Book Reviews

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

I don’t even want to scroll back through my posts to find out when I last read and reviewed a book. This is definitely the first book I’ve read all year. I haven’t slept well for a really long time now and I hoped that unwinding before bed with a chapter or two of a book would help. It hasn’t, but I’ve at least re-kindled some of my love for reading! This one in particular is a book I’ve been excited about for a while. It’s written by Richard Osman – a name anyone outside the UK will have probably never heard of. He’s most well known for being the creator and co-presenter of one of the UK’s most popular quiz shows, Pointless.

It’s a game which I guess is the complete opposite of Family Fortunes, in which the public has been asked to give answers to a question, but the contestants have to think of the least popular correct answer. It’s particularly fun to watch as a movie fan when one of the questions might involve say, naming cast members of Iron Man 3. (Stan Lee was a pointless answer, for the record). Anyway – Richard Osman has a great sense of humour so when I found out he’d written a novel I was intrigued.

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The Thursday Murder Club is formed of four friends who all live together in a retirement home. None of them are younger than 70 and on Thursday nights, they get together over a slice of homemade cake and attempt to solve closed murder cases. It’s always been hypothetical, until one day when one of the owners of their home, Coopers Chase, is found dead under suspicious circumstances. Together, with the assistance of 2 local detectives who very much wish the Club didn’t have such a strong hold over them, they try to crack the case.

This is very much a character driven story and thankfully the characters are really well written. These pensioners have lived a lot of life and have so much to bring to the table, and I was fascinated by their pasts. It’s just a very wholesome experience this book is, it’s like hearing a grand story straight from an elderly relative, and by the sounds of it this book is just the first in a series. I for one can’t wait to revisit Coopers Chase.

If I could pick one fault with it, and I’m really nit picking now, I got quite lost with the side characters by the end of the book. The main group I knew well, but some of the other residents mentioned I just couldn’t recall who they actually were – which could well be just my own memory letting me down, it’s not to say everyone else would struggle too! All in all, if you’re looking for a detective novel that’s warm and fun rather than cold and gritty, The Thursday Murder Club is definitely the book for you!

Movie Reviews

Pixie (2020)

pixie-2020-movie-review-posterDirector: Barnaby Thompson

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Thriller

Runtime: 98 Minutes

Main Cast: Olivia Cooke, Ben Hardy, Daryl McCormack, Alec Baldwin, Colm Meaney, Chris Walley, Dylan Moran, Sebastian de Souza

Plot: Pixie (Olivia Cooke) is on a mission to avenge her Mother’s death and flee to San Francisco to start a new life, but to do that she must first team up with a couple of guys (Ben Hardy & Daryl McCormack) to sell the drugs that were stolen from Catholic Priest gangsters.

My Thoughts: Not only was it nice to see trailers for a new movie and then actually get to watch it at the cinema without it being delayed by a year, but I got to see it a week early with my ODEON membership, hurrah! Pixie is one of those extraordinary little movies that my friends outside of the UK have probably never even heard of, but it’s a lot of fun. I can’t help but compare it to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) for a personal reason. I don’t generally like period dramas,or zombie movies, but the two combined was highly enjoyable. It’s the same for Pixie, I don’t love gangster movies and I can count the number of westerns I’ve seen on one hand, but Pixie combines the two genres and it works!

Most of you will know how it ends before it’s even really begun, my husband sure did when I got home. I told him how much I enjoyed it, he guessed how it ended, I fumed at him that he was right and how did he know and he said he’d worked it out from the trailer alone. So if you’re looking for something deep with genuine surprises this isn’t for you but if you’re happy enough to sit and enjoy the ride like I did then it’s definitely worth a watch!

Ireland is such a beautiful country, I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting once but I’d love to go again. This movie is the perfect advertisement for the lesser-known parts of the country. Plus, I don’t know about you but I could listen to the Irish accent all day long, so it was a given I think that I would enjoy Pixie. There was a couple in the room who found every joke so much funnier than the rest of us, and found every gory death much more shocking, it was really wholesome. When this COVID nonsense is over I’d love to watch a movie with them!

