1917 (2019)

1917-movie-review-poster-2019Director: Sam Mendes

Genre: War, Drama

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Main Cast: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch,

Plot: 1917 is the retelling of a real mission given to two young British soldiers during the First World War, to deliver a message deep within enemy territory to give the order to stop a planned attack which would lead to the death of 1,600 men, as well as one of the soldier’s brother.

My Thoughts: Phew. It’s taken me days to get around to writing down my thoughts on 1917, it’s taken me that long to get over it. War movies aren’t my usual go-to, but I loved Dunkirk (2017) and Hacksaw Ridge (2016) and 1917 is on everyone’s minds right now so I definitely wasn’t going to miss it. I didn’t realise until the day before that it was shot/edited to look like one continuous take, the last time I saw that technique was in Birdman (2014) and it was so, so effective, so I was genuinely really looking forward to it!

Oh boy, though. I mean, you’re really just thrown into the situation with those two soldiers. It’s such an effective way of telling their story. What was so great was that our screen was almost full, so everyone was gasping and jumping at the same moments. Yes, that scene in the bunker with the tripwire? I don’t think I’ve jumped that badly during any actual horror movie. The guy next to me? I swear I saw his arse come out of his seat!

It’s a tough movie on your emotions. It’s no spoiler to say there are moments (one big one in particular) that are quite gut-wrenching, and I definitely needed a hug and a good nights sleep afterwards! I think it’s going to do really well at the BAFTAs next month, my money is on it winning Best Picture but we’ll see!

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Best Bit: The scene set in the town left mostly in ruins was the standout for me, forgive me for not remembering its name. It was stunning, the darkness of the sky with the contrast of the fires? Honestly quite breathtaking. Every fibre of my body was tensed up during that scene, not knowing when a gun was going to be fired, or when someone would leap out from the shadows. I was a nervous wreck!

Worst Bit: That feeling when you remember that everything you just watched actually happened in real life. Also, having to watch a struggling baby crying in a cabinet drawer as a makeshift bed. Anything involving sad babes or children just sets me off now. I’m weak!

Fun Trivia: Over 5,200 feet of trenches were dug for the film (just under one mile).

My Rating: 4 and a half giant rats, twice the size of our British rats!

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Jojo Rabbit (2019)

jojo-rabbit-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Taika Waititi

Genre: War, Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Main Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant,

Plot: Jojo is a 10-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a Nazi, aided by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. When he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house, his world is turned upside down.

My Thoughts: What are you watching at the cinema tonight Allie? A movie I’ve been waiting months for about a little Nazi boy and his imaginary friend, Hitler! Yeah, there’s no way to explain the plot of Jojo Rabbit without it sounding batshit crazy, but then again, it IS batshit crazy in all the best ways! Only Taika Waititi can pull off a movie like this and make it so darn good. The absurd plot has definitely drawn in a wide crowd, I only wish Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) did the same.

I came for laughs and I was not disappointed. We only got brief glimpses of imaginary Hitler which works perfectly because too much would have been obnoxious. It’s one of those movies that needs to be seen at least twice because I’m sure there are some cracking jokes I missed the first time around. Scarlet Johansson was surprisingly not annoying and the bit where she calls her own kid ‘Shitler’ made me laugh a lot. Not quite as much as a canine-related joke, though.

You know what I didn’t come to the cinema for? For my heart to be ripped out of my chest and stamped on. No spoilers but there’s a moment halfway through that the tone turns drastically, and I didn’t even notice it happen for too long. Sam Rockwell was an absolute gem too, his character arc was superb. Like Waititi’s other movies, this might be too wild for the casual movie fan but it’s without a doubt one of my favourites of the year.

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Also – I really need to show some love for little Roman Griffin Davis. The kid is 11 years old, and this is his first-ever professional acting gig. Like, that’s mental, is it not?! He was SO GOOD.

Best Bit: How could I actually pick one moment? Sam Rockwell’s incredible costume? Jojo accidentally blowing himself up? The book Jojo makes, an expose about Jews? How about Stephen Merchant somehow being creepier than his character in Good Boys (2019) in front of a child? I could pick 10 at least!

Worst Bit: I love Rebel Wilson, don’t get me wrong. But she felt ever so slightly out of place here and her accent was terribly bad. I did love her gang of clones, though!

