Let It Snow (2019)

let-it-snow-netflix-2019-movie-reviewDirector: Luke Snellin

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Runtime: 92 Minutes

Main Cast: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Matthew Noszka, Jacob Batalon, Isabela Moner, Joan Cusack, Miles Robbins

Plot: On Christmas Eve, a series of circumstances and events, as well as a snowstorm, brings together a group of teenagers in a diner.

My Thoughts: Every Friday, Netflix is releasing a new Christmas movie for us to enjoy. They’re all going to be that ‘Hallmark Channel’ kind of quality but hey – isn’t that what Christmas is all about? I for one can’t wait, and have promptly cleared all of my Friday nights from now till the big day! Let It Snow is Netflix’s contribution to the Love Actually category, in where all these characters find their stories intertwined by the time the credits roll. It’s also one of the best (worst?) movies I’ve seen for finding yourself having to pause and say ‘I know him/her from something!’. I swear I stopped the movie at least 6 times in the first 10 minutes.

By far the most interesting story here for me was Stuart and Julie (played by Shameik Moore and Isabela Merced). Stuart’s a famous musician and meets Julie on a stranded train where he mistakes her for a fan. She, in fact, couldn’t care less who he is and is struggling with deciding whether to accept a scholarship and leave her sick mother behind. It’s a cheesy story but they both have such great chemistry, and the other stories fell to the wayside a little.

So no, it’s no Love Actually, but it’s far better than the other copycats out there, and even if it’s a little too silly for you, the soundtrack makes it worth your time, too. Who doesn’t love Whole of the Moon by The Waterboys? And if I still haven’t sold it to you, let me tell you this. Bad Janet is in it! Like, almost literally Bad Janet. I watched Let It Snow straight after catching the latest episode of The Good Place and thought I was tripping when she showed up.

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Best Bit: Tobin turns up fairly early in the movie, and I KNEW I knew him from somewhere, so much that I refused to look it up for ages. I was practically shouting at my husband, I can picture him now, he’s singing, he’s really well dressed, why can’t I work out what he was in?! Oh, he’s Ben in Disney’s Descendants. That character I have an embarrassing crush on. Wait, I put this in ‘Best Bit’? Whoops.

Worst Bit: Joan Cusack plays ‘Tin Foil Woman’, a woman driving a truck whilst covered in tin foil, dishing out stellar advice whether it was asked for or not. Husband claimed early on that she wouldn’t be real and we were both a little disappointed that his theory didn’t turn out to be true.

Fun Trivia: The movie “Let It Snow” is an adaptation of the book by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.

My Rating: 3 and a half waffles – and on that note, is there a waffle house in existence that sells those Waffle Quaffles? Because damn, they looked tasty.

let-it-snow-2019-netflix-waffles

Blind Spot Series: Chicago (2002)

chicago-movie-review-poster-2002Director: Rob Marshall

Genre: Musical, Drama, Crime

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, Christine Baranski, John C. Reilly, Taye Diggs, Colm Feore, Chita Rivera

Plot: Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly find themselves on death row after committing murder. Roxie is the newcomer and desperately tries to get into Velma’s good books, until she finds herself in the spotlight of attorney Billy Flynn.

My Thoughts: YES. So much yes for this movie! When I watched La La Land I was hooked from that opening song and the same thing happened to me with Chicago. Why have I avoided musicals for so long when I grew up on the Disney classics? I guess sometimes it can be a little cringy to just suddenly burst into song during a serious moment, but the musical numbers in Chicago don’t work that way, instead, they’re stand-alone performances that tie in with whatever is currently happening, which is super effective.

Renée Zellweger is fantastic in this, starting out as a meek young girl dreaming of fame and naive to her surroundings, to quickly rising to fame and knowing how to make a stand for herself. Catherine Zeta-Jones is equally as stunning to watch, and Queen Latifah has her own raunchy number which I loved. Literally, I am struggling to form actual sentences here, because I enjoyed it so much. I guess in a way, none of these characters are likable, but they’re so much fun to watch.

I guess the only thing that stops me from giving Chicago full marks is that a lot of the songs, whilst fun at the time, aren’t catchy enough to stick in my memory. I can sing (badly) perhaps 5 to you from memory but there were so many more! Who knows, maybe a few plays of the soundtrack on my way to work will fix that for me.

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Best Bit: Cell Block Tango. It was the only song I’d actually heard of before watching it and oh boy it did not disappoint. Even my husband at one point turned around from his computer screen to sing ‘HE HAD IT COMING’. Song wise, that was my favourite, but We Both Reached For The Gun was visually the best, with the way that Roxie was a puppet and the media were all on strings. It was so clever.

Worst Bit: I’m equal parts gutted for and annoyed by Roxie’s husband. On one part, I just feel desperately sorry for him, he loved Roxie with every ounce of his being and she couldn’t care less. On the other hand, how bloody naive could he be? I wanted to shake him, and then hug him.

