The Lost City – Review

Rating: 12a Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Brad Pitt. Directed by Aaron Nee and Adam Nee. Written by Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee and Aaron Nee. Length: 112mins

In the Lost City Sandra Bullock plays Loretta, the author of a novel franchise-series that focuses on fictional stories around archeological realities that Loretta and her late husband studied together while he was alive. Her Lara Croft style adventures feature her own character going on adventures with her lover, a character named Dash. What real life Loretta isn’t too keen on, is the reality that her cover model, Alan (Tatum), is a key factor in selling the books and some have trouble separating the fictional characters from the real life. The story ramps up though, when Loretta is kidnapped by an evil British billionaire who takes her to a mysterious Island which is about to be destroyed by a volcano in the hopes that she can help him find an ancient treasure; meanwhile Alan takes it upon himself to rescue her and quickly discovers that ‘Alan’ isn’t quite the natural hero as his character in the books…

The Lost City isn’t a particularly ‘unique’ film – it fits neatly into the genre of ‘adventure comedy’ and it’s not shy about using cliches like a seemingly charming British villain or a volcano due to erupt at any point…but it’s okay. I think most of its audiences are very aware of the ‘type’ of film that they’re going to watch and as long as that is the case, then there won’t be any disappointment.  

Bullock is an absolute master at this level of comedy, she brings such an authentic feel to ridiculous situations and I think just having her lead a cast automatically relaxes an audience into something that’s a bit familiar. Tatum is also playing his stereotype – the handsome idiot – but it’s his stereotype for a reason and he’s very good at it. It was interesting to see him play a more family friendly role and was nice to see that he doesn’t solely rely on some of the more, perhaps, cheap laughs around language or sexuality that we’ve seen him do so many times. The real genius that probably comes from their sheer level of experience is that both Bullock and Tatum are smart enough to know how silly the whole thing is. They perform in a way that suggests ‘they know that we know, that they know’ how ridiculous the action is.

The Lost City is the perfect film for escapism. It isn’t the best in its genre. In recent years I would suggest that films like Jungle Cruise hit the mark a little better than this one. But, it’s a solid, amusing film to watch when the real world just gets a little too much.

Everything Everywhere All at Once – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis
Directed by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan
Length: 139mins

With a title like ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, as you can probably imagine, it can be hard to even know where to begin when it comes to explaining its concept, as well as dissecting all its intricacies. Put simply, iMDB first had the synopsis listed as “A woman tries to do her taxes.” However, this film expands outwards from this basic premise, and covers so much emotion, adventure, and action within its two hours and nineteen minutes runtime. As a film that definitely benefits from knowing as little about the plot as possible when going into it, it can become a tricky thing to review – but of course we’ll try our best.

In this modern world of mass consumption, where TV’s play whilst phone screens are held, and music sounds from some distant room, it seems the average person is so often being constantly overwhelmed by content in varying forms. Whether this is a good thing or not is a question for another day, but to say that ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ embodies this stage of humanity within film form would probably be an understatement. Viewers are thrown in completely at the deep end, left to make sense of the overwhelming world defined by partners-in-crime filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert at the same pace as our leading actress Michelle Yeoh, who delivers a brilliant performance balancing the spinning plates of motherly duties, business management, and multidimensional calamities. 

It would be difficult to discuss this film without mentioning the dimension-travelling qualities of films most recently churned out by the Marvel conglomerate, and how the ‘EEAAO’ filmmakers have taken those big-budget qualities, and applied them to indie filmmaking. In fact, only five members of the film’s production worked on the intricate visual effects which comprised so much of the story, with most of them having learnt all they know from online tutorials. To see a smaller production crew go toe-to-toe with these behemoth superhero stories which have consumed the big screen in recent years, and succeed in creating an action-packed and exciting story, gives hope to the belief that there are still a great number of genres which can ignite the same feeling of adventure that recently seemed to have been reserved only for the blockbuster format. 

Each character in the story – and there a lot to mention – completely give their all to their performance. Though the script may be unlike anything else they’ve previously brought to life, it seems as if everyone on set was as enraptured in the insanity of the plot as the audience becomes, knowing that what they were making was unlike anything seen before. This film feels like a landmark occasion within independent filmmaking, where it’s proved that with a great story, anything can be possible, no matter how surreal an idea is.  

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ really is a film which needs to be seen to be believed, dancing elegantly between moments of profound thinking, childlike humour and gripping action. I’m sure there’s so much more to be gained from this film across repeat viewings – it really was a treat to watch this story play out on the big screen.

Downton Abbey: A New Era – Review

Rating: PG Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Allan Leech, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith. Directed by Simon Curtis. Written by Jullian Fellowes. Length: 125mins.

