JUMPSCARECUT: The Voices (2014)

Year: 2014
Directed by: Marjane Satrapi
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick

Written by Sasha Hornby 

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a man. A man who hears voices – ‘The Voices‘. When he accidentally kills the woman of his dreams, Fiona (Gemma Arterton), he must decide whether he is going to listen to his malevolent cat, Mr. Whiskers, or his benevolent dog, Bosco.

At its heart the blackest of comedies, ‘The Voices‘ focuses on the town oddball, Jerry Hickfang, a simple, happy, overly-friendly dude who works at the local bathtub factory, Milton Fixture & Faucet International. Jerry isn’t like everyone else. He’s a little intense, bordering on creepy, but his peculiarities and enthusiastic nature are what makes him so likeable. And boy, is he enthusiastic! He loves pizza so much he excitedly takes the office’s excess cold slices home – even imagining the pepperoni pieces as love hearts. He adores the tacky Shi-Shan Chinese buffet, with its Asian Elvis, Bruce Lee impersonator and weird Godzilla performances, so unashamedly, he eagerly invites his crush, the English Fiona, on a ‘casual’ first date there (as if he could act casually). A dance with Fiona at the staff party is charmingly chaotic and uncoordinated.

Ryan Reynolds is in his element as Jerry. And voices of Mr. Whiskers (who is inexplicably Scottish) and Bosco. His rapid descent into insanity is not only believable, but he plays it so sweet, so ‘wants to be good’, that you can’t help but root for him. Even as he repeatedly stabs his love, he weeps, pathetically whispering “I’m sorry.” An exchange with his dog is heart-breaking, when Bosco says “You remember last week when you said that there was an invisible line that separates good from evil and you thought you’d crossed it and I said no no no no you’re a good boy?… I’ve changed my opinion.” The self-realisation that plays out on Reynolds’ face, as Jerry truly understands the impact of his killings, is beautifully nuanced.

Gemma Arterton is wonderful as the flirty Fiona, Jerry’s first crush. She’s exuberant, sexy, and relishes being the centre of attention. She’s the polar opposite of Lisa, Jerry’s first girlfriend, played by the always-delightful Anna Kendrick. Lisa is a wallflower. She likes Jerry, a lot, and is willing to forgive his many foibles.

The way Marjane Satrapi frames the juxtaposition between the candy-coloured beautiful world of Jerry’s mind, versus the dark gritty truth of reality, is masterful. It’s a glimpse of his dingy apartment, spattered with blood and littered with rotting body parts, before switching back to Jerry’s glossy clean vision of the same room. It’s a flash of the ashen faces of Jerry’s victims lined up in the refrigerator, compared to the perfectly preened disembodied heads he sees. His mind is so beguiling, it’s not hard to imagine why he prefers his hallucinatory view, why he would neglect to take the medicine prescribed to him.

The Voices‘ is largely forgotten in the wider pop-culture zeitgeist, but for all its madcap pandemonium, it’s a film with a kind heart and wicked soul. Jerry’s psychological issues are extreme, yet empathetically portrayed. As his therapist (Jacki Weaver) says, “being alone in the world is the root of all suffering – but Jerry, we’re not alone.” If anything, there’s a really positive mental health message to take from The Voices: we aren’t alone, and reality is where life is, so seek and accept help, gosh darn-it!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sing a happy song…

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REVIEW: A Simple Favour

Year: 2018
Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding

Written by Elena Morgan

Single mum and vlogger Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) seeks to uncover the truth about the disappearance of her glamourous best friend Emily (Blake Lively).

Directed by Paul Feig, who’s best known for his comedy films, A Simple Favour combines humour with an intriguing mystery. Scriptwriter Jessica Sharzer has crafted a stylish semi-thriller that has nearly as many unbelievable twists as it does laughs. That’s the thing about A Simple Favour, by it having a dark and twisted sense of humour at its core, the drama is even more compelling.

