Tag Archives: 2009

My Favourite Films of the Year

Last year was been shit. In fact it was dog shit.

However, there were some absolute bangers released (both in terms of film and music). These are my favourite 10 films of 2016 (listed in no particular order/of the films I have seen – there are so many left on my ‘to watch’ list that I am sure are amazing too).

  1. Deadpooldeadpool.jpgDirected by:
    Tim Miller

    Written by:
    Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick

    Starring:
    – Ryan Reynolds
    – Morena Baccarin
    – Ed Skrein
    – Stefan Kapicic
    – Brianna Hildebrand
    – Karan Soni

    Genre:
    Romantic comedy/Sci-Fi/Superhero movie

    Synopsis:
    Wade (Ryan Reynolds) creates the alter-ego Deadpool after being subjected to a rogue experiment (which he turns to after discovering he has incurable cancer) that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge for being disfigured.

    Why I loved it:
    This film is hilarious. It has a dry, quick script which is cutting. It’s a film that takes the mick out of its own genre, and is not afraid to subvert it at the same time. It’s a mixture of the humour of ‘Ant Man’ (2015) combined with the comic book style narratives of ‘Zombieland’ (2009) and ‘Kick-Ass’ (2010) (but less naivety and more sass). Even if (like me) you’re not totally convinced by superhero films as a genre, you’ll love this one.

  2. Green Room
    green room.jpg

    Written and Directed by:
    Jeremy Saulnier

    Starring:
    – Anton Yelchin
    – Joe Cole
    – Alia Shawkat
    – Callum Turner
    – David W. Thompson
    – Mark Webber
    – Patrick Stewart

    Genre:
    Horror/Thriller

    Synopsis:
    A band on tour play an off-road gig in a secluded part of the American Pacific Northwest, and accidentally witness a horrific violent act. Consequently, they unintentionally become the targets of a terrifying gang of skinheads (who own the bar they have played in), and so have to try and escape as the skinheads attempt to cover all evidence of the crime.

    Why I loved it:
    I went into the cinema expecting this film to be a tongue-in-cheek, black comedy movie about a band trying to escape a room they become trapped in after witnessing something they should not have. I was pleasantly (or shockingly) surprised to find out that this was in fact a fully fledge horror film about neo-Nazis, and was fully gripped/horrified in equal measures. There is an excellent balance of music, gore and suspense. It was not what I was expecting, and had a resounding impact on me. I loved the style/way it was filmed, and the acting is great. If you like dark, subtle horrors you’ll like this.

     

  3. The Witch
    sundance-horror-movie-the-witch
    Written and Directed by:
    Robert Egger

    Starring:
    – Anya Taylor-Joy
    – Ralph Ineson
    – Kate Dickie
    – Harvey Scrimshaw

    Genre:
    Horror

    Synopsis:
    Set in New England in the 1630s, a family lead a devout Christian life on the edge of a community they have been banished from. One day, their baby disappears from under the eyes of their eldest child, which their younger children blame on the ‘Witch’ that lives in the woods.

    Why I loved it:
    I am a Northerner, so first and foremost, I loved the broad English Northern accents of all the actors. I also love this period of American history, especially the suspicion aroused by devout Christians suspecting that the unusual women of society are all witches. In turn, I liked how the film captured the traditional themes of witchcraft in a subtle, natural way (like the act of becoming possessed). If you like old-school horrors, you’ll love this.

  4. Nocturnal Animals
    nocturnal-animals
    Written and Directed by:
    Tom Ford

    Starring:
    Amy Adams
    – Jake Gyllenhaal
    – Michael Shannon
    – Aaron Taylor-Johnson
    – Isla Fisher
    – Ellie Bamber
    – Arnie Hammer

    Genre:
    Thriller

    Synopsis:
    The Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) writes a novel about his ex wife Susan Morrow (Amy Adam) and dedicates this to her, despite not having spoken to her in years. The name of the book is ‘Nocturnal Animals’ (named after her), and as she reads this ‘devastatingly beautiful’ piece, she sees parallels of her life within the book, through dark and thrilling action.

