The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Trailer

Best on a beloved novel by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a film about being on the outside at High School. Apparently the film is “a moving tale of love, loss, fear and hope-and the unforgettable friends that help us through life”. More important than things like plot is the fact that this film marks Emma Watson’s first role post-Potter and as she finished that franchise with the highest acting score (as the charts show), and she is by far the most attractive, we will be watching her performance with great intrigue.

This could be a coming-of-age classic or a pretentious teen drama – though frankly it could also easily be both.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower arrives in UK cinemas on October 5th.

My Week With Marilyn – Review

Before we get onto the film I’d like to tell you a story about how I found the Phoenix Picturehouse in Oxford. Standing in line at the Odeon we noticed that the cinema wasn’t even showing My Week With Marilyn, clearly we were at the wrong Odeon. At this moment two women in the queue abandoned the cinema with one saying to their friend, “there’s still time to catch Marilyn.” Presuming that they meant the film and that they were heading for t’other Odeon we stalked them, darting from tree to lamppost to remain unseen. After a longer than expected stealth walk the two women lead us to a Picturehouse we didn’t realise existed. I love a good Picturehouse and this was no exception: lovely décor and sitting on the back row we had enough leg room to do the can-can had the need arisen. Lovely cinema. ANECDOTE OVER

My Week With Marilyn covers one week of production of the Lawrence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) directed The Prince and the Showgirl, as the star Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) clashes with her director and finds an ally in 3rd assistant director Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne). The much-disputed facts come from the memoirs of the real life Colin Clark so the film takes on a very subjective view of events.

As the film begins we are introduced to Clark, an eager young man with a dream of working in the movies, and the family connections to make it happen. Before long he has gotten himself a job on Lawrence Olivier’s new film, a job allowing him to interact with Dame Sybil Thorndike (played with no effort needed by Dame Judi Dench) and flirt with costumer Lucy (Emma Watson at her more convincing). At this point the film is playing as a enjoyable piece of British period cinema, everyone having fun with their roles, particularly Branagh, and the sense of anticipation at the impending arrival of Monroe was shared by characters and audience alike.

When Monroe arrives everyone holds their breath; while Monroe herself could turn heads, Michelle Williams so captures her essence that it is a marvel to behold. I still can’t decide whether or not footage of the real thing was slipped in as there were moments when Williams simply became Monroe. It is more than an imitation, it is an embodiment.

Having said all that Monroe frustrated me at first, her diva-like behaviour as she was constantly late to set seemed unjustifiable and left me far from sympathetic. It was only later as Marilyn and Colin became close that I began to understand this ephemeral character. With filming stressful Marilyn starts to depend on Colin, bunking off with him and refusing to sleep without him by her side. At this point Williams is able to show the severe vulnerability of Marilyn Monroe and brought some much-needed depth to the character. At various points the script tried to veer Marilyn towards cliché but Williams always managed to steer clear.

As essentially the lead, Eddie Redmayne as Colin was not the most dynamic of characters. Rather than do anything of interest Colin only ever seemed to have things happen to him. Not terrible in itself but I feel like Redmayne has a lot more to offer than this film gave him scope for. The only other true stand-out performance alongside Williams was from Kenneth Branagh who was gleefully camped up for his role as the great Sir Lawrence Olivier. Whenever Branagh was on-screen the film was infinitely better.

While a lot of fun My Week With Marilyn doesn’t have a lot going on beneath the surface. As the epilogue tells you at the end, this week was not the most significant for either Olivier or Monroe. Perhaps it was for Colin, but I’d have rather spent more time watching the two legends go head to head and struggle to work together. Besides, how can you ever sympathise with anyone who lets Emma Watson down?

The Harry Potter Retrospective – The Kids (Charts Ahoy!)

Over the course of the eight Harry Potter films a group of young actors went from amateurs to movie stars, but are they any good? We’ve updated our charts to give you our opinion on who was the best actor and who should give up now.

After each of the eight films we scored Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Tom Felton out of ten for their acting ability, the results can be seen below.

As you can see film seven was the moment when each of the main three had equal acting skills, but from there they each went in a different direction in the final film.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

Daniel Radcliffe certainly looks like the perfect Harry Potter, it’s just a shame that when the films started he was the worst actor of a weak bunch. As with the rest of the kids Radcliffe learnt on the job and gradually got better up until the fourth film where he was required to lose control of his emotions. Anger and sadness at the death of a friend and the rise of an enemy were not within Radcliffe’s range and he dropped back down. From then he slowly recovered while gaining comedy chops in Half Blood Prince and then proper dramatic muscle in Deathly Hallows Part 1.

After the impressive display in Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Part 2 was a step in the wrong direction as his performance became patchy again. When required to be sincere or earnest Radcliffe falls short, and a final showdown against evil is not a relaxed occasion. Regardless, Daniel Radcliffe has come a long way since 2001 and it will be interesting to see him play a different character. We’ll be watching him closely with Excel at the ready.
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The Harry Potter Retrospective – The Films

You may remember that last month we spent two nights at the BFI IMAX watching all seven Harry Potter films over the course of two nights. (Thanks BFI IMAX!) We finished our journey through the franchise on Monday night as we watched and scored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. What follows is a run down of all eight films, written using the increasingly brief and incoherent notes we made at the time. Spoilers lie ahead.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
philosophers stone

In which Harry Potter learns he is a wizard, goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and defeats a teacher harbouring the evil wizard Voldemort at the back of his head.

We start the franchise with an over-long film with terrible acting, odd prosthetics and scenes bordering on pantomime. From the initial scenes with the Dursleys playing out as a knockabout comedy to the final showdown in which a man completely disintegrates, Christopher Columbus produced a completely uneven film which relies mostly on reaction shots for laughs. Horrible acting from the kids is made up for by sheer cuteness and ultimately the film is a bit better than you remember. 6/10

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
chamber of secrets

The series continues with Harry hearing voices and writing in a diary which writes back. Turns out that pesky diary was Voldemort again.

As the kids seem to have experienced a growth spurt since the previous film they are less cute and their acting has improved slightly to compensate. Early scenes at the Burrows with the Weasley parents are great but even Julie Walters can’t make exposition work properly. Jason Isaacs and Kenneth Branagh are pretty awesome but Christopher Columbus again fails to make anything remarkable happen. With students being attacked (but surviving) the series begins its journey into becoming “dark”. 6.5/10
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – Review

For the past three hours I have actively avoided writing this review, struggling to stay objective and discuss the film as if it were any other. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 could have been just another children’s fantasy adventure, yet another sequel and an adaptation of a previous work, but subjective sentiment and a decade of fandom aside, this is one hell of a film.
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