Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

HOME AGAIN (2017): It’s…

Home Again (2017), Reece Witherspoon
Home Again (2017), Reece Witherspoon

Home Again is a comedy / drama / romance that’s written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer; daughter of popular romantic comedy filmmaker Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated (2009), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), The Holiday (2006), etc).

The reason I was drawn to this film is simple, Reese Witherspoon and the chance to see her in a fun-(ish) movie. By the end of Meyers-Shyer’s story about an LA single mother, whose life takes an unexpected turn when she allows three young guys to move in with her, I was left wanting. I found myself feeling as though absolutely nothing had happened in the movie, even though I’d just sat and watched it for 1.5 hours. 

I promise that I’m not deliberately trying to sound like a stereotypically male film fan who doesn’t like romantic comedies because ‘nothing happens.’ in them. There’s very little that’s memorable or particularly noteworthy to report. I definitely did not love this movie. I also wouldn’t say I hate it. I simply wish it were better.

If I tried to think especially hard about what’s good about Home Again, I’d say that I enjoyed looking at sunny LA, especially since at time of writing, I’m personally in the midst of an annoyingly grey winter. I may add also add that I was inspired by the positive attitude of Witherspoon’s character’s love interest. Lastly, I might say that I didn’t completely dislike some of the sweet / touching moments in this film. What kind of person hates a touch moment after all?

All in all, Home Again is quite forgettable. Perhaps watch it if I’ve somehow sold it to you – which I doubt.

Happy Film Loving

G

MANOLO – THE BOY WHO MADE SHOES FOR LIZARDS (2016): The Things I Liked…

Manolo - The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards (2017), Manolo Blahnik
Manolo – The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards (2017), Manolo Blahnik

Manolo – The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards, the documentary about Manolo Blahnik, a.k.a. ’the best shoe-maker of the 20th and 21st centuries’ delivers an intimate portrait of the acclaimed shoe designer. I’d also describe it as relaxed viewing, especially considering the film’s idyllic and often dream-like look and feel. Your heart will not race as you watch. Well, except if the sight of very well designed high fashion shoes usually does that for you.

Through interviews, re-enactments, recent footage, and more, Manolo – The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards reveals Blahnik’s inspirations / muses (past and present), some of his collections and his design process from idea to finished shoe.

Some of the featured fans and friends of Blahnik include music / fashion / beauty superstar Rihanna, Vogue Magazine editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, British supermodel Naomi Campbell and the late Isabella Blow – discoverer of Alexander McQueen, magazine editor and muse to hat designer Philip Treacy.

My favourite of all the people featured has to be late fashion photographer Cecil Beaton. His personality, based on the clips shown must have been very delightful indeed.

I had to watch this documentary because fashion is art and impressive creatives like Blahnik are infinitely intriguing to me. With that said, watch it for one or two surprising truths about Blahnik,  if you’re anything like me and / or you adore fashion and very beautiful shoes.

Happy film Loving

G

BRIGHT (2017): The Things I Liked…

Bright (2017), Edgar Ramirez
Bright (2017), Edgar Ramirez

Directed by David Ayer (End Of Watch (2012) and starring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace and Edgar Ramirez, Bright is a buddy / cop movie set in a world where humans live alongside fantasy creatures. It’s also a film that isn’t quite all I wished it to be.

The issues I have with Bright start with the story. Perhaps the fact of fantasy and sci-fi not being my go-to genres has something to do with it but I just didn’t fully buy into the world the story occupies. I’m not even sure that the truth of how Orcs, elves, fairies and humans came to co-exist in LA let alone planet Earth was properly explained. Then there’s the fact that due to pacing and one or two other unfortunate factors, the movie did’t really get particularly interesting for me until ‘the cop shooting’ that happens approximately forty minutes in. Even then, I still found myself thinking about how much more I enjoyed End Of Watch, especially the story and co-star chemistry.

