Tag Archives: Film Reviews

BLACK AND BLUE (2019): THE THING I LIKED…

Black And Blue (2019), Naomie Harris, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Black And Blue (2019), Naomie Harris, Sony Pictures Entertainment

In Black and Blue, the latest action / drama starring Naomie Harris, Harris plays a rookie police officer whose body camera captures a corrupt cop shooting a drug dealer. What I hoped would have followed is a truly engrossing, gritty and desperate race against time to get the footage in the right hands.

The race and subsequent pursuit does happen. It’s just that the end result isn’t as gripping as I’d hoped. The acting isn’t bad, but the story and execution certainly could have been stronger. Especially since soon after the film started and throughout, it felt as though something important was missing, and nothing refreshingly clever and / or new happened.

I really wanted Black and Blue to join Training Day (2001) on my list of favourite cop movies. However, even though both films share commonalities in theme / story, the gap between the two movies is simply too large – because Training Day is far more engrossing, cleverly written and well executed. Plus, Ethan Hawke’s character didn’t make any decisions that had me mad. Whereas Harris’s character did some thing’s that could hardly be excused by her rookie status. Or maybe I’ve simply watched too many cop movies.

I did actually like aspects of the way Black ad Blue handled Harris’s character’s ‘identity crisis,’ which really says more about her acting than anything else. Also, there were moments within Black and Blue that had me thinking, ‘Yes! This is when things really get good‘. But the movie never went to the point of having a scene that I could choose as my favourite moment.

Watch it if you’re super curious. Otherwise, maybe just rewatch Training Day.

Happy Film Loving

G

WAVES (2019): The Things I Liked…

Waves (2019), Alexa Demie, Kelvin Harrison Jr., A24
Waves (2019), Alexa Demie, Kelvin Harrison Jr., A24

Starring Kelvin Harrison Jr., Sterling K. Brown, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie and Lucas Hedges, Waves is a coming of age, raw, emotional and sometimes funny drama / romance centred around the teenage children of a couple in modern day America.

I liked the way Waves opened; the colours, camera angles and music, all of which worked to remind us of the seemingly carefree youthful abandon of late adolescence. As hectic, bright and beautiful as those moments were, it’s not too long before you realise that everything isn’t quite right. Tensions become apparent and it’s clear something is going to change – and not in a good way.

Tyler (Harrison Jr.) is a promising and troubled high school athlete unable to truly open up to his parents, so he suffers behind closed doors. His younger sister Emily (Taylor Russell) who seems to fade into the background much of the time certainly doesn’t have the focus of her parents – especially her father; at least not the the way her brother does. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s Tyler’s troubles that end up tragically and irrevocably altering the lives of more than just his immediate family.

Waves (2019), Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown, A24
Waves (2019), Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown, A24

Considering the themes of familial tragedy and some very modern / American issues, it’s unsurprising that I shed a few tears as Waves played. Particularly because of the very real and raw way writer / director Trey Edward Shults’s film captures the emotional turmoil suffered by its characters. Some of it so heartbreaking that I have to liken certain moments to having to watch an inevitable car crash while being completely unable to help.

Waves is the kind of movie you watch for the film making artistry, great acting and the ways it beautifully and realistically captures some of the most delightful and heartbreaking events in the lives of teenagers and parents in modern America. You will laugh and smile, be very concerned but also often moved by the generosity of spirit displayed before you.

‘Long’ is another word to describe this movie. It’s not quite the bladder busting 3.5 hour length of The Irishman (2019). However, by the half way point in Shults’s well-captured and highly affecting movie, you’ll think ‘Yeah, I think it’s wrapping up now.’ Except it doesn’t wrap up because that’s when act two – or more fittingly, ‘the second wave’ begins. And sit back you must, because you’re going to need what it has to tell you, especially after the tragedy of ‘the first wave’.

Watch it because it’s good and if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU (2019): The Things I Liked…

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019), Warner Bros. Pictures
Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019), Warner Bros. Pictures

I enjoyed Pikachu’s cuteness, his red cheeks and the vibrant yellow of his fur. I remember being relieved when 20 minutes in, I finally heard Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu. Nevertheless, it’s unfortunate that I can’t say I had a good time while watching Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

From director Rob Letterman and set in  a world where people collect pocket monsters (Pokémon) to do battle,  Pokémon Detective Pikachu focuses on  an intelligent monster (Pikachu) who wants to be a detective, and his new lonely friend Tim (Justice Smith).

I must first admit that I never really got into Pokémon as a child and I’m sure this has a little something to do with why I didn’t enjoy Letterman’s film – but only a little something.

