Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

TO ALL THE BOYS – P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU (2020): The Thing I Liked…

To All The Boys P.S. I Still Love You (2020), Noah Centineo, Lana Condor, Netflix
To All The Boys P.S. I Still Love You (2020), Noah Centineo, Lana Condor, Netflix

My thoughts on To All The Boys – P.S. I Still Love You isn’t at all dissimilar to how I felt about 2018’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before; a drama / romance where a teenage girl’s secret love letters get exposed. 

I’m still technically not the target market but I don’t completely regret watching director Michael Fimognari’s latest film either. With the movie’s two protagonists now officially in a relationship, we get to see Lara Jean (Lana Condor) have to decide between new boyfriend Peter (Noah Centineo) and another recipient of her love letters, John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) who just showed up.

How Lara Jean handles the situation doesn’t result in things going especially smoothly. Instead we get to see her and Peter make more of the common mistakes of young love (not that adults are immune, of course). My non-teenage self found watching said mistakes a tad frustrating. Yet not so much that I wanted to stop watching. It’s no wonder then that I like the last quarter of the film best, since that’s when the young characters finally wise up and balance is finally restored.

I’m quite certain that almost all the teenage girls out there who have a Centineo crush or not don’t need me to tell them to watch this movie. That’s because they already did and / or are watching it for the 4th time right now. I tuned in because I didn’t dislike the first one, which I think I definitely prefer. I prefer it in part because it had more going on than just the main love story.

Another reason I watched Fimognari’s film is there’s always room in my life for some ‘easy viewing’ movies and as non-teenager, this is certainly that for me.

Watch it if you’re curious. 

Happy Film Loving 

G

BOMBSHELL (2019): The Things I Liked…

Bombshell (2020), Charlize Theron, Lionsgate Movies
Bombshell (2020), Charlize Theron, Lionsgate Movies

I was vaguely aware but definitely didn’t follow the Fox News / Roger Ailes sexual harassment scandal of 2016. 

Set predominantly in the Fox News offices in New York, Bombshell focuses on the experiences of three women in particular (Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly and Kayla Pospisil), while they were employed by Ailes. 

With such a great cast that features Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Kate McKinnon and John Lithgow, it was clear right away that Bombshell wouldn’t disappoint performance-wise.

Instead, it was the distracting prosthetics work on Nicole Kidman’s chin that first stood out as ‘not quite right‘. Secondly, due to how the story is structured, by the end it felt as though I hadn’t quite watched a complete film – but rather snippets of specific days in a much bigger story. A story that I may have enjoyed more and felt more connected to, had it dived deeper into the backgrounds of the key characters. Maybe it would have worked better divided into several parts of a mini-series.

Bombshell (2020), Nicole Kidman, Lionsgate Movies
Bombshell (2020), Nicole Kidman, Lionsgate Movies

The last way in which Bombshell ‘isn’t quite right’ is actually through no fault of its own. I had some expectations about seeing a few scenes displaying ‘heartwarming female solidarity‘ between the key characters. A truth that seems more than a tad silly now, especially considering the social climate and apparent rivalries at the Fox News offices.

Overall, director Jay Roach’s movie did a good job of keeping my attention throughout; thanks in large part to the performances which really are the best thing about Bombshell. The prosthetics, particularly on Lithgow are also great.

Watch Bombshell for the ‘inside look’ at how disturbing things really were at Fox News. Just don’t make my mistake and go in expecting too much of the aforementioned heartwarming sisterly stuff’

Happy Film Loving 

G

HUSTLERS (2019): The Things I Liked…

Hustlers (2019), Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, STX Entertainment
Hustlers (2019), Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, STX Entertainment

Jennifer Lopez’s role as Ramona, the ringleader of a group of savvy former strip club employees who team up to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients is arguably Lopez’s best performance to date. As impressive as her solo pole dancing routine near the beginning is, even without it, Hustlers is still an impressive Lopez performance.

Set in New York City before and after the 2008 financial crisis, the audience gets introduced to the world of the strip club employees through newcomer Destiny (Constance Wu). Destiny wants to be able to take care of her grandmother but soon finds herself disillusioned after learning of the harsh realities of the strip club life. Then she meets Ramona.

Lopez’s Ramona is certainly the shining light, performance-wise in Hustlers. However, it’s her performance alongside Wu’s Destiny that did well to maintain the emotional core of director Lorene Scafaria’s female-strong movie. The well chosen music, editing and pace also played their part in keep my attention and delivering an overall fun experience. 

