A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born Trailer

Rating: 5/5

With Clint Eastwood previously attached to direct and Beyoncé set to star, the latest adaptation of A Star Is Born has been stuck in development hell for a number of years. After another setback, leading man Bradley Cooper took the helm as director, with Lady Gaga confirmed in the female leading role, and the film finally went into production.

A Star Is Born is a modern update of its previous incarnations and tells the story of waitress and aspiring singer Ally, whose path crosses with country music star Jackson Maine. As Jackson takes her under his wing, the two fall in love and soon Ally’s star is on the rise. But with Ally’s career flourishing and Jackson’s on the wane, his addictions and jealousy threaten to derail their relationship. Can love save them or will Jackson’s destructive behaviour tear them apart?

A Star Is Born is an incredible film that is in turns hilarious, shocking and heartbreaking, mainly due to the raw and immersive performances from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Cooper is almost unrecognisable as alcoholic Jackson and Lady Gaga is a revelation as rising star Ally. The chemistry between the two is electric and their portrayal of the romance between the unlikely pairing is so convincing and honest. In what are career-defining roles, the authenticity between the pair can be attributed to both stars co-writing much of the soundtrack, with the film clearly a labour of love from all involved. Cooper especially must be commended for his directorial debut and his co-writing of the script, which offers an emotional punch that is sure to leave even the most cynical viewer reeling.

The film offers a sharp and acute insight into the music industry, a world where women are often moulded to a certain image, with the story exploring the conflict of retaining an artist’s integrity over commercial success. The musical element of the story is enhanced by live vocal performances from Cooper and Gaga, who insisted on avoiding lip-synched performances. The film contains fantastic visual set pieces that include performances at festivals such as Glastonbury and Coachella, as well as during Lady Gaga’s Joanne tour at The Tour Stop in Los Angeles, California on August 9th 2017.

As well as being a compelling love story, A Star Is Born highlights the tragic effects of addiction and mental health and explores whether love can ever be enough to save someone. It is a heart-breaking story that is painfully real yet also beautiful to watch, due to such incredible performances from Cooper and Gaga.

A Star Is Born is sure to sweep the board during film awards season in the months to come and its success will certainly be justified. The film is garnering glowing reviews and, with a fantastic soundtrack, it’s a strong contender for one of my favourite films this year.

The Greatest Showman



The Greatest Showman is the first musical of the year and is inspired by the incredible true story of showman Phineas ‘P.T.’ Barnum, who created the Barnum & Bailey Circus in the 19th century. Barnum became infamous for his hoaxes and human curiosities, while also known for being ahead of his time. Hugh Jackman plays the titular character and the supporting cast includes Michelle Williams as his devoted wife and Zac Efron as his business partner.

The story explores Barnum’s inception of his museum of attractions to a backdrop of musical numbers. With Jackman already proving his musical credentials with an Oscar nominated performance in the most recent adaptation of Les Miserables, here he demonstrates his dance capabilities in a variety of musical sequences. Jackman’s infectious enthusiasm radiates from the screen and he is perfectly cast in the role of the visionary Barnum.

Zac Efron is another musical veteran after turns in the High School Musical franchise and Hairspray. Efron has delved mainly into comedic roles in recent years and his return to the musical genre has been a rewarding choice. Michelle Williams proves to be adept at the musical numbers, as well as providing an ethereal presence on the screen. Having achieved stardom in Dawson’s Creek, Williams has gone on to be a versatile and credible actress, with four Academy Award nominations at the mere age of 37. Zendaya is another seasoned dance performer who provides a supporting role in the film and a love interest for Efron’s character.

“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

Within the film’s frothy musical exterior lies a story of injustice regarding the mistreatment of others. The issues of class and race are explored in the film, with Barnum’s group of misfits being viewed with suspicion by many of the untrusting public. The love story between Efron and Zendaya’s characters is used to highlight the issue of race and mixed raced relationships as the pair try to hide their feelings for each other as well as from the world around them. Despite the periodic setting, the topic remains as relevant and current as ever in today’s world of political and racial turmoil.

The film’s central theme is a message of inclusion and embracing and celebrating uniqueness, which is demonstrated in the superb musical number This is Me. The feel good factor and the positive message of the film is capturing the hearts of moviegoers, with the film continuing to defy expectations since its release in December last year by growing in success week after week. Much of the film’s appeal can be attributed to its ability to relate to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

“The noblest art is that of making others happy.”

