Tag Archives: Film Reviews

LOVE SARAH (2020): The Things I Liked…

Love Sarah (2020), Rupert Penry-Jones, Shelley Conn
Love Sarah (2020), Rupert Penry-Jones, Shelley Conn

Director Eliza Schroeder’s comedy/romance Love Sarah is one of those easy-viewing films that doesn’t demand too much from you. It’s well-acted and quite pleasant, especially if you love cakes, the Notting Hill, London setting and any of the cast which includes Celia Imrie, Rupert Penry-Jones, Shannon Tarbet and Bill Paterson.

Besides being in the mood to watch an easy viewing movie, the baked goods are a key reason I had to see Love Sarah. Particularly since some of the baked items I saw in the trailer reminded me of a great restaurant/bakery I used to visit in North London. Turns out Ottolenghi, the founder/owner of said bakery consulted on this movie. I guess I know my favourite cakes when I see them. 

Story-wise, it’s predictable, as one might expect but if you go in expecting that, it’s not so bad. The story focuses on a young woman who wishes to fulfil her mother’s dream of opening a bakery in Notting Hill, London. A dream she sets about realising thanks to the help of an old friend and her grandmother.

I found Love Sarah very watchable if you’re in the mood for what it offers. My favourite moment has to be the scene when the camera focuses on the pouring of chocolate sauce. Such good memories!

Watch Love Sarah if you’re curious. I’m quite sure that aspiring bakers will enjoy this movie that little bit more. Even though, one might argue it makes succeeding as a baker look easier than it probably is.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE BOYS IN THE BAND (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Boys In The Band (2020), Jim Parsons, Netflix
The Boys In The Band (2020), Jim Parsons, Netflix

Starring Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Andrew Rannells, the first great thing about director Joe Mantello’s The Boys In The Band is all the performances. 

Second is all the funny moments with great comic timing, and how very well-written and paced it is. 

I love the way the story unfolds like a beautiful play. A truth that makes sense since The Boys In The Band is a film adaptation of Mart Crowley’s play of the same name. A play that features several interesting characters, and manages the tension in scenes so well, that you can’t wait for all to be revealed. 

In addition to capturing several moments of heartbreaking truth brilliantly, other personal highlights include the set design and the way the production is lit. Even though almost all of the action takes place during a party in a New York City apartment in 1968, there isn’t a moment when you find yourself wanting a change of scenery. All because what’s happing inside is thoroughly engaging, thanks to the very watchable complex characters.

Characters with understandable complexities, especially considering the difficulties they faced during that particular time in American history. A time when just being themselves was a far less accepted thing. And it is this reality that’s the underlying fuel. Fuel that results in a perfectly watchable film, thanks to great writing and brilliant performances by all.

Watch The Boys In The Band because it’s good. 

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE KISSING BOOTH 2 (2020): The Things I liked…

The Kissing Booth 2 (2018), Jacob Elordi, Joey King, Netflix
The Kissing Booth 2 (2018), Jacob Elordi, Joey King, Netflix

Director Vince Marcello’s sequel to hit teen movie The Kissing Booth (2018) focuses on Joey King)’s character Elle’s attempts to juggle a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi), while she’s also applying for college. Then there’s a new friendship with a handsome classmate that could really complicate things.

Considering how I felt about the first movie, I wasn’t sure what to expect with The Kissing Booth 2. Luckily, to my very pleasant surprise, I had a good time. Even though it’s still not perfect, I found this sequel to be funnier and certainly better written than the first movie. I found myself especially glad that I didn’t encounter any stand out bad acting moments.

I like how the story played out, including the moments that surprised me, big or small. As a long appreciator of good teen movies, this one I’ll remember fondly; thanks to the overall execution and the fact that it didn’t force me to question any of Marcello’s decisions. I was simply too busy enjoying the results.

Lastly, I’ve always appreciated the way good teen movies can transport us back to our teenage years (not that mine are extremely far behind me, mind you). As the characters grow up before our eyes, making mistake after mistake, I often wonder whether I was equally clueless at their age. Or was I close to being as wise as I feel I am today? I know what I want to believe. I also know what’s highly likely.

Give The Kissing Booth 2 a chance if you’re curious, and for all the reasons above.

Happy Film Loving

G

AVA (2020): The Thing I Liked…

AVA (2020), Jessica Chastatin, Madman Films

Starring Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and John Malkovich; Ava is one of those films I watched to the very end for three reasons. Firstly because it’s Chastain, Farrell and Malkovich. Second, even though I wouldn’t call AVA good, I hoped to find something I’d like about it. Lastly, Each quarter managed to do just enough to hook me so I’d stay curious enough to want to find out how the next moments would unfold.

Directed by Tate Taylor; Chastain is Ava, a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organisation. While abroad on a high profile hit, things don’t go according to plan and soon our protagonist finds herself a target.

The main issue I found with Taylor’s film is the hugely underdeveloped story and dialogue. There are unfortunately next to zero impressively smart, surprising elements in Ava. A reality that made the movie feel like one of the most ‘basic’ action movies I’ve ever seen.

Even though the three leads can certainly act, none of it proved enough to save Ava. Everyone did the best they could with both the script and stunt direction. Yet, sadly, the action sequences much like the rest of the movie offer minimal delights.

The parts I did enjoy most are the last interactions between Malkovich and Farrell’s characters. It was also great to watch Farrell use his natural Irish accent in a movie again. The last time I saw him do that was in In Bruges (2008).

