Tag Archives: Film Reviews

GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953): The Things I Liked…

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Marilyn Monroe, Elliott Reid, Twentieth Century Fox
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Marilyn Monroe, Elliott Reid, Twentieth Century Fox

Watching movies that were made long before the 90s and 80s isn’t something I do very often. Yet, recently I came across film footage of Hollywood icons Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. Two ladies who were looking incredibly stunning while walking together.

A few Google searches later, and there I was watching director Howard Hawks’s 1953 comedy/musical classic, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. A fun movie in which Monroe and Russell play two showgirls named Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw. The ladies are two best friends who happen to be stunning. So stunning in fact that I would have fit right in among the admires Lorelei and Dorothy attracted everywhere they went in Hawks’s film. Fans including a private detective hired by the suspicious father of Lorelei’s fiancé, and a rich, enamoured old man, among many others.

I see Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as a movie that fits into the ‘perfectly pleasant, easy viewing’ category. There’s some mild to moderately amusing humour, the story moves along at a good pace, and visually, there’s much to enjoy; whether you’re taking in the production design or the very beautifully created costumes by Travilla.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Jane Russell, Twentieth Century Fox
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Jane Russell, Twentieth Century Fox

As someone who’s near enough always been aware of Monroe’s iconic status, it wasn’t until this movie that I finally understood. To put it in no uncertain terms, the lady is so incredibly magnetic, that I have to wonder whether a camera has ever loved a person more. Travilla’s costumes, Ben Nye’s makeup and the skills of those in charge of hair certainly helped, but of course, there’s a lot more to that special magnetism than the beautiful shell.

My favourite thing about Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? Two things. Firstly, the touching friendship between Lorelei and Dorothy. Secondly, all the stunning fashion! Watch it for the fashion. The story is pleasant enough – but THE FASHION!

One more thing. Here’s the link to the film footage that got me here – in case you’re curious. You see?

Happy Film Loving

G

MIDSOMMAR (2019): The Things I Liked

Midsommar (2019), Florence Pugh, A24
Midsommar (2019), Florence Pugh, A24

I wanted to watch Midsommar because it came recommended by many. I needed to watch Midsommar because the murals in the very intriguing trailer looked great. I had to watch Midsommar because of its young, talented cast, mainly Florence Pugh and Will Poulter.

Now that I’ve finally seen Midsommar, what I really wouldn’t have done is watch Midsommar; had I remembered that it is, in fact, a horror film.

For those who might be thinking ’How could you not have known?’ Well, in my defence, the trailer I initially saw didn’t scream ‘scary movie,’ and neither did the synopsis, at first.

The original synopsis said something along the lines of ‘Things start to go awry on a summer trip after a young woman reluctantly caves in and goes along with her boyfriend’. Now, doesn’t this sound more like ‘relationship woes’ than ‘increasingly violent and bizarre competition involving a Pagan cult?’

The things that impressed me most about director Ari Aster’s film, in addition to the performances include the story and tension. There’s also the sense of dread and the general unease that never seems to leave, but instead expertly builds and builds until the very dark and scary end. There’s also the memorable vulnerability and intensity in the way the opening scenes are captured.

The main thing I wish wasn’t quite so is how long it took for things to unfold at specific points. For example, approximately fifty minutes in, there’s a ceremony that went on for eternity, before a scary revelation happened. I also found it irksome to watch several of the characters make some extremely poor decisions; the kind that went against every single one of my survival instincts.

For everyone who isn’t a horror fan, including the version of me before watching this movie, ‘Stop right there!’ For the rest of you, enjoy!

Happy Film Loving

G

THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Painter and the Thief (2020), Barbora Kysilkova, Neon
The Painter and the Thief (2020), Barbora Kysilkova, Neon

An interesting character study is what I was expecting director Benjamin Ree’s documentary The Painter and the Thief to be; the story of Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova. Specifically the unexpected bond she forms with Karl Bertil-Nordland, the troubled man who stole her paintings from a gallery in broad daylight.

Ree’s film is indeed a good character study. We get to learn some detail about Karl and Barbora’s stories, leading me to realise why their friendship makes sense. It’s just that I had additional questions that didn’t get answered. Particularly concerning detail about Karl’s childhood, his mother and two siblings.

