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The Hustle (2019)
The Hustle - Very so-so towards the end
This is a remake of 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels'.
Basically a small time and very coarse con-artist and classy and very snooty con-artist meet on a train and end up competing to scam their chosen mark, who is apparently an APP tycoon. The film is funny, and occasionally very funny to begin with, but I felt that it seemed to lose its way when the APP tycoon joins the plot.
The film really drags for the last 45 minutes.
TOLKIEN - Inspiration & Motivation
Romantic biographical drama.
This film mainly focuses on Tolkien's early childhood to adult life. After his mother passes away he is adopted by a wealthy relative, consequently moves up the social scale and is given the opportunity of a good education at a reputable school.
He meets 3 fellow students, who become lifelong friends, they all have different artistic passions (writing, art, music). They frequently would meet at a classy establishment to drink tea and debate different forms of art, they called themselves TCBS. (Tea Club Barrovian Society)
The friends study at Oxford and Cambridge, their paths frequently cross, and again when WW1 breaks out. Tolkien's fantasy characters would reflect the monsters of war. All of his experiences would later inspire him to write his famous Lord of the Rings novels.
Very highly recommended.
Eighth Grade (2018)
Eighth Grade - Social anxiety, peer pressure, sexual harassment
Emotional coming of age documentary drama about an awkward 13 year old girl (Kayla) dealing with anxiety and the pressures of growing up.
Kayla is moving from eighth grade to high school, this film follows that final week. Kayla is a quiet girl who creates and uploads self-help videos to YouTube, ironically her videos cover themes that she has most trouble with, confidence, courage, fear, being yourself, social acceptance.
Kayla's relationship with her dad is also very awkward, some scenes with her dad are very emotional. Her mum is noticeably absent but we never really learn the reasons why, I would have liked this aspect explored a little more.
The film works well because the central character is an image conscience girl, like they all are in teenage years. We can appreciate how girls are most prone to social and sexual anxiety. It covers the social media world we live in, particularly YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. We can appreciate how everyone is so connected but can still be so lonely. Very highly recommended.
Long Shot (2019)
Long Shot - Two hours? Felt like longer!
Romantic comedy (though 'comedy' is being a little generous)
'He' who is a journalist, resigns and expectantly reconnects with 'her' who is the secretary of state, who happens to have her eye on the top job. The two have nothing in common, except she was his babysitter many years before.
Her popularity needs a boost, so she hires him to be her speechwriter. The film follows their various antics over the next two hours. There were some funny moments, but I' afraid that I cringed more times than I laughed. The film has some very vulgar scenes and drug taking, both sensationalised.
I can't recommend.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Avengers Endgame - Thor with a beer-belly!
Fantasy action adventure, with emotion and comedy.
Thanos wipes out half the universe at the end of the previous instalment, 5 years have passed and the remaining Avengers discover time travel in order to enable one final stand.
As is normally the case, it's Tony Stark's intellect that actually determines how to crack the time travel problem, flashbacks to many of the previous films show how the hero's travel back in time to track down the Infinity Stones, which are essential to undoing the ending to Infinity War (though watching this as a standalone is very possible and still enjoyable).
All the characters also depict major sacrifices and vulnerability that make you care about their eventual desperate outcomes. As time travel is a feature, it makes you wonder whether Iron Man could ever return.
The epic film is a good finale that once again shows that good will eventually overcome evil. (3d uplift recommended.)
Dragged Across Concrete (2018)
Dragged Across Concrete - slow burn with good dynamics and some funny dialogue.
Follows two police officers who are secretly videoed during their last assignment by a member of the public. Their very aggressive methods result in suspension without pay.
The younger officer is planning to propose, we see he'd already chosen an expensive ring. The older officer is living in a neighbourhood that has become dangerous and decides he'll do whatever necessary to move his family. He gives everything observed a percentage outcome, this becomes a running joke.
Each turn to crime, each is financially motivated but by different needs, each justify their resulting actions. They decide to intercept a bank robbery and as they are now civilians, intend to keep the spoils.
The seasoned criminals are calculating and brutal, their backstories are also well explored. Be aware that the first hour explore all the main character backstories in some detail, as are the other characters that intertwine. All the plot threads are brought together in the last very tense hour.
This is a slow burn with good dynamics and some funny dialogue. Well recommended.
Missing Link (2019)
The Missing Link - has nothing much missing
Stop motion animation from Laika, the studios who were also responsible for Kubo - Comedy adventure in the manner of Nick Parks
Sir Lionel Frost (the explorer character) is trying to join an elite club for adventurers. 'Susan' (The Big Foot character) is tired of living a solitary life, so contacts Sir Lionel to help guide him on a journey to find his long-lost Yeti relatives. Unfortunately there's also a rival explorer out to stop him.
This is a simple story with many comedy action sequences. The theme is in an Indiana Jones style with adult themes, mature dialogue and visual gags. This is very creative, entertaining and suitable for a very wide age range.
Very highly recommended.
