Movie Reviews

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

a-beautiful-day-neighborhood-2019-poster-reviewDirector: Marielle Heller

Genre: Biography, Drama

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett, Enrico Colantoni

Plot: Tom Junod is a journalist known for delving deep into the subjects he writes about, seeking the truth. He’s a cynic by nature with a terrible relationship with his Father, but when put on an assignment to write a piece on the legendary Mr. Rogers, his views are changed.

My Thoughts: I have to admit straight off the bat – I struggled with this movie. Mr. Rogers’ show wasn’t a thing in the UK so I know next to nothing about him, but that wasn’t my problem. I just felt like two very different movies were thrown together to make one, and one that didn’t gel together. I loved Tom Hank’s role, I loved seeing how compassionate Mr. Rogers is and how he deals with the mental burden of everything he deals with. I could have happily watched an entire movie about him, so I guess I should turn to 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.

On the other hand, we have Tom’s story. Tom is married more to his job than his wife and hasn’t spoken to his Father in years, since his Mum died and his Father moved on quickly. It may be a story based on real-life, but it’s a story I’ve seen countless times. I also struggled to connect with Tom’s character at all. We were shown too much of his bad side before getting to actually care for him.

So in the end, I have to land somewhere in the middle. I adored one half of the movie and really disliked the other half. It was still an interesting, well-made movie though, and I’d still wholeheartedly recommend it for Tom Hanks’ performance alone. He never turns in a bad performance.

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Best Bit: There’s a scene in a diner where Mr. Rogers tells Tom to take a minute’s silence to think. All the background noise quietens down slowly, and Mr. Rogers looks at the camera, directly at us. It was such a surreal moment and really made me stop and think!

Worst Bit: I know I’m struggling with a movie when I start nitpicking at stupid things. In Ad Astra (2019) it was the absurdity of a Subway sandwich shop on the moon, in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood it was how Tom is never holding his own child. Hold your baby, Tom!

Fun Trivia: During the TIFF post-film panel, Tom Hanks mentions how he wishes he and his son (Colin Hanks) at 3 years old watched a half hour of Mr. Rogers a week so he could learn that it is okay to be sad. Hanks feels children don’t learn the importance of expressing emotions from a young age and Mr. Rogers did an excellent job explaining this.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 baby car seats which it is NOT okay to let your baby sleep for hours in, Tom!

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Lists

Thursday Movie Picks: Steven Spielberg Films

Happy first Thursday of the year, everyone! Oh wait, I missed that, because I was still in a red wine & chocolate coma not knowing what day of the week it was. Good way to start the year, Allie! It’s the thought that counts though, so I’m throwing myself into Wandering Through the Shelves’ 2020 Movie Picks with as much enthusiasm as possible. This week’s theme is Favourite Films by Steven Spielberg – a theme I worried would be difficult but crickey the man has made a lot of brilliant movies!

Here are my three favourites:

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The Terminal (2004)

I love Tom Hanks, so I’ve watched The Terminal a few times over the years now. Hanks plays an Eastern European tourist who’s government collapses whilst he’s at the airport, leaving his documents unusable and him stranded in JFK airport. I always remember it as a funny story but forget about how moving it is at the same time.

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

It’s been years and I have no idea if A.I. Artificial Intelligence still holds up but at the time it felt revolutionary and raised so many thought-provoking questions. A mother’s son was stricken by an incurable disease, and, thinking she had lost him forever, commissioned a realist robot to replace him. The problem is, her son miraculously recovers. I can’t even count the number of times I watched that movie when I was younger.

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Jurassic Park (1993)

Have you ever asked anyone if they like dinosaurs and been told no? I guess you don’t go around asking strangers that question often but my point is, who doesn’t like dinosaurs? To me, Jurassic Park is just one of those movies that’s impossible not to enjoy. I can’t say for sure if I saw the older sequels when I was a kid, but I should make the effort to!

Movie Reviews

Toy Story 4 (2019)

toy-story-4-movie-review-posterDirector: Josh Cooley

Genre: Family, Adventure, Comedy, Animation

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan Michael-Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki

Plot: Now Andy’s toys have settled in their new home with Bonnie, Woody is finding himself left behind in the closet when it comes to playtime. Ever faithful to his child, when Bonnie is upset about attending Kindergarten Orientation Day, he hitches a ride with her and witnesses the creation of Forky, a toy Bonnie makes out of trash. She’s besotted with him, and Woody makes it his goal to keep Forky safe and Bonnie happy.

My Thoughts: I was one of the first people to rage when Toy Story 4 was announced. Toy Story 3 gave us the perfect ending, and so another movie felt like a cash grab, which would have tainted a perfect trilogy. The hype and my general love of Disney/Pixar and Toy Story won me over in the last few weeks and I was dying to see #4, although I was still slightly hesitant and a little pessimistic about the new character, Forky, who the entire world seems to have gone nuts for.

Well – it took about 5 seconds of Forky’s screen time for me to fall in love. You just can’t help yourself, he’s too funny. I remember feeling the same way about the other sequels that introduced new toys, but Pixar are just too good at what they do. The simple thing of returning to the Toy Story world was just magical, and it was so nice to see the cinema full of other adults who have grown up with these movies. I honestly got goosebumps at the music!

Bo Peep is back – shamefully I don’t even remember her being absent from the last movie but oh my god is Bo Peep a badass! Now a lost toy, she leads a little ragtag bunch of other toys and it reminded me so much of Mad Max. She was a real highlight of the movie, much of which takes place in an antique store, home to the kind of creepy Gabby Gabby with a broken voicebox and her cronies who scared me more than the entirety of Brightburn (2019) which I watched the night before. This movie is a U?! Mind you – Sid’s toys in the original movie were just as scary.

