Film Review: The Old Guard (2020)

Give me diverse superheroes, she begged; give me gay superheroes, she pleaded. AND THE OLD GUARD DELIVERED ‘EM IN SPADES. AW, YUUUUUUUUUS. Firstly, what a cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo and Chiwetel Ejiofor. So you already know it’s going to be amazing. AND IT IS.

I didn’t have much context for The Old Guard before starting it. I only found out it was based on a graphic novel when the credits rolled. So that’s really cool. I’m definitely curious about the novel now. But the film is top notch.

The Old Guard is about four ‘immortals’ who, largely, can’t be killed. But there’s a limit to it. At some point, their time is up. But the years have left them jaded and lonely. Their families have long passed and they can’t get close to anyone outside of their group because it always ends in bitterness and tears and blame. Amongst the group are Andromache of Scythia, nicknamed Andy, centuries old and hardened with cynicism; Sebastian Le Livre, known as Booker, who once served under Napoleon; Yusuf Al-Kaysani, known as Joe, who served in the Crusades; and Niccolò di Genova, known as Nicky, an Italian Crusader from the same time. Joe and Nicky were enemies during the Crusades but are now partners and their romance is the absolute best. Let me just share this with ye:

He’s not my boyfriend. This man is more to me than you can dream. He’s the moon when I’m lost in darkness and warmth when I shiver in cold and his kiss still thrills me, even after a millennia. His heart overflows with the kindness of which this world is not worthy of. I love this man beyond measure and reason. He’s not my boyfriend. He’s all and he’s more.

(Watch the scene here.)

Give me a movie of just Joe and Nicky, please and thank you! Joe and Nicky talking about how they met in the Crusades was great and we need more of them. Perfect, fabulous super boyfriends. A+ ADDITION TO THE GENRE, LADS.

After Andy, Booker, Joe and Nicky are set up, they take up a revenge mission against Copley, the man who betrayed them. Halfway there, however, they share a dream about Nile, a Marine who’s just like them. Not wanting to abandon one of their own, Andy goes for Nile while the other three head on to find Copley and his benefactor.

So much about this movie hit me harder than I expected. It isn’t a happy superhero film by any means. The focus is heavy on the price of immortality and all the downsides. Booker’s backstory was especially sad and I really felt for him. I’m also interested in more on the relationship between Andy and Quynh, so I’m desperate for a second film where that’s explored. Quynh is an immortal from before the events of the movie, so you only get snippets of where she went and why, and I want more! That whole storyline messed me up. Honestly, every character was fascinating and there isn’t a moment of the film where you’re not desperate to find out more.

For anyone else who’s been waiting years for an inclusive superhero film, get on this one asap!

Film Review: Krampus (2015)

I love comedy-horror and for some reason, in the middle of July, I decided to watch Krampus. At eight am, on a Sunday morning. Because sure, why ever not?

Krampus follows the Engel family on Christmas Eve when their relatives come over for holiday dinner. (The rudeness of the guests sparked a long discussion with my partner about how silly it is to subject yourself to a rotten holiday, but I digress.) My heart broke for little Max, who desperately wants to believe in Santa Claus and who writes a letter to the North Pole, wishing for good things for his family. His cousins find the letter and ridicule him at the dinner table. That no one stepped in really, really annoyed me. Only his sister came to his aid.

Terribly upset, Max rips up his letter to Santa and throws it out the window. Cue the dark and stormy night~

The next morning, a blizzard has struck the neighbourhood, the electricity is out and everyone’s trapped inside. When Beth, Max’s older sister, goes out to check on her boyfriend, the horror really sets in. And so begins a gruesome Christmas where the family must work together to survive Krampus and his gingerbread men and deadly demon toys. The gingerbread men were definitely a highlight! Think Shrek but make it Chucky.

The casting of this one was absolutely on point. Adam Scott and Toni Collette lead the film and are as wonderful as always. I feel like Adam Scott should do more horror-comedy. (He was great in Little Evil, too!) Emjay Anthony did a brilliant job as young Max, and Allison Tolman and David Koechner made a great duo even if the characters could be frustrating.

