As snuggling up on the sofa and watching films takes up quite a few of our evenings, we thought we’d introduce a new feature to the blog.
So without further ado (in no particular order)…
1) The Way Way Back (2013)
103 MIN | COMEDY / DRAMA
Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.
Q: I absolutely adored this film. It’s definitely one of the funniest, heartwarming and endearing coming-of-age films I’ve seen in a long time!
R: A decent coming-of-age film with a good balance of likeable and unlikeable characters. It’s a straightforward narrative that leaves you feeling fulfilled at the end.
2) Blue Jasmine (2013)
98 MIN | DRAMA
A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn’t bringing money, peace, or love.
Q: If I’m being honest, I’m not a massive fan of Woody Allen’s films as I generally find them quite pretentious and the characters are either unlikeable or unrelatable. However I did enjoy ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ and ‘Midnight in Paris.’ To my surprise, I really liked ‘Blue Jasmine’ – Cate Blanchett was absolutely brilliant as a manic and delusional woman attempting to rebuild the extravagant life that she received, but never deserved.
R: A great performance from Cate Blanchett. It was predictably bleak from beginning to end and with scattered humour to keep the film from being too serious.
3) Rocknrolla (2008)
114 MIN | ACTION / CRIME / THRILLER
In London, a real-estate scam puts millions of pounds up for grabs, attracting some of the city’s scrappiest tough guys and its more established underworld types, all of whom are looking to get rich quick. While the city’s seasoned criminals vie for the cash, an unexpected player, a drugged out rock ‘n’ roller presumed to be dead but very much alive, has a multi-million dollar prize fall into his hands.
Q: This film has been on my ever growing ‘To Watch’ list for far too long and I’m so glad I finally got round to watching it! Loved the cinematography, dark humour and it kept me entertained throughout.
R: Having seen this a long time ago, my experience the second time around didn’t change. An excellent British, black comedy and London gangster mash-up. If you enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s ‘Snatch’ or ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,’ this holds up well.
4) Nightcrawler (2014)
117 MIN | CRIME / DRAMA / THRILLER
When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.
Q: Jake Gyllenhaal is superb and captivating as Louis, a man who is determined to do whatever it takes to get to the top. It’s a great film full of black comedy, intense action and artful cinematography.
R: An excellent film with possibly the best anti-hero I’ve ever seen. An terrifyingly realistic parody of the media industry. Be prepared to feel tense throughout.
5) Fury (2014)
134 MIN | ACTION / DRAMA / WAR
April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened Army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
Q: Although I would’ve preferred a little more character development through flashbacks to their previous lives, I appreciated that it was a good war film.
R: At first glance, its just another WW2 film riding Saving Private Ryan’s coattails of WW2 brotherhood. This film comes into its own with a bunch of likeable misfits. They are all anti-heroes in an action movie.
6) From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
91 MIN | ANIMATION / DRAMA / FAMILY
A group of Yokohama teens look to save their school’s clubhouse from the wrecking ball in preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Q: Although not groundbreaking or fantastical, this Ghibli film is full of heart and soul. It is a charming and lively story full of sadness and optimism in their signature hand-drawn animation style.
R: This is a beautiful looking film, as standard from Ghibli. It’s a creative world filled with a lot of fun, but fleeting characters. The narrative will leave you feeling uncomfortable, hopeful, uncomfortable and then comfortable again.
7) The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)
137 MIN | ANIMATION / DRAMA / FANTASY
Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her – but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.
Q: Another beautiful creation by the masters of animation, Studio Ghibli. This folk tale is told through stunning watercolour and ink-wash artwork that differs from their usual style. Furthermore the heroine is full of life and humour in a fable that is both uplifting and melancholy.
R: Ghibli takes another source material and turns it into something amazing. Compared to other Ghiblis, the sets aren’t as extravagant but everything is still there, from loveable characters to a touching story.
8) The Wind Rises (2013)
126 MIN | ANIMATION / DRAMA /BIOGRAPHY
A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II.
Q: I read a review that called this film “something of a self-portrait in its depiction of a work-driven dreamer whose imagination soars above the rest.” Billed as Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
R: While a controversial film, it presents Miyazaki’s greatest love (flying machines) and hate (war) in a more traditional piece of Ghibli. With beautiful set design, as expected, it has also incorporated a fantastically creative sound design to match. While the characters drive a touching narrative, this world feels truly alive with the voiced environment e.g. earthquakes and planes.
February Film Count: 16
IF YOU ONLY WATCH ONE OF THESE MOVIES IT SHOULD BE:
Q: The Way Way Back (very closely followed by Nightcrawler)
We hope you’ve enjoyed our film reviews!
Let us know what you think if you’ve seen any of these and it’d be great if you could leave us some recommendations in the comments section too, as we’re always adding to our ‘To Watch’ lists 😀