Man Up Movie Review

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Out in limited release, Man Up is a romantic comedy starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg. It centres on a 34 year old cynic who is constantly being told, by both herself and her sister, to put herself out there and so, when she is mistook for a man’s blind date, goes along with it.

In recent years, romantic comedies have become a more and more dismissed area of film; their potential for charm and humour has been forgotten due to the glut of terrible rom coms which rely on stereotypes, cheesy lines and bad humour. Man Up is a refreshing departure from this, it is carried by the charisma of it’s leading character, Nancy, who surpasses the trope of sarcastic and cynical woman into an extremely comical and likeable character who exists in the real world. Her romantic interest, however, doesn’t just play second fiddle, but is just as entertaining to watch.

There was amazing chemistry between the two which really made the film effective, and in particular scenes, such as when they were fighting, this was especially apparent, and demonstrated why the film worked so well. The characters were made to complement each other, and this makes them a couple which are really enjoyable to watch, and which seem like they could work.

It was very very funny, using the personalities of all the characters, sexual gags, physical comedy, and very relatable moments of everyday humour – such as Nancy’s attempts to get spinach out of her teeth – to create a film which was solidly and consistently amusing throughout.

Man Up was a rare romantic comedy, in that it was excessively charming and humorous, whilst still offering the optimism and happy ending that most romantic comedy lovers look for. I highly reccomend.

The Best of 2014

art, Film, music, Theatre

As 2014 comes to an end, I’ve decided to look over what were, in my opinion, the best movies, albums, songs, theatre productions and art exhibitions of 2014.

Best Movie: PaddingtonAlthough I haven’t been able to see many of the films I wanted to this year, I was disappointed with much of what I did see. Paddington, which I saw very recently, was a delight, and was absolutely hilarious. Whilst I did watch critically acclaimed films, such as Gone Girl, none was as memorable as this touching and heart warming movie.

Best Album: The Lonely Hour, Sam Smith

After releasing a few singles, such as “Money On My Mind” and featuring on Disclosure’s “Latch”, Sam Smith released this album, which lead to the singles “Stay With Me” and “I’m Not the Only One” being blasted out of radio stations for most of summer and autumn. With his beautiful voice and the heartfelt lyrics, it’s not hard to see why.

Best Songs: “I’m Not the Only One”, Sam Smith

As well as being my favourite album of the year, I loved Sam Smith’s song “I’m Not the Only One” enough for it to be one of my top two songs of the year.

Blank Space, Taylor Swift

In a departure from her country roots, Taylor Swift’s album was firmly pop, and whilst  I was originally sceptical, “Blank Space” was an undeniable delight. Turning even those most opposed to her music into fans, and working as a biting response to the media’s portrayal of her, it was a catchy masterpiece. Read my full review of her album here: https://nellymair.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/taylor-swift-1989-album-review/

Best Theatre Show: Made in Dagenham

I’ve been lucky enough to go the theatre quite a lot this year, and despite seeing revered musicals such as “Les Miserables”, “Miss Saigon” and “Once”, my favourite was the upbeat “Made in Dagenham.” Funny, yet uplifting, and with catchy and humorous songs, it was a thoroughly entertaining night out. Read my full review here: https://nellymair.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/made-in-dagenham/

Best Art Show: Battersea Affordable Art Fair

I generally prefer group shows to those with single artists, and whilst The Royal Academy Academy Summer Exhibition lacked many stand out works this year (apart from that by Yinka Shonibare) and the Frieze Art Fair was slightly too wacky for me, the Battersea Affordable Art Fair got the balance just right. With a combination of intriguing modern art and more classic work, I found it a fascinating show.

Maleficent; A Review

Fairy Tales, Film

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Maleficent was a film I anticipated greatly; I love fairy tales, and this was an intriguing premise. However, it played like one huge eyeroll, suited much better to a response of snarky comments than to awe or enjoyment.

The plot  claimed to be Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of it’s great villain, Maleficent, and it was not. The film changed the whole plot of Sleeping Beauty in order to make Maleficent a good guy, and that was possibly it’s greatest failing; it was much too safe. The beginning was good, showing the back story and the motivation behind Maleficent’s actions and her bitterness. But as the film progressed, it felt like it was working incredibly hard to redeem her when surely the point was that she WAS a villain and HAD done bad stuff and to show it from her perspective rather than just change her character all together. It was incredibly disappointing, as it all felt like build up to an unsatisfying anti-climax. Sleeping Beauty’s sleep – which is supposed to last 100 years – is over in about five minutes. The ending was also greatly changed in a multitude of ways (LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS) as true loves kiss turned out to be a maternal kiss from Maleficent, and Maleficent never died and lived happily ever after in her moors now that humans and fairies are united – YAWN. I have never eye rolled more than Maleficent’s “true love kiss” to aurora, which not only seemed unlikely due to the rest of the film, but was an obvious copy from Frozen, a film which did it much more successfully. The happy ending was not only a change from the actual plot, but was incredibly lame, like the majority of this film actually. Furthermore, there are two ways that  fairy tales can work; by amping up the comedy and romance a la Mirror Mirror, or by making it an action paced adaptation a la Snow White and the Huntsman, and whilst Maleficent seemed to want to be both, it failed in being either.

