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.

Marriage Story (2019)

marriage-story-movie-review-2019-netflixDirector: Noah Baumbach

Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever, Azhy Robertson, Wallace Shawn, Martha Kelly

Plot: Charlie and Nicole had a seemingly happy marriage, working together for Charlie’s theatre company. But things changed, their feelings changed, and now they’re navigating a difficult divorce and battling over custody of their son.

My Thoughts: It’s Saturday night, the kiddo is fast asleep, the bestie is coming over, takeout has been ordered, what shall we watch? A devastatingly upsetting movie about divorce. Hurrah! Wasn’t that a great idea? I need to watch this again, alone, because I held back my tears when really this movie demands you sob aloud. Lots. We’re reaching the peak of Adam Driver season and if he doesn’t take home an Oscar for this one I will RIOT. How an actor can express that much emotion is beyond me, some scenes were honestly difficult to watch because of it. It felt like I was intruding on something private.

It’s raw emotion throughout. We don’t get to see how Charlie and Nicole got together, see how in love they once were, only hear about it whilst they talk to therapists and lawyers. But you can tell. You can tell the feelings are still there. And whilst it’s powerful throughout, there are 2 key scenes for me that actually made me stop breathing. If ever I need a good cry to let things out, this is where I’ll turn.

But then, Marriage Story is so funny at the same time, in those little moments. I know if ever the worst happened with my own marriage my mum would be just like Nicole’s. She already takes his side in any argument ever. Could you imagine a scene where a husband is handed divorce papers that he isn’t expecting to be hilarious? Because it is in this movie! Not forgetting the knife scene of course, we’ll come to that in a short moment. Honestly, I’m still a little lost for words about it all. I think that’s how you’re meant to feel!

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Best Bit: *SPOILER-Y WARNING* When Charlie started playing with the flick knife early in the movie I knew the shot was too long to be a one-off moment. The scene where he was being monitored and assessed with his son and ended up accidentally slicing his arm open without realising was probably the funniest and most shocking thing I’ve seen all year! And the kitchen roll! Oh boy, I need to see it again…is there a gif yet of Adam Driver being terrible at getting kitchen roll?!

Worst Bit: I mean the worst bits to watch in Marriage Story are actually the best bits performance wise so it’s unfair to mention how the sight of Adam Driver, broken and on his knees completely destroyed me. So DAMN. The way the legal system works in divorce cases is just so unfair, isn’t it?!

Fun Trivia: Adam Driver’s performance of Sondheim’s Being Alive from the musical Company, was recorded live and done in 1 take.
(Hollywood please let Adam Driver star in happier movies. And sing more.)

My Rating: 4 and a half pies used to conceal divorce papers, which apparently makes the whole thing worse.

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Noelle (2019)

noelle-disney-christmas-movie-2019-posterDirector: Marc Lawrence

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Shirley MacLaine, Chelah Horsdal, Andy Nez, Billy Eichner, Julie Hagerty, Maceo Smedley, Kingsley Ben-Adir

Plot: Nick and Noelle’s father has passed away, leaving Nick to take on his role of Santa Claus. Nick struggles with the pressure however, and after Noelle suggests he takes a weekend away to de-stress, Christmas itself is in jeopardy when he fails to return.

My Thoughts: Christmas has well and truly landed in my house, our tree is up, mince pies are readily available, and I’m consuming as many festive movies as I can! There’s no way I was going to skip Noelle. It combines my favourite time of year and one of my favourite actresses. And! It’s a Disney movie! Can I really ask for anything more? It draws a few comparisons with Elf (2003) for its ‘fish out of water’ vibe, and whilst it’s nowhere near as good, there’s still a lot to like.

What is there to like, you ask? How about the cutest outfits December can buy, an adorable baby reindeer called Snowcone, and Bill Hader leading a festive yoga class? If that’s not enough for you then bah, humbug. Billy Eichner is back, you might know him better as the voice behind Timon in the Lion King remake. I wish he was given a little more free rein, though. I was hoping he would have a hissy fit like he did in Parks & Rec but his character was much more restrained.

For me, a Christmas movie needs to do 3 things. It needs to make me laugh, which this did many a time, even if they were groan-laughs at terrible puns. It needs to make me feel festive, which it did, mainly in the form of outfit envy over Anna Kendrick’s elf getup. Finally, it needs to be so darn sweet it makes me cry and goddamnit did Noelle make me cry. The scenes at the children’s shelter made me sob like a baby.

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Best Bit: I couldn’t even list all of the puns but they are relentless and I love it. Also, the candy cane gavel joke never got old. I also kind of want one.

Worst Bit: This was almost my Best Bit instead because the CGI reindeer at the shopping village were SO TERRIBLE it was actually hilarious. The people in the background weren’t even looking at them in some scenes. Totally took me out of the movie but for funny reasons. Like, that CGI would have looked bad 15 years ago. That’s how much it stood out.

