Movie Reviews

What I Watched: March 2021

Can you believe we’re already a quarter of the way into 2021? April is going to be a good month, I can feel it. And even if it isn’t – fear not, I vowed this week to stop complaining because I’m boring myself, let alone you. In the middle of April in the UK we’re allowed domestic holidays, non-essential retail, outdoor attractions, outdoor dining, hairdressers, gyms, libraries…loads! If nothing catastrophic happens between now and then, that is. We’ll be driving down to the seaside for a week all being well, although the weather is looking atrocious. Anyway! Despite a shaky week here and there, I watched a lot of movies in March and today I’m here to share them with you.

TV wise, I finished Wandavision – LOVED it. That line that Vision says, “What is grief, if not love persevering” is so beautiful. I didn’t even realise till the finale episode was over that we didn’t get a major cameo like the internet thought. I don’t mind it to be honest, but it was so much fun reading all the speculation! I’ve started Falcon and the Winter Soldier too, and although it hasn’t gripped me in the same way Wandavision did, it’s still a great watch. I’ve also finally started The Flight Attendant, I’m only two episodes in but oh my goodness, it’s so stressful to watch! In a good way but oh boy, it’s not the show to wind down to.

Let’s move onto movies, shall we?

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The Mauritanian (2021) – I don’t have much to say about this at all. There is some stellar acting by Tahar Rahim and the BAFTA have fallen head over heels in love with it, but to me it felt like a very generic and dull way of telling a fascinating story. It was too long and too by the book to stand out.

Wolfwalkers (2020)Full Review

Moxie (2021)Full Review

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)Previous Review – I re-watched this to cheer myself up and it worked!

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The Dig (2021) – Why did I watch this?! I knew it would be boring. But it kept cropping up on Letterboxd as being popular and I hate to be left out so I gave it a go. It’s about a man digging holes. Yes, I know there’s more to it than that but I would rather watch paint dry than watch The Dig again. Sorry.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Full Review

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Yes Day (2021) – This fictional family are saying yes to whatever their kids ask them for a whole day and I have to say no to my own kid every time she asks if she can visit anyone’s house? I knew this was a bad idea to watch. They went to Six Flags Magic Mountain though and I went there on honeymoon so it was fun to relive some of those memories!

Cherry (2021) Full Review

My Own Private Idaho (1991) – Reviewed for Hidden Gems: Keanu Reeves

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Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) – I tend to avoid political movies (I don’t enjoy them) but after LaKeith Stanfield got a surprise Oscar nomination last month I had to see why. Him and Daniel Kaluuya are phenomenal in this but I have to wonder, if they’re both supporting actors, who’s the lead?!

The Devil’s Advocate (1997) – Reviewed for Hidden Gems: Keanu Reeves

Happily (2021) Full Review

Deadly Illusions (2021) Full Review

Hardball (2001) – Reviewed for Hidden Gems: Keanu Reeves

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Breaking News in Yuba County (2021) – I’m going to try really hard to write a full review for this one over the weekend because this movie was WILD. Think Fargo, not quite as good as the original, but with a fantastic cast and a lot of laughs along the way!

Seaspiracy (2021) – I know this documentary got it’s name to follow a pattern from another documentary but come on, the name ConspiraSEA was right there! I don’t review documentaries because I watch so few and I don’t really know how I would score them, but this one was an interesting watch. Put me off eating fish though.

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Bad Trip (2021) – I was expecting Bad Trip to be some goofy nonsense I could watch whilst doing a bit of life admin but it was actually really good, I would honestly put it up there with Borat in terms of quality and jokes!

Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Keanu Reeves

In the month of March, a third month into full lockdown in the UK and our third lockdown, I really needed cheering up and I was hopeful that Keanu Reeves could save the day! 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 March is Audrey Hepburn and I can’t wait to see what she watched! Speaking of Mettel Ray, this month she wrote an amazing piece called Ted Lasso: The Unexpected Appeal of the Good Guy. If you haven’t read it yet then please spare 5 minutes, it’s beautifully written! But let’s talk about Keanu, shall we?

