Tag Archives: The Movies

Greta

Everyone Needs a Friend.

Greta (2018)

A young woman befriends a lonely widow who’s harboring a dark and deadly agenda toward her.

Starring: Isabelle Huppert • Chloë Grace Moretz • Maika Monroe 

*Minor spoilers*

Bags of fun

Huh. Knowing this is directed by The Crying Game’s Neil Jordan, you would naturally go in expecting a high quality thriller. What you actually get is an enjoyable, yet ultimately empty and forgettable movie with questionable central performances. Which I’m gutted to type, honestly because ever since I saw the trailer, I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release date.

The premise alone is so intriguing. When nice girl Frances McCullen (Chloe Moretz) finds a handbag on the subway, there’s no question of what she will do. She returns it to its rightful owner, Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert). Greta invites her in for coffee and learning that she is widowed and missing her daughter, who lives in Paris, Frances takes pity on the woman – and a friendship is born.

Grieving for her own mother, who has passed away the previous year, Frances finds a natural connection with Greta. Frances’ BFF Erica (It Follows’ Maika Monroe) warns her that the whole scene is a little bit icky – and moreover, that Frances’ wholesome goodness will result in her being eaten alive by NYC. Frances doesn’t see it like that… until she discovers some new (and sinister) information about her new friend.

What on earth is Greta’s game and what does she want from Frances?

Chink chink motherfucker

Needless to say this is an intense stalker story that culminates in a nasty situation. But why? This is my issue with the story. We learn via a secondary source (played by Zawe Ashton), that things aren’t as they seem, particularly regarding the relationship between Greta and her daughter. There’s a vague hint at what G might be hiding but there’s no exploration of why she is what she is. And the climax is cool and all but it’s also shaky and predictable.

I was expecting so much more. I thought I’d be blown away by a motive I’d never even considered, with twists and turns I couldn’t imagine. Instead I got several shoddy false starts and a lot of head scratching time. That said, I still enjoyed myself – and while she’s not given that much to do, I liked Erica (when will MM get the consistently great roles she deserves?).

“I loved you in It Follows.”

About those central performances. I mean, c’mon! Huppert is a dream of an actress with a sting in her tail. Her turn in 2016’s Elle was wonderful – I expected more of the same, if not even more unhinged and delicious. Yet her Greta never really gets going in the way I hoped. It’s not a bad performance, it just doesn’t ever gain the momentum you’d expect. She is chic AF though, which is a given.

In turn, lovely Miss Moretz seems to phone her part in. I do find her acting hit or miss at times (even though I like her) but it’s as if she turned up to filming without really reading the script first. However, I can’t really blame the actresses for this, the film just doesn’t pack a punch and they can only do so much.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

I Am Michael

Yes or No_

Two James Franco movies in a row? What the hell is going on in the world? Well, I guess it serves me right for messing up Jillian’s first choice and only being able to find a non-subtitled copy, rendering it useless. This was Plan B.

I must admit I was attracted to the story and to Zachary Quinto‘s involvement – and this has been on my list for a little while, so I wasn’t that upset. Welcome to another post in April’s Based on a True Story category.

One man. Two lives.

I Am Michael (2015)

Based on the fascinating true-life story of Michael Glatze, a gay activist who becomes a Christian pastor after identifying as a heterosexual.

Starring: James Franco • Zachary Quinto • Emma Roberts

*Minor spoilers*

Michael (Franco) is in a happy, long term relationship with Bennett (Quinto). The pair live and work in San Francisco where Michael is a gay rights activist and editor of XY Magazine. Life is tough but good as the socially conscious pair explore the LGBT+ scene, sexual liberation and the challenges of being gay in the early noughties. They also get a dog together which is probably the most important milestone in this entire film, right?

You can do way better, Zach

All is well until Michael has a health scare, believing he is afflicted with the same heart condition that claimed his father’s life when he was just 13 (Michael, not his dad). His mother passed away six years later, when he was 19. Despite the doctors insistence that it is just a panic attack (later it is revealed that he has Celiac’s disease), it sends ripples of panic through Michael and he starts to question everything.

Unfortch, most of that is how his homosexuality can possibly live alongside his newfound religious beliefs – which it turns out, it can’t. So Michael explores several different faiths, including Mormonism and Buddhism, all the while renouncing cock, his friends and the gay lifestyle. This is a stinger for Bennett and their mutual friends who don’t understand Michael’s need to pursue his “true self”. And nobody can blame them for that.

