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Lady Bird – ★ ★ ★ ½ Review

Lady Bird35

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.


Brooklyn – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

Brooklyn4.0 Stars

Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis, a young Irish girl from the small town of Enniscorthy who takes an opportunity provided by the local church to go and live in Brooklyn, New York.  Though she is sad to leave her mother and her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) in Ireland, she has no problem at all leaving behind the job she held in the local shop run by the strict and miserly Miss Kelly (Brid Brennan).  Though the land of opportunity is not always easy, Eilis battles seasickness, homesickness and loneliness.  Finding some comfort from Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), the priest who sponsored her, she slowly makes a few friends at the boarding house she lives in run by Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Walters), finds a job at Bartocci’s department store; where she is befriended by Miss Fortini (Jessica Paré) her supervisor who teaches her some of the finer points of fitting in in America; and even enrols in Brooklyn College to study bookkeeping.  One night while out at an Irish dance with other girls from the boarding house, she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian-American plumber who has fallen in love with her from across the dance floor.  Eventually Eilis reciprocates his feelings and the two start dating, fall completely in love and we’ve seen Eilis come full circle and emerge a confident young woman, until she is called back to Ireland for a family tragedy.  Returning to her former home her confidence, maturity and now worldly nature shine through winning her the heart of another suitor in Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson) who she also falls in love with.  What does this mean for her life in Brooklyn?  And her love for Tony?  And her secret marriage to Tony that happened just before she left the States?

This was an excellent movie, and I really enjoyed it.  It was simply a story.  I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a love story, or a drama, or anything.  It was just a really well told, very natural feeling, everyday story.  It involved the viewer emotionally, challenged them to think a little bit, and just told the tale of a life that does not seem unrealistic for anyone to have lived.  The entire cast was excellent, and so were the performances.  Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, were each very entertaining in their supporting roles.   I’m a huge fan of Saoirse Ronan though and with Brooklyn she once again earned my admiration.  The twenty-two year old actress has been nominated for two acting Oscars and has won other awards in the past for her roles in Atonement and The Lovely Bones.  Again, I think this was just a year of poor timing for some, as Brie Larson was pretty much a lock for the Best Actress Oscar.  I have little doubt though that Ronan will capture an Oscar in her career, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in the very near future.

Bottom Line: I think I’m finally caught up with everything I watched for the Oscars this year!  I guess I should really watch Revenant too….

Grand Budapest Hotel – DVD review 4/5 Stars

Product Details4 Stars

Well I’ve seen my second Wes Anderson film now (the first was Moonrise Kingdom) and I really enjoyed it.  The story was funny (a great mix of a caper comedy,  murder mystery, broad adventure, and romance); the acting was top notch and the style and visual appeal of the film were trademark Anderson quirk.  That trademark quirk just kind of gnaws at the back of my brain and bothers me a little bit though.  I find a lot of the fans of Wes Anderson’s films to be kind of snooty and pushy and I don’t want to become that type of movie watcher either by association or by osmosis because I’ve enjoyed these last two films.  Now, I have yet to see his earlier work, but I’m told that the “quirk” (sorry, that’s the only way I can think of describing it) has become more and more developed in Anderson’s later works.  It just seems to me that a lot of his fans (and even some of the comments by his actors) can be fairly pretentious.  I just want to enjoy what I enjoy and not be told what to enjoy or why to enjoy it.

In 1932 M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) is the legendary concierge at The Grand Budapest, a famous European hotel.  He; and his hotel; are a faint glimmer of civilization left in the barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.  Gustave is a gentleman who not only sees to the needs of the hotel but the guests as well, and as the film opens he has just taken on a new lobby boy, Zero (Tony Revolori) who soon becomes his most trusted friend.  Madame Celine Villenueve Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Tilda Swinton) is dead, and it is quite possibly murder.  When her priceless Renaissance painting “Boy With Apple” is willed to M. Gustave her family has him arrested, as scheming son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and his thug Jopling (Willem Dafoe) seek to secure the family fortune by any means necessary.  Having to escape from jail to clear his name, Gustave and Zero flee across the Republic of Zubrowka with only Zero’s lovely fiancee Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) to aide them as they encounter a myriad of characters on their way back to the Grand Budapest and their rightful fortune.  The whole story is narrated by a grown Zero (F. Murray Abraham) to an author (Jude Law) who is staying at the now pretty much neglected Grand Budapest while trying to overcome his writer’s block, so the film does jump between the past of the 1930s the 1960s and a “present” with the more aged author (Tom Wilkinson) of 1985.  This was handled very cleverly by Anderson who changed the camera aspect for each different time period.

As I said the film looked incredible, with Anderson’s signature pastel colour palettes and side scrolling camera angles, but the true strength really comes from the cast and the story.  Anderson has seemingly created a repertory company of actors for his films as many of those cast once do return.  My fear of  “too many cooks” doesn’t really apply as Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Wes Anderson, Tony Revolori all fit in the film even though they don’t all necessarily have large roles.  Owen Wilson was on screen for probably less than two minutes but somehow found his way to be in the special features talking about “their” film…  I suppose though that it speaks volumes about the quality of the piece if actors just want to be in there regardless.

