Yesterday (2019) Review

Yesterday (2019)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Story by Jack Barth & Richard Curtis

Starring: Himesh Patel, Karma Sood, Lily James, Jaimie Kollmer, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran, Lamorne Morris, Sophia Di Martino, Joel Fry, Ellise Chappell, Harry Michell, Camille Chen, Alexander Arnold, James Corden, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Karl Theobald

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.

My Opinion:

I have to admit that, while there are definitely cheesy moments in this film (of course there are – it’s Richard Curtis!), I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s now one of my favorites for 2019 so far. It’s certainly a feelgood movie but, hell, we could all use those every once in a while. I don’t want all movies to be as depressing as Midsommar. It’s also one of those movies that gives you plenty to talk about and contemplate afterwards as the concept is fantastic. What a brilliant idea for a story – I absolutely loved the plot synopsis when I first heard about the film and it was great to see how the story would play out.

To be fair, though, I’m a fan of The Beatles. I’ve done a load of Top Ten posts on this blog since starting it but My Top Ten Beatles Songs was one of my first lists (it may actually be the very first). I do think you need to like their music (and/or the band members themselves) to truly appreciate this film. Had this been based on a band I didn’t like, I’d still admire the subject matter but wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much enjoyment out of the film. The concept and the music are what make this movie. If you hate The Beatles & aren’t impressed by the plot, there’s absolutely no reason for you to watch this.

Does the movie do all that it can with such a good idea? Yes and no. I really liked the direction the story took a couple of times and truly loved one surprise even though I SO should’ve seen it coming. I think it’s always hard to live up to a brilliant idea, though. The movie, overall, could’ve been better. The romance wasn’t believable nor was the possibility that this guy could become as famous as The Beatles. Himesh Patel is good in this role but, come on – his character is just not very interesting and doesn’t have much charisma. The Beatles made some of the all-time best songs but did they become so famous based ONLY on their songs? I don’t know. Maybe? That’s certainly something that would make for an interesting conversation but I don’t think the movie really explored this. Also, while I love most of their songs, there are some I really don’t like and some that I don’t think have aged well. Would the songs be as popular if they were made now? That’s not the kind of music that’s made today. This isn’t explored at all in the movie. It makes me sad but I don’t think the songs would be as popular if they were heard for the very first time in 2019. I may be wrong but I rarely hear anyone younger than me saying that they like The Beatles.


Ed Fucking Sheeran. Ew.

Oh well. Although the film isn’t absolutely perfect, it was great to see something with so much originality instead of yet another sequel or superhero film. And I certainly can’t complain at hearing so many great songs for a couple of hours. It even made up for Ed Fucking Sheeran being in this! It’s a shame that the movie suffers a bit from some typical Richard Curtis rom-com writing but, luckily, nothing in it is as ridiculous as Love Actually. I just wish there’d been more of the old school Danny Boyle influence on this but I suppose a Trainspotting vibe wouldn’t suit this family-friendly feelgood film. That was a lot of F words… Fanciful family-friendly feelgood fantasy fiction film for Fab Four fans!

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Darkest Hour (2017) Review

Darkest Hour (2017)

Directed by Joe Wright

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and is a fictionalised account of his early days as Prime Minister, as Nazi Germany swept across Western Europe, threatening to defeat Great Britain during World War II, leading to friction at the highest levels of government.

My Opinion:

I’m not a history buff. It was always one of my least favorite subjects in school. I wonder why? I just always found it boring. I like fictional stories set in the future. We were all wankers in the past. Of course, we’re even bigger wankers now so… I guess there’s not much hope for the future anyway.

But I liked this movie far more than I was expecting. Gary Oldman is probably the biggest reason. He’s brilliant! Give him the damn Oscar, Academy!!! And the story was intense. Okay, I’m no history buff but I at least have a very basic knowledge of WWII. I can’t imagine living in the UK during that time. I didn’t know just how intense it became during the “Darkest Hour”, though. UK kids should be watching this movie (mine did). They should have a better understanding of British history than they probably do. In my defense, I grew up in America so the only real focus in my history lessons was, of course, ‘Murrica. F*^k yeah!