Michael’s Frosted Tips Anonymous group was brutal at times

When Michael travels to Wyoming to attend a Christian bible camp, he meets Rebekah (Emma Roberts), a nice Christian girl also trying to figure out life (I hear you, gurl) – and they fall in love. Which is handy as Michael’s just about to become the pastor of his own church. How will Rebekah take the news of Michael’s fruity past?

Well, this film is fine but it’s pretty lack lustre if I’m honest. There’s nothing wrong with the performances but it’s very introspective and boring at times. I mean, the story is astonishing – and even though I am against it in so many ways – it is a true account of one man’s journey so I have to accept that.

I do have sympathy for anyone struggling with finding themselves and if Michael lived the life he truly wanted to then you can’t really argue with that. I just find it awful in one of the final scenes when he speaks to Bennett and refers to his former choices as ‘abnormal’.

Some of the secondary characters are pretty good, I have a lot of time for third wheel Tyler (Charlie Carver) who’s just adorable. But this is quite forgettable and it didn’t command my full attention either – so I haven’t hit you with a lot of detail because I was pottering around for a lot of it.

“I’m a hetero, CIS white guy now so you will listen to my bullshit…”

James Franco for the record irritates me so fucking much. He’s just so skeezy and I hope he doesn’t pop up in too many of our future films. Maybe we should ban him.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does wifey thing of our Plan B movie? Would she advocate for it like a boss or renounce it soon as look at it? Find out here, obvs where Jill gives a way more detailed take on the whole situation.

Easter Horror Movies – I Watch Them So You Don’t Have To

To celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, I thought I would do something extra special on the blog.

So, while you’ve been munching chocolate for breakfast, I have been exploring a small selection of crappy Easter horror movies (and munching chocolate for breakfast). Apparently the Easter horror sub-genre is really a thing and while it was hard to get hold of a lot of them, I did my best.

*Minor spoilers*

1.-eastershortbunnyjesus

JESUS Christ

Holidays (Segment: “Easter”) (2016)

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions.

Nicholas McCarthy‘s segment “Easter” is a nightmarish short, playing on childhood fears and things that go bump in the night. I almost didn’t want to feature the above image because it is pure nightmare fuel and the story itself, while super simple, isn’t much fluffier.

A young girl gets freaked out on the night before Easter when her mum tells her about an impending visit from The Easter Bunny. Worried she might accidentally disturb him in the night, mum tries to explain the bunny’s connection to JC as his holiday mascot. When she does wake up and meets the bunny for herself, she soon realises he is nothing like his wholesome description.

Let me assure you that the image of the resurrected Jesus/Easter Bunny hybrid of this story will not leave you quickly. He’s grotesque in every way, popping baby chicks out of the holes in his post-crucifixion palms. He’s not evil per se, just otherworldly and he’s not about to let the girl off now she’s the first child to ever see him IRL.

For a short film I think this packs a pretty decent (and macabre) punch.

🐣🐣🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Hop it

Cottontail (2017)

A notorious Serial Killer known as ‘Cottontail’ faces a slew of personal issues as he falls in love with the girl of his dreams, all the while trying to put together his ultimate ‘Easter Egg Hunt’.

This plays like a high school media studies project but isn’t a terrible premise. Cottontail the notorious serial killer wears his ‘skin suit’ 364 days of the year but for one day – Easter Sunday – he gets to be who he really is: a very bad bunny.

CT swears down that nothing has happened in his life to turn him into a psychotic mass murderer but there are red flags. While he works on his physical fitness for the big day and gathers together a like-minded group for his Easter ‘game’ – he laments a broken heart and his feeling of guilt towards his family.

He’s surprisingly sensitive is our antagonist and when he falls for moll Carmela, a similarly beautiful monster – he realises he’ll do anything for love. Which is all kinds of cute if you can overlook all the horrific murder, obviously.

This is… not good. But it’s kind of fun and the earnest narration by our bunny is quite endearing. The masks are cool too.

🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Only the very best FX for this blog post

The Beaster Bunny! (2014) – also known as: Beaster Day: Here Comes Peter Cottonhell

A giant bloodthirsty Easter bunny starts viciously killing the local townsfolk. When the Mayor refuses to act and the attacks grow more gruesome, the town finds its very survival in the hands of a wannabe actress and a crazy dog-catcher.

