Ghost In The Shell (1995) Blind Spot Review

Ghost In The Shell (1995)
攻殻機動隊
Gōsuto in za sheru / Kōkaku kidōtai (Ghost in the Shell / Mobile Armored Riot Police)

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

Based on Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow

Starring Voice Actors: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi

Running time: 82 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ghost in the Shell follows the hunt of the public security agency Section 9 for a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. With the assistance of her team, Motoko Kusanagi tracks and finds their suspect, only to be drawn into a complex sequence of political intrigue and a cover-up as to the identity and goals of the Puppet Master.

My Opinion:

So this was an “alternate” Blind Spot choice of mine (I guess I need to kick one of the main ones off the list now). I decided to watch this because a) the live-action American remake was out recently and b) I noticed the running time of only 82 minutes! Okay – the running time was the biggest reason. Why are so many “worthy” films at least 2.5 hours long? I’m too busy!

I’m glad I did finally get around to watching this. I really enjoyed it. I do want to see the Scarlett Johansson one at some point too just to see how they recreated certain scenes but know that it will of course pale greatly in comparison to the original. I’d be interested to hear from those of you who’ve seen both and from fans of the original.


I’m not going to write a lot about this film as I don’t have much knowledge when it comes to Japanese anime (other than my beloved Studio Ghibli). It’s a genre I’m becoming more & more interested in and want to explore by at least watching some of the most well known stuff. I watched Akira as a Blind Spot choice last year (I decided to dive in at the deep end!). Akira isn’t quite like anything I’d seen before and I loved it (it was my favorite of my twelve 2016 Blind Spot films).

I think Ghost In The Shell is fantastic too and I can understand why it’s so popular but, unfortunately, I wasn’t as blown away as I was with Akira. I think a lot of that is probably thanks to me seeing things like The Matrix and even Ex Machina before seeing Ghost, meaning that Ghost feels almost dated now even though it came beforehand and clearly had a big influence on a lot of later films.

Okay – I don’t think “dated” is at all the right word to use… The animation is beautiful and the story is probably even more relevant now than in 1995. I think anyone who enjoys this type of science fiction would definitely like this film if they haven’t seen it. I suppose it’s just that the themes in Ghost In The Shell have been explored in loads of entertainment over the years (and especially in the years that followed its release), meaning that it doesn’t feel quite as original in 2017 as it will have 22 years ago. But it’s still a damn good science fiction anime & worthy of its status as a classic in this genre. There’s a lot of iconic imagery & an amazing musical montage (I’ve included a clip of this below). I’m happy to say that Ghost In The Shell was well worth my time & a worthy addition to my list of Blind Spot movies.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh, and I love this Mondo poster created by artist Martin Ansin

My Top Ten John C. Reilly Movies 

Happy Belated Birthday to John C. Reilly, who turned 52 on Wednesday.

I dedicate this Top Ten to blogger Tom (aka Thomas J), who has done a lot of reviews of Reilly’s films. I apologize to you all as I’ve not been able to visit your blogs this year while I’ve had to cut way back on blogging but, when I did sometimes manage to comment on Tom’s John C. Reilly reviews (ages ago now), I believe my comment was usually “What? John C. Reilly was in this movie?!?“.

And in making this Top Ten, I realized that I indeed have no memory of Reilly being in half of the films of his that I’ve seen. So, for this list, I’m going to indicate after the title whether or not I remember John C. Reilly being in the film. Hopefully John doesn’t read my blog… It’s probably not much of a compliment to say I hardly ever notice him. Sorry, Mr. Reilly! You ARE Mister Cellophane, you know. 😉

Here are My Top Ten John C. Reilly Movies and whether or not I remember him being in them, counting down to my favorite film. Some of these are uncredited cameos (so you can’t blame me for forgetting him!). Here we go…

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

19. Cyrus – Yes
18. Nightwatch – No
17. Dark Water – No
16. Days Of Thunder – No
15. The Good Girl – Kind Of
14. Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny – No
13. Life After Beth – Haha. No, and it’s fairly recent! Shit, he’s even in a picture I used in my review…
12. The River Wild – No
11. Dolores Claiborne – No

TOP TEN:

10. Chicago
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

9. Anger Management
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? No

8. The Perfect Storm
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? No

7. The Aviator
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? No

6. Boogie Nights
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

5. Magnolia
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

4. Never Been Kissed
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Kind Of

3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Umm. Not really.

2. Wreck-It Ralph
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

1. Guardians Of The Galaxy
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

Saw But Don’t Remember The Movie, Let Alone Reilly:
Casualties Of War
The Hours

Some Of The Many I’ve Not Seen But Wasn’t Aware That He Was In Anyway Except For That One Where He’s The Only One On The Movie’s Poster & He’s Posing Like Jim Morrison:
We’re Not Angels, Hard Eight, The Thin Red Line, For Love Of The Game, Gangs Of New York, A Prairie Home Companion, Talladega Nights, Year Of The Dog, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, The Promotion, Step Brothers, 9, Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Dictator, Anchorman 2, When Marnie Was There, The Lobster, Sing, Kong: Skull Island

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Book Review)

The film adaptation of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon comes out today in the United States. It was directed by Stella Meghie and stars Amandla Stenberg & Nick Robinson. I must admit that I really enjoyed this book and am annoyed about the three month wait to see the film in the United Kingdom (the release date is set for the 18th of August here). Here’s my review of the novel…

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The novel centers on 18-year-old Madeline Whittier, who has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), also known as “bubble baby disease”. Due to her condition, Madeline is stuck inside her house in Los Angeles, where she lives with her mother, a physician who takes care of her.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. But I must admit that it’s a full-on “Young Adult” teen book. I know plenty of grown-ups like myself who still read YA stuff and there have been some fantastic novels in this genre. Unfortunately, though, the Young Adult label has a somewhat negative connotation to it nowadays. This is probably partly due to the fact that there seems to be so much of it now. There wasn’t half as much of it around when I was a young adult myself. Man, I’d have especially loved the post-apocalyptic dystopian thing that is so overused in this genre now. 

What’s my point? I’m getting off topic! I think my point is this: don’t automatically assume a book isn’t good just because it has the YA label. Some feel very teenage while others are just really good stories that transcend any sort of recommended age range (is Harry Potter considered YA? I would assume so). And like them or not, The Hunger Games books don’t immediately make me think “ugh, teenagers!!!”. 

Some YA, however, is very teen and Everything, Everything is clearly written with its teenage audience in mind. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with aiming to please your target audience. This would’ve probably been a favorite book of mine if it had been around in my early to mid-teens (although it would’ve been a very rare favorite in the romance genre as it’s not often that I go for a love story of any sort). As an adult, I can’t say this could now ever be a favorite book of mine but I did find it a very enjoyable read (easily one of the most enjoyable I’ve read so far this year). It has a fairly unique story, an unconventional romance, and a really likable main character. 

I think a lot of YA novels don’t always write convincing teenage characters, probably because the authors are usually adults. The characters either seem too grown-up or too childish and are often hard to like. I think Yoon got the right balance with the character of Madeline as she felt like a real 18-year-old with the hopes & dreams you’d expect from a girl who has been stuck in her home for 18 years due to having severe combined immunodeficiency. She was intelligent but not mature beyond her years and, most importantly (to me), she was very likable in a convincing sort of way. I do think that not enough attention was given to the other characters: the neighbor boy she falls in love with, her mother, and the nurse who cares for her during the day. We don’t get to know any of them as well as I’d have liked but I can forgive this as it’s not a very long book. Madeline is very much the novel’s main focus and I was happy with her character. 

I’m having a hard time explaining why I liked this one… I doubt I’ve talked anyone into reading it! But if you do really like YA novels (probably aimed more at a female audience in this case), this is one I’d definitely recommend as a lightweight but entertaining read. Madeline has had to find ways to keep herself entertained while being a “prisoner” in her own home so we get to see some fun drawings & doodles of hers throughout the book plus we get to read e-mails & instant messages between her and the neighbor boy she falls for. These gimmicks may not be for everyone but I like books that have this sort of thing as it makes it a bit more personal & fun to read. It also shows how Madeline has managed to maintain a sense of humor through her illness. Plus, as I said, I just liked the story/setup. It’s a topic I’ve found interesting ever since seeing John Travolta in The Boy In The Plastic Bubble (Ha! The 1976 TV movie… I totally just aged myself). Well, that movie was far from “good” and Everything, Everything has done a much better job of telling the story of a teenager with the “bubble baby” disease. Plus I really wanted to see what/if/how things would be resolved in this book. I will of course stay spoiler-free but the ending probably left people divided (and that’s all I’ll say). I liked it. I hope they’ve done a good film adaptation. 

