Film Review: The Kissing Booth

I love a good teen rom com.

This isn’t one.

The central conceit here is that there are two best friends, Elle and Lee (Joey King and Joel Courtney), who have been friends since they were little kids. Now high schoolers their friendship endures thanks to a series of rules they follow. However, one of the rules is that Lee’s older brother is off limits. Of course, Elle falls for Noah (Jacob Elordi) and he for her. Cue much sneaking around and inevitable drama when it all comes to light.

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The title refers to the fundraiser that Elle and Lee set up for their dance club, where Elle kisses Noah for the first time.

The problem with this movie is that the character of Noah is underwritten to the point that aside from being a hot guy, you never understand why Elle falls for him. He’s set up as a big man on campus, a popular jock who regularly gets into fights, but that’s it. You keep thinking that the film will add a second layer, but nothing develops. I mean, he’s going to Harvard, which I assume means he’s smart, but we see no evidence of this. He’s a slightly aggressive meathead at the start, and he pretty much continues to be the same aside from occasionally professing his love for Elle.

The whole movie feels old fashioned. This extends to the soundtrack, which features some old tracks. In the early stages of the movie it’s found out that Noah has warned guys off Elle and protects her, but this feels a bit of a cliche and like something from an ’80s teen movie. And a bad one at that, not a John Hughes movie. Elle is slightly annoyed by this but very quickly starts viewing it as a sign that he cares for her and that it’s kinda sweet. What?!

Similarly, after another jock slaps her arse while wearing a short skirt, Elle then dates said jock and Noah actually uses the phrase “asking for it”, which the film does flag but quickly moves on from. The whole episode is handled extremely poorly.

The love story is painfully flat throughout, which is a shame, because Joey King is quite charming as Elle in the other scenes of the movie. She shares genuine chemistry with Joel Courtney, who is the standout as Lee. Unfortunately, with them being separated by her sneaking around and the following fallout the strongest part of the film vanishes for a long period of the movie.

It’s also kinda lame that Elle gets to deliver this speech about how being a best friend doesn’t give Lee the right to tell her who to love. I’m firmly Team Lee here, as the major issue is that she snuck around and lied to him about it. Also, we get one scene where Lee reveals why he is so upset and it’s another missed opportunity. He says that Noah gets everything, and that Elle was the one thing that was his, which is a bit possessive and less interesting. They could have talked about how Lee felt like he was always in Noah’s shadow, that he feels like a lamer version of him or that people use him to get close to Noah. All of these would have had a bit more resonance than the poor reason we get in the end.

There are a few funny moments and, as I said, Courtney and King are on fine form, but the rest of the movie is a mess. Supporting characters are distinctly one note,

I know some may feel I was expecting too much from a teen movie, but that’s unfair. The genre has produced far superior fare, and this falls far short of previous movies. And it feels like a step backwards, the teen genre has had some quite clever, witty films over the years including Clueless and Easy A, this lacks their intelligence and humour.

Oh, and the adult roles are lacking too. I’m a firm believer that quite often the adult characters bring a lot to teen movies, but here the parents and teachers are poorly written too, Molly Ringwald turns up as Lee and Noah’s mum but gets a couple of scenes.

While Netflix has succeeded with it’s shows, I’m massively unimpressed with their movie output. Avoid.

Verdict: Poorly written and with a male love interest who is painfully undeveloped, this film falls flat and is rather forgettable. The two leads have chemistry but are let down by a mediocre script which feels outdated, overly simple and shallow. 3/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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The Tattoo I Don’t Regret Not Getting

It’s been a long time since I got my first tattoo. I remember it clearly, being nervous as I took my seat, hoping that I wouldn’t be such a wimp that I’d cry or have to stop. I hadn’t made it easy for myself by choosing a big piece to pop my ink cherry. Thankfully, it didn’t hurt that much and I’d go on to get more tattoos over the years.