This is an absolute travesty but it has a certain charm. I mean, I’m a sucker for crazed giant animals stomping humans like ants, especially obnoxious ones. Meanwhile, the film’s director seems to be a sucker for boobs – since almost all his female victims either lose and/or are stripped of their clothing before their respective death scenes.

This gives it a seedy feel which I can’t even be bothered to rage at. Anyway, it’s all pastiche right? Needless to say there are a lot of lame jokes and observations (young people are obsessed with social media!) peppered throughout, some truly atrocious but enthusiastic acting and the worst FX I’ve ever seen.

Want to know an Easter secret? I paid £3.49 on Amazon Prime for this monstrosity – and I couldn’t even finish it. So I don’t know why there’s a giant Easter bunny terrorising this town or how it ends. I suspect I’ll live with my decision though.

🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Hello boys

Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)

Eggs of the small, furry alien carnivores are left behind on Earth and, after hatching, again set their appetites on the town of Grover’s Bend.

The sequel to 1986’s Critters has a tenuous link to Easter but fuck it, it made the list anyway. After the events of the first film, a couple of Grover’s Bend locals unwittingly discover a nest of eggs left behind by our alien buddies. Keen to turn this find into a profit, they sell them to an antiques store in town where they’re sold as Easter eggs to a nice old lady. What could possibly go wrong?

Thankfully, there are a gang of space bounty hunters on the case to clear Earth of the Critters – but until they arrive, lots of high jinx and murder ensue. Exactly what you need to celebrate your favourite chocolate based holiday.

Well, this has an unfair advantage perhaps in the sense that it holds cult status and production values of more than $5 (looking at the last two movies in this list) – so it’s better all round. And it’s also nice to see the Critters again honestly. Sure, they’re no Mogwai and pals but they are a slice of kitschy horror history.

🐣🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Uh, wrong blog post, guys…

If you’re interested in exploring this niche pocket of horror movies, then I have a list of titles for you. I think I’ll line some up for next year:

  1. Easter Casket (2013)
  2. Easter Sunday (2014)
  3. The Night Before Easter (2014)
  4. Serial Rabbit (2005)
  5. Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)
  6. Easter Bunny Bloodbath (2010)
  7. Peter Rottentail (2004)
  8. Kottontail (2007)
  9. Bunnyman (2007)
  10. Night of the Lepus (1972)

Happy Easter All!

Mid90s

Fall. Get back up.

Mid90s (2018)

Follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 1990s-era Los Angeles who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop.

Starring: Sunny Suljic • Katherine Waterston • Lucas Hedges

*Minor spoilers*

Mid90s-movie

You literally take the hardest hits out of anybody I’d ever seen in my life. You know you don’t have to do that, right? ~ Ray

Oh slow burning indie movies, how I love thee. Jonah Hill‘s directorial debut is beautiful and sweet there’s no denying it. However, I don’t know how long I will think about it now I’ve seen it.

Stevie (Sunny Suljic) comes from a single-parent home with a bully for a big brother. His mother Dabney (Katherine Waterston) is still young and gorgeous (having had her first child at 18) – and is dipping into the dating pool again. I would tell you more about her but apart from a couple of minor scenes, we know very little of her.

It is suggested that she’s had ‘a past’ that has included a revolving door of suitors – and this might be why older son Ian (Lucas Hedges) is so tormented (read: such a dick).

Stevie is yearning for something clearly, for when he stumbles across a group of skateboarders outside a local skate shop, he wants in – and makes it his mission to join them. Which is no mean feat when you’re just a kid.

Summer-summer-summertime…

Eventually he makes it into the crew and the new friends become the centre of his new world. The gang are: Ray, Fuckshit, Fourth Grade and Ruben – and they are all dealing with their own issues. Stevie rubs Reuben up the wrong way by quickly becoming the new golden boy – and this leads to an inevitable showdown between them.

The gang in general might not be as solid as they once were. Leader of the group Ray (played by the really fucking good Na-kel Smith) is drifting away from his BFF Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt), determined to leave the hood for something better. Can their friendship survive when Fuckshit is determined to just keep partying? Meanwhile, Dabney isn’t very pleased about her son’s behaviour now he’s part of something she can’t control – can she put a stop to it before it goes too far?

