Double Feature: Violet & Daisy (2011) & The Gift (2015)

Welcome to another Double Feature!

Before we start, I’d like to apologize if things are and will be sporadic, they probably will still be for the next week. Real life work that pays the bills is taking a front seat right now and I foresee lots of overtime this week. However, if all goes as planned, there should be an unboxing this week some time and probably some reviews or TV Binge. The material is there, its just finding time and energy to write it up.

Today’s double feature is for Violet and Daisy & The Gift. Thrillers and a little odd. Probably The Gift deserves its own post but its a thriller and I don’t want to spoil it so just keeping it to myself although I’m fairly certain at this point, a ton of you have already seen it since a ton of people praised it when it was first released. Anyways, I finally got around to watching it. Violet and Daisy however is way overdue as I watched that on the train to Toronto for ComiCon so its over a month that I’ve seen it at this point.

Let’s check it out! ūüôā

Violet & Daisy (2011)

violet & daisy

Director (and writer): Geoffrey Fletcher

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel, James Gandolfini, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Danny Trejo

Two teenage assassins accept what they think will be a quick-and-easy job, until an unexpected target throws them off their plan. – IMDB

Violet & Daisy is one odd and quirky movie. The reason for my choosing this movie is completely because I love Alexis Bledel (because of The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants and recently Gilmore Girls) and even more so, Saoirse Ronan who has never disappointed me even if the movie itself is not fascinating. Violet & Daisy may seem disjointed and way too weird for its own good but somehow it works and it has to do with the small but charming cast. Violet & Daisy are young teenage assassins out on a mission. They are each other’s best friends and have each other’s back especially as they fangirl and look forward to the newest fashion line by their favorite designer. It feels like they are everyday teenage girls except when a mission is given, they can also be incredibly brutal and efficient to get rid of their target. Their next mission is sent to kill a man who surprisingly seems like he wants to die and has someone else on his tail. This man who we never learn the name of is played by James Gandolfini and he delivered a wonderful performance as he changes what typically happens in these assassinations situation and in turn, open up Violet & Daisy and as we learn more about his story, we also learn more about Violet and Daisy’s which also puts their friendship or partnership in a dilemma.

Surprises and a pretty clever script gives these characters a lot of life. Even if it is weird and odd at times, there are some great moments and character development here that work really well. Not to mention, some really convincing performances in general. I liked this one a lot.

The Gift (2015)

the gift

Director (and writer): Joel Edgerton

Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Allison Tolman

A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years. – IMDB

The Gift is a tense thriller however, perhaps the best part of it is the way it builds its characters up and fleshes them through with their secrets as the finale unfolds and leaves us cleverly wondering what it all means. The Gift is smart. And yet, because it is best seen with the least amount of knowledge possible, it is very hard to write about.

I can say that The Gift is pretty great. Its a little slow at parts and really dives into building the tension with a lot of quiet moments as we suspect about this suspicious high school friend and re-enters their life and slowly reveals the true nature of these characters and why they are there and how certain things happen for whatever reason. Jason Bateman pulls off a fantastic performance, probably one of my faves. Joel Edgerton does a great role as well.

Its well-planned and executed effectively with some great character development and a finale that will kind of blow your mind and make you think about what it all means.

That’s it for the double feature!
Sorry for the delay!
I’d say to expect this for this week mostly because I don’t have the time I usually would to put these together.¬†
Things will be back to normal next week!

Have you seen these two movies before?

Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia came around a lot faster than I imagined. ¬†I’m going to be honest here and say that it didn’t appeal to me at all from the posters or the snippets that I saw. ¬†My eyes were The Secret Life of Pets, which kind of reminds me a little of Toy Story but with household pets. However, Zootopia is a Disney animation and I love those to bits, even the few not so at par ones over the years. It was time for another theatre viewing! I rounded up my lovely girl friends and we were off for movie night! ūüôā

Let’s check out Zootopia! ūüôā

Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia

Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore & Jared Bush

Voice Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Stu Lakes, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Alan Tudyk, Shakira

In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a fugitive con artist fox and a rookie bunny cop must work together to uncover a conspiracy.-IMDB

¬†Going into Zootopia, its obvious that I had no expectations. ¬†Actually, I didn’t even really know what the story was about. The only thing I knew was animals living like humans. Does that appeal to me? Well, I’m not quite sure. ¬†Will it work out? Who knows, right? I went into Zootopia with one hope in my mind: to have a good fun time. ¬†Did it deliver? HELL YEAH! I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. ¬†It was a funny yet heartfelt movie that I found could relate to both adults and some equally cute moments for kids. ¬†Maybe not too young because some kids next to us started squirming around a little impatiently near the last quarter of the movie.

