Music Video Friday: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy & Windowlicker (A Chris Cunningham Special)

I’m vaguely aware of the MTV Video Music Awards having been on last weekend. Like MTV itself, remember the good old days when the VMAs didn’t suck ass?? I usually still watch the show (and bitch to hubby about how much it sucks – I’m so old!). But I haven’t watched last weekend’s. Hosted by Miley Cyrus? A world where Kim Kardashian could be the First Lady? I just don’t have the energy for it anymore. I’m all bitched-out. I feel so far removed from the “youth” of today. And that’s before we even get to the fact that the music & the videos are shit now!

Then David Bowie’s son (Duncan Jones) tweeted this:

Right on, Duncan! Hell, I was happy enough with the cheesy videos of the Eighties (things like last week’s video – Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield). That will always be my favorite era of MTV, of course, but I did love that period during the late 90s/early 2000s when people like Spike Jonze & Chris Cunningham came along & made truly artistic videos that were more like “mini-films”. I know we still get the occasional good video but they seem to be few & far between.

I love the videos from those mentioned in the above tweet (Jonathan Glazer, director of Under The Skin, made one of my very favorites: UNKLE’s Rabbit In Your Headlights) but I’ve been meaning to talk about Chris Cunningham one of these Fridays. I’m sure I’ll post other videos of his but wanted to start with those he did for Aphex Twin.

Cunningham is most famous for the amazing Björk video All Is Full Of Love and I think his video for Afrika Shox by Leftfield and Afrika Bambaataa is great. But I remember going “what the fuuuuuuuu%&k?” when I saw his video for Come To Daddy by Aphex Twin (Richard D. James). Come To Daddy was released in 1997 & I saw it on MTV but it was on a show where I think celebrities were talking about their favorite videos and this one was chosen & played (since by this point MTV was just TV shows instead of music videos). And I thought “Wow! What the hell was that? Why isn’t MTV playing this sort of thing all the time??” Then Cunningham topped it with the ultra weird 1999 video for Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker. 

I’ve rambled on long enough & I’d assume everyone here has seen these videos by now. But, just in case you haven’t (Rob), I better put a WARNING: Not Safe For Kids! Both are very disturbing and Windowlicker has loads of swearing (according to Wikipedia, “There are 127 uses of profanity in the dialogue segment of the video (which is under 4 minutes), including 44 uses of the word fuck. This averages to more than one use of profanity every two seconds”). But, in searching for these, I discovered a short film by Cunningham that I somehow knew nothing about!!! And it makes these videos look like Disney cartoons. If you’re brave enough after watching these, click THIS LINK for his film Rubber Johnny (featuring, again, music from Aphex Twin). Now THAT is weird…

Enjoy! And Sweet Dreams. ;-) I know I won’t be having any of those since watching Rubber Johnny!

My Top Ten Songs Where The Title Isn’t In The Lyrics

I get really annoyed when a song isn’t named what it should be. Such as: Why the hell isn’t Baba O’Riley by The Who called Teenage Wasteland?! They don’t mention the words Baba O’Riley at all in the song but they sing “Teenage Wasteland” over & over again!

Okay, it doesn’t REALLY annoy me all that much – there are bigger things in life to worry about. ;-) But I did think it would make a fun top ten list! Like last week, though, I’m going to be annoying & make this a Top 20 (there were too many!). Feel free to add any you think of – I admit that with this list I’ve only looked through what’s on my iPod so there will be loads of songs I’ve not thought of or not mentioned.

So here are My Top Twenty Songs Where The Title Isn’t In The Lyrics (ranked roughly according to how much I like the song – I don’t think the order is important with this one):

20. MGMT – Kids (Should Be: Take Only What You Need)
19. Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (Should Be: Really Hurt Me Baby)
18. Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song (Should Be: Ah Ah Ahhhhhhh AH!)
17. Death From Above 1979 – Black History Month (Should Be: Dunno. Maybe “Hold On”. But that’s a Wilson Phillips song…)
16. Blink 182 – Dammit (Should Be: This Is Growing Up)
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Brendan’s Death Song (Should Be: I’m Almost Gone)14. Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues (Should Be: I have no idea… How about “Mixin’ Up The Medicine”!)
13. Interpol – Evil (Should Be: Rosemary)
12. New Order – Blue Monday (Should Be: How Does It Feel?)
11. Daft Punk – Instant Crush (Should Be: We Will Never Be Alone Again)

Top Ten:

10. Public Image Ltd – The Order Of Death
Should Be: This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get

I adore John Lydon & this Public Image Ltd song, which is used prominently in the shower scene in Hardware. Yes! I’ve managed to once again mention the movie Hardware on my blog! Anyway, it’s an awesome song title even if it’s not said – most of the titles in this list are better than my “Should Be” titles.

9. Blur – Song 2
Should Be: Woohoo!

Such a fun song! It’s apparently named Song 2 because it’s two minutes long plus I think it was also the second song on the album? I sometimes play it when timing my kid’s toothbrushing (because kids are meant to brush for two full minutes, right?). Well, it’s a fun way to brush teeth!

8. The Police – Synchronicity II
Should Be: Not sure – maybe “Many Miles Away”

I used to really be into song lyrics as a teen/early twentysomething – you know, the age when you have time to waste on that kind of shit. But I never looked into the lyrics to this one at all until now. Pretty deep stuff with this one! And pretty bleak. This is quite possibly my very favorite song by The Police, who I don’t think really got the credit they deserved. An excellent band & I think I now like this song even more after reading the lyrics but I have to say I still don’t understand the title. I’m too old to think about these things.

7. TIE: Gorillaz – Dirty Harry & Clint Eastwood
Should Be: I Need A Gun & Sunshine In A Bag

I love Gorillaz!!! Do any Americans here know their songs? I think they were far bigger in the UK. I’m actually reading Tank Girl at the moment because it was created by the same guy (Jamie Hewlett) who created this “cartoon band” (one member of the band being adorable Damon Albarn from that picture of Blur I posted for Song 2). These are my two favorite songs of theirs & it made sense to put “Clint Eastwood” & “Dirty Harry” together for this post. The titles are cool. The look of the band is cool. The songs are cool. They should be even bigger than they are!

6. Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five – The Message
Should Be: Don’t Push Me

Seriously. Don’t push me. I’m close to the EDGE! 

5. The Who – Baba O’Riley
Should Be: Teenage Wasteland

I’ve not researched all of these songs but did of course look into this one. Here’s a bit about it from Genius.com:

Initially part of an idea (later thrown aside) of a follow up rock opera — Lifehouse — to Tommy, Pete Townshend wrote it after his experience at Woodstock. The name of the song is a combination of Meher Baba – an Indian guru that kept silent from 1935 until his death in 1969 who inspired Townshend spiritually, and Terry Riley — a musician and classical composer that also inspired him.

There’s actually a lot more to it if you want to read about it at Wikipedia – it’s an interesting read. But whatever the reason for the title, it’s a damn good song.

4. The Cure – Lullaby
Should Be: The Spiderman

I just really really like this song. ;-) Love The Cure.

3. David Bowie – Space Oddity
Should Be: Ground Control To Major Tom

Well, okay – I assume this title is a play on words after 2001: A Space Odyssey. I looked this one up too. Turns out this song is actually about alienation. I thought it was about a guy going into space! I’m so damn literal. This song has now gone up even more in my estimation. And I already loved it like crazy before. Because: Bowie. :-)

2. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Should Be: Not sure but any excuse to get Black Sabbath into a list… How about “I Am Frowning All The Time”

Black Sabbath have quite a few songs where the title isn’t in the lyrics (except Iron Man, of course). I almost used Black Sabbath but the word “black” is said, so – close enough! I do love the lyrics to Paranoid – you can tell that Sabbath come from dark, grey, dreary England… ;-)

1. The Clash – Train In Vain
Should Be: Stand By Me

Okay – clearly The Clash couldn’t use Stand By Me as the Ben E. King song was such a huge hit. I’m thinking I like The Clash even more than I realized – this song also topped my list of My Top Ten Happy Songs. I love it! And Train In Vain is an excellent title even though I’m sure most people can’t name it.

Almost Mentions:
(I considered these but in looking up the lyrics, I ruled them out as at least one of the words was mentioned)
Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
The Smiths – How Soon Is Now
Radiohead – Paranoid Android (how can I have not noticed that in this song, one of my absolute all-time favorite desert island tracks, there’s a voice saying the words paranoid & android in the background the whole time?!)

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Book Review) 

I mentioned this book HERE when I ranked & did mini-reviews of the books I’d read in 2013. It was a super mini-review for this one as I planned to do a longer review of it at some point. So, here you go! It only took me two years!

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The book tells the tale of a boy who, following a horrific family tragedy, follows clues that take him to an abandoned orphanage on a Welsh island. The story is told through a combination of narrative and vernacular photographs from the personal archives of collectors listed by the author.

My Thoughts:

I fully admit that the eerie photographs used throughout this book are what drew me to it. It’s yet another Young Adult book, a genre which has become so popular with every age these days, but at least it’s quite “different” from the rest. I still think the idea behind this book is genius! I love that the author collects weird old photographs & ended up writing a story around them. I think that’s very creative. Unfortunately, I didn’t really love the story.

(Is this one of the creepiest photos you’ve ever seen or what?!)

As I say, I read this in 2013 (possibly even 2012) so I’m not going to get into any specifics at this point. I did think the story was clever, about a group of “peculiar” children at an orphanage who seem to each have strange & mysterious talents or “powers”. It’s a very odd book & I’m usually a fan of odd. But, for whatever reason that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, it didn’t really work for me although it seemed like the type of thing that would be right up my alley. As with most books I don’t fully enjoy, I think I just didn’t buy into the characters that much (including the main boy, Jacob, who has to unravel the mystery of his grandfather’s strange photographs).

I do think a big part of my problem, which probably isn’t fair to this book, is that I had NO idea that it was the first book in a series when I read it. I think the second book wasn’t yet out and, although I do enjoy YA books such as The Hunger Games trilogy, I’d been reading a lot of series books at that point & was looking for a stand-alone book to read. Imagine my disappointment when I got to the end and there wasn’t a satisfying conclusion! It’s very much a “to be continued” ending. As long as you know that before reading it, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed like I was.

I’m choosing to finally “review” this now as, obviously, this is mainly a movie blog & I’ve been wanting to write a little something about the book before Tim Burton’s film comes out early next year. I do love to read but struggle with book reviews – I find it far easier to talk about movies. But I still enjoy discussing books with all of you in the comments so I’ll do my best to give you a few more of my crappy book reviews by the end of this year – I’ve read A LOT! ;-)

Anyway, I remember saying to my husband while reading this how it would make an excellent Tim Burton movie. Am I good or what?! Clearly someone read my mind! I was very happy when Burton was later chosen to make the film as, although I didn’t totally love it, the book is very original and had a “look” in my mind that perfectly fits Tim Burton’s gothic style. I know his films have been disappointing in recent years but, if he gets this one right, I think it could be very good. And if it’s good, it’ll probably interest me in continuing with the story. Eva Green, although too “young & pretty” for how I pictured Miss Peregrine, does feel like a perfect choice to match the book’s style as does Asa Butterfield as Jacob. I’m actually really looking forward to this film adaptation! I was probably too harsh on the book but, perhaps if I read the next book, I’ll start to like it a little more. As long as there’s some sort of conclusion? Has anyone read the second book, Hollow City??

