BLACK PANTHER

Long Live The King

Director
Ryan Coogler

Starring
Chadwick Boseman
Michael B Jordan
Lupita Nyong’o
Danai Gurira



My review for Avengers was an incredibly messy love-letter, praising everyone involved for creating something enjoyable and thrilling that I never thought possible (as a comic book fan). Prepare yourselves because this review is going to pretty much repeat that sentiment.

Set shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns to home, the secretive country of Wakanda – a technologically advanced thriving African nation, posing as a third world country – following the death of his father. As he takes his place as monarch, his responsibilities change from warrior to leader and when an old enemy appears in South Korea, his council present different advice for how best the king can lead his people.

To start with the most outwardly obvious factor, this is a spectacularly pretty film. The production design, costumes, sets, props, hair, make-up, they all live and breathe with an exquisite beauty unique to central African culture. And this is a feat repeated multiple times as each of the five tribes have their own look and its evident that so much thought and attention has gone into every facet of the visuals on display. Going beneath the spellbinding surface, Wakanda and the way it’s represented as a thriving (albeit secretive) nation is such a singular vision; an antithetical portrayal of how African people have been presented cinematically to date. More than merely role reversal, the film raises extremely interesting questions about isolation and national responsibilities. This isn’t some surface level fantasy, an idyllic dreamland paradise but a grounded aspirational community with its own realistic faults, flaws and contradictions. This is true world building, this is what high-fantasy writers try to create when picturing a complex society unlike anywhere on Earth but one that feels like it could be real; the great tragedy is that such a place could exist were the landscape of our shared history drastically different. Another way Wakanda and its citizens are impressively created is being called to question for their inaction. They are clearly a global geopolitical force with agents placed around the world but solely for the purpose of their own protection; when operating in South Korea, their goals are exclusive and they have little time or tolerance for the workings of other nations.

In the past I have chastised Marvel for their lack of themes and engaging musical scores. By and large they feel like safe renditions of other work, sterilised and distilled from temp tracks. Thankfully, this has been changing of late and we are starting to get a few standout pieces which come closer to matching the visual accomplishments. But Black Panther hit me in a few ways. The inclusion of so many big artists makes complete sense and sets this fantastical tale in our universe; this is an obvious move and nothing stood out in a negative way. The score itself, however, by Ludwig Göransson is blisteringly good; a memorable medley of African instruments and rhythms combined with futuristic swells and impacts that we have come to expect from big superhero/scifi blockbusters. On a more depressing note, as the drums beat away and the vocals slowly rose above them, I immediately thought “Huh, reminds me of The Lion King.” In of itself a harmless statement but the fact that I can’t think of a mainstream release of extreme notoriety with an African setting that doesn’t portray the people and setting in question as a desolate warzone was crushing. And that film is filled with cartoon fucking animals!

Much like the setting, it would have been so easy to create a cadre of idealised individuals, void of failings and ultimately personality. Instead, we have an array of fascinating characters with their own motivations and visions for how their nation should be presented to the world and at the centre of them all is T’Challa, trying to establish a harmonic equilibrium. On the one hand you have T’Challa’s teenage sister Shuri [Letitia Wright] who wants to bring Wakanda further into the future with her technological plans and advancements. Equally, Nakia [Nyong’o] feels Wakanda should advance by stepping into the light and helping the world as a course of national moralistic responsibility. On the other end of the spectrum we have W’Kabi [Daniel Kaluuya] the leader of the tribe who have protected the border and feel Wakanda’s place is at the top of the food chain, leading the world – by force if necessary. I would argue that Killmonger factors into that too but I’m going to talk about him in great detail later. The moderates of the cast are General Okoye [Gurira], leader of the fearsome Dora Milaje, loyal to the throne of Wakanda, only wanting the best for her people, M’Baku [Winston Duke] leader of the isolationist mountain tribe, the Jabari and the deliciously reprehensible Klaue [Andy Serkis], a South African arms dealer who is only interested in profit and exposing Wakanda for the lie they globally project. In truth, I could list every single character and tell you why I love them, nothing is too small from the secretive world of global espionage to the smart and powerful female roles, this is such a bold feature in terms of characterisation of black people. And at the centre of all that is Boseman, carrying the weight of this entire character and franchise on his shoulders (as all Marvel leads do). Interestingly though, Black Panther is not a superhero as such. Nor is he a space cowboy, deity or wizard surgeon. He is a warrior leader of his people, balancing when to act and when to negotiate. He is as much politician as he is fighter, as much statesman as spy and Boseman carries over this diverse magnanimity from Civil War with ease.

Let me put this as simply as I can: there is next to nothing to criticise in this film. I appreciate that may sound like a copout but it’s genuinely hard to fault. One could argue that you need to watch a backlog of Marvel films to appreciate the nuances of the story but in truth, you really don’t. One could say that the CGI is a little questionable in places but what major blockbuster doesn’t suffer a few ropey shots? You could also say that the editing in the fight scenes left a little to be desired, making the action a touch hard to follow but none of these things detracted from the overall for more than a couple of minutes. The greatest negative I walked away with was the sensation of feeling robbed. That because of how films and society have supressed cultural and creative decisions we could have had decades of films of this calibre.

In summary, Black Panther undeniably stands above other Marvel features and ascends its superhero trappings to tell a pertinent story about justice, history, heritage, race, politics, pride, power and unity. Frankly, it’s a triumph.


Release Date:
16th February 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
Black Panther genuinely is a feast of standout scenes that musing on a particularly impressive moment starts a rabbit-hole spiralling of compounding scenes, evoking memories of childlike wonder with phrases like “and this happened, oh and obviously this bit.” One moment that stood out for me was Shuri and T’Challa discussing the new tech. We’re pretty used to seeing some wizened mentor like Q or Lucius Fox outfitting our hero with the latest tech but it’s rare that it actually reflects our reality by presenting an eager, talented and excitable young woman who is passionate about her advancements and in Shuri we get that by the bucket-load.

Notable Characters:
Michael B Jordan’s role as Erik “Killmonger” Stevens is quite easily Marvel’s greatest villain; complicated, deep and absolute in his belief that he is right. But more than that, the message he brings about Wakanda’s refusal to help over two billion fellow black people the world over is an incredibly powerful one. If this film were shown from a different perspective, it would be quite easy to portray Stevens as a hero. Jordan’s presence and physicality is amazing and the power and venom behind his words are brutal. Case in point, when we first see him in the role, he is observing African artefacts held in a British museum. When he challenges the curator as to the origin of a particular piece, he is met with hostility and an assumption of ignorance. A derision which is heightened when the museum official explains the items are not for sale, to which Stevens counters “How do you think your ancestors got these? They took them” A fantastic and poignant portrayal and a truly interesting, ruthless character.

