Ghostbusters

Bustin’ makes me feel good!

I love Ghostbusters (1984). I even love Ghostbusters 2 (1989). I now say loudly and proudly that I love Ghostbusters (2016). Whether it’s a reboot you wanted and whether it’s a reboot you thought necessary, well, it’s here. And it’s great. Just because it’s rebooted doesn’t mean the original does not exist – it’s still there if you want it – but the new film does a fantastic job of bringing the ghostbusters to the 21st Century and hopefully inspiring younger generations. I’m not going to comment any further on the (needless) controversy surrounding the film, except the villain of the film is a ‘weirdo’ loner millennial male who hides behind technology rather than humanity, who thrives on negativity and rejects modernity – few villains have been so well-timed and apt…

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Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a scientist and lecturer at Columbia university. She’s extremely close to getting tenure there, a job for life, when both that and her academic reputation is put under threat by an old friend re-entering her life. Years earlier she and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) wrote a book on the existence of paranormal phenomenon. Erin walked away from the book and Abby. Abby has put the book back on sale and has continued to work in investigating the paranormal, now working alongside  Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). When Erin goes to Abby to persuade her to take the book off the market she gets swept back into her old line of work when ghosts start to appear all over New York. The trio are soon joined by Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and the four of them make up the Ghostbusters, ‘aided’ by the world’s worst secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth).

I really enjoyed watching this film. Hooked in from the first scene – which featured Zach Woods aka ‘Jared’ from Silicon Valley – I laughed. A lot. The film is centered on feel-good and it’s a watching experience that is really uplifting – spirit raising in more than one way (sorry-not-sorry for the pun!) Deciding to make the film, yet another reboot some of you may cry, probably was an easy decision for the studios. But, considering the aforementioned controversy  (which I will discuss no further, promise) it required director Paul Feig and his cast to be fearless. And they really are!

Watching the film is a truly enjoyable experience for on many layers and for many reasons. Some are saying the film is ‘safe’ or ‘not enough’ – I personally think it’s a step in the right direction. An entry-point update of a classic which can be pushed further with the next in the franchise (which is the same criticism most gave of The Force Awakens no..?) And, arguably, this film does better than TFA at blending the old with the new. The ‘old’ doesn’t detract attention here. It doesn’t distill the zeitgeist with nostalgia. Instead Ghostbusters has nods to the past whilst being fun, funny and full of energy. Much of this is down to the cast, whom there is not a weak link amongst- all are extraordinarily brilliant in their own ways

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. Wiig as Erin is probably the closest I’ve ever seen a cinematic version of myself; a woman driven by logic who totally loses all rationale around her passion (the paranormal) and attractive members of the opposite sex  (Kevin). Her journey kick-starts the film and then drives it to the end as she rediscovers what she truly believes in  and who the people that truly matter to her are. Best line: Books can’t fly and neither can babies!

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Melissa Mccarthy = comedy gold. No matter the film she still manages to sparkle and steal most of the scenes she is in. This film is no exception. Abby is classic Mccarthy character, a joy to watch and laugh with/at. Her timing is immaculate whether that be swapping lines or kicking ghost-ass. Best line: I will kick the the unliving crap out of you and you and especially you! 

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I hadn’t really heard of Leslie Jones prior to her casting in Ghostbusters (sorry Leslie in the unlikelihood you ever read this!) but she’s definitely a comedian I will be checking out. Not only is she a fellow tall lady (we’re both six feet tall) but her facial expressions are hilarious and her delivery of lines is beyond on point. I know there has been a lot of discussion over the fact she is the only non-scientist of the group but her character is very well-presented, she’s just as smart as the others but in a different yet no less important way. Best line: I guess he’s going to Queens – he’s going to be the third scariest thing on that train.

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If I really had to choose my favourite Ghostbuster (and that’s only if, to paraphrase The Princess Bride, death was on the line) I’d have to pick Jillian. Kate McKinnon is a truly magnetic performer, every scene she featured in I found myself drawn into watching her. She brings a crazily wonderful energy to the role and creates a fantastically memorable character. Also, her lip syncing ‘Rhythm of the Night’ by Debarge caused me to have many unexpected feelings… Best line: Just try saying no to these salty parabolas!

