TULLY (2018)

Before knowing what Tully (2018) is about there are already many reasons why you need to see this film: It has Oscar winning Queen Charlize Theron (Young Adult, Mad Max: Fury Road, Snow White and the Huntsman) Directed by Oscar nominated Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult) and Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno). It also features Mackenzie Davis which is exciting because I saw her in a film called Breathe In (2013) which is a small film which not many people know about (I was excited to find that’s how Reitman knew about her) but since then she’s worked on incredible films like The Martian (2015) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) so it’s exciting seeing her in a prominent role alongside the icon that is Theron.

By now you should be pre-ordering your tickets to see the film but now we have the facts out of the way I can tell you that the main theme of Tully centres on motherhood. Charlize Theron gives a committed performance of a mother who is about to welcome her third child and her brother offers to pay for a Night Nurse to look after her newborn during the evening.

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I’ll explain towards the end of the article why this film moved me in a powerful way (don’t worry, I’ll warn you when the spoilers appear) but it basically confirms that no matter what the central theme is there is still something that everyone can relate to and that for me is when film can be at its most powerful.

It’s funny because I know that I have an eclectic film taste and have written many blog posts stating my favourite films and my love for foreign language films yet people still think I only watch Disney and U Rated films. So just to clear up those misconceptions I love watching films that tell stories from different walks of life so it can allow me to have a broader sense of life and step outside of the bubble of my own life and understand humanity just a little bit more. Obviously I’m not a mother, I’m not even a parent but I loved watching Tully just to have an insight to see what women really have to deal with when looking after children and understanding the pressures that society can put on them but also the beauty that comes with creating life. I have a sister who is a mother, obviously I’m not with her all the time but I have an inkling of what she has to go through and the strength that is found in motherhood.

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Charlize Theron in Young Adult (2011)

Also I loved what Reitman/Cody/Theron did on Young Adult so I knew Tully would be a great watch; they didn’t try too hard to push an idea but it’s very organic and natural and yet so deeply profound. When I was watching Tully I was thinking about how society can be so hard on us but also how hard we can be on ourselves trying to live up to a certain standard. There’s a scene where Marlo (Theron) orders a decaf and another customer calls her out by saying there’s still traces of caffeine in the mugs, to which Marlo ignores (much to the customers disgust) or when Marlo screams outside of the car after a frustrating meeting with her sons teacher. Marlo loves her children and her husband but we see her at a point in her life where it’s getting too much for her and the film also deals with our identity, who was Marlo before she had children and is she still the same person and if not is that ok?

This is when Tully (Mackenzie Davis) comes in. A Vibrant, youthful and forthright woman who is like a saviour for Marlo coming into her life and taking some of the load off her so that she can have a good night sleep and have some energy back. It’s a beautiful friendship that unfolds on the screen and not only does Tully inject some of that joy back into Marlo’s life but also Marlo cautions Tully of what time can do to a person. Both Davis and Theron work brilliantly together and their performances are so authentic which felt refreshing.

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Now here we come to the SPOILERS (Spoilers will be in ITALICS)

I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of how the film would play out but I was not ready for what was to come. So Tully takes Marlo out for some drinks and as they’re driving home they end up in an accident. Marlo wakes up in hospital and the doctor asks her husband if Marlo has suffered from mental illness in the past and then the twist that I was NOT EXPECTING happened: the doctor explained that Marlo was severely sleep deprived and as the audience we realise that Tully was not real…but a figment of Marlo’s imagination (her younger self coming back to help Marlo as Marlo’s maiden name was Tully) and I nearly cried. I wasn’t ready or expecting how emotionally impacted I would be by this Fight Club (1999) style of ending and I’ve reflected since to find out why because I’m only 24 and not a parent that has lived life but I remember just feeling true empathy for Marlo that all this time she was truly alone and basically was trying to figure out who she was and who she has become and what time can do to us. Tully comes back in the hospital room saying she has to go and Marlo agrees and the look on Mackenzie’s face in knowing she has to go is heartbreaking I could have cried again. It was very emotional but also in a good way because at the end Marlo is looking happier, with more energy and as Tully says before has gotten Marlo through the danger zone of looking after a newborn baby. Marlo is happy with who she has become and that’s a beautiful thing to see on screen. If I’m not making sense it’s because I’m still emotional thinking about it all. 

SPOILERS END:

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The meaning of the ending and how that helps you see the film in a different light is probably for another blog post as I thought it was incredible and totally different to what I was expecting, but basically what I loved about this film was how accessible it actually was. Everyone should give this film a chance, not just because of the incredible talent in front and behind the screen (though that is a main factor) but it can create conversation about our progress in life, who we were and who we have become and it’s always welcome to see an original film come to our screens.