Highlighted Quote:
“You’re a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be king”

In A Few Words:
“I have seen the future and it is glorious”

Total Score:

5/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #207

[11 February 2018]


Winning Team:
Atomic Dragon Calls Me It
Genre – Francis Dollarhyde dresses as a clown in Berlin

Runners Up:
Let The Right Ones Win… With Sexy Results
Genre – In 1980s Sweden a film quiz team begin communicating with the team next to them using Morse code
Nobody Puts The 80s In The Corner
Genre – Parody
PERManent Monstrosity
Genre – A hairdresser’s nightmare
My One Regret Is Having Boneitis
Genre – Finance / horror / coming of age


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. 1995’s Tank Girl was an adaptation of which comic series?
TANK GIRL
2. What resource is harvested to power Monstropolis in Monsters Inc?
SCREAMS
3. How many solo MCU Captain America have been released to date?
THREE
4. Who played the lead role in A Beautiful Mind?
RUSSELL CROWE
5. Four Weddings And A Funeral was released in which year?
1994
6. David Fincher directed Ed Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter in which film?
FIGHT CLUB
7. Amy Adams plays Princess Giselle in which Disney film?
ENCHANTED
8. The poster for Heat is predominantly what colour (other than black)?
BLUE
9. Who played the title role in 1997’s The Fifth Element?
MILLA JOVOVICH
10. In which film does Robert Mitchum play a tattooed preacher?
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER


ROUND II: Filming [80s Films Not Shot In The 80s Special]
1. Which of the following did not appear in Dallas Buyers Club? Matthew McConaughey? Jared Leto? Christian Bale?
CHRISTIAN BALE
2. What is the Red October in The Hunt For Red October? A journal? A submarine? The concept of equality through extremist socialism?
A SUBMARINE
3. What is the name of Adam Sandler’s character in The Wedding Singer? Robbie Hart? Barry Egan? Sonny Koufax?
ROBBIE HART
4. When Frank first appears, in Donnie Darko, when does he say the world will end (roughly)? 14 days? 28 days? 42 days?
TWENTY EIGHT DAYS
5. Which of the following weapons is not used by Anton Chigur in No Country For Old Men? A gas-powered bolt gun? Liquid poison delivered on a silk thread? A silenced shotgun?
SILK POISON DELIVERED ON A SILK THREAD
6. Who composed the score for Fargo? Clint Mansell? Peter Nashel? Carter Burwell?
CARTER BURWELL
7. Who plays the role of Detective Donald Kimball in American Psycho? Willem Dafoe? William Hurt? William Fichtner?
WILLEM DAFOE
8. What is the name of the company that Jordan Belfort sets up in The Wolf Of Wall Street? Newitt Greenleaf? Chapman & Lambert? Stratton Oakmont?
STRATTON OAKMONT
9. What was the budget for 2010’s Submarine? $150,000? $1.5 million? $15 million?
1.5 MILLION DOLLARS
10. All the listening and recording devices used in Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives Of Others) were actual Stasi equipment on loan from museums and collectors. True or False?
TRUE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. The following quote is from which film, “Do they understand the concept of the tooth fairy”?
THE RUNDOWN / WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
2. Which actors play the three lead roles in Million Dollar Baby? (one point per correct answer)
CLINT EASTWOOD / HILARY SWANK / MORGAN FREEMAN
3. Who directed The Kid, The Gold Rush and City Lights?
CHARLIE CHAPLIN
4. How many faces feature on the main theatrical release poster for The Grand Budapest Hotel?
SEVENTEEN (and a key)
5. MacReady, Blair, Childs, Nauls, Bennings, Clark and Norris are characters in which film?
THE THING
6. Which John Woo film tells the story of the Navajo language being used as code during World War II? [bonus points for naming the two lead actors]
WINDTALKERS [Nicolas Cage / Adam Beach]
7. What was the title of Denis Villeneuve’s first English language feature?
PRISONERS
8. Which character delivers the narration in Trainspotting?
MARK “RENT BOY” RENTON
9. Who is the first to arrive at the warehouse in Reservoir Dogs? (one point per correct answer)
WHITE / ORANGE
10. Dog Soldiers was released in which year?
2002


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. The following quote is from which film, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world”? Zero Dark Thirty? Dead Poets Society? All The President’s Men?
DEAD POETS SOCIETY
2. The Help was released in which year? 2011? 2013? 2016?
2011
3. The Maltese Falcon is set in which city? San Francisco? New York? Chicago?
SAN FRANCISCO
4. How long is 1959’s Ben-Hur? 152 mins? 212 mins? 302 mins?
212 MINS
5. What is Don Lockwood’s (played by Gene Kelly) job in Singin’ In The Rain? Silent Film Actor? Race Car Driver? Commercial Airline Pilot?
SILENT FILM ACTOR
6. Who directed 1981’s Blow Out, starring John Travolta and John Lithgow? Francis Ford Coppola? Brian De Palma? Sidney Lumet?
BRIAN DE PALMA
7. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “The rare film story of a father who must expose his children to a small town’s outraged passions”? Mississippi Burning? Intolerance? To Kill A Mockingbird?
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
8. What did David Lean direct in between The Bridge On The River Kwai and Doctor Zhivago? Lawrence Of Arabia? A Passage To India? Hobson’s Choice?
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
9. How many characters can see Death in The Seventh Seal? 2? 4? 9?
TWO (Block and Jof)
10. Grace Kelly refused to smoke on film and was subsequently never seen with a cigarette. True or False?
FALSE (the statement is true other than she made an exception for Rear Window)


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: The Legend Of Tarzan / The Big Short / Focus / Suicide Squad
Poster: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Actor: Margot Robbie


I, TONYA

The Truth Is A Matter Of Perspective

Director
Craig Gillespie

Starring
Margot Robbie
Sebastian Stan
Allison Janney
Paul Walter Hauser



I, Tonya darts back and forth between candid retrospective interviews of the main characters and the events they are describing. Tonya Harding [Robbie] is introduced as a figure skating child prodigy, an extraordinarily talented individual pushed by her extraordinarily crass and hostile mother, LaVona [Janney]. As Tonya gets older, she meets Jeff Gillooly [Stan], along with his friend Shawn Eckhardt [Hauser], and starts a relationship with the rather simple Jeff. LaVona doesn’t approve of the match at all and scolds Tonya for dating an abusive individual. Blinded by love and positing that her mother hit her too, Tonya endures the relationship. Various skating tournaments come and go before Tonya is expected to perform her signature move (the triple axel – which no other American has attempted and completed in competition) at the Olympics. Technical issues lead to her coming fourth and the media pit her and fellow US skater Nancy Kerrigan against one another. Without unceremoniously unspooling the entire story (even if it is documented history and takes place in all of the trailers), events unfold and escalate until Kerrigan is assaulted and Harding’s involvement is called into question by the authorities.

For a figure skating biopic with comic undertones, I doubt many people would go into this release knowing how heavily it focuses on themes of abuse, domestic violence and class divide in America. While the Gillooly surrogate openly proclaims none of the violence actually happened, the narrative presented states it unequivocally did and through sound design, acting and make-up, the constant onslaught that Harding endures is hard to watch. Elements are played up for comedic effect but the overall presentation of the abuse and Harding’s logic that she deserves to be hit is brutal. Equally, the snobbery and exclusion she encounters because of her background and lack of funds is crushing. Every step of the way, the fact that she is one of the best in her field is overlooked because of presentation and factors about her upbringing that she has little to no control over. On multiple occasions the judges are confronted antagonistically but when Tonya quietly tries to learn why they refuse to mark her fairly, she is told “It was never entirely about the skating;” implying that her image and lifestyle have to be one that America can be proud of when sending someone to represent them on the international scene. Hurt, she responds that she doesn’t have what America wants, “Why can’t it just be about the skating?” Once you realise that this exceptionally talented individual is getting beaten up and home and shut out of the one thing she’s good at, it’s heart-breaking and all builds to present a truly sympathetic central character – despite the incident she is most famously associated with.

