Movie Reviews

True Lies (1994) – Film & Wine Club

So, you probably know already that it’snot just me in my family that enjoys movies – my parents and brothers do too! Whilst on holiday last month me and my parents got talking about some of our favourite movies, movies that we would call classics. Not classics by the standard definition, just movies that we enjoyed so much we wished everyone would watch them! I haven’t watched many movies at all pre-2000, and my Mum & Dad can reel off loads of older movies that they love that I haven’t seen yet. Then on the other hand, I’ve seen some amazing modern movies that wouldn’t necessarily be their ‘type’, but I’m certain they would enjoy.

So our film club was born! We each wrote down 3 movies and put them in a hat, with the aim of meeting regularly to pick a movie from the hat and watch it together. As a bonus, whoever’s movie choice was picked is in charge of picking a nice bottle of red wine to share. I won’t share my 3 picks with you because I know they read here from time to time, so it’ll have to be a surprise for you, too.

The first pick was True Lies (1994), one of my Mum’s favourite action movies!

true-lies-movie-review-1994-posterDirector: James Cameron

Genre: Acton, Comedy, Thriller

Runtime: 141 Minutes

Main Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrare, Art Malik, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov, Marshall Manesh, Charlton Heston

Plot: Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a spy for a secret government organisation. For years he’s hidden his real job from his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), who thinks he’s a salesman. Harry and Helen are happily married, but Harry’s real job comes with a lot of unexpected, sudden overtime, and as a result he doesn’t spend a lot of time at home. When he turns up at Helen’s work one day to surprise her, he suspects she may be having an affair.

My Thoughts:  True Lies is absurd in every single way. It’s based on a generic, terrorist/spy plot and showcases some of the most farcical action sequences I’ve ever seen. BUT. It’s fantastic. There, I said it. I pretty much loved every minute of it. We all agreed that if it were remade today (although mostly impossible, as a lot of the content wouldn’t be acceptable these days) that Dwayne Johnson would be playing the lead. It’s that kind of movie, silly, but you know what to expect and it delivers.

I haven’t seen much of Schwarzenegger outside of the Terminator franchise but I really enjoyed him in this role. It’s similar in a lot of ways to his character in Jingle All the Way. He’s clearly believable in the action hero role but he’s got a clear talent for comedy too. The ‘death stare’ that he does was a joke that was never going to get old for me! Jamie Lee Curtis, though. Phew! It’s an actual crime how few movies of hers that I’ve seen but I can only imagine that the hotel room scene in True Lies was hugely popular at the time? She’s incredible. I wish we could all chuck some vase water over our heads and somehow look that great.

I’m starting to realise that the 90’s was the decade of great action movies. I’m sure my Mum has a few other suggestions up her sleeve but I’d love to know what your favourite 90’s action movie is? I’m a convert for sure. After the movie finished we video-called my husband so he could pick the next movie out of the hat for us, and it was one of my choices! It was Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and I can’t WAIT to see it again.

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Best Bit: So many great moments to choose from, but it has to be the motorbike/horse chase scene. It was just so ludicrous. I mean, the chase on the streets was crazy enough but then they went into the hotel and we all laughed. Then they got into the lifts and we laughed even harder. THEN the scene on the roof? My sides actually hurt a little bit. That must have been such a great experience at the cinema!

Worst Bit: I’m going to have to turn to something my Mum mentioned for this section. We were chatting about the movie afterwards and she said how hilariously unlike Schwarzenegger his stunt double was. Hand on heart, I didn’t notice but she said it was glaringly obvious!

Fun Trivia: The appearance and traits of Spencer Trilby (Charlton Heston) is based on Nick Fury, a Marvel Comics character. Like Fury, Trilby has an eyepatch, and the same mannerisms; as well as heading a peacekeeping organization. At one point, Cameron wanted to be a comic book penciller, and does a lot of his own concept art. He even designed the entire T-800 endoskeleton.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 helicopters – are you even shooting a ridiculous action scene without one?

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Movie Reviews

The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)

the-mitchells-vs-machines-movie-reviewDirector: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Animation

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend

Plot: Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) can’t wait to start college. Movies are her life but her parents, especially her Dad, just don’t understand her passion. In a last-ditch attempt to re-connect with his daughter, Rick Mitchell (Danny McBride) decides to cancel Katie’s flight and instead embark an a family road-trip – right in the middle of a robot apocalypse.

