Babies, Black Widow and women in joker costumes.
Black Widow on the big screen
I had to self-isolate recently because my brother caught Covid. It was a horrible experience - really affected my mental health and made me very lonely. I craved going to the cinema which I missed so much.
My appetite for watching films led to me to buy ‘Black Widow’ on Disney Plus as I couldn’t wait a week to see it on the big screen. I got up to the Nirvana cover of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and then switched it off. Because this is the kind of movie you have to see on the big screen.
A week later, I saw it twice at the cinema and was all the better for it. Scarlett Johansson looked hot on the big screen and Florence Pugh totally kicked ass. Cinema trumps streaming any day.
Scarlett Johansson is pregnant
More ‘Black Widow’ news now as Scarlett Johansson is reportedly pregnant with her 2nd child and 1st child with new hubby Colin Jost. The 36 year old actress is apparently keeping a low-profile during pregnancy and is “due to give birth soon”. She already has a daughter called Rose from a previous marriage.
I respect Scarlett for keeping her baby news private and not going the full Hollywood hoo-ha. Pregnancy is a private time and we should respect that.
Florence Pugh’s voice
Ever wonder why Florence Pugh’s voice sounds so deep and raspy? It’s cos she has Tracheomalacia which is when the trachea collapses and breathing is haltered as a result. This can cause noisy breathing, frequent bronchitis, a noisy cough and respiratory infections.
Pugh’s condition has apparently meant that, as a child, she made frequent hospital trips to Spain from Britain to help with her condition.
I love Florence’s deep voice. It’s so raspy and powerful and sounds so good when crying in ‘Little Women’. Her condition doesn’t change the fact that she’s the best actress under 30.
Interview with Ben
I got my first filmmaking guest on my podcast ‘What You Been Watching?’ this week. His name’s Ben Gummery and he’s the director of a brilliant podcasting documentary called ‘One Voice, One Mic’.
Me and Ben had a sit down and chat on Zoom about all things ‘One Voice, One Mic’, podcasting and the future of film criticism in the digital age. He was a very nice guest and gave some cracking answers.
He also shared my hate for ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ which made me a very happy cookie indeed...
Lily James as Pamela Anderson
Set photos have emerged of Lily James on the set of ‘Pam and Tommy’ draped in blonde hair to play Hollywood hottie Pamela Anderson. Her hair looks great - so golden and sexy - and she looks unrecognisable from her usual English rose self.
I’ve been unkind to Lily in the past saying she was too pretty to be believed as an archaeologist and too nice to be believed in Ben Wheatley’s ‘Rebecca’. But this looks like one of those skin-changing performances where you forget the actor and just see the person they’re playing. Hope so.
I arrived pretty early and my friend wasn’t there which was disappointing - no banter about ‘Sex and the City’ and Leonardo Dicaprio. There are two other guys there who are perfectly pleasant and ask me about films. I told them I’d see ‘In the Heights’ which is a brilliant musical and my favourite film of the year. It’s written by Lin Manuel Miranda who did ‘Hamilton’ and contains my new celebrity crush Melissa Barrera.
The task was to pick up all the strawberries from the salad bed. Not the most rewarding task, but we make it rewarding. If they’ve got a bit of green on them, we’re told to bin them, but ripe red strawberries are going to be sold and we get to eat some too. They taste so delicious! Full of sweet and saccharine and manic pixie dream girl love. I’m wondering if this will become a new passion of mine - a passion for nature, the environment and the strawberries. I certainly love fruit preservation.
We stop for a break and head into a table with an umbrella. Our supervisor used to work with horses which is right up my street given I volunteer at a farm and have recently started Equine Therapy. She’s a very nice woman who always asks about me and how my quests to be a journalist are going. She also knows I love horses and asked me whether I’d been to see any. I had the week before - those horses near Wilford who we routinely go and see for a voluntary animal welfare check.
But this time it wasn’t that I was doing this afternoon. It was picking up my mum from the airport because she’d been to see her mum in Jersey. This provoked a conversation about tax dodging which really riled up my Tory toff bias. I kept quiet though. That’s unfortunately what you’ve got to do as a right winger when all other opinions that are not the Left’s are shut out cos they might upset people. This conversation did make me happy though when one of the volunteers alluded to my mixed racial heritage. “That’s cool that one half of your family are from the Channel Islands” he said. It is cool and he really made my day because I love it when people identify me being mixed race, rather than pigeonhole me into the minority race as people do so often when they refer to me as fully Indian.
