Review: The Italian Job (2003)

“You know, the only thing worse than a thief is a coward.”
– Stella Bridger

SYNOPSIS: After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally. – via IMDB

I haven’t actually seen this since it came out, and recently figured I would give it a shot again. Which I did. Let me preface all that is to follow by saying that this movie holds up poorly upon rewatch. Very poorly. Essentially a 110 minute Mini Cooper advert, there is little to gel it all together. I am someone that enjoys a heist movie, really. They are fun, entertaining, and sharp. The Italian Job is not as smart or sassy as it pretends to be, and is nowhere near as witty as it think it is, either.

The movie has a recognizable cast, which is a big draw here. That being said, they all play rather flat characters that don’t actually develop at all, people we don’t really care about. The story is simple and straightforward, and not once does anything happen that surprises you. This is both a good and a bad thing in the fact that you can just get right down to things, but on the other hand offers up nothing to remember after the fact. The actors all seem to be having fun, which is a good thing.

The performances were decent and fit t he type of movie this was. The Italian Job was shot really well, and had decent pacing. By no means a thorough story or something you get too invested in, just enough to give you what you need to move on to the movie and the heist. Music fit the movie, but didn’t necessarily stand out in any which way. I don’t actually have much to say about this one.

At the end of the day, there are far better heist movies to occupy yourself with – ones with better stories, infinitely superior humour, and so much smarter. Ocean’s Eleven is a prime example of how a heist film can be done, and it had a much bigger set of characters to work with, and it was fleshed out far better than this. The Italian Job is not the worst movie you can waste your time on, but it pretty bland at the end of the day.

Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

“Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered and your time is short.”
– The Ancient One

SYNOPSIS: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts. – via IMDB

Goodness, it only took me forever to get to this! Finally I did so, and I must say, it is a Marvel film. It’s just what you expect. Good actors, decent story, decent effects, a silly love interest thrown into the mix, and some humour… you know, the regular recipe. This felt like your average Marvel film, which is both a good and a bad thing. It means you get a consistent viewing experience on the one hand, and on the other, it’s pretty generic and won’t stay with you forever. Yes. I said it.

I didn’t buy into the hype when this came and people lauded it. That is done for all Marvel releases, and only some of them are actually worthy of it. That being said, I was still interested to see what the studio would do with this, especially when I heard it get compared to things like Inception and The Matrix. I needed to see. I agree I can see where some of these comparisons come in, but unlike the other movies, there is not real stroke of brilliance here. For all the magic and sorcery that was spoken about, it just didn’t have the same vibe and feel here. It felt like things were rushed a bit, yet the movie felt overly long – yes, the pacing was a bit of an issue.

Doctor Strange did look good though. Really good. There were actually way too many effects going on for me, but I also think it was handled really well and looked awesome. The movie was also carried by an exceptionally good cast, and they all performed as best they could with the material they were given.  I think Cumberbatch was a fantastic choice to play Doctor Strange. There was the super awesome cape (I totally need one of those), and I enjoyed some of the humour. Wong was the best, and there was all sorts of mystical knowledge to be explored. It even had Mads Mikkelsen in it, peeps. But all of that could not save the movie. Ultimately it is rather forgettable. There is a very unfortunate love story squashed in, the pacing is all over the show, the story is actually pretty damn weak, and it never really goes for gold. Well, it feels like it doesn’t.

At the end of the day I was not bowled over as most people were. It is not a bad movie, not by a long shot. It is entertaining, looks good, and has an awesome cast attached to the project, these things cannot be denied. But the experience is pretty flat, there is nothing really new brought to the table, and it will not stay with you after all is said and done. For popcorn entertainment, it wasn’t bad, but it isn’t something I will be rushing to rewatch.

Review: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

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“I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe.”
– Desmond Doss

SYNOPSIS: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8Man oh man, I have been looking forward to this one for a variety of reasons, the two biggest being Andrew Garfield and Mel Gibson. Yeah sure, Gibson has done some cuckoo things, but he makes really good movies, and I enjoyed him a hell of a lot as an actor. As for Garfield? I just adore the guy. He is a talented actor and cute as a button. So how did the pairing come

Hacksaw Ridge impressed me. It really did. It isn’t so much a war movie as a drama – but do not take that to mean that you will not get a super vivid, clear depiction of the war, because you will. More than an hour is spent setting up Doss’s character and experiences, and driving home what his morals are, and how he sticks by them. The second half shows what happened on Hacksaw Ridge, but never really more of the war. It is the story of one man, and it is an amazing story. I was truly awestruck by how insane the story was, but also how inspiring. I liked, too, that the movie was very detailed about Desmond Doss’s faith. It handled this in depth, but it never felt preachy. It never felt like the viewer was being lectured on faith. It simply told his story, and I really appreciated that. Nobody wants some holier than thou message being shoved down their throats.

