Movie Reviews

Dark Waters (2019)

dark-waters-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Todd Haynes

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Runtime: 126 Minutes

Main Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Pullman, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper

Plot: The real-life story of one corporate defence lawyer and his lawsuit against a huge chemical company found to be knowingly poisoning thousands of Americans.

My Thoughts: These thriller-esque biographical movies are quickly becoming favourites of mine. If I can learn something new and shocking and have an absolute blast whilst watching, then what more can I ask for? I honestly thought Dark Waters was by the same director as Spotlight (2015) as they have a very similar style. And they both have Mark Ruffalo! So you’ll have to excuse my confusion. I’d struggle to sell this movie to anyone who hasn’t heard of it because on paper it sounds dry as hell, but it’s so good.

It starts a little slow and takes a while to get going, but Mark Ruffalo is so likeable that I was in it from the start for his character, and his character’s family too. Come the mid-way point of the movie a huge bombshell is dropped, and the pacing turns up tenfold from that point and doesn’t let go. I say it reminds me of Spotlight because that was the last movie I found myself angry watching.

It’s hard for me to fault the movie apart from the pacing at times, but for so long I couldn’t help but feel like Anne Hathaway was being wasted. She was a background character for so long but when the case kicked off, she got her chance to shine and it’s probably one of my favourite performances of hers. I also loved how some of the real people portrayed in the movie actually got cameo roles!

dark-waters-2019-mark-ruffalo-teflon

Best Bit: I’m torn between two moments in the movie. The first being when it was revealed that the problem was so much worse than originally thought. The second was the meeting Ruffalo’s character had with the head of the chemical company, going through all the evidence he had collected. It was so tense.

Worst Bit: Speaking of tense, I never thought I would be so stressed out watching someone turn their key in their car’s ignition. Also – chemical companies suck.

Fun Trivia: Second film Mark Ruffalo has appeared in dealing with the DuPont family. The first was Foxcatcher (2014).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Teflon-coated pans, dug out of my kitchen cupboards and thrown away.

dark-waters-2019-teflon-du-pont

Movie Reviews

Uncut Gems (2019)

uncut-gems-2019-netflix-movie-reviewDirector: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 135 Minutes

Main Cast: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield, Adele Dazeem Idina Menzel, Kevin Garnett, Judd Hirsch, John Amos, Trinidad James

Plot: Howard is a charismatic gems dealer who is up to his eyeballs in debt. When he gets his hands on an extremely rare Ethiopian uncut rock of gems, he makes a series of high-stake bets which don’t go to plan.

My Thoughts: I’m having a scroll through my Twitter feed and can see everyone talking about a new Adam Sandler movie, called Uncut Gems. I’m confused, for two reasons. One, from the poster I thought it was a documentary. Two, everyone was saying how amazing it was, and that Sandler should have been nominated for an Oscar. Am I in the Bad Place? I didn’t know Adam Sandler could act! Colour me intrigued.

I’ve watched movies that have made me happy, movies that have made me sad, scared, sometimes even sick, but I don’t think I’ve watched anything that’s made me feel so stressed before! My husband walked in at around the halfway point and asked what was going on, and at that point I was like, I don’t know what to tell you! This Howard guy makes terrible choices and everyone is just shouting all the time!

I liked it though. It’s kind of impossible to not get sucked into Howard’s life, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to see him win or fail. He’s a bit of a jerk but his bets were so crazy I knew there would be a sense of wonder if he did actually pull it off in the end. As for Adam Sandler himself, I don’t know if I would call his performance Oscar-worthy, but it’s definitely the best performance I’ve seen of his.

uncut-gems-2019-adam-sandler

Best Bit: So many of the loud, shouty scenes merged into one in my mind but there’s this moment where Howard’s on the phone to at least 2 different people, Lakeith Stanfield is also shouting at him, everyone is rushing around and then the poor fish are almost murdered. That’s definitely the stand-out scene for sure.

Worst Bit: The door to Howard’s shop is definitely up there with the door to the cabin in The Hateful Eight in the list of ass***e doors. One won’t open, the other won’t shut!

Fun Trivia: Uncut Gems features the 4th most f-words in film history, exactly 408 times.

My Rating: 3 and a half fake Rolex’s…you’ll have to shout louder than everyone else in this movie to complain about them, though!

uncut-gems-fake-rolex-2019

Random Posts

What I Watched: December 2019 & January 2020

Hello February! Thank goodness those 20 weeks of January are finally over. I got so caught up in putting together my Top 100 Movies of the Decade lists that I forgot to do a little roundup of everything I watched in December, so you’ve got a double whammy from me today. I’ve watched loads, and just haven’t found the time to write full reviews for a lot of what I’ve seen! Shame on me, but here are a few words on what I’ve been watching over the last two months.

Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012)

Yes, I’m having a weird Andy Samberg phase, okay? Don’t judge me. There’s only so much joy rewatching terrible Adam Driver movies can bring me. I didn’t love Celeste & Jesse Forever as much as I hoped, but only because they were so funny together at the start I never wanted it to end, even though I knew it made sense.

movies-watched-december-january-funny-games

Funny Games (2007)

This movie was WILD. Thank you to whoever recommended it to me probably about 4 years ago, it’s been sat on my watchlist ever since. At face value it’s a fairly straightforward house invasion movie, but just with that little extra. Such a good ending, too.

The Kitchen (2019)

Honestly? This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It got a bit too much towards the end but I was really into Elisabeth Moss’ character’s story and how she completely turned herself around from being pushed around to being a badass. It also has a vest-wearing Domnhall Gleeson sawing up a dead body in a bathtub. Which isn’t even the weirdest thing I’ve seen him do in a movie.

movies-watched-december-january-klaus

Klaus (2019)

I can’t believe I never got around to doing a full review for Klaus. What an amazing little gem of an animated Christmas movie by Netflix! I was thrilled when it won a BAFTA and at this rate, if I even bother to stay up for the Oscars it’ll be to find out if Klaus wins again.

Black Christmas (2019)

Absolute garbage. I always try to find the good in a movie but the only thing Black Christmas had going for it was that it was so trashy, it was kind of fun to watch and poke fun of it.

movies-watched-december-january-jumanji-next-level

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

The first Jumanji remake was surprisingly decent, and even though I knew The Next Level was getting okay reviews I still didn’t believe it could be any good. For me, it worked, because it was very much more of the same, but if you weren’t a fan of the first then you won’t like this, either. The highlight for me was Awkwafina, who somehow does a better Danny Devito impression than the man himself!

Parasite (2019)

What a movie. I thought I knew where the story was going. I was comparing it to Us (2019). Then wow. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong! To anyone hesitant about getting into foreign-language movies because of the subtitles – give this a go. I’ve seen woefully few myself, but if this movie doesn’t convince you to watch more then nothing will.

movies-watched-december-january-five-feet-apart

Five Feet Apart (2019)

I put so much pressure on myself on New Years Day to start 2020 with an amazing movie that I watched nothing at all. I saw Five Feet Apart instead on January 2nd. Cried like a bitch. Regretted nothing.

Hot Rod (2007)

Yes, I started hunting down Andy Samberg movies on Netflix. DON’T JUDGE, remember? I had a blast watching Hot Rod and I’m gutted I waited so long to see it. It’s one of those movies where if I watched it when it first came out, I’d have seen it 20 times by now, and still be quoting it on a daily basis.

movies-watched-december-january-irishman

The Irishman (2019)

I only watched The Irishman because I try to see all the Oscars Best Picture nominees before the actual night. Yes I know it’s got legendary actors, yes I know it’s directed by Martin Scorsese but it was LONG and it was DULL and you’ll never change my mind.

The Other Guys (2010)

After slogging through The Irishman I needed something fun and dumb to relax, and a bunch of you recommended The Other Guys when I made a list of my favourite Will Ferrell movies. I love you guys. This movie was so funny!

movies-watched-december-january-thats-my-boy

That’s My Boy (2012)

…oh, this awful Adam Sandler movie stars Andy Samberg? Huh, weird. It’s almost like I’m stooping to really low levels…*cough*

Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

I love a good mystery, and despite the lukewarm reviews, I was still keen to see Motherless Brooklyn. It was worth it for Edward Norton’s performance but it was lacking in so many places. It was too slow to make the reveal worth it, sadly.

movies-watched-december-january-ford-ferarri

Ford v Ferrari / Le Mans ’66 (2019)

Can we not give movies 2 very different names, and use both? My brain can’t cope. Anyway, I enjoyed this so much more than I expected. I like Christian Bale but I’ve never really raved about him, but he was so good here! The final race was thrilling, and I was kind of sad when the whole thing was over.

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019)

This just wasn’t my cup of tea, to be honest. It took me at least half the movie to really get into it, and as much as I love Margot Robbie (she’s amazing) she just felt a bit wasted here. Some of the editing was really weird, too!

movies-watched-december-january-cats

Cats (2019)

Oh, what a movie to end on. Silly, naive me thought all the negativity around Cats was overexaggerated, and musicals usually win me over so I thought I might actually enjoy it. I didn’t. It was weird. Creepy. And every time someone said ‘Jellicle’ I only heard ‘genital’ which I can’t tell made it better or worse.

