Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

LAST CHRISTMAS (2019): The Things I Liked…

Last Christmas (2019), Henry Golding, Emilia Clarke, Universal Pictures
Last Christmas (2019), Henry Golding, Emilia Clarke, Universal Pictures

Emilia Clarke, George Michael’s music (which is supposed to be heavily featured) and Emma Thompson are among the key reasons I felt drawn to Last Christmas, the latest comedy / romance from Spy (2015) director Paul Feig.

Also starring Henry Golding, at the centre of the film is Kate, a young woman who works at a Christmas store as Santa’s elf. Kate also happens to be subscribed to making bad decisions; a truth that only starts to change after she meets the seemingly perfect Tom (Golding). 

I found myself immediately happy as soon as Last Christmas began, thanks to the beautiful singing at the very beginning. Then came Michelle Yeoh and Thompson’s fun dialogue plus impressive comic and dramatic timing. Another personal highlight is the Covent Garden setting, one of my favourite parts of London.

Overall though, Last Christmas isn’t quite my favourite London based Christmas film – and that’s largely because the story isn’t especially memorable. It really felt watchable at best. The fact that the key revelation towards the end is one I figured out before it was confirmed also didn’t help my enjoyment of Feig’s film. Additionally, I really expected George Michael’s music to be more prominently featured. However, in fairness, it may also be that I’m not quite as familiar with Michael’s back catalogue as I thought.

Last Christmas is kind of ‘easy viewing’ and it’s one you watch if you’re curious enough. Also, maybe watch it for Yeoh and Thompson’s fun performances; plus the rather beautiful singing at the very beginning.

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019): The Things I Liked…

The Lighthouse (2019), Robert Pattinson, A24
The Lighthouse (2019), Robert Pattinson, A24

The Lighthouse, a fantasy / drama / horror about two lighthouse keepers struggling to maintain their sanity while living on a remote, mysterious New England island is a movie that noticeably builds and builds; especially where the tensions between its two characters is concerned. It also becomes more and more intriguing, fantastical and has a permeating sense of dread as it plays, resulting in an ending that makes sense but also left me with some questions.

I definitely can’t deny overall that writer / director Robert Eggers’s 1890s set film is a good one. I enjoyed the cinematography, some of the dialogue and definitely the great performances by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. In terms of how I feel about Eggers’s movie in its entirety, for reasons that include the film’s genre (fantasy especially) and the general loudness based on the sounds and noises the two men had to endure; plus the inclusion of much of the less than sanitary / unsavoury aspects of being a lighthouse keeper in the 1800’s, I can’t say that I loved The Lighthouse. 

Should you find yourself quite curious, give it a chance because it’s unlike most. It also has that stage play quality, likely due to the dialogue style and single setting. Who knows, you may just find yourself far more enthused by the whole experience overall than I was.

I know for sure that during the movie and when it was over, I desperately wanted to believe that the job and experience of being a lighthouse keeper these days is quite different; at the very least, far more sanitary.

Happy Film Loving 

G

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

MARRIAGE STORY (2020): The Things I Liked…

Marriage Story (2019), Adam Driver, Netflix
Marriage Story (2019), Adam Driver, Netflix

Marriage Story is a good movie. Beautifully written, well acted – by everyone, including Ray Liotta, Laura Dern and young Azhy Robertson.

Directed by Noah Baumbach of Greenberg (2010) and Frances Ha (2012); Marriage Story is a film I wanted to see because of its director’s previous works. I’m also a big fan of the lead actors, (Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver), I loved the very well edited trailer and I wanted to see what Baumbach’s movie had to say about this thing called marriage. Particularly the very type that ends in divorce.

Categorised as a comedy / drama, you’ll indeed smile and laugh but certainly not as much as you’ll be moved almost to tears if not actual streaming tears. This one is a film that deals with the classic challenges faced in many modern relationships. Especially, the kind that can arise where both parties are ambitious and with clear ideas of what they want for their life and career. It’s also a story that features the one thing that’s always there as one of the key reasons for the breakdown of all relationships; ‘ineffective communication’. 

Marriage Story (2019), Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson, Adam Driver, Netflix
Marriage Story (2019), Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson, Adam Driver, Netflix

I’m glad to confirm that the things I liked most about the trailer for Marriage Story are the very things that stood out beautifully in the  finished film. Great writing / dialogue, editing so well executed that I personally didn’t need a second to question any of Baumbach’s creative decisions; they all made sense to me since everything felt rooted in a level of unquestionable realism that resonated with me.

As you watch Baumbach’s movie, almost throughout you’ll find yourself smiling, then sad within seconds. Yet it’s unlikely you’ll be mad that you decided to watch at all.

Other things that stood out about Marriage Story… I loved the humour, perfectly choreographed scenes and the film’s general rhythm. There’s also the heartbreaking yet fun to watch courtroom drama antics, that last big argument and Driver’s character’s singing at the very end. That scene was just somehow perfect. 

Definitely watch it because it’s very good.

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

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