Jojo Rabbit (2019)

jojo-rabbit-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Taika Waititi

Genre: War, Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Main Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant,

Plot: Jojo is a 10-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a Nazi, aided by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. When he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house, his world is turned upside down.

My Thoughts: What are you watching at the cinema tonight Allie? A movie I’ve been waiting months for about a little Nazi boy and his imaginary friend, Hitler! Yeah, there’s no way to explain the plot of Jojo Rabbit without it sounding batshit crazy, but then again, it IS batshit crazy in all the best ways! Only Taika Waititi can pull off a movie like this and make it so darn good. The absurd plot has definitely drawn in a wide crowd, I only wish Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) did the same.

I came for laughs and I was not disappointed. We only got brief glimpses of imaginary Hitler which works perfectly because too much would have been obnoxious. It’s one of those movies that needs to be seen at least twice because I’m sure there are some cracking jokes I missed the first time around. Scarlet Johansson was surprisingly not annoying and the bit where she calls her own kid ‘Shitler’ made me laugh a lot. Not quite as much as a canine-related joke, though.

You know what I didn’t come to the cinema for? For my heart to be ripped out of my chest and stamped on. No spoilers but there’s a moment halfway through that the tone turns drastically, and I didn’t even notice it happen for too long. Sam Rockwell was an absolute gem too, his character arc was superb. Like Waititi’s other movies, this might be too wild for the casual movie fan but it’s without a doubt one of my favourites of the year.

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Also – I really need to show some love for little Roman Griffin Davis. The kid is 11 years old, and this is his first-ever professional acting gig. Like, that’s mental, is it not?! He was SO GOOD.

Best Bit: How could I actually pick one moment? Sam Rockwell’s incredible costume? Jojo accidentally blowing himself up? The book Jojo makes, an expose about Jews? How about Stephen Merchant somehow being creepier than his character in Good Boys (2019) in front of a child? I could pick 10 at least!

Worst Bit: I love Rebel Wilson, don’t get me wrong. But she felt ever so slightly out of place here and her accent was terribly bad. I did love her gang of clones, though!

Fun Trivia: Taika Waititi said that in the scene when the Gestapo come to Jojo’s house “Heil Hitler” is said 31 times in one minute. He wanted a funny moment and also wanted to illustrate how ridiculous and unnecessary Nazi protocols were.

My Rating: 4 and a half German Shepherds…not German Shepherds…!

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Just Mercy (2019)

just-mercy-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Destin Daniel Cretton

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Darrell Britt-Gibson

Plot: The real-life story of how a fresh out of University lawyer by the name of Bryan Stevenson worked to free a wrongly condemned prisoner on death row, blamed for the murder of a teenaged girl.

My Thoughts: I’ve ended up missing out on the last 3 secret screenings that my local cinema offers, so I was dying to make it to the first of the year! I’ve stopped checking their social media for the clues because they’re too obvious. If I want to go to a secret screening, I want to be surprised! My hunch was that it would be Queen & Slim and honestly, I’d never even heard of Just Mercy so I was really excited at the thought of knowing nothing about what I was about to watch!

I’m pointing out the obvious but Just Mercy is tough to watch at times. It’s horrible to know that even in the very late 80s, going into 90s, racism was still so strong. The entire cast does a good job here but it’s Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx who are the standouts here, as the lawyer and death row inmate respectively. We’re with them both every step of the way and feel the same heartache and frustrations as they do.

It’s probably not the kind of movie I would deliberately seek out and watch which is why I love these screenings so much. As powerful as the story is (I cried more than once) it still felt quite dry in places, and it’s at least 20 minutes too long, although I don’t know where I would cut parts out.

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Best Bit: I loved the scene where Bryan managed to get the case re-opened at the supreme court. It was so suspenseful. I really thought for a moment that it was about to end horribly, and when it didn’t, I wanted to jump up and down with everyone else!

