Jay Roach’s ‘Bombshell’ is both educational and empathetic to women of #MeToo

When you think of ‘Fox News’, the typical context you may vision is one of Donald Trump, capitalist America and sensationalist media and this just so happens to be the political backdrop of Jay Roach’s new movie, ‘Bombshell’ which takes place during the 2016 presidential election and is based on true events.

The film which has been praised by critics and audiences, stars Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman as workers for Fox News. The first thing to note, is as these characters are introduced, each with their own story which interwines with each other, is that the makeup transformation is phenomenal. Kazu Hiro who is known for the makeup behind ‘The Darkest Hour’, gives each of these women a different identity and character that almost makes them unrecognizable. Theron is the one who appears most authentic; she plays powerhouse news anchor Megyn Kelly who the audience gathers is the favourite at Fox. With her piercing eyes, confident gaze and leading stride, it is clear that once again, Theron puts her whole being into her roles.

In order to play Megyn, Theron had to train with a specialist vocal coach and ended up losing her voice. But it’s worth it- she appears unphased, confident and strong all at once, even though her story tells us she is holding it all in. The sound from her anxious heartbeat echoes around the cinema, as she prepares to read the news after becoming it herself after upsetting Trump. It’s a strange moment as you watch- Megyn is a republican news anchor, voicing controversial opinions on air whilst going after Trump. You’re almost not sure whether you can support her as a protagonist, but she’s typical of republican middle class women in America who want to be recognized for their success and dedication, so you can understand the representation.

Kidman plays Gretchen, a news anchor who was demoted after standing up for herself. She kicks off the events of the film, and it’s through her lenses that we see Fox News CEO Roger Ailes as a nemesis- he insults and belittles her and she’s skeptical of what goes on around her as she sees various women go to his office. “You gotta give a little head to get ahead” she mocks him to her lawyers, ready to sue him for harassment in the hope other women will come forward. She’s nonchalant, but eyes darken as she gets more emotional. Kidman’s portrayal is both stunning and sad, she sacrificed all her potential and her career to free other women. Nevertheless, it’s her relationship with Megyn that strikes as interesting in the film. They have been pinned against each other by Ailes, as both of them were news anchors. Megyn was allowed to become the shining star, and Gretchen was put down and demoted. They don’t have a conversation until the middle of the film, but there are moments where they look upon each other, like they have something unspoken in common. It’s these moments that are powerful beyond belief, because nothing has to be insinuated, the audience just knows.

Megyn, Gretchen and Kayla

Margot Robbie plays Kayla, who starts off by producing for Gretchen on her afternoon show. Wanting to become a news anchor herself, she visits Ailes in person, but becomes his latest victim. Young and naïve, we watch Kayla’s world fall apart in Ailes’ office. ‘Stand up and do a twirl’ he beckons at her, but tells her to keep raising her dress until it’s over her underwear. The camera’s close ups of her face as it happens are heartbreaking. Her composure is outstanding, but the emotions are clear. It’s in this moment, we realise Kayla is trapped. She tries to ask for support from a colleague, but the colleague declines saying ‘it’s better if you don’t involve me in this’ as if it’s common knowledge of what Ailes does. Like every #MeToo case though, everybody is suddenly silent when the harassment case goes public. The way in which Robbie plays Kayla, is demanding to be seen. Her naïve and submissive big smiles, that we can all empathise with when we all start new jobs, to her angry and clouded demeanor, not just about the situation, but about the world around her. We know that she chose Fox News because her family have always regarded it highly and they are very Christian and attend church often, so much so that Kayla has ‘church jeans’ so she can balance her coffee on her knee. It’s these details that show how broken Kayla’s faith is, she’s a little bird that wanted the world and now just wants to be set free.

Bombshell is being regarded as the first #MeToo film, and watching it almost feels historical. Although the director and writer are male, the way in which it has been written and put together is so empathetic to existing victims, the story and the cause, that there is no criticism on their behalf. Theron was also a producer for this film, and the Mise en scene is so fitting for the story.

From the clips of Roger Ailes shouting to the gallery to do more wide shots to ‘show more leg’, to the slim fitting tight dresses- we can see that this is a sexualized, high pressured environment that knocks down Women. We often hear Megyn saying ‘don’t call me a feminist’ like it’s a dirty, taboo word in the office- and the truth is, it probably was.