Fun Trivia: Taika Waititi said that in the scene when the Gestapo come to Jojo’s house “Heil Hitler” is said 31 times in one minute. He wanted a funny moment and also wanted to illustrate how ridiculous and unnecessary Nazi protocols were.

My Rating: 4 and a half German Shepherds…not German Shepherds…!

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Top 100 Movies of the Decade: 2015

Past the half-way point and we aren’t half-way through January yet, okay, I can do this! 2015 has been an easier year strangely enough. There were a lot of movies I really liked, but not as many that I loved so I didn’t feel as bad striking movies off my list like I did with 2014’s list. Does anyone else feel the same about 2015 or was I grumpy that year? Perhaps I’m just toughening up by making all these lists.

You can find my other Top 100 Movies of the Decade lists here.

2015 Movies Watched: 93
Movies that just missed out: Room, Brooklyn, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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#10 Anomalisa

Not going to lie, I forgot all about this movie until I checked my Letterboxd list for 2015. There was no way I couldn’t mention it, though. I’ve always had a love and appreciation for stop-motion animated movies and Anomalisa is one of the greater ones. It’s quite a dark tale but very thought-provoking and definitely a must-watch for fans of the genre.

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#9 Mad Max: Fury Road

It’s forever a thing that the movies I watch unwillingly turn out to be some of the best ones. I remember clearly seeing Fury Road at the cinema with my guy pals, ready to roll my eyes at it. I hadn’t seen any other Mad Max movie then (and still haven’t, whoops) but it’s hard not to get swept up by the beauty of it all. This was my best-rated action movie until John Wick 3 came along.

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#8 The Martian

Never will I ever take a bottle of ketchup for granted after watching The Martian. I rarely understand space movies but this was the exception, and I never expected it to be so funny as well as nerve-wracking! I told myself 4 years ago I would read the book and still haven’t. Ah, the best-laid plans…

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#7 The Gift

If you’ve never seen The Gift, do me a solid and give it a go. Just don’t look at a poster or watch a trailer, because the marketing team behind it are idiots. I thought this was a horror and it couldn’t be further from it. Jason Bateman plays a dark and serious role which was a first for me. It’s the kind of story where you don’t know who to root for… because you don’t know who the bad guy is.

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#6 Sicario

I’ll never forget making the mistake of putting Sicario on the TV after just sitting down with my dinner. That opening scene…ergh. Anyway, the sequel wasn’t that great but Sicario is still a fantastic movie as a stand-alone. It’s gritty, it’s dark and some of the scenes made me feel almost as tense as the closing scene of Whiplash (2014).

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#5 The Dressmaker

We don’t get enough movies like The Dressmaker, seriously. What looked to be a dull drama is actually a fascinating drama, romance, black comedy and murder mystery movie all in one. It’s quirky, odd and just downright entertaining from start to finish. One of those movies I wish I could watch again for the very first time.

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#4 The Hateful Eight

I still stand by the fact that the first hour of this movie drags like a bitch but after that, I was glued to my seat. My experience was probably helped by the fact the UK was having a snowstorm of its own when I went to the cinema so I felt fully immersed, but I just love a whodunit and so The Hateful Eight ticked all the boxes for me.

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#3 Inside Out

Who would have thought a movie about emotions could be so good? This came out in the cinemas during a really tough time of my life and maybe that aided my enjoyment of it, but it’s still an absolutely stunning movie. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me want to watch it over and over, and it doesn’t get much better than this.

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#2 Spotlight

You know you’re a movie blogger when you can say one of your favourite movies is about a team of reporters uncovering the scandal of child molestation within the Catholic churches. Definitely feels weird to say. Still, Spotlight is just a downright fantastically well-made movie and fully deserved the Best Picture Oscar.

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#1 Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Not going to apologise for any Star Wars sequel movie making these lists! The Force Awakens deserves extra love because it was the movie that finally converted me into a Star Wars fan. It also kicked off my Adam Driver obsession, which I guess I should be grateful for!

Thursday Movie Picks: Steven Spielberg Films

Happy first Thursday of the year, everyone! Oh wait, I missed that, because I was still in a red wine & chocolate coma not knowing what day of the week it was. Good way to start the year, Allie! It’s the thought that counts though, so I’m throwing myself into Wandering Through the Shelves’ 2020 Movie Picks with as much enthusiasm as possible. This week’s theme is Favourite Films by Steven Spielberg – a theme I worried would be difficult but crickey the man has made a lot of brilliant movies!

