Tag Archives: Drama

Movies and Tea #32 – Life of Pi

As we bring out Ang Lee season to a close with Life of Pi his Oscar winning film based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name. Here Pi Patel recounts the story of his life and most importantly how he survived being standed in a lifeboat with a tiger called Richard Parker.

We also reveal our favourite, worst and hidden gems from the season.

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Friday Film Club: The Edge of Seventeen (2016) & Art School Confidential (2006)

Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Elwood will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether you’re choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

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Having previously only written a feature romantic comedy Post Grad and a short film Streak, Kelly Fremon Craig wrote The Edge of Seventeen and took the reins as director as well. As a directorial debut, The Edge of Seventeen is a massive success. A lot of it goes into the charming tale of a teenage girl navigating her life to find purpose and comfort in her own skin as she navigates love interest, best friends and family. 

The Edge of Seventeen is about a teenage girl Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) who lives in self-hatred, strengthened by her envy towards her perfect brother Darren (Blake Jenner). Her life is one with a best friend who during a party ends up having a fallout due to her brother and best friend starting to date. Amidst finding a new friend in classmate Erwin (Hayden Szeto) who tries to win her affection, seeking support in school from teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) and making some bad decisions, she starts embracing the issues that have been weighing her while realizing that the people around her that she cares about also have their own problems and not as perfect as she makes out. 

Nadine’s navigation through this chapter in her life is an entertaining, snarky and yet bittersweet experience full of coming-of-age lessons. Her story is touched with a little romantic tangent and friendship but it never forgets that this movie is about her and her self-growth and its even better portrayed by an outstanding performance by Hailee Steinfeld. Paired with well-written characters like Erwin and Mr. Bruner portrayed incredibly well by Hayden Szeto and Woody Harrelson respectively, they both add so much to leading Nadine to finding herself and sometimes, also emphasizing that sometimes a little bad in life actually brings out a newfound positivity and enlightenment. 

Afterall, isn’t that what coming-of-age films are all about? For fans of teen coming-of-age films, this one is highly recommended.

Elwood’s Pick – Art School Confidential (2006)

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Based on the four page comic by Ghost World creator Daniel Clowes it’s almost fitting that the film is directed by Terry Zwigoff as in many ways it feels like a spiritual sequel to his adaptation of the aforementioned Ghost World as the film follows art student Jerome (Max Minghella) who hopes to realise his dreams of being a famous artist by enrolling at Strathmore College only find the art world politics run a lot deeper than actual talent. 

While the film might lack the a pair of leads as engaging as Enid and Rebecca in Ghost World as here Zwigoff chooses to paint with a larger canvas of eccentric and colourful characters such as Jerome’s foul mouthed filmmaker roommate Vince (Ethan Suplee) or his unlikely mentor and drunk Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) who might hide a much darker secret behind his art. 

While the film might not have been warmly received on it’s release with Zwigoff stating that

[Art School Confidential] was really negatively received both at the box office and critically. Everybody hated that film. I didn’t think it was so bad. At least compared to all that other shit out there, anyway. It was certainly just as good as any film in the marketplace. And I’m not saying it’s a great film. I’m just saying it’s better than most of the dreck.

However while the critics might not have got the film on it’s release its one worth discovering especially for fans of Ghost World as it maintains the feel of the world if not perhaps the snark.


So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club: The Willoughbys (2020) & Hustlers (2019)

Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both we will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether you’re choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – The Willoughbys (2020)

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Based on the book with the same name by Lois Lowry, The Willoughbys tells the story of the Willoughby kids of the current generation who have since gone astray from the previous generations as their parents have too much love for each other to have any left for their four kids. Neglected since birth, the eldest son Tim looks up to the ancestors hung all over the wall and dreams about continuing The Willoughby’s name while taking care of his younger siblings: her sister Jane who has a love for singing but is constantly silenced by their parents and his youngest, twin brothers who are both creepy and inventive and both named Barnaby. They hatch a plan to get rid of their parents by sending them onto a dangerous vacation around the world. Much to their surprise, their parents hire a nanny to take care of them. Believing that the nanny is aligned with their parents, Tim ends up reporting her to Orphan Services which turns out to be much more sinister than he imagines and leads to some bad consequences.

The Willoughbys is a colorful and quirky little tale. Narrated by a stray cat throughout the entire film voiced by Ricky Gervais, it has a lot of great humor and dialogue that connects each of the situations together. Its a tale about family and with it, there are a lot of fun moments when the kids venture off on their own and packed with a lot of naivety as they experience the world for the first time and meet some fun characters, especially Commander Melanoff, something of a Willy Wonka sort of character voiced by Terry Crews. With the Nanny voiced by the comedic and underrated Maya Rudolph and Jane voiced suitably by Alessia Cara and the parents voiced by Martin Short and Jane Krakowski, there’s a lot of great voice talent here that contributes a lot to the enjoyment of the film.  As much as it has some touching and heartwarming elements, the story is mostly a fun and comedic little animated film. It has a lot of references to other stories and movies and its all integrated really well thanks to a clever script.

