Bright Bees Masthead

2018: The Summer of Movies

Roslyn Hull

I am having a great summer, movie-wise!

I’ve been back to the Starstruck exhibition at the NPG and confirmed it is glorious – and I’ve seen three of the five movies I listed in the Summer magazine. So far so really very good.

I must not be a rabid Star Wars fan – take my t-shirts, books, figures, working models but please leave me my Death Star necklace – because, unlike the ones attacking the interweb with their anger I absolutely loved The Last Jedi. Could I have done with one less shot of the island monastery? Yes. Would I have surrendered another moment of the film? Hell no! I could go back and watch it tomorrow. I thought the story was rich and really carried the saga forward. The development of the ‘new’ characters was great and I cannot wait to see what happens next for Kylo Ren and Rey. Worth it just to see Poe gets bi**hslapped by his general. She was/is my general too and the scene between Luke and Leia had such sadness for me, knowing she is gone.

Paddington 2 is so sweet and gentle I would recommend it for families, even if they did not see the first one. The gaol scenes are so far over the top but seeing Brendan Gleeson and Hugh Grant hamming it up is worth the price of a ticket.

Then there is The Greatest Showman. If Zendaya and Zac weren’t starring in this I would have said it had been made in the 1950s by MGM … except that the utterly catchy musical numbers have a very modern feel (written by last year’s Oscars™ power couple – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) … and the chunky, foot stomping, gravity-defying choreography could only belong to this century.

It is not the true-life story of P.T. – all the notes say ‘Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum’. Therefore it has been damned in some press for not telling the real story, for glossing over his treatment of his troupe of ‘oddities’. I would counter by saying there are many ways to get a message across and punching the audience in the eye is not the only answer. In what was an incredibly upbeat movie the most shocking moments are when he excludes his troupe from a party where he is trying to impress New York society. All he does is shut the door but the audience I saw it with gasped.

Then the bearded lady (the amazing Keala Settle) sings a showstopper (This is Me), standing proud in front of a protesting mob and I heard at least one ‘Yeah!’ and noted a couple of fist pumps. It is catchy as hell, life affirming and powerful.

This is the movie Hugh Jackman has wanted to make for a long time and it uses all his talents: athleticism, voice and sharp moves. And acting, of course. It could easily have been the Hugh Jackman showcase but he is the sort of graceful team player that lets everyone shine. From the first-time feature director, Australian Michael Gracey to another Aussie, Sam Humphrey, playing the world’s smallest man he is the force that brought them together.

The trapeze artist (Zendaya – who did all her own high wire) and the posh playwright (Efron) have a beautiful number (Rewrite the Stars) which must have been terrifying to film but comes across as pure magic. Gravity seems optional and magic possible, if only for a moment.

The big surprise for me has been Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. I saw after my first day back at work and laughed my head off. The board game from the first film is ‘updated’ into a 1990s video game with the sort of avatars that were standard at the time and, like the first film, one player gets sucked in (literally) and then it waits for others to join the game. It is these others, playing waaay against their real world ‘types’ that make the story a lot of fun. It is loud, it’s action-packed and Jack Black playing a 15-year-old girl is dream casting. He does not sink into caricature but plays it with sincerity and hilarity. The Rock is great but beware, watch out when he activates his smoulder. Karen Gillan (Amy Pond for any Whovians) is so much fun as the Lara Croft types badass girl. Her strength is dance fighting and she spends most of the film trying to hide her bare midriff.

Phew!

But wait, there’s more. If you didn’t see Breathe during its festival, now is your chance. It truly is a beautiful, thoughtful movie and an homage to two amazing people.

There are still other films I haven’t seen yet and am really looking forward to too. With the heat set to rise again, even if you can’t get to the coast, you can get a ticket to an air-conditioned cinema.

Feature image: facebook.com/pg/GreatestShowman

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Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author

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