Hustlers

Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.

Hustlers

“This city, this whole country, is a strip club. You’ve got people tossing the money, and people doing the dance.” ~ Ramona

Inspired by a True Story

*Spoilers*

My Review

Destiny (Wu) is a mediocre stripper at best when she meets the legendary Ramona (JLo). When the pair meet on a rooftop late one night, Ramona graciously takes her under her chinchilla clad wing and agrees to show her a thing or two. The pair form a seemingly unshakeable bond which leads to a sassy double act that puts them both in an incredibly lucrative position.

Bouyed by the moves Ramona teaches her, Destiny is finally in a position to give her grandma the life she deserves. And although all Destiny really cares about is making Nana comfortable in her twilight years, she makes so much lovely money that she can afford to be a little bit extra. When she falls pregnant however, everything changes.

Losing contact with Ramona and her former lifestyle to become a mother takes its toll but when she hits rock bottom and bumps into her old friend again, it all comes back together. Ramona opens up her home to Destiny and her daughter – and things more or less return to normal. Until the great Wall Street crash.

In the wake of these tough times, the club becomes a ghost town and the girls are one by one replaced by a new breed of dancer. What are they to do when they’ve got bills to pay and kids to provide for?

Well, you kind of have an inkling of what comes next I imagine, given the trailer for this movie and the synopsis above. Ramona and two of her colleagues, Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) cook up a scheme to bring more business through the strip club doors. They’ll drug their most obnoxious clients and rinse them for all they’re worth. They bring in Destiny and the outfit is pretty darn slick. Especially since the ‘victims’ can hardly go to the police, even if they do suspect something’s amiss.

“We’re a family now. A family with money!” ~ Ramona

Everything is rosy until they bring in outside help, jealousies arise and the workmanship gets sloppy. Destiny suffers a massive loss and the friendship is rocked when the law comes knocking. Is there any way back to the glory days? More importantly, is there any way back for the girls?

My Comments

I loved this. The rise and fall of the central characters is fascinating and it tells the true crime story in an effective way. I bought the friendship between Destiny and Ramona, which is more or less an unconventional love story. And despite their hurdles, despite their differences – I believe the love never died.

The movies is quite balanced in the sense that on one hand it justifies the actions of the women – who begin with only targeting their really disgusting clients – but on the other, lets us in on the consequences of their actions. One particular victim is pretty tragic and it is only when we meet him that I started to consider what they’re doing is very wrong. Also, I guess you can’t go round drugging people either, even the creeps.

The whole story unravels via an interview with journalist Elizabeth (Stiles) who has visited Destiny after the events are done and dusted. As her Dictaphone runs, so does D’s mouth as she tells her side of the story. But there’s sadness there and unfinished business – and it is very touching.

There’s an art house feel to Hustlers, the performances are top notch, the male characters are all secondary and it’s a lot of fun. The cameos are delicious, with an impressive turn from Cardi B and Queen of the moment, Lizzo – and Jennifer Lopez has never looked better. Sure, it’s no Showgirls but we all know nothing is.

Film details:

Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
My Rating: 4.5/5

What are you watching?

It Chapter Two

Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is back to terrorize Derry and there’s only one thing for our gang to do – come back and kill the fucking clown. A promise is a promise after all…

It Chapter Two

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

You’ll Float Again

*Spoilers*

My Review

27 years after the events of the first film, we catch up with Bev, Stanley, Richie, Bill, Ben, Mike and Eddie as full grown adults, all doing their own thing outside Derry. Well, all but Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) who stayed to keep an eye on the small town and the unspeakable evil that lurks beneath it. When it becomes apparent that It – despite their victory against it last time – has not disappeared forever as they’d hoped, Mike is forced to call The Losers back together for a new fight.

None of the gang remember much except Mike, something has happened to their memories of the town they grew up in and the childhoods they knew. Most of all their summer of friendship is a blur. As they settle back into their roles within the group, these memories start to come back – and it’s not all roses. Mike must convince them to keep their vow to do what it takes to defeat It once and for all.

