Lists · Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Michael B. Jordan

With the outdoors opening up and a week’s holiday to the coast, I haven’t watched as many movies as I usually do which led to a Michael B. Jordan crammed week in order to get my hidden gems post in this month! If you aren’t familiar with the Hidden Gems Challenge, it was started by Mettel Ray and you can find her original post here. Her pick for April is Keira Knightley and I can’t wait to see what she watched! Ii think Keira Knightley is a really underrated actress but there’s definitely a lot of her movies that I haven’t seen yet. But enough about Keira – let’s talk Michael B. Jordan!

Why Michael B. Jordan?

Well, he was voted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man in 2020, a title I’m certainly not going to argue about! But also, I can’t think of a single movie of his that I haven’t enjoyed (with the exception of Fantastic Four, but we can’t blame Jordan for that), and so there’s bound to be even more out there just waiting for me to watch! Jordan has a host of smaller awards already, but I definitely feel like an Oscar-worthy role is right around the corner for him.

Statistics

Letterboxd has 34 movies listed under Michael B. Jordan’s name. I took out shorts, documentaries, and unreleased projects which left me with 20. Before the challenge I’d seen 7 of those, not a lot but a decent percentage! Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include Hardball, Black Panther and Creed.

I’ve also seen Chronicle, Just Mercy, Fantastic Four, and That Awkward Moment.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Michael B. Jordan played a main role, and so my choices ended up being Fahrenheit 451, Fruitvale Station and Creed II.

Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

farenheit-451-michael-b-jordan

Based on a novel by Ray Bradbury, published in the 1950’s, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian world where books are illegal and firefighters start fires rather than putting them out. I’d heard that the book is great but the modern movie adaptation was terrible. Buuut the combo of Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon was too intriguing to pass up, so this was my first stop.

It’s not a great movie, but it wasn’t the train wreck I was expecting, that’s for sure. I loved the use of future technology that I imagine is one step further than the source material, and although it left me with a ton of unanswered questions, it didn’t put me off, and as a result I’m actually currently reading the novel in the hopes of getting the answers I’m looking for. Like, if the firefighters aren’t putting out fires, who is?!

Fruitvale Station (2013)

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Fruitvale Station is based on a true story – the event that took place in the early hours of New Year’s Day at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California, where young Afro-American Oscar Grant was shot by a cop and later died in hospital. I knew this wouldn’t be an easy watch but it’s with regret that I admit I knew nothing about the event, and so it seemed the perfect opportunity to educate myself on this tragic event and also explore one of Michael B. Jordan’s more serious roles. It also stars Octavia Spencer, who just so happens to be another of my choices for the Hidden Gems challenge!

This is a powerful and deeply emotional movie. It opens with real life footage captured by passengers on the train at the station, then goes back in time to explore Oscar’s life, before ending at that tragic night. Oscar isn’t portrayed as a perfect person – he was a real guy who made some bad decisions in his past but was a fantastic father, a loving son and a caring individual. The climatic scene is brutal, unflinching and upsetting to watch, and I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that it’s a movie based on a real event, or the fact that 12 years later murders like this are still a regular occurrence. What is it going to take for this to end?!

Creed II (2018)

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I don’t know what stopped me from watching Creed II, I really enjoyed the first one. I think it was released not long after I became a Mum and stopped going to the cinema for a few months, and it just slipped off my radar. Anyway – Creed II follows on from the events of the first movie, but this time, the son of the boxer that caused Adonis Creed’s father’s death is on the scene and challenging the recently crowned world champion to a match. Rocky urges Adonis to turn him down, but this is personal.

I really need to make an effort to watch the other Rocky movies (I’ve only seen the first) because there’s something about these characters that I just adore. I’m not a boxing fan in the least but from what I’ve seen so far, these movies are so much more than the sport. I thought Creed II lacked some of the personal relationships that the first one did so well, but that final fight was so dramatic I could feel myself tense up and actually stop breathing. I’ll be in the cinema for Creed III – that’s a promise!

Final Thoughts

April has been a great month! Or perhaps I should say, the final week in April has been great! As that’s when I squeezed all three of my picks in. Fruitvale Station is without a doubt a hidden gem, and Creed II is very close to being one. Also, I already mentioned that I was so interested in Mettel Ray‘s challenge because I’d tried and failed to do the Blind Spot challenge at least 3 times. Well, I’ve stuck out this challenge for longer than my other attempts and I’m seeing no signs of stopping before the year is out! Next month is dedicated to Margot Robbie, so wish me luck in my picks!