My Rating: 3/5

Oh god! It’s those creepy kids again! This photo is the stuff of nightmares!!!!

The Lord Of The Rings (Full Trilogy) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from James of Slate The Silver Screen. Thanks for the review, James! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about The Entire Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, IMDB ranks 9, 13 & 21 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

WARNING: SPOILERS

Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy is adapted from J.R.R. Tolkein’s incredible books. These films take you on an epic journey through the detailed and beautiful cinematic universe of Middle Earth and the arduous battle between good and evil., The films are widely regarded as one of the most critically and financially successful franchises of all time, spawning a highly divisive prequel trilogy (The Hobbit) that could never live up to the success of the original.

Wait…this is an exact description of Star Wars…You sure?…alright fine. Anyway!

So without further a do, here is a trailer for the LOTR trilogy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnf4h5HT4dc

FUN FACT: The word Frodo is said 116 times in the trilogy. This is a rate of 0.208 Frodo’s per minute.

BEFORE I START THIS, TRILOGY IS A DEFINITE MUST SEE!

The LOTR franchise is split into The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Towers and Return Of The King. I will not go into too much plot detail, as this is a review, not a PhD thesis.

Frodo (Elijah Wood), a young, inquisitive hobbit, comes into possession of a mysterious ring following the disappearance of his uncle, Bilbo (Tom Holms). Gandalf (Ian McKellan), an aging, powerful wizard discovers this is ‘’The One Ring’’ of power that belonged to the Dark Lord Sauron. Thus begins a chain reaction which sees Frodo on a quest to destroy the one true ring and save middle Earth…COME ON…THIS IS JUST STAR WARS SET IN THE MIDDLE AGES…THERE IS DEFINITELY SOME COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT GOING ON HERE…FINE…I’LL DROP IT

[SIGH]

Frodo, accompanied by Sam, his closest friend and gardener, sets off to meet Gandalf in the village of Bree so that he can get the ring somewhere safe. En route they bump into Merry and Pippin, while they’re stealing crops, who join them on their journey. Incidentally, Merry and Pip are the least qualified saviours in the history of everything…during the course of the trilogy they make blunders of such utter stupidity that I wonder how they made it this far in life. When they reach Bree Gandalf is not there and instead they find Stryder, a mysterious ranger, who helps them evade Sauron’s Black riders. Something they only had to do because Pip blew Frodo’s cover.

The group reach the Elven stronghold of Rivendell where they are reunited with Gandalf. Here a Fellowship is formed to aide Frodo in his quest. The Hobbits, Gandalf, Stryder (now called Aragorn), a bitter man called Boromir. And finally Legolas and Gimli, an elf and dwarf who are constantly bickering.

Plot wise that is about all you need to know. What follows in a 558-minute epic that takes you through highs, lows, battles, betrayal, love, immortality, obsession, mental illness and emotional connection. (By the way there is a 683 minute extended cut, which is also worth a watch).

The first instalment, The Fellowship, serves as an introduction to Middle Earth, its inhabitants, its history, the horrors of the previous war and the malevolence that once again threatens Middle Earth. At its core is the journey of our Hobbits and the bonds of the fellowship. The violence and hardships are personal, the losses are intimate and the battle is for the life of you and your friends. The film never drags and is a great first entry and, although not small by any stretch of the imagination, it is on a smaller scale than its sequels.


The second film, Two Towers, shifts away from Frodo and Sam and more towards the realms of men and Saruman’s fall from grace, the white wizard who Gandalf initially considered a friend. This film is really about redemption; the bonds of the fellowship following their breakdown, the waning strength of men and of those lost to evil. There are a myriad of new characters, however, the standout is Gollum, played by Andy Serkis using motion capture CGI. Gollum was once a hobbit who was corrupted by the ring and is obsessed with it. His ‘’precious’’ fills his every waking thought since he lost it to Bilbo Baggins (see prequel trilogy for clarification). He exhibits serious symptoms of a nearly dozen mental illnesses and disorders that I would not wish on my worst enemy. But grudgingly he develops a fragile relationship with Frodo and agrees to help him find his way into Mordor. Serkis is exceptional in every scene, he is nuanced, he is over the top and he is captivating. It truly is a remarkable performance!

Everything is bigger this time around. The battles, the castles, the enemies, the stakes. Sauron grows more powerful each day, and as such the second film should feel more charged and deadly. It all serves to increase the tension and completely draw you in.

The final instalment, Return Of The King, is the big finish. Everything is stepped up to another level. This time we are not fighting for our home or friends. This could be the end of everything and you can feel it through every second of the final confrontation with Sauron’s army.


You cannot discuss LOTR without discussing the visuals, it is basically a giant tourism piece for New Zealand, where it was filmed. The beautiful landscapes are combined with CGI and set pieces and in doing so become the most important character in the trilogy. The Shire is green and tranquil and captures the innocent, simple life of Hobbits. The grandiose pomposity of the Elves is captured by Rivendell. The realms of men are impressive and foreboding but have been neglected and miss repaired, much like the fading strength of men maligned at the beginning of the series. Then there is Mordor, explored deeply in the final film, a putrid landscape so foul and toxic that it could only breed pure evil. These backdrops are all encompassing, detailed and beautiful and draw you in. You become part of Middle Earth, this is a fight for your home and your people! Without this the series would have not been the success it is!

Furthermore, they provide the huge scale that makes the series so impressive. Even the first film, with its much smaller set pieces and action, takes you on a journey across half a world: the Shire, Bree, Weathertop, Rivendell, mines of Moria, Woods of Lothlorien, the woods of Parth Galen (the final action sequence is here)… This is a complete world of such magnitude and detail that it paved the way for modern cinematic franchises. Before this film no one even attempted something of this scale. The Marvel cinematic universe wouldn’t have been possible without LOTR blazing a trail.

But a series of pretty pictures do not a film make. The film needs heart, you need to care about the characters and believe their relationships. And you are not let down. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, Frodo and Sam, provide the emotional core of the film as they go through hell and back. Their relationship is heart-warming and it is difficult to watch their burdens way heavy on it. Interestingly they haven’t delivered performances anywhere near this level since. Ian McKellan’s Gandalf is fantastic, his stage background was perfect to produce the gravitas and presence needed. He received the trilogy’s only acting Oscar nomination. Viggo Mortensen delivers a strong turn as Aragorn. And I’ve already mentioned Gollum.

However it is not all sunshine and rainbows; the rest of the cast do a great job but for the most part they are replaceable and not memorable of their own accord. The screenwriting and dialogue is generally great, but there are some scenes that come across as quite cliché. There also seems to be an undercurrent of sexual tension between Sam and Frodo, although I could be reading too much into this. There are lots of longing glances, intimate dialogue and a slow-mo scene towards the end where Frodo’s laughing turns into a deep, sensual stare as Sam enters the room.

Alas, with praise also comes criticism:

  • The female characters are strong, powerful and interesting but underused. Most of the time the women serve to propel their male counterparts forward in the plot. And they do not once interact with each other, although with this being a book adaptation maybe this wasn’t possible within the confines of the story. The exception maybe Eowyn but even she falls for Aragorn who cannot return her love.
  • The entire cast is white. I know this is a fictional place so we don’t have anything to base racial proportions on but that’s sort of my point. Would it have really mattered if some of the characters were played by non-white actors? No. This is less of a problem with the film itself than the industry as a whole but it is still worth mentioning.

The relationship between Legolas and Gimli is interesting as they overcome, generations of tension and animosity between their races to become close friends. This obviously has some current relevancy as we have a long way to go with racial equality. But again they are both white…so see above.

  • Even Nazgul, Sauron’s minions, whose only drive is their primal need to find the ring still fall victim to, ‘’Bad Guy Monologue-ing’’. We’ve all seen it. The good guy is done for all the bad guy has to do now is just get on with it. Instead he wastes just enough time explaining his plans that the good guy can escape. And while the Nazgul do not monologue they do waste time and get distracted. Or, more frustratingly, just aren’t very good at finding things. This happens at least 7 times during the trilogy.
  • Multiple endings! This has been the films biggest criticism. The final film takes about 40 minutes to end including: eagles, two weddings, book writing, narration, a whitewash reunion and a boat trip. There are at least five different places where the film could have feasibly ended without causing any problems.

There is no denying Tolkein’s genius but here are some of my issues!

  • THE FUCKING EAGLES. Whenever Tolkein ran out of ideas on how to solve a problem he just called in the eagles. Gandalf’s trapped. Eagles. Outnumbered in battle. Eagles. Frodo’s trapped. Eagles. The entire prequel Hobbit trilogy. Eagles. Why not just give them the bloody ring and let them fly to Mordor? It’d certainly be much quicker.

  • This one is more of a niggle. Dwarfes and Elves hate each other. SO why, in the name of all that is holy, is the password to get into Moria an Elvish word?
  • This series is black and white. Good vs Evil. The characters are either one or the other. I suppose it makes sense in this story but it does leave some of the characters a bit flat. I suppose everyone has the same enemy so maybe they put all other duplicitous plans on the back burner for now? I mean if you exclude Sauron the biggest dicks in the series are men. But even then that’s only because there are two evil men and the rest are good. The only character with any level of grey is Boromir, but his grey is negated by the fact that his actions are part of a misguided plan to do the right thing for his people by fighting the enemy with his own weapon.

All that being said, this series is not just an exceptional cinematic achievement but is an all-encompassing, engrossing and enjoyable watch. Do yourself a favour, set aside 9 hours and watch it!

VERDICT:

PS/ If you want to make a good movie, cast Sean Bean and then kill him. It just works…Patriot Games, Golden Eye, The Field, Game Of Thrones. It’s not worth the risk of letting him live, just ask Jupiter Ascending or The Silent Hill franchise! Although he does still die in some bad movies…trust Michael Bay to ruin a good thing!

PPS/ As a reward for reading all that here are some fun facts.

Number of times Legolas stands and stares at something : 7

Number of moments of intense sexual tension between Frodo and Sam: 9

Number of times you hear the ‘’Shire’’ music: 32 fucking times!

Exam, Paul Williams Still Alive & The To Do List Movie Reviews

Happy Bank Holiday Monday to those in the UK who won’t be reading this since you’re not at work pretending to work while actually reading blogs! Then I think you Americans have next Monday off? So, since no one will be around the next couple of weeks, I figured it was time to do a few more mini-reviews of movies that I didn’t give enough of a shit about to review when I watched them a year ago. Sounds like fun, right?! ;-) Here we go…

IMG_9874

Exam (2009)

Directed by Stuart Hazeldine

Starring: Adar Beck, Chris Carey, Gemma Chan, Nathalie Cox, John Lloyd Fillingham, Chuk Iwuji, Luke Mably, Pollyanna McIntosh, Jimi Mistry, Colin Salmon

My Opinion:

Exam is the best of these three movies, which doesn’t say much for the other two. I’ll say that Exam had a brilliant concept and I did appreciate that. It started out pretty great but got too far-fetched & silly by the end, which was disappointing since it had a lot of potential. I’m feeling lazy today so I’ll let Wikipedia give you the set-up:

The film is set in present-time United Kingdom in an alternate history. Eight candidates dress for what appears to be an employment assessment exam; they enter a room and sit down at individual desks. Each desk contains a question paper with the word “candidate”, followed by a number, from one to eight. The Invigilator, a representative of the company named DATAPREV, explains that the exam is 80 minutes and consists of only one question, but there are three rules: they must not talk to the Invigilator or the armed guard at the door, spoil their paper, or leave the room. If they do, they will be disqualified.

That sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? And it is – it’s why I watched this movie. And it gets even more interesting when the exam starts and the candidates discover the one question. The state of the world in this alternate history, which we learn a little about as the movie progresses, does help to explain the lengths that these eight candidates are willing to go to in order to get this job. But not quite… As to be expected, there are a couple of pricks who you’re meant to immediately dislike but none of the characters are very well developed and you don’t care enough about any of them to really care who will get the job at the end.

Had the characters been better instead of so one-dimensional and had the story been less far-fetched by the end, I’d have liked this one a lot more. I did really enjoy the mystery involved with the whole thing. It was fun seeing the candidates trying various ways to figure out what the hell was going on with the bizarre exam. In a world (shit, did I just use the “in a world” phrase?) where times are desperate, as in the story’s alternate history, you can almost believe that these candidates will do anything to get this very important job. However, the movie doesn’t manage to make us believe that “this could really happen”, which sucks as I think it could. Exam reminded me a lot of The Purge, which is another movie that I thought had a brilliant concept & so many ideas to be explored but never were. Like The Purge, Exam feels like a wasted opportunity (although I really liked The Purge and find myself always sticking up for it).

Don’t let my negativity discourage you if you like the sound of this movie. I think I may just be too picky in always expecting movies to have some deeper sort of meaning. If you don’t think about it too hard & are able to suspend disbelief, you may get some enjoyment out of Exam.

My Rating: 6/10

Paul Williams Still Alive (2011)

Directed by Stephen Kessler

Starring: Well, mainly just Paul Williams, his wife, and the director but there’s plenty of old footage with famous celebrities to watch. 

My Opinion:

What a shitty documentary. Hell, I think I could make a better documentary. The trouble isn’t the subject as I think Paul Williams is fascinating enough to make for an interesting documentary. But god the director, Stephen Kessler, is annoying! This reminded me a bit of the John Hughes documentary, Don’t You Forget About Me (which I reviewed HERE). In both films, the makers almost feel more like stalkers than like proper filmmakers.

I’ll say that Paul Williams comes across a bit grumpy in the documentary but that’s probably understandable as the director pretty much spends the whole film talking about how Paul Williams used to be a pretty big star but now he’s nothing (which isn’t true at all, especially since Daft Punk soon after declared their love for him & worked with him on their amazing Random Access Memories album). It’s ridiculous as Paul Williams has had a longer and FAR more successful career than Kessler (his only other movie you’ll have heard of is the crappy National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation).

As for Paul Williams, I know some people here probably know nothing about him although you may recognize his face. He was (well, still is) mainly a singer-songwriter but also an actor whose most famous work was in the Seventies. He wrote songs for people such as Barbara Streisand (Evergreen) and The Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun & Rainy Days And Mondays). Perhaps his most famous song, though, is The Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie (it’s certainly my favorite & in my list of My Top Ten Happy Songs). He was also in Smokey And The Bandit and the spectacularly mad Brian De Palma film Phantom Of The Paradise, which I reviewed HERE. Williams plays an evil record executive in Phantom, which is a mental “horror musical” that I enjoyed so much that I decided to watch this documentary soon after. Bah! Rubbish. Watch Phantom instead.

It’s hard to know what to rate this as it IS worth checking out if you’re interested in Paul Williams and don’t know much about him. There are plenty of old clips with lots of famous celebrities & the film is almost worth watching for that alone. Don’t expect the most in-depth documentary ever, though, and be prepared to feel as annoyed by the director as Williams sometimes clearly is. I’m glad I watched it but would like to see a better documentary about Paul Williams.

My Rating: 6/10

(okay rating more for the fact that Williams is an interesting character than for the quality of the documentary)

The To Do List (2013)

Directed by Maggie Carey

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rachel Bilson, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Andy Samberg, Scott Porter, Connie Britton

My Opinion:

How can a totally filthy sex comedy be so BORING and completely unfunny in any way? What a load of shit.

I’m thinking that maybe I truly don’t like Aubrey Plaza. I don’t have much experience with her (she’s in that Parks & Recreation thing, right? Never seen it). I didn’t mind her in the slightly pretentious Safety Not Guaranteed but then she mostly just got on my nerves in the disappointing Life After Beth. Well, I’d have to say I pretty much hated her in this. I don’t know if that’s entirely her fault, though, as I can’t say I liked anyone in this plus the movie is just plain bad. I honestly can’t think of a less funny “comedy” that I’ve seen in recent years. It’s almost as bad as a Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer “parody” movie.

(Just go play with yourself instead of watching this movie – you’ll have way more fun)

So, in this movie, perfect student Plaza decides she wants to lose her virginity & do every sexual thing that she can before heading off to college. Or something like that – I don’t remember much of this movie now. Anyway, here’s her sexual “to do” list:

I wouldn’t call myself a prude so my issues with the movie have nothing at all to do with the subject matter. I do enjoy the occasional sex comedy. But what I require is for them to actually be funny. I mean, WTF is this shit?:

Aubrey Plaza’s character is beyond annoying in this movie & I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do any of the things on that above “to do list” with her. The only funny thing, looking at that list, is how it says “British?” next to “teabagging“. lol. Okay – that’s kind of funny. But the rest of this movie is NOT. This movie can go do all of the above things to itself. Yeah… Go fuck yourself, movie!

My Rating: 3/10

Now here’s the rather epic, totally 70’s prog rock-y Touch, Paul Williams’ song with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories:

Question Of The Month At Oracle Of Film – Favorite Star Wars Character? & R.I.P. Wes Craven

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I’ve participated in another Question Of The Month over at Oracle Of Film & I have to say this is my favorite question yet: Who Is Your Favorite Star Wars Character?

So many to choose from! Not an easy question to answer if you’re a big Star Wars fan (which I suppose I am). :-) Actually, no – it was pretty easy as I already knew my answer. I have two favorites so I just had to choose between the two. Who did I pick? Is my answer in the photo above or not?? You can read everyone’s answer HERE. I may ramble on a bit for several paragraphs like I always do when I really like something…

Thanks for another great question, Luke (Skywalker) Abbott! :-)

**I don’t normally do any celebrity R.I.P. types of posts on here but I had to mention Wes Craven. I was very sad to hear of his death this morning. A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of those movies that was a very special part of my early teens when I was starting to discover that I had a love of film that kind of went beyond what my “normal” friends seemed to think of movies (I’m sure you movie bloggers can relate).

I saw it for the first time at a party at the age of 13 & it was my first proper horror. I loved it instantly. We later played spin the bottle at this party, which was fun, but while everyone else probably went home thinking about those pathetic 13-year-old kisses I was mainly thinking about how I would manage to see that “cool” movie again as it wouldn’t be one that my mom would really approve of. (We also watched Fright Night at that party, another awesome 80’s horror classic, although of course not on the same level as Elm Street. Man I miss those days, especially when it comes to horror movies. And clumsy groping.)

I’m not going to turn this into a long post or discuss Craven’s other work that I like (Such as Scream which is of course very popular but I also have a thing for Deadly Friend). I mainly just wanted to mention A Nightmare On Elm Street as that will always be an important part of this movie-life of mine.

R.I.P. Wes Craven – I’m so glad your brilliant film was my introduction to horror. Very few other horror films have been able to live up to A Nightmare On Elm Street for me in the 31 years since its release.

Disney Infinity: Star Wars! 

I don’t know who was more excited when this came out in the UK on Friday: my Star Wars crazy husband or my Star Wars mad daughter. Probably my husband, although he played it cool instead of squealing with delight like my six-year-old did. ;-)

This is just a quick post & certainly not a review of the game itself as I’m not exactly a gamer. In fact, I’ve not played it yet (but I’m sure I’ll be forced to soon – which won’t be so bad as I’m a bit of a Star Wars fan myself). I just want to say THANK YOU to Disney Infinity for probably being the best Star Wars-related thing yet to actually not ignore its young female fans! :-)

We have not just one, or two, but THREE female Star Wars Disney Infinity characters! I’ve talked about this a bit in the past but it’s crazy how difficult it is to get any Princess Leia toys/clothing/etc nowadays as opposed to all the widely available items with all the male characters. Okay – you can sometimes get a Leia but only as a part of a ridiculously expensive set (like the Lego Ewok Village). Want a cheaper Lego Leia? You’ll have to get the keychain & pull the chain out of her head. Better than nothing, I guess?

Having a daughter, she’s of course happy with any Star Wars toys & has loads of male character toys as well. But how do you explain to a six-year-old why female characters are so often excluded? She loves Star Wars Rebels, which has two main female characters, but all the merchandise in Disney Store is aimed at boys and the girl characters are actually not even included in the images of the cast of characters on the boys’ clothing & things like stationery. Occasionally Sabine Wren is included in an image but, when she is, she tends to have the helmet on so you can’t tell that she’s a girl. It’s like Leia in the Boushh helmet – you can sometimes find that version of Leia. Is a boy really going to complain at one or two girl characters on a t-shirt or a school folder along with the male characters? I highly doubt it. I blame idiotic marketing execs.

I’ll stop rambling before I sound too complain-y. I just wanted to celebrate the fact that you can get Princess Leia, Ahsoka Tano & Sabine Wren Disney Infinity characters (and that super cool Boba Fett up there as an exclusive if you buy the set that includes him. hubby did, of course). Things seem to be improving slightly for female fans of what are considered “boy movies” – let’s hope this is just the start of things. On a recent trip to the Disney Store, we were able to buy an awesome unisex R2-D2 sweatshirt plus an R2-D2 t-shirt specifically for girls! I was so happy that I won’t even complain that it’s pink & full of glitter. She can wear her Darth Vader helmet with it to balance out the pink. ;-)

Speaking of Star Wars, I’ve participated in another great Question Of The Month for Luke over at Oracle Of Film. This month’s question: Who Is Your Favorite Star Wars Character? You can read everyone’s answer, along with mine, HERE. (FYI – I didn’t choose a girl) :-)

Music Video Friday: Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield 

I managed to do 2 weeks of Music Video Friday without posting a video from the Eighties! So I think it’s time to post this 80’s classic: Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield. Get your shoulder shimmy shake ready!

I wouldn’t say that Pat Benatar was a favorite singer of mine growing up, although I did like several of her songs. As far as female singers go, I was more of a Heart fan. Although, looking up Pat Benatar’s songs now for this post, there are some good ones I’d forgotten about. Shadows Of The Night! Invincible! Maybe I need a Best Of!

