Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Parker is recruited by Nick Fury and Mysterio to face elemental threats from another dimension while he is on a school trip to Europe.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short as I hate writing superhero movie reviews since, let’s face it, they’re all the same. I’ve really enjoyed all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but none are ever going to be all-time favorites of mine (well, maybe the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies). The characters are fantastic, though; Better than the movies themselves. This is especially the case with these two Spider-Man movies. Tom Holland is adorable and probably the best live-action Spider-Man we’ve had so I have no complaints when it comes to him or any of the other characters. As always, the characters are strong and the humor is a lot of fun. But I found the stories in both movies a bit average.

For me, I think it didn’t help that this follows Infinity War & Endgame. After that “epic” storyline and seeing all the Avengers working together, it was odd going back to another solo superhero film. Then, of course, we get the usual problem of “Where the hell are all the other superheroes while just one of them is trying to save the world from another threat??” I also just couldn’t get into Jake Gyllenhaal’s character and found this story less believable than in other MCU films (not that any superhero stories are exactly realistic but you know what I mean). I didn’t buy into the story in this one.


Oh well. As I said, the characters are strong and Marvel continues to develop these characters far better than the DC films have managed to do. The Marvel characters really do grow with each new film and it was good to see this again with Holland’s Spider-Man. I also love how Marvel focuses on developing the relationships between the characters: Peter Parker with MJ (they’re so cute together & have great chemistry), with Happy Hogan (this was great – taking Tony’s place as father-figure?), with his best friend, and with Aunt May (how hot is Marisa Tomei?!). As I always say, it’s the characters that are more important to me than the story itself. That’s why I always enjoy the Marvel movies despite the storylines failing to ever fully capture my attention. Far From Home was fun but far from my favorite MCU film (I’ve added it to my full ranked list HERE).

My Rating: 7/10

**I have to add this: I’ve now seen the all-time best Spider-Man movie with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse so it’s going to be harder to fully appreciate the live-action versions. I don’t think Spider-Verse can be topped.

Advertisements

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt (Book Review)

**Well, this isn’t much of a “review”. This is a re-post of my very brief thoughts when I read this book in December 2017. I thought I’d do a quick post as the movie adaptation is out today. While I couldn’t fully get into the book, I did think at the time that it could make for a good film. We’ll see! I think they’ve chosen the right actors for these roles.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living-and whom he does it for.

My Thoughts:

This strange Western was interesting. I have to admit that I picked it up (for 50p in a charity shop) based 100% on that cool ass cover up there.

I didn’t love it but it’s not exactly my sort of thing. I did like it, though, and found the story refreshingly original. The characters were also really well developed and I especially liked brother Eli (who will be played by John C. Reilly in the movie and who I think is perfect for the role). The movie will also star Joaquin Phoenix & Jake Gyllenhaal and I think it has the potential to be made into a thoroughly entertaining film. I recommend reading the book first if you like the sound of the movie. It’s probably quite different from anything you’ve read before.

My Rating: 3/5

The Sisters Brothers film was directed by Jacques Audiard & stars John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed & Rutger Hauer.

Here’s the trailer:

Nocturnal Animals (2016) Review

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Directed by Tom Ford

Based on Tony and Susan by Austin Wright

Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

My Opinion:

Well! This movie was certainly… interesting? I love Amy Adams but sci-fi is my type of thing so Arrival is the only one I’d planned on going to see (it’s EXCELLENT, by the way – I’m posting my review tomorrow). Hubby saw Nocturnal Animals then was weirdly insistent on me seeing it too while being cryptic as to if it would actually be worth my time. Now I understand: This is one of those movies you want other people to see so you can talk about it & discuss your theories on the meaning of the symbolism and the different characters’ actions & intentions and, umm……. Okay – This is one of those movies you want other people to see so they can maybe tell you what the f*^k is going on. 😉

Was Nocturnal Animals worth my time? Yes. It’s easily in my top ten 2016 movie releases now & I’d be surprised if it’s not still there by December 31st. But it’s a difficult watch and I can’t exactly say I had a “fun time” watching it. I highly doubt I’ll ever watch it again and, quite frankly, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. It’s intensely disturbing and I was kind of glad when it finished. Am I selling this one to you yet?! Ha! I’m pretty sure I’ll never be asked to contribute a quote for a movie’s poster.

