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.

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.

Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.

*Minor spoilers*

After the Incredibles battle and defeat The Underminer, but also tear up most of Metroville and especially City Hall, the Government shuts down the Superhero Relocation Program. Supers are no longer the heroes they once were and now our family are faced with financial crisis.

In the nick of time, superhero fan Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) pops up with a plan to regain the public’s trust in supers once again. As owner of telecommunications corporation DevTech and brother of DevTech genius inventor Evelyn (Catherine Keener), he has the power to make things happen. First part of the plan, get Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) back in the field. Semi-secretly.

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Left at home holding the baby, Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) struggles with his feelings of emasculation but really I don’t care about that. He’s kind of a dick about it all. He does finally realise that there’s something special about Jack Jack though and that is one of the films strongest strands. I’m not usually a sucker for babies but JJ is cooler than your average.

Of course, nothing ever runs smoothly and there’s some back stabbing to be had, while Elastigirl must get to grips with Screenslaver, a villain who projects hypnotic images using television screens (looks better than it sounds). But when Screenslaver is revealed, he isn’t quite what Elastigirl had expected and a thicker plot is revealed.

Will our heroine be able to handle the true villain at the heart of this plot – or will she require a little help from her family? Well, what the hell do you think?

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Support is at hand in the form of family BFF Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), while Edna Mode (Brad Bird) returns to steal the show with a couple of choice scenes.

We’ve waited 14 years for this sequel from the Pixar studio and it’s good, don’t worry. It’s just not the best and that’s down to personal preference, I’m much more of a Monsters, Inc kinda gal. If you’re an Incredibles Stan then I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

My Rating

3.5/5.

 

Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy with supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling cyborg, Cable.

I went into DP2 with the worry that it would be too smug for its own good and therefore, would get on my nerves. It is smug but it also throws in a few surprises and manages to be poignant in places too. It’s also hilarious with so many machine-gun fire jokes that it would be impossible to catch them all in your first sitting.

This sequel introduces several new characters who look set to stick around in future films (hopefully), including time-travelling super soldier Cable (fit AF Josh Brolin), seriously misunderstood orphan Firefist (Julian Dennison) and the lovely Domino (Zazie Beetz), the latter of whom is a member of X Force, Deadpool’s very own X Men tribute band. 

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Up against the wrath of Cable who is after Firefist for future crimes (phew), Deadpool must protect the damaged boy, who is on his own mission of vengeance. All the while coming to terms with his own losses in life.

It’s a rip-roaring adventure and the X Force recruitment/first mission segment is perfection. Special shout out to Rob Delaney‘s every man Peter, who pretty much steals the entire gig. 

My Rating

4/5.

 

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.

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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.

 

 

Life of the Party

Life of the Party (2018)

Directed by: Ben Falcone
Starring: Debby RyanMelissa McCarthyGillian JacobsLuke Benward

IMDB Synopsis

After her husband abruptly asks for a divorce, a middle-aged mother returns to college in order to complete her degree.

Where: Odeon, Brighton
When: Friday 11th May
Who with: Alone
Snacks: I can’t remember

*Beware spoilers*

Melissa McCarthy is the best human on the planet, isn’t she? I’m quite sure I’m right about that. Even when she stars in films that aren’t the best films, she is always the best thing in those films – and as for the things she has coming up later this year, colour me freakin’ excited.

LotP is really fun and exactly what you’d expect. When Deanna (McCarthy) is unceremoniously dumped by her fuckhead husband for another woman, she is initially devastated. Having given up her dream of college to start a family, it’s no wonder her thoughts eventually turn to what she still needs to do in her life.

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It soon becomes clear to Deanna that she’s destined to return to university to complete the archaeology course she set aside when she got pregnant with Maddy (Molly Gordon). Maddy now attends the same college and is half-thrilled/half-freaked out by the arrival of her mum on campus but once she’s calmed down, it becomes a really great thing. Especially after a small make-over. 

Deanna’s belated rite of passage leads her through a series of adventures, including sex in the library with a hottie, taking on the campus Mean Girls in a dance off, making friends with her agoraphobic goth roommate and getting off her tits with her daughter’s friends – all of which are truly delightful to witness.

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But as will all films of this nature, there has to be a lesson learnt here – and Deanna must remember what this is all for in the first place. Will she? Course she fucking will!

Obviously this has a dynamite cast, not only Queen McCarthy but also ace support from Modern Family’s Julie Bowen, the most gorgeous woman on the planet Gillian JacobsMaya Rudolph and Chris Parnell. Even Christina Aguilera makes an appearance and it’s epic. I would also say special shout-outs to super bitchy Jennifer (Debby Ryan) and Heidi Gardner as Deanna’s weird roommate – both bring their A-game to their small but memorable roles. 

