Tag Archives: Emma Watson

Little Women (2019) Movie Review By Gianni Damaia


Little Women Review

Director: Greta Gerwig
Writers: Greta Gerwig, Louisa May Alcott (based on the novel by)
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh

I waited to publish this list until I saw Little Women. And that decision proves more and more wise the longer I sit with it. Greta Gerwig captures emotion in film as if she invented it. Similarly to my observation about how The Irishman is more than it may seemingly appear, Little Women presents far more raw, earnest brilliance than you may grasp in a passing glance or a trailer. We’ve all seen the Oscar-baity period piece with respectable actresses (doesn’t it always seem to be Keira Knightley? She’s brilliant but like…) with posh language and extravagant gowns.

We exit the theatre a little let down thinking, “I’ve seen this before”, and so we say to each other on the way out things we’d never think to say, like, “really strong production design,” or, “definitely felt authentic”. This is not that movie. Little Women is a timeless examination of intimacy. With just a line of dialogue, Gerwig is able to tether you entirely to the journey of her characters, a journey that feels like a path you’ve walked yourself. A struggle to connect or feel important or feel desired or give love. And through all of it you inherently come to understand that you’ve known these women your entire life. Through their tumultuous, childhood innocence all the way through their oppressive present.

The performances uncovered from this rambunctious group are among the year’s best, not just in their passionate devotion to the text but also their experimental desire to fight for something with their entire soul. In this way, it feels the natural assessment to address Gerwig as the next Cassavettes: director/writers that understand their stories thoroughly enough to allow others to experiment with them, knowing full well that with their guidance, a long leash will inevitably guide their troupe on the road home. Were I to name flaws (and of course I must otherwise my own OCD would crucify itself), they would be akin to some of Cassavettes best work. Gerwig is more concerned with performance than continuity (hardly a critique, I know), and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention there was one casting choice that distances itself from the proper vision of what it ultimately is trying to achieve. But what does it matter? When I finally perfect this list and decide to publish it to the 10’s of people that may glance upon it, Little Women is likely the film I will run the theatre to go and see and cry at again. 9.7/10

Regression (2015) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier


Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Writer: Alejandro Amenábar
Stars: Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis, Emma Watson

Plot:  A detective and a psychoanalyst uncover evidence of a satanic cult while investigating the rape of a young woman.

Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes

IMDB Score: 5.7

Why I Watched It: I’ll be honest I had forgotten about the film, when it first came out I liked the trailer and I’m a huge Ethan Hawke fan so I was interested but the film came and went and it had almost no buzz.  Then I saw it on itunes for $1.99 and decided to give it a go.

Random Thoughts: Ethan Hawke has a very diverse career he does big Hollywood films, mostly as a supporting actor, he does indies and he has gotten into doing genre and I must say he’s almost always so good good his style never changes no matter what the material is he doesn’t act “down” in genre films.

What I Liked: The main idea, the plot if you will, a teenage girl accuses her father of raping her, the police confront him and he says if his daughter said he did it then he did but he has no memory of it.  You can make a good movie out of that, you throw in satanic cults,  a psychologist who uses the titular Regression therapy and you should have a decent thriller, should is the key word.

The atmosphere is great, there’s a creepiness to the film, you’re not sure what’s going on or who’s involved but there is that sense of dread.  They build it up very well, slowly unlocking clues and slowly building up who may or may not be involved.

The film takes more of a slow burn, we’re not sure what to believe and how big this story is.

What I Didn’t Like: The idea was good but what’s weird and what really undoes the film is that it’s more of a shaggy dog story, yes there is a twist but it’s a strange one, and the film ends up being about something different than we thought in the end the film isn’t really a thriller it’s more of a drama and it ends up pointing fingers at the idea of Regression which is kind of weird.

This was directed by Alejandro Amenabar who’s directed The Others, The Sea Inside and Open Your Eyes, all good to really good films and all well directed but here to be kind he takes a step back, maybe a misstep he never seems to have a handle on his material, the film feels very ham fisted and he gets some sub-par performances from good actors, Ethan Hawke isn’t bad but he’s really one note he gets better by the end but for the first two thirds he’s just angry and yells alot, Emma Watson is a blank slate here, she’s a plot device rather than a character.  Poor David Thewlis is really wasted here, not sure what his role was suppose to be cause it feels like he should play a bigger role but he doesn’t.  We get no insight into the characters and even the end we’re left with more questions than answers.  The main problem is while the set was good the characters have no depth and really we no nothing about them, we get no insight into Ethan Hawke’s character at all same with Thewlis.

I think this film got caught in between being a thriller and a message film, the whole cult angle is very strange and is almost a McGuffin, which if you think about is very strange, we get a lot of stuff with cults and the whole deal then we take a twist and a turn and the film decides it’s about something else and if makes the film feel empty and a bit lost, the tone and narrative is  off with the film. Plus he’s the big thing the film not only drag but is boring at points, it’s flat, sure there’s some dream sequences that work but in the end they mean very little.

Final Thoughts: A huge disappointment, with the talent involved I was excepting at least something challenging or at least something entertaining and the film failed in both areas.