I’m certainly not saying that I think Bright is all bad – because if it were, I’d have stopped watching long before the end, the way I recently did with A Bad Mom’s Christmas (2017). The things I did enjoy about Ayer’s movie start with the vibrant graffiti in the opening sequence, followed by the impressive Orc prosthetics. Then there’s Noomi Rapace’s villain character, particularly the way she fought and dressed. Last but in no way least, I rather liked how well Edgar Ramirez wore his elf / vampire look. It was very much a greater highlight than expected.

A thought that entered my mind soon after I hit ‘play’ on Bright was, I bet Will Smith is super happy about not having to wear any Orc prosthetics or makeup. I know I would be. Who said that acting isn’t hard work?’

Give Bright a chance if you’re curious enough. Or you can always watch / re-watch End Of Watch, if not some other good buddy / cop movie.

Happy Film Loving

G

HOUSE OF Z (2017): The Thing I liked…

House Of Z (2017), Zac Posen
House Of Z (2017), Zac Posen

House Of Z, the Sandy Chronopoulos directed documentary about the life and career of fashion designer Zac Posen is an interesting watch. Especially for those curious about the nature and challenges of working in the fashion industry as a designer.

Featuring video footage of a young Posen’s early life and interviews with his collaborators, family and friends, House Of Z does an adequate job of painting a clear picture that shows us more than just the creations that speak of Posen’s undeniable talent. We learn about just how instrumental the support of his family was in his early success. We also learn about what went wrong, Posen’s eventual fall from grace followed by an update of what the designer is doing now.

If you’ve seen one or more fashion films or documentaries, you can probably guess that the classic battle between art and commerce is covered in this film. The general rule being that bad things happen when that relationship isn’t managed well.

House of Z is not a perfect documentary – in part because some of the editing early on in the film felt quite awkward. But should you be curious enough, watch it for Posen’s artistry – the magnificent dresses and the cautionary tale about the relationship between art plus commerce and finding success at a young age.

The part of House Of Z that I enjoyed most is of course when I got to look at Posen’s truly breathtaking early designs, just as the fashion world was beginning to pay attention. I also liked the beautiful words of Joseph Campbell at the end about ‘following your bliss’.

Happy Film Loving

G

KINGSMAN – THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017): The Thing I Liked…

Kingsman - The Golden Circle (2017), Taron Egerton, Mark Strong
Kingsman – The Golden Circle (2017), Taron Egerton, Mark Strong

This is  probably unsurprising since Kingsman – The Golden Circle is a sequel but I did not enjoy this movie as much as the original. In director Matthew Vaughn’s sequel, the Kingsman head offices are blown up and the kingsmen must team up with an allied spy organisation in the US.

Not that Kingsman – The Secret Service (2014) was super realistic, but something about this follow-up felt quite ridiculous. Starting with the opening scene; somehow it just didn’t feel as thrilling as I’d ordinarily expect. Part of the problem is that I found myself immediately disappointed with the story’s choice of villain, the one we meet in the first few minutes. There’s also the fact that everything happened so suddenly in the first few minutes, whereas I somehow wanted or perhaps expected to be eased into the action, as odd as that may sound.

This movie has one or two fight sequences that harked back to the first film. These scenes played a little too ‘the same’, for my liking. In this way they reminded me of part of the reason why Quantum Of Solace (2008) was such a terrible follow-up to the brilliant Casino Royale (2006). It tried too hard to almost repeat so much of what worked so very well in the first movie.

As for the matter of the main villain of vaughn’s movie, let’s just say that I have officially found a Julianne Moore performance I do not like. In the role of the villain, I did not fully buy into her evil. Is her face simply far too angelic for the kind of evil required? Maybe. What I know for sure is that I didn’t see it in her eyes or feel it through her words and I needed to.

Luckily, there is some good news here; namely the beautifully executed ‘singing scene’ towards the end. I was moved. Overall though, my favourite scene in this film has to be the ‘infiltration’ of Poppy’s compound. That’s the moment I saw a fight scene that truly felt as though it belonged to Kingsman – The Golden Circle. Rather than something borrowed from Kingsman – The Secret Service and as a result, felt quite tedious.