Then it was goodbye time and goodbye times are always awkward. Because I wait for a lift at the entrance and others are either walking off or getting cars. I’m often standing there like a dancing clown. So stiff and awkward. It makes saying goodbye very difficult from my pals at the gardens and makes for socially inept conversation.
15, 141 Mins
I feel like 'The Sparks Brothers' is the best pf the bunch and it's from one of my favourite filmmakers. Edgar Wright is the pop culture genius behind the 'Cornetto Trilog'y and 'Baby Driver'. Music has always played a big part in his movies (he directed the Mint Royale video for 'Blue Song'), but he's never made a documentary about musicians. His subjects are the most overlooked band you've never heard of - the Sparks Brothers - a brotherly duo with one hottie and the other looking like Hitler. Trust me, after watching this movie, you'll want to check em' out.
This movie is a pop cultural odysey. It's got fantastic songs and some eye-popping images; interviews with Jonathan Ross, Beck, Neil Gaiman and Jason Schwartzmann. Most of all, it looks so cinematic. It looks, sounds and breathes like a real film - not simply a "talking heads" documentary as Russell and Ron describe in the film.
Russell and Ron are a fascinating duo - quirky, eccentric, lovely, heroic and full of manic pixie dream girl energy. I'd never heard of them before, but you don't have to be a Sparks Brothers fanatic to enjoy this movie. It's truly universal and will give you you're next Spotify obsession. I'll playing this more than the 'Cruella' soundtrack.
The movie ended with a Q n' A with Edgar Wright and the Sparks Brothers themselves. They were as quirky and lovely in person as they are in the film. This could be Edgar's masterpiece - it's certainly his most personal film. You can feel his passion and fanboy energy in every frame and his love for spectacular visuals. I just can't wait to see it again!
15, 112 Mins
What was most shocking about this movie was the racism abd anti-Irish slurs that litter the movie. At one point, Phil walks into a bar which says "no blacks, no Irish and no dogs allowed". This was a common occurence in the 70s and 80s where mixed heritage and being Irish were a cause of contention for many of the general pblic. The movie froths with anger at this and you will too. It's despicable.
As well as the social commentary, there's also the very typical musician battle with booze and pills. There's something about being in the spotlight that makes people crack and turn to self-medication. Freddie Mercury saw that, George Michael saw that and Phil Lynoytt saw that. The movie ends with a very sobering note about how the drugs killed the man.
The music is fabulous too - all rock and heavy metal with belters like 'The Boys are Back in Town'. You feel like you're living in the 80s again...
15, 109 Mins
Perhpas it's for B-movies like this that streaming has a purpose. 'The Ice Road' is thoroughly unremarkable cookie-cutter fare with ice in its heart and Liam Neeson being a badass. I enjoyed it enormously - certainly more than that Russell Crow crap 'Unhinged' which actually had a cinema release.
The basic plot is that Liam Neeson is an ice driver called in to rescue a group of miners when a diamond mine collapes. It's in northern Canada where temperatures are below freezing and ice is beginning to thaw. First thing to say is no one does this stuff better than Liam Neeson. He has a growly Irish accent, asymmetrical fecial features and a towering 6ft4 height - perfect for punching up Albanian terrorists, for example, and perfect for saving diamond miners.
Neeson growls his way through the movie - it's a very growly performance full of grunts and groans. He has a pretty accomplice (played by the smoking hot and impossibly named Amber Midthunder) who, at one point, gets into a fight with him and gets stabbed in the stomach by a pole (OUCH!). It's all thoroughly stupid and perfunctory. but I enjoyed the fact that it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's an efficient straight-to-DVD B-movie and nothing more than that. It just happens to have A-list credentials.
'The Ice Road' is on Amazon Prime now.
15, 110 Mins
The story goes that Felicity Jones is a pretty journalist who finds a trove of love letters dating back to the 1940s. Shailene Woodley is the young socialite madly in love with Callum Turner and Felicity is madly in love with an Asian colleague who doesn't allow gum in the reading rooms. It's based on a bestselling book by Jojo Moyes who, on the strength of this movie, is officially the worst writer ever.
There's lots of jumps between scenes in the present and scenes in the past and it makes no fucking sense. The gear changes suck big time and you're left feeling extremely isolated. Its also nearly 2 HOURS long - that's 2 hours of my life I will never get back because of this emo shit. Felicity, who is usually such a lovely presence, looks like she's just farted and is striving to disguise the smell. Meanwhile Shailene and Callum have less chemistry than two candles mating in the wind and her fashion sense is bloody awful.