I really enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel, it was visually appealing, thoughtfully written and yet still very very funny.  The humour is definitely a bit more on the darker side which I certainly appreciate, but the movie was a bit of a romantic adventure tale as well, and not just between the characters but with a time period and a way of life.  As Mr. Moustafa looked back and remarked about M. Gustave “I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it – but, I will say: he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvellous grace!

Bottom Line: Is Wes Anderson being too Wes Anderson?  How much longer can he keep doing “his” style of film before studios and audiences tire?  Will anyone tire of it?  Maybe, maybe not, but I have to wonder what it would be like if he were to direct something completely different.

Violet & Daisy – DVD review 4/5 stars

Violet&Daisy4 Stars

(I know, I usually put the cover of the DVD or Blu Ray here unless I’ve seen the movie in theatres in which case I use a theatrical poster.  Well, tonight I watched Violet & Daisy, I loved the movie, but found the DVD cover a little plain.  The only bonus feature on the disc was a poster gallery for the film, and they all looked a lot better (in my opinion) than the DVD cover so I’ve put them together for all who read to see.)

Well, this was one of the quirkier films I’ve seen in a while, and I loved just about every minute of it.  I’ve gotten on a Saoirse Ronan kick all of a sudden after seeing How I Live Now, so I decided to pick up Violet & Daisy rather than Atonement simply because I’m in the mood for something a little lighter right now, and the story of two teenage girls who were also assassins (or hit-women I guess) who chew bubble gum while kicking ass seemed to fit the bill.

Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Ronan) are all set to take some time off from the contract killing business but get called in for one more “easy” job, the target (James Gandolfini) robbed their boss so they are sent to kill him.  Waiting for him to come home to his death, they fall asleep on his couch.  When they wake up the find that he’s covered them up, waited for them in his chair across the room, and even made them a snack.  He was expecting them, or at least someone like them to arrive and kill him.  After a series of comical misses, their target (who is graciously waiting to be killed) begins to open up to the girls as they learn why he seemingly wants to die, and in turn the girls open up to the man (quick side note here: IMDb lists Gandolfini’s character’s name as Michael, but I don’t recall ever hearing his name used) and tell him their story.  Violet and Daisy fight off a team of rival hitmen, a higher up assassin in their own organization, thwart the robbery of a hardware store and Daisy even gets a new dress from their target.

The cinematography of the film was great, everything looked very crisp and very stylish.  The colours, the lighting, the music all clicked perfectly in Geoffrey Fletcher’s directorial debut.  Of course the acting was excellent; all three of the leads were excellent with Gandolfini really doing an amazing job.  It is indeed very sad that he passed away so recently and that he was so young.  I think that Saoirse Ronan will continue to impress with a long and excellent acting career in her future.  To be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar at thirteen is certainly impressive and I’m sure more nominations and awards will come her way. The story was a great balance of quirky dark comedy, heartfelt dramatic moments and over the top violence.  Sure a few things may have been pretty obvious and clichéd but with the high levels of everything else in the film it was easy to let that slide,

Bottom Line: a nap really can do wonders for you, and so can a good dance, even the “Internal Bleeding Dance“.

How I Live Now – DVD review 3.5/5 stars

Product Details3.5 Stars

I saw the trailer and was intrigued, last night I watched it and was a little underwhelmed at first, but now that I’ve had some time to reflect on it, I did quite enjoy the film.  Basically though, if it wasn’t for Saoirse Ronan I probably wouldn’t have watched it.  Based on her performance however I enjoyed it enough to give it a passing grade.

In the near future, the world is on the edge of World War III and terrorist attacks throughout Europe are pushing matters to the brink.  Saoirse Ronan plays Daisy, an angry teenage American girl who is sent by her father to live with her aunt and cousins in the English countryside for the summer.  At first she does not want to fit in, or socialize with her cousins; Isaac (Tom Holland) is the odd middle child, Piper (Harley Bird) is the youngest and only girl who now clings off Daisy like an older sister, and Edmund (George MacKay) is the distant oldest cousin.  After a while she settles in and slowly begins to adjust, and even begins falling in love with her older cousin Eddie.  I’m sure one of them is adopted or something…  The family farmhouse is in a beautiful bit of the English countryside and life, and the summer are now going well for Daisy, until a nuclear bomb is detonated in London and the military comes to evacuate them.  Daisy’s aunt works for the government in some capacity and had been called away to Geneva on the day of the attack, so the kids are all alone without an adult.  The girls get taken to a work farm, and the boys are taken separately, presumably for military service.  Now Daisy and Piper have to escape and find their way back to the family farm, hopefully to rejoin their family.

How I Live Now is based on the book of the same name by Meg Rosoff and the story; as presented in the film; was pretty good.  It is a bit of a wish fulfillment tale as you have kids are living on their own with no parents and no rules.  The older two join up and take care of of the younger two, and all is great until the war.  Daisy has adjusted and just when she falls in love, and everyone is getting along, they all get split up.  Daisy who was at first standoffish with Piper who was smothering the only other girl in her life now becomes like a sister or a mother to her.  The boys who were playing at war earlier in the film now have it forced into their lives as a reality.  All these things are heavy subjects for a young cast to handle but they all did a very good job.  Ronan was the standout star obviously, and once again shows that she can carry a film.

Bottom Line: Saoirse Ronan is an excellent actress, I think I need to re-watch Hanna or finally watch Atonement.  (And her name is pronounced Ser-sha Ronan)

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