Kendrick and Lively are both fabulous in their roles, and whenever they share a scene their chemistry is off the charts. Stephanie is sweet and kind and is the sort of person who annoys the other parents for being almost too good a parent. Emily on the other hand, is reserved and elegant with a high-powered job in the city. She and Stephanie are opposites but as their sons are friends, they get to know one another and become friends too. Though I feel friends should be in quotation marks because as Stephanie investigates Emily’s disappearance, it becomes clearer to her that she knew very little about her friend. However, the audience, much like the other parents at the school, could see from the outset that it seemed Emily was using Stephanie.

A Simple Favour manages to be both quirky and stylish at the same time, with its dark witty humour and tense thriller elements; mysterious letters, children seeing things and unexpected phone calls abound. This juxtaposition is seen in Stephanie and Emily too. Stephanie wears bright, cutesy clothes while Emily wears sharp suits. Stephanie’s home is lived in and comfy, while Emily’s is all monochrome and straight lines. Stephanie looks completely out of place in Emily’s house, but you soon learn Stephanie isn’t as naïve or meek as she appears.

A Simple Favour is wild in the best possible way. There’s twists and turns, characters say and do outlandish things but amazingly it all works. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out something else happens out of the blue. The fact the film keeps going, getting bolder and stranger as it goes, might not work for some but if you’re happy to hang on and go for the ride, A Simple Favour is brilliant.

Elena’s Verdict:

4.5

INTERVIEW: Paul Feig Talks A Simple Favour, Freaks and Geeks, Ghostbusters & The Box Office

Interviewed by Dave Curtis

Paul Feig is in the midst of a PR promo tour which will take him all over the world. At the start of his career, Paul wrote Freaks and Geeks which is now considered a cult classic but initially was considered a flop and quickly cancelled. Now the man who directed the hugely successful comedies Bridesmaids, Spy and the much talked about Ghostbusters remake is about to embark on a new challenge. A Simple Favour starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, which is based on the hugely popular novel by Darcey Bell, is his latest endeavour. Not one to shy away from a conversation, Paul chats to us about his new film and what its like working with Anna and Blake. He also talks about his experience working on Ghostbusters and what he enjoys about filmmaking.

The following has been transcribed from a telephone interview between Dave and Paul.


Hello Paul, How are you?

I’m good, how are you?

I’m good. Thank you very much for talking to us.

My pleasure. Thank you for taking the time.

It must be a long day. It was your premiere last night wasn’t it?

Yes it was (laughter). I’m still feeling the effects. It was quite a celebration, but very very fun.

I could only imagine, with your sense of style I imagine it being very good.

(Laughter)

So Paul, ”A Simple Favour’- its a slight change in direction for you in that it is a thriller. Are you a fan of the genre?

Oh yeah. They are probably my favourite thing to watch, I’ve always loved them. Technically I don’t watch a lot of comedy. Its the bit I work in so I really enjoy the heightened tension and just the kind of drama and everything about thrillers. I also really love the old Hitchcock thrillers which were really fun and I kind of think that kind of thing is missing from the thrillers today. I still love them, but I really like the fun old ones.

Yeah a good thriller is quite hard to come across nowadays.

Well you know Hitchcock wasn’t afraid to inject humour into the characters and add quirkiness into them in a way that would make them fun. It can still be a real thriller and still let people have a good time.

Is that what attracted you to the project, were you approached by the studio or were you actively searching for something different?

I really wanted to find a thriller. You look at all my movies, they are all comedies really. You know there is a wedding movie, a buddy cop comedy, a spy movie. So a thriller was something I always wanted to do, but it’s one of the those genres I didn’t really know how to write. I feel like I would have to write it from scratch. So it was one of those things when you say hopefully a project will come in, that does and the script got sent to us. My company, we have a deal with Fox and at the time Fox 2000 had bought the book and had Jessica Sharzer write a version of it. They sent it to us because basically we had a producing deal with them. They were like ‘We have this movie and we don’t know what it is because its a thriller but its also really crazy and its kind of funny but we don’t really know’. So they were like ‘Maybe you can figure it out’. I read it and I just loved it so much and I said this is the thriller I’ve been looking for. This is one I know I can make. I can make it funny and fun and its mainly because A) it has so many twists and turns which I loved and B) because of the character that Anna Kendrick plays because I thought I can just get comedy out of that character. First of all its exactly the kind of character that’s in all my movies. Which is the awkward person, undervalued and sort of underestimated who really hasn’t found their place in the world yet. By going through whatever situation the movie throws at them to become a better person because of it and so that was my in. Just a fact that there was this nerdy mum who none of the other parents like. Its very earnest, sweet and that’s what I loved about it. I always want to make my movies good natured, you know even if they are dark. I don’t like things that are ugly and have a very negative statement about the human race in general. If you look at my movies they aren’t mean spirited.