    Why I loved it:
    I know I said I would not rate these film in any order, but I have to say that this was my favourite film of the year. This is because this film had the most impact on me. The plot is so simple yet so gripping. The cinematography, script and acting are flawless. I left the cinema feeling ill at ease in the best way. If you want a film that will entice and make you leave the cinema feeling a little introspective, then watch this!

  5. My Scientology Movie
    my scientology.jpg

    Written and Directed by:
    John Dower

    Starring:
    – Louis Theroux
    – Rob Alter
    – Tom Cruise
    – Paz de la Huerta
    – Tom De Vocht

    Genre:
    Documentary

    Synopsis:
    This is a documentary about Scientology (a 1950s religion founded by sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard shrouded in mystery and controversy). The investigative journalist Louis Theroux follows Mark Rathburn (a former senior church official), as well as other ex-members, and recreates scenes that these past members have personally experienced. They are unable to gain access to the ‘Churches’ facilities, and so have to recreate these scenes in a studio with hired actors.

    Why I loved it:
    I love Louis Theroux, so am probably a little biased with regards to recommending this. I think he is so engaging, and speaks on a level that anyone and everyone can connect with. Similarly, this topic is fascinating, and highlights (like most American subcultures) all the hypocrisies of this weirdly eccentric scientific based religion. I went to a Q&A session of this, and was blown away by how engaging Louis Theroux is. I know how long it takes to make a good documentary, so although the idea of Scientology has been done (and some may view this as outdated and tired), this was definitely worth the wait. It was eye opening, fascinating, and made me want to learn more about Scientology (and religion/cults in general).

  6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
    10 cloverfield lane.jpg
    Directed by:

    Dan Trachtenberg

    Written by:
    Josh Campbell, Matthew Steucken and Damien Chazelle
    Starring:
    John Goodman
    – Mary Elizabeth Winstead
    – John Gallagher Jr.

    Genre:
    Thriller/Sci-fi/Action/Horror

    Synopsis:
    Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has an accident when another car hits hers (when she’s distracted from witnessing something flying through the sky), and wakes up locked in a room. She discovers that this is an underground bunker habited by 2 other men. She has to figure out what has happened and / or escape from the unintentional trap she has got herself caught in.

    Why I loved it:
    It just was not what I was expecting. When I read about this sequel to ‘Cloverfield’ (2008), I thought it was going to be just that – a sequel. I thought it was going to be filmed in exactly the same way (with the same handheld style footage), in the same way (an alien invasion where the characters of the movie are trying to escape impending death), and full of actors I only half recognised. Consequently, I was happily surprised that none of this rang true. I loved the original, but am glad that they did not just replicate this, and instead produced something that was different from your run-of -the-mill alien invasion films/was grilling and had a great cast and soundtrack. This was a happy surprise. A lot is captured in this film despite its small setting and sparse cast – very entertaining and one of my favourite films of the year.

  7. A Bigger Splash
    bigger slplash.jpg
    Directed by:
    Luca Guadagino

    Written by:
    David Kaiganich and Alain Page

    Starring:
    – Tilda Swindon
    – Matthias Schoenaerts
    – Ralph Fiennes
    – Dakota Johnson
    Genre:
    Thriller

    Synopsis:
    Paul De Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts), an ex drug addicted actor, and Marianne Lane (Tilda Swindon), a singer recovering from a throat operation, take refuge in France. They bump into the Marianne’s old boyfriend (Ralph Fiennes), and so end up putting him and his young, volatile ‘daughter'(Dakota Johnson) up for the weekend. Things turn a rye as tensions (both psychological and sexual) build as the four have to deal with living together.

