Review: A Ghost Story (2017)

a-ghost-story-movie-review-2017It’s October! It’s that time of year when I put on my big girl pants, man up a little and watch a few scary movies. Last year was a huge success (for a wimp like me!) as I watched It Follows, Krampus, The Babadook, and even the classic, Psycho. This year I’d quite like to outdo myself, but instead I’ve started on one big fail. Look at that poster! It looks terrifying, right? Only here’s the thing – A Ghost Story isn’t even a horror movie. Doh.

That’s my fault for walking in blind really, but I’ve always stood by my opinion that it’s the best way to go into a movie. So no, A Ghost Story isn’t a horror, instead it’s a cracking little indie movie about a ghost trapped in his home, forced to simply stand by and watch as time flies by.

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play a young couple with troubles in their relationship, which are only made worse when Casey Affleck’s character is killed in a car accident. He wakes up in the hospital as a ghost in the most recognisable way, under a sheet with holes cut out as eyes. After he walks back home, he watches Rooney Mara’s character deal with the aftermath and eventually moves out of the house, leaving behind a note hidden in the wall – something she’s enjoyed doing all her life.

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It took a good half an hour for this movie to really kick in and get interesting for me, I’ll admit. I started to wonder what the point was, and some of the shots were almost painfully long in that arty kind of way. It also took me a while to work out why the director would choose to film in an aspect ratio of 1:33:1, but during some scenes I felt genuinely claustrophobic, and then the reason became clear.

I don’t want to talk too much about the rest of the story, because I think you should go in knowing as little as you can but the last 20 minutes or so completely baffled me. Just when you think you’ve got your head wrapped around what’s happening, you get the rug pulled out from under you, but in a simple sense, rather than a shocking, plot twist sense. It was one of those endings I had to read up on, and just like the choice of aspect ratio, it became immediately clear to me.

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Oh! I have to say, despite it not being a horror movie, I still have to say “screw you!” for the TWO jump scares that sneakily made their appearance…it’s a good job my due date is still nearly two weeks away because they gave me such a freight I swear they might have brought on contractions.

So really, other than the slow start, I really enjoyed A Ghost Story. It perhaps wasn’t the scary start to the month I was expecting, but I’m glad I gave it a go nonetheless. It gets 4 out of 5 sympathy pies from me, which is making me feel nauseous just thinking about it, because no one needs to watch Rooney Mara sobbing and demolishing an entire pie in a five minute shot.

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Review: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

reservoir-dogs-movie-review-1992Right, so I got myself back into watching movies with a couple of comedies, and I felt ready for something a little…meatier, for lack of a better word. It was when I was watching a quiz show with dinner one evening and a Quentin Tarantino related question popped up that I realised I still had a good few of his movies to get into, and my husband had been recommending Reservoir Dogs to me for years.

All I really knew going in was the movie was about a diamond heist gone wrong, and I’d say that’s all anyone really needs to know before giving this movie a go. After an introduction to each of the characters at a diner, the movie kicks in right after the heist when the team are making their way back to the meeting point, after the crime went horribly wrong. It’s suspected that one of the gang is in fact a police informant.

A highly regarded mystery movie that I haven’t seen yet?! How did this escape me for so long? You had me at suspect. I live for this kind of story – I’ll be blogging about my first Agatha Christie novel soon, but that’s another story for another post.

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So each of our suspects is known by a code name to do with a colour, which brings on an amusing scene whereby Steve Buscemi’s character is given the name Mr Pink. No guy wants to be pink, huh?

The pacing is super speedy, as we go from present day and the mystery unfolding to back in time when we as the viewer get to learn more about each of the team and how they got themselves into the heist. I won’t go into too much detail about the story or the outcome because you either know it like the back of your hand or you’ve never seen the movie – in which case you should hunt down a copy immediately!

What I found funny was how in my mind I kept comparing Reservoir Dogs to The Departed. Bare with me! I know they have little similarities – but in my mind, they ended similarly, in the sense that *spoiler* pretty much everyone died in the end *spoiler*. The funny part is that I really could not STAND the ending to The Departed, but thought the ending to Reservoir Dogs was clever, and most importantly, satisfying. I guess I just really hate Martin Scorsese movies without meaning to, or even having a good reason.

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All in all, I really enjoyed my latest Tarantino movie. I still have a few to go, and either Jackie Brown or Inglourious Basterds is next on my list. Anyone have a favourite out of those two?

For now – Reservoir Dogs gets 4 out of 5 decapitated ears from me. Urgh.

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Book Review: Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley

At the start of the year, when I decided 2017 was going to be my year of getting back into reading, I compiled a starting list for myself of 12 books all from different genres. The aim was to broaden my spectrum a little, to see if I could find love for a new genre, and generally to try some books I would never have given a second thought. I’ve gone through most of that list now, but the one that’s taken me the longest has been Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley.

Steven Rowley is most notably a paralegal and a screenwriter, but after writing a short story about the death of his dog, he was encouraged by his boyfriend to turn it into a novel and try to get it published.