Fun Trivia: In the beginning of the scene introducing Mama Morton to the new inmates, Roxie Hart had a brief conversation with a woman smoking a cigarette. That character was played by long-time Broadway actress Chita Rivera who portrayed Velma Kelly in the original 1975 production of “Chicago”.

My Rating: 4 and a half tap dancing shoes which took Richard Gere 3 months to master the use of, according to IMDB!

chicago-richard-gere-tap-dancing

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

Wounds (2019)

wounds-movie-review-2019-netflixDirector: Babak Anvari

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Runtime: 95 Minutes

Main Cast: Armie Hammer, Dakota Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Karl Glusman, Brad William Henke, Kerry Cahill

Plot: Will is an alcoholic bartender dealing with a failing relationship. One night in the bar a fight breaks out which turns ugly, and in the scuffle some College kids leave a mobile phone behind. Will takes the phone home but is horrified by what he finds on there.

My Thoughts: It took me longer to write that plot description than it did to write the rest of this post because quite frankly, I have no idea what Wounds is even about. This is what happens when I take a break from blogging – I fall out of the loop on what movies I should be avoiding like the plague, and I end up watching crap. It sounded promising though, and I kind of enjoyed the start of the movie. Armie Hammer is always fun to watch, and I liked the banter between his character and Zazie Beetz’s.

This is just one of those movies where so many details and plot points just seem to be meaningless. As fun as she was, Zazie’s character served no purpose. Dakota Johnson was seriously underused, too. When I got towards the end of the movie, I paused to see how long was left and saw it was less than 10 minutes. You know what these mystery movies are like, sometimes nothing makes sense until those last few minutes and then bam! Clarity. Nope, just weird grossness.

Netflix movies are always a bit hit and miss, and normally even with movies I didn’t enjoy I would still recommend that you give them a go and form your own opinion, but I couldn’t do that to you this time. Steer clear from Wounds, folks!

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Best Bit: I actually can’t think of a single great moment, but the only time I really jumped and felt creeped out was when Will was driving, and picked up that phone just to look down and see his arm covered in bugs. It’s making me a little bit itchy just thinking about it.

Worst Bit: That ending was…ugh. I mean, it’s an ending I won’t forget in a long time, and is it better to be remembered as bad than it is to just be forgotten? I’m not sure…

Fun Trivia: Based upon the horror novella, The Visible Filth, by Nathan Ballingrud.

My Rating: 1 out of 5 cockroaches, and if you’re seeing them regularly at work and at home, maybe you should tell someone, yeah?

wounds-2019-netflix-movie-cockroaches

Gemini Man (2019)

gemini-man-2019-movie-review-posterDirector: Ang Lee

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Douglas Hodge, Ralph Brown, Linda Emond, Ilia Volok, E.J. Bonilla

Plot: Henry Brogan is the best hitman his Government has, but as he’s getting older, the job is eating away at him, and he retires. He discovers his last target wasn’t who he was told he was however, and now he’s on the run whilst also trying to uncover the truth.

My Thoughts: I wanted to start this section with a summary of how Will Smith’s movies have been received terribly as of late, but Rotten Tomatoes gave me something more interesting to mull over, check this out:
Gemini Man – Tomatometer (25%) Audience Rating (84%)
Bright – Tomatometer (28%) Audience Rating (84%)
Aladdin – Tomatometer (57%) Audience Rating (94%)
Turns out only the critics seem to hate Will Smith movies after all! I’ve always liked Will Smith, I tend to put him in the same category in my mind as Dwayne Johnson. When I watch their movies I’m not expecting a masterpiece, but I know I’ll be entertained.

I didn’t enjoy Gemini Man as much as I wanted to, but I have to blame a lot of that on the trailer, which has been heavily pushed in the UK for months now. It honestly shows off the entire plot, and for a movie thin on plot to begin with, it didn’t leave much to enjoy when it came to going to the cinema. There are some breathtaking action sequences, sure, but the rest felt mostly like filler. I think most would enjoy this more if they went in blind.

At the end of the day, although I was disappointed that there weren’t any big surprises along the way, the cast and the action was enough to keep me happy for the runtime and that was enough for me on a Sunday evening.

gemini-man-2019-will-smith-cgi-technology

Best Bit: One good thing to come from Gemini Man is a showcase of how fast computer technology is moving. Remember in Rogue One, how obviously CGI’d Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing were? I had no idea, but the younger Will Smith was created in the same way. I thought it was the de-aging technology that was used in Captain Marvel but no, and the difference in quality in just 3 years is quite baffling!

