Thrills and action were promised. And thrilling action is precisely what Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling’s latest, The Gray Man delivered.
A key highlight of the Anthony and Joe Russo-directed action/thriller is all the action sequences that made it impossible for me to look away for at least two-thirds of the movie. Even more so during the scenes set in Prague.
Evans as the bad guy in a story about the CIA’s most skilled operative’s uncovering of dark agency secrets is a fun surprise. I rather enjoyed his well-dressed turn as a psychopath. Gosling has always been fun to watch in action roles, and The Gray Man is no different.
And to think that my Friday wasn’t quite going to plan today. It turns out that all it took was to watch the first ten minutes of The Gray Man to have me cheering and ‘woohooing’ at the thrilling action, smile-inducing dialogue, rich visuals and heart-thumping musical score.
Undeniably, perfect is not the word to describe The Gray Man. However, it is a perfectly entertaining escape that isn’t so easy to turn away from, especially during the highly engaging action scenes.
If you’re a fan of the cast and directors, I implore you to alter your mood and take in all the highlights mentioned above, including the fun camera work.
Josh Duhamel, Leslie Bibb and Nora Dunn’s latest movie The Lost Husbandis a film I enjoyed a little more than I expected to.
Directed by Vicky Wight, it’s a story that focuses on Libby (Bibb), a newly single mother who’s trying to put her life back together after her husband dies. And she starts by moving – along with her two children to her no-nonsense aunt’s goat farm in central Texas.
What stood from the very beginning for me as The Lost Husband played is the rather pleasant musical score. Then I noticed the films even pacing and the way it’s arguably not quite as clichéd as the Hallmark movies you may or may not have seen (*wink, wink). Particularly since this story is that little bit more complicated, among one or two other reasons.
Being in the mood mood for an ‘easy viewing’ movie experience with a little romance is the reason t I decided to watch The Lost Husband. The trailer also had me wanting to see Libby make it through the grief so she could start having fun again.
As Libby met the colourful town folk and started to learn more about farm life, largely from Duhamel’s farm manager character, James, it soon became clear that Libby was going to be all right. That’s around the time I started wishing that I too had an aunt who lived on a farm. That is until I remembered my irrational fear of earthworms, bugs and many other animals.
The only thing that I wish wasn’t quite so about The Lost Husband is its use of a specific cliché involving a group of jealous and unpleasant women during a scene in the town market. Some of the writing and acting in said scene stood out for the wrong reasons. Yet, I till say that if you’re intrigued enough, then give The Lost Husband a chance. Especially when it’s time for an ‘easy viewing’ film session.
There’s also the simple pleasure of Duhamel in a Cowboy hat. You know, in case watching Libby get her life back on track and the idea of a virtual farm-based escape doesn’t quite cut it.
Once again partnering with notable cinematographer Roger Deakins, a fair amount of the visuals and lighting in 1917 have stayed with me long after viewing. Especially in regards to at least two stand out scenes which involve running – and snippets of which you get to see in the film’s trailer.
Dean Charles-Chapman and George MacKay who play two young British soldiers tasked with delivering a life or death message across enemy lines performed well. Anyone if not all with siblings can likely relate to the sense of urgency and arguably foolhardy determination displayed by Charles-Chapman’s character, in his effort to get the message to his brother’s battalion. I for one started tearing up almost immediately. Finding myself moved and often at the edge of my seat as I wished desperately for a successful message delivery.
The brotherly bond, humour, beautiful friendship and stunning moments of great cinematography definitely make up several of my favourite moments in 1917. However, I’m not sure that all those combined had me more excited and happy to be experiencing Mendes’s movie more than the scenes featuring the more seasoned actors.
I’m sure that having been a long time fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Richard Madden had something to do with it. Maybe it’s the fact that their dialogue plus the ways their scenes were captured on screen was just incredibly arresting. Perhaps it’s their gravitas, great voices and excellent dramatic timing. Without a doubt, every scene featuring the above five actors were some of my absolute favourites. Especially Scott’s single scene and when we finally get to meet Cumberbatch’s Colonel MacKenzie.
In terms of what I wish were different about 1917, I’d say a bit more of an even pace and perhaps a slightly differently edited story because there were moments where I felt as though my surrender to the storyteller was interrupted with small moments of recognition that my expectations of how seamlessly everything would flow were not fully met. To put it another way, in some moments I got lost in the story in a great way, whereas other moments had me wishing I was that little bit more satisfied with it all; you know, kind of the way Green Book (2018) had me feeling and led me through the story in a way that proved completely satisfying.
I wouldn’t say overall that 1917 is my favourite war movie. That ‘highly prestigious’ title still belongs to The Hurt Locker (2008) – but it does have a fair amount of highlights you’ll be glad to have experienced.
Starring Sonequa Martin-Green, Romany Malco and La La Anthony, I was initially drawn to Holiday Rushfor the festive theme, the decorations (which were OK) and hopefully a good story of someone making their way back after a setback.
Story-wise, I like the general outline of the way popular radio DJ Rush Williams (Malco) managed to bounce back after suffering a career disappointment. And I’m not mad at how, like almost every Christmas themed movie with a focus on family, love and togetherness, Holiday Rush had its own version of a ‘Christmas miracle.’ Meaning that everything came together in the end, just in time for December 25th.
