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?

The Happytime Murders

The Happytime Murders (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

When the puppet cast of a ’90s children’s TV show begin to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet takes on the case.

*Minor spoilers*

If I’m perfectly honest the real star of this movie is Bubbles’ (Maya Rudolph) wardrobe. Sis can really dress. The rest of it is… not brilliant. The jokes don’t often land, it’s gross for the sake of being gross and shocking – and it just doesn’t have the heart it thinks it does. That said, I didn’t hate it and I get what they were trying for.

Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) is a disgraced LAPD officer turned private dick. Living in a puppet/human where puppets are washed up and mostly disregarded by society, he’s doing what he can to stay afloat. When a series of murders are committed on puppets, it soon becomes clear that there’s something fishy going on.

Phil himself is present at the first hit where he has the misfortune of bumping into his ex-partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy). This brings up lots of old memories about the fateful day that ended his career – and ultimately their partnership. But there’s a murderer at large who seems to be knocking off a very specific list of puppets, including Phil’s actor brother – can our frenemies work together once more to get to the bottom of the case?


Meanwhile, Phil has an even more personal investment in the case because of his former lover Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), the only human on the list of potential victims. Will he be able to protect her?

There are some scenarios that I didn’t hate and some jokes did make me laugh but they aren’t consistent and if I’m honest, it’s mostly forgettable. McCarthy is always my favourite in everything but this doesn’t showcase her talent too well. I feel a little bit torn by all the sex jokes, like they don’t work here but could they have if the rating had been higher and Director Brian Henson (Jim Henson‘s son) had gone all out? Here they feel out-of-place and clunky – and cheap.

I was a fan of Rudolph’s Bubbles though and it wasn’t quite as bad as all the reviews would have me believe. Which really isn’t saying much.

My Rating

2.5/5.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Audrey and Morgan are best friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when one of the women discovers the boyfriend who dumped her was actually a spy.

*Minor spoilers*

I loved this stupid film. I’m in love with Mila Kunis, sue me. Pair her with Kate McKinnon and as far as I’m concerned you’re onto a winner. It’s a very silly romp sure but a very good, girl power one.

When Audrey gets dumped over text by her elusive boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux), her BFF Morgan is on hand to help her through it. After attempting to burn his stuff, he gets in touch and tells her he’ll be home soon to explain everything. Unfortunately, before this happens she is accosted by the feds who reveal his true identity.

Audrey is shocked to learn that her boyfriend is actually a spy. Well, I’ve been out with much worse tbf. When Drew finally makes contact again, he gives her instruction to travel to Europe with a secret package which Morgan encourages her do because why not? Neither of them have ever been. And the rest is a blur of spy activity which the girls quickly discover they’re actually pretty good at.

But who are the good guys, who are the bad guys – and who the hell is Drew really? Via a backdrop of glamorous European locations and elaborate disguises, our girls get to the bottom of just what the fuck is going down – which they find is easier said than done.

Hot on their heels is nimble super assassin Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno) and the feds themselves, led by their boss Wendy (Gillian Anderson). There might be a new love interest in the mix too in the form of pretty Sebastian (Sam Heughan), one of the agents on Drew’s case.

Well it’s a romp alright and I laughed my arse off. McKinnon is always good but sometimes suffers for the material she’s given while Kunis has tremendous comic timing. Together I totally bought their chemistry as best friends – and I found it refreshing that there’s no side story in which the two of them fall out. Their friendship remains intact to the end.

I hope they turn this into a franchise because I haven’t had this much fun with female spies since well, Spy. But also Charlie’s Angels.

My Rating

4.5/5.

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.

The Festival

The Festival (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

After Nick’s girlfriend dumps him, his best mate Shane has the perfect antidote to his break-up blues: three days at an epic music festival.

*Minor spoilers*

When Nick (Joe Thomas) gets dumped at graduation by his university girlfriend Caitlin (Hannah Tointon), he’s devastated. Luckily for him though, a good friend will never let you stay down for long – and Nick has Shane (the amazing Hammed Animashaun).

Shane insists that the pair head to the festival they both have tickets for, even if Caitlin and her posh friends will be there. He’s all about helping his friend over his heartbreak but he also has his own agenda – to see and hopefully meet his hero, DJ Hammerhead.

