Movie Review: Wild (2014)

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Plot: A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy.

I seem to have a knack about sitting down to watch films about real events lately. When it is done right, these films are fantastic. When it is done wrong, well, then obviously not.

Wild is somewhere between the middle – I didn’t hate the film, but I found Reese Witherspoon’s character an emotional drain. Wild is about Cheryl Strayed’s successful hike through the Pacific Crest Trail, where she rediscovers herself after the death of her mother. I’ve been through the death of a parent, so I am with everyone on the level of grief it brings. However, grief does not equal lack of accountability and I found the multiple cheatings on her husband rather distasteful, and it’s depiction of it pretty gross. There is also a heroin addiction in play, and I really pitied her husband by the end of it. Witherspoon is a good enough actress to show the selfishness of Strayed’s character on screen. Make no mistake; her journey alone in the PCT is the correct way to rediscover herself, to reset, and to begin again. The solitary journey through the wilderness appealed to me, as did the incredible scenery and the wonder of the different landscape the USA has. I also really liked that she, a woman alone, set out and discovered the world. It is also a bit strange for me to imagine as South-African – I would never dream of hiking somewhere alone in fear of safety.

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The ending especially grated on me – ending a film on an open dialogue with some profound quote is one of the greatest crimes in humanity. Give me a conclusion – show how she apologizes to her ex-husband, show how she changes her life and show her marrying Michiel Huisman – gorgeous McGorgeousface – just show me SOMETHING that isn’t an open ending.

The sex flashbacks were rather distasteful and I would probably have liked Wild better if it wasn’t so frequent. It makes the film so much dirtier than it needs to be. It does serve as a contrast to the pure beauty of nature, so there is that at least.

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Overall, Wild really wasn’t my favorite film. There are ways they could have done it better. Witherspoon is an outstanding actress so I did appreciate her efforts, but man, those character flaws in the film put me off.

Rating: 6/10

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Movie Review: Chef (2014)

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Plot:A head chef quits his restaurant job and buys a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

I would never have specifically chosen to watch this film by myself, and yet Zoë really liked it. I knew if she liked something like this (and it usually isn’t the type of film she’d go for), I would likely enjoy it too.

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Jon Favreau is perhaps best known for his role as Happy in the Iron Man franchise, but we all know him to be an excellent director too. He takes on the main character role of the Chef Carl Casper (love the alliteration right there), a brilliant chef who is forced into a mundane existence by working in an upmarket restaurant with a close-minded owner (played by Dustin Hoffman). After being blasted terribly by a Food Blogger, Carl loses his shit, goes on a Twitter rampage and eventually just quits. His ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara), convinces him to take up a food truck because then he can actually be true to himself and cook what he wants.

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Beware, Chef is food porn. You need to be prepared for the visual stimulation that will besiege you and I would not suggest watching this on an empty stomach. The amount of goodwill towards good food is staggering, and I was salivating even after I already had a delicious meal earlier.

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Primarily Chef is what happens when a man loses his passion. It is a lesson on social media etiquette, being a good parent, finding solutions and loving what you do how a man that lost his passion gets back on his feet, and his relationship with his wife and child are incorporated into that.  It is a feel good film . I wish all divorced couples would get along so well. Inez and Carl are the ideal divorced pair. They both care about their childs’ happiness and work towards keeping him grounded. I also enjoyed seeing Sofia Vergara in such a role, she is too often only cast as a hot Latino mammy and while she does good at it, she has so much more to give than her typecast work. I also enjoyed Bobby Cannavale and John Leguizamo in their roles, as well as Scarlett Johannson who was just a normal character. Robert Downey Jnr. Quickly makes an appearance too, which tells me a number of the Avengers cast wanted to support their friend and that is just great.

I actually have nothing bad to say about this. Chef is a joyful film with humor and self-discovery, and while it really is very optimistic it is lovely to watch. Definitely worth it!

Rating: 8/10

Movie Review: Love, Rosie (2014)

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Plot: Rosie and Alex have been best friends since they were 5, so they couldn’t possibly be right for one another…or could they? When it comes to love, life and making the right choices, these two are their own worst enemies.

