Archive for January, 2024

Your One Wild and Precious Life


Directors: Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Cast: Annette Bening, Jodie Foster, Rhys Ifans, Luke Cosgrove, Ethan James Romero

Running Time: 2 hours and 1 minute

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Please Note this film is only available on Netflix

Documentary film makers and married couple Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi bring to life the unbelievable true story of long distance swimmer Diana Nyad who attempted to swim from Cuba to Key West in this fascinating docu-drama simply entitled Nyad starring two brilliant actresses. Following its premiere at the 2023 Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, USA, Nyad had a short cinematic run making it eligible for Oscar nominations and then went straight onto the Netflix streaming site.

Five time Oscar nominee Annette Bening (The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia, The Kids are Alright, Nyad) takes on the role of the determined swimmer Diana Nyad and Two time Oscar winner Jodie Foster (The Accused, The Silence of the Lambs) is her friend and trainer Bonnie Stoll. Diana and Bonnie were once lovers but are now close friends, both understanding each other’s determination and desire.

Diana Nyad is a force to be reckoned with as a motivational speaker, sports journalist and a long distance swimmer, a large than life personality driven by her father’s desire to see her succeed as a sea nymph and haunted by memories of sexual abuse when she was training to be a swimmer in her teenage years.

Annette Bening is astounding in the role of Diana Nyad, a physically demanding performance involving lots of endurance swims and she plays the role perfectly, a screen role completely atypical of her other more glamourous roles in Bugsy opposite her now husband Oscar winner Warren Beatty or Jeremy Irons in Istvan Szabo’s wonderful film Being Julia.

What really sets Nyad apart are the crackling scenes between Bening and Foster, with the latter showing off her unquestionable acting talent. Jodie Foster as the more accommodating Bonnie who grapples to deal with such an engulfing personality as Diana Nyad is absolutely terrific in this film and has rightly been nominated again for Best Supporting Actress for the 2024 Oscars almost 50 years later after her last Best Supporting actress nomination for the electrifying 1976 film Taxi Driver opposite Robert De Niro.

Unlike other sports dramas which are extremely male dominated, this is a fascinating female centred life-affirming biopic which is both uplifting, motivational and serves as an encouraging film about Diana Nyad whose commitment, determination and drive put her swimming efforts to cross from Cuba to Key West in the global sports arena.  Watch out for a great supporting role by Rhy Ifans as the grumpy but knowledgeable sea-weathered captain.

Nyad is worth watching for the superb performances by Annette Bening and Jodie Foster and serves as a reminder that we all only get one wild and precious life, which is valuable and should be cherished.

Shot like a psychedelic documentary but acted with style and grit, Nyad gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is an interesting sports drama about achievement, courage and dedication. Highly recommended viewing.

Read more about Diana Nyad here –

Everything is Different Now

All of Us Strangers

Director: Andrew Haigh

Cast: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Claire Foy, Jamie Bell

Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

45 Years director Andrew Haigh perfectly adapts the Japanese novel Strangers written by the late writer Taichi Yamada, originally published in 1987 into a superb contemporary British film retitled All of Us Strangers, featuring a lonely screenwriter Adam who psychologically has to relive the trauma of his parents death, played by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) and Claire Foy (First Man, Women Talking), when he meets a gorgeous yet troubled young man Harry in an isolated apartment building in modern day London.

Adam wonderfully played by Andrew Scott (1917, Spectre) in his first ever leading role, encapsulates all the trauma, isolation, desire and loneliness of a middle aged single gay man as he falls in love fleetingly with the sexy hunk Harry played with mesmerizing screen presence by Oscar nominee Paul Mescal (Aftersun).

In a bizarre emotional twist, All of Us Strangers features a grown up Adam confronting his late parents in some intimate scenes in which he comes out as gay to his mother and tries desperately to form an emotional bond with his father. Adam’s parents were conventional people in 1980’s England who died before they had a chance to watch their only son grow up and forge his own sexual identity.

Issues of prejudice, fear and loneliness pervade Andrew Haigh’s slow burning tale of one man’s excruciating emotional journey of coming to terms with childhood trauma, triggered by his abundant desire for Harry, a beautiful whiff of a soul, that glimmers on the edges of Adam’s existence long enough for desire to linger and short enough to eliminate any longevity.

Similar to director Tom Ford’s A Single Man, but certainly not as stylish, Andrew Haigh delivers a remarkably interesting and deceptive film about gay love, acceptance and remorse as Adam takes the audience on a poignant romantic journey cut short by his own desire to reconnect with his shattered past.

