by Shane McDonald | Sep 8, 2018 | Reviews
I think everyone grew up with the cuddly character of Pooh Bear. This Pudgy looking bear loved honey, hated Heffalumps and had spelling as good as lolcats. Over the past few years, there have been a few movies about Pooh Bear, the most recent being Goodbye Christopher Robin. This new movie is the only one which I have actually gone to see at the cinema. I can tell you that at the 8 pm showing at the Odeon, Christopher Robin had 100% of the audience over the age of 18.
Christopher Robin the Movie
The basic storyline is that Christopher Robin has grown up, been to the war and is now working in a briefcase company. He has forgotten all about his time in the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh Bear and his friends. The start of the film brings you on a whistle-stop tour of the memories he and Pooh Bear have. This shows everything from his tea parties in the woods to him leaving for school and later the war, finally ending up in a high profile yet soul-crushing job.
He promises his family that he would go to the countryside this weekend but Christopher’s manager insists he works. His family are not pleased and go alone, Christopher Robin is left to contemplate the conflict between family and work. During a moment of stress in the local park, he utters the words ‘what to do, what to do’ and then hears ‘what to do indeed’ from Pooh Bear, voiced by the excellent Jim Cummings. Christopher cannot believe this is real and from here he has to accept that Pooh has come back, ultimately to save him.
Christopher Robin, played by Ewan McGregor and his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) are not seeing eye to eye over his time spent at work. His daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) is not seeing her father much these days and both of these relationships are in the balance. His wife has said she cannot remember the last time he smiled and his dealings with his daughter are very matter-a-fact.
Pooh Bear causes a bit of havoc in Christopher house as he tries climbing shelves and steps in lots of honey. The comedic values in the film are very well balanced with the sombre and serious discussions of work-life balance, a topic valid in today’s society.
There are some fantastic scenes in this movie, I’m not going to spoil them, but they are very nicely done indeed. It really is a feel-good movie, probably one of the best I have seen. The Movie Reviewer Mark Kermode says, if you laugh 6 times during a movie, it is a comedy. I can tell you I laughed 6 times in the first 15 minutes of this movie and a lot more after that.
If you have not seen Christopher Robin then please do – you will feel great when leaving the cinema. The trailer is below if you have not seen it.
Christopher Robin is Feel Good Movie Excellence at its Best!
by Shane McDonald | Jun 8, 2018 | Reviews
The Bay Tree Bistro
The Bay Tree Bistro opened in Waterford in 2015. Within a few months I was hearing about this amazing restaurant above a pub in Ballybricken. The restaurant later moved to the quays in Waterford and it has established itself as ‘the’ place in Waterford for fantastic food. In fact the Bay Tree Bistro was voted the Best Restaurant in Waterford 2018 by the Restaurant Association of Ireland.
I have eaten in the main restaurant upstairs and I can guarantee that it is a full-on dining experience. The tastes and combinations of ingredients are sublime. I will review this very soon when I return…
Earlier this year the Bay Tree Bistro started doing a lunch menu. The menu is served downstairs and is very different from the usual lunch menus. I spotted a few dishes I wanted to try and on one particular day I found myself being nearby and I just had to try it.
Lunch – Croque Madame
One of my favourite snacks / comfort foods is the croquet madame. You have bread, cheese, ham and a soft fried egg. What’s not to like? To my surprise and delight the croquet madame at the Bay Tree had 2 fried eggs. I was hoping to have the duck eggs, which are a small bit extra, but there were none on the day. The 2 eggs which were there were indeed delicious and perfectly cooked.
The red cabbage slaw which accompanies the dish is a perfect contrast to the croque – I also found that the raisins in the slaw were an unexpected taste sensation. There was also a delicious fresh side salad. The salad had cucumber, tomato, onion, spring onion, and leaves have a dressing which is fresh and contrasts with the heartiness of the egg, cheese and bread.
The relaxed atmosphere and nice music was a relaxing setting to enjoy a lunch at leisure. There was a lot on the menu which I would like to try on a repeat visit. The specials of the day were very nice also, one was an asian pork noodle dish. I later saw photos on twitter and that might be one for a return lunch.
If you are in Waterford and you don’t want the usual boring ham sandwich for lunch, then try the Bay Tree Bistro.
The Lunch Menu
The Lunch Menu on the day I visited the Bay Tree Bistro was as follows;
Warm Thai Chicken
Tuna or Chicken Nicoise
Mediterranean Vegetable and Feta Cheese
Add Homemade Chips
With Hen Egg or Duck Egg
Tuna Melt Ploughman’s Vegetarian Ploughman’s
Chicken, Sundried Tomato and Smoked Cheese
Roasted Vegetable, Tomato and Mozzarella
Pork and Caramelized Onion Sausage Roll Quiche of The Day
Soups, chowders and cheese boards were also available and are very reasonably priced.
