Book Reviews

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

So, a month or so ago I was looking through the Kindle book charts and downloaded a few books from there, mostly ones where the cover caught my eye. I figured if it looked pretty and it was in the charts, it had to be good! I don’t get through many books so I don’t keep in the loop with what’s on trend, if I did I would amass a to-read list that I wouldn’t get close to finishing! The point I’m trying to make is that I had no idea what kind of book Red, White & Royal Blue was until I got stuck into it.

It’s an adorable romance centered on Alex, the President’s son (FSOTUS) and Henry, Prince of England. It wasn’t love at first sight, not quite anyway. Alex can’t stand Henry, and an argument gone wrong leads the two of them falling into a cake at a huge event, sparking a PR nightmare. The two are forced to spend time together and flaunt their (fake) friendship in front of the press in order to calm the controversy – but their hatred for each other turns to love.

I’m a sucker for the enemies to lovers trope, it’s my guilty pleasure so I adored that aspect of this book. I just wasn’t a huge fan of the rest. The characters are really well written, they’re so easy to love even though they aren’t perfect people, and the dialogue is sharp and witty, I laughed out loud at a few of the lines. It was when the politics took a bigger presence that things went a little wrong for me.

Maybe it’s because I’m just not into politics, but it just felt like everything else took a back seat and I just wasn’t as interested in it. Still, it was a great read and like I said, the dialogue is so great – I’d love to see this turned into a movie!

Movie Reviews

The Dressmaker (2015) – Film & Wine Club

the-dressmaker-movie-review-2015Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Main Cast: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Julia Blake, Shane Bourne, Caroline Goodall, Hayley Magnus, Sarah Snook, Kerry Fox

Plot: After being sent away from her small hometown years ago, Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns for revenge. Along the way she tries to reconcile with her mother and also find out what really happened on that fateful day, with the help of Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), who she falls in love with.

My Thoughts: This my third and final pick for mine and my parents’ Film & Wine Club, and I was really hoping I’d earnt their trust in picking good movies because this one was quite an ‘out there’ choice. If you’ve seen The Dressmaker before you know how bonkers it is, and if you haven’t, then you really should. There’s romance, there’s drama, there’s mystery, and it’s funny too. Just like how Fight Club isn’t about fighting, The Dressmaker isn’t about dress-making. We’re all riding the high from Mare of Easttown too so I was looking forward to it, although we did learn that my Dad has held a grudge against Kate Winslet ever since Titanic. He’s never forgiven her, apparently.

The characters are what makes this movie so great. From Tilly herself, arriving in the town dressed to the nines, with an “I’m back, you bastards”, to Hugo Weaving’s fashion-loving policeman, to the despicable townspeople – there isn’t a single one of them that just blends into the scenery, they all have great presence. There’s never a dull moment, either. With so many things going on, the time flies by. Just like Tilly, we want to find out what happened to that boy all those years ago. We also want to see the rest of their town get comeuppance, and for Tilly to finally find some happiness.

Where do I go from here? We’ve got two films left in the hat, the next one is my Dad’s last pick, Goodfellas (1990), and the final one is my Mum’s last pick, which she’s already forgotten so that’ll be a mystery to us all. It’s been so much fun though that we’re going to carry on, and so now I’m trying to decide what 3 movies to introduce them to next.

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Best Bit: Obviously the moment where Tilly finally remembers what happened when she was a child was great – but my absolute favourite bit is Tilly’s mum joining in on her date with Teddy. It’s just too funny. That, or any moment that Hugo Weaving is lusting over fabric. He’s definitely a scene stealer.

Worst Bit: *SPOILERS* I’ve only seen the movie once when it was first released, so I’d forgotten most of the smaller details and twists, but one thing I could never forget was poor Teddy in the silo. It was one of the most shocking moments in a lot of movies, because I really thought him and Tilly could be together and that would be the happy ending. It still had one of course, but Teddy!

Fun Trivia: Kate Winslet and Judy Davis had a hard time keeping a straight face while filming the scene where Liam Hemsworth strips off to get a measurement. (Didn’t we all!)

