Category Archives: film

Movember: The Story of Growing Your Moustache Through Film

The business of growing a moustache is an international affair during the month November. Why? Because people around the world are raising awareness to battle prostate and testicular cancer in men. That’s right, we’re campaigning the Tom Selleck way and loving every hairy second of it! The Movember Foundation (which you can visit here) is also putting up a stand against the high numbers of suicide among our XY-partners, stating a  frightening rate one man per minute worldwide.

As a lady, I can only grow so much of a moustache, but that does not mean participation is a no-go! Instead, I choose to honour this great month in the only other way I know how to – through tireless film talk. So, let’s trace the adventures of one moustache in a land of many other moustaches, from incubation to graduation, kick-starting the party with a classic motion picture, one that has stood the test of time – “Spaceballs”.

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Mel Brooks is showcasing the initial stages of a stash through this newbie-friendly arrangement. It’s the barely there look, which is perfect for anyone starting a fresh batch of face fuzz. There may not be much of it at all, but whatever’s managed to manifest is proudly there. It may seem daunting to glance for progress every two hours, but remember – no Gimli has started with a Selleck.

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I know it may seem like quite the leap here, but transitioning from President Skroob to “Napoleon Dynamite”‘s Kip is more about building coverage and filling up the empty spaces, rather than generating actual thickness. This takes patience, we’re still constructing a Taylor Swift, so we shouldn’t be rushing into a Nicki Minaj. Be happy, you’re making a serious commitment to the mission now and we’re all rooting for success.

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Give it another week or two and your bristle companion will be looking meaner, stronger, fuller, more Jack Black-ier than ever before! We’re ready for expansion, we’re no longer trying to break through the moustache game, we’re slowly gaining speed, zooming past its levels like a wrestler body slamming his opponents on a rink of hairy fire. The empty patches that Kip sported are nothing but history.

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See how those ends are flicking down, trying to make a daring escape into the chin area? This is the point where you can freely purchase a gun in the state of Texas, no questions asked. Also, I think I’m joking, but I’m not entirely sure, so please don’t quote me to US authorities. Josh Brolin is nailing the classic lip jewellery in “No Country for Old Men”, keeping perfect foundation, curve and body.

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Notice how the violence in film posters increases in direct proportion to the facial hair volume? Danny Trejo’s mouth handle in “Machete” has surpassed Llewelyn Moss’s notable number, creeping further into the uncharted territory of southern regions. According to scientific research, this particular design is classified as “Vigilante Mop” under the “Crime Avenger” category.

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There’s no return when you’ve committed to Colin Farrell’s distance, which spans vertically and more than halfway into sworn beard realms. Now, beards are forbidden according to The Movember Foundation’s web page, so this is borderline rebellious behaviour. Did that stop Luke? Did it stop Obi-Wan? No, of course not. Be proud of your progress, you’ve got all the elements for a proud cocaine lord stew and they’re brewing together.

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This is the end result of your downward venture, beautifully demonstrated in detail by assassin Jules Winnfield in cult classic “Pulp Fiction”. Warning: not all face shapes can handle the handle, so handle yourself right when handling this issue. One may think they’ve reached a moustache’s full potential at this point, but don’t let a lack of imagination stunt the progression.

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Emperor Ming lives on a rogue planet called Mongo, where advanced face caterpillars are only reserved for tyrannical overlords with Nike logos for eyebrows. Ad well as body, we have now conquered the length variable of our moustache equation, elevating the entire creation to space villain heights. Where could we possible go from here? Surely the sides don’t just continue into a long spaghetti-style braid, right?

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CORRECT! According to laws of nature that I made up half an hour ago, the moustache takes a defying move and springs up into a fine curl once it reaches certain breaking points. As Dustin Hoffman proves in “Hook”, this design can be both classy, comedic, merciless and for best effect – pulled into a tandem with a matching seventeen century wig.

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Moving forward – literally – we’re now concerned with structuring a good 3D impact to your lip crown. The bristle length is clearly increased and a professional twist is required to reach Daniel Day Lewis’s memorable appearance in “Gangs of New York”. You look in the mirror and remember the days when Nacho Libre was your proudest achievement, as you comb down those luscious waterfalls.

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It’s practically impossible to create a suggested evolution of the human moustache without including Tom Selleck with an honourable spot. After all, the man is famous for his enviable mouth locks,  situated neatly between two gorgeous dimples and on top of a voice box ready to narrate action movie trailers. Remember when I said Nicki Minaj was a long way to do? We’ve just reached her.

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The only person who can beat Tom Selleck without resorting to any trickery of the curl, squiggle, vertical drop or parting variety, is Ned Flanders himself. A firmly religious man, who loves a good, trimmed stash as much as he does Jesus Christ. This majestic wall of hair doubles up as a face coat in winter and soup storage for fall.

