Blogathons

Against the Crowd Blogathon 2021

If we all felt the same way about every movie, there would be no point in discussing them, would there? That’s the basis of Dell’s annual blogathon, Against the Crowd. If you aren’t familiar with Dell on Movies, check out his blog now and give him a follow, his knowledge of movies is so enviable! I’ve only taken part in Against the Crowd once before I think, but I’m already looking forward to taking part again next year!

I won’t try and explain the rules because 1, I’ll mess it up and confuse you and 2, Dell has already done a wonderful job himself, so here they are for you now:

  • Pick one movie “everyone” loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have score of 75% or more on rottentomatoes.com (or at least 7.5 on imdb.com). Tell us why you hate it.
  • Pick one movie that “everyone” hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of 35% or less on rottentomatoes.com (or 4.0 or less on imdb.com). Tell us why you love it.
  • Include the tomato meter scores of both movies.
  • Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own (just include all the pertinent details), or just mention this blogathon if using an audio or visual medium.
  • Let us know what two movies you intend on writing, vlogging, posting, or podcasting about in one of the following ways: Comment on this or any AtC 2021 post on this site, tweet me, or hit me up on instagram @dellonmovies, or e-mail me at dellott@yahoo.com.
  • Publish your post on any day from Friday, September 10 through Sunday, September 12, 2021, and include a link to this announcement. If you’re a podcaster or YouTuber that is interested in participating just talk about your chosen movies during your closest podcast and/or video to those dates and mention that you are taking part in this blogathon.
  • If posting on social media, use the hashtag #AgainstTheCrowd2021

I very nearly picked a pair of quite recent movies where the tomato meter score shocked me, but I hand-on-heart think most of you could agree with my views and that’s not quite so fun, so I’m going with a couple of older movies. One very old, and another that just makes me feel old. I apologise in advance for my views, and it was great having you as a follower up until this fateful day.

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Casablanca (1942) 99%

Yikes, I knew Casablanca would have a high score, but I wasn’t expecting it to be 99%. I watched it around 6-7 years ago for the first time back when I was determined to watch all of IMDB’s Top 250 movies. I never made it, but one day for sure. I straight up hated the movie, I’m sorry. I’m not a lover of old movies to begin with, but there are of course exceptions to that rule. I love a bit of romance, but I’m too modern and I need more substance and excitement on screen to really hook me.

What I hated the most was the famous line, “Here’s looking at you, kid”. First of all, ‘kid’ isn’t an endearing term to me. That’s what one of my neighbours calls out to me when he’s out walking his dog. Secondly, it felt like it was already decided that was a great line that would be famous, so it was going to be stuck into the movie as many times as possible. As the youth of today would say, it gave me the ‘ick’.

So yeah. I’m really sorry – but nothing about Casablanca appealed to me at all.

Here’s the importance of doing your homework before writing a blog post. I’d already decided my ‘hated’ movie was going to be Twilight but I’m looking it up now to find the score and it’s higher than I expected! So good in fact, that it breaks the rules if I chose it. So if you’ll allow me some desperate scrabbling time…

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Bubble Boy (2001) 31%

So I delved into some of my favourite actors and sought out which ones were rated bad. As last month was Jake Gyllenhaal month here it seemed fitting to pick one of his movies and I was APPALLED to learn that Bubble Boy was rated so low. What more do you people want?! It’s a charming little romcom from 20 years ago featuring an adorable baby-faced Gyllenhaal playing a boy forced to stay inside because he has no immune system. No one can stay inside forever however, so he designs himself a bubble suit to enable him to go outdoors and let’s face it, the way the world is heading this movie might not be so fictional after all.

It’s just a cute movie. Is it great? No. No it isn’t. But it’s charming and entertaining and I’d watch it 10 times back to back before I watch Casablanca again. In fact, it has a better romance than Casablanca, and it even has a better memorable quote. “Dog poo?! This is awesome!”.

