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All About Eve (1950)
Intelligent and savage; an all time classic
This lived up to the hype and reputation. Phenomenal acting, writing, cinematography. It reminded me of Sunset Boulevard and will stay with me.
It was my first Bette Davis film. It was also my first time seeing Marilyn Monroe in film. I won't forget either of them in this. Bette Davis captivated me from start to finish. I don't think I've ever quite experienced an actress like her. Incredible stuff.
Marilyn Monroe barely has any screen time in this. She doesn't need to. Her first scene somehow took my breath away and she barely did anything. Her beauty, charisma and presence were one of those moments you remember in cinema. I now see what the fuss was all about.
I love that all the actresses really run this show. They're such strong characters and it was refreshing to see among movies from this era. Witty dialogue throughout delivered well.
The story itself is savage and dark and all ties together nicely. It's clever, and says a lot about idea of celebrity and the film industry itself. It's as relevant today as it was in 1950, perhaps even more so. Despite being slightly too long, I definitely recommend it.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
I love drunk Jimmy Stewart
Finally watched this classic and glad I did. Smart, playful script delivered by some of the greatest actors in the prime of their careers. It certainly felt like a pioneering romantic comedy.
It centers around this rich chick, Tracy (Katharine Hepburn) who is about to get married (2nd time) to some bloke called Kittredge. Writer Mike Connor (Jimmy Stewart) and photographer Liz (Ruth Hussey) rock up to cover the wedding for a tabloid magazine. Tracy's ex-husband CK Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) is also there. Hijinks ensue.
All the actors are at their best here. Jimmy Stewart steals the show with his Oscar winning performance and charisma. The chemistry between all actors was great. It took me a while to get into it, but once I did it was enjoyable enough. I liked the ending, despite how crazy it all was. A sequel would've been fun with Jimmy and Ruth's characters getting together.
Jimmy Stewart's drunk scene was a highlight, and Hepburn's strong performance as Tracy was a joy to watch - easy to see why it broke her into proper stardom. The stars are what make this a memorable film. A nice form of escapism in 2020.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Miss you Heath
This was easy enough to watch. Heath Ledger tends to make anything watchable or memorable. Miss him a lot!
The young cast were all very talented. It has a kind of comforting 90s vibe, which is what I was looking forward to. As close to a time machine as we can get!
The highlights are definitely Heath's serenading in front of the school, and that poem finale.
Watching this for the first time as a 31 year-old, I found myself less invested in the characters as I probably would've been as a teen. Still, it made me smile a few times and was pleasant enough to watch.
The Incredible Journey (1963)
Bodger steals the show
I really hope no animals were harmed in the making of this. Certain scenes gave me a really bad feeling though, and definitely took away some of my enjoyment.
If you can ignore the blatant animal cruelty going on, it's quite a wholesome film. The remakes were favourites of mine growing up, though this didn't quite reach those levels.
I was surprised at how much like a Disney nature documentary this felt. Bodger is really the star of the show here, and it was him who made me laugh, made me emotional and who I could surprisingly relate way too much with.
There are far worse films out there than this, though animal films have certainly come along way since The Incredible Journey. A happy ending somewhat makes up for the cruelty and blandness shown at other times in this film.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
An angry feminist rant dressed up as a quirky rom-com
We get it, you hate white heterosexual men. There's even a line where Julianne Moore says to her son (Josh Hutcherson): "why can't you be gay?"
I was enjoying this for the most part, but increasingly felt an agenda taking over. It felt unique, yet forced at the same time. I was made to genuinely feel for all the characters, and then made to simultaneously start to dislike them all too. As a fellow reviewer described this movie: "you get drawn in, only to be dropped like wet cement." The most likeable character here was perhaps the gardener guy - yet much like the viewers themselves, he gets treated poorly in an unnecessary way.
This is a movie that screams "2010" and it isn't aging well. A lot has happened in the decade since. I had previously found Lisa Cholodenko's Unbelievable an incredible piece of work - powerful, heartbreaking and yet somewhat satisfying in conclusion. The Kids Are All Right left me quite unsatisfied, and feeling like numerous issues were unresolved.
Ruffalo delivers a strong performance alongside an equally great Julianne Moore and Annette Benning. His storyline just peters out into nothingness though, after the film spends 3/4 of the film building it. The film is seriously letdown by its final act.
