Call Me by Your Name (2017)

This is the best film I have seen all year. It is beautiful, inspiring and moving. I’m not sure it comes down to anyone thing in the film as to why it is so great. It is one of those great things when the film just works. Call Me by Your Name does just that, it works.

One of the main reasons I feel this movie works is it’s strong sense of place. As an audience member you are transported to the hot Italian summer. We feel as Elio does, bothered by the heat & bothered by Oliver. Timothee Chalamet is superb as Elio. We see the film through Elio’s eyes and Chalamet is definitely deserving of his Oscar nomination. I don’t think he will end up winning Best Actor, but he should be up there. Armie Hammer was also fantastic as Oliver. What was striking about the film is that the relationship between Oliver who is quite a bit older than Elio, is not predatory at all. I think this is due to Both Hammer and Chalamet’s authentic & honest performances.

The themes in Call Me by Your Name resonate as we experience again with Elio what it is like to fall in love for the first time. We also experience what it is like to have to fall out of love. It is poignant and nostalgic. The film is also helped greatly by the music. The music is emotive and sets the scene & the audience feelings beautifully.

I can just imagine how amazing it would have been to see this film at the Sundance Film Festival, when it premiered, and discovering this movie for the first time, not knowing anything about it. It is an immersive experience and resonated with me a way a film hasn’t in a while. It’s a timeless story that transcends gender or orientation.

I really hope this wins Best Picture at the Oscars, but sadly, I don’t think it will. The topical issue this year is not being homosexual or combating homophobia, it’s strong woman taking control. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) might take the cake, but it’s got nothing on Call Me by Your Name. 

 

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Much has been written already about Star Wars: The Last Jedi and this to be expected when something as loved as Star Wars takes on a new direction.

My thoughts on the film are mixed. Some elements I liked, whilst others made me angry. It’s a bold step in a new direction for a much-loved film franchise. My main worry, that maybe they are flogging Star Wars to death.

As a whole, I found the film to be engaging and enjoyable. But I wouldn’t watch it again. I’m a massive Star Wars fan & I’m not going to sign a petition like some to get this film reversed. But I really didn’t like what they did to Luke Skywalker’s character. After all this is THE Luke Skywalker who destroyed the sith by recognising there was still good left in Darth Vader. We are then supposed to believe that this same Luke Skywalker would dismiss R2-D2 playing him Princess Leia’s message from A New Hope. That’s just not true to his character or the Jedi. But I guess this is the point director, Rian Johnson wanted to make.

There were some comical moments in the film, which were great. They at least didn’t try to change Chewbacca’s character. R2 and C3P0 didn’t feature too much, which was a little disappointing, but I guess, that’s how you can move on from the originals and the prequels and take your own direction.

I think the hardest thing for me watching the film is that this is a brand-new story & not one created by George Lucas. It’s make-believe. I know this sounds absurd, as all of Star Wars is make-believe (even if I wish it was real!). But when the original came out in 1977, this was a solid stand-alone film. In 1980, what I think was the best Star Wars was released. This all flowed on well from the first film and lead into Return of the Jedi. When George Lucas started making the prequels in the late 90s, the story was set. All the prequel movies did was flesh-out the back story that we knew from the original trilogy. It really wasn’t make-believe; it was just showing us what we already knew. But The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi are new stories. Brand new. There’s no set-up of these in Episode VI. These are new and not created by George Lucas. So, they are going to be different. But what they did to Luke Skywalker, it’s just too different to what I imagined at the end of Return of the Jedi. Luke is a Jedi like his father before him. I don’t think it’s believable that he would turn his back on The Force and the Rebellion/Resistance.

I’ll still be watching the next one, because as I said I didn’t hate the film. But I hope that maybe they end Star Wars at the next film. They don’t have the magic of the originals and aren’t as good as the prequels. I feel now Star Wars is an example of the modern-day studio system. And what this system works on hasn’t changed from the Golden Age. It’s all about money.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

What a masterpiece in writing. I wouldn’t say it would go down as one of my favourite films or one of the best I’ve seen, but certainly the writing was top notch.

The story follows Will Hunting (Matt Damon) through his troubled life. The opening of the film didn’t really grab me, but I suppose it was necessary to show the rough parts of Will’s worlds. Matt Damon gives a stellar performance and it’s easy to see why he is still a household name today.

Robin Williams plays an absolutely beautiful role. I hadn’t yet seen a film where he portrays a more serious character, I remember watching him in Mrs. Doubtfire. His role is superb and his character is so likeable. It’s touched with sadness though, when you think about how William’s life ended in his battle with depression. In this film, he essentially assists Will in overcoming his battles with his tough past.

The characters in the film are interesting and drive the story of the film. Why is it that I think the writing is the strongest asset in this film. It’s the story’s progression and the arc between Robin Williams character’s meeting of his wife that was retold to Will Hunting, to how Will learns to understand this. The film has a beautiful message, all you need is love.

Paul Newman’s Finest Performance

I’ve been wanting to watch The Color of Money (1986) for ages & it didn’t disappoint. It exceeded my expectations – what a great film. It was really enjoyable from the very first scene to the finale. The story, characters, writing & camera work were pitch-perfect. Definitely what you would expect from a Martin Scorsese film.

The stand-out in the film wasn’t Tom Cruise, although his performance was brilliant. It was the legendary Paul Newman, in his only Oscar winning role. I’ve watched quite a few Paul Newman films & he is a truly great actor. But there was just something about this performance that absolutely blew me away. You can really feel his performance through the screen. He really embodied his character, to a point that I you don’t even recognise this as Paul Newman. There’s not a doubt in my mind that he didn’t deserve the Oscar that year.

But what is it that sets this performance apart from so many other great performances? I love him as Butch Cassidy, Hud and as Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But this performance was something different. Maybe because this is by a man who’s seen more of the world & this comes across on screen.

It was great to see Cruise and Newman act together. There was an energy between them that was great to watch. Cruise really is a powerhouse actor. He’s still making massive budget films today and yes, I am pumped for Top Gun 2! He also is true star & you can see his potential for the long-lasting career that he’s had in this film. I can see that in 20 + years time, Cruise will still be making great films, just like Newman did.

I haven’t to be honest watched too many Scorsese films. My favourite so far was The Age of Innocence (1993) for his work as a director. The Colour of Money probably has less of the auteur touch to it. But obviously Scorsese is a legend for bringing out the best in his actors. You can definitely see his mark on the film.

But for me, this film was Paul Newman’s. What a wonderful man he was. I’m sorry that he is no longer with us. But what great films he has left us with. The Colour of Money is one of the best.