Manchester By The Sea

Director: Kenneth Lonergan (2017) BBFC cert: 15

A torrent of emotion sweeps through a sleepy harbour town in this powerful family drama.

Beautifully written, performed and photographed, this is a grown up film destined to sail straight to the Oscars.

Casey Affleck is favourite to bag the best actor award and is heart achingly good as hardworking handyman, Lee.

When his older brother Joe, passes away, Lee is called back to his home town of Manchester by the Sea. It’s a rough edged port, full of sad charm.

The ever dependable Kyle Chandler creates a lasting impression in fleeting flashback as Joe, bequeathing his most valuable possession to his brothers care.

Lee is far from prepared to be named as the legal guardian of his sixteen year old teenage nephew, Patrick.

Lucas Hedges is superbly sarcastic as the wannabee musician, struggling to persuade Lee to let him stay in the family home.

These two damaged souls rub up against each other, stuck together and seemingly indifferent to repairing a once tender relationship.

Plus Lee can’t avoid her running into his sharp-mouthed ex-wife.

Bringing plenty of bite to her role, Michelle Williams has less screen time than we’d like but she shares the most effecting scenes.

The story has sympathy for its characters. A less humane film may have condemned the for their failings but its clear they’re suffering enough.

Director and writer Kenneth Lonergan’s day job is as a playwright, and it’s easy to imagine this being adapted from or to the stage.

Relentless squalls of black humour and sharp dialogue flow from a beautifully crafted script, keeping our spirits up as the script plunges into some emotionally testing waters.

A haunting soundtrack achieves a miraculous harmony alongside merry pop tunes. Guaranteed to make you cry, it’s also surprisingly and consistently funny, so you’ll be laughing through your tears.

Everyone should find time to visit.


La La Land

Director: Damien Chazelle (2017) BBFC cert: 12A

Be swept off your feet by this swooning romantic musical.

Unashamedly nostalgic for the music, movies, stars and Los Angeles of yesteryear, this fabulous fantasy is a sumptuous love letter to Hollywood’s golden age classics such as Singin’ In The Rain (1952) and An American In Paris (1951).

The ridiculously attractive Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in their third film together, and their irresistible chemistry continues to burn through the screen. While neither are great singers or dancers, the film doesn’t pretend they are, adding to the honesty and charm of their performances.

Their characters meet in a gridlocked highway, a metaphor for their lives going nowhere. As the traffic jam becomes a joyful dance number, it’s tempered with the sting of frustration, and the tone scene is set for the story to come.

Gosling plays Sebastian, a struggling jazz pianist with dreams of opening a jazz club. His life takes a left turn when he meets the aspiring actress, Mia. Between auditions she works as a coffee shop waitress at the Warner Brothers studio.

Matching her dance partner step for step but having the more difficult part of doing it backwards and in high heels, Stone offers astonishing levels of heartbreaking vulnerability.

Though Gosling’s talent means he’s far from just window dressing, Stone owns the film. As the pair follow their dreams, they discover compromises must be made when balancing art and commerce.

La La Land‘s deserved record breaking sweep of seven Golden Globe awards has seen bookies make it the favourite for this years top Oscars and its easy to see why.

This is a dreamy, delirious and delightful concoction of high stepping choreography and toe tapping compositions. It’s bursting with sexy energy, eye popping colour and soaring ambition.

Go ga ga for La La Land and shower yourself with tinsel town stardust.