I Feel Pretty – trailer



Amy Schumer’s latest film sees her presenting the same tired, and quite frankly insulting, central conceit. I Feel Pretty centres on Renee (Schumer), an apparently ordinary woman who, struggling with insecurity and low self-esteem as all ordinary women do, is given the ability to feel confident and empowered through a head trauma. The idea that a head injury can provide and enable a woman to feel confident, and attractive given the proliferation of social media, and the numerous studies that have highlighted the rise in low self-esteem thanks to women constantly being presented with edited, filtered insights into the lives of others, is utterly simplistic and undermines a very real, vital issue.

The trailer shows Renee berating Emily Ratajkowski when Ratajkowski begins to discuss her own feelings of self-esteem. Renee immediately scolds Ratajkowski, as seemingly she, as an objectively attractive woman, can surely only feel and define her own self-worth through her appearance.

The trailer then is problematic enough before we focus on the fact that Schumer, while supposedly defying the norms and ideals of Hollywood beauty, is, a slim, attractive, white, blonde woman. One whose privilege allows her to star in such films, and become a success in Hollywood. Truly, the continued insistence on creating this narrative is distasteful and needs interrogation.


You Were Never Really Here – Trailer

Any film directed by Lynne Ramsay is guaranteed to pique critics’ interest. The director, known for the supremely unsettling We Need to Talk About Kevin and Morvern Callar, has demonstrated her unique ability to fuse the visual and the aural in order to create and generate tension.

Her latest effort, starring Joaquin Phoenix, looks set to be similarly disquieting. Phoenix stars as Joe, a conflicted gun for hire, who readily and easily dishes out brutality with seemingly little moral qualms. His latest commission, to rescue a politician’s daughter from a sex ring. quickly descends into difficulty.

With music by Jonny Greenwood, who has garnered a fine reputation on the sparse scores that he has created for P.T. Anderson, the film presents an interesting concept. This narrative and central conceit, of a young girl rescued by a violent man, has almost become a cliché thanks to films such as Taken and Man on Fire, but Ramsay’s involvement will ensure a fresh, progressive direction.

Red Sparrow: Trailer

It’s far too easy for a film, in hoping to represent women positively, to posit the female lead as some manner of violent killer or assassin as short-hand for empowerment. Since the success of Wonder Woman and Mad Max: Fury Road there seems to be an influx of female-led films that, in attempting to ape the success of the aforementioned, present the feminine role as not being dissimilar to a more typically masculine one. To simply adjust gender dynamics in such a way, as other films are seemingly doing, is simply lazy and heavy-handed. The success of Wonder Woman and Mad Max: Fury Road as regards female representation was not to simply place a female lead in a male role, nor was it through presenting the woman as hypersexualised and therefore adept at seduction and in turn, capable of manipulation. Red Sparrow, directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Jennifer Lawrence, seems to rather unsubtly fall into that trap.

Lawrence plays a Russian spy who, in falling for a CIA agent, is forced to question her loyalties. Rather unfortunately, the role seems to largely focus on aesthetics, with Lawrence featured in a number of outfits that rather obviously pander to the male gaze. The narrative, based on a book of the same name, appears to offer little in the way of progression or originality through its presentation in the trailer. Of course, this may be due to marketing, rather than the narrative of the film itself, but thus far Red Sparrow looks set to merely join the roster of a myriad of similarly tired films.

Dunkirk – trailer

I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan. The Prestige in particular, is one of my favourite films. For some, his action sequences are poorly shot, and the emotional core of his films can seem hackneyed. Personally, these criticisms have never landed with me. While Nolan’s direction doesn’t always work, his attempts to create intelligent, multifaceted films should always be praised.

His latest effort, Dunkirk, due next summer, looks suitably impressive in scope. Starring Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy, the film features muted cinematography coupled with huge scale action sequences. Given that Nolan has written the script, I will be interested to see the nature and direction of the narrative. It looks, from the trailer at least, that the film will largely feature an ensemble cast. Given the continued focus of the event, featuring in countless film narratives, I am looking forward to seeing how Nolan attempts to offer a new take on the event.