RATING: 5 STARS

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And The Oscar Goes To…

 

The best time of the year has passed and now we have to go into the rest of the year Oscar-less. So let’s celebrate the lucky select few that walked away with that famous golden statuette and let’s celebrate the incredible strong year in film. I’m sure that phrase has been used before in previous years however I truly believe that 2017 was a best year for film for a long time. Having films like Lady Bird and Get Out breaking the mound there was a lot to celebrate this year.

Even though there were some certainties I would have generally been happy if it had gone either way and there was a feeling this awards season that there was a true love for all films nominated because it was a groundbreaking year for film.

What I love about this year is that the Oscar winners (in the acting categories in particular) were seasoned actors and I love how the Academy recognised actors who have been around for a long time who have had an incredible career and won this year for powerful performances.

The Shape of Water (4 wins)

Best Motion Picture of the Year (Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale)

Best Achievement in Directing (Guillermo del Toro)

Best Achievement in Music Written for the Motion Pictures – Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)

Best Achievement in Production Design (Paul D. Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeffrey A. Melvin)

This is a passion project for Guillermo del Toro who has always stood up for monsters and in this film in particular he speaks out for love and fairytales. Even though this wasn’t my favourite film out of the Best Picture nominees I do admire Toro’s artistry and vision for the film and I would actually like to watch it again because there were some strong themes and the ending was powerful. Now Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri had won at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes for Best Picture so I was expecting that film to win however The Shape of Water did receive 13 nominations and has received a lot of love this awards season so I was still happy with the result.

I’m so happy for Alexandre Desplat winning his second Oscar, the music in the film was almost like another character and was so lush and beautiful; perfectly capturing that Golden Age of Hollywood.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2 wins)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Frances McDormand)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Sam Rockwell)

I loved this film. Bold, strong, darkly comical with powerhouse performances from its cast. That’s why I was so happy with Sam Rockwell winning his first Oscar and especially happy with Frances McDormand winning her second Oscar (first win was Fargo in 1997), It’s great to see a seasoned actor rewarded in this way and she showed us why she is the great actress that she is. Also can she get a 3rd Oscar for her incredible speech please?! Best speech of the awards season for demanding equality and sharing her moment other other female nominees. Well deserved win for McDormand.

Now Three Billboards did win Best British Film and Best Film at the BAFTAs as well as Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes so I was expecting for it to win at the Oscars but again with it being such a strong year for film I’m happy either way.

Darkest Hour (2 wins)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Oldman)

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick)

My least favourite film of the year, however Gary Oldman rightly won the Oscar for his powerful and transformative performance as Winston Churchill. He had been nominated previously for the first time in 2012 for Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy (2011) and after having an incredibly successful career many were surprised he hadn’t won before so it was great seeing him being rewarded in this way.

Coco (2 wins)

Best Animated Film (Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures – Original Song – “Remember Me” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez)

I’m so glad I managed to watch Coco a couple of weeks ago! One of Pixar’s best outings which was emotionally poignant and I loved how respectful they were of the Mexican culture. Now I knew the film would win Best Animation but a pleasant surprise was winning for Best song. As a song itself “Remember Me” is not the strongest in the category, many people thought “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman would win, however in context “Remember Me” is powerful and in that case I’m really happy it won. Not to mention it’s the Lopez’s second Oscar win after winning in the same category for “Let it Go” from Frozen (2013) 4 years ago so well done to them!

Blade Runner 2049 (2 wins)

Best Achievement in Cinematography (Roger Deakins)

Best Achievement in Visual Effects (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover)

Blade Runner 2049 was my favourite film of 2017 and I’m glad it received recognition for its strong visual elements. I would have loved more recognition in other directors (Denis Villeneuve was nominated Best Director at the BAFTAs at least) but at least it won some awards.

Most notably for Deakins who had FINALLY won as he had previously been nominated 13 times. So I’m glad he finally got recognised and especially for visually lush film like Blade Runner 2049.

Get Out (1 win)

Best Original Screenplay (Jordan Peele)

Jordan Peele made history on Oscar night for being the first African-American to win Best Original Screenplay. I’m so happy Get Out won an Oscar; the film had been nominated 4 Oscars (including Best Picture) bearing in mind it came out in February 2017 so that’s amazing.

Get Out is layered and with multiple viewings you’ll get more out of the film and you’ll love it even more. That’s down to Peele and his Screenplay so I’m happy for his Oscar win.

