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….). – 6.5/10

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):

Once Upon A Time In America (1984) Review

Bonus late review today! I’m trying to put together my August roundup post & ended up writing too much about this one. So I’m posting it separately. Sorry for the rubbish review of such a classic… (I didn’t love it).

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on The Hoods by Harry Grey

Starring: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Tuesday Weld, Treat Williams

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Based on Harry Grey’s novel The Hoods, it chronicles the lives of best friends David “Noodles” Aaronson and Maximilian “Max” Bercovicz as they lead a group of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence as Jewish gangsters in New York City’s world of organized crime.

My Opinion:

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.

Hmm. I admit that I didn’t love this one but the gangster film genre has never been a favorite of mine. I did think The Godfather I & II were good but have had no desire to rewatch them. And I’ve never even watched Casino because the violence in that sounds far too extreme for me. So I’m admittedly not the best audience for this film, which was also very violent and, er, way more rape-y than I was expecting. This won’t pass the Bechdel test! But I don’t believe in art being forced to follow some bullshit rules – This is just a warning that women aren’t treated well in this film but it’s probably an accurate representation of these violent sort of men with no morals.

I did appreciate how much time was spent showing us De Niro’s character’s past and liked the part of the film focusing on his childhood & his criminal friends the most. And, hey – Brian Bloom was in this as one of his childhood friends! He was a heartthrob in all the teen magazines I bought in the ’80s but I knew absolutely nothing he’d actually starred in (I should point out that he was also in the ridiculous “horror comedy?” The Stuff, which was horribly bad but is more my type of thing than gangster films). You almost started to care about these guys after seeing them grow up together and somehow stay loyal to each other as they became partners in crime. Almost. The characters were all truly horrible human beings and I struggle with films that have no sympathetic characters. Actually, Fat Moe was okay. Yay, Fat Moe! He was kind of likeable. Unfortunately, De Niro lost any sympathy I may have had for his character after his final “date” with the girl he claimed to love (played by Elizabeth McGovern).

Sorry for the negative sounding review! This is, admittedly, a very good and well-made film. Sergio Leone was a brilliant filmmaker. Oh, and this once again had an Ennio Morricone score. Of course. So I was very happy about that as I’m a big fan. I should point out that I really like Leone’s Dollars Trilogy (especially The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) and also far preferred Once Upon A Time In The West to In America. And those certainly aren’t passing some stupid test gauging how female characters are treated either – they’re just much more my style and I think they’re damn good films. Was hoping to like this one as much as those but do think this is as good as all the best of the gangster films that have been made.

My Rating: 7.5/10

My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults

I thought it would be a good time to repost this top ten for one of my all-time favorite movies, Stand By Me, as today would’ve been River Phoenix’s 51st birthday (R.I.P. – I’m still upset over that celebrity death). I’m reposting some of the posts I did for blogs that are no longer running. You can currently still see this original post at Silver Screen Serenade HERE.

I find it difficult to talk about my “all-time favorite movies” as I could never do them justice. So, like My Top Ten Star Wars Dismemberments post for Silver Screen Serenade, I decided to just do another Top Ten of a favorite movie of mine.

I’d like to say a little bit about this movie, though. Stand By Me is very special to me. I love movies (obviously) but there aren’t too many that I’ve watched over and over and over and over again. There were really only two that I re-watched to a slightly disturbing & unhealthy degree: Aliens & Stand By Me.

Both out in 1986, these movies came along at a time in my life when I was a latchkey kid & only child (well, I’m still an only child). Our house was also very cold so my routine went something like this during the winter months at the ages of 12-14: Get home from school, turn the heating on, stick Stand By Me into the VCR (if it wasn’t already in there), grab a blanket, sit right up against the heating in the wall, and watch the 90 minute Stand By Me which would finish just in time for the parent to get home. It usually took until the junkyard scene for our old heating to finally warm me up.

Anyway, it was Stand By Me until I discovered Aliens. And to this day I’m still in trouble for having that playing when my mom got home one time & walked in to see the chest-burster scene. God, it wasn’t even that bad! It was much more tame than the one in Alien. At least she never saw my next after-school obsession: A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Wow – I’ve just made my early-teen self sound really pathetic. At least I wasn’t drinking & doing drugs, right?! Or searching for dead bodies…

As for Stand By Me, I never got in trouble for watching that one. In fact, I made my mom & grandma watch it with me once and they loved it. Why? Because it’s really good.