    Why I loved this:
    I liked the way it was filmed. I was not 100% sure what the film was about before watching it, and could not entirely predict what was going to happen. I liked the style of the film (the setting, costumes, behaviour), as well as the cast. I like the soundtrack, and it just reminded me of a cool 60s film with edge. Both Tilda Swindon and Ralph Fiennes were great (and Matthias Schoenaerts is just so handsome and cool) – another winning film in my eyes. This is based on the film ‘La Piscine’ (1969), which I definitely want to watch.

     

  8. Hail, Caesar!
    hail caesar.jpg
    Written and Directed by:
    Joel and Ethan Coen

    Starring:
    – Josh Brolin
    – George Clooney
    – Alden Ehrenreich
    – Ralph Fiennes
    – Scarlett Johansson
    – Tilda Swindon
    – Channing Tatum
    – Jonah Hill

    Genre:
    Black comedy

    Synopsis:
    Set in the 1950s, this film focuses on the Communist writers strike in America in a comical, ironic way. Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), a famous actor, is kidnapped by the writers guild, and is held for ransom.

    Why I loved this:
    It was made by the Coen Brothers. The storyline was very slow, and little to nothing happened (except for the above mentioned synopsis). However, not much has to happen in a Coen Brothers’ film for it to be a success. The manner in which they tell stories is just brilliant. They are always composed of grand schemes undermined by the flawed characters that create them. I like this era (1950s McCarthyism, with American film studios at their classiest, sprinkled with a smidge of Communist fear), and it is just captured so well – the unjust contrasts of the era (that arguably still persist today) perfectly captured in this piece.

  9. Finding Dory
    thA0YLV0YO.jpg
    Directed by:
    Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane

    Written by:
    Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane, Victoria Strouse and Bob Peterson

    Starring:
    – Ellen DeGeneres
    – Albert Brooks
    – Ed O’Neill
    – Kaitlin Olson
    – Hayden Rolence
    – Ty Burell
    – Diane Keaton
    – Idris Elba
    – Bill Hader
    – Sigourney Weaver

    Genre:
    Comedy/Animation/Adventure film

    Synopsis:
    A forgetful fish named Dory ( tries to find her real family with the help of 2 other fish, but sadly loses her way.

    Why I loved this:
    This is the second sequel mentioned in this list and, like the first, I was expecting this to be a complete replication of the first film (‘Finding Nemo’ (2003)). However, I was pleasantly surprised that this, again, was not the case. I was terrified that Pixar could not create another film that would hold up to the original, so really did not want them to make this – but am happy that they did. There were obvious parallels between each of these the film (as the original cast are featured/the story is pretty much a continuation of the first), but with a strong cast of new characters, fantastic humour (suitable for all ages), and interesting storyline, this film comes into its own. It was cute and Pixar has definitely done it again – another fantastic animation!

  10. Bridget Jones’ Baby
    thAP0X4ZVE.jpg
    Directed by:
    Sharon Maguire

    Written by:
    Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson
    Starring:
    – Renee Zellweger
    – Gemma Jones
    – Jim Broadbent
    – Sally Philips
    – Shirley Henderson
    – Colin Firth
    – Patrick Dempsey

    Genre:
    Comedy/Rom-Com

    Synopsis:
    Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) has a baby, but is unsure who the father of her baby is. There is a 50/50 chance that it is either her ex (Colin Firth) or a one night stand (Patrick Dempsey), and so she has to tackle the situation and deal with the fall out of this.

    Why I loved this:
    I love chick flicks (when they are good), and this one is fantastic. I liked the first film, but was not balled away by the second, so did not know what to expect. I ended up falling in love with this. I could (and have to many people) poke holes in the plot of this film, but in spite of all this, thought it was cute and a great way to reintroduce this character (created by the author Helen Fielding). I liked all the actors involved (even Colin Firth – who I find annoying in anything other than ‘Love Actually’ (2003)). I have put this in my top 10 as I find it hard to find a good chick flick, but when I do, I can watch them over and over again. I have already watched this 4 times, and it has not even been out for a year yet….It’s a goofy, classic.

