Thursday Movie Picks: Period Drama

Happy Thursday, everyone! Brightburn is finally out in the UK today so I’m hoping to catch that tonight. I’m not setting my expectations too high, but I’m still looking forward to it. Anyway, Thursday also means Thursday Movie Picks, hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. I had to do a quick Google search to define this week’s topic of Period Drama, as I’ve always said I hated the genre without really knowing what it is.

To my joy, Google defined it as “a work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television”. Well blow me down, it’s a much broader term than I thought it was! Thanks to that revelation, I’m bringing a theme within the theme this week, as my 3 Period Drama picks all star Emma Stone!

period-drama-movies-favourite-emma-stone

The Favourite (2018)

This, to me, is my dictionary definition of Period Drama. Women in huge, stuffy dresses and men going off to war. What convinced me to see The Favourite though was the cast, obviously including Emma Stone, and the fact that it’s directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, known for creating all things weird and wonderful. Olivia Colman won an Oscar for her performance in this, and she was so deserving of it! I highly recommended this one if you haven’t seen it already.

period-drama-movies-help-emma-stone

The Help (2011)

It’s been years since I watched The Help, but writing this has reminded me how much I want to see it again. Emma Stone plays a writer called Skeeter who decided to interview the black women who look after wealthy families. Again, the cast here is stunning and it’s a shocking look into history. The Help is worth a watch if nothing more than to see Octavia Spencer deliver arguably her most famous line ever, “Eat my s**t”.

period-drama-movies-magic-moonlight-emma-stone

Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

I only watched this one recently, but once I realised my first two picks shared Emma Stone in common I just had to see if I could make it a hat trick, and huzzah! Here we go. I’ve since learned that Woody Allen movies are an acquired taste, so this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I quite liked it. It had just the right amount of humour, romance, and mystery to satisfy me.

Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

magic-in-the-moonlight-2014-movie-posterDirector: Woody Allen

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Runtime: 97 Minutes

Main Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Erica Leerhsen, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney

Plot: Set in the 1920s, Colin Firth plays a talented magician who spends his spare time debunking psychics. His pal Howard tells him about a young American psychic played by Emma Stone who has Howard absolutely convinced, so he abandons his family holiday to expose this psychic as the fraud she is.

My Thoughts: It wasn’t intentional but until a few months ago I’d never seen a Woody Allen movie. Maybe they’ve simply never appealed to me, but I wanted to change that so I started with Cafe Society (2016) and then moved on to Magic in the Moonlight (2014). I wouldn’t say I’ve been converted into a huge Woody Allen fan now but both movies were enjoyable enough. Are there any Woody Allen fans out there who can suggest where I should look next?

Anyway, I might not have loved it, but I really enjoyed Magic in the Moonlight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Colin Firth play such a hilarious, stuck up his own arse guy, but he makes it work so well! There’s definitely something hypocritical about a guy performing tricks for a living who does so whilst dressed as a Chinese man who just so happens to get a kick out of calling psychics frauds, but that just adds to the humour of it all.

Emma Stone is mesmerising as usual, she’s been my favourite actress for a long time now. Weirdly enough one of the only movies I’m still yet to see of hers just so happens to be another Woody Allen flick. Although the movie feels really slow, I was compelled to keep watching to find out whether she truly was a real psychic or a fraud. The conclusion is worth it!

magic-in-the-moonlight-emma-stone-colin-firth

Overall, I felt it fell short of being truly remarkable. The romance arc didn’t feel genuine enough to me, and although it had its funny moments there weren’t enough. Likewise, the mystery element wasn’t as strong as I would have hoped. Regardless, I still had fun watching it, and it’s not a bad movie in the slightest.

Best Bit: The twist reveal was my favourite part. Although I’d pretty much come to the conclusion myself by that point, it was still satisfying, and the chair trick took me by surprise!

Worst Bit: Brice was the most annoying character I’ve seen in a while. Ugh. Grow a spine, man! He was like a drooling puppy, but not in a cute way. Plus I wouldn’t care if it was Bradley Cooper or Justin Timberlake, anyone playing a ukelele and singing right in front of me is enough to make me cringe.

