Jojo Rabbit: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #56

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain some adult themes and spoilers for Jojo Rabbit. I highly recommend this film as it certainly surprised me (in a good way) and may be one of my favourite films of all time.

Directed by and starring  Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok and Hunt for the Wilderpeople), and also starring Roman Griffith Davis, Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johannson, Jojo Rabbit takes place in World War 2 and follows Jojo Betzler, a young Nazi living with his mother. Jojo discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in the walls and turns to his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler, for advice.

Roman Griffith Davis played Jojo Beltzer and gave a brilliant performance. For a 12-year-old actor just starting off his career, he was able to display a wide range of emotions that allowed us to connect with Jojo’s character. The lead in most movies is usually able to do connect with audiences, but what’s remarkable about this in Jojo Rabbit is that this is all from a young actor. Griffith Davis has been nominated for a number of awards (including the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice) and after watching the film, it’s obvious to see why. Thomasin McKenzie played Elsa, a Jewish teenager who Jojo’s mother is hiding in the walls. McKenzie was perfectly selected to play Elsa and, for a young actress, delivered a strong and compelling representation of the Jewish experience in hiding in Nazi Germany. Taika Waititi took on the task of playing Adolf Hitler, or more accurately, Jojo’s image of Hitler. It’s important to remember that the film is from the perspective of a brainwashed 10-year-old Nazi, and Hitler in Jojo’s mind is someone he admires (Hitler is Jojo’s imaginary best friend after all).  Waititi wrote, directed and starred in Jojo Rabbit and took on the tough role of playing Hitler and for me, his portrayal was fantastic. He was witty and played the character in a different and memorable way. Jojo’s mother, Rosie Beltzer, was played by Scarlett Johansson. For me, Johannson wasn’t the most obvious choice to play Rosie but she was surprisingly well suited to the role. I would’ve liked to have seen more of her, but for the time she was on-screen, there was a strong and sweet relationship built up between Rosie and Jojo, despite the relationship build-up being a little rushed in my eyes. The dramatic reveal of Jojo coming across his mother’s hanging body by bumping into her shoes was so perfectly and subtlety built up and it’s all down to Waititi’s direction throughout the film. The build-up to this moment is sneakily intertwined with the film, first showing Jojo being unable to tie his shoes and the close-up shots of Rosie’s shoes, then Rosie talking to Jojo about butterflies in the stomach. This emotional climax of the film was unexpected, perfectly orchestrated and brought tears to my eyes in the cinema. It’s also worth mentioning one of the side characters who helped to make the film better; Captain Klenzendorf. Sam Rockwell played Captain K, and I loved the zaniness of his character, as well as his redemption at the end of the film. Together, the character chemistry was brought to life on screen wonderfully, particularly with the development of relationships throughout the film. One notable character relationship development that I thought was worth mentioning is the friendship between Jojo and Adolf. It starts off strong but as the film goes on, the relationship deteriorates to the point where Jojo tells Hitler to “f**k off” and kicks him out a window, showing that Jojo has no relationship with him or the Nazis anymore. Again, this is from the perspective of a brainwashed 10-year-old and the way the whole film plays out because of this is something we rarely get to see and was fantastically  done.

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Jojo and Adolf question Rosie’s loyalty to the Third Reich.

The music composed by Michael Giacchino was well constructed as it allowed us to not only connect with the characters’ emotions but also with the time period that the film is set in. I quite liked the German renditions of pop songs, even though there were only two of them. Nonetheless, the final scene of Elsa and Jojo dancing in the streets upon hearing the war is over to the German rendition of ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie will go down in my mind as one of the most powerful and iconic movie endings of all time. My only complaint is that I found the music was sometimes used unnecessarily to accompany a scene.

