So after 6 weeks I have successfully managed to watch four whole films, so Film Friday is back! I can’t day how regularly… I highly doubt it will be weekly but right now… TA DA!
On his 21st birthday African prince, Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is due to meet his future bride and live happily ever after in the luxury lifestyle he has grown accustomed to. But Akeen dreams of more. He wants to explore the world, America in particular, and see how the other half lives. So with the blessing of his father (James Earl Jones) ostensibly to sow his wild oats, Akeem heads off to New York with his manservant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall).
The two of them know nothing about New York and end up living in the less than savory neighbourhood of Queens pretending to be students, working in a fast food restaurant. Here Akeem meets and falls in love with Lisa (Shari Headley), the daughter of his boss, but can he win her over without using his massive wealth and status? I can’t imagine anyone but Eddie Murphy, playing the guileless Akeem and he and Hall bounce perfectly off each other especially when they’re playing numerous side characters in various disguises, the best being the old men in the barbershop. For the most part this is a classic comedy riot that I can highly recommend. It is a little dated though and it falls down towards the end by going on a little too long and hammering some of the jokes too hard. 3.5/5
Some time after their divorce, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend, Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) attend a dinner party at Will’s ex-wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and new husband, David’s home (Michiel Huisman). Also in attendance are mutual friends Will knew before their divorce, new friends Eden and David have made in the two years since Will saw her last and an odd house guest they met at a retreat in Mexico. From the word go the atmosphere is strained and becomes more so as Eden and David share a strange video and it becomes clear that there is a terrible tragedy in Will and Eden’s past. It only gets stranger as the group play some odd honesty games and Will is propositioned by Eden’s house guest. Throughout the evening Will believes something sinister might be going on but the question is whether he’s just unravelling under the pressure of being faced with the past or if the fact that all the doors are locked is more than just a question of safety. I think The Invitation nails it on atmosphere and Marshall-Green and Blanchard both give highly emotive performances. I do think that in some places it tries too hard and that the script is often lacking but the ending nails it. A decent thriller. 3/5
The Diary of a Teenage Girl follows Minnie (Bel Powley) in her fifteenth year as she starts recording her experiences on a cassette type diary. In this year of discovery Minnie explores her sexuality, tests her boundaries and tries to figure out what this means for her as an artist and a woman. This film courted a lot of controversy because the majority of Minnie’s sexual exploration occurs with her mother’s (Kirsten Wiig) much older boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). I have very mixed feelings about this and I still find it hard to order my thoughts, which shows how successful this film is at precisely what it is setting out to do. While Minnie is underage, she is not innocent and in many ways it is her who is using Monroe… but then can there ever be a reason for a man in his thirties to sleep with a teenage girl. Is the age of consent a personal thing or a hard number, which is how society and the law often treats it. This is also a warts and all exploration of burgeoning womanhood, which means large parts of it are very, very… icky and might be a lot to take in if you are of delicate sensibilities or prefer your movie heroines not to fart or have body hair. Whether you can appreciate Minnie’s journey or not there is no question that Bel Powley gives a powerful and arresting performance playing a complex and challenging character and Skarsgård gets the opportunity to flex his dramatic muscles. 3.5/5
Indonesian S.W.A.T. team member, Rama (Iko Uwais) finds himself in a life or death situation when his team is ordered to enter a tower block and take out the crime lord that controls it. With every floor posing a new threat and enough corruption in and outside the ranks it’s hard to know just who he is up against. And if that wasn’t enough Rama has a secret that could see his loyalties divided and his chances of making it back to his pregnant wife ever slimmer. When it comes to action movies The Raid definitely delivers. It moves at an absolutely cracking pace and the fight scenes are very technically impressive. It even has a thin layer of basic character development that at least means you care about what happens to Rama. What makes this whole production even more interesting is that while it is set in Indonesia and all the dialogue is in Indonesian it was written and directed by Welshman, Gareth Evans in a collaboration with Uwais, who choreographed the fights. Worthy of its cult classic status. 3.5/5