Posted in Film Review

One Mann’s Movies Film Review: The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

An Adam’s Apple for Teacher.

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I remember once having a ridiculous drunken dispute at a works Christmas party many year’s ago that went along the lines of “if you had the chance to save the world, but had to kill your child to do it, what would you do”. There’s a variant of this conundrum at the heart of this brilliant new film from Colm McCarthy, best know for his TV work on shows like “Peaky Blinders”, “Sherlock” and “Dr Who”.

As most people already realise, this is a ‘Zombie film’ (cue, a number of other single blokes in the cinema) and illustrates the dangers of not treating that Athlete’s Foot as soon as it appears!  I would normally provide a quick synopsis here, but I really think this is a case in point where it is best to go into the film as blind as possible to the story and let it envelop you. (This includes not watching the whole trailer if possible.)  To merely set the scene, we open with a morning school ritual like none you’ve seen before: children strapped to wheelchairs by heavily armed military in their cells; wheeled to an underground classroom; then made to sit in serried rows being taught by their teacher Helen Justineau (a deliciously un-made-up and natural Gemma Arterton). What IS going on? Who ARE these children? WHY are the soldiers so scared and dismissive of them? 

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When she said she wanted her steak blue, she really meant it.

The ever-great Paddy Considine (“Pride”) plays army Sergeant Parks (who also has a bit of a crush on Helen) and Glenn Close plays Dr Caroline Caldwell, who is studying the children in more ways than one. 

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Effortlessly sexy with or without make up, she certainly does it for Sergeant Parks.

This trio of stars, supported notably later in the film by Fisayo Akinade as the trooper Kieran, turn in what is a superb ensemble performance. As for Glenn Close, I have never quite been able to shake her awful “silk blouse” performance in “Air Force One” from my mind, but here she is quite memerising in the role of the Doctor on a mission: I would suggest a career best. Her final scene reflects such a complex range of emotions, and is brilliantly executed. And Gemma Arterton pulls out all the emotional stops in what is also one of the performances of the year.

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Yes Parks, but you’re never going to have your way with wotten behaviour like that!

But good as these performances are, they would be nothing without the central performance of young Sennia Nanua as the titular “Girl”. I have made the point before that there should be an Oscar category for “Young Actors” rather than pitch them into the adult categories like Quvenzhane Wallis and Anna Paquin were (successfully). Here in her debut feature performance Sennia is just mesmerising and (provided this film gets the recognition it justly deserves) she should be a shoe-in for the BAFTA Rising Star award next year, if not an Actress nomination. A young lady most definitely to watch.

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Common law – The astonishingly talented Sennia Nanua out on the common, looking for dog walkers (or their dogs).

Also assuming a starring role is Chilean-born composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer’s astonishingly effective music which drives up the tension superbly. This is his feature film debut and another name to watch.

The screenplay by Mike Carey from his original novel is beautifully crafted, with some great one liners dropped in to ease the tension a notch. And the story adds a level of emotional depth and angst that surpasses other films of this genre, at least as far back as the “28 Days” films.

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“How’s the blouse?” – Glenn Close at the scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Astonishingly, the film was made on a budget of 4 (FOUR!) Million Pounds, giving it a BvS quotient  of 2.1%!!  Every penny of that budget is up on the screen, and whilst you might like to pick at a few of the matte paintings and effects, it is a remarkably achievement in special effects (Nick Rideout is the SF supervisor) and production value.

So, its great!  Go see it…  but with a few caveats:  it is a zombie film, and it ranks about an 8.9 on the splattometer scale, which might not be to some tastes;  definitely don’t go to see it if you are pregnant (though I am constantly reminded how I took my heavily pregnant wife in 1985 to see “A really great film called ‘Alien'”); and you might want to avoid it if you are a great cat or dog lover, or indeed a pigeon-fancier. Other than that, get yourself down to a multiplex and see this great British film:  surely a classic to be recognised for years to come.

Fad Rating:  FFFFF.

I LOVED this film!  But do you agree?  Please comment below if you’ve seen it.

(If you’ve not seen the film I recommend that you watch the first 40 seconds of the trailer and then STOP!).

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Posted in Film Review

One Mann’s Movies Film Review: Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)

Come the F*** on Bridget… who’s the Daddy?

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The world’s favourite lonely-hearts diarist is back. Bridget (Renée Zellweger) once again starts the film ‘all by herself’, haunted by occasional meetings with ex-flame Mark D’Arcy (Colin Firth) – now married to Camilla (Agni Scott) – and facing the natural discomfort of the early funeral of another friend who has died way too young. And at 43, Bridget’s biological clock is also ticking towards parental midnight.

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All By Herself. Bridget, another year older and hearing a ticking clock.