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My first four tattoos. More will follow.

My first tattoo wasn’t what I’d originally wanted. While I am still a fan of Motorhead and  their late singer Lemmy, I’d originally wanted something else.

I’d wanted a Welsh dragon. I was a recent convert to Welsh patriotism, and of all the Welsh logos, the red dragon was the coolest. I wasn’t sure I could pull off a daffodil, and I’m not sure anyone could pull off a leek tattoo.

However, in the run up to booking my first tattoo, I started to notice that a lot of people had the dragon tattoo. And many weren’t people I wanted to have more in common with. There was something a little chavvy about it, or so I thought at the time. I’ve changed this opinion and think the traditional red dragon actually looks good. But unfortunately, at the time the only examples I could see were on the flesh of Nessa from Gavin and Stacey and a guy I knew who had his own initials tattooed on his neck. No, I never found out why.

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And so, I got the Motorhead tattoo, and while it might be a bit more metal compared to the rest of me, I dig it. In fact, I’m tempted to get some more music related tats around it.

Over the years I’ve added to my tattoos, and occasionally turned back to the idea of having something in honour of my Welsh heritage.

For a while, I was thinking about getting a three feathers tattoo.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when I daydream about wearing a shirt with the badge on, and scoring a World Cup winning try for Wales, but as much as I love our national side, I can’t deny I have issues with the WRU logo.

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The problem is it’s based on the emblem of Prince Charles, in his role of Prince of Wales. And frankly, I’m not impressed.

I’m not hugely fussed on the royals, I’m not calling for us to build guillotines or anything, but they do seem like a frightful waste of money and it’s kinda ridiculous to still have such an archaic institution going strong. And I’m not fussed on the fact that the ruling monarch can just make their oldest boy the prince of my country. It’d be like my Dad deciding to name me Duke of Neath, only instead of it being an inside joke he’d demand that other people go along with it all.

The fact the Welsh rugby team wear this emblem is kinda like legitimising Charlie’s nickname. He’s not my prince.

Hell, he didn’t even bother getting a Welsh motto for it. He stuck on “Ich Dien”, it’s German for crying out loud. At least Latin is classic.

Nope, I can’t get behind the three feathers or the idea of someone being made prince of my country. Prince Charles? Well, I didn’t vote for him.

So I’m kinda relieved that I didn’t get the logo tattoed on me. I’d never be able to look at it without a tinge of regret. I love my country, I love our rugby team, even if they don’t always treat me right, but I don’t love what that badge stands for. I just think the WRU should ditch it and get something that’s actually Welsh.

If they don’t want a dragon because the football lads have it, then why not a daffodil? Hell, I’d even take a leek.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 


Disney Classics #19: The Jungle Book

I can’t lie, I’m massively biased towards this movie because it was the first movie I saw in the cinema. Back in the mid-late ’80s they used to show old Disney movies in cinemas, I’m guessing because the home video market was still in it’s infancy. My Dad took me to our local cinema, I think the Plaza in Port Talbot, which is still there but has been a depressing derelict husk for about 20 years now.

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This sentimental attachment means that for years this was right near the top of my Disney list. In recent years it’s slipped down a bit, mainly because the recent run of form Disney have hit upon, but it’s still probably in my top ten because it’s fantastic.

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The film is a loose adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s book, which I’ve never read, and follows a young boy named Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman) who is found alone in the jungle and taken by the panther Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), who leaves him with the wolves who raise him. However, word arrives that the tiger Shere Khan (George Sanders) is returning to the jungle, and due to his hatred of mankind this puts Mowgli in danger. Bagheera volunteers to take a reluctant Mowgli back to the Man Village.

Along the way they encounter various residents of the jungle, including the bear Baloo (Phil Harris) who offers to look after Mowgli and teach him how to survive in the jungle. Baloo is one of my all time favourite Disney characters, this extremely loveable, laid back dude who gets one of the best songs ever, “The Bare Necessities”.

