Tag Archives: Film Review

VICE (2018): The Things I Liked…

Vice (2018), Christian Bale
Vice (2018), Christian Bale

Vice, writer /director Adam McKay’s biography of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), the most powerful Vice President in history is a movie I both enjoyed and did not enjoy.

The parts I found least engaging were the moments that explained the ins and outs of the White House and / or American politics during Cheney’s time as VP. It’s quite unfortunate because I’d actually hoped that Vice would be a movie that caught me up on some of America’s political history. It turns out that the way McKay’s story is told just didn’t hold my attention the way I’d hoped it would. 

The parts that did have me most engaged were the moments that revealed Cheney’s character and emotional journey. Especially as he grew into a successful man. To put it another way, I liked the parts that revealed Cheney’s heart, the character study rather than the political details of his operations post 9/11.

Where his wife Lynn Cheney (Amy Adams) is concerned, even though I may not agree with much of what she stands for, it was great to see a strong, confident woman speaking up for herself and taking charge of her destiny. 

In addition to the great performances by Bale, Adams, Steve Carell, and Sam Rockwell, I also want to congratulate the makeup and prosthetics team for a job well done. I was most impressed by the transformation of Rockwell into George W. Bush.

As for the all important question of whether Vice is worth your time… if politics, American politics in particular is especially interesting to you, perhaps give it a go. I can’t guarantee that you’ll like the way McKay chose to tell this tory but you may enjoy the content. I myself probably would have stopped watching Vice long before the end if I wasn’t such a big fan of Bale and Adams.  

Watch it if you’re so curious.

Happy Film Loving 

G

SMALLFOOT (2018): The Thing I Liked…

Smallfoot (2018), Channing Tatum
Smallfoot (2018), Channing Tatum

After being told his whole life that humans don’t exist, young Yeti Migo (Channing Tatum) finds evidence to the contrary and wants all his people to know. Except that things don’t quite go as he expected.

Co-written and directed by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig, I like the way Smallfoot flips the story of Yetis and humans by telling it from the perspective of Yetis. I also appreciated what Smallfoot had to say about the errors in the ways we tend to treat those we see as very different from us and how counterproductive the lies we tell to protect can sometimes become.

With other key cast including Zendaya, Common, Danny DeVito and James Corden, in terms of the film’s general execution, I’d say it’s somewhere between OK and OK-ish. Part of the reason is that I just didn’t find the writing as fun and good as the trailer led me to expect and hope. A part of me also wishes that Smallfoot didn’t have the musical numbers. I mean, I definitely wouldn’t have minded so much if I felt that most of the songs and singing were great. 

The moment the film had me most engaged is towards the end and during the scenes when the Yetis were being pursued. If I had to pick the most memorable moment for me in the whole film, that’s definitely when a very everyday human item is amusingly referred to as ‘the scroll of invisible wisdom.’

Watch Smallfoot if you’re very, very curious.

Happy Film Loving 

G

VENOM (2018): The Thing I Liked…

Venom (2018), Tom Hardy
Venom (2018), Tom Hardy

Even though Marvel’s Venom is definitely not in my top five list of favourite superhero movies – or my top five list of Marvel movies for that matter, I still found a scene that I loved.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer; starring Tom Hardy, Jenny Slate, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed, I’m not sure that the worst thing about Venom is the performances. For me, the key issues exist in three areas, the story editing / script, the final version of the fully formed CGI embodiment of Venom and Venom’s actual speaking voice, All these elements left me less impressed than I’d hoped to be.

To give an example of my issue with the story, I know that Brock, who later becomes Venom is supposed to be an antihero but because of his highly inconsiderate behaviour during the Colton Drake interview early on in the movie, I think I had trouble fully being on his side after that. I mean, he’s still the protagonist and I didn’t want him to get hurt; yet I was reasonably annoyed for his girlfriend. As a result, it wasn’t actually until the desperate scene in the restaurant that I was most moved; both by how helpless Brock seemed in those moments and by Tom Hardy’s arresting performance.

Along with a less cartoonish looking CGI version of Venom and Riot, I really did expect a far slicker execution from Marvel Studios overall; one where the finished product hit all the right notes in terms of what makes a good film and had me feeling like: Yes! YES! I knew this would be good!instead of: ‘Yeah… it’s really not the best. What a shame.’

Watch it if you’re curious enough and if you’re a serious comic book fan, no doubt you’ll have a better time than I did.

