A Star is Born

The Movie

A Star is Born (2018)

The Director

Bradley Cooper

The Cast

Lady GagaBradley CooperSam ElliottAnthony Ramos

IMDB Synopsis

A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

a-star-is-born-venice

My Thoughts

UGH. This movie, I loved it so much. Don’t even get me started on the climactic scene – it nearly destroyed me.

Charting the rise of singer Ally’s (Gaga) success following a chance meeting with seasoned rock/country legend Jack (Cooper), the fourth version of A Star is Born is gorgeous with a heavenly soundtrack.

If you’re wondering how Gaga could possibly keep her end up in place of the Garlands and Streisands of this world, just fucking watch her. She’s mesmerising at the best of times but in this role she is next level. If Oscar doesn’t come knocking in the Spring, then there is no God. Or there is but he’s a man with no taste.

I think if you aren’t familiar with the story, you might still have an inkling of how this might play out but the ending is very sad and the heartbreak is palpable. It’s one of those story lines you wish you could change for the better, even as you watch it veer dramatically off course.

I don’t want to give anything else away but I will say this is one of my favourite movies of this year so far and I can’t stop thinking about some of the songs. They’re outrageously good.

Oh, and the surprise appearance of Shangela and Willam was fun. God, I want to watch it over and over again.

My Rating

4.5/5.

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. 

adrift-2018-movie-poster-and-stills-11

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?

Adrift-DI-1

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.

 

 

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.

book_club_candice_bergen_mary_steenburgen_jane_fonda_courtes

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 Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Directed by: Mike Newell
Starring: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Matthew Goode, Katherine Parkinson, Penelope Wilton

IMDB Synopsis

A writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island in the aftermath of World War II, when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war.

Where: Odeon Brighton
When: Monday 30th April
Snacks: Macadamia and white chocolate cookies from Subway (#obsessed)

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Somewhere, at some point I turned into a little old lady with a penchant for period dramas and particularly, films about books and book clubs. I put off seeing this momentarily because of the title. Honestly, it’s explained in the film but it is terrible and deeply unappealing. Which is a shame because this is a good movie, especially if you love the above things as I do.

It’s 1946 and Juliet Ashton (James) is a fairly successful author on the cusp of an exciting national tour. Her latest book is written under the pen name Izzy Bickerstaff and is a compilation of fun stories about life during WWII. She’s in a relationship with a wealthy American (Glen Powell) and has a dope best friend, her agent Sidney (Matthew Goode). One day she receives a letter from a stranger, Dawsey Adams (Huisman) who happens to have picked up a book Juliet used to own (and has inscribed with her name and previous address).

Somehow the book has found its way to Dawsey by way of his local book club – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (or TGLAPPPS). The society was formed on the hop a few years before the correspondence between Juliet and Dawsey begins. Guernsey at this point is/was occupied by the Germans and life is/was truly miserable for everyone on the island.

imgID154181742.jpg.gallery

The pen pals start to bond (who knew?) and it’s not long before Juliet and Dawsey are exchanging their stories. When Juliet invites herself to Guernsey to meet the group – and potentially write an article about them – she finds herself embroiled in all their lives, for better or worse.

Guernsey (fuck that title) is a soft and pretty period piece with a bite, thankfully. As Juliet unravels the truth about the book club and its members, she learns that things have not been easy as the years have passed by. The war has claimed many loved ones (not to mention Juliet’s own parents) and still has its claws in Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay), a spirited idealist still being kept in a prisoner of war camp somewhere in Germany.

The film doesn’t shy away from some brutal scenes and this saves it from being too whimsical. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of soft focus and fannying about Guernsey in dynamite frocks, damn you Lily James but it does have a slight edge.

guernsey-literary-0

The romantic element is no surprise but it’s fun and photogenic – and sometimes that’s not a bad thing. As for talent, national treasure Penelope Wilton is ace as the prickly (and who can blame her) Amelia Maugery, the matriarch of the group who has lost almost everything to the war.

Katherine Parkinson’s hippy dippy Isola Pribby is also a delight and she lives in my actual dream home. James is a likeable leading lady too and although she’s incredibly wholesome, this did illustrate just how wasted she was in Baby Driver (a film not exactly celebrated for it’s female characterisation).

So I do recommend this nice film which could have just as easily been a BBC drama shown on a Sunday night (not a bad thing). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to book a solo jaunt to Guernsey. It looks like actual Heaven.

My Rating

4/5.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water (2017)

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones

IMDB Synopsis

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

*Minor spoilers*

Hype is a dangerous thing, as Andy used to say – or something along those lines. But it is – and I’m not sure this beautiful, whimsical fairy tale quite lives up to it much as it pains me to say.

Elisa and Zelda are cleaners at a top secret government laboratory. They’ve been friends for years, comfortable and happy together in their familiar routine. Elisa lives alone, in a crumbling tenement block where she also adheres to her own rituals, everything just so. She also lives next door to her BFF, closeted Giles, a struggling commercial artist who she likes to take care of.

One day Elisa (Hawkins) and Zelda (Spencer) become inadvertently involved in some secretive goings on that change all of their lives forever. There are goodies and baddies here, spies and monsters – but above all there is love and sometimes that’s all you need. Am I right?

The Shape of Water is lovely. Certain segments are pure magic and the performances are really something. That Sally Hawkins can convey so much without uttering a word is sensational. I’ve had a soft spot for her since she played Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky. Octavia is also flawless and the women’s chemistry is touching.

Shannon is text book Michael Shannon and I liked it, though I found I was less impressed that I usually am. Perhaps because he can play a role like this with his eyes closed – or because I’ve seen him do it so many times before? In direct contrast, the nervous babbling of Giles (Jenkins) works so well. He’s a coward who takes a giant leap of faith because he loves his friend, he is flawed and he is understanding – and Richard Jenkins is adorbs too.

The story itself isn’t that complex and I’m not going to go into it too much. I think if you’re reading this you already have a gist of what it’s all about. I came into the viewing knowing not much about the plot which may have helped me – I just wanted to be wowed.

My issue is with the pacing, with the length of the film and with some of the more talky elements. I wanted to spend more time with Amphibian Man, marveling at his perfect fishy butt. We get a lot of fish man action, don’t get me wrong but I wanted less old white Russians sitting around tables discussing him and more HIM.

Fish Face for the record is beautiful (and opens quite the discussion about whether one would do it with a fish under the same circumstances). The monster work is brilliant in terms of makeup and aesthetic, while Doug Jones’ lanky (yet graceful) presence is as good as ever.

04_TheShapeofWater

Oh, and the opening scene is pure Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It could have been ripped directly from Delicatessen – which is a good thing, I’m not adverse to a little (or a lot of) homage. I was also pleasantly surprised that although this is all about the love story, it’s also pretty hot. For all the whimsy, it’s also sexy and there’s a distinct darkness too.

All in all, this experience was strong but not exceptional.

My Rating

3.5/5.