All of Us Strangers is a slow burning tale about a gay man’s search for his elusive emotional centre in an isolating metropolis while he is continually taunted by the past and haunted by recent desire.

This very art house love story is both fascinating and at times tricky, but it will be sure to pull audiences in to a complex love story with the past and with a future in which everything is different now.

All of Us Strangers gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and see it for Paul Mescal, who is amazing. Recommended for a niche audience, but beautifully acted with a catchy 1980’s soundtrack.  

Carving with Compassion

Poor Things

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Margaret Qualley, Christopher Abbott, Jerrod Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter

Running Time: 2 hours and 21 minutes

Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Please note this film contains explicit sex and nudity

Think Mary Shelley’s cinematic version of Frankenstein with Salvador Dali as the production designer and that is how one should view the gorgeous and gawky masterpiece that is Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos latest Gothic Victorian dark comedy Poor Things starring an absolutely superb Emma Stone in the role of a lifetime as the creation Bella Baxter, a recreated creature with the impulses of a child and the body of a lithe, sexually rapacious young woman.

At the heart of Poor Things is the sexual, sociological journey of Bella Baxter, a Victorian experiment who gets whisked away from her macabre overprotective creator and keeper Godwin expertly played by Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Shadow of a Vampire) by the dashing cad Duncan Webberburn, a star performance complete with a posh accent a desire to please polite society by Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) as he takes her sometimes forcibly from a grey and grim London to an iridescent and lavish Lisbon and then from Lisbon aboard a ship to Alexandria.

While Bella is entranced initially by the elegant Duncan Webberburn particularly in the film’s iconic dance sequence which is absolutely enthralling, Bella soon learns that Duncan actually starts behaving like every other man in her life so far, over-protective, possessive and deeply controlling. Duncan starts acting petulant when Bella takes his money and unknowingly gives it away, supposedly to the destitute in Alexandria and soon they both literally become poor things.

While landing up penniless in Paris, Bella discovers the economic advantages of a Parisian boudoir where she can get paid for sex so that she can become her own economic entity.

Back in London, Godwin creates another creature lacking in emotional while him and his protégé Mark McCandles played by Ramy Youssef pine for Bella’s illustrious return and soon via letters she learns that she needs to return to London while abandoning the overtures of a demented rejected Duncan. It is at this juncture that the brilliant and wacky storyline, takes a bizarre turn, thanks to a superb screenplay by Tony McNamara and Alasdair Gray whose novel the film is based upon.

With captivating production design by Shona Heath and James Price and beautiful cinematography by Robbie Ryan, Poor Things expands on some of director Yorgos Lanthimos fascination with female emancipation and male folly which he began so cleverly in The Favourite and now expands with a broader, brighter and utterly bizarre canvas. This surrealist film is filled with illustrious characters, beautifully mingling fantasy with sexual emancipation, death with desire and revenge coupled with a coroner’s careful carving up of cadavers with compassion and medical ingenuity.

Poor Things is certainly not a film for everyone, it will fascinate viewers and repel them in equal measures but as a mesmerizing cinematic experience it is dazzling, daunting and delightful. At the heart of this unique, bizarre Victorian melodrama are three exceptional performances by Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe. Ultimately Bella Baxter gets her revenge and becomes her own means of production.

Poor Things gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is utterly bizarre, repulsively fascinating and a cinematic experience that no one will forget. Recommended for those that love challenging films.

Glittering Plasticity

Mean Girls

Director: Samantha Jayne & Arturo Perez Jr

Cast: Angourie Rice, Renee Rapp, Tina Fey, Jaquel Spivey, Lindsay Lohan, Christopher Briney, Bebe Wood, Jon Hamm, Avantika, Auli’I Cravalho, Busy Philipps, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, Ashley Park, Mahi Alam

Running Time: 1 hour 52 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Jaquel Spivey plays Damian, Angourie Rice plays Cady and Auli’i Cravalho plays Janis in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount © 2023 Paramount Pictures.

Never mind Barbie, watch Mean Girls, it’s hilarious and fabulous. Directing duo Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr, artfully recreated the Mean Girls musical with a witty script by comedian and actress Tina Fey in the new 2024 reboot of the original 2004 film, Mean Girls which starred Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Lizzy Caplan.