Most biopics tend to pull centre focus on their subject and one of the greatest criticisms of this is that the supporting roles get lost in the background. This is far from the case here as the peripheral characters are rather eccentric and ensure a more rounded experience. Starting with the most eccentric, Alison Janney steals every single scene she is in by being both maniacally fun but completely irredeemable. She reasons that her motivations are sound because her own mother was nice which didn’t get her anywhere in life, whereas LaVona’s cruel manner with Tonya ensures inspiration and a thirst for success. Much like JK Simmons’ character in Whiplash I wholeheartedly disagree with this but (again much like Simmons) the performance is so intense and so repulsive, for lack of a better word, that we can’t look away and relish every moment this larger than life pseudo-villain is on screen. Two of the other prominent performances come from Stan and Hauser as Jeff and Shawn respectively. These two are hilariously pathetic male characters and feel very evocative of the self-righteous trolls that populate and patrol the internet. Weak, small, overinflated sense of ego, warped view of their importance to the story and utterly responsible for Toyna’s downfall (according to this narrative at least). Yet despite being awful human beings, both are made surprisingly endearing and entertaining through the performances.

Up until recently I’ve never been particularly impressed by either Chris Gillespie’s work or that of composer, Peter Nashel. Thankfully both work exceptionally well here. Gillespie weaves between tension and levity with ease while Nashel channels the darker tones of Carter Burwell – most notable during the execution of the assault on Kerrigan. But for everything that Gillespie gets right there are a few creative decisions which I simply can’t agree with. The majority of the film is presented through flashback as detailed in interviews by older versions of the characters, reflecting on the events. In addition to this narrative structure, every now-and-then, the film opts to break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. It’s not a bad choice but it’s a seemingly neglected one which appears infrequently and feels a little jarring. Arguably one would assume the film should have gone full Wolf Of Wall Street/24 Hour Party People and do away with the interviews or just have the interviews – but the mix of both doesn’t always have the desired effect. Speaking of desired effect, the presentation of the skating routines is one which will age very badly. Admittedly, for a small independent release, the CGI masks over Robbie’s skate double are really good and the editing between each component is very impressive but when the CGI masks are obvious, they really draw you out of the impact of the moment and the achievement. There’s also the issue of plot threads that never really develop. Admittedly these are minor things but with all the jumping around, certain elements are lost in the edit. Case in point, we see a shotgun scene which we all assume will be explained but never is and Bobby Cannavale’s character is never really seen outside of the interviews so his connection to the story seems stale. And finally we have a matter of taste and opinion – the idea of horror played for laughs (much like Fargo). What happened to Kerrigan was condemnable and while this film chooses to focus on Harding’s involvement, or lack thereof, without really addressing Kerrigan as anything more than a catalytic plot point rather than a developed character. In truth, I can’t confidently say that she has any dialogue throughout the film. I, Tonya does its best to skew the roles of villain and victim but the film could have been a touch deeper if they had time to explore Nancy’s story a little more. Having said that, with a two hour run time, maybe that would push it over the edge into fully bloated territory. Who’s to say?

As with most January releases (in Britain, at least) this will be an acting award magnet and rightfully so. Unlike other biopics, it neatly avoids the traps and pitfalls of its genre and presents itself as a thoroughly engrossing and arguably well-balanced piece.


Release Date:
23rd February 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
After a disappointing performance, LaVona scolds her daughter for being graceless and not caring. Feeling that all the hard work has been squandered, LaVona lashes out at the dinner table, chasing her daughter around, hurling objects at her. After one particular comment, LaVona casually picks up a knife and throws it at Tonya. Both women are startled at first before Tonya pulls the knife from her arm, slams it on the table and storms out, leaving LaVona in the only visible state of shock and regret expressed throughout the entire film; only to have the moment undercut by cutting to LaVona’s interview tape wherein she counters, “What family doesn’t argue?” It’s a nice slice of how the film takes something genuinely awful and lightens the mood with just a touch of dark levity. Whether you feel that creates awareness of abuse or cheapens it, is your call.

Notable Characters:
Like Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher or Miles Teller in Whiplash, a great deal of the praise will fall at the feet of the more outlandish performance, meaning Janney will get the lion’s share of the attention. Considering the performance she gives, I would say that is completely fair but not at the expense of Robbie. I’ve always appreciated Margot Robbie’s acting (cinematic at least) and her role as Tanya is one of extreme mental, physical and emotional dedication that it would be impossible not to acknowledge the craft on display.

Highlighted Quote:
“And all those people who said I couldn’t make it. Fuck you, I did”

In A Few Words:
“A tense, energetic and extremely well-performed piece with hearty doses of black comedy throughout”

Total Score:

4/5

PHANTOM THREAD

Beneath The Surface

Director
Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring
Daniel Day Lewis
Vicky Krieps
Lesley Manville



Reynolds Woodcock [Day Lewis] is a renowned fashion designer, tailoring dresses for the upper echelons of 1950’s London with the help of his sister, Cyril [Manville]. Following the debut of a dress commissioned for a countess, Woodcock heads to his country home. While there he meets a young quizzical waitress, Alma Elson [Krieps] and pursues her. Soon, Alma is plunged into Woodcock’s world and quickly learns of his more unpleasant side as the veneer of his charm thins.

When entering a Paul Thomas Anderson feature, I think it’s fair to say one should know what to expect – perhaps not in terms of story but of the tone, a potentially meandering flow and intensity of character. More often than not, I seek out Anderson’s films specifically for these things and relish in the curiosities on display. Subsequently, Phantom Thread was a very difficult film for me to process, largely because I can appreciate why it could be considered good but I feel it faltered in various places.

Addressing where the film succeeds, it’s evident that the characterisation is spectacular and fascinating. The central trinity of performances (Reynolds, Alma and Cyril) are powerfully intriguing and difficult to look away from. They are seemingly heightened yet grounded in reality and the tension between them is unbearable at times, despite the fact that very little danger ever feels present. With Reynolds we have a clearly talented but horrendously arrogant and insecure man. The difference between him and other iconic roles by Daniel Day Lewis is that I never felt the need to probe deeper into the psyche of this individual. He was merely an oddity and I didn’t overly care what happened to him. Neither wishing malice toward him nor wanting him to succeed I was left apathetic to his tale; which, for someone of such extreme personality, certainly shouldn’t be the case. Then we have Alma, our audience surrogate, who is whisked into this world of high-fashion and extreme devotion to an idea. Krieps performs wonderfully and holds her own with her co-stars masterfully but the deeper Alma settles into Reynolds’ life the less she functions as a surrogate and reveals herself equally as bizarre as her fellow characters. Finally, we have the curt and prim Cyril, who initially feels like a walked-over sibling but through a few subtle and simple gestures and lines, we learn that she has survived alongside her brother as both a master interpreter (for lack of a better word) and keenly intelligent superintendent.

