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Being frank about the films you watch

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, follows the real-life story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a medical soldier in WWII who saved roughly 75 lives on the battlefield at Hacksaw.

It’s 10 years on and Mel Gibson makes a huge comeback with this war epic. He tells the story off a young boy growing up in a small religious town during WWII. But when he recruits as a medic he faces many challenges that question his ability to fight for his country. 
Andrew Garfield really carried this film with such a striking performance, not that it needs carrying but it stands out as a powerful vehicle in the films success. He manages to portray a character who is layered in so many ways. He’s romantic and vulnerable but also strong and courageous making him versatile and extremely likeable. 
The film is strongly driven by conflicts, both physically in the idea of war but also thematically. The conflict between Doss’ morality and religion against his duty to war creates lots of friction, within himself and with his men. It is clear the soldiers resent Doss because of his refusal to hold a gun or kill at war. At this time, with the severity of war it was a very controversial choice to not kill. However, the audience who are not actually subjected to the reality of war, understand his moral conflict and therefore successfully side with the protagonist, Garfield. 
Sam Worrhington, Hugo Weaving and Luke Bracey were also very credible in this film. Focus is on Doss but without their coinciding strong performance the film could have lacked energy. Doss’ father (Hugo Weaving), is the sympathetic villain of the story, adding more depth to Desmond’s background. Vince Vaughn was a pleasantly surprising choice but I did find he lacked power and physical  authority at times. Teresa Palmer who plays Desmond’s wife was a perfect choice. Her beauty is radiant and her soft performance offers escapism from the harshness of the other characters and war.
Mel Gibson’s directing style is… to be frank… Cliché. When thinking of a typical cinematic style, like slow motion or flashbacks, he uses them. It’s not ‘in your face’ noticeable but it’s not different from anything else. Technically it offers nothing new. Although this is a negative it does transcend that it makes an easy to watch film allowing me to be fully immersed. I wasn’t distracted by fancy techniques but instead focused on the characters and storyline. The final war scenes are everything you expect them to be; brutal, abrupt, ruthless and dramatic. 
I think it’s fair to say the war genre is well and truly one of the most perfected genres in cinema today. Here, Mel Gibson doe not fail when adding to the pile. With romance, action, thrill and heartache it packs a punch of everything it could. This biopic storyline is definitely one to know. 
-Frankly Film

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Sing

Sing directed by Garth Jennings is the new animated film with a star studded cast including MatthewMcConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane and Taron Edgerton. When Buster Moon, a Koala with big dreams decides to throw a singing competition in order to save his theatre, animals from all over the city come together to win the big prize. 
Matthew McConaughey is great in this film. It’s always much harder to judge animation but he really does bring to life the character of Buster Moon. I rooted for him throughout and followed him on his ups and downs never wanting to quite give up on him. 
As for the other characters I found them interesting but somehow under developed. It was as if the development of each character was so rushed, the audience understood who they were but didn’t feel any emotional connection to them. 
When the auditions started I questioned why a lot of the animals were great singers, I presumed it would be obvious that the main cast were the best choices. However, as the film went on it felt like they were just fillers so that Tori Kelly could really be the one to shine as Neena. 
There was definitely funny aspects to it, which means, much like most animated children’s films these days, it appeals to adults too. Other than the slight moments of humour and enjoyable songs I actually found the film to drag. A lack of investment in some characters was key to the issue and also it took the entire film for us to finally see growth from 5 different characters. 
The opening scene did spark interest with slightly more interesting cinematography. Whips and pans were used to introduce the characters which was effective and more visually enticing. However, this slightly more experimental style was lost pretty soon after. 
I can’t deny that it’s definitely a great, uplifting, family movie but to be frank it wasn’t different to anything else out there already. It was overly predictable even for a child and lacked a bit of passion. 
-Frankly Film

T2 Trainspotting

T2 Trainspotting is the sequel to the original Trainspotting (1996) film, both directed by Danny Boyle. Continuing to follow the characters Renton (Ewan Mcgregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee-Miller) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) but twenty years on, we explore the hate, drugs, vengeance, pain and friendship when Renton returns back to Edinburgh.
Choose life. Choose T2 Trainspotting.
It’s hard to find the exact way of explaining how incredible this film was. After the cult classic, Trainspotting, I was overly excited to hear they were making a second and tracked it constantly, waiting impatiently for it to be released. It does not disappoint. I wonder if I’d even go far enough to say I enjoyed it more.

