Molly’s Game – Review

Movies/film

It’s been a while. I know and I could update you on the on goings on my life, but the truth is the thing that compelled me to begin writing on here again, is the fact that I’ve just watched Molly’s Game. Oh goodness, that film just cemented my love for Jessica Chastain. She is phenomenal in that move and giving an equally convincing performance is Idris Elba.
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The film is adapted from the book by Molly Bloom herself and is based upon a true story. One which I had no idea took place,  of a an overachieving woman who is injured in a sporting accident decides to open up an underground poker game.

However, what really stood out on the film is telling a female story in one of the most human ways possible. It was unconceivable to many of the men in this film that, she wouldn’t sacrifice herself and was protecting others, that she wasn’t sexually involved with any of the players, nor was she apologetic for being anything but herself. She was flawed (very) but she was absolutely herself and it was so refreshing.

Told in both flashbacks and flash forwards to the current day, it plays with time but not in a way that the audience gets lost. With everything going on in the industry and much more the world, I love this film. With subtle hints of women empowerment, to be unapologetically yourself and that women will survive this mans world that seems to have been curated.

Make no mistake, this film is not advertising the fact that woman could accidentally fall into a life of the mob, the billionaire boys club, a life of crime but the opposite, but what it’s doing is giving woman the idea that we can do anything a man can do both good and bad.

If I’m honest, I loved so much about it that I believe i’ll have to watch it a second and third time just to take away even more from it. It’s one of those films that just keeps giving.

This film I think was very important in a very understated way.

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Harry Potter at 20.

books, Movies/film

The Harry Potter franchise is twenty years old as of yesterday. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in…Better? Yeah, I can’t get my head around it either. The boy that lived let us in to his home and we all became his family.

The world that is so full of magic reminded us that it was real. Magic was all around us if we just believed. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that all is not what it seemed. Take a look at my other favourite childhood book (PeterPan) and you’ll notice I loved the notion of escaping to another magical land. Harry Potter some how made that okay and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Magic is real, it’s the belief we have in each other and Love will always be stronger than hate. A message that we all need to believe now more than ever. I will never give in to the hate.

Truth is Harry Potter helped shape me into the person I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a weirdo, a misfit, a bookworm, a dreamer, surprisingly a Ravenclaw but most of all I’m a believer.

Thank you JK Rowling for letting us into this magical world we all call home. We will forever be in your debt.

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Throwback Thursday – Jumanji – Crashed Like Lightning

Movies/film

I found myself watching old movies the other day. I don’t know why, I was either bored or I’d had a bad day but I ended up watching Jumanji. I knew I loved the film but MY GOD isn’t it just amazing? You know when you love a film as a kid and then you watch it years later and you go “well it’s not as good as I remembered” well it was the opposite of that. Excluding Disney films, this was one of the first films that made me really love the idea of adventure. That being scared can also mean being brave. The best things come right after being the most scared. It was Jumanji and The Goonies that taught me that.

Jumanji wouldn’t be what it is without the BRILLIANT Robin Williams as Alan. He’s just perfect in that roll. If anything, rewatching it just reminds us of what a talent the world has lost, but the film itself is brilliantly done. Not only is the script funny in a dry sarcastic sort of way, but the characters aren’t really false or unrealistic like they normally are in a kids film. The characters that come out of the boardgame are almost playing on that stereotype, the over the top characters. Yes, children films are supposed to be somewhat shorter but that doesn’t mean we need to dump down the content. They’re smart. Let them talk for themselves, let them experience what those characters are feeling and explore their own world. Let them fall in love with the world and the characters the same way adults do.

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I can’t even tell you how much I love this film. It’s a film both adults and children can enjoy, it can even scare both of them without talking down to the kid and being ridiculously complicated for the adult. It’s a good old fashion adventure.

