Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

THE KOMINSKY METHOD (2021): The Things I Liked…

The Kominsky Method (2021), Michael Douglas, Sarah Baker, Netflix
The Kominsky Method (2021), Michael Douglas, Sarah Baker, Netflix

Created by Chuck Lorre of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang TheoryThe Kominsky Method is a California-set comedy/drama series starring Michael Douglas as an ageing actor who now spends his days coaching up-and-coming young actors. 

Also starring Alan Arkin, Lisa Edelstein and Sarah Baker, I watched the first season of The Kominsky Method almost two years ago and I remember thoroughly enjoying it. Season two turned out even better than the first, thanks to Lorre’s expert writing.

Douglas and Arkin are brilliant in their roles. The chemistry between the two actors and their excellent comic timing firmly places The Kominsky Method in the top five of my favourite things that Netflix has ever released. One might say it’s the side of me that’s a sucker for stories of beautiful friendships, but that’s only part of the reason I love the show. 

Watching The Kominsky Method, especially the first two seasons, is a moving experience. One that’s highly likely to result in satisfying laughter as it reminds you of what great writing can look like.

Up to this point, I haven’t said too much about season three, the last instalment of The Kominsky Method. And that’s because even though it features several memorable scenes and bits of dialogue, I can’t deny that at least two things make it less impressive to me than the first two seasons. The absence of Arkin means there’s no Douglas/Arkin chemistry to enjoy. The second disappointment for me is how rushed it felt. And I don’t just mean because it’s six episodes instead of the usual eight.

If you haven’t already watched the show, definitely give seasons one and two of The Kominsky Method a chance. Like me, you may enjoy it so much much that you’ll feel compelled to see how it all ends.

Happy Film Loving

G

IN THE HEIGHTS (2021): The Things I Liked…

In The Heights (2021), Warner Bros. Pictures
In The Heights (2021), Warner Bros. Pictures

In the Heights is a musical film I’m happy I watched, and that’s not something I say very often. Especially since what usually happens with me musicals is, I get annoyed with all the singing, how annoyingly simplistic the lyrics are and I have to stop. 

Luckily, this time director Jon M. Chu and Lin Manuel Miranda, the man in charge of creating the film’s music delivered a movie that has more good/great songs than not.

Impressive and energetic dance choreography, an engaging story and all the colourful summer costumes helped to keep me watching. In other words, ‘A sweet, moving, and joyous two-and-a-half hours’ is how I see In the Heights.

The experience of the movie is, I imagine, more heightened for Latin American audiences, since it’s focused on their multi-generational stories of life in the United States – specifically Washington Heights, New York. Still, all you need to appreciate Chu and Miranda’s movie is to be open to a good musical film; one that you’re very likely to enjoy. You may even catch yourself singing ‘In the heights…! Because the title song is catchy in a non-regrettable way. 

Happy Film Loving

G

CRUELLA (2021): The Thing I Liked…

Cruella (2021), Emma Stone, Walt Disney Studios
Cruella (2021), Emma Stone, Walt Disney Studios

Cruella, the movie about the rebellious earlier years of one of Disney’s favourite and most stylish villains, Cruella De Vil is quite far from the movie I’d hoped for. 

I enjoyed some well-executed set pieces, visually stunning cinematic moments, and director Craig Gillespie’s film gets a tad better towards the end. Yet, my overall feeling through to the end was one of disappointment.

For me, Cruella has a disappointing air of silliness to it. A quality that I imagine isn’t helped by Emma Stone and Paul Walter Hauser’s over-the-top British accents. And they’re not the only accent offenders; Estella/Cruella’s boss at Liberty of London also did his part to bring home my realisation that so many of the people in the film play like caricatures. 

Given that the ‘this is so disappointing’ reality of the movie hit me soon after the film started, I couldn’t wait for Emma Thompson’s The Baroness character to show up and help proceedings. Thompson did a superb job, as she always does. Still, my growing distaste for Gillespie’s movie remained.

