Movie Reviews

The Dressmaker (2015) – Film & Wine Club

the-dressmaker-movie-review-2015Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Main Cast: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Julia Blake, Shane Bourne, Caroline Goodall, Hayley Magnus, Sarah Snook, Kerry Fox

Plot: After being sent away from her small hometown years ago, Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns for revenge. Along the way she tries to reconcile with her mother and also find out what really happened on that fateful day, with the help of Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), who she falls in love with.

My Thoughts: This my third and final pick for mine and my parents’ Film & Wine Club, and I was really hoping I’d earnt their trust in picking good movies because this one was quite an ‘out there’ choice. If you’ve seen The Dressmaker before you know how bonkers it is, and if you haven’t, then you really should. There’s romance, there’s drama, there’s mystery, and it’s funny too. Just like how Fight Club isn’t about fighting, The Dressmaker isn’t about dress-making. We’re all riding the high from Mare of Easttown too so I was looking forward to it, although we did learn that my Dad has held a grudge against Kate Winslet ever since Titanic. He’s never forgiven her, apparently.

The characters are what makes this movie so great. From Tilly herself, arriving in the town dressed to the nines, with an “I’m back, you bastards”, to Hugo Weaving’s fashion-loving policeman, to the despicable townspeople – there isn’t a single one of them that just blends into the scenery, they all have great presence. There’s never a dull moment, either. With so many things going on, the time flies by. Just like Tilly, we want to find out what happened to that boy all those years ago. We also want to see the rest of their town get comeuppance, and for Tilly to finally find some happiness.

Where do I go from here? We’ve got two films left in the hat, the next one is my Dad’s last pick, Goodfellas (1990), and the final one is my Mum’s last pick, which she’s already forgotten so that’ll be a mystery to us all. It’s been so much fun though that we’re going to carry on, and so now I’m trying to decide what 3 movies to introduce them to next.

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Best Bit: Obviously the moment where Tilly finally remembers what happened when she was a child was great – but my absolute favourite bit is Tilly’s mum joining in on her date with Teddy. It’s just too funny. That, or any moment that Hugo Weaving is lusting over fabric. He’s definitely a scene stealer.

Worst Bit: *SPOILERS* I’ve only seen the movie once when it was first released, so I’d forgotten most of the smaller details and twists, but one thing I could never forget was poor Teddy in the silo. It was one of the most shocking moments in a lot of movies, because I really thought him and Tilly could be together and that would be the happy ending. It still had one of course, but Teddy!

Fun Trivia: Kate Winslet and Judy Davis had a hard time keeping a straight face while filming the scene where Liam Hemsworth strips off to get a measurement. (Didn’t we all!)

My Rating: Four and a half Singer sewing machines, the finest machines around.

the-dressmaker-movie-singer-sewing-machine

Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Margot Robbie

Goodness me, I think this is the first Hidden Gems post that I’m writing at the very last minute rather than scheduling well in advance! There’s just too much fun to be had – it’s a 3 day weekend here in the UK and the weather has been STUNNING, meaning very little time to hide indoors and write! But alas, the end of another month is here and so it’s time once again for a Hidden Gems post, a challenge created by the amazing Mettel Ray. Her pick this month is James McAvoy and I’m excited to see what she’s seen – I’m a huge fan but definitely haven’t watched many of his movies. My pick this month if you haven’t seen already is Margot Robbie!

Why Margot Robbie?

Margot has only flown onto my radar in recent years but she’s an actress who I’ve never found any big faults with, I’ve tended to enjoy the things I’ve seen her in. That was until I, Tonya and Bird of Prey where she simply blew me away with her talents! From what I’ve seen of her in interviews she seems like a genuinely lovely person in real life too so I definitely wanted to explore some of the movies she’s been in that I’ve overlooked or simply not heard of.

Statistics

Letterboxd has 30 projects listed under Margot Robbie, I took out 8 (shorts and unreleased movies), leaving 22. Of those 22 movies I’ve already seen 13, a lot more than I thought I had, to be perfectly honest. My favourites include I, Tonya, Birds of Prey and About Time.

I’ve also seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Suicide Squad, The Big Short, Focus, Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit 2, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Goodbye Christopher Robin and Slaughterhouse Rulez.

My picks for the challenge were for a variety of reasons and ended up being Z for Zachariah (2015), Bombshell (2019) and Mary Queen of Scots (2018).

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Z for Zachariah (2015)

This movie was actually already in my watchlist so there’s a blogger out there who watched this years ago and wrote a review positive enough that it made it a desirable watch for me! It’s a bit post-apocalyptic, just hunkering down and getting by, lonely kind of movie that winds up focusing on a love triangle between Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine.

