Noelle (2019)

noelle-disney-christmas-movie-2019-posterDirector: Marc Lawrence

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Shirley MacLaine, Chelah Horsdal, Andy Nez, Billy Eichner, Julie Hagerty, Maceo Smedley, Kingsley Ben-Adir

Plot: Nick and Noelle’s father has passed away, leaving Nick to take on his role of Santa Claus. Nick struggles with the pressure however, and after Noelle suggests he takes a weekend away to de-stress, Christmas itself is in jeopardy when he fails to return.

My Thoughts: Christmas has well and truly landed in my house, our tree is up, mince pies are readily available, and I’m consuming as many festive movies as I can! There’s no way I was going to skip Noelle. It combines my favourite time of year and one of my favourite actresses. And! It’s a Disney movie! Can I really ask for anything more? It draws a few comparisons with Elf (2003) for its ‘fish out of water’ vibe, and whilst it’s nowhere near as good, there’s still a lot to like.

What is there to like, you ask? How about the cutest outfits December can buy, an adorable baby reindeer called Snowcone, and Bill Hader leading a festive yoga class? If that’s not enough for you then bah, humbug. Billy Eichner is back, you might know him better as the voice behind Timon in the Lion King remake. I wish he was given a little more free rein, though. I was hoping he would have a hissy fit like he did in Parks & Rec but his character was much more restrained.

For me, a Christmas movie needs to do 3 things. It needs to make me laugh, which this did many a time, even if they were groan-laughs at terrible puns. It needs to make me feel festive, which it did, mainly in the form of outfit envy over Anna Kendrick’s elf getup. Finally, it needs to be so darn sweet it makes me cry and goddamnit did Noelle make me cry. The scenes at the children’s shelter made me sob like a baby.

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Best Bit: I couldn’t even list all of the puns but they are relentless and I love it. Also, the candy cane gavel joke never got old. I also kind of want one.

Worst Bit: This was almost my Best Bit instead because the CGI reindeer at the shopping village were SO TERRIBLE it was actually hilarious. The people in the background weren’t even looking at them in some scenes. Totally took me out of the movie but for funny reasons. Like, that CGI would have looked bad 15 years ago. That’s how much it stood out.

Fun Trivia: In the scene at the store where Noelle is in the freezer, you can see a Disney Duffy doll behind her, and just after that, a guest is seen purchasing a Shellie May doll.

My Rating: 3 and a half iPads which seemingly everyone in this movie wanted for Christmas. To be honest Santa, I wouldn’t say no if you’re offering…

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Thursday Movie Picks: Adaptations

I refuse to believe it’s Thursday already, mainly because it isn’t – I’m just organised for a change and have all my posts this week written in advance! Anyway, another Thursday means another of Wandering Through the Shelves’Thursday Movie Picks. This week’s theme is Adaptations. Basically, movies that have been adapted from other works. There are so many to pick from I’ve decided to go with a theme within the theme.

It’s been a very festive week so far and so all of my picks this week are Christmas movies adapted from books! And yes, my #3 choice is a Christmas movie, don’t you try and tell me otherwise.

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It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

My local cinema had a showing of this a few years back that me and the family went to go and see. I’d never watched it before and although I really enjoyed it, it’s a tough movie to put into my annual movie rotation for December. It’s based on a short story called The Greatest Gift, by Philip Van Doren Stern. Apparently the Director Frank Capra read the story and bought the film rights straight away. The names of all the characters were changed for the movie.

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The Polar Express (2004)

It feels to me like The Polar Express is only a few years old, and yet I’ve watched it so many years in a row it almost feels like it’s always been around. Almost 20 years before the movie’s release, The Polar Express was a children’s book written by Chris Van Allsburg. By 1989, the year I was born, it had sold a million copies!

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Die Hard (1988)

Is there ever going to be a year where we aren’t arguing about whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie? Probably not, but if you’ve watched the movie so many times you can’t bear it any longer, perhaps you might want to read the book it was based on, Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. Just to confuse you as well, Nothing Lasts Forever is a sequel to The Detective, which also got an adaptation in 1966 starring Frank Sinatra!

Frozen II (2019)

frozen-2-movie-poster-review-2019Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Musical

Runtime: 103 Minutes

Main Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter

Plot: Since the events of Frozen (2013), the city of Arendelle is peaceful. That is, until Elsa begins hearing a strange sound calling her to en enchanted forest surrounded by fog. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, the group travel into the unknown.

My Thoughts: I didn’t actually want to write a review for Frozen II to begin with, because as much as I loved it, all I find myself talking about is the bits I didn’t like, and I knew anything I wrote would become a whinge fest. So I want to push out all these positives first. Yes, I was really looking forward to it. Yes, I had an absolute blast watching it! But I didn’t love it as much as the original, and without trying to sound like a hipster, I loved the original before the hype took off.

