Connor Macgregor Reviews Thread

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Connor Macgregor Reviews...Knight Of Cups

INTRO: Recently I've been trying to embrace more poetic and experimental films whenever I can. And a while ago, I came across Terrence Mallick's Knight Of Cups, a film shot in a very odd and alternative style. Watching it, it was a very fascinating experience.

SUMMARY: Rick is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, California. While he's successful in his career, his life feels empty. Haunted by the death of one brother and the dire circumstances of the other, he finds temporary solace in the Hollywood excess that defines his existence. Women provide a distraction to the daily pain he must endure, and every encounter that comes his way brings him closer to finding his place in the world. The film is divided into eight chapters (each named after a tarot card, except for the final chapter Freedom), plus a prologue, each loosely based around the central character's relationship with somebody in his life..

MY THOUGHTS: There is a lot of visual goodness in this film. I love how poetic and free-flowing this film is. The camera is like a bird, moving freely and without effort across the canvas. The story itself is interestingly told, and really introduces new ideas and styles of filmmaking not often told before. Christian Bale is enjoyable, as is the many women in the story. However it's a bit too much of a male fantasy. Women are disposable and come in and out of the story too often.

OVERALL: Knight Of Cups might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found something too it. I love its poetry and out of body sense of filmmaking and while despite being somewhat of a male fantasy, It’s still a very fascinating viewing experience. Give it a try.

RATING: 66% - B

one the the best movie for me since my childhood still i remember how the whole family sits together and watched the movie after dinner. Memories are always precious

Connor Macgregor Reviews...Leave No Trace

INTRO: Leave No Trace was a film I decided to see on a whim. I was aware of the filmmaker and the story and geographical tone of the film was what drew me in. I've seen this film twice, and I loved it both times.

SUMMARY: Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland. The film is directed by Debra Granik from a script adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini.

I LOVED IT: There's a lot to love about this film, and all in so different ways. Let's start with the two central characters. The father/daughter relationship between Will & Tom is beautiful to watch. They are so close and devoted to one another that you really want them to both be ok in the face of readjusting to civilian life. The performances are brilliant and both Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie deliver exceptional performances that are utterly convincing and absorbing to watch on screen. It's also a terrific coming of age story for Tom, a character whose had to grow up so fast and in extremely unusual circumstances. It's a great arc and one where she really finds her place in life, but is ultimately taken away by her father, a man who is in huge mental pain. The film's focus on trauma and finding peace is also very good as Ben Foster's character is clearly mentally not there and suffering from PTSD in some form. It's great acting and powerful character building, and one that makes you really see from his perspective, despite learning very little of this character's backstory.

OVERALL: Leave No Trace is a wild, wonderful and visceral tale. It takes two characters and throws them in new surroundings, and creates a compelling and beautiful story about survival and the bond of a father and his daughter.

RATING: 100% - A+

Connor Macgregor Reviews...Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

INTRO: The second film in the Fantastic Beasts series introduces some new characters, new settings, and new elements in the wider world that wizards inhabit. So what does JK Rowling have in store for us this time?

SUMMARY: In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, though he's unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

THE GOOD: Really the key to the success of this film comes mainly from Johnny Depp, who delivers a spectacular performance. One full of words. Full of manipulation. Full of deceit and half-truths. It's so oozing in villainy and one that will stand out in years to come. We also get introduced to more interesting characters that further richen the world that JK Rowling is building, and the setting of Paris is perfect for this type of story. One that's very European and layered.

THE BAD: For a Harry Potter film, it really isn't that unique in the wider scheme of things. Each Potter film had its own unique flair and style to it. Whether it was cinematography or costume, there was always something about each one that stood it apart. This series, however, is in victim of being all too samey. In the sense of not being unique or having its own flavour to it compared to other films in the series.

OVERALL: Fantastic Beasts 2 is a good solid fantasy flick that is entertaining in its own right. However it is not the best in the series, and suffers from it's fair share of issues.

