Swallows And Amazons (2016) Review

Swallows And Amazons (2016)

Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe

Based on Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Starring: Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott, Kelly Macdonald, Jessica Hynes, Harry Enfield, Dane Hughes, Orla Hill, Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen, Bobby McCulloch, Seren Hawkes, Hannah Jayne Thorp

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film chronicles the story of the Walker children on their adventures in the Lake District with the goal of claiming a remote island for themselves. Heading over there on the boat “Swallow”, they soon discover they’re not alone. A gang of rebellious children, the Blacketts also known as the “Amazons”, have set up camp there and a battle for the island begins. But with Britain on the brink of war and a “secret agent” looking for the Blackett children’s uncle, real battles aren’t far away and their childhood paradise is turned upside-down.

My Opinion:

This movie is based on the classic book by Arthur Ransome. Okay, I admit it – I’ve never heard of this book. I’m sorry. Maybe it wasn’t famous outside the UK when I was growing up?? Well, we saw the trailer for this before Pete’s Dragon and my kid really liked the look of it. She actually didn’t like Pete’s Dragon at all (I did!) but she seemed genuinely excited about going to see this one after watching the trailer so we went the next week. Success! She really liked this one. Think the hubby quite liked it too. What a relief after they both pretty much hated Pete’s Dragon (I didn’t!). Swallows And Amazons is a great “family” movie & a nice break from the endless stream of animated kids’ films that come out every month.

My kid is seven & a good age for this one – I’d probably recommend it for ages seven & up. Ha! 7 Up… I only drink that if I have a stomach ache. Does anyone here drink it for pleasure? Seriously – I’m curious! And I’m trying to get out of doing a review. I’m finding movie reviews a chore at the moment.

There’s nothing inappropriate in this so you’re safe to watch it with the whole family. I just think that it may not hold the attention of those under seven & the really young wouldn’t follow the story (but it’s not aimed at that age group anyway). It’s set in the lovely Lake District area of the U.K. in 1935, which appealed to me as I think it’s good for kids to see how different life was in the old days. There’s no way that today’s kids could sail across a lake, set up camp, and fend for themselves alone on an island for a few days! Well, okay, I couldn’t do that either…

I read somewhere that, as this was a series of books like Harry Potter, they’re wanting to set up a series of films in the same way. Well, there’s no way they’d be as big as Harry Potter as the stories are obviously going to be far more simple but it’s a shame that I can’t see any more being made anyway. Maybe! I’d like to see more but it feels like this movie really wasn’t promoted at all & the showing we went to wasn’t very busy.

It feels like kids might not have the patience for a series of films set in the 1930s but that’s probably not fair to say as my own kid liked it far more than I was expecting. With the kids in this film being a range of ages with different personalities, I think those watching this will find at least one character they can relate to. The story of a group of kids trying to claim a deserted island as their own while also dealing with an angry & mysterious man who claims to be pirate should have fairly wide appeal, even to today’s youth. The movie isn’t perfect & I don’t think we get to know the kids as well as we could (especially the “Amazons”) but this would be remedied if they made more films. Which I doubt they will. But, hey – hopefully there’ll be a renewed interest in the series of books now.

My Rating: 6.5/10

*I did this movie as a double feature with Lights Out (which I went to alone afterwards without the kid, obviously!). How do you like that combo?? I’ll review that one next week. Have a nice weekend, everyone!🙂

My Top Ten Tim Burton Movies

Happy Birthday to Tim Burton, who turns 58 today.

I figured it was time to do a full updated list of My Top Ten Movies Directed By Tim Burton. So, The Nightmare Before Christmas unfortunately doesn’t count since Burton didn’t direct it (it would easily be in the Top Five). I also liked his Vincent & Frankenweenie short films but will only list full-length movies. And, wow – the only Burton movie I’ve reviewed is Big Eyes (which doesn’t make it into my top ten). Well, here’s my top ten! And, yes – I’ve seen his movies from recent years as well & they sadly come nowhere near these…

10. Mars Attacks!

9. Batman Returns

8. Corpse Bride

7. Big Fish

6. Beetlejuice

5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

4. Batman

3. Ed Wood

2. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

1. Edward Scissorhands

And here’s the Ice Dance scene from Edward Scissorhands. This is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes and Danny Elfman’s beautiful music in this clip still gives me chills every time I watch it. I watch this clip every once in a while for a pick-me-up (along with the final scenes from Cinema Paradiso & City Lights). Gorgeous. Perfection. This is the type of scene that made me fall in love with movies.🙂

The Book Thief & Paper Towns Movie Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two movie adaptations of two books that I read recently. Since I read the books, I figured I better finally watch the films. I never really enjoy a movie much after reading the book and, in the case of one of these, I pretty much hated the book so I wasn’t hoping for much from the movie. Here we go!

Paper Towns (2015)

Directed by Jake Schreier

Based on Paper Towns by John Green

Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Jaz Sinclair

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After an all night adventure, Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.

My Opinion:

I did a very short review of the Paper Towns book HERE (I rated it 2.5/5). Full of hateful characters, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. The main boy (played by Nat Wolff in the movie) was okay but a bit bland. The girl he loves (Margo, played by Cara Delevingne) & his best friend (who is a sexist little shit & calls all girls “honey bunnies”) are annoying as hell. Seriously, Margo isn’t interesting & mysterious – she’s a bitch. But I liked the story, which involves Margo’s friends trying to track her down through a series of bizarre clues she’s left behind.

Once I’ve read a book, I always try to watch the movie adaptation but it’s never that exciting to me since I already know the story & get a bit bored. This one is a pretty straightforward & faithful adaptation. If you like the book, you should like the movie. I think this is a rare occasion where the film is better & I’d say it’s mainly down to them making Margo seem a little more human & less hateful. I also thought Nat Wolff did a good job as Quentin & made the character less dull than in the book. If you’re interested in the story, I’d actually recommend watching the movie & skipping the book as the book doesn’t really flesh out the characters any more than the film does and the movie doesn’t leave out anything important (from what I can remember).

Even though I’m WAY past “Young Adult” age, I still really enjoy reading/watching YA stuff as I can still relate to most of it. Trust me – when you get old like me, it’s very likely that it’ll still feel like you only just finished high school yesterday. It’s a traumatic time in life & I remember more from that time than I do from when I was a twentysomething. However, Paper Towns was one I couldn’t relate to at all. Maybe I’m finally out of touch? Or maybe John Green just doesn’t quite capture what teens are really like? The characters didn’t feel real to me, unlike the ones in things like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic film & book!). But that one was set in my own era of high school with an awesome soundtrack while Paper Towns is set now & the characters refer to things from their own youth that mean nothing to me (like singing what I assume is the Pokémon TV show theme tune). No, I think the characters are weak and are the real reason I can’t connect with Paper Towns. At least the movie improves on the book slightly so I can’t give it a low rating as it’s a good adaptation and I think plenty of teens/twentysomethings probably really like it. But I’d recommend other YA stuff to people my own age before I’d recommend this one.

My Rating: 6/10

The Book Thief (2013)

Directed by Brian Percival

Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Heike Makatsch, Barbara Auer, Roger Allam

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home.

My Opinion:

I reviewed The Book Thief novel HERE (along with all 14 books I read last year – I ranked this one my 8th favorite out of 14 & rated it 3.5/5). Unlike Paper Towns, this book had strong characters & I really cared what would happen to them. The book was actually let down slightly by its unnecessary gimmick (it’s narrated by Death aka The Grim Reaper) and did feel overlong. I really liked the book but didn’t love it like I was hoping, despite loving the characters. Still, I’m glad it got the characters right as that’s really important to me.


