100 Word Review – Whiplash (2014)

I came out of this feeling like the skin on a snare drum that had been steadily tightened. Tense doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Andrew (Miles Teller) is a keen drummer in his first year at elite music school Schaeffer, determined to make a name for himself. When he is chosen for The Studio Jazz Band by acclaimed conductor Fletcher (JK Simmons) he this he’s on his way. Little does he know his fight is just beginning.

The relationship between these two actors is mesmerising. It is no surprise that Simmons won an Oscar for his role. He’s breathtaking.

100 Word Review – Inside Out (2015)

I cry at every Pixar film, so let’s take that as a given.

Inside Out follows Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) from the unique perspective of her governing emotions, as she moves to San Francisco for her dad’s work. Meet Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader) and Anger (Lewis Black).

Despite a couple of moments where they chose the easy stereotype, Pixar are on top form. Pete Doctor (Up, Monsters Inc) and Ronaldo Del Carmen (Ratatouille, Brave) wrote and directed it. It’s already #48 on IMDb’s Top 250.

No wonder I laughed, cried and felt all warm inside.

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100 Word Review – One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest (1975)

Jack Nicholson at his finest in this superb adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel about the inner workings of 1960s mental institutes.

McMurphy (Nicholson) pleads insanity rather than face his prison sentence thinking it will be the easier option. He is mistaken.

Louise Fletcher won an Oscar for her portrayal of the terrifying Nurse Ratchet; Nicholson nabbed one for Best Actor; Milos Foreman won Best Director: Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman were awarded Best Screenplay for their adaptation; and with the help of the marvellous cast (Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd) ensured the Best Picture win.

Little wonder it’s #15 on IMDb’s Top 250. 

100 Word Review – The Matrix (1999)

Currently sitting at 18 on the IMDb Top 250 list, it’s no exaggeration to say that this film was ground-breaking.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) is a computer hacker who is approached by a group of rebels (Carrie-Anne Moss, Lawrence Fishburne) intent on convincing him the world he knows may not be as it appears.

Writing and directing team the Wachowskis (V For Vendetta, Cloud Atlas) spent an $80 million making this the masterpiece that they envisioned and, considering they won four Oscars for the special effects, editing and sound, it was money well spent.

It’s the classic Sci Fi action that you can’t miss!

100 Word Review – Shutter Island (2010)

Another wonderful example of Martin Scorsese’s (The Departed, Goodfellas) attention to detail.

Set in 1954, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is partnered up with Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) and sent to Shutter Island, a hospital for the criminally insane, to investigate a patient’s escape.

Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone), this crime thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Emily Mortimer, Michelle Williams, Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson all co-star, each contributing brilliantly to the sense of dread and suspense present throughout. It currently sits at 194 in IMDb’s Top 250 list.

100 Word Review – Memento (2000)

Based on a short story by his brother Jonathan, this is the earliest Christopher Nolan film to make it on to the IMDb Top 250 list. It currently places at number 45.

Guy Pearce stars as Leonard, a man with short term memory loss on the hunt for his wife’s murderer. To cope with his disability he creates a strange system to help him remember and piece the clues together.

Full of violence, heartache and confusion, the story is told through two timelines running in opposite directions making this is more of a brain teaser than Inception could ever dream to be.

100 Word Review – Interstellar (2014)

One of the most naturalistically made big-budget Sci Fi’s I’ve seen.

Set about 50 years in the future, the world’s plagued by an inhospitable climate. Ex-astronaut turned farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is sent with a group of scientists (Anne Hathaway, Wes Bently, David Gyasi) through a wormhole to save mankind.

As this is a Christopher Nolan film, it’s full of twists, turns and pseudo-science. I’m yet to meet a physicist who watched it without laughing. However, it is great fun to watch; dramatic, beautiful and emotionally engaging.

Oscar-winning for its special effects, it currently sits at number 26 on IMDb’s Top 250 list.

100 Word Review – The Artist (2011)

If you haven’t seen this already where were you in 2011? It is a masterpiece of silent filmmaking in the modern age.

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and his dog are silent movie stars at the peak of their career in Hollywood’s golden years. He meets Peppy (Berenice Bejo) an aspiring dancer and helps her with her career. But as talking pictures takeover, their lives are sent spinning in very different directions.

Hilarious, romantic and dramatic, writer and director Michel Hazanavicius perfectly captured the essence of that tumultuous time in Hollywood’s history and translates it for a modern audience. It’s technically flawless!

Goodfellas – Films Don’t Have A Gender

Recently, a friend sent me a link to an article in the TPM referencing a New York Post Critic, Kyle Smith, and how “women are not capable of understanding Goodfellas“.

I honestly don’t know where to begin. Should I first handle the obviously ludicrous implication that 52% of the population are the same because they were lucky enough to be born with a uterus, or the idiotic idea that gender dictates taste, intelligence or capability to understand popular culture?

Having spent the best part of my life watching films which are generally considered “masculine” I can tell the difference between the good, the bad and the down-right ugly.

(While I’m on the subject, why is it that films with a female lead are considered “feminine” or “girly” and therefore not to be taken seriously? I asked a friend recently if he had seen Bridesmaids, to which his response was a laughing “it’s a girls film”, as if that was reason enough! “Chick flick” is such a degrading phrase. Why isn’t there a male equivalent? Could “dick flicks” be a thing? I know there are “bromances” but they’re not quite the same thing, are they? Obviously, films starring male comedians are fun for all the family, but as soon as you place women in the starring role they are not suitable for men. Here was me thinking that a sense of humour transcended gender. Anyway, where was I…)

I like Goodfellas. As is often the case with Martin Scorsese’s work, it is a well constructed story full of three-dimensional characters which is beautifully shot. Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are perfect in their roles, indeed Pesci won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. But beyond this, it is bloody brilliant. It is full of suspense, violence and humour and, for those of us who are not part of the mafia, allows us to escape and experience another world.

But this is all beside the point. It doesn’t matter that I am a woman. I do not speak for all women, I would not dare to. In the same way that I would not presume that Kyle Smith speaks for all men, or all Americans or even all Goodfellas fans. I understand that critics are constantly looking for different angles from which to tackle their subject matter, and being controversial is an excellent way to get free publicity.

It’s a shame that this particular critic has decided to cross that line between controversial and idiotic. I hope for his sake that he doesn’t believe what he has written. Lines such as “What would “GoodFellas” be like if it were told by a woman?” and “women are the sensitivity police” show such a lack of understanding. To say that a film which managed to get to number 17 on the IMDb Top 250 Films isn’t beyond the comprehension of half the world is… well, I’m speechless.

It must be very difficult to live in such a polarised world. If Goodfellas and other Scorsese films have taught us nothing else, it’s that people are always more complicated than they appear.