Tag Archives: Film Review

CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC (2009): The Thing I Liked…

Confessions Of A Shopaholic (2009), Isla Fisher
Confessions Of A Shopaholic (2009), Isla Fisher

Confessions Of A Shopaholic is a P.J. Hogan directed comedy / romance about Rebecca (Isla Fisher), a college graduate who lands a job as a financial journalist. Rebecca’s job requires that she advises others about money; the only thing is, she doesn’t quite have her own finances together.

Being in the mood for an ‘easy viewing’ movie experience, film that didn’t ask too much of me is a key reason I watched Confessions Of A Shopaholic. It’s certainly not the best romantic comedy out there. Yet it has some charm. My favourite moment features John Goodman. Particularly when his character is seen dancing and it’s the punch line for one of the jokes in the movie. I also quite enjoyed Kristen Scott Thomas’s character as the Editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine. 

As for the fashion, there is a certain purple frilly top / dress seen towards the end of the movie that I liked. However something tells me that had I also fallen in love with more of the clothes featured, perhaps the whole film experience would be that little bit more memorable. Rather than mainly feeling like a mixture of scenarios that brought to mind similar situations that I’d already enjoyed watching in other movies. 

Whether you’re a shopaholic or not, there’s probably a little something to appreciate in Hogan’s film. Even if that thing is the general existence of movies that don’t ask too much of you.

Watch it if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving 

G

SECOND ACT (2018): The Things I Liked…

Second Act (2018), Jennifer Lopez, STX Entertainment
Second Act (2018), Jennifer Lopez, STX Entertainment

As a fan of the two Jennifer Lopez romance / comedies, The Wedding Planner (2001) and Maid In Manhattan (2002) the news of Second Act, a brand new movie in the same genre and starring Lopez was something I simply had to see.

Set in New York City (of course!) and directed by Peter Segal, Second Act is about an underestimated retail worker who reinvents her life and her life-story, leading to her finally landing her dream job and more.

Even though Second Act is similar to the other Lopez romance / comedies mentioned – in a few ways, there’s still a difference or two that I didn’t see coming. Generally, I enjoyed the humour and watching the dynamic between the three main female characters. The fact that Leah Remini and Lopez happen to be close friends in real life somehow only added to my experience of this movie.

Other personal highlights include the way Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens were styled, the New York City setting plus the wise and very accurate wisdom shared at the very end.

Watch Second Act especially if you like Lopez and the two Lopez movies mentioned. Segal’s film is definitely a little different in a good way; and who knows, perhaps you may even prefer it. Maid In Manhattan and The Wedding Planner remains my favourites.

Happy Film Loving 

G

IT (2017): The Things I Liked…

IT (2017), Bill Skarsgård, Warner Bros. Pictures
IT (2017), Bill Skarsgård, Warner Bros. Pictures

IT, the horror / drama that centres around seven children in Derry, Maine who are terrorised by a monster in the shape of a clown called Pennywise is a story I first encountered when I saw the 1990 IT TV movie for the first time just two years ago. Having found it not at all scary, I was hoping that the latest version would be more terrifying. 

The good news is, this new IT kind of is more scary. Director Andy Muschietti’s film features makeup, prosthetics and special effects that are objectively speaking, better and more unsettling than in the first movie. As for the real question of whether I personally was actually scared, I have to say no, not really. The reason is because clowns are still just cute to me overall – no matter how many teeth they may have. They remain in my heart and mind as providers of joy at children’s parties.

I say all the above not to take anything away from Bill Skarsgård’s rather engaging performance, because he played Pennywise rather well. I especially like the first time he meets young Georgie – precisely the second he stops fake smiling. I knew then that I was likely to see something memorable. Yet, even with Skarsgård’s great work, at no point during IT did I jump out of my skin or hide behind my hands. I just took in and appreciated the things that Muschietti’s movie did well. For example, casting Skarsgård, featuring generally convincing prosthetics, some good visuals, special effects and the commentary on bullying.

The only disappointment where special effects is concerned is regarding the scene with the blood in the bathroom. I don’t believe that the red colour and the consistency of the blood was quite right… not that I’m a specialist, of course.

The following is not a complaint, but since the adult counterparts of the children are not featured in the new film (because that’s what sequels are for), I can’t really speak on any instances of overacting on their part, as was the case in the first movie.