By the end, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky both Karl and Barbora were to have met very important people in their lives. Especially at a time when they least expected it. In Barbora’s case, it’s meeting her husband and arguably Karl. And for Karl, it’s of course, meeting the extraordinary and compassionate Barbora. The latter case making The Painter and the Thief another memorable story of a beautiful and very unexpected friendship.

Other key moments that stood out include the specific scene that shows how truly transformative and powerful art can be. There’s also the satisfying footage of when Barbora is seen in her element while drawing and painting. Lastly, the footage of the open, honest and respectful dialogue between Barbora and her husband.

Watch The Painter and the Thief if you’re curious. I’m glad I saw it even though I wish that more of my questions had been answered.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE HUNT (2020): The Things I Liked

The Hunt (2019), Betty Gilpin, Universal Pictures
The Hunt (2019), Betty Gilpin, Universal Pictures

Betty Gilpin’s smart and badass character Crystal is my favourite thing about director Craig Zobel’s The Hunt; the most controversial near release of 2019.

Also starring Hilary Swank, Justin Hartley and Emma Roberts; Zobel’s story centres around twelve strangers who get kidnapped for the specific purpose of being hunted.

The Hunt‘s original 2019 release date was cancelled because following the launch of the trailer, America was unfortunately having to deal with another mass shooting. Additional complaints also came to light about the movie’s presumed controversial politics, concerning the relationship between the left and right.

I remember the filmmakers were happy to delay the movie’s release. And having now watched it, I can see why they insisted that The Hunt isn’t as problematic, in terms of premise and politics as many were assuming. Any talk of politics in the movie is mainly amusing. The real fun starts as we start learning more and more about Gilpin’s Crystal.

The Hunt isn’t the kind of movie to get top marks for story or all-round great acting where one or two earlier characters is concerned. But that doesn’t mean I won’t watch it again. For me, there’s just had too much fun to be had with Crystal.

Watch it if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

EMMA (2020): The Things I Liked

Emma (2019), Anya Taylor Joy, Mia Goth, Focus Features
Emma (2019), Anya Taylor Joy, Mia Goth, Focus Features

Emma, Emma, Emma’.

The most fitting phrase I can think of to best describe how I feel about the remake of Jane Austen’s classic comedy/drama Emma is ‘Well, it’s not terrible’. Because it really isn’t, but I also didn’t find it to be great either.

Starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the well-meaning ‘handsome, clever, and rich’ Emma Woodhouse, a young woman who likes to meddle in others’ love lives; I must confess that it wasn’t long before I grew tired of Emma’s manipulations.

In all fairness, Austen did predict that Emma wouldn’t be a character many people would like, except Austen herself. A shame for me since there isn’t really much else that goes on in the story to divert from the meddling.

Also starring Bill Nighy, Miranda Hart and Josh O’Connor, the highlights that had me sticking with director Autumn de Wilde’s film till the end include my favourite funny moment. The one that involves the pronunciation of the word ‘innocence’ as InNOsense,’ and specifically Bill Nighy’s character’s reaction to the mispronunciation. Another highlight is Mia Goth’s turn as Harriett, the ‘smiling idiot.’ I’m not sure how Austen describes Harriett in her book, but ‘smiling idiot/simpleton’ is what I got from Goth’s delivery.

Then there are the costumes. The costumes are definitely my favourite thing about Emma overall. Particularly the clothes on Austen’s heroine. Said attire proved absolutely key in keeping me watching all the way through.

Last but not least, we have the confession of romantic feelings under the tree towards the end, I really enjoyed how the moment was captured.

Make time for Emma if you’re curious, and certainly for the costumes.

Happy Film Loving

G

DOWNHILL (2020): The Thing I Liked

Downhill (2020), Will Ferrell, Julia Louis Dreyfus, FoxSearchlight.
Downhill (2020), Will Ferrell, Julia Louis Dreyfus, FoxSearchlight

I liked Force Majeure; I mean Downhill, which is a remake of Force Majeure (2014); a French film I’ve never seen. As such, there’ll be no comparisons here today. And there’s also a chance that if you’ve seen Force Majeure, you won’t quite agree with the one or two of the positive things I have to say about Downhill, which is of course fine.