In all honesty, I really thought the film would have been funnier. But instead, the main focus is on a troubled father / son relationship resulting in some rather emotional scenes, most of which felt awkward and somehow out of place. Certainly out of place with my expectations at least, but also I feel, out of place with the tone that was set in the trailer.

There’s even a moment where it seemed obvious that the simple removal of a certain item of headgear towards the end, could have prevented a lot of mayhem, but I guess to keep the story moving, the obviousness of that solution seemed to be deliberately ignored.

Overall, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a movie very likely most enjoyed by long time fans of Pokémon. As a non-superfan, I unfortunately think that the script / story needed more work.

Happy Film Loving 

G

TEEN SPIRIT (2018): The Things I Liked…

Teen Spirit (2018), Elle Fanning
Teen Spirit (2018), Elle Fanning, Interscope Films

Teen Spirit, the Max Minghella directed music / drama about a small town teenager with dreams of pop stardom is one I watched for two main reasons. The first being my curiosity about Minghella’s directing talents, especially since I’m such a fan of much of his late father‘s great works. The second reason is, I simply needed to hear Elle Fanning’s British accent. 

I’ll start by confirming that the talented young Fanning’s accent is of course good. In fact, I found it so convincing that I actually forgot to question it.

As for Minghella’s directing chops, there was a  period where the film’s great pacing slowed down in a noticeable way. The other moment I wasn’t delighted by is when the predictable exploitative love interest storyline took hold. Perhaps I’m just too avid a movie watcher to have not seen that coming but I definitely wish that particular scenario wasn’t so obvious to me, in effect making that moment of the film feel tedious.

Besides the above mentioned two instances, Teen Spirit is well acted and kept my full attention most of the time. Particularly since I very much connected with Violet’s (Fanning) hustle for a better reality. And as she made that final walk to the stage, it could not have been more intense and moving because of all it must have meant.

Watch it if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving.

G

LITTLE JOE (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Little Joe (2019), Emily Beecham, Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing
Little Joe (2019), Emily Beecham, Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing

Starring Ben Whishaw and Emily Beecham, the first thing that stood out about Little Joe, the sci-fi / drama about a genetically modified plant designed to make people happy is the film’s premise. Especially the creepy factor rooted in the idea that senior plant breeder and single mother Alice (Beecham) may have to choose between her actual teenage son and her ‘other son’ Little Joe – her happiness inducing plant. 

The second key highlight is the colours in director Jessica Hausner’s film. Particularly Alice’s blouses, the backgrounds she appears in front of in several scenes and the way both worked so well with the colour of her beautiful red hair. 

I truly wish that I had a longer list of favourite things about Little Joe but unfortunately that’s not the case here. I wanted to like the execution of the story / the challenges faced by of a single working mother with a teenage son but there’s something quite simplistic and surface level about it all.

I’m certainly no scientist but some of the the dialogue in Little Joe – sometimes pertaining to the science sounded a tad amusing and not in .a good way. There’s also a scene where the yanking of an arm supposedly led to what seemed like an overly dramatic fall that I simply didn’t buy.

Last last but in no way least, the continuous beep sound effect among others that kept happening every so often, plus the questionable musical score. Let’s just say that I’m not a fan of prolonged sounds that are irritating and have directly nothing to do with what’s happening in a scene.

As for the question of whether you should watch this? Only if you really REALLY must. The idea was promising but the story and general execution sadly didn’t deliver for me.

Happy Film Loving 

G

6 UNDERGROUND (2019): The Things I Liked…

6 Underground (2019), Ryan Reynolds, Netflix
6 Underground (2019), Ryan Reynolds, Netflix

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Corey Hawkins and Mélanie Laurent, 6 Underground, the latest action / thriller from Michael Bay only kind of found its way after the first hour.

I say ‘found its way’ when what I really mean is, things became most fun to watch past the hour mark. Before then, I was simply left desperate for the character background detail of the six off-the-grid agents focused on eliminating notorious criminals. I was also eagerly waiting to be gripped by everything that was happening.

Eventually, some of the character backstory did come but it certainly wasn’t soon enough or executed in the most satisfying way. The good news is that I did finally stop wanting for things and just got engrossed in all the fun past the hour point; thanks to all the action sequences in Hong Kong, plus everything else that happens after.

Other notable highlights include the opening visuals at the very beginning . I’m quite the sucker for good opening visuals. I also really enjoyed the few seconds later on when Reynolds’s character speaks in a British accent. 

Overall, even with one, two or more fairly obvious continuation errors, luckily for me, I don’t find Bay’s movie to be a total waste of time but it definitely did need at least one more story draft.

Should you decide to watch it, maybe hold out for the scenes in Hong Kong, which start at around one hour into the movie.

Happy film loving 

G

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 character’s 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