January 2018 - Films
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Best for December: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. 2017
Special mention for This Beautiful Fantastic. 2016
Worst for December: 24 Hours to Live. 2017
Best for December: The Accountant & The Christmas Story Lady
Always A Favorite: Christmas Vacation
Worst for December: Absolutely Anything It was just my lowest raked one with a 3/5.
Best for December: Boss Baby
Special Mention: This Beautiful Fantastic
Worst for December: Lucky 2011
The Nile Hilton Incident. 2017. Arabic crime drama. There are films that make me want to take a shower after viewing and those that make me grateful that I live where I do. This was both. Set in Egypt in 2011, a time of civil unrest because of police corruption, we meet Noredin Mustafa (Fares Fares) and his underling driving round collecting graft and abusing the populace. They are called to a high class hotel where a beautiful "singer" has been murdered. While Noredin is stealing her cash, the young copper is ogling her naked breasts. It becomes obvious that an important person is involved and everyone starts jostling with the hope of making a lot of dirty money. I wished I had known more about the political situation going in, but I enjoyed it. 6/10
Lucky. 2017. Drama. Harry Dean Stanton plays a 90 year man contemplating life and death. It's Harry Dean Stanton being Harry. Also starring David Lynch as a man who has lost his beloved tortoise. R.I.P Harry. You'll be sorely missed. 7/10
Boss Baby. 2017. Animated. I had swerved this, but Julie said! There were moments when my lips curved up rather than down, but those baby eyes were so huge they gave me the willies. Horses for courses! 5/10
The Big Sick. 2017. Comedy (autobiography?). Pakistan born comedian, Kumail Nanjiani plays himself in this clash of cultures tale. Kumail, a stand-up comic/Uber driver doesn't disavow his mother's intention that he marry a "nice, Muslim, Pakistani girl". Every time he goes for dinner a new prospective wife "just drops in as she was passing". He is seeing Emily, a blond trainee therapist, but he is unable to commit to her, for fear of being excluded from his own family. She falls dangerously ill with a mystery infection and he spends a lot of time at the hospital battling her hostile parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano). An enjoyable film with some good lines and a lot of warmth. 7/10
I did not think I would like this but I did. A little slow in places but really liked this odd ball story about a couple who is having affairs with other people and the couple finally decides to end it but something happens that no one expects.
Talk about odd films- a man coming home after the train he was riding on broke down which forced him to walk home. Instead of going home he decides to camp out in his garage and watch his wife's reaction to him not coming home for the night. He keeps it up for a few days and then has no excuse for being late till it is too late to go home -or is it??? I love the ending.
My Cousin Rachel
What a beautifully filmed version of the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier. This is the suspenseful story of a cousin who plots revenge on his cousin for killing his guardian or did she?
>10 JulieLill: I tried Wakefield, but didn't get far. Are there any films with just one actor that have been good? I'm thinking of Locke (Tom Hardy) and Her (Joaquin Phoenix). Both excellent actors, but I struggled with these films.
England is Mine. 2017. Biopic. I'm a fan of The Smiths. Anyone who can write a song called "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" is going to be a big hit with me, but this was like a trip to the dentist. Steven Morrissey was a boy who lived in his bedroom. It sported pictures of Oscar Wilde on the walls, and I suspect 'I have nothing to declare but my genius' was something Morrissey wishes he had come up with first. He's awkward and anti-social and his first gig resulted in the band's guitarist being signed by an agent and poor Steven wasn't (boo hoo). He took to his bed and pondered the cruelties of life, until Johnny Marr rescued him. What a moaning Minnie! I was hoping for a Smiths soundtrack, but didn't get it. There were a couple of occasions when the actor pulled off the Morrissey look, but generally, very dull! 3/10
>11 .cris: It did drag but I loved the ending and the wondering what happens next to his family.
This film stars the older brother, of the Hemsworth family, Liam and had a all-star cast but that was the only highlight of the film. There was a lot of over acting in this film and there is something off about the coloring of the film. Can't recommend it!
