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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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?
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!
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.
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.
Now, off the bat I know what you’re thinking here. A blog about TV and films and her first post is about a theatre production? What’s all this about? However, hear me out:
Firstly, this is the National Theatre Live version which was recorded and streamed to cinemas across the UK.
Secondly, the current timing is especially pertinent because this version is available on YouTube until the end of this week only! Therefore, now seems a better time than ever to discuss this with you all before the opportunity to watch escapes you.
The play stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller with the pair alternating between playing Frankenstein and the monster each performance. Both are equally brilliant and unique in their own right, as is the play overall. Most importantly, both versions are currently available to watch for free on YouTube, and if you are going to watch any of the national theatre at home free productions, this is the one to see.
Aside from knowing that there was a scientist named Frankenstein who made a monster, and watching an episode of Drunk History about Mary Shelly, I was entirely ignorant to Shelly’s story of Frankenstein prior to the production. Yet, the play succeeds in fascinating even the most clueless of viewers and captivating them into a story so intense and intelligent that you don’t even realise that there wasn’t an interval until you get to the end.
Benedict Cumberbatch presents a monster that is fragile, delicate. The journey from his animation, which is furiously physical, to the meeting of De Lacey and then onto Geneva is less rushed. The beautiful pauses, and moments of innocence like the first snow, left me wanting to hold the monster and shield him from the world; a vulnerable being being abused. The extraordinary attention to detail here, however, does lead to a pertinent scene, that of William’s body being found, being cut from this version which, whilst being a small scene, is somewhat helpful to see in the plot. In this version, Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein portrays a mad scientist, but is as different in his portrayal to Benedict’s as their monster characterisations are. I felt much more empathy towards Jonny Lee Miller’s portrayal of Frankenstein. He shows a man who is overwhelmed by what he created, lets it shadow his life and then is trapped in his fascination and loyalty for science. Overall, this version is more chaotic, helped by the less stereotypical casting of the two actors.
It was so captivating; I decided to go back for more.
In the second version, Jonny Lee Miller’s monster becoming animated is focused less on the physical development of the monster and more on its ability to vocalise and form sounds. Overall, this version of the monster struck me as angrier and less endearing in the beginning, but this emphasises the childlike and vulnerable nature of the monster later on. Benedict’s Frankenstein is more sociopathic, almost ignorant to the feelings of those around him, obsessed with his brilliance, inspiring less sympathy. However, this presents the opportunity for real themes from the book to stand out, especially the parallels between Frankenstein and his monstrous creation, and Frankenstein’s father and the view he has of his son, an aspect I missed in the first viewing.
Overall, I prefer Benedict’s monster and Johnny’s Frankenstein when taking into account their individual scenes. However, the chemistry between Benedict’s Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller’s monster is mesmerising. The shift from the monster’s anger, caused by terror, to an innocent child-like being who that just wants to make his creator proud and not be alone is so starkly exposed leading to a greater sense of vulnerability in Jonny’s creature. The debates between the characters, their reasoning, and the illustration of the complex feelings the pair have towards one another reveals how the existence of one defines the existence of the other. Without the monster, Frankenstein is nothing, has achieved nothing. Without Frankenstein, the creature would not exist.
And so, in both portrayals I found myself feeling sorry for the monster, who learnt how to be human from observing humanity, and simply replicated the anger and cruelty he observed in the surrounding world to try to fit in; a fitting indictment of the world. In the plot the characters that show kindness are so few and far between that they stand out vividly.
And the play offers up important questions. Is it ok to play with life? What do we owe to life we have created? How do we determine who/ what deserves rights and happiness? How far should the advancement of science be allowed to go- to what extent is scientific achievement worth risking lives?
Overall, I can’t recommend this highly enough. The staging is stunning throughout with a real focus on lighting. Both versions shine in their own rights, however if you can only watch one I recommend the version with Jonny Lee Miller as the creature as the overall production is stronger.