Downton Abbey – Review

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Director: Michael Engler
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Penelope Wilton, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, Robert James-Collier, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Michael Fox, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, Imelda Staunton, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Goode, Douglas Reith, Harry Hadden-Paton, Kate Phillips, Simon Jones, Geraldine James

The Downton Abbey television show, which ran from 2010 to 2015, wasn’t everyone’s cup of Earl Grey. The classic upstairs/downstairs class division theme, with its ‘highborn’ characters being so uppity yet droll, wasn’t particularly pleasing to some. However, it clearly struck a chord with enough people to warrant a feature length film, most likely to those fascinated by the English upper-class and those across the pond in the US (where the production was supported by and aired on PBS). Created and written by Julian Fellowes, the majority of audiences likely related more to his strong and often compelling lower-class characters and their lives whilst enjoying the somewhat tongue-in-cheek dialogue and ‘how the other half live(d)’ environment of the Crawley family. But what we usually get from a movie that’s based on or a continuation of a T.V. show is nothing more than an extended episode, which can be disappointing for audiences wanting something more, particularly when it comes to visuals (or else what’s the point in going to the big screen?) and character development. Was Downton Abbey worth the big screen treatment, or would it have been better off as a small-screen special?

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It Chapter 2 – Review

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5 STARS

Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Teach Grant, Sophia Lillis, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton, Bill Skarsgård

Clowns. You love them or you hate them (or you can be indifferent but you’re probably in a very small minority). They’ve always been a source of fear for many people, and of course Stephen King would take that fear (and many others) to a new level. It Chapter 2, less a sequel than a continuation of 2017’s It, introduces the adult perspectives of the source novel, bringing with it new insights into what would be written off in reality as children’s imaginations running away with themselves. Horror is not easy to write, and it can be very difficult to visualise an imagination as intense as King’s. So, what can you expect from this second installment? More of the same? Something entirely different to the book? Read on to find out…

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Review

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Director: André Øvredal
Cast: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Austin Zajur, Gabriel Rush, Natalie Ganzhorn, Gil Bellows, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris

As horror season approaches, we can start whetting our appetites with the spattering (pun intended) of scary movies coming our way. Although most of us are probably eagerly awaiting It Chapter 2, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark can be something of a precursor – an appetiser, if you will. Based on the book of the same name, a collection of tales by Alvin Schwartz, this Guillermo Del Toro-produced and co-written, André Øvredal (Troll Hunter and The Autopsy of Jane Doe)-directed teen horror has a lot in its favour. But horror is possibly one of the most, if not the most, arguably, difficult genres to get right – it’s so easy for jump scares to fall flat on their face, creatures to be so obviously CGI that they’re downright unterrifying, or dialogue to be so corny that it reduces a film to a B-horror status (which, granted, isn’t always a bad thing if a cult status can be earned). So, where does Scary Stories lie on the scale of send-me-to-sleep-zzzzzero to you-won’t-sleep-for-a-week-f-f-f-five?

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What’s On – September 2019

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As the summer comes to an end, so does the season of blockbusters. Though we do have the likes of Brad Pitt (Ad Astra), Sylvester Stallone (Rambo: Last Blood) and Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) throwing their star status around for some potential end-of-summer hits (or not), we also have quite a few more thoughtful independent films coming out, such as For Sama, Honeyland and Shock of the Future. Not every cinema will get all the films, unfortunately, but many of them are worth tracking down if you can do so. In the meantime, as always, here’s a few films that could be worth your hard-earned buck this month without having to travel too far (hopefully).

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Blinded by the Light – Review

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4 STARS

Director: Gurinder Chadha
Cast: Viveik Kalra, Dean-Charles Chapman, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Nikita Mehta, Tara Davina, Aaron Phagura, Nell Williams, Rob Brydon, Hayley Atwell

Bruce Springsteen is one of those artists whose music is famous enough and who has been around long enough that everyone will have at least heard his name. He’s a stalwart creator of bona fide American rock music, his lyrics ranging from love songs and odes and laments to his hometown to socio-political commentaries and easy radio tunes. What you might not think, though, is that he would have much of an influence on the life of a young British-Pakistani Muslim boy in the late 1980s. It’s certainly a story that presents much in the way of movie fodder, but is director Chadha successful in managing to make something so personal come to life for an audience, particularly for those who are not Springsteen fans, or does it fall flat on its face?

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