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We’re almost at the final stages of the growing your lip jewellery. We’ve slowly built the foundation in “Napoleon Dynamite” and “No Country for Old Men”, we’ve poured in the concrete in “Gangs of New York”, and now, crowning one cult classic’s nod-wrothy accomplishment – we have “The Big Lebowski”. Sam Elliott has a specimen of worthy proportion, which will leave any observer in jealous awe.

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Your finished product (obviously we’re expecting this result by the end of Movember) should look something like a Dr. Seuss character, especially a woodland spirit, who wishes to preserve a magical wilderness. The Lorax combines length, body, hang and even stylish layers, while being appropriately voiced by Danny DeVito – a man of admirable moustache skills.

But of course everybody’s genetic pool has slightly different fishes swimming around the hair growth centre, so keep that in mind while comparing your progress with other stash buddies. Movember might equate to Kip at best for some lucky fellows, while others could reach a full Llewelyn Moss without a breaking a sweat doing it. You’re all beautiful, and you’re all raising awareness for a great cause, which is the most important part of all.

So, go out there, gentlemen and show the world just how beautiful your face bling can be, and to all my lovely ladies – take up another challenge from the Movember Foundation web page and fundraise for the future of our other gender.

Much love and a happy November to all!

 

 

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15 Actors Who Happen To Be Vegan

The vegan community is having a worldwide celebration today in honour of the cruelty-free lifestyle, which protects both our planet’s animals and environment. A noble cause, which has been a part of my life since early April this year, when I first began making steps into joining the vegan team. Although having a diet with no animal products is not something new to our history, or a revolutionary idea of the twentieth centuries, it is only now gaining friction with larger audiences through social media and documentary campaigns. So, to join the awareness day, I have compiled a small list of film actors and actresses, who may surprise you by being vegan!

Here we go:

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Whether you are a vegan or not, today is a great opportunity to throw some love into the universe and give animals a surprise cuddle! Unless those animals are venomous or super dangerous, in which case, like, send them kisses from afar.

Happy Vegan Day!

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Halloween Fever: 17 Classic Films

October is the month of falling leaves and warm, pumpkin pies. A season of windy mornings, when you can almost catch a whiff of that chilly winter air, and one of rainy afternoons to sooth the stressful, busy day. As Halloween is on our doorstep, I wanted to lay out a list of my all-time favourite classic fright flicks and hand it over to you under the cloak of witching hour.

So, here we go – embarking on a journey through the land of nightmare fuel.

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Film: “Beetlejuice”

Year: 1988

Let’s start with the king of Hallows’ Day characters – “Beetlejuice”, just be careful not to call his name three times! Otherwise, Michael Keaton will appear in your mirror and probably get super annoyed you’ve summoned him away from home. A highly imaginative, snappy and funny flick, which is not afraid to make you sit through a naughty joke or two. Tim Burton puts life into very memorable characters, creating a film that has lasted the ages.

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Film: “Edward Scissorhands”

Year: 1990

I wasn’t even around when this fan-favourite came around cinemas, but I sure do love it and so does everyone with a semi-good DVD collection. Brace yourselves, children, for this list features Tim Burton creations multiple a-time, and although his latest films haven’t exactly hit the sweet spot in box office terms, once upon two decades ago he was a true master of the craft. Sweet, heartfelt and well-rounded movie, which will make you weep and giggle!

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Film: “Ghostbusters”

Year: 1984

A film praised for its dry, snappy humour and nifty effects, we all know Venkman’s legacy one way or another. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver are the leads of a ghost-fuelled adventure around New York City, which takes them to ancient spirits and fat, green blobs alike. Watch out for the impending invasion of otherworldly creatures that only our band of geeks can prevent. An additional bonus is are the animated effects, which truly send your head into the eighties.

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Film: “From Dusk Till Dawn”

Year: 1996

For the lovers of swear-ridden dialogue and George Clooney’s face, I present to you the Tarantino Delight! Crime, bar fights, weapons, gore, exotic dancers and vampires – everything a spicy Halloween party needs is mushed together in “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Plus, it will give you an immediate excuse to watch the spin-off series on Netflix, which has been gathering friction. You get the movie and the episode binges, too! Win-win. Also, everyone gets street cred for making outdated Tarantino references, right?

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Film: “Hocus Pocus”

Year: 1993

In case your Halloween party has been infested with little goblins, otherwise specified as human children, which… Let’s face it – highly plausible scenario… Then “Hocus Pocus” is here to save the day! I mean night! Three Salem witches are resurrected on the night of many terrors and and only a funky group of local teens can restore peace. It’s witty and exciting in a very charming way, so for the sake of the young ‘uns – give this film a chance!