And there’s my problem, I guess. There’s no scenario where I wouldn’t pick Chris Pine and those ridiculously blue eyes every single time. On a serious note, it’s a good movie, just too quiet and slow for my liking. Loved the ending, though. That was tense!

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Bombshell (2019)

Obviously this is quite a recent pick that was a January 2020 release for me in the UK. If I’d known what was around the corner I’d have been at the cinema for it in a heartbeat but at the time there were other things to watch and although I loved the cast, the story didn’t seem compelling enough to get me to commit to a cinema trip for it. It’s based on the real-life story of how a group of women take down the head of Fox News for abusive behaviour.

Now, the tale is an infuriating watch and as always with movies like this, the screen of text at the telling explaining the aftermath made me angry as hell, but from the trailer I was expecting this to be told in a style similar to The Big Short or The Wolf of Wall Street, and it really fell short of the mark. An intriguing tale, but told in a dull way, which is a shame.

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Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

I don’t like period dramas, ok? I’ve tried to dance around the subject before but there’s just no point. A period drama featuring royals is, quite frankly, the worst – in my mind at least. But if anyone is going to get me to change my mind it’s going to be a dynamic duo in the form of Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan. It’s a fight for the throne and all I really knew about it was from memes mocking the way Margot Robbie’s character looked.

News flash – I still hate period dramas. The ending to this one was powerful, I’ve got to give it credit for that. The final 15 minutes were something fantastic to behold, it’s just a shame everything before that bored me to tears.

Final Thoughts

Needless to say. I did not find a gem this month. Not even close to finding one. But I can say I’ve seen over half of Margot Robbie’s movie work now and even after watching a few duds, I couldn’t say she put in a bad or a lazy performance. I’ve heard about all the work she’s putting in to push for Gotham City Sirens and I hope she succeeds, she’s certainly the perfect choice for Harley Quinn. Next month is Paul Rudd’s time to shine!

Lists · Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Kristen Stewart

I may be losing the will to live in what feels like the longest lockdown ever but if I have anything going for me, I’m ahead of schedule again for Mettel Ray’s Hidden Gems challenge! I think I accidentally binged all 3 of my picks for this month in one week because there was a bit of a dry spell for new releases, whoops. Anyway, to find out more about the challenge, check out Mettel Ray’s original post.

Why Kristen Stewart?

I’ve felt the need to defend Kristen Stewart ever since she rose to fame with the Twilight movies. I can understand her getting stick when the book fans didn’t feel like she was the Bella they envisaged, but she got so much hate for not being able to act and that’s simply not true. Anyone who thinks that she’s wooden and doesn’t show emotion simply hasn’t watched enough of her movies.

Statistics

Letterboxd has 54 movies listed under Kristen Stewart’s filmography (although some are shorts and others are unreleased) and before the challenge I had seen 15. That’s nowhere near as good as I thought I’d do, she’s clearly been in more movies than I originally thought. Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include the Twilight Saga (obviously), Adventureland, Happiest Season and Charlie’s Angels.

I’ve also seen Panic Room, Personal Shopper, Underwater, Cafe Society, Snow White and the Huntsman, Jumper and American Ultra.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Kristen Stewart played a big role, and so my choices ended up being Clouds of Sils Maria, Equals and Still Alice.

Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)clouds-of-sils-maria-kristen-stewart

This was an interesting movie to start with for me, because I’d never even heard of it until I started looking into Kristen Stewart’s filmography. Kristen gets a lot of screen time here but the lead actress is Juliette Binoche, playing a famous film star dealing with her past when someone very close to her passes away. Kristen plays her personal assistant and is such a good fit for the role. Sadly, the movie itself really wasn’t for me, it’s gotten many positive reviews but I couldn’t get into it at all.

Equals (2015)
equals-kristen-stewart

When I read the synopsis of Equals, I new it had to be one of my picks for the challenge. I’ve been defending Kristen Stewart since Twilight and her biggest criticism is that she doesn’t know how to show emotion. How ironic then that she stars in a strange, futuristic movie where emotions have been eradicated? On paper it’s a really interesting movie. Kristen Stewart stars alongside Nicholas Hoult in this movie that feels like a Black Mirror episode where developing emotions is actually seen as a disease.

I don’t know what went wrong – maybe it’s because Charlie Brooker has perfected that Black Mirror vibe and everything similar feels like a rip off but this didn’t work at all. I was interested enough in the beginning when the scene was being set but not even Kristen Stewart could save this for me.