Is this a coming of age film? An LGBTQI piece? A quirky rom-com? A feminist anti-men rant? Who really knows? It tries to do so many things at once, that it leaves the viewer with a bitter taste. A shame, because it had the ingredients for something special.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Makes you want to visit Paris or read the classics
I abandoned this years ago. Second attempt I really enjoyed it. Guess I have grown as a person since then, and my likes and knowledge of famous literary icons has improved.
Paris is the real star of the show though. It's a beautifully shot film. The kind of film that makes you want to just walk around through Paris, or basically any city, daydreaming of a different time.
It's got a comforting vibe about it, and warm colours, great music. It all combines to create a wonderful atmosphere. A fantastic form of escapism. If it doesn't inspire you to visit Paris, then it would surely inspire you to delve into the work of these creative geniuses depicted.
The story works well and I enjoyed the ending. The annoying characters became less annoying as the film progressed. Owen Wilson was well suited to his role. Glad I gave it a second chance!
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
Solid court room drama
This is really Sacha Baron Cohen and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's movie. Their performances stood out most, along with a usually solid Mark Rylance. It was Sacha and Yahya's delivery which actually motivated me to research more into who they were portraying afterwards.
This was a solid movie, but at the end of the day it's a 2+ hour court room drama and crash course in 1960s American politics. Court room dramas have been done better. As a non-American who lives over 15,000km from the US, American politics start to just become white noise to me these days. This film probably wasn't the best choice of escapism from 2020.
That said, it's still a well-written film, which has come to be expected from Sorkin. I think his directing skills haven't quite caught up to match his writing ability though. Just felt it was missing something.
It certainly succeeds in making the viewer frustrated - that judge! Just wish the whole film had matched the phenomenal intro.
Hubie Halloween (2020)
Ridiculous fun and much needed antidote to 2020
Far out, I need that thermos.
In a year filled with surprises, this was (for me) yet another. I really enjoyed this. It was the most ridiculous, silly escape from the depression of 2020.
Numerous running jokes throughout the movie that kept making me laugh. Great cameos. Everyone seemed to be having fun and not taking themselves or the movie too seriously.
Some memorable and quotable one-liners that had me laughing out loud. If you feeling like switching your brain off this Halloween, then I highly recommend it.
Somehow becomes feel-good and has a satisfying ending. It made me smile and in a year like this, that's worth its weight in gold.
If I can't find a thermos as bad-ass as Hubie's, then a few of June Squibb's t-shirts will do just fine!
Sandler's best in years.
Lost on Everest (2020)
Gripping stuff, beautiful cinematography
Have long been intrigued by the mystery of Mallory and Irvine. I love basically everything about Everest, and have since I was a kid. This National Geographic documentary is no exception!
Some spectacular cinematography and footage of Everest. Viewers are made to feel like they're part of the adventure and expedition. The conditions and danger of Everest are captured well.
Numerous moments made me go "whoah". Full credit to all the guys for the risks taken. It just got slightly frustrating towards the end. For a film that is basically all about Mallory and Irvine, and looking to solve the mystery, it then descends into a usual 'lets summit Everest' documentary.
The actual search for Irvine's body seemed to take a real backseat towards the end - just seemingly tacked on. But still, this was a great documentary for Everest buffs and those into unsolved mysteries. National Geographic have been putting out some excellent climbing films recently.
Powerful and technically brilliant
The kind of film that leaves you completely stunned and exhausted as the credits roll.
How do you even write a review for this? Feel too stunned. It was great. The technical aspects were excellent. Did I enjoy it? Given the realism, to say I enjoyed it, would be to practically say I enjoyed war. War is hell. I don't much like hell.
The runtime went by so fast, which I think is a great way to gauge how good a film is. George McKay was phenomenal. Amazing seeing his career transformation from singing Proclaimers songs to William Schofield on the frontlines of WWI.
The cinematography was breathtaking. In fact, the whole film was breathtaking to the extent you need to come up for air. Only once the credits roll can you finally come up for air and start to process what you've seen.
Powerful stuff. I enjoyed it a lot more than Dunkirk.
A superb documentary
By far the most effective documentary about climate change that I've seen.
Attenborough has spent a lifetime showing us different worlds, and life through the eyes of different species on our planet. Now, we get to truly see the world through his eyes. It makes for fascinating, heartbreaking and hopeful viewing.
