Cats (2019) Movie Review

Director: Tom Hooper

Writer: Lee Hall, Tom Hooper (Screenplay) Andrew Lloyd Webber (Musical)

Starring: James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, Francesca Hayward, Laurie Davidson, Ian McKellen, Ray Winstone

Plot: A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.

Tagline – The Must-See Musical Event 

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Cats starts when cat Victoria (Hayward) gets abandoned in the streets, when the other stray cats look to welcome her to their world, where they look to compete to enter a new Jellicle life, one that Mr Mistoffelees (Davidson) guides her through, meeting the different cats with different talents to win the attention, while the evil Macavity (Elba) lurks in the shadows, hoping to take this spot, by eliminating any competition.

Thoughts on Cats

Characters & Performances – Victoria is the latest cat to be thrown away by humans, she finds herself entering the Jellicles cat tribe on the streets, she must navigate this world learning the different talents of the other cats, she is the audience’s entrance into this world. This is one of the hardest films to judge performances, because there is so much terrible CGI around the acting, but when it comes to the singing, Francesca Hayward is one of the few stars in the film that manages to bring their a-game to the singing. Macavity is the evil cat that wants to take the spot in the new life, he will take any of the contenders to make sure he is the only one able to be selected using his magic to make them vanish. Grizabella is the outsider that was drawn by Macavity, only to find herself exiled to the outside world, alone, until Victoria offers her friendship. Deuteronomy is the cat the others must impress to get their chance to have a new life, the cats all respect her and she will find time for them. Jennifer Hudson gives us one of the only other good moments through the film with the Memory performance that could well have saved this movie from being completely awful.

StoryThe story here follows a young cat thrown out by their owner, who ends up trying to join a tribe of Jellicle cats looking to have a new life, where she must explore the world to learn what is wanted from the tribe. This is based on the musical that ran for decades and if the story is anything like the film, it does seem confusing because it does seem like a complete mess of a story. It is plenty of just introducing a character for a song and move on, while we do have an attempt of trying to get the message of letting people into life and accepting all, even if that does seem to get pushed away too often.

ThemesCats is a musical with only two songs that stand out, with the rest coming off like talking weird over singing, the special effects are dreadful for a movie with such a big budget, with nothing looking complete, and most looking completely creepy over convincing. The sets are just as confusing, with some being human size, while others are cat scale down size, just what happened.

Final Thoughts Cats, just what happened here?

Saturday Church (2017) Movie Review

Director: Damon Cardasis

Writer: Damon Cardasis (Screenplay)

Starring: Luka Kain, Indya Moore, Mj Rodriguez, Margot Bingham, Jaylin Fletcher, Regina Taylor

Plot: A 14 year-old-boy, struggling with gender identity and religion, begins to use fantasy to escape his life in the inner city and find his passion in the process.

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Important

Story: Saturday Church starts as we meet 14-year-old Ulysses (Kain) who has just lost his father, meaning his mother Amara (Bingham) needs to work more leaving Aunt Rose (Taylor) looking after Ulysses and his little brother Abe (Fletcher).

Ulysses gets bullied at school, with his family knowing he likes to cross dress, after he meets Ebony (Rodriguez) he starts to learn about the trans community in the city, where he gets to learn about himself and understand his own gender identity.

Thoughts on Saturday Church

Characters – Ulysses is a teenage boy that has been struggling with his identity, he likes women’s clothing, only his family is against everything he is trying to understand, with his aunt pushing him away more than anyone else. Ulysses meets other trans people who help him understand the stigma he will face in life, but show him that everything will be ok in the end for him. Amara is the over the works mother of Ulysses, not only has she lost her husband, but she needs to support the two boys, she tries to discourage Ulysses, but will learn to accept that his happiness is the most important thing. Ebony introduces Ulysses to the Saturday Church, a place where the LGBTQ community can meet and feel safe, learn how to become accepted in the world that often shuns them. Aunt Rose is against Ulysses not being a straight black man, threatening to beat it out of him, bring even more problems in his life.

PerformancesLuka Kain in the leading role is brilliant, showing the insecurity he is feeling, while showing the delight around the people that bring him to life. While the rest of the cast do a great job showing the struggles they have been through or are going through.

