just popping out of university. That’s where I’m at now and it really interested me, to see how these characters’ lives played out and would mine turn into anything so great?

The writing is awesome. It really drew me in; I found myself wanting to know more and more about these two people who don’t even exist and also that I was laughing and crying along with them. Crazy. Considering how less than a year ago, I’d hardly even picked up a book for a decade. What I really loved though was how long the time span of the book was – twenty years is a fair amount of time to follow two people. Sharing in their experiences was wonderful and it was really nice to see some actual character development for once.

My reviews are never that deep; I don’t want to pick a book apart page by page as if I was back at school – what’s important is how I read it and whether I would read it again and the answer is a resounding yes. Now I just have to watch the film…

Review

Review: Memoirs of a Geisha

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This is a film that I’ve been looking forward to watching for a long time, but at 2hrs 26 minutes, it’s been rather difficult to find the time to watch it in one sitting. I read the book, on a whim really after being part of an English lesson where the whole class reads a book, and I was hooked. It’s such a beautiful story and when I found out that there was a film (on Netflix conveniently!) I was extremely excited to finish the book and watch the adaptation.

I was worried, though, because I loved the story so much, that the film would ruin the story and not do it justice as so many book lovers often think of films, but thankfully this was not the case. The whole film is beautiful from start to finish – each shot is artfully composed and delicately edited with the greatest care. The characters are just as well developed and you really start to fall in love with the main girl and despise the nasty geisha Hatsumomo. I love the old, artful Japanese culture that comes across and the emotion that surrounds Chiyo’s loss of her sister but the film allows you to truly admire her strive to become a geisha, after she has accepted her fate.

I mean, the one thing with films is that they aren’t as long as books can be and you can never really truly grasp the length of a time period or the tediousness of situations that Chiyo seems to find herself in, particularly as a child. It’s just how it is, but I think the film succeeded in portraying Chiyo’s life and progression accurately.

I think I would also argue that I might not have understood what was actually going on as much if I hadn’t read the book… There are an awful lot of characters and a lot of complex little things happen to Chiyo which I think I only really picked up on because I knew what was going on after having read the book. I mean, I can’t say that for sure because I can’t exactly unread it but at times I felt as though I lost where the film was at.

One thing that I was really keen on seeing how the film managed it was through the character of Hatsumomo herself because she’s painted as a true monster, beautiful on the outside and rotten on the inside. I always found her an interesting character because she’s so damn crazy and focused on destroying Chiyo’s life and I think the film really did her justice. She is portrayed as a gross geisha, a nasty girl who drinks too much and sleeps around when she really, really shouldn’t and it’s actually satisfying to see her life get destroyed because of how she behaves.

I really enjoyed the book and consequently the film; I think they made it really well considering how complex and long the story is and I am really pleased that I watched it. I feel like the film enhanced my appreciation of the story because having read it there were a lot of aspects that I didn’t really understand or couldn’t picture because I don’t have great understanding of Japanese culture. I think if you were thinking of watching it, go for it by all means, I just feel like the film and book sort of go hand in hand 🙂