Worst Bit: I felt Brie Larson was totally underused. I understand why her character was there but she just didn’t…seem to actually do much? I’d have liked to have found out more about her, why she got into this line of business, what the fallout was, and so on.

Fun Trivia: The roadblock scene was not intended to be a night scene. The film crew was delayed for almost 4 hours due to storms and it pushed the filming back to nighttime.

My Rating: 3 and a half tickets to the Harper Lee museum which you really ought to visit…according to 50% of the characters in this movie.

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The Gentlemen (2020)

the-gentlemen-movie-poster-review-2020Director: Guy Ritchie

Genre: Action, Crime, Comedy

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Hugh Grant, Jason Wong, Eliot Sumner

Plot: Micker Pearson runs a multi-billion drugs business but is looking to sell and move on. He has 2 offers on the table but things get complicated when one of Mickey’s top-secret locations gets raided by a young gang.

My Thoughts: I haven’t gotten around to making any new years resolutions yet but if I did, I think ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ would be one of them. Or perhaps, ‘Don’t judge a movie by its trailer’ would be more appropriate. It feels like we’ve had the trailer for The Gentlemen thrust upon us for months now, and every time, although I’ll admit it looked entertaining, I wasn’t convinced it would be a movie I could love. I don’t care for gangster movies and as far as I could see, there wasn’t any kind of solid plot.

How wrong could I be? From an unrecognisable cockney Hugh Grant flirting with world’s sexiest assistant Charlie Hunnam, to Matthew McConaughey not only not irritating me with his face alone but actually being my favourite character, I loved every minute of this. It started out a bit complicated but the story is told via Hugh Grant’s character who talks us through everything, and I quickly caught up.

I do wonder how well it’ll be received out of the UK, only because of the humour. It feels very British to me, with a whole load of f-bombs and c-bombs thrown into almost every sentence. If you’re a fan of movies like In Bruges (2008) – also starring a hilarious Colin Farrell, then you’re going to love this, I think. I don’t know if it’s right to give the first movie of 2020 I saw in the cinema top marks but honestly, it deserves it.

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Best Bit: Colin Farrell and his boys. I always forget how funny Colin Farrell is in these dark comedies. The scene at the boxing club where one of his boys complains that another is being racist had me in tears!

Worst Bit: I came into the screen a couple of minutes late, I was starving and the line at Costa was huge, so I think I missed a couple of minutes and like I said, the first few minutes were a bit of an information overload anyway so I panicked for a while thinking I wasn’t going to understand anything.

Fun Trivia: Towards the end of the film Hugh Grant’s “Fletcher” stands in front of a movie poster for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. a previous Guy Ritchie film he also starred in as slick operative “Waverly”.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 perfectly made cups of tea, so beautifully filmed throughout this glorious movie.

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Little Women (2019)

little-women-2019-movie-review-posterDirector: Greta Gerwig

Genre: Drama, Romance

Runtime: 135 Minutes

Main Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, James Norton

Plot: Based on the classic novel, Little Women is the story of the 4 March sisters each eager to live their own lives, as told by one of the four herself, Jo March.

My Thoughts: Are we talking enough about Florence Pugh? Because I don’t think we are. In January 2019 she went from an actress I’d never heard of to my favourite actress of the year. Which is how I found myself watching Little Women after Christmas. I’ve never read the novel, nor watched the original movie, and I don’t think there will ever be a day I can say I love period dramas but damn it, I will watch one for Florence Pugh!

I actually ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. With a cast like this, it’s hard not to enjoy it, and Saoirse Ronan was made for roles like Jo March. I found the sisters slightly irritating to begin with but it was so easy to warm to them. Timothée Chalamet gets more interesting the more I see of him too. Were we meant to both love his character and want to slap him at the same time? Because that’s how I felt!

From watching Friends all those years ago I knew there was going to be an upsetting moment somewhere along the way but I’d forgotten who/when/why. Ugh, even though you know what’s coming before it happens it doesn’t make it any easier. Why am I like this? When I left the cinema I was positive I liked the movie, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I actually enjoyed it. It’s one of those I need to sleep on.