My Rating: 3.5/5

Here’s the trailer for the movie (but I think it gives away too much of the story so skip the trailer if you want to know as little as possible…):

The books I’ve read so far in 2017, from least favorite to favorite:

15. The Sisters by Claire Douglas
14. Tape by Steven Camden
13. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Circle by Dave Eggers
11. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
10. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
8. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
7. The Dinner by Herman Koch
6. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
2. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
1. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

And I’m currently in the middle of reading Blaze by Stephen King (so far, so good). 🙂

Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Alien: Covenant (2017)

**Spoiler-free ranting below**

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief and of course spoiler-free as I know Alien: Covenant isn’t yet out in America.

I’m a huge fan of the first two Alien films. I’ve never talked about them on this blog because I’m not a good writer and I find it hard to review the films I love the most (I made an attempt to review favorites, which I called CPD Classics, but gave up after a while as it took too long to write those). I can’t find the right words to express the awesomeness of those first two films. The H.R. Giger designs (above all else), the mood, the horror, the mystery, the action of the second film plus a great set of characters, Hicks (hottie), the knife/hand thing and, of course, a kick-ass female. Those first two films are perfection. I suppose that’s why every Alien film since those has been such a huge disappointment. How can you top those? You can’t. And Alien: Covenant is yet another massive disappointment.

I didn’t read any reviews at all before seeing this but the main comment I couldn’t help but see several times on Twitter was that “it starts out okay & almost feels like an Alien film but then turns into Prometheus 2“. That’s exactly right. If you liked Prometheus, you’ll probably like Covenant. If you hated Prometheus, I doubt you’ll like this one. I’m no fan of Prometheus. To be honest, I barely remember it now as I never watched it again after going to the cinema to see it. I wouldn’t say I hated it as I will probably always watch each & every movie that explores the Alien universe as it’s an overall idea that I absolutely love but, man – I wish they’d stop f*^king things up so much!

You know what? I actually think I like Prometheus slightly more now. Compared to Covenant, it’s probably the better of the two. Yikes. It’s like having to choose between two horrible candidates & having to go with the lesser of two evils. Prometheus kept things slightly more simple whereas Scott feels like he’s aimlessly & pointlessly overcomplicating things now. The mystery of the alien race in the first film is a big part of what makes the entire Alien universe so horrifying. Stop trying to explain everything. Stop showing us too much. Stop all the pretentiousness. Make an Alien film. Stop making Prometheus films, dammit. How are so many filmmakers & studios so damn clueless as to what the public actually want?

Okay – maybe it’s time to stop making these films altogether. Or perhaps let someone else take over again (Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 looks fairly promising so far). Either way, I’m pretty good at blocking things out of my mind when I want to and these sequels & prequels have yet to ruin the legacy of the first two films for me. But I grew up with the first two during my early teen film-loving beginnings. How much are these newer films damaging those first ones for the current generation?

I can’t be bothered with this “review”. I’m just annoyed. BUT, I did go in with very low expectations (I’m not stupid). Therefore, I’m not as annoyed as I seem since I got what I pretty much expected. Like with Prometheus, I didn’t exactly hate this film. I just try to think of these films as a separate sort of thing (kind of like with the Star Wars prequels). They mostly suck but there are moments that I enjoy thanks to my love of the original films (the moments that feel like an Alien film & not a Prometheus film and there are a few of these, luckily). Michael Fassbender (hottie) is very good. He steals the show. I just wish they could’ve made us care about this set of characters as much those in Aliens (but that wasn’t Scott). Other than Fassbender, everyone is very one-dimensional & their relationships felt forced for added drama (most of the those on the Covenant are married to someone else on the ship – what’s with all the romantic connections?).

Oops – I was trying to end with only positive comments to help explain why I’m not giving this a lower rating after all my bitching. Um. There’s a Xenomorph. There’s a facehugger. There’s bursting. That’s why the score isn’t lower. God I’m shallow. If they make another one of these movies, I know I’ll still watch the damn thing even though it’s 99% likely that at least 75% of it will suck. 😉 But if I had to rank all these now (not counting those AVP ones), Covenant is probably at the very bottom. That’s so not what I wanted. Why do I continue to live in the hope that there could ever be another good Alien film?

My Rating: 6.5/10*

*I’m being way too generous. Because it’s an Alien film. Sort of. But not really. Damn.

My Top Ten Cate Blanchett Movies

Happy Birthday (soon) to Cate Blanchett, who turns 48 on Sunday.

I like Cate Blanchett (but not as much as Val Kilmer does…). Putting together this top ten, though, I see I’ve missed loads of her biggest starring films! Hmm. Well, I guess I can add to this list if I see some more.

I’m going to be annoying & include an uncredited cameo as well as her doing the voice on an English dub of a foreign film since those are two movies I like. I’ve listed the biggest of the many I’ve not seen so I’ll gladly take recommendations on what to watch of those. 🙂

So here are My Top Ten Cate Blanchett Movies that I’ve seen, ranked from least favorite to favorite (not by performance). She’s a great actress but I probably can’t choose the best performance until I’ve seen more of her films.

The Remainder That I’ve Seen:

Pushing Tin
The Gift
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
How To Train Your Dragon 2

TOP TEN:

10. The Talented Mr. Ripley (but I could really do with re-watching this)

9. TIE: Notes On A Scandal & Carol

8. Cinderella

7. Elizabeth

6. Hanna

5. Hot Fuzz

4. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

3. The Aviator

2. Ponyo

1. The Lord Of The Rings & Hobbit Films

Some I’ve Not Seen:
An Ideal Husband, Bandits, Charlotte Gray, The Shipping News, Veronica Guerin, The Missing, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Babel, The Good German, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I’m Not There, Robin Hood, Blue Jasmine, The Monuments Men, Truth

One for Val:

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) Review

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Directed by Lasse Hallström

Based on A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Josh Gad, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.

My Opinion:

So, yeah – I clearly went to this with the family over the weekend. You know what? It’s not bad! For a family movie. Well, it’s actually not bad for a movie in general. Hubby & I often say that they don’t seem to do as many non-animated “family films” nowadays. We had so many growing up in the Eighties! I miss them. And now that I have a young kid, I want more of them again.

My main concern beforehand was that this movie would be overly sentimental or, even WORSE and a massive pet peeve of mine, that it would be preachy. I hate movies that shove their values down your throat! Luckily, A Dog’s Purpose doesn’t do this. It tells the story in a straightforward way and it’s obvious message (of what things are truly the most important in life) isn’t at all heavy-handed. It comes fairly close to being like all my beloved 80’s family films I saw on TV all the time growing up. Plus, of course, it has cute dogs. Who doesn’t love cute wittle doggies?!

I just have to say something that may be spoiler territory if you know nothing at all but is known if you’ve seen the trailer or read the synopsis: There are several dogs (five, I think) because the dog keeps getting reincarnated. It was cool seeing him as different dogs (always voiced by Josh Gad) and with different owners/families. I like the sort of setup where you get several different stories in a movie and it worked really well in this film. Anyway – someone started sobbing the first time the dog died and I was thinking “I do hope they realize this is gonna happen over & over again.” Lol. Not to be cold-hearted but, seriously, you must know what you’re getting into if you go to a movie where a dog keeps getting reincarnated… 😉 (That person cried every time)

A Dog’s Purpose was a pleasant surprise and a nice return to an old-fashioned family friendly film with a positive message that occurs naturally instead of feeling forced. Will you enjoy it even if you don’t have a family? I think any dog lover certainly will. And with several different stories, you’ll find one or two that you connect with the most. I liked the main story focusing on the dog as a golden retriever named Bailey, which is the personality the dog continues to identify with and remember through all his lifetimes, and the story where he’s a corgi named Tino belonging to a lonely college girl. I guarantee you’ll love Bailey, no matter which form he takes. And as an added plus, the human characters are likable as well!