Phantom Thread also functions as an exquisite example of technical function, combining absolutely stunning costume design with smoky, muted cinematography. Initially I wasn’t a fan of the score at all; it starts off somewhat out of place, like a late musical replacement forced onto an edit that doesn’t suit it. It’s only later that it seems to sit neater as we are exposed to Reynolds’ true manner. Which could be argued is a nice parallel of the film itself, showing us a picturesque 50s Britain that simply doesn’t exist anymore but is fondly remembered and this older romantic, enigmatic figure only for the film to unfurl and reveal this vicious environment centred by a disturbing individual, escalating something frankly slow and dull into something deeply difficult and painful to watch.

Unfortunately, for me at least, the film simply didn’t work. The first third is relatively tedious and only hints at something of greater interest through the mystery of the reflective book-end narrative – which has Alma describing Reynolds with an honest affection. The central section is uncomfortable and where the film arguably works best, showing Alma surrounded by cold, robotic individuals, void of expression in a manner we can relate to or interpret. Presenting Alma as a naïve, impressionable young woman we want her to escape the rude, abrasive, controlling nature of the House of Woodcock. And then there’s the third act which feels like it will illustrate the consequences of a woman scorned but twists to become a very unorthodox love story; which I both loved and hated.

Ultimately, cinema is about experiences, be they positive or otherwise and while I walked away from this film imbued with thoughts and emotions I wouldn’t say they were predominantly complimentary. Phantom Thread is undeniably a well-crafted feature but odd in its flow and not all together entertaining outside of the unusual fetishistic waltz between the central characters; leaving it one of Anderson’s weakest.


Release Date:
2nd February 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
Shortly after Alma and Reynolds first meet, he invites her back to his country house and asks if he can make a dress for her. For Alma it is an extremely romantic encounter, this new liaison in extreme close proximity, exploring every detail of her body while partially clothed; the whole thing is played very sensual and flirtatious. Yet all of that changes so quickly with the addition of Cyril, whom Alma has not met. Suddenly this intimate moment is exposed as a very clinical examination with all of Alma’s intricacies laid bare and her left feeling rather foolish. It’s a wonderful little vignette and tells us so much about the manner in which these characters see the world, themselves and each other.

Notable Characters:
This is unquestionably Day Lewis’ film. The part is grandiose but only really because of the actor – on paper there isn’t a great deal to work with but the backstory, the unspoken quirks and elements of his personality are what make him towering. Reynolds is both overpowering yet frail, childish yet composed and talented yet unable to grow. Day Lewis’ concentration, devotion and obsession for the craft feel completely real and when Reynolds sets out to find Alma at the New Year’s party, it is evident his fixated obsession has shifted somewhat from clothes to her, through manipulation and design.

Highlighted Quote:
“That’s such a sweet sentiment.. at such a bad timeI think it’s the expectations and assumptions of others that cause heartache”

In A Few Words:
“Both provocative and hollow, Phantom Thread suffers from being a film at odds with itself, neither moving and memorable nor utterly lifeless”

Total Score:

3/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #206

[28 January 2018]


Winning Team:
Rock Bottom
Genre – Eddie and Ritchie open up a hotel on Alcatraz which is then overrun by terrorists. Seemingly outnumbered, help comes from an unlikely ally – Spongebob (voiced by Sean Connery)

Runners Up:
The Elm Street Posse
Genre – In a parallel universe, Norfolk’s finest (Horatio Nelson, Stephen Fry and Delia Smith) team up to become the first Norfolk based wrestling troupe and become world champions with their signature move: the full nelson
Stone Cold Steve Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery
Genre – Steven Austin is frozen in 1999 and defrosted in 2109 to fight a fem’bot’inist
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Genre – The new biopic of Dwayne The Rock Johnson
Juman-jina
Genre – Another sexist remake
Blade Runner 2069
Genre – SciFi


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Dances With Wolves was adapted from which book by Michael Blake?
DANCES WITH WOLVES
2. What is the title of the sequel to Alien?
ALIENS
3. How many Godfather films were made?
THREE
4. What is the name of the villain in The Little Mermaid?
URSULA
5. Who directed Lock, Stock & Two Smokin’ Barrels?
GUY RITCHIE
6. What did M Night Shyamalan direct in between The Sixth Sense and Signs?
UNBREAKABLE
7. What colour is Leonardo’s mask in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
BLUE
8. Which 1992 western starred Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman?
UNFORGIVEN
9. What is the name of the tiger-shaped cave in Aladdin?
THE CAVE OF WONDERS
10. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “Mankind was born on Earth, it wasn’t meant to die here”
INTERSTELLAR


ROUND II: Filming [Wrestlers Special]
1. [Ernest The Cat Miller] Who played the lead role in The Wrestler? John Cena? Sylvester Stallone? Mickey Rourke? [bonus point for naming who was originally cast in the lead role]
MICKEY ROURKE [Nicolas Cage]
2. [Tyler Mane/Big Sky] X-Men was released in which year? 1999? 2000? 2001?
2000
3. [Kevin Nash] Who directed Magic Mike? Steven Soderbergh? Michael Mann? Richard Linklater?
STEVEN SODERBERGH
4. [Hulk Hogan] Hulk Hogan appeared in which instalment of the Rocky franchise? Rocky II? Rocky III? Creed?
ROCKYIII
5. [Jerry The King Lawler] 1999’s Man On The Moon, starring Jim Carrey is a biopic about which actor? Andy Kaufman? Bill Hicks? John Belushi?
ANDY KAUFMAN
6. [Jesse Ventura] The following quote is from which Arnold Schwarzenegger film, “I live to see you eat that contract. But I hope you leave room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine”? Predator? The Running Man? Eraser?
THE RUNNING MAN
7. [Macho Man Randy Savage] What colour are the eyes on Green Goblin’s helmet in Spider-Man? White? Yellow? Red?
YELLOW
8. [The Big Show] What did Adam Sandler star in (lead role), in between The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy? The Waterboy? Bulletproof? Little Nicky?
THE WATERBOY
9. [Terry Funk] In Roadhouse, what is the specialised title given to the kind of bouncer that Patrick Swayze’s character is? Breaker? Blocker? Cooler?
COOLER
10. [Dave Batista] The Man With The Iron Fists was originally a sequel to the video game, Wu Tang: Shaolin Style. True or False?
FALSE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Frances Halladay is the lead character in which film?
FRANCES HA
2. The following quote is from which film, “I’d like you to tell me that you are and have been a false prophet and that God is a superstition”?
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
3. In which film is a Speak & Spell, an umbrella lined with tinfoil and a coffee can used to communicate with aliens?
E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
4. In You’ve Got Mail, both Joe and Kathleen work for companies selling what?
BOOKS
5. What is the name of Kiefer Sutherland’s character in The Lost Boys?
DAVID
6. Jason Clarke, Shia LeBeouf and Tom Hardy played brothers in which John Hillcoat film?
LAWLESS
7. Excluding the theme park ride but including straight-to-DVD releases, how many Honey I Shrunk The Kids films featured Rick Moranis?
THREE (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids / Honey, I Blew Up The Kid / Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves)
8. The following quote is from which film, “This is your wakeup call. I am an FBI agent”?
POINT BREAK
9. 10 Things I Hate About You was released in which year?
1999
10. What is Harry Hart’s (played by Colin Firth) codename in Kingsman: The Secret Service?
GALAHAD


