It Chapter Two (2019)

it-chapter-two-2019-movie-reviewDirector: Andy Muschietti

Genre: Horror, Drama, Fantasy

Runtime: 169 Minutes

Main Cast: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, James Ransone, Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer

Plot: Set twenty-seven years after 2017’s It, the Losers Club have all grown up and moved out of Derry, except Mike, who has spent those years researching Pennywise and how he can be stopped for good. When Mike realises that ‘it’ is back, he brings the Losers Club back together to stop that evil clown for good.

My Thoughts: My toddler has finally gotten over her jetlag and realised that night time is, in fact, the time for sleeping, so I took the opportunity to go and scare myself selfless at the cinema. I did put a call out on my Instagram in case any family or friends wanted to keep me company and/or laugh at me panicking, but I had no takers so I made sure I sat in a corner where nothing could hurt me. I’m pathetic, aren’t I? Thankfully, Chapter Two isn’t as scary as the first, only because most of the scares kind of came with a bit of warning this time.

Can we talk for a moment about how amazing the casting choices have been for both movies? Chapter One was practically a coming of age movie that just so happened to be a horror, and the strongest part of Chapter Two was again the characters and how they’ve grown over the years. They’re all still losers in their own ways, and it was so easy to tell which of the kids they were playing the grown-up versions of.

One thing I worried about was the length. Chapter Two is just under 3 hours long, and you all know I’m the first to complain about length (that sounds a bit rude, come to think of it). I just don’t have the attention span for long movies, and my bladder is useless after having a baby. You know what, though? It didn’t feel anywhere near as long as it is – that’s how invested I felt in the story. If you’d told me it was half the claimed runtime I wouldn’t argue with you.

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The only thing I picked fault with in Chapter One was that by the time it came to the final showdown, I didn’t feel that scared of Pennywise anymore. This time, it was the opposite. I was coping just fine until they went into the creepy house. For that final hour, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe!

Best Bit: Oh man, that cute little dog behind the ‘Not Scary At All’ door was Goose’s brother from another mother, wasn’t it? I kept looking away, expecting a scare, and just when I thought it was safe again and looked back at the screen, BAM.

Worst Bit: That mirrored room scene can GO TO HELL. Not only because it freaked me out and upset me, but the only man who should be running around a mirrored room and look damn fine whilst doing so is John Wick.

Fun Trivia: Bill Hader was unaware that Bill Skarsgård can actually move his eyes in two different directions. Hader asked Skarsgård what kind of editing was done to achieve the effect in the first movie. Skarsgård, in full costume and makeup, responded by saying “Oh, you mean this?” and doing it, causing Hader to freak out.
I’ve seen the photos of this and they’re glorious!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 red balloons, none of which you’ll find at my daughter’s birthday party I’m currently planning, because the mere sight of them now freaks me out!

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Thursday Movie Picks: Non-English Language Movies

Shame on me, it’s been forever since I took part in Wandering Through the Shelves’ Thursday Movie Picks. I got into the swing of it, came across a week where I had nothing to contribute, and then fell off the wagon, hard. Typically now I’m back off holiday this week’s theme is a real struggle for me, but I do (just about) have 3 movies to bring to the table this week.

The theme, of course, is Non-English Language Movies. I’ve largely avoided these movies for the majority of my life because…well. I’m from England where we rarely learn any other language at a high level, and the thought of reading a movie was offputting. I’ve widened my horizons in recent years though, and I’ll happily watch any movie that other bloggers are raving about, no matter the language!

Here are my 3 favourites that I’ve seen so far…

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Incendies (2010)

If you’ve seen any of Denis Villenueve’s other movies (Prisoners, Sicario, Enemy, to name a few) then you know you’re in for a wild, often brutal ride. There are no happy endings here. Incendies is the story of a set of twins traveling to the Middle East to discover their family history, and it was one of those endings that has haunted me ever since. 100% a must watch!

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Memories of Murder (2003)

Speaking of no happy endings…Joon-ho Bong’s Memories of Murder was an exhausting (but worth it!) watch. It deals with three detectives desperately trying to solve the case of multiple murders. If you’ve watched Wind River (2017) and found it a good watch, then this should definitely be next on your list.