Angourie Rice (Spider Man: No Way Home, The Beguiled, The Nice Guys) is brilliant as naïve but manipulative teenage girl Cady Heron who arrives at North Point High School in Chicago after being home schooled by her mother on the Kenyan plains. Cady has to navigate the treacherous backstabbing world of teenage popularity and acceptance as she first befriends Janis and Damian, wonderfully played by Auli’I Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey. Janis is exploring her sexuality while Damian is just too gay to function. Into the fray at the cafeteria, the original mean girl makes her grand entrance, Regina George, blonde haired with ample bosom and a matching attitude. Regina is the IT girl with her minions and has had countless boyfriends and rules the social world of teenage awkwardness with a glittering plasticity.

Bebe Wood plays Gretchen, Renee Rapp plays Regina and Avantika plays Karen in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount © 2023 Paramount Pictures.

Superbly played by Renee Rapp, Regina George is the ultimate teen queen, the most popular girl in high school who attracts the attention of Cady Heron who also has her eye on the gorgeous boy sitting in front of her in calculus: Aaron Samuels played by Christopher Briney.

Christopher Briney plays Aaron in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount © 2023 Paramount Pictures.

Mean Girls is part comedy and part musical, with lots of social media drenched dance numbers and some extremely funny moments including the drama at the Winter Musical and the increasingly hilarious missteps that Cady does to try and fit in, including having house parties, trying to kiss Aaron Samuels and arriving at a Halloween party as a blood drenched bride of Dracula, looking hideous.

Tina Fey plays Ms. Norbury in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount © 2023 Paramount Pictures.

Tina Fey’s script is brilliant, witty and toxic, but filled with some moral lessons about treating fellow girls properly and basically not being a competitive back stabber. Even the burn book gets a treatment and all hell breaks loose until Regina gets hit by a bus! Jaquel Spivey as the very camp Damian is over the top but absolutely necessary to the script and provides some hilarious laughs.

Mean Girls is raucous and gossipy, hilarious and frivolous but ultimately a funny film filled with lots of feel good musical numbers about teenagers trying to get a grip on their new world both socially and sexually, carving their own path away from any parental guidance and capturing the current media crazed Tik Tok, SnapChat phenomenon.

The screen tension between Renee Rapp and Angourie Rice is brittle and toxic, just the way it is meant to be when the new bright girl takes on The Plastics. Audiences should watch out for appearances by Lindsay Lohan as Mathletes Moderator, Jon Hamm as Coach Carr and Tim Meadows as the exasperated Mr Duvall, the high school principal.

Aimed at teenage girls and definitely their mothers, Mean Girls honours the original film while updating the social media entrenched social politics of 21st century young adulthood in this new glittering and hyper-stylized version for the 2020’s.

Mean Girls gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is recommended for those that enjoyed the original film and also provides a glitzy showcase for the next generation of rising film stars. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy teen comedies.

81st Golden Globe Awards

Took Place on Sunday 7th January 2024 in Los Angeles and hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the Beverly Hilton Hotel – 

Here are the 2024 Golden Globe Winners in the Film Categories:

Best Film Drama: Oppenheimer

Best Film Musical or Comedy: Poor Things

Best Director: Christopher Nolan – Oppenheimer

Best Actor Drama: Cillian Murphy – Oppenheimer

Best Actress Drama: Lily Gladstone – Killers of the Flower Moon

Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Paul Giamatti – The Holdovers

Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Emma Stone – Poor Things

Best Supporting Actor: Robert Downey Jnr – Oppenheimer

Best Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph – The Holdovers

Best Original Score: Ludwig Goransson – Oppenheimer

Best Screenplay: Justine Triet – Anatomy of a Fall

Best International Feature Film: Anatomy of a Fall directed by Justine Triet

You, Me and the Opera House

Anyone But You

Director: Will Gluck

Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell, Bryan Brown, Michelle Hurd, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Bonello, Joe Davidson, Rachel Griffiths, Alexandra Shipp

Running Time: 1 hour 43 minutes

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Friends with Benefits and Easy A director Will Gluck delivers another light weight romantic comedy this time set in Sydney, Australia and starring Sydney Sweeney as aspiring law student Bea who accidentally meets the perfect hunk, Ben wonderfully played by rising star Glen Powell (Top Gun Maverick) in Anyone But You which is set in Boston and Sydney, Australia.

Sydney Sweeney rose to fame in creator Mike White’s wild satirical series The White Lotus as the spoilt manipulative daughter of a wealthy couple on holiday in Hawaii and learnt her comic timing in this award winning series. In Anyone But You, she battles with her male counterpart Ben as they both pretend to be in love with each other at a destination wedding of Bea’s sister Halle played by Hadley Robinson and her fiancée Claudia played by Alexandra Shipp (Tick, Tick… Boom!; Barbie).

