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!

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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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The 5 Worst Movies of 2017…So Far

This is slightly later than I was expecting, but I’m back! A few days ago I posted my 5 Best Movies of 2017 so far, and now I’m here with the worst. This is what’s strange though. It’s actually been REALLY difficult to scrape 5 movies together. Not because of trying to whittle them down to 5, but I just haven’t seen many bad movies so far! I’m putting that down to the fact I’m behind on recent releases and so I’ve concentrated on recommendations so far.

I almost wussed out and did a list of 4 but that just felt wrong, so I do have 5 movies for you. However! Take some of these with a pinch of salt, because the first 2 picks aren’t that bad at all, they’re just mediocre enough to make this list.

Oh, and another quick reminder, I go by UK release dates!

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#5 Despicable Me 3 

This is what I mean. So I actually quite enjoyed watching Despicable Me 3. Is it something I’ll ever watch again? Probably not. Oh wait, of course I will. Sometime soon my life is going to full of kids movies. The story is a little too simple. the plot predictable, and despite me not being a fan of their solo movie, the minions are still the funniest part. Nonetheless, I did quite enjoy Agnes’ quest to find a real unicorn! Did they really need to tie it in with that other Dreamworks movie, Sing?! Ugh.

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#4 Before I Fall

Again, this movie isn’t so bad, it’s just quite forgettable. It’s the teenage-angst version of Groundhog Day, basically. A good premise, and again an ending I didn’t see coming, but the problem with these kind of movies comes with the repetition. How many times do you want to watch the same girl’s school ritual? Let’s just put these kind of movies in the same lock box as all the Freaky Friday ones. Funnily enough, the day after I saw this I spotted the trailer for Happy Death Day, so I guess these Groundhog Day movies are making a comeback. Sigh.

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#3 Fifty Shades Darker

As a warm-blooded female, I’m really kind of neutral on the whole Fifty Shades business, I can enjoy the series for what it is, and it’s always a good excuse for a girls movie night, in or out. Whereas the first movie was quite funny however (intentional or not, who knows) this one lacked, and it was really quite obvious where its origins were, badly-written fanfiction. That ending was cringey as hell!

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#2 Fist Fight

Eh, I kind of knew Fist Fight would end up in a list like this before I watched it, but I don’t mind sitting through an hour and a half of comedy with Ice Cube and Charlie Day. It has a few funny moments, mostly the same moments that were in the trailers, but it mostly falls flat. Enjoyable at the time, but I’m not going to remember this one in a year’s time.

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#1 Baywatch

It ENRAGES me how bad this movie was. ENRAGES me. I LOVE Dwayne Johnson, and I’m 100% on his side for calling out the critics on their crap. But this wasn’t the movie to do that on the back of. All the elements of a decent summer comedy were there, so why did it suck so hard? Most of the jokes were completely forgotten the second I left the cinema, and not even Zac Efron’s body could save the day. I never thought I’d say this but honey, you need to put on a little weight!

Sigh. Last year’s list was so much more fun to write, because my hatred was so strong, but this list feels kind of meh. Why I’m complaining I don’t know, surely all we want to see are great movies? But there’s a weird joy in hate-writing about bad movies, and I haven’t had that yet this year. Send me your terrible suggestions folks!

My Top 5 Road Trip Movies – With Drew’s Movie Reviews

The ever wonderful Drew at Drew’s Movie Reviews invited me to write a guest post with him for his blog, and we decided upon Road Trip Movies! I urge you to check out his original post here. However, if you don’t follow him already (are you crazy?) then here’s a summary of our picks:

I so wish road trips were more of a thing in the UK. I guess the main problem is that we’re just a tiny little island, and our roads kind of suck. Nevermind though, because I get to live the dream through movies! These are my top 5 road trip movies.

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#5 Paul (2011)
Speaking of British folk who dream of an American road trip, that’s what Paul is all about! Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play 2 comic book geeks travelling across the US, ticking landmarks off their bucket list. Everything kind of goes haywire when they encounter an actual alien outside of Area 51. It’s not up there with Shaun of the Dead, but you can always count on this duo to make a comedy worth watching!

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#4 Borat (2006)
How is this movie 11 years old now? Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat, sent on a trip to the US to report on what Kazakhstan TV says is the greatest country in the world. It preys on people who have no idea it’s a fictional movie, it’s innappropriate, but it’s funny as hell and stole the hearts of many of us Brits, including me. It spawned a lot of copycat movies which were terrible, but this one stands strong.

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#3 Chef (2014)
Chef is the ultimate food porn movie, the kind of movie you absolutely cannot watch unless you’ve just eaten a full meal, and even then your stomach will surprise you by rumbling! It’s also a beautiful, heart warming story about a chef played by Jon Favreau who quits his job and takes a trip with his son across the US in a food truck. Isn’t that just the perfect to travel?