Back to Oldman. Ahhh, he’s so good! To be fair, I can’t say I know much about Churchill’s look & voice. All I know is that it did NOT feel like I was watching Gary Oldman. I do like watching movies where actors play real life people but I always feel like I’m watching that actor playing make-believe. Like anyone Tom Hanks plays… He’s a good actor but I feel like I’m watching Hanks playing a role the entire time. You don’t have to suspend disbelief when it comes to Oldman and that’s what I love. I like movies & stories more than the actors themselves. I want to fully buy into the characters. Oldman has always been a true chameleon, though, as mentioned in My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies post (which I’ve just updated to add Darkest Hour). If he doesn’t win the Oscar this year, the Academy can go f*^k itself (Okay, I say this a lot. The winners often piss me off).

The WWII story itself held my attention the whole time (it helps when you have very little knowledge of what happened). I actually finally watched The King’s Speech after seeing this and it was interesting to see some of the same events from the King’s perspective instead of Churchill’s (That’s a good movie too, by the way – Not sure why I never wanted to watch it). Now I’m just waiting for Dunkirk to show up on Netflix or Prime and that will fill in my gaps in knowledge on that, which is a big part of Darkest Hour. What would I do without pretty movies giving me nice, glossy history lessons?!

WWII history aside, though, Darkest Hour also shows Churchill’s relationships with various people and this is what I most care about in movies. We see him with his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), his young secretary (Lily James), and the King (Ben Mendelsohn, not Colin Firth), as well as many other political dudes (but the first three are the main focus). His interactions with the two women were especially good & gave you more insight into Churchill as a person instead of just as a Prime Minister.

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit despite not being big on historical films and highly recommend it to anyone who loved Dunkirk. It makes no sense to watch that one without watching this one as well. As for me, I just find Christopher Nolan overrated so that’s my excuse for waiting for that one to show up on one of my movie services…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Baby Driver (2017) Review

Baby Driver (2017)

Directed & Written by Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

My Opinion:

I’m so behind on movie reviews but don’t want to miss out on writing something about this one. Because it’s good! So this will be a quickie review. I’d love to hear from others who’ve seen it. More than anything, I badly need to catch up on replying to all your comments on my blog! Sorry about that. I’ll catch up on that soon. Now let’s talk a little bit about Baby Driver

I know Edgar Wright has some diehard fans thanks to his Cornetto Trilogy (I reviewed all three films together HERE). Those are great, especially Shaun Of The Dead, so it’s obvious why he has loyal fans. Baby Driver, in my opinion, is actually the best film he’s done so far. I love Shaun & it’s a great horror comedy but Baby Driver feels more timeless. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but did think it would be a little more similar to Shaun, Hot Fuzz, World’s End, Scott Pilgrim, etc. It’s not. It’s very different. It’s not a comedy, although it does have some humorous moments (which is fine with me, as I’m not a huge fan of most comedies anyway). But it’s a kick ass crime/heist movie with great characters & a fantastic soundtrack. It’s pure entertainment, which is missing from movies far too often nowadays. But it’s not dumb Michael-Bay-Style pure entertainment – it’s pure entertainment that puts time & effort into its script, its characters, its look, and its awesome soundtrack (Did I mention its awesome soundtrack? Oh yes, I believe I did. It has an awesome soundtrack).

Baby Driver feels like it can stand alongside some of the great crime/heist thrillers of the 70s & 80s in that, 20 years from now, I think it will be seen the same way that we see things like The French Connection nowadays (although I’ve never actually seen that – I better add that to Blind Spot 2018!). Or… Perhaps Walter Hill’s The Driver (which I’ve also never seen) since Wright gave Hill a cameo in this film. Oh! Yes, I just checked IMDb trivia to verify. I wanted to know Wright’s influences for Baby Driver:

“This film drew inspiration from The Driver (1978), Raising Arizona (1987), The Blues Brothers (1980), and Riding Bean (1989).”