My Rating: 7/10

FYI – I’d heard nothing of the controversy surrounding this film due to a video of alleged animal abuse that made the rounds just as this movie was released in the US (maybe that’s why it has come out so much later in the UK). Anyway, as with most fake news, I’m sure that faked video was spread around far more than the story of the investigation that showed it was re-edited to make it look like animal abuse. Here’s the story (from Los Angeles Daily News). Hopefully no one’s career was ruined. We all care about animals being treated well but I often wish humans cared half as much about other human beings as they do animals.

The Dinner by Herman Koch (Book Review)

I’m reviewing the book The Dinner by Herman Koch as the movie is released today in the U.S. There’s currently no U.K. release date scheduled. The movie was directed by Oren Moverman & stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Adepero Oduye & Chloë Sevigny.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

My Thoughts:

I liked this book but it’s probably not for everyone. I’ll avoid plot spoilers but I’ll tell you that none of the characters are very likable, which puts a lot of readers off (including me, usually). The story was intriguing enough to keep me reading, however, and it’s not a long book so it’s a pretty quick read. It might be worth your time if the plot synopsis interests you. However, it’s also the type of story that should work well as a movie so, if it’s a decent adaptation, you might want to skip the book. I’ll let you know if the movie does the book justice (if the movie ever gets a U.K. release date)! It’s a film I’m definitely wanting to check out as it’s one I feel could possibly improve on the book if handled well. The cast seems promising.

I liked the way the story was presented as courses instead of “Chapters”: Appetiser, Main, Dessert, etc etc (I can’t remember all the posh terms for all the different courses. Never knew there were so many courses to a fancy meal!). We slowly learn more & more about the four adults having this meal together while the story of the horrible act commited by their teenage sons comes to light.

I’m not going to say much more as the story is pretty straightforward and there’s not much more I could say anyway without spoiling it. I’ll say it’s a decent character study but doesn’t explore all the moral implications as much as it could have. By the end, it felt more shallow than I was hoping for. That’s why I’m hopeful for the possibility of a really good film adaptation as there’s some meaty material here for a really good set of screenwriters & actors to sink their teeth into. We’ll see. The Dinner isn’t as deep & meaningful as it could’ve been but it’s still an intriguing story told in a fairly original way and I’d say I enjoyed it more than several of the other 13 books I’ve read so far this year.

My Rating: 3/5

**Yes, I’m keeping a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year. At the moment, this is probably how I’d rank them (from least favorite to favorite). If you really want to know… 😉 I hope to review them all by the end of the year:

14. The Sisters by Claire Douglas
13. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Circle by Dave Eggers
11. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
10. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
8. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
7. The Dinner by Herman Koch
6. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
2. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
1. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

(And, yes, I’m focusing on reading books that have been movies/TV shows recently or will be very soon) 🙂

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Review

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Directed & Written by James Gunn

Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Kurt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

My Opinion:

I was so unbelievably excited for this sequel. I absolutely loved the first Guardians Of The Galaxy (review HERE). I think, having become pretty sick of superhero movies doing the SAME DAMN THINGS OVER & OVER AGAIN these past several years, I really bought into these characters & this universe as it finally felt like we were getting a slightly different sort of superhero movie. I prefer lighthearted humor in my superhero movies to the dreariness of things like Nolan’s Batman trilogy (those films, other than Ledger’s performance, have really started to go down in my estimation). I guess I’ve just never taken these sort of movies seriously so, for me, one with a sense of humor works better. Plus, of course, the soundtrack was indeed awesome! An awesome soundtrack will always make me like a movie even more. And… Groot. GROOT! I love Groot. Who doesn’t love Groot?

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is, exactly as I was hoping & expecting, loads of fun but not as good as the first film. Which is fine as it’s hard to top that first film. I always enjoy the introduction of new characters and seeing them get to know each other, which was especially great in the first film and obviously missing from this one. We get to see our main characters’ relationships with each other develop a little more but not quite as much as I’d hoped. But, hey – you know there’ll be another one of these films (and I’ll happily be watching it) so hopefully we’ll get even more character development in the next film. I can’t really say we learned much more about these characters than we did the first time around.

I’ll say that, for this sequel, they’ve upped the humor even more. Maybe they felt the need to after Deadpool? I’m certainly not complaining – I’m loving this “funny superhero movie” thing. Between this and The LEGO Batman Movie and that great trailer for the next Thor film, I’m starting to actually enjoy these superhero movies again instead of almost finding them a chore to sit through. For example: I didn’t even bother with Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad but hubby probably wants to see Wonder Woman and I suppose that means I should catch up on those I’ve missed, but…. Meh! Sounds like way too much work. If that’s the way I feel about having to watch a movie, being a movie-obsessed blogger, they’re clearly doing something wrong with those films. Right? The Guardians films aren’t a chore. They’re fun and I actually enjoy them. That’s the way it should be.

If you loved the first film, you’ll definitely like this one too. If you don’t love the sense of humor thing but want to watch a superhero movie, I’d say there’s still plenty here that you’ll like. The story is… Okay. As far as superhero stories go, it’s pretty standard stuff (to be honest, I hardly ever fully remember the stories in superhero films). But it’s the main characters who really make these two films and they again don’t disappoint. People my age are also gonna love the involvement of a couple of big actors in this one (I actually have no clue if this has been kept under wraps so I’ll say no more other than that I felt a little funny seeing someone again at first. In a good way… 😉 ). There’s also enough serious stuff going on to balance out the humor so that this feels like a Marvel film and doesn’t go full-on silly like some cheesy Eighties flick. It’s probably quite a hard balance to achieve and I think these films stay on the right side of the line. I love these characters and I don’t think we’d care about them as much as we do if the movies were too silly.


Yes, I really enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. As expected, it’s not as good as the first but it’s still a worthy sequel that will keep fans happy and wanting more. And it’s a hell of a lot more fun than most superhero films these days. Give me Groot over moody Batman! Speaking of Groot, I’ll finish with him and with the soundtrack as these are the two things that really make me adore these movies.

If you don’t like Baby Groot, you aren’t going to like this movie (or me, since we can’t be friends if you don’t like Baby Groot). 😉 They clearly knew they were on to a winner with this character and his adorable cuteness is used to full effect. As my hubby asked afterwards, did they rely on him a little too much in this film? Hmm. Probably. But I loved each & every Baby Groot scene. You can’t have too much of a good thing! But if you prefer moody Batman, you probably don’t love these films or Baby Groot anyway. I’m sure Guardians fans will love the excessive Groot cuteness as much as I did. As for the soundtrack: Once again, it was pretty awesome. But definitely not as awesome as the first one. Damn! I avoided looking at the tracklisting beforehand as I wanted all the songs to be a surprise. Maybe it was less impressive since it wasn’t as unexpected the second time around? Still, though, there are some great songs and it’s a lot better than 99% of movie soundtracks these days so I’m just being overly picky because I love the first film. But I’m happy with this sequel and am already looking forward to seeing these characters in more films.

My Rating: 8/10

Is there a scene after the credits?: Hahaha! It’s a Marvel film! Do I really need to answer this? 😉 Okay… No. There isn’t one. There’s… Four? I think it was four. I lost count. And, yes, they are SO worth staying for. Especially two of them. There are scenes throughout the credits plus one after the credits. So hold your pee as one of the two best is that very final one.

Stan Lee cameo: Hubby loved it and said it was probably the best one yet. He knows a lot more about this Marvel stuff than I do but I’m pretty sure you can read about it if you want to as I’ve already seen lots of people talking about this one. 🙂

The Circle by Dave Eggers (Book Review)

The film adaptation of The Circle by Dave Eggers is out today in the US (there’s no current UK release date that I can find. Hmm…). It was directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly & Bill Paxton (R.I.P.). I’ll probably try to go to the film at some point, so will of course review that if I do. For now, here’s my review of the novel…

The Circle by Dave Eggers

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Fast, thrilling and compulsively addictive, The Circle is Dave Eggers’ bestselling novel about our obsession with the internet and where it may lead. When Mae Holland lands her dream job at the world’s most powerful internet company, she has no idea what awaits behind the doors of The Circle…

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books where I loved the concept & agreed with its stance that, basically, the Internet & big corporations (such as the one that Fincher’s The Social Network is about) are evil. Okay, yes – I’m a blogger and I admit that I love to tweet but I’d happily hop into a time machine to go back to the Eighties and live without this sort of technology as I think we were better off without it. The world is a dreadful place & we’re living in an Orwellian dystopia. But we actually brought this all on ourselves, which I think even Orwell didn’t fully foresee. Hell, even Orwell couldn’t predict something as absurd as the rise of the Kardashi-thingies & wannabes! 😉 I blame them for society’s devolution (enabled by the Internet, of course). But back to this book…

I bring up Orwell as The Circle is indeed in a similar vein to 1984. But dystopian novels are more popular than ever and this is yet another of many that come nowhere near that masterpiece. I was pretty disappointed with The Circle overall. I absolutely love this genre and, as I said, I fully agree with this novel’s beliefs so I did expect to thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, I’ve read 14 books so far this year (that’s a lot for me!) and this is possibly my least favorite. Damn. I didn’t expect that.

