Cherry (2021) Review

Cherry (2021)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on Cherry by Nico Walker

Starring: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Michael Rispoli, Jeff Wahlberg

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows an Army veteran suffering from PTSD, who resorts to robbing banks to support his opioid addiction.

My Opinion:

This was a weird one. I think I liked it okay? Despite none of the characters being very likeable or sympathetic. I felt like this movie was trying too hard to be “worthy”, though. I felt like it had a good story (from the book Cherry partly based on the real life of author Nico Walker) but failed to make what could’ve been a truly great film out of it.

I think part of what didn’t quite make this work for me is the fact that I’m old & grumpy plus maybe a tiny bit film-snobby at times. First of all: I’m old. Tom Holland & Ciara Bravo are both good in this. I can’t fault their performances in any way whatsoever. But, damn. I know they’re in their early twenties & it’s great they cast age appropriate people instead of really old fuckers pretending to be young like in Grease or something, but… They both look about 15 to me. As I said, I do think they did a really good job and it’s partly me just me being so old but I couldn’t fully buy into these two cute, tiny, 15-year-old-looking people being drug addicts (and one also being a hardened war veteran with PTSD). Not fair, I know. They were good. I did like them in this movie even if I couldn’t fully believe the characters based mainly on how they look.

Oh, and I just wanted to make sure to mention Ciara Bravo’s coat at the start of the movie. It’s adorable!! I love it. I want one. But I’m old & not young & pretty like her so it wouldn’t look cute on me anyway. The above picture was the only one I could find of it online with the writing up in the corner (I dunno where it’s from – I found it HERE).

Anyway! Back to problem number two for me: I can be a tiny bit film snobby. I admit to very much preferring movies from the ’70s & ’80s above all other decades. As I watched this, I kept thinking that it could be a classic now if it had been made in the dirty, gritty ’70s (yeah, yeah – I know it’s based on a book that didn’t exist then but you know what I mean). The war bits especially made me think of things like Full Metal Jacket (yeah, yeah – I know that’s an ’80s movie but it’s set during Vietnam so you know what I mean). And then I just thought this movie could’ve been great if made in the past by some amazing director like Stanley Kubrick (you know, had the book existed in his lifetime). Maybe the Russo Brothers just aren’t the best choice for this type of movie? Their MCU stuff is good but a gritty war & drug drama is obviously a very different type of movie. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Cherry will be seen as a classic 30/40 years from now in the same way as things like Apocalypse Now (Maybe? Probably not.).

Well, I think I liked this movie anyway despite it being far from perfect & trying a little too hard. But I wanted to see what would happen with these characters & did want to see them turn their lives around. I also really liked that it was sort of at least three movies in one: the college years, the war years, and the bank-robbing PTSD drug addict years. The war years were probably the strongest parts of the movie but the drug years were quite good too (in a stressful sort of way, I guess). Better character development would’ve been good: So the girl’s parents only showed up briefly in her life once while she was in the hospital & then just disappeared again? And what about the family of Holland’s character – did I just miss that? I feel like something was said but I missed it. Did he have no family? I also think more of a dark humor running through this may have been good (there was a hint of this but not in a way that really worked – Kubrick would’ve been good at that!).

Oh, and Jack Reynor is in this (the drug section). I’ve liked him ever since the fantastic Sing Street & liked him in this too. I looked him up just now to see his age compared with Holland & he’s only about four years older. Yet I fully believed him in this role. He seems so much older. So maybe I am being unfair on Holland (and Bravo) just for looking soooooo damn young. Good performances anyway. They certainly made me never want to go to war or become addicted to drugs! Not that those were ever on my list of things I want to do… I want her coat, though.

My Rating: 7/10

Midsommar (2019) Review

Midsommar (2019)

Directed & Written by Ari Aster

Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter

Music by The Haxan Cloak

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Midsommar follows a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a festival that occurs once every ninety years, only to find themselves in the clutch of a pagan cult.

My Opinion:

First of all, I think I was too hard on Hereditary. I didn’t rate it very highly at the time, mainly because I thought the end of the film was a silly mess. However, it starts out great and has what I think will be one of the most memorable & shocking horror movie moments for years to come. And, of course, Toni Collette’s performance was fantastic. I’m loving seeing some serious modern horror with brilliant performances (also loved Essie Davis in The Babadook). So, while I didn’t love Hereditary overall, there was still a lot that I did like about it and I have much more respect for it than for the countless cliché modern horror films that get made.

The reason I bring up Ari Aster’s first feature film for comparison is because I feel exactly the same way about Midsommar. I respect the film, there are memorable shocking moments and imagery, and Florence Pugh gives a great performance. But, overall, I can’t say that I loved the film and the ending is possibly even more of a mess than Hereditary’s.

If you loved Hereditary, you’ll love Midsommar. The themes are very similar and the movies have clearly been written & directed by the same person. Aster is off to a brilliant start with these films and I think he’ll continue to be highly respected in the horror genre if he manages a third film along the same sort of lines as his first two. They’re certainly not for a mainstream crowd, however, and will always be more for the serious “film” fans (I don’t think the audiences I saw these two movies with enjoyed them very much).

