December in film: My recommendations

Columbia Pictures

The last month of 2021 is somehow upon us (when did this happen?!) and so it’s time to have a look at the main movies we can look forward to this December.

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion‘s latest won praise at the Venice Film Festival so I can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about. Benedict Cumberbatch plays against his usual type as Phil Burbank, an oppressive rancher who sets out to make his brother’s new wife, played by Kirsten Dunst, a living hell. On Netflix 1st December.

West Side Story

Steven Spielberg‘s movie adaptation of the classic stage musical finally comes to the big screen with Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as Maria and Tony, star-crossed lovers from two rival gangs in New York. The original 1961 film is a classic so it’ll be interesting to see how Spielberg makes it his own. In cinemas from 10th December.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Superhero nerds can finally find out what rumours are true and who is actually in this movie along with Tom Holland, Zendaya and the usual suspects. Will he be joined by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield?! What other villains are in the mix?! There’s only one way to find out and I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE IT. In cinemas 17th December.

The Matrix Resurrections

After an 18-year wait, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back as Neo and Trinity for the fourth instalment in the sci-fi franchise. Set 20 years after the previous film, Neo seems to be living a normal life as Thomas Anderson and takes blue pills, but all that changes when Morpheus (now Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) offers him a red pill and once again opens his mind to the Matrix. I’m not as hyped about this as some people but I’m intrigued about the story. In cinemas 22nd December.

Don’t Look Up

Adam McKay has assembled a ridiculously star-studded cast for his next satirical comedy. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence star as two astronomers who have to go on a press tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy Earth. They are joined by the likes of Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Timothee Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi and so many more. In cinemas from 10th December and Netflix from 24th December.

Being the Ricardos

Nicole Kidman has been winning praise for her portrayal of Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin‘s next movie. The drama, also starring Javier Bardem as Ball’s husband Desi Arnaz, follows a production week on their TV show I Love Lucy, from the table read through to the live taping. I’m really keen to see her performance in this. In cinemas from 10th December and on Amazon Prime Video from 21st December.

The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s directorial debut stars Olivia Colman as a professor on holiday in Greece who becomes obsessed with a young mother and her daughter and this obsession brings back memories from her past. Colman gives a spectacular awards-worthy performance and is supported by the likes of Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley and Paul Mescal. On Netflix from 31st December and in cinemas 7th January.

Titane

Julia Ducournau‘s Palme d’Or-winning film finally comes to cinemas! The body horror film follows Alexia (Agatha Rousselle), who has a titanium plate in her head. I’m not going to say anything else because everything is a spoiler. But trust me when I see this is a wild and very unexpected movie. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! In cinemas 26th December.

Dune: Film Review

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

I’m a huge fan of Denis Villeneuve, Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and Jason Momoa (and basically everyone else in this cast) so naturally, I was keen to see Dune, even if the trailers never got me hyped.

This sci-fi epic, part one of a planned two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, follows the noble House Atreides – Duke Leto (Isaac), his concubine Lady Jessica (Ferguson) and their son Paul (Chalamet) – as they are awarded the stewardship of the dangerous desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the valuable drug spice, which can give people powers and extend human life. House Harkonnen, led by Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard), the former steward of Arrakis, is outraged with this decision and mounts an attack against House Atreides.

First things first – make sure you watch Dune on the big screen. It is a stunning visual spectacle and a jaw-dropping cinematic experience that has gorgeous cinematography and feels so epic in terms of scope and scale. It’s also a filmmaking feat, given that the majority of it was shot in the harsh desert conditions of Jordan and the UAE. Hats off to Villeneuve for taking on the ambitious and almost impossible task of bringing Herbert’s complex novel to life and making it into an accessible film that is easy enough for newcomers like me, who haven’t read the book, to understand.

The film is super overwhelming at the start as the world-building is complicated and there are so many new characters, words, places and concepts to wrap your head around. It took a while for me to get into it as I was thrown in the deep end and I found myself actively trying to remember everything, thinking it might be important going forward. People who have read the book or seen the previous film adaptation probably won’t have this issue, but to my fellow newcomers, don’t worry – I think it’s presented in quite a digestible way that won’t spoil your enjoyment of the film.

While I could appreciate that this is an amazing piece of cinema, I was never truly invested in the story. I never got swept up in it, felt like I had a character to truly root for, or had any emotional or visceral response when bad things happened. I don’t want to spoil anything but there’s a point in Dune where it becomes a different kind of film and it starts to drag. The movie is also epic in terms of length – 2 hours and 35 minutes – but there’s a lot to pack in so it only starts to feel that long after this point. However, I know that this was done so the film could get to a logical halfway point to conclude part one and tease part two.

It’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of the calibre of actors Villeneuve has assembled for Dune. Chalamet does well as a young boy who is conflicted, vulnerable and with a tremendous responsibility on his shoulders – not only is he expected to succeed his father as ruler but he is learning his mother’s mind powers. Momoa has a warm and friendly personality as Duncan Idaho (who also gets some cool fights) and Skarsgard was suitably vile and disgusting as the Baron. Zendaya and Javier Bardem were fine as Chani and Stilgar, the Fremen, the people native to Arrakis. They don’t have much screen time but this looks set to change in part two.

My favourite was Ferguson, she brought a really interesting dimension to the story as a member of the Bene Gisseret, a sisterhood of women with mind powers. I loved that she had so much hidden power and was more dangerous than her husband and all his physically strong men. She is also deeply worried about the visions she’s seen and how Paul is coping with his training so she’s really in touch with her emotions, much more so than any other character.