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Film: “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”

Year: 1992

Now, we’ve already patted Burton’s back (and shall do so again), we’ve shaken Tarantino’s hand, but one mustn’t forget legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who directed this  film back in the early nineties. It stars Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder, which should tell you how compelling the story must be, and how the looming torment is perfected. We’ve seen vampire renditions everywhere, so why not catch a glimpse of their origin – ancient Dracula himself.

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Film: “Sleepy Hollow”

Year:  1999

Nine years after Depp and Burton collaborated on “Edward Scissorhands”, this dark fantasy was born into existence. The familiar tale of a mysterious horseman who chases straying locals in search for his long-lost head, the evil demon who swings a heavy axe and reeks of death itself – brought to life on screen. Turn the lights off and grab an apple cider for the ultimate villager experience.

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Film: “Corpse Bride”

Year: 2005

Let’s play a little game called guess the director and then another one called guess the lead actor, too! No, I’m not sorry this is on the list, because it’s yet another Burton/Depp bromance brain-child, which has rightfully earned a place on the Halloween list. Honestly! I’m not being sponsored by Tim here, although I’d take a sponsorship should he like to give a film nerd some gentle endorsement. Watch the story of Victor, who accidentally finds himself married to… You guessed it! A corpse bride. Will he choose the world of the living or the side of the dead instead?

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Film: “Carrie”

Year: 1976

Stephen King should be a part of any good fright fest and here we have a prime example with the original cinematic experience of “Carrie” – the girl with telekinetic powers whose Christian mother and mean-hearted school mates push the bar on her sanity. The reason I am recommending this above the 2013 re-make is that 1976 wasn’t trying to over-glorify the story! They made a realistic and psychologically torturing film, as opposed to a pile of over-chewed shock factor production design. Also – boobs.

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Film: “Interview with The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles”

Year: 1994

Tom Cruise’s young seduction years and Brad Pitt’s adorable baby face really pulled through on the visual perfection side of this film. The horror and beauty of eternal life are explored deeply in “Interview with the Vampire”, alongside diverse questions of morality and the nature of humanity, which leave the spectator repelled and fascinated with the lives of these modern monsters. A classic for a reason, people! Also, I didn’t know there was more to the title, too, don’t worry.

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Film: “ParaNorman”

Year: 2012

Whoa, this list actually features something from the past five years, what an absolute turn of events here! I remember seeing “ParaNorman” in the cinema when I was in college and loving every second of it. A stop-motion animation which genuinely makes you feel like a kid again, from zombies and old curses to supernatural adventures and a group of young misfits, who come together in an unlikely battle against evil. It’s colourful, fast-paced, childish, charming and funny.

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Film: “Ginger Snaps”

Year: 2000

This is a classic audience splitter. I’ve heard both ends of the magnet, some say they hate it and other say they love it, so beware “Ginger Snaps” might be a bit of a gamble if you have a larger group in your party. I, for one, quite like the werewolf flick, which tackles high school life, love, family, suicide, depression and… Periods? Yeah, you heard me right. I guess blood makes us all a little crazy sometimes – she said, howling against the Halloween moon.

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Film: “Young Frankenstein”

Year: 1974

Why would you watch a seventies film that is  not just black and white, but also made to look like a nineteen-thirties mishap? Because it’s positively hilarious! An original parody of the overused drama in motion pictures of the past, filled to the brim with one-liners and convention twists. Mel Brooks’s baby will bring you cinematic joy in ways that you have not experienced in perhaps a very long time. Plus, one must never have  Halloween without science’s king monster – the unnatural(ly funny)Frankenstein creation itself.

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Film: “Scream”

Year: 1996

Here goes to one of the slasher world’s favourite franchise starters – the original “Scream”, hailing once more from the rather successfully creepy nineties. Bloody knives, the raspy voice of a violent stranger stalking you over the phone and Ghostface’s manipulative obsession make this thriller a Halloween winner. Wes Craven has been a legendary name in the film community, so including him in your celebration can only be the right decision. Also, knowing this film can open your eyes to so many references in surrounding culture, you’ll be stunned to the attic and back.

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Film: “Halloween”

Year: 1978

Speaking of slashers, I couldn’t possibly compile a Halloween list without the actual “Halloween” movie, could I? Another horror and another legendary director – John Carpenter, whose efforts in this flick have made it a timeless piece and a part of many collections around the globe. Here is the origin of the scream queen culture, led long and proud by Jamie Lee Curtis. I would recommend hot cocoa for this particular choice, so as to lower the fear factor.

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Film: “A Nightmare on Elm Street”

Year: 1984

Yet another franchise starter by the talented mind of Wes Craven, here comes Freddie to haunt your Halloween night and following dreams altogether. We step into a realm of non-reality where a serial killer preys on young flesh for harvest. The eighties meet horror, meet high school, meet murder. Great opportunity for drinking games galore, take it from the master!