You have Rob Reiner & Stephen King, my two favorite people in their professions. You have a coming-of-age tale (I’ve always liked those) with a group of friends who were the same age as I was when I first watched this (I had a crush on them all except Vern, of course). You have a great voiceover from Richard Dreyfuss, the always adorable John Cusack in a small role, and a beautiful, bittersweet ending that may have made me cry a few times (okay – it did). A movie’s ending is very important to me as I think so many get it wrong but the ending of Stand By Me is perfection (as is The Princess Bride’s – thank you, Rob Reiner!). Finally, I love the 1959 setting and the music that was chosen for this film (especially the title song). I think it’s something that helps Stand By Me feel timeless in a way and made it something that could be loved by an ’80s kid as well as by her mother and grandmother.

I did eventually stop obsessively watching Stand By Me but I’ll never forget walking back from a college party with a guy one night when he suddenly said “Did you hear that River Phoenix died?”. It wasn’t like now where you can easily go online to check so I hoped he was wrong until I later saw a news story confirming it was true. That will always be the one celebrity death that really upset me as he was kind of a big part of my own coming-of-age years. Phoenix was amazing as Chris Chambers, especially considering his young age, and I still wish we’d been able to see much more of his work.

Huh. I guess I actually said quite a bit about Stand By Me! One of the slightly shocking things about Stand By Me, at the time, was the amount of swearing. And I loved it. This is a coming-of-age tale involving a group of four small-town boys. Guess what? Boys actually swear & say horrible things to each other! These characters felt real to me – they weren’t made to be PG-rated characters we wouldn’t buy into. This was rated R, right? Pardon my French but that’s fucking ridiculous. This is a beautiful movie about life, death, friendship, and growing up. Every 13-year-old should see Stand By Me.

Now let’s take a look at some of the horrible things that young boys say to each other! Here are My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults:

10. Piss up a rope!

Okay – I’ve never been entirely sure if this an insult or even what the hell it means exactly. Gordie loses a card game & shouts “Piss up a rope!” so I was never fully sure if he was telling the other guys to do that or if it was a way of saying “Shit!“, Either way, I like it even though it doesn’t really make any sense.

9. You four-eyed pile of shit!

Full exchange:
Chris: You four-eyed pile of shit!
Teddy: A pile of shit has a thousand eyes.

With this one, it’s not the insult I like so much as the response. The two best characters, of course, are Wheaton’s Gordie & Phoenix’s Chris but Feldman was also great as the messed-up Teddy. He was slightly nuts & had some funny lines such as the one above, to the amusement of the other characters.

8. Then you won’t mind if we check the seat of your jockies for Hershey squirts, will you?

Full exchange:
Vern: I wasn’t that scared. I wasn’t. Sincerely.
Gordie: Okay. Then you won’t mind if we check the seat of your jockies for Hershey squirts, will you?
Vern: Go screw.

Ha! Hershey squirts. Pants-pooping! Hershey squirts is just a really funny thing to say…

7. I’m gonna rip your head off and shit down your neck!

Another Teddy line, this one isn’t funny but sad. Is it a horrible thing to say? Yes, but it’s a great Teddy moment and you can feel how upset he is when he says this to the man who has just called his father a “looney”. Seeing how these boys were all “damaged” in some way helped to make them all the more believable and helped the audience relate to and care about them.

6. You use your left hand or right hand to do that?

Full exchange:
Teddy: Okay, you guys can go around if you want. I’m crossing here. And while you guys are dragging your candy asses half way across the state and back, I’ll be waiting on the other side, relaxing with my thoughts.
Gordie: You use your left hand or right hand to do that?
Teddy: You wish.

Okay, I’m not sure if I entirely understood this one when I was young & watching this over & over again. But I think it get it now…. ! *no further comment*

5. Yeah, but you’re gonna be stupid for the rest of your life.

Full exchange:
Teddy: This is my age! I’m in the prime of my youth, and I’ll only be young once!
Chris: Yeah, but you’re gonna be stupid for the rest of your life.

This is actually a very sweet moment in the film & the line is delivered in a way that says “I love you guys but I can’t say that because we’re male so I’m going to tease you instead to show you that I care”. As the voiceover says “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

4. Lardass! Lardass! (Boom-baba Boom-baba)

Again, it’s not so much the insult that I like in this case but the moment. I love this bit of the film. It’s so juvenile & immature but it’s exactly the type of story that I’d expect a group of 12-year-old boys to enjoy. And I love the disgustingly awesome revenge of “Lardass”.

