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welcome

The beginning- Giving myself a film education

Hey guys, welcome to my new blog!

A few years ago, after scoring embarrassingly low on a ‘list of films to watch before you die’, I decided it was time to step away from romcoms, Leonardo DiCaprio and Louis Theroux and give myself a kind of ‘film education’. Don’t get me wrong; Mean girls, 13 going on 30 and The Most Hated Family In America all shine in their own right. In fact, these may make special appearances on this blog in the future. However, I decided to step out of my paddling pool of comfort and take the plunge into the ocean of films and TV. Metaphorically of course; I’ve seen Jaws.

Then came the pandemic, and alongside a large number of people recently, I have found myself with extra time on my hands. After taking a long hard look at myself, an almost 20 year old who is part way through a degree, I realised that making a blog about my new favourite subject, TV and movies, would be a wonderful new way to procrastinate fill my time.

So welcome to my new blog! I will post regularly about TV shows and films I’m enjoying, or not enjoying. As this blog has been born from the embers of a pandemic, a time when production has been paused almost universally, I plan to write about both the old and the new.

And so we begin, a few years into my film education- feel free to join me for the ride by giving the blog a follow! Expect a range of genres, eras and TV and film, accompanied by my entirely novice thoughts and opinions.

Feel free to let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with any of my thoughts, and recommend any films you fancy seeing a blog post about!

Also please share with any fellow TV/film lovers or anyone you think could also do with a film/TV education of sorts.

Emma x

Categories
Films Theatre

Hamilton- Film review

The next bend in my film education road led me down a well travelled path towards a modern phenomenon. Once again we are discussing a film which is a recording of a stage production (if you haven’t seen my film review of Frankenstein which follows a similar vein you might want to check that out).

Over the Christmas period of 2019 I was lucky enough to catch Hamilton in the West End, and so I have experienced the glory of the stage production. However, the chance to see the original cast, whose voices I knew so well from the cast recording, was unbelievably exciting! Let’s just say it didn’t disappoint. 

If you hadn’t guessed from previous posts, I am from the UK and therefore the stories of American Independence and the post-independence era were completely new to me. Prior to the show the only names I knew were Washington, Thomas Jefferson and King George (of course). I’d never even heard of Alexander Hamilton and I gather this was a common phenomenon among Americans also. Consequently, the plot told me a whole new story.

photo: the verge

When watching the film, I knew the story and so I was able to focus on the brilliance of the lyrics and the world play, wonder at the production of the play and the intelligent choreography, and enjoy the facial expressions (these are not so clear in the cheap seats in the balcony of the theatre). 

The eloquence and whit of Lin-Manuel Miranda continues to amaze me. The line in ‘Aaron Burr, sir’ referring to the punching of the bursar introduces the brilliance of Lin-Manuel’s word play from the off and it continues throughout the play.

The characters are funny, relatable and multifaceted. The staging is simple in set design but smart in relation to choreography and attention to detail. This is wonderfully illustrated in the parallels between Helpless and Satisfied in the first half, and in Hurricane in the second.Every time I see this film I spot something different which makes a different song my favourite. Whether it’s the 10 Duel commandments or Say no to this, the rap, hip hop and ballad combination is inspired, attracting new generations to history. 

photo: Broadwaybox.com

 Yes, the musical is not 100% accurate. It isn’t meant to be, it is a theatratical show. However, every discussion about its accuracy is educating individuals, and so much has been learnt because of this musical and the further investigation people have done. 

The production is beautifully done, Disney portrays it well (you don’t even notice the two blanked f**ks) and the more you watch this the more there is to see and enjoy.

For a masterclass in musical arrangements and acting, this is the play to see. Although, it is still worth seeing in the theatre if you get lucky with ticket lotteries! 

What did you think of Hamilton? Let me know in the comments!

Times are tough right now. Spread love, kindness and equality and listen to, learn from and support others.


til next time,

Emma x 

Categories
Films

Tangled Review- I’m Back

After a little time away finishing my second year of uni, summer has begun (if someone could tell the weather that would be great) and I’m back! I’ve found myself with plenty of time to settle down, call a friend and watch some movies. I’ve revisited some classics, discovered new films and seen plenty in between. And so, without further ado, we venture onwards with our film education and into the realm of Disney! 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tangled is about a girl called Repunzel who is kidnapped as a baby because of the powers of her hair. She grows up trapped in a tower, with her ‘mother’ Gothel (the best character by far) until she encounters Flynn Ryder, a thief who takes her out of the tower to see the floating lights. There is a side-kick chameleon, a pub called the snuggly duckling (not so snuggly…) and hair which makes people young if they hold it and sing; together they make a Disney classic. 

In my opinion, this film is the best of Disney’s ‘recent’ princess releases. It is funny, quick paced, and beautiful to watch. The songs are catchy, the characters are relatable and the film is just good fun. 

