The Old Man & the Gun (2018)

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Director: David Lowery

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 93 Minutes

Main Cast: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Tika Sumpter, Keith Carradine, Elisabeth Moss

Plot: The real-life story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), including his amazing escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to a long string of heists that followed. Chasing Forrest down is Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) who is fascinated by both Forrest and his crimes.

My Thoughts: I got to see The Old Man & the Gun over a month in advance of its December 2018 release in the UK, thanks to ODEON’s Screen Unseen. They release 4 ridiculously cryptic clues in the run-up, although it’s reasonably easy to whittle down what few movies it could be based on release dates alone. This time though, I was so convinced it was going to be Widows (2018) that I would have offered to reimburse everyone’s tickets if it wasn’t. Not only was I wrong, but it was also a movie I had never even heard about!

This, however, led to my first completely blind cinema showing which was pretty exciting. I just wish I had loved the movie more than I did. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fascinating movie, and I can’t believe that it’s a true story. It’s just…for a movie all about bank robberies…it was kind of dull!

I’m just not the target audience for this at all. I’m sure Robert Redford fans will have an amazing time, and rightly so, he puts in an excellent performance, but it was just too quiet and understated for me. When it finished, I heard the man next to me turn to his cinema buddy and say “I really liked that. It was a nice movie.” I think he summed it up perfectly – this is a nice movie.

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Best Bit: The bemused faces on Forrest’s victims as they recount the crime, commenting on how much of a gentleman he was and how happy he looked made me chuckle every single time. That, and the ending got a laugh out of everyone in the room too.

Worst Bit: Not necessarily a bad moment but when John hands Forrest a $100 bill I couldn’t understand why. Was it the same bill that Forrest left a note for John on? It didn’t look the same. Was he simply paying him back, settling their debt? I don’t know!

Fun Trivia: In an interview he gave during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, Robert Redford talked about this comedic film being a good note to end on, since the actor wanted his “last acting job to be fun.”

My Rating: 2 and a half $100 bills from me. Are they blank, or do they have a note on? You tell me!

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The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

the-spy-who-dumped-me-poster-movieDirector: Susanna Fogel

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Hasan Minhaj, Kev Adams, Gillian Anderson, Ivanna Sakhno

Plot: Best friends Audrey and Morgan find themselves in the middle of an international terrorist conspiracy when Audrey learns that her ex-boyfriend is, in fact, a spy.

My Thoughts: After watching the reboot of Ghostbusters I realised I would blindly follow Kate McKinnon into whatever movies she happened to star in afterward. That said, I didn’t need much convincing to see The Spy Who Dumped Me, it ticks all of my Comedy boxes!

It’s always a worry with Comedies when the trailer makes the movie look so darn funny. Is it a good sign of what’s to come, or is it a case that the only funny jokes have all been crammed into the trailer, leaving nothing good left to look forward to? I’d say this movie sits comfortably in the middle of those two scenarios. Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis gel so well together, and I would love to see them in another comedy, but this one won’t be in anyone’s Top 10 of the year.

It had plenty of laugh out loud moments, but it’s at least 20 minutes too long, so the laughs are spread out between a heck of a lot of plot. The twists come at you almost as quickly as the jokes do, most of them obvious but it did leave me guessing a few times. I think if you’re looking for a Comedy with a spy theme you’re better off watching Spy (2015), but I do still recommend The Spy Who Dumped Me!

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Best Bit: The scene with the Cab/Taxi/Uber driver Lukas. You know when you come out of the cinema after watching something like Mission: Impossible or Fast & Furious and you want to drive home like you’re in the movie? (Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who feels like this) Lukas gets to live out that fantasy!

Worst Bit: Towards the end at the big flashy event, the scene with the trapeze act fell a bit flat, I thought. It was just a little too silly, and seemed to go on forever!

Fun Trivia: The movie “Red Sparrow” shot footage in the same Budapest café that was used in “The Spy Who Dumped Me.” After “Red Sparrow” finished filming, director Susanna Fogel said that there were plans to tear down the café in order to renovate the building, but they offered to let “The Spy Who Dumped Me” destroy it first.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 lipsticks from me. Don’t open them though…you might not like what you find inside. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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Don’t Breathe (2016)

dont-breathe-movie-poster-review-2016Director: Fede Alvarez

Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 88 Minutes

Main Cast: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Töröcsik

Plot: Three young friends put their skills and resources together to burgle houses. They find themselves targetting one house in particular when they learn of a sizeable fortune kept within, but their plans change for the worst when they learn the owner of the house is a blind veteran.

My Thoughts: This is the kind of horror movie I actively avoid, but whilst reading other blog posts and comments recently I’ve seen so many people mention Don’t Breathe and how good it was, and after wussing out on Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House (I can’t do it guys, I tried) I put on my big girl pants on got on with it! Who knew Clay Jenson was such a naughty boy eh?

