The Pursuit of Happyness
★ ★ ★ ★
Before the credits had even rolled, this film had already left a lasting impression upon me, most notably for Will Smith’s performance as a single father struggling to rescue both himself and his son from the threat of poverty. The Pursuit of Happyness is set within the intensifying capitalism of the 1980s, and follows the father-son duo of Will and Jaden Smith, whose visibly tender relationship carries the immense emotional weight of this true story. Although the film serves as a damning retrospective of working-class social challenges, it remains a drama at its core, and is not afraid to exhibit Will Smith’s criminally under-utilised capacity for dramatic depth. The story itself is engaging, albeit highly predictable, however its formulaic nature never once detracts from its overall quality. The idea that family members are unable to successfully work together is rendered untrue by The Pursuit of Happyness.
Lost In Translation
★ ★ ★ ★
Lost In Translation is often considered to be a modern classic by critics and film aficionados alike, despite having only secured a single Academy Award. This film opens with a humble beginning; it appears to be another innocuous drama, that is, until Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson are each granted sufficient time in the limelight so as to draw us into their respective stories. Lost In Translation is a deeply moving study of relationships, and exploration of the bonds that we forge with those around us, paying particular attention to their position in the time and space of our lives; the central characters are introduced to each other abroad in a bar, and the platonic relationship that ensues could not have occurred at any other point in their lives. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a slow burn, wherein the characters are not afraid to take precedence over the narrative.
Blade Runner 2049
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I can safely admit that this is the first sequel film that has never made me question the validity of their continued existence. Blade Runner 2049 not only manages to expand upon the vibrant world that was crafted by its predecessor but it also serves as an encapsulating entry into the genre of science-fiction cinema in its own right. The CGI and set design is fantastic, it is clear from the outset of the film that a tremendous amount of care has been poured into ensuring that Blade Runner 2049 remains equally loyal to both its fanbase and the original film, and it goes without further elaboration that this commitment to detail has well and truly paid off. Harrison Ford also reprises his iconic role as Rick Deckard, and observant audiences are rewarded with a juxtaposition regarding the evolution of on-screen heroic masculinity between himself and Ryan Gosling.
★ ★ ★ ★
For an easier, more light-hearted watch, I would recommend The Terminal; for any fan of Tom Hanks, this is a must see. This film is also loosely based upon a true story, and although it hasn’t aged well in several minor aspects, the vast majority of the comedic lines in this film still land and make for a few laughs. As well as this, the story is breezy enough so that complete attention is not required in order to fully appreciate it. That is not to say that The Terminal is a lesser piece of work than the other films on this list, rather, sometimes it just proves more enjoyable to watch a man struggle to escape from an airport terminal than it is to mentally prepare yourself to focus upon an introspective work of film for the better part of three hours.
Alex Mulhare – Film & TV Writer