Point Break (1991) vs. Point Break (2015)

I was feeling pretty blue last week, but a visit from my family and a chat about movies never fails to perk me up a bit. They’re forever taking recommendations from me, but this time I got some recommendations from them! Turns out one of my Mum’s favourite movies is Point Break (1991), a movie I’ve always known the name of but knew nothing about, and so not only did I give it a go last week, I also watched the 2015 remake so I could compare the two.

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Let me explain the plot of the original first just in case you haven’t seen it yet either. There’s a group of people robbing banks dressed as former Presidents of the US, and thanks to some footage from one of the crimes, one detective has the theory that the criminals are surfers. Keanu Reeves is an undercover cop that worms his way into the surf scene in Los Angeles and ultimately finds himself becoming close friends with the leader, played by Patrick Swayze.

No need to beat around the bush, it was fairly obvious that the gang that Keanu Reeves got himself in with was going to be the gang committing the crimes. But that’s not really the point, because this movie has so much else to offer. It has tension, action by the bucket-load and a romance that doesn’t feel unnecessary or forced. It also has one of the coolest scenes ever (Keanu Reeves on his back shooting at the sky) that I recognised from being spoofed and referenced in other things I’ve seen.

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I loved the ending, too. I thought it would end with the bad guys being caught, the good guys live happily ever after, blah blah blah, but the actual ending was a welcome surprise to me. Plus dare I admit it, I feel a Keanu Reeves obsession coming on. Is this the right time to admit I’ve never seen The Matrix?

Anyway, it was whilst on a high from seeing Point Break that I decided I would watch the 2015 remake. Oh what a stupid mistake that was! It’s impossible to write something coherent and intelligent about the differences, but allow me to list some of the things that annoyed me the most:

– New Keanu Reeves was blond and new Patrick Swayze was a brunette which confused the hell out of me constantly

– The actual bank robberies were mentioned briefly and that was it, rather than them playing a huge part of the story

– Any actual plot was thrown away in favour of stunts

– The only moments that were properly remade from the original were done in terrible ways. The moment Utah started shooting at the sky made me laugh it was so bad.

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Honestly, they could have just copied the movie frame by frame, word by word and it would have been better. I’m all for giving an old story a new lease of life but the best parts were trashed and replaced with crazy stunts just for the sake of action.

Put simply, it was LAME. I’ll stick with the original, thanks!

Bonus GIF:

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Review: Focus (2015)

focus-movie-review-2015It was time I took a break from catching up on as many award-nominated movies as possible, and watch something a little easier to digest, something that had been recommended to me by my movie-loving family (a long time ago, and on multiple occasions, sorry!). Time for Focus (2015)! Besides, who can turn down a Will Smith movie? I just love the guy.

Focus (2015) is a reasonably straight forward Crime/Drama movie in which Will Smith plays Nicky, a veteran con man takes an apprentice under his wing, Jess, played by Margot Robbie. A heated romance ensues, but without warning Nicky breaks up the relationship. 3 years later Jess shows back up whilst Nicky is in the middle of the biggest con of his career, and she throws him off track completely.

I feel like this movie was split into two distinctive halves. First we have an introduction of sorts into just how talented Nicky is not just with sleight of hand, but also psychology and suggestion. This was without a doubt my favourite part of the movie after a certain scene in which it is shown to us the audience the sheer level of work and skill that went into the con at the sports game. It’s like something Derren Brown would do!

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The second half leaves us wondering – Is Nicky conning Jess? Is Jess conning Nicky? It’s the more action packed half, and comes to an explosive conclusion. It might have been fairly predictable, but there was still one more twist that I didn’t see coming.

I think what makes Focus so enjoyable is the chemistry between Will Smith and Margot Robbie. They’re both people I love to see, but they work together so well! It reminded me that their relationship in Suicide Squad was what made it entertaining to be honest.

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My only complaint is that I wanted more of that first half. Watching the team work the crowds, lifting watches, jewellery, handbags and more from clueless victims. Seeing Nicky explain all the suggestions he left behind in the lead up to (and during) the sports game. I actually turned onto high alert after that part, wondering if the movie itself was doing that to us. Were there little details hidden throughout the movie that would lead up to something shocking we should have seen coming? That never happened, sadly.

Still, as a Saturday night movie with a glass of wine and a takeaway, you can do no wrong by watching Focus. It’s flashy, it’s fun, and you can brag to your family/friends if you manage to work out the ending before it’s too late, just like my Mum who’s very pleased with herself (proud of you, Mum!). From me, Focus gets 3.5 out of 5 things I stole from you whilst reading this. Psyche!

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Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018)

three-billboards-movie-review-2018Ah January, the time when cinemas around the world are filled with terrible movies…unless of course you live in the UK like me. January and February are the months when we finally get the award-nominated movies, and they’re the months that I desperately scrabble around to try and watch them all in time for the big Oscars night (and of course, fail). If there was one movie that I couldn’t miss however, it was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Thanks to being away from the movie world for so long, I only actually heard about this movie last week, but it’s been advertised everywhere now! From what I could tell, it looked bat-shit crazy and had one of the best casts I’ve ever seen, and I was right on the money with those assumptions.

