Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

LYING AND STEALING (2019): The Things I Liked…

Lying And Stealing (2019), Theo James, Emily Ratajkowski, Vertical Entertainment US
Lying And Stealing (2019), Theo James, Emily Ratajkowski, Vertical Entertainment US

Crime / drama Lying & Stealing has Emily Ratajkowski as an aspiring Hollywood actress with debts, and Theo James as a gifted art thief who wants out of the game. To get straight to the point, I neither love nor hate Lying & Stealing. I was drawn to it mainly because I like the two lead actors.

The premise of Lying & Stealing is nothing new and this is part of the reason the movie isn’t especially notable. What I did like right away about director Matt Aselton’s film is the Yiddish proverb shown at the very beginning: ‘When a thief kisses you, count your teeth’. The second highlight for me is the scene with the bloody nose in the car towards the end – because it’s satisfying and nicely executed. Everything else in-between simply wasn’t bad enough for me to stop watching. In fact, the film seemed to become that little bit more engaging as the conflicts the protagonists were facing got closer to a resolution.

As for the parts of Aselton’s movie that stood out in a bad way, that would be the camera work at the very start of the opening party scene; ‘Unnecessarily dizzying’ is the phrase. So much so that I literally had to shield my eyes. Then there’s the movie’s single sex scene which had me convinced that the filmmakers must have been thinking something along the lines of: ‘OK guys. We have two incredibly attractive people here. It would be madness to miss out on featuring them in at least one intimate scene – even if it is gratuitous. Theo, Emily, let’s get to work!

Last and not necessarily least, the hue of the red wine in the movie. Is it me or was that particular hue of red especially unconvincing? I confess that I actually don’t drink alcohol, so maybe I shouldn’t be the one to comment – but still!

Watch Lying & Stealing, only if you really must.

Happy Film Loving

G

PHIL (2019): It’s…

Phil (2019), Greg Kinnear, Bradley Whitford
Phil (2019), Greg Kinnear, Bradley Whitford

Amusement and being moved emotionally; these were my hopes for Greg Kinnear’s directorial debut Phil. A drama / comedy about a depressed dentist who’s in the midst of a mid life crisis when his happiest patient suddenly commits suicide. After learning of this tragic news, Phil dedicates himself – in a far from reasonable way to finding out why his favourite patient ended things. 

Also starring Bradley Whitford, Taylor Schilling and Emily Mortimer, the phrase ‘this is surprisingly good’ is unfortunately not where my mind went as Kinnear’s movie played. Instead, my mind was busy saying ‘Phil… Phil… Phil, Phil, Phil’.

The reason for all the Phils is this, there’s a certain simplicity to Kinnear’s script and general execution that meant pretty early on in the movie, I was barely engaged. Even though I didn’t hate Bradley Whitford’s performance, liked Jay Duplass’s character and I believed Kinnear’s Phil to be truly miserable, what I didn’t believe is several of the decisions made by certain people in the story. And perhaps even more crucially, I didn’t believe that anyone should have been convinced of Phil as a native of Greece. The fact that several key characters appeared to be convinced is a truth that only made the whole experience of Phil feel even more ludicrous. 

I’m clearly not going to recommend watching this one, except of course, if you really, definitely, absolutely, life depends on it must must. 

Happy Film Loving

G

THE AFTERMATH (2019) Costume Design – Keira Knightley’s Beautiful Outfits…

Read my spoiler-free movie review of The Aftermath (2019)


Today’s post is a celebration of my favourite of Keira Knightley’s beautiful outfits in The Aftermath (2019). I just Love the clothes and the glorious way they’re lit and framed. A big hooray for costume designer Bojana Nikitovic!

The Aftermath (2019), Keira Knightley

This green jacket, white blouse, silver brooch look is my absolute favourite.

The Aftermath (2019), Keira Knightley

And once more with a hat.

The Aftermath (2019), Keira Knightley

I’m sure it’s not at all often that cardigans have looked this good. Am I right or am I right? That red line detail really makes it for me

The Aftermath (2019), Keira Knightley

I’ve always known that yellow and red were meant to be together. That beautiful hint of blue is also a very nice touch.

The Aftermath (2019), Keira Knightley

Silk / satin and that light. This one doesn’t show much but I know you know the yellow dress is stunning.

The Aftermath (2019), Keira Knightley

Classic and classy are the words for blue coat and white shirt – and who doesn’t want to be in a restaurant as well lit as this one right here.

Do you happen to have a favourite? It’s OK if your answer is ‘all of them’. That’s kind of my answer too.

Happy Film Loving

G

ROCKETMAN (2019): The Things I Liked…

Rocketman (2019), Taron Egerton, Paramount Pictures
Rocketman (2019), Taron Egerton, Paramount Pictures

As confirmed in my recent review of The Greatest Showmanwhich I loved, I’m a fan of very few musicals. In fact, when a musical comes along that I’m curious enough about, I prepare myself mentally to have to sit through at least 3 musical numbers that I’d much rather skip or fast forward.

The good news about director Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman, a biography of singer, songwriter, pianist and composer Elton John is that, even though I did definitely want to fast forward through two or three musical moments, there were at least three or more that I wish lasted for double the time.

Rocketman is for me, a notable achievement for all involved. The entire cast including Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden and Bryce Dallas Howard all performed very well. A great relief since I actually wasn’t sure about Egerton when I heard he’d be playing John. My doubts were very much silenced soon after the film started. Not only did Egerton perform well musically, but some of my favourite scenes are when he’s portraying the singer at his most vulnerable. I actually had no idea that John’s story was quite so heartbreaking. I’m therefore really glad knowing how much happier his life appears to be now.