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Best Bit: Florence Pugh having a tantrum is big, floofy (yes, spellchecker, floofy is a word, take your red, squiggly line away from here) skirts is what I live for. Also, there’s a scene in which she’s wearing a flower crown and dancing in a circle and I got Midsommar vibes. So need to see that movie again.

Worst Bit: Time jumps! I’m not thick enough that I need a ‘7 years earlier’ stamp in every scene but oh man was I confused. One sister had a fringe in the old scenes that she doesn’t have in the present scenes but that was honestly the only way I could tell which timeline we were on.

Fun Trivia: Emma Watson took over the role of Meg March from Emma Stone, who became unavailable due to scheduling conflicts with promoting The Favourite (2018). Ironically, Stone previously took over the role of Mia in La La Land (2016) after Watson dropped out of the project due to the commitment of her role as Belle in the Disney live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast (2017).
I love both Emmas but this definitely worked out for the best.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 peaches that thankfully Timeothée Chalamet was not holding at any moment in this movie.

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Mini Reviews: Movies Watched in February

A week or so ago I made a post with some mini-reviews of the movies that I’d watched in January but hadn’t got round to mentioning or reviewing on my blog. You can find that post here. It was mainly because I’ve started putting my reviews into my film diary on Letterboxd and I wanted to have a little something written for everything I’d seen! It was fun to do so I might keep it going.

Anyway, there were four movies I watched in February that I haven’t told you about, two of them being Netflix documentaries that I had no idea how to actually review properly. Here’s what they were…

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Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

When I crawled out of the rock I’d been living under and finally heard about Velvet Buzzsaw, I was so hyped. Then I found out it was getting a Netflix release that weekend! I watched it as soon as I could. Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing in this role, he plays weird so well. He’s one of those actors I would blindly watch anything for. The movie was a lot of fun but it wasn’t that memorable in all honesty. I was expecting more.

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Fyre (2019)

Oh my God. With every new disaster that happened during the planning of Fyre Festival I just wanted a note to come up on the screen to tell me it was all a joke and it didn’t happen. What a bunch of idiots. The fact that some of them haven’t even learned from the mess is baffling! My favourite moment was when they said something about the ridiculous amount of money spent on influencer marketing over social media, and then all it took was a photo of a cheese sandwich to bring it crashing down.

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Wild Rose (2018)

I got to see Wild Rose really early thanks to a secret screening at my local Odeon. It was the first time I didn’t look at any of the clues either so I went in completely blind which was great. It’s the story of a young Mum from Glasgow who dreams of being a Country singer. Thing is, I found the main character to be so damn unlikeable that I really struggled to watch the movie, and it dragged like hell. I think I’m alone in that assessment though, it has really positive reviews overall.

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Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

For a few weeks now I’ve seen people talking about Abducted in Plain Sight on Facebook, so the FOMO was strong and I put it on during dinner one night. Excuse the blasphemy but Christ almighty this documentary made me angry! As a parent myself, I don’t know how that woman’s parents can live with themselves. They were stupid enough in their actions before the first abduction, but to allow it to happen again?! I don’t want to live on this planet anymore…

Review: Suburbicon (2017)

suburbicon-movie-review-2017I’ve actually managed to watch a couple of new movies this week, hurray! Ideally, I’d like to blog about all of them, but let’s take baby steps for now and talk about the one I watched most recently, which was Suburbicon. I’m an absolute sucker for a script by the Coen Brothers, but this latest one is actually directed by none other than George Clooney, so I wasn’t as sure. I’ve kept away from reviews where I could, but I did know Suburbicon wasn’t widely loved.

So what’s it about? Suburbicon is a once-peaceful community in the 1950’s where everything seems rosy and everyone gets along until a black family move in and a terrible crime is committed in the house behind them. In that house at the time was Gardner (Matt Damon), his Son Nicky (Noah Jupe), his Wife Rose (Julianne Moore) and his Sister in Law Margaret (also Julianne Moore). Tragically, Rose is killed as a result of the crime, and from there, things just keep getting worse for Gardner.

