Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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“Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony.”
– Elizabeth Bennet

SYNOPSIS: 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? – via IMDB

So I went through a stage where I literally just binged on everything Pride and Prejudice and then just never published my reviews. Shame on me, I know. I was wary of this because while I love the story, there is Keira Knightley. I was seriously hoping she would pull this off the same way she did Atonement, but alas, there was no such luck in my cards. I didn’t dislike her in this as much as I usually do, and she seems better suited to period pieces than other things.

I feel that some of the cast members were just not right for their roles. Donald Sutherland never really grasps Mr Bennet, and never truly embodies that snark on screen, or the relationship between him and Elizabeth. Pity, too. Obviously I have my issues with Knightley, too, to be sure (I just don’t think that she was the perfect choice), and there was something quite off with Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Jane. Oh well, those are the biggest offenders, I think. There was some amazing casting, too. I think that Macfadyen was a great Darcy. He embodied that pride, that calm and superiority, and he was unflappable, which is great. Brenda Blethyn’s Mrs Bennet correctly made me squirm in my seat and feel immense amounts of embarrassment for those girls, too – so tacky! I thought Kelly Reilly was excellent as Caroline Bingley, as she truly was horrible and snobbish and a total bitch, so well done. Jena Malone, too, nailed that immensely selfish brat Lydia.

There were parts of this movie that I absolutely adored (I am looking at you, hand into the carriage scene!). I also particularly enjoyed all scenes featuring Charles Bingley and Jane, as Bingley is so adorable around her, and they are a sweet couple.

I feel that there were some issues with the pacing – a big part of this was Mr Wickham being introduced and sped off of screen within two minutes, and yet he is such a large part of the main story, so you never really can understand Wickham being such an issue between Darcy and Elizabeth, and he is quite an important character. I also felt that this movie hardly captured the humour of the book, and came across as far too serious. There were moments I smiled, for sure, but for the most part this went for full on drama. Pride and Prejudice does have some truly beautiful sets and some great costume design and a score that suits it perfectly, and that does help you slip into the story and the characters and the time more. The dialogue was also quite loyal to the book, which I appreciated.

Pride and Prejudice is indeed a solid adaptation of its novel. There were some hitches with the cast and the pacing, but it is still well worth a watch, something I can see myself revisiting in future. The story is a classic for a reason, and does have a timeless love story between two characters you cannot help but love and root for. Worth the watch.

Blind Spot Series 2017 Rankings

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So, another year gone, another twelve movies crossed off of my Blind Spot list. For the most part, I had particularly good movies this year. For the most part…

Anyway, as always, I decided to rank them all here.

12. Deliverance (1972)

Well. This. Fuck this movie. I will say it again, fuck this movie. Yep, totally hated it. I am sure you all remember the Shitfest-worthy meltdown I had about this. If you don’t, you are more than welcome to head on back to the review linked above to see how I raged. Ugh…

11. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Certainly not an underrated gem as I was led to believe, I was so amped to finally watch this gangster movie and was totally let down by it. What a waste of nearly four hours of my life!

10. Cronos (1993)

While I am always up for Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish works, this one was not nearly as great as I was hoping it would be. It was not a bad movie by a long shot, but it does not stand equal to The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth.

9. The Road (2009)

Dark, depressing, apocalyptic, The Road definitely paints a super depressing, far more realistic apocalyptic future than these movies usually portray. Viggo Mortensen is exellent, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also holds his own in the bleak movie. Worth the watch!

8. Say Anything (1989)

So pleased to have seen this –  it is one of those movies that is referenced all over the show, and I have never really known how it all fit in. Man, Lloyd Dobler is absolutely adorable and the boombox over the head scene finally makes sense now. Say Anything is sweet, but not to soppy your stomach churns. Enjoyed this one!

7. The Help (2011)

Okay, so right off the bat, this is not unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it bad. The Help is rather formulaic, and shies away from some of the sick history it is steeped in, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find other ways to run home the story. There are terribly sad moments, moments that will make you mad, and some great sections with some fantastic humour, and the movie has heart. The cast, too, definitely sold this one.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, but I really liked this one. I thought it was funny and shot really well and rather strange, but it all worked. I would like to rewatch it and see if it holds up as well. I must admit, this is where I finally understood Tom Hiddleston’s appeal to the world – before he was just a decent actor. After this? Impressed. Plus I liked the humour in this. So deadpan. Swinton and Hiddleston make this a treat.

