Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

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

ANNA (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Anna (2019), Sasha Luss
Anna (2019), Sasha Luss

The story of writer /director Luc Besson’s Anna is one that I don’t completely regret watching but I certainly didn’t love it either.

Anna stars Sasha Luss as Anna Poliatova; a stunning beauty with impressive secret skills and strength. Qualities that make her one of the world’s most feared government assassins.

I sat down to watch Anna with mild expectations of the film probably having similarities to Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde (2017)The main difference I found between Anna and Atomic Blonde is that even though Anna is quite engaging overall, Anna unlike Atomic Blonde, left me feeling as though the whole experience was almost completely hollow. Very surface level and in some ways a tad silly.

It’s interesting because the acting wasn’t terrible. Therefore, I’m thinking the issue is the story edit which played a part in me having minimal emotional connection to Luss’s character’s journey. Of course I wanted her to win – always, but the the question of ‘why does this feel so frivolous?’ remained with me through to the very end.

Perhaps you’ll find Anna to be a better experience than I did. The fight scenes, though not the most polished I’ve ever seen, they are quite entertaining. Give it a chance and see if you’re especially curious. Or…

…watch Atomic Blonde instead.

Happy Film Loving

G

FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS – HOBBS & SHAW (2019): The Things I Liked…

Fast & Furious Presents - Hobbs & Shaw (2019), Jason Statham
Fast & Furious Presents – Hobbs & Shaw (2019), Jason Statham

I personally haven’t watched a Fast & Furious movie in a very long time because I was never overly enthused by them. The main reason I tuned in to Fast & Furious Presents – Hobbs & Shaw is the fun trailer and its main star, Dwayne Johnson. Another reason is the promise of entertaining brotherly banter between Johnson’s Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Shaw, because they’re forced to work together.

My experience with the older Fast & Furious movies I’ve seen prepared me to not expect anything more than some action packed – yet light entertaining fun. As such, when I found myself thinking: ‘It’s OK but I feel as though something’s missing’ – that ‘something’ being depth and notable acting, I was neither mad nor surprised. I did enjoy the chemistry between Statham and Johnson. I just wish that a fair amount of the amusing quips between the two weren’t used up in the trailer. What stands out most for me in Hobbs & Shaw is a very well executed and captured stunt or two – or three. One of them being the motorbike under the truck manoeuvre. 

Other key highlights include, the characters played by Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart. I also loved that gorgeous ring on Helen Mirren’s character’s finger. It certainly stole almost all of my attention during the prison visit scene.

As for the less memorable aspects of Hobbs & Shaw, they would be me finding Idris Elba’s villainy to be OK rather than great. There’s also the matter of the first two songs that played once the movie started – not the best choice in my humble opinion. 

There’s indeed some fun to be had with director David Leitch’s action / adventure. Just remember not to expect too much and enjoy the stunts.

Happy Film Loving 

G

WRINKLES THE CLOWN (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Wrinkles The Clown (2019), Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing
Wrinkles The Clown (2019), Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing

Is that even a good idea?’ 

‘Couldn’t that type of thing scar the children?’ 

‘Who is this Wrinkles anyway, and why?’ 

These are just some of the questions that were flying around in my head as the trailer played for new documentary Wrinkles The Clown; a film about a clown in Florida who gets hired by parents to scare their ill-behaved children.

What I like most about director / co-writer Michael Beach Nichols’s movie is that it provides answers to all the questions aI had. Answers delivered by parents, children and a psychology expert. We also get to hear from clowns who only ever aim to bring cheer and others in Florida plus different parts of the U.S. who’ve had some kind of experience with Wrinkles

Overall, I think the most revealing thing in Wrinkles The Clown is perhaps what the person who dresses up as Wrinkles actually thinks about parents who hire him to scare their children. For me personally, as someone who’s always had an over-active imagination, I really can’t imagine ever concluding that hiring a scary looking clown to scare my ill-behaved currently hypothetical children into good behaviour could ever be a good idea. But then again, my ill-behaved children truly are completely hypothetical.

I admit that Winkles The Clown isn’t exactly in my list of favourite documentaries, especially on account of the story edit but I’m happy to have got answers to all my questions and learned a thing or two about the history of clowns.

Give Winkles The Clown a chance if you’re really, really curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

IT CHAPTER 2 (2019): The Things I Liked…

It Chapter 2, Warner Bros. Pictures
It Chapter 2, Warner Bros. Pictures

Even though I definitely can’t say I had a great time during all of the two hours and forty nine minute run time of of director Andy Muschietti’s IT Chapter 2, the last hour or so was pretty thrilling.

Starring James McAvoy, Javier Botet, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and Bill Skarsgård, I had to watch this final installment of the IT (1990) remake because the cast and trailers were great. I was also determined since this was essentially my last chance to see if I found any of the IT movies scary all. I definitely had a lot of feelings throughout but unfortunately, once again, scared really wasn’t one of them. At the very best I was very grossed out by the scene with the 8 plus legged severed head. I enjoyed much of the visual effects and the acting. Unlike in the 1990 IT film, this time both the children and the adult versions of the children performed pretty well.

IT - Chapter 2 (2019), Jessica Chastain, Warner Bros. Pictures
IT – Chapter 2 (2019), Jessica Chastain, Warner Bros. Pictures

As for the question of why the first hour and forty minutes of IT Chapter 2 wasn’t great, it certainly didn’t help that due to the editing and some characters looking similar, I didn’t find it easy to follow in terms of who was playing the adult version of whom. The other key reason is the pace. I know that much of the film is set in Derry, Maine which is essentially a slower moving place than a city, but that doesn’t mean the story had to move that slowly, surely? I remember that an hour into the film, I found myself disappointed to not even be half way through the movie.

