Thursday Movie Picks: Break-Ups

There’s something about the changing seasons, days getting shorter and the weather getting colder that makes curling up on the sofa with a hot drink and a sappy movie so appealing to me. So I guess it’s great timing that this week’s Wandering Through the Shelves Thursday Movie Picks theme is break-ups!

When I started scouring my Letterboxd account for possible choices, I very nearly created a theme within a theme of Ryan Gosling break-up movies, but changed my mind at the last minute! It was a good reminder that there are still far too many of his movies I haven’t seen yet, though…

But without further ado, here are my 3 picks for the week:

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The Break-Up (2006)

I know this seems like the laziest choice ever, but I actually really love this movie! Back in the day when I didn’t watch many movies at all, The Break-Up was the first rom-com I watched with an ending that surprised me, it totally bummed me out and I’ve never forgotten about it! Plus, it has my favourite funny argument between a couple ever. “I don’t want you to do the dishes, I want you to WANT to do the dishes!” “Why would I WANT to do the dishes?!”

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Begin Again (2013)

Excuse me John Carney, it’s been 3 years since your last movie, we’re due another! You can always count on a John Carney movie to be beautiful and have the best soundtrack ever. I loved Begin Again so much. Keira Knightly plays a talented musician who finds herself single after her long-time boyfriend makes it big in the music industry and leaves her behind. It’s just stunning in all aspects!

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La La Land (2016)

I will never, ever, get over the sadness that the ending to La La Land caused me. It’s just not fair. I thought I was over it, and then on holiday we were stuck in some Los Angeles traffic and I found myself singing ‘Another Day of Sun’ and it brought the pain back to me. I do like that the embarrassment at the Oscars where La La Land was announced as Best Picture just to have it corrected a few minutes later was kind of a parallel to what the audience to this movie ends up going through, though. The irony isn’t lost on me!

Odd Thomas (2013)

odd-thomas-movie-review-2013Director: Stephen Sommers

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Runtime: 97 Minutes

Main Cast: Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nico Tortorella, Patton Oswalt, Melissa Ordway, Shuler Hensley

Plot: Odd has the ability to see dead people, a strange power he inherited from his Mother, a power he mostly keeps a secret with the exception of his girlfriend Stormy of the Chief of Police. He uses this gift to help the Chief solve murders – but one day brings a foreboding of something much bigger.

My Thoughts: What a strange, yet delightful little movie! I’m still making a dent in my ever-growing watch list, and I think Odd Thomas made the list thanks to one of my lovely Blogging buddies after the sad news of Anton Yelchin’s passing. This is definitely my favourite movie of his that I’ve seen so far. It feels low budget – but in a good way, and it’s a wild ride from start to finish.

Absolutely everything about it is quirky, I mean just look at that plot summary! Odd himself talks us through most of the story, explaining how he can see dead people, and what these strange, shadowy figures are that only a very select few can see (they’re called bodachs). If you’ve ever seen the TV show Pushing Daisies, it’s got the same kind of silly vibe, whilst maintaining a reasonably serious storyline. It’s such a hard thing to explain, but you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it.

Basically, these bodachs follow death – they feed upon it. So when Odd’s town becomes infested with them, it’s a sign that something awful is on the horizon, a mass murder. Teaming up with Stormy and the Chief, Odd works to solve the mystery of what’s about to unfold, and hopefully stop it before it can happen. It’s by no means a perfect movie but it’s so different and out there that I can’t help but love it!

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Best Bit: I love a good mystery, and whilst this one is satisfying, it was the ending that took me by surprise. Maybe I should have seen the warning signs, but I didn’t, and when it finally clicked what was happening, I was a big mess of emotions!

Worst Bit: The supernatural elements in this movie are so crazy that it requires Odd to narrate almost everything that happens, which I guess feels a little patronising at times. It isn’t a long movie though, so I can’t help but feel like a few extra opening scenes could have done some of that work instead.

Fun Trivia: Scenes that included Odd and Stormy’s origins were deleted from the film. One including young Stormy and her stepfather and another including young Odd and his mother. Odd’s mother put a gun to his head and is later taken away while cutting paper roses. DJ Shamus and most of Ozzy’s scenes were also deleted from the film.