My issue is with the execution. Director Leslie Small’s story relied quite a bit on the usual cliches to build the story and move things along, sometimes in a way that unfortunately felt rushed and contrived in places. Acting-wise, Malco and Martin-Green didn’t do badly. The story edit just didn’t help anyone overall.
At a push, the brief musical performance towards the end is likely my favourite thing about Holiday Rush.
If you’re super curious, Netflix is where it’s at.
In comedy / drama Brittany Runs A Marathon, Brittany (Jillian Bell) is a New Yorker who doesn’t have her life together; a reality she’s forced to face after her rejected request for an Adderall subscription leads to the wake up call she’d been needing.
Also starring Michaela Watkins, Lil Rel Howery and Alice Lee; director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s film is well acted and does a good, believable job of capturing the ups and downs of one woman’s personal journey of transformation. A transformation that was necessary in order for her to finally take charge of her life and go after the things she wants.
There are indeed some humorous moments in Colaizzo’s movie. However, those don’t stand out for me quite as much as the parts that proved difficult to watch. Especially when Brittany was hurting, disappointed and particularly how those negative feelings affected the people closest to her.
Overall, for me, the best thing about Brittany Runs A Marathon, besides its general believability is getting to see someone achieve what they, at the start may have perceived as impossible. I’m also not mad that it had me reflecting on the gift of great friends. May we all recognise and appreciate them when they show themselves.
Lastly, for the shortest of moments as the movie played, the idea of running a marathon seemed like a good one. That was until I remembered how much I like my blister-less feet and intact toenails.
Red Joan, the Trevor Nunn directed drama / biography based on the true story of Melita Stedman Norwood, the KGB’s longest serving British spy isn’t quite what I’d hoped.
Not that I was expecting James Bond level antics, however, even though Red Joan is adequately acted, there’s a certain absence of excitement in Nunn’s story. I remained curious enough to watch till the end, but the way the movie is written and edited certainly didn’t allow for me to become very strongly invested emotionally in how things would turn out for the protagonist(s).
Furthermore, I felt as though not enough was delved into as deeply as needed. For example, the film barely sold Joan to me as a person who really believed in saving the world. Assuming she wasn’t lying about her motivations, I wanted to know and understand if by the end she was in fact delusional or was she to some level effective in her mission, as she believed.
Sure, watch Red Joan if you absolutely must. Otherwise, for a loosely similar but far more brilliantly executed film… The Imitation Game (2014).
Someone Great stars Gina Rodriguez as Jenny, a young woman who just went through a devastating break-up. She becomes determined to enjoy one last night in New York City with her friends, before moving to San Francisco for work.
After you watched the trailer for this movie, just in case – like myself you were thinking that half the film would be set in New York City and the other half in San Francisco, you better forget about it. Someone Great happens entirely in New York and there are zero gorgeous images of the Golden Gate Bridge to be enjoyed here, sorry.
Now that I’ve delivered the bit of news that probably only I care about, I enjoyed writer / director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s film more than I thought I would. In fact, I’ll even go as far as to say that this is my favourite of Rodriguez’s roles. She did a good job of selling the romantic connection, the devastation that followed when it all fell apart, as well as the bond between Jenny and her best friends, played by DeWanda Wise and Brittany Snow.
Nicely edited and paced, Someone Great captures well, though semi-briefly the highs and lows of a passionate relationship in one’s twenties. I also enjoyed the sisterly, non-toxic female friendships plus the music and dancing. The talented LaKeith Stanfield’s performance as the love interest and Rosario Dawson’s small role were also definite highlights.
The only thing that frustrated me during Someone Great is when the momentum slowed down a little and I found myself thinking, ‘OK, OK! You’ve already established the intimacy between the three friends. So please move the story along!’ I may or may not have said that out loud.
The part I liked most overall is actually the voice over towards the end because it’s so beautifully written.
Watch Someone Great for the writing… and all the other reasons mentioned above.
Starring Allison Williams, Logan Browning and Steven Weber, The Perfectionis a ‘darker than you expect’ drama / horror / thriller. Directed by Richard Shepard, the story follows a musical prodigy who sets upon a sinister path that begins with her seeking out the current star pupil of her former school.
I kind of already knew based on the trailer that Shepard’s movie wouldn’t be the most comfortable of viewings. I just didn’t know that within ten minutes into the film, a thought that crossed my mind would be ‘Am I ready for this darkness?’
The darkness that made me uneasy wasn’t anything to do with physical violence, though there is some of that here. It was about the negative energy / vibe that seemed so easy for the audience to see, yet the person the ill-intent was aimed toward appeared completely oblivious.
As far from comfortable as this movie made me feel for a number of reasons, I also found it quite engaging – even though something about its execution felt a tad rough around the edges. Another way to say it would be… ‘The Perfection is not like Green Book (2018)’. By this I mean, in The Perfection, every single scene didn’t flow perfectly without me having to pause and question any of the story, dialogue or general happenings. Additionally, the acting was OK but I did not get completely lost in the world of the story.
I say give Shepard’s movie a chance because it’s not quite what you think it’s going to be. You’ll definitely go on a ride that won’t be the most comfortable but everything kind of pays off in the most unexpected way.
There are also one or two – perhaps more moments of stunning imagery. My favourite of which is at the top of this very post.