Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2022

Hello! Things are really shit at the moment. But I’m still watching movies. Because that’s what I do when things are shit!

I’m a bit behind on posting this but here’s what I watched & read in July…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Stalag 17 – This was really good. I’m still working on an IMDb Top 250 Project based on the 250 films on the list when I started back in 2013. This is one of many classics from the 2013 list to have now disappeared to be replaced with more current movies and far too many superheroes. Frustrating! Things like this should still be in the list.

I knew nothing about this beforehand but I’d have watched it sooner if I’d known it was a bit like The Great Escape. It has a blend of humor along with the dramatic situation these POWs are in and I really liked the two characters providing comedic relief although the humor didn’t fully work at times. The Great Escape is still the superior film with a much more even tone but there was a lot to like about this one too. The characters are strong & William Holden is great as a prisoner who looks out only for himself. Oh, and I really liked the traumatised flute-playing prisoner who needs to be played by Sean Gunn if they ever remake this (which I hope they don’t).

Good stuff. Glad I chose to start the Top 250 Project when it had a better selection of films. – 8/10

Hustle – Why do I absolutely hate sports but pretty much always enjoy a feelgood sports movie? The real-life NBA stars were wasted on me as I didn’t know they were real players until the end credits but I still really liked this simple & admittedly predictable story. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve also always liked Sandler & enjoy him in these more serious roles as well as his comedies. He was great as the mentor & his relationship with his recruit, played by Juancho Hernangómez, worked really well. Oh – I also liked Queen Latifah as his wife. Maybe it’s just because I’ve watched so many movies with huge age differences recently (High Noon, Deep Water etc etc) but I’m sick of the wife being a good 20 years younger so hooray for these two being close in age. Felt like a real couple! – 7.5/10

Don’t Make Me Go – I really liked this but I can see some people not liking the turn it takes toward the end. John Cho & Mia Isaac were very good as the father & daughter on a final road trip together. I liked their relationship & cared what would happen to them. That’s three John Cho films I’ve really liked in the past few years (this, Searching, and especially Columbus which I highly recommend). Can’t believe the MILF guy is this great father & father figure in movies now. And he’s kind of a DILF now. – 7.5/10

Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes (ドロステのはてで僕ら) – Glad I checked this out (was on Film4 in the UK). Likeable characters & a fun sci-fi story about seeing two minutes into the future. I have no clue about the scientific accuracy of this film & felt a bit lost just like I did when watching Primer, although this movie is definitely more enjoyable than Primer. It also made me look up the Droste effect. So, hey, I learned something. Movies are educational. Also, not that I don’t like long movies but this movie is only 1 hour & 10 minutes. So check it out! You can squeeze it into your lunch hour. – 7.5/10

But I’m A Cheerleader – Enjoyed this. Not sure why I didn’t see it at the time. Especially liked the use of color & satirical humor. The characters were fun and Natasha Lyonne & Clea DuVall were great together. Would have loved even darker humor but maybe that’s just me as I love stuff like Heathers. But was happy to find this film still had that sort of vibe, which I wasn’t expecting. Good stuff. – 7/10

The Sea Beast – This was fine. Felt too long & had a very slow start but it did get better once the two main characters were alone with the sea beast. And I liked her little “sea pet” (I’m always a sucker for a cute droid or animal sidekick). One of the better straight-to-Netflix animated films with some lovely animation in a few scenes but still not up there with Pixar or Disney on that. Although, story-wise, I enjoyed this more than Luca & Turning Red so am starting to worry about Pixar. – 6.5/10

Incantation – I know that not everyone is a fan of found footage horror but I’d recommend this to those who are as I thought it was a good example of the genre. It’s not the most original idea ever & gives Blair Witch vibes at times but it has a solid story with a slightly unique (but obvious) twist, a cute kid, and some effective creepiness. Was actually glad I watched this in the middle of the day as I think I’d have had the heebie-jeebies watching this one late at night. – 6.5/10

Not OkayNot okay was just okay. I liked the sound of seeing superficial social media twats getting their comeuppance but having to watch a company full of them for a couple of hours was a bit exhausting. This could have been a smart satire with some great dark humor but it didn’t quite work & I’m not sure what point it was trying to make? Mia Isaac was good as a true survivor of tragedy (and the only likeable character). Liked her in that Don’t Make Me Go movie above, which I far preferred to this. Not Okay wasn’t horrible but could have been a lot better. Current stuff like this just make me miss movies like Heathers. – 6/10

Persuasion – First of all, I’m not a Jane Austen fan. I’ve never read anything of hers – how terrible am I?! What can I say? I like sci-fi & horror. So I didn’t have that to “ruin” this story as it was new to me. But I don’t really like Dakota Johnson & don’t understand the obsession with her. I’d say if you’re not precious about the original material being messed with & if you’re one of those who loves Johnson for whatever reason, you’d probably find this a perfectly enjoyable romcom. Johnson looking directly at the camera & saying stupid modern shit in this period drama was mildly irritating but I liked the story well enough to not be too bothered by that. A lot of the modern talk thrown in was a bit vomit-inducing but I feel the same way about the stuff they say in plenty of romcoms. And, man, her sisters were hateful. But Richard E. Grant was fun to watch as always & Henry Golding is adorable. Meh. This film is harmless & somewhat enjoyable but mostly just felt a bit pointless. – 6/10

The Last House On The Left (1972) – I have no clue how to rate or review this. A Nightmare On Elm Street is a big favorite of mine so I’d been meaning to check out Wes Craven’s debut despite hating “rape-exploitation” flicks.

This is pure ‘70’s trash. It’s cruel & the acting is dreadful. It also has weird slapstick comedy bits & smooth easy-listening music playing over scenes of graphic violence, which was bizarre. Well, I’ve seen it now so I guess I can tick it off my watchlist. I’ll give it an extra half a point for (finally) getting onto the revenge I was waiting for & half a point for being so ‘70s it hurts. God I love the look of films from that ugly decade. But I’d never watch this one again. – 5.5/10

See For Me – This wasn’t the greatest. Watched it as I think it was a 2022 U.K. release & I’m just desperate to log some current releases while missing out on going to the cinema.

I liked the simple concept, which is a home invasion while a blind girl is in the house catsitting. Been done before but in this case she has an app she can use, called See For Me, where you’re connected to someone who helps guide you via the camera on your phone. I really liked that idea & the girl who answered the call was good. But this is one of those films where they make the main character too unlikeable. Why do movies do that? Why would I root for someone I don’t like? Not the fault of the person playing the character, though (legally blind in real life from what I read, so did a very good job) – it’s just how this character was written so they could have done a better job with that. At least try to make me care a little bit about the main character!

Oh well. I do still like the idea & did enjoy the use of the app in the movie. The film was enjoyable enough to pass the time, I guess. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched In July:

Top Gun – Rewatched this just in case we got a chance to see Maverick (that’s not happened). I grew up in the ‘80s so I of course loved this film as a kid. Still enjoyed it just as much on a rewatch & still desperate to see what Maverick is up to now & if he’s still as cocky. And I still miss Goose. And I miss ‘80s action movie music. Go Kenny Loggins! Of course I had this soundtrack. Good ‘ol cassette tapes… – 8/10

Casablanca – I saw this as a kid & have been meaning to rewatch it for years as I couldn’t remember anything other than the quotable lines that everyone knows. Still great stuff & Ingrid Bergman was lovely. Loved Dooley Wilson as Sam, too. Not sure what all those gorgeous leading ladies saw in Humphrey Bogart in all his movies, though. – 8/10

Documentaries, Shorts, Etc:

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years – These are my people! Really enjoyed this documentary set during my early high school heavy metal years. Also always wanted to see this as I believe it’s what got Penelope Spheeris the job directing Wayne’s World, which I absolutely adore.

Must admit that I enjoyed this far more than the first The Decline Of Western Civilization, partly because I of course loved the music but I also thought the interviews were much better & it felt like more of a documentary than the first film. Some of the live performances they focused on weren’t the best but the interviews with the masters such as Alice Cooper & my beloved Ozzy Osbourne, calmly making breakfast & dumping orange juice all over the table, more than made up for the cheesier (and sexist) bands in the film. And at least they ended on Megadeth, which is the type of music I still like more than the glam side of things.

Good nostalgic fun. I want Ozzy to make me a heavy metal breakfast. – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Boys: S1 E3-4 – This is really good so far. Glad we decided to check this one out. A much more realistic take than Marvel on what superheroes would actually be like.

Only Murders In The Building: S2 E3-6 – Been a fun show to watch as a family. Still think it has great opening titles & music too.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E18-20 – This show is so bloody boring the past few years… But after 18 years I can’t stop watching it now!

TV Specials:

Paul McCartney at Glastonbury – Good stuff! Thought McCartney was great. Especially loved seeing Dave Grohl join him. And the John Lennon duet. Checked out a few other acts but honestly can’t remember who now.

TV Rewatched:

Stranger Things: S1 E1 – Tried to get my daughter into this show. It didn’t happen. Damn. Was hoping to catch up (I didn’t finish season 3) as season 4 actually sounds like it was pretty good? Had good music, at least!

BOOKS READ

Elsewhere by Dean Koontz – Love Dean Koontz even though his stories are all so similar. Some are better than others & this is one of those that I think I’ll have no memory of years from now. Likeable father & daughter, as to be expected of all Koontz main characters, but maybe I’m just kind of bored with multiverse stories after recent Marvel films, especially the Doctor Strange one that I thought was pretty rubbish. – 2.5/5

I’ll end this with a song from Don’t Make Me Go. Gotta love Iggy Pop! Here’s The Passenger:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2022

Happy July! Where has this year gone? And will it ever actually be summer in the U.K.? And will I ever stop complaining about shitty U.K. weather after 20 years of living in England? I know by now that we’re lucky to get summer weather for maybe two weeks each year. But when the hell are those two weeks gonna be?!

Here’s what I watched & read in sunless June… (once again all logged & reviewed on my Letterboxd as well)

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

A Star Is Born (1954) – I’d only seen the 2018 film, which was good, but this one was great. Not sure why I hadn’t explored more of Judy Garland’s work until recently as I’ve been such a big fan of The Wizard Of Oz my whole life. She was such a brilliant all-around entertainer and I enjoyed seeing much more of her acting here in between some fun musical numbers. Garland & James Mason worked well together & it’s a shame she didn’t win the Oscar for this performance. Would be interested in seeing the other two versions of this story now too but I know this one will remain my favorite. Very glad I finally checked this out & it’s easily one of the best films I’ve watched this year. – 8.5/10

Another Round – Very good film with excellent performances, especially from Mads Mikkelsen. Not quite as good as Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt but I thought it did a great job capturing how many of us feel as we get older. I could relate to Mikkelsen’s character & dissatisfaction. Want to say I “enjoyed” this but also found it very depressing as I think I could relate to it a little too much. But that’s the sign of a great film & performance. – 7.5/10

Beast – This was good. I know Jessie Buckley is popular now but I’ve only seen her in a few roles. She’s fantastic in this so I can understand the hype now. She really makes this whole film worth watching & it’s an interesting character study. Johnny Flynn is also good as the mysterious & potentially dangerous man she falls in love with. He’s a bit weak in comparison to Buckley but together they’re great & have very good chemistry. Glad I checked this one out. – 7.5/10

St. Vincent – These predictable feelgood dramedies sometimes work, sometimes don’t. If the characters are good I’ll like the film & this one worked for me. Bill Murray is playing his usual grumpy smart ass. I can’t say I always like him being that way but it worked really well with all the other characters in this, especially young Jaeden Martell as the boy next door who he reluctantly agrees to look after (for enough pay) while his struggling single mother (Melissa McCarthy) is at work. Also really liked McCarthy’s character & Naomi Watts as Murray’s sex partner (for enough pay). The movie takes a somewhat unexpected dramatic turn halfway through but it does make you care for Murray’s character. It also does something you’ll see coming from a mile away toward the end but, screw it – it was predictable & feelgood but I liked it. It manages to still not get too sentimental or soppy, which gets on my nerves. I enjoyed the film & liked the characters. Nothing wrong with that. – 7.5/10

Dual – An odd film but the story is very much my thing & I really liked this idea. People having to fight their clones to the death? That’s cool! But it was hard to care about Gillan’s character(s) with her complete lack of emotion. I guess it was part of the bleak dystopian tone the film was going for, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. It kept this dystopian sci-fi lover happy enough, though, and I appreciated this story & know I’ll rank it highly for 2022 although I do wish the film was a bit better. – 7/10

The Tale – A difficult film for me to rate as I rate films on my personal enjoyment first & foremost but with some consideration for “worthiness” as well. This is certainly a worthy film & an important story to tell but it’s also extremely uncomfortable to watch & one of those films I know I’ll never watch again. Laura Dern is very good as is Isabelle Nélisse, looking the way a 13-year-old actually looks & making the film even more disturbing. It was interesting how the film was told in flashbacks & I think it was very effective to start with a different young actress, making it even more shocking when Dern’s character realises her first memories aren’t quite accurate. Worthy film & performances but obviously very upsetting content. – 7/10

Hard Target – I’ve avoided JCVD films my whole life & now I’ve watched four in the past year. JCVD rules! These movies are awesomely bad. Love ‘em. Nothing beats Bloodsport, though, and I’d probably rank Hard Target last of the four I’ve seen. Bloodsport is the best by far, then Timecop, then probably Lionheart just above Hard Target as Lionheart has more, well, heart. I’m a girl – I was a sucker for sexy sensitive JCVD helping his dead brother’s cute kid in Lionheart.

Holy shit – I completely forgot that he bit the rattle off a rattlesnake in this. What a stud!

I hadn’t read the Hard Target plot synopsis beforehand so was delighted when I realised it was just The Most Dangerous Game but with mullets. The movie starts out slow but certainly goes all out on the action & explosions at the end. Gotta love slow-motion running-away-from-explosion scenes! It was ridiculous, over-the-top John Woo fun & I liked Lance Henriksen’s cheesy bad guy. But I prefer the fight scenes in other films with JCVD using only his muscles as weapons. I’d rather watch him kicking baddies in the face & doing the splits. But there’s still some face-kicking in this & I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the mullet & not enough splits action. – 6.5/10

Oh yeah – I guess he did do the splits at least once in Hard Target…

The Trip – This was good fun. Decided to watch it when I realised it’s from the director of Dead Snow & stars Aksel Hennie from Headhunters as I enjoyed both those movies. Hennie & Noomi Rapace worked well together as a married couple both planning to murder each other while on a trip to a cabin. But things go very wrong when some escaped convicts show up & that’s when shit gets crazy (and surprisingly violent!). If you liked Dead Snow, you’ll probably like this. It’s not as outrageous as that one (Dead Snow is more my type of thing) but this still has some funny moments. I also liked that it was kind of a f**ked up romance. Give me this over unrealistic rom-coms. – 6.5/10

The Suicide Squad – Not sure how I feel about this film. Certainly far prefer it to the dull & dreary DC stuff. I like James Gunn, just as much for things like Slither as Guardians Of The Galaxy, so I wanted to see what he’d do with yet another set of misfit characters I had very little knowledge of before the film. This one doesn’t work nearly as well as Guardians Of The Galaxy & I didn’t find myself caring about any of the characters in the same way. Of course, they’re bad people so I guess we aren’t meant to like them.

I did enjoy some of the (many) characters, though, and they are luckily the ones focused on the most. The most likeable being Ratcatcher 2, who I thought would be one of the most boring characters but was possibly my favorite by the end. I thought Idris Elba & John Cena were pretty great as Bloodsport & Peacemaker. Also liked the Colonel Rick Flag character and did laugh a few times at King Shark & Polka-Dot Man. Harley Quinn was probably the most disappointing but maybe they just don’t know how to deal with her character? Seems loved in the comics, which I know nothing about, but I’ve not really liked any of the movie versions I’ve seen of Quinn (but I do think Margot Robbie does a good job with what she’s given).

I did also enjoy just how absurd some of these characters & especially the story in the big finale were but the weirdness will definitely not be for everyone. I can see why this is a “love it or hate it” film. Considering I don’t exactly hate Gunn’s Troma work, I could appreciate the crazy humor in this. It’s pretty nuts. This film really isn’t far removed from some Troma movies & it’s cool that Gunn must have been allowed to do whatever he wanted with this. I do wish I liked it a little more & I don’t know if it’s actually a very “good” film. But at least I wasn’t bored, which I can’t say of all the DC or even all the MCU films. – 6.5/10

In The Heights – Found this underwhelming. Did really like the stories involving Usnavi, Vanessa, Claudia & Sonny but the movie felt very long & had far too many other characters with less interesting storylines. I can’t remember any of the songs but I find that’s the case with most modern musicals. Remember when musicals were full of gorgeous visuals & amazing music? I just feel like I’ll barely remember this one in a few years. 

Oh wait! I remember the exact amount of money so I guess I kind of remember that one song. That was the best number & felt closest to what we would get in some of the all-time classic musicals. So I did like that as well as Abuela Claudia’s song. And the characters were likeable, which is important to me. So I don’t mean to sound quite so negative but did still find this underwhelming as a musical. – 7/10

Freaky – This was fun. Not the most original idea & I think Landon’s Happy Death Day films worked a bit better using an existing idea for a horror comedy. But the two leads seemed to be having fun & there were some inventive & surprisingly bloody kills. – 6.5/10

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – Not sure how I feel about this film either. Although I watch all the MCU movies I’m not a huge fan & always welcome the ones that feel a little different. Was excited about the “MCU horror” everyone said this was so was disappointed to find out how mild it was. I still felt like I was watching the same MCU formula again but with an even weaker story than usual. Being a big Romero “Dead” fan I of course enjoyed Zombie Strange and did like some of the weirder bits but there wasn’t enough weirdness to keep me from getting bored. And why would I care about the fate of new and/or slightly different characters when it’s a different universe anyway? There’s no threat there. As always, we know our main heroes will be safe back in this universe. The addition of America Chavez was fine & the stuff with Bruce Campbell was really fun but I didn’t care about anyone else & what they did with Scarlet Witch was annoying after they had us all liking WandaVision so much. 

I don’t know. I first ranked this somewhat in the middle on my MCU rankings but I’ve now moved it way down to 26th place out of 28. It may change as I move these movies around a lot as further films come out & characters become more developed. Disappointing, though, as I quite liked the first Doctor Strange film. The more I thought about this one later, the more I thought it was a complete mess. – 6/10

Emergency – This was a bit all over the place & really dragged in the middle. The older sister, though understandably upset, was far too annoying & the bad decisions made by the main characters were increasingly frustrating. But the two main guys were very likeable & it was a good friendship movie. Got very intense & stressful at the end (which was the entire point of the film). Labelling this as a comedy is very misleading, though. – 6/10

Spiderhead – Wow. This was terrible. Disappointing as I really liked Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion & Tron: Legacy and liked the sound of the story in this. I see it’s based on a short story & I often find that just doesn’t work when stretched out into a full-length film. I mainly watched this for Chris Hemsworth & the fact it’s a 2022 release but thought Hemsworth didn’t suit this role at all & came across as far too silly (he’s still pretty as hell, though). Miles Teller & Jurnee Smollett were okay but I didn’t feel anything for any of the characters in this. 

The tone was also very odd, especially at the end where it seemed to be attempting a comedic montage to Hall & Oates. The songs used in this felt very out of place. But at least they were good songs, I guess. I’ll be nice & give this movie an extra half a point for using The Logical Song by Supertramp as it’s one of my all-time favorites… – 5.5/10

Possum – This was a better film than Spiderhead but I can’t bring myself to rank this creepy ass film above a pretty Chris Hemsworth movie. Yikes. This was unsettling. One of those movies where you feel unclean after watching it. I put on a lightweight comedy immediately after to cleanse my mind. I give it credit for having the creepiest puppet EVER. Nightmare inducing! Sean Harris did well playing a traumatised man. I’ll never watch this film again but at least it’s memorable. Mostly thanks to that horrifying puppet. I’d post an image of the puppet but I don’t want that damn thing on my blog. – 6/10

Movies Rewatched In June:

The Craft – Still enjoyed this on a rewatch all these years later, although it hasn’t aged as well as I was expecting. Starts out great but gets a bit too silly at the end. I’d like to change my hair color with magic, though. I hate going to a hairdresser. – 7/10

Local Hero – Such a lovely, quirky little film. I can see why some people love it & would find it charming. And such gorgeous filming locations – it makes me want to go live near a beach in Scotland. Especially like Burt Lancaster, the guy insulting him, young Peter Capaldi, the accents, sexy Wedge, the mermaid, the red phone box & the beautiful sky. Not a movie for everyone & I think some would find it boring as it’s a very slow film but there’s something very calming about it. – 7/10

Documentaries, Shorts, Etc:

The Decline Of Western Civilization – Been wanting to see this for years & enjoyed a glimpse of a music genre that I haven’t explored quite as much as others. Expected more of a “documentary” than this is but the live performances captured the punk lifestyle. Next onto my era & the one I’ve most been wanting to see: Part II – The Metal Years… – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked)

Obi-Wan Kenobi: S1 E3-6 – Enjoyed this but didn’t absolutely love it the way I did The Mandalorian. At least it was much better than The Book Of Boba Fett. I think Ewan McGregor is great & was by far the best thing about this show. And I enjoyed all the characters from the original trilogy as well as those from the prequel trilogy although the prequels mean less to me. But I’ve always liked Ewan as Obi-Wan so at least they chose the right prequel character for a show.

There were good & bad bits to this show, though. For the most part, I thought any completely new characters were rubbish. Except that Game Of Thrones chick – her character was fine. Oh! And Leia’s droid of course. I’ll always welcome a new droid!

I know I’m old & stuck in the past but I just care much more about existing characters I’ve known for years. They can of course add new ones but there are too many that just don’t work. Don’t know why. But they managed to make me absolutely fall in love with new character Grogu in The Mandalorian (of course!) & I ended up really liking lots of the other new characters in that too. Why did The Mandalorian get so many things right that other Star Wars stuff, including the sequel trilogy, didn’t? I don’t know. So I guess my Obi-Wan Kenobi review is this: anything having to do with original & prequel trilogy stuff was fine, most of the other stuff was rubbish (with a few exceptions). Meh. Whatever. But Ewan rules.

Pistol: S1 – Liked this. Have always been fascinated by the Sex Pistols & that lifestyle. No clue how accurate this show was but, hey, that’s what documentaries are for. To be honest, I became just as interested in the story of Christine Hynde while watching this. Have always thought she doesn’t get enough credit. The Pretenders have so many good songs.

The Boys: S1 E1-2: Finally checking this show out. Intrigued! Really good so far. Definitely going to keep watching…

Only Murders In The Building: S2 E1-2 – The first series was fun so we’re happy to have a new series to watch. A good family show for us. Still like that theme tune & the opening credits. And the three of them are so good together.

Community: S6 – We’ve finished. We have no more Community to watch. I’m heartbroken! Gotta say, though, that the last two seasons were definitely disappointing but I’d heard they went downhill. Don’t most shows? Still love the other seasons and we’ve actually started rewatching these episodes again from the start. Never rewatched a show right after finishing it before…

The Time Traveler’s Wife: S1 – I really liked this book & thought the film adaptation was pretty good so wasn’t too bothered about this TV series but I needed something to watch one day. I wasn’t really a fan. It’s been so long since I read the book now but it felt like they added a bunch of extra stuff that wasn’t in the book? I could be wrong. But I didn’t like the friends or the sister & them all knowing his secret. Were they in the book?! And I didn’t think the two leads were very good or convincing as a couple and they were kind of unlikeable. And, shit, it finished but not as it ended in the book. Is there a freaking second season coming or something?! I can’t be bothered with that. This is why I watch movies. They stretch shit out soooo much for TV & it’s unnecessary. They did a decent job with the movie adaptation of this but the show couldn’t even do the whole story in almost six fucking hours??? Ugh. I recommend the book instead – it’s much better & I thought it was a great, unique story. Or just watch the 2009 film.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: S1 E1-2 – Interested so far but can see just not having time to continue watching this anytime soon. Especially as now I really want to watch The Boys! But I do want to get back to this at some point.

The Staircase: S1 E1 – I’m not a true crime fan at all but thought I’d check this out as I’m always more interested in a dramatisation than an actual documentary (dumb, I know – I’m sure the docuseries or whatever of this is much better). I already know I won’t watch any more. The show didn’t grab me. I got bored & just looked up the case. The owl theory sounds kind of fascinating, though. But, seriously, I don’t fit in I guess as it’s such a big thing but I just don’t like true crime. I don’t want to know about these horrible real things that happened to real people. I’d rather watch a fictional murder mystery knowing it’s not real. I can’t “enjoy” true crime.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E14-17 – This show never really changes. It’s just so boring the past few years. Wish something would actually happen.

BOOKS READ

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – This was good & very well written but not really my type of thing. I enjoyed the story, though. A good mystery & fascinating characters. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family: fascinating, manipulative Isabelle; brutal, dangerous Charlie; and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But the house hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart… Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past, and its mysterious connection to the enigmatic writer Vida Winter. Vida’s history is mesmering – a tale of ghosts, governesses, and gothic strangeness. But as Margaret succumbs to the power of her storytelling, two parallel stories begin to unfold…

I think I had it in my mind that it might be a bit creepy and maybe supernatural with talk of ghosts & strange twins. All of that is right up my alley but it wasn’t anything like that. Still, I liked the story & the characters were strong. I think it would make for a good movie – I’d like to see an adaptation of this book. – 3.5/5

Now Reading Elsewhere by Dean Koontz

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Nothing! As usual. Two people read this blog. 🙂 I’ll keep doing these monthly roundup posts, though. I do miss the early days of the blog when there were loads of other bloggers around. Hey, we’ve weeded out the weak. Those of us who are left are hardcore!

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Fucking EVERYTHING. Feel so out of the loop not being able to go to the cinema to see the best new stuff. People only want to read reviews of brand new movies. Partly why my blog is so dead now, I guess. That and my posts suck. Ha!

Easy choice on which song to end my post with this month. Here’s the awesome The Logical Song by Supertramp from that shitty Spiderhead movie:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2022

Oops. Watched too many movies in May. Several were GREAT, loads were GOOD, a few were MEH, and a couple were AWFUL. Managed to review them all on my Letterboxd, too, so here are those reviews…

MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY (ranked best to worst):

Lucky – I clearly love the art of cinema and it’s because of films like Lucky. This was just fantastic. Harry Dean Stanton rightly deserved the praise he got for this role. He’s brilliant as Lucky. You can really feel the emotion in this film, as he comes to terms with his own mortality as well as that of his character. And the emotional impact of that final shot is up there with the image on the swings in Ikiru. Utterly devastating yet uplifting at the same time. Only the very best films and/or performances manage that extremely tricky combination without coming across as contrived. Harry Dean Stanton does it perfectly.

I found this film very moving so did a slightly longer blog post about it here. – 8.5/10

Days Of Heaven – Thought this film looked gorgeous, as to be expected. That farm was beautiful – I wish I could live there (but with modern conveniences, right?!). And I’m always happy about an Ennio Morricone score so enjoyed that as well plus liked the story & thought the performance from the young Linda Manz was very good. Her character was the highlight of the film for me. 

This is only the second Terrence Malick film I’ve seen after watching Badlands many years ago. I liked this much more than I was expecting. Maybe I should finally give The Tree Of Life a try… – 8/10

Safety Last! – This was delightful. Having explored (and absolutely loved) Charlie Chaplin’s work, I’ve now watched two Buster Keaton films then this as my first Harold Lloyd film. Think this is my second favorite after the Chaplin stuff. While Keaton had extremely impressive stunts, I loved the humor in Lloyd’s work here. Found myself smiling in a way very few modern comedies manage to make me do. A scene with a (probably) simple trick of hiding behind two coats was fantastic. And it goes without saying that the ending involving climbing the building & famously hanging from the clock is truly brilliant. One of my favorite films I’ve watched so far this year. – 8/10

Land – Thought this Robin Wright directorial debut was really good but I guess it was overshadowed by Nomadland (I preferred this). Wright is great as a woman who chooses live alone in the wilderness after a tragic event. She is befriended by a man, played by Demián Bichir, and I really liked their relationship & the connection they had. I felt for these characters & found the film quite moving. Glad I checked it out. – 7.5/10

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! – This was even trashier than I was expecting and, wow, I also enjoyed it way more than I was expecting. Am I allowed to like this?? I don’t know the rules anymore. I have very little experience with exploitation flicks so don’t know if this was a good place to start or not? But I thoroughly enjoyed the dreadful acting, silly story, and how completely badass these women were. I can see why this movie has achieved cult status but suppose, as a female viewer, I liked slightly different things about this film than its original target audience? 

And now I can’t get White Zombie out of my head… “I never try anything, I just do it. Wanna try me?” – 7/10

The Phantom Carriage – Been meaning to watch this one for a while. Really enjoyed the story, even though it’s essentially the same story as a Christmas favorite of mine, and I loved the thought of someone having to take over driving Death’s carriage each year. Was hoping for more of a “horror” & the guy was far too hateful but I loved all the bits involving the carriage. Didn’t love this movie quite as much as the other silent films I’ve explored the past couple of months but it was definitely worth watching. – 7.5/10

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – This was good fun. The kids were likeable, especially Mckenna Grace’s character & the boy who befriends her & calls himself Podcast. It remains respectful to the original & seeing those characters again was all warm & fuzzy & nostalgic. But it does rely a bit too much on fan service & far too much on reusing the same story, which was a shame. So as a stand-alone film probably hoping to gain new fans instead of just us Gen Xers, I’m not sure it quite achieved that. But being Gen X, I did thoroughly enjoy the big fan service mid-credits scene. – 7/10

Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers – Never would’ve even thought to watch this until I saw everyone raving over it. It’s a fun film & I really liked the clever story & references. It’s not up there with all-time (fully animated) Disney classics & for me doesn’t have the rewatchability of those. But I enjoyed it & still can’t believe a Chip ‘n Dale movie is one of the better 2022 releases I’ve seen. And better than recent Pixar films, too… – 7/10

Whistle And I’ll Come To You – Enjoyed this BBC short horror (currently on U.K. Amazon Prime). The great John Hurt plays a man who becomes haunted after leaving his wife in a care home. Some nice creepy moments in this. A good one to watch alone late at night. – 7/10

Born Free – Oh, looks like I didn’t review this on Letterboxd other than saying “Baby lions!”. Well, yeah… Baby lions! They’re cute! Who doesn’t love cute baby animals?? Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis if you don’t know this film (I’d not heard of it before moving to the U.K.): “Born Free is a 1966 British drama film starring the real-life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Joy and George Adamson, another real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya.

