Category Archives: Drama

Behind Again

I’m still reviewing Halloween movies here firmly in December and that’s because I’ve been busy and lazy, a wonderful combination. So I’m going to have to squish some of my To Do list into one post, which I kind of hate but what can you do?

Here’s what I’ve been watching since the end of October:

Halloween

I waited for what feels like forever for this 40th anniversary sequel and… I can’t say I was disappointed. A lot of it doesn’t work, some of it spectacularly (looking at you fake Doctor Loomis/terrible podcasters) but all in all David Gordon Green‘s offering is a lot of fun and that’s what I wanted.

Jamie Lee is dope as the deeply affected, original Final Girl™ Laurie Strode. A lifetime of paranoia has made her into a reclusive survivalist and she is barely holding onto her family as a result. But what happens when all that preparation finally comes to fruition? Well, you’ll find out when Michael Myers busts out of the institution that has held him for the last four decades – and the whole thing is as gory and tense as you’d imagine. Plus, there’s something truly disconcerting about the humanisation of The Shape just before shit kicks off.

My Rating

4.5/5. Probably for nostalgia more than anything. 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

In my opinion this movie suffers for not featuring enough Jack Black but IT’s Jeremy Ray Taylor does a fine job as a mini version of the man himself. If I’m honest, I don’t remember too much about the plot (I think because I saw The House with a Clock in its Walls right before it and they’ve sort of blended into one) but I did enjoy its childlike Halloween wonder.

The effects are very good – plenty of inventive monsters and sadistic gummy bears – the kids are fantastic and Slappy is a dollop of mischievous fun. I think I’ll always be here for the Goosebumps movies honestly, they’re charming. I’ll definitely be hitting this up with a re-watch as soon as possible.

My Rating

3.5/5. Witches be crazy. 

The Hate U Give

Based on the YA novel by Angie Thomas which I have half read, THUG is a pretty solid adaptation, if a little heavy-handed in its delivery. Starring the ridiculously talented Amandla Stenberg as our main protagonist Starr and the ridiculously cool Regina Hall as Starr’s ferocious mother Lisa, this movie examines subject matter that is all too relevant. I enjoyed the ride and also cried like a baby throughout.

While I could never understand what Starr and her family and community have to deal with, I was pumping the air with triumph as Starr stood up for herself and her lost friends in the most dramatic, tense scenes imaginable. Not only does this movie look at the horror of racism and police brutality, it also hones in on the insidiousness of subconscious prejudice, particularly within Starr’s own friendship group. Russell Hornsby is fantastic too as Starr’s wise old ex-gang member father.

My Rating

4/5. Powerful stuff. 

Slaughterhouse Rulez

Meh. This, sadly, was a steaming pile of nothingness and given the cast, I’m surprised. It’s just not that memorable, funny or endearing – and takes an age to get going. When it does there are a couple of okay moments but there’s not enough to make it worth the effort. Sorry, Nick Frost, I still love you.

My Rating

2.5/5. A real stinker.

Widows

My takeaway from this is that Viola Davis should be cast in every film from now on. Literally every single one. As freshly widowed Veronica, she is mesmerising – the perfect blend of vulnerability and strength – I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She is matched perfectly though by Elizabeth Debicki as Alice, who steal scenes left and right, even from the Queen herself.

I enjoyed this film very much, it follows the lives of a handful of women left devastated by the death of their husbands, a band of bank robbers. But as with most crime capers, there are twists at every turn and danger lurking in every shadow, not least the terrifying Manning Brothers, Jatemme and Jamal (played, respectively, by two of my favourite actors, Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry).

My Rating

4/5. Girl power at its finest.

***

What have you been watching?

The Wife

The Wife (2017)

This movie showcases a powerhouse performance by Glenn Close, obviously. The woman is electrifying and handsome as fuck – and rightly so, pretty much the only thing you will care about.

As the downtrodden wife of a Pulitzer prize-winning author, she gives the most emotive performance and it’s probably the only element of the film that will stick in the mind. The narrative itself flip-flops between present day as the Castlemans journey to Switzerland with their son David (Max Irons) to pick up Joe’s award – and the past, as they meet in college, fall in love and begin to build their life together. The thing is, along the way they create something much more than just their family and it looks set to catch up with Joe.

But will Joan blow the whistle? Will she ever be ready to share her truth, the one that gives a fuller picture of who she is – not just the wife, not just a victim?

The Wife is a good movie but it’s not exactly a fun ride and at its climax you might just be a little disappointed. I would have liked more raging against the machine, more punches thrown (metaphorically or otherwise) and as the credits roll, I got what it was saying but I wanted more. Forgive me for waiting for Close to throw just a little bit of Alex Forrest into the mix. Now that would be a film worth watching.

My Rating

3.5/5.

A Simple Favour

A Simple Favour (2018)

*Minor spoilers*

This film is by far my favourite lately, if not all year – and there have been a pile of really good films so far. It just appeals to my bitchy nature with its zingy dialogue, incredible appearance and genuinely tense thriller vibe. It will be hard to talk about this without dropping #spoilers so I’m going to remain as enigmatic as possible – just like Blake Lively‘s mysterious Emily Nelson.

Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a slightly irritating mommy blogger who one day meets and befriends the chic and charismatic Emily Nelson at her son’s school. The two quickly bond over martinis and secrets. One day, however, Emily calls Stephanie for a simple favour – to pick up her kid while she deals with an emergency.

The most glamourous staring contest of all time had just begun

Days later and no sign of Emily, Stephanie is forced to contact her husband Sean (Henry Golding again), who is in the UK tending to his ailing mother. The two of them become closer as they try to work out what happened to Emily – and let me tell you I’ll probably have to stop myself here just to be safe. Let’s just say that Stephanie’s secrets aren’t the only ones out there – what could Emily’s be?

The story unravels via a series of vlogs put together by Stephanie whose views increase tenfold the more she updates her audience on the Emily case. This is a play on the ‘screen life’ format most recently used in Searching and I think it’s really fresh, although it doesn’t all play out on screen, we also visit present time and flashbacks to build up the story.

I must say that I went into this knowing I’d be impressed but not really knowing what to expect – Paul Feig‘s filmography contains a lot of broad comedy which I love but didn’t expect in this movie. Which I was right about, the humour is pitch black and sharp AF but it’s more sophisticated than usual.

Same, Anna. I’d be the same

Blake and Anna have never been better than here. They look great but they bounce of each other so well and the dialogue they’re given to play with made me cackle throughout. There’s a scene in which Stephanie confronts Emily’s fashion designer boss that was priceless and an excellent showcase for Kendrick’s comic timing.

Helen and I left the cinema just saying “Wow” to each other dozens of times. It’s just done very well and hopefully, along with the aforementioned Searching, will pave the way for more smart arse thrillers, I feel like they might be having a moment.

As for the costuming, don’t think I’m going to sign this off without swooning over both women’s wardrobes. More so Blake who rocks sharp tailoring like nobody’s business. Is there anything sexier that a woman in a well cut suit? I think you’ll find not. Anyway, I’m quite prepared to spend more time in the theater re-watching this movie because it’s bloody great and exactly what I wanted.

There’s a crafter in my kitchen what amma gonna do?

Whatever you do, go see this.

My Rating

5/5.

Searching

Searching (2018)

This morning I learnt that there’s a name for films using this all-on-the-screen format and it’s “Screen life”. So not only is this an interesting film, it’s also been highly educational. Kinda.

Anywho, Searching is a very tense thriller in which David Kim (the gorgeous John Cho) fights tooth and nail to find his daughter Margot (Michelle La), who has mysteriously disappeared. As he picks at the threads of her life, he realises he barely knows her at all – which doesn’t help when he’s expected to unravel the truth about what happened to her.

With the help of determined Detective Vick (Debra Messing), David delves deeper into Margot’s social media account, messages and emails to paint a picture of where his daughter might be – and who she really is.

I really enjoyed this though I will admit to getting an inkling of the truth half way through. That said it makes you doubt every character you come into contact with, even David himself. And while it centers around Margot’s disappearance it also sets up their relationship really well. The beginning is genuinely touching and gave me the feels not ten minutes in.

I’m trying very hard not to hone in on any of the details for a reason but this was impressive and the screen life format kept my interest throughout, much as it does in Unfriended. I think it might get tired quicker than found footage but here it successfully builds up suspense – and makes you want to upgrade your five-year-old acer laptop for something quicker and shinier (just me?).

My Rating

4/5.

BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate, who eventually becomes head of the local branch.

*Minor spoilers*

There’s a lot to say about this movie and yet I don’t think I’m going to go all in. I enjoyed it very much and found it very moving in places. It also made me laugh, shake my head, feel disgusted – basically most of the emotions you would associate with a Spike Lee movie.

The narrative focuses on Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a black cop who, with the help of his team, manages to infiltrate the KKK. While he charms a number of organisation members over the telephone, he has an obvious issue when it comes to meeting them face-to-face. Enter Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) then, Ron’s Jewish (and white) body double.

Will Flip be able to keep his end up in person, while Ron cons KKK founder David Duke (Topher Grace) over the phone? And will he come to realise, as Ron warns him, that he has more stake in the game than he knows?

Given the pressure being piled on him by tightly wound Klansman Felix (Jasper Pääkkönen), who knows?

Meanwhile, Ron tries to romance the lovely activist Patrice (Laura Harrier) who doesn’t know who he really is, which is a bad scene given that she hates pigs. Having experienced more than her fair share of police brutality, she kind of has a point – can he persuade her that he’s one of the good guys, changing the system from the inside?

BKKK is very much a Spike Lee movie with some very clear Lee signatures. It pays homage in tone to some of the great blaxploitation movies and blends dark humour with even darker imagery. The final scenes splice truly frightening KKK rhetoric with real life terrorist footage – and it’s a hard pill to swallow. As it fucking should be.

Denzel‘s boy John is remarkable as Ron while Adam Driver is as dreamy as ever. He’s so tall I would like to climb him like my favourite childhood tree. Which might be missing the point a little. One of my favourite scenes is the one in which Flip muses how little he’s cared about his own heritage up until this point.

