Christmas in July Blogathon: 5 Movies to Show my Daughter

ORIGINALLY POSTED at Drew’s Movie Reviews here. Please check out Drew’s blog and the rest of the entries to his Christmas in July blogathon!

I can’t believe I’m taking part in Drew’s Christmas in July Blogathon for the 3rd year running! Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year, and so I don’t need many excuses to talk about the festive season and related movies. Thank you Drew for hosting again!

This year, Christmas is going to be pretty different for me, as I’ll have a 2-month old baby! Part of me is dreading the chaos, but mostly I’m looking forward to making the holiday a magical time for this little one. Of course, that’s going to include brainwashing introducing her to some of my favourite Christmas movies! That’s why this year, I decided to dedicate my blogathon post to 5 Christmas Movies to Show My Daughter.

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The Snowman (1982)

Wait, don’t call Child Protection Services yet! I don’t mean the upcoming horror/thriller by the same name. I mean the classic British Christmas TV movie, The Snowman, where a boy builds a snowman that comes to life on Christmas Eve. It’s a magical story and features one of the most beautiful songs, ‘Walking in the Air’. We might even follow it up with the 2012 sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog, but it still makes me cry!

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Shrek the Halls (2007)

How on Earth is Shrek the Halls 10 years old already?! Another short TV movie that’s been an annual event in my family since it was released. We’re big Shrek fans in my family (only the first 2 movies though) and we sadly know all the words to this! If you’ve never seen it, after the hustle and bustle of the Shrek family settling down on Christmas Eve, Donkey, Shrek & Fiona tell the tale of the night before Christmas…in their own special way!

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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

The Muppets were a huge part of my childhood, it was my favourite show when I was little and I’ve continued to love them ever since. In fact, the song ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ from the 2011 movie was the song my husband and I walked back down the aisle to on our wedding day! I’m hoping my daughter will have the same sense of humour as I do, so I’m sure she’ll love watching The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Whilst those are 3 movies that I think any child would easily enjoy, mine is going to have accept the fact that she’s going to have her Mum & Dad’s favourite Christmas movies ever forced upon her. Let’s start with Dad, shall we?

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Jingle All the Way (1996)

I can’t believe that 9 years ago I had no idea Jingle All the Way existed. I was invited to my (now) husband’s parents house over Christmas where they sat for their annual watch of this movie, and I loved every second. In fact, it’s impossible for anyone to eat a cookie around me without me shouting ‘put that cookie down, NOW!’. So whether she loves it or hates it, a bit of Arnold Schwarzenegger is always needed at Christmas!

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

I talk far too much about the National Lampoon’s movies so I’ll keep this brief, but there’s no way it couldn’t have been in this list! I’m just dreading the moment in a few years time where my daughter will complain about having to watch it and exclaim ‘this movie is as old as you!’.

Finally, part of Drew’s tradition is to host a party of our favourite celebrities, and we all get to add a name to the guest list. I think it’s only fair that I throw Dan Stevens an invite this year, and carefully place as much mistletoe around the venue as possible!

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Review: Life (2017)

life-movie-poster-review-2017You know that saying, ‘be careful what you wish for’? Years I’ve been waiting for a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds together. Years! 2 of my ultimate favourite Hollywood hunks in 1 movie. I guess I imagined it would be some kind of romcom, preferably starring myself caught in a love triangle. Alas, it seems only half of my request was eventually heard, and although I got both stars together, it was for a Sci-Fi/Horror. Really, movie gods?!

What makes things even worse is that on paper, and in the trailer in fact, Life (2017) is nothing more than an Alien ripoff. You’ve got a spaceship, a solid crew, a mission to extract and protect a life form found on Mars. Hey presto, turns out the life form is dangerous and hostile! Now it’s a survival game. I sound bitter I know but here’s the shocker, Life is actually a pretty decent movie!

For a start, the crew are all extremely likeable, and they’re smart! Yes, you’ve got one who won’t stop harping on about protocols and rule-breaking, but when protocols are broken they’re for a logical reason, rather than a dumb reason for a jump scare. For a wuss like me, Life was a fairly scary movie, but that’s because this life-form (AKA Calvin) is so small and stealthy, and unpredictable. I’m glad I waited for a home release because some scenes are tense as hell.

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I’ll admit that at the halfway point my interest started to wane slightly. That might be because (highlight for spoiler) Ryan Reynolds got killed off in the first 30 minutes – perhaps I should have seen it coming, but it does drift into far too familiar territory after a while. Yes, Calvin is on the loose, no, we aren’t sure how the crew are going to survive, if they do at all, so just get on with the story so we can find out how it ends!

