Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Film Review

It’s been a year since the daughter of Mildred (Frances McDormand) was brutally raped and murdered, and she’s fed up with the lack of action from the police. Her response is to put up three billboards challenging the local police, targeting the senior office, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). This polarises the local community, including fellow policeman Dixon (Sam Rockwell), who likes to take action with little thought.

I really love the work of writer and director Martin McDonagh. As with In Bruges, this film goes places that are totally unexpected. It amazes me that I can be horrified and in tears with the violence and the terrible nature of people and yet, moments later, be laughing. It’s a very, very dark comedy, and one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Frances McDormand), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Sam Rockwell) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Martin McDonagh) and was nominated for Best Director – Motion Picture (Martin McDonagh) and Best Original Score – Motion Picture (Carter Burwell). It was nominated for BAFTAs for Best Leading Actress (France McDormand), Best Screenplay (Original) Martin McDonagh), Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Best Supporting Actor (Woody Harrelson), Outstanding British Film of the Year, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and the David Lean Award for Direction.

Edge of Seventeen (2016) Film Review

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a teenager who has never felt she fits in. Her father has died, her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) is erratic in a similar manner to Nadine, her brother, Darian (Blake Jenner) is a super cool footballer who seems to get whatever he wants, especially popularity. Luckily she has her best mate, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) to get through life with… until Krista and Darian start dating, and then Nadine’s life starts to fall apart. Will her grumpy teacher Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson) be enough to get her through?

There’s a lot to like about this film – the cast firstly, especially Hailee Steinfeld who carries the film well. She’s got that wonderful self-centredness common to teenagers, so that the whole world is against her and she cannot see beyond her own problems. Which is also what totally annoyed me about the film – I just wanted to shake Nadine and her mum and say stop it! Look around – things aren’t great, but you’re still quite wealthy white folks in the US, you’ve got the world at your feet and the things that you are unhappy about actually can be changed! Oh and don’t get me started about the way she treats Edwin (Hayden Szeto), a quite hot geek who gets tongue-tied around her and she knows it and yet she treats him like… that. Annoying.

Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Now You See Me Two (2016) Film Review

Having to go to ground after the events of the first film, the four horsemen are toey. These guys are performers, they need an audience. Well no Isla Fisher’s character – she’s not in this film. Anyhow, they (Jesse Eisenberg as Atlas, Woody Harrelson as McKinney, Dave Franco as Wilder and joined by Lizzy Caplan as Lula) come back, with the help of Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), but there is a new player in the game – Walt Wabry (Daniel Radcliffe) a millionaire eccentric who loves magic. Now Bradley (Morgan Freeman) and Tressler (Michael Caine) also need to come back, and we have a lot of fun. Big magic, big tricks, no idea about what’s going on and then BAM things get fun. It’s ace in the same way the first one is ace. I doubt they’ll make another, but I kinda hope they will.

2012 (2009) Film Review


Ah, so here is San Andreas a few years before San Andreas and much bigger, but essentially, a very similar story. There is the massive disaster (San Andreas is just the fault and huge earthquakes. 2012 you have that and also the entire destruction of the planet). There is the divorced couple, the woman (Amanda Peet in this film) with two kids (ok, San Andreas has just the one kid, but then she picks up a couple of mates), and the idiot new boyfriend/husband (this one not as much of a fool, but still, he’s a plastic surgeon and handily is learning to fly). And then there is our hero. In 2009 and 2012 (I love the way that works), it is an author, supported by a few fabulous science type folks (John Cusack and Chiwetel Ejiofor) but now, in 2014, we got muscle man Dwayne Johnson, a rescue worker. But, the plot is just about the same. Man needs to save family, including estranged wife, and wins.

So, two crazy films that are far too similar and really, I loved them both for what they are all about. Is the Mayan Calendar right? (Well, no, come now. It’s 2015, we know that was wrong). Will the world collapse? Who knows. Probably not as spectacularly as this, but still. Will we have heroes that rush to save their ex-wife and children and puppies? Probably. At least, I can hope so. And the big question… The Rock or John Cusack? Hmmm… Can we have two heroes? (Plus, fabulous to have Woody Harrelson being a nutter. Jeepers, he is good at that role!)


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015) Film Review


Having not posted my review for the first part of Mockingjay until after watching this one, I was pretty surprised at how excited I’d been. Given how much I was bored during the second part.

While the books kept my attention right through to the end, this film bored me deeply. I couldn’t care about how it all ended – despite going it at the start loving it. Yes, it follows the same mood and world created, but *yawn* I just got sick of it.

So Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is sick of being the ‘face’ of the rebellion, so she sneaks off to do her own thing. Only then she ends up with a crew around her. And stuff happens. For me, not enough action, and these last two films should have been just the one.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) Film Review


I’d been bit concerned that I’d lost my Hunger Games mojo… I couldn’t really recall the second film, and while I was very interested in seeing how they deal with the intense darkness of the third book, if the second film hadn’t stuck in my mind, would it be worth it? Me and a couple of mates watched the first two films in the lead up to Mockingjay and it still wasn’t sticking – though I was feeling a lot of love for the character and the overall story.

If you haven’t seen the first two and want to, here’s a big spoiler alert.

At the end of Catching Fire, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) had been rescued from the arena and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) had been left behind. Katniss is now with the resistance of District Thirteen, under the rule of President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and guidance of Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman). But, she is not willing to just be their face, they need to let her find her leadership, and she does. In the meantime, a whole heap of people die and are injured, and rebellion is happening all over the place.

It’s quite a slow film in that there is a lot of ground to cover. It seems to be the thing to break single books into multiple films and it sometimes works well (Harry Potter) and sometime less so (The Hobbit), but this seems to be a case of needing to split it. The really dark stuff is yet to come, although the end of this film saw the first hints of it. I just wish they didn’t make us wait a whole year for it – I know, I know, it’s all about the money, but I want it NOW!!!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture.

Money Train (1995) Film Review


Ah, these classic nineties cheesy action films! I love them so much! So, the premise of this is probably more ridiculous than most. John (Wesley Snipes) and Charlie (Woody Harrelson) are partners, working to catch pickpockets and the like on the subway system. Oh, and they are brothers – only via foster care, John has always looked after Charlie. Then in comes the extremely attractive new cop, Grace (Jennifer Lopez) who they are both instantly attracted to. John, the good guy, is prepared to step aside for Charlie, but Grace likes John. Then Charlie gets fired, and between that, missing out on Grace and having a massive gambling debt, well, not even his groovy ponytail can keep him going. So he decides that he’d better just rob the moneytrain. And we want him to win because he is charming and lovely, and the big boss, Patterson (Robert Blake) is a nasty so-and-so.

It’s got so much crazy going on, how can you not watch it? There’s the side story that there is a guy trying to set female workers on fire (awful, but the wonderful Chris Cooper was the psycho). The sex scene in which it appears that J-Lo is trying to escape from Snipes, juxtaposed with Woody Harrelson being beaten up. Then there is the piece de resistance… a massive train crash, with two trains, and lots of running and jumping, explosions and the like. It’s fabulous.


Friends With Benefits (2011) Film Review


Jamie (Mila Kunis) works for a head hunting company and just doesn’t have the time or patience for any more relationships that don’t work out. Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is a busy LA web designer who works too hard and his work breaks up his relationships. When he moves to New York, they strike up a friendship. Eventually, they strike upon the idea of having sex, but not letting it ruin their friendship or develop into a relationship. But, and given the genre, this is hardly a surprise, life gets in the way. Will they lose their friendship or end up in love?

I expected this would be awful. I expected it to be cheesy and terrible and really awful for women. But, Kunis came through – I really like her, she often picks good projects and brings the strong a lot. My only real character issue is when they decide to go date again, and of course, Dylan ends up with the crazy chick who growls like a dog and immediately wants to introduce him to her parents. Why, when the point of his issues is that he has trouble committing to girls, so why didn’t this character follow that, instead of bringing the crazy? It’s a cheap laugh, and then given that the Jamie character is a strong woman who is actually allowed to enjoy sex and not be punished for that, why ruin it? But other than that, I was delightfully surprised to enjoy this film a lot.


North Country (2005) Film Review

North Country

After leaving her abusive partner, Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) takes advice from her friend Glory (Frances McDormand) and gets work in the mine. But she finds that the small group of woman who work there are putting up with appalling sexual harassment, from simple comments through to violent acts. Eventually, she can take no more and must try to stand up for herself, but faces the violent anger of the men of the mine who are annoyed and angered by the presence of women in the workplace.

It’s based on a true story, and it is surely impossible to watch this film without becoming angry. So much of the harassment that takes place in the workplace during the film could be seen as just jokes that the women should just laugh off – and indeed, much of the time they do. But it is horrible to watch just how nasty and abusive the men get – and that they feel totally entitled to act like this against the women and have full support of management, right to the top. It’s a heartbreaker of a film with fabulous cast.

North Country was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Charlize Theron) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Frances McDormand).

True Detective – TV Review

True Detective

In the mid-1990s, Detectives Ruse Cole (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) solved the case of a series of ritualistic killings in Louisiana. They are brought back for questioning over fifteen years later when similar events have been discovered. It seems that nothing was ever what it seems.

This was one of the most harrowing and difficult things I’ve sat through. It’s amazing and complex and I marvel at anyone who has been able to watch this as a TV marathon. I found two episodes in a row was the most I could managed at any one time. It was complex and every episode was a journey in itself. Certainly not for those who do not have a strong constitution.