In this case, I’d definitely recommend reading the book before watching the film. It’s a good adaptation with fine performances but they’ve had to leave things out (as to be expected with a long book). The characters are just so richly developed in the book, which rarely gets captured as well in a film. They did come close, however – both Sophie Nélisse (Liesel – the main character) & Geoffrey Rush (Hans, her foster father) are fantastic & exactly as I pictured. Emily Watson (Rosa, her foster mother) & Nico Liersch (Rudy, her best friend) are also very good but have far less time spent on them than in the book. Rosa is a complex character so it will have been hard to capture this but I was most upset with how little we got to know Rudy in the film as I absolutely loved him & his beautiful friendship with Liesel in the book. Ben Schnetzer (as Max, the Jewish refugee they’re hiding) was also very good & as I had pictured but, again, he sadly doesn’t get enough time devoted to him in the film.

Luckily, the movie leaves out quite a lot of the Grim Reaper’s narrative. It’s done well & not distracting, whereas it kind of threw me out of the story every time they came back to it in the book. But don’t let that criticism talk you out of reading the book as I’d definitely recommend it if the story interests you. I’m not sure how to rate this movie… I thought it was quite good but, knowing the novel is better, I couldn’t help but be just a little let down despite great performances & some perfect casting. If you’re someone who really doesn’t like to read, then by all means watch the movie instead & probably add an extra point to my below rating. It’s a good film & they’ve done the best they possibly could with a somewhat difficult novel to adapt but, ultimately, the film doesn’t deliver the same emotional punch as you don’t get to know some of the characters as well as you do in the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Okay, I admit to knowing the Pokémon song very well now since my kid has become addicted to the show….

And here are some of the best Pokémon we’ve caught (I love annoying people with this!)😉

Music Video Friday: Descendents – Weinerschnitzel

Today’s video is Weinerschnitzel by the Descendents. Which doesn’t actually have a video… That’s okay – I’m the only one who likes my Music Video Fridays anyway!😉

Yesterday was Christian Slater’s birthday (I posted My Top Ten Christian Slater Movies HERE) so I wanted to post a song from my favorite Slater movie today. My number one was so close between Heathers & Pump Up The Volume and, while I think Heathers is his best film, there’s just something special about Pump Up The Volume which speaks to me & makes me choose it as my favorite.

I won’t go into my love for Pump Up The Volume since I’ve already reviewed it but one of the many things that makes it so great is the awesome soundtrack. The soundtrack includes artists such as Concrete Blonde, Ivan Neville, Liquid Jesus, Pixies, Brad Brains With Henry Rollins, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth & Cowboy Junkies. However, like so many official soundtracks, it doesn’t include my very favorites from the film! These are the Leonard Cohen songs Everybody Knows & If It Be Your Will (the soundtrack only contains a cover of one of these) & Richard Hell And The Voidoids’ Love Comes In Spurts (a song title that I adore). Then there are the great clips played by Slater’s pirate DJ: Dad, I’m In Jail by Was (Not Was) & the 13 second Weinerschnitzel by the Descendents.

Ah, the Descendents! I’ve gone through a lot of phases in my life when it comes to music. I’ll have a favorite band for a while but then I’ll completely forget about them & never listen to them again. The Descendents are this way for me. But for a good couple of years in my early twenties, I played the above “compilation album” to DEATH. I don’t know why I’ve abandoned most of the bands that I listened to through the Nineties but I really have the urge to dig this CD out right now. Any other Descendents fans here? No? Probably not. And I doubt this clip will convince you to check them out…😉 Well, their most famous song was Suburban Home so HERE’S a link to that one. And here are the lyrics to Weinerschnitzel:

“Welcome to Der Weinerschnitzel, may I take your order please?
Yeah I want:
Two large cokes, Two large fries
Chili-cheese dog, large Doctor Pepper
Super deluxe, with cheese and tomato
You want bill sperm with that?
NO!”

WTF is bill sperm?? Well, here’s the clip if you have a spare 13 seconds!

My Top Ten Christian Slater Movies

Happy Birthday to Christian Slater, who turns 47 today!

I’ve loved Slater ever since the top three movies on my list (but especially number one). It’s unfortunate that he’s been in some huge stinkers since (like Alone In The Dark) but he was in some absolutely fantastic movies in the late 80s/early 90s. Oh well… I still love you, Christian Slater! I still wish I was Samantha Mathis in my number one movie on this list. And I’d never break your sweet, baboon heart.

So here are My Top Ten Christian Slater Movies, counting down to my favorite:

10. TIE: Kuffs & Broken Arrow

9. FernGully: The Last Rainforest

8. Bed Of Roses

7. Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves

6. Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

5. True Romance

4. The Legend Of Billie Jean

3. Untamed Heart

2. Heathers

1. Pump Up The Volume

A Few I’ve Not Seen But Want To:
Gleaming The Cube
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Nymphomaniac: Vol I & II

Pete’s Dragon (2016) Review

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Directed by David Lowery

Based on Pete’s Dragon by Malcolm Marmorstein

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.

My Opinion:

I’m not going to ramble on & on with some long review of this. I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Pete’s Dragon. My 7-year-old didn’t like it all that much. My hubby pretty much hated it. I was so disappointed in him spoiling my enjoyment!😉 Grumpy turd. Yeah, I get to go to movies with a hubby who says things in disgust like “sometimes his (Elliot’s) fur blows in the wind & sometimes it doesn’t” and “this is so hipster” and “this movie is draining” and “I haven’t felt so cold on a movie in a long time”. He’ll be annoyed when he reads this tomorrow & he’ll probably moan that I’ve misquoted him… Anyway, I feel like I must have watched a completely different film from the one my husband & daughter saw while sat next to me. I really liked it.

I’m not gonna lie – this movie is vanilla ice cream on wholesome white bread. This movie is golden retriever puppies sliding down rainbows into cotton candy clouds. I think that may be one of the hubby’s biggest problems with it. I can’t say that a film being too wholesome bothers me all that much, as long as I don’t feel like it’s preaching to me or trying to shove its values down my throat (like I felt while watching Zootopia/Zootropolis). I just thought this was a lovely family film with its heart in the right place. It doesn’t exactly cover any groundbreaking territory in terms of its lessons but it’s not preachy & I cared about the characters. What more do you want from a Disney movie?

The boy playing Pete (Oakes Fegley) was very good as was the young girl (Oona Laurence). How are kids such good actors these days? The acting from kids used to be pretty dodgy in old movies. I far preferred Bryce Dallas Howard’s character in this to the thoroughly unlikable one in Jurassic World. Her relationships with Pete and with her father (an underused Robert Redford) were believable. Sappy, yes, but you seriously want everyone to live happily ever after in this. For some reason, though, I felt like Wes Bentley & Karl Urban should have been in each other’s roles. Don’t know why, but I pictured Urban as Howard’s boyfriend for some reason.

Then, of course, there’s Elliot. I loved him. I think they did very well with his look. He’s just scary enough when need be but also believable as a gentle creature who could be a boy’s best friend. I want an Elliot! Oh, this movie was directed by David Lowery, who hasn’t directed many big films other than Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (which I reviewed HERE). These are obviously two very different films storywise but do have a similar lovely look & mood that I especially appreciated in Saints. Pete’s Dragon is luckily more of a re-imagining than an actual remake & doesn’t harm the (admittedly dated) original, which I can’t quite say of this year’s The Jungle Book. Of these two modern “remakes”, I definitely prefer Pete’s Dragon. I haven’t read other reviews of this yet so don’t know if people agree more with me or with my husband so I’d love to hear your opinions if you’ve seen the movie. I really liked it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Legend Of Billie Jean, Less Than Zero & Private School Movie Reviews

Welcome to my 80’s Quickie Movie Review Special! I’m catching up on reviewing the things I’ve watched the past couple of years and, since these three were from the same decade (the BEST decade), I’ve decided to stick them together. One is a film I saw at the time & really liked but hadn’t re-watched in years, one is a throwaway film that was exactly what I expected for its sort of genre, and one is a film I’d badly wanted to see for years & found to be a big disappointment after finally seeing it for the first time now. Here we go!