Why Keanu Reeves?

I was really late to the party when it comes to Keanu. I was fairly certain I’d seen the first Bill & Ted movie when I was a kid but I’d never watched any of the Matrix movies (until recently!). It wasn’t really until the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 that I became a real fan, and boy what a year that was for him anyway! I went on a bit of a Keanu binge in 2019 but I knew there was so much more of his work I had yet to see, so he was an easy choice for the challenge.

Statistics

Letterboxd has a whopping 124 movies listed under Keanu Reeves’ name. Some of these will obviously be not-yet-released movies and shorts but I don’t know where to even start filtering those out! I’d seen 19 of them, which is a decent number but a less than impressive percentage! Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include John Wick: Chapter 3, Speed, Toy Story 4 and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

I’ve also seen John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Neon Demon, Point Break, Always Be My Maybe, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Knock Knock, Keanu, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, The Lake House, Destination Wedding, Replicas and Siberia.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Keanu Reeves played a main role, and so my choices ended up being My Own Private Idaho, The Devil’s Advocate and Hardball.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

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This was easily the movie I was looking forward to the most, it sounded so interesting. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix play gay hustlers travelling from Portland to Idaho in a quest to find a family member. Whilst on their travels they play tricks for money and drugs and wind up attracting the attention of a wealthy benefactor. Mixed into all of that plot is the fact that My Own Private Idaho is also a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Sounds crazy, right?

I’m uncultured and not well versed at all in Shakespeare so maybe that’s what to blame but I didn’t understand this movie AT ALL. For the first half I was just happy to be tagging along on the wild ride but I was just so lost. It’s got great reviews though so worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yourself!

The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

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Moving swiftly on to The Devil’s Advocate, a movie that I was sure I wanted to see but was hesitant about it’s runtime (a few minutes shy of 2.5 hours!). Keanu Reeves plays a hot shot lawyer from Florida given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for a big time lawyer (Al Pacino) in New York, who just so happens to be the devil himself.

What an opening scene to a movie! Loveable Keanu Reeves, a defence lawyer for a teacher accused of sexual abuse stands up and, knowing damn well the guyis guilty, somehow manages to sway the jury and the teacher walks free. It was shocking – and I started to wonder what kind of online reaction that scene would cause if it were in a movie released today. Regardless – it’s all part of the plot and the movie itself was highly enjoyable. Not enough for me to call it a gem, but still good.

Hardball (2001)

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Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve had to actually step away from blogging after watching Hardball because all I wanted to do was talk about it and I knew I had to wait until this post! I don’t care about the lukewarm reviews, Hardball is easily a hidden gem in my eyes and easily oneof my favourite movies of all time. Keanu Reeves plays an aimless young guy addicted to gambling and thousands of dollars in debt. In a way to try and claw his way out, he agrees to coach a baseball team made up of young black kids from a deprived estate in Chicago.

It’s such a feelgood movie. I was rooting for Keanu to turn his life around but it was those kids who made it for me. One of whom just so happened to be Michael B. Jordan! If that wasn’t crazy enough, he just so happens to be another one of my picks for the Hidden Gems Challenge! Anyway – I won’t spoil it but there’s a pretty heartbreaking twist towards the end of the movie that I didn’t see coming and I don’t think I’ll ever recover. It was only not getting a conclusion to one particular kid’s story that stopped this being a full 5/5 for me, to be honest.

Final Thoughts

A mixed bag for sure but despite My Own Private Idaho being a personal dud for me I’m sure it’s something most others would enjoy. Hardball is going to be a really tough movie to beat for the rest of this challenge! I had to look back at my own announcement post to check who is next and in another twist of coincidence April is dedicated to none other than Michael B. Jordan himself! So be sure to check back this time next month!