I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from seeing this. In fact, I very highly recommend it. However, I’d only recommend it to a small selection of people who I think would appreciate it, like several of my fellow movie bloggers who may be reading this. You just need to be warned of what you’re getting into if you watch Nocturnal Animals: I guarantee you’ll either love this or you’ll think it’s the most pretentiously boring piece of shit you’ve seen in a long time. There’s my movie poster quote for this!

I always say this but I turn to movies for escapism, which is probably why I go for sci-fi & fantasy and never for gritty realism. I don’t like the ugliness in this world so I don’t enjoy things like true crime dramas, serial killer movies, etc. I say that because this movie is partly “gritty crime drama”. Well, it is yet it isn’t… Just be warned that these parts of the film contain violence more extreme than I’d been expecting (hubby – you could’ve warned me, dude!). The gritty parts are necessary, though, as you start to realize the full meaning behind them so I managed to muddle through despite finding these scenes very uncomfortable.

I’ll try to stay as spoiler-free as possible with this review but I think it’s safe to say that this movie is a story within a story (the book written by the ex-husband of Amy Adams, which she reads throughout the movie). So we go back and forth between Adams & the story in the book which, on the surface, is nothing more than a standard pulpy crime drama. But it IS something much more than that & only Adams and her ex-husband (and hopefully the film’s audience) will be aware of that.

I often don’t go for the “story within a story” thing (er, unless it’s The Princess Bride… Best. Movie. Ever.) but I was completely engrossed every time the movie went back to the book’s crime drama story. Yes, the story feels like formulaic “pulp” (probably why the ex-husband, Jake Gyllenhaal, apparently never made it big as an author) yet it’s so intense & so brilliantly acted that you’re drawn into this story far more than the real-life story of Adams and her superficial art gallery world. But that’s the whole point: Unlike Adams’ real-life extravagant lifestyle, the book’s “fictional” world feels far more real & is full of a raw emotion that I’ve rarely seen captured so well on screen. Honestly, I found these scenes so profoundly & disturbingly moving that credit must be given to everyone involved in their making whether you like the movie or not. Though extremely upsetting, I found this film to be one of the most immersive movie experiences I’ve had since seeing Room, although the emotional effect was the exact opposite (Room filled me with pure joy).

As always, Adams is very good with an understated performance but it’s Gyllenhaal who really shines in what is actually the far more important role. I’ve never been a big fan of his and, though I’ve seen him in plenty of highly regarded roles, I think this is the film that has finally made me appreciate him as an actor. I also loved Michael Shannon in quite a small role as the sheriff in the book’s story. Again, he’s someone highly regarded yet I’ve paid him little attention so, for any of his fans reading this, this movie is worth you checking out just for his role. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the actual movie but he’s fantastic.

I know this is only fashion designer Tom Ford’s second film and I’ve not seen A Single Man but I definitely want to see more from him after this. I think there’s some true brilliance in this film that will unfortunately be too casually regarded as pretentious. I can totally understand why it would be labelled as such, though, as it initially appears that way with beautifully artistic shots & with rich art world snobs moaning about their superficial problems. But the movie itself is the same as book’s story within the film: On the surface it’s superficial & formulaic but deep down it’s an allegorical tale. Wait… The movie is an allegory of itself! No. Um… The book in the movie is an allegory of the real life story in the movie while the movie itself is an allegory of… Something! Maybe. I just like throwing the word “allegory” around. Trust me, there’s some crazy allegorical shit going on here. I’m sure of it!

Is the film itself as deep as its story within a story? I don’t know. My mind is still working on that but I like that I’m still thinking about this movie days after watching it. That’s what I consider true art and only a handful of movies play on my mind for days afterwards. Nocturnal Animals is definitely not for everyone but, if you’re someone who wants something more than just pure entertainment, you may be the type to find this movie an intensely rewarding experience. Or you may just be pretentious. 😉

My Rating: 8/10

**To all the pretentious snobs like me who’ve seen this movie, feel free to discuss it with me in the comments! Full-on spoilers allowed, so avoid reading the comments if you’ve not yet seen this – I think it’s not yet out in America? I want to talk about this one. I want to discuss the parallels in the movie’s story & movie book’s story. The meaning of some of the imagery. The overall meaning of the movie: is it deep like the film’s book or superficial like the film’s real-world. What was with all the naked butts?!? The real life book this is based on (as opposed to the book within the movie) – has anyone read it? Should I dye my hair the same color as Amy Adams in the hope that I’ll look exactly like her? Discuss! 🙂

Enemy (2013) Review

IMG_8813

Enemy (2013) Review

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on The Double by José Saramago

Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal
Mélanie Laurent
Sarah Gadon
Isabella Rossellini

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.

