The Boy Next Door (4 Stars)

This film has a relatively low Rotten Tomato score, which is not unsurprising. I was a little apprehensive about watching it because I didn’t think it would be good. I was pleasantly surprised. Some scenes were chillingly creepy and produced some chills and genuine excitement, which made up for the films shortcomings of average performances and predictable and dull in places storyline. Ryan Guzman was a thoroughly convincing certified weird psychopath with superficial easy to fall for charm.

It is easy to see why this film was overlooked and it isn’t particularly a game changing in it’s genre but for a chill out easy to watch film that is somewhat exciting whilst not regarding you to think to much, it’s a good film worthy of any rainy day.

Doubt (4 Stars)

After watching Spotlight and being really impressed by the film, I thought I’d look at other films that explore the Catholic Church. I had wanted to see doubt at the time of it’s release but ended up missing it and never got round to seeing it, until now.

The film centres around predominately three characters played by Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. Despite a relatively small class and a lack of complexity to the film in terms of locations and storyline, this film marvels in it’s simplicity. This simplicity allows you to really focus on the relationships of Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Sister James (Amy Adams) and explores Father Flynn’s relationship with Donald Miller (Joseph Foster). Sister Beauvier seems to take the close nature of the two to be something more than it should be and strives to protect the child. Sister James, at first seeing the good in Father Flynn defends him until her experiences and recollections are altered when discussing them with Sister Beavier.

The extended metaphor of doubt, it sustained throughout the film so there is no clear resolution to the film, which begs the question, what was the relationship between Father Flynn and Donald Miller and was Sister Beauvier right in her suspicions and right to act the way she did.

The film reminds me alot of the song ‘A Thousand Trees’ by the Stereophonics…it only takes one tree to make a thousand matches, it only takes one match to burn a thousand trees.

I can’t help but really feel for sorry for Father Flynn, because I presume it to be innocent until proven guilty and so to tarnish someone’s reputation with only suspicions.


The Revenant (4 Stars)

Finally, Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar for best performing actor – and it was very well deserved. I also love watching Leonardo DiCaprio acting, he is wonderful and each character he creates just seems so well created, complex and real. I’ve been wanting to see this film for a long time, because DiCaprio is one of my favourite actors, so I was getting a bit worried I’ll miss it in the cinema due to me being busy and cinema screen times. However, because he won the Oscar, the cinema gave it a bit of a revival so I was able to catch it.

This is not my favourite DiCaprio film, although it was a challenging and a great role and I thought he played it well…I thought that at two and a half hours the film seemed overly long and quite slow. Whilst I can forgive the film for being slow because it is about one man’s rather long and dangerous journal through wilderness America whilst seriously injured. I just thought that perhaps it would have been 20-30 minutes shorter. I thought the pairing of Tom Hardy and DiCaprio worked well…although for some reason Tom Hardy’s accent annoyed me in this film, so I didn’t enjoy his performance as well as I thought I would. Given the length and Tom Hardy, I knocked a star off.

The cinematography in this film was breathtakingly beautiful and some of the amazing film sequences were really nice, it was a beauty to watch. I really would recommend watching this movie. I think I’ll catch it again when it’s out on DVD, maybe I’ll warm to it a little more and rate it higher next time.

Before the Fall (4 Stars)


1942, Friedrich Weimar (Max Riemelt) an ordinary nobody and son of a factory worker boxes impresses a teacher for a National Political Academy (NaPolA); an elite Hitler boarding School where graduation ensures a successful future in the Third Reich and no doubt a glittering career. and gets an interview. A dream come true for Friedrich.

This is a coming of age story during the Third Reich. The ‘correct’ way to come of age would be to succeed within the school and become a machine-soldier, perfect for the Fatherland, obey, follow and fight.

Three boys stand out. Siegfried (Martin Goeres) from the start is seen as unworthy of being an elite member of society. Albrecht (Tom Shilling) is the son of an elite member, sent to a prestige school to follow in his father’s footsteps, and given a easy-ride through the school. Friedrich, the perhaps the most roughest rock to be beaten and shaped into a Nazi elite diamond.

This is a great film, that makes you believe that resistance and defiance was rampant through the ranks, that not everyone was brainwashed and willingly followed extreme propaganda designed to make those seen as non-Aryan as criminals and filth not worth living. This film tells a story that is untypical story. In a similar way to Schindler’s List tells an untypical story. It’s a great story, a boy faced with a decision stands up and rebels – but it is not the real story. The real story is the story of the other boys, as the other caption puts it. The some 15,000 boys who successfully past through the school full of the ideology of hate and went to spread the message of hate. This film is great for showing that the system didn’t always work, but it did work, really well.

Deadpool (4 Stars)


Now this is a film that doesn’t take itself seriously. I find it very reminiscent of Scream and it is almost of is Marvel are mocking their traditional Superhero film franchise with this film and it works. Ryan Reynolds, an unlikely role, at least I think so given I usually associate him with the Proposal, one of the view Chic Flicks I have seen. It’s great that he can adapt and change out of a genre.

