Film Friday #211

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

This comedy caper follows iconic band, The Beatles, through a fictional account of a typical day in their lives at the height of Beatlemania.  To be honest with you there’s not much story line going on here. Basically the band are supposed to appear on a television show but their minders Norm (Norman Rossington) and Shake (John Junkin) have a hard time getting them to behave and stay put when all John, Paul, George and Ringo (playing themselves) want to do is flirt with girls, go to parties and have fun. If that wasn’t enough, Paul has his grandfather (Wilfrid Brambell), a seasoned shit stirrer, trouble maker and general cad in tow causing trouble at every step of the way. The story isn’t really important though since this is really just a vehicle to get to know the band members a bit more and watch them exchange witty banter with each other. In many scenarios it would have been a pretty lame presence but all four members of The Beatles are so charismatic that it’s a hoot a minute. Brambell is perfection as the deliciously awful granddad, who steals almost all of his scenes including the final performance where his arrival on stage is laugh out loud funny. A Hard Day’s Night was a real family favourite in my house growing up and I am happy to say it’s still brilliant fifty years after it was made… as long as you don’t think too hard about John and Paul chatting up schoolgirls on the train… 4/5

He was a very clean man

It wasn’t easy but grandfather was proud to say he was a very clean man

How I Live Now (2013)

When disaffected American teen Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is sent to a remote British farm to stay with her cousins Eddie (George Mackay), Isaac (Tom Holland) and Piper (Harley Bird)  she is less than thrilled, feeling cut off from the world and uncomfortable in their wild messy surroundings. This only gets worse when Daisy’s aunt (Anna Chancellor), a high ranking British government official has to leave the children to go to Switzerland to deal with a burgeoning international crisis. At first Daisy feels unsettled but her undeniable attraction to  Eddie draws her out of her shell and she starts to join in her cousin’s adventures. Their peace is soon shattered by a nuclear blast and announcements of evacuations, which sends the group into hiding and a simple happy life which frees Daisy from her own endless internal criticisms. When soldiers uncover their hiding place, separate the boys from the girls and send them to work camps, Daisy knows just one thing – she and Piper must escape and make their way back to the farm to Isaac and Eddie no matter what the cost. There is no question that How I Live Now has some faults – it moves too fast, Daisy’s transformation from self-absorbed bitch to engaged and kind is a bit abrupt and you know… incest. However, the chemistry between Ronan and Mackay is electric, the nuclear war story is realistic and brutal and Daisy and Piper’s escape is filled with real tension. I liked the fact that the details of the war were sketchy since it mirrored how a teenager dealing with their own inner struggles would perceive world events. I haven’t read the book this is based on so I can’t comment on how faithful an interpretation it is but overall this is an underrated and thrilling young adult film, which deserves a watch. 3.5/5

Daisy and Eddie had just remembered that they were related

Daisy and Eddie had just remembered that they were related

Arthur Christmas (2011)

For centuries the Christmas family has been ensuring that gifts are delivered to every child around the world by morning with each Santa, succeeded by the next in line. In 2011 this delivery operation has become a finely tuned technologically advanced machine with Santa (voiced by Jim Broadbent) operating a sleigh that more closely resembles a spaceship than Grandsanta’s (voiced by Bill Nighy) sleigh of old. The operation is run with military precision by Santa’s oldest son and clear successor, Steve (voiced by Hugh Laurie) while his other son, Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) has been banished to the letter answering department because of his endless clumsiness. When a single child is missed out in the Christmas delivery run Steve encourages Santa to chalk it down to an acceptable loss but Arthur can’t accept that little Gemma’s Christmas might be ruined and convinces Grandsanta to get out the old sleigh and join him on a daring last minute adventure. Arthur Christmas has a few amusing moments but it’s mostly pretty blah and probably best aimed at under tens. 2/5

XXX

Arthur and the elves had just found out there would be strippers at the Christmas party

The Pretty One (2014)

Twins, Laurel and Audrey (both played by Zoe Kazan) couldn’t be more different. Laurel still lives in the small town they grew up in, takes care of their dad (John Carroll Lynch) and is generally a bit of a withdrawn oddball, while Audrey works as a real estate agent in a big city and lives a glamorous jetset life. When Audrey comes back home to celebrate the twins’ birthday she convinces Laurel to move in with her but before this can happen they are involved in a terrible car accident where Audrey is killed and Laurel experiences some temporary amnesia. When the doctors and family mistake Laurel for Audrey her confusion leads her to briefly believe she is Audrey, a role she decides to keep playing even when she remembers who she is. Laurel then travels back to the city to take up Audrey’s life, falling for her neighbour and tenant, Basel (Jake Johnson). But Audrey’s life is a lot more complicated than Laurel ever imagined and losing her other half far more devastating than she expected, plus how will she ever know if Basel loves her for her or just because he thinks she is Audrey? The Pretty One is a kooky little film with a somewhat bonkers premise that could have gone horribly wrong but Kazan is so charming as Laurel that it’s hard not to get sucked in by her search for her own identity. The connection between Laurel and Basel is lovely to watch and seeing how Laurel learns to understand herself and her relationships by becoming someone else is very interesting. Probably not for everyone but I loved it. 4/5

Laurel had just found out there would be strippers at the Christmas party

14 Comments

  1. It’s the Beatles. Nothing else to be said. Solid gold!

    1. Abbi

      I am hoping Help is going to come on Netflix soon because I loved that as a kid too.

  2. I also watched The Pretty One recently and thought it was quite good too. I like Zoe Kazan, and even matey from New Girl didn’t irritate me!

    1. Abbi

      She’s great. He doesn’t actually bother me but then I’ve only seen two or three episodes of New Girl.

  3. Didn’t know Brambell starred with the Beatles. I only remember him from Steptoe.

    1. Abbi

      I didn’t grow up in the UK so I had never heard of Steptoe and Son until I watched this with my husband (who is british) and showed it to me on YouTube!

  4. “and you know… incest. ” LOL. Great reviews! Hadn’t ever heard of The Pretty One but I’m intrigued now. And I really liked Arthur Christmas. Thought it was cute and clever and loved the voice work.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks. I think you’d really enjoy The Pretty One. Zoe Kazan is my new favourite.

      1. Very talented and beautiful!

  5. I just saw Zoe Kazan in something recently and I really like her! I will have to find that movie. Great reviews as always!

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! She is definitely a new favourite.

  6. I keep meaning to watch How I Live Now on Netflix. I’ll move it up the queue based on your review. 🙂 I don’t know how I can be such a Beatles fan yet I’ve still never seen A Hard Day’s Night…

    1. Abbi

      I was really surprised by how much I liked How I Live Now. I think you would love A Hard Day’s Night. It’s so funny,

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