There were also unfortunately some moments where I couldn’t fully suspend my disbelief. Firstly, the biting of the little girl’s head; how on earth did she not scream? Secondly, at the reunion dinner, how did it take so long for the restaurant workers to check on the disturbance, especially considering all the screaming and banging? Last but not least, the scene where Chastain’s character performs a certain feat of strength towards the end. I just don’t honestly believe she possessed the physical strength required to do what she did.

Overall though, thanks to the good performances – particularly by McAvoy and Chastain, plus the fun special effects, IT Chapter 2 is worth watching, if you’re curious. Especially so if you have more patience than I. 

Lastly, I couldn’t help but conclude by the end that Muschietti’s film seems to be quite a good advert for why therapy is important and often a good idea.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE WEEKEND (2019): The Things I Liked…

The Weekend (2019), DeWanda Wise, Tone Bell, Sasheer Zamata
The Weekend (2019), DeWanda Wise, Tone Bell, Sasheer Zamata

The Weekend, a Stella Meghie written / directed movie about a comedian who goes away for the weekend with an ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend is a comedy with some well acted funny moments. What I enjoyed right away was the musical score and the chilled vibe of Zadie, the comic played by Sasheer Zamata, while she was on stage.

As for what I didn’t necessarily enjoy a great deal, I basically see Meghie’s film as ‘a story about when heartbreak makes a person barely bearable’. In other words, Zamata’s Zadie character – though well-acted, simply proved too petulant and annoying for me. Perhaps I’m just sympathasing a lot with Margo (DeWanda Wise) but I much preferred the on-stage version of Zadie, once she’d turned the pain of heartbreak into humour, rather than the one that insisted on making others uncomfortable at every opportunity. 

One other personal highlight is Kym Whitley. At least two of my favourite lines came out of her character Karen’s mouth. 

Watch The Weekend if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

ÁGA (2018): The Things I Liked…

Ága (2018), Mikhail Aprosimov, Feodosia Ivanova, Madman Films
Ága (2018), Mikhail Aprosimov, Feodosia Ivanova, Madman Films

Ága is a well acted drama about Nannok and Sedna, a couple who chose to stay behind in the snow covered fields of the north, after their grown up children fly the nest to chase opportunity. They stayed even though they appear to be the only people remaining in a place where the ice has been melting earlier every year and hunting for food has become more and more difficult.

Ága is an interesting and well shot story about family, forgiveness and a changing way of life. Changes due in large part to environmental factors.

Even though some shots felt as though they lasted a tad too long for my tastes, I liked the way Lazarov’s movie showed the seemingly monotonous day-to-day of Nannok and Sedna’s lives. Their closeness and the reality of being so vulnerable to the elements, while being very dependent on each other for survival was more engaging than expected. This is likely in some part because of the sense throughout most of the film, that there’s a t least one largely unspoken tension between the pair. Tensions with rather well executed pay-offs.

Additionally, bearing in mind the absence of vibrant colours and the seemingly endless fields of white snow, thanks to the the talented cast, the editing, framing, cinematography, etc., I wasn’t as bored as I feared I might be. In fact, I mostly found beauty in the endless snow fields, which, at some points felt, dare I say, meditative.

Give Ága a chance for a little something different and beautiful. Just don’t do it though if you’re already kind f tired. Especially since there’ll definitely be no arguments, explosions or very loud noises to wake you up.

Happy Film Loving

G

K-12 (2019): The Things I Liked…

K-12 (2019), Melanie Martinez
K-12 (2019), Melanie Martinez

Starring, written and directed by Melanie Martinez, K-12 is a fantasy / horror / musical about two best friends and their mission to take down an oppressive schooling system. A schooling system where students are force fed medication to stop them from revolting / leaving and teachers are more concerned with exerting their authority than anything else. 

K-12 is essentially Martinez holding a mirror up to several of America and society’s recent and long standing ills and social injustice issues. Issues including but not limited to bullying, transphobia, police brutality, suicide, women’s rights, body image and racial discrimination. K-12 also features several positive and  uplifting messages that many of her young fans no doubt appreciate. For example…

‘The greatest power we will hold is that of acceptance’

‘Any strain we face will transform itself into a crystal rainbow in divine timing’

K-12 (2019), Emma Harvey
K-12 (2019), Emma Harvey, Hair by William Scott Blair

Having not really been aware of Martinez and her music prior to K-12, I was drawn to her aesthetic, the creativity and humour in the K-12 trailer. The world Martinez’s film occupies is visually interesting. I enjoyed the costumes, hair and endless pink – a feature reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). 

The music in K-12 certainly isn’t bad either – even though I have to admit that there was a point where it all started sounding the same. Yet, even with that said, a week has passed since I watched K-12 and I can’t deny that I wrote this entire review while listening to all the film’s music. Some things just grow on you,I guess. The vocals and production on Wheels On The Bus and Strawberry Cupcake are two key highlights.

There was definitely a  point when it felt like the film could have been 30 minutes shorter. Still, I don’t regret watching K-12. It’s quite the filmic and musical achievement for the young (24) and talented Miss Martinez. On another note, I think my not especially beady but certainly observant eyeballs may have noticed a continuity error regarding a cut on a character’s arm that materialized on her upper arm, only for it to be misrepresented on her forearm a short while later.

You can watch K-12 on Melanie Martinez’s YouTube channel. It’s free and also definitely more than a whole load of pink, puffy sleeves and baby doll dresses.

Happy Film Loving

G