Review – Molly’s Game

A film I’ve had my eye on for a while now is Molly’s Game. This one takes a look at the life of ‘Poker Princess’ Molly Bloom, who made millions off the back of illicit poker games in LA and New York.

Well, I really liked it. Some of the thoughts I’ve seen haven’t been quite so complimentary towards this film, but while it had it’s flaws, none of these posed any major issue for me, which isn’t bad considering this is the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin. I thought it told a great story about a woman who learned all she could about something and then made a life for herself out of it. Fair enough, as time went by, the dream fell apart a bit, but hopefully you get the gist of what I’m saying. If I’m completely honest, I personally found Molly’s Game as empowering, if not more so than Wonder Woman thanks to the film’s glorious protagonist.

Jessica Chastain is going to win an Oscar one day. Whether it’ll be for her performance as Molly Bloom, however, I’m not sure. She was delightful as the character, and I think she made it clear that the games were not about greed for Molly – at least, that wasn’t the sole motive. Chastain really humanised her and made it easy for you to not only like her, but to also admire what she achieved. I’d love to see some Academy recognition for her here, but I don’t think the film has had quite enough momentum behind it in order for her to get it.

Idris Elba actually played a blinder here as Charlie Jeffery. I say that as though I think the man’s a terrible actor – he absolutely is not. However, I don’t think he gets the same kind of quality roles on the big screen as he does on TV. With this film though, I think Elba put in what I suspect could very well be one of this year’s most underrated performances (an early shout, I know). He had some mega scenes as Charlie that showcased his talents superbly.

It was nice to see Kevin Costner back in a good film. I’ve got bit of a soft spot for the guy seeing as he played Robin Hood in one of my favourite childhood films. Him and Chastain shared one of my favourite scenes in the whole movie – one that has come under fire massively from some viewers. Yes, you have to question how he came to find Molly in New York as he did, but if you can get past that I think you can truly appreciate what a wonderful scene the two shared.

At the heart of this film is a fascinating true story. The mind boggles as to who some of the people involved in these games were. Some theories have emerged and I’ve a few suspicions of my own as to who may have taken part in Molly’s games, but part of the magic of this film is that the way it presents some of it’s characters does allow you to speculate quite a bit.

People who aren’t poker players (like myself) might fear that the film could go over their heads if it delves too deeply into the rules of the game. I didn’t find my lack of poker knowledge to be a huge disadvantage, although there was the odd scene where I got slightly lost. Nonetheless, I would urge you not to be put off if you think the same thing might happen to you – it really didn’t make much difference to my experience of the film.

I have to say that Molly’s Game is a winner for me. Chastain proves to us once again what a monster talent she is, and Elba gifts us with a dark horse performance. Both of these pair together to tell an intriguing story that held my attention from start to finish. Sorkin has done a wonderful job with his directorial debut, and I’d be very interested to see what he brings to us in future.

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I watched London Has Fallen… bloody hell!


When the English prime minister dies, many of the world’s leaders gather in London to attend his funeral, only for the city come under siege from terrorists.
Following the mysterious death of British PM James Wilson, all leaders of the Western world must attend his funeral in London. Presidential bodyguard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) sees the event as a huge risk, but President Ben Asher (Aaron Eckhart) has to go, so he must protect him. Just as predicted, the funeral goers come under fire from just about every direction and whatever plans they had for paying their respects go tits up. Many are killed, but one who is unaccounted for is the U.S. president.

I watched London Has Fallen, and it was laughably bad. The film was a cliche-ridden mess that took up almost two hours of my precious time and left me quite disappointed with a number of the actors who starred in it. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to inflict it on myself, but I did, and I’ve regretted it ever since.

If someone held a gun to my head and said I had to find one positive about this film, I’d say the cast. There are a few good actors in the film, although I do question my stance on them after seeing this. I didn’t particularly like any of the performances. All were very generic and kind of typical of every kind of film this was trying to be. I’ve come to the conclusion that Gerard Butler should do what Matthew McConaughey did around 2010 and just disappear for a few years. Let’s face it, he’s not been in anything that’s been worth watching for a long time, and given the next few films he’s going to star in, that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. His performance as Mike Banning was cringe-worthy at best, feeling more like every impression of John McClane that has ever been done.

The story had many downfalls. Where shall I start? Well, it ripped off so many other films for a start. It was also massively unrealistic. I know this is something that could be said for most action films but just hear me out for a second. What criminal or terrorist organisation do you know of that has a video game-style supply of bad guys? There was literally no end of them throughout the whole film. There were a number of other major issues besides this one, but I’ve done my best to forget about them.

Let’s just take a moment to discuss that glorious CGI before I wrap this one up. The effects used in this film have me convinced the every element of this production was competing against each other just to see what could be crowned the worst part of it. Had the explosions and helicopter crashes been the least bit convincing, London Has Fallen might just have been slightly bearable. However, they were not, and so I must pan them like I have done almost every other part of the film.

