Movie Reviews

Another Round (2020)

another-round-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang, Maria Bonnevie, Susse Wold, Helene Reingaard Neumann

Plot: Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is stuck in a rut. His relationship with his wife has deteriorated to the point they barely speak, and his enthusiasm for teaching History is so low his students are complaining about him. That all changes when, together with his 3 friends, the group conduct an experiment to keep a constant blood alcohol level of 0.05%.

My Thoughts: For a few weeks now, every time I open up Letterboxd I can see chatter about Another Round, and I hate feeling left out so I’ve been really looking forward to watching it for myself. Plus, Mads Mikkelsen is one of those actors who is so universally loved, so it was bound to be a winner. Whilst I wasn’t overly in love with it after watching it, it’s played on my mind ever since and it’s destined to be one of those movies I like more and more as time goes on, I think. As much as I’m trying to right this wrong, I’ve seen very few non-English language movies so it was nice to add another to the list.

It’ll surprise no-one that continually drinking to keep your blood alcohol level at 0.05% is a terrible idea, but it’s so interesting to watch it play out. For a time, it actually works really well. Martin is filled with joy for the first time in years, and it translates into him making more of an effort with his family, his friends, and putting so much energy into his work that his students absolutely love his lessons. It’s far too easy to drink that little bit too much though, and it can’t go unnoticed forever. The beauty of a dramedy such as Another Round means we get to witness both the highs and the lows.

If you need cheering up, let me share something with you. When reading reviews of this I kept seeing references comparing it to The Hunt. My dumb ass assumed they meant The Hunt (2020), a crazy movie about hunting humans for sport. I was really confused until I realised they actually meant The Hunt (2012), a movie by the same director as Another Round and starring the same cast. Doh.

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Best Bit: Brittani at Rambling Film sums it up perfectly, Danish graduation ceremonies are something else! What a fantastic scene, amazing dance moves and an absolute banger of a song, What A Life by Scarlet Pleasure. I’ve been playing it on repeat ever since.

Worst Bit: Before the movie was over I thought my best bit was going to be the moment that little kid, Specs scored the goal. I actually cried a little bit. So it’ll be no surprise that my heart broke into a million pieces when we saw Specs again at *SPOILERS* the funeral.

Fun Trivia: Denmark has some of the highest rates of teenage drinking in the world; a World Health Organization report released earlier in 2020 found that Danish 15-year-olds consumed alcohol at nearly double the European average. Recent efforts to raise the minimum age for purchasing alcohol to 18 from 16 have met with resistance, in part because older adults recall their own youthful intoxications so fondly.

My Rating: 3 and a half glasses of wine I wish I’d been drinking whilst watching this!

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Movie Reviews

Promising Young Woman (2020)

promising-young-woman-poster-review-2020Director: Emerald Fennell

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Molly Shannon, Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell

Plot: After suffering a tragedy in her past, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) takes her revenge on the predatory men she seeks out on a weekly basis at her local bar.

My Thoughts: A slight ramble from me before I begin. The pandemic has really thrown my creativity out of the window this year but something amazing still came from it. A little dream came true and I was accepted as a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. One of the perks of memberships is sporadically receiving screener links to not-yet released movies and so finding myself watching Promising Young Woman at home, 2 months before it’s UK release with a screener copy that has a watermark with my name on? That’s made my year, for sure. But on with the review!

We get thrown straight into the thick of it when a group of guys in a bar are leering at Cassie, seemingly drunk and alone. One of the guys eventually comes over to offer to get Cassie home, but they end up at his house instead. When the guy starts pushing himself onto Cassie she snaps, completely sober, to teach him a lesson. YAS Cassie. Her quest for vengeance has taken a huge toll on her life, though. Her relationship with her parents is terrible and she threw away a chance at a highly successful medical career. To talk more about the plot would be doing a disservice because just with movies like Gone Girl (2014) – the less you know, the better.

But it’s more than just the story, there is so much more to marvel over. There are things I rarely pay attention to in most movies such as soundtrack and cinematography, but it’s impossible to ignore here. There’s a harrowing version of Britney Spears’ Toxic that gave me actual goosebumps, and every single shot looks like it was set up to be used for a poster. It’s just stunning. I didn’t know what to expect at all and I think that helped too.

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Best Bit: This would change on a daily basis, but the ending is the bit that sticks out the most to me. I know it’s been one of the few things that others have found fault in, but when my hopes were dashed and my jaw had been on the floor for many minutes, what happened at the wedding just blew me away.

Worst Bit: I’ll be as vague as I can but the bedroom scene at the bachelor party. I don’t remember feeling as awful as I did in that moment when watching any other movie.

Fun Trivia: The title is a reference to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who was convicted of sexual assault in 2016. Despite his conviction, he was referred to by some as a “Promising Young Man.”

My Rating: 5 out of 5 notebooks, and don’t you ever do something that leads to your name being inside one of them.