Nocturnal Animals – trailer


While I understand why some critics felt that Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, displayed a tendency for style over substance, it was a critique that never stood with me.

Certainly A Single Man is stylish, hyperbolically so, yet its attention to detail does little to undermine its emotional impact. In fact, for me, its lush approach to visuals serves to heighten the emotional rawness of the narrative.

Nocturnal Animals, his second feature, is once again adapted from a source text, and while the visuals look similarly sumptuous, the tone is decidedly  removed from the heartfelt A Single Man. Seemingly frenzied and erratic,  the narrative, featuring a subplot which details the plot of a novel, is far more complex than Ford’s previous effort and I am keen to see how he handles a meta-narrative style.

The cast are impressive, with Amy Adams as the art gallery owner who fixates on aforementioned thriller written by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). Given the rave reviews, I am anticipating a wider release.



American Honey – trailer


Andrea Arnold is a true auteur. With films as eclectic as Fish Tank and Wuthering Heights, her films are, whilst not necessarily linked in themed, entirely linked through style and aesthetic. American Honey, her first film shot outside of Britain, retains Arnold’s unique directorial style: a roving camera,  naturalistic performances and an ability to completely highlight a character’s emotional state through visual choices.

Arnold has a history of selecting actors with very little, if any acting experience, casting Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank and James Howson in Wuthering Heights to clear success. She has taken a similar approach in casting Sasha Lane as Star in American Honey alongside Shia LaBeouf.

Lane plays Star, a young adult who has very little connection to her home. As a result, it is relatively easy for her to join Jake (LaBeouf) and his gaggle of teens who, under the strict command of Riley Keough’s Krystal, travel across America selling magazine subscriptions.

The trailer is wonderfully edited, featuring some gorgeous cinematography whilst always retaining Arnold’s naturalistic approach. Lane’s performance looks entirely engaging, and her acting style immediately creates both interest and empathy. LaBeouf too, looks like he has some real potential here. LaBeouf has, thanks to the tabloid press, found himself increasingly used for media fodder rather than any focus upon his acting career, yet, his film choices (Transformers aside) are increasingly interesting. Whilst initial reviews have only been moderately favourable  I am hopeful that American Honey will be another fine addition to Arnold’s filmography.


Bad Moms- Trailer


You know there is something seriously wrong with Hollywood’s policy towards women when Mila Kunis, at the grand age of 32, is now considered suitable for the role of a mother. Not even a new mother, but a mother of two children of school attending age. Unfortunately, that’s not the most irritating aspect of the trailer for the film Bad Moms. 

Despite the huge success of Bridesmaids and a number of female-led television shows (Parks and Recreation and Community) it would appear that both film and television producers are only just beginning to realise that women can be just as funny as their male counter-parts. Why then, it is necessary for a female-led comedy to revolve around such a typically female sphere?

Bad Moms features Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn as mothers who, cracking under the pressure of being a perfect mother, rebel and come into conflict with the fellow mothers at their local school. This film could have had some interesting things to say about the pressure that women are placed under, but by placing the blame for this pressure firmly at the feet of other women, the film simply serves to further undermine female relationships and friendships. Why must films constantly pit women against one another? I can only hope that the trailer is misleading and that the film recognises that in fact, it is the patriarchal led media that is responsible, but I think I’ll be disappointed.

The Light Between Oceans – trailer

Derek Cianfrance’s earlier effort, Blue Valentine, still remains one of the most honest, and heartfelt depictions of a relationship in crisis. His following feature, The Place Beyond the Pines, retained the emotional core that he had demonstrated so skillfully before, but was far more ambitious both in terms of scope and narrative. Certainly The Place Beyond the Pines was a flawed film, predominantly due to its issues with pacing towards the final third of the narrative, but for me, it firmly cemented Cianfrance’s reputation as an auteur.

His latest effort once again focuses on familial relationships suffering through crisis, but appears to be a return to Blue Valentine in terms of breadth featuring a smaller cast and a simple central concept.