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Film: “Shaun of the Dead”

Year: 2005

Let’s end our list on a bright note, shall we? All this slasher talk is making my neck cold, so Simon Pegg and Nick Frost burst into the scene, waving a set of random weapons around, hoping to rectify the situation! Mundane everyday life is suddenly made complicated for two best friends, when they stumble upon a zombie in their shed. From then on, we are dragged into a run for our lives and the love of Liz, ending up in an old Victorian pub called the “Winchester Tavern”. A hilarious trip into an endearing story of friendship!

And thus concludes the classic Halloween film list! But of course, all titles mentioned above are a personal choice, so if you think I’ve missed a crucial movie, please let me know. Some honourable mentions to this article include “The Exorcist”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “King Kong” and “Bride of Frankenstein”, which hold a place in my heart, but simply didn’t make the cut. I have tried my very best to not make a horror-exlclusive list, because that would just be… Well, a horror list, and to me Halloween is more than just jump scares and blood – it’s fun, costumes, family, friends and candy.

Have a very scary Halloween and always stay safe!

(and never, ever say that you would be back into a room)

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Halloween Fest: 7 Binge-Worthy Netflix Series

The wait is almost over. Mere hours separate us from a night of witches, ghosts, obscure film references and generally sexual black cats.

One of my all-time classic traditions on Halloween day is to spend an afternoon in the warm embrace of seasonal whiskey and sweet treats. Being a much needed mental preparation for the inevitable army of sugar-starving children, it must always, under all circumstances be carried out correctly! So, in order to honour the spirit (I’m sure there’s a pun in there somewhere) of this custom, today’s article will revolve around some spooky series you can binge watch right now on our loyal Netflix companion. Here we go:

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I mean, do we need further explanation than the title itself? Five of the six existing seasons are currently available for immediate streaming including “Asylum”, “Freak Show” and “Hotel”, as well as personal favourites “Covent” and “Murder House”. Pick the theme of your party or fright fest session from this plethora of conveniently diverse scenarios and you’ve got yourself a killer party… Get it? Because killer… I’ll get my things now…

Pro: It’s a promise of long-lasting creeps and an addiction.

Con: There will always be one horror hater on the scene.

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That’s correct, ladies and gentlemen – “Goosebumps”, our favourite nineties television series, has returned full force. A lot of middle-parted hair and bulky technology make for great laughs and a tonne of reminiscing. Remember the days when Ryan Gosling was just a suburban teen whose future got predicted by a magical Polaroid? I’ll omit the episode name. Google it over a shot of Jim Beam Apple Spice whiskey and sit back for a bumpy ride of fright and giggles.

Pro: Short episodes, perfect for spicing up a party between other games.

Con: So nineties, it actually hurts.

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If you have managed to miss the “Stranger Things” buzz – now is the ideal time to catch up and share our mass obsession! Science, mystery, friendship, love and loss all come together in the amazing mix that is the childhood of a group of suburban children. Refresh your memory on Dungeons and Dragons, sit through a hefty dose of inhumane mutant experiments and jump to the Upside-Down monsters, all in the embrace of chocolate spiders and jelly snakes… And waffles.

Pro: Engaging, relevant and well-written.

Con: Cliffhangers be cliffhangers.

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The rollercoaster of throwbacks continues, I wouldn’t dare to disappoint, and “Charmed” won’t either. The show premiered back in 1998 and ran up until 2006, so parts of it are still quite relatable, albeit an abundance of awkwardly cropped shirts and tank tops. We’ve gone through ghosts and science gigs, so let’s shove some witches back into the mix (and their super cool attic, too).

Pro: Five seasons of witch drama.

Con: Zero street cred in 2016.

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There’s a wagon approaching and just as your tickets says – we’re heading to zombie central. This witty, modern take on a low-key undead outbreak is so entertaining in its long-term plot line that it is sure to keep you connected for hours on end, but also remains to keep a snappy originality to every episode. Personally, I would recommend a nice drinking game as company, lots of red velvet cake and even more strawberry syrup for effect.

Pro: It’s often comedic as well as dramatic.

Con: Falling in love with the cast to a point of mild obsession.

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The latest successor of Hitchcock’s “Psycho” empire is this psychological (duh), steady-paced drama starring Vera Farmiga (aka lady from “The Conjuring”, you’re welcome) and Freddie Highmore (aka dude from… “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”?). Anyway! This a more relaxed Halloween type of treat, burning the fires of horror nice and slow, with lesser focus on jumpy shock factors.

Pro: Steady and intriguing.

Con: If you’re looking for jump scares – look away.