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. The story of Scarface takes place over how many years? 2? 3? 4?
FOUR (1980-83)
2. The following quote/poster tagline is from which film, “If I could only have one food for the rest of my life? That’s easy. Pez. Cherry flavour Pez. No question about it”? Stand By Me? Dazed And Confused? Super-Size Me?
STAND BY ME
3. Who directed the 2005 adaptation of Rent? David Yates? Chris Columbus? Alfonso Cuaron?
CHRIS COLUMBUS
4. Which of the following was digitally added to Children Of Men? Yellow EU stars on the Union flag? The words English Telecom on the BT tower? The Shard?
THE SHARD
5. What is the name of Scarlett O’Hara’s family cotton plantation in Gone With The Wind? Tara? Erin? Inis?
TARA
6. Who composed the score for Signs? Howard Shore? James Newton Howard? James Horner?
JAMES NEWTON HOWARD
7. In Django Unchained, what did Dr King Schultz do before becoming a bounty hunter? Taxman? Farmer? Dentist?
DENTIST
8. What is the name of the school in The Breakfast Club? Hughes High? North Midwestern High? Shermer High?
SHERMER HIGH SCHOOL
9. Which principal knight does Terry Jones play in Monty Python & The Holy Grail? Gawain? Bedevere? Bors?
BEDEVERE
10. Shell Cottage in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 had 4,500 individual shells glued on the roof but is only seen on film in the background of a few shots. True or False?
TRUE


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Misery / The Day The Earth Stood Still / Titanic / Dick Tracy
Poster: Revolutionary Road
Actor: Kathy Bates


COCO

The Celebration Of A Lifetime

Director
Lee Unkrich

Starring
Anthony Gonzalez
Gael García Bernal
Benjamin Bratt



Miguel [Gonzalez] is a young boy living in Mexico who stems from a long line of cobblers. Music is forbidden in his family after his great great grandfather ran off to be a musician, abandoning his family. But Miguel has the heart of an artist and is a skilled guitar player. On the Day Of The Dead – the one day of the year the ghosts of ancestors past visit the Earth – Miguel defies his family and steals the guitar of deceased legendary artist Ernesto de la Cruz [Bratt]. In doing so, Miguel is cursed for stealing from the dead and crosses over to the land of the dead. There he meets up with his relatives who agree to send him back providing he gives up on his dream to be a musician. Believing de la Cruz to be his grandfather, Miguel enlists the help of Hector [Bernal], a man who claims to know de la Cruz.

When Coco was first announced I had immediate concerns that it would be little more than a shallow hybrid of The Book Of Life and Corpse Bride, a Diseny-fied cash grab that could monopolise an entire cultural festival in a blatant example of appropriation. I blame this knee-jerk reaction on the flailing calibre of releases that Pixar have put out of late. Thankfully I was not only proved wrong but Coco is better than both films and a genuinely worthy addition to the finest elements of the Pixar catalogue. Other than the surface story, there are so many mature concepts of legacy, identity, raising questions of the importance of shared culture, the prominence of family, the unwavering nature of traditions and feuds and broaching how a child (or adults) can deal with life, happiness and death.

One of the most immediately obvious factors is the lengths the film goes to respect the Mexican culture and influences, it also doesn’t hold its punches or dumb down the content for those unfamiliar with festivals like Dia de los Muertos. In that way, I was extremely impressed by the confidence with which the bilingual dialogue slips effortlessly back-and-forth and that the entire principal cast is of Latino origin. To my mind I wouldn’t say there is a single character who feels poorly executed – but I will come back to that later. In fact, this is the first film with a nine figure budget to contain an all Latino cast; which, when I learned that, caused my heart to sink a little for much like Black Panther, these shouldn’t be milestones/firsts/achievements. How are we still at the stage where there is only one film with this kind of funding but at least change is happening – albeit slowly.

Going back to trailers for a minute, there’s something about the impact of a shot or reveal which is completely lost in a snapshot – hopefully I don’t need to explain or justify why – for animated films this also includes the quality of animation. Sure, we can get a feeling of what to expect but it’s only when you see the characters progressing through a narrative to the degree you forget it’s not real that we feel the impact of the quality of the work – not to the degree of ethnographic animation but you get the idea. In simpler terms, I didn’t appreciate from the promotional material how detailed the animation would be. From the character designs to the often photorealistic lighting, the uncanny valley is sidestepped. We are not trying to convince ourselves that these characters are the same as a photographed human but the meticulous detail lends an exceptional amount of weight to the deception that they are indeed real; for how can something that complex be fake? Mexico is decently represented in a semi-eraless fashion, allowing audiences to believe this could have taken place any time in the last fifty years (even though it’s quite clearly set in the present) and the vibrancy of the afterlife is as wondrous and enchanting as it is overwhelming.

**Spoilers throughout**
For all Coco’s positives, it’s not exactly perfect but the complaints that follow are so minor that they barely register – but being a review, it would be wrong not to at least highlight them. First off we have the nature of the pleasing but straightforward plot. For kids and those who don’t go to the cinema often, the twist about Miguel’s forebears will be mind-blowing but in truth, the clues are very plainly laid out. I’ll admit, once I pieced it together, I was quite fearful it wouldn’t be the case – after all, the fact de la Cruz is such a national icon, it would be incredibly unlikely that no one would remember he left a family behind. Either way, there is a sizeable amount of convenience at work here but no more than most family releases. Another thing that got to me a little was the particulars of how an individual extends their life in the land of the dead. The only reason Hector agrees to help Miguel is under the agreement that he will take a picture with him (no idea how he has that in the first place but whatever) and place it on an ofrenda. But then he later explains that the picture alone isn’t enough, you need someone who knew them when they were alive to prolong their existence – but if that were true what would be achieved by giving Miguel the picture? Although I also don’t understand how everyone is dressed as they were when they died except for Hector who is in ragged clothes. Granted, we could argue it’s a side-effect of being forgotten but then when his identity is restored and he visits the following year, he’s still dresses shabby. And my final gripe is largely due to the nature of immaturity and low-hanging fruit in “children’s films” with the handful of cringey sophomoric jokes and antics which feel cheap considering the depth of the overall content.

Bright, funny, beautiful and emotional, Coco is one of the strongest Pixar releases in years and feels like a real return to form after Disney animated features have pulled ahead. My only concern now is the sense of déjà vu I had when reviewing Inside Out and the upcoming release schedule which contains very little original content.


Release Date:
19th January 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
While trying to contact de la Cruz at a rehearsal (which he is not attending), Miguel meets Frida Kahlo who explains how her pre-show opener is going to go. Even without understanding or knowing who Kahlo is, the sequence is indicative of creatives with an unlimited budget and is very amusingly presented.

