Film

Oscars Countdown #7 ‘Lady Bird’

From one coming of age story to another Lady Bird is a wonderful portrayal of a 17 year old girl as she takes on her senior year of school and all the chaotic heartbreak that that involves.

Saoirse Ronan is fantastic as she acts out as only a teenager can do, arguing with her just about every member of her family, complaining about putting her clothes away and how her eggs are cooked, getting drunk and of course rebelling by renaming herself Lady Bird, she is a typical teenage brat. But the character is just so loveable as we watch her muddle through life and work out her frustrations. So many of us will recognise our teenage selves in this story.

Tens of dozens of teenage coming of age films come out every year but there are so few like this. All the big milestones moments are there losing your virginity, falling out with your best friend, passing your driving test, going to prom and graduating high school. In short all the elements of any American teen movie are here but they’re handled so wonderfully and simply, we don’t dwell on or have a grand build up to these moments rather it is, as it so often is in life, all the little moments in between, the small moments that carry the importance that shape Lady Bird. This isn’t slick or glitzy, in fact it’s full of the fashion of the early noughties and we all know that’s not glamorous, but it is real and it is raw and by god is it funny.

At the heart of the story is the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, played by the awesome Laurie Metcalf. The way in which the two slip so seamlessly from talking to bickering to confiding in each other is exactly how families are, they argue, they fall out but they love each other fiercely. Who hasnt argues with their mother at one time or another?

Greta Gerwig wrote and directed the film and she is a genius. Partially based on her teenage years spent in Sacramento, California it is so genuine and true and honest, there is not one perfect character here each is flawed and real and human. Rightfully nominated for Best Director Gerwig is a genius, and she is now officially my idol.

This is a wonderfully funny and heart warming film that truly captures what it is like to be a teenager and what it is like to grow up. And Saoirse Ronan I love you!Can we please be best friends?

Film

Oscars Countdown #8 ‘Call Me By Your Name’

I am obsessed with Call Me By Your Name. It is so enticing, that all I want to do now is spend my summer at a beautiful Italian villa eating fresh fruit, having long lunches full of wine and cigarettes and spend my days swimming and reading in the sunshine. This film is a gorgeous treat for the eyes and the soul.

It is a romantic film. Here we have 17 year old Elio, played so incredibly by Timothee Chalamet, experiencing the most heart breaking and exciting of all romances, a summer romance. Elio falls in love with his father’s intern Oliver, slightly older than him, and played so attractively by Armie Hammer, you can see how Elio is drawn to him he is charming, intelligent and does everything with great passion and enthusiasm.

There are no cheesy love scenes, no passionate declarations of love, this is a slow burning film and we watch as Elio gradually falls for Oliver and slowly makes sense of his feelings. Eventually the two men give in to their desires and they come together with such a passion, we see the electricity crackle between them in every exchange, every touch. This is not a light youthful romance but a deep and passionate one that will shape Elio and Oliver for the rest of their lives.

Although it is a film where two men fall in love the only obstacle they have to face is the battle within themselves, they have no disapproving parents to overcome, no judging community. Eventually their relationship ends because the summer ends, not because they’re gay, but because that is what happens in a summer romance when you are 17 years old, inevitable heartbreak.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ truly shows us the power and enduring effect of first love. The most poignant moment of the film is the raw and emotional speech Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) gives him after Oliver leaves, where he tells Elio to never take love for granted, to not give up on it despite the pain. It is speech that will resonate with anyone who has loved and lost, to anyone who has suffered. It is a beautiful and lasting message to never close yourself off, because “to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.”

This is a story of young love, set against a beautiful backdrop, it is utterly spellbinding and I will watch this again and again and soak up every wonderful second of it.

Film

Oscars Countdown #9 ‘The Post’

Very much in the vein of Spotlight, The Post follows the journalists of the Washington Post as they take on the federal government and race to publish the Pentagon Papers, leaked documents that reveal the lies told about the Vietnam War that spanned four presidencies. This true story of people taking on a corrupt presidency is extremely relevant to modern day America.

