Selma follows the life of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jnr (David Oyelowo) in the lead up to a groundbreaking march for equal access to the ability to vote for African-Americans. As someone with a limited knowledge of US history, I didn’t know much about King apart from the fact that he was influential, he made a famous speech and he was tragically shot, so this film was a powerful introduction into just how much impact he had and I have to admit I was blown away. My connection with this true story might in some way be related to the fact that I grew up in a place with a history of racial segregation and oppression but whatever it was, I was deeply touched. A lot of this has to come down to the performances, particularly from Oyelowo who was absolutely shafted when it comes to an Oscar nomination because I could not take my eyes off him. He is ably supported by Carmen Ejogo, playing his stoic wife, Coretta – always consigned to playing second best to the movement, as well as, Tom Wilkinson playing President Lyndon B. Johnson and Tim Roth playing the Governor of Alabama. I liked that the film didn’t portray King as a saint, refusing to shy away from his infidelities, insecurities and willingness to do whatever it took – even if that sometimes meant the loss of innocent lives. A lot has been said about the idea that Johnson is portrayed as a villain but as an outsider to the actual history to me he just came across as someone with a lot on his plate trying to balance everything. I am very glad that I managed to see Selma in advance of the Oscars as it’s definitely one of my favourites for 2015. 5/5
Do you know who I am? I’m fucking Oprah! Put me down!
When Nina (Anna Kendrick), a fellow member of Claire Bennett’s (Jennifer Aniston) chronic pain support group commits suicide, Claire finds herself obsessing about Nina’s life. To some extent Claire is jealous of Nina because she’s escaped yet she cannot bring herself to to do the same. As the bitter, disconnected, pill-popping Claire sleepwalks through her life she forms rather odd friendship with Nina’s husband, Roy (Sam Worthington) as well as dragging her long-suffering housekeeper/carer, Silvana (Adriana Barraza) on a series of random adventures. There are some issues with Cake. It’s slow-moving, Worthington is as wooden as ever and some of the direction around the effect of Claire’s pain medication on her vision and perception is a little bit obvious. On the other hand, Aniston’s performance is impressive. She makes you believe that every movement she is making is agonising and as more and more of the circumstances of her accident are revealed she moves from being very difficult to like to a deeply sympathetic character. Overall I found Cake to be a touching study of grief, blame, loss and ultimately hope. 3.5/5
What do you mean i don’t look like a twenty-five year old stripper anymore?
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Minutes after being released from prison, master thief, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) decides to bring together a team to take on the biggest heist of his career – knocking over three Las Vegas casinos in one night. The crew includes, Basher (Don Cheadle) – a British demolitions expert, a pair of Mormon brothers (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan) – who never stop arguing, a Chinese acrobat (Shaobo Qin), the legendary Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner), pickpocket, Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) and Danny’s right hand man, the permanently hungry Rusty (Brad Pitt). It won’t be easy though. The three casinos are owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), known not only for having an unbeatable security system but also for exacting brutal retribution on anyone who crosses him. But is the job really about the big score or is it about the fact that Terry is dating Danny’s ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts)? The reason this excellent crime caper is so enjoyable is threefold. Firstly it’s packed with outstanding performances and an electric chemistry within its ensemble cas . Secondly its dialogue is sharp, witty and clever. And finally it balances exposition and suspense perfectly. The audience is only ever half in on what is happening so every twist in the story hooks you even further… plus we all secretly love the idea of a bunch of clever guys getting one over on a a dodgy fat cat. The only real downside is Cheadle’s horrific British accent. It’s so bad he could have had a lead role in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. I mean I love Cheadle but why they didn’t just hire Idris Elba is anyone’s guess. I haven’t seen the original but this remake is definitely worthy of its classic status. 4/5
Let’s hurry this up! Downtown Abbey is about to start.
Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
Chris Parker’s (Elisabeth Shue) boyfriend stands her up so she decides to take a babysitting job looking after Thor-obsessed, Sara (Maia Brewton). Sara’s brother, Brad (Keith Coogan) is supposed to be staying over at his friend, Daryl’s (Anthony Rapp) house but once the two realise the sexy, Chris is going to be there for the evening they decide to stay in. Chris settles herself in for a quiet night but it’s not long before her friend, Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller) calls her to say that she’s run away from home, regretted it and is now stuck at the bus station in the city needing a ride. Against her better judgement, Chris bundles the kids into the car and heads into central Chicago. Throughout the night the gang will face crazed mechanics, a chop shop, a subway gang, frat boys and the blues… but will they make it back before their parents do? Adventures in Babysitting is so very 80’s it hurt, which is awesome – especially if you grew up in the 80’s like I did. And I loved the fact that Sara wanted to be Thor rather than some kind of princess. On the downside there are some things that have not dated as well. There are a lot of homophobic jokes in this movie that made me cringe and the way that Chris eventually gets the money to get her mother’s car back seemed a bit dodgy.. as did the weird subplot that she was the doppleganger of a Playboy centrefold but if you can get past that and enjoy it as a “period” piece, you’ll probably have just much fun as I did. 3/5
What do you mean these clothes won’t be back in style until 2006?