Paddington 2

Paddington (Paul King, 2017) 2.5/5

With a property like Paddington the Bear, it’s not unfeasible that after the success of the 9x16-Hat-Tip_V1_Paddington-2first film, there would be more on the way. The magic of the first film from its careful introduction of key characters, the merging of 21st Century society and key landmarks of contemporary London made for an exceptional family film. The sequel here tries to emulate this with some handy cameo’s, however it never really reaches the heady heights of it’s predecessor.

The story here follows our lovely bear getting all caught up with the law and arrested for stealing a pop up book in the heart of Portobello Road. Whilst in prison he meets some colourful prisoners headed by the great Brendan Gleeson as ‘Knuckles McGinty’ the prison chef. Stepping into Nicole Kidman’s shoes for the role of villain here is Hugh Grant who portrays fallen actor ‘Phoenix Buchanan’ who is using the book to romp across London to discover untold treasure.

Unfortunately, instead of being sinister, Grant is a tad annoying here. With Kidman, she was more restrained in her delivery. Whereas here, we have a more panto like figure with not much substance. Also, the ‘twee-ness’ of the first film added to the charm, whilst here it almost suffocates everything and everyone at every turn. Although, this being said, the animation in parts of this film is spectacular and really adds to the roots of this character.

However, everything just seems to be really rushed here, the inclusion of more neighbours doesn’t help. Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ben Miller and Jessica Hynes are squished into probably about 10 mins of screen time and add very little. By supersizing recognisable faces, we lose our main character altogether. Of course, Paddington will always be likeable and Ben Whishaw is still on top form portraying his earnestness and exuding charm in the process.

In sum, Paddington 2 is still a charming adventure, however it just doesn’t have the streamlined appeal of the first film. It seems the bear has become a little bit bloated from eating all of that marmalade…

Sixteen

Sixteen (Rob Brown, 2013) 4/5

In the shadows of British Films Bullet Boy and Sweet Sixteen, Rob Brown’s tale of a youngsixteen former child soldier from the congo is moving, poignant and extremely thought-provoking. Jumah (Roger Jean Nsengiyumva) is finding it difficult to assimilate himself into his East London surroundings as well as to shake off his traumatic experiences back in Africa. Ever since coming to the UK under the protection of aid worker Laura (Rachael Stirling) the experiences of war has never really left him and awaken themselves through nightmares and acts of violence.

Over the course of two days prior to his sixteenth birthday, Jumah is forced to confront his past headon through witnessing a horrific and senseless crime. By twinning the focus on growing up and dealing with memory, Brown has created characters that are knowable and out of reach for the average audience member. Indeed coming in at a concise 80 minutes, Sixteen benefits from never rushing the narrative and allows all of the actors to flesh out of their roles and provide some great interactions.

It needs to be stated that Nsengiyumva and Stirling gel phenomenally well and their scenes really do stick out and create some of the most emotional scenes. The editing, sound and cinematography really give this feature a lyrical quality and it is never needlessly gritty.

In sum, by combining the classical grittiness of other coming of age films with the lyricism of European cinema, Sixteen allows the viewer in the lives of the characters and an extremely interesting piece of human emotion.