A Man Called Otto – Film Review

As I have mentioned previously, I am trying to go to the cinema more often than usual, especially as so many award nominated movies emerge. Following my review of Empire Of Light, I decided to pop along to my local movie theatre and check out ‘A Man Called Otto’ today.

Tom Hanks was promoting ‘A Man Called Otto’ on the Graham Norton Show the other Friday when it first caught my imagination. Apparently an adaptation of a Swedish novel – ‘Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman – this story was about an older man who was rather miserable and full of spite. Some new neighbours moved into his street and tried to soften his character slightly. The premise was interesting and I knew Tom would portray the lead role brilliantly.

Otto protected a little street like this.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97% audience score

A Sweet Narrative

Otto had lost his wife recently and was pushed out of his job, taking a severance payout and entering retirement reluctantly. He lived in a street where the parking was protected and he made sure that only those with permits dared to park in his street.

The neighbours knew that he did his daily ‘rounds’ and tried to engage with him despite his sour mood. The reason for this grumpy attitude was exposed later in the story. Needless to say he had a fairly harrowing backstory.

A family moved in and started to offer him food parcels and company. Marisol (played by Mariana Travino) was superb as a chatty, pregnant neighbour who wouldn’t take no for an answer and was determined to bring a smile to his tired face.

While Otto was constantly trying to find ways to kill himself and join his wife beyond the grave, amusing circumstances disturbed his plans and kept him busy while she worked hard at bringing some fun into his world and giving him something to care about.

A set of challenges faced by other neighbours made his life more difficult still. Otto’s narrative was wonderfully outlined by a good script and careful direction. Tom’s wife, Rita Wilson, persuaded him to make the movie version of the book and she also came on board as producer. Similarly his real-life son – Truman Hanks – who played a younger version of Otto, did a brilliant job. He was the spitting image of his famous father.

Things I liked about it

– Incredible acting by the lead actors

– A flowing storyline with carefully placed nuggets of information that enhanced the narrative.

– Clever direction with emotional flashbacks.

– It had moments of real humour.

In A Nutshell

This was a wonderful story which made me laugh and cry. Hanks was amazing in this role and Mariana deserves an Oscar for supporting actress too. It was really well written and the different elements fitted together superbly.

I would give this movie a five star review and totally recommend going to the cinema to see it. Now I will have to go and read the original book.

If you found this review helpful, please comment below and consider following my blog for future book and TV reviews as well as environmental articles.

Empire of Light – Film Review

Winter is movie award season, with the Golden Globes, Oscars and Baftas, so usually the really interesting films come out around this time. So I have been going to the cinema fortnightly in order to keep up with all of the recommended pictures that have been arriving.

This is actually Scarborough but looks like the film setting of Margate.

This weekend I was lucky enough to go and see a Sam Mendes film. After his epic 1917 war movie where he told a story using just one camera, a harrowing narrative at that, I knew his new one would be worth a watch.

What Was It About?

Olivia Coleman led it as a schizophrenic woman who worked front of house in a 1980s cinema. She was joined by a solid cast, including newbie Michael Ward and her creep boss played by Colin Firth.

The story was also written by Mendes and told of how Hilary (Olivia) was very depressed and living a very mundane existence until a new guy started to work at the old Empire cinema. Stephen (Michael) was fun and intriguing so she soon latched onto him and was quickly smitten. At the same time, she observed racism against him by motorbike gangs (apparently Mods and Rockers).

Olivia played her role with skill and her performance definitely stood out. I would say it was her best acting yet – and she already has a high standard back catalogue. Michael was outstanding as the likeable ticket collector who was charismatic and torn. His dreams of going to university had been put to one side but he was determined to make the most of everything by dancing, having fun and making the most of life.

In A Nutshell

I enjoyed the film which was 1 hour 55 minutes long but felt shorter. It has mixed reviews as it is very much a character drama. Don’t expect action and adventure. I found it sweet, well written, nostalgic and it handled mental health cleverly. People were easily misunderstood or misjudged on the 1980s and there was little support available for mental health problems.

Check out Olivia Coleman’s beautiful film if you get the chance. Meanwhile, perhaps consider following my blog and dropping a comment below. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review.

My Favourite Christmas Movies

I absolutely love Christmas films, with their hopeful stories and cheesy outcomes. One of my favourite aspects of the festive season is sitting down, cosy and warm under a throw, eyes glued to a seasonal movie.

Whether it is a romantic comedy or a seasonal drama, anything festive is usually worth a watch. Some films are iconic though and stand the test of time. Here are my favourite all-time Christmas movies.

Love Actually

There is something sweet and charming about this lovely film by Richard Curtis. With multiple storylines overlapping, this cute movie never fails to make me feel gooey. With Emma Thompson, Kiera Knightley, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant and many others, the film is fun, entertaining and has already lasted 19 years, so definitely has become a Christmas tradition.

Funny moments with Rowan Atkinson as a very slow gift wrapper are balanced with the sweeter highlights such as when Colin Firth marches through Italian streets in search of his true love.

Home Alone 2

Home Alone 2 is better than the first film, in my opinion. I could watch it every year and still spot new things that I’d never noticed previously. I remember visiting New York and taking a tour of Central Park where the bird lady had her scenes as well as standing outside the famous Plaza Hotel.

Macauley Culkin was memorable as a child star who lit up the screen with his performance as a kid who was not going to be beaten by some pathetic burglars.

The Snowman

This animated movie is just 26 minutes long and has no speaking in it but has a charming story which has been entertaining families for 40 years. It is synonymous with the beautiful soundtrack and hugely successful song, ‘We’re walking in the air’ which was sang by Aled Jones.

This animated movie is just 26 minutes long and has no speaking in it but has a charming story which has been entertaining families for 40 years. It is synonymous with the beautiful soundtrack and hugely successful song, ‘We’re walking in the air’ which was sang by Aled Jones.

Last Christmas

Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings wrote this 2019 movie which began life as an idea based on George Michael’s famous song. He sang, ‘Last Christmas, you gave me your heart’ and that is the basis for this heart-warming narrative starring Emilia Clarke (Game of Throne) and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians).

I am particularly proud of this one as the screenwriter is from my home town and went to my school. She held a special viewing for family and friends which my mum attended.

The Holiday

Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swapped lives in this beautiful comedy which came out in 2006. Kate swapped a quaint English cottage for a lush LA mansion. Jude Law played Kate’s brother and Jack Black charmed Kate’s character.

My favourite element of this is the serene snowy British village that is featured, although I have no idea where it is actually meant to be. In my part of England we hardly ever get to see snow these days because of global warming but I would love to live somewhere idyllic like that.

What Do You Think?

Please drop a comment to say what you think about these films or share your own preferred Christmas gems. If you enjoyed this article, perhaps also consider following my blog for similar future content. Time to turn on the television and pour yourself a Baileys.