Movie Reviews

I’m Your Man (2021)

im-your-man-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Maria Schrader

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Main Cast: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw, Annika Meier, Jürgen Tarrach, Wolfgang Hübsch

Plot: In order to obtain the funds needed to continue her studies, Scientist Alma (Maren Eggert) agrees to take part in an extraordinary three-week experiment. She must live with a humanoid robot named Tom (Dan Stevens) with artificial intelligence designed to be Alma’s ideal partner.

My Thoughts: I was trying to think about how best to describe this movie, and I landed on Black Mirror episode meets Married at First Sight, minus the creepiness and drama. That’s not really doing it justice though, to be honest. After watching (and loving) the American remake of The Guilty earlier this month without having watched the original, I feel like I’m reclaiming a bit of film blogger karma by watching I’m Your Man. It’s a German movie, and yes, even Dan Stevens speaks German! I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a remake of it soon, either.

I’m Your Man is a quiet and thoughtful movie, which wasn’t what I originally expected, but then I had to remind myself that not all movies have that Hollywood ‘loudness’ to them, and I really got into it eventually. Alma is a great character, she’s amazingly talented but also hurt, and struggles to even accept Tom as anything other than a robot, and pushes him away at every opportunity. Tom of course is learning all the time and only knows to follow algorithms to try and please Alma, leading to quite a few hilarious situations. All I’m saying is, if Dan Stevens wants to come and tidy my house in 11 minutes he’s more than welcome!

I’ve always had a fascination for AI and I wanted to delve so much deeper into the science and technology behind this movie. It was briefly mentioned about the ethics behind these robots, whether they should have human rights and so on, and I wanted to know more! I guess really I need to find myself a good TV show on the subject to get really stuck in to. Anyway – if you haven’t heard of this movie until now I highly recommend it!

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Best Bit: I can’t pick between Tom talking to Alma’s ex about the size of the painting and his car, or when Alma introduced Tom to a colleague at a party and Tom went full robot on him. There were so many subtle funny moments in this movie.

Worst Bit: This is the all-singing, all-dancing Hollywood fan in me but the ending left me feeling a bit deflated. It’s an ending I’ll appreciate more as time goes on and I think about it, but I can’t get past my initial disappointment. It felt rushed more than anything.

Fun Trivia: Official submission of Germany for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category of the 94th Academy Awards in 2022.

My Rating: 3 and a half takeaway coffees that Dan Stevens will order for you and then wait in the pouring rain till you’re done with work.

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Movie Reviews

The Guilty (2021)

the-guilty-2021-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Antoine Fuqua

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime

Runtime: 91 Minutes

Main Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riley Keough, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Christina Vidal, Eli Goree, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Dano, Bill Burr

Plot: Joe Baylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) has been demoted to a call dispatch desk after an incident. He’s coming up towards the end of his shift when a call comes in from a woman who has been kidnapped.

My Thoughts: I only learnt about The Guilty around 5-6 weeks ago but I’ve been desperate to see it ever since. I’m a huge fan of Jake Gyllenhaal and I heard the movie being compared with Tom Hardy’s Locke (2013) which I found fascinating, so I’ve been counting down the days! I find these one-location movies to be quite spectacular. They could quite easily be boring so a lot of tension is needed to keep the tempo, and The Guilty has tension by the bucket-load!

It’s a remake of a Danish movie from 2018 by the same name, and I’ve heard the original is far superior. You’ll have to forgive me for not knowing about it sooner but I guess not being able to compare greatly helped my enjoyment of this remake, because I loved it! Well, as much as you can enjoy an hour and a half of being stressed beyond belief, that is. Joe isn’t a likeable character, he’s clearly done something wrong to have been assigned to this desk in the first place, he’s separated from his wife, and he’s hostile towards his colleagues. But his dedication to the job and wanting to do the right thing is admirable.

So, I’ll hold up my hands and promise to watch the original, but for now I have to say, The Guilty was everything I wanted it to be and more. I loved pretty much every second, I didn’t want to pause it for anything, I just needed to know what was going to happen next!

