Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is Luc Besson’s latest film and it is an epic visual journey into the world of the cult classic French comic book series Valérian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières.
From what I have read, this film has been a passion project of Besson’s for many years, in fact, he started thinking about making Valerian back when he was filming The Fifth Element! This is rather intriguing as you can clearly see similar elements in both films. Also, according to Besson making City of a Thousand Planets back then would have been impossible due to the technology not being up to scratch, but fast forward 20 years and he has finally crafted the movie (that’s dedication and true passion). And I totally agree with him, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets would have been pretty impossible to make back in the 90’s so I’m glad that he waited because this film is absolutely stunning.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is also the most expensive European and ‘Independent’ movie ever made, which are quite the titles to simultaneously hold. The films independent status comes from the fact that many small production companies came together to get the film made, take a look at this article on indiewire.com as it explains how Besson funded the film. And the fact that Besson is a French film director and that he chose to film the film in France at the Cité du Cinéma film studio near Paris, Valerian is a thoroughly European film.
And let me know what you thought of the film in the comments section.
Bong Joon Ho‘s latest film Okja is a hybrid of genres, there’s comedy, there’s drama, it’s at some points a satire and at others rather horrifying. But ultimately it’s a brilliant film and it may just be the best film Netflix has ever made. My reasoning for this is that the film has a massive heart and at its core is a beautiful and moving tale of friendship and loyalty.
For a film about a CGI pig, Okja is remarkably believable, and interestingly throughout the film, I didn’t for a moment think that she could not exist. Instead, some of the characters like Gyllenhaal’s despicable and slimy Dr Willcox and Swinton’s Lucy Mirando seemed far more unreal in their theatrics than Okja.
And on a less serious note, all I can say is forget Micro Pig’s I want a Super Pig and an unrelenting friend like Mija who will literally travel around the world to save you!
Let me know in the comments section what you thought of the film.
Also while you are here check out my other Film related posts!!
Watch Okja on Netflix
The story of Silence is a painful tale of struggle, religious oppression and a questioning of faith. The film follows Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) on their journey into a Japan that has outlawed the practise of Christianity to find the truth out about their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) and to try and propagate their religion despite the dangerous time they find themselves in.
In conclusion Silence is a painful but essential watch so do yourselves a favour and see this gem of a film right now.
So the third and rumoured final prequel to the original X-Men Trilogy finds us a decade on from Magneto’s stadium moving White House shenanigans that revealed the existence of mutants to the rest of the world, into the 80’s where electro music reigned supreme and the haircuts and fashion were quite questionable, oh and the the end of the world is nigh.
The big bad of the film came in the form of the world’s first Mutant En Sabah Nur who we witness in the prologue of the film (set in Ancient Egypt) greedily transfer his consciousness to another mutant in order to steal his victims power of instant healing thus making himself immortal, however his ceremony is disturbed by a renegade group of rebels who entomb the all powerful mutant under his desecrated pyramid where he slumbers until he awakens in 1983. Interestingly, for most of the film En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse lectures both his followers (the Four Horsemen) and the rest of Humankind for following “Blind leaders” and “False Gods” which is rather ironic as he himself has become the exact thing he is preaching against, a “false god” who is blinded by his own selfish ego which ultimately leads to his demise.
At the foundations of the X-Men franchise is arguably the epically complicated and poetic relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, and with the arrival of Apocalypse their friendship is once again tested. However, Xavier is rather sympathetic towards his dear friend as Lehnsherr seems to be a man of much misfortune. In one the saddest moments in the franchise we see a seemingly settled and domestic Magneto who is both Husband and Father have his whole world turned upside down in a moment of goodness where he uses his secret ability to move metal to save a mans life in his workplace, this backfires as the local police are informed of this thus in a tragic moment of fear an officer shoots an arrow into Magneto’s daughter and wife killing them both immediately, I am always moved by tragedy in films so at this point I cried and willed him to kill them all (that he did do) and I think Michael Fassbender (who is one of the greatest actors working in Hollywood right now) did a tremendous job portraying such betrayal, regret and rage all in one scene.
Perhaps it may be a bold statement for me to make but Evan Peters’ Quicksilver is just the coolest of the X-Men, he steals every scene he is in and his slo-mo adventures are insanely well put together both in spectacle and humour. I thought his invasion of the pentagon was awesome back in Days of Future past but Bryan Singer totally upped the game with Quicksilvers mansion evacuation happening to the most awesome song choice for the moment Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics (being one of the only songs from the 80’s that I actually like, I’m more 60’s & 70’s myself) it was just an instance of a perfect movie moment in my eyes, so much so that I would have to say that X-Men: Apocalypse has been the best Superhero movie this year except for maybe Deadpool, Deadpool was freaking awesome, but then again there were X-Men in his film so basically forget The Avengers Professor X’s X-Men are the real badass’ of the MCU.
