Last Christmas

Me: “I’m not going to review as many films anymore…”
Also Me:

Last Christmas (2019)

Nothing seems to go right for young Kate, a frustrated Londoner who works as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. But things soon take a turn for the better when she meets Tom — a handsome charmer who seems too good to be true. As the city transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, Tom and Kate’s growing attraction turns into the best gift of all — a Yuletide romance.

Director: Paul Feig
Stars: Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Yeoh

*Minor spoilers*

It’s funny how much we can forgive in the name of Christmas spirit, huh? This Paul Feig Christmas movie is enjoyable for a second but it definitely doesn’t hit the notes of The Holiday. It’s no Love Actually – it’s not even The Family Stone.

Maybe my hopes for it were a little too high. All I know is that both the central characters were annoying twits. I haven’t always been wowed by Emilia Clarke but I do enjoy watching her and she was as gorgeous as ever as self-destructive Kate. Her eyebrows do the most of the acting work though, they’re here, there and everywhere.

Golding’s Tom is 2D as they come and I don’t understand why I’m supposed to give a shit about such a condescending character. Stop telling everyone to “look up” you boring prick – let them live. None of this is a good sign when you’re expected to invest in their burgeoning ‘love’ story.

Thankfully, the supporting acts are the movie’s saving grace (and London by night, obvs). Some of the characters we meet down at the homeless shelter are priceless, including Kate’s fellow volunteers and her father Ivan (Boris Isakovic) is a laugh riot. The true stand-out for me though is Santa, Kate’s Christmas-loving boss (Michelle Yeoh), that woman lights up the screen more than all those Christmas lights combined. Thompson delivers as per but considering she also has writing credits, why is this so bland?

I guessed the hidden premise half way through which is very unusual for me. It’s so damn literal! And honestly, there’s not much to the rest of the movie. Somewhere in this mess is a message about Brexit and being there for our fellow man in unity, rather than pushing everyone away and I liked that. Especially at Christmas.

I also like the idea of a messed up individual putting their life back together, one brick at a time, with or without a terrible illness to motivate them. It’s just a shame that Kate (or Katarina) is more fun when she’s being a thoughtless little tramp.

Judge for yourselves, I guess. Maybe I’m just dead inside. (I know I’m not though because despite everything I still did a teeny cry every time a George Michael song came on.)

2.5/5

What are you watching?

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.

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

*Minor spoilers*

I feel like CRA is more of an experience than just a film. On the surface of things, it’s a snapshot of a totally different way of life, one I could never comprehend nor have a slice of – but it’s so much more than that. And as a white woman, I will never fully understand what it feels like to watch a mainstream Hollywood movie with a purely Asian cast (without a white character in sight to save the day, no less). From the live-action Ghost in the Shell to the remake of Old Boy (and everything in-between), white-washing is a very real thing and it’s completely unacceptable – so you’re damn right this is important.

Based on the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan, the film adaptation takes place mainly in Singapore, when the handsome Nick Young (Henry Golding) takes his girlfriend Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) to attend the wedding of his best friend – and to finally meet his family. What Rachel doesn’t know is that her beau is rich – crazy rich – and his family is practically royalty.

“I love you in Tomorrow Never Dies, Ma…”

But how will Nick’s super traditional mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) take his relationship though? After all, Rachel is more or less a peasant and could never be good enough for her favourite boy. So, despite smarts and a fantastic job, kind Rachel is subjected to a series of humiliations and branded a gold digger by Singapore’s elite – something she is completely unprepared for.

Luckily, she has her old college mate Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) on hand for support as well as lovely Astrid (Gemma Chan), who has her own cross to bear in the form of a cheating husband. What follows Rachel’s arrival in Singapore is a luscious battle of wits as she find the inner courage to challenge the behaviour of Eleanor Young, who is hellbent on sabotaging Nick’s relationship, whatever the cost.

I had such a good time with this movie. It’s gorgeous to look like, obviously – all breath-taking location shots and designer wardrobes but it’s sweet too – corny in places – but also genuinely moving when it wants to be. The traditional values of Nick’s family are touching, though the stubborn need to keep everything in check is hard to comprehend – and Eleanor’s disregard for her son’s happiness is frustrating. Will there be a happy ending for our lovers?

I went to see this with my friend Helen who visited Singapore this year and has been to a number of the places featured, including the huge hotel with the pool on the roof. This made it even more special to her – for me it was nice and feel-good. It made me laugh where it wanted me to – Awkwafina is a good comedic actress and very different as Peik Lin to her character in Ocean’s Eight.

Fashion: a walk in the park for this trio

It’s also great to see Gemma Chan in such a choice role. I’ve seen her in a few TV bits over the years and I think she’s an angel. She definitely gave me the most feels as nice girl Astrid, who has to hide her extravagances from her rags to riches husband, who cannot deal with her vast wealth. So much so that he has to bang someone else. Her pain is hard to bear but her R-E-S-P-E-C-T moment as the end is very satisfying.

I love the whole cast really, and it’s good to see familiar faces pop up. Michelle Yeoh’s brittle Eleanor is bloody marvellous and her head-to-head with Rachel is very powerful. As for the central romance, it’s fine of course, you’re rooting for them as they’re both so deserving of their happy ending – but it’s standard popcorn love and not the main pull of the film for me.

Just a nice low-key wedding, yo

I would love to live my life in this decadence for just one day. Can you even imagine?

My Rating

4/5.