Downton Abbey: A New Era pulls its fans back in three years after its first motion picture and seven years after the wildly successful television series came to an end. As a fan of Downton Abbey, I was happy to hear that they were going to make a film or two, but it’s very clear that this is a money move rather than anything else. They wrapped the series up nicely and there was no real need to make a feature – having said this, of course, the fans flocked back to the cinemas in 2019 to see what their beloved Crawley family and staff had been up to.

This second film rejoins the family, going about their business but with a leaky roof and no sure way of funding the repairs. As it happens, the estate is approached by a company wanting to use Downton as a location for their latest silent movie and they’re willing to pay. While the traditional members of the family aren’t keen to have their home invaded by filmmakers, Lady Mary, who is now in charge, deems it an interesting proposition and invites the company into the walls of Downton, much to the delight of the gang downstairs. While this is going on, it is discovered that Lady Violet has mysteriously been left a villa in the south of France by a gentleman that she spent a short amount of time with, many years ago… Of course this lends itself for several of the family to visit France to investigate that situation, while Lady Mary and the staff keep a close eye on the creation of the silent film and its stars all while getting a little more involved than initially planned.

I’ve seen several criticisms of this movie, mostly from people who just aren’t Downton fans – which makes sense to me. As previously stated it’s a film created for the money that it will clearly generate and will just not appeal to anyone who doesn’t know the characters. The plot is, in all honesty, a bit of a rip off of Singin’ In The Rain and is terribly predictable, but also, terribly enjoyable. You can see everything that’s coming before it lands and that’s sort of the comfort of a film like this, it’s easy to watch and fairly easy to forget. BUT fans will be thrilled to see some of their favourite television characters getting to wrap up their stories – I’m confident that they won’t make another Downton film, they wrap everything up nicely in a way that manages expectations and doesn’t leave any questions.

I enjoyed Downton Abbey: A New Era, it was so easy to watch and pretty nostalgic, but i’m very aware that my opinion is based purely on having watched the characters develop over years. I found the first movie fairly forgettable and I think I preferred this one, but time will tell if it will have done enough to remain in my head. The long and short of it is, if you enjoyed the series and last film you will more than likely enjoy this one, but if not, it’s very basic and probably lands at ‘fine’.

The Worst Person in the World – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Hans Olav Brenner
Directed by Joachim Trier
Length: 128mins

‘The Worst Person in the World’ is a fairly ambiguous title for a film which tells the story of a nearly 30-something woman living in Oslo. Such an extreme description paints a picture of a truly terrible person, but as we watch these two hours of human troubles play out, you come to realise that although there may be moments where our lead, Julie, doesn’t exactly act in the best interests of those around her, these self-professed moments of being the ‘worst’ person are more internal than external – a feeling that I can imagine everyone in the audience has experienced at one time or another.

Divided up into twelve unequal chapters – both in length and emotional weight – the story navigates many of the formative moments within Julie’s post-adolescence. She has to confront the realities of her life as it currently is, and as it will soon be in the coming years. Long-term relationships, aspiring careers and family pressures are captured with beautiful elegance on the equally beautiful streets of Oslo, with the film selling the city along with its own story. 

Of course, the tale of a late twenties character reluctant to face the fast approaching thirtieth birthday balloons is not a new story to the big screen, but there are always interesting ways to approach it. Earlier this year we saw ‘Tick, Tick… Boom’, which brought the story of a real-life musical composer who was unwilling to face a similar fate, but with a theatrical infusion to the narrative. ‘Worst Person in the World’ is just as creative, but in an entirely different form. The innermost desires of our questionable protagonist are fantasised through film manipulation, with a city put on pause allowing her to run into the arms of a new destiny, as well as an incredibly depicted impromptu acid-trip bringing to the foreground all the uncertainties and desires which comprise her being. By approaching such a story in this sporadic way, we delve deep into who Julie is as a person, and are able to interpret her actions with an understanding of her life experiences so far, and those which are soon to come, allowing each audience member to truly consider whether they’d describe her as ‘The Worst Person in the World’. 

There are a few moments throughout the film where it feels as if the narrative has become slightly muddled, with some characters provided a great deal more weight than others, despite their similarly matched importance within Julie’s life. However, when it comes to such a subjective story as this one, battling the ever-changing emotions which run circles around a single person’s mind, the film feels as if it benefits greatly from an appreciation of individual scenes rather than a conclusive storyline, especially when some of these moments are as impactful as they are.

‘The Worst Person in the World’ is absolutely a film which will impact viewers differently depending on where they are in their lives, and whilst it may not receive the most widespread release here in the UK, if you get a chance to see it at your local cinema, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.