Onto the characterisation;

Maleficent – This film is obviously about a further delving into Maleficent character – but I didn’t feel like we got that at all. All we got was an interesting character with moral complexities turned into a “good guy” through love for Aurora *pukes into bucket*. It did nothing to challenge the black and white characterisation of the earlier film – as other people were transformed into the villains in order to take Maleficent place – and this irritated me, as if you promise an anti-hero, then that’s what I want. Angelina Jolie’s English accent was also slightly odd, but I will say that there were some great parts of the film, when she’s making snarky comments along the lines of “Beastie. I hate you.” – Hatred is always so much more amusing than love when it comes to cinema.

Aurora – Oh god. This film suffers from the fact that it is adapted from the Disney film Sleeping Beauty, a movie created before they realised that character should have, you know, personalities, and whilst the film thought it fine to deviate from the original movie in many aspects, it did not change Aurora’s bland, irritating personality. This was only added to by the dreadful Elle Fanning, who can not act and even more than that, can not handle a British accent in the slightest (the insistence of films, which are actually set in France (where Sleeping Beauty is set) to have the actors, who are almost always American, to put on a British accent irritates me to no end.) Aurora’s character was so insufferable that I thought it incredibly unlikely that Maleficent’s time spent with her would prompt her to save her from her fate rather than attempt to bring it forward – less screen time for Aurora would not have been so bad.

Stefan – all I can say is WHAT A DICK. Also, once again, his Scottish accent was terrible.

This film is hugely disappointing, and honestly whilst it was mildly enjoyable and maybe worth catching on tv when it comes on, I would not recommend spending your money on it. I’d give it a 5.5 out of 10.

(Also, why do film companies keep spending huge amounts of money making films like this, when what is obviously needed is the film version  of Wicked – now that is how a fairy tale from the perspective of a villain should be done.)

Divergent Film Review

Film

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Another month, another widely popular teen franchise hits the cinemas. This time it’s Divergent, which came out on Friday. I thought I’d share my thoughts on the film, keeping in mind that I haven’t read the books (although after watching the film, I would like to, and I regret not having done so, as one of my keen mottos is to ALWAYS READ THE BOOK FIRST.)

Divergent is set in a world where, in order to ensure peace and that everyone can be controlled, people are sorted into factions. The factions go as folows; Amity, who are basically happy farmers; Erudite, the intelligent; Candor, who always speak the truth; Abnegation, the selfless, who are in control of the Government and help the poor and factionless; and Dauntless, the brave, who act as policemen. Tris Prior, the protagonist, on her test, which is supposed to show which faction she belongs in, comes out as divergent, meaning she could go into a mixture of the factions, and is at risk, as Divergents’ are constantly hunted, due to a fear that they cannot be controlled and will upset the peace. She hides her divergent status and chooses to become Dauntless, despite her family being in Abnegation. She has to go through various trials, which convinced me, that if I was in this dystopian world, and for some Godforsaken reason chose to be in dauntless, I most definitely would not survive. (This is not one of the books where I wanted to trade places with the protagonist.) From then on, obviously, she doesn’t entirely manage to hide her identity, the Erudite people get power-crazy, and naturally, there’s a gorgeous love interest in the form of Four (Theo James), one of her leaders in Dauntless.

As far as dystopian YA goes, this is a pretty good one, although the plot, in itself, is flawed, as it seems very unlikely that anyone, let alone the majority, would be able to fit in just one of those very limited categories. Other than that, the film is gripping and shocking at times, and enjoyable. Kate Winslet steals every scene she’s in, which is not surprising, seeing as she is, after all, Kate Winslet (although my friend who has read the book said her character’s role was increased dramatically.) Theo James’ acting skills could be better, but his  attractiveness more than make up for that. The romance is not entirely convincing, due to a lack of chemistry between the actors, and the relationship seems very rushed, as the viewers don’t get to see their feelings for each other grow, making it seem very improbable when they do get together. I am also never a fan of the teacher-student relationship concept, and this is only a mild alteration of that theme, and that strangeness is only added to by the obvious age difference between the two characters.

Overall it is a fun, interesting film, and whilst it may not be the most memorable, I would recommend seeing it, even if only for Theo James’ good looks.