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I thought that Garfield was absolutely fantastic here. Really. He owned that role and I totally believed in his plight, and I was beyond impressed here. Garfield and Palmer also shared some great chemistry, and I must admit that I really liked watching them together. The score worked wonders, never overpowering, never being absent. The cast did a pretty good job, and visually the film was really nice to look at, and the camera was never overly shaky cam or too steady, making it impossible to watch, or too structured, and I think that worked in favour here.

Hacksaw Ridge managed to balance the nastiness and brutality of war, while still give us an inspiring story of a man, his faith, and what he wanted to do. Gibson did another good job here, proving to us once again that he is not afraid of getting to the nitty gritty of a film. I would say this movie is well worth a watch.

My recommendation? Skip the trailer and go straight into the movie.

100 Happy Days 2: Day 1 – 10

Hi guys! Alright, I did this 100 Happy Days challenge over a year ago, and I quite enjoyed it, and thought it was quite a positive experience. Things have been a little bit hectic lately, and I thought it would be a good time to do this again, as it worked really well last time, and I do need to look on the bright side again. So without further ado, welcome to Round Two of the 100 Happy Days challenge!

Day 1:

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My husband bought me a box set of The Mentalist for Christmas, and I got all over it the moment I got the opportunity to. The show is a load of fun, and really great.

Day 2:

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I recently scored some great books. I have read Manson’s The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell before, but now I own it, and I was beyond stoked – it’s a really good read. I wasted no time getting to it, and again, it did not disappoint.

Day 3:

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I topped up my snack drawer at work again, and even though I don’t consume as much junk anymore as I used to, it is nice to know that there is something yummy in my drawer whenever I want it!

Day 4:

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Ah, time to relax. Coffee, apple crumble, starting a new knitting project while finishing up Alias? I don’t think that’s too bad.

Day 5:

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Ah man! A student brought us the best peppermint crisp tart ever when he wrote his final exams to thank us. I think it’s a damn fine thank you!

Day 6:

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There are truly few things I love as much in my life as reading the Harry Potter books. I am all over this series again, and it remains as phenomenal as always.

Day 7:

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My husband recently went on holiday to the United States of America, and brought me an adorable little turtle home. I call it the Love Turtle. It’s so beautiful and super cute.

Day 8:

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So my favourite sea salt spray was discontinued ages ago, and I have been struggling to find a replacement. The Lee Stafford one that I tried last time was terrible – my hair went crunchy and sticky, so not what I was looking for. Bought the Fudge Urban one recently and so far, so good, perfect beach hair with no effort. Loving it!

Day 9:

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So The Mentalist is over, and I am dead sad about that. I have moved on to a rerun of The Vampire Diaries – don’t even judge me monkeys. Picked the box set up recently for a damn good price, so I am pretty stoked about that!

Day 10:

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Yes, I love purple. A lot. It’s a standing joke when I order something that people are “sure it is purple”. Well, lots of times they are right. My new little purple lighter makes me happier than I can say.

Review: The Long Hard Road Out of Hell – Marilyn Manson with Neil Strauss

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SYNOPSIS: In his twenty-nine years, rock idol Manson has experienced more than most people have (or would want to) in a lifetime. Now, in his shocking and candid memoir, he takes readers from backstage to gaol cells, from recording studios to emergency rooms, from the pit of despair to the top of the charts, and recounts his metamorphosis from a frightened Christian schoolboy into the most feared and revered music superstar in the country. – via Goodreads

GRADE 9This is a book I have read a few times over, and I enjoy it every single time I read it. The first time I read it, I was about 17. I was so excited, being a Manson fan and all, and my husband and I lay sprawled on the couch all day, reading together. It is a mark of the book that it is, because my other half will not willingly read, but he read it in an afternoon. It was good. It was interesting. But let’s talk about the book.

Manson has always been a controversial figure. He freaks a lot of people out, others think he is some god, I don’t know. I think he’s a talented artist that had a message to share and found a slid way to do it. I find him to be highly intelligent. He is a nihilist, has an ego, sure, but the man is also exceptionally interesting. I enjoyed that this book handles a bit about Manson and a bit about getting the band together, the blood, sweat, tears, narcotics, and lunacy it took for the band to make it, and how that all came to be.

