Coco (2017 Pixar Movie)

Date Watched: – 14th January 2018

Director: – Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

Genre: – Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Starring: – Voices – Anthony Gonzalez (Miguel), Garl Garcia Bernal (Hector), Benjamin Bratt (Ernesto de la Cruz), Alanna Ubach (Mama Imelda), Renee Victor (Abuelita), Jaime Camil (Papa) and Alfonso Arua (Papa Julio)

Review: –

Not too sure what to make of this one, as a Disney/Pixel film the concept of the film being based on the Day of the Dead which is a Mexican holiday took me by surprised as it’s not the normal young child friendly film I expect from Pixar (Toy Story, Finding Nemo etc.) though I enjoyed it I’m not sure that this should be marketed as a film that’s suitable for young children. It opened in the US on Thanksgiving but the UK had to wait unit this week for it to be released.

Imelda Rivera was the wife of a Musician who left her and her daughter Coco to pursue a career in music and she started making shoes and opened a Shoemaking business and banned music in the family. Many years later Imelda great-great-grandson Miguel who lives with his family including an elderly Coco dreams of becoming a musician like Ernesto de la Cruz a popular actor and singer from Imelda’s era. Miguel accidentally damages a photo from the Ofrenda (an offering made during the Day of the Dead celebrations) and notices that it is of Imelda and her husband and Coco as a baby, the husband is holding the famous guitar that da la Cruz used but the face is ripped out, Miguel concludes that da la Cruz is his Great-great Grandfather and after an argument with his grandmother (Elena) he runs away to enter the local talent show but as he is unable to borrow a guitar (Elena had smashed his) he breaks into the Mausoleum of Ernesto da la Cruz to borrow his guitar but as he picks up the guitar and strummers it he becomes invisible to the living but can be seen by the dead. His dead relatives come over and sees Miguel and they mention that Imelda can’t come over as her photo is not displayed as Miguel has the photo, the family make their way to the office where Imelda is at the officer explains that Miguel is cursed and must receive a blessing from his family whilst holding an Aztec petal, Imelda gives him her blessing but puts a condition on that he must not play music and he returns to the land of the living but as soon as he arrives back he plays the guitar and returns to the land of the dead, and since the family don’t give him the blessing that allows him to play music he runs away to find da la Cruz to get his blessing. He then bumps into Hector, who is down on his luck as he wants to visit his daughter but no-one in the living world puts his photo up that would allow him to travel to the living, who offers to help Miguel in exchange of putting his photo up so he can visit his daughter, Miguel promises and they set off. Hector says the best way is to win the talent contest which the winner will play in the party that da la Cruz is hosting. Miguel does well in the contest but his family arrive and though Hector tries to return Miguel to his family he escapes and gets into da la Cruz mansion where he then plays and announces he is da la Cruz relative but Hector confronts him and Miguel learns that da la Cruz poisoned Hector to get his songs which Hector had written for them but Hector had decided to quit and return to his family. Miguel then realizes that Hector is actually his Great-Great-Grandfather not da la Cruz but they’re thrown in a pit without anyway to escape but Dante (Miguel’s stray dog) finds them and alerts the rest of Miguel’s dead family and they rescue them, but as the sun starts to rise which would cause Miguel to stay in the land of the dead Hector starts to fade as he is being forgotten so the family give Miguel there blessing without any conditions and Miguel returns to the Living, he rushes home to see Coco and tries to get her to remember her father Hector and then plays the song that Hector used to sing to her and Coco remembers. A year later Coco has passed and Miguel has a baby sister but her photo along with Hector’s is placed on the ofrenda and Hector can finally visit the rest of the family again and music is no longer banned in the family.

Whilst I really liked the idea of the using the Day of the Dead festival that is not often used in films (and other countries Holidays besides the American ones) and I liked the film as mentioned I’m not sure this is aimed at young children as Pixar tend to do so this might harm this releases. I know it was very well received in the US when it opened at Thanksgiving and the animation is top draw as you would expect. I had been looking forward to this film for a few months since we saw the first advert (of Dante) last summer and though it didn’t disappoint but didn’t really go beyond this. I rate this a 7/10 as could’ve been better and not sure really suitable for what I would say is the intended audience.