 

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‘Elf’ (2003) – 9/10


I rewatched Elf the other day, so decided to review this as I have not had chance to watch many new films (I broke my laptop and am too busy to go to the cinema – you’ve got to love the holidays).

I want to start off by saying that this is not just my favourite Christmas film, it is my favourite film period!! So I might be biased with my review (so take heed)!

‘Elf’ (2003) is a film about a baby, living in an orphanage, who accidentally gets taken to the North Pole by Santa Claus when he slips into Santa’s bag trying to attain a Christmas present. Consequently, an elderly elf adopts the baby, names him Buddy (Will Ferrell) and takes care of him as if he is his own. Buddy grows up believing he is an elf, but one day overhears a couple of elfs saying that Buddy is in fact a human (which explains his drastic difference in size to them, as well as his perceived clumsiness), and so decides to travel to New York in order to find his biological father, a business man named Walter Hobbs (James Cann).

The reason I like this film so much is because it has every factor I like/hope to see in a film. Firstly, it is a Christmas film. For some reason, I love Christmas films. I do not necessarily love Christmas the day itself, but rather I love the build up and anticipation of it. I love the ‘magic’ of Christmas that is captured in Christmas songs and movies. The excitement, the nostalgia and the ‘spirit’ that these films and songs somehow magically capture is just beautiful/evokes emotions in me that make me love this time of year. ‘Elf’ nails this. It obviously features Santa (Edward Anser), a toy store  (Gimbels), features a singing duet (between Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel), and stars an Elf (Will Ferell) – but it also features a Christmas message (‘the best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loud for all to hear’), and of course spreads the importance of family.

Secondly, I think the plot is genius. It’s a simple story, but is told from the perspective of a story within a story. The film is narrated by Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), who recounts Buddy’s story up until present day. I won’t give much away about this (for those who have not seen the film), but it is very cute how the plot is tied up. It is simple yet effective (and not too cheesy).

Thirdly, I like the animation in this film. The film mainly relies on forced perspective (to make it look like Will Ferrell is massive in comprison to the ‘elves’ he works with in the North Pole), but it also has stop motion, which works perfectly. The dynamic between real life and this style of animation works really well (which is mainly down to the sets used/the entire mis-en-scene of the film). The emergence of actors with animation is seemless.

Finally, the cast is strong, as is the directing, editing and script – which makes ‘Elf’ such a stand-out film for me. This film has some of my favourite actors involved, and they are all hilarous. I love Will Ferrell. Everything I have seen him in  (apart from maybe ‘Bewitched’ (2005)) has been excellent. I really like comedy films, and his style of humour – this dry/slapstick style – is right up my street. I also like Zooey Deschanel (who plays a similar cute role in films like ‘Yes Man’ (2008) and ‘500 Days of Summer’ (2009)),  James Cann (who played Sonny in ‘The Godfather’ trilogy), Peter Dinklage (who plays just as a commanding role as when he plays Tyrion in ‘Game of Thrones’), Mary Steenburgen (who features alongside her husband Ted Danson in one of my favourite American sitcoms ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’), and Jon Favreau (who also directs this) – to name but a few… All these actors execute the script brilliantly (which is written by David Berenbaum, and full of sublime one-liners), which is set against a feel-good score (composed by John Debney), that neatly ties up all the great aspects of this movie.

This is my favourite film. I can watch it repeatedly anytime of year. It is my favourite genre of film (a Christmas rom-com), has my favourite style of humour (a ridiculous hybrid on slap-stick) and is edited together brilliantly. The cast is strong, and the sets, animation and overall cinematography makes this film timeless/it has fared well!! I think it’s one of the best ‘modern’ Christmas films. I once did not get a job at a cinema for saying this was my favourite film (as most people there named art-house/blockbuster films as theirs) – but maintain that this is still my favourite. It’s so simple yet well crafted. I read somewhere that Will Ferrell turned down $29million to do a sequel , and rightly so. This is timeless and should be kept as it is! A must see, family feel-good Christmas film starring Will Ferrell dressed as an Elf – what more could you ask for?