A solid entry into the X-Men saga, while En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse seemed like he could be the ultimate foe for the X-Men he came across as more of a delusional spoilt Prince wanting to rule all of humanity for his own selfish ego rather than someone who could destroy and enslave humanity as I thought he would be, this may be because there is just so much other stuff going on in the film that Apocalypse was sort of shunned to the sideline despite being in the films title! However the film was a fun transport back in time to witness younger incarnations of our favourite characters and well Quicksilver you are just damn cool and I could probably just watch a whole movie of him in slo-mo kicking ass and parting around, Marvel/Fox make it happen.
Ben Wheatleys cinematic adaption of High-Rise, the iconic J.G Ballard novel of the same name is nothing short of a heady trip through the decay of a microcosm of modern society. Kubrickian in style and Orwellian in prothetic tone this is a modern masterpiece to feast your eyes and your mind on.
The film opens at the end with a bedraggled Robert Laing creeping around the ruined High-Rise and tucking into a roasted dog on his balcony. This scene right away sets the tone of the film, it’s surreal and totally bonkers. Moreover, starting the film in a non-chronological order shows the viewers the consequences before they see the actions that got the characters to this disastrous place thus a curiosity as to how this happened bubbles. Cleverly, a stark contrast from the squalor of Laing’s surroundings is made when we jump back three months to when the young Doctor arrived into the pristine High-Rise for the first time. His apartment is severe and empty, the self contained amenities such as the onsite Supermarket has a Warholian sterileness to it. This is a Retro-Future that is very much a satire of what today’s society is turning into which is why J.G Ballard’s novel and this movie in turn is still so relevant to a modern audience.
The High-Rise is subjected to not so subtle class divisions, the poor families at the bottom (although they are still wealthy enough to live in the establishment unlike most of society), Upper Class Professionals such as Laing live in the midsection of the building and the top of the High-Rise belongs to the Super Rich and the Architect himself the very regal Anthony Royale who sections himself off in the Penthouse suite complete with a gorgeous garden that Laing is surprised to see a horse on “44th floor”. Everyone seems to get into everyones business in the High-Rise which takes a toll on the usually secluded Laing who begins to slowly become unhinged and the divide between the top and the bottom of the building intensifies as the manufactured society slowly falls to pieces as everyone gives into their carnal urges that result in raging parties, fist fights and rape. This in essence explores the very idea of how the survival of society depends on control and suppression of our innate animalistic desires and pleasure seeking and that such a decayed and damaged society is a feesible future.
In conclusion this film is not for everyone, but for those who long for a return of cerebral and eccentric films that study the human condition then give it a watch and you may just be surprised as to how much you’ll think about it after you leave the cinema unlike the usual mass produced popcorn fare that we seem to greedily consume.
A disturbingly amusing Social Satire that will take you through a diabolically dizzying kaleidoscopic journey through a society governed by debauchery and opulence ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Now I’m off to read the novel by J.G Ballard, care to join me?
Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s latest team up is hardly a film and more like a wildly poetic audio visual experience. From the moment the film begins to when the credits roll The Revenant is an exquisitely engaging affair that transports you into the icy and unforgiving world of a group of fur trappers and hunters trying to navigate the 19th century Louisiana Purchase.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are exceptional in their roles as Hugh Glass and John Fitzgerald respectivley and it is therefore unsurprising that both have received Academy Award nominations for their brutal performances. DiCaprio’s Glass is a man hellbent on exacting his revenge for the unlawful murder of his beloved son and his ferocity and tenacious hold onto his life is somewhat awe inspiring seeing that he almost dies on several occasions (The superbly shot Bear Mauling, near suffocation, Falling off a cliff, being shot at and stabbed) and in most cases it would have been easier for him to give in to the cold embrace of death. And it’s through this obsessive determination that see’s Glass soldier on through one tortuous ordeal after another that when he finally meets with the cowardly Fitzgerald that one of the most nail bitting scenes take place that I’ve seen in a film for a very long time.
Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is perhaps the greatest thing about this film, sure the performances are superb and the soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto is hauntingly beautiful, and theres that certain quote “I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I’d done it already” which is surely going to become iconic someday, but its the visuals of this film that really make it as truly sublime as it is. And while watching The Revenant I found myself comparing it to another piece of Lubezki’s work The New World by the illustrious Terrence Malick. And I found that what these two films had in common (apart from Mr Lubezki) was that they were both slow and poetic journeys and what better way to capture these profound films than with long languid lingering shots of action and in doing so I believe that this film is in all its visceral and grisly realism cinematically perfect.
Overall The Revenant is a gloriously bloody tale of one man’s struggle to appease his desire to seek revenge against another man and if you love great (I need a better word!) exceptional, stunning, awe inspiring, simply sumptuous cinematography and a damn good storyline then go and see The Revenant, yes its 3 hours long but its film making at its finest and those 12 Academy Award nominations just go to prove my point.
