1917 (2019)

1917-movie-review-poster-2019Director: Sam Mendes

Genre: War, Drama

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Main Cast: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch,

Plot: 1917 is the retelling of a real mission given to two young British soldiers during the First World War, to deliver a message deep within enemy territory to give the order to stop a planned attack which would lead to the death of 1,600 men, as well as one of the soldier’s brother.

My Thoughts: Phew. It’s taken me days to get around to writing down my thoughts on 1917, it’s taken me that long to get over it. War movies aren’t my usual go-to, but I loved Dunkirk (2017) and Hacksaw Ridge (2016) and 1917 is on everyone’s minds right now so I definitely wasn’t going to miss it. I didn’t realise until the day before that it was shot/edited to look like one continuous take, the last time I saw that technique was in Birdman (2014) and it was so, so effective, so I was genuinely really looking forward to it!

Oh boy, though. I mean, you’re really just thrown into the situation with those two soldiers. It’s such an effective way of telling their story. What was so great was that our screen was almost full, so everyone was gasping and jumping at the same moments. Yes, that scene in the bunker with the tripwire? I don’t think I’ve jumped that badly during any actual horror movie. The guy next to me? I swear I saw his arse come out of his seat!

It’s a tough movie on your emotions. It’s no spoiler to say there are moments (one big one in particular) that are quite gut-wrenching, and I definitely needed a hug and a good nights sleep afterwards! I think it’s going to do really well at the BAFTAs next month, my money is on it winning Best Picture but we’ll see!

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Best Bit: The scene set in the town left mostly in ruins was the standout for me, forgive me for not remembering its name. It was stunning, the darkness of the sky with the contrast of the fires? Honestly quite breathtaking. Every fibre of my body was tensed up during that scene, not knowing when a gun was going to be fired, or when someone would leap out from the shadows. I was a nervous wreck!

Worst Bit: That feeling when you remember that everything you just watched actually happened in real life. Also, having to watch a struggling baby crying in a cabinet drawer as a makeshift bed. Anything involving sad babes or children just sets me off now. I’m weak!

Fun Trivia: Over 5,200 feet of trenches were dug for the film (just under one mile).

My Rating: 4 and a half giant rats, twice the size of our British rats!

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Jojo Rabbit (2019)

jojo-rabbit-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Taika Waititi

Genre: War, Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Main Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant,

Plot: Jojo is a 10-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a Nazi, aided by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. When he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house, his world is turned upside down.

My Thoughts: What are you watching at the cinema tonight Allie? A movie I’ve been waiting months for about a little Nazi boy and his imaginary friend, Hitler! Yeah, there’s no way to explain the plot of Jojo Rabbit without it sounding batshit crazy, but then again, it IS batshit crazy in all the best ways! Only Taika Waititi can pull off a movie like this and make it so darn good. The absurd plot has definitely drawn in a wide crowd, I only wish Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) did the same.

I came for laughs and I was not disappointed. We only got brief glimpses of imaginary Hitler which works perfectly because too much would have been obnoxious. It’s one of those movies that needs to be seen at least twice because I’m sure there are some cracking jokes I missed the first time around. Scarlet Johansson was surprisingly not annoying and the bit where she calls her own kid ‘Shitler’ made me laugh a lot. Not quite as much as a canine-related joke, though.

You know what I didn’t come to the cinema for? For my heart to be ripped out of my chest and stamped on. No spoilers but there’s a moment halfway through that the tone turns drastically, and I didn’t even notice it happen for too long. Sam Rockwell was an absolute gem too, his character arc was superb. Like Waititi’s other movies, this might be too wild for the casual movie fan but it’s without a doubt one of my favourites of the year.

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Also – I really need to show some love for little Roman Griffin Davis. The kid is 11 years old, and this is his first-ever professional acting gig. Like, that’s mental, is it not?! He was SO GOOD.

Best Bit: How could I actually pick one moment? Sam Rockwell’s incredible costume? Jojo accidentally blowing himself up? The book Jojo makes, an expose about Jews? How about Stephen Merchant somehow being creepier than his character in Good Boys (2019) in front of a child? I could pick 10 at least!

Worst Bit: I love Rebel Wilson, don’t get me wrong. But she felt ever so slightly out of place here and her accent was terribly bad. I did love her gang of clones, though!

Fun Trivia: Taika Waititi said that in the scene when the Gestapo come to Jojo’s house “Heil Hitler” is said 31 times in one minute. He wanted a funny moment and also wanted to illustrate how ridiculous and unnecessary Nazi protocols were.

