Inside Out (2015) Film Review

Rating U
Length 1h42
Release 24.7.2015
Director Pete Docter
About Eleven-year-old Riley moves to San Francisco, leaving behind her life in Minnesota. She and her five core emotions, Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust and Sadness, struggle to cope with her new life.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

The Good

  • The story; the metaphor for emotions and memory is not only well presented, but it is really important for anyone exploring the growth mindset.
  • The use of colour to reflect Riley’s emotions is brilliant, particularly when Riley is on the bus and her thoughts change.
  • The voice casting is genius; Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler are perfect in their roles.
  • There’s the nice added touch of seeing into other people’s heads and how their Joy et al manifest.

The Bad

  • The clown and the imaginary friend. Nope, nope, nope! Hate them, can’t be doing with them. Just, no!
  • I hate Sadness. I know you’re meant to and the moral is that we all do need that bit of sadness in our lives, but seriously, I want to yeet her out the movie before it even begins.

The Ugly

  • How has there not been a sequel. There’s so much potential there that I would rather have seen a number 2 of this than the 4th Toy Story.

Final Thoughts

Another addition to the Pixar Studio. I must admit though, I absolutely hated this movie the first time I watched it.

The Girl in the Photographs

Rating 18
Length 1hr 35
Release 19.10.2015 (no UK cinematic release)
Director Nick Simon
About Two psychopaths target a young woman (Claudia Lee), a photographer (Kal Penn) and a group of models at a secluded house.


The Good

  • This film takes a risk with its ending. It *almost* works. The idea of an open ending to a stand alone horror film in a way that’s not a rug pull (see I Know What You Did Last Summer, House of Wax and Saw) is rare. There’s no showdown, there’s no final girl. Now, considering the rest is formulaic as fuck, that ending really impressed me.
  • Yeah, that’s all I got folks. This film was garbage and I actually almost turned it off.

The Bad

  • By calling your ‘slashers’ psychopaths, does not free you of having a motive. Towards the back end of the film we get the idea that he has some sort of feelings for our lead, Colleen. However, where does the second guy factor in to this infatuation? There’s also the fact that we come into the film at victim 7. The film made loose connections to the photographer, Kal Penn, but just didn’t follow through. If only the film unpacked the fact that the two men were in the same year as Penn’s character, it would have made for a much more satisfying movie.
  • As much as I love Mitch Pileggi, the incorporation of the police force within the town was frustrating and of no use to the plot with how they were used. Just throwing around “No body, no crime.’ And repeatedly telling Colleen there’s nothing they can do is utter bullshit ;and the stereotype we moved away from almost two decades ago. When these photographs are popping up and they resemble the missing persons report… they would have to do something. While I do like the fact that the psychopaths are left to kill another day, if you’re also going to make the police incompetent and the reason these girls have died, at least have them as part of the body count.
  • How is the disappearance of seven people not caused commotion in this town? How is it not a much bigger thing, that’s going to make the local news at the very least? I just find so many of the things in this so illogical.
  • Did we really need the commentary of “the photographer” on consent. He actually says “permission isn’t sexy”. Which is made all the more galling by the fact that the guy is using a big ass camera with a massive flash to photograph Colleen.
    Oh, and while we’re on the topic of consent. Having a guy secretly film his casual sex is one thing. Having the girl discover it and then masterbate to the footage is very much another and absolutely not okay. Remembering, the issue is not the sex, but the violation and lack of consent. My biggest issue being who this film’s demographic is and what it might say to them.

The Ugly

  • The over-use of Wes Craven’s name in all of the publicity. He was a producer, nothing more. There is nothing in this film that can be said to be inspired by his body of work and its only made worse by the over zealous use of “This was the last film he worked on.”
  • Few things I didn’t understand: who the fuck wrote the blog? Who made the connection to the photographer, and was it every single photograph? If so, why?
  • Oh, why is the boyfriend such a dick? Like, really? Can someone explain to me? He seemed lovely and really trying to make things work, but Colleen was clearly not on the same page. When Psycho Tom tells boyfriend “you should have treated her better” all I could think was that he really should have been saying that to Colleen.
  • The blood, the gore! Jesus, I know it was an 18 and everything, but come on! Its been proven time and time again that not showing a death is much more effective. Why do we need to see all the blood?!

Final Thoughts

This film has potential behind the gore, but the editing and unresolved questions leave it being little more than garbage. Its not even clever enough to be considered an exploitation film.

Poltergeist (2015)

Rating 15

Length 1Hr 34

Release 22.5.2015

About All seems well for Eric Bowen (Sam Rockwell), wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) and their three children as they move into their new house in the suburbs of Illinois. Soon, youngest daughter Maddy (Kennedi Clements) begins talking to an imaginary friend, or so the family thinks. It’s not long before sinister spirits wreak havoc in the home, holding Maddy captive and forcing the parents to consult a team of parapsychologists who engage the supernatural entities in a battle for the girl’s freedom.


