September Blind Spot Review: Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

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“The only way to find out what story you’re in is to determine what stories you’re not in.”
– Professor Jules Hilbert

SYNOPSIS: An I.R.S. auditor suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death. – via IMDB

I have always heard that Stranger Than Fiction is a solid movie and that Ferrell is excellent in it (this reason is always cited when I say I am not a huge Ferrell fan) and I have always said I will get to it at some stage and then I never do, which is how it ended up on y 2018 Blind Spot list. I needed to cross it off my list.

Right off, I didn’t know what to expect from this movie when I started it. Was it going to be one of Ferrell’s ridiculous movies, would it be different, what was going to come from it? Well, let me tell you, Ferrell rocked this one. Completely. It was a more contained performance than I am used to seeing from him, and the humour landed for me from him now more than ever. I feel he is sometimes just too OTT and not my cup of tea. I think the cast all worked well together in this to deliver a pretty good comedy drama, and I enjoyed it.

The pacing was good, and I was sold on seeing what, exactly, Harold’s life was all about, because it was super bland, doing the same thing day in and day out. Emma Thompson as writer and narrator fit the role perfectly, and it was entertaining to watch her whenever she was on screen. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s insistence on being a kind anarchist is sweet, too, and Ferrell’s lonely Harold is quite sad. Dustin Hoffman, too, as the weird and quirky writing expert is quite fun, and just to see how all the characters interact and pull together to change the initially drab story is a satisfying experience.

The humour is rather sharp and low key in this, not forceful or over the top or anything like that, and it just worked completely for the story being told. I liked how the story paced itself, never too slow to be boring, never too fast to be confusing. I found myself delighted with Stranger Than Fiction coming to life, as a reader and a moviegoer, there was plenty that worked so well.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Stranger Than Fiction, and I might very well check it out again someday. Ferrell did not irritate, and it had enough quirk to keep it fun and sweet but not grating or excessively cheesy and with a cast that worked well together, and I can highly recommend it.

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).

December Blind Spot Review: Love Actually (2003)

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“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
– Prime Minister

SYNOPSIS: Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5Initially this was supposed to work out as my February Blind Spot (that was an age ago, right?!), but then everything was so damn Christmassy in here I knew it was not going to work out for that. Seeing as I don’t usually do holiday themed posts, I thought I would hold Love Actually over for December. Long holdover! Anyway, Love Actually is that typical soppy romance (though not nearly as bad as some can be), but in the long run it is a pretty forgettable movie. I am saying this based on when watching it, I remembered having seen scenes, though not how they play out. Some of the stories and characters could certainly have used a little more development and time (for instance, I love Martin Freeman, but his story arc seemed to be squeezed in every now and again, as well as Kris Marshall’s escapades and decision to check out the States). The performances all round were pretty good, and it was an impressive cast to pull together for this one. Had a good few giggles at Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy was a nightmare but also someone to laugh at, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster was just too damn adorable for words. I was very happy that I did not have to watch Keira Knightley for any length of time, I really don’t like her, and I really thought the whole thing going on between Juliet and Mark was just messed up. She married Mark’s best friend, they should both just leave it at that! The pacing was a bit of an issue at times, and naturally some stories were far more interesting and engaging than others, and I was not always a fan of the soundtrack. There are things that work and things that don’t work in this movie, but it is certainly not the worst movie of its kind that you could be wasting your time on and it is a very Christmas-heavy movie, but there we have it. I can at least cross it off my list and say I have seen it. People are always going on and on about this movie. Finally I am included in the conversation!