‘Rocketman’, ‘I’m Still Standing’ and ‘Your Song’ are my favourite of all the music performance scenes. I particularly love the scene that shows how ‘Your Song’ actually came to be; a scene as moving as the sentiment behind the song itself.

Egerton and Madden’s on screen chemistry and Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance won’t be forgotten by me anytime soon. I also won’t be forgetting the great friendship at the heart of Rocketman. Said friendship is perhaps the most beautiful part.

Watch it because it’s good.

Happy Film Loving

G

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (2019): The Things I Liked…

Water For Elephants (2019), Reece Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson

Directed by Francis Lawrence; starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz, Water For Elephants is a drama / romance about a young man who takes a job in a travelling circus and ends up falling in love with the ringmaster’s wife.

My reasons for watching this one include the fact that I’m a fan of Witherspoon, elephants are majestic and just a few days ago, I happened to be in the mood for a film that wouldn’t prove too emotionally taxing. I’ve also recently watched and loved The Greatest Showman (2017). I therefore needed to find out whether it was possible for me to appreciate another circus movie nearly as much.  

I’ll waste not time in confirming that The Greatest Showman (2017) remains my favourite circus movie. Reason being, even though Water For Elephants proved a not especially taxing viewing experience, by the end of the film, I couldn’t say I loved it. It was just OK. The acting wasn’t bad but I may have enjoyed the film that little bit more had the central love story been stronger and more enthralling. It may also be that I’ve just seen this old fashioned style of storytelling several times before and this particularly version simply wasn’t the best.

I know I’ll likely remember Water For Elephants for the visuals of Witherspoon’s character with the beautiful white horse and also for bringing to mind the value of the kindness of strangers. Especially in terms of the fact that none of us can really survive without it. 

Watch Water For Elephants if you’re curious enough and / or when the right mood strikes. 

Happy Film Loving

G

GRINGO (2018): The Things I Liked…

Gringo (2018), Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amazon Studios
Gringo (2018), Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amazon Studios

There are three things I like about Gringo director Nash Edgerton’s action / comedy about a former law-abiding citizen (David Oyelowo) who’s turned to crime in order to survive. The first is Charlize Theron, her general awesomeness and her characters beautiful style. The second is the way Gringo is concluded; the ending is kind of surprising but also not, at the same time. I was surprised because I didn’t fully expect the turn the story took but I wasn’t surprised because it was clichéd.

The last thing I like about Gringo is how the movie appears to be a little inspired by one of my all time favourite films; Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). Though I certainly wouldn’t say that Gringo is as smart and as well written as my beloved Lock Stock, it did deliver some laughs. It’s just disappointing that I didn’t find the whole experience as amusing, engaging or exciting as the trailer hinted. 

Watch Gringo if you’re curious. Or if you haven’t definitely watch Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Happy Film Loving

G

RED JOAN (2018): It’s…

Red Joan (2018), Judi Dench, IFC Films
Red Joan (2018), Judi Dench, IFC Films

Red Joan, the Trevor Nunn directed drama / biography based on the true story of Melita Stedman Norwood, the KGB’s longest serving British spy isn’t quite what I’d hoped.

Not that I was expecting James Bond level antics, however, even though Red Joan is adequately acted, there’s a certain absence of excitement in Nunn’s story. I remained curious enough to watch till the end, but the way the movie is written and edited certainly didn’t allow for me to become very strongly invested emotionally in how things would turn out for the protagonist(s).

Furthermore, I felt as though not enough was delved into as deeply as needed. For example, the film barely sold Joan to me as a person who really believed in saving the world. Assuming she wasn’t lying about her motivations, I wanted to know and understand if by the end she was in fact delusional or was she to some level effective in her mission, as she believed.

Sure, watch Red Joan if you absolutely must. Otherwise, for a loosely similar but far more brilliantly executed film… The Imitation Game (2014).

Happy Film Loving

G

THE AFTERMATH (2019): The Things I Liked…

The Aftermath (2019), Keira Knightley, Fox Searchlight
The Aftermath (2019), Keira Knightley, Fox Searchlight

Set in Hamberg, Germany, in director James Kent’s post WWII drama The Aftermath, Jason Clarke plays British colonel Lewis Morgan. Morgan is assigned to live in Hamberg where his wife Rachael (Keira Knightly) reluctantly agrees to join him. The house provided to the colonel is occupied by German architect Stephen (Alexander Skarsgård) and his daughter, who now have to move out with the arrival of the British couple. It is the resultant tensions between the film’s characters inside and outside the house that helped keep me interested in The Aftermath.

I like the way parts of Kent’s film is lit, shot and edited. The latter particularly in regards to the truth of the nature of Morgan’s relationship with his wife. Even though The Aftermath is set during quite a sad time for many of the characters, I didn’t find the experience of watching the movie to be especially depressing – which is probably thanks to all the romance. I mean, they do say that there’s nothing like love to lift one’s spirits.

In addition to the romance, I adored the gorgeous main house in which several scenes are shot. It certainly proved a welcome contrast to all the bombing rubble outside. Another highlight I noticed at trailer stage is Rachael’s attire. It seems as though Knightley always gets to wear great clothing in her movies. Perhaps it’s written into her contract. Either that or she just has the ability to make clothes look fantastic. The latter definitely seems more likely.

Watch The Aftermath if you’re curious. It’s not perfect but there are things to like about it. One thing you may realise by the end is just how perfect the film’s title really is – considering all the various ‘aftermaths’ within.

Happy Film Loving

G