Love Is A Battlefield, released in September 1983, reached number one in the U.S. charts (while only reaching 17 in the U.K. Boo!). Anyway, the video was one of the staples of MTV’s early days. Remember when MTV was good?!? No, most of you are too young but, trust me, MTV used to be the greatest damn thing EVER. It was all MUSIC. Man I miss those days. I’ll never forget being outside my house at the age of about ten when the cute neighbor boy ran out of his house & shouted at me “Thriller is on MTV!!!!!” and then ran back into his house like a maniac. Lol. God he was adorable…

Where was I? Oh! Pat Benatar! I love how Eighties videos so often had cheesy little melodramatic stories. So… Pat Benatar runs away from her parents even though she looks about 30 then ends up some weird kind of dancing hooker or something. But she’s able to escape her pimp by doing an angry shoulder shimmy shake at him! Take that, you nasty dancing pimp! I’d love to be a superhero where my superpower was the shoulder shimmy shake. How awesome would that be?! You have to admit it’s less lame than an Ant-Man. The logo could be like Superman’s but with a triple S instead of just the one S. I like it! I’d photoshop that if I was any good at that sort of thing! 

Well, this post has kind of gone off track. Here’s the video but I’d be very surprised if there’s anyone who has never seen this work of art. Ah, the good old days! :-)

*chart information from Wikipedia 

My Top Ten Movie Fruits & Vegetables

Do you have any idea just how many fruit & vegetable-related movie associations there are? I didn’t until I started making this list! So, I lied – this is a Top 20! There were just too many to narrow it down to ten but my anal retentiveness insisted that I call this a Top Ten to match all my other posts. ;-)

I’ll just do a simple list for 20-11 then elaborate a bit more on my Top Ten. I’d really love for people to add any they can think of which I’ve missed. Let me know in the Comments & I’ll add yours to the end of this post & link to your blog.

Now, counting down from 20 to 1, here are My Top Twenty Movie-Related Fruits & Vegetables:

Top Twenty:

  • 20. TIE: Jack Lemmon, Eve Plumb, Mr Bean & Barry Pepper. Yes – Barry Pepper! Two for one! (FYI – he’s an actor in The Green Mile). Also, I think Chuck’s cousin, Marvin Berry in Back To The Future, deserves a mention. ;-)
  • 19. Strawberry Fields in Across The Universe
  • 18. The strawberries (and various other food items) in Nine 1/2 Weeks
  • 17. The banana in the tailpipe in Beverly Hills Cop
  • 16. All those tomatoes in Attack Of & Return Of The Killer Tomatoes
  • 15. The “blow job carrots” in Fast Times At Ridgemont High
  • 14. Pumpkinhead
  • 13. Children Of The Corn
  • 12. The cute strawberry Barry in Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (plus loads of other food items)
  • 11. The apple pie in American Pie

Top Ten:

    10. F*%k The Pain Away by Peaches
    As Heard In: Lost In Translation, Drive Angry, My Little Eye

    Oh, Peaches – I do admit that I love some of your filthy songs. The most well-known, of course, seems to be Fuck The Pain Away as it’s been used in several movies, including the excellent Lost In Translation.

    9. Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) by Harry Belafonte
    As Heard In: Beetlejuice

    Who doesn’t like this song? Who doesn’t like this scene?! You know, I actually haven’t watched Beetlejuice in years – I really should watch it again! Was never really my favorite Burton film (it’s no Edward Scissorhands…).

    8. Poisoned Apple
    As Seen In: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

    Had to be in the top ten – it’s iconic! Not my favorite princess movie but I do love those Seven “Dwarfs”.

    7. A Clockwork Orange
    As Seen In: Umm… A Clockwork Orange!

    Not my number one favorite Kubrick film (that’s easily The Shining) but I do rank it highly despite being uncomfortable with some of the material. Plus, there’s not a damn orange in sight!

    6. Minion Bananas!
    As Seen In: Minions, the Despicable Me films, Minions shorts

    Yeah, I’ve maybe put this a little too high on the list but I LOVE those crazy minions and their banana obsession. :-)

    5. Cherry Bomb by The Runaways
    As Heard In: The Runaways, Dazed & Confused, Guardians Of The Galaxy

    I’ve put this fairly high on the list even though I’m not crazy about the song. However, it’s awesome that it was included in two of my all-time favorite movie soundtracks (Dazed & Confused and Guardians Of The Galaxy). Also, it gives me the opportunity to recommend the movie The Runaways, which is about the band (obviously). It starred (don’t run away, ha) Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett & Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. Seriously – Stewart & Fanning?! Ugh! But… you know what?! I loved it! They were, well, very good. Especially Stewart. Well worth a watch!

    4. Tangerine Dream
    As Heard In: Legend, Risky Business, Miracle Mile, etc

    I do love a good Tangerine Dream score! It was the best thing about the strange Miracle Mile (a movie loads of fellow bloggers seem to like!) and I’ve always loved the piece Love On A Real Train from Risky Business.

    3. The Big Apple
    As Seen In: Countless films!

    The Big Apple (as in, New York City) – Is there any other city in the world that has SO many films set in it?! I’ve chosen When Harry Met Sally as it’s a favorite. Yes, I’ll be doing a Top Ten NYC movies someday (probably after I finally get around to reviewing Escape From New York!).

    2. The Cucumber
    As Seen In: This Is Spinal Tap

    Ha! I’ve put this high on the list as it’s one of the first things I thought of when I came up with the idea for this list. Again, I’ve not actually watched this movie in years, although I loved it. I need to again. Who wants to watch it with me??

    1. Peas In The Pod
    As Seen In: Toy Story 3

    Yes, I know this may seem an odd choice for number one. But, if anyone here knows me at all, you’ll know I have a thing for anthropomorphism – especially adorable anthropomorphic food! I love these Peas in the Pod!!!! So. Damn. Cute. I may have bought the cuddly toy of this at The Disney Store after watching this movie. I’ve (reluctantly) given it to my daughter now. I clearly love her. ;-)

Didn’t Make The List:
(before you add your own ideas in the Comments, here are some more that I did already think of)

    • The Mandarin & Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3
    • James & The Giant Peach
    • The Limey
    • Olaf’s carrot nose in Frozen
    • Cherry Falls
    • Professor Plum & Colonel Mustard in Clue
    • Violet Beauregarde turning into a blueberry in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
    • Withnail And I – The Camberwell Carrot (the biggest joint ever)
    • The garlic used in The Lost Boys
    • Popeye’s spinach & also Olive Oyl in Popeye
    • Cornholio (did he make an appearance in Beavis & Butthead Do America? I think so…)
    • Carmen Miranda & Josephine Baker
    • The Red Hot Chili Peppers in various films such as Point Break & The Chase
    • Peanuts! Okay – I’m adding this at the end as most won’t agree to it being a veg (or fruit?!) but I’m really excited about this movie coming out!!

Movies I’ve Not Seen:

    • Wild Strawberries
    • The Grapes Of Wrath
    • Bananas
    • The Apple

PHEW! I’ve spent way too much time thinking about fruit & veg this past week in preparation for this post. Now let me know if you have any more to add & I’ll link to you HERE –

Ideas From Other Bloggers:

Cindy Bruchman: Ann-Margret in the white living room swimming in a room of canned beans coming out of her television in The Who’s Tommy

Eric from The IPC: Sherilynn Fenn using her tongue to tie a knot in a cherry stem in Twin Peaks (the TV show but I’ll accept it) ;-)

sgliput of Rhyme Or Reason: Fried Green Tomatoes, “ogres are like onions” from Shrek, the pumpkin in Cinderella, the berry interrogation in Sound of Music, the giant cherry in Wreck-It Ralph, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and “Can you say mango?” from Paulie.

And since I gave this scene a thorough re-watching for, ah, research…. I might as well share:

And here’s some Tangerine Dream:

Ant-Man (2015) Review

Ant-Man (2015)

Directed by Peyton Reed

Story by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish

Based on Ant-Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Anthony Mackie, Wood Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Michael Douglas

Plot Synopsis:
Superhero ants.

My Opinion:

I finally saw Ant-Man! It was… okay. Everyone has reviewed it by now so the general vibe I got was that it wasn’t exactly the best superhero movie ever but it was a bit of fun anyway. Yep – that’s pretty much it.

First of all: Paul Rudd. I’ve talked of my love for Paul Rudd here a few times. I’d say he’s definitely the best thing about this and, had it been someone else playing Ant-Man, I’m sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I mean, it’s about a tiny little superhero with an army of ants. It’s weird! The movie could have been a total disaster but I think they just managed to actually pull it off thanks to Rudd more than anything else.

With Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish writing this, I was hoping for a slightly better story (I found Cornish’s Attack The Block to be a pleasant surprise). The story was okay but it was kind of “same old same old”, as with most Marvel movies. I’m getting a tad bored with the superhero thing so I did appreciate that Ant-Man felt a little “different” (although nowhere near as different as Guardians Of The Galaxy, which is probably why that remains my favorite superhero movie of recent times & maybe my favorite ever).

You know what else I’m bored with? Reviewing superhero movies. I’m kind of glad to hear that Fantastic Four sucks so I don’t have to waste my time on that one. What else can I really say about Ant-Man?? If you love the Marvel films, you know you kind of need to see this as they’re all connected. As always, I don’t know a thing about the comics so I can’t compare but I doubt Ant-Man was anyone’s favorite character in the first place so I think Paul Rudd did a good job making such a potentially boring superhero so likeable.

Oh! Being a woman & mother of a young girl, I have to admit that my favorite element of the story involved Rudd’s scenes with his character’s daughter. She was so adorable! Nothing melts women’s hearts more than seeing a daddy protecting his daughter. Also, although you see it coming (which is fine as all Marvel films are pretty predictable), there’s a scene during the big climax at the end that was fantastic & saved the movie a little for me. I didn’t think Ant-Man was at all bad but the final half hour or so did really up my opinion of the movie as a whole.

Summary:

I know I sound a little bored with this movie but it’s just the overall superhero thing that doesn’t excite me so much anymore. They’re fun popcorn movies & I’m sure I’ll watch them all but I’m waiting for another one to surprise me in the way that Guardians Of The Galaxy did. I’d have to say I actually enjoyed Ant-Man more than some of the sequels involving Marvel’s much more famous superheroes (such as Iron Man). In fact, I’d almost say that I enjoyed this one a little more than Avengers: Age Of Ultron, although I think Ultron is a better film. I don’t know… Ant-Man is an enjoyable enough experience. I’m just happy that, of the two, Fantastic Four is the massive failure instead. I do love my Paul Rudd and am glad he did pretty well in this one.

My Rating: 7/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits? Don’t be silly – of course there is! Two, actually – a mid-credits & one after the credits. Fairly worth staying for…

Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) IMDB Top 250 & Argumentative August Review 

I’ve done a review of courtroom crime drama classic Anatomy Of A Murder, starring James Stewart, for the Argumentative August Blogathon hosted by MovieRob & by Ryan of Ten Stars Or Less. AND… this doubles as one of my own reviews for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge! This movie was ranked 203 out of 250 when I started my project on 01/01/2013.

You can read my review HERE. Thanks for letting me take part, guys! :-)

The House Of The Devil (2009) Review For Devil Week At The IPC

I’m re-posting my below review of Ti West’s The House Of The Devil for Devil Week at Isaacs Picture Conclusions. You can view all the participating reviews HERE. :-)

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The House Of The Devil (2009)

Directed by Ti West

Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, Lena Dunham, Dee Wallace

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret; they plan to use her in a satanic ritual.

