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 Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

the-ballad-buster-scruggs-netflix-posterDirector: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Western

Runtime: 132 Minutes

Main Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, Brendan Gleeson, Jonjo O’Neill, Willie Watson, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz

Plot: An anthology movie comprised of six different stories, each dealing with a different aspect of life in the Old West.

My Thoughts: Despite it being a Netflix release, I was so excited to see The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I’ve never hated a Coen brothers movie (although I’ve enjoyed some more than others) and the trailer was hilarious. It’s a long-ass movie but knowing it was split into six stories eased my mind a little. I’ve always been a fidget!

The first segment with Buster Scruggs is nothing short of a masterpiece. I was laughing from start to finish. My husband was trying to play World of Warcraft and cursed me as he shut his game down thinking he had found his new all-time-favourite movie. The comedic timing, the crazy action, the musical numbers, ugh! Just perfect. And then it ended, and it dawned on me that Buster Scruggs was only a very minor part of this movie.

Maybe that revelation tainted it for me, but from there I just grew more and more bored with each of the other stories. They still had some great moments, but it felt like I was watching a whole lot of nothing before being rewarded with those short glimpses of brilliance. Each story also felt longer than the one before it, making the whole thing feel about 3 hours long.

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I think I’m probably in the minority here though, and I can absolutely see why most people loved it. I guess I was expecting the whole thing to be as crazy and funny as the first segment, and I set myself up for disappointment. One thing I will say though, the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. I paid more attention to the landscape than what the characters were doing half the time.

Best Bit: The way Buster Scruggs killed the guy at the cards table was just epic. It was that perfect mix of shock and humour that makes you jump and laugh at the same time. Then the musical number that followed. Heck, I need to watch that segment again…and again!

Worst Bit: There’s no moment in particular, but I can’t comment on the sixth and final story at all because my brain had completely switched off by that point, and I was playing the Disney Emoji game on my phone instead, trying to unlock Darth Vader. (I got him)

Fun Trivia: The poker hand that Buster Scruggs refuses to play, two pair aces and eights, is infamously known as the “dead man’s hand” as it was reportedly the hand-drawn to Wild Bill Hickok before he was shot and killed.

My Rating: 2 and a half clever chickens who can answer simple math questions.

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Review: Colossal (2017)

colossal-movie-review-2017I am SO hyped up and excited to tell you all about Colossal, but equally bummed out because I can’t actually tell you that much without spoiling a truly weird and wonderful cinematic experience! I’m not sure Jenna believed me when I told her I wanted to see this for the crazy plot, mainly because Dan Stevens is in it and I’m developing a bit of an obsession, but honestly, I’ve been on the lookout for a movie that is both new and a bit unique, rather than a remake or sequel.

Here’s what I can tell you about the plot. Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is out of control and out of a job. Her party mentality forces her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) to kick her out and force her to move back to her hometown. Around that time, a giant monster is reported to have attacked the city of Seoul, and Gloria discovers that she is directly connected to this monster.

It takes a while for the movie to kick itself into gear, I’ll admit. The first 20 minutes are largely unnecessary (apart from that intriguing opening scene) and it begins to feel like a stereotypical romcom. If you can get past that though, the rest is a wild ride. This isn’t a romance movie, as much as you might be thinking, especially when Gloria’s childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) shows up. It’s also quite hilarious in moments, but it’s not a comedy. This is a drama that gets dark as hell towards the end. You’ve been warned!

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The whole main cast is wonderful. I haven’t seen much of Anne Hathaway but she’s a delight to watch in this, and not annoying in the slightest for playing such a destructive character. I love Jason Sudeikis’ comedies, but I’ve never seen him in a role like this, and whilst he’s not going to take home an Oscar for his performance, this dude can act! Dan Stevens is obviously wonderful (and British this time!) but his role is very minor.

What I really want to tell you though is to give this movie a chance. Watch the trailer, by all means, but know that the actual story is much bigger than you think it is. Don’t read up too much on it either, go in as blind as you can. It’s a miracle in 2017 to have a trailer actually give away very little about the story. I’m looking at you, Spider-Man: Homecoming!

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Colossal isn’t perfect. It’s messy at times, but it’s unique and I think it deserves so much credit for going out there and doing something different for a change. In a year full of sequels and remakes I have high hopes that Colossal will be in my Top 10 of 2017 by the end of the year! It gets 4 and a half out of 5 inflatable mattresses from me, an extra half point awarded for weirdness.

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