Enjoyed, well, the baby lions! Can’t believe this couple raised a lion, which became fully domesticated (making it very difficult when they try to release her back into the wild). Seriously – they lived with it & treated it like a house cat. I kept expecting them to get their faces ripped off. (Spoiler – there’s no face ripping). It’s a very “nice” film with a very easy-listening cheesy mid-60s theme song & I assume many British families saw it on weekend afternoons on TV over the years. The nice vibe was ruined when I Googled the real Joy and George Adamson, though. Damn! It didn’t end well for either of them. What a shame. They certainly led very interesting lives. – 6.5/10

The Last Letter From Your Lover – Is this movie predictable? Of course. Who cares? I love an illicit love affair now & then. (In movies, of course). And multiple love stories & time periods, too! Yes, please. An enjoyable guilty please, despite really not being a Shailene Woodley fan. – 6.5/10

Senior Year – This was no worse than any other silly comedy movie but people seem to have a thing against Rebel Wilson (I don’t). I liked this just fine for a one-time watch. Had a few good laughs at inappropriate jokes & always like seeing these “back to high school” movies. And, yeah, comparing current teens with teens 20+ years ago does work really well in comedy now since the difference in behavior & values is so extreme. It’s part of what works so well in Cobra Kai & why I love that show. The story in this is of course predictable & feel-good but does anyone really want a film like this to be anything else? – 6.5/10

Metal Lords – First of all, I loved this movie’s soundtrack. But I would as I’ve been listening to these songs for over 30 years. It mainly has Black Sabbath (still my favorite), Metallica, Pantera & Judas Priest. Also loved the mentions of Anthrax as they were another high school favorite of mine along with all the rest. And those fantastic cameos made this old late-‘80s big-haired teen very happy. So I enjoyed the movie but the nostalgia obviously helped a lot.

The film could have been better, though, and I wish the one boy (Hunter) wasn’t so hateful. The metalheads in my day were the nice ones? Angry usually, yes, but not jerks to their friends like Hunter is in this. And the movie was a slightly more serious coming-of-age story than I was expecting. Which I guess worked okay but I was expecting more of a comedy. That will be me loving This Is Spinal Tap & Wayne’s World, I suppose. And School Of Rock. The comedy in those just works so brilliantly with the love of rock & metal. But, hey, I always like a good coming-of-age movie too and liked the other boy (Kevin) and his story involving the girl (Emily). Especially when they were appreciating the genius of Sabbath’s War Pigs. But everyone could have used a lot more character development and this could have been a better film if they’d gone even more serious with it & really explored Hunter’s & Emily’s issues. Flagging it just as a comedy is misleading as it’s more comedy/drama. 

So I enjoyed this but don’t know if those who aren’t metal fans would or not. Probably not so much but it’s a decent enough teen movie overall so they might still like the story. And plenty of newer metal bands do get mentioned too. Seen some complaining about the lack of newer music. Hunter is just really old school! Nothing wrong with loving the classics. – 6.5/10

Reminiscence – This wasn’t great but certainly not the worst I’ve seen this year. I thought the idea was really good & liked the story but it’s unfortunate it got too convoluted & messy in the middle. Think it was relying too much on its pretty stars to distract us. Oh well – enjoyed this much more than the recent Deep Water, which only gave us pretty people to look at & nothing else. – 6/10

Kung Fu Hustle – Well, this was wacky. I wanted to absolutely love this as it very much seemed like my type of thing. Maybe it was just a bit too goofy. But it was still a fun watch & I especially liked the Landlady. – 6/10

Dear Evan Hansen – This isn’t really my type of thing & I probably wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t for the huge backlash. The backlash was far too extreme for a movie I thought was… Okay? Yeah, he looks 30 but has no one seen Grease?? A musical involving teen suicide is a little weird but I was interested in seeing how the story would end & how he’d get out of his lie (which started small & was less sinister than everyone made it seem when this came out). I can’t say he’s the most likeable character ever but I can think of loads of movie characters & current famous people who are far more hateful. I think the story is attempting an anti-bullying message, making the backlash ironic. 

The music is typical of most modern musicals: The lyrics tell the story without giving us any memorable melodies. But the songs weren’t terrible. The overall movie wasn’t terrible, either, although I felt nothing for these “teens”. The adults such as Amy Adams & Julianne Moore were far better than the younger cast. I just think, with such a heavy topic, this came across quite shallow. Which is a shame. I think the movie probably had good intentions but it just didn’t quite work. 

For a far better current movie capturing how difficult it is to be a teenager right now, I’d highly recommend Spontaneous (which I reviewed here) over this one. Great characters & smart dark humor, which works much better with heavy teen topics (in my opinion).

So I didn’t love this film but also certainly didn’t hate it. I liked it enough for a one-time watch but know I’ll never watch it again. – 6/10

Eternals – Watched about half of this a couple months ago but lost interest & didn’t finish. Finally forced myself to finish it. Was bored out of my mind. Other MCU films did such a fantastic job slowly introducing us to new characters so that, even for people like me with zero knowledge beyond the films, we cared about them & their stories. I didn’t care what would happen to this large group of characters I’ve never seen before and the story was far too complex for their introductory movie. I don’t want to have to read Wikipedia afterwards to try to understand what the hell was going on in a Marvel film. No thanks. I’ll admit, though, that the film did get much better in the second half. I upped my rating by half a point as I did like the very end of this and the end credits scenes (except for the dumb troll). But I still didn’t care about any of it. – 5.5/10

Halloween Kills – I’m more of an Elm Street girl as I found that a much more enjoyable slasher franchise than Halloween but do like the first film thanks mostly to Jamie Lee Curtis & especially John Carpenter’s amazing score. 

This was meh. There are certainly better Halloween sequels but also a few worse ones. None of them have come even remotely close to being as iconic as the first film anyway. Curtis was given very little to do in this one compared to the last film, which has gone up in my estimation now after this disappointing sequel. I do like Judy Greer as her daughter & liked seeing characters from the first film appear in this (although I’d have loved seeing Paul Rudd instead of Farmer Ted – I don’t care if it’s a different timeline or whatever!). It all gets too silly, as usual, with Michael Myers unable to ever be killed and nothing surprising or original happens. But I know people just want the same old thing over & over with these films so I guess that’s what they got. Again. 

Oh, and although I grew up in the ‘80s on plenty of slashers I’ve never been big on lots of visible gore. I looked away through a lot of this one. It all sounded extra squishy. No thanks. I’ll just stick with the much less squishy 1978 film. – 5.5/10

Come Play – Yeah, this wasn’t great. Watched it as Gillian Jacobs is hilarious as Britta in Community (prefer her in comedy roles). The idea behind this film was fine but the execution wasn’t great & it comes across as a very poor Babadook rip-off. Was apparently a short film first and, just like Lights Out, I assume the short was much better. Not sure why they think they need to turn good short stories into unnecessarily long films. Oh well –  it passed the time. I didn’t hate it. And I’ve given it an extra half a point as I actually kind of liked the ending (though I’m sure plenty didn’t). – 5.5/10

Candyman (2021) – Admittedly I’m not a fan of the first Candyman (what I can remember of it all these years later, that is – I probably should’ve rewatched it). So maybe it’s unfair of me to review this one but I thought the story, which started out okay, was a muddled mess by the end. Plus the whole thing was surprisingly boring for a horror film.

I very rarely like reboots/remakes/sequels of horror films from the ‘80s & ‘90s, though, as I grew up with those and usually don’t want them messed with now. But I gave this a shot since I wasn’t big on the 1992 film anyway. Too bad it felt like yet another pointless horror “update”. – 5/10

Brain Dead – I’m a sucker for watching movies just because I remember seeing the cover in video stores. This was one of them. How cool does that cover (above) look?! Looks like a fun, cheesy horror. Maybe even with Cronenberg vibes. It’s not. It’s just bad. So, so bad. Wow. What an incoherent mess. Bill Pullman & Paxton deserved much better! – 3/10

Movies Rewatched In May:

Mean Girls – No matter how old I get I’ll always like teen flicks. This is one of the better “recent” ones (to me – I know it’s not recent, I’m just old). I like its slightly dark humor & Rachel McAdams is great. But it’s still not up there with Gen X teen movies such as Heathers, although it wants to be. I appreciate its effort. – 7/10

Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion – Still a lot of fun. Nothing I like more than movies showing outcasts going back to their ‘80s high school reunions! I can relate. Janeane Garofalo’s character is still my favorite & Lisa Kudrow is always funny. – 7/10

Role Models – Watched this again for the first time in years. Still found it really funny. Don’t think I’ve ever disliked Paul Rudd in anything & he’s as fun to watch in this as he is in everything. He deserves more credit for his comedy. Love the nerdy kid & the boob-obsessed kid & the Kiss obsession & the blatantly obvious explanation of the song Love Gun. – 7/10

Documentaries, Shorts, Etc Watched In May:

Our Father – Think this could have been a better documentary & it felt exploitative at times. The subject matter obviously makes for uncomfortable viewing but it’s a fascinating & shocking story. Was impressed by the courage of the siblings in seeking justice. This is a truly evil & disgusting man. And unfortunately it’s not at all surprising, especially in the current climate, that there were no laws to protect women in this unusual situation & that this vile man got nothing but a slap on the wrist. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN MAY

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Obi-Wan Kenobi: S1 E1-2 – Can’t say a lot about this yet other than, well, it’s not really grabbing me like I was hoping it would after being super excited it was finally starting. It’s certainly better than the (non-Grogu) episodes of Book Of Boba Fett so far, which ended up very disappointing overall. Except for those Grogu episodes! I think I just need Grogu to be in every Star Wars thing they make now?? Because I love that little dude. Seriously. But I do really like Ewan McGregor too & am still really liking seeing him as Obi-Wan again as he’s easily one of the best things about the prequels. I’m just not feeling the rest of the cast, including the young kid I was very excited to get to see at that age. We’ll see… Need to give it time to build.

Young Rock: S1 E7-9 What can I say other than that this is a surprisingly fun & feelgood family TV show. Great to stick on when needing something short & lightweight.

The Five: S1 E1 – After thoroughly enjoying the Harlan Coben mystery series Stay Close & then Safe, we’re giving another one of his shows a try. So far, so good…

Moon Knight: S1 E6 – I’ve said enough in previous posts. This show just didn’t do it for me. At all.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E10-13 – I’m obviously going to watch this thing until it finally ends. 18 freaking years! And not really my type of thing but it’s too late to give up now! Ha!

TV Specials Watched:

Ricky Gervais: SuperNature – Honestly not sure why but I very rarely watch any stand-up comedy. Couldn’t even tell you any comedians I like other than George Carlin & Bill Bailey as they’re pretty much the only ones I’ve watched. Oh, and I guess the ’80s Eddie Murphy stuff like Raw. I’m so old. But then everyone freaked out about this one on Twitter as per usual & I went “Fuck it! Let’s see what the fuss is about.”

This was fine. I laughed several times, which is probably not allowed I assume. I like Ricky Gervais for the most part. Not watched any of the TV stuff he’s been in, not even The Office. But do love him ripping annoying celebs to shreds at The Golden Globes. Fantastic stuff! Put those rich fuckers in their places! Even though he’s a rich fucker too. Still prefer the likes of George Carlin & Bill Bailey but hope comedians can continue to be allowed to cover any topics they choose. I get very uncomfortable at the thought of censorship. That’s a slippery slope.

BOOKS READ

Holy hell – Did I really read three books in one month?! I’m much quicker when I’m not reading A Game Of Thrones, I guess.

Malorie by Josh Malerman – This is the sequel to Bird Box, which I did like (review here). I mean I liked the book but not the movie – that was pretty rubbish. For some reason, I liked this sequel much more than the first book. While I love the concept & its very A Quiet Place feel (which I also loved) I found the character of Malorie a bit too unlikeable in the first book. But it’s understandable why she comes across so cold having to live life in a world where a glimpse of these “creatures” will drive you insane. I think we got to know her better in this book & why she’s so tough on her kids as she’s just desperate to protect them. I liked their relationship & enjoyed this story and also liked the ending.

Also, I think I felt more connected to the story this time. I read the first book before the pandemic & this one after it and it felt kind of similar to Covid lockdowns in a way. Obviously there weren’t creatures causing us to go on murderous rampages but I could really feel the isolation these kids felt at having been locked away from the rest of the world for so long in order to stay safe. It would be good to see a sequel film but it’s a shame the first film really didn’t do the book justice. – 3.5/5

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben – Finally read my first Harlan Coben book after really enjoying two TV shows of his. Liked this book, which is just as full of the twists & turns that I liked in his shows. I have to say, though, that like in Bird Box the main character in this was a little hard to like. But she’s tough & strong so that was cool. Not sure if I liked how it ended & as far as the Coben stories go I probably liked the story in the Stay Close show the most. But this would be second & would make for a good movie with the right cast (I think I read at one point that Julia Roberts would star in a movie adaptation but she’d be very wrong for the role). Here’s the Goodreads synopsis: “Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.” – 3.5/5

The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor – Started reading my first C.J. Tudor books last month & liked them a lot (The Chalk Man & The Burning Girls). Enjoyed this too but not nearly as much as the other two. Those mysteries were even more twisty & turny than the Harlan Coben stuff & that was great. This one, however, was just too similar to a Stephen King story which I won’t name as it’ll give too much away. The characters & overall story weren’t as strong as in those other two books & I didn’t find myself flying through this one as I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on since it seemed obvious unlike the other two books with plots that kept me guessing throughout them. Oh well. It was still a fun read & I definitely have a new author I like. This won’t be the last C.J. Tudor novel I’ll be putting on reserve at the library. – 3/5

Now Reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I might as well get rid of this section. I have no plans. And I’m missing so many movies right now in the cinema. 😦 They’re still too germy & full of people but, dammit, I’m really not doing my duty as a movie blogger. I should be seeing & reviewing new releases for my two readers!

To end with the best music in a movie that I watched in May, here’s Black Sabbath’s War Pigs from Metal Lords:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2022

Happy May! I feel bad as I’ve been neglecting the blogs again. I also recently joined Letterboxd (finally) & I’m finding it far too easy to just quickly log & write very short reviews of films there instead of taking the time to put a full post together for each movie I watch. (Here’s my Letterboxd link for the three people who still read this blog).

But I’ve been doing this blog for almost ten years so I need to at least keep up these monthly posts. And I’ll still post reviews here when I’m in the mood or really love a film. I reviewed half of those below on Letterboxd already so I’ll cheat & copy those here.

Here’s all I watched & read in April…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Finch – Post-apocalyptic? A dog?? A robot sidekick??? Did they make this movie specifically for ME?!?! Three things I love! Especially robots. Yes, my favorite Pixar movie is WALL-E & my favorite Star Wars character is R2-D2 (well, Grogu is up there too now! And Yoda). So, this movie was very much my sort of thing and I really enjoyed it.

Speaking of WALL-E, a lot of this film reminded me of that. Mainly the “radiation storms” (or whatever they were) and the fact that Earth is now a wasteland with very few surviving humans (they didn’t get to jump on a fancy spaceship & just get really fat in this one). Plus, of course, there’s a robot. Well, two robots actually! The one Tom Hanks builds in the film plus a little robot he’s been using which he named after Dewey in Silent Running.

The story is pretty simple but it’s more about the relationship between Tom’s character (Finch) & the robot he builds to help take care of his beloved dog. A robot learning what it means to be human?!?!? Yep – this movie is SO my type of thing. Does Finch bring anything new to this genre? Not really. But it’s got heart & a nice relationship between Hanks & the robot. Really enjoyed this film. – 7.5/10

Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans – A lovely film directed by F. W. Murnau that won the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Picture, one of the two top prizes, at the 1st Academy Awards (Wings was later declared the official Best Picture winner). I enjoyed its style & love story & Janet Gaynor’s performance, which won the first Best Actress Academy Award. I’ve logged it as part of my Best Picture Project to watch all the Best Picture winners. 27 left to go! – 7.5/10

Sherlock Jr. – Decided to explore more Buster Keaton after recently (finally) watching & thoroughly enjoying The General. This one is possibly even more delightful. A really fun story & once again full of crazy, impressive stunts. Especially loved the scenes within the movie theatre where he works. Great stuff. – 7.5/10

Fatman – While I would’ve enjoyed this slightly more if I’d had the opportunity to see it during Christmas, I still had good fun watching it. Although “fun” may not be the right word. 

I hadn’t read much about this so was expecting more of a comedy instead of the action thriller that it is. I’m sure this film’s tone didn’t work for a lot of people (judging by the movie’s unfairly low rating) but I really liked it. I’m old & tired & have lost faith in humanity just like Gibson’s Chris Kringle. I could totally relate to this version of Santa. 

Gibson & Marianne Jean-Baptiste also give us performances that are probably way too good for a movie about someone putting a hit out on Santa Claus. I appreciated that they took their roles seriously & I thought they worked really well together. It’s an odd film but very unlike the many other Christmas movies that are out there so it was great seeing something a bit different. I’d happily watch this one again at Christmastime. – 7/10

Gosford Park – Didn’t realize this was a Robert Altman film until I stuck it on & it soon became obvious with such a huge ensemble cast of every British actor ever. As bad as Harry Potter for that! I really enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces, especially saucy Helen Mirren (not saucy here), Charles Dance Lannister, Richard E. Grant & Derek In The Night Garden Jacobi. I especially liked Kelly Macdonald as I suppose the lead character (and one of the servants so she was likeable) & as always now sounding like Merida the whole time with her great Scottish accent. Oh, and Ryan Phillippe was in this putting on what I assume was a very bad Scottish accent if you were to ask a Scottish person but I have no idea because I suck with accents. Maggie Smith’s rich old bitch character was fun too. Oh! And Emily Watson’s character was also good. God there were loads of people in this…

Anyway. There’s a murder mystery in this which was fun but this movie was more about getting to know the characters. I’m thinking it was at least an hour into the movie when the murder happens? I was like “Get on with the murder already!”. And I’m REALLY bad with keeping track of loads of characters (Game Of Thrones is a huge struggle for me) so I was constantly looking at Wikipedia while watching this to remind myself who each of these characters were & how they were related to each other. I loved how there were two sets of people, though – the rich assholes & all their staff – so it was great seeing the two worlds & getting two sets of intertwining stories. The staff also referred to each other by the name of the rich asshole that each person “serves” (or whatever) which made it a bit easier to know who worked for who (or is it “whom”? Fuck knows. These rich old English characters would know!). I also liked not knowing who (whom?!) was gonna get murdered, although I guessed correctly. But don’t expect some fast paced murder thriller if you watch this. It’s mostly English people talking posh & being snooty the whole time. Still good fun, though, and good acting (as to be expected from some of the best of the best). – 7.5/10

The Adam Project – I don’t have a lot to say about this except that it’s a safe & enjoyable family film. Which sounds insulting but it’s great that some decent family films still get made. We used to get so many back in the ’80s & I miss them. It’s a story involving time travel, which I always love. Ryan Reynolds is a pilot who goes back in time & meets up with his younger self (in that above photo). It’s a somewhat forgettable story overall but had some sweet moments with Jennifer Garner as his mother & Mark Ruffalo as his father, which reminded me how much I like 13 Going On 30. – 6.5/10

The Proposal – Aww – Betty White! Like, I think the rest of the world, I absolutely adored her. She was sweet & so damn funny. So I figured I should finally watch this as I never saw it for some reason. As to be expected from a Sandra Bullock rom-com it’s of course predictable as hell but it was still worth the watch. And I loved that Betty got loads of screen time as she was more often a TV star. She’s great in this. I really enjoyed seeing my favorite person from St. Olaf again. – 6.5/10

Spider-Man: No Way Home – Wow, this was very underwhelming. Admittedly, I’m not some huge MCU fan. I do enjoy the movies & I’ve watched them all but watching most of them just once is enough for me. This one was just so dull & the story was weak. Plus Peter Parker was an idiot. Why did Doctor Strange go along with his stupid idea?! I realise it was just an excuse to bring the three Spider-Mans (er, Spider-Men??) together and fan service can be fun but this was overkill. It felt so focused on bringing everyone together that it forgot to make a good story & forgot to do anything with the characters other than the three Spider-Men and too many old villains I don’t really give a shit about. I take that back – I did like the stuff with Aunt May. She’s been a great character in these films. But, man, THIS is the movie everyone absolutely freaked out about??? I think people were just so happy to go back to the cinema after Covid that it clouded their judgement.

Oh well, I guess I can update my MCU rankings (which I did on Letterboxd HERE but haven’t yet done on my blog). This is currently number 21 for me. – 6/10

Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions – First of all, I have to say that this was bizarre in that I was thoroughly confused after seeing someone in the cast list after watching this who I did NOT remember seeing in the movie. So I read the full Wikipedia synopsis and, holy shit, it’s an entirely different ending (and beginning too, I believe). We’re not talking a minor difference, either, as I know there are movies with alternate endings like The Butterfly Effect (prefer the original cinema release of that). This was a whole different ending that completely changes what’s happening through the whole damn movie and has different actresses & characters being used. Like, WTF? So if they make another sequel, which ending are they going to carry on from? And why is this annoying me so much when it’s just a throwaway horror movie so it doesn’t really matter?! Ha! Plus, quite frankly, I like the sound of the other (presumably original cinema release) ending much more. So I hope they go with that one, although I think some will find the ending that I saw with a brand new character more entertaining. I thought the new character sucked. I like the other character!

I liked the first of these movies more than I expected to. No, these aren’t great but I do like “lightweight” horror like this for a bit of fun plus I’m a bit of a wuss. If you liked the first, you’ll like this one since it’s just more of the same damn thing. The escape rooms don’t feel as inventive, though, and too many of them are just too damn big. Doesn’t feel like an escape “room” when it’s the size of a damn town. Then the ending gets pretty dumb, at least in the version I saw, but who cares? Right? It was entertaining enough for an hour and a half. The first was of course much better. I’d watch a third one. – 6/10

The Sky Is Everywhere – I watched this on Apple TV+ as I read the YA novel ages ago, although it wasn’t a favorite & I found the girl a bit annoying. Seemed to be a faithful adaptation from what I remember. The girl from No Exit plays the dead sister (not a spoiler as this is about a girl grieving the loss of her older, talented sister). The two sisters were fine and the rival love interests were fine and, meh, whatever. The movie was fine. It was fine! #Fine – 6/10

Mandibles – Bizarre film, which is something I always appreciate. Still prefer Quentin Dupieux’s film Rubber but this one was good fun too. And the giant fly was kind of cute. Oh, it’s about two idiots who find a giant fly & decide to keep it & train it to go fetch things for them. Yep, that’s what it’s about. And a girl who shouts everything she says. That was kind of annoying. – 6/10

Kimi – An okay Steven Soderbergh film but will be a forgettable one for me. Mainly just made me realise that I need to rewatch Blow Out and that Rear Window is a masterpiece. – 5.5/10

Shadow In The Cloud – I honestly don’t know how to rate this one. It was kind of terrible but I think I also kind of liked it. I think. Kind of. It may be because I have such a strong love of The Twilight Zone & Amazing Stories which this so blatantly wants to be. I kept expecting Moretz to draw some cartoon wheels while yelling about someone being on the wing of the plane. – 5.5/10

Antlers – This was very disappointing after I thought it looked pretty good plus I like Keri Russell. And… I don’t know what to say about this? Not sure why I didn’t like it? I didn’t really like the underdeveloped characters, I guess. And I normally like “creature” movies but… Meh. I dunno. I just wasn’t feeling this one. – 5.5/10

Deep Water – What a couple of assholes. Guess they deserved each other. The daughter was adorable, though. Poor kid. This film didn’t help my Molluscophobia. Or Affleckophobia. – 5.5/10

Nobody – Wasn’t feeling this one either. At all. I should say I don’t really know Bob Odenkirk as I’ve not watched Breaking Bad or whatever got him some fans but he’s just not leading man material in this. To me, at least. The movie is like John Wick without all the stuff that makes John Wick enjoyable (mostly my beloved Keanu Reeves & puppies). I was bored. But I’ll give it an extra half a point for Christopher Lloyd as he’s always likeable. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched In April:

Rain Man – First time watching this again in a long time. Still a great film. Hoffman was deserving of his Oscar but Cruise was also even better than I remembered. Love their relationship by the end. One of the more enjoyable Best Picture winners. – 8/10

While You Were Sleeping – One of the better Sandra Bullock rom-coms. Watched this with my daughter on a girly night & she really liked it. I told her there are loads more movies like this that we can watch together. 🙂 – 7.5/10

Jackass: The Movie – Why do I still laugh at these idiots? These movies of course lose that initial element of shock & surprise (and revulsion) on a rewatch, but I still enjoyed seeing this again way more than I like to admit. Off-Road Tattoo is still a favorite. – 6.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts, Miscellaneous:

Adrienne – Admittedly, I didn’t know of Adrienne Shelly until after her murder. I then saw the film Waitress & absolutely loved it so I’ve tried to see what I can of the films that she starred in. What a loss – would love to have seen what other films she could have made.

This documentary, made by her husband, included loads of home video footage of Adrienne. So it was good to get to know her that way as she was obviously such an indie actress & there will be people who don’t know of her & aren’t aware of her work. In fact, the documentary starts with people waiting in line to watch the Waitress musical based on her movie being asked who Shelly is & they all have no clue. Very sad – Did they not watch the movie (which she starred in as well & wrote & directed) too??? This documentary is also obviously not an easy watch as it does discuss Shelly’s murder as well as her murderer. So that was uncomfortable but I think it’s worth a watch if you’re curious about her & her work. And I highly recommend Waitress. – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Community: S4 & S5 – I already absolutely raved about this show in my previous two monthly roundups so I don’t need to again. I may be very late to the party but am so glad I decided to watch this one day. I’d heard the last two seasons (5 & 6) aren’t so good. Damn! So far, that seems accurate. I’ll avoid saying who but I’ll just say a needed character (or more) leave and this show worked so well the first four seasons as this group of misfits are perfect together. You really need them all as a group & the show sadly goes downhill pretty quickly without all of them. DAMN! Oh well. There are still fun moments. I still have season 6 & then I can rewatch the brilliant first 4 seasons again.

Ted Lasso: S2 – Finally grabbed one month of Apple TV+, mainly to see this as I really liked season 1. Still think it’s great with fantastic characters. I also like the rather dark turn they’re taking with Ted this season. Getting a bit serious now! But it somehow still works with the lighthearted humor. Only weak episode was the one focusing on Coach Beard, which is a shame as he’s probably a top 5 character in this for me. Also a little heartbroken at how they’ve decided to change Nathan’s character. But will be interesting to see where they go with that storyline.

Calls: S1 – I enjoyed this as it was so different but it will definitely not be for everyone. This is also on Apple TV+ & the show is a series of calls that we listen to with images such as the one above as well as the words displayed on the screen. Was happy to be able to read along as it made the stories easier to follow. Each episode is a story on its own with different characters, which was cool, but the stories do also end up connected by the end. Some episodes were much stronger than others but I really liked the overall story which was a bit eerie with a touch of horror & sci-fi. But that’s all very much my type of thing…

Servant: S1 E1-? – I’m too lazy to look up where I finished but think I must have seen most of season 1 before my one month of Apple TV+ was up. I like M. Night Shyamalan so was interested in seeing this despite being put off by there now being 3 seasons. That’s too much of a commitment! Can’t they make more “limited series” shows, dammit?!? One season & done. Boom! Like the Harlan Coben shows. So, yeah, Servant seems to be doing what I hate but totally expected & draaaaaaaaaagginggggggggg the story out. Just get to the fucking point, TV shows! This is why I stick to movies. Anyway – I now want to know WTF is going on so will probably binge this when I can afford to subscribe for another month (maybe when Ted Lasso starts again). I’ll say I thought episode 1 was great. Nothing I love more than creepy babies & creepy dolls! Was then growing bored after several episodes of nothing happening after that, though.

Young Rock: S1 E3-6 – This show is super enjoyable considering I know nothing about and am not a fan of pro wrestling. But I do like The Rock and think his character is great & love the relationship he has with his family. It’s a really sweet & wholesome family show! And, being the age I am, I do remember some of these wrestlers. I especially like the episodes with Andre The Giant. Good fun! Perfect for when short on time. Can squeeze a couple in during a lunch break! Not one I feel the urge to binge but it’s good to know it’s there as a quick pick-me-up when the hubby & I have half an hour & feel like watching something.

Moon Knight: S1 E2-5 – I dunno. I just CANNOT get into this show. At all. Sorry? Man… Disappointing after thinking WandaVision was great & really enjoying Loki & Hawkeye despite not being some big Marvel fan. But I did think The Falcon & The Winter Soldier was a snoozefest. I guess I like that, uh, Moon Knight at least feels like something different from the same old formulaic MCU stuff? So… There’s that, I guess! There. I was complimentary.

Old Enough: S1 E1 – ? (Too lazy to look again, seen 4 or 5 episodes) – Fun Japanese reality TV show on Netflix where they get adorable toddlers & little kids to run some basic “adult errands” such as going to the supermarket to buy food while cameras follow them around to see what they’ll do. It’s lightweight and SHORT, which I really appreciate. Think some episodes are no more than 15 minutes. Woohoo! I have time for that! Okay, it’s a bit dumb but it’s also really cute. Most kids are fantastic while others are totally shit at doing what they’re asked. Funny.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E9 – This has started up again! Yay. I guess.

TV Specials:

It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown – Should’ve watched more of the Peanuts stuff while I had Apple TV+! Am a massive Peanuts/Snoopy fan. This was sweet & it focused on Sally obsessed with a flower in the middle of Charlie Brown’s baseball game. Watching the rest of these when I subscribe again.

TV Specials Rewatched:

It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown – Obviously had to watch this again. Watch all the Peanuts holiday specials each year. Is anything better than Snoopy?? 🙂

BOOKS READ

I read two books in April!! Much quicker reads than the first Game Of Thrones book taking me months to finish. Tried out a new author after reading Emma’s book reviews HERE & thinking they sounded good. Thanks, Emma! Really enjoyed these & already have a third C.J. Tudor book from the library to read next. 🙂

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor – Can’t decide which book I liked more but read this first so guess I’ll review it first. First of all I have to say that I could really relate to the mother (my sort of age) and the daughter (a few years older than mine) & their relationship in this. Especially as they love & quote cool movies like Heathers & The Lost Boys. But then, of course, there’s also some great, nasty history involving the small town they move to & two young girls who were tortured & burned alive for not renouncing their faith in Ye Olde English Times. Gotta love English history! Why didn’t they teach us that sort of stuff in American History class?? I might have paid attention. And there’s also a big mystery involving two teen girls who disappeared from this town in (I think) the ’90s. Plus the previous town vicar who died under mysterious circumstances. Woohoo! Oh, and of course the main character’s tragic past that the story slowly pieces together for us.

What I really liked about both these books were all the twists & turns and multiple mysteries to be solved. Reminded me of the Harlan Coben TV shows I watched recently (who C.J. Tudor must also be a fan of as a character in The Chalk Man was reading a Coben book – I really must check out one of his novels too). Not sure why I’ve not read more murder mystery thrillers because I actually love this stuff. I’m just such a sucker for supernatural horror, which is why I stick with Stephen King. But Tudor was compared to King after The Chalk Man & he recommended it to his followers on Twitter (making her go all fangirly. I would too!). I can certainly see the King comparison, especially with The Chalk Man, but she’s more “twisted crime thriller” than “supernatural horror”.