My husband and a group of friends had a band when they were younger that did really well for themselves, and I know how crazy some of the stories get of playing shows and the people you meet, so I could totally see some of the stories in this happening. Rock/metal is such a different type of genre and the people attached to it see life differently, so I thoroughly enjoyed that. The Long Hard Road Out of Hell is smartly written, and it flows pretty well. It jumps here and there for things, but it all just fits. You cannot help but be drawn in to read more of the depraved work. It is a shocking novel, which I am pretty sure was the intent from the outset, but it is engaging, and it is smart.

I really liked the layout of the book, too, what with the colour photo inserts, as well as the art, sketches, photos, interviews, diary entries, etc. that were littered throughout the book. It made for the book look cool, because the layout is so different from your average biographical book. This makes it a memorable read. It’s also quite a quick book to work through. It pretty much deals with Manson before the super big time, all the way until the release of Antichrist Superstar, which was the band’s ticket to the big time, and how it went with that. I appreciated this. It didn’t carry on for forever and twelve days about decades worth of material. It picked a time frame, and then got on with it. Much appreciated.

Okay, as you can all tell, this is a book I enjoyed. There’s a lot to like about this, even if you don’t like the man. There are some really humorous sections, and others that are really dark and honest, and plenty pages dealing with the depravity and insanity that comes with that world, but it all just works. If you like being shocked, or you enjoy Manson, or think that some of these bands have some crazy stories to tell, then this is definitely worth checking out.

Review: Cruel Intentions (1999)

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“Most people are sheep. Who are you to criticize something you’ve never experienced?”
– Sebastian Valmont

SYNOPSIS: Two vicious step-siblings of an elite Manhattan prep school make a wager: to deflower the new headmaster’s daughter before the start of term. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8Rewatching this recently was very rewarding. I watched it many years ago, definitely when I was way too young for this on way too many levels. I was on such a nineties binge, and this was right up on my list. I watched it with my hubby, and then again shortly after with Natasha, because she hadn’t seen it.

Right off the bat, the movie is twisted. I don’t say that in a bad way (you all know how much I love a little bit of the icky). Cruel Intentions explores some really dark subject manner, touts some truly reprehensible characters, and really looks at the depths of depravity and cruelty that some people are overly familiar with. The cast played their roles so convincingly, and that really helped it along. Witherspoon was sweet, pure, and adorable, while Phillippe and Gellar both nailed the dark, twisted, sadistic beings that they were. The supporting cast, too, was quite good.

Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe has fantastic chemistry here (yes, I know they were together, but it conveys so well on screen). It was great to watch them. Selma Blair’s Cecile just annoyed me endlessly. I am sorry, she was just so… silly. Pointless. Annoying. I get why she was there, and Blair played Cecile well, but she was one character I was not overly fond of. I would have liked to see more Joshua Jackson, and his character was a right snake!

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The pacing for this is pretty good, and it all works together to bring about a solid story, albeit quite a nasty one, and it provides the viewer with a most satisfying, unexpected conclusion, and just looking at the fact that it is not the same stale story with a little twist in it is pretty refreshing.

There are flaws, surely, but the movie is engrossing and fascinating regardless of that. The dialogue is a little odd at times, and these kids are really hard to identify with. These people are sick and twisted, and yet you cannot help being drawn into their crazy games. Sebastian is a character that develops quite a bit, yet Kathryn never even tries to change her ways. I found Cruel Intentions to be dark and devious, and definitely something to keep you hooked from the off. That being said, I just don’t think it is going to work for more sensitive viewers.

Sporadic Scene: The Vampire Diaries (Season 3×11) – Klaus Heals Caroline

This scene… was beautiful. Unexpected. Up until this point, Klaus had just been a crazy, psychotic killer Original. Heck, he was even the one that sent Tyler out to bite Caroline, so I was really surprised to see him show up on her doorstep, and more than a little wary. Then he sits there and has the sweetest, most touching conversation with Caroline and I was amazed. What a beautiful side. He owed her nothing, and there was nothing here to indicate it was a romance, it was just a selfless moment where Klaus shared something, inspired something in Caroline – he stood to gain nothing, and yet he still did it. I didn’t trust the turn in character one iota initially, but it was the first time we got a look at something genuine within Klaus, and it really is stunning. It turned me into a fan. I liked him well enough before, but he was never really a layered character, and this single scene changed my entire opinion of him. From here on out he just grows. Well played, writers, well played.