5. The Orphanage (2007)

Another one of those cult classic type movies I have vowed for years to get to and just never did, 2017 was the year that changed. The Orphanage is haunting, sad, beautiful and creepy, and has a solid story as a strong psychological aspect to it, making it a movie that gets under your skin and lingers long after, not just a typical, generic horror movie at all.

4. JFK (1991)

Conspiracy theories galore! Naturally this was totally going to be my cup of tea, and it totally was. There were some solid performances and I was particularly interested in how Stone would set out his case for JFK’s assassination. While I feel that it was heavy handed in forcing his interpretation of events down the viewer’s throat, if you watch this as a theory and not as the gospel of the answers to JFK’s assassination, you are in for a good time. Great starting point for those not too familiar with the intricacies of the infamous case.

3. City of God (2002)

I can see why this movie is so popular – it is so not an easy watch, but it is engaging, gritty, violent, realistic, and truly gets you thinking. It tells a super solid story and it draws you in, getting you invested in some characters from this nasty slum. It is depressing and yet completely enthralling, something I can see myself revisiting.

2. Rear Window (1954)

James Stewart man, what an actor. The man is amazing, and with Grace Kelly at his side, the duo was bound to impress. Hitchcock, too, weaves a tense one-room story, which is carried and fleshed out completely by a talented cast. The tension is palpable, the story is smart and engaging, and the pacing is just right. Rear Window is a well-crafted movie and definitely worth the time.

1. Atonement (2007)

Ah, Atonement. Where do we even start? My goodness, what a watch. While it is not completely perfect or shocking, and it is predictable in places, it is handled so well and is shot brilliantly – truly, what beautiful shots. James McAvoy is absolutely perfect here, sweeping us all up so completely in Robbie. Keira Knightley, too,  managed to not work on my last nerve. The two work together well, and Atonement tells one hell of a story, a journey I both loved and resented in equal measure. I thought it was told so well, and some details were handled with such aplomb. What a movie, though certainly not a light, easy watch.

February Blind Spot Review: Atonement (2007)

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atonement-poster

“I don’t know how I could’ve been so ignorant about myself… so… so stupid. And you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You knew before I did.”
– Cecilia Tallis

SYNOPSIS: Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit. – via IMDB

atonement-the-library

GRADE 8.5I have been meaning to watch Atonement for years, and for all sorts of reasons, I never got to it, hence I thought it would be a great addition to my 2017 Blind Spot list. Man, oh man, this movie. My heart! Goodness, there is so much to talk about it, so I suppose I best order my thoughts and try to convey what I felt about this in some form of coherent review. That, and a gif overload. I can’t help it, the movie was beautiful to look at.

James McAvoy is an actor I would watch in anything, and not just for science. The man is ridiculously talented, and this was just another example of how phenomenal he is when he sets his mind to something. I was so taken with his character Robbie. I adored him. I mean wow. Then, opposite him, is Keira Knightley. She is one of those actresses that irrationally annoy the crap out of me (again, thanks for that one Abbi). I don’t know – she’s not a bad actress, but she grates on my last nerve every single time, without fail. Not in Atonement. In fact, I thought she was very well suited to the role.  Knightley and McAvoy have great chemistry and fit together really well, and you are drawn in from the off to see if class was going to be set aside for them to be together. Just watching them was an experience on its own!

atonement-hands

The rest of the cast was incredibly good, too. Saoirse Ronan was excellent as the young Briony Tallis, and demonstrated that even as a young actress, she is a gifted, capable performer. I thought her subsequent counterparts to depict her while ageing were great, as both Ramola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave convincingly looked like her. Benedict Cumberbatch, another actor I adore, made my stomach turn completely here. I mean ick, ick, ick. I knew he was up to no good, but holy crapsticks, you nasty, despicable man! I found it pretty creepy that Juno Temple again played a character that got some nasties done to her by an older man (hem hem Killer Joe).