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Roma (2018)

A weird choice, considering I wasn’t exactly singing it’s praises when I reviewed it last year, but despite Roma not being the most exciting movie I’ve ever seen, it’s stuck with me ever since. On the surface, it’s a quiet story of a housemaid and the life she leads, but there are some really powerful moments in there.

The Aftermath (2019)

the-aftermath-movie-review-poster-2019Director: James Kent

Genre: Drama, Romance, War

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Main Cast: Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgard, Jason Clarke, Alexander Scheer, Fionn O’Shea, Frederick Preston, Flora Thiemann

Plot: In the aftermath of World War II, British Colonel Lewis Morgan and his wife Rachael are assigned to live in Hamburg, in the house of German widower Stefan and his daughter. Rachael and Lewis’ relationship is strained enough already, but these current living conditions push old and new tensions to the surface.

My Thoughts: Are you even on a long haul flight if you don’t have a dodgy movie watching experience? Thanks to my cinema membership I’d seen most of the movies that the in-flight entertainment system had to offer, but I missed The Aftermath. I’m not a huge fan of period dramas but when you’re stuck thousands of feet in the air with a sleeping toddler across your lap, it’ll do. I should also mention I had no headphones so I watched the whole thing with subtitles only.

You know what, I actually really enjoyed it. I wasn’t bothered by the war setting, and goodness me was the plot predictable, but without sound you can really focus on the performances, and they were stellar. Perfect casting all round! I watched the last 20 minutes again back at home with sound because I fell asleep, so I got to experience the real cheesy lines twice. I mean, when you’re about to say the words to end a marriage, can you really be ballroom dancing at the same time?

Also, why is Alexander Skarsgard so dreamy? I’ve watched him twice recently, this time as a potential Nazi and last time as a complete dirtbag and yet…I don’t know. Guy knows what to rock a sweater vest, that’s for sure.

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Best Bit: As if the romance blossoming between Rachael and Stefan couldn’t get any sweeter, they end up having a Beauty and the Beast style snowball fight. I was so ready for the teacups to start talking.

Worst Bit: I’m sure ‘back in my day’ they edited the crap out of movies before putting them on these flight entertainment systems. There’s nothing like being sat in the aisle seat close to the toilets on a full flight to find yourself confronted with one of the slowest sex scenes ever. The cringe is real!

Fun Trivia: Keira Knightly uses a body double for the nude scenes in the film.
Apologies, but this was literally the best bit of trivia that IMDB had to offer me…

My Rating: 3 and a half snowballs that I could totally use in a romantic snowball fight, but I’m too competitive and like to aim for the face.

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Going Off Topic (#19) Jetlag is a B-word

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I’m baaaack! Oh boy, what a vacation! We had such a blast. Going away with a toddler is SO MUCH hard work but to see her little face so happy makes it all worth it. The jetlag hit us hard, though. We arrived back home on Saturday at 9pm, put the kiddo to bed at around 11pm…and she woke up for the day at 1am. Argh. Fingers crossed we’re close to getting back to a normal sleep schedule now, because I’m feeling like an extra from The Dead Don’t Die right now.

We had the best time, though. New York will always have a special place in my heart, and it’s impossible to not have fun when you’re in Disneyland! Like typical Brits we didn’t cope well with the heat on the hottest days but we were so blessed with the weather. Our little girl Daisy has decided that churros are life (can’t blame her) and given the chance, she would move to live on the beach.

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Just before we went away though, I’d fallen out of regular movie watching and struggled to write anything for the blog, but I’m feeling really excited to catch back up now! As soon as I can be confident of getting a good night’s sleep I’ll be racing to my local cinema to see It: Chapter Two, probably to be so scared that I won’t sleep again for another week.

I hope you guys are all doing well, and I’ll be catching up with all the blogs I follow this week!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-2016-poster-review(I’m on vacation right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

I’ll give any movie a try, within reason. I don’t listen to critic reviews, but I place a lot of faith in bloggers’ opinions. Bloggers review movies for fun in their spare time, you know you’re going to get nothing but their own opinions from their reviews. Hunt for the Wilderpeople only came into my radar a few weeks ago, and every blog review I read had nothing but praise for it. That was enough to convince me to add it to my watch list, but once I realised that it’s directed by Taika Waititi, the genius behind What We Do in the Shadows, I made it my mission to watch it as soon as possible.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is based off a book by Barry Crump called Wild Pork and Watercress. It has that book-adaptation feel to it (don’t ask me to explain that feeling – I can’t) anyway, and it’s broken up into Chapters which sum up the ongoings well. In fact, I’d really love to give the book a go, I hope it’s as funny as the movie.

Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a troubled young boy, moving around different foster homes. He’s dropped out at the farm belonging to Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill) as the last chance. If he screws this up, he’s going to end up in Juvy. Ricky struggles to settle in his new home, despite the love and attention given to him by Bella, and so he runs away into the bush. Hec goes out to find him, and the result is a national manhunt for the pair as it appears that Hec has kidnapped Ricky.

It’s a funny coincidence that I watched this in the same week as Swiss Army Man, because they both have a lot of similarities!

Waititi’s style is clear in this movie. It’s got that same sense of humour as What We Do in the Shadows, and it’s quirky from start to finish. Julian Dennison absolutely shines as the child star of the movie, and his delivery of the witty lines is perfect. He’s just like a lot of other 13-year-olds, thinking he’s a gangster because he’s shoplifted a chocolate bar, played GTA and listens to rap music. Yet he’s such a likable character!

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Every time I watch a movie set in New Zealand, I’m taken back by the beauty of the country. I’m sure a lot of work went into the cinematography, but honestly, the setting does half the work itself, it’s gorgeous to look at.

The movie walks that line of Comedy and Drama perfectly without throwing the tone all over the place. It has some horrendously sad moments that had me sobbing quite openly, although I won’t discuss why because of spoilers, but it’s also one of the funniest movies I’ve seen all year. The dialogue is brilliant, thanks in part to the chemistry Julian Dennison and Sam Neill share.

I’ve been trying to balance this review out with a few negatives to warrant the 9/10 score I wanted to give it, but I’m really struggling. Originally I thought the roles of the Child Protection Officer and her Policeman companion were too campy, but actually, they fit the overall feel of the movie perfectly, especially when I try to compare it to What We Do in the Shadows. I very rarely give perfect marks to any movie, I think there’s always room for improvement, but I can’t find it here!

Swiss Army Man (2016)

swiss-army-man-movie-poster-review(I’m on holiday right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

Oh boy, I’ve been looking forward to Swiss Army Man for so long now, it feels like forever since the trailer was released. I’m surprised I managed to find myself a cinema buddy for this one. When I first saw the trailer I felt a mixture of shock and disgust, but a second viewing really opened my mind to the possibilities.

The easiest way to describe Swiss Army Man is: Paul Dano is lost on an island, ready to end his life out of desperation and loneliness, until he spots Daniel Radcliffe’s flatulent corpse washed up on the beach, and uses him to try and find his way back home. No exaggerations, there. You thought The Lobster was the weirdest movie you’ve ever seen? Think again!

Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are an absolute delight. I’m not sure just how much acting Radcliffe had to do here, but nonetheless, he really pulled off the dead-guy demeanor. I don’t know enough about movie awards to know Swiss Army Man’s Oscar chances, but Paul Dano would be in my nominations list for sure. This can’t have been an easy role to take on.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know what to expect, but a few things did shock me whilst I was watching. First and foremost is just how gross this movie was. Flatulence is one thing, we all have it, let’s be honest. I’ve never had it quite so bad that I could propel myself and another person across the ocean, but still, that’s not the worst part. Hank (Dano) uses Manny (Radcliffe) as a water source by quite literally squeezing the liquid out of him. Hurck. The most useful thing Manny can be used for is a compass. How? His boner leads the way. Yep. That’s about it for grossness, but Manny can also shoot things from his mouth and chop wood. Swiss Army Man for sure!

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The best part of the movie is the mystery of it all. I started to wonder whether Manny was even real, especially when Hank seemed to talk through his issues with him. Was Hank ever even lost, or had he just ran away? Hank has a fascination with a girl he saw on the bus, and re-enacts scenes with Manny by dressing up and even recreating the bus out of whatever he can find in the woods. It’s really quite incredible. I also thought Manny got more and more lifelike the more Hank started to find the root of his issues. He’s clearly a very troubled man.