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My Opinion:

Last October I watched my first Ti West movie for my Halloween Horror Fest (The Innkeepers – review HERE) and actually quite liked it so I’ve been meaning to check out The House Of The Devil ever since then. Hmm. I’ll say it’s very obvious it’s from the same director. I’m still not sure how I feel about Ti West but, based on the little I’ve seen, he clearly likes to use the same sort of template for his films. I was thinking about checking out his movie The Sacrament soon as well but was expecting it to be another movie where NOTHING happens for the first hour or so and then suddenly all hell breaks loose in the last 20 to 30 minutes (and Cara has just confirmed that this is indeed the case once again in her review of The Sacrament HERE). I like his style for the most part so far but can totally understand why a lot of people hate his movies. Be aware that if you watch The House Of The Devil it’s veeeeeeeery slow until, yes, all hell breaks loose in the final 20 minutes or so. Exactly like The Innkeepers.

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I’m struggling to think of what to say about this one and am still not completely sure how I feel about it. There were certain things I loved, like the opening credits in the photo above and the look & mood of the film and, of course, how it’s set in my beloved 1980s. My favorite scene is when the main girl, played by Jocelin Donahue, puts on her walkman and dances around to The Fixx (One Thing Leads To Another! Remember that song?? I’m so old…). Oh yeah – and the house is a pretty cool looking creepy old house as well.

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Dee Wallace has a small role, which is cool for us old horror fans. Also, Mary Woronov is in this who I was shocked to realize was the scientist in the underrated Night Of The Comet (which I recently reviewed HERE). Here she is – I can’t say I recognized her:

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I also really did like the main girl and thought she had the perfect look for this movie – it felt like West was going for a Margot Kidder/70’s actress type of look which helped to set the “Suspiria” mood, which I think he was also going for. I like and appreciate that as all my favorite horror films are from the 70’s & 80’s but, if I want to watch Suspiria, I’ll just watch that instead of a modern day copy.

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This is sounding a bit too negative. I was almost sort of loving this movie, actually, until the end. With The Innkeepers, I was a little bored until the final half hour which I thought was really good and saved the movie. I often complain that horror movies rarely know how to end but I found the ending of The Innkeepers pretty satisfying. However, the opposite is true of The House Of The Devil. I REALLY wanted to love it and things were going well as I was actually thoroughly enjoying that “Ti West thing where nothing happens for the first hour” but then the ending just didn’t quite work for me. This was pretty disappointing as I think I’d be raving about this movie if I’d been happy with the ending. I of course won’t spoil it so can’t go into what I didn’t like (there was only really one specific thing). Let’s just say I wish he’d kept it a little more simple and “classic”. And, although the absolute final scene didn’t bother me, I’m sure a lot of people hated it.

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Summary:

I think what I’m trying to say in a really long-winded way is this: I liked this movie (despite my negative-sounding review) but can totally understand why it’s not for everyone. I doubt anyone will go read my Innkeepers review now but I was much more positive in that one. However, although I think The Innkeepers is more “accessible” and is the one I’d be far more likely to recommend to people without worrying that they’d hate me for recommending it, I actually think The House Of The Devil is the better film of the two. Does that make sense?? That may be why I sound so disappointed. I think this movie had a lot of potential and I’d like to see a Ti West movie I can truly say I loved from start to finish. Maybe someday. This was so close at first…

My Rating: 7/10

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Someone Take Me To Banksy’s Dismaland Bemusement Park!

Banksy has put together this “dystopian tourist attraction” featuring art from a long list of famous artists (including his, of course). I love Banky’s work (you can read my review of Exit Through The Gift Shop HERE). I did a “Banksy tour” of London years ago to see some of his most famous street art and I WANT TO GO TO DISMALAND!!!!

There’s a very good article about the whole thing at This Is Colossal so take a look at that link if you’re at all interested & live anywhere near Weston-Super-Mare. There’s loads of info, a video & lots of photos.

It’s very likely that reading that article will be your only way of experiencing Dismaland. So far, demand is very high and there are long queues to get in as the official website is experiencing problems and people have been unable to buy tickets. Ha! Rumor has it that even that is all part of the Dismaland experience. How very Banksy! I love it! So I’m extremely unlikely to experience Dismaland first-hand as I live nowhere near there (plus I can’t imagine Disney letting this stay open for long!!!) but just knowing of its existence puts a smile on my face. Which is kind of missing the point. Or is it?! Who knows. Gotta love art! :-)

Music Video Friday: Justice – D.A.N.C.E.

Continuing what is my least popular series so far, today’s music video is D.A.N.C.E. by Justice. Lol ;-)

I don’t like a lot of current music but there are four albums I’ve loved above all others in the 21st Century. Okay – I’m totally cheating as one was released in 1998 but that’s still my definition of current. That one is Psyence Fiction by UNKLE and I really wanted to share the video for Rabbit In Your Headlights but I can’t find a full version to share (it’s probably banned). I’ll bore you all with my thoughts on the brilliant Psyence Fiction another day – I promise! Another one of the four is the much more current Random Access Memories by Daft Punk. I doubt I need to go into that one – some of you will already be fans (check out my review of their movie Electroma HERE. Woohoo!).

Finally, the other two albums of the new millennium that I can’t live without are two albums from French duo Justice. One is the pretentiously named (well, “symboled”? it’s a cross symbol…) album sometimes just called Cross & the other is Audio, Video, Disco. Here are the album covers:



(No, it’s not Christian rock)

Justice were at one point rumored to actually be Daft Punk & I can see why as it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Daft Punk making the music on their albums. Wikipedia lists “Electro house, electronica, nu-disco, electroclash, electronic rock, alternative dance” as the band’s genres. There’s a mouthful! I love their music as it really is a mish-mash of styles. The video I’ve chosen is for a song that was actually a hit (although less so than I thought – it looks like the D.A.N.C.E. single only got to number 48 in the UK charts in 2007 but did reach number 1 in the dance chart). However, it’s very unlike their far less radio-friendly songs. Their other hit single, We Are Your Friends, was a remix of Simian song Never Be Alone (and far better than the original). My personal favorite song is definitely On’N’On but I can’t post that because of the nudity in the video. I also highly recommend checking out their video for New Lands, which was clearly inspired by the 1975 film Rollerball. (Someone please click on that! It’s more me than D.A.N.C.E. but I’m going with the more commercial one for this post). ;-)

I’ve rambled on about Justice for long enough so I’m going to just let Wikipedia tell you about the below video:

The music video for “D.A.N.C.E.” was shot by French directorial duo Jonas & François with animation by So Me. The video was nominated for the 2007 MTV Video Music Award “Video of the Year”; while winning the award at the MTV Europe Music Awards. The music video is shot in the style of pop art. In the video, Augé and de Rosnay walk and the images of their T-shirts constantly change and morph (cars, mouths, thunderbolts, lollipops, numbers, letters and the lyrics). The video includes a reference to the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.

I love all the references to Michael Jackson songs in D.A.N.C.E. – this is a great dance tune that should’ve been a bigger hit:

*UK chart information from Wikipedia

My Top Ten Amy Adams Movies

Happy Birthday to Amy Adams, who turns 41 today! 

Yes, I needed a quick & easy Top Ten this week so I did my usual lazy thing of looking up celebrity birthdays. ;-) Adams was the only one worthwhile today – I really like her so was surprised to find that some people find her annoying. Look at her in that picture – she’s so adorable! Wish I looked like that. Anyway, I’ve liked her ever since her Oscar-nominated performance in Junebug.

So now, counting down from ten, these are My Top Ten Amy Adams Movies (okay – I don’t like number ten very much but I’m not putting that awful Man Of Steel in this list!):

10. American Hustle

9. Big Eyes

8. The Fighter

7. Night At The Museum 2 (I mention it in my review of the third film)

6. Enchanted

5. The Muppets

4. Junebug

3. Sunshine Cleaning

2. Her

1. Catch Me If You Can

The remainder of her movies that I’ve seen:

Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny (she was in this?! Lol. I should watch it again – I like The D)
Julie & Julia
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
The Wedding Date
Leap Year
Man Of Freaking Steel

Escape From Alcatraz (1979) Review

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Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

Directed by Don Siegel

Based on Escape from Alcatraz by J. Campbell Bruce

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Fred Ward, Roberts Blossom, Larry Hankin, Jack Thibeau, Paul Benjamin, Danny Glover

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Escape from Alcatraz is a 1979 American prison film based on true events. It dramatizes possibly the only successful escape attempt from the maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island.

My Opinion:

This movie is great! I remember scrolling through Netflix a few months ago & being so sick of the absolute shit I’d watched recently and really wanting to see a proper,  good movie so I decided to give Escape From Alcatraz a go. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t at all disappointed! I actually don’t know why it isn’t a little more highly regarded – I think its IMDB rating is a little low at 7.6 as I actually enjoyed it quite a bit more than several of the “classics” that are in the IMDB Top 250. I think Escape From Alcatraz actually deserves a place in the Top 250 more than a lot of the films that are in it (especially the current films that end up there just because users rate modern movies far too highly).

If you haven’t seen this but you like either The Shawshank Redemption or The Great Escape, I can pretty much guarantee that you’d enjoy this one as well. It’s actually funny just how similar this is to Shawshank! There’s quite a similar set of quirky & likeable characters (even though they’re criminals) and an evil warden (Patrick McGoohan). Alcatraz even has its own Shawshank Brooks in the form of a painter & lover of chrysanthemums named Doc (Roberts Blossom). They’re so similar that I just looked up Stephen King’s novella on Wikipedia to see if he was inspired by the true story & this movie. Turns out that his story is heavily based on the 1872 short story God Sees the Truth, But Waits by Leo Tolstoy. What? Huh – I never knew that! You learn something new every day. :-)

While watching this, I couldn’t help but wonder about the true story and how accurately it’s portrayed in the movie. From the little bit of investigation that I did, it seems pretty accurate from what I can tell (with the usual small changes to make for a better movie). Maybe I should read the J. Campbell Bruce novel someday – it really is a fascinating story. It’s funny how in this (and Shawshank), the criminals are the “heroes” while the prison employees are the bad guys. As this story is based on real people, however, I was worried after it finished that I was cheering the escape of hardened criminals. Looking them up, it appears that they were there mainly just for robberies. Not that I condone robbery! I’m just glad they weren’t murderers or rapists. Eastwood’s character (Sam Morris) was sent to the maximum security island as he had escaped from other prisons and, like the real life Morris, had a very high IQ. It was quite an elaborate two-year long escape plan – You have to give these guys credit for their determination. Well, Andy Dufresne spent far longer on his plan. ;-) (Sorry, sorry… I just can’t help the Shawshank comparisons!).

Besides Clint Eastwood, we have a lot of other very recognizable faces in this movie. The painter & flower-lover that I mentioned, Doc, is played by Roberts Blossom (the nice “scary” old man in Home Alone!). Another really great character who is based on one of those involved in the plan but whose character was changed slightly from the real-life man is played by Larry Hankin (grumpy neighbor Mr. Heckles in Friends!). The warden is played by Patrick McGoohan (Scanners!) and another great inmate who helps out, English, is played by Paul Benjamin (Across 110th Street! Never seen it!). The actors playing the bank-robbing brothers from the real story are played by Fred Ward (Tremors!) and Jack Thibeau (I didn’t know him but he was in Lethal Weapon as was Danny Glover, whose very small film debut was in Alcatraz). As for Clint Eastwood, I have to honestly say that I think this is now my personal favorite of his movies that I’ve seen so far.

