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La La Land

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Poster for the movie "La La Land"

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.

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Director Damien Chazelle
Runtime 2 h 08 min
Release Date 1 December 2016
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Masterpiece
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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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Poster for the movie ""

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.

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

A Street Cat Named Bob

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Poster for the movie ""

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.

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Runtime 1 h 40 min
Release Date 4 November 2016
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Not bad
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl on the Train

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Poster for the movie "The Girl on the Train"

The Girl on the Train

What you see can hurt you.

20161 h 52 min
Overview

Rachel Watson, an alcoholic who divorced her husband Tom after she caught him cheating on her, takes the train to work daily. She fantasises about the relationship of her neighbours, Scott and Megan Hipwell, during her commute. That all changes when she witnesses something from the train window and Megan is missing, presumed dead.

Metadata
Director Tate Taylor
Runtime 1 h 52 min
Release Date 6 October 2016
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Very good
Images

I had listened to the audio book several months before going to see this at the cinema and was anticipating it in that way you do when you have really enjoyed a book and are wondering how many ways the film can butcher it.  In this case there was also the concern that the British location of the original had been transferred to the USA.

Of course, in a film there is never the luxury of time that a book can give to a story as it meanders through the inner lives of characters, so it’s unfair to judge like for like.  However in this case I was happily surprised, although some parts seemed skimmed (Megan’s backstory, for example) for the most part this was an excellent interpretation.  Emily Blunt did a great job as the alcoholic Rachel and even though the ending wasn’t a surprise this was a much more positive experience than I had anticipated.

 

The Deep Blue Sea

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Overview

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Director
Runtime
Release Date
Details
Movie Status
Movie Rating Masterpiece
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Actors
Starring: —

This was a National Theatre production of the Terrence Rattigan play, The Deep Blue Sea, live streamed to Cineworld cinemas.

A flat in Ladbroke Grove, West London. 1952.When Hester Collyer is found by her neighbours in the aftermath of a failed suicide attempt, the story of her tempestuous affair with a former RAF pilot and the breakdown of her marriage to a High Court judge begins to emerge.With it comes a portrait of need, loneliness and long-repressed passion. Behind the fragile veneer of post-war civility burns a brutal sense of loss and longing.

As much as I enjoy the jaw dropping CGI and effects of Hollywood’s best they really can’t touch the electricity generated by a top rate theatre production.  The Deep Blue Sea was a stunning piece centred around Helen McCory as the suicidal Hester Collyer, her relationship with her buttoned up husband and her lover, the broken WWII pilot.  After I booked my ticket I balked when I saw I was likely to be in the cinema for THREE hours (including interval) but the time just flew.    And the egg sandwich…wow….I’ve never seen so much story told in the simple act of eating a fried egg sandwich.  Genius!