My Thoughts: How long has it been since the trailer for this was first released? It must be what, 2 years ago now? Back then it was called Connected, and I’ll try my hardest not to rant too much about the name change. When Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are in charge of production, you know you’re in for a fantastic animated movie, and The Mitchells vs. the Machines certainly isn’t breaking that trend. It’s a wonderful comedy all about family relationships in this modern, technology-filled world. The greatest family movies have something for all ages to enjoy, and this fits the bill perfectly.

Family road-trip comedies aren’t rare. Neither are movies about technology becoming too smart and taking over. On paper, this movie shouldn’t be so good. But then, neither should Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and that’s now arguably the world’s favourite Spider-Man movie! The Mitchells vs. the Machines doesn’t try to reinvent anything, it just takes a simple plot and injects just the right amount of heart, laughs and action. I can’t even explain it, I’ve been trying to write this review on and off all day!

It probably helps that the main character, Katie, is a huge film buff so as movie fans it’s so easy for us to relate to her. We’ve all been through that phase where we thought our parents didn’t understand us too, right? I can sympathise with that. But now that I’m a parent? I can see things from a whole new perspective! It was quite endearing to watch the horror on my husband’s face as he realised there might be a day where our little girl doesn’t idolise him anymore.

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Best Bit: I can’t pick between two moments. The first being the most obvious, it was the joke in the original trailer that’s repeated several times in the movie itself. That dog! Dog, pig, dog, pig, dog, pig, LOAF OF BREAD! It makes me laugh just thinking about it. The second was the Furby scene. Oh, to have been in the cinema for that gigantic Furby and the subtitle, “LET THE DARK HARVEST BEGIN”. It was the funniest, most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen!

Worst Bit: Okay, I’m sorry but I’m going to rant. Apparently, the original title was always The Mitchell’s vs. the Machines. But Sony chose Connected – and that’s the perfect title! It makes me think of technology, and how we’re glued to it. But it also makes me think of family connecting. It’s short and snappy and so easy to remember. I can’t for the life of me remember the final title! Half the time I can’t remember the family name and even if I do, my brain instantly goes ‘The Mitchells Against the Machines’ and I just get irrationally annoyed by these things, okay?

Fun Trivia: Katie has a “Mt. Rushmore of Director Heroes” including Greta Gerwig, Céline Sciamma, Lynne Ramsay and Hal Ashby.

My Rating: A full 5 out of 5 creepy Furbys (Furbies? What’s plural for Furby?!) that I hope don’t make a come back, because my daughter will want one and I don’t know how to say no to her.

mitchells-vs-machines-furby

Movie Reviews · TV Shows

What I Watched: April 2021

Well hello there May! Can someone remind the British weather that it is in fact, May? There are exciting times ahead. Cinemas are going to be given the green light to open on the 17th, and indoor entertainment and hospitality opens up, too. I can’t WAIT. I don’t even like popcorn that much but on that Monday I’m buying the biggest bucket of popcorn that the cinema sells. I’ll watch anything, and everything! I’m not taking anything for granted ever again.

Let’s move onto movies before I make myself emotional. A week’s holiday slowed my movie watching down (not that I minded in the slightest!) but I still saw some great things in April. Here they are!

what-i-watched-the-father-2020

The Father (2020) – I tried to write a full review of this, it’s still sat in my drafts now. I just couldn’t put my muddled thoughts into actual words though. Just know that it really is as good as you’ve heard. The Academy might have royally screwed up on that fateful night, but Anthony Hopkins fully deserves that award. There are plenty of movies out there that give a perspective of what living with memory loss, but none quite like this.

what-i-watched-godzilla-kong-2021

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) – This kind of movie should only be watched on the big screen, but I’d rather have watched it at home than not at all. I’m not a huge fan of these monster movies but they’re fun, and Godzilla vs. Kong kept the lame, human side of the story to a minimum which was a choice that worked well.

what-i-watched-chaos-walking-2021

Chaos Walking (2021) – I’m a bit gutted that I didn’t love Chaos Walking, it had so much going for it. I loved the idea of only men’s thoughts being projected, visible and audible for all to hear – but not women’s. It felt like there was a huge mystery and a cover up that was right around the corner, but it never really came to fruition. It was enough to make me want to read the book that the movie is based on though, so that’s something.

what-i-watched-mank-2020

Mank (2020) – I always make an effort to watch all the major awards movies, and I did so gladly this year, other than Mank. I love David Fincher as a director but not even his name could make me excited for this movie. I tried really hard, but I only made it to the 20-minute mark before I gave up, This just isn’t the movie for me.