Worst Bit: *SPOILERY SECTION* So perhaps I lied when I said the whole plot was in the trailer. There’s a little twist at the end, but it’s so obvious that it’s coming that it ended up being quite a comical moment. Know what would have been a good twist? Original Will Smith finding out that he was a clone, too! Hollywood, sign me up, yo.

Fun Trivia: From 2003 to 2010 Nicolas Cage was attached to the project. It was finally due to go into production in 2008, but Cage convinced Jerry Bruckheimer to work on the live-action remake The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) instead.
I don’t know whether to be thankful or gutted after reading this!

My Rating: I heard you like Will Smith, so I put 2 and a half Will Smiths in my blog post about a Will Smith movie starring Will Smith…

gemini-man-2019-heard-you-like-will-smith

What I Watched: October 2019

Happy November, everyone! The pumpkins have been sweeped away, and after Bonfire Night on the 5th I’ll be officially in Christmas mode! Is it too early to watch Love Actually? Anyway – I’ve been on hiatus for a couple of weeks while I attempt to get my personal life together. I can’t say that was hugely successful and Halloween was a bit of a disaster, but my little girl had a great night and got to eat cake right before bedtime so that’s all that counts!

I miss the blog though – and these coming months are the most exciting for a movie fan so I couldn’t keep myself away for any longer. I’ve been dabbling in TV this month, attempting to catch up on Mr. Robot (I’m almost done with Season 3), fully catching up on The Good Place (new episode tonight though, yay!), starting to watch Living with Yourself (not sure how to feel about it yet) and giving 13 Reasons Why Season 3 a chance to redeem itself (actually seems quite good so far).

Despite everything, I still caught 11 movies this month, which isn’t half bad. Here’s what I saw:

watched-october-star-wars-empire-strikes-back

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – Live in Concert

Okay, so this was actually my present for my Husband for his 30th Birthday. We went to the Arena in Birmingham where they showed The Empire Strikes Back, with a live concert on stage playing all the instrumentals. It’s something that wouldn’t have interested me at all a few years ago, but watching/listening to an orchestra play the Imperial March right in front of you? Literally breath-taking, and I’m so glad we went!

watched-october-in-the-shadow-of-moon

In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)

My brother told me to give this Netflix movie a go, but warned me not to watch the trailer beforehand, and I’m so glad I listened to him! The movie is a strange Sci-Fi/Detective crossover kind of movie, and it was interesting to put together the pieces. I worked out the twist mere seconds before it’s reveal but I think that’s how it was intended. It might not make anyone’s ‘Best of’ list but you can pick a lot worse from Netflix’s selection right now.

watched-october-four-lions

Four Lions (2010)

My local cinema offered a preview of The Day Shall Come last month, directed by Christopher Morris, better known for his comedy Four Lions starring Riz Ahmed as a terrorist. I ended up missing the new movie but I still watched Four Lions. It’s dark humour at it’s finest for sure – one of those movies where you find yourself feeling guilty as hell for lying. I’ll tell you one thing though, Riz Ahmed is brilliant. He’s played an entirely different role in every movie I’ve seen him in!

watched-october-fractured-netflix

Fractured (2019)

I’m going to try and do a full review of this at some point, if only because judging by the reviews I’ve read, I’m the only person out here who loved it. I love a twisty movie that allows you to think you’ve worked it out, only to pull the rug from under your feet. Fractured kept me guessing and changing my mind right up till the very last moment, and that final shot still makes me shudder just thinking about it. Don’t let the reviews put you off, and make your own mind up.

watched-october-maleficent-mistress-of-evil

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

My Mum loved the first Maleficent and was dying to see the sequel at the cinema. In her words, her number one choice turned down her offer, so I was second best. Love you too, Mum! I didn’t get a chance to see the original before going to see Mistress of Evil but a quick narrator-provided recap told me everything I needed to know. Hey, maybe I needed the escape from reality that day but I really enjoyed it! The costumes, in particular, were stunning and I just got myself caught up in the fantasy of it all.

watched-october-dolemite-is-my-name

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Based on the story of real-life legend Rudy May Moore, Eddie Murphy might just be winning some awards this year for Dolemite Is My Name. Rightly so, too. The movie was too slow for me to truly love it but I laughed a lot, and it’s got me on the hunt for the original Dolemite movie, too. Does anyone else find that they just can’t rid themselves of the image of Donkey from Shrek though? It’s a blessing and a curse!

I also watched:

The Babysitter (2017)Full Review
Joker (2019)Full Review
Gemini Man (2019) Review coming this weekend
Wounds (2019)Review coming next week
Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)Review coming soon, hopefully!

Joker (2019)

joker-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Todd Phillips

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 122 Minutes

Main Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Leigh Gill, Josh Pais

Plot: Simple enough, this is the story about how a troubled man called Arthur Fleck descended further into madness and took a name familiar to most, Joker.

My Thoughts: Let’s skip past all the drama and controversy around Joker for this post, shall we? Enough people have covered it far better than I can, anyway.

