Hounds of Love (2016)

Hounds of Love (2016)

"I realised that the good stories were affecting the organs of my body in various ways, and the really good ones were stimulating more than one organ. An effective story grabs your gut, tightens your throat, makes your heart race and your lungs pump, brings tears to your eyes or an explosion of laughter to your lips."

– Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers, Third Edition.

I've recently started reading Vogler's The Writer's Journey and I couldn't have started it at a better time. While I sat in the cinema, Hounds of Love rolling, I couldn't stop myself from gnawing my fingernails. My breath was uneven and my heart didn't cease from pounding. During the torment, the passage above burst into my head and I finally understood what Vogler was getting at.


Image from The Hollywood Reporter

Hounds of Love is an independent film from Australia's own Ben Young. It tells the story of young Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) who is abducted by Evelyn (Emma Booth) and her partner John (Stephen Curry). With the fight to survive coursing through Vicki's veins, she attempts to escape by getting inside her captor's heads.

Hounds of Love is definitely a horror – the scariest aspect being that Vicki's ordeal could happen to anyone. It was this aspect alone that left my boyfriend shell-shocked, ashamed to be a man, and left him only able to mutter, "What a lovely film…"

However, I lacked this response. I felt drained, of course, but held great respect for Young. Hounds of Love is a chilling tale that expertly shows both sides of the coin: victim and predator. In many ways, Evelyn was just as much of a victim as Vicki. In the news, in the real world, this character would be held as a witch – an evil woman – but Hounds of Love shows how damaged and broken these individuals are. John even showed signs of weakness in his everyday life while being bullied. Of course what these characters do is disgusting, but very rarely are we able to see their side. This is an aspect I truly admire.


Imagine from Variety

Furthermore, the cinematography was simply stunning. The recurring slow motion, panning shots continued to mesmerise me throughout. The eerie effect it created was utterly perfect for the atmosphere the film aimed for.

Plus the acting was simply Oscar worthy.

However, the story didn't unfold the way I expected. From the summary I read on IMDb, I thought there would be more of a focus on Vicki's sly behaviour to successfully "drive a wedge" between her captors. Therefore I thought Vicki would secretly flirt with John, spouting lies in order to win his affection, while also whispering to Evelyn about her failing relationship. Yet, this was not the focus of the tale. Personally, I felt the focus was on women: more specifically motherhood. I admire this road Young took with the script. His portrayal of woman in film was refreshing as so many men struggle to create realistic female characters.

Overall, "enjoy" isn't the word I would use to describe my feelings towards Hounds of Love but I truly admire it. Like I said to my boyfriend as we left cold and shaking from the Glasgow Film Theatre, "I have never wanted anything more than for Vicki to escape that damn house."


Image from HeyUGuys

Make sure to follow me on Twitter (@popcorncrunch) to always keep updated with my reviews! Thanks for reading!

Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver (2017)

If you like music, car chases and guns, you will like Baby Driver.

Image from The Telegraph

Edgar Wright must have been unable to shake the idea of his 2002 music video for Mint Royale’s Blue Song as Baby Driver shares much in common with it. However, Noel Fielding was replaced with Baby – a young man with a rocky past. Baby suffered from a car accident as a child which resulted in a constant ringing in his ears, hence why he listens to music every waking hour. Due to past mistakes, Baby has a debt to repay to crime boss Doc, but even when his debt is cleared he is unable to escape.
Baby Driver is a film I would describe as a Saturday-night-popcorn-munching film. It doesn’t take a lot of thought, it’s fast paced and exciting, and there’s a lot of things blowing up.

I have to admit, I didn’t have high hopes for Baby Driver – even after reading so many raving reviews. As soon as I saw the trailer, I groaned. Ansel Elgort doesn’t have a résumé that impresses me and a film about a get-away driver sounded, well, boring. However, my prejudice was squashed. Elgort was able to break out of the “teen movie” stereotype – even impressing me with his performance – and Wright awed me with good old fashioned car chases and action.

However, I’m not left jumping with joy. Yes, Baby Driver was fun, exciting, exhilarating and touching, but I continue to feel as if something was missing. After days of pondering, I think I’ve finally got it.

Image from Teaser Trailer

I’m not certain if it was Wright’s intention, but I found myself constantly questioning whether Baby actually had a hearing impairment. From the way the character was acting and, judging the small pieces of information we were given about Baby’s past, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had two very capable, fully functioning ears.

