Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

SOUL (2020): The Things I Liked…

Soul, the story of Joe Gardner, a musician who ends up transported out of his body, and has to find his way back is both what I expected it to be and not, simultaneously.

Starring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey and Daveed Diggs; what stood out most about Soul is how visually well-imagined it is. The look and feel had me fully engaged. Whether it was the barber’s fantastic beard, or what the surroundings and occupants of ‘the place in between alive and dead,’ looks and feels like.

Generally, all of Soul is good. However, I enjoyed it most during the scenes when Joe was in the ‘in-between place.’ It’s the conversations and the general cleverness of the details of those moments that impressed me most. I liked these scenes so much that I found I missed the setting when the story was elsewhere.

My main issue with Soul is how unclear the messaging seemed to be at a point or two towards the end. I don’t mean the messaging at the heart of the film; the one about Joe’s evolution/emotional journey. I’m referring to some moments of dialogue that weren’t as clear or easily understood as I’d come to expect from a Disney Pixar film.

Watch Soul for the highly intriguing concept. I wouldn’t say that I found it quite as clever, satisfying or comforting as Inside Out (2015). But it is worth watching. It also helps a little if you like Jazz.

Lastly, there’s beautiful piano music that happens after Joe’s all-important gig that you probably don’t want to miss.

Happy Film Loving

G

DEATH TO 2020 (2020): The Thing I Liked…

Death To 2020 (2020), Cristin Milioti, Netflix

My favourite thing about Netflix’s Death to 2020, a comedic retrospective of the year that was 2020 is the phrase ‘Prime Ministerial scarecrow, Boris Johnson.’ I laugh every time I re-read it, because it’s true.

There’s certainly a handful of more amusing moments within the show, whether it’s courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, Lisa Kudrow, Leslie Jones, Cristin Milioti or several others. Nevertheless, one of my key issues with Death to 2020 relates to how disjointed it feels; even with the narration used to bring everything together.

Furthermore, the show felt a lot like a less amusing version of Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show; even though I’ve only ever experienced The Daily Show via the best clips on their Youtube Channel.

Unfortunately, Death to 2020 also had me nodding off to sleep a few times. A reality I can blame on the above reasons, and the fact that my favourite comics already helped me laugh at 2020, a little closer to when much of the madness was happening.

I say give Death to 2020 a chance if you’re curious. You may not be as avid a consumer of current comedy as myself.

Happy Film Loving and a fantastic 2021!

G

MAN OF STEEL (2013): The Things I Liked…

Man of Steel (2012), Henry Cavill, Warner Bros. Pictures
Man of Steel (2012), Henry Cavill, Warner Bros. Pictures

Three things I realised while watching director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013)

  1. Henry Cavill is a great Superman.
  2. Christopher Nolan, a.k.a ‘Inception (2010) and Tenet (2020) director Christopher Nolan’ wrote the script. Had I known this beforehand, I’d have watched the movie much sooner. Nolan’s involvement may also be why the musical score was so noticeably good. You know, as per most if not all Nolan films.
  3. This third point is a tad random buy here we go: To my (I want to say ‘expert’) eyes, Diane Lane and Paula Pattern (not in the movie) look as though they could be related. Do you see it?

I enjoyed most of what happens in Man of Steel, from the music, performances, very engaging story to the special effects and action. Yet I can’t deny that I did start to lose interest after the two-hour mark when there was still another twenty-three minutes remainig. 

Other things that stood out less positively include the fight sequence between Superman and General Zod (Michael Shannon) towards the end. It just wasn’t quite the exciting well-choreographed face-off I expected. Also, there’s a strange moment in the film when a military officer references Superman’s ‘hotness’/attractiveness. Instead of being funny, the dialogue felt more out of place.

I know it’s been seven years since this movie was released, which means you’ve probably seen it already, if not more than once. Nevertheless, I say Man of Steel is worth watching. Particularly because of Cavill and all the other positive points mentioned above. 

Happy Film Loving

G

THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2 (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Christmas Chronicles (2020), Kurt Russell, Netflix

Thoughts that entered my mind while watching The Christmas Chronicles 2:

Yeah! Kurt Russell delivers another fun musical performance, a key highlight.’


My, my; that Santa coat is still as beautiful as the first time I laid eyes on it.’


I’m so glad this movie is better than the first one. Thanks to the story and a good performance by young Darby Camp.’

I’d love that star as my own personal light. Also looks like a perfect ornament.’

Considering the year that 2020 has been, The Christmas Chronicles 2, along with a few other good seasonal movies this year are precisely what my festive season mise en scène obsessed self have been needing.

It’s a fun adventure for Christmas fans of all ages. Especially, thanks to how positive it is and the way it fully embraces the Christmas spirit. From the engaging adventure story about saving Christmas to the stunning decorations and fun special effects.

Watch The Christmas Chronicles 2. Particularly if, like me, you’re into how beautiful the festive season makes everything look, and all else I’ve mentioned.

The only things I liked a little less than would have been ideal are the performances by the big brother character and the naughty elf. Both were okay. However, just not as fully believable at times as young Camp the others.