I found The Circle a bit too long & meandering. It started out okay but, by halfway through, it was becoming a bit of a chore to read as its lead character (Mae Holland, played by Emma Watson in the film) was becoming more and more and MORE unlikable. I think her character is the main problem I had with the novel as I always struggle to enjoy a book when I hate its main character. This can only very occasionally be made up for if the story is exceptionally good but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case with The Circle. I know the book’s whole point is that The Circle (the evil corporation in the story) is almost cult-like and that its believers follow blindly while the reader can see what’s really going on but, ugh, you just want to slap the shit out of Mae and knock some damn sense into her! I suppose Emma Watson is a good choice for the role in the film, though, as she’s seriously starting to get on my tits lately. But I’m hoping that the film will write her character slightly differently and give her some sense.

Well, I plan to check out the movie anyway since I always like to see how novels get adapted. Maybe they can actually improve on the book (it does happen sometimes). I still really like the overall idea behind the novel & its very obvious message even though I don’t think the story and its unlikable lead character do well to convey that message & the seriousness with which we should be taking it. I think I was just hoping for something a little more insightful and less obvious. The Circle doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know and I’m not sure if it was trying to be satirical or not but, if it was, it gave the novel an odd tone that didn’t really work. I prefer my dystopian literature to either be proper satire or full-on bleak, depressing dreariness! The Circle can’t quite decide what it wants to be but I do appreciate its effort to bring further attention to a very important topic we should be taking far more seriously. I think, unfortunately, the satire maybe doesn’t work simply because this book isn’t as exaggerated as Eggers may have originally intended. This story doesn’t feel like a distant future – it feels like it has already happened.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Here’s a trailer for the movie (as is often the case lately, I think it gives too much away):

My Top Ten Al Pacino Movies

Happy Birthday to Al Pacino, who turns 77 today.

He’s a bit overrated, right? Ha! Just trying to get your attention. 😉 To be fair, though, Pacino has never been a favorite actor of mine. I can see why guys like him as he’s been in so many (admittedly good) gangster films. He’s the Steven Seagal of good “guy” movies instead of shit “guy” movies. Right?? For the most part, I think Pacino has lucked out in being in some very big films. I think he’s great in the Godfather films but otherwise is too over the top sometimes. And he’s been in some real stinkers! As has Robert De Niro, of course. Of the two, though, I’d have to say I prefer De Niro.

Well, Pacino has a lot of fans even if I’m not really one of them. And, okay, he’s been in some great films. Better than those Steven Seagal ones, anyway! Here are My Top Ten Al Pacino Movies:

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

14. Gigli (yikes)
13. Dick Tracy
12. Sea Of Love
11. The Insider (probably deserves to be higher but I can’t remember much of it now)

Top Ten:

10. Insomnia

9. Frankie And Johnny

8. The Devil’s Advocate

7. Dog Day Afternoon

6. Scent Of A Woman

5. Carlito’s Way

4. Donnie Brasco

3. Scarface

2. Heat

1. The Godfather I & II

Some I’ve Not Seen:
The Panic In Needle Park, Serpico, Glengarry Glen Ross, Any Given Sunday, S1m0ne, The Godfather III

My Top Ten Clint Howard Movies

Happy Birthday to Clint Howard, who turns 58 today.

As I did a Top Ten of movies directed by his big brother Ron Howard a few weeks ago, I figured I should also do a Clint Howard Top Ten. Of course, several movies appear in both lists as Ron often casts his brother in a small role. And as he’s often in small roles, I couldn’t find images of him in some of the below movies. Well, I suppose you can picture him in those anyway – he has a memorable face! 🙂

Here are My Top Ten Clint Howard Movies:

The Remainder That I’ve Seen (I hate 16-18 & strongly dislike 14 & 15!):

18. Halloween (2007)
17. How The Grinch Stole Christmas
16. The Cat In The Hat
15. Little Nicky
14. The Waterboy
13. Fun With Dick And Jane
12. That Thing You Do!
11. Edtv

Top Ten:

10. Parenthood

9. Backdraft

8. Curious George

7. The Austin Powers Movies

6. Night At The Museum 2

5. The Rocketeer

4. Apollo 13

3. Splash

2. Cocoon

1. The Jungle Book

Saw But Don’t Remember:
Tango & Cash, The Paper

Some I’ve Not Seen:
Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, The Wraith, Gung Ho, Far And Away, Leprechaun 2, Ice Cream Man, Barb Wire, My Dog Skip, The Lords Of Salem

And I’ll never ever forget him in this episode of Star Trek. He played Balok in the Original Series episode The Corbomite Maneuver.

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988) Blind Spot Review

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton, David Bowie

Music by Peter Gabriel

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short & I’ll be totally honest – The Last Temptation Of Christ was on my 2017 Blind Spot list mainly because I wanted to see David Bowie’s role in it. So now I can say I have! All five minutes (at most) of it, toward the end of the 2 hour & 44 minute film. I suppose I also wanted to add another Martin Scorsese film to my ranked list of his films that I’ve seen (it doesn’t quite make it into the top ten, out of the 12 I’ve seen, nor does it make the list of My Top Ten Harry Dean Stanton Movies). Not gonna lie – out of almost a year & a half of doing this Blind Spot thing, this film is easily my least favorite & was the biggest struggle to work my way through.

I won’t get into the film’s story and religious beliefs. I watched this because I’m a film fan & it’s a movie by a very respected director with some big name stars (and because: David Bowie). No, “biblical dramas” are not at all the type of genre I go for (give me sci-fi) so that wasn’t going to help but it’s definitely overlong and it didn’t feel as, I don’t know… As well put together as most of Scorsese’s other work? I know nothing about filmmaking but this just isn’t up there with the likes of something like Goodfellas (also a genre that’s not at all my type of thing but a good film is a good film, whatever the genre). Not that this isn’t a good film… It must be a decent piece of filmmaking considering that Scorsese was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for it, the film’s one & only nomination. Hmm. It’s very hard to review respected films that just really didn’t speak to you personally! That’s why I’m keeping this very short for a Blind Spot review. I’d love to instead hear from fellow bloggers who, unlike me, have strong opinions one way or another about this film. I do know it was & still is very controversial & hated by some while there are others who think it’s another Scorsese masterpiece.

The acting is solid and Dafoe does a good job but I also felt that the acting let the film down a bit. I didn’t think “Wow – so-and-so was brilliant in this film!” the way I’ve thought some of the actors were pretty amazing in the majority of Scorsese’s other films. Some felt very miscast (Keitel) while some are actors I’ve never been particularly impressed with (Hershey). Okay okay – and my beloved Bowie! I fully admit that acting was never his biggest talent… 😉 However, he did okay in his very small role & didn’t feel as out of place as some of those in larger roles. Harry Dean Stanton was a highlight, though – he’s such an underrated actor.

Overall, I’m sorry to say that this is one of those films that I won’t remember much of a year or so from now. There weren’t really any specific scenes that stood out in my mind (we all know the story already anyway so I saw pretty much exactly what I expected, although this is a somewhat alternative version). I was especially disappointed that the acting didn’t stand out for me and it seriously felt even longer than it already was, especially at the end when we’re given a long look at an alternative life for Jesus? Sorry. I didn’t love it. It’s not a bad film but I’d only recommend it to those interested in religious dramas or to serious Martin Scorsese fans who want to see all he’s done. Ugh. I feel like a bad blogger for not loving a Scorsese film.

My Rating: 6/10

Only I would review The Last Temptation Of Christ & Smurfs: The Lost Village in the same week… Have a nice weekend, everyone!

