Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

VIOLENT NIGHT (2022): The Things I Liked…

Violent Night (2022), David Harbour, Universal Pictures
Violent Night (2022), David Harbour, Universal Pictures

I found Violent Night, a movie about a group of robbers who attack the estate of a wealthy family on Christmas eve quite delightful. It put me in the best mood for at least twenty-four hours post-viewing.

I truly liked everything about director Tommy Wirkola’s film, including the fun, violent and Christmasy theme; a welcome difference when compared to the usual Christmas movie fair.

For me, the script, cinematography, fight sequences and overall performances delivered the promise made by the equally charming trailer months earlier. 

There’s no doubt that some people will find the violence too much. Still, I wouldn’t say that Violent Night meets the brutality and savagery levels achieved by Tarantino films.

I say give Wirkola’s film a chance if you’re curious. Several people have referred to it as a combination of Die Hard (1988) and Home Alone (1990). I don’t remember too much about the Die Hard films, but it sounds pretty accurate, no?

‘A perfect film’ is not the right phrase to describe Violent Night. But the imperfections are part of what made it so fun to me. There’s also the pleasant-to-watch pairing of David Harbour and John Leguizamo in one film together as adversaries.

Happy Film Loving

G

AVATAR (2009): The Thing I Missed…

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to re-watch Avatar (2009), writer/director James Cameron’s action/adventure/fantasy about a paraplegic Marine dispatched on a unique mission to the moon Pandora.

Perhaps even more so than the impressive special effects Avatar is most known for, I particularly remember how strongly Cameron’s film reminded me of how easily evil wins when those who oppose it do nothing. And post second viewing, I can confirm that said message still rings clearly for me today. I mean, it is a recurrent theme in the human experience.

There is one other thing that stood out ever so clearly to me this time around. And it’s something that barely registered back in 2009, Zoe Saldana’s emotional performance as Neytiri. The visuals must have been too stunning for me to notice her contribution the first time around. But, as they say, better late than never, right? I certainly have a brand new respect for Saldana as an actor now.

As cliché as some feel the Avatar story is, for me, the thought never crossed my mind as I took in the movie. Perhaps I was too engaged with all the arresting audio-visual events happening before my eyes at the time. Whatever the case, I’m glad Avatar exists, and I was here to watch, even if Avatar may not end up in my list of top ten favourite movies.

I’m sure that by now, several of you have already re-watched Avatar and the follow-up Avatar – The Way of Water. And based on what many have said, both films are as impressive and epic as James Cameron movies are known to be. I’ll likely agree with this sentiment when I finally see The Way of Water before this month ends. I wonder what I’ll miss and only notice when I watch it again several years later. 

Did you also rewatch Avatar before the new release? And if so, how do you feel upon second viewing? Perhaps you also missed something the first time around.

Happy Film Loving

THE MENU (2022): The Things I Liked…

There are many good things about director Mark Mylod’s comedy/horror/thriller, The Menu

The cast is fantastic, the performances faultless, and one can hardly go wrong with John Leguizamo, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Feinnes, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer and Nicholas Hoult on the same call sheet. Especially considering the delightfully rhythmic dialogue, plus the unexpected twists and turns.

Mylod’s story about a young couple who travel to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant, but end up faced with shocking surprises is fun and will leave you with plenty to talk about afterwards.

The topics I had to discuss immediately once the end credits rolled included Anya Taylor-Joy’s Margot character being my favourite. I enjoyed Margot’s disposition and every word that came out of her mouth. Hong Chau’s Elsa is also fun for similar reasons to Margot, but undoubtedly in part because of her memorable outfit.

The Menu (2022), Anya Taylor-Joy, Searchlight Pictures
The Menu (2022), Anya Taylor-Joy, Searchlight Pictures

The Menu does well at keeping the audience far from comfortable from the beginning because of the mystery surrounding what the evening has in store for both the audience and the characters. Yet, the part-horror characterisation is not nightmare-inducing. What it is, is a memorable movie experience.

I’m convinced that The Menu might have benefited from being a mini-series rather than a feature film. Specifically, because some moments felt inadequately fleshed out, resulting in my inability to buy into a handful of the decisions made by some characters.

Admittedly, I also eventually tired of Feinnes’s Chef Slowik character, distinctly how his pretentious and subsequently unlikable qualities manifest when he demands the attention of his guests.

Watch The Menu because it’s fun. Lastly, the things it gets right will probably leave you feeling glad that the movie exists. 

Happy Film Loving

G

CHRISTMAS WITH YOU (2022): The Things I Liked…

’Tis the season for Christmas movies, isn’t it? Even though I’ve been known to watch a Christmas film in March, July, or August, there is just something extra special about seeing one at this time of year, when the Christmas lights are up.

Christmas With You is the first Christmas film I’ve seen of the 2022 season, and I’m not mad at it. Today the mood was right. Plus, I hadn’t seen Freddie Prinze Jr. in a movie for quite some time. I reasoned that if the star of She’s All That (1999) – a fun film I enjoyed as a teenager is involved, there has to be something a little extra special about this story. Not always a fail-safe plan, of course. But luckily for me, I was right about director Gabriela Tagliavini’s story about a pop star who escapes to a small town to find inspiration after experiencing burnout in the city.

Christmas With You may not be my favourite seasonal movie of the year once the season ends. However, the acting is decent, the Christmasy atmosphere is ever-present, and, perhaps equally importantly, I enjoyed the Christmas song composed and performed towards the end of the story. 