Summary:

Based on the fascinating true story of what is probably the most famous prison break, Escape From Alcatraz was likely to be a highly entertaining film. And it certainly was! The story seems pretty unaltered as far as the main characters & the actual prison break go. As for the lesser characters, I don’t know if people like Doc were real but I’m not too bothered if things like that were added as these little things help to make this such an enjoyable film. Were the real-life criminals such likeable “heroes”? Unlikely. But movies often elaborate in this way. All in all, this is a great film and those who are interested in the real story can further explore its accuracies if they wish (and I just might someday). I call that a successful movie when it makes you want to learn more about the real story. And, as brilliant as this movie is, it’s only my second favorite “Escape” movie that I’ve watched for the first time this year! (I’d have to put Escape From New York above this one – what a good year I’ve had for Escape movies). :-)

My Rating: 8/10

The Pianist (2002) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Natalie of Writer Loves Movies. Thanks for the review, Natalie! :-) Now let’s see what she has to say about The Pianist, IMDB rank 49 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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Arriving in cinemas just nine years after Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, Roman Polanski’s Holocaust drama The Pianist had a lot to live up to.

Spielberg’s film is a sweeping historical epic but Polanski takes a different approach, narrowing his focus on Polish Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody). The Pianist is based on Szpilman’s real life experiences during the German occupation of Poland and takes in the first days of the Warsaw ghetto, the ghetto uprising and the subsequent Warsaw uprising made by the wider Polish resistance against the Nazis in 1944. It’s powerful subject matter handled effectively by screenwriter Ronald Harwood (Australia, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly), who took home an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Where the plight of the Jewish people can be observed in the background of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List which is centred primarily on German industrialist Oskar Schindler and concentration camp commander Amon Goeth, Polanski’s The Pianist is told directly from a Jewish perspective. It’s a huge risk, but one that pays off, enabling Polanski to take us into the very centre of the Jewish ghetto.

Polanski excels in attention to detail. Szpilman’s family and friends are the film’s main emphasis but every aspect of The Pianist’s mise-en-scene delivers the ghetto’s difficult politics and its impact on the masses forced to live there. Emaciated people scrabble for crumbs of food and corpses lie in the street virtually unnoticed: death is a familiar sight. Remarkably, these abhorrent visual details echo those described by first-hand witnesses in Claude Lanzmann’s landmark holocaust documentary, Shoah.

The dividing ghetto wall is, itself, a recurring point of focus. Polanski’s stark camera lingers on it, giving us space to reflect on its significance. Within the wall’s confines the scenes are claustrophobic. Polanski makes frequent use of the ghetto crossing (the Warsaw ghetto was divided by a main German thoroughfare), as another strong visual indicator of the segregation. Waiting in line to cross from one half of the ghetto into the other, Jewish humiliation is compounded by Nazi goading and belittlement. Much of The Pianist is centred on these simple means of degradation, observed and endured by Szpilman whose entire family share a single caramel while awaiting deportation: a symbol of their rapidly encroaching hunger and malnutrition.

Clearance of the Warsaw ghetto (deportations to the Treblinka concentration camp of which the audience but not the film’s characters are well aware) marks a division in The Pianist. From here, the pace slows and the film’s focus shifts away from Jewish persecution to the impact of war on wider Poland. The ghetto uprising is viewed from the windows of a nearby apartment, shortly followed by the Warsaw uprising. This second half of Polanski’s film hones in on Wladyslaw Szpilman’s struggle to stay alive in the increasingly devastated country. Adrien Brody manages this portion of the film almost single-handedly, observing the crippling war while searching for food and shelter. Unsurprisingly, Brody took home an Oscar for his performance here, beating Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs Of New York).

Why you should see it: Polanski’s The Pianist unites a muscular character study and compassionate portrayal of the human spirit with an intricate study of the politics of the Warsaw ghetto and the city’s wider uprising. While it lacks the historical scope of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, The Pianist offers audiences a more intimate viewing experience that should not be overlooked.

Murder By Death (1976) Review

Murder By Death (1976)

Directed by Robert Moore & Written by Neil Simon

Starring: Truman Capote, Alec Guinness, Peter Falk, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, James Coco, Eileen Brennan, Elsa Lanchester, Nancy Walker, Estelle Winwood

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Five famous literary detective characters and their sidekicks are invited to a bizarre mansion to solve an even stranger mystery.

My Opinion:

Is this the first Neil Simon movie I’ve ever seen in my life?? I think it is! First of all, can I just say that I have no idea when I watched this & it’s stressing me out? Whenever I finish watching a movie, I immediately add it to my current year’s page on here. I forgot to add this one! I just realized when I decided it was time to review it. I’ve added it to my 2015 page but I’m thinking it may have been late 2014. Oh, the drama!! ;-) Now that I’ve murdered you all by boredom, I’ll talk about what I remember of this movie all these days?, months?, years? later. I’m catching up now as I don’t really get to go to any current films over the summers. I need to go to a movie soon!!!

I’d never even heard of this movie until several years ago when someone mentioned it was a favorite of theirs. I kept that in mind so was happy when it appeared on UK Netflix. I’m funny about “comedy” – there are very few that I like. I’d rather watch a “proper” movie like sci-fi, fantasy, action, drama… I mean, no movie will ever be as funny as The Princess Bride so I kind of can’t be bothered to watch many comedies. Oh yeah – Billy Crystal! HE’S funny! City Slickers! Monsters, Inc! Billy makes me laugh! Why do we have to suffer with shit like We’re The Millers nowadays? And why did I even watch that? Maybe I need to explore some older stuff like Murder By Death. Because Murder By Death is… funny! It’s not “Billy Crystal funny” & Peter Sellers is a somewhat annoying distraction but it’s pretty damn funny overall. The surprising thing was that the most serious acTOR, Alec Guinness, was hilarious as the blind butler! I think Guinness & Peter Falk (Princess Bride connection!) were my favorite things about this. Oh! And tiny Nancy Walker as the deaf-mute cook! She was awesome. Her scenes with Guinness’ blind butler were a riot. Is that politically incorrect? Well, if you think it is you’ll want to fast-forward through every scene with Peter Sellers as an Asian detective based on Charlie Chan. Oh boy! More about that later…


So, this movie is a spoof on famous detective novels/movies. Most of the characters are obvious but I did have to look them up. I’ve never read a murder mystery but I’ve always thought about checking out some of Agatha Christie’s novels. I wish I had a little experience with this genre as I probably would have appreciated the comedy a bit more. Well, I did love Murder She Wrote – Angela Lansbury kicks ass! ;-) From Wikipedia, these are the characters who those in Murder By Death are based on:

  • Inspector Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) is based on Earl Derr Biggers’ Chinese police detective Charlie Chan. 
  • Dick and Dora Charleston (David Niven and Maggie Smith) are polished, sophisticated society types modeled on Dashiell Hammett’s characters Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man film series. 
  • Milo Perrier (James Coco) is a take on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. 
  • Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) parodies another Dashiell Hammett character, The Maltese Falcon’s hard boiled Sam Spade. 
  • Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester) parodies Christie’s Miss Marple. 

These famous characters are invited for the weekend to the mansion of a mysterious millionaire, played by the intriguing Truman Capote. He claims that there will be a murder to be solved and that the winner will receive one million dollars.

Blah blah blah, hijinks ensue! Some of the jokes were totally silly but that’s the kind of thing I like. I liked Guinness being named Jamesir Bensonmum just so there could be a silly exchange with a couple of guests (David Niven & Maggie Smith if I remember correctly). Speaking of Niven, he’s been in tons but the only other thing I’ve seen him in is The Pink Panther with Sellers. I like him – I’d have to say that I prefer him to Sellers with his over-the-top comedy. Anyway, as I mentioned, Sellers plays an Asian detective here based on Charlie Chan. I don’t know anything about the character of Chan so had to look into this but it does appear that this performance is a send-up of the fact that Chan was so often played by white actors. In this context it makes sense & makes it not as bad as Mickey Rooney in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Truman Capote connection!) but his character may not sit right with some people who watch this movie today. Which is kind of a shame as it’s otherwise quite an enjoyable film.

Summary:

I enjoyed Murder By Death quite a bit but, like the movie, I’m from an older generation. The comedy probably won’t work on a younger audience and may be seen as too politically incorrect at times. If it sounds like your kind of comedy & you’re a fan of the very impressive cast, I’d definitely recommend this if you’ve not seen it.

My Rating: 7/10

Anthropomorphic Cuteness Part X: The Amazing World Of Gumball

What is this strange Amazing World Of Gumball show?! My kid was bored the other day & ended up on Cartoon Network. The below clip is what I saw. It’s funny! I worried that it was inappropriate & immediately made her turn the channel. Then… later looked for it myself on YouTube. ;-)

Anthropomorphic food! My favorite thing! This clip, The Battle, cracked me up:

Music Video Friday: Kiesza – Hideaway

With a lack of IMDB guest reviews to post on Tuesdays after next week, I need another “easy post” day. So… How about “Music Video Friday“? ;-)

For now I’ll try to do my own IMDB Top 250 reviews on Tuesdays sometimes (which would be good anyway as I’ve become too lazy on that while I had guest reviews to post). That will take up more of my time, though, so on Fridays (for now) I’ll post music videos that I like. I’ve been meaning to do a list of My Top Ten Music Videos for a while (I still might) but when I attempted working on the list, I had well over 50. So I thought it might be fun to just highlight one that I like each week. 

This week’s video is Hideaway by Kiesza, which is a song from a year ago that I’ve kept on my iPod as it’s a great, upbeat song that’s good for the walk to work or while working out. I know “dance” music is much bigger in the UK and this song debuted in the charts here at number one in April 2014 while doing hardly a thing in America & only reaching 51. Do any Americans here know it? I think the video was really popular. 

Anyway! I rarely listen to the radio & my iPod has been filled with the same Seventies & Eighties songs for years. So it’s very likely that this will be one of the most current videos that I post on a Friday but I’ll do my best to not bore you twentysomethings with too much of my “old people music”. ;-)

Filmed in one single shot in the streets of Brooklyn, it’s obvious that Kiesza has been very influenced by early Nineties dance & hip-hop (which is probably why I like it). I dig the retro outfit, dancing, and graffiti & like seeing the cab slowly pulling up in the background at the end to get the timing right. Good video & song – there aren’t really enough of those these days! 

**Music chart & video information from Wikipedia 

My Top Ten Movies With Song Title Titles


With these top ten lists that I do, the ideas often come to me while discussing movies/music/life in general with my hubby. With this one, it was the death of a singer on this list that got me thinking about movies that share their titles with song titles. And, boy, are there ever a lot of them!!!

I immediately thought of several but this time got a big helping hand online – I’d have forgotten about some obvious ones if I hadn’t gone searching. This seems to be a fairly popular topic! As always, though, this is my own personal top ten of my favorites as I often have different taste from a lot of people.