Proving that enormous ditzyness and lack of talent need not be an impediment to a successful career, Bridget is now a top TV floor manager on a cable news station, anchored by friend Miranda (an excellent Sarah Solemani). In an effort to shake  Bridget out of her malaise, Miranda takes her to a music festival (featuring some fun cameos!) where she has a one-night-stand with the delectable (speaking at least for all the women in my audience) Jack (Patrick Dempsey). Following another one-night-stand with D’Arcy and finding herself pregnant, a comedy of farce follows with one expectant mother and two prospective fathers competing for Bridget’s affections.

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A knight in muddy armour. Bridget gets rescued from the festival quagmire.

OK. So it’s not bloody Shakespeare. But it is an extremely well-crafted comedy, and as a British rom-com it significantly out-does many of the efforts of the rom-com king – Richard Curtis – in recent years. As a series its just amazing how many of the original cast have been reunited after 2004’s rather lacklustre “Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason”.  Particularly effective are Bridget’s parents, played by the delectably Tory Gemma Jones and the ever-perfect Jim Broadbent. And Bridget’s trio of irreverent friends: Shazzer (Sally Phillips), Jude (Shirley Henderson) and Tom (James Callis) are all back. All are either well into parenthood or have impending parenthood, adding to the pressure on Bridget’s aching ovaries.

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Uncomfortable NCT classes for D’Arcy.

New to the cast, and brilliant in every scene she’s in, is the ever-radiant Emma Thompson as Bridget’s doctor. Is there any actress in the movies today that can deliver a comic line better-timed than Thompson? I doubt it. Just superb. And Thompson also co-wrote the screenplay, together with Bridget author Helen Fielding and – an unlikely contributor – Ali G collaborator Dan Mazer. All contribute to a sizzling script – not based on Fielding’s poorly received story – that zips along and makes the 123 minute run-time fly by. My one reservation would be – despite the film being set in the current day – lapses into internet memes like Hitler Cats and song crazes that are at least five years out of date. But I forgive that for the Colin Firth ‘Gangnam’ line, for me the funniest in the whole film.

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The brilliant Emma Thompson, writing herself all the best lines.

Zellweger looks fantastic, pulling off the 4 year age difference from her character with ease. And isn’t it wonderful to see a middle-aged character as the centre of a rom-com for once? Hollywood would be well to remember that romance is not restricted to the 20-somethings. Certainly the packed cinema – filled with probably 90% (well oiled) women – certainly thought so, in what was a raucous and entertaining showing!    

The music is superbly supported by an epic soundtrack of well-chosen tracks from Ellie Goulding, Years and Years, Jess Glynne, Lily Allen (with very funny adult content!) and classic oldies, all wrappered with nice themes by the brilliant and underrated Craig “Love Actually” Armstrong.

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A revolving door of potential fathers. Mark, Bridget and Jack heading for the hospital.

Sharon Maguire – the director of the original “Diary” – has delivered here a fun, absorbing and enormously entertaining piece of fluff that deserves to do well. And it has in the UK, making $11M in its opening weekend here and playing to packed showings.  However – incomprehensibly – it has bombed in the US with only $8M coming in. Hopefully it might prove a bit of a sleeper hit there: come on America… we go to see all of the rubbish rom-coms you send over here, and this is way better than most of those! 

This was a film I was determined to be sniffy about with my rating. But as a) I enjoyed it very much and b) a packed audience of women can’t be wrong…

Fad Rating:  FFFF.

Agree? Disagree? Couldn’t give a toss?  Comment anyway below!

Posted in Film Review

One Mann’s Movies Film Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Here comes Little Kevin, all grown up and blinded.

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“Don’t Breathe” had a concept that appealed to me. Three Detroit teens are systematically robbing houses of goods to pawn with the aim of getting Rocky (Jane “Evil Dead” Levy) out of the clutches of her deadbeat family to start a new life in California with her younger sister. Dylan Minnette plays the cautious and intellectual Alex, hiding his crush on Rocky particularly badly. Daniel Zovatto plays the fruit-loopy stoner ‘Money’ – the loose cannon of the trio and Rocky’s boyfriend.

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The three were looking for a nice night in but noone could make the TV work without the remote.

After a successful run, they unwisely pick on the home of a blind war veteran (“Avatar”‘s Stephen Lang). He is not just ‘Home Alone’ but ‘Neighbourhood Alone’ (reflecting, probably accurately, the demise of previously affluent suburbs in some industrially declining US cities). Blind or not, the vet (and friend) are a force to be reckoned with:  with startling speed the tables are turned and the kids are fighting for their lives. And there are more surprises in store within the spooky old house.

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Like the start of “Up” but without the uncontrollable sobbing.

As an audience member, there are certainly points at which the title becomes uncomfortably literal! On the tensionometer, there is a similarity here with last year’s “No Escape”. A scene where blindness is turned into a positive asset is particularly effective.

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Their date at the drive-in movie was brought to an horrific end when “Dirty Grandpa” came on.

As is common with this genre, the film suffers from a plot-line that at times makes no sense and involves indestructible participants (with an incident involving garden shears being particularly incomprehensible).

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In the land of the blind the one armed man is king.

