Movies in Theatres – A Discussion about Ready or Not

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Ready or Not (2019)

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Stars:

Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien | See full cast & crew

Ready or Not had a great trailer. The trailer did a reasonably sound job of confirming that the sub-genre where horror is mixed in with the protagonist playing some sort of sick game (kind of like Saw but this time it’s an actual game) is alive and well. There are plenty of movies based on this plot, and some of them are not even in the horror genre (The Hunger Games) even though horrible things can or will happen. So where does that leave Ready Or Not? Somewhere near the bottom half seems about right.

The biggest win in this film for me is the lead actress and protagonist in this twisted little tale, Samara Weaving, who plays the bride-to-be, Grace. Grace meets Alex and falls in love. Alex just happens to be part of the Domas Gaming family heirdom that makes him a very nice catch indeed. The couple finally gets to the big day where their lovely vows are exchanged, but most of this is just a facade. Unbeknownst to Grace, the Domas family have a very dark and ugly secret, and she’s about to find out just what that secret is by, you guessed it, playing a game!

Samara Weaving is fantastic as Grace. Weaving seems to be going from strength to strength in her films of late. That said, it would be a fair comment to also suggest that there might be a little bit of pigeon-holing going on in terms of the genre and roles she has been cast in. Nevertheless, she pulls it off with finesse, kicking and screaming all the way. She’s very believable, and that’s important because sometimes, you just need to see someone screaming from the sheer terror of their experience. Even in a horror-comedy.

The pacing of the film is a little odd. While the beginning starts off relatively slow, the pace seems to jump from 2 to 15 without much in-between and then maintains this pace until it’s very close to the end. There’s nothing wrong with a fast-paced horror movie as long as it’s all going to come full circle. Eventually, it does, but it was all just a little too predictable for me, and that was a tad disappointing.

One thing that I did think was a little funnier than it was probably intended to be is the situation that ensues with the Domas family waitresses and a butler that almost stole the show entirely. It’s so hard to find good help these days.

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Writing Update – November 2019

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If you’re not actually visiting my website, then you won’t see my “Currently Reviewing” Widget so I thought it would be a good idea to blog regular updates about what I’m reviewing and writing for the month. I anticipate that I may have a lot more to review and write about as the months progress because I am already reading and reviewing two books this week, which is this title courtesy of Net Galley:

 

F*ck No! By Sarah Knight
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

 

I actually really enjoyed reviewing Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Business in the non-fiction genre, so I’m gonna ride the non-fiction wave a tad longer with F*ck No! By Sarah Knight. It’s technically a self-help book, but I was intrigued enough by the title to read the blurb, and I was kinda sold.

 

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I started reading Under Lying by Janelle Harris purely out of the blue one day when I was looking on Amazon and I’ve just kept going from there so that’s book number two for this week.

And lastly, I wanted to revisit The King in a second viewing and finally write a review. So that’s a lot to do.

I’m also still writing my short story that I can’t talk about but it’s slowly coming along. I’ve written around eight chapters so far. I gave up on flash fiction because I really didn’t feel and you know what they say about not feeling something … don’t do it ūüėÄ

And lastly, I am looking at other blogging platforms to spread my writing around and I found Bloglovin which I actually liked so I’ll be reposting my work there.

Movies in Theatres – A Discussion about Doctor Sleep

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Doctor Sleep (2019)

Trailer
IMAGE VIA IMDB

Director:

Mike Flanagan

Writers:

Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan (screenplay)

Stars:

Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran | See full cast & crew ¬Ľ

MILD SPOILERS

Who knew that Danny, the little kid from The Shining had some sort of super power?

I certainly didn’t and I’ve seen The Shining multiple times. So fast-forward a good 20 odd years and our boy Danny has grown into a maladjusted human being who only likes two things in life; alcohol and running from his “demons” who just happen to be real. No, really and it’s not just Danny who sees them which I’ll get to in a bit.

You might be thinking, what could possibly be connecting this film to The Shining other than Danny? And that’s a fair question. Well, without spoiling it, there are more distinct tie-ins further on in the film to The Shining which I’m sure some fans will enjoy. I wasn’t very moved myself. Kubrick’s The Shining was a lot more psychologically scary, disorientating and a little disturbing which is why I enjoyed it. While Mike Flanagan did an alright job of integrating some of the “what the hell just happened” mood into Doctor Sleep, it really didn’t grip me half as much as similar scenes in The Shining did.