The Perfect Family
Kathleen Turner, who I haven't seen in years, stars as a woman who is up for Catholic Woman of the Year except she finds out that her daughter is pregnant and her new partner is a woman. She also finds out her son is getting a divorce and she goes to extremes to hide those facts because of the award competition. Most people will hate this film because the plot is so corny but despite that I did enjoy it and it had some funny and sweet moments. Richard Chamberlain had a small role but he too has not been active in film. If someone told me he was dead - I wouldn't have been surprised.
The Shape of Water. 2017. Fantasy. Think "Creature of the Black Lagoon" with genitals. Mute Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works the night shift, cleaning a research facility with her best friend, the very garrulous Zelda (Octavia Spencer). A new specimen is bought in from S. America by Mr Strickland (Michael Shannon) who tortures it relentlessly. Elisa pities, befriends and falls in love with the creature, and with the help of her neighbour (Richard Jenkins) she plans to release the helpless being from it's captivity. What a sweet, delightful film! Sally Hawkins is bloody marvellous and Michael Shannon is absolutely terrifying. (It's hard to imagine that he can play roles where he is not a baddie, but he certainly can!) 8/10
The Ghoul. 2016. (Not very thrilling) Thriller. I chose this from BAFTA nominees. The IMDb plot summery is misleading. Chris is severely depressed. He visits a psychotherapist. He lusts after a girlfriend from his college days. He makes friends with someone with bi-polar disorder and he's still depressed. I think it was about the never-ending cycle of misery a person can be trapped in, but it wasn't much (any) fun. I can't recommend it. N.R.
The Dressmaker an Amazon Prime original movie based on a book by Rosalie Ham.
I really enjoyed this. Kate Winslet is mesmerizing in the lead role of a woman who returns to the remote Australian village where she was raised in order to uncover a mystery about her childhood. Liam Hemsworth and Hugo Weaving are excellent supporting characters, and the mystery is revealed tantalizingly slowly in a very clever way.
Also from Amazon Prime:
I am only two episodes in, and already completely hooked. Giovanni Ribisi plays a con man who owes a gangster a great deal of money. After three years of listening to his jail cellmate talk about childhood on his grandparents farm in upstate New York, he heads there upon his jail release and takes on the biggest con of his life - impersonating his friend and convincing the grandparents that he is their long-lost grandson, Pete. His intention to hide from the gangster is greatly complicated once he becomes embroiled in this family's own problems.
I've watched two episodes, but it feels like more, because SO MUCH happens in each one. This series is produced by Bryan Cranston, who also plays the gangster. So incredibly sharp.
Big Driver (2014)
What's It About?: Driving home along a generally unused country road following a speaking engagement, famed mystery novelist Tess Thorne experiences a flat tire on her car. She accepts the help of who she believes is a good Samaritan who stops to help her, but who instead rapes her, leaving her submerged in shallow water in a drainage pipe as dead. She found out that he actually orchestrated her getting the flat tire just moments before the rape. Alive, she, in shock, is able to make her way home, but she does not go to the hospital, dealing with her wounds herself, does not call the police, or tell any of her friends or acquaintances how she sustained her obvious injuries. Once the issue of what happened to her settles into herself, she decides to use her skills as an investigative writer to find out the reason behind what happened - if she was a random or targeted victim - and especially if the latter, how best to use that information to her advantage. Using her stories' grandmotherly heroine, Doreen Marcus, as her inspiration, Tess decides that the best course of action is revenge, and figuring out a way not to get caught. In the process, she may discover more than she bargained for.
I liked the idea of the story line....and I guess I liked the film for the most part. I found the writers actions a bit unbelievable...that someone would have gone through what she did and discovered the things that she discovered and never tell the police or even her best friend. She laid that to being ruined as a writer if it got into the papers. She also had conversations with her imaginary characters that gave her advise and her GPS system that spoke to her on a regular basis. What this whole thing did beautifully was keep you watching to see what she would do next and if she could actually pull it off. For that alone I would give it 4.5 stars pf a possible 5.
