La La Land (2016)

Cert: 12A            Director: Damien Chazelle          Running Time: 128 mins

Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt

I want to start this review with complete honesty. I was ready to go into this film a complete hater and I do not know why. I think the trailer lacked something for me. But I did want to see it, and I did want to like it but there was a part of me convinced I was not going to like it. However, I am glad to say that I came out adoring this film. It was honestly magical.

This film has a lot of passion in it. This is both in the film and behind the scenes. The cinematography ( by Linus Sandgren) was spectacular. Just the use of colours alone was stunning to watch. When the bold colours of the outfits of Mia (Emma Stone) and her  friends contrasted as they danced triggered excitement for what was to come. The editing (Tom Cross) was superb also. This film is shown in segments signifying the seasons of the year in Mia and Sebastian’s (Ryan Gosling) lives. Through the use of episodic segments and montage, we see every aspect of the love story of these two without ever feeling like the film is dragging on. The film is just over 2 hours long, but it honesty does not feel like it.

Damien Chazelle showed how well he can captivate an audience with the script of Whiplash. But while Whiplash had a more anxious element to it, there is a dream-like quality to La La land which is shown alongside a witty and bright script. This magical and dreaminess to La La land is heightened with the beautiful composition of Justin Hurwitz. Honestly cannot get City of Stars out of my head. The ode to old Hollywood gives the best kind of film history lesson. Chazelle shows the relevance of films such as Casablanca and Rebel without a Cause without losing itself too much in referencing these films.

Now onto the stars! Off the bat the chemistry between Stone and Gosling was on point once again. Stone displays a career best performance as Mia, the witty, charismatic, and heartbreaking Mia. Literally, just her eyes alone was enough to command every scene she was in. That isn’t to say that Ryan Gosling didn’t give her a run for her money as the loveable but grumpy Sebastian. Sebastian is the ultimate underdog, he is passionate but stubborn so you end up loving him while also wanting to shake him. Also, the John Legend of it all was amazing, though honestly he could just cough and I would say it was fabulous.

All in all, La La land is a definite watch for any type of movie goer. And it is definitely going to be one of the big contenders to beat this awards season.

I give La La Land a …….

9/10

Room (2015)

Cert: 15       Director: Lenny Abrahamson       Running Time: 118 mins

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus

 

Let me start by saying that it is an absolute travesty that Jacob Tremblay wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. Room is the story of Joy ‘Ma’ Newsome and her son, Jack who are both held captive in a shed, which they regard as ‘Room’. The beautiful cinematography, heart-warming screenplay, and most importantly, the captivating acting from Brie Larson and Tremblay makes for an unforgettable film which I think will be the big winner this awards season.

Jacob Tremblay is only nine, yet his performance in this film rivals many of the actors nominated this year. Again, he was robbed by the Academy. Tremblay displayed so much emotion without ever over-acting, which only few child actors, in my opinion, achieve fully. Jack is a little boy who has experienced more than most people ever will, while also having no experience of the world. Tremblay manages to balance these aspects amazingly while also being such a little cutie. I mean that hair was to die for.

Brie Larson deserves the best actress award, and if she doesn’t win I will be writing a very heated letter to every voting member of the academy. Larson is captivating as the 24 year old Joy who has to balance her depression, her resentment towards the time she has lost in Room, while trying to be a good mother, and trying to survive. Larson effortlessly manages to balance all these aspects of her character in a very real way, which is both tragic and heart-warming to watch.

You go through such an emotional rollercoaster while watching Room. I’m pretty sure the rest of the audience both empathised and hated my anxious mumbling throughout the film. However, you come out of the film feeling a huge amount of warmth, which I think was helped by the final song in the score which was really uplifting.

Altogether, Room is a spectacular film, which made for a very memorable viewing experience.

I give Room a…

9 1/2 out of 10!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Joy (2015)

Cert: 12A             Director: David O. Russell           Running Time: 124 min

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Édgar Ramírez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Dascha Polanco, Elisabeth Röhm

 

Let me start by saying that this film made me want to buy a miracle mop, so it succeeded in making this girl actually want to clean. This semi-biographical story follows the rags to riches story of Joy Mangano, played amazingly by Jennifer Lawrence, from being a struggling matriarch who is trying to keep her busy household together to a successful (bad-ass) business woman, making quite an inspiring feature.

Firstly, Joy brings forth the charming qualities of the great O. Russell films namely Silver Linings Playbook. We have a likeable lead in Jennifer Lawrence, who is both sympathetic and charismatic as Joy, making the narrative very heart-warming. This was different to American Hustle, which I did enjoy but I felt that the lead characters weren’t as appealing. We also have the great balance of comedy and drama which puts forward the seriousness of life while having fun and fanatical moments, particularly the soap opera dream sequences.

Jennifer Lawrence went from strength to strength in Joy. The film has many flaws but Lawrence always manages command the attention of audience without overwhelming the other actors. We see JLaws trademark charisma which mixes with the underdog story, just further showing how much this script was written with Lawrence in mind.

I also thought that the film was well paced, and it didn’t feel like it was dragging on. I also really enjoyed the way the relationship between Joy and her ex-husband Tony (Édgar Ramírez) was portrayed. The scenes where we see them in the early stages of their relationship highlight the chemistry between two actors can easily translate between romantic and platonic. Which leads me onto the Bradley Cooper of it all. While he was not as much of a focus in the film as opposed to his other films with Lawrence, their chemistry made their scenes some of the best in the film. On a side note, the minor relationship between Joy’s mother, Terri (Virginia Madsen) and their plumber Toussaint (Jimmy Jean-Louis) was easily the best ship in the film because who doesn’t love seeing a nice interracial couple.

Now onto what I wasn’t a big fan of. It was an obvious Oscar bait, which I don’t begrudge but I couldn’t help notice all the little ‘academy, look at me’ moments. Also, Robert De Niro plays quite a grey character which I think would have worked better if they developed his character more. Actually, it felt like none of the characters other than Joy were properly developed. None of them felt that necessary which I think was a waste of such a vast array of talent. Lastly, I didn’t get the point of setting up the Nan, Mimi (Diane Ladd) as being such an important part of Joy’s story but we hardly ever see them together.

All in all, Joy is a heartfelt story which is a great and worthwhile watch for anyone wanting a good film to get them inspired to restarting work in the new year.

And to the readers who have seen the film: Wasn’t Peggy(Elisabeth Röhm) just a bitch?

I give Joy a…

7/10!!!