Life even had it’s emotional moments, mainly centered around a children’s book you may know quite well, Goodnight Moon. You can forget listening to Tom Hardy reading bedtime stories, try watching Jake Gyllenhaal read Goodnight Moon whilst stuck in the situation he’s in and not get misty eyes!

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Finally, and I’ll have to obscure this paragraph mostly for spoiler reasons, I can’t end this post without mentioning the ending. Should I have seen it coming? Maybe? I don’t know, but it caught me completely off guard! That moment when you realise who (and what) is in that capsule that landed in the sea straight up gave me the chills. I’d rather Life stay as a standalone movie but if it had a sequel, heck I’d probably go and see it.

For being surprisingly good as a totally unoriginal movie, Life gets 3 and a half copies of that darn children’s book I’m now never going to be able to buy for my own kiddo.

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Going off Topic (#6) What have I become?!

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I’m in such a blogging rut right now. When I can bring myself to sit down with my laptop for an hour and get the creative juices flowing, I love it and I’m reminded about why I have a blog in the first place. I press ‘publish’ with glee and update my links, and think about drafting up a couple more posts to keep me going for the week. That doesn’t happen and then I fall off the wagon completely for a few days at a time, so I’m really sorry for not visiting everyone elses’ blogs very often.

I’m determined to get back on track, though! Come October when this little monster is born I know I’m going to have to take a bit of a break, but I’d like to stay as active as I can till then. Besides, I’ve been watching tons of things lately so it’s not like I don’t have anything to write about!

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Speaking of giving birth in October…I’m officially a pregnant lady you guys. I know I’ve been pregnant since January, but I actually look like a proper pregnant lady now! Getting out of bed in the morning is like trying to reenact a turtle stuck on it’s back, and strangers on the street aren’t afraid to approach me in case I’m just fat.

We’ve made an amazing start on the nursery! The walls have been painted, the cot has been bought and assembled, and THE CUTEST PRAM IN THE WORLD is being delivered today. Why am I suddenly obsessed with pastel pinks/purples and unicorns?! Who is this person I have become?! I’m starting to plan when to go on maternity leave…this is all getting a bit real now.

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Our cat Loki, ‘helping’ to build the cot, and the cutest pram in the world!

Let’s talk movies before I start to panic, shall we?

Like I mentioned, I’ve been watching quite a few things that I haven’t actually discussed/reviewed here yet! Most recently, I watched Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014) after Cinematic Corner reminded me Dan Stevens was in it. I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it sooner to be honest, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Night at the Museum movies. They aren’t comedic masterpieces, but they’re great family movies! Dan Stevens didn’t disappoint, and now I have to apologise to anyone caught in the firing line of me randomly shouting out ‘HUGE?! ACKMAN?!’ without any warning whatsoever!

I can’t believe I haven’t done a Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) post yet. That was a brilliant movie, and despite my grumbles about the 1,000,001 trailers showing every single action scene, there was still plenty to enjoy.

Far too long after my Dad recommending it, I watched Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) one night when I was feeling down. That and Airplane! (1980) might just be my favourite comedies of all time. It’s just my kind of humour! I heard the other 2 Naked Gun movies aren’t as great though. Can anyone recommend anything else I might enjoy based off this?

I was going to do a post after watching In Bruges (2008) last month, but when I tried to explain it to my husband, I think he really wants to see it too so I might watch it again with him before I do that. Isn’t it annoying when someone won’t watch a movie with you till you’ve seen it yourself and can confirm how good it is? I think that’s how I ended up watching Drive twice in 2 days!

Don’t ask me about Mulholland Drive (2001). I appreciate it for what it is, but it hurt my head so much. You know when you’re watching a movie and you’re confused as hell, but you know all the pieces will come together in the last 20 minutes? Yeah, no. That didn’t happen…

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Also, I think I’m FINALLY going to see Baby Driver tomorrow night! I’m fully expecting us to be the only couple in the room seeings as the whole world has seen it already.

This is the part where I would share some links to my fellow bloggers’ posts, but I’m so far behind right now! I promise I’ll have another off topic ramble soon, but in the meantime I’ll be doing plenty of reading. Thanks for sticking with me!

Mini Reviews: Okja (2017), Gifted (2017) & Atonement (2007)

I’ve been trying to find a bit of a theme for my mini review posts recently. My mini reviews are basically an eruption of thoughts without much focus at the best of times, so it’s nice to have a bit of order somewhere. So what do a super pig, a mathematical genius kid and a 10-year old period drama have in common? I watched them all over the last 2 weeks and they all made me ugly cry!