Watch IT because you love the bestselling novel by Steven King, the one on which the IT films are based. Watch it for Skarsgård’s performance, the clown attire / makeup and to see if you’re terrified. If you’re already scared of clowns, then you will need your hands to hide behind. Otherwise, enjoy.

Happy Film Loving 

G

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Isn't It Romantic (2019), Rebel Wilson
Isn’t It Romantic (2019), Rebel Wilson

Isn’t It Romantic is a comedy / romance about Natalie, a young woman who’s become disenchanted with love and mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy.

The good news about director Todd Strauss-Schulson’s movie is that I did laugh and smile a few times. The beautiful city of New York and all the scenes before Natalie wakes up in the hospital are the ones I enjoyed the most. What I like about these scenes is the way Natalie was making fun of romantic comedies. The disappointment then came for me when she found herself inside a romantic comedy, but it wasn’t an especially good one.

The vibrant colours and the humour in the super romantic New York scenes were fun in parts but after a while it didn’t do a good job of holding my interest. Something about Isn’t It Romantic made the movie feel as though it shouldn’t have been the final draft, because if it had felt more finished, maybe I’d have been more convinced by Natalie’s emotional journey and the way it was executed.

Another moment I didn’t find convincing is the actual presentation of the ‘parking lot conversion’ idea. Not that I have any actual architectural experience but as someone who’s been in many presentations, I wanted to buy into Natalie’s idea and visualise it as a good and feasible one during that presentation but it just didn’t happen.

Watch Isn’t It Romantic if you’re so curious. The trailer is pretty fun so you may find that you enjoy the finnished film more than I did.

Happy Film loving 

G

THE HOLE IN THE GROUND (2019) It’s…

The Hole In The Ground (2019), Seána Kerslake
The Hole In The Ground (2019), Seána Kerslake

One of my film loving goals in recent years has been to open my mind to horror movies. So far to this end, I’ve really only watched films that are horror with a side of thriller, drama or mystery – and I’ve enjoyed all of them in varying degrees. For example A Quiet Place (2017), Get Out (2017) and It (1990). It’s just that none of these movies are purely horror movies.

From co-writer and director Lee Cronin, The Hole In The Ground is categorised as a horror film and it’s about a young mother with a troubled past who’s trying to figure out whether the disturbing changes in her little boy are linked to an ominous sinkhole, deep in the forest close to her home.

I can’t say that The Hole In The Ground is a film I found especially scary and perhaps the fact that I watched it as daylight poured in through my window has a little something to do with it. Even still, it had my attention in the beginning but I soon I found the whole experience to be ‘too much atmosphere and not enough story or scares.’ 

I’d hoped that the questions presented in the trailer that had me interested in this movie would be fully answered. I really wanted to know what that hole in the ground was actually about, how it came to be but I learned nothing. As a relative newbie to the genre, perhaps this lack of revelation / explanation is something I need to get used to. Fingers crossed that isn’t the case.

I think that both Seána Kerslake and James Quinn Markey performed well. I just can’t say that I loved The Hole In The Ground because some of the special effects were not especially convincing and it didn’t do a great job of holding my attention on account of all the focus on atmosphere but with insufficient pay off.

Watch it if you absolutely must.

Happy Film loving 

G

INSTANT FAMILY (2018): The Things I Liked…

Instant Family (2018), Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Paramount Pictures
Instant Family (2018), Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Paramount Pictures

After seeing the trailer for Instant Family several months ago in 2018, I really wanted to get excited about it because the story looked like a great one and because I like both of its main stars, Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne. Having previously seen Wahlberg in the Daddy’s Home movies and finding myself not fully loving them, I’m really glad to confirm that Instant Family is definitely not that.

Directed and co-written by Sean Anders, Instant Family is a comedy / drama based on the true story of the ups and downs faced by a couple who foster / adopt three children all at once. 

Things were looking good for this movie within the first few minutes. Firstly, the editing. I really appreciate the fact that I didn’t find myself wishing I could fast forward any of the scenes. Second, the relationship between the central couple played by Wahlberg and Byrne. Last but not least, the dynamic and banter between Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro’s characters is another definite key highlight.