That’s all I really want to say about the plot because this is one of those movies that takes several twists and turns along the way, and that’s where most of the fun in watching it comes from. It’s not the best Coen movie out there, but I enjoyed it more than I think most did. You could probably argue that the tone was a bit all over the place, but that added to the quirkiness of it all for me.

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The best moment without a doubt is when Oscar Isaac turns up in a role I won’t say for spoiler purposes, but it’s the best 10 minutes of the entire movie. I promise I’m not just saying that because it’s him! Someone in Hollywood please give Oscar some bigger roles – he SO deserves them!

Whilst all this is going on, the upset caused by the black family moving in just keeps escalating until it reaches riot proportions, and this is the only thing I didn’t like as much about Suburbicon. What was the point in it all? I’m sure it connects somehow but it just felt a bit disjointed to me – the movie wouldn’t be lost without those scenes as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps someone can fill me in on what I’m clearly missing?

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Ultimately though, I was quite pleasantly surprised after not setting my hopes up too high. It’s certainly not up there with the likes of Fargo and The Big Lebowski, but I enjoyed it more than Hail Caesar! for sure. 4 out of 5 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from me – you probably shouldn’t eat them though.

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Review: Memories of Murder (2003)

memories-of-murder-2003-movie-reviewAfter a string of 2017 releases, it’s quite refreshing to blog about a movie a little older! Let me tell you about a cool website I stumbled across the other day. It’s called Taste, and basically how it works is that you complete a profile by rating movies that it throws at you. Once your profile is complete, you’re left with a list of movie recommendations based on your tastes. Simple, huh? I wanted to give it a try, so I completed my profile, and the number 1 recommendation for me was Memories of Murder (2003). There was only 1 way to find out whether the site was any good really, wasn’t there?

Directed by Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer & Okja), Memories of Murder is based on a real life serial murder case in South Korea. In October 1986, a young woman is found raped and murdered in a field. Detective Park Doo-man (Kang-ho Song) is first on the scene and has never dealt with a case like this before. It’s clear that him and the rest of the department are well out of their depth, so another detective, Seo Tae-yoon (Sang-kyung Kim) from Seoul, volunteers to help.

If I remember rightly, this might be my 2nd ever foreign language movie. It’s shameful actually, because the only other one I’ve seen (Incendies) was absolutely incredible, so I’m definitely open to suggestions. In fact, I almost enjoy a subtitled movie more, because my mind simply isn’t allowed to wander, or I’ll miss a huge chunk of what’s actually going on.

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Memories of Murder is a reasonably long movie, but it doesn’t ever really slow in pace. From the opening of the movie, we’re presented with the first victim, and the way the story flows it really does feel like we’re part of the investigative team as they desperately search for clues. Once the team work out that these murders only happen at night when it rains, the tension really ramps up. I felt just as frustrated as the detectives when things didn’t go their way, although Park Doo-man’s investigate techniques are extremely questionable!

In fact, his character started out as quite unlikable for me. He was presented with a decent lead, but rather than work with the suspect to gather as much intelligence as he could, Park Doo-man actually creates false evidence to make the suspect look even more guilty, and actually tortures him until he gets a confession. It’s quite hard to watch in some parts. By the end of the movie though, you can see how much his character has grown.

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Memories of Murder is up there with Zodiac as my joint-favourite detective movie I think. As far as that website goes, it was spot on with recommending me something to watch! I’m not affiliated with them in any way by the way, just to make that clear. I just like sharing interesting things with you. This movie gets 4 out of 5 Nike (or should that be Nice?) sneakers from me.

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By the way, in case you’re curious, it’s also recommending me Persepolis, Letters from Iwo Jima, Short Term 12, In Bruges and City of God, to name a few. I’ll be tracking these down soon!)