The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Tag: Movie Review

S & J Double Blind Movie Review. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. August 13, 2015


Sheila’s Take

Sumptuous, warm, sexy.  I loved this.  My experience of the movie was thoroughly enjoyable.  I love the 60’s stylized silhouettes and the camera shots – especially close ups of Napoleon Solo’s face, half in shadow, highlighting his piercing blue eyes.

Be still my heart.

I never saw Superman, or whatever that dude (Solo) was in – Man of Steel, I guess?  Or was he the horse in Man of War? Very fit.  I was surprised that I enjoyed the 60’s cuts that captured the TV show’s style – the odd angles and the sort of rough outlines of the action sequences were well paced and fun.  Slightly confusing in some moments, and slightly redundant in others.  Just like the TV show.

Hugh Grant was good – it’s strange to see him as a distinguished older man, and I almost didn’t buy it, but he sold it.  It took me longer to warm up to the guy who played Kuriyakin, but anyone looking for simple fun and fulfilling entertainment will enjoy this.

I’m glad they retained Solo’s dry sense of humor and his desire to work alone.  I do, however, miss Kuriyakin’s tow-headed blondness. I liked that someone took the time to make sure that there were some strong female roles in this, too, It was nice that not all of the female characters were completely predictable.

Overall, I’d give this an 8 out of 10 – 2 points (at least) for the entertaining action sequences the flaw (or not) of which was that I found myself thinking about the score and music choices that were very prominent and distinctive – drawing focus, but in a very enjoyable way.

Since this is our first Double Blind Review, I’ll explain this part: at the end of our individual reviews, we will rate the movie on a 1-10 scale and guess the rating of the other reviewer.  We see the movies together, so we do have some clues.

My guess: Jay gives this a 7 – mostly because he is nostalgic about the TV show and can’t see the forest for the trees. There are 8 tress, and that’s my rating.  Thanks for reading.  Jay’s review to follow. – Sheila Path McMahon


Jay’s Take

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., from guy Ritchie, is everything you’d expect from the man who turned Robert Downey Jr. into Sherlock Holmes (with more technically accomplished photography.)  It opens with Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) competing against Ilya Kuriyakin (Armie Hammer) to see who gets the girl.  Only they are not competing for the girl romantically.  They need her because her estranged father may be working on a nuclear weapon to deliver to Russian agents.

Cavill and Hammer deliver in an opening sequence that convinced me they were trying to kill each other, which they were. And that was the first of confusing plot point points to come.  The acting is first rate, and more than you need for summer action, which is where Richie’s skill lies.  The direction is crisp, the script is clever, littered with many subtle (and not so subtle) jokes.  The action is fast.  There are even nods to sixties television and James Bond films (split, duo-color screens.) so I come to the part where I’m confused about Ritchie’s intentions.

The movie had all the elements for summer fun, yet there were a few nagging pieces. The first is that it seemed like it’s mostly backstory, which is fine, but as a fan of the TV show, I’m not sure if this backstory existed before.  Hugh Grant plays Waverly in what I think is a clear nod to bringing in the right demographic.  They never set foot in NYC, omitting the dry cleaners’ secret entrance to U.N.C.L.E headquarters, the weird corridors, the gigantic computers and the silly (yet fun) triangle badges.  Also left out were the cars, the high tech gadgets, adn the singular weaponry.

Summer movie season is, or was, the comfort food of the summer.  You were supposed to know exactly what you were getting, so I guess if Mr. Richie is just playing with our expectations of summer movies, that’s probably a good thing.  One goes to a movie based on a TV show they loved growing up with certain expectations.  When the expectations aren’t met completely, the initial reaction isn’t necessarily disappointment, but disbelief.  Hopefully there’s a sequel where the agents can become more of themselves and find their toys.  For that, I will suspendy my disbelief at the door.  Nostalgia can be a tricky business is something Waverly may or may not say.  I would give this a strong 7.  If no sequel comes out, can I change my number?  I believe Sheila gave it an 8.5. – Jay McMahon


Well, that’s it, folks, the first installment of what is sure to be a long series which will at least entertain the two of us.  We would love comments!  Thanks, S & J


NaBloPoMo09 – Away We Go!


