The Hate U Give

Didn’t manage to see this at the cinema so only just caught up with it.

I don’t pretend to know the world this film is set in however, the fact that this story has any ring of truth to it at all is saddening (and it feels safe to say, it has more than a ring of truth to it).

Reading the background to the film, based on a young adult novel by Angie Thomas, perhaps explains some of its less balanced elements.

The story is a complex one and while the complexity is well realised, especially in the central performances of Amandla Stenberg as Starr and Russel Hornsby as her father, who is in a constant battle to find a way to teach his kids the delicate balance between embracing their heritage while realising it is also seen as a threat to some, it does occasionally slip into over simplification, making it feel a little tonally unbalanced.

But that said, while it’s not perfect, the central story is so powerful its easy to forgive those slips, Stenberg captures Starrs struggles brilliantly, drawing you in to her internal challenge to decide on what’s right for her, her friends, future and community.

It is also not afraid to ask questions about why Starrs community is seen as it is and how the community itself can perpetuate dangerous misconceptions.

A film that doesn’t always quite work, still presents a powerful and complex story, not a film made to “enjoy” but one to watch and appreciate that as difficult as it is to comprehend, the story does portray a very real problem and for that is well worth the watch.

The Kid Who Would be King

Trouble with watching a lot of films is when you are on a plane and looking for something to entertain away a couple of hours you’ve invariably seen most of what’s on offer and you have to search the lists looking for something you’d missed at the cinema.

The Kid Who Would be King, was one such gem, apparently had some sniffy reviews, but genuinely can’t see why.

A good hearted old school adventure, built around the legend of King Arthur, updated and set in contemporary England, where a group of school kids step up as modern Arthur and his knights.

While the story arc doesn’t take you anywhere surprising, its warm heart and likeable central performances keep you cheering the kids on in their adventures. As with all good legends it comes with a message “working together and for one another can make a difference” , it also has a thick slice of social commentary but just about stays away from been too preachy.

Don’t think it was a huge cinema hit, which is a pity as it deserves an audience for bringing a proper old school family adventure to the screen, go find it and give it a watch.

Dora the Explorer and the Lost City of Gold

I’m not exactly the target audience for this and my kids a little old for Dora now, but my daughter in particular, enjoyed the adventures of Dora, Backpack and Boots when she was growing up, so how would Dora the movie stack up?

Pretty well it would seem, a really enjoyable, warm hearted and fun big screen, live action transition for everyone’s favourite young explorer.

Dora played with a real charm by Isabela Moner, sees the film mixing smart nods to the original cartoon with a fun Indiana Jones, Tombraider adventure, making full use of and knowing nods to the Explorer adventure movie genre.

Moner is well supported by a good central cast, who all bring the necessary fun and energy to the film.

A really well done and lovingly handled film version of the cartoon, plenty of fun for kids and grown up kids alike.

The Breadwinner

On a bit of a mid week home film night I wanted to try something on my watch list, so up popped The Breadwinner.

Some of my favourite films are animations and not just the gorgeous work of Pixar but also those you’d class as “world cinema”, think Ponyo and Kubo and the two strings.

The Breadwinner falls into that category, beautifully telling the story of Parvana, a young girl in Taliban controlled Afghanistan who finds herself the titular Breadwinner when her father is imprisoned.

It follows her struggle to see him again and takes her on a journey filled with stories of friendship, love and kindness in the face of violence and oppression, she is carried along and given strength by sharing a magical story of a small boy and an evil elephant

A gorgeous animation told with a real charm, covering a difficult story with the tenderness and magic only animation can really do. A lovely watch.

Beautiful Boy

A tough one this, not a film to enjoy, the topic doesn’t really allow for that.

As a parent Steve Carell captures the desperation and feeling of hopelessness as he watches the catastrophic impact of drug addiction on his son, Timothee Chamalet is fantastic as the titular beautiful boy, portraying the slip into addiction, the problems of trying to quit and the personality shift from nice kid to selfish self destructive addict.

The issues for me perhaps come from it been based on the books of both Nic and David Chef, making it sometimes feel a little disjointed as it attempts to portray both sides of the addiction story.

It is a tough story which makes it a hard watch at times, but glad I did.

Blinded by the Light

I’ve realised I’m a sucker for a film about family, one’s working through hardship before all becomes right with their world. Blinded by the light ticked all of those boxes and I Loved it, joyous and heartbreaking in equal measure.

Built around the music of Bruce Springsteen, at one end presents the joy of watching our central character as he fights for his dream of being a writer with the words of Springsteen inspiring him, the tragedy of his proud fathers struggles and some of the ugly realities of Thatchers very divided 80’s Britain.

Laughed and cried throughout and don’t worry, if your not a fan of Springsteen, I’m not either, but loved this all the same.

One of my favourite films of the year so far.

The Upside

Movie night at home tonight so we caught up on The Upside and have to say really enjoyed it.

I’ve never seen the Oscar winning French original, so I had nothing to compare it to, but a touching story, well cast with fine performances from Hart and Cranston with a lovely understated performance from Nicole Kidman.

It had laughs, but many more thoughtful and touching moments… With Kevin Hart showing something more than his usual quick quipping comedy routine.

Hobbs and Shaw

Did feel like all the best stuff was in the trailer with this, there was fun to be had with some great choreographed set pieces, Dwayne Johnson is always fun on screen, Idris Elba played a mighty fine bad guy, but Vanessa Kirby stole the show.

All that said, nothing original, a stock action adventure in reality, with some wit and humour but perhaps not enough.

Wifes review “Bangy crashy fun” sums it up perfectly.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Apparently, this is one of those films you’ll love or you won’t.. Sadly a won’t for me.. It’s not that there aren’t things to enjoy and Tarantino certainly knows how to make a film with the feeling of time and place brilliantly set and Di Caprio and Pitt as always are good to watch.

But that said it’s an odd film, long at 2hr40 and the whole premise is both strange and unclear, the film seems to meander from one vignette to another with no real clear thread running through it, as with all films like that, some vignettes work better than others…

The film ends in glorious Tarratino style, but not sure the payoff was worth the wait.. Sure many will love it as the reviews and IMDB score suggest, didn’t work for me.. But may well for you

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