Last Christmas (2019)

last-christmas-2019-movie-review-posterDirector: Paul Feig

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Runtime: 103 Minutes

Main Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, Michelle Yeoh, Jade Anouka, Patti LuPone, Rob Delaney, Lydia Leonard, Sue Perkins, Rebecca Root

Plot: Kate’s life changed for the worse when she was seriously ill a couple of years ago. She sleeps on the couch of a friend’s house each night until they tire of her and kick her out, she refuses to speak to her mother, and her boss at the Christmas store she works at has all but given up on her. That is, until she meets Tom, whose optimism turns her life around.

My Thoughts: I’ve loved every Paul Feig movie I’ve seen, and Christmas is my favourite time of year, so I was so excited when the trailer for Last Christmas finally came out. Then I saw on Twitter a lot of tweets about the trailer giving too much away and I kind of steered clear just in case. I mean, the main character suffered a huge trauma and the movie itself is called ‘Last’ Christmas so I knew it would be a weepy one, but I didn’t want to find out the entire plot via Twitter.

That said, I’m marking the rest of this post as SPOILER TERRITORY. Go and watch the movie first, unless you’ve already seen Twitter or Reddit, because I looked just, and sure enough, the internet worked out what happened. You clever lot, you. Anyway, I adored this movie. Emilia Clarke is a national treasure. She can say more with her eyebrows than with words, I’m telling you! And Henry Golding? Swoon. I knew something was off straight away, though. You’re telling me someone in 2019 doesn’t have a phone? To be honest, I just assumed he was a figment of Emilia’s imagination…some sort of Christmas spirit that turns up only when she needs him. I guess I wasn’t far off.

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And then the twist. My bestie Steph was with me at the time. When Emilia went back to Henry’s place to find out no one had lived there for ages? Steph worked it out just like that and told me…and then cue the uncontrollable sobbing. We were literally sat there crying and wiping our eyes in sync…we were a right mess! After that, it felt like it should have all been so obvious…garden and bench included but…ugh.

Best Bit: Just when I thought I would never smile again, it was Christmas Day, and Emma Thompson made a comment about lesbian pudding. Can we please protect Emma Thompson at all costs? She is legendary in whatever role she’s playing!

Worst Bit: I come to the cinema to forget how terrible the world is, our little island in particular. Did you HAVE to stick Brexit into this?!

Fun Trivia: Paul Feig was originally not interested in doing another Holiday-comedy, after his previous entry, Unaccompanied Minors (2006), was a critical and commercial failure. However, after reading the script, personally sent to him by Emma Thompson, he was convinced.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 ugly tree decorations that Santa would proudly display in her store!

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Going Off Topic (#22) I Have Spoken!

It’s been quiet here this last week – partly because I haven’t watched any movies and partly because I’ve been playing The Witcher 3 far too much. It’s such a time sinker! I turn it on, tell myself I’ll only play for an hour, and before I know it I’m dropping to sleep in front of the screen because it’s 11pm and I haven’t stopped. It’s made me even more excited for the Netflix show but at the same time…Henry Cavill just isn’t my Geralt. We’ll see.

Last week I complained about Disney+ and well, let’s just say I watched the first episode of The Mandalorian anyway. In fact, by the time I publish this post I’ll have seen episode 2 as well. It’s SO GOOD. Like, better than I thought it could be. What is it with droids in Star Wars? They literally steal the show. IG-11 had me in stitches, I sure hope he can be fixed.

This weekend I’m seeing Last Christmas which I’m so excited about, despite the terrible reviews I saw on Twitter. I’m fairly sure The Report is out too so I’m going to have to stay away from games this weekend to squeeze it in.
(If it’s not blatantly obvious yet – I wrote this post last Friday expecting to post it over the weekend. I’ve seen Last Christmas. Haven’t stopped crying yet.)

In other blog news I need to highlight something that Dell at Dell on Movies is working on. For 5 years now Dell is hosting his annual Girl Week blogathon. It’s running from 25th November till 1st December and it’s all about celebrating women in the movie world. Last year I wrote a post highlighting the female directors of 2018, and I’m planning a very similar post again. Check out Dell’s announcement post here, and if you don’t follow him already, you really should!

Let It Snow (2019)

let-it-snow-netflix-2019-movie-reviewDirector: Luke Snellin

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Runtime: 92 Minutes

Main Cast: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Matthew Noszka, Jacob Batalon, Isabela Moner, Joan Cusack, Miles Robbins

Plot: On Christmas Eve, a series of circumstances and events, as well as a snowstorm, brings together a group of teenagers in a diner.