IMG_8816

My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see Enemy for ages & it appeared that it was going to be another one of these movies that would never come out in the UK for some reason. Luckily, it got a limited cinema release then was finally just released on DVD here. Was Enemy worth the wait? Hmm…

IMG_8817

I DO like movies that make you think. However, I’m old. And busy. I don’t have time these days to have to “research” something after watching it the way I used to read Lostpedia after every episode of Lost. Ain’t nobody got time for that! So Enemy ended & I went “WTF?” and immediately went online for an explanation because I’m too old & tired to think these days.

IMG_8815-0

There are a few different theories about the film but they’re all basically the same and do actually make sense if you think about it & perhaps watch the movie again. The problem with this movie is that it doesn’t really hold your attention on the first watch so the thought of re-watching it in order to piece everything together isn’t really all that appealing. I did something I never do and re-watched the very beginning of the movie once I’d finished it as there’s an important symbolic scene at the start that will possibly help you to understand what you’ve just watched. If you care enough to understand. I’m pretty sure most people won’t care, though, which is unfortunate as it’s a good story.

IMG_8818

I can’t help but compare Enemy to The Prestige in my mind, which is a movie I love. Both films give you a lot to think about but, with The Prestige, I wanted to think about it & discuss it afterwards. The Prestige was exciting from start to finish on the first watch & I was more than happy to watch it again. Enemy is so SLOW. I knew I should be paying attention but my mind kept wandering. Both movies are very atmospheric but it feels like Enemy is trying too hard to be that way through the use of muted colors & a suspenseful, almost Hitchcockian score. Enemy is like a weird sort of cross between Hitchcock’s Vertigo and some of David Cronenberg’s more serious dramas such as Crash or A History Of Violence. Oh, and I suppose a bit of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive as well as far as the “mindfuck” plot (Enemy is far less confusing than Mulholland Drive, though). Hmm – I wonder if Isabella Rossellini was chosen to be in Enemy because of her role in Blue Velvet? Anyway, I’m a big fan of both Hitchcock & Cronenberg (not Lynch so much) so I appreciate the effort on the director’s part to try to make Enemy an “artistic” film. Unfortunately, it feels like more effort was put into being artistic than into making the movie an enjoyable watch and it ended up feeling much longer than its 90 minute running time. I actually think it may have been a better experience overall if the director had gone more “Cronenberg WEIRD” and made Enemy a little more freaky instead of artsy & borderline boring…

IMG_8820
Hey, is that the Saul Bass Vertigo poster in the background…?! I just spotted that! I feel smart now for comparing this movie to Vertigo! 😉

Summary:

I think I’ve done it again… I made it sound like I kind of hated a movie when I actually thought it was okay. Considering that I like the movies that it’s trying to be like (those directed by Cronenberg, Hitchcock, a little bit of Lynch), it’s my type of movie and I’ll always appreciate something like Enemy more than most braindead blockbusters that you forget about two months after watching them. I’ve written this review very soon after watching the movie since I’m trying to not fall as behind on reviews as I did last year but it means that I’m still kind of figuring out how I feel about it. I think I’m a little bit disappointed as the potential was there for Enemy to be great but, when compared to similar films that came before it, it really pales in comparison. It could have gone even more artsy or more weird (my vote is for weird) but instead it actually played it fairly safe, making it less memorable than the films from Hitchcock, Cronenberg & Lynch.

My Rating: 7/10

IMG_8819

Nightcrawler (2014) Review

IMG_7420-1.JPG

Nightcrawler (2014)

Directed by Dan Gilroy

Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal
Rene Russo
Riz Ahmed
Bill Paxton

Running time: 117 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Nightcrawler tells the story of a driven young man who stumbles upon the underground world of Los Angeles freelance crime journalism.

IMG_7432.JPG

My Opinion:

I’m not sure how to go about reviewing this one. I did think it was good but, unfortunately, not quite as good as I was expecting. I’ll say this isn’t necessarily my usual “type” of movie plus I’ve never really been a big fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. I think I was just expecting much more of a hard hitting drama and something even darker? This feels like a “movie”. It’s pretty & glossy just like the news shows in the film. So maybe that was the whole point? I don’t know. We all know the issues raised in this film – people who may be willing to go too far in their pursuit of what they want and sensationalist journalism, etc. It’s not really anything new so the concept was totally believable. However, too many things in the film really weren’t very realistic so it made it feel too much like a “movie” as some of these things wouldn’t actually happen in real life. I can’t get specific as I have to avoid spoilers.

