Ava ★ ★ ★ ½ Review
Ava is a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, travelling the globe specializing in high profile hits. When a job goes dangerously wrong she is forced to fight for her own survival when Management decides to close her.
I quite enjoyed this one, because the standard “agency turns on the agent who has to go on the run” storyline isn’t all that happens here. Ava (Jessica Chastain) doesn’t actually go on the run, she doesn’t actually know at first that she’s a target, though after an attempt on her life while in Boston to visit her family for the first time in eight years, she does suspect it… John Malkovich plays “Duke”, her assassin mentor and superior who lies to her and brushes off the attempt as the unluckiest junkie in the world picking the wrong person to mug, but verifies his own suspicions that Ava is due for termination after a meeting with Simon (Colin Farrell), another former protégé, who is now his superior.
Good action, good fights, and a lot of really interesting characters. They really gave a lot of back story to Ava, which was kind of missing in films like Atomic Blonde and Anna even though I was reminded of both with Ava. A fun watch, with some decent action and decent fights. Worth watching if you’re a fan of the cast.
Disclaimer – I watched this two years ago… which is also the last time I even thought about posting anything. I started a review and left it in drafts, now I don’t remember that much about the movie. For some reason tonight I clicked this old bookmark and read what I had left behind. It might be time to dust this off a bit, even though I haven’t really watched that many movies since the pandemic hit, but I can give this a try again. I haven’t posted anything since February of 2020. I did find putting my thoughts on “paper” rather therapeutic back then and I could probably use that again. Maybe I can do this again. Maybe I will.
Coco – ★ ★ ★ ★ Review
So this review has been sitting in my drafts folder since May of 2018… Guess who doesn’t remember a whole lot about the movie? Me. Because I didn’t have anything actually typed up… Just a blank template waiting to be reviewed… well, let’s have a go eh?
So Coco did win the Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, and it was a visual treat. The animation was fantastic. The story was interesting and was a great little piece about family, forgiveness, fame, and a bit of an insight the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.
The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who wants to be a musician , even though his family forbids any sort of music. His great-great-grandmother was married to a musician who broke her heart when he left her and their daughter, so music is bad. Miguel is still obsessed with music and secretly plays the guitar, like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, an old time actor. When Miguel discovers a hidden picture of his great-great-grandfather holding Ernesto’s famous guitar, he concludes that he is his descendant and sets off to enter a Day of the Dead talent show. After strumming the late actor’s guitar, Miguel is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he teams with Héctor, who offers to help him find his Ernesto, his great-great-grandfather, who can give him his blessing and get him back to the land of the living before it is too late, and Miguel is trapped forever. Things of course don’t work out so easily as family connections and deceptions are revealed.
Lots of fun, and I was surprised to see that they kind of included a murder mystery into this one. A little heavy for a kids movie you might think, but it all worked out pretty well…as far as I remember… Disney and Pixar films are always full of heart and that’s why I enjoy them.
Maybe it’s time to start doing these reviews more regularly, and in a timely fashion again… I have finally started watching more movies again, so perhaps we’ll give it a whirl…stay tuned everyone.
Bottom Line: Does anyone know if Disney ever marketed or sold skull guitar toys or replicas? I’d have bought one.
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight – ★ ★ ½ Review
I still love cartoons, and the DC cartoons are usually really good. Sometimes they’re original stories, sometimes they’re inspired by famous comic book storylines, and other time they’re just straight adaptations from the original source material. Gotham by Gaslight was the first of the Elseworlds stories, which were basically stories using familiar DC characters in alternate universes or times. The roots mostly remained the same, but there were differences, making for some interesting stories. Gotham By Gaslight, is set in Victorian era Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is the bat-garbed vigilante, the Batman. In this story he’s up against a serial killer called Jack the Ripper.
Both the artwork and animation were quite good, but it didn’t give me a true Victorian era feeling, perhaps because it was set in Gotham and not London. It kind of felt more steampunk than Victorian too. The voice talents were also excellent with Bruce Greenwood leading the way as Batman and Bruce Wayne.