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The scene near the end of the movie where Baloo is lying on the floor after a fight with Shere Khan and Mowgli pleads with him to wake up. The scene is genuinely moving, even rewatching it now, and you imagine has left a lot of kids on the edge of their seats, pleading along with Mowgli.

In fact one of the things that never stops amazing me is how much I enjoy this film every time I go back to it, and how much of it I still remember vividly. This is thanks partly due to this being massive fun and loaded with a great soundtrack and some memorable characters. Alongside Baloo you get characters like the vultures modelled after the Beatles, Sanders’ fabulous delivery as Shere Khan and King Louie, voiced by Louis Prima, who sings the jazzy, upbeat “I Wan’na Be Like You”.

Watching this movie provides the same warm feeling as Christmas songs or eating rhubarb and custard sweets, it’s comforting and familiar. It reminds me of childhood, and makes me feel good. And just like the songs and the sweets, I still enjoy it. Revisiting Mowgli, Baloo and Bagheera is like visiting old friends.

It might have been bumped down a few places, but whenever I watch this movie I’m reminded of how good it is, how much I love it and all those memories come back to me. And for the next few days I have the songs stuck in my head.

Disney Score: 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Dawn of the Dead by George A. Romero and Susanna Sparrow

The second of George A. Romero’s zombie movies, Dawn of the Dead, is where my obsession with the undead began. Not a direct sequel to the earlier Night of the Living Dead it works as a companion piece, another story from the same world. Just as dawn follows night, the film takes place a little further along down the zombie apocalypse. I saw it first and as much as I love Night, I probably prefer Dawn.  This makes it even more annoying that I haven’t seen the movie in years. It’s never on telly, I can’t find it on Netflix and tracking down a DVD is proving tricky too.

My old copy, taped off BBC2, is long gone now. And yet a lot of the movie is still fresh in my head, whole scenes are clear to me and I remember the tone well, a mix of dark comedy, grim tension and subtle satire of our commercialised world. Driven by instinct the living dead are drawn to places that were important to them, in this case a mall.

The novelisation of the movie caught my eye on the shelf in a book shop, and I had to grab it.

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And I am so glad I did.  As Simon Pegg states in his introduction a book provides a different perspective to a film, and here we get to see more of the inner lives of our four survivors as they hole up at the Monroeville Mall. Fran, who works for a Philadelphia television studio is watching the world go to hell and decides to flee in the station’s traffic chopper with her boyfriend Stephen. Joining them is Stephen’s friend a SWAT tropper named Roger and his comrade in arms, Peter, who he meets during a disastrous raid.

The mall, despite having plenty of zombies around, makes an attractive proposition and despite originally having planned to load up before moving on to Canada, the group linger there, enjoying all the cool stuff they find there. But is it as safe as they think it is?

I really dug this book because like the movie it captures a sense of constantly simmering tension, even when the guys are living it up, there’s an artificial joviality to things, and the dead are never far away. The characters are more fleshed out here, particularly Peter, who is developed slightly more than the tough badass he is in the movie and the tensions between him and Stephen are better explained. Similarly, Fran and Stephen’s relationship makes a bit more sense.

The action is written in a fast paced, engaging way and Romero, with co-writer Sparrow succeeds in making it incredibly tense in places. The story is simple but involving, and it moves along at a good speed, while still letting the story breathe in places. I really loved this book, but it’s just made me want to rewatch the original movie again.

Verdict: A gripping and entertaining story, much like the movie it is based off. The characters are slightly more detailed here, and it captures the vibe of the survivors fraying under the pressure of the civilised world ending. A must for zombie fans. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


How I learnt to Love Wales and Being Welsh

I think one of the things that would surprise sixteen year old Chris the most is how much thirty-three year old Chris feels about Wales. I wasn’t a patriotic kid, and didn’t feel any real affection or pride in my Welsh heritage. Welsh was the language of school, and the books we studied there. Sure, there’d occasionally be something which broke through like Pam Fi, Duw? but a lot of the Welsh things I was exposed too were kinda naff.

