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: 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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