For me, the title of ‘favourite superhero movie’ still belongs to The Avengers (2012).

Happy film Loving 

G

THE FAVOURITE (2018): The Things I Liked…

The Favourite (2018), Olivia Colman
The Favourite (2018), Olivia Colman

The story of the The Favourite is set in the 18th century and centres on England’s Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), whose close friend, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) steps in to govern England because the queen is too frail. 

Director Yorgos Lanthimos’s film starts off relatively pleasantly even though the atmosphere is quite tense. The tension continues and things take a darker turn as the true motivations of the key players surrounding  the queen begin to emerge. As a result, I find myself feeling more and more sorry for Anne, especially in her unfortunately frail state and considering the tragedies she’s already endured.

Woven in with the tension and darkness is humour which I enjoyed and a noticeable amount of definitely gratuitous but also well placed profanity. I liked the central performances by Coleman, Weisz and Emma Stone. I’ve never seen Stone’s generally very sweet looking face and big beautiful eyes take quite the less than sweet look they do in this movie. As for Coleman, I always knew she was capable with comedy (Peep Showmy favourite sitcom of all time) and she really does well in this heartbreaking dramatic role. No wonder she’s already won the Golden Globe for Best Performance By An Actress in A Motion Picture.

The makeup and 18th century costumes on both the men and women did well in delivering some fun and entertainment. Especially considering that many men walked around in massive wigs, quite a lot of makeup and ladies, especially the queen wore dresses with rather puffy sleeves and skirts. 

The Favourite is not at the top of my list as far as movies about British royalty are concerned but I did have a good time. Watch it because it’s generally good and who knows, you might love it, even more so if you like rabbits.

Happy Film Loving

G

YOU ME AND HIM (2017): The Thing I Liked…

You, Me & Him (2017), Lucy Punch, David Tennant
You, Me & Him (2017), Lucy Punch, David Tennant

You, Me and Him is just what I thought it would be, an adequately charming British comedy that put a smile on my face on a day when I didn’t want my movie choice to ask too much of me.  

Starring Lucy Punch, Faye Marsay and David Tennant, the story centres around a lesbian couple who both end up making rather bad decisions because both parties are not exactly in the same place regarding the question of having children. Things get even more complicated when their Scottish neighbour befriends them. 

Though the film was quite awkward at first, I enjoyed the unique story and general Britishness of director Daisy Aitkens’s movie. And Tennant’s beard, the other thing that drew me to this movie certainly didn’t let me down. 

Overall, I wouldn’t call You Me and Him the best British comedy I’ve seen in a while. I found Finding Your Feet (2017) to be that little bit more charming. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I won’t remember You Me and Him for enlightening me to the truth of just how good pink hair looks with grey eyes.

Watch it for the easy viewing experience and the charm.

Happy Film Loving 

G

HALLOWEEN (2018): The Thing I Liked…

Halloween (2018), Jamie Lee Curtis
Halloween (2018), Jamie Lee Curtis

In the David Gordon Green followup to the 1978 horror movie hit Halloween the story of Halloween (2018) centres around second time mental hospital escapee and serial Halloween night masked murderer Mike Myers. 

Myers returns to the town he once terrorised forty Halloween nights ago, to wreak more havoc. He’s especially set on getting to Laurie Strode, the then teenage girl – now grandmother who once narrowly escaped from Myers. Knowing that they would one day meet again, Strode has spent the past four decades preparing to kill him.

Myers of course kills many others while en route to Strode and we end up seeing a mixture of scary, impressive not so scary or impressive and sometimes quite unconvincing moments in Gordon Green’s film. I watched the 1978 movie when I was just 17, so maybe I’ll find it less impressive now but I do vaguely recall finding it more impressive compared to my feelings about this new movie.

I found some of the Halloween (2018) special effects makeup to be less convincing than expected. A key example being a scene closer to the end when an adult face gets stepped on hard by Myers, and said face seems to fall apart almost like something resembling a large peeled grapefruit. I’m no scientist so I could be wrong, but surely for someone’s skull to be crushed like that, I’m almost certain that greater force is required than what’s shown in the aforementioned moment. After that particular disappointment, my mind went to… ‘Isn’t it 2018? surely horror film special effects have come quite a way by now? No?’