The change has happened slowly over the years, partly because of my time at university. Although I attended a Welsh university, we Welsh students were the minority, and most of the students seemed to be English. It was these English students who shaped my growing love for Wales.

There was the normal things you expect from English students- sheep shagger jokes, whining about the bilingual signs and, of course, telling us we weren’t a real country. English people then get really huffy when you point out that if Wales isn’t a country, then neither is England as both are part of Britain.

The Welsh students banded together, especially when the Six Nations started up, and we were lucky enough that our first year, 2005, saw Wales win the Grand Slam.

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It wasn’t just the rugby victory that started to win me over, it was starting to realise just how Wales had been treated. South Wales, the area I grew up in still bore the scars of Thatcher’s war on the unions, with mass unemployment and closed down factories, mines and failing steelworks.

As time went on I learned more about how Wales was routinely overlooked, poorly funded and treated as a poor relation or joke. Finding out about Welsh towns literally flooded to create a reservoir to serve England, about attempts to kill the Welsh language and how Wales was just used for it’s resources. It made you realise how hard people had worked and fought to keep Welsh culture alive.

It made me proud. It made me angry. For me the words of Phil Bennett before a match against England captured my feelings towards Westminster and how Wales was treated:

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It made me appreciate the Welsh language more, regret all the times I saw it as a pain or dismissed it as a dead language, cursed my parents for sending me to a Welsh language school and complained about the dire novels we had to read.

There are still English people who complain about the Welsh language. Laughable arguments about the signs being too difficult for them and dangerous, when all they need to do is ignore the first line. Who grumble that they go to places and the Welsh speak Welsh. Who whinge about how money is wasted on Radio Cymru and S4C.

Sod them.

The Welsh language has endured similar attacks over the years. Banned in schools, marginalised and underrepresented, those channels and stations were the result of hard fighting and lengthy campaigns. The bilingual signs a massive victory in ensuring our heritage was respected and returned to prominence.

I’m glad every Welsh kid is taught some Welsh now, I only wish they were taught more about the attempts to destroy it. How speaking Welsh is a sign of rebellion, of resistance, of a culture refusing to let itself be erased to satisfy it’s oppressors.

I’ve tried to embrace Welsh in new ways. I watch S4C when I can, I’ve sought out Welsh language music and even looked into reading some Welsh books.

I’ve even been inspired to find a new way to engage in the language thanks to an anti-Welsh tweet. Some gammon who chose to live on this side of the bridge but refuses to respect his new home made a sarky point about how the buttons for the Welsh option on ATMs is never as worn as the button for English. Well, since reading that I always pick the Welsh option now, so that they know it’s used and appreciated, and as a thank you for all the people who stopped it from dying.

In the words of Dafydd Iwan, “er gwaetha pawb a phopeth, ry’n ni yma o hyd” (“in spite of everyone and everything, we’re still here”)

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 


Book Review: My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall

I think I got this book on offer. It’s the only reason I can think of why I downloaded it, because while I’m vaguely familiar with Penny Marshall’s work and love a couple of her movies (Big and A League of Their Own), I’d not given much thought to what her personal life was like. Well, thanks for that offer.

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Like her friend Carrie Fisher, Marshall has been in and around Hollywood for most of her life. She moved out to LA in her twenties at the end of the sixties to join her successful writer brother Garry, and soon started picking up acting gigs, becoming a star thanks to the Happy Days spin off Laverne and Shirley, which I’ve never seen. While Happy Days and it’s other spin off Mork and Mindy were shows I watched as a kid, Laverne and Shirley didn’t seem to get repeated here.

Married to actor, writer and director Rob Reiner she became part of a group of Hollywood friends. Later she would move into directing, and with Big become the first woman to direct a film that made over $100m.

