Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Director: Simon Curtis

Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Simon Vaughan (Screenplay)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Macdonald, Will Tilston, Alex Lawther, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

 

Plot: A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by his son C.R. Milne.


Tagline – Inspired by the True Story

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: By the Books Biopic

 

Story: Goodbye Christopher Robin starts as we see how Alan Milne (Gleeson) a World War I soldier and playwriter is struggling to come up with new ideas and struggling with the effects of war on his everyday life. With his wife Daphne (Robbie) a socialite that loves the fame. When they have a child Christopher Robin they hire Olive (Macdonald) to be nanny as the family move to the country.

With Christopher (Tilston) now aged 8, Alan is left to look after Christopher alone where the two start going on adventures in the woods, where Alan gets the inspiration to write the adventures of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, but when the fame brings him an unwanted attention on his young son who will be left with the brand of being Christopher Robin for life.

 

Thoughts on Goodbye Christopher Robin

 

Characters – Alan Milne served in the First World War, he was never the same when he returned as he has lost his ability to write and be around the crowds, moving his family to the country to work on an anti-war book he ends up building a relationship with his son, which gives him the inspiration for the Winnie the Pooh books. Alan did seem like he was a distant sole that never recovered from the horrors of war. Daphne is the wife of Alan, she loves the busy life with the other high society people, she hates the country and has no idea on parenthood. She uses the new found fame to put the family back in the spotlight not worrying about the consequences. Christopher Robin is the son of the family, he has an open imagination which creates the adventures, he was raised by his nanny, but when the books takes off he becomes an international celebrity that can’t handle the pressure he is put under, taking away part of his childhood. Olive is the nanny that raises Christopher, the two become closer than the parents making her decision to leave all the more difficult.

PerformancesThe performances across the board are good, Domhnall Gleeson does a good job in the leading role as does Margot Robbie giving us a character you just don’t want to like. Will Tilston shines as Christopher with all the innocence needed for the role.

StoryLearning the creation of the Winnie the Pooh characters is what we were expecting here, what we got was the difficult relationship Christopher Robin had with his parents, while Alan could be forgiven because of his PTSD Daphne just comes off clueless to the idea of children. We also see how child stars can struggle with fame and the brand that will follow them for life. This story does lack the spark that could have made it magical but does show a couple of important messages just not in the fullest and most effective way.

Biopic/HistoryThe creature of Winnie the Pooh, a man that suffered the horrors of war but found his happiness in his own son. That is the most part of the biopic and history side of the film, learning how the characters were created together in the small moment of father son time.

SettingsThe settings are good, they show the crowded side of life in the city and the moments of peace in the country showing how the two worlds give different inspiration.


Scene of the Movie –
Pooh Sticks

That Moment That Annoyed Me There should have been that little bit more magic about this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard biopic, it doesn’t hit all the marks to make it great but the performances from the whole cast are good throughout the film.

 

Overall: Watchable biopic that tries to pull on the heart.

Rating

 

 

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First They Killed My Father (2017)

Director: Angelina Jolie

Writer: Loung Ung, Angelina Jolie (Screenplay) Loung Ung (Book)

Starring: Sareum Srey Moch, Phoeung Kompheak, Sveng Socheata, Mun Kimhak, Heng Dara, Khoun Sothea

 

Plot: Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung recounts the horrors she suffered as a child under the rule of the deadly Khmer Rouge.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Unbelievable Battle for Survival

 

Story: First They Killed My Father starts as America pulls out their troops from Cambodia giving the Khmer Rouge a chance to move into the cities, forcing 5-year-old Loung Ung (Moch) to flee with her family, leaving everything behind, becoming slaves to the Khmer Rouge.

We follow through the eyes of Loung the horrors she and her people go through during the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge as the child’s point of view of this heartache shows the true horrors in Cambodia during the Cambodian genocide.

