Movie Reviews

Fargo (1996) – Film & Wine Club

fargo-movie-review-1996-posterDirector: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 98 Minutes

Main Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Kristin Rudrüd, Harve Presnell, Tony Denman, Steve Reevis, Larry Brandenburg

Plot: Jerry Lundegaard is in a lot of financial trouble and is running out of options. Asking his wealthy father in law is out of the question so he hires two henchmen to kidnap his wife, with the aim of targeting her father for a hefty ransom fee.

My Thoughts: Mine and my parents’ Film & Wine Club had to take an extended break thanks to a COVID-related false alarm and a holiday (not mine) but we’re back watching great movies, eating tasty snacks and drinking fine red wine. Last week was one of my picks, the classic crime-gone-wrong movie Fargo. I first watched it years ago just before the TV series started, but here’s something strange. I remember loving it, hence me picking it for the club but I went back to my old blog to find my review in case I’d written anything smart or funny I could shamelessly reuse (I hadn’t) and I only gave it a 7/10. I guess it grew on me with time!

Fargo is just such a crazy story, it’s really hard not to enjoy it. From the conception of this awful idea of Jerry’s to him trying to cancel the whole thing, to the string of bodies left in the wake, it’s a wild ride from start to finish. We have no idea whether to feel sorry for Jerry or to hate him, and then there’s Marge (Frances McDormand), my favourite cop ever, possibly. Anything you can do, Marge can do better. Whilst heavily pregnant.

It’s the dark humour that does it for me most of all. When else can you laugh about such tragic events and have it not feel strange to feel that way? Steve Buscemi plays the character that brings the most laughs, I think. Him forever bickering with his partner in crime who barely says a word, driving through a car park as fast as possible holding his wounded face that’s bleeding everywhere, and finally being far too greedy for his own good, he just plays a really interesting character! Definitely a movie you have to watch if you haven’t already.

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Best Bit: Let’s face it, is it possible to watch this movie without endearingly using the word ‘yah’ in excess afterwards? Because it wasn’t for us, and I just love the Minnesotan accent.

Worst Bit: It bugged me the first time, and it bugged me the second time too, I’m just not a fan of the dinner scene with Marge and Mike. I get that it served a purpose to show us how Marge thinks, but it’s the only scene that feels out of place in my opinion.

Fun Trivia: When Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) character calls Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) for the deal to be done, he tells him, “Thirty minutes, and we’ll wrap this up.” From that moment, the film’s running time left is exactly 30 minutes.

My Rating: 4 and a half wood chippers, that you’d be surprised to learn can shred a lot more than wood…

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I should point out that I’m a little behind on my Film & Wine Club posts, we’ve already watched another of my picks, The Nice Guys (2016) AND picked the next movie out of the hat which also happened to be another of my picks! It was Little Miss Sunshine (2006).

Movie Reviews

Malignant (2021)

malignant-movie-review-poster-2021Director: James Wan

Genre: Horror, Crime, Action

Runtime: 111 Minutes

Main Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Mckenna Grace, Jean Louisa Kelly, Jacqueline McKenzie, Jake Abel

Plot: After suffering a traumatic experience, Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is haunted by shocking and gruesome visions of murders being committed. Things go from bad to worse when she realises that these visions are actual real.

My Thoughts: Malignant might be one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. I knew next to nothing going into the cinema, and that’s how I recommend everyone experience this movie. I won’t talk about spoilers here but I urge you to not seek them out if you’re thinking of watching it yourself. I’d seen trailers at the cinema but mostly tried not to look because I hate jump scares, but Twitter couldn’t shut up about how good it was so I had to find out for myself. Yes, there’s jump scares and yes, I spent a lot of time studying the fire exit sign when things got too tense but I also had an absolute blast!

Have you ever been to a theme park and gone on one of the big, themed rollercoasters or rides, where in the queue you get loud music and a cheesy intro video? That’s what vibe Malignant has. At face value, the acting seems terrible and the script feels lazy, but I realised early on that it was all intentional. If you’re looking for a smart, compact story then this isn’t the movie for you. But if you like the sound of gory murder scenes, and crazy plot twists then like me, you’re going to really enjoy Malignant.

You have to wait a while for it all to pay off, I’d say at least the first 30 minutes were pure, generic modern horror movie scenes, but once the seed of the mystery is planted in your mind it’s really hard to focus on anything else. There are some twists you’ll guess straight away but others that will shock you for sure. Was Malignant enough to convince me to dive into the Conjuring movies? Absolutely not. However, I think I’m in deep enough now that I can stop throwing around the phrase ‘I’m not into horror movies’.

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Best Bit: This is easy. The moment it gets revealed it just gory, gloriousness. I guess you could call it ‘gore-ious’! Copywrited that word now, sorry. It’s daft and it’s silly but it’s gross and just the right portions of horrifying and hilarious. Being in a crowed cinema room would be great, but I went early and it was quiet.

Worst Bit: I’m quite good at knowing when a jump scare is close, and that’s when I let my eyes drift away from the screen so ease the tension. There was still one scare that took me by surprise though and what made it worse is that I’m pretty sure it was in the trailer, too!

Fun Trivia: The Seattle Underground is a real tour open to the public. (Yeah, no thanks!)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 toy telephones that I’ll be making doubly sure my daughter neither owns nor plays with after this movie.

