Ballerina


The likelihood of your childhood dream turning into a reality is a very slim possibility for most, but not for Felicie; a little girl with a very determined goal.

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As an orphan, you could say that Felicie didn’t have the best of starts in life. But despite her seemingly unfortunate beginning, she has an unforgiving talent for determination, which often tends to get her in trouble; a simple fact that she has come to accept and relish.  But even with a full tank of determination and enough tenacity to fuel a small army, Felicie must, herself, admit that her ultimate goal of becoming a ballerina for the Royal Opera House in Paris is quite a far-fetched one.

Failure, however, is not a word in Felicie’s vocabulary. With this relentless optimism in mind, Felicie and her best-friend Victor make the executive decision to escape the orphanage and travel across the country to Paris where they hope their dreams will become a reality.

Though this film may not have had the backing of a big animation studio, or had any a-rated actors on the casting list, the overall finished production is surprisingly well-polished. Admittedly, as 3D animations go, it is not in the same league as Pixar, but it is, given the circumstances, nothing short of a miracle that flows with eerie seamlessness.

With this being the first international directorial pursuit for Directors, Erin Warin and Eric Summer, it only goes without saying that we can expect to see nothing but greatness from this directorial duo in the future.

A Street Cat Named Bob


A ginger cat with a big heart helps a recovering drug addict back on the path to reality. 

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After spending most of his adult life on the streets, busking, James is ready to put his drug addiction to rest and start afresh. With the help of his social worker James bags himself a housing association flat and discovers his partner in crime to be, in the form of a furry feline friend known as Bob. 

Taken straight out of the pages of James Bowen’s bestselling memoir, this film manages to hit you where it hurts as you slowly fall in love with characters who you would ordinarily dismiss. And with this being actor Luke Threadaway’s (James) first feature film, the acting is actually surprisingly wonderful, which only adds to the main characters already lovable persona.

But it’s not just the humans that are making an impression in this film, as it turns out the cat himself is more than qualified to pull off this extraordinary story. Perhaps because the cat actor used for the films duration is none other than the real-life Bob himself, which is potentially why he is always so character-ready.

With homeless cat films being a rarity, I think that Director Roger Spottiswoode did a remarkable job in orchestrating such a tragically unique page to screen adaptation, and I would certainly recommend giving it a go, if not only to see the relentless cuteness of Bob’s onscreen charisma.

I, Daniel Blake


Such a horrendously accurate depiction of life on benefits in Britain is brought to the big screen, and boy does it tug on those heart strings.

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A character known as Daniel Blake takes centre stage in a film that follows his trivial pursuit to gain the benefits he deserves after falling too ill to continue working. 

In what seems like an ongoing battle of injustice, we, as the audience, follow his ever worsening quest for benefits which in turn leads to his continuing decline in health.

Dave Johns, a comedian and first time actor, takes on the role of Daniel Blake in what makes for a stunning breakout role which will almost definitely be a memorable performance in cinema for years to come. 

What is most important in the production of this film is the time that has been taken to truly understand the story of each character. Rather than spend obscene amounts of money on unnecessary props and sets, Director Ken Loach, has instead focused upon his characters and let them speak to the audience with their stories alone, making the need for excessive budgets redundant. 

In a film industry where we have almost lost perspective of real-life stories of love and hardship, this film really does spark up an ever darkening reality of life. 

The Light Between Oceans


A remarkably sad film about a light; a cinematic oxymoron if ever there was one.

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What starts out as a gloriously gorgeous love story is soon plummeted to the deepest darkest dramatic depths as family love becomes outrageously forbidden when a family stow away a child that is not rightfully  their own. 

Though tremendously heartbreaking, this period drama excels in ways modern love stories simply cannot. Being stranded on a lighthouse island with nothing but one another’s company and no internet or TV to keep you entertained is an impossibility in this day an age. 

From the genius behind The Place Beyond the Pines, Director Derek Cianfrance delights once more with his remarkable ability to make an audience feel a characters every emotion.

But it’s not just the Director’s performance that is admirable, Michael Fassbender also manages to deliver a profound performance with a touchingly genuine enthusiasm for his character. 

The only slight qualm with these lovable actors is their inability to perform an accurate Australian accent, which considering the films coastal Australian setting, one would assume this would take priority during casting, but clearly it did not.

Though this film is one of love and loss, if you ignore the failing Australian interpretation, it truly is worth a watch even if it does end up bringing a tear to the eye.

Doctor Strange


Marvel offers up another dose of superhero genius in this masterfully engineered take on perhaps its most unusual character yet.

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Doctor Strange, as the name may suggest, is full of endearing magical fantasies and unexplainable feats of gravity; it is not a straightforward saving the world type of film.

Benedict Cumberbatch of course takes the lead in this mythological sci-fi as Doctor Strange. Not only does Cumberbatch manage to play the character almost effortlessly, he also sports an American accent that would impress even the most conservative of Americans.

Acting aside, this film is crammed full with CGI magic, from Matrix style gravity defying fight scenes to Inception induced building manipulation, this film is awe-inspiring in its production alone. 

Marvel, it seems, have finally listened to their consumers and created a film that both impresses on a visual and intellectual level. As opposed to using the majority of their budget on tireless and more often than not, futile, marketing  campaigns. So really this film is a win-win for everyone involved. 

