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La La Land (2016)
A leap into imagination
What a sweet film! Like Birdman, this is a very unique picture that offers something revolutionary to the eyes and ears.
It fits into the category of complete escapism, like in the Golden Age of cinema. If you are looking for a musical with political or social overtones, you may be disappointed. This is a very simple story about love and following your dreams in Hollywood.
It manages to avoid a lot of the cheesy parts and is not your average musical you see on Broadway.
The two leads are brilliant to watch and extremely likable. And the production design is breathtakingly beautiful. This movie will definitely win a lot of awards. ;)
Hidden Figures (2016)
Inspiring, beautiful and hopeful
The untold story about the three African American women who helped NASA fly the first astronauts into space is finally put on the big screen. It's movies like these that absolutely must be told, as there are loads who haven't been widely known yet.
This film reminded me of one of my all time favorite films, The Imitation Game, another biopic about a math genius underdog who's extraordinary skills helped change the world for the better.
I personally detest maths, but the heart of the story lies in the real life women who overcame both racial and gender barriers and use their skills to advance the achievements of NASA.
The soundtrack is absolutely marvelous and should be nominated for many awards. The person who made the biggest impression on me was Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, the no- nonsense mathematician who worked closely with Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) head of NASA.
This is an incredibly inspiring and uplifting film. Definitely not one to miss!
Sherlock: The Final Problem (2017)
The Sherrinford Game
Remember the scene in The Great Game when a child's life had to be saved in ten seconds? Well cram that up into a 90 minute episode and you get a good idea of how The Final Problem runs.
Sherlock, John and Mycroft are up against Euros Holmes, who is like a female Hannibal Lecter incarcerated and eventually taking over her asylum at Sherrinford. They play VERY dangerous, psychologically damaging games with each other and others.
There are many twists and turns, that, while very exhilarating, was a bit too much in parts. I think this episode suffered from being a little over-hyped. Although I really loved it, I thought the Lying Detective was better.
There is one massive revelation I'm thankful for, and that was Redbeard. It's the same twist as the Hounds of Baskerville, in which Henry Knight replaces a man with a dog as his father's killer in his memories. I had never believed for one second that Sherlock was just emotionally repressed simply to be a better detective. The tragedy of your own sister killing your best friend out of jealousy would be enough to strike anyone dumb. It was terribly heartbreaking, but I always suspected something like this was the cause of his personality.
In the end, Sherlock wins by showing compassion to the people he loves. This was the writer's plan throughout the whole series; to humanize him and make him older, wiser and more empathetic towards people.
I think empathy is the key to everything. Living in dark times such as these, I think it's vitally important that we showcase it nowadays
Sherlock: The Lying Detective (2017)
Picking up the pace...
Holy crap!! What an episode!
Sherlock is very high on drugs, hallucinating while engaging with a client. John, still grief-stricken over Mary's death, sees her everywhere, while she talks to him.
Sherlock's next case is to expose philanthropist/entrepreneur Culverton Smith, played fantastically by Toby Jones. He is an intensely creepy fellow with bad teeth, a disturbing laugh and creates a genuine felling of unease. And he's also a serial killer.
Sherlock puts himself through utter hell in order to catch the man, much as he did in the original story "The Dying Detective".
The acting from everyone in this episode was absolutely phenomenal. Benedict and Martin were particularly brilliant.
One of the highlights is the scene where John breaks down in tears over Mary, and Sherlock goes over to hug him. It's the first time he makes a genuine physical display of affection for another human being. Even though he doesn't value his own life too much, he cares very deeply for the ones he loves. And there aren't that many.
There is a massive, distressing twist in the end which involves a person in disguise, finishing with a cliffhanger. It seems that unlike the other episodes in the series, each one in season 4 seems to be connected to one another, like cables. You can't really watch them in isolation.
Let's hope that The Final Problem answers all the questions we've been asking over the years.
The Girl on the Train (2016)
Americanised version of a chilling, suspenseful tale
Taking a thoroughly English story and turning it into an American one always hurts the original tone. But the story is so rich and powerful that you can't really do too much damage.
I'd say the best part about the film is Emily Blunt. Even though she uses her own English accent in the movie, she sounds like someone who has lived in the US for quite some time, and it probably would have made more sense for her to have an American accent. If they changed the setting and all the other characters to American, why not do the same with the protagonist? That being said, she was absolutely perfect for the role. She was consistently sad and droopy and was perfectly convincing as the alcoholic, depressed Rachel.
