Friday, January 24, 2020

The Gentlemen (2020) Is A Typical Guy Ritchie Movie

Guy Ritchie The Gentlemen movie review
STXfilms (United States)
With the exclusion of a few titles under his cap, director Guy Ritchie has mostly replicated his plots for the past twenty-five years. Having his universe of copy+paste indie-mob flicks, based solely on the cast and how many times they can find new entertaining ways to curse, isn't the worst career to possess in film these days. But it's not necessarily the most exciting either.

Sleazy private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant) tracks down the dirty business arrangements between cannabis tycoon Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) and an American millionaire Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong). With the intel he discovers, he attempts to bribe Mickey’s right-hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), and that's just not going to sit well with at all.

Like most of Ritchie’s movies, The Gentlemen throws you into the middle of the action, and then sets up the story and characters as it moves forward. Told in a non-linear perspective, Fletcher narrates his version of a wide range of events between Pearson and Berger, and a few other side-villains (too much divulging of the plot might create spoilers). At first glance, the set-up is predictable. Using a charismatic, sketchy narrator like Grant brilliantly draws us into accepting that what Fletcher says goes – he’s a pure outsider, but he’s collected good evidence to even attempt challenging the kings of the jungle. But over time as Person, Raymond, and Berger have cards up their sleeves too, a realization dawns that everything is not what it seems –some mice are making their own mouse-traps (no help required by its prey), some cats have a lion on their tail. It's not brilliantly or refreshingly setting up twists and surprises, but it's enough to keep the endings feeling satisfactory.

For the most part, however, The Gentlemen is paint-by-numbers straight-forward. As much Ritchie's movies like to unfold at all angles and keep you on your toes, too much of the film relies on the drama between Raymond idly listening to Fletcher’s one-man play, and the audience falling down their rabbit hole. The plot is intriguing enough, but there aren’t big exciting twists to hook you along the way – not a lot of comedy or action to keep the pace rolling. Any build-up to potential violence is unevenly edited out. The roundabout story lives up to the hype, but the tension never fully plays out like it could've. Everything about the film's tone is just ‘enough’.

Mainly, Ritchie's betting on us to invest in the cast and their characters– who are the stockiest stock of gangsters a movie can have: Grant's Fletcher is the comic relief, McConaughey’s Pearson is the head honcho, Hunnam’s Raymond is the all-knowing right-hand man, Dockery’s Rosalind is the biting femmefatale, Farrell’s the gruffly unconventional fighter – and many more. They’re not boring performances by any means (though Strong as the mustache-twirling Berger is atrociously miscast); they’re having fun, so it’s okay for them to exist in their element believing in a project as much as Ritchie does. (The film also utilizes an impeccable score by Christopher Benstead  to add much-needed tension, and costume design by Michael Wilkinson adds a cheekiness boldness to every his/her character’s natural over-the-top personality.) Ritchie aces some elements, he bluffs at others.

Sometimes it's okay to watch a director stay in his lane. Sometimes it's unchallenging and monotonous. This is the thought-teeter-totter I had while watching The Gentlemen. The film checks-off every box you’d expect: Set in and around London. A magnetic cast. One to-two female leads in a sea of male leads (Dockery's done a disservice here, but won't go into because spoilers). After two hours of feeling like a Larry David gif, I ultimately left the theater shrugging expectantly but also having had fun. The good news about The Gentlemen is that it falls into the director and writer's formula of mob flicks only he can make. The bad news is that the final results are the same as always. It's a Guy Ritchie movie, what do you expect.

Rating: ★1/2
Have you seen The Gentlemen? What did you think?

Friday, January 17, 2020

Top Nomination Picks for The 92nd Academy Awards

From epic war features to compelling dramas, Hollywood churns out quality films and performances worthy of recognition all year long. Out of the mass selection of potential nominees, only a sliver goes all the way to the Oscars. As nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced this past January, the fervor of who will win at this year's award show became a traditional hot-topic debate between critics and movie goers. With the prestigious ceremony on its way February 9th, 2020, it's time to share my top picks of potential winners from Best Original Score to Best Picture.

Who do you hope will win at the 92nd Academy Awards? Feel free to share your thoughts and your picks in the comments below!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Quick Movie Reviews

From stealing the Declaration of Independence to escaping your psychotic in-laws, these are my quick movie reviews for National Treasure, Tremors, and Ready or Not. They're great picks for a fun night at home, and if you're looking for some action/adventure over the weekend. Have you seen these films? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Everything You Need To Know About Wonder Woman 1984

Warner Bros. Pictures
In 2017, director Patty Jenkins's paved the reawakening for female-led superhero franchises with a solo Wonder Woman film. As more details have come to light about her follow-up film, the Amazons served us an early New Years gift with the epic trailer to Wonder Woman 1984.

Celebrating the bad-ass first look and all its easter eggs, here are some things you should know going into the movie and some things we can question about what might be in store for Diana Prince.

Spoilers and theories are included beyond this point - you've been warned!

Monday, January 6, 2020

5 Essential Fandom Lessons To Take With Us in 2020

Gone is the trashfire year of 2019, and in enters a whole new twelve months ahead to create. While we might want to leave the past behind us, it's good to learn from what fandoms such as movies and tv shows might've taught us. Before we dive too deep into 2020, here are some fun and essential lessons we can take with us into the new year. 

Are there any lessons you learned from your favorite fandoms? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Little Women (2019) Revitalizes A Classic for A New Generation

Sony Pictures Releasing
Every generation of bookworms experience a new adaptation of Little Women. As Hollywood brings author Louisa May Alcott's tale to the big screen for the seventh time, it's easy to believe the beloved story fulfills another quota for the reboot machine. Unlike most recent flailing remakes that fail to step out of the box or honor the original, director Greta Gerwig instills enough changes to revitalize the classic as well as stick to its roots.

