The Great Gatsby (5 Stars)

A story ahead of it’s time and one that had been relatively shadowed upon it’s release. The 1920s are seen as a decadent and wondrous time filled with opportunity and promise: The American Dream. Who better to protray the endless hope of achieving the American Dream than the mesmerising Leonardo Dicaprio. He is spell-boundingly brilliant as the man who literally would move heaven and earth to be with the love of his life. He captures innocence, love, ambitious, endless optimism seemingly effortlessly. He is truly a joy to watch.

Fitzgerald’s brilliant story comes to life so beautifully. The decadence and the beauty of the American Dream, and in reality the fact that beneath the luxury and the gilded façade lies the smearing of darkness and dirt.

Stalingrad (5 Stars)


If I was perhaps a bit annoyed about Before the Fall for its atypical portrayal of students, Stalingrad was an excellent choice to counteract that.

Stalingrad is a portrayal of one army division as they are transferred from Italy to the Eastern Front. In the first world war, the Eastern Front had been rather successful for the German army. Although they had initial assessed that the Russian Empire would fall within six weeks of attack, it actually took 3 years, the German army was able to knock out the Empire and end the Russian involvement in the war by 1917.

The second time, Germany attacked the now Soviet Union initially went very well. Causalities were three times higher for the Soviets than they were for the Germans. But with the onset of Winter, the tables started to turn for the Germans and by the time the Battle of Stalingrad had ended, Germany had been dealt it’s first major military defeat.

This film tells a very realistic story of what it was like to be a German soldier during that catestrophic loss. I don’t really want to speak much about the film because I don’t want to form any opinions that could influence someone watching it.

The only thing I do want to say is put it on your must seen movies list. If you don’t have a list. Make one.

My only gripe is not so much the film but the dubbing. I use to always watch films dubbed and I use to prefer it. Now I have been learning German I have started to watch a lot more German films, the majority of which are not dubbed. I also watch documentaries and primary footage that is usually subtitled but rather dubbed. All I can say now is I HATE watching dubbed movies. I much prefer reading them.

Ida (5 Stars)


Poland 1962, Anna is a young Catholic orphan about to enter her vows to become a Nun with the convert who has looked after her since she was a small child. However, before she takes her vows Anna’s Mother Superior forces Anna to meet her Aunt, Wanda, Anna’s only surviving relative. In a first strained meeting Anna is shocked to learn that she was not born a Catholic, but was born Jewish and her real name Ida Lebenstein. Ida/Anna and her Aunt return to Ida’s parents village to discover what happened to them during the Second World War.

This film has not really got much of an international acclaim to it, mostly because the film is Polish. I think it’s a pity that some great films filmed in non-English get so little attention in Hollywood on the international spotlight because they are not in English.

It’s shot completely in black and white in gives it a now very uncommon and old-fashioned screen ratio of 4:3. This set up in a way helps to make the film feel more like a fly on the wall documentary about a real Ida actually in search of her family’s history during the Holocaust. It is also interesting that the Holocaust is never once mentioned throughout this film but is built into the whole fabric of the film. Everyone where is empty, everyone is living a life half lived, everyone is coming through the motions but the whole atmosphere is thick, heavy and dense with loss.

My only gripe with this film is the subtitles. The film tends to shoot scenes lower down, with a lot of shoulder and head shots and a lot of scenery space filling the top half of the screen – a real 1960s vibe – however as I do not speak Polish, I need the subtitles. Sadly these subtitle are kept at the bottom, when really they should have been moved to the top to allow the actors to be more visible. I wish this attention to detail had been continued to the same degree as the director’s rigour for the rest of the film.

It truely is a work of art and very much deserved it’s Oscar and Bafta awards. It’s just a shame it doesn’t get as much attention and acclaim as it rightly should.

The Big Short (5 Stars)


This film is portrayed as a comedy. In a way it is also a refashioning of the age old story of the underdog David rising up and beating the giant Goliath. Only there isn’t just one David and there isn’t just one Goliath.

The Big Short tells the story of how four groups of people see a housing bauble forming within the really stable housing/morgage market in America. Using slap stick humour and funny little scene drops of people to explain complicated banking the myserty of the housing market is explained and it seems all but obvious that financial meltdown is all but imminent. These bankers don’t cry out that the system is going to break, protect citizens, they bet against it. To make themselves money.