The story edit felt rushed throughout. The early camera work inside Liberty of London proved unnecessarily dizzying. The way the movie deals with mental illness leaves plenty to be desired. And, what nonsense to expect the audience to believe that for a very long time, thanks to different clothes and makeup, none of the characters could see that Cruella is clearly Estella. I know, I know… a very similar thing happens in the Superman/Clark Kent movies. But those movies are actually good.

I’m sure it’s crystal clear by now, but I did not enjoy Cruella. My disappointment led to the very whiny thought: ‘But when will another Disney movie delight and move me the way Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella did? WHEN?!

I wanted Cruella to be more grounded than it is. And a big part of the issues with Gillespie’s Cruella arise because the film never decided whether it was going to be for kids or adults. It went for both in a way that resulted in a movie that I feel failed more than it succeeded. 

Have you seen Cruella? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Film Loving

G

A QUIET PLACE PART 2 (2020): The Things I Liked…

A Quiet Place Part 2 (2020), Emily Blunt, Paramount Pictures
A Quiet Place Part 2 (2020), Emily Blunt, Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place Part 2 is one of those rare sequels that didn’t leave me disappointed at the end. I found so much to love about Emily Blunt, John Krasinski and Cillian Murphy’s movie that I’m contemplating watching it again in a few days. 

There’s lot’s of heart in this one. So much so that the word that lit up in my mind throughout most of the movie, and especially towards the end, is love; though perhaps not in the most obvious way. The acting is brilliant and you’re going to jump out of your skin a few times. You may even cry, once or twice.

Don’t be surprised if as soon as the movie starts, you find yourself confused and wondering whether the cinema has messed up and is playing A Quiet Place (2018) instead of A Quiet Place Part 2. They haven’t made a mistake, because soon enough, just about everything starts making sense, and after a slightly slower pace, it all picks up and becomes so engrossing and entertaining that you probably won’t see the end coming. 

As for what I wish was different about this movie, there are a few small things, two of which happen in act one. The first involves the placing of the baby in the box, then wading away in the water. This scene proved confusing, and distressing, in part because of the shot that follows it.

My other issue is with the arguably unnecessary pounding musical score that accompanies what happens after Blunt’s character says ‘Run.’ I feel that the same scene works better in the trailer, where it’s captured without music. Or, maybe the music that ends up in the film simply stood out a lot, and not in the best way. 

Overall, I’d say that the annoyances that come with A Quiet Place Part 2, in no way outweigh the fun and moving ride that this movie is. Watch it if you haven’t already. You may find that the word love lights up brightly for you, as it did for me.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE GOLDFINCH (2019): The Things I Liked…

The Goldfinch (2019), Ansel Elgort, Warner Bros. Pictures
The Goldfinch (2019), Ansel Elgort, Warner Bros. Pictures

The Goldfinch is a movie for which I had high hopes post trailer viewing. The primary reason is the reliable cast and intriguing themes. 

Starring Ansel Elgort, Luke Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Finn Wolfhard and Sarah Paulson; director John Crowley’s film is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt. A story that follows Theodore Decker, a young boy who loses his mother in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An event that leads to him being taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side, New York family. And from there we get to see the highs and lows of young Theodore’s life as he grows up.

Not particularly’ is unfortunately the answer to the question of whether I enjoyed watching The Goldfinch. The only sort of good news is that I didn’t hate the performances. Yet, I can’t deny that the movie left me disappointed. 

The Goldfinch (2019), Sarah Paulson, Warner Bros. Pictures
The Goldfinch (2019), Sarah Paulson, Warner Bros. Pictures

Part of the problem is the two-and-a-half hour-long runtime which felt excessive. Second, young Oakes Fegley is a talented performer. However, it proved distracting to me, how little he resembled Ansel Elgort, especially since he’s supposed to play the younger version of Elgort’s character. 

The Goldfinch isn’t focused on grief the way I expected. Yet, I’m not mad at that. My issue is more that whatever the film had to say, it could have been better-executed story edit/structure-wise. The lack of satisfaction and the emptiness I felt during much of, and by the end of the movie took me back to that feeling of leaving a dinner party you’d been looking forward to with a largely empty stomach. 

