Movie Reviews

Cruella (2021)

cruella-movie-poster-review-2021Director: Craig Gillespie

Genre: Comedy, Crime

Runtime: 134 Minutes

Main Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Mark Strong, John McCrea, Emily Beecham, Tipper Seifert-Cleveland, Kayvan Novak

Plot: Set in London in the 1970’s. a young Estella is determined to make a name for herself in the world of fashion. Forced to live with two fellow thieves whilst they were all still children, Estella grows up surviving through petty crime until she finally gets herself a job working for the designer she admires most, The Baroness.

My Thoughts: I’m in that small camp of people who are all for these live-action Disney remakes. I’m yet to encounter one that butchers a precious childhood memory and most (I’ll admit, not all) have been fantastic, so no complaints from me here. However, I’m not a fan of 101 Dalmatians. I just didn’t really watch it as a kid, so I don’t have that nostalgic tie to it. I have a soft spot for villains though and I’m OBSESSED with Emma Stone, so I’ve been really looking forward to Cruella. Letting Emma Stone unleash her inner crazy side is always the right thing to do.

The movie has it’s issues. The pacing and the long runtime didn’t work at all towards the end. It felt like the movie had come to a satisfying conclusion with an opening to a sequel and then no, there’s still another 30 mins to go so put that popcorn back down! Also, am I meant to be rooting for Jasper and Horace so much? It’s fun because the henchmen are only ever background noise in most movies and yet they almost steal the limelight here.

Emma Thompson makes an excellent villain here. There’s no good vs evil in Cruella, just one evil vs a bigger evil and oh these girls are on fire. I just can’t. It’s taken over a week to make my thoughts coherent, I might actually love Emma Stone more than Adam Driver at this point. She’s the perfect choice for this clumsy girl just trying to make an impression, and somehow even better with the black and white hair and the outfits and the cane and the “darling” and oh, just simply breathtaking. Give the movie a chance, just for me? And stay for the mid-credits to see what’s coming over the horizon from Disney.

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Best Bit: I enjoyed this from the start, but the movie is at it’s best when Cruella finally takes over Estella and the battle between her and The Baroness truly begins. The outfits just keep getting better and better until that moment of ‘oh no, she didn’t, did she?’

Worst Bit: It’s definitely messed up when I find myself happily watching movies about terrorists or husbands avenging their murdered wives, but watching a movie about a woman who kills dogs for fun gives me pause. I won’t spoil how Disney handled that element to Cruella’s character but I was so tense about it!

Fun Trivia: A popular myth is that filming was delayed due to Emma Stone dislocating her shoulder at a Spice Girls concert in London, where she fell off her friend’s shoulders in June 2019. Stone later explained that the night before the Spice Girls concert she was running in boots on a wood floor, slipped, and broke her shoulder in two places. She went to the concert with her arm in a sling, and didn’t go in for an x-ray until the next day. Filming was delayed while Stone went to physical therapy.

My Rating: I keep going back and forth in my mind about whether this is a 4 or a 4.5, I need something in between those two. But for now, it’s a solid 4.5 circular slices of banana stuck to Estella’s face.

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Blogathons

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!

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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.

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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”.

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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.

Movie Reviews

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!

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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.

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Movie Reviews

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.

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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.

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Movie Reviews

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.

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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.

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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.

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