A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story has to be one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen.

When I was first greeted with the trailer of A Ghost Story I have to admit I laughed out loud. Seeing a grown man underneath the old-fashioned blanket-ghost costume came across incredibly comical to me. However, this film is anything but a comedy.

A Ghost Story comes from David Lowery who wrote and directed the masterpiece. Apparently he wrote the first draft within a day which I completely believe to be true as there is so little dialogue within the script. While watching a thought popped into my head: “It’s like a series of photographs.” You may be thinking, well duh – that’s what cinema is! But each shot was utterly beautiful – it was like a photographer had planned each shot and studied the composition down to the last inch. I don’t think there’s a signal frame from the film that I wouldn’t happily print to hang on the wall.

Image from: A24

However, you may be worrying that because the film is so beautiful in terms of cinematography that might be its only substance. If you are thinking this, I assure you otherwise. A Ghost Story is a heart-warming tale of love, time and dying wishes. If you’re a restless type who requires a fast paced film with car chases and shoot outs, I’d probably recommend Baby Driver over this film. However, I would still urge you to give it a go.

I have to admit, at times A Ghost Story annoyed me. I personally don’t feel a 5-10 minute shot of a girl eating a pie is particularly fascinating, nor a couple kissing in bed, and after a few minutes of these continuous shots I began to fidget. I do understand why Lowery kept these shots this length, I do understand what it’s meant to convey, but, overall, I really didn’t see the need for it and I personally feel this is what will cause people to call A Ghost Story “pretentious.”

Furthermore, I did wish there was more substance to the backstory. The focus was definitely more on the “afterlife” but I had hoped for a little more to sink my teeth into. For example, I don’t quite understand how C died. Yes, there was a car crash, but was he not looking? Was he drunk? Was it someone he knew that hit him? Maybe I’m simply asking these questions as I love the film and want more, more, more – but I think if we had this information we would have further connected with the character.

Image from: Vulture

For this review the focus has to remain on the cinematography and story as there’s not a lot else to write about. I can’t exactly talk about the acting in great detail as the main actor spends the majority of the film underneath a blanket (which, by the way, the wardrobe department deserve props for as it moved and sat perfectly throughout the entire film).

One aspect that I truly admire about the story is that Lowery avoids cliches. I really hate films that show one half of a couple moving on while the other person has to watch in despair. I breathed in relief when M moved out, knowing that C wouldn’t have to painfully watch his Mrs live with another man, have his children and grow old together. I much preferred the narrative Lowery presented.

Overall, I have to urge you to see A Ghost Story. Go yourself one evening, but not if you feel stressed or restless. Go when you’re in the mood for a journey – not a jam-packed plot – and I assure you, you’ll enjoy it. Possibly my favourite thing about A Ghost Story was at the very beginning, before the film had even started, when the screen shrunk inwards, rather than expanding outwards. This alone was enough to grab my attention, and it continued to hold it throughout the entire film.

Thank you for reading! Please follow me on Twitter (@popcorncrunch) where you’ll be first to hear about my adventures! You may also be interested in my last review: Detroit (2017).

Image from: Bleeding Cool

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Detroit (2017): Show a Racism the Red Card Screening

Detroit (2017): Show a Racism the Red Card Screening

Free things don’t often come my way so you can imagine my suspicions when a free screening of Detroit was announced. However, I was soon to learn that Show Racism the Red Card was behind the film student’s dream and everything began to add up.

Detroit is based on the true events that happened in its namesake during the summer of 1967. Riots and rebellion raged over the city as black oppression reached a boiling point. It comes from director Kathryn Bigelow which is easy to tell if you’re an avid Bigelow fan. My boyfriend pointed out that the first half has the same feel as The Hurt Locker (2008) with its documentary-style camera work and this style worked perfectly with the subject matter.

After emailing Show Racism the Red Card and booking my space, I was quick to Google the events of Detroit in 1967 in order to make sure I was educated on the subject. Although I read up on the riots that took place, I failed to learn of the Algiers Motel Incident – the event Detroit aims to bring to light. However, I preferred going into the film not knowing of this incident as I could truly invest myself in the story, get lost in the characters, feel the true pain and betrayal as they did, which I believe added to the cinematic experience.

There were many people present at the screening which I found to be fantastic as it was mostly (if not completely) promoted on Facebook. There was even a school class in attendance! I cannot remember which school the pupils belonged to but it’s an idea that many schools should adopt. Detroit is the perfect film to show Modern Studies classes as well as RMPS studies. I truly believe the kids will have benefitted from the educational film – just as I did.

But onto the film itself. Detroit is a tough watch. Many of us at the screening confessed it wasn’t an enjoyable film but it was an experience none of us would change. The acting made the events in the film tug at the heart strings while the script worked flawlessly in their favour. There are even clips from real news programmes from the time interlaced with reenactments. These clips merged so perfectly together that I struggled to distinguish them apart. Overall Detroit is a difficult film to enjoy but a necessity we must all learn from.

Image from: Pioneer Press

After the film had finished, a panel discussion took place. Those speaking were Ude Adigwe (GMB Union), Professor Colin Clark (University of the West of Scotland), Margret Woods (Unite Against Fascism), Tommy Breslin (Scottish Union Learning) and even the film’s own sound recordist, Ray Beckett. Each person began saying what they personally thought of the film before the panel was open to questions from the audience. As someone who is terrible at creating questions, I awkwardly shifted my eyes side to side as I silently prayed someone would speak. Surprisingly my boyfriend raised his hand and asked if the film could be considered to be a war film as it shares many similarities to Bigelow’s previous works. Beckett nodded along with my boyfriend’s statement and he even shared the feeling on set was very similar to the set of Hurt Locker where he also recorded sound.

There was also a question that when asked I nodded in agreement. It was something I had been feeling but didn’t have the words yet to express. The asker put to the panel, “Would you say the film is set up in such a way that it somewhat justifies the police’s actions?”

From the murmurs in the room, it was obvious the opinion wasn’t a popular one.

The asker continued to explain that if there was a film about the holocaust, you wouldn’t show Jews acting out or causing havoc as it could act as a reason for the horrific event. However, the panel was quick to disagree with his point. Many of the panel pointed out that it’s hard to include every aspect of history in a film as they explained the riots only took place due to the build up of oppression the black community was feeling. Furthermore the reason so many individuals looted at the time was purely because so many of the community lived in poverty and most things stolen were basic necessities. Beckett was also quick to state that Bigelow was determined to express that the “riots” were not “riots”; they were a rebellion.

Someone also asked why Detroit was the focus of the film. They said that there are so many examples of racism, why focus on Detroit? The panel answered that in order to show a problem, it’s easier to first show a specific and work from there. It was also interesting to learn that the reason Algiers Motel was picked as the focus was because so few people actually know what happened. It was the mystery behind it that inspired the writer, Mark Boal.

Furthermore, I was incredibly touched to learn that the real Julie Hysell who survived the torment was present throughout the entirety of the shoot. When watching the film you think that the events must have taken place years ago – as they are far too barbaric and disgusting to happen now – but in reality it’s only been 50 years. Most of the survivors from that time are still alive so actors were able to meet who they were to portray. The fact that this horrific act of police brutality only happened 50 years ago and still happens to this day is a fact too disgusting to live with. Therefore, I will full heartedly support Show Racism the Red Card in their efforts to stomp out racism.

Together we can stop hatred and prejudice – but only if we do it together.

Image from: Show Racism the Red Card Scotland’s Twitter

Thank you for reading! Please look up Show Racism the Red Card – and remember to wear red on the 6th of October!

Image from: Bridge Magazine

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

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.