The Legend Of Billie Jean (1985)

Directed by Matthew Robbins

Starring: Helen Slater, Keith Gordon, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Yeardley Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A Texas teenager cuts her hair short and becomes an outlaw martyr with her brother and friends.

My Opinion:

I did watch this on TV several times in the 80s & I really liked it but it never became an all-time favorite like other movies from the era (even though Christian Slater, one of my big teen crushes, was in it). It was a lot of fun watching it again with the hubby several months ago, though, and it’s gone up in my estimation due partly to nostalgia and partly to being older & able to appreciate things such as the female empowerment going on (which will have gone straight over my head when I first saw this at the age of 13 or so). It reminds me a bit of the same sort of theme running through the little known 1982 Diane Lane film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains and the two would make a great double feature. Any female bloggers want to come over to my place for a movie night? We’ll watch these two. Bring lots of popcorn! No pillow fights, though – we’re not going to feed any male fantasies. They can just go watch Private School (review below).😉

I love Helen Slater (she’s a definite girl crush) and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Billie Jean. I like the City Slickers connection with both Slater & Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) also being in that together (love that movie!). I also like that this movie has a period scene on my list of My Top Ten Period Scenes In Movies & that I get to link to that post again. Ha! There are great songs in this like Pat Benatar’s awesome Invincible (the movie’s theme song) & Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. Oh, that plot synopsis above is pretty crap so here’s a bit more if you’re curious: Basically, Slater & Slater (no relation IRL!) are a poor brother & sister in small town Texas. C. Slater’s motorbike is trashed by local hoodlums & H. Slater demands that the (rich by small-town standards) father of the main hoodlum boy pay for the repairs. After the father instead attempts to rape H. Slater, C. Slater accidentally shoots the asshole in the shoulder. The siblings & their friends then go on the run & H. Slater’s Billie Jean ends up a media sensation & heroine outlaw to all those who believe in how she stands up for what’s right. Through it all, her only demand is that her brother’s motorbike repairs be paid for by the prick responsible. It’s actually a great, simple story & I can see why it has achieved a sort of cult status.

I do really like The Legend Of Billie Jean even though it’s not one that I watched 1,582 times as a teenager. It’s a must see if you love movies from this era but somehow missed out on it. I’m not sure how a younger generation might feel about it but it has aged slightly better than some other movies from its time so it may be worth checking out if you like the sound of it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Less Than Zero (1987)

Directed by Marek Kanievska

Based on Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr.

Music by Thomas Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a college freshman returning home for Christmas to spend time with his ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz) and his friend Julian (Robert Downey, Jr.), who is also a drug addict. The film presents a look at the culture of wealthy, decadent youth in Los Angeles.

My Opinion:

I didn’t see this movie at the time as I suppose I was a little too young for it but then I just never managed to catch it on TV or anything. Anyway, it’s a movie from 1987 starring big 80’s actors so I’ve of course been wanting to see it for almost 30 years now (yikes! I’m old). I also loved the big song from this movie (a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade Of Winter by The Bangles) and I saw that video full of clips from the film so many times that it almost felt like I had seen the film. Was the movie worth the long wait? No, it wasn’t. Damn – what a disappointment. I was surprised to find it quite boring, especially as the novel is from such a controversial author. I think it was one that needed to be seen at the time as it’s not at all shocking nowadays.

The film is about rich California kids & Robert Downey Jr is a drug addict whose friends try to help him when his family give up on him. Downey Jr was fine as was McCarthy, I suppose (I never liked McCarthy – he’s so boring & bland. He’s like an American Hugh Grant). I’m a fan of Gertz mainly because of my love for The Lost Boys but she feels the most miscast of the three. None of them feel quite right in their roles, though, and the story isn’t very hard hitting for one about drug addiction. The story just kind of meanders & the sex scenes with McCarthy & Gertz felt awkward – talk about less than zero chemistry.

I’ve never read a Bret Easton Ellis book so can’t compare this movie to the novel but I don’t like the film American Psycho & what I’ve read of the book sickens me while I absolutely hated The Rules Of Attraction film & found it extremely offensive. I’m not normally easily offended (I’ll get into this a bit more with Private School) but, considering how much the author’s other adaptations have pissed me off, you’d think Less Than Zero would at least have some balls. This is probably the most tame “drug addiction” movie I’ve seen. Very disappointing. I watched this several months ago & barely even remember it now. Good soundtrack, though! I do remember appreciating that.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Private School (1983)

Directed by Noel Black

Starring: Phoebe Cates, Betsy Russell, Matthew Modine, Michael Zorek, Ray Walston, Sylvia Kristel, Kathleen Wilhoite

Music by Rick Springfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Private School is a 1983 teen oriented sex comedy film. It follows a teenage couple attempting to have sex for the first time.

My Opinion:

Being the age that I am, I saw plenty of teen sex comedies while growing up. It’s difficult to watch them nowadays without cringing. I suppose it was a very different experience to be a girl watching them in the 80s as opposed to a boy. It’ll seem strange to females nowadays but, in my day, we didn’t give teen sex comedies much thought. It’s amazing that we didn’t find them offensive & I’m happy that they’re, for the most part, a thing of the past. Private School certainly isn’t a “good” movie but, if you really love 80’s sex comedies, it’s worth a watch. It’s better than crap like Porky’s and the girls (whose boobs we see plenty, yes) are fairly decent characters instead of just feeling like victims for the horny male characters (like in movies such as Revenge Of The Nerds with its rape scene that would never be allowed in a movie nowadays. Yikes). I didn’t find Private School offensive & there’s certainly enough nudity in it for horny males everywhere so I think it gets the right sort of balance for both sexes to be able to watch it. But, of course, we get no male nudity. No surprise there!

***WARNING: SOME BOOB PICS BELOW****

Yes, we get a guy spying on the girls in the showers. But, nowadays, he’d take pictures & stick them online. 80’s sex comedies usually don’t feel sinister in the same sort of way that the few modern day films do. We also get the guys dressing up as girls & sneaking into the girls’ dorm. They’re so obviously boys, though, that the girls just have fun messing with them. Especially the below girl, who surprises everyone with a topless ride on a horse. I’m sure it was a very popular scene with young male viewers.

By the way – in looking for pics for this post, I discovered that the topless horse rider (Betsy Russell) is Jigsaw’s ex-wife in the Saw films. Speaking of movies that I find offensive, I find stuff like the Saw films far more offensive than 80’s sex comedies. Yet movies with excessive violence are more readily accepted by society while the briefest flash of a nipple starts riots (way to go, Janet Jackson!). It’s a fucked-up world. Private School is a pretty forgettable film (unless you’re a 13-year-old boy) and it sure as shit isn’t very good but at least the female characters are treated like human beings & have personalities. They’re actually stronger characters than the boys, who are quite dull.

Oh! And Kathleen Wilhoite (in the above photo with the lovely Phoebe Cates) is in this. She’s such a “hey, it’s that girl”. She’s also in Road House. God I love Road House! Road House is “good bad”. Private School is just kind of “meh bad”. I love that I got a Road House mention in here.

My Rating: 5/10

Love these songs!!! Soundtracks from the Eighties are the best. And you get clips from the movies as well.🙂

Music Video Friday: Madonna – Material Girl

Today’s video is Madonna’s Material Girl.

