Ghost (1990)

 Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Director: Jerry Zucker
Writer: Bruce Joel Rubin
Staring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore
Rating: ★★★★
Ghost is a film that shows love can even transcend death. It mixes the two genres of romance and thriller together effectively to create a heart warming story that unfolds before your eyes. It has a outstanding acting, a magical soundtrack all completed by a great storyline.
Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is a banker who has just recently moved in to a new apartment in New York with his girlfriend Molly Jenson (Demi Moore). After a date to the theatre together they walk back home through a dark alley, a robber jumps out and demands Sam’s wallet at gun point. Refusing to give in they get into a scuffle and Sam gets shot and dies however his spirit stays on earth. He realises his death was no accident or coincidence and that Molly is in danger, through the use of psychic Oda-Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) Sam has to reveal his death true meaning and protect his love, Molly.
The on-screen romance at the start of the film between Sam and Molly shows such a connection from the way they touch and look at each other. It sets up one of the most famous scenes in film history and one of the best romances. The film focuses on how their love is eternal and can even transcend death. Whilst the characters of Sam and Molly provide a eye watering romance, Oda Mae Brown provides eye watering comedy. Whoopi Goldberg plays a hustler con artist who poses as a medium who just happens to discover her true powers when Sam arrives. She’s from the “ghetto” and is tough cookie, but she changes as she helps Sam protect Molly and uncover his murderer. Ghost also provides thrills and tense scenes that keep you entertained.
For me the acting in Ghost is faultless, the romance between Sam and Molly is so real, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore were very convincing and made it believable, for me making it one of the best film love stories. This was completed and entwined with magical score and soundtrack including “unchained melody” and the theme song Ghost written by Maurice Jarre. Ghost is a endless classic and one you can watch over and over again, it has everything to entertain you with comedy, romance and thrills all embedded into an amazing unique storyline.
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500 Days Of Summer

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama

 Director: Marc Webb

 Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber

 Staring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel

 Rating: ★★★½

 500 Days of Summer is a romantic comedy that isn’t Hollywood and fairy tales but harsh, painful and realistic but at the same time heart warming. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) believes in love and when seeing Summer (Zooey Deschanel) he believes she’s “the one” however Summer doesn’t believe in true love, despite this the two get close together and become more than friends but problems arise when Tom wants to put “labels” on their relationship. The film shows 500 days from the moment Tom first saw Summer, flicking and skipping through the days back and forth to show how things changed and how things were before.

 

 Tom designs greeting cards but his true passion is for architecture, one day at work at a monthly meeting Tom meets newly arrived assistant Summer, and then and there falls for her. This sets up the scenes where he hopelessly tries everything to talk to her, and for her to notice him representing something many in the audience can relate to. Eventually after some not so smooth conversations Tom and Summer become friends, but it soon develops into more than just friends.Kissing in the photocopying room, endless cinema dates and even shopping in Ikea makes Tom fall even more for Summer but he soon crashes as Summer tells him that she’s don’t want things to get serious and to keep it casual. Despite this their relationship still develops and slowly but surely Summer lets Tom into her hidden away mysterious life that no one has ever had the privilege to see and hear about before. However their heart warming cute relationship that everyone in the audience would want suddenly takes a u-turn and the two break up. The rest of the film consists of how Tom copes without Summer however she does return later in the film but is it for the good of Tom?

 

The film in a unique way shows how something can change so quickly and the harsh reality of relationships and love, something that other romantic films cover up and stray away from. There are two scenes that will stick in your head after watching, the “Ikea scene” is heart warming and is a real “awww” moment within in the audience. The second is the “expectation vs reality scene” that is truly unique but represents real life as its something everyone can relate to as we tend to make up scenes in our heads of how we hope events turn out. The film not only provides us with the generic expectations of a romance film but those of a comedy too, helped by Tom’s friends (Geoffrey Arend, Matthew Gray Gubler)there are many scenes that will make you laugh for a number of different reasons.

Not only does 500 Days of Summer have a great storyline and plot but it is also accompanied by great acting and a even better soundtrack. The soundtrack is modern and refreshing, featuring songs such as Sweet Disposition (The Temper Trap) and She’s got you high (Mumm Ra) it complements the feel and style of the film, completing it. This is definitely one of the best romantic comedies that has been released for a while and one to watch.