The fantastical aspect of the film is very much fantastical with lovely shots of the night sky, floating people and birds-eye views of the pretty city lights. But there was something that didn’t fit with the villains of this little story. Rebecca Ferguson as the villain Rose, The Hat, was cool and ethereal-like – I definitely see the likeness to Stevie Nicks in her character. She was everything you’d expect a generally good villain to be; a little creepy, a little aggressive all the while hiding a very dangerous secret under her cool but very big hat. The link between our hipster looking villain and her gang and Danny is explained which is essentially why this film is a sequel to The Shining, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it is.

Danny accidentally stumbles upon this very special friend named Abra who is linked to him through The Shining (the super hero power mentioned earlier). That is what Danny calls it so we’ll call it that too. The Shining then becomes this “thing” but I think I liked it more when it was obscure and unexplained.

To classify this film as a “horror” is a pretty big stretch, even with the nasty bad guys who reminded me more of the vampire family in Twilight. And you can take that any way you like.

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Netflix – A discussion about El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

EL CAMINO
IMAGE CREDIT IMDB
TV-MA | | Action, Drama | 11 October 2019 (USA)
A sequel, of sorts, to Breaking Bad following Jesse Pinkman after the events captured in the finale of Breaking Bad. Jesse is now on the run, as a massive police manhunt for him is in operation.

Director:

Vince Gilligan

Writers:

Vince Gilligan, Vince Gilligan (based on “Breaking Bad” by)

MILD SPOILERS
I was so excited to hear about a Breaking Bad movie, and I suspect I was one of the millions of fans around the globe that felt the same. There was no need for hoopla or PR advertising campaigns to push this into the minds of viewers – the fanbase for Breaking Bad were more than ready to see Jesse Pinkman and Walter White once more.
That said, would it be as good as the TV series? Could it even be “bad?” I sat on writing this review for a couple of reasons but mostly because I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it. It definitely didn’t blow me away as much as I expected it would, but somehow that didn’t matter in the end because it was so damn satisfying seeing Jesse again and following his story after his harrowing experience at the end of Breaking Bad.
Towards the end, everyone liked Jesse Pinkman. I never did, to begin with. Jesse was a character that really grew on me over time, so I was already invested in seeing what his fate would be, come what may. I just needed to know, you know?
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IMAGE CREDIT IMPAWARDS
No SPOILERS but wow, you’ll be reeling from this once you get to see what Jesse had to go through at the hands of his captors. How any man could survive that kind of treatment is anyone’s guess, but somehow Jesse pulled through it. Yeah, some bad shit happens to Jesse. And I’ll leave it at that.
The quick recap is you get to see what Jesse went through, you get to see what he must go through after being a wanted man and Jesse gets to experience the meaning of true friendship in a world where friends are very few and far between.
It’s also refreshing to see old faces once more, but it would be a bit of a spoiler for me to tell you who they are. You’ll just have to watch it for yourself!
The Broken Quill Rating: 3/5

Movies in Theatres – A discussion about Joker

“Put on a happy face”

Joker (2019)

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IMAGE CREDIT LETTERBOXD
A gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society.

Director:

Todd Phillips

MILD SPOILERS – PLEASE BEWARE

I never thought I would say these words, but I think I have finally seen a Joker origin film good enough to stand alongside Heath Ledger’s Academy award-winning performance from The Dark Knight. And I do not say these words lightly. While everyone else on planet Earth is getting hung up on this movie “glorifying mental illness”, I’m sitting here wondering why Joaquin Phoenix still hasn’t won an Oscar already. I’m sure I can’t be the only one. Maybe this performance is the one. I’d like to see that happen to him.

But let’s address the ‘other’ elephant in the room for a second. For anyone that has experienced mental illness, I think this movie definitely would have struck a chord. But isn’t that what good entertainment is supposed to do, even if that wasn’t the plan? I read about this film supposedly being a real movie with a cartoon character at its heart. Does it really matter that Joker is just a cartoon character? I enjoyed this film regardless of whether or not that was actually supposed to be a thing. If you can’t see the realism that both Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips masterfully weaved into Arthur Fleck and his grim existence, you’re missing the point entirely.