Did you know of the book beforehand or was it the script that caught your attention?

Yeah it was the script. I read that first and then I read the book after that, but it was really the script which I thought was really fun. What Jessica Sharzer did which was so amazing, was that she really took the best moments from the book and then kind of mixed them around in a way that made it much better for the screen.

She is a wonderful screenwriter. I watched ‘Nerve’ the other day and I thought that was a good film. A bit of a hidden gem.

Oh yeah, and what a great person. A great partner to have, somebody who is so wonderful and so open to trying anything.

The trailer states that this is from your darker side. Should we be worried from now on, is this going to be something that is going to carry on?

(laughter) Honestly every project is new for me and I just want to tell great stories and so all the films that get sent to me, that I respond to or what idea I have that I want to write. But my next movie is going to be more of a romcom, kind of very fun, emotional movie. But I would love to work in the thriller genre again. I want to work in every genre that I can. Howard Hawks is my favourite director and the fact he worked affectingly in so many different genres has always been a inspiration to me and I think that’s the way to go.

You come across as a fun guy and a fun director. Was it fun making ‘A Simple Favour’ because it must of been fun making ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘Spy’, but was this as enjoyable?

Oh yeah really fun. Sometimes even more fun than doing straighter comedy because you are getting so much out of the script than you already have because its so tightly plotted that you don’t have a lot of room to really to play around in that way. What you get to do is relish all these extreme emotions and these quirky extreme characters and so there is something incredibly fun about that. It helps when you have actors that are game and Anna and Blake were just so game to play and have fun with it and then I’m able to do my favourite thing which is to surround them with great supporting characters who are funny and quirky and just be so additive to the proceedings.

Talking about Blake and Anna, just from the trailer they look like they share wonderful chemistry. Was it like that from day one or had they met before or had you had rehearsals?

No not really. They only really met at a few times at social events over the years, showbiz events. They didn’t really know each other at all and you know when you are hiring movie star you can’t really go ‘Hey come in and audition with [this] person and see if you have chemistry’. You hire them and hope it works. But they hit it off from day one. I mean the chemistry was there and the dynamic of those characters was just kind of played in to their natural dynamic and also how they got to know each other and all of that. The way Blake’s character drops into Stephanie’s life and you know it was like when you cast somebody in a movie and you are like ‘and here is your partner out of nowhere’.

Yeah I’ve watched a couple of interviews with them recently and they just seem to get on really well, so it’s really nice to watch a film when two leads are so good together and actually have a friendship.

Yeah its really, really nice. But I’ve found in my career that all the actors I’ve worked with tend to just get along because they are just really professional and they are team players. You know the best movie stars are team players and not out for themselves. They know they are only as good as the people they are working with. That’s what is so nice, they know and realise they need each other.

You seem to attract many fantastic actresses like Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Rose Byrne, Sandra Bullock, Leslie Jones and now Anna and Blake, what do you think attracts them to your projects in particular?

Well I think I have projects that have really good roles for women and the thing that I hate is people saying its strong female leads. No its not that, its just that they are good three dimensional roles and they can be strong and weak and vulnerable and they’re smart and they mess up. It allows whoever is going to play the role to just have a fully developed fun character and show off their comedic chops or just show off what a good actor they are. So you realise how bad things have been for actresses for so long. There weren’t enough roles that they could really sink their teeth into.

I totally agree with you. I think you have been spearheading the revival of good quality female comedies, starting with Bridesmaids, Girls Trip, Rough Night and most recently The Spy Who Dumped Me, which I felt was heavenly influenced by you. Kate McKinnon is just brilliant in that.

