Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

PARADISE HILLS (2019): The Things I Liked…

Paradise Hills (2019), Emma Roberts
Paradise Hills (2019), Emma Roberts

Starring Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Eiza González and Milla Jovovich, Paradise Hills is not the kind of fantasy movie that I’d shout about so that no one misses out on the experience of seeing it. Yet, I wouldn’t say that it’s a completely terrible movie either. 

Set in a mysterious boarding school with a mission to transform wayward girls so that they fit heir surroundings’ exact desires, it was inevitable that some of the girls were going to resist and rebel. A rebellion led by Roberts’s Uma character because she has zero desire to marry the man her family insists that she does. 

What grabbed me immediately about director Alice Waddington’s film, besides a plot about rightful youthful rebellion is the generally visually pleasing colours, costume and set design. Paradise Hills has a general look and theme that reminded me of Melanie Martinez’s recent K-12 (2019) music film. I liked that the movie became more disturbing in a way that proved entertaining towards the end. I’m also glad for the one or two twists I didn’t see coming.

A definite downside to Waddington’s movie however is that something about the fantasy elements of the story and the films general  execution didn’t quite have me fully buying into everything that was happening. This is likely why I wasn’t as horrified as I perhaps should have been when the most disturbing things were happening.

I was still very much about the uprising and grateful for the thrilling moments in the second half. Yet there remained an air of  ‘this isn’t at all real’ and that truth very probably made me that little bit less invested emotionally in all that was happening. In other words, everything I needed wasn’t there to make me fully immerse myself and get lost in the story.

With that said, watch Paradise Hills you’re really curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE LAUNDROMAT (2019): The Thing I Liked…

The Laundromat (2019),Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas
The Laundromat (2019),Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas

Steven Soderbergh’s latest drama The Laundromat is inspired by the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal;  The 2016 publication of leaked documents detailing financial and attorney / client information for more than two hundred thousand offshore entities. A leak that led to the eventual shut down of one of the largest providers of offshore financial services, Mossack Fonseca & Co.

Focused on educating and entertaining, I found Soderbergh’s film to be only partly successful at both. This is mainly because I had trouble staying engaged. Particularly, to my surprise, for much of Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman’s scenes. The way the film is written, structured and edited certainly didn’t help matters.

Soderbergh essentially shared the stories of some of the dealings of the offshore organisations / individuals who were helping the rich take advantage and get away with it. And they did it all with the help of the likes of Banderas and Oldman’s characters – the pair behind law firms like Mossack Fonseca & Co.

Eventually the whistleblower shows up; a character who, in real life has managed to remain anonymous, and this is where Soderbergh and the writers decided to get creative and give a face to the person behind the leak. It would be great to say that this is when things got really interesting. Sadly, no – due to the aforementioned story structure issues which resulted in the whole experience feeling quite disjointed.

The Laundromat felt like a series of very loosely linked stories that were somewhat entertaining on their own but together they didn’t make for a well put together finished product. Meryl Streep was of courser watchable, as always but that just wasn’t enough in the end.

Watch The Laundromat if you’re really, REALLY curious. 

Happy Film Loving

G

HOLIDAY IN THE WILD (2019): The Things I Liked…

Holiday In The Wild (2019), Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, Netflix
Holiday In The Wild (2019), Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, Netflix

Holiday In The Wild is a fairly enjoyable film focused on the drama / romance between an elephant conservationist named Derek (Rob Lowe), and Kate (Kristin Davis), a newly jilted woman who meet for the first time while in Zambia, Africa.

Well acted and shot, I enjoyed the beautiful footage of Zambia and its majestic animals – mainly the elephants. All the festive cheer was also very welcome; especially since I’ve been in the mood for Christmas for several weeks now.

I’d say that ‘easy viewing’ is definitely the phrase for director Ernie Barbarash’s movie. I had fun even though perhaps unsurprisingly, near the start of the film I couldn’t stop seeing Davis’s Kate as the most famous character she’s ever played. None other than Charlotte York of HBO’s Sex And The City, of course. As a Charlotte fan, I can’t say that I was too mad about that.

Watch Holiday In The Wild for that easy viewing, ‘Christmassy’ vibe – set in Zambia and with Elephants!