Overall, Halloween isn’t as thrilling, scary and impressive as it could have been. I found myself needing to know more about Myers. I needed more than the psychiatrists description of him as something like ‘pure evil’. I’m sure the fact that we don’t ever get to see Myers’s face had a negative effect on how much I was able believe the darkness that’s supposed to exist within him. I think I needed to believe in the darkness more in order for me to really be scared. Otherwise all I essentially have is a not particularly horrifying figure who wears a creepy mask and somehow never seems to run. 

As a non regular viewer of scary movies, what I enjoyed most about Halloween is the parts where we learn about and see how the trauma of that fateful Halloween night forty years prior affected Strode and her family. I also enjoyed Andi Matichak’s portrayal of Laurie’s granddaughter – especially before I realised that Jamie Lee Curtis as the young Laurie has a far better horror movie scream.

Other thoughts that crossed my mind as the movie played include…

‘He’s so annoying and a total a******. Of course he’s going to die.’ 

‘I wish that the scene where the granddaughter finally gets separated from her phone didn’t ring quite as false as it does.’

I just couldn’t help thinking that there’s definitely a better way that could have been done. It sucks when lazy plot devices so obviously feel like lazy and contrived plot devices.

Watch it if you’re so curious.

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE OLD MAN & THE GUN (2018): The Thing I Liked…

The Old Man & The Gun (2018), Robert Redford
The Old Man & The Gun (2018), Robert Redford

Starring Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Donald Glover and Casey Affleck, The Old Man & The Gun is a good, charming – as expected, well acted, engaging and sometimes a little amusing movie.

Part of what makes director David Lowery’s film a unique experience is that unlike most, if not all other bank robber movies you’ve seen, not to say that the pace here is slow because it isn’t, but this one is quite a relaxed experience. Especially when you consider that Forrest Tucker, the real person on whom Redford’s character is based was described by his victims as well mannered and a gentleman; one who even took to smiling as he robbed.

We get to learn a little about Tucker’s life before he becomes a  septuagenarian, yet I still felt as though I needed a whole documentary about him. Particularly since The Old Man & The Gun had me thinking about Tucker’s psychology. How hard did he really try to find something less criminal than robbing banks to make him feel as though he was really living? It’s one thing to be compelled to steal in order to survive, it’s something else to do it because it’s fun and delivers on that ‘alive feeling’.

Considering his polite gentlemanly approach, perhaps Tucker just decided to cause as little harm as possible whilst doing his favourite thing which happened to be criminal and best done whilst pointing a gun. Then again, perhaps not.

My conclusion is this: humans are complicated. Maybe watch The Old Man & The Gun to see an intriguing example of just that. Watch it for the charm and because I think it’s one of Redford’s last movies, if not his very last. I heard he’s retiring.

Lastly, Lowery does well to keep this film engaging but definitely don’t go into this expecting anything like the rather brilliant bank robbing opening sequence of The Dark Knight (2008).Make sure you’re relaxed, in the mood for an easy viewing movie experience and be ready to smile.

Happy film Loving 

G

THE HAPPY PRINCE (2018): The Things I Liked…

The Happy Prince (2018), Rupert Everett
The Happy Prince (2018), Rupert Everett

The Happy Prince is the heartbreaking story of an artist who deserved so much better than the worst of the treatment he received whilst alive. The artist in question is the now very much deservedly adored and celebrated Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde.

Starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth and Emily Watson, I wanted to learn about the untold story of the tragic times leading up to Wilde’s last days. As a fan of his work and many of his great quotes, I had somehow imagined that I’d be hearing famous Wilde quote after famous Wild quote as the movie played. This is not quite what happened and I’m not sure it would have been a good idea anyway. 

The good news is that there’s definitely clever and witty Wilde sayings to enjoy, even though Everett’s film focuses quite rightly on telling Wilde’s truth and capturing his undeniably magnetic charm.

As well as the fact that The Happy Prince is rather well cast, the cinematography is a pleasant surprise. I liked the general flow of the story which switches between present day and flashbacks. I also enjoyed the words that follow the unexpected confrontation in France… There’s nothing in me, not even fear.’ 

The Happy Prince brought to mind the value of great friends during dark times. It also reminds me that as sad as Wilde’s story is, I can’t help but notice how far LGBTQ rights have come since the days Wilde, and that makes me happy. 

Watch it if you’re a fan of Wilde. I have been for a long time. I even went to his final resting place at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris once.

One more Wilde quote… ‘Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.’

Happy Film Loving 

G