Blogathons

Thursday Movie Picks: Scientists

There are so many Thursday Movie Picks themes that I end up skipping because I can’t think of enough movies I’ve even seen to fit – let alone 3 great choices that I can recommend. That is, until Thursday rolls around, I read everyone else’s posts and realise that I’ve watched more than I thought…and then kick myself for not picking them myself!

I almost did the same with this week’s theme of Scientists. Then I made myself sit down and think, and lo and behold, I have a list as long as my arm! I’ve whittled that down to 3 choices with a slight mini-theme. These 3 movies are ones that I really enjoyed, but something stopped them from being amazing.

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Annihilation (2018)

A mysterious, creepy movie with a stellar female cast and Oscar Isaac? I mean, this movie couldn’t be awful if it tried. Annihilation made a lot of ‘Best of 2018’ lists, and rightly so, to be honest. The scene with that bear creature mimicking the scream was downright terrifying and a moment I’ll never forget, but the movie lost me at the end. I love a weird ending but this one was just too much.

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Downsizing (2017)

I’m still so gutted about how much potential Downsizing wasted. A future world where humans can be shrunk in order to save the planet, and all the fiscal and political issues that arise as a result? This could have been a smashing TV series, but it doesn’t work at all as a movie. Too much plot got packed in with not enough time, and a lot of threads just lead nowhere. I love the idea of it all though, and I hope the story gets picked up and done better sometime.

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A Cure for Wellness (2016)

I feel like in the run-up to this movie’s release, there was so much hype, and then…the movie came out, and no one made a fuss. I didn’t even see it in the cinema, but I’m glad I still watched it. It’s long, but it’s got the creep and mystery factor that keep you going. I shamefully can’t even remember the ending, but I know it was one that you either loved or hated.

Lists

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!

Movie Reviews

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-2016-poster-review(I’m on vacation right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

I’ll give any movie a try, within reason. I don’t listen to critic reviews, but I place a lot of faith in bloggers’ opinions. Bloggers review movies for fun in their spare time, you know you’re going to get nothing but their own opinions from their reviews. Hunt for the Wilderpeople only came into my radar a few weeks ago, and every blog review I read had nothing but praise for it. That was enough to convince me to add it to my watch list, but once I realised that it’s directed by Taika Waititi, the genius behind What We Do in the Shadows, I made it my mission to watch it as soon as possible.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is based off a book by Barry Crump called Wild Pork and Watercress. It has that book-adaptation feel to it (don’t ask me to explain that feeling – I can’t) anyway, and it’s broken up into Chapters which sum up the ongoings well. In fact, I’d really love to give the book a go, I hope it’s as funny as the movie.

Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a troubled young boy, moving around different foster homes. He’s dropped out at the farm belonging to Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill) as the last chance. If he screws this up, he’s going to end up in Juvy. Ricky struggles to settle in his new home, despite the love and attention given to him by Bella, and so he runs away into the bush. Hec goes out to find him, and the result is a national manhunt for the pair as it appears that Hec has kidnapped Ricky.

It’s a funny coincidence that I watched this in the same week as Swiss Army Man, because they both have a lot of similarities!

Waititi’s style is clear in this movie. It’s got that same sense of humour as What We Do in the Shadows, and it’s quirky from start to finish. Julian Dennison absolutely shines as the child star of the movie, and his delivery of the witty lines is perfect. He’s just like a lot of other 13-year-olds, thinking he’s a gangster because he’s shoplifted a chocolate bar, played GTA and listens to rap music. Yet he’s such a likable character!

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Every time I watch a movie set in New Zealand, I’m taken back by the beauty of the country. I’m sure a lot of work went into the cinematography, but honestly, the setting does half the work itself, it’s gorgeous to look at.

The movie walks that line of Comedy and Drama perfectly without throwing the tone all over the place. It has some horrendously sad moments that had me sobbing quite openly, although I won’t discuss why because of spoilers, but it’s also one of the funniest movies I’ve seen all year. The dialogue is brilliant, thanks in part to the chemistry Julian Dennison and Sam Neill share.

I’ve been trying to balance this review out with a few negatives to warrant the 9/10 score I wanted to give it, but I’m really struggling. Originally I thought the roles of the Child Protection Officer and her Policeman companion were too campy, but actually, they fit the overall feel of the movie perfectly, especially when I try to compare it to What We Do in the Shadows. I very rarely give perfect marks to any movie, I think there’s always room for improvement, but I can’t find it here!

Movie Reviews

Swiss Army Man (2016)

swiss-army-man-movie-poster-review(I’m on holiday right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

Oh boy, I’ve been looking forward to Swiss Army Man for so long now, it feels like forever since the trailer was released. I’m surprised I managed to find myself a cinema buddy for this one. When I first saw the trailer I felt a mixture of shock and disgust, but a second viewing really opened my mind to the possibilities.

The easiest way to describe Swiss Army Man is: Paul Dano is lost on an island, ready to end his life out of desperation and loneliness, until he spots Daniel Radcliffe’s flatulent corpse washed up on the beach, and uses him to try and find his way back home. No exaggerations, there. You thought The Lobster was the weirdest movie you’ve ever seen? Think again!

Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are an absolute delight. I’m not sure just how much acting Radcliffe had to do here, but nonetheless, he really pulled off the dead-guy demeanor. I don’t know enough about movie awards to know Swiss Army Man’s Oscar chances, but Paul Dano would be in my nominations list for sure. This can’t have been an easy role to take on.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know what to expect, but a few things did shock me whilst I was watching. First and foremost is just how gross this movie was. Flatulence is one thing, we all have it, let’s be honest. I’ve never had it quite so bad that I could propel myself and another person across the ocean, but still, that’s not the worst part. Hank (Dano) uses Manny (Radcliffe) as a water source by quite literally squeezing the liquid out of him. Hurck. The most useful thing Manny can be used for is a compass. How? His boner leads the way. Yep. That’s about it for grossness, but Manny can also shoot things from his mouth and chop wood. Swiss Army Man for sure!

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The best part of the movie is the mystery of it all. I started to wonder whether Manny was even real, especially when Hank seemed to talk through his issues with him. Was Hank ever even lost, or had he just ran away? Hank has a fascination with a girl he saw on the bus, and re-enacts scenes with Manny by dressing up and even recreating the bus out of whatever he can find in the woods. It’s really quite incredible. I also thought Manny got more and more lifelike the more Hank started to find the root of his issues. He’s clearly a very troubled man.

Of course, there are also several laugh out loud moments. The boner scene was pretty funny until it got a little too much, and the first moment Manny spoke just to be punched in the face had me crying. Hands down, the best line in the movie is spoken by Hank: “If you don’t know Jurassic Park, you don’t know sh*t.” That line, coupled with the use of the Jurassic Park soundtrack, is nothing but pure genius, and is the real stand out moment of the entire movie.

I just don’t know how to feel about the ending. I mean, I don’t know how I wanted it to end myself, I guess I just couldn’t picture it. The movie itself is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, but the ending reminded me of Safety Not Guaranteed, and I never fully knew how to feel about that ending, either.

Swiss Army Man will be ‘too weird’ for many, but in a world full of superhero movies, sequels and remakes, this is a breath of fresh air for me.

Movie Reviews

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

nocturnal-animals-2016-movie-poster(I’m on vacation right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

I don’t remember ever going into the cinema as blind as I did last week for Nocturnal Animals. I’d heard a lot of buzz surrounding the name, I’d watched the trailer (once) which didn’t give much away at all, and I knew Jake Gyllenhaal was in it. That was enough for me, and I somehow convinced my husband to come along too. I don’t know how I did it, but I have a feeling it may have been something to do with the ever beautiful Amy Adams.

Before I go into an actual review, I have to share a funny moment with you. Tuesday and Wednesday showings have a silly amount of adverts before the movie, because of the wildly popular ‘Meerkat Movies’ 2-4-1 deal. This poor couple in front of us were already there when we arrived, sat through the whole slog of ads, the 5 trailers (although we were shown the Arrival trailer twice in a row, odd) and when the BBFC rating screen came on with ‘Nocturnal Animals’ emblazoned on the left-hand side, they realised they were in the wrong screen. I hope they didn’t miss too much of Doctor Strange, because that opening scene was awesome.

Anyway! Nocturnal Animals is a dark movie split into two narratives. First, we have Susan (Amy Adams), an art gallery owner living a seemingly-perfect life in her mansion of a house adorned with staff, and a husband who sadly, is hardly ever at home. One morning she receives a parcel from her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), a manuscript for a book he’s written that he wants her thoughts on. The book turns out to be dedicated to Susan, but is a dark and twisted story, which haunts her.

Whenever Susan starts reading the book, we get to see it played out, by Jake Gyllenhaal himself and his book-wife (Isla Fisher). Their story isn’t for the faint-hearted, it’s a cruel and violent tale. Some scenes are particularly difficult to watch, and I get the feeling they were deliberately made as long as possible to make the audience uncomfortable. If that is the case, it definitely worked on me. I kept thinking to myself ‘Oh that won’t actually happen though, they wouldn’t show us that’ and then they did! I’m getting the shivers just thinking about it.

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So, whilst we see Edward’s story played out in snippets, we also go back to Susan often to learn more about her, and more importantly, what happened all those years ago between her and Edward. There’s a theme of revenge here for sure, and we know that Susan left him, but not why, or under what circumstances. It’s really well edited in these sections, the way something happens in the book that then takes us back to real life, and editing isn’t something that I normally take notice of.

Of course, I won’t give anything away, but I love an ambiguous ending. One that’s satisfying enough when taken at face value, but when you start to analyse every little detail, you begin to come up with different theories about certain elements.

I really loved this movie, but I will NOT forgive that jump scare. You can witness it for yourself, I’m not going to warn you, but it scared the crap out of the entire screen. Then I had to watch the next ten minutes from the corner of my eye in case something else happens. My poor nervous wreck of a husband now labels Nocturnal Animals as ‘that piece of sh*t movie that scared me’. He liked it of course, but he’s a bigger scaredy-cat than me!

So yes, a big seal of approval from me. Just…skip the opening credits if you can…trust me.