The fact that all the power falls into the hands of a woman further makes the film so current to todays society, as we watch a woman who never expected to be in this position, who is not taken seriously by the men who surround her, defy all their advice as she makes perhaps the biggest decision of her life, to print or not to print.  It makes for a serious ‘Yes Girl’ moment. Streep, as usual, is all class as Katherine Graham, and there is the most wonderful scene at the end of the movie where she exits the courtroom to a crowd of women all completely entranced by her and what she has achieved. It is a touching and inspirational scene that really packs a relevant punch.

The film also manages to capture a profound sense of nostalgia. It is an homage to the era of the print press. The shots of the newsroom, the journalists leafing through piles of papers as they desperately search to find their story, the calls from payphones to secret sources, the piles of newspapers being delivered to the street vendors and the ending with the impressive scene inside the printing room where we see the papers going to press are all so visually inviting. There’s something so wonderful about this glimpse into a 1970’s newsroom, into a time when we couldn’t get breaking news within seconds when we relied upon the journalists to give us the truth, to give us the stories, to give us the news. I like to think if I’d have been born a few decades earlier I would have would have been one of them!

There are no huge action scenes here, but the film still features such high drama, we watch the story gather pace as the journalists frantically uncover the truth whilst the stakes get raised higher and higher, and by the time the film reached the dramatic crux of the story I was on the edge of my seat in the cinema. The dramatic score, the talent of Hanks and Streep and the clever camera shots all come together to make this an incredibly tense and thrilling journey.

At the end of the day it is a film about the fight for the freedom of speech, people speaking out against the establishment and fighting for the truth to be told and I loved it. I’m surprised that there has not been more of a buzz around this film particularly considering the major players of Hanks, Streep and Spielberg, but I have yet to see all the nominees so I’ll reserve my final judgements for later. For now let me say this is a superb piece of cinema and I thoroughly recommend you give it a watch!

Film

Why I love the Oscars…

Awards season is well and truly upon us, we have had the Golden Globes, the BAFTAS and the Oscars are less than two weeks away, and I love it.

I have had a love affair with movies all my life. A trip to the cinema, a new find on Netflix or a pile of DVDs and a friend or two can make a mundane day extraordinary. I suppose watching a film is like going on a mini adventure. Whilst I’m stuck at home, heading to work every day because I need to save money for my own next adventure (or in the case of the last couple of days suffering severe food poisoning and feeling sorry for myself.) I can watch these films and be transported to another world, another place.

There is something so comforting to be found in movies, you can see yourself, your troubles, your fears, your hopes splashed across the screen and you can see that you are not alone. Yet at the same time they create magic, they inspire you and spark dreams and they bring a world beyond all your imaginings into your own home.

To me I suppose the Oscars is a celebration of all those who create dreams.

I always make it my mission to watch all the films nominated for Best Picture, partly because it’s good fun guessing the outcome and either hurling abuse or cheering when winners are announced but mostly because it has led me to some wonderful discoveries. I don’t always like the films, occasionally I struggle to see how they’re nominated let alone win (Birdman I’m looking at you) but more often than not I fall in love. Take for example Argo, Dallas Buyers Club, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Spotlight, The Artist, The Blind Side and countless others, all films I love, perhaps I would have watched them anyway, perhaps not but I did watch them and my life was better for it.

Even better is when you discover the stories behind the films, I would never have chosen to watch last years nominee Hacksaw Ridge off my own back but the story blew me away, and truthfully I sobbed through most of the film, Desmond Doss will always be a hero to me (and I will always have a crush on Andrew Garfield!)

Through the Oscars I have discovered wonderful, beautiful, inspiring and heart-breaking stories that will stay with me forever.

I will most likely never go to the Oscars, when I was a teenager I dreamed of a day when I would be a famous actress up on the stage accepting award, but as I grew up I realised how completely unrealistic that was. Nevertheless I love it, because on this night you get to watch people’s dreams coming true, see previously untold stories celebrated, unsung heroes being sung and every good (and bad) part of being human on display. Plus you get a little bit of glamorous escapism, which makes me forget I’m sat watching in my pjs shovelling popcorn and chocolate down my throat and have to be at work the next day where I will most likely be too tired to function properly.

So for the next ten days I will be posting my reviews of the nine films up for this years prestigious Best Picture Award, the good, the bad and the god damn beautiful. Let the countdown begin!