Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

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, 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 we have the costumes which are definitely my favourite thing about Emma overall. Particularly the clothes on Austen’s heroine. Said attire proved key in keeping me watching all the way through.

Last but not least, the confession of romantic feelings under the tree towards the end, I really enjoyed how the moment was captured.

Watch Emma if you’re curious, and also 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

AVENGERS – ENDGAME (2019): The Things I Liked…

Avengers - Endgame (2019), Chris Evans, Marvel Studios
Avengers – Endgame (2019), Chris Evans, Marvel Studios

I know that around the time Avengers – Endgame was released in 2019, there were next to zero complaints about whether the final instalment in the four-movie avengers’ franchise was good or not. Even still, I was very happy to see for myself that soon after Avengers – Endgame started, everything Marvel is known for doing exceptionally well when they’re at their best was very present in Avengers – Endgame. From visually arresting action choreography, good dialogue, memorable special effects to engaging humour, characters and story.

Directed once again by Joe and Anthony Russo, everything picks up in the aftermath of all the devastation that took place at the hand of Thanos in AvengersInfinity War. With even higher stakes than before, Captain America, Tony Stark, The Hulk and their allies have one final chance to reverse everything Thanos did and restore balance throughout the universe.

At the risk of repeating myself, as was the case with Avengers – Infinity War, I don’t personally have any complaints about Avengers – Endgame because I had fun through it all. An additional highlight for me is all the extra movie references. Plus, just as Thanos was the absolute star and my favourite character of Avengers – Infinity War, the number one avenger in this movie is Thor; specifically ‘out of shape Thor.’ I found the surprise dive into Chris Hemsworth’s character so much fun that I’m quite sure I’ve never liked Thor more than I do in Avengers – Endgame.

Of all the Avengers films, Avengers – Endgame is perhaps the most moving / emotional. Specifically as someone who’s probably best described in this case as a casual Marvel fan, I can only imagine how much more significant an experience Avengers – Endgame must have been for the most serious Marvel fans.

Now that it’s all over, for now, I’m left wondering how long it will be before a brand new generation of avengers is announced. I’m in no specific hurry but when do you think the announcements will happen – assuming it hasn’t already happened. And how soon is too soon? I feel like a year or two from now is madness, but then I again I’m not a Marvel super fan.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE WILLOUGHBYS (2020): Its…

The Willoughbys (2020), Netflix
The Willoughbys (2020), Netflix

For animated movies to fully keep my attention, it usually helps if funny, fun, cute and moving / heartwarming are key elements of the well written story and finished film. Unfortunately, in The Willoughbys, neither of these themes came across especially strongly for me

Directors Kris Pearn, Cory Evans and Rob Lodermeier’s movie about four children with terrible parents. The kind who only have time for themselves and their romantic love proved quite disappointing. 

Even though the The Willoughbys has some funny moments, it’s the kind of humour that made me smile instead of laugh. The finished film also had the quirkiness and darkness that got my attention during the trailer. Yet, for me,  it’s almost  as if the story tried to do too many things at once,. A reality which then ended up resulting in a finished product that felt disjointed and not as engaging or entertaining as I’d hoped. In fact, by the time The Willoughbys’s overarching theme about ‘the family you choose’ came along, it barely proved impactful. At least not in a way that I connected with.

Even though within thirty minutes of hitting play, I knew I wasn’t really enjoying The Willoughbys, I still thought that I’d eventually get into it and the story would finally settle into a groove I could get on board with. Sadly not.

As for the pointy noises I mentioned in my response to the trailer, they didn’t prove as jarring as they were initially, but that’s not to say that I was ever fully comfortable with them either. 

Give The Willoughbys a chance if you’re very curious. Some people find it refreshingly different. I’m clearly not one of them but perhaps you are.

Happy Film Loving

G