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Best Bit: I mean, the reality is shocking but watching Joe shout at the cyclist calling for help and repeatedly hanging up on him made me laugh so hard and it was the perfect way to ease the tension just a little!

Worst Bit: The only thing I can really find to complain about was the ending. It was good to finally find out what happened in the events leading up to that fateful night on call, but at the end of the day it didn’t really add anything to the story, really. Maybe that’s one part that’s done a lot better in the original, I’ll have to find out for myself.

Fun Trivia: Because someone near director Antoine Fuqua tested positive for Covid-19 mere days before the film began shooting, he had to isolate. Faqua directed the entire film from a van with monitors rather than on the soundstage with the actors.

My Rating: 4 and a half inhalers that I almost needed myself whilst watching the last few scenes of this movie.

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Movie Reviews

No Time to Die (2021)

no-time-to-die-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Runtime: 163 Minutes

Main Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Wishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Christoph Waltz

Plot: James Bond (Daniel Craig) has left active service and is trying to enjoy a peaceful life, a dream short-lived when his old friend Felix (Jeffrey Wright) shows up asking for his help. Bond’s mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist becomes more and more complicated by the minute.

My Thoughts: It actually feels quite surreal to be writing about No Time to Die. It’s been a full two years of watching the trailer and after the movie’s release got pushed back time and time again, it’s finally here and the cinemas are full. It’s wonderful! I’m not going to pretend to be a Bond fan, I’ve seen all of the Daniel Craig Bond movies but only once. I think they’re alright! I enjoy them plenty but it’s not a franchise I get excited about. Still, this last weekend has seen cinemas fuller than ever, I didn’t even get close to my usual parking spot right opposite the front door!

I wish I’d at least made an effort to rewatch Spectre (2015) before the last installment because there are a lot of ties to that movie that I completely forgot about. Still, I enjoyed No Time to Die, despite its almost 3 hours runtime that was unnecessary. The action scenes were as great as you would expect them to be, and despite Daniel Craig’s age he’s still completely believable as the agile Bond, and rocks a suit just as well as he always has. Best dressed has to be awarded to Ana de Armas though, hands down!

The ending was bittersweet, I have to say. It was an ending that I expected, and it was well executed for sure (I didn’t think I would be shedding tears over a Bond flick) but it felt a bit deflating at the same time, if that makes sense. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. Who is going to play the next Bond? I’m going to make an effort to rewatch the latest movies, and who knows, maybe I’ll find myself loving the franchise after all.

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Best Bit: I think we all fell in love with the amazing duo of Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas in Knives Out (2019) so it was so great to see them together again on the big screen! Ana didn’t get nearly as much screen time as she deserved. (If my bestie and cinema buddy Steph were here though she would have made me mention Bond’s final outfit choice and how much I appreciated it!)

Worst Bit: I was here for the action, I was NOT here for 3 jump scares within the first half an hour! At least I fared better than the woman to my right who almost knocked my drink out of my hand with how much she jumped at one part…

Fun Trivia: Reportedly, James Bond actor Daniel Craig personally hand-picked Cuban actress Ana de Armas to play Paloma in this Bond movie, after working with her on Knives Out (2019), which first released about only four months before No Time to Die was originally meant to release.

My Rating: 3 and a half sphynx cats which come with fur these days!

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Movie Reviews

What I Watched: September 2021

Spooky season is upon us! I’m a bit all over the place these last two weeks. Furlough has come to an end in the UK and I’m back to work full time, which is great to be honest because I’ve really missed having a full wage at the end of the month. I’m also back in the office one day a week (for now) as of today so that’s pretty cool! I’m starting to feel like a normal person again. Anyway, September sucked for new releases and thankfully October is looking much better. It gave me the time to catch up on a few 2021 movies I’d missed though, so it’s not all bad.

You know the drill by now, I’m here with a few words on all the movies I watched last month but didn’t find the time to write a full review for.

what-i-watched-september-hes-all-that

He’s All That (2021) – Wow, I actually forgot this movie existed until I loaded up my film diary to remind me what I watched. Did you know there’s a scene in He’s All That where one of the characters is doing karaoke and because of the green screen their arm disappears for a second? It came up on my Twitter feed and it’s the only thing I remember from the whole movie and that’s all you need to know.