Queen of Katwe


Chess; not exactly ones first choice when trying to make a multi-million dollar blockbuster, and yet Disney seemed to have made it work nonetheless.

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This incredibly inspiring real-life story takes place in the slums of Kenya, where a little girl has a big dream; to play enough chess to help her family escape the horrific poverty of the slums.

As is to be expected from a rags to riches type film, the content really pulls at the heartstrings, but it is this emotion that fills the screen that is what makes this such an intensely spectacular masterpiece. 

Emotion of course is one of Disney’s many specialities, but this film is in a league of its own. Between the phenomenal acting talent and the perspective camera angles, the filmmakers don’t even leave you enough time to take a breath before they plunge you into the next drama induced scene.

It is rare, as a viewer, that we get an insight into such honest poverty and heartache  without a filter to keep us from reality. And it is for this reason that you cannot help but admire the Director, Mira Nair, for her courage in its execution.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back


Lee Child’s fictional world has made it back to the big screen as Jack Reacher takes on his newest mission. 

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Tom Cruise is doing what he’s best at again; playing the action hero. In this Jack Reacher revival Cruise has to chase down a US arms dealer to clear both his name and that of his newest love interest. But to make things a little more interesting, he now has a long lost daughter to protect as well.

As explosions and overly traumatic gun fights go, this film manages the audiences expectations in terms of the action and fight scenes. Which is particularly refreshing considering many action films tend to overcompensate for the all too frequent inept post-production that often befalls them.

However despite the seemingly equal balance of violence to drama, this film doesn’t truly start to stir interest until the it’s penultimate scene that see’s Reacher fight to the death. By which time the film’s build-up seems almost anti-climatic.

But overall, I think that in a world almost overrun by action films, this unexpected sequel is a happy reminder that a big budget can actually be rewarding if executed properly. 

Keeping Up With The Joneses


The idea of a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ is given a whole new meaning in this hilariously awkward comedy thriller that sees friendships blossom from curiosity. 

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Not many highly skilled espionage artists have been exposed to modern suburbia life, so it is unsurprising that two secret agents under the persona of The Joneses get a little more than they bargained for when they move into the same cul-de-sac as The Gaffney’s.

Despite The Joneses consistent attempts to fit-in to the neighbourhood, The Gaffney’s can’t help but think not all is as it seems and so decide to do a little investigating themselves; ultimately leading to blowing The Joneses cover and jeopardising the entire mission.

As spy films go this one certainly wins the award for the most ridiculous concept. Not because of the special effects or the acting talent, but because of the sheer hilarity that carries the script. From seeing Zach Galifiankis try and break a three sheet pane of glass by running into it, to witnessing Jonn Hamms relentless optimism in the ever worsening spy talents of The Gaffney’s, there’s one thing for sure; this film is not missing the comedy factor. 

Like so many films in this genre, it makes for easy  an viewing and screams ‘date night’ material. And unlike so many of these comedy spy films that seem to be hitting the cinemas front, left and centre, it might actually be a film that remains with its audience, but I doubt it. 

Trolls


Those little tyrants with wacky hair have made a comeback and branched out onto the big screen to fuel a clumsily colourful adventure. 

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Trolls, as you can imagine, is a sickeningly happy film, jam packed full of singing and dancing, a feature that is not even compromised in the face of death. 

Luckily though Justin Timberlake’s character, Branch, is there to inject a much needed dose of scepticism and doom.

Despite the films overall rainbows and unicorns vibe, the film isn’t overly unbearable in its conception. Mainly due to the fact that the undertones of sarcasm and non-stop use of inappropriate puns is enough to diffuse any possibility of seriousness. This of course only adds to the films endearing quality, which I’m sure was the intention of Director, Garth Jennings, who wanted to appeal not only to a younger audience, but their parents as well.

With the witty writing of the script, the lovable warmth of the characters and the instantly catchy soundtrack it would be an insult not to mention the quality of the animation itself, which by the way is phenomenal. 

Aside from the impressive array of colours used throughout the film, it is the textures used to create the animation that truly impresses. The very fact that I, as an audience, am able to ascertain that an animated character is wearing clothes made from a felt-like material is beyond satisfying, because such a level of detail is hard pressed to find even among the most successful of animation studios. 

American Honey


Usually films and indeed stories, have a beginning, a middle and an end.

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But not this one. This one just provides a middle. A middle that exceeds over 160 minutes of screen time, and makes you feel as if you have been forced into spending the rest of eternity with Shia Labeouf’s acting. Which I think we can all agree is a horrid punishment despite his exterior attractiveness.

As is the case with many hipster films that try and ‘break’ the Hollywood mold, this one doesn’t just fail, it crashes, burns and then explodes in a cataclysmic fashion.

Though at the time I’m sure that the creator and director of this film, Andrea Arnold, thought using perspective and close up camera angles was super quirky and original, but the novelty soon wears off for those unfortunate enough witness it, mostly due to the fact that it induces nausea. 

But then again the filmmakers had to attempt something  in order to hold the audiences attention, because one things for sure, the plot definitely can’t; the whole film is essentially about a group of angsty teenagers who travel through America to ‘sell’ magazines all whilst being intoxicated and apparently very sexually frustrated as they do so. 

If you’d like to whittle away 3 hours of your life that you’ll never be able to get back (a very grace mistake on my part), than this is the perfect film for your apparently very boring entertainment purposes.