I went off on a tangent there. I really enjoyed this book and its characters. And I only guessed one of the many mysteries quite early on (but one of the biggest ones, so I was proud of myself). Everything else kept me guessing, though. A very fun read. – 4/5

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor – I’m guessing this is the more popular Tudor book of these two? I could be wrong but I can see it being slightly more widely appealing. I’d say it’s maybe a fraction better of the two but I far preferred the ending of The Burning Girls & that overall story a bit more. What I liked about The Chalk Man & what probably caused part of the King comparison is the slight Stand By Me & It vibe when the story flashes back to the past and the small group of friends, who are now adults, back when they were 12/13. It also has multiple mysteries like The Burning Girls & I really liked everything to do with the “Wurlitzer Girl” part of the story & just wish we could’ve found out more about her.

Great stuff. I liked this one a lot too & haven’t read books this quickly in ages. I just wanted all the answers ASAP. The Taking of Annie Thorne is next on my To Read list. – 4/5

Currently reading Malorie by Josh Malerman

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love – Figured it was worth mentioning this new album as I so rarely have “new music” to post about. However, I’ve only listened to it once while working so have to give it another listen soon. I do love the Chili Peppers so I’ll just say, from what I heard, this album indeed sounded exactly like the Chili Peppers. But I’m not someone to complain about bands always sounding the same because, screw it – if you have fans why change your sound??

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No specific plans. Will continue to log movies on Letterboxd & do a monthly roundup post here.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Still not going to the cinema even though people seem to have forgotten that Covid exists but, boy, I want to see Everything Everywhere All At Once SO BAD. Will watch Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness at some point too but I’m in no big rush for that. Also like the sound of The Innocents, The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (Ew, Pedro Pascal is in that?) & been waiting for Top Gun: Maverick for bloody ages now.

I like to end with a good song from a movie but I’ll use something from Ted Lasso this time. That show gets the rights to use some great music! Here’s one featured heavily in one episode: She’s A Rainbow by The Rolling Stones:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2022

I watched way too many movies in March. Most were Oscar nominees I wanted to watch before the Oscars. Not that anyone is talking about any of the winners now… It’s a shame that CODA isn’t getting as much attention as it would have if not for someone’s stupid antics.

Well, I somehow managed to already do full reviews of most of those below so I’ll include the links to those & briefly discuss the ones I haven’t talked about at all yet.

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst):

CODA – Reviewed this just before the Oscars. Really enjoyed it & am happy it won Best Picture. A great feelgood film with likeable characters & a good sense of humor. Also glad Troy Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor & Sian Heder won Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s nice to see a Best Picture that’s actually watchable. Really thought The Power Of The Dog was going to win, which I found a struggle to get through. Watching a movie shouldn’t feel like a damn chore. Far too many Best Picture nominees are like that in recent years so I loved actually really enjoying one for a change. – 8/10

A Quiet Place Part II – Reviewed this in full already at the link. Was a big fan of the first film & thought it was a very effective monster horror with a fantastic original idea. I’m happy to say that the sequel was also really good. Like these films a lot & can’t wait for Part III. – 7.5/10

Columbus – Loved this movie! Also already reviewed in full at the link. I should really have ranked it above A Quiet Place II & I think it’s one of the best films I’ve watched this year but I just really enjoyed A Quiet Place II. Here’s the quick Wikipedia synopsis: “The film follows the son of a renowned architecture scholar (John Cho) who gets stranded in Columbus, Indiana and strikes up a friendship with a young architecture enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) who works at the local library“.

Richardson & Cho are very good together and Richardson especially shines as a bright young woman going nowhere in life while stuck in the town of Columbus. It’s a beautiful looking film with great characters & seems like the kind of thing the Oscars would go for so I don’t know why it had no recognition that year & why I’d heard nothing about it. Well, I said a lot more about it in my full review. It’s one I’d recommend but only to certain people as it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. – 8/10

The General (1926) – Finally got around to watching this Buster Keaton film for my IMDb Top 250 Project. I have very little experience when it comes to old silent films so would feel weird saying too much with so little knowledge. I’ll just say that one of my biggest “discoveries” when starting the Top 250 Project was Charlie Chaplin. I absolutely fell in love with the three films of his that I’ve watched so far & think he was brilliant so was eager to see how Keaton compared.

I enjoyed The General & the dangerous stunts they pulled off for this film in 1926 were bloody amazing. How did he not get killed?! Very impressive. Far more impressive than all of today’s CGI bullshit! Keaton was good & I also found him oddly attractive. Like, when you like the weird, lanky, quirky guy? I always like the weird ones but I think I mainly just have a thing for any guy wearing eyeliner (like in the below photo).

However, this film didn’t connect with me the way the Chaplin films immediately did. It didn’t have the heart that those do plus I prefer Chaplin’s great physical comedy and facial expressions. City Lights especially is one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen & gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling that only the very best cinematic masterpieces can achieve. But The General’s technical achievements (is that the right word for 1926?!) are admittedly extremely impressive for the time so I have to recognize that although the Chaplin films are more my type of thing.

I’d certainly give another Buster Keaton film a try, though. But I first want to check out Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! as that’s also one I’ve not yet seen. Anyone have any other silent classics to recommend? (Yes, I’ve seen & love Metropolis & The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari). – 8/10

West Side Story (2021) – Reviewed this already. I’ll just say it’s a gorgeous film, Ariana DeBose & Rita Moreno are great, Ansel Elgort & Rachel Zegler sadly have zero chemistry, and I can’t say we necessarily needed a new adaptation when we already had a very good adaptation in 1961. But I still enjoyed seeing Spielberg’s vision of this & it’s good if it has brought this musical to the attention of a new generation. – 8/10

Fresh – Liked this quirky dark-comedy horror. And am finally starting to like Sebastian Stan after this and Pam & Tommy. He just seems to be having a lot of fun in these roles. I like him unhinged! Daisy Edgar-Jones was also perfect for this role & the two of them worked really well together. Good fun but a slightly weird film, which I guess is a satire of the horrors women face on the dating scene, that won’t be for everyone. – 7.5/10

MassMass is a good film but obviously a very heavy topic. It’s about two sets of parents who meet to discuss a tragic school shooting six years after the event. One I’d recommend but you obviously need to be in the right frame of mind to watch it. Although Mass is fiction it’s a very real and sadly far too common occurrence & one I find very upsetting. – 7.5/10

Malignant – Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. I think it’s grown on me (haha). A bit better & more original than some of James Wan’s work. I appreciated the Giallo influence but it could have used much more of that. I also liked how bonkers it got at the end, raising my score. It could have used much more of that too. – 7/10

Lionheart(also released internationally under several names including A.W.O.L: Absent Without Leave, Wrong Bet, and Leon) – Wow, those other names SUCK! What’s wrong with Lionheart?! By far the best name! Anyway. I’m an old lady so of course obsessed with ’80s & early ’90s movies but for some reason completely avoided watching any Jean-Claude Van Damme films because, well, they looked dumb. Plus he had a mullet in a lot of them. But then I watched Bloodsport last year and kind of Bloodyloved it so now I watch his movies when I notice one on a service (Lionheart is on a free one – either Plex or Pluto, can’t remember). Bloodsport is still the best by far, then Timecop, then this one. This was still good fun, though. Van Damme is in a war or something but then some gangsters set his brother on fire back in America so he goes AWOL & comes back to help his brother’s poor widow & cute kid and he somehow ends up fighting people for big money to help them pay the bills. Or some shit. I dunno. Does the plot really matter?! Oh, and he’s also on the run as he’s AWOL!

I decided at some point after watching Bloodsport that Van Damme was kind of a hottie so that may be why I keep watching his movies now. Okay, okay – it’s that amazing BUTT. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go around doing the splits all over the place in this one. What?! Why?!?! What a waste of that amazingly sexy talent. At least he had no mullet in this one. What else can I say? This film is pure 1990 cheese. But it’s fun cheese. And, hell, it has more likeable characters than a lot of movies. I liked it! Okay? I like Van Damme movies now! (But you still won’t catch me starting to watch Steven Seagal films). – 6.5/10

Old – I do like Shyamalan’s films although they’re admittedly cheesy. But I always like a good story idea & think he comes up with some fun ones plus I’m always a sucker for a twist. I enjoyed Old although, as with most of his stuff, it could have been better. – 6.5/10

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It – This was fine. As far as The Conjuring Universe films go, this is one of the slightly better ones. At least it’s better than most of the Annabelle movies. I also like it when the Warrens are in the film plus I like a good “devil movie”. Overall, though, the film is a bit forgettable. – 6/10

Turning Red – Damn. Another very disappointing Pixar film. Remember when Pixar could do no wrong?? The story was okay and the red panda was cute. The girl was fairly likeable too but, ugh, her mother was too over-the-top & annoying. Maybe I’ll give it another chance someday but I’m longing for the Pixar masterpieces we used to get from them. – 6/10

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye – I had zero interest in watching this one but stuck it on before the Oscars since Jessica Chastain was nominated. Am glad I checked it out. I knew pretty much nothing about Tammy Faye Bakker & her husband. It’s an interesting story of a lifestyle that’s very bizarre to me. Bakker comes across quite well in the movie as a woman who cared about everyone from all walks of life, thereby demonstrating some true “Christian” values much more so than the sexist & racist men in power at the time. I think it was a worthy Oscar win for Chastain. – 6.5/10

The Forever Purge – Meh. The Purge films are a guilty pleasure of mine. I LOVE the concept. But they have yet to make a truly good film from that idea, which is disappointing as there’s so much they could explore. These last two films have been the worst of the series but they were still okay. I’ve been a bit generous with my score & should probably drop it half a point but I’ll leave it as is for now. – 6.5/10

Nightmare Alley – My god, I can’t believe how utterly boring this Guillermo del Toro film was. It’s not a bad film and it looks great & I liked the setting of the carnival (although that’s only at the start – I wanted that to be the whole film). Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara are very good but Bradley Cooper is dull and the film drags on for far too long. Disappointing. – 6.5/10

No Exit – Watched this as it’s a 2022 movie release on Disney Plus. Here’s the short Wikipedia synopsis: “It stars Havana Rose Liu as a recovering drug addict who discovers a kidnapping in progress while stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard.” At the rest stop, there are four other adults who become the suspects when the main character discovers the girl in the van & doesn’t know whose van it is. So there was a bit of suspense there at first, which was fine. This is one of those movies where all the characters aren’t very likeable, though. Meh. The movie was okay, I guess. It passed the time. – 6/10

The Stand-In – First of all, I have to say that I love Drew Barrymore. She’s my same sort of age so I grew up with her. She seems so likeable & down-to-Earth (but who knows with celebs, right?! most seem like assholes). So I’ll always watch a movie with Drew. Damn – this one isn’t great, though. I still enjoyed it as it’s Drew but it’s possibly the worst of all her films that I’ve seen. I’d say it’s through no fault of her own, though. She’s fine in this dual role. She plays an actress as well as her lookalike stand-in who later becomes a part of the actress’s (is that right with the letter S together three times?!) life when that actress wants to hide away from society after her bad behavior ruins her career. The actress character was fine but the stand-in was annoying. Disappointing but, again, I’ll watch anything with Drew so didn’t feel like it was time wasted. – 5.5/10

Spencer – Holy hell I hated this godawful movie. But I had a rant about it in my full review so I don’t need to moan again here. I’ll just say thank god Stewart didn’t win Best Actress. Everything about this film was dreadful. – 4.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

I binged a lot of the Oscar nominated shorts (and one full-length documentary) before the Oscars. I lucked out on seeing all of the ones that ended up winning. Not that they matter since the stupid Academy decided they weren’t important enough to award live during the ceremony. Twats! What a disaster that whole thing was. Well, here’s all I watched…

Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)Winner of Best Documentary – I really enjoyed this Questlove documentary about this absolutely amazing 1969 music festival that I knew nothing about. The music was fantastic & it was great seeing so much live footage from the concert. Check out some of the performers that we see (from Wikipedia): Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, The Staple Singers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mavis Staples, Blinky Williams, Sly and the Family Stone and The Chambers Brothers. What a line-up! A deserving win for Questlove. Too bad it was completely overshadowed by Will Smith being a total dickhead immediately before this award. In fact, the feed in the U.K. cut out for a while after that plus the shorter replay of the Oscars didn’t show this win (why?!) so I had to find this acceptance speech online to even see it. Ridiculous. Smith really ruined that night for everyone & took all the focus away from people who worked so hard. Ass. Anyway, we’ve all heard enough about that goddamn story! Am glad this won the Oscar & I highly recommend it to music lovers.

The Queen of BasketballWinner of Best Short Documentary – Here’s the IMDb synopsis for this one: “Queen of Basketball is an electrifying portrait of Lucy Harris, who scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history and was the first and only woman officially drafted into the N.B.A.” A fascinating story & Lucy came across as such a lovely person. Was sad to see she just passed away in January when I looked this up just now. Think I saw this on YouTube or Vimeo (as well as most of these shorts) if you want to check it out.

The Long GoodbyeWinner of Live Action Short – Not a fan of this Riz Ahmed film. Watch it on YouTube if you want to see yet more hate.

The Windshield WiperWinner of Animated Short – This animated short had lovely animation. However, the story was nothing that intriguing & dragged on for too long (for a short!). Can’t say I’ll remember anything about it in a year. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Inside a cafe while smoking a whole pack of cigarettes, a man poses an ambitious question: “What is Love?”. A collection of vignettes and situations will lead the man to the desired conclusion.

Audible – A good short documentary on Netflix following the students of The Maryland School for the Deaf. Thought it might win the Oscar.

Lead Me Home – Another short doc on Netflix, this one following the lives of several homeless people in West Coast America.

Please Hold – I liked this live-action short the most. Very Black Mirror inspired story about a not-too-distant prison system. Here’s the YouTube link if you want to check it out.

Boxballet – A Russian animated short film about a ballerina & a boxer who grow close despite being so different. Not too bad.

Robin Robin – This stop-motion short produced by Aardman Animations is also on Netflix but, not gonna lie, I played on my phone through the whole thing so it clearly didn’t grab my attention. I’ll try to watch it again sometime.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Community: S2 & S3 – I f*%king LOVE this show! How on Earth did I miss out on this when it was on?! I mean, I was very busy with a baby when it started in 2009 but I’m still very late to this one. So glad I just stuck it on at random one day with the family. We’re all addicted.

Last month I ranked my favorite characters (so far). My ranking probably hasn’t changed. I now currently have three favorite episodes as well. My favorite was Remedial Chaos Theory, which the above image is from. Don’t you love when you finally find out what a popular meme is from?! I’d seen that above meme sooo many times. Thanks to that episode my daughter & I now go around saying “Me so hungie! Me so hungie!” & doing the Britta dance. Because I’m a mature adult. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a very close & brilliant second. Then Digital Estate Planning, in which I was like “That’s me!” when Pierce’s video game character was stuck behind the potted plant not knowing how to use the controller. And Troy jumping around constantly was SO my daughter.

The hubby & I were saying that’s part of why we’re so taken with this show. I think everyone who watches it would probably see parts of themselves in at least one of these misfit characters. I’m mostly a combination of Abed, Britta & Shirley with a dash of Troy (especially as Troy thought all dogs were boys & all cats were girls like I did as a kid. Ha!). I think these characters are just fantastic & work so well together. I’m already heartbroken knowing we’re right now also almost finished with Season 4, which was short, and only have two more (also short) seasons to go. What am I going to do when finished?!? Daughter said she wants to just rewatch it all again from the start. Not loved a sitcom like this for years. 🙂

Safe: – We quite enjoyed Harlan Coben’s murder mystery limited series Stay Close on Netflix so decided to check this one of his out as well. Also really enjoyed this one but preferred Stay Close. And now my daughter seems obsessed with murder mystery thrillers so am sure we’ll be watching plenty more shows like this! And I’d happily check out Coben’s books now based on these two shows. I like how many twists & turns his stories take. Any recommendations of similar shows or his best books?

Pam & Tommy: S1 E7-8 – I said plenty about this last month so I’ll just say again that I thought Sebastian Stan & especially Lily James were really good in this. Not sure the point of the show or if it needed to be made but it was interesting to see this, mainly from Pamela’s side, as she was treated horribly over the whole thing. Lightweight entertainment but, yeah, it was entertaining.

Moon Knight: S1 E1 – Only one episode so far so I don’t have much to say about it other than it didn’t grab me for whatever reason. And Oscar Isaac’s accent sounded weird as hell to me. But I’ll still continue. Maybe it’ll get better. Can’t be worse than The Falcon & The Winter Soldier!

Severance: S1 E1 – Loved the sound of this & still think it’s a great story idea but the first episode really dragged. Will give one more episode a chance to see if it picks up a bit…

Inventing Anna: S1 E1 – Found the first episode boring plus the girl’s accent or whatever the hell that was annoyed the hell out of me. But I liked seeing My Girl girl all grown up! Does the show get better?? Not sure if I’m bothered…

Punky Brewster (2021): S1 E1 – Hey, I’m an ’80s kid so I loved Punky Brewster. Very weird seeing her grown up in a new show. A bit cheesy & SO American but I’ll totally continue with it at some point.

Fleabag: S1 E1 & half of E2 – I fell asleep during episode 2. I think this one just isn’t for me. The character was funny a few times but also too much of the sort of asshole I can’t stand or relate to in any way whatsoever. No thanks.

BOOKS READ

A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – I FINISHED IT!!!!! Crap, do I have to review it now?! I don’t have the energy! This literally took me months to finish. Not that it’s bad or something – I’m just kind of a slow reader plus it’s long. I enjoyed it, though. I really like that it’s a book where each chapter focuses on a specific character. Was always happy to get to a chapter focusing on one of my favorites (Number 1 favorite is still easily Tyrion, followed by Daenerys & Arya). Oh! One thing I’ll say is that Jon Snow is much better in the book. I always wondered why everyone liked him in the show as I found him a bit dull. Oh! Also… they upped the ages of the “younger” generation for the show. In the first book they’re: Bran 7, Arya 9, Sansa 11. Robb Stark & Jon Snow are both 14. Daenerys is 13. And that prick Joffrey is 12 (still hate his guts).

I’d like to say I got to know the characters even more now but, surprisingly, the show was really quite faithful to this first book! Is it later that they start changing stuff more? Because as much as I HATE when adaptations aren’t faithful to a book, it also meant I didn’t exactly get any surprises while reading this after watching the show. Damn. Well, I still enjoyed this & will continue with the series. I need a break first, though. Going to read some more lightweight stuff I got from the library instead for now. – 4/5

Currently reading The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I went movie & review crazy last month so will probably take it easier this month. Although I keep wanting to do a week of posts counting down my Top 100 bands & singers. Should I do that? Sounds like too much effort. But would be kind of fun. I miss making lists…

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

I honestly don’t know anymore what’s in cinemas but services have a terrible selection at the moment. Have Apple TV for a month so gonna try to watch Finch & binge Ted Lasso. Also want to watch Freaky, Another Round, In The Heights & The Suicide Squad on another service I have temporarily.

I end these posts with a music clip but can’t find the great Summer Of Soul full performances to share (so go watch the doc!). So here’s a song I’ve always liked from Fresh: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2021

Happy New Year! Here’s the first of my ranked lists for 2021.

Counting down to my favorite, here are My Top Ten Books Read In 2021 (Yes, way too much Stephen King this year! And 2022 will probably be nothing but Game Of Thrones as I’ve just started Book 1…)

10. The Eyes Of Darkness by Dean Koontz
9. Demon Seed by Dean Koontz
8. Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
7. Moon by James Herbert
6. Billy Summers by Stephen King
5. Later by Stephen King
4. Rage by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
3. If It Bleeds by Stephen King
2. The Running Man by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
1. The Long Walk by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)

I had to rank The Bachman Books separately as The Long Walk is sooo much better than Roadwork (which didn’t make my top ten).

Later I’ll be posting My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2021 followed by My Top Ten Older Movies Watched In 2021 tomorrow then finally My Top Ten 2021 U.K. Movie Releases. Very disappointed with the 2021 movie releases! Ugh. At least I saw some great older films for the first time in 2021…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2021

Bit late with this roundup. Busy month right now! Let’s see what I watched & read back in November…

MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):

Trees Lounge – Really liked this Steve Buscemi movie (which is on Pluto TV in the U.K., FYI). Confession: I have sort of a weird crush on Steve Buscemi. It was great seeing a younger Buscemi as the lead character in this 1996 film (which he also wrote & directed). I already reviewed it in full so I’ll just say it’s an indie movie very focused on the characters so you either like that sort of thing or you don’t. It’s also very “New York”, where it’s set, and I enjoyed the setting & these quirky aimless characters. Some big names in this too. Check out this cast (from Wikipedia): Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Boone Junior, Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Eszter Balint, Carol Kane, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Debi Mazar, Seymour Cassel, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Buscemi. 7.5/10

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – Also reviewed this one already. Was very happy to see this on BBC iPlayer as everyone absolutely raved about it when it came out. It’s a good film. I’m not, like, “OhmygodthisisthebestmovieEVER!!!!!” but the characters are strong & I was interested in what would happen with their relationship and they had really good chemistry together. And I preferred watching women on an island not being psychotic assholes, unlike those idiots in The Lighthouse. Glad I finally managed to see this one. – 7.5/10

tick, tick… BOOM! – I’ll be honest – I read about this movie and wasn’t going to bother even watching it as it’s just really not my sort of thing. I do like “theatre” but have seen very little of it. Well, I ended up really enjoying this one. Not in a “rewatch” sort of way as I can’t see needing to watch it more than once. But Jonathan Larson had a very interesting life & I liked his passion for the theatre and thought the movie very cleverly told his story through two lesser known musicals that he wrote before Rent. And as the film was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I’m sure he captured the theatre lifestyle so assume that theatre fans really like the film. Well, I ended up writing so much about this one that I posted a full review at the link. Glad I checked this one out. – 7.5/10

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – Reviewed this too & am so bored with reviewing MCU movies but was pleasantly surprised by this one. I liked that it felt a little different from other Marvel films as I sometimes feel like I’m watching the same movie over & over with those. This certainly wasn’t perfect but I enjoyed it & its look & especially its older characters. I’ve ranked it somewhere in the middle of all the MCU movies so far. – 7/10

Across The Tracks – Oh my god – How did I not know there was a movie in 1990 starring Ricky Schroder & Brad Pitt as brothers?!? Okay, I’m of the age where I grew up on Schroder in Silver Spoons then later had the hots for Pitt in Thelma & Louise. Wow – hard to believe these two movies are only a year apart (Thelma & Louise is obviously a far better film. Love it).

Not gonna lie, this very much felt like a TV movie but I’m assuming it wasn’t as there was swearing in it. Swearing & sex are big no-nos on American television – America promotes only violence! It felt like a “good” TV movie, though. The acting was perfectly acceptable for this sort of thing in 1990. Why is this review sounding negative?! I enjoyed this but I don’t know if it’s a case of liking it because it’s one I missed as a teen & it stars two actors I liked then. Probably! But I’m always super happy to find something from the ’80s & very early ’90s that I missed out on as it feels like I watched everything I could at that time. Last one like that was when I watched Thrashin’ in August, which I’ve grown to like even more and honestly don’t know how the heck I missed out on that one. That was pure ’80s goodness! Across The Tracks is a decent enough story even though it does come across a bit “After School Special” (remember those, fellow Gen Xers???). It was exactly the sort of thing I was expecting but, hey, that’s fine. I got to see Ricky Schroder & Brad Pitt as brothers!

Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Joe Maloney (Brad Pitt) is a straight A student vying for an athletic scholarship to Stanford. He lives with his mother (Carrie Snodgress) in a trailer park in Gardena, CA. His well laid plans for the future are thrown into turmoil when his troubled younger brother Billy (Rick Schroder) is released from Juvenile Detention following his arrest for stealing a car and comes to live with them back home.”6.5/10

Oxygen – Been wanting to watch this as I love sci-fi & really like Mélanie Laurent plus I liked the concept of a person being trapped in a “cryogenic unit” with their oxygen running out. I’m also always intrigued to see if they can make a film interesting when it’s set in just one location, especially a location as small as in this one, and I think they definitely managed to do that. Other than that, I can’t say too much more as it would spoil the whole plot (although anyone interested has probably seen this by now). I have to say that I mostly find Netflix movies very disappointing but I’ve really enjoyed some of the sci-fi stuff, like this & I Am Mother. I like a good story idea, especially in this genre, and I think this somewhat simple idea worked really well. But I also think you’d have to be a sci-fi fan to really enjoy this one as it’s not exactly mainstream cinema release material. – 6.5/10

The Guilty – I liked this, considering I’m not a crime drama person. But after watching it I noticed a movie with the same name somewhere & a very similar poster and… Damn! I watched an American remake of a foreign film that was probably better! I’d have watched that instead. Well, I thought this one had a pretty good story (with a twist) so I enjoyed it anyway despite not being big on Gyllenhaal the scarf stealer (apparently – I’m not up on Taylor Swift’s old love life or whatever that was all about on Twitter). Like Oxygen, this movie also did a good job of being set in one place (did it ever show outside of the emergency call centre? Can’t remember now but don’t think so). It’s about a cop who’s in trouble for something (we don’t know what) and he’s been made to take 911 emergency calls while awaiting his trial for that something. He tries to help a woman who calls & has apparently been kidnapped. I really liked that story that was fully played out over the phone. I’d recommend this but am wondering what the original is like now… – 6.5/10

Revenge (2017) – Caught this ultra-violent revenge horror flick on the Horror Channel. It’s one of those that Film Twitter went on about at the time so I’d been wanting to see it. It’s a decent enough revenge movie if you like that sort of thing (I do for the most part). Far too violent for my liking but I did enjoy watching this woman go on a rampage after her lover’s friend rapes her & then the three men all try to shut her up so she doesn’t tell anyone. She also had great earrings that looked really cool in all the images of the movie so it’s one of those where the movie poster helped sell the film. Oh, and I wanted to see how a female director would handle the awkward “rape revenge” subgenre that is usually nasty & exploitative. She handled it with lots & lots of blood! The rape scene itself was, I guess, filmed in a more respectful manner and didn’t linger on FOREVER like in nasty I Spit On Your Grave type shit so that was good but I can’t say this is a topic I ever like to watch. I just wanted the movie to get on with the revenge and it sure as shit did and I liked how over-the-top the ending was. Well, I can say I’ve watched this now but would have no need to ever watch it again. It’s certainly one for those who love violent horror. – 6.5/10

The Falling – I think I watched this in October but completely forgot to include it in that post. Ugh! I hate when that happens! I slipped on my obsessive list-making that month! Um, not sure how I felt about this strange little film. I liked it for the most part, especially at the start. Being set in an all girls school & having a slightly mysterious plot (a bunch of the girls at the school start fainting but no cause can be found) gave it a tiny bit of a Picnic At Hanging Rock vibe at first (although it’s not nearly as good as that eerie piece of filmmaking). I watched this as I found the mysterious fainting plot intriguing, which was also what another strange 2015 indie film called The Fits was about. I just reread my review of The Fits & see I compared that one to Picnic At Hanging Rock too – I think I’d like to watch Picnic again.

After watching Black Widow, I also wanted to see Florence Pugh in an early role as I’m still trying to figure out why so many movie fans her sort of age are so obsessed with her. Well, I have to admit she’s the best thing about this movie & really does shine here with that extra sort of quality that only some actors seem to have. I wouldn’t say I’ve felt that way about her in other things, although I did really like her in some roles such as in the surprisingly great Fighting With My Family. It was fun watching Maisie Williams in the lead role but, especially as I’ve just started reading A Game Of Thrones like some kind of crazy fucking maniac thinking I have time for that, I only EVER see her as Arya Stark in absolutely everything she’s in. Not really her fault, though, as I think it’s hard to fully break away from a really huge TV character on a massively popular show. She’s good in this as the best friend of Pugh & the one who starts off the fainting thing at the school after tragedy strikes.

Well, it was all going good until the, um…. Incident toward the end of the movie. WTF?! Trying to stay spoiler free here but EW! I’m starting to worry about how many movies, especially the “worthy drama” and often English films, throw that into the plot. Okay – I think this movie is about coming of age and how that’s such a scary & uncertain time for everyone. It explored that pretty well at the start. And this being an English movie there’s some typical English sexual repression in it and young women starting to explore their sexuality. But don’t explore it in THAT way, Arya Stark! This isn’t Game Of Thrones!

Well. Whatever. This movie was actually pretty decent up until that part so I’m still giving it an okay rating. But I’ve removed half a point for that bit of ickiness. – 6/10

Passing – This was fine. It’s one of those I hate reviewing as I don’t have much to say about it. I can talk for ages about movies I love or especially about ones I absolutely hate! But the MEH ones are difficult. The best thing about it was the performances & Ruth Negga and especially Tessa Thompson were both very good. But for a truly interesting plot, it somehow managed to be quite boring. Up until the sort of shocking ending, that is, which I thought was really well done. Or maybe I was just glad that something finally happened in this movie. There was so much they could have explored with this idea but didn’t & it ended up being more about two jealous women. But maybe the whole point of it was to be very understated? I don’t know – it’s certainly not a bad film and I was intrigued by the plot synopsis. I wonder if the book it’s based on goes deeper into the issues that don’t get explored in this fairly short film. – 6/10

Ammonite – This was a bland one too. More bland than Passing! Other than the kinky sex. Kate Winslet & Saoirse Ronan spend the movie moping around a typically cold-looking, grey, windy & depressing English seaside then eventually have a couple of raunchy sex scenes together. Winslet’s character is especially grumpy & unlikeable. Okay, I get it. I’ve lived in England for 20 years now & the weather has turned me into a grumpy old hag too. But cheer the fuck up, Winslet’s character! (Yeah, I’m too lazy to look up character names). I think the problem here is that these two characters had no chemistry whatsoever. Were they meant to be in love or something?? Didn’t seem like it. They just seemed horny. Just watch Portrait Of A Lady On Fire instead if you want a female love story with more likeable characters. I should probably give this a lower rating based on my negativity but it’s a Kate Winslet movie so I suppose it’s worthy & shit. – 6/10

Where The Truth Lies – Meh! I had a pretty shitty month for movies for the most part. I desperately need access to the weird & obscure sort of movies I actually want to watch so I stop wasting my time on whatever shit is available on boring streaming services (this was, I think, on Roku if you’re interested in lots of sex & a murder).

Okay, this wasn’t awful so I’m taking my anger out on the wrong movie. It’s just one I’ll forget in a year. I watched it as I loved a movie called White Oleander starring Alison Lohman & I’ve tried to watch her in other films since because of that. She’s an odd one… She’s decent in some movies but not so much in the slightly bad movies. I wouldn’t exactly say this is a bad movie (just a little trashy while trying too hard to be sexy) but she feels very miscast. I think it doesn’t help that she’s someone who always looks & seems much younger than she actually is, which worked perfectly for her role in Matchstick Men. But as this is a steamy sex murder mystery, it felt creepy here when she got it on with the older Kevin Bacon and when Colin Firth watched her get it on with a girl. Although a 20 year age difference is standard in Hollywood (with the woman being the young one, of course!). I still enjoyed seeing her in another movie, though, and am glad she didn’t get dragged to Hell at the end of this.

If you like old-school trashy-sex murder mysteries, which is what this was going for, you might like this. But it’s not the sexy noir thing I think it wants to be. The murder mystery itself was decent, though, and I liked the resolution okay and finding out more about the victim. I’ve talked myself into liking this trashy movie a little bit! It’s not great, though. – 6/10

Vivo – This started out so good then kind of turned to shit. What a shame. I really liked the start with the old guy and the cute monkey and the sweet love story & wanted to see this nice old man deliver his love song to the woman he’d secretly loved for years. Nice little heartwarming story.