Of course, there are also several laugh out loud moments. The boner scene was pretty funny until it got a little too much, and the first moment Manny spoke just to be punched in the face had me crying. Hands down, the best line in the movie is spoken by Hank: “If you don’t know Jurassic Park, you don’t know sh*t.” That line, coupled with the use of the Jurassic Park soundtrack, is nothing but pure genius, and is the real stand out moment of the entire movie.

I just don’t know how to feel about the ending. I mean, I don’t know how I wanted it to end myself, I guess I just couldn’t picture it. The movie itself is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, but the ending reminded me of Safety Not Guaranteed, and I never fully knew how to feel about that ending, either.

Swiss Army Man will be ‘too weird’ for many, but in a world full of superhero movies, sequels and remakes, this is a breath of fresh air for me.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

lawrence-of-arabia-1962-movie-poster-review(I’m on vacation right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

Gather round ladies and gentleman, it’s storytime. I come from a movie-loving family, as you well know by now. I grew up watching National Lampoon’s Vacation every Bank Holiday. Nowadays, every Sunday the talk over the dinner table is usually themed around what movies we’ve seen that week, and once every couple of months we all get together on a Friday night for a family movie night which involves take out, and far too many pause breaks.

Our Whatsapp group will ping like crazy before these nights, with suggestions thrown in for which movie we should see. Our audience ranges from very young (under 10) to very old (sorry Grampy) with all ages in between, so finding the perfect choice is difficult. But you can guarantee every time, my Dad will suggest Lawrence of Arabia. Why? It’s his favourite movie, apparently! For years we’ve put up with this, and in turn, he’s had to put up with us laughing at him. It was his birthday on 1st November though, and I suggested that we all give in and watch it together for his birthday. So we did!

Suddenly, one part of the family were ‘busy’ so our numbers were diminished. This might have had something to do with the fact my Dad announced he had a remastered version on DVD which included an interlude, bringing the runtime to just under 4 hours. Good Lord! Nonetheless, pizza was ordered, and we started the movie. Well, we started Disc 1 of the movie, because the thing is so big it won’t fit onto one disc.

Oh, were you expecting an actual movie review here? No, sorry, that’s literally impossible for me. I don’t know how to review this I’m afraid. I will announce a spoiler alert from here on out, however, because I truly don’t know what can be considered a spoiler in the tale of Lawrence of Arabia.

We start out with a message from the composer, who said something about his music being so bloody fantastic that any visuals would distract us, so we were greeted with a black screen and almost 10 minutes of music before we even started. Following that, confusion as we see Lawrence get his motorcycle gear on and go out for a ride. We were fairly sure a desert was involved in this movie. After that? Um. Well. He died! I mean, spoiler alert movie, GAWD.

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To begin with, we all got quite invested in the story. Lawrence was a bit of a full of himself guy, but we liked his spirit and we took a liking to the guide that was with him in the desert. I think we were gearing ourselves up for a road-trip-buddy kind of movie, but then the guide got killed and we all felt a bit sad for him for a while. Who knew wells were so important in the desert? We mourned the guide collectively until we came across the two young lads that eventually worked for Lawrence. Our favourite moment was when one pompous guy shooed the pair away, and they retaliated by shoving their stick up his camel’s butt. That moment killed me!

So, some more things happened, lots of talking, some war, and the oldest of my two little brothers announced we were well over halfway through the movie. Great, we thought! This hasn’t seemed so long after all. Then approximately thirty minutes later, the screen went black and asked us to insert Disc 2 to commence the interlude and the second half. WHAT. At this point our enthusiasm was shattered, my youngest brother fell asleep, and we sat quietly through the rest of the story. Even the dog had enough at that point. Let me tell you, much rejoicing was done when the credits finally rolled.

On a more serious note, the story of Lawrence of Arabia is quite fascinating, as we learned that the whole time he was just being used by both sides, his passion taken full advantage of. The music was beautiful and fit the moods perfectly. The visuals were a sight to behold (my youngest brother shouted out ‘hashtag silhouette goals’ so you know these visuals are on point). It was just at least 2 hours too long for me, for any of us, other than my Dad of course.

Our next family movie night is in 2 weeks time, and my Dad has stayed unusually quiet in the Whatsapp group. We’re all on the edge of our seats waiting to find out what his next suggestion might be.

So, to finally finish, I do recommend Lawrence of Arabia, but watch it over a couple of days.