Jokes aside, it’s a really decent movie. Scared the pants off me, and even pulled my husband’s attention away from his wargames – a high honour, I’ll have you know. It’s got a few cheap jumpscares in, but most of the scary moments are just in the atmosphere and wondering when the CREEPY BLIND GUY IS GOING TO TURN UP AGAIN. I would never make it as a criminal…

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Best Part: This was originally going to be my worst part. When the girl is hiding in the closet sending a text message to Clay Jenson. WHY. DON’T DO THAT. I started flapping my arms about trying to convince her to put her phone down, and lo and behold, once she hit send on that message, MY PHONE WENT OFF. It’s a good job it’s a well-loved and battered phone in the first place because it ended up on the floor.

Worst Part: The turkey baster. Turkey. Baster. Christmas dinner is ruined for me now.

Fun Trivia: Stephen Lang wore contact lenses that greatly restricted his vision, particularly in low light. The other actors, in the scene taking place in the dark, wore lenses that made them look like they had dilated pupils but also greatly restricted their vision.

My Rating: My husband gave me a look of disgust when I suggested using turkey basters as the rating, so Don’t Breathe gets 4 out of 5 ‘quiet’ signs…that means keep your phones on silent!

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A Simple Favor (2018)

a-simple-favor-movie-review-2018Director: Paul Feig

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Eric Johnson, Sarah Baker, Ian Ho, Kelly McCormack, Glenda Braganza

Plot: Mommy vlogger Stephanie gets herself tangled up in a mystery when her newly found friend Emily goes missing one day.

My Thoughts: A Simple Favour is the movie I never knew I needed. When I heard Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively were teaming up I was absolutely giddy. I didn’t even know at that point what the movie was even about but it could have been the scariest horror of the century and I would have still seen it. When I found out it was a crime/mystery and also a comedy – I don’t even have the words. If you haven’t seen the marketing that Blake Lively did on her Instagram then you need to check it out!

It’s a shame that every single movie released after 2014 involving a missing woman will find itself compared to Gone Girl – it’s happening with this one and they are so very different! I won’t waste time trying to justify myself by listing the differences, just please take my word for it.

Let’s get back to the leading ladies. Anna Kendrick shines as this seemingly perfect Mum, you know the sort, she’s the Mum who brings in home-baked gluten-free cookies to the school bake sale. In my experience, she’s the Mum at your baby group who has a 3-month-old who sleeps through the night and never cries. Fellow Mums, don’t take notice of the Stephanie’s of the world, they’re bad for your health! Sorry, going off topic now…

Blake Lively steals the show, that’s all I can say. She. Is. Incredible. I’m confident in saying that she made every straight female in the audience question their sexuality – me included. Here I was thinking she was the lucky one when in fact It’s Ryan Reynolds!

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Best Bit: Blake Lively’s wardrobe. That’s a shallow thing to pick for best bit I know but if you’ve seen the movie you’ll understand. If I wore a pinstripe suit I would look like a strange young man on his way to an interview – how does Blake do it?!

Worst Bit: Putting my serious hat on, the ending is the only thing that lets the movie down. It was hella fun but absolutely all over the place and there will be people who won’t forgive it.

Fun Trivia: The gin used in the martinis shared by Anna and Blake’s characters is Aviation (American) Gin, a company owned by Blake Lively’s husband, Ryan Reynolds.

My Rating: 4 and a half very strong martinis, which are socially acceptable to drink anytime after 5pm. Unless you’re a Mum, in which case you’re probably going to need one by 10am.

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American Animals (2018)

american-animals-movie-poster-review-2018Director: Bart Layton

Genre: Crime, Drama

Runtime: 116 Minutes

Main Cast: Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd

Plot: This is the true story of 4 young men who, after watching many heist movies including Reservoir Dogs, plan a heist of their own to steal millions of dollars worth of art from their University’s library.

My Thoughts: I went into this movie completely blind. It was my local Odeon’s “Screen Unseen” screening, a special event where they show a secret movie not yet released in the UK. I didn’t have any kind of inkling what the movie might be, and I hadn’t even heard of American Animals until the BBFC rating screen appeared!

So with that in mind, maybe the excitement of it all, combined with a complete lack of expectation will skew my thoughts, but I had a brilliant time watching this. It’s told in partly a documentary format with the men of the story making an appearance to give their own accounts of what happened back in 2003. Personally I had no idea so the outcome was always going to be a surprise, but seeing how old the 4 men are now and knowing how much time has passed since the heist, it was easy to deduce that nothing too serious went down for them to be walking free in the present day.

That said, it was a wild ride! You could quite easily split the movie into 2 distinct halves, before the heist and after the heist. The before half was interesting and quite humorous in the way it was filmed, think I, Tonya but not quite as outrageous.