And also, like Fisher, she tells her stories with energy and humour, albeit in a slightly less scatterbrained and meandering fashion. She talks about on set difficulties, of her past excesses and indiscretions, her loves and losses.

It’s a wonderfully entertaining read, the supporting players a cast of big names like Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, Madonna, Drew Barrymore and Whitney Houston. But she’s also at home with the crews of her film, the firemen she meets after 9/11 and the old friends from her neighbourhood in the Bronx who she remains close to.

Marshall writes in an easy, unpolished manner which draws you in and gives you a sense of her personality and humour. She’s funny and warm, honest and introspective. She admits to her failings but fights her corner too.

There are moving passages as she details the loved ones lost along the way. Yet her own battle with cancer is handled with humour and a lack of moping. Marshall is a force to be reckoned with, full of life and spirit. She says early on that she always liked to play, but while there is playfulness there’s something else at work, a constant driving energy that leads her to throw herself into what comes her way. An energy that helps her succeed and opens new doors for her. It’s a life well lived, and a life well written about.

I dipped in and out of this book, but whenever I did it left me warmed and amused.

Verdict: A life story told in a warm and unpretentious manner, Marshall’s energy and charm infuses the entire book. It made me smile numerous times, but also tugs the heartstrings. There’s some interesting showbiz gossip, a look into the private lives of big name stars, but at it’s heart it’s Marshall’s story. The story of a woman of humour and boundless energy, who throws herself into the opportunities and challenges that appear in her path, and succeeds. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 


Book Review: Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

Never travel with Hercule Poirot. Boats, trains and planes, none are safe when the Belgian detective is aboard. Here he’s flying from Paris to Croydon when one of the other passengers is bumped off. The first class passengers are all suspects but none seem to have much motive. And as the victim was seemingly killed with a poisoned dart shot from a blowpipe somebody would have seen something, surely?

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An inquest leans towards Poirot being the guilty man as the blowpipe was found under his seat, but this is dismissed due to his history of working with the police. Which is kinda dodgy that the judge overrules the jury, but I guess it’s not what you know but who you know.

Partly due to his being suspected, but also due to the elaborate murder weapon and the mystery, Poirot sets out to solve the case. Also looking into it are two of the other passengers, who have developed a strong attraction to one another. They team up with the detective, and slowly begin to look into who might gain from the murder.

The victim turns out to be a French money lender who would loan cash out and then get it back because she would collect blackmail material on the people who owed her. So, someone with a long list of potential enemies.

I was a little disappointed with this book, as why there is some humour and clever red herring plots, the finale feels weak and Christie does that thing of revealing a bunch of stuff right at the end which stops the reader from having had a chance of guessing what happened. I did pick up on one clue which is dropped in, but then a bunch of stuff is just trotted out.

It’s nowhere near as gripping as Murder on the Orient Express which had a much clearer plot and claustrophobic setting, even if the same trick of a few last minute secrets is similar.

It’s a decent read but not being able to solve it is frustrating. Still, an enjoyable read nonetheless.

Verdict: Amusing in places and generally involving, Christie holds too much hidden and the twists seem to come from nowhere. A decent read despite that. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: June Update: Positive Steps

As a fat man I have not been flourishing in this heat, reduced to nothing more than a puddle at times, it’s hit the proposed exercise regime hard as I’ve quickly baked in the sun and required copious amounts of drinks whenever I can. This means that June’s weight loss has been a failure.

To be honest, finding this out at my last weigh in was a major kick in the teeth, and left me feeling properly shit. I decided to write a monthly update to motivate myself, but for the last couple of months it’s basically been an exercise in publicising my failures. And as the weight has crept back up I’ve found myself feeling increasingly fed up.