Lastly, let me know if you too found yourself really appreciating how good a son the character played by John Owen Lowe appeared to be.

Happy Film Loving

G

DANCING WITH THE BIRDS (2019): The Stunning Birds In Netflix Birds Of Paradise Documentary…

Having recently seen Netflix’s Stephen Fry narrated birds of paradise documentary Dancing With The Birds, I’ve found that I still haven’t quite moved on from the stunning images and ‘birds of paradise dance moves’ featured in the film.

Fashion, dance, fashion, reproduction, fashion, cockroach, FASHION and big juicy tropical fruits’.

These are just some of the words that came to mind as the film played. Why, or why have I mentioned fashion so many times? That’ll become very obvious when you look at the following images…

Dancing With The Birds (2019), Carola's Parotia - Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), Carola’s Parotia – Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

Sequins baby! Do you see those beautiful ‘sequins’ on the neck of the Carola’s Parotia? A.k.a the most talented dancer of them all – in my humble opinion. Dancing so tirelessly and with such focus and dedication. After a little while, you may forget his name but his moves and that ‘sequinned neck furniture’ will likely stay with you.

Dancing With The Birds (2019), Carola's Parotia - Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), Carola’s Parotia – Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

Dancing With The Birds (2019), Guianan Cock Of The Rock - Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), Guianan Cock Of The Rock – Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

It’s no wonder I loved yellow and red so much as a little girl. Here we have what is probably the most colourful bird of them all; the Guianan Cock of the Rock. Their communal mating rituals were some of the most amusing to watch, thanks in part to Fry’s humorous narration.

Dancing With The Birds (2019), Guianan Cock Of The Rock (Female) - Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), Guianan Cock Of The Rock (Female) – Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

Let’s not forget the female Guianan Cock of the Rock. Definitely the female that stood out most for me. And, is it just me or is the word ‘chic’ jumping out at you too, as you look at her?

Dancing With The Birds (2019), The Black Sicklebill Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), The Black Sicklebill Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

The undeniably majestic Black Sickle Bill. So arresting and magnificent that not only did fashion come to mind many times as I watched this beauty, but the most fitting phrase is certainly haute couture, yes?

Something else I was reminded of was course Charlize Theron’s Queen Ravenna costumes in Snow White And The Huntsman (2012).

Dancing With The Birds (2019), The Black Sicklebill Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), The Black Sicklebill Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

Dancing With The Birds (2019), Twelve Wired Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), Twelve Wired Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

Now, the Twelve Wired Bird (TW) is definitely the one I consider most strange out of all the birds featured. Unfortunately for me, even though I love yellow and black together, something about the way TW moves and dances reminded me too much of a cockroach, which then meant that TW was never going to be my favourite.

I’m just glad that those ‘wires’ aren’t painful or the result of a horrible accident. What are they really comprised of? I wonder…

Dancing With The Birds (2019), Twelve Wired Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), Twelve Wired Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

Dancing With The Birds (2019), A Flame Bowerbird - Bird Of Paradise, Netflix
Dancing With The Birds (2019), A Flame Bowerbird – Bird Of Paradise, Netflix

Last but in no way least, we have the Flame Bowbird. Standing here and looking both ‘hot’ and like one of the most perfectly ripened and juicy mangos I’ve ever seen.

I’ll remember him most for the above reasons and for being a combination of my younger self’s two favourite colours, as well as for building that artful structure made of sticks; something else that also screamed FASHION.

Watch Dancing With The Birds and see just how ‘birdlike’ we really are.

Happy Film loving

G

DANCING WITH THE BIRDS (2019): The Things I Liked…

Dancing With The Birds (2019), Netflix Documentary
Dancing With The Birds (2019), Netflix Documentary

I definitely enjoyed the new Stephen Fry narrated Netflix documentary Dancing With The Birds. Though mainly for the stunning images of the beautiful birds of paradise. I couldn’t help but appreciate the moments the film made me realise just how much humans and birds actually have in common, especially when trying to attract a mate.

The only downside of Dancing With The Birds for me is how the whole experience felt oddly unfinished. Perhaps because I’m used to a more thorough telling of an animal / bird / nature story – as per the works of Sir David Attenborough. Whereas Dancing With The Birds focuses purely on the mating rituals / dance routines of some of planet Earth’s most stunning birds of paradise.