Zootopia

One of the best parts of Zootopia is its production design.  The city along with its districts are thoughtful and detailed.  The beauty of the animation moving one place to the next in Tundratown, Rainforest District, Zootopia metropolis, down to the little country areas where our main character Judy comes from, Bunny Burrow, reflects what they are trying to get across.  Cities can live together but they also keep to themselves in many ways.  There is still a part of the animal complex that will stick to what they biologically need even if the predator and prey complex is no longer there. And that reflects on our reality as well, in many cases.

Zootopia

Another really fantastic aspect of Zootopia was the voice acting and the character designs. ¬†Most of the characters, especially our main characters, Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps are absolutely endearing. ¬†Watching their friendship/partnership grow despite their differences and prejudices was a pure joy. ¬†They had beautiful and touching and really funny moments. A lot of credit has to go to their talented voice cast. ¬†Ginnifer Goodwin does the voice for Judy Hopps and I like her a lot. ¬†Nick Wilde’s voice was done by Jason Bateman who is becoming an increasingly fave of mine. Not to mention, the Mayor is voiced by J.K. Simmons and one of my fave voices here is Bellwether voiced by Jenny Slate.

Zootopia

Its essential when discussing Zootopia to go right back to talk about the humor and the pacing and the message.  For one, Zootopia is funny.  Many jokes and puns might go over the head of the younger children but they still have some funny expressions that will keep them intrigued.  Plus, they use some pop culture references like The Godfather.  At the same time, there is a lot of action going on.  This is an investigation in the end about missing mammals in Zootopia.  There are chase scenes and danger in the horizon.  At the same time, it also delivers inspirational and motivational messages of accepting diversity, pushing away prejudices, discrimination and stereotypes and chasing your dreams even when everyone thinks its impossible.

Zootopia

I’m forgiving towards Disney movies and animations, especially because they are usually geared towards children. ¬†Zootopia doesn’t need to be forgived though. ¬†I’m not sure it will hold up that 99% Rotten Tomatoes score as a memorable Disney classic but it does a lot of things right. ¬†The animation is beautiful, the production design is detailed and thoughtful, the voice acting is stellar and the characters are fun and intriguing. ¬†Its downright entertaining with lots of funny moments and a meaningful message to go with it. ¬†I loved it! It gave me exactly what I wanted and some more.

Have you seen Zootopia? What did you think of it?

Netflix A-Z: Identity Thief (2013)

Moving right along, we hit the I selection. ¬†You know, these are pretty slim pickings. ¬†I, Q, X, you know. ¬†My second round is proving to have some holes where I’m waiting for some interesting selections to pop up. I’m taking chances on some pretty funky stuff for some of these letters. I can only hope I’ll find some treasures. ¬†However, there was no doubt that the first round for I would be this choice, Identity Thief. ¬†I’ve been looking at it for a while. ¬†I just hesitate because Melissa McCarthy’s humor doesn’t always work for me.

Let’s stay positive and give this a go! ūüôā

Identity  Thief (2013)

identity thief

Director: Seth Gordon

Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, John Cho, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, T.I., Genesis Rodriguez, Robert Patrick

Mild mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Florida to confront the deceptively harmless looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy’s identity. – IMDB

I always start reviews on comedy genre movies saying that is fully subjective. The humor I appreciate might work for me and not you and vice versa. ¬†Melissa McCarthy falls into the category of not working so often because she always goes into the absurd stupid humor. ¬†I like absurd. I watched Stephen Chow growing up but I don’t like stupid. So there was a 50/50 chance of this not working. ¬†Even the director himself is a hit and miss on my book. ¬†Seth Gordon did Horrible Bosses which I enjoyed but he also did Four Christmases which I dislike. Now that I’ve kind of cushioned where this movie could be a hit or miss, I would like to say that this was for the most part a miss.