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I haven’t mentioned the man of the moment yet – Keanu Reeves, who I couldn’t avoid lately even if I wanted to. Keanu voices Duke Caboom, a Canadian stunt driver who was ditched after his commercial oversold him. Guess what toy my little girl is going to be treated to come payday? My husband is going to kill me…

Best Bit: When Forky is brought home and doesn’t understand that he’s a toy, he keeps shouting ‘trash!’ and jumping into whatever wastebin he can find, leaving poor Woody up all night every night throwing him back onto the bed into Bonnie’s arms. It was just too funny, and oh Woody, I feel for you!

Worst Bit: Curse my STUPID Mum feelings – I cried 3 times during this movie. The ending got me, of course, I think you’d have to be a monster to not get a little emotional at the ending, but the occasions where a little girl was upset and crying? My heart actually hurt just watching it. I can’t deal with it!

Fun Trivia: Boo from Monsters Inc (2001) can be seen behind Bonnie at kindergarten orientation when she creates Forky.
I THOUGHT that was Boo! I didn’t spot the pizza planet truck though, good job I’m going to see the movie again this weekend.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 bins of trash…hide them from Forky!

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Blogathons

Thursday Movie Picks: Unrecognizable Actor Transformation

Thursday Movie Picks

It’s the first Thursday Movie Picks of the month, and it’s April already! Excuse me 2019 but where do you think you’re going? Can we slow down a little? I’m not ready to face my 30th Birthday yet…

This week in the series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves we’re talking about unrecognizable actor transformations. Sometimes it isn’t enough for actors to mentally transform themselves for a role, they have to change themselves physically too, and that’s really quite incredible to me. Trying to eat sensibly a couple of weeks before a wedding is daunting enough!

Anyway, without further ado, here are my picks this week…

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Christian Bale, The Machinist (2004)

Let’s be honest, we could all fill our lists simply with Christian Bale roles this week. The man is nothing but committed to his job. But none of his transformations shocked me more than his in The Machinist. It’s one thing to lose some weight for a role, but he looked like a corpse! He went down to 110 pounds for the role which is shocking enough, but the role he took on next? Batman Begins! Talk about yo-yo dieting! For what it’s worth, The Machinist is a fantastic, twisty movie. I’ve seen it twice now and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

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Tom Hanks, Cast Away (2000)

I spent a long time in the shower hiding from my toddler thinking of options for the theme this week when I suddenly remembered Cast Away. I haven’t seen it for years but it was possibly the first Tom Hanks movie I ever saw. During pre-production, Tom Hanks put on 50 pounds in order to appear middle-aged, and then he was given a year off to transform himself into a real cast away. He stopped shaving and cutting his hair, and shed 55 pounds with a tough diet and exercise regime. I’m feeling hungry just thinking about it.

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Matthew Lewis, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

I can’t talk about dieting anymore, so let’s turn to the biggest transformation shocker of the Harry Potter universe, the moment Matthew Lewis turned into bumbling fool to stunning heartthrob. Okay, his transformation may be something he didn’t really have any control over, but at the time he was living proof for all awkward teenagers that there was hope for us yet!

Movie Reviews

Blind Spot Series: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

saving-private-ryan-1998-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Steven Spielberg

Genre: Drama, War

Runtime: 169 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti

Plot: Set during World War II,  Captain Miller and his assembled crew are sent to find Private James Ryan and send him home. His 3 brothers have been killed in action and all 3 telegraphs are set to be sent on the same day to his Mother to inform her of the terrible news. To alleviate her grief the Chief of Staff decides that Ryan should be pulled from the war.

My Thoughts: War movies have never interested me, but in my recent quest to watch all Oscar Best Picture nominees when awards season rolls around, I found myself at the cinema to watch Hacksaw Ridge (2016) which exceeded all my expectations. I don’t think anyone can talk about war movies without at least thinking about Saving Private Ryan (1998) so the Blind Spot Series was a great opportunity to watch the classic and expand my horizons a little.

Straight away you’re hit with a wall of emotion. We see a survivor of the war in his old age, although we don’t know who, as he visits the graves of his brothers, and then we’re transported straight into one of the battles. It’s raw, it’s gritty, it’s tense and uncomfortable to watch, and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away. We’re literally in the thick of it with these soldiers, and we’re in it for the long haul.

At just under 3 hours this is one of the longest movies I’ve watched, and so I made the decision to watch it in two sittings but to be honest, I could have happily watched it in one go, you don’t notice the time at all. There’s always something going on, and even in the quieter moments you know it’s just a build up to the next big thing.

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Best Bit: I’ve always associated Giovanni Ribisi with the TV Show Friends, so much so that I can never remember his actual name, I call him Frank Jr. I know him from small, comedic roles so it was a surprise to see him here. He was AMAZING. The guy has some really incredible talent, and I can’t believe it’s the only serious role I’ve ever seen him in. He deserved award nominations for it, without a doubt.

Worst Bit: There’s no denying that Saving Private Ryan is an incredible movie. I’m not a converted war movie fan, though. Watching this, watching Hacksaw Ridge, watching Dunkirk (2017), they were amazing experiences, but to me, they aren’t ‘enjoyable’ in the same sense as other genres, if that makes any sense?

Fun Trivia: Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Private Ryan because he wanted an unknown actor with an All-American look. He did not know Damon would win an Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997) and become an overnight star before the film was released.

My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 pairs of standard-issue socks that you can turn into sticky bombs if needed.

saving-private-ryan-socks-sticky-bombs

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.