Then the annoying young girl showed up. Even my preteen went “this is gonna turn bad now, isn’t it“. Then the annoying girl sang the most annoying “trying to be cool & modern” song (although kind of catchy since that stupid “dance to the beat of my own DRUM!” song got stuck in my damn head) & the kid went “yep, it’s turned bad“. And the girl was annoying but the other young girls in it were even more annoying & I just really hate annoying brats in movies. I wanted to see more of the love story I thought we’d get at the beginning.

Oh, and the monkey was cute but he also talked and I think only we the audience could understand him while the humans in the movie heard monkey noises. But then he said certain things & the humans replied and I was like “But you can’t f*^king understand him!” but, who knows, maybe I’m wrong but it felt like they weren’t following the proper animated talking-monkey rules! And, shit, it wasn’t actually a monkey because I’ve just looked up what they kept calling him (which sounded like Pikachu) but it’s actually a kinkajou which you can read about HERE at Wikipedia and holy shit why am I researching this?! Aww. They’re cute! Well, I liked the cute not-monkey thing but I liked him more when he was making squeaky animal noises than when he was talking & singing with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s voice. And then they ended the movie with that annoying song again! “Dance to the beat of my own DRUM!” Argh! It’s in my head again!! – 5.5/10

Chained For Life – Um. I watched this movie on Film 4 because it looked weird & I like weird. And it was. So… Result, I guess! I also quite liked the movie Teeth that this actress, Jess Weixler, was also in. If you don’t know, that movie was about a girl with teeth in her vagina. Just so you have an idea of the sort of movies she likes to be in, I guess.

I don’t have a clue what to say about this movie. It’s not a bad movie & I liked again seeing something truly different but I’m not sure what point the movie was trying to make (if there was one). I thought it would be about beauty standards or something but then the story got very confusing & I didn’t know what the heck was actually going on for a while (I think that part was a dream or fantasy). But I appreciate the effort the filmmakers put into the truly strange films such as this one. Was hoping this would be more enjoyable, though. When it comes to the truly weird stuff that I’ve watched this year, Butt Boy & Rent-A-Pal were both more entertaining. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched In November:

Con Air – Had the sudden urge to rewatch this one when it got added to Disney Plus. I’d watched it a good few times just after it came out in 1997 but not seen it since. Man, this movie is still completely & utterly ridiculous and still ridiculously fun. Remember when dumb action movies were fun?!?! Why do we get so few of these dumbass action flicks that are actually entertaining nowadays?? We mostly get just plain dumb ones now. So, yeah, I really enjoyed rewatching the Nicolas Cage movie named after an American hairdryer more than watching most of the much more “worthy” stuff I’ve watched recently. Cage plays it really straight for a change while everyone else is a crazy bastard instead, including my beloved Steve Buscemi. Buscemi is, obviously, my favorite character in this and you gotta love how they went “let’s make the audience like the psycho serial killer!” and it actually worked & we all went “Yay, Buscemi!” at the end which is really kind of fucked up. Stupid film. I kind of love it. – 7.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous In November:

The Beatles: Get Back – Enjoyed this admittedly very long documentary but, hey, you gotta treat it like a mini-series. I do find it funny when people complain about the length of some movies but then will binge three entire seasons of some TV show in one weekend. With this, though, I’d say you absolutely must be a pretty big fan of The Beatles to watch it. If you aren’t, I’d most definitely not recommend it. It’s not for casual movie-watchers – it’s for hardcore Beatles fans. And I don’t think it’s one you need to see from a filmmaking side of things, although I’m sure what Peter Jackson has done is impressive as he had way more footage than just the almost 8 hours that we saw in this. This is one to watch to get to know a little more about the personalities of four of the most famous musicians of all time & see how they went about creating their amazing music.

I don’t talk about music that often on this blog as I try to focus on movies but music is a huge love of mine too. So you’d think I’d love a music documentary but I’ve watched very few. As much as I love movies, I really have to force myself to watch documentaries. I’ve just never been obsessed with my favorite musicians (as people, I mean). I’ll listen to their music over & over & over to the point where the hubby yells at me for listening to all the same stuff but I’ll rarely read about my favorite bands or watch a documentary about them (but I’ll watch some cheesy Hollywood movie about them instead). Same with actors, really – I just want to enjoy the art they create. I guess the point of my rambling is to say this: I’d say I’m a pretty big Beatles fan and they’d easily be one of my top five favorite bands (I did a Top Ten of their songs HERE) but I know next to nothing about them as people. This is even after two trips to Liverpool to do the whole Beatles tour experience there. I kind of don’t like knowing too much about famous people as I don’t want that to get in the way of me enjoying their art.

So that’s the type of person who sat down to watch The Beatles creating music for eight hours. It was an interesting insight into their music making process but, weirdly, I didn’t come away from it feeling like I knew these four musicians much more than I did beforehand anyway. John was more fun & silly than I was expecting (but maybe that’s just how he was at that point in his life). Paul was the one to really take charge, which I kind of expected, but they still all seemed to get along well even though you could tell things were a little strained. Hell, George even quit the band toward the start of this but even that was all with the least amount of drama EVER. I’m sure they had plenty of drama behind the scenes but they don’t come across like the big whiny divas so many famous people are nowadays. And it seems everyone came away from this liking Ringo even more, which is cool as he gets the least love I think. He’s by far the most laid back & easygoing one in this documentary. And, okay, I’m sure there was drama with Yoko that we didn’t see but we certainly didn’t see it in this 8 hour documentary either and she was in it constantly. She just sat there quietly making no fuss. As I say, though, I know next to nothing about The Beatles so I’m sure there was plenty of drama & backstabbing but I’d rather just not know about that & just sing along badly to Eleanor Rigby in the shower without thinking “They were kind of mean to George, dammit, and why did people hate Yoko”? It was still fascinating to watch them in this, though, and I’m sure the mega hardcore Beatles fans absolutely loved this. And it was funny seeing some of the people complaining about the music being played on the rooftop. Imagine complaining at being able to attend a free Beatles concert! – 8/10

The Princess Bride: Home Movie – Hadn’t watched this during lockdown as hadn’t really looked into what it actually was & was thinking “What are these idiot celebs doing to my beloved Princess Bride?!”. But all they did was recreate it scene by scene alone in their homes during lockdown with whatever silly supplies they had available & it was really very sweet & quite fun! Didn’t know several of the, I assume American TV?, stars but there were also some very big names. The highlights for me were Adam Sandler, Jack Black & the always adorable Paul Rudd. Was also fun seeing a few celebs performing together if they live in the same household, such as Sam Rockwell & Leslie Bibb, and some who had their kids join in. Oh! And a couple Princess Bride stars as well. And a very bittersweet moment with Rob & Carl Reiner. That was lovely. Glad we finally checked this one out as a family.

Olaf Presents: Not gonna lie – I was happy when I found out they’d be making some shorts with Olaf “explaining” the plot of some Disney movies as that was possibly the best bit of Frozen 2. I don’t even love Olaf all that much as he can be a little annoying at times but that bit was really funny & these shorts are a lot of fun. Like, they made me smile & giggle a lot. I’m a small child sometimes. The Little Mermaid, The Lion King & Tangled were the best ones. I want him to do them all!

Ciao Alberto – This short from Pixar’s worst movie was fine. But I’ve already pretty much forgotten it…

The Simpsons in Plusaversary – A bit cheesy – This was just an advertisement for Disney Plus showing the Simpsons with a bunch of Disney characters. Happy to (I think) see Bao included, though. I like that short.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Hawkeye: S1 E1-2 – Really enjoying this one, which is cool since Hawkeye is the most boring Avenger. Been looking forward to it as the daughter was already a Kate Bishop fan & had read comics with her in them. Hailee Steinfeld is really good as Bishop & the relationship with Hawkeye is fun & her one-eyed pizza dog is adorable. It’s making Hawkeye a far more interesting character as well as we’re obviously getting much more focus on him than in the films. Will see how I feel at the end but WandaVision is still my favorite. I also think Loki was better than Hawkeye but think I’m sort of enjoying Hawkeye more than Loki. The Falcon And The Winter Soldier will remain dead last as I found it so damn boring that I didn’t even bother finishing the series. Hawkeye is far more entertaining.

Alice In Borderland: S1 E6-8 – Damn, this show really took a shit at the end. Watched it after absolutely loving Squid Game but, FYI if you’ve watched neither, Squid Game is the one you should check out. Alice started out pretty good with these three twentysomething friends suddenly finding themselves alone in their big Japanese city & then being made to play dangerous deadly games with the small number of other people apparently still left in existence.

The first few episodes or so focused on the games, which were pretty good so I was enjoying the show at first. But they did a terrible job with character development so I wasn’t exactly feeling attached to anyone as they got killed off, unlike in Squid Game which broke all our hearts. Then the final episodes ended up being set with a new group of people and some big “baddies” & that’s when it turned to shit. Not that there’s anything wrong with young people but the show became completely aimed at younger people while all the players apparently became twentysomethings wanting to just party in their swimsuits in between being made to play the games. I swear there were some older players at first?

And then they’d give you a small backstory on some random character you’d then know might possibly die & I didn’t see the point of focusing on characters no one gives a shit about. The show also doesn’t give a satisfying conclusion as they obviously just wanted to continue onto a new season, unlike Squid Game which managed to be a fantastic standalone season while still keeping things open for a new season. It was just really frustrating as the show started out promising. I’ll probably still watch season two in the hopes that it’ll explain WTF is going on but I’m giving up if they try to make us suffer through a third season.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E1-3 – What can I say? Grey’s Anatomy is still being totally Grey’s Anatomy 18 seasons later. At least I think the show is becoming a little less “dramatic”. It’s about time these people mellow out – they’re old now! But it also means it’s getting a bit too boring.

BOOKS READ

The Eyes Of Darkness by Dean Koontz – Ah, my beloved Dean Koontz. I grab a Koontz book whenever I need a quick & easy read from my favorite genre: supernatural horror. That sounds rude… He really is Stephen King-lite, though. And I found this for, like, 50 pence at a charity shop & it’s one I somehow miraculously never read!!! (I’ve read many, which I attempted to fully rank HERE).

Here’s the weird thing with this one & it’s spoiler-y: It’s been brought up recently because people went “Oh my god, Koontz predicted Covid in this!“. So I read this 1981 book about a man-made virus & was thinking “That’s pushing it a bit“. Okay, mystery solved – I was thoroughly confused as Wuhan was not mentioned in my edition. From Wikipedia:

The novel mentions a bioweapon that in earlier editions is named Gorki-400 after the Soviet city of Gorki in which it was created. Due to the end of the Cold War, the origin of the bioweapon was changed to the Chinese city of Wuhan and it was renamed Wuhan-400 for the 1989 edition onward, prompting speculation from some in early 2020 that Koontz had somehow predicted coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Anyway, sorry for the spoiler as you have no idea what is going on at first. It starts with a woman whose only son died in an accident about a year ago but then she starts having strange supernatural things happen that she begins to realise are messages from her supposedly dead son. That’s totally my type of thing but the story started out stronger than it ended up. The ending also felt very rushed. I still enjoyed it, though, as I do most Koontz books. It will just be one of those that I probably won’t remember years from now and I’ll think “Did I read that one?“, which seems to happen with a lot of his novels. – 2.5/5

I’m currently reading A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One – A Game of Thrones because I’m clearly fucking insane. As if I have enough time in my life to be delving into these tomes…! Well, don’t expect a review anytime soon as I am sure each book will take me a good few months minimum to read.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Thanks to not going to the cinemas because of the pandemic but also being totally broke, I’ve missed out on LOADS of 2021 movies. 😦 So my plan is to watch as much 2021 stuff as I can get hold of very cheaply or via my services & just post my 2021 Top Ten lists a little late this year (hopefully by mid-January). Several are on services I have but those are the films I have the least interest in seeing (I’ve not listed those). Below is the list I made of what I’ve missed as I obviously want to catch them as soon as I can…

2021 Movies I Want To See:

These are the UK 2021 releases that I missed (or will miss) that I’m the most desperate to see (ranked in order of how much I want to see them because you know I love to rank things):

1. The Amusement Park (want to see this SO bad)
2. Pig (DVD was really cheap so just bought this!)
3. Last Night In Soho
4. Malignant
5. West Side Story
6. A Quiet Place Part II
7. Spider-Man: No Way Home
8. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
9. Encanto
10. The Matrix Resurrections
11. Old
12. The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It

Well, I want to see the above the most but really want to see all of these as well (still ranked in order, because I’m pathetic):

Coda, The Suicide Squad, The Forever Purge, The Father, In The Heights, Spencer, Another Round, Mass, I’m Your Man, Finch, Antlers, Ron’s Gone Wrong, Petite Maman, Psycho Goreman, Black Bear, Censor, The Sparks Brothers, Halloween Kills, Eternals, Titane

Any recommendations? What are the best 2021 movies that I’ve missed?

I feel like I better end this with The Beatles doing Get Back during that rooftop concert (even though I must admit that Get Back has never been a favorite song of mine – I’m mostly a Rubber Soul/ Revolver era fan):

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2021

I spent October posting (well, mostly re-posting) nothing but horror movie reviews. It’s fun but I always like getting back to reviewing every type of movie. Here’s everything I watched in October, including all the non-horror stuff…

MOVIES WATCHED IN OCTOBER (ranked best to worst):

Dune – Reviewed this in full at the link. Liked it a lot. Love Denis Villeneuve’s work & enjoyed reading Dune last year during lockdown so was really looking forward to the adaptation. It looked great and (most of) the cast were perfect. Especially loved Rebecca Ferguson as my favorite character Lady Jessica. I now have a new favorite 2021 film release. – 8.5/10

Dracula (1931) – I did a bunch of “my favorite horror movies” lists in October & one was My Top Ten Pre-1970 Horror Movies. I’d commented that it was shameful I’d seen so few to be able to make that list and had seen none of the classic “monster” movies such as this one. So I was very happy when the Horror Channel in the U.K. showed a bunch of them over Halloween weekend. I haven’t yet updated that list with these but I did do a quick post HERE with a very short review of each. Dracula was my favorite. They’re all so iconic & I’m glad I finally saw them. – 8/10

Frankenstein (1931) – I forced myself to read this book during lockdown as I must admit I don’t read enough classics. I love the overall story. It’s damn good. So I was expecting to like this movie the most but I think I ended up a bit disappointed as I didn’t realize how different it was from the book! I was just kind of sad as I didn’t feel this movie captured the creature’s complex feelings & turned him into more of a monster while the flawed Victor Frankenstein character is hardly explored at all. But, hey – it’s still a horror classic & gave us the iconic “Frankenstein’s monster” look we now all associate with the character. – 7.5/10

Bride Of Frankenstein (1935) – This was a bit of an odd one to me but I really liked that, combined with the first movie, we get a little more of the story from the book. And I liked that Elsa Lanchester plays Mary Shelley, starting to tell more of her Frankenstein story, as well as The Bride in the title of the film. Again, it was great seeing The Bride & her also now truly iconic horror look. Love that crazy hairdo! – 7/10

The Wolf Man (1941) – Enjoyed this one as well, although I don’t really know what to say about this or The Invisible Man as I knew the least about these stories (but of course know the werewolf legend). Yeah, I like werewolves almost as much as vampires when it comes to classic Halloween monsters so of course enjoyed this very straightforward werewolf story. – 7/10

The Invisible Man (1933) – I know the least about this story and, no, I’ve not read the H. G. Wells book. I enjoyed this but liked it a bit less than the more “classic monster” movies I watched Halloween weekend. I loved the special effects, though. I thought they were damn good for 1933! It was fun watching all of these & I’m happy I finally saw them. Thanks, Horror Channel! – 7/10

Black Widow – This was fine. I’ve said many times that I have “superhero burnout”. I do enjoy the Marvel movies and I’ve watched them all (and ranked them HERE of course since I’m obsessed with lists). I’ve put this one at 14 for now but think I was maybe being too generous as I liked getting another Marvel movie with a female lead and it’s about time that Black Widow got her own movie. But I might move it down a bit because, damn, I wish it had been a little better. It’s certainly not awful & I did enjoy watching it but, meh…

I liked the characters, though. I think it was the story that didn’t work so well. Scarlett Johansson was good as always and I did really like Florence Pugh even though I don’t get the obsession that younger people have with her like she’s the best actress EVER or something – she’s okay? I also really liked David Harbour & Rachel Weisz and their crazy little “family” but think the hubby wasn’t so happy with what they did with Harbour’s character. Or something. I dunno – I know nothing about the comics & these characters outside of the movies but I think that helps me to just enjoy the films since I don’t have to worry about how they adapt the characters.

This movie also did the exact same OTT action-filled ending as every single other Marvel film and seeing that same formula over & over again is getting boring. Man, I hate reviewing Marvel movies as I say the same things over & over again since it feels like I’m watching the same movie over & over again. They’re fun & I watch them as I do enjoy them while they’re on but I don’t tend to revisit them. I’m glad Black Widow got her own movie. I liked the characters & their fucked-up little “family”. The overall story was a bit dumb. Hoping Shang-Chi will be better? Think that’s coming to Disney Plus this week. I want to see something a little different. – 7/10

Tenet – First of all, I better say that I’m not a Christopher Nolan fan. As with Florence Pugh, I also don’t get the obsession with Nolan & people thinking he’s one of the best directors ever or something. He’s okay? I did love The Prestige, kind of hated Interstellar, and felt meh about most of the rest. Okay, The Dark Knight was decent too but, as with all his movies, it’s rated far too highly.

I unfortunately feel kind of the same about Tenet as I did Interstellar. I liked the idea behind the story but thought the execution was a complete mess by the end. I feel like Nolan tries too hard to make a story more confusing than it needs to be so that diehard fans can go “You just don’t get it” whenever anyone doesn’t worship a Nolan film & points out that it’s not as great as they think it is. John David Washington was fine as was Robert Pattinson. They did what they could with this story. I liked the story involving Elizabeth Debicki & her complete dick of a husband, although her character made some shitty decisions and, honestly, could’ve fucked up a very important mission.

I don’t know. I didn’t hate the movie. I thought the overall story was fine & enjoyed seeing things played out in reverse. But I also think the execution of the story was a bit of a mess. Again. Now thinking I should rewatch Memento again as I did like that at the time but don’t remember it being so messy? It seems like Nolan’s movies are getting worse over time. – 6.5/10

Class Of 1984 – This was kind of a weird one. I kind of liked it. I think. I watched Class Of 1999 (from 1989) several years ago and, man, that was pretty cheesy. That was about a school with a bunch of unruly delinquent students so secret robot teachers are hired to keep them in line. The Class Of 1984 school certainly could’ve used some killer robot teachers! It’s about a new teacher (Perry King) who starts at a school that is being terrorised by some truly evil students. When he stands up to them, they begin terrorising him as well. It’s one of those “based on true events!” movies where I’m thinking that’s bullshit as, yeah, some teenagers could be horrible but I don’t think they were this bad in 1984. I grew up in the ’80s – we were pretty nice!

I liked Roddy McDowall as a fellow teacher who gets pushed over the edge & it was fun seeing a very young Michael J. Fox from before he was famous (he’s a nice student, of course – not one of the bad ones). This movie goes very over-the-top at the end, though. I liked all of that sweet revenge but could’ve done without the long & drawn out rape scene. I know they needed to make us really hate these evil fuckers but I think anyone watching the movie hated them enough before that. The movie was more “extreme” than I was expecting. Not so much in showing actual gore & blood, which was mild, but the baddies truly were evil & violent people. Am assuming it was controversial at the time. I think it could’ve been much better. It kind of feels like a movie that thought it was tackling an important topic but the end was too over the top to take seriously. Enjoyed the revenge, though. – 6.5/10


The Night House – I reviewed this separately since it’s one of the few horror movies I actually watched in October. It was fine. Could’ve been better but I was very happy to be able to watch a new horror on Disney Plus. Had some good eerie bits, at least, and supernatural horror is always my favorite type. – 6/10

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit – I’ve never paid much attention to Wallace & Gromit. Not sure why. I’ve liked what I’ve seen, though. Halloween seemed like a good time to finally watch this one for my Best Picture Project. The focus of that is to of course watch all the Best Picture winners but I’d like to watch some of the foreign language winners as well. And I then noticed I’d seen all of the Best Animated Features except for two: this & Rango, which I’ve also now watched. Woohoo! I’ve seen all the winners in that category now! My life is complete!

Anyway. This was cute & funny & I’m sure Wallace & Gromit fans like it. I enjoyed it. I’ll be honest, though, neither this nor Rango were as good as the Pixar & Disney films that tend to always win so it’s obvious they weren’t up against those. Rango didn’t have much competition but, wow, I disagree with Wallace & Gromit winning over Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride & especially over Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle!! What?!? Well, that’s the Academy for you I guess. – 6.5/10

First Love – I was mostly interested in checking this out as it’s a Takashi Miike movie and his Audition film was certainly interesting. I believe a lot of his stuff is extreme so I was interested in this one as it was meant to be less crazy. But I found it a bit boring. I liked the young boxer & the girl he helps plus there were some fun, quirky characters including one pissed off chick who was amusing. But I was mostly bored & sad it didn’t live up to its really cool movie poster. Here’s the short Wikipedia synopsis (the poster is also at the link): “It tells the story of a boxer and a call girl who become unwittingly involved in a drug-smuggling scheme.” – 6/10

Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers – I watched the “Loomis timeline” first 6 Halloween movies in October & reviewed them all in a post on Halloween (at the link) so no need to say much here as well. I’ll just say this: the first Halloween, as expected, is far superior to the sequels. The rest are below as I rewatched them but this & number 6 were first time watches for me. They aren’t great! I still far prefer the Elm Street movies. – 5.5/10

Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers – This was the worst of these Michael Myers sequels but I’ve given it an extra half a point since adorable young Paul Rudd is in it (looking exactly the same as he does now). – 5.5/10

Terror Train – Since I was watching all the Halloween movies, it made sense to also check out this 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis slasher I’d somehow never heard of. I’ve reviewed it in full as well so I’ll just say it wasn’t great but seemed to have a pretty good budget for the time & I liked the train setting. It was like a slightly shit version of an Agatha Christie story. I don’t know why I’ve put it underneath Halloween 5 & 6 as it’s actually better than those… But they of course have the “Michael Myers/Halloween” franchise thing going for them I guess and I’m more likely to remember those than this somewhat forgettable horror. – 6/10

Movies Rewatched In October:

Halloween (1978) – This is obviously an all-time slasher classic from the great John Carpenter. And I adore his score, as I do in his other movies. The Halloween theme is absolutely brilliant and I’m convinced it’s what has actually made this such a popular franchise. I can’t imagine this movie without the music. – 8/10

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – This is one of those movies where I want to give it a higher rating as I love a few of the songs (especially Time Warp) and it’s SO iconic & it’s fun & Tim Curry is truly awesome. But, man, the final half hour or so of this thing has always been pretty sucky. Sorry! But I realize that’s kind of the point as it’s meant to be like a cheesy ’50s B movie. Should I up my rating?? I really should… It’s a classic. I’ll think about it! For now, I’ll leave it with this: – 7.5/10 (Re-watching this has made me further appreciate Phantom Of The Paradise too – both deserve their cult status)

Us – Appreciated this a bit more on rewatching it. It’s flawed but I really like the story & stand by my opinion that it’s much better than Get Out. – 7.5/10

Logan – I also stand by my opinion that I prefer the X-Men movies (bad as most of them unfortunately are) to the MCU movies. I just prefer the characters. Will be fun, though, if (when??) they bring them together? I don’t love Logan but it’s very good and certainly the best of the Wolverine films. – 7.5/10

Halloween II (1981) – The least sucky of the Halloween sequels since at least Jamie Lee Curtis/Laurie Strode is actually in the damn thing. – 6.5/10

Fun Size – This is a fun “teen” Halloween movie. Actually has some pretty raunchy jokes in it for a Nickelodeon movie! The best thing about it is the weird little brother – he’s funny. – 6.5/10

Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers – At least this one is better than 5 & 6? Think it could grow on me as I like the character of Jamie Lloyd & liked the ending. – 6/10

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch – Oh man, I wanted to love this as I vaguely remembered liking the jingle from it when I saw it as a teen. But it’s really not good. However, I do wish they’d continued with this idea of having Halloween be a series of unrelated stories as I love horror anthologies. The story in this was also a pretty good idea. I just wish the movie itself was much better. – 5/10

TV Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales – These are always fun and it was a nice surprise when (slight spoiler!) they spoofed a “horror” favorite of mine: The Lost Boys. Wasn’t expecting that! Don’t think the kids watching are going to get those references, though.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Midnight Mass: S1 E2-7 – I like Mike Flanagan. I think I’ve watched every single movie of his, most of which I’ve really liked. But I have yet to really love something of his. Doctor Sleep & Gerald’s Game were my favorites, but is that thanks to the Stephen King thing since I’m such a big King fan? And I have to say that Midnight Mass feels very VERY much like a King story, such as Salem’s Lot (a favorite book), which is probably why I thought this was a pretty great show.

I tried to watch another Flanagan show but gave up after a couple of episodes as it was just too damn slow. No, I’m not someone with a short attention span but I also don’t really want to spend hours & hours watching a TV show. Think it’s why I just prefer movies. A good movie can do just as well with character development in less time as long as they do it right. So, Midnight Mass started the same way as most Flanagan stuff & I admit I wasn’t feeling it at all at first.

I’m really glad I didn’t give up on it as the end of episode 3 is when I went “Fuck yeah – something good is finally happening!!“. They then spent far too long talking in all the remaining episodes too, blah blah blah blah, but we got some great supernatural horror (my favorite!) in between all that blathering. The characters were good, especially Flanagan’s wife, and I loved this small, very Stephen-King-esque island community setting. That was great! I want to live there! You know, without the freaky supernatural horror stuff. And I absolutely hated the religious nut bitch (as you’re meant to) and her type of character also screamed Stephen-King-character because that’s the exact sort of character he writes so often. Same with the main guy with the tragic past. So, yeah, I probably liked this as it was so very much like a Stephen King story. Again, though, I just wish I could love a Flanagan movie/show. He’s getting closer!

Alice In Borderland: S1 E1-5 – After being absolutely obsessed with the brilliant Squid Game (I loved it! Watched the whole thing twice!), we decided to check out this Japanese show as it’s one of those they recommend if you liked Squid Game. I can see why, as it also involves people being forced to play games that can result in their deaths. It’s fun so far so but we’re only halfway through, so I’ll say more once I’ve finished it.

It’s definitely not as good as Squid Game, though. The characters aren’t nearly as well developed. It’s also very “youth aimed”, which is fine, but the majority of the people on this show are in their 20s whereas Squid Game varied more in ages. Also, it doesn’t have the same sense of desperation that the characters in Squid Game had as they were down on their luck & needing the big prize. The “players” in this show are (seemingly at this point) chosen at random to participate. I like the mystery of it, though, as it appears that everyone else in the world has disappeared so am eager to find out what’s going on with the overall story…

Never Mind The Buzzcocks: S29 E2-6– God, it’s like the old Buzzcocks from years ago had the soul sucked out of it completely. Very disappointing. Think they need new regulars?!

The Masked Singer U.S.: S6 E1-7 – This show is so stupid but I seem to keep watching it. I’m convinced that one dude is John Lydon…

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood – I liked this heavy metal band’s first album, where every song is about a horror movie, so was happy when they released this second album in time for Halloween this year. It’s just a bit screamy, FYI, if you don’t go for the full-on screamy metal stuff. I have to be in the right sort of mood but will always prefer classic metal, such as Black Sabbath, to this more modern stuff. The “horror movie” idea for these two albums was a great one, though.

Iron Maiden – SenjutsuCompletely forgot to mention this album in my roundup the month it came out so figured I’d mention it quickly now. Really like it. I streamed it shitloads while working that month, hoping to help it beat Drake to the number one spot. It didn’t. I’m still bitter & annoyed. Yeah, I know I sound like an old person. Don’t care! 😉 Drake did a version of I’m Too Sexy, FFS. Right? Seriously?! Ugh. I weep for the future. Kids these days! Glad mine loves a lot of great classic rock & can name loads of bands from the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s.

BOOKS READ

Billy Summers by Stephen King – Enjoyed this, as I do with most King books, but it’ll never be a favorite. I always prefer King when he’s doing his supernatural horror thing so, this straightforward “crime” story of a professional hitman hired to kill a bad guy on his way to court, wasn’t really my sort of thing. The character of the hitman (Billy Summers) was fine as you do feel some sympathy for him (plus he only kills bad people!). The relationship he develops later on with a character is a bit awkward. I think I’d have been a bit bored if this book didn’t also include a “story within the story” as Billy Summers decides to write a book about his life while waiting for the man he’s been hired to kill. So we learn about his life from a young age via the book he writes. I liked that & it was the best thing about this book. Oh! That and references to a well known place from one of King’s most famous books (and not in Maine!). – 3/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I might as well take this bit out of my roundup posts as I never really have any blog plans anymore. Watch movies, sometimes review them separately if I have much to say, otherwise just mention them in my monthly posts. 🙂

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Everything!!! Damn. Still not going to the cinema so missing soooooo many movies. Really want to see Last Night In Soho.

I’ll end today’s post with Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show…

The Bachman Books by Stephen King aka Richard Bachman (Book Review)

I re-read The Bachman Books this year (a collection of four Stephen King stories originally published under his pen-name Richard Bachman). I don’t normally re-read books but it had been over 20 years since I read these. I remember absolutely loving one & really liking another but couldn’t remember anything very specific from either. The other two stories I had zero memory of whatsoever. Weird how memory works. Here they are in the order they appear in the collection…

Story 1: Rage

I can’t believe I didn’t remember a thing about this story as it later became very controversial. In fact, it is no longer being published (which King requested) so I was lucky to get an old copy of The Bachman Books at a charity shop which still includes this story. The topic is one that makes me as angry as the whole social media & bullying thing I went on about in my review of that dreadful Unfriended movie: Guns. The massive gun problem in America in general but especially in schools.

Anyway, King wanted this to stop being published after it was too strongly linked to five school shootings. I won’t go into censorship here (oh boy, another fun topic!) but I’m mostly very much against it. It depends on the situation, though, and King made the right choice. In the story, a troubled teen boy brings a gun to school & holds his class hostage. As far as the topic of guns & school shootings go, that’s not really the focus of this story and the story doesn’t go how you’d expect. I’m trying to stay spoiler free but it’s more about the struggles of growing up & the things that shape you & mental illness & fighting back against authority (maybe – it’s not made all that clear).

I kind of made the story sound better than it is. I don’t think King quite gets his point across in this story as to why this boy does this. At least he doesn’t make you sympathise with the character, which would be very irresponsible as no one should think they have the right to bring a gun into their school. The ending also goes off the rails and I didn’t see the point of that either but at least it ends in an unpredictable way. It’s terrible to think it may have inspired real shootings as it’s not the point of this story (although I’m not sure what the point is) and probably not something King would have expected to come from this short novel. Overall, the story could’ve been better had it made its point a little more clear.