Mildred (Frances McDormand) lost her daughter in a rape and murder case, and after 7 months with no arrests or even leads, she reaches the end of her tether and hires three billboards, outside her town of Ebbing, Missouri no less, to send a message to the Chief of Police Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). Problem is, Willoughby is very well respected within the community, and he’s also dying of cancer, which leads to a lot of public outrage against Mildred.

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Then we have Dixon (Sam Rockwell), a hotheaded cop who’s also a bit of a simpleton…and a racist. Sam Rockwell is an absolute legend here and I’m so glad he’s picking up a lot of attention in the awards season! To tell you anymore about the story here would be an injustice as there’s a lot of twists and turns along the way, but it’s a thrilling ride.

What’s so great about Three Billboards is how perfectly it crosses the line between a hard-hitting, emotional drama, and hilarious black comedy. In fact, as I was watching it all I could think about was In Bruges (2008) and lo and behold, both movies are written and directed by the same guy, Martin McDonagh! Does that make me a real movie fan, being able to pick up on similarities like that?! Just let me pretend…

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I was pretty sure I knew how it would all end, but I was still a little gutted when my suspicions were right. When the rest of the movie was so shocking, I guess I was hoping for a shocking ending too, that’s all. Regardless, this is a cracking movie that I’ll be watching again for sure, and recommending to as many friends and family as possible!

This messes up my usual ranking system of out of 5, but how could I score this movie any differently? 2 and a half billboards out of 3 from me (but really it’s a 4.5/5).

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P.S. I want to be Frances McDormand when I grow up. Lady is a badass.

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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TV Rambles: Fargo Season 3

Aw geez, I’ve been looking forward to Season 3 of Fargo even more than Game of Thrones this year and I can’t believe it’s already over! Where did 10 weeks go? I deliberately stayed away from every bit of news as I could so everything would be a surprise. In fact, by the time Episode 1 aired, all I actually knew was that it starred Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

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I gotta say, the first half of Episode 1 didn’t get me at all. I loved the fact McGregor was playing both brothers, but I felt like so much information was being thrown at me with no links whatsoever. That all changed the second David Thewlis came onto screen. I had no idea he was even in this season and it took a full minute for my brain to register it was even him. What a character! It was a wild ride from that moment on.

Just like the previous seasons, this one is an entirely new story set in an entirely different year, but still linked to the bigger Fargo universe. Also joining the cast is Carrie Coon, a newbie to me, playing Gloria Burgle. Gloria is the former Chief of the local police department, and together with traffic cop Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) she is the force that just won’t quit when she knows to trust her instincts.

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I think Season 1 will always hold that key place in my heart as my favourite season, but this one is only just so slightly behind. The story was as brilliant as you can expect, but it was the characters this time round that really made it special. I’ve never seen David Thewlis play the bad guy, let alone a guy so disgusting in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Some of his scenes were honestly difficult to watch (though it may just be pregnancy nausea on my behalf) and so I have to give him a shout out for that.

Ewan McGregor also shone in both of his roles, managing to play the 2 Stussy brothers so well that it was easy to forget they’re played by the same person. I’m actually tempted to say he did a better job than Tom Hardy did in Legend!

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The real MVPs for me though were Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Carrie Coon. These ladies just steal every scene that they’re in, and they kick ass. Both of their characters go on such emotional journeys, and they’re just a pleasure to watch. I seriously hope these ladies land some big roles in the future, because they’re ones to watch for sure.

I won’t go into of course, but can I just mention that ending? Perfect. I love it and I hate it at the same time, because we’ll never know what happened after those 5 minutes. Arghhhh. Now I have a Fargo-shaped hole in my life. I really hope we get a Season 4 in the future!

Review: Memories of Murder (2003)

memories-of-murder-2003-movie-reviewAfter a string of 2017 releases, it’s quite refreshing to blog about a movie a little older! Let me tell you about a cool website I stumbled across the other day. It’s called Taste, and basically how it works is that you complete a profile by rating movies that it throws at you. Once your profile is complete, you’re left with a list of movie recommendations based on your tastes. Simple, huh? I wanted to give it a try, so I completed my profile, and the number 1 recommendation for me was Memories of Murder (2003). There was only 1 way to find out whether the site was any good really, wasn’t there?

Directed by Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer & Okja), Memories of Murder is based on a real life serial murder case in South Korea. In October 1986, a young woman is found raped and murdered in a field. Detective Park Doo-man (Kang-ho Song) is first on the scene and has never dealt with a case like this before. It’s clear that him and the rest of the department are well out of their depth, so another detective, Seo Tae-yoon (Sang-kyung Kim) from Seoul, volunteers to help.

