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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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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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!)

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.

Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware

So, this is brand new territory for me. I’ve been blogging about movies for almost 3 years now (almost 3 weeks here at Often Off Topic!) and attempting to review a book feels very much out of my comfort zone. More importantly however, I’m actually feeling quite proud of myself, because despite setting myself a 2017 resolution to read 1 book per month, I read my first book in a week! I’m feeling very positive about achieving this goal.

As I mentioned in my Resolutions post, I’ve deliberately chosen books from a wide variety of genres to broaden my horizons a little, but as the last book I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) was The Girl on the Train, I thought picking something in the same genre might be a nice way to ease myself into the challenge.

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By way of introduction, author Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex and studied at Manchester University, and has now settled in North London. Before she became an author of two Top 10 Bestsellers in both the UK (Sunday Times) and the USA (New York Times) she worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. Currently, Ruth is working on her third book.

The Girl in Cabin 10 is thrilling in every sense of the word, from its very first chapter to it’s last, I’m deadly serious. Here’s the official blurb from Ruth’s website:
“When travel journalist Lo Blacklock is invited on a boutique luxury cruise around the Norwegian fjords, it seems like a dream career opportunity.
But the trip takes a nightmarish turn when she wakes in the middle of the night to hear a body being thrown overboard – only to discover that no-one has been reported missing from the boat.
How do you stop a killer, when no-one believes they exist?”

Lo’s story begins with her being burgled and attacked in her own home, and becoming deeply traumatised by the ordeal, leaving her with a bad case of insomnia and panic attacks worse than what she already deals with on a daily basis. During one particularly bad night, Lo walks in the rain in the middle of the night to her boyfriend Jude’s apartment, which is currently empty as Jude is out of the country. When Jude comes home whilst Lo is sleeping…let’s just say Lo isn’t the only character in the book to be attacked at night in their own home!

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It was a fantastic way to introduce the book’s main character whilst setting readers up for what’s to come. There was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be a bumpy ride. Once Lo is aboard the Aurora, we get a quick insight into the other passengers on board, including the rather out of place passenger in cabin 10, who hastily lets Lo borrow her mascara with no intention of wanting it back. That very night Lo is woken in the night by a scream, a chilling splash, and the sight of blood smeared on the veranda of cabin 10. What makes matters worse is that the Aurora’s head of security confirms to Lo that there was never a passenger in cabin 10 to begin with…

To say anymore than that would be a disservice to author Ruth Ware, because I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was so difficult to put down, and I felt such a strong connection to Lo as she was trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. It feels like a game of Cluedo, only most of the clues don’t add up until much later on. There are twists and turns aplenty, and the last 80 pages or so were so nail-bitingly tense that I stayed up ridiculously late just so I could finish it.

I have a feeling I may this too many times during this challenge of mine, but The Woman in Cabin 10 would make an excellent movie!