The story is actually an adapted screenplay, based on the book ‘Caging Skies’ by Christine Leunens. It was brought to life with a hint of Waititi’s quirky filmmaking style which gave us an interesting story told in a whimsical way that made for a surprisingly enjoyable cinematic experience. It was a little fast-paced in some places, but this pacing was better suited to the film rather than a slower pace. A question some of you may be wondering is whether Jojo Rabbit deserved to win Best Adapted Picture at the Oscars, and even if it should have been nominated for Best Picture itself. If I haven’t made it obvious enough, yes to both those questions. When people look back at 2019 as a year in film, there will be so many legendary films mentioned. Joker, Parasite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Avengers: Endgame to name a few. Now add Jojo Rabbit to that list. It had humour and heart and was able to turn one of history’s darkest times into a deep film about love, family and defeating the hatred of the world.

Overall, Jojo Rabbit gets an 8.5/10 from me. It came out as a surprisingly fantastic film, brought to life by an amazing cast and crew and teaching us all an important lesson throughout; no matter what happens, just keep going. No feeling is final. It’s one of those films that’s a hidden gem and I can’t wait to see what Taika Waititi goes on to do next.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for this review to come out. Now that I’ve had time to settle in my new life both at work and working from home what with the corona-crisis, I’ve been able to adapt to a new schedule. I hope that you are all keeping well during these difficult and challenging times.

Further to the above, I’m currently working my way through reviewing the movie event of last year. I’m of course talking about Avengers: Endgame and aim to have the review out on April 25th (though that does seem a little ambitious). Anyways, I’ll have a review for Avengers: Endgame out soon, so I’ll see you then!

 

American Animals: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #44

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

One of my favourite types of movies are those based on true stories. These feature Goodfellas, Selma, BlackKklansman, Hidden Figures and, most recently, American Animals. I saw the trailer and it looked somewhat interesting. I was lucky enough to attend a screening in London followed by a Q&A with director Bart Layton. It was a fantastic experience and I had an amazing time. Here is my review of American Animals.

Directed by Bart Layton and starring Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters is a cinematic depiction of a true crime caper. When Spencer Reinhard begins studying at the University of Transylvania, he discovers a book in the library that is worth $12 million. He tells his best friend, Warren Lipka, who decides the pair, accompanied by Lipka’s other friends, will steal the book and make their millions. However, unforeseen circumstances play their part and the heist goes horribly wrong.

Evan Peters took on the role of Warren Lipka, the brains behind the heist. Evan Peters was very well suited to play Warren Lipka and he was great in this film. Peters acting ability is so brilliant and his talent shone throughout this film, particularly when he was expressing his feelings, like the desire to steal the book or the anger when it all falls apart. Warren’s primary partner in crime was Spencer Reinhard, played by Barry Keoghan. I preferred Keoghan in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (review here), but Keoghan doesn’t have much range. His voice is quite monotonous and depressing and, while that suited the latter part of the film, the half of Spencer being happy and actually kind of enjoying life was just mismatched to Keoghan’s acting ability.  Jared Abrahamson played Eric Borsuk, a quiet and reluctant member of the heist. He was well played, especially for being a quiet and shy crew member, but I felt there could have been more of his character. The final heist member was Chas Allen, played brilliantly by Blake Jenner. Allen’s character was reluctant to join and was the most vocal member of the group when it came to not doing the heist. I loved the way that Jenner played Chas as he immersed himself in the role and delivered a good performance.

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Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) plans out the heist and getaway.

The music was brilliant throughout the movie. Though it was a little cliché in places (Using ‘A Little Less Conversation’ for the dream heist scene), it overall used good music that was suited to the movie and made it more enjoyable to watch. The best use was ‘Who By Fire’ by Leonard Cohen, for when the police come to arrest the guys for their crimes. It beautifully juxtaposed what was happening in the movie and made for a great scene.

Since the story is something that happened in real life, you can’t really critique it, but you can discuss how it was portrayed on the screen. Honestly, Bart Layton did such a brilliant job with the direction of the film. The opening was so stylish and created a tone of mystery that had me hooked for what would be shown throughout the film. The use of cutting between the men in real life in the present after the crime (with the real Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen in the film) and them describing what happened with Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan playing the younger versions of the men who carried out the heist. The scene transitions were sleek and carried the film nicely, leaving me more invested into what the film was showing. The film showed how the boy’s memory was unreliable and it had the same scene but with different little details in places that made the film more interesting to watch. One of the best parts of the film was seeing how the heist was planned out and how it took place. It was also great to see a Reservoir Dogs reference by code names like Mr Pink (and Chas getting mad about it like Steve Buscemi did). When asked yesterday, Layton explained that one of his biggest influences for the style of his direction in American Animals came from ‘Dog Day Afternoon’, a 1975 movie starring Al Pacino. In Dog Day Afternoon, a bank robbery goes horribly wrong from the start. You can see how Layton draws inspiration from Dog Day Afternoon to bring the story of American Animals to life.