A mood

All in all, this is a lovely debut. There is a sex scene involving Stevie and an older girl which made me feel really icky though – so I am very glad it stopped where it did. Honestly, I get that this happens but he’s a literal child and I do not want to see him sexualised!

The female characters aren’t given much to do either. In fact the only women we actually see are Dabney and the skate groupies on the sidelines. That’s not great, Mr Hill. Come to my room and let’s discuss this further.

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Pet Sematary

Sometimes Dead Is Better.

Pet Sematary (2019)

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

Starring: Jason Clarke • Amy Seimetz • John Lithgow

*Minor spoilers*

Which way to certain doom?

She won’t come back the same ~ Jud

Hmmm. I waited a long time for this updated adaptation and now it’s here, I’m not sure.

I mean, it looks good – let’s start there. There are a couple of really sweet SK nods that I appreciate. The house and the setting of the cemetery itself is spot on. I love the Wicker Man aesthetic of the local children in masks (even though they aren’t used at all, which is a shame).

John Lithgow‘s Jud is magnificent – but there’s a lot of character development missing for me. While they go in quite hard on the Zelda/Rachel story arc (which pays tribute subtly to another SK classic), they don’t pad out the family enough for me to give much of a damn.

Louis: loving life

Jason Clarke (good-looking Piers Morgan) is Louis, the tormented father with the power to bring his dead child back from the dead. He’s alright but I do feel the character could have been played by any slightly hot dude of a similar age. Rachel (Amy Seimetz) is actually quite good at times as she deals with the PTSD of her sister’s illness – but as with a lot of female characters in King’s stories, she isn’t given that much to do beyond look stressed out. A modern adaptation could of had her kicking more arse? (Just me?).

I also have issue with how easily Louis resurrects his daughter, Ellie (played by Jeté Laurence). In the book there’s much more examination of his moral quandary – and how much the decision plays on him. The film is only 101 minutes so we don’t have the luxury of spending too much time with the to and fro but still. I think perhaps having the book so clearly in my mind (I read it in the last year and loved it) hasn’t helped but slightly hindered my enjoyment.

There he is

I have to mention the trailer too! It gives so much of the film away that it really damaged things for me. Yes, I get that this is a story that most people know, either from the book or from the 1989 film but this version offers a different take on the story (sort of) by choosing to kill off a different kid. Had we not known that this was the case then ‘the scene’ would have packed quite the punch. While keeping our eye on Gage, we would have completely dropped the ball on Ellie.

I suppose the ending is different and it deserves a nod for that. It’s pretty dark and maybe I would have liked a bit more time to sit with that rather than just have it end. I can’t help think how good this might have been had they made it into a series instead.

All of the above said, Glynn and Matt enjoyed it much more and for some of the reasons I didn’t – so it really is down to a matter of taste. My verdict is: not terrible but ultimately, what was the point?

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

True Story

Yes or No_ (30)

More based on a true story action in the form of this murder mystery starring a man I want to cuddle and a man I want to slap the shit out of.

Let’s see if you can tell which is which from my words.

“I just called…”

True Story (2015)

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into a game of cat-and-mouse.

Starring: James Franco • Jonah Hill • Felicity Jones

Michael Finkel (my boo Jonah Hill) is a promising NY Times journalist with ten cover stories to his name. He’s riding high and expecting a Politzer nom when he’s called into his boss’ office to discuss his last story – an expose on modern slavery.

Unfortunately, rather than picking up a prize, he’s soon clearing his desk when it becomes obvious he may have embellished quite a lot of the story. Claiming he must have got mixed up, his bosses believe he’s used a composite character as the focus of the article. Breaking the rules of Journalism 101, you naughty boy.

Returned from NYC back to his wife (Felicity Jones) and home in Montana, Finkel is finding it predictably difficult to find work, given the accusations leveled at him. But things pick up when he receives a call from the editor of The Oregonian, asking for a quote on the Christian Longo story. Longo (eternal douche pony James Franco) stands accused of murdering his wife and three children – and is in clink awaiting trial.

Franco was not a fan of Christa Bass’ NY Times article, “Ten Things I Hate About James Franco”.

