Tag Archives: Film Reviews

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

THE GENTLEMEN (2020): The Things I Loved

The Gentlemen (2020), Matthew McConaughey, STX Entertainment
The Gentlemen (2020), Matthew McConaughey, STX Entertainment

I don’t remember the last time I saw a movie that was so incredibly sexy, without hardly any sex taking place’.

The above is my immediate response to the question:So, how was The Gentlemen?

There’s no denying that near enough all the men in The Gentlemen are handsome and well dressed, which helps. But it’s ultimately the great performances and clever dialogue/wordplay combined with Guy Ritchie’s filmmaking style, that for me, made The Gentlemen so special.

Ritchie’s film is a smart crime/comedy/action movie. One that stars Mathew McConaughey as Michael Pearson, an American ex-pat who’s trying to sell off his highly profitable marijuana business. Except, things don’t quite go according to plan.

At the start of the movie, you may sense a little bit of a slow burn, but worry not, because it only gets better and better. The Gentleman is the kind of film most, if not all film fans will enjoy; especially big fans of Ritchies first two movies, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000). And for anyone who may have been worried about how convincing Hugh Grant’s cockney accent was going to be, you can rest assured that he does a good job.

Watch The Gentlemen for all the reasons mentioned above. I had so much fun taking it all in that I can only imagine how much more fun the actors must have had bringing Ritchie’s characters to life.

Happy Film Loving

G

BEYOND THE VISIBLE: HILMA AF KLINT (2019): The Things I Liked

Beyond The Visible – Hilma af Klint (2019), ZeitgeistFilms
Beyond The Visible – Hilma af Klint (2019), ZeitgeistFilms

Until I saw the trailer for new documentary Beyond The Visible – Hilma af Klint, I had zero prior knowledge of one of Sweden’s most important abstract artists. 

With a now famous oeuvre that has attracted millions of fans worldwide, including myself, the biggest revelation wasn’t simply that Klint was great but that she is actually the world’s first abstract artist. One who, for many years wasn’t mentioned anywhere in art history books; an unfortunate result of the usual sexism within the field.

Directed by Halina Dyrschka, I simply had to watch Beyond The Visible – Hilma af Klint to learn about an extraordinary woman. A woman who’s not only now firmly on my list of favourite artists, but one who also happens to be abstraction’s biggest discovery.

Through the use of images of Klint’s art, interviews with surviving family members, art experts and recreations of her most famous pieces, Dyrschka teaches us about the life of Klint, what made her tick and the inspiration behind her great works.

Beyond The Visible – Hilma af Klint (2019), ZeitgeistFilms
Beyond The Visible – Hilma af Klint (2019), ZeitgeistFilms

A key highlight of  watching Dyrschka’s documentary is getting to look at a fair amount of Klint’s body of work. I definitely savoured every moment the camera was focused on her creations. Perhaps even more so once science, spirituality and ‘that which is invisible to the eye‘ were mentioned as additional sources of inspiration.

In terms of anything I didn’t love about this documentary, that would be the periods mainly at the beginning where it felt like the pace was slower than preferred. There may also be a chance that I was simply impatient to know as much as I could about Klint. Especially since beyond my appreciation of her use of colour, shapes and proportion, I had zero idea about what any of it really meant. By the end, what I knew for sure is that I had an expanded appreciation for science. 

Watch Dyrschka’s film if you’re a fan of abstraction, curious about Klint – a woman who knew herself well enough to say, among other things:

Within me wells forth such power carrying me forward, that marriage and family happiness are not my destiny.’ 

There’s of course the art. Definitely watch for more of Klint’s beautiful art.

Happy Film Loving 

G