Tutto quello che vuoi (Everything You Want). 2017. Italian comedy drama. Alessandro hangs out with his jobless friends and argues incessantly with his father. He is forced to take a job walking out with an elderly poet with Alzheimer's and (of course) they bond. Alessandro and his friends piece together fragments of the old man's past and they all go on a road trip to find "buried treasure" from WW2. Quite a sweet film, although the boorish behaviour of the youngsters got on my nerves at times. The old man was a cutie. 5/10
The Florida Project. 2017. Drama. Another nominee for the big awards. I tried this directors last film, Tangerine. 2015. About two foul-mouthed transsexual prostitutes looking for a love-rat cheating pimp in Hollywood. I didn't last very long, so I wasn't holding out much hope for this, but I was pleasantly surprised. Willem Dafoe plays Bobby, the motel manager who must follow out the instructions of the owner, who is oblivious (or pretends not to know) that the property houses mostly welfare families, and the needs of the demanding residents, among whom is 6 year old Moonie, the daughter of a young woman struggling and failing with all aspects of parenthood. The love between the child and her child-like mother is palpable, but the increasingly desperate lengths to which the mother resorts to, under the watchful eye of Bobby, to make the rent are painful to watch. Mr Dafoe walking the fine line between prisoner and jailer is a marvel to watch, as it the performance of little Brooklynn Prince (Moonie), the potty mouthed out-of-control kindergartener who would benefit from a mum who doesn't want to be her best friend or a smack on the behind. (I know, we're not allowed to do that anymore) 7.5/10
Rewatch: Orphans. 1998 Very black comedy, written and directed by Peter Mullan. Four siblings gather in Glasgow for the funeral of their mother, but it was never going to be the dignified affair demanded by the oldest brother, pious Thomas (Gary Lewis). Michael gets stabbed in a pub brawl, young John has revenge on his mind, and disabled Sheila gets stranded when her electric wheelchair breaks down. There are so many laugh out loud moments, but I have downgraded it from 9/10. A near rape doesn't have a place in comedy in my opinion. I've lost my ear for the Glasgow accent, so needed subtitles. 8/10
Gun Crazy 1950
Just recently, the actress Peggy Cummins died and I had no idea who she was but her most popular movie was Gun Crazy and our library system had it so I had to give it a go.
A young man who is a expert shot gets in trouble from robbing a store. He goes away to reform school and then to the military. Things are going well for him till he meets and falls in love with a young woman who itches for excitement and gets him involved in a crime spree. My husband and I enjoyed this oddball film. If you remember Russ Tamblyn, he portrays the main character as a child.
NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) Amazon Prime - 3/5 stars -- Good acting, just not my kind of movie
"Los Angeles denizen Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) survives by scavenging and petty theft. He stumbles into a new career as a cameraman and -- armed with a camcorder and police scanner -- begins nocturnal forays across the city in search of shocking and grisly crimes."
Coco. 2017 Pixar animated. I was babysitting Friday, so put this on for The Boof. She was doing something on her IPad, so it was just me....Again! Set in Mexico on the Day of the Dead, young Miguel wants to enter the local talent show, but his family have barred him from having anything to do with music, so he breaks into the mausoleum of the countries most famous singer and steals a guitar. He ends up in the underworld with his dead relatives, but he must return before dawn or he will be trapped there for ever. I really liked it. I even watched it twice (got a bit choked at the end too!) 7.75/10
Darkest Hour. 2017. Historical drama. May 1940, France was being over-run by the German forces and Neville Chamberlain was forced to resign as Prime Minister. Lord Halifax was the choice of the government to replace him, but he refused (I'm not sure why), which left only Winston Churchill as acceptable to all political parties. We follow Churchill through the month of May from his lying to the populace about the imminent danger of invasion, to his decision to not negotiate for peace, as was desired by the War Cabinet, but to "Fight them on the beaches" in early June. Would it be churlish of me to wonder why Gary Oldman is being feted for major awards, when he, is in fact, impersonating somebody's well documented mannerisms and speeches? To be honest, I struggled to get to the end, although I thought Aussie Ben Mendelsohn made a good King George. Churchill was credited with the rescue of the British army from Dunkirk. Was it really all his own idea? 5/10
Goodbye Christopher Robin. 2017. Biopic. Generally I don't like biopics, and I don't like an idealised England where the everyone speaks like The Queen, and lives with vast wealth in permanent sunshine, so I was on a hiding to nothing with this. Alan Milne is an upper-crust playwright who has returned from the WW1 trenches of The Somme, a pacifist with PTSD. As with most of his ilk, he had little to do with his son until his son's nanny inconsiderately went home for two weeks to be with her dying mother. The boy and his father had an idyllic fortnight, when the idea of Winne-the Pooh came to the writer and the rest is history. I never liked Winnie and I don't think I ever read any of the books, so I was never going to buy into this. The boy, Christopher was a bit creepy too! You'll all love it and cry buckets and I'm The Grinch! 2/10
Rewatch: When Darkness Falls. 2006. Swedish drama. Three stories about people who do the right thing, even though the cost is unimaginably high. The first story is about an "honour killing", the second is about a battered wife of ten years, who finds the courage to go public and the third is about a nightclub owner who decides to testify against a gangster who shot his chief door-man. The first two were excellent, the last not quite so. 7.5/10
>29 .cris: I have a hold on this but it has not gotten very good reviews- of course that makes it even more intriguing for me to watch.