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Okja (2017)

Back in 2014, the blogging world alerted me to Snowpiercer (2014), a crazy movie directed by Joon-ho Bong. Last month, a movie recommendation site threw a fascinating crime story called Memories of Murder (2003) at me, also by the same director. So, when my blog feed got filled with mentions of Joon-ho Bong’s latest movie about a super pig named Okja, I knew I had to see it!

Okja had just been released on Netflix so I didn’t even bother with a trailer. I figured it would be some kind of family-orientated movie with a happy ending. Ohh, I was so wrong. This movie is dark. So, very dark. It’s worth it alone for the cast to be honest, but Okja is a movie that will make even the biggest meat-eaters out there question themselves. I did a lot of crying and felt guilty as hell about my bacon sarnie the next morning…

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Gifted (2017)

So I judged Okja terribly, but Gifted is absolutely a movie for the whole family! It stars Chris Evans as a single parent to his niece, who just so happens to be a mathematical genius just like her late Mother. It sounds like your bog-standard, average family movie but there’s a lot to be enjoyed here, it certainly stands out from the crowd. Think Matilda meets Manchester by the Sea!

Unlike a lot of child actors, McKenna Grace is an absolute gem and a pleasure to watch in this movie. Her comedic delivery is spot on and she nails that dead-pan kind of humour. I really hope she lands some more lead roles in the future because she’s one to watch! Gifted really pulls on your heart strings and I wouldn’t say it has a predictable plot at all, I was left guessing right up to the end.

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Atonement (2007)

Why did I watch Atonement when I have such a passionate dislike for period dramas? My littlest Brother was coming to stay and I told him we’d have a movie night. He loves plot-twist movies but wanted to watch something none of us had seen before, so I put together a little list. Atonement wasn’t what we watched (we went with The Village) but it kept cropping up in my searches and I couldn’t understand why a movie like that would be considered a plot twist movie. Safe to say, my curiosity got the best of me.

I ended up watching Atonement over 2 days in the end, and at the point the movie tells us who actually committed the crime, I whinged and complained about wasting so much time to a twist that wasn’t even a twist. Then I realised I still had another 20 minutes of the movie to go. If you’ve seen Atonement, well, I know you won’t have forgotten what happened next. That ending destroyed me. I went to bed in silence that night and still felt upset the day after!

Review: A Cure for Wellness (2017)

a-cure-for-wellness-movie-review-2017Some movies look really promising when you catch that first trailer, and then they fall off your radar. Some movies look like they’re definitely worth a watch, but when you see the runtime you feel put off. 5 months after it’s release in the UK, coming in at a whopper of 2 hours and 26 minutes, A Cure for Wellness hit both criteria for me! Thankfully, my Flick Chick Jenna came to stay over the weekend and recommend that we give it a go! It’s amazing how much easier a long movie is to watch when you can have several snack and chat pause breaks.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that A Cure for Wellness is a weird movie. Dane Dehaan plays an ambitious young executive known as Lockhart, sent by his company to retrieve their CEO from a mysterious wellness centre in the Swiss Alps. When he arrives, things seem a little…off. Although the residents are known as ‘guests’ free to leave whenever they wish, no one has actually ever left, and they all seem quite odd. In fact, you could almost say they look ill, which surely can’t be right?

Dane Dehaan has always reminded me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio for some reason, so with that in mind it was impossible to not try and compare this movie to Shutter Island. It has it’s similarities for sure, but they’re very different movies.

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Perhaps it was the dessert and the company, but I didn’t feel like this was a particularly long movie. There were definitely scenes that didn’t add much to the narrative of the story, but what they did provide was their ability to give you the creeps. There’s a mystery to solve here in the mountains, and the pieces of the puzzle are fed to us slowly in a way that helps us put it all together, but the atmosphere of it all leaves us wondering if we can trust our own judgement or not, which is exactly what’s happening to Lockhart.

Some scenes are difficult to watch, and one in particular (involving a dentists chair and a drill!) was impossible! We had to cover our ears, look away and make noises until it was all over. I peeked every now and again, and wished I didn’t.

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Is it the best mystery/thriller out there? No, and I feel like it might even be a bit of a love/hate kind of movie for most, but there was enough here to keep me interested and guessing as to how it might end. I think I had a much better experience watching it with someone – I don’t think I could have put up with it solo. Right at the very end we’re left with a very confusing scene which opens up a whole bunch of questions. My favourite thing about these kind of endings is that everyone will have their own take on it!

I was pleasantly surprised by The Cure for Wellness, and so it gets 4 out of 5 glasses of water (that you should absolutely NOT drink) from me.

