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: A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

a-dogs-purpose-movie-review-2017As a movie blogger, I feel the need to have a ‘never say never’ kind of attitude when it comes to actually watching movies. I tell all my friends and family “If there’s ever something you want to see at the cinema and no-one will go with you, I will!”. That’s how I found myself watching Fast & Furious 5 with Jenna (having watched none in the series prior) and The Monuments Men with my husband (still haven’t forgiven him). It’s also how I wound up at the cinema last week with my Mum to see A Dog’s Purpose.

Why do we do this to ourselves? That’s what we asked each other while queuing for a cup of tea. We know this movie is going to make us cry, and yet we just can’t help ourselves. I don’t know whether to be thankful for the fact that the screen was fairly busy (more people crying to make me feel better) or full of shame because my Mum likes to choose the quiet moment to blow her nose.

If you don’t know already, A Dog’s Purpose is one dog’s story about trying to find meaning in his life. Or should I say lives, because in this world, when a dog dies he is brought back to life as a new born puppy. Say it with me now, ‘awww’.

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The dog we get to follow is called Bailey, and we hear his thoughts through the ever entertaining Olaf LeFou Josh Gad. I’ve got to admit, anyone with a deep love for their own pet will find a lot of humour in Bailey’s commentary, especially if you’ve ever had an actual conversation with your dog, cat, parrot, or whatever you have.

Of course it made me cry. It would make even those with the coldest hearts tear up just slightly. I wasn’t timing it or anything, but I’m fairly sure there were 2 dog deaths within the first 10 minutes of the movie. If that’s not enough to get you, there’s a healthy dose of angst, domestic abuse and alcoholism that might tug on those heartstrings instead.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the whole movie, sadly. Bailey has a few other lives that are saved for the big screen itself, but the middle section of the movie is all just filler, leaving you waiting for the big reunion moment that you know is coming. It’s not a masterpiece movie, but it knows what it wants from it’s audience and it succeeds in that, so what more can you say!

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I’ll tell you one last thing though, I’m fairly certain my Mum and I both went home and hugged our pets extra tight that night. It didn’t stop me from cursing my cats with every bad word invented when they hid a live bird from me of course, but for that evening, they were my favourite things in the world. In fact, can we have A Cat’s Purpose next year? Just follow the same principle, but make it an hour and a half of cats being a******s instead. I’ll watch that.

3 out of 5 bottles of Baileys from me. It’s clever, because that’s the dog’s name, but it also makes me sad because I haven’t touched alcohol since Christmas.

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Review: Table 19 (2017)

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Can we at least agree this is one of the most beautiful movie posters ever?

Last year was all about weddings for me. I had my own, and then I was a bridesmaid for 2 of my bridesmaids! 4 weddings in one year where you’re organising 1 yourself and you’re a big part of another 2 is exhausting, and now I have no weddings to go to this year. It’s kind of a relief, and kind of sad too, so I’ve been really looking forward to watching Table 19 and just sitting back, to enjoy the festivities.

Table 1 obviously hosts the Bride, Groom and parents, and the level of importance carries on right down the line to the very last table, in this case, 19. This is the table of ‘people who should have known to RSVP no’. We have the Best Man’s ex-girlfriend (Anna Kendrick), the Bride’s childhood nanny (June Squibb), someone’s odd cousin (Stephen Merchant), the son of a friend who’s mother is trying to get him laid (Tony Revolori) and a married couple from work who aren’t important enough for the work table (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson).

If you’ve heard of this movie, you might have heard about the luke-warm reviews it’s been getting. I tried not to read too much in case it clouded my judgement but let me tell you, I actually kind of loved it. I’m biased because I have a huge lady boner for Anna Kendrick, but there’s so much more to this story than meets the eye. It looks like a simple enough plot, the table of losers realise they’re losers and find a way to have fun despite the fact – right?

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Well yes, but for a movie with such a small run time we really get inside each of these characters lives. There’s a huge plot line completely hidden in the trailer that I juuust worked out before the reveal, which adds a huge dramatic element to the whole thing. I’ll save the surprise for you to see for yourself.