My Rating: 3/5

Story 2: The Long Walk

This was the story I remembered loving. My opinion hasn’t changed. This is a great story and could make such a fantastic movie. I know Frank Darabont had the rights to it for years & I’d been desperate for him to adapt it as he did such a brilliant job with The Green Mile, The Mist and especially The Shawshank Redemption. But I just looked into it and he’s lost the rights (oh no!). There’s a plan for it to now be made by Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark & Trollhunter director André Øvredal. I’m not happy! Did like Trollhunter but was very excited at the thought of Darabont making The Long Walk. Damn.

Anyway, the story is so simple yet so horrifying: In a dystopian reality, each year 100 teenage boys have to walk until only 1 of them is still walking. The final boy wins the big final “prize”. You get to know a few of the characters pretty well, which is what I most care about in a story. This is a short novel, though, so there’s less character development than I’d like and I think this could be one of those occasions where the movie could improve on that if done by the right person (Darabont would’ve been great with the character development!). Oh well. It’s still a great story & I still hope they finally make it into a movie.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Story 3: Roadwork

I can see why I didn’t remember Roadwork as it’s not one of King’s more memorable stories. It’s about a guy who goes off the deep end when a new road being built means both his house & his company will be torn down. I’ll be honest – I haven’t quite finished reading it but I’m almost done & am gonna just review it anyway. (FYI – as I’m re-posting this I’ve of course finished it now & my opinion hasn’t changed).

I think the story is far longer than it needed to be. It does drag on & I wasn’t eager to pick it up & keep reading, which is why it took me over a month to read a novella. While the reader does have some sympathy for the guy, especially as he had a tragedy in his past, he’s really hard to fully sympathise with overall (especially as he doesn’t care at all about ruining his wife’s life along with his). The story is okay, I guess. I always enjoy reading King’s writing but this certainly isn’t a favorite.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Story 4: The Running Man

The Running Man is my second favorite of these four novellas. I think it’s a good story & am looking forward to the new film adaptation from Edgar Wright (if that’s still happening??). But I did also really like the Schwarzenegger film which, if I remember, was nothing whatsoever like the book anyway?! Need to rewatch that now to refresh my memory of that too.

What can I say? I like dystopian future stories and I liked this world where people have to “play for their lives” on game shows. I didn’t find this story very far-fetched when I first read it over 20 years ago & I find it even more plausible now. The ending is maybe a little silly but, whatever – it’s Stephen King! Who cares. I’m a fan. I feel like I’ve read only Stephen King books in 2021, though. Hmm. Oh well – libraries were closed thanks to the pandemic & I mainly only buy King’s stuff these days so it’s pretty much all I have to read in the house. 🙂

My Rating: 3.5/5

Dean Koontz, Josh Malerman, James Herbert & Riley Sager (Book Reviews)

Here are some more horror book reviews for October Horror Month. I mostly read Stephen King but did manage to read a few other authors in the past couple of years. Honest! Even read some non-horror, like Dune. But I do mostly stick to this genre for some reason…

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

I’m a big Dean Koontz fan (did a Top Ten list HERE). Honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read this one years ago but think I only saw the 1977 Julie Christie movie based on it. What was disappointing was that I didn’t realise the version I have is actually one that Koontz later re-wrote to update the technology in it & I assume references to specific actresses. I’m old – I can handle reading about out-dated technology. I’M out-dated technology!

Anyway, this book is interesting as I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of machines taking over. (They will, you know!!). But it’s also creepy & very rape-y so not one I’d recommend easily to absolutely anyone. There’s a real “woman hating” thing going on here, but I think part of the point of the book is the dreaded “toxic masculinity”. I do wonder if that was as much a part of the original book or if Koontz put more of that in to fit more with the topics of today.

My Rating: 3/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz

As I said above, I love Dean Koontz books. Well, okay – I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

This was a strange one. I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the movie adaptation!). But I was absolutely blown away by his short story included at the end of that book (Ghastle And Yule). It was brilliant. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author to tell him that (I never really tweet “celebs” because that feels stalker-y & weird). But I think he appreciated the praise. Here’s the synopsis for Black Mad Wheel from Amazon, which sounded amazing so is why I chose it as the next book of his to read: “The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

A creepy supernatural story about a rock band? Totally my type of thing! I wanted to like this one more than I did, however. Only Philip Tonka, the band’s front man, gets any character development. The story also doesn’t give much of a resolution if that sort of thing bothers you (I don’t mind that so much, especially with supernatural stories, as I like to sometimes have things left to my own imagination). What the story does have, though, is a lot of originality. It also has a good “vibe”. I don’t know how else to describe that but, especially with his Ghastle And Yule short story, I felt like I was there & could easily picture everything that was happening.

Based on what I’ve read of Malerman’s so far, I’ll definitely be reading more. His stories are unusual & completely unpredictable. I like that. I need more of that. I just want to like his characters a bit more. Likeable characters are always a big thing for me. By the end of Bird Box, I still didn’t like the main character. I want to care about the fate of at least one character… (I should point out that Ghastle And Yule aren’t likeable either but they’re not meant to be. They’re just great characters).

My Rating: 3/5

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

What I like so far about Malerman is that he doesn’t stick to just one genre. For the most part, they’ve all been a little bit on the weird or supernatural side of things (which is right up my alley). This one is kind of a Western but with supernatural elements. I liked it. Probably my third favorite of the three full-length novels I’ve read but I’ve liked all I’ve read so far so am looking forward to reading more of his work.

Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Only three people know Carol Evers’ secret. Her best friend, who’s dead. Her husband, who hates her. Her ex-lover, who left her. Carol suffers from a dreadful affliction which makes her fall into long comas, waking slumbers indistinguishable from death. Her husband Dwight wants her next “death” to be her last. He will claim her fortune by pronouncing her dead … and burying her alive. The infamous outlaw James Moxie, once Carol’s lover, rides the Trail again – pursued by murder and mayhem – to save the woman he loves. And all the while, Carol is a prisoner in her own body. hearing her funeral plans, summoning every ounce of will to survive…

My Rating: 3/5

Moon by James Herbert

Supernatural horror is my favorite genre to read. This book had been lying around the house for years so I finally read it since libraries have been closed for the past year (Update: I obviously wrote this in 2020). Also, I really liked Herbert’s freaky deaky book The Rats so decided I might as well try a second book of his. The Rats was more fun (but super gross). Moon is about a guy with a psychic connection to some psycho murderer & it’s exactly what you’d expect from this type of story. I’ve read loads of stories like this, so… I don’t have a lot to say. It passed the time & I’ll completely forget it years from now. Kind of like how all the Dean Koontz books I read all meld together in my mind & I honestly never know if I read one years ago or not but I still love to read his stuff…

My Rating: 2.5/5

Final Girls by Riley Sager

This crime mystery horror thriller might be a bit of fluff but I think it would make for a really good slasher flick with a decent “whodunnit” plot. I’d definitely watch that movie! The characters are a bit hateful but, hey, so are most slasher movie characters.

Had fun with this one – it was a real page-turner as I wanted to find out what was going on. I’m impatient when it comes to whodunnits & always read them quickly. It gets a bit silly at the end but I don’t mind that with this sort of thing. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “FIRST THERE WERE THREE. The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma. THEN THERE WERE TWO. But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or… CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE? All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

My Rating: 3/5

If It Bleeds, The Colorado Kid & Later by Stephen King (Book Reviews)

For October Horror Month, I figured I might as well drag out some of my reviews of the horror stuff I’ve read in the past two years. Not gonna lie – the majority will be Stephen King books! But there will be a few other authors I’ll be posting this month as well.

Here’s a Stephen King collection of four shorter stories & two of his Hard Case Crime novels to start…

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (Four Story Collection: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life Of Chuck, If It Bleeds & Rat)

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. I always love his shorter story collections. I’ll say just a tiny bit about each…

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – Really liked this very simple story of a boy who gifts an iPhone to an elderly neighbour. But the story of course gets a little more weird later on…

The Life Of Chuck – Thought this three-part story (told in reverse order) was interesting. The first story was really good & very clever when you later realise what’s going on. The second story was okay & the final one was good with the right amount of creepiness but also strong characters & not a full-on “horror”.

If It Bleeds – This is a short story continuing on from The Outsider (which I actually didn’t like very much). However, it revolves around one of my favorite new Stephen King characters: Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes. She’s a love her or hate her & I love her so like that King keeps using her as well as other likeable previous characters. So I enjoyed this story mainly because I got to revisit these characters again.

Rat – This is the most “Stephen King” story about a writer (shocker! can’t remember if he was also in Maine…) who makes a deal with a talking rat when he wishes to write a successful novel. It’s a twist on The Monkey’s Paw and is a better story than you’d think it could be considering it has a talking rat. But King can write the weird stuff well!

Not sure what to rate this book overall as it’s good but not as strong as some of his other collections. I suppose I’d give the whole thing this…

My Rating: 3.5/5

**Just going to add this bit from Wikipedia that I just read. Looks like at least three of the stories are going to be adapted: “On July 10, 2020, Deadline Hollywood reported that Netflix had acquired film rights to “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, to be produced by Blumhouse Productions and Ryan Murphy. “Rat” was optioned by Ben Stiller, who intends to produce, star and direct. Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures has optioned “The Life of Chuck”, with Aronofsky to produce.

Wait. What? Darren Aronofsky?! What an odd choice. Okay, Ben Stiller is weird too. But Aronofsky doing King? I suppose it was a very strange story (the first part) that I can kind of see him doing after Mother!

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

My Thoughts:

Been wanting to read this for years as I really liked the TV show Haven which I knew was only very loosely based on this book. Loosely was an understatement! It just happens to be set in the same small town in Maine. That’s the only true link. At least I think it was Maine. It’s a King book – it must be Maine! It’s set in small-town fishing village Maine & I think I want to live out my elderly years in StephenKingesque small-town Maine. I read too much King.

This is one of his non-horrors and I really liked it. I often like his non-horrors where the focus is on good characters, and they were pretty well developed ones for what was a pretty short book. It’s not as good as the first one I read in this Hard Case Crime series, though (Joyland). Joyland was great! But I’d recommend both to King fans.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Later by Stephen King

My Thoughts:

This is the third novel of King’s in this Hard Case Crime series & I’ve enjoyed them all. They’re much shorter & “lighter” reads than his hefty horror tomes. This is probably my least favorite of the three, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s about a kid who sees dead people (yeah, kind of like in The Sixth Sense but not really & they do reference that film in this). It’s a solid ghost story with a likeable kid. It’s possibly a little forgettable but it’s a quick & fun read.

My favorite in this series is still Joyland, which I loved, and second is The Colorado Kid which felt very different from King’s “horror” stories. Maybe I should check out some of the many non-King books in this series??

My Rating: 3/5

Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2021

Happy October, everyone!

I’ve decided to do October Horror Month again after skipping it last year, so I have two years worth of horror movie reviews that I’ve gathered together to post again. And you never know – maybe I’ll actually watch a horror movie in October for a change & do a new review! Maybe. I never seem to have the time to watch horror movies in October now (or when I do, they’re re-watches of old favorites).

Well, I’ve already moved onto “ALL HORROR” before doing this roundup of everything I watched in September. So here’s a quick break from the scary stuff…

MOVIES WATCHED IN SEPTEMBER (ranked best to worst):

Minari – Was so happy to see this finally pop up on Sky Cinema as it’s one of the Best Picture nominees this year that I’d wanted to see the most. I have to say I enjoyed it much more than winner Nomadland but probably still like Promising Young Woman the most. But Minari would be a close second out of the six nominees I’ve seen. I reviewed it in full at the link but, basically, it’s a sweet film and I really liked this family. I especially liked the grandmother & young son – they were fun & adorable together. – 7.5/10

Space Sweepers – Really enjoyed this movie. That’s two things I’ve liked on Netflix recently! I struggle to find anything new that I like on Netflix (the other recent thing I liked being Squid Game – I LOVED that). Think it’s because they have one thing in common (besides both being South Korean): Good characters. Same with Parasite & Train To Busan. I’ve written a review of Space Sweepers & it’s ended up so long that I’m gonna post it separately in November after horror month. It’s one of the better 2021 releases I’ve seen so it deserves a full review… – 7.5/10

Free Guy – Saw this at a drive-in & reviewed it at the link (where I mostly reminisce about drive-ins). I probably enjoyed it slightly more than I might have as I needed a movie fix so bad (it’s the only movie I’ve seen outside of my house since February 2020). I thought it was fun. Ryan Reynolds is always likeable, of course, but I also really liked Jodie Comer’s character. The idea itself was good but, admittedly, not the most original. We’ve seen the whole “living in a video game” thing quite a lot. But this movie brought enough of a new spin to the idea plus the romance was surprisingly good (especially at the end). It managed to be slightly unpredictable, which was cool. Yeah, it was lightweight but that’s exactly what I needed. – 7/10

Villains – Liked this quirky horror. Thanks, Film Miasma! And as it’s now October, I won’t say much more here & will instead try to do a full review of it for October Horror Month… – 6.5/10

Three Days Of The Condor – Watched this Robert Redford film as I heard it was a really good spy thriller that helped inspire Captain America: The Winter Soldier (if I remember correctly??). Yep, it’s a good spy thriller so I recommend it if you like that sort of thing. Weirdly, I’ve never been big on this genre for some reason. I mean, I don’t even like the James Bond films. But I’m probably just weird. Anyway – Redford has sex from out of nowhere just like James Bond with a woman he’s basically taken as a hostage (Faye Dunaway). I was like “you’re gonna have sex with him now after he roughed you up a little & tied you up?!”. Whatever. Must be a regular thing for spy thrillers based on what I’ve seen of Bond movies. She seemed happy enough! I’ll say I thought this movie started out really good while they were in his workplace. The whole movie was pretty good but I liked it at the start more than at the end plus the story dragged a little at the end. – 7/10

Vacation Friends – I enjoyed this. I’m always afraid to admit I liked a dumb comedy as I think film blogger types can be a bit snobby about these kind of movies. Hell, I admit I am too. I’m super picky on comedy & haven’t found anything truly funny since the days of This Is Spinal Tap & The Princess Bride. But those are brilliant & I gave up on getting anything remotely like those ever again years ago. So I’m now happy to turn off my brain sometimes & watch stuff like this. It’s over-the-top and ridiculous but that’s what I want from this sort of thing. I thought the four main characters were great together and John Cena was especially funny. It’s a story where the crazy, unpredictable couple clash with the more straight-laced couple and it’s of course predictable at times. But I’d say there were still some surprises plus the friendship was fun to watch. Whatever. I liked it. There are certainly far worse comedy movies you could watch to unwind one evening. – 6.5/10

The Starling – This was fine. I think I saw some reviews that I thought were way too harsh. I thought it handled the tremendous grief of this couple pretty well while keeping the movie a “light” drama with a touch of humour. Not everyone wants super heavy Oscar dramas! The story is absolutely heartbreaking but not every movie has to be Requiem For A Dream, you know? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “After Lilly suffers a loss, a combative Starling takes nest beside her quiet home. The feisty bird taunts and attacks the grief-stricken Lilly. On her journey to expel the Starling, she rediscovers her will to live and capacity for love.” Melissa McCarthy & Chris O’Dowd were believable as a couple and as heartbroken parents. The movie isn’t perfect but I thought it came up with a unique way of telling a story of grief. I feel like it would’ve been more well received if it had starred, I dunno, Nicole Kidman? I think critics just don’t like McCarthy, to be honest. Snobs! – 6/10

C.H.U.D. – Hey! Another horror movie so I’ll try to do a full separate review for it. It’s ’80s as hell and cheesy and anyone who didn’t live through the ’80s would hate it. But I did so I liked it. Even though it’s pretty bad… – 6/10

Gunpowder Milkshake – This was not a good movie. I’m getting annoyed that they can’t make a really good female assassin movie. Has there been nothing good since Kill Bill? Well, having said that, I still kind of liked this one. Don’t get me wrong – it’s pretty bad. But at least it tried to be a little unique. They had some cool settings, like the ’50s-style diner, the bowling alley, and that “library”. So I appreciated that. I also liked Karen Gillan’s cool jacket in that photo. And I liked the kick ass older ladies: Lena Headey, Michelle Yeoh, Carla Gugino, and Angela Bassett. To be honest, they were all pretty great and deserved a better movie. I’d happily watch these characters again, so… maybe there’s a chance they could get a much better sequel?? Can we get these cool women into a good movie?!

I do feel that the best bits were ripped off from John Wick & from Hotel Artemis (which I actually liked quite a lot). But… It still meant there were some good scenes in this. To be fair, Hotel Artemis ripped off John Wick which in turned ripped off a million other assassin movies. No idea is original. But I feel like the all-female movies get reviewed far more harshly for the same things being done by all-male films. So… Fuck it. I’ve seen worse all-male assassin movies. I think I’ve talked myself into liking this one a bit more. Yes, Gunpowder Milkshake could’ve been way better but it’s not the fault of its stars. They did a great job with the material they were given. – 6/10

Kate – This was as bad as Gunpowder Milkshake but without any of the fun of that one whatsoever so I just found it a chore to sit through the whole thing. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was okay. I assume she got this role after being the only good thing in that truly dreadful Birds Of Prey. I preferred her character in that film & it sucked that they didn’t try harder to make us care about her in this (although it was nice that she didn’t want to go around killing anyone in front of kids). I liked the setting of Japan but, uh, I think I’m just trying to think of one nice thing to say… And Woody Harrelson was wasted in this. I just wish they could make a good female assassin movie! Why are we getting so many bad ones?? Oh well. This still sucked less than Red Sparrow. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched:

The Shining – I don’t think I’ll ever manage a full review of The Shining as I struggle to talk about my favorite films. I’ll just say it’s easily in my top five favorite horror movies of all time. Adore that creepy atmosphere & score and wish all horror movies could be as stylish. Love it. Think I’d really like a rewatch of Doctor Sleep now too after watching this one again… FYI – The Shining topped my favorite top ten list I’ve ever done on this blog: My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies. – 9/10

Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Nona – So loving all the shorts on Disney Plus! Enjoyed this sweet story of a wrestling-loving grandma wanting to keep her husband’s memory alive & finding the best way to do it.

Twenty Something – Thought this was a really good idea for a short that captures the feeling that we’re all still scared little kids deep down inside.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Squid Game: S1 – Ahhh! I loved this! I didn’t watch TV for years as there seemed to be nothing I liked after Lost (the start of Lost, at least). Now there’s The Mandalorian, Cobra Kai & THIS. Finally! TV shows I thoroughly enjoyed for the first time in years! As it’s horror month, I’m contemplating doing a full review of this on its own but I’ve never really reviewed a TV series. I should go episode by episode but that sounds like a lot of work & the thought stresses me out. But I really loved this so I’m gonna do something in a separate post sometime soon… FYI – I clearly highly recommend this but only if you’re okay with pretty extreme violence. But the characters & story are worth it.

Star Wars: Visions: S1 – Loving Star Wars & anime, I was really excited to see anime-style Star Wars. Enjoyed all these, although I did snooze through a couple while binging so need to rewatch those. I’d say it’s a mixed bag – some episodes are great while others are a bit meh. The one with the bunny girl thing was a bit too weird for me. My favorite was easily the first episode: The Duel. Loved the style of that (I posted an image of it at the end of this TV section). Worth watching for Star Wars fans, especially those who also like anime.

Nine Perfect Strangers: S1 E5-8 – Ummm. I dunno. This was an odd one. I was liking it okay at first but it went off the rails at the end. I didn’t even realise when I was watching the final episode as it was a bit of a letdown after so much build-up. The only characters I ended up liking were, weirdly, those played by Melissa McCarthy & Bobby Cannavale. Wasn’t expecting that but they had really good chemistry. The family of three also had an interesting story but the shit Nicole Kidman had them doing at the end was weird. And I hated how Regina Hall’s character ended up after being one of the more interesting ones at the start. Meh. It was okay but for “weird grown-up drama”, I preferred The White Lotus.

Midnight Mass: S1 E1 – Have only watched one episode so far so don’t have much to say yet. I like Mike Flanagan sometimes but haven’t gotten on with his TV shows as I feel they drag. As did this first episode. Nothing really happened so I hope it gets better.

What If…?: S1 E1 – Again, only seen one episode (Captain Carter). It was fun. I’ll watch the rest eventually.

Young Rock: S1 E1-2 – Seen two episodes. It’s quite sweet. Liking it so far…

Dug Days: S1 – Although I adore the beginning of Up, the rest of the film isn’t perfect & I wasn’t that into the weird talking dog Dug. But these shorts are cute. Especially liked the one with the puppies. Worth watching.

Monsters At Work: S1 E10 – Loved these! Have said plenty about the show in previous posts – just saw the final episode in September. Wasn’t expecting the show to be as good as it was. Will always love Mike Wazowski!

Never Mind The Buzzcocks: S29 E1 – One of the few British shows I’ve watched since moving to the U.K. Love it! Not as good in recent years, though. Damn. This first episode was bland. Miss the humor of the older episodes.

America’s Got Talent: S16 E1 – Started watching with the kid but we haven’t continued. She must have found it boring. I can live without it.

Global Citizen Live Concert – I can’t believe I sat through this entire boring ass concert, including Ed f*^king Sheeran, just to see Metallica. And they never even showed them. And it ended with f*^king Coldplay!

Here’s The Duel from Star Wars: Visions:

BOOKS READ

An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green – This was fine. I’ve read a few John Green books after liking The Fault In Our Stars but none have been as good. I feel he was guilty of the “manic pixie dream girl” thing with Looking For Alaska & especially Paper Towns (god that girl was hateful!).

I think there was a danger this would be the case in this book too but he did a slightly better job with the “dream girl” this time. She was a little more real, at least. The two boys were Green’s usual sort of “quirky nerd” but at least they were pretty likeable. I think the story itself was a bit bland, though, and the boy’s obsession with creating a math formula (ugh, math!) to predict the probability of him being dumped again after being dumped by (19, I think) girls named Katherine got annoying. Meh. The book was okay but think I’ll forget it in a year. Better than Paper Towns, at least. – 2.5/5

Now Reading Billy Summers by Stephen King

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Just posting horror movie reviews for the rest of October. Hoping to maybe do a couple new horror-themed top ten lists as well. Depends how busy I get with real life.

I always end these posts with music from one of the movies I watched but I’ll go with the Squid Game soundtrack this time. Really liked the music in this show…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2021

Happy September. September?! Holy shit – when did that happen????

Here’s all I watched & read in August, spent mostly in bed recuperating after a hospital stay. So I was allowed to watch a lot of stuff (what else could I do??). 🙂

MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):

Man On Fire – I reviewed this in full at the link. I decided to finally watch it after seeing a thread on Twitter of movies with very different audience & critic ratings (audiences loved it & critics hated it). I really enjoyed it. No, it’s not some good “Oscar worthy” film but it’s a very enjoyable revenge thriller. And it may be predictable but the friendship between Denzel Washington’s & Dakota Fanning’s characters was fantastic & they worked so well together. Plus Denzel is always absolutely perfect in this type of role. Don’t listen to the critics! They need to learn to just enjoy movies sometimes. – 7/10

Fantastic Planet (French: La Planète sauvage, Czech: Divoká planeta) – Well, this was bizarre!! I won’t say much about it here as I reviewed it in full at the link. This is the strange sort of shit I’m always searching for as I get so bored with mainstream movies since I watch way too many. I’m not sure what the hell was going on but I liked it. It had surreal artwork & a trippy, groovy score so was my type of thing. It’s on the Roku Channel in the U.K. if you’re interested. Here’s the plot synopsis for this animated allegorical tale (from IMDb): “On a faraway planet where blue giants rule, oppressed humanoids rebel against their machine-like leaders.” And I’ll give you one more image below to give you an idea of the animation style… – 7/10

Once Upon A Time In America – Being stuck in bed recuperating after a hospital stay made me decide to finally watch this almost-four-hour epic because what the hell else was I going to do with my time? It’s also a part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge so it gets another movie crossed off of that list. I reviewed it in the full at the link so luckily don’t again have to say I didn’t love this film. Oops – Just said it! But I’m not a big gangster film fan & everyone was too hateful. I’m definitely a bigger fan of Leone’s Westerns but there’s no denying that this was still a good film even if I didn’t love it. – 7.5/10

Nomadland – And I watched this one while in the hospital as part of my Best Picture Project. Not gonna lie: It’s good but a bit boring. I’m gonna be real! Yes, I’ve ranked Man On Fire above this. Yes, Nomadland is certainly a better film than Man On Fire. But there are no butt bombs in this! I think it’s a deserving Best Picture Winner compared to the other nominees this year but, overall, it’s far from the best winner in the history of the Oscars.

I found the “houseless” lifestyle portrayed in this fascinating and guess I never exactly realized that there are people who live that way (but I’m a bit sheltered). I know there were real-life nomads playing characters in this & they were all very good. Frances McDormand, as always, was also very good as was David Strathairn. It’s not a film I can fault in any way & I thought they did a good job of portraying McDormand’s character’s heartbreak over the loss of her husband as well as her entire town & way of life. Yes, it’s a good film & deserves a higher rating. It’s just one of those movies that I feel I’ve seen once & have no need to see again. I miss having Oscar winning movies that I truly loved & enjoyed. – 7/10

Thrashin’ – Oh how I love finding ’80s movies that I somehow never saw at the time! I enjoyed this. Yes, it’s cheesy. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Two skateboarding gangs battle each other for supremacy, and a member of one gang falls in love with the sister of his rival.” It stars Josh Brolin as the main character with one of the two assholes from Weird Science (Robert Rusler) as his punk rock skateboarding rival. It also had one of the Lost Boys vampires, Sherilyn Fenn, and of course Tony Hawk with a cameo but it must have been very small because I didn’t notice him. Oh!!! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in this performing at some club or whatever. So that was cool – It made it feel a little more credible as this sort of California scene makes me think of the Chili Peppers. Romance & skateboarding rivalry in ’80s California. What more can you ask for from a movie?! I love the ’80s. I don’t care. I enjoyed this. (Kind of feel like giving it a higher rating but then it would be the same as what I gave a Best Picture Oscar winner….). – 7/10

Fear Street Trilogy: Fear Street Part One: 1994, Fear Street Part Two: 1978, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 – I reviewed this trilogy at the link so I’ll just say it was fun but certainly not perfect. It had a good soundtrack (especially 1978) & I’d say the overall story that runs through all three films does come together pretty well. Oh, it’s also super gory so don’t be fooled by the R.L. Stine name! These are full-on slashers. I’d watch more if they make more. The trilogy was clearly made by lovers of old school slashers & they did a decent enough job of trying to be like those. – Part One & Two: 6.5/10, Part Three: 6/10

Cruella – Also reviewed this at the link so I don’t have to bitch about it again here. Mainly, I was mostly annoyed that it didn’t totally suck like I was expecting. Okay – the story itself was stupid as shit & completely pointless. But, damn – it had some fun outfits and an absolutely kick ass soundtrack. Why did they have to use such good music in a stupid Disney live-action thing?! Ugh! I loved hearing so many good songs but, man, those songs deserve to be in far better films. – 6.5/10

The Goldfinch – First of all, I read this book and it felt like it took me FOREVER because it was so damn long (seriously – I think it took me about a year to read). It’s a long book and spends a very long time developing the characters and spans many years, so there was no way a 2 1/2 hour movie was going to do it justice. As much as I hate a mini series & dragging a story out for TV, I think this probably should’ve been a mini series instead. However, I thought the film did a surprisingly good job squeezing in so much of the story. It mainly skipped over the time the main character spends as a boy in Las Vegas which, to be fair, dragged on for way too long in the book anyway. The only thing that was a shame was that it meant cutting out quite a bit of the Boris character, who was possibly the best thing about the book (besides wondering what would happen with the painting).

I think the movie kind of made me further appreciate the book as it is actually a decent story. So I’m giving this a decent rating as the movie was far better than I was expecting. However, if you’ve not read the book, I think the movie would probably be difficult to follow as they really do gloss over stuff. I have a feeling that those who liked this movie did read the book first. But I’d only recommend the book if you like reading epic stories with fairly unlikeable characters. Not gonna lie – the book was a real slog to read. Maybe it’s why I quite liked the movie… I don’t know. It’s a hard one to recommend! I can understand why it got poor reviews but it’s a pretty damn good adaptation. I liked it. – 7/10

– Wonder Woman 1984 – Was glad to finally see this without extra cost but had extremely low expectations due to terrible reviews. Well, it’s not that bad. It’s certainly not as bad as its IMDb rating (5.4/10). Okay, it’s also not very good but I didn’t hate it. I thought the first Wonder Woman was quite good so it’s a shame this didn’t live up to it. I think Wonder Woman herself was perfectly fine in this, so they didn’t ruin the character, and the story wasn’t awful. I think the main two problems were 1. The movie was too damn long and 2. The villains were rubbish. Kristen Wiig’s wasn’t quite so bad & they did a decent job developing her character and letting us see her rise & fall. Pedro Pascal was terrible, however. I mean the character as well as the acting (sorry, I don’t think he’s very good despite loving The Mandalorian – that show would be just as good with a different actor). Oh – I also don’t think they did a very good job of making this look like it was set in 1984 just by throwing a few ugly outfits on people and having Chris Pine give a fashion show. And where was all the ’80s music?! Disappointing, as I love the ’80s. Meh. Whatever. There are far better superhero movies but also worse ones. I’m bored with them all. This one will just be very forgettable. – 6/10

Wish Dragon – This was fine. I don’t have a lot to say about this animated film other than that it was better than a lot of the stuff that slightly bigger studios such as DreamWorks put out. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon who shows him the magic of possibilities.” I liked the animation, the characters were likeable, and the dragon was fun (even though he was a bit too similar to Aladdin’s Genie). It’s also not quite as “kiddie” as it looks. It’s certainly appropriate for very young kids but I’d say preteens would be perfectly happy watching this too (the main boy & girl are 19 in this). Decent film for one that I believe went straight to Netflix? – 6.5/10

Bliss – I was really looking forward to seeing this as I really liked Mike Cahill’s Another Earth & especially I Origins. This one is unfortunately not nearly as good. I was intrigued by the concept & did like the story. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “A mind-bending love story following Greg who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel, a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation.” It started out okay but the story got messy & it just didn’t work as well as his other films. The biggest problem was that it felt completely miscast. Owen Wilson & Salma Hayek were okay but just didn’t really work together. They’re also too famous – This would have been better with lesser known actors. Too bad Cahill didn’t use his usual favorite, Brit Marling. She’d have been good. Oh well – I did still like the story so it was worth a watch but I’d highly recommend his other films first. – 6/10

Black Christmas (2019) – Er. Um. UGH. Okay… This movie was mostly pretty damn terrible but for some reason I kind of liked it? At least at the beginning – that all went out the window at the very end. Holy hell! What a pile of shit ending!!! First of all: Yes, I saw the original but it was many many years ago so I should probably rewatch it. So I won’t be comparing them as I don’t remember that one well enough. I just wish Blumhouse would stop rebooting or remaking (or whatever you want to call it) old horror films. Well, that’s plenty of studios, actually. And these newer films are sometimes so different than the originals that I don’t understand why they use the same name. No, I lie – they use the same name because they’re more likely to make money from a known name. Pisses me off. Honestly, they could’ve given this one a completely different name from the original as I don’t think they’re very similar beyond the setting.