RATING: 81% - A-

Connor Macgregor Reviews...Unbreakable

Plot Summary: Actor Bruce Willis and writer/director M. Night Shyamalan reunite after the surprise success of The Sixth Sense for this supernatural thriller. David Dunn (Willis) is taking a train from New York City back home to Philadelphia after a job interview that didn't go well when his car jumps the tracks and collides with an oncoming engine, with David the only survivor among the 131 passengers on board. Astoundingly, David is not only alive, he hardly seems to have been touched. As David wonders what has happened to him and why he was able to walk away, he encounters a mysterious stranger, Elijah Prince (Samuel L. Jackson), who explains to David that there are a certain number of people who are "unbreakable" -- they have remarkable endurance and courage, a predisposition toward dangerous behavior, and feel invincible but also have strange premonitions of terrible events. Is David "unbreakable"? And if he is, what are the physical and psychological ramifications of this knowledge?

The Good: I love the film's atmosphere in this film. It presents a very mysterious and unknown sense to proceedings. Nothing is instantly explained and can be at times quite confusing. Bruce Willis is strong in the lead and manages to create a character that is somewhat different to what he had done previously. Samuel L Jackson is also good as Elijah Prince, a character whose allegiance is not really known until the end of the film, which is apart of M Night's great gift of twist storytelling.

The Bad: The film ends with a sort of anti-climax, something which I found unfulfilling to a degree, and ultimately somewhat spoiled my enjoyment of the film. For where the story goes, I would've rather have seen the outcome of the film than be told it as it just leaves viewers a bit frustrated in the grand scheme of things.

Overall: Unbreakable has some good ideas and is a nicely made film by M.Night, yet is flawed in some areas and has a pretty weak ending that leaves viewers miffed.

Rating: 61% - B

Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stockholm My Love

INTRO: Stockholm My Love is a different film to what I've watched before. It's in the vein of experimental. Spiritual. Personal. It's something very different to the pleasures of film I've encountered so far.

SUMMARY: Stockholm My Love is a city symphony, a love letter to Stockholm, the fiction debut of director Mark Cousins and the acting debut of musician Neneh Cherry. It follows one woman's footsteps through the streets of her native city, on a journey of recovery from a bad thing that happened to her exactly one year before. It's an exploration of grief, identity and the power of architecture and urbanism to shape lives, and a celebration of the power of walking and looking to make us all feel just a little bit better.

THE GOOD: For me, this is the closest I've seen to a poetry film. Something that isn't focused on story or character arcs, but just more about the experience. The feeling. The sense of connection between one's self and a city. Neneh Cherry gives a great performance. One so deep and meaningful that you're drawn to her very quickly. This is a film led by visuals, as Mark Cousins tries new ideas to connect with his audience, and give Stockholm a personality and a life. It's rewarding cinema. Very different to what is usually released in the cinemas.

THE BAD: It can at times be a little repetitive. Going very slowly and drifting off into things that I at times could not understand. As well as that, the city of Stockholm isn't a very appealing city visually, and can at times be very dull and disinteresting to watch.

OVERALL: Stockholm My Love is different, yet can be rewarding if you let it. If you want to escape from Hollywood block storytelling cinema, then maybe let this film give you a deep breath and relax into something experimental. You might be surprised.

RATING: 73% - B+

Connor Macgregor Reviews...F For Fake

INTRO: Orson Welles was a filmmaker who took major risks and experimented with the medium of cinema to tell new ways of storytelling, and influence many generations that would follow. F For Fake is a film that goes completely left field, and opens up a niche new genre and style of filmmaking rarely told in the realm of cinema.

SUMMARY: Orson Welles' free-form documentary about fakery focusses on the notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory and Elmyr's biographer, Clifford Irving, who also wrote the celebrated fraudulent Howard Hughes autobiography, then touches on the reclusive Hughes and Welles' own career (which started with a faked resume and a phony Martian invasion). On the way, Welles plays a few tricks of his own on the audience.