The film itself was years in the making, with Jackman fearing at one point that it would never reach the big screen. The story had been his dream project since 2009, yet film studios were reluctant to take a financial risk on an original musical. Jackson’s fears looked set to be amplified as the film was poorly received by critics on its debut release. However, The Greatest Showman has proved to be one of the biggest hits of 2018 already and is currently the number one film in the UK, despite being released on Boxing Day last year. Its soundtrack has been just as successful and has been the number one album in the UK for the last five weeks and the aforementioned This is Me is sitting at number six in the singles charts.

Much of the film’s box office success is certainly due to the fantastic musical sequences in the film, which are impossible not to toe-tap along to, with the urge to get up and dance along proving difficult to resist! Other notable numbers include The Greatest Show, Rewrite the Stars and The Other Side, the latter being viewed by many as a secret metaphor for coming out. Much of the film’s soundtrack has a contemporary R&B/pop/hip hop style, contrasting with its 19th century setting. This was a deliberate move by the filmmakers to emphasise Barnum’s innovative and revolutionary ideas. A sing-along version of the film is due for release on February 23rd, which will no doubt see a resurgence for the film, particularly with the Academy Awards around the corner on March 4th. High hopes for Oscar winning success will be pinned on This is Me, which is nominated for Best Original Song, and is the film’s only Oscar nomination.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

Gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

This is brave, this is bruised, this is who I’m meant to be

This is me.”

Overall, The Greatest Showman is a visually dazzling film that deserves repeated viewing. If in need of a cheerful and charming film, then a cinema trip to see The Greatest Showman is sure to brighten up anyone’s day!


mother! Trailer

 ***Minor Spoilers***

 Rating: 4/5

mother! is the latest film from Darren Aronofsky, whose previous work includes the Oscar winning Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. It stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple whose home is described as “paradise”. Lawrence plays the role of the dutiful young bride eager to please her significantly older husband and spends her days renovating their house, while Bardem’s character looks for inspiration for his next piece of poetry. The film opens with a foreboding tone that fails to be dispelled, particularly when their apparent idyllic lifestyle is interrupted by some unwanted visitors.

Michelle Pfeiffer makes a welcome return to the screen in her role as the wife of the first visitor, played by Ed Harris. Pfeiffer appears to be having a career renaissance this year with a part in the adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express still ahead in a few months time. In mother!, she plays her character with menacing relish, particularly when she quizzes her hosts on their family plans. When the sons of the invading couple arrive, events take a sinister twist and all is not what it seems…

To say any more about the plot of the film would be a disservice to the unassuming viewer, as the less known about mother! the better. The revelations that unfold during the course of the movie are what makes the film so compelling and divisive. With Lawrence herself describing the film as a “love/hate” type of movie, it’s not difficult to understand what she means after viewing the film. Despite the premise of the movie appearing to be a psychological thriller or horror, the final act takes an unexpected turn before a truly shocking climax that will render many viewers speechless.

The subtext in the film may be lost on some viewers, yet is a clever Biblical allegory that will be analysed for many years to come. Aronofsky delivers a visually stunning piece of cinema that serves as a metaphor for events that shape our world today and poses many questions about society and humanity. His bold vision will have many viewers questioning everything that they have just watched, yet for others the pieces all fall into place during the final reel. The director provides hints and clues throughout the film, with its subtle layers gradually being revealed through the eyes of Lawrence’s character. As the story is portrayed from Lawrence’s perspective, the viewer is often given the sense of the possibility of an unreliable narrator. It is only by paying close attention and observing every detail that the viewer will be able to unlock the true mystery within the movie. Every line is delivered with meaning, which is only fully realised upon watching the complete film. The significance of each nuance demands repeated viewings of this film for further study.

In a time of reboots, sequels and series, it is refreshing to see such a unique piece of cinema. mother! is not be a film that everyone will enjoy, yet will make for so many topical discussions and debates for the unforeseeable future. Aronofsky succeeds in creating a story that makes the viewer think and consider their own actions, demonstrating the immense power of cinema.

Have you seen mother!? Did you love it or hate it? I’d love to discuss the film further, so please do get in touch!

