Whitney – Can I Be Me

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Before I start my review confession time here, at best I have a passing like for Whitney Houston’s songs – she was certainly an amazing singer. But musical taste wise she didn’t do it for me as they say. So if like me you are not a fan, why bother to go and see it. Well as it happens it’s more a snapshot of Whitney’s life rather than a straight out and out music documentary.

She had great talent, a loving church going family, so what caused Whitney’s life to spiral out of control leading to her untimely death. There were demons in Whitney life, even before she broke into the massive star that she became, she dabbled in drugs even before the end of her teens and this would haunt her right throughout her career.

There was also a complicated relationship between her best friend Robyn and her husband Bobby Brown. Robyn had stood up and protected Whitney many years before and as result they had an extremely strong bond. Enter Bobby Brown, Whitney had a deep love for him but he was trouble for her and Robyn did not like him at all and the feeling was mutual. Both competed for her affections which meant that Whitney was torn between her loyalty for her life – long friend and her love for her husband.

There was of course lots else in the mix that caused Whitney problems, but one of the most revealing interviews was with her former bodyguard, he tried to save her from herself but despite his best efforts ultimately he was not successful in preventing her death. As many previous stars have discovered to their cost, money and fame do not fix everything and can sometimes add to the speed of their passing. Like a moth getting too close to a flame, fame can burn you and badly.

Ultimately,we can sometimes imagine that the grass in greener on the other side of the fence so to speak. This documentary is a salutary lesson that we should embrace the small things in life and not always constantly strive for more. It’s turns out that we already have what many stars wish they could return to. “Can I Be Me” is a lifelong phrase that Whitney used many times throughout her life when she felt that others were trying to steer her down a different path, but had trouble always trying reach that goal. So Whitney fan or not this documentary is worth seeking out. A worthy film of the week.
She was a rare talent and it is deeply saddening that she is no longer with us. May She Rest In Peace.

My Cousin Rachel

 

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Every so often we have had our fill of indie, action or superhero movies and we think “Why not go do the more cultural route”. This also tends to happen when you really do not fancy what is showing at the movies that week and you can’t let the week pass without at least seeing one movie.

My Cousin Rachel was the movie of choice this week and is based on book written by Daphne De Maurier.

Philip (Sam Clafin) travels to Florence, upon arriving there he discovers his cousin Ambrose has died. With little to go on he builds up a belief that Rachel (Rachel Weisz) has caused his death. When she arrives back to England clothed from head to toe in black and quite grief stricken at Ambrose’s passing, his feelings soften towards her.

He starts to become obsessed by her and her beauty and finds himself falling in love with her.While he is out in polite society, people around him speak in hushed tones about Rachel or those closest to him warn him that she is not all she appears to be and has darker motives and may want his bequeathed estate for herself. Despite falling for her and changing his will, things take place which make him question himself. Is his initial suspicion of her correct? Are her motives pure?

Rachel Weisz is mesmerizing as the literary based Rachel and perfectly inhabits this part. Like Philip based on just a look, we too as viewers constantly question Rachel and whether she is all that she appears. If you like these type of literary adaptations then this is one that is worth checking out or even if you are not, why not go a different route at the movies this week.

Rachel is a mystery and I found myself constantly questioning her and her intentions, right up to the last frame. Even as the credits rolled, I still had a rather large question mark planted in my mind.

…. ????

Wonder Woman

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Do you remember Batman v Superman? I am sure if you happened to be a fan of the superhero genre, you are probably trying to wipe it from your mind and as a fan, we hoped for more. But one of the good things in the movie was the appearance of Wonder Woman ( Gal Gadot ) and someone decided in Hollywood to greenlight a movie just for her. I am here to tell you that I am glad they did, my faith has been restored, I like superhero movies again with a new and renewed passion.

Patty Jenkins is the director this time around – she directed the Oscar winning Monster from many years ago, I may be open to correction but 2003 was the year I think.

Wonder Woman or Diana to give her proper title, is princess of the Amazons. Despite her mother wishing to be other, she is spellbound by the female warriors who live on the the island that she is growing up on. She is trained to be a warrior as she grows up, but it appears that she is no ordinary warrior.