Watch it if you’re very curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

NORMAN (2016): There’s Something I Liked…

Norman (2016), Richard Gere
Norman (2016), Richard Gere

Immediately I failed to warm to Norman (Richard Gere). Not that I was supposed to warm to him exactly, but the fact that writer / director Joseph Cedar’s Norman Oppenheimer is quite the massive nuisance made continuing to watch this movie quite the challenge.

I did however find the strength to continue because I wanted to learn about how the life of a small time operator, a.k.a. New York fixer, a.k.a. total ‘bull**** artist’ would dramatically change. I had to see how his life would change for better and worse after he befriends a young politician at a low point in his life.

In my clearly desperate quest to be there when Norman finally got his comeuppance, I encountered a scene I liked a lot. Namely the wonderfully satisfying moment when Norman gets caught out in one of his many, many lies and he’s outsmarted by a target. That beautifully acted moment at the ‘private dinner’ really helped me come to terms with my decision to continue watching this movie.

As is the case in House of Cards, a political drama where those who are constant nuisances to very powerful people tend to ‘expire’ quite quickly, I imagined that at some point Norman might suffer the same fate. In Cedar’s story, Norman doesn’t quite end up ceasing to exist, but as the synopsis promises, his life does become both better and worse.

A great cast that includes Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Josh Charles didn’t do badly in their roles. I guess I just generally have little patience for Norman-like nuisances and this movie is all about a massive nuisance called Norman.

Watch it if you like or are curious about small time operators, New York fixer types, total ‘bull**** artists’ and that sort of thing.

Happy Film Loving

G

I, TONYA (2017): Good, Notable Performances…

I, Tonya (2017), Margot Robbie
I, Tonya (2017), Margot Robbie

I, Tonya, the true story of competitive ice skater Tonya Harding, and the unfortunate events that led to the end of her career is a movie well done. Directed by Craig Gillespie, the film is structured and captured in a way that’s engaging both in style and content.

I found myself impressed by all the performances. Robbie’s portrayal is memorable because of what she was able to achieve both physically and emotionally. There’s been talk of how impressive her solo scene in front of the mirror is and it really is. But the moment that moved me most takes place in the court room, immediately following sentencing.

As Hardings’ abusive mother, Allison Janney did brilliantly. This of course didn’t surprise me because Janney always delivers. Always. The hateful truth of her character was conveyed so perfectly in her entire being and very clearly through her eyes. 

Until this movie, I hadn’t really seen Sebastian Stan in much, except his work in Marvel’s Captain America and Avengers movies; because of what he did with his role as Hardings’ abusive husband, I’m now more interested than ever before in what he does next. Other highlights in Gillespie’s film include the well chosen music.

I say watch this movie for the performances and the story. I’ll in the meantime, busy myself with looking forward to Robbie’s next leading role in a drama.

Happy Film Loving

G

WORKING GIRL (1988): The Things I Liked…

Working Girl (1988), Melanie Griffith
Working Girl (1988), Melanie Griffith

Directed by Mike Nichols, Working Girl stars Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver. It’s a story about Tess McGill (Griffith), a secretary whose boss steals her big idea so she seizes the opportunity to take it back.

As the movie started, right away it was pretty clear to me that Working Girl was going to be ‘lifting’; a movie that left me happy and motivated. I knew this mainly because of the memorable Carly Simon song (‘Let The River Run’) in the opening sequence and the close shots of Lady Liberty.

Set in 1980s New York, there’s of course, no escaping the big hair and shoulder pads. There’s also no getting away from the kind of sexism and office politics women were subjected to in the workplace, at the time. It’s McGill’s navigation of these challenges as best she can that confirms why this film, though not perfect, it remains a favourite whilst having good re-watch value, particularly among the ladies. Nearly thirty years have passed since Working Girl was released and I’m glad to have finally seen it. It’s the sisterhood, especially towards the very end that happens to be my favourite thing and moment in this film. I also liked the movie’s depiction of what I recognised as ‘the power couple.

One  thought that came to mind a few times as I watched is whether Melanie Griffith is really as softly spoken as her character. McGill is no ‘low talker,’ like in ‘The Puffy Shirt’ Seinfeld episode – but still… I wonder.

Happy Film Loving

G