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Trailer

Rating: 4/5

Wonder Woman has been one of my favourite characters ever since I’ve been a little girl. I used to watch the series on a Saturday morning and I recall spinning around just like my heroine in the hope that I too would turn into Wonder Woman. If only! The film adaptation has been many decades in fruition, with Sandra Bullock a possible casting contender in one concept. While I am still intrigued by the idea of one of my favourite actresses in this role, I’m pleased to say that the long wait for this movie has been worth it.

The film opens with a sly nod to the DC universe before moving to the hidden island of Themyscira, home of the Amazon warriors. Here, we are introduced to Diana as the sole child on the island, where she dreams of becoming a warrior just like the rest of the female only tribe. While her mother (Connie Nielson) and Queen of the island is reluctant for Diana to follow in her footsteps, her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) goes ahead and gives her private training on fighting tactics. Eventually, Queen Hippolyta relents once she discovers the secret lessons and hints at the mysterious origins behind Diana’s birth.

The catalyst for the movie’s events occur when spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) penetrates the shield protecting the island from the outside world by crashing in his plane. In a refreshing gender role reversal twist, he is rescued by Diana, who is no damsel in distress. Once Diana learns of World War I in the outside world, she is certain that it is the work of Ares, the god of war. She vows to defeat Ares by joining Steve on his mission and once she enters her unknown surroundings, her alter ego Diana Prince is born.

The casting of relative unknown Israeli Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is a more accurate incarnation of an Amazonian goddess and stays true to its comic book origins. Gadot excels in the role and is the epitome of what I hoped to find in this new version. The actress has a remarkable essence that displays all the traits of nobility, truth and morality required in a superhero, often seen in just her expressions and mannerisms. The moment that Wonder Woman finally springs into action and reveals her costume is the defining scene of the movie and sure to bring a thrill of excitement to every true fan.

Despite DC’s dark reputation, Wonder Woman is full of comedic touches, which enhances the enjoyment of the movie. Gadot and Pine provide much light relief with their banter, although the romance element of the story feels rather contrived. However, it is only a minor part of the plot and does prove to be an essential story device. Supporting actors include David Thewlis, Ewan Bremner and Lucy Davis, who is almost unrecognisable in her role as Steve’s secretary.

The historical setting is an interesting choice, yet remains relevant in this current climate, as well as highlighting many of the movie’s themes regarding humanity. The movie questions the darkness within man and the cruel nature of the human race and emphasises the injustices and atrocities committed throughout history, alluding to issues of race and immigration. Ultimately, the film spreads the positive message that only hope and love can truly save the world.

“I will fight, for those who can not fight for themselves.”

After her appearance in the poorly received Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the initial set up to Wonder Woman’s back story is complete in this film, paving the way for an exciting sequel. Director Patty Jenkins has confirmed that the next instalment will take place in the US. The movie has smashed box office records in its opening weekend and has been widely praised by critics and fans. To see a female heroine dominate the charts demonstrates the public’s demand for strong female characters. Wonder Woman’s kind traits show that she is a positive role model who deserves to rule the film world for many years to come.

Manchester By The Sea

Manchester By The Sea Trailer

Rating: 5/5

Manchester By The Sea tells the story of janitor Lee Chandler, played by Casey Affleck in a career defining role. The film opens with Lee living a secluded existence in Quincy, Massachusetts before he is called back to his home town of Manchester after the death of his brother. Lee is unexpectedly given permanent custody of his sixteen year old nephew Patrick and is forced to abandon his solitary life, as well as face the demons of his past. As Lee learns to cope with this sudden responsibility, we are given glimpses into his previous life and what led him to leave his home town.

While there are many clichéd Hollywood films featuring similar plot lines, this is no such tale. Manchester By The Sea is a story of loss and grief and is one of the most beautiful yet heart-breaking films I have ever seen. A week later, I still find myself thinking about the film and its central character every day. Casey Affleck delivers a nuanced and haunting performance that is the highlight of his career. He is a most deserved winner of the Best Actor Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, not to mention the slew of awards he has received for such a challenging role.

Other notable mentions must go to Michelle Williams, who is incredible as Lee’s ex-wife Randi, and Lucas Hedges in a memorable performance as Lee’s nephew Patrick. He is a remarkable new talent and looks set to have a bright future in Hollywood. Both deserve all the recognition they have received this awards season.

My heart was broken and I know yours is broken too.”