We know the outcome of the story already because people have lived and experienced it. People sold morgages they cannot pay default on their mortgage. The whole system collapses and the banks go into financial meltdown, but the banks have been proping up the housing market with fraud. Buying for ratings that do not reflect the real risk of the venture and funding cut backs and stupid laws prevent banks from being checked. Fraud goes unchecked and unpoliced.

The four groups who predicted it get their financial payout, but it’s not a happy ending. Yes they are rich, but what about everybody else. The homeowners who wanted their slice of the American dream and the workers who were not culpable for the financial crisis. They are left without jobs and without homes. There was some shocking realisations in this film.

I think the film is brilliant for its clever and witty portrayal of the financial crisis and helps to really explain it to the audience. I hate it though, because the true realisations of the film will leave you scathing with anger. I am so angry right now. I am angry about the financial crisis but even more angry that the Bastards that did it got away scot-free received government bailouts and carrying on doing what they are doing. They worker, the homeowner didn’t just get screwed over once, but bailing out the banks so they could keep on doing what they were doing was kicking a person repeatedly after you’d already knocked them out.

I am sickened.

Room (5 Stars)


Room is a beautiful film about the struggle to come to terms with the kidnap, imprisonment and rape of a Joy Newson (Brei Larson), but the unusual twist is that the film is seen through the eyes of Joy’s five year old child. The film and book the story is taken from is inspired by the story of Felix, the five year old child of Elizabeth Fritzl; the woman who was kidnapped and imprisoned by her father for over 24 years.

I say the film is beautiful, because it shows the bond between a mother and a child and how when at her darkest point, isolated and alone, a woman is given a child who helps her deal with her horrible situation and ultimately helps her to escape from her captivity. This film feels very much like a fly on the wall documentary and gives a very realistic insight into the struggle to adjust to life after such a horrific ordeal.

I thought Brie Larson was fantastic and really encapusulated her role well, but the absolute star of this film is Jacob Tremblay. At only 9, his acting is superb and I couldn’t fault it. I usually am highly critical of child actors – I know they are young and acting is a difficult master, even for much older adults. Often I find films that have children in to be spoilt by the inability to believe the child. Jacob, however, was wonderful to watch and I think he has a real talent already. It’ll be interesting to see him grow over the next 10 or so years.


The Danish Girl (5 Stars)


I was a little worried about this film, it looked good from the trailer but I’d seen the trailer so often that I was beginning to get bored of it. I thought I would be equally bored of the film, I’d feared I’d sit there for two hours and I’d be bored because I would have felt like I’d seen the film already.

Happily I have to say that this film was truly breathtaking. I couldn’t fault anything. Eddie Redmayne as Lili was truly breathtakingly exquisite. He takes on the heartbreakingly cruel situation of a woman born into the wrong body and portrays the horrific sad situation this can be. This is a film that transcends the period it was set in (the 1920s) and could equally be a modern telling of any transgender individual who is sadly born into their wrong body.

It is truly heartbreaking to watch as you see the parasite of Lili grow in Einar’s body; only to truly realise that Lili is not the parasite at all. Einar is and has always been the parasite sucking the life out and trying to destroy Lili. Lili is dying and only Einar’s wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander) can see it. Doctors believe that Lili is not real and try to treat Einar so he can go back to his life and have a child with his wife.

You feel for everyone, Einar, Lili and Gerda. In the end there is the opportunity for a happy ending but Lili and Einar cannot life together and only through the death of Einar can a happy ending occur.

I truly encourage everyone to see this. It is the best performance Eddie Redmayne has ever given and I struggle to see how he’d be able to top it in the future.

And Then There Were None (5 Stars)

The BBC adaptation of the Best-selling crime novel of all time. Set in the 1930’s, Vera Claythorne (Maeve Dermody) is hired as a Secretary for a mysterious U.N. Owen for his home on Soldier Island. Once there she is surprised to discover that she is not the only one arriving at the home. There are 10 in total, just like the number of soldiers in a poem that appears in every room of the house. There is no sign of the mysterious U.N. Owen but after dinner on the first night a mysterious recording announces that they all stand accused of murder. 10 murderers appear in a mysterious house without a guest. Why were they bought there?