I wasn’t expecting to love this movie. I hated the last Joaquin Phoenix movie I watched, I’m not a big Batman fan, and whilst I avoided reading too many reviews before I got to see it myself, I kept seeing Joker being compared to Taxi Driver…a classic which I can’t stand! So yep, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Although, enjoy and love are two strange words to use to describe your feelings for Joker, because it’s dark. Hella dark.

In fact, in between feeling uncomfortable, our audience laughed quite a few times during the movie. Not because we’re all sickos who found what Arthur was doing funny, but because the tension was getting so thick we seemed to find that collective nervous laughter was the best way to relieve it a little! I always find that the best bad guys are the characters who are utterly evil, but you can see and sympathise with how they ended up that way. You don’t have to condone their actions at all, but you can understand them.

Noone (in their right mind) thought Thanos’ idea to wipe out 50% of the planet with a click of his fingers was a good act, but we couldn’t help but admit that he had a point, you know? I hope the Academy throw some love this movie’s way, even if it’ll inflate Todd Phillips’ ego even further…maybe we’ll get some more stupid quotes from him!

joker-2019-joaquin-phoenix-put-on-a-happy-face

Best Bit: When Arthur made his appearance on Murray’s show. I felt like I knew how that scene was going to pan out, but it still didn’t prepare me for that moment.

Worst Bit: *BIG SPOILERS* The second we got to see a young Bruce Wayne I thought to myself, if we have to sit through Batman’s goddamn origin story one more time I will scream. WHY do we need to keep seeing this?! We KNOW what happened. It could have been left as a subtle hint, just a glimpse, something off-camera, but no. Let’s make a big deal of it. Again. 

Fun Trivia: The ending of the film where the Joker is in Arkham is meant to be ambiguous as the viewer is given to draw a line about what exactly did happen and did not happen throughout the movie because everything is from Arthur’s perspective. This is further hinted when he says to the doctor “You wouldn’t get it” when he was asked what he finds funny implying that the whole thing was one big joke to him.

My Rating: 4 and a half guns which you should NOT take with you to work if you’ve got a gig pretending to be a clown in a children’s hospital…

joker-2019-childrens-hospital-gun

The Babysitter (2017)

the-babysitter-movie-review-poster-2017Director: McG (no, I didn’t pass out at the keyboard mid-typing…that’s this guy’s name, apparently)

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Runtime: 85 Minutes

Main Cast: Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Robbie Amell, Hana Mae Lee, Bella Thorne, Emily Alyn Lind, Andrew Bachelor, Doug Haley, Leslie Bibb, Ken Marino

Plot: Cole is, without a doubt, a bit of a wimp. His classmates at school would use a much worse term for it, but poor Cole is afraid of everything and is the only kid in school who still has a babysitter. Thankfully, his babysitter just so happens to be super cool and super hot, and one night Cole decides to spy on her after bedtime.

My Thoughts: Last week I watched Ready or Not, the first Samara Weaving movie I’d seen, and I kind of fell in love with her. I mean she’s beautiful, funny, and kicks ass, so who wouldn’t? When I spotted her face on the poster for The Babysitter whilst scrolling through Netflix I knew I needed to watch it, so I went in literally blind, not knowing what the movie was about at all. Whilst it’s not up on that same level as Ready or Not, The Babysitter is definitely a fun watch for the spooky season!

I really felt for Cole. He tries his hardest to stick up for himself, but his home life is hardly desirable. His parents are too focused on saving their failing marriage to give him the attention he deserves. Thankfully, his babysitter, Bee, is everything he needs in a friend. She drives away the bullies, teaches him how to properly defend against himself, and gets involved in his nerdy games. I guess it’s a real shame she’s the leader of some cult, huh?

From the moment the movie went from ‘this is a nice story’ to ‘what the $*%&’ it was a wild ride to the credits. It’s a short movie anyway but it feels even shorter with how mental it goes. Honestly, the biggest takeaway I took from it was that if Home Alone was remade sometime soon (like every other movie is) then it would by no means be a family movie!

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Worst Bit: I loved Bee’s character so much that it felt like a complete betrayal to see her kind of mocking the nerdy guy she’d invited to the house to play spin the bottle. Come on Bee, I thought you were on the nerds’ side…

Best Bit: …BAM. Two knives to the head. Didn’t see it coming at all. Might have actually peed myself a little. 10/10 would recommend.

Fun Trivia: In the original script, Sonya was the cheerleader, Allison was a journalist for the school paper, John was called “John the Baptist” and Max had dreadlocks. The characters were later reimagined to more closely reflect stereotypes of slasher movie victims, only in this film, they’re the antagonists.

My Rating: 3 and a half bottles to play spin the bottle with. If the hot girl gets dared to kiss everyone in the room? RUN.

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