Notable Characters:
One of Coco’s core strengths is its ability to feel relatable. One of the biggest obstacles films about non English speaking cultures face is that audiences won’t be able to keep up with the glossary of unfamiliar terms or they won’t be able to see themselves in any of the characters. But, much like The Godfather the elements of family and belonging transcend the exclusionary nature of specific heritage and become universal [I honestly can’t believe I’m typing this as, to me, this should be a standard of all storytelling but some people just can’t see past the status quo]. A lot of this comes down to the great performances and quirky characters present that can be found in most families worldwide. Having said that, one of the main developments between rivals (trying to avoid spoilers here), supernatural elements aside, plays out like a Mexican soap opera and that’s pretty marvellous.

Highlighted Quote:
“That’s such a sweet sentiment.. at such a bad time”

In A Few Words:
“A stellar, emotional, fantastic feature that outshines anything Pixar has released in the last three years”

Total Score:

5/5

THE POST

Truth Over Silence

Director
Steven Spielberg

Starring
Meryl Streep
Tom Hanks



Following a prologue set during the Vietnam war, reporter Daniel Ellsberg starts smuggling out reports which highlight how the US government was lying about the validity and direction of a potential (and then very real) war in Vietnam. We are later introduced to Washington Post owner, Katharine Graham [Streep], who is taking her company public to ensure its future but simultaneously feels doing so would rob her lineage of control over the paper itself – something her father and grandfather insisted upon. We later learn that Graham was never the intended head of the company, that The Post was left to her husband before he committed suicide. The editor in chief of the paper, Ben Bradlee [Hanks] is performing his duties as normal when he realises that one of The New York Times’ top writers hasn’t had a story for months – which invariably means he is working on some big scoop. It is later revealed that the story in question is an expose about the leaked government documents. Following an injunction from the White House, the Times is told it is not allowed to publish any further findings. Through a combination of investigating and luck, one of Bradlee’s writers come across the papers and both Bradlee and Graham are forced to decide what is more important, the company or the truth.

The central talking point of this release was always going to be twofold: the acting and parallels with the current White House administration. Tackling the former, the script doesn’t offer a great deal to stretch the abilities of those gathered but what is on display is still damn fine entertainment. On the one hand you have Tom Hanks leading the charge of freedom of the press, commanding a pool of outraged writers all of whom are desperate to go after the government for the lies they told in an attempt to make a statement and notable change to how things operate. Hanks’ manner and cadence are brasher than the performances we have become used to but underneath it, he is still operating in the same way he always has in recent years – being a relatable, charming, proactive character with a wise, doting wife who acts as his counsel. The other half is Meryl Streep battling a board of old white men who believe she is not suitable for the position she currently holds, that no woman can take the place of a man; so while trying to retain control of her family’s newspaper for her children and grandchildren, she is making bold practical statements about a woman’s place in business management.

Admittedly, I was initially taken aback by Streep’s portrayal, if only because the advertising failed to convey that Streep’s character lacked a degree of outward confidence and that her unsureness is part of what makes her a compelling individual. The assembled supports are all impressive enough but again nobody is pushed to do anything overtly demanding or outside their experience/expertise; if anything we are left with a conveyor of famous faces that crop up in various roles. I will note though, that Streep’s discussion with her daughter (played by Alison Brie) is very interesting. She talks frankly about her husband’s inheriting of the company, that she didn’t see this as at all unusual. This raises a great deal of comments and questions about the evolution of “a woman’s place”, gender politics and the fact that there is the constant presence of extra scrutiny over her actions, solely because of her gender rather than her capability. It’s a scene that is acted brilliantly but doesn’t say anything new. But then again, maybe it’s not supposed to, maybe it’s just saying the same thing over and over until the mainstream listen and act accordingly. Which, in a way, reflects the general message of the paper’s publishing plot thread: if you have a voice, it is your responsibility to use that voice for the common good.

As can be expected from a film with access to resources of this nature, the production design is magnificent, as are all the period-relevant aspects. Janusz Kaminski’s lights the set pieces superbly, cornering out where one need focus in something like a busy newspaper office with tens of desks, writers and clacking typewriters to distract the eyes. I would also add that The Post contains some of the more creative shots than that of any Spielberg film in recent years. But on the technical front there are a handful of faults, the first is the underwhelming score and some truly questionable CGI, which, considering this is the man who brought us Jurassic Park, is truly bizarre.

As stated earlier, the key take aways from this feature are the performances and the overt jab at the Trump presidency. The Nixon years were rife with protest, hatred, scandal and it all ended rather pitifully but Nixon’s attitude to the press bears a similarity (in all honesty, nothing is similar to what is happening right now) to how Trump shuts out the press and is therefore more relevant than ever. This urgency to get the story out while it reflects contemporary politics serves to highlight one of the biggest causes of the film’s faltering. Saying history is cyclical is nothing new to anyone who knows anything about history but the fact that everyone involved is trying to derail that endless cycle of betrayal and cover-up is extremely admirable. Having said that, the final piece feels a little rushed, from the simplistic characters to the inconsistent VFX to the fact that the choice was made to focus solely on the exploits of The Washington Post alone, rather than being a double-header narrative going back and forth with The New York Times and their germinating story. It could also have helped soften the blow of the Rogue One-esque ending which offers the briefest tease of the Watergate break-in.

In reality, these are only minor problems but they are problems that have no business being present in a film with resources of this calibre and issues at this level downgrade an outstanding film to a merely decent one. With the high profile success of Spotlight I wouldn’t expect this to be the last mainstream release about investigative journalism but in order to push actual change, I think they need to be stronger and significantly bolder – the trouble with that being, the more we get with the same formula, the more diluted the impact will be.


Release Date:
19th January 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
Streep and Hanks’ first scene together is typically Spielbergian. Both characters of immense power and charm meet in a quaint, unsuspecting setting (having a monthly scheduled breakfast) which starts pleasantly enough but quickly devolves into talking over one another before a very distinct shift in tone causes one to fall silent and analyse the other’s intentions. And the whole thing, up until that emotional crescendo, takes place in a single unbroken shot. It’s far from impactful on the story but it serves as a wonderful introduction to the relationship between these two individuals and shows off just how good everyone involved (in front of and behind the camera) is at their craft.

Notable Characters:
One of the more unsuspecting roles is that of journalist Ben Bagdikian played by Bob Odenkirk. Odenkirk has always been a great comedic actor but when given a dramatic role he really shines. It’s hard to be memorable, let alone standout when competing with the likes of Streep and Hanks but Odenkirk really feels like he bridges the gap between quirky office drama and national secrets thriller.