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Vacation Friends (2021) – Lil Rel Howery has been in everything this year, I swear. I barely knew who he was until the start of 2021 and now he’s one of my favourite comedic actors. This movie, also starring John Cena sounds absolutely awful on paper but it’s actually pretty decent thanks to the chemistry involved. I regret only half-watching it whilst doing chores so I’m going to rewatch it soon.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Full Review

what-i-watched-september-wrong-turn

Wrong Turn (2021) – This was awful. I had no idea it was part of a franchise but Netflix was throwing it in my face so often I watched it in the hopes it would stop. Terrible characters, some fun gory deaths but a dull plot and I very almost gave up and turned it off.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021)Full Review

Fargo (1996)Film & Wine Club Review

what-i-watched-september-green-knight

The Green Knight (2021) – The hype got me so excited to see this! I was gutted when the UK release got shelved for a while. It’s definitely one of those arty movies that feels like style is favoured over substance but I was kept interested throughout and any movie time spent watching Dev Patel is good movie time.

Malignant (2021)Full Review

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Best Sellers (2021) – What an adorable little movie! Once I knew the leads were Aubrey Plaza and Michael Caine I didn’t care what the plot was, I was in. Aubrey’s character runs a failing publishing company and Michael Caine plays a once great author roped into writing another book. It didn’t turn out to be as amazing as I would have hoped but it was still really enjoyable and had some stellar moments. Aubrey Plaza really knows how to yell at someone!

Fear of Rain (2021)Full Review

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People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan (2021) – I’d never heard of this BBC show until my brother explained it to me, I saw the trailers for the movie and genuinely thought Kurupt FM were a musical act I just wasn’t cool enough to know about. I’ve since watched a few episodes and it’s really funny. I don’t know how well British comedy holds up overseas but if you’ve watched and enjoyed The Inbetweeners then you’ll like this too. I’m told there are inside jokes that are funnier when you’ve seen the whole show but it’s definitely not required to enjoy the movie.

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The Many Saints of Newark (2021) – I was clearly having a dumb week because the very next day I went to see this at the cinema. I’d never heard of it, I hadn’t seen a single trailer but like I mentioned, September was awfully quiet at the cinema and it was this or nothing, basically. Despite not being a fan of gangster movies I quite enjoyed this, but I was hoping the questions that I raised would be answered by the end and they weren’t. Turns out this is a prequel to the hugely popular show The Sopranos…which I’ve never seen. Doh.

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The Starling (2021) – If you can get past the awful CGI bird and the first 10 minutes of this movie, the rest isn’t actually that bad. It desperately wants to be an Oscar movie and falls well short of the mark, but it wasn’t as melodramatic as I first thought. Melissa McCarthy is someone I always enjoy watching, and I’m a huge fan of Chris O’Dowd. For someone who plays comedy almost exclusively, he does an amazing job here.

I also watched Smashed (2012), Luce (2019), and Paradise (2013) as part of Mettel Ray’s Hidden Gems Challenge. September was Octavia Spencer month, and you can check out my post here.

TV wise, I’m still watching Season 2 of Ted Lasso although I’m 2 episodes behind right now. I’m loving this season just as much as the last one, but oh my goodness Nate is irritating me. I was so happy he got the confidence boost he needed but he’s getting close to irredeemable for me now. The reason I’m behind is because I finally gave into the hype of Squid Game, and everything else got put on hold. That show really is as good as everyone is saying! I get the feeling we’re going to see a lot of those tracksuits around Halloween this year. I also gave the first episode of Midnight Mass a try but it hasn’t gripped me like I hoped it would. Does it get better?

Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Octavia Spencer

September has been a strange month for movie watching, and I hate to say I lost my passion for blogging a little too, but I’ve come so far in this challenge that there’s just no way I’m going to give up now. I’m blaming the lack of new movies at the cinema right now which hopefully is going to pick up again in October. If you aren’t familiar with Hidden Gems, it’s a challenge created by Mettel Ray, where you pick an actor or actress for each month of the year, pick 3 movies of theirs you haven’t seen yet and give them a watch in the hopes of finding a gem. This month is dedicated to Octavia Spencer!

Why Octavia Spencer?

I feel like Octavia Spencer was my underdog choice for the challenge. Without checking I think I’ve seen quite a few movies that she’s starred in, but almost always in a minor role. She lights up the screen in whatever movie she’s in though and has such a comforting presence, I’m always glad to see her. And that’s why I chose her, I wanted to find out if there were movies out there I didn’t know of where she played a bigger role.

Statistics

It’s definitely easier using IMDB for the numbers, Letterboxd is great for tracking what I’ve watched but the filmographies contain too many limited series, unreleased movies and shorts that are difficult to sift through. So, IMDB has 76 feature-length movies listed under Octavia Spencer’s name. Of those, I’ve seen 20, which I guess isn’t so bad. Some of my favourites include Hidden Figures, The Help, Ma and Fruitvale Station (the latter is one I watched for another Hidden Gems pick!)

I’ve also seen The Shape of Water, Zootopia, Snowpiercer, Spider-Man, Onward, Gifted, Instant Family, The Witches, Dolittle, Bad Santa, Dinner for Schmucks, Thunder Force, Miss Congeniality 2, Bad Santa 2, Superintelligence and The Nines.

This was the moment I realised I’d seen most movies where Octavia played a lead role, and so my 3 choices ended up being Smashed (2012), Luce (2019) and Paradise (2013).

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Smashed (2012)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul are the leads in this drama about alcoholism and becoming sober. Octavia Spencer plays a small role as Jenny, a woman Winstead’s character meets at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It’s a minor role for Spencer but she’s the perfect woman for the job, being both sympathetic but stern.

I enjoyed this movie about as much as one can enjoy watching alcohol ruin a life. Smashed has a lot of heart, an interesting story and some stellar acting, but it was missing the spark needed to elevate it to a higher level. It’s very generic as far as movies about addiction go. I’m glad I watched it, though!

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Luce (2019)

Now here we have a movie with a bigger role for Octavia Spencer. There are arguably two leads in Luce. Kelvin Harrison Jr. who plays Luce, born in war-torn Eritrea and adopted in the USA, an all-star school athlete and accomplished speaker, who has animosity towards one his teachers. That teacher is Harriet Wilson, played by Octavia Spencer, who got Luce’s friend kicked off the running team and has multiple concerns about Luce which she shares with Luce’s parents.

This movie has so many layers, I think it takes two viewings to really wrap your head around it. It’s a complete mind game between Luce and Harriet and I kept swapping my mind back and forth between who’s side I was on. To begin with, I was completely on Luce’s side. Then we got to learn more about Harriet and her situation at home and I fully empathised with her. By the end of it I didn’t have a clue who to root for.

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Paradise (2013)

What, and I repeat WHAT, is this movie? I had to triple check I had the right year for it because everything about Paradise screams early 00’s. It’s about a young girl raised in an extremely religious town who suffered horrific burns over her entire body as a result of a plane crash, and has lost her faith in God as a result. That sounds like it’s going to be a powerful drama, doesn’t it? That’s where you’re wrong, because what happens next is she uses her settlement money to run away and party in Las Vegas with Octavia Spencer and Russell Brand.

If anything, this movie toes that line of ‘so bad it’s good’. The first half at least is a barrel of laughs, if you can see past the racism that wouldn’t be tolerated in movies nowadays (or in 2013 I would have thought?!). The second half eases on the humour and tries to be a more serious movie and that’s where it really fails. It’s hard to believe Paradise is directed by the same person as Juno!

Final Thoughts

No gem this month, although once I started to look through Octavia Spencer’s filmography I could almost guess that would be the case, I think I’ve seen her greatest movies already, unless there’s something still hidden you can recommend me? Next month is Emily Blunt, and I’m feeling quietly optimistic there’s a gem to be found there.