THE GOOD: Well to call this a documentary is plain wrong. It's an essay film. And one of the first of its kind. Watching the way Orson tells the story is the biggest clue. He doesn't really connect his narrative with scenes, but more the thoughts of his subjects. The narrative is used magnificently to add creative detail to his story. Welles also stars in this piece, and delivers an almost iconic performance that is just as iconic as his many others.

THE BAD: If there is any bad, it maybe that it can be sometimes hard to follow in places. The intercutting between sequences sometimes leaves you a bit confused and makes you struggle to catch up, and so it could be perhaps explained a bit better at times.

OVERALL: F For Fake must be seen by all film students. Just so you can understand the different ways to make films and to tell stories and convey ideas. As well as appreciating the true genius that was Orson Welles.

RATING: 90% - A-

Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Terminator

INTRO: Science Fiction doesn't get as good as this. The kick start to one of the best film franchises in recent history, launching a major new action star in the process. Back in 1984, the world hadn't heard of James Cameron. But they were about to.

SUMMARY: A cyborg is sent from the future on a deadly mission. He has to kill Sarah Connor, a young woman whose life will have a great significance in years to come. Sarah has only one protector - Kyle Reese - also sent from the future. The Terminator uses his exceptional intelligence and strength to find Sarah, but is there any way to stop the seemingly indestructible cyborg ?

THE GOOD: For me, it's a film that is a pure breath of fresh air story-wise. The gritty ill stench feeling and atmosphere that this film presents right in the centre of the 80s is a contrast to the shiny sparkly films that the 80s tends to throw out. The phrase 'Tech Noir' is often thrown around and I can see why. It has that noir edge whilst staying very modern. Everyone here goes a great job. Arnold, Linda, Michael, etc. All top-notch performances that really make you buy into the story and what's ultimately at stake. Then there's the action which is great. The car chases, the shootouts particularly the one in the police station, and then the final chase sequence which goes in 3-4 acts overall. It's very suspenseful and gripping.

THE BAD: There really isn't much bad in this film at all. What I will say is that the film runs faster than I remember. Its about the 100 minute range, but felt quite quick in terms of pacing. Something to note from my end anyway.

OVERALL: Terminator is an original gripping Sci Fi film that is both entertaining, gritty and intense to watch. One of the modern classics of Sci Fi cinema if there ever was one.

RATING: 92% - A

Connor Macgregor Reviews...Terminator 2: Judgement Day

INTRO: Terminator was a smash hit in 1984, cementing Arnie as a cultural icon, and kicking off James Cameron's spectacular filmmaking career in the process. 7 years later, and it was finally time for the sequel. And this was no ordinary sequel.

SUMMARY: Over 10 years have passed since the first robot called The Terminator tried to kill Sarah Connor and her unborn son, John. The man who will become the future leader of the human resistance against the Machines is now a healthy young boy. However, another Terminator, called the T-1000, is sent back through time by the supercomputer Skynet. This new Terminator is more advanced and more powerful than its predecessor and its mission is to kill John Connor when he's still a child. However, Sarah and John do not have to face the threat of the T-1000 alone. Another Terminator (identical to the same model that tried and failed to kill Sarah Conner in 1984) is also sent back through time. This Terminator has been reprogrammed by the future Resistance on the orders of adult John. This Terminator's mission is to protect John and Sarah Connor at all costs. The battle for tomorrow has begun.

STORY & CHARACTERS: The story of Terminator 2 is deeper, more developed and the stakes much higher. With John Connor now in the picture, the target drifts from Sarah onto him. Edward Furlong plays a troubled, cocky yet resourceful child with the ability to get himself out of difficult situations and display early leadership skills for the oncoming fight. Sarah Connor is also very different. More bitter, cynical, and hardened. She's a colder character from before, and more battle prepped. The T-800 also has a fun character arc, learning more about human emotions and developing a somewhat curious personality. The villain is the T-1000 and arguably one of the best in film cinema. His ruthless pursuit of the trio, and twice as powerful as the T-800 in every way. Smaller roles include: Miles Dyson, one of the people working on an early Skynet who comes midway into the film and plays an important role, as well as Dr. Silverman, a therapist from the first film with now a larger role. Not the nicest of characters in this story, and definitely one you feel little sympathy for.