So. They kind of had a good idea here but just did such an awful job of cramming the agenda into this film. Spoiler: It’s basically about the rape culture at universities. Which is an important and serious topic not really suited for this seriously stupid horror movie. To be fair, it maybe could have worked if the film had treated the topic more seriously and if the ending hadn’t been laughable. It’s a shame as a well written film on this topic could’ve turned out well. Maybe a more serious type of horror such as Midsommar? Hell, that’s basically a toxic-male-hating film too about slightly inattentive boyfriends, right?

I did really like Imogen Poots in this so luckily the main character was fine. I like her in most things but I mostly think I just love that name. POOTS! Imagine having to grow up with the name Poots!! Her main SJW best friend (sorry to use that phrase but it’s the whole point of that character) was okay but very quickly gets on your nerves as you’d expect. I did kind of like the one friend who was really dumb (she was also good in The White Lotus). And one other thing I did really like in this movie was their song. That was a good scene. I like seeing rapists named & shamed. So the movie started out well…

While I do think this movie ended up being dreadful thanks to its ridiculously over-the-top ending, I think it has been unfairly rated way too low on IMDb. 3.4/10?! Okay, that will be those who see it as having a man-hating agenda. I suppose it does but I think it could have gotten away with it & done a better job of making its point if the ending wasn’t SO in-your-face about, um, toxic masculinity. Dammit! This movie made me use the phrases SJW & toxic masculinity. Phrases I steer WELL clear of on Twitter! And I’ve written waaaaay more than I wanted to about a pretty bad horror movie. I just wish it had done a better job of making its point in a more subtle fashion. Cramming your beliefs down viewers’ throats never works, even when viewers agree with what you’re trying to say (as I do). – 5.5/10

The Big Year – This was fine? A very safe & inoffensive movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It was based on the 2004 nonfiction book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik. The book followed three men on a quest for a Big Year – a competition among birders to see who can see and identify the greatest number of species of birds in North America (north of Mexico) in a calendar year.” So it’s an intriguing story. I had no idea this was a real thing that people do?! Of course the characters themselves are fictional (Owen Wilson is especially over-the-top in his bird obsession) but it’s still interesting that people do this in real life. As I said, it’s just a very safe film. Pleasant. The kind of thing you can have on in the background while visiting with family on a Sunday afternoon. So… somewhat forgettable but was a nice watch & I always love Jack Black. Steve Martin was also good but Black was the best character & he was very understated compared to his usual sort of crazy antics. – 6/10

Over Her Dead Body – This sucked. Cliché & predictable every step of the way. The story is about a controlling woman (Eva Longoria) who dies on her wedding day (you’ll see the obvious death coming a mile away). She then haunts the first woman who shows an interest in her husband-to-have-been about a year later & tries to keep them apart. I 100% watched this because I love Paul Rudd. Who doesn’t?! A controlling dead bitch wouldn’t keep me away from him either! But, of course, she sees the error of her ways and that she needs to let him move on with his life. Duh. I’d have given a spoiler warning there but it’s not a spoiler when you already know the stupid ending from the very start. Whatever – it’s a dumb romcom & not trying to win Oscars or something. So I’ll be nice with my rating since Paul Rudd was of course adorable in this. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched:

Rear Window – Finally convinced my daughter to watch her first Alfred Hitchcock film! 🙂 And I started her on my favorite. I’ve always loved Rear Window & how we get a glimpse of various peoples’ lives through their windows. I was always most concerned about Miss Lonelyhearts & loved the newlywed couple who kept their blinds closed for days. Plus James Stewart is always great & Grace Kelly is gorgeous & classy in all her fancy outfits. I know I always wear a dress & pearls around the house like in the above photo! Such a fun & stylish film. Trying to convince the kid to watch The Birds next. Let’s have another look at Grace Kelly… – 9.5/10

The Lost Boys – YES! Adore this movie. And, yes, it’s my favorite vampire movie. Of course – I was a young teenager when it came out & had a crush on The Two Coreys. I don’t know what else to say about it but you’ll either love this lightweight teen horror comedy or you won’t. The characters are fun, everyone is young & pretty & super cool, and it has great quotables. Death by stereo! Love it. Oh, and it has that greased-up saxophone player. Hubba hubba. Maggots, Michael! You’re eating maggots! –9/10

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Reviewed this in full already for the big John Hughes Blogathon I did years ago. Obviously, I’m Gen X so naturally a big fan of John Hughes (which is why I did the blogathon). Still think this one is great although The Breakfast Club is still my favorite. – 9/10

Wreck-It Ralph – I liked this one a lot the first time I saw it but it grew on me more & more and it’s now easily one of my very favorites of modern-era animated Disney. I think the story is very clever and I love the characters (yes, even Vanellope although I’m sure she gets on some people’s nerves). And I like the Sugar Rush song (seriously – I have it on my Apple playlist). Is it normal for me as an adult to rewatch these movies as much as kids do?! – 8.5/10

Robin Hood (1973) – For whatever reason, I’d not watched this Disney movie a million times like a lot of the others so figured it was time for a rewatch as I didn’t remember it well. I really enjoyed it! Not sure why I never watched it much. The characters and a couple of the songs were fun. Glad I gave it a rewatch after all these years. – 7.5/10

Spider-Man (2002) – Not sure if I have the energy but think I need to rewatch all these Spider-Man movies before the new film comes out. Mainly need to watch with my daughter who hasn’t seen any pre-Tom-Holland ones. Wanted to watch the second of these before rating this one as I seem to remember it being quite good? I like this one, though. We’ll give it a 7 & see if 2 is a 7.5! Don’t remember loving any of the rest. Still think the first couple of Tobey Maguire ones are the best, though, even though I think Tom Holland is decent. – 7/10

Attack The Block – I really like this one although I can’t explain exactly why as the main characters are a group of young criminals. But the aliens are quite effective and it’s a decent alien invasion movie, which I always enjoy. – 7/10

Practical Magic – A bit girly for me but I have to like chick flicks sometimes, right?? – 6.5/10

The Island – Think this is pretty decent for a, uh, Michael Bay film. Until it turns too Michael Bay-like at the end. But it starts out well & the story is fine & Steve Buscemi is in it & Steve Buscemi rules. So, good enough. – 6.5/10

The Hole (2009) – Trying to ease the daughter into horror as she’s not a big fan like I was at her age. Well, she didn’t like this one. It’s a very odd film. Expected so much more from Joe Dante as Gremlins is awesome. But this one is weird. It’s not really scary but it’s hard to know what sort of age it’s aimed at as it IS far too scary for kids at least. But teens & older would mostly find it silly. I don’t think it’s a horrible film – I think it’s just one that would only be liked by a small percentage of people if they’re just the right sort of age when they watch it. I just don’t know what age that might be! 10/11/12, maybe? – 6/10

Okay – as I was stuck in bed for most of August, I usually had movies playing in the background so put on a lot of favorites. I’ve already reviewed most of them in the past: The Wizard Of Oz, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats (I love this one & think it’s an underrated Disney classic).

Shorts:

Short Circuit Shorts: Season 2 – These are really good animated shorts on Disney Plus. Of season two, Going Home really stood out. It was heartbreaking but a great short film.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Okay, I also watched way too many TV shows while stuck in bed. These are in no particular order…

The White Lotus – Enjoyed this! It’s certainly not for everyone but I liked the dark humor & the characters were good. And Jennifer Coolidge was as fun to watch as always. And, MAN, I hated that newlywed husband! What a prick. I also liked that it was a short series. I hate things that drag on for years. I think a new series will focus on new people? Will definitely check it out based on Season 1.

Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi, 僕だけがいない街) – This was quite good. I knew nothing about this Japanese anime series so am glad I gave it a chance. Here’s the IMDB synopsis: “29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma is sent back in time 18 years to prevent the events leading to his mother’s death, which began with a series of kidnappings while he was in 5th grade.” Again, I really liked the “one short series” thing.

Cruel Summer – This was kind of terrible and cheesy but I also kind of liked it? It was very “YA” and the acting was all pretty dreadful other than from the actress Olivia Holt. But I think I’ll forever be a sucker for YA drama. I don’t believe this was based on a book but this is exactly the kind of guilty pleasure YA stuff I still like to read. There’s a lot of back & forth as to who is telling the truth and you never know who to trust. It’s also set in the ’90s, which was fun, back when I was just a little older than these characters. It takes place in flashbacks all exactly three years apart in the two girls’ lives. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In a small Texas town, popular teen Kate, is abducted. Seemingly unrelated, a girl named Jeanette goes from being a sweet, awkward outside to the most popular girl in town, but by 1995 she has become the most-despised person in America.

Dark: S1 E1 – The hubby & I have decided to start watching this but have only seen one episode so I can’t say much yet. I’m certainly intrigued, though!! Very good first episode.

Nine Perfect Strangers: S1 E1-4 – My god – look at all these “adult drama” TV shows I watched in August! Not normally my type of thing. I’m liking this okay but The White Lotus was much better than what I’ve seen of this so far. Still interested to see what happens, though, and I think the acting is very good. I especially like Melissa McCarthy in this much more serious role & Bobby Cannavale. They’re really good so far. And I’m interested to see what will become of Regina Hall’s character (and all the guests, really).

Monsters At Work: S1 E6-9 – Yep – I love this show!! Said more about it HERE. Hope there’s a Season 2!

Steins;gate: S1 E1 – Decided to check out this anime series after really liking Erased. Well, the first episode hasn’t grabbed me. Will try a couple more…

The Crown: S4 E3-4 – Finally watching the Diana episodes I’ve been looking forward to for ages! I’m enjoying them but I don’t buy into the person playing Diana at all. Which is a shame.

TV Shows Rewatched:

Star Trek: The Next Generation: S1 – This is an all-time favorite of mine so am enjoying revisiting.

The Golden Girls: Various episodes – Can always stick on an episode of this to cheer me up. 🙂

Grey’s Anatomy: S1 – Daughter wanted to watch this as it’s her friend’s favorite show. Oh boy – I’d forgotten how inappropriate some of it is. But it’s rated 12, so, oh well – I guess I saw similar shows at her age. Anyway – I’ve watched this show for 17 years & have a love/hate relationship with it. Seeing Season 1 again was strange. It really was a better show at the start…

BOOKS READ

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (Four Story Collection: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life Of Chuck, If It Bleeds & Rat)Oops. I read another Stephen King book… Well, I enjoyed it. I always love his shorter story collections. I’ll say just a tiny bit about each. Not sure what to rate it as it’s good but not as strong as some of his other collections. I suppose I’d give the whole thing this: – 3.5/5

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – Really liked this very simple story of a boy who gifts an iPhone to an elderly neighbour. But the story of course gets a little more weird later on…

The Life Of Chuck – Thought this three-part story (told in reverse order) was interesting. The first story was really good & very clever when you later realise what’s going on. The second story was okay & the final one was good with the right amount of creepiness but also strong characters & not a full-on “horror”.

If It Bleeds – This is a short story continuing on from The Outsider (which I actually didn’t like very much). However, it revolves around one of my favorite new Stephen King characters: Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes. She’s a love her or hate her & I love her so like that King keeps using her as well as other likeable previous characters. So I enjoyed this story mainly because I got to revisit these characters again.

Rat – This is the most “Stephen King” story about a writer (shocker! can’t remember if he was also in Maine…) who makes a deal with a talking rat when he wishes to write a successful novel. It’s a twist on The Monkey’s Paw and is a better story than you’d think it could be considering it has a talking rat. But King can write the weird stuff well!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans for September but am considering doing October Horror Month again since I skipped it last year. But it would just be me reposting reviews of all the horror movies I’ve watched in the past year.

**I end these posts with a good song from one of the movies I watched but the Fear Street Trilogy & Cruella had LOADS of good songs! Well, I already posted David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World & I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges in those reviews. So here’s Time Of The Season by The Zombies (which was in Cruella):

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2021

Happy August! I’m very behind on this roundup. I’ve been in the hospital, though, so guess I have an excuse.

I managed to squeeze in 10 movies in July (plus 3 watched with the family). And one was started in June & I watched it in chunks over two months because I absolutely hated it (I can’t leave a movie unfinished). So here we go…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Wings Of Desire – I’d been wanting to see this for years after liking its (sort of) remake City Of Angels. They’re very different films, though, and this is certainly the better film. I’ve reviewed it in full at the link if you want to read more but I’ll just say it’s a lovely & way existential film & I’m happy to have finally seen it. It also has a lot in common with another favorite I’ve watched for the first time since starting this blog: A Matter Of Life And Death. I highly recommend both to fellow movie bloggers. Here’s the IMDb synopsis for Wings Of Desire if you’re curious: “An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal.” – 8/10

VFW – From Wings Of Desire to VFW! I have well-rounded movie tastes. I really enjoyed this one despite the extreme violence. I just really liked this group of old dudes! Especially loved that William Sadler was in this & he seemed to be having loads of fun in the role. He’ll always be my favorite Grim Reaper! Stephen Lang is great in the main role as a tough Vietnam veteran who has to defend his bar slash VFW post from crazed drug addicts who are after a girl who has taken shelter in the bar. Lang is one of those guys who has been in shitloads but I never really noticed him until he played that freak in Don’t Breathe (which I didn’t love). He’s perfect here, though, and I loved the main friendship he had with fellow veterans Sadler & Fred Williamson. And as if these three aren’t cool enough, they also crammed in other “Hey, it’s that guy” actors as further fellow veterans forced to kick ass in as many violent ways as possible. We also have The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai big baddie Martin Kove, George Wendt of Cheers fame, and David Patrick Kelly from the absolute classics The Warriors & The Crow. Oh, and the girl in this, Sierra McCormick, was in a very obscure film that I liked a lot called The Vast Of Night so it was cool seeing her although her character could’ve been a bit more likeable. She should’ve been more grateful to these old dudes whose lives she’s put in danger.

VFW has real Hobo With A Shotgun, Dredd, From Dusk Till Dawn, and even a bit of The Crow vibes going on. So if you like those, you’ll probably like this! Although it’s quite not as good as those (well, maybe as good as Hobo). A few days after watching this I also realized what else it is: It’s an example of every day on Twitter. Honestly. It’s the Boomers vs the Millennials. I wonder if that was on purpose?? And, being Gen X, I did the same thing we all do and just minded my own business while watching these people fight it out. Was definitely with the Boomers on this one, though. Loved seeing them kick ass. – 7/10

Waves – This is one of those depressing movies with good & powerful performances that was worth a watch but I sure as shit wouldn’t want to watch it again. It’s an interesting one as it’s very much two movies in one. I think a lot of people prefer the first half but it was too much for me. The first half is very chaotic, intensified by the music which was seriously stressing me out and you could tell it was all leading up to something bad happening (but I liked the use of Tame Impala at the start). And why was everyone in this movie always sticking their heads out the windows of moving cars – Have they not seen Hereditary?! I preferred the second half, which focused on the characters trying to put their lives back together and had some tender moments. I liked the younger sister the most, played by Taylor Russell from Escape Room (which I enjoyed even though it was stupid). The father, played by Sterling K. Brown who I liked a lot in Hotel Artemis, was also good but man was he difficult to like. He was way too hard on his son (which was part of the point of the movie). Well, it’s a good film with very good performances and I’d recommend if you like depressing human dramas. Maybe don’t watch it as a double feature with Requiem For A Dream. That would be a fun night! – 7/10

Cherry – This was a weird one. I think I liked it okay? Despite none of the characters being very likeable or sympathetic. I felt like this movie was trying too hard to be “worthy”, though. I felt like it had a good story (from the book Cherry partly based on the real life of author Nico Walker) but failed to make what could’ve been a truly great film out of it. I think the Russo Brothers were the wrong directors for it. Holland was good despite looking way too young for the role and therefore being hard to believe. I reviewed it at the link if you want to basically just read more of me bitching about the stars looking too young. – 6.5/10

Upstream Color – Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Mainstream Color is a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? And what was up with the pigs?! Well, I talked about it a bit more at the link but I certainly have no answers. Here’s the IMDb synopsis so you know what you’re getting into if you check this one out: “A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.” – 6.5/10

The Empty Man – Hmm. I suppose this was pretty decent for a modern horror film. So many people were going on about it that I decided to check it out on Disney Plus. I thought it started out pretty great. I really liked the stuff at the start on the mountain & thought it was still pretty good when the teenagers first got involved in the next section of the film. The movie also had a great creepy vibe, partly thanks to the music I think, so I was glad I was watching it alone late at night & getting the heebie jeebies a little as I find so few horror movies to be very creepy. I like being creeped out! Give me a creepy atmospheric supernatural horror over gory stuff. I’d say one thing in this was too violent for my taste (not sure why that one person had to die so violently?!) but otherwise it wasn’t too over the top. I think it just fell apart for me at the end. It was a decent story & I was certainly intrigued as to what was going on but, I dunno. The ending was okay but I do feel let down by horror movie endings the majority of the time for some reason. I guess I’ve seen far worse endings. Overall, this was pretty good compared to most the modern horror crap out there. Oh! And I really liked that creepy skeleton in that image. Kind of a spoiler but not really – it’s at the start of the film & is also what convinced me to watch this when someone posted that image on Twitter. – 6.5/10

The Most Dangerous Game – Saw this pop up on Amazon Prime & was aware of the story by Richard Connell being a classic (inspired by those rich assholes who hunt big game) so thought the 1932 film should be interesting. Plus I really enjoyed the 2020 film The Hunt! Not that they’re at all similar, of course, but the “hunting of humans” idea is the same. This was good but I wish I’d just looked it up on YouTube (it’s available) as the one on Prime is a horrible colorised version. Why do they do that?! Anyway, it was still a good film even with dodgy coloring. It’s a timeless story & works just as well today. Maybe even more so now, as hunting big game is somehow still a thing. How?!? The thought of the tables being turned is great. This version stars Joel McCrea, Fay Wray and Leslie Banks. Hey! The King Kong actress! I should really watch that version again. Anyway, she was good and far less “damsel in distress” than you’d expect in such an old film. I kept thinking she really looks like Penelope Ann Miller – she could have played her in her life story. I think this film has actually aged quite well & would recommend watching the black & white version on YouTube. – 7/10

Rango – As part of my Best Picture Project, I also named several Best International Features that I want to watch as well as the only TWO Best Animated Features I’ve not seen. Rango was one of them (the other is Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which I can’t say I’m really looking forward to). Rango is a weird one! I enjoyed it & I liked some of the quirky & somewhat adult humor. Best Animated Oscar material, though?? Nah. Must have been no Disney or Pixar movies that year! Guess I better go look… Yep! That was the case. The other nominees were A Cat In Paris, Chico And Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Puss In Boots. Weak year! So I’d say, in this case, it was worthy of the win although my vote would’ve gone to Kung Fu Panda 2. But Rango was a fun film & I enjoyed Johnny Depp being his great old-school Johnny Deppiest as Rango (before all that Amber drama). And it clearly kept referencing the Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas look (right?), again reminding me that I still need to see that film as well. – 6.5/10

Stowaway – I liked this Netflix film. It could’ve been better but it certainly could’ve been much worse. I really liked the story & the moral dilemma that occurs, although having no explanation whatsoever as to how this guy ended up as a stowaway on this spaceship thingy was kind of strange. So don’t expect to find out how he ended up there! I thought it dealt with the overall story well, though, and I liked the characters and the ending. Plus I’m always a sucker for sci-fi. I don’t think it deserves as low of a rating as it has on IMDb. – 6/10

Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar – What the hell was this shit?! Man, I really don’t get on with modern “comedies”. To be fair, I did like these two main characters (played by Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo). They did make me giggle a few times & I thought “I wish these characters were in a better movie”. The story with the “baddie” was stupid as hell & my least favorite thing about the movie. It’s a very weird film, although I do like a bit of weird humor so didn’t hate all of it. Sometimes weird works & sometimes it doesn’t (like the dumb plot with the evil woman & Jamie Dornan’s stupid dance number). Meh. I guess I’ve seen worse. At least the two main characters were fun. – 5/10

Margaret – This was the movie I watched in chunks over two months because OH MY GOD I HATED IT but I had to finish the damn thing since I don’t like to leave movies unfinished. Is it a bad film? No. Does it have some of the most hateful characters I’ve ever seen in a movie? Yes. I have no desire to watch some horrible teenager be a complete bitch for TWO AND A HALF PAINFUL HOURS. Most everyone in this was hateful but Anna Paquin’s character really took the fucking cake. And I like Allison Janney & think she’s a good actress but that ridiculous overacting during the death scene was cringeworthy. I just didn’t understand most of these characters’ reactions or intentions, especially Paquin’s. What was she trying to accomplish?? The death was her fault as well (though more the driver’s as its his responsibility). Oh, the story is that she distracts a bus driver who ends up running over & killing a woman. Then Paquin is a complete bitch for the next two hours but doesn’t actually seem to feel any guilt over the incident anyway so god knows why she’s so utterly repulsive. Ugh. Hated this movie & these characters so much. I didn’t exactly love Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea either but it was much better than this. The people in that film were also horrible at times but at least you did feel sympathy for them and understood why they were so broken. Those in Margaret had no excuses for their awful behavior. I’ll never understand movies that want us to watch hateful, unsympathetic (and uninteresting) characters for two and a half hours. Two and a half hours!!!! Sorry I keep mentioning the length – it was just a looooooong & painful film to have to suffer through. I’m being nice with my score since, um, I dunno… He’s a “worthy” filmmaker so I don’t dare give it lower, I guess. – 4/10

Movies Rewatched:

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – What can I say? This movie came out when I was a teenager & I still love it & adore the characters of Bill & Ted. These dudes are so fun & loveably dumb. It’ll always be a favorite movie of mine. I don’t see how anyone could watch this movie without a big, goofy grin on their face. And I love that my daughter loves it too – she’s the one who insisted that we rewatch this one again. – 9/10

Independence Day – Always liked this film but hadn’t rewatched it in years. Has it aged well? Fairly well, but it does feel dated in that way that many ’90s movies do. I don’t know what it is, but ’90s movies have aged badly. People dump on ’70s & ’80s movies sometimes but the very best from those decades have held up very well and there are loads of absolute classics from then. Anyway, I still enjoyed this one again despite the cheesiness. I really liked this era of action-star Will Smith when he was in a lot of good movies. And I still like Brent Spiner in this, which made my Star Trek TNG-loving nerd very happy in 1996. Still a fun guilty pleasure. – 7.5/10

Shorts:

Short Circuit Shorts: Season 1– Watched all of these Disney Plus shorts & thought they were quite good. All were very colorful & had good stories. I especially liked Downtown, Drop & Jing Hua. Enjoyed these more than the SparkShorts & thought they seemed more polished than those (but I think that’s the point of those so I’m not dissing them). It was nice that each had a small intro with the creators discussing the shorts as well. I love all the shorts on Disney Plus & have watched them quite a bit. I sometimes wonder if anyone else watches them or if most just watch the films.

The Simpsons: The Good, The Bart And The Loki – This was cute. I’m enjoying these Simpsons shorts they’ve been doing on Disney Plus. The Star Wars one was better, though.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

DOCUMENTARIES/MISCELLANEOUS:

Who Are You, Charlie Brown? – Enjoyed this documentary on Apple TV+. I’m a HUGE Peanuts fan. I liked that this documentary included a new Peanuts cartoon in between the interviews with people discussing what the comics meant to them. It’s an odd selection of guests and I know some people feel it has an agenda (I think the point, though, is that Peanuts had a wide appeal and many people were able to identify with at least one of the characters). I’m happy to know that my favorite, Drew Barrymore, is also a Peanuts fan as she was one of those being interviewed. And of course Kevin Smith is in this too – is there anything that dude isn’t a fan of?! I like Charles Schulz & he seemed like a good man with common sense beliefs.

I’m happy that one of the final things we did pre-pandemic was go to a great Charles Schulz exhibition up in London. It was brilliant & I got loads of photos of my beloved daughter with my beloved Snoopy. Also have a picture of me in Lucy’s “psychiatric help” booth thingy that I thought of posting here but I don’t know how to make photos not be HUGE and I don’t want to scare anyone with my huge not-properly-resized face. Anyway – that was a great time & I’m so glad we did that. I will always adore the Peanuts characters. And I think that Snoopy is one of the all-time greatest creations in this world. Love that cheeky beagle!

Anthrax Interviews – Thank you to the hubby for sending me a link that has a load of videos where Anthrax discuss their career. He sent it because of one video where Keanu Reeves discusses how he ended up in the Anthrax video Safe Home (you can find the article & links to that as well as all of the videos at Metal Sucks HERE). He knows I love Anthrax and Keanu! Really enjoyed watching that & Reeves is SO damn sweet & lovable as always. He’s such a lovely, positive dude & it’s great that so many people now realize it & that he’s so respected & liked now. (But he’s OURS – Gen X have always loved Reeves & we’re the ones who made him famous. Younger people can like him too but he’s OURS). 😉

I accidentally clicked the wrong link when looking for the Reeves video & ended up being treated to another fantastic video where they talk about doing the music for the John Carpenter movie Ghosts Of Mars. John Carpenter is also in the video talking about how he enjoyed working with Anthrax for the film and I loved how much the band were freaking out & being total fanboys about working with the brilliant Carpenter. Here’s the link to the Carpenter episode.

TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked in any specific order because I can’t decide the order since so many of these are good…)

Monsters At Work: S1 E1-5 – I’m enjoying this probably way too much for an adult. Well, for a person of adult age, I should say. It’s good!! I adore Monsters, Inc & Mike Wazowski is one of my favorite animated characters (helps that I love Billy Crystal). I really thought it would focus only on the new characters but we get loads of Mike & Sulley in each episode too. Yay! Plus, my favorite bit, Mike’s Comedy Class as an end bit to each episode. But the newly added characters are great too, so the whole thing works very well.

Sweet Tooth: S1 – As a family, we’ve really struggled to find one good TV series suitable for all of us. We also like stories that are a little “weird” or sci-fi and not very mainstream most of the time so it’s hard to find TV shows that the three of us like. Am so glad we gave this a try! Liked this a lot and we’re all really looking forward to the next series (well, think the hubby & I liked it slightly more than the daughter but she did enjoy it too). It’s about time Netflix gave us a show that’s not a huge disappointment! Well, Stranger Things was great for series one but then took a huge poop. Hopefully Sweet Tooth stays good…

Lisey’s Story – Okay, this was a weird one. I can see people not liking this but, having read and liked the book a lot, I would have said it would be an extremely hard story to adapt. To be fair, I think they did as well as they could with a very strange story. I’d obviously recommend the book first but did enjoy seeing this interpretation, especially the world of “Boo’ya Moon”. I thought that world was quite effective & eerie. So I enjoyed this but would very much hesitate to recommend it to anyone other than hardcore Stephen King fans who’ve read the book.

Ted Lasso: S2 E1-2 – So… I’ve had to cancel Apple TV+ to save some money. It’s why I quickly watched Lisey’s Story & the first two episodes of this. Broke my heart, as this show is so sweet & funny and always a good pick-me-up. 😦 I figure I’ll get it again in the future & binge all of season 2. The first episode with the dog incident was hilarious & I loved the Magnolia references.

Loki: S1 E5-6 – Enjoyed this series but still like WandaVision the most of the newest Marvel shows on Disney Plus. I’d say I liked the start of this series more than the end, but know the end is important for setting up the next movies & all that. But, not being a reader of the comics or having any knowledge of the “baddie”, it didn’t mean much to me. Still a good series, though, and not a snoozefest like The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.

The Crown: S3 E8-10, S4 E1-2 – I finally made it to the Diana episodes! They’re fine. As I’ve said, I don’t like this “second cast” at all compared to the first cast in the first seasons. The same goes for Diana – I don’t buy that person as Diana just because of a similar haircut & all the annoying head-tilting. But the story is still fascinating (despite not being fully true, I know I know) so I’m still enjoying watching it.

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 E14-17 – That was the end of the season?! Didn’t even realize I was watching the finale. No one died! None of the usual tragedies & cliffhangers!! Series 17: The Covid Series. What a drag that was! Hopefully this means they’re at least doing one more season since I doubt they’d end on such a dud.

My Hero Academia: S1 E1 – I’d forgotten we watched an episode of this to check the appropriateness for the kid. It was fine but am sure it gets better. May watch more but it’s Demon Slayer that I really want to watch (but that does sound way too violent to be a family-watch).

Toradora! – Just mentioning this as I’ve seen bits & pieces as my daughter watches it so much. Maybe I can get her to review it like she did HERE for Jungle Cruise! So I can’t say much as I don’t pay much attention. All I know is that the girl in it seems extremely high maintenance and everyone is SO dramatic in that way all anime teens seem to be. And one episode seemed to be about everyone obsessing over boobs as the teens all had to wear swimsuits for their boy/girl swimming classes so the material seems a bit iffy at times! Oh well. Teen issues & dramas, I guess.

Love, Death & Robots – S1 E3: The Witness – I hated this. I’ve only seen three of these episodes now & two of them were far too violent & gratuitous with the female nudity. Gross. Were these made by horny teenage boys? I wanted to watch cute & cool robots. Hell, this one didn’t even have any fucking robots!! This series has such a high IMDb rating but I have zero desire to watch more based on two of the three that I’ve seen.

BOOKS READ

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman – Look! I read something other than a Stephen King book! I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the film). But what really blew me away was the short story at the end of that book: Ghastle And Yule. Absolutely brilliant! I loved it so much that I tweeted the author about it (I never do that) and got a nice reply. So I’ve decided that I want to read all his stuff now (though his stuff isn’t always the easiest to get a hold of). After Bird Box I read Black Mad Wheel, from the library, and now this which showed up on Amazon for only £2 for the paperback. Good deal!

What I like so far about Malerman is that he doesn’t stick to just one genre. For the most part, they’ve all been a little bit on the weird or supernatural side of things (which is right up my alley). This one is kind of a Western but with supernatural elements. I liked it. Probably my third favorite of the three full-length novels I’ve read but I’ve liked all I’ve read so far so am looking forward to reading more of his work. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Only three people know Carol Evers’ secret. Her best friend, who’s dead. Her husband, who hates her. Her ex-lover, who left her. Carol suffers from a dreadful affliction which makes her fall into long comas, waking slumbers indistinguishable from death. Her husband Dwight wants her next “death” to be her last. He will claim her fortune by pronouncing her dead … and burying her alive. The infamous outlaw James Moxie, once Carol’s lover, rides the Trail again – pursued by murder and mayhem – to save the woman he loves. And all the while, Carol is a prisoner in her own body. hearing her funeral plans, summoning every ounce of will to survive…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Work. Sleep. Watch movies.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Everything!!! 😦 The Suicide Squad, Jungle Cruise, Black Widow, Escape Room 2, The Forever Purge, A Quiet Place Part II which I think has come & gone plus whatever else is currently out & coming out soon. I’m not keeping track of cinema releases since I’m not ready to go back to cinemas & have people breathing all over me (to be fair, I wasn’t a fan of having people anywhere near me before the pandemic). But I really am missing new releases!

