I got into the festive mood a month early this year when I saw Last Christmas in theatres on the weekend. This rom-com stars Emilia Clarke as someone who makes many bad choices until she meets Henry Golding’s character, conveniently around the holidays. Emma Thompson co-stars, stealing every scene she’s in, and she co-wrote the screenplay. Michelle Yeoh also co-stars, surprising in a non-conventional role for her, (her and Golding both last appeared in Crazy Rich Asians). There are fun, festive, romantic performances on display here, great balances of laughs and emotion, and the film is well paced at 1 hour 43 minutes. It is a must see if you like George Michael music, dry British humour, or director Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat).
To contradict all those good feelings I was having, I saw the next chapter in the Shining story, Doctor Sleep. This sequel stars Ewan McGregor and comes 39 years after the first that starred Jack Nicholson (a thriller classic!). It dabbles in an area slightly off than that of the Shining (that’s a good thing) but does also play heavily with the first’s iconic scenes, characters, and locale. Both films are based on books written by Stephen King, although this sequel has more of the author’s blessing. McGregor knows how to play a flawed soul (Trainspotting 1&2) and pairs off well against Rebecca Ferguson’s character. Hers is the baddie and Ferguson has been building a steady resume lately with Mission: Impossible 5&6 (7 coming!), Life (creepy), and The Greatest Showman. Director Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game, Ouija: Origin of Evil) had to cater to both the novel and the previous film (which sometimes contradict each other). It works as the scariest parts are often right out in the open (not hidden in shadow), actors playing roles from a 40 year old film do a great job, and I wanted more, (not realizing it was 2 hours 32 minutes already).