T2: Trainspotting


“We’re all in a box just waiting for the lid to come down” – Begbie

The likely lads are back. T2: Trainspotting is finally here and its been perfectly sculpted to give us just the right amount of nostalgia. Trainspotting is in my top five favourite films ever. I wrote about it three or four times during my time as a film student so this sequel is a big deal.

*Drum roll* It delivered! I was completely and utterly infatuated by it. There were actual moments that I wanted to pause just so I could appreciate the picture a little longer. It’s the perfect balance between the old and the new without using conventional editing for flashbacks. Instead Boyle uses innovation to draw a bridge between our beloved cult classic original and T2. An unforgettable ending shot of Renton really depicts this, I couldn’t look away.

Boyle has successfully created a stand alone film. The actors have aged 20 years along with the characters and this adds to the social realist aspect that the original book and film were so loved for. Yes, the cast are now grand and successful individuals but they have not let Hollywood sweep their working class ghosts away.

Twenty years later, Renton finds himself back in Edinburgh lost and searching for a past. He reunites with Sick Boy – now ‘just Simon’ – firstly but each individual reunion is equally special and terrifying for Renton. If we all remember clearly, he did run off with every penny of Sick Boy’s and Begbie’s cash right at the end of Trainspotting, so this is no high school musical reunion. I don’t want to say too much about the plot but expect blood, cocaine, strap-on’s, betrayal and little bit of heroin.

The film teases you with the opening beats of ‘Born Slippy’ and ‘Lust for Life’, two iconic songs from the Trainspotting soundtrack.

Wherever you are, stop what you’re doing and go see it right now. Enjoy and let me know your thoughts…


Manchester By The Sea: Men and Grief 


Last night I lay awake until midnight watching Manchester By The Sea, a wise choice of movie, poor choice in time. This film will stay with you just as it stayed with me until 3am.

Grief is an inevitable part of all of our lives and in Manchester By The Sea, protagonist Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is given his fair share of lost loves. We’re introduced to this character during his current state of mind, unaware of why he behaves the way that he does. He is impassive, closed off from the world and his rage leads him to bite and attack. It is curious to observe a character who is consumed by grief without being aware of their state – especially a man. For a portion of Manchester By The Sea the audience recognise that there is something bizarre and dismal about Lee – the darkness of his eyes and his slow cognitive responses within social situations give us a sense of unease, but nothing to prepare us for the final truth.

These contemporary shots are contrasted with frames filled with a charismatic and loving father, and husband to Randi Chandler (Michelle Williams). Affleck performs exceptionally to illustrate two utterly diverse stages in human life. He depicts a man at his emotionally highest and then shows us the same man when life has beaten his soul into the ground.

After the death of his brother, Lee finds himself back in Manchester, a small town by the sea, looking after his adolescent nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), who has lost his father and is unsure of how to communicate this catastrophe. Lee battles to teach him how and why he should elevate his emotions as he hasn’t addressed his own – an unforgettable scene where Patrick is having a panic attack and Lee fails to aid him shows how withdrawn Lee is from human affection.

Male grief is frequently invisible and rarely encouraged to be addressed, accepted and spoken about in society. It is often dismissed and felt unwanted and both women and men find themselves in situations where they are hesitant with their response to male outbursts of despair and tears. The subject of male grief and mental health is seen as taboo and our culture has classified it as an uncomfortable occurrence that is unnecessary. Men are supposed to be the alpha males – strong, mentally stable and the leaders of our patriarchal society – there is no room to grieve or loose yourself during lifes unavoidable challenges. This is purely why films such as Manchester By The Sea are so important. They create a conversation about a subject that is foreign and ignored by many. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, this is fact. However, building art that depicts this will create a communication amongst people and hopefully result in a change.

An unforgettable scene between Lee and Randi explores how open Randi is to discussing their bereavement. She has a dying need to express herself, to mourn and cry and scream but Lee is unresponsive. You can see the agony begin in his eyes and flow through his body as Randi is pecking away at him, trying to draw some form of emotion out.

Manchester By The Sea has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay.


Moonlight: Review


Moonlight dwells on a narrative that society has been in need of for a long time now. Barry Jenkins has elegantly constructed a coming of age drama which is universal but very much about the black experience.

The movie opens with a drug deal on the streets of Miami where Moonlight is set, this may at first throw an audience off. If you do not know much about the narrative you would assume this film to be something similar of City of God. However, Moonlight is a lot more poetic and empathetic. Using intimate camera angels, Jenkins tells a story with three crucial life stages – childhood, adolescence and adulthood – to depict the life of a gay black man. Moonlight conveys what it means to be black in America, black and poor in America, and black, poor, gay and a man in America.

Chiron, played by three actors, is not used as a symbol but rather to tastefully express the themes of love, oppression, intimacy and identity under the black community. Throughout the narrative, Chiron is micro-aggressive in response to society, confused by what his identity is and why his neighbourhood acknowledge it with such isolation and aggression. During his childhood stage, Chiron is being told who he is before he even knows himself – much of what we see in western culture. Men are socialised to be authoritarian with their sexual identity, there is no room to be vague or unsure. The gasping moment of when he asks Juan (Mahershala Ali) “What does faggot mean?” and “Am I a faggot?” is a turning point for this narrative and completely illustrates the relationship between himself and his only parent. A drug addict, single mother who’s lost in the world just as much as her son but is so damaged and self consumed that she is unable to part any wisdom.

Chiron is silent, withdrawn and fragile but Jenkins does not completely focus on despair. He drowns us with moonlight and beautiful scenery of landscapes, the sea and the sand. The film is almost as completely silent as its lead character, during moments of emotion and intensity, and will resonate with anyone who has been on the same journey with identity as him.

An absolute ravishing and delicate achievement by Jenkins. Moonlight hits cinemas in the U.K on February 17th.


Taboo: First Episode Review

Episode one of Tom Hardy’s Taboo aired Saturday night on BBC One; it’s marvellous, gothic and just the right amount of supernatural.

James Keziah Delaney is portrayed by Tom Hardy – an adventurer full of dark truths and secrets. The death of his father has brought James back from Africa where he himself was presumed to have died. The residents of the small town in which he grew up view him as a savage, the devil and an alien man to be weary of. His presence creates a silence and you can almost see the physical language change amongst his surroundings. It’s the 1800s and the aesthetic has been held up with shots of brothels, insinuations to incest, deathly grit and a contrast between the rich and poor.

This period drama is held together by the backbone of a strong cast. Tom Hardy is perfect for the role. In-between close up shots of his intimidating eyes and frequent grunts, he depicts a man who has gained terrifying knowledge from foreign territories that no Englishman could stand up against.

A piece of land ‘Nootka’ which has now been inherited by James, is in dispute between the Queen Mothers land and the U.S. and the border needs to be drawn. But James refuses to sell to Britain, which could present him with a dangerous fate in future episodes. A fate that his father did not survive. However, anybody would be foolish to challenge a man who can look into your soul and live amongst the shadows.

With a hybrid of cultures, Taboo with not dampen  your Saturday nights but rather add an essence of dark magic, fire and nostalgia for an untold story.

Taboo - Generic