She is just so great. Thanks. The good thing now is that studios are letting people make movies about women and god forbid letting women behind the camera to direct them too. Its slowly course correcting and I mean its such a major course correction that they have to do. They’ve behind for a long time but at least its starting [to change].

Did you feel least pressure working on A Simple Favour compared to your other films?

You always feel pressure because of how much the movie costs. If it doesn’t do well there is still a mark against you because you may have made a bad decision or you are just creatively off. So I always definitely feel the pressure regardless, but it was nice not having to carry the pressure of an enormous budget because that help wins some fights and arguments you have with the studio. If you want something and they don’t want it you’re like ‘hey do you know much money I’m not making to do this, you know how much I’m sacrificing to do this!’ So yeah it really allows me to experiment a little more and do the things I wanted to do. That said the studio was so supportive of us because the movie ended up going to Lionsgate. It was going to be Fox 2000 and they at the last minute got nervous about it and decided not to do it. Lionsgate swept in and kept us on schedule and I will be eternally grateful. I’m really, really grateful to them for that.

Talking about the box office, is that something you look at. Do you worry about it or do you finish the film, finish post then go on holiday and try not to think about it. Because it seems some directors don’t seem to care, but do you worry about it?

All I worry about is the box office, its drives everything I do, every decision I make, every sleepless night. I’ve got different perspective of this than a lot of other people which is that I was in movie jail once. I started really good and fell apart really badly and then I was allowed to make movies again. That was a hard lesson like “unless you make me some money”, unless you get return of their investment you don’t get to do it again. So I’m sadly obsessed with it, but it does mean that I’m trying to make movies that I know are going to entertain the biggest amount of people. Well that’s what I’m shooting for. I’m not trying to shoot a little niche film I want, no matter how much my movies cost because I want everybody to see them, because I’m proud of them and want them to entertain.

Well I think you are doing a good job because all your projects make a good profit. For example Bridesmaids made a ridiculous amount of money from a moderate budget. So I don’t think you have to worry. (laughter)

Well thanks, the old saying is true, you’re only as good as your last picture. You never lose sight of that. You never rest on your laurels. Then they go and start giving you life time achievement awards and don’t let you work anymore.

(laughter) Well you don’t want one of those yet. Talking about your last picture Ghostbusters, which I really enjoyed, did the response from so called fanboys put you off for a while or did you brush it off?

Oh yeah it definitely bummed me out, it was a real assault which I wasn’t prepared for. Now I realise I made so many mistakes and how I dealt with all of that, because I just didn’t expect it. It really broad sided me because all my interactions on the internet before that were just absolutely lovely and just supportive. There was whole little group of people that liked what I did. So when I announced that project I just expected everyone was just going to be really happy (he laughs) and then there was daily stuff of awful awfulness. At the same time there were so many nice people. You just tend to focus and notice the bad stuff. It definitely threw me and definitely put me off but it didn’t stop my desire in doing stuff. It just made me think about ‘Ok what am I going to do next and what’s the next thing I want to say and what road do I want to go down to entertain people?’ Do I want to make another giant movie right away or do I want to make something? I don’t want to say smaller because that sounds less commercial, just something that’s not on the same scale, but hopefully something that is as entertaining or even more so.

You have a gift in casting male actors who are naturally funny but aren’t really known for their comedy chops like Jon Hamm, Jason Statham and Chris Hemsworth. Do you take credit for that? I truly believe if there was no Ghostbusters there would be no Thor: Ragnarok because Chris Hemsworth really shows his funny bones in it.

I mean I’ll own part of it, he is a funny guy. When I really got inspired, well it was a double thing that happened because we have the same agents so when it came to Ghostbusters my agent said ‘hey Chris Hemsworth said if you want him to do anything in your movie, he really wants to do a movie that his kids could enjoy’ so I was like ‘wow that would be awesome like to have Thor being their receptionist.’ Then I saw he hosted Saturday Night Live and I just thought he was really funny. What I look for, I don’t know if I look for people who are funny, I look to see if they have a sense of humour about themselves.