ACTION: The action goes up a notch in this film, going far and beyond Terminator 1 and creating action set pieces that stand the test of time. Even the smaller ones are impressive and exciting. And that's the key word: exciting. James Cameron can film and create exciting action sequences that make this film so fantastic when watching it. Whether its the extended chase sequence with John, The T-1000 and The T-800, or the long sequence in Cyberdyme with the four protagonists & the police. You're never bored, you're constantly entertained, and it folds perfectly into the next plot point.

EFFECTS: What makes Terminator 2 such a stand out is the groundbreaking visual effects of this time. The T-1000 is a marvel of its time, breaking the ground in effects and using the cutting edge technology of its time to create a menacing, almost unstoppable villain challenging The T-800. It allows for some really iconic moments in the film, as well as luring the audience into a sense of awe and astonishment. The practical effects act as a sweet companion to these moments when nessacary, with Stan Winston at work as the master of practical effects.

OVERALL: Terminator 2 is one of the greatest sequels ever made, with the top-notch story, phenomenal character arcs, groundbreaking effects and action scenes to die for.

RATING: 100% - A+

Connor Macgregor Reviews…12 Years A Slave

INTRO: The 2013 Oscar race was really only about one film. One film that reminded us of the horror of American history, and how still to this day there are many stories yet to be told about the brutality and evil of slavery. 12 Years A Slave is one of those stories.

SUMMARY: Based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.

STORY: This is a film that does not censor. It showcases the horror, the unfairness and the inhuman actions that comes with slavery. The narrative spans 12 years and well woven and documents in detail the divide between black and white. It’s a great screenplay and is well directed overall by Steve McQueen.

PERFORMANCES: There isn’t a foot wrong with any of these performances, all of which were oscar nominated, and even winners for some. Chiwetel Ejiofor is of course the stand out and the one in which your emotion is drawn to the most, potraying a character in the worst of hells and the cruellest of situations. It’s brilliant. One of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time of viewing films. Chiwetel can do himself proud. But also you have others. Lupita Nyong’o is wonderful too, winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress deservedly. Michael Fassbender is fierce and terrifying as the slave owner Edwin Epps and absolutely shakes you with fear at just how morally empty he is as a villain.

OVERALL: 12 Years A Slave is undoubtedly one of the most important and powerful films to come out of Hollywood in recent years. The performances masterful, the narrative flowing at a perfect pace, and one of the most deserving oscar films in recent times. A film to absolutely be seen.

RATING: 100% - A+

Connor Macgregor Reviews…Paprika

INTRO: Paprika was one of those films I was really looking forward to watching. And when I finally got round to it, I was left with such a gift of cinema that I couldn’t wait to share. Paprika is undoubtedly one of the great treats of my cinematic journey.

SUMMARY: Three scientists at the Foundation for Psychiatric Research fail to secure a device they've invented, the D.C. Mini, which allows people to record and watch their dreams. A thief uses the device to enter people's minds, when awake, and distract them with their own dreams and those of others. Chaos ensues. The trio - Chiba, Tokita, and Shima - assisted by a police inspector and by a sprite named Paprika must try to identify the thief as they ward off the thief's attacks on their own psyches. Dreams, reality, and the movies merge, while characters question the limits of science and the wisdom of Big Brother.

WEIRD BUT GOOD: Paprika is almost like a mind trip in many ways. It takes turns within the story you weren’t expecting, and because its animation, it can do editing tricks that live action simply can’t do as well. I love how delightfully weird the film can be, playing with the dreams and the reality of navigating them. The way the film lures you into this world is almost perfect. You’re intriguied, curious and eager for more.