I suppose the music clip that I should end this post with today is Safe Home by Anthrax featuring the lovely Keanu Reeves:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2021

Well, I posted a “Goodbye” post last week but I already had this post 90% written so there was no point keeping it in Drafts. I’ve now negotiated new marital terms & conditions and I might be allowed to watch some movies in July. So, yay, I guess maybe I’ll have some movies for a “July Roundup” post next month & this won’t have to become a cooking blog! Good, because I don’t want to learn how to cook.

So here are the SIXTEEN MOVIES I watched in June. Hope that number is acceptable!

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

Gandhi – I finally made myself watch a film that fulfils both my Best Picture Project AND my IMDb Top 250 Challenge! It was between this & Lawrence Of Arabia which I also really need to get around to watching. Gandhi won because, I’ll be totally honest, it’s about half an hour shorter. Well, this film is fantastic & I’m so glad I finally took the time to watch it. In fact, I can now say I have a new “best & favorite film watched in 2021” so I’m happy enough to take a small movie break now since I’ve finally watched a truly great film.

I’m absolutely rubbish when it comes to having, well, pretty much any historical knowledge. So I admittedly knew very little about Gandhi & can’t comment on this film’s accuracy, though what little I’ve read since seems to be what I saw in this movie. But, as a film, it’s excellent and fully deserving of a Best Picture Oscar. Remember when Best Pictures gave us truly epic filmmaking like this?! I miss those days. Let’s see what it beat: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Missing, Tootsie & The Verdict. Well, I’ve only seen Tootsie & E.T., which I love, but I think I can safely say that Gandhi is the clear winner here despite not seeing the other two. Gandhi won eight of its eleven nominations. Richard Attenborough also deservingly won Best Director & Ben Kingsley won for his absolutely brilliant performance as Mahatma Gandhi. It was worth watching just for his performance, as I thought it was truly one of the best performances I’ve ever seen (and I watch a lot of movies – just ask my family!). But, luckily, the movie lived up to its great central performance as well. I feel the actors can sometimes outshine a film & I prefer a really good film to a really good performance. I was very happy to get both in this case.

When it comes to movies like these, I don’t know what else to say. The awards were rightly deserved & I highly recommend it to all film lovers. A great film is a great film. What annoys me is that this film is shockingly not in the IMDb Top 250 anymore. I’m still working off the 2013 Top 250 list and classics such as Gandhi are being replaced by too many current releases now such as the Marvel superhero films. I think IMDb need to re-think how they determine what ends up in the 250! Infinity War is NOT better than Gandhi. Ridiculous! I know it’s just a stupid list but people do look at it & really good old films are now not getting the recognition they still deserve. – 8.5/10

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Not entirely sure why but I really liked this movie. Just like with The Woman In The Window, I read the book in preparation for the film but then the movie took years to come out so I don’t even really remember the book now. Why didn’t this film come out in the U.K. until 2021?! So I re-read my mini-review of the book (HERE) & I was very meh about it. I think, in the film, I could just really relate to Cate Blanchett’s character. Not her genius, of course, because I suck at everything – I mean her social awkwardness & introversion. She’s a good character & I felt for her losing her way & giving up on something she loved. And I had completely forgotten this was a Richard Linklater film (so I may be in trouble for watching this alone as the hubby & I are both fans but I can’t see him liking this). It’s not as good as his best movies but it’s still a decent film – it’s just very unlike his other stuff. Not everyone will go for this but I think those who buy into Blanchett’s quirky character will enjoy it. – 7/10

From Here To Eternity – Another movie watched for my Best Picture Project! I’m on a roll! This was also good but not nearly as good as Gandhi. I of course have wanted to see this for years because of that kiss on the beach scene up there. It’s one of those scenes where, unfortunately, it’s not as romantic as I was expecting. In fact, the guy is sort of a jerk in the scene (but I know this was set during WWII and women were treated differently then – I don’t judge old movies based on modern values). Anyway, that’s now three Deborah Kerr movies I’ve watched this year so I’m on a roll with her too! I preferred the others, Black Narcissus & The Innocents, but she was really good in all of these & I’m amazed I’d seen her in so little before now. Everyone was good in this & I was surprised to see Donna Reed as she’s so linked to It’s A Wonderful Life for me. But I was most surprised to like Frank Sinatra’s character the most as I wasn’t really a fan of him as a person. But his character was a strong one & I thought he was really good in this. It’s a good film & probably worthy of its Best Picture Oscar but it’s not going to be a favorite of mine of all the winners. Here’s what it beat: Julius Caesar, The Robe, Roman Holiday & Shane. I’ve only seen the latter two but I’d say the three I’ve seen are equally good. – 7/10

Raya And The Last Dragon – Managed to review this in full at the link. I enjoyed this. I’m always excited for a new animated Disney film but this didn’t quite live up to other recent ones such as Moana. Still a fun film, though, and Raya as a character is a good addition to all the other strong female Disney characters. – 7/10

One Cut Of The Dead (カメラを止めるな!, Kamera o Tomeru na!) – This was fun! I found it weirdly…. Wholesome? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.” This is a Japanese horror comedy (or, I guess, a ZomCom) & it’s one where you’re better off not knowing too much before watching it. It also gets better as it goes along so stick with it – I really enjoyed the final act of this movie when it all comes together. The characters were good & I liked the family of three who are involved in the film (especially the mother who goes a little overboard). And it’s not at all “gory” so is worth a watch if you want a lighthearted ZomCom. This was on Film4 in the U.K. but, sadly, I think it has disappeared by now. Sorry! I should review movies while they’re still available to watch. – 7/10

Misbehaviour – I really enjoyed this film based on an interesting true story despite my weird hatred for Keira Knightley (her acting bothers me yet I seem to watch all her damn movies?!). I’ve already reviewed it in full so here’s the very basic IMDb synopsis: “A group of women hatch a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.” Recommended if you want to watch some women try to bring down the patriarchy & all that. – 7/10

Timecop – This is now the second Jean-Claude Van Damme film I’ve ever watched after seeing Bloodsport a couple of months ago. Goddamn, that movie was FUN! I liked it so much I gave it a full-length review HERE. It was cheesy & cliché & just the right amount of ridiculous to make it into that “so bad it’s good” category (like my beloved Road House!). Timecop, unfortunately, was not nearly as much fun but I did still quite enjoy it and also give it a full review at the link. I’m totally going to watch more Van Damme movies because I want to see how many different ways he can do those sexy splits. – 6.5/10

Shoplifters Of The World – I reviewed this as well. I liked the idea behind it but the way they shoved The Smiths & quotes from their songs very awkwardly into this story as much as possible sadly felt too forced. Here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in Denver, four friends reel from the sudden break up of The Smiths, while the local radio station is held at gunpoint by a fan, forcing a disgruntled heavy metal DJ to play The Smiths all night.” Yeah, that’s a great idea and could’ve been a great movie if done right. I still enjoyed it, though, and liked hearing all The Smiths songs in it. But for a movie that better incorporated a band’s music into an interesting story, I far preferred Yesterday with all of The Beatles music. – 6.5/10

Kajillionaire – As I said recently in my Butt Boy review, I like weird movies. This is mainly because I watch so many films that it’s nice to see ones that aren’t so predictable for a change. But the weird movies are rarely good movies & some are just plain bad. I’m not sure how I feel about this weird one about a family of three who try to get through life by engaging in small crimes. It’s not bad but I found it a bit of a chore to sit through and it wasn’t weird enough to keep me truly interested. Evan Rachel Wood was interesting as the very awkward daughter & I liked her relationship with Gina Rodriguez who befriends her & joins the family in their petty crimes. They were fun but the parents were hateful. It’s an awkward film and the tone was all over the place. It’s a hard one to describe. I did enjoy watching something so different & unpredictable, though. Glad I watched it but I wouldn’t watch it again. – 6.5/10

Poms – I liked this! It was a bit dumb but fun. I’ve noticed I’m liking movies about old women more & more lately and I realised it’s probably because I’m getting soooo old & that’s depressing. But I’ve loved The Golden Girls since a young age so maybe I just like fun female friendships. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Poms is a 2019 American comedy film directed by Zara Hayes, starring Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Celia Weston, Alisha Boe, Phyllis Somerville, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill, and Rhea Perlman. The film follows a group of women from a retirement community who decide to start a cheerleading squad.” As you can see it has an impressive cast & I especially enjoyed the friendship between Diane Keaton & Jacki Weaver. The movie is a bit silly & slightly far-fetched at times but it’s a nice story about friendship & living your life. – 6.5/10

When A Stranger Calls – I’d been wanting to see this 1979 horror classic for years! “Have you checked the children?” Such a famous line & I think every teen in the ’80s knew where those calls were coming from even if we hadn’t seen this movie. And, yeah, the beginning of this movie is GREAT. The beginning, as a short story on its own, is a classic. I have a feeling that the beginning bit is all that anyone truly remembers because, man, this one falls apart in the middle. It kind of completely goes in a different direction & we don’t see Carol Kane again until the very end when it finally picks up slightly again. So I’m glad I finally watched this but it felt like I’d already seen it since I knew all about the beginning. Didn’t realize there would be so little of that good stuff & then the rest of the movie would drag. But I’m still giving it an extra half a point for having such a well known & often spoofed beginning. – 6.5/10

Saint Maud – Watched this British psychological horror as so many went on about it but it’s one of those films being raved over for the performance. And I agree that Morfydd Clark was very good so this was worth watching for that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The story follows hospice nurse Maud (portrayed by Morfydd Clark), a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, who becomes obsessed with a former dancer in her care (Jennifer Ehle), believing she must save her soul.” The movie is fine but does drag a bit. I did like the slowly building tension, though, and thought the ending was good. Not one I’d watch again but am glad I checked out. I recommend it only if you like the more serious type of horrors with good acting. Oh! And was I going crazy or did her face do a weird Soundgarden Black Hole Sun video thing a couple of times when she was having one of her God orgasms?? That was kind of freaky fun. – 6.5/10

Martha Marcy May Marlene – This was okay but not really my sort of thing. I think I put it on as I’m always a little fascinated by cults. As in, I don’t understand how people end up in them. I barely like people as it is so why would I want to live with a bunch of weirdos and have to farm & cook & clean for the rapey men?? I wouldn’t say this film is a good exploration of cults & the thinking involved as you really get NO backstory on how Elizabeth Olsen’s character ended up in this cult or why she chose to stay or even why she chose to leave. I guess it’s a character study film & is more about the performances, which were fine. I suppose it’s a hard topic to explore, though, as I think it’s quite a hard thing for most people to understand. Well, as I said the performances were fine & Elizabeth Olsen gets naked a lot if you want to see that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The plot focuses on a young woman suffering from delusions and paranoia after returning to her family from an abusive cult in the Catskill Mountains.” – 6.5/10

Luca – This movie was very sweet & the characters were likeable and I don’t feel right saying anything bad about it as it was so wholesome. But I mostly just found it boring. Unfortunately, it’s just not up to Pixar standards (but those standards are very high). – 6/10

Antebellum – This was… Okay? I really like Janelle Monáe & she was the main reason I watched this so I wish it had been a better film for her. I think the idea for the story was good enough but the execution was pretty terrible. And Jena Malone was awful – I seem to always really dislike her acting (especially after she screwed the dead person in that stupid The Neon Demon pile of shit). I think her performance, as well as that of all the one-dimensional “baddies”, really hurt this movie. But more than anything, I think the big twist being SUCH a huge rip-off of a well known director’s movie really didn’t help (don’t want to name the director but you’ll know exactly what movie I mean if you watch this). It just made me think of how well the other director pulled off that twist & that it was a much better film than this one. Disappointing. – 6/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous

Concert Film:

Stop Making Sense – I don’t really know what to say about a concert film. Weirdly, as a huge lover of movies as well as music, I for some reason never really watch any concerts. But I love the Talking Heads and this has had such great reviews that I decided to check it out since it’s now on Amazon Prime U.K. Yep – it’s great! David Byrne especially is so damn talented & I’ll always love that brilliant voice of his. It’s fantastic how it starts out so stripped down with only Byrne onstage then continues to build & build. I loved it but, hey, you have to love the band to love the concert, right? I’d definitely recommend this but only to Talking Heads fans or to those who maybe don’t know their stuff but want to check it out (makes me sad to type that but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m super old & some readers may not have even heard of the Talking Heads). Hey, my preteen loves them! Especially Psycho Killer. Hmm. Does that make me a good or a bad parent?! (I think it makes me cool). 🙂 – 8/10

Shorts:

Us Again – Enjoyed this lovely short on Disney Plus (which I think was meant to be the one before Raya And The Last Dragon?). Could very much relate to the feeling of being old & not living life to its fullest. Also a nice love story in this one. Very sweet.

Launchpad Shorts On Disney Plus:

Watched this new series on Disney Plus as well. All good & worth a quick watch. I won’t go into the details of each but I’ll rank them starting with my favorite. The two kids were so cute in The Little Prince(ss)…

The Little Prince(ss)
American Eid
The Last of the Chupacabras
Growing Fangs
Let’s Be Tigers
Dinner Is Served

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

BOOKS READ

The Running Man by Stephen King – Finally finished re-reading The Bachman Books collection. The Long Walk is still easily my favorite, Rage is okay, and Roadwork is a bit crap. The Running Man is my second favorite of the four. I think it’s a good story & am looking forward to the new film adaptation from Edgar Wright (if that’s still happening??). But I did also really like the Schwarzenegger film which, if I remember, was nothing whatsoever like the book anyway?! Need to rewatch that now to refresh my memory of that too. What can I say? I like dystopian future stories and I liked this world where people have to “play for their lives” on game shows. I didn’t find this story very far-fetched when I first read it over 20 years ago & I find it even more plausible now. The ending is maybe a little silly but, whatever – it’s Stephen King! Who cares. I’m a fan. I feel like I’ve read only Stephen King books in 2021, though. Hmm. Oh well – libraries have been closed thanks to the pandemic & I mainly only buy King’s stuff these days so it’s pretty much all I have to read in the house. 🙂 – 3.5/5

Later by Stephen King – Stephen King again! This is the third of his in this Hard Case Crime series & I’ve enjoyed them all. They’re much shorter & “lighter” reads than his huge horror tomes. This is probably my least favorite of the three, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s about a kid who sees dead people (yeah, kind of like in The Sixth Sense but not really & they do reference that film in this). It’s a solid ghost story with a likeable kid. It’s possibly a little forgettable but it’s a quick & fun read. My favorite in this series is still Joyland, which I loved, and second is The Colorado Kid which felt very different from King’s “horror” stories. Maybe I should check out some of the many non-King books in this series?? – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Keeping what I say very short!!

Loki: S1 E1-4 – Enjoying this!! Liking it FAR more than The Falcon & The Winter Soldier but still prefer WandaVision.

Children Of The Stones: S1 E4 – Still liking this & wish the hubby would make the time to finish it with me!!! I reviewed what I’ve seen so far HERE if you’re wondering what the heck this is.

My Name Is Earl: S2 E5-9 – Still funny!

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 E10-13 – Still annoying!

The Masked Dancer U.K. – This was a bit stupid & I can’t for the life of me remember who won.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Need to watch fewer movies (not my choice!) but plan to be back in August with a post of what I watched in July.

I always end with music I liked in a movie I watched. Screw The Smiths – I have to go with something from Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense! BUT, I just have to go with this Kermit The Frog version of one of my all-time favorite songs: Once In A Lifetime…

The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn (Book Review)

Back before the apocalypse, I used to try to read books just before the movie adaptations came out. Think this movie was originally meant to be out in 2019, so I read the book at the start of 2019. Then the movie was delayed. Then 2020 went to shit, as we all know, and poor Gwyneth Paltrow was forced to eat BREAD.

Well, it’s now May 2021 and I think this is coming to U.K. Netflix today?? So here’s the super brief & rubbish review I wrote of the book in February 2019. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie since I barely remember the story now and can be surprised by the ending. 🙂

The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn

Plot Synopsis (via Amazon):
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

My Thoughts:

I read this as it’s being made into a movie starring my beloved Amy Adams. It’s a fun ’90s-style “cheesy thriller” like I was talking about in my Single White Female review (though not as much fun). It starts out great and I loved the mystery and trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Unfortunately, like most of these sort of thrillers (other than Malice, a guilty pleasure of mine despite Gwyneth being in it!), this one kind of craps out in the end. Disappointing as I was pretty into the story while reading it. It felt a lot like when I read The Girl On The Train – It’s a real page-turner but, by the end, I felt pretty “meh” about it. It’s better than The Girl On The Train, however, since the characters aren’t hateful as hell.

I also loved the Rear Window aspect to this (my favorite Hitchcock film) and how the character had a thing for classic black & white Hitchcock-like films (I’ve added some movies to my Watchlist thanks to this book). Overall, it’s a fun read. It’s slightly forgettable but should make for a decent enough film.

My Rating: 3/5

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2021

Happy May! I watched way too many movies in April. I actually managed to review some, too! I’ll post the links to those & discuss the rest below. Here’s a quick list of everything I watched & read:

Promising Young Woman, Spontaneous, Swallow, Bloodsport, Battleship Potemkin, The Innocents (1961), Audition, Sound Of Metal, Cat People, House On Haunted Hill, Love And Monsters, Splinter, Palm Springs, Bad Girls, The Fundamentals Of Caring, Run, Teen Spirit, The House Of Tomorrow, Thunder Force, My Octopus Teacher, Pick Of The Litter, Tell Me Who I Am, The Sound Of Music, Cast Away, The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, An American Tail, Gregory’s Girl, Happy Gilmore, The Present, A Love Song for Latasha, Two Distant Strangers, Dollar Babies Stephen King Shorts & the book Roadwork by Stephen King

MOVIES WATCHED IN APRIL (ranked best to worst):

Promising Young Woman – I managed to review this in time for the Oscars. I really liked this one. Full review in the link. – 8/10

Spontaneous – Also reviewed in the link. I loved this movie! Darkly funny & deeply upsetting with great performances from its two leads. – 8/10

Swallow – Another one I reviewed. It’s very disturbing but also a very beautiful looking film. I liked this one quite a lot but would be reluctant to recommend it (it’s about a woman who swallows dangerous objects). Along with the two above this, I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched this year. Full review in the title link and one more image below to show the look of this movie. – 8/10

Bloodsport – Reviewed this as well because I had so much fun watching it and seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme doing painful looking splits through the whole thing. It’s a terrible movie but I tried to explain in my review why I’ve ranked it above things such as the next two movies, which are classics & obviously much better films. But this one was more fun! Here’s a picture of him doing those splits… – 7.5/10

Battleship Potemkin – Watched this for my IMDb Top 250 Project. Think I’d been avoiding this as I thought it was a war movie but was intrigued when I realised it was a silent film from 1925. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel’s officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Mutiny! I like a good mutiny! I’m so glad I gave this a go. It’s a fantastic film. It’s one of those old films that’s just as relevant today. It has police brutality & people fighting back against unfair treatment. It’s surprisingly brutal for the time and a powerful film. It also has the above scene which I assume inspired a similar scene in The Untouchables (another brilliant film). I recommend this one, which is still on U.K. Prime. It’s also very short, not that it should matter, but it was easy to squeeze in a 75 minute film. I should also point out that the movie is based on the real Potemkin battleship. According to Wikipedia (if you want to read more about it): “The Russian battleship Potemkin became famous when the crew rebelled against the officers in June 1905 (during that year’s revolution), which is now viewed as a first step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.” – 7.5/10

The Innocents (1961) – I’d been wanting to see this for years. It’s one of many adaptations of the famous 1898 story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve not read the story, although I really want to now, and I had somehow managed to completely avoid having it spoiled for me in all this time. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be about and I was way off!

This sort of story is so my kind of thing. I love supernatural and I love creepy and I especially love creepy kids (and they’re always extra creepy in old movies). Here’s the very simple IMDb synopsis: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.” I should say that I watched this live on Talking Pictures TV (U.K.). They have a really interesting selection of old films so I recommend checking out their schedule or following them on Twitter (thanks to the hubby for telling me about the channel!).

I don’t really know what to say about this one. For one thing, I want to stay spoiler free for anyone who’s interested in watching this. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a great film. It’s eerie, I loved the scary kids and not knowing what was going on, and Deborah Kerr was very good (that’s two movies I’ve seen her in this year, the other being the beautiful Black Narcissus). I want to read the story now as there’s some psychological stuff going on here and I’d like to see how it’s presented in the novella. This being an old British film, there’s some f*^ked up sexual repression going on here (old British films are the best at that). I think the story can be interpreted in different ways and I’m still thinking about the ending and its meaning. It’s probably why this story remains so popular and is still being adapted to this day (the latest being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor). I’d watch this one again as I missed some of it (the joy of having to watch live TV! First world problems, I know). – 7.5/10

Sound Of Metal – Also reviewed this in full at the link. Good film & performances. – 7/10

Cat People – I’m loving all the classics on BBC iPlayer, especially old classic horror like this & the one below as I shamefully haven’t explored pre-1970 horror much (besides Alfred Hitchcock). This is a great story & I suppose a bit saucy for its time (1942). Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland’s fables if they are intimate together.” I did actually see the 1982 Cat People with Nastassja Kinski years ago but don’t remember a thing now other than I think it was a lot more “sexy” (obviously). Anyway, the girl in this is great (actress Simone Simon playing Serbian immigrant Irena) and I enjoyed the story and there was some cool creepy stuff going on with a panther stalking people (IS it a panther or is it actually Irena? Hmm!). Guess I should watch the sequel, The Curse Of The Cat People, sometime soon. – 7/10

House On Haunted Hill – I have another shameful confession to make: I’m not sure if I’ve seen an old Vincent Price movie before? I may have many years ago but too long ago to remember now. Which is odd, as I loved scary & creepy stories from a young age (my two favorite TV shows as a kid were the Alfred Hitchcock TV show & The Twilight Zone). But I missed out on these sort of films on TV as a kid, I guess. Being my age, Vincent Price to me is the cool voice from Michael Jackson’s Thriller & the awesome inventor in Edward Scissorhands (adore that film). Anyway, to show my age even more, the main reason I’ve wanted to see this for years is because I knew it was the movie the horror-loving character in my favorite Amazing Stories episode was playing on his TV. That was called Go To The Head Of The Class, FYI, and it RULES. It’s a short horror comedy starring Christopher Lloyd & Mary Stuart Masterson (I reviewed it very briefly HERE). I always assumed I’d had the ending of this movie ruined for me but it turned out the scene they used in Amazing Stories wasn’t the ending (phew). It’s a fun story with a lot of twists and back stabbing and you don’t know who can be trusted & what’s going on. Good stuff. I’d happily take recommendations of other old horrors to watch (I’ve always been curious about Hammer Horror films as well…). – 7/10

Audition (オーディション & Ōdishon) – Well, this was fucked up. To be fair, I knew it was going to be fucked up (it’s why I’ve wanted to see it for years). So I grabbed the DVD a few months ago when I saw it very cheap. I’d say it didn’t quite live up to the hype after all this time but I suppose there’s been more “extreme” stuff since this one (I was surprised it’s a 1999 film as I thought it was a bit more recent). I mean, we’ve since had films like Oldboy which was much more shocking. I absolutely hated Oldboy, by the way – it took things way too far and I found it disgusting but I do realise that it was made for shock value. I wanted to see Audition as I love foreign films & especially love Japanese films and I always like a good horror.

I’d say the movie starts out quite well as we watch this widower go about living his life with his likeable teenage son until a friend of his has the idea to set up a fake movie audition so the widower can interview a bunch of unsuspecting young women to see if any could be a potential new wife. Of course they’re all half his age. I’m always uncomfortable with hints of sexual abuse involving children in movies and wasn’t surprised to find that be a part of this as there needs to be some sort of explanation for a woman ending up being a complete psycho in a film. But does there? Does that always have to be the damn reason? Can we not just be CRAZY for no good reason, dammit?!

Anyway. It’s a good movie & I can see why extreme horror lovers like it as, even though it starts out as a pretty straightforward film, it goes batshit crazy at the end. I do like movies that have a sudden shift like that. But I didn’t like the development of the woman’s character in this. Well, I didn’t feel her character was very developed at all. Why is she doing this, besides the sexual abuse she endured which the movie happily hinted at? For some reason I’d heard this was a feminist film but I’d say it’s the opposite? Plus, the main guy isn’t a bad guy – he’s just lonely since his wife’s death and it was his friend’s idea to set up the fake audition anyway. And god I was SO worried about their adorable dog the whole time.

This review is all over the place… I’m not really sure how I felt. As I said, I think it’s a good film (as in well made) so I’m giving it a decent rating. I did really like elements of it but was disappointed overall as it’s not as good as the hype made it out to be. I’ve not seen any other Takashi Miike films but would possibly watch another based on this. First Love is on Sky & I’m curious about that one. Anyone seen it? – 7/10

Love And Monsters – This was a lot of fun but I weirdly have very little to say about it. Don’t know why. It’s a fun idea and the main character is sweet & likeable and OH MY GOD I loved the cute dog in it and there’s a fun robot and I LOVE robots (and cute dogs!) and there are funny big monsters and there’s honestly nothing to not like about this one. It also feels very original, which I can say about very few films these days. It’s a fun family film (well, not for really young kids but fine for slightly older ones). But I didn’t quite connect with it when I thought I’d really love it. I liked it. It’s good. Maybe I just need to watch it again sometime… Cool Robot above, Cute Dog below! – 7/10

Splinter – Was recommended this one (thanks, Film Miasma!). Didn’t really know anything about it but think I may have avoided it at the time as the poster looked so nasty and I’m a wuss with really gross stuff. Well, it is pretty gross to be fair. But it’s kind of borderline body horror gross in that sort of fake-looking way that I like from old Cronenberg movies so I was fine with this. The characters are also strong, which is important to me (especially as horror movie characters are so often rubbish & hateful). We even have a baddie who ends up not being such a baddie after all & I liked that. And the girl is pretty kick ass. It’s also mostly set in one place while they’re trapped in a gas station by this weird, um, parasite thing and I’m always impressed with movies that manage to stay interesting in pretty much just one location. Here’s the IMDb synopsis if you’re interested: “Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still-living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.” – 6.5/10

Bad Girls – How did I never see a Drew Barrymore movie?! I watch all her movies! We grew up together. She’s my buddy! Mary Stuart Masterson is in this as well & I love her too so I immediately watched this when it showed up on Disney Star. I’m being very kind with my rating as this movie admittedly isn’t the greatest. But I liked having four female lead characters trying to escape evil men in the Old West. Drew is the sexy one & Madeline Stowe is the badass smart one & Andie MacDowell is the girly one and Mary Stuart Masterson is the nice one. And there are two nice guys but the rest are a bunch of rapists and of course the four women were all prostitutes since that’s all women were allowed to be in the Old West (according to movies, anyway – I don’t know if that’s true?!). Anyway, it’s a fun but dumb movie and of course a bit dated now. I wasn’t that thrilled at the ending (not the very end but just before that). I wanted them to get more revenge. – 6.5/10

Palm Springs – This is one of those movies that all of Film Twitter was going on about & saying it was one of the best films of 2020 & I was just completely underwhelmed when I finally saw it. It’s good but I’ve certainly seen better. It’s yet another take on the Groundhog Day idea of living the same day over & over again. Which is fine as, actually, some of the movies using this idea have been quite good. Edge Of Tomorrow is great. Another movie, called The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, just came out this year & was far more enjoyable than Palm Springs (in my opinion). Hell, I think I even enjoyed Before I Fall more and that was pretty cheesy. Then of course there’s Happy Death Day & its sequel which are fun but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (my hubby hated those). Palm Springs is probably a bit better than those two but I just found the two lead characters stuck in this “same day” to be too self-absorbed & unlikeable. I didn’t really give a shit if they would ever escape their predicament as I didn’t care about them. The best thing about the movie was J.K. Simmons & I ended up caring much more about his character. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too picky lately. The movie is fun and still manages to have (yet another) fairly unique twist on this same idea. Watch it if you like Andy Samberg, I guess (maybe I don’t). – 6.5/10

The Fundamentals Of Caring – This was fine. One of those fun “buddy” road trip movies that’s perfectly pleasant to watch but you’ll probably forget all about it in a year. Who doesn’t love Paul Rudd, though? He’s adorable. He’s hired to be the caregiver for the character played by Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez joins them on their journey to go see a big cow. Or something like that. See? I’ve already forgotten. – 6.5/10

Run – This one was “fine” as well. Man I’m bored with movies that are just “okay”! But I do love a good ’90s-style thriller and do love a CRAZY MOM (Margaret White is the best!). So I did enjoy this movie despite it not being very good. Actually, I should move it up a couple places as I probably enjoyed it more than the previous two movies but, nah, I’m too lazy and it doesn’t deserve it anyway. The young girl, Kiera Allen, was good but Sarah Paulson was a bit silly. I liked the story and the couple of twists at the end were fun. Okay, I’ve kind of talked myself into liking this one. Wish it was a better film overall. – 6/10

Teen Spirit – This was boring. It looked like a fun “teen talent search” movie so I watched it with my daughter but we ended up barely paying attention. Elle Fanning was fine but seemed very miscast. The director is Max Minghella so it’s probably hard to try to live up to his father Anthony Minghella’s reputation (I preferred Teen Spirit to that boring ass The English Patient movie, though! Hahaha!). This had some fun pop songs in it, at least. But, like, worse versions of those songs since they were sung by worse singers. It had a Grimes song too (sung by Grimes)! It’s funny – I absolutely loved two songs by Grimes on her 2012 album (the songs Oblivion and Genesis, which I wrote about HERE). Now they’re suddenly sticking those two songs in teen movies all the time lately since her weird Elon Musk relationship. Well, it’s one of those two songs again but I can’t remember which one. Also, I know this movie is set in the U.K. (well, Isle Of Wight to be precise) and I know we have no sun in the U.K. but, holy shit, why was this movie so dark?! Couldn’t see a damn thing! Whatever. This movie wasn’t bad just meh. Have to say I far preferred a quirky little film I saw recently starring Max Minghella (Elvis And Anabelle with Blake Lively). – 6/10

The House Of Tomorrow – This was even more boring. Don’t know why exactly, as it had some pretty big names & talent in it. I, again, just didn’t care all that much for the characters and the friend the main boy makes plus his sister are kind of assholes. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis that talked me into watching this because it sounded really cool: “The film tells futurist, architect, and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller’s incredible story through two teens hoping to get laid, become punk gods, and survive high school.” I wanted way more punk music than we got in this movie. – 6/10

Thunder Force – Yeah… This was bad. Really bad. But I expected it to be bad, so, there you go. I dunno. I got a couple laughs out of this as there were some jokes totally aimed at ’80s kids (like, totally). No young people will have laughed at those jokes, I guess. And I kind of liked Jason Bateman having, um, crab arms for whatever reason I missed since I wasn’t paying much attention. Crab arms. Why?! Who knows! – 4.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Documentaries:

My Octopus Teacher – Reviewed in full at the link. I loved this little octopus! – 7.5/10

Pick Of The Litter – This is a documentary following a litter of five puppies as they grow up and are trained to become guide dogs. This was fascinating as I’ve often wondered how they go about training dogs for such an important job. I didn’t realise that quite a few don’t actually pass the tests to become guide dogs. Watched this with my daughter & we loved it. We were really rooting for each of the dogs to pass all the tests! You get to know each of the dogs & their personalities so that was great. And it was so heartwarming when they decided what to do with one of the dogs who failed (I just about cried! I never do that). Plus, of course, these dogs were adorable and I was totally in love with all of them. Gotta add one more picture of one of these cuties! – 7/10

Tell Me Who I Am – Not gonna lie, I really have to force myself to watch documentaries and would rather just watch a film instead. I especially struggle to watch depressing documentaries: Watching cute puppies is more my speed. But I was intrigued by this IMDb synopsis: “After losing his memory in an accident, Alex Lewis trusts his twin brother, Marcus, to tell him about his past only to discover that he’s hiding a dark secret about their childhood.” Well, it wasn’t going to be a nice secret, was it, or else he wouldn’t have kept it from his brother for years. And it IS horrible and it’s a hard watch. The most interesting thing to me was wondering whether the brother who knew the truth did the right thing or not to keep it hidden. I honestly don’t know. I can see why he did it, but… I don’t know. It probably wasn’t the right thing to do. A very difficult situation for everyone involved. – 6.5/10

Shorts:

Saw loads of short films in April. First, I did very brief reviews of these three as they were nominated for Oscars:

The Present
A Love Song for Latasha
Two Distant Strangers

Stephen King Shorts:

Then there was a great online film festival in April put on by Barker Street Cinema (Twitter account HERE). Over three nights, they aired loads of Stephen King short films, called the “Dollar Babies”. These are the short stories Stephen King lets students and aspiring filmmakers have the rights to for just one dollar. I think that’s such a great idea and it was cool seeing a bunch of adaptations as I absolutely love King’s short stories. I’m just heartbroken they could only be aired that one time & they were on American time so I only caught the first ones each night as I couldn’t stay up all night long. I did manage to watch those listed below. They were all good (but you know I love ranking things so I’ve at least ranked them even though I’ve not reviewed them). My favorite was Red Clark’s Gray Matter from 2017. And I loved seeing the oldest Dollar Baby, The Last Rung On The Ladder from 1987, as that’s an all-time favorite King story of mine (and not a horror, just a sad story). You can read the tweets about each short film on the Stephen King Rules Twitter account HERE. (Oh, and I ranked all the King books I’ve read HERE if you’re interested.)