My Top Ten William Sadler Movies

Happy Birthday to William Sadler, who turns 67 today.

Sadler is a great “Hey, it’s that guy!“. I doubt many people other than hardcore movie fans could name him but most people will know his face. He’s been in 165 things according to IMDb. I’m a fan thanks mainly to his Frank Darabont/Stephen King connections. I wish Darabont, King, and Darabont’s usual favorite actors would work together all the time! Come on, Darabont – would you hurry up & adapt King’s fantastic The Long Walk?! And please once again give Sadler at least a small role. And Jeffrey DeMunn! Okay – I’m getting off topic. I just love Darabont’s King adaptations & he’s had the rights to The Long Walk, a favorite of mine, for ages. I. WANT. TO. SEE. IT. NOW. 😉

Sadler’s Darabont/King movies may be my favorites but my favorite role has to be his Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He stole the show in that one – I wonder if he’s fond of that role? He should be! I think he got to play quite a different character in that film & he really stood out. It would be cool to see him in more unusual roles like that one. But not necessarily lead roles – sometimes it’s cool to be a “Hey, it’s that guy!” guy.

As always, I’ll count down to my favorite films as opposed to performance. What a great, mixed bag to choose from. Here are My Top Ten William Sadler Movies:

The Other Two I’ve Seen:

12. Hard To Kill
11. Disturbing Behavior

Top Ten:

10. Man On A Ledge

9. August Rush

8. K-9 (Haha! Can’t even find a picture of Sadler in this as “Salesman Don”. So here’s James Belushi & the dog…)

7. Iron Man 3

6. Die Hard 2

5. Project X

4. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

3. The Mist

2. The Green Mile

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Sadler has also been in lots of TV shows, some of which I’ve seen him in, but the one movie of his that I’ve not yet seen but really want to is Rush starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jason Patric & Sam Elliott (stud).

Here’s Sadler as Death with Bill & Ted. Best two out of three!

Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017) Review

Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)

Directed by Kelly Asbury

Based on The Smurfs by Peyo

Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Jake Johnson, Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts

Production company: Sony Pictures Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting race through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history.

My Opinion:

I don’t have the energy to “review” this. I suppose Smurfs: The Lost Village isn’t as bad as those godawful live action movies they did with Doogie Howser but that’s not saying much. I know I’m probably too picky on kids’ movies but it’s hard not to be when Pixar & Disney have proven that it is actually possible to make really good movies that people of all ages enjoy. This movie has that “straight to video” feel and it’s one that parents will stick on for their kids to watch while they go & do housework or something. So I suppose that’s one positive thing about it? They should stick that on the cover when it comes out on DVD! “Smurfs: The Lost Village is a good ‘keep the kids entertained while you do housework’ movie.” – Cinema Parrot Disco.

I suppose I’m also a little extra picky since I adored the Smurfs cartoon as a kid in the Eighties so can’t help but compare. At least they didn’t mess with the look of the Smurfs too much but it unfortunately didn’t work as well as The Peanuts Movie, which I really enjoyed. To be fair, this movie is at least a step in the right direction and I don’t think it does any damage to the Smurfs legacy (unlike the horrible live action ones). Actually, I’m not entirely sure why this movie doesn’t quite work. It could’ve been worse but a dull story and some pretty bad casting of voice actors who didn’t suit the characters made for an hour & a half that felt very long in our uncomfortable cinema seats. I hated Gargamel – sorry Rainn Wilson! And Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf probably isn’t to everyone’s taste… His voice can get highly irritating after an hour & a half (or two minutes). I guess Demi Lovato was fine as Smurfette since I didn’t really give her voice any thought and didn’t know until the end credits who had played her. There’s some bland & totally forgettable pop music in the movie, which always annoys me in kids’ films. Oh – except for Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65, which is a thoroughly embarrassing guilty pleasure of mine. Pure cheese! But less embarrassing than this movie.

Okay – a slight spoiler now (if you care). But as my kid pointed out during the movie, she knew all about the lost village already thanks to the toys that have been released (my kid likes to complain about SPOILERS! It’s adorable). The totally predictable & not at all surprising mystery of the lost village is that it’s all girl Smurfs. So Smurfette is finally not the only female Smurf. I’d have never guessed! I only bring it up because it felt like that all female community on The Walking Dead, giving me & hubby the opportunity to make Negan jokes to each other throughout the film to help ease our boredom. Maybe we can make Smurfs jokes to ease our boredom while watching The Walking Dead next season (since that show SUCKS lately – why do we keep watching?!). I think this “review” is finished. I’m going to go do some housework.

My Rating: 4.5/10

My Top Ten John Ratzenberger Movies

Happy Birthday to John Ratzenberger, who turns 70 today.

Ratzenberger was of course first mainly known for playing Cliff Clavin on Cheers & then for doing voices in the majority of the Pixar films. Thanks to this, he probably has the absolute best Top Ten of the many actor/actress top ten lists that I’ve done on this blog. I’m sometimes scraping the bottom of the barrel for the bottom of these movie lists but all (12! Ha!) of the movies in Ratzenberger’s list below are absolutely brilliant.

As usual, I’m ranking these in order of my favorite film instead of performance. Favorite performance? I’m not sure but I do love his school of fish in Finding Nemo. So here are My Top Ten John Ratzenberger Movies that I’ve seen:

The Remainder:

17. Cars 2
16. Planes
15. Cars
14. The Good Dinosaur
13. Finding Dory
12. Monsters University
11. Brave

Top Ten:

10. Ratatouille

9. A Bug’s Life

8. Up

7. Inside Out

6. TIE: Spirited Away (dubbed) & Finding Nemo

5. The Superman Movies (I & II)

4. Monsters, Inc

3. The Toy Story Movies

2. WALL-E

1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

The biggest John Ratzenberger movie I’ve not seen is Gandhi. It’s an alternate on my Blind Spot list so I’ll get around to it someday!

Here’s a fun compilation of some of his Pixar roles:

My Top Ten Ewan McGregor Movies

Happy Birthday to Ewan McGregor, who turns 46 today. Ewan McGregor isn’t someone I’ve ever thought of as a favorite actor but I’ve always liked him & will happily watch a movie if he’s in it. Plus he’s cute. And, hey, he’s not afraid of some full frontal nudity. Right?! 😀

So happy birthday to sweet Ewan McGregor! Here are My Top Ten Ewan McGregor Movies, counting down to my favorite (and, yeah, starting at 17… I’ve seen 18 in total including a tie. Oh, and more if I didn’t count the Star Wars movies as one. Never mind!).

17. A Life Less Ordinary
16. Nightwatch
15. Young Adam
14. Angels & Demons
13. Blue Juice
12. Beauty And The Beast
11. The Island

TOP TEN:

10. TIE: Moulin Rouge! & Little Voice

9. The Impossible

8. Robots

7. Brassed Off

6. Beginners

5. T2 Trainspotting

4. The Star Wars Prequels

3. Big Fish

2. Shallow Grave

1. Trainspotting

Plus he had a cameo in A Million Ways To Die In The West but I’ve not counted that. The one film of his that I haven’t seen but really want to is Velvet Goldmine.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 🙂

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Book Review)

13 Reasons Why is a new young adult TV series being released on Netflix this Friday (March 31st). There will be 13 episodes (all available on Friday) and the show is based on the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, in which a teenage boy receives a package containing audiotapes recorded by a classmate who has recently committed suicide. The show was directed by Spotlight’s Tom McCarthy & produced by Selena Gomez. I read the book recently so figured I should review it before the show airs. Here’s my review…

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

What It’s About: (via Goodreads)
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.”

My Thoughts:

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this book. I’ll say it was very “readable”. I usually take a good few weeks to read a book (due to lack of free time) but this was a quick & easy read plus I found that I really didn’t want to put it down as I was truly curious to see how it would end (I read it over a weekend). It’s an uncomfortable subject matter, however, and I still don’t know if I feel right about how it was handled. Plus, the below trailer for the TV show makes it look almost like an “exciting mystery”, which I don’t think is necessarily a responsible way to market the story. I guess we’ll see how the show unfolds. This IS a book about suicide. The only “mystery” is why the girl did it, which she explains in her audiotapes. The trailer’s mood just feels a bit off to me.