SCORE & VISUALS: I love the music of this film. Something about it makes this film come alive and be its own spirit. It’s techno and futuristic at times, but at other times beautiful and poetic, conjouring up all the right emotions appropriate for the film. And then visually, it’s utter beautiful. Whether its the angles of shots, the editing, and the clever little tricks director Satoski Kon pulls off to make this film such an influential piece that filmmakers like Christopher Nolan stole from.

OVERALL: I found Paprika a memorable watch. An anime with breathtaking editing and imagination, as well as a story that takes you to places and scenarios you never thought possible. Take a bow Satochi Kon.

RATING - 100% - A+

Connor Macgregor Reviews…Bad Times At The El Royale

INTRO: Bad Times was a film that had an intriguing premise and a great cast that is diverse and different. Would this film live up to its star sudded acting talent and mysterious story?

SUMMARY: Six strangers, (Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cailee Spaeny and Lewis Pullman) each with their own secrets, meet at the El Royale hotel of Lake Tahoe. Taking place over one night, alliances are made and secrets are revealed.

CAST: For me, the cast are very strong here. All playing very eerie and unknown characters with a cloud of mystery to them. The highlight for me is hard, because they all have their golden moments. But Chris Hemsworth has a very flashy showy role which will surprise people of his versitility as an actor. Cynthia Erivo is also good, and has a sweet role to her name.

STORY: The story is good. Keeping you on your toes and giving you twist after twist as it goes on. The film is primarly set in this hotel which adds some excellent character to the film’s overall tone. The story reveals the true intentions of the characters like an onion. Peeling off layers one part at a time before the film’s climax showcases the true self of what is going on. Well written and well directed as a result.

OVERALL: With a great story, wonderful cast, and plenty of twists, Bad Times is a great watch. Wonderfully acted and with a sense of mystery and great storytelling rarely done in Hollywood today.

RATING: 100% - A+

Connor Macgregor Reviews…Samba

INTRO: My journey over recent years into French cinema has found me favouring the more modern works over its classics. And this entry from 2014 is argueably a fantastic look at France’s relationship with immigrants, as well as terrific performances all round.

SUMMARY: Samba migrated to France ten years ago from Senegal, and has since been plugging away at various lowly jobs. Alice is a senior executive who has recently undergone a burn-out. Both struggle to get out of their dead-end lives. Samba's willing to do whatever it takes to get working papers, while Alice tries to get her life back on track until fate draws them together.

CAST: For one, the quartet of the main cast here is a big contribution to the film’s success. Omar Sy is the lead and a great lead to his name. Sympathetic, likable and very easy to win over, he plays a character fighting to get by and build a good life within the french capital. He falls for a character played by Charlotte Gainsbourg who plays an immigrant officer in which they begin a touching relationship. Also featured is Izia Higelin, who is also wonderful in this film, also playing an immigrant officer, albeit one who is a lot more cheeky. Lastly there is Tahar Rahim who plays a likeable friend to Omar Sy’s character.

STORY: I found the story very well told. A film that has a sympathetic commentary towards immigrants, and successfully tells their struggle to make a decent living within Paris. It’s well written, well directed and contains a strong sense of earthiness while also being warm and funny too. It’s a very informative tale and doesn’t hold back on some of the darker aspects of immigration.

OVERALL: Samba is a delight. A warm and important story about people who sacrifice plenty for a better life elsewhere. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and hope others discover it and embellish in its magnificence.

RATING: 100% - A+

Connor Macgregor Reviews…Fighting With My Family

INTRO: I don’t watch much pro wrestling anymore. Actually take that back. I don’t watch WWE anymore. When you hear too many stomach-churning stories about how they work backstage, and all the murky Malachy they’ve been up to, it makes you feel a bit fooled that you were ever a fan of that company. So it felt a bit dirty picking up Fighting With My Family off the DVD shelves and thrusting it into my DVD player to watch what is undoubtedly WWE propaganda.

SUMMARY: A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.