We know that later this year there is going to be a reboot/Sequel to the film with Jack Black saying it will play tribute to Robin William. I don’t know how I feel about that. If i’m honest, as soon as it was announced I wanted them to just leave alone. If it aint broke don’t fix it you know? Still. I know i’ll watch it.

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Have you guys seen Jumanji? If so, maybe you can help me with something. I’m curious. If you’ve watched it for the first time as an adult, what did you think? I know that I love it as a piece of film and also with 90’s nostalgia thrown in there but I want to know what people think who maybe don’t have the nostalgia attached.

Let me know what you think!

Oscar Review: Hidden Figures – Theodore Melfi

Movies/film

The only way I can start this is by saying this is a film that everyone needs to see. Especially with how the political landscape is now, it’s important that everyone see’s it.

The film tells the story of three black women in 1960’s America who works for NASA whilst they were in the midst in the space race! In a time before computers and technology wasn’t as accessible it shows the importance of working together. It stars Taraji P Henson as Katherine Johnson who is the math brain behind getting America into space, she stars opposite Jim Parsons who plays a character who is the metaphor for racist  America. Olivia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughn who later became the first black supervisor in America and singer Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson who wants to become a qualified engineer.
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The film is uplifting and a great watch and the scene in which Katherine explains to her white boss (played by Kevin Costner) what is like to be the only black member of the team never mind being a woman too! It’s phenomenally written and written in such a way that it doesn’t make these women a victim of their circumstance, but women who took whatever cards life dealt them and turned into a Royal Flush. It shows the importance of working together no matter what your skin colour and in todays society shows no matter your preference you are still vital to todays society.

There is a classic line in the film that I feel is important to showcase here “Here at Nasa we all pee the same colour.” With a a quick white, an off the cuff line, it shows the significance of the entire film and how necessary it is. The acting is phenomenal again, but one of the most surprising things, at least for me, is that Pharrell Williams produced the movie proving he isn’t just a genius in the recording studio but in the film arena too!

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Oscar Review: Arrival -Denis Villenuve

Movies/film

Usually, I’m not a huge Sci-fi fan. I can enjoy it sure but it’ll never be a genre I go out of my way and get crazy excited for. That being said this film sold me the genre, what I loved about it so much was it made it human. The film sees Amy Adams play a linguistics professor try to understand an alien language so they can communicate to discover why they are on earth in the first place.

The film does something very very clever. The whole plot focuses on something that the audience can only truly truly understand once they see it again for a second time because they know they will. You will enjoy the film, some will even love it the first time, but on the second viewing you’ll understand it and appreciate it on a whole different level. it takes time and space and it makes it something completely human that those who don’t have a big interest in science fall in love with it. Giving the story a human level, and making us vulnerable to the message is a perfect way to get us to listen. Whilst we sit there in movie theatres to watch a film that we expect to be a general sci-fi or maybe even a bit mind bending, it gives us an important message. We need to work together. It’s beautifully done.
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The fact that Adam’s didn’t get an oscar is one that bugged me and not because I think she should just be given it for staring in the film but because she IS the film. She carried this entire film, without Adam’s amazing performance the audience wouldn’t feel what it’s supposed to feel.

Do I love this film? Yes. Will I watch it again? Probably. Will it win the oscar? Probably not but it deserves every ounce of that nomination and to stand up there with the heavy weights. Human’s are not perfect and it’s something we should be reminded of from time to time.

Oscar Review: Fences – Denzel Washington

Movies/film

I promised that I would go through the Oscar nominations for Best Picture film by film..So here I am doing that, but trust me, to open with a film I struggle to summarise into words.

The film Fences stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as a married couple who share the hardships of life. Fences concentrates on the relationships within this family but also the relationships people have with themselves…I think. It can boast four Oscar nominations, Best Picture, Best Screen Play, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. I think I can agree with two of those. The coupling of Washington and Davis is an absolute stroke of genius, the chemistry between these two will have you believing that they really have been married for eighteen years and it’s fascinating to watch.
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There are points in this film where I struggle to stay with it, not because I didn’t understand what was happening but because the dialogue was just a little too much. The opening first 10 minutes is a conversation between Troy (Denzel) and his best friend. You soon learn that when Troy wants to say something, he tells a story and makes his point within 5 minutes of dialogue instead of the one. It’s clever because this quickly becomes a character trait and you understand the character through this but it’s all a little tough to swallow sometimes.