The Descent (2005)

 

Genre: Horror, Adventure

 Director: Neil Marshall

 Writer: Neil Marshall

 Staring: Shauna Mcdonald, Natalie Mendoza

 Rating: ★★★½

 Just like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later three years previous, The Descent is another British horror film that was both popular in the UK as well as the US producing an American sequel. Neil Marshall, director of Dog Soldiers this time takes on an all female cast that go caving and discover some more than unfriendly inhabitants. Providing thrills, jumps and shocks it truly lives up to its genre.

 The film follows the character of Sarah (Shauna Mcdonald) who has just recently lost her husband and daughter in a horrific accident shown at the beginning of the film. Despite no longer being in the stage of grieving Sarah is obviously still suffering from her loss but however agrees to go on a routine caving trip with her friends to Boreham Caverns. The narrative has a side plot and a in group protagonist of Juno (Natalie Mendoza) after it becomes obvious she was having an affair with Sarah’s late husband. Juno, who’s planned this caving trip decides against the tourist options and take the girls to an unknown cave in the hope of them being the first to discover it but all this is unknown and a surprise to the girls. 

When in the unknown cave system things start to go wrong and their entrance and possibly only exit becomes blocked, eventually a worried panicky Juno tells the group the truth. However they’re still far from knowing what they are getting themselves into, the cave is home to hundreds of blood thirsty monsters. These “crawlers” are fast, clever and hunt in packs for flesh and the group become top of their menu. Being hunted the group must try to escape the cave, however Sarah has other things on her mind as she sets of for revenge on Juno. The rest of film fuels on tense chase scenes, providing many jumps and scares. It also focuses on the transformation of Sarah and how troubled she really becomes, from visions of her dead daughter to extreme acts of violence.

The Descent is a very different and unique horror, for starters its all female cast is something we don’t often see and it strays from the stereotype. The “crawlers” are a new take on a monster, they however provide blood, guts and gore as they hunt the group down, creating just what we expect. The setting is also something new, however despite this innovation as a viewer you still get what you came to see, and that’s a thrilling, gore-filled horror. The acting despite not standing out is good and is something you come to expect nowadays, although Shauna Mcdonalds performance as Sarah is worth a mention. For me the editing and the graphics of the “crawlers” is something that deserves credit, they are realistic but at the same time horrifying and will really stay in your mind. The sound used also creates suspense moments, although mostly its natural diegetic score when long silences and stings are used its effective and well timed so be prepared to jump.

Neil Marshall definitely represented the British horror industry positively once again as The Descent is a great horror and its no surprise the Americans made a sequel. A film that’s somewhat discredited and underrated but for me it’s one to watch, a film very much accurate to its genre and good for a dark night.

28 Days Later

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Director: Danny Boyle

 Writer: Alex Garland

 Staring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris,  Christopher Eccleston

 Rating:★★★

 The British horror industry definitely got boosted when Danny Boyle released his post apocalyptic film in 2002. The film although low budget was a big hit in both the UK and US and even produced an American sequel 28 Weeks Later. The film starts in a lab, where animal testing on chimpanzees is taking place, when animal rights members break in to set them free it soon appears that the chimpanzees have been injected with something and are now all infected. We are given knowledge that the scientists have injected them with an “inhibitor” that causes rage, making the at first innocent and harmless chimps into blood thirsty killing machines. Ignoring warnings they free them only to be attacked and infected themselves, spreading to humans it then becomes a national pandemic wiping out the population and turning them into rage infested “zombies”.

Now knowing how the problem was caused the film focuses on the 28 days after and follows the life of Jim (Cillian Murphy) who has just woken up in hospital after a collision with a car when he was delivering a parcel on his bike. Unknown to him that his former life is now history and he’s about to walk out into a living hell he adventures across an abandoned London in search of life. However all he can find is dead, but the living dead? As he gets chased by a hoard he gets rescued by two over survivors Selena and Mark (Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley ). Held up in a corner shop they’re protected and have good and shelter and explain to a confused Jim what has happened.