Movie Reviews

Deadly Illusions (2021)

deadly-illusions-2021-netflix-movie-reviewDirector: Anna Elizabeth James

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 114 Minutes

Main Cast: Kristin Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Shanola Hampton, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Greer Grammer, Grayson Berry, Marie Wagenman

Plot: Mary (Kristin Davis) is an award-winning writer tasked with writing one last novel. Struggling with writer’s block, she hires a young girl named Grace (Greer Grammer) to help look after her children and her home. Grace fits in with the family immediately and the kids adore her, but after a while things at home get a little…strange.

My Thoughts: I should have known. I should have known a movie called Deadly Illusions couldn’t be good. It sounds like the name of a punk or emo band that the weird kids at school are part of. But last week I said I was going to stop judging books by their covers and so I gave Deadly Illusions the benefit of the doubt. It really is as bad as it sounds, I’m not sure where to begin. I guess the saving grace (pun intended) is that it was so fantastically bad that I was invested for the whole ride.

Firstly, nothing at all happens for a good hour, it’s painfully slow. Even when the drama does kick in, it’s far too late to save it. Then there’s the fact that most of the plot doesn’t even make sense. Mary gets visited by her publishers, the company is in trouble and they desperately need her to write a new novel to save them. Okay, that sounds fair. But they’re willing to pay Mary $2m in advance, regardless of how well the book sells. I’m no business woman but if that’s how they conduct their finances then it’s really no surprise that they’re struggling.

Moving on to some spoiler territory (I won’t ruin the twisty ending though) – Mary is quite happy to cheat on her husband with Grace, but is furious when she finds that he’s also cheating with Grace? Double standards, much? It’s all just sloppy, lazy writing and half-hearted acting. I wouldn’t recommend this at all, it’s absurdity kept me interested for it’s almost 2-hour runtime but I clearly don’t have anything better to do!

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Best Bit: I don’t have an academy award on my shelves at home so I’m hardly one to judge, but the acting here is sometimes hilariously bad. I won’t give details but there’s a scene where a character comes across a dead body and screams ‘Oh my God!’ and it actually sounds like an excited scream – it was unintentionally hilarious.

Worst Bit: I can forgive so, so much – but there’s a moment where a dog gets kicked for absolutely no reason and that’s just not okay in my books!

Fun Trivia: Kristin Davis broke her “no nudity clause” in this film. She went the whole series of Sex in The City without disrobe.

My Rating: Half a laptop that you should always use to do a background check on anyone you’re about to hire to look after your kids.

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Movie Reviews

Happily (2021)

happily-movie-review-poster-2021Director: BenDavid Grabinski

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Thriller

Runtime: 96 Minutes

Main Cast: Kerry Bishé, Joel McHale, Al Madrigal, Natalie Zea, Paul Scheer, Stephen Root, Natalie Morales, Jon Daly, Charlyne Yi

Plot: Janet (Kerry Bishé) and Tom (Joel McHale) have been married for 14 years now and they’re still firmly in the honeymoon phase. They rarely argue, and when they do they make up immediately. When out with friends they can’t keep their hands off each other and their friends have now had enough. They’ve uninvited Janet and Tom from an upcoming weekend away but that’s the least of their troubles when a strange man turns up on their doorstep.

My Thoughts: I usually sit on a movie for a couple of days before I try and write my thoughts down but sometimes a movie comes along that evokes such a strong emotion from me that it’s a bit of a now or never situation. I didn’t know what to expect from Happily, it sounded quite fun and I recognised a few of the actors so it seemed like the perfect way to wind down after a fraught weekend. It quickly turned into something really funny and interesting and within the same strange vibe that Game Night (2018) has. Basically, Janet and Tom are told that they both have a defect which is why their relationship is so perfect – and after a shocking murder the movie turns into a mystery to solve.

That’s the best part of this movie, the big question. Is this defect real – or is it a cruel prank gone wrong? Janet and Tom are re-invited to the weekend away but they have to question why? Each of the other couples seems to have their own issues and possible motive and it’s wrapped up in this deliciously dark humour. It was all going so well until the movie rolled into its conclusion. I don’t mind an unexplained ending, I can even forgive an ending that leaves more questions than it answers, but the ending to Happily felt really anti-climatic.