Lists · Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Kristen Stewart

I may be losing the will to live in what feels like the longest lockdown ever but if I have anything going for me, I’m ahead of schedule again for Mettel Ray’s Hidden Gems challenge! I think I accidentally binged all 3 of my picks for this month in one week because there was a bit of a dry spell for new releases, whoops. Anyway, to find out more about the challenge, check out Mettel Ray’s original post.

Why Kristen Stewart?

I’ve felt the need to defend Kristen Stewart ever since she rose to fame with the Twilight movies. I can understand her getting stick when the book fans didn’t feel like she was the Bella they envisaged, but she got so much hate for not being able to act and that’s simply not true. Anyone who thinks that she’s wooden and doesn’t show emotion simply hasn’t watched enough of her movies.

Statistics

Letterboxd has 54 movies listed under Kristen Stewart’s filmography (although some are shorts and others are unreleased) and before the challenge I had seen 15. That’s nowhere near as good as I thought I’d do, she’s clearly been in more movies than I originally thought. Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include the Twilight Saga (obviously), Adventureland, Happiest Season and Charlie’s Angels.

I’ve also seen Panic Room, Personal Shopper, Underwater, Cafe Society, Snow White and the Huntsman, Jumper and American Ultra.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Kristen Stewart played a big role, and so my choices ended up being Clouds of Sils Maria, Equals and Still Alice.

Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)clouds-of-sils-maria-kristen-stewart

This was an interesting movie to start with for me, because I’d never even heard of it until I started looking into Kristen Stewart’s filmography. Kristen gets a lot of screen time here but the lead actress is Juliette Binoche, playing a famous film star dealing with her past when someone very close to her passes away. Kristen plays her personal assistant and is such a good fit for the role. Sadly, the movie itself really wasn’t for me, it’s gotten many positive reviews but I couldn’t get into it at all.

Equals (2015)
equals-kristen-stewart

When I read the synopsis of Equals, I new it had to be one of my picks for the challenge. I’ve been defending Kristen Stewart since Twilight and her biggest criticism is that she doesn’t know how to show emotion. How ironic then that she stars in a strange, futuristic movie where emotions have been eradicated? On paper it’s a really interesting movie. Kristen Stewart stars alongside Nicholas Hoult in this movie that feels like a Black Mirror episode where developing emotions is actually seen as a disease.

I don’t know what went wrong – maybe it’s because Charlie Brooker has perfected that Black Mirror vibe and everything similar feels like a rip off but this didn’t work at all. I was interested enough in the beginning when the scene was being set but not even Kristen Stewart could save this for me.

Still Alice (2014)
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I was feeling pretty deflated at this point. I don’t mind not finding a gem each month but I really disliked the last two movies and I wasn’t feeling hopeful. Still Alice has been on my radar ever since it was released, but back in 2014 I hadn’t fully embraced the drama genre and watching a ‘sad’ movie wasn’t something I actively pursued. In Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays a mother going through the stages of dementia. The movie is brutal in how it shows the effect her illness has not just on Alice herself, but her entire family. Kristen Stewart plays one of Alice’s daughters, and more specifically the daughter that is closest to Alice.

There’s no denying it, the movie broke my damn heart. But it is, without a shadow of a doubt, an absolute gem of a movie. I could sing Julianne Moore’s praises all day but this is Kristen Stewart’s time to shine, and shine she did. Alice’s other daughters of course cared but it was Kristen’s character who was there for the toughest times. There’s a scene that happens backstage after Kristen’s character’s play and when Alice goes to greet her, it’s clear Alice doesn’t even recognise her own daughter and that was so tough to watch.

Final Thoughts

Wow, I thought for a while this month was going to suck and by the end of it I went and found a hidden gem! I’m chuffed to say the least. I’ve really enjoyed seeing more of Kristen Stewart’s work and I’m patiently waiting to see her portray Princess Diana in her upcoming movie Spencer. It’s time to move on though now, in March it’s time to focus on Keanu Reeves!

Lists

Top 10 Best Movies of 2020

Well, here it is, my Top 10 Best Movies of 2020! It’s late, in true fashion of course, because 2021 is really testing my resolve right now. I’d tell you all about it to make my chest feel lighter, but there’s going off topic and then there’s derailing a blog post completely. So let’s stick with the positives, shall we? I already posted my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020 if you happened to miss that. As much as I love these lists, it can be so confusing with release dates around the world. The UK tends to get the big, Oscars type movies in January but I’ve also been lucky enough to be given screeners for movies that aren’t released in the UK until 2021, so please bare that in mind.

Let’s do this, shall we?

