Review: Amy

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I left Amy feeling broken-hearted all over again.

I left Amy full of regret for allowing myself to forget. My justification on my walk back to my car was that our world moves too quickly these days. That events, like the death of Amy Winehouse, disappear all too quickly into rolling news and social media feeds .

I had forgotten about Amy.

I had forgotten how I felt when the news broke at the time.

I had forgotten what a talent she was.

I had forgotten how recent a tragedy this was and most of all I had forgotten what a talent she was.

Asif Kapadia has made a documentary that will serve as a long-standing reminder so that we never forget again. The story of Amy is not sugar-coated, not glamorised and her awareness of her own flaws are on-screen for all to see and hear but what stands out is the loss.

Those who knew her well mourn through their recollections which tell the story for us. Their guilt infused tales pour from the screen like the tears the audience sheds as they listen.

While Winehouse sings her words appear around her and you see the true talent, the writer whose eloquence was hardly ever discussed. We the audience are left to wonder if we will ever see the like again in this X Factor age.

We watch as she receives the Grammy for best record and we see on her face simultaneously all the joy of the moment and the fear of what the notoriety will bring. Among the swarms of press photographers chasing her through London streets we see fear and bewilderment in her eyes.

Comedians tell jokes about her and we the audience feel pangs of guilt as we realise that we all laughed at one time at these now seemingly distasteful gags. Perhaps we all played our part in her demise?

The film however does not appear interested, at any point, of attributing blame for what happened. Where fault lies in the tragedy that unfolded is left for the audience to debate afterwards.

For Amy fans this documentary serves as a tragic love letter of appreciation to a flawed but talented star.

For those who had forgotten how great she was this was a perfect reminder.

I had forgotten about Amy.

Asif Kapadia helped me remember.

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Mid term report : 5 of the best from 2015

Ok so it’s that time of year the mid term report for film goers. What have been the stand out films and what has disappointed me the most.

Firstly the rules. 

Some critics see the film year as beginning once the Oscar for best film is handed out. I however have opted for the bog standard 12 month calendar starting in January and based on UK release dates.

Firstly though lets get the big disappointment out of the way.

Mad Max : Fury Road

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This has been a slightly ‘controversial choice’ as the amount of 5 and 4 star reviews exist in great numbers for me however it was all hype and no substance. In coherent at times and two hours of a chase is a bit much to have to endure. My full review gives more detail but I wasn’t impressed as many have been and while I didn’t hate the film I felt the hype somewhat neutered the haile return of the action film.

Ok so that’s the disappointment out of the way. Six months of cinema going so I’m picking out six highlights.

5. Fast & Furious 7 

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I know what your thinking. How can I not like Mad Max and vouch for this, A-Team for the boy racer generation, never ending series. Well let me explain. Yes it has very little substance but it is aware of it’s own stupidity. The outrageous stunts had the screening I was in laughing and gasping in awe. The Fast & Furious series is not attempting to be some artistic metaphorical wonder but it is aware of what works for its audience. The film may be daft in the extreme but the enjoyment I took away from seeing it was a highlight of the year so far.

4. Ex Machina

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A future classic Ex Machina was a definite highlight of the year. Intelligent sci-fi that left you with more questions than answers. What does it mean to be human? As our desire for the most up to date tech grows will we ever reach the point of creating AI on this scale? One to watch repeatedly and still be left with questions always leaving the viewer on the edge. Ex Machina is a definite candidate for film of the year.

3. Whiplash

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 Walking out of Whiplash I was exhausted but wanted to go straight back in. This film ha d a relentless pace from the first minute and JK Simmons gave one of the performances of the year. Another firm favourite the film raised lot of post viewing discussion around the best methods of bringing out talent and the nature nurture debate raged for a while. A previous blog on Whiplash can be found here.

2. The Look of Silence

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In my review of the Look of Silence I described it as ‘difficult but essential viewing’. I still hold that view and many of the challenging sequences from this beautifully chilling documentary have stayed with me long after the projector stopped. Seek out The Look of Silence  and you will experience one of the finest documentaries made on the last 10 years.

1. Selma

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Selma SHOULD have won best picture at the Oscars. I’m not the only one who thinks that right? Well made, well acted, well directed and with a story retold at a very appropriate time in our current history it should have won. Sadly it wasn’t to be be but it’s impact on me as a viewer has been sustained and it’s effect on my own attitude towards politics and social justice have taken a seismic shift from disillusionment to action. Selma really was everything I want from a cinematic experience and to date the best of cinema in 2015.

So these are some of my favourite cinema moments from 2015 so far what do you think? Do  you agree or disagree? Let me know.

Review – Terminator : Genisys

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When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past and has an unexpected new mission: To reset the future…

Let’s be honest whether it’s the protection of Sarah Connor, the protection of John Connor or the destruction of Skynet over the years we’ve been here before with the Terminator franchise. Sometimes more successfully than others and in it was felt very comfortable being back with old familiar characters (albeit with new faces) and to once again indulge in the chase through time that Terminator films do so well.

Arnie was back and at his robotic best and Emilia Clarke gave a good performance for me as Sarah Connor who for me is the icon of the entire franchise. There were some great high spots throughout the film the standard Terminator chase sequences and  some decent CGI effects but Terminator : Genisys can be summed up in one word problematic.

The stand out problem of he film is the fact that the major plot twist has been given away in a trailer. This is not the fault of the director however if you have sen that particular trailer going in the film holds no major shock at all.

Also problematic is the time travel. While admirable attempts to explain the effect of time travel and its impact on the past and the future, it feels at points, that this particular element of the story could snap under the strain. It was difficult to fully grasp the impact on the future and the final scene of the film appears to make no sense and is simply a half handed attempt to tie up all the loose ends.

However with the problems there are plenty of moments to enjoy and Genisys is worth a cinema trip even for pure nostalgia. I did smile early on travelling back to 1984 allows the film to recreate some of this great scenes from the original Terminator.

Genisys is flawed but in comparison to previous sequels Rise of the Machines & Terminator :Salvation it is a big improvement.

The joke among the podcast crew on Banterflix was that there have only ever been two Terminator films made. I think now that may require an edit. There are at least two and a half.