Unfortunately Stanley (Andy Bean) can’t join his friends – and in addition to the killer clown, the relentless pest Pennywise – the Losers also have to contend with their old bully Henry Bowers (Teach Grant), who’s just escaped the mental institution that has held him since he brutally murdered his own father. Can our pals evade a stab-happy Bowers, clear their minds and beat the shit out of the third creepiest clown in cinematic history before going back to their respective lives?

My Comments

I can’t go too far into the play by play, there’s just too much ground to cover. It is an epic story and it spans a lot of time. At 2 hours 49 it’s a beast of a movie and I loved it. I’ve seen in twice now and it’s full of all the wonder and magic and terror and nostalgia I needed. The film is imperfect and not all of it works but I’m delighted with the adaptation of a book that means a lot to me and I have no doubt that will grow with every viewing.

The effects are amazing if a little much in some places – looking at you naked hag – and the casting of the adult versions of the Losers is spot on. Particularly Eddie (James Ransone) and Richie (Hader) who steal the show with their chemistry (much as they did as kids). James McAvoy is obviously very easy on the eye and brings a solidity to Bill Denbrough, the unofficial leader of the gang. And Uncle Stephen‘s cameo was brilliant too.

Main man Bill Skarsgård nails PW perfectly. He’s really grown into the role – I particularly enjoyed the scene in which he manipulates a little girl by way of her physical insecurities (and then eats her). The scene in which the gang come together for the first time in a Chinese restaurant is also glorious – and hideous, in equal measure. I love how the film flashes between past and present day, perfectly morphing the adults back into children, pulling at our heartstrings as it goes. I can’t look at baby Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) without wanting to smoosh the shit out of him, he’s so vulnerable and precious.

“Your hair is winter fire
January embers
My heart burns there, too.”

I have beef too – mainly the way they used Bowers and his crew. In the book the human terror was just as prolific as the supernatural and Henry posed a massive threat to the gang. In Chapter Two he’s reduced to a secondary character and framed as the light comedy relief which is just wrong. His story line never really goes anywhere. Likewise, Bill’s wife Audra and Beverly’s husband are underused and the emphasis on Bev’s lifelong cycle of abuse is not very clear. I think it’s a key element of who she is and how she defeats her demons. As a result adult Bev isn’t very well-developed and Chastain is quite overshadowed by her adolescent counterpart.

It needs to mentioned that the movie opens with a horrendous homophobic attack. It is obviously incredibly difficult to watch – but I’m glad they didn’t shy away from including it in the film. It goes some way towards making the point that Derry is bad because of an inherent evil that dwells there (or are people just bad?). The image of Pennywise putting out a hand to help a drowning man is chilling to the core and the scene looks exactly as I imagined it in my mind.

There’s a lot of fat phobia – Eddie’s ma in particular is not treated very respectfully, while Ben was only hot once he got skinny and did some crunches (true the source material) but how good would it be for the fat dude to get the girl, no questions asked?

It is a mammoth book and it would be very hard to cover everything across two films, so I shouldn’t be too sore about the missed bits. I’m still delighted with what I got and I’m sad it’s over. It may be about fear and the birth of evil but it’s also the perfect ode of the kind of friendship you’ll always hold near, even if you lose touch. I cried my eyes out as the credits rolled (both times).

Now, what I wouldn’t give for a Pennywise backstory spin off!

Film details:

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader
Director: Andy Muschietti
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 7/10
My Rating: 5/5

What are you watching? Have you seen It? What did you think?

Crawl

What’s not to love about a premise like this? Sporty girl gets trapped in the crawlspace below the family home during a hurricane and has to wrestle ‘gators to save her old man. There really isn’t that much more to the story than that which is fine. We all know why we’re really here.

Crawl

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.

If the storm doesn’t get you… they will

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Skins‘ Effy is Haley, a plucky swimmer (lucky) who thinks she might be done with the sport when she fails to beat the competition during an important meet. When she gets out of training she realises Florida is in chaos, due to an impending hurricane – and its a doozy.

