Tully

Year: 2018
Directed By: Jason Reitman
Cast: Charlize Theron, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Davis

Written by Fiona Underhill

This is going to be a hard review for me to write because I felt this film on a deeply personal level and objectivity is going out of the window. I do think this film will be viewed by those who have experienced motherhood (yes, not parenthood) in a very different way to those who haven’t.

‘Tully’ is director Jason Reitman’s third collaboration with writer Diablo Cody (after ‘Juno’ and ‘Young Adult’) and his second with Charlize Theron (‘Young Adult’). Reitman has been something of an uneven writer-director and usually quite divisive with critics. I have generally been a fan of his work and he does seem to have been particularly successful when teamed with Cody.

Tully follows Marlo (Theron) after the birth of her third child. Her rich brother Craig (Mark Duplass) suggests Marlo and her husband Drew (one of my favourite actors; Ron Livingston) get a ‘night nanny’ – someone to come in at night and help with the baby so the parents can get some rest. This seems a flawed idea to me, if the mother is breast-feeding, but the realism of the situation kind of isn’t the point of the film. Marlo eventually caves and hires Tully (another one of my favourites; Mackenzie Davis) and finds a new lease of life, waking up to a clean kitchen and freshly-baked cupcakes.

Theron has had quite a year; with the successfulAtomic Blonde and the pretty woeful ‘Gringo’. Tully is another physical transformation for her (which led to her Oscar success with ‘Monster’) although I’m not sure how much is prosthetics here. It is an incredible performance, quite apart from the physical side. Theron effectively communicates a mother barely holding it together, despite the pressures from her kids’ school and comparing herself to her perfect brother. I adore Mackenzie Davis. She has given some great performances on TV in ‘Halt & Catch Fire’ and ‘Black Mirror’ (San Junipero) and in rom-coms ‘That Awkward Moment’ and ‘What If’ and she is equally fantastic here. The dynamics between the two women as they form a close bond is at the heart of this film, and they have great chemistry.

All I can say is that the details that Cody and Reitman have captured of motherhood (especially of having a newborn baby) are painfully real and relatable. I cried several times during the film, as Marlo was doused in a juice cup, dealt with tantrums from her older children and examined her postnatal body. The house was recognisable as a real, lived-in house and her relationship with her husband felt  authentic also. It is rare to find a film that you feel speaks to your experience so accurately and for this reason, I was pretty destroyed by the end.

The plot does not go in a predictable direction, for a film dealing with a young, attractive nanny coming into the home of a older couple. Despite managing to avoid all Infinity War spoilers before seeing it, I did have ‘Tully’ spoiled for me on Twitter and this did affect my experience of watching the film. The ending will not be to everyone’s taste and I can also see people having an issue with the depiction of mental health in the film. However, there are not many films that have touched on the madness-inducing exhaustion of having a newborn or on postnatal depression – topics that it’s important we discuss as a society.

It’s difficult to say much more about this film without spoiling it and I do recommend that you go in knowing as little as possible. As I have said, I believe you will find this a very different experience depending on how much you can relate to Marlo. For me, it was an extremely well written and well acted film that spoke to me on a deeply personal level. But, I can fully understand other people not getting the same things from it. I also think the ending will prove controversial and will colour your view of the film as a whole. Definitely worth seeing, so you can make up your own mind!

FIONA’S RATING:

4

 

Fiona’s March Round-Up

Written by Fiona Underhill

While the UK enjoys the quality of Oscar-nominated films such as ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Lady Bird’ in the first few months of the year, the first quarter can be something of a barren wasteland in US cinemas. We did get ‘Paddington 2’ in January and of course, there has been ‘Black Panther’, but other than that, there have been slim pickings to choose from. But, like buses, they can all suddenly come along at once and I’ve seen 5 films in the last week that have greatly improved my year in film. Below is a round-up of my movie-watching month, which has ranged in quality, but certainly hasn’t been boring!

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Gringo

(starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton & Thandie Newton)

‘Gringo’ stars Oyelowo as a businessman working for his friend (Edgerton) and his colleague (Theron) at a pharmaceutical company. The three of them go to Mexico on a business trip, which unbeknownst to Oyelowo is connected to the drug trade. There Oyelowo gets embroiled with drug dealers, traffickers, kingpins and mercenaries (including another great turn from Sharlto Copley) while trying to stay alive and ahead of the law. Although amusing at times, ‘Gringo’ has big tonal problems and inconsistencies. Theron is playing an unlikeable, edgy character, demonstrated by her saying things like “fat people are so funny” and Newton’s character is handled offensively at the end. Great cast, but disappointing execution.