The generally script of this film is formulaic in terms of a traditional Superhero storyline, yet it is made refreshingly different with Ryan Reynolds personification of a witty script and writer’s ability to have some fun with this film. I particularly like the sustained references to this being a superhero movie and Reynold’s charm as the rather loveable Anti-hero Hero. This film is more closely linked to the Happy upbeat Vibe of Guardians of the Galaxy and a welcome departure from the more tedious and getting old Iron Man 3 saga of the Franchise.

I actually really look forward to seeing a sequel of this Superhero.

Far From the Madding Crowd (4 Stars)


A great cast of talented actors appear in this breathtaking film. I loved it. I was not familiar with the actual storyline, so for once I was excited to watch a film and not know the outcome of it. I enjoyed going through the highs and the lows, the hoping and wishing for Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan) to pick the right one of her three suitors (Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge) and her despair when she didn’t.

Each portrayal of the characters was brilliant – particularly the horrible Sergeant Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), who you hate, but also feel incredibly sorry for – Sturridge manges to place his character perfectly between the realm of just enough to hate him but not too much that you cannot pity his tragic circumstance. I am really beginning to rate Matthias Schoenaerts as an actor, 2015 was a very good year for him, with three great films under his belt. I look forward to seeing his future work, he is a pleasure to watch.

Sisters (4 Stars)


Maura Ellis (Amy Poehler) recieves some very upsetting news that her parents are thinking about selling their house and would like Maura and her sister Kate (Tiny Fey) to clean out their old room. Only knowing Kate will not take it well, have not told her. Little does Maura know and much to her own shock – the house is already sold. So what are two sisters to do knowing their beloved chilhood home is going to go forever? Go back to their routes and throw the last Ellis party, of course!

I was put off seeing this for a long time, because it didn’t look like it would interest me. Sure the advert looked good and made me laugh, but I thought all the funny parts had been shown already and I didn’t feel like I had to see the full movie to gain anything from it. I’m not a big comedy fan. I find some of them are quite over the top and end up being a bit cringy – and I don’t like cringy.

However, I thought this one struck a really good balance. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were amazing together and they really bounced off each other artisticly and made it work – there was such a chemistry between them. They were funny and the storyline was great with the right amount of over the top crazy and good laughter. There was the occasional lull in the comedy as elements of the story script played out, but unlike say Daddy’s Home, another film I watched recently; it isn’t boring or subdued as you wait for the next funny part. Really enjoyed it! Would recommend you try and get yourself to the cinema to see it – although as I was at one of the last showing you may have to wait for the DVD!

Into the Woods (4 Stars)


The Brothers Grimm classics get a modern and unusual retelling in this film. The stories of Little Red Riding Hunt, Cinderella and Jack and the Bean Stalk are re-told…or should I say sung through this film?

I must admit I am not a fan of the musicals and although interested in seeing this film at the cinema put it off in favour of other things and sadly ran out of time to see it. I wished I had seen it now. The performances of Emily Blunt, James Corden, Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick were brilliant and the witty and complex lyrics made this film superb. The thing I particularly liked most about this film though, was the returning to the original Gebruder Grimm. In this film, some of the more gory elements of the books are seen here and highlights the fact that not every story has a happy ending and not everyone gets to live happily ever after. Although I didn’t like his singing I thought Chris Pine was perfect as Prince Charming, and as he says in the film, he is charming…doesn’t mean he is sincere – which is always want I thought of Prince Charming. He just seemed too perfect to not have a flaw, it’s great that he has them in this film!

Bridge of Spies (4 Stars)

Bridge of Spies has that very formulaic Cold War spy movie feel to it, which I particularly liked about it. Tom Hawkes takes the lead splendidly and is thoroughly enjoyable to watch. A better disappointment is that you do not get to see more of Mark Rylance who was equally fantastic. Another interesting part of this film is the use of German, which is present within the film without subtitles…this impressed me because it was a testament to how good my German is getting, because I understood it all without the need for subtitles. However, given that not everyone is fluent with German I liked the feel of isolation and intimidation being posed to James Donovan.

I heard that the idea for the film came about as a result of the screen writers reading about it in a footnote of a book and wanting to know more about the story behind James Donovan…which I think is great, because quite often I read something and go off on tangents and find out about different topics that way. It’s nice that screen writers do that as well and find original stories and bring them to the cinema so other people can find out the amazing true stories that are often overlooked in the bigger narrative.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2 (4 Stars)

Thankfully, this film saw a return to the form of the original film and it was brilliant.

For me the ideas of concepts within the original film were quite powerful. Being in Holocaust studies I was particularly impressed with the way the film tackled key ideas and concepts that can help to understand why people can be so barbaric and how totalitarian systems can operate. The second and the third film did not really help carry these messages across. The fourth film however begins to tackle with the idea of Victor’s justice and how society can be shaped by the close of a war and how early implementation of a new society with law and order can help determine the future of that society. Although this film only lightly touched on the idea of a zero hour and in typically Hollywood fashion the happy ending comes with virtually no trouble at all. I have parallels with my current work on exploring the West German government and their decision to give amnesty to Nazi war Criminals in order to help rebuild a defeat and desolated Germany. I can see how ideas and thinking from that period have played out in this film and I am particularly impressed how the film, based on teenager books can help to spread meaningful situations,  reactions and discussions. Although it is probably just me over analysing it and others way just watch and appreciate the film at more face value. Nevertheless it is a good film.