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This is the ultimate Sunday afternoon feel-good movie – which doesn’t end the way you might think or want it to (Chris Parnell’s cute professor is surely destined to cop off with his favourite student) and that’s a good thing. This is about second chances and friendship and I’m very much here for all of it.

Melissa, I bloody love you!

My Rating

4/5.

Tully

Tully (2018)

Directed by: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize TheronMackenzie DavisRon Livingston

IMDB Synopsis

A mother of three hires a night nanny to help with her newborn.

Where: Duke’s @ Komedia
When: Monday 7th May
Who with: Alone
Snacks: Cawston Press Rhubarb, homemade fish finger sandwich from home

*Beware spoilers*

*Like, seriously – be careful*

*Don’t say you haven’t been warned!*

My Review

Ah, Tully. It’s been a couple of weeks since I saw this and it’s followed me around quite a bit. I already knew I’d enjoy the movie given the premise and the cast but the ‘twist’ just adds another layer of thoughtfulness, and in my opinion elevates it from a nice film to a very good one.

The titular Tully (Davis) is a night nanny, hired by Marlo’s (Theron) brother Craig (Mark Duplass) as a gift to help her out. Marlo has a new-born and two young children including Jonah, a child with extra special needs. While Marlo isn’t a single mother, her husband Drew (Livingston) does work away from home a lot and could perhaps lift his finger a bit more regularly to help her out. 

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Reluctant at first to accept this outside assistance, Marlo eventually enlists Tully’s help with the night shifts. Which proves to be a genius move because not only does the nanny come with a broad knowledge of what the baby needs, she can also intuit what Marlo requires and slowly but surely Marlo claws her way back to the mother she wants to be.

The women form a solid bond and this doesn’t hurt Marlo at all – but when Tully announces that she has to leave, Marlo is panicked and feels abandoned by her new friend. Will her world implode without Tully’s support or does Marlo have everything she needs within her already?

The central performances are glorious and relatable (even as a non-mum). The pressure to be anything as a woman (a good mum/a career girl/good wife/young/beautiful/well-behaved) is so exhausting and also impossible to achieve. No one person can be all these things and even if they were, they’d feel they were failing in some way.

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Marlo can only look back and focus on all the things she hasn’t achieved, the friends she left behind when she left the city to start her family – and who doesn’t think that way? When Tully points out that she’s already made her own dreams come true Marlo is shocked and unbelieving, even thought it’s the truth.

Honestly, I’m very happy that Mackenzie Davis is growing such a strong profile, she’s never let me down and is also part of the most amazing slice of popular culture this decade (San Junipero). So I’m looking forward to seeing her in loads more films. Here she has to share her scenes with Charlize Theron and she’s just as magnetic and beautiful. The chemistry between the two is so believable and pure, I almost resent the scenes that focus away from their friendship.

Ultimately, Tully is about making peace with the past and asking for help. It’s beautiful and sad and deeply relatable and I really loved it.

My Rating

4/5.

 

I Feel Pretty

I Feel Pretty (2018)

Directed by: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Starring: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Emily Ratajkowski

IMDB Synopsis

A woman struggling with insecurity wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. Her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly, but what happens when she realizes her appearance never changed?

Where: Odeon Brighton
When: Sunday 6th May
Who with: Darren
Snacks: Strawberry laces, cloudy apple juice

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Yes it is stupid that Amy Schumer’s Renee is treated like the ultimate dog when she’s pretty much everything the beauty ideal celebrates: white, thin, able-bodied, feminine, cis gender. Think about it like this: if Renee is made to feel this way for being just a teensy bit untoned and not as beautiful as an actual supermodel, how the fuck must the rest of us feel?

It is problematic, make no mistake. That said I still wanted to see it for myself and see what I would take from it. I didn’t hate my experience and although I’m not defending the main points – she’s not fucking fat or ugly – I did have a bit of fun.

Renee works in IT for a glossy beauty brand and has low self-esteem (not helped by being locked away in a stinky office in China Town, as far away from Fifth Avenue as possible). Like most women, so far so relateable (the first bit). She unfavorably compares herself to all other women (check) and carries herself like she should be ashamed of taking up any space at all (check again). After she hits her head during a Soulcycle spin class, she gains consciousness and believes she’s been magically transformed into a true beauty. Finally. (There’s a quite brilliant Big homage a few scenes before that I loved).