Well, Walter Hill’s The Warriors easily remains my absolute favorite older film that I watched for the very first time since starting my blog almost five years ago, so… Hill’s The Driver is probably worth a watch as Wright clearly has good taste since he’s made such a good film. Oh – and he also gave Paul Williams a small role in this as well. You know – the Rainbow Connection, Phantom Of The Paradise Paul Williams (you young bloggers don’t know who I’m on about). Wright’s influences are obvious (and similar to the things I like seeing as we’re a similar age, I guess) and his love of films & music really shows in how he’s made Baby Driver. It reminds me of how Tarantino makes his films: as a nerdy superfan. And that’s the way it should be. If you love your job, it’s going to be obvious in the final product that you produce.

I liked Baby Driver a lot and I’d say it’s probably my number one movie of 2017 so far but I’m not sure if I exactly loved it in the same way I loved the insanely fun & action-packed Mad Max: Fury Road a couple of years ago. I compare them as it seems like I should feel similar about two really great action films, which is a genre that often disappoints me. I really liked the characters in Baby Driver and I always adore a good love story. In this case, there are several and the girl/boy love story isn’t necessarily my favorite. Baby’s love for a pretty waitress is nice but we also see his love for his mother, his foster father, driving, and MUSIC. I’m going to connect with any movie that shows as much passion for music as this one does. I can’t think of any other movies that have focused on the love of music so much (without the story actually being about music). It works really well so I’m not sure why the film didn’t quite connect with me as much as I expected it to. I do think it’s a film that will grow on me, though, and I’d happily watch it again sometime to see if my opinion changes at all. I can certainly see why the movie has had so much love already as it feels very unique despite having such obvious influences. As I said, I do believe Baby Driver is a film that will stand the test of time & possibly be even more respected in future years than it is now.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Hmm. I think Baby Driver would probably make it somewhere onto my list of My Top Ten Movies With Song Title Titles 🙂

Family Film: Cinderella (2015) & Frozen Fever Reviews

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Cinderella (2015)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring:
Lily James
Cate Blanchett
Richard Madden
Stellan Skarsgård
Holliday Grainger
Derek Jacobi
Ben Chaplin
Sophie McShera
Hayley Atwell
Helena Bonham Carter

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Don’t be a bitch & you might snag a prince. It helps if you’re really pretty, though.

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Okay – I’m going to review family films in a slightly different way from now on so that you don’t think I’m taking them too seriously. Would I watch as many kids movies if I didn’t have a kid? Of course not! But I’d still watch some, especially from Disney/Pixar. I may be all grown-up (physically, at least) but I do still love the Disney classics & I see Pixar movies such as Toy Story & WALL-E (an all-time favorite movie of mine) as brilliant filmmaking just as worthy of recognition, not just “movies for kids”. So here are my thoughts as well as my daughter’s & husband’s thoughts on the live-action Cinderella remake (and the Frozen Fever short).

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I enjoyed Cinderella much more than I was expecting. I was happy that Branagh kept this very traditional instead of trying to make it more “modern” (the big, puffy blue dress is as fairytale as you can get!) & he stayed quite faithful to the 1950 Disney film. There were only a couple of changes: one involving the slipper, which I think worked better in the 1950 film & one involving the addition of Cinderella’s mother, which I really liked about this adaptation – it was great to see Cinderella’s relationship with her mother as well as with her father.

I’m not going to go much into that whole argument of “are Disney Princess movies damaging to young girls as they’ll think that all that’s important in life is being pretty & snagging a rich guy?”. Absolute bullshit. As long as you teach your kids right from wrong & reality from fantasy, they won’t be forever damaged by watching a harmless Disney film. The original Disney Princess movies are OLD (like me!) and I & other women my age grew up with them and most of us have ended up pretty well adjusted (well, I have my crazy moments but Disney certainly isn’t to blame). Let’s worry more about the boys playing Grand Theft Auto & girls thinking that The Kardashians are “reality” and that that’s the way they should live life. At least Cinderella actually worked. While singing! And making cute outfits for mice. And keeping her ass covered. And not being a superficial bitch even though she was hot. I’m going off on one of my tangents now so, my point is, CHILL. I’d love to live in a world where Disney movies were the biggest thing we had to worry about when it came to raising our kids. Some of their values may be outdated, especially when it comes to the roles of women, but they always tried to teach kids the right sort of morals & had their heart in the right place.

