Tag Archives: Film Reviews

PLUS ONE (2019): The Things I Liked…

Plus One (2019), Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, RLJE Films
Plus One (2019), Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, RLJE Films

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 characters 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.

Happy Film Loving 

G

TALL GIRL (2019): The Things I Liked…

Tall Girl (2019), Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Netflix
Tall Girl (2019), Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Netflix

Tall Girl is a high school movie that’s engaging, well-acted and feels extra special because it’s the story of Jodi (Ava Michelle), a teenage girl who just happens to be more than six feet tall.

Directed by Nzingha Stewart, it’s also the first movie about the ‘tall girl high school experience’ that I know of. This key difference, along with the promise of comedy and Griffin Gluck – the now grown up young actor who was brilliant in  Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999) are the reasons I just had to tune in.

In terms of the film’s comedy categorisation, I did laugh a few times but I’d say I was moved more than I was amused. Besides the stage-time moment that seemed to reference the Kanye West / Taylor Swift 2009 Grammy Awards situation, and one or two of Jodies’s exchanges with her father (Steve Zahn) at the dinner table, I had fun overall but there aren’t many especially amusing moments in Tall Girl that spring to mind.

As for the scenes that moved me, they include every effort that Jodie’s father made to help his daughter, Jodi’s relationship with her sister, her best friend; and of course the scene at the end with the ‘wooden school bag.’

Watch Tall Girl for a well-executed look at a very specific high school experience. There’s also beautiful messages about self acceptance, inner beauty and a timely reminder of the challenge that is effective parenting.

Happy Film Loving 

G

IN THE TALL GRASS (2019): The Things I Liked…

In The Tall Grass (2019), Laysla De Oliveira, Netflix

The story of In The Tall Grass centres around a sister and brother who venture into a vast field of tall grass, only to discover that there may be no way out.

Based on a novella that’s co-written by Stephen King, director Vincenzo Natali’s drama / horror / thriller definitely starts off with promise. It then goes on to deliver some quite satisfying twists and turns, but ultimately ends up losing its way and becoming more watchable than memorable.

Part of the reason I didn’t find In The Tall Grass to be great overall is that the story doesn’t come together in a way that made me fully buy into it all. Nevertheless, I do have a favourite thing about this movie and that is the performance by talented young actor Will Buie Jr. who plays Tobin. Also, is it just me who thinks that Buie Jr. kind of resembles Michael Douglas somehow? I digress.

Though In The Tall Grass is definitely not the best drama / horror / thriller of 2019, it’s also not the worst; nor is it ‘nightmare inducing scary’. Give it a chance if you’re so curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (2019): The Thing I Liked…

The Knight Before Christmas (2019), Vanessa Hudgens, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Netflix
The Knight Before Christmas (2019), Vanessa Hudgens, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Netflix

The Knight Before Christmas, a story about a medieval English knight who is magically transported to the present day where he meets the love of his life is exactly what I expected.

It’s a movie I liked almost purely for the Christmas-rich visuals. Everything else was tolerable just so I could enjoy that beautiful Ohio town and live in Hudgens’s character’s very well decorated house. 

I did definitely pay full attention throughout – but generally, The Knight Before Christmas is romantic, Christmassy, dare I say – silliness for incredibly non-taxing viewing. It was perfect for unwinding after my very busy week. 

Why not give it a chance and let it relax you if you’re especially curious? 

Happy Film Loving

G

KLAUS (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Klaus (2019), Netflix
Klaus (2019), Netflix

Klaus, Netflix’s 2D animated story about the origins of Santa Claus is a movie I wanted to love more than I did. 

I really like the above image because it reminds me of Christmas cards I’ve received in the past. I also definitely like the films central message: ‘A true selfless act always begets another.I just didn’t thoroughly enjoy the way it was all executed. 

Part of the issue for me is the lack of newness and surprise in the story. And when the story did unfold in the expected way – since almost everyone knows Santa’s story, the delivery wasn’t such that I was enthralled or delighted by much of it. I’ve now realised, for better or worse that I’ve come to expect a certain level of delight when watching animated movies and Klaus just didn’t bring it for me.

Lastly, I found that the combination of the animation style, highly muted colours – most of the time, and the pace of the story just didn’t really help matters. 

Give Klaus a chance if you’re really curious. Perhaps you’ll be more enthralled and even moved than I.