3. Why don’t you go home and fuck your mother some more?

Is this an awful thing to say? Yes. Have I heard real-life boys say similar (and much much worse)? YES! Along with my number one choice, it’s an important part of the movie, though, which I’ll discuss a bit more when I get to that one…

2. I don’t shut up, I grow up. And when I look at you, I throw up!

Full exchange:
Teddy: You’re a real wet end, Lachance.
Gordie: Shut up.
Teddy/Vern/Chris: I don’t shut up, I grow up. And when I look at you, I throw up!
Gordie: And then your mother goes around the corner and she licks it up.

That final reply is good as well but I love the rhyming insult the three boys do together even more. Certainly much more innocent than the previous insult, I like the immaturity of this one and how it reminds us that these four boys are still just kids.

1. Suck my fat one, you cheap dime store hood

Anyone who has seen this movie probably already knew that this would be number one. It’s good for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s not exactly the greatest ever insult. Suck my fat one? Cheap dime store hood?? Nice try, though, Gordie! It’s likely something he’ll have read in some sort of pulp comic of the time and he’s trying to sound grown-up by saying it. And unlike a lot of the other insults, it’s delivered with absolutely no humor. Along with my third choice, this is the climactic moment in which these four boys have to make a stand (by me! ha!). It’s one of the many “growing up” moments in the film and these young boys deal with this in the only way they really know how at this age (by telling people to suck their fat ones & to go and fuck their own mothers).

Well, hopefully you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Maybe someday I’ll manage to do a proper review of Stand By Me and try to explain why I still love it so much.

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…

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

BOOKS READ

I am re-reading The Bachman Books (a collection of four Stephen King stories originally published under his pen-name Richard Bachman). I don’t normally re-read books but it’s 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 have zero memory of whatsoever. Weird how memory works. I’ve re-read these two of the four so far:

The Long Walk by Stephen King – This was the one 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. – 4.5/5

Rage by Stephen King – 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 above: 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. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Ted Lasso: Season 1 – Thanks to Eric at Film Miasma for recommending this as I would NOT have watched a TV show about an American football coach coming to the U.K. to coach a British football team. What?! F*^king SPORTS?!? I hate ’em all! But, damn, this show was super enjoyable! Funny, great characters who are really fleshed out including even those in small roles (and some of those small roles are my favorites), and a lot of feelgood shit going on without it feeling all soppy. I’m trying to think of anything bad to point out but I can’t. I even really like the character played by Juno Temple and I can’t stand her! And I love the characters of Nathan and Roy Kent. And of course Jason Sudeikis as super sweet Ted Lasso. I like all these people. I want to hang out with them. Other than the ex-husband, who we’re meant to hate. I want to punch him in the face! Oh, here’s a negative: that theme song sucks. It’s one of those cheesy American sounding sitcom themes. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe they’re being ironic? Ignore it! You can skip it anyway. The show is definitely worth watching (it’s on Apple TV+ in the U.K.). It’s just so damn likeable.

WandaVision: Season 1 Episode 9 & Making Of – I really enjoyed WandaVision despite not being a huge Marvel fan. It felt so different from the movies, which was great. It felt unique & I looked forward to seeing it each week. Didn’t absolutely love the final episode but still think it ended as well as it could have & assume it has been left open to carry on in the films. The Making Of episode was fine but filler. Overall, the show was a pleasant surprise in a shitty year.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: Season 1 Episodes 1-2 – I don’t have much to say about this. It just feels like all superhero movies when they turn into one big dumb action scene after another but this time with lesser characters I never even really liked all that much in the films. I found these first two episodes truly boring. What a huge disappointment after WandaVision!

Battlestar Galactica (1978): Season 1 Episodes 1-3 – This is on the Horror Channel (huh??) in the U.K. so I started watching it as I never saw it. But as it’s live TV, I missed watching any more. Oops. It’s cheesy but fun so far. Rick Springfield was in it! I’ll watch the rest someday… It’s ’70s sci-fi so I’ll happily watch stuff like this anytime, especially if I missed it the first time around.

Raising Hope: Season 1 Episodes 12-22, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4 – Wow – Really binge watching this as a family! Oh well, there’s a pandemic & we’ve been stuck at home for a year. This is an easy thing to stick on anytime in the background. Have to say the show was damn funny at the start but the final season took a nosedive in the way most sitcoms do when they run out of ideas. Oh well – there were still plenty of laughs and I liked the final episode just fine. Gonna rewatch My Name Is Earl next! (Which I loved but never saw the end of. Assume it also took a nosedive at the end anyway…)

The Crown: Season 3 Episodes 4-6 – Man, I am still not feeling the change of cast at the start of Season 3. I went from liking this show a lot, despite it not being my type of thing, to really having to force myself to watch it just so I can get to the Diana episodes in Season 4… I miss Claire Foy & all the rest! They were much better. Sorry.