Unfortunately, Haley and her concerned sister can’t get hold of their father (Barry Pepper), so she ignores all the warnings to travel to his condo to check on him. Honestly, if you’ve any respect for rules and/or personal safety, this kind of irresponsible decision making is seriously going to grind your gears.

Of course this 87 minute movie would be infinitely shorter if this was a quick in and out visit. No, Haley has to find her dad first and he’s also flouting all safety suggestions by taking an ill-timed walk down memory lane. With the help of good dog Sugar, she eventually finds him in the basement of their old home – but they’re not alone.

If she’s going to save them both (and Sugar), she’s going to have to make it snappy.

What follows is a race against time as Haley has to work out how to get them upstairs and out of the house before the rising flood drowns them both. The alligators aren’t going to make it easy for them either.

My Comments

Honestly, this was fine. It did what I wanted it to and there were some genuinely tense scenes. Also a lot of innocent characters getting killed or placed in mortal danger because of the central characters and their selfishness, just saying.

The ‘monster’ work was sublime though and I loved the concept of the alligators chomping on everyone willy-nilly. Some of the most satisfying moments were when randoms got eaten on the sidelines (not the cops, they didn’t deserve it).

It’s a good-looking film with some stunning framing. Kaya is impressive and does a good job of holding the film together by actually having the chutzpah required to save the day. However, when a film like this works hard to make you care about its protagonists it can often backfire and I don’t think anyone’s that bothered about the strained father/daughter history when there are limbs to be gobbled. Every moment of onscreen emotional jibba jabba could have been spent on more alligator action.

Worth checking out if you like your creature features though.

Film details:

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper
Director: Alexandre Aja
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
My Rating: 3.5/5

What are you watching?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

I was really looking forward to this Guillermo del Toro produced spookfest. The trailer piqued my interests from the get go and the intro to our central characters and their sleepy little town was really satisfying. Especially with Halloween just a few short months away. But I just wasn’t that into it and I’m sad about it.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.

Based on the iconic book series.

*Spoilers*

My Review

Scary Stories plays a little bit harder than Goosebumps but still has a similar vibe and although it is creepy AF there are no real scares. I have a high threshold for that admittedly but I do wish, as I do with so many movies, that it had been rated higher and gone all out. I guess the books this movie is based on were always intended for a younger crowd so that’s kind of a moot point. The trailer also gives an awful lot away and that’s such a shame.

Stories hurt, stories heal.

I did enjoy parts of it. The effects are great, the characters well-rounded, if slightly clichéd at times. It was nice to have a central teen character, Stella (Colletti) who is really authentically teenage girl, not glam or over-sexualised – and she still kind of gets the guy. The teen romance isn’t too cloying or over-emphasised – and the chemistry between friends is believable.

I just love amateur sleuthing on film and this has it in droves. A microfiche in the local newspaper’s archive room? Check! Dusty records in the basement of the local mental hospital? Check! A haunted house full of secret rooms and dark family secrets? You bet your bottom dollar that’s a check! I just wish I’d been more invested in the safety of the victims and less, hate to say it, bored during some of the conclusion. It was also a very obvious ending, something we’ve seen a hundred times before.

I bloody loved the scarecrow Harold and the pale lady though – I want a spin off with just them please – the King and Queen of the grotesque.

My Comments

Ultimately, Scary Stories is a little too by the numbers and it doesn’t wow as much as I wanted it to. Some of it is a little convenient and not followed through particularly well. Which is a crying shame because we’re entering a wonderful period for horror this year (and have has some right bangers already). This could’ve been a contender.

Film details:

Starring: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush
Director: André Øvredal
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 6.5/10
My Rating:
3.5/5

What are you watching?

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

I’ve slept on this review because I just haven’t been sure about what to say. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this movie experience, quite the opposite. It’s by one of my favourite directors* so there’s a lot to love and I did enjoy it overall, I think it’s just that – there’s a lot to unpack.