My Rating: 4 and a half German Shepherds…not German Shepherds…!

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Just Mercy (2019)

just-mercy-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Destin Daniel Cretton

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Darrell Britt-Gibson

Plot: The real-life story of how a fresh out of University lawyer by the name of Bryan Stevenson worked to free a wrongly condemned prisoner on death row, blamed for the murder of a teenaged girl.

My Thoughts: I’ve ended up missing out on the last 3 secret screenings that my local cinema offers, so I was dying to make it to the first of the year! I’ve stopped checking their social media for the clues because they’re too obvious. If I want to go to a secret screening, I want to be surprised! My hunch was that it would be Queen & Slim and honestly, I’d never even heard of Just Mercy so I was really excited at the thought of knowing nothing about what I was about to watch!

I’m pointing out the obvious but Just Mercy is tough to watch at times. It’s horrible to know that even in the very late 80s, going into 90s, racism was still so strong. The entire cast does a good job here but it’s Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx who are the standouts here, as the lawyer and death row inmate respectively. We’re with them both every step of the way and feel the same heartache and frustrations as they do.

It’s probably not the kind of movie I would deliberately seek out and watch which is why I love these screenings so much. As powerful as the story is (I cried more than once) it still felt quite dry in places, and it’s at least 20 minutes too long, although I don’t know where I would cut parts out.

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Best Bit: I loved the scene where Bryan managed to get the case re-opened at the supreme court. It was so suspenseful. I really thought for a moment that it was about to end horribly, and when it didn’t, I wanted to jump up and down with everyone else!

Worst Bit: I felt Brie Larson was totally underused. I understand why her character was there but she just didn’t…seem to actually do much? I’d have liked to have found out more about her, why she got into this line of business, what the fallout was, and so on.

Fun Trivia: The roadblock scene was not intended to be a night scene. The film crew was delayed for almost 4 hours due to storms and it pushed the filming back to nighttime.

My Rating: 3 and a half tickets to the Harper Lee museum which you really ought to visit…according to 50% of the characters in this movie.

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Little Women (2019)

little-women-2019-movie-review-posterDirector: Greta Gerwig

Genre: Drama, Romance

Runtime: 135 Minutes

Main Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, James Norton

Plot: Based on the classic novel, Little Women is the story of the 4 March sisters each eager to live their own lives, as told by one of the four herself, Jo March.

My Thoughts: Are we talking enough about Florence Pugh? Because I don’t think we are. In January 2019 she went from an actress I’d never heard of to my favourite actress of the year. Which is how I found myself watching Little Women after Christmas. I’ve never read the novel, nor watched the original movie, and I don’t think there will ever be a day I can say I love period dramas but damn it, I will watch one for Florence Pugh!

I actually ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. With a cast like this, it’s hard not to enjoy it, and Saoirse Ronan was made for roles like Jo March. I found the sisters slightly irritating to begin with but it was so easy to warm to them. Timothée Chalamet gets more interesting the more I see of him too. Were we meant to both love his character and want to slap him at the same time? Because that’s how I felt!

From watching Friends all those years ago I knew there was going to be an upsetting moment somewhere along the way but I’d forgotten who/when/why. Ugh, even though you know what’s coming before it happens it doesn’t make it any easier. Why am I like this? When I left the cinema I was positive I liked the movie, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I actually enjoyed it. It’s one of those I need to sleep on.

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Best Bit: Florence Pugh having a tantrum is big, floofy (yes, spellchecker, floofy is a word, take your red, squiggly line away from here) skirts is what I live for. Also, there’s a scene in which she’s wearing a flower crown and dancing in a circle and I got Midsommar vibes. So need to see that movie again.

Worst Bit: Time jumps! I’m not thick enough that I need a ‘7 years earlier’ stamp in every scene but oh man was I confused. One sister had a fringe in the old scenes that she doesn’t have in the present scenes but that was honestly the only way I could tell which timeline we were on.

Fun Trivia: Emma Watson took over the role of Meg March from Emma Stone, who became unavailable due to scheduling conflicts with promoting The Favourite (2018). Ironically, Stone previously took over the role of Mia in La La Land (2016) after Watson dropped out of the project due to the commitment of her role as Belle in the Disney live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast (2017).
I love both Emmas but this definitely worked out for the best.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 peaches that thankfully Timeothée Chalamet was not holding at any moment in this movie.

