Review: Apostle (2018)

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“These people, they’re blasphemers, a cult, a disease.”
– Charles

SYNOPSIS: In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island. – via IMDB

Alrighty, so there have been a lot of horror movies for me to be checking out recently because it is the month of October, and I will not let that go to waste, as I am always looking for a horror. When my husband and I saw the trailer for this on Netflix, we were intrigued. It looked vicious and dark and nasty and (for me at least) there was Dan Stevens, and yes, that was a super seller for me.

We popped this on and immediately went into this weird and twisted little story. The movie is pretty damn good, but not without flaws. There are a lot of things I would have loved to have fleshed out more, such as Thomas Richardson’s faith and the breaking of it, as well as Prophet Malcolm’s family life, the building of the village, etc. We don’t get those things, but we get other things. For one, the violence and brutality displayed in Apostle really is intense. It starts slowly enough, and it might not feature in every second of the movie, but when it is presented, it is crazy. I swear, when we got the violence and crazy, I was literally yelling about that asshat Quinn and all the evils I desperately hoped would befall him. What a cruel, wicked man.

Apostle fluctuated between going really fast and drawing you in, and then slowly delivering on other things. For the most part, this worked. I also liked the atmosphere that the movie builds, but do feel that the score wasn’t always worked in tandem with the movie. That being said, their is a constantly feeling of dread, which starts low key but relentlessly builds throughout the run time, and I loved that. I am always really big on the atmosphere on a movie. I prefer a scary atmosphere way more than I prefer a monster. I also liked that Apostle’s story is different from what we usually get in the horror genre. Aside from all that, Apostle is also really beautiful to look at, what with the scenery and the sets. Very cool.

I have never watched The Raid movies (I know, I know, maybe one day), so I had no point of reference for what to expect from Gareth Evans. Maybe that worked in my favour, maybe not, I have no idea. I enjoyed Apostle, though there are flaws. I enjoyed watching Stevens, as always, and thought that there were plenty visuals that were fantastic in here (particularly looking at that immensely merciless branding). The violence and brutality in this were pretty harsh, but worked hand in hand with the film. While there were many aspects that could have been explored to make this resonate more, the fact that they weren’t does not ruin Apostle, but does limit it from being a truly great movie.

Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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“My dear Belle, you’re so ahead of your time. This is a small village, and it’s small-minded, as well. But small also means safe.”
– Maurice

SYNOPSIS: An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love. – via IMDB

So I went to see this with Natasha when I did my fly by visit this past weekend. She has been waiting for this movie for the longest time, so I figured I may as well go with her, otherwise I will never get to it, despite it touting both Luke Evans and Dan Stevens in the cast (I am speaking from a totally scientific point of view here). Anyway, we tripped out for this in 3D (which I probably could have done without), and I had more fun than expected. I have not seen this since I was a child, so it definitely brought on a sense of nostalgia. There were some changes and additions, but it wasn’t bad.

First and foremost, I think that Luke Evans is the perfect pick to play Gaston. Seriously, he has immense amounts of fun with the role, and you can see it. My favourite part of the movie? Gaston’s song and dance in the pub. Oh my gosh, I laughed, it was so ridiculous and fantastic. He also perfectly captured how a person can be so hot and then open their mouth and ultimately that nasty ass ego and all will ruin the outside, too. Dan Stevens is a pretty damn good Beast, though it is such a pity you don’t get to see all his purdy throughout the film. However, he worked well and delivered quite a good Beast, and I appreciated that. Ian McKellan and Ewan McGregor had a blast as Cogsworth and Lumière , and I enjoyed them. I think, for the most part, the cast was very good. Except maybe Emma Watson. I really don’t like the girl and I don’t think she can act, so she grated on me a bit, but less than expected.

I had quite the issue with the rendition of Beauty and the Best Tale as Old as Time. Seriously – the song is iconic, everybody knows it, and yet it is such a cold, lacklustre, horrendous rendition in the movie. So bad I actually cringed. Sorry Emma Thompson, but that sucked completely. Meh. Also, some of the animation was substandard – so much of it was pretty good, meaning the few times (Mrs Potts and her son Chip especially) when you see the bits that weren’t so great, it is glaringly bad.

I understand that there was some controversy surrounding a gay character, which I just don’t get. I didn’t find it jarring in the very least. In fact, said character provided quite a bit of entertainment. Oh yes, while we are at it, let’s not forget to mention how this movie went out of its way in terms of inclusion – race, gender, sexuality, everything was pretty much covered here. At times came across as a bit forced. I don’t actually have too much else to say. There are issues, but it is also quite fun, so I think it might just be time to wrap up.