I think the plot of this film really tries and it feels like it’s missing something. I understand that it’s showing the audience everyday life, everyday hardships and no matter what you stick with these characters. I don’t particularly like Troy, in fact I think he’s an absolute dick but regardless you start to care for his story, for his sons story, for Rose’s story (Viola Davis). You feel attached to the point where you just want to see how he makes it through, how the hell he’s going to figure out this situation. There is actually a point where he asks his wife to do something that no wife should EVER have to do, but she does it because she is his wife. She chooses the right thing above herself but makes it known that she is no longer his woman even if she sticks by him.

It’s a complicated story of loyalty and what people give up of themselves for other people. I found myself crying at certain points of the film because there is no doubt that the acting in this film is phenomenal and the director (also Washington) knew exactly how to convey the emotion of the characters but the 2hr 19 minute film has you running circles around yourself so you’re left exhausted (much like the characters) and feeling like something is missing (again, much like the characters).

I suppose it’s something to think about, what makes it a good or bad film. I didn’t love it, in fact i’m not sure if i liked it. It won’t be a film I’ll be reaching for every now and then, but it’s a film that made me think, and for those 2hrs and 19minutes I felt what those characters did. So I guess it did it’s job.

I’m not sure if it was best picture worthy but I do think the actors deserve their nominations. I think I need to sit on this one for a while…sit on the fence as they say (sorry) but I’ll get back to you when I can put coherent thoughts together on what I think of this film.

As of right now though? 6.5/10.

Five minutes with Jordan Yale Levine

Movies/film

Heard of Yale Productions? Well, you’re about to! If you haven’t heard of them yet then you’ve been living under a rock. They’re slowly taking over the industry with the soon to be indie classics such as Jack Goes Home and King Cobra; they’re the ones to look out for this year! I was lucky enough to get the chance to talk to CEO of Yale Productions and producer himself Jordan Yale Levine. Check out what he had to say.

What made you decide to start Yale productions?

JL: I started raising money/Executive Producing films for established producers/production companies when I was 19 for five or so years. It was terrific building up my credits and helping films get off the ground, find distribution etc., but I was always passionate about being creatively involved (in addition to the financing side) and acting as a Producer on these projects. As a 19-year-old kid, I knew I had to build up my resume before raising money for my own projects. After doing so for years, I opened up Yale Productions and started producing films whereby I was involved in the entire process, and have been doing so ever since.

What does it stand for? What kind of movies do you want to be remembered for?

JL: Yale is my middle name, named after the college my father went to. I took the complete opposite path in my life, skipped college (not saying the right or wrong way!), and starting working in the business right after high school. I want to be remembered for just good films. I know that sounds bland, but what I mean is I don’t just want to create and produce films in one certain genre. First and foremost I am a movie lover, and I enjoy films that range in genre from drama to horror, and everything in between. It just comes down to what I’m in the mood for. In 2015, I produced a psychological thriller, a murder story based on real life events, and an uplifting film about cancer. The common theme about all of these films is that they are all good (in my opinion!). It would be amazing for people to look back at my work and take away different emotions and inspirations. Similar to how I can walk out of a film like Creed or Straight Outta Compton and feel so inspired, or after watching films such as Boyhood or Avatar and just try to fathom the creativity and innovative nature behind such projects.

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You went to south by south west this year, how was that?

JL: Yes, we had the world premiere of Jack Goes Home at SXSW. It was an amazing experience. People seemed to really dig the film, and it was wonderful being there with my producing partners, Scott Levenson, and Thomas Dekker. The three of us really put so much time, energy, and love into producing this film, so the premiere and activities surrounding the film at SXSW was very rewarding.