As people, we really don’t like it when we’re reminded of our own personal demons and shortcomings. Arthur Fleck is a man with a lot of these, the smallest of which is his mental illness. What I mean by this is if you strip away a person’s disability, what do you see? Even without his delusions, there was something really wrong with Arthur Fleck. There was something dark and ugly seething under the surface of his very thin skin, clawing its way out. Becoming the Joker was his way of escaping his own limitations and the limitations that he felt the world had placed on him. Arthur is a man disenfranchised by society, standing on the edge of a cliff where most people end up jumping because that’s the better option. This horrible shit pile of an existence was his reality, and Arthur was sick and tired of playing nice and jumping off that cliff. The only difference between Arthur and the status quo is that he was already one foot over that line that your average normal, functioning adult wouldn’t dare to cross.

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Arthur was a victim of society in every way. His environment was at least partially to blame for his gradual derailment into madness. Gotham was quite possibly the worst city to be living in for everyone else, let alone someone like Arthur. A society that is burdened by a “dog-eat-dog” mentality where even the people who are supposed to be symbols of hope in a city that has lost its soul are lying to everyone to keep up appearances. Even the good guys are bad – let’s be honest, Bruce’s dad was a dick. There was nowhere for Arthur to go and becoming the Joker offered Arthur a way out of having to excuse people for their cruelty and lack of sympathy.

I don’t know if I buy the whole “it was all just a delusion” story plot some critics have mentioned in their reviews. Yes, we already knew Arthur was delusional, but for the whole film to be a delusion? I don’t agree. At some point, we know that at least a few of the events in the film really happened. It wouldn’t have made sense for an audience to watch Arthur slowly losing his grip on reality only to be ripped off at the end because he made it all up. He wasn’t faking his mental illness – his therapy visits were smothered in realism. How many times does a person with mental illness, that they can barely understand themselves, need to explain it to an unsympathetic ear? I know people who have been and are in therapy and more often than not it’s just easier for the therapist to throw a prescription at the problem than it is to actually try and help someone in dire need of saving.

Joaquin Phoenix is superb as Joker. There’s really nothing much else to say about that. As Arthur Fleck, he is calm, soft-spoken and unassuming. As the Joker, he wears a smile that hides a grimace underneath. Under the guise of a clown, he is everyone’s worst nightmare; he is a man who has nothing left to lose.

It would be a damn shame if all of that were just a delusion.

Movie Rewatch – A discussion about Paterson

“If you ever left me I’d tear my heart out and never put it back”

Paterson (2016)

A quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Writers:

Jim Jarmusch, William Carlos Williams (poem) | 1 more credit¬†¬Ľ

Image credits: IMDb and ImpAwards

My partner actually asked if we could rewatch Paterson, which surprised me. Surprised because Paterson is a film that requires a fair bit of attention. It’s not one of those films where you can miss 10 minutes and still know what’s going on. I don’t know if that is how it was intended to be, but watching Paterson for the second time, I actually found myself noticing little things that just carried so much weight in the film without even realising it before. I’ll give examples of these things later on but suffice to say that if Paterson were a book, you’d discover a lot more about the film by reading between the lines.

I cannot hide my fondness for both Jim Jarmusch as a director and Adam Driver as an actor. To me, this pairing is quite literally, a gift to film, much like De Niro and Scorcese. You just know that there’s something special there and it’s raw, and it’s beautiful, and we’re lucky to witness it on screen.

Jim Jarmusch’s previous film Only Lovers Left Alive is also a movie I have high regard for, and it was this film that introduced me to Jarmusch’s genius. Adam Driver’s character is named Paterson, which also happens to be the name of the town where the film is set. In its own way, the city of Paterson is as much a part of this story as the main actors. Paterson, in this sense, is a reflection of the man Paterson – like twins are a genetic reflection of each other. There’s no other way to describe it.