The warm weather doesn’t help the fat man’s self confidence, as you feel all sweaty and gross, and that’s without throwing in a marked increase in chub rub. Any misgivings you have about your physical form are amplified by the discomfort. Looking at myself in the mirror is never something I particularly enjoy, but I hate it even more when I see a sweaty mess staring back at me.

So, standing on the scales was not a fun experience.

Time for a change.

But isn’t that what I said last month? And the month before? Why, dear reader, should you put any store in this statement?

Well, because I’m putting my money where my seemingly always full mouth is. I have paid out money in my endeavour to shed some pounds (and hopefully stones).

Step one, has been rejoining Chub Club. A previous membership actually helped quite a bit. The twin pillars of a clear eating plan and more regular weigh ins should work to keep me on the right path and remained focus.

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Step two is something I’m not looking forward to. Yes, even less than standing on the scales in a crowded room. I’ve joined a gym.

WoM has joined the other day and is taking part in some of the classes they put on there. I’m less keen on doing this, so will be exercising on my own. I’m figuring if I use the bikes and treadmills while WoM is in her class, maybe even start doing some weights, it may not be so bad.

My ideal gym would be made up of several contained pods, with all the gear inside. That way I could exercise without fear of how bad I look doing it. I think I need to buy some new headphones and maybe an MP3 players so I can just tune everything out and stop caring about it.

Previous experience from when I used to run tells me that after a while I’ll stop giving a damn anyway as my confidence and comfort grows. It just sucks until that kicks in and you just feel self conscious and like everyone is laughing at or judging you.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Film Review: Ocean’s 8

If we’re being totally honest, none of the Ocean’s movies are that great. Don’t get me wrong, they’re quite good fun, but there’s definitely more style than substance and a lot of it is carried off due to the natural charisma of the leads George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. The bar for the all female reboot/spin-off/sequel is pretty low, it just has to be fun.

Unfortunately, this movie limbos under the bar.

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We’re introduced to Debbie Ocean, played by Sandra Bullock, who is up for probation and delivers a pathetically obvious, crocodile tears speech to get released. In this speech we learn that her brother, Danny, is dead. Which is a bit of a crappy way to write out Clooney’s character, really.

Anyway, Debbie has a plan to steal some jewels. The plan is to get the jewels out of the vault by having Hollywood star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), where them to the Met Gala and pinching them off her there. To do this Debbie puts together a team to do the heist-

  • Right hand woman and old friend Lou, played by Cate Blanchett
  • Rihanna’s hacker, Nine Ball
  • Rose Weil, a faded fashion designer facing bankruptcy who they manage to get Kluger to hire to design her dress, played with a so-so Irish accent by Helena Bonham Carter
  • Mindy Kaling as Amita, a jewellery maker
  • Constance, a pickpocket played by rapper Awkwafina
  • Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a former fence who has worked with Lou and Debbie before but has since retired to suburbia

And so the plot is in motion. The heist itself is the centrepiece of the film, and is quite slick, but I found myself struggling to care.

The moment when I really lost this movie, however, comes earlier. While the gang are getting ready for the job there’s a last minute fly in the ointment as they discover the necklace can only be undone thanks to a special magnet. Oooh, a bit of last minute drama, a need for the plan to be changed? Will there be friction from the group as they realise their cut will be smaller? Could they introduce an expert that Debbie or Lou have history with, adding tension to the crew?

Nope, it turns out that Rihanna’s previously unmentioned little sister is a tech genius and can work out and build a gizmo to stop it on a single subway ride.

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If the other films lived by their casts, this one dies by it’s one. Rihanna shows that Battleship wasn’t a blip and acting isn’t for her. Blanchett, Paulson and Kaling are underused and wasted. What’s worse is that Kaling, who I’m a big fan of has now been in two of the weakest movies of the year so far.

Helena Bonham Carter plays a slightly more restrained version of her usual eccentric and Awkwafina is passable as the pickpocket.

It’s only Hathaway’s turn as the slightly vapid and bratty starlet that works well, making the character absurd without going too far and stealing many of her scenes.

