Movie Reviews

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Film & Wine Club

the-shawshank-redemption-movie-review-posterDirector: Frank Darabont

Genre: Drama, Crime

Runtime: 142 Minutes

Main Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston, James Whitmore, Jeffrey DeMunn, Larry Brandenburg

Plot: Based on a short story by Stephen King – upstanding banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent to prison in the 1940s for the murder of his wife and her lover. Whilst there he puts his accountancy work into practice and befriends several inmates, including a man named Red (Morgan Freeman), known to be able to smuggle things inside for a small fee.

My Thoughts: Time for another Film & Wine Club post! Last week it was finally one of my Dad’s movies picked out of the hat, The Shawshank Redemption. Cue a groan from my Mum but to be fair, I’ve seen this movie once before and it’s also IMDB’s #1 movie of all time, so we can’t poke fun at Dad this time around. It’s tough to watch a movie for the first time that’s been given such a high level of praise and keep your thoughts unbiased, I couldn’t put enough into words the first time I watched it but a second viewing really helped.

Simply put, it’s just fantastic story-telling. It’s a king-sized movie but the time feels like nothing at all, it’s so easy to just fall into Andy’s story and want to know what happens next, is he really guilty, will he ever get out? With a movie this good, it’s easy to see why so many other stories set in prison take inspiration from The Shawshank Repemption. I don’t remember the last time I felt such a strong connection with a character – the anger at the guards and the way they treat Andy, the pure joy seeing Andy, Red and the others enjoying a cold beer on the roof, just all the emotions!

It’s the ultimate story of hope, and I guess even a second viewing wasn’t enough for me to get many thoughts into words. I think my Dad got his own little bit of redemption for picking this movie, and he’ll need all the goodwill he can get because the next movie picked is another of his choices, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! It’s a movie I’ve wanted to see for a really long time now, but I’ve never been excited enough about it to pick it over anything else, so our little club is the perfect opportunity to finally see it!


Best Bit: There are so many great moments but nothing can top the ending really, can it? Finding out how Andy did what he did, seeing Red finally get what he’s been working so hard on, and the final conclusion? It’s just perfect in every way.

Worst Bit: The introduction of Tommy (Gil Bellows) was such a pivotal part of the story, and whilst we were all wondering of Andy was guilty, Tommy gives us the answer. What happens after that? The rage!

Fun Trivia: Andy and Red’s opening chat in the prison yard, in which Red is throwing a baseball, took nine hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman threw the baseball for the entire nine hours without a word of complaint. He showed up for work the next day with his left arm in a sling.

My Rating: A full 5 out of 5 harmonicas that Andy had to get through Red’s competitor.


Movie Reviews

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) – Film & Wine Club

mr-and-mrs-smith-movie-reviewDirector: Doug Liman

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Runtime: 120 Minutes

Main Cast: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington, Keith David, Chris Weitz, Rachael Huntley, Michelle Monaghan, Stephanie March

Plot: John (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) have been happily married for five (or six!) years, but they’re now stuck in a rut. It’s remarkable they made it that far, as unbeknownst to each other, they’re both spies, working for rival organisations. It all comes crashing down on them when they both become each other’s next target.

My Thoughts: So we realised that I have a particular type of movie at our last Film & Wine Club, and this time we learnt that my Mum does too! Her two picks so far have been True Lies and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Clearly, she loves spy movies where the spies lie to their spouses about their profession! Now I’m wondering if she might be a spy… Anyway, I was excited to see her next pick because I’ve heard it’s a fun movie and I’ve actually seen very little of Angelina Jolie’s work!

It was every bit as fun as I hoped it would be. You obviously have to go in with an open mind, I couldn’t hide a chocolate bar from my husband, let alone a secret life as a spy, but if you’re up for a bit of silliness there’s a lot to enjoy! Whilst I’ll always hold a grudge on behalf of Jennifer Aniston, it’s impossible to deny the chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie here. I mean, my goodness, I need to open a window just thinking about them together! That might be the UK heatwave though, come to think of it.

One of my favourite little details was the teams behind the Smiths. Jane works alongside an all-female team and they have a stunning building to work in, with plush furnishings and a neat and calm atmosphere. Whereas John and his boys barely look dressed at the best of times and work from one of the most run-down rooms I’ve ever seen. The banter is so much fun, too. It felt a little bit too long for me but it’s definitely something I would watch again.