Still Alice (2014)
still-alice-kristen-stewart

I was feeling pretty deflated at this point. I don’t mind not finding a gem each month but I really disliked the last two movies and I wasn’t feeling hopeful. Still Alice has been on my radar ever since it was released, but back in 2014 I hadn’t fully embraced the drama genre and watching a ‘sad’ movie wasn’t something I actively pursued. In Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays a mother going through the stages of dementia. The movie is brutal in how it shows the effect her illness has not just on Alice herself, but her entire family. Kristen Stewart plays one of Alice’s daughters, and more specifically the daughter that is closest to Alice.

There’s no denying it, the movie broke my damn heart. But it is, without a shadow of a doubt, an absolute gem of a movie. I could sing Julianne Moore’s praises all day but this is Kristen Stewart’s time to shine, and shine she did. Alice’s other daughters of course cared but it was Kristen’s character who was there for the toughest times. There’s a scene that happens backstage after Kristen’s character’s play and when Alice goes to greet her, it’s clear Alice doesn’t even recognise her own daughter and that was so tough to watch.

Final Thoughts

Wow, I thought for a while this month was going to suck and by the end of it I went and found a hidden gem! I’m chuffed to say the least. I’ve really enjoyed seeing more of Kristen Stewart’s work and I’m patiently waiting to see her portray Princess Diana in her upcoming movie Spencer. It’s time to move on though now, in March it’s time to focus on Keanu Reeves!

Lists

Thursday Movie Picks: Favorite Cinematography

When I first got in movie blogging in 2014 I was only really watching the same kind of movies I’d ever known, all romcoms, comedies and blockbuster action flicks. Being a blogger has obviously opened my eyes to the whole spectrum but back then I had no time for what I know as ‘Oscar movies’. I actually laughed at the trailer for Whiplash (2014) but when I saw it? Wow.

That year, like many movie bloggers, I put together my predictions for the Oscars. They were all blind guesses, I’m not going to lie. Even now there are some categories I still have to make a guess at, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. But one category in particular confused me more than ever, and that was Best Cinematography. To try and explain it to someone else would make me look like a tit, but my best understanding of it now is the way a movie looks. You know those moments where you think wow, that looks beautiful? That’s cinematography.

And that’s the topic of Wandering Through the Shelves’ Thursday Movie Picks this week. So before I make a bigger fool of myself, let me share some of my favourite shots.

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1917 (2019)

I could have picked 100 shots from this movie, it’s absolutely stunning. But this moment during night time is the one that sticks with me. I was already exhausted and on edge, and then in this quiet, stunning moment there’s a shadow in the distance and we have no idea if they’re a friend or foe.

best-cinematography-la-la-land

La La Land (2016)

Los Angeles has a special place in my heart. My husband and I first visited in 2016 on our honeymoon, and we went back last year with our daughter and my parents and brother to celebrate our 30th birthday. My favourite way to spend the day there was at one of its many beaches, walking the pier was just so peaceful. That’s just one of the many reasons I love La La Land.

best-cinematography-sicario

Sicario (2015)

Sicario was one of those first few movies to really shock me when I was still discovering movies outside my comfort zone. It was so tense, and yet absolutely stunning at the same time. The scenes shot at night time were incredible.

Lists

Thursday Movie Picks: Holiday Horror

I might not know a lot about horror movies, but one thing I can easily talk to you all day about is Christmas movies! This week’s Thursday Movie Picks theme (ran by Wandering Through the Shelves) encompasses horror movies set in all kinds of holidays, but I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Christmas and so all 3 of my picks this week are festive!

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Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

My first pick is the best, let’s start off strong. Not only is Anna and the Apocalypse a horror movie set at Christmas, it’s also a musical! You heard me. The songs are catchy and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments. It also has a lot of heart, Ii wasn’t expecting to cry for this one. If you haven’t seen it yet please give it a chance this year, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Krampus (2015)

Krampus came to town just when I needed it. I wanted to get into horror movies but I was still too scared, but Krampus is more of a horror comedy which is a nicer transition. Plus it stars Toni Collette who basically makes any movie instantly better!

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Black Christmas (2019)

You can’t have good movies all the time, just like you can’t have good Christmas presents all the time (do we really need that many Lynx/Axe gift sets?) so here’s one to avoid. Actually scrap that, because Black Christmas just about falls into that category of being so bad it’s quite funny. If I remember correctly it’s a remake of a movie I’m going to assume was much better in quality.