Blindspot 2017: The Italian Job (2003)

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Plot: After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally.

This month is running the risk of churning out very little blog posts. That’s okay. I’d rather post when I’m in the mood versus loading crap because I have some demented sense of responsibility. I sat down to get through this Blindspot entry after my emotional breakdown finishing Spartacus. I can’t even contemplate reviewing it yet, I go into a hulk smash mode whenever I think of it – just ask Zoë. So I am not committing to watching another show right now. I can’t deal with having my heart ripped out of my chest a second time.

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So on to The Italian Job – it was quite okay if a bit forgettable. Mark Whalberg pretends he can act and we let him think he can. Seriously, I’ve always thought of him as Second-Tier Matt Damon. Then Donald Sutherland – what’s the word on him out there? He seems to have been 76 for 76 years; I can neither contemplate him as younger or older than he always seems to be. I’m also not really onboard with saying he’s a fantastic actor – age is not an indicator of talent. President Snow is a top tier thief in The Italian Job, recently on the run from his parole officer, when he meets up again with Charlie (Whalberg), and a Fast and the Furiousesquetype of team of thieves. There’s Jason Statham as Handsome Rob (don’t get why people think he’s handsome – he’s short, angry, and can’t act), then two other guys. Or three other guys. Not sure. They are all introduced in a typical fashion, with flashbacks and quips. Some of the dialogue is quite off, the humor doesn’t always hit the right spot, and it is very easy to forecast the resolution of this film. Homegirl Charlize Theron is the best with acting in the bunch working to find her father’s killer, and she made the movie okay for me. She’s a smart sort in this film, making sure the skills she learned from her nefarious father is turned into a legal and thriving enterprise. Also – really blonde and pretty and completely devoid of her South-African accent.

It seems like an Ocean’s Eleven, without the extreme charm of George Clooney and Brad Pitt to carry it when needs be. The acting and storyline isn’t as solid as it should be either. They rely heavily on the use of Mini Coopers to provide flash, and I guess when the car manufacturer launched again back in 2003 it was a big deal. But shoot me – I don’t see a man driving a mini as significantly manly. The car is so tiny – if you want to rob things just use a big vehicle.

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The Italian job a decent enough heist/thief movie, with the characters as always trying to show you how nice thieves really are. Did I miss the part where the name of the movie links to the content of the movie? Or is it merely because their job in Rome resulted in the death of one of their team members? I can’t really tell, so let me know if you know.

I’ve had such a fantastic list in 2017 so The Italian Job isn’t near to the best I’ve seen, but it is quite enjoyable all the same. You don’t need to think too hard about it, so it was really quite okay to watch with my broken Spartacus and Gannicus’d heart.

Rating: 7/10

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Read, Watched, Loved: May 2017

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Hey everybody! This post is going up super late this month – I was happily scheduling away on here and didn’t notice that I still hadn’t put this guy up. So as usual, here’s my monthly rundown (but for May). Let me know what you’ve seen and haven’t seen, and just generally how you are 🙂

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017) I don’t think anyone was able to hate this film. It was buckets of fun, and I really have such a soft spot for Baby Groot (who doesn’t?). It is similar to the first film but bigger and more of the formula that worked. The plot wasn’t as solid as the first, but I was able to have a fantastic time regardless of that.

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Pride and Prejudice (2005)I liked this movie so much that when I wanted to initially write a quick blurb for here I ended up writing out the review. It is a wonderful film. I am now convinced I need a Mr. Darcy. He’s difficult and worth it. The adaption is fantastic and the chemistry between the leads is amazing.

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Sweet home Alabama (2002) – I watched this as a young person – maybe at around 21 years or so, and really enjoyed it. I have such love for Reese Witherspoon, she truly is a beautiful and talented woman. Her character has the terrible task of choosing between Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey, and this movie has humor and heart to it.

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Jackie Brown (1997) I watched this for Tom and Mark’s Decades Blogathon.It is one of the few Tarantino films I hadn’t seen as yet, and found it a great pleasure to watch.

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The Host (2013) – I just had to watch this film again to compare source material to it. It is not as unforgivably bad as the internet make it out to be, and I had a rather enjoyable time watching it.

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Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice is a slow read, that is no lie, but I enjoyed it so much. It is a wonderful, wonderful book with many events and excellent character development. It also gave me yet another book hero to attach strongly to.

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Three Fates – Nora Roberts: I reviewed this before and seemed to have a good thing to say about it. Strange, because I don’t remember loving it so much. I am having a really good time rereading it again though, it is truly Nora Roberts and some good and light reading.

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The Host – Stephanie Meyer: I’m not sure whether the I was a masochist or just seeking enjoyment without thinking too much about it, but I decided to pick up The Host again. It is okay and certainly better than Meyer’s previous novels. It raises some moral questions and has interesting theories despite some slow parts.

