Movie Reviews

Black Swan (2010)

black-swan-movie-review-2010-posterDirector: Darren Aronofsky

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Horror

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Main Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Benjamin Millepied, Ksenia Solo, Sebastian Stan

Plot: Nina is a young, talented ballerina who finds herself fighting for the position of the Swan Queen in her company’s latest production. She is pushed back initially for not being able to embody the Black Swan as well as the White Swan, but as she strives for perfection, her mental state suffers.

My Thoughts: My youngest brother is a huge fan of twisty movies like Inception, Shutter Island and Memento. Can you imagine my frustration when he refuses to watch Fight Club because “I don’t want to watch a movie about boxing”?! I think he’s avoiding it on purpose now, the argument has gone on for years. Anyway…I guess in a way I’m guilty of the same, I’ve avoided Black Swan because I’m not really a fan of ballet.

Yes, there is a lot of ballet in this movie. There is some incredible dancing, as well as some shots of the dancer’s injured feet that made me cringe – but it’s not surprising with how much time these talented people spend on their toes. Black Swan is so much more than this though, it’s the story of a beautiful, shy girl’s descent into madness, and it’s such a thrilling ride. I’ve seen criminally little of Natalie Portman’s work so I’m open to suggestions of where to turn next, and this is also the first serious role of Mila Kunis’ I’ve seen, she was brilliant too.

10 years later, I think I might be the only person who hasn’t seen this movie yet, but on the rare chance you haven’t, definitely add this to your watch list. It’s slow in places but the payoff is so worth it. Whilst you’re at it, help me convince my brother to watch Fight Club. When I tell him it isn’t about boxing, he says “what is it about then?” and looks less than impressed when I tell him the first rule of Fight Club.

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Best Bit: The ending was so wild. I won’t spoil anything of course but the last 10 minutes are adrenaline-fuelled and you find yourself needing to know if what you just saw was real. You do find out – and bam, what a final shot. Just stunning.

Worst Bit: It’s been 10 years and we don’t have a spin-off movie about what happened to Winona Ryder’s character? Come on Hollywood, sort it out!

Fun Trivia: Natalie Portman met her future husband, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, on the set of this film. Portman herself pointed out the irony that his character in the film scoffs when asked if he’d have sex with Nina, and joked that obviously, he was a good actor.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 of the comfiest-looking slipper boots that I just want to hand out to everyone in this movie.

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Movie Reviews

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

birds-of-prey-movie-review-2020-posterDirector: Cathy Yan

Genre: Comedy, Action, Crime

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Main Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ewan McGregor, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ali Wong

Plot: Harley Quinn and the Joker have broken up, for real this time. Without the Joker to protect her, however, half of Gotham City now wants Harley dead for a number of reasons. Whilst trying to deal with the target on her back, Harley gets caught up with Dinah Lance, Detective Renee Montoya, Huntress, and Cassandra Cain when the notorious Black Mask is after a priceless diamond.

My Thoughts: Let this review, and every other review out there, be a step towards what Warner Brothers’ marketing department should have, and should still be, doing. Which is, to actually promote the Birds of Prey. If I skipped the trailers at the cinema I doubt I would have even known of this movie’s existence. And now it’s being hailed as a flop. Which is a damn shame, because it’s a great movie, and a huge step up from the disaster that was Suicide Squad (2016).

Birds of Prey is such a feast for the eyes. It’s an explosion of colour, action, violence, comedy, and fantabulous costume design. If you thought Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was perfect casting, let me raise you Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie is just stunning in this role in every sense of the word. In fact, the casting as a whole is spectacularly on point here. Shoutout to Ewan McGregor here for somehow being a revolting villain and yet so funny at the same time. I lay awake last night hearing him say ‘EWWWW’ over and over again.

Yes, the story is a bit wild and quite literally all over the place. The first half, in particular, is particularly messy but the story never gets confusing thanks to Harley talking us through it. I can only describe Birds of Prey as a cross between Deadpool and John Wick. This isn’t a story about heroines, it isn’t a story about villains. It’s a story about women who are going out on their own for the first time and standing up for themselves, and it’s so much fun.

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I can only hope word of mouth gets this movie the attention it deserves so that we can have a sequel, but it isn’t looking likely right now.

Best Bit: How can I even pick one? Harley walking through the police station shooting glitter all over the place? Dinah Lance obliterating henchmen with her voice? Black Mask telling us about his shrunken heads? Cassandra just casually pickpocketing everyone she walks past? How about slo-mo fight sequences under sprinklers? Too. Many. Iconic. Scenes. I shaved my balls for this?

Worst Bit: Getting a phone call halfway through the movie to tell you your kid is throwing up everywhere and you need to come home. Poor kid was right as rain the next morning, and I went out the next night to try again!
In the actual movie though? Detective Renee Montoya, I love you girl, but you need to show more respect for the perfect egg sandwich.