It’s funny, in quite a dark way. Whereas a lot of movies struggle to find a balance between comedy and drama, I think Table 19 nailed it. Something will happen that will have you laughing out loud, and it’ll be followed so quickly by something serious that it completely throws you off balance. In fact, I was still laughing at parts despite the darkness. It’s overwhelming, and perhaps that contributes to the negative reviews, but I thought it fit the mood perfectly. That sounds contradicting I know, but in some movies you’ll have one hilarious scene, and 20 minutes later a serious, pull on your heart strings kind of scene, and it’s confusing. Table 19 fuses the two together.

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This joke about the jacket never got old. I’m laughing just thinking about it!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect movie. It feels quite long despite its run time, there are a few loose ends here and there, and I feel like everyone got some closure with their issues apart from Stephen Merchant’s character. It’s quite over-dramatic and cheesy in places, but the whole movie is like that, so although those scenes don’t feel out of place in the grand scheme of things, if that kind of drama level is a turn off for you then you’re going to hate the whole thing.

Oh and one more thing – with my wedding organising hat still on – who was in charge of the running of the day here?! Sitting everyone down for their meal, having a band play, the married couple’s first dance, then sitting again? WHERE IS THE FOOD YOU GUYS.

All in all, I’d recommend that you ignore a lot of reviews (heck, even this one if you like) and see it for yourself. Who knows, you might even enjoy it! Table 19 gets 4 out of 5 wedding cakes from me, and I realise this is the second time this week I’ve rated movies out of cake, but I’m pregnant and I just really like cake, okay?

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Review: What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)

often-off-topic-pregnancy-announcementIf you don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter (probably for the best) then you won’t know, but I’m pregnant! Argh! That still feels weird to admit, mainly because I’m currently pregnant enough for all my clothes to be uncomfortable but not pregnant enough for strangers to pick up on it, I just look like I ate too much at an all-you-can-eat buffet and didn’t get much sleep the night before.

Here’s the proof, anyway! I don’t have any weird cravings yet but what has seemed to happen is that I’ve lost my filter, so you’ll have to excuse my bluntness around here lately. I think I even surprised my Mum the other day. Maybe it’s actually my age, but I just don’t seem to feel the need to think before speaking out loud any more.

Anyway, you’re here for a review, so let me get started. To avoid the ‘advice’ and horror stories from friends and family, I instead turned to movies to find out more about what pregnancy might bring me. I thought What to Expect When You’re Expecting might bring me that.

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Attempting to follow that age old ‘Love Actually’ formula, this movie features 5 different couples and tells their pregnancy stories. The couples range from super wealthy and famous and their planned pregnancy, to a younger couple facing a dilemma after a one night stand. The cast is decent, with familiar faces such as Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock and Joe Manganiello. Something for everyone!

The movie falls flat for 3 different reasons. Reason the 1st is the same problem all these ‘interconnecting stories’ kind of movies have, there are so many characters with so little time to develop them that as a viewer, I simply don’t care enough about them. In fact, the only character I really connected with was Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and her story was so sad that I wondered why I was sat crying during a comedy movie.

Which brings me to reason numero dos. Is this a comedy, a romance, or a drama? It’s all of them, and none of them. It has 3 great actors well known for their comedic roles (Anna Kendrick, Chris Rock & Rebel Wilson) and yet I didn’t laugh once. One storyline as I mentioned is heart-destroyingly (now I’m just making words up) upsetting, and as a pregnant lady with moods swings this entire movie threw me off balance.

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The last reason is that I didn’t really learn much about what to expect now I’m expecting, other than the fact that people are can be real a$$holes, and I kinda knew that already. Based on my own experiences so far, here’s what this movie was missing:

  • A character marvelling at how their breasts have doubled in size in just 3 months, and their joy in going bra shopping for the first time since they were 13.
  • At no point did I see any character need to pee like their life depend on it, and especially not 5 times in 1 hour.
  • Food featured heavily in this movie (I notice food all the time now) and yet no one felt the need to devour an entire sponge cake, or go completely off their favourite food.
  • No one told any character ‘Oh my gosh, you look more pregnant than the last time I saw you!’ followed up by said person receiving a fist to the face.
  • Also, no one revealed their pregnancy and got the reaction of ‘I knew you’d been eating loads lately!’ again followed up by said person receiving a fist to the face.

Pregnancy is wonderful, you guys. Unlike this movie. Which gets 2 sponge cakes out of 5 from me, because that’s probably all I could eat without being sick. Probably.

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What the Hell Happened in Lady in the Water (2006)?