Returning, it’s made clear that the last twenty years have taken its toll on the men; they haven’t changed at all. Spud is lonely after losing his family due to his drug addiction, Simon (Sick Boy) works within illegal professions, blackmailing money out of people and sleazing his way through life while Begbie is simply in jail. Even though Mark appears ‘better off,’ as expected since he ran off with £12,000, he too is struggling to accept his disappointment in life. But it’s the reunion of them all, even full of violence and hatred that was still heart-warming to see.

The acting in the film is faultless really. It’s twenty years on but the characters are so significantly unique, their personal traits can’t be missed. Women in this film are actually still just as less prominent as in the first instalment. However, with the introduction of Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) tension and underlying feuds are formed between Mark and Simon, forcing the audience to be completely on edge as their secret renders their friendship untrustworthy.

Danny Boyle yet again fascinates his audience with his creative style. It’s hard to not feel slightly submersed into their lives with the visuals reflecting their mind and experiences. It’s clear The power of production design in this film is important, especially when Renton returns to his old room, I felt haunted by the memories of a baby crawling on his ceiling, while colours and overlaying of images throughout creage scene after scene of aesthetic enjoyment. It’s one of those movies where there is so much symbolism you’d love to stick your teeth into it and explore every hidden message or emotion just through the visuals on screen. It weaves in and out of reality and the fantastical effect of drugs on the mind, losing the audience in a frenzy of the real and the unreal. His non-chronological style and constant flashbacks to Trainspotting is a constant reminder of the importance of the events in the first film and their memories of childhood and fun, it’s as if all of them are desperate to reminisce in the past before the end suddenly catches up with them. Lack of time and being able to accept it is a strong theme throughout the film.

What I found more enjoyable about T2 was the humour. I found myself laughing constantly, mostly at Spud and his childlike exterior. But also, because of how much it reminded me of the first Trainspotting. It was a two hour long stint of nostalgia, not just for the characters on screen but for the audience. The classic shots of Renton running through Edinburgh flashes you instantly back to watching the original, as if actually experiencing Edinburgh all over again; the character’s one true home, and ours with them.

Less shocking and disturbing than the first film, it definitely tugs on the heart strings. Spud’s character is vital in the movie for sympathy and pathos. It’s even clear how the men’s past drug experiences have affected their conscience; we can see the pain they still hold twenty years on. I guess… what is nostalgia without feeling completely overwhelmed with sadness too?

I also can’t finish without mentioning the soundtrack. From the second it starts to the end it’s jam packed with tracks that provide such power to the film.

A throwback film, cleverly made, incredibly written, acted perfectly, edited creatively, revolutionary, relatable and regretful. Choose life. Choose nostalgia. Choose T2.

-Frankly Film

 

The Accountant 

The Accountant follows the story of a math genius, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), who works freely as an accountant for some of the most wanted criminals. When a young and much less experienced accountant, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) spots a flaw in the books of a huge Robotics Company, Wolff is called in to investigate the possibility of corruption worth millions of dollars. The story tangents off following different characters and their connection to Wolff, revealing more about their intentions as the film goes on.
Affleck takes on the role of Christian Wolff, the accountant. Not only is he a math genius but he’s actually on the autistic spectrum so math proves a lot easier for him, than socialising. This means that Anna Kendrick’s character, Dana, provides the perfect balance in bringing out the empathetic side to Christian. At first when I realised Anna Kendrick was in this film I was surprised, I didn’t believe she would fit into the serious mood of this action thriller. On the contrary she provided a strong performance, enough to match up with Affleck’s wonderful portrayal of both the strengths and weakness’ of an autistic personality, and her natural humour was relaxing and comforting, much like it was for Wolff.

Some of the lengthy flashbacks started to drag but it was clear there was a purpose to them. I found myself constantly making guesses to what the twist could be. It was obvious there was going to be one. This unfortunately came with a lot of sub plots, so finding the purpose for each storyline was problematic, until the end of the film, where I struggled to know if the resolution was worth it. The twist, although once revealed felt so obvious, I didn’t suspect it, making my enjoyment all the more fulfilled. I thought J.K Simmons storyline as Ray King, a member of the Crime Enforcement Division, who is out to find Christian Wolff with the help of Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) a younger officer forced to track him down, was a bit messy and slightly unnecessary. Apart from their great acting I was very underwhelmed by the reveal that King had come across Wolff in his past and wanted to find him for nostalgic reasons rather than for his profession.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this film. It wasn’t just another action movie; it connected with me in a different way. Not only is there excitement and adrenaline there is also pathos and humour. Without being in your face romantic, the romance between Christian and Dana felt even more powerful without being acted upon. Christian’s smile to himself in the final scene actually overwhelmed me slightly as I felt I knew a secret about the connection that Christian and Dana had and I was completely satisfied with the ending even though we don’t see them reunite. Don’t let me forget that this action is also the perfect mixture of tension and climax. Each quiet moment and simple cinematography is combined with an intense scene of fights and dramatic music. It is definitely one of the most heartfelt, interesting and satisfying actions of the year.