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Lists · TV Shows

Top 5 Friday: David Rose’s Sweaters from Schitt’s Creek

It’s almost officially Autumn, and whilst I’ve been waiting for the weather to get a bit cooler (it’s being nicely warm still, right now) I’ve got sweaters on my mind. Is there anything better than the season of hot drinks and comfy clothes? Now, I love Knives Out Chris Evans in a chunky knit sweater just as much as the rest of the internet, but for me there’s only one king of long-sleeved goodness, and that’s David Rose from Schitt’s Creek.

This list is something I’ve wanted to do for probably about a year, ever since I finished watching the show (and then watched the whole thing again straight after) but now is as good a time as any, right? So here it is, my Top 5 of David Rose’s Sweaters.

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#5 Leopard Print: You just can’t go wrong with leopard print, it’s a classic.

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#4 Flames: I think this was the most colourful thing David ever wore, and it was for such a cute episode.

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#3 Fair Isle Knit: This one screams festive season to me, which is the best time of the year.

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#2 Monochrome Tie Dye: I love all things tie dye, and this is no exception.

david-rose-best-outfits-lighting-bolts

#1 Lighting Bolts: This is David’s most iconic look, in my eyes. I love this design SO much and a year later, I’m still trying to find somewhere in the UK to buy it for myself.

Book Reviews

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Considering the fact I don’t read that many books in the space of a year, I try to make an effort to read from a variety of genres, as well as authors. However, after I read Malibu Rising and loved every page, I couldn’t turn away from author Taylor Jenkins Reid straight away. I’d already heard about another book of hers, Daisy Jones and the Six, but the book I saw a lot of hype about was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. At face value, it didn’t seem like something I would find that interesting, which in actual fact made me want to read it all the more. How better to find out if I love the author’s style of writing so much?

Evelyn Hugo was a huge name in Hollywood, most well-known for her looks and her string of relationships. But now she’s nearing 80, and she’s ready to tell her story. That’s the gist of the entire book. Evelyn offers the book to the young and career-hungry Monique who jumps at the chance for such an exclusive opportunity. But Monique could never be ready for the truth behind Evelyn’s life.

I think it’s safe to say I have a new favourite author. I don’t know how Taylor Jenkins Reid does it, but I think she could write about paint drying on a wall and I would still be excited about it. She just has a way of writing that I find exciting, and it leads to books that I just can’t put down. Evelyn’s story is fascinating, and she’s a really complex character. She isn’t a good person, but it’s somehow easy to find sympathy for the things she had to go through and the truths she had to hide, whilst also condemning her for the terrible decisions she made.

Throughout the book there’s one glaring question begging to be answered which is, why did Evelyn choose Monique to tell this story? The link isn’t clear at all, and it isn’t until the very end that it’s revealed. In any other book this would have frustrated me no end and it would have felt anti-climatic, but not this time. I was desperate to know, of course, but I was so swept up in the events on the pages that I was more than happy to wait.

So this won’t be the last Taylor Jenkins Reid novel that I read, but I do need to give a couple of other books a read first. Has anyone else read her books? Would you recommend I look at Daisy Jones and the Six next?

Movie Reviews

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021)

escape-room-tournament-champions-movie-reviewDirector: Adam Robitel

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Horror

Runtime: 88 Minutes

Main Cast: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Isabelle Fuhrman, James Frain, Indya Moore, Thomas Cocquerel, Holland Roden, Carlito Olivero

Plot: Following the events of the original movie, Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) travel to New York with the aim of exposing the terrible deeds of the mysterious company known as Minos. They find themselves caught in yet another escape room, and the fight for their lives begins once again.

My Thoughts: It is a CRIME that I missed both Escape Room movies at the cinema. The first one because I wrongly assumed it was pure horror (at the time I was avoiding horror) and the sequel because the only showing of it at my cinema was at like, 10pm and…that’s my bedtime. Rock and roll, me. When I eventually gave the original a chance, I loved it, for all it’s goofiness and dumbness. If you enjoy puzzles and/or if you’ve ever done an escape room yourself, it’s really hard to not find something to enjoy. The one thing I really hated was how it ended, I wanted it to stay a stand-alone movie but now? I’ve changed my mind.

Not every movie has to be considered for multiple awards. Some of them can exist just for enjoyment, mediocre movies that are simply fun to watch and let you forget about the real world for a while. I can see now that this is going to be a franchise that carries on for a few years at least. I’m happy with that for the meantime, now. These escape rooms are crazy, deadly without being gory (apart from that opening scene) and just about smart enough that you won’t figure them out too soon before the characters do.

I realise that within the space of 2 days I’ve hated on the classic Casablanca whilst also singing the praises of dumb movies, but you should come to expect that from me now. There’s a reason this is a hobby and not a job for me, ha! I’m sure the third installment will be worse, but in my honest opinion, the Escape Room sequel was actually better than the original.

escape-room-sequel-bank-room-lasers-puzzle

Best Bit: I’m struggling to decide on my favourite room. I think overall, the bank was the best one for the sheer number of puzzles it contained, but the acid rain in the city room was intense! I actually felt my whole body tense up for that.

Worst Bit: I wish I was at the cinema for the moment a character uttered a line along the lines of “What is this? A tournament of champions?” so I could have groaned aloud. But other than that, have these characters not learned yet that the rooms are designed to kill someone off each time and going back to save someone destined for their doom is a really bad idea?!

Fun Trivia: The Escape Room Company got its name after the mythological king Minos. Minos had Daedalus create a labyrinth in which the Minotaur would dwell. Seven boys and seven girls were given to the monster to be eaten every nine years.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 umbrellas that aren’t going to be of much use if you happen to find yourself caught in an acid downpour…

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