Tag Archives: Film Reviews

THE KISSING BOOTH (2018): The Things I Liked…

The Kissing Booth (2018), Joey King, Netflix
The Kissing Booth (2018), Joey King, Netflix

Director Vince Marcello’s latest teen movie The Kissing Booth (2018) is about Elle (Joey King), a high school student who’s forced to confront her secret crush.

Even though there’s plenty of focus on Elle’s crush (Jacob Elordi), for me, it’s Elle’s relationship with her best friend and their coming of age story that holds the movie together.

Overall, I wouldn’t call Marcello’s film one of the best teen movies out there. I mean, I managed to watch it all the way to the very end, but not without getting annoyed by the narration which felt largely unnecessary. There was also some cringe moments of dodgy dialogue and bad acting. However, the good news is that most, if not all of the bad acting isn’t courtesy of the main characters played by King, Elordi and Joel Courtney.

Besides King and particularly Courtney’s performances, the sunny Los Angeles setting and the way The Kissing Booth took me back to the relatively carefree nature of my teenage years are two key highlights.

If there’s one good reason to watch The Kissing Booth at all, it’s because you enjoyed the best selling books by Beth Reekles. The second best reason is to make sure you’re not lost when you watch the sequel because the The Kissing Booth 2 is the better movie. And how will you be able to fully appreciate The Kissing Booth 2 without suffering, I mean ‘getting through’ the first one?

Happy Film Loving

G

PALM SPRINGS (2020): The Thing I Liked…

Palm Springs (2020), Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Hulu
Palm Springs (2020), Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Hulu

Palm Springs is a comedy and a romance film with the added twist of an infinite time loop to complicate things. I’m sure the purpose of this particular storytelling trope was to make things more interesting. Sadly, for me, I couldn’t be more tired of the infinite time loop concept. 

Yes, Palm Springs does bring a certain twist to the concept, but the whole experience just proved tedious rather than refreshing.

Groundhog Day (1993), the first infinite time loop movie I recall watching did a good job of it. And every movie that it has since inspired, that I’ve seen has turned out to be a disappointment. Especially since I understand the concept almost too well, which then means I feel robbed; both of the element of surprise and the movie I’d hoped to be watching.

There’s no denying that Palm Springs is well-acted. Plus, I did laugh a few times. Though just not enough to make me forget how tedious I find infinite time loop movies. 

My last three complaints about director Max Barbakow’s film include the fact that I didn’t fully buy into the romance. I also found the frantic nature of things exhausting, and finally, that cheesy – dare I say cringe ‘sister speech’ at the wedding towards the end may have caused me to say ‘Ugh! CHEESE! I have a dairy issue!’ 

Infinite time loop movie fans should give Palm Springs a chance, along with others who are simply curious. Who knows, you like many others may not find it as disappointing as I did.

Happy Film Loving

G

DADS (2020): The Thing I Liked…

Dads (2020), Apple TV+

Watching Dads, Bryce Dallas Howard’s Fathers Day documentary succeeded at putting a smile on my face, as predicted. An exploratory look at contemporary fatherhood that celebrates good fathers, I enjoyed listening to all the dads; many famous and some less so as they shared their fears, hopes and approaches to fatherhood in the modern-day.

Dads is a celebration of the good fathers out there; a documentary touches on the fundamentals of what makes a good father, regardless of society’s rigid expectations about a father’s role.

Dads was never meant o be the most thorough study of fatherhood. It’s a film about ‘friends’ sharing their experiences of fatherhood, what inspired their approach to it and what they hope to achieve.

Ultimately, Howard’s film will be a different experience for each person dependant on their relationship with their father. What you’ll realise by the end, if not sooner is this, great dads are a massive gift, regardless of whether they’re yours or someone else’s.

Kenan Thompson, Jimmy Kimmel, Patton Oswalt, Judd Apatow, Will Smith, Hasan Minhaj and Ken Jeong are among the famous fathers featured.

Watch it if you’re curious

Happy Film Loving

G

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND (2020): The Things I Liked…

The King of Staten Island (2020), Pete Davidson, Universal Pictures
The King of Staten Island (2020), Pete Davidson, Universal Pictures

The King of Staten Island is a good film; as is the case with all Judd Apatow directed comedy/drama movies I’ve seen. To name just three: The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007) and This is 40 (2012),

Starring Pete Davidson, Bill Burr, Marisa Tomei and Bell Powley, Apatow’s movie is about a young man named Scott (Davidson). Particularly his coming of age story after years of arrested development after losing his father in a hotel fire.