It largely comes down to two things. The songs were nowhere near as good as the first. I may have had 6 years to listen to the original soundtrack compared with a week for the sequel, but with the exception of Lost In The Woods none of the other songs stuck with me. Elsa gets two powerful numbers this time around but neither are Let It Go. Olaf gets another song of his own showcasing his hilarious naivety, but it’s not as catchy as In Summer. My other gripe is with Anna. She’s my favourite character, and I was really hoping she would get the chance to shine this time around, but her only purpose was to follow Elsa around and beg her to do everything together.

See – I told you I was going to sound negative! It’s still a brilliant movie, though. The plot is more complex and it’s a much more mature story, which is perfect because those little kids who fell in love with the original are teenagers now. My littlest brother sang Olaf’s song in a talent competition when he was 11 years old – and now he’s too cool to even watch Frozen II!

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Best Bit: As much as I loved Kristoff’s cheesy musical number, nothing at all beats Olaf explaining the plot of the original movie. In fact, I would quite happily watch an Olaf recap of any sequel movie, ever. Disney – can you get Josh Gad on the case of summing up The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi for us?

Worst Bit: I saw what you were trying to do, Disney. You know how much we love that snowman and you wanted to make us cry. But nothing will be sadder than “some people are worth melting for” and so my eyes stayed dryer than the desert that John Wick had to trek through.

Fun Trivia: Exactly like its predecessor Frozen (2013), the final line of the film is Elsa asking “Are you ready?”

My Rating: 3 and a half Oscars that Lost In The Woods deserves for Best Original Song in February!

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Knives Out (2019)

knives-out-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Rian Johnson

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 130 Minutes

Main Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford

Plot: In the morning following his birthday, Harlan Thrombey is found dead. The police have ruled the case as suicide but private detective Benoit Blanc has been annonymous hired by someone who suspects foul play. The entire family is called together before Harlan’s will is released for more questioning.

My Thoughts: My husband claims he reads all of my posts, I can guarantee he won’t read this one – he’s sick of me talking about Knives Out! I’ve been waiting for this movie for months. If you know me, you know I love a murder mystery, and I feel like Rian Johnson knew that and directed it just for me. I’ve only ever read one Agatha Christie novel (it was tough) but if you’re a fan this is definitely the movie for you.

One family, all together on one night. Several arguments happen during the party. But one was much worse than the others. One caused a family member to murder another…but who? And why? Daniel Craig is going to find out, and oh boy I hope he carries on taking these funny roles. I don’t give a monkeys about James Bond – this is the kind of role he should be taking on! I worried early on that the movie had played it’s hand far too soon, to be honest it’s still my only concern, but there are still many twists along the way.

And whilst I know my husband isn’t reading I can tell you this. He’s always annoyingly spot on when guessing secret murderers but he was wrong this time! Turns out he’s only human, after all. Mum if you’re reading, you were right! Kind of. You’ll know what I mean when you watch it yourself, but I bet you’ve already forgotten who you picked when I showed you poster, right?

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Best Bit: I have many favourite parts I can’t talk about for spoiler reasons, but the MVP of the family has to be Greatnana Wanetta. She only has like, 3 lines, but they’re glorious. She’s amazing (and terrifying) even when she doesn’t speak.
Also, I need to share some appreciation for Chris Evans in chunky knitwear ❤

Worst Bit: I panicked for a full 10 minutes when Marta threw up in that cup and then put it back in the cup holder before Benoit Blanc got into the passengers seat. I was expecting something seriously gross to happen and whilst I’m so glad it didn’t, WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT TO ME?!

Fun Trivia: The police detective heard on the television series Marta’s sister is watching is voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Billed in the film’s Credits as Detective Hardrock) Gordon-Levitt has appeared in all five of the films Rian Johnson has directed.

My Rating: 4 and a half buckets of fried chicken, because ever since Benoit Blanc was referred to as CSI KFC, I’ve been craving one.

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Girl Week 2019: Female Directors of 2019

For now the 5th year running, Dell at Dell on Movies is celebrating all things female in the movie world with his Girl Week Blogathon. Last year I decided to write a post about my favourite female directors of the year, and came to a shocking discovery that out of the 47 2018 releases I’d seen so far that year, only 4 were directed by women. FOUR. Can you believe that? It meant that instead of writing about my favourite 4 movies directed by women, I had to talk about literally the only 4 movies directed by women that I’d seen!

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So this year it seemed only right to check my stats for 2019 so far and see if there’s been any difference. At the time of writing, I’ve seen 70 of this year’s releases so far, and 8 of them have been directed by women. That’s still shockingly bad, isn’t it? 2 of those 8 are co-directed by women, too.

To be completely honest – I don’t make a concentrated effort to find female-directed movies. I’d had to look up each movie in my diary on Letterboxd because I don’t pay much attention. Next year, I think I owe it to my fellow gals to actively watch their movies!