I will not be recommending London Has Fallen to anybody anytime soon. I would say the film was shite, but I fear that would be overselling it. Why does Hollywood think that this is what the world needs? On a brighter note though, I suppose we don’t need to worry about too many more of these films coming out for now because I think they only ever get made when the world likes the leader at the heart of the story. Anyway, those are my thoughts, shared with you guys so that you don’t have to endure the same experience I did with this film.

Top Of The Lake is a top show


When a pregnant twelve year old girl seemingly tries to drown herself in a lake and then goes missing, New Zealand police must track her down and work out who the father of the baby is.
Tui Mitchum (Jacqueline Joe) is found standing in a freezing lake one morning whilst a school bus is passing. She’s taken straight to the school nurse, who is shocked to discover that Tui is pregnant. Tui is taken to the local police station where she is interviewed by Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) and then taken home, only to disappear shortly after. Robin knows that time is not on Tui’s side, and nor are the weather conditions. She must fight to find Tui as soon as possible, whilst also confronting some of her own demons from her past.

Top Of The Lake is a show that felt like it took the world by storm when it first aired in 2013. There seemed to be an awful lot of people kicking up a fuss about it when it premiered on BBC2 back then. It would seem that I am quite late in only jumping on the bandwagon with this one now. However, I’ve finally watched the show, and I have to say that whilst I was quite impressed by it, I can’t quite figure out why Top Of The Lake heralded such a dramatic response from people as I thought it was good, but not exactly mind-blowing.

I liked most of the characters in the show, and I thought the performances that went into them were pretty decent. Elisabeth Moss had a fair old crack at a New Zealand accent so at least the show didn’t fall on it’s face there. She played a good part as Robin. I liked the strength she showed, but also the fragility that lay not far beneath the surface of her character. 

David Wenham played Al Parker. He was the top dog at the police station that was the hub for the investigation. There was something dodgy about him from the start, but the way Wenham played Al meant that you kind of kept coming back to the idea that he might actually be an okay guy. It was hard to gage exactly what side he was on throughout the whole series, and then things took a real turn in the final 20 minutes of the last episode that confirmed who he was was. I liked Wenham’s performance all the way through because I never really knew where I stood with his character, and I personally think that’s always a good feeling for an audience to experience.

Alongside the characters, the main story was one of the strongest elements of the show for me. There were a few twists that I think worked really well and didn’t feel as though they had just been thrown in for the sake of being there. One thing that did cause me an issue was the subplot involving the womens’ cult. That didn’t come together as well for me as some of the other subplots did. I didn’t really see where that fit into the rest of the show, and I think it could easily have been discarded. However, it didn’t detract from the rest of the show, so I won’t complain too much.

One last thing I would like to mention is the scenery. It’s something that has a place in a lot of TV and film productions that take place in New Zealand, but it’s always so beautiful. In this show, it kind of became another character as well because so much of the investigation at the heart of the story hinged on the environment. It’s not hard to see why so many films choose to shoot there because it is glorious to look at.

So, Top Of The Lake – would I recommend it? I think so. It was a good TV show – definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen on the BBC lately (let’s face it, the last few years has seen a lot of absolutely garbage come from them) – and it felt really solidly made. I do believe that China Girl, the second season, will be as good as this one. It doesn’t feel like a fluke, if that makes sense. Anyway, if you haven’t seen Top Of The Lake and have a gap in your TV schedule, give it a bash. 

This film ain’t Filth


A corrupt, drug addicted cop with mental health issues attempts to beat his colleagues to a promotion in a bid to win back his wife and daughter.
Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is a bent copper who is up for a promotion, and he will stop at nothing to ensure he gets it. One by one, he singles out his competition and finds a way he can get them all to jeopardise their chances of success. The reason for his desperation to come out on top is that his wife and daughter left him, and he believes that this is the way to win them back. However, slowly but surely, all the secrets he’s exposing come back to haunt him, and Bruce risks losing himself in the web he’s spun.

Filth is a film that has been on my radar for a while. I remember reading rave reviews when it came out, and a lot of people I know have really enjoyed it. It made me laugh a lot, and while I wasn’t entirely sure what exactly to make of the film for the first half, by the time it had finished, I was very happy I’d watched it.

Where is James McAvoy’s Oscar at? Not only for this film, but for a few he’s been in. He’s a wicked actor, and quickly becoming a favourite of mine. He was phenomenal as Bruce, and it was evident where some of the inspiration for his role(s) in Split had come from. I loved how unhinged he was. You never knew what was coming next, and I think this made his performance so much more authentic than if he’d have been down all the time. His energy levels varied constantly and it really was brilliant to watch. McAvoy headed up a really great cast, actually. He was joined by Imogen Poots, Emun Elliott, Gary Lewis, Jim Broadbent, and a favourite of mine from Ray Donovan, Eddie Marsan. Altogether, it was a knockout line-up that made for a bunch of performances that were terrific to watch.