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#2 Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
It’s impossible to explain Little Miss Sunshine to anyone without making it sound like the most depressing movie ever. A family take a road trip to take their chubby, uncoordinated daughter to a beauty pageant. Along for the ride is their Uncle who recently tried to commit suicide and well, I’ll let the rest be a surprise if you haven’t seen it before. It’s one of those rare movies that absolutely nails the blend of drama and comedy.

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#1 National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
National Lampoon’s Vacation isn’t just the greatest family road trip movie ever. It might just be my #1 movie of all time. I can’t tell you how many times I watched this as a child. You don’t need to have had a road trip to identify with this one, just any holiday will do, or even any car journey spent with family. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and it holds up surprisingly well after all these years.

In fact, I love this movie so much that part of our Californian Honeymoon last year involved a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain, which you may not know is where the fictional theme park Walley World in National Lampoon’s Vacation was set. Whilst there we managed to recreate this famous scene!

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Here are Drew’s picks, in his own words (in italics to save confusion)

drewpost15) Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber is the kind of film that, on paper, seems like it should fail. Two dimwits travel across the country to deliver a briefcase that one of them thought was left behind by mistake. However, it is one of the funniest films from the 90s and one of Jim Carrey’s best films. And that is why it works, because of Carrey and Jeff Daniels. They have a chemistry that feels genuine. It gives the film a lot of heart that it might not have otherwise. As Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) travel to Aspen, Colorado, they cause all kinds of mayhem that garner some great laughs.

4) The Cannonball Rundrewpost2

I feel like The Cannonball Run is a forgotten 1980s gem. Released in the early 80s, it stars some of the biggest stars of the time, including Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore, and many others. I feel that of all the movie genres, comedies differ the most between eras and act as a timecapsule of their era. Every decade seems to have their own flavor or sense of humor. I mention that because it is very different from a comedy you would find these days, but I love it. It is much more subtle, think along the lines of The Naked Gun. I can honestly say they don’t make them like this anymore.

drewpost33) Finding Nemo

You might not think of Finding Nemo as a road trip film but it has all the classic staples of a traditional road trip film. A group of people traveling to a destination together? Check. Film has many side characters who only show up for a scene or two? Check. Group feels closer at end of film? Check. What makes this Pixar classic a classic are the characters and their story. Merlin just wants to find his missing son, Nemo. Along the way, he runs into the forgetful Dory, who joins him on his search. The story is so simple but it works. By following the road trip formula, Pixar was able to really explore the characters that would not have worked as well in another way.

2) Planes, Trains and Automobilesdrewpost4

A John Hughes classic. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the movie on this list I saw for the first time most recently. I don’t know how it took me so long to watch this movie. Both Steve Martin and John Candy have been favorite comedic actors of mine and the two of them are absolutely fantastic together. Their chemistry is some of the best in any comedy film. Even after seeing it several times now, I still can’t help but laugh at Neal Page’s (Martin) misfortune and Del Griffith’s (Candy) good-natured clumsiness. This was very close to being my number one spot but it was barely inched out by another John Hughes film.

drewpost51) National Lampoon’s Vacation

Ah, the OG road trip movie (probably not, don’t quote me on that). I think I was drawn to National Lampoon’s Vacation based on the movie poster / cover art, honestly. How can that be called anything less than epic? This is one of those films that anyone can relate to. Clark just wants to give his family the perfect vacation, his wife Ellen wants to get to Walley World in one piece, while their children, Rusty and Audrey, would rather be anywhere else. The Griswolds are constantly finding themselves in precarious situations that you can’t help but laugh it. If you ever think your family has problems, watch this film and you’ll instantly feel better.

Honorary mentions include Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Tommy Boy, Fanboys, and Zombieland.

But wait, there’s more! Here’s Allie again to tell you about it:

Now, it was my suggestion to Drew that we throw in a little something extra into this post for a bit of fun. My question was, if you could go on holiday or vacation anywhere from a movie, either fictional or real, where would you go? I probably should have thought about my answer before suggesting that because that’s why my part of this post has taken so long to write! Thinking of things I’ve watched recently though, I would absolutely love to explore the island of Themyscira, from Wonder Woman (2017). I haven’t had a true beach holiday in years, and that island looked stunning. Plus, I’m not exactly going to complain if Chris Pine just happened to wash up on the shore whilst I was sipping a cocktail!

A place I would really like to go would be the Republic capital planet of Coruscant. However, that might be a little bit further of a trip than Allie had in mind. So instead, I would travel to Hogwarts. It would be fun to see the best school of witchcraft and wizardry the UK has to offer. Not to mention driving through that picturesque country side.