Happy Film Loving

G

TELL ME WHO I AM (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Tell Me Who I Am (2019), Alex Lewis, Netflix
Tell Me Who I Am (2019), Alex Lewis, Netflix

In Tell Me Who I Am, life changes dramatically for 18 year old twin brothers Alex and Marcus Lewis. Following a motorcycle accident that leaves Alex with very little memory, Marcus has to decide whether to tell his brother the horrific truth of their childhood or make up a whole new idilic one. Marcus opts for the latter – for reasons including recounting the truth would simply be too much for himself to bear, let alone his twin brother who’s in an extremely vulnerable state. 

Fast forward to the present day, several decades later, and though the brothers have written a book about their heartbreaking story, Marcus still hasn’t shared everything with his brother, that is until this documentary. Through the use of old photographs, interviews with both brothers – separately and together, we get to watch an extraordinary story of love, trauma, memory, personal responsibility and healing.

There were definitely moments during director Ed Perkins’s film that had me wishing for the story to move along a little faster. Nevertheless, I don’t regret sitting through all of it. And the reason I won’t be forgetting Tell Me Who I Am any time soon is not so much about the horror of what Alex and Marcus were forced to endure, both inside and out of their family home, a home which quite frankly looks like the set of a nightmare inducing horror film. No.

Tell Me Who I Am will stay with me for the same reason director Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate (2019) – the biography of celebrated Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh stays with me. The gift and blessing of siblinghood. Or, more specifically in this case, brotherhood. 

I’m almost certain that both Van Gogh and Alex would not have survived much longer without their truly loving brothers. Not to say that Marcus did everything exactly right, but considering all the hurt and trauma he was carrying, how could one really be surprised by his choices? 

Lastly, Tell Me Who I Am certainly isn’t ’easy viewing.’ Watch it for a better understanding of the human experience that will likely make you grateful for the existence of good siblings, blood related or otherwise.

Happy Film Loving

G

PARADISE HILLS (2019): The Things I Liked…

Paradise Hills (2019), Emma Roberts
Paradise Hills (2019), Emma Roberts

Starring Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Eiza González and Milla Jovovich, Paradise Hills is not the kind of fantasy movie that I’d shout about so that no one misses out on the experience of seeing it. Yet, I wouldn’t say that it’s a completely terrible movie either. 

Set in a mysterious boarding school with a mission to transform wayward girls so that they fit heir surroundings’ exact desires, it was inevitable that some of the girls were going to resist and rebel. A rebellion led by Roberts’s Uma character because she has zero desire to marry the man her family insists that she does. 

What grabbed me immediately about director Alice Waddington’s film, besides a plot about rightful youthful rebellion is the generally visually pleasing colours, costume and set design. Paradise Hills has a general look and theme that reminded me of Melanie Martinez’s recent K-12 (2019) music film. I liked that the movie became more disturbing in a way that proved entertaining towards the end. I’m also glad for the one or two twists I didn’t see coming.

A definite downside to Waddington’s movie however is that something about the fantasy elements of the story and the films general  execution didn’t quite have me fully buying into everything that was happening. This is likely why I wasn’t as horrified as I perhaps should have been when the most disturbing things were happening.

I was still very much about the uprising and grateful for the thrilling moments in the second half. Yet there remained an air of  ‘this isn’t at all real’ and that truth very probably made me that little bit less invested emotionally in all that was happening. In other words, everything I needed wasn’t there to make me fully immerse myself and get lost in the story.

With that said, watch Paradise Hills you’re really curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

HOLIDAY IN THE WILD (2019): The Things I Liked…

Holiday In The Wild (2019), Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, Netflix
Holiday In The Wild (2019), Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, Netflix

Holiday In The Wild is a fairly enjoyable film focused on the drama / romance between an elephant conservationist named Derek (Rob Lowe), and Kate (Kristin Davis), a newly jilted woman who meet for the first time while in Zambia, Africa.

Well acted and shot, I enjoyed the beautiful footage of Zambia and its majestic animals – mainly the elephants. All the festive cheer was also very welcome; especially since I’ve been in the mood for Christmas for several weeks now.

I’d say that ‘easy viewing’ is definitely the phrase for director Ernie Barbarash’s movie. I had fun even though perhaps unsurprisingly, near the start of the film I couldn’t stop seeing Davis’s Kate as the most famous character she’s ever played. None other than Charlotte York of HBO’s Sex And The City, of course. As a Charlotte fan, I can’t say that I was too mad about that.

Watch Holiday In The Wild for that easy viewing, ‘Christmassy’ vibe – set in Zambia and with Elephants!

Lastly, let me know if you too found yourself really appreciating how good a son the character played by John Owen Lowe appeared to be.

Happy Film Loving

G