The Dollar Baby Shorts I Saw:

Gray Matter
The Last Rung On The Ladder
The Doctor’s Case
Dedication
The Boogeyman
L.T.’s Theory Of Pets
All That You Love Will Be Carried Away
My Pretty Pony
One For The Road
Paranoid

And finally, thanks to Emma at emmakwall (explains it all) for posting about this freaky short on YouTube called Curve (the image I posted at the top of this Shorts section). It’s about a woman who wakes up on a slippery curved wall over a black hole we can’t see the bottom of & it’s scary as hell. You can watch it HERE.

Movies Rewatched In April:

The Sound Of Music – Rewatched this with the kid one lazy weekend afternoon as we both love this film. What can I say about it? I think this movie is perfection & easily my favorite musical along with The Wizard Of Oz. LOVE IT. – 10/10

Cast Away – Enjoyed rewatching this as I’d not seen it since going to it when it was released in 2000. I actually liked it even more this time around. Think I could identify more with Tom Hanks & his relationship with Helen Hunt now that I’m 20 years older. Could really feel the heartbreak at the end. – 7.5/10

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – This is a 2021 film that I really liked. I wouldn’t normally rewatch something so soon but I rewatched it with my daughter as I thought she’d really like it too (she did). I think this is quite a good movie & a better twist on the “Groundhog Day” idea than Palm Springs was as the characters were far more likeable in this one. My full review is in the link. – 7.5/10

An American Tail – Hadn’t seen this in years but remember thinking that Fievel was adorable and have always loved the Somewhere Out There song (the version sung by the cute mice, not the boring radio version by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram). Nothing has changed. Fievel is still adorable & I still love that song. And now my daughter does too. The movie is good but it’s those two things that really stand out. Here he is singing it below – He’s so cute! – 7/10

Gregory’s Girl – This is a fun Scottish teen movie from 1980. Yeah, it’s very Scottish so you might struggle with the accents if you’re American (I did okay, though!). Obviously, it’s not one I grew up with as I only saw it after moving to the U.K. but I know it’s one that British people have fond memories of. It probably helps that it starts out with naked breasts. Besides that start, though, it’s actually quite a sweet movie about a boy with a crush. I’ll also point out that Clare Grogan from the band Altered Images is in this (I’ve always liked the Happy Birthday song & I Could Be Happy). Oh, and the director (Bill Forsyth) also did the very enjoyable Scottish film Local Hero that I could really do with rewatching as well. – 7/10

Happy Gilmore – I’ve said it plenty on this blog: I have no problem with Adam Sandler. I know it’s “uncool” to like him but I really like several of his movies (and admit that plenty do suck, yes). This one is okay – it’s somewhere in the middle of all those I’ve seen (I ranked his movies in that link). It’s not brilliant like The Wedding Singer but it’s got some funny moments. And Carl Weathers is in it! So that’s cool. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

BOOKS READ

Roadwork by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) – I’m re-reading the four stories in the original The Bachman Books as it’s been over 20 years since I read them. I remembered loving The Long Walk & liking The Running Man a lot but didn’t remember a thing about the other two. Well, I reviewed The Long Walk & Rage HERE last month.

I can see why I didn’t remember Roadwork as it’s not one of King’s more memorable stories. It’s about a guy who goes off the deep end when a new road being built means both his house & his company will be torn down. I’ll be honest – I haven’t quite finished reading it but I’m almost done & am gonna just review it anyway. I think the story is far longer than it needed to be. It does drag on & I’ve not been eager to pick it up & keep reading, which is why it’s taken me over a month to read a novella. While the reader does have some sympathy for the guy, especially as he had a tragedy in his past, he’s really hard to fully sympathise with overall (especially as he doesn’t care at all about ruining his wife’s life along with his). The story is okay, I guess. I always enjoy reading King’s writing but this certainly isn’t a favorite. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Children Of The Stones: Episodes 1-3 – This is a 1977 British TV mini-series available on YouTube. It’s about a small town with a mysterious stone circle which may be making the town’s residents a little crazy. Or something like that. I don’t know – I’ve only watched 3 of the 7 episodes so far but something weird is going on & I love weird. The people living in the town are acting like The Stepford Children at the moment and a father & son new to the town are wondering what the hell is going on. Strange race of people! No one knows who they were or what they were doing! And there’s this eerie painting of people dancing around the stones & great creepy-ass singing & chanting going on in the episodes. I’m enjoying it so far as this is SO my kind of thing. I love the supernatural & stuff like The Wicker Man & Stonehenge (which I made my hubby take me to a few times after moving to the U.K.). That might be partly to do with loving the Spinal Tap Stonehenge song too… (Oh, I’m totally going to add that song to the end of this post!).

If this sounds like your kind of thing too, it’s worth checking it out on YouTube. Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia page about it to maybe further convince you: “The series is today considered a landmark in quality children’s drama and has been called “the scariest programme ever made for children”. The series follows the adventures of astrophysicist Adam Brake and his teenage son Matthew after they arrive in the small village of Milbury, which is built in the midst of a megalithic stone circle.

It’s a real place, too (Avebury, Wiltshire). So I might have to go check it out & pretend I’m living in ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history

My Name Is Earl: S1 Episodes 1-13 – Finished watching all of Raising Hope on Disney Plus, which the kid loved, so talked her into watching My Name Is Earl next as it’s from the same guy. She’s loving this too. I was a big fan when it was on but, for whatever reason, missed the last season or so. I’m really enjoying rewatching this as I think it’s a really funny show (and Randy cracks me up). The humor is a little iffy so I’m not sure how this & Raising Hope haven’t been “cancelled” yet. So we better binge these while we can!

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 Episodes 1-5 – They FINALLY started showing the latest season here in April. God I hate myself for watching this show but I can’t stop now after spending 17 years on it!!! This season is about f*^king Covid. Thanks for the escapism, Grey’s Anatomy!!! Sheesh.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: S1 Episode 4 – I’m sorry, I can’t get into this show at all. I’m not a huge Marvel fan but like everything well enough & have watched all the MCU films. But, after WandaVision being so fun & different, this show is a big disappointment. Also, I don’t remember now but I THINK episode 4 was the one that ended so violently?? Like, wow – that was very violent for something available to kids on Disney Plus. Well, I’ll watch the final two episodes eventually but it’s obvious I’m in no hurry. Always watched WandaVision ASAP…

Dinosaurs: The kid is watching this on Disney Plus. I tried to watch a couple of episodes. I wasn’t into the show back in the ’90s & I can see why. As my hubby pointed out, you’re better off watching short clips of the show’s funniest bits. It’s why the kid wanted to watch this, as she liked clips of the baby. Full episodes feel very long…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Well, I watched too much in April & it took forever to do this post & now I’m stressed out. I’ll slow down on the movie-watching (a little!) as I suppose I need to start mentally & physically preparing myself to re-join society in a month or two (do I have to?!). But I’m not off to a good start as I’ve already watched 6 movies in the first 3 days of May. Oops. Well, this is what I’ve watched if you’re interested. Maybe I should try to post full reviews of some of these through the month…

The Invisible Man (2020) – 7.5/10
The Hunt (2020) – 7.5/10
Happiest Season – 7/10
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – 7/10
Good Boys – 6.5/10

The Crow – 9/10 (Rewatched this for the first time in years & I still love it).

And now I’ll end this post with Stonehenge by Spinal Tap since I keep thinking of it while watching Children Of The Stones.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2021

Happy April! Hope everyone had a nice Easter. Here’s my monthly roundup of all I watched & read in March. As there was so much, here’s a list of everything I’m reviewing. So you can decide now if you can be bothered to scroll through all my blathering below… 🙂

Moxie, Elvis And Anabelle, Papillon, Annie Hall, Mank, Toys, Skate Kitchen, His House, Flipped, Coming 2 America, She Dies Tomorrow, Yes Day, The Hustle, Unfriended, Edge Of Tomorrow, Big Hero 6, Krush Groove, Can’t Buy Me Love, Deadpool 2, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dodgeball, WandaVision, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, Ted Lasso, Battlestar Galactica, Raising Hope, The Crown, The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us, The Long Walk & Rage by Stephen King

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst):

Moxie – Really enjoyed this one. I’ll always like YA movies and I’ll always like “fighting back against an unfair system” movies. In this one, the girls in an American high school fight back against sexism. The main girl is inspired by her mom’s “Riot grrrl” past & by a new outspoken girl at her school who doesn’t take any shit from the main sexist jock. She starts an anonymous ‘zine she calls Moxie after getting the idea when finding old zines from her mother’s past. Several girls who’ve had enough with the sexism soon join together & start trying to make a difference.

It’s sad to know American high schools are still like this? I remember being in high school in the late ’80s/early ’90s and the jocks in my school were exactly like the main prick in this movie. I also liked how the movie pointed out the way in which male athletes are rewarded and how female sports are completely ignored. Not that I give a shit about that as I hate sports & sucked at them all but I never understood the complete obsession with stupid male teen high school sports in small town America?! And the fact that no one ever gave a shit about the girls sports and, in my school’s case, the girls’ basketball team was far more successful than any other teams.

Obviously, I’m old now (more the age of the director & the mom in this movie, Amy Poehler). So I could relate to her but also to the daughter taking inspiration from her mother’s cool Gen X past. Let’s hear it for Gen X! I’m liking this Gen X & Gen Z (or is it Gen A??) thing. Same as with Cobra Kai – that show was loads of fun and the interactions between the two generations were great.

I think I enjoyed this movie more than I want to admit. I want to give it a slightly higher rating but think I’d not be taken seriously as a movie blogger or some shit. (As if anyone takes me seriously?!). But I still have more affection for stuff from my own generation and this reminded me again just how much I adore the film Pump Up The Volume. Watch that if you liked Moxie! This also gave me Whip It vibes. Love that too! Honestly, I just think I’ll never grow up and will always secretly want to be a riot grrrl/roller derby/pirate radio DJ chick sticking it to the man. – 7.5/10

**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…

Elvis And Anabelle – I have to thank Claire from Cinematic Delights for mentioning this one as I’d never even heard of it so would likely have never noticed it on Amazon Prime. Wonder why it’s not more well known? I always like an offbeat romance & this weird IMDb plot synopsis appealed to me: “Dying after being crowned Miss Texas Rose, Anabelle comes alive just before Elvis embalms her. He does his ailing dad’s work. Anabelle later returns to the embalmer’s farm to get away from her mom and be happy.” Macabre! I like that. It’s not creepy or anything, though. Blake Lively is lovely as always (she’s so pretty I want to barf – hubby thinks I have a girl crush on her but Drew Barrymore is my true love) and has a decent chemistry with Max Minghella in that “two lost souls finding each other” kind of way that only happens in movies. Joe Mantegna plays his father and he’s really sweet & likeable and it’s one of those movies where you just want everyone to be happy. It’s not overly soppy, though, which is great because I hate that. Have to say I really liked the ending as well. It was quite beautiful but not in a contrived sort of way. Very nice. A romance film done right. Hey, I have one to recommend if you like offbeat romances: Untamed Heart with Christian Slater. Ohh I love that one! Need to rewatch that. – 7/10

Papillon – I watched this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge. As with many from the 2013 list I’m working from, this one is no longer in the Top 250. I’m not normally a fan of prison movies but some, such as The Shawshank Redemption & Escape From Alcatraz, are great. This one reminded me more of Midnight Express in that it’s GRIM but unfortunately doesn’t have an awesome Giorgio Moroder score like that one does.

I just didn’t connect with these characters. I don’t know if I missed something but… Why were they all in prison? Was Steve McQueen’s Papillon character (Henri Charrière) falsely accused? (Yes, apparently so – I just looked it up and it’s based on Charrière’s autobiography). The character development just wasn’t as good as in similar films, making it even harder to sit through the dreary realities of the horrible times Charrière & his fellow inmates had to endure in prison. McQueen & Dustin Hoffman were both very good, though, and had a good friendship along with another character I really liked named André Maturette. Together they formed an escape plot and I thought the final 20 minutes or so were very good. I’d say it’s one of those movies where you feel like you’ve gone on this terrible journey right along with the characters. I felt a bit drained by the end. It’s definitely a good film but it’s depressing and just didn’t work as well for me as the other prison films I mentioned. – 7/10

Annie Hall – I watched this one as part of both my IMDb Top 250 Challenge & Best Picture Project. Was hoping to like it despite really not liking Woody Allen. I’ve not seen enough of his movies to really judge what I think of his work yet, though (I’ve now seen three). I liked Midnight In Paris okay. I watched Manhattan a while ago as it’s also in the Top 250 and I definitely enjoyed Annie Hall more, especially as he’s not sleeping with a 17-year-old in this one. I won’t get into Allen’s life, though, as I needed to watch this for these projects so will just discuss the movie.

Diane Keaton is delightful in this but I’ve always kind of liked Keaton and her ugly trousers. Not sure if Allen’s whole neurotic humor thing works for me. Okay, I’m lying – it kind of does as I’m a bit neurotic too. I don’t hate Allen’s writing. Yes, I liked some of the humor & the conversations. Their relationship was fun to watch. I also like movies that are sooooo “New York“. I’ve never been to the city but I find it fascinating in that it’s the focus of so many movies and feels so completely foreign to me despite being American. I grew up in a tiny farming community in the Midwest so New York City is a mystery to me. I’d love to visit but, man, I’d hate to live in a big city. So I can’t fully relate to the lives of those in Allen’s films but I like that the city is just as much a character as are the actors. I liked this movie. I didn’t love it. It’s a well written rom-com & I can see why it has its fans, especially for those who can relate more than I can to these characters.

Let’s see what it beat to win Best Picture: The Goodbye Girl, Julia, Star Wars & The Turning Point. Wait… It beat A New Hope?! Okay, now I hate Annie Hall!!! (just kidding). But I obviously love Star Wars far more than Annie Hall. Wow – I’ve seen none of the other nominees. How embarrassing. – 7/10

Mank – Wank! Sorry, had to say that. I’m juvenile. No, Mank isn’t bad but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this one pretty boring. Yes, I only watched it as it has so many Oscar nominations. My film taste is kind of all over the place. I absolutely adore some “Oscar worthy” films while I find others a complete snoozefest. I just feel bad that I’ve “reviewed” three worthy films in a row here and I was very meh about them. So I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea & think that I can’t appreciate a well made film (even if, yes, I’d rather watch something like Aliens). In fact, I’ve just now finished watching another Top 250 film I assumed I wouldn’t like at all (Battleship Potemkin). Wow – that was good!

Mank, as well as the film it’s about making (I wrote a rubbish review of Citizen Kane here), just aren’t my kind of thing. As I said when trying to explain this in my Citizen Kane review, I just prefer the grand, sweeping epics that used to get nominated for Oscars. Mank is a good film. I really like Gary Oldman and he was as good here as he always is. Amanda Seyfried was also very good and I don’t like her at all. The story was interesting and, being a film lover, I do like movies that are about movies or filmmaking (such as the one I named my blog after, the brilliant Cinema Paradiso). So I enjoyed that aspect although I’d have liked to see much more of the actual filmmaking process. Did they even show Oldman writing Citizen Kane at all, for crying out loud?! Probably – I just wasn’t paying much attention. The film does pick up at the end and the final couple of scenes were very good but it felt like it took a long time to get to them. – 7/10

Toys – I can’t believe I never saw this 1992 Robin Williams film as I really like Williams (RIP). I also love the ’80s & early ’90s & don’t think there are many movies I haven’t seen from then. Being in my late teens then, I may have skipped this as the name & cover made it seem like a family movie kids would like? Oh my god, this definitely isn’t a movie aimed at kids. I don’t think? Although some kids may have liked it. I don’t know who the hell this movie is aimed at?! It’s weird as shit. It’s also quite a terrible movie (I did wonder why it had such a low IMDb rating). But… I also kind of liked it despite thinking the story was a complete & utter mess. The movie itself has such a great look. I’m a sucker for that. If a movie looks beautiful & has a great score, I can ignore any faults (it’s what makes me love some of the Dario Argento horrors & Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns). Not that this movie is anywhere near the genius of those films but I did appreciate its atmosphere and quite liked Joan Cusack’s bizarre character. Hans Zimmer & Trevor Horn did the music for Toys and there are some catchy songs, including one at the beginning that fans of the film seem to really like. There’s also a fun sequence where Williams & Cusack make a music video that reminded me of Talking Heads & Devo videos and man I miss that era of MTV.

I just read at Wikipedia that this was nominated for Razzies as well as Oscars: “Director Barry Levinson was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Director. The film did, however, receive Oscar nominations for Art Direction and Costume Design.” Yep! I can see why. And here’s a bit about the design of it: “Italian designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti spent over one year designing the film’s sumptuous sets, which took over every sound stage at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. René Magritte’s art, particularly The Son of Man, is obvious in its influence on the set design, and in part the costume design, of the film.

So, yeah, this was a weird one. It’s mostly awful yet I can also see some people absolutely loving it (from the comments at IMDb, it definitely has fans). I think I’d have affection for this one if I’d seen it at the time. I think I may actually have some affection for it now – it’s one I think I’ve talked myself into liking more by writing about it. That happens sometimes. Would love to know other peoples’ thoughts if they’ve seen this? I do like when a movie is completely unpredictable & I definitely didn’t know what the hell was going to happen in this one. Unique films are always better than boring films. Toys is unique. – 6.5/10

Skate Kitchen – This was enjoyable but definitely not for everyone. It’s the kind of indie movie that I like, focusing on characters just living their lives. You know, one of those indie films that doesn’t really have much of a plot. If you like that kind of genre, you might like this. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “Rachelle Vinberg stars as Camille, a teenage girl who befriends a group of female skateboarders in New York City. It is inspired by the real group of female skaters based in New York who call themselves “Skate Kitchen”, and features the group’s members playing fictionalized versions of themselves. It’s a drama so not as much fun as something like Richard Linklater’s “characters just living their lives” Dazed And Confused or similar. I guess I like at least a little comedy in this kind of movie. But I liked the friendships in this & it was nice to see a group of female skaters for a change. Ouch, though – that first scene made me glad I never tried skateboarding in my youth! – 6.5/10

His House – This was better than I was expecting. This is the Wikipedia plot synopsis, which makes it obvious what the film is really about: “The film tells the story of a refugee couple from South Sudan, struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.” But I was hoping for a decent haunted house story as well as I love a good supernatural horror. I did enjoy that, although it took quite a while to get going and wasn’t as creepy or scary as I was hoping from the Netflix image of the face peeking through the hole in the wall. But then the story takes a twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting at all and I liked that a lot. Movies rarely catch me off guard so I’m surprised I didn’t see that coming but I do like when a movie surprises me. The film could’ve been better overall but at least the ending made up for the slow start. I think most horror movies have terrible endings (why do they never know how to end?!) so it’s nice to see one that ends well. – 6.5/10

Flipped – This was… Nice? Safe? In other words: Boring & forgettable. I’d never heard of this but noticed it was directed by Rob Reiner, who directed so many all-time favorites of mine (Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap). Flipped certainly doesn’t live up to those, although it’s a pleasant enough “first love” movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Starring Callan McAuliffe, Madeline Carroll, Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller, Aidan Quinn, and Kevin Weisman, the film tells the story of two eighth graders who start to have feelings for each other, despite being total opposites.” Yes, that’s all it is. It’s a nice film. The girl is likeable & John Mahoney is great as the grandfather of the boy, who strikes up a lovely friendship with the young girl. – 6/10

Coming 2 America – This had some fun moments & I really liked seeing these characters together again. And James Earl Jones & Morgan Freeman & their VOICES together in one movie?! Excellent! Love them. But, man, this movie was disappointing overall and did they seriously include that Leslie Jones scene in this day & age?! They’d have gotten away with that if it had been in the 1988 film. The story (revolving around that scene, really) was just a bit lame and the comedy didn’t work the way it did in the first film. I suppose that kind of comedy is just too dated now? But I’ll always have affection for 80’s comedy so I’m not really complaining – I just imagine no one other than fans of the original would like this sequel.

As I said, though – it was good to see Eddie Murphy & so many characters from the first movie again plus we got some good new ones. Wesley Snipes was surprisingly funny and the oldest daughter of Prince Akeem was great & should have been given more screen time than the son (and the other daughters who were completely ignored). Leslie Jones was as obnoxious as always but Shari Headley looked amazing & they sang The Humpty Dance which I still love way more than I should (& is also probably inappropriate in this day & age but, whatever – I’m Gen X so not easily offended). They just needed to make this sequel much sooner – it would have worked better in the ’90s. – 5.5/10

She Dies Tomorrow – This one was a little too pretentious for my liking. Not gonna lie – I like this kind of thing sometimes. You know, the kind of films only movie bloggers like but the general public hate because they just want a movie to actually be entertaining? Who can blame them?? But I was intrigued by the plot (a woman thinks she’s gonna die tomorrow & it puts the idea into the heads of others that they’re also going to die – a really happy pandemic movie!). It’s just one of those movies where none of the characters are likeable, everyone is self-absorbed, and the story is just this meandering mess that gives us no answers. I’m not someone who expects answers in every movie, though – I just appreciate when I can at least follow the damn storyline. Like, there are bits with an old boyfriend that I didn’t realise were flashbacks (I think??). I don’t know. I didn’t know what was going on but I didn’t care. If you liked I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, you might like this one too. It’s got a similar vibe (although that one was definitely much better than this). I’ll give this movie credit for having an original idea, at least. – 5/10

Yes Day – I still like it when fun family films are made as it feels like this genre has really died off since the ’80s & ’90s. This genre is full of a lot of pretty shit films, though. Some are good & are movies that all ages can enjoy but this one doesn’t quite work for the whole family. I can see kids liking it much more than parents and the very best family films should be aimed at least a little bit at the adults as well as at the kids. It starts out okay & it’s at first fun to see the kids get their “yes day” where the parents can’t say no to anything they suggest (within reason). It results in some fun family adventures where the parents of course learn that they should make more time to just have fun. Where it falls apart in the end is when the kids go overboard and, overall, the kids were a bit too bratty to care about. I think the parents learned their lesson more than the kids did (except the older girl a bit). The movie is fine. I’m being a little harsh. It’s just quite forgettable & there are better family films out there. – 5/10

The Hustle – Ugh. This was pretty terrible. Not gonna lie: I quite like Rebel Wilson but I can absolutely understand how her comedy is definitely not for everyone. If you hate her, you’ll hate this. I got some enjoyment out of her usual ridiculous behavior but Anne Hathaway & her awful accent were hard to take. I agree with what (I think Wilson but maybe Hathaway) said about this in that female comedy doesn’t get the same respect as male comedy as I think they originally gave this a higher rating for some slightly crude humor that was no more crude than in similar male comedies that were PG. True. I do NOT love Bridesmaids but say all the time that I don’t understand The Hangover having a much higher IMDb rating when, as far as dumb comedies go, Bridesmaids is far better than that one at least. I don’t think anyone should use The Hustle in this argument, though, as it’s pretty damn bad. There are far better crude female comedies and, sorry, the male film this one is based on (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) is far superior in this case. – 5/10

Unfriended – Oh my god I HATED THIS. Almost to the point where I wish I’d never watched it. I’ll say it actually starts out okay & it was a decent idea for a film (but was done much better later on in Searching, which I really enjoyed). It’s all done via video chat, etc, so you’re looking at these twats on their screens the whole time. As with the found footage gimmick, this newer gimmick will be a “love it or hate it” for viewers but it works a bit better than you’d expect. The issue I had with the movie is that it became far too cruel & by the end I’d never wanted horror movie characters to get killed off as much as these assholes. And the final half hour was just those remaining all crying & SCREAMING into their screens and I just wanted them to shut the hell up.

I’m also extremely uncomfortable with the topic of Internet bullying. In this film, a girl kills herself after she is bullied when a very humiliating video of her is shared. It’s interesting that the film makes it clear she was a pretty terrible person herself but the point is that nobody deserves that treatment. And she killed herself over a video that the movie then shows in a very exploitative way, so it felt irresponsible that the film isn’t really at all making a point that you shouldn’t bully people so much that they commit suicide. In fact, the bullied girl is even kind of made into the villain of this story while (I think) we’re meant to feel bad for the bullies being killed off for their involvement? Not that we should be expecting a dumb teen horror movie to have a moral responsibility but the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way.

But I’m obviously from a generation where our every move wasn’t recorded & uploaded when we were teenagers. I am so thankful for that & hate that my kid is growing up in a social media world. I realise that here I am blogging to strangers and I do enjoy getting my geeky movie thoughts out into a world where there are other people with similar interests unlike anyone I know for real. But, man, I wish social media didn’t exist. I’d go back to the ’80s way of life in a heartbeat. High school was hard enough back then & I feel awful for anyone who now has to go through it during this Orwellian nightmare.

Wow, I say a lot about movies I hate! Barely said a thing about the “worthy” films in this post. I think Unfriended is now my most hated movie since starting this blog in 2012 although there are others I’ve given lower ratings. That’s because, for the throwaway slasher horror genre, this isn’t a truly bad film. The acting isn’t dreadful. And I’m not a fan of gore but, for those who are, this admittedly had some inventive kills involving household appliances. They were silly as hell and would’ve felt more appropriate in a horror comedy but at least the truly hateful characters were deserving of their dumb slasher movie deaths. – 4/10

Movies Rewatched In March:

Edge Of Tomorrow – Already reviewed this in full so don’t have to say much. Still think it’s a great sci-fi film & one of Tom Cruise’s best in years. Plus Emily Blunt’s character is fantastic. – 8/10

Big Hero 6 – This is a lovely film I’ve grown to like even more since seeing it several more times (it’s one of the kid’s favorites). Don’t need to say much as I already reviewed this too but will say again that I love Baymax. Lovable robots are the best! – 7.5/10

Krush Groove – This movie is a big guilty pleasure of mine. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons (renamed Russell Walker in the film), portrayed by Blair Underwood.” Check out this cast!: Blair Underwood, Sheila E., Run-D.M.C. & Jam Master Jay, The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, New Edition, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin. The movie & story are fun but the music is great. Run-DMC are featured the most & have the most music in the film (classics such as King Of Rock, It’s Like That & Can You Rock It Like This). I also love Sheila E. performing A Love Bizarre. But my absolute favorite segment will always be The Fat Boys doing All You Can Eat. Love it. Good cheesy fun! – 7.5/10

Can’t Buy Me Love – This 1987 movie was also a huge guilty pleasure of mine in high school. Still is. I watched this so many times back then. Geeky boy pays popular girl to pretend to be his girlfriend for a while as he believes that will make him popular. FYI: Geeky boy is McDreamy Patrick Dempsey for Grey’s Anatomy fans. Honestly, I can pretty much quote this whole movie.

I think I could relate to the school in this film. My small town was one where there was only one school, so you went to school with the same people from the age of 5 right up to 18. Well, that’s not quite true – our town was so small that we combined schools with another even smaller town when I was about 11. So I made some new friends but still knew those from my own town my whole damn life. And we were all friends until the teen years when it became the popular vs the unpopular. Yeah, I certainly wasn’t one of the popular kids but I was one of those who kind of went off on my own & ignored it all. I got by as I mostly got along with everyone but I hated how some of the unpopular kids were bullied. I think I had it in my head that the popular jock assholes would watch this movie & turn into nice people & all would be right with the world. Ha! Didn’t happen, although I did talk to one of the biggest assholes several years after school & he basically apologised for being such a jerk through all of high school. So maybe that movie shit happens in real life sometimes.

Anyway – this is on Disney Plus U.K. if you’re interested. I still absolutely love it although I admit it’s very ’80s and hasn’t aged quite as well as other teen movies from that time. It’s still pretty relevant, though. Also, I so wanted to be like Amanda Peterson’s character, Cindy Mancini, at the time. I thought she was so pretty. I looked Peterson up a few years ago and she had a horribly tragic life after this film & died at the age of 43. Very sad. But it goes to show that you really don’t know what terrible things someone may be going through so we should all try to be a little nicer, yeah? – 7.5/10

Deadpool 2 – Still think this one is a lot of fun & more funny than the first film. 7/10

10 Things I Hate About You – I know this is a favorite for the generation after mine & I did really like this one too the first time I saw it when it first came out. I still like it although I definitely didn’t like it as much on the rewatch. What a shame. I like Julia Stiles but her character is a little too hateful at times. Even more hateful is her little sister, though. Didn’t remember her being so annoying. However, Heath Ledger (RIP) is still absolutely adorable in this movie so it was nice seeing him in this again. Still a sad loss. – 7/10

Dodgeball – Didn’t enjoy this one as much on the rewatch either. I remembered liking it at the time but thought it was pretty dumb on the rewatch. Who knows? Maybe I was just in a bad mood this time! Have to admit I’m enjoying movies less overall in the past year. Hmm. Maybe I need to get out of the house? – 5.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN MARCH