Marriage Story (2019) & 1917 (2019) Reviews

As the Oscars are this weekend, I figured I better post my reviews for the Best Picture nominees this week. Below is a re-post of my review of Marriage Story & a new review for 1917. Well, a mini-review of 1917. Okay – it’s not much of a review for 1917!

Marriage Story (2019)

Directed & Written by Noah Baumbach

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever

Music by Randy Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a married couple (Johansson and Driver) going through a coast-to-coast divorce.

My Opinion:

I honestly don’t get the hype over this movie. And I’ve never understood the love for Adam Driver – that gross guy who had gross sex with gross Lena Dunham in gross Girls?! I just feel very out of touch with people the past several years. I see people raving about movies on Twitter so I watch those movies and end up extremely underwhelmed. Is it just me? Why do these same films fail to move me? Because I felt NOTHING while watching this. I didn’t feel that this couple had any sort of meaningful connection or any chemistry whatsoever so found it very hard to feel upset over the breakdown of a marriage that we saw so little of and didn’t get to witness developing in any way. We’re suddenly thrown in at the end of the marriage when they apparently don’t like each other anymore.

I think Driver & Johansson are okay actors (Johansson more than Driver). But they felt like actors in this movie. I felt like I was watching a play that was almost as boring as the ones directed by Driver’s “brilliant” character in this movie. And Johansson’s character was of course an actress. Despite Noah Baumbach sticking to that rule of “write what you know” and clearly writing about his own lifestyle, this movie somehow managed to make these characters feel anything but real to me. It was just odd as one of the main things I saw on Twitter was “This movie is so real!”. Seriously? Am I just dead inside? All I saw were two bland and self-absorbed people not loving OR hating each other enough to build up to that “I wish you were dead!” (or whatever he said) scene. We saw so little of their marriage anyway that I didn’t give a shit when they finally had a damn fight like normal couples do.

I don’t know. Maybe it is just me. I don’t blame either Driver or Johansson, though, as I think the writing here is the problem. This movie is just not my sort of thing. It’s the pretentious & self-indulgent side of “indie” that I can’t stand. It crosses that indie line for me (I don’t know if it fits the indie definition but, who cares, it’s still indie as hell). I either love or hate these types of films. On the right side of the line we have films such as the Richard Linklater ones with brilliant dialogue and characters who are intriguing and fun to watch. Then we cross the line into Wes Anderson movies and, based on the two films I’ve now seen, Noah Baumbach movies. Self-absorbed characters in movies that think they’re much more important & intelligent than they actually are. Marriage Story isn’t awful it just isn’t anything groundbreaking and I didn’t care about the characters. I’ve seen this story plenty of times before but with characters who were much more believable & sympathetic. And don’t even get me started on the kid in this movie! Bloody hell – he’s eight (or so I read) but written like a thoroughly annoying four-year-old. Sorry but no eight-year-old acts like this idiot kid. Was he written by someone who has never been around children? I didn’t expect to hate the poor kid in this movie. Wow. Hey, Hollywood – learn how to write child characters!

My Rating: 5.5/10

1917 (2019)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch

Music by Thomas Newman

Cinematography Roger Deakins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
1917 chronicles the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are tasked with delivering a message calling off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917. This message is especially important to one of the young soldiers as his brother is taking part in the pending attack.

My Opinion:

Shit. This was a good film & all that but it’s just not my type of thing. I struggle to force myself to watch war movies. To be fair, there are plenty I do think are great (The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, Full Metal Jacket, etc). This one looked great & the “feels like one shot” thing was interesting but honestly a bit distracting. I can see how some probably loved it, though, as it does feel like you’re taking this same journey with these characters. But for some reason I didn’t feel much emotion during this one, though I’m not sure why. The performances were perfectly fine. Again, I may have just been too distracted by the way it was filmed. 1917 is a good film and it’s a great technical achievement but, I’m sorry, I was a bit bored. I’m sorry! I have no class. I’ll still give it a decent rating since I know it’s a good film. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins Best Picture (but I’d like to see something less predictable win).

My Rating: 7/10

Rocketman (2019) Review

Rocketman (2019)

Directed by Dexter Fletcher

Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows Elton John’s early days as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music to his musical partnership with Bernie Taupin. The film is titled after John’s 1972 song “Rocket Man”.

My Opinion:

I watched this a while ago but never got around to reviewing it. I know it, understandably, got compared to Bohemian Rhapsody a lot and that snobby film fans far preferred Rocketman. I have to say that Rocketman is most definitely the better “film” whereas Bohemian Rhapsody is more of a straightforward and very lightweight crowd-pleaser. I do think people were too hard on Bohemian Rhapsody, though. I think music biopics should be fun. If you want reality, watch a damn documentary about the band. (It sure as shit shouldn’t have been up for the Best Picture Oscar, though.) However, I think most people would agree that Queen’s songs are far more enjoyable than Elton John’s, which will be another big reason why Bohemian Rhapsody was more popular with mainstream cinema goers. I mean, come on – Queen are WAY cooler than Elton John. Sorry Elton John fans! John & Taupin did write some absolute all-time classics, though. There’s no denying that they’re hugely talented, whether or not you’re a fan of their music.


Rocketman also won’t have won over casual movie fans thanks to it having been done more in the style of a musical, which isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t always like the musical approach as it doesn’t always work but I thought it worked very well for this film and I did enjoy it. Also, Taron Egerton was absolutely brilliant! I thought his performance was far more impressive than Rami Malek’s as Freddie Mercury. Egerton had to sing & dance & perform full musical numbers – who knew he was such an all-around talent? I’m impressed. I wasn’t previously a fan and kind of borderline disliked him. I can’t fault him in Rocketman – he’s fantastic.

As well as Egerton, Jamie Bell was great as Bernie Taupin. Okay – I admit to knowing very little about John & even less about Taupin so can’t say how accurate this movie is but it was good seeing their relationship and musical partnership. They’re great together in this film and it was interesting to see how they worked together to write such strong songs. As I said; Even if it’s music mostly just loved by people who are even older than I am now, you can’t deny how brilliant these songs really are. I mean, I’m old and adore music from the 70s but Elton John isn’t really my thing. When are we going to get a Black Sabbath musical with full dance numbers?! I’d watch that! They could do something really fun with Fairies Wear Boots!


As for the rest of the cast (such as Richard Madden as John’s manager and lover & Bryce Dallas Howard as John’s mother), they’re also very good but I do wonder what the real people think of this film. Well, I assume Elton John’s parents aren’t alive now. Probably not since they’re shown as being pretty hateful. Not as hateful as Madden’s character, though (John Reid). As Reid also managed Queen, he was in Bohemian Rhapsody as well but not shown to be such a jerk. I found an interesting article HERE comparing Reid in both films (both times played by Game Of Thrones actors but only played by a hot actor in Rocketman). Speaking of hot actors, I don’t think Egerton is hot but I bet Elton WISHES he actually looked like Egerton. That’s movie fantasy for you, though. I want someone super hot to play me in the story of my life too! God, that would be a boring movie.

Rocketman is a good film with great performances. Not actually being a big Elton John fan, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. The story and performances are very strong and they did the usual “rock star drug drama & daddy issues” thing very well but I also really liked the musical numbers (even the Crocodile Rock one and I f*^king hate that song!). It’s a good scene. Heck, I think the movie made me like the songs a bit more as they actually really suit the musical format of the movie. Maybe I was just in a good mood when I saw this. Or maybe I’m a secret Elton John fan & don’t want to admit it. (Nah)

My Rating: 7.5/10

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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