A couple of weeks ago I felt in the right kind of mood for an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and found myself watching The Happening (review here). Shyamalan gets a lot of hate, and in fairness I’ve mainly watched his better movies, but I’m rapidly finding myself wanting to watch everything he’s done for the hell of it. The Happening was an absolute disaster in more ways than one, but you guys, it was so much fun to watch and make fun of.

lady-in-the-water-review-2006When I reviewed it for the blog, some of you mentioned Lady in the Water, telling me it was even worse. You realise what you set in motion in that moment, right? I had to watch it!

It took me 2 days, and 3 sitting to actually get through it, it was actually that bad. There were times I wanted to call it quits, but I stuck with it for the sake of the blog. I can’t write a review I’m afraid, mainly because I’m still not sure what actually happened in front of my eyes, but for my own sake (and yours) I’m going to try and explain what happened. Spoilers ahead, but you’re not missing out on much!

The movie opens with a stick man explanation of the people who live in the water world, watching over us land folk, until we got greedy and forgot about them. Every now and again they send their water kids to our world, but most of them get eaten by wolves. Um, okay.

Then we see a stuttering Paul Giamatti, the only maintenance man in a huge apartment complex, talking with his pool cleaner about how dirty it is. It’s almost like there’s someone living there, eh, eh?

Bingo. Bryce Dallas Howard is the lady in the water. Giamatti tries to take her outside, but they get attacked by a grass wolf. Stay with me now, this isn’t even that weird yet.

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It’s called a Scrunt apparently, which sounds like the world’s worst Pokemon to me.

I don’t remember how, but we somehow learn her name is Story, and she is a Narf. I guess Narfs are the people from the water world, but what a terrible name.

It just so happens that one of the resident’s mothers knows all about the story of the Narfs, which is super lucky, but to convince this old lady to tell him the story, Giamatti has to convince her that he is actually a child (?!) and finds himself sat on her sofa with a milk mustache. No innuendo, I swear.

It turns out that Story is trying to find the ‘chosen one’ who’s a writer, leading Giamatti on a goose chase around the building. He meets a grumpy film critic, a group of rowdy lads, a crossword puzzle loving Jeffrey Wright and his son who reads cereal boxes, and a dude who only works out his right side of his body. Oh! And Mr M. Night Shyamalan himself, who’s writing a Cookbook that has nothing to do with cooking. Right.

I’m being way too detailed here, let’s speed things up a bit.

Old lady says that for Story to get home, they need a Guardian, a Healer, a Translator, a something else (I forgot) and a Guild.

The Translator turns out to be the puzzle fan’s kid, who stares at a cupboard of cereal to work out they need to perform a ceremony.

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I really wasn’t kidding about the cereal you guys…

The Healer is some other lady who sees butterflies everywhere by the pool.

The Guild is the group of lads, who decide the best way to get Story home is to throw a huge party for the grumpy film critic.

Cue party time, and suddenly about 200 people live in this weird complex.

There’s a band, and them playing is crucial to the ceremony apparently, but they aren’t paying attention, and getting someone to go and tap them on the shoulder is out of the question for some reason.

The grass wolf has managed to find his way into the complex at this point, and ends up eating the film critic after he does this weird speech. Does Shyamalan hate critics? I bet he did after releasing this movie. Maybe he saw it coming, and just didn’t care.

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Turns out this guy saves the day in the end. By staring at the grass wolf.

I just lost it at this point, seriously. A giant eagle flies overhead and takes Story away, and then the credits rolled.

WHAT. THE. HELL. YOU. GUYS.

Dare I ask, has M. Night Shyamalan made anything worse than this? I need to know, just in case I have a sudden lapse in judgement and find myself with nothing better to watch on a Sunday night.

Review: Collateral Beauty (2016)

Seriously, what happened to Collateral Beauty? I saw a trailer for it once or twice last year, and then it just came and went. I can only assume it got buried under all the Oscar movies and Rogue One. Anyway, my good friend Jenna came to see the new house last night, and trying to find a movie that neither of us has seen yet can be quite the challenge, so we settled for Collateral Beauty. Besides, we both love Will Smith (who doesn’t?) so we couldn’t go too wrong.