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Best Bit: You should never trust small town rumors. When the two lads are gushing over Pixie and get told a rumor about how she loves to take experimental photography in the bedroom, the two of them argue over who should be the one to knock on her door. There are no winners in this game except Pixie, the sooner you learn that, the better.

Worst Bit: I don’t even know if this should go under best bit or worst bit, and I might not even be correct in saying this but Alec Baldwin’s Irish accent was hilarious. The 2020 trifecta of funny accents goes to Alec Baldwin in Pixie, Robert Downey Jr. in Dolittle and Robert Pattinson in The Devil All the Time!

Fun Trivia: As of early 2020, Olivia Cooke and Ben Hardy are in a relationship after meeting on the set of ‘Pixie’. (This is actually the only bit of trivia I would fine I’m afraid…lucky Ben Hardy!)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 guns that Alec Baldwin says…let me try this…”teese gons aren’t going to shoot temselves”!

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Movie Reviews

Kajillionaire (2020)

kajillionaire-movie-review-2020-posterDirector: Miranda July

Genre: Crime, Drama

Runtime: 104 Minutes

Main Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins, Mark Ivanir, Madeleine Coghlan, Steve Park, Challen Cates

Plot: 26-year-old Old Dolio has been raised by her parents to be a small time, petty criminal, helping to pay the rent by stealing packages from the post office and preying on the generosity of the wealthy to get by. In the middle of a lost baggage claim heist, her parents enlist the help of Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), a stranger they met on the plane, in a last ditch attempt to avoid homelessness.

My Thoughts: This is the kind of movie I’ve been waiting all year for. I would happily push all of this years and next years blockbusters into 2022 if it meant getting to watch movies like Kajillionaire. Sadly the cinema industry wouldn’t survive, so for now I’ll watch whatever I can and sit through the Bond trailer in silent rage. Kajillionaire is a heist movie like no other I’ve ever seen. Imagine Ocean’s Eleven was actually a Sundance movie, and that’s what you get. Evan Rachel Wood is completely unrecognizable as Old Dolio, with her over-sized tracksuit and gruff voice.

We’re thrown straight into this family’s life straight away, watching them wait for an opening outside the post office. And you have to think, a family this hard done by must be so close at the very least? But it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Old Dolio and her parents are business partners who split everything 3-ways, they don’t do love, or hugs. And really, that’s all Old Dolio has ever known until Melanie comes into their lives. Melanie is a ray of sunshine in a world of darkness, and the whole family is smitten by her. That’s when things really become strained.

I tried to explain the basics of the movie to my husband when I got home as I usually do, and it was so difficult. Kajillionaire is funny, shocking, and heart warming all at the same time, and my husbands response was, “Is it like that movie you love where Willem Dafoe looks after that Motel near Disney World?” He’s talking about The Florida Project (2017) if you hadn’t worked it out, and he is so right. These kind of movies were made for me.

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Best Bit: *SPOILERS* When the gang were at the old gentleman’s home and they made Old Dolio wait in his bedroom for him to die so they can take his chequebook. He’s clearly in pain and waiting to pass and it’s such a tender moment watching her help him through it. To then find out he was still alive was such a funny shock.

Worst Bit: It wasn’t a bad moment in terms of the quality of the movie, but when we find out why her parents even called her Old Dolio is just broke my heart, poor girl never stood a chance.

Fun Trivia: I can’t seem to find anything fun to share with you, but from the looks of it, the movie will be released digitally on Friday 16th October so please give it a watch if you aren’t able or comfortable to go to the cinema!

My Rating: 4 and a half buckets that you’ll need to scoop up those bubbles leaking from the wall every afternoon.

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Movie Reviews

The Wall of Mexico (2019)

the-wall-of-mexico-2019-poster-movieDirector: Zachary Cotler, Magdalena Zyzak

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 110 Minutes

Main Cast: Jackson Rathbone, Esai Morales, Marisol Sacramento, Carmela Zumbado, Alex Meneses, Moises Arias, Mariel Hemingway, Xander Berkeley

Plot: Don (Jackson Rathbone) takes on a job as a handyman for the Aristas, a wealthy Mexican-American family with two outrageously decadent daughters. The source of the family’s wealth is a mystery to Don until he is told about the well on their property.