Why do I think this? The flashbacks. These segments show the audience how Baby got his first iPod, how he already loved music due to his mother, and how Baby would listen to music while his parents fought. I believe it is a great possibility that Baby simply listens to music because that is how he was taught to cope with stressful situations; his music is his comfort blanket.

Why does this matter? you may be screaming. So what, right? It doesn’t affect the story in any way, does it? We still get to listen to awesome music throughout every scene, what does it matter if he doesn’t have a hearing impairment? Well, I personally found it difficult to trust Baby’s character due to my suspicions. I feel if Baby had come clean to his love interest, Debora (Lily James), then the story would have been enriched so much more. Plus, I would have found the love story to be far more compelling if such a bombshell had landed, as I personally found it difficult to understand why Debora agreed to run away with Baby – I mean surely she should be running away from a criminal? But hey, maybe I’m not romantic enough to understand.

Overall, Baby Driver is the perfect film to see if you want to get away from the world for a few hours – and even better if it’s a birthday treat (thank you boyfriend!). Fantastic action accompanied by brilliant music, what more can you ask for?

Thanks for reading my review but make sure you follow me on Twitter (@popcorncrunch) to catch every update! 

Image from The Fanboy Factor

Wonderland

Birthdays have a funny habit of reappearing every year. 

And each year, the same panic arises: what present do I get them?

My family usually feel this strain the most as I never know what I want for my special day. However, this year Wonderland was coming to The King’s. What a perfect time to try something new, no?

Before taking my seat, I had assumed that Frank Wildhorn’s musical version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would have a modern twist and would somehow have a dark edge due to this. After five minutes into the show, I realised I was exactly right.

Image from The Bolton News

Alice was no young girl who simply fell down a rabbit hole; she was a divorced mother who couldn’t handle the real world. Still helplessly in love with her emotionally abusive ex-partner, Alice relishes the thought of staying in Wonderland where real life problems won’t affect her. However, the goofy boy-next-door love interest and her far more mature daughter, Ellie, would not let her stay. Throughout the musical Alice learns she cannot live in the past and let her dreams continue to be dreams; she must face her reality and grow up.

So, yeah, maybe not dark enough to give your children nightmares, but dark enough to hit me in the heart. 

If I was to keep this review short and sweet (which if you’re a regular, you know will never happen) then I’d simply say, “If you want to start introducing your children to the musical genre, Wonderland is the perfect starting point.” It’s fast paced, packed with songs, and the humour characters’ possess is perfect for young minds. 

However, am I going to stop there? No.

Image from stagereview.co.uk

The start of the musical was so fast paced I felt I was struggling to keep up. We had barely met the three main characters before they were thrust into Wonderland (by an elevator by the way – I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that) and then there was even less time before we were introduced to more wacky characters. The first half of the first act felt a bit mad, which I guess is fitting.

You could say that I’m becoming very picky in my old age, and studying story structure is making me a snob, and I’d have to agree. However, I do not believe that a musical targeted at children should face less criticism than any other musical. The structure of the story felt incredibly lost at the beginning of the show – as if there was too much to fit in – however by the intermission I could see the themes and characters unfold into a logical structure. 

Furthermore, I was incredibly disappointed by the costume design. All costumes and makeup felt undeniably amateur. As an avid Strictly fan, I love a good frock, and I was completely disappointed with what I saw.

Image from anorganisedmess.com

However, I felt the stage design was simple yet effective. Very simple changes were made yet it felt completely different. 

The actors and actresses involved also impressed me. Each conveyed their character well and effortlessly made me laugh – my star being Naomi Morris who played Alice’s daughter, Ellie. Her moody teenager continuously cracked me up. Furthermore, the songs were incredibly entertaining and the good singing that accompanied it made Wonderland a breeze to enjoy.

But, the big question remains. The question that determines the success of Wonderland: would I go see it again? Would I actively seek out tickets and fight for the best seats in the house? 

No. 

As I have alluded to throughout this review, if I was a mother with young children who loved Alice, I feel I’d be buying tickets again and again. However, as someone who was not the biggest fan to begin with, I don’t feel a pull to see it again. Does this mean Wonderland wasn’t an enjoyable experience – of course not! Did it ruin my birthday? Definitely not! 

But don’t be expecting it in My Top 5 Musicals.