The film industry is a tough one to crack, what makes it special?

JL: It is special, and even though it is a tough one to crack, I enjoy every moment of what I do, and can honestly say I wake up everyday and love what I do. Seeing a project go from a script to being filmed, then being released is a feeling that is very hard to explain, but “special” does the trick!

What advice would you give to anyone trying to break through?

JL: Work, work, work! I think to be successful at anything in life, you need to have a strong drive and work ethic. Besides that, surround yourself with the right people that you can trust, and that you can build and grow with together. Producing films with my childhood friend Scott Levenson has been such a great experience/partnership. We already have that built in trust, so it’s very easy to rely on each other. Jon Keeyes, who is also part of our team, is the best line producer I have ever worked with. After working together for the first time, I knew I never wanted anyone else to line produce our films. Most recently, we have grown our team even further with the addition of Michael Clofine and his Digital Ignition Entertainment company. We are thrilled with this new partnership and are lining up many projects together.

As a producer you have to make sure that everything is perfect from the director to the actors. What makes a good director? How does that come about?

JL: Before a film goes into production, there is much time spent putting all of the elements together. A big part of this process is working with the director. I spend many hours talking/meeting with directors, and I really have to feel comfortable with their vision and leadership before fully committing myself as a producer. I never want to step on a director’s toes creatively, so after really getting to know each director and their respective vision, and ultimately believing in them, I can then trust in their decisions on set in that position. A director has to command respect from the actors and the crew. If there is no respect or trust, the whole film gets thrown off. This respect comes from knowledge of the material and knowing exactly what you want out of every actor in every scene, and the look and feel of each and every moment.

What makes a script stick out to you?

JL: Scripts that stick out to me are the ones that make me feel that the project can have the potential to be something different than what I have seen before. Also, scripts that stay with me for days after reading them, whether feeling inspired or disturbed.

The film industry is talking about the gender gap right now and diversity, do you think it’s important to keep the discussion going?

JL: I do. There are so many talented people in our industry and everyone should have an equal playing field. All I can do is continue to judge material to produce based on the best overall project, and whether the lead is a female or male, white or black, it does not matter to me.

What’s your favourite thing about being a producer?

JL: After giving your life to a project for sometimes years, and then seeing the end result being people feeling touched, moved, or any other strong emotion is wild. It’s an unbelievable feeling that I am so lucky to enjoy time after time. Producing films gives me the opportunity to tell stories, and also the platform to get important messages out to the world. Producing a film about MDS (a certain kind of cancer), gave me the ability to teach many people about this sickness (which I did not know about prior to the script), and there were so many appreciative people. It was a wonderful experience.

What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you on set?

JL: I won’t call this weird, more amazing, but something I have never seen before. While filming Jack Goes Home, there was a super intense scene at the dinner table between Rory Culkin and Lin Shaye. Their performances and Thomas Dekker’s directing were so strong and captivating that every single crew member was standing still watching the monitor. You could hear a pin drop, that is how quiet it was. I have never seen that kind of intensity nor focus from the entire crew on any particular scene. I knew at that moment that we had something special.

Is there a film you wish you could have produced? Or been there on set?

JL: I would say The Departed. Martin Scorsese is, of course, brilliant, and the cast was a dream team of actors.

What is your favorite film of 2016?

JL: One of my favourite films of the year has to be Creed. I love the Rocky franchise, and think it is unbelievable how they have kept the films going and entertaining for over 40 years now. Sylvestor Stallone has successfully passed the torch to Michael B. Jordan, and I can’t wait to see how the story develops even further from Creed. As a film, in particular, Creed is motivating and inspiring, and the characters and plot is a fresh take on a beloved franchise.

With so much to look forward to I can’t wait to see what Yale Productions does next! It’s really great to see an indie company taking on the big studios and are not rushing the finished product.