Set during the Civil War, the March sisters face trials and tribulations with their place in the world. While Jo (Saoirse Ronan) aspires to be an independent writer, she struggles alongside her sisters Amy (Florence Pugh), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and Meg (Emma Watson) to follow their passions or find economic stability through marriage.

As with an highly-anticipated book adaptation, the first question that comes to every loyal reader's mind is if the movie stays true to its source. Though I've never read the classic novel before, and only familiar with Gillian Armstrong's 1994 version, Greta Gerwig's Little Women remains familiar to the original story and how it's been explored on-screen before. With a story as universally recognized as this, the film hits key scenes that almost everyone's expects to see, and a few newer ones that have been overlooked. Primarily, this latest version sets itself apart by its non-linear storytelling. Instead of dutifully using the novel from chapter-to-chapter, the script maps out Jo's life from the middle as she grapples with becoming a respected writer and uses flashbacks to explore her adolescence. Less focused on driving the plot, this new take acts as a love letter to the March family, Louisa May Alcott, and the passion it takes to be a writer.

For the most part, the film's non-linear angle is where the story succeeds and falters. As the film's most common criticism is the flashbacks, for me, it's less that flashbacks are used at all but more of how they're used. With Jo tying the film together between her own dreams and her sisters' lives, the script tries to build tension between each March sister of how they want to approach their troubles. As the film tries to recreate Alcott's narrative as a collage of memories, the flashbacks often removes us from the main storyline just as it begins or continues. The characters exploring the past is often in parallel to how their lives turned out as adults, and it's very worthy quest. But the style of flashbacks also varies too often, sometimes being told solely from Jo's point of view to switching between other characters can be jarring. Gerwig's approach doesn't damage the film entirely, but the inclusion of plots isn't as smooth as it could've been.

Where Little Women remarkably sets itself apart from the earlier versions in the most timely way possible is exploring the character's motivations and personalities. We mainly get a sense of the March sisters through their different vocations - writing for Jo, painting for Amy, music for Beth, and homemaking for Meg - and what it means to each of them and their future. While most of the adaptations kept the inner-workings of society as a backdrop, the main thread here explores how the March clan rejects or accepts their place as women - the economic practicality of getting married to someone rich versus someone poor, how marriage also makes a woman and their children property to their husband, and how it's frowned upon for a woman to pursue passions outside of a family life or service to the community. Not only does the film offer nods to Alcott's possible queerness and original intention for her novel's ending, Gerwig's version could be considered the most feminist so far with inspiring messages of a woman's freedom or lack-thereof to choose their fate that perfectly aligns with its author.

The variety of timelines also gives the cast a chance to shine both individually and as an ensemble. Though it's impossible to pinpoint a bad apple in the bunch, the film truly belongs to a select few. With Jo at the center, Ronan cements another transformative performance in an unstoppable career of wondrously complex roles that spotlight her range. Following her, Pugh as Amy gives more dimension of the character who's commonly regarded as superficial and spoiled, and Timothee Chalamet delivers a demure yet awkwardly charming turn as Laurie. (Chris Cooper as Teddy's grandfather, who is often portrayed as stern and distant, also gives a remarkably warm and unique performance.) Some of the supporting roles - Watson, Scanlen, and Laura Dern -  are a little lost in the shuffle due to the script's structure, but they are nonetheless wonderful as well, and complete the portrait of why the March family has endured for almost 150 years.

Heartfelt, humorous, and tear-jerking, the film aspires to appeal to hardcore literature fans as well as  general movie goers who might only be familiar with past films. Despite the script's uneven handling of timelines, the film has Gerwig's indelible fingerprints all over it - the way it's able to move between so many different emotions and arcs, never lags or rushes the plot, and has a keen sense of her unique strengths behind the camera to offer a love letter to life itself (for Lady Bird it was independence, family, and coming of age, for Little Women its writing and Louisa May Alcott). In a little under two years, Gerwig's not a director to "watch out for" anymore, but someone who has established a vibrant spirit and female voice in film that's sorely lacking. No matter how many times Little Women has been remade and will be refashioned in the future, Gerwig's vision carves out her own spot and lives up to Alcott's legacy.

Rating: ★
Have you seen Little Women? What did you think?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2020 New Years Goals + Looking Ahead

A new year is almost here. So it's time to reflect about last year's resolutions and make new ones for the new year. I honestly anticipated to have stopped blogging in 2019. Yet I somehow managed to do more than what I set out to achieve or thought was possible.

The Good

2019 was a wild year of experiences I never expected to happen, and a lot of goals that I happily met. I think turning 30 in December was a big motivator for me. *sobs into the void*

Goals I managed to complete last year: saw Hugh Jackman in concert, finished Game of Thrones before the last season started, won tickets to Florence and the Machine, attended MegaCon Orlando, visited Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, and survived Halloween Horror Nights. And I met John Barrowman and David Tennant!!!!! They're still the highlights of the year for me.

I also completed a 30 day Yoga with Adrienne challenge - I missed a few days but instead of giving up, I pushed through. Now I do yoga a few times a week as it helps with anxiety. 

Hit my 20+ book goodreads challenge. This is the first time in forever I met one of my reading goals.

I failed to limit my coffee intake to the weekends, but I managed it more than I thought I would. Drinking tea was helpful as I enjoyed the variety of flavors more, but coffee is still that vice I have when I'm stressed out, which was a lot this year.