If you love comedy-horror, definitely check this one out! Although it’s probably better not to watch it on Christmas 😉

Film Review: What If (2013)

I’m very picky when it comes to romantic comedies. I often feel like, if the main characters had a very simple conversation (or simply broke up), their lives would be much easier. But there are a few with wonderfully charming storylines and incredibly likeable characters. What If (aka The F Word) is one of them.

Set (and filmed on location) in Toronto, What If follows Wallace after his girlfriend cheats on him and he breaks up with her and drops out of med school. One night at a party, he meets Chantry and they have great chats and end up walking each other home. As they’re parting, Chantry tells him that she’s got a boyfriend. Disappointed, Wallace decides not to hang out with her again. A few nights later, however, they meet at a showing for The Princess Bride and decide to become friends properly. Chantry’s also cousins with Wallace’s best friend Allan, who’s embarking in a new, wild relationship with carefree Nicole. They’re a seriously charming secondary couple and are one of the highlights of a very funny movie! There’s a lot of improvising of lines so the jokes come naturally and don’t feel like they’re just there for cheap laughs.

Problems arise when Chantry introduces Wallace to her boyfriend Ben, who immediately assumes Wallace is trying to sleep with her leading to a wild night that puts Ben in hospital. (No, there’s no fist fight; yes, it’s hilarious, but I won’t spoil you!) Shortly thereafter, Ben moves to Dublin for work (also filmed on location!), leaving Chantry feeling lonely and needing a distraction from her heartache. She spends more and more time with Wallace, Allan and Nicole, but as Allan and Nicole’s relationship progresses, so do things between Wallace and Chantry as the feelings on both sides become complicated by a deep friendship neither wants to lose.

I really adore this movie. Daniel Radcliffe is at his comedy best, but Adam Driver is a true gem! Zoe Kazan and Mackenzie Davis are so great as well. Honestly, the central four are just perfectly cast. The one-liners are brilliant and the comedy isn’t tired. It’s a very, very refreshing romantic comedy and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Film Review: Isoken (2017)

I honestly think one of the best aspects of Netflix is being able to see films from other countries that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. It’s led me to Indian, Korean, Italian, Spanish, French, German (etc) films and shows that are just so wonderful but have never been widely available in the country I’m in until Netflix made it so. (Yay Netflix!)

Today I watched a wonderful Nigerian film, Isoken, and now I’m going to be digging through all the offerings to see what other Nigerian films are on offer in my region! This one was great! It follows 34 year old Isoken in her search for love and meaning in her life whilst everyone around her is trying to push her towards marriage. She meets two men at the same time: one seemingly the perfect marriage candidate, yet the other one increasingly draws her attention.

If you’re looking for a sweet, uplifting movie about love, I definitely recommend this one!

The Joys of Horror Comedy

I feel like a genre there isn’t enough of is horror-comedy. And there are some winners out there! I watched three delightful ones today: Extra Ordinary (2019), Little Evil (2017) and Beetlejuice (1988). And I can wholeheartedly recommend them all!

Extra Ordinary follows a driving instructor with a Talent for the supernatural who gets roped into helping a man rid his house of his wife’s spirit. The spirit will go so far as to dictate what shirt he can and can’t wear, how much toast he should eat, or where the plates need to go into the dishwasher. Honestly, it’s hilarious.

Little Evil is about a man with a stepson who takes pranks to an extra level – to the point where the father starts to wonder if he’s actually evil. The opening scene is the wife having to dig her husband out of the ground because the stepson buried him. Adam Scott is honestly a gem in this! I laughed so much.

Beetlejuice is a classic Tim Burton! I remember, vaguely, seeing it as a child, but I couldn’t remember anything about it other than Winona Ryder was in it. I totally forget it had Alec Baldwin! It also has Catherine O’Hara and watching it so soon after finishing Schitt’s Creek gave me the giggles. She’s a star!

Anyone else love horror-comedy? I’d love some recommendations!

Film Review: Mudbound (2017)

Mudbound is an intense historical film set in the deep south of the United States after WWII. The central characters are members of two families, the McAllens and the Jacksons. It’s also based on a book.

