La La Land

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La La Land

Here's to the fools who dream.

20162 h 08 min
Overview

Mia, an aspiring actress, serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and Sebastian, a jazz musician, scrapes by playing cocktail party gigs in dingy bars, but as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.

Metadata
Director Damien Chazelle
Runtime 2 h 08 min
Release Date 1 December 2016
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Masterpiece
Images

Here’s to the dreamers…

I’ve been looking forward to this film with a ridiculous amount of anticipation which as we know often goes badly wrong, but NOT this time!

Everything about this film is wonderful, except maybe for the cheesy first five minutes.  Get through that, leave your cynicism at the door and prepare for some cinema joy.  This is the musical made fresh with passion and delightful exuberance.  Emma Stone is both feisty and vulnerable as Mia.  Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian with just right amount of buttoned up-ness.  The dancing is gorgeous, the colours are sunny and warm.  I hate jazz (or maybe I don’t now!) but the music was fabulous.  Oh it even has a touch of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.

Seriously this is the best antidote to the gloomy January blues, and if you even have a tiny sliver of romance in your icy, cynical heart go and see it!

A Monster Calls

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A Monster Calls

Stories are wild creatures.

20161 h 48 min
Overview

A boy attempts to deal with his mother's illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping to a fantastical world.

Metadata
Runtime 1 h 48 min
Release Date 7 October 2016
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Good
Images

 

A Monster Calls is a gruelling emotional exploration of loss and grief as seen from the point of view of Conor O’Malley.  Conor is a 12 year old whose life is being ripped apart as he watches his beloved mother engulfed by cancer and the prospect looming of living with the grandmother he dislikes.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, just for good measure he’s being bullied at school.

The monster, a yew tree brought to life by Liam Neeson, arrives to impart guidance in the form of stories animated in stunning watercolour.  Never sentimental and often unexpected this is a beautiful film if you can stand the deep and underlying sadness running throughout.

Why Him?

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Why Him?

20161 h 51 min
Overview

A dad forms a bitter rivalry with his daughter's young rich boyfriend.

Metadata
Director John Hamburg
Runtime 1 h 51 min
Release Date 22 December 2016
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Not bad
Images

 

Bryan Cranston stars in this Meet the Parents meets the Pink Panther combo (helpfully explained for younger viewers).  Although this movie has several flaws, unoriginal storyline, overlong, no real heart it still has plenty of humour and great comedy acting from a stellar cast.  Bryan Cranston can do very little wrong in my eyes and he didn’t disappoint as the buttoned up father (with a penchant for Kiss) protecting his daughter from the mega rich games developer.  We know it’s going to go all wrong before it goes all right and that’s okay.  I enjoyed the setting of the game designer’s mansion, the crazy art, the weird bespoke food and most of all ‘Justine’.  Justine is the grown up, foul mouthed, all seeing (although she denies she can actually see) all hearing version of the Amazon Dot built into every ceiling in the house.  I loved her and I want one!

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

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Poster for the movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

20162 h 13 min
Overview

In 1926, Newt Scamander arrives at the Magical Congress of the United States of America with a magically expanded briefcase, which houses a number of dangerous creatures and their habitats. When the creatures escape from the briefcase, it sends the American wizarding authorities after Newt, and threatens to strain even further the state of magical and non-magical relations.

Metadata
Director David Yates
Runtime 2 h 13 min
Release Date 16 November 2016
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Not bad
Images
No images were imported for this movie.

The CGI stuff was expertly executed, but we wouldn’t expect anything less given this film’s pedigree.  The beasts were ingenious and the small details in almost every scene were clever and smile inducing.  A couple of times I was reminded of Mary Poppins, think carpet bag and the tidying up scene.  However, the storyline was thin with too many tails and by the end it felt like an overlong trailer for the four sequels to come.   Although there was little character development maybe  this will be a slow release over the duration of the franchise if they continue with the same cast.  Overall it was average, hopefully the next one will be meatier.  Special mention for Alison Sudol for a luminous, almost Monroe-esque performance.

A Street Cat Named Bob

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A Street Cat Named Bob

20161 h 40 min
Overview

Based on the international best selling book. The true feel good story of how James Bowen, a busker and recovering drug addict, had his life transformed when he met a stray ginger cat.

Metadata
Runtime 1 h 40 min
Release Date 4 November 2016
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Not bad
Images
No images were imported for this movie.

This film falls down the crack between hard hitting social drama and family friendly lighthearted romp.  It’s based on a book, the true story of James Bowen, a homeless recovering drug addict and the cat who became his salvation.  I haven’t read the book but I understand it changed many people’s perception of the homeless and apparently improved James’ life to the extent that he was able to buy his own home.  All wonderfully positive, but for me, the film missed out by not exploring the issues in greater depth.  It was a strange mixture.  There were many, many cat close ups and when we started seeing shots from the cat’s POV I was dreading some anthropomorphic voiceover (my pet hate..sorry!) but thankfully the director spared us from hearing Bob’s inner thoughts.

The actors were great, Bob played himself which is amazing in itself.  Luke Treadaway was both endearing and convincing as the abandoned son of a wealthy father who had turned to drugs.  Special mention to the lovely Joanne Froggatt (Downton, Dark Angel) as the social worker who exuded both warmth and stability.

All in all it was a ‘pleasant’, feel-good film, but not enough depth for me.