Seeing women taking charge of themselves and taking care of each other is another reason I had a good time watching Hustlers. As fun as it was, considering all the crime that took place throughout,I found myself reminded of just how  terrible a criminal I would be. Particularly because, I’d be far too busy vividly imagining everything that could go horribly wrong to actually take steps towards committing such serious crimes.

Watch Hustlers because it’s fun. It’s also scary in parts, as one might expect.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE (2019): THe Thing I Liked…

The Art Of Self Defense (2019), Jesse Eisenberg, Bleeker Street
The Art Of Self Defense (2019), Jesse Eisenberg, Bleeker Street

It was the humour in the trailer for writer / director Riley Stearns’s comedy / drama The Art Of Self Defense that first had my attention. Then came my desire to see Jesse Eisenberg’s character Casey’s interest in self defense actually pay off.

Also starring Alessandro Nivola and Imogen Poots, the first third of The Art Of Self Defense proved quite uncomfortable to watch because it’s never fun to see a vulnerable person being taken advantage of. I therefore couldn’t wait for Casey to finally reap the benefits of his Karate lessons – which he does, but certainly not quite in the way one might expect.

I liked the general outline of Stearn’s story but similarly to Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster (2015)things took a dark turn I wasn’t fully expecting and I found myself wanting to go back to the more humorous phase, even though said phase was mixed in with uncomfortably vulnerable scenes.

There are two or more moments in Stearns’s film that had me questioning the believability of certain goings on. Also, towards the end, the editing had me feeling as though specific scenes had been skipped which unfortunately made the whole experience feel a tad rushed. 

Everyone performed well but my favourite is Nivola’s turn as sensei, because he’s the source of much of the little humour there is, plus his quiet confidence and general air of mystery also proved quite arresting.

Generally speaking, I really can’t say that I enjoyed The Art Of Self Defense more than it annoyed me and / or made me uncomfortable. Should you find yourself particularly curious though, especially if you liked The Lobster in its entirety, perhaps give The Art Of Self Defense a chance.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE IRISHMAN (2019): The Things I Liked…

The Irishman (2019), Al Pacino, Netflix
The Irishman (2019), Al Pacino, Netflix

I was never going to forego watching celebrated director Martin Scorsese’s latest, The Irishman; even with the arguably ‘offensive’ three and a half hour runtime.

Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and centred around a mob hitman’s recollection of his possible involvement in the killing of American Labour Union leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975; the dialogue, style and great performances are all reasons why I find The Irishman most memorable. 

As De Niro’s Frank Sheeran (the Irishman), who’s now living in a retirement home recalls his story, there’s definitely a high volume of information shared, some of which you’ll likely soon forget; in part because of the pace of events. Nevertheless, the story, acting and editing still managed to keep me engaged. And just before the one hour, thirty minutes point, that’s when things get especially interesting. It’s when all the great performances start to reveal themselves fully. 

The Irishman (2019), Robert De Niro, Netflix
The Irishman (2019), Robert De Niro, Netflix

Pacino as the incredibly stubborn Hoffa and Stephen Graham as the equally stubborn Tony Pro are two of my favourites, and their scenes together are among the very best. However, the most memorable performance and my overall favourite thing about The Irishman is De Niro’s turn as Frank. I particularly appreciated the moments Frank didn’t have to speak for the audience to grasp a fair amount of the depth of his experience. So impactful were these quiet moments that I can’t hide my disappointed that De Niro didn’t get an acting Academy Award nomination.

I like how Scorsese’s film provides a kind of ‘inside look’ at the life of a mob hitman. The daily realities, the impact on family and the weight of loyalty. Still, a part of me wonders how different The Irishman would be had Scorsese taken the mini-series or multiple part feature film route instead of squeezing so much into one feature. I wonder.

The Irishman is a film to watch because of the great film making team and for a handful of truly memorable, high tension and often humorous scenes that will remind you of just why Scorsese is so highly celebrated. Just make sure you’re fully rested though, and ready to watch and truly listen before committing to the hefty three hours and thirty minutes.