Thank you for reading my review! Make sure to follow me on Twitter, @popcorncrunch, to keep up to date with new reviews! 

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Make way, make way, the Disney freak is here.

After conflicting schedules from myself, my mother and my grandmother, we finally had a date. It was Beauty and the Beast time.

Belle, the funny girl, that Belle, is a favourite of my grandmother and I. So when I first heard they were remaking it, I was excited, then sceptical, then angry, then just worried.

Disney never disappoints. Well, in my opinion anyway. Every remake I have seen has been a pleasant surprise. (Excluding Jungle Book. I didn’t even review that one). No one has asked for the remakes, but I’m happy with what is created. Plus, I can’t fault the ploy for easy money.

So, the tale as old as time. Did it get a five out of five rating? Well… no. Much to my mother and grandmother’s disgust, I was able to fathom a bit of criticism.

Firstly, did they really have to auto tune Emma Watson so heavily?

Watson was the perfect person to cast. Utterly perfect. What she did for the character and the new angle brought to the story was something that inspired me. THIS is how you do a feminist remake Ghostbusters! She invents, she reads, she’s intelligent, she’s brave: what a perfect princess for young girls to see on screen. If I was a parent I would be perfectly content taking my children to see Emma Watson in action.

But why auto tune her?

Like a friend superbly said, “If they’re going to auto tune her that much, they may as well do what they did in old films and just dub her.” After seeing a nod to Singing in the Rain within the movie, I had to agree. The perfect sound from Watson’s lips was incredibly distracting, and even though there were talking candlesticks, magic mirrors and beasts, it was still the most unrealistic thing in the film.

Furthermore, and it pains me to write this, but the script didn’t always flow. It hurts me to say as Stephen Chbosky was one of two to write the screenplay (the other being Evan Spilotopoulos). This point made my mother scowl the most and I have to admit I scowled at myself after seeing Chbosky in the credits. I simply felt like the merge of the original screenplay with the new dialogue didn’t always gel. 

The last problem I had was Belle’s backstory. Belle is one of my favourite princesses, and while I did wonder about her mother, I just assumed is what the usual Disney excuse: she died. And *spoiler alert* she died. What a shock, eh? I understand the writers must have wanted something to bring the Beast and Belle closer, but I felt the execution on this subject was poorly done. I was perfectly content knowing Belle was like her mother, now understanding this is where Belle gets her different personality, but in all honesty, I didn’t really care what had happened to her…

… Will I be turned into a Beast now? Or maybe a toilet brush?

But, overall, it was an enjoyable film. The set design and costumes were stunning and kept the magical, cartoonish vibe throughout. Plus, the cleverly animated furniture wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be. And that scene when they turn back into household objects, their faces fading away, Mrs Potts crying out for Chip? Too far Disney – too far! 

But we have to talk about the world famous ballroom dance scene. The scene that would make or break the film. I have to admit, it brought goosebumps to my skin, made tear bubble in my eye, and my nose started sniffing. I found the traditional dancing to be a fantastic new twist to this beautiful scene and overall worked well.

The remake even offered answers and fixed plot holes that Disney obsessed YouTubers have been raving about since the start of the internet. Furthermore, I felt Belle’s relationship with the Beast was far more natural and relaxed – so stop calling it Stockholm Syndrome! Moreover, the new songs (which I’m inclined to say are in the stage show) perfectly fit into the remake and, like my mother fantastically put it, “It makes the remake different enough so you don’t constantly compare the old and the new.”

See! I did like it, mum! You proud?

However, I feel it important to address some controversy surrounding Beauty and the Beast. Firstly, Emma Watson’s waist.

Look at that fat waist.

Look at that waist that is smaller than her shoulders and a beautifully healthy size to show young children.

Utterly disgusting.

Furthermore, LeFou. Was he homosexual or was he heterosexual? Does a simple dance shared between two men make a character gay?