The unfortunate thing with this Cinderella remake is that I think they managed to make Cinderella herself have even less personality than she did in the 1950 film. I know they’re really pushing the “always be kind & brave” thing in this one so I AM glad that she stays kind-hearted & true to herself but, taking out the classic songs from the original (especially the amazing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo“, one of My Top Ten Disney Songs), leaves this live action remake far inferior as it’s basically the same movie again but without the catchy songs. (FYI – Helena Bonham Carter does at least sing the song through the credits). Oh! And can I just point out that that big, puffy, ostentatious blue dress may get all the attention in this movie but Cinderella’s wedding dress is absolutely stunning! Wow. SPOILER if you’d like the dress to be a surprise but I have to include a picture of it:

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Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. As I said, I’m not one of these “this movie gives girls unrealistic expectations blah blah blah!” moms. Everyone knows this story & it stays very faithful to the original Disney film. Nothing in it will do anyone any harm (in my opinion) but my kid did loudly proclaim “That’s THREE people who died now!” toward the end so, as usual with a typical Disney movie, you may get some “death talk” with your kid but every parent has to deal with death questions from their kids anyway.

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Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
Yes. I like all the Disney classics & wanted to see how they’d handle this live adaptation. However, if it wasn’t for the Frozen Fever short before the film, I’d probably have waited to watch it at home instead of in the cinema/theater.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

My daughter really liked this. Of course she did – she’s six. She loves Disney movies, as to be expected. However, she’s never been too overly crazy about any of the Disney Princess movies until the phenomenon that is FROZEN came along. (Her two favorite movies are Frozen and Star Wars so you can’t accuse me of just raising a Disney Princess). She currently claims to like this live-action version of Cinderella better than the original because she “liked the lizards and the golden carriage” but you know kids – she’s just saying that since it’s more recent in her mind. Trust me – the original is far superior. 😉

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Favorite Part:
The entire Fairy Godmother “transformation” scene & the bit where Cinderella first meets the prince in the forest.

Least Favorite Part:
Slight Spoiler:
“When the stepmother smashed the glass slipper.”

Overall Attention Level:
85%. She seemed very tired, though, so I think it could have been higher. However, her attention level was at 100% during the Cinderella transformation scene with the Fairy Godmother.

The Kid’s Rating: 8/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:

Did Cinderella’s hair, shoulders and chest REALLY need vajazzling? It would have been more timeless without…

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Frozen Fever (2015)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Starring:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad

Running time: 7 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Elsa overcompensates by preparing to throw Anna the best birthday party ever since she was such a cold-hearted bitch for years & didn’t even want to build a snowman with her. But she refuses to invite Hans or John Travolta.

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I loved Frozen Fever! It’s totally adorable plus, of course, I loved seeing how happy it made my daughter which always makes me have extra affection for something. I’m not really going to say anything more about this short, however, as I enjoyed it FAR more not knowing anything about it beforehand. Unfortunately, I think loads of pictures have been released online anyway, spoiling the short’s most adorably sneezy surprise. Avoid knowing anything about this one beforehand if you can. It’s very sweet & maintains the same sense of humor as the original film.

Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. Unless you’re offended by adorable cuteness.

Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
YES! I personally really like Frozen & wanted to see this more than I wanted to see Cinderella.

My Rating: 8/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

She’s a young girl so, duh – she absolutely loved this. Those who don’t have kids may not realize just how crazy little girls are for Frozen. It’s bizarre! They’ve latched onto Frozen in a way far beyond other girl-aimed films of recent years such as Tangled or Brave. Elsa mania is everywhere!!! And I’m okay with that – I think it’s the strongest Disney film in years & more deserving of the hysteria than a lot of other kids films for girls lately. This is just like the movie with all the favorite characters included so there’s no way that kids who love Frozen won’t love Frozen Fever.

Overall Attention Level:
100%.

The Kid’s Rating: 10/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:
“What happens when she sharts?”

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