But things are never as easy as you want them to be and after meeting festival veteran Amy (Claudia O’Doherty) on the train, the trio are forced to make the rest of their journey by foot. Much to Nick’s disdain, Amy is a talker.

The festival poses its own set of challenges, not lease avoiding Nick’s ex and her new love interest. But you don’t think everything’s going to according to plan do ya? What follows is a raucous comedy of errors that lead our new friends on an adventure of a lifetime. Or at least a Summertime.

The Festival won’t change the world but it’s not the worst way to spend a couple of hours. It’s pretty standard Inbetweeners-style fare, maybe not as funny but it does have stand-outs in O’Doherty and Animashaun. Also a cameo from Jemaine Clement as Shane’s over-the-top step father, which doesn’t hurt.

As expected it’s quite fixated on bodily-fluids, awkward sex and bestiality so not the most sophisticated of feature films but I’m guessing nobody has bought a ticket expecting anything more (or less).

This isn’t my most detailed review of all time but there’s not really that much more to say. Will Shane get to meet his hero? With Nick get over his ex and by extension himself? If you can be bothered, you’ll see how it all turns out for yourself.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Oh YEAH.

A female-ccentric heist movie with all the glamorous trimmings and then some, this movie is a blast from start to finish. And while I was always living for the cast and the fact boys were pissed off about yet another all female-remake, I’m happy that it’s also genuinely a good movie.

Obviously I can’t pick a favourite from the cast because that would be impossible but I can say that each of Debbie Ocean’s crew get enough screen time to make you love them and that is no mean feat. Where Ocean’s 11 and it’s sequels were slick and enjoyable, Ocean’s 8 dials it down a little bit and just focuses on the fabulousness.

oceans-8-cast-women

It is a lot of fun and is stunning to look at with a wardrobe across the board to die for. The chemistry too makes it even better, though some (male) film critics have criticised the lack of it. I do not see their point at all.

The plot is not too taxing and while some of it is a little far-fetched, I don’t think any of us are here for that anyway, so who cares? What we care about is fit women getting one up on ex-boyfriends, ride or die friendship and the fulfillment of destiny, even if that destiny is just to be a really, really good criminal.

I’m in love with all eight women and I’d watch this movie again and again, if only to study the way Cate Blanchett wears her fringe because it is sublime. I also really enjoyed seeing Anne Hathaway in a sassier role, she’s a very sexy lady.

Damn, it every single one of them is hotter than Hell.

Anne-Hathaway-Oceans-8

My Rating

4.5/5.

Book Club

Book Club (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Four lifelong friends have their lives forever changed after reading 50 Shades of Grey in their monthly book club.

I’m a sucker for a silver surfer movie and have reviewed a couple already for this blog. If Keaton/Dench/Mirren is in it, take my money and my time, and let me into their world, stat.

Book Club is a more glamorous take on women of a certain age, centered around four golden oldies with varying issues in their personal lives.

Diane (Diane Keaton) is a recent(ish) widow whose children are desperate to move her closer to them, even though she’s perfectly cool doing her own thing. Vivian (Jane Fonda) is the hottest mama in town, enjoying liaisons as and when she fancies without any emotional connection – and that’s perfectly fine, right? 

Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a Supreme Court Judge whose husband has left her for a younger model. And Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is happily married but not enjoying a pro-longed dry spell in the bedroom.

book_club_candice_bergen_mary_steenburgen_jane_fonda_courtes

When our Fantastic Four come together at their regular book club they’re able to come clean to each other about these issues. But when Vivian introduces everybody to Christian Grey, something ignites and each begins a new journey of her own.

Well, there’s a lot to like here. Innuendo is a go-go while the performances are great as expected from such Hollywood royalty. It might be hard at times to relate to the glossiness of their lives – so much luxury! – but it’s also escapism and the fantasy of imaging myself as Diane Keaton when I grow up is no bad thing.

It’s so important to be seeing older women on the big screen too – and while the plot does revolve around their interactions with men – and is very rich and white – I take away that this is an ode of sexuality and owning that.

Support from silver foxes Andy Garcia and Don Johnson is fun too and I’m here for it all.

My Rating

3.5/5.