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Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

star-wars-rise-of-skywalker-review-2019Director: J.J. Abrams

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Runtime: 141 Minutes

Main Cast: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid

Plot: The final episode in the Skywalker trilogy, following on from the events of The Last Jedi. Rey continues her Jedi training to defeat the First Order whilst Supreme Leader Kylo Ren threatens to wipe out any threat to his power.

My Thoughts: So…hey guys? It’s a loud and angry place to be, social media right now, but you can always count on me for having an unpopular opinion and loving the latest Star Wars movie. I don’t hold a grudge at all against anyone who hated Rise of Skywalker, there was never going to be an ending we all loved, but I do think it’s hilarious that there’s an uprising of Last Jedi fans now. Where were you guys 2 years ago? Anyway – this post is going to be SPOILER HEAVY, I’ll warn you now.

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I loved it. It was a wild ride from start to finish. The pacing was nuts, there’s barely any time to breathe. I’ve seen it twice now and the second time felt even faster. I guess everyone had their image of what the ending would look like, and I got mine, and some, and even though I’m completely heartbroken, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always knew deep down Kylo Ren wouldn’t live to see the credits of the final movie, but I didn’t expect to get to see Ben Solo in action. That’s credit to Adam Driver, show-stealer-extraordinaire, who never ceases to amaze me with his performances. Do I wish Ben Solo survived? God yes, but it would never have made sense. He couldn’t exactly go back with Rey and hang out with the Resistance, could he? He’d have had to live in exile.

Speaking of the Resistance, YAAAAS to my boys Finn and Poe being back together again. Them being apart was my biggest gripe of The Last Jedi. And Rey? I don’t feel like her being a Palpatine was a retcon, to be honest. If it was revealed in the second movie, we’d know for sure Palpatine never died, because otherwise what would be the point? You need surprises in each movie, I guess. I don’t know – I don’t make movies, but I wasn’t mad at that choice. It was wild to watch Rey accidentally use force lighting though!

Leia was so, so well done. It was absolutely the right choice to make do with archive footage, and it didn’t seem out of place at all. Her death hit me hard, and then Chewie’s reaction destroyed me. The moment we thought Chewie was dead was well done, too. The first screening I was in everyone gasped out loud, and the second time there was just this uncomfortable silence. I can’t tell you the reaction to the Ben Solo moment because I was crying ugly tears into my IMAX glasses.

I could go on forever, but I’ve already babbled for longer than I usually do. The bottom line is, it worked for me, I laughed and I cried and I got an ending that felt right to me. That can’t be said for most I know, but I hope you can appreciate my reasons for loving it.

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Best Bit: It’s impossible to pick one. I mean, Ben Solo, just being Ben Solo! Running through those ruins just like his Dad, taking out bad guys with a blaster. His smirk once he was given a saber by Rey and taking down his own knights. I WISH we could have seen more of that cheeky character.

But also? HUX WAS THE SPY. Hux is like, my second favourite character in this series. Him being the spy was silly but goddamn hilarious. I’m sorry to anyone in that first screening because I actually screamed.

Worst Bit: There were scenes in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi that I could happily do without, but nothing felt unnecessary here. My only real gripe is how useless Rose was in this movie. It didn’t make sense for her to have a huge role in the previous movie but have nothing to do here.

If you’ll allow me a silly complaint – who turns down Poe Dameron? TWICE?!

Fun Trivia: During the massive crowd celebration scene, C-3PO says that this event happens once every 42 years. This was the time between the first Star Wars movie to be released in 1977, and this film, the last of the sequel trilogy, released 42 years later.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 porgs who also needed more screentime this time around.

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6 Underground (2019)

6-underground-2019-netflix-movieDirector: Michael Bay

Genre: Action, Thriller

Runtime: 127 Minutes

Main Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona, Corey Hawkins, Dave Franco

Plot: 6 underground agents work together on the world’s most dangerous, top-secret missions. All of them have buried their pasts behind them and are completely off the grid. Essentially, this is Michael Bay’s Suicide Squad.

My Thoughts: I’m avoiding writing anything about Rise of Skywalker at the moment for fear of creating something 1,000 words long and completely incoherent, so let me tell you about this piece of trash movie I watched earlier this week instead. If you have a Netflix account then it’s impossible to not know anything about it. I’ve seen it, and Netflix is still shoving it in my face. It’s the second most expensive Netflix movie out there, second to The Irishman.

