Blind Spot Series: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

saving-private-ryan-1998-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Steven Spielberg

Genre: Drama, War

Runtime: 169 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti

Plot: Set during World War II,  Captain Miller and his assembled crew are sent to find Private James Ryan and send him home. His 3 brothers have been killed in action and all 3 telegraphs are set to be sent on the same day to his Mother to inform her of the terrible news. To alleviate her grief the Chief of Staff decides that Ryan should be pulled from the war.

My Thoughts: War movies have never interested me, but in my recent quest to watch all Oscar Best Picture nominees when awards season rolls around, I found myself at the cinema to watch Hacksaw Ridge (2016) which exceeded all my expectations. I don’t think anyone can talk about war movies without at least thinking about Saving Private Ryan (1998) so the Blind Spot Series was a great opportunity to watch the classic and expand my horizons a little.

Straight away you’re hit with a wall of emotion. We see a survivor of the war in his old age, although we don’t know who, as he visits the graves of his brothers, and then we’re transported straight into one of the battles. It’s raw, it’s gritty, it’s tense and uncomfortable to watch, and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away. We’re literally in the thick of it with these soldiers, and we’re in it for the long haul.

At just under 3 hours this is one of the longest movies I’ve watched, and so I made the decision to watch it in two sittings but to be honest, I could have happily watched it in one go, you don’t notice the time at all. There’s always something going on, and even in the quieter moments you know it’s just a build up to the next big thing.

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Best Bit: I’ve always associated Giovanni Ribisi with the TV Show Friends, so much so that I can never remember his actual name, I call him Frank Jr. I know him from small, comedic roles so it was a surprise to see him here. He was AMAZING. The guy has some really incredible talent, and I can’t believe it’s the only serious role I’ve ever seen him in. He deserved award nominations for it, without a doubt.

Worst Bit: There’s no denying that Saving Private Ryan is an incredible movie. I’m not a converted war movie fan, though. Watching this, watching Hacksaw Ridge, watching Dunkirk (2017), they were amazing experiences, but to me, they aren’t ‘enjoyable’ in the same sense as other genres, if that makes any sense?

Fun Trivia: Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Private Ryan because he wanted an unknown actor with an All-American look. He did not know Damon would win an Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997) and become an overnight star before the film was released.

My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 pairs of standard-issue socks that you can turn into sticky bombs if needed.

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blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

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Review: Suburbicon (2017)

suburbicon-movie-review-2017I’ve actually managed to watch a couple of new movies this week, hurray! Ideally, I’d like to blog about all of them, but let’s take baby steps for now and talk about the one I watched most recently, which was Suburbicon. I’m an absolute sucker for a script by the Coen Brothers, but this latest one is actually directed by none other than George Clooney, so I wasn’t as sure. I’ve kept away from reviews where I could, but I did know Suburbicon wasn’t widely loved.

So what’s it about? Suburbicon is a once-peaceful community in the 1950’s where everything seems rosy and everyone gets along until a black family move in and a terrible crime is committed in the house behind them. In that house at the time was Gardner (Matt Damon), his Son Nicky (Noah Jupe), his Wife Rose (Julianne Moore) and his Sister in Law Margaret (also Julianne Moore). Tragically, Rose is killed as a result of the crime, and from there, things just keep getting worse for Gardner.

That’s all I really want to say about the plot because this is one of those movies that takes several twists and turns along the way, and that’s where most of the fun in watching it comes from. It’s not the best Coen movie out there, but I enjoyed it more than I think most did. You could probably argue that the tone was a bit all over the place, but that added to the quirkiness of it all for me.

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The best moment without a doubt is when Oscar Isaac turns up in a role I won’t say for spoiler purposes, but it’s the best 10 minutes of the entire movie. I promise I’m not just saying that because it’s him! Someone in Hollywood please give Oscar some bigger roles – he SO deserves them!

Whilst all this is going on, the upset caused by the black family moving in just keeps escalating until it reaches riot proportions, and this is the only thing I didn’t like as much about Suburbicon. What was the point in it all? I’m sure it connects somehow but it just felt a bit disjointed to me – the movie wouldn’t be lost without those scenes as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps someone can fill me in on what I’m clearly missing?

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Ultimately though, I was quite pleasantly surprised after not setting my hopes up too high. It’s certainly not up there with the likes of Fargo and The Big Lebowski, but I enjoyed it more than Hail Caesar! for sure. 4 out of 5 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from me – you probably shouldn’t eat them though.

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Review: Downsizing (2017)

downsizing-movie-review-2017After falling in love with Colossal (2017) last year for it’s unique story line, I was over the moon when I saw a trailer for Downsizing (2017). 2 movies in the same year with an interesting, different tale to tell that isn’t a remake or a sequel? Count me in! Plus it stars Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz and Jason Sudeikis? Shut up and take my money, cinema lady.

Us humans are slowly killing the Earth with our waste, and quite frankly, we’re running out of room. It’s a miracle then, when scientists discover the ability to irreversibly shrink people down to a fraction of their actual size. Years later, tiny settlements have been set up and roughly 3% (or was it 5%?) of the world’s population are now tiny. It’s environmentally friendly, and also economically friendly, as your money is worth a heck of a lot more when you’re only 5 inches tall.

Paul (Matt Damon) and Audrey (Kristen Wiig) are a married couple who make the difficult decision to downsize themselves. Things go belly-up however when Paul wakes up after the process to discover his wife changed her mind at the last minute, leaving him behind. Thus, Paul starts his new, tiny life.

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I am absolutely in love with this idea, and I’m actually gutted, but also impressed to learn that this is an original screenplay rather than one adapted from a book. So many details have been thought about, from the intricate details on how the downsizing process works to the social issues that would arise from this. Things such as terrorism, as these tiny people are so hard to track, or how they should be able to vote as they don’t contribute much back. It really is a lot to think about!

Sadly, it’s also this movie’s huge problem. None of these issues are explored at all, they’re just brought up and never really mentioned again. The thing is, if these areas weren’t mentioned, we all would have complained that the movie was too simple, so it was never going to win really. Downsizing should have been a TV Series, where each season could have been dedicated to a particular issue. Heck, the first season could have just been about how the process began!

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There’s still some fun to be had though, mainly with the relationship that Paul strikes up with Ngoc Lan (Hong Chau). At first Ngoc Lan seems like a timid cleaner, but she has the most amazing personality and completely overpowers Paul in every single scene. She alone makes this movie worth a watch!

The other thing I have to wonder is what was cut from the movie? One of the coolest moments in the trailer was a giant bottle of vodka being drank by the tiny people. If a scene intended to actually sell the movie was cut, what else? Mind you, it’s long enough as it is!

All in all, I’m gutted this movie wasn’t a TV Show instead, so that the story and all the ideas behind it couldn’t have been explored properly. It’s 3 out of 5 bottles of vodka from me!

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