Without ruining the film and giving away spoilers things go wrong when Jim searches for his family in what used to be his home. They then discover more survivors in a block of flats in a more rural London, Frank (Brendan Gleesan), a  friendly cockney cab driver with a passion for wine and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns), a 12 year old who knows how to change a tyre and hand-break turn. They set off for a “safe camp” a last resort in Manchester where they believe its safe and the military have a cure. After playing homage to Dawn of The Dead 1978 in a local Budgens they arrive in Manchester but is the answer to infection there? The rest of the film is set in an heritage countryside mansion but the zombies aren’t Jim’s only problem when he finds out the military have alternative motives.

28 Days Later is very different to other films of its genre, it takes a different approach on the “zombie” with the idea of rage, which at the time was a very common and talked about theory. I rate this film highly when looking on the technical side, for such a low budget film that used such underdeveloped equipment 28 Days Later has some remarkable shots. Danny Boyle captures the eye with an extraordinary opening sequence of a completed isolated London, something so rare and almost impossible to achieve again. He also makes it clear this is a British film unlike most others that play to the American audience and stereotype. The score and original soundtrack is also worth a mention, repetitively played throughout the film it creates a tense atmosphere but at the same time its refreshing and encouraging. Although a “horror”, 28 Days doesn’t have too many moments where you jump or gasp, it plays more on conflict between survivors and relationships. Despite this the film does have some gore and the bloody violence you would expect in the closing sequence.

Although its no classic compared to the Dawn Of The Dead’s it should be credited and for me it is one of the best British horror films in the last decade. Danny Boyle producing another must watch film as always.

Donnie Darko

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Director: Richard Kelly

Writer: Richard Kelly

Staring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne

Rating: ★★★★★

Those who have said bad things about this film have just not understood it. Donnie Darko is that  film where you’ll find yourself watching it over and over looking for the explanation, on the way you will then discover just how good this film is and why it’s rated as one of the best films of all time. It has an amazing cast, a young Jake Gyllenhaal plays the character of Donnie, after he will star in award winning films such as Brokeback Mountain and The Day After Tomorrow. Future Batman star Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jake’s actual sister plays Donnie’s sister Elizabeth. We also get to see the well known Patrick Swayze and Drew Barrymore staring alongside the otherwise “young” cast.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko, a teenager who has “issues”, he suffers with hallucinations and gets visited by a demonic six foot rabbit named Frank who manipulates Donnie to commit acts of crime. At the dinner table his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) tells his parents (Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne) that he hasn’t been taking his medication. However later that night due to these visions Donnie escapes death as a 747 Jet engine crashes and destroys his bedroom whilst he’s on a midnight trip with Frank. The mystery grows as Frank tells him that the world is going to end in “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds” and that jet engine is unknown by the FBI creating the question of where exactly did it come from? All that is known is that Donnie’s escape from death and Franks appearance are two supernatural events that have crossed and are somehow linked.

Donnie attends the local private high school where he meets Gretchen (Jena Malone), a new student who has troubles of her own. They form a relationship and Donnie gets attached, however Gretchen although curious of Donnie’s behaviour is unaware of his visions and his recently committed crimes. Donnie also forms a bond with his English teacher (Drew Barrymore), they share a similarity in which they both have had trouble with the old gym teacher, she plays an important role in the film as she provides an important clue for Donnie. Another key character is “Grandma Death” or Roberta Sparrow, Donnie and his dad nearly run her down a few days after the jet engine crash and she whispers something into his ear. Later on in the film his professor gives him a book that was written by Grandma Death and that proposes the idea of time travel to Donnie, and after reading her book Donnie believes he has all the answers. The rest of the film then fuels on Donnie putting these clues and answers together before he 28 days left, quickly runs out.

This film provides everything from comedy moments to suspense, thrills and gasps. The soundtrack deserves credit and it is complementary throughout as the score is parallel to the scenes. The acting is at a high standard, Jake Gyllenhaal adapts to role of Donnie amazingly well and creates a real attachment between himself and the audience. For Richard Kelly’s first film it is definitely one to remember and one not to miss out on, Donnie Darko will surely be known for many years to come.