Tag Archives: Dean-Charles Chapman

Blinded by the Light (2019) Review

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Blinded by the Light

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Viveik Kalra as Javed
Kulvinder Ghir as Malik
Meera Ganatra as Noor
Nell Williams as Eliza
Aaron Phagura as Roops
Dean-Charles Chapman as Matt
Director: Gurinder Chadha

Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a Pakistani teenager who experiences racial and economic turmoil while living in Luton, England, in 1987. He writes poetry as a way to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the stubborn views of his traditional father. When a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed sees parallels between the singer’s powerful lyrics and his own working-class environment. Springsteen’s melodies soon inspire Javed to find his own voice and follow his dreams.

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I remember seeing a trailer for Blinded By the Light when I was watching Yesterday in the cinema, and like that movie, it looked like a quirky dramedy with a popular band/artist playing a big part of the plot (in this case it being Bruce Springsteen instead of The Beatles). I really wasn’t sure what to expect, it looked fun but also seemed a little too cheesy for its own good, nonetheless I was curious enough to want to check it out. Having seen it, I’d say that it was pretty good, there are parts that aren’t so great and it is absolutely cliché for sure, but the acting is good and I generally enjoyed it on my one viewing of the movie.

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Blinded by the Light is a pretty upbeat and lighthearted movie, and while I wasn’t really invested in the story and characters, and it was rather predictable, I was entertained enough with what I watched that it wasn’t too much of a problem. It can be rather cheesy to say the least, it’s not to the point where I was cringing or anything, but it can get a little much at some moments, and I know that some people just wouldn’t be able to handle them. I do think the movie loses focus at times with what it was trying to be, getting caught up with its love of Bruce Springsteen, especially in the first half. The second half is where the movie really picks up, the story focuses up and it all comes together by the end.

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Viveik Kalra is the lead of Blinded by the Light and he does very well on his part, he has to lead much of the movie by himself and generally he does well. The supporting cast also work on their parts. I had no idea that Hayley Atwell was in this movie going in, she’s actually not in many scenes but she is quite good as a teacher of the main character. There’s also a romance between Kalra’s character and Nell Williams’s character, both actors do well enough with their acting, but the whole relationship just feels sort of sudden and a bit unbelievable. You can just follow along and tolerate it however.

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This is the first film I saw from Gurinder Chadha, but she did a good job directing this movie. With the amount of times that music (specifically that of Bruce Springsteen) plays a part in the movie, you’d expect the transitions and montages featuring said music and all that to fit with the film well, and thankfully that’s the case here. They are pretty fun to watch, even if they are over the top and silly.

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Blinded by the Light was a fun, upbeat yet cheesy and cliché movie, which I thought was decent enough for one viewing. It’s nothing great but it was directed well, and the acting was quite good. If you’re wondering whether if you’d like the movie, I recommend just watching the trailer as it is pretty representative of the movie. If it seemed like it’s something you’d be interested in, I’d say to check it out. As for me, I’m glad that I decided to see it, but it’s probably not something I would watch again.

1917 (2019) Review

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1917

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Depicts graphic & realistic war scenes
Cast:
George MacKay as Lance Corporal Will Schofield
Dean-Charles Chapman as Lance Corporal Tom Blake
Mark Strong as Captain Smith
Andrew Scott as Lieutenant Leslie
Richard Madden as Lieutenant Joseph Blake
Claire Duburcq as Lauri
Colin Firth as General Erinmore
Benedict Cumberbatch as Colonel Mackenzie
Director: Sam Mendes

During World War I, two British soldiers — Lance Cpl. Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Cpl. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) — receive seemingly impossible orders. In a race against time, they must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades — including Blake’s own brother.

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I’ve heard about 1917 for a while now. I knew that it was a World War 1 movie being directed by Sam Mendes, and was being shot by Roger Deakins, with much of the movie made to look like it’s shot in one continuous take. With awards season ramping up and it getting some attention, there was much talk about the movie. While narratively 1917 isn’t great, it’s pretty much outstanding on every other level.