 

Pitch Perfect 3

Date Watched: – 9th January 2018

Director: – Trish Sie

Genre: – Comedy, Music

Starring: –  Anna Jendrick (Beca), Brittany Snow (Chloe), Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy/Patricia), Anna Camp (Aubrey) and Hailee Steinfeld (Emily)

Review: –

Beca, Chloe, Aubrey, Fat Amy and the rest of the Bellas are back for the third instalment of the Pitch Perfect. The Bellas have all now gone their separate way though many still keep in touch with Beca now a Music Producer and Chloe training to be a Vet. After Beca quits her job and returns to the flat she shares with Amy, Chloe arrives and reminds them about the Bella Reunion that is happening later that evening. When all the Bellas reunite they find Emily had invited them to watch the current Bella’s perform rather than the old Bellas to sing, afterwards Chloe says she would give anything to perform with the Bellas again when Audrey mentions about the USO (United Service Organizations) Performance Tour that her Dad (A High Ranking Naval Officer) can get them in which if they’re good enough would get to open for DJ Khaled.

The Bellas then start the tour and first arrive in Spain and after meeting the other bands on the tour they perform on the opening night of the tour where they sing Cheap Thrills but are interrupted by Taps being played by the loud speaker so later they decide to go to the Hotel/Casino that DJ Khaled is staying at the girls split up before reunite to go to DJ Khaled suite (though he’s not in the suite at the time) whilst Fat Amy is escorted into the Casino as a special guest where her estranged father joins her but she’s upset as she left her and is a criminal. Back at the suite Theo (DJ Khaled’s Music Producer) finds Beca and shows her DJ Khaled’s music equipment and gets her to start laying some tracks down whilst the rest of girls manage to cause chaos and start a fire just as DJ Khaled returns to his suite. The next morning the girls decide to stop trying to win and just perform for enjoyment after face-timing Staceie who just had a baby girl that she has named Bella.

The girls then travel to Italy and Greece to perform in the tour and finally go to the South of France where the Tour ends where DJ Khaled gets Theo to bring Beca to him where he offers her the chance to perform as opening act for him and also offers her a record deal, Beca refuses and goes to try and find the girls to tell them. Meanwhile the girls have been kidnapped by Fat Amy’s father as he requires Amy to go to the Cayman Islands to access her Bank Account which contains $180 million and are taken aboard his yacht. When Amy’s father calls Amy to tell her he has the girls she warns him that she’s coming for him. Amy and Beca sneak onto the yacht with Beca joining the rest of the girls whilst Amy goes below deck and disables the rest of the staff/bodyguards of her father. When Beca joins the group she says that if the Bellas are going to suffering then they should sing and start to perform Toxic and at the end Fat Amy comes crashing through the roof and the girls escape with Amy’s father being arrested. Whilst the girls dry off Beca (well Amy) tells the rest that Khaled has chosen her to perform but she has turned it down but the Bellas say they lift family up not hold them down and she must perform and that they’re happy with not having to perform.

Beca opens for DJ Khaled and starts laying down the track using her vocals and then starts to perform Freedom which during the song she gets the rest of the Bellas on Stage with her to help perform it and they receive a standing ovation. During the end scenes we see that Audrey’s father has watched the show and then Chloe hooks up with Chicago (one of the Army escorts) and we see the journey of the Bellas with outtakes from the previous Pitch Perfect films.

Reading this it actual sounds better than the film actual was as if you take out the music then this film is pretty dire and the acting was poor. The songs and music performances were good and raise the rating up but though the storyline seems decent it felt rushed and far-fetched. As per the last film Anna, Brittany and Rebel carried a lot of the film with Anna playing a lesser role than the first film again.

If you’re a Pitch Perfect fan then yes see this as it’s the end of the Bellas but otherwise I would say give this a miss, if you do want to see it give it a year and watch it when it arrives on TV.

6/10 just because the Music Performances are worthy of this.

The Greatest Showman

Date Watched: – 30th December 2017

Director: – Michael Gracey

Genre: – Biography, Drama, Musical

Starring: – Hugh Jackman (P T Barnum), Michelle Williams (Charity Barnum), Zac Efron (Phillip Carlyle), Zendaya (Anne), Rebecca Ferguson (Jenny Lind), Austyn Johnson (Caroline Barnum) and Cameron Seely (Helen Barnum)