The real weakness is Bullock, which is disappointing as I’m a fan of hers. However, here she’s never really likeable or wins you over. In comparison with her cinematic brother she looks brittle and cagey, lacking Clooney’s easy charm and suave delivery. Danny wins people other with smooth charisma, Debbie just wins them over because the plot calls for it.

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Bullock and Blanchett, looking as bored as I felt

With a heroine it’s hard to root for the film adds a revenge subplot with Debbie out to get former lover Claude Becker (Richard Armitage) who got her banged up. But it’s hard to view this as too much of a bastard move in a film about con artists, and it seems to be Debbie holding a grudge because someone did to her what she does to countless others.

There are a few laughs and it looks great,  but there’s nothing underneath and the characters are so underwritten it’s hard to give a damn. Also, it’s 2018, having a scene where someone has to explain Tinder to Kaling seems out of place, almost like the app had paid to be included?

But by far the film’s worst offence is to be utterly, utterly dull. I gave up giving a damn pretty early on in the movie, and after the heist there are some rather silly twists and turns thrown in for seemingly no good reason.

Verdict: Dull, charmless and lacking warmth. It looks good, and Hathaway is kinda fun, but on the whole it’s all rather flat. 3/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 


5 Reasons Why I’m Not Looking Forward to the Live Action Dumbo

This week saw a teaser trailer and poster drop for next year’s Dumbo, Disney’s live action remake of their 1941 movie. WoM, a huge Disney fan with a soft spot for the big eared elephant is extremely keen to see it, whereas for me it comes nowhere near troubling my “Films I’m Excited For” lists. Here I’m gonna explain why.

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1. Not fussed on the original

When I was a little kid, I got massively upset watching the original film because I hated the way the other characters bullied Dumbo and it made me cry. Because of this I kinda ignored the film until I decided to watch and blog about every Disney Classic (these will resume shortly). I was hesitant, but gave it a rewatch.

I was not impressed. The story is brief and fragmented, and while “Baby Mine” tugs at the heartstrings, the rest of the movie left me cold.

Also, there are clowns. And I hate clowns.

2. Circus as a Family?

One thing I did like about the original, was that it doesn’t paint the circus world in an overly positive light- the animals are caged and bored, the punters are cruel and mock our hero and the carnies are mean and exploitative. And the clowns are jerks.

Therefore it’s a little worrying to see the teaser trailer include some bollocks about the circus being a family.

Nope.

You can’t make out that Dumbo wants to be there or is happy, circus treatment of animals was horrible and surely the happy ending nowadays should be instead of becoming a circus star, Dumbo should instead fly off to freedom?

Reading the film’s Wikipedia page it looks like we may get Michael Keaton as the villainous moneybags who’s after the flying elephant, with Colin Farrell as the nice guy circus worker and Danny De Vito as his boss. De Vito’s character will probably be put forward as a bit of a rogue, but ultimately good compared to Keaton’s despite both being in the exploiting animals game.

3. Tim Burton

I have serious issues with Tim Burton. He’s one of those frustrating directors who can make great movies but regularly churns out dross. At his best he can craft striking visuals and interesting stories of outcasts and weirdos (Sleepy Hollow, Frankenweenie, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood) but he can also lose himself in art student pretension and almost self parody.

Is he suited to making a kid’s film like Dumbo? Or will his quirks unbalance the whole thing?

4. Disney’s Track Record

Since they decided to start remaking their animated movies Disney have had mixed results. While I loved two of these films (The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast), I found Cinderella to be a bit limp and needless, and Maleficent took an imperious and evil villain and added a mopey backstory and turned her into a tragic heroine. Sorry, but it didn’t work for me.

So, will this be a case of creating a film which is both familiar yet individually charming, or a rather pointless remake?

5. Clowns

I hate clowns. We don’t need more films featuring clowns.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.