Documentaries should effectively draw you into a world where you otherwise have no real interest, and this is a riveting glimpse into the world of ballet. First position is a film that follows contestant for the Youth America Grand Prix, the largest ballet competition for youth worldwide. the competition offers scholarships and entry to ballet academies and companies. One of the nicest aspects of this film is the contestants it folows are extremely diverse, and each of their stories are just as compelling as the next. The passion is tangible and the unwavering dedication is admirable, it’s really a inspiring follow your dreams message. Directed by Bess Kargman, this film makes it easy to connect to the story and characters like a good scripted movie. It is an effective drama as it questions to what extent passion and following your dream is the right choice, but as it is an uplifting film it mainly answers this question with yes it is the right choice. It believe it would have been a more effective portrayal if it focused more on the struggles and harsh realities of dancer’s world.
A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him. And in that way he becomes immortal.
My favourite Tim Burton film, with close competition, but this is a movie I am fascinated by each time I watch it. It follows the troubled relationship of father and son, played by Albert Finney and Billy Crudup respectively. The father tells his whole life in stories and it flashes back through his life, and the young Edward Bloom is played by Ewan Mcgregor. It’s a fantastical epic life story, based on the 1998 novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace and was adapted for the screen by John August. You have to embrace the unbelievable mythical aspects of the story to love this film, much as you learn to embrace Edward’s factually inaccurate life story. Other notable characters are portrayed by Jessica Lange, Helen Bonham Carter, Marion Cottillard and Danny DeVito. It’s a fantasy film that transcends the mythical aspects to study the father son relationship and the role of stories in our life. Film is a form of story telling and having this story based on a man made up of stories is an interesting manner of analysing their importance and role. It leaves you amazed by the characters and scenes but is extremely telling on reality a rarity in Burton films.
Even if sometimes I don’t know who you are, I love you.
This movie was not the biggest hit, but I personally was a big fan. It’s the most ridiculous story to the point where I googled it for around an hour before actually believing it was in fact – a true story. NEVER had I been so surprised by a moment in a film, I had the ‘holy shit!’ expression on my face for a good ten minutes. Also, this film is just hilarious. Jim Carrey plays the main character, and his over the top performance is necessary and vital to the energy of this film. However, this is one of the few times Carrey’s performance doesn’t feel forced but simply natural to the character – equally crazy I would say. Carrey is the highlight of this film, and despite it comedic drive there is a genuine true love that even romantic films often lack to portray with such power. Then the other main character is played by one of my favourites, Ewan McGregor, so not much could go wrong for me. It is so entertaining, extremely high energy and yet completely unique in it’s characters, story and style making it unforgettable.
Poems are a very stupid thing to be good at. Poems are basically like dreams. Something everybody likes to tell other people but stuff that nobody actually cares about when its not their own.
This is a film I’ve wanted to watch for a while because I absolutely love Girls. This was Lena Dunham’s film that led to her creating Girls, and is written and directed and starring her (much like Girls.) I can’t say it was my favourite film but i have to say that Dunham has a way of making a film in a unique manner. She makes a film with all the small moments in life that are usually edited out, but she makes you realise how important and telling these moments are about us and our lives. It wasn’t the most enjoyable or riveting watch, it wasn’t visually striking but it left me extremely introspective. A good film makes you think, and this left me thinking and I really appreciate that. Dunham’s work speaks to me just because she puts situations I can relate to on film and makes me think – what art should do.
Back to the film, it follows a recent college graduate (Dunham) as she moves back home to New York following a break up. It investigates the post graduate life and how a college degree doesn’t mean life is figured out. It also features Dunham’s real life sister Grace, Laurie Simmons and Girls stars Jemima Kirke and Alex Karpovsky. Laurie Simmons is the disattached mother who brings a great uncomfortable sense to scenes and Jemima Kirke brings great hilarious on screen energy just like she does in Girls, definite highlight. In the end, it’s a unique film with a strange set of characters with the feel of real life and not simply movie magic – also, rest assured, everyone goes through a hard time.
“Jesus Fucking Christ! They play this song like 20 times a day!”
A guy that has just graduated college, goes to work at the worst thing imaginable: at an run-down amusement park. It’s engaging because of the characters, and yes Kristen Stewart is watchable (might I say good?) in this film unlike most others I’ve seen with her. Ryan Reynolds helps for the hotness factor, and Jesse Eisenberg is proving once more his talent in this role as the main character. It’s a touching coming-of-age story set in the likes of an amusement park; it quickly becomes a funny, sweet, authentic and thoroughly enjoyable film. I was extremely hesitant when first starting on this film (mainly because of Stewart) but I was quickly put to ease and was loving the witty vibe that this movie captures. The trailer and plot summaries simply don’t do this movie justice for the weird dynamics created, and moments seized as a great film. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader compliment the film with their small roles and help this film reach it’s comedic height, and the best part is honestly that it’s just a quick paced enjoyable watch. Their characters are representative of the weird small characters found at this run-down amusement park. I actually rewatch this film quite a lot during the summer because its easy to watch and puts me in a good mood.