Review: – The last film of 2017 saw me take in The Greatest Showman a film based on Phineas Taylor Barnum better known as PT Barnum the “founder” of show business and the circus. PT is the son of a tailor and during a home visit to Mr Hallett PT makes Mr Hallett’s daughter (Charity) laugh causing her to spit out her tea prompting Mr Hallett to smack PT across the face. PT and Charity write to each other during their absences and the death of PT father whilst we see the young PT and Charity sing whilst their relationship develop and whilst still in song see PT (now played by Hugh) propose and marry Charity (Michelle). PT now working at a Trading Company is laid off as the their trading vessels have sunk in the South China Seas, Whilst on the roof with Charity and his 2 daughters PT gives Caroline (his daughter) a wishing lamp as a birthday present and as they wish he has an idea and goes to the bank to borrow $10,000 using the sunken ships as collateral. PT then opens a Museum dedicated to the weird and oddities though the Museum fails to attract any interests and whilst waiting to see the Bank Manager again he notices a dwarf and then has another idea which was caused by something his daughters said about see living/live things. PT then goes round the town looking for unique individuals and finds as well as Charles (the Dwarf) he finds Lettie (a bearded woman), Lord of Leeds (an obese man), Dog Boy (man covered completely in hair) and the Irish Giant (an 8 foot man). He then puts on a show and starts to draw large crowds and then start selling out but a critic cause the show a Circus and PT decides to change the name of the show to PT Barnum’s Circus and starts to make large profits which allows PT to move his family in to a luxury mansion and lets Caroline have ballet classes but she becomes dishearten as mocked for being PT’s daughter. PT looking to enhance the show approaches the playwright Phillip Carlye who agrees for 10% of the Profits. The troupe is then invited to meet Queen Victoria where PT meets Jenny Lind a well-known opera singer and invites her to perform at his show.

Jenny sings at PT Barnum’s Circus and is a huge hit and PT decides to finance a tour across America for her and goes with her leaving Phillip in charge of the Circus. During the tour Jenny develops a crush on PT but he rejects her advances and then Jenny says she’s going to quit the tour but PT tries to get her to complete the tour as it would cause him financial hardship if she quits, but after 1 more performance she kisses PT on stage and quits the tour. PT travels back to New York as the press took photos of the kiss to tell his wife about it before the press publish any stories about it but as he arrives back and hugs his wife and girls a fire engine goes by as the Circus is on fire after an altercation between protestors and the performers. Phillip runs in to save Anne who is missing but she’s bought out by her brother WD so PT runs in after Phillip and saves him and whilst Phillip recovers in hospital Anne kisses him.

PT sitting by the remains of the theatre is joined by the critic who shows him the paper with the headline of the kiss and Jenny quitting the tour and he rushes home to see Charity has packed her bags but not because of the kiss but because the bank is evicting them and she’s unhappy that PT didn’t ask her about the money to finance the tour more then she is about the kiss. PT goes to a bar and is found by the troupe who confront him and explain that he has given them a home and family and needs to stop feeling sorry for himself, PT then goes to Charity’s parents as that’s where she has gone but her dad refuses to say where she is but their daughters tell him and he goes to the beach that they spent some of their childhood.

PT apologises to her and Charity explains she doesn’t care about the fame she just wants the man she fell in love with and there embrace. PT then returns to the theatre with the troupe and Phillip now out of hospital also shows up when PT explains that he can’t loan any more money but Phillip offers to use his share of the profits to restart the circus for 50/50 split of the profits and PT agrees and they restart the show in a Tent as cheaper to run and maintain then a theatre and when they reopen PT hands over the Ringmaster role to Phillip and takes an elephant to meet up with Charity and his girls at Caroline’s Ballet show and PT says he has everything he wanted now.

The film has several musical numbers in as well and these tracks suited the film well with “The Greatest Show”, “Never Enough” and “This is Me” being the pick for me but this is a soundtrack I will be downloading as enjoyed all the songs and would like to listen to them without the movie. The only disappointment came after the film when I found out that it wasn’t Rebecca Ferguson that sang Never Enough but Loren Allred with her vocals being dubbed over Rebecca’s but this was a stunning track.

I compared this to La La Land which won several awards last year and I believe it is better than La La Land as it flows better and the musical performances tie in better to the film then they did in La La Land. This is a movie I wanted to continue as was enjoying it, the cast was perfect though I did have my doubts with Hugh Jackman but the relationship between the cast worked and you got the sense of unity. The film is up for 3 Golden Globes and I expect will have at least 2 Oscar Nominations as well which to me is fully deserved. It would’ve probably appeared in my Top 5 2017 films if I had not already done that post and was far better than I expected. I will certainly be watching this again and fully deserves a 9/10 rating.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The first Cineworld Unlimited Screening of the year and a joint production by Fox Searchlight Pictures and Film 4 which took me by surprise as not a UK based film. Starring Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes, Woody Harrelson as Sheriff Bill Willoughby, Sam Rockwell as Officer Jason Dixon, John Hawkes as Charlie Hayes, Peter Dinklage as James, Lucas Hedges as Robbie Hayes, Abbie Cornish as Anne Willoughby, Samara Weaving as Penelope, Caleb Landry Jones as Red Welby, Clarke Peters as Abercrombie, Darrell Britt-Gibson as Jerome, Kathryn Newton as Angela Hayes, Kerry Condon as Pamela, Željko Ivanek as Desk Sergeant Cedric Connolly, Amanda Warren as Denise, Sandy Martin as Mrs. Dixon, Christopher Berry as Tony, Nick Searcy as Father Montgomery and was Written & Directed by Martin McDonagh.

