I thought I’d do something a little bit different on the blog this year, a post all about the movies I’ve watched each month (I’d include TV shows in there as well but I can’t for the life of me remember what I’ve watched TV wise!).
January is practically made for sitting around a TV, eating leftover chocolate from Christmas, watching a movie. I have this habit of watching good movies and, once it gets to halfway through the year, I have no idea what I’ve even watched. With that in mind, I thought I’d start this tradition of blogging about movies I’ve watched. Not only will it be useful for me to look back on when the years up, it might just give you some inspiration on what to watch next.
I’m a big movie fan, and writing about movies during Blogtober (I wrote about Last Christmas (2019) , That Awkward Moment (2014) , Ingrid Goes West (2017) , The Perfect Date (2019) , Fractured (2019) and Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)) made me realise that reviewing films is just as exciting as watching them.
So, before you switch off, here’s the movies I watched in January (I’ll include a summary, my thoughts and a star rating out of 5):
Jojo Rabbit (2020)
Directed by Taika Waititi
A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.
On the face of it, this film shouldn’t work. A few seconds in, we see the title character chanting “Heil Hitler!” in his room, only to be told by Hitler himself that he’s just not doing it right. This isn’t one of those dodgy propaganda pieces, despite nods to the Hitler youth, the propaganda machine and the Nazis hatred of Jews, far from it.
Taika Waititi takes an area of history we are all familiar with, in various capacities, and brings it back to our consciousness in a way that is bleak, horrifying but also sensitive, funny and sad.
There are several stand out performances in this film, firstly Roman Griffiths Davis as Jojo. Jojo Rabbit is his acting debut but, honestly, it felt like I was watching someone who’s been acting for years. Secondly, I have to mention Taika Waititi. Not only did he direct and write the film, he also played Hitler brilliantly. He was part evil dictator, part funny man and there were several parts in the film when he made me cry with laughter! I also thought Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell were brilliant as Jojo’s mother, Rosie, and Captain Klenzendorf. There’s even a brief part played by Stephen Merchant, and Rebel Wilson and Alfie Allen also appear in the film.
It was good that Waititi showed all sides of this part of history, the excitement and adrenaline which came with being part of something big, the absurd customs and expectations under such a regime and the heartbreak and brutality that came with the regime and the war.
I liked that it was serious when it needed to be, but also hilarious. Great choice for the first movie of 2020 and I’m glad it’s getting the recognition it deserves in the award ceremonies.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. 5 stars
Little Monsters (2019)
Directed by Abe Forsythe
A washed up musician teams up with a teacher and a kids show personality to protect young children from a sudden zombie outbreak.
I heard this movie was coming to Sky last year but, for some reason, I never got round to watching it. Thankfully, I got to watch it last month and I’m glad I did. This is by no means as great as Shaun of the Dead (one of my favourite movies of all time), or as funny as the Zombieland franchise, but it’s still good enough to take its place in the zombie-comedy genre (maybe zom-com considering there’s some romance in it, too?). Alexander England leads the cast as Dave, a musician who’s down on his luck, freshly dumped and living with his sister and her son.
I loved the humour in this film. It was just so quick and clever.
Lupita N’yongo is brilliant as the colourful, musical Miss Caroline and I loved seeing Josh Gaad play a character that is so unlike his other roles, too. Plus the kids in the film were all great actors as well, at once scared (as you would be) and hilarious (especially the kid who wants to play crazy golf the entire film).
I liked the element of romance in the film, too. I think zombie films are something all action no humanity but this one showed us that, even in an apocalypse, people can still feel very human emotions and desires. I think the romance between the two main characters was sweet, if somewhat predictable.
The film was funny, gore-filled with some heart in there. It was a pretty chilled, switch your brain off kind of movie, perfect for the month of the year when your brain goes into overdrive.
Directed by Guy Ritchie
A street urchin named Aladdin vies for the love of Princess Jasmine. When he finds a magic lamp, he makes it his mission (with help of a genie) to get the princess to fall in love with him…whilst Jafar wants the lamp for his own evil plans.