Fun Trivia: Before Ewan McGregor was cast as Black Mask, Sharlto Copley and Sam Rockwell were considered to play Black Mask. Rockwell passed on the role but was considered the “archetype” for the casting.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 burritos. When laxatives and prune juice don’t work their magic, you can always count on a dodgy burrito…

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Movie Reviews

Uncut Gems (2019)

uncut-gems-2019-netflix-movie-reviewDirector: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 135 Minutes

Main Cast: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield, Adele Dazeem Idina Menzel, Kevin Garnett, Judd Hirsch, John Amos, Trinidad James

Plot: Howard is a charismatic gems dealer who is up to his eyeballs in debt. When he gets his hands on an extremely rare Ethiopian uncut rock of gems, he makes a series of high-stake bets which don’t go to plan.

My Thoughts: I’m having a scroll through my Twitter feed and can see everyone talking about a new Adam Sandler movie, called Uncut Gems. I’m confused, for two reasons. One, from the poster I thought it was a documentary. Two, everyone was saying how amazing it was, and that Sandler should have been nominated for an Oscar. Am I in the Bad Place? I didn’t know Adam Sandler could act! Colour me intrigued.

I’ve watched movies that have made me happy, movies that have made me sad, scared, sometimes even sick, but I don’t think I’ve watched anything that’s made me feel so stressed before! My husband walked in at around the halfway point and asked what was going on, and at that point I was like, I don’t know what to tell you! This Howard guy makes terrible choices and everyone is just shouting all the time!

I liked it though. It’s kind of impossible to not get sucked into Howard’s life, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to see him win or fail. He’s a bit of a jerk but his bets were so crazy I knew there would be a sense of wonder if he did actually pull it off in the end. As for Adam Sandler himself, I don’t know if I would call his performance Oscar-worthy, but it’s definitely the best performance I’ve seen of his.

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Best Bit: So many of the loud, shouty scenes merged into one in my mind but there’s this moment where Howard’s on the phone to at least 2 different people, Lakeith Stanfield is also shouting at him, everyone is rushing around and then the poor fish are almost murdered. That’s definitely the stand-out scene for sure.

Worst Bit: The door to Howard’s shop is definitely up there with the door to the cabin in The Hateful Eight in the list of ass***e doors. One won’t open, the other won’t shut!

Fun Trivia: Uncut Gems features the 4th most f-words in film history, exactly 408 times.

My Rating: 3 and a half fake Rolex’s…you’ll have to shout louder than everyone else in this movie to complain about them, though!

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Random Posts

What I Watched: December 2019 & January 2020

Hello February! Thank goodness those 20 weeks of January are finally over. I got so caught up in putting together my Top 100 Movies of the Decade lists that I forgot to do a little roundup of everything I watched in December, so you’ve got a double whammy from me today. I’ve watched loads, and just haven’t found the time to write full reviews for a lot of what I’ve seen! Shame on me, but here are a few words on what I’ve been watching over the last two months.

Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012)

Yes, I’m having a weird Andy Samberg phase, okay? Don’t judge me. There’s only so much joy rewatching terrible Adam Driver movies can bring me. I didn’t love Celeste & Jesse Forever as much as I hoped, but only because they were so funny together at the start I never wanted it to end, even though I knew it made sense.

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Funny Games (2007)

This movie was WILD. Thank you to whoever recommended it to me probably about 4 years ago, it’s been sat on my watchlist ever since. At face value it’s a fairly straightforward house invasion movie, but just with that little extra. Such a good ending, too.

The Kitchen (2019)

Honestly? This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It got a bit too much towards the end but I was really into Elisabeth Moss’ character’s story and how she completely turned herself around from being pushed around to being a badass. It also has a vest-wearing Domnhall Gleeson sawing up a dead body in a bathtub. Which isn’t even the weirdest thing I’ve seen him do in a movie.

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Klaus (2019)

I can’t believe I never got around to doing a full review for Klaus. What an amazing little gem of an animated Christmas movie by Netflix! I was thrilled when it won a BAFTA and at this rate, if I even bother to stay up for the Oscars it’ll be to find out if Klaus wins again.

Black Christmas (2019)

Absolute garbage. I always try to find the good in a movie but the only thing Black Christmas had going for it was that it was so trashy, it was kind of fun to watch and poke fun of it.

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Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

The first Jumanji remake was surprisingly decent, and even though I knew The Next Level was getting okay reviews I still didn’t believe it could be any good. For me, it worked, because it was very much more of the same, but if you weren’t a fan of the first then you won’t like this, either. The highlight for me was Awkwafina, who somehow does a better Danny Devito impression than the man himself!

Parasite (2019)

What a movie. I thought I knew where the story was going. I was comparing it to Us (2019). Then wow. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong! To anyone hesitant about getting into foreign-language movies because of the subtitles – give this a go. I’ve seen woefully few myself, but if this movie doesn’t convince you to watch more then nothing will.

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Five Feet Apart (2019)

I put so much pressure on myself on New Years Day to start 2020 with an amazing movie that I watched nothing at all. I saw Five Feet Apart instead on January 2nd. Cried like a bitch. Regretted nothing.