Well, Finkel apparently doesn’t keep up with news these days as he has no idea about the case. When he asks the caller why he should have a view on the story, he is told that when arrested, Longo was pretending to be Michael Finkel. Of the New York Times.

Oooooh!

What follows is a bizarre friendship blossoming between the two men, who figure they have more in common that they could ever have imagined. And Finkel’s career looks set to take an upturn when he decides to make Longo’s story into a book – one that the pair will write together.

The main question throughout True Story is – did Longo do it though?

Well, I won’t reveal the ending but I will say that the relationship between the men is complex and it puts a strain on Finkel’s marriage to Jill. Jill obviously can’t get her head around the need to understand the inner workings of a(n alleged) killer’s mind.

“No way is Franco coming over for tea…”

Finkel wants to believe in his new friend but Longo isn’t always frank and there are some curve balls thrown on the way to uncovering the ultimate truth…

Well. This is kind of dull really, though the story itself if quite explosive. What a shame. Jonah can’t be blamed for this one as he puts in a solid turn as disgraced journo Finkel who looks super cute in his glasses.

I am biased towards Franco, I can’t deny it but he really phones in this performance. I get as a character he’s quite closed off to the truth but he just looks smug the whole way through. I guess in some ways this does work for the character, who shows little remorse or feeling throughout, but a little bit of nuance would have been nice.

The women in this film are just side pieces – supporters and victims – and that’s quite annoying. The result, without proper padding of the relationships of the men, is rather flat.

There are flashbacks to happier times for Longo and his wife MJ (Maria Dizzia), with devoted father montages threaded throughout but these are just aftershocks and don’t fully paint a picture or a motive. Therefore you never really give a damn about either of the men but Longo even less.

It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have the oomph I would have liked.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my girl Jill think of True Story? Would she lie to it or write a book about its innocence? Find out here.

Us

Us (2019)

A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o • Winston Duke • Elisabeth Moss 

*Spoiler free, I promise*

I’ve seen Us twice in the cinema so far and it is hands down the most interesting film I’ve seen all year.  I understand that it might not be everybody’s cup of tea but it really is mine.

Reviewing it is not going to be easy because I could never do it justice but I’m going to try.

In 1986, young Adelaide Thomas is momentarily separated from her parents at a Santa Cruz fairground. Drawn to a hall of mirrors, Adelaide encounters a doppelgänger of herself and is scarred by the experience. Her parents try everything to get her to speak (she has been rendered mute), including dance and art therapy.

In present-day, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) have two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). We meet them as they head back to her families beach house in Santa Cruz on vacay.

While Ade is apprehensive given her connection to the beach, she allows Gabe to take the family anyway, where they meet up with their friends, Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh Tyler (Tim Heidecker) – and their teenage twin daughters. Gabe is eager to impress the couple, who are rich AF but clearly despise one another.

All is well until Jason disappears for a moment – and Ade panics. While temporarily missing, Jason sees a man in a red jumpsuit with blood dripping off his hands. He chooses not to tell the others, given Ade’s current mood.

ABBA had started to do PAs in people’s homes

Later, back at the holiday home, the family are stalked by a family in their drive way. It is here that things become frigging sinister and I don’t want to give the game away. I can say that the ‘visitors’ are the Untethered (as well as doppelgängers of the entire family) and they do not come in peace.

What follows is a story of fairy tale proportions, of parallel worlds and of mystery. Adelaide and family must fight to protect each other at all costs – and in the process Ade must face up to the trauma of her childhood, which is finally starting to make sense.

Cutting crew

This film is stunning with incredible double performances by a solid cast. Lupita in particular is mesmerising as Adelaide and her doppelgänger Red. Support in the form of Moss is also satisfying – while Duke brings a welcome comic relief. The kids are outstanding – the bickering siblings really come into their own when they’re required to fight their own doubles – and I love their scenes.

The imagery, the music, the story – in the hands of the mighty Jordan Peele it just works brilliantly. On second viewing I noticed far more foreshadowing and clues to what is going on, and I genuinely love this movie. It’s frightening and beautiful in equal measure with an insane final sequence between Adelaide and Red. The dance/fight choreography is pure perfection.

Art Attack’s new presenter was proving really popular

I cannot wait to see what Peele does next. And with new Twilight Zone episodes and a writing credit for the 2020 Candyman remake, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long.

⭐⭐⭐⭐  out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?