Movie Reviews

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Film & Wine Club

the-shawshank-redemption-movie-review-posterDirector: Frank Darabont

Genre: Drama, Crime

Runtime: 142 Minutes

Main Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston, James Whitmore, Jeffrey DeMunn, Larry Brandenburg

Plot: Based on a short story by Stephen King – upstanding banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent to prison in the 1940s for the murder of his wife and her lover. Whilst there he puts his accountancy work into practice and befriends several inmates, including a man named Red (Morgan Freeman), known to be able to smuggle things inside for a small fee.

My Thoughts: Time for another Film & Wine Club post! Last week it was finally one of my Dad’s movies picked out of the hat, The Shawshank Redemption. Cue a groan from my Mum but to be fair, I’ve seen this movie once before and it’s also IMDB’s #1 movie of all time, so we can’t poke fun at Dad this time around. It’s tough to watch a movie for the first time that’s been given such a high level of praise and keep your thoughts unbiased, I couldn’t put enough into words the first time I watched it but a second viewing really helped.

Simply put, it’s just fantastic story-telling. It’s a king-sized movie but the time feels like nothing at all, it’s so easy to just fall into Andy’s story and want to know what happens next, is he really guilty, will he ever get out? With a movie this good, it’s easy to see why so many other stories set in prison take inspiration from The Shawshank Repemption. I don’t remember the last time I felt such a strong connection with a character – the anger at the guards and the way they treat Andy, the pure joy seeing Andy, Red and the others enjoying a cold beer on the roof, just all the emotions!

It’s the ultimate story of hope, and I guess even a second viewing wasn’t enough for me to get many thoughts into words. I think my Dad got his own little bit of redemption for picking this movie, and he’ll need all the goodwill he can get because the next movie picked is another of his choices, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! It’s a movie I’ve wanted to see for a really long time now, but I’ve never been excited enough about it to pick it over anything else, so our little club is the perfect opportunity to finally see it!


Best Bit: There are so many great moments but nothing can top the ending really, can it? Finding out how Andy did what he did, seeing Red finally get what he’s been working so hard on, and the final conclusion? It’s just perfect in every way.

Worst Bit: The introduction of Tommy (Gil Bellows) was such a pivotal part of the story, and whilst we were all wondering of Andy was guilty, Tommy gives us the answer. What happens after that? The rage!

Fun Trivia: Andy and Red’s opening chat in the prison yard, in which Red is throwing a baseball, took nine hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman threw the baseball for the entire nine hours without a word of complaint. He showed up for work the next day with his left arm in a sling.

My Rating: A full 5 out of 5 harmonicas that Andy had to get through Red’s competitor.


Movie Reviews

True Lies (1994) – Film & Wine Club

So, you probably know already that it’snot just me in my family that enjoys movies – my parents and brothers do too! Whilst on holiday last month me and my parents got talking about some of our favourite movies, movies that we would call classics. Not classics by the standard definition, just movies that we enjoyed so much we wished everyone would watch them! I haven’t watched many movies at all pre-2000, and my Mum & Dad can reel off loads of older movies that they love that I haven’t seen yet. Then on the other hand, I’ve seen some amazing modern movies that wouldn’t necessarily be their ‘type’, but I’m certain they would enjoy.

So our film club was born! We each wrote down 3 movies and put them in a hat, with the aim of meeting regularly to pick a movie from the hat and watch it together. As a bonus, whoever’s movie choice was picked is in charge of picking a nice bottle of red wine to share. I won’t share my 3 picks with you because I know they read here from time to time, so it’ll have to be a surprise for you, too.

The first pick was True Lies (1994), one of my Mum’s favourite action movies!

true-lies-movie-review-1994-posterDirector: James Cameron

Genre: Acton, Comedy, Thriller

Runtime: 141 Minutes

Main Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrare, Art Malik, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov, Marshall Manesh, Charlton Heston

Plot: Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a spy for a secret government organisation. For years he’s hidden his real job from his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), who thinks he’s a salesman. Harry and Helen are happily married, but Harry’s real job comes with a lot of unexpected, sudden overtime, and as a result he doesn’t spend a lot of time at home. When he turns up at Helen’s work one day to surprise her, he suspects she may be having an affair.

My Thoughts:  True Lies is absurd in every single way. It’s based on a generic, terrorist/spy plot and showcases some of the most farcical action sequences I’ve ever seen. BUT. It’s fantastic. There, I said it. I pretty much loved every minute of it. We all agreed that if it were remade today (although mostly impossible, as a lot of the content wouldn’t be acceptable these days) that Dwayne Johnson would be playing the lead. It’s that kind of movie, silly, but you know what to expect and it delivers.

I haven’t seen much of Schwarzenegger outside of the Terminator franchise but I really enjoyed him in this role. It’s similar in a lot of ways to his character in Jingle All the Way. He’s clearly believable in the action hero role but he’s got a clear talent for comedy too. The ‘death stare’ that he does was a joke that was never going to get old for me! Jamie Lee Curtis, though. Phew! It’s an actual crime how few movies of hers that I’ve seen but I can only imagine that the hotel room scene in True Lies was hugely popular at the time? She’s incredible. I wish we could all chuck some vase water over our heads and somehow look that great.

I’m starting to realise that the 90’s was the decade of great action movies. I’m sure my Mum has a few other suggestions up her sleeve but I’d love to know what your favourite 90’s action movie is? I’m a convert for sure. After the movie finished we video-called my husband so he could pick the next movie out of the hat for us, and it was one of my choices! It was Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and I can’t WAIT to see it again.


