Author Archives: Francesca Baines

Cinema review – Spy

Spy Film Poster

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Miranda Hart, Jason Statham, Allison Janney, Peter Serafinowicz and Bobby Cannavale.

Plot Summary: (Courtesy of IMDB) Susan Cooper is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. But when her partner falls off the grid and another top agent is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global crisis.

I’m quite picky when it comes to action films. For instance, I enjoy watching a Bond flick now and again but I loathe anything with the words “Fast” or “Furious” in the title. This film however appealed to me a lot as it is directed by Paul Feig, who also helmed Bridesmaids (one of my favourite comedies in recent years) and stars the immensely talented Melissa McCarthy. Here she plays Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst and assistant to top field agent (and her unrequited love) Bradley Fine, played by Jude Law in a rare comedic role. After a mission goes tragically awry, she volunteers to track down a ruthless arms dealer who has obtained a nuclear weapon intended for mass destruction.

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Cinema review – Whiplash


Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist and Paul Reiser.

Plot summary: (Courtesy of IMDB) A young and talented drummer attending a prestigious music academy finds himself under the wing of the most respected professor at the school, one who does not hold back on abuse towards his students. The two form an odd relationship as the student tries to achieve greatness, and the professor tries to stop him.

Who knew that a film about jazz drumming could be one of the most thrilling films to come out in years? One year since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival (where it won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize), it has now reached our shores just in time for this year’s award season. I was really looking forward to seeing this and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. Well, all I have to say is sorry Birdman but Whiplash has bumped you off the No.1 spot of my favourite films of 2015 so far (mind you it’s only February so it could change).

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Cinema review – Birdman


Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough and Naomi Watts.

Plot Summary: (Courtesy of IMDB) A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

Everyone and their mother have been raving about this award season darling for months now. I have to say it did take a few views of the trailer before I was sold but I would have eventually watched it anyway as I really like some of the cast. Plus I’m a fan of darkly comical and satirical films so I was very willing to give it a go. I’m glad I did as it’s now my first favourite film of 2015.

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Cinema review – The Skeleton Twins

The Skeleton twins film poster

Cast: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell

Plot Summary: After ten years of estrangement, twins Maggie and Milo coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting them to reunite and confront how their lives went so wrong. As the twins’ reunion reinvigorates them both, they realize that the key to fixing their lives just may lie in fixing their relationship with each other.

Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig were arguably two of the most talented SNL cast members in the show’s history. They elevated every sketch they were in and made them worth watching. So, when I found out that they were teaming up again for this project, I was ecstatic. Now given their comedic backgrounds, you would expect this film to be a goofy tour-de-farce filled with gross-out gags and awkward social situations. Instead, it is actually quite a sombre and, at times, poignant drama enlivened by comical moments scattered throughout. And to be honest, given the film’s tricky subject matters (suicide, depression and sexual grooming to name a few), those moments of light relief are much-needed.

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Cinema review – Fury

Fury film poster

Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal.

Plot summary: April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

If i’m going to be completely honest with you, I had pretty low expectations for this particular film. I don’t really watch many war films and the trailer didn’t exactly thrill me. Still, I thought I would give it a whirl considering I like some of the actors in the cast. To my surprise, it was actually quite entertaining and I even cared about the characters. The story itself is hardly original but it is told with sincerity which elevates it above other WW2 flicks. The action scenes are also executed brilliantly and there were moments that actaully shocked me.

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Cinema Review – Gone Girl

gone girl poster

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Carrie Coon.

Plot Summary: (Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox) On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne reports that his wife, Amy, has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

I’ve heard a lot about this film (an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay) over the past few months. The trailers have been marketing it as a dour mystery thriller, which it most certainly is. But, it is also one of the most entertaining and surprising films I’ve seen in the cinema for quite some time. As a matter of fact, this could be one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

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Cinema Review – Life After Beth

life after beth poster

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon and Anna Kendrick.

Plot Summary: A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her.

One of my favourite film sub-genres is Horror Comedy. I particularly enjoy ones that involve zombies, inventive kills and ridiculous amounts of gore so I was quite eager to watch this latest effort from director Jeff Baena. Other “Zom-Coms” like Shaun of the Dead and Dead Alive (AKA Braindead) have already set the bar very high but I still thought that this could be a worthy addition to the genre. Unfortunately, it doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of either one of them. That’s not to say this film is terrible as it does have a few things going for it.

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Cinema review – What If


Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis and Rafe Spall.

Plot summary: (Courtesy of IMDB) Wallace, who is burned out from a string of failed relationships, forms an instant bond with Chantry, who lives with her longtime boyfriend. Together, they puzzle out what it means if your best friend is also the love of your life.

When it comes to romantic comedies, I prefer quirky indie ones rather than those typically “Hollywood” chick-flicks that usually star Kate Hudson or Sarah Jessica Parker alongside a pre-Killer Joe Matthew McConaughey. What If definitely fits into the first category quite comfortably. This particular indie rom-com appealed to me mainly because of the cast. Harry Potter was my big obsession during adolescence, especially the films (except for the sixth film which I thought was a total shambles). Although I’ve since out-grown Potter, I still like to keep up with what the main cast are currently working on.

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Cinema review – The Inbetweeners 2

the inbetweeners 2 poster

Cast: Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley and Blake Harrison.

Plot summary: (Courtesy of IMDB) Neil, Will and Simon receive an invite from Jay to join him in Australia whilst on his gap year, who promises them it’s ”the sex capital of the world”. With their lives now rather dull compared to their hedonistic school days and legendary lads holiday, it’s an offer they can’t refuse. Once again, they put growing up temporarily on-hold, and embark on a backpacking holiday of a lifetime in an awful car, inspired by Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’. Will soon finds himself battling with the lads to do something cultural, whilst they focus their attention on drinking, girls, and annoying fellow travelers.

6 years ago, a new sitcom aired on E4 about 4 misfit sixth-formers struggling through the awkwardness of late adolescence. It proved to be a big hit with audiences who lapped up its blend of potty mouthiness, excruciating social situations and gross-out humour. In 2011, it successfully made the transition to the big screen where it had the biggest ever opening weekend for a comedy film in the UK, beating other comedies such as The Hangover Part 2.

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Cinema review – Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the galaxy film poster

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

Plot summary: (Courtesy of An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

I’m not very familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series apart from the fact that it is from Marvel. I’ve enjoyed other Marvel comic adaptations in the past like the Spiderman and X-men films so I was quite optimistic about this one. And, I have to say that after watching it (in 3D might I add), it is now my favourite. It has everything you could possibly want from a Marvel superhero film; exciting action sequences, likeable characters, plenty of humour and an obligatory cameo from Stan Lee.

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