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I just couldn’t do a Halloween list and forget to include the spin-off series of cult classic slasher “Scream”, could I? No way! Also, look at that alliteration game – so strong! Is it a good series? No way. Will it do the job? … Kind of? Yeah? It has great cliffhangers and little twists towards Ghostface’s identity, which make for a great topic of argument at parties. However, don’t expect a groundbreaking addiction.

Pro: Fun who-done-it element for groups of friends.

Con: Film remains unbeaten. Period.

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Well, here we are at the bottom of my list! I hope you enjoyed this little article of recommendations. For argument’s sake, I would just like to point out that the UK availability of Netflix shows has been taken under consideration. Does your country have different series to binge? Do you think I’ve missed a pretty big title? Share them with me and we can all have a spooky discussion!

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Academy Award Nomination Predictions

‘Tis almost the season of red carpets, cheesy gratitude speeches and televised reaction shots! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the award months are close at hand, thus making bloggers and film nerds buzz with childish excitement. The Golden Globes are lined up first, coming in early January. Britain follows closely with own BAFTA awards, both of which will culminate in one star-studded night to rule them all – the Oscars. Throughout the years I have created a ritual of sacrificing a good night’s sleep for the purpose of watching their ceremony live, which means the dead of night here in London. Next year will be no different, I shall sit on my desk with a live Twitter feed and shamelessly feast on chocolate buttons. Today, however, we’re setting a new tradition, where I’ll create a forecast of nominees, you’ll tell me if I’m right or wrong, and then we can all have a ball at the end of February. Does that sound the deal of a lifetime? I thought so.

Well here they are, my ‘expert’ predictions of winning names and faces, which will be graced with the big news in a month’s time. Let’s dig in.


 

 

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Thusly, ladies and gentlemen, we conclude the 2016 nominee predictions. Now the only thing left to do is wait for January and find out exactly how many I screwed up.

Stay awesome!

Megs x

Film Reviews: “Joy” (2016)

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“Joy” has been a very long-awaited drama by David O. Russell and his usual ensemble of screen favourites, which I am sure you’ve heard of by now. It’s been gracing every underground station and double-decker bus, after all! Jennifer Lawrence has taken on the eponymous role, Robert De Niro plays her whimsical father, and Bradley Cooper is a savvy, television salesman. What an intricate, delicately-woven story writers Russell and Annie Mumolo have given creation to! Although I can tell you right now, the film deserves a prime spot on your January must-do list, let me explain why that is.

Joy Mangano is a divorced mother of two, who lives in a house with ex-husband Tony, mother Terri and gran Mimi. Their domestic abode is a chaotic mixture of financial strains, zero sleep, cheesy television operas and a daunting lack of any perspective for the future. Life is a boring, customer service work and a messy, broken home. Her father Rudy circulates dating adverts and services, coming in and out of his daughter’s life. Thinking it must be destiny, he begins a serious relationship with wealthy widow Trudy. One day Joy and her family find themselves on Trudy’s yacht, where after a wine spilling accident, Joy is left with cut-up hands. This gives her the ingenious idea of a revolutionary mop, which doesn’t need to be touched to be washed. It becomes clear that Joy has had brilliant invention ideas in the past, primarily as a child, which however, would get shut down by unsupportive parents. This time she isn’t letting go of her talent. Instead, she is more than determined to use it. Joy crafts her first Miracle Mop with help from best friend Jackie. Trudy is slowly persuaded to invest money in the product, thus giving Joy a business of her own. Step-sister Peggy is outlined as the most unsupportive and selfish being in their midst, constantly envious of any success Joy might accomplish. What the airport-worker-turned-inventor doesn’t know is that she is falling on a path of disappointments. Trudy gets her a shady contractor in California, Peggy and Rudy coil together behind closed doors, a second mortgage on the house is on the way and other people are out to steal Joy’s clever idea. Tony, being a close advisor to Joy, pushes her a slot with Neil Walker – an executive at QVC. After a small trip-up, Joy decides the bets way to sell her mop is appear on television herself. The sales begin piling, numbers keep rising. The Miracle Mop becomes a triumph. However, the world is closing in and Joy is in the centre. Most people she has trusted seem to have ulterior motives, and there’s a bigger battle waiting to be fought. Will the Miracle Mop be the answer to Joy’s prayers? Will she save her family from homelessness and bankruptcy, or are too many people trying to destroy her way to success?

Firstly, let me start off by saying this tandem is not a newly-found one. Last time we saw David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, they were sitting at the 85th Academy Awards. “Silver Linings Playbook” was a cinematic victory among audiences and critics alike. “Joy” pulls on some of the same strings – damaged families, broken people, subjectivity to a seemingly hopeless protagonist, who receives a chance to become their best self. In that aspect, the production is once again successful in its predecessor’s strongest points. That’s one of the reasons we’re hearing heaps of Oscar nods this year, “Joy” happens to be a safe guess for most.