IMG_7435.JPG

I know a lot of people have praised Gyllenhaal’s performance. He’s definitely very good at playing the subtle creepiness of his character. I think it’s another case of a performance being better than the film itself. Man, why do I always sound so negative in my reviews? Am I too picky?!

IMG_7441.JPG

Here’s what I liked: I loved the look of the film and all the shots of the city at night. I’m a small town girl and big cities stress me out but I do love the look of all the city lights at nighttime. I far prefer London after dark! Like I said, Gyllenhaal is very good in this and it was also nice seeing Rene Russo in a movie again plus I really liked Riz Ahmed’s character. Oh, and Bill Paxton! Who doesn’t love Bill Paxton at least a little bit thanks to Aliens and Weird Science?? I also did really like the story overall and thought they did a good job keeping it interesting the whole time. Even though it’s pretty predictable, I was happy with the conclusion of the film and the final half hour is gripping.

IMG_7439.JPG

Summary:

Nightcrawler is a good film and if it looks like your type of thing or if you’re a fan of Gyllenhaal, you should definitely check it out despite my lacklustre review. It’s not a perfect film but I think my expectations were just a little too high. It’s thoroughly entertaining and perhaps it’s meant to be slightly shallow as it’s making a statement on our society being this way. Yeah… I probably just missed the point!

My Rating: 7/10

IMG_7433.JPG

Donnie Darko (2001) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

20140802-111129 pm-83489050.jpg

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Liam of Liam Does Film. Thanks for joining in, Liam! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Donnie Darko, IMDB rank 176 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. I’ve stopped receiving so many guest reviews now so if you send yours soon, it should post soon. I only have enough for the next month.

20140802-112038 pm-84038014.jpg

Donnie Darko (2001)

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Director: Richard Kelly

Writer: Richard Kelly

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne

Rating: ★★★★★

Those who have said bad things about this film have just not understood it. Donnie Darko is that film where you’ll find yourself watching it over and over looking for the explanation; on the way you will then discover just how good this film is and why it’s rated as one of the best of all time, deservedly being on IMBD’s top 250, among many critics, including myself, personal favourites. It has an amazing cast; a young Jake Gyllenhaal plays the character of Donnie, after he will star in award winning films such as Brokeback Mountain and The Day After Tomorrow. Future Batman star Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jake’s actual sister, plays Elizabeth Darko whilst we also get to see the well-known Patrick Swayze alongside Drew Barrymore. However it isn’t just the cast, a well-written story which dives into the world of complexity and defines the phrase thought-provoking, makes Donnie Darko hard to forget, and for me it is simply brilliant in every aspect and sense of the word.

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a far from ordinary teenager, suffering from hallucinations Donnie starts to be visited by a demonic six foot rabbit named Frank, who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, however Frank’s arrival into Donnie’s life is more important than first thought. At the dinner table his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) tells his parents (Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne) that he hasn’t been taking his medication, however later that night due to these visions Donnie escapes death as a 747 Jet engine crashes and destroys his bedroom whilst he’s on a midnight trip with Frank. Frank tells him that the world is going to end in “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds”, The mystery grows as the jet engine is unknown by the FBI creating the question of where exactly did it come from? All that is known is that Donnie’s escape from death and Frank’s appearance are two supernatural events that have crossed and are somehow linked, and as Donnie is enlightened to a whole new way of thinking, he then realises the truth behind Frank’s words.

20140802-111751 pm-83871560.jpg

The story fuels from a “countdown” method, as each day passes we get closer to a predicted doomsday. However it is what the film gives us in those days that are great, not only are a string of relationships and subplots introduced but a series of clues in which just like Donnie, we have to piece together. As stories develop our characters all become very likable, something that Donnie Darko benefits from greatly, Donnie himself is loveable; lost, bold and witty, whilst the same aspects are all shared by his sister Elizabeth, newly found girlfriend Gretchen (Jena Malone) and his English teacher played by the seemingly ageless Drew Barrymore. The film keeps you on the edge, with a mixture of unexpected, dark plots balanced by strangely comedic moments. Richard Kelly for me deserves a huge amount of credit, as Donnie Darko holds such an amazing story.