I’ve got to mention Freaks and Geeks, I think people would be disappointed if I didn’t. Your CV for TV is very impressive. You directed some episodes of The Office (US), Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, and Freaks and Geeks. Do you still get offered to do more TV?

I love TV. TV is in such an amazing place right now. I wish TV would have been in this place when we did Freaks and Geeks, we might still be on the air. We were such a fish out the water at the time, just an hour long dramedy. It just wasn’t what people were looking for at that moment. But I love TV and what’s great about TV now is the fact that it is embracing the realization of story telling and so these series are big long movies. So I love that, but I never love anything more than the challenge of trying to tell a complete story in two hours. It’s the hardest thing to do but the most satisfying thing to do.


We’d like to say a huge thank you to Paul for taking the time to chat with Dave!

A Simple Favour is out now in the US and releases in UK cinemas 20th September!

Pitch Perfect 3

Year: 2017
Directed by: Trish Sie
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp

Written by Livia Peterson

The Bellas are back for one final time! The ‘Pitch Perfect’ franchise has steadily endured franchise fatigue for the past five years and now their allegedly final tour definitely proved that the ladies are more than ready to return to reality and ditch the acapella dreams forever.

The Barden University student Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) reunites the Bellas, involving Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick), Patricia “Fat Amy” Hobart (Rebel Wilson), Chloe Beale (Brittany Snow), Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp), Lilly Onakurama (Hana Mae Lee), Cynthia-Rose Adams (Esther Dean), and Florencia “Flo” Fuentes (Chrissie Fit). Aubrey reveals the United Service Organization (USO) performance tour and if the group wins, they are able to open for DJ Khaled and the Bellas all agree to travel to Europe to compete to have one last victory. Upon arrival, the Bellas initiate a riff off with several bands competing for the prize. Of course, the Bellas perform acapella covers to demonstrate to the competition that they definitely deserve the triumphs regardless of the obstacles. While Gail-Abernathy-McKadden-Feinberger (Elizabeth Banks) and John Smith (John Michael Higgins) document and provide commentary, regarding the Bellas lives, the significant unnecessary subplot involves Fat Amy’s father Fergus (John Lithgow) re-entering her life and eventually betraying in return in more ways than one.

Jason Moore’s ‘Pitch Perfect’ boasts a brilliant and groundbreaking female driven narrative. Yet, the sequels – the second instalment helmed by Elizabeth Banks and the third and perhaps, final instalment directed by Trish Sie frequently feel more of the same without much return for the audience. Fat Amy still delivers the comic relief in the midst of Becca being the star of the show. The remaining Bellas are left in the background due to the story largely focusing on three primary, fully developed characters: Beca, Fat Amy, and more or less, Emily. It is indeed too difficult to resonate and root for the background characters when Beca and Fat Amy are always vying for one’s attention, whether it is leading the ladies in song and Fat Amy acting foolish. To add to the mess, the ladies have become stereotypes and one would consider this is a feminist film. The initial instalment absolutely praises feminism through acapella and yet, most characters are one dimensional, excluding the aforementioned three women here.

With lacklustre performances from the cast, and the music bordering on being intolerable, there are no redeeming factors for the Bellas this time round.  ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ checks all the bullet points of the predecessors, just to ensure audience approval and satisfaction. Not even an original song was written for this film. The only original song ‘Flashlight’, written by Jessie J, is featured in the second instalment. Indeed, the final instalment feels more like a live concert than a motion picture. If you’re craving a musical of some sort, resort the original or ‘The Greatest Showman’. Ultimately, ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ is a prime example of a money grab – regurgitating the previous two narratives and adding slight changes.

Whereas the first instalment possesses contagious energy, ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ completely lost the sparkle that made it magical in the first place. ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ retained some of the enchantment, if not neglected most of it along the way. ‘Pitch Perfect’ is the best out of the three even though the sequels attempted to surpass it with little success. Just goes to show sequels are not always necessary, especially for original content that should be left alone. Despite the Bellas being akin to a family, ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ indicates a possible spin-off as Beca becoming as a solo artist being hinted at during the conclusion. As if we asked for another ‘Pitch Perfect’ outing, assuming it is successful at the box office.