If I remember rightly, this might be my 2nd ever foreign language movie. It’s shameful actually, because the only other one I’ve seen (Incendies) was absolutely incredible, so I’m definitely open to suggestions. In fact, I almost enjoy a subtitled movie more, because my mind simply isn’t allowed to wander, or I’ll miss a huge chunk of what’s actually going on.

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Memories of Murder is a reasonably long movie, but it doesn’t ever really slow in pace. From the opening of the movie, we’re presented with the first victim, and the way the story flows it really does feel like we’re part of the investigative team as they desperately search for clues. Once the team work out that these murders only happen at night when it rains, the tension really ramps up. I felt just as frustrated as the detectives when things didn’t go their way, although Park Doo-man’s investigate techniques are extremely questionable!

In fact, his character started out as quite unlikable for me. He was presented with a decent lead, but rather than work with the suspect to gather as much intelligence as he could, Park Doo-man actually creates false evidence to make the suspect look even more guilty, and actually tortures him until he gets a confession. It’s quite hard to watch in some parts. By the end of the movie though, you can see how much his character has grown.

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Memories of Murder is up there with Zodiac as my joint-favourite detective movie I think. As far as that website goes, it was spot on with recommending me something to watch! I’m not affiliated with them in any way by the way, just to make that clear. I just like sharing interesting things with you. This movie gets 4 out of 5 Nike (or should that be Nice?) sneakers from me.

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By the way, in case you’re curious, it’s also recommending me Persepolis, Letters from Iwo Jima, Short Term 12, In Bruges and City of God, to name a few. I’ll be tracking these down soon!)

Review: Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004)

I’ve been putting this review off for a while, because I’m a little scared of what you might all think. Let me introduce this in my usual way to put my nerves at ease first however.

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My New Year’s Eve was extremely tame, I spent it at home with my ill husband. It was still a good night though, we had take out pizza, played a few board games, and we decided to watch a movie too. There was nothing on Netflix that took our fancy and rather than bringing in the New Year flicking through every movies going ‘no…no…no…’ we grabbed a DVD off the bookcase which we’ve been putting off watching for ages. Kill Bill: Volume 1!

I’m not well versed in Quentin Tarantino movies. I watched The Hateful Eight and Django, and really enjoyed both. Other than that, I’ve only seen Pulp Fiction, and that was alright too. More than anything, it was nice to see where all the references I’ve heard over the years came from. In fact, I’m not even sure why we owned Kill Bill, but I’m guessing that we’ve been told so many times what a classic it is we thought we should see what the fuss is about.

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Perhaps it should have been obvious, but we didn’t realise that Kill Bill is literally a 4 hour movie split into two halves, so we ended up watching Volume 2 the very next day, because we knew if we didn’t, we’d probably never see it.

For those who haven’t seen it, Kill Bill is essentially the story of ‘The Bride’ (Uma Thurman) working her way through a kill list. Her assassin colleagues and boss tried to murder her on her wedding day, but they’re clearly not the A-Grade assassins they make themselves out to be because they failed, and she’s out for revenge.

Let me start with Volume 1. This was a whole barrel of fun. Knowing nothing about the story, the non-linear story really pulled me in, and it’s always enjoyable to watch some bad-ass fighting! In particular I loved the origin story of O-Ren (Lucy Liu) when the movie turned into an anime style animation. The over exaggeration of the bloodiness reminded me of an anime I used to watch called Bleach!

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It felt like everything was leading up to The Bride’s fight with the Crazy 88, which there weren’t 88 of, which is funny in that ironic kind of way. The fight itself was incredible to watch, and the violence doesn’t hold back in the slightest. We ended up watching and going ‘ooh, ouch’ along with it, as if we could feel those blows ourselves! All in all, it was something I normally wouldn’t watch, and although some parts were quite slow, I enjoyed it.

Which brings us to Volume 2…

First of all, I really liked the opening sequence, where we learn what happened at the chapel those 4 or so years ago. That brought me the closure I needed. What stuck out like a sore thumb though, and perhaps I just didn’t notice it in the previous volume, these camera shots in black and white, for reasons I can’t work out. In the buried alive scene, the screen is much smaller and that makes complete sense, but the other shots seemed so random.

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What else felt random? The Bride is buried alive, and she’s about to punch her way out of the box. How is she able to do that? Training montage! It just wasn’t very…subtle. If that scene was much sooner in the movie it would have been a ‘eureka’ moment, but instead it just felt lazy. I fully except at this point that I’m the minority here whinging about a universally accepted great movie!

Even the finale with Bill felt a bit lacklustre. With such a huge build up in Volume 1 to the fight with O-Ren, I was expecting something even bigger for Bill, but it was literally *SPOILER* a punch to the chest that killed him. *SPOILER OVER* I was expecting something a little more…showy?

I still enjoyed both movies, but they just felt overrated to me. Volume 1 was far more enjoyable, but paired together as they should be, Kill Bill gets 3 out of 5 pussy wagons.

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