Tag Archives: Movie Review

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Isn't It Romantic (2019), Rebel Wilson
Isn’t It Romantic (2019), Rebel Wilson

Isn’t It Romantic is a comedy / romance about Natalie, a young woman who’s become disenchanted with love and mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy.

The good news about director Todd Strauss-Schulson’s movie is that I did laugh and smile a few times. The beautiful city of New York and all the scenes before Natalie wakes up in the hospital are the ones I enjoyed the most. What I like about these scenes is the way Natalie was making fun of romantic comedies. The disappointment then came for me when she found herself inside a romantic comedy, but it wasn’t an especially good one.

The vibrant colours and the humour in the super romantic New York scenes were fun in parts but after a while it didn’t do a good job of holding my interest. Something about Isn’t It Romantic made the movie feel as though it shouldn’t have been the final draft, because if it had felt more finished, maybe I’d have been more convinced by Natalie’s emotional journey and the way it was executed.

Another moment I didn’t find convincing is the actual presentation of the ‘parking lot conversion’ idea. Not that I have any actual architectural experience but as someone who’s been in many presentations, I wanted to buy into Natalie’s idea and visualise it as a good and feasible one during that presentation but it just didn’t happen.

Watch Isn’t It Romantic if you’re so curious. The trailer is pretty fun so you may find that you enjoy the finnished film more than I did.

Happy Film loving 

G

THE HOLE IN THE GROUND (2019) It’s…

The Hole In The Ground (2019), Seána Kerslake
The Hole In The Ground (2019), Seána Kerslake

One of my film loving goals in recent years has been to open my mind to horror movies. So far I’ve really only watched films that are horror with a side of thriller, drama or mystery – and I’ve enjoyed all of them to varying degrees. For example A Quiet Place (2017), Get Out (2017) and It (1990), to name just three were fun but the problem is that none of these movies are purely horror movies.

From co-writer and director Lee Cronin, The Hole In The Ground is categorised as purely a horror film and it’s about a young mother with a troubled past who’s trying to figure out whether the disturbing changes in her little boy are linked to an ominous sinkhole, deep in the forest close to her home.

I can’t say that The Hole In The Ground is a film I found especially scary and perhaps the fact that I watched it as daylight poured in through my window has a little something to do with it. Even still, it had my attention in the beginning but I soon I found the whole experience to be ‘too much atmosphere and not enough story or scares.’ 

I’d hoped that the questions presented in the trailer that had me interested in this movie would be fully answered. I really wanted to know what that hole in the ground was actually about and how it came to be but I learned nothing. As a relative newbie to the genre, perhaps this lack of revelation / explanation is something I need to get used to. Fingers crossed that isn’t the case.

I think that both Seána Kerslake and James Quinn Markey performed well. I just can’t say that I loved The Hole In The Ground because some of the special effects were not especially convincing and it didn’t do a great job of holding my attention on account of all the focus on atmosphere but with insufficient pay off.

Watch it if you, you know, absolutely must.

Happy Film loving 

G

INSTANT FAMILY (2018): The Things I Liked…

Instant Family (2018), Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Paramount Pictures
Instant Family (2018), Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Paramount Pictures

After seeing the trailer for Instant Family several months ago in 2018, I really wanted to get excited about it because the story looked like a great one and because I like both of its main stars, Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne. Having previously seen Wahlberg in the Daddy’s Home movies and finding myself not fully loving them, I’m really glad to confirm that Instant Family is definitely not that.

Directed and co-written by Sean Anders, Instant Family is a comedy / drama based on the true story of the ups and downs faced by a couple who foster / adopt three children all at once. 

Things were looking good for this movie within the first few minutes. Firstly, the editing. I really appreciate the fact that I didn’t find myself wishing I could fast forward any of the scenes. Second, the relationship between the central couple played by Wahlberg and Byrne. Last but not least, the dynamic and banter between Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro’s characters is another definite key highlight.

I found myself laughing during Instant Family more than I expected to. An especially memorable moment being the scene at the dinner table with the pair of closed eyes. I was of course also moved by the beautiful moments of familial love and the truth of some of the experiences of children and teenagers in the foster care system.

Watch Instant Family because it’s good, very likely better than you expect and it’s definitely – as a fellow film lover predicted, more grounded than the Daddie’s Home films.