Fun Trivia: Wei Ling Soo, Stanley’s onstage persona, is a reference to Chung Ling Soo, the stage name of William Ellsworth Robinson (1861-1918), a popular magician in the U.S. and Europe for many years. Chung Ling Soo also tried to debunk spiritualists, and even wrote a book about it in 1898.

My Rating: 3 and a half spinning chairs. Just double check before you sit down, however, that you’re not about to sit in Colin Firth’s lap.

magic-in-the-moonlight-spinning-chair

The Favourite (2018)

the-favourite-movie-review-poster-2018Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Genre: Drama, Comedy, History

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Main Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss, Jenny Rainsford, James Smith, Tim Ingall, LillyRose Stevens, Liam Fleming

Plot: Set in 18th Century England, Queen Anne’s palace is thrown into chaos by the arrival of Abigail, the cousin of the Queen’s closest friend. A rivalry breaks out between the two as they fight to be the favourite.

My Thoughts: It’s been a whole week and I still don’t know how I feel about this movie. Really I should have known better because this is my 3rd Lanthimos movie (I’ve also seen The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and I’m not sure how I feel about those movies either. Pun not intended however – The Favourite is definitely my favourite out of the three.

I usually can’t stand Period Dramas but I’ll literally watch Emma Stone in any movie she does, and the amazingly positive praise I’ve read so far in reviews actually got me quite hyped up to see this in the end. I was joined in my screen by a pair of little old ladies…and that was it…so clearly this isn’t getting great marketing in the UK. That or everyone was still nursing a New Year’s hangover, who knows.

Anyway – I think I kind of loved this movie. Yes, it’s too period-y for my liking but absolutely everything else about the movie is stunning. The script is witty as hell, the cinematography is stunning, and the performances all round were top notch. Everyone was giving their A-Game.

I think it’s one of those movies you need to see twice, especially if you have mixed feelings on a first watch. I came home feeling quite confused but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since, and I fall in love a little more every day.

the-favourite-2018-queen-anne-olivia-colman

Best Bit: Despite my undying love for Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult was the star in my eyes. He was hilarious any time he was on the screen, and it was in the scene that he threw a strop and dropped the C-word that I realised what kind of ride I signed myself up to. Dude rocks make-up better than me, though…

Worst Bit: I’m sure this was something I picked up on in Lanthimos’ other movies but the music was really off-putting at some points. It could have been the cinema’s fault but there was one scene where I could barely hear what anyone was saying because it was so loud. One of those artistic things that flew right over my head most likely.

Fun Trivia: Rachel Weisz’s character, Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, is the direct ancestor of both Sir Winston Churchill and Princess Diana (born Diana Spencer). The former was actually born in the Spencer-Churchill family’s Blenheim Palace, which is mentioned as being still unfinished in the film, and was named after Sarah Churchill’s father-in-law, the first Sir Winston Churchill. Before becoming prime minister, he wrote a biography of Sarah Churchill’s husband, the first Duke of Marlborough (Mark Gatiss).
That wasn’t really very fun trivia at all now, was it? It’s all like this if you look it up. Did I mention I hate History?

My Rating: 4 out of 5 exquisite cups of the finest tea, which you should never, ever, accept from Emma Stone.

the-favourite-2018-poisoned-cup-of-tea

Review: Battle of the Sexes (2017)

battle-of-the-sexes-movie-review-2017If there’s anyone who can get me interested enough to sit through a biographical drama of tennis, it’s Emma Stone and Steve Carell. When I heard last year they were going to be starring in a movie together, I think I got my hopes up for another Crazy, Stupid, Love. If you can’t tell, I’m not the biggest fan of biographic movies (although I’m beginning to turn, to be honest) and sports has never been my thing.

Battle of the Sexes (2017) tells the true story of the 1973 tennis match between Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) in the sports world’s biggest struggle for women and equality. Fed up of women champions being offered as little as an eighth of the prize money that men are offered, Billie Jean starts her own tennis championship for women.

Meanwhile, self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs, in the midst of his struggles with a gambling addiction and a failing marriage, offers to play a match against the women of the tennis world with a huge prize fund, in the ultimate battle of the sexes. It’s an offer that Billie Jean ultimately can’t refuse, but she must also deal with her own personal struggles in her life.

battle-of-the-sexes-emma-stone-steve-carell

What I love the most about this movie is how engaging the story is. I was expecting something heavily political, something with a lot of tennis lingo that would go over my head, something that would end up boring the pants off me essentially. But I was engrossed from the very start; I guess my lack of knowledge about the great Billie Jean was also to thank.