Well, in my opinion, LeFou was perfect. His character was far more morally diverse than his original debut and made himself to be the funniest character in the film. Is it obvious he’s gay? Not exactly, but it is evident he’s incredibly camp. In the last few scenes we see him accidentally dance with a man and they both look happily surprised. The character to whom he ends up with is a man who previously appeared in a dress and looked very happy with himself. Personally, I found LeFou’s sexuality perfectly portrayed throughout the film. What I feel many people forget is that homosexual characters don’t need to shout it from the rooftops, they don’t need to kiss every same sex person around and they don’t need to be stereotyped. What people forget is that Beauty and the Beast is ultimately Belle’s story – not LeFou’s. If the title was LeFou and the Beast then maybe I would understand the disappointment but I was perfectly content in the character portrayed.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a must see if you are a Disney lover like myself. Although the original and remake have its differences, each holds its own positives and negatives. I personally find the greatest achievement is Watson’s new feminist Belle. It fits perfectly with the story and I look forward to more headstrong females in Disney films. 

If you liked this review make sure to give it a like and follow me on Twitter (@popcorncrunch) to keep up to date with my cinematic adventures! 

Raw

Raw

Do not see this film if you are squeamish.

There you go: review finished. Done, dusted, on to my next one!

I joke. I genuinely can’t think of a better film to get my reviews rolling again. After a break due to uni commitments, I’m back with the review of Raw. And my goodness, what a film to start with.


Firstly, do not be discouraged due to subtitles. I know of many individuals who refuse to watch foreign films simply because of this. And to this I say – stop! Some of the best films I have seen are in a different language. When you’re immersed in a story, you shouldn’t care what language a film was filmed in. So stop boycotting foreign films and witness the magic!

However, Raw is probably not the best start. Like I stated before, do not watch this film if you are squeamish. I have never sat in a room full of so many squirming people before. It is not an easy watch.

For those who are not aware of the Cannes Film Festival winner, Raw tells the story of Justine (Garance Marillier) who is in the process of beginning university. She hopes to become a vet and joins the veterinary university her parents and sister both attended. She is naturally a vegetarian and has strong beliefs that animals are equally important as humans. 

What could go wrong you ask?

After a wonderfully gruesome initiation, Justine begins to crave meat. Kebab meat? Check. Raw meat from her freezer? Check. And it doesn’t stop there…


Truth be told, I can’t tell if I liked Raw. I’m incredibly proud of myself for making it through the film without vomiting or passing out, but I’m not sure if I can say I “enjoyed” it. To be honest, I wasn’t going to see Raw until I met a friend on the train who had witnessed the gore for themselves. They spoke with such awe in their voice that I knew I had to see it for myself. She told me, “it’s one of those films that stays with you after you’ve seen it.” And I have to completely agree. There hasn’t been a night since watching Raw that I haven’t laid awake in bed, thinking, pondering, and blinking away gruesome flashbacks.

Writer and director Julia Ducournau did a fantastic job creating a realistic horror story. As usual in many horrors, the main character is annoying and different. I found myself sighing at Justine (but not at Marillier’s acting – she was phenomenal). Yet Justine’s struggle was far more engaging than the usual horror cliques which makes Raw a breath of fresh air. The carnivorous nature of the film could have followed the example of zombie horrors. It could have went overboard with gore. But Ducournau managed to portray a simply haunting film without using any gimmicks. Justine wasn’t over dramatised or simplified, her character remained complex and fascinating. It truly is nothing like anything I’ve seen before.


Furthermore, the score was perfect for the film. Just a few seconds in and I was already on edge. It instantly set up the atmosphere and made me regret attending the film. Moreover, the short film that made an appearance before the main event was an unbelievably unnerving piece of art. I can’t imagine a better film to set up the audience for what they are about to see.

Overall, I can’t say too much about Raw because, honestly, I don’t know how I feel. I’m in awe with the art of story telling, the cinematic beauty, and acting, but when it comes down to the big question: “Would you watch it again” I’d have to say: no. 

A girl can only squirm so much.

Moonlight

Moonlight

After the Oscar debacle, I knew I had to see Moonlight. I mean, it’s obvious that I loved La La Land from my review, but I’m so unbelievably glad that Moonlight stole the title of Best Picture. It was much more deserving.

And no, this is not the case simply because the film has an all black cast. It is not the case simply because it is a LGBTQ+ film. It is not for any political reason whatsoever. The film was just damn good.


Moonlight is split into three chapters: Little, Chiron and Black. Each chapter features the main character, Chiron (nicknamed Little and Black), at a different stage in his life. Three different actors appeared in each chapter: Alex R. Hibbert played Little, Ashton Sanders as Chiron and Trevante Rhodes played Black. However, what I find most compelling is (according to IMDb) no actor was allowed to see another actor perform. I told my boyfriend when leaving the cinema that I was impressed how each actor could replicate the same attitude and mannerisms, but this apparently is not the case. Each actor was allowed to show the character in a way they imagined him to be, and this resulted in something beautiful and, what I had thought, was completely planned. 

