The Nice Guys (2016)

the-nice-guys-2016-movie-review-poster(I’m on vacation right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

Have you ever seen a movie trailer for the first time and get the feeling that you know it’s going to be brilliant? Like, no fear of disappointment or anything because you know you’re going to love it? That’s what happened to me and my husband in January this year. We were at the cinema to see Spotlight, and after having a bit of a movie/blog hiatus over Christmas all of the trailers were a surprise to me. Cue a 70’s looking Ryan Gosling wrapping fabric around his knuckles, punching through a window, and then gripping his wrist, bleeding everywhere, followed by Russell Crowe accepting $30 to beat up a little girl’s friend, and I was practically dancing in my seat.

Of course, like every other movie I’ve been looking forward to this year, it got released in the cinemas during my wedding/honeymoon weeks, which meant I missed it.

There was a game I used to play on the Xbox 360 called L.A. Noire, it’s possibly still one of my favourites games of all time. You play as an LAPD Officer called Phelps, trailing Los Angeles for clues and interviewing witnesses to solve cases. That’s just what The Nice Guys is like, only it’s side-splittingly hilarious at the same time. In The Nice Guys, Holland March (Ryan Gosling) has been hired by a worried mother whose daughter, a porn star by the name of Misty Mountains, has been missing for days. She was last sighted 2 days ago by her mother herself. The only issue here? Misty died in a car accident 4 days ago…

Holland’s search puts him in the line of fire of Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), who has been paid to stop Holland from nosing around. And so our pair meet, which as you can probably tell from the movie poster, ends badly (and painfully) for Holland. If I had any doubts about the chemistry these guys might share on-screen, they were fizzled out by their performance at the Oscars earlier this year. They bounce off each other so well!

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I’ve been so used to watching Ryan Gosling play a tough guy (Drive, The Place Beyond The Pines, Only God Forgives) that this completely threw me off balance. I’m really not joking when I say he screams like a girl, and it didn’t matter how many times it happened, I laughed till I cried. He’s just a bit of a doofus, but a very good detective at the same time, which means when he does slip up and does something stupid, it comes without warning. His character Holland also has a young teenage daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice) who is constantly trying to help. Characters like Holly normally get in the way and get annoying, but in some cases, she actually saves the day, and she’s a delight to watch.

It was just so much fun to watch, and I’ll be watching it again and again over the years, I’m sure. If there were only one movie this year that deserves a sequel, it’s this, because I could watch Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe work together solving cases for hours on end. In fact, I don’t even know why I’m scoring this a 9/10, I can’t think of a fault to pick at, but I hate giving out full marks!

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First Man (2018)

first-man-movie-poster-review-2018Director: Damien Chazelle

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Runtime: 141 Minutes

Main Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Christopher Abbott, Olivia Hamilton, Ciarán Hinds, Pablo Schreiber

Plot: The real-life story behind Neil Armstrong, and how he found himself leading the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the moon on 20th July 1969.

My Thoughts: Not gonna lie, I had to really push myself to go and see First Man. It had great reviews, it’s directed by the amazing Damien Chazelle, it stars Ryan Gosling, it’s in the running for the Oscars – it was ticking so many boxes for me. But it’s a long movie, and it’s a subject I honestly don’t have much interest in. As usual, I’m really glad I went in the end!

First Man probably takes 3rd place in Damien Chazelle’s movies for me, but it’s still a fantastic movie. I didn’t expect it to have so many ‘space-y’ moments, and the opening in particular quite literally took my breath away. Then you have the heartbreaking family moments that had me openly sobbing in the middle of the room – not embarrassing at all. So – it almost takes the dramatic elements of Whiplash (2014) and the heart-crushing elements of La La Land (2016).

Ryan Gosling was great throughout in a calm, and fairly quiet role, with a much bigger personality bubbling on the surface. I don’t know Neil Armstrong at all well enough to know how well Gosling matches up, but still. Claire Foy didn’t get as many moments as I thought she would, but the scene where she tells Neil to explain to his kids that there’s a chance he won’t survive the mission was powerful as hell.

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Best Bit: No surprises here, but the best moment was watching Neil first walk on the moon. Especially when you find out what he brought with him…I felt it coming and I was a wreck! A moment that I wish I’d been able to witness in IMAX to be honest.

Worst Bit: Not a ‘bit’ in particular, but it felt like the first hour or so raced by, and then the pacing fell to a snail pace, which really doesn’t help when the movie is 20 minutes too long to begin with!

Fun Trivia: In the breakfast scene just before Apollo 11 launched, the artist sketching Armstrong is Chris Calle, son of the NASA artist Paul Calle. Chris was playing his father who actually sketched the crew that morning.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 wooden-beaded bracelets…don’t make me explain why…*sobs*.

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Review: Song to Song (2017)

Remember how literally just a few days ago I said I was struggling to name 5 movies that I really didn’t enjoy this year so far? Remember how my list was half-hearted because I didn’t truly hate any of them, I was just disappointed by them? That I actually missed hate-writing about a movie? Turns out the movie gods were listening that day, because they delivered Song to Song.

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I’ve heard that Terrence Malick movies are often controversial, and a quick check on IMDB confirmed what I thought – until now I haven’t seen a single one of his movies. I gotta say, there were none that really shouted out to me either, but there was no way I could ignore Song to Song. Here’s what I knew:
– Music was a strong feature (I’ve been spoiled by John Carney movies)
– It was set in Austin, Texas (I got to go there for work once and had an amazing time)
– The cast was excellent (Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling & Michael Fassbender)
– It was described as a modern day love story

What could possibly go wrong?

It all started out okay to be honest. It felt a bit qwirky, a bit weird. It was a little raunchy too, so ticks in all the boxes from me. My eyes struggled to adjust to the fact that no single shot seemed to last any longer than 5 seconds, but I thought I’d get used to it. I had over 2 hours of movie to get used to it!

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About 20 minutes in, it all just went to hell. I couldn’t work out what was going on anymore. I thought it was established that Rooney Mara’s character was together with Michael Fassbender’s, but then she fell for Ryan Gosling. It seemed like some weird love triangle, because Ryan Gosling seemed way more interested in bro’ing it up with Michael Fassbender, but then he got married to Natalie Portman and…are you still reading?

This entire movie hurt my head. None of the characters ever seemed to talk much, or even smile. I’m sorry but, how can you fall in love with someone if all you do is float around silently, looking at them with the face and flair of a catwalk model? It’s infuriating!

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I actually gave up at the mid way point and turned the movie off. I thought I could be satisfied with not knowing how the story ended, or wasting another hour of my life whilst risking permanent frown lines from the face I pulled the entire time watching. Alas, the next day the completionist in me couldn’t take it anymore and I watched the rest. Did it get any better? No. Was it worth it? I got to see Ryan Gosling make a turkey out of a napkin (actually one of my favourite party tricks) so there was that.

I’m really sorry to actual, legit movie critics who understood this movie and what it was about, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea at all. 1 and a half napkins from me…you can turn them into turkeys yourself, or ask Ryan Gosling to show you how!

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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!

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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, my 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.

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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.

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