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I have to also briefly mention Chris Hemsworth as Kevin. Not only is the man the physical embodiment of human perfection he is also utterly hilarious (is there no justice in the world?!?). Everything he says is funny, and you have to stay during the closing credits for his dance number. Best line: An aquarium is a submarine for fish.

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All in all, I loved Ghostbusters. It may even be one of my most enjoyable film watching experiences of the year so far. It’s a feelgood classic in the making and a whole lotta fun to watch. I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

4 stars

 

Gods of Egypt

If you like so-bad-that-it’s-good then this is for you.

Writing a review of this film seems semi-futile as Mark Kermode did such a a good job with his (click here for his vlog post) but I’m going to  give it a go. Mainly because although I agreed fully with everything Mark says in his review we have one difference, I bloody loved how ridiculous and brainless the film is. It’s the level of awful bomb movie that you don’t see very often, that ends up being hilarious by by taking its failed spectacle far too seriously. I genuinely think this has the potential to be a cult classic – turned into drinking games and quote-alongs, so unbelievable and propestrous that it has to be seen.

In an alternate version of Ancient Egypt the world is flat and ruled by Gods who live amongst humans. They also happen to be twice the size physically of the mere mortals and bleed gold not blood. On the day of the coronation, with Osris (Bryan Brown) abdicating and giving the throne to his son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Osris is killed by his jealous brother Set (Gerard Butler). Set then strips Horus of his eyes, which contain all of his power, but stops himself from killing Horus as his nephew’s lover Hathor (Elodie Yung) offers to be his slave if Horus is spared. Instead Horus is exiled and Set becomes a tyrannical leader of Egypt. Bek (Brenton Thwaites) is a mortal thief who has little belief or faith in the Gods but when his girlfriend is killed, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), Bek makes a deal with Horus. If Bek helps Horus regain his eyesight and therefore power Horus will help bring Zaya back from the dead.

I don’t know where to begin with this one. There are so many things wrong with this film that somehow end up being so right. Literally from the opening credits, the title page, I snort-laughed. Somehow director Alex Proyas has managed to make even the title page pretentious. It then continues from there. We have a voice-over narrator (an often ill-used device resulting in cheesey-ness) who happens to be an older Bek (again the element of foresight in narration ends up being rather cloying) who explains things in a way that somehow manages to be condescending AND stupid. The script as a whole is so stupid that I feel that to be accurate I must refer to it using quotation marks – the ‘script’ and ‘story’ is so kitsch and  pantomimic, full of pointless non-sequiturs that either go nowhere. This is pure B-movie territory with a big blockbuster budget ($140 million budget in case you were wondering).

Where that money went? Well I’m not quite sure. It’s certainly not on the special effects which are dire. Truly and utterly awful. Every scene is a green screen disaster. The decision to make the gods twice the height and size of the humans may have seemed novel during pre-production but in execution ends up being awfully brilliant. My personal favourite (another snort-laugh was emitted at this point) had to be when Horus is in the bath and the human women are helping him. It’s hard to describe, or to truly reflect the brilliance of the moment, but everything about the scene is uncanny-ily dreadful.

It could have been the cast. We’ve got GOT Danish heartthrob Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerald Butler and even Geoffrey Rush – who must have been on set for about a day to film his scenes then scarper off. I feel like I should give Coster-Waldau some credit for his performance, for the most part he tries admirably to deliver the dire dialogue and when he doesn’t he still seems to embrace the dross. Managing to say such lines as ‘I can understand killing for a throne, but this is madness!’, ‘I’m sorry that the corpses of my parents have inconvinced you.’ and ‘It’s lettuce!’ with a straight face and a desperate will to make them effective makes for a truly hilarious experience. His buddy partnership with Thwaites as Bek is memorable only for Coster-Waldau as Bek both as a character and Thwaites portraying him is dreadful. Bek is a total Mary/Gary Sue , utterly perfect at everything he tries to do. Except for speaking dialogue, he’s pretty awful for that. In fact the only things I wrote down in regards to his performance after seeing the film is ‘eyebrows’. There’s some serious eyebrow going on here.