Happy Film Loving 

G

LAST CHRISTMAS (2019): The Things I Liked…

Last Christmas (2019), Henry Golding, Emilia Clarke, Universal Pictures
Last Christmas (2019), Henry Golding, Emilia Clarke, Universal Pictures

Emilia Clarke, George Michael’s music (which is supposed to be heavily featured) and Emma Thompson are among the key reasons I felt drawn to Last Christmas, the latest comedy / romance from Spy (2015) director Paul Feig.

Also starring Henry Golding, at the centre of the film is Kate, a young woman who works at a Christmas store as Santa’s elf. Kate also happens to be subscribed to making bad decisions; a truth that only starts to change after she meets the seemingly perfect Tom (Golding). 

I found myself immediately happy as soon as Last Christmas began, thanks to the beautiful singing at the very beginning. Then came Michelle Yeoh and Thompson’s fun dialogue plus impressive comic and dramatic timing. Another personal highlight is the Covent Garden setting, one of my favourite parts of London.

Overall though, Last Christmas isn’t quite my favourite London based Christmas film – and that’s largely because the story isn’t especially memorable. It really felt watchable at best. The fact that the key revelation towards the end is one I figured out before it was confirmed also didn’t help my enjoyment of Feig’s film. Additionally, I really expected George Michael’s music to be more prominently featured. However, in fairness, it may also be that I’m not quite as familiar with Michael’s back catalogue as I thought.

Last Christmas is kind of ‘easy viewing’ and it’s one you watch if you’re curious enough. Also, maybe watch it for Yeoh and Thompson’s fun performances; plus the rather beautiful singing at the very beginning.

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019): The Things I Liked…

The Lighthouse (2019), Robert Pattinson, A24
The Lighthouse (2019), Robert Pattinson, A24

The Lighthouse, a fantasy / drama / horror about two lighthouse keepers struggling to maintain their sanity while living on a remote, mysterious New England island is a movie that noticeably builds and builds; especially where the tensions between its two characters is concerned. It also becomes more and more intriguing, fantastical and has a permeating sense of dread as it plays, resulting in an ending that makes sense but also left me with some questions.

I definitely can’t deny overall that writer / director Robert Eggers’s 1890s set film is a good one. I enjoyed the cinematography, some of the dialogue and definitely the great performances by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. In terms of how I feel about Eggers’s movie in its entirety, for reasons that include the film’s genre (fantasy especially) and the general loudness based on the sounds and noises the two men had to endure; plus the inclusion of much of the less than sanitary / unsavoury aspects of being a lighthouse keeper in the 1800’s, I can’t say that I loved The Lighthouse. 

Should you find yourself quite curious, give it a chance because it’s unlike most. It also has that stage play quality, likely due to the dialogue style and single setting. Who knows, you may just find yourself far more enthused by the whole experience overall than I was.

I know for sure that during the movie and when it was over, I desperately wanted to believe that the job and experience of being a lighthouse keeper these days is quite different; at the very least, far more sanitary.

Happy Film Loving 

G

BLACK AND BLUE (2019): THE THING I LIKED…

Black And Blue (2019), Naomie Harris, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Black And Blue (2019), Naomie Harris, Sony Pictures Entertainment

In Black and Blue, the latest action / drama starring Naomie Harris, Harris plays a rookie police officer whose body camera captures a corrupt cop shooting a drug dealer. What I hoped would have followed is a truly engrossing, gritty and desperate race against time to get the footage in the right hands.

The race and subsequent pursuit does happen. It’s just that the end result isn’t as gripping as I’d hoped. The acting isn’t bad, but the story and execution certainly could have been stronger. Especially since soon after the film started and throughout, it felt as though something important was missing, and nothing refreshingly clever and / or new happened.

I really wanted Black and Blue to join Training Day (2001) on my list of favourite cop movies. However, even though both films share commonalities in theme / story, the gap between the two movies is simply too large – because Training Day is far more engrossing, cleverly written and well executed. Plus, Ethan Hawke’s character didn’t make any decisions that had me mad. Whereas Harris’s character did some thing’s that could hardly be excused by her rookie status. Or maybe I’ve simply watched too many cop movies.

I did actually like aspects of the way Black ad Blue handled Harris’s character’s ‘identity crisis,’ which really says more about her acting than anything else. Also, there were moments within Black and Blue that had me thinking, ‘Yes! This is when things really get good‘. But the movie never went to the point of having a scene that I could choose as my favourite moment.

Watch it if you’re super curious. Otherwise, maybe just rewatch Training Day.

Happy Film Loving

G