My Thoughts: Every Friday, Netflix is releasing a new Christmas movie for us to enjoy. They’re all going to be that ‘Hallmark Channel’ kind of quality but hey – isn’t that what Christmas is all about? I for one can’t wait, and have promptly cleared all of my Friday nights from now till the big day! Let It Snow is Netflix’s contribution to the Love Actually category, in where all these characters find their stories intertwined by the time the credits roll. It’s also one of the best (worst?) movies I’ve seen for finding yourself having to pause and say ‘I know him/her from something!’. I swear I stopped the movie at least 6 times in the first 10 minutes.

By far the most interesting story here for me was Stuart and Julie (played by Shameik Moore and Isabela Merced). Stuart’s a famous musician and meets Julie on a stranded train where he mistakes her for a fan. She, in fact, couldn’t care less who he is and is struggling with deciding whether to accept a scholarship and leave her sick mother behind. It’s a cheesy story but they both have such great chemistry, and the other stories fell to the wayside a little.

So no, it’s no Love Actually, but it’s far better than the other copycats out there, and even if it’s a little too silly for you, the soundtrack makes it worth your time, too. Who doesn’t love Whole of the Moon by The Waterboys? And if I still haven’t sold it to you, let me tell you this. Bad Janet is in it! Like, almost literally Bad Janet. I watched Let It Snow straight after catching the latest episode of The Good Place and thought I was tripping when she showed up.

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Best Bit: Tobin turns up fairly early in the movie, and I KNEW I knew him from somewhere, so much that I refused to look it up for ages. I was practically shouting at my husband, I can picture him now, he’s singing, he’s really well dressed, why can’t I work out what he was in?! Oh, he’s Ben in Disney’s Descendants. That character I have an embarrassing crush on. Wait, I put this in ‘Best Bit’? Whoops.

Worst Bit: Joan Cusack plays ‘Tin Foil Woman’, a woman driving a truck whilst covered in tin foil, dishing out stellar advice whether it was asked for or not. Husband claimed early on that she wouldn’t be real and we were both a little disappointed that his theory didn’t turn out to be true.

Fun Trivia: The movie “Let It Snow” is an adaptation of the book by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.

My Rating: 3 and a half waffles – and on that note, is there a waffle house in existence that sells those Waffle Quaffles? Because damn, they looked tasty.

let-it-snow-2019-netflix-waffles

Going Off Topic (#21) Thanks, Disney

So the UK finally has a release date for Disney+. It’s 31st March 2020. Aca-scuse me? The END OF MARCH? The entire world will have watched The Mandalorian by that time. Thanks Disney, I’ll be resorting to finding other ways to watching your newest show and come April I’ll still probably end up signing up anyway. Sigh. People on Twitter are complaining that they have to watch MCU shows to fully understand the new movies whilst the UK is sat here wishing they actually could.

Moving swiftly on, welcome to the run-up to Christmas, AKA Adam Driver season! The Report comes out on 15th November, Marriage Story is released on 6th December, and of course Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on 19th December. Us getting that one day early is the only reason I’m not raging about Disney+ to tell the truth.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been a little more active around here this week, which is a habit I’m hoping to continue. It helps that there’s a ton of good movies on the horizon, awards season around the corner, and the end of year lists to make that are so much fun. Somewhere in between all of this is Christmas, too!

On Friday I posted my Blind Spot review for Chicago (2002) which you can read here if you missed it. It’s the first Blind Spot review I’ve posted since June, because it’s the first Blind Spot movie I’ve seen since then. The problem is, in December last year when I wrote the list, my July choice was American Beauty (1999), before the Kevin Spacey thing came to light. I don’t know what to do with it now. Do I still want to watch it? If I do, can I review it? Do I address the elephant in the room or ignore it? I try to stay light-hearted on the blog so it’s a tough one.

I’m more inclined to swap it out for a different movie for now and decide what to do later. I’ve tried to complete the Blind Spot Series challenge on 4 different occasions now and I mean to complete it this year. One movie I’ve had on my watch list for a while now is Black Swan (2010). Do you reckon that’s Blind Spot enough, or too recent?

