Split

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For so long the words An M. Night Shyamalan film was something to be dreaded. Then The Visit showed that Shyamalan could still produce a decent if unremarkable movie. Now his latest movie Split is supposedly a return to form and last night I got a chance to see an advance screening of the film before it’s general UK release on Friday.

Three teenagers are kidnapped by a man named Kevin (James McAvoy) who suffers from a form of dissociative identity disorder. Kevin has 23 distinct personality and the 24th is on it’s way, and the girls must escape before he arrives.

Breathe a sigh of relief everyone, for Shyamalan is well and truly back. Long may the likes of The Lady in the Water and The Happening remain a distant memory ! In all serious though Split was a great movie and I really enjoyed watching it. Instead of getting lost on a tangent Shyamalan’s focus seems much clearer in Split, with the story and pacing feeling much tighter then his previous efforts.

The cast is good, and Anna Taylor-Joy makes good on her early promise in The Witch as one of the kidnapped girls. However this is McAvoy’s show, who despite playing numerously distinct different personalities doesn’t descend into caricatures or overacts. Each performace is finely judged and flips between creepy, to humorous to compassionate without drawing you out of the moment.

For those expecting more out and out horror Split is more about building tension and the fear of whether personality number 24 actually exist and what they will be like if they do come out. Some may also be disappointed that, despite the film’s marketing focusing heavily on Kevin’s 23 personalities, we only see a select number of them.

So not up there with The Six Sense or, my personal favourite of his, Unbreakable but Split shows there’s still hope for Shyamalan’s career yet.

Oh and if you are thinking of going to see Split I would do it soon as the last scene is something a lot of people will be talking about (the audience I saw it with was buzzing with chatter as soon as the film ended). So see it before someone spoils it for you.

Rating 4/5 – with some help from McAvoy, Shyamalan is back to making good films-at last!

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Rapid Review: Office Christmas Party

To save  his staff’s jobs from his spiteful sister and CEO of the company Carol (Jennifer Aniston), slacker branch manager Clay (T.J Miller) decides to throw a big Christmas party in order to convince a potential client (Courtney B. Vance) to do business with them. But with only hours to pull off the biggest and best party with the help of his staff (Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn) can Zenoteck keeps their jobs and having a rocking office Christmas party?

Sadly I missed my office Christmas party this year due to being ill, but the experience of watching Office Christmas Party would probably be as similar as attending said party. Meaning some bits will be fun and provide some chuckles with some likeable characters while other moments consist of waiting around for the next fun sequence or having to spend time with annoying people you’d rather avoid. Like many an office Christmas party this film is fun enough but is kind of forgettable, or with moments you wish you could forget.

I’m probably being a little mean spirited, it’s not a bad film and it did make me laugh, it’s just not anything special and it pales in comparison with other Christmas movies. But if you’re looking for Christmas themed comedy with plenty of raunchy humour this may provide you with some festive distraction.

Rating 2.5/5 – amusing enough but a distinctly average Xmas movie

P.S -Merry Christmas everyone!

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My kind of (Christmas) Movie

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I hate it when TV channels start playing Christmas movies before December.But as soon as the clock strikes 12 on the first of December I will happily watch an Xmas themed film.

So far I’ve already watched Love Actually, a classic Christmas movie that makes me laugh and cry. I’ve also saw The Holiday which is ridiculously cheesy but fun all the same.

I will probably get round to watching Die Hard sometime over the festive period. Considering it’s set around an office Christmas party technically that makes it a Christmas movie (see also Shane Black’s movies such as Iron Man 3 – a summer blockbuster set at Christmas!). Basically it’s just any excuse to watch Die Hard. Yippee ki yay motherfuckers!

One of my favourite Christmas movies is The Muppets Christmas Carol, it just isn’t the festive season without it. Luckily I’ve checked and its playing on Christmas Eve this year. Whoopee!

Then there’s all the other great films like Home Alone, AWonderful Life, Elf, Gremlins (which I saw the whole way through properly for the first time last year) and all the other ones I’ve forgotten to mention but will no doubt fill up my Tv schedule. When I’m not entertaining family obviously.

What’s your kind of Christmas movie? Will it not feel like Christmas unless you’ve watched The Muppets Christmas Carol? Or are you feeling a load of bah humbug about Xmas movies already? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Edge of Seventeen

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Apologies for the lack of posts over the past two months. I’ve just been a bit exhausted, a tad lazy, and having a bit of writer’s block, but now I’ve had my winter hibernation I can come back out into the world again (or the internet anyway). So onto the next review!

17 year old Nadine (Hailee Steinfield) believes her life is falling apart when her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating Nadine’s older brother Darian (Blake Jenner). As she tries to cope with this new development she finds herself getting into more arguments with her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and getting close to another student Erwin (Hayden Szeto).

The Edge of Seventeen is one of those superior teen movies in the veign of Mean Girls, Clueless, 10 Things…etc. However it has it’s own distinctive voice that means it’s not another clone riding the hightails of these movies. It also has an argueably less likeable lead character as Nadine’s flaws are not overlooked by any means. As there is no mean girl clique or bully, most of the time Nadine is her own worse enemy, self absorbed, melodramatic and well, sometimes just awful to the other people in her life. She is also a more realistic teenager then we normally get to see on screen, and just because Nadine can be a pain at times doesn’t mean she can’t be relatable (painfully so at times) or sympathetic. Aside from being extreamly well written, Steinfield gives extra layers to Nadine, perfectly displaying her awkwardness and self-hatred.