Ben is friends with Claudia and her brother Pete played by GaTa, whose parents Carol and Roger played by Michelle Hurd and Bryan Brown (Cocktail, Australia) live on a sprawling estate on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia.

It is refreshing to see this famous Australian city used as a primary film location and in a way, Sydney and its famous Opera House overlooking the harbour become characters in this funny and rather rude comedy in which the two main lovers oscillate between love and hate, friendship and rivalry in a bid to convince the wedding party that all is well with the pair, similar to William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

As Ben and Bea fight and make up again, they slowly learn some interesting facts about each other such as Ben’s fear of flying and Bea’s fear of commitment.

Anyone But You is a sunny, fun filled romantic comedy, nothing too dramatic and will leave audiences feeling happy and fulfilled. The cast including Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding, August: Osage County) and Rachel Griffiths (Muriel’s Wedding) as Bea’s parents create a bubbly if slightly awkward ensemble while the two main stars Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell are the perfect eye candy as eventually their characters meet at the Australian city’s most iconic location.

Add some nude scenes to spice up a fun romantic comedy and Anyone But You is a hilariously silly romantic comedy which is perfect for a date night film filled with love and laughter.

The sexy chemistry between Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell makes this film work, although the script and sound editing could have been vastly improved. Anyone But You gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is an enjoyable chance to watch a love story set in a beautiful city. It’s nothing deeper than a splash in the Pacific.

A Deadly Passion


Director: Michael Mann

Cast: Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Sarah Gadon, Patrick Dempsey, Jack O’Connell, Agnese Brighitini, Leonardo Caimi, Gabriel Leone

Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Film Editor Pietro Scalia deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Editing for director Michael Mann’s latest biopic about the founder of luxury car brand Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari superbly played with complete brutal dexterity by Oscar nominee Adam Driver (Marriage Story, BlackKklansman) who deserves to be nominated for Best Actor for Ferrari.

Counterbalancing Enzo Ferrari’s sleek business operation of manufacturing sports cars and racing cars is Enzo’s wife Laura Ferrari expertly played with the right degree of bitterness and scorn by Oscar winner Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona). The scenes between Enzo and Laura are electrifying and required two really talented actors to make this complex marriage which was more like a business arrangement believable and toxic.

Enzo Ferrari has a mistress and a child from another woman, Lina Landi played by Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), whose insistence that Enzo recognizes the paternity of the little boy is just one of the problems that skilled tough business man Enzo has to figure out as he needs his international drivers to win the formidable and highly dangerous Italian race Mille Miglia which occurred with relentless loss of life.

American director Michael Mann kept a low profile in the 2010’s after huge critically acclaimed successes with Collateral, Public Enemies and Miami Vice. So its great news that Michael Mann has returned to the director’s chair with Ferrari a stylish, brutal and atmospheric film about the founder of Ferrari capturing in minute detail the Italian society of 1957 filled with machismo, racing drivers that would die like flies and most of all the glamour that Italian car brands like Ferrari and Maserati brought back to Italy after the gloom of the post War years of the late 1940’s which gave birth to the film movement Italian Neo-realism.

In actual fact Michael Mann incorporates some of those Neo-realist film techniques into Ferrari particularly Enzo’s scenes with the fickle but pushy Italian press and those scenes in the Barber shop and on the Italian street.

Ferrari’s international cast includes Patrick Dempsey as racing car driver Piero Taruffi, British actor Jack O’Connell as racing car driver Peter Collins along with Italian stars Gabriel Leone as Alfonso de Portago and Leonardo Caimi as Brusoni.

The emotional crux of Ferrari is the difficult and complex relationship between Enzo and his volatile wife Laura, beautifully played out on screen by Driver and Cruz. Laura held all the financial power for Ferrari while Enzo dreamed big but needed to take the luxury car manufacturing company to a new international market with an urgent cash injection.

From the devastating car crashes to the glamour around fast cars and luxury, Ferrari is a fascinating and authentic tale of an ambitious, hardnosed businessman that would not be known outside the Italian world.

Enzo Ferrari created those red sleek sports cars which are now synonymous with speed, luxury and affluence. As a film, Ferrari plays on that primal fascination that men have with competitive driving often at the cost of looking after their own families, a deadly passion which has to be sought to protect their egos, reputation and virility.

Ferrari is a highly recommended biopic, beautifully directed by Michael Mann and expertly acted by the two main leads with sumptuous cinematography and cutting edge editing.

Michael Mann returns to form in Ferrari which gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is definitely worth seeing for those that enjoyed such excellent films as Ford v Ferrari and All the Money in the World.

Read more about Enzo Ferrari here

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