Verdict: 4/10

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A Wrinkle in Time

(starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon & Mindy Kaling)

Despite its critical reception, I really enjoyed ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and crucially, so did my 8 year old (the target audience of this film). An adaptation of a beloved children’s book, we follow Meg Murry (Reid) on an adventure across space and time. With stunning visual effects and incredible costume, hair and make-up design; this film was a feast for the eyes. It also featured an emotional story, with two children on a quest to find their missing father and I struggled to hold it together towards the end. Featuring some astounding performances from the child/teen actors, I really loved this film and recommend it to families during the spring/Easter holidays.

Verdict: 8/10

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The Hurricane Heist

(starring Toby Kebell, Maggie Grace & Ryan Kwanten)

Last year’s ‘Geostorm’ spoiled us in terms of trashy disaster movies (a genre which I adore), but ‘Hurricane Heist’ is possibly even better, if you can believe it. Everything you need to know is right there in the title: it’s about a heist that takes place during a hurricane. I don’t know what else to tell you.

Verdict: 10/10

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Flower

(starring Zoey Deutch, Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott)

‘Flower’ follows Erica (Zoey Deutch) a troubled 17 year old girl who spends her time giving blowjobs to men and then blackmailing them for money so she can try to bail her father out of prison. Her world is disrupted when her step-brother Luke (who she has never met) leaves rehab and moves in with her. Luke accuses a local man Will (Adam Scott) of having abused him while he was his teacher, so Erica and her friends set out to avenge him with some vigilante justice. Despite a strong cast, led by another winning performance from Zoey Deutch, this film was a little problematic, with unlikeable characters and will end up proving rather forgettable. I’m frankly getting a little tired of teen girl characters being written and directed by men.

Verdict: 6/10

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Final Portrait

(starring Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer & Tony Shalhoub)

The release date for this film has been all over the shop, but it’s now on UK Netflix and I managed to find one cinema showing it in LA. Directed by Stanley Tucci, it follows the sculptor and artist Giacometti (Rush) as he struggles to paint a portrait of his friend/muse James Lord (Hammer). And that is it – the whole plot. Frankly, the only thing that got me through this film was the long, lingering close-ups of Hammer’s face. One for die-hard fans only, I would suggest.

Verdict:  4/10

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Oh Lucy!

(starring Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, Kaho Minami & Shiloi Kutsuna)

This film follows Setsuko (a sublime performance by Terajima), an unusual woman who does not view her job or relationships in the same way as her contemporaries. Her niece Mika (Kutsuna) persuades her to take English lessons from John (Hartnett), but then he abruptly leaves for LA, taking Mika with him. Setsuko and her sister Ayako (Minami) set out to track them down and end up on an adventurous road trip of sorts. I absolutely adored this film from director Atsuko Hirayanagi and appreciated the creation of a fully-realised, complex and unique woman as the protagonist. Seek this out – you won’t regret it.

Verdict: 9/10

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Thoroughbreds

(starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke & Anton Yelchin)

‘Thoroughbreds’ focuses on childhood friends Lily (Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Cooke), who have grown apart but are forced together when Amanda’s mother pays Lily to tutor her daughter. Set in the ultra-privileged world of private school Connecticut kids, this is an insight into a rarefied world. Lily and Amanda plot to kill Lily’s step-father with the help of local drug dealer Tim (one of Yelchin’s last roles). I appreciated the score and some of the camerawork in this film and the central performances are fantastic. Again, it’s a little difficult to fully engage with a film where everyone is terrible, but it’s stylishly done.

Verdict: 7.5/10

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Gemini

(starring Lola Kirke, Zoe Kravitz & John Cho)

‘Gemini’ is another film that seems to have had its release date majorly delayed because I first saw trailers for this over a year ago. An LA-set neo-noir (a genre that is very much up my street) focusing on the relationship between a celebrity, Heather (Kravitz) and her assistant, Jill (Lola Kirke), this is a mystery-thriller that is sure to intrigue. When Heather is murdered, Jill is immediately under suspicion and is pursued by Detective Edward Ahn (Cho), so she sets out to clear her name. The central performance by Kirke is incredible, but unfortunately there was not enough Cho for me. There is a delicious slice of black humour that runs through this film and it is a slightly ridiculous, but fun watch.

Verdict: 7.5/10

 Don’t forget to check out Fiona’s full reviews for Love, Simon and Journey’s End

Charlize Theron Meets Her Nanny In ‘Tully’ Teaser Trailer

“Marlo, a mother of three including a newborn, is gifted a night nanny by her brother. Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully.”