I’ll say this is very much a teen book but it didn’t feel immature or like the author had dumbed it down for its target audience. My teenage years are far far (far!) behind me but this book feels like it was written in a way that would seem genuine & relevant to a modern teen. I know nothing of the book’s success but I would imagine that current teens can relate to it whereas I feel that certain other young adult books are too obviously written by authors whose teen years are far far (far!) behind them. Okay, yeah – I’ve just looked up the author (Jay Asher) and he’s my sort of age. I also think that he did a good job with the character of Hannah Baker, the girl who commits suicide. It can’t be easy for a middle-aged man to capture the feelings of a teenage girl but I think he did well with her character (probably even better than with the main male character, Clay Jensen).

I’ll of course avoid major spoilers but the main moral of this story is to treat people with kindness and to be aware of the signs to watch for that may indicate that someone is suicidal. I of course agree with this message and would love to think that this book could save some lives but, well, I don’t think the world works that way. If anything, it worries me that this story could play into the rather typical teenage thoughts about suicide: that whole “this will make people notice me & understand what I was going through” thing. No. The bullies, etc? They didn’t care beforehand & they wouldn’t care afterwards. I hope no one thinks that because of this book. However, from the other point of view, who knows? Maybe it would help some teens to notice the warning signs & perhaps offer someone some help. Maybe. The nice ones. (Is it obvious that I thought a lot of the people in my high school were uncaring assholes?!)

I admit that Thirteen Reasons Why was a bit of a page-turner, even if the subject matter left me feeling uncomfortable. Clay listens to several cassette tapes from Hannah, each focusing on a different classmate & the role each person played in her final decision. This meant we were told several stories as Clay listened to each tape, which was an interesting way to set up this novel. Hannah Baker was a well fleshed-out character though, interestingly, kind of hard to like. Maybe that was partly the point… Due to various incidents, she turned inward so I suppose she was kind of ignored. Clay Jensen comes across as a little less genuine but I think this is due to his seeming so simple in comparison to Hannah’s complexity. Overall I’d probably recommend this book to anyone who likes young adult fiction and who is emotionally stable. But I wouldn’t necessarily want anyone who is anything like Hannah Baker’s character to read it…

My Rating: 3/5

Here’s the trailer for the Netflix series, starring Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen & Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker:

The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Directed & Written by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum

Narrated by Quentin Tarantino

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

My Opinion:

Yesterday I reviewed Jackie Brown as part of my 2017 Blind Spot Series & for Quentin Tarantino’s 54th birthday. In that review, I talked a bit about my disappointment over The Hateful Eight. It was hard to not compare the two films as I watched them almost back to back but it made me appreciate Jackie Brown even more and made me realize, in comparison, just how overblown The Hateful Eight is.

I already went on about this movie in yesterday’s review so I’ll keep this one short: The Hateful Eight is easily my least favorite Tarantino film (I’ve ranked them all HERE). It’s not a horrible film but he’s clearly believing his own hype too much & needs to return to the simplicity of a really good script as in things like Reservoir Dogs. His films have been getting more & more over the top and this one finally went fully overboard. It’s one thing to be over the top but another to be so dragged out & rather unenjoyable, which is something that I can’t say of any of his other films.

Okay – I’ll try to say some good things about this movie. Well, the best thing about it is Ennio Morricone’s score (but I’ll come back to that). The two main reasons I watched this were for Morricone and to see Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Oscar-nominated performance since I’m a fan of hers (plus to be able to say I’ve seen all of Tarantino’s films, I suppose). The clue is in the title and all these characters are indeed hateful (which isn’t going to make it easy to like a movie very much) but Leigh was great & her character was the one I enjoyed watching the most. I’m glad she got the recognition for this role as the movie itself lets its talented actors & composer down. Samuel L Jackson & Kurt Russell were also very good (although Jackson was, once again, his over-the-top Tarantino self) but no one else in the cast really stood out compared to these three. The other characters were extremely weak for a Tarantino film – he usually manages to make even the smallest characters in a film interesting. Maybe it should’ve just been The Hateful Three. But that’s a shit title. Did he come up with the title first & then had to write in five extra boring characters? Ah ha! That must be what happened. Plus, I think there were actually more than eight so he’s full of shit (you don’t count, Channing Tatum! The Hateful Nine isn’t a good title).


But back to Ennio Morricone. Morricone is a movie music God. Like I said in my Jackie Brown interview, the one thing Tarantino always does right in his movies is the music and I know he was overjoyed when he got Morricone to agree to score this (I want Morricone to score my whole life. That would be awesome). Is it Morricone’s best score ever? Well, no, but you can’t really top something like The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Yes, he probably won the Oscar for this mainly because the Academy realized they’d seriously f*^kd up in never giving him an Oscar (other than an honorary one) until now. I hadn’t even realized that beforehand – he’s someone you’d just assume already had one. Anyway! Here’s a good interview with Tarantino talking about how he got Morricone to do this score. Wow. Morricone is a true professional. It was a very last minute thing and Morricone did it in very little time & in a way he’s not used to usually working. Combined with unused parts of his score for The Thing, I can’t believe they managed to pull this all together so well in that length of time. Tarantino of course wants to use him again so just imagine what we’d get if Morricone is involved in the project from the very start. It gives me chills thinking about it. I just hope, if they do work together again, that the movie can live up to the score next time!

Oh. The cinematography was good too. There’s one more thing! The last & final good thing. The outdoor shots were quite beautiful and the opening, combined with Morricone’s score, was very good (I’ll post the opening scene below). Too bad the majority of the film is inside a dark, tiny cabin!!! To start out in a rather epic sort of way with this beautiful snowy landscape and to then end up stuck in a dark little cabin for what felt like far more than the 3 hour & 7 minute running time was so damn cruel. To us. Cruel to the audience. Never mind the characters! Although I suppose they would’ve frozen to death outside, so…

The Hateful Eight. It’s too damn long. It has a good score from a true master. It has three really good actors doing the best they can with a weak script. It’s pretty to look at when they’re actually outside that goddamn cabin. It’s violent as f^*k. It’s definitely a Tarantino film. I still like Tarantino’s films & I’ll still watch them all despite finding this one the most disappointing so far. To be fair, it could’ve been worse. But it could’ve been SO much better. And this review was meant to be short. Like Tarantino, I sometimes don’t know when enough is enough.

My Rating: 6/10

Jackie Brown (1997) Blind Spot Review 

Happy Birthday to Quentin Tarantino, who is 54 today. I figured this would be a good time to finally review my 2017 Blind Spot choice of Jackie Brown. And tomorrow I’ll be reviewing The Hateful Eight, which I’ve finally just watched as well. At least I liked one of these two movies! Here’s my review for Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Based on Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to finally watching Jackie Brown, the only Tarantino-directed film I’d never watched (okay – not counting that Four Rooms movie or his guest director credit on Sin City, which isn’t a movie that I liked anyway).

Jackie Brown is an odd one in that I’m of course used to Tarantino’s style now & this one has a very different feel to it. I suppose the main reason for this is that the film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch instead of a Tarantino original story like his other films. I think this works in the film’s favor but I’d also hazard a guess that it isn’t the number one favorite film for most diehard Tarantino fans.

I’ll be honest – I think someone needs to rein Tarantino in a bit. Not long after watching Jackie Brown I watched the overblown The Hateful Eight and it definitely made me appreciate Brown much more. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Jackie Brown. It’s a good but uneven film and, although I confess that I know nothing about the book and have never read anything by Elmore Leonard in my life, it feels pretty obvious which bits were probably embellished by Tarantino. There’s a welcome subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown that’s especially missing in Tarantino’s most current films. Don’t get me wrong – I like his movies and know they’re going to be over the top (Kill Bill being my favorite, which is OTT to the extreme, but in a good way). But…. What am I trying to say? I don’t know. I think Tarantino is just another director who has come to believe his own hype a bit too much & he needs to take a step back and focus on the great writing that made his older films like Reservoir Dogs such a success. Okay – I’m focusing too much on not liking The Hateful Eight. More about that one tomorrow but I can’t help but compare since I watched these two almost back to back & they’re so very different.