Documentaries about climate change are often far too pessimistic. In fact, their messages often get lost on me because they're just so doom and gloom. The heaviness weighs me down and I come away feeling depressed and hopeless for the future of the planet.
This documentary left me feeling good. It doesn't shy away from the predicament humans have put themselves in, but unlike many others, it provides (in a nutshell) a roadmap out and optimistic look at the future if we act now. I found it very effective that the film was bookended by Attenborough at Pripyat.
If this David Attenborough witness statement happens to be his last work, then he leaves us with his most important yet.
A must watch for all of us.
The Way Back (2020)
Great story of sport, addiction and redemption
Was easy to get caught up in this. All the characters were quite likeable, with real problems and a lot of heart.
Ben Affleck plays the role of weary, life-battered Jack Cunningham quite effectively. With his own stints in rehab, it's clear he harnessed something from within for this role. It pays off, because it takes what would otherwise be a generic sports film to the next level.
It was feel-good, but with both feet firmly planted in the real world. The basketball scenes were as good as any I've seen. The parallels in the way they played the game of basketball, and dealt with life's challenges were obvious, without being shoved in our face.
It touched on numerous themes, the largest of which was redemption. A solid sports film, addiction journey and comeback story. Recommend for fans of basketball and Affleck.
The Gentlemen (2019)
So much fun!
The funniest film I've seen in a long time. It was a riotous rollercoaster of fun, laughter and good times!
This is by far my favourite Guy Ritchie film. The style, swagger and entertainment value was awesome. I actually enjoyed it more than I did Lock, Stock.
The beginning was a little jarring, but it soon found a good rhythm and settled into a groove that propelled it the duration. So many standout moments, funny scenes and quotable lines. Everyone was at the top of their game and seemingly having fun with what was a fantastic script.
It was almost like everyone was playing a role opposite their usual typecasts. Hugh Grant was so hilarious, in one of his best performances. It's hard to imagine his previous film was Paddington 2! Charlie Hunnam was excellent as Raymond. I really loved his character and his interplay with Hugh Grant's Fletcher was a highlight.
McConaughey and Farrell were perfectly cast in their respective roles. Michelle Dockery managed to steal every scene she was in. Can't help but wonder what Lady Mary Crawley from Downton would've thought! Eddie Marsan was his usual excellent self in his role as Big Dave too.
I loved how everything tied together in typically genius Ritchie style. Definitely recommend. If you're after a fun, refreshing movie and a lot of laughs, then put this on.
A Rainy Day in New York (2019)
My favourite Woody Allen film
My 10th Woody Allen film and now my favourite - I found the whole thing oddly hypnotic.
It gave me a few chuckles, and I just found myself really engrossed in the adventures of Gatsby (Timothee Chalamet) and Ashleigh (Elle Fanning). It was way better than I thought it would be. It certainly helped that it was set in New York, as the city was one of the strongest characters.
It was my first time seeing a Timothee Chalamet film, and I found he really carried the film. He certainly slotted into that self-absorbed and quirky-Allen-cliche-character quite naturally. The supporting cast looked like they were enjoying themselves too.
The whole film had numerous really beautiful shots. I enjoyed the witty dialogue too. Couldn't help but smile at times. Sure, it might be a bit pretentious and not for everyone, but I really enjoyed this one. Its short runtime was just the right length.
Makes me want to revisit New York. I enjoyed the slight plot twist, loved the ending - and I won't be forgetting that piano.
Official Secrets (2019)
Possibly Keira Knightley's greatest performance
I really enjoyed this one. Quite possibly Keira Knightley's greatest performance and an important true story to boot!
The film sees Brit intelligence specialist Katharine Gun leak a memo to the press (Martin Bright). The memo basically directed British intelligence to spy on (and blackmail) UN security council members - so they would vote in favour of an Iraq War (thereby making it legal etc).
These types of films can often be quite confusing. I thought Official Secrets delivered the story quite effectively in an easy-to-understand and digest way. I found myself completely engrossed and invested in the plight of Katharine.
The wonderful performances by a seriously all-star cast certainly helped keep me engaged. Besides Keira Knightley at her best, "Official Secrets" features Matt Smith (ol' Prince Philip from "The Crown"), a dishevelled Rhys Ifans (impossible to dislike), Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes (uncharacteristically as a good guy!). Even "Black Books" Tamsin Greig made an appearance.