Directed By: Jason Reitman

Cast: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston

Release Date: 20th April 2018

Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For ‘Gringo’ Released

“An exhilarating mix of dark comedy, white-knuckle action and dramatic intrigue, Gringo joyrides into Mexico, where mild-mannered businessman Harold Soyinka finds himself at the mercy of his back-stabbing business colleagues back home, local drug lords and a morally conflicted black-ops mercenary. Crossing the line from law-abiding citizen to wanted criminal, Harold battles to survive his increasingly dangerous situation in ways that raise the question: Is he out of his depth — or two steps ahead?”

Directed By: Nash Edgerton

Cast: David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried

Release Date: March 9th, 2018

Atomic Blonde

Year: 2017
Director: David Leitch
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones

Written by Abbie Eales

Former stuntman David Leitch’s first solo directorial outing is somewhat of a mixed bag. Set in November 1989, the just-at-the-end-of-the-cold-war spy thriller takes place against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin wall.

The opening scene sees  a mustachioed man being chased through Berlin’s snowy graffiti-festooned backstreets (complete with posters of smiley faces and CND symbols) to a soundtrack of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ – “IT’S 1989!” in case you missed the opening credits. Eventually we see him being run over twice and then shot, in a less than glamourous KGB hit. So the tone is set for ‘Atomic Blonde’. Or at least for part of the film, because tonally, it’s all over the shop.

Charlize Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent, who is sent to Berlin to retrieve a list of assets, uncover a double agent and perhaps bring some justice for the murder of our mustachioed man, her former lover. So far, so John Le Carre. Aiding Broughton on her mission is David Percival (the ever charismatic James McAvoy on best ‘Filth’ form), who may or may not be the double agent, but he definitely has ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli on his book shelf, *wink to camera*.

What follows for the next hundred minutes is largely nonsense. Some very stylish nonsense, then some confusing nonsense, with a few moments of goddamn brilliance just to confuse matters.

The first half hour is largely a neon-lit music video, with lingering shots of Theron letting smoke spill from her perfect pout, while the plot is occasionally alluded to in heavy-handed globs of dialogue, all the while glorious ‘80’s music plays on a constant “Jeez, wasn’t ‘89 a vintage year for music?” loop. It looks beautiful, sounds beautiful and being a shallow short of person, I would probably have enjoyed it if it continued in the same vein.

However the narrative meanders about for so long while Theron smokes in various Berlin bars and restaurants, that you forget why she’s out there. We start to wonder where has McAvoy gone? Who is this French woman? Who is Satchel? Do we even care anymore? ‘Atomic Blonde’s’ questions don’t arise as a result of a clever plot however, but just sheer confusion.

Thankfully the latter half of the film sees a SUPERB fight scene, all filmed in one take, which shows off not only Theron’s action chops, but also David Leich’s potential as a director. The music stops, the neon is nowhere to be seen and things get brutal, bloody and far more interesting than the previous 60+ minutes. THAT’S the film I really would have wanted to see. Dispense with the smoke-ringed glamour and get Theron really kicking ass.

Theron is magnetic as Broughton, (although Lorraine is not a super sexy spy name, let’s face it), all effortless physicality and sideways glances. Her wardrobe throughout made me want to burn all my clothes on my return home, as she is stylish as hell and I am fully subscribed to the ‘Atomic Blonde’ autumn/winter collection. However, she is also pretty one dimensional. A 40+ year old woman playing a kickass, bisexual, cold war era spy should be exciting and lead to a different feel to the spy genre, but somehow that is all fairly cosmetic. We never really engage with Broughton as a character, she is all veneer and could just as well be Jason Bourne in Louboutins.

While ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a confused affair, there are enough visual thrills to make up for the uneven plot, with some terrific performances managing to raise it to the status of entertaining diversion rather than all out car-wreck.

Abbie’s rating: 6.5 out of 10

Charlize Theron Kicks All Kinds Of Ass In The New Trailer For Atomic Blonde

A brand new kick ass trailer for David Leitch’s ‘Atomic Blonde’ has arrived and Charlize Theron is once again proving she isn’t taking shit from anyone. Starring alongside Theron  in this “blistering blend of sleek action, gritty sexuality and dazzling style” are the super talented likes of James McAvoy, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, and Toby Jones. 

I thought the first trailer was superb and really showcased what to expect from the film. This new trailer was somehow even better and secures ‘Atomic Blondes’ place on my ever growing  list of films that I’m excited to see this year. 

The synopsis for the film is:

“Oscar® winner Charlize Theron explodes into summer in Atomic Blonde, a breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.

The crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilized city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.”

‘Atomic Blonde’ arrives in UK cinemas 11th August 2017

Written by Tom Sheffield

The First Red Band Trailer For Atomic Blonde Is Here!

David Leitch, who co-directed the insanely brilliant bullet-frenzy that was John Wick and is currently working on Deadpool 2, is in the directors chair  for ‘Atomic Blonde, which is being called a “blistering blend of sleek action, gritty sexuality and dazzling style”.  

