Frank & Lola (2016)

frank-and-lola-movie-review-2016-posterDirector: Matthew Ross

Genre: Drama, Romance

Runtime: 88 Minutes

Main Cast: Michael Shannon, Imogen Poots, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Nyqvist, Justin Long, Emmanuelle Devos

Plot: Usually I try to sum up the plot myself but the IMDB version is so beautiful it would be a shame not to use it: A psychosexual noir love story, set in Las Vegas and Paris, about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption.

My Thoughts: Does anyone else find that their watchlist only seems to grow bigger, no matter how many movies you watch? Last year I was up to about 50 and I vowed that by New Year’s I would have watched every movie on it. I think I managed about 3, and as of right now there are 55 movies in my watchlist. Argh! Maybe this year will be my year? Anyway, I’m working my way through in order starting from the movies first added.

Frank & Lola was next, and being a 2016 release means that it’s been on my list for 3 years now. So long in fact that I can’t recall what made me put it there in the first place! Anyway, Frank & Lola is a quiet and dark little romance story, not like anything else I’ve really seen. One thing I can say for certain is that Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots put in amazing performances as two troubled individuals brought together.

The first half of the movie was captivating, I wondered what was going to go wrong next, whether the admission by Lola was completely true, and just to what lengths Frank would go to get revenge, but even though it’s only a short movie, it just couldn’t hold my interest long enough unfortunately. A beautiful little movie, but just not for me.

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Best Bit: I don’t think there’s ever been a movie or TV show where I’ve been disappointed when Justin Long turns up. Whether he’s bringing some laughs or turning up the awkward factor as is the case here, I’m always happy to see him!

Worst Bit: There’s no particular bad bit, to be honest, I just felt like the movie showed its hand too soon and my concentration drifted for the last half an hour.

Fun Trivia: Director Matthew Ross had been trying to make this film for ten years prior to its release in 2016. Imogen Poots (Lola) admitted that his dedication attracted her to the project and it was a large deciding factor in her signing on.

My Rating: 2 and a half sets of chef’s knives which, when wielded by a stern looking Michael Shannon wanting blood, are absolutely terrifying!

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Missing Link (2019)

missing-link-movie-review-poster-2019Director: Chris Butler

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family

Runtime: 95 Minutes

Main Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Timothy Olyphant, Matt Lucas, David Walliams

Plot: Sir Lionel Frost is desperate to join the Adventurer’s Guild and gain the respect he deserves. Mr Link is the last of his kind and longs to find his long-lost relatives in Shangri-La. Together, the two team up to help each other with their dreams.

My Thoughts: I’ve always had a soft spot for animated movies, and a fascination for stop motion. It absolutely blows my mind the amount of work and effort that goes into it, and when technology is at a place now that a similar effect could probably be created digitally, it’s a blessing that Laika Studios still make their animations this way. Hours and hours of work just to create a couple of seconds of footage! Anyway, let’s talk about Missing Link.

After falling head over heels for their last movie, Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) I was dead excited to see Missing Link, especially with that voice cast! Sadly the movie didn’t have many showings at my local and I doubt it’ll even be in the cinema very long in the UK, despite the marketing effort. It was a great movie, but it doesn’t beat Kubo for me, mainly because that gut-punch of emotions was missing.

Still, Missing Link has one of those stories that is simple enough for the younger audience with enough jokes for the adults to enjoy too. Don’t expect anything too deep and just enjoy the adventure and you’re bound to have a good time! Laika are on an absolute roll, and I can’t wait to see what they make next.

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Best Bit: I loved how Mr Link took everything Frost said literally. “Throw this rope over the wall”. He throws the entire lot, grapple hook included, over the wall and as stupid as it was it just tickled me and I laughed embarrassingly loudly. There’s also the scene where Mr Link gets to pick his own name, and that was just as funny!

Worst Bit: You can probably tell by now I loved this mostly for the animation. But what didn’t sit right with me was the look of Adelina’s character. She just didn’t seem to quite fit in with the style of every other human character in the movie and it was kind of distracting at times.

Fun Trivia: Missing Link is the first Laika film to feature an all adult cast, where the last four films, all the lead roles have been performed by children.

My Rating: 4 out 5 green tweed waistcoats which Mr Link can just about squeeze into. Those poor buttons!

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Pet Sematary (2019)

pet-sematary-movie-poster-review-2019Director: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Main Cast: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Lucas Lavoie, Hugo Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Maria Herrera

Plot: In the woods near a family’s home lies a cemetery for pets, and beyond it, a mysterious piece of land where whatever is buried there comes back to life, but not the same as they were before.

My Thoughts: I got cocky. I found peace with the horror genre and have seen and enjoyed a lot of the modern horror movies that got a lot of praise. I guess I decided that I’m now a converted horror fan and can deal with anything, which is how I found myself at the cinema to see Pet Sematary on opening night. I know I’m a wimp but it really scared me! It’s the tension, I can’t handle it.

With my critic hat on, the movie was alright. It’s based on a Stephen King novel so you know the story is going to be good, but I got the feeling a lot of the detail got missed out. If anything, it’s made me want to read the book. At least that can’t scream or hiss at me. The biggest problem I have is that every interesting part about the movie was in the trailer. If you’ve seen it, you’ve honestly seen the whole movie, which is a shame really. It’s a famous story so they surely didn’t need to give away so many details.

John Lithgow was the star of the show for me, I forgot how good of an actor he is actually. His character had the most depth, but again I feel like there was so much backstory that got left out. It’s not like the movie was too long and had to be cut down, I’d have happily sat there for another 10 minutes. That’s a lie, I practically ran back to my car…

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Best Bit: When Louis was at the hospital trying to save the lad who had literally lost half of his face/head, the moment that followed was the only scare that took me and everyone else by surprise. Those are the cinema moments I love, when everyone collectively jumps and then there’s a mumble of nervous laughter.