One day while training on her sheltered island paradise an American pilot (Chris Pine) quite literally crash lands onto her island with a band of rather angry German troops in hot pursuit. The world of man has invaded this mythical realm and things are never the same again for Diana. She is convinced that she can help stop this war to end all wars and defeat the forces of evil.

If I did have a little gripe, the final section feels a bit like an afterthought. But this is a minor thing in an otherwise strong and enjoyable movie. Thankfully I did not need the lasso of truth to say that – looked painful!!Ouch!!

 

 

Pirates Of The Caribbean – Salazar’s Revenge

In classic 1930’s Hollywood pirates were cool, then for whatever reason pirates were not quite as cool. But Walt Disney must have watched quite a few of these movies, he still thought that they cool. So much so that he created a ride in his theme parks called Pirates Of The Caribbean. Well every so often a pirate movie was tried but seemed to sink without trace at the box office – Cutthroat Island anyone?

So we come a little more up to date, despite dire predictions The Walt Disney Company decided to expand their theme park ride into a movie. Well were all surprised, it wasn’t half bad and thanks in large part to Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, pirates were cool again. So now we have reached no.5 in the franchise and what’s the verdict.

Not the best of the bunch, not the worst. I suppose a bit like a kid who shouts ” Again, again” and before going on the park ride had one too many sweets, you tend to feel that was fun at first but I think I have had my fill. It might just be time to try another ride in the park, so to speak.

Well Captain Jack is back and Macca too ( p.s that’s Paul McCartney by the way).
I suppose the filmmakers thought we have had one of The Rolling Stones, so why not one of The Beatles, wonder how much he got for that little cameo!! Johnny Depp for sure did for reprising his role!!

Well as our seafaring tale begins, Captain Jack Sparrow is back on the swashbuckling high seas, but a ghost from his past quite literally appears on the horizon in the form of an old nemesis Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). Jack’s only way of keeping his head above water, so to speak is to seek out the Trident of Poseidon and along the way¬†he
must ally himself with a brilliant female astronomer and a young lad in the British navy.

Well a least a movie few weeks ago in the Fast And The Furious franchise had the decency to re-invent itself, but unlike that movie which had a similar running time and zipped along at pace, this one feels a might too long. This tale could have been told in a little less time and it would have made for a much more engaging movie. Oh Hollywood what is your obsession with making so many movies 2 hours plus these days.

I think with this movie that now even die-hard fans of the franchise may want Captain Jack Sparrow to sail off into the sunset and retire to a sun kissed tropical island and count his many golden coins, Johnny Depp probably is!!

 

Colossal

Breathes in – This movie is a metaphorical,a comedic, a dramatic, an action, monster mash up – Breathes out – Phew!! This movie is hard to pigeonhole into one particular category it’s a little bit of all of the above. The movie trailer may lead you to believe that this movie is just a comedy, but it is actually quite dark in parts.

This movie was originally meant to be a small indie Spanish language movie but then Anne Hathaway came on board and the movie became much bigger than initially planned, but it still at heart wears its indie clothes.

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) burns the candle at both ends, so to speak – she likes to drink and party quite a bit. She is a night owl and as she has no job at present, she spends a good part of her days recovering from the night before. Her current boyfriend has lost his patience with her and informs her that when he returns from work, that she no longer be there.

As with many in this situation Gloria returns to the more familiar and what she hopes will provide a new start, she arrives back in her childhood hometown. While wandering around her former neighbourhood, she encounters¬†Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who runs a bar. That’s not really ideal for someone who is trying to stay away from such things.

Well, we all have trouble remembering what happened the night before when we have drunken a little too much. But it turns out that there is little more to a distant monster attacking downtown Seoul than first appears.

This to say the least this is an interesting concept and this movie will not appeal to all, the teaser trailer I feel is a little misleading. You may think that you are going to get a particular movie but what you get as mentioned earlier is a much darker movie, which looks at what destruction can be wrought when you can’t control your drinking. There are certainly moments of comedy in this movie, but it is not a movie that is played purely for laughs

Now that I have told you all that if this movie still peaks your interest, then you may like it. But if this concept sounds a little too off the wall for you, maybe you would prefer something a little lighter and frothier with your popcorn at the movies this week.