Fun Trivia: In the scene at the store where Noelle is in the freezer, you can see a Disney Duffy doll behind her, and just after that, a guest is seen purchasing a Shellie May doll.

My Rating: 3 and a half iPads which seemingly everyone in this movie wanted for Christmas. To be honest Santa, I wouldn’t say no if you’re offering…

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Frozen II (2019)

frozen-2-movie-poster-review-2019Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Musical

Runtime: 103 Minutes

Main Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter

Plot: Since the events of Frozen (2013), the city of Arendelle is peaceful. That is, until Elsa begins hearing a strange sound calling her to en enchanted forest surrounded by fog. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, the group travel into the unknown.

My Thoughts: I didn’t actually want to write a review for Frozen II to begin with, because as much as I loved it, all I find myself talking about is the bits I didn’t like, and I knew anything I wrote would become a whinge fest. So I want to push out all these positives first. Yes, I was really looking forward to it. Yes, I had an absolute blast watching it! But I didn’t love it as much as the original, and without trying to sound like a hipster, I loved the original before the hype took off.

It largely comes down to two things. The songs were nowhere near as good as the first. I may have had 6 years to listen to the original soundtrack compared with a week for the sequel, but with the exception of Lost In The Woods none of the other songs stuck with me. Elsa gets two powerful numbers this time around but neither are Let It Go. Olaf gets another song of his own showcasing his hilarious naivety, but it’s not as catchy as In Summer. My other gripe is with Anna. She’s my favourite character, and I was really hoping she would get the chance to shine this time around, but her only purpose was to follow Elsa around and beg her to do everything together.

See – I told you I was going to sound negative! It’s still a brilliant movie, though. The plot is more complex and it’s a much more mature story, which is perfect because those little kids who fell in love with the original are teenagers now. My littlest brother sang Olaf’s song in a talent competition when he was 11 years old – and now he’s too cool to even watch Frozen II!

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Best Bit: As much as I loved Kristoff’s cheesy musical number, nothing at all beats Olaf explaining the plot of the original movie. In fact, I would quite happily watch an Olaf recap of any sequel movie, ever. Disney – can you get Josh Gad on the case of summing up The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi for us?

Worst Bit: I saw what you were trying to do, Disney. You know how much we love that snowman and you wanted to make us cry. But nothing will be sadder than “some people are worth melting for” and so my eyes stayed dryer than the desert that John Wick had to trek through.

Fun Trivia: Exactly like its predecessor Frozen (2013), the final line of the film is Elsa asking “Are you ready?”

My Rating: 3 and a half Oscars that Lost In The Woods deserves for Best Original Song in February!

frozen-2-into-the-woods-oscar-nomination

Knives Out (2019)

knives-out-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Rian Johnson

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 130 Minutes

Main Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford

Plot: In the morning following his birthday, Harlan Thrombey is found dead. The police have ruled the case as suicide but private detective Benoit Blanc has been annonymous hired by someone who suspects foul play. The entire family is called together before Harlan’s will is released for more questioning.

My Thoughts: My husband claims he reads all of my posts, I can guarantee he won’t read this one – he’s sick of me talking about Knives Out! I’ve been waiting for this movie for months. If you know me, you know I love a murder mystery, and I feel like Rian Johnson knew that and directed it just for me. I’ve only ever read one Agatha Christie novel (it was tough) but if you’re a fan this is definitely the movie for you.

One family, all together on one night. Several arguments happen during the party. But one was much worse than the others. One caused a family member to murder another…but who? And why? Daniel Craig is going to find out, and oh boy I hope he carries on taking these funny roles. I don’t give a monkeys about James Bond – this is the kind of role he should be taking on! I worried early on that the movie had played it’s hand far too soon, to be honest it’s still my only concern, but there are still many twists along the way.

And whilst I know my husband isn’t reading I can tell you this. He’s always annoyingly spot on when guessing secret murderers but he was wrong this time! Turns out he’s only human, after all. Mum if you’re reading, you were right! Kind of. You’ll know what I mean when you watch it yourself, but I bet you’ve already forgotten who you picked when I showed you poster, right?

knives-out-2019-harlan-family

Best Bit: I have many favourite parts I can’t talk about for spoiler reasons, but the MVP of the family has to be Greatnana Wanetta. She only has like, 3 lines, but they’re glorious. She’s amazing (and terrifying) even when she doesn’t speak.
Also, I need to share some appreciation for Chris Evans in chunky knitwear ❤

Worst Bit: I panicked for a full 10 minutes when Marta threw up in that cup and then put it back in the cup holder before Benoit Blanc got into the passengers seat. I was expecting something seriously gross to happen and whilst I’m so glad it didn’t, WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT TO ME?!

Fun Trivia: The police detective heard on the television series Marta’s sister is watching is voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Billed in the film’s Credits as Detective Hardrock) Gordon-Levitt has appeared in all five of the films Rian Johnson has directed.