Best Bit: There are some great moments where I really thought for a moment one of them might have actually killed the other, but the fight scene at their house is by far the best scene in the whole movie, I think most people who have seen this would agree. Although I bet dominatrix Angelina Jolie would be a close second!

Worst Bit: I use this phrase too much, but if I put my critic hat on I’d say the movie works best when it isn’t fulfilling the plot. It needs one of course but some of the story just feels forced and it’s just a lot more fun to see spies in action!

Fun Trivia: After the Smiths discover each other’s identities, Jane speeds away in the car and John runs after her. He ends up tripping and crashing through a fence, and his gun goes off. The trip was a mistake, and Brad Pitt’s reaction, as well as his following ad-lib, “Oh dear God!”, were genuine.

My Rating: 3 and a half broken glasses to use whilst raising a toast to a happy marriage.


Movie Reviews

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) – Film & Wine Club

peanut-butter-falcon-movie-reviewWell, it’s a good job we had to skip a week of Film & Wine Club (more about that here if you don’t know what I’m talking about) because I’m so behind on writing! My Mum had social plans, how dare she, right?! Me and Dad reckon she made plans on purpose because the next movie choice just happened to be one of his! For context, the last time my Dad was allowed to pick a movie was his birthday around 3 years ago when he made us all watch the full-length version of Lawrence of Arabia. Obviously, a classic movie, but with the amount of pause breaks my family have it took us around 5 hours (perhaps a slight exaggeration!).

Anyway, the third pick was another of mine, The Peanut Butter Falcon! A re-watch for me of course so I won’t do a full review of it but it certainly made me realise something. Put on the spot to pick 3 great movies that I want to recommend, the first 2 were both movies containing an adventure in the wild with 2 characters who at first don’t like each other much, but become family by the end. Turns out I have a type without even knowing! My third film into the hat was Donnie Darko which I later realised I’d already convinced my family to see, I have a back-up in mind but I can’t tell you guys because my parents read here!

I adore The Peanut Butter Falcon, though. It’s a beautiful story about friendship, family, overcoming the impossible and living life to the full, following your dreams. Zak (Zachary Gottsagen) is a young guy with Down’s Syndrome, forced to live in a retirement home but desperate to escape to find the wrestling school ran by his hero. Whilst on the run he meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who is also on the run after making some dangerous enemies. Tyler recently lost his brother and holds himself guilty, which ultimately leads him to helping Zak pursue his dream whilst also escaping his predicament.

I could put on my critic hat and talk about how great it is to see Down’s syndrome represented in such a positive light, something I’ve never seen in any other movie, and how phenomenal it was for Zachary Gottsagen to play that role, and I would be so right! But all I really need to say is how wholesome the movie is. I dare you to try and dislike it.

That watch was over 2 weeks ago so tomorrow I’ll fill in the gaps with another Film & Wine Club post, then I’ll be up to date! But after this we picked another film out of the hat and it turned out to be another of my Mum’s choices, Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), so stay tuned for my thoughts on that!

Random Posts

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – Film & Wine Club

I’m so behind on blogging this week! I’ll keep this brief as I’ve already talked lots about Hunt for the Wilderpeople on this blog, but last Friday me and parents held our little Film & Wine Club and the movie picked out of the hat was one of my picks, Hunt for the Wilderpeople! Check out my post last week to find out more about our little club.


Well, I was nervous about introducing this movie to my parents. Firstly, it’s not the kind of movie they watch AT ALL. What if they hated it? Worse, what if they found it really boring? Secondly, I might have hailed it a 5/5 movie 5 years ago but I haven’t seen it for a few years myself, what if I didn’t love it as much anymore?

Well thankfully, I loved it just as much as I did before, and it seemed like they really enjoyed it too! Although I completely forgot about the dog. Rest assured, I’ve introduced my poor Mum to that website Sorry again!

I’m a full week behind because it’s Film & Wine Club again tonight, and embarrassingly the next movie is another one of my choices. Fingers crossed the next pick is one of theirs because not only am I looking forward to watching something I haven’t seen before, but the person who picked the movie is in charge of picking the wine and snacks!

Tonight’s movie is going to be The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019), and thank goodness my parents enjoyed my last pick because this is very much in the same genre as Hunt for the Wilderpeople.