Overall, American Animals gets an 8.2/10 from me. I actually cannot wait to watch this film again. It may have been a little dull in places and could have had more development but makes for a brilliant movie that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and everything else movie related you could want. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for a Black Mirror episode review. See you then!

The Best of 2018

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

As we near the end of 2018, it’s fun to look back at what a long and awesome year of movies and TV shows we’ve been treated to. And like most things in life, there’s the good and the bad. In this review, I take a look back at the best of 2018’s movies and TV shows that I watched. I’ll try to keep spoilers down to a minimum but you have been warned! There will be indications as to which movies or TV shows contain spoilers and links to reviews of those which I have reviewed.

BOJACK HORSEMAN: Season 5

Kicking off this list is everyone’s favourite cartoon horse and washed-up celebrity, Bojack Horseman. Netflix released season 5 in September and it showed Bojack taking the job on Flip McVicker’s new show, Philbert. Princess Carolyn continues to look for a child to adopt, Mr Peanutbutter and Diane go through a rough patch and Todd creates a sex robot who becomes the head of whattimeisitrightnow.com. Bojack Horseman season 5 delves deeper into Bojack’s mental state and sees him internally struggle with his insecurities while trying to deal with the joys and troubles of the outside world. One of the best things about Bojack Horseman’s recent seasons is the music, and season 5 is no exception. The ending was admittedly a little disappointing but season 5 as a whole was one of the best seasons of Bojack Horseman. Season 6 has been confirmed, and I for one can’t wait.

BLACK PANTHER

2018 was a year of diversity within Hollywood, and one of the films that portrayed this best is Marvel’s Black Panther. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther marks a turning point in the future of Hollywood movies. With a predominately black cast, Black Panther tells the story of T’Challa rising to the throne of Wakanda and finding the balance of being a good king and a hero while encountering a powerful enemy who poses a huge threat to  T’Challa and his country. Black Panther smashed records and was an entertaining movie that combined beautiful cinematography with great action and a good storyline to produce a film that will be loved for generations to come.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Contains spoilers!

The biggest film of 2018 and now the fourth highest grossing movie of all time, Anthony and Joe Russo directed Avengers: Infinity War, a film that was loved by billions this year. It saw most of Marvel’s heroes (with Hawkeye and Ant-Man missing) face off against the biggest villain yet, Thanos, who is on a mission to collect all six infinity stones and kill half the universe. He succeeds and in a literal snap of his fingers, half of the universe turned to dust. It’s now down to the remaining heroes, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Bruce Banner, Black Widow, Hawkeye (now Ronin), Nebula, Rocket Raccoon, War Machine, Okoye, M’Baku, Ant-Man and Pepper Potts to try to rewind time and undo the decimation. All this will be revealed in next year’s Avengers: Endgame, which is gearing up to be the biggest movie of next year too.

DEADPOOL 2 – Contains spoilers!

Ryan Reynolds is back in red spandex to break more fourth walls and kick ass in Deadpool 2, the highly anticipated sequel to 2016’s Deadpool. To stop a young mutant and the Juggernaut from creating a horrific future, Wade must team up with Cable and Domino to save the day. Reynolds proves again that he was made to play Deadpool, the jokes were more self-aware and hilarious and the action was something to adore. David Leitch (director of Deadpool 2 and John Wick) was perfectly suited to direct the sequel and, together with Ryan Reynolds’ incredible acting and great writing from Rhett Reece and Paul Wernick, Deadpool 2 was a brilliant sequel and certainly lived up to the hype plus plus.