Here are my three favourites:

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The Terminal (2004)

I love Tom Hanks, so I’ve watched The Terminal a few times over the years now. Hanks plays an Eastern European tourist who’s government collapses whilst he’s at the airport, leaving his documents unusable and him stranded in JFK airport. I always remember it as a funny story but forget about how moving it is at the same time.

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

It’s been years and I have no idea if A.I. Artificial Intelligence still holds up but at the time it felt revolutionary and raised so many thought-provoking questions. A mother’s son was stricken by an incurable disease, and, thinking she had lost him forever, commissioned a realist robot to replace him. The problem is, her son miraculously recovers. I can’t even count the number of times I watched that movie when I was younger.

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Jurassic Park (1993)

Have you ever asked anyone if they like dinosaurs and been told no? I guess you don’t go around asking strangers that question often but my point is, who doesn’t like dinosaurs? To me, Jurassic Park is just one of those movies that’s impossible not to enjoy. I can’t say for sure if I saw the older sequels when I was a kid, but I should make the effort to!

Just Mercy (2019)

just-mercy-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Destin Daniel Cretton

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Darrell Britt-Gibson

Plot: The real-life story of how a fresh out of University lawyer by the name of Bryan Stevenson worked to free a wrongly condemned prisoner on death row, blamed for the murder of a teenaged girl.

My Thoughts: I’ve ended up missing out on the last 3 secret screenings that my local cinema offers, so I was dying to make it to the first of the year! I’ve stopped checking their social media for the clues because they’re too obvious. If I want to go to a secret screening, I want to be surprised! My hunch was that it would be Queen & Slim and honestly, I’d never even heard of Just Mercy so I was really excited at the thought of knowing nothing about what I was about to watch!

I’m pointing out the obvious but Just Mercy is tough to watch at times. It’s horrible to know that even in the very late 80s, going into 90s, racism was still so strong. The entire cast does a good job here but it’s Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx who are the standouts here, as the lawyer and death row inmate respectively. We’re with them both every step of the way and feel the same heartache and frustrations as they do.

It’s probably not the kind of movie I would deliberately seek out and watch which is why I love these screenings so much. As powerful as the story is (I cried more than once) it still felt quite dry in places, and it’s at least 20 minutes too long, although I don’t know where I would cut parts out.

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Best Bit: I loved the scene where Bryan managed to get the case re-opened at the supreme court. It was so suspenseful. I really thought for a moment that it was about to end horribly, and when it didn’t, I wanted to jump up and down with everyone else!

Worst Bit: I felt Brie Larson was totally underused. I understand why her character was there but she just didn’t…seem to actually do much? I’d have liked to have found out more about her, why she got into this line of business, what the fallout was, and so on.

Fun Trivia: The roadblock scene was not intended to be a night scene. The film crew was delayed for almost 4 hours due to storms and it pushed the filming back to nighttime.

My Rating: 3 and a half tickets to the Harper Lee museum which you really ought to visit…according to 50% of the characters in this movie.

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Top 100 Movies of the Decade: 2014

I’m determined to get these 100 movies done in the next week or so. It’s getting so, so difficult though! 2014 was a particularly good year for movies and I was fully swept into the awards season by this year too. I went through my Letterboxd list to find all the 2014 movies I’d seen and started my preliminary list, telling myself to be much stricter this time around. I’ve ended up with 15, and it pains me so much to have to take 4 of these amazing movies off my list.

As always, you can see my other Top 100 Movies of the Decade posts here on the master page. This post brings me to the halfway point!

2014 Movies Watched: 94
Movies that just missed this list: Paddington, Interstellar, Nightcrawler, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Chef

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#10 It Follows

Yeah, you bet your ass a horror movie made my top movies list! I can’t even pretend I don’t like horror movies anymore, I’ve fully embraced the genre. It Follows was the first horror movie to actually mess me up afterwards and leave me questioning my reality.

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#9 The Grand Budapest Hotel

This my first Wes Anderson movie. I watched it about a year late after seeing so many other bloggers rave about it, and they were right too. What a crazy world I found myself in!