Identity Thief

Identity Thief was mostly really hard to get invested into. I’m not saying I didn’t laugh a little because there were some parts that worked and I kind of chuckled here and there. ¬†Then the humor was kind of weird and absurd (in a bad way) and pretty stupid. ¬†Melissa McCarthy does certain troupes that don’t always work and for me, it worked only a little here and there but for the most part, it felt like its been there done that and I just felt a little repulsed by it. Other times, it just felt so boring that I tried to stay focused but went off to flip through other pages as I surfed the Internet and it played in the background. Like that scene below was really ugh…like I turned my head in disgust and just didn’t enjoy it. ¬†I understand how for some it could be funny but it didn’t make me laugh. ¬†It was just kind of cringe-worthy.

identity thief

Set some uneffective jokes aside, as a road trip movie, which it is because Jason Bateman’s character Sandy has to bring Diana (Melissa McCarthy) home from Florida to Denver within a set time frame, they both do have charisma for the characters they play. ¬†They have certain expected things that happen and their dislike for each other and just fight for survival does lead them to do things that can be classified as adventurous or ridiculous. ¬†While I sympathize for Sandy a little more, its hard to not notice that the story did want us to connect with Diana more because they do try to build a back story for her. ¬†For a moment, it almost did pull me in but at a certain point, not funny just got annoying and it just stopped me from caring about them. ¬†I get the urgency and the hate and whatever relationship they have, but it just didn’t work so well.

Identity Thief

The parts in the movie I did like was really the more action comedy parts with the two up there who work for a crime boss or gang or something and they are after Diana for something she owes them. It still has some comedic value to these characters but they added a bit of entertainment that gave a break from Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman and their jokes. ¬†It added some danger and intensity (just a bit). ¬†They had some funny bits along with another “bounty hunter”-esque sort of fellow played by¬†Robert Patrick who was actually more fun to watch than the other ones.

Honestly, I’m out of stuff to say about Identity Thief. ¬†It was okay. ¬†I’m a little indifferent but mostly just bored because its the same old troupes that I expected. ¬†I still think Jason Bateman can be a very funny guy when given the right script. ¬†Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing for Melissa McCarthy but her performance always stands out more because its more explicit and/or absurd. ¬†There are a few laughs here but I’m sure in a few days it’ll completely escape my mind and I won’t remember it anymore. ¬†If I wanted to watch a good road trip movie, I’d rather watch something like Little Miss Sunshine and if I wanted a better comedy, I’d go for a thousand other choices like Horrible Bosses even.

Did you see Identity Thief? What are your thoughts? Do you like comedies with Jason Bateman or Melissa McCarthy?

J is up next! What do you think it is? Hint: Irish drama

Double Feature: 21 (2008) & Hancock (2008)

At the end of March, there was a whole bunch of movies expiring on Netflix. ¬†It was ridiculous. ¬†So, in an effort to minimize backlog, here’s a double feature. ¬†Plus, I’ve been slacking off on reviews. ¬†I’m a little late on today’s post as well since as my vlog earlier this week explained, moving weekend. I have only a little moving but there’s a whole lot of spring prep and organizing plus, finally some nice weather today. ¬†13 degrees Celsius felt like summer after two months of -30 Celsius weather. That’s probably why EVERYONE was out! Anyways, no complaints!

Moving along…

The first two I saw¬†my list to expire was 21 and Hancock. ¬†I remember 21 only because one of my friends was madly in love with Jim Sturgess at the time this came out in theatres back in 2008 and she was so excited to go see this. ¬†I didn’t go with her but somehow this movie stuck in my head, although there was a time I confused this with 21 Grams, which is a completely different story. ¬†It had nothing to do with each other.

Either way, lets check out these two 2008 movies!

21 (2008)

21

Director: Robert Luketic

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Yoo, Liza Lapira, Josh Gad

“21” is the fact-based story about six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings. – IMDB

I’m just going to write this. ¬†I’ve written and rewritten how to begin this review for the fourth time now. Why? Its because after 2 weeks of seeing this, I’m still really in between on what I feel about this. ¬†I disliked the length. ¬†It just dragged on and on, trying to pile on drama and relationships and whatever else. ¬†Seriously, it didn’t need that. ¬†My guess it was to better understand each of the character’s and the role they play, especially with the main character, Ben, played by Jim Sturgess. ¬†I hate it when I watch movies that are like that because I think they could condense it by like 30 minutes and build the intensity properly to get it moving along to where it all matters. But it didn’t do that and its a shame.