READY PLAYER ONE

Steven Spielberg directs Ready Player One, a story set in 2045 where everyone lives in a huge virtual reality world called the Oasis, where the late creator, James Halliday, has left an Easter Egg challenge where the first gamer to find all three Easter Eggs would inherit the Oasis and half a trillion dollars. With gorgeous animation and an engaging storyline, Ready Player One was a great film that I had fun watching, and the hidden real-life easter eggs made the film even better.

McMAFIA: Season 1 – Contains spoilers!

Way back in January of this year, BBC released a thrilling look into the world of the mafia. The series followed Alex Godman, the son of an ex-mafia Russian family trying to forget the past. Alex is lured into the dark and hidden realm of crime that sees Alex being brought closer to those who have wronged his family. Meanwhile, Alex’s family have no idea about his actions that bring him closer to the mafia. Eventually, Alex tells his family about his actions with Vadim (the family’s nemesis) and the mafia, before heading to Moscow for one final confrontation with Vadim, before becoming the top of the food chain and was backed by the government by the looks of it while also cutting off all ties with his family back home in a dramatic and brilliant finale that had me on the edge of my seat. BBC have commissioned the show for an eight-episode season 2 that hasn’t begun filming yet, but I am already excited for season 2 and wondering what’s next for Alex Godman.

BLACKKKLANSMAN

Similarly to Black Panther, BlacKKKlansman brought more diversity to cinemas by bringing a true story to life before showing it’s relevance into modern-day America. Starring John David Washington and directed by Spike Lee, BlacKKKlansman tells the true story of a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s. The film ends by looking at the events in Charlottesville last year, where the Ku Klux Klan launched the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally to promote their ideology of white supremacy. The film provided a shocking and eye-opening look at racism in the last 50 years, and the way that Lee was able to direct and portray this in a movie was fantastically done.

GAME NIGHT

One of the best comedies of 2018, Game Night is a film I am looking forward to rewatching. The Fabergé Egg chase was one of my favourite scenes of cinema this year. Game Night had a good cast with even better character chemistry and jokes that were brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed this film the first and second times, and it is definitely one of my favourite comedies of all time.

AMERICAN ANIMALS

Another true story film that took me by surprise this year was Bart Layton’s American Animals. It’s the true story of the 2003 Transy Book Heist, where 4 young men dared to try to steal a book worth $12 million but it goes horribly wrong. Told in Reservoir-Dog-esque way that gets the real men to explain and talk about the heist American Animals was a film that wasn’t heard of or seen by many this year but deserves to be.

THIS IS AMERICA

Yes, it’s not a movie or a TV show, but Childish Gambino’s music video is definitely deserving of some praise. Not only is an awesome song, but the music video looks at the life of being black in America and some of the issues, such as gun violence and police brutality. The ‘This is America’ video and song is one of Gambino’s best songs and it carries a strong and powerful message.

Thanks for reading this week’s mega-review of my favourite movies and TV shows, the best of 2018. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest in movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more! Also, give this blog a follow to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I wish all you the best for 2019 and hope that you join me next year for more movie reviews! Next week, I’ll be revealing some of the big movies and TV shows coming out in 2019 that I’m looking forward to and hopefully you are too. See you then!

 

BlacKkKlansman: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #31

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! Just as a heads up this review will discuss some dark themes, so you have been warned.

The summer holidays have whizzed past us and another year of school begins. To mark the end of a hectic summer, my friends and I all caught up to watch a movie and a meal. Despite ideas to watch the Incredibles 2 or The Meg, we opted for BlacKkKlansman, the latest hit from Spike Lee. It was a great end to the summer and with it, the final year of our secondary school lives before we all head off on our separate ways begun.

From director Spike Lee and a cast including Adam Driver and John David Washington is the cinematic version of a true story of racism in 1970’s America. Ron Stallworth is the first African-American police officer to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department and sets out on the ambitious task of infiltrating and exposing the Ku Klux Klan. Naturally, he can’t infiltrate them himself and so enlists the help of fellow police officer, Phillip Zimmerman, who will act as the version of a white Ron Stallworth in real life while Ron Stallworth himself keeps in contact with the Klan via telephone. The pair soon learn about a plot that the Ku Klux Klan are organising against a large meeting of African-American students and do everything within their power to stop any destruction and harm being caused.