My Thoughts: First of all, how great is it to see Jackson Rathbone again? It feels so strange that this movie has come along at a time when I’ve recently re-watched all of the Twilight movies. He’s great here, and the role has clearly done him some good as his IMDB profile is showing a good few movies in the pipeline for him.

I’ve got to be honest with you – I don’t have a lot to say about this movie and it’s given me a week-long writing block. I don’t necessarily mean it as an insult though, sometimes you watch a movie and you think, this is fine, I enjoyed it, and now I’ve moved on. That’s how I feel about The Wall of Mexico. It has a political theme behind it as you can probably guess, but it’s not punchy enough to really make a point. I wish those themes had been pushed harder, that would have made the movie stand out.

Still, it was a decent watch and it’s an indie movie originally screened at the SXSW festival. It’s available to stream TODAY, and as a movie blogger I feel a sense of duty to put a bit of spotlight onto the movies you might not have heard of.

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Best Bit: When Don finally cracks and finds out for himself what the big deal with the water is all about. I loved his outburst. I spent most of the movie thinking the same, what is the obsession?!

Worst Bit: Those sisters are real jerks, for sure. I guess that’s what money does to you!

Fun Trivia Some Words from the Director: “The Wall of Mexico was conceived in reaction to the 2016 election and the continuing turmoil of its consequences. In our film, the clichéd power structures of American pop culture and news are flipped: a white handyman, uneducated and poor, tries to partake of the privileged and enticing world of a wealthy Latino family. To further complicate preconceived notions about ethnicity and culture, we decided to shoot the film on the other side of the looking glass and teamed up with producers and crew from Tijuana.”

My Rating: 2 and a half pairs of binoculars. If you want to work for the Aristas family you’re going to need them for your nightly well duty.

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TV Shows

TV Thoughts: The Boys (Season 1)

the-boys-amazon-tv-show-2019-reviewWhat’s this, Allie? You’re posting about a TV Show? It has been TOO long since I got properly stuck into TV. I much prefer movies which demand less of my time. There’s nothing worse than spending hours over the course of several years being loyal to a show that ends badly, I guess I’ve been burned too many times! Of course, I’ve been loving Modern Family and Schitt’s Creek but they’re happy little 20+ minute episode shows that I tend to watch whilst doing something else (she says, writing a blog post in the middle of Season 5 of Schitt’s Creek).

I’ve heard too many good things about Amazon Prime’s The Boys, though. My husband has been nagged by his friends to watch it too so we decided to watch it together. If you didn’t know already, The Boys is pretty much an anti-superhero show. In a world full of special people with powers, one company has cashed in and suddenly saving the world has budgets, advertising and hidden agendas.

Hughie (Jack Quaid) has his world crashing down on him one day when a superhero accidentally kills his girlfriend. Set on finding answers and closure, he ends up teaming up with vigilante Butcher (Karl Urban) and his crew to bring down the ultimate group of superheros, known as The Seven, headed up by the world’s strongest hero, Homelander (Antony Starr). That’s all I’ll say on plot, because if you’ve watched it already you know what happens, and if you haven’t given the first episode a watch yet…you really should.

The first thing that shocked me about The Boys is the violence and gore – but for good reasons! The moment Hughie’s girlfriend is killed sets that bar perfectly for what you can expect in the rest of the show. Think explosions, guts, severed limbs…the lot. This won’t be the show for you if you don’t like the C word, either. Every sentence that comes out of Butcher’s mouth contains at least one. He is clearly the standout character! For so many years our superhero movies and shows have been made for a family audience so it’s such a breath of fresh air to have The Boys.

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What makes something in the superhero genre stand out for me is the villain, or villains. The greatest villain should be someone we feel conflicted about. Take Thanos from the Marvel Universe for example. He commits a terrible act by literally wiping out half of the human race but…the reasons behind that action aren’t diabolical in the slightest. So with The Boys, who actually is the villain? These superheros are as corrupt as can be but Butcher’s team are murderers!

So in short – we are LOVING this show. We’ll be starting Season 2 tonight and I can only hope it stays being this great.