Jake Gyllenhaal soon became one of my favourite actors after his role as Donnie; it is flawless, creating and portraying one of the most memorable teen characters for me since Ferris Bueller. There is something very likable but at the same time relatable with his character and Jake brings it to life superbly. The rest of the cast are great, Jena Malone portrays Gretchen well with it seeming very natural, whilst also providing one of the memorable quotes and scenes, “you’re weird … that was a compliment”. Drew Barrymore as Donnie’s English teacher is great, she provides a laughable aspect, whilst Patrick Swayze portrays the not so lovable Jim Cunningham well as you would expect of such talent, rounding off a truly remarkable ensemble; which even includes a hidden Seth Rogen.

20140802-113713 pm-85033198.jpg

This film does well to provide everything from comedy moments to suspense, thrills and gasps fulfilling so many aspects with even the soundtrack becoming an iconic element. Maybe when watched a few times you seem to pick up on Kelly’s details, and the soundtrack is brilliant as each song and piece of score predicts what’s happening next or compliments the events on the screen. The songs of choice all seem very fitting too, with Mad World becoming nostalgic after time.

Donnie Darko should be known for a long time to come, and hopefully it will be as Richard Kelly’s first film shines in every way it could have. A brilliant story, portrayed by a great acting ensemble, whilst everything else fitting perfectly around the two makes Donnie Darko in my eyes flawless, and my favourite film of all time. Entertaining, thrilling and funny, complex and thought-provoking are some of the things this film can be described as, but overall it is a master-piece which will be sure to be your favourite, or your new obsessive guilty pleasure, deservedly being rated as one of the all-time greats.

20140802-111849 pm-83929598.jpg

Prisoners (2013) Review

20131008-051249 pm.jpg
Prisoners (2013)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring:
Hugh Jackman
Jake Gyllenhaal
Viola Davis
Maria Bello
Terrence Howard
Melissa Leo
Paul Dano

Running time: 153 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
When two young girls go missing, the father of one of the girls (Hugh Jackman) feels he must take matters into his own hands while the police investigate but seem unable to find out what happened to his daughter & her friend.

20131008-051454 pm.jpg
My Opinion:

This will be a quickie. I’ve been a terrible movie blogger lately! I’ve been busy so have done very few reviews & when looking at the list of films I’ve watched this year, I see I’ve not reviewed 24 of them. Pathetic! So I’ll try to crank out some short ones over the next few weeks. I’m too wordy anyway!

20131008-051613 pm.jpg
The Story:

Prisoners is very highly rated & recommended but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by the end of the film as I left with far too many unanswered questions. The investigation didn’t feel at all like how one would go in real life (not that I exactly know). The cop (Jake Gyllenhaal) did far too much on his own. Don’t they have partners in real life? Especially for potentially dangerous situations? And there were a few things that seemed so obvious to anyone watching the film yet this cop, who has apparently solved every case he’s ever been on, completely misses these clues or figures them out too late. Like with a lot of movies in this genre, some of the characters do things that don’t make sense and you can’t help but get annoyed when they do something stupid. All in all, there were just far too many loose ends for me to be able to leave the cinema feeling satisfied by the story.

20131008-051742 pm.jpg
The characters:

Luckily, the movie is helped by some believable characters & good performances. Hugh Jackman is by far the best thing about the film. He’s very good as the desperate father who will do whatever it takes to find his daughter. His wife (Maria Bello) didn’t have much to do but the parents of the other missing girl (Viola Davis & Terrence Howard) were also very good as two parents going through their worst nightmare.

20131008-051834 pm.jpg
The thing that probably annoyed me most about this movie, aside from the problems I had with some plot holes, was the underdevelopment of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character. His character felt like he had a very interesting backstory but this wasn’t explored at all and I left feeling like he must have more scenes that explained his character’s past but were left on the cutting room floor. Which is especially disappointing as, at a length of two and a half hours, you would think they could have devoted a little time to his past. Jackman’s character also suffered a bit from this lack of development. I don’t know. Seeing as the story just didn’t quite come together, getting to know a bit more about the characters & their motivations (what’s with the religion? being a survivalist? having nervous ticks & lots of tattoos?) would have been nice.

20131008-052022 pm.jpg
Summary:

A tense thriller with some very good performances that’s unfortunately let down by an investigation that doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny & lack of character development. The film’s biggest strengths are the performances from its stars and some strong and (potentially) very interesting characters. However, these interesting characters deserved to have much more of the two and a half hour running time devoted to their development. I really felt like we were missing so much of whatever made Jackman’s and especially Gyllenhaal’s characters who they were. Had we learned more about these seemingly deep men with strong beliefs that aren’t explained, I’d have been able to overlook a few problems with the plot.

My Rating: 6.5/10

20131008-052131 pm.jpg
That was still too wordy…