‘Dunkirk’ – Trailer Review

Dunkirk

Release date:
21st July 2017

Written and Directed by:
Christopher Nolan

Genre:
Action/war film

Cast:
– Tom Hardy
– Cillian Murphy
– Mark Rylance
– Kenneth Branagh
– James D’Arcy
– Fionn Whitehead
-Harry Styles

Synopsis:
This film is based on the WWII Battle of Dunkirk, in which 400,000 British and Allied troops are surrounded on the beaches of Dunkirk in France by German troops.

Reactions:
Earlier this week, the trailer for the new Christopher Nolan film ‘Dunkirk’ was released. This is the new war film documenting the Battle of Dunkirk, an important battle of the Second World War which took place on the beaches of Dunkirk in France between the Allies and Germany. This was the defence and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Europe between the 26th of May and 4th of June 1940.

I must say that I am not that well read up on the background of this film. From first glance, this looks like it has the potential to be a fantastic WWII film. It looks gritty and full of suspense, like a war film should be. It has a sombre feel to it, and could hopefully get across the message of the historic story of Dunkirk in a tasteful way.

The main character (played by Fionn Whitehead) is a relative newcomer to the film business. In spite of this, the rest of the cast is that strong that they will no doubt buoy his performance if he does not deliver (which I am sure he will). Similarly, Christopher Nolan is such an experienced director (with films like ‘The Dark Knight’ (2009) and ‘Interstellar’ (2014) under his belt), so is more than capable of handling such a daunting subject as The Battle of Dunkirk, let alone a war film.

I am really looking forward to seeing ‘Dunkirk’. I like war films (if they focus on the history and gripping scenes, rather than focusing predominantly on the emotion in an overwhelming way that overshadows anything else). I like most of the actors in this film (Tom Hardy is such a strong, diverse actor, as is Cillian Murphy), and the director Christopher Nolan has a flare that makes me consider him to be one of my favourites – both of which will undoubtedly get the story across in a concise yet dramatic way. It will be interesting to see how Harry Styles plays his role. I hope that the focus does not fall completely on him (being a One Direction member) when it comes to this film, as it has so much potential to be a classic war film.

 

‘Snowden’ (2016) – 6/10

Today I watched ‘Snowden’, which is a biographical political film documenting the NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden’s life. This is a German-American produced film directed by Oliver Stone (who directed films like  ‘Platoon’ (1986) and ‘JFK’ (1991), as well as numerous political documentaries), and written by Stone and the cinematographer Kieran Fitzgerald. The narrative is based on the books The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

The film’s plot documents Ed Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) life between 2004 and 2013. This begins with his days in the U.S. Army, in which he wants to help the Special Forces, but is discharged after an accident, so has to serve his country in other ways. Consequently, Snowden applies to work with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and is hired by Deputy Director Corbin O’Brian (Rhys Ifans) despite him not completely passing his tests, due to the need for extra people in, what O’Brian deems as, these ‘extraordinary times’ (i.e. post 9/11 terrorist threats).

The film then documents Snowden’s career and work leading up to and becoming recruited by the National Security Agency (NSA). His story about working here is intermingled with the story of him becoming a whistleblower, as in 2013 he meets documentarian Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and journalist Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) in Hong Kong, who, along with Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson), help Snowden release classified information that Snowden has acquired regarding illegal mass surveillance conducted by the NSA, which makes him disillusioned about his past work and the Secret Service in general.