Borg vs. McEnroe. 2017. Sport. I have very little interest in sport, but there have been times when a sporting competition has piqued my interest and this was a great time for tennis. 1980: Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) was hoping for his fifth Wimbledon title to put him in the record books as the first player to have won five on the trot, but Superbrat, John McEnroe (Shia Labeouf), was snapping at his heels. Billed as Ice vs. Fire, McEnroe was unanimously booed as he entered the Centre Court. The Brits had no intention of putting up with the bad-tempered shenanigans that had made him famous, but he was given a standing ovation after almost four hours of gruelling tennis. I was on the edge of my seat watching this match, made more pleasurable by the fact that I'd forgotten the outcome. The Swedish actor playing Borg was very pleasant to watch, and his performance in this gives me hope for his portrayal as Mikael Blomkvist in the new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sequel. With Stellan Skarsgard as Borg's trainer/manager it had class written all over it. 7.5/10
>32 .cris: I don't remember this coming out at all but I will try and find it.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. 2017. Biopic. Professor Marston, a lecturer in psychology at a women's university, is seen fighting against the banning of his comic-book creation, Wonder Woman, by the morality censors, who are appalled at the portrayal of BDSM in a children's comic. William Marston and his wife Elizabeth, a woman resentful that the education available to her was inferior because of her sex, were also working on a lie detector machine when they took a young beautiful student, Olive to be their assistant. Eventually the film concentrates on feminism, their life-time ménage a trois and interest in bondage, which seems to have been the basis of ol' Wonder Woman. Oh my! I'm not sure what my carer thinks of me...There's always something different playing on my screen when she calls. Last night is was a semi-naked threesome who were tying each other up! 3/10
Shotgun Stories. 2007. The first directorial role for Jeff Nichols, with his usual cinematographer, Adam Stone, give us yet another understated view of rural America (Arkansas). Son (Michael Shannon), is the older brother of Boy and Kid (their names alone give a clue to their upbringing). They are the product of a spiteful, vindictive mother and an absent father, who gave up drinking, found Jesus and started a new family. Son is informed that their father has died and he and his brothers turn up at the funeral with some home truths. The half-brothers start a feud that gradually escalates out of control. Michael Shannon is marvellous (as usual), the cinematography is stunning, and the acoustic guitar soundtrack fits right in. I enjoyed it. 6/10
Maze. 2017. Fact based drama. Set in The Maze prison, Northern Ireland's infamous jail that housed both Catholic and Protestant "political prisoners" during The Troubles (a little bit of a euphemism there!) The IRA had called off the hunger strikes after ten men died and the British government (She who cannot be named!), made it clear that there would be no concessions made to the prisoners in their demands to be known as political prisoners, not criminals. Larry Marley comes up with a plan to escape from a prison that had proved inescapable. So, prison break film. It was OK, 5/10
Thor Ragnarok. 2017. Marvel sequel. I was curious as to what Taika Waititi would do with this. It's not his usual type of film, he's better known for odd little indies like Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Boy and What We Do in the Shadows. I was very happy that he swerved the romance angle, that usually bores me to tears in superhero films, but then you're really only left with the fighting and the special effects. I can't get my head around Tom Hiddleston as the comedy anti-hero, and Cate Blanchett seemed out of her depth as the evil sister Hela, but I just loved Korg (played by Mr Waititi himself), enjoyed the cameo by someone very famous and hope to see Valkyrie actress Tessa Thompson some time very soon. 5/10
The Wolf Of Wall Street 2013
Starring Leonardo Dicaprio. Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, a young stockbroker in the heyday of the 1990s. Dicaprio does a very convincing job of portraying a hedonistic, money-mad lout.