Highlighted Quote:
“They knew we couldn’t win and they still sent boys to die”

In A Few Words:
“Much like Bridge Of Spies and Lions For Lambs, The Post is a commendable well-performed release but will ultimately make very little impact outside of its initial release”

Total Score:

4/5

14TH ANNUAL RRH AWARDS (2017)

Best Motion Picture Of The Year
The Handmaiden
Moonlight
Your Name
Get Out
Blade Runner 2049
The Big Sick
Logan
Wonder Woman
War For The Planet Of The Apes
A Ghost Story

Worst Motion Picture Of The Year
Baywatch
Transformers: The Last Knight
The Mummy
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge
The Emoji Movie

Most Over-rated Motion Picture of 2017
Baby Driver

Most Under-rated Motion Picture of 2017
Assassin’s Creed

Best Animated Feature
Loving Vincent
The Lego Batman Movie
Cars 3

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Kaluuya [Get Out]
Casey Affleck [Manchester By The Sea]
Ashton Sanders [Moonlight]
Kumail Nanjiani [The Big Sick]
Andy Serkis [War For The Planet Of The Apes]

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Min-hee Kim [The Handmaiden]
Tae-ri Kim [The Handmaiden]
Dafne Keen [Logan]
Taraji P Henson [Hidden Figures]
Gal Gadot [Wonder Woman]

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Adam Driver [Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi]
Mahershala Ali [Moonlight]
Jung-woo Ha [The Handmaiden]
Issei Ogata [Silence]
Ray Romano [The Big Sick]

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Janelle Monae [Hidden Figures]
Ana De Armas [Blade Runner 2049]
Michelle Williams [Manchester By The Sea]
Tiffany Haddish [Girls Trip]
Holly Hunter [The Big Sick]

Best Achievement in Directing
Chan-wook Park [The Handmaiden]
Makoto Shinkai [Your Name]
Barry Jenkins [Moonlight]
Denis Villeneuve [Blade Runner 2049]
Jordan Peele [Get Out]

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Get Out
The Big Sick
Split
Free Fire
Brigsby Bear

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
The Handmaiden
The Death Of Stalin
Moonlight
Blade Runner 2049
The Disaster Artist

Best Achievement for Original Musical Score
Shiro Sagisu [Shin Godzilla]
Jed Kurzel [Assassin’s Creed]
Daniel Hart [A Ghost Story]
Michael Abels [Get Out]
Hans Zimmer [Dunkirk]

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Roger Deakins [Blade Runner 2049]
Chung-hoon Chung [The Handmaiden]
Rodrigo Prieto [Silence]
Darius Khondji [The Lost City Of Z]
Adam Arkapaw [Assassin’s Creed]

Best Achievement in Editing
Hacksaw Ridge
Assassin’s Creed
Dunkirk
Split
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi

Best Achievement in Production Design
Blade Runner 2049
Wonder Woman
The Death Of Stalin
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Ghost In The Shell

Best Achievement in Costume Design
The Handmaiden
The Death Of Stalin
The Beguiled
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Silence

Best Achievement in Hair & Makeup
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Silence
Thor: Ragnarok
Hacksaw Ridge

Best Achievement in Sound
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Blade Runner 2049
Shin Godzilla
Dunkirk
La La Land

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
War For The Planet Of The Apes
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Blade Runner 2049
Assassin’s Creed
Alien Covenant

THE SHAPE OF WATER

A Fairy Tale For Troubled Times

Director
Guillermo Del Toro

Starring
Sally Hawkins
Doug Jones
Michael Shannon
Richard Jenkins
Octavia Spencer
Michael Stuhlbarg



Set in the early 1960’s we are introduced to Elisa Esposito [Hawkins], a mute cleaner at a military facility, and her artist neighbour Giles [Jenkins], both of whom share a love for old movies and romantic musicals. Elisa’s main friend at work is the down-to-earth loquacious Zelda Fuller [Spencer]. Every night they work their way through the high-security facility, cleaning everything after the scientific and military minds have all but vacated the premises. One fateful day a specimen is brought to a containment room, along with the terrifying man who captured it, Colonel Richard Strickland [Shannon]. Neither Elisa nor Zelda care much for the brash, yet deceptively polite, Strickland but one evening, Elisa investigates what is being kept in the tank and comes face to face with an amphibious creature [Jones] who responds to music and her natural kindness. The two form a simple bond but pressures on the scientific team to learn more about the creature threaten their secret budding friendship.

I find it fascinating that the villains and monsters of cinema past are being repackaged as the heroes of this century. The same thing happened in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, where Kong was presented as less of a monstrous, horny beast and more a lonely soul. In terms of plot, Del Toro’s unofficial reworking of The Creature From The Black Lagoon actually has a closer link, in terms of story, to that of its dire sequel, Revenge of the Creature and salvaging anything from that mess is commendable in of itself. But more than the obvious route of simply wanting to see a horror character fall in love with a human, Del Toro’s fantastical plot allegorically applies to all the undesirables of our past; people dubbed by mainstream society as undeserving of happiness: homosexuals, minorities, the disabled, etc. While it’s not exactly subtle, it’s not trying to be. I could easily imagine this film being set in the present day but by showing us a less understanding and tolerant time, allows the film to draw a parallel between something a contemporary audience would find impossibly uncomfortable and something held to the same standards decades ago. Now, not for a minute am I comparing homosexual relationships, racial prejudices or abandonment of the disabled to falling in love with a fish man but the feelings of disdain projected by others is masterfully executed in a way that only cinema can and offers a crushing portrayal of intolerance and arrogance of established societal norms – which is ultimately fantasy/science fiction’s greatest tool.

While very distinctly a Guillermo Del Toro film, littered with beautiful shadow work, a rich colour palate, clockwork mechanics and things in jars everywhere, The Shape Of Water is visually and tonally reminiscent of La Cité Des Enfants Perdus. A feeling magnified by the deep period-appropriate score from Alexandre Desplat with its beautiful, soulful mix of strings the occasional accordion. On top of that, the direction is second to none, everything runs with precision, the tension builds delightfully and the camera movements are beautiful and clever. While I appreciate there is a fair amount of unseen subtle CGI at work, the production design – from the costumes to the sets, to the stunning amphibian man prosthetics – give the film an ageless quality and a grounding in reality that allows us deeper immersion into the more fanciful elements.

In addition to beautiful visuals and an extremely powerful heart beating at its core, this release is rife with fascinating characters. Seemingly everyone has a story and a personality, all the way from the complex lead to a random man at a bus stop with several balloons and a cake missing a slice; there are potential stories everywhere. I would even go one step further and say there isn’t a single weak component on the acting front, merely a sliding scale in different forms of excellence. I’ll admit, that sounds like hyperbole but it’s genuinely difficult to think of any one performance that felt feeble or out of place. To say Doug Jones’ performance is a graceful exercise in bringing horrific beauty to life is a bit of a moot point, that’s a sentiment which could be said of any of his roles and we can all agree, the man possess a physicality which is frankly unworldly. Then we have Sally Hawkins who is so desperately human and utterly compelling; again, drawing that Jean Pierre Jeunet comparison, she feels very evocative of his quirky, esoterically charming leads. The supports around her are equally masterful from Shannon’s bizarre and intimidating Richard Strickland, Stuhlbarg’s caring but suspicious Dr Hoffstetler, Octavia Spencer’s loveable and affable Zelda Fuller and Richard Jenkins’ timid but honourable neighbour Giles; your heart goes out to all of them.. well, except the military men, obviously – their manner is initially presented as pleasant but they’re ultimately the real monsters.