 

Thoughts on First They Killed My Father

 

Characters – Loung is our main and only character we truly get introduced to, it is her story of survival during the Cambodian genocide, we see everything through her eyes, how her privileged life is ripped from her to become a homeless refugee forced to work for the Khmer Rouge, she learns about the world, how to survive hoping to find her family together again. The other characters we meet include her family and other people trying to survive.

PerformancesSareum Srey Moch is brilliant in the leading role of the film, for a child actor you feel the characters pain and confusion through the events of the film. the rest of the performers are great throughout the film too.

StoryThe way this story is told is that we watch the events through the eyes of the young girl Loung and you can see this through the film, the idea of the genocide is known so we don’t need to know the political side of any of this story, just how one victim from it survived it. See a story we have seen before, see The Killing Fields did need a new look and the innocent view of the girl does make this stand up to be counted.

Biographical/HistorySeeing what Loung Ung went through is heart breaking and seeing how the people of Cambodian people were treated by the Khmer Rouge reign of terror.

SettingsEach setting shows us the comfortable world Loung was in and slowly how desperate her battle to survive became, we have some excellent camera shots to show us the bleakness in the world we are seeing here.


Scene of the Movie –
Mine field.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It’s a hard watch if you want to know what happened to all of Loung’s family.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hard film to watch because of the subject matter, but it is a must watch when you know this sort of thing still goes on throughout the world.

 

Overall: A must watch.

Rating

 

 

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Nicholas Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend, Allan Corduner

 

Plot: The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Believe Your Dreams

 

Story: Florence Foster Jenkins starts in 1944 as Florence (Streep) performs alongside her husband St Clair Bayfield (Grant) with the theatrical performance for the people of New York City. After Florence falls out with her current pianist the couple must find a new one, Cosme McMoon (Helberg) fills the void perfectly as her new venture into opera.

There is one big problem with this dream, Florence simply can’t sing and even with her vocal coach Carlo Edwards (Haig) any stage performance is a distant dream. Once the first show happens the elite of the friends all love the show for the wrong reasons, and to make matter worse St Clair has been having an affair with Kathleen (Ferguson).

Once Florence’s song make the radio she continues wanting to support the soldiers returning from war even with St Clair wanting to hold her back from the embarrassment she could cause herself.

 

Thoughts on Florence Foster Jenkins

 

Characters/PerformanceFlorence is a woman that has been shielded from the world for her whole life, she has only been respected by her power in society. When she wants to sing her own style of opera she does become a laughing stock but on a level where the everyday man can enjoy her attempts. St Clair is the supportive husband who also hasn’t lived his dreams but living off the money Florence is giving him, he happily cheats on her but knows the funds will end if he gets caught. Mr McMoon is the brilliant pianist who is grateful for the chance to play alongside the high society but questions where his career could go after working with Florence.

Performance wise, Meryl Streep was fantastic as always in the leading role with Hugh Grant giving us one of his best performances in years. Simon Helberg steps up from television to give us a performance we all know he is capable off and never looks out of place next to the bigger names.

StoryThe story shows us what it is like to follow your dreams even if you don’t have the talent, while this does focus a lot more on the idea of being protected by the lack of talent it is the similar style you would treat your own child who enjoys something they are not going to succeed at. I do feel the story shows the divide we once had between the rich and powerful to the everyday person which is clear to see with how the music is received.

Biography/Comedy/MusicFlorence is an incredible brave lady who showed if you want to try something at any age you can try, even if you are not the best. The comedy in this film is light hearted throughout which I did enjoy with the music adding to the comedy going on through the film.

SettingsThe settings created show us the time period the film is set in perfectly with New York being the main location.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable movie that people can get a laugh out of without being stuck wondering what is going on or not admiring Florence.

 

Overall: One to be watched and enjoyed.

Rating

 

 

The Iron lady (2011)

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Writer: Abi Morgan (Screenplay)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Richard E Grant, Olivia Coleman, Alexandra Roach, Iain Glen

 

Plot: An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Biopic

 

Story: The Iron Lady starts as we meet an elderly former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Streep) who has been having conversations with her husband Denis (Broadbent) while finding herself trying to escape the guards guarding her.