You see whilst on tour, Billie Jean ends up falling in love with a hairdresser called Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough). The two have an exciting affair, but get caught by Billie Jean’s husband, Larry (Austin Stowell). Larry is one of the kindest characters I’ve ever seen on screen. He finds out about his wife’s affair but instead of confronting her, he does all he can to support her through the build up to the big match, even offering to call Marilyn to help whilst Billie Jean was ill. My heart genuinely hurt for the guy.

battle-of-the-sexes-emma-stone-andrea-riseborough

And then of course we have Bobby Riggs who provides a lot of the laughs during the movie. His sexist comments are so shocking at times and yet he remains an extremely likeable guy, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. His act stayed strong right up until the final match (I won’t tell you the outcome just in case you’re like me and had no idea how it would go) but the way his story ended was perfectly fitting.

Just before the credits roll the movie gives us a summary of what happened after the game which really moved me, and then we got shown photos of the real Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, and I just can’t believe how similar they are!

If you can’t tell, I have so much love for this movie. I honestly can’t find anything negative to say about it, so that’s why Battle of the Sexes gets 5 out of 5 tennis balls from me.

battle-of-the-sexes-emma-stone-andrea-riseborough

Review: La La Land (2017)

la-la-land-review-2017-posterWhen the trailer first came out for La La Land, I felt torn. Yes, the movie was reuniting Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the most amazing on-screen couple EVER. But it was a musical. I don’t like musicals. That’s what I told people, I don’t ‘do’ musicals. Well, apart from every Disney movie ever made, The Muppets movie, my undying guilty love for High School Musical, and the musical Broadway show I saw on honeymoon. Hm. Turns out I’m a musical fan after all.

Once I’d come to terms with this, I was hyping so much it literally hurt. With every review that cropped up in my feed, I felt a twinge of jealousy that one more person had seen it, whilst I was still waiting. Yet when my time came, I was terrified. When you’ve been looking forward to something for so long, and literally everyone has said how amazing it is (apart from someone on my Facebook feed who shall remain anonymous) you just get this feeling, what if I don’t enjoy it?

I shouldn’t have worried. I know that now. Mercifully, my worry vanished in the opening scene, when a highway full of stand still traffic burst into song about how how much of a beautiful and sunny day it is. People were dancing on top of their cars, a band was playing from the inside of a lorry, and everything was just so colourful. I was grinning from ear to ear, and then Ryan Gosling blared that car horn and I fell in love. To me, Ryan Gosling blaring a car horn is the equivalent to that boombox scene in Say Anything!

la-la-land-city-of-stars-ryan-gosling

Love is the theme here in La La Land. Love for your hometown, for your family and friends, for your dreams. Mia (Emma Stone) is an actress working at a coffee shop at the Warner Bros Studio, attending audition after audition to try and catch her big break. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a struggling musician playing piano at a jazz bar ran by a guy named Bill (J.K. Simmons) who has no appreciation for the music genre. Knowing that La La Land is directed by Damien Chazelle who also directed Whiplash, I wanted so badly for Bill to tell Seb that the music ‘wasn’t his tempo’, but complaining about it general kept me happy enough!

Watching Mia and Seb go from hating each other to loving each other was just so much fun to watch. The scene at the pool party was a favourite of mine,┬ámy husband and I were laughing so much I that I think we got a few funny looks for finding it a little too funny. Their musical number whilst walking to find Mia’s car was utter perfection, with the sarcastic comebacks going back and forth. It’s one of those songs you find yourself tapping your feet to without even noticing.

LLL d 12 _2353.NEF

Ugh, I could honestly gush about this movie for hours if I was given the chance. Just give it all the awards, please. The cinematography was stunning, the costumes were a delight (I would kill for Mia’s wardrobe, and my husband wants some of those shoes Seb wore!) and the ending was so bittersweet. I wasn’t even sure why I was crying in the end, I didn’t know whether I was happy or sad.

It was nights like that night that I was so grateful for Spotify, because I stuck the soundtrack on as soon as we got into the car. It was just a shame home was only 10 minutes away! A full 5/5 chicken on sticks from me.

la-la-land-review-chicken-stick