I loved the overall mood of Jackie Brown, which was of course helped once again by the use of a truly fantastic soundtrack. If there’s one thing that Tarantino always does right, it’s picking the music for his films. I loved this soundtrack so much. Best music (as in, songs as opposed to score) that I’ve heard in a film in a long time! Remember when movie soundtracks used to be good like this?? Sorry to go on about this so much but it’s not something that is done as well in films nowadays. When I think back to my teen years, I bought loads of movie (song) soundtracks. There were so many good ones then. What the hell happened? The music in a movie is very important to me as I think it plays such an integral part in creating a film’s mood. I keep saying “song” to differentiate as I’m actually more of a lover of original film scores than of “song” soundtracks usually but, when a movie puts together a lot of previously recorded music as perfectly as Jackie Brown does, it makes me happy. Hey – at least I have to give credit to Tarantino for getting Ennio Morricone to score The Hateful Eight. I worship people like Morricone & John Williams the way that most people worship the pretty celebrities who are in front of the cameras. Maybe I’m weird?! And, shit – I’m talking about The Hateful Eight again. Sorry.

As I said, there’s a subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown unlike in Tarantino’s more recent works and it’s these understated scenes that were easily my favorite bits of this movie. Pam Grier & Robert Forster were brilliant and I was happiest when the movie went back to the scenes involving their characters. Loved their chemistry! I totally wanted a love story there (if you’ve not seen it, I won’t say if this happens or not).

There are bigger name stars in this one (Robert De Niro and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson) but the scenes involving them were the ones that I felt had a little too much of that “Tarantino vibe” going on. Who the hell doesn’t love Samuel L. Jackson, right? He’s awesome. But he’s his usual “Tarantino-self” in this and, for once, I enjoyed having those Grier & Forster scenes involving more than just Tarantino/Jackson sweary banter and extreme violence.

Speaking of extreme violence, this is the least violent Tarantino movie (well, maybe that Four Rooms thing isn’t violent?). I think it’s the first of his films that I was able to watch with my eyes fully open the entire time! I mean, it’s of course plenty violent but it’s not explicitly shown. I’m a wuss. I prefer to not see full-on gore. Yet Kill Bill is my favorite so I suppose that makes no sense… Eh, I just love a good revenge story (and women who kick ass). And I have yet to watch all of Kill Bill with my eyes fully open. I guess, looking at it that way, Jackie Brown is the first & only Tarantino movie that I’ve actually seen. 😉 And I appreciated that.


Perhaps Tarantino should try adapting someone else’s work again sometime. I do like his style and I didn’t mind Jackie Brown having that Tarantino stamp on it but I also liked the way in which adapting someone else’s work meant he kind of managed to keep the story more on track & to not go so medieval on our asses. Again, I think Jackie Brown is also unfortunately somewhat uneven because of this and it’s certainly not a perfect film but I do think it’s better than several of Tarantino’s other films (yet I don’t think it’s widely accepted as so?). I did a post a very long time ago ranking the Tarantino films I’ve seen, which I’ve finally updated HERE. Have a look if you really want to see where I’ve placed Jackie Brown (although you can probably guess where The Hateful Eight ranks!).

Jackie Brown is a good film. It probably deserves more credit than it gets and I’m glad to have added it to my Blind Spot list as it was well worth finally watching. Grier & Forster are the true stars who make this film and it’s unfortunate that they’re somewhat overshadowed by “more famous” names being in the movie as well. I have a confession: I seriously don’t know Robert Forster. I know his face but never could have told you his name and had to look him up after watching this. He’s been in 177 things!!! And I watch loads of movies & know my actors. Is he one of these actors who flies under the radar & won’t get any proper recognition until he’s gone? Or have I just seriously overlooked him for years? He’s so damn good in this & I’m happy to see that he got an Oscar nomination for this role. But… Where the f*^k is Pam Grier’s nomination?!? What the f*^k, you m*^herf*^king Academy?!? I’m going to go Samuel L. Jackson on your asses! She’s great. She’s super sexy at fortysomething. I want her & Forster’s characters to live happily ever after (maybe they do? I’m not saying). I’m going to go listen to that Delfonics song now…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – The Delfonics:

And here’s the opening of Jackie Brown, with Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street. God I love this soundtrack. Can I just post YouTube videos of the whole soundtrack??:

Who Is He (And What Is He To You?) – Bill Withers:

And this one is bizarre. I like it! Good job, Tarantino. I’ll stop posting videos now. I need to buy this soundtrack… The Lions And The Cucumber – The Vampire Sound Incorporation:

Wait. Gotta end with Pam Grier! Long Time Woman – Pam Grier:

Shit. I didn’t post Strawberry Letter 23. Or Street Life… (This is a good soundtrack. Watch the movie. Listen to the songs). 🙂

Get Out (2017) Review

Get Out (2017)

Directed & Written by Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Catherine Keener

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Get Out follows a young interracial couple who visit the mysterious estate of the woman’s parents.

My Opinion:

Get Out was a pretty good and enjoyable film, especially for something from the “horror” genre (90% of modern horror movies suck). Then again, it’s not exactly your typical shitty, slasher-type crap. It had some thought put into it, a decent script & acting, and some likable characters. It also feels somewhat original compared to the usual stale horror movie crap that Hollywood pumps out. However, I don’t think it’s as groundbreaking as I’d expected from the little I had read of it. To be fair, I’m old & watch too many movies so I’m harder to impress but I do feel like I’ve seen this movie a few times already, just with a different spin.

Okay, I can’t do this completely spoiler-free. HUBBY – STOP READING HERE. (He hates even the tiniest spoilers). I’m not exactly going to spoil this movie but I AM going to name a few movies this film immediately brought to my mind as I watched it. So, if you’ve seen them, I guess that spoils this one for you. I’d already heard this movie compared to one specific film when skimming some reviews & it ruined it a bit as it meant the ending wasn’t really a surprise to me. So, SLIGHT SPOILERS NOW:

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This is very much The Stepford Wives (with racism instead of sexism) and I wish I hadn’t read that beforehand. However, I think updating the concept behind The Stepford Wives was actually a good idea & it worked very well in Get Out. I’ve always liked The Stepford Wives (and, bizarrely, The Stepford Children, a cheesy 1987 TV movie that I was obsessed with at the time & reviewed HERE). The other two movies I was reminded of were two guilty pleasures: the body horror classic Society (which I sort-of-reviewed HERE) and the super cheesy but kind of fun The Skeleton Key (which unfortunately has Kate Hudson in it. Ew). Between those three movies, you have Get Out. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing as plenty of movies are influenced by others and Get Out is certainly a better film than The Skeleton Key, is probably better although less memorable than Society, and is a worthy homage to the Stepford films.

I’m not going to ramble on about this film. It’s had excellent reviews & a lot of people really loved it. I can understand why as it’s a well-written social commentary with some fun comic relief provided by the dog-sitting friend. The acting was better than you get in your standard sort of horrors (just Allison Williams was weak) and I really liked the tone & use of music. But I still feel like this story has been done before & the movie is probably getting a little more hype than is deserved just because of its message. And I prefer to think the message is “Rich people are assholes”. Right??? I think that’s something we can all agree on. Yeah. Rich people. Rich people suck. 😉

There is one very important life lesson that I gained from this film: Bangs (or a fringe as they call it in the UK) do NOT suit everyone. Allison Williams, you gotta grow that shit out. That was a very bad decision.

My Rating: 7/10

Beauty And The Beast (2017) Review

Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Directed by Bill Condon

Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson

Music by Alan Menken

Plot Synopsis: The same as the 1991 animated Disney film. Just watch the animated version instead if you haven’t already.

My Opinion:

Mehhhh…. I can’t be bothered to write much of a review for this movie. It’s a cash grab – we all know that. I can’t really trash Disney, though. I grew up on Disney films & I’ll always love Disney, even when they sell out. It doesn’t matter – the majority of film studios, actors & actresses, directors, etc etc, all sell out at some point. As long as Disney keep making some original & quality films alongside these pointless remakes & sequels, I can forgive some selling-out. But I’m sorry to say that this remake of Beauty And The Beast is indeed completely pointless.

I actually didn’t mind the live-action Cinderella (which I reviewed HERE). The kid watched that again recently & I still don’t mind it. At least it’s not a straight copy. I also enjoyed Maleficent quite a bit more than this as it felt somewhat original. With Beauty And The Beast copying everything, right down to giving us inferior versions of the fantastic songs from the original, I just don’t see the point. Okay – there were a few extra things added in storywise (and, I can’t remember now – one or maybe two new boring songs) that didn’t really enhance what was already a good & simple fairy tale.