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1917 is a simple story, our protagonists have to get to a particular place with not a lot of time to spare, and a lot of danger along the way. It’s also not contemplative about the nature of war or the like (closer to Black Hawk Down than Apocalypse Now), this is intended as an tense, action war thriller, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you aren’t immersed in what’s going on and don’t feel somewhat tense at least once within the first half hour, you might be a little bored throughout, because most of the movie is the main characters going from place to place, and occasionally getting shot at. There are already plenty of comparisons to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, another war movie released a couple years ago. I’m not going to talk about which is better, but to illustrate my next point I’ll compare them briefly. Dunkirk is a pure war movie experience, and although there are many characters throughout, there’s not really any focus about their journey and you don’t learn anything about them, it’s more them trying desperately to survive and succeed at what they had to do, and that worked for the movie. 1917 isn’t a character study or anything but it does have a little more characterisation, mostly with the lead characters. This is mostly shown during the downtime scenes, which is usually when they’re out of danger and are talking about things. Unfortunately, these scenes don’t work quite as well. They seem to grind the pacing to a halt, which I’m fine with, but in order for them to work you actually have to care about what’s going on beyond the basic level of them being human beings and our main characters. While you’re on board and wanting the lead characters to succeed in their task, you aren’t invested enough in them, so during these moments you don’t really feel much and you’re mostly just waiting for the next exciting thing to happen. While I wouldn’t trade these scenes for more scenes of tensions or action and the scenes aren’t bad by any means, this movie might’ve been fantastic if these scenes were handled better. With all that being said, the emotional payoff at the end is surprisingly effective.

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As seen in the trailer, there are many big names in this movie, with the like of Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and others involved. They are good in the movie, but they are pretty much one scene cameos playing notable supporting characters along the way. Instead the leads of the movie are George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, and both give great emotional and physical performances throughout. While the character work doesn’t exactly great (as I said up above), the acting from both more than made up for it. MacKay in particular is great, and in a less stacked year would be getting awards consideration.

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While I’m not sure that I’d call 1917 Sam Mendes’s best movie, his work here is undeniably fantastic. His task was incredibly ambitious on a technical level, and he managed to pull it off. Let’s talk about the one take shooting. Roger Deakins is great as a cinematographer, but this ranks amongst some of his best work. As mentioned earlier, much of the movie is made to look like it’s filmed in one continuous take. There are moments where you can probably guess where they made a cut between two takes (like when entering a location of darkness or when something is blocking the camera), and there is one very distinct cut to black at one point, but otherwise everything else is made to look like it’s in one shot. Some people have called this a gimmick understandably, but I don’t think it’s a gimmick. It immerses you into what’s going on with the lead characters as they struggle to navigate their environment. There are some truly stunning sequences, both with the camera movements, and the actual visuals themselves. The environment, production design, costumes, and the like are also well handled, and the one take shooting shows them off in how much attention to detail it all is. It’s dark, grimy and unpleasant, like it should be made to look. Outside of the very clear downtime scenes, you don’t feel safe in the rest of the scenes, and there’s a level of tension throughout. Thomas Newman composed the score, and it does very well to ramp up the tension.

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When I say that 1917 is a pure cinematic experience that works best when watching it on a big screen in a cinema, I mean it as a double edged sword. It’ll very likely be one of the best cinema going experiences you’ll have from a 2019 film, however I don’t know how well it’s going to hold up after it leaves cinemas. So I implore you to go watch 1917 on the biggest screen possible. As that, it’s a fantastic thrill ride (despite some complaints I had with the characterisation and narrative), and it’s really worth seeing. Even if it doesn’t fare that well after it leaves cinemas, Sam Mendes’s work here is absolutely masterful, and the acclaim on that front is deserved.