Movie Review: The Girl on the Train (2016)

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Plot: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shock waves throughout her life.

Based on the popular debut novel by Paula Hawkins, we meet Rachel (Emily Blunt), our really annoying protagonist. She’s a spiraling alcoholic, and her days are spent obsessively observing a couple on her way to work. She sees a 3D version of someone’s Facebook profile – just the pretty things. They seem perfect, and Rachel dreams about how happy and content they must be. When Rachel sees Megan (Hayley Bennett) in the arms of another man on the balcony, Rachel cannot comprehend why she’d do such a thing. Megan and Scott (Luke Evans) seem so perfectly happy. When Megan disappears, Rachel knows she saw something on the night’s disappearance. But she’s plagued by what she saw and how she’s implicated in Megan – who shares a striking resemblance to Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife – disappearance.

Meanwhile Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) is happily married to Tom (Justin Theroux), Rachel’s ex-husband. The only blight on their happy existence is the continuous stalking by Rachel. I mean how dare she be mad and unstable after her husband cheated on her and is now married to fellow-cheatee?

Flashbacks to Megan’s life and her therapy sessions with Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez) show a deeply disturbed woman dealing with some intense demons. She’s also not the lily white person Rachel dreamed about. The question remains what happened to Megan – did she make a run from her reputably abusive husband, or was she killed?

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I enjoy a good murder mystery. The Girl on The Train theoretically into that category. Is it good? The Girl on the Train is steeped in melodrama and the excellent performances by Emily Blunt and the rest of the cast help, but unfortunately this doesn’t completely save the film. I enjoyed all three main female leads.  Megan (Hayley Bennett) is the most risqué of the characters. Hayley Bennett did a great job in making an unlikeable character likeable, but more background would have been great for more sympathy. On a quick glance Anna is just a trophy wife. However, as the film continues more of Anna shows and her character become more complex, and soon she’s right there on the suspect list. The interactions the female characters have with each other is great – full of underlying tensions and suggestions.

Film Title: The Girl on the Train

I enjoyed Luke Evans. It is so good to see him in things; I think he’s a great actor. There is an air of mystery around Scott – is he an emotionally manipulative person as it becomes suggested or is he simply another pawn in Megan’s life? I also really liked Edgar Ramirez, and his character is one of the only ones I had empathy with. It is the first time I’ve seen Justin Theroux in something, and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t all that impressed.

It is hard to sympathize with Rachel. She’s an alcoholic who is obsessive and out of control, and her obsession with her ex-husband and his new wife is borderline psychotic. Emily Blunt is fantastic as always – she has a knack for making you like these out of control characters. Sadly her great performance isn’t enough to stir sympathy up for Rachel. In the last dying moments of the film, which becomes increasingly dramatic, I did feel sorry for Rachel. If you’ve seen it you know what went down, but for those who haven’t yet I won’t give away the big dramatic twist. It was intense, and I was semi-impressed as I only guessed half of it right.

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I’m torn if I want to read the book – there is obviously more layers to the story than the movie could portray. There is an interesting underlining topic of how crazy maternal instincts can cause women to become – I find that really fascinating – and another whole unexplored section of marital dramas between couples. However, the book drove bestie crazy, and I’ve heard that the first person dialogue is enough to want you to make Rachel even more.

Have you seen/read The Girl on the Train? Let me know your thoughts on it!

Rating: 6/10

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Book Review: Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

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Plot: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

*Contains spoilers*

I had such a good experience finally reading Gone Girl. I watched the movie  in 2014 (I can’t believe it’s’ been three years!) and rated it my favorite film of 2014  . I plan on watching it soon again to be able to compare with the book, which I’ve owned almost equally as long but didn’t have the inclination to read. Finally picking up the novel was a good idea. I have the slight wish of not having seen the film before I read the book, because instead of discovering that plot twist I was merely awaiting it’s arrival. Would I have seen it coming? I don’t think so. Amy’s diary entries are so sweet and caring and she seems stupidly devoted and optimistic towards her marriage. Nick seems desperate and slimy and an all-around horrible spouse, a man whose frail ego was damaged when he lost his job and his wife didn’t fawn over him all the time. Amy seems like a sweet-hearted fool for about half of the book and then you get to know the psychotic sociopath beneath her pretty exterior.