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This leads Renee on a journey to her dream job and her dream relationship because she’s suddenly gained all the confidence and currency you’d imagine conventional stunning beauty would bring.

Yes, there are some fun bits as Renee enjoys her newfound looks. Her over-confidence is amusing, her best friends’ (Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps) bemusement and then annoyance at her conceitedness are both funny and sad. Her new romance with Ethan (Rory Scovel) is cute – and the scenes with baby-voiced Avery (Williams) were among some of the best. Also, is one of Naomi Campbell‘s parents a cat? She’s looks like an actual sphinx.

The film is really trying to make a strong and valid comment but it falls flat when you consider the above points – and the rhetoric gets a little confused at times. Had Renee been played by an actual fat actress, she never would have been afforded the same opportunities as Amy Schumer would. I want to see that film, please – I want to overcome, or at least challenge, all the bullshit of the beauty myth with someone who falls far short of it.

I don’t think I’ve expressed myself in the best way – there are many fat positive bloggers that have done a better and more eloquent job that I – but I do think it’s important not to just gloss over the issues at play.

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So, if you take this as a fun piece of fluff, then yes, it’s alright. Schumer didn’t make me want to gouge out my own eyes and yes, I sympathised with her feelings of inadequacy. I hear them – but the makers could have taken this premise and gone all the way. I’d be here for that.

My Rating

3/5.

Funny Cow

Funny Cow (2018)

Directed by: Adrian Shergold
Starring: Maxine Peake, Stephen Graham, Paddy Considine, Diane Morgan, Lindsey Coulson

IMDB Synopsis

A comedian uses her troubled past as material for her stand-up routine, trying to rise up through the comedy circuit by playing Northern England’s working men’s clubs.

Where: Duke’s @ Komedia
When: Tuesday 24th April, directly after Beast
Snacks: Homemade Victoria sponge cake, Cawston Press Rhubarb

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Funny Cow isn’t really the comedy you’d expect. Shot through with tragedy and pain, it’s more a clawing to the top of the comedy game by way of a lifetime of disappointment, violence and regret.

Maxine Peake (one of the UK’s greatest treasures) plays the titular Funny Cow, a working class Northern lass dragged up with her brother by a troubled single mother following the passing of her violent father.

Her mother, in ‘present day’ is played by Eastender’s Carol Jackson (Coulson) which frankly feels like genius casting and the role of Funny Cow’s Mum is a poignant one. She’s all at once deeply frustrating and utterly vulnerable – you want to slap and protect her at the same time. And her scenes with Funny Cow are among the best.

As Funny Cow grows up and leaves home to starting building a nest of her own with her future husband, the years pass by in a flash and things are never quite as grand as she’d hoped. Trapped in a violent relationship that echoes that of her parents’, Funny has ideas above her station but little outlet to realise them. Not if her imposing husband Bob (Tony Pitts) has anything to do with it, either.

The years flutter by and Funny suffers punch after slap after kick at the hands of her so-called partner. One day she catches Lenny’s (Alun Armstrong) stand up routine at the local club and this drives her forward on her quest to perform comedy.

Lenny himself is an unlikely mentor, an old-skool blue comedian who tells Funny she’s better off removing her clothing than trying to be funny, because well, women aren’t. This somehow doesn’t put Funny off and the two develop an odd-companionship.

At one point Funny makes it to a talent contest under threat of a broken nose but when faced with an open mic and opportunity, she sadly freezes up. This doesn’t make the ensuing violence at Bob’s hand worth it but does finally give her the push she needs to leave him.

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Pretentious book seller Angus (Considine) is on hand to rescue this damsel in distress and things are better for a while, Funny moves into his grand home and they share a life free of violence and distress. But his apparent need to My Fair Lady her becomes unappealing and Funny finally goes out on her own, free from men and ready to embark on the career she wants.

I really loved this because of the central performances. Paddy Considine never lets me down and Peake is such a talented, nuanced actress. While Funny Cow leads a hard life, she never once presents as a victim. She’s a bit of a shit-stirrer actually, even from childhood and you get a sense at times that she’s trying to see the funny side of all of that turmoil, even enjoying it. There’s a scene where she visits her brother and his family, and simply relishes winding up his wife.

All of Funny Cow’s comedy stems from her own experiences (I guess as with most comedians) and while this film is unlikely to have you laughing out loud, it will cut straight to your heart-strings.

The violence is hard to stomach and some of the jokes told on the circuit come straight from the Bernard Manning school of comedy, so are offensive af and not funny at all but I found the conclusion really heart-warming as Funny Cow is able to offer closure to her mother and find a slice of peace for herself.

I liked.

My Rating

3.5/5.