John David Washington playing Ron Stallworth was a fantastic decision on Lee’s part. I personally had never heard of him before, but he was well suited for the role. His acting was spot on, and his character arc was really interesting to watch unfold. Phillip Zimmerman was played by Adam Driver. I think he was a bit of a dull character, or at least by Driver’s acting. He didn’t really do much for his character and was very rigid in terms of emotional acting. Laura Harrier played Patrice who was basically the love interest in this whole true story. She was a great character who Harrier played wonderfully, but I would have liked to have seen more of her. She was just seen as the protester who was inappropriately touched up by the dirty police officer and the love interest of Ron. Patrice carries more of a symbolic role than that and she deserves to have had a bigger role. Next, I’ll be reviewing what I thought of how people portrayed the members of the Ku Klux Klan. I don’t agree with their views or actions but here I will discuss what I thought of the acting. The Grand Wizard, David Duke, was played by Topher Grace. Personally, Grace is one of my favourite actors and his portrayal of David Duke was a fantastic performance from Grace. He brought his classic charm to a harsh and hated character. Jasper Pääkkönen played a Klan member called Felix. Felix’s character was played by Pääkkönen as a true Klan member as he was fully against anyone who didn’t have pure American blood in them. Pääkkönen’s portrayal was commendable as he brought a roughness to the character that made him more unlikable than the other Klan members and, despite his Finnish heritage, his American accent was good. Ryan Eggold played Walter Breachway, another main Klan member. Eggold showed a nicer and somewhat kinder man who was a Klan member and it was a good performance from him.

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Ron Stallworth tricking Grand Wizard David Duke into thinking he’s a white supremacist.

Though I know beforehand that it was set in the 70’s, Blackkklansman’s music came as a surprise to me. From Prince to Looking Glass, the music was something to enjoy. The best song has to go to ‘Too Late to Turn Back Now’ by The Cornelius Brothers. A week later and that song is still stuck in my head. The soundtrack was composed by Terence Blanchard and was actually pretty good. It had some good pieces of music but was very repetitive and fell into the same trap as Kingsman, where the main theme was replayed and altered to fit the emotion and mood of a scene.

The story and plot were interesting, especially as it was a true story. The real-life Ron Stallworth is a true hero for his work and it’s about time his story was told. The film was slow to start, but as soon as you get yourself in it and the tone has been set, it’s actually a really amazing experience. The whole bomb plot going down was a longer-lasting sequence than what I expected. Having said that, the whole bomb plot sequence was fantastically well done. It kept you on the edge of your seat whilst not being too much or bombarding you with too much. Blackkklansman had a nice balance of everything you’d want from a movie. It had good comedy, some action, an interesting but a little cliché love story. There’s something for everyone with an important lesson in it.

It’s definitely worth talking about the ending of the film. Ron Stallworth is hailed as a hero and has successfully exposed the Ku Klux Klan. We then cut to 38 years later, in Charlottesville, America. As some of you will remember, in August 2017, there was a ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Charlottesville, where the Ku Klux Klan launched an attack promoting their ideology of white supremacy. The ending showed some graphic and horrendous scenes that left the entire cinema in shock and silence. Blackkklansman certainly left a mark on everyone, teaching a valuable lesson with it; everyone is equal, no matter what their race, gender, religion or anything else is.

Blackkklansman gets a 7.6/10 from me. It was an eye-opening look at the history of racism in America and how it still continues today. Despite being slow to start, the film keeps you hooked and interested, as well as teaching us all a lesson. Spike Lee has made something that needs to be seen by everyone to truly appreciate how good this film is.

Thanks for reading this weeks review. Follow me on Instagram, @ryans.movie.reviews, where I’m always posting the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures, regular polls and more! Follow my blog with your email to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. Join me next week when I review something. I haven’t decided what it will be yet. But it’ll be good. See you then!