I also watched The Shining (1980), Doctor Sleep (2019) and Your Name. (2016) but haven’t included them here because I’m planning on writing full posts for them. If you missed any of my full reviews over the last 2 months here they are:

Knives Out (2019)
Frozen II (2019)
Noelle (2019)
Marriage Story (2019)
6 Underground (2019)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Little Women (2019)
The Gentlemen (2020)
Just Mercy (2019)
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
1917 (2019)
Bad Boys for Life (2020)

Movie Reviews

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

a-beautiful-day-neighborhood-2019-poster-reviewDirector: Marielle Heller

Genre: Biography, Drama

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett, Enrico Colantoni

Plot: Tom Junod is a journalist known for delving deep into the subjects he writes about, seeking the truth. He’s a cynic by nature with a terrible relationship with his Father, but when put on an assignment to write a piece on the legendary Mr. Rogers, his views are changed.

My Thoughts: I have to admit straight off the bat – I struggled with this movie. Mr. Rogers’ show wasn’t a thing in the UK so I know next to nothing about him, but that wasn’t my problem. I just felt like two very different movies were thrown together to make one, and one that didn’t gel together. I loved Tom Hank’s role, I loved seeing how compassionate Mr. Rogers is and how he deals with the mental burden of everything he deals with. I could have happily watched an entire movie about him, so I guess I should turn to 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.

On the other hand, we have Tom’s story. Tom is married more to his job than his wife and hasn’t spoken to his Father in years, since his Mum died and his Father moved on quickly. It may be a story based on real-life, but it’s a story I’ve seen countless times. I also struggled to connect with Tom’s character at all. We were shown too much of his bad side before getting to actually care for him.

So in the end, I have to land somewhere in the middle. I adored one half of the movie and really disliked the other half. It was still an interesting, well-made movie though, and I’d still wholeheartedly recommend it for Tom Hanks’ performance alone. He never turns in a bad performance.

a-beautiful-day-neighborhood-matthew-rhys

Best Bit: There’s a scene in a diner where Mr. Rogers tells Tom to take a minute’s silence to think. All the background noise quietens down slowly, and Mr. Rogers looks at the camera, directly at us. It was such a surreal moment and really made me stop and think!

Worst Bit: I know I’m struggling with a movie when I start nitpicking at stupid things. In Ad Astra (2019) it was the absurdity of a Subway sandwich shop on the moon, in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood it was how Tom is never holding his own child. Hold your baby, Tom!

Fun Trivia: During the TIFF post-film panel, Tom Hanks mentions how he wishes he and his son (Colin Hanks) at 3 years old watched a half hour of Mr. Rogers a week so he could learn that it is okay to be sad. Hanks feels children don’t learn the importance of expressing emotions from a young age and Mr. Rogers did an excellent job explaining this.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 baby car seats which it is NOT okay to let your baby sleep for hours in, Tom!

a-beautiful-day-neighborhood-car-seat

Blogathons · TV Shows

Thursday Movie Picks TV Edition: 2019 Freshmen Series

I really thought I was going to have to skip this week’s theme. I just don’t watch a lot of TV anymore, and because I don’t have a lot of free time I’m suspicious of new shows. I don’t want to sink hours into a brand new show that turns out to be garbage 5 seasons later when I’m too invested to stop!

So yes, this week’s Thursday Movie Picks theme is dedicated to TV shows that premiered in 2019. I knew I had 2 that I could contribute. And that was about it. But then I remembered a show that I started and didn’t finish, so perhaps you can all tell me if it’s worth sticking it out.

best-tv-shows-2019-witcher-geralt-jaskier

The Witcher

I haven’t read the books that the show is based on, but I’m a huge fan of the games, and I hated it when Henry Cavill was announced as Geralt. He’s not my Geralt. But I was too curious to stay away, so I gave it a go. I have to say…he’s a good Geralt. You can tell that Cavill himself is a huge Witcher fan and I see a lot of the video game Geralt in him. I just hope that Netflix throws a lot more money into Season 2 because it’s so painfully obvious that 99% of the budget was blown on Cavill’s salary!

best-tv-shows-2019-mandalorian-baby-yoda

The Mandalorian

But Allie…aren’t you from the UK? The UK doesn’t get Disney+ until the end of March? Well, you know what Disney? Spoiler alert but we’ve all watched The Mandalorian. Perhaps next time you should plan your releases a bit smarter. The entire world fell in love with Baby Yoda late last year, me included. The Mandalorian is a fun little show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and feels accessible for the newest of Star Wars fans whilst still providing enough fan service for the hardcore fans. It’s just an all-round crowd pleaser!

best-tv-shows-2019-living-with-yourself

Living With Yourself

This is the show I didn’t finish. I love Paul Rudd, and him being the lead in a TV show where he has to work out how to live with the better version of himself sounded like the right kind of crazy. It just didn’t turn out as fun as I expected it to be. Has anyone else watched the whole season? Is it worth sticking with?