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Movie Reviews

What I Watched: December 2020

Happy New Year! I swear it was Christmas Eve, I blinked, and then it was 2021. I’ve loved having all this time to spend with my little girl but crickey I’m tired! I’ve been flaked out every evening so I’ve watched hardly any movies and blogged even less. Next week I’ll be cracking on with some reviews that have been sitting in draft, as well as compiling my best and worst movies of the year lists. Exciting! For now though, I’m putting together my usual monthly round-up of everything I’ve watched in the last month.

what-i-watched-superintelligence

Superintelligence (2020)

I was ready to enjoy this one, despite James Corden’s voice trying to ruin it. This movie just doesn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be, though. It wasn’t very funny, and tries to be all serious towards the end, by which point my interest had been lost all together. I’ll forever be here for Melissa McCarthy despite it however!

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Run (2020)

My dumb ass completely forgot about this movie. I completely confused it with something entirely unrelated. That’s probably not a good sign but I promise, it’s a great flick! A young girl suffering from a number of illnesses and is also reliant on a wheelchair begins to suspect that her Mother is lying to her about her ailments. Sarah Paulson never fails to deliver.

what-i-watched-freaky

Freaky (2020)

I was so mad that the UK went into Lockdown 2 just before Freaky got released (of course, I know a worldwide pandemic is a more serious issue but humour me), this is one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I realise now it takes a lot of inspiration from other slasher movies and as someone who could probably count on 1 hand the number of movies like that I’ve seen, a lot was lost on me. Still a lot of fun and so much gorier than I expected.

what-i-watched-hillbilly-elegy

Hillbilly Elegy (2020)

So, everyone who watched this hated it, or so it seems. I went in with low expectations but do you know what? Ii thought it was good. It’s a sad story and it’s quite choppy but I was so invested in Gabriel Basso’s character (if we get a Dexter prequel can he PLEASE play Dexter?) that I was kind of hooked. It’s not a movie I’m ever going to want to watch again probably, but I don’t think it was bad at all. Reminded me a little of Beautiful Boy (2018) for the same reasons.

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Ava (2020)

I’ll admit that I only put this on to watch whilst doing chores, I knew it was never going to be a masterpiece. But UGH, how can a spy movie be so damn boring? What an absolute waste of that cast!

what-i-watched-nativity

Nativity! (2009)

I re-watch this almost every December, it’s one of my favourite Christmas movies. It’s set in a city really close to me too so it’s always felt extra special to me.

The Prom (2020)Full review hereĀ 

what-i-watched-sound-of-metal

Sound of Metal (2019)

I’m kicking myself for not getting a full post out for this movie. It was a little too slow for me to truly love it, but I can’t deny how amazing Riz Ahmed is. He plays a musician who loses his hearing and the sound team behind this movie are absolute geniuses. The final scene is so beautiful I sat through the entire credits just thinking about it.

Songbird (2020)Full review here

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Full review here

what-i-watched-wild-mountain-thyme

Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)

Thanks, Twitter. I saw so many tweets blasting this movie that I had to see it for myself to find out if it was that bad. It’s…bizarre. A tiny little Irish romance story weirdly acted by a star-studded cast with one of the most absurd plot twists/confessions I’ve ever seen. I’m contemplating making a bee-related movie list now, starting with this and Jupiter Ascending (2015).

what-i-watched-promising-young-woman

Promising Young Woman (2020)

I’m staying quiet for now because I’m already working on a review for this but let me say this. BELIEVE THE HYPE. Carey Mulligan is a goddess.

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

Another one I’m still writing a full review for. I was cynical about the praise, I’ll be honest. We all love Chadwick Boseman but I wondered if people were hyping his performance because devastatingly, it’s his last but he deserves all the praise in the world here. Viola Davis is equally stunning but plays a much smaller role than I expected.

what-i-watched-soul

Soul (2020)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m planning a full post for this too. It is, of course, an excellent movie. It didn’t grab me as much as Inside Out (2015) did – but only Pixar can create something so meaningful and deep about our very reason for existing, and disguise it as a fun family movie.

what-i-watched-death-to-2020

Death to 2020 (2020)

I chose a very fitting movie to be my last watch of the year, I think. By the creators of Black Mirror, this is sort of a documentary of the year but with fictional characters. Some jokes are laugh-out-loud hilarious and others don’t really land at all, but it’s worth a watch just as a reminder of how batshit crazy this year has been.

Finally – I’m sorry I haven’t been actively reading and commenting on everyone else’s posts this last week and a half. Tomorrow night I’m going to watch my first movie of 2021 and catch up with my new blanket-hoodie and a glass of wine!

Movie Reviews

Songbird (2020)

songbird-movie-poster-review-2020Director: Adam Mason

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Romance

Runtime: 84 Minutes

Main Cast: K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser, Demi Moore, Jenna Ortega

Plot: The year is 2024, and the world is suffering with COVID-23. Nico (K.J. Apa) is one of the very few who are immune, and works as a courier. When the situation turns dire, he turns to desperate measures to help his girlfriend Sara (Sofia Carson) escape.