I’ve already seen this film before. As soon as it came out last year I had to see it. Disney has jumped on the remaking the classics bandwagon and, in the case of Aladdin, it paid off. Whilst this doesn’t hold the same memories for me as the original, I think it’s cool to say that I’ve seen the film reimagined.
My main worry when the movie came out was about the songs. I have fond memories of prancing about my grandparents house playing in my Grandma’s dressing up box, singing the much loved songs from the film. Luckily, they kept the songs I love in the movie and I think Will Smith’s take on those sung by the genie injected fun and a modern twist that the film needed. I also loved the addition of Speechless, sung beautifully by Naomi Scott, a song that added a little something extra to her character. Plus, the choreography for all the songs was magical.
Casting was really important for this film. The original Disney cartoon was part of my childhood, so there was a lot riding on who they chose to take on these iconic roles. Luckily, I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the casting. Mena Massoud took on the titular role, and he was very good. He gelled with the other characters well and brought the confidence that we know and love Aladdin for. Naomi Scott was feisty, loving and passionate as Jasmine. I’ve also got to commend Will Smith as the genie. Robin Williams was, and remains, iconic for this role in the original so Smith had big shoes to fill. Luckily, he was weird and wonderful, funny and fantastic, without trying to take the place of Williams or mimic his version of the character. I’ll also mention Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, I was terrified of the original Jafar and this sense of horror and fascination around his character remained for me.
The setting was incredible. I was wowed by the richness and detail in the original version but, under the direction of Guy Ritchie, this version was even more exciting. I loved walking through the streets with Aladdin, taking in the sights around him, I loved his little home overlooking the city and I loved the beautiful, extravagant palace. I also loved how the nightmarish cave scene was brought to life, Ritchie gave it a gritty edge.
I always loved the romance between Aladdin and Jasmin in the original film. A big worry for me was that it wouldn’t translate on the screen but, thankfully, it did. Even though it was kind of annoying and meet-cute-esque, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this story all over again.
Guy Ritchie takes us to a whole new world, full of romance, excitement and humour. The perfect movie if you’re in need of a little bit of magic.
The Gentlemen (2020)
Directed by Guy Ritchie
An American expat tries to sell his marijuana empire in London, leading to plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail.
I went into this film more or less blind. I’d seen the odd promo video and poster on the bus but, largely, I had little idea what I was in for. What I was greeted with was a sweary, gritty, gangster film with a sensitive, humorous edge.
I’m not an action movie fan but, thankfully, this wasn’t your typical action film. Yes, there were high speed vehicles, guns and women involved but Ritchie cleverly weaved stories and characters together so this movie felt like it had more depth.
The cast was outstanding. I’m not just saying that because the majority of the cast are actors that are too old for me to fancy, I was blown away by them. Charlie Hunnam was brilliant as unassuming but ruthless Ray, Matthew McCounaughey was badass and brutal but the standout performance was Hugh Grant as Fletcher. I’ve seen a lot of Hugh Grant films but this was one of his best performances, he led the film so well and his camp and comedic performance kept me interested when I thought I’d given up with watching.
What was impressive about the film was how clever it was. There were so many twists and turns and hidden bits so – just when I thought I figured it out – there was another curveball.
This film also showed how impressive of a director Guy Ritchie is, as he can go from the streets of Agrabah to the grittier streets of London. I think he really made sure the film stood out from others of the same genre, by framing it around Hugh Grant’s character telling his own story, talking about movies and even through the inclusion of kids on smartphones.
Ritchie transports us to a world of weed, wit and the inner workings of gangs. If action movies aren’t your thing, at least watch it for Hugh Grant.
Directed by Steve Pink
Bartleby is rejected by all the colleges he applied to. To get his overly-expectant parents off his back, he creates his own institution with his friends.
I’d never even heard of this film before I found it one day trawling through Netflix but, sometimes when you look far enough, you end up finding something you’ve missed that’s worth watching. That was the case with this film.
