Exploring the Past – Stardust (2007)

TL;DR – A pure fun ride from start to finish, the kind that leaves a smile on your face for a time after you finish watching it.   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Stardust. Image Credit: Paramount.

Review

There are some films out that that you can only watch once and then there are those that you can watch any time someone suggests it. Today we are looking at the latter, a film that is full of joy from start to finish.

So to set the scene, in the 1800s in Great Brittan there was a little town called Wall. It was a mostly unremarkable little hamlet bar for one odd feature an old wall that runs along its boundary that has an old man (David Kelly) guarding the only opening. Well, one day a young man from the village call Dunstan Thorn (Ben Barnes) decided to go see what was on the other side of the wall. Here he found a marketplace full of bizarre creatures for sale and also servant girl (Kate Magowan) enslaved to an evil witch Ditchwater Sal (Melanie Hill). It was almost a fever dream until nine months later when a baby arrived at Dunstan’s door. Eighteen years later and the young boy Tristan (Charlie Cox) is now grown up and trying to court Victoria (Sienna Miller) when he makes a suggestion that he chases down a falling star and brings it back as proof of his affections. The only problem is that the Star fell across the wall in Stormhold, the star is not an it but a she in Yvaine (Claire Danes), and also Stormhold’s king (Peter O’Toole) has just died and the remaining heirs are trying to track down the necklace that brought Yvaine crashing to the ground, and also also, there is a witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is very interested that a new star has fallen because she would very much like to cut out its heart and eat it.

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TV Review – Sex Education: Season 2

TL;DR – This is a show that deals with sex and sexuality in a very frank and refreshing way which you will find endlessly engaging or very off-putting

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Sex Education: Season 2. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There are some shows that are irreverent for no reason other than the fact that cheap humour gets looks, so pitching your show at the lowest common denominator is a good business model. The crassness has no reason to be there bar being a punchline for people to awkwardly laugh about. However, once in a while you get a show that goes through all the different sex jokes you can have, and indeed it starts with a montage about someone discovering masturbation, however, not once is it about playing it low but instead, it finds a voice for those who don’t quite know how to express each other.

So to set the scene, at the end of last season everything at Moordale Secondary School was in a state of flux with Adam (Connor Swindells) being sent away to military school, Maeve (Emma Mackey) has been expelled, and while Otis (Asa Butterfield) final finds someone to love him back with Ola (Patricia Allison) but it comes at the expense of his one true love Maeve. In the time since Otis has discovered how to achieve release, Maeve has started work in a local mall to get by, Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) has developed a crush on the new kid Rahim (Sami Outalbali), and Otis’ mum Jean (Gillian Anderson) is still seeing Ola’s father Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) even though they had told their kids that they had broken up. Which is the perfect storm for a chlamydia outbreak to cause the school to fall into a state of chaos. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – 1917

TL;DR – This is a film that captures you in the first frame and does not let you go until the ending credits start scrawling     

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

1917. Image Credit: Universal.

Review

Sometimes you go into to see a film and you have no idea that what you are about to watch has been almost tailored just for you. In this case, we have a war film, about just two characters, presented as if it was all filmed in one take. If I was explaining to you what would be the perfect film for me this would not be far off. I bring this up to put some context down before we dive into the world of explosions, gun shots, and every trench under the sun.

So to set the scene, we are in the heights of World War One on the front lines in France, with Germany and their allies on one side and Brittan and their allies on the other. This is trench warfare and every centimetre of territory has been won through a considerable loss of life. It is here where one day Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is roused from his sleep and asked to go on a mission with Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) by General Erinmore (Colin Firth). For you see, overnight the German forces have retreated and many commanders believe that they have them on the run. However, it is actually a ruse, the Germans have just retreated to a more fortified line and they are leading those chasing them into a trap. The boy’s mission is to cross into no-man’s land, travel through enemy controlled territory so they can make it to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) in time to call off the attack and save 1600 lives. Now due to the nature of the film and that it has a staggered release date across the world, I am going to be a bit more cautious with my examples so as to not spoil anything.

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Movie Review – Official Secrets

TL;DR – A powerful exploration of what happens when all the institutions that are meant to protect us from abuse of power fail   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Official Secrets. Image Credit: Universal.