J.J. Abrams must have had a massive weight on his shoulders when it came to making this film the latest addition to the much loved Star Wars franchise which has been the most hotly anticipated movie since, well perhaps ever. Did he succeed? By Jove did he, this new chapter in the space epic is both nostalgic and progressive and it feels like a beautiful return to the charm of the original trilogy.
The Force Awakens brings together original characters (Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia and Luke Skywalker) and meshes them in perfectly with a younger generation of heroes (Rey, Poe Dameron and Finn). This meeting of old and new works so well and also brings a fresh energy to the franchise that was thought to be dormant after the substandard prequels. One thing I would criticise is that we didn’t get to see enough of Oscar Isaac’s terrific and very Soloish Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, Isaac is a very talented actor and has appeared in several of my all time favourite films so I was kind of hoping to see him steal the show a little more. But I will say that John Boyega’s doubtful Stormtrooper Finn was absolutely sensational and his scenes with Rey we perfect with the right balance of action and humour.
Let’s talk about the bad guys. Adam Driver (Best known for the brilliant HBO show Girls) plays Kylo Ren like a damaged, angry petulant child and it really works well, his unpredictable moments of rage make him perhaps a little more scary than previous Star Wars villains (Darth Vader excluded of course) and his tie to certain characters give the film a palatable tension throughout. Serkis astounds again with his stunning motion capture skills, this time as the illusive and very creepy Supreme Leader Snoke whose stature and mangled face made for an imposing villain, and while he remains very much in the background, it is likely that Snoke will have a larger part to play in Episode VIII (we shall see).
The cinematography while being ultra modern (those CGI effects were nothing short of breath taking) still felt like the original films which was definitely some thing that made this film feel like it wasn’t just cashing in on the franchise but that it fitted like a glove and is the start of a poetic new story for a new generation of Star Wars fans.
Overall I give this film: *****
(I’m sorry (not sorry) but I had to use the title of Siouxsie Sioux’s song from the Hannibal finale because its awesome and well I’m slightly obsessed with Hannibal, and it kind of fits with the theme of the film being set in a time where same gender relationship were considered criminal.)
Todd Haynes has made a perfect film with Carol, in the lead roles Mara and Blanchett are sensational, the mise-en-scene is sublime, the shooting of the film on Super 16 mm gives it this utterly gorgeous vintage feel and the story is really quite heart wrenching (and while it doesn’t take much to make me cry at the cinema this film hit me quite hard).
Set in 1950’s America, Carol explores the burgeoning relationship between a young shop girl Therese and an unhappily married housewife the eponymous Carol and how giving into their feelings for each other potentially ruins the laters life. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s Semi-autobiographical novel The Price of Salt the film feels very much rooted in realty which makes some of the scenes hard to watch, particularly when Carol and Therese discover that a seemingly kind and down on his luck salesman turns out to be a private investigator charged with the task of gathering evidence for Carol’s Husband to use against her in court and when Carol breaks down in a meeting between lawyers to settle the matter of custody she essentially gives in and admits defeat as there was no way she could win due to the overwhelming evidence of her homosexual behaviour that would essentially deem her to be an unfit mother if it were to be exposed.
All in all Carol is a very important film, it signifies how far society has come from the 1950’s (when a woman had to be psychiatrically tested to see if she was sane for having a sexual relationship with another woman) to now, and while the LGBT community is slowly finding acceptance in society there still is a long way and therefore perhaps this film (like Blue is the Warmest Colour did in 2013) can help highlight the completely and utterly beautiful and real love that two women can share for each other so that society can stop judging and continue accepting.
I give this film: *****
This was stunningly shot, emotionally beautiful cinema at its best and most certainly one of the finest films of the year.
In this final chapter of the Hunger Games franchise Jennifer Lawrence once again shines in the role of Katniss Everdeen the reluctant heroine. The film essentially opens where Part 1 left off, and follows Katniss and co. into the capital to defeat the evil President Snow.
One thing to note in this film (and the whole franchise) is how gender neutral it is, there are both male and female warriors who are complex and interesting and male and female foes who are equally fearsome. This makes for an interesting and relatable storyline, as a woman myself who likes the action film genre I am often left annoyed by the female characters that are reduced to the stereotypical roles of either the Angel or the Whore. But in Mockingjay there is an abundance of very strong women from Katniss to Cressida the fearless documantarian played by Natalie Dormer to the military presence of Commander Lyme (please tell me why we did’t see anymore of Gwendoline Christie?!), Commander Paylor, Lieutenant Jackson and sisters Leeg 1 & 2. This just goes to show that action films can be about resilient and complicated women and still be very successful, Hollywood the ball is in your court.
What I liked about the Film:
What I didn’t like about the film:
Overall I give this film: ***
It feels like a very current film and the important message to take away is that good prevails and that any oppression can be fought as long as the brave and the strong make a stand.