The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us – Watched two or three(?) episodes of this series on Disney Plus. It’s fine as I love reminiscing about the ’80s but it’s also a bit boring. How can they make the ’80s boring?! Hell, they even devoted a bunch of time to some hockey thing at the Olympics that I didn’t even remember. Was it that big of an event if I knew nothing about it?! It’s also very American – the hubby was bored during the hockey thing too (I think – maybe I’m wrong! He played hockey! But he’s not American). I think they’re just devoting too much time to a few very specific events, such as the Jane Fonda fitness craze (although I found that sort of interesting). I don’t know – I just think no one will get anything out of what I’ve seen of this series so far unless they actually lived through the ’80s. The kid was bored while this was on. Maybe it gets better…

The Golden Girls – I’ve not exactly ranked these “best to worst”. The Golden Girls would be ranked at the top! Love this show so much. Just added it as have watched a few more episodes after picking up the rest on DVD when Channel 5 showed all but the final few seasons during lockdown. Rude! I was so disappointed when I no longer had this showing on TV during my lunch breaks. I want to hang out with these kick ass ladies even more than the Ted Lasso characters.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Don’t have any plans other than watching movies. Was contemplating re-posting any reviews I’ve done of BAFTA or Oscar nominated films before the ceremonies. Very frustrating that we’re not able to see a lot of the Oscar nominees in the U.K. Badly want to see Promising Young Woman, Sound Of Metal & Minari. Will review any if I see them before the Oscars.

Okay, I have to end this post with the clip of The Fat Boys doing All You Can Eat in Krush Groove…

IMDb Top 250 Challenge: Remaining Films To Be Seen

I started this project, my IMDb Top 250 Challenge, on the 1st of January 2013 having already seen 151 of the 250 movies in the Top 250 IMDb list at that time. My goal was to watch the remaining 99.

In that time, I’ve managed to watch 65 of those. I posted a list of those 65 a couple of days ago HERE, all ranked & rated (Yeah, I love making lists). Now I’m going to focus on watching the remaining 34. Those I have left to watch are listed below, with their Top 250 rank as of 2013.

•I will also soon start a Best Picture Project & try to watch all the Best Picture Oscar Winners. I’ve put a dot next to those that are also Best Picture Winners•

The 34 IMDb Top 250 Movies I Have Left To Watch:

•66 Lawrence of Arabia
69 The Great Dictator
71 Das Boot
74 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
77 Once Upon a Time in America
107 Der Untergang (Downfall)
120 The General
126 Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries)
133 Ran
137 The Gold Rush
145 High Noon
146 Hotel Rwanda
150 Casino
•154 Annie Hall
159 The Grapes of Wrath
168 The Big Sleep
181 Amores Perros
185 Persona
•187 Gandhi
•192 8½ (best international feature winner)
•199 La strada (best international feature winner)
204 Stalag 17
209 Barry Lyndon
213 Stalker
219 Le scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell And The Butterfly)
220 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
221 In the Name of the Father
224 A Streetcar Named Desire
226 Incendies
230 Harvey
232 La Haine
236 Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring)
240 Battleship Potemkin
244 Papillon (I’ve just watched this one…)

I know there are some great films here. Which of these should I really have seen by now? 🙂

***IMDB Top 250 New Additions As Of 01/01/2016:***

In 2016, I did take the new IMDb Top 250 list to see if there were any new additions I’d not seen. There were lots of new ones but only 14 I’d not seen. I’ve been working through those too (as well as any on the current list), but the 2013 list is my first priority.

Here are the 9 remaining films that I need to see from the 2016 list:

•124 Sunrise
136 Sholay
147 Judgement at Nuremberg
173 The Wages of Fear
•184 12 Years a Slave
216 Memories of Murder
217 The Battle of Algiers
226 Throne of Blood
246 Three Colours: Red

Finally, I did watch three of the Top 250 films already this year. Liked them all: Les Diaboliques, It Happened One Night & Bringing Up Baby. And I’ve just watched Papillon, which I’ll review in my next monthly roundup.

And thanks again to everyone who joined in & did guest reviews of some of the 151 Top 250 movies I’d already seen when I started this project. You can see the full 2013 IMDb Top 250 list plus links to all the reviews of those movies HERE.