The opening scene is very striking. It begins with Henry and Jamie, two brothers in Mississippi digging a grave for their father. They realise it’s a slave’s grave halfway through, but a storm presses them on even as Henry protests. Jamie, who doesn’t care, continues. The rain worsens and Jamie gets stuck in the grave and begins to panic, screaming for his brother. It’s very clear from the get go that Jamie suffers from PTSD. Henry returns and pulls his brother out, with Jamie, hysterical, telling him he thought Henry would leave. To which Henry promises that he’d never do that, they’re brothers. It’s a moment that really underscores the relationship between the two. The fear, the doubt, the love that binds them together.

The scene then shifts to the following morning and the brothers are joined by Henry’s wife Laura and the children, but between them, the brothers can’t carry their father’s coffin alone, and Henry flags down a family leaving the property. Henry asks them to help, but Hap, the head of the family, doesn’t speak. Beside him, his wife Florence looks furious. Bearing in mind that this is the Jim Crow South in the 1940s, and the family are African American, the immediate tension between the two families hints at something terrible.

The film then goes back to 1939, where Henry’s wife Laura begins telling the story of how the family came to the Mississippi farm, her relationship with the brothers, and the arrival of their virulently racist father, Pappy. (He’s the worst. The worrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrst.)

From there, the perspective shifts to Hap’s family, and the dynamics between the McAllens and the Jacksons is striking. Where the McAllens are tense and bicker a lot amongst themselves, all unhappy in their own way, the Jacksons are close and loving, working together despite how horribly their neighbours and society treats them. Hap’s son Ronsel is heading off to fight on the frontlines of WWII and the family are saving up to buy property of their own. There’s a sense of hope.

When he returns from WWII, however, Ronsel is disappointed with what he finds. Abroad, he had a relationship and he was treated as a hero. Back home, he finds that nothing in Mississippi has changed. What’s more, the arrival of the McAllens make the Jacksons worry, and tensions begin to mount when Pappy’s racism drives a wedge between the families.

Shortly there after, Jamie, also a WWII vet, moves in with the rest of his family. He quickly bonds with Ronsel, and both reminisce about how different things were abroad whilst struggling to cope their with PTSD and the racism of the society they find themselves in. Their growing friendship is judged problematic by bigots, and whenever Ronsel and Jamie spend time together, Ronsel is forced to hide from passing cars in case someone sees Jamie giving him a lift. It’s utterly heartbreaking and the sense of injustice carries throughout the film. Eventually, the tensions come to a head between the families, and things go from bad to worse.

Do be aware that Mudbound is really difficult to watch in places, very gritty, and there are numerous racist characters. Ronsel and Jamie were by far my favourite characters, but I adored Hap and Florence, too. Laura was a tough one, but I did really sympathise with her. Above all, this film is an important addition to historical movies and features a wonderful cast. The acting is top notch, the cinematography is gorgeous and the directing is fantastic. I definitely recommend watching it.

3 Mini Film Reviews

Reality Bites [2003 | indie, romance, drama] This quiet, understated indie movie is one I wish I’d watched sooner! It stars Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stiller and Ethan Hawke. I was really surprised I’d never seen it before! The film follows a group of friends after they graduate from college (or don’t, in some cases) and try to figure out their lives in the adult world. Main character Lelaina moves in with her best friend Vickie, and then their two friends Troy and Sammy also move in. Lelaina works on a television show writing notes for a misogynistic boss that she barely tolerates, Vickie gets a job in sales, and for a while they manage to make it work. On the side, Lelaina is filming her documentary on the side, capturing more quiet, intimate moments of the group and their arrival into adulthood. After Lelaina tosses her cigarette into Michael’s (Ben Stiller) car and causes him to crash, the pair begin to date, much to Troy’s displeasure.

I was surprised to learn that Ben Stiller directed this one! I had no idea! I’m surprised it took me so long, because I adore the cast and have always liked Ben Stiller’s and Winona Ryder’s movies. If you like romantic indie movies à la Before Sunrise, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or 10 Things I Hate About You, give this a go!

Lady Bird [2017| drama, indie, coming of age] This film follows a young girl getting ready for college and her struggling relationship with her mother. It’s set in Sacramento where Lady Bird, the main girl, is about to graduate from her strict Catholic high school and is dealing with the complicated road ahead of her. Her mother wants her to stay in California, she wants to go to New York. She’s at odds with her mother’s standards and views, but it’s clear that they love each other. Every time they fight, they make up. The dramatics are contrasted by the sweet moments, and I’d say it’s more of a mother-daughter movie than a romance, although there is a love interest in the form of Kyle (Timothée Chalamet).

