Review: The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

“I don’t wanna take up a ton of your time, but I’m gonna kill myself. I just thought an adult should know.”
– Nadine 

SYNOPSIS: High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother. – via IMDB

Alright, so I know this rated really highly with people, so I was interested to see how this coming of age film sets itself apart from others in the genre, and there are a few ways, some good, and some bad. It was definitely different in the sense that you don’t actually really like our protagonist, though she does grow as the movie progresses (as to be expected), and ultimately you can see the changes.

Nadine is a more unlikable character than you are used to for this type of movie. Sure, they are supposed to have unlikable aspects, things that change as the movie progresses, but Nadine has virtually no redeeming points, and is selfish on a totally believable teenage level, this is to say that the whole world had to revolve around her. She also encounters situations where being abrasive doesn’t always helps, and other times it did. All that being said, I did like the way the movie did a really good job capturing the insecurities of a teenage girl, as well as the constant stress and complete teenage selfishness.

Even with that being done exceptionally well, I didn’t love this. It isn’t a bad movie, it just didn’t make me feel much of anything. I enjoyed watching Woody Harrelson, because he’s awesome and so was his character, but aside from that? Oh yes, there is Erwin, and I thought he was adorable. Besides them? There were no characters I really enjoyed, or situations, or interactions (except between Nadine and poor Mr Bruner). The movie just came across as really flat and shallow, which is unfortunate. It also wasn’t funny, which at times it felt like it was desperately trying to be. I didn’t find this as deep and poignant as others did. It isn’t a bad watch, it just didn’t do for me what I was hoping it would.

The Edge of Seventeen does a great job of capturing the totally self-centred nature of being a teen, as well as all the awkwardness of it. The movie features sold performances and is shot well, but it doesn’t have the heart or humour it thinks it has.

 

Review: Logan (2017)

“Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.”
– Logan

SYNOPSIS: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces. – via IMDB

Finally! Got out to see Logan, something I have been looking forward to, but also slightly wary of after The Wolverine, which I absolutely detested. I was hoping that this would be the movie we have all been waiting for for the Wolverine, and let me tell you, it totally is! Hugh Jackman returns as our favourite animalistic antihero, and man, he was just perfect again. As always.

Logan definitely touts a darker, more grown up story, and is so much more human than I expected. This movie isn’t about let’s save the day and take down the bad guys. No, this one looks more at Logan, his relationship with Professor X, and how he is getting on in life, yet is still angry and bitter about many things. Ever the antihero, I suppose. Logan has feeling, and this is evident every step of the way. There is some humour tossed in, nice and dark, but for the most part this is quite an intense drama, and the Wolverine movie we have been waiting for for years.

The effects were really good, and the movie was shot well. You were engaged from the off by both the story as well as the way it all came together, and the movie touts some excellent choreography, which we always wish to see when the Wolverine is out there. The cast is good, too, and I was particularly impressed with Boyd Holbrook, an actor I am familiar with from Narcos. While he was good in that show, he absolutely shone here, and I found myself  incredibly surprised. Also, big fan of his fancy arm.

Logan is heavy, dark, emotional, and just what the doctor ordered. It is a solid outing that will linger for some time after, and definitely cuts to the bone. Longtime fans will be particularly thrilled with how it all comes together.

100 Happy Days 2: Day 21 – 30

Today is part three of my second round of the 100 Happy Days challenge. I am not going to waffle on or anything, so let’s get right down to it.

Day 21:

Yummy! Initially my parade was pissed on when heading out to see Logan and my husband got called in for work. So I sulked and snack shopping for Africa ensued, then I curled up on the couch with The Vampire Diaries and had a total blast anyway.

Day 22:

Been looking forward to rewatching Sherlock for a while now, I do so love the show. I was beyond happy when my husband decided to watch it with me this time (his first viewing). We had a total blast.

Day 23:

Another beautiful gift my husband brought back for me from the States – a sugar skull! I was so pleased, and I think it is stunning. And look, purple! xD

Day 24:

Oh yeah, adding to my collection again! I updated my Lethal Weapon collection to Blu-Ray, and replaced my Crazy, Stupid, Love that shattered in the last case because it had a shitty design. Chuck because, well, Chuck is awesome. Plus I wanted all my seasons to be shiny and new.

Day 25:

Went for a quick coffee on the way home from work at The Beantree Café. Man, they have delicious coffee. Today was a hazelnut latte day, next time will surely be a caffè mocha kinda day. They also have the most amazing cinnamon biscuit things. Hmmmm.

Day 26:

Okay, okay, I didn’t intend for this to be yet another coffee post but I just got my new (read first) blender, and wanted to make iced coffee. It came out perfectly – and it was ridiculously quick and easy! Since then I have gone on to make an array of smoothies and milkshakes, and I love that little contraption. Totally worth the money. Soon I want to make some soup with it. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Day 27:

Got out and watched John Wick Chapter 2, which I am sure most of you know I have been super amped for because I freaking adore John Wick. Keanu Reeves man, Keanu Reeves.