Blind Spot Series: Chicago (2002)

chicago-movie-review-poster-2002Director: Rob Marshall

Genre: Musical, Drama, Crime

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, Christine Baranski, John C. Reilly, Taye Diggs, Colm Feore, Chita Rivera

Plot: Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly find themselves on death row after committing murder. Roxie is the newcomer and desperately tries to get into Velma’s good books, until she finds herself in the spotlight of attorney Billy Flynn.

My Thoughts: YES. So much yes for this movie! When I watched La La Land I was hooked from that opening song and the same thing happened to me with Chicago. Why have I avoided musicals for so long when I grew up on the Disney classics? I guess sometimes it can be a little cringy to just suddenly burst into song during a serious moment, but the musical numbers in Chicago don’t work that way, instead, they’re stand-alone performances that tie in with whatever is currently happening, which is super effective.

Renée Zellweger is fantastic in this, starting out as a meek young girl dreaming of fame and naive to her surroundings, to quickly rising to fame and knowing how to make a stand for herself. Catherine Zeta-Jones is equally as stunning to watch, and Queen Latifah has her own raunchy number which I loved. Literally, I am struggling to form actual sentences here, because I enjoyed it so much. I guess in a way, none of these characters are likable, but they’re so much fun to watch.

I guess the only thing that stops me from giving Chicago full marks is that a lot of the songs, whilst fun at the time, aren’t catchy enough to stick in my memory. I can sing (badly) perhaps 5 to you from memory but there were so many more! Who knows, maybe a few plays of the soundtrack on my way to work will fix that for me.

chicago-movie-2002-catherine-zeta-jones

Best Bit: Cell Block Tango. It was the only song I’d actually heard of before watching it and oh boy it did not disappoint. Even my husband at one point turned around from his computer screen to sing ‘HE HAD IT COMING’. Song wise, that was my favourite, but We Both Reached For The Gun was visually the best, with the way that Roxie was a puppet and the media were all on strings. It was so clever.

Worst Bit: I’m equal parts gutted for and annoyed by Roxie’s husband. On one part, I just feel desperately sorry for him, he loved Roxie with every ounce of his being and she couldn’t care less. On the other hand, how bloody naive could he be? I wanted to shake him, and then hug him.

Fun Trivia: In the beginning of the scene introducing Mama Morton to the new inmates, Roxie Hart had a brief conversation with a woman smoking a cigarette. That character was played by long-time Broadway actress Chita Rivera who portrayed Velma Kelly in the original 1975 production of “Chicago”.

My Rating: 4 and a half tap dancing shoes which took Richard Gere 3 months to master the use of, according to IMDB!

chicago-richard-gere-tap-dancing

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

Thursday Movie Picks: Scientists

There are so many Thursday Movie Picks themes that I end up skipping because I can’t think of enough movies I’ve even seen to fit – let alone 3 great choices that I can recommend. That is, until Thursday rolls around, I read everyone else’s posts and realise that I’ve watched more than I thought…and then kick myself for not picking them myself!

I almost did the same with this week’s theme of Scientists. Then I made myself sit down and think, and lo and behold, I have a list as long as my arm! I’ve whittled that down to 3 choices with a slight mini-theme. These 3 movies are ones that I really enjoyed, but something stopped them from being amazing.

movie-picks-scientists-annihilation-2018

Annihilation (2018)

A mysterious, creepy movie with a stellar female cast and Oscar Isaac? I mean, this movie couldn’t be awful if it tried. Annihilation made a lot of ‘Best of 2018’ lists, and rightly so, to be honest. The scene with that bear creature mimicking the scream was downright terrifying and a moment I’ll never forget, but the movie lost me at the end. I love a weird ending but this one was just too much.

movie-picks-scientists-downsizing-2017

 

Downsizing (2017)

I’m still so gutted about how much potential Downsizing wasted. A future world where humans can be shrunk in order to save the planet, and all the fiscal and political issues that arise as a result? This could have been a smashing TV series, but it doesn’t work at all as a movie. Too much plot got packed in with not enough time, and a lot of threads just lead nowhere. I love the idea of it all though, and I hope the story gets picked up and done better sometime.

movie-picks-scientists-cure-for-wellness-2016

A Cure for Wellness (2016)

I feel like in the run-up to this movie’s release, there was so much hype, and then…the movie came out, and no one made a fuss. I didn’t even see it in the cinema, but I’m glad I still watched it. It’s long, but it’s got the creep and mystery factor that keep you going. I shamefully can’t even remember the ending, but I know it was one that you either loved or hated.