THE GOOD: To say this film is downright bad is a lie. The cast in this film is well placed, and naturally, work. The family is well-acted, with each member offering their own input within the four-way structure. Florence Pugh, the star, takes front and centre in this film and is very much the beating heart of the film, as he juggles personal ambition, pressure and bewilderment of a world she had known only through her television set. Jack Lowden plays the older brother, and ultimately the one whose dream gets destroyed due to the high standards of the WWE. He plays bitterness well, and provides a moral dilemma for Florence Pugh’s character as to whether leaving her family behind is a selfish move or not. The parents are wonderfully acted by Nick Frost & Lena Headey, playing a very real, authentic feeling couple that seem like the type who have been in the wrestling business for a very long time. Smaller roles by Vince Vaughn and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson add to the realism and authenticity of being in the world of WWE.

THE BAD: So it’s pretty obvious who’s behind this glowing tribute to the world of WWE. WWE! Given that WWE Studios is front and centre of this film’s production, there was no way in hell that they would portray the company in any negative light. Despite various ex-wrestlers bullet pointing all the problems that have and still strongly exist in the company, the WWE has wielded a strong job in painting themselves perfect incarnate to the rest of the world whose knowledge of wrestling is limiting. I wasn’t fooled as such, and so watching this film, I always had a cynical eye open for anything that seemed a bit too formulaic or too unbelievable to settle into.

OVERALL: Despite my hesitance with trusting WWE, Fighting With My Family will have its fans who are eager to learn more about wrestler Paige’s roots, as well as the inner workings of the professional wrestling industry. Well acted, good stunts and a generally strong piece of work.

RATING: 61% - B

Connor Macgregor Reviews…Last Christmas

INTRO: With Game Of Thrones ending last year, every cast member’s first project post series was going to be important, none more so for Emilia Clarke, whose own personal ending to the series was one of bitter division. And this project if anything plays to her strengths massively. Humour, warmth, with a little bit of cynicism thrown in. Last Christmas maybe the making of Emilia Clarke.

SUMMARY: Kate is a young woman subscribed to bad decisions. Working as an elf in a year round Christmas store is not good for the wannabe singer. However, she meets Tom there. Her life takes a new turn. For Kate, it seems too good to be true.

THE GOOD: We’ll start with the star of the show herself. Emilia Clarke shines brightly in this film, playing a character whose own health is at loggerheads, whose outlook on life is at a low, and is struggling to find the meaning of Christmas again. Clarke plays this role well, making her perspective an intriguing and insightful one. As you peel off the skin of her life, you get a good read as to how she ended up in the position she is, and her battle to return somewhere light. Beside her is Henry Golding, a mysterious yet wonderful performance that builds up a relationship that absorbs you into the story well, providing us with that Christmas joy and magic the film promised us. With that, I love also the film’s positive vibe. It can be a very upbeat and joyful experience to watch, a must for any Christmas film destined to succeed with audiences. Whether it’s upbeat musical numbers, or clever jokes, the film never puts a downer on itself, even when the film enters serious matter.

THE BAD: An argument can be made that the film can be a bit too champagne liberal at times, addressing issues and political topics without really any substance or meaning to them. I found that eye-rolling, but nothing that genuinely offended me in any way. Something to learn perhaps in future films.

OVERALL: I enjoyed Last Christmas. Emilia Clarke stars in a warm and wonderful festive film that delivers on humor, relationships and general positive vibes. Definitely a future Christmas classic.

RATING: 81% - A-

Connor Macgregor Reviews...Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker

INTRO: The final Star Wars film in the ‘Skywalker Saga’ has the responsibility of wrapping up nine films and over four decades of story within two and a half hours. Tall feet. Yet the film does in a way achieve some level of entertainment, as well as dramatic storytelling and sensational visual effects.