Jennifer Lawrence is gentle in her madness, gracious in her blinding disappointment and fearless in the matters of her business. She is a well-developed character, who sees a lot of change and transforms along with it. Although she isn’t a glamorous, flamboyant and gorgeous figure, we still cheer the rugged housewife on. She makes the working class easily relatable, which is one of Lawrence’s greatest strengths. There is a quality in her acting, which combines the girl next door and the female warrior, intertwining their best and worst features together. In that way, she is unvanquished in “Joy”.

Virginia Madsen plays mother Terri, whose fear of bracing life after divorce is more than evident. She barely leaves her bedside and involves a great amount of time in a soap opera show so outrageously exaggerated, it manages to seep into Joy’s dreams. Madsen crafts a pitiful look at an older, single woman, who suffers in finding happiness. She manages to create an easily dislikable woman and parent, who steps up to redemption in the very last second.

That’s exactly the opposite of what I can say about Robert De Niro’s Rudy. He starts off being in the focus of better parenting. He has moved on with life, being humorous and enjoyable in light of his own, failing romantic chaos. However, as our story progresses, we peel away the layers of caring father, and reach an oblivious and reluctant man, who makes a show of love that isn’t there. We learn to feel disgusted with him and instead, realise how important Terri really is.

If this were a Shakespearian play, Peggy and Trudy would be the vile witches, while Tony and Jackie’d fill the shoes of queen guards. Although all four roles are secondary, that does not reduce their influence in the story. We connect to the sides they represent a lot better with the strength of their characters.

Over all, “Joy” is a film, which portrays struggle to regain lost hope and the possibilities life holds for those willing to enter the battle. David O. Russell tells this true story with a diverse glimpse at filmmaking and a first class script. Jennifer Lawrence is truly bathing in positive recognition for it, which is well deserved. A great January watch and perhaps even a DVD collection entry. As far as dramas are concerned, “Joy” pushes its way through to the finish line.

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Christmas Film Reviews: “It’s A Wonderful Life”

Here we are, folks, at the very end of my December countdown. It’s Christmas morning, I have my trusty coffee and a slice of Alaskan bombe. Although the streets outside are devout of snow, today feels festive enough solely in spirit. True, I wouldn’t have minded a nice pile or two to dive in, but London persistently refuses to make a habit of that. Anyway, I’ll jump straight into my film recommendation for the big night.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” is perhaps the most well-known Christmas production of all time. Undoubtedly, a classic which has withstood the tests of time and the tidal wave of quality competition thrown its way. Released back in the cold winter of 1946, this film acted as a much needed reminder of life’s beauty. Ugly pictures of war and death had been showering newspapers and television programmes for too long. Hollywood’s first step towards reflecting this recovery came in motion pictures. “A Beautiful Life” was the only movie ever completed under director Frank Capra’s independent studio – Liberty Films. His desire to break free of the Golden Age’s repressive, Capitalist exploits, gave the project five Academy Award nominations and with a reason.

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Enter George Bailey – Bedford Falls’s most altruistic and kind-hearted resident. His only dream is to see the world, explore everything life has to offer outside the boundaries of New York. Every time a door seems to open and give him a glimpse of those desires, someone runs by slam it shut. Instead of leaving for South America before college, George stays behind to run the family business after his father’s sudden death. The boy manages to save up for tuition fees once more, but ends up giving the money away so that younger brother Harry could receive an education instead. He protects and helps Bedford Falls’s people agains the overhanging tyranny of loan shark – Henry Potter, whose cruel intentions benefit no one, but his egocentric self. However, things are looking up when George marries the love of his life – Mary, a girl he’s known since childhood. They create a family and nestle down in an old house. Years go by and children start spurting, four to be exact, their affordable housing business seems to be thriving better than ever, life is looking up. In the peak of his happiness, a disaster comes to tear the joy apart. George is painfully used to being ripped off in one way or another, he rolls with the punches and tries to keep walking. However, that night is particularly daunting, leaving him in a desperate and suicidal track. George decides to jump off a near-by bridge and end the hurt for ever. Little does he know, Clarence the angel is watching over him that night. An angel who will make a single wish come true – let George see the world as it would have been if the man had never been born. A picture of decay and misery unfolds, playing out every worst scenario the town could have imagined. George learns just how important his kindness was to everyone around and releases the tunnel vision of success for the bigger picture of humanity. Upon realising life is an amazing gift, which should never be wasted on cruelty and disregard, he begins being Clarence for a chance to go back. Once more hug from his children, one more kiss from his wife, a chance to apologise and re-estimate his values, that’s George’s biggest Christmas desire. Moreover, surprises come stacking when the man returns home, and the puzzle pieces finally fit together, because life is truly an amazing treasure.