Beauty and the Beast is cheesy, amusing, nostalgic, and a touch messy at times, but it is carried by pretty good performances and is rather fun. Not something I can see myself watching again in a hurry, but I am pleased to say that it went better than expected, and is probably the best live action Disney rendition of an old classic I have yet seen (yeah, because I totally watch so many of them).

Downton Abbey: Season 1 (2010)

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donwton abbey series 1

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The costume design. It was sumptuous, stunning, suiting and perfect. I was very impressed.
  • Maggie Smith. There is no way that you can watch this show and not absolutely love Cousin Violet and her antics. She is so strongly opinionated, but technically has a heart of gold under that prickly facade.

downton abbey cousin violet what is a weekend

  • The cast is wonderful. I think they all bring something of worth to the table. Jim Carter as Charles Carson is great, Brandan Coyle as John Bates is just perfect, I love him, and I think he and Joanne Froggart as Anna Smith work wonders together. Siobhan Finneran’s Mrs Sarah O’Brien and Rob James-Collier’s Thomas Barrow are such wily snakes. They really get under my skin.
  • Dan Stevens. Because holy wowzers, he is freaking adorable and such a gentleman and a heart-stealer. Argh! Besides the fact that he plays Matthew Crawley so well, Matthew’s character itself is just so… perfect. Definitely not cut from the same cloth as his infinitely richer counterparts, he is a hard worker, smart, loyal, good looking and so down to Earth.
  • Lady Mary Crawley’s character growth. It really took me from totally hating her to just being irritable with her at the best of times. I no longer wanted to shoot her though.
  • The courtship between Lady Mary Crawley and Matthew. I mean, I am a little phased by the whole cousin thing, but at the end of it, and despite the fact that she was introduced as a super bitch and remains quite so throughout, her character grows quite a bit, and I found myself rooting for them to finally get over their issues and get together.
  • Watching Cousin Violet and Cousin Isobel together is worth every second of screen time. They just have no time or patience for one another, but go about it in such different way. Plus, how competitive are these two?
  • Sybil Crawley. Jessica Brown-Findlay captured her wonderfully, and this character is simply a favourite of mine. The way she helped Rose Leslie’s Gwen to find work, and how she is so free spirited and happy and pro-feminism is just great, and I am quite a fan of it. She is so independent, and I love the banter between her and Allen Leech’s chauffeur Tom Branson. He compliments her because he is also so different and political and he encourages her, but he looks out for her.
  • How the divide between the rich and the poor and the working class is illustrated here. The servants work themselves to the bone, and the rich don’t necessarily realise all the work that gets done, the effects it has, and how much they differ from the help. For instance, Mary is quite dismissive about positions within the house, though she becomes rather embarrassed when she realises how important they are to other people (looking here specifically at what went down with William when he was looking after the horse).
  • The humour. It is very sharp and very dry, I love it!

downton abbey season 1 branson and sybil

What I didn’t like:

  • I am not necessarily a fan of the way that time jumps, and months/years have passed, but the n arrative continues as though there has been no time lapse.
  • The relationship between Edith and Mary. I know it is there for the dramatic side of things and all that, but sheesh, how bitchy can you get with your sibling?!
  • The whole legal predicament – it is explained, but not as nicely and as smoothly as I would have liked, meaning I get the gist of it, but not too much the technicalities of it.
  • How totally self-centred Mary is, and how she spends far too much time listening to outside influences.
  • Thomas and Mrs O’Brien – two snakes if ever I saw them!

downton abbey season 1 mary and carson

Rating:
GRADE 8.5I watched this once up until season three, then fell out with it, and decided a few months back to rewatch this and actually finish it this time around. I was particularly in the mood for something British. Naturally this ticked all the boxes, and I popped it in.

I was drawn in from the very first episode, no kidding. I love a good drama, and for a period setting and story, this was lovely. There were laughs, there were hard times, there were great relationships, there was some insane scheming, and there was character growth.