The Willoughbys is a straight forward sort of animated film. Its well-executed and the script is adapted and written well. It has a lot of clever moments. The voice acting is enthusiastic and fun. The most eye-catching moment is the character designs and the color choices throughout that really give the whole film a fun experience overall. Who doesn’t like to have a little fun and have some laughs, right?

Elwood’s Pick – Hustlers (2019)

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Another movie based off a magazine article (see also Pain and Gain / The Bling Ring) this black comedy crime drama based on the article “The Hustlers at Scores” about a crew of former strippers who drugged their clients while cleaning out their bank accounts under the guise of it all being one wild night out. 

Here continuing her transition from sitcom star to movie starlet Constance Wu here sporting a serious fringe plays stripper Destiny who having transferred from Las Vegas to New York with the allure of the big bucks only to find herself quickly out of her element. However taken under the wing of the fellow stripper Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) the pair are soon cleaning up with the wall street brokers who come to the club. However with the financial crisis of 2007 a new hustle is required.

Smoothly transitioning from the stripper fantasy the film was sold as to a true crime thriller with a dash of dark humour to flavour the film is thankfully a lot deeper than you would expect as we are taken from the girls making a killing as they work their charms to “Run out the clock, not the cock” with Ramona leading the charge as her exquisitely choreographed performance causes the punters to shower her with cash, while a surprise cameo by Usher playing himself marks the end of the golden era as the bubble finally bursts. It’s here that the new hustle instigated by Ramona doping guys drinks with Ketamine and MDMA while her friends clean out their bank accounts becomes the focus for the film and more importantly how long they can keep it running before they get caught.

Both Lopez and Wu make for engaging leads especially as their performance play well off each other with Destiny being taught the tricks of the pole making for strangely engrossing viewing without pushing the obvious titillation compared to their male counterparts in Magic Mike. Director Lorene Scafaria though is not out to judge the profession or those who choose it but instead focusing on the sisterhood between the girls even as the cracks in their plan start leading to their inevitable downfall it’s an engaging ride throughout. 


So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Movies and Tea #31 – Lust, Caution


Our Ang Lee season arrives at Lust, Caution, an erotic thriller set in Hong Kong in 1938 and in Shanghai in 1942 which sees student Wong Chia Chi being drawn into an assassination plot to kill special agent for the Japanese goverment Mr. Yee only to soon find herself falling for him as she is forced to decide between lust and duty.

Despite the critical acclaim recived for the film it still saw leading Tang Wei blacklisted unlike her male counterpart Tony Leung which we also question as we also look at the controversy the film caused upon its release in China

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Friday Film Club: Easy A + Bad Lieutenant

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Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether you’re choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Easy A (2010)

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Scroll back 10 years ago in 2010, Easy A was one of the first movies to really give the teen movies a big boost both in character and nostalgia. It paid homage to John Hughes films while also creating its own voice on teenage coming of age experience in the high school environment. Easy A tells the story of Olive, a girl who is a normal high school student that didn’t stick out in a crowd but through her own misuse of words to the wrong person ends up propelling rumors that she ends up riding along with and raising her own popularity to a point that gets a little out of hand.

There’s so much to love about Easy A. While it does wittingly put in a lot of teenage romance comparisons to John Hughes films or even 80s teenage films in general, the movie itself is somewhat a refreshed parallel of those memorable movies as well with a look at the 2010s landscape with technology being able to propel the rumor mill at a faster speed. While at the same time, a lot of the film’s success does have to lie with its cast, especially the witty take on the character of Olive by Emma Stone, showing off her comedic side thoroughly as well as her convincing take on this character that tries to prove a point by embracing the dark side in public, at the same time, not realizing the pain it would cause her until it was too late.

Of course, no great movie is one person. It also has to pair up with a lot of equally witty characters, mainly, Olive’s entire family which is packed with some fun characters. Playing her mother is Patricia Clarkson and as her father is Stanley Tucci who both make the family scenes every bit a highlight with their quick comebacks and witty dialogues. At the same time, the school scenario is not lacking for good cast members either with Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow and of course, Amanda Bynes who was a teen film favorite in 2000s and sees her in her last feature film role here.