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Howard (Will Smith) suffers a terrible family tragedy that throws his entire life off balance. In his despair, he writes letters to Love, Time and Death, pouring his sorrow into the words. What he doesn’t expect is a visit from Love, Time and Death themselves (a bit like Scrooge’s visits!) which makes him see things in another light.

collateral-beauty-mixed-reviewsSomething I find really cool about this movie is how much it seems to have split the opinions of the viewers. Check out it’s current ratings chart on Letterboxd! I haven’t seen a more split opinion since watching The Fountain, which for the record, I still don’t know how to feel about. The other thing I got excited about very early on is that this movie is very different to how the trailer makes it out to be. There is so, so much more to the story that what those 2 minutes show you. This was a good surprise, rather than a “what?” kind of Passengers surprise.

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As for the movie itself, it’s messy, sadly. It has a huge, star-studded cast (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Pena, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley to name a few) and each has their own complicated story. There’s simply not enough time to get to know these characters well enough, so the emotions thrown at you don’t have a chance to really sink in, leaving you feeling like a bit of a monster for not really feeling anything for them. That said, they have interesting stories to be told, and given some extra time and better pacing, it could have been so good!

What you can’t argue with is Will Smith’s acting talent. I’m not sure if he was trying to bait the Academy with this movie (he was very quiet this year, no?) but his emotions feel genuine, and I can’t stand watching people cry, only because it makes me cry too! To tell you any more about this particular scene would spill into spoiler territory, and I really think if this is something you’d like to see then you should go in as blind as possible.

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I’m sure if I watched this again I’d pick up on all sorts of plot holes, but as a one-time experience, I really enjoyed it. It’s a movie with so much heart and a lot to say, so it’s a shame it wasn’t paced very well or in-depth enough. One thing I will say is that the ending in particular is shocking; for better or worse will depend on each individual viewer, but it’s an ending I certainly won’t forget for a long time.

Whether you love it or hate it, Collateral Beauty is a movie that’ll get any movie fan talking at least. I give the movie 3 and a half falling dominoes out of 5!

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Review: Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

fifty-shades-darker-movie-review-2017The UK is going through a bit of a crisis right now. No, our tea levels are just fine, but we appear to have a shortage of lettuce thanks to bad weather in Spain! Supermarkets are even putting out signs limiting customers to only 3 lettuce (lettuces?) per customer. Like, who even needs that much salad anyway? What we don’t seem to short of, is cucumbers. We have so many cucumbers that people are leaving them behind in the cinema after watching Fifty Shades Darker.

I’d like to say I watched Fifty Shades Darker because it’s my duty as a movie blogger, but actually, I just love trashy movies, and any excuse to go out on a Wednesday night with one of my girls is good with me!

So, you know the story so far, right? Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is a billionaire with very particular tastes in the bedroom, and he meets Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) who seems determined to change him. They split up at the end of the first movie because Christian was a little too…rough. *cough* Sorry, it’s the awkward Brit in me, unable to talk about anything sexy without either giggling or coughing and looking away.

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This second instalment of the series is darker, obviously. Ana has a new job, which comes with a creepy boss (Eric Johnson) who brings Ana coffee and would like some…gratification for it. Ahem. There’s also a creepy girl with a bandaged wrist following her around with a gun, and Ana also gets to meet Mrs Robinson (Kim Basinger) who’s responsible for teaching Christian all these terrible things in the first place.

So yes, there’s a lot going on here this time. I’m not sure if I’m dedicated enough to do the math and tell you whether there’s more sex this time, but we’re certainly introduced to some new things. Mainly a pair of silver balls (which do not go where Ana thinks they go) and a spreader bar. Gee, I’m feeling embarrassed just typing this!

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Let’s talk about the good things. The soundtrack is pretty decent, like last time. The story feels much bigger, Dakota Johnson is as lovely as ever, and if you’re watching with friends, it’s a funny experience. If you love trashy movies, of course.

What’s not so good? The first movie was downright hilarious in many places, although I’m not sure if that was intentional. This second movie doesn’t bring many laughs at all. It also feels like it was originally a 4 hour movie that got absolutely slaughtered in the editing room, but it’s long enough as it is, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain. That’s what she said.

All in all, Fifty Shades Darker was exactly what I expected it to be. Haters gonna hate, yadda yadda yadda, but grab a bottle of wine and treat this movie the way you’d treat Sharknado, and have a bit of fun with it. With my blogging hat on however, this movie gets 2 out of 5 cucumbers.

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