Tully (2018) Review

Tully (2018)

Directed by Jason Reitman

Written by Diablo Cody

Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A mother of three hires a night nanny to help with her newborn.

My Opinion:

I was looking forward to this film as I liked the other two Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody collaborations. Juno was especially good – I loved the writing & humor. Young Adult was okay but slightly forgettable. I liked Tully much more than Young Adult but Juno is still the best by far. I appreciated the realistic depiction of motherhood & aging in this, though, which is what I think is making a lot of women like this one. But Tully is definitely not for everyone and I’d only recommend it to a very small group of women who would be able to relate to it. It’s far too indie and “dramatic” for the masses (I went to this quickly as you just know it’s one that’ll disappear from cinemas right away).

Theron is great in this. She gained 50 pounds for this role so I guess the post-baby belly was real? Gotta love realistic movies that don’t show a woman who has just given birth with a completely flat tummy afterwards. God I hate movies that do that! She’s a mother who is struggling but the movie doesn’t show her having some massive meltdown or having funny family romcom type moments. I just looked up Diablo Cody to see if she has kids as it felt like she must since she got things so right with this movie. Yep, she has three. Been there, done that! As they say, write what you know.

When it comes to Cody, she’s a similar age to me which is why her movies are going to speak to me more than to other generations. Other than Jennifer’s Body, of course. WTF was that?! At one point we see Theron and Mackenzie Davis (Tully, the night nanny) watching Diane Lane in Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. So few people will know what the hell they’re watching. By the way, that movie is great (I reviewed it HERE). And they also listen to loads of Cyndi Lauper at one point. I’ve realized in recent years that Lauper is truly underrated.

As for Mackenzie Davis, she’s perfect in the role as the night nanny who helps Theron through a tough time. She absolutely MUST have been chosen for this after Reitman or Cody or whoever watched her in the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror. She has a very likable quality – it will be interesting to see if she gets bigger roles. She’s already had small parts in big films, such as Blade Runner 2049. I really liked her & Theron together in this.

I’ll wrap this up by saying that I appreciated Tully but I’m also a part of the very small target audience for this movie. I’d recommend this to some bloggers but only a very specific few (Abbi Osbiston – I think you’d like this!). And I’d also recommend these movies if Tully is your kind of thing:

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains: Diane Lane as a punk rocker with some 80s feminism going on.

Waitress: A lovely Adrienne Shelly indie movie that I adore about a pregnant Keri Russell not being very excited about the baby she’s going to have with her abusive husband.

Kelly & Cal: Starring Juliette Lewis struggling with aging and having a new baby. This movie got no attention but I really liked Lewis in it despite not liking her when younger. I’m relating to her now in my old age!

Oh, and Whip It! That’s nothing like Tully, though. It’s just a kick ass “chick flick” that I really enjoyed and felt like mentioning again. I’m not a girly chick flick kind of girl. I see the name Kate Hudson on a movie poster and cringe. I hear the girls in my office talk about Fifty Shades Of Grey and want to barf. Most women are more complex than that. The movies I mentioned above are MY kind of chick flicks. We need more like those and like Tully. Silly romcoms are fine sometimes but give us the good, realistic stuff too.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Conjuring (2013) Review

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The Conjuring

Directed by James Wan

Starring:
Vera Farmiga
Patrick Wilson
Ron Livingston
Lili Taylor

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

This “based on a true story” movie follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) as they investigate mysterious supernatural occurrences at the home of the Perron family (parents played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor).

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My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this film. I rarely watch horror movies anymore as they seem to have turned into nothing but the torture porn variety that I can’t stand. Give me either a good old fashioned 70s & 80s slasher with cheesy special effects I can actually handle or a creepy old-school supernatural thriller. The Conjuring, I’m happy to say, comes pretty close to feeling like a genuine 70s supernatural thriller.

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The Conjuring opens with the Warrens showing us a previous case they worked on where a doll had become possessed. Dolls freak me out. Dolls freak a lot of people out and the makers of The Conjuring clearly know this. They take as many horror movie cliches as they can and throw them all at us. But all horror movies do this anyway. The Conjuring at least manages to use every trick in the book in a few fairly original & effective ways. (To be honest, the doll was too over-the-top freaky. The music box was more subtle & far creepier… )

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The Conjuring takes place in the 70s, which helps add to the overall creepiness. I’m a sucker for 70s films so that will have helped my enjoyment of this.The clothes! The cars! The 70s were so groovy! (From what I remember of the decade as I spent the latter part of it watching Sesame Street). So I really liked the look of the film. It’s no The Shining as far as the look and feel go (can anything really beat that one?!). But I appreciate the effort they put into making this feel more like a good old-school haunted house movie.

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Did The Conjuring scare me? I know that’s the main question people seem to be asking. Well, I can’t really think of a movie that ever HAS scared me. There are some that give me the heebie jeebies a little bit. The one I just mentioned, The Shining, is probably the film I find the creepiest and comes the closest to “scaring” me. The Conjuring didn’t scare me, no, but had I seen it for the first time alone & in the middle of the night, I’m pretty sure I’d have slept with the lights on.

It’s fairly intense and that tired old “based on a true story” thing DOES seep into your brain whether you believe it or not – that’s why so many horror movies use that line. (I’ve not yet looked into the true story of the Warrens & Perron family so can’t comment on how true this film actually is). I was a little bit jumpy through the film but, as always, you know when the scares are coming. The film also shows us more of the “ghostly visitors” than I was expecting but I know they need to keep things balanced as the younger cinema goers expect that these days. I’ve always been someone who’s been more scared by the things we don’t actually see. However, I think The Conjuring strikes a decent balance at trying to keep the old-school supernatural horror fans like me and the current generation of fans happy.

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The number one reason that I think makes this film stand out so much compared to other horror films of recent years, though, is this: The acting (particularly the two female leads). Too many current horror films are full of either horrible acting or completely unlikeable characters. I don’t want to watch a movie with either of these things – I don’t think the rules should be any different for the horror genre. Lili Taylor was the best thing about this film for me. She was genuinely believable as a loving mother who just wants to protect her five daughters. I know she’s been in plenty of things in more recent years but not much that I’ve seen so it was great seeing her in a big role in this – I’ve always especially loved her part in Say Anything. Vera Farmiga is also great in this although I kind of feel I’ve seen her play a similar role before. The bond the two woman share as they both have daughters was very good. The men are fine but really take a backseat to all the females in the film (Ron Livingston especially seems to have very little to do). Being a woman, I really liked seeing a film with such strong female leads. Even all six daughters in this film do an excellent job, which is great as there has been some especially bad child-acting in horror films.

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Summary:

The Conjuring uses every trick in the book to scare us but at least uses those tricks in some fairly original & effective ways. The film has a good look & feel which will keep fans of old fashioned horror films happy but I think should also please a younger generation of fans who want something other than torture porn. But the thing that makes the film stand out the most in its genre is some great performances, especially those of the strong female leads. This film feels like a more grown-up horror film and will hopefully pave the way for similar films in this genre. I don’t think it’s the best “haunted house” film I’ve seen but it’s a refreshing return to an old formula that’s a step in the right direction in a generation now filled with some mind-numbingly bad and excessively gory so-called horror films.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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