Gerald Butler plays Gerald Butler. His performance stands out like a sore thumb as whilst everyone else speaks with this strange hyper-English accent he speaks in his Gerald Butler roar. It seems a dark day to be saying this but he does manage to out-act everyone he is on screen with. My favourite performance however was Chadwick Boseman as Thoth, providing us with a character who personifies the strange campness of the entire film. However, as a consequence, I fear I will end up taking his portrayal as Blank Panther a lot less seriously. The moment that really summed up just how bad this film was going to be was the appearance of  Rufus Sewell, a man who can actually act but has recently spent his career in this type of Hollywood underworld cinema. Considering he is the in the film and providing the kind performance full of knowingness and campery that we’ve come to expect from him, it’s truly amazing that the film’s director seemed surprised at the film’s reception  (click here for more). 

To conclude I will finish with my top five lines of the film as I genuinely feel the level of absurdity the script reaches may be beyond words.  It’s a shiny big disaster with weird oddball moments and brilliantly bonkers.The acting is lacklustre, the story mediocre but the film is impossible to resist. If only it were half an hour shorter (it’s 127 minutes long) then this would be a perfect awful movie.

5) Set: Behold the fate of those who stand in my way. I will bring them reckoning!

4) Horus: I don’t need any more worshippers. Tributors that rot and stink. Get out! Unless you’ve got wine…

3) Ra: When you stray from your past, you grow weak.

2) Horus: The dead don’t speak to the living

1) Ra: Normally when a bird lands on my beat I kill it, before it can shit.

Film quality: 1.5stars

Film enjoyment levels: 4.5

 

Love & Friendship

An exquisitely elegant Austen adaptation

Love & Friendship is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novella entitled Lady Susan, written in 1794 but not published until 1871. Almost impossibly for a work by Austen it has never been adapted before. After seeing Love & Friendship the viewer will be left with two thoughts, 1) Why on Earth has such a brilliant story not made it to the screen before? and 2) Thank goodness it hadn’t as that version was absolutely perfect!  Love & Friendship is an absolute treat of a film and a gem of a must-see.

Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is a widow and notorious flirt. Infamous for her ways of manipulation yet so utterly charming, magnetic and witty that most of society adores her. Seeking refuge after scandalous rumours spread about her private life, about a suspected relationship with married Lord Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearáin), she arrives at her in-laws relying on their forced generosity. Whilst there she must continue her desperate search to find her daughter Federica (Morfydd Clark) a suitable husband and an even better match for herself. Seduction, deception, broken hearts and lots and lots of gossip ensue. 

There are so many wonderful things to say about this film. The way the story is told is extraordinarily brilliant. Originally an epistolary novella (a story told as a series of letters) writer-director-producer Whit Stillman turns monologues into dialogue with perfection. The editing is what truly makes this a success – hopping between people, places and things – nothing needless is shown and nothing is needlessly reshown. As opposed to an hours-long epic the period drama is reinvigorated with this 90 minute self-conscious comedic romp. The threads are skillfully interwoven with many outcomes that you may surprise and will definitely amuse. The dialogue is wonderfully written, snappy and lively, serving as a great reminder of just how funny Austen was. The fact the film has an age certification of ‘U’ just goes to show how well-written the script is: never have such brutal takedowns been so politely and eloquently written. 

The characterisation is superb with every character, no matter how facetious or self-indulgent, managing to be immensely likeable. Beckinsale as Lady Susan is a revelation –  a character who knows nothing nor cares little for either love or friendship yet knows just how to manipulate other’s feelings about both. Lady Susan’s manipulations are extraordinary and so skillful that you can’t help find her likeable and end up rooting for her.  She’s nasty and self-centered, others distrust of her and resentment of her status is fully understandable as is their envy of her, yet the viewer is spellbound by her. Some of her best moments are when she is scheming with the American Alicia (Chloë Sevigny) when the conversation becomes a biting satire of late 18th Century aristocracy. 

The entire cast are just as brilliant, there are no weak links here, but it is Bennett’s James Martin that almost steals the show. His performance is so earnest and well-meaning as a character who is unable to utter a sentence without creating moments of sheer awkwardness. In a film full of laugh-inducing moments, I don’t think I’ve laughed this often in ages, it is his character who has two of the biggest chuckle/chortle/tear-inducing funny moments, moments which I have been quoting constantly since.