Thunder Force (2021)Full Review

Nobody (2021)Full Review

what-i-watched-netflix-documentary

Why Did You Kill Me? (2021) – I don’t talk a lot about documentaries, mainly because I watch so few, but also because I don’t really know how to rate them. This one was an interesting find on Netflix about how social media and cat-fishing was used to track down a murderer.

what-i-watched-stowaway-2021

Stowaway (2021) – This one just snuck it’s way really quietly onto Netflix one day, didn’t it?! A really interesting sci-fi drama set in space, demonstrating that terrible decision where sacrificing one life could save many more. I didn’t like the ending at all, but it certainly didn’t taint the rest of the movie for me.

what-i-watched-13-going-30

13 Going on 30 (2004) – I’ve just realised I was heavily dependent on Netflix in April! So, you might have heard of this new Netflix feature that’s designed to stop you from spending hours trying to decide what to watch. You just press a button, and Netflix does the choosing for you. Well, I tried it, and it chose 13 Going on 30 for me. Hmm. I mean, the dance sequence to Thriller made it all worthwhile, but at the same time…I haven’t pressed that button since.

what-i-watched-housebound-2014

Housebound (2014) – I’m annoyed that I’m so behind on reviews right now, because I really want to write one for this. I’ve a new found appreciation and love for New Zealand cinema. Their sense of humour resonates so clearly with me! If you enjoyed What We Do in the Shadows, you’re going to love Housebound.

what-i-watched-stay-2005

Stay (2005) – Last week I ticked a couple of movies off my watch list that had been there for so long I forgot who recommended them and why. Stay was one of those! I love dark, twisty movies so that’s why, and that’s exactly what Stay was! Starring a very young Ewan McGregor and Ryan Gosling – I didn’t have enough concentration to fully appreciate it but it’s worth a watch for sure as long as you’re wide awake and alert!

I also watched Fahrenheit 451 (2018), Fruitvale Station (2013) and Creed II (2018) as part of Mettel Ray‘s Hidden Gems Challenge, and you can find my Michael B. Jordan post here.

TV wise, I finished watching The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The final 2 episodes were much stronger than the middle 2 episodes, and I was satisfied with the ending. Sam is going to be a great Captain America! I didn’t love it in the same way I loved Wandavision, I wasn’t interested in the Flag Smashers’ story. I’m hugely excited to see what’s on the horizon for John Walker. Next month brings Loki, the Marvel show I’ve been looking forward to the most!

I also watched The Flight Attendant, a show I’ve been meaning to see for ages. I’ve been a fan of Kaley Cuoco ever since 8 Simple Rules so I was over the moon for her to land a big role like this, and I hope the show’s success leads to bigger and better roles for her. I enjoyed the mystery behind this show, it kept every one of the eight episodes full of tension!

This week I decided to get on board with a show before the hype is already over – I’ve started Mare of Easttown! The first episode threw WAY too many characters at me (typical HBO) but I’ve just finished watching the second episode and it all makes more sense now.

What have you all enjoyed in April?

Lists · Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Michael B. Jordan

With the outdoors opening up and a week’s holiday to the coast, I haven’t watched as many movies as I usually do which led to a Michael B. Jordan crammed week in order to get my hidden gems post in this month! If you aren’t familiar with the Hidden Gems Challenge, it was started by Mettel Ray and you can find her original post here. Her pick for April is Keira Knightley and I can’t wait to see what she watched! Ii think Keira Knightley is a really underrated actress but there’s definitely a lot of her movies that I haven’t seen yet. But enough about Keira – let’s talk Michael B. Jordan!

Why Michael B. Jordan?

Well, he was voted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man in 2020, a title I’m certainly not going to argue about! But also, I can’t think of a single movie of his that I haven’t enjoyed (with the exception of Fantastic Four, but we can’t blame Jordan for that), and so there’s bound to be even more out there just waiting for me to watch! Jordan has a host of smaller awards already, but I definitely feel like an Oscar-worthy role is right around the corner for him.

Statistics

Letterboxd has 34 movies listed under Michael B. Jordan’s name. I took out shorts, documentaries, and unreleased projects which left me with 20. Before the challenge I’d seen 7 of those, not a lot but a decent percentage! Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include Hardball, Black Panther and Creed.

I’ve also seen Chronicle, Just Mercy, Fantastic Four, and That Awkward Moment.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Michael B. Jordan played a main role, and so my choices ended up being Fahrenheit 451, Fruitvale Station and Creed II.

Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

farenheit-451-michael-b-jordan

Based on a novel by Ray Bradbury, published in the 1950’s, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian world where books are illegal and firefighters start fires rather than putting them out. I’d heard that the book is great but the modern movie adaptation was terrible. Buuut the combo of Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon was too intriguing to pass up, so this was my first stop.