Rating: 5.5/10

I’m once again in danger of having no words to say, because while Love, Rosie is not a great film I didn’t really hate it. The film manages to be more awkward in its’ first twenty minutes of opening time than pretty much any other movie I’ve ever seen. I was cringing. Some writer really thought opening the movie with such a unique situation would lead the way for the rest of the film to be a success. I’m sad to report didn’t work out that well. The script isn’t that strong, it is drawn out at the end only the best type of British films can manage to be British, cute and funny all at the same time.

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The two lead characters worked hard to breathe life into their rather lackluster characters. Sam Claflin is quickly working his way up on my favorite British actors list. He is talented and although his role as Alex Stewart isn’t his strongest by far it is not due to a lack of trying. I also really enjoyed Lily Collins. It is the first time I’ve seen her in a film, and for all the mistakes this film made she was not one of it. She’s really gorgeous and her acting isn’t shabby and she did what she could to save the bad pacing of the film. The two have decent chemistry and a connection that makes their characters work well together.

Love Rosie is shot in washed out colors – I love that, and it also highlights the number of years that pass between two best friends. It also asks the old question of can a straight man and a straight woman be best friends without it becoming romantic?

I didn’t really understand why Suki Waterhouse had a character in this film, and why she and Rosie had such a little fight going. Was it merely a high-school fight that continued as a competition into adult hood? If it was, it sure wasn’t properly indicated in the film.

Rosie’s relationship with Greg (Christian Cooke) was from the start demented, and I’m sure everyone who watched this questioned her sanity when she was willing to give him a chance later on. Stockholm syndrome much?

What else can I say? The film didn’t take its’ sweet time, it was a shorty. I liked that, because I would have definitely rated it lower. I enjoyed the ending, placing each character exactly where they were supposed to be. It’s fluffy and romantic, and although it’s humor is misplaced and badly timed, Love Rosie isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen.

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Movie Review: Annie (2014)

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Plot: A foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.

Rating: 6/10

The very low rating I gave might suggest that I disliked Annie. I really didn’t though. I certainly thought that it was really very, very optimistic and that literally no one had an ounce of rhythm except Jamie Foxx. Cameron Diaz and Rose Byrne were the epitome of white girls dancing and I wanted to hide when they were subjected to singing and dancing and I was subjected to watching them do it. I thought Quvenzhane Wallis (what a name) was pretty cute as Annie. It seems quite deranged to make films about singing orphans, but the film (and probably theater production) manages to be upbeat and sweet and inspirational and one of those situations where the villains aren’t even villains at the end of the day. I watched Annie with my mom and she really liked it, and for her to really like a movie is almost impossible. There really isn’t much else to say about this – for a musical full of people who aren’t really musically gifted it didn’t go that bad. I wouldn’t claim that the film restored my faith in humanity because there is no way humanity is that good, but I did like it and thought it was sweet.

Have you seen Annie? What did you think?

Book Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life (Marian Keyes)

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Plot: Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year – touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side – she’s back to normality with a bang. And she’s got writer’s block.

Stella wants a clean break as she didn’t exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?

Rating: 6.5/10

It took me ages to read TWWSML. I read the first half really quickly, but it was super easy to get bored with the story. I did like that it ran in two different time zones – the present and the past events that lead up to the main character’s current situation. As usual the book contained truly Marian Keyes quirks, but for the most part it was a lot more normal than the previous book of Marian Keyes that I read. The Brightest Star in the Sky was odd to say the least, and this is a return to more moderate work from Keyes, which I enjoyed. It is more in the format of just a normal Irish tale, and I was fine with it.

Including a fascinating autoimmune disease was a great idea. GuillaineBarregot me reading up about the disease, and I patted myself on the back not only for understanding what went down but also learning a bit more about my field of work.

The book was really a big read, and the end was really rushed. It was a bit disconcerting to slosh through five hundred pages to have the ending run away like that. As for characters, I really hated her ex-husband. He was absolutely awful, and I’m not surprised that they ended up being divorced. I could in a way understand her child’s attitude – he’s young and his parents weren’t giving him a stable environment, but a grown ass man acting like that? Inexcusable.

TWWSML really wasn’t bad – it was just way too long. Have you read it? How did you feel about it?

Movie Review: The Maze Runner (2014)

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Plot: Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape.