Madonna’s 58th birthday is next week so I posted a list of My Top Ten Madonna Songs yesterday & figured I better post a video today. Obviously, there are loads of Madonna videos to choose from. I’ve chosen Material Girl because I have a huge soft spot for it since my best friend & I used to act out music videos together & this was one of our favorites. Shut up – I was young when this was out! It’s okay to be a dork when you’re not yet a teenager.😉

I’m sure I had no idea at the time that Madonna was acting out Marilyn Monroe doing Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend from the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I’ve still not seen that film but I really should since I loved this video so much. Keith Carradine plays Madonna’s admirer who pretends to be poor to impress her since she’s NOT actually a “Material Girl” and wants a simple romance instead of a guy who showers her with expensive gifts. Riiiiiight. Okay, I have to admit that I’d go for the poor, sweet guy as well. I’m not a Material Girl either!

I always thought that one guy in this video was trying to bite Madonna’s boob (the one she whacks with the fan). You think weird things as a kid… Anyway, here’s the video! I still love it & all its 80’s cheesiness. Have a great weekend, everyone!🙂

My Top Ten Madonna Songs

I noticed that Madonna will be turning 58 next week on August 16th so I thought it would be fun to rank my favorite Madonna songs.

This was harder than I expected! She has so many songs, including ones I’d forgotten about. It took ages to go through a list of her songs, album by album. I definitely like her oldest stuff the best, which makes sense as those are the songs I grew up with in the Eighties. But I did also really like her Ray Of Light album in 1998. It was nice that she had a great comeback with Ray Of Light after her previous couple of albums, which I can’t say I personally liked very much.

Madonna has never been an absolute favorite artist of mine (give me classic rock & metal) but her songs were a big part of my pre & early teens and there’s no denying the fact that she’s a huge superstar. So here are My Top Ten Madonna Songs, counting down to my favorite (except, screw it – there are too many so I’ve made it a Top 20):😉

Top Twenty:

20. Beautiful Stranger
19. Vogue
18. Express Yourself
17. Hung Up
16. Music
15. Dress You Up
14. Holiday
13. Ray Of Light
12. The Power Of Good-Bye
11. Like A Virgin

Top Ten:

10. Live To Tell
9. Open Your Heart
8. Lucky Star
7. Frozen
6. Papa Don’t Preach
5. Crazy For You
4. Like A Prayer
3. Material Girl
2. Borderline
1. Into The Groove

The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (Book Review) 

The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

I absolutely love Stephen King’s short story collections. The very first thing I ever read of King’s was Night Shift when I was in Junior High and it blew me away. I went from reading YA Christopher Pike books straight to Stephen King thanks to Night Shift turning me into a huge fan. My first proper “grown-up” book! It’s funny how memory works – I remember every single story in Night Shift as if I only read it yesterday (I only read the book that one time well over 20 years ago) whereas I struggle to remember the short stories in his collections from recent years.

I do think Night Shift happened to be a fantastic book and maybe it was a little better than collections from recent years but I can’t say for sure – I do just have a scarily weird memory for things from my youth but can’t even remember what I had for supper last night. Ah, old age sucks! (Oh yeah – it was a burger…)

I did really enjoy The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams (as I do all of his short story collections). I read it a while ago so I better write a little something about the stories now as my memory is already getting hazy. I do think it had some stronger stories than his previous few collections.

My Quick Thoughts On Each Story:

Mile 81:

Not my favorite in the book but a fun read and SO very “King”. What is it with him & murderous vehicles? Some of this collection consists of previously published material so I didn’t have to re-read this one as it’s the first thing I read on my brand new Kindle years ago when I still knew how to use that thing. Old age, again! I should see if I can figure out how to even turn it on again. Speaking of Kindles, Ur was one of my favorite stories in this book. I’ll talk about that later (I’ll do these in the order they appear in the book).

Premium Harmony:

This story wasn’t a favorite but it’s one of those that has that special way of sticking in my mind that I only really get with King’s writing style & it’s why I’m such a big fan. It’s not a horror story & he’s written it after reading a lot of books from another author (Raymond Carver, an author I don’t know) and King says it has a Carver feel to it. Oh – there’s a King intro to each story, by the way. I really like when he does those.

Batman And Robin Have An Altercation:

I found this to be a pretty heartbreaking story about a son & his elderly father (with Alzheimer’s?). As always, King writes such rich characters, even in his short stories.

The Dune:

One of my favorites in the collection, this very short story deals with a tiny island where prophetic messages appear in the sand. King writes excellent stories even when he steps outside the horror genre but my favorites will always be the ones that contain anything supernatural.

Bad Little Kid:

That little kid was creepy as hell. This was a fun story – I think it would make a good adaptation to screen somehow. I really wish they’d do more of his short stories as TV adaptations, like they did with Nightmares & Dreamscapes.

A Death:

I couldn’t remember this one & had to refresh my memory by skimming it just now. I didn’t like this one, but I suppose I liked the ending which has somewhat of a twist.

The Bone Church:

I wasn’t a fan of this either, which was written in the style of a poem. I think. I’ve never been into poetry at all. I suppose that means I have no class. Can anyone tell me how “There once was a man from Nantucket” ends, though?? I’ve always wanted to know that.

Morality:

A weird story with people who are pretty hard to like. But I suppose that’s the entire point. Again, not a favorite & I found it a bit too long.

Afterlife:

I had to refresh my memory on this one as well, although it was a good story. One with a great idea behind it but, for whatever reason, it didn’t fully connect with me.

Ur:

I liked this horror story about a Kindle a lot – it’s one of my favorites in this book. Only Stephen King could write a scary story about a Kindle, for crying out loud. And it works really well. That damn Kindle gave me the creeps! Maybe I don’t want to get mine working again after all.

Herman Wouk Is Still Alive:

Another pretty heartbreaking story that feels too “real” for my liking. King is so good at capturing human nature & the sort of every day tragedies that we all read about in the news but I read for escapism and, like I said, I’m happier when he sticks to the strange & supernatural. I get enough “real life” in real life.

Under The Weather:

Another absolutely heartbreaking “real life” sort of story. But it’s so good & such a well-written story that I did like it (and, again, it would make a good TV adaptation). The end is extremely obvious from early on if you’ve read enough stories but it was still heartbreaking & kept me wanting to read to see how he’d handle the ending.

Blockade Billy:

I wasn’t really a fan of this one. The story is about a baseball player & it’s an okay story but still has too much baseball talk for my liking.

Mister Yummy:

An okay story but not the best. King explores mortality so often & this is yet another one with this theme. He’s done far better stories dealing with this topic – this one is fairly forgettable.

Tommy:

This was an interesting story of a hippie who died in 1969. King doesn’t give much detail in his intro but alludes to the fact that it’s somewhat based on someone he knew? It’s a well-written piece & evokes a 60’s mood that I really liked.

The Little Green God Of Agony:

Yet another so very “King” tale. It’s a bit bizarre & something that only his mind could come up with. He says in the intro that he wrote it several years after being hit by that van, once the worst of his pain was gone. I knew that accident was pretty bad but didn’t realize quite how badly he was hurt. Anyway, I enjoyed this story & its typical King weirdness.

That Bus Is Another World:

A pretty simple story that, once again, explores human nature & morality. A good story but probably not one I’ll remember years from now. Was hoping for more of a supernatural twist with that title.

Obits:

A good story with a great concept. Not the best in the book but one of the strongest ideas. Another one that would make a great adaptation for the small screen.

Drunken Fireworks:

I really liked this story. The thing that King always does best is capture small town American life (usually in Maine – I’m too lazy to see if that’s where this was set too but I assume so). The characters are great & feel like people I grew up with in my own small American town. Probably not the best story in the book but, if it’s the type you can relate to, it’s probably a favorite for some readers. Would probably just squeak into my top five in this collection (I’m not gonna be sad enough to rank these. Well, maybe…).

Summer Thunder:

The final story in the book & definitely one of my favorites. It was the perfect story to end the book as it’s a post-apocalyptic tale. I don’t know why I have such an obsession with this genre – I think it’s because any sort of apocalypse is a genuine fear I’ve had since a young age. Anyway, I thought this was a strong story for its very short length.