It’s not a great movie, but it wasn’t the train wreck I was expecting, that’s for sure. I loved the use of future technology that I imagine is one step further than the source material, and although it left me with a ton of unanswered questions, it didn’t put me off, and as a result I’m actually currently reading the novel in the hopes of getting the answers I’m looking for. Like, if the firefighters aren’t putting out fires, who is?!

Fruitvale Station (2013)

fruitvale-station-michael-b-jordan

Fruitvale Station is based on a true story – the event that took place in the early hours of New Year’s Day at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California, where young Afro-American Oscar Grant was shot by a cop and later died in hospital. I knew this wouldn’t be an easy watch but it’s with regret that I admit I knew nothing about the event, and so it seemed the perfect opportunity to educate myself on this tragic event and also explore one of Michael B. Jordan’s more serious roles. It also stars Octavia Spencer, who just so happens to be another of my choices for the Hidden Gems challenge!

This is a powerful and deeply emotional movie. It opens with real life footage captured by passengers on the train at the station, then goes back in time to explore Oscar’s life, before ending at that tragic night. Oscar isn’t portrayed as a perfect person – he was a real guy who made some bad decisions in his past but was a fantastic father, a loving son and a caring individual. The climatic scene is brutal, unflinching and upsetting to watch, and I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that it’s a movie based on a real event, or the fact that 12 years later murders like this are still a regular occurrence. What is it going to take for this to end?!

Creed II (2018)

creed-ii-michael-b-jordan

I don’t know what stopped me from watching Creed II, I really enjoyed the first one. I think it was released not long after I became a Mum and stopped going to the cinema for a few months, and it just slipped off my radar. Anyway – Creed II follows on from the events of the first movie, but this time, the son of the boxer that caused Adonis Creed’s father’s death is on the scene and challenging the recently crowned world champion to a match. Rocky urges Adonis to turn him down, but this is personal.

I really need to make an effort to watch the other Rocky movies (I’ve only seen the first) because there’s something about these characters that I just adore. I’m not a boxing fan in the least but from what I’ve seen so far, these movies are so much more than the sport. I thought Creed II lacked some of the personal relationships that the first one did so well, but that final fight was so dramatic I could feel myself tense up and actually stop breathing. I’ll be in the cinema for Creed III – that’s a promise!

Final Thoughts

April has been a great month! Or perhaps I should say, the final week in April has been great! As that’s when I squeezed all three of my picks in. Fruitvale Station is without a doubt a hidden gem, and Creed II is very close to being one. Also, I already mentioned that I was so interested in Mettel Ray‘s challenge because I’d tried and failed to do the Blind Spot challenge at least 3 times. Well, I’ve stuck out this challenge for longer than my other attempts and I’m seeing no signs of stopping before the year is out! Next month is dedicated to Margot Robbie, so wish me luck in my picks!

Book Reviews

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

I don’t read a lot of books, and when I do read, I like to explore a range of genres and authors so it’s rare for me to explore an author’s work past 1 novel. However, Liane Moriarty is the brains behind Big Little Lies, the book that went on to become a hugely successful TV show. I’m yet to watch season 2 (so little time!) but I was completely sucked into the mystery of season 1 so it’s definitely on the to-do list. I’ve also read Truly Madly Guilty, another of Moriarty’s novels. Whilst I didn’t love it, I could appreciate the author’s talent for spinning and unraveling a mystery so I knew I wanted to read more.

Although it isn’t one of her more recent books, I ended up choosing The Husband’s Secret. It’s been in my Goodreads list for a while now and seems to be one of the best rated books in Moriarty’s collection. 550,000 reviewers can’t be wrong, surely? The Husband’s Secret starts with introducing a host of characters, who all seem vastly different to begin with, but whose stories merge as the book goes on.

Cecilia lives a seemingly perfect life, great husband, great kids, successful business, beautiful house. Until she comes across a letter, written by her husband, addressed to her to read in the event of his death. She doesn’t open it – but when she mentions the letter to her husband, his reaction isn’t what she was expecting.

I feel like I shouldn’t really tell you much more, because there are lots of twists along the way and I might accidentally reveal things without meaning to. Just know that I highly recommend it! My biggest issue with Truly Madly Guilty was that there was clearly a big reveal that was building up, so much so that when the cat is finally out of the bag, it feels quite anti-climatic. This isn’t the case with The Husband’s Secret. I didn’t see the twist coming, so I was shocked but not actually surprised. However – that moment is just the start, and the drama kicks up a storm after that point.

I’m being really cryptic, aren’t I? It’s so tough to discuss stories like this without giving things away! Just know that if you’re a fan of the genre, this is one you’ll want to read.