I love the beautiful period dramas and I thought the locational shots were fantastic. The story stays true to the original book, in a way to give true dedication to Agatha Christie, as the production was to mark the author’s 125th Birthday. The acting was supreme, the drama full of suspense and the ending was breath-taking, although slightly altered from the book for the screen. It is certainly worthy of the stop what you are doing and watch immediately, which is my rating for 5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable.


A Muppet’s Christmas Carol (5 Stars)


“‘Tis the season to be jolly and joyous fa la la”…this has to be the ULTIMATE Christmas Movie. Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not a Christmas person at all…in fact, I can’t stand Christmas. I am a Scrooge myself, but if something was to warm my cold heart and give me some Christmas cheer, than this film certainly would! It’s a well known timeless classic of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol…with the infusion of the Muppets and a good dose of fun and catchy carols. Despite this film being 23 years old, it is still fresh and refreshing, not matter how many times you watch it. This is defiantly something I am happy to reach for every Christmas.

Everest (5 Stars)

Everest is a film based on the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. The film focuses around the expeditions of Adventure Consultants, led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Mountain Madness led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhall).

I am not a big fan of horror films, it’s not because they scare me, it’s because they bore me. I always find the plot-lines predictable and when they try to scare people, I predict it and often do not find it that scary. I much prefer films that are more psychologically scary, or give an idea that scares me. To me, Everest is absolutely terrifying. I was scared watching it in the Cinema. The beautiful visual display of the mountain and by seeing it in 3D – it made the mountain really come to life; I felt like I had been transported to the South Submit.

The film begins by telling you that the trek to Everest is not simple achievement and most of the beginning of the film is dedicated to the fact that you are physically dying as you climb Everest. Climbing Everest is not a test of endurance, it’s a test of speed. Can you leave Camp IV and submit Everest before 1pm and can you submit and return before nightfall. If you fail to submit before 1pm. If you fail to return before nightfall your chances to survive exhausted, staved of oxygen, dehydrated, malnourished and increasingly risking exposure and frostbite decrease dramatically.

The film explores the idea of commercialising Everest and sending inexperienced climbers up the mountain and the risks that causes. Commercialisation brings people. When climbing the mountain climbers use certain routes, increased people on certain routes create a bottle neck. Bottle necks cause delays and delays on Mount Everest use Oxygen and can cost lives. Battling all of that you have the weather and when your in a extremely high risk situation with inexperienced climbers, rapid changes in the weather can cost lives.

This film is visually beautiful, it’s intense and the acting is superb. You must go see it. I also recommend watching the Seconds from Disaster documentary which is available on Youtube. It helps to spell out the decisions in the expedition that led to the disaster.

Bad Education (5 Stars)

A review for Film Fan.

OK,  no surprises that my second blog review would come from the same Pedro Almost variety box set. This time it’s Bad Education (2004).

Bad Education explores the story of Ignacio (Gael Garía Bernal), and Enrique Goded (Fele Martínez), two childhood friends who shared a childhood sweetheart romance. Fate rips the two apart until Enrique is reunited with Ignacio, now known as Angel, as he seeks to have one of his stories, The Visit, turned into a film. The film explores Ignacio’s childhood experiences at school and the victimisation and trauma he received during his school through the hands of Father Manolo (Daniel Giménez Cacho).

The film explores childhood victimisation, sexual orientation and the reality with dealing with very traumatic events for the main character, Angel. This is not a nice film, although the suspense and mystery around the film suspend from too much of that darkness coming to the forefront. I liked the format of the film switching between different time frames, and the plot doesn’t really reveal itself until towards the end of the film. There is suspense and mystery – which is sustained well through the film. The script is very good and original. The acting is outstanding.

It’s not until the end of the film, as I sit down to write this that the message is leaves is far darker and upsetting then you initially think whilst watching the film. The film is shot is fairly bright colours and the flow of the film tends to give a more positive, upbeat feel to the film, which I think masks some of the darker elements of the film. Left now to write about the film I am focusing of the ideas of child grooming, paedophilia, child abuse in the Catholic church, struggling with your sexual identity during a time when there was little acceptance and understanding (1980) and exploring drug abuse and how all these effect not just the individual, but the others around you.

This film I find has a good balance to keep the film a float with enough buoyancy to not let you get caught up in the horrific content of the film. It makes the film watchable. This helps bring attention to and gives people an insight and consideration to the struggle some people go through with childhood abuse and sexuality. However, now I am left analysing the reality of such a person, and wondering how very different reality can be from film.