Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Five years after the events of Mamma Mia! (2008), Sophie learns about her mother’s past while pregnant herself.

*Minor spoilers*

Donna is no longer with us, though we don’t find out in this sequel what happened to our vivacious heroine. Instead we meet her daughter Sophie again (Amanda Seyfried) on the cusp of reopening Donna’s beloved B&B in Greece.

Sophie it seems now spends her days on the beautiful island that stole her mother’s heart all those years ago and has dedicated much time to renovating and relaunching the picturesque guesthouse. Things are lively there as she leans on her hotel manager friend Fernando (LOL) (Andy Garcia) for help getting everything just so before the big opening party. 

While she juggles all this she also has concerns over her own relationship with Sky (Dominic Cooper) who has just been offered a kick arse job back in the USA. Both seem to be heading in different directions which can’t be a good thing…

Film Title: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

As Donna’s BFFs Tanya and Rosie (Christine Baranski and the mighty Julie Walters) rock up for the party, Sophie learns something new and life-changing about herself – but will she get her happy ending?

Oh, and what’s the real story of how Donna came to have a child with three potential baby daddies anyway?

Mamma Mia! HWGA takes us on a journey through Donna’s past as she leaves university to travel and find herself. We learn how she met each of the men in her life – Harry, Bill and Sam – and settled down with the true love of her life in a little home in Greece: I’m talking about Sophie, of course.

"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."

Lily James is gorgeous as young Donna, all golden hair and luminous skin, and she does Meryl absolutely proud, I think. As Donna loves and loses, she also gains everything and it’s really nice to be sitting in a cinema with a bunch of over-excited work mates (of all ages) watching a musical with a nice message like this. God knows we need more joy in our every day.

While it’s bittersweet in that the main character is dead, it’s a feel good movie to the end and examines motherhood in a way that made me cry like a wee baby. Plus, in ‘present day’, Sophie’s grandma rocks up uninvited and I think we all know who she is… rhymes with Bear…

Special shout out to the young men playing the baby daddies, especially Josh Dylan as Young Bill. HELLO! Julie Walters robs every scene as far as I’m concerned – and Cher‘s Fernando (to Fernando) gave me chills. What a dame.

In fact, everyone’s on their A-game here and even if not all the singing or the music hits the mark (looking at you, Dominic Cooper), it’s fun fun fun in the sun and you can’t fight it. 

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Bring on Part 3!

My Rating

3.5/5.

Adrift

Adrift (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A true story of survival, as a young couple’s chance encounter leads them first to love, and then on the adventure of a lifetime as they face one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

Yikes – this is not an easy watch if you’re terrified of water like me. That it is based on the true story of Tami Ashcraft and her fiance, Richard Sharp makes me all the more determined to always stay on dry land. 

When Tami and Richard (Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin) meet they quickly bond over a love of the ocean. Richard has built his own boat from scratch, while Tami claims not to be a sailor but does pretty well regardless. 

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The pair plan to sail around the world together and get engaged quite quickly but things take a turn when Richard is offered a lot of cash to sail his friends’ boat back to America. He wangles two first class tickets back to their island paradise once the task is done and Tami agrees to sail with him because they’re young and in love – and why not, eh?

The trip starts well but when the pair get caught in the eye of a crazy storm, their idyllic adventure quickly turns into a fight to the death. With Richard badly injured, it falls to Tami to get them to Hawaii and safety – can she keep them fed and sheltered at the same time as keeping them on course?

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Adrift was a lot better than I’d expected. I found the experience incredibly stressful and it was lucky there were only a handful of people watching in our theater because I couldn’t stop fidgeting and shaking my fists/head at the screen. The film is played in flashback and starts with the aftermath of the accident so you’re always aware of how shit things get – but the getting to know you stuff between the couple is sweet.

Shailene Woodley is amazing as Tami and has a presence on-screen that is really something to behold. Sam Claflin is okay but there’s something about him that irritates me and I’m not sure it’s him or the way he plays Richard.

It doesn’t really matter though because this is Woodley’s film and she commands the attention, bringing this story to life almost single-handedly. It also makes you wonder how you’d do in the same situation.

My Rating

3.5/5.

 

 

Hereditary

Hereditary (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

*Spoilers*

Eep. This movie is terrifying in a way that is hard to explain. It’s one of those rare horror movies that attaches itself to your back and follows you out of the cinema. I haven’t been able to shake it and that’s one of its main strengths.

Toni Collette completely nails the role of Annie, wife of Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and the mother of Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro). When her own mother dies after a drawn out illness, Annie mourns her naturally.  Trying to come to terms with their difficult relationship is hard for her but she make the effort to open up to a bereavement group nonetheless.