My Rating: 3 and a half bowling shirts, an omen of terrible things to come…

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Oldboy (2003) vs. Oldboy (2013)

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I had so much fun writing my Point Break (1991) vs. Point Break (2015) post that I was dying to do something similar. My chance finally arose when I decided that Oldboy (2003) would be my first Blind Spot movie of the year. I’d heard terrible things about the 2013 remake and since I ended up enjoying the South Korean original so much, it was an easy decision!

You can read my full review of the original Oldboy here, but let me recap my thoughts for you quickly. It was brilliant, it was dark, twisted, uncomfortable at many times, and smart. So smart in fact that one of my very few criticisms would be that I struggled to follow the story at some points, but that’s largely down to my inexperience with foreign movies and having to rely on subtitles.

From what I can gather, Oldboy fans didn’t want a remake. Why mess with a classic? The same question is on many lips with all of the Disney remakes we’re getting this year and I can see where they’re coming from, but I do have a counterpoint. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for an Americanised remake to stir curiosity in moviegoers, enough to make them watch the original?

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So let me cut to the chase. I watched the remake. I really enjoyed it! Was it as good as the original? No – but as a couple of my fellow bloggers told me – a lot of the hate is undeserved.

Spike Lee’s version is very much a reimagining of the original, it’s been adapted for a Western audience. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying it’s also been ‘dumbed down’, but I would say not to the point where the twist becomes less shocking.

There were two noticeable nods to the original that I spotted. The street vendor who sold Joe the rubber duck for his daughter is wearing a pair of angel wings, just like Oh Dae-su wore in the opening to the original. Marie has a tattoo of an octopus on her arm which is a reference to the octopus that Oh Dae-su ate in the original. I love spotting things like this and I wonder if there were more!

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A few things that I want to complain about:
– The ending didn’t have the same impact. It was moving in the remake but horrifying in the original.
– The bad guy in the remake was almost funny in how over the top he was. The bad guy in the original was quiet and chilling.
– The fight scene in the corridor. You know the one I mean. It was just nowhere near as badass!

All in all, you just can’t beat the original. That said, I really don’t think the remake deserves the hate it got. If you’re intrigued by the premise of the movie but don’t have the patience to read your movie, I don’t think you’d be doing a terrible thing by giving the 2013 version a go.

Short Term 12 (2013)

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Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Main Cast: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr, Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Kevin Balmore, Lakeith Stanfield, Frantz Turner, Kaitlyn Dever

Genre: Drama

Plot: Grace works at a residential treatment facility with her boyfriend Mason. A lot of the children there are troubled, and as Grace helps each of them, a new arrival ends up bringing up painful memories for her, and her usually tough exterior begins to crumble, causing a rift between her and Mason.

My Thoughts: This is the first movie knocked off my watch list! And oh boy did I start with a good one. It’s a shame I know the rest of the list won’t be this good. I didn’t think I would find a movie that would tug on my heartstrings as much as The Florida Project (2017) did, but my heart really ached watching Short Term 12.

There are a few comedic moments, like when poor Rami Malek shows up for his first day at work to be confronted with a kid running and screaming to escape. Talk about first impressions! Other than that though, I think I cried no less than 3 times. It’s horrible to think that although this is a movie, what these kids go through actually happens out there in the real world.

It’s not like I didn’t know it before, but Brie Larson is an absolute superstar. She didn’t pick up enough awards for her performance here – she should have taken home an Oscar!

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Best Bit: The rap that Lakeith Standfield performs. It was so moving and powerful – if it was released as an actual record I’d buy it. And by buy it, I mean I would stream it on Spotify. Does anyone still buy records?

Worst Bit: Kaitlyn Dever reading her story about the octopus aloud. Not because it was a bad moment in the movie, but because my heart broke into a million pieces during it, and my sniffing almost woke up my napping baby.

Fun Trivia: To try and convince director Destin Daniel Cretton to cast her, Brie Larson told him that she had applied to volunteer with disadvantaged children after reading the script in order to research the role. Cretton was impressed and Larson did not reveal until later that she had been rejected by every organisation she had applied to.

My Rating: 4 and a half octopuses (octopi?) out of 5. Please don’t ask them to cut their arms off – I can’t take any more sorrow.

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