Justin Long heads the cast on this one, playing his usual bumbling, but somehow attractive, cool-nerd character. Alongside him is Jonah Hill, playing the funny, fat friend he’s known for playing since Superbad. In the traditional person-the-lead-and-everyone-else-fancies part was Blake Lively (who I’m pretty sure doesn’t age!).
It was cool to centre the movie around college, how important it is (to students and parents) to get in and how good it feels once you’re there even if, inevitably, not much learning actually takes place. It was good to see this dynamic in various ways, as you had the über rich in the best colleges and the outcasts in the abandoned hospital-cum-college that Long and Hill’s characters create.
The film wasn’t funny 24/7, but it definitely did provide some laughs.
It wasn’t a film I’d watch again but Accepted was ideal for a post-busy week movie.
Directed by Justin Dec
When a nurse downloads an app which claims to predict the moment you will die, she must find a way to save her life…before time runs out.
When this film was advertised, I wanted to see it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure why, I didn’t get round to experiencing this film at the cinema. Luckily, I was able to add this to my list of ‘films I watched in January’. I have a love-hate relationship with tense, scary films. At once I love the anticipation of being scared but I hate the moment you experience the fright alongside the character. Thankfully, Countdown wasn’t that scary. There were a few moments I (admittedly) had to watch from behind a cushion but, overall, it didn’t go big on the scary parts.
It was cool that the movie centred around something so many of us rely on, take for granted and (most likely) use too much: phone apps. Even though old horror-thrillers are good in their own ways, it’s good that Countdown brought us a horror so rooted in the twenty-first century. I didn’t know whether I was baffled about the way people were dying because of the app or the fact that people – knowing they’d more than likely face an untimely death – were downloading it in the first place.
The film centred on a few characters, which was a nice change from the usual Final Destination type films that have your head spinning with the amount of characters you have to keep track of, the main character being Quinn Harris (played by Elizabeth Lail). Quinn had the traditional sad backstory but, despite this character arc, she was also sensible and rarely had me shouting “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” at the screen. I wasn’t sure I liked her at the start but, by the end of the film, I found myself rooting for her. It was interesting how they paralleled the trouble in her latest job role (her colleague’s inappropriate behaviour towards her) with the ticking-down clock on her phone, warning her that her time’s nearly up.
It was a little bit predictable at times, and I felt like certain aspects didn’t need to be in there, but it was watchable.
It wasn’t the best horror/thriller I’ve ever seen but it definitely wasn’t the worst. The film ended in a way that makes me think there could be a sequel on the way and, honestly, I wouldn’t mind if there was. Interesting concept, even if it was a little bit cliche.
Ideal Home (2018)
Directed by Andrew Fleming
A couple’s life is turned upside down when a ten year old boy turns up at their doorstep, claiming to be one of their grandsons.
This is one of those films I didn’t know about until I found it, browsing Netflix one day. Sometimes, it’s films like this that turn out to be good ones, which was definitely the case with this one. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, having not even heard of the film before, but I was pleasantly surprised when I started watching.
Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd play Erasmus and Paul, a couple who’s lives revolve around working, throwing dinner parties and living the most extravagant lives they can. You can tell instantly that there’s underlying tensions between them, something which becomes worse when Bill arrives, but I think it was good that they didn’t start with a great dynamic in the first place – as the relationships only developed and grew throughout the film.
I’m not a big fan of Coogan but, in this film, I thought he was brilliant. He was very English, very camp, but extremely funny and I loved the way he gelled with Paul Rudd. I’ve only ever seen Paul Rudd in either serious or comedic roles so it was weird, but great, to see him in this role combining the two. I wasn’t sure if the two would work, considering the other things I’ve seen them in, but they honestly did. Plus, when Bill (Jack Gore) got involved in the dynamic, I loved how the relationships changed and formed.
The story was good, if somewhat predictable, and there were funny and sensitive moments throughout. It’s not the best, or funniest, comedy I’ve ever seen but it definitely had some laughs and heart.
So that’s it for January movies! Have you seen any of these movies? What have you been watching? Let’s chat all things film in the comments….🎥