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#8 The Lego Movie

It’s been 5/6 years Allie, are you still mad that the Oscars snubbed The Lego Movie? I am! It still hurts! It doesn’t matter that the sequel wasn’t as good, The Lego Movie was so original and so funny at the time! Everything’s not awesome.

best-movies-decade-2014-kingsman-secret-service

#7 Kingsman: The Secret Service

The marketing team behind the first Kingman movie needed firing, because the trailers so missold the movie as a comedy for teens. It’s actually a comedy for everyone, and it’s hilarious. The sequel is just as good, and we’re getting a third this year and I cannot wait.

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#6 Guardians of the Galaxy

I think GotG was the first Marvel movie I felt iffy about before seeing. There was no way I was going to miss it, but I wasn’t sold by the trailer. I ended up having a blast, though. Rocket remains as my all-time favourite MCU character, I think. I love that little trash panda.

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#5 What We Do in the Shadows

Okay, if you haven’t seen this movie yet you need to right that wrong, now. I’ve come to realise that Taika Waititi is a legendary director, and he hasn’t created anything I haven’t liked yet. Not only does he co-direct this mockumentary about vampires trying to live their lives, he stars in it too. I’m yet to see the TV show but I’ve heard it’s good!

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#4 Whiplash

I was blown away by Whiplash when I first saw it and I’m yet to find another movie with an ending as tense. I think I actually stopped breathing in those final few minutes. This is J.K. Simmons at his finest, and I doubt Miles Teller will ever be this good again.

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#3 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

It’s been too long since I saw Birdman last but it is so much more than a gimmick! The whole movie looks like it was shot in 1 long take and it’s so effective. I’m still salty it didn’t scoop up more awards.

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#2 Gone Girl

One of my favourite cinema experiences will forever be watching Gone Girl, having never read the book, and witnessing that twist in a full screen. It was simply brilliant.

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#1 Ex Machina

Criminally overlooked at the awards, there’s no way Ex Machina wasn’t getting my top spot for 2014. Deliciously dark, witty and stunning, it’s just a brilliant movie, end of. Also my introduction to 2 of my favourite Star Wars boys!

The Gentlemen (2020)

the-gentlemen-movie-poster-review-2020Director: Guy Ritchie

Genre: Action, Crime, Comedy

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Hugh Grant, Jason Wong, Eliot Sumner

Plot: Micker Pearson runs a multi-billion drugs business but is looking to sell and move on. He has 2 offers on the table but things get complicated when one of Mickey’s top-secret locations gets raided by a young gang.

My Thoughts: I haven’t gotten around to making any new years resolutions yet but if I did, I think ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ would be one of them. Or perhaps, ‘Don’t judge a movie by its trailer’ would be more appropriate. It feels like we’ve had the trailer for The Gentlemen thrust upon us for months now, and every time, although I’ll admit it looked entertaining, I wasn’t convinced it would be a movie I could love. I don’t care for gangster movies and as far as I could see, there wasn’t any kind of solid plot.

How wrong could I be? From an unrecognisable cockney Hugh Grant flirting with world’s sexiest assistant Charlie Hunnam, to Matthew McConaughey not only not irritating me with his face alone but actually being my favourite character, I loved every minute of this. It started out a bit complicated but the story is told via Hugh Grant’s character who talks us through everything, and I quickly caught up.

I do wonder how well it’ll be received out of the UK, only because of the humour. It feels very British to me, with a whole load of f-bombs and c-bombs thrown into almost every sentence. If you’re a fan of movies like In Bruges (2008) – also starring a hilarious Colin Farrell, then you’re going to love this, I think. I don’t know if it’s right to give the first movie of 2020 I saw in the cinema top marks but honestly, it deserves it.

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Best Bit: Colin Farrell and his boys. I always forget how funny Colin Farrell is in these dark comedies. The scene at the boxing club where one of his boys complains that another is being racist had me in tears!

Worst Bit: I came into the screen a couple of minutes late, I was starving and the line at Costa was huge, so I think I missed a couple of minutes and like I said, the first few minutes were a bit of an information overload anyway so I panicked for a while thinking I wasn’t going to understand anything.

Fun Trivia: Towards the end of the film Hugh Grant’s “Fletcher” stands in front of a movie poster for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. a previous Guy Ritchie film he also starred in as slick operative “Waverly”.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 perfectly made cups of tea, so beautifully filmed throughout this glorious movie.

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