My Thoughts: Are we ready for a COVID-related disaster movie? Not really, let’s be honest. Songbird didn’t necessarily want to be the best, but it did want to be first. Sadly there’s a little horror movie called Host (2020) which already owns that title. I’m a sucker for bad movies though, don’t ask me why, and with the situation in the UK what it is I thought it might be nice to escape to a fictional Earth where things are somehow worse, to make me feel better. It achieved that at least, and as much as it wasn’t a good movie, Songbird entertained me enough.

Thing is, when you’re living in a pandemic, you know the ins and outs. So a fictional movie isn’t going to pull the wool over your eyes. COVID-23 is so bad that you’ll actually be shot on sight for leaving your home. Those who are immune have jobs as couriers delivering packages to the rich. The whole time I was asking, yeah but how to people get groceries?! These people have fridges full of alcohol, where are they getting it from? The real villain here though isn’t the virus, it’s the Head of Sanitization. Get ready for the most over-the-top villain you’ve ever seen. I actually expected him to burst into song at one point, it was so corny.

Silliness aside though, give it a few years and we’ll probably have a better COVID movie, like it or not. Think Contagion (2011), but probably starring Dwayne Johnson. Songbird was just clearly thrown together as quickly as possible. There’s some good stuff there, I was intrigued by the Q-Zone. Basically, you get tested every day through an app on your phone and if you test positive, the hazmats take you away to this Q-Zone. We never even got to see it though apart from a few aerial shots from a distance. It’s not a total disaster, but only watch it if you’re up for having a bit of a laugh with it.

songbird-2020-michael-bay-first-covid-movie

Best Bit: Forget the main love story, I was there for Alexandra Daddario. She instantly makes any terrible movie a whole lot better. Although, she does have in her possession the most useless face mask in history…

Worst Bit: Finally getting around to writing your review for this movie on the same night the Prime Minister informs us of a new, dangerous COVID strain – paving for the way for Lockdown 3, whilst the rest of the world slowly cuts off our tiny, infested island. Sigh.

Fun Trivia: SAG-AFTRA issued a “Do not work” order on Songbird, telling its members to refuse any work on the film.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 Whopper burgers. RIP, Burger King…

songbird-movie-2020-rip-burger-king

Movie Reviews

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

wonder-woman-1984-poster-reviewDirector: Patty Jenkins

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Runtime: 151 Minutes

Main Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Gabriella Wilde, Lilly Aspell, Kristoffer Polaha

Plot: It’s now 1984, Diana (Gal Gadot) is still mourning Steve (Chris Pine) and everything changes when she happens to befriend Barbara (Kristen Wiig), her clumsy work colleague tasked with identifying a mysterious artifact.

My Thoughts: As much as I want to gush about how much I loved this movie, I’m keeping my review SPOILER FREE. The UK somehow got it earlier than a lot of countries (which never happens), and there are so few cinemas actually open that I feel incredibly lucky to have watched it on release night so I’m not spoiling anything until my top 10 of the year list, which this will definitely be a part of. I enjoyed Wonder Woman (2017) just fine but the final act killed my buzz a little, but that wasn’t the case with this sequel. It’s a long movie but the time whizzes by and I really didn’t want it to end. It’s been wonderful to have the time to watch more indie movies this year but nothing beats walking into that cinema for the year’s biggest blockbuster.

Gal Gadot is quite simply breath taking in every sense of the word. We don’t get to see Wonder Woman in costume an awful lot but it makes those action moments stand out even further, and it’s clear the team behind Diana’s outfits were having a blast. Diana’s moments with Steve were adorable, and I’ve always been a fan of those ‘fish out of water’ scenes so watching Steve be fascinated by everything the 80’s has to offer was so funny. I thought Kristen Wiig was an odd casting choice when I saw the first trailer but she’s perfect in the role of Barbara and watching her character change from the ditzy, fun-loving work colleague to the cold, bitter villain she becomes was great. Pedro Pascal absolutely steals the show whenever he’s on screen, though. His character is up there with my favourite comic-villains of all time.

I’m not sure what more I can say without getting into spoiler-ish territory, so I’ll finish here by telling you that I enjoyed Wonder Woman 1984 much more than I thought I would. We get to see more of Diana’s will and daring from when she was a child, we get some thrilling action shots, a beautiful romance story and some laughs along the way. What more can you really ask for?

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Best Bit: Whenever Diana’s theme music kicked in my heart started racing. My favourite scene was the car chase in Egypt, there’s clips of it in the trailer of course but the actual full scene is stunning.

Worst Bit: I have a few problems related to the artifact that I can’t talk about yet and they’re probably me just nit-picking, but other than that the only thing I didn’t like was when Barbara turned full Cheetah. I’m not saying that the release of the movie Cats (2019) is what caused the world to fall apart but…they both happened at the same time and I’d like to not be reminded of that!

Fun Trivia: The role of Cheetah was first offered to Emma Stone but she declined. The role was then offered to Kristen Wiig, Patty Jenkins’s first choice.

My Rating: 4 and a half fanny packs (they’re called bum bags in the UK!) which not even Chris Pine can make look sexy.

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