My Rating: 4 and a half buckets of fried chicken, because ever since Benoit Blanc was referred to as CSI KFC, I’ve been craving one.

knives-out-review-detective-csi-kfc

Eli (2019)

eli-2019-netflix-movie-poster-review (1)Director: Ciarán Foy

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Runtime: 98 Minutes

Main Cast: Charlie Shotwell, Lili Taylor, Kelly Reilly, Max Martini, Sadie Sink, Deneen Tyler, Katia Gomez

Plot: Eli is a young boy so sick that even the air could kill him, forcing him to live inside a bubble. His parents have tracked down a doctor who claims to be able to cure him so they travel across the country to get Eli the treatment he needs.

My Thoughts: I wasn’t fussed about seeing Eli, but quite a few bloggers have mentioned it recently and although they didn’t love it, they had very mixed thoughts about the ending and that was enough for me to give it a go. Maybe my expectations were really low, but I thought it was pretty good! Far better than another of Netflix’s 2019 horror movies I watched, Wounds (2019).

The best way I can describe Eli is it’s like the lovechild of Bubble Boy and A Cure for Wellness. It’s obvious as soon as the family arrive at Dr. Horn’s huge mansion that something isn’t right. The horror element kicks in at night when Eli is woken up. He sees the ghosts of other children who were supposedly cured at the same place, and it’s basically an opportunity for jump scares. I watched most of those scenes through a blanket because I hate them!

And then we come to the ending. I already knew it was a bit of a love it or hate it ending, and I’m leaning more into the love it camp. It was unexpected, and yet there were more than a few clues along the way so it’s not like it fell off the rails or anything. All in all, I was surprised for the better, and whilst it isn’t an amazing, 5-star movie, you can find many worse ways to spend 98 minutes with Netflix at the moment.

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Best Bit: Sadie Sink! You know her best as Max from Stranger Things, and he’s one of the best parts of this movie. I can’t tell you too much about her, of course…

Worst Bit: I don’t know what’s worse, the awful excuses for human beings making fun of Eli at the start of the movie in his makeshift hazmat outfit, or Eli’s parents for doing next to nothing about defending him.

Fun Trivia: *BIG SPOILERS* After leaving the Motel, they drive pass a rural crossroads in the middle of four fields. Legend has it that Robert Johnson made a deal with the Devil at a crossroads. This alludes to the fact that they are, in some way, dealing with the Devil.

My Rating: 3 and a half mirrors, in which you can see…well I’m not sure, because I stopped watching after 3 jump scares!

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Last Christmas (2019)

last-christmas-2019-movie-review-posterDirector: Paul Feig

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Runtime: 103 Minutes

Main Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, Michelle Yeoh, Jade Anouka, Patti LuPone, Rob Delaney, Lydia Leonard, Sue Perkins, Rebecca Root

Plot: Kate’s life changed for the worse when she was seriously ill a couple of years ago. She sleeps on the couch of a friend’s house each night until they tire of her and kick her out, she refuses to speak to her mother, and her boss at the Christmas store she works at has all but given up on her. That is, until she meets Tom, whose optimism turns her life around.

My Thoughts: I’ve loved every Paul Feig movie I’ve seen, and Christmas is my favourite time of year, so I was so excited when the trailer for Last Christmas finally came out. Then I saw on Twitter a lot of tweets about the trailer giving too much away and I kind of steered clear just in case. I mean, the main character suffered a huge trauma and the movie itself is called ‘Last’ Christmas so I knew it would be a weepy one, but I didn’t want to find out the entire plot via Twitter.

That said, I’m marking the rest of this post as SPOILER TERRITORY. Go and watch the movie first, unless you’ve already seen Twitter or Reddit, because I looked just, and sure enough, the internet worked out what happened. You clever lot, you. Anyway, I adored this movie. Emilia Clarke is a national treasure. She can say more with her eyebrows than with words, I’m telling you! And Henry Golding? Swoon. I knew something was off straight away, though. You’re telling me someone in 2019 doesn’t have a phone? To be honest, I just assumed he was a figment of Emilia’s imagination…some sort of Christmas spirit that turns up only when she needs him. I guess I wasn’t far off.

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And then the twist. My bestie Steph was with me at the time. When Emilia went back to Henry’s place to find out no one had lived there for ages? Steph worked it out just like that and told me…and then cue the uncontrollable sobbing. We were literally sat there crying and wiping our eyes in sync…we were a right mess! After that, it felt like it should have all been so obvious…garden and bench included but…ugh.

Best Bit: Just when I thought I would never smile again, it was Christmas Day, and Emma Thompson made a comment about lesbian pudding. Can we please protect Emma Thompson at all costs? She is legendary in whatever role she’s playing!

Worst Bit: I come to the cinema to forget how terrible the world is, our little island in particular. Did you HAVE to stick Brexit into this?!

Fun Trivia: Paul Feig was originally not interested in doing another Holiday-comedy, after his previous entry, Unaccompanied Minors (2006), was a critical and commercial failure. However, after reading the script, personally sent to him by Emma Thompson, he was convinced.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 ugly tree decorations that Santa would proudly display in her store!

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