I really loved Lady Bird (real name Christine) as a character. Saoirse Ronan is a wonderful actress and was at her absolute best in this role. I love the dynamics between Lady Bird and her mother, and Lady Bird and her father, as well as her friendship with Julie. It’s a touching independent movie and has that ‘real feel’ to it.

Accepted [2006 | comedy, new adult] is one of my favourite silly comedies. It stars Justin Long, Columbus Short, Maria Thayer, Blake Lively and Jonah Hill. The movie centres upon Bartleby Gaines after he’s rejected from every college he applies to. In a desperate attempt to get his father off his back, Bartleby fakes a college acceptance letter and website with the help of his friends who also struggled to get into school. The website accidentally accepts everyone who tries to apply, however, and dozens of kids show up on the ‘first day of school’. Once he realises how much it means to everyone there, Bartleby decides to continue with it and very soon the students are running the asylum-turned-faux-college. It’s not a particularly plausible movie, but I really do adore the lightness of it. The movie has a good message about being true to yourself and the main characters are all likeable. If you’re looking for something feel good and fun, I totally recommend this one!

What’s everyone else watching this week?

Films, Poems and Currently Reading Roundup and Review Post [02/06]

JONAS (2018) | lgbt+, french, drama

Jonas [aka I Am Jonas] is a gut-punching, haunting addition to lgbt+ films. The film follows the eponymous main character Jonas after he’s arrested on night out at a club, Boys. One of the police officers knows him from school and they reminisce for a little while in the back of the car. The film then begins flashing from the past to the present and we learn how Jonas ended up so angry and adrift. We see Jonas as a teenager meeting Nathan, a new boy in school. They quickly fall in love and, despite homophobic peers, start a relationship that’s kind, sweet and supported by Nathan’s mother, who also welcomes Jonas into her home.

Back in the present, Jonas follows a man around the city, keeping his distance until he goes into a hotel where the man works. They talk a little. The man doesn’t know him, but it’s clear Jonas knows the man. After setting off the smoke alarm in his room and getting kicked out, the pair start to talk in the lobby. When Jonas is invited to go drinking, he accepts, and we slowly start to learn more.

The story moves along with slow determination. There’s clearly some mystery to be unfolded. This is definitely a heavy kind of drama. Prepare for tears. I do recommend it, though. Félix Maritaud is an incredible actor and I really want to see him in more films! A very well done film over all.

Mr. Right (2015) | action, comedy, romance

Okay, I honestly really liked this one. It’s silly and over the top and implausible and ridiculously good fun, and it is totally worth a watch! The movie follows Martha (played by Anna Kendrick), a risk-seeking woman who’s allergic to good advice and wise decisions, and Francis (played by Sam Rockwell), a notorious killer for hire, apparently (?) and former spy, allegedly (?). Basically, you’re not sure what’s up with Francis for most of the movie, or whether he’s good or bad, but he’s clearly had a lot of training and is good at dancing and has enemies coming out of his ears. Oh, and he wears a clown nose. You’re just not told why for a good bit. You only know that he’s kind to Martha and completely honest with her. (She thinks he’s joking when he talks about his job and how he got his scar.)

I think what I liked so much about this one was how honest and straight to the point all the characters were. There was no side-stepping around topics or slow, predictable build up. It’s kind of like when you’re watching a movie about someone first learning about magic and they keep denying it and you’re like, c’mon, just believe in it already. This movie isn’t fantasy, it’s action, but it’s great that the characters just jump straight to the point.

Martha and Francis are clearly made for each other (and clearly on a frequency that no one in their lives finds normal), but they suit each other. And their chemistry is fantastic. If you like fun, romance and action, I recommend giving this one a shot!

POEMS POEMS POEMS (/◕ヮ◕)/ Seriously, why don’t I read poetry more often? I’ve read so many poems this weekend and I have missed poetry. *chef’s kiss* These poems are all from Uncanny Magazine Issue 21.

‘Found Discarded: A Love Poem, Questionably Addressed’ by Cassandra Khaw was absolutely breath-taking.