If you’re extremely curious about Ava, do what you must. Otherwise, maybe watch Atomic Blonde (2017) instead.

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN (2020): The Things I Liked…

The One and Only Ivan (2020), Walt Disney Studios
The One and Only Ivan (2020), Walt Disney Studios

Starring Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren and Sam Rockwell, I was drawn to Disney’s partly-animated adventure/comedy The One and Only Ivan, because I knew that the ending was going to be a happy one. What I didn’t know until I saw the movie is that The One and Only Ivan is based on a true story.

Set in a circus at the mall, at the heart of the film is Ivan, a gorilla who’s trying to piece together his past as he and his elephant friend Stella (Jolie) plan to escape from captivity. Though director Thea Sharrock’s movie is quite predictable, I found that I didn’t mind too much. Especially since my main motivation for watching the film was to see a bunch of animals get their happy ending. 

There’s no denying though, that a faster pace would have helped my enjoyment overall. And it did prove arduous watching the animals get excited about their initial plan to escape captivity. Particularly considering how clear it was to adult viewers just how dangerous an actual escape would be for Ivan and friends. Perhaps, since The One and Only Ivan is ultimately a movie for children, it may be that the futility of the initial escape plan wouldn’t be so obvious to a young audience; meaning those scenes wouldn’t prove as taxing as they did for me.

The good news is that even with the elements that bothered me, I’m glad I stuck with The One and Only Ivan, because of the happy ending I wanted. 

As for the question of whether I’d call The One and Only Ivan a great Disney film. NoYet it’s also not completely terrible. As such, if you’re curious enough, give it a chance. Just don’t leave your patience at the door. And remember, it is ultimately aimed at children. 

Happy Film Loving

G

THE SECRET GARDEN (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Secret Garden (2020), Julie Walters, Studio Canal

I had hoped that watching The Secret Garden would take me back to the pre-teen phase of my life. A period when I loved to read.

Having now seen this remake of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel about an orphaned girl who discovers a magical garden hidden at her strict uncle’s estate, director Marc Munden’s movie did take me back. It also reminded me that The Secret Garden was a book I recall having to read for school. However, even though it featured a magical garden, which I imagine young me would have loved. I don’t remember particularly loving the book – and this is why I shouldn’t be surprised to realise that I don’t love Munden’s movie.

The actors including Colin Firth, Julia Walters’s and Dixie Egerrickx performed well enough. I just found this version of the story to be quite simplistic and lacking in depth. In fairness, it is based on a Children’s story. Yet I had hoped to find it more than watchable at best.

My favourite thing about The Secret Garden is the actual garden itself. I mean, who wouldn’t want their own lush, colourful secret garden with magical properties?

Besides my issues with the story, my only other complaint is about the moments the musical score seemed to be unnecessarily loud and overbearing.

Watch The Secret Garden if you’re especially curious. Or, you could watch the 1993 film adaptation of The Secret Garden instead. I hear it’s much better.

Happy Film Loving

G

TED LASSO (2020): The Things I Liked…

Ted Lasso (2020), Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Apple TV+
Ted Lasso (2020), Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Apple TV+

As a Jason Sudeikis fan, thanks largely to Horrible Bosses (2011) and We’re the Millers in 2013; I’m happy to report that his latest comedy series Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ has earned a place in my list of favourites of his works.

What makes Ted Lasso, the story of a US American Football coach, who arrives in the UK to manage a struggling London soccer team worth watching? Well, firstly, there’s the crazy premise that seems utterly ludicrous. Yet you find yourself wanting Lasso (Sudeikis) to succeed, regardless of his poor knowledge of soccer. Second, the truly wonderful cast and their great chemistry. Third, the good humour, editing and writing. Last but in no way least, everybody loves an underdog story. And Ted Lasso has more than one of those going on.

I know that we’re only three episodes in out of ten so far, with a new one scheduled each week. Nevertheless, let’s just say that already I’ve had such a good time, that by the end of episode three, my main thoughts after being delighted with the show were:

How dare Apple TV+ rob me of my freedom to binge the entire season of Ted Lasso to my heart’s content? We’re living in a divisive age during Corona, of all things. I need a show that makes me feel this good, warm and fuzzy inside!

I’ll not be tuning in each week just for one twenty-minute episode. Instead I’ll wait seven weeks just so I can binge the last seven episodes all at once.

Watch Ted Lasso because of all the great reasons above and for Sedeikis’s character’s thoroughly adorable accent, plus his positive, thoughtful and generous disposition. I certainly do not know enough about the backstories of each character just yet, but I’m saying it anyway: ‘I think I’m in love with Ted Lasso!’.

Happy Film Loving

G

PROJECT POWER (2020): The Things I Liked…

Project Power (2020), Jamie Foxx, Netflix

I had fun watching the down-to-earth take on the human-with-superpowers story that is Project Power. Particular highlights being the fun special effects and good performances, especially by Jamie Foxx and Dominique Fishback.

Centred around a pill that gives its users unpredictable superpowers for five minutes, the first thirty or so minutes of Project Power. is watchable. But it’s once Foxx and Fishback’s characters meet that I sat up and started to pay attention. From that point on the fun continued until the not entirely expected nature of the conclusion.

As someone who has long tired of the traditional superhero movie stories, I welcomed the difference this one offered. So much so that the use of some familiar tropes barely bothered me. I was too busy having fun watching this particular story unfold.

Watch Project Power for a different take on the humans with superpowers story. I’m convinced that there are elements that will likely surprise you, in a good way.

Happy Film Loving

G