Rating: 4/10

The Circle (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: James Ponsoldt
Writers: James Ponsoldt (screenplay), Dave Eggers (screenplay)
Stars: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Glenne Headly, Bill Paxton, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane

Having watched “The Circle” on Netflix I have mixed feelings about this film in so many levels. The main character portrayed by Emma Watson “Mae” is in a dead end job and portrays a young lady with an unfulfilled life. Receiving a life changing call from her best friend Annie (Karen Gillan) that she has been accepted into the world’s largest and most powerful tech and social media company “The Circle”

“The Circle” facility isn’t much different from working environments that major companies such as Apple or Microsoft create in blending working life with social life and an informal office space. Mae rises through the ranks and is encouraged by the founder of “The Circle” Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) to engage in groundbreaking experiments that push the boundaries of privacy, ethics and ultimately her personal freedom. Her personal life and in particular her family are affected by the environment that she becomes involved in.

Staying on this side of the characters it was one of the plus points of the movie and if they had shown us more of the effect on her family I think the movie would have been better balanced and added more Drama. Sadly portraying her parents Vinnie and Bonnie were the late great actors Bill Paxton and Glenne Headly who only passed away this year and tragically only 4 months apart. Both Paxton and Headly are fine in this movie and the characters give the movie some humanity and roundedness that is necessary in this story.

John Boyega (Ty) and Karen Gillan (Annie) sadly with their acting credentials they are supporting characters at best and don’t offer much to the storyline other than a link to normality for Mae as does the character of Mercer played by Ellar Coltrane who could have been potential boyfriend material for Mae at the beginning of the movie but dissipates as the story unfolds and only serves as a moral compass at the movies climax.

I mentioned earlier that I have mixed feelings about this movie and that is because of the acting line up for this movie offered so much talent but disappointingly come off a little wooden at times and I’ll even go as far as saying a little cringey at times with their delivery and dialogue. That’s not a direct dig at James Ponsoldt who Directed the movie and wrote the screen play. I just felt that some scenes felt over explained and dragged on and felt the Director was overemphasising the need to assume his audience would require a lot of the script to be dumbed down to understand the “techy speak”

I’ve been a fan of Tom Hanks for over 30 years now and he rarely disappoints and although the character of Eamon Bailey the founder of “The Circle” comes off as a Steve Jobs / Mark Zuckerberg hybrid pioneer I didn’t hate the character as much as the filmmaker was intending Bailey to be as the “Villain” of the movie. Just like the Jobs and Zuckerbergs of this world they pushed the technology envelope as far as they could and were always looking for the next “What Next?” in their companies. That doesn’t make them the bad guy in any sense. I have to admit I hated the staff at “The Circle” more.

“The Circle” if I am comparing similar tones is a blend of “The Social Network” and “The Truman Show” where it attempts to test the audiences feelings on privacy and morals but just falls flat as another flaw I felt in the movie was when this story takes place. If it’s in the near future then I can accept some of the processes and ideas the company are trying to project as they appear flawed and a little far fetched but “could” be possible one day (I’m thinking George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four predictions)

In Summary “The Circle” is a not bad film. Yes it has it flaws like most films and the potential is always greater than the end result. I would recommend giving it a watch as the subject matter is interesting enough although the drama is a bit run of the mill, it does make you think (however crass at times) I would give it a go.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh


Director: Bill Condon
Writers: Stephen Chbosky (screenplay), Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay)
Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans

In what is something of a new golden generation for Disney comes another remake of a classic. This time it’s Beauty and the Beast getting the live action treatment, hot on the heels of Maleficent, Cinderella and the Jungle Book. It follows pretty much the same arc as the 1991 original, but with a few choice, and mostly excellent it has to be said, additions being made to sort out some continuity issues and flesh out the story a little more.

As in the original we’re introduced to the selfish, self-absorbed, young prince as he hosts a magnificent ball. Everything is going swimmingly until an uninvited beggar and old woman gatecrashes it; offering a single rose in return for shelter from the raging storm outside. The prince, of course, laughs in her face and scorns her twice, before the beggar transfigures into her true form as a beautiful enchantress. She transforms the young aristocrat into a hideous beast, all who live within the castle into household objects, erases the castle’s existence from the minds of the villagers and then hands him an enchanted rose, before telling him that he will remain in that form forever unless he learns to love another and earn their true love in return before the final petal falls.

It’s at this point, many years later, that Belle (Emma Watson) enters stage right as she sings the song ‘Belle’ and makes her way around the quaint, little village of Villeneuve. It’s a catchy, little sequence that perfectly encapsulates the films spirit early on and nicely sets up her backstory, as she pines for something “more than this provincial life”. It also introduces Gaston (Luke Evans) and his ever admiring, side-kick, LeFou (Josh Gad) towards the end as the former spies from afar. There’s then a brief, touching moment between Belle and her artist father Maurice (Kevin Kline) in his workshop, before Gaston does what he’s clearly been doing for months beforehand and gushes over the vexed Belle, asking for her hand-in-marriage, oblivious to her complete disinterest in him and remarking that he finds her “dignity”, as LeFou humorously puts it when asked, “outrageously attractive”.