All I’m really sure about is that I need another viewing STAT and next time probably in the comfort of my own home. Without two drunk Aussies sitting directly in front of me waving their arms about.

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

The 9th Film from Quentin Tarantino.

*Spoiler*

My Review

Ageing movie and now TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) is having a crisis of career confidence. Relegated to bad guy of the week guest spots, he’s reluctant to take his seasoned talent to Italy’s spaghetti westerns as suggested by big shot casting agent Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino). His long time stunt double and now personal assistant Cliff Booth (Pitt) drives him around wherever he needs to go and that’s about it. When Dalton gets him a stunt gig on his latest project, Booth fucks it up by beating up the talent. The talent being one Bruce Lee (Mike Moh).

This leaves Booth at a loose end so it’s no wonder he ends up in the company of a prepubescent hippie girl at Spahn Ranch, home of the Manson Family. Meanwhile, Dalton’s next door neighbour, rising star Sharon Tate (Robbie) is on her own journey.

On the surface of it, that’s about it – except that we’re all familiar with the story of the Tate murders and this adds to the ambience. Plus its a QT movie so that’s never just it. As Robbie’s luminous Tate lights up the screen it’s with trepidation that we following her arc – knowing how it all ends. I honestly didn’t know what to expect or where they were going with the Manson connection and although the outcome was deeply satisfying, I’m still a little on the fence. Maybe because this isn’t the first film I’ve watched lately that tries to re-imagine that fateful night – The Haunting of Sharon Tate literally sets her up as a psychic who saves them all just in the nick of time.

OUATIH is infinitely better than the above-mentioned Hilary Duff vehicle obviously but I can’t help it coming to mind in relation. I’m also happy I finished Helter Skelter when I did. Spahn Ranch and the girls were exactly as I pictured them. While this Hollywood homage isn’t quite as steeped in QT’s signature flourishes, he does capture the essence of actually being there.

The performances are top notch, DiCaprio rarely gets it wrong but he’s absolutely brilliant as washed up Rick Dalton. Brad Pitt too plays his part with relish. Booth is an enigma really, followed through Hollywood by the rumour that he murdered his own wife but, apart from a brief flashback, we never find out more. This is clever on the director’s part as we never really know where we are with the seemingly good Booth. What matters here though is the friendship between the two male leads – and their chemistry is really something.

“Hey! You’re Rick fucking Dalton. Don’t you forget it.” ~ Cliff Booth

Some of my favourite scenes are between child actress Trudi (Julia Butters) and Dalton. I can’t understand how a kid can be that accomplished yet believable an actress but she’s incredible. She’s a little Margot Robbie in training.

“It’s official, old buddy. I’m a has-been” ~ Rick Dalton

My Comments

All of the above but also, I enjoyed the inclusion of the real Sharon Tate on the cinema screen when our Tate goes to watch herself. It was poignant and sad, Tate being such a sympathetic beauty by default. When I first watched this I thought anyone could have played Tate but I was wrong. Lovely Margot Robbie is so effervescent and gorgeous, she absolutely nails the sixties zeitgeist.

Like most people I’m more than a little interested in True Crime, so I was mostly here for Charles Manson, the central performances and because I can’t imagine not being intrigued about what Tarantino does next. Interestingly, Manson is only spied once for just a moment and this only adds to his mystique. The Family, more or less run in Manson’s absence by Gypsy (Lena Dunham), are intriguing enough in their own right. Booth’s meeting with George Spahn (Bruce Dern), under the watchful eye of Squeaky (Dakota Fanning) is very tense but hilarious.

Finally, while the climax is shocking in its sheer violence – even by my standards – now I’ve had a chance to sit with it, I kind of love the concept of a moment in time changing history forever. It ends on a hopeful note and that is kind of beautiful.

Shit, turns out maybe I loved it more than I originally thought.

Film details:

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
My Rating:
4/5

What are you watching?