Okay, there were one or two highlights, Young Decker’s relationship with Jeffrey Wright’s character and the tiny little crush I may have had on Aneurin Barnard’s character. Overall, I’m sure it’s unsurprising that I’m having trouble thinking of reasons to suggest you give The Goldfinch a chance. However, Tartt’s book is a Pulitzer Prize winner. So maybe read it if you haven’t already. 

Happy Film Loving 

G

LOCKED IN (2021): The Things I Liked…

Locked In (2021), Mena Suvari
Locked In (2021), Mena Suvari

It’s my curiosity about how thrilling movies set mainly in one location can be, that had me watching crime/thriller Locked In. The other motivation is Mena Suvari (an actress I’ll always appreciate because of American Beauty (1999), one of my favourites.

From writer/director Carlos V. Gutierrez, Locked In has some suspenseful scenes. It’s the suspense-filled moments that had me watching through to the very end. Even though by the halfway point, I’d already given up on the movie being the kind I insist others watch. 

The performances aren’t the problem. Locked In is simply not as clever as it needed to be for the viewing experience to feel worthwhile. There are parts of the film where I had to look away as if to signal to the room (since I was watching the movie alone) that what was happening on screen wasn’t up to standard. 

The suspenseful moments and the satisfying last scene are the parts that made me happy. If you’re especially curious about Locked In, then do what you must. Otherwise, how about Locke (2013)Carnage (2011) or Phone Booth (2002)All three are good movies set either completely or predominantly in one location.

Happy Film Loving

G

TOM CLANCY’S WITHOUT REMORSE (2021): The Things I Liked…

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021), Michael B. Jordan
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021), Michael B. Jordan

I had a feeling that Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse wouldn’t be completely terrible; simply because of some of the key talent involved.

The likes of Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell and Guy Pierce can often be relied upon to deliver watchable performances. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that director Stefano Sollima’s movie could do with some improvements..

I tuned in because the idea of Jordan as a Navy Seal on a vengeance mission was very appealing. And things became especially exciting and suspenseful after the thirty-minute mark, when Jordan’s John Clark was officially in badass mode.

These were the moments that Without Remorse proved most exciting for me; during the action/suspenseful sequences. I particularly enjoyed a scene inside a prison cell that’s very reminiscent of a key moment in Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn’s Starred Up (2014), a prison movie I highly recommend. 

For seasoned film fanatics such as myself, though well executed in parts, I found a fair amount of what took place in Sollima’s Without Remorse relatively cliche’d. As impressive and fun to watch as the action scenes are, I wish that the whole movie felt more polished throughout. And certainly less like a Netflix/Amazon movie that didn’t quite meet its potential.

It is for these reasons, plus the moment or two of dialogue that didn’t sit so comfortably in my ears, and Jodie Turner Smith’s character seeming almost too young to be Clark’s superior that I have to say… only if you’re supercurious, then give Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse a chance.

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER (2021): The Things I Liked…

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021), Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Marvel Entertainment
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021), Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Marvel Entertainment

I liked The Falcon and the Winter Soldier immediately, thanks to a tense, action-filled first few minutes. This is precisely what I’d been hoping for from a series about two of the Avengers. Even more so considering my disappointment with the first two episodes of WandaVision (2021). 

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s six-part series is an action/adventure that sees Sam Wilson (The Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) adjusting to the world following the events of Avengers Endgame (2019). And it’s not long before they have to deal with a new, earthly enemy.

My partiality to a beautiful bromance makes it no wonder that the scenes of Mackie and Stan on screen together are my favourite. The moments when they appeared separately or not at all were often engaging too. Nevertheless, ‘fully engaging throughout’ is not how I can best describe The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There are periods when it feels flat, less urgent, less exciting, and lacking my favourite element of all; the fun action and an adequately speedy pace. 

The other issue I have with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is its main villain, Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman); a character whose story/villainy I just didn’t fully buy.

Overall, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is good but I can’t say that I love it in its entirety. However, I will remember it fondly for the bromance/action. Especially in episode one, towards the end of the fourth episode and much of episode five. Make time if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving 

G