Don’t get me wrong, the dance rituals are definitely something to see. So much so that they had me thinking that I really could probably do with sharpening my own dance skills. Probably.

Watch Dancing With The Birds for the truly stunning images and for the similarities between us and those with feathers, wings and the gift of flight.

Happy Film Loving

G

MR. TOILET – THE WORLD’S #2 MAN (2019): The Things I Liked…

Mr. Toilet – The World’s #2 Man (2019), Jack Sim
Mr. Toilet – The World’s #2 Man (2019), Jack Sim

Mr. Toilet – The World’s #2 Man is an interesting look at the ups and downs of a man’s journey as he tries to live a life of service to others – in his own unique way. 

Directed by Lily Zepeda, Mr. Toilet, a.k.a. Jack Sim is an  entrepreneur and family man who sacrifices his comfortable life for an endless battle against the world’s largest man-made crisis, sanitation.

Aware of the fact that half the world doesn’t have access to a toilet, Sim travels the globe with a focus on finding a way to change that; one of the ways being motivating people to build their own toilets.

As unsavoury as the subject matter may be, I personally couldn’t wait to see how Sim expected to achieve his lofty goal. As one might expect, there was certainly challenge after challenge after challenge. And what that did was remind me of a motivating speech I’d heard just earlier on the same day. The gist being that ‘The people who make things happen are the one’s who fail but continue still, because the goal is simply too important’. 

Watch Mr. Toilet – The World’s #2 Man, for a picture of a human with the best intentions and good humour, who has found a purpose; one focused on bringing about needed change in the world, even if he has to rethink his approach more than once.

Happy Film Loving

G

WOUNDS (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Wounds (2019), Armie Hammer
Wounds (2019), Armie Hammer

My favourite thing about the latest Dakota Johnson, Zazie Beetz and Armmie Hammer horror / mystery Wounds is how well writer / director  Babak Anvari captured the tension; especially in the first thirty minutes.

All about the the strange things that start happening to a bartender after he picks up a phone left at his bar, I found that things started to go wrong for me when Hammer’s character made / didn’t make a decision that seemed so obvious to me. And because the rest of the story hung ever so loosely on his character’s decision – one that I did not buy, the film simply lost me and my trust.

In light of this, the real main issue with Wounds is that it barely makes sense. By the very end, I decided that Anvari’s movie is based on a script that needed much more work. Yes, there are moments that were well written and acted but the glaring gaps in the script were simply that, far too glaring. 

If you’re a die-hard Hammer and Johnson fan, then sure give it a chance if you’re especially curious, and also if you don’t mind swarming bugs. I definitely watched the swarming bugs scenes through my fingers. Otherwise, it’s very much the tension in the first half of the film that’s most notable. 

Have you seen Wounds, the film with the ‘very appealing’ name? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Film Loving

G

FRACTURED (2019): The Things I Liked…

Fractured (2019), Same Worthington, Netflix
Fractured (2019), Same Worthington, Netflix

Directed by Brad Anderson, new Netflix thriller Fractured follows a father (Sam Worthington) who’s desperate to find his wife and daughter after he takes them to a hospital following an accident; only for the hospital to deny hours later that they’d ever seen his family. 

Also starring Lily Rabe and Stephen Tobolowsky, without giving anything away, the best thing to say about Anderson’s film is that it’s dark and the compelling premise does deliver by the end on the trailers promise. Part of what made Fractured interesting to watch and also a tad frustrating is that throughout the film, there are clues provided that made me think that finally I know exactly what’s going on – but then something else equally convincing happens and forces to re-view my conclusions.

Overall, I  enjoyed Anderson’s film more after things picked up past the half way point. I just wish that it didn’t bring out my impatience during the first half as I longed for the story pick up and give me more clues so I could figure things out. 

Random fact, I’m guilty of enjoying the simultaneously chilling and moving end credit music so much that I definitely kept rewinding so I could write this entire review as it played in the background.

Watch Fractured if you’re curious. It gets better as the story goes on and Worthington is good.

Happy Film Loving 

G