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BOBBYW223: ‘STAR WARS EPISODE VII’ REVIEW

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Sangeeta

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Music

In the Heights | Review

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Sometimes you watch a film, and you just can’t help but sit there for the entire time with a huge grin on your face. In the Heights is exactly that sort of film. It grabs you immediately with a huge song and dance and for the next two hours and twenty minutes it keeps you on a high with great music, exciting dance scenes as well as lots of emotion and a compelling story. This is exactly the sort of film we need right now and exactly the sort of film to get people back in the cinema. If you don’t want to see big flashy dance sequences on the biggest screen you can, and hear Lin-Manuel Miranda’s incredible songs on a great sound system, then I don’t know what else would get you back in a cinema.

In the Heights has a fairly simple set-up and it tells the story of Usnavi (played by Anthony Ramos) who runs a corner shop in Washington Heights in New York. But Usnavi has a dream of returning to the Dominican Republic. Everyone else in Washington Heights has their own dreams too and we meet a few other characters in the community and watch them as they strive to realise their dreams.

It’s a film that’s so bright and full of life. Its spirit is absolutely infectious that it makes you want to get out of your seat and start dancing around the cinema. At the very least it will have you tapping your foot or nodding your head along to the amazing songs. There are multiple big, musical numbers that do a phenomenal job of drawing you in and completely immersing you in the world of the film. One of the standout songs, “96,000” takes place in a swimming pool and took over two days to shoot and 500 extras. It’s really incredible how well put together all of the musical numbers are. The scale is huge with so many extras and so many people dancing but they all look so well-polished and they’re all absolutely flawless.

The music and the energy of the film is enough to convince you that the movies are back. In the Heights is the very definition of a fun, summer movie. But there’s so much more to it too. The characters are all fascinating and absorbing. It’s a celebration of the Latinx experience and Latinx communities. Even though all the characters have their own struggles, the film has such a feel-good sense to it because of the strong notion of community felt throughout. Together they can all triumph and rise above the struggles they’re facing.

Every single element of this film is absolutely spot on. The music’s great, the characters are sharp and feel real. The cinematography is also gorgeous and matches the wonderful dance choreography to make the musical numbers just outstanding. And it all comes together through the film’s editing and the sound editing leaving the finished product so well-polished and flawless. At 143 minutes long there are a few moments where you do start to notice the runtime but there are already 8 songs missing from the stage musical and trying to cut even more out of the film might have ruined the incredible energy and momentum that it has.

In the Heights is the summer movie we all need right now to truly prove that the big screen is back. See it on the biggest cinema screen you can and then go home and listen to the soundtrack on repeat for the next month. It’s fun, energetic, vibrant and one of the best cinema experiences you’ll have all year.

★★★★★

In the Heights is out now in the US and in UK cinemas on June 18th.

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Drama

Tribeca Film Festival | ‘7 Days’ – A Sweet Rom-com To Keep You Going

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We’ve reached the point now where the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns we’ve faced over the past year are starting to become backdrops for films, and perhaps it’s not something we want to re-live and it’s not something we’re desperate to revisit, but 7 Days has a really touching and moving story at its centre and when you look past the coronavirus, it’s a really compelling story and makes for a good film.

At the start of the film, we meet Ravi (played by Karan Soni, best known for playing Dopinder in Deadpool) and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan- Blockers, The Broken Hearts Gallery). The two have been set up by their old-fashioned Indian parents and are on a pre-arranged date. The two of them have absolutely nothing in common and the whole afternoon is very awkward for them both. But then the COVID outbreak gets worse and Ravi must spend the next few days at Rita’s place as he can’t get a car or a hotel. We soon witness the unlikely bond that forms as the two spend their days together despite being very different people.

7 Days marks Roshan Sethi’s directorial debut and he does a great job here. Not only does he capture so well what it’s like to live, and to love, in the time of COVID but the film, which was also co-written by Sethi, is really funny and leaves you feeling good which is exactly what you want after having lived through the last year.