Easy A is executed as a look back at the events as Olive recounts what she has gone through in a livestream. Its a particularly smart move to give the film structure, almost like its in stages and chapters for each turning point of the situation, narrated by the main character themselves. At the end, it also delivers a good message about high school rumors and being true to yourself. Packed with a great lesson and a witty and sarcastic take on the high school dilemmas and rumors, Easy A is a great movie that is still fun every single watch even after 10 ten years.

Elwood’s Pick – Bad Lieutenant (1992)

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Back in the late 90’s when I was first seriously getting into film, beyond the surface level enjoyment I already got from my movie watching, Channel 4 here in the UK used to show Extreme cinema; a genre pretty much dead these days with society on a whole becoming harder to shock it would seem. Back then these films were truly seen as pushing boundaries of taste and would be shown as part of their late night schedule on a Friday night. It was from these seasons of films that I was exposed to films such as Greg Araki’s The Doom Generation and necrophilia romance Kissed which shocked me almost as much as they held a strange fascination for me, knowing that I was watching something which certainly fell outside of the cinematic mainstream, especially with their frequently graphic depicatations of sex, drugs, nudity and any number of taboo subjects. It would also be through these late night movie watching sessions that I would first see this film, which while I might not have followed it fully back then, still proved to be a memorable experience while kick-starting a lifelong fascination with the films of Abel Ferrara whom I mention in my review of The King of New York is my director of choice when I feel like watching something truly grimy and once again here it’s what he truly delivers.

As always with Ferrara it is a suitably grimy vision of New York that he once again gives us here, especially with the Lieutenant frequently seeming to take us on a guided tour of its most seediest parts as investigates the rape of a nun while he hangs out with drug dealers and trades drugs he steals from evidence aswell as adding to his own habit. It’s a habit which when combined with his frequent drinking, often finds him in some more than questionable situations as he frequents with prostitutes often in some form of stupor which also gives us one of the more memorable scenes from the film as a naked Keitel staggers around a room wailing into the night as he looks barely capable of functioning in any form and this is just for starters.

As well as these two vices and the constant pursuit of them, the Lieutenant also finds himself in a rapidly increasing spiral of gambling debts, as he continues to back the Dodgers as they face off against the Mets over a series of games, while Baseball player Darryl Strawberry seems to be the only hint at any human connection that he has with anyone with the sporadic interactions he has with his family either erupting in volatile outbursts or general neglect as he often appears to be distant even when surrounded by his family. This self-imposed isolation only increases over the course of the film as he gambles himself into further debts, while his addictions run wild, ultimately coming to ahead as he suffers a breakdown in a church, memorably grovelling and howling for forgiveness to a vision of a post crucified Jesus.

Unquestionably this is not an easy film to view, but despite the frequently graphic nature and crude tone the film takes, Ferrara clearly isn’t aiming to just shock his audience but instead punch them square in the face as he blurs the lines of gritty reality with frequently grotesque imagery. At the same time it is a powerhouse combination that we get from the potent combination of Ferrara’s direction and a bold and fearless performance by Keitel who despite committing numerous hideous and depraved acts still remains grimly watchable.

Similar in many ways to Taxi Driver the film views humanity at its darkest, perhaps making it all the more fitting that a nun is chosen as the victim of rape, as here even a symbol of purity and light is not beyond being soiled. At the same time the nun’s refusal to participate in the investigation of her attackers, furthers Ferrara’s own reoccurring ideals of finding forgiveness and compassion even when surrounded by a society fuelled on violence and hatred.

Unquestionably though thi is not the sort of film which is watched for enjoyment in the traditional sense, but this is still a griping if bleak experience and one truly carried by Keitel, whose performance Nicolas Cage would attempt to replicate with perhaps more overacted results in the unrelated, let alone Ferrara despised Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. However if you’re looking for a companion piece to Taxi Driver it’s safe to say that this film delivers the goods and more.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Movies and Tea #30 – Brokeback Mountain

Having already looked at a character dealing with complex emotional issues in “Hulk” for his next film Ang Lee didn’t stray far from these ideas as he tackled an adapation of Anne Proux novel about two cowboys finding each other at the titular mountain range and their struggle to deal with thier feelings over the course of two decades as they make regular trips back.

We also look at it’s place in New Queer Cinema aswell as the impact it had on the cinematic and social landscape when it was released plus more!!

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Movies and Tea #28 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Having made a Western with Ride With The Devil it seemed almost fitting that Ang Lee would choose to follow it up with an Eastern as he pitched the film as Sense and Sensibility with sword fighting as he brought together Wuxia fight scenes and lavish production design in a film which not only revitalised the intrest in Wuxia film but also helped open the door for a revived interest in Asian cinema.

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