Here's What I Saw

Movies I See. What I Think of Them.

Gone Girl


Gone GirlWatched: Sunday, October 5

Rating: 4.5 stars

What I liked best: Creepy without relying on crashy music.  Just good writing.

Standout Character: Beside the leads, I really thought the investigator was excellent.

Random thoughts: I have read the book and it is difficult for me to give impressions of the movie that aren’t tied in with my impressions of the book.  As well, this is a story that’s hard to talk about without giving spoilers.  I will say that I really enjoyed watching it even though I’ve read the book and that it did the book justice, which can be hard to do with a movie adaptation.

The F Word (Called “What If” in the US)


The F Word (What If)Watched: Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rating: 3.5 stars

What I liked best: Unchallenging, predictable, rom-com good times done well.

What I liked least: While both leads were likeable and entertaining, the constant clever banter between them made it too obvious they were characters and not real people.  Real people don’t talk like that.  And yes, you expect this to a certain extent in all movies, but it was really obvious here.

Favourite character: Allan and Nicole

Random thoughts: There are a lot of very bad romantic comedies out there.  This isn’t one of them.  Set it a somehow always mild-weathered Toronto, watching the characters get to the inevitable conclusion with sincerity and humour is a lot of fun.

Guardians of the Galaxy


Guardians of the GalaxyWatched: Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rating: 3.5 stars

What I liked best: It was funny in a goofy way.

What I liked least: The baddies were more ridiculous than scary.

Favourite character: Groot

Random thoughts: Silly and entertaining brain candy.

Get On Up: The James Brown Story


Get On UpWatched: Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rating: 4 stars

What I liked best: The music.

What I liked least: I guess I feel like there are things that you shouldn’t be able to get wiped clean just because you’re a musical genius.  He had a well-documented history of domestic abuse that was very much glossed over here.

Favourite character: Chadwick Boseman as James Brown was excellent

Random thoughts: Great job by the lead in his portrayal of such a complete narcissist.  The back story made him sympathetic if not completely likable.  Also impressive was Nelsan Ellis as Bobby Byrd, Brown’s long-suffering friend and co-performer.  Compelling story as well.

Interesting to see this so soon after Jersey Boys as I think this is what that was trying to be.

Wish I Was Here


Wish I Was HereWatched: July 31, 2014

Rating: 2.5

Favourite character: I thought Kate Hudson as the wife was very understated and relatable.

Least Favourite character: Zach Braff as the main guy.  Wah wah wah.  Me me me.  Whine whine whine.

Random thoughts: This was a pretty blah movie.  It had a few quality heartfelt moments and a couple of funny ones, but they were interspersed among a lot of artsy and contrived moments that were probably supposed to be heartfelt, often in weird voice-over montage form, and that was annoying.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


Dawn of the Planet of the ApesWatched: July 19, 2014

Rating: 4 stars

What I liked best: That they sold me on the apes as being human-like.

What I liked least: Very violent.

Favourite character: Teacher ape.

Random thoughts: This was better than I expected.  I found it emotionally intense and at times quite upsetting, but as well as being a solid adrenaline movie, it had thinky bits.  A little grim, and felt like a set-up for a sequel, but very good.  I was really impressed by the apes.  I cared about them, so well done on anyone responsible for that.

Jersey Boys


Jersey BoysWatched: Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rating: 3

What I liked best: Some of the music.

What I liked least: Felt a bit half-assed.

Favourite character: Tommy DeVito.

Random thoughts: This was just ok.  I had heard good things about the live musical, so I will have to assume that was better.  Nothing really bad here, just nothing great either.

The beginning implied this would be a mob movie, but it never really delivered there.  And as a music bio movie, it was just a bit bland.

I found the loose frame of the different characters giving their views on things annoying.  It wasn’t done deeply enough to be effective, so instead it was distracting.  The Tommy DeVito character got the most talk time doing this, so when anyone else did it, it just felt inconsistent.  And then the big mess at the end when they all did it just irritated me.

Chef


ChefWatched: Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rating: 4.5

What I liked best: Sweet restaurant fantasy for foodies with a bit of a family element to add heart.

What I liked least: I really didn’t connect with the main guy.  I liked pretty much everyone else better.

Favourite character: The kid was pretty sweet.

Favourite scene: The bit with Robert Downey Junior.  I didn’t even know he was in this.

Random thoughts: The audience in the theatre for this movie was a dream audience and they made it more fun than it would normally have been.  I don’t know if it was some cooking school out on a field trip or what, but it was things like someone in the movie would slather butter on something and a huge group of the audience would go, “OOOHHHHH.”  It made me laugh and definitely added to the atmosphere.

That said, this was good in its own right.  The story: stressed, bored, workaholic chef and pretty crappy dad gets pushed into making dramatic changes for the better.  Also – road trip!  A likeable cast and snappy momentum carry this.  There’s also a significant amount of food porn, if you’re into that kind of thing.  (I’m not, really.)

Apparently this movie was made by Jon Favreau.  I suspect though, that he ghosted, and it was actually made – or at least entirely bankrolled – by Twitter.  We’re talking product placement at the level of Lego in the Lego Movie.  Just a heads up.

The Grand Seduction


The Grand SeductionWatched: Thursday, June 5

Rating: 4 stars

Favourite character:  The ladies eavesdropping on the phone

Favourite scene: Finding cash.

Random thoughts:  This was a sweet, light comedy.  Nothing fancy, nothing flashy – just some people in a poor little harbour town in Newfoundland trying to stay afloat with a cunning plan.

Maleficent


MaleficentWatched: Sunday, June 1

Rating: 4 stars

What I liked best: The story

What I liked least: The three little fairies were annoying

Favourite character: Maleficent

Random thoughts: However problematic Disney movies may be, they have always been so good at villains.  The Disney baddies are often chilling.  And the witch (evil fairy) from Sleeping Beauty ranks high in the scary Disney villain canon.  So I was pretty excited that there was going to be a whole movie based on her.  For me, this didn’t disappoint.  Maleficent is sympathetic and bad-ass.  The world is beautiful.  The story is dark (maybe a little scary for small kids) but I love the ultimate peace that’s found at the end.  (Sorry if that’s a spoiler, but this IS Disney – of course it has a happy ending.)