Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writer: Barry Jenkins
Based on: Tarell Alvin McCraney‘s unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue
Cast: Alex R. HibbertAshton SandersTrevante Rhodes, Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, André Holland, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris
Seen on: 14.3.2017

Plot:
Chiron, called Little (Alex R. Hibbert), grows up in a rather rough neighborhood in Miami. One day, as he runs from bullies, drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) find him and, together with his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe), they offer Chiron a place where he can find the safety his own mother (Naomie Harris), an addict, is unable to give him. And Chiron, who struggles not only with being bullied but also with his crush on Kevin (Jaden Piner) and what that means for his life, needs sanctuary maybe more than most. But things don’t last and as Chiron grows to an adolescent (Ashton Sanders) and then a young man (Trevante Rhodes), he continues to fight and find a place in this world where he can just be.

Moonlight is a beautiful, emotional film that tells a story from an unusual and very much needed point of view. It’s a film very every frame is in the right place, the soundtrack complements the story perfectly and it hits every emotional beat for maximum effect. It’s amazing.

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Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

Our Kind of Traitor
Director: Susanna White
Writer: Hossein Amini
Based on: John le Carré‘s novel
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie HarrisDamian Lewis, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Pawel SzajdaAlicia von Rittberg, Mark Gatiss, Jeremy Northam
Seen on: 19.7.2016

Plot:
Perry (Ewan McGregor) and Gail (Naomie Harris) are on holidays together in an attempt to get their relationship back on the right track. But things are tense. That’s when they meet Dima (Stellan Skarsgård), a rich, jovial Russian. He invites them for drinks and Perry accepts. Dima takes a liking to him and invites him to a party. It is there that he reveals that he works for the Russian mob and that he needs Perry’s help to deliver data to the UK – data that would secure Dima and his family refuge from the repercussions of the mob. Perry agrees to help, but when he hands over the data to agent Hector (Damian Lewis), the role he and Gail both have to play in the affair is unexpectedly far from over.

Our Kind of Traitor was a decent thriller that ends in cliché country. But for a while there, it is a good ride.

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Spectre (2015)

Spectre
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royal, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Judi Dench
Seen on: 10.11.2015

Plot:
The 00 program is still reeling from recent (forced) restructures. Now M (Ralph Fiennes) has to fight to keep it going at all as C (Andrew Scott) tries to establish a more technological data gathering approach to spying. Meanwhile, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on a mission. A mysterious message from the old M (Judi Dench) reaches him, sending him to a funeral in Italy and with it right in the middle of Spectre – a secret organization that seems to have its hand in every major global event.

I’m not a huge Bond fan – which is probably why I enjoyed the most recent efforts in the franchise (well, apart from Quantom of Solace) as it seemed a step away from the worst of Bond’s inherent sexism. Plus, they were good actions films. Spectre, unfortunately, is a jump back into the 70s and with it, into all the Bond-pitfalls that the Craig-Bond-era has at least partly avoided. I was disappointed.

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Southpaw (2015)

Southpaw
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Kurt Sutter
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, 50 Cent, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris, Miguel Gomez
Seen on: 2.9.2015

Plot:
Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) comes from a poor background and out of the foster system, but he has literally fought his way into a good life: he’s a successful boxer, happily married to Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and has a charming daughter in Leila (Oona Laurence). But everything changes when Maureen is shot. Billy falls apart and with him, everything he has fought for: he is banned from fighting, his daughter is given into foster care, he can’t pay his taxes and loses his home. So he has to start from scratch, looking to trainer Tick (Forest Whitaker) for help to get back on his feet, and most importantly to get his daughter home.

Southpaw doesn’t really tell a revolutionary story, but it tells it well. The cast is unsurprisingly excellent and the race angle is surprisingly not awful, so that’s definitely something.

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28 Days Later… (2002)

28 Days Later…
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Christopher Eccleston
Seen on: 01.03.2015

Plot:
After a group of animal rights activists tries to free monkeys that have been infected with a rage virus, all hell breaks loose. But Jim (Cillian Murphy) knows nothing of that – he wakes up in hospital 28 days later to find an apparently empty world. Looking for an explanation and narrowly avoiding the infected, he finds Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) who fill him in. Together they take up the fight for survival.

I have heard many good things about 28 Days Later… and so my expectations were very high. While the film is solid and good, it couldn’t quite match those expectations. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it.

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Frankenstein

Frankenstein
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Nick Dear
Based on: Mary Shelley‘s novel
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller, Ella SmithKarl Johnson, Naomie Harris
[I saw the version with Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature way back when. This time I saw the vice versa version.]

Plot:
Victor Frankenstein (Jonny Lee Miller) experimented around and managed to create a man (Benedict Cumberbatch). Horrified by what he’s done, he leaves the Creature to his own devices. As he stumbles through the world, utterly forsaken, the Creature tries to find his place in the world, a place that is inexorably connected to the man who created him.

It was fascinating to see both versions of the play – and to notice the way my perception shifted just by switching the roles and even though everything else stayed the same. But seeing the play for a second time also made its faults much clearer to me – and that is especially the way it treats its women.

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Director: Justin Chadwick
Writer: William Nicholson
Based on: Nelson Mandela‘s autobiography
Cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Simo Mogwaza

Plot:
Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) is an up and coming lawyer in South Africa – or as up and coming as a black guy can be under apartheid. Bit by bit, though, he is drawn into the political movement. Supported by his second wife Winnie (Naomie Harris) he becomes a leader and instigator and is finally arrested. But even when he’s in prison, he still serves as a symbol for the revolution.

Mandela is not a particularly good film, despite the excellent performances and the interesting topic. The script lacks coherence, the pacing is off and it’s just really, really long.

mandela-long-walk-to-freedom

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Frankenstein

Frankenstein
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Nick Dear
Based on: Mary Shelley‘s novel
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller, Ella SmithKarl Johnson, Naomie Harris
[I saw the version with Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature. But there’s also a vice versa version.]

Plot:
Victor Frankenstein (Benedict Cumberbatch) experimented around and managed to create a man (Jonny Lee Miller). Horrified by what he’s done, he leaves the Creature to his own devices. As he stumbles through the world, utterly forsaken, the Creature tries to find his place in the world, a place that is inexorably connected to the man who created him.

Frankenstein was an excellent production that looked great, was entertaining and very well-made. It has one big fault though, in the shape of a completely unnecessary rape scene.

Frankenstein

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Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory

Plot:
James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) mission is to protect a computer drive that contains the identities of several agents. But things go very wrong, Bond loses the drive and is shot by fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris) – at the orders of M (Judi Dench). Believed dead, Bond disappears. But M has to face a lot of criticism for her actions and losing the list. When the MI6 HQ is bombed, Bond returns from his supposed death and he and M both have to face their pasts to clear this matter up.

I had heard only good things about Skyfall before seeing it and that might have made me expect a little too much. It was still a very good film, it just wasn’t as great as I had expected.

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