The rest of the story played out as it did in the book. But the truth is, I couldn't put the book down, which doesn't happen very often. So apart from Blunt's acting, and the mysteries surrounding her character's blackout drinking during the night of a girl's murder, the film doesn't do too much for me.
Sherlock: The Six Thatchers (2017)
Shark VS Bloodhound
This first episode delivered everything that was promised and more. It started off goofy, funny and lighthearted as it always was, but then descended into hell and ended with the death of a beloved recurring character. Although this was a 120 year old spoiler, and I kind of expected it to happen, it was still pretty heartbreaking.
Mary's past as a double agent comes back to haunt her and everyone in her life, interfering with Sherlock's cases. There are some flickers showing Sherlock's past, which will no doubt be elaborated in the upcoming episodes.
Her death causes a (seemingly) irreparable riff between Sherlock and John. He can't forgive his friend for not protecting her and Sherlock is broken with guilt, seeking help from a psychiatrist. Sherlock is changing, realizing for the first time, his lifestyle and way of dealing with things have consequences.
Overall this was a great start and I'm very curious to see where it will go next.
Vicious: The Finale (2016)
Like a balloon fizzling out rather than popping.
The finale of Vicious had its good moments, and also its bad ones. Freddie and Stuart still bitch at each other, but resolve to being a bit nicer as well. Violet temporarily goes out with a lesbian, and Ash gets accepted at a university in the states.
The scene where they all say goodbye to Ash is very sad and heartfelt, but the final scene was boring and unfulfilled, with weak writing and an unemotional punch. While the acting in this episode was particularly good, the writing was not.
Given the way it started out, I felt it could have done with a much more epic finale.
A beautiful addition to the collection
I'm so glad when Disney select a theme, culture or population and tell an interesting story with it.
This film reminds me a lot of the old Disney movies (Mulan, Hercules) as well as the new ones (Frozen, Wreck it Ralph).
It's got a spunky, feisty heroine, a funny lovable sidekick (Maui), breathtakingly beautiful animation, ear wormy songs (You're welcome!) and accurate depiction of different cultures.
The only thing it lacked, however, was a good villain. Tamatoa, the giant Smaug-like crab who sings like a glam rock artist, hardly gets any screen time to "shine". Which is a shame, since he seemed like a pretty good character.
Definitely a good movie to watch when you're depressed. ;)
Wafer fin, badly chosen time period.
After the big hoo-ha about how bad this film is, in particular because of Zoe Saldana's casting, I decided to give this movie a shot.
I know virtually nothing about Nina Simone's life, but this film does not want to portray what her life was during her prime. Instead it relies on itty bitty pieces of dialogue during interviews and conversations with Nina's old friend Richard Pryor. It is set during the last decade of her life, when she is mentally ill, unstably alcoholic and very difficult to tolerate. Clifton (David Oyelowo), the nurse at the mental hospital where she is interred, takes her in, looks after her and eventually becomes her manager.
The real problem with this movie is, glaringly, the time period of Nina's life. It's not a good one, and very little happens in the movie. We start her off as a little girl defying racial segregation so that her parents can sit in the front row. Nothing else is shown of her rise to fame and struggles, which makes the film feel very empty.
One thing I really didn't like is the erasure of Clifton's homosexuality. Although he and Nina are not seen intimate with each other (at one point she calls him the F word when he refuses to have sex with her) there is a small implication. Why couldn't they show everyone he was gay?
The last thing is of course Zoe Saldana as Nina. I personally feel the criticism (and it was extremely scornful) was very unfair. She did the best with what she was given, and she should be praised for it. The problem is not the color of her skin, its the age. She is supposed to be in her sixties, and yet Saldana is actually younger than David Oyelowo! They really couldn't find an older actress?
At times the movie was painfully boring, badly paced and perhaps unintentionally funny. 5 out 10.
A quiet film about pure, true love.
This is a civil rights film. But unlike all the other civil rights bio-pics, this one centers on interracial love, the famous Loving Vs Virginia and the eventual lifting of the ban on interracial marriage.
This film is very quiet, but none the less very powerful and well made. There is no violence or swearing in this film apart from a couple of mild threats.
The Lovings truly were nice, kind, beautiful people, who were simply a normal every day average family. So it makes what happened to them even more unjust.
The film presents an unusual amount of empathy and understanding to many characters. And I think that's what's missing in many movies right now, and in the world.