Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

COW (2021): The Things I Liked…

Cow (2021), IFC Films

Moved and shocked are the words that best explain how I feel about director Andrea Arnold’s Cow, a film that looks closely at the daily lives of two cows.

My curiosity about a cow’s day-to-day and the fact that I’ve always considered them one of the cutest animals are my two reasons for watching. 

How far from easy and relatively short the dairy cow’s life is are the elements that moved me most, even more so because both realities happen to be exacerbated by humans.

The fact that there’s no explanation of what’s going on as you watch is part of what makes Arnold’s film particularly engaging. The camera captures what happens and leaves you to deal with how it makes you feel. 

I’m sure that the most empathetic are those likely to find Cow the most difficult to watch. 

As empathetic as I generally am – a truth I know because I cry at many movies, Cow didn’t lead to my own tears. In some ways, I found Arnold’s film strangely calming, a quality I’m sure that the almost complete absence of dialogue and a musical score contributed to.

Besides the moment past the halfway point when I thought the film started to feel too long and repetitive, I say watch Cow if you’re curious, and let it surprise you. 

Cow (2021), IFC Films
Cow (2021), IFC Films

Some random thoughts that may enter your mind as you watch Cow include:

I never imagined that the sight of fully engorged udders could be quite so overwhelming.

Considering the obvious heft of the cow frame, it’s almost surprising how quickly they can move.

This one is a film that lends itself perfectly to a screening followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.

Please do share any other thoughts in the comments, whether or not you’ve already seen, or plan to see Cow, and so on.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE UNFORGIVABLE (2021): The Things I Liked…

I’m glad that Sandra Bullock said yes to The Unforgivablea well-executed tale of one woman’s journey to reconnect with her sister after finishing a twenty-year prison sentence.

Directed by Nora Fingscheidt, what stood out immediately, in addition to the excellent performances, is how engaging the story is. I cared about Bullock’s character and couldn’t wait for everything to unfold. At the same time, the pacing and story edit are both so good to the point where I hardly found myself wanting things to move faster.

Then there’s the perfectly complementary musical score and the kind of tense moments that never have one too sure about how things will unfold.

Even though there is one moment where I felt the catalyst that was supposed to lead to a key character’s change of heart was insubstantial, The Unforgivable is still worth watching. 

See it for the generally well-executed story and because Viola Davis, Rob Morgan, Vincent D’Onofrio and Jon Bernthal make up the supporting cast.

Happy Film Loving 

G

RED NOTICE (2021): The Thing I Liked…

I’m disappointed to say that ‘quite forgettable’ is the most fitting phrase for how I feel about Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds’s latest action/crime/comedy, Red Notice.

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, I had a telling ‘bad feeling’ within the first few minutes of the movie starting. The kind of feeling that let me know that Red Notice won’t be as fun and engaging as I’d hoped.

I was soon proven right when the question ‘Why am I bored?’ crossed my mind during the scenes before the forty-minute mark. The answer is, the lacking script/story edit, a Johnson/Reynolds dynamic that didn’t work for me right away, a performance by Gadot that fell surprisingly flat, and the fact that very little if anything about Red Notice played as adequately new and exciting. 

I was finally fully engaged and glued to the action taking place at around the fortieth minute. I wish I could say it was all good from that point on, but even though there were some clever/fun moments, overall, what Thurber’s film did most well for me is not what I expected. 

In addition to doing well at setting up a sequel that might be more fun, Red Notice brought to mind Daniel Craig’s best Bond films. No doubt because Craig’s films excelled in areas that Red Notice did not. Especially where great pacing, highly engaging dialogue, well-drawn characters and exciting action sequences are concerned. 

I needed Red Notice to be better. But I wouldn’t call it completely unwatchable. Give it a chance if you’re particularly curious. 

Happy Film Loving

G

TED LASSO – SEASON 2 (2021): The Things I Liked…

As some of you may remember, comedy/drama Ted Lasso – season one; the story of a US American Football coach, who arrives in the UK to manage a struggling English Premier League soccer team is, without a doubt, one of the best things that happened to me in 2020. 

Fast forward to now, when season two has both started and finished; let’s put it this way, I’ll make time for season three in 2022; however, I’ll be sure to calm myself right down should I find myself getting too excited about the third instalment.

Yes, season two of Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham’s Emmy Award-winning series did at times move me to laughter and tears. The problem is that it also made me cringe because some of what I adored about season one, such as the positive attitude and heartwarming kindness, in parts of season two, it’s written in a way that often felt forced. The most irritating example of this, for me, is the Christmas episode.

Ted Lasso (2021), Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Apple TV+
Ted Lasso (2021), Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Apple TV+

Another way that season two disappointed me is how it handled delving more into the lives of the less central characters. Rather than finding myself engrossed in some of these secondary stories, I was annoyed that I wasn’t learning more about Lasso himself. Additionally, during these departures from the main focus, when Lasso did feature, the writing leant into his eccentricities in a fashion that, for me, cheapened his character.

As creative and somewhat well-edited as the episode that focuses on coach Beard is, thematically, it just felt out of place with the rest of the season. Then there’s the fact that I did not believe the direction of Beard’s love story with the mysterious Jane.

Speaking of not believing, where Nate’s all-important character journey is concerned, I sadly neither liked nor did I buy it.

All in all, I’m sad to say that season two of Ted Lasso annoyed me more than it pleased me. Even though I was glad to learn more about Lasso’s history and struggles, the season is more reminiscent of the short-lived Sex and the City movie franchise than I’d hoped. Meaning, I loved the first movie, but my goodness was it abundantly clear that the second film was hugely rushed, resulting in a less than pleasing result.

There are actually no specific episodes that stand out as my favourite in season two. But almost all episodes of season one do. Luckily, I do have a favourite season two moment, and that is how Jamie Tartt’s all-important walk on to the pitch is captured and presented.

What do you think of Season two of Ted Lasso? Have I been too harsh? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Film Loving

G

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