Alien: Covenant

I think with this current one, director Ridley Scott may have been infected.
Not by an alien parasite as you might expect me to say, but with a touch of GeorgeLucasitis. See not too may years ago George Lucas decided that the whole Star Wars needed to be told and expanded on the late 70’s / early 80’s trilogy with three new prequels. Now I will leave it up to you to decide whether you think that idea worked or not.

Now back to our director Ridley Scott, maybe he thought that we needed to know how the Alien was born so to speak. I think myself the Wizard of Oz analogy works here. Should we peek behind the curtain what we see is not very scary. Having seen the original Alien and Aliens, not too many weeks ago in anticipation of this movie’s release, I am tending to veer more and more to that point of view.

I suppose I better get onto the review hadn’t I. Well we are out in space, that’s a given and we find ourselves on the Covenant, a colony ship which is composed of couples and a significant number of other colonists and embryos. They are heading for a new distant planet many years away which they are going to colonise and populate.

Well that’s the backstory, now to the main event – the ship’s main skeleton crew of 15 are ripped from their cryo – sleep, by an advancing nutreno storm, disaster strikes almost immediately and their original mission captain is lost.While they are doing repairs,they pick up a faint echo of a message from a nearby planet.

They decide to investigate further as the signs that life might survive on this planet are good, they wonder when doing their surveys how this planet was overlooked. Now the talk starts – do we really need to spend many more years in space, when this one looks like a pretty good place to set up a new home. Yes I think you can see where this is going, we are in the Alien universe after all!!

P.s I should have mentioned earlier that this current mission begins some 11 years after the Prometheus mission and this is more of a sequel to that movie rather than a prequel to the original quadrilogy.

The two actors of note are Katherine Waterston, as the now widow of the original captain. She is certainly channeling a certain other actress in the Alien universe.
Another standout performance is Michael Fassbender playing the duel roles of David and Walter.

It seems that this movie does quite a lot of box ticking from the movies that came before,making sure to add the scenes we expect. Not sure it quite works.

Well I think finally that this movie scores a middling score on the Giger counter,
a little cheeky reference to concept artist H.R.Giger, who gave the Alien
it’s distinctive look, there folks!!
The movie is kind of scary while watching it, but does not linger long in the mind once you have stepped outside the cinema door, I just hope that the next one in the series pushes the scares up a little. I actually want these movies to scare me, be the stuff of my nightmares, this one I have seen scarier things on the bottom of my shoe!!

Movie Themes, don’t dismiss their importance to a movie.

This seems to happen every few weeks, a lot of movies get released then if you have managed to catch most of them and the others you don’t really fancy going to see you find that there is nothing to review.

It so happened this week that I was at a concert to celebrate International Star Wars Day and the soundtrack from quite a number of them were played including the most obvious one. It was played by an orchestra, boy did they sound good!!

This put in mind to me the importance of a movie theme to a movie, if well composed they take on a life of their own and the creator of the soundtrack can come to be as well celebrated as a movie director – John Williams being probably the best known modern example. He has been the choice of many movie directors and the soundtracks he is known for are far too numerous to list here, but there is a good chance that at least one or two of your favourite movies will have a soundtrack written by him.

Is it too much to say that they have become a branch of popular classical music in their own right, well there is good chance that for quite a number of the attendees at the concert that this may have been the first time they ever attended a concert played by an orchestra.

We can sometimes forget how important a specially composed movie theme can be for a movie. Were you to remove it would lessen the enjoyment that is tied up in that movie.
So let us celebrate the movie theme, our movies would not be the same without them.They are so much part of the magic that movies still mean to us, despite all the other things that try grab for our attention in the modern world.

I for one may listen a little closer now when I go to see Alien:Covenant next week to see how that movie’s theme sounds and the emotions it evokes. Look out for the review next weekend.