Thank you Dell, for allowing me to ruin any credibility I might have had. I’ll accept the abuse likely to be thrown my way in the comments!

Lists · Movie Reviews

Top 5 Friday: Best Movies of 2021 So Far

Happy Friday, folks! Oh boy it’s been a tough old week. The UK weather gave us one final, freak heatwave that’s over now, and my little girl is having a hard time. She was born a few weeks after the school cut off so loads of her friends at pre-school left at the end of summer to start proper school, and she won’t start until next September. I feel so sorry for her.

But you’re not here for my rambles, are you? You’re here because it’s Friday, it’s time for another Top 5 list and this week I’m bringing you what I feel have been the best movies of the year so far. Yes, we’re well past the halfway point of the year, but the last quarter is when all the hard-hitter movies come out so this top 5 will doubtless look completely different by the end of the year.

So here you go, my Top 5 Movies of 2021 So Far!

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#5 Oxygen – Well, this little Netflix release took me by complete surprise. I didn’t even know of it’s existence until it was there one day on my home screen. I’m so glad I gave it the chance though! If you’ve ever seen Ryan Reynolds in Buried (2010), then this is like the Sci-Fi version of that. Very claustrophobic, not relaxing in the slightest but it hooked me straight away and the twists and turns all surprised me.

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#4 The Suicide Squad – If you told me at the start of 2021 that I’d be putting The Suicide Squad in a ‘Best of’ list, I would have laughed at you. Firstly because at the time it felt like we would never be getting big releases in cinemas, but secondly because, well…we all saw the first one, didn’t we? The reboot/sequel/whatever it is surpassed the 2016 version in every single away, apart from the soundtrack maybe. They’re both great but the original soundtrack was killer.

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#3 Vivo – I’m still riding the Vivo hype train, listening to the soundtrack every single day, so just know that it took a lot for me to be sensible and not make this my number 1. Maybe it’s not the best animated movie out there (it isn’t even the only one in this list!) but I appreciate a family story and I’m a sucker for a musical, especially written and performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Give it a go if you haven’t already, it’s on Netflix and while I can’t guarantee you’ll love it, I bet it’ll make you smile.

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#2 Free Guy – I thought Ryan Reynolds was going to swoop in at the end of 2020 and save the day with Free Guy but the Delta variant had other ideas, and Free Guy got pushed back again into 2021. To say it was worth the wait is an understatement. I was expecting something generic and full of references, but something I would enjoy regardless and it ended up being so much more than that. It’s funnier than I ever thought it could be, and at it’s core it’s also a really great romcom!

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#1 The Mitchells vs. The Machines – Still haven’t forgiven the name change, Connected was a perfect name. This is actually the only movie of the year so far I’ve given a full 5 stars to. Sony Animation are on a winning streak right now and I’m excited to see what they do next. The Mitchells vs. The Machines has such a great story at it’s heart, and somehow crosses into several genres without becoming too muddled. I’ve always appreciated animated movies so this will no doubt still be in my Top 10 at the end of the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something knocks it off the top spot.

Movie Reviews

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

shang-chi-legend-ten-rings-movie-review-2021Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Runtime: 132 Minutes

Main Cast: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Wah Yuen, Florian Munteanu, Ben Kingsley

Plot: Shaun/Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is forced to face the past he thought he left behind when his father’s organisation The Ten Rings comes looking for him.

My Thoughts: I said it before and I’ll say it again, after all the lockdowns and cinema closures it feels so good to see and hear that Marvel opening on the big screen. Even more so on opening weekend with a good crowd! I’ll admit to not being hyped about Shang-Chi, only because I’m not the well-versed in martial arts movies, but I’ve come to trust now that Marvel continually make movies that I highly enjoy, so I wasn’t worried. And too right! Shang-Chi might be a martial arts movie first, but it’s got the classic Marvel stamp all over it. It’s funny, it’s action-packed and the choreography is stunning.