Number of 2020 movies watched: 94
Movies that just missed out: Over the Moon, The Broken Hearts Gallery, Soul, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special

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#10 Kajillionaire – Pre-pandemic I would have had to wait months to see this, when one of the streaming services picked it up. But with a lack of blockbusters my local cinema was playing Kajillionaire in the small summer window that it was allowed to open and it was such a great experience. I love quirky movies like this and I highly recommend it.

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#9 Happiest Season – Christmas is my favourite time of year, it’s no secret. So when new festive movies get released, I get excited. When last year’s biggest offering also happened to star some of my favourite actresses as well as one of geniuses behind Schitt’s Creek, my most adored TV show of 2020 – I was absolutely desperate to see it. And despite some troubled story telling as far as the lead couple goes, I still loved every minute.

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#8 Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Just when I was at an all time low living under Lockdown 1.0, this movie came along to brighten my spirits. Let the anthem of 2020 be Jaja Ding Dong! You don’t need to be a hardcore Eurovision fan to enjoy this but you will need to find a bit of joy in being silly.

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#7 Palm Springs – Another entry to the ‘Groundhog Day’ genre but this time featuring Andy Samberg in the glorious sunshine. It shouldn’t have been as good as it was but it had such charm that it was impossible not to love.

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#6 Wonder Woman 1984 – I have to admit, by Halloween I never thought we would have gotten Wonder Woman 1984 released in 2020. I had the privilege of watching it on the big screen at one of the very few open cinemas at the time, just days before they all closed (again!) and it was delightful. It served as a reminder that cinemas are still relevant and needed. Yes, it’s great watching new releases in the comfort of our own homes but you just can’t beat the big screen experience.

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#5 Tenet – Whether you loved it or hated it, Tenet was surely one of the most talked about movies of the year. Once the cinemas closed in March and speculation began as to what would be the first big release when they reopened, Tenet was the one. I needed two watches to fully appreciate it and understand it as much as I was ever going to, but if I were to describe my ideal kind of movie, Tenet is it, so I was always going to be a fan.

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#4 The Gentlemen – I had to check and re-check but yes, The Gentlemen was released on January 1st, 2020 in the UK. It was the first of very few movies I saw at the cinema last year and I loved every second of it. At the time I questioned myself giving it a full 5/5, but it turned out to be only one of four that I gave the rating to in the end! If you’ve only ever seen Hugh Grant as a charming British gentleman, you absolutely need to see how different he is in this!

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#3 The Trial of the Chicago 7 – I’ll admit, I haven’t watched many courtroom dramas. I think they can be quite slow and dry, but when they’re good they tend to be incredible, and that was the case with The Trial of the Chicago 7. I won’t even pretend to understand American politics so the beginning confused me but the trial itself was astounding, and shocking when it’s based on a real case.

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#2 Promising Young Woman – I’ve only recently reviewed this so I won’t ramble much but oh my goodness I loved this movie. Mix together Gone Girl (2014) and A Simple Favor (2018), give it a candy coloured aesthetic and a killer soundtrack and you have…this *chefs kiss*

best-movies-2020-hamilton

#1 Hamilton – I almost left Hamilton out of this list completely. It’s not considered eligible for the Oscars after all as really, it’s an edited recording of a live theatre performance that happened a few years ago. But it is so captivating and so easily the best thing I watched on any screen last year that it would be a travesty to disclude it from this list.

Lists

Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020

As the UK enters it’s THIRD national lockdown, and I’m clearly feeling grumpy, why not put that energy into listing the worst movies that 2020 brought? I’ll be back later this week with best movies but for now let’s focus on the mundane and downright awful. Thanks to streaming services there have still been plenty of movies released this year – of varying qualities.

I’m always nervous posting a worst movies list because there’s always something here that someone loves! I also seem to have gone against the crowd a lot this year, if the Twitter noise is anything to go by. So no hard feelings, okay?

As far as release dates go – if you see something in one of my lists and think it’s from a different year, just remember UK release dates can be completely different! Also – bonus points if you spot all the poop emojis.

2020 movies watched: 91
Movies that narrowly missed out: Antebellum, The Witches, Superintelligence, Songbird, Tesla, The Call of the Wild, Bloodshot, Dolittle, Brahms: The Boy II

worst-movies-artemis-fowl

#10 Artemis Fowl – I’m not the target audience of this movie, I get it. But the best kids movies have something that appeals to adults and this…had nothing. Other than a horrifying Josh Gad dislocating his jaw to eat dirt and poor Judi Dench with the world’s sorest throat.