Mother Gothel is a cracking character, and the song ‘Mother knows best’ is witty and well-written. And how can we ignore the relatability of the lyrics to ‘when will my life begin’ given the current global climate? This film is a fun adventure and the animation is beautiful with vivid colours. It’s definitely a good way to pass a few hours! 

photo: lianabrooks.com

Let me know what you think of Tangled or tell me about any good films you’ve seen recently.

Hope you’ve all been okay! 

‘Til next time (I promise it won’t be so long),

Emma x

Categories
Films

Blues Brothers- Short review

Next on this little adventure I decided to watch an older classic, and one of my Dad’s favourite films, Blues Brothers.

The storyline in itself isn’t anything special. It follows the Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood. After Jake is released from prison, they discover that the orphanage they grew up in can’t pay its rent. The brothers decide to get their band together in order to raise the necessary money.

However, there are two areas where this film really shines. Firstly, the car chases are brilliant, especially the scene in the mall. This must be the inspiration for coconut mall on Mariokart. Secondly, the soundtrack is amazing. It’s worth watching just for the music.

It’s not the most inspired plot, but the film is easy to watch, funny and very entertaining. Plus plenty of celebrities pop up including Aretha Franklin!

I would definitely watch it again. Have you seen Blues Brothers? What did you think?

Until next time,

Emma 

Categories
Films

Silver Linings Playbook- Review

Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

So we head back to films, continuing with a short review of a modern classic. I loved this film. It follows a man called Pat (Bradley Cooper) who has just spent 8 months in a psychiatric hospital after attacking his wife’s lover. There, he learns he has bipolar. He moves back home with his Mum and Dad, and meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow who has suffered with depression.

Tiffany offers to get a letter to Pat’s ex wife Nikki, who has a restraining order against him, in exchange for him entering a dance competition with her.

The film follows the run up to the dance contest, however its true focus is on relationships and repairing them. In particular, the film examines the relationship between Pat and Tiffany and Pat and his Dad as they struggle to understand each other. The wider importance of friendship and family is also explored.

The film is a comedy, and is uplifting but certainly has serious moments. In the days after watching this, I found my brain wandering back to the story.

Have you seen silver linings playbook? What did you think?

As always, follow the blog to keep up with my film education and share with anyone who you think could also do with a film education.

Emma

Categories
tv

Atypical- Review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 

This is the best Netflix original comedy I’ve seen for a while. It follows a senior called Sam, who has autism, his younger sister Casey and their Mum and Dad as they try to navigate life, relationships, college and school.

In season one Sam is a brilliant artist who loves Antarctica but is struggling to find a girlfriend. Casey is excelling at track and is experiencing first love, and Doug and Elsa (Mum and Dad) are finding their marriage is harder than it used to be as Sam’s relationship with his Dad strengthens, leaving his Mum feeling at sea.

The show feels honest, is very funny, and is also heartbreaking at times. There is a brilliant group of supporting characters such  as Paige, Zahid and Evan in all the seasons and Izzy in seasons 2 and 3.

Personally, I believe the show improves with each season, with Sam going to college and Casey becoming friends with Izzy being particularly strong story lines.

ATYPICAL

Although the first series came under fire for a lack of autistic actors and actresses, this begins to shift in the seconds series and by the third it is better again. Whilst I’m sure there are still more steps that could be taken, I think a show like this is important in raising awareness surrounding ASD. Even though it just shows one experience of ASD, which can be drastically different in different people, I like to think it’ll make people more educated and kinder. 

So if you’d like a show which is brilliantly funny, intelligent and perfect to bingewatch, I highly recommend this!

What did you guys think of atypical?

Emma x

Categories
Films

Midsommar- Review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So next on this journey I decided to take a step away from comedy and venture down a darker lane into the world of Midsommar.

I watched this horror film after a rather traumatic recommendation from my cousin, and although I wouldn’t say I ‘enjoyed’ it, I am glad I saw it and I would watch it again.

For starters it is a horror film which actually has a plot! Since watching Silence of the Lambs a few years ago, this has been missing from most other horrors I’ve seen.

William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor

If you’re looking for scares and dimly lit eerie houses, this isn’t the film for you. If you’re looking for gore, stressful and unnerving sounds and unexpected camera angles, this is the film for you. It is entirely psychological.

The film follows a girl called Dani who tags along with her boyfriend Christian and his friends to a Midsommar festival after experiencing a family tragedy. The festival is in Sweden, occurs once every 90 years and is full of rituals and traditions- fascinating for the group of anthropologists.

Throughout the film you mostly follow Dani and Christian, leaving you as in the dark as they are with regard to the rituals and celebrations.

Midsommar will likely stay with you. I think there are some images which will never leave my brain. However, after the recommendation I was given I weirdly expected it to be more traumatic than it was. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty which makes the film unsettling. The psychedelic effects of certain scenes, the overexposed lighting and the unnerving sounds combine with horrifying rituals to make a disorientating film. But I had mentally prepared myself for worse, so it did not shock me the way it would have done had I gone in unprepared.

What did you guys think of Midsommar?