Typical of a show/book with such a massive array of characters, I was worried that I would forget them all, or not know how they all fit in. This is a normal fear when bombarded with so many people, especially seeing as how they were all introduced in the first episode basically. Getting to know Downton was a wonderful experience, and I am a big fan of the cast. Maggie Smith is a scene-stealer, of course, and her character of Cousin Violet is just immensely wonderful. She is so underhanded, so wealthy, so out of touch with how the rest of the world works, you cannot help but laugh at her. I particularly enjoyed her quip about weekends, and the competition/rivalry between her and Isobel is so worth watching. It is hilarious, and everyone is aware of it, some humour it, mostly because getting awkward doesn’t help. They are both immensely strong willed women. I also like how she is not as cold as you think, and sometimes she does particularly sweet things, but she does’t like to draw too much attention to it (such as when she relented and allowed Bill Molesley to win the flower fair).

downton-abbey-season-1-gwen-gets-her-job

Then there is Matthew Crawley. I cannot lie and say I did not fall deeply in love with his character. He was more in tune with reality, solidly middle class, not dismissive like the rest of the Crawley clan, smart as a whip and simply gorgeous. He was just… different, and I liked that. Not to mention that I think Dan Stevens is absolutely super hot, and he was adorable here (just look at his relationship with Molesley after he realises how the food chain works). Jessica Brown-Findlay was another actress I was very happy to see. I think she is beautiful, and her character of Sybil is wonderful – strong-willed, cheeky, a feminist to the core, and helpful. She is also more genuine than the rest of the family seems to be, such a free spirit. I must admit, I loved watching her be all rebellious, and thought that her and Tom Branson were so sweet together.

Bates was another character I deeply admired. He was loyal and genuine and such an honest man, and he would not shift blame. When he started he was treated so badly, and it actually hurt to watch, but eventually commanded the respect of just about everyone, and that was great. Also, I liked how he had served with Lord Robert Crawley in the war, and everyone treats him terribly and dismissively and he was actually friends with Robert, and it changes things when the rest of the servants realise this. He doesn’t use connections/relations with people to get ahead, however, and will never take anyone down with him maliciously, no matter what. Thomas and Mrs O’Brien irritated me, they were such forces of evil! T

he distinct portrayal of how times are different and cultural mores and norms that have differed is something I thoroughly enjoy watching, too. Wow, there is so much going on in this show actually that I am not sure how to address it all. I don’t want to leave anything out, but there is just too much that is right with this! Obviously this means that if you have not yet watched this, you should rectify that immediately. 

downton abbey put that in your pipe and smoke it

Review: The Guest (2014)

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the guest poster1

“I’m a soldier, man. I like guns.”
– David

SYNOPSIS: 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. – via IMDB

the guest

Ryan and Eric were heavily propagating that I get to this movie. Relentlessly. I even dealt with dead-friendship threats, which was insane. Needless to say, we can all still be friends here… I think… right, Ryan?? Can we still be friends??

GRADE 9Wow. Just wow. I mean I know I read a lot of good reviews on this and all, but just wow. I was a huge fan of The Guest. Just about everything in this film worked on so many levels. Dan Stevens gave a simply phenomenal and chilling performance as David, which is so important to the movie that you can almost base it all on that. It is wonderful to watch him transform, how important his whole facade is, and how he handles the ever-changing situations around him.

I thought it highly amusing how Stevens was so intentionally sexualised in the film. I liked that for a change, for science, you know? Also, it just made his character so much creepier. It is not that this premise has never ever been heard of (though there was a pretty cool twist later), it’s just that it was handled incredibly well. The score is something my other half specifically commented on, something he never does, which is why I am mentioning it – to highlight how well it worked itself into the movie, and how important it was. It was so perfectly suited.

the guest hmmm

The Guest has great pacing, starting slowly, deliberately putting all the pieces into place, progressively becoming darker as the time of the film ticks along, and it draws you in. It is so tense, and you get so involved with what was happening. With a solid foundation of story, it really makes the third act that much more fascinating, entertaining and grand. I think this movie is a great mashup of horror meets thriller.

All the actors worked together really well and the movie was littered with performances that were an asset to the picture as a whole. Brendan Meyer excelled at the emo-shift of the hair and was a pitiable but smart character (except when it was important), and Maika Monroe impressed me quite a bit with her portrayal of Anna. The friendship/mentorship that came up between Luke and David was totally worth watching, too. Got a few smiles out of that one. While there are predictable moments, they are handled with style, making this an undeniably entertaining watch.

the guest more hmmmm

I wish I knew how to articulate how much I enjoyed this movie and why anyone should watch it! I loved how they managed to work in the Halloween aspect to this, but that it never became super important or overly-gimmicky, and that a lot of stupid crap was not shoehorned into this movie because why not? Wingard and Barrett nailed that deliberate cheese and the self-aware tongue-in-cheek moments, I must say. I enjoyed Broyles Major Carver dropping everything to rush and to check out the David situation, you know stuff is about to go down, and let me just tell you that you are massively rewarded for it. The Guest is bloody, violent, thrilling, and I love, love, love it. It is definitely going to get numerous repeat watches from me!