Thursday Movie Picks: Break-Ups

There’s something about the changing seasons, days getting shorter and the weather getting colder that makes curling up on the sofa with a hot drink and a sappy movie so appealing to me. So I guess it’s great timing that this week’s Wandering Through the Shelves Thursday Movie Picks theme is break-ups!

When I started scouring my Letterboxd account for possible choices, I very nearly created a theme within a theme of Ryan Gosling break-up movies, but changed my mind at the last minute! It was a good reminder that there are still far too many of his movies I haven’t seen yet, though…

But without further ado, here are my 3 picks for the week:

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The Break-Up (2006)

I know this seems like the laziest choice ever, but I actually really love this movie! Back in the day when I didn’t watch many movies at all, The Break-Up was the first rom-com I watched with an ending that surprised me, it totally bummed me out and I’ve never forgotten about it! Plus, it has my favourite funny argument between a couple ever. “I don’t want you to do the dishes, I want you to WANT to do the dishes!” “Why would I WANT to do the dishes?!”

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Begin Again (2013)

Excuse me John Carney, it’s been 3 years since your last movie, we’re due another! You can always count on a John Carney movie to be beautiful and have the best soundtrack ever. I loved Begin Again so much. Keira Knightly plays a talented musician who finds herself single after her long-time boyfriend makes it big in the music industry and leaves her behind. It’s just stunning in all aspects!

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La La Land (2016)

I will never, ever, get over the sadness that the ending to La La Land caused me. It’s just not fair. I thought I was over it, and then on holiday we were stuck in some Los Angeles traffic and I found myself singing ‘Another Day of Sun’ and it brought the pain back to me. I do like that the embarrassment at the Oscars where La La Land was announced as Best Picture just to have it corrected a few minutes later was kind of a parallel to what the audience to this movie ends up going through, though. The irony isn’t lost on me!

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Downton Abbey (2019)

downton-abbey-movie-review-poster-2019Director: Michael Engler

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 122 Minutes

Main Cast: Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Tuppence Middleton, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Imelda Staunton, Robert James-Collier, Hugh Bonneville

Plot: In the fancy building known as Downton Abbey, the residents and staff prepare themselves for a visit from the King and Queen of England. (My version)
The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century. (Official version)

My Thoughts: If you can’t tell by my description of the plot, I’ve never seen an episode of Downton Abbey. I dragged my friend Steph to see The Dead Don’t Die though, and I kind of owed her one. Plus I always say I’ll give any movie a chance! All she told me before we went in was that, and I quote, “if my beautiful butler does not get his happy ending we are rioting!”. I agreed wholeheartedly whilst eyeing up a chocolate cookie at the cafe!

(Spoiler warning from here on out because I genuinely don’t know what can be considered a spoiler!)

So to be honest, I had a lot of fun watching it. There were far too many characters for me to keep track of, I genuinely thought that Imelda Staunton’s character was the Queen for about half of the movie, so I got myself quite confused, but the movie itself is a standalone story in a way so I wasn’t completely lost. Any movie is worth watching for Dame Maggie Smith though, isn’t it? Plus, my geeky little heart was overjoyed to see Professor Umbridge and Professor McGonagall bicker!

I think I wanted just a little bit more drama, though. Maybe the TV show has it, but these incidents were built up and then fizzled out a little. Terrorist attack? Fizzled out before it really started. Thief in the Abbey? Found and scolded appropriately. Illegal, secret gay bar? The butler got arrested and bailed in about 2 minutes. My drama llama went hungry!

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Still – I had a good time and I’m tempted to actually give the show a chance now, especially as I’m probably the only female Brit who’s never watched it…

Best Bit: Sorry but this isn’t even related to the movie. Me and Steph were the youngest audience members by at least 30 years, and that made the adverts/commercials section hilarious, as it was clear the target audience was definitely not us! It was all fun laughing at the specialist, pediatric chairs being advertised until one of Steph’s favourite shops made an appearance…!

Worst Bit: I was loving the totally hot plumber fixing the boiler and flirting with one of the younger staff members, much to the annoyance of her fiance, but then said fiance did the stupid thing of breaking the boiler (not realising the guy would have to return?!) and we didn’t get to see him again? Shameful.

Fun Trivia: The royal visit of George V to Downton Abbey was based on his real-life visit to Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire which was used in the film for the ballroom scenes.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 boiler pipes which, you know, you should probably not stamp on if you don’t want the hot plumber to come back and hit on your gal.

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Best and Worst Amy Poehler Movies

I had so much fun writing my Best and Worst Will Ferrel Movies post a couple of months ago, I’ve been looking for an excuse to write another. For these kinds of posts, I usually head over to IMDB and check birthday dates because trying to pick an actor or actress out of thin air is virtually impossible. Turns out it’s one of my favourite comedic actress’ birthday today so I’m presenting you with my Best and Worst Amy Poehler Movies!

Her favourite role of mine will always be Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation. That show grew to be my most loved TV show of all time, and Leslie is just one of those characters who I admire and relate to so much. If you’ve never watched Parks & Rec please, please give it a go! As of the time of this post being published I’m pretty sure it’s on Netflix. The first Season is slow to get into (but short!) but a few episodes into Season 2, I guarantee you’ll be hooked if you’ve stuck it out that far.

Anyway, I’m talking movies today. So without further ado, these are my 3 favourite Amy Poehler movies:

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Sisters (2015)

If Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are together, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. The way they bounce off each other is simply brilliant, and after their short appearance at the Oscars I hope one day they’ll present the whole night! Sisters is one of those comedies that can be hilarious if you’re in the right mood. Poehler and Fey play sisters (funnily enough) who are summoned to clean out their childhood bedroom so that their parents can sell the house. It’s rude, it’s funny, and there are plenty of cameos to spot, too!

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Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

This one is worth a watch for the cast alone! I only watched it myself for the first time recently so seeing a baby faced Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper was a funny experience. The movie itself is basically the crazy antics of a summer camp, full of romance, mischief, and ending with a big talent competition. I might just make this movie a summer tradition.

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Inside Out (2015)

No prizes for guessing Inside Out would be my favourite. There aren’t many Disney/Pixar movies I don’t love but this one struck a chord with me like no other. Casting is so important when it comes to animation, and especially so when the animated characters are, in fact, emotions. Amy Poehler voices Joy, and I couldn’t think of anyone else more perfect for the role!

Now I’ve spread positiveness and love all over this post, time to highlight a couple of stinkers…

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The House (2017)

You could make the argument that The House was just a ‘meh’ movie rather than a bad one, but I was so disappointed that it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I hoped! Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell (that’s an odd coincidence, actually) and a whole bunch of familiar faces from Parks & Rec, together in one movie? Combined with a trailer that never failed to make me laugh, no matter how many times I saw it? I was so excited. And it turned out to be such an unforgettable movie.

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Wine Country (2019)

And speaking of promising casts, let’s look no further than this year’s Netflix release, Wine Country. You know how I said Amy Poehler and Tina Fey together was a guaranteed good time? I guess there’s always an exception to the rule. The story itself was interesting enough, but Wine Country was far from a good comedy.

So, judging by my Will Ferrel post, this is the part where you all tell me about an amazing movie that I haven’t even heard of, let alone watched. Last time, many of you told me about a great Will Ferrell flick, Stranger Than Fiction (2006). For the record, I haven’t seen it yet, but I plan to this week. What’s your favourite Amy Poehler movie?

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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