As a relatively successful contemporary artist, Annie specialises in minature dioramas and after the death of her mother, she uses these to work through her pain. Creating scenes from her life starring her mother, its fascinating to see these reenactments rendered in such intricate detail. 

Unfortunately, her healing is put on hold (forever) by an unexpected and devastating tragedy that will fracture the already injured family for good. And boy is it a demented ride.

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It’s safe to say that Hereditary pulls no punches when it comes to the impact of its imagery. There are shots you want to turn away from yet can’t because they’re also perfect and beautiful. Definite horror influences can be detected throughout which has led to comparisons to films like The Exorcist, which I’m not sure is strictly accurate. All I know is that it’s one of the best modern horrors I’ve seen in the last few years and is exactly why I adore the genre so much.  

I’m trying quite hard here not to give too much away since I went in with only one viewing of the trailer under my belt – and was pleasantly surprised. While the trailer is a good one it also doesn’t give anything away so when some of the reveals occur you’re left genuinely shell-shocked.

‘The’ scene (in my mind), in which Peter is involved in an unfortunate incident is pure perfection. As the realisation of what he’s done – of what he can never take back – plays across his face, you can’t help take on board the enormity of the situation. Wolff is incredibly soulful as haunted Peter, reduced by the weight of responsibility to a sniffling little boy. An actor to watch, I think.

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Shapiro is also mesmerising as Charlie, the troubled daughter – her scenes are some of the best and I would like to see much more of her too. Hereditary examines themes of loss, guilt, accountability and pure horror and I’m already planning to catch it again so I can soak in the details and catch the nuances.

It’s a kind of scary that taps into your own personal experience and burrows under the skin, and is not reliant on cheap jump scares, which is so refreshing. I wholeheartedly recommend it to any horror fan or steely willed movie fan.

It is fantastic.

My Rating

4/5.

Ps. This film gave me genuine nightmares and on the same night my husband went sleepwalking. Make of that what you will!

 

Book Club

Book Club (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Four lifelong friends have their lives forever changed after reading 50 Shades of Grey in their monthly book club.

I’m a sucker for a silver surfer movie and have reviewed a couple already for this blog. If Keaton/Dench/Mirren is in it, take my money and my time, and let me into their world, stat.

Book Club is a more glamorous take on women of a certain age, centered around four golden oldies with varying issues in their personal lives.

Diane (Diane Keaton) is a recent(ish) widow whose children are desperate to move her closer to them, even though she’s perfectly cool doing her own thing. Vivian (Jane Fonda) is the hottest mama in town, enjoying liaisons as and when she fancies without any emotional connection – and that’s perfectly fine, right? 

Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a Supreme Court Judge whose husband has left her for a younger model. And Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is happily married but not enjoying a pro-longed dry spell in the bedroom.

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When our Fantastic Four come together at their regular book club they’re able to come clean to each other about these issues. But when Vivian introduces everybody to Christian Grey, something ignites and each begins a new journey of her own.

Well, there’s a lot to like here. Innuendo is a go-go while the performances are great as expected from such Hollywood royalty. It might be hard at times to relate to the glossiness of their lives – so much luxury! – but it’s also escapism and the fantasy of imaging myself as Diane Keaton when I grow up is no bad thing.

It’s so important to be seeing older women on the big screen too – and while the plot does revolve around their interactions with men – and is very rich and white – I take away that this is an ode of sexuality and owning that.

Support from silver foxes Andy Garcia and Don Johnson is fun too and I’m here for it all.

My Rating

3.5/5.

 

 

The Leisure Seeker

The Leisure Seeker (2018)

Directed by: Paolo Virzì
Starring: Helen MirrenDonald SutherlandChristian McKayJanel MoloneyDana Ivey

IMDB Synopsis

A runaway couple go on an unforgettable journey in the faithful old RV they call The Leisure Seeker.

Where: Odeon Brighton
When: Thursday 26th April
Snacks: White chocolate and macadamia nut cookies from Subway

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

I don’t know if I can immediately think of anything more tragic than losing a loved one to dementia. All those memories and all that life built around a person who at times can’t even remember your name or the names of your children. It must be heart-breaking.

For Ella Spencer (Mirren), who is losing her husband John (Sutherland) to the disease, it certainly is. And while she cares for her beloved, she is also battling her own illness – a cancer that is slowly killing her.

One day, her children Will and Jane rock up to visit their folks only to find them gone, AWOL in their trusty rust-bucket Winnebago, the titular Leisure Seeker. Panic stricken, the kids find it very hard to understand the motivation of our geriatric heroes but all Ella wants is to take her husband down to Hemingway’s house and spend one last vacation just the two of them.