The stuff about the love letters feels forced and tacked-on and there's never any connection between the past and the present. I hate the love, I hate the dreary emo songs by Haim, I hate Felicity Jones, I hate Shailene Woodley. This is a demented rom-com that will make you disbelieve in true love. 'The Notebook' did this stuff better and that's really going somewhere...
'The Last Letter from Your Lover' is in cinemas from August 4th.
IT’S FREEDOM DAY!
There’s been some scepticism that the restrictions are being lifted too soon, but Covid deaths have fallen dramatically as are the cases. I think it had to happen at some point and we need to learn to live with Covid like we do the flu.
Boris’ vaccination rollout has been extraordinary - I’ve had one jab now - and millions are now protected. For all the hate Boris receives for his handling of this pandemic, we need to remember this. Freedom Day has the potential to go down as the next V.E Day if it sticks and Boris will go down as the next Churchill.
Sir Keir hasn’t saved Labour
Keir’s approval ratings are still dismal. He’s only the 5th most Labour politician and only 40% of the general public think he looks like a Prime Minister in waiting. Compare this with Boris, who is the 2nd most popular Tory politician.
Labour shouldn’t celebrating, they’ve still suffered their worst defeat since 1935 at the last election and Sir Keir is a robotic text speech leader with no humanity or vision for the country - a total armchair Leftie and Champagne Socialist. This by-election win for Labour is a mild loss for the Tories - they’re going to come back with a sweeping landslide at the next election.
Foreign Aid Cuts
Naturally Boris faces backlash and rebellion from aid agencies and MPs including former Prime Minister Theresa May. As harsh as it sounds, I am fully supportive of the cuts. We barely have the money and resources to look after our own people, how are we going to have money to afford on Syria and Yemen in war-torn crisis? These are exceptionally difficult times and exceptionally difficult decisions need to be made.
Boris and Biden on the beach
This was all part of the G7 Summit which was held in Cornwall. It could be seen as an essential in strengthening ties between the US and UK and their “indestructible relationship”. Boris would be wise to get Biden on his side as he has a reputation for being Britain’s Trump.
Boris and Carrie get married...in a catholic church
There’s been countless columns in the smug, morally superior and left wing loonie Guardian that Boris shouldn’t be getting married by the Catholics because he has committed sin. As a Christian, I think we need to exercise the godly practice of forgiveness here. Boris may be a divorcer and an adulterer, but so have many. I beg that, unless you are completely without sin, you don’t judge and forgive Boris for his misdemeanors and allow him to celebrate the joys of marriage. That’s the Christian thing to do.
2021 started off so grey and cloudy with the third lockdown announced and cinemas having to shut again due to Covid-19. There was a sense that we may never come out of lockdown and cinemas may never reopen thanks to the rise of streaming services where many of my favourite films of the year were seen on.
Most of the Oscar contenders didn’t get a cinema release including the big winner - ‘Nomadland’ which I found such a bore. I loved ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’, ‘Sound of Metal’ and ‘Minari, though, but hated ‘Promising Young Woman’. That was such a slog and Carey Mulligan was so miscast as a gigolo.
On Netflix, we had Paul Greengrass’ ‘News of the World’. A very different venture for the docudrama director behind ‘United 93’ and ‘Captain Phillips’, but equally brilliant. This had scenes worthy of David Lean - a macho, old school boy’s adventure with fabulous chemistry between Tom Hanks and German child legend Helena Zengel.
I cried my way through ‘The White Tiger’ and its Dickensian satire of a very divided modern India. As a half-Indian young man, I found the divisions of caste and class and inequality very difficult to stomach. It was a really brilliant film though.
On an indie front, we had Ben Wheatley’s gory and hallucinogenic ‘In the Earth’ which was more like an acid trip than a movie. And ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ - a movie everyone hated, but I loved from Ireland with lovely chemistry from Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan.
Top 10 Best Films of 2021 (so far)
- In the Heights
- The White Tiger
- Judas and the Black Messiah
- News of the World
- Sound of Metal
- A Quiet Place: Part II
- In the Earth
- Wild Mountain Thyme
Top 10 Worst Films of 2021 (so far)
- Zack Snyder’s Justice League
- Blithe Spirit
- Peter Rabbit 2
- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
- The Unholy
- Spiral: The Book of Saw
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
- Promising Young Woman
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
Roshan's Top 5 Films of the Week
2. Everybody's Talking About Jamie (on Amazon Prime)
3. Help (on All4)
4. The Green Knight (on Amazon Prime)
5. The Alpinist
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