Film Reviews written for and published by ccPopCulture (https://ccpopculture.com).
My favourite kind of films are what I like to describe as “bigger picture” films. Ones that have the audience thinking about them long after leaving the cinema. Arrival is one of these films - a beautifully heartbreaking and poignant story set against the arrival of alien lifeforms here on Earth.
Arrival tells the story of language expert, Louise (Amy Adams) and how she assists the US Government in making initial contact with unknown creatures who have arrived at 12 locations across the globe in oversized, shell-shaped hovercrafts. The responsibility of understanding and communicating with these creatures falls to Louise and physicist, Ian (Jeremy Renner). This is the point where the film’s messages really start to come across - how do we communicate with those we do not understand? Do we approach them with hostility or with a sense of kinship? How could our actions and language be interpreted by those not familiar with us?
As the film progresses, a non-linear version of the story begins to unfold which brings the film back to a human level and has audiences thinking about their own lives. These story elements told through stand-out performances from both Adams and Renner, mixed with an emotional, high-impact musical score are what makes Arrival the sci-fi film every human needs to experience.
Sing Street (2016)
Sing Street, the latest from director John Carney (Once, Begin Again), tells the Irish tale of 15 year old Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who, due to his family’s financial hardship, is sent to a Christian Brothers school where he finds himself pegged as the outcast. In the film’s set up, he faces bullying, authoritative abuse and his parent’s looming divorce. One thing that keeps him going is the mysterious Raphina (Lucy Boynton). When Connor bucks up the courage to speak to her, Raphina tells him she is a model soon to be moving to London. To steal some time with her, Connor asks if she would like to be a model in his band’s music video. Only problem, the band does not yet exist.
Cue the fun, up-beat montage of putting together a band of unlikely friends. Boasting a soundtrack filled with classic 80’s pop hits and soon-to-be-stuck-in-your-head original songs, Sing Street is a music filled coming of age story told with a level of charm that has become synonymous with John Carney films.
Great casting, eccentric support characters, indie charm, and a strong sense of nostalgia, this is a must-see for all music lovers and John Carney fans.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2016)
Ang Lee, known for his recent use of emotive VFX (Life of Pi), has again delivered an aesthetically engaging and emotionally driven film with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
A confronting exploration of the contrast between America’s idolising perception of war and its actual realities, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk tells the story of eponymous young solider Billy Lynn (Joe Alywn). After recently becoming a decorated war hero, Billy is brought home with his unit for a victory tour, concluding with an appearance at the halftime show at a Thanksgiving football game in Texas. With the narrative set during a single day, through flashbacks and VFX to portray characters’ thoughts, Lee jarringly shows the varied perceptions of war and what it’s like for boys such as Billy Lynn to “be honoured for the worst day in their lives.”
At times the dialogue and actions are conveniently and overly preachy, making the film’s position on the war in Iraq impossible to miss. However, thanks to the heavy use of close-ups, the emotion rings true from both the soldiers and Billy’s loved ones.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk will leave its audience reflecting upon the question: how does one define a “hero”?