While Steinfield is the stand out she is excellently supported by the surrounding cast with Harrelson being absolutely hilarious as her teacher who doesn’t put up with any of her crap. Former Glee star Blake Jenner (not related to those Jenners) also brings depth to the role of Nadine’s jock brother and newcomer Szeto is sweet as Nadine’s hopelessly sweet admirer.

Writer/Director Kelly Fremon Craig gives us a gem of a movie that’s not just a great teen flick but a great film in general. It’s just a shame that the lack of advertising for this film and the fact that it’s a 15 rather than a 12A (like it’s contemporaries) means that it will miss out a huge chunk of it’s intended audience. Hopefully it’s recent Golden Globes nomination for Steinfield will bring the film the attention and love it deserves.

Rating 4.5/5 – Steinfield shines in a sharp, emotional and very funny movie you should go out and watch now

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The Girl On The Train

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Back in 2015 it seemed like everyone was reading Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train and now everyone seems to be going on about the film version directed by Tate Taylor. But can the big screen adaptation be anywhere near as successful as the book?

Rachel is a lonely divorced alcholic who rides the same train everyday which passes by the house of her her ex hsuband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) house. She also watches another couple Scott and Megan who live on the same street (played by Luke Evans and Hayley Bennett) and daydreams about their seemingly idylic life. However when Megan goes missing Rachel becomes obsessed with finding out the truth about her disapearance, especially as she fears she may have seen Megan during a drunken blackout.

The Girl on the Train is a solid adapatation, with a great performance by Emily Blunt as the messed up Rachel. Blunt emotes sympathy for the main character while also showing us the flawed and desperate person she has become. While Blunt wasn’t who I imagined playing Rachel when the film was first announced she plays a convincing drunk who looks suitably dishevilled for most of the movie. The other central female roles are also well played by Bennett and Furguson and they are certainly more interesting roles then the ones Evans and Theroux have to play (which makes a nice change for the female to get the better roles in a film).

As I’ve read the book before this did limit my enjoyment of the mystery at the heart of the film but I was still engaged in the story. Much like the book I found the main character interesting, especially as she is such an unreliable narrator therefore you are always questioning what you are seeing and being told by her. However as the revalations gets revealed the film gets less engaging and it almost feels as though Taylor felt he had to rush through the last act to it’s so-so conclusion.

Rating 3/5 – a solid movie that isn’t quite as good as it’s leading actresses

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Rapid Review: Blair Witch

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When James (James Allen McCune) finds footage that appears to be of his missing sister Heather, who had disappeared 20 years earlier while investigating the Blair Witch. After meeting the locals who uploaded the village He and his friends go and investigate in the woods. Soon they find themselves trapped in a nightmare situation with seemingly no way out.

This sequel surprised everyone on release as no announcements had been made beforehand that at a Blair Witch sequel was in the works and the movie was filmed under the title The Woods. After the awful result of  Book of Shadows: Blair Witch it’s a relief that the director/writer combo  Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (who made the excellent You’re Next) have given the Blair Witch a worthier sequel.

At it’s best the film is a good retread of the original film and adds some nice touches like the use of drones instead of just handheld cameras. Theres also some nice tense moments like a claustraphobic scene in an underground tunnel and some effective jump scares. However there’s only so much originality can be added to a film like Blair Witch and the action can get overfamiliar at times with characters that are vaguely drawn.

Rating 3.5/5 – effective but ultimately unoriginal horror

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Bridget Jones’s Baby

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It’s been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie and 15 years since we had a decent Bridget Jones movie. Now Renee Zellweger is back as the loveable heroine but will she win back the hearts of the audience?

Bridget (Zellweger) is 43 and despite splitting with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) since the last movie she is celebrating life with a successful career as a television producer and spending time with her new friend Miranda (Sarah Solemani). However life gets complictaed when she falls pregnant and the father is either old flame Mark or dashing American Jack (Patrick Dempsey).

After the disapointing Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason finally we get a sequel that is a worthy successor to 2002’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and a great rom-com in it’s own right. Bringing back Bridget Jones’s Diary director Sharon Maguire was a smart move as is signing on Emma Thompson to co-write the screenplay. Together not only is the film funny but it also remembers not to treat Bridget as an incompentent idiot, fawning about over blokes. Instead we get a more grown up Bridget whose love life is not the be all and end all of her life, although she’s still a flawed woman who occassionally screws up (as many of us do). It also makes you appreciate Zellweger’s performance and the warmth she puts into portraying Bridget.

Although I was disapointed that Hugh Grant’s caddish Daniel Cleaver did not return, it would have been ridiculous if Bridget went back there with Daniel again. Plus the little mentions we do get about Daniel are hilarious. Stepping into the love triangle instead is Dempsey’s Jack, whose makes a worthy play for Bridget’s heart and refreshingly is a decent guy instead of another Daniel Cleaver in waiting. The best newcomers through are Solemani’s anchorwoman Miranda who has some of the best scenes and Emma Thompson’s Dr. Rawlings-Bridget’s gynacologist- who shows it pays to give yourself the best lines in the film you are co-writing.

For me this movie isn’t quite on par with Bridget Jones’s Diary and it’s a shame the film becomes a bit more conventional at the end. But overall it’s hilarious and makes you wish the film industry was producing more romantic comedies.

Rating 4/5 – fresh, funny and feelgood

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