"Official Secrets" is not only a film about real life events, but about staying true to yourself and your values. Standing up for what we believe is right. It's powerful stuff.
Kind of felt a bit like "Spotlight" meets "Denial". With all the espionage, and intelligence services depicted in this film, it starts to make you wonder why more people aren't talking about how great "Official Secrets" is. Definitely one that has slipped under the radar. Highly recommend!
The Social Dilemma (2020)
Somewhat interesting, but that dramatisation...
Found the start of this quite interesting. The psychology at play is the most intriguing part - how social media is designed to manipulate and prey on the psychology of the individual user.
I wasn't much a fan of the dramatisation taking place though. The segment on fake news (while important), was less interesting and felt drawn out.
I agreed with the vast majority of points raised, but the doom and gloom towards the end became a bit relentless.
It held my attention, but I kept expecting something more. I was waiting for the moment that would trigger me to delete all social media. It never came. It will make me look at what I see on social media in a different way though.
I feel like this has ensured I'm more aware of my own social media habits.
'Fast and Furious'.. with tanks
The English tagline for this sums it up well: "Fast and Furious with Tanks".
This was a lot of fun, and was epic in scale. It reminded me a bit of the 80s and 90s action blockbusters - where you had to suspend a bit of disbelief, but were entertaining nonetheless.
Inspired by a true story, T-34 sees a tank commander and his crew literally bust out of a concentration camp and go on the run from Nazis. The cinematography and action scenes are dramatic and the film looks really good.
A few soundtrack choices felt out of place at times. But that just added to the unique Russian charm after a while. Never seen a movie with so many slow-motion shots.
This film, (despite its silliness and unrealistic elements) reeled me in quickly. I found myself quite engrossed and captivated by what was happening. I was wanting the Russians to survive against the odds and find a way to freedom.
Alexander Petrov (as Ivushkin) and Irina Starshenbaum (as Anya) shared some great chemistry and fine acting skills. I enjoyed Viktor Dobronravov as crazy-good tank driver Stepan too.
If you want a crazy, epic action-packed WWII film, then maybe T-34 is for you. I watched it in its natural language (with English subtitles) and not the dubbed version. If you need a high-level of authenticity, then maybe pass. This Australian enjoyed it!
A Guide to Second Date Sex (2019)
This was fun and hilariously awkward!
Hilariously awkward, with excellent chemistry from leads George McKay and Alexandra Roach. Was great seeing both these excellent actors in a flat out comedy.
You could tell everyone involved was having a lot of fun. I was laughing out loud through majority of the film. Many people should be able to find something to relate to - if you can't, then it's a sign you probably haven't been living enough.
The random housemate guy kind of stole the show for me - I laughed for 100% of his screen time (thanks Tom Bell!). A Guide to Second Date Sex felt incredibly "real". Not just with the awkward 'warts n' all' bedroom antics, but with the lack of soundtrack and real-time unfolding of events.
Despite its short duration, there was also room for McKay and Roach to briefly showcase their considerable dramatic acting chops. All in all, this was fun for what it was and more people should give it a go!
Enola Holmes (2020)
Energetic and empowering good time
Not bad. 'Enola Holmes' has a lot of style and swagger. It felt fresh, unique and yet familiar at the same time.
Millie Bobby Brown (who I'd previously never heard of) brings a lot of energy to her performance as Enola. The film itself has a lot of energy and enough 4th wall breaks to reel-in even the most sleepy of viewers. Millie certainly has a strong supporting cast working with her too - they're just rather underutilized. Henry Cavill gave one of the best portrayals of Sherlock Holmes I've seen.
I still have no idea what that romantic interest boy's name was. But that's probably half the point. The men and boys here are just but a sideshow to Enola Holmes and the empowering themes for women throughout. I'm glad young women are getting more and more cinematic role models.
While I wasn't the target audience, 'Enola Holmes' still kept me entertained, without being truly remarkable. I probably will have forgotten this by tomorrow, though I'm curious where a potential franchise of this goes.
Mr. Jones (2019)
A powerful film that will stay with me a long time
It felt a bit like 'Spotlight' transported back into the 1930s USSR. It sees journalist Gareth Jones traveling to Ukraine, and discovering the horrors of Stalin's man-made famine. This is the first film I've seen depicting this particular atrocity, despite learning about it (and the Holocaust) in school.