The synopsis is:

“Oscar® winner Charlize Theron explodes into summer in Atomic Blonde, a breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.

The crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilized city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.”

The film boasts a fantastic cast with the likes of, Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, and Toby Jones.  I’ve been waiting for this trailer since I heard about the film and who was involved and I’ve got to say, this trailer really didn’t disappoint! It’s already being hailed as the female John Wick, which I can definitely see will catch on quickly. 

‘Atomic Blonde’ arrives in UK cinemas 11th August 2017

Written by Tom Sheffield

The Fate Of The Furious First Trailer Races Its Way Online

For months now Vin Diesel has been teasing the 8th instalment of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, with live videos from the set and behind-the-scenes photographs. Then several weeks ago he announced that the trailer would arrive in December, just in time for Christmas. On Thursday the official title of the film was announced and it’s fair to say that it’s not had the warmest of receptions from fans of the series, or anyone for that matter. Then yesterday the first poster was released, which features both Diesel and Johnson’s characters looking rather moody, again I’ve probably seen more memes made from this poster than I have read positive comments on it.

Well in the early hours of this morning the trailer was finally released for ‘The Fate of the Furious’ during a live Facebook event. The action packed trailer gives us the low down of the plot, showing us that Vin Diesel’s character, Dom, has seemingly taken on the role of the bad guy after betraying his ‘family’ during an escape. Dom’s turn to the dark side comes with some persuasion from Cipher, played by Charlize Theron, but the motive for his betrayal is unclear as of yet. The old team get back together to try and bring Dom to his senses, but he appears to outwit and outmanoeuvre them all in their attempts to stop him. The team have no choice but to call in the big guns, Deckard and Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, to help them stop Dom by any means necessary.

To me it seems like Dom is likely being blackmailed by Cipher, as betraying his ‘family’ is completely out of character. I’m also eager to learn what role Helen Mirren will be playing in all of this as I was really surprised when they announced her as a member of the cast!

The official synopsis for ‘The Fate of the Furious’ is as follows:

On the heels of 2015’s Furious 7, one of the fastest movies to reach $1 billion worldwide in box-office history and the sixth-biggest global title of all time, comes the newest chapter in one of the most popular and enduring motion-picture serials of all time: The Fate of the Furious.

Now that Dom and Letty are on their honeymoon and Brian and Mia have retired from the game—and the rest of the crew has been exonerated—the globetrotting team has found a semblance of a normal life. But when a mysterious woman (Oscar® winner Charlize Theron) seduces Dom into the world of crime he can’t seem to escape and a betrayal of those closest to him, they will face trials that will test them as never before.

From the shores of Cuba and the streets of New York City to the icy plains off the arctic Barents Sea, our elite force will crisscross the globe to stop an anarchist from unleashing chaos on the world’s stage…and to bring home the man who made them a family.

Written by Tom Sheffield

 

The JumpCut UK Film Awards Show

It’s been months in the making, but finally we can bring you the results and the full show of the first annual JumpCut UK Film Awards; an awards show put together by film fans, for film fans. If you’re tired of The Oscars, this is the perfect awards show for you.

The show is just a bit of fun, as you’ll see, but at the heart of it is an attempt to celebrate some of the films, filmmakers and performers who were perhaps overlooked by the big awards ceremonies. If you don’t fancy watching the show however, here is a quick rundown of the results. Stop reading now if you don’t want to spoil the surprise.

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Best Trailer: Star Wars The Force Awakens
The Guilty Pleasure Award: San Andreas
Best Breakthrough Actor/Actress: Alicia Vikander
Worst Acting Performance: Adam Sandler (Pixels)
Best Soundtrack/Score: Whiplash
Best Visual Effects: Star Wars The Force Awakens
Best Alternative Film: The Lobster
Worst Sequel/Reboot: Terminator Genisys
Best Support Actress: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
Best Support Actor: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Best Horror: It Follows
Best Comedy: Spy
Best Sci-Fi: Ex Machina
Best Action: Mad Max Fury Road
Best Drama: Whiplash
Worst Film: Pixels
Best Editing: Birdman
Best Original Story: Ex Machina
Best Adaptation: The Martian
Best Cinematography: Sicario
Best Lead Actress: Charlize Theron (Mad Max Fury Road)
Best Lead Actor: Miles Teller (Whiplash)
Best Director: George Miller (Mad Max Fury Road)
The Best Film of 2015: Whiplash

Thanks to everyone who helped out, from the nomination process, to the final voting and of course to all the presenters. We’ll be back with an even better awards show for 2016 this time next year, but in the meantime, enjoy the show and let’s hope for some great films this year again!