Is it any good? That depends entirely on what you want from the movie. If you want a decent plot, character development, and a logical story that doesn’t overstay its welcome, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you want to watch Ryan Reynolds play himself, car chases, explosions, fight scenes and corny jokes in spades, then you’re going to love it. For me, it was half an hour too long to pass as a good movie. I just wasn’t interested enough, but it still had a lot of memorable moments.

I should probably tell you to avoid the movie but…there’s still something about it that’s fun. In amongst all the nausea-inducing shaky-cam moments and attempts at invoking emotion, there are jokes that land and action scenes that are actually stunning. It’s a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess.

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Best Bit: The movie opens with a car chase scene and honestly? It’s probably the best I’ve ever seen. Maybe I haven’t seen enough action movies but this monstrous scene shows the realities behind a car chase this wild, pedestrians being flung around like crisp packets!

Worst Bit: Where do I even begin? There are plenty of cringy moments, but the one that made me laugh loudest was when a rooftop swimming pool was smashed open which caused more flooding than Sharknado!

Fun Trivia: A year prior to the release Ryan Reynolds posted a video of himself talking about how quiet Michael Bay’s movies are, while in the background a car explodes. This scene is in the movie and you can actually see Ryan Reynolds in the background filming the crash.

My Rating: 2 and a half bottles of Aviation Gin, only the tip of the iceberg that is shameless product placement in this movie.

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What I Watched & Read: November 2019

I know, it’s a little too far into December for a November round-up post to be acceptable but I’ve been behind on so many things! Can we just pretend for a while it’s the very start of December and I still have loads of time to sort Christmas out? Good, thanks. So, as it’s the start of December, as usual here’s a little recap of what I watched last month. I’m throwing in a book I read too, because I’ve let my book review posts slip and it’s a shame not to mention them.

The middle of November sucked, I didn’t watch a movie at all for like, a week and a half, but despite that I still saw 11 movies throughout the month, which isn’t so bad. No TV shows though other than The Mandalorian, which is glorious. Going to be so sad when that finishes!

Anyway, here’s what I watched that I haven’t written a full post for:

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Crawl (2019)

I pretty much dismissed this movie but a whole bunch of you said it was good and I always listen to you so I gave it a go. And yeah! It was a lot better than I expected for a movie about alligators in a hurricane. It felt super claustrophobic at times. Not sure I’ll ever want to watch it again mind, but I’m glad I gave it a chance.

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Stuber (2019)

This started out great. I was all up for a feature-length movie about Stu desperately trying to improve his Uber rating, but then Dave Bautista turned up. Then it turned into more of a buddy cop movie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed that too, but it felt like 2 very different movies mashed together and didn’t work that well in the end. Kumail Nanjiani is one of the funniest guys I’ve discovered in the last few years though, I’ll happily watch whatever he does next!

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A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

This was a rewatch for me, and I rewatched Bad Moms last night too. I’m struggling with being a Mum these last couple of weeks but oh man, these movies help me to get out of my head. The scene with the mall Santa is too epic!

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The Report (2019)

I still haven’t got around to writing anything for The Report. I really enjoyed it, gave it an 8/10, but it’s tough to write about. It’s a shocking story, but it’s not the most exciting thing to talk about. Adam Driver carries it, without him this would have fallen pretty flat. It was absolutely worth a watch for me for educational purposes if nothing else!

These are the movies I watched in November that I already wrote about, in case you missed them:

Chicago (2002)
Let It Snow (2019)
Last Christmas (2019)
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Frozen II (2019)
Eli (2019)
Knives Out (2019)

Now, books! I read 2 books in November which is better than I normally manage. I set my expectations too high this year, I just don’t have as much reading time as I thought.

The Final Winter by Iain Rob Wright

This sounded like it would be a bit like The Day After Tomorrow with some horror elements in, and it started out well with the introduction of the characters, but it took a real nosedive from the half way point. The characters took on these annoyingly stereotypical traits and to be perfectly honest, I stopped caring about what happened to them. The ending was unexpected, and probably would have been great if I was still interested by then.

Hunted by Darcy Coates

I loooooved this book. A young girl goes missing in the woods after taking a solo holiday, and her brother and friends come looking for her. Her camera was recovered by another tourist, and the girl’s brother and friends try to put the pieces together to work out where she might have vanished to. The photos start out normal, but then get strange, and a dark figure can be seen in them. The local police don’t seem to be interested, they deal with a national average of missing persons cases – so the youths take it upon themselves to find her.