What is intelligently articulated in the film is it’s understanding of societal structures and media influence. We understand from the dialogue that the Murdoch’s (the family of media mogul Rupert Murdoch) work on the eighth floor, and although Roger is the CEO, Rupert makes the decisions and Roger leads the team on how to influence to make the decision happen. We see this with the film using archive footage and explaining how when Murdoch wants a president elected, the news team have to do everything in their power to make sure they are- it’s the news teams responsibility. When the news anchors speak up about this, for example with Megyn’s distaste towards trump, it’s treated like a betrayal, like a damaging execution of freedom of speech. It shows us how our media plays a game, builds us an image and creates our future.

Bombshell will pave the way for more films like this. It’s educational, it’s sociological and has Journalistic tendencies that are so compelling considering we all consume news. Those themes overlapped with a feminist #MeToo story that put us in the shoes of three different women is so powerful, heartbreaking and inspiring that I can’t imagine this film not stealing any awards in the awards season. It’s definitely one not to miss.

Is 'Cats' truly as terrible as the internet is making out to be?

Tom Hooper’s ‘Cats’ adaptation (based on the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber) has faced much criticism online. But the musical film, is scoring fairly average reviews from critics. We sent a reporter to see if the film is truly as bad as social media is making it out to be.

If an empty cinema is a message, this was a definitive bad omen. During the trailers, I thought back to the anticipation of this film and the star studded cast that marketed the next instalment in Hollywood’s trend of musical blockbusters. Since the success of ‘La La Land’ and ‘The Greatest Showman’ we have seen the market change towards a commodity for musical based films. So when I first saw the trailer for ‘Cats’ I expected it to become the next hit film, with no doubts in my mind whether it would be a success or not. But a few days since the premiere, and the critical reviews were flooding in with no mercy, leaving the film becoming nothing more than a meme. However, with such a celebrity cast and notorious soundtrack, I doubted it could be as bad as they claimed it was so I began my experience with an open mind.

Not even the decent cast members could save you from this film

THE CGI

The first thing to note, is during the first five minutes it became clear how awful the CGI was. Bodies blur whilst dancing, the scale of the setting is not to scale in comparison with how big cats are- in one scene that takes place under a kitchen table, you only see a tiny amount of table leg, depicting that the cats are somehow miniature. The setting isn’t very HD throughout, there is a very 2000’s film esque situation behind the main characters at all times, and it becomes distracting from the plot and soundtrack of the film- in fact, the CGI wasn’t ready for this film and I don’t think the audience was either.

THE SOUNDTRACK

Those musical buffs would have been studying the soundtrack more than anything else, so it’s a massive factor when considering the whole film. The soundtrack was one of the highest points for me, it was executed well, the songs were catchy and you cannot miss Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of ‘memory’- the iconic song from the musical. The downside, is the song Taylor Swift performs, where she has to do a British accent and she ends up sounding Australian- another distracting moment from the plot.

THE CAST

I think the cast was the main selling point, and with big names like Dame Judy Dench and Sir Ian McKellen, it was going to be interesting to see how it plays out. I will admit, that most of the cast were excellent. I was most shocked by Jason Derulo, having not seen him act in anything before he was great, and his British accent was fantastic also, even when singing. Idris Elba as Macavity was a welcome casting, and couldn’t have been any better. Dench and McKellen were exceptional as always, but the true stars were Jennifer Hudson and Francesca Hayward for me. Both of them were brilliant singers, dancers and actors, even with the dodgy CGI behind them they still stood out.

What annoyed me when watching the film, was how unnecessary some castings and quotes were. Rebel Wilson was meant to be a comedic role, but instead created a cringe factor that dampened the viewing. James Corden was near enough the same, although America adores him in anything so it’s clear why he was chosen. Taylor Swift should not have been in the film full stop, her accent was terrible and her character had no real value which made the audience look puzzled. What this film has in great characters, they also made up for in bad- which is probably why this film is only getting average reviews.

OUR PERSPECTIVE

All in all, it’s clear to see why this film has mixed and average reviews and also why musical fans were left disappointed. Much like an unfinished school project, it had plenty of potential but failed to reach those top barriers in order to get better reviews. It is disappointing though as it casts a shadow over the actors who really made the film. One thing is for sure though, I guarantee the DVD sales will soar due to those not wanting to spend money seeing it in the cinema.

'Spinning Out' sets the president for accurate mental health depiction in TV

New Netflix drama starring Kaya Scodelario and January Jones is being praised for it’s accurate depiction of mental health issues.