Dune is an impressive piece of filmmaking and one that needs to be witnessed at the cinema. I never really warmed to the story but I loved the cast, the cinematography and Hans Zimmer‘s score.

In cinemas from Thursday 21st October

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Roads Not Taken: Film Review

The Roads Not Taken

With a talented cast including Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Laura Linney, and Salma Hayek, I was excited to see The Roads Not Taken, but it was one of the most frustrating movies I have seen for some time.

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Everybody Knows: Film Review

Everybody Knows, a Spanish-language film made by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, opened the 2018 Cannes Film Festival so I figured it was worth checking out. I liked it but dear me it was long.

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Mother! – Film Review

I knew going into Mother! That it would be weird and confusing as hell and while my predictions were correct, I never could have prepared myself for how intense, stressful, and deeply uncomfortable it was.

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Top Films for September 2017

You know what time it is! It’s the start of the month which means it’s time for me to look ahead to the cinema releases coming our way over the next few weeks.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

When I heard there was going to be another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, I couldn’t help but groan because I felt the franchise was done – as much as I loved the first two, the last two (especially the fourth) weren’t so good and I expected this, also known as Salazar’s Revenge, to be SO bad, so imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to discover that is a welcome return to form for the franchise.

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W magazine makes more celebs look like crap!

kristen2

Now, if you’ve been following my rant about W magazine since they made Emma Stone look awful (see here), you will appreciate this post. In the same issue, they made Kristen Stewart look like a druggie (see here), but now they’ve outdone themselves by doing a shoot of actors for a “best performances” feature.

In the feature, over thirty celebs pose for the magazine as it is celebrating their performance in a recent film. They are like the Emma and Kristen ones in that they are not glamorous and are uncomfortably normal.

The photographer, Juergen Teller prefers natural and raw photographs with no editing afterwards. It is a bold move and a refreshing choice except that the stars look worse than usual. They aren’t even wearing make-up so they just look like shit. Although, doing it this way, you can see who is a natural beauty- Keira Knightley and Jessica Chastain for example.

There a lot of pictures to choose from so I’ll just post the highlights here. If you want to see the full set of shots, click here.

 

Jack Black

jackblack

Javier Bardem

javier

Amy Adams

amy adams

Ben Whishaw

ben

Marion Cotillard

marion

Jessica Chastain

jessica

Philip Seymour Hoffman

phillip

Keira Knightley

keira

Matthew McConaughey

matthew

Nicole Kidman

nicole

Don’t you just think they are the weirdest and most random set of shots?! Not only are the celebs not looking their best but the settings are a bit strange too. The Javier Bardem and the Ben Whishaw stand out as odd. Why did Marion Cotillard say yes to being pictured fresh out the shower?! It is just so bizarre.

Skyfall: Review

I had heard loads of brilliant reviews for this film so I went in with very high expectations. Skyfall is great but not as amazing as I assumed it would be. It is definitely the best Daniel Craig Bond film and certainly in comparison to Quantum of Solace. I liked that it emphasised Bond’s age and questioned his effectiveness as an agent as well as the future of espionage as a whole.

When a mission in Turkey goes awry and Bond (Daniel Craig) is accidentally shot by a fellow agent, M’s leadership at MI6 is called into question as Bond’s mission was to retrieve a list of undercover agents and their aliases. With Bond assumed dead and the list still out in the open, M (Dame Judi Dench) has made a serious mistake and the new head of intelligence and security, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) asks her to step down. After an explosion hits MI6, Bond decides to head back to London to help M. He is unfit, a drunkard and getting a bit old. However, M sends him out to find the list and the villain behind it. It turns out the villain, Silva (Javier Bardem) was an old agent for M and he wants his revenge on her. It seems her past is catching up with her and Bond needs to help her survive.

I like that this is a personal attack on M because it makes the villain and his motives far more believable. It isn’t something ridiculous like they want to take over the world, it is simple revenge on a woman he believes betrayed him. It was good to see a trademark office character, M, take a leading role in this film and she has a lot of screen time- mainly outside the office. The questions in the film are relevant today- how can guns fight cyber terrorists? What is the point of MI6? Is Bond too old to be an agent? I liked that about it. It was contemporary, relevant and modern but it still stayed true to its roots. It’s a tough balancing act but I think it was treated well.

I thought the Bond girls, Naomie Harris (as Craig’s fellow agent) and Bérénice Marlohe (one of Silva’s women) were grossly underused. Usually, the Bond girl has a lot of screen time but these were definitely minor parts. They bought big plot moments to the film but weren’t around very much. I understand it is because M was the main woman in this story and you couldn’t have included everyone but I would have liked to have seen more.

Daniel Craig was brilliant as ever and I think he makes a fantastic Bond. Judi Dench was perfect again but two people that stood out for me was Ben Whishaw, who plays Q, and Javier Bardem, as the villain. Silva was different to usual villains as he had a personal vendetta against someone and clearly has mental problems. He isn’t particularly violent himself- he rigs stuff through computers or gets his henchmen to do it for him. He was a psychological villain which is refreshing. Whishaw was brilliant as he brought such humour to the role of Q. The first time Bond is introduced to him is hilarious because Whishaw is far younger than his predecessors.

The action was really good, I loved that central London was used a lot (especially the tube!), I loved that you learned about Bond’s past, M’s past and the showdown at the end is far different to what’s been done before. The settings in this are amazing and it looks brilliant. It is fresh, new and relevant and I enjoyed it a lot. I felt the one-liners fell a little flat and someone of the stunts/ explosions/ effects were a bit ridiculous. Overall, it was a really enjoyable film and I think the highly positive reviews affected how I received it because I was expecting so much more.