Best Bit: So many great moments to choose from, but it has to be the motorbike/horse chase scene. It was just so ludicrous. I mean, the chase on the streets was crazy enough but then they went into the hotel and we all laughed. Then they got into the lifts and we laughed even harder. THEN the scene on the roof? My sides actually hurt a little bit. That must have been such a great experience at the cinema!

Worst Bit: I’m going to have to turn to something my Mum mentioned for this section. We were chatting about the movie afterwards and she said how hilariously unlike Schwarzenegger his stunt double was. Hand on heart, I didn’t notice but she said it was glaringly obvious!

Fun Trivia: The appearance and traits of Spencer Trilby (Charlton Heston) is based on Nick Fury, a Marvel Comics character. Like Fury, Trilby has an eyepatch, and the same mannerisms; as well as heading a peacekeeping organization. At one point, Cameron wanted to be a comic book penciller, and does a lot of his own concept art. He even designed the entire T-800 endoskeleton.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 helicopters – are you even shooting a ridiculous action scene without one?



Thursday Movie Picks: Steven Spielberg Films

Happy first Thursday of the year, everyone! Oh wait, I missed that, because I was still in a red wine & chocolate coma not knowing what day of the week it was. Good way to start the year, Allie! It’s the thought that counts though, so I’m throwing myself into Wandering Through the Shelves’ 2020 Movie Picks with as much enthusiasm as possible. This week’s theme is Favourite Films by Steven Spielberg – a theme I worried would be difficult but crickey the man has made a lot of brilliant movies!

Here are my three favourites:


The Terminal (2004)

I love Tom Hanks, so I’ve watched The Terminal a few times over the years now. Hanks plays an Eastern European tourist who’s government collapses whilst he’s at the airport, leaving his documents unusable and him stranded in JFK airport. I always remember it as a funny story but forget about how moving it is at the same time.


A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

It’s been years and I have no idea if A.I. Artificial Intelligence still holds up but at the time it felt revolutionary and raised so many thought-provoking questions. A mother’s son was stricken by an incurable disease, and, thinking she had lost him forever, commissioned a realist robot to replace him. The problem is, her son miraculously recovers. I can’t even count the number of times I watched that movie when I was younger.


Jurassic Park (1993)

Have you ever asked anyone if they like dinosaurs and been told no? I guess you don’t go around asking strangers that question often but my point is, who doesn’t like dinosaurs? To me, Jurassic Park is just one of those movies that’s impossible not to enjoy. I can’t say for sure if I saw the older sequels when I was a kid, but I should make the effort to!

Movie Reviews

Mini Reviews: Movies Watched in May

So, May was an odd month for me, movie-wise. I wasn’t watching much at all at the start of the month, and then I went to see John Wick: Chapter 3, fell in love with cinema again…and spiraled into a Keanu Reeves obsession. Whoops. I blame @lady_sati. She’s such a bad influence!

As always, I never find the time to do a full review of what I watched, although I do have a full review for Always Be My Maybe (2019) sat in my drafts that will be ready soon. In the meantime though, here are a few words on what else I watched in May…


Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

Zac Efron has come such a long way since High School Musical. This is the story of Ted Bundy, during the time of his conviction and imprisonment. I’m glad they didn’t go down the nasty route of showing his murders, it would have just felt glorified. What’s left isn’t the most exciting movie in the world, but it’s still worth a watch.


Booksmart (2019)

I got to see this early thanks to ODEON and I can’t believe I’m only writing about it now. It’s Olivia Wilde’s directional debut and it’s fantastic. I think the hype out there has killed it a little, it’s not an ‘instant classic’ like a lot have hailed it. It’s a very, very good movie and it’s one I’ll watch again as soon as I can but it’s not groundbreaking. That bathroom scene was hilarious, and I don’t think I’ll ever look at a stuffed panda in the same way again.


Replicas (2018)

I…I don’t even have the excuse of Keanu Reeves to explain why I watched this, because it was before I saw John Wick: Chapter 3! I thought it started out fairly decent, all things considered, but it descended into stupidity. Keanu plays a scientist who, when distraught with the death of his family, makes clones of them. It was entertaining, but ‘meh’ at best.


Wine Country (2019)

I’m so MAD at this movie for being so mediocre. The cast was so promising! I loved the idea! How did it turn out to be so boring? Maybe it was aimed at an older audience, and I’ll appreciate it more in 10-15 years…


Knock Knock (2015)

Yeah, okay…I watched this trash for Keanu Reeves. It was a stupid home-invasion sort of story that wasn’t scary enough to be thrilling or dumb enough to be funny. It didn’t even have enough sexy moments to make it worthwhile watching! Sigh.


Speed (1994)

Yaaaas. This is more like it! There’s a bus with a bunch of explosives attached to it, and they’ll detonate if the bus goes slower than 50mph. Sandra Bullock is in charge of driving and Keanu’s trying to save everyone. It has some amazingly cheesy one-liners and really, what more can you ask from a 90s action movie?


Rocketman (2019)

This is the movie of the moment, isn’t it? I’ll be straight, I didn’t love it. I enjoyed it plenty, and Taron Egerton is an absolute legend, but the story was all over the place, and so repetitive. He’s performing…now he’s in a fantasy sequence…now it’s all getting out of hand…now he’s waking up hungover. Rinse and repeat for 2 hours. It was fun, but I don’t see how it’s different from other movies like it. #sorrynotsorry

In case you missed any, I did full reviews for these movies that I watched in May:
Long Shot (2019)
Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
Destination Wedding (2018)
Aladdin (2019)
It (2017)