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Lily and the Octopus is a real life story, based on the author’s dachshund named Lily. Lily’s owner Ted is a gay male in his 40’s still dealing with a painful breakup, when one morning he notices Lily isn’t very well, and has an ‘octopus’ on her head. If you’ve ever read a book or watched a movie about a tragic dog’s tale, you’ll know what that octopus actually is.

Admittedly, I nearly gave up on this book several times. It’s just not what I’m used to, and it takes a while to get sucked into the fantasy of it all, because the story is written from Ted’s perspective, where Lily can not only talk, but also play Monopoly and make smart remarks about pop culture. It’s a lot to get used to!

However, it’s not a very long book at 320 pages, and so most experienced readers (more than I) could probably burn through the story rather quickly. I struggled to warm to Ted, he’s quite a selfish character despite his love for Lily. The best example I can give is his annoyance whilst at his Sister’s wedding when people were paying more attention to the bride rather than him, because of the news about Lily’s deteriorating health.

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I can forgive that because of Lily herself, who is a little ray of sunshine in a gloomy world. As the book approached its inevitable end, I found myself ridiculously emotional. I thought that reading the words on the page rather than watching it happen on a screen would be easier to deal with, but if anything my imagination just made it all the more real.

I’m in two minds on whether I would recommend this book to be honest, it wasn’t my favourite, but gosh darn it will make you want to hug your pets tightly if you do. Proceed with caution, that’s all I’ll say on the matter!

Double Review: Rough Night (2017) & The House (2017)

What do you do when you haven’t got stuck into a great movie for a while, and you’re also mentally preparing yourself to get back into blogging and actually expressing opinions and thoughts on said movies? Switch your brain off and get stuck into 2 sub-par comedies of course!

Has 2017 had a great comedy yet? I’m behind so maybe I’ve missed it, or maybe I’m just losing my sense of humour. We’re definitely owed a few laughs though!

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Rough Night (2017)

There’s been a huge rise lately of female-centred comedies, which I am all for of course, but not all are hitting the mark. Rough Night features an all female cast (if we forget about the dead stripper) and even a past female relationship which wasn’t thrown in our faces which I definitely appreciate. However, what could have been a modern day Weekend at Bernies fell rather flat.

The main issue I found with Rough Night was the overall tone. It didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be. We’ve all seen the trailer, we know the group accidentally kill a stripper that comes to their home, but that scene itself was actually really dark…

Common sense got thrown out of the window and just when I started to get into the silliness of it all again, things got deep real fast and left me confused again. One thing I’ll say though is it wasn’t the disaster I thought it would be, and I actually quite enjoyed all of the main actresses, even if my beloved Kate McKinnon was a bit over the top. Stay with the credits for this one though, if nothing else made you laugh McKinnon’s song will!

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The House (2017)

I was dying to see The House ever since I saw a trailer. I had no visions of it being an outstanding comedy, but I loved the cast so much I was just happy knowing that I’d be able to see them all in something new.  In The House, Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell are parents struggling to afford their daughter’s tuition after her scholarship is taken away. They team up with their best friend, Jason Mantzoukas and set up their own casino.

So yeah, the funniest moments are all in the trailer. The plot is wafer thin and it’s predictable throughout. But it’s a fairly short movie by today’s standards at just under an hour and a half, and I’ve certainly spent the same amount of time doing worse things! My Parks and Rec senses were in overdrive in the town hall meeting scene with so many familiar faces, especially with Amy Poehler herself there!

I think my favourite running joke was Will Ferrell’s complete inability to count, or deal with math of any kind to be honest. I don’t know if it was as funny as it seemed to me or if it was one of the few jokes that just so happened to land, but it honestly made me laugh out loud each time. I’m easily amused I think!

How is 2017 doing comedy wise though overall? Are there some hidden gems I should hunt down or look forward to? The Big Sick (2017) was fantastic – but I need a laugh out loud comedy right now!

Going Off Topic (#7) Identity Crisis

This might just be the longest I’ve gone without blogging. Pregnancy is hard, you guys! I’ve got just less than 4 weeks till my due date now, and I’m at that point where I don’t remember what life was like not being pregnant. I don’t remember sleeping through the night without needing to pee, or being able to get off the sofa without effort, discomfort, and grunting noises.

I’ve watched very little movies lately – I just haven’t had the energy, and that got me thinking long and hard about what I want to do with this little blog of mine.

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First things first, I’m finding my passion for movies again. That happened fairly soon after a friend asked me about an upcoming release that I realised I hadn’t even heard of, let alone seen a trailer for or had on my watch list. I feel so out of the loop! It made me quite sad tell the truth, so that’s the start of getting back on top of things for me.

One thing I have been doing more of though is reading books. It might take me over a week to get through one because my reading time is so fragmented, but I haven’t loved reading so much since I was a kid in school, so I’d like to blog some more about what I’ve been reading.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I know fairly soon the life I know is going to be turned upside down. I love to write and I need to make more time for it, but my go-to subject of movies might get difficult to blog about for a while.

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I might start blogging more and more about my life in general, because it helps me, and it serves the purpose of a journal too – something I used to love doing when I was younger.

I’ll still blog about my hobbies as much as I can – but I hope you guys are also okay with me sharing some life stories more often than I normally do.

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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