Aca-goodbye, ladies.

Livia’s Rating: 2.5/10

Watch This Space: November 2 – 8

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Very much in the spirit of last year’s ‘Chef’, ‘Burnt’ features a talented cast including Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Alicia Vikander, Uma Thurman, Lily James, and Emma Thompson. Cooper leads as a famous chef who destroys his career through drug addiction and outlandish behavior, now looking to redeem himself by returning to London and taking over a new restaurant. Murmurs from the US box-office so far suggest this one may well be more TV dinner than haute cuisine, so this drama is very much an acquired taste.

Directed by John Crowley and starring Saoirse Ronan, ‘Brooklyn’ tells the story of a young woman in the 1960s who leaves Ireland for New York, where she falls in love. ‘Brooklyn’ is attracting a degree of awards hype, especially surrounding Ronan’s performance, and for those seeking a small but sweet drama this awards season, this could be the film for you.

 

ON THE TV

Tuesday 22:00 GMT: A film which may not be for everyone, the super dark and hyper-stylised ‘Sin City’ plays on SyFy this Tuesday night. With unpleasant characters and situations throughout, as three characters explore the violence and corruption of their city, this beautifully crafted film is well worth a watch if you enjoy twisted, powerful projects. Check out the JumpCut UK review here.

Wednesday 21:00 GMT: A down and out college a capella group gets new members this Wednesday on Film4 with ‘Pitch Perfect’. This group of misfits, including the talented Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow, surge to the top and face their inner school rivals, in the first installment of this catchy, musical series which has developed something of a cult following since its release in 2012.

Friday 21:00 GMT: Who doesn’t enjoy seeing Angelina Jolie kick butt and take names? Catch ‘Salt’ on E4 for a film full of tension, fun and action sequences that will wet your appetite as we lead up to an action-packed November.

Saturday 21:00 GMT: Your Saturday night is sorted, with ITV4 bringing you a real American classic in the shape of ‘Tremors’. A diverse cast of characters come together to survive in small town USA, with star turns from Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, as carnivorous, subterranean worms terrorise the countryside. With a brilliant mix of horror and comedy, this should be a fun watch!

Sunday 21:00 GMT: Rian Johnson’s ‘Looper’ is arguably one of best time-travel, sci-fi movies of this decade so far. The film supplants us in a fascinating world full of mystery, action and dialogue that is fascinating from beginning to end, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis delivering a wonderful chemistry. Don’t lose track of time this Sunday, switch to BBC2 for this intriguing flick.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Grand Hotel (1932): A film which takes place in a lavish hotel, with a number of eccentric characters who all have some sort of drama going on in their lives, and all of these characters will have to deal with their issues together as they find themselves living in the same restrictive quarters. Many films have been inspired by the premise of this film, but few do it better. The charm of this film is in large part thanks to its ensemble cast, where many of the biggest movie stars of the early 1930’s appear, including Joan Crawford, Lionel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Greta Garbo and Wallace Beery. For director Edmund Goulding, it is considered by many to be his finest film. AG

Locke: One of the best films of 2014, ‘Locke’ features just one man – the incredible Tom Hardy. As the titular character, Hardy’s Ivan Locke is a man doing something a lot of us actually fail to do; owning our mistakes. This film is thematically very heavy, exploring themes that should make us all think about and consider our day to day lives. The entire film may take place solely in a car, with just Hardy on screen, yet it is a riveting watch from beginning to end. Check out the JumpCut UK review here. JD

The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948): Three men in search of wealth search the Sierra Madre mountains for gold, but along the way they run into adventure, joy, sorrow, greed, and betrayal. A movie directed and partially written (screenplay) by John Huston, this film stars one of my all-time favorite actors in Humphrey Bogart. For me, Bogart was the greatest A-list star of his generation; his acting alone elevates this movie above and beyond others in the genre. It has this western feel to it, even before westerns became all the rage. With wonderful cinematography, a great cast, a well-written script full of philosophical concepts and great directing, you would be hard pressed to find a better action-adventure film out there than this one. AG

When Marnie Was There: This is considered Studio Ghibli’s last film, and if so, what a note to go out on. This film tells the tale of a young girl named Anna who is lonely and depressed, when she goes away for the summer and meets another young girl named Marnie. The two develop a striking friendship that becomes more and more layered as the film goes on, producing a sweet and beautiful experience which I would highly recommend. JD 

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Andrew Garrison and special guest JD Duran of InSession Film.