SUMMARY: While the First Order continues to ravage the galaxy, Rey finalizes her training as a Jedi. But danger suddenly rises from the ashes as the evil Emperor Palpatine mysteriously returns from the dead. While working with Finn and Poe Dameron to fulfill a new mission, Rey will not only face Kylo Ren once more, but she will also finally discover the truth about her parents as well as a deadly secret that could determine her future and the fate of the ultimate final showdown that is to come

THE GOOD: What I like about this film (and to a degree, the whole sequel trilogy overall) is that it has a very strong feeling of adventure. The film feels like an adventure from beginning to end, and it just adds to the thrill ride of the film. From one location to another, it just leaves you hooked and excited throughout. Granted sure it can be a bit rushed as it nears the third act, but it none the less feels old school and classic as it keeps going. Another thing is, of course, the visual effects that have been of strong standard throughout the trilogy. But here, in particular, it really is wonderful. Atmospheric, playful, and marries both practical and CGI wonderfully. One particular shot that jumps out is the shot of all the Star Destroyers in the thunder. Fantastic and very eerie as a result.

THE BAD: As much as there is a lot of fan service, there is one or two missed out that would’ve been wonderful. The final scene could have been better, as well as extending other aspects of the plot also. One other controversial element was the return of The Emperor. I just felt it either could’ve been better or not done at all. Granted, Ian McDiarmid’s performance is great as always, yet it’s the script and direction of the character that fails him in many ways.

OVERALL: I think The Rise Of Skywalker is a nice end to Star Wars, but as always could’ve been much better. Great effects, performances and set pieces all marry each other well, yet little things fail to make it a complete and special experience.

RATING: 84% - A-

Connor Macgregor Reviews…The Mystery Of Henri Pick

INTRO: Attending the UK French Film Festival this year was a real treat. Having the opportunity to watch some of the best French films of 2019 was oh so glorious. And out of many, The Mystery Of Henri Pick shone above the pack by a country mile.

SUMMARY: An editor discovers a novel that she considers to be a masterpiece, in a library whose particularity is to collect the manuscripts refused by the publishers. The text is signed Henri Pick, a Breton pizza maker who died two years earlier.

STORY: The film’s main achievement is its excellent story that weaves from beginning to end effortlessly. Twist after twist emerges, which doesn’t stifle nor destroy the impressive build up that has taken place throughout the film. Decisions are made with realism and within character, and the climax is a payoff with impressive ends.

CAST: I really enjoyed the cast in this one. Everyone put no foot wrong and it shows. Fabrice Luchini is the star of the film and plays a cynical, annoying yet brilliantly fun character who can’t seem to give up on this emerging mystery that he can’t help but dig further and further into. Alice Isaaz is also great in this, despite being supporting. Camille Cottin is also good as the daughter of the mysterious novelist in question, and Bastien Bouillon is also impressive as the struggling novelist.

OTHER: I really enjoyed this light-hearted yet curious tone the film presented to me. It wasn’t a dark brooding thriller, but more fun. More fanciful. A mystery which never really had any dire consequence or threat attached to it, which I found quite refreshing in a mystery film. The locations are good as always with a French film, shooting the capital quite nicely, as well as the outer city shoots in the village and various other locations too.

OVERALL: I really enjoyed this film and bore a refreshing watch from the more typical downbeat realist cinema France tends to always produce. With great performances, an intriguing plot, The Mystery Of Henri Pick is a rewarding cinematic watch.

RATING: 94% - A

Connor Macgregor Reviews…Thoroughbreds

INTRO: I first saw this at the London Film Festival, not really expecting much. What I got was a film full of bleak, cynical, yet hilarious subject matter about wealth, murder and depression.

SUMMARY: In suburban Connecticut, upper-class high schooler Amanda (Olivia Cooke) euthanizes her crippled horse with a knife, resulting in charges of animal cruelty. Some time later, Amanda arrives at the home of the more popular and academically-inclined Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy). The girls had previously been best friends but grew apart after the death of Lily's father. They meet under the pretense of hanging out and having a casual tutoring session, but Amanda knows that her mother (Kaili Vernoff) has paid Lily to socialize with Amanda. Lily denies being paid, but Amanda, left emotionless by an unspecified mental disorder, is unfazed. Lily meets with Amanda again, this time voluntarily, and they rekindle their friendship..