However, it was the second half that makes American Animals so memorable for me. If you’ve ever watched a heist movie and thought “pshht, I could do that” then this is a much watch. It turns serious, fast, and I was honestly frozen in place with my heart thumping in my chest through some moments.

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Best Bit: The conflicting accounts from the 4 men, and how the movie changes with it. It amused me!
“The guy was wearing a blue tie” – Guy in question on screen has a blue tie.
“He had a dark coat and red tie” – Guy in question on screen’s tie has suddenly changed colour.

Worst Bit: I say worst only because it made me feel so uneasy (as intended really) but the moment when the guys ‘take care of the librarian’.

Fun Trivia: During filming the actors were not allowed to meet their real life counterparts because the director feared they would sympathise and/or play them in a certain light.

My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 red ties. Blue ties. Oh, I don’t even know anymore! Did he have a beard?!

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Skyscraper (2018)

skyscraper-movie-poster-2018-reviewDirector: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Main Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor, McKenna Roberts, Hannah Quinlivan, Roland Møller, Byron Mann, Chin Han

Plot: Will Sawyer once worked as part of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, but quit after a traumatic incident. He started up a small security business and thanks to his connections, he has been given the opportunity to assess the security for the world’s tallest skyscraper before the residential floors are opened. When a fire breaks out in one of the middle floors trapping his wife and children, Will does whatever he can to save them.

My Thoughts: I’m not saying I went into this with low expectations, but I think we all know what kind of movie Skyscraper is going to be. It’s cheesy as hell, and if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the whole movie already, but I thought it was really entertaining!

I just can’t help but love Dwayne Johnson, he seems like such a genuinely nice guy, and although his movies aren’t going to Oscar nominees, he knows how to make an entertaining popcorn movie, and that’s just what I love to watch sometimes! It’s not too long, the pacing is good, and I was enjoying every minute, so I can’t complain really.

With my critical hat on, the twists are obvious, the bad guys are textbook and there are more than a few glaring plot holes, but if you started watching Skyscraper expecting an elaborate and shocking story then that’s on you!

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Best Bit: As ridiculous as it was, both scenes involving duct tape are brilliant. I want to see those moves used in the next Mission Impossible!

Worst Bit: The scene early on where Will’s wife needs him to fix her phone and he tells her to turn it off and on again. It was so odd that I just knew it was going to come back again at some point in the movie, and when it does it’s groan-worthy.

Fun Trivia: When Will Sawyer and Zhao first meet, Sawyer greets him with some Mandarin, and Zhao replies in the same language but there are no subtitles on the screen. He is asking in jest, “Your Mandarin is quite good; how is your English?”.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 rolls of duct tape. That should be enough to sort out a wound or you know, scale a skyscraper…

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

sicario-2-day-of-the-soldado-movie-reviewDirector: Stefano Sollima

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Main Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener

Plot: The war on the US – Mexico border continues to escalate as the cartels have now begun trafficking terrorists across the border. Matt Graver teams up once again with Alejandro with a plan to start the cartels warring against each other, involving kidnapping the youngest child of the head of the biggest and most powerful cartel.

My Thoughts: I was late to the game when Sicario (2015) came out, but it was well worth catching up with – it’s one of the darkest movies I’ve seen with so much tension. I was expecting more of the same with the sequel, even though I still don’t feel like it needs one. Thankfully as a sequel, it’s a great movie, but still fell a bit short of the mark for me.

Firstly, I didn’t think I would see a more grim opening to a movie than the original Sicario, and now I have. This one is definitely darker, and grittier than the first, mainly due to the subject matter. It doesn’t hold back at all. There’s also a side story running parallel to the main mission about a young boy being recruited by the cartels that’s desperately sad, because I guess even though it’s a fictional movie, this stuff happens in the real world, too.

The only thing that I can complain about is the scale of it all. For me, it felt like the movie started with a huge, wide-spreading story, and as the time went on it ended up becoming more and more about a very small segment of the wider picture.

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Best Bit: It’s a spoiler so I’ll type it really faintly and you can highlight if you want to read it! I was shocked when Alejandro was killed off but when you realise the bullet went straight through his cheeks…it was so gnarly but a really cool moment!

Worst Bit: That opening scene in the supermarket. The moment it dawned on me what I was about to watch. Each time made me jump out my seat and I genuinely felt sick for a while afterwards.

Fun Trivia: Emily Blunt was originally attached to reprise her role in Sicario as FBI Agent Kate Macer. However, director Stefano Sollima ultimately decided not to use Blunt or her character in the film, noting that Macer represented the moral compass in Sicario, whereas he did not want any character to serve as moral guidance in the sequel.

My Rating: 4 school buses out of 5, driving through the dead of night.

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