Firstly, I want to say how amazing Joseph Gordon-Levitt is as Ed Snowden. His appearance right down to his voice are impeccable. Up until now, I think I have only ever seen him in rom-coms like ’10 Things I Hate About You’ (1999) and ‘500 Days of Summer’ (2009), in which he usually plays cutesy, ‘nice guys’, who are most often than not too nice. In ‘Snowden’, however, another side of Gordon-Levitt comes into play. He portrays Snowden, who is a highly intelligent human-being, whose morals and ethics are being tested when it comes to his job with the Secret Service. This puts him at odds with wanting to serve his country, and inevitably puts his relationship with his girlfriend Lindsey Mills (Shailene Woodley) on the rocks through the frustrations of not being able to speak about this. I thought his acting was very believable, and could definitely imagine him as Snowden, as he was able to express and communicate across the feelings of isolation and frustration in a seemless fashion. I thought he was very engaging, and look forward to seeing what else Gordon-Levitt has to offer in the future.

Secondly, cinematically certain scenes in this film were just beautiful. There was a scene in which lights representing how the internet connects people across the world together spread into a diagram, which the camera panned out of whilst the image faded into the iris of an eye. This was flawlessly edited, and was a symbolic moment for a discovery that Snowden makes. Entire scenes like this made the impact of technology, used for surveillance purposes, seem daunting in the beautiful techniques used throughout the film. These special effects enhanced the meaning of the story, of the actual impact that technology and surveillance has on the world, of which most people are seemingly unaware.

In terms of the cast, as mentioned above, I thought that Gordon-Levitt was a perfect choice for Snowden. He did the story justice, as did the 3 main journalists (Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto and Tom Wilkinson). I like the fact that they were not preened and make-up heavy or stylish. It gave the film the documentary look it needed, and helped emphasis that the narrative is based on real events. However, I did not think that Shailene Woodley worked well as playing Lindsley Mills (Snowden’s girlfriend). I thought that she acted well, but for some reason I still associate her with playing teenager and coming-of-age films (like in ‘The Fault in our Stars’ (2014), despite her being 25 years old now… I was not captivated by her performance, and she did not bring enough to the role, which was especially evident against Gordon-Levitt’s strong performance. I feel that she was cast wrong.

Although I enjoyed the film, I felt that the film itself was not quite captivating enough… I could not quite put my finger on what I did not enjoy. I found it was quite long, but on reflection felt that nothing could have been cut, as it would not have made sense otherwise. Similarly, cutting anything would have detracted from the film’s collectic style – parts are told from Snowden’s perspective, others are told from an interview style, and then the present time film is played out – which works well. I liked that real news footage and clips of Snowden are used, which again emphasis that this story is real.

I think the thing I did not enjoy was that this was supposed to be a political thriller, but it just was not gripping enough. I think had certain scenes been more fast-paced, the music made more intense, and a stronger female lead been cast, then this would have given this film the extra ‘umph’ it needed.

Overall, I liked ‘Snowden’. It was a very informative film told in a interesting way (through multiple layers of storytelling). I would definitely see it again, if only to help me digest more of the information that is exposed (as I find America a fascinating place) but would not choose to watch it repeatedly. I think that the film was not gripping enough – the plot, the cinematography and Gordon-Levitt definitely held this film together… also, the ending was a bit cheesy. It was cleverly done, but I am not sure it was necessary. The way the film ended on Snowden’s message of ‘I don’t have to worry about tomorrow because I’m happy with what I’ve done today’ came across like an inspirational laptop ad… I feel that it could have ended without this and just summarised with words detailing what has happened since Snowden has divulged the secrets of the NSA to the general public. ‘Snowden’ had very strong elements, it was just undermined by other factors that, and if different, could have made this into a very engaging political thriller. As it stands, it is just a very interesting film with a strong lead – well done Joseph Gordon-Levitt!!!

‘Scrooged’ (1988) – 6/10

So today I decided that I am going to watch more Christmas films from now up until Christmas. Today, I decided to watch ‘Scrooged’ for the first time. This is the 1980s classic directed by Richard Donner (who was behind such 80s corkers as ‘The Goonies’ (1985) and ‘The Lethal Weapon’ series).