Give Christmas With You a chance if you’re curious. That mood for an easy-viewing Christmas film may hit you in the coming days and weeks. That’s if it hasn’t already.

Happy Film Loving

G

BLACK PANTHER – WAKANDA FOREVER (2022): The Things I Liked…

Black Panther - Wakanda Forever (2022), Letitia Wright, Marvel Entertainment
Black Panther – Wakanda Forever (2022), Letitia Wright, Marvel Entertainment

I knew I would cry while watching the latest Black Panther movie. And flow those tears certainly did. Not too much, mind you. I couldn’t have my vision obstructed while a stunning visual spectacle was happening before me.

Director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther – Wakanda Forever is a very engaging story with memorable performances. My favourite is delivered unsurprisingly, by Angela Basset (Queen Ramonda). Especially during the confrontation with Dana Gurira’s Okoye. I loved the framing, costume and camera work in those moments! So much so that I will be replaying that scene repeatedly once the movie is available on Disney+.

I love how the Black Panther films have been a welcome reminder of what is possible when all the elements that make a movie very entertaining come together beautifully. The dialogue, costume, music and cinematography combined for a truly memorable experience.

I admit that there was a point in the film where I became aware it was still playing, meaning the movie could have benefited from slightly tighter editing towards the end. Nevertheless, in addition to Coogler’s film being highly engaging and as epic as hoped, Black Panther – Wakanda Forever is simultaneously a perfect additional opportunity for fans to bid farewell to the man who so impressively represented when he donned the suit for Black Panther (2018). The images of Chadwick Boseman shining in the role are some of the most moving moments for me, especially towards the end. 

If you’re yet to do so, watch Black Panther – Wakanda Forever. You’ll most likely be glad you did.

Happy Film Loving

G

NANNY (2022): The Things I Liked…

Nanny (2022), Anna Diop, Prime Video
Nanny (2022), Anna Diop, Prime Video

Sometimes you watch a movie that tells its story so refreshingly well, that you want to talk to someone about it immediately. You want to discuss the parts that thrilled, delighted and surprised you. But then you remember that you watched the movie all by yourself, which means that unless you want to strike up a conversation with the stranger next to you once the movie is over, you can’t. You also remember that you write spoiler-free movie reviews; meaning you still can’t mention the most fun specific details.

Written/directed by Nikyatu Jusu; the film in question that proved to be a rather pleasant surprise is Nanny; a drama/horror/thriller starring Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls and Leslie Uggams.

Nanny tells the story of Aisha, a Senegalese immigrant who takes care of the child of an Upper East Side American family. As Aisha goes about her days working and trying to piece together a life of her own in New York City, she starts having some not-so-easily explainable experiences.

I’ve mentioned a few times before that I don’t typically watch scary movies, particularly since a peaceful nightmare-free sleep is one of my favourite things. The great news here is that Nanny is more creepy than scary. It features well-executed special effects that I appreciated, even more, when the impressive reveal at the end came to light. There are beautiful shots, great lighting and a generally well-structured story to enjoy. One that hints perfectly at what is to come, but without spoiling the very worth-it ending.

I say give Nanny a chance and let the story surprise you. Though not perfect, mostly because of the rushed last five minutes, it’s certainly in the top two of my favourite movies I watched at the BFI London Film Festival this October.

Nanny Release Dates: 23rd November 2022 (Limited theatre release, US); 25th November 2022 (Limited cinema release, UK); Amazon Prime Video release, 16th December 2022 (US)…

Happy Film Loving

G

ROSALINE (2022): The Things I Liked…

Rosaline (2022), Bradley Whitford, 20th Century Studios
Rosaline (2022), Bradley Whitford, 20th Century Studios

One of the best things about streaming services is that when you encounter a portion of a film/show that you’re disinterested in, you can skip right ahead to the parts that fully engage you. 

I generally don’t fast-forward most movies, but I did at least once with Rosaline, the new Karen Maine-directed comedy/romance, which functions as a reimagining of Romeo and Juliet. 

In Maine’s story, this time, as you may have guessed, the protagonist is not Romeo but instead Rosaline, Romeo’s love interest before his beloved Juliet. 

Starring Kaitlyn Dever, Bradley Whitford, Isabela Merced, Minnie Driver, Sean Teale and Kyle Allen, Rosaline is an easy-viewing experience that often serves up giggles and smiles for its audience. Charming, satisfying and creatively reimagined are some words that fit.

It would have been better if I never had to skip forward that one time as Rosaline played. Still, I’m happy to have been amused. And with that, I say, watch Rosaline if you’re especially curious to see a re-write of one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE GOOD NURSE (2022): The Things I Liked…

Often when movies are described as a slow burn, my heart sinks a little because it can mean that the pace is lacking in the most unsatisfying way. Luckily, it just so happens that The Good Nursethe latest biography/crime/drama from Danish director Tobias Lindholm is the kind of slow burn you want people to mean when they describe a movie as such.

Smartly shot, well-edited and acted, Lindholm’s movie is based on a true story about an infamous caregiver who is linked to the deaths of hundreds of hospital patients. 

Oscar winners Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne both deliver notable performances. Additional highlights include the camera work, how dramatic and quieter moments are captured, plus the pairing of Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha in their specific roles.

Watch The Good Nurse for a welcome reminder of how highly engaging a film described as a slow burn can be.

The God Nurse Release Dates: October 26th, 2022 (US)…

Happy Film Loving

G