I found myself laughing during Instant Family more than I expected to. An especially memorable moment being the scene at the dinner table with the pair of closed eyes. I was of course also moved by the beautiful moments of familial love and the truth of some of the experiences of children and teenagers in the foster care system.

Watch Instant Family because it’s good, very likely better than you expect and it’s definitely – as a fellow film lover predicted, more grounded than the Daddie’s Home films.

Happy Film loving 

G

WIDOWS (2018): The Things I Liked…

Widows (2018), Liam Neeson, Viola Davis, 20th Century Fox
Widows (2018), Liam Neeson, Viola Davis, 20th Century Fox

Directed by Steve McQueen (Shame 2011); starring Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson and Robert Duvall, Widows is without a doubt very well acted and devoid of any dull moments. There are one or two unexpected turns I enjoyed and everyone performs very well in McQueen’s crime / thriller, a story about four women in need of a way to survive after their husbands’ criminal activities leave them in massive debt.

I’ll start by say that I generally appreciate the quality in movies where everything isn’t overly explained. I like moments where the audience is trusted to connect the dots and make sense of things. Widows is a movie that has a handful of such moments which are well executed. Yet, I’d also say that the ending aside, McQueen’s film feels oddly incomplete somehow.

The feeling of incompleteness comes first from not knowing enough of the back story of some of the characters. We get to know a fair amount  about a few key players but I was certainly left wanting when it came to Cynthia Erivo’s very intriguing Belle, for example.

Widows (2018), Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez, 20th Century Fox
Widows (2018), Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez, 20th Century Fox

There are also questions I had pertaining to one or two of the dead bodies and how they were disposed of. You may be reading this and be thinking: The brown notebook, silly! And you wouldn’t be wrong by saying that. Nevertheless, I still wanted to be fully convinced by how the story played out especially when it came to the widows’ turn to criminality. Unfortunately, even though I came close to being convinced, I just wasn’t – not completely.

It may may well be that I’ve seen far too many television crime dramas / thrillers that show just the right amount in order for me to buy a story wholeheartedly. Either way I’m now of the mind that Widows may have been better suited to a miniseries format. That way it wouldn’t feel quite so heavily edited and somehow incomplete. There’d certainly be more time for me to get to know a greater number of the characters in a more satisfying way.

Every one performs well but my favourite performance in Widows is delivered by Farrell. I really enjoyed watching his super entitled politician’s son character and listening to what sounded like a very convincing accent. Elizabeth Debicki also delivered some fun turns I wanted more of. 

Overall, Widows may not be my favourite McQueen movie but it definitely isn’t bad either. Perhaps you’ll find that it couldn’t possibly be more complete.

Happy Film Loving 

AT ETERNITY’S GATE (2019): The Things I Liked…

At Eternity's Gate (2018), Willem Dafoe, CBS Films
At Eternity’s Gate (2018), Willem Dafoe, CBS Films

There’s plenty of beauty in director Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate, a biography / drama about highly celebrated artist Vincent Van Gogh. The beauty lies first and foremost in the stunning cinematography, but also in the dialogue, editing and musical score.

As a big fan of colour and light, there’s certainly plenty of it to take in and enjoy  in Schabel’s movie; whether it’s the scenes in nature that Willem Dafoe’s Van Gogh is mesmerised by, or the beautiful blue of the jacket on the artist’s back.

Thanks to Schabel’s great execution, I enjoyed At Eternity’s Gate in its entirety. Even the heartbreaking moments that highlighted the truth of just how challenging Van Gogh’s experience of life must have been. The moments of suffering he endured made me sad and simultaneously grateful that he, at the very least had one of the most loving brothers anyone could ever wish for.

So engaging and immersive is the viewing experience of At Eternity’s Gate that it felt as though I was often there with Van Gogh; whether running with him through the beautiful vistas, laying down to take in the beauty of the sky and surrounding nature or even during his most tormented periods. Periods when there was next to zero colour in his days.

Watch At Eternity’s Gate because you appreciate visual art. Watch it to learn some truths about Van Gogh and for the mesmerising footage of an artist at work. By the very end, you may even be inspired to take  a trip to Amsterdam for the  Van Gogh Museum; or perhaps pick up some paint and brushes.

Time for me to look up Schnabel’s other films.

At Eternity’s Gate also stars Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Niels Arestrup…

Happy Film Loving 

G