I have seen this film advertised for a while and also saw that it has been nominated for a number of awards including several Golden Globes, so when Cineworld said it would be an unlimited film I booked this straight away but decided not to find out what the film was about before seeing it and reviewing it without know who was in it and what it was about, the title was intriguing as could’ve meant anything.

I was actually disappointed with the film as to me it has no start nor end of a story, you get bits and pieces during the film but many of the questions that are asked aren’t answered and you left wondering what happens and what did happen, the film itself taking away what is missing is actually pretty decent and Frances, Sam and Woody all produce good performances and there is nothing wrong with what is actually there just felt incomplete. The film goes quick which is normally a good sign and besides the story-line I can’t fault it, though I am surprised that this is up for several awards as I’ve seen far better over the previous 12 months which have not be nominated.

Would I watch again? Probably not but not because it’s a bad film but not really the Genre I do watch.

Rating – 6/10 just because it seems a lot of the film is missing.

Stronger

Date Watched: – 6th December

Director: – David Gordon Green

Genre: – Biography, Drama

Starring: – Jake Gyllenhaal (Jeff Bauman), Tatiana Maslany (Erin Hurley), Miranda Richardson (Patty Bauman) and Carlos Sanz (Carlos)

Review: –

Based on true events during the Boston Marathon Bombing and afterwards for survivor Jeff Bauman.

Jeff works at the a local Costco on the deli counter whilst living with his alcoholic mother, one evening in a bar he sees his ex-girlfriend raising money for the local hospital she works out by running the Boston Marathon, Jeff grabs the jar and goes round all the patrons in the bar collecting more money for her and promises he will be at the finishing line with a big sign. On the day of the marathon Jeff struggles to get to the finishing line but makes it just in time for Erin to start the final straight when the bomb goes off next to where Jeff is standing and blows both of his legs below the knee off and is rushed to hospital.

Jeff wakes up in hospital after having his legs amputated above the knee and tells his brother that he saw the bomber and his Mum then tells the FBI and they then interview him and he describes one of the bombers and becomes a hero. As Jeff leaves hospital he struggles to cope with the loss of his legs and with the fame that he has gained and isn’t helped by his mother who tries to capitalises on his new fame by booking interviews and appearances for him, Erin who is helping Jeff recover and they rekindle their relationship objects to the appearances after during his appearance at the Stanley Cup Final he suffers flashbacks and breaks down in the lift with Erin but Jeff won’t tell his family so when Patty says she has booked him with an interview with Oprah she says that he is suffering from PTSD and both Jeff and Patty start drinking again and start missing Physiotherapy and when Erin arrives home to find Patty drunk and Jeff passed out in the bath tub she snaps and after they finish a Physio session snaps and leaves Jeff and Patty to drive home alone. After a night out with his brothers Erin picks Jeff up and tells him she’s pregnant with his child which causes Jeff to panic and say he can’t be a father and Erin then leaves him in the car and packs her things from the apartment, Jeff crawls out of the car and makes his way to the apartment block crawling where he has another flashback of the bombing.

Later Jeff meets with Carlos who cared for him in the immediate aftermath of the bombing and saved his life by ties his legs to stop blood loss. Carlos explains that by helping Jeff he helped him as he had lost his son in Iraq and attended his funeral on a stretcher as he had tried to commit suicide and his other son unable to cope with his brother’s death and his father attempted suicide did commit suicide so Carlos able to help save Jeff helped him make peace with his son’s death. After meeting with Carlos, Jeff realises that his story and what has happened to him may help inspire and comfort others so starts to change his life around and starts taking rehab serious and leaves Erin a voicemail apologising for his behaviour and his fear of commitment and promises to change.

Jeff then attends a Red Sox Baseball game where he throws the first pitch, afterwards as he meets the crowd he gets told by many people how he has impacted their lives and inspired them. He then arranges to meet Erin at a diner and his Mum drops him off he walks to the diner on his prosthetics for the first time to where Erin is and he tells her he loves her and she replies good and later Erin gives birth with Jeff by her side. The movie then ends with real life video and photos of Jeff.

