Promising Young Woman (2020)

Rating 15
Length 1h 54
Release 16.4.2021
Director Emerald Fennell
About Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be — she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.


The Good

  • This film is visually beautiful. There were so many times during the runtime I thought ‘put that on a canvas and I’d hang it in my house’. Very few films have even one frame like that for me. Yet here is this film, a Film Studies academic’s dream, giving me enough canvas for a museum.
  • The film holds a wonderful familiarity with one of my favourite films, Get Carter, and a beloved tv show of mine, Veronica Mars. Not in a way that screams “remake” or “rip off”, but gives me the indication that the creatives behind this film are aiming for my demographic. That this is a film for me, by someone like me.
  • The entire cast is incredible, but this really is Carey Mulligan’s time to shine. It was Cassandra’s story and Mulligan told it with such a presence that you’re drawn right in. I always knew she was going on to do great things when my favourite episode of Doctor Who became the one in which the Doctor, David Tennant’s Doctor no less, was barely present. It makes the geek in me really happy to see her hold her own in such a powerful and important film.
  • Okay, there’s one other person I need to mention and that is Jennifer Coolidge. Holy crap, she blindsided me. She has been the epitome of comedy and caricatures that I am ashamed to say I cringed when I saw her name in the credits. Gone was that nasal squeak that she seemed to have branded herself with, gone are the blonde locks and instead we get a rather understated performance that really added to the family dynamic in the film. Directors, I hope you use this woman more because she is so much more than her 2 Broke Girls’ “Hi everybody”.

The Bad

  • Eat before you press play. Do everything you need to because you are not moving once it starts. I stupidly didn’t think I was going to like this movie, so I naively put it on about 30 minutes before I was going to have my dinner. I couldn’t pause, I couldn’t just nip out… this film had me not only engrossed, but invested. To have paused, even for a moment, could have altered the outcome.
    Now, that, that is cinema at its finest.

The Ugly

  • Its not the most comfortable of watches when you consider the themes, the story and the characters. This isn’t a film for entertainment’s sake. This is a cautionary tale and a societal mirror for trauma, grief and gender prejudice.

Final Thoughts

Watch this movie. Show your mother, your sister and most importantly, show your son, show your brother and show your dad this movie.

Whiplash- 15

whiplash-bloodThere was no doubt that I was seeing this movie. I didn’t want to, but it had an Oscar nomination and I like to have the full set. At the time of writing this, I only have Selma left to see out of the best picture catagory and 12 others (outside of shorts and foreign language. That is not to say I’m avoiding them, it’s just difficult and I have priorities)

I digress. This is a hipster anti Dead Poet’s Society film. It’s cruel, it’s unrelenting. You see the *twist* coming a mile away and wonder why Miles Teller’s Andrew is gutten for more in that final act. That said, It’s hilarious, J. K Simmons is a genius as sadistic Terrence Fletcher, hell bent in the belief that everyone needs to be pushed to breaking point to reach greatness.

The romantic storyline between Teller’s Andrew and Mellisa Benoist’s Nicole is a little underdeveloped to the point of pointlessness (Ok yes, Andrew puts music/drumming first. Sleeping next to his drum kit and playing to the point he’s bleeding do that just fine), but I guess it says it all when the only character name I don’t need to look up is her’s.

I’m happy to see Paul Reiser of ‘My Two Dads’ and ‘Aliens’ play the role of Andrew’s father. While he plays a vital role toward the end of the film, he is still underused. It comes across as two different films. I would have like to have either seen Andrew completely cut off from everyone, or a little bit more of a development of those close characters; after all, I don’t believe a father as caring as Reisser’s Jim would ever let the problems get so far.
The biggest let down for me was that I’d convinced myself from the trailer that Sam Caflin was playing a part in this movie. Alas, no Finnick to cheer me on my way.

The music was good. However, shouldn’t I be saying the music was great, fantasic, superb. I love my jazz, but the story took it away from me. Jazz, to me, is about expression and soul. Neither of which I saw represented in this film.

Now, I did what I NEVER do with this movie. I read a number of reviews first. I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to see this movie. They all raved about it, stellar performances (I’ll give you J.K, but check out 21 and Over for a better performance from Teller.), great story, worthy of repeat viewing. I think I’m missing something (more that Caflin). I did not leave feeling like I’d learnt a lesson (Other than I need to curb my OCD of completing collections. Which reminds me, I need to buy a kinder egg on my way home), I think it’s ruined jazz for me and it certainly didn’t put the arts in a good light.

Cast- 6
Cinematography- 7
Plot- 6
Pace- 7
Music- 5
Enjoyability- 6

Birdman- 15

Michael Keaton plays a washed-up superhero actor in this breathtakingly original showbiz satire.

I left the film not knowing if this was the best piece of film ever created or the worst drivel I have yet to inflict upon myself. I still don’t know.
Keaton is good and Norton steals the show, but in a film about actors it’s hard to tell if they are simply playing themselves or not.
While I enjoyed seeing such an ensemble on the screen, I am still finding it hard to see the point of the movie other than it being a mainstream artsy hipster conceit created simply to be an Oscar nomination.
I don’t feel like my time has been wasted, but I still feel like I’ve been left out of a joke or missing one vital piece of information that will make the whole thing make sense.The irony of seeing a play about producing a film noir movie (City of Angels, review to follow) made it hard not to see the flaws in Birdman.
The music in this film is obtrusive and unrelenting to the point of distraction. While it is later revealed to diegetic (or not, if it is indeed all in Keaton’s head), it detracts from the overall enjoyability.

It’s worth a high brow watch, particularly if you are in the midst of an Oscar buzz, but it is not a film for your DVD collection.

Cast- 9
cinematography- 8
plot- 7
music/sound- 3
pace- 7
enjoyability- 6

Foxcatcher- 15

Foxcatcher

Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo star in a gripping psychological drama based on the shocking true story of an Olympic champion.

Steve Carell in haunting brilliant, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are beautifully ugly to the point that it’s hypnotic. All three are able to suggest the emotional scars without having to dwell upon them.
The hard part I have always found about ‘psychological dramas’ is that it is a term thrown about to excuse the feeling that audiences don’t quite know what’s going on. It also seems to be a little confused about what it is trying to achieve; the first bulk of the movie plays like a Sports film. It was only the last third of the film that revealed itself as anything but a quirky, arty look at the world of wrestling.
I found the film a little overindulgent and lacking any energy or motivation to keep an audience captivated. That said, those who are interested in biopic and sports movies will find some redeeming features.

It is very much an Oscar bait movie: high brow, arty and primarily about the acting while not caring about the comfort of the audience.

cast 10
cinematography 7
plot- 8
pace- 5
music/sound- 5
enjoyability- 4

American Sniper – 15

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Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper in the visceral true story of the U.S. Military’s most lethal sniper.

An all too real look into the Iraqi battlefield, Bradley Cooper is perfect in the role of Chris Kyle; Navy SEAL and sniper legend. His portrayal is uncompromising and powerful.
Sienna Miller is excellent as Chris’ suffering wife, left at home while he completes four volatile tours. However, the supporting cast feel a little underused and too interchangeable.
The film initially plays with the narrative; flitting back and forth smoothly until Chris’ timeline crashes back to the opening scene. It appears to be a common trick with a number of films recently and it really works here.
Apart from one action laden scene that takes place in a sand storm, this is one of the most engaging and emotive war movies for many years.

Cast- 9/10
Cinematography- 7/10
Plot- 9/10
Pace- 9/10
Music/sound- 7/10
Enjoyability- 8/10

Total-48/60