100 Word Review – Moana (2016)

Nominated for two Oscars, including best animated feature, Disney’s latest princess is a chieftain’s daughter, chasing a demigod.

Written and directed by the hands behind Aladdin, Hercules and Princess and The Frog, this film is a wonderful and refreshing look at Polynesian mythology with a family friendly feel.

Music from the award-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda (writer of Broadway sensation Hamilton), and star performances from the likes of Jemaine Clement (What We Do In The Shadows) and Alan Tudyk (Frozen, Serenity).

Newcomer Auli’i Cravalho is wonderful as Moana but Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as arrogant demigod Maui manages to steal the show.

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100 Word Review – Brave (2012)

The first Pixar film with a female protagonist, it also won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Set in medieval Scotland, Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) refuses to marry a prince, defying her father (Billy Connolly) and causing more arguments with her mother (Emma Thompson). When a witch (Julie Walters) offers her a way out, she takes it without considering the consequences.

Full of the feel of Celtic myths and a magic that is integral to both the story and the feel of the film, this is a wonderful family movie. Although sometimes overlooked, this is another example of Pixar’s genius.

100 Word Review – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

It’s not often you see Jim Carrey in a serious film, and I’m not sure why because he’s brilliant in this.

At the end of their relationship, Joel (Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergo a procedure to have each other removed from their memories.

As would be expected with a film written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and directed by Michel Gondry (Be Kind Rewind, The Science of Sleep), it’s equal parts wacky and beautiful.

The film is far from linear and takes you on an extraordinary journey filled with romance, laughter as well as darkness and despair.

100 Word Review – Network (1976)

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

When an ageing news anchor (Peter Finch) announces his suicide live on air, TV execs (Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Duvall) look to exploit the spike in ratings.

Directed by Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon), this film won 4 Oscars including both Best Actor and Best Actress, and was nominated for a further 6.

Dark, cynical and provocative, it is a magnificent example of the power of filmmaking, successfully hitting a little too close to home no matter what decade you’re watching it in. Currently #181 on IMDb’s Top 250.

100 Word Review – Room (2015)

Adapted from the best selling novel by Emma Donoghue by the author herself, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did), this film perfectly captures the sense of claustrophobia and terror of the two awe-inspiring leads.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) is five. He has lived his whole life in one room with his mother (Brie Larson), visited only by their captor, Old Nick (Sean Bridges).

A heartbreaking story that there are far too many chilling modern day examples of. Tremblay is extraordinary, and Larson is well deserving of her Oscar. Currently #119 on IMDb’s Top 250, make sure you’re prepared to cry.

100 Word Review – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

Someone told me that if I’d seen the original trilogy and enjoyed it, I would like this film and in a way had already seen it. Having now seen it, I would agree.

The original cast is back for the continuation of the story thirty years after the Empire was destroyed by the rebels. Expect plenty of references to the original trilogy and director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8, Lost) does a wonderful job of combining the old and the new in a way that makes me very excited to see what comes next. Currently number 78 on IMDb’s top 250 films.

100 Word Review – The Departed (2006)

If the film that (finally) won Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Shutter Island) his Oscar isn’t worth watching, then I’m not sure what is.

Screenplay by William Monaghan (Body of Lies, Edge of Darkness), it’s set in the duplicitous world inhabited by Boston’s mafia and law enforcement.

Intense, beautifully shot and with a cast to die for (Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Ray Winston), it has a truly brilliant soundtrack.

With four Oscars and at #43 on IMDb’s Top 250, I’d call it perfect, if only there were some strong women in it.

100 Word Review – Coraline (2009)

Disappointed and frustrated by her life, Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) discovers an alternate reality in which everything is the same but better. What dark secrets could such a place be hiding?

Based on a novel by the always remarkable Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Mirrormask) and adapted and directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach), this is a beautiful family animation with a dark and twisted underbelly only found in the best children’s stories.

Nominated for an Oscar and with some recognisable voices (listen out for French and Saunders) this film is quite simply brilliant.

100 Word Review – Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Susanna (Winona Ryder) is committed by her parents after combining pills and vodka in what they see as an attempted suicide. In Cleymore mental hospital she meets the other patients, including the rabble rousing sociopath Lisa (Angelina Jolie)

Adapted from Susanna Kaysen’s autobiographical account of her 18 month stay in a mental hospital in 1960s by the writers of Gorillas In The Mist and Walk The Line.

The fantastic cast includes Whoopi Goldberg, Vanessa Redgrave, Elisabeth Moss, Brittany Murphy, Clea DuVall and Jared Leto; and that\s not even mentioning Jolie’s Oscar winning performance. This film is dark, magnificent and truly unforgettable. 

100 Word Review – The Sound of Music (1965)

Let’s start with the obvious; if you don’t like musicals you won’t like this film.

Set during the run up to Nazi Germany’s occupation of Austria, Sister Maria (Julie Andrews) leaves her convent to act as governess to a widower’s (Christopher Plummer) seven children (Charmain Carr, Heather Menzies-Urich, Nicholas Hammond, Duane Chase, Debbie Turner and Kym Karath).

Based on the stage musical and directed by Robert Wise (West Side Story), it won five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.

It’s a beautifully made film that you’ll be able to sing along to parts the first time you watch it.