Gone Girl has a fast tempo and I found it written well. I enjoyed Flynn’s writing style and the way her character’s thought patterns works. The characters are flawed indeed. I sincerely hope there aren’t any Amy’s’ out there in the real world. Amy and Nick are both repulsing, and they are a strong reminder to know your partner very well before even contemplating marriage.

Gone Girl is not a book that celebrates the best in human kind or is sweet, fluffy or romantic. It is full of nasty realizations about relationships and how bad they can be. I have to say that while I usually pick up more lighthearted novels I did enjoy this one. It’s more realistic than most though there are elements which are hopefully too shocking to be true.

I wasn’t fond of the end. Amy gets away with so much and in return she gets more leverage over Nick and no repercussions.  It jarred with my (and probably everybody’s) sense of justice. Nick in no way deserves an easy existence – he really is quite a slime ball, but Amy getting everything she wants just didn’t feel right and had the book fall slightly on its’ face in the end – like a Goosebumps for adults, the world isn’t rid of Amy’s evil.

It is just a thought here, but I think the book can also send a negative message to the world. So many women are murdered by their husbands, are abused and discarded when they cease to hold interest for their spouses, where a book where the female is clearly the villain and clearly a psychopath does not do well for the eradication for these murders.

Gone Girl was a good read, highlighting the craziness that a couple can bring forth in one another. It’s (hopefully) much dramatized but kept me entertained for the entirety of the book. Have you read Gone Girl? Let me know!

Rating: 8/10

Blindspot 2017: Basic Instinct (1992)

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Plot: A violent, suspended police detective investigates a brutal murder, in which a manipulative and seductive woman could be involved. 

 I had a vague, vague idea what this film was about. Turns out it was so vague it was barely an idea. I was expecting some mildly sexy murder drama. MY POOR EYES. It is just wild sex and murder and flashing vaginas everywhere. Did I like it? I’m actually not even sure. Objectively thinking I know it was a good thriller. It is shocking to behold. I can’t help but be of the opinion that the films that are currently being produced is relatively tame compared to some of these classics. My benchmark up to here for risqué old school thrillers had been Cruel Intentions, but after watching Basic Instinct Cruel Intentions is a Disney animation comparatively.

 Excellent writing, acting and directing makes sure neither the watcher nor the investigators know whether Catherine Tramell is guilty of the brutal slaughtering of her lover. She’s cold and brilliant. It is excellent work by Sharon Stone, who is a master of manipulating her emotions on screen – she’s cold and distant, overtly sexual, sweet and charming and devastated at the snap of her fingers, expertly bringing Catherine to life in a way few other actresses would have been able to.

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Michael Douglas is the male protagonist who you aren’t ever sure is a protagonist. He’s a cop with questionable ethical values, a heavy drinker and recreational drug user who seems to have a habit of accidentally shooting people. His addictive personality is activated after meeting Catherine and he becomes obsessed with her on multiple levels. Only someone with a damaged psyche would even go close to such a person as Catherine, and that is great insight on his character.

 I enjoyed the tone of the film as well. It is a slow paced thriller with a soundtrack that suits every scene, with great cinematography. Director Paul Verhoeven is a good with creating atmosphere. The perpetual dread and distrust Detective Curren experiences is portrayed well to the audience.

 Basic Instinct is a shocker of a film and was clearly desired to be. Sharon Stone is a standout performer as this film and it is clear to see why it has become such an iconic role. I was really disturbed and shocked. It is not easy watching and will stay with you for quite a while (it is STILL with me and I watched this the beginning of April!). As for the Blindspot selections, it is worthy if only for being thought provoking and I can finally say I’ve seen it. Have you seen Basic Instinct? Let me know what you thought!

 Rating: a traumatized 7/10

Blindspot 2017: Seven (1995)

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Plot: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

Rating: 8.5/10

Set in a dark and dreary city, homicide detectives Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt must investigate what is turning into a serial killer’s mad spree through town, emulating the 7 deadly sins in the most horrific of ways. Detective Freeman is retiring and after years of witnessing the horrors a decaying city can provide, he’s not too keen about taking up another job. But he somehow can’t pull away – he’s forced to worked with the new young detective and solve this last crime.

