A mind-bending Spanish psychological thriller with Penelope Cruz, which later was remade as Vanilla Sky, an ill-received American version with Tom Cruise and, bizarrely, Penelope Cruz again. I’ve watched this in a rather groggy state of mind after a poor night’s sleep, and the movie’s twists and turns definitely perked up my brain by the end of it all.
In my mind, the original Blade Runner was a cinematic lightning-in-a-bottle that emphatically did not call for a sequel, so when Blade Runner 2049 was announced I felt rather sceptical about the idea. I can’t say I’ve been entirely converted, but I can definitely say that Denis Villeneuve’s film is worth watching on the big screen for the spellbinding visuals alone, and if Roger Deakins doesn’t win the Best Cinematography Oscar for his work here they can just disband the whole Academy Award thing.
An excellent addition to the coming-of-age highschool movies, with a spiky star turn by Hailee Steinfeld which proves that her memorable performance in True Grit was no fluke. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s funny, bittersweet and biting enough to make it stand out. If you found highschool and teenage years in general a trying experience at times, the movie will resonate with you in some moments and probably make you cringe with self-recognition in others.
I very much enjoyed this warm, hilarious, affectionate film about the worst opera singer of all time, an eccentric 1940s New York socialite whose amazingly godawful singing emerged on the other side of terrible to become its own kind of remarkable. At one point, Jenkins’ vocal coach stares into her eyes and tells her in a honeyed voice that there’s no one else like her, and in a weird way it felt like he actually meant it, though probably not in the way the lady herself thought.
Another gem brought to my attention by the History Buffs YouTube channel. Directed by Peter Weir and adapted from nautical historical novels by Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander unfortunately didn’t make enough money to become a series, which is a shame. Maybe the long unwieldy name put people off; as far as terrible film titles go it’s no Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War, but unless you’re a fan of the books it doesn’t really sound like an exciting proposition, which is probably why I skipped the theatrical release myself.
Loosely based on a novel by Virginia Wolf, Orlando chronicles 400 years through the eyes of its gender-bending hero/heroine, played by Tilda Swinton. Born in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Orlando is a young nobleman who becomes the favourite of the aging monarch, and is commanded to never wither and grow old. The film then moves through the four centuries as Orlando falls in love with a Russian princess, tries different careers including a stint as an ambassador to the Middle East, dabbles in poetry… and changes sex midway, awakening one morning to find herself a woman (Orlando’s calm reaction while observing her new body: Same person. No difference at all… just a different sex.)
I watched this film once 20 years ago, after it swept the 1997 Academy Awards and famously became the object of hatred for Elaine from Seinfeld:
I didn’t share Elaine’s visceral loathing for the movie, but I remember feeling rather underwhelmed and wondering why on earth this film was praised so much. Then recently I found a DVD of The English Patient in Mum’s collection (she’s one of the many people who loved the movie), and thought I’d give it a second chance.