What did you do this month?

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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Plot: Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continuing on my slightly unhealthy craze of Pride and Prejudice and all things Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet related, I had to watch this 2005 adaption again. I can’t find a review for it anywhere on my blog, and I know I’ve seen it before – is it possible that I did it pre-blog? I’ll never know!

I had a great time. I remember enjoying it the first time but not really appreciating the ending back then – I think I didn’t get at that stage just how British this story is and how perfect that ending was.

There are a number of changes made, but it was organic– I didn’t feel that it deducted from the story at all. The changes made were done to fit the span of the book into a movie, so a lot of information and pivotal scenes were ignored. As I said it didn’t damage the film much, but the book certainly provides a more comprehensive scope of Darcy’s character and the change Elizabeth was able to inspire in him.

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Matthew MacFadyen is truly a perfect Darcy. He is a wonderful actor, truly being able to convey emotions without saying too much. He is perfectly British and his contained atmosphere and telling outbursts as Mr. Darcy is spot on.

My love/hate relationship with Keira Knightley seems set to continue. The way she has of pulling her mouth frustrates me to no end. But, as I listed here, the fact that she has an annoying mouth does not derive from the fact that she is an accomplished actress. Ms. Bennet is as challenging to a female lead as Mr. Darcy is to a male lead – complex, intelligent characters with the weight of being a beloved classic weighing them down. She manages her role admirably and is a delight as Ms. Bennet, and has sufficient and delightful levels of impertinence that made me love her all the more.

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Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet was a choice that I was not that all that pleased with, but she did her best. There was a desperation to her impression of Jane that I did not enjoy – Jane is shy and sweet natured and a bit too believing in the best of others, but she isn’t a desperate woman. Jenna Malone as Lydia Bennet was a perfect choice – Lydia is really the worst thing, she is a flirting little girl with no sense or morals or particular care for her family. It takes a strong actress to bring that particular disregard to family and tradition to life, and the callousness with which Lydia does it as well. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet properly emanates that exhaustion Mr.Bennetmust feel from a lifetime with the skittish and irritating Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) – who can’t but help being such an annoying person. I wish I could have seen more of Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham – he was good on screen but not particularly often on it, which is frustrating as Mr. Wickham is quite important to the events that unfold. I wish I liked Simon Woods as Charles Bingley – he was just too ginger for my idea as Bingley. I did like Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley – she was as snobbish and backhanded and mean spirited as her character requires.

I felt similarly in the book – a need to rush through and to get to the end to know everything, but the pacing was slow and careful and makes you subsequently pay a lot more attention. The British countryside is beautiful despite the depressing weather, and the director managed to capture it and incorporate it into this very British movie.

The ending of the film is different to the book only in execution, with the phrases altered slightly but still much the same. It is powerful and touching, and the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden is through the roof at that very moment. I’ve seen the extended version and the normal version, and the extended is a lot more true to what happens in the book.

I enjoyed this adaption so much. It is a great cast, it is well paced and despite missing some key events it still tells what it needs to tell. Watching this soon again is inevitable. An 8.5/10 for me.

 

Movie Review: The Mockingjay Part II (2015)

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Plot: As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Rating: 7.5/10

Mockingjay Part II had a lot to live up to. The not so stellar opinion of Mockingjay Part I probably increased the pressure significantly. Did it live up to the hype? You will have to go see it to decide for yourself, but I liked it well enough. It doesn’t come close to disrupting what I consider my favourite films of 2015, but I found the movie well done, very sad and a good end to the franchise.

What is it about this film series that makes it much more palatable than other Dystopian dramas? I really enjoyed the Divergent books but the movie adaptions run great risk of falling into complete obscurity. The Hunger Games, however, does not run this risk. Why? Firstly, the cast is stellar. Secondly, the directing is spot on and I think a great visualization of what Suzanne Collins thought. Lastly? The story itself carries resonance in a world plagued by terror and war. No one can possibly watch the Hunger Games series and realise that no, we aren’t sending people into an arena to fight to death, but that it is very close to our every day of warfare.

I considered Mockinjay Part I fine, much against popular opinion, but Part II is definitely better than its’ predecessor. It is mostly due to the fact that the last part of the book has all the action – part I had the unfortunate task of making a movie out of a very dull and depressing part of a very thin book.

The biggest flaw in the film is most certainly that the watchers who didn’t read the book will be confused in many places – even I, who did read the book, thought that the movie was confusing at places.

It also feels rushed – the film is short for a last film and there is so much action that a few breather scenes – something I rarely recommend – should have been included.

My favourite part? Josh Hutcherson. I am a full out Gale Hawthorne fan, but Josh Hutcherson was born to play the sweet Peeta Mellark – that incredibly kind person who managed to keep something of himself despite the fact that he had gone through enough to destroy kindness once and for all. He broke my heart in places, and watching him struggle through the lies the Capitol had fed him was really very painful.