“Sooner or later, different scares people.” – The Accountant (2016) 

-Frankly Film

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange… the newest film from the Marvel Universe sees Benedict Cumberbatch tackle the demand for the next superhero. When Dr Strange, the best surgeon in is field, encounters a life changing accident he seeks recovery from a spiritual life in Hong Kong led by ‘The Ancient One’ (Tilda Swinton). As he grows to become a powerful sorcerer he has a hard decision to make; to get his ‘perfect’ life back or to step into the true shoes of a superhero and defend the world against the darkness trying to engulf it.

I’m a fan of superhero movies. Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of good defeating evil; and overwhelming sense of morale and solidarity. However, after being disappointed by Civil War and feeling it was no different to the other movies in the Superhero franchise, my expectations for Doctor Strange were low. Boy was I wrong. Doctor Strange directed by Scott Derrickson is not like the rest. This Marvel movie is quite a marvel in itself. With its humour more effective than ever and graphics out of this world… quite literally, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our protagonist, Dr Stephen Strange, is much like Tony Stark. He is arrogant, wealthy and detached and i couldn’t help but feel frustrated with his way of life. However, this relationship develops as Strange grows throughout the film becoming selfless and humble. Within minutes of the film we see Strange conducting a brain operation. In the background an upbeat song is playing and I’m reminded of the opening sequence to Guardians of the Galaxy and how effective a catchy tune is in making me connect with the lead and feel a sudden sense of relaxation with this character. After his accident I also felt a great deal of pathos for him but found myself as the movie went on forgetting about the trauma he experienced and more interested in his new life as a sorcerer, much like Strange himself. Benedict played the frustration and cockiness and vulnerability perfectly… although I’m not sure how I felt about the goatee.

Both Rachel McAdams and Tilda Swinton provided interesting support cast. McAdams, Strange’s romantic interest, was very believable and added natural humour creating a relatable character for the audience. While the role of the Ancient One, was perfect for Swinton with her unique look and severe but authoritative persona. Chiwetel Ejifor, who played Mordo also added depth to the storyline as we begin to lose track of his agenda leaving many an enigma as the film ends, especially in the teaser. To be completely frank, Dr Strange’s cape was probably my favourite character. When a film is able to make an inanimate object both funny and comforting you know something must be right.

The graphics in this film not only support the expectations we have of fantastic fight scenes and fantastical super powers, but go further than that. With its Inception style CGI of time and place-manipulation i was taken on an unnatural journey making the movie feel even more out of this world than the storyline itself. The psychedelic graphics as Strange experiences his out-of-body experience began to make me feel as if I was lifting straight out of my cinema seat and falling into a trance too.

I think you could argue that it all seemed a little too unbelievable that an everyday man was able to just join a group of people and practise magic… if he can do it why isn’t everyone else joining the hype? But at the end of the day it’s a superhero movie. Anything is possible and it’s all about escape, forgetting the real world and enjoying the unbelievable.

I found the storyline and script to be engaging and easy to follow, it didn’t trail off into language too complex you find yourself zoning out. I did find some of the ‘inspirational speeches’ to be a little long-winded but I got over it and by the end I found myself desperate to sit through the extra 10 minutes of credits to find his next link into the movies. Cumberbatch did not disappoint and neither did Derrickson’s direction. A Marvel movie deserving of its name.

-Frankly Film

“Forget everything that you think you know.” – The Ancient One (Doctor Strange).

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train, directed by Tate Taylor (best known for his directorial role on The Help (2011), starring Emma Stone), is the newest film following the successful; Gone Girl and its Domestic Noir sub-genre. It follows the narrator Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) a divorcee who after losing her job is left to travel aimlessly on the train, daily, to and from New York. On this journey the train occasionally comes to a halt where, from a perfect spot, she watches over and imagines a life for a young couple living in a house; Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Hayley Bennett). This leads to her becoming entangled in a crime investigation when Megan goes missing. With her heavy drinking problem and the interference of her: past, ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) will Rachel be able to uncover the hidden truth?