Hot Rod (2007)

Yes, I started hunting down Andy Samberg movies on Netflix. DON’T JUDGE, remember? I had a blast watching Hot Rod and I’m gutted I waited so long to see it. It’s one of those movies where if I watched it when it first came out, I’d have seen it 20 times by now, and still be quoting it on a daily basis.

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The Irishman (2019)

I only watched The Irishman because I try to see all the Oscars Best Picture nominees before the actual night. Yes I know it’s got legendary actors, yes I know it’s directed by Martin Scorsese but it was LONG and it was DULL and you’ll never change my mind.

The Other Guys (2010)

After slogging through The Irishman I needed something fun and dumb to relax, and a bunch of you recommended The Other Guys when I made a list of my favourite Will Ferrell movies. I love you guys. This movie was so funny!

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That’s My Boy (2012)

…oh, this awful Adam Sandler movie stars Andy Samberg? Huh, weird. It’s almost like I’m stooping to really low levels…*cough*

Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

I love a good mystery, and despite the lukewarm reviews, I was still keen to see Motherless Brooklyn. It was worth it for Edward Norton’s performance but it was lacking in so many places. It was too slow to make the reveal worth it, sadly.

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Ford v Ferrari / Le Mans ’66 (2019)

Can we not give movies 2 very different names, and use both? My brain can’t cope. Anyway, I enjoyed this so much more than I expected. I like Christian Bale but I’ve never really raved about him, but he was so good here! The final race was thrilling, and I was kind of sad when the whole thing was over.

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019)

This just wasn’t my cup of tea, to be honest. It took me at least half the movie to really get into it, and as much as I love Margot Robbie (she’s amazing) she just felt a bit wasted here. Some of the editing was really weird, too!

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Cats (2019)

Oh, what a movie to end on. Silly, naive me thought all the negativity around Cats was overexaggerated, and musicals usually win me over so I thought I might actually enjoy it. I didn’t. It was weird. Creepy. And every time someone said ‘Jellicle’ I only heard ‘genital’ which I can’t tell made it better or worse.

I also watched The Shining (1980), Doctor Sleep (2019) and Your Name. (2016) but haven’t included them here because I’m planning on writing full posts for them. If you missed any of my full reviews over the last 2 months here they are:

Knives Out (2019)
Frozen II (2019)
Noelle (2019)
Marriage Story (2019)
6 Underground (2019)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Little Women (2019)
The Gentlemen (2020)
Just Mercy (2019)
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
1917 (2019)
Bad Boys for Life (2020)

Random Posts

LAMB Devours the Oscars 2020: Best Actor in a Leading Role

Originally posted at The Large Association of Movie Blogs as part of their LAMB Devours the Oscars 2020 feature. Original link here.

I was so happy to take part in last year’s LAMB Devours the Oscars feature where I reviewed Green Book (which then went on to win Best Picture – huzzah!) so it’s great to be back again, this time discussing the Actor in a Leading Role category. I started a draft of this post a while ago starting off by saying something along the lines of how great the performances were, but how I thought it was very much a two-horse race and, well, you’ll believe me when I say I scrapped that draft.

Let’s take a look at the nominees, shall we?

Antonio Banderas, PAIN AND GLORY

It was a surprise to see Antonio Banderas here, I thought there was a chance Taron Egerton for Rocketman might just slip in after the Academy’s love for musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody but regardless, Banderas put in an excellent performance.

Jonathan Pryce, THE TWO POPES

I haven’t seen The Two Popes in full yet, I’m not embarrassed to admit it’s not my usual kind of movie, but Jonathan Pryce’s performance has kept me engaged and it’s great that he’s receiving recognition for his efforts.

Leonardo DiCaprio, ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

Leonardo DiCaprio has now received 5 nominations by the Academy for Lead Actor, which is an amazing achievement. Even though I don’t always love the movies he’s in, I can’t ever say he’s turned in a bad performance. I struggled with his character in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood to begin with but he’d won me over by the end.

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Adam Driver, MARRIAGE STORY

What happened, guys? Before the awards season started, if my Twitter feed was anything to go by, Adam Driver’s name was already etched onto that shiny statue, but now I’m having to watch him lose it every awards night. Bigger film buffs than me might be able to tell you if an Actor has ever lost all the big awards but gone on to take the Oscar, but I don’t think it’s going to happen on Sunday. It’s a shame, because his role in Marriage Story is fantastic. The anger and sadness he expresses feels all too real, and I’ve always believed Adam Driver can say more with his facial expressions than he can with words. If nothing else, I hope his nomination gives him a springboard into finding that role that will eventually win him the recognition he deserves.

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Joaquin Phoenix, JOKER

Being gutted about Adam Driver losing would be manageable if it weren’t for the fact I really enjoyed Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the Joker. It’s been a very love or hate movie for most, and I can see both sides of the coin. For me, I never felt compelled to feel sorry for Phoenix’s character, Arthur. I felt saddened by what led him down the dark path he took, but never condoned his actions. Heath Ledger won an Oscar for the same character 11 years ago, and so it’ll be quite poetic when Phoenix wins.