Treat

  • This is a streamlined plot with a well cast family who you will root for off the bat. The film makes it feel as if its learn from the franchise’s missteps to craft a more coherent story. This starts by you seeing them move in rather than having them well established and making a connection to the paranormal investigators earlier in the film.
  • As reboots go, this is a solid attempt at keeping the good while making it the director’s own. They keep the tree, the moving of items and the false resolution, but the best is the young girl’s delivery of the iconic ‘they’re coming’ / ‘they’re here’. It wasn’t a mimic, but actually a much more subdued vibe.
  • Sam Rockwell holds his own in this film. Not only does he have the leading man persona, but he lifts up some of the children’s performances. Rockwell brings comedy and emotion to his role. His ‘you‘ve got to be brave’ speech being cut short by his freak out over an invading squirrel is tricking genius, but it’s his tears at explaining that his daughter is missing that really makes the character well rounded.
  • The use of technology in this update is also something that really gives it a legitimacy as a reboot. I love how the eldest girl, first of all is much more present than the original, uses her phone to detect the disturbances. Then there’s the addition of the drone that is used to explore the Other Side. Yes, its been done to death in Stargate with the Rovers to ‘check out the other worlds’, but her it feels new and has a purpose not only in terms of plot, but character as well.
  • I love this score. I listened to it so much after I’d seen this film in the cinema. I also love the song, TV Set by Spoon, that’s used for the closing credits.
  • Jared Harris, what a brilliant guy. Not quite ham, but whatever it is, he’s certainly enjoying himself.

Trick

  • So, while I end up loving the story arc of middle child Griffin, I fucking hate the kid at the start. I feel as if his meekness and fear of everything is a tad over acted. He’s a massive pussy and a total cock blocker. Even his mum gives him shit for acting like a baby. However, once his sister has been booted into the Other Side, he really does become a brilliant, non-pussy character.
  • The CGI, in places and particularly at the end is really ropey. Okay, so you’re not really going to make it look as good as the original when they used actual skeletons, but physical effects often trump what computers do. When you are living up to the effects from an original, I think filmmakers really should reconsider what I feel is the easy option.

Final Thoughts

A brilliant vehicle for Sam Rockwell to demonstrate his acting range. It cleans up the plot from the original and gives the audience some excellent character development.

Christmas Film Advent- Krampus (2015)

“It’s like Martha Stewart threw up in here.”

Length: 1Hr 38
About: 
A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a festive demon to his family home.

First Thoughts

I missed this in the cinema and I was gutted. I’d tried to get a few people together to watch it but I quickly discovered my friends aren’t horror people. I watched it late night one evening the following Christmas and wasn’t too impressed. However, to quote a much loved podcast, I’ve just looked at it with fresh eyes and I’m pleasantly surprised to discover I’ve had a change of heart.

On the Naughty List

  • I don’t like Adam Scott. It’s a personal thing and I put my first viewing misery down to putting up with his face. However, I will say he does a good job as a put down grown up boy scout made to step it up and protect his sheep. crew
  • The second act shifts the tone, and while I love how it brings the horror with the journey of the daughter, I do feel as if the film missed a trick with how it used its music. I found it a little too loud to invoke any sort of atmosphere. I perhaps would have preferred for the snow to bring an absence of sound rather than an excess. However, I love the use Christmas bells and later the film does explain why there was wind.
  • Aside from the creepy as Christmas cookies, I found the Krampus crew a little on the wrong side of silly. While the helpers bring with them a punchy action sequence, it reminded me that sometimes horror works best when they leave some things to the imagination.

On the Nice List 

  • I love the opening and the whole first act. From that icy themed Universal logo and the music fitting of a festive family comedy to the ‘Christmas time’ tropes and the offset tone of the movie. It sets me on edge knowing that this is a dark and twisted horror.
  • Most of the cast are on the approved list. I love Toni Collette; she’s a versatile actress but her strength is certainly horror and Krampus is no exception. There’s also the added surprise of Two and a Half Men’s Conchata Ferrell as Aunt Dot; her dry humour is a welcome addition to the proceedings, even if she wasn’t welcome at the Christmas home.
  • Emjay Anthony plays the protagonist and catalyst for the narrative. He’s a delightful young actor who seems beyond his years. While I welcomed other familiar facing, I don’t doubt he could have carried the film without them.
  • The German grandma and her animated back story are something I’m not certain I caught in my first watch and they are quite magical. I spent the film, both times, waiting for the lovely lady to become a type of demon and it really did keep me on edge.

That ending

I’m still not certain of what I feel about the ending.
Part of me wishes it ended with Max being left alone and the narration from Omi’s tale, reminding the audience that Krampus spares one as a reminder. Another was proud of Max for fighting for his family and was curious to how it would resolve.
Then it all goes tits up and we get a ‘it was all a dream sequence’. Yes, it’s a double bluff, but it goes on too long for me which is a shame as I’d be all up for it with the right execution. 