I have to admit when it comes to the whole film over book situation, I tend to watch the film first and just ignore the fact people say the book is so much better. However, this time I took a stab in the dark and read the book first, written by Paula Hawkins. Actually … I read the book in three days as soon as I found out the film was in cinemas, finished it at 1.30am and went to see the film the same day. The book is exciting, easy to read but still so well written and I was unable to put it down. Therefore I couldn’t wait (not even a day) to watch the movie. With this though came the first time I truly experienced when people say “the book is so much better than the film.”

Now Emily Blunt is a wonderful actress, very diverse and natural, like someone you feel like you’ve known personally. She is what stands out to me in the film. Throughout it she goes through spouts of drunkenness which are presented in such a way you begin to lose track of what and who you can trust just like Rachel. Luke Evans also brings an edge of grunge and dark mystery perfect for Scott’s character as our allegiance with him shifts throughout the film. Ferguson and Bennett however were a new experience to me; which in reality should create believable characters, as I couldn’t associate them to another film. I found Megan’s character to be unbelievable and under-developed as her storyline was just woven into Rachel’s to create links but there was no real attachment to her. I don’t believe by seeing a character cry constantly that pathos can be created, we should feel connected to them somehow in order to build empathy. Although in the book, I do think we have a love hate relationship towards her as she is cold and heartless especially in her marriage. Still as her story is revealed we sympathise with her past and understand her much more, leaving us with regret for judging her by the end of the film. Bluntly, i experienced none of these emotions for Megan, to be frank I didn’t really care that she was missing. Now, I didn’t not, enjoy Justin Theroux in this film but there was something missing, maybe he was off with Megan? He wasn’t as kind or, to juxtapose that, as threatening as he could have been. His underlying protective hold on Rachel wasn’t particularly explored in a way I would have liked, leaving the end to fall flat for me.

I know that I, along with many others, had doubts about the change of setting from England to America and roughly five minutes into the film I felt my heart break with the Americanised suburban setting, nothing quite as traditionally British as I had envisioned. However, I had to sit back and enjoy this adaptation. I can’t exactly expect Tate Tyler to create my perfect vision for the film can i? I guess though that’s the beauty of it… diving into someone else’s imagination. The contrast between Rachel’s home to the other’s homes really revealed how separated she is from their world, her old world. I liked how this represented the more earthy character of Rachel contrasted to the “perfect” appearance of Tom’s and Megan’s homes. Their freshly cut lawns and pristine white houses are just a front for their lies and complicated relationships.

When it comes to the structure of the film I found it confusing and dis-jointed. The vast amount of cliché flashbacks and constant jumping from one scene to the next caused the movie to lose the build of tension. This also led to a lot of the characters becoming very under-developed and somehow key parts of the book seemed to have evaporated from the storyline entirely. Scott staying over at Rachel’s was just random and unexplained. Plus the final twist revealed through the friend whose party she disrupted in another cliché flashback made Tom’s true character trivial rather than menacing. Apparently everyone knew he was a dick… why didn’t Rachel? To be honest I thought that some characters that are key in the book such as Cathy (Rachel’s roommate) and Kamal Abdic (Megan’s Therapist) were so one-toned they might as well have just been forgotten. I don’t even think Inspector Gaskill, the good cop compared to Inspector Riley (Allison Janney) even got a line in. Maybe he went off to meet Tom and Megan for a while, or at least he was cut out to compensate for the constant drunken flashbacks and montages. I will say I did like the realistic violence in the final few scenes and found that I actually flinched; my first reaction in the entire movie.

Although I have a lot of issues with this film, it wasn’t horrendous. It was actually still enjoyable, and I can imagine someone who hasn’t read the book to have felt intrigued and been surprised by the twist. But honestly… go read the book. I felt more tension and excitement reading words off a page for three days than I did in two hours on a screen. It’s a real shame this didn’t live up to the potential it could have. If you have the choice and want to see a thrilling domestic noir, watch Gone Girl. There aren’t any trains in that one.

-Frankly Film

Where it all began…

So people always find it strange when I tell them that my favourite films are the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachael McAdams and many other talented actors. I always get this feeling that people never expect me to say that. I guess its understandable as it isn’t exactly a ‘critically acclaimed film’ but I thought I’d take a moment just to explain myself. Continue reading “Where it all began…”

My First Post

Welcome to the Frankly Film Blog.

Okay! So I’m a young student who is extremely passionate about films and decided to start this blog. In this blog I will write about films and how they have affected me, I will review films and actors and just generally look at the world of cinema. Don’t judge me too much, I’m extremely new to this and I have never blogged before. I plan to post as often as I can, possibly once a week and hope to express my love for film and share it with others.

Frankly Film

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