NaBloPoMo is exactly what I need right now! So I’m going to do it- 30 blogs in 30 days.

To start off, I have seen three recent movies without talking about any of them. They don’t flow naturally together at all, none the less, I shall discuss each of them in this blog as if they do.  Hope that works for you.

I think I will start with my favorite, which was Away We Go. I laughed a lot.  At one point, I laughed so hard I thought I might have an asthma attack.  I cried a little too.  Lots of events happen in this movie, but what I liked the best was that they addressed a lot of different women’s experiences with fertility/infertility.  Some of it was just funny, like over the top touchy-feely parenting, but I felt that they balanced that well with more serious situations.

It’s been very difficult for me to articulate why, not being able to have children* myself, I don’t go out and adopt.  I can’t exactly say why, but it doesn’t feel right to me yet.  Maybe I’m still in mourning – but I know I’m not ready to adopt right now.  In the movie, I feel like the couple from Montreal (don’t worry, I’m not ruining the movie for you here) showed exactly why I am hesitant – I am afraid I would feel how they feel. Ok, spoiler alert, I guess, because I’d like to talk about it in more detail.

I have been in her shoes – the woman who does the sexy/melancholy dance – because I have often wanted to ask pregnant women how it feels to get pregnant and have no problems – but I’m sure they couldn’t tell me anyway, and I would probably start to feel envious, which is a complete waste of time.

Anyway, I liked that part of the movie because it’s not a feeling that is talked about – the feeling that no matter how much you try to fill the hole that is left by not having children, nothing will.  You have to live with the hole.  And if you adopt, that’s great, and they are your children fully and completely, but the reality is that if you had wanted a biological child, an adoption is not a replacement of that lost possibility.  It’s probably not fair to the adoptive child to have a parent who is still longing so deeply for a biological child, and that’s why I’m not ready to adopt yet.  I am still in mourning.  I don’t know how long it will take.  It’s definitely better than it used to be – I no longer weep about it on a monthly basis, but the pain and loss is still there.  Seeing someone portrayed in a movie who went ahead and adopted several to ‘make a family out of whatever we can,’ and seeing the possible cracks in that goes a little way toward helping me understand myself, which I appreciate in a movie.

I also liked that the main couple reminded me of myself and my husband in that they are so in love.  And like that couple, we laugh a lot.  And when someone’s grumpy, it’s usually me. 🙂  They have little jokes, they are disappointed by the same things, and so on.  I loved them as a couple, and I love us as a couple.

The second movie that we saw recently was The Proposal.  I don’t have that much to say – it was entertaining and cute, but it’s obvious that compared to Away We Go, the director didn’t seem as confident in the audience being able to grasp the events and interpret them – this is especially evident in the last scene where what’s his name says some mushy-gushy stuff, and the director cuts to shots of random office workers making doe eyes or covering their mouths in surprise.  It was so effin’ silly.  But other than that, the movie was fine, and was enjoyable two times, so far.

The final movie we have seen recently is Transformers II, or whatever the hell it’s called, which was pathetic.  I was the one who wanted to see it – and I was sorry about 10 minutes in.  The cars transforming was neat, but there was no plot to speak of.  Well, there was a plot.  It was a very young and oddly mismatched couple competing to be the last one to say ‘I love you’ to the other.  Meanwhile, aliens attack the world, yadda yadda, the girl says it first because she thinks the boy has died, and only then he can say it back.  Plus shitloads of chase scenes, and some very racially stereotyped robot characters, and a couple of near crotch shots of a couple pretty girls.  I think that sums up the movie, actually.  So so very bad.  And they’ll make a million bucks each.  Oh well. Hollywood, right?

If you only have the chance to see one of these movies, it had better be Away We Go, or you are a fool.  We’ll try not to judge, but why don’t you make it easier by just seeing it.  It’s worth your time.  🙂

*without going medically further than I want to, that is,  Please don’t email me and tell me “there’s always something they can do” – it’s not them, it’s me. 🙂 Plaintive smile. – thanks, Sheila

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