My Rating: Four and a half Singer sewing machines, the finest machines around.

the-dressmaker-movie-singer-sewing-machine

Movie Reviews

What I Watched: June 2021

What a whirlwind week it’s turning out to be! Word on the street is that all COVID restrictions in the UK are going to be lifted in 2 weeks, which just feels surreal. I just got back from a weekend away in Wales for a family wedding which was a delight. My 3-year-old was better behaved on the long drives than I was, she’s an absolute boss. Oh, and I returned to work this week! Home working only for now and part-time too but after being on furlough since April 2020 I’ll take anything. It’s going to take a LOT of getting used to!

Safe to say, my movie watching is going to dip in July but we aren’t here to talk about July today, are we? Let me share with you what I watched last month…

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Bo Burnham: Inside (2021) – Clearly I’ve been living under a rock, because I didn’t know Bo Burnham was a comedian. Everyone was talking about his lockdown special over Twitter though and I just hate to be left out, so I gave it a watch whilst writing. I got no writing done! I adored every single minute. ‘Shit’ is by far my most listened song of the year, it doesn’t get old for me.

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Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) – Whilst I’m still salty that ODEON didn’t bother to show this movie, I wasn’t missing out on much. I haven’t seen all of the Saw movies so I can’t comment much about this latest installment, but it was just…a bit meh, wasn’t it?

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Dream Horse (2021) – Yes, I’m still sticking with my pledge of watching absolutely everything my local cinema is showing. Dream Horse was actually a really sweet story set in the Welsh valleys and starring the always-wonderful Toni Collette. It’s a feel-good story and showcases the beauty of the countryside and the warmth of a small community.

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Awake (2021) – I really wanted to like this movie. The idea that some awful catastrophe occurring that renders humankind unable to sleep is fascinating, especially to someone as sleep-deprived as me. Yet Awake somehow manages to follow every conventional step in the ‘disaster movie’ book and is just plain boring.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)Film & Wine Club Review

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021) Full Review

what-i-watched-together-together

Together Together (2021) – What a beautiful movie this was. It’s been a while since I watched something that plagued my thoughts for so long after. It’s the story of a single father who hires a surrogate mother, and how their relationship develops whilst she’s pregnant. It could have so easily become a romcom but it stays realistic, through the highs and the lows and it just really surpassed all of my expectations.

In The Heights (2021)Full Review

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)Film & Wine Club Review

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Bo Burnham: Make Happy (2016) – Obviously I was going to allow Netflix to push me into watching some more of Bo Burnham’s comedy work. I think I still prefer Inside but I love the chaotic energy that Bo has on stage. The musical numbers were great, as expected!

Fast & Furious 9 (2021) Full Review

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Luca (2021) – I really want to do a full review for Luca so I’ll be brief for now but I really enjoyed it. It’s not as deep as Inside Out or Soul but I don’t want all of my Pixar movies to be like that. Sometimes I just want to watch two fishy friends eat pasta and ride bikes! It has it’s faults for sure but after reading reviews I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would.

The Dressmaker (2015) – This was a Film & Wine Club pick that I’ll get a full post written up for soon.

I also watched 3 Paul Rudd movies for June’s Hidden Gems challenge. The movies were Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), How Do You Know (2010) and Dinner for Schmucks (2010). Find out if any of them were gems here!

Going Off Topic

Going Off Topic (#29) A Brief Hiatus…

Oh, life sure has a way of sneaking up on you, huh? I’m behind an episode of Loki, I haven’t written my monthly round-up post, we’re going away for the weekend tomorrow for a family wedding that I haven’t even packed for yet, I’m returning to work on Monday but haven’t been told yet what my hours are…SUCH FUN.

So instead of rushing out some poorly-written posts (as if my usual ones are actually done well!) I’m going to call a break. Hopefully it’ll only be for a few days but I don’t want anyone to think I’m being lame by not replying to comments and reading everyone else’s posts.