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The best scene? Definitely those fucking mutts. Pardon my French there, but what WERE those things? I was terrified. I expect them to show up in my dreams soon. WTF. And the death there that supposed to happen? It did, and it was as terrible as in the books.

Kudos to Jennifer Lawrence for what she does for Katniss Everdeen. Say what about how annoying she is on the red carpet, because she is, Jennifer Lawrence brings so much character to that selfish girl in the books. You get to understand that Katniss is going mad – she’s been through too much and has seen so many horrors that she is not stable and she has lost most of her kindness.

I am slowly becoming a big fan of Liam Hemsworth as well – not near to the admiration I have for older brother Chris, but quite a lot. I think that he did very well in here and acted his best since the start of the series. I do wish that they could have included something about what happens to him in the end – the book leaves that out as well, but I think the movies could have concocted something.

There are a few changes between book and movie, but as nothing major is altered it isn’t something I would complain about just yet.

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I think I am always going to consider Catching Fire the best of the series, but Mockinjay Part II is a good end to a very good franchise. It is a bit sad to say good-bye, and if you have no clue what to expect in the movie, just be aware that Suzanne Collins made J.K. Rowling look like a merciful goddess who spared all your favourite characters from a grizzly death. That is all I’m going to say. I hope you enjoy it, and can speak fondly of a great franchise, as I am planning to do.

Movie Review: The Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

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Katniss: “I have a message for President Snow: You can torture or bombed us, blasted our district to the grounds. But do you see that ? Fire Is Catching… If we burn, you burn with us!”

Plot synopsis: With the Games now destroyed and in pieces, Katniss Everdeen, along with Gale, Finnick and Beetee, now end up in the so thought “destroyed” District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her friends, Katniss becomes the “Mockingjay” and the symbol of rebellion for the people (IMDb)

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Rating: 8/10

Although not as entertaining or jaw dropping as Catching Fire, I really did enjoy Mockinjay Part 1. It didn’t contain so many filler scenes as I thought it would. I consider the “filler” scenes really as part of the story here – remember, The Hunger Games is written in first person so it is only natural that there would be parts where the other characters showed what they were up to, because it wouldn’t have been in the book. The movie ended where I thought it would – the only place that makes sense when you read the book and realise what happens. It is also a wonderful, true adaption – I really didn’t catch much changed, and if it was, it wasn’t significant. A major plus is that the movie didn’t feel stretched out or too much, and I was worried about that. There wasn’t too much real action, but the first part of the book is mostly sadness and not guns blazing. The uprisings in the Districts particularly touched me, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of that. The bombing at the trees and the hydro electrical plant gave me such chills. It will always move me when people rise against injustice. I liked that they included the Hanging Tree song; it was beautiful, chilling and authentic.

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Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) has so much screen time and I was EEK about it. He is responsible for saving so many lives after the bombing of District 12, but he is still carrying scars from what he saw, a weight on his shoulders to be a proper soldier to the District that saved him and pain because he knows that Katniss will never return his feelings. Liam isn’t as charming as his dear brother Chris (you may have heard of him), but I do like him as an actor and as Gale. He does slightly resemble Katniss, something that was essential in the books to pass them off as cousins for his safety, and he is very much as I would have imagined him if I ever read HG before the movies. Just as a note, I would have chosen Gale over Peeta any time of day and think Katniss is rotten for playing with Gale’s feelings just because she is unsure about her own. Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence have enough chemistry to make this relationship very intriguing.

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Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is in the hands of the Capitol and being tortured for his possible role in what happened in the Arena. He keeps sending out anti uprising propaganda, and is not the most beloved person in District 13. However, Katniss knows it is not who he really is, and notices his deterioration.

Like I just said, I wouldn’t personally choose Peeta over Gale, but I love the character. He is so sweet and loyal, and just wants to love Katniss and have her safe. Josh Hutcherson does well because he has a kindly face that seems to smile even when he isn’t, and he impressed me again in here with his portrayal. It is eery how physically worsens, and how bad he eventually looks.

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Sam Claflin impressed me as Finnick Odair. He isn’t the biggest part of the series, and I loved how his role stayed relative to that in the book – there, but not overwhelming. Claflin does the portrayal great, because I really felt his intense pain at knowing Annie was at the mercy of the Capitol. I understand everyone was upset with the cutting of Sam’s underwear scene, because it would have been fun and would have lightened up the movie a bit, but I think most of Finnick’s scenes were well executed.

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Donald Sutherland as President Snow was AMAZING. He is incredibly well cast and he is chilling and really charismatic at the same time. Snow loves playing games with Katniss – it seems as time as the uprisings in the Districts are insignificant to him compared to the continuing fight he has with Katniss.