*Problematic fave

Elizabeth Harvest

Netflix seems to be a hot bed for fucked up sci-fi/horror and I love finding the diamonds in the rough. This is more cubic zirconia than diamond sure, but it still has a certain shine.

Elizabeth Harvest

A brilliant man marries a beautiful woman and shows her his home, stating that it’s all hers – except a room she can’t enter…

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Elizabeth (Lee) has just married the brilliant (and very rich) Henry (Hinds). The happy couple have just returned to his impressive home and Henry gives his lovely young wife the full tour. Everything in the home is hers for the taking except for one room, which she is forbidden to enter. So far so Bluebeard, eh?

As Elizabeth acclimatises to her new environment, including Henry’s spiky assistant Claire (Gugino) and blind Oliver (Matthew Beard), her husband is called away on unavoidable business. What’s a girl to do when she’s home alone and bored out of her mind? You got it.

But Elizabeth’s snooping lands her in hot water and so begins a horrific cycle of marriage, sex and murder as Henry deals with his duplicitous wife/wives. Can the next Elizabeth break the pattern by fighting back? Whaaaat?

My Comments

I’m trying so hard not give the game away but it’s all about cloning. Henry and Claire have been working for years on a way to bring back Henry’s late wife who died in childbirth and had a rare generic condition.

After multiple attempts, most of which were not a success, Henry has grown tired of the project and his (somewhat) noble motivations have take a sinister turn. In short, he’s getting a kick out of reliving his wedding night and then murdering his new wife, over and over.

Once Claire realises this, even her devotion to Henry is shaken while there’s a terrible history between Oliver and Henry. This entire back story is uncovered by Elizabeth #5 who is guided to Claire’s secret diary by Oliver, who is also after some information from within its pages. Is he who he thinks he is?

#5 is shocked to learn the truth but hasn’t much time to digest it when Elizabeth #6 (the last Elizabeth from a batch of six) wakes up. Shit, son.

I liked this actually. I had no idea what it would entail but it has me at its premise. The setting is cold yet glamorous and from the get go Henry is not to be trusted. He’s already icky by default for having such a young, hot wife and referring to her as a ‘good girl’.

You need to suspend your disbelief to stomach pretty much all of it but it was kind of cool. I really like Abbey Lee, who always plays the sexy ingenue but brought a vulnerability (and subsequent strength) to what could have been a pretty 2D part.

It’s all fucking creepy though. Imagine six copies of you? Available on UK Netflix if you fancy it.

Film details:

Starring: Abbey Lee, Ciarán Hinds, Carla Gugino
Director: Sebastian Gutierrez
Year: 2018
IMDB Rating: 5.7/10
My Rating:
3/5

What are you watching?

Destination Wedding

The story of two miserable and unpleasant wedding guests, Lindsay and Frank, who develop a mutual affection despite themselves.

Winona RyderKeanu Reeves

Director: Victor Levin • Year: 2018
IMDB Rating: 6/10 • My Rating: 3/5

Lindsay: Don’t you believe there is someone for everyone?

Frank: Close. I believe that there is nobody for anyone.

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

In many ways this was better than expected as it offers up two pretty awful people to actually root for, despite it all. Frank (Reeves) and Lindsay (Ryder) meet at the airport and soon start bickering. To their dismay, on the light aircraft to their destination, they learn they’re going to the same wedding.

Frank is the estranged half-brother of the groom, while Lindsay used to be engaged to him – but was dumped five weeks before their own  wedding, six years previously. They’re both there out of a twisted sense of duty and Lindsay figures this might give her the closure she needs. While the pair are both cynical and pessimistic – and seem incapable of not roasting one another – they form an odd bond against the rest of the wedding party.

One thing inevitably leads to another and our caustic couple live happily ever after. Well, not really but there’s a sniff of hope and that’s all this is saying. Sure, be negative but maybe try to be open to the possibility of something meaningful too?

When Lindsay suggests that they take their one-nighter further, Frank is reluctant for all his reasons. Will he change his mind? This is a short review because, well action wise we’re a little light on the ground. This is more a study of human expectation and disappointment – with the two coolest leads on the planet.