Happy Film Loving

G

HAPPIEST SEASON (2020): The Things I Loved…

Happiest Season (2020), Dan Levy, Kristen Stewart, Hulu
Happiest Season (2020), Dan Levy, Kristen Stewart, Hulu

I haven’t seen all the Christmas movies due for release in 2020 just yet. Especially since it’s not even December as I write this. Nevertheless, let’s just say that it’s going to take something very special to dethrone Happiest Season as my favourite Christmas film of the year.

I found plenty to enjoy in this Clea Duvall co-written/directed story about needing to be exactly yourself, wanting your family’s acceptance and trying hard not to ruin Christmas.

First, there’s the good performances by all, particularly Mackenzie Davis who I’ve been a fan of since Always Shine (2016). Then comes the musical score that I believe is near perfection.

Additionally, Happiest Season manages to feel fresh, even though the holiday/romance/comedy film category is far from new. And the ‘freshness’ is, in part because the central characters are a young lesbian couple. However, it’s simply good writing, editing, acting, music and all else necessary that makes Duvall’s movie the perfect holiday film experience I’ve been needing. Happiest Season is also funny in all the right places. Plus, it features a good mix of memorable dramatic moments too. I say, watch it at once! Because it’s good.

Lastly, like myself, by the end you may feel that you’ve finally come across your favourite Kristen Stewart performance. Especially if you’re not too busy appreciating the noteworthy family wisdom, plus the good examples of friendship and kindness in the story.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE PRINCESS SWITCH 2 – SWITCHED AGAIN (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again (2020), Vanessa Hudgens, Netflix
The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again (2020), Vanessa Hudgens, Netflix

When I decided to watch The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again, I wasn’t expecting great things. I was hoping for a sort of watchable Christmas movie experience that I’d be able to get through with a smile on my face, in part thanks to the Christmas filled mise en scene.

Instead, what happened within 10 minutes of the viewing experience gave me a strong urge to reach for my phone and do other things while it played. I definitely could have aborted the whole experience, but something told me to leave it playing. Nothing improved with time, of course. But at least it made the room look extra ‘Christmassy’.

What exactly is wrong with The Princes Switch 2 – Switched Again? Let’s just say that it’s the kind of story and execution that’s really best enjoyed by preteen girls/children. I should have known.


Nevertheless, in the event that, like myself, you often leave less than great Christmas movies playing in the background because you like the ambience they help create, maybe, for that reason alone, hit play on The Princes Switch 2 – Switched Again. You could even leave it playing with the volume down while you pick a Christmas soundtrack to blast through your home. Now that’s an idea.

Happy Film Loving 

G

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM (2020): The Things I Liked…

Borat 2 (2020), Sacha Baron Cohen, Prime Video

It was never going to be easy to follow Sacha Baron Cohen’s big hit Borat movie Borat – Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006).

Released more than 14 years ago, directed by Larry Charles and co-written by Cohen, it was funny, shocking, refreshing and cleverly put together. Fast forward to now, and I have to say that I found Cohen’s followup, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm quite disappointing.

There are very few moments in director Jason Wliner’s film where I smiled and maybe laughed a little. Far more frequently, however, there are cringe-worthy and sometimes gross/in-bad-taste scenes that failed to amuse; at times because the scenes were more unnecessarily vulgar than funny. Other times I could see the intended joke coming, but not in a way that made me look forward to the punchline; reason being, I’d seen something in the first Borat movie, where it was more amusing.

I appreciate the way Wliner’s acknowledges some recent/current key, happenings into the world. From Covid-19 and The Me Too Movement to events in American politics. I only wish I liked the seemingly rushed finished product more.

Forced to choose, my favourite moment besides when we learn of the maskini,’ is perhaps some of the scenes during the daughter’s makeover.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is one you watch if you’re SUPER curious. Having now watched it, I know that I’d have missed very little had I steered clear.

Happy Film Loving

G

NEWNESS (2017): The Things I Liked…

Newness (2017), Nicholas Hoult
Newness (2017), Nicholas Hoult

Newness is a movie I watched because its writer/director Drake Doremus is behind my favourite film by the late and brilliant Anton Yelchin. The movie I’m referring to is of course, Like Crazy (2011); a story that captures well an example of the ups and downs of young love. Especially when only one of the parties live in the country they met.

Doremus’s newer film and the subject of this post is Newness. Another story of young love. Only this time the focus is on two millennials navigating a relationship affected by the challenges that come with modern life’s social media-driven hookup culture.

Well edited and performed by Nicholas Hoult and Laia Costa, I must admit to not enjoying Newness as much as I did Like Crazy. The main issue being, I simply didn’t connect with Hould and Costa’s characters as much as I needed to. It was unfortunately around the twenty-minute mark that I realised I was bored and thinking ‘Why, oh why is this movie two hours long?

Due to my failure to connect adequately with the key characters, no matter the editing or how delightfully naturalistic the performances, I still thought ‘I’m sure I’d have enjoyed this story far more had it been a documentary. Perhaps then it would have felt somehow more substantial and impactful. Particularly so since Newness is a lot like a modern-day dating case study, just not an especially engaging one.

My favourite moment in the movie is an emotional one that finally happens at approximately one hour 14 minutes in.

Overall, I say watch Newness if you’re very curious. Perhaps you’ll find far more to love than I did. Otherwise, watch what I feel is the better Doremus movie, Like Crazy. It’s the one that made me a big Yelchin fan and why I was so sad to learn of passing back in 2016.

Happy Film Loving

G