“Studying is hard and boring. Teaching is hard and boring. So, what you’re telling me is to be bored, and then bored, and finally bored again, but this time for the rest of my life? This whole stupid country is bored!”
A beautiful coming of age story about a girl deadset on getting into Oxford University in 1960′s London, who’s world is thrown upside down when met by an older, cultured man. Carey Mulligan’s breakout role is absolutely fantastic, and even playing a mousy plain girl she has a quality that draws you in. Peter Sarsgaard plays the older man with just enough charm and just enough creep to keep the dynamic interesting – this film is gripping while being almost excruciating to watch as the story plays out. I think it was absolutely brilliant, it captures the teenage angst and desire – for me it was an interesting take on how to deal with feeling unfulfilled. The way it’s shot really draws you in, the beautiful setting of rich 60’s London fascinates you but it’s the characters and story that stays with you. It’s a subtle nuanced film, and honestly explores this budding relationship in a mature and mostly charming manner. One last thing I have to say is simple – you’ll remember it and you’ll definitely remember Carey.
“This whole thing of trying to break in and establish a sport – it took a very, very strong attitude”
This was one of those movies I randomly came across (on a plane), had never heard of it before and was rewarded with my decision to watch it. It’s a documentary on surfing, and really follows the men who established it as a sport and really lays out the foundations of the modern day surf world. It’s follows a new group of surfers that move to hawaii in the 70’s to follow their dreams of surfing. It depicts their arrival in the land of aloha and surf lifestyle, and how serious these men were about their sport. It’s a foundation story, and being able to get an inside looks at the roots of a sport is fascinating and really rare. It’s a really cool story, and is extremely honest in depicting their struggles in establishing themselves as outsiders to the hawaiians. It sets the scenes with in-depth candid interviews from the surfing legends and locals, really becoming an homage to their passion for the sport. The most memorable moments are the interviews where you can sense the depth of their passion and love for the sport, the bond they feel and their absolute dedication. It’s a great film, really interesting subject matter with an awesome soundtrack (personal favourite is Dreamers by Them Terribles) and awesome surfing scenes.
“It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me. They’re being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up.”
I have to mention one of my favourite films, if not my number one favourite, and it is The Graduate. One thing that is for sure that my single favourite scene from any movie, and for me makes this movie is the final scene. The final scene just grabs me every time, and questions the entire film and is not only the perfect ending but also the perfect character insight just before the credits roll. If you’ve heard of Mrs Robinson, it’s from this film, which follows, a recent graduate who starts a relationship with his parent’s friend Mrs Robinson. Then other characters further complicate this situation and it’s really just a film of interesting dynamics between characters. What makes this film work are the quirky plot, the great cast and the easy pace. I found myself completely caught up in the easy flow of the story, and then in the final scene the movie just hits you with something you didn’t expect. At least, that’s how it happens for me every time I watch it, and the test of a good movie is if you have a strong reaction. Not only is this a quality movie, it’s a classic and again – the final scene is simple perfection.
“That’s what I want… no pity.”
Intouchables is 2011 french film based on a true story and follows the relationship of Philipe, a paralysed millionaire and Driss, his ex-con caretaker. I honestly find it quite challenging to put into words in an effective and truthful manner the strong reaction I had to this film. I found myself laughing and I have never been in a better mood after watching a movie without feeling like it was forced feel-good film. It felt like a trailer featuring only the best parts of a film, that was feature film. I was completely enraptured, relating to the characters genuine nature and laughing to the many unexpected smart remarks. It is one of the easiest films to watch, despite the subtitles (because well, I don’t speak french) due to the cast, script and refreshing take on medical and social issues. The decision to alter Driss’ character history in order to land Omar Sy for the role was the best decision as his energy pulls the movie. It touches on many social issues through a strong story with hilarious jokes, without feeling forced and with a lot of heart. The friendship between the men feels organic and I found myself entirely enraptured by the odd couple. At the end I found myself planning the second viewing and reading up on the real characters, finding not surprisingly they are still close.
“Marriage is hard… Just two people slogging through the shit, year after year, getting older, changing. It’s a fucking marathon, okay?”
A Sundance 2010 breakout hit, with two golden globes achieved (best comedy or musical, and best actress in comedy or musical for Annette Bening) this film is a win all around. The film centers around an unconventional family, two kids with the same sperm donor and two mother’s who gave birth to one each. The kids then want to discover the identity of this sperm donor, and Paul (Mark Ruffalo) is brought into a family. One thing I respect about this film is it’s portrayal of lesbian couples and mainly an unconventional family, something more involved in our world today and really just shows they can seem perfect and can be very messed up – just like the rest of the world. It doesn’t try to portray as the perfect life, or with any sense of malice: it simply shows that a family is a family, problem and all no matter the sex of the parenting unit. In the end this film is touching and gets you involved in the story rather than leaving you feeling unconnected. Main thanks are to the brilliant cast, but also the writing which leaves it hilarious and dramatic – in the end this film just works. All aspects work together from direction, to writing, to acting it all gels together to make a cinematic success.