With this list, there are SO MANY movies named after songs (or vice versa) that I’ve had to make rules. So… don’t go telling me I’ve forgotten one of it doesn’t fit my criteria! ;-)

  1. THE SONG HAD TO BE FIRST: The movie has to have come AFTER the existence of the song
  2. Songs written specifically for a movie don’t count (loads of songs are written for films & given the same name as the film’s title)
  3. Music movies don’t count (so, no musicals or Beatles films like Yellow Submarine or movies based on music people like What’s Love Got To Do With It – obviously these movies would have song title titles)
  4. The movie does NOT have to deliberately be named after the song (but it’s better when they are) and it doesn’t actually have to have the song in it (but it’s better when they do). Sometimes it’s a coincidence that a movie has a song title, sometimes it’s on purpose but the song isn’t used in the film (clearance rights, probably), and sometimes it’s named after a song and the song is used (like my number one – I prefer these).
  5. I have to have seen the movie. 

    Ha! Sorry… This one really needed rules for me to narrow it down to ten!

    So now, here are My Top Ten Movies With Song Title Titles (ranked according to how much I like the movie, not the song – but I’ll give my opinion on the song too):

    10. TIE: American Pie & Drive


    Song by: Don McLean & The Cars
    Is it named after the song? Pie, probably. Drive, definitely not.
    Is the song in the film? No
    Do I like the song? I like both but prefer Drive – I went through about a two-month phase of being a big Cars fan at the age of 17.

    9. Pretty In Pink


    Song by: The Psychedelic Furs
    Is it named after the song? Yes. As are many John Hughes movies…
    Is the song in the film? Yes, a re-recorded version
    Do I like the song? Yes

    8. Whip It


    Song by: Devo
    Is it named after the song? No
    Is the song in the film? No
    Do I like the song? Yes – I love Devo

    7. Some Kind Of Wonderful


    Song by: The Drifters & Soul Brothers Six
    Is it named after the song? Assume so but don’t know which one! 
    Is the song in the film? No
    Do I like the song? Totally different songs. I like the Soul Brothers Six one, which is the one I assume John Hughes liked??

    6. My Girl


    Song by: The Temptations
    Is it named after the song? Assume so
    Is the song in the film? Yes
    Do I like the song? Yes – it’s a great song!

    5. Can’t Buy Me Love


    Song by: The Beatles
    Is it named after the song? Must be
    Is the song in the film? Yes
    Do I like the song? It’s okay – I love The Beatles but it’s not one of my favorites

    4. Sixteen Candles


    Song by: The Crests 
    Is it named after the song? Yes
    Is the song in the film? A cover by The Stray Cats is
    Do I like the song? Not especially

    3. Dazed And Confused


    Song by: Led Zeppelin
    Is it named after the song? Not sure – Don’t think so
    Is the song in the film? No (the soundtrack is awesome, though)
    Do I like the song? It’s okay – they have other songs I prefer

    2. Pump Up The Volume


    Song by: M|A|R|R|S
    Is it named after the song? Unlikely
    Is the song in the film? No
    Do I like the song? Definitely 

    1. Stand By Me (as if my number one was going to be anything else!)


    Song by: Ben E. King (R.I.P.)
    Is it named after the song? Yes
    Is the song in the film? Yes
    Do I like the song? Love it. Like the film, it’s an all time classic.

    Honorable Mentions: (I just like the song with some of these)

    • Boogie Nights (Really like both the movie & Heatwave song)
    • Boys Don’t Cry (Good movie, LOVE The Cure song)
    • Just Like Heaven (Meh movie but, again, adore The Cure song. Witherspoon also ripped off Lynyrd Skynyrd for Sweet Home Alabama…)
    • Blue Velvet (Like the movie okay, loads of people have done the song. The most famous version by Bobby Vinton is good but totally not my type of thing)
    • Pretty Woman (Like the movie a bit more than I’d care to admit & the Roy Orbison song isn’t a favorite but is catchy as hell)
    • Take Me Home Tonight (Movie okay but I really like the Eddie Money song. As with Pretty Woman, I probably like Eddie Money more than I’d care to admit. Billy Squier too. Guilty pleasures! God I’m old & uncool…)
    • Babe (I don’t care about that stupid pig, but: Woohoo! Styx!)
    • Starman (sorry Carpenter fans but I keep falling asleep trying to finish this. I just use any excuse I can to get David Bowie into my posts. Great song!)
    • Lean On Me (Good movie & excellent Bill Withers song)
    • Running On Empty (I really need to re-watch this River Phoenix movie that shares its name with a really good Jackson Browne song)
    • Cars (the weakest Pixar films but I totally admit to liking the Gary Numan song)

    Look at Eddie Money’s beautifully feathered hair. Get that wind machine going!

    Put the needle on the record!

    The Last Unicorn (1982) Review

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    The Last Unicorn (1982)

    Directed by Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin, Jr.

    Based on The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

    Starring: Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Tammy Grimes, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees, René Auberjonois

    Running time: 84 minutes

    Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
    A brave unicorn and a magician fight an evil king who is obsessed with attempting to capture the world’s unicorns.

    My Opinion:

    As the parent of a young child but also a movie lover, I’m often on the lookout for kids’ films that I may actually enjoy as well. I’ve sat through enough crappy movies for kids that I think it’s okay to sometimes get to watch one that interests me as well. Right?! ;-) Enter the 1982 film The Last Unicorn which, apparently, is something of a cult classic, has a very high IMDB rating (for its age & the fact it’s animated) of 7.5/10, AND it’s from RANKIN/BASS plus the animators who went on to form STUDIO GHIBLI yet I’d somehow never even heard of it before?!? Holy shit – I was all over this thing when I read about it! It sounded like something that couldn’t be more ME!!! So we got the DVD & for about two months I said to the hubby & kid “Let’s watch The Last Unicorn!!!!” until they finally agreed (probably to shut me up).

    Wow. The Last Unicorn is a strange one. I kind of sort of loved it. I can see that, if I’d watched it as a kid, it may now be as special to me as the Rankin/Bass classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. No, it’s not as good as Rudolph and it certainly doesn’t beat any of the Miyazaki Studio Ghibli films but there’s something kind of special & “magical” about it in the same way I feel there is about the Ghiblis. Hmm… How should I put this? This movie is so “1982” which, to me, is a great thing while to others it’ll be a bad thing. I’d only recommend this one to certain people who like things such as Studio Ghibli, Ralph Bakshi’s work, Heavy Metal (1981), The NeverEnding Story, and… maybe Labyrinth? I’m struggling to describe this but if you hate all the things I’ve listed, you should probably steer clear of The Last Unicorn. Oh – I’d also recommend it to any bronies! Bronies would love it.

    I can’t really get into the plot too much and there are pictures I have to avoid posting that would contain massive spoilers. In the movie, a unicorn (voiced by Mia Farrow) discovers she’s the last unicorn in the world & goes on a journey to find out what happened to the others. She’s joined along the way by a magician called Schmendrick (voiced by Alan Arkin). Talk about an impressive voice cast, we also have Jeff Bridges as a prince, Angela Lansbury (always a favorite of mine) as a witch, and the amazing Christopher Lee who is of course perfect as the evil king who tries to capture all the unicorns in the world.

    This movie has so many things that fantasy lovers will like: magic, wizards, witches, kings & princes, mythical creatures including a harpy and a rather scary, demonic Red Bull, talking butterfiles, etc etc. Oh yeah – and a unicorn! I have to say that, although unicorns have come to be seen as a “girl” thing, this movie is every bit as much for male viewers as for female – it’s not aimed just at one sex. In fact, when I mentioned this on Twitter, the response I got was from adult males saying how great this film is. I can see why it’s a cult classic – it’s very unusual and the animation is stunning. The story takes a very unexpected turn (the spoiler I’m avoiding) which I now love but took getting used to at first. It’s nice to not be able to predict what will happen like you can with most kids’ films!

    As I mentioned, I found the animation stunning. I was happy just looking up images of this film to be included in this post. I think I may have to change my work computer’s wallpaper from My Neighbor Totoro to this!

    Yeah, I’m a mature adult. Give me a break – I literally had a big poster of a unicorn jumping over a rainbow over my bed for years as a young girl. God I was girly for a while! Anyway, as I mentioned, the studio responsible for animating this film (Topcraft) were later hired by Hayao Miyazaki to do my other favorite Studio Ghibli movie (along with Totoro), Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind. The studio’s main members then formed Studio Ghibli. (Thanks for that info, Wikipedia!). Anyone who has been around here for a while will know what a big fan I am of Ghibli & how much I love Nausicaä so you can see why I had to see The Last Unicorn after I read about it.

    My six-year-old’s opinion:

    I’ve started including my daughter’s opinion on kids’ movies so that I don’t appear as some crazy old person rambling on about “cartoons”. So, I’ll include it again this time but I think it’s pretty obvious by now that this one was more for mommy. ;-) 

    We watched this a few months ago & the movie held her attention well but she’s not really mentioned it or asked to see it again. I asked last night what she thought of that Last Unicorn movie we watched & the reply was “It was better than I thought it would be!”. lol – What does that mean?! I think she was humoring me when she agreed to watch it, then. How sweet! I do think she’s a little too young for it as some of the themes at the end are too grown-up to fully be understood. There’s nothing I’d consider “inappropriate” but it’s a bit “out there” if your kid doesn’t like weirdness plus the Red Bull may be too scary for the very young who scare easily. I can see it being one she’d rediscover & possibly love in two or three years so I’d maybe recommend it to kids of 8 or so. She does love the young Studio Ghiblis, though, (Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service & of course My Neighbor Totoro) so she was probably better able to handle any strangeness.

    Summary:

    Hopefully I’ve given a bit of an idea as to what this movie is like – I’m going to include a clip of the opening at the end of this post to give you a better idea. This is one of those movies I’m hoping to “introduce” to people here but it’s definitely not going to be loved by anyone who isn’t into this sort of thing or the other films I mentioned in the review. I also think being over 35 & under 10 would help. This is exactly the type of animated movie that obsessive film lovers my age who have young kids look for. I forgot to mention that this movie includes songs by America that are the very definition of late 70s/early 80s “easy listening”. If you like K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies, you may be able to handle this film. Or if you’re the type to get that reference.

    My Rating: 8/10

    **I’m including a clip of the opening of this film to give you an idea what it’s like. If you can’t make it past the song by America at 2 1/2 minutes in without gagging, this movie may not be for you… ;-)

    Requiem For A Dream (2000) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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    Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Darren of Movie Reviews 101. Thanks for the review, Darren! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Requiem For A Dream, IMDB rank 73 out of 250…

    There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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    Director: Darren Aronofsky
    Writer: Darren Aronofsky, Hubert Selby Jr (Screenplay) Hubert Selby Jr (Book)
    Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald, Louise Lasser

    Plot: The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions become stronger.

