Wednesday, 2 January 2019

January 1st - 2019
Eighth Grade

Happy New Year movie lovers! While I hear the films targeted at the kids are terrific (How To Train Your Dragon, Mary Poppins Returns), I'm not looking at them, but at one new comedy full of teen angst, and something not in my usual area - a superhero saga. 

Eighth Grade
Dir: Bo Burnham 
Length: 93 min 
© Sony - adolescence is stunningly portrayed in 
this winning film 
Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) is, in many ways, a typical teen - insecure, obsessed with social media, and finding her way through a painful early adolescence. Her dad Mark (Josh Hamilton) is struggling as a single parent, making the usual parental faux pas, and struggling to keep the lines of communication open with his sometimes loving but mostly surly daughter. Kayla runs a video blog from her room, coaching other early teens on how to get on in life, even though she herself is battling with bullying, lack of confidence, and navigating the minefield that is boys and burgeoning sexuality. You don't have to be a teen to love this funny, charming and compassionate film - it has the power to take you back to all those mortifying memories. Everything about Kayla and the people in her life feels spot-on authentic, and the director never allows movie gloss to interfere with a real portrait of what growing up is like - pimples and all. Not yet 16, young Fisher blitzes the role and is nominated for this years' Golden Globes. 
4 - highly recommended! 

Dir: James Wan
Length: 143 min 
© Warner Bros -  born to be a legendary king -
he's sure got the physique for it
When Queen Atlanta (Nicole Kidman) is washed up on the shore from the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, she is rescued by lighthouse keeper Tom (Temuera Morrison). Their love results in a son, Arthur (Jason Momoa). The Queen is forced to return to the watery depths, while her young son grows up learning the ways of both land dwellers and sea creatures. When the watery realm finally threatens war on the land-lubbers, it is up to the now buffed superhero Arthur has become, to save, and maybe unite, the two worlds. This is an overly long bunch of soggy silliness . . . but I found myself enjoying it for what it is, not the least because the leading man is an absolutely hypnotic and very sexy screen presence. I counted about 8 films of which this one is derivative (among them Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Crouching Tiger . . . the list goes on), and it has way too much of the pow! kazoom! boom! comic book action, full of supersonic weaponry and repetitive battle scenes. But many of the digitally created scenes are quite beautiful to look at, stars like Willem Dafoe add some clout, and Kidman is good in her unusual role. At times the dialogue is cheesily awful and predictable, but for a bit of mindless fun (except for its overt messages about living in peace etc), this one should fit the bill.
3 - recommended!

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