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Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, didn’t plague me as much as in the books. Lawrence makes her real, shows that the thorny exterior hides a terrified interior. The books sometimes only reflect her selfish behaviour and demands, but Katniss in the movie makes you understand that she is a product of her surroundings – maybe her indecisiveness to choose between Peeta and Gale isn’t greed but a desperate attempt to have more things to love and to be loved by. Not right at all – but sympathy can be had.

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Margaery Tyrell certainly looks different!

Lastly, I thought that Boggs, Cressida and the entire crew was well done, Elizabeth Banks shined once again as Effie Trinket, and Julianne Moore as Alma Coin was also a good choice. Woody Harrelson continues his role as Haymitch Abernathy, who is sober under the stringent rules of District 13, and that doesn’t make him nice at all. I like that he is always the one who tells Katniss where to get off, because she really deserves it.

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Recommendation: Hell’s yeah!

Word of advice to those who haven’t read the books yet for Mockingjay Part Two: Suzanne Collins didn’t pull a Veronica Roth, but she got REALLY trigger happy at the end of the series. #cries

Movie Review: Catching Fire (2013)

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Catching Fire takes place a few months after Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) became the first two victors to leave the Hunger Games alive. Before the Victory Tour – a tour designed to keep the horrors of the Games fresh in everyone’s mind, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) visits Katniss at her home. He tells her that her act of defiance – where she and Peeta agreed to eat poisoned berries rather than killing each other, showed people that it was fine to defy the Capitol, and that the result was that there are uprisings in the districts. He tells Katniss that if she wants her family to survive, she will show the entire Panem that she was just a silly girl in the cinema that was desperately in love.

This naturally is a problem because she is barely speaking to Peeta. He is still hurt by the fact that her feelings were just a show for the audience while his was real. While on tour they manage to become friends again, but even that isn’t enough. In the district where Rue, the girl who was so close to Katniss in the Arena, used to live, they witness an outbreak of violence when the crowd salutes Katniss. Katniss confesses to Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Peeta what Snow wants, but even when Peeta and Katniss act in love it isn’t enough to stop the rebellion that is rising.

Snow discusses plans to get rid of Katniss with the new head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensby (Philip Seymour-Hoffman). When everything else fails, they decide to send Katniss, with many of the other victors, back into the Arena for the Quarter Quell – a special Hunger Games that happens every 25th year to once again remind the people of Panem the price they pay for the rebellion long ago. How will Katniss and Peeta get out alive a second time with Snow seeking her death?

Rating: I would rate this movie an excellent 9/10.

WOW. Just wow. I finally got to the cinema this weekend to go and see it. There were so many reasons I just couldn’t get to the movies before this, so I went in three weeks later than I had planned. Everyone was declaring it one of THE movies of the year, and absolute must, and I was getting frustrated by not having seen it yet. The internet is such a bastard so I was cautious not to check out too many reviews – I have been burned before. The waiting was well worth it in the end.

It is so rare that a movie is 1) as good as its book 2) better than its prequel and 3) gets me teary eyed. Catching Fire managed all three. It packs a huge emotional punch. Katniss is much more lovable on screen than in the books. In the movies she is just a very confused girl in a horrible world, where fear is so acute she actually doesn’t know how to understand love. There were very few changes made from book to movie. I appreciated that, and have to mention that some of the changes were best for the movie.

Why is it better than Hunger Games (2012)? It is very difficult to pinpoint, but there are just so much more emotions in Catching Fire. It sticks to the story, and what is added doesn’t subtract from the message of the film. All the actors have developed exponentially, most notably Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. She has always been great, but she is so truly Katniss in Catching Fire that you feel that you are right there in the arena with her. Peeta breaks your heart with his kindness, and Gale breaks your heart with his stubborn bravery and pride. The scene where the Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch hear two of them will certainly be sent back into the arena is horrible. It broke my heart. The cruelty of President Snow, and how stupid he was to think that Katniss could stop the revolution, and punishing her when she couldn’t by sending her back into the arena. Effie Trinket got so much more show time and Elizabeth Banks really did well showing her as a frilly Capitol creation, but with a good heart who feels something for them despite her stupid costumes. Some of the scenes (like the poisoned smoke) are utterly disgusting and some (like the monkeys) had me jumping in fright. As you meet characters that will have significant impact later on, you already start grieving for what will happen to them. Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) isn’t the major sex-symbol he is portrayed as in the books, but he is brave, sweet, kind and loyal to Mags. Carrying her on his back reduced me to tears a few times. Plutarch Heavensby was brilliantly done. He has this underhanded brilliance that makes you suspect he is pulling a big one on President Snow – who was once again excellently done by Donald Sutherland.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I beg you to go now. You will be thanking me later.

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