Written and directed by William Nicholson; starring Annette Bening, Bill Nighy and Josh O’Connor, Hope Gap is a new drama / romance about a husband who tells his wife that he’s leaving her during a visit with their son.
Additional key cast includes Aiysha Hart, Ryan McKen, Nicholas Burns, Rose Keegan, Steven Pacey…
Can I really take another divorce movie so soon after Marriage Story (2019)? My heart is unsure but my head is saying ‘Yes please! You love Bening and Nighy!’ And just like that I shall. I mean, it’s not released for another one and a half months afterall.
Also, does anyone else think that Bening’s English accent kind of sounds a lot like the ever delightful Emma Thompson?
Derren Litten, Nicholas Blane, Ninette Finch, Sally Rogers, Jason Lines and Steven Pacey also star.
Emilia Clarke, George Michael’s music (which is supposed to be heavily featured) and Emma Thompson are among the key reasons I felt drawn to Last Christmas, the latest comedy / romance from Spy (2015) director Paul Feig.
Also starring Henry Golding, at the centre of the film is Kate, a young woman who works at a Christmas store as Santa’s elf. Kate also happens to be subscribed to making bad decisions; a truth that only starts to change after she meets the seemingly perfect Tom (Golding).
I found myself immediately happy as soon as Last Christmas began, thanks to the beautiful singing at the very beginning. Then came Michelle Yeoh and Thompson’s fun dialogue plus impressive comic and dramatic timing. Another personal highlight is the Covent Garden setting, one of my favourite parts of London.
Overall though, Last Christmas isn’t quite my favourite London based Christmas film – and that’s largely because the story isn’t especially memorable. It really felt watchable at best. The fact that the key revelation towards the end is one I figured out before it was confirmed also didn’t help my enjoyment of Feig’s film. Additionally, I really expected George Michael’s music to be more prominently featured. However, in fairness, it may also be that I’m not quite as familiar with Michael’s back catalogue as I thought.
Last Christmas is kind of ‘easy viewing’ and it’s one you watch if you’re curious enough. Also, maybe watch it for Yeoh and Thompson’s fun performances; plus the rather beautiful singing at the very beginning.
Olympic Dreams is the story of the bond that grows between a young cross-country skier (after her competition ends) and a volunteer doctor.
Directed by Jeremy Teicher; Olympic Dreams stars Nick Kroll, Alexi Pappas…
I’m mostly curious about Kroll’s performance and precisely why his character seemed so taken aback by ‘the lunge’.
There’s also the ‘comedy running’ at 0:42 seconds into this trailer that made me giggle. Especially since Kroll is acting and he chose that level of tired running. Maybe I’m just too familiar with his comic personality. Or, that’s how truly exhausted non-athlete runners look – and I just don’t know.
Starring Kelvin Harrison Jr., Sterling K. Brown, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie and Lucas Hedges, Waves is a coming of age, raw, emotional and sometimes funny drama / romance centred around the teenage children of a couple in modern day America.
I liked the way Waves opened; the colours, camera angles and music, all of which worked to remind us of the seemingly carefree youthful abandon of late adolescence. As hectic, bright and beautiful as those moments were, it’s not too long before you realise that everything isn’t quite right. Tensions become apparent and it’s clear something is going to change – and not in a good way.
Tyler (Harrison Jr.) is a promising and troubled high school athlete unable to truly open up to his parents, so he suffers behind closed doors. His younger sister Emily (Taylor Russell) who seems to fade into the background much of the time certainly doesn’t have the focus of her parents – especially her father; at least not the the way her brother does. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s Tyler’s troubles that end up tragically and irrevocably altering the lives of more than just his immediate family.
Considering the themes of familial tragedy and some very modern / American issues, it’s unsurprising that I shed a few tears as Waves played. Particularly because of the very real and raw way writer / director Trey Edward Shults’s film captures the emotional turmoil suffered by its characters. Some of it so heartbreaking that I have to liken certain moments to having to watch an inevitable car crash while being completely unable to help.
Waves is the kind of movie you watch for the film making artistry, great acting and the ways it beautifully and realistically captures some of the most delightful and heartbreaking events in the lives of teenagers and parents in modern America. You will laugh and smile, be very concerned but also often moved by the generosity of spirit displayed before you.
‘Long’ is another word to describe this movie. It’s not quite the bladder busting 3.5 hour length of The Irishman (2019). However, by the half way point in Shults’s well-captured and highly affecting movie, you’ll think ‘Yeah, I think it’s wrapping up now.’ Except it doesn’t wrap up because that’s when act two – or more fittingly, ‘the second wave’ begins. And sit back you must, because you’re going to need what it has to tell you, especially after the tragedy of ‘the first wave’.
Starring Sonequa Martin-Green, Romany Malco and La La Anthony, I was initially drawn to Holiday Rushfor the festive theme, the decorations (which were OK) and hopefully a good story of someone making their way back after a setback.
I like the general outline of the way popular radio DJ Rush Williams (Malco) managed to bounce back after suffering a career disappointment. And I’m not mad at how, like almost every Christmas themed movie with a focus on family, love and togetherness, Holiday Rush had its own version of a ‘Christmas miracle.’ Meaning that everything came together in the end, just in time for December 25th.
My issue is with the execution. Director Leslie Small’s story relied quite a bit on the usual cliches to build the story and move things along, sometimes in a way that unfortunately felt rushed and contrived in places. Acting-wise, Malco and Martin-Green didn’t do badly. The story edit just didn’t help anyone overall.
At a push, the brief musical performance towards the end is likely my favourite thing about Holiday Rush.
If you’re super curious, Netflix is where it’s at.
Plus One is one of those ‘they’re definitely going to end up together but they just don’t know it yet’ movies.
Directed by Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer and starring Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid, the two leads play two friends who happen to be single during wedding season, and so they decide to go to the weddings they’ve been invited to as each other’s plus one.
I enjoyed the humour about all the things that often make weddings awkward and / or fun. Performance wise, I found Plus One completely faultless. The chemistry between Erskine and Quaid was great and I particularly enjoyed Erskine’s drunk acting / dancing and her character’s testing yet endearing charm.
I must confess that I had more fun with Plus One and the charming dialogue before the graveyard scene. A scene after which things became a little more serious and emotional. Overall though, I don’t regret watching Plus One because it has just the kind of charming quality I was after.