Wild Rose (2018)
Wild Rose - A star was never going to be born
Drama, great for country music fans.
Stars British acting royalty Julie Walters and Jessie Buckley.
The protagonist (Rose) is a free spirited girl just out of prison with two young kids, a moody character but with a good country singing voice looking to make it big in Nashville. Unfortunately she has no money to pursue her ambition.
She takes a cleaning job and starts to rebuild her relationship with her kids. Her mother tries to make her daughter's kids her daughter's first priority but also realises that Rose has the gumption she never had. The question was whether to allow her to pursue her dream at the cost of neglecting her children.
Like every good parent her mother gives up her life savings to enable Rose to fly to America and briefly stay in Nashville. This (to me at least) looked pretty much like a holiday and not the life changing chance of a lifetime it was meant to be.
During her journey Rose realises her dream was not going to happen, all the singers she meets were all doing the same, and sounded the same. Nothing Rose was doing was very special or different. At least she believed in herself and lived the dream for a couple of weeks.
One year later we see that Rose is still singing, but Rose, aware of her priorities, is a big fish is a small Glaswegian pond.
Hellboy - Not as funny as the trailer leads you to believe
Horror fantasy based on a comic with relentless gory violence.
Hellboy is to save humanity from the evil witch character, I like humour in this type of film, but there's hardly any more than seen in the trailer. The many plots are hectic and chaotic, it would have been better to concentrate on one main plot theme. There's lots of Britishness, cliché locations and language, including some naff swearing.
Not bad but nor great either, would not watch again. Stay for the customary post credit scene if you're a Hellboy fan, otherwise don't bother.
Dumbo - Family drama
Disney - Reboot of an animated classic mixed with live action.
Stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin and a cute CGI baby circus elephant (Dumbo) with huge freakish ears, but is also able to fly.
An evil Corporation buys acts for 'Dreamland', which is their version of Disneyworld, obviously wants Dumbo at any cost.
We took our 8 year old grand-daughter who was completely engaged when Dumbo was on screen but fidgeted a bit at most other times. Her favourite character was Dumbo, she didn't much like the owner of Dreamland, but she wasn't really supposed to.
This is a film all about hope and believing in yourself but missing a Disney style anthem.
Shazam! - Superhero origin film
Fantasy action adventure from DC.
The Wizard Shazam searches for many years to find someone worthy of taking over his magic powers, he chooses a 14 year old orphaned youth, Billy Batson who has recently been adopted into a very diverse family.
Billy can turn into the adult super hero by shouting the word Shazam!, he spends much of the film discovering what his powers are.
This is a very predictable plot, made for a much younger audience with mild humour and a Harry Potter atmosphere. The family sentiment of a boy looking for his family and is eventually adopted into one is admirable.
Stay for the customary post credit scene. OK but not great.
Pet Sematary (2019)
Pet sematary - I liked the incidental music but not much else
Horror thriller based on a book.
Family moves to the country, discovers a pet cemetery on their land and an area just beyond with a horrific secret. Several cheap jump scare scenes involving a juggernaut.
I'm not a horror fan, I'm not a Jason Clarke fan but I thought I'd give this a chance. Just not my genre and I wish I hadn't bothered.
Eaten by Lions (2018)
Eaten by Lions
Starts very strong with a heart-warming plot and frequent LOL humour.
Two half-brothers Omar and Pete are on a journey to find Omar's estranged father after their granny (who looked after them) passes away.
Pete is played by Jack Carroll, who UK viewers might recognise, but might not know why? He was a very young comedian and runner up in a recent Britain's got Talent contest. I think he was well cast and showed he can be a first rate actor as well.
Also stars Johnny Vegas, another well-known UK comedian, who wasn't used enough, he stole every scene. This is a great British film, which unfortunately really loses its way during the Rolls Royce sketch.
Us - Face your own personal daemons
Tense horror thriller.
Features a normal American family on holiday at their summer house that are terrorised by their own zombie doubles. The family exhibit some very good and relatable dynamics.
Flash backs help to describe (the mum) Adelaide's character. It seems that everyone has an evil underground twin that are rising to the surface intending to kill. This film will pull an audience with the reputation created from 'Get Out' though 'us' is more of a horror/ home invasion / slasher film.
Fisherman's Friends (2019)
Fisherman's Friends - Advert for Cornwall.
British drama based on a true story.
The audience were older (50 years+). The film follows a group of music producers on a stag do who stumbles across a group of 10 fishermen who sing sea shanties. The novice producer is pranked into signing them up, he promises the sailors too much to not to go through with it.
Features several toe tapping songs, the vocal sound is unique, the harmonies are great, the atmosphere is great. Unfortunately the fisherman characters are very stereotypical, I wasn't completely convinced by the record producer character.
Nice to see actual photos of the fishermen during the end credits.
Captain Marvel (2019)
Captain Marvel - Mehhh Val
Fantasy action adventure.