The film certainly shifted intensity once Gareth finds a way to reach Ukraine and slowly discovers the conditions firsthand. Numerous scenes will be etched in my memory - fruit on a train, a crying baby, singing children, "Kolya" and a footchase through snow-covered forest. It was intense. Some viewers will probably start feeling some of the hunger themselves.
James Norton delivered a really strong performance as Gareth Jones. Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard were great in supporting roles too. Peter Sarsgaard seems to be seriously typecast as the sleazeball villain in everything these days.
The film follows the story of Gareth Jones as much as it does the famine itself, interceded with appearances of George Orwell. It's the first film I've seen by director Agnieszka Holland and I'm impressed! Will keep a lookout for her future work. Disappointing "Mr Jones" has somehow slipped under the radar for many. Definitely recommend this to those after a powerful, though-provoking film depicting real-life events.
Richard Jewell (2019)
Another brilliant film directed by Clint Eastwood
Sometimes actors and actress depict unpleasant characters so convincingly, that they ruin themselves to an audience as a person - this happened in Richard Jewell for me. Both Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde irritated me to the extent I'll struggle watching them in anything else again.
The pacing of Richard Jewell and the fact it was a true story, kept me engaged throughout. It never felt slow. The frustration and treatment of Richard almost became too much at times. Thank god for Sam Rockwell and his performance as Watson Bryant. Rockwell felt like he was often playing the character of "us", the audience. He also provided welcome comic relief, as well as being someone in Richard's corner.
I'd never heard of Paul Walter Hauser before this. He hit it out of the ballpark with his portrayal of Richard Jewell. How did this man not scoop up a heap of awards? Have I missed something? He was fantastic. Kathy Bates also had her moments to shine as Richard's Mama. She seemed so suited to that role.
Clint Eastwood has given us a powerful tribute here - doing the story (and the man) justice. Feels quite timely too, given current circumstances around the world. Recommend, though not a film I'll watch more than once.
Hitler's Circle of Evil: Meltdown (2018)
Perfect companion episode to 'Downfall'
Probably the best episode out of this great documentary series. It's the perfect companion piece to the movie Downfall, as it showcases many of the events depicted in that film.
It doesn't just show the last 24 hours in Hitler's bunker though. It also features some of the Nuremberg Trials and other bits and pieces - which tie together all the players we have followed from Hitler's inner circle throughout the series.
Lilyhammer: Ghosts (2013)
The best Lilyhammer episode
An amazing way to wrap up Season 2 of a great show! This one really has it all and is a laugh-out-loud fun time from start to finish.
Sopranos fans are guaranteed to love it, with numerous surprises and nods to that wonderful former show of Van Zandt's.
'Ghosts' also perfectly showcases the blending (and clashing) of Norwegian and American cultures .
There are quite a few amazing lines and scenes in this one and it all ends up rather satisfying. Fantastic. 10/10.
Plus One (2019)
A fun surprise!
Well this movie was a pleasant surprise! Glad I persisted with it, as it took me a little while to get into. I soon found myself having a good time though!
Maya Erksine (Alice) and Jack Quaid (Ben) have great chemistry and work really well off eachother. There are many laugh-out-loud moments and they often come out of nowhere - such is the hilariously unpredictable nature of Maya's character Alice. Maya Erksine really propelled this film forward, with her comedic performance the real standout.
The film has a big heart underneath its raunchy jokes and occasional crass humour. While it strays into stereotypical rom-com territory, it still manages to feel fresh. It was easy to watch and made me smile, which was exactly what I needed for my Saturday night!
Mine 9 (2019)
Not a fan
I didn't have high expectations for this, but it still somehow didn't meet them. It just seemed like a whole lot of fumbling around in the dark while slowly suffocating.
This felt more like a horror movie than drama or intense survival story. The catastrophic series of events, the gore, the darkness (above and below ground) - the horror feel was throughout. It did, however, succeed in paying tribute to the brave souls for who the coal mines are a way of life.
I understand budgetary restraints, but the special effects here were woeful. Made me feel like I was watching a video game and it took me out of the film. The acting was fine, but the storyline just didn't do anything much. The film petered out into nothingness.
For a better take on a mine disaster film (and based on a true story), check out Beaconsfield (2012).