The humour that is heavily drizzled all over this film is very funny and very dark, which is another reason I enjoyed the film so much. There were countless times I couldn’t breathe for laughing that hard. It was exactly my sense of humour (which if you didn’t know involves getting the giggles over a lot of things that a person really shouldn’t get the giggles over), and it was fairly unrelenting. There never seemed to be a very long dry spell in between the laughs, and even then the drama or the story thrived anyway. The actual narrative was one that was quite interesting, and I think it made a few little twists and turns that I can’t say I saw coming. It also combined all the things that were tormenting Bruce and was able to present them to you in a way where it all kind of came to head at same time as it did for our protagonist. This is a film that has been very well done, and I can see now why a lot of people loved it so much.

On the whole, I can only recommend Filth to you. It was a very dark comedy with a bit of the more dramatic material thrown in for good measure. The two elements came together in a way that I think has been the best I’ve seen in a while, striking a good balance in an intriguing story that is told by an awesome lead performance. If you’re yet to see this, do something about that as soon as you can, because as far as I’m concerned, you’re missing out.

Trust Me… it’s worth watching


When a nurse is fired for whistle-blowing, she has to take drastic action to provide for her and her daughter.
Catherine Hardacre (Jodie Whittaker) was a good nurse in a crumbling healthcare system. However, whilst trying to carry out her duties with integrity, she rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way, and this eventually cost her her job. In a bid to prove herself, she steals the identity of an old friend and poses as a doctor in Edinburgh, away from her home town of Sheffield, with the big question being this – how long can she survive in the huge lie she’s spun?

When I saw that the BBC was bringing out yet another medical drama, I rolled my eyes so hard that they nearly fell out of my head. I just wasn’t feeling it. Of course, my mum had said the words, ‘Oh, that could be quite good,’ which basically translates to, ‘We’re watching that whether you like it or not,’ so I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. However, as much as it pains me to say it, mum did us a favour with this one. It was actually quite a bit better than I thought it would be, which has been a hard thing to say with new BBC dramas of late.

Doctor Who fans have a lot to look forward to if Jodie Whittaker is half as good as the Time Lord as she was as Cath here. You got a real sense of the desperation her character was experiencing, and this got better as time went by and the whole lie she was living unraveled. I liked the other characters who were placed into her story too. Andy Brenner and Brigette Rayne, played by Emun Elliott and Sharon Small respectively, both piled the pressure onto Cath, and were two figures who I think really enhanced the story. They were well written into it, and that is probably one of the things that made this show as good as it was.

The characters weren’t the only thing that was well written. The actual storyline itself was very good, and ratcheted up the tension nicely. There were so many things that could’ve gone wrong for Cath, and it was because of this that you could never be sure of when things were going to come crashing down for her. The short run of the show (which consisted only of four hour-long episodes) massively helped this side of things. This allowed so much scope for when exactly Cath could be found because it would’ve been very easy to make a story to fit. It was nice for them to not drag the show out until viewers zoned out for once.

On the whole, I enjoyed watching Trust Me. It was a lot better than I had thought it was going to be. This was largely down to the wonderful lead performance, but also the terrific writing that went into creating this show. Not only did it make for great prime time viewing, but with a bit of luck it has marked a turning point for the BBC after a string of productions that have been less than brilliant. If you didn’t catch the show, I’d recommend you rectify that as soon as possible because it was well worth seeing.

One Sentence Synopsis – The Results!

Okay, so earlier in the week I put out a one sentence summary of a film and asked you guys to to guess what film it was describing. This is the line I gave you –

A cop and a gangster switch sides in order to gain information on each other’s organisation.

And the film was, of course, The Departed, as guessed by the following people:

Marcus (The Marcko Guy)

Drew (Drew’s Movie Reviews)

Tom (Plain, Simple Tom Reviews)

Rob (MovieRob)

Paul (That Film Geek Site)

Alice

Thanks to everyone for getting involved, and well done to you guys for getting it right, even though it really wasn’t the most challenging I could have come up with (I need to get better at this). Next week I’m going to make sure it isn’t so easy, so you have been warned (although I seem to say this every week…). This Wednesday coming will bring the next round to you all, so I’ll see you again then.

One Sentence Synopsis – The Results!

Okay, so earlier in the week I put out a one sentence summary of a film and asked you guys to to guess what film it was describing. This is the line I gave you –

A business owner during the war worries for his workforce after seeing the persecution they suffer.

And the film was, of course, Schindler’s List, as guessed by the following people:

Carl (Listening To Film)

Tim (T Knight Reviews)

Becky

Tom (Plain, Simple Tom Reviews)

Rob (MovieRob)

The AFI 100 (The AFI 100)

Darren (Movie Reviews 101)

Wendell (Dell On Movies)

Robb (Red Bezzle Brand)

Thanks to everyone who joined in, and well done for getting it right. Either you guys really know your films  or I’m just not very good at coming up with the rounds each week. Ah well, see you again for the next round on Wednesday!