That was my main take-away from the movie. Yes, there are a lot of fight scenes, but they’re all meaningful and for me, there were four stand-out sequences. The bus, the skyscraper, when Shang-Chi’s parents met, and of course the final showdown. All of them I would happily watch again and again. I’ve seen mentions of it before in blogs and on Twitter but surely there’s a case to be made for a Best Choreography award during awards season? I’m grateful that the trailer didn’t give a lot away because there were some breathtaking moments that could have been spoiled for a sell, not forgetting to mention a particular furry creature!

Also, consider this post my petition for Awkwafina to be cast in, like, everything. I love her so much. Her comedic timing is everything and her chemistry with Simu Liu was just perfect. That sappy part of me really wanted them to have a romantic arc to their friendship but I’m also glad they didn’t, in a way. I can’t wait to see how Shang-Chi fits in with the other MCU characters, he’s such a likeable character and this was a promising origin story.

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Best Bit: It’s impossible to pick just one bit, even after thinking on it for a couple of days. On the comedy side, it’s the karaoke every damn time. For action, the fight between Shang-Chi and his father for the pure epic-ness of it. But my heart would say the fight sequence between Shang-Chi’s parents when they first met. It was half fight, half dance and I felt all the emotions.

Worst Bit: This is going to be an unpopular thing to say but I really wasn’t a fan of Iron Man 3. I’m going to be as vague as I can now but the character brought back from that movie was funny, but didn’t add anything to the story for me. That character’s companion however, was a very welcome addition!

Fun Trivia: This is legendary Hong Kong film actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung’s first role in an American film and his first English-speaking role, even though he has always spoken it fluently.

My Rating: I know I always give ratings out of 5, but it feels wrong in this instance so for today only, Shang-Chi gets 8 out of 10 rings!

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Book Reviews

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

This is probably going to be the toughest book review I’ve written so far, because I’ve never felt so conflicted about a book since False Witness by Karin Slaughter. Let me tell you what it’s about before Ii attempt to unravel my thoughts. Leigh and Callie are sisters, with a fiercely strong bond but ended up living vastly different lives when they grew up. Callie used to babysit for a young boy, but she was molested and abused by the boy’s father and on one fateful night when things took a turn from worse to hell – Callie fought back and Leigh came to finish the job. Together they hid the body and tried to get on with their lives knowing what they had done.

Of course, the past always comes back to haunt you and that’s what happens to Leigh and Callie. Leigh is a successful defence lawyer but a case is brought to her under unusual circumstances, and it turns out her client is the now-grown up boy that Callie used to babysit for. What’s worse is he’s showing signs of knowing what they did.

So first up, let me lay out the positives so it’s clear I enjoyed this book. The characters are so well written I feel like I know them better than some of my own family members, there is so much detail. The story was dark, and twisty which is definitely my kind of thing. It could be too dark for some though, I’ll admit. I never knew what was going to happen next, nor did I have any inkling about how it might end, so it was easy to keep picking up my Kindle whenever Ii found the time. Towards the end, Callie has an important conversation with a father-like figure to it and it’s one of the best passages I think I’ve ever read. So please know, I liked this book!

However. I’m still sleeping poorly which gives me more reading time and it’s still taken me 3 weeks to read. I’m not a fast reader, I probably average a book every 2 weeks, but with extra time I should have finished this quicker. I don’t know if it was the pacing or what, but it felt never-ending. Also, when everything inside those pages is described and explained in such detail, there is nothing there to make me believe that a teenage girl would be capable of chopping up a man’s body and hiding it. I know the girls had a rough childhood but that seemed extreme, even for them. It was a minor detail I couldn’t move past. It also felt quite over-dramatic towards the end, but I’ll admit it got me reading at a faster pace.

So all in all, I feel a bit mixed!