The Greeks believed
that a human being
is one entity unseamed at the spine,
opened at the breastbone, parted at
the lips, which is why we spend all our lives pressing
together at the hips, at the fingertips

RIGHT?! How lush. I’m in awe. Read it here.

‘The Fairies in the Crawlspace’ by Beth Cato is so dark and twisted and really, really well done. If you like Grimm’s faerie tales, this one is for you.

the fairies needed no web
to snare the girl

Read it here.

די ירושה by Sonya Taaffe is short and poignant. I really liked it!

History drops a hot potato in your hands,
tells you to walk uphill with it, both ways.

Read it here.

I also quite liked ‘The Sea Never Says It Loves You’ by Fran Wilde. Poems about the sea are some of my favourites.

But the water is warm and the salt spray tastes your lips
And you say yes.

Read it here.

I hope everyone has a lovely week. Stay safe out there, my friends.

Film Review: The Lovebirds (2020)

Oh my gosh, The Lovebirds is so funny. I haven’t laughed so hard at a film in a long time. It’s a simple enough story, following Jibran (played by Kumail Nanjiani) and Leilani (played by Issa Rae), a couple on the verge of breaking up. They can’t agree on anything and are fighting all the time. When a man takes their car, claiming to be a cop, he kills a biker and flees the scene, leaving Jibran and Leilani at the scene of the crime. A random pair tries to perform a citizens’ arrest, and fearing that they’ll be blamed, Jibran and Leilani also flee the scene.

The plot is simple enough, it’s just them trying to figure out what happened and getting into increasingly complicated and hilarious scenes. Anna Camp’s cameo was so funny. I’ve really missed her on my screen (True Blood shout out!), and she brought the comedy as ever. I have to say, though, Kumail Nanjiani definitely stole the show. I was laughing so hard at his jokes that I almost got a headache. I’m definitely going to be looking for more of his movies! SO. BLOODY. FUNNY. I’ve just learned he’s going to be in The Eternals with Richard Madden, who’s one of my favourite actors. COUNT. ME. IN.

It’s a fast paced comedy movie that’s a perfect escape for those in the mood for something light!

Film Review: Tomb Raider (2018)

movie review

love the Tomb Raider remake. I adored the Angelina Jolie ones back in the day and was quite attached to them, but I think the new version is probably my favourite. And Alicia Vikander is such perfect casting!

The film reboots the franchise and follows Lara who has spent years refusing to believe her missing father, played by Dominic West, to be dead. She works as a bike courier and has no interest in taking over his estate, but she’s finally convinced to return to her childhood home and, in her father’s would-be tomb, she finds his old files. Her father’s left her a message instructing her to destroy his research, but instead she delves deeper into the mystery of his disappearance. She follows his research to Hong Kong and seeks out the son of a man who helped her father, Lu Ren, played by Daniel Wu. Lu Ren’s father also went missing and he agrees to help her.

The pair take a boat to distant island called Yamatai. There they encounter Mathias Vogel, who’s following the same clues as Lara’s father, hoping to find the long lost tomb of Himiko. Vogel is funded by a secret organisation who are holding him hostage, and in turn he takes Lara and Lu Ren hostage. Managing to escape, Lara finds herself in one dangerous situation after another, and unearths the secrets she’s been seeking her whole life.

Lara and Lu Ren were definitely my favourites, but I loved Vogel’s casting. He’s a good villain, and Walton Goggins plays him perfectly. WALTON GOGGINS FOR ALL THE ROLES ALWAYS. (Seriously, he’s brilliant.) Dominic West is great, too. Kristin Scott Thomas also has a background role! The casting for this film is just perfect.

My favourite things other than the casting: the action scenes are so badass (!!!); the lack of a stupid romance that makes no sense; the scenery and camera work are brilliant; and the backstory and legends and clue-hunting. As a child raised on Indiana Jones, this is just fantastic! Watching it feels very immersive and honestly so much like a video game, but in a really good way. It’s edge-of-your-seat intensity from start to finish and I can’t wait for the sequel, which I think is coming out next year. Can’t wait!

Recommended for fans of Indiana Jones, for sure, but also just general action lovers. Alicia Vikander is wonderful from start to finish!

**gifs found online, not mine