The story was interesting enough, but veered quite significantly from the original graphic novel. I won’t tell you how because it’s a major spoiler, but it was this divergence that kind of soured me on the whole thing. There were lots of nice little nods and hat tips to the main DC Universe of comics we are more familiar with and the story was interesting enough. I think I would have preferred though if it had just stuck to the original story. Maybe there will be more of these, and even though I didn’t particularly care for this one I will keep watching them.
Bottom Line: If DC is going to continue with the Elseworld cartoons, maybe a Superman: Red Son could happen. That would be interesting.
Dear Dictator – ★ ★ ½ Review
When an outcast teen, Tatiana, gets a school assignment to write a letter to a person she admires, she jokingly writes to a General Anton Vincent, a foreign dictator, because she likes his fashion sense. Vincent takes to the admiration, and the two become unlikely pen pals, however, when Hector has to flee his country during a coup, he seeks refuge in the house of his only remaining friend. After arriving in America, Hector teaches Tatiana how to be a real rebel, helping her deal with the bullies and popular cliques at her school.
It could have been good… It should have been good. I really just wanted it to end rather quickly though. I didn’t really enjoy it, as the humour seemed forced and the casting actually may have been a problem. I love Michael Caine, but having the cockney accented star play an island dictator doesn’t really fit. Some of the casting did work very well though. Katie Holmes was quite good and so was Odeya Rush as Tatiana, who I had remembered from Lady Bird.
Nothing really clicked here and the story just didn’t work the way that it should have based on the premise. Not very funny, not serious either it wasn’t really worth watching. They can’t all be winners.
Bottom Line: I really hope that Caine has a bounce back role, because I don’t want to remember him for projects like this one. He is quoted as once saying “You get paid the same for a bad film as you do for a good one”, and when speaking of Jaws: The Revenge, he said “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.” I wonder what Dear Dictator paid for…
Please Stand By – ★ ★ ★ ★ Review
Okay, here it goes again, since the hemorrhoid people in my spam folder seem to want me to keep blogging, I’ll try another review, remember though, I watched a lot of these films over a year ago, so my memory is probably going to be fuzzy at best. A lot has happened…
As I recall, the film centres on Dakota Fanning, an autistic girl named Wendy who has been put in a group home by her sister (Alice Eve) who feels she can no longer capably care for her sister as well as her own young family. The home is run by Toni Collette and all goes smoothly until Wendy breaks out of the home and hits the road to deliver a Star Trek script she wrote for a fan writing contest. The giant Trekkie reasons she’ll win the contest and win the money to help her sister keep their family home and help her raise her niece Ruby, but she missed the mail-in date so she has to deliver the script in person. Normally hijinks would ensue at this point of a film, but instead Wendy endures harassment, a mugging, is almost cheated again, survives a bus crash. Wendy comes through as tough and capable, though still a bit naive to the world outside her home. Escaping from the hospital to complete her journey, she stows away on a bus to complete her journey to Los Angeles, but upon exiting the luggage compartment she encounters the police. Officer Frank (Patton Oswalt) calms Wendy down and gains her trust by speaking to her in Klingon, a skill his partner Officer Doyle (Robin Weigert) didn’t know he had… Eventually of course she is reunited with her family and does make it to the Paramount lot to submit her script.
It was a very good film. I really enjoyed it. It cared for it’s characters and told a really good story. I really loved the scene with Patton Oswalt speaking Klingon. To me, this probably made the movie, though every scene with Wendy and the tiny dog Pete from her home was gold too. Alice Eve is a personal favourite of mine too, and her character (and performance) seemed very real and relatable.
Bottom Line: I love Star Trek, so it was nice to see it used as a narrative tool in the film as it was.
Murder on the Orient Express – ★ ★ ★ ½ Review
Guess what, the book was better. Well, that’s not really fair to say, the movie was very fun and very good, of course having read the book many, many moons ago I knew “whodunnit”. Funny story about that, I went with a friend to see something in theatres, maybe Star Wars? I don’t remember now, but what I do remember was seeing the trailer for Murder on the Orient Express and turning to my friend and quipped “You can tell who the killer was just from that….”, not knowing that she hadn’t read the book. Lesson learned….again. As my mother told me once (not that long ago), not everyone shares my sense of humour…
When the luxury train the Orient Express gets stuck in the snow during a wintery mountain pass, the nasty Mr. Ratchett (Johnny Depp) is discovered murdered in his car. There are a dozen suspects on the unusually full train ride, but coincidentally one of those passengers happens to be renowned sleuth Hercule Poirot!