Based largely on Davidson’s personal story, The King of Staten Island is both moving and funny in all the right places. Scott’s emotional journey and personal growth is well drawn – making for a believable story. I enjoyed the jokes, even in the moments when Scott wasn’t especially likeable.

Everyone performed well but I was especially impressed by one of my favourite comedians Bill Burr’s dramatic turn as Ray.

As for some highlights, I particularly enjoyed all the jokes at the expense of Staten Island. And one of the most moving scenes is when Scott goes to pick up Rays children for the first time.

Overall, The King of Staten Island is worth watching for moving story about a young man who finally decides to live life on purpose.

If you’re a Judd Apatow and or a Pete Davidson fan, then definitely watch it if you haven’t already.

Happy Film Loving

G

DA 5 BLOODS (2020): The Things I Liked…

Da 5 Bloods (2020), Chadwick Boseman, Netflix
Da 5 Bloods (2020), Chadwick Boseman, Netflix

Da 5 Bloods, the Spike Lee-directed story of four African American veterans who return to Vietnam for two specific reasons, years after the war ended is a good film. One that really ought to qualify Delroy Lindo for at least an award nomination because his performance is powerful, heartbreaking and hard to forget.

Also starring Chadwick Boseman, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr., the men are there to find the remains of their fallen squad leader, and to locate the gold fortune he helped them hide many years earlier.

I enjoyed much of the way the story unfolded; including the use of flashbacks. There’s also the way important black leaders were highlighted in the movie at key points. Especially the leaders/freedom fighters who impacted the lives of the veterans around the time they were American soldiers in Vietnam. These moments helped me to better understand the characters and what was happening in the world at the time. I found Da 5 Bloods to be a moving, timely, engaging and certainly heartbreaking story that delves into the relationship between four veterans, their shared experience as black Americans and how that contributed to their lives during important times in American history.

Da 5 Bloods (2020), Delroy Lindo, Johnny Nguyen, Jonathan Majors, Netflix
Da 5 Bloods (2020), Delroy Lindo, Johnny Nguyen, Jonathan Majors, Netflix

One of the most delightful parts of Lee’s movie is at the very beginning when we get to see the comradery and brotherhood between the four men. Tensions do eventually follow, as expected. But those few minutes at the start had Da 5 Bloods feeling a little bit like the male version of Girls Trip (2017); a truth I have zero complaints about.

In terms of what I didn’t love about Da 5 Bloods, there are two main things in particular. Firstly, some of what I hoped would be surprise happenings/events were set up in a way that made it easy to guess precisely what was about to take place, especially if you’d been fully paying attention. For example, there’s one particular moment that involves a character walking in a very specific way during a disagreement between the four men – but seemingly for no apparent reason before a key distressing event takes place.

Second, who, while stealing, chooses to be extremely loud as they do it, unless they’re a bank robber wielding guns? That I’d understand. I think the four veterans were far too loud while retrieving the gold, even if they did think no one was around. It annoyed me that they weren’t more careful when it made perfect sense for them to be just that. I’m not saying that the story would have turned out differently if they had just lowered their voices and not let the bright shiny gold catch the light. But doing all they did certainly didn’t help, let alone make sense to me.

Da 5 Bloods reminds us of why Lee is a notable filmmaker. Generally, the story is well structured and engaging. So, watch it for a good Spike Lee movie experience, and because performance-wise, everyone did great, especially Lindo.

Happy Film Loving

G

SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL (2020): The Things I Liked…

Spenser Confidential (2020), Mark Wahlberg, Netflix
Spenser Confidential (2020), Mark Wahlberg, Netflix

Spenser Confidential isn’t a perfect movie, but it is a fun action/comedy with some well-executed standout scenes.

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Iliza Shlesinger and Alan Arkin; director Peter Berg’s story about an ex-felon who takes on Boston’s criminal underworld to solve a twisted murder conspiracy, may have a dip in pace near the beginning. It may also feel as though at least one specific aspect of the story comes across aa tad contrived. But overall, there’s enough humour, action and well-executed scenes to make Spenser Confidential more fun than not.

My favourite line in the whole film is ‘Don’t play with me right now, Ok? Give me the cloud.’ I promise it’s more amusing in context, which I haven’t provided here as that would spoil it.

In terms of the most memorable scenes, The first one take takes place at a Mexican restaurant, while the other involves much of what happens at ‘Wonderland’ towards the end.

Watch Spenser Confidential if you’re curious and for a central mystery that you’ll want to see solved.

Happy Film Loving

G

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