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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Thursday Movie Picks: Unrecognizable Actor Transformation

Thursday Movie Picks

It’s the first Thursday Movie Picks of the month, and it’s April already! Excuse me 2019 but where do you think you’re going? Can we slow down a little? I’m not ready to face my 30th Birthday yet…

This week in the series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves we’re talking about unrecognizable actor transformations. Sometimes it isn’t enough for actors to mentally transform themselves for a role, they have to change themselves physically too, and that’s really quite incredible to me. Trying to eat sensibly a couple of weeks before a wedding is daunting enough!

Anyway, without further ado, here are my picks this week…

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Christian Bale, The Machinist (2004)

Let’s be honest, we could all fill our lists simply with Christian Bale roles this week. The man is nothing but committed to his job. But none of his transformations shocked me more than his in The Machinist. It’s one thing to lose some weight for a role, but he looked like a corpse! He went down to 110 pounds for the role which is shocking enough, but the role he took on next? Batman Begins! Talk about yo-yo dieting! For what it’s worth, The Machinist is a fantastic, twisty movie. I’ve seen it twice now and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

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Tom Hanks, Cast Away (2000)

I spent a long time in the shower hiding from my toddler thinking of options for the theme this week when I suddenly remembered Cast Away. I haven’t seen it for years but it was possibly the first Tom Hanks movie I ever saw. During pre-production, Tom Hanks put on 50 pounds in order to appear middle-aged, and then he was given a year off to transform himself into a real cast away. He stopped shaving and cutting his hair, and shed 55 pounds with a tough diet and exercise regime. I’m feeling hungry just thinking about it.

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Matthew Lewis, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

I can’t talk about dieting anymore, so let’s turn to the biggest transformation shocker of the Harry Potter universe, the moment Matthew Lewis turned into bumbling fool to stunning heartthrob. Okay, his transformation may be something he didn’t really have any control over, but at the time he was living proof for all awkward teenagers that there was hope for us yet!

The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin

Continuing my reading mission with the help of Amazon’s 99p daily deals, I found myself reading The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin. It’s a warm a fuzzy piece of fiction and very different to my usual go-to genre, but it sounded quite charming when I read the description and at such a bargain price I couldn’t really go wrong.

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Nora’s Grandmother has recently passed away and with her mother off traveling around the world, it’s left to her to sort through the house in Dublin and its treasure trove of belongings. Just before Nora leaves she finds out her partner has been cheating on her, so she arrives in Dublin in quite a state. In her 6 month stay, she sets up a shop to sell her grandparent’s belongings, using her artistic talent to create beautiful shop window displays. As she meets more people as they visit the shop, she learns more about her grandmother’s mysterious past.

Yes, there’s a mystery involved. I just can’t help myself, but at least it’s not a murder amongst friends that’s being written about for a change. I hope I haven’t made the book sound boring because it’s anything but. It’s a beautifully charming read and I enjoyed it from start to finish. Nora is a wonderful character who I think almost anyone could relate to or look up to, and there’s a wealth of side characters with interesting stories of their own.

In fact, that’s my only criticism of the book. There are so many characters thrown in that sometimes I had to go back and re-read a few pages to try and work out who I was reading about. Eventually, though each one is linked to either Nora herself or Nora’s family in some way, so it all makes sense eventually.

The ending does find itself at risk of being a little too melodramatic and ‘romcom-y’ but by the time I got that far I found myself so invested in the characters that I didn’t mind too much. In fact, I was actually kind of gutted when I reached the end because I wasn’t ready to leave Nora behind, I wanted to stay with her!

I definitely recommend The Memory Shop, if it’s your usual kind of read or even if it isn’t, I’m sure there’s some element here you’ll enjoy.

Mini Reviews: Movies Watched in March

March has been one of my best movie watching months for a long time now! My home life in general is looking up again, I’ve been able to make it to the cinema a whopping 7 times and when I’ve stayed home I’ve felt awake enough to actually sit through a whole movie. That all sounds very normal I know, but I’ve had a rocky start to the year so it’s so nice to be feeling normal again!

Anyway, as per usual it’s too time-consuming to write a full review for everything that I watch, so here is a collection of mini reviews for the movies I watched in March but haven’t mentioned on the blog yet.

mini-review-isnt-it-romantic-2019-netflix

Isn’t It Romantic (2019)

Will we ever get bored with the ‘head injury causes weird and magical things to happen’ genre? I don’t think I will, because this entry by Rebel Wilson was surprisingly good! It’s a rom-com that makes fun of rom-coms and although it starts to lose its charm towards the end it’s still a decent comedy. I’ll never be able to hear the word ‘beguiling’ without laughing though now.

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Holmes & Watson (2018)

I’m pretty sure everyone who watched this movie said it was the worst movie of 2018. So why did I watch it? I kind of love Will Ferrell, and comedy can be really subjective so I thought there was a chance I might enjoy it. No – you were all right, it was terrible. The worst part is that my husband actually kind of loved it and keeps quoting vulgar lines from it around the house.

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Happy Death Day (2017)

I avoided it for so long because I assumed it would be one of those fairly terrible horrors riddled with pointless jump scares. Thankfully, the bloggerverse correctly informed me it’s more of a comedy, and the sequel is kind of awesome, so I listened to you all and gave it a go. It started off a little scary but other than that it’s not bad at all. I actually liked the sequel even more!

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What Men Want (2019)

Taraji P. Henson is an absolute queen, but not even she could save this mess. It takes way too long before her character is able to hear the thoughts of all the men around her, and although it gets funnier from that point, it was a bit of a case of too little, too late. Tracy Morgan is basically playing Tracy Jordan and all I took home was the feeling that I wanted to rewatch 30 Rock.

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Fisherman’s Friends (2019)

Yes, I willingly went to the cinema to watch a bunch of old guys living in Cornwall sing sea shanties. It was a slow week for new releases, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Cornwall over the years on holiday so I gave it a chance. I was the youngest audience member by at least 30 years but do you know what? It wasn’t half bad. Your typical, charming little British movie.

In case you missed any, these are the movies I watched in March that actually got proper reviews:

Cold Pursuit (2019)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Magic in the Moonlight (2014)
Captain Marvel (2019)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Triple Frontier (2019)
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
Us (2019)