8th October 2016 | BFI London Film Festival 2016
J.A Bayona is a Director known for making films that fit somewhere on the verge of fantasy and horror, such as The Orphange. In A Monster Calls, Bayona produces a stellar film exploring loss and heartbreak – but, like many of his others, it doesn’t quite know its audience.
Based on the book of the same name, A Monster Calls follows Connor O’Malley (outstandingly played by newcomer Lewis MacDougall), a young boy who’s mother (Felicity Jones) is dying of cancer. In the middle of the night, at 12.07 to be precise, every night Connor is approached by a ‘monster’ (voiced by Liam Neeson) who tells him stories to which he is meant to learn lessons.
The ‘monster’ haunts Connor and seems to be an evil creature until you realise that he was there to teach Connor how to tell the truth and let go of his Mum.
Its heart breaking, and highly metaphorical – whether the ‘monster’ exists or not is relatively inconclusive, but that doesn’t seem to matter. At the heart of it, this is a film about love and loss and the toll that can have on a young child.
From a simple synopsis, it would seem to appeal as a children’s film, but it’s too heart wrenching and, at times, emotionally scarring. During key scenes, most of the cinema was in tears – and this was a cinema full of movie journalists!
The fact that the cinema was silent after the film shows how well Bayona is able to make his characters relate – and there are stellar performances from all the cast, especially MacDougall and Sigourney Weaver.
A Monster Calls is one of the most imaginative and well-thought through fantasy films in a while, and it is the perfect book…
9th September 2016 | Films
If you’ll pardon the pun, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldburg are here to test the boundaries of taste with their long awaited animated look at food in Sausage Party. But if you go into this thinking, like a middle-aged mother taking their ten year old to see Deadpool, that because it is in a child’s format that it will be tame and appropriate, you are gravely mistaken.
Welcome to Shopwells, an American supermarket, where foods and other grocery items see the human shoppers as ‘Gods’ who will take them to the ‘Great Beyond’, where they are allowed to do whatever they want, which is largely, much like the ‘gods’ they deify, to shag constantly. The movie largely focuses on the case of a sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen) and his bun girlfriend, Brenda (Kristin Wig), as they plan for their time together in the great beyond, certain that they will be picked together. When it seems like they will be picked together, a returned Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) warns them that the great beyond is a lie before jumping to his death. In an attempt to save him, Frank and Brenda, along with various other items are thrown from the cart, ruining their chance at happiness. Honey Mustard’s words stick with Frank, and he goes on a journey of discovery, trying to find the horrible truth about the so-called ‘Great Beyond’.
This is a brilliant and original idea for a movie. It is an idea that could only come from the comic geniuses behind such twisted endeavors as This Is The End, Pineapple Express and Superbad, all of which Rogen wrote and produced with Goldburg.
The duo know how to write this kind of comedy with as little taste as possible, but including extremely clever…
9th September 2016 | Films
With all the subtlety of a shotgun blast to face, Ben-Hur is here to wobble around the screen and finally fall flat on its face. With the 1959 original hailed as one of Hollywood’s best in terms of pure entertainment, this is one in a series of Hollywood remakes that shouldn’t have been made.
We are greeted at the beginning of the movie by the smooth familiar voiceover of Morgan Freeman, as he tells of the two brothers who make the main conflict of the movie. There is Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), prince of Jerusalem and his adopted Roman brother Messala (Toby Kebball), the best-est buds in the whole wide world, until Messala has some kind of existential crisis and walks off to join the Roman army, leaving Judah to marry the girl of his dreams, Ester (Nazanin Boniadi). Three years later, Messala returns, now a decorated officer, and assists with the Roman occupation of Jerusalem. When there is an assassination attempt made against the new Roman Governor Pontius Pilate by an anti-Roman youth who Judah had been sheltering in his home, Messala is then bullied into punishing Judah and the family, who the Romans believe to be responsible. Five years later, serving on a galley ship as a rower, Judah escapes and returns to Jerusalem with some new friends, including Sheik Ilderim (Morgan Freeman) who convinces him that the only way to truly have his revenge is to beat Messala at a chariot race, an event in which Messala is supposed to be the best in the world.
If that was a long story summary to read, I promise you it is a longer story to watch, and that is only about half of the story. That is my first problem with this movie; it…