Once I saw the trailer I was looking forward to this and to be honest I was a little disappointed with the film but to be honest I can’t really fault it, it’s based on a true story it is well thought out and acted but after watching Patriots Day (which is also about the Boston Bombing but based on a different person) I just felt it wasn’t as good as could be and wasn’t as action packed as Patriots Day but in truth it was never going to be.

I think it’s a decent enough film to watch but I can really recommend it except perhaps for the story and the inspiration behind it but there are other films that have the same inspirational stories that are better.

I only rate this 6/10 which may be a bit harsh but that’s just my opinion of it.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Date Watched: – 3rd December 2017

Director: – Bharat Nalluri

Genre: – Biography, Comedy, Drama

Starring: – Dan Stevens (Charles Dickens), Christopher Plummer (Ebenezer Scrooge), Jonathan Pryce (John Dickens), Simon Callow (Leech), Miriam Margolyes (Mrs Frisk), Morfydd Clark (Kate Dickens), Ian McNeice (Chapman), Justin Edwards (John Forster) and Anna Murphy (Tara)

Review: –

The below review contains spoilers

The story behind the story that changed the face of Christmas, when I saw this film advertised I was interested in going to see as being from the south coast Charles Dickens stories are well known and how he uses his own experiences in many of his books and the characters are normally based on people he knew. The film starts as he tours the United States after the success of Oliver Twist before we jump 16 months later to where he is starting to struggle with 3 failed books and finding himself slipping into debt and it’s October when he leaves his publishers who refuse to back him and says he will write a Christmas book in time for Christmas.

As he starts to write his parents visit him, with whom he has a strained relationship with which we find out is due to Charles having to work in a factory at a young age as his father caused the rest of his family to go to a debtor’s prison due to the debts John had accrued. As he struggles to write he overhears the new nanny (Tara) tell stories to his children about spirits visiting families on Christmas Eve and after speaking to her and noticing a comic book in her pocket, Tara explains that she told those stories and taught how to read so Charles uses her for advice and to read his writing during the writing of the book.

After Charles struggles to find a character until he finds Scrooge who he bases on a few people that he encounters during his book tours and charity events and then starts interacting with them in his imagination though sometimes it spills out into his real life. He then uses bits of Tara’s stories about Ghosts and Spirits visiting on Christmas Eve in his book and whilst walking through London, he stubbles across a funeral for a rich man where there is only one mourner which he also uses in his book.

As the deadline approaches for Charles to finish his book he has Tiny Tim to die in the ending but first Tara and then Forster says that he can’t have Tiny Tim to die and when Charles visits the old Blacking factory where he used to work and whilst “talking” with Scrooge he decides that the story should be about redemption and changes the ending so that Scrooge changes and Tiny Tim lives and in his real life as he finishes the book he reconnects with Tara who has returned the book he had lent her and he rehired her (he had fired her during one of his outburst) and Kate tells him his parents are on their way to the station and he gets and cab and reconnects to them and then rushes to the printers to get the final chapter (called Stave) printed so it can be published before Christmas.

This film is really good and gives a good insight behind the story of A Christmas Carol (or to give its full title – A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas), I expect the film also has a lot of artistic license and embellishes a lot of what happen however I expect that the majority of this is true and you actually see two films as you also get the story of A Christmas Carol in this as well (so that’s 4 versions of A Christmas Carol I’ve seen this year). If you’re a Charles Dickens fan then this is a film you need to see. I strongly recommend this film. It’s a good story and I found very insightful.

8/10

December Movies

This month I have the film I’ve been waiting over a year for coming out The Last Jedi and also sees at least 2 Unlimited Screenings (Stronger & Jumanji) and I’ve already seen The Man Who Invented Christmas this month (review to come soon) so thought I write a brief post on what films I’m hoping to see this month. One of my favourite Christmas films (The Polar Express) and one of the Nations favourites (A Wonderful Life) return for one off showings (except The Polar Express now has 2 showings) both I have booked to see (Polar Express are on 9th & 10th, A Wonderful Life on 11th) then you have the third instalment of Pitch Perfect coming out the weekend of The Last Jedi and a Boxing Day opening of The Greatest Showman which looks amazing in the trailer and the Animation of Ferdinand in the week leading up to Christmas too; though I was disappointed that Coco isn’t being released in UK until mid January 2 months after US release. So that’s 9 Movies I want to see in total (1 already watched and 8 to see if which 5 I’ve already got booked).