Day 28:

It was our first wedding anniversary, and I am eternally grateful to be fortunate to share my life with my husband. He is absolutely amazing.

Day 29:

Oh yeah! Got spoiled with a Terry’s Chocolate Orange the other day. Bliss I tell you, bliss. Wish we had the dark chocolate ones here. Nothing like orange in chocolate I tell you. Yummy.

Day 30:

YES! My topcoat of choice, Essie’s Good To Go, was not being brought into South Africa anymore recently (I even tried that other super crap No Chips Ahead of theirs but it sucks). My heart was broken and I had to start hunting down a new top coat. Unfortunately I am super finicky about what I want, and nothing was ticking the boxes quite like this one, but then I found it and I bought it. My manicures are back to looking amazing again. So stoked.

Review: Arrival (2016)

“There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived.”
– Dr Louise Banks

SYNOPSIS: When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors. – via IMDB

I saw a trailer for this a while ago and thought it looked interesting. I was infinitely more curious when I saw Denis Villeneuve’s name attached to the project as I rather like his work. Arrival did not disappoint at all, and was definitely one of the better alien movies I have seen in a while, and I am a sucker for them. It definitely got right what most alien movies don’t – the movie maintained an air of mystery, it was smart, while the aliens were super important, we didn’t get to see too much of them (I mean this visually, not that they were not present), but what we did see of them was icky man.

Despite having Amy Adams helm the film (which for me could potentially have held it back, she is one of those actresses that irrationally annoys the shit out of me), it worked out just fine. In fact, I think Adams did a good job with the material she was given. I also enjoyed Jeremy Renner in this, and liked the interactions between Ian and Louise. I was glad that Villeneuve did not force a love story into the middle of this, as a romance was totally secondary to all that was going on.

I really liked how the film took time to set itself up. It was never rushed, or too slow and dull. The story was also very engaging. It took its time to set up a solid movie, which was also directed perfectly and visually appealing, well acted, and had a brilliant score to accompany it. There was just so much to enjoy here. As I mentioned before, I was pleased that we didn’t see too much of the aliens, as it maintained mystery and kept them super creepy. I appreciate how smart Arrival is, too, because I love a movie that makes me think.

Arrival is an impressive alien/sci-fi film, and definitely impressed me. I can highly recommend it. Sharp, shot beautifully and carried by strong performances, this movie will make you think on things for quite some time, and I like that.

You can totally skip the trailer and just go straight on to the movie.

Review: The Girl On The Train (2016)

“My husband used to tell me I have an overactive imagination. I can’t help it. I mean, haven’t you ever been on a train and wondered about the lives of the people who live near the tracks? The lives you’ve never lived.”
– Rachel Watson

SYNOPSIS: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life. – via IMDB

As some of you may recall, I recently read the book and I was totally not a fan. At all. I decided to watch the movie just because I wanted to see if it could convey better to screen, because surely there would be a better way to tell the story than the way it was presented in that absolutely godawful book. Well… right and wrong.

The way the movie was presented and the story told was better than the book. It wasn’t the same frustrating back and forth jumping in time, leaving you lost and confused. You get the story told from the perspective and times of three different women, but it is so much easier to follow. So much of the excess crap and internal monologues of the book are cut away here, so things definitely flow better. That being said, that is probably the only good stuff to note from this disappointing outing.

I couldn’t stand any of the characters. Again. No shocker, I expected this, but still. I really didn’t want to compare this to Gone Girl, especially with all the comparisons that exist, but now I can see it. While reading the book, I didn’t necessarily see the parallels too much (make no mistake, they are there at times), but this movie just felt like a cheap, sad knockoff. Tate Taylor definitely tried to pull a David Fincher with a washed out palette, a dark story, and a solid cast. Instead of any of that working, it falls apart here, and the cast just fails to make the boring material any more acceptable. Their performances just feel hollow. The story is not smart and unpredictable and twisty – its just bland and average.

I also found that the movie pushed to put a lot of sex in this, but it comes across as really unsexy, not the dark, forbidden, screwed up sex it tries to be. It fails miserably there. Also, how do you manage that with Luke Evans on screen? Unacceptable. I was not engaged once throughout the course of this movie, and I was frustrated watching it because I was bored beyond belief. I thought we were nearing the end (and how sad is that, considering I have actually read the book) and say that we were only a hour and five minutes in. What the heck?

The Girl On The Train features deplorable characters, a dull story, absolutely zero tension and atmosphere, and will leave you feeling disappointed and robbed of your precious time. It’s an absolute snooze fest, one I would highly recommend you skip and stay away from.

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.