I enjoyed how dark and dreary the city was. The constant torrential downpour makes England look like a sunny palace. It’s so heavy, and combined with the decay of the city a sense of hopelessness lies in the air.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is a sharp contrast to the city. She’s everything the city isn’t – fresh and sweet and kind. I really liked her, how she balanced her husband out and wasn’t everywhere in the story and somehow remained so important in it.

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A thing that stands out sharply is the difference between the two detectives. Both are good men but so much difference in character. The younger detective is impulsive, perhaps because of his age. He’s by no means unintelligent but is far less cerebral than his older counterpart, who is often reflective and studies the crime and reasoning behind it well. The dynamic between the detectives shift – initially Freeman is cold shouldering his colleague (I think mostly due to impending retirement) but he begins to warm to Pitt with the case developing.

What is it about Kevin Spacey that he is so well capable to play such derange characters? It is creepy. He is creepy. So calm with an underlying menace. Madness coated in quiet demeanor. That flat of his. His belief in his work. A subtle creep. Sheesh.

How intense was the ending?! Edge of your seat business. John Doe concocted everything to make his plan infallible. I was horrified and entertained, because sheesh, what a nail biter.

Serial killers always have this dark glamour about them. It is wrong, but I have been interested in their mind games for years now – how they justify, what motivates them and how carefully they pick their victims. Seven is a film that follows one such killer in his demented ways in the best method I’ve ever seen. The film is backed by solid performances, directing, score and story to bring a thriller that will remain with you well after the end.

If you are looking for a film that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, Seven is definitely NOT for you. It is scary and gross and relentless and keeps you nailed to your seat, but come prepared because scary man. Scary.

 

Blindspot review: Aliens (1986)

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Plot: The moon from Alien (1979) has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough?

Rating: 8.5/10

Ellen Ripley has been floating through space for 57 years after fighting off the Alien and destroying the USCSS Nostromo. When she awakes she is interrogated, the Corporation being as sceptic about her claims about the monstrous alien as they are angry that she destroyed their ship. She is released of her duties, and starts to do some menial tasks around the spaceship (I assume until she can return home as a really young looking grandma). However, when contact is lost with the exomoon where the Alien so nicely attacked Riply, the Corporation quickly forget that they mistreated her and want her to travel to the moon with a bunch of super strong marines and go see what is cracking. Ripley knows exactly what they are about to face – but can she convince her crew and get out alive again?

What I loved about this film:

Ellen Ripley – eeek!! She’s so badass and ready to deal with an Alien once again. She’s capable and smart and knows how to handle herself, despite being a bit shaken up by her previous trip. She’s the ultimate girl power and Sigourney Weaver couldn’t help but rock the hell out of that role.

The cat stayed at home – I was way too worried about that damn cat in the first film.

Burke (Paul Reiser) was such an ass. He seemed WAY too nice at the start of the film, way too friendly and accommodating, and I suspected his sorry ass from the start. What he did to Newt and Ripley was terrible, and eventually revealed himself to be a power hungry fool.

I really liked Bishop (Lance Henriksen) – I understand why Ripley didn’t trust him one bit after her encounter with Ash but he at least seemed capable of dealing with drama and proving Ripley wrong.

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Replacing the cat as the-thing-Ripley-needs-to-save is Newt (Carrie Henn), the young little girl who managed to keep herself alive while the aliens killed her entire colony. I liked Newt, she was sweet and not nearly as annoying as I thought she would turn out.

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Hicks (Michael Biehn) was a great character. He had sense and leadership and a dash of badass and it was appealing. I was glad that he also got off the moon – thank GOODNESS.

The pace of the movie is relentless. So much intensity passes in the (astronomically long, TBH), running time. It’s attack after attack and similarly to Alien, just when you think the Aliens are GONE, there is yet another one that pitches. It would have been annoying if it wasn’t so well directed and the aliens weren’t so imposing, and the final fight between Ripley and the Alien queen was great. I loved Ripley’s line and her subsequent killing of the queen – it reminds me SO MUCH of what Molly yells at Bellatrix before she kills her in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Is there something I didn’t like? Well, I really thought the running time was way too long – it is a James Cameron film, and we all know he can go on and on if you let him. I rarely have the patience to sit down for so long – I’m fully convinced that I have adult-developed ADHD (as improbable as it sounds). I managed to get through this because it is good – but my goodness, it was long.