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What follows is a heart-warming road trip that brings our couple closer than ever while simultaneously testing their bond and flipping what Ella knows of their relationship on its head. It’s funny, sad and empowering at the same time and I really enjoyed the ride, though I must admit it took me a little while to get into it.

While the cinematography is stunning – all those burnt sunsets and late night outdoor dates – the dialogue sometimes gets a bit dull. The acting could never be faulted in the hands of two such seasoned acting veterans but the actors playing the kids aren’t great (not that they get much material). The ending is shocking and very bleak but also kind of perfect, when you really think about it.

Not a first date movie, maybe but there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours contemplating your own mortality.

My Rating

3/5.

Funny Cow

Funny Cow (2018)

Directed by: Adrian Shergold
Starring: Maxine Peake, Stephen Graham, Paddy Considine, Diane Morgan, Lindsey Coulson

IMDB Synopsis

A comedian uses her troubled past as material for her stand-up routine, trying to rise up through the comedy circuit by playing Northern England’s working men’s clubs.

Where: Duke’s @ Komedia
When: Tuesday 24th April, directly after Beast
Snacks: Homemade Victoria sponge cake, Cawston Press Rhubarb

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Funny Cow isn’t really the comedy you’d expect. Shot through with tragedy and pain, it’s more a clawing to the top of the comedy game by way of a lifetime of disappointment, violence and regret.

Maxine Peake (one of the UK’s greatest treasures) plays the titular Funny Cow, a working class Northern lass dragged up with her brother by a troubled single mother following the passing of her violent father.

Her mother, in ‘present day’ is played by Eastender’s Carol Jackson (Coulson) which frankly feels like genius casting and the role of Funny Cow’s Mum is a poignant one. She’s all at once deeply frustrating and utterly vulnerable – you want to slap and protect her at the same time. And her scenes with Funny Cow are among the best.

As Funny Cow grows up and leaves home to starting building a nest of her own with her future husband, the years pass by in a flash and things are never quite as grand as she’d hoped. Trapped in a violent relationship that echoes that of her parents’, Funny has ideas above her station but little outlet to realise them. Not if her imposing husband Bob (Tony Pitts) has anything to do with it, either.

The years flutter by and Funny suffers punch after slap after kick at the hands of her so-called partner. One day she catches Lenny’s (Alun Armstrong) stand up routine at the local club and this drives her forward on her quest to perform comedy.

Lenny himself is an unlikely mentor, an old-skool blue comedian who tells Funny she’s better off removing her clothing than trying to be funny, because well, women aren’t. This somehow doesn’t put Funny off and the two develop an odd-companionship.

At one point Funny makes it to a talent contest under threat of a broken nose but when faced with an open mic and opportunity, she sadly freezes up. This doesn’t make the ensuing violence at Bob’s hand worth it but does finally give her the push she needs to leave him.

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Pretentious book seller Angus (Considine) is on hand to rescue this damsel in distress and things are better for a while, Funny moves into his grand home and they share a life free of violence and distress. But his apparent need to My Fair Lady her becomes unappealing and Funny finally goes out on her own, free from men and ready to embark on the career she wants.

I really loved this because of the central performances. Paddy Considine never lets me down and Peake is such a talented, nuanced actress. While Funny Cow leads a hard life, she never once presents as a victim. She’s a bit of a shit-stirrer actually, even from childhood and you get a sense at times that she’s trying to see the funny side of all of that turmoil, even enjoying it. There’s a scene where she visits her brother and his family, and simply relishes winding up his wife.

All of Funny Cow’s comedy stems from her own experiences (I guess as with most comedians) and while this film is unlikely to have you laughing out loud, it will cut straight to your heart-strings.

The violence is hard to stomach and some of the jokes told on the circuit come straight from the Bernard Manning school of comedy, so are offensive af and not funny at all but I found the conclusion really heart-warming as Funny Cow is able to offer closure to her mother and find a slice of peace for herself.

I liked.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Love, Simon

Love, Simon (2018)

Directed by: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Nick RobinsonJennifer GarnerJosh DuhamelKatherine Langford

IMDB Synopsis

Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

*Minor spoilers*

Before I went in to see this movie I must admit to being a little bit ignorant. Not in any huge way but I mentioned to my viewing partner Darren that I was surprised this film was such a big deal in the year 2018, because isn’t the world so much more broadminded these days? (Yes, I know as I type this how far off we still are). What, of course I wasn’t taking into account, is the experience of being gay and not feeling as though you can come out to your loved ones, something I have never and will never experience.