Based on M.L. Steadman’s novel of the same name, the film features Michael Fassbender as Tom Sherbourne, a lighthouse keeper living off the coast in post World War I Western Australia. Together with his wife Isabel (Alicia Vikander), the pair live a relatively isolated existence, an existence which seemingly suits them. This isolation is broken when a baby girl is washed ashore, alone in an rowboat. The couple adopt the girl as their own, raising her as their daughter. This apparently idyllic life is broken when on a trip to the mainland, it becomes apparent that the mother of their ‘daughter’ is still mourning the loss of her girl.

The film, if the trailer is anything to go by, looks beautifully shot and utterly devastating. Reviews of the book cited Thomas Hardy as a reference point, a comparison that, for me, is always encouraging. I really hope The Light Between the Ocean delivers.

The Girl on the Train – Trailer Review

It is immediately easy to draw comparisons between The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. Both were hugely successful books and were quickly optioned into being adapted, both feature an unreliable narrator and both feature a relatively inventive ending (although arguably Gone Girl‘s ending is far more muted and psychologically unsettling compared to The Girl on the Train‘s slightly schlocky turn of events). It is interesting then, that the film’s teaser trailer appears to be infused with a rather Fincher-esque tone and mood given the nature of the book. Certainly The Girl on the Train is a thriller, but for much of the book, it is the narrative’s quiet, reflective moments that help to build tension and mood. Rather than beginning with some sense of normality to contrast, the trailer immediately creates a sense of horror. The feeling of foreboding, so intelligently developed in the book, is missing and in its place is a trailer that is operating all on one level.

That is not to say that the trailer does not impress, certainly its cast which includes the sublime Emily Blunt look wonderful and the editing is slick and clinical. Rather, I simply find the film’s chosen marketing campaign interesting given the huge success of the source text. Take, for example, the chosen start of the trailer. Rather than focusing on Rachel (Emily Blunt) who is really the protagonist of the novel despite the multiple narrators, the trailer selects Megan, the young woman who Rachel obsesses over.  The film seems almost too eager to set itself up as a thriller rather than begin with the mundane. Think to the opening of Gone Girl, the dull routine as we see Ben Affleck’s character take the bins out to the front of his house, for a thriller to work you need to have tedium to juxtapose with.

I’m hoping that this is just a marketing decision rather than an insight into the direction of the film itself. Certainly the scenes in which Blunt’s Rachel is desperately searching to see Megan from her position on the train looks wonderfully choreographed. The dreamy tone set to a unsettling remix of Kanye West’s ‘Heartless’  hints at the possible nature of the film, and I hope it is this that gives us a greater insight into the end result rather than the trailer itself.

The Neon Demon – trailer review


Nicholas Winding Refn is a true auteur, creating films that are uniquely his own vision. This element of control is not always successful, his previous film, Only God Forgives, received a relatively disappointing reception given the rapturous applause Drive garnered.

Certainly Only God Forgives is far weaker than the sublime, fairytale Drive, but it was clear to me that Refn is, quite rightly, not allowing the positive accolades that his first English language film received to cloud his own judgement and ability to create.

His latest effort, The Neon Demon, appears to retain many of the stylistic elements that his previous two films presented: an electronic soundtrack, neon lighting imbuing each frame, but it is his chosen focus that is different. His two previous films focused on a predominantly masculine narrative, with the protagonists in both (both played by Ryan Gosling) struggling to either assert their masculinity, or live up to the societal creation of it. The Driver is aware of how he should act as a romantic male, but struggles to truly accept this, whilst Julian is desperate to live up to a mythic masculine role defined through violence.

Here, in The Neon Demon, the narrative is decidedly feminine in nature, but seemingly no less violent or destructive in tone. The trailer reveals little about the plot, choosing instead to use a collage of scenes to create atmosphere.

Elle Fanning stars as Jesse, an aspiring model who moves to LA to try and make it big. She is told by Christina Hendricks (who is presumably her agent or talent scout) that whilst others crack under the pressure, she is ‘great’. Jesse is then seen interacting with a number of other models, partaking in photo shoots and castings. The model industry has long presented a fascination for me, the concept of this veneer of artificiality and danger, a premise which Refn seems to be using here. Jesse herself states that her mother always thought she was dangerous, but as yet, it isn’t apparent why.

Stunning visuals, with a heady atmospheric trailer, I hope The Neon Demon is a return to form for Refn.