Happy Film loving 

G

WIDOWS (2018): The Things I Liked…

Widows (2018), Liam Neeson, Viola Davis, 20th Century Fox
Widows (2018), Liam Neeson, Viola Davis, 20th Century Fox

Directed by Steve McQueen (Shame 2011); starring Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson and Robert Duvall, Widows is without a doubt very well acted and devoid of any dull moments. There are one or two unexpected turns I enjoyed and everyone performs very well in McQueen’s crime / thriller, a story about four women in need of a way to survive after their husbands’ criminal activities leave them in massive debt.

I’ll start by say that I generally appreciate the quality in movies where everything isn’t overly explained. I like moments where the audience is trusted to connect the dots and make sense of things. Widows is a movie that has a handful of such moments which are well executed. Yet, I’d also say that the ending aside, McQueen’s film feels oddly incomplete somehow.

The feeling of incompleteness comes first from not knowing enough of the back story of some of the characters. We get to know a fair amount  about a few key players but I was certainly left wanting when it came to Cynthia Erivo’s very intriguing Belle, for example.

Widows (2018), Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez, 20th Century Fox
Widows (2018), Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez, 20th Century Fox

There are also questions I had pertaining to one or two of the dead bodies and how they were disposed of. You may be reading this and be thinking: The brown notebook, silly! And you wouldn’t be wrong by saying that. Nevertheless, I still wanted to be fully convinced by how the story played out especially when it came to the widows’ turn to criminality. Unfortunately, even though I came close to being convinced, I just wasn’t – not completely.

It may may well be that I’ve seen far too many television crime dramas / thrillers that show just the right amount in order for me to buy a story wholeheartedly. Either way I’m now of the mind that Widows may have been better suited to a miniseries format. That way it wouldn’t feel quite so heavily edited and somehow incomplete. There’d certainly be more time for me to get to know a greater number of the characters in a more satisfying way.

Every one performs well but my favourite performance in Widows is delivered by Farrell. I really enjoyed watching his super entitled politician’s son character and listening to what sounded like a very convincing accent. Elizabeth Debicki also delivered some fun turns I wanted more of. 

Overall, Widows may not be my favourite McQueen movie but it definitely isn’t bad either. Perhaps you’ll find that it couldn’t possibly be more complete.

Happy Film Loving 

AT ETERNITY’S GATE (2019): The Things I Liked…

At Eternity's Gate (2018), Willem Dafoe, CBS Films
At Eternity’s Gate (2018), Willem Dafoe, CBS Films

There’s plenty of beauty in director Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate, a biography / drama about highly celebrated artist Vincent Van Gogh. The beauty lies first and foremost in the stunning cinematography, but also in the dialogue, editing and musical score.

As a big fan of colour and light, there’s certainly plenty of it to take in and enjoy  in Schabel’s movie; whether it’s the scenes in nature that Willem Dafoe’s Van Gogh is mesmerised by, or the beautiful blue of the jacket on the artist’s back.

Thanks to Schabel’s great execution, I enjoyed At Eternity’s Gate in its entirety. Even the heartbreaking moments that highlighted the truth of just how challenging Van Gogh’s experience of life must have been. The moments of suffering he endured made me sad and simultaneously grateful that he, at the very least had one of the most loving brothers anyone could ever wish for.

So engaging and immersive is the viewing experience of At Eternity’s Gate that it felt as though I was often there with Van Gogh; whether running with him through the beautiful vistas, laying down to take in the beauty of the sky and surrounding nature or even during his most tormented periods. Periods when there was next to zero colour in his days.

Watch At Eternity’s Gate because you appreciate visual art. Watch it to learn some truths about Van Gogh and for the mesmerising footage of an artist at work. By the very end, you may even be inspired to take  a trip to Amsterdam for the  Van Gogh Museum; or perhaps pick up some paint and brushes.

Time for me to look up Schnabel’s other films.

At Eternity’s Gate also stars Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Niels Arestrup…

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE WIFE (2018): The Thing I Liked…

The Wife (2019), Glenn Close
The Wife (2018), Glenn Close

Imagine being way past middle age and finding yourself ill at ease with your life choices. This is the situation Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) finds her self in as travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he’s due to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Featuring good performances by all involved, especially Close, I enjoyed this story and the way it handles regret. I particularly liked how expertly Close portrayed the complicated emotional journey of a woman in a specific predicament that is the kind of situation most modern independent women should hopefully no longer find themselves in. 

I’m quite certain that my favourite movie about regret will probably always be Magnolia (1999). Yet, The Wife too is memorable in the way it handles the subject. I felt badly for Joan, not so much because of the life she chose but because she let what seemed like other people’s negative experiences change the direction of her entire life. 