ANYA & OLIVIA: The film’s main success comes down to the duel performance of Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke, playing the two friends. Their relationship is odd yet very good to watch. Amanda is basically this twisted character with mental health problems, in which Lily is forced to socialise with. Both actresses are good and play off one another very well, with the story taking them to areas of quite dark areas.

BLACK COMEDY: The black comedy element in this film is also very good, and another key strength of the film. As the story pans out, it becomes a lot more twisted and unbelievable to watch, but in a good way. I like some of the humour in the film, as well as just the awkward atmosphere sometimes that emerges throughout the film.

OVERALL: I really enjoyed Thoroughbreds and I would recommend it to anyone who really likes twisted ideas and fans of Anya & Olivia will really benefit from this.

RATING: 91% - A

Connor Macgregor Reviews…Portrait Of A Lady On Fire

INTRO: I saw this a lot earlier than most people could, as it premiered at the UK French Film Festival, therefore being a preview for myself, yet it already made a massive splash in France last year, being nominated for a ton of Cesar Awards in the process.

SUMMARY: In 18th century France a young painter, Marianne, is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse without her knowing. Therefore, Marianne must observe her model by day to paint her portrait at night. Day by day, the two women become closer as they share Héloïse's last moments of freedom before the impending wedding.

THE GOOD: I really liked the chemistry of the two leads, building an effective and believable romance through a two hour narrative, with only four major speaking parts throughout the film. Incredible. Bravo to Naomie Merlant & Adele Haenel for delivering very affectionate performances which have a fascinating arc, and an effective conclusion. The ending of the film is actually very haunting and quite chilling in its very strange way. Without spoiling it, it gives you a sense of how special their time was with each other, before venturing out into the society they lived in at that time.

THE BAD: The two hour narrative can unfortunately drag the film a bit sometimes, introducing some plots which don’t really serve a purpose to the main story, as well as making some scenes a bit dull or unneeded. There is also a lack of atmosphere too, with no real tone or mood established via score or effects. When it’s wholly down to acting, it can be challenging to really be absorbed in the environment and ideas the film is trying to convey.

OVERALL: Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is a good film, though Celine Sciamma has done better in her filmography, which I will get to later. Strong performances make the film strong, yet it lacks in other areas and is therefore not as fulfilling as an experience as some other modern romance films previously.

RATING: 73% - B+

Connor Macgregor Reviews…Girlhood

INTRO: Prior to Portrait, there was Girlhood. Celina Sciamma’s third feature is one of the realest and intriguing of coming of age stories, with a cast that are very much in the centre of the moral compass, and balance themselves between lovable and cruel.

SUMMARY: Oppressed by her family setting, dead-end school prospects and the boys law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of 3 free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping that this will be a way to freedom.

THE GOOD: The main selling point of this film is the four girls taking centre stage of the film. Headlined by Karidja Toure, the film’s casting is excellent, with characters that have both kind and ruthless personalities to them, as society forces them down paths which they are not always likable. Karidja Toure herself is brilliant in this film. Transforming herself when necessary, her performance is wonderful and really helps understand both her struggles and the environment she has been raised in. Special shoutout to the 'Diamonds' scene in the hotel. If you've seen the film, you'll know what I'm talking about.

THE BAD: Only one little thing I didn’t like: The ending. I hated that it was open ended and really wanted more of a resolution to Marianne’s arc. I feel that open ended films only work when the characters themselves have been through enough change that the audience can sort of figure out for themselves where they are going. Yet with Girlhood, I was still uncertain what was going to happen next and felt that I wanted to have an ending more closed and final for the character.

OVERALL: Girlhood is a splendid film with rich performances and an interesting commentary on race and class in France, particularly in Paris. Karidja Toure’s career launches via this film, and Celine Sciamma cements herself as one of France’s most daring filmmakers.

RATING: 83% - A-