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Rating: 6.5/10

My younger sister nagged me to watch The Maze Runner, so recently on a day off I sat down with her and watched it. I didn’t really love it, but it was okay. The most lacking thing is definitely the storyline – I get that things are supposed to be a puzzle and mysterious, but come on, at least reveal things that would make your movie make sense. Dylan O’Brien is the main character. He’s totally adorable, and I liked him as this main although can we please just all get to a point where a 25 year old male is not cast as a teenage boy? I also liked Ki Hong Lee – his role wasn’t all that clear and I didn’t understand why he was running in the Maze, but I liked him. I really don’t get why Will Poulter is popping up everywhere. I have hated this actor since We’re the Millers, which everyone knows was the worst movie of 2013.Eugh. He was obviously destined to be a pain in the ass in The Maze Runner, and he achieved it quite well because he was a pain in the ass. There were also a lot of male leads and only one female. They are probably doing this for #PLOTREASONS but it was kinda stupid. Also, like I mentioned, the plot is shrouded in mystery. I’m guessing if you read the book it would make more sense, but it seems to be a movie about a maze and some Dystopian drama and feelings. It also felt rather Divergent-ish, but it seems to be the norm that Dystopian authors “borrow” ideas here and there.  So in the spirit of not moaning too much about this, I really enjoyed O’Brien and Thomas Brodie-Sangster. When they finally let us know why these kiddos were in a Maze, it was quite interesting. I liked the images of the desert stricken earth – it was so dystopic dystopian. I am planning to watch the second film, and then the third as soon as cutie pie recovers from his on-set injury. Definitely not as good as The Hunger Games, but luckily not as awful as the Divergent films.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Movie Review: Laggies (2014)

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Plot: In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Megan panics when her boyfriend proposes, then, taking an opportunity to escape for a week, hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika, who lives with her world-weary single dad.

Rating: 5.5/10

Somewhere in Hollywood a producer thought people would genuinely want to see a movie about a woman who has everything in life – caring parents, a good education and a man desperate to marry her, decide she wants to live like a teenager for a week, allow said character to move in with a teenager, teenager’s father be okay with it, and in the end this woman would end up happy.

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Who had the most personality?

Obviously, I didn’t really get the point of this whole film. There are a minuscule amount of roles that I truly enjoy Keira Knightley, but this was not one of them. Her character was awful. Sure, her friends are atrocious and I’d likely stab them in the neck if I ever met them. The fact that she was friends with such awful people probably just proved the point that she’s awful – like seeking like and all that.

I thought that Mark Webber was quite sweet as the fiancé. I wouldn’t make it with such a sweet man, but he obviously loved Megan and was quite desperate that his life should go exactly as he planned it. Awful Megan really had no thought when she of her fiancé when she banged Craig, and I think at that point I just ended up completely hating her – it was a steady loathing before.

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What else? Chloë Moretz is appearing in so many thing lately, because she’s finally at an age where she can be cast as a teenager and actually look it. I’ve completely loved her since Kick-Ass, (I mean who hasn’t), and although she was just the generic teenager in this she did a decent job as become her norm.

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Then there is the amazing Sam Rockwell, who manages to stay insanely cool despite having the emptiest role in here. Craig is always working, in sharp contrast with Megan refusing to adult, and except having a few expected lines being angry at being dumped, he was a pretty empty character.

I honestly wish I enjoyed this more. The story was just too annoying to be any worth to me – sure, we all refuse to adult from time to time but that does not mean we get to squat in Sam Rockwell’s kitchen, now does it?

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Movie Review: Play it Cool (2014)

Plot:

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Plot: Unrequited love motivates a guy to write about his experiences.