There are a few options on the menu I would love to try, including the sausage roll, the ploughmans, and the warm thai chicken. There is something for everyone on the menu and you won’t be disappointed – portion size is just right!
Bay Tree Bistro – Map Location (Permanently Closed)
Bay Tree Bistro, Waterford, Ireland
Restaurant Detail Update – November 22nd 2018
I have just seen on TripAdvisor that the Bay Tree Bistro is now closed. I passed the establishment a few nights ago and just thought they were closed on that evening. I hope that the Bay Tree Bistro will reopen soon as I truly enjoyed the food at this great restaurant.
by Shane McDonald | Feb 28, 2018 | Film and TV, Reviews
Lady Bird – Movie Review
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts
I had been anticipating the release of Lady Bird for some time now. The trailer looked funny, it seemed to be an interesting film. The last Saoirse Ronan movie I saw was Brooklyn, which was good, but just good. I went to Lady Bird expecting something, wow but I have outlined my thoughts on Lady Bird with the review.
Christine McPherson likes to be called “Lady Bird”, it is her given name, given to her by herself.
Lady Bird is the story of Christine’s senior year of high school. The Story portrays the relationship she has with her mother, her friends, the friends she wants to be best friends with, male friends, her siblings and her dad. It also deals with the fact that she is going to school in a strict Catholic educational system, which she seems not to believe in. Overall, it is a multi-faceted film as it seems to try and deal with all these relationships at the same time and for me, I think the movie somewhat loses itself in trying to cater for all the people in her life.
Some of the funniest and interesting scenes are those she has with her mother, played by the fantastic Laurie Metcalf (who you may know as being Sheldon Cooper’s mum in The Big Bang Theory). There is a love-hate relationship there, with her mum being overly critical while ensuring the family needs are looked after. Lady Bird wants to go to an expensive and sophisticated college on the East Coast such as Yale or Harvard. Her mum thinks she is not good enough and that the expense would be wasted. Perhaps her route might be community college, prison and then back to college, he mum suggests. (At which point Lady Bird decides to leave the moving car…). I would have loved to have seen more of the relationship with the mother.
All during the film Lady Bird is all about trying to achieve greatness as she grows up, but at every attempt, you see her mistakes. She chooses the wrong friends, tries the wrong drinks and tells the wrong lies.
“Overly Bitty as a Movie – Not Coherent”
The film seems more like a load of scenes put together than a flowing movie with a beginning, middle and end. The story itself does not make for a fantastic movie – it is good, but by no means, a Best Picture candidate. However, I think it will appeal to an audience who can identify with it. Saoirse Ronan is very good as Lady Bird but I walked away thinking, what was all the hype about the movie – not 5 stars but a strong 4 star.
In conclusion, Lady Bird is a very enjoyable movie to go and see. I thought it would not be one which I would watch again – however, having watched the trailer again and having seen the movie, there is something charming about the movie. There are elements to it which are really nice, it is very emotional in parts … so, not all bad!
Lady Bird, Overall Movie Rating: 81% (4/5 stars)
Lady Bird – Official Trailer
by Shane McDonald | Feb 20, 2018 | Film and TV, Reviews
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Movie Review
Directed by: Martin McDonagh.
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Lucas Hedges, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones
The first thing you will probably have heard is that this film is based on true events. Is Three Billboards a true story? Well, the inspiration is true. The director saw a poster calling on police to act on a crime. The story of Three Billboards stemmed from this event.
This is a very powerful movie and the first thing I will say is that if you don’t like swearing in movies, then this is the wrong f*$king movie for you. It is gritty, emotional, uncompromising and all driven by an amazing performance by Frances McDormand.
“A Powerful Performance by Frances McDormand”
As the movie starts you see Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand), driving and passing three old unused billboards. The town has been bypassed so the three billboards are decrepit and showing old torn defunct adverts. Mildred’s daughter was killed and the police still have no leads. Mildred thinks that there is no action being taken by the police so she buys the three spots and places her own unique adverts. She erects three adverts on the billboards stating that her daughter was killed and there are still no leads, what will Chief Willoughby do about it? The billboards upset those in the local town especially since everyone knows that the chief of police is suffering from cancer, but Mildred has no sympathy for that. As far as she is concerned, all those who did not take any part in finding her daughters killer are equally culpable for the crime. (…one scene regarding the culpability with Mildred and the local priest is shocking and hilarious at the same time).
There are many sub-plots which bring in emotions of hatred and bigotry in the patrolman played by Sam Rockwell, and comedy in Mildred’s ex-husbands’ new girlfriend who brings some comic relief at the right times. There is plenty to keep you interested through-out and there were no lulls in the action.
You will find that Three Billboards will give you every emotion from fear and anger to honour and sadness. The characters are amazing in this movie, each bringing something different to this sure to be Oscar-winning movie. Frances McDormand has to be up for the best actress award as the strength of the character was amazing. The only thing I did not like about the film was the lack of a conclusive ending. For me, I thought I was going to see a film which would have some closure for Mildred. Some people don’t mind this sort of ending but for me, it was not what I wanted at the end.