Director Kenneth Branagh also stars as Poirot and delivers a great take on the iconic detective. The entire cast was very good. I worry sometimes when I see a film full of stars, that the story will be diluted so everyone gets enough screen time, but that was not the case here, as Christie had already counted on making every character in the story matter.
As I said, I’ve read the book (several times actually) so I wasn’t surprised by anything, as the story on screen was very much the story on the page. Orient Express is a classic so you can’t really change much and have it still be the Orient Express. What I enjoyed most about this rendition was the excellent acting and the very good cinematography. Every scene looked brilliant. One overhead shot of the train cabins panning from the murder scene to Poirot’s investigation room was a particular favourite of mine. If you’re in the mood for a good mystery, this one is definitely worth watching. Again, it’s a classic story that every mystery fan should experience even if it’s just so they can keep up with my bad jokes.
Bottom Line: The end of Murder on the Orient Express looks like it will lead directly into Death on the Nile, another Christie book, but this time it’s one I haven’t read. So the question now becomes do I read it before seeing the film?
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ Review
Well, it’s been a year since I’ve posted anything, and over a year since I saw this movie…. what can go wrong?
Let’s see…. I really enjoyed it, I remember that much. A young girl’s rape and murder are unsolved so the mother of the victim, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), rents the billboards on the main road into their small town and posts on them: “Raped While Dying“, “Still No Arrests?“, and “How Come, Chief Willoughby?” The billboards upset the townspeople, including Chief Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and the young racist and alcoholic Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell). Chief Willoughby really is trying to solve a very difficult case, but is also dying of cancer. Officer Dixon really doesn’t seem that bright, and definitely doesn’t support Mildred but does support his chief. Mildred’s own son doesn’t even support her. As her campaign continues the town turns with her and against her, with many twists and turns in the development of all the characters.
McDormand won the Oscar for Best Leading Actress, Rockwell won best Supporting Actor, beating out co-star Woody Harrelson who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Needless to say the performances were great, though I wonder if McDormand was even acting, I think she was just being herself. The role was written with her in mind, so that makes it a bit easier. Regardless, she did a fantastic job bringing depth and realism to the role. Rockwell is one of my favourite actors and I’m very glad that he won the award. Three Billboards was part mystery and part character study mixed with a lot of dark humour that I loved, and quite a few surprises along the way too.
Bottom Line: I really thought it would win Best Picture, unfortunately it didn’t but I still won the office Oscar Pool that year.
Shape of Water – ★ ★ ★ ★ Review
Is this thing on? Is anyone there still? Sorry I haven’t been in the mood to review anything…. for almost a year now I guess… Not saying I’m back, or that I can commit to doing this with any regularity, or that I can even commit to watching more movies right now, but let’s see what happens, shall we?
The Shape of Water tells the story of a mute cleaning woman named Elisa who works at a secret government research facility in the 1960s. Housed in one of the labs is an amphibian humanoid creature (the “fish man”) that is being tortured and experimented on. Elisa finds the creature, and somehow makes a connection with him. Through secret visits, the two somehow become friends and eventually Elisa falls in love, causing her to concoct a plan to break the creature out. To set him free? Or to spend the rest of their days together?
- Shape of Water won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Score, and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro
- Very good cinematography, and very good special effects.
- Very well acted by everyone. Michael Shannon was an excellent bad guy, Sally Hawkins was brilliant playing the mute cleaning woman Elisa, and of course Doug Jones is an incredible actor who gives so much to the performance of the fish man by do so many little and subtle things.
- Very unusual to have a love story where your two main characters don’t speak. It worked though.
- I don’t know if anyone else noticed this, but I loved when Giles (Richard Jenkins) gave the opening narration, when he comes to the line “Or perhaps I would just warn you about the truth of these facts, and the tale of love and loss and the monster who tried to destroy it all.”, Michael Shannon’s name pops up in the credits when he says “monster”. What brilliant and beautiful foreshadowing.