Still, 8 gives me a big enough number to at least do a Top 5, so let’s crack on with that. Missing out on my Top 5 are:
#8 Wine Country, Directed by Amy Poehler
#7 Someone Great, Directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
#6 Little, Directed by Tina Gordon Chism

Which leave my Top 5 as:

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#5 Late Night, Directed by Nisha Ganatra

I’m of the opinion right now that Emma Thompson can actually do no wrong. Even in the most mediocre movie, her mere presence lights up the screen. I missed Late Night in the cinemas because of the luke-warm reviews but gave it a chance in the end. Whilst I didn’t love it, I still laughed a lot. There’s plenty to like here, even if it does get a little heavy on the politics at times.

Nisha Ganatra has also directed Chutney Popcorn (1999).

female-directed-movies-captain-marvel-2019

#4 Captain Marvel, Directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Bowden

It’s that time of year now where I sound like a broken record, “NO WAY was this released this year” but seriously, does Captain Marvel feel as recent as it is to anyone else? Perhaps it’s just because the trolls have been crying for over a year now. I’m well overdue a rewatch of Captain Marvel but flaws aside I really enjoyed it, and I thought Captain Marvel made a fine addition to the team in Endgame, too.

Ryan Fleck and Anna Bowden also directed Half Nelson (2006).

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#3 Always Be My Maybe, Directed by Nahnatchka Khan

2019 has to go down as the year of Keanu Reeves, right? Can we all hand-on-heart honestly say we would have watched this little Netflix gem if we didn’t know Keanu Reeves had the best cameo of all time in it? Keanu aside, whilst the movie world is flooded with lame romcoms, Always Be My Maybe is one of the good, if not great ones, and is equal parts hilarious and heart warming. Well worth a watch if you haven’t already.

Always Be My Maybe (2019) is Nahnatchka Khan’s directional debut. 

female-directed-movies-frozen-2

#2 Frozen 2, Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

I haven’t written my full post for Frozen 2 yet because it’s one of those movies that I really enjoyed, but ask me to talk about it and I can only nitpick at the parts I didn’t like. It IS good though. It has a big theme around growing up, and maturity, which is fitting really for it’s main audience who are 6 years older than they were when the original came out! Can you tell I’m completely avoiding talking about my feelings towards it? Watch this space…

Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee also directed Frozen (2013).

female-directed-movies-booksmart

#1 Booksmart, Directed by Olivia Wilde

This one sure divided opinions, huh? There’s a ‘this is the next Superbad’ camp and a ‘this is entirely overrated’ camp from what I could tell. I was never a huge fan of Superbad to be honest, but I loved Booksmart. Not all the jokes landed, but it was a perfect representation of female friendship.

Booksmart (2019) is Olivia Wilde’s directional debut.

Finally – if you don’t already follow Dell on Movies you should right that wrong straight away, keep an eye out on his blog for a Girl Week roundup next week!

Eli (2019)

eli-2019-netflix-movie-poster-review (1)Director: Ciarán Foy

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Runtime: 98 Minutes

Main Cast: Charlie Shotwell, Lili Taylor, Kelly Reilly, Max Martini, Sadie Sink, Deneen Tyler, Katia Gomez

Plot: Eli is a young boy so sick that even the air could kill him, forcing him to live inside a bubble. His parents have tracked down a doctor who claims to be able to cure him so they travel across the country to get Eli the treatment he needs.

My Thoughts: I wasn’t fussed about seeing Eli, but quite a few bloggers have mentioned it recently and although they didn’t love it, they had very mixed thoughts about the ending and that was enough for me to give it a go. Maybe my expectations were really low, but I thought it was pretty good! Far better than another of Netflix’s 2019 horror movies I watched, Wounds (2019).

The best way I can describe Eli is it’s like the lovechild of Bubble Boy and A Cure for Wellness. It’s obvious as soon as the family arrive at Dr. Horn’s huge mansion that something isn’t right. The horror element kicks in at night when Eli is woken up. He sees the ghosts of other children who were supposedly cured at the same place, and it’s basically an opportunity for jump scares. I watched most of those scenes through a blanket because I hate them!

And then we come to the ending. I already knew it was a bit of a love it or hate it ending, and I’m leaning more into the love it camp. It was unexpected, and yet there were more than a few clues along the way so it’s not like it fell off the rails or anything. All in all, I was surprised for the better, and whilst it isn’t an amazing, 5-star movie, you can find many worse ways to spend 98 minutes with Netflix at the moment.

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Best Bit: Sadie Sink! You know her best as Max from Stranger Things, and he’s one of the best parts of this movie. I can’t tell you too much about her, of course…

Worst Bit: I don’t know what’s worse, the awful excuses for human beings making fun of Eli at the start of the movie in his makeshift hazmat outfit, or Eli’s parents for doing next to nothing about defending him.

Fun Trivia: *BIG SPOILERS* After leaving the Motel, they drive pass a rural crossroads in the middle of four fields. Legend has it that Robert Johnson made a deal with the Devil at a crossroads. This alludes to the fact that they are, in some way, dealing with the Devil.

My Rating: 3 and a half mirrors, in which you can see…well I’m not sure, because I stopped watching after 3 jump scares!

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