Private Vasquez  (Jenette Goldstein) was embarrassingly stereotyped – she was so butch and overly foreign (I don’t even know what they were aiming for). It could have been a more subtler approach, but hey, it was 1986, so I guess I shouldn’t expect too much. It was nice to have another ass kicking female on board though, not some screechy pain in the ass like in the first film.

Aliens was obviously a fantastic film and avoided being a failure of a sequel. Despite sitting away two and a half hours of your life on this, you will probably really end up enjoying it as I did.

Watched, Read, Loved: October 2016

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October was by far the slowest month in my year in entertainment. I’m really hopeful that this is the last semester where I will ever have to write a BSc Theoretical exam, so I’ve spent every moment that I wasn’t at work in front of a book. I really hope it will pay off – my heart won’t be able to handle the trauma of failing a subject. So it has been quiet on the entertainment front and even the blog front, but I’ve managed to include see and read some things here and there though, so here is a quick rundown J

Watched:

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Bourne Supremacy

I really hope I wrote a proper review on this, because I can barely recall the film now. I know it was fast paced and good and very Bourne, and I guess that is what counts.

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10 Cloverfield Lane

I LOVED this. The review should be up some time this week, and I am totally with the crowd on this one. It was a phenomenal performance from all three main characters, and they were able to create maddening suspense throughout.

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New Year’s Eve (2011)

I was quite obsessed with this film (to get to see it), and it was so meh. It was probably one of the last films Gary Marshall ever produced, and I hoped it would be something similar to Valentine’s Day. In all essence it was but lacked the heart.

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You Again (2010)

I enjoyed this on the most basic level. It had a pretty good message that bullying stays with you forever and it was nice to watch such a light movie where romance wasn’t the core of the plot.

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The Choice (2016)

I have this game with Nicholas Sparks movies where I HAVE to watch it despite knowing it will probably end up being super crap. But The Choice is one of the better ones, certainly better than the awful Best of Me, and I has a somewhat of a decent time with it.

Read:

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The Woman Who Stole My Life (Marian Keyes)

I finally finished TWWSTM. It was gigantic, and maybe 50 pages too long and then ended up with a rough ending, but this is the least bizarre book I’ve read from Keyes in a while.

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Definitely Dead / All Together Dead / From Dead to Worse

Exam brain wants me back on books where I need no brain power, and I’ve been reading some of the Southern Vampire Mysteries again. I’ve actually been having a really good time with this non-Pulitzer material.

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New Moon (Stephanie Meyer)

I’m slowly making my way through these books. Bella is a joy to behold in this particular novel, let me tell you. I always have fun with this – part enjoyment; part scoffing, and it has been the perfect read throughout exam time.

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I am Number Four (Pittacus Lore)

This book is SO good. It is obviously a book that was written at the beginning of the dystopic craze; because the ideas are original and GOOD, and things are named intelligently (the naming conventions in other dystopian novels are quite ridiculous). I need to finish this still, but it is going well.

On a Life front, those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I got myself a new car. It really wasn’t an option as I was in a car accident that wrote my little Suzuki Alto off. To say I was upset was an understatement, and it was pretty stressful sorting it out. I have to say my insurers were absolutely fantastic, and I will (and have) recommended them to anybody. However, it was the first car I’d ever owned, and I was so heart sore about the entire process.

It feels like a lot of things have happened the last month. I’ve had a dear friend in hospital, I’ve been in an accident, there was a break-in at my sister’s boyfriend’s house and another friend of mine got attacked and robbed at gunpoint.  So it’s been quite hectic. I’m in need of a Bilbo Baggins holiday to say the LEAST. Oh, I also went to a bachelorettes that was quite wild, and let me tell you, I was shocked at some of the actions there. I’ve been to a significant amount of wild parties in my young life, so when I am shocked, I am S.H.O.C.K.E.D. It feels like I need a peaceful December without any drama. I am on leave for two weeks at the end of December (hear me sobbing in gratitude), and I am so happy that I will get to a place where I don’t need to start functioning at 4:30 am. It will be great.

Anyway, what’s news on your side?

PS: Let’s not even talk about my Blindspot progress. It’s worse than the state of the American election right now.

PPS: I can’t wait until Hillary wins JUST so that Donald can shut TF up.

Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

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Rating: 8/10

I’m guessing that most posts you’ve had your eyes on tells you that you need to go in blind where 10 Cloverfield Lane is concerned. Because I’m feeling all noble I will tell you that it would be a great disservice to yourself and the quality of the film to spoil it beforehand. I went in blind, and it was the best possible way to go into this. The best I can give you in terms of plot is there a woman who is in an accident and when she awakes she is told by the owner of the bunker she’s in that there has been an attack and she won’t survive outside. Is it for real? Can Michelle live in peace with Howard (John Goodman) and Ben (John Gallagher)?

Things I really liked about this film:

The atmosphere is so tense. John Goodman gives an incredible performance as Howard. The man is so strange, and despite evidence showing you that there are some truths behind his increasingly wild conspiracies, you can never be sure about his intentions.

John Gallagher as Ben – I really liked Ben. He was certainly awkward and provided some chuckles – but it was that an awkward and uncomfortable chuckling. I also enjoyed the development he had – the blind faith in Howard and how it started wavering.

Female lead – I enjoyed her sooo much. I have to say, the couple of thriller/horrors I’ve seen have all had great female leads in, and that makes me supper happy because I really can’t deal with tears and hysteria. Get up and kick some ass!

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The end – like WTF hahaha. I did not expect that. It was like “Oh, this is done” and then it was like OH HELL NO, THIS IS SO NOT DONE.

Will there be a real sequel? I hope so. The film and characters deserve it. I would definitely go see it.

Movie Review: The Guest (2014)

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Plot: A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence

Rating: 9/10

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The Guest is a slice of utter perfection that came to us in life. I went in without any idea what to expect, having only read spoiler free reviews. It makes the best type of viewing, really. The insanely high ratings are well deserved and this thriller is perfectly put together. The chemistry and sexual tension between Dan Stevens and Maika Monroe… what the fuck. It was such a strong presence and present all the time. Dan Stevens. Those eyes.The body.The attitude.The acting.The bathroom scene. Have I mentioned the eyes? The focus on the male character’s appeal rather than the female’s.THE CHEMISTRY.

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Okay, now that the Dan Stevens perve is out of the way, let’s get back to the other aspects that worked: The storyline of a grieving American family still crippled by loss is a valid topic in our current world. It makes so much sense for them to immediately accept a friend of their deceased son into the family house without too much questioning. Dan Stevens delivers a perfect portrayal of a young army soldier – he’s all manners and politeness and kindness with a mix of loss that makes you want to accept him immediately. He offers the family assistance in every way, he gives advice to the youngest son Luke (Brendan Meyer) who is being badly bullied by other children, assists mom (Sheila Kelly) with things dad (Leland Orsor) is too busy for, listen to dad’s problems – it is clear that while they lost a family member, the family is still flooded with daily problems while coping with their loss. The only suspicious family member is Anna (Maika Monroe), perhaps because she is at a suspicious age and not as easily fooled as her younger brother or parents. Her observant nature alerts her that everything is not quite well (not a spoiler – this is in all the synopsis/trailers out there) even while she finds him more and more compelling.

Maika Monroe in The Guest

Maika Monroe..great stuff. I love her gruff and sulky attitude and how her personal style fits so well into it. She has so much sense in here, and I cannot say how much I loved that they kept the integrity of her character intact. She was sleeping in the room next to an insanely attractive and interesting man who she clearly had intense chemistry with but she still stayed loyal to the man she was dating. YAY for finally putting a pretty, sexy, sharp girl on screen that doesn’t just bang the newest hot guy. THANKS TO THE GUEST WRITERS FOR THIS.

I'm just enjoying putting pictures of him all over this post
I’m just enjoying putting pictures of him all over this post

The blood and gore was on a level that worked – it wasn’t senseless and was well executed.  The action scenes are flawlessly executed and not drawn out. The film is shot very well in a delightfully clear style and the sound track complements the story and the sequence of events escalates clearly. I loved the décor and subliminal messaging and especially the theming around the last few scenes. My only issue was that David Collins’ life wasn’t really explained in detail and that part felt slightly rushed. I might have missed this, but is it ever really explained why David truly arrived at the Peterson family? If it was, I missed that part.

This movie severely disrupts my top ten for last year and I will have to review it dramatically. The Guest is everything entertainment should be: thrilling, dramatic, sexy and entertaining as hell.

This pic... is.. everything
This pic… is.. everything