I love divisive films, though, especially in the horror genre. I’ll always have more respect for a movie that says “fuck it” and does its own thing than for the boring & predictable ones that push no boundaries. Hell, I loved Mandy but know it’s sure as shit not for everyone. Aster’s two films are the same way so I can definitely understand why he already has big fans of his work even if I’m not yet sure if I’m a fan or not. I really did want to love both of his films and I kind of did at the start of each one. This is something I always moan about when it comes to horror, though. I swear horror movies rarely know how to end. I find very few horror movies have a satisfying ending and Aster’s two films go off the rails a bit too much for me at the end. But I can say that, based on his previous work, I eagerly await his next movie and fully expect to be equally impressed and exasperated at the same time. And, as always, I’ll prefer impressed exasperation over finding a movie just plain boring. Aster’s films are FAR from boring.

My Rating: 7/10

**I’ve had to think about it & let Midsommar sink in for a few days. I fully expected to far prefer Midsommar to Hereditary. I absolutely love the setting and was very much looking forward to a new The Wicker Man (that movie kicks ass). This film looks great, I loved the imagery, and overall I far preferred the look of it to Hereditary. However, I think Hereditary is the better film. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way as Midsommar is more my type of thing. Both movies are intense and leave you feeling quite emotionally drained but Hereditary has an overwhelming sense of dread and fully captures the feeling of grief a bit more effectively than Midsommar. Again, though, both leading ladies give fantastic performances and help elevate these films to something more than just another basic horror movie.

I should also point out that I’m struggling to find the time to write reviews at the moment and have about ten current releases I’ve just not had the energy to review. But I’ve reviewed Midsommar right away, so I guess that says something about it? I have more to say about something like this than yet another superhero movie or yet another animated sequel…

Sing Street (2016) Review

Sing Street (2016)

Directed & Written by John Carney

Starring: Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this movie! It’s nice to watch a feel-good, fun movie like this one. It was also nice to get a break from superheroes… I could’ve gone to X-Men: Apocalypse but just didn’t have the energy. I’m very glad that I saw Sing Street instead. I’d rank it very high on my list HERE of the 2016 movies I’ve seen.

I’ve not seen any other John Carney films. I’ve not seen Begin Again mainly because I really don’t like Keira Knightley plus Adam Levine is in it, right?? Ugh. If I see that stupid video where Maroon 5 are playing at various weddings ONE more time, I’m gonna puke! And I do want to see Once but I’ve been putting it off for years because it looks so indie & soooo singer-songwritery. I really need to be in the mood for that sort of thing before I watch it as it has the potential to annoy me. I already know, however, that Sing Street is the one for me.

Teenagers in 1985! With loads of my favorite 80’s music! Joe Jackson! Duran Duran! Hall & Oates! The Cure!!! This is MY era! I’m very happy that this movie had a mixture of well known 80’s songs as well as new songs written by the band in the film as I was afraid it would all be music that I didn’t know. But, hell – the songs by the band in the movie were really good anyway! Maybe a little too good to be fully believable from a group of 15-year-old boys… But who cares? This is one of those movies I enjoyed so much that I can ignore a few small imperfections. Yeah, the story is basic and a bit cliché & predictable. That really doesn’t bother me as long as a film is good, which this one is. I don’t want to pick it apart. I hate when people overanalyze a movie that’s just meant to be fun. I had a lot of fun watching Sing Street – there were more laughs than I was expecting, I cared about the characters & what would happen to them, there was just the right amount of drama without it being melodramatic, and the music was great. What more can we ask for from a movie?? 🙂

This movie is full of unknowns as far as I’m aware (I’ve not looked them all up). Well, except for the dad being played by Littlefinger. That was weird – seeing Game Of Thrones actors in other things is always a little distracting. Everyone did a good job & I really liked not knowing them all already. Our main character (the band’s singer) & the girl he falls for are adorable – I would imagine we’ll be seeing them in many more films after this one. The movie gets a decent balance between the different aspects of the boy’s life (his relationships with his family, the girl, the band, and other students & teachers in his new school). However, my favorite relationship was probably that with his older brother, played by Jack Reynor. Loved him! He’s the best thing about the movie. I’ve never seen him in anything before but apparently he was one of the possibilities for playing Han Solo? I hope to see him in more after this – he was a real highlight in this film.

Summary:

There’s not much more that I can say about Sing Street. I clearly thoroughly enjoyed it but I know that it’s very much my type of thing. I always like movies about bands but especially love them when they involve teenagers in the 1980s since I’ll always be able to relate to that (even when the movie is set in Dublin instead of small town America). It reminded me a lot of We Are The Best!, a Swedish movie from a few years ago about three girls in 1982 Stockholm who decide to form a punk band. Sing Street has the same sort of spirit as that film and I loved them both & can totally relate to the characters in both films despite them being set in different countries from the one where I grew up. What can I say? The language of music is universal. I highly recommend Sing Street to music lovers and to Eighties lovers.

My Rating: 8/10

**Don’t watch this clip if you like knowing nothing about a movie beforehand but there aren’t any spoilers in it or anything. This is the first song that the band in the movie writes (The Riddle Of The Model) & this clip shows them making a “video” for it. If you’re curious, it’ll give you a good idea of the vibe of the film. And it’s a catchy tune! 🙂