My Overall Rating For The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams: 4/5

Okay, I’m gonna choose my five favorites. Hmm… Here are My Top Five Stories (in book appearance order):

The Dune
Ur
Under The Weather
Drunken Fireworks
Summer Thunder

Honorable Mention: The Little Green God Of Agony

Music Video Friday: Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast

Today’s video is Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast.

Singer & pilot & all-around awesome Bruce Dickinson turns 58 on Sunday so I figured now was a good time to post a video from my FAVORITE BAND. Happy Birthday, Bruce!🙂

I wasn’t sure which video to choose as Iron Maiden aren’t exactly a “video” band so most of their videos are concert footage. Yes, I already did a list of My Top Ten Iron Maiden Songs in the early days of my blog & most of my favorites just have concert videos. Run To The Hills sort of has a proper video but that’s the only song that everybody knows so I didn’t feel like posting that.

I’ve gone with The Number Of The Beast since it’s a favorite song of mine. The video is a performance with some clips of classic movie monsters such as Nosferatu & Godzilla. Plus, we see a lot of Bruce! And, of course, there’s a big Eddie. I love Eddie! I think that Iron Maiden’s great imagery is what made me listen to them in the first place. And I’m so glad that I did as they’ve remained my favorite band for over 20 years now. Oh man, I feel so old…

Here’s the fantastic The Number Of The Beast:

My Top Ten Celebrities With Color Names

As I’ve already done lists of My Top Ten Color Movies & My Top Ten Color Songs, I figured it was time to also do a list of My Top Ten Celebrities With Colors In Their Names as well.🙂

I think this list is pretty self-explanatory. I enlisted the hubby’s help & he started giving me lots of names which are colors in other languages. Too complicated! I’m sticking to English (sorry, Mel Blanc). Also, I decided to stick with real people instead of fictional characters as that also got too complicated. So here’s a quick shoutout to two characters I love: Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding from The Shawshank Redemption & Charlie Brown from Peanuts.


Okay – let’s do this! Here are My Top Ten Celebrities With Colors In Their Names (along with my favorite thing they’ve starred in, sung or written):

10. Sienna Miller
My Favorite: Stardust

9. Shel Silverstein
My Favorite: The Giving Tree

8. Robert Redford
My Favorite: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

7. Eve Plumb
My Favorite: The Brady Bunch

6. Jeff Goldblum
My Favorite: The Fly

5. James Brown, Ian Brown & Jackson Browne
My Favorites: The Boss, I Wanna Be Adored & Somebody’s Baby

4. Jack & Meg White
My Favorite: Icky Thump & Hotel Yorba

3. Scarlett Johansson
My Favorite: The Prestige

2. Jack Black
My Favorite: Tenacious D & School Of Rock

1. Betty White
My Favorite: The Golden Girls

Honorable Mentions (No, I didn’t forget these):
Karen Black, Alicia Silverstone, Frank Black (aka Black Francis), Pink, Emma Stone, Jennifer Grey, Eva Green, Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Silverman, Seth Green, Emily Browning, Clancy Brown, Shirley Temple-Black, Rose Byrne, Rose McGowan, Erin Gray, Al Green, Tracey Gold, Matthew Gray Gubler, Shane Black, Joel Silver, Marc Almond, Paul Greengrass, Barry White, Eddie Redmayne, Goldie Hawn, Macy Gray, Otis Redding, The Redgraves, Sharon Stone, Amber Heard, Cee Lo Green, Christopher Plummer, Amanda Plummer, Oliver Stone

And, no – I didn’t forget these either:😉
Dakota Blue Richards, Red Buttons, Red Skelton, Red West, Ron Silver, Indigo, Amber Tamblyn, Amber Valletta, F Gary Gray, Adam Goldberg, Phil Silvers, Emerald Fennell, Claire Coffee, Professor Green, Jonathan Silverman, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Simply Red, Cilla Black, Dan Brown, Logan Marshall-Greene, Brian Austin Green, Tony Goldwyn, Ginger Rogers, Bobby Brown, Lorne Green

Sorry – I had such a huge list to work off of plus someone always comes along to yell at me for the one thing I missed off of a list. But I’ll still have definitely missed some so let me know of any other Color Names you can think of!🙂

Finding Dory (2016) Review

Finding Dory (2016)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

Music by Thomas Newman

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Finding Dory focuses on the amnesiac fish Dory, who journeys to be reunited with her parents. Along the way, she is captured and taken to a California public aquarium, from which Marlin and Nemo attempt to rescue her.

My Opinion:

I adore Pixar. Any regulars here will know that by now but, just in case someone new is reading this, I LOVE PIXAR!!! And we always have to wait a couple of months to see them in the UK. I love Pixar so much that I’ve even contemplated travelling to other countries to see Pixar movies when the UK has a much later release date.😉 Finding Nemo just makes it into my Top Five (I did rank the Pixar movies HERE but I’d re-arrange that a bit now) and Dory is probably still close to the top of a list of my favorite Pixar characters (which I posted HERE on my very first day on this blog – I’ll update that list too!). So, yes – I was very much looking forward to spending more time with characters I love. Was it worth the extra wait? Well, it certainly wasn’t worth a trip to another country to see it early so I’m glad I didn’t do that.

Baby Dory is one of the cutest things ever but all the cuteness still isn’t enough to make up for such a weak story. I was even a little bored throughout the film (as was my kid). It breaks my heart to say that about a Pixar movie other than Cars! I enjoyed seeing Dory but Marlin & Nemo almost felt unnecessary, which sucks. I know they’ve already had their own movie but Dory was just as big of a star in Finding Nemo as Marlin & Nemo were. In this, it felt a bit like “well, we have to have Marlin & Nemo tag along as it makes no sense to not have them in the film”. They also tacked on an appearance from Crush & Squirt that I’m not exactly going to complain about as those two are AWESOME, dude, but I just walked out of Finding Dory feeling like I’d watched an inferior version of Finding Nemo. It’s the exact same story again minus the creativity & imagination involved in the first film. The characters are far weaker and there are none of the special little moments that made Finding Nemo so great.

The biggest new addition is an octopus named Hank & I know he has some fans. Hank is okay but, for me, he’ll never be a favorite. In Nemo, even the tiniest roles were fantastic. I could happily watch an entire movie set just in that tank in the dentist’s office… Gill, Bloat, Peach, Bubbles, etc – every single fish in that tank was more memorable than any of the new characters in the sequel.

I always do this – I’m far more critical of the things that I love. I suppose I just have really high standards when it comes to Pixar because they’ve made so many movies that I consider to be perfection. I did enjoy Finding Dory and, to be expected, I enjoyed it more than any other recent animated kids’ films from other studios. To compare it to something like The Secret Life Of Pets, I definitely liked it more. But when compared to other Pixar films, it would be fairly low down the list. I think I feel similar to how I now feel about Monsters University. Both sequels just can’t live up to the originals but that’s because the originals are so damn good (I just checked my review of that, though – I was way too generous with an 8/10! I guess it was my excitement at seeing Mike Wazowski again). But the Toy Story sequels are great so, I dunno… I’ve realized that part of the problem is seeing Dory upset & not the same silly, optimistic, lovably forgetful fish from the first film. She’s almost become Marlin in this film, which works well for his character but not for hers. The story & the characters all just worked together so perfectly in the first film whereas it all feels a bit too forced this time around. But, hell – it’s still Pixar and I still love Dory & it’s still a million times better than Cars. Maybe it’ll grow on me when I see it more at home. But I’m sad to say that I don’t think the kid liked it all that much so I don’t think it’ll get a lot of repeat home viewings unlike the Toy Stories & Monsters, Inc.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes – at the very end. I found it worth staying for, especially as a fan of the first film.