The style to the film was incredible, it also won the Oscar for Production Design. The cold war espionage, mixed with some science fiction, mixed with a love story was a very interesting story to tell. I enjoyed it, but I know that it may not be the film for everyone, and that’s even before Elisa has sex with the fish man…
Bottom Line: Did anyone else catch the double dose of Forever Knight actors? Nigel Bennett and John Kapelos were both here!
I used to only buy one type/brand/colour of socks so I would have an easier (or lazier) time matching them when I did my laundry. A few months back though my feet were killing me so I bought these fancy-dancy, ergonomic, no sweat, padded, fitted, super comfortable, bamboo-rayon blended socks and really liked them, so a few weeks ago I treated myself to 6 more pairs of socks. The only drawback to these socks is that they are knit in such a way that they are labelled for the left and right foot. At first I felt a little insulted that my socks were telling me what feet to put them on, but soon I took it in stride.
Sunday night was laundry night of course, and I knew I would have to take extra time and special effort when putting away my socks to make sure I had all the lefts and rights in proper order. It reminded me though of a logic puzzle I was given way back in high school (or possibly even grade school). The puzzle is this: you are in the dark and have to get dressed. In your bag are 5 pairs of black socks and 5 pairs of white socks. What is the minimum number of socks you need to pull to ensure a matching set?
The answer is obviously three. I wondered if the same theory could be applied to my current left and right sock situation, but realized it wouldn’t work like that because it’s possible (though rather unlikely) that I could pull 5 “lefts” in a row before pulling a “right”, so the minimum in my situation with 7 clean pairs of socks would be 8 socks to ensure at least one set of the correct pairings. Well when I was putting my laundry away and matching my socks up from the pile I dumped on my bed, I did just what I predicted. I pulled 5 lefts before the first right…
Lady Bird – ★ ★ ★ ½ Review
Saoirse Ronan is one of my favourite actresses, in Lady Bird she plays Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a teen about to graduate high school and move on to college.
Okay, I’m really struggling to write these reviews lately. I saw Lady Bird in March, and it’s now November. I’m hitting a wall, and don’t know how to get through it. I used to find reviewing and blogging therapeutic and relaxing, but life has really beaten me up for the past few months. I haven’t had time to watch a movie in months, let alone review one, and I haven’t even had the desire to watch one. There are things I want to see. I want to see Life of the Party, I want to see Ant Man and the Wasp, and probably a lot of others too. Hopefully I’ll get to them. Hopefully I’ll review them too.
Here we go then, I’m going to struggle and try to get through this review. This is going to be tough for a while, because I don’t remember a lot of the key points anymore. Maybe point form is the way to go for a while…
- Enjoyed the movie, but thought it was really about nothing, but that’s not a bad thing. Well, it can be. I’ve found the last few movies Saoirse Ronan did to have been about nothing. Brooklyn, Lady Bird, and from what I can tell by the trailers On Chesil Beach too, all are movies just about life. There doesn’t seem to be a villain to defeat, or a big bad antagonist, the characters all just have to get through every day life. My only complaint is because I like Ronan so much, that I want to see her doing different things. Maybe I should just watch Hanna again…
- Laurie Metcalf was excellent as the mother, and I think was very deserving of her Best Supporting Actress nomination. I would have liked her to win, but that’s because I haven’t seen I, Tonya. I really like Allison Janney too, so I’m not upset that she won over Metcalf.
- Quite a bit of humour, quite a bit of drama. Relatable, and fun.
- Good dialogue and situations. The cast really worked well together, especially Ronan and Metcalf who delivered an excellent and very believable mother-daughter dynamic.
- Greta Gerwig wrote and directed and was nominated for an Oscar as Director and for the screenplay. I don’t know if the direction of the film was really Oscar worthy or not. I don’t know if her nomination was part of a movement to make the Oscars more diverse. To me the direction was nothing special. I guess when two of your cast are nominated for acting awards, you are either doing something right, or they just made it easier for the director.
If you’re a fan, or if you’re just looking for something good to watch, I’d say give Lady Bird a try.
Bottom Line: I got nothing right now.