Margaret (Roach, younger Margaret) has flashbacks to the war time the lessons her father Alfred (Glen) gave her in life as she gets into Oxford. Getting through Oxford she meets Denis who loves her determined mindset on making change, we continue to watch in flashbacks as the elderly Margaret remembers her rise through political career to become one of the most famous Prime Ministers England has every had.

 

Thoughts on The Iron Lady

 

Characters/PerformanceMargaret Thatcher is easily one of the most iconic Prime Ministers England has ever had, seeing how her life from humble grocery’s daughter to leader of a country comes about, she was one of the strongest women in history taking on the world centred around men, but in her elderly age she looks back at her role in defying the country. Denis is her husband, we see how he keeps her grounded even after he passes on he plays a big part in what she sees when looking back. The rest of the characters are people from her life, her whole life which all have an impact on the decision-making process.

Performance wise, Meryl Streep is fantastic and you can see why she went on to win the Oscar. Jim Broadbent is fun in this role as the husband both alive and dead talking to Margaret. The rest of the cast all go great even if this is the Meryl Streep Show.

StoryWe all know that Margaret Thatcher is one of the most famous prime minsters the UK ever had. This film focuses on how Margaret was looking back on the key incident leading to her run to Prime Minister, through it and what led to the end of it. I really liked how we looked back without getting bogged down with the politics of her reign. The story is told as if a once great leader looked at what she sees as success and failure.

BiographyThis is a great look at Margaret Thatcher, a woman who came from a family of groceries to become leader of the Prime Minister, we see the good and bad moments of her life as well as paving the way for women in politics.

SettingsEach setting used fits the time we are seeing, nothing looks out of place for this great moment she lives through.

Final ThoughtsHaving a history lesson can sometimes get boring when looking at one person’s life, but this doesn’t focus on this too much instead looks at the idea of how she remembers everything.

 

Overall: This is a biopic with a difference and well worth a watch.

Rating

 

 

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

straightDirector: F Gary Gray

Writer: Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff (Screenplay) S Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, Andrea Beroff (Story)

Starring: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr, Aldis Hodge, Marlon Yates Jr, R Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson, Alexandra Shipp, Paul Giamatti

 

Plot: The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important but Long Bio-Pic

 

Story: Straight Outta Compton starts by introducing us to all our five main players and where they are at their life early on Ice Cube (Jackson Jr), Eazy-E (Mitchell), DJ Yella (Brown Jr) and MC Ren (Hodge), each one of these dreams of being more and they all have talent but the neighbourhood they are in makes this difficult for them. Dr Dre (Hawkins) is the well-respected popular rapper from the neighbourhood who continues to live around looking for new music.

When Eazy-E meets Jerry Heller (Giamatti) he offers to take a chance on the NWA promising to take them to the main stream. With NWA taking the world by storm we see the early divides within the group as they all look to make something for themselves but Gangster Rap becomes the biggest thing in America.

The rivalries between the crew becomes clear when Ice Cube goes solo and the rest of the NWA learns that not everything is as clear as they believe it to be as they all want to become the main attraction in the industries which will lead to devastating consequences.

Straight Outta Compton is a film that surrounded the Oscars as one of the missed opportunity to be diverse but watching it I found myself thinking it didn’t deserve to be in the Oscar contention. This doesn’t help that I am not a big fan of the style of music or the attitude this can give show people from the neighbourhood to be. The other use of the ‘N’ word throughout the film gives us what can be seen as the problem with a racial divide. The story off the rise of a small-time rap group is interesting and seeing how they got divided but remain respectful but are the only ones who know what they need to do to get out of the trouble making neighbourhood.

The acting is all top notch from what is nearly all an unknown cast at the time in the NWA roles even with the heavyweight performance from Giamatti ones again. I will say this film is too long because we spend well over an hour just dealing with the parties but the interesting side of the story comes from the divide and consequences between these now icons of music.

 

Overall: Great look into the world even if it is over glamorising certain points of the careers.

Ratingcard