Previously this week, I watched ‘A Christmas Carol’ (2009), which is the Jim Carrey animation variation of the same story. Both are based on ‘A Christmas Carol’, a novella by Charles Dickens about a banker called Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, his old business partner, on the 7th year anniversary of his death. Marley warns Scrooge that he will be visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come, as a warning of what will happen if Scrooge does not change his selfish and greedy ways. 

‘Scrooged’ has aspects of the original story within it (as the film would not be named after the main character otherwise), but is not a direct parallel of this (like the Jim Carey version). Instead, ‘Scrooged’ follows the life of Frank Cross (Bill Murray), a television executive who has many similar traits to Scrooge. For example, he is greedy, selfish and work oriented. He has sacrificed relationships and family life in the name of success. As Cross is scheduling a controversial live Dickensian-themed Christmas special at the television network he works for, he is visited by an old deceased business partner, along with all 3 ghosts of Christmas (much like Scrooge was), who show him where his life has fallen into disarray, and where his life will lead if he does not change.

I liked the idea that ‘Scrooged’ is a story within a story. I like that there are multiple layers to its narrative – the idea that Cross is creating a ‘Scrooged’ TV special whilst enliving the experiences Scrooge endures himself. I enjoyed the fact that this was an alternative to the literal variations that are created with regards to this film. Similarly, I like that this film has many traits that make it a classic 80s film, such as; dated hair cuts, daring clothing, Bob Goldthwait (who plays Eliot Loudermilk, but is better known for his appearance in the ‘Police Academy’ films), and cheesy comedy. I also love (and always will love) Bill Murray.

There’s something about Bill Murray that I adore. He has a charm (that is found in most films he stars in) that he has which makes me want to hang out with him and smoke a cigar, drink scotch and chew the fat. He is just so cool! He oozes this in ‘Scrooged’ whilst playing the character of Frank Cross. Even though this character is supposed to be an arrogant, selfish person, you can tell deep down that Murray is a lovely guy. This is not to say that he is a bad actor, as he plays this role with the right amount of humour intermingled with sass to pull off portraying a self-important television exec., but rather that he has an air of sinserity about him personally that he just cannot shake. I think that is why he partially takes on tongue-in-cheek roles, which is what this role is. It pokes fun at the original story of A Christmas Carol, whilst eloquently spreading the meaning of Christmas.

I must say, that in spite of loving all the above elements of the film, there were parts that irritated me. I felt that some of the humour was over the top. This included scenes where one of the television assistants gets repeatedly hurt in stupid scenarios. This was extremely exaggerated and slapstick in a dated way, which I must say irritated me – but then again this film is nearly 30 years old, so this style of comedy is probably appropriate for the time. Similarly, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) annoyed me. I thought she was a little too sickly and did not like that she kept hitting Cross. I know this was to make sure that Cross was put in his own place/ help him realise the errors of his ways, I just thought it could have been done less… or not at all. It did not add a lot to the story I don’t think.

As mentioned above, the hair cuts and clothing give this film a 80s feel that a love. That being said, although these images are dated, I thought that the special effects and make-up are great to say they’re nearly 30 years old! The scene where Cross’s old business partner comes to visit him is especially good. I much prefer special effects that require as little CGI as possible, and can see why the make-up department were nominated for an Oscar for this. There are certain scenes where Cross hallucinates too, that are edited brilliantly. This goes to show that older cinema techniques can stand the test of time if filmed/styled in a certain way.

Overall, as Christmas films go I really liked this film. It is not one of my favourites, as I have not seen it before now, and so don’t have the memories to evoke the Christmas emotions that psyche me up for the big day. Nonetheless, it has the potential for me to consider putting this in my list of Christmas films to watch each year. There are elements of the film that irritated me (like some of the ‘comedy’), but I feel like I can let this slide as it is a generational thing/Bill Murray smashes his role (as does Bob Goldthwait). The ending is a bit corney, but it’s a Christmas film, so what else do people expect from a Christmas film other than feel-good BS? It has definitely helped make me feel festive, so what more could you ask for from a Bill Murray Christmas film?