Furthermore, in some cases, editing can be sticky and jarring if a story is laid out like this one. I felt Barry Jenkins was able to deal with these changes effortlessly and no aspect of the film was compromised.

The acting also blew me away. There is a particularly heartbreaking scene from Hibbert when he asks what a “faggot” is. This scene was so raw and beautifully performed that I truly hope the young man keeps acting for years to come.


But it wasn’t just Hibbert that touched my heart. Like I said before, each actor was able to capture exactly what the character needed. Support actors and actresses were also stunning – especially Naomie Harris. I personally believe she should have just won Best Actress regardless of the fact she’s not a starring role. She’s much better than plateauing Emma Stone.

Overall, Moonlight was a touching story about masculinity and sexuality. During one scene I found myself cringing and wriggling uncomfortably in my seat. I took a moment to ask myself why. Why was this film confusing me? Then, I realised.

Moonlight shows no stereotype of homosexuality. In so many different medias we are greeted with flamboyant, camp, feminine and physically weak gay men. The romances we are usually faced with are relationships featuring a couple much like a heterosexual couple: one very camp whereas the other is more masculine. The constant question is asked, “Who’s the man in the relationship? Who’s the girl?” It took me a moment but I realised the reason I was having trouble digesting what I was watching was because I simply wasn’t used to seeing this kind of portrayal. These men were tough, strong and incredibly masculine. This was the root of so many problems for our character and I felt myself struggle to understand along with him. 


So, no, this film didn’t win simply because the 2016 Oscars was too white. It won because it is moving, the cinematography is beautiful and the acting is above and beyond whatever La La Land could throw at you.

There, I said it.

The Full Monty

The Full Monty

I have never seen the film The Full Monty (well, apart from the first 10 minutes we watched in class) but I knew the basic plot, I had heard the stories, I could guess what would happen from the title, but I was going in with no expectations.

Well, except from the fact my family thought we were going to see the musical of The Full Monty.

It was, in fact, not the musical version. I realised this at the intermission when there had not been a single burst of musical performance. It was then that my mother had to explain to myself and my cousin (who also was also a Full Monty virgin) it was not what we had initially thought. The show that we were seeing was basically the movie rewritten for the stage. I wasn’t complaining, though. It was still a fantastic night.


Every actor involved blew me away. The majority of their credits are from TV or film so to be equally as good on stage is impressive. Some actors can’t do both, but these guys could. Especially Kai Owen who played Dave. He stole the show for me.

However, I would have loved it if the actors connected with the audience more. I know The Full Monty is not a pantomime, but the woman sitting on the far left of me obviously thought it was. Maybe she had one too many from the bar before the curtains rose, or maybe she was unaware how loud her remarks were, but the one liners she announced to the room completely made the show what it was for me. Her commentary was hilarious and it would have made my night if one of the actors reacted to it. I understand that this may not suit the kind of production that The Fully Monty is, but if your tour dares to venture to Glasgow – you better be prepared for those Glasgow women. 

Especially those that have had a drink.


The stage design was beautiful thanks to Robert Jones. It never changed throughout the entirety of the show but it didn’t matter. The actors would casually rearrange the boxes and scrapyard junk while on stage in order to set up the next scene which was determined by lighting changes (thanks to Tim Lutkin). These subtle changes were so simple yet worked extremely well.

The aspect of the show that really touched my heart was the reaction from the audience. It didn’t matter if the man was “too thin”, “too fat” or “too old” – the woman (and some gents) surrounding me cheered them on all the same. In a society where men believe they have to have the same amount of muscle mass as Thor, have cheekbones chiselled like Tom Hiddleston and be tall and pouting like so many models on magazine covers, it was unbelievably refreshing to know that so many women don’t feel the same. It felt like a statement was being screamed from all around me: “you are beautiful to someone.”

Also: “Get your willy out!” 


Us Glasgow women like a laugh after all.

So, if you like the film of The Fully Monty, you will love the stage show. The atmosphere in the theatre is electric and, like my cousin said, you won’t laugh like that again for a while.

And to anyone wondering, yes they did go the full monty. I saw a little too much of some performers and not quite enough of Gary Lucy.