Another way to look at Joan’s story is to conclude that she fell in love, and that truth took priority over all else – including her own morality and the kind of treatment and respect a person really ought to demand in every situation.

More than anything, for me, The Wife is a reminder to think, think and think again before you sacrifice a key part of yourself for another – especially in the name of love. 

It is also just a well acted movie you should see if the themes intrigue you enough. 

Lastly, fun fact! The actress who plays young Joan’s is actually Glenn Close’s real life daughter, Annie Starke.

Happy Film Loving 

G

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (2018): The Things I Liked…

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), KiKi Layne, Stephan James
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), KiKi Layne, Stephan James

Starring Regina King, KiKi Layne, Pedro Pascal, Stephan James, Ed Skrein, and from Moonight (2016) director Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk is a drama / romance set in early 1970s Harlem. 

Based on rightly celebrated American novelist and social critic James Baldwin’s book of the same name, at the centre of the story is Tish. Tish is a pregnant young black woman who’s desperately scrambling to prove her fiancé innocent of a terrible crime.

There are some moments in this movie where I wanted to hit the fast forward button for a few seconds. Yet, overall I’d say that at first you may resist the sometimes almost dream-like pace of this story, but soon enough you surrender to it. And you do so on account of the well written dialogue, the musical score, the great performances and Jenkins’s depiction of a truly united, loving family – generally speaking and in the face of great injustice.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Regina King
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Regina King

It was during the most heartbreaking scenes in this movie that the full meaning behind Baldwin’s book title, ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ quickly came to light. And as it did so, my head and heart started wishing that the truth of the story would end up being ‘When Beale Street Spoke.’

Well edited with flashbacks that are expertly woven in, this one is a movie that will one minute break your heart and have you extremely disappointed in the capacity of the human to hate. Then the next minute make you smile at the beauty of love as you take a moment to appreciate the strength and love of family and friends when you need them most.

As a fan of great writing, I can only imagine the pride of the actors who got to speak Baldwin’s words. The writing stood out so much for me that, had I not already known that Baldwin was behind it as the movie played, I’d have definitely had to make a note to look this great ‘new writer’ up.

Watch it for all the reasons above. Especially the dialogue, the family unit, for some insight into being black in America, to discover KiKi Layne – if you didn’t already know – and of course, love.

Happy Film Loving

G

VELVET BUZZSAW (2019): The Things I Liked…

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019), Jake Gyllenhaal
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019), Jake Gyllenhaal, Netflix

I had a good time watching writer / director Dan Gilroy’s latest movie, Velvet Buzzsaw. The fact that it’s set in sunny Miami Beach, Florida only has a little something to do with it.

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, John Malkovich, Zawe Ashton, Toni Collette and Billy Magnussen, Velvet Buzzsaw is a comedy / crime / fantasy movie about a group of art lovers who become revenge targets for a supernatural force. The catalyst for the vengeance being, the art lovers helped themselves to pieces of art they really shouldn’t have.

I immediately liked the early scenes where the different characters along with all their various motivations are established. Yet, I did definitely watch these scenes while somewhat impatiently waiting for the vengeance to begin. The true extent of my impatience didn’t really reveal itself until after the very first bit of rather thrilling revenge is enacted. Reason being, some of the scenes after that point weren’t always especially engaging. 

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019), Zawe Ashton
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019), Zawe Ashton

For me personally, thanks to my favourite characters in the movie, the ones played by Gyllenhaal, Ashton and Natalia Dyer, I feel as though Velvet Buzzsaw had enough to make the nearly two hours I spent watching the movie worthwhile. I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s quite as good as Nightcrawler (2014)my favourite Gyllenhaal and Gilroy collaboration, but it does have some standout moments that I won’t soon forget. Especially in regards to the creative ways revenge is enacted upon the greedy art lovers. There’s also the moments of gorgeous cinematography featuring rich, vibrant colours. 

Another good movie that came to mind as I watched Velvet Buzzsaw is Final Destination (2000), a horror / thriller that did a very memorable job of thrilling and shocking its audience because of the very well executed death sequences – something Velvet Buzzsaw doesn’t do too badly at either.

Watch it if you’re so curious. Other reasons include the ‘funny’ replacement personal assistant, the chance to see Gyllenhaal really having fun in this role.

Last but not least, watch it and be surprised by how much you actually enjoy the very last ‘piece of art’ shown in this movie. I know I did. I really could have looked at it for a while, if I were less busy.

Happy Film Loving 

G