‘A Christmas Carol’ (2009) – 7/10

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I don’t know why it has taken me so long to watch this film. I have been recommended to watch this for the past 5 years, and still had not got round to seeing it. So yesterday, I decided to force myself to watch this, and got mad at myself for not having seen it sooner. It was wicked! I love Jim Carrey. I love Christmas films. I love animations. This film was the ideal film for me – I just wish I had seen it in the cinema, rather than seeing the animation for the first time on my laptop via a poor quality version I ha d found online…

‘A Christmas Carol’ is based on the 1843 Christmas novella of the same name by Charles Dickens. It is about a banker called Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey), whose business partner, Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman), visits Scrooge on the 7th anniversary of his death in the form of a tortured soul wearing the chains he forged in life from his selfishness and greed, who has to roam the Earth as part of his punishment. He warns Scrooge that 3 more ghosts will visit him (the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present  and Christmases Yet to Come – all voiced by Jim Carrey). As warned, these ghosts emerge, and show Scrooge the error of his ways, and what will happen if he does not change.

This story has been told many times, in many different forms. I think this is partly why I was so hesitate to see this movie. Consequently, I think because I love the ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ (1992) that much, I feared that another film might replace this – so held back on watching this Carrey version. Nonetheless, I feel that the reason that the Muppets’ version resonates with me so much is because of the memories tied to this film, rather than it being a stand-out version of this story.

This aside, everything I was told about ‘A Christmas Carol’ (a film directed by Robert Zemeckis – who directed the ‘Polar Express’ (2004)) held true. It was a thoroughly entertaining kids film, incredibly animated. It blew my mind how, at having researched this movie, many voices the likes of Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman perform. They are such diverse and strong actors. Now arguably, Jim Carrey has played very similar roles throughout his filming career (which includes goofball characters in films like ‘Liar, Liar’ (1997), ‘Dumb & Dumber’ (1994), and ‘The Mask’ (1994)). However, he does have an emotional side to him, which cuts through the sometimes too heavy humour he is known for (seen in films like ‘The Number 23’ (2007), and ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)). This is evident in ‘A Christmas Carol’, and is why I think I liked it so much. I was half expecting to see Carrey voice a Scrooge version of The Grinch (a character he plays in Ron Howard’s 2000 film ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’), but was happily surprised to see his subtle, humbling humour enacted, as opposed to his overt humour, that would have overpowered more important themes and factors in the film, and therefore showed him in a different light.

I thought the animation was amazing! As said above, I wish I had seen this in the cinema, to get the full effect of how great these characters’ features actually were. I thought that the ghosts were terrifying – to the point where, had I been a child, I would have been scared shitless. Then again, I was terrified by certain scenes from old Disney films, like ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1959)… Anyway, I thought the animation was that good (even without seeing it in HD) that I researched how it was created, and like many films now, this is done through facial recognition. The actor’s have small dots applied to their faces’ and filmed by a series of cameras positioned around them. This is then applied to the face of the animation, making the animations’ expressions look believable and real – which is arguably why I like the animation so much, as Jim Carrey has such an expressive face, which works perfectly on Scrooge.

I liked the humour. It was not overboard, as the theme of this film is a sombre one, and this would have killed the overall purpose of the film. The humorous parts that came through added just the right edge to this film. Similarly, I liked how dark it was. The Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come, amongst other scenes, were gothic and disturbingly good. The cast was strong, and full of distinct characters (despite many actors doing numerous voices in this). Overall, it was recreated very tastefully, and goes to show that much can still be done with a simple story (despite it already having been done). I will definitely put it on my list of Christmas films to watch year in year out – I am just gutted it took me so long to watch!