Origin film of a superhero 'Captain Marvel' gaining her power and also how 'Nick Fury' became who he is. The plot is confusing, and I still I don't know what the plan was and to be honest I found myself not really caring about the outcome.
Where was the humour I've come to enjoy?! The post credit scene didn't make me want to see the sequel. Pretty disappointing.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel - it ain't half bad
Sci-fi action adventure.
The dark gritty visuals made me think of a modern 'Blade-Runner' but with a love story at its core.
Plenty of action, I wish I'd seen it in 3D.
I didn't think I'd like it but it ain't half bad.
The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)
The Kindergarten Teacher - What a creepy teacher!
Drama, though this is a complementary term.
The 'teacher' grooms a 5 year old child, steals their work, and kidnaps them, cheats on her supportive husband, at the end gives herself up to the authorities.
In my mind the 5 year old didn't have the life experiences to write poetry like that, and in any case it wasn't that good anyway! I'm not a prude but there's unnecessary sex and unnecessary nudity.
The producers had an idea, and it could have worked but it just didn't. Unfortunately the film was shot like a cheap afternoon matinee.
I've endured 2 hours of nonsense so you don't have to, it sent me home with a thumping headache, thanks! I can't give any less than 1/10.
What They Had (2018)
What They Had - Very Relatable
Family melodrama staring Hilary Swank and Michael Shannon.
I wanted to see this film as I have been going through some difficult times and could immediately relate. Most people know someone or at the very least knows someone who knows someone who's dealing with Alzheimer's.
The wife is in decline, she's losing her mental capacity, and she wanders the streets in her nightgown, answers the phone by picking up a stapler and suchlike.
The husband is in denial of the condition.
The son suggests that assisted living in a 'memory centre' is now appropriate.
The daughter is not convinced this is the best option.
Everyone will have experienced someone with elements of this condition. A lot of families will relate.
Instant Family (2018)
Instant Family - An advert for adoption, with heartwarming emotional messages.
Comedy drama based on a true story.
This takes a young couple through the pros and cons of fostering. I wasn't really looking forward to this but I was surprised with how much I enjoyed. To start with I didn't like the foster mother character, but I'm not sure you're really supposed to. I gradually warmed to her character as she builds the parenting skills.
An advert for adoption, with heart-warming emotional messages.
Fighting with My Family (2019)
Fighting with my Family - Courage and determination
Comedy drama based on a true story, actually based on a C4 documentary program (channel 4 is a UK network entertainment station).
Follows the true story of a wrestling family, but particularly the brother and sister who share the same ambition to wrestle in the WWE. Only the sister makes it through the trial stages at the O2 (London venue), the brother is obviously devastated. She gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Florida for intensive training.
This is a heart-warming family drama that was very funny in places and had me in stitches several times. I watched this with my wife who is not a wrestling fan but she really loved it too!
Great whether you like wrestling, WWE, The Rock or not.
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
If Beale Street Could Talk - 'To bore a mocking bird'
Emotional racial drama.
Set in Harlem in the 1970's, this is a film about a young couple very much in love, just like 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' the protagonist is wrongly convicted of rape, we see strong support from her family to prove his innocence. She becomes pregnant, he goes to prison.
I thought the plot was overly long, very slow, especially the character building scenes, the story could have told in 20 minutes. I wanted this movie to be better than it was, especially as I was keen to see it.
At the risk of being considered racist I found this disappointing.
Lego Movie 2 - Not quite as Awesome but still VGood
Animated comedy adventure based on the children's construction toy.
This film plays out in a young boy's imagination. Aliens from Duplo invade the earth, our heroes' battle to defeat them and save the LEGO universe. This is a film about growing up and getting on with your sibling.
Is a colourful action sequel with more fun for kids, but still some gags for parents. The first film caught everyone by surprise, the sequel has lost some of the novelty magic but is still very funny and very good.
All Is True (2018)
All is true - Shakespeare, the greatest writer there has ever been
Covers the period following a fire at the Globe Theatre.
Shakespeare is the greatest writer there has ever been and ever likely to be. Unfortunately his extraordinary attention to his writing resulted in serious neglect of his family. Throughout the film depicts the great bard as a fairly ordinary man struggling to come to terms with the loss of his son.
There are some great candle lit scenes reminiscent of a Vermeer. There are some great performances, especially Judy Dench and Ian McKellen. Slow in places but worth a watch.
Boy Erased (2018)
Boy Erased - Pray the 'gay' away.
Drama, based on a true story.
The son of a preacher comes out and is sent to a gay conversion camp. The camp treats teenagers who are struggling with SSA (same-sex attraction), but it's really the parents who are struggling with this.
The high pressure therapy involves reading from the bible, praying a lot and forcing the 'disciples' to be what they're not in an attempt to 'reprogram' them in as much as illustrate that homosexuality is a sin, heterosexual is normal. They are forced to live in shame until they are eventually 'cured' by the process. These institutions are still legal and operating in many states.
Very similar (though not as good as) a recent film with the same theme called 'The Miss-education of Cameron Post'