Final Thoughts

Better than I remembered and I’ll watch it again, but there’s some tweaks I’d need to make for it to be a regular watch.

Wedding Ringer- 15

The Wedding Ringer is a plot by numbers film. Parts of Meet the Parents and There’s Something About Mary with splashes of I Love You Man and Sex Drive.
Just like with all the others, the best bits appear to be in the trailer. Kayley Cucoo-Sweeting isn’t right as the beauty bitch who gets the geek. Go figure! Perhaps she’s too ‘Penny’ or she’s too much of a convincing bitch, but I hate every moment she’s on screen. It was a role made for Cameron Diaz, ten years ago.
The film is inoffensive, but it’s also not very funny. It has heart, but it doesn’t have guts to fully commit to some of the setups.
In a similar way to the Internship, this film could have done with cutting down on the swearing, removing all the genital flashes (although points for showing more of a penis than 50 Shades) and bringing the rating down to a 12a.
I left liking the two male leads a little more than I have in the past, but also realising unless it has Rob Schnider in the lead I need to give the frat boy films a miss.

Cast- 7
Cinematography- 6
Plot-7
Pace-7
Music-9
Enjoy ability- 6

Fifty Shades of Grey- 18

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This appears to be a true Han, Solo movie. I had a number of offers to watch it with people. However, having sat uncomfortably through Basic Instinct for my Film Studies degree I knew this wasn’t something I could do.
I wasn’t alone in this thought either. About half the reasonably sized audience where flying solo for the early morning screening. I ashamedly broke the rules and did not sit in my assigned seat. Blushes a plenty when a cute guy rocks up alone claiming it as his own. At least 10 additional individuals crawled in after the lights went out and a handful of under aged girls firmly clutching 3D glasses from the film they were claiming to see arrived during the final trailer: something I addressed firmly with the manager and warned them to expect more. The problem with a sensation that causes a stir- EVERYONE wants to see it.
I don’t really need to tell you about the plot. The entire human race are currently in one of few camps about this movie and my ‘review’ will not sway you:
1. You’ve read the book, you’ve followed the production from its conception and probably saw it before I did.
2. You’re a sheep. You’ve heard the buzz and want to know what the fuss is about. Whether that be that you are curious, skeptical or downright hipster. (Hi, this is me. Ironically, I was seeing it more because I DIDN’T want to see a film about a sheep)
3. You know it has sex in it/ you think you’ll get sex by seeing it
4. No way, no how am I seeing that movie.

Now, what I will say is: four people walked out never to return. I admire these people for holding their hands up and going ‘nope, not for me,’ and I’m still not quite sure why I wasn’t with them.

I stayed until the end, more out of a overwhelming need to pull Ana from the screen and protect her. I feel a little at odds with myself because I don’t want to belittle anything people might like and enjoy, but I just didn’t feel the promotion of the sort of relationship that appears on screen as ‘romance’ is healthy or good. I also accept that both literature and film are open to interpretation and I will gladly agree to disagree.

The scene it was building up to just wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it fell flat and heavy and I’m frustrated that it’s not a self contained film. It is an abrupt end and I heard a number of people around me mumble ‘is that it?’ as there was a large pause between the final scene and the credit scroll. I know it will put the fans at ease that there’s a sequel on its way, but for those of us who are not- it isolates.

I’ll give it something though- it’s a nice antidote for feeling alone on Valentine’s.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 8
Plot- 3
Pace- 3
Music- 5
Enjoyability- 1

Theory of Everything- 12a

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“The life-affirming, superbly acted true story of Stephen Hawking’s first marriage’

No fault can be found with the acting, but you will be forgiven for making a comparison between Eddie Redmayne and the BBC forerunner of the role, Benedict Cumberbatch. Two high profile Brits playing the greatest mind- it’s hard not to. Devastatingly, I have to admit that Eddie appears the more committed of the two. Thankfully the film diverts from the same narrative early on, so that distraction is left back in the opening third of the film.

Charlie Cox and David Thewlis are amazing support. I will always welcome the appearance of either in any film, but here they both bring charm and heart to a heartbreaking biopic. However, it is Felicity Jones who really shines. Her personal battle of loyalty, frustration and abandonment is well developed.

There is a good pace to the film that makes its central character the relationship between Hawking and his first wife; Jane Wilde. Time passes for them fluidly and it finds a perfect balance between Hawking’s professional progression and their family life.
However inevitable, the ending is a little too bittersweet to be the film I was expecting it to be. I felt I was intruding on something a little too personal for it to be a comfortable watch.

Cast- 9
Cinematography- 9
Plot- 8
Music- 6
Pace- 9
Enjoyability- 6