A particularly unpleasant sexual-threat scene towards the end of the film is also nonsensical involving a level of -ahem – ‘preparation’ that the preceding plot simply doesn’t merit.

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Rocky was unlikely to let little sister apply her make-up again before a Saturday night out.

Inevitably though, the film lives or dies on whether you feel empathy for the disreputable kids in peril. The start of the film tries to balance the empathy scales by giving Rocky her backstory, throwing in the ‘little sister’ card. It also demonstrates that “The Blind Man” is a ‘bit of a bastard’ – or perhaps that should be a ‘bit of a baste-ard’ (LOL, in-joke)). Unfortunately however I hold the peculiarly unfashionable idea that if things are “mine” they are “mine” – not anyone elses:  so, on balance, I wasn’t rooting for them and would be happy to let the thieving little sh*ts all get beaten to death! 

Jane Levy (channelling a young Emma Stone) acquits herself admirably as the heroine in peril. Also of particular note is the highly effective atonal score by  Roque Baños that ramps up the tension extremely effectively. Directed by “Evil Dead” director, Uruguayan Fede Alverez, the film does have a certain style and is an enjoyable roller-coaster ride, provided you park your brain at the (well locked) door.

Fad Rating:  FFF

Seen the film and want to feedback?  Please comment below!

(Note:  this is a film best served cold…. I’m attaching the trailer below, but recommend you don’t watch it before seeing the film).

 

Posted in Film Review

One Mann’s Movies: Suicide Squad (2016)

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The length of time it’s taken me to catch this one at the cinema belies my lukewarm interest in the material: I’m not a ‘fan boy’ for either Marvel or DC properties. As it turns out, writer/director David “Fury” Ayer’s Suicide Squad is just plain frustrating in cinematic terms.

The story concerns the efforts of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to assemble – for reasons that make almost zero sense! – the ‘worse of the worst’ out of US prisons to form a fighting force to combat the perceived threat of an “anti-Superman” villain that *might* appear in the future.

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Viola Davis wondering Why? Just Why?

Among these super-villains are Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Harley is the girlfriend of The Joker (Jared Leto) and they would be a great match on Match.com since both are several sandwiches short of a picnic.

Waller assembles her motley crew. Unfortunately, another of the super-villains is June Moon aka “The Enchantress” (Cara Delevingne, her of the scary eyebrows) – an ancient God-like being that has possessed June and who has her/its own agenda that threatens the whole world.

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A model of pure evil. The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) cashing in on the low price of crude. (It’s good for the skin I’m sure).

So why is this movie so frustrating?  Because for all its inane silliness the film does have its fair share of scenes that stick in the mind. I’ve seen comment that Jared Leto’s much-vaunted Joker is peripheral: a cameo only on screen for a few minutes. But I didn’t find that… or at least his scenes were sufficiently memorable to seem much more substantial. The madness portrayed here is truly quite disturbing and threatening.  Many of Leto’s scenes – such as the one with The Joker lying on the floor surrounded by weapons – are artfully done.

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A memorable pull back – Jared Leto’s Joker, laying the table for dinner.

Margot Robbie’s Quinn although extremely sexualized – which will not be to the liking of some, but appeal to many male viewers – adds enormous charisma to her role. Will Smith also does his best with the material he has to inject some emotional heft into the father/daughter sub-plot.

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Will Smith and Margot Robbie. “What’s a nice girl like you…”

Unfortunately this is all done against a fractured and frankly nonsensical story with inconsistencies and loose ends too numerous to list.  (Oh, OK, I’ll do a few):

  • A super-being dispatches armies and nukes from hundred of miles away, yet can’t swat a couple of inconvenient humans at 10 paces?
  • A large early part of the film is filled with backstories (which I don’t necessarily object to for context) but here they are done in an extremely patchy manner:  a number of the characters are sketched out so lightly that they might as well be wearing the red Star Trek shirts!
  • Waller’s motivations (and certainly her sociopathic actions at some points in the plot) are nebulous and don’t bear scrutiny. Why exactly does she thing a ‘bloke who can shoot well’ can do diddly-squat against a super-being spewing gravity defying electrical displays on the other side of the city? 
  • Is this really a ‘Dirty Dozen’? Many of the super-villains seem to be not so bad after all… you know… with consciences and everything…. (I’m sure you could find ten times worse down behind Southampton docks on a Friday night).
  • And while some of the cinematography (Roman Vasyanov, “Fury”) and lighting is memorable, there are some cinema basics (like dark subtitles on a dark background) that seem just plain careless.
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Let’s play “spot the spare parts”. More of the Suicide Squad team primed for action.

With a huge BvS quotient of 0.7 this should really have been much better. To put it another way, you could have made ten of last week’s 4-Fad film “The Shallows” for the cost of this (and stuck a better ending on it with the change).

Memorable visuals, but not a memorable film.

Fad Rating:  FFf.

Do you agree?  Please comment below and share your thoughts!