The costumes, sets and visual style are all extraordinary. The entire cast an acting masterclass. A script and storyline that make hilarious an understatement. Easily one of the best films we will see this year (it’s not even June yet). Go see it. Now!

five star

Eddie the Eagle

May Eddie the Eagle fly at the box office

One thing that really grinds my gears is when people my age say to justify a gap in their knowledge is, ‘Huh! Well that’s from before my time I guess.’ That is then proceeded with a slightly awkward shoulder shrug. For someone who often reckons that music peaked around 1985 I think it’s often used as a silly filler line. However, in a rather hypocritical move, I am going to say that the rise and soar then laughing stock of British skier Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards is ‘from before my time I guess.’ Occasionally he would pop up on various panel shows and people would poke fun, and I’d be vaguely confused and envious that a man with such an awesome nickname was being used for laughs (what can I say, I was a thoughtful child…) Anyway, I’ll save the rest of that for my therapist.

My slightly convoluted point here is that I had no idea what the man had done to achieve such levels of infamy and mockery. Then, when I heard of the film, I thought ‘Yeah…good luck with that one!’ Time passed by and the trailer was released which made me realise that the film was my kind of film. Then I got invited by Den of Geek to attend a preview screening and Q&A with the director, Dexter Fletcher, at The Courthouse Hotel (a 5* hotel with unbelievably fancy toilets) and that takes us right up to now. Three days on from seeing the film and it still makes me smile. It’s a truly wonderful movie and I beg you to go and see it. Now (and if you’re still with me after that preamble I declare) to you my utter love and gratitude for sticking with me) let me tell you why it’s so damn good.

Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) has wanted to be an Olympian for as long as he can remember. He was always the last to get picked for teams, spent a year in hospital due to the poor state of his knees and never quite seemed good enough for anything. He almost gave in and followed in his dad’s (Keith Allen) footsteps of becoming a plasterer until he found skiing, a hobby for which he had his mother’s (Jo Hartley) total support. He even made it to try-outs for the Olympic team before being told by the panel (lead by Mark Benton and Tim McInnerny) that he wasn’t Olympic material. That’s when Eddie decided that not only would he try on his own to make  Team GB for the 1988 Winter Olympics, he’d teach himself how to Ski Jump by decamping to a training camp in Germany. Either being ignorant or in denial about the fact that most Ski Jumpers start aged 5/6 (Eddie being 22) he proceeds to train solo with great resilience both from injury and belittlement from the experienced jumpers. That’s when alcoholic ex-ski jumper Bronson Perry (Hugh Jackman) steps in to help Eddie from death by training. A friendship/brotherhood quickly forms between the pair, under the shadow of Perry’s ex-mentor Warren Sharp (Christopher Walken). Will Eddie become skilled enough to join Team GB or will his dreams die again once more?

This film is totally and utterly brilliant; an utter joy to watch. Though it’s not a state I often occupy, I felt so patriotic after seeing this movie. Partly because it’s a British movie, and it’s the kind of movie we do so, but mainly because Eddie’s journey and how it’s told is so unique to British cinema. Yes, other countries do underdog movies, but so few do them in this way. Eddie’s journey is so lacking in glory, so real (grey-area term as some of the movie is fictionalised) that he reflects each and every one of us. It’s an important reminder not to give up on your dreams, and the power of self-belief. It’s also bloody hilarious, that blend of slapstick and deadpan and sarcasm that makes British cinema so comparatively unique. I giggled, I laughed and I even snort-laughed. It was glorious.

Taron Egerton is already on the up-and-coming, cusp-of-greatness list of actors and this film cements it. Firstly, a post-viewing google showed how similar Egerton looks to 1988-era Eddie along with how scarily accurate the expressions and mannerisms are. He’s also such a great actor to watch, his handling of the pathos and comedy of the character is extraordinary. You do well and truly root for Eddie. Hugh Jackman is great in his mentor role, forming a great rapport with Edgerton. Allen and Hartley are little seen but add much to the impact of the film. Then, with a brief cameo, Christopher Walken sasses the hell out of two lines of dialogue.

There’s also a wonderful 80s soundtrack, as uplifting and smile-inducing as the film itself, brilliant use of sets on such a small budget and some hilarious character actors in supporting roles. Eddie the Eagle is being released into the wild on March 28th, the same weekend as Batman Vs Superman. So why not give some home-grown talent some love and go see it. I promise you it’s worth the money.

We may only be a quarter of the way into the year, but this may just be THE feel-good movie of the year. Go see it.