I also have to say that Pääkkönen, as the truly frightening Felix is a stand-out for me. He’s repugnant obviously but is played to perfection, a ticking time bomb of a character, hell bent on exposing Flip as Jewish and a cop to boot, something no other member of the Klan believes.

My Rating

4/5.

Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A working-class family man, Christopher Robin, encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life.

*Minor spoilers*

When you put away childish things, life can get really fucking dull. Or so we’re lead to believe, I wouldn’t know, I’ll never tidy away my Funko pops and comic books.

Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) knows though and as a middle-aged working-class workaholic, he’s all but forgotten the magic of childhood. Which is shame ‘cos of all the childhoods his is probably up there as one of the most magical, you know?

MV5BOWRlZmFjNTItZjFlNy00MjcyLWJkOGEtYmJjNzczNDE2ODE1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_
Constantly working late and perpetually disappointing his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and their daughter Madeline, Chris has allowed all the joy to be sucked out of his life. When his boss, the sniveling Giles Winslow (the fucking fabulous Mark Gatiss) of Winslow Luggage demands he give up a precious weekend away with the family to stay in the office and make drastic financial cuts, he is torn. He knows what he should do but also wants to do right by his career.

Perhaps what he needs is a little help from an old friend or two to give him perspective?

This is a film that has obviously been lovingly made. The CGI animals are not jarring at all and the performances are as competent as expected (including the voice work of Jim CummingsPeter Capaldi and Toby Jones). However, I think this is another film that is not for me. I personally find Pooh and friends creepy in a way Paddington isn’t and I don’t know why. Especially you, Piglet.

null

“I’ve been seeing someone else… his name’s Paddington…”

I also got a lot of anxiety every time Pooh smeared honey all over everything which I thought was just me until I mentioned it to my friend Helen, who wholeheartedly agreed. Honestly, there’s one scene that brought me out in hives. Stop doing that, you bad bear!

So, I can objectively say that this is a well made film but it was ever so slightly boring in places. It only really gets going in the final segment, as Pooh, Tigger and pals travel with Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) to Lon Don to try and save his job.

Pooh was always around when I grew up but he wasn’t a core part of my childhood and maybe that also goes some way to explaining the disconnect I felt to this film. I think die hard fans with cream themselves.

christopher-robin-trailer-2

You can stay, Tigger.

*Shrug*

My Rating

3/5.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.

*Spoilers*

This film has a crazy cool cast which doesn’t hurt it one bit.

While our leads, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin are supported by the mighty Catherine Keener, some of the best performances come from the younger cast members, namely Isabela Moner and Elijah Rodriguez (both of whom I suspect we may see again in this very franchise).

I enjoyed this movie so much more than I thought I would and I think that’s because this time around it takes us under the skin of Del Toro’s Alejandro, who we first met in Sicario

Where Sicario focused on the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico, Day of Soldado examines the evolution of drugs trafficking into smuggling terrorists over the border. Which is distressing to watch anyway but in the current climate, it is brutal. One of the first scenes follows a handful of ISIS suicide bombers as they enter a supermarket and let’s just say the scene is devastating.

As a result of this particular bombing, the US government enlist the services of CIA Agent Matt Graver (Brolin), who is given permission to use any means necessary to combat the Mexican drug cartels (who are the ones doing the smuggling). AMN really means extreme measures and who better to call on for help than Black Op Alejandro Gillick (Del Toro) himself?

Isabel-Sicario-620x400-1024x661
Graver and the Department of Defense figure the best way to solve their problem is to start a war between the cartels, and Gillick is just perfect for the mission. First he murders a high-profile cartel lawyer in Mexico City, then the team kidnap the daughter of a rival kingpin (played by Isabela Moner) – and man does it all kick off from there.

Not everything goes according to plan though (go figure) and we follow both sides as the tale unravels. Gillick finds himself in a protective role as he and Isabela (the daughter) are accidentally separated from Graver and team.

As relations between the US and Mexico reach breaking point (following an explosive head to head between the team and Mexican police), the US government grow keen to distance themselves from the whole operation. Graver is forced to put Gillick in a tough position, and as choices are made and lines are drawn, the friendship is tested to the extreme.

sicario-2-soldado-josh-brolin-image

While all this pans out, we also follow Miguel Hernandez (Rodriguez) as he becomes more and more embroiled in his role as a Mexican-American “coyote” (people smuggler). What will become of Graver, Gillick and the rest of this crazy bunch?

Sicario: DotS may not be technically as brilliant as Denis Villeneuve‘s Sicario (it’s not very far behind though) but I found myself enjoying it just as much. While we don’t witness the war through the eyes of Emily Blunt‘s idealistic FBI agent this time around, we do have Isabela, whose peepers are forced firmly open when she learns of the crimes of her father.

I’ve got a theory that we’re going to meet Isabela in the next installment and that her story will run parallel to Miguel’s. Good and bad, if you will – the light versus the darkness.

I can’t wait. 

My Rating

4/5.

I fancy Brolin and De Toro SO MUCH. Damn, boys.