Rating: 4/10

Sometimes I am so inspired when I write reviews. I feel like I’ve been completely present in the film, that the acting was good and that the storyline had a point. It is not only during serious stuff like The Godfather or Inglorious Basterds, it happens with romantic movies like Age of Adaline too. Then I get to movies like Play it Cool, and afterwards I don’t even want to talk about it more because it is too terrible to talk about. What can I possible say about this rom-com that is the worst example in its genre? I could possibly mention two leads who are relatively decent actors anywhere else yet somehow got roped in to do this mind numbingly boring movie? Did they have too many bills to pay that month? I can’t imagine Chris Evans not getting enough cash from being the Cap to cover his bills, but maybe he does things we don’t know of. It is possible anyway. I could mention that the film’s writers thought that the storyline: I’m-in-a-relationship-with-a-good-man-but-now-want-to-bang-random-hottie-because-I-have-issues had not yet been fully told and needed to be written again, but this time with a satirical angle, because let’s face it, that has also NEVER been done before. I could mention that if Michelle Monaghan’s smile could save a movie or Chris Evans’ all American looks could make a film redeemable, it still wouldn’t have saved the film. But I won’t, because this film isn’t worth it.

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PS: I will naturally ONLY forgive Chris Evans if he kisses me like that. DUH

Movie Review: Vampire Academy (2014)

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Plot: Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, half human-half vampire, a guardian of the Moroi, peaceful, mortal vampires living discreetly within our world. Her calling is to protect the Moroi from bloodthirsty, immortal Vampires, the Strigoi.

Original Rating: 5.5/10

New Rating: 6.5/10

Hmm. Never thought I would rate this one higher than what I originally did, but that first rating was pretty harsh. I actually really enjoyed VA when I watched it the other night again. There is nothing quite as fun as large amounts of cheese.

VA is nowhere what I wanted it to be. The cast works fine, but I really feel that Lucy Fry was a complete and utter failure as VasalisaDragomir. Dominic Sherwood, who is bad boy Christian Ozera, follows close on her heels. I have never seen such bad acting and I’ve seen some bad acting.

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I would love it if Zoey Deutch got her big break now. She’s really very pretty and quite a talented actress, and she did wonderful work with her source material as Rose Hathaway – she was the smartass we wanted Rose to be.

Danila Kozlovsky is an actual Russian and plays Russian Dimitri quite well. But for such a bad ass culture and nation I find their accents so ludicrous and them quite funny – hehe. He’s so hot though.

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The biggest failure of this film is the satirical angle. Why take a YA book, twist its already twisted logic, and make it satire? It didn’t work, and every scene with the vastly changed Kirova and Natalie Dashkov was a disaster. And let’s just say that Mark Waters should have been fired the second he suggested another Mean Girls, but with Vampires.

I really wish they could find a way to produce Frostbite, the next book in the series. It is a lot of nonsense but I really liked the books and it would have been amazing if this franchise had run at full speed.

Movie Review: John Wick (2014)

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Plot: An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him

Rating: 8/10

I’ve been on such a Keanu Reeves roll lately (Zoë and I were having way too much cheesy fun on my visit to her! :D) He’s not a bad actor but unfortunately he has things like 47 Ronin under his belt, which might just be the worst movie I have ever had the misfortune to meet (a lofty praise). John Wick is in the attributes column for Reeves. It is way too much fun and never stops with the cheese. That is a good thing, because the cast is rolling with it and never tries to pass it off as a serious mob movie. I was so furious when that incredibly cute dog was killed by Theon fucking Greyjoy, reminding me why I don’t even feel sympathy for Reek. I wanted to climb through the screen and get my revenge for Robb Stark and for tiny little Daisy – I mean, let’s face it: The only rule in movies that should never be crossed is the one where you DON’T KILL THE DOG. EVER. I was not even surprised that he reacted the way he did – the only thing that made the loss of his life more bearable was that puppy and when he lost it too, he lost his shit – unfortunately for the punks who committed the heinous crime, John Wick was versed in the art of kicking ass and didn’t need just angrily yell into space like the rest of us would have to do. John Wick had such a reputation and I thoroughly enjoyed the respect everyone threw his way and the way they deferred to him and refused to get into a fight. The action scenes were wonderfully choreographed and looked well – big ups to the constant reloading of guns – it drives me insane in other action bullets where they get eighteen shots out of a 6 bullet gun. The movie also looks really good – the way they implement colour into scenes and the beautiful camera work – sheesh, it looked great. I also have to reiterate my point that if men in this world had any inclination how women reacted to good suits they would wear them all the time. (thanks, Keanu). John Wick is such a great amount of fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously because storywise it isn’t as intricate as people would want. However, it looks really good and if you are the type of person who appreciates the fact that a man went on a mission to avenge his dog, you are going to love this.

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