The only downside I could find is that it didn’t exceed my expectations. This may sound like an odd observation and a purely personal one but if you have any familiarity with or understanding of the influences on Del Toro’s work, you’ll know exactly where and how the entire film is going to develop. As with his last two features (Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak), the pastiches and homage materials are clear and you can generally work out the plot as it’s unfolding. I appreciate that’s almost the point of the film, to emulate and replicate the best elements of what came before, while elevating it into something more but in doing so, you never escape the progressional trappings of the narrative. I would really like to mention something covered in the first few shots of the film but unfortunately I cannot without going into spoiler territory – suffice it to say, I could tell how the film would end based on this one thing.

I can’t imagine this film will be for everyone and the rather visceral, unflinching nature of the violence and sexual content may shock some but for the genuinely radiant love story at the centre, this film is a masterwork.


Release Date:
14th February 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Spoilers**
In one of the film’s boldest choices (and there are plenty of bold choices made) Elisa is desperate to convey to the Amphibian Man the importance of his presence in her life. Frustrated and in a clear state of agony of the barrier between them, the lights fade and a spotlight appears on her. Softly, she mouths out sounds, reciting the words of ** from **. The faint singing builds before exploding into a black and white musical number with Elisa in a ballroom gown on an elaborate set, dancing with the Amphibian Man. What should be a completely laugh-out-loud moment is actually an extremely moving one.

Notable Characters:
While everyone shines in their own way, this film wouldn’t exist as it does without the phenomenal pairing of Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins. The pair deliver something challenging, both for themselves as actors and to audiences, foregoing one of an actor’s main tools of conveying feeling, thought, opinion, etc. They also overcome the absurdity factor effortlessly and at no point did I question the relationship between these two.

Highlighted Quote:
“The only thing I recognise when I look in the mirror are these eyes in this old man’s face”

In A Few Words:
“An undeniably beautiful, heartrending love story and one of Del Toro’s most mature releases to date”

Total Score:

5/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #205

[14 January 2018]


Winning Team:
Hungry Hungry Hemsworths
Genre – Chris, Luke and Liam licence themselves for a board game when acting dries up

Runners Up:
We Thor’t Of A Clever Pun But Decided To Keep It Loki
Genre – Liam Hemsworth plays Chris Hemsworth’s brother Luke in a body swap comedy with ghosts
One Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
Genre – Slightly depressing documentary about the Hemsworth brothers
The Special Round Shoulda Been About Hiddleston
Genre – Self-explanatory really
Thor And His Expendable Brothers
Genre – Generic blockbuster
Thor A-Heard A Rush Of Wind
Genre – Super gran who whips Thor’s arse
Mocking Thor: That’s Just Loki
Genre – Homoerotic futuristic rom com
And The Oscar For Shittiest Team Name Goes To..
Genre – Thriller


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the name of the theme park in Jurassic World?
JURASSIC WORLD
2. What is the name of the main British secret agent in Dr No?
JAMES BOND
3. How many Bridget Jones films have been made to date?
THREE
4. What colour is Paddington’s uncle’s hat in the film of the same name?
RED
5. Who directed Dunkirk?
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
6. Who played the role of Captain Phillips in the film of the same name?
TOM HANKS
7. What is the name of Hercules’ love interest in the Disney animated film of the same name?
MEG / MEGARA
8. The following quote is from which film, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads”?
BACK TO THE FUTURE
9. The characters Jack, Danny and Wendy Torrance all appear in which film?
THE SHINING
10. How many members make up The Avengers central team in the film of the same name?
SIX (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye)


ROUND II: Filming [The Hemsworths]
1. Chris Hemsworth plays the father of which original series character in Star Trek? Leonard McCoy? Spock? James Kirk?
JAMES KIRK
2. What is the subtitle of the sequel to Snow White And The Huntsman? Origins? Winter’s War? And The Ice Queen?
WINTER’S WAR
3. Who directed In The Heart Of The Sea? Ron Howard? Justin Kurzel? Peter Weir?
RON HOWARD
4. How many friends visit the cabin in The Cabin In The Woods? 4? 5? 6?
FIVE
5. What was the main poster tagline for the 2012 remake of Red Dawn? Welcome to the home of the brave? Ready for enemies, foreign and domestic? Desperate times call for desperate measures?
WELCOME TO THE HOME OF THE BRAVE
6. Which of the following did not star in Paranoia with Liam Hemsworth in 2013? Harrison Ford? Gary Oldman? Samuel L Jackson?
SAMUEL L JACKSON
7. How many directors worked on The Hunger Games saga? 2? 3? 4?
TWO (Gary Ross / Francis Lawrence)
8. What is the name of the agency set up by the UN in Independence Day: Resurgence? United Space Defense? Earth Defense Force? Earth Space Defense?
EARTH SPACE DEFENSE
9. In Rush, which Formula One team does Hunt join when Fittipaldi leaves? Ferrari? Lotus? McLaren?
MCLAREN
10. Luke Hemsworth cameos as an Asgardian actor playing Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. True or False?
TRUE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Martin Sheen cameos as his character from Apocalypse Now in which Charlie Sheen film?
HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX
2. The following quote is from which film, “Nothing shocks me, I’m a scientist”?
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM
3. Who directed Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement and Pan?
JOE WRIGHT
4. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou was released in which year?
2004
5. Who played the role of Odysseus in Troy?
SEAN BEAN
6. How many people do we see Ripley kill in The Talented Mr Ripley?
THREE (Dickie / Freddie / Peter)
7. The following is the poster tagline for which 2007 film, “Big cops. Small Town. Moderate violence”?
HOT FUZZ
8. Which film starred Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon and Ben Affleck?
GONE GIRL
9. What is the full title of Clint Eastwood’s Sully, starring Tom Hanks?
SULLY: MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON
10. The Truman Show, 12 Years A Slave and Straight Outta Compton all featured which actor?
PAUL GIAMATTI


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What is the subtitle for Ghost In The Shell 2? Inhuman? Interference? Innocence?
INNOCENCE
2. Who played the lead roles in Brian De Palma’s 1989 film Casualties Of War? Sean Penn & Michael J Fox? Patrick Swayze & Tim Robbins? Matthew Broderick & Emilio Estevez?
SEAN PENN & MICHAEL J FOX
3. Which of the following Disney animated films has yet to receive a live-action remake? Cinderella? Alice In Wonderland? Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs?
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
4. Which of the following did not appear in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford? Sam Rockwell? Ben Foster? Jeremy Renner?
BEN FOSTER
5. Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, was released in which year? 2015? 2016? 2017?
2015
6. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “Party like a mother?” Big Momma’s House 2? Rough Night? Bad Moms?
BAD MOMS
7. What event uncovers Mothra’s egg in Mothra vs Godzilla? Typhoon? Earthquake? A nuclear bomb test?
TYPHOON
8. The giant bronze statue of Talos attacks the lead characters in which of the following films based on Greek mythology? Jason And The Argonauts? Immortals? Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief?
JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
9. Who directed Boyhood? Doug Liman? Ron Howard? Richard Linklater?
RICHARD LINKLATER
10. John Williams has composed musical scores for all but three Steven Spielberg films to date. True or False?
TRUE (The Colour Purple, Bridge Of Spies, Ready Player One)


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Out Of Africa / Death Becomes Her / Artificial Intelligence / Doubt
Poster: The Deer Hunter
Actor: Meryl Streep