Emma Watson: Wrong for the part. I’ve thought that since it was first announced that she would be Belle. She doesn’t do a horrible job but Hermoine as Belle was always going to be very distracting. Dan Stevens: Nope! Didn’t work. Plus he’s not hot enough (cartoon beast-turned-human was a babe). Kevin Kline: He was okay. Luke Evans: Actually, I guess he was pretty perfect as Gaston. Josh Gad: Not too bad – he was kind of fun but all I can hear is Olaf. Ewan McGregor: He did okay copying the original version of the character but the French accent was just confusing. Well, all the accents in this were confusing (but I suppose the same can be said of the original). Emma Thompson: Perfect casting but YOU CAN NEVER TOP ANGELA LANSBURY, dammit!!!! Chip was still cute, though. Just not as cute as animated Chip. But nothing in this topped the original in any way, so….

Whatever. It’s not a horrible movie. The CGI is decent. No, wait – I suppose the CGI actually quite good but we’re all spoiled these days & expect perfection. If you love the animated film, odds are that you’ll want to watch this at some point but I wouldn’t say you have to rush out to see it. If you haven’t seen the animated film for some reason, please just watch that first. Or instead. I’ll give this an extra half point since my kid seemed to enjoy it. I guess that’s all the really counts, right? 😉

My Rating: 6/10

My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies

Happy birthday to Gary Oldman, who turns 59 today. I’m posting a Top Ten on a day other than Thursday! This is messing with my head. I think I’m actually just putting off reviewing that pointless remake of Beauty And The Beast

Anyway, back to Gary Oldman! I must admit that I never really noticed Oldman until more recent years. But I don’t mean that in a bad way – I think it’s a great thing. I’ve seen him called a chameleon many times & it’s very true. It’s amazing how utterly & completely different he looks (and acts) from one role to the next. He truly becomes the characters he plays and not every actor does that. I mean, I feel like I pick on Tom Cruise too often for some strange reason but he’s just always Tom Cruise to me. Even in roles where he gives it his all, I still just see Tom Cruise. Tom Hanks is that way a bit too much too (but you still gotta love Tom Hanks). Okay – I barely remember JFK AT ALL now all these years later but I’ve stuck it in the top ten even though I didn’t realize Oldman was in it. Seriously. Then when looking for images of him from it, a lot were in black & white so I thought they were the real Lee Harvey Oswald. How can you look like Lee Harvey Oswald just as much as Sid Vicious???

Well, as always I’m ranking these according to how much I like the movies as opposed to the individual performances as I find that harder to judge. This is probably why I appreciate actors like Oldman – I care more about a movie’s story & its characters than who is starring in it so I like actors who become the characters as completely as Oldman does.

Here are My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies (and, also as always, I cheat a little and count series films as one). 😉

The Two Extra I’ve Seen:

12. Hannibal
11. Air Force One

Top Ten:

10. JFK

9. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

8. Kung Fu Panda 2

7. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

6. The Harry Potter Movies

5. The Batman Movies

4. The Fifth Element

3. Léon

2.True Romance

1. Sid And Nancy

Saw But Don’t Remember:
Lost In Space

Not Seen:
Henry & June, Romeo Is Bleeding, Immortal Beloved, The Scarlet Letter, Murder In The First, Basquiat, The Contender, A Christmas Carol, The Book Of Eli, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Red Riding Hood, Lawless, Paranoia, RoboCop, Child 44, The Space Between Us

Hey UK people – remember that One2One campaign starring Gary Oldman in the commercials? I just remember how much I loved the music featured (Lovely Head by Goldfrapp) so I found the ad on YouTube to share. Still love the song. At least Sid Vicious selling mobile phone service isn’t quite as weird as Johnny Rotten selling butter 🙂

My Top Ten Kurt Russell Movies

Happy Birthday (soon) to Kurt Russell, who turns 66 tomorrow.

People probably first think of Russell’s collaborations with John Carpenter when they hear his name. Looking at his filmography, those are indeed his best films (I do have Big Trouble In Little China a bit low but I could do with re-watching it).

You have to admit he did some truly dodgy movies in the 80s & 90s but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t find him kind of hot as Captain Ron. 😉 I’ve always liked Russell just fine – I won’t go out of my way to watch his movies but I certainly won’t avoid them. I’m happy that Tarantino has managed to sort of revive his career (or, at least, save him from the really dodgy movies). There are quite a few Russell films I have yet to see but I’ve just watched The Hateful Eight as I felt it was one I better see before making this list. I have to say it was a massive disappointment! Not Russell’s worst but certainly Tarantino’s. Damn.

Okay – enough rambling. Here are My Top Ten Kurt Russell Movies, counting down to my favorite (and including all 18 I’ve seen). I gotta say that numbers 1 & 2 are leagues ahead of the rest…

Top 18 (11-18 are fairly interchangeable):

18. Used Cars
17. Executive Decision
16. Unlawful Entry
15. Sky High
14. The Hateful Eight
13. Captain Ron
12. Escape From L.A.
11. Overboard

TOP TEN:

10. Backdraft

9. Breakdown

8. Vanilla Sky

7. Stargate

6. Silkwood

5. Big Trouble In Little China

4. Death Proof

3. The Fox And The Hound

2. Escape From New York

1. The Thing

Seen But Don’t Remember Well Enough To Add To List:
Tango & Cash
Tequila Sunrise

Not Seen:
Too many to list. I’m happy to take recommendations if you think I’ve missed one of Russell’s best movies.

Logan (2017) Review

Logan (2017)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a past-his-prime Logan embarking on a “road trip” across a dystopian future version of America for one final mission.

My Opinion:

I’m not going to say yet again how superheroed-out I am and that I skipped watching all superhero movies last year other than Deadpool & Captain America: Civil War. Oops – I guess I did just say it again? Anyway, I’m not a big superhero geek & don’t read any comics (well, I read Watchmen & Tank Girl so I’m lying a little) but I enjoy these movies when they’re halfway decent. The X-Men movie series has probably actually been my favorite. At least, character-wise, it’s the group of “superheroes” (okay, mutants) that I’ve been drawn to the most. The movies started out pretty good (although a little cheesy) but have ended up so disappointing in recent years. Hell, I didn’t even watch X-Men: Apocalypse or The Wolverine. That’s pretty bad considering how much I loved these characters after the first couple of films.

Then Logan came along, which looked a bit different and had a great trailer (plus a young girl kicking ass!) so I was finally once again excited to watch an X-Men movie. I suppose it helps that two of the absolute best X-Men characters are the stars of this one (Professor X is my personal favorite. Yay, Patrick Stewart!). I honestly didn’t miss having loads of other mutants in this. I find it overkill sometimes when you have too many characters, like in Civil War. Sometimes less is more and I liked so much focus being on Logan, Charles & Laura.

I really enjoyed Logan. It’s a very good film for this genre. I think the more violent, more grown-up thing worked very well for the character of Wolverine but wouldn’t necessarily work for all other comic book characters. It was the perfect “end(?)” to this character’s story (for me). And, I’m not gonna lie – I loved seeing a young girl kicking ass. Plus I love a good father/daughter-like relationship in a movie. Dafne Keen did a great job and I was a sucker for the relationship she developed with Logan as well as with Charles. And of course the further development of the existing relationship between Logan & Charles. I love that kind of shit. A fucked-up, crazy, loving mutant family! Good character development & angst & feelings. I like that! Good stuff.

I admit that I didn’t care too much about the actual story itself. The story was decent enough. I can’t say I ever take these comic book storylines too seriously anyway. With these kind of movies, I always care more about really good characters & just enough action to keep things moving along and Logan delivers as far as these two things are concerned. Did I like it more than the very first two X-Men movies? I don’t know. In some ways, yes. I think it’s the better film but certainly not as much “fun”. But it’s not meant to be – I guess it depends what you want from a comic book movie. I like either fun or serious depending on my mood and I enjoyed Logan as much as the first couple of X-Men films, just in a different sort of way. Other than that, I don’t have much more to say. I’m no expert on these movies as I haven’t read any of the comics so can’t compare. I like the films. I love the characters. I thought Logan was a great final film for Wolverine. For now. Until another sequel or prequel or evil twin or clone or time travel or some alternate reality bullshit comes along…

My Rating: 7.5/10