How About The Short Beforehand?: Piper is freaking ADORABLE. Just as adorable as baby Dory in that above picture and actually better than the Finding Dory film. It was great to see such a good Pixar short after being disappointed with things like Lava. Good job, Pixar!

Stranger Things Poster Art By Kyle Lambert

Okay – who else is watching Stranger Things on Netflix?? I’m exactly halfway through watching all 8 episodes & I’m really enjoying it. No spoilers, please!🙂

There are very few TV shows I watch anymore other than Game Of Thrones & The Walking Dead (which is starting to piss me off). I’ve tried a few new shows here & there but always lose interest. I may be the only person who couldn’t finish Making A Murderer (why the hype?).

Well, I’ve finally found two shows that I like! It’s not surprising that both happen to be set in my favorite decade (the 1980s). I adore Freaks And Geeks, which I’m only just watching for the first time now (it’s on Amazon Prime in the UK, FYI). How did I never see this show before? Like Stranger Things, I’m also about halfway through watching all of the episodes. Why the hell did Freaks And Geeks last only one season, dammit? Now I see why fans were so mad about that.

I started watching Stranger Things when I heard it described as “Stephen King crossed with 1980’s Steven Spielberg sci-fi”. That couldn’t sound more ME! Plus Winona Ryder is in it. Yes! Edward Scissorhands & Heathers Winona Ryder!!! Add the early 80s setting & great soundtrack and I’m extremely happy.🙂 At the moment, I’d say I prefer Freaks And Geeks overall. I think it’ll depend on how Stranger Things ends. Supernatural horror can go very wrong at the end sometimes. But both are great & I highly recommend them if you love the era.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a link to some great Stranger Things poster art by artist Kyle Lambert. I love the deliberate Drew Struzan style. Struzan is a favorite movie poster artist of mine (I did a top ten of my favorite Struzan posters HERE). You can see Lambert’s Stranger Things poster art at this link: Huffpost.com.

My Blog’s July 2016 Recap

Happy August, everyone! August? When did that happen?! Well, it’s a new month so here’s my blog recap for July.🙂

POSTS

My Most Popular Post: My Ten Most Hated Movies Since Starting This Blog. I think this proves that people love a good bitchfest! I was starting to wonder if anyone looked at this blog anymore when I decided to put this post together on a day when I was in a really bad mood. I got loads of comments! I loved hearing from people who agreed with some of the movies I absolutely hated but also from many who disagreed as well (my hatred of Mary And Max & of Slumdog Millionaire was especially unpopular).

My Favorite Post: My Top Ten DJs/Disc Jockeys In Movies. This was a fun list to put together & one I’d been meaning to do for ages. I still love that, while researching this list, I discovered that a cartoon Skrillex was in Wreck-It Ralph.

MOVIES REVIEWED

My Most Popular Movie Review: Circle. This movie was a very pleasant surprise. This is the type of movie I love to blog about – good films that not many people have seen or maybe not even heard of & which deserve more attention. I think I talked a few people into watching it. Oh, and one of the lead actors also stopped by & left a comment so that was cool. I love when that happens! Glad that didn’t happen on my “Most Hated Movies” post…

All Movies Reviewed (ranked best to worst):
Battle Royale
Circle
People Like Us
The Secret Life Of Pets
We’re The Millers
Red Dawn (2012)

MOVIES WATCHED

In Cinema (ranked best to worst):
Finding Dory
The Secret Life Of Pets

At Home (ranked best to worst):
Battle Royale
Circle
Little Witch Academia
The Book Thief
Deathgasm
The Visit
Paper Towns
Finders Keepers (2014)

TOP TEN LISTS

Top Ten Tom Hanks Movies
Top Ten Harry Dean Stanton Movies
Ten Most Hated Movies Since Starting This Blog
Top Ten DJs/Disc Jockeys In Movies
Top Ten Kevin Spacey Movies

SEARCH TERMS

My Top Search Term: “gnome project x“. But spelled as “gnom” – how annoying. Well, variations of this search term pop up all the time. The “gnome giving the finger” in the movie Project X seems to be very popular!!

My Favorite Search Term: “jennifer balgobin weird science“. I like search terms for people I’ve never heard of. I had to look up Jennifer Balgobin. Turns out she was “Biker Chick” in Weird Science (which I reviewed HERE). Cool.

Here are my top search terms for the month:

BOOKS

Book Reviewed: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Book I’ve Just Finished: The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

Book I’m Currently Reading: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’ve been taking it easier & not posting as many reviews plus I’m doing simple Top Ten & Music Video posts as these don’t take up much of my time. I’m going to stick with doing things this way for now as I can keep up with the slower pace. It’s no longer a fun hobby if it becomes stressful! I was happy that I finally managed to watch Battle Royale for my July Blind Spot film as I really enjoyed that. I’ll watch my August Blind Spot film soon – what do you guys think of these choices? It was going to be El Topo but I keep putting that one off so may go with one of my alternates instead:

El Topo
Akira
Zodiac
The Raid
Running On Empty
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
House (Hausu) (1977)
Tetsuo
Solaris (1972)

Upcoming Movies:

There are quite a few movies coming out in August that I’m hoping to see. I wasn’t all that excited about Suicide Squad but I’m changing my mind now (mainly because that below poster for it is so awesome). I’m sure none of these will be great but I’m looking forward to The Shallows, Lights Out & The Purge: Election Year (I seem to be in the minority but I’m a fan of the first two Purge movies – you can see why in my reviews of the first movie & the sequel). It looks like the adaptation of Stephen King’s Cell is finally coming out this month?! I expect that to be horrible because of all the problems & delays that movie has had. What a shame as I really liked that book. I’ll still watch the movie, though, since I watch every King adaptation. Finally, I’m curious to see how the Pete’s Dragon remake turns out so I plan to take the kid to that. Remakes piss me off but this is one rare occasion where I have to admit that the original film is badly dated (even though I love it).

I always end these with a music clip related to something I watched/reviewed. Well, there weren’t any great soundtracks in the movies I watched this month so here’s a tribute to the Project X gnome! I didn’t like the movie but did like some of the songs in that film. My favorite was probably Pursuit Of Happiness by Kid Cudi (Steve Aoki remix).

Music Video Friday: Ben E. King – Stand By Me

Today’s video is Ben E. King’s Stand By Me.

Today is Wil Wheaton’s 44th birthday. Happy Birthday, Wil Wheaton! I’ve had a thing for Wil ever since the movie Stand By Me, one of my most-loved & most-watched movies. Then I of course loved him again in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Naturally, I also adored River Phoenix… I’ll forever be sad about his death. And Ben E. King passed away just over a year ago. R.I.P. River Phoenix & Ben E. King.😦

Here’s the 1986 video for Stand By Me, featuring the boys dancing along with King (and River being all cool with his guitar). Yeah, the video is a bit cheesy in that 80’s kind of way. But I love 80’s cheese and I love this song. Happy Friday, everyone!🙂

My Top Ten Kevin Spacey Movies

Happy Belated Birthday to Kevin Spacey, who turned 57 on Tuesday! I guess it’s time for a list of My Top Ten Kevin Spacey Movies, then.🙂 Here they are, as usual, counting down to my favorite movie (as opposed to performance):

10. Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil

9. The Life Of David Gale

8. K-PAX

7. 21

6. Se7en

5. The Usual Suspects

4. American Beauty

3. A Bug’s Life

2. Moon

1. L.A. Confidential

Honorable Mentions:

– Working Girl
– Outbreak
– A Time To Kill

Any others not on the list are ones that I haven’t seen, such as Elvis & Nixon. There are quite a few Kevin Spacey films that I haven’t seen. What are your favorites?🙂

The Secret Life Of Pets (2016) Review

The Secret Life Of Pets (2016)

Directed by Chris Renaud & Yarrow Cheney

Starring: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A terrier named Max’s quiet life is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray, who Max instantly dislikes.

