Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017 dir. Martin McDonagh)


Frances McDormand in the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

10 months after the rape and murder of her teenage daughter Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) decides to put up three posters on unused billboards outside her town. These billboards confront the local police, in particular the much loved police chief William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) angering his idiotic deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) and the townsfolk. What proceeds are unforeseeable darkly humorous scenes between Mildred and all who get in her way.

The film is good, crisply written and performed by the three leading actors, with McDormand being nominated for a best actress Oscar. However the content is over reliant on the main protagonist’s story and as a consequence fails to explore the racial issues which the film makes fleeting references to. This, in my opinion is careless, and will not sit well with many in the audience. Mildred is amoral, we get that, but the plot’s halfhearted mention of racism and police brutality seems like a very shallow accessory used to decorate the plot rather than establish any kind of dialogue.

Nonetheless, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is worth watching. It is very funny and will have you laughing with out question one minute and teary eyed the next.

Hunt for the Wilder People (2016 dir. Taika Waititi)


Hunt for the Wilder People is a comedy about the adventures of 13 year old Ricky Baker (Julian Dennisson) and grumpy middle-aged Uncle Hec (Sam Neil) following the death of Ricky’s foster mother and Hec’s wife, Bella. The film concentrates on the main characters’ friendship, which goes from dysfunctional to brotherly over its 101 minute running time. In the backdrop is a calamitous manhunt by the Child Welfare Sevices, the police and eventually the army.

Hunt for the Wilder People does not take itself too seriously and works both as a family film and one that is targeted at an adult audience.

Neil and the rest of the supporting cast give a witty and entertaining performance, but the real star of the film is Dennisson, who is utterly hilarious as the gangster obsessed wild child and manages to steal every scene that he is in. I would highly recommend this film.

My Old Lady (2014 dir. Israel Horovitz)


My Old Lady is a comedy drama about a troubled American, Mathias (Kevin Kline), who inherits his father’s apartment in Paris only to discover that it is inhabited by 90 year old ‘viager’ Mathilde (Maggie Smith) and her daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas). The viager system for buying and selling apartments means that Mathias will not get the apartment until Mathilde dies, and that while she is alive he must pay her €2400 a month.

Recovering alcoholic Mathias is broke and homeless and Mathilde allows him to stay with her in exchange for his watch. Whilst there he plots to sell the apartment to a wealthy lawyer, upsets Chloe and secretly sells and pockets money in exchange for their precious vintage furniture.

He is obnoxious and yet through the retelling of past experiences is able to eventually bond with the pair.

This is a sophisticated film with a complex and entertaining storyline that though meanders to a somewhat predictable end, remains engaging and funny throughout.

Paradise: Love (2012 dir. Ulrich Seidl)


Paradise: Love is a quirky black comedy set in modern-day Kenya. It is part of Seidl’s Paradise trilogy which features films Paradise: Faith and Paradise: Hope.

It is the final instalment and follows 50-year-old Teresa, a lonely over weight and stressed out Austrian, who goes to Kenya to meet up with a friend. Locally her friend is known as a “sugar mama” which basically means a kind of sex tourist, picking up young black Kenyan men for sex in exchange for money and expensive gifts, she boasts about buying her lover a motorbike as an investment toward her sex life and later buys a dancer to perform at Teresa’s birthday gathering with the intention of having sex with him.

At first Teresa is subdued, shy and giggly. Although intrigued by the Kenyan men she is uncertain about picking them up and literally runs away from her first sexual encounter.

At times the film is awkward as Teresa and friends talk about all the Kenyan hotel workers looking the same. The women objectify the Kenyan men referring to them as wild and exotic. During the story Teresa becomes less and less innocent as do the men she picks up.

Paradise: Love is a brave film which is both harsh and tender with an excellent performance by Margarethe Tiesel.


The Wolf of Wall Street (2012 dir. Martin Scorsese)


Sandra’s Verdict

There are a lot of films based on true events out at the moment and The Wolf of Wall Street in that sense is no different. However unlike some of those films, which tend to trace the steps of the virtuous and high-minded as they battle through prejudice and other adversities, The Wolf of Wall Street gives audiences a kind of respite, allowing us to revel in the vulgarities of 1980s and 90s banking. The film is a comical retelling of the antics of amoral Jordan Belfort while he was head of brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, his debauched nights with prostitutes and friends and his drug addiction right up until his conviction for fraud and money laundering followed by his reincarnation as a motivational speaker. After all the ‘banker-bashing’ that has been going on since the 2008 banking crisis it is refreshing to be able to laugh at these characters and to a certain extent Scorsese has done here with bankers what he achieved  with gangsters in his earlier films. In some ways this film can also be compared to Goodfellas, in that it is amusingly narrated by the main protagonist on whom the film is primarily focused, features a Pesci-like sidekick and  women are either sexual vessels or nagging wives. Scorsese himself has confirmed that there are likenesses between the two films.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who is not known for playing comedy roles, is extremely funny in this film as is the more accustomed Jonah Hill, who plays Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s business partner. There are also some unlikely appearances from the likes of Joanna Lumley, who shares an onscreen pash with DiCaprio, and French actor Jean Dujardin.

The Wolf of Wall Street is an excellent film, filled with energy and wit and should not be missed.