While this movie is a tragic tear-jerker, it has many comic moments, particularly as Lee deals with caring for his nephew and all the trials and tribulations that come with teenage life. Lighter touches include Patrick’s recurring requests for money and his juggling of his two girlfriends as well as the witty banter between Patrick and his uncle.

This film has now become a firm favourite of mine and I can’t recommend it enough. A note of warning though; tissues are strongly advised when viewing this movie. I experienced a wave of emotions throughout the film, from laughing hysterically one minute to weeping uncontrollably the next moment. Manchester By The Sea is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time and it is worthy of all its accolades and critical acclaim.



Rating: 3/5

I’m back with my first post of the year! I’ve been sadly neglecting my poor blog recently, but I hope to rectify this with more posts this year, including some film ones at last. Films are my other passion and my aim this year is to review every film I go to see. Hopefully I will be able to review the latest new releases as much as possible, but I also might review a few golden oldies that I come across too.

So my first film review for this blog is the recent Golden Globe winner La La Land. After its astonishing success winning seven awards at the Golden Globes, it looks like a dead cert to pick up a slew of Oscar nominations when the nominees are announced on Tuesday January 24th.

La La Land is directed by Damien Chazelle, whose film Whiplash achieved much success at last year’s Academy Award ceremony. La La Land reunites Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, after previous pairings in Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad. Here, the couple star as Mia, an aspiring actress, and jazz pianist Sebastian. Initially, the characters take an instant dislike to each other, but it isn’t long before they inevitably fall for each other. The story then focuses on whether they can achieve their dreams, a feat that may test their fledging relationship.

Being a huge fan of musicals, I was eagerly awaiting La La Land. I thought the trailer looked fantastic and I was certain that I was going to adore this movie. Yet somehow, I feel slightly underwhelmed and disappointed with it. In fact, I still can’t quite make up my mind about this film. Perhaps I need a second viewing before I really decide. It’s not often, but sometimes, it can take me a couple of viewings to truly appreciate a film.

There are many elements of La La Land that I loved and I certainly don’t want to detract from the beauty within this movie. It is visually stunning and its dazzling imagery depicts Los Angeles in a positive light, a city that is often accused of being soulless and seedy. The costumes are gorgeous, especially Mia’s wide range of dresses. I had serious wardrobe envy throughout the film!

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling certainly have a sparkling chemistry, although I preferred their pairing in Crazy Stupid Love. Who could forget their recreation of the Dirty Dancing lift?!

“That’s LA. They worship everything and they value nothing.”

Despite the glowing positives, I fear the negatives may outweigh my previous thoughts. While I loved the homage to old Hollywood films, in particular Singin’ in the Rain, this doesn’t quite live up to those classics. I couldn’t help compare it to the most recent musical adaptation of Les Miserables. In that film, the live singing was a brave choice, which resulted in more powerful performances. Here, the lip synching detracts from any emotional impact the characters were trying to convey. While Stone and Gosling give it their all, their vocal abilities seemed limited, highlighted as soon as the talented John Legend performed in the film. Perhaps this was the intention of the filmmakers in order to make the two central protagonists more relatable, but I couldn’t help wondering what more seasoned musical performers could have brought to the roles.

The dance sequences were enjoyable and I couldn’t stop tapping my feet, wishing I could join the characters onscreen. Yet at the same time, the two actors didn’t convey any sense of naturalness in these scenes. These moments in the film felt very much a performance and slightly contrived. In fact, the whole film felt a little too self-aware and self-referential to portray any sense of realism. Surprisingly for a musical, the songs weren’t even that memorable, with only a couple of numbers in particular being a standout for me.

At 128 minutes long, La La Land is quite a lengthy feature and unfortunately it began to drag in the final act. I expected to come out of the screening with a huge smile on my face, but to be honest I was just relieved it was finally over. That might be more to do with me feeling sleepy at that point, though!

I do feel I am being too harsh on this film and I am surprising myself with how negative this review has become. I honestly expected La La Land to become one of my new favourites, but somehow it seemed to be lacking a certain something for me. This feels like such a shame, so I think I will definitely have to revisit it again some time. By then, I might end up falling completely in love with it. Who knows?!

Have you seen La La Land yet? Do you completely disagree with everything I’ve just said? Feel free to comment and tell me why I’m wrong!