Set in the Swiss Alps during a family skiing holiday, and in the aftermath of an unexpected avalanche, directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s Downhill isn’t quite the comedy I expected.

I see Faxon and Rash’s movie as the story of a couple’s marriage falling apart, which kind of sounds like a lot, but Downhill is not as emotionally taxing as Marriage Story (2019), for example. Whereas what happens in Marriage Story made audiences sad, Downhill made me feel awkward and uncomfortable; like a concerned friend realising for the first time, just how unhealthy a couple’s relationship is.

I found Downhill amusing in parts. It’s kind of hard for it not to be with comedy greats like Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell involved. I enjoyed both their performances. Yet, overall the movie is not as hilarious as I thought it might be. The dramatic/awkward moments stood out more than the comedy.

I see Downhill more as a cautionary tale that’s there to remind us to stay alert; just in case we’re ever in danger of getting involved with a complete coward.

Watch it if you’re curious. Or, you can always watch Force Majeure instead. I’ve heard that it’s better.

Happy Film Loving

G

BIRDS OF PREY – AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN (2020): The Things I Liked

Birds Of Prey (2020), Margot Robbie, Warner Bros. Pictures
Birds Of Prey (2020), Margot Robbie, Warner Bros. Pictures

What I enjoyed most about Birds Of Prey – And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn is all the moments that Margot Robbie was on screen as Harley Quinn. I liked Robbie’s performance and the film’s very colourful and visually pleasing aesthetic. 

Directed by Cathy Yan and set just after Harley Quinn breaks up with the Joker – then ends up joining three other female superheroes, I have to admit that I was unconvinced by all the female solidarity. I’m not saying that all that happened isn’t very possible. It’s just that the way the stories of each of the characters played out and led to all four coming together for one cause didn’t feel as smooth / seamless and satisfying as I’d imagined. 

After the disappointment of Suicide Squad back in 2016, I had feared that Birds of Prey would leave me wanting, and it seems my fears came true. It certainly doesn’t help that I didn’t quite like Ewan McGregor as the villain either. I’ve just seen more engaging and interesting superhero movie villains in other stories.

Overall, even though I appreciate the message behind the story, I didn’t fully enjoy the delivery. I only really made it to the end of Birds of Prey because of Robbie and all the hype about Harley Quinn. 

As some of you may have gathered, I’m more of a Marvel fan when it comes to superhero films. I mean, I’ll take Batman (the Christian Bale era) and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, but everything else DC can keep.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE WRONG MISSY (2020): The Thing I Liked…

The Wrong Missy (2020), David Spade, Lauren Lapkus, Netflix
The Wrong Missy (2020), David Spade, Lauren Lapkus, Netflix

The Wrong Missy, a comedy about a man who invites the wrong girl to his company’s corporate retreat, all while trying to invite the woman of his dreams is a movie that fell short of my hopes and expectations. 

Starring David Spade, Lauren Lapkus, and directed by Tyler Spindel; on account of the dialogue, performances and editing, within the first ten minutes, I realised that The Wrong Missy wasn’t going to be great. Some of the early writing and directing choices just didn’t result in scenes that filled me with confidence about the quality of what was yet to come.

What’s most disappointing is that I liked the film’s premise, and had been hoping for a better executed movie. Maybe a comedy as undeniably funny, pleasantly surprising, hard to forget and featuring well-drawn characters like in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008). What I got instead is a film with roughly two funny moments I enjoyed, while the rest of it seemed as though it needed at least a second draft.

Lapkus’s Missy was supposed to be the source of the bulk of the humour. Unfortunately, I personally found her performance and character’s choices to be too over-the-top and often too obnoxious to be amusing. As for Spade’s performance, he could have done with a little of Lapkus’s energy.

Where the aforementioned funny moments are concerned, there are two I won’t be forgetting any time soon, The first involves a series of unexpected slaps. The other was already shared in the trailer. Specifically, the perfectly delivered line: ‘She’s alive…’ Damn it!’

I say watch The Wrong Missy if you’re especially curious. Otherwise, maybe re-visit Forgetting Sarah Marshall instead.

Happy Film Loving

G