Take this as a promise from me – this film will melt your heart. The phrase “they don’t make them like they used to” is in full effect here, proving that old pictures have a quality about them that a blockbuster just cannot replace. Its script, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett is romantic, funny, happy, exhilarating and painfully honest about pain and struggles. The dialogue flows like a river, turbulent with snappy George’s humour and rhetoric, yet calm with its authenticity. It manages to touch big themes will small sentences. “What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary,” George said on his first date with future wife Mary. Infinitely beautiful their lines are to listen and see, about that there is not a single doubt inside my mind.

James Stewart is a name that should be a part of your film repository. An actor, father, war hero and generally kind human being, Stewart could not have been a better fit for the role of George Bailey had he consciously tried to be. He is absolutely extraordinary, quiet, but understood, funny, yet truthful and serious. Nothing more could I have asked from his character or portrayal, because Stewart masters both to perfection. His blue eyes stare at you through the black and white picture, digging holes inside your soul only to bury a seed of subtle positivity and joy.

Henry Travers is in the role of Clarence, who we only get to see for half the movie. In that time, however, he manages to become irreplaceable as a plot point and influence, creating an unshakable staple of the timeless tale. The angel who wants to get his wings and gives a small-town man a second chance at life, is the sidekick every person needs. Another supporting role goes to Donna Reed, who encapsulated George’s intelligent, funny and supporting wife Mary. The two’s connection shakes the ground with forceful tremors, leaving its audience wishing they had a romance of such proportions. From that first date, to their embrace over the phone and calm marriage that followed, a picture of an ideal is painted. Although critics gave Capra a hard time about his characters’ unrealistic idealism, they later re-visited that opinion, which was inevitable. It’s a chemistry and a love story, which surpass superficial expectations.

The theme of suicide is explored in one of the film’s culminations, which leaves spectators on the edge of their seat. George is someone we have created a relationship with and having to see him pushed to the limits of disappointment hits us just as hard. Capra does not simply gloss past the issue, dwelling into it through Clarence and George’s conversations. That’s partially what makes the recovery so powerful. We’ve seen the lows, we’ve hit rock bottom, so having a kick start back into happiness in its purest form feels exhilarating.

If you hadn’t figure it out by now, “It’s A Wonderful Life” could very well be one of my favourite films, period. It holds quality, which we rarely get to see in mass cinema nowadays, its cast is more than perfect for the complex set of characters we explore, and the rollercoaster of emotions leaves us gasping with overwhelming joy. There is nothing more that I could wish for in a perfect Christmas film. This is everything and more.

Now, have yourselves a very merry Christmas!

Thank you for following my blog this past year and hopefully I can continue to entertain you throughout the next one!

Stay amazing!

Megs X

Christmas Film Reviews: “Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

Long and furry fingers grace two horrid, bony arms,

in their middle is a tummy full of smelly, trash bin charms, 

when night fall comes, he watches all that sleep,

for evil plots are conjured in this green and spoiled creep.


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Jim Carrey is in the role of Grinch, Dr. Seuss’s beloved Christmas villain. Excuse my astonishingly bad rhymes there, but I thought the best way to start off a children’s character is by couplet-ing my way in. The film was directed by industry titan Ron Howard, who holds movies such as “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) & “The Da Vinci Code” (2006) under his belt. Now that we know both cast and mastermind are skilfully chosen, let’s venture into the plot itself.

Whoville lays tucked in the snowy mountains of a snowflake. Its people are polite and helpful, living together in their small town community. Towering above them, in the depths of a hill, is the Grinch’s dusty abode. He watches them throughout his days, as Christmas approaches, and makes evil plans to steal away the joy. That is until a little Cindy Lou Who, one kind and thoughtful child, remembers the lonely creature and decides to present him with a gift of friendship. She nominates the Grinch for a prestigious award, making him socialise with past family and friends in Whoville, rather than hide. We become acquainted with a past, which triggers sympathy and sadness, but can ego-centric mayor Augustus and his girlfriend Martha May turn their attitudes around? Can they right the wrongs of a childhood long-concealed? The Grinch isn’t willing to wait for an answer even a second longer, setting a plan to sweep Whoville’s houses of their precious offerings at once. It’s Cindy Lou’s last chance to change his mind and heart. It’s the final plea to make him see a light within the darkness.

Well, here comes our show-stealer – Grinch himself, who absolutely nails the eponymous archetype with flying colours. Although Cindy Lou (Taylor Momsen) sticks close behind, it’s Jim Carrey’s slapstick movements and brilliant grump portrayal that take the prize home. Mannerisms are an important attribute to any good comedy and Carry is famous for his physical capabilities, so being able to transfer them onto the Grinch gives the Dr. Seuss creation an entirely new dimension. Don’t get me wrong, the storyline had been explored in a television series many a-year before that. However, live action gave both kids and adults a fresh look at things.