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Book Review: Dark Matter, Blake Crouch

It sure has been a while since I wrote a post about a book I’ve recently finished! It’s not entirely because I stopped reading, either. I actually started reading the Mr Mercedes trilogy by Stephen King, and by the time I got to writing about it I was half way through book 2, and thought I may as well do a whole post for the trilogy at that point. While I attempt to put my thoughts on it into words though, I managed to whizz through another book in less than a week, and I loved it so much I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about it!

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If you haven’t heard the name Blake Crouch, you might have heard of the TV Show Wayward Pines, based on a trilogy of books of the same name, written by, you guessed it, Blake Crouch! I’d like to read the trilogy at some point, but when I put my hit list together at the start of the year, Dark Matter was my Science Fiction pick. I’ve never read a Sci-Fi novel before so I was quite cautious, especially as I get quite baffled by the complexity of some Sci-Fi movies.

So what’s Dark Matter all about? Similar to Wayward Pines, the less you know the better, but I’ll fill you in as best as I can. Jason Dessen is an average, everyday man. He’s happily married to a beautiful wife, they have a Son together and live in a comfortable brownstone house in the city of Chicago. Jason had the potential when he was younger to be a brilliant scientist, and his wife Daniela was an aspiring artist, but they both had to give up their dreams when their child came along.

One night, as Jason is on his way home from a bar, he’s kidnapped, forced to drive to an abandoned warehouse, told to strip off and is attacked and injected with something that puts him out cold. He awakens in a laboratory filled with scientists congratulating him on his work. When he escapes, understandably confused, he realises the world he’s in isn’t his own. His home is there, but it isn’t his, Daniela is there, but she isn’t his wife.

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It’s that kind of book that grips you from the word go, thanks to this character Jason who is likeable and relatable in so many ways. Just when you think you’ve got a grip on what’s happening, the rug is pulled out from under your feet, and just when you think you’ve grasped the scientific elements to the story, something else is thrown at you that flummoxes you completely.

I was so hooked that I was reading every night until I quite literally fell asleep into my tablet screen!

I’ve since read that the movie rights have been bought, but nothing’s actually happened. I almost hope it stays that way. This book is far too complex to be packed into a 2-hour movie, but it would be fantastic to watch for sure. It would work so much better as a mini-series, something perhaps smaller than Fargo and a little bigger than The Night Manager.

Has anyone else read Dark Matter? What did you think?

Review: Song to Song (2017)

Remember how literally just a few days ago I said I was struggling to name 5 movies that I really didn’t enjoy this year so far? Remember how my list was half-hearted because I didn’t truly hate any of them, I was just disappointed by them? That I actually missed hate-writing about a movie? Turns out the movie gods were listening that day, because they delivered Song to Song.

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I’ve heard that Terrence Malick movies are often controversial, and a quick check on IMDB confirmed what I thought – until now I haven’t seen a single one of his movies. I gotta say, there were none that really shouted out to me either, but there was no way I could ignore Song to Song. Here’s what I knew:
– Music was a strong feature (I’ve been spoiled by John Carney movies)
– It was set in Austin, Texas (I got to go there for work once and had an amazing time)
– The cast was excellent (Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling & Michael Fassbender)
– It was described as a modern day love story

What could possibly go wrong?

It all started out okay to be honest. It felt a bit qwirky, a bit weird. It was a little raunchy too, so ticks in all the boxes from me. My eyes struggled to adjust to the fact that no single shot seemed to last any longer than 5 seconds, but I thought I’d get used to it. I had over 2 hours of movie to get used to it!

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About 20 minutes in, it all just went to hell. I couldn’t work out what was going on anymore. I thought it was established that Rooney Mara’s character was together with Michael Fassbender’s, but then she fell for Ryan Gosling. It seemed like some weird love triangle, because Ryan Gosling seemed way more interested in bro’ing it up with Michael Fassbender, but then he got married to Natalie Portman and…are you still reading?

This entire movie hurt my head. None of the characters ever seemed to talk much, or even smile. I’m sorry but, how can you fall in love with someone if all you do is float around silently, looking at them with the face and flair of a catwalk model? It’s infuriating!

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I actually gave up at the mid way point and turned the movie off. I thought I could be satisfied with not knowing how the story ended, or wasting another hour of my life whilst risking permanent frown lines from the face I pulled the entire time watching. Alas, the next day the completionist in me couldn’t take it anymore and I watched the rest. Did it get any better? No. Was it worth it? I got to see Ryan Gosling make a turkey out of a napkin (actually one of my favourite party tricks) so there was that.

I’m really sorry to actual, legit movie critics who understood this movie and what it was about, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea at all. 1 and a half napkins from me…you can turn them into turkeys yourself, or ask Ryan Gosling to show you how!

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