My Opinion:

Ah, Illumination Entertainment… They gave us the Despicable Me movies (love those!) and Hop (awful!). Oh, and The Lorax (meh) and Minions (disappointing movie but Minions are one of my favorite cinematic creations so I can’t complain too much). Luckily, The Secret Life Of Pets is closer to Despicable Me than Hop. I thought it was fun & think I actually enjoyed it even more than my kid did. It will never be a personal favorite of mine the way Pixar movies and Despicable Me are, but it’s nice to go to an animated kids’ film that I can get some enjoyment out of too. I’m so selfish…😉

The Secret Life Of Pets starts out really strong with our main character (a dog named Max) and the owner he adores. We then meet his friends: the neighbor pets who are all left home alone each day when their owners head off to work. We see the pets interact & watch how they keep themselves and each other entertained all day. These scenes were cute with some genuinely funny moments & they really could’ve stayed within this one building for the entirety of the movie and it would’ve been great. Unfortunately, it all goes a little too over-the-top once they leave the building & the story gets more complicated. I think the simplicity of the first half of the movie worked much better.

The second half was still fun, though. This movie has LOADS of characters, which kind of takes away from our main set of pets from Max’s neighborhood. But I suppose it also means that every kid will easily have a couple of favorites as there are so many different types of animals & personalities going on. My kid loved Gidget. Not sure who my favorite was… I liked Gidget as well as Max & Pops (an old dog with wheels voiced by Dana Carvey).

I have to say that one bit with the “bad guys” (previous pets abandoned by their owners) & a big viper is a bit intense for the very young. My 7-year-old didn’t like this part & she’s not one to really get too scared by movies. So bear that in mind if you’re wondering if it’s suitable for a toddler (I’d say it’s not).

I was surprised that my kid said the movie was “just okay” afterwards & that she preferred Zootropolis. Zootropolis really rubbed me the wrong way by being far too preachy (I bitched about that HERE). I don’t mind messages in kids’ films but don’t like when they’re forced down our throats. Plus, I just found that movie really boring. The Secret Life Of Pets is a straightforward animated kids’ movie with funny characters, some good laughs & no preaching (Although I suppose you could say there’s sort of a message to not discard your pets). Unlike Zootropolis, I thought it was funny and had far more memorable characters. But, hey – the kid liked it less so what do I know?? I was just happy to watch a decent kids’ movie that didn’t bore me to tears or annoy me. It’s a fun popcorn movie that was more enjoyable than I was expecting but certainly not a timeless classic like many Pixar & Disney movies. But very few movies are as good as those, right?

My Rating: 7/10

If you’re curious, this is how I’d rank the cinema movies I’ve seen with my kid in 2016. It’s summer vacation now so I’m kind of stuck seeing only kids’ films now until September. Oh well – at least I’ll finally be seeing Finding Dory this weekend. Can’t wait!!!

My 2016 Kids’ Movies – Best To Worst:
– Goosebumps
Kung Fu Panda 3
– The Secret Life Of Pets
The Jungle Book
Zootropolis

My Kid’s Best To Worst Order As I Suppose Her Opinion Is More Important:😉
– Pan (went with her father – she loved it)
– Goosebumps
– TIE: Kung Fu Panda 3 & Zootropolis
– The Secret Life Of Pets
The Jungle Book

Battle Royale (2000) Blind Spot Review

Battle Royale (2000)
Batoru Rowaiaruis
Japanese: バトル・ロワイアル

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku

Based on Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Takeshi Kitano

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Battle Royale:

7. An Education – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

I put Battle Royale on my Blind Spot list as I really have wanted to see it for years. I put it off mainly because I’m kind of a wuss with violence so I was waiting for a time when the hubby could watch it with me (Thanks for finally watching this with me, dude!). I didn’t have to annoy him by asking him what was happening, though. It was of course violent but not “gross” – I was able to watch all of it. However, I think I’d hyped it up too much in my mind all these years as I’m sad to say that I was a bit disappointed with the movie overall.

Now, calm down Battle Royale lovers!😉 I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it. I enjoyed it quite a bit & I think it’s one that might go up in my estimation once my initial disappointment has worn off. I’ve not read the book so I don’t know how faithful the movie is but I was surprised to find that it was far more shallow than I’d always imagined it must be. Maybe the book is a bit deeper & more of a social commentary? Has anyone here read the book? I have to say that I’m definitely now interested in checking it out to see how it differs as I did really like the story & characters.

I can see why Quentin Tarantino loves this film – it’s a thoroughly entertaining action movie with loads of violence that seems have no consequence. It’s a Japanese Tarantino movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I like his movies and do, first and foremost, want a movie to actually entertain me. Battle Royale certainly did that but it’s also nice when you’re entertained plus get a little something more as well… Anyway, it’s cool that Tarantino cast Chiaki Kuriyama (below) in Kill Bill as Gogo Yubari. One great thing about Battle Royale is that there were some really kick-ass female characters! I always love that.

It’s interesting that my two favorite Blind Spot movies so far are mega violent but I have to say that I thought Natural Born Killers was the better “film” whereas I think I enjoyed Battle Royale more. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that it’s one that will only go up in my estimation if I watch it again or read the book. I think it may just be that the message was more clear in Natural Born Killers than in Battle Royale (whether or not you agree with its use of excessive violence to show us how wrong it is to glorify violence).

I don’t mean for this review to sound so negative as I did really enjoy the film. I guess I’m still sorting through my feelings on it as I type this but I already know I like it even more now than when I watched it a week ago. It’s extremely rare that I re-watch movies nowadays (no time for that) but this is one I do want to re-visit fairly soon. I think one problem may be that Battle Royale has so many characters that it was hard to keep track of them all on the first watch. It’s also hard to fully develop so many characters but this movie did actually do quite a good job with even some of the lesser characters considering how little screen time they got. The main characters were very strong and the movie did well with them – I’d like to read the book for, hopefully, even more insight into everyone involved. I’m glad I put Battle Royale on my Blind Spot list, forcing me to finally watch it all these years later. I wish I’d seen it at the time as it probably would’ve had more impact on me in 2000 than post-Hunger Games (no, I won’t even begin with that comparison but I see now why people moaned about The Hunger Games being so similar).😉

My Rating: 8/10

Mondo Poster For The Rocketeer By Kevin Tong

I always have to share Mondo movie posters when I see them. Here’s another great one for The Rocketeer by artist Kevin Tong. I remember really liking this movie at the time but I haven’t seen it since it first came out. Time for a re-watch, I think!🙂

You can read the article about the poster & see an alternate color variant here: GeekTyrant.

Music Video Friday: The Pharcyde – Drop 

Today’s video is Drop by The Pharcyde.

I hate Coldplay. Seriously. I’m sorry if you like Coldplay. We can still be friends!😉 But, man, I can’t stand Coldplay.

Spike Jonze has directed loads of great music videos. I don’t think I’ve featured any yet but I could easily spend the rest of this year posting only Spike Jonze videos every Friday. Not sure what my favorite is… I do love Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, Daft Punk’s Da Funk, and Fatboy Slim’s Weapon Of Choice. And of course Weezer’s Buddy Holly & Björk’s It’s Oh So Quiet are classics. Drop doesn’t seem to get mentioned as often as his other videos but it’s fantastic and it did the backwards thing long before Chris Martin added his brand of boring to singing backwards in The Scientist.

The video for The Scientist was directed by Jamie Thraves, another great director responsible for videos such as Just by Radiohead (which I posted HERE). Yes, Thraves fully credits Jonze for the backwards idea. The video is good. It’s just, you know, Coldplay. To watch the video means that you have to hear Coldplay. No thank you. I’d far rather watch & listen to The Pharcyde’s Drop.