Lindsay: Do you wanna have children?

Frank: I’d rather be dead in a ditch.

My Comments

I really liked the blend of cynicism and hope but there’s a stiffness to it and – much as I adore him with every fiber of my being – I think this is down to how much dialog there is for KR to process. However, in a way this works towards building his character, who’s awkward and unpleasant – but seriously hot. The sarcasm almost suits him and it’s a role we seldom see him in, so it’s worth relishing.

I loved seeing this golden couple back on the screen together – so they could have been doing or saying anything and I’d be satisfied. As is happens there a few stand out scenes that really tickled me – the scene in which they decide to do it (and Lindsay shouts “No no no!” at the point of climax because she’s a negative person) – and when they’re tearing down the wedding guests one by one.

Frank: Why would anyone have my mother as their maid of honor?

Lindsay: I know, it’s like having the Grim Reaper at your CAT scan.

Winona is wonderful of course, her facial expressions are a dream and I love her even more since Joyce Byers came into my life. She brings a realness to Lindsay that I can really identify with and honestly, can someone just find a new film for her to star in with the man of the moment?

What are you watching?

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.

Dwayne JohnsonJason StathamIdris Elba

Director: David Leitch • Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 • My Rating: 5/5

“I’m what you might call a champagne problem.” ~ Deckard Shaw

My Review

Obviously I think this is the perfect Summer action movie. Not only is it a spin-off of a franchise I love very much, it features F&F alumni Johnson and Statham, as the titular Hobbs & Shaw. The only thing that could top this would be the addition of a super-hot super villain: step up Mr Elba, AKA Brixton, AKA Black Superman.

Oh but it’s not just about the holy trinity. Vanessa Kirby does sterling work as Hattie Shaw, sister of Deckard and daughter of the amazing Queenie (Helen Mirren). In fact she more or less steals the show. CIA Operative Hattie is hot on the heels of a team of techno terrorists when she is forced to take potentially lethal action. To stop a deadly virus getting into the wrong hands, she injects it directly into her own body and becomes public enemy #1 – portrayed as a traitor to her firm and the security of the world, she’s now on the run with almost nowhere to turn.

Almost.

Step in the boys who are less than thrilled to be back in each other’s orbits. In fact, it’s questionable they’ll ever be able to put their differences aside to actually get shit done. But Shaw’s not going to give up on his sister, even though they’ve been estranged for a long time. When he works out who the leader of the group is, the level of threat they’re dealing with becomes unmistakable – and they have little choice but to tolerate each other at least for the time being.

And Brixton isn’t just any nemesis. He’s a genetically engineered super-soldier, unbeatable in almost every way – though his faceless puppeteer has the power to shut him down any time – unless he successfully enlists our heroes into the fold. Will he turn their heads with the promise of ultimate power? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Well, H&S has everything you need. Witty bants between Frowny and The Rock, steamy chemistry via Hattie and Hobbs – cars, explosions, muscles. It’s amazing and fun – the ultimate popcorn movie – and frankly, I can’t wait to see it again. As shit hits the fan in massive bursts, our newly assembled trio have to find a way to get off the grid, get the virus out of Hattie before it enters her bloodstream – and prepare for war.

If only there were some sort of an island setting for them to escape to? Maybe an endless supply of FAMILY SPIRIT to keep them motivated?

My Comments

My favourite parts of this movie are… all of them. While I am biased AF, I truly believe in the sentiments of this neo-action classic. Sure it’s big, brash and slick – but it has its heart in the right place and I love it for that. I want to know so much more about the Shaw Family, while a spin-off of Somoan island life would be incredible.

I’m not sorry at all that I love the fuck out of Jason Statham movies. He’s supremely watchable on the big screen, an actor who knows his limitations and has pure star power (and an awesome physical grace). He’s no Sir Ian McKellen and that’s fine – I’ll always love him for who he is. Meanwhile, Johnson brings his likeability to yet another big budget blockbuster and God bless him. He’s so comforting and the chemistry between the two just works.