Of course I won’t explain why because that would enter spoiler territory, but also because it’s an ending best watched knowing as little as possible. Some people will love it, I read a few other reviews on Letterboxd and that’s clear, but it felt like a huge letdown to me. I was waiting for one final twist that would lift up the shock factor but it never happened. In the end, it’s going to be a memorable movie for me and I would always prefer that to it being completely forgettable.

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Best Bit: Let’s get the obvious out of the way first – who gave Joel McHale permission to have a body that fit?! Moving on! I just loved the humour in this. There’s a joke leading up to a suspenseful moment where you think you’re about to see a dead body in the back of a car but it turns out to be about 10 boxes of pizza instead and I really fell for it.

Worst Bit: I won’t say why but during the reveal at the end I just felt so damn sorry for Charlyne Yi’s character Gretel. The confession came out of nowhere and it didn’t fit in with the tone of what else was happening at all. Even when she got her moment to shine afterwards it still felt off.

Fun Trivia: Happily was scheduled to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2020. However, the festival was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

My Rating: 3 omelettes that Joel McHale definitely should have made himself!

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Movie Reviews

Cherry (2021)

cherry-movie-review-apple-2021-posterDirector: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Genre: Drama, Crime

Runtime: 142 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Michael Rispoli, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Forrest Goodluck, Michael Gandolfini, Suhail Dabbach, Daniel R. Hill

Plot: When Cherry’s (Tom Holland) childhood sweetheart Emily (Ciara Bravo) drops the bombshell that she’s moving away, Cherry throws everything away and joins the army. However, Emily never left and when Cherry returns home from Iraq, he’s suffering badly with PTSD and falls into a life of drugs and crime.

My Thoughts: Tom Holland must be the busiest guy in Hollywood recently, he’s in movies left right and center! I’d rather be watching Chaos Walking (2021) than this if I’m completely honest, but with no cinemas open and a VoD release still a few weeks away, I’ll settle for Cherry (2021) quite happily. It’s not getting great reviews but the Russo brothers directed 4 MCU movies that I loved so I was quietly optimistic going in. It’s riddled with problems for sure, but I think it’s far from being a disaster. The biggest issue is that it feels like two very separate movies.

It’s almost 2 and a half hours long, and split into different parts or chapters. However, the moment around half-way through when Cherry comes home is very much the ending of one story and the beginning of another. The direction and point of the story changes completely from that moment on. I liked the first half much better than the second – the first focused more on the issues of masculinity but the second half was mostly depressing. If the drugs and robbing banks half of the movie could be cut right down and made to blend in better, I think this could have been a great movie.

Tom Holland is brilliant. He’s whizzed to fame from landing the role of Spider-Man in the MCU and with his baby face it would be so easy for him to be typecast into similar roles but he’s really trying to show a wider range and I think he’s got buckets of talent. After last year’s The Devil All the Time and now Cherry, I’m excited to see what he does next. If you’ve got the time to spare and an open mind I’d urge you to give Cherry a watch, it’s not going to be in my Top 10 of the year by a long shot but it’s far from being rubbish.

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Best Bit: Tom Holland’s character narrates his life in some scenes in a ‘breaking the fourth wall’ manner, looking at the camera and talking to the audience. I love things like that- and it’s reflected in other hidden jokes too. The banks that Cherry robs all have made up names like ‘Shitty Bank’ and ‘Credit None’, and the doctor he goes to see has a name plate on his desk that says ‘Dr. Whomever’. There are probably more that I missed!

Worst Bit: It’s the scene that the movie is going to be most remembered for but oh man. Yes, you read all the other reviews correctly. There is a POV shot from what is supposed to be the inside of Tom Holland’s bum hole. I’m laughing just typing it!

Fun Trivia: Tom Holland’s brother, Harry Holland appears in a cameo as one of the drug dealers. He is set to reprise the same cameo in Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021).

My Rating: 3 and a half bottles of bleach that I need to wash my eyes out after watching that particular scene!

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