StoryThe story here follows a 14-year-old boy that is stuck trying to figure out his gender identity, where he learns who would be in his life during this stage of his life, where he needs them most. This does show us how difficult it could be for a teenager going through a gender identity crisis, seeing how not having supporting in life, can bring on a form of depression until the support needed is found. It shows us how the stigma around Ulysses can ruin self-confidence, but once embraced he will come out of his shell to become a better man.

MusicalThe musical side of the film comes from the fantasies that Ulysses uses to escape the struggles he is facing in life.

SettingsThe film uses the New York setting to show the different worlds around, showing that in every corner of the city will have somewhere you could belong in.

Scene of the Movie – Musical numbers.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The school attitude.

Final Thoughts This is important drama that shows the struggles people who are struggling with gender identity will face in life, with them needing to find a place they can become themselves in.

Overall: Drama worth watching.

Hamilton (2020) Movie Review

Director: Thomas Kail

Writer: Lin-Manuel Miranda (Screenplay)

Starring: Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Chris Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Plot: The real life of one of America’s foremost founding fathers and first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Captured live on Broadway from the Richard Rodgers Theater with the original Broadway cast.

Runtime: 2 Hours 40 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Beautiful

Story: Hamilton starts as Alexander Hamilton (Miranda) arrives in the middle of the Revolutionary War, where he finds himself as the righthand man to George Washington (Jackson), as they look to gain their freedom from King George (Groff). Alexander is a fighter and finds it hard to step away from the conflict, despite his marriage to Eliza (Soo) and his growing family wanting him to leave the conflict behind.

After the war Alexander is assigned to join George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (Diggs) to try and find a solution to rebuild the country, which only brings more clashes between the men.

Thoughts on Hamilton

Final Thoughts This is a stage version of the largely popular musical Hamilton, one that brings a new look at home the independence of America happened, be it from escaping England’s hold and tries to build themselves are their own country, without the leadership in place. You will need to know the basics of American history before going in, even if this does bring spins to certain parts. When it comes to the music involved, we do get some brilliant songs, that do help cover the weaker songs involved, with the whole cast getting their moment to shine in the musical moments. This is one of the musical that does bring a full range of music, which does have the traditional styles, mixed with the modern music that makes you unsure on what each song will bring you. The opening song isn’t as hooking as many musicals, but once you are past that one, you could find yourself swept away in the play.

Overall: Magical Musical.

Emma Stone Weekend – La La Land (2016) Movie Review – Revisited

Director: Damien Chazelle

Writer: Damien Chazelle (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons

Plot: While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.

Tagline – Here’s to the fools who dream.

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Delightful

Story: La La Land starts as we meet jazz singer Sebastian (Gosling) who has always had his own vision of what he wants his music to be which sees him struggle to keep jobs in Hollywood, let alone pay his bills. Mia (Stone) is an aspiring actress that is going through auditions, while working as a coffee shop on the studio lot.

After a couple of chance meetings, the two start a whirlwind romance that sees both their dreams start to come true in Hollywood, only at what price, can success in love and dreams work together?

Thoughts on La La Land

Characters – Sebastian loves jazz music, he has always had his own style when it comes to the music he is expected to play, he doesn’t understand how people don’t like jazz either, he has jumped between jobs because of his style and once he gets involved in a relationship with Mia, he must decide whether to have a secure gig or continue chasing his dreams of opening his own jazz bar. Mia is the aspiring actress that goes to countless auditions without getting much success, working on the studio lot, until she starts to take her own chance with her one person show. These two characters show the fairly tale dream chases that always believe they could make it and with each other in their lives they achieve more than they imagined.

PerformancesRyan Gosling and Emma Stone are truly fantastic in the lead roles of this film, they show us just how easily somebody’s passion can take a toll on their lives.

StoryThe story here follows an aspiring musician and an aspiring actress who meet, fall in love right as their careers start to skyrocket in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. The story does show how dreamers can be led down paths which would see them push people away in their lives, we are left to see how this does feel like a giant fantasy between the two, after one maybe encounter to show how love and careers just take off, which I have always believed is in their heads, rather than in reality. This does have a fairy tale feel to it, which is nice to see and will be you entertained through the film.