Paterson Movie Poster Imp Awards

One of the recurring themes in the film is twins. They are seen almost everywhere in the movie as Paterson walks to work, drives his bus or walks home again. It becomes a lot more noticeable after a particular scene in the film, but I never noticed any of this the first time I saw Paterson. This is why rewatches are so useful to do – you really can pick up so much you miss the first time around. I tend to find this is the case when I see a movie I have been looking forward to. I just can’t take everything in during the first viewing. I like to see movies like that a second time when I am calmer and more aware of what is really happening in the film. I actually think a “review” is much easier to write when you’ve seen the film more than once.

What’s so endearing about the character Paterson is how effortlessly he goes about his day-to-day, almost entirely void of stress and hindrances that seem to bring most other people down. One important thing to recognise about Paterson is the way he avoids technology –¬† almost to the point of being crippled by it.

His wife is a creative, free-spirited woman who actually seems to polarise Paterson’s existence. She appears to be disorderly and quite chaotic in the way she goes about living her life. She doesn’t have a job and spends most of her time coming up with a different life-goal to pursue every other day. At times I think this manages to breach Paterson’s wall of order and routine, but he never shows it. They do love each other a great deal despite their differing personalities and quirks. They are the epitome of compromise in a relationship.

But the best thing about this film aside from the performances is, of course, the poetry. If you are a creative person, you’ll fall in love with the way that Jarmusch brings each and every poem to life with the imagery and perfect pacing of the film. Adam Driver’s narration doesn’t hurt either.

Paterson is a film that will pleasantly take you by surprise. Let the words wash over you like rain, let the images seep into your skin. You’ll understand what I mean when it’s all over.

 

Ad Astra Official Poster 2019

Movies in Theatres – A discussion about Ad Astra

“The Answers We Seek Are Just Outside Our Reach”

Ad Astra (2019)

7.2/1013,573

 

Image Credits: IMDb

I toiled with the idea of writing this review for more than a day. I decided I had to see it more than once to fully understand the magnitude of the message that this film delivered. I am not sure that I’ve fully grasped all of the concepts explored in the movie, but there is one that seemed to hit home a lot harder than expected, and that is the almost claustrophobic feeling of abandonment. I’ll work my way back around to this a little later on.

In a nutshell, James Gray has produced a seriously heavy hitter with Ad Astra, and he has none other than Brad Pitt hitting the ball right on out of the ballpark for him. Not only is this one of the best films I’ve seen this year, but Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Astronaut Roy McBride is out of this world (no pun intended). If this film doesn’t get an Oscar nod for at least best picture, I’ll be disappointed.

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Ad Astra is a touching, moving and at some moments uncomfortable film to watch. It’s both exhilarating and melancholy all at once with some scenes interlocking with each other in a beautiful synergy. I was actually surprised to find that this film wasn’t based on a book because the story is just wonderful.

Brad Pitt is both narrator and guide as Roy McBride who finds himself having to face the painful abandonment of his past by his father, esteemed Doctor and Astronaut Clifford McBride played by Tommy Lee Jones. When he is tasked with the almost impossible feat of searching for a father he thought was long gone, the journey he undertakes is one that wreaks havoc on him physically, mentally and emotionally. Not only has Roy dedicated his life to the exploration of space, just like his father did before him, but Roy also finds himself sharing a lot of the less desirable character traits of his father. Part of his journey into space to find a father he thought was dead is also a journey inward into the painful memories of an absent father. Roy McBride, now an adult, still doesn’t know who his father is or who he has become.

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The cinematography of this film will leave you with your mouth on the floor. James Gray went all in to try and deliver a movie that not only explored the darkest reaches of space and all its beauty, but he wanted the imagery to be as realistic as possible. In that respect, I put this film right up there with Gravity and Interstellar. Ad Astra is that remarkable.

There is something to be said about the recurring theme in the film that looks at the vastness of space, and the unknown and how it can pull people into it like a venus fly trap does its prey. The idea that a person can be alone for vast periods and not feel lost entirely is carefully examined mostly with the sad yet hopeful eyes of Roy who unlike his father, changes the course of his life after realizing what his father for all those years, could not. Like all good films that make you feel something, Ad Astra is a movie you should go into entirely open. It honestly took me by surprise in the best way possible.

See it if you love space films and emotional journeys as Ad Astra beautifully intertwines both of these themes throughout the film.

The Broken Quill Rating – 4.5/5