The film’s quite short as it is with a runtime of just 86 minutes but even so, it does feel very long. Whether that’s because there’s only really two characters that we’re seeing for almost an hour and a half, or if it’s because it takes place almost entirely in one location, it does drag a bit. The two characters seem like polar opposites as we discover Rita drinking beer and eating leftover chicken for breakfast despite claiming to be a vegetarian and not drinking and at times the film feels like it’s almost running out of things to do with these characters that at first seem so far away from each other and the film does feel quite long despite its rather short runtime.

But on the whole, 7 Days manages to get the tone between comedy and drama just right with lots of funny lines but also just the right amount of heartfelt and poignant moments. The film is bookended by short video clips of real-life Indian couples talking about their marriages and how they met, and the two main characters discuss these two viewpoints of a more orthodox arranged marriage versus love marriages and the film does a really good job of presenting them both to us equally.

7 Days works well and manages to avoid being a depressing film about the pandemic, in part due to the really good performances from Soni and Viswanathan and the wonderful chemistry the two have, but also due to the really good script by Sethi and Soni. And whilst we will doubtlessly see more movies set during this time, 7 Days is a sweet rom-com to keep you going.

★★★☆☆

7 Days premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

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Disney

Loki | Fun And Entertaining As It Feels Wholly Original

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This will be an entirely spoiler-free review of episodes 1 and 2 of Loki.

The last time we saw the God of mischief was in 2019. Well, it was actually 2012- but in 2019. If you cast your mind back to Avengers: Endgame, we last saw Loki when the Avengers travelled back in time to 2012. The Hulk bursts out of the stairwell causing the Tesseract to slide across the floor, landing right at Loki’s feet who picks it up and escapes in a portal to who knows where. Well, now we get to find out where exactly that version of Loki from 2012 went and what happened to him next.

I won’t divulge any plot details from either of the first two episodes that aren’t featured in the trailer so that when you watch them you can go in completely fresh, but the first two episodes of Loki set the show up in a really fun and dynamic way and it really feels like the start of a good TV show and not just a 6-hour long film.

The show kicks off right where we last saw Loki and he ends up imprisoned by the TVA- the Time Variance Authority. The TVA help make sure the timeline stays intact and Agent Mobius (played by Owen Wilson) and Loki must work together to stop a threat to the timeline.

Even from just the first two episodes, Loki already has such an energetic and mischievous feel to it. It feels very much akin to a crime thriller, but it still has that fun, Marvel tone to it too. Much like WandaVision it also feels quite different to some of the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it is still rooted in that Marvel style and feel so fans of the MCU will absolutely still enjoy it, but Loki is still bringing something new to the table and it feels fresh and original.

Loki is fun and entertaining as it feels wholly original but it’s also very emotional too. As with any new Marvel project, there will of course be call-backs to moments in previous films and in the character’s past. Whilst perhaps there’s a bit more Thor: The Dark World than you might want the character Loki is such a fascinating and compelling one and in the first two episodes alone we get to see the emotional and sensitive side of him much more.

Tom Hiddleston, as always, is absolutely great as the God of mischief and he looks like he’s having such a fun time playing Loki. Also joining him is Owen Wilson who’s also really good and makes a welcome addition to the MCU. The two of them have a really strong chemistry together and make a good on-screen pairing, and when you add in the nice, fresh production design, overall Marvel have got yet another winner on their hands.

Much like the two other Marvel shows this year, the first couple of episodes are a really intriguing set-up with lots of promise for what’s to follow. It will be interesting to see where Loki goes as a character over the rest of the series; WandaVision saw Wanda’s evolution into the Scarlet Witch and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Sam Wilson take up the mantle of Captain America so as to where Loki ends up at the end of episode 6 we’ll just have to wait and see. But the first two episodes are hugely entertaining, with the second being my favourite of the two. It’s different, it’s mischievous and if the first two are anything to go by, it looks as if there are lots of surprises and a lot of excitement coming our way over the next few weeks.

Loki starts streaming on Disney+ June 9.

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