My final word on this is that I’m newly obsessed with Vanessa Kirby and I demand more of her as action hero. She’s incredible.

What are you watching?

Secret Obsession, or: Why Learning Photoshop Could Come in Handy Later

This week’s pick and the last in our fuck-ups month has thrown up A LOT of questions.

Recuperating from trauma, Jennifer remains in danger as she returns to a life she doesn’t remember.

Brenda SongMike VogelDennis Haysbert

*Spoilers galore*

On one hand this film is quite the waste of space and I’ve seen it twice now. On the other, it’s exactly the kind of movie Jill and I enjoy snarking about. It’s pure unadulterated trash and I don’t regret any of it, even if I’m still scratching my head about some quite major plot points.

Jennifer Williams (Song) is hit by a car and injured horribly after she is chased by a mystery psychopath in the rain late one night. Her head injury is so severe that she doesn’t remember much about the night or the last few years of her life. This is a bit of a bummer since she’s just got married to attentive husband Russell (Mike Vogel). Via the power of a well organised photo system and some adorable anecdotes, Russell is able to fill in some of the blanks – and Jen is relieved to learn how happy they were/are.

After a brief stint in the hospital – or maybe not that brief since there’s time for a ‘healing’ montage – Jennifer is released. Russell takes her home to their lovely house in the mountains and everything is perfect. The thing is, it is kind of perfect, with Jennifer’s every want and need taken care of. Odd then that she isn’t quite as relaxed as she should be in her own home (well maybe not) but as we all would, she starts snooping to try and remember anything she can about her own life. Hint: I bet his password is CreepyBastard69.

There are also a couple of additional flies in the perfect life ointment, including sexy Detective Frank Page (Haysbert) who, as a seasoned member of the po-po can smell a rat a mile off. When he questions a couple of witnesses from Jennifer’s bad night, he starts to piece together a worrying picture… There’s no freaking way all is as it seems.

And who’s the (also quite fine) dark-haired bloke who keeps popping up at the police station, hospital, everywhere? The sinister music that plays with his every appearance would have us believe he knows more than he’s letting on about Jennifer’s accident. But what?

Meanwhile, Jen learns her parents were killed in a fire and that she quit her job before the wedding, so the lovebirds can start a family. When she ponders where her friends and her phone are, Russell tells her her phone was lost the night she was attacked but he’ll get her a new one. Later, he reminds her there’s no phone service in the mountains – and that is the exact moment I would have left his sorry arse. You know, if I wasn’t walking painfully on a broken leg, with no money, no car and severe amnesia.

I’ll come back to this later but it soon becomes clear that there’s something rotten about Russell (I clocked it in the first ten minute) and this is only reinforced when he goes after the mysterious dark-haired bloke and kills him. When Jennifer wakes in the night, she witnesses her beau burying something in the garden. Clue, love: he’s not tending to his prize vegetable patch.

I don’t know how many red flags this girl needs but she is vulnerable so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Little by little she witnesses chinks in Russell’s nice guy armor, not least when he has a go at her for not wanting to fuck him, the selfish bitch. It is hard to watch Jennifer be gas lit by this sleazy fuck – and I spent a good deal of time shouting at the screen.

Luckily, Frank is a dog with a bone and he’s busy beavering away behind the scenes, finding out exactly who Russell is. He also uncovers the mystery of what happened to Jennifer’s parents – and to her real husband. Frank, it turns out has a tragic backstory of his own (because of course he does) which makes him even more determined to rescue Jennifer.

There’s a very sad segment in which he carefully picks out a birthday gift for his daughter who went missing years previously. Honestly though, this is meant to add depth to his character but it was cliché and pretty unnecessary. Anywho – both Frank and Jen are now on the same page – all they’ve got to do is find each other, right?