Ted (2012 dir. Seth MacFarlane)


Andrew’s Verdict

I was expecting something a little more dynamic and genuinely humorous in either a more stupid way or perhaps with the comical jokes. Instead the plot is typical and formulaic and my description of the movie could describe a number of movies.

The teddy bear is just a vehicle for Seth Macfarlane to peddle his obnoxious brand of humour. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate a little bit of obnoxious humour and have been rather partial to watching Family Guy, which he created. None of the more intelligent and satirical humour from Seth Macfarlane’s Family Guy transfers to the film.

The movie follows the relationship between a boy (Mark Wahlberg) and his teddy bear Ted (voiced by Seth McFarlane) and the moment where the boy grows up and has a choice to make between his relationship between his teddy bear and the girl of his dreams. We’ve seen this type of thing played out in many films: the bad influence of a friend coming between a couple and the general ultimatum that follows and how everything is reconciled at the end. This time that bad influence comes from Ted. What we get, that makes the comedy, is a bad bear who smokes weed, and tells obnoxious sexual, racial and homophobic jokes. This to me is just Seth McFarlene.

We get our customary cameo, which again is so so, in the form of Flash Gordon. We could go through a list of 80s stars and build something around them that’s not really that interesting. Watching this film is like having one of those friends (in this case Seth McFarlane) who finds something amusing and because you’ve been unfortunate to laugh at the joke you are then subjected to every possible reference to the same joke in a slightly different context. And to make it worse the contexts get even more extreme in your
friends belief that, that is what makes the joke funnier. Its enduring and painful and by association you are somehow complicit in the joke and I refer here to the Brandon Roth joke that becomes extremely tasteless at the end of the film.

There a some moments of laugh-out-loud cringe worthy humour but as an overall film, TED is unremarkable. Finally, Patrick Stewart why are you doing a voice over for this film?

Men in Black III (2012 dir. Barry Sonnenfeld)


Sandra’s Verdict

My last memory of the MiB is linked with Will Smith’s accompanying 1997 single and dad-dancing, so I was glad that this new instalment would provide for a less embarrassing picture to add to my memories of the franchise. Now I can replay the amusing moment when a usually super-chilled  Smith looses his cool and smacks a Russian reporter around the face for trying to snog him on the red carpet!

MiB III is all it promises to be, its funny, it has great special effects and an entertaining story. In this instalment Agent J travels back in time to the colourful 1960s to save his partner, Agent K, from being murdered by alien villain Boris the Animal at the NASA Moon Launch.

A fun Friday night movie with great performances by Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson and Nicole Scherzinger!

Red Tails (2012 dir Anthony Hemingway/ George Lucas)


Sandra’s Verdict

I was lucky enough to take my Year 7 Filmmaking Club to a special preview of Red Tails in June with leading man Cuba Gooding Junior. Cuba was on form as usual during the Q&A that followed the film and it is a pity that we do not get more dialogue from him in the actual film, instead we get lots of shots of him as Major Emanuelle Stance staring over an airfield smoking a pipe which is a great shame considering his acting potential. The more important role of Colonel Bullard is played by Terrence Howard, who lacks the charisma and worn wisdom that Cuba would have brought to the character, a poor casting judgement.

ImageWith support from George Lucas and a $58 million budget the production values in this film are excellent and the audience is utterly convinced that we are watching scenes unfold in 1940s Italy whilst watching the Tuskegee Airmen (the first African American squadron of fighter pilots) navigate through the high-definition skies as they escort the first American bombers attack over Berlin. The film covers the institutional racism endured by the pilots by the American military who saw them as a social and intellectual inferiors; but it also explores that camaraderie that was present amongst the men.

Both Neyo and British actor David Oyelowo are excellent as ‘Smokey’ and Lighting’ bringing comedy to this action film.

I enjoyed the film, not simply because it celebrated the influence and contribution of black people towards the Allied victory in WWII, but because of the charming characters depicted. I also feel that the film could benefit from tighter editing, at over 2 hours long my film kids were beginning to waver toward the end!

21 Jump Street (2012)


Andrew’s Verdict
Anyone who remembers the original 21 Jump Street series as a kid will immediately jump to see this film and after seeing it will probably have mixed feelings. The film is good, enjoyable to watch and plays on high school stereotypes in an original and amusing way, but at the same time is stupid to an extent that may leave some people thinking “what was that all about”. However, it’s simply a good lighthearted comedy that tells an underlying story of the misfit going back to school, becoming one of the cool kids and getting the girl. The script is witty and for me there are some excellent moments of the stupid humour that I describe above and I was laughing from the get go.

The performance by Jonah Hill was compelling and interesting and having seen him in Money Ball most recently, I can honestly say he’s a very good actor.

Personally I always find Channing Tatum hard to watch because (not that anyone else would) I can never fault him in his roles as he always delivers, but I find that he’s almost playing a cameo of himself (big, strong, handsome, leader). Well in this film they make a distinct point about not over playing to these strengths and we see something a little different in places and it works.

Overall Tatum and Hill play the best buddies role excellently. I could imagine them as Devito and Schwarznegger in a reprisal of Twins for example, and believe me this is a complement despite whatever connotations of acting or physic you might think I’m making. I am in fact eluding to the on-screen chemistry of 21 Jump Street which reminded me of being at school or what I wish school could have been (busting school drug rings, messing up the school play and yes, winning the girl at the end of the night) .

An easy to follow plot with stupidly funny humour and a little romance. What more could you want from a laid back friday night.