I, Tonya (1 win)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Allison Janney)

I, Tonya is a bold, brash, comedy/drama and I’m glad Margot Robbie was nominated for her incredible performance as Tonya Harding and in a another year she could have won, but this film was a moment for Allison Janney who has had a long and exciting career so this was her moment and a well deserved one as that. When you watch her in I, Tonya you realise it’s such a transformative role and you see how talented and amazing Janney is in that role.

Call Me by your Name (1 win)

Best Adapted Screenplay (James Ivory)

James Ivory, at the age of 89, became the oldest Oscar winner ever (having previously been nominated as Best Director 3 times) so it was a huge moment for him. It was an emotional moment when he was thanking people he had worked with who had recently passed which shows he’s had a long and successful career and he was rightly recognised for the Oscar this year.

Special Mentions:

(Phantom Thread)

Phantom Thread had been nominated for 6 Oscars (including Best Motion Picture) and it was one of my favourite films of the year, so thankfully it didn’t walk away empty handed as it won for Best Achievement in Costume Design (Mark Bridges) which was his second Oscar win after winning for The Artist (2011) 6 years ago. He even won a speedboat for the shortest Oscar speech so he was the big winner so well done to him!

Dunkirk won 3 Oscars for the technical awards (Sound and Film Editing) which it deserved however because I found the film quite boring I wasn’t really invested with the wins.

Also I’m proud I guessed 15 of the Oscar wins correctly against my friend who guessed 12 correctly so well done me!

BLOCKBUSTER V INDEPENDENT FILM: DAWN OF THE SNOB

It’s not old news for blockbusters to be snubbed or passed off in favour of more “compelling” independent dramas. It can be said that blockbusters lack originality and only rely upon setting up or continuing franchises, as opposed to creating original works. Personally, the size of the film is irrelevant, as long as the film has convincing characters and allows the audience to invest in the film. There’s two sides of the coin and there’s no right answer, but I do believe blockbusters should be given more credit.

In recent times, franchises are becoming a stronger concept and a studio can’t make a film without thinking of a follow up. An obvious example is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, originating back with 2008’s Iron Man. Gradually creating its own thing, it was like a cosmic explosion occurred with 2012’s Avengers Assemble and now the Marvel brand is stronger than ever.

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There’s at least a few Marvel films per year as opposed to times when there was only once a year. The films are becoming so interlinked, it’s hard to focus on one without considering the others. Let me state that I am a huge fan of superhero films, but I wonder what the end goal of Marvel is and how much bigger it can get. I miss the days when a film was a film within itself, without having to rely on other films.

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Recently, Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy blasted the “tsunami of superhero films” and told other indie filmmakers they were survivors of the attack. Gilroy further stated, “We have survived and we have thrived and I think that’s true spirit.To some degree, I understand what Gilroy means and it would be refreshing to see more original work. However, Gilroy should focus on his “true spirit” in filmmaking instead of wasting his energy blasting commercially and critically successful blockbusters.

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“…if you, as an independent filmmaker or a ‘serious’ filmmaker, think you put more love into your characters than the Russo Brothers do Captain America, or Joss Whedon does the Hulk, or I do a talking raccoon, you are simply mistaken.” 

James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, rightly defended blockbusters (superhero films specifically). Just because a films budget is bigger doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of investing all of their energy to create a great story with great characters.

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“It’s something different. It was great because Christopher Nolan is an independent film-maker who happens to work at a studio. Yes, Interstellar is a big budget film, but it’s his voice, you feel completely like it’s his movie all the way.”

Jessica Chastian, who collaborated with Nolan on Interstellar, raises an interesting point. That in some cases, blockbusters can have their own unique style and that they don’t have to adhere to the latest trend. Christopher Nolan is a director I highly respect for creating intelligent blockbusters that have depth (and the fact he uses 2D). As stated before, he creates original epic blockbusters that allow actors to go deeper with their characters and to feature a thought provoking narrative.

That’s what I love about films, that you can watch an exciting action adventure and be thrilled or watch an independent film that tells a story in a raw and emotional way, you can get different things from different types of films. There shouldn’t be a prejudice against blockbusters. Film is film, enjoy it!

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Basically, don’t be a snob and enjoy great films that create solid characters and have a great narrative, no matter what the size of the budget. I know not all blockbusters aren’t perfect and I’m sure there are some bad indie films out there, but blockbusters should be given more credit in some cases. Peter Jackson created an epic blockbuster full of great themes and deep emotion and also received great reviews. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King became the first fantasy film to win an Oscar for Best Film in 2004, I rest my case.