The Pharcyde had to hire a linguist & learn to sing the lyrics to Drop backwards. Jonze filmed them performing & singing backwards then reversed the footage for the video. I find the original “forwards” clip fascinating and love that it sounds totally satanic. “Paul is dead! Paul is dead!”

You can see the original clip as well as a short “making of” documentary here: musicismysanctuary.com. You can also see the official video at that link as well. (Actually, watch the video at that link instead of the below YouTube clip as I could only find a low quality version or a good quality one that cuts off the ending. But I’ll still include it anyway… Here you go!)

My Top Ten DJs/Disc Jockeys In Movies

I’ve always loved disc jockeys in movies. There should be more movies featuring DJs! Well, there probably are – I’m sure I’ve missed some on this list.

I first thought about doing this list after watching the “meh” movie We Are Your Friends starring Zac Efron as an EDM DJ. But I never got around to doing it. Then I thought about it again after watching Clint Eastwood as a DJ with a stalker in Play Misty For Me. But I still didn’t do the list. Well, I noticed that today would’ve been Robin Williams’ birthday so I figured I’d finally post this list as he was so great as Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam. (R.I.P. Robin Williams)😦

This list is a mix of real & fictional DJs. The order is, hmm… Roughly based on how “cool” I think the DJ character is (but don’t take the order too seriously). There are also a lot of movies I haven’t seen so I’ve listed a few at the end.

Here are My Top Ten DJs In Movies:

10. Adrienne Barbeau as Stevie Wayne in The Fog

9. Wolfman Jack as the DJ in American
Graffiti
& The Midnight Hour


8. George Clinton & Martin Lawrence as DJs in House Party

7. Steven Wright as DJ K-Billy, host of Super Sounds Of The ’70s in Reservoir Dogs

6. Clint Eastwood as Dave Garver in Play Misty For Me

5. Cleavon Little as Super Soul in Vanishing Point

4. Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam

3. Daft Punk as “Masked DJs” in TRON: Legacy

2. Lynne Thigpen as the DJ in The Warriors

1. Christian Slater as Hard Harry in Pump Up The Volume

Honorable Mentions:

– Howard Stern as himself in Private Parts
– Samuel L. Jackson as Mister Señor Love Daddy in Do The Right Thing
– Zac Efron as Cole in We Are Your Friends
– Skrillex as the DJ in Wreck-It Ralph (I had no idea he was in this until I started looking up movies I may have missed for this list. Cute! Here he is):

Movies Not On The List Because I Need To Re-Watch Them:

– The Truth About Cats & Dogs
– Trick Or Treat
– Airheads

Movies Not On The List Because I Haven’t Seen Them:

– Pontypool (really want to see this)
– Pirate Radio (aka The Boat That Rocked)
– Talk To Me
– Talk Radio
– FM

I’ll leave you with a clip from The Warriors. If you haven’t seen either this or Pump Up The Volume, I highly recommend them as they’re both absolute favorites of mine.

Circle (2015) Review

Circle (2015)

Directed & Written by Aaron Hann & Mario Miscione

Starring: Michael Nardelli, Carter Jenkins, Lawrence Kao, Allegra Masters, Julie Benz, Mercy Malick, Lisa Pelikan, Cesar Garcia

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Fifty people wake up in a darkened room, only to find that one of them is killed every two minutes or when they attempt to leave. When they realize that they can control which person is selected to die, blocs emerge based on personal values.

My Opinion:

This movie was a pleasant surprise! Circle has stuck around on Netflix for a while & I’ve seen a couple bloggers give it okay reviews but I’ve watched too many obscure Netflix movies that bloggers have liked & I’ve ended up extremely disappointed (Blue Ruin, Housebound, etc…). So I wasn’t sure I wanted to give this one a chance as it looked like it would be yet another terrible low budget movie that was never widely released in cinemas and that hardly anyone has heard of for good reason.

Well, I’m glad I decided to watch Circle. I found the story fascinating & liked the simple way it was presented. It IS yet another obscure movie on Netflix with what appears to be a very small budget. However, the story makes it a totally worthwhile watch. In fact, I think the low budget helps this film as there’s no need for distracting special effects when you have such a strong story idea. Someone is killed every two minutes – it doesn’t get much more tense than that! FYI: this is labelled at IMDb as “Drama, Horror, Mystery”. Don’t let the “horror” thing turn you off as I really wouldn’t label it that. There’s no blood or gore whatsoever. “Psychological sci-fi thriller” would be a better description. I almost didn’t watch this partly because I thought it was more of a horror film.

I won’t lie – this movie isn’t for everyone and some will hate it. It’s my sort of thing: A strong story that gets you thinking of the morality issues involved and how you would react in a similar situation. It feels like you’re watching a play as it all takes place in the strange dark room in the above poster. Each person isn’t allowed to move from their red circle on the floor – all they can do is talk to each other & try to figure out what’s going on and how to survive. Many issues are discussed such as: race, age, career, family, lifestyle, and what makes a person “good” & worthy of being kept alive as they all soon figure out that they’re able to control who the next person to die will be. Ultimately, they realize that it’s more a case of deciding who amongst them should be allowed to survive until the end.

If you like the sound of this story, give the movie a shot. Plus, it’s really short! (1 hour 27 minutes). I didn’t realize that when I had a bit of alone time one day & put it on figuring  I’d watch half a movie. But, hey – I managed to watch the whole thing just before the family got home! (You appreciate little things like this as a parent).😉 Just don’t expect much character development or explanations as to what’s going on. With such a short running time & the fact that they had to get through 50 characters in under an hour & a half, I think the movie did a good job with this simple yet thought-provoking concept. We get right into the action from the start & these people figure things out far faster than seems possible but it was nice to have a film move along so fast and not waste our time with anything unnecessary. The story is the star here so if you buy into that and aren’t expecting explosions, fancy special effects, or Oscar-calibre acting, you may find this as entertaining as I did. I can easily say that I wasn’t bored for one second. Now I suppose I should finally watch Coherence as it’s another obscure Netflix movie I’ve been avoiding for ages that has been praised by fellow bloggers. Hmm…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Miracle Mile (1988) Review

I noticed that Anthony Edwards turns 54 today. Happy Birthday, Goose! And Mark Greene! (Remember the good days of ER??). Well, I figured I might as well reblog my review of his little-known film Miracle Mile. I really liked this one & was shocked to get a big response from fellow bloggers who are also fond of this apocalyptic movie from 1988 (that I’d never even heard of before watching it last year).🙂

Cinema Parrot Disco

IMG_9237

Miracle Mile (1988)

Directed by Steve De Jarnatt

Starring:
Anthony Edwards
Mare Winningham
Denise Crosby
Mykelti Williamson
Kurt Fuller

Music by Tangerine Dream

Running time: 87 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young man hears a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes.

IMG_0385

My Opinion:

What’s this? An apocalyptic movie from my beloved 1980s with a Tangerine Dream score yet I’d not even HEARD of it let alone ever seen it?! How is this possible?!?! Well, I think UK Netflix is finally getting better as they’re starting to stick some slightly obscure 80s films on there, which is exactly what I want! I’m always on the lookout for lesser known movies from the 80s (and 70s) and Netflix has surprised me twice in the past month with this and then with one I…

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Tiny Sticky Note Nightmares By John Kenn Mortensen

Meant to post this the other week when I saw these images… Love them! This guy, John Kenn Mortensen, does amazing illustrations on Post-It Notes. And they’re creepy as hell! You can view the article with more drawings here: Neatorama.

There are also even more of his illustrations along with a great video collage here: Dangerousminds. Finally, he has his own blog where he posts all his drawings here: Blogspot. He writes & directs TV shows for kids. Yikes! They must look nothing like Sesame Street.🙂