Movie Reviews

What I Watched: August 2021

Ah, goodbye summer. It felt like I was waiting for you for so long, and now you’re over. At least I thought you were. I put away all my daughter’s summer clothes, got out all her jumpers from last year (and realised she’s grown out of most of them) and there’s a mini heatwave coming next week now! British weather. Movie-wise, August was quite slow for me to begin with, but I caught up towards the end of the month and even ran out of time to write full reviews for movies I really liked. I guess that’s why I started doing these round-up posts!

Let’s dive right in to what I watched, shall we?

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) – I never bothered with the original Justice League movie. It came out when I had a newborn and cinema trips weren’t on my agenda, and I disliked Batman v Superman so much that I never sought it out when I had more free time. I know the entire world was excited for Zack Snyder’s version but I wasn’t too bothered, but obviously I vowed to watch it eventually! It was good though. I have nothing to compare it to which helps. There were some really great moment but no movie has the right to be this long. Either trim it down to no more than 2.5 hours, or make it a mini series!

The Suicide Squad (2021)Full Review

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Zola (2020) – You wanna hear a story about how me and this bitch here fell out? It’s kinda long, but it’s full of suspense. That’s got to be the best introduction to any movie, ever. We’ve moved on from creating movies based on fanfiction, and now we’re making movies based on Twitter threads – who’d have thought? I didn’t know what to expect from Zola but the hype was enough to get me curious and it was a really exciting movie. Absolutely crazy that it all happened in real life.

Vivo (2021)Full Review

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Aftermath (2021) – This was a typical mediocre Netflix watch. I should have known it wasn’t worth it about 20 minutes in but I hate not finishing a movie. So there’s this house where a murder suicide has just taken place. Super gruesome, very messy, etc. Introducing our young couple, with a relationship full of troubles. She cheated on him, and he clearly can’t move past it. I KNOW. Let’s move into the murder house, that’ll solve all our problems and I’m sure it won’t be haunted or anything. UGH.

Free Guy (2021)Full Review

Seabiscuit (2003)Full Review for Film & Wine Club

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Naked Singularity (2021) – What an odd movie. It’s such a shame that it tried to be two types of movie because it failed at blending the genres and could have been a pretty decent crime/thriller. You have to see it for yourself to fully understand what it was trying to do. Thankfully, the screen presence of Olivia Cooke and John Boyega make it entertaining, but it’s still a lot of wasted potential. Someone please give Olivia Cooke a better role next? She’s ace and she deserves better!

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The Courier (2021) – Here’s some proof that I’ll watch just about anything for my favourite stars. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the real-life businessman turned spy Greville Wynne in a retelling of the events that led to the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis back in the 60s. It was interesting enough from an educational point of view, but not thrilling or exciting enough for me to label it a good movie.

Reminiscence (2021)Full Review

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Sweet Girl (2021) – I have to hand it to Netflix, they chose the perfect scenes for the preview that plays whilst you’re scrolling and pausing to sell Sweet Girl to me. It looked really exciting, but it’s so by-the-book it’s almost painful to watch. Until of course, you reach the twist towards the end which is was…something. If I weren’t bored to tears by that point I might have actually enjoyed that twist. Great idea, dull execution.

Annette (2021) Full Review

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Censor (2021) – This was so much better than I expected! The less you know the better, but it’s set in the video-nasty era of horror movies and takes a very dark turn. I wish I’d found the time to write a full post for this one because I couldn’t recommend it enough. If you liked Saint Maud (2020) then I think you might like this, too. All hail the rise of Welsh horror movies!

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Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021) – I enjoyed watching Henry Golding, but I know nothing about G.I. Joe so a lot of this was lost on me, I wasn’t the target audience. A lot of it felt quite generic but the last 40 minutes were great!

Candyman (2021) – Full Review coming soon

I also watched Wildlife (2018), Love & Other Drugs (2010) and Stronger (2017) as part of the Hidden Gems Challenge. Jake Gyllenhaal was obviously my choice for August and you can see my post here.