Pitch Perfect 2

Written by Molly Dolan

A cappella; an Italian phrase meaning “in the manner of the chapel or the church”. How fitting, given the devoted fanbase who worship the delightful harmonies which musical theatre has given us. Popularity of such a concept has surged dramatically in recent years, or at least that is the case onscreen. Following the phenomenal success of ‘Glee’ – embracing diversity for the oh-so-impressionable teenage population – ‘Pitch Perfect’ opened in 2012 and was a sleeper hit.

The ensemble cast, centring on Anna Kendrick as the audacious Beca, combined to create a comedic and talent-rich film, headed up by relative newcomer Jason Moore. As Moore’s directorial debut, and with a modest $17m budget, the film’s eventual box office ($113m) and overall success was just that, a huge success. You only have to look on YouTube and you will still find videos of ‘The Cup Song’ still circulating today, a real sign of the triumph for this new wave of anti-instrumental performers.

Part of the ‘Pitch Perfect’ appeal is the imperfection of almost all of the characters. Although the storyline is one that we have seen a number of times before; outcasts battling society, outshining the popular, and all uniting in success with a dash of romance, the diversity of characters means that we can all relate to at least one trait on the screen. And the film cannot be mentioned without the term ‘Fat Amy’ cropping up. Rebel Wilson breaks down barriers of unjust, social stereotypes to play the integral role of Patricia AKA Fat Amy. Other female roles include the bitch, the tomboy, the nymphomaniac, the downright strange one and of course, Beca, the icon. All form The Barden Bellas.

The male counterparts, The Treblemakers, led by Skylar Astin’s Jesse, add a perfect amount of masculinity, showing that a Capella can be cool (right?). Add to this line-up some incredible, if not sometimes sassy, humour and you have the perfect recipe for a mainstream musical theatre hit. For me at least, The Treblemakers are a more exciting and talented group than The Bellas, but that just wouldn’t fit into what the film is trying to achieve. Of course the guys who are fun and popular (in a capella world) should win, but we need the underdogs to prevail to provide us with a morally charged undertone.

Following the apparent resolution of the first film, resulting in girl group The Bellas snatching the national title, fans were not left waiting long before the announcement of a sequel was made at CinemaCon (a third instalment has now also been announced). A long two years later and trailers have finally been released, showing The Bellas progression to an international a capella championship, a competition never before won by an American act. Elizabeth Banks returns as one half of the sarcastic, catty and somewhat misogynistic commentator-duo, to both star and direct ‘Pitch Perfect 2’, taking over the helm from Jason Moore, with Kay Cannon returning as screenwriter. The film follows a similar pattern to its predecessor, with an on-stage scandal – “Muffgate” – resulting in embarrassment and indignation for the girls, followed by a turbulent path that hopefully (and most likely) leads to the top.

Following the intense buzz of the first, that still carries on today and accounts for a number one song, a Christmas album and 6 film awards (albeit mostly via MTV and the Teen Choice awards), this sequel is a sure fire hit. With a budget this time of closer to $30m, box office projections suggesting the film could take around 245 million worldwide, not a bad turnaround at all. The only obstacle standing in the way of box office domination, will be the fact that ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ shares its release weekend with the highly anticipated ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’. With a very clear divide of interests between the two starkly contrasting films, cinemagoers on the whole will already know which screen they’re heading for, but the appeal of ‘Pitch Perfect’ reaches much further than social outcasts and teenage girls.  

‘Pitch Perfect 2’ takes centre stage on May 15th 2015