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?

Advertisements

American Animals

American Animals (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

*Minor spoilers*

I feel like I had to work extra hard to catch this movie in the theater (by going to another one). The Odeon showed it for what felt like ten minutes before pulling it due to lack of interest so I had to seek it out. It was worth it.

Based on the true story of four acquaintances who attempt to pull off an extraordinary heist based on a load of crime caper movies they’ve watched as homework, it’s a really interesting ride. Spliced with interviews with all the real life ‘characters’, including all four robbers, it builds up to the day of the robbery from its moment of conception.

The fictional Spencer (Barry Keoghan) works in a supermarket and is dissatisfied with his lot in life. Waiting for something to come along and render his existence special somehow, an idea is born the day he visits Transylvania University and sets his sights on John James Audubon’s The Birds of America as well as a collection of other rare books (including Darwin’s The Origin of Species).

The first edition of Katie Price’s Being Jordan sure was a rare and priceless gem

Initially just intrigued that such rare artifacts could fetch such a pretty penny, Barry mentions it to his best friend Warren (Evan Peters) who takes a grain of an idea and runs with it. Warren himself is a wild card and you could argue is the main instigator of the plan, though he might deny it (and more or less does on camera via the real Warren Lipka).

The boys find themselves involved in a world they’ve never experienced before, taking meetings with fences and buyers (when Warren travels to Amsterdam), doing their research (all manner of heist movies, including Reservoir Dogs) and generally focusing all their attentions on their mission to steal the priceless books and sell them on.

When they realise they’ll need more help, they enlist the assistance of Eric (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas (Blake Jenner) though both are kind of reluctant participants, particularly when it comes to any sort of violence, a dash of which they’ll need to deal with the one person standing in the way of their prize – librarian Betty Jean ‘BJ’ Gooch (Ann Dowd).

Can they pull it off or are they doomed from the start? As the story gains momentum, the relationship these men share are tested to the max and they are forced to deal with their own individual feelings of guilt, failure and regret.

Take That were trying a new look for their long awaited reunion

I bloody loved American Animals. I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t Evan Peters that initially pulled me in but I also love a good heist movie. Especially one based on a true story and one that examines four normal real life characters and their motivations. The whole concept of wanting that one incredible thing to happen is very relatable and the fact that we get to see interviews with their families reminds us of the consequences of their actions.

Barry Keoghan is amazing as Spencer and he sold his character to me the most. I really enjoy him as an actor, having really been creeped out by his role in The Killing of a Sacred Deer so I’m quite interested to see more of him.

Hereditary‘s Ann Dowd is great as always, though we don’t see nearly enough of her. During the will-they-won’t-they heist scene, she is heartbreaking in her vulnerability and it left me feeling genuinely uncomfortable. I definitely recommend this film which is subtly stylised in its look but also holds up as a dark and genuinely tense crime caper.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Searching

Searching (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

*Minor spoilers*

This morning I learnt that there’s a name for films using this all-on-the-screen format and it’s “Screen life”. So not only is this an interesting film, it’s also been highly educational. Kinda.

Anywho, Searching is a very tense thriller in which David Kim (the gorgeous John Cho) fights tooth and nail to find his daughter Margot (Michelle La), who has mysteriously disappeared. As he picks at the threads of her life, he realises he barely knows her at all – which doesn’t help when he’s expected to unravel the truth about what happened to her.

With the help of determined Detective Vick (Debra Messing), David delves deeper into Margot’s social media account, messages and emails to paint a picture of where his daughter might be – and who she really is.

I really enjoyed this though I will admit to getting an inkling of the truth half way through. That said it makes you doubt every character you come into contact with, even David himself. And while it centers around Margot’s disappearance it also sets up their relationship really well. The beginning is genuinely touching and gave me the feels not ten minutes in.

I’m trying very hard not to hone in on any of the details for a reason but this was impressive and the screen life format kept my interest throughout, much as it does in Unfriended. I think it might get tired quicker than found footage but here it successfully builds up suspense – and makes you want to upgrade your five-year-old acer laptop for something quicker and shinier (just me?).

My Rating

4/5.

The Equalizer 2

The Equalizer 2 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?

*Minor spoilers*

McCall (Denzel Washington) is what my brother once called me: a groupie for the underdog. Not that he goes around sleeping with them you understand, it’s more that he has a very specific recipe for vengeance on behalf of those who have been wronged and might not be in a position to dish it out themselves. Among his assignments are a trip to Istanbul to recover a kidnapped child and a little light rape revenge.

Fans of the first Equalizer film (2014) probably remember it better than I do but this follows a similar pattern. Where back in ’14 McCall was just starting his new ‘quiet’ life, he is now quite settled in a nice block with good neighbours and a community that knows his face. He is well-loved and just ticking along doing his thing when things get real quick and this time, it’s fucking personal.

image2
“Whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty good man…”

This sequel focuses also on Melissa Leo‘s Susan Plummer, long-time friend of McCall’s and all round boss bitch. When she uncovers too much about a certain crime and something nasty happens, it’s up to our boy Robert McCall to put two and two together and fight for his friend – will he? Of course he bloody will.

Meanwhile closer to home, will McCall also keep his pal and neighbour Miles (Ashton Sanders) on the straight and narrow? I’ll always be here for action, the more elaborate the better so I don’t mind when McCall puts down the bad guys without breaking a sweat, he’s a hero after all – but sometimes it does get a little bit laughable. Like, Denzel babe you’re in your sixties, have a little break.

However, the final action segment shot by the beach during a raging storm really conjures up an atmosphere and I think that’s the element that lifted this film from simply okay to very good.

5b4fb5605cdcb.image
“I’m sorry you lost that fight with The Mountain buddy…”

This was, like Mission: Impossible – Fall Out, a well crafted caper and I enjoyed myself. Denzel is always top-notch, even in films I really don’t care for (Fences) so no shocker there – but his support in the form of Leo, Sanders and The Prince of Dorne himself, Pedro Pascal is pretty excellent too.

Roll on Part 3.

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.