From a position of privilege as a cis heterosexual white woman I hadn’t realised just how truly important this movie is, especially given that it’s aimed at a younger audience than say, Call Me By Your Name (2017). This was reinforced when a teenager stood up as the end credits rolled and announced to the audience that she had just come out to her family because the film had given her the strength she needed.

Proof that we don’t always know everything and there is always room to learn, even from the most unexpected places – and this is a film I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Simon is a popular high schooler with a great and supportive family, a dope group of friends and a bright future ahead of him. Everything is peachy in Simon’s World but for one thing, and it’s kind of a big deal: he’s gay.

When an anonymous post by a fellow gay classmate appears on the school community blog, Simon creates a secret identity and replies to him. The two begin to chat regularly online, both unaware of the identity of the other. Life around Simon carries on as normal as he and Blue continue to communicate but everything is threatened when his fuck face acquaintance Martin (Logan Miller) stumbles upon his secret and threatens to out him. 

Martin’s plan is to blackmail Simon into fixing him up with his friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp) and as it actually seems to be coming to fruition, Simon finds himself telling lie after little white lie to keep him on side. Not just for himself but for Blue, who has placed the ultimate trust in Simon. Well, this wouldn’t be much of a film if it didn’t all implode on our hero – and implode it does. As the decision to come out is taken out of his hands, Simon must come to terms not only with who he is but with everybody else’s opinions too. 

Meanwhile, Simon has to work out who his new pen pal Blue really is – who could he be and could there ever be a happy ending for the two of them? And will his friends forgive his mistakes?

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God. This is a very lovely story with an accomplished young cast who really make you feel all the things. Not only are we rooting for Simon, we’re also forced to give a shit about the feelings of his BFF Leah (13 Reasons Why‘s Langford), who has her own romantic challenges to contend with. Martin too is a nasty little shit but by the end you might even have sympathy for him, especially if you’ve ever been rejected publicly/been to school and not been one of the cool kids.

Simon’s parents are played flawlessly by Garner and Duhamel, while his little sister is a dream. Sure this is on the must nicer end of the scale of coming out but it’s still relevant and still important. You never know what people are going through, even when they seem to have everything. While I usually like my LGBT cinema grittier than this, I was happy to spend Sunday morning with Simon and friends – and yes I bawled at the end.

My Rating

4/5.

Loveless

Loveless (2017)

Directed by: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Starring: Maryana SpivakAleksey RozinMatvey Novikov

IMDB Synopsis

A couple going through a divorce must team up to find their son who has disappeared during one of their bitter arguments.

*Minor spoilers*

Fuck me. This movie was so enthralling, so bleak and so genuinely moving that it’s taken me until now to properly unpack it. I went on a whim late one evening and sat between two old ladies, one of whom spent most of the show with her head on my shoulder. (So she could read the subtitles she claimed but I’m not convinced – I do give great shoulder).

Alexey (Novikov) is caught between two warring parents and things are far from great. Virtually invisible, he gets to listen to Zhenya and Boris (Spivak and Rozin) argue about who gets to take him when they finally sell their apartment and split for good. That is, Zhenya doesn’t want custody and neither does Boris.

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Both parents have already started to move on. Zhenya has been dating a wealthy older man, while Boris has already impregnated the lovely Masha (Marina Vasileva). While he has to keep his rocky marital status to himself at work, due to a devoutly Christian boss with an idealistic attitude to family life, he splits his time between Masha and her mother’s apartment and the sofa at ‘home’. 

This all means that Alexey is largely ignored and one day, he just doesn’t come home. This forces the parents to come together again to find him, which will prove difficult since they don’t seem to know him at all. The film focuses on our two leads as they battle to put their past and their differences behind them to locate their only son before it’s too late. How the hell will this pan out?

Loveless is so devastating, genuinely with plenty of truly cutting dialogue. Young and beautiful Zhenya violently resents her soon-to-be-ex husband Boris and in turn, regrets ever having Alexey. She has a wicked way with words and doesn’t mince them. Will she live to regret her scathing language when it comes to her son?

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Technically, this film is breathtaking – with lots of sweeping shots of a frozen urban landscape, it feels cold and bleak. Perfect for a film this sad. And in the search for Alexey we get to explore abandoned buildings and forest floors for clues, which is right up my street.

Will we find Alexey? Well, one things for sure – you’ll be tsking at the utter selfishness of his parents whilst sort of sympathising and feeling conflicted about that. I recommend this film hard but it’s no fairy tale, believe.

My Rating

4.5/5.