Maurice then heads away on a trip to the market with his beloved horse, Philippe, promising to return with a rose for Belle, who later pines again for a more exciting life away from the village that decries her for being ‘strange’. Maurice, as in the original, encounters some difficulties during a fierce storm and soon finds himself lost and at the doorstep of a mysterious castle. Finding it apparently abandoned, though full of strange goings on, he attempts to leave after encountering Chip, a talking cup, only to be taken prisoner after picking a rose, which draws the ire of the onlooking beast (Dan Stevens). Philippe, terrified, flees back to the village, which of course alerts Belle, who immediately sets out to rescue her father. Upon arriving, she quickly discovers him and despite sincere protests takes his place in the cell, which apparently “will never be opened again”.

Lumiere (Ewan McGregor); the former butler and now a candelabra, makes a mockery of that notion shortly afterwards by freeing and introducing himself to a shocked Belle. The rest of the former house staff are then introduced; Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), the major-domo, now a mantel clock; Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), her son Chip (Nathan Mack); Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), the court composer, now a harpsichord; Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald), an opera singer, now a wardrobe and finally the maid; Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), now a feather duster.

They take her to a suite in the east wing then try to arrange a dinner with the Beast, which fails, Belle then goes to dinner herself and the famous ‘Be Our Guest’ gets a remake, complete with surprisingly decent vocals from McGregor. Afterwards, ignoring warnings to the contrary, Belle makes her way to the west wing, stumbling upon the rose, which draws a furious reaction from the Beast, causing her to flee in panic. Immediately after leaving the castle grounds, she encounters the pack of wolves seen earlier, barely surviving thanks to the intervention of the Beast. Hurt during his heroics, he’s helped back to the castle by a grateful Belle, which proves to be the catalyst for friendship between the two. Their relationship begins to develop, especially after Belle is introduced to the library, discovers her captors hidden, gentler side and similarities in their natures.

Meanwhile, Maurice has already returned to Villeneuve, pleaded for help in saving his daughter, been left for dead by a disbelieving Gaston, who initially set out to help him and is then deemed insane by the village after being saved by an old woman after LeFou refuses to betray his friend. The latter is witnessed by Belle via a magical mirror, just after the pair shared THAT romantic dance together in the massive ball room and she’s given leave to help her father by the Beast, who by this point is now completely smitten. Her departure causes the servants to give up all hope of becoming humans again, with only a few petals remaining and her departure only results in both her and Maurice being locked up, after Gaston riles the villagers into action and leads an assault on the castle. A chaotic battle ensues between the servants and the villagers, whilst the Beast, initially too depressed to fight back, eventually succeeds in downing his assailant upon seeing Belle return. True love appears to have been reciprocated too late, however, but the enchantress, who’s hung around to make sure her work was done, returns to save the day and restore everything back to its former glory, granting life back to the servants and the now transformed prince.

There’s an extremely strong cast in this film, made up mostly with established British actors and actresses. Emma Watson delivers a sterling, assured performance as Belle, looking pretty stunning and showcasing impressive vocal talent. Dan Stevens opposite her as the Beast is also very decent, but Luke Evans undoubtedly stole the show as the vain, villainous Gaston. The chemistry between him and Josh Gad was perfect and their scenes together were hilarious. Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen played off each other nicely, with their bickering providing some nice comedic moments and both were the standouts of the transformed servants. That’s not to say the others weren’t good too, they absolutely were.

Visually, the film was absolutely beautiful with some eye popping set designs and costumes. There was some lovely, wide shots in the early part of the film, where Belle was overlooking the village below and the CGI was almost flawlessly done. The servants, especially Lumiere and Cogsworth looked incredible. I say almost flawless, because I did notice a small incident when Gaston ripped off a piece of masonry during his fight at the end, which didn’t look quite right, and Mrs. Potts facial features seemed quite poorly done, which was a little distracting at times. Still, it was very, very good for the most part.

Musically, I absolutely loved this film, I really did. The score was perfectly arranged and just a delight on the ears, so kudos to Alan Menken. From lovely little woodwind parts to beautifully soaring violins. The songs were fantastic and perfectly matched the tone of each scene. My personal favourite was ‘Be Our Guest’, but “Something There’ was a close second, whilst ‘Gaston’, ‘How Does a Moment Last Forever’ and ‘Belle’ were enjoyable and standouts too. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ didn’t quite do it for me in this version, something about Emma Thompson’s singing just didn’t click with me, but musically it was tremendous.

It has to be said, I throughly enjoyed this film. Major kudos to Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos, the two screenwriters, who I imagine are responsible for the various alterations from the original. They were really well thought out and either sorted some niggly, continuity issues with the original or added more emotional depth to the two main protagonists. One example of this, is the adding of a backstory for both Belle and the Beast’s mother’s, which gave them an immediate emotional connection. The film is littered with little changes for the better like this. Disney seem to be nailing it with just about every release and this is no different. As a 28 year old, who watched the original as a young boy, I would have no qualms recommending this film to just about anyone.