    Verdict: Incredible

    Story: We start by seeing the dysfunctional relationship between Harry and his mother Sara by seeing him take her television which seems to be happening on a regular occasion. This happens to help fuel his drug habit, while they keep their relationship together. While the Sara gets a chance to be on her favourite show but is worried about her weight, Harry comes up with an idea to make money by selling more drugs and making a business with his best friend. While both are trying to deal with their addictions their lives take turns for the worse when they releases what is happening.
    When I first watched this I was too young to understand what was really going on and never really appreciated it, but now I have re-watched I have to say this is an incredible story of how four people decent into the world of drug and addiction takes over their lives. I like the fact that there was no happy ending for these people because it shows the harsh reality of the drug user and how far they will go. Each of our four characters ends up going in a direction that is heart breaking for some and each ends up showing the real fear what could happen to them. This ends up being hard to watch but because of that we see the real truth behind the problems. (9/10)

    Actor Review

    Ellen Burstyn: Sara Goldfarb mother to Harry who spends her time watching television and when she gets a chance to be on her favourite show. She ends up taking pills to help her lose weight but in the end she becomes addicted to them causing much more serious issue to her health. Ellen is fantastic in her role and most of her part is just her in her own apartment dealing with the side effects of the drugs.(10/10)

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    Jared Leto: Harry Goldfarb young stoner who dreams of making it big by selling drugs, while keeping his girlfriend happy and keeping his drug habit happy. He is a loyal family man who wants to look after his mother the best he can but when things go wrong in the business he takes a chance that will begin to ruin his life forever. Jared gives a great performance and you can clearly see he was ready for a chance to show even more skills in later projects. (9/10)

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    Jennifer Connelly: Marion Silver against her parents who have given her everything, she wants to make an impact herself but doesn’t know where to start while her drug habit keeps everything in a dream stage. She enters into the world of selling herself to fix her habit and before long she ends up happy just having her fix. Jennifer gives a great performance that was risky too. (9/10)

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    Marlon Wayans: Tyrone C Love Harry’s best friend who helps him come up with the plan to make money. He ends up being the one who gets into trouble and before long he pushes Harry to risk more. Marlon gives a great performance and it is refreshing to see him in a serious role after all the parody roles. (8/10)

    Support Cast: Dealers, friends and doctors all play big parts in helping our characters fix their problems but it is the host of Sara show that ends up helping with her downfall.

    Director Review: Darren Aronofsky – Brilliant direction from Darren showing that he was always going to go on to make bigger projects but would always struggle to beat this. (10/10)

    Drama: Just showing the decent our four characters make during their drug problems is wonderfully put together and you actually start to feel for the characters by the end. (10/10)
    Music: Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell makes a haunting choice for music through the film always indicating something will be happening. (10/10)
    Settings: Solid setting showing the busy lives but most of the film is set in apartments. (8/10)
    Suggestion: Even though I am going to give this a really high rating I still think it won’t be a lot of people’s cup of tea, it does come off hard to watch and very much in your face. (Try It)

    Best Part: Reality of the story.
    Worst Part: It will be hard to watch.
    Lessons Learned: Don’t do drugs, Jared Leto was always going to be a star.

    Believability: The reality that people will get that hooked on the drugs comes off real, but I think how far things go could be seen as too much. (5/10)
    Chances of Tears: No (0/10)
    Chances of Sequel: No
    Post Credits Scene: No

    Oscar Chances: Ellen Burstyn was nominated for best actress.
    Box Office: $7.3 Million
    Budget: $4.5 Million
    Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

    Overall: In your face consequences of drugs

    Rating 93%

    Non-Stop, The Spectacular Now & Used Cars Movie Reviews

    Hope you all had a nice weekend! I have three more mini-reviews for you. This time we have a movie I was expecting to love but didnt, one I expected to like but hated, and one big ‘ol MEH movie. Let’s begin…

    Non-Stop (2014)

    Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

    Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Jason Butler Harner, Anson Mount

    My Opinion:

    This is the big ‘ol pile of MEH. I always fall behind on reviewing movies I watch at home but tend to keep on top of the ones I actually go to see. Well, I went to this one in the cinema (theatER!) last year but couldn’t summon up enough enthusiasm to review it. Liam Neeson is doing his Taken role again. I don’t know how he ended up being so typecast but I’m not too bothered as he was never exactly a favorite of mine anyway. At least that annoying Maggie Grace isn’t in this.

    The plot is… okay, I guess, but it’s not helped by some lame acting and some laughably predictable moments. I mean, this is the basic plot on Wikipedia: Neeson is a U.S. Air Marshal on a flight to London when he “receives text messages on his secure phone stating that someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into a specific bank account.” That actually sounds quite exciting, doesnt it?! It does! That’s why I went to it even though I can live without most popcorn action movies. I remember I was in the mood for a braindead action movie when I went to this, though, so I had some fun with it despite it being pretty damn ridiculous.

    I was reminded when getting that plot synopsis that Neeson plays an alcoholic Air Marshal. Because he’s TROUBLED & has ISSUES to overcome, people! This is why the passengers aren’t sure if they can trust him when he starts acting like a raving lunatic! lol. I kind of forgot just how silly this one was. I didn’t totally hate it or anything. If you want a simple action movie where you won’t have to think & you like Liam Neeson being all Liam Neeson-y, give this a watch in your comfy living room.

    My Rating: 5.5/10

    The Spectacular Now (2013)

    Directed by James Ponsoldt

    Based on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

    Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler

    My Opinion:

    I was desperate to see this movie when I heard about it but then it never came out in the UK and, much to my annoyance, I wasn’t able to see it for ages. All I kept hearing was that it was this generation’s Say Anything. Naturally, being my age, I adore Say Anything so I was like “I must see this Spectacular Now movie!!!”.

    Umm… I guess I can see the Say Anything comparisons. If Lloyd Dobler (the sweetest, most perfect boyfriend in the history of film) had instead been a selfish, alcoholic prick. Yeah… the only thing this movie has in common with Say Anything is a role-reversal of the one-sided love story (Diane Court clearly doesn’t love you, Lloyd. But every female my age does, at least!). ;-)

    I suppose my expectations were too high for this movie after the Say Anything comparisons. I’ve not read the (I’m assuming YA) book this is based on – maybe it does a better job with Miles Teller’s character? I guess calling him a “prick” wasn’t totally fair – his character is just aimless & he has issues that lead to him drinking too much but he’s not exactly outright horrible to Shailene Woodley’s character. Wait, no – he really is kind of a prick. He clearly likes her but she’s crazy about him and he’s too self-absorbed to care about any negative impact his actions may have on her. It felt like he was just using her so it was very hard to like him. I think I just expected to like & care about the characters a bit more. This may be partly down to Teller, who I just can’t make myself like (even after Whiplash).

    Woodley was good – this is the type of role that suits her way more than the one in Divergent. But her character is such a pushover, which was a little disappointing. I liked seeing Brie Larson, who I really liked in 21 Jump Street & Short Term 12, in a small role plus Jennifer Jason Leigh (eXistenZ!). But, if this is the current generation’s definition of a love story, then young people need to lighten up & watch a proper romance film. The Spectacular Now was far too dramatic and, unlike Say Anything, had no fun moments despite the heartache. On its own, not being compared to other movies, it’s certainly not a bad film. Don’t let my disappointment keep you from watching it if you’re interested – I know I just hyped it up in my mind too much. Just remember that it’s very much a “drama” if you decide to watch it and that you may not like Teller’s character.

    My Rating: 6.5/10

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    Used Cars (1980)

    Directed by Robert Zemeckis

    Starring: Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Gerrit Graham, Deborah Harmon

    This was on Netflix so I gave it a watch since I like Kurt Russell, Robert Zemeckis, and, of course, the Eighties. I figured it couldn’t go wrong with those three things and maybe I’d get a few little laughs out of it. I hated it! I know that movies from my beloved decade haven’t all aged well and some can contain jokes that are seen as un-PC today. That sort of thing doesn’t usually bother me as I grew up with it but this movie just went a little too far with the cruel humor and outdated sexism.

    First of all, (this isn’t really a spoiler as it’s obvious this is what’s going to happen) the only character who doesn’t come across as a selfish jerk (Jack Warden) dies and it turns a bit into Weekend At Bernie’s with some of the antics with this poor guy’s dead body (never mind the fact that he was essentially MURDERED for his crappy little car dealership. by his twin brother, no less!). I know death can occasionally be humorous in certain black comedies (Heathers rules) but this one didn’t sit right with me in a silly 80’s comedy. Kurt Russell & Gerrit Graham, who work for this guy and his dealership, do show a little sorrow but their main goal is to save their own jobs at whatever cost. It’s hard to care about them at first as they’re very hard to like but the movie redeems itself a tiny bit when the only female character who isn’t there just to be a pair of tits shows up (more about her later) but they’re cruel & do use her at first (luckily, they instead work with her by the end – the second half of this movie is much better than the first).

    As for the women in Used Cars, they were treated no better than Warden’s dead body. I’m not a girl who’s going to demand that women be in every movie ever (two of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me, don’t even have any women in them) but I expect female characters to be treated with the same respect as the male characters. Deborah Harmon is the only important female character and she’s fine but she’s also seen as quite helpless & needing Kurt Russell to come to the rescue since she can’t run a car dealership on her own (what do women know about cars?! actually, I admit that I know nothing about cars). I’m glad they work with her, though, (after cruelly lying to her about something important and of course sleeping with her) and as I said, the movie redeems itself a little in the second half. 

    Hey – can I just go off topic & mention that I immediately recognized Deborah Harmon from the TV show Just The Ten Of Us? Am I the only one in the world who watched that short-lived Growing Pains spin-off?? I loved it! It had THREE Nightmare On Elm Street girls in it (THE Heather Langenkamp wanting to be a nun, the girl who turns into a bug, and “girl on bus” in Nightmare 2 – Yes, I discovered the “girl on bus” connection years later when the Internet came around). But back to this shitty Used Cars movie…

    I know guys like boobs and there are loads of naked women in movies. I didn’t get that annoyed at the lead male characters in this sleeping around and using strippers to sell their cars. However, I found the very looooong scene where the male stars predictably expose a woman to a TV audience (without her approval) then actually zoom in on her breasts to be a step too far. And it went on for what felt like forever while she did nothing but scream like an idiot. Then, to top it all off, Graham’s character ends it by actually “honking” her boob. Seriously. He may have even made a honking sound effect (I’d check to verify but can’t be bothered). Umm. No. Unless you’re in a relationship with us, never ever “honk” our boobs. Plus Harmon’s character’s boobs get groped by a stranger for no apparent reason toward the end of the film. WTF? Gotta love the 1980s, I guess… I suppose I was more offended than I would have been watching something like Porky’s as you expect that sort of thing from that decade’s sex comedies and I didn’t realize beforehand that Used Cars would be like that.

    Oops – this mini-review ended up being fairly long. I do go on a bit when I’m annoyed! Only watch this if you really love movies from the Eighties and you get excited by seeing people like Wendie Jo Sperber in a very small role. Yay! Wendie Jo Sperber! Luckily she went on to be in the much much much (much) better Zemeckis film Back To The Future. That movie is perfection – what the hell happened with Used Cars?! Ugh.

    My Rating: 4.5/10 (it gets an extra half a point for Wendie Jo)

    What Edward Scissorhands’ Candy-Colored Neighborhood Looks Like Today

    How cool would it be to live in one of the houses used in Edward Scissorhands?! They look much more boring nowadays, though – I loved the bright colors in the film.

    Anyway, a guy named Andrew Creameans grew up in the Tampa, Florida neighborhood where Edward Scissorhands was filmed and he recently went back to the neighborhood & took photos which he then matched up with stills from the film. Cool. I want to live there!

    You can view the article at mental_floss HERE and all of Creameans’ “now & then” photos on imgur HERE.