Tag Archive: OScars


In the latest outing of the Rocky series; Stallone takes a back-seat and allows a new set of characters (and filmmakers) to create a charismatic film with all the heart of its predecessors.

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Rocky is a character that after six films (of varying quality) is long overdue retirement and almost gets it in Creed, a film that focuses on the past of the films without getting distracted by its present storyline. A film that is both a reboot and a sequel – a requel.

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Following the young Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), son of Rocky’s longtime friend/rival Apollo, we are able to see the world through a fresh set of eyes and start again in the zero to hero storyline that the original film began with. The decision to have a lead character from a well-off background where he has other options than just to fight also pays dividends as it gives the story extra depth that would have been lost if the cliché ‘rags to riches’ plot had been followed. It also helps nail down a point that is essential to the series; it’s not about the money, it’s about the need to fight.

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And fight he does, in extremely dramatic fashion. The fight scenes are all wonderful to watch making you sit on the edge of your seat as you wonder where the next big punch will come from. One fight scene in particular is amazingly choreographed as the filmmakers somehow managed to do the entire fight in a single take; with the camera moving claustrophobically between the two characters. It is sensational in every sense.

For all its great moments however; the film falls down at several corners. Particularly in the use of it’s most important character Rocky Balboa. Coming into the film as Creed’s trainer Balboa’s arc begins well with him offering sage advice and reflecting on his past; then it’s ruined by the introduction of a stupid and cliché sub-plot that feels wedged in to simply give Stallone more screen time. This sub-plot adds little to the film and for me all it does is detract from the drama of the main storyline.

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The balance of throwbacks to the original series also feels off throughout this film. As discussed in terms of story and themes the film does a great job of this… however in other areas its falls well short. The montage sequence for example feels as if it was thrown in at a whim – ending with Adonis sprinting up a road just doesn’t have the same impact as the famous steps moment.

This happens at several other times with references ruining the tone of the film; the problem isn’t that the throwbacks are bad, it’s that their frequency is off… it’s feel like there is either too many or not enough of these; as if the director Ryan Coogler couldn’t decide whether or not he wanted to include them.

Overall though Creed is a fantastic movie that does a great job of revitalising a tiring franchise, it may not be as ground-breaking as the original Rocky but it offers solid entertainment.

8/10

 

A beautiful, subtle film that seems better than it actually is.

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My second film of the year is Carol, the lesbianic period drama that is likely to be nominated for hosts of awards this year. It is a film that has great camerawork, design, a tantalising screenplay and three fantastic lead performances. So on paper it should be one of the best film ever made; and it certainly has been loved by the critics. However it’s not, the resulting film although technically fantastic is somewhat bland and forgettable.

The heart of the story comes from the blossoming romance between the young Therese (Rooney Mara) and the older seductress Carol (Cate Blanchett). As the two fall in love we are also given an insight into Carol’s failing relationship with her ex-husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) and see the strained choices Carol has to make. Each character is given time to develop slowly and the actors excel in bringing them to life.

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It is beautifully crafted and designed. Creating a realistic yet cinematic view of New York in the 1950’s. But if you put all these technical things to one side, the film is nothing but another over character driven drama/romance. Although it feels tense and emotive, these emotions soon wear off as you realise that it is in fact just Brief Encounter remade, again, with lesbians.

The direction of the film relies on intricacy and subtlety. Every aspect seems to have a meaning in some way and the cleverly written dialogue leads to plenty of pauses and meaningful looks between characters. This works well on the most part and allows us to feel the genuine love between Therese and Carol, whilst also experiencing the heartbreak Harge is going through. It is unfortunately this emphasis on relationships involving Carol that for me make the film suffer.

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Carol is not a nice person and throughout the film is not portrayed as kind in any way. She is rich woman, who knows exactly what she wants and willing to take it; not matter the price. This is shown in the very first meeting between Carol and Therese, where instead of buying her daughter a doll for Christmas, she purchases a train set because Therese told her too. This sort of action continues for a long time as Carol has to choose between her family and her love for Therese. Only the relationship with Therese to me doesn’t seem as real from Carol’s side; Carol spends much of the film grooming Therese. Touching her arm, buying her gifts, posing for photographs; without ever seeming to get to know her. Then when the relationship with Therese threatens the custody of her daughter Carol simply drops her.

Although Blanchett does perform the role of Carol brilliantly I spent the entire film confused over her motives and whether she actually cared for Therese was just some older woman looking for a bit of fun. I’m not sure if this was an intentional choice, but I feel that it wasn’t and it seemed to distract from the real heart of the story.

 

Carol is film that will be nominated for awards and which critics rightly love, but for me it just felt like every other character driven drama and is one that I am likely to forget.

 

6/10

 

 

The second film I elected to watch for my fifty film month challenge is It Happened One Night, one of only three films to win the ‘Big 5’ at the Oscars. The Big 5 being Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress and obviously Best Picture. I therefore went into the film with reasonably high expectations and was not disappointed.

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The films story begins as a somewhat obvious one. A spoilt rich girl (Caludette Colbert) runs away from her father and finds herself thrown into the arms of a poor slacker (Clark Gable); for the first fifteen minutes I was annoyed that a film with such an obvious plot could be rated so highly however when the film gets going it is truly magnificent with some brilliant writing and some of the best chemistry I have seen on film between the two leads.

 

Clark Gable is fantastic in his role as a wisecracking reporter who talks himself up for more than is and rather interestingly his performance in this film supposedly became the inspiration for Bugs Bunny. Claudette Colbert is also wonderful as a spoilt brat and the way in which the two bounce off of each other is spectacular.

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The best moments in the film come from the script however with a series of one liners that are not only hilarious but also a scathing satire on society and work incredibly well; the characters all flow into each other and act as expected making it almost entirely believable that the film could happen with the ending being the only part that is a little too far-fetched.

 

The film is a fantastic example of cinema and fully deserving of all its accolades. The scoring goes as follows:

Story 4/5

Style 4/5

Technical 5/5

Enjoyment 5/5

 

This gives the film an aggregated score of 9/10.