The Post. 2017. Drama. It seems to me that every year when the award season starts you can guarantee there will be a racial inequality film, a same sex love story, a biopic and/or one showing the media in a positive light. Et voila...The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg with Ms Streep and Mr Hanks Snr. couldn't really fail. Telling the story of The Washington Post printing the story that the public were lied to by four successive presidents about the Vietnam War. The Washington Times were gagged by the judiciary and Post editor (Hanks) must persuade inexperienced publisher (Streep) to publish or be damned. Tom Hanks was Tom Hanks and Ms Streep seemed to resume her playing of "She who cannot be named". The back story of a woman raised to be an attractive, socially accomplished appendage to her successful husband was interesting, but the film was coloured by my own personal view of the press. Murdoch and Maxwell and other far too powerful men who print only what they choose to print and thus run the world for themselves and their super-wealthy buddies. 6/10
>8 .cris: I just watched The Big Sick last night, and enjoyed it too. I am feeling a bit of a dunce though - I'm still trying to figure out if the title refers to Emily's illness, or something else. I didn't really get that.
Only the Brave. 2017. Fact based drama. The story of the tragic deaths of nineteen firefighters battling the notorious Yarnell Hill forest fire. Josh Brolin plays the leader of a group of firefighters trying to get accreditation that will allow them to be first-liners, "hotshots". They work hard as a team, whooping and man-hugging every opportunity they get. Their women barely getting a look-in unless there's some line-dancing to be done or food to be prepared, all the while being terribly brave. I'm sorry to be facetious , but I live in a country where you couldn't burn a bonsai in mid-summer, even with a gallon of petrol, so I can't imagine what a forest fire could be like. I was always aware that these men were actors and would be going home every night. I'm guessing the 8 rating from IMDb was from people who can understand the speed and devastation caused by fire, but for me it was corny as hell. 3/10
God's Own Country. 2017. Romance. Johnny Saxby is utterly miserable. He lives on a work-hungry farm on the Yorkshire Dales, with his disabled, querulous father and his stoical grandmother. He gets pissed every night and has violent, emotionless sex with men when he can. Until the arrival of Rumanian farm worker Gheorghe, temporarily employed for the lambing season. Gheorghe teaches him about love, affection and to appreciate the beauty around him, but it's not an easy lesson for the uncommunicative, dour Yorkshire man to learn. I actually abandoned this half-way through. The sexual content was VERY explicit, but then I wanted to know how it turned out. I'm not convinced that these Northern oldsters would have accepted this relationship into their home, but I was very happy that they did. I compared this with Oscar nominated same-sex film Call Me By Your Name, which seemed to be the same story with posh people, olives and Tuscany sun and scenery (which I failed to see through to the end). Give me wet and muddy Yorkshire every time. Grandmother (Gemma Jones) was marvellous to watch. 5/10 for the beginning, OMG for the middle and 8/10 for the end.
Loch Ness (2017)
Who's In It?Laura Fraser, Siobhan Finneran, Jack Bannon
What's It About? In a community nourished and sustained by myth and bordered by untamed nature, the search for a serial killer becomes a matter of life and death for local detective Annie Redford who is trying to cope with her first murder case. When the body of local man Niall Swift is found at the foot of Carn Mohr Mountain and an isolated human heart on the loch shore, the town's normality is shattered and the nightmare begins.