Overall Review Score: 90%
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Official Trailer
by Shane McDonald | Dec 3, 2017 | Film and TV, Reviews
I saw the first Paddington movie and I really enjoyed it. With Paddington 2 I actually enjoyed it even more than the first movie. Normally sequels can be a bit of a letdown, often the 2nd film is just to capitalise on the first movie. This time around, I think Paddington 2 bucks the trend and is a wonderfully written and presented movie.
From deepest darkest Peru, Paddington was left in Paddington station with a tag. “Look after this bear”. The Brown family took Paddington into their lives in a quiet sleepy street at Windsor Gardens.
Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins return in Paddington 2 and they are joined by a struggling actor who is on hard times, namely Hugh Grant. (I’m not slagging him, you need to see the movie to understand the Hugh Grant statement).
The story of Paddington 2 revolves around a pop-up book which Paddington wants to buy for Aunt Lucy. However, the pop-up book is over £1,000 and Paddington needs to get a job to buy the book. So, Paddington’s first job is a disaster at a barbershop, shaving a line of hair from Tom Conti who plays an angry judge
Hugh Grant now arrives on the scene as the villain. He plays a self-absorbed West End acting “legend” called Phoenix Buchanan. Basically, Hugh Grant was asked to overact and then overact again to become an egotistical method actor.
Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) finds out about the antique pop-up book after Paddington tells him about it. Apparently, the book is key to a long-lost treasure stash. Paddington is then framed for the robbery of the book and sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Paddington makes a few unlikely friends in prison. His sweet ways mean that he doesn’t understand why a nasty chef can’t be his friend. Paddington confronts the terrifying chef Knuckles (played by Brendan Gleeson) and eventually, they become befriended through the means of an errant marmalade sandwich. There is a lot of fun to be had with he convict Paddington and eventually he wants to get the book and prove his innocence.
From here on, I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of the plot as there is a lot of laughs and also some sad scenes for Paddington …. you may have a period of severe worry during this film, so mind the young ones at it.
I found that most of the laughs were to be had with Paddington, Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson and Grant. The script is expertly written and there are a lot of jokes aimed at the adults or older kids too. The graphics are surreal and at times you question if Paddington is real, especially the scene at the barbers where his fur moves in sync with the razor.
I really Paddington 2. BBC Film critic Mark Kermode says, if you laugh 6 times it is a comedy. I can tell you that at Paddington 2, I laughed 6 times in the opening 10 minutes and about 6 times every 10 minutes after that! Paddington 2 is a worthwhile film to see. It is entertaining, charming and worth the admission fee!
Official Trailer – Paddington 2
by Shane McDonald | Nov 13, 2017 | Film and TV, Reviews
Having seen the last Thor movie I wasn’t sure what to expect from Thor Ragnarok. The reviews were all positive and I went in hoping that it would be as good as the hype.
Starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, this instance is much more humourous and has a very tongue in cheek attitude. It’s almost like the quirky, cheeky comic books we grew up reading.
The movie is directed by Taika Waititi who also directed Hunt for the Wilderpeople (which is a great movie in itself)
The film has a very funny sequence near the start with Thor and a devil type character called Surtur. After an encounter with Surtur, Thor has a shock to the system with his hammer being destroyed by his banished sister who returns to rise and destroy those who oppose her. Hela played by Cate Blanchett’s looks down her nose of her weak father who once ruled the universe but then became a peaceful ruler.
Thor also has other major losses (no spoilers) and this almost becomes a crisis of confidence for Thor.
There are lots of cameos and subtle nods to other films. After landing on another planet he and his semi-evil brother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) plus the Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and a hilarious but effective hero with a drink problem Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) try to save Thor’s home Asgard from destruction.
Before they can do that Thor and Hulk must escape from the Hunger Games style contest where they are pitched against each other. This is all under the watchful eye of game keeper “Grandmaster” played by the amazing Jeff Goldblum.
After leading a revolt now the race is on to save Asgard. Can Thor win the battle without his trusty hammer?
Overall this was a highly entertaining film with lots of humour and a decent enough story. Chris Hemsworth was brilliant and had some great lines as was Jeff Goldblum. (Someone did say that Jeff Goldblum was just asked to do his Best Jeff Goldblum impression.). Another standout, was Tessa Thompson who played Valkerie. I had not seen her in anything before but she has starred in over 45 other productions. Maybe we have not yet seen the last of Valkerie.
Conclusion, if you want a film where you will leave smiling and with a sense of money well spent them Thor Ragnorok is the one to see. The soundtrack is also excellent – some of the music in the movie is very 1980 synth, one was very reminiscent of the Street Hawk theme by Le Park. Thor Ragnorok is not a classic or an Oscar nominee but certainly a highly entertaining movie. Enjoy!
This is the last Marvel film of 2017 and next on the list is Avengers: Infinity War.