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.

Bohemian Rhapsody

I avoided this for a few weeks before finally relenting and I enjoyed myself. Rami Malek nails Freddie so convincingly that it is ridiculous. Honestly, I knew he was good but this guy needs to take home Oscar in the Spring or there is no justice in the world.

There are a few things wrong with this biopic and it’s exaggerated in places I’m sure but it’s also moving, triumphant and seriously satisfying. The music is ace (as you’d expect) and did I mention the central performance is pretty decent?

My Rating

4/5. Don’t think I didn’t go home and listen to the entire Queen back catalog. 

~

What have you been watching?

Venom

The Movie

Venom (2018)

The Director

Ruben Fleischer

The Cast

Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate

IMDB Synopsis

When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life.

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My Thoughts

I say this quite a lot but I went into this with absolutely no expectation, except that Tom Hardy would be fit. I left pleasantly satisfied and that’s because he is perfectly cast as the slightly loser-ish Eddie Brock. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, basically.

Is it anywhere are groomed as Infinity War or Black Panther? Of course not – but there’s a place for it and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Mr Hardy is a dream, an actor that sometimes makes you ponder whether he’s that technically talented – but it hardly matters, he has something a lot of other leading men don’t have and that’s the special something. And obviously I would climb him like a tree.

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Hey babe

Riz Ahmed is also very good as evil Carlton Drake, a slick criminal mastermind who slowly but surely transforms into Venom’s ultra strong arch enemy, Riot. In the beginning, I had some reservations about Michelle Williams as Eddie Brock’s love interest Anne, who starts off pretty simpering. Luckily for everyone concerned, she claws it back and is actually great in the end, a heroine not afraid to get her hands dirty in a bid to make sure Eddie’s okay, even though he gets her sacked.

Support from Slate (whose character, Doctor Dora Skirth deserved better) and Reid Scott as Anne’s new boyfriend Dan is also good – but the supporting star has to be the lovely Mrs Chen (Peggy Lu).

The CGI can be a bit much to keep up with at times because there is so much going on and I don’t really know about all the symbiote science but ultimately I’m not mad at Venom at all.

My Rating

3.5/5.

A Star is Born

The Movie

A Star is Born (2018)

The Director

Bradley Cooper

The Cast

Lady GagaBradley CooperSam ElliottAnthony Ramos

IMDB Synopsis

A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

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My Thoughts

UGH. This movie, I loved it so much. Don’t even get me started on the climactic scene – it nearly destroyed me.

Charting the rise of singer Ally’s (Gaga) success following a chance meeting with seasoned rock/country legend Jack (Cooper), the fourth version of A Star is Born is gorgeous with a heavenly soundtrack.

If you’re wondering how Gaga could possibly keep her end up in place of the Garlands and Streisands of this world, just fucking watch her. She’s mesmerising at the best of times but in this role she is next level. If Oscar doesn’t come knocking in the Spring, then there is no God. Or there is but he’s a man with no taste.

I think if you aren’t familiar with the story, you might still have an inkling of how this might play out but the ending is very sad and the heartbreak is palpable. It’s one of those story lines you wish you could change for the better, even as you watch it veer dramatically off course.

I don’t want to give anything else away but I will say this is one of my favourite movies of this year so far and I can’t stop thinking about some of the songs. They’re outrageously good.

Oh, and the surprise appearance of Shangela and Willam was fun. God, I want to watch it over and over again.

My Rating

4.5/5.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The Movie

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

The Director

Eli Roth

The Cast

Jack BlackCate BlanchettOwen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan

IMDB Synopsis

A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.

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My Thoughts

I’ve a little bit of weakness for YA horror/fantasy, I can’t help myself. I think it might be because these are the kind of films that made me fall in long-term love with horror. I also have a little thing for JB and therefore this was a no-brainer. I enjoyed this ride, despite being the oldest member of the audience not accompanied by a child.

As Lewis gets to grips with his new life, living with his eccentric uncle Jonathan Barnavelt (Black) and occasionally, just as kooky next-door neighbour Florence Zimmerman (Blanchett), he learns that there is more to life than meets the eye – magic things – and there’s nothing more magical (and also sinister) as a house with a hidden clock buried in its walls.

While the family search for this torturous contraption, concealed somewhere deep in the core of the building, Jonathan’s arch nemesis Isaac Izard (Maclachlan) plans his comeback, with a little help from his beloved wife, Selena (Renée Elise Goldsberry). And Lewis must also navigate possibly the hardest landscape of all – middle school.

Honestly, this is a beautiful looking film with wholehearted performances from everyone. Cate is utterly breath-taking as the damaged (but determined) Florence. I feel like she should never veer from her purple colour palette ever again, it’s such a good look for her.

The effects are good and it’s above all fun to experience. There’s a really wonderful scene set in the ornate back garden that is stunning – and a head to head between our heroic trio and a bunch of haunted pumpkins. What’s not to love?

My Rating

3.5/5.

The Wife

The Movie

The Wife (2017)

The Director

Björn Runge

The Cast

Christian SlaterGlenn Close, Jonathan Pryce

IMDB Synopsis

A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

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My Thoughts

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 that 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.

King of Thieves

The Movie

King of Thieves (2018)

The Director

James Marsh

The Cast

Charlie CoxMichael CaineMichael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Paul Whitehouse

IMDB Synopsis

A true crime film about a crew of retired crooks who pull off a major heist in London’s jewelry district. What starts off as their last criminal hurrah quickly turns into a brutal nightmare due to greed. Based on infamous true events.

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My Thoughts

With a cast like this, you can always rest assured that you’ll get a good quality movie. Caine and pals very seldom let us down and the old boys’ network is alive and well, thankfully.

This movie is fun, sad in places, dramatic in others – and it’s also kind of heart-warming to remember it’s based on a true crime. Seems Octogenarians shouldn’t be underestimated after all.

The quality of this set up could just as easily go against it though because it’s not quite as memorable as it should be. I haven’t thought about it since the credits rolled and I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t gel with it the way my husband did.

It’s very male-orientated and maybe that’s why I find it slightly mediocre – or perhaps it just isn’t my cup of tea. You can’t win ’em all.

My Rating

3/5.

 

 

Apologies

I am very, very behind in the film reviewing stakes and for that I am sorry.

I currently have ten on my To Do list and in order to catch up, I’m going to have to keep it short and sweet on the movies I liked least. Why bother with too many words when they don’t fit the experience, right?

Forgive me for being behind the curve, I’ll get back to normal soon.

Oh yeah, what have you been watching?