Taylor Momsen was fluid and clever – carrying the phantasmagoric Whovian costume as naturally as her own outfit. No teeth, ears or braids felt out of place, props to the six-year-old girl, who carried them like a champion. Although Taylor has changed direction with a singing career in rock music, the role will remain a part of her professional affiliations for ever. She was the sweet child who saved a hopeless Grinch and turned hatred into love.

As far as production design is concerned, it’s refreshing to see a physical set up, opposed to a green-screened computer animation. We see the convenience of manufactured graphics entirely too much nowadays, so a large part of “The Grinch”‘s charm comes from its adorable set. To kids, this wouldn’t make much of a difference, but trust me, grown-ups of the world, that fuzzy Christmas feeling will flow a lot easier after watching a throw back like this. Ron Howard’s vision of the production definitely surpassed any expectations Dr. Seuss fans could have conjured. The live action rendition of “The Cat in the Hat” (2004) proved to be another challenge, which, however, failed to please audiences and was generally received badly by both viewerships and critics.

In summary, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is an amazing, heart-warming tale of grand imagination and comedic threads. Ron Howard’s spin of the all-time book classic has now become a classic in its own right. Jim Carrey’s green creature is an image I grew up with and never want to part, Taylor Momsen’s Cindy Lou gives children an image of kindness to strive to. All of these ingredients combine perfectly in a Christmas dessert worthy of a film night home.

Stay awesome!

Megs X

 

Christmas Film Reviews: “Elf”

You didn’t think I’d get through the entire countdown and forget about Will Ferrell‘s syrupy spaghetti, did you? I mean, holy nutcrackers, what kind of blogger do you take me for? This A-lister went on the Jimmy Fallon show last week to excitedly announce his position as upgraded St. Nicholas, which surely tickles us all. From this point forward, Yule is expected to be equal parts exciting, hilarious and mildly inappropriate, so tuck in! It’s forming to be quite a ride.

“Elf” was released back in 2003, starring said comedy titan, plus the likes of James Caan, Peter Dinklage and Zooey Deschanel. At the helm of this ship stands Jon Favreau, who might ring jingly bells from the “Iron Man” franchise. However, during its relatively short life, the flick has managed to reach and surpass competitive heights in the Christmas film category.

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We start at the beginning of things. Buddy is a newborn baby, who accidentally hitches a one-way ride from the nursery to the North Pole in Santa’s slay. Facing no alternative option, Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), the head helper, raises him as one of their own with care and love, no matter how awkwardly tall Buddy keeps on growing. One day, the truth manages to escape. Buddy’s biological parent is a publishing magnate called Walter – a humbug, and a human one at that! A trip to New York City ensues, aimed to spread festive spirit through the force of family values. Buddy makes friends with younger brother Michael (Daniel Tay), kind of scores a job at Gimbles and falls head over heels for Jovie, a co-worker with a lovely voice. Although Walter is greedy, selfish and work-obsessed, perhaps Buddy will manage to get past his chilly exterior. Who said even the hardest of hearts couldn’t be melted with some Christmas joy? After all, the best way to spread cheer is sing it aloud for all to hear.

Not much of an introduction can be given to Will Ferrell. He has been in the television and film industry for over two decades, spanning between SNL glory and silver screen success. Audiences tend to recognise a comedic talent when they see one, which explains how he was spotted as early as 1997. Buddy is portrayed with such childlike naïvety and tireless positivity that no stone remains unturned on the feel trip of his family reunion. Ferrell has mastered an iconic blank expression, which is open to conveying every emotion a kid surrounded by infinite wonder would have. His performance, as usual, is tummy-turningly done, case and point being the gum chewing scene upon his NYC arrival. Pure gold.

Zooey Deschanel contributed to the visual ensemble, yet also landed a helping hand to the audio devision of this production. Her voice is the first sound that draws Buddy to a friendship. She’s the anchor, which keeps him from losing grip with optimism. The two quickly find chemistry together, even if it is not a sexual one, which throws a sprinkle of romance in “Elf”. Deschanel’s natural ability to impart sardonicism and do it with a charming smile really takes to the dark humour spectators, myself included.

I’ll keep this review a comparatively short one. After all, there’s only one more day until Christmas! You’d rather be re-pinning photographs of cakes and turkeys rather than reading analytical film articles, and you know what, I don’t blame you one bit. Christmas is a time to sit back and take a look at life’s bigger picture. Sit back and relax with a good movie!

Stay awesome!

Megs x