Anyway, Atonement was truly a heartbreaking story. I felt like the entire world was dark and doomed by the end of it, but I liked it. It was a bit predictable – I wasn’t ever actually shocked, but I was so invested in the outcome, even when I knew how it was supposed to go. That being said, it still had moments to shock you endlessly. The pacing is great because it gets you, and it gets you quickly. Then this story unfolds, flicking between the observations of a child who does not understand what she is seeing, to the actual events taking place. The difference between the two is amazing, and was used perfectly to point out that you don’t always know what you are looking at, and shouldn’t  jump to conclusions.

atonement-typewriter

I thought that visually, the movie was simply stunning. My word, it was shot well, and was a feast for the eyes, pretty much from the opening scene. So many things came together, and besides the performances and score, you could not overlook the specific shots that came together throughout the movie. There were so many scenes that captured such beauty, but I will just show a few here.

Let’s start with Robbie in the flower fields, it was so peaceful and serene.

atonement-robbie-flowers

There was the scene with the water bursting into the tunnels, with everything breaking and the newspaper flying out.

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I was particularly fond of the ferris wheel. Everything about this scene just worked, especially with the sun shining through, the bandstand with the soldiers singing, and the smoke rising in the background. So much just came together to give us this.

atonement-ferris-wheel-smaller

Another aspect that just worked was the score. The music set the tone, it did, and I particularly enjoyed the sound of the typewriter keys thwacking away being used to create a score, too. It was original, and so suited for the movie. It was great.

Anyway, as I am sure you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Atonement, and did not feel that the predictability of it hurt it at all. A visual feast to behold, with a love story that will make your heart ache and amazing chemistry between Robbie and Cecilia, I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie. Just know that it is a heavy watch, but worth every moment of your time, even if it feels like the world is never really going to be okay again.

December Blind Spot Review: Love Actually (2003)

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Love-actually-poster

“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

love actually hugh grant love actually i'm in love

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!

Rapid Review: The Imitation Game (2014)

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the imitation game poster

“Advise about keeping secrets: it’s a lot easier if you don’t know them in the first place.”
– Alan Turing

SYNOPSIS: Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. – via IMDB

the imitation game

GRADE 7Finally got around to seeing this, and I must admit that I did enjoy it. I was looking forward to it not only for Cumberbatch (though yes, big draw) but because I have covered Turing and some of his work for my studies, and I find it fascinating. So a movie on the man? To find out more? I was sold. The Imitation Game had a great cast working for it, and I enjoyed what they all brought to the screen. I did not want to throttle Keira Knightley, which was a really weird experience for me. Cumberbatch, obviously, stole the whole show here, and presented Alan Turing in a wonderful manner. He made you laugh, he made you feel sorry for him, and he never lost you along the way. His interactions with Charles Dance were simply too amusing for words. I was happy to see Allen Leech in here, too, and Matthew Goode was more entertaining than I can explain – his character Hugh Alexander definitely did not get along with Turing at all. Watching Turing’s whole team was a treat, from the exasperation, frustration, and finally admiration, the journey is quite a sweet one. Turing’s story is fascinating, and Morten Tyldum did a good job of conveying it to the audience without necessarily losing you along the way, but he certainly brought nothing fresh or new to the table, which was also quite disappointing from time to time. It is very formulaic at times, but that doesn’t necessarily cripple the movie. Sometimes there was also an issue of things happening in a totally nonsensical manner, but we were expected to buy into it because that was how they had to tell the story. I suppose there isn’t really time to flesh it all out perfectly, but occasionally discoveries and actions just felt forced. The Imitation Game obviously focused on WWII and the machine that decoded the Nazi Enigma code, as well as the code-breakers that worked incessantly and fruitlessly on it for so long, but did not necessarily explore more of Turing’s work. Also, do not go into this thinking you are going to get the average war movie, you will be sorely disappointed. This movie is about Turing, his work, and parts of his life. This didn’t thrill me as I was hoping it would, seeing how it has been pretty much universally loved. While not a perfect movie, it is engaging and well presented, and deserves a look, at least once, even if just to get more people familiar with Turing.

Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)

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never let me go movie stills

“You will become adults, but only briefly. Before you are old, before you are even middle-aged, you will start to donate your vital organs. That’s what you were created to do. And sometime around your third or fourth donation, your short life will be complete.”
– Miss Lucy

A medical breakthrough in 1952 has changed the world, changed the way people live, lengthening life spans, fostering longevity and health. But at what cost? In the 1970’s, Kathy H (Isobel Meikle-Small) attends Hailsham, a boarding school, with her best friend Ruth (Ella Purnell). Kathy becomes infatuated with a young boy that seems to be the social outcast. His name is Tommy (Charlie Rowe), and the two become very close. The three become rather close, though the school is strange and bizarre. The students are not taught math and science, but instead spend copious amounts of time on artwork which they will submit the best work to the Gallery, run by Madame (Nathalie Richard). Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins) joins the teaching staff, and she informs the students of their purpose in life: they are there to be harvested for organs. They will “complete” in early adulthood, which is just a nice way of saying they will die.

never let me go hearing the truth

“You have to know who you are, and what you are. It’s the only way to lead decent lives.” – Miss Lucy

Ruth manages to snatch Tommy away from Kathy, which hurts her, but life must go on. The three graduate from Hailsham and go live at the cottages, where they will live among other donors. Kathy (Carey Mulligan) feels very left out at the cottages, where the other students seem to have partners and lives, despite their fate. Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) are still in a relationship, with Kathy being the ever-present third wheel. From other former students, the rumours of “deferral” reach their ears, meaning that if a couple is in love and they can prove it, they can possibly get a short reprieve from starting to donate. Kathy, meanwhile, battles to deal with Tommy and Ruth and their sexual relationship, ultimately leaving to become a carer, someone who takes care of other donors and comforts them, meaning she will wait a while longer.

Shortly after leaving the cottages and starting her job, Tommy and Ruth break up. Kathy does not see Tommy or Ruth again, but a decade later comes across Ruth, who has gone through two donations and is not looking very good. The two spend some time together, and later meet up with Tommy, who is looking pretty good despite also having been through a couple of donations. Ruth apologizes to Kathy and Tommy for having kept them apart, and encourages them to seek the rumoured deferral so that they may actually have some time together, going as far as to provide them with an address for Madame. Tommy and Kathy spend more and more time together, though Tommy is getting weaker. He is immensely excited, working on his artwork, sure that it will prove that he and Kathy deserve the deferral, that they are destined to be together.

never let me go the beach

“It had never occurred to me that our lives, which had been so closely interwoven, could unravel with such speed.” – Kathy

Will they be granted the deferral? Will they get to finally spend some time together, after always having loved one another? Has Ruth made up for her past regressions in time? What will Tommy and Kathy be judged on to earn the deferral? When will Kathy have to end her job as a carer and complete the purpose for which she was made?

never let me go deferral

GRADE 7This was a suggestion from Table 9 Mutant of Cinema Parrot Disco, who gave it to me an age ago (yes, yes), but I have a watch list that is ridiculously long and sometimes I really just need a kick to get to something. Well, she finally kicked enough and I got to it. Now, the story for this is something I expected rather soon in, I could see how the plot was going to move with that and what the point of the school and the children were. I thought that Kathy and Tommy were so cute together, and it was highly predictable that Kathy’s best friend, Ruth, would swoop in to usurp Tommy (women’s logic: I want that man, not a man like that). I did not think it fair, though, that only Ruth bore the blame of having kept Tommy and Kathy apart, as Tommy could have nut up at any time and left her. But whatever. I enjoyed Carey Mulligan in here, and Andrew Garfield was absolutely adorable as always (yes, Eric and Brian, the little girl he is and all). Keira Knightly annoyed me in here, she had a character I could in no which way connect with, even by the end, I had not one shred of pity for her. Probably doesn’t help that I am not a fan of her acting, either. The movie left me feeling as though it was a missed opportunity by the end of it as it simply didn’t resonate. It had all the opportunity to, the opportunity for rebellion, for total unhappiness, for a fight, and instead everyone seemed content just to accept their roles and moved on, which peeved me. I cannot stand spinelessness, to be very honest. Weakness annoys the hell out of me. It was shot nicely, and everything had a dreary feel to it. As Natasha says, this was a very British type of film. I would recommend you watch it – while nothing revolutionary or new, it was decent for what it was. My mission now? To read the book, to see if it fleshes some things out a little bit more, making the story a little bit more fulfilling.