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#9 Fantasy Island – This is a shame because the idea was fun, and the movie wasn’t all terrible. Jetting off to a remote island in order to live out a fantasy of yours seems pretty ideal right now, huh? Some plot lines work, others don’t, but the characters are just downright terrible.

worst-movies-2020-thinking-of-ending-things

#8 I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Now is when I start to get anxious. I know this is a widely loved movie. Since reading many other reviews I also understand the movie a whole lot better. But I stand by it being included in this list. I don’t mind a movie being so confusing it needs a second watch but if it’s so dull that I can’t even bring myself to give it another go then it’s just not going to work.

worst-movies-2020-rebecca

#7 Rebecca – Reviews for this one are all over the place so I don’t know if mine is a popular opinion or not. If anything I’ve made a mental note to watch the original 1940 Hitchcock version. This remake was just…boring. There’s nothing particularly bad about it, but it felt about 3 hours long.

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#6 365 Days – We all watched this out of morbid curiosity, didn’t we? If you hated the Fifty Shades trilogy then boy…you’re either going to want to avoid this like the plague or hate-watch it with a very large drink!

worst-movies-2020-desperados

#5 Desperados – Huge thank you to Letterboxd and it’s Diary feature because if it wasn’t for the fact I log every movie I watch Ii would have forgotten about this movie all together. I remember it stars Aly and Winston from New Girl and that’s why I watched it but other than that? I can only assume it’s a terrible romcom that fades into nothingness.

worst-movies-2020-she-dies-tomorrow

#4 She Dies Tomorrow – This is the exception to the rule, I don’t feel anxious at all telling you how much I hated this. The idea is great, I’ve never seen anything like it, but to be it’s the absolute definition of style over substance.

worst-movies-after-we-collided-2020

#3 After We Collided – Clearly I’m now officially an old person because I had no idea this series was such a big deal. I saw at in the brief summer window that cinemas reopened and made sure I watched the original first. That one was actually a decent watch but this sequel? It felt like Fifty Shades for young teens…wrong on every level!

worst-movies-2020-ava

#2 Ava – This movie is just downright disappointing in every single way. It’s a spy movie, so how is it so mind numbingly boring? It also boasts a stellar cast including Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich and Colin Farrell. It doesn’t feel like anyone is phoning in their performance here but still – ugh.

worst-movies-2020-wild-mountain-thyme

#1 Wild Mountain Thyme – Maybe this takes the top spot because it’s the most recent in my mind but it still very much deserves it’s place in this list. Wild Mountain Thyme feels like a TV movie broadcast in the middle of the night with a target audience of insomniacs simply needing to pass the time. And yet it’s not. I thought Alex Baldwin had a dodgy Irish accent in this year’s Pixie (2020) but Christopher Walken manages to speak only around 1 in 5 words with an actual accent. It’s…magnificently bad. The moment that firmly plants this movie though is Jamie Dornan’s confession towards the very end. I won’t spoil it, but ask me in the comments if you want to know without suffering through this movie.

Lists

Thursday Movie Picks: Favorite Cinematography

When I first got in movie blogging in 2014 I was only really watching the same kind of movies I’d ever known, all romcoms, comedies and blockbuster action flicks. Being a blogger has obviously opened my eyes to the whole spectrum but back then I had no time for what I know as ‘Oscar movies’. I actually laughed at the trailer for Whiplash (2014) but when I saw it? Wow.

That year, like many movie bloggers, I put together my predictions for the Oscars. They were all blind guesses, I’m not going to lie. Even now there are some categories I still have to make a guess at, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. But one category in particular confused me more than ever, and that was Best Cinematography. To try and explain it to someone else would make me look like a tit, but my best understanding of it now is the way a movie looks. You know those moments where you think wow, that looks beautiful? That’s cinematography.

And that’s the topic of Wandering Through the Shelves’ Thursday Movie Picks this week. So before I make a bigger fool of myself, let me share some of my favourite shots.

best-cinematography-1917-2019

1917 (2019)

I could have picked 100 shots from this movie, it’s absolutely stunning. But this moment during night time is the one that sticks with me. I was already exhausted and on edge, and then in this quiet, stunning moment there’s a shadow in the distance and we have no idea if they’re a friend or foe.

best-cinematography-la-la-land

La La Land (2016)

Los Angeles has a special place in my heart. My husband and I first visited in 2016 on our honeymoon, and we went back last year with our daughter and my parents and brother to celebrate our 30th birthday. My favourite way to spend the day there was at one of its many beaches, walking the pier was just so peaceful. That’s just one of the many reasons I love La La Land.

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Sicario (2015)

Sicario was one of those first few movies to really shock me when I was still discovering movies outside my comfort zone. It was so tense, and yet absolutely stunning at the same time. The scenes shot at night time were incredible.