Worst Bit: Someone really cranked the fog machine up to 11, didn’t they? It looked a bit silly. Also, when I got home just before 11pm, my neighbour suddenly appeared behind my car and scared the living daylights of me. Then, when I stepped inside, my cat was sat on the stairs directly in front of me, staring at me. Because of course he was. Jerk.

Fun Trivia: When Rachel is returning home from Boston, there is a highway sign that says “Derry 20 miles”. An Easter egg for “IT”.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 speeding lorries that are to blame for most of the trauma in this movie. Surely someone in the town should report the drivers?!

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Life Itself (2018)

life-itself-movie-review-2018-posterDirector: Dan Fogelman

Genre: Drama, Romance

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Antonio Banderas, Laia Costa, Alex Monner, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot: Will and Abby fall in love at college, get married and have a child. But after a cruel twist of nature, tragedy befalls them and the aftershocks affect more people around them throughout the years.

My Thoughts: I don’t know why, but this week I’ve been making an attempt to catch up on the movies I missed which have been hailed as being terrible – it’s an odd hobby but there’s a certain guilty pleasure about awful movies. I’ve seen Serenity (2019) but I can’t put my thoughts into words on that yet. Today I’m talking about Life Itself, but let me share an odd fact about myself first. When I was a kid I’d let my thoughts run away with me. I’d wake up in the night needing the toilet but I was afraid I would wake my parents, and my thoughts continued until I’d caused World War 3 just by having a wee at 2am.

It feels like that’s the kind of message this movie is going for. One small event can lead to much bigger consequences. Or maybe not. Who the hell knows, because this movie is all over the place. I didn’t hate it though, I actually almost loved it. During the opening scenes, I was baffled as to why the movie was so hated. I’d like Samuel L. Jackson to narrate my life, please. I also would have quite happily watched a drunken Oscar Isaac singing in a cafe for the entire movie because the biggest problem for me was the start of the movie was the best part.

If you’re looking for a sappy rom-com this certainly isn’t it, it’s one of the most depressing things I’ve ever watched, but there is at least a beautiful message at the end of it all that brings some hope to the melancholy. From what I’ve read, the haters have called it ‘2018’s Collateral Beauty’ and I can’t argue with that. I guess the problem is I really enjoyed that movie!

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Best Bit: Any of the scenes with Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde together. They’re so sickeningly cute, and their dog has the best name ever. Can we please have the rom-com we deserve?

Worst Bit: Once the story switched over to the Gonzales family, that’s where it started to lose me. They were introduced too late into the movie for me to invest in them and so to be brutally honest I just didn’t care that much for their drama.

Fun Trivia: During the writing of the film, Dan Fogelman listened to Bob Dylan’s album Time Out of Mind and in particular the song Love Sick, which opens the film. Written after the divorce of the singer of his second wife, this double album, dating from 1997, speaks of love and mourning with melancholy.

My Rating: 3 double espressos in large cups, that a drunken Oscar Isaac will want to pour 2 healthy measures of whiskey into before staggering about, trying to serenading you.

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Dumbo (2019)

dumbo-movie-review-2019-disneyDirector: Tim Burton

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 112 Minutes

Main Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Roshan Seth, Sharon Rooney

Plot: Dumbo the elephant is born into the circus and although initially shunned for his extraordinarily large ears, he soon becomes the star of the show thanks to his ability to fly. The circus is bought out by a wealthy man with sinister plans, and all Dumbo wants is to find his Mother.

My Thoughts: I was never a huge fan of the original Dumbo as a child, it just didn’t appeal to me. However, Disney are running at full speed with their live-action remakes right now and as a Disney fan, there’s not going to be a single remake I don’t go and see within a week of its opening. I’m weak! I’ve mostly really enjoyed the remakes so far but I didn’t love Dumbo.

Now Dumbo himself is absolutely adorable. Why all these people in the movie mocked him I don’t know! The biggest problem is that the movie focuses too much on the human characters and not Dumbo himself. Colin Farrell is fun to watch as a struggling Father, and Danny DeVito is right at the top of his game, his character was one of the best parts of the whole movie. The kids are quite annoying though and Michael Keaton’s character was so terrible he was funny in the wrong sense. I thought at several moments that his hair was about to slide off his head!

It gets better as it goes on though, and I did enjoy it on the whole. Considering how I wasn’t fussed about the original I liked the remake more than I expected to, it just felt lacking. Where was the ol’ Disney humour? Also, this is directed by Tim Burton. Really? One of the reasons I worried about the remake was that he would make it too weird, but nothing about the movie cried Tim Burton to me.

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Best Bit: There was a kid sat near me, no older than 5, who had already been told off by his parents for being a general nuisance. 10 minutes into the movie he shouted out “I’ve finished my sweets, I’ve finished my popcorn, and now I’ve got nothing else to do but watch this boring movie!” I damn near choked from laughter!
But seriously, there’s an adorable scene where Dumbo watches these dancing bubbles in the shape of elephants…and it’s so, so beautiful.

Worst Bit: I mentioned Michael Keaton already, didn’t I? I mean, he looked like he was having a grand old time but he was just so ridiculous. There’s also a moment where Colin Farrell seemingly travels on a horse through a busy city just as fast as Dumbo flies over the water…yeah, okay.

Fun Trivia: There was a swear jar on set. Whenever an actor cursed, they needed to put money in the jar. At the end of shooting, the total was given to charity. Allegedly, Colin Farrell was the worst offender and was responsible for the majority of the money.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 feathers…I don’t know whether it’s those or my hayfever kicking in but I can’t stop sneezing today!

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