Do we eat the popcorn or throw it?: Eat it by all means and be sure you have a big tub for this 6 episode...45 minutes each of series 1. The story was pretty good. Lots of twists and turns that kept the watcher guessing who the guilty party was. The scenery alone was worth the time spent to watch it. If you are into British crime dramas then this needs to be added to your must watch list.
Paris Can Wait
A woman who is trying to spend time with her husband on a long deserved trip is saddled with a Frenchman taking her on a tour while her husband is called away to his movie shoot. Skip this-while I enjoyed Diane Lane, the gentleman who portrayed her would- be - fling was just annoying.
Rebel in the Rye
While I did not love this film, I did appreciate this story of J.D. Salinger's life (which I knew very little of) and the possible cause to his solitary life after writing his most famous book.
>48 JulieLill: I was never a lover of the book, so I swerved the film about Salinger.
Downsizing. 2017. Fantasy/satire. This has had some terrible reviews, but I wonder if marketing this film as a comedy, made film goers expect something like "Honey I Shrunk the Kids". Matt Damon is pretty trustworthy, so I plunged in and was pleasantly surprised. Paul and Audrey have fairly colourless lives. He's not in the job he dreamt of and is struggling to pay the bills. They see a new scientific discovery. A process that will shrink the subject to 5" tall. Your carbon footprint is minute and your current financial position will mean you are extremely wealthy in your new miniature life. Paul and Audrey decide to sign up and when Paul wakes up after the procedure he discovers his wife has gotten cold feet and has returned home with the majority of their funds. This got a little preachy at times, but Christophe Waltz is always a pleasure to watch and I loved the inclusion on Thai actress Hong Chau as the voice of what life is really like wherever there are rich people. 7/10
Roman J. Israel Esq.. 2017. Drama. An all too infrequent appearance from Denzel Washington in this story of a fish out of water. Roman J Israel Esq. has been beavering away for 30 years as the backroom lawyer in a two-man office. His partner dies and George Pierce (Colin Farrell) is appointed to wind up the ailing firm. Roman, a fervent believer in civil rights and justice is forced to go job hunting, but although he has a phenomenal memory, his pedantic manner doesn't make him an easy man to work with. He is forced to accept employment with George, whereas he metamorphoses into a corporate lawyer, but at what cost? The first part of this film was excellent, but then it lost it's way. I scoffed at the idea that a man could go from a fervent fighter for human rights into a "suit" in just three weeks and some of his pontificating was plain gibberish. I don't understand the American legal system myself. You could be arrested for shoplifting. The DA takes the criminal to court charged with aggravated burglary and arson (he had a lighter in his pocket), and the defence gets the charges reduced to a misdemeanour with 5 year jail time if the suspect pleads guilty. Lawyering and the prison system seem to be very lucrative businesses. 4/10
I am Not a Witch. 2017. A little girl is accused of being a witch by local villagers. After a perfunctory trial she is sent to a witch village that houses many old women. She is tethered by a ribbon and told that if she cuts it, she will turn into a goat. She is the ward of the local (very corpulent) government official, who takes payment for her rain dancing and picking out criminals in trials. Her compound is also on the tourist trail, where holiday-makers photograph the women from the other side of a fence. It had an odd soundtrack, which was a mixture of African percussion and Vivaldi. I did see a TV documentary about accusations of witchcraft in Africa that horrified me. In this case the fact is much worse than the fiction. 5/10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooXBMU_06vg
Small Town Crime. 2017. Crime. An alcoholic, fired from his job as a cop after his partner was shot dead, is drinking himself into an early grave. He discovers the near dead body of a young woman on the side of the road and it galvanises him into trying to find out who was responsible. It had John Hawkes, who has a face for comedy (?) It had Dale Dickey, who again, had a few lines and then got shot dead. It had Octavia Spencer, who can do no wrong at the moment, so must had agreed to do this as a favour. It had a shoot out at the end that was astoundingly bad. Two professional hit-men, a cop, a pimp and a hunter with a precision rifle and none of them could have hit an elephant at point-blank range. The stuff of TV movies. 4/10
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