Well, I’ll let you find out how that works out but there aren’t many surprises here. Twitter seems to be awash with people left terrified by this movie but it’s very by the numbers and not very scary. I bloody love dramas about stalkers though, may I also recommend My Teacher, My Obsession?

What doesn’t work for me is how opportunistic Russell is. I mean, *SPOILER* but Russell is the killer and not Jennifer’s husband, just a lowly work colleague with an all-encompassing crush. After killing Jen’s husband he went after the woman herself – only for her to get herself run over. Which opened up a whole new world of opportunity for him. What I don’t get is how quickly he put all the photos together to build a picture of their rich relationship history – those are some skills.

Also, dark-haired dude? His story arc comes to nothing. He’s a witness to the accident but what’s his motivation to follow Jen around and be all suspicious about Russell? He’s not even a friend from their previous lives! I don’t get it at all. (Perhaps my film bud will be able to tell me more).

Also, how long have Jennifer’s parents been lying there dead? Didn’t anyone miss them both?

Brenda Song isn’t terrible and she’s nice to look at but really Dennis Haysbert is the glue. The moral of the story is: trust no man and if you can, go home with the nice blonde nurse instead.

Film details:

Secret Obsession
Year: 2019
Director: Peter Sullivan
IMDB Rating: 4.3/10
My Rating: 2/5

What does my own secret obsession think of this straight to video nightmare? Would she take advantage of its memory loss or bury it six feet under? Find out here.

The Lion King

After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.

Donald GloverBeyoncéSeth Rogen

The King Has Returned.

I really didn’t give a fuck about this remake. I’ve never been the most die-hard Disney fan anyway and The Lion King wasn’t one of my favourites. When it was announced, I didn’t feel excited and would happily have skipped it. However, my husband is obsessed with the original and well, the things we do for love.

I’m glad we did. For a moment there I was almost relegated to a different row, he was so worried I’d ruin it with my negative reaction. But I enjoyed myself, honestly and was very well-behaved.

The film is beautiful, I’d be lion if I said otherwise. The attention to detail is stunning, with lots of fun little side characters peppered throughout. The first half of the movie, in fact was delightful. Baby Simba is a peach and you’d have to be inhuman not to be moved a) by James Earl Jones‘ treacle toffee voice and b) the father/son relationship. It’s even more bittersweet as we all know what’s coming.

I cried a lot, even before ‘that scene’ which I expected to do, I’m a big baby. But I didn’t expect to be as affected. When I was a kid I had a genuine internal worry that I wasn’t ‘normal’ because my heartstrings never seemed to react in the way Disney wanted them to.

For me it started to unravel as soon as we meet grown up Simba (Glover). I’m not crazy about the voice choices for him or for adult Nala (Bey) – both artists I like, particularly Glove – and I hated their songs. Their rendition of Can You Feel the Love to Night is dreadful. Thank God for the genius of Timon and Pumbaa (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan) then. Rogan was born to play this role and everybody’s favourite characters really shine together. They also get the best songs.

Meanwhile, Rafiki and Scar are also very good. The latter in particular seems even more menacing and his hyena army are terrifying. I felt myself sympathising with Scar toward the end which is odd as there really is no good in him. Perhaps it’s just the concept of a sad, old lion being exiled from the pride that is hard to deal with.

All in all I had fun. I enjoyed it more than Beauty & the Beast and The Jungle Book. Lots of people have been mean about the lack of facial expressions on the animals and I get it, though what do you expect? If you make something realistic, you can’t then expect it to react like the cartoon does. Duh.

Now I’m quite excited for The Little Mermaid which has been stirring up some delicious controversy on the internet over its casting choices. And Mulan also looks pretty good.

Look, we don’t really need any of these movies remade but who am I to begrudge super fans more time with their faves? God knows we need as much joy and happiness as we can get in this confusing world.

Bring on Ursula, bitches. I’m holding out for Lizzo or Missy Elliott for the role.

Film details:

The Lion King
Year: 2019
Director: Jon Favreau
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
My Rating: 3/5

What are you watching?