Review

There are films that are perfectly timed in their release, sometimes it is the world shifting around you, sometimes you get lucky and just so happen to be shining a light on something that is about to come to the foreground, and sometimes it is always good to be reminded of speaking truth to power. Well, today we get a film that does all three of those as it explores the absolute mess that was the justifications for the Iraq War. A mess that America, UK, Australia, and others found themselves in through no one’s fault but their own.

So to set the scene, in 2003 the world was on the cusp of war as America in the wake of September 11 has set its sights on a new foe Iraq. Not happy to just sit and wait for the weapon inspectors to do their jobs, they were placing enormous pressure on the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution allowing the war. As this is happening, Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) was working in the UK’s signal intelligence agency GCHQ as a translator, when she receives a memo from her superiors asking them to support NSA efforts to pressure UNSC diplomates to vote for the war. As this goes against her job and is quite possibly illegal, she takes a copy of the memo and gives it to a trusted friend to see if it is as bad as she thought it was, and well it was.

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TV Review – Criminal (UK) Season 1

TL;DR – This is an interesting concept, with some powerful performances, but I am not sure three episodes was enough time to really show it off.  

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Criminal (UK). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Netflix as the premier multi-national streaming juggernaut (for the time being) has been doing a lot of experimenting in recent years. With Black Mirror: Bandersnatch they gave the world a choose your own adventure in cinematic form and with Ultimate Beastmaster they produced different versions for each of the countries participating. Well today we get to take a look at the next experiment with Criminal a series that produced four different versions for France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. Well today we are going to take a look at the UK version to see how this experiment works out.

To set the scene, we open in on DI Natalie Hobbs’ (Katherine Kelly) team as they begin an interview with the suspect of a murder. For you see her team are experts in interrogation, so they are used when there is a time crunch or a serious case that needs their attention. The first of these involves a doctor (David Tennant) that is accused of molesting and then murdering his step-daughter. The interview has been going for hours and time is running out because if they can’t find some way to get him to crack he could walk free. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Downton Abbey (2019)

TL;DR – This is sort of the cinematic equivalent of sitting down under a doona in your PJs eating ice cream while vegging out on some TV. Perfectly pleasant and even enjoyable in places, but with not really any substance with it.    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Downton Abbey. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Review

Well, I am going to get something out of the way right from the start, I have not watched a single episode of Downton Abbey before today. I, of course, know what it is and also thanks to the internet and the enormous fan following it has, I know most of the main plot points but it never interested me to hunt down the DVDs. I say this so if you are a fan of the show you can put my critiques in context, however, I am mostly writing this for those like me who have never seen it before and may get brought along for what is billed as the cinematic event of the year.

So to set the scene, it has been two years since the series finished off and life at Downton is moving on at its usual pace, but no one could be prepared for the letter that is making its way through the Royal Mail system all the way from London. For you see King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) will be spending the night at Downton as part of their Yorkshire tour. Suddenly everything is thrown into chaos as Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) rush to get the house ready, but there are more problems on the horizon and I am not just talking about the boiler kicking it in.

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Movie Review – Anima (2019)

TL;DR – A 15-minute musical experiment that smashes the music of  Thom Yorke with the sensibilities of Paul Thomas Anderson   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Anima (2019). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

This has been the year of the experimental music video/film hybrid, we have gotten the narrative version with Guava Island, the absurd with Bash Brothers, and the documentary hybrid with HΘMΣCΘMING. Well, today we continue this genre with a collaboration between director Paul Thomas Anderson noted for more visually stylistic films like Phantom Thread and Thom Yorke one of the main voices behind Radiohead. If you are a fan of Thom or Paul then I assume that combination instantly got your attention, and if you are not this is only 15 minutes so check it out anyway.

So to set the scene, we are on a train and a lady (Dajana Roncione) leaves her lunchbox behind and a man (Thom Yorke) takes it for himself only for things to get weird. Well, that is about it, as it is only 15 minutes there is not a whole lot more to say other than it is quite a ride.

The first thing I want to talk about is the choreography from Damien Jalet which is one of the three core things that makes this one of the most interesting things I have seen so far this year. There is a flow to the movement, but also a precision that is a really interesting blend. There is a lot of group performances that gives this an organic feel, but also the sharp movements are also otherworldly. Which does sort of fit the theme as anima is referring to the soul. To be honest, I am also always a sucker for the movement that lines up with the beat of the music.

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