Ps. This might not be one to watch with your parents

Categories
Films

The History Boys – Review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Now this was a strange one. The film follows a group of boys who return to school in order to apply to Oxford and Cambridge after excelling in their A-levels. This very British comedy, by Alan Bennett, is bought to life by a colourful spattering of literary references.

The cast is wonderful; a who’s who of British actors and actresses, many of whom reappear as Smithy’s friends, alongside Smithy, in Gavin and Stacey.

Part of me loved this film. It’s fun, playful and as a current Oxbridge student myself it’s an opportunity to reminisce about the application process and refall in love with the cities when the students visit. 

However, there is a rather uncomfortable subplot which meant that the film, whilst being funny, was not one that I could relax into. Therefore, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed parts of it, the rest was not my cup of tea. 

Despite this, the film is intelligent and undoubtedly a masterpiece of sorts. Therefore, whilst I will not be rewatching this immediately, it’s a film unlike any other and I do recommend it to anyone who is interested.

Have you seen this film, and if so what did you think?

Emma xx

Categories
Films

Good bye Lenin!- Review

Review:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In order to continue my film education (and in light of my sister’s German degree) I decided to explore a new genre by watching Good bye Lenin! This is a German film following a boy called Alex in 1989 East Berlin. His Mother has a heart attack and ends up in a coma, during which the Berlin Wall falls and West and East Germany reunify. However, Alex is told that his Mother will not survive any extra shocks, so when she comes home he decides to pretend that nothing has changed to protect his Mother. 

This film offers both brilliant comedy and historical significance. The sense of nostalgia created is gripping; I could not help feeling slight wistfulness on behalf of Alex, despite my lifetime and that of East Germany having never overlapped.

Small things, such as the impossible task of trying to find East German products in a newly capitalist country, reveal how monumental the changes to people’s lives  were during this time. 

As the web of lies is spun, there is a great deal of subtle humour, making it a brilliant watch. It also feels different to a classic Hollywood film, adding a sense of intrigue. 

Further, the film score is based largely on famous piano pieces to maximise the sense of nostalgia, and wonderful moments such as the film editing whenever Alex and his college pull into a car park produce a highly stylised film.

You can watch the German version with subtitles or the dubbed version, however I highly recommend the German version.

Have you ever seen this film? If so, what did you think? 

And as always please share with anyone who loves movies or who you think should give themselves a film education!  

Emma x

Categories
Films

Instant Family- Review

Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A year or so ago I saw an amusing trailer for this film at the cinema and then instantly forgot about it. However, my Dad found it on TV so we decided to settle in; and I was pleasantly surprised!

The film follows a couple who decide that they would like children, but will be old when their children grow up if they become pregnant now. So, they decide to take a course to become foster parents. They end up fostering a teenager, Lizzie, and she comes with her two siblings who are much younger; accident prone Juan and sassy Lita. They also regularly visit a foster parent support group.

 With the potential to be incredibly corny, the film achieves a degree of corniness whilst also creating a sense of realism. The producer himself fostered and adopted three siblings, and lots of the conversations between Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne are based on actual conversations about the process of fostering which helps to ground the film well. 

The film feels honest, and whilst it maintains a mostly positive note throughout it is not scared to explore some of the darker and scarier areas in the process of fostering. The comedy is gentle; the film makes you smile but also feel for all of the characters. And, unlike many modern day films, there is comedy aside from that shown in the trailer.

From knowing people who have gone through the care system, I can see that this film leads to a happier outcome than many care cases. However, the film highlights the need for more foster parents and the difficulties which many children, especially teenagers, face in the foster system, a topic which is often ignored.

Overall this film is lovely to watch and feels realistic, mostly because it is indeed based on true events. A genuinely funny, if slightly cheesy,  feel good film.

Let me know what you thought of it!

Until next time,

Emma x

Categories
Films

Contagion-short review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I went back and forth when deciding if I should watch this film. I tend to view movies as a distraction, and yet parts of this film felt like a documentary on current life, except my life features Joe the neighbour, Lisa at the pharmacy and my cat instead of Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law. 

The film follows the spread of a virus around the world and the implications of this, focusing on the US. Given the current climate, many aspects which would usually be entirely new to most, such as R0, make perfect sense. The plot parallels reality less and less as it progresses, so of course there is still an element of surprise.

Watching this whilst almost living it reduces the shock factor of the film yet drives home how truly bizarre this current situation is.

There are some interesting questions posed, such as ‘how should vaccines be spread once they’re produced?’ The idea of it being drawn randomly by birthday, mirroring drafting for Vietnam but providing a desired instead of dreaded outcome, is an interesting concept.

Overall the film is well made, surprisingly accurate and fascinating to watch at the moment, but I don’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid it completely. It certainly isn’t a relaxing escape. However, it does present a unique opportunity to watch a film predicting the life you’re currently living.

I leave it entirely up to you to decide if you want to watch this one. 

As always, let me know your thoughts!

Until next time,

Emma x