Lists

Top 100 Movies of the Decade: 2019

Phew – what a wild ride this little project has been! Yes, I wimped out of ranking 100 movies across 10 years, but with the exception of 2010-2013, I feel like I’ve picked some solid choices here. It’s been such a fun exercise looking back at everything I’ve watched over the last 10 years, seeing how much my taste in movies has broadened and matured. It was probably handy that I took longer than I thought to make these lists because now I’ve arrived at 2019, there are movies in this list I only got the chance to see very recently, and they would have missed out otherwise.

2019 was a pretty incredible year for movies if my rankings are anything to go by. For my starter list, I only included anything that I rated 4.5/5 or higher, and I gave 21 movies that score! Just like with 2018’s list, I’m crossing movies out that could very well be in my Top 5 on another day.

Have a look at my other lists here if you haven’t seen them already!

2019 Movies Watched: 89
Movies that just missed out: Ready or Not, The Lion King, The Dead Don’t Die, Toy Story 4, Midsommar, Aladdin, Detective Pikachu, Shazam!, Good Boys, Booksmart

best-movies-decade-2019-joker

#10 Joker

You might think for all my annoyance at Joaquin Phoenix taking Adam Driver’s awards that I hated Joker, but I really enjoyed it. I said at the time Phoenix should get an Oscar for his part. But then Marriage Story came along and changed my mind. I feel stuck in the middle! I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this – sorry.

best-movies-decade-2019-klaus

#9 Klaus

December is when I try to consume as many Christmas movies as possible. I have my annual rewatches, but I love finding new movies, too, and Netflix handed me Klaus on a shiny platter. It’s a gorgeous movie. The animation style was so unique, the story was perfect for adults and children alike, the soundtrack was spot on, and it’s in the running for an Oscar next month. I doubt it’s chances of winning but I always root for the underdog.

best-movies-decade-2019-marriage-story

#8 Marriage Story

Netflix sure had a good year last year! December also brought us Marriage Story, a painfully emotional story of a couple dealing with a messy divorce whilst trying to be the best parent they can be for their son. Even if you haven’t watched the movie you’re probably aware of ‘the scene’. I almost felt like I needed to turn away, like I’d walked into a very real and ugly situation. Such a good movie!

best-movies-decade-2019-avengers-endgame

#7 Avengers: Endgame

The MCU movies haven’t gotten a lot of love from me in these posts but I’ve found that as much as I enjoy them, I rarely rewatch them. I don’t know why. That said, 2019 brought the culmination of every MCU story so far, and it was a spectacle. So many great moments, and it was a lot of fun to be part of the crowd on opening weekend.

best-movies-decade-2019-parasite

#6 Parasite

Director Bong Joon Ho said something that really struck a chord with me at the Golden Globes this year. “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” I’ve seen so few foreign-language movies, but the ones I have I found to be incredible. Parasite is such a unique movie in how it crosses genres. I thought I knew where the story was leading, but no!

best-movies-decade-2019-1917

#5 1917

See, if I wasn’t so late for everything 1917 would never have made this list, because I only watched it last week. I wonder if we’ll start to see more of this one-take style of movie and get fed up of it, but it was the perfect way of telling the story of these 2 young soldiers sent on a seemingly impossible mission. See it in the cinema if you can, it won’t be the same at home!

best-movies-decade-2019-jojo-rabbit

#4 Jojo Rabbit

Honestly, as soon as I heard Taika Waititi was making a movie about a young boy whose imaginary friend is Hitler, I knew it would be in my Top 10 of the year list. No one can make a movie like this like Waititi can. It’s somehow hilarious, shocking, and moving all at the same time.

best-movies-decade-2019-star-wars-rise-skywalker

#3 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

It’s not a list made by yours truly without a controversial pick, is it? Whatever your thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker, for me, Star Wars is Star Wars. Has my opinion changed with time? Yes, because I can’t help but over analyse everything. But the 5 minutes we got of Ben Solo means this movie earns it’s spot here regardless.

best-movies-decade-2019-knives-out

#2 Knives Out

The wait for Knives Out felt so long, you guys. I was hyping myself up for so long I was terrified I was building myself up for a fall. But it delivered on everything I hoped it would. What a fantastic little mystery movie. I wondered if it would hold up on a second viewing when you already know how it’s going to end, and so on, and somehow it was even better.

best-movies-decade-2019-john-wick-chapter-3

#1 John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Parabellum was my #1 movie of 2019 at its halfway point, but I thought by year-end something would knock it down at least one place. It hasn’t. I give all my ratings on a mix of whether I thought it was actually a good movie, and my enjoyment of it. I enjoyed the hell out of Parabellum, and I just can’t find fault with it. How many trilogies can say their 3rd movie was even better than their previous 2? There’s no way Chapter 4 can be this good but I have everything crossed that it is!

Movie Reviews

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!

1917-war-movie-sam-mendes-best-picture

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!

1917-movie-giant-german-rats