The show, which was released recently takes place in a town where many young people are trying to get to the olympics. Whether it’s for skiing, or Ice Skating, there is a competitive and high pressured nature that athletes face on a daily basis. Scodelario plays our protagonist, Katerina ‘Kat’ Baker, who is trying to make a comeback after having a dramatic fall during a competition that had severe consequences. Struggling with Bipolar disorder, like her Mother, Carol (played by January Jones) she is terrified of getting back on the ice and keeps popping her jumps. Finding a way to compete, she ends up pairing up with the arrogant and self indulged Justin who she tolerates; but soon they find a deeper understanding of each other, both on the ice and off the ice.

There are so many characters in this series that it almost comes across like a soap, but don’t be alarmed- as this is so well written that each character compliments the plot and it all ties together. Willow Shields (famous from the Hunger Games) plays Kat’s little sister, Serena, who struggles with both her mom and her sister having bipolar. Kat’s best friend, Marcus, becomes an essential character and love interest who the audience can’t help but route for. He has a storyline that revolves around race representation, another social issue that the writers have delivered really well- it’s not so in your face that it becomes a statement, but a subtle under tone that resolves the real life fears of having a different ethnicity in majority white towns.

British fans will recognise Scodelario from her brilliant depiction of mental health issues in the TV show ‘Skins’ where she played Effy Stonem, but she takes Kat’s disorder and makes it relatable and real- instead of a dramatic depiction we’re so used to seeing on TV.

During the ten episodes, we watch Kat grow and struggle, not only with ice skating, but with relationships, a part time job and family life. She is unpolished; a work in progress and due to her many injuries, we know how breakable she can be. But this is the beauty of the main character, and I think we need to see more characters like Kat on our screens. So often, we don’t see the main character making mistakes, testing the waters or being afraid. We don’t see vulnerability or resistance, we see a happy ending or a nemesis. Spinning Out is much more complex than most shows, but it’s all done subtly so we don’t miss a big moment, for it’s all little moments wrapped into one. The audience spins out with Kat, we are with her.

Mental Illness isn’t romanticised either, it’s treated with real consequences and awareness. So much so, Kaya Scodelario has praised charities on Twitter for helping her portray the role accurately.

Spinning Out is going to set the president for more shows with accurate mental health representation, and hopefully we’ll see a season 2 soon.

How Gervais became a taboo after the Golden Globes

Ricky Gervais opening monologue at the Golden Globes was driven with a heavy dose of shock factor, humour and unsolicited truth as he began the night in the most casual fashion. “You’ll be pleased to know, this is the last time I’ll be hosting these awards,” he began, before announcing to the whole award ceremony that he simply doesn’t care anymore. And this is the moment, where the traditional structure of a Hollywood awards ceremony is destroyed, because this is a moment where the superiority and pretence of celebrity and Hollywood as an institution, is categorically broken down throughout the night.

A moment which struck out like a knife, is his ode to Netflix. Now many know Gervais as a comedian, but just last year he had audiences sobbing and laughing at his Netflix show ‘Afterlife’ which he wrote, directed and starred in. So when he’s stood in front of memorable actors and actresses claiming that nobody goes to the cinema anymore, or cares about film because it’s all about Netflix, it hung in the air like a self depreciating joke. “You could binge watch the entire first season of Afterlife instead of watching this show” he flexes, whilst the camera cuts to celebrities in the audience either looking tipsy, or categorically perplexed. Now, while this may not have gone down well with the audience at the golden globes, it went down a storm with social media, especially young people on Twitter where they have branded Gervais a ‘modern day hero.’ However, many are expressing their anger towards his speeches on the night, using adjectives such as ‘arrogant’ and ‘chaotic’ to describe him.

The reception from the night was celebrated mostly for him mentioning Jeffrey Epstein and insinuating that most in the room were friends with him at some point- a breakthrough moment which had us pause for breath at home. And this was the only moment that wasn’t looked at negatively by those boycotting Gervais on Twitter.

The arrogant undertones and self promotion of his presenting style flowed through to the audience, who found the golden globes difficult to watch because of it. Claims that the ‘tradition of the night and rewards culture’ were destroyed because of his potent humour have been rife, and it’s looking like Gervais is skating on thin ice to becoming cancelled. Despite becoming somewhat of a taboo, he’s also being celebrated for his honesty’ and ‘cut throat’ approach to destroying the superficial nature of rewards systems. Whatever you may think of Gervais, it’s becoming clear that his speech had a love/hate approach but regardless, he’s become the biggest talking point of this decade so far.