Keep safe, be happy and I’ll be back before you know it šŸ™‚

Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Paul Rudd

Phew, I’m back to being more organised with my blog posts, for this week at least. I don’t like writing things at the last minute! That’s probably because the heatwave is over for now though, and I’m feeling fairly caught up with the latest movie releases. Let’s talk Hidden Gems though, shall we? It’s a challenge created by the wonderful Mettel Ray in which you choose an actor or actress for each month, and watch 3 movies of theirs you’ve never seen before in the hopes of finding a gem. Her pick for this month is Rachel Weisz and I’m really hoping she found a gem this month because I’d love to see more of Weisz’s movies! My choice for this month? Paul Rudd.

Why Paul Rudd?

Paul Rudd is just so wholesome. My introduction to him was Mike in Friends and he was instantly one of my favourite characters in the whole show. Since then I’ve seen a lot of his comedy movies and he’s now of course a huge part of the MCU as Ant-Man, a character I didn’t think I would like much – but Paul Rudd’s charm won me over. I thought I’d seen most of his best work but if there was any way to test the theory, the Hidden Gems was it.

Statistics

Letterboxd has a whopping 92 projects listed under Paul Rudd, I took out 31 (a lot of shorts and some unreleased movies), leaving 62. Of those 62 movies Iā€™d already seen 20. A fair amount but not a huge percentage. Some of my favourites include Avengers: Endgame, Ant-Man and the Wasp, This Is the End, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

I’ve also seen Captain America: Civil War, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ant-Man, Clueless, Night at the Museum, Romeo + Juliet, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Sausage Party, Knocked Up, The Fundamentals of Caring, Wet Hot American Summer, I Love You, Man, Role Models, This is 40, They Came Together, and Admission.

It was really tough to choose just 3 movies from the enormous selection of ones I haven’t seen yet, but in the end the three I chose were Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), How Do You Know (2010) and Dinner for Schmucks (2010).

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

When I watched the first Anchorman movie many years ago, I’m sure I enjoyed it, so I don’t know what’s been stopping me from watching the sequel for all this time. I’ve been sat on my thoughts for this movie for so long now that I’m risking the rest of this post being late but I can’t quite work out my feelings. I think I should have re-watched the original first because one side of me is thinking that the plot was just too silly and that it can’t be classed as a gem. The other side of me knows that the silliness is the whole point and thinks the jokes themselves were hilarious!

At the time of watching my critic head was giving it a 3.5/5 but then the final showdown in the park happened. All those cameos? Absolutely brilliant! And now I’ve made up my mind. Anchorman 2 is definitely a gem!

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How Do You Know (2010)

I totally watched these in the wrong order. Imagine for a second that This Means War (2012) is one of your favourite romcoms, featuring a love triangle between Reese Witherspoon and 2 other men, and realising another Witherspoon love triangle movie was already in existence? I was so excited! In How Do You Know it’s Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson fighting for her love. A hopeless battle because, let’s face it, we would all pick Paul Rudd but still? It could have been a funny movie at least?

No. Not only was it boring and unfunny (with the exception of a drunk Paul Rudd singing to his lamp) but Owen Wilson plays one of the most unlikeable douche bags I’ve ever witnessed in film. Boo!

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Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

Weirdly, when I started watching Dinner for Schmucks I had a feeling of dejavu, and realised I’d already part-watched this movie, but clearly never finished it. That should have been the warning signal but no, I continued. And then it took me 2 days to finish it. I think I stopped at the same point as last time. The problem with this movie isn’t the actors or the characters. In fact, I could watch Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell have a blossoming friendship all day long, but they themselves were 100 times better than the plot and the script.

Final Thoughts

I think that the fact my other 2 picks downright sucked is spoiling what should be clear – I DID find a gem this month. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is just as funny as the original, although it’s been too long for me to compare the storyline of the two. Paul Rudd seems to be another actor of whom I’ve already seen their best movies. What’s your favourite Paul Rudd movie, maybe there’s something huge that I’ve missed? Either way, tomorrow brings a new month, and July is going to be Nicole Kidman’s time to shine!