Comedy/Musical/RomanceThe comedy in the film comes from the natural conversations the pair go through, with the romance showing how we see love being difficult to understand at times. The musical side of the film is the way everybody is willing to sing and dance around town.

SettingsThe film is set in Hollywood, which reflects the idea of the dreams that the characters have.

Scene of the Movie – The 5 years.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t get enough out of the supporting characters.

Final Thoughts This is a beautiful fairy tale of life in Hollywood, it puts everything out there in a dream like reality of a life we all wish we could live, one that lets us follow our dreams.

Overall: Beautiful Fairy Tale of Hollywood.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – Y – Yesterday (2019) Movie Review

Director: Danny Boyle

Writer: Jack Barth, Richard Curtis (Screenplay)

Starring: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino, Ellise Chappell, Meera Syal, Harry Michell, Vincent Franklin, Ed Sheeran, Joel Fry

Plot: A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.

Tagline – Everyone in the World Has Forgotten the Beatles. Everyone Except Jack

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Enjoyable Throughout

Story: Yesterday starts as we meet musician Jack Malik (Patel) who when he isn’t performing, works a dead-end job in a cash-n-carry. Jack gets his first festival in Latitude Festival thanks to his manager Ellie Appleton (James), which makes Jack realise he might walk away from music, until on his way home a shocking event around the world sees all power down for 12 seconds and Jack gets hit by a bus, waking up in a world where The Beatles never existed.

Jack uses the ideas that The Beatles never existed to start singing the songs, which sudden thrusts the spotlight onto the young singer, who sudden burst into international stardom, only can he live with the knowledge of the music he is singing is from the most famous band in the world.

Thoughts on Yesterday

Characters – Jack Malik is a small-time musician who only performs in his own free time, while trying to balance a part-time job in a warehouse. He does have talent, only he hasn’t been discovered yet, he is about to give up when he gets hit by a bus in a freak event around the world. He wakes up to discover he is the only person to have heard of The Beatles and decides to use this knowledge to give music on more crack, where his rise to super stardom is sudden and he must learn to adapt to this new career. Ellie Appleton has been the best friend, manager, rodeo and driver for his music career, secretly in love with him, unable to give up her teaching career to follow his new success. Rocky has been involved in music only he tends to let people down, he is however the only person that Jack can turn to for help for his new stardom. We get to meet Jack’s parents who have always supported him, Ed Sheeran playing himself discovering the new talent in Jack and the manager who takes Jack to the next level with his debut album.

PerformancesHimesh Patel is brilliant in the leading role where he handles the singing with ease as well as the troubles that his character goes through in his sudden rise to fame. Lily James as the girl next door figure is wonderful to watch to, never looking out of place in the manager role. The rest of the cast do nothing wrong, you might see a couple of weakness in some of the performances in the film though.

StoryThe story follows a musician that is involved in an accident only to discover that when he wakes up, The Beatles don’t exist, using this knowledge to make himself a mega star, while dealing with his own love problems. This is a story that does work if things are kept just around the idea of The Beatles not being around, where the story does seem to use as a little joke, other major products or bands also haven’t existed either, they are only used for jokes rather than being proper points in the story. Away from that weak point we do get to see the struggling to deal with sudden fame and the guilt for using the songs of somebody he idolises. This story is one that can be enjoyed even if you are not a Beatles fan too.

Comedy/Musical/RomanceThe comedy in the film will get laughs where it needs to, we aren’t given constant jokes either, with the music side of the film playing into the strengths of all Beatles fans who will get to enjoy their favourites. The romance in the film does take centre stage, with how the two are left to wonder what if through their lives, showing how people are tempted to let people go or not for stardom.

SettingsThe film uses the small town where Jack is from, which shows the struggle of a small town musician, LA where things move so fast and Liverpool where the inspiration can be found.

Scene of the Movie – Wembley.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The other random disappearing products, just being a joke, rather than a point in the story.

Final Thoughts This is an enjoyable comedy musical, that will show the importance of love in the world, how music can make people famous and just how far people will go for a chance of stardom.

Overall: Enjoyable