21

21 has a great cast. ¬†Jim Sturgess is really good at Ben, math genius, aspiring doctor, financially struggling student, and then adding on the natural counting cards ability. ¬†He grabs the role really well. ¬†Then we have Laurence Fishburne in the supporting “villain” role because he’s just the guy who is trying to keep his job going because of his abilities to catch people trying to con the casino with whatever tricks. ¬†Then behind this whole counting cards crew is their leader, professor and pass√© counting cards “master”, Prof Mickey Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey. ¬†Let me tell you, Kevin Spacey is a kick-ass actor. ¬†I’m sure I don’t need to tell many of you but I think of everything that he’s done (that I’ve seen), I don’t think there’s been one disappointing role. ¬†On the flip side, I’m oddly a fan of Aaron Yoo. ¬†He’s not in a lot of movies but somehow, he’s pretty whacky in what he does. ¬†I like his vibe, I guess. ¬†Nothing significant but just thought I’d mention it.

21

So, while the story was poorly executed, the length was ridiculous, the cast was great and the concept of this story (which is inspired by true events) is pretty fun. ¬†This makes it sadly average. ¬†I wish it was better. All it had to do was cut the drama. ¬†That’s really strange coming from me, because usually I kind of like drama and romance but it just felt so pointless.

 Hancock (2008)

hancock

Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Eddie Marsan

Hancock is a superhero whose ill considered behavior regularly causes damage in the millions. He changes when one person he saves helps him improve his public image. – IMDB

I’ve gained a really incredible love for superheroes. ¬†Not that I didn’t before but I only knew about Superman, Batman and Spiderman. ¬†Its not what I grew up watching but now that’s all changed, which is a great thing. ¬†Plus, I used to be pretty impressed with Will Smith. I’ve skipped pretty much everything since I am Legend. ¬†Hancock was released around that time more or less, maybe a year difference. ¬†I only remember this one because I remember my best friend seeing it and telling me it was decent. ¬†Still, I wasn’t convinced for some weird reason.

Seeing it for myself the other night, the beginning sequence was a little iffy. ¬†I’m going to be honest. ¬†I almost wanted to shut it off after the first 10 minutes. ¬†Hancock seemed REALLY over the top. ¬†Like, they were trying too hard to make him an anti-hero because he’s just incredibly destructive and yet he doesn’t seem to think anything is wrong with it. That’s a little weird also.

hancock

But, it does turn around. ¬†The turning point has to be Jason Bateman entering the scene as Ray, a guy that he saved and wanted to help him be seen as a hero while hopefully changing his image. ¬†Of course, this is where there’s a tad bit of sarcasm and some destruction, a little difference in opinions and some action plus a little bit of laughs from all that mixed together. It changes the dynamics a little and that helps. ¬†I found Jason Bateman’s character really enjoyable to watch.

The story is a little all over the place though. ¬†It starts at this weird vibe for Hancock as a character that really doesn’t seem like a hero and then gives him some dude that convinces and tries to create a new image and then they add in a twist that really was out of nowhere. ¬†Which worked well as a surprise thing. ¬†It felt out of place but it did give his character of Hancock some substance and origin story and that works.

While it could have been better, I did get a few laughs from it. ¬†I’m not so sure about Hancock as a superhero but I totally think Jason Bateman was great and there’s also supporting role by Charlize Theron and we all know there’s nothing to criticize about her. And that second half (or maybe third) was pretty good. ūüôā

OVERALL…these 2008 films were rather average. ¬†Both are watchable but both were flawed in their own way. It makes me think, what else was released in 2008? I’ll have to research that a little ūüėČ

Have you seen 21 or Hancock? Did you like either one of these? 

Hope everyone has enjoyed Good Friday! ūüôā

P.S. Movie reviews slacking ends now! This long weekend, other than moving, Fast and Furious marathon and first Disney theme: everything Snow White! ūüėČ