My IMDb Top 250 Challenge Rankings So Far

I started this project, my IMDb Top 250 Challenge, on the 1st of January 2013 having already seen 151 of the 250 movies in the Top 250 IMDb list at that time. My goal was to watch the remaining 99. I’m taking my time but, eight years later, I’ve managed to watch 65. Only 34 left to go!

I figured it was time to make more of an effort to watch the remaining 34. I’m putting a list together of those remaining, which I’ll post in a few days. Would like to hear from people on which of those 34 I should try to watch first. 🙂

I’ll also soon post about a new project, the Best Picture Project, which I know many people have done. A far easier project as that list always stays the same with just one new addition each year! There are only 31 Best Picture Oscar Winners I’ve not seen (not too bad, right?). There are also several films on both the Top 250 & Best Picture lists that I need to see so might as well kill two birds with one stone.

For now, I thought it was be fun to rank the 65 movies I’ve watched so far for the Top 250 challenge. So here are My IMDb Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite & With Links To My Reviews):

65-61:

65. Mary And Max – watched 7/6/13 – Rating: 4/10

64. Slumdog Millionaire – watched 28/4/13 – Rating: 5/10

63. Oldboy – watched 27/12/19 – Rating: 5.5/10

62. Manhattan – watched 15/10/16 – Rating: 6.5/10

61. Warrior – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6/10

60-51

60. Life Of Pi – watched 15/1/13 – Rating: 6.5/10

59. A Separation – watched 9/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

58. The Wild Bunch – watched 28/5/19 – Rating: 7/10

57. 3 Idiots – watched 9/11/19 – Rating: 7/10

56. The Night Of The Hunter – watched 15/8/17 – Rating: 6.5/10

55. Paths Of Glory – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6.5/10

54. On The Waterfront – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

53. Touch Of Evil – watched 27/5/19 – Rating: 7/10

52. No Country For Old Men – watched 18/7/20 – Rating: 7/10

51. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – watched 24/3/13 – Rating: 7/10

Top Fifty:

50. Raging Bull – watched 29/9/13 – Rating: 7/10

49. The Killing – watched 8/6/19 – Rating: 7/10

48. Unforgiven – watched 17/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

47. Dog Day Afternoon – watched 18/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

46. The King’s Speech – watched 25/2/18 – Rating: 7/10

45. Bringing Up Baby – watched 31/1/21 – Rating: 7/10

44. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – watched 26/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

43. Anatomy Of A Murder – watched 2/8/15 – Rating: 7/10

42. Witness For The Prosecution – watched 12/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

41. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

Top Forty:

40. Roman Holiday – watched 5/12/17 – Rating: 7/10

39. Sleuth – watched 5/2/13 – Rating: 7/10

38. City Of God – watched 18/1/14 – Rating: 7.5/10

37. Bicycle Thieves – watched 5/6/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

36. Notorious – watched 6/5/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

35. The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) – watched 30/3/19 – Rating: 7.5/10

34. Sunset Boulevard – watched 7/11/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

33. Shadow Of A Doubt – watched 5/1/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

32. Citizen Kane – watched 13/1/18 – Rating: 7.5/10

31. A Fistful Of Dollars – watched 28/4/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

Top Thirty:

30. In The Heat Of The Night – watched 15/2/19 – Rating: 7.5/10

29. Rope – watched 4/1/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

28. For A Few Dollars More – watched 14/5/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

27. Nosferatu (1922) – watched 14/7/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

26. Some Like It Hot – watched 2/12/17 – Rating: 7.5/10

25. Rashômon – watched 16/8/14 – Rating: 8/10

24. It Happened One Night – watched 9/1/21 – Rating: 8/10

23. The Hustler – watched 7/1/17 – Rating: 8/10

22. Million Dollar Baby – watched 11/2/17 – Rating: 8/10

21. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) – watched 14/9/14 – Rating: 7.5/10

Top Twenty:

20. The Secret In Their Eyes – watched 23/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

19. Ip Man – watched 28/3/19 – Rating: 7.5/10

18. Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – watched 4/5/19 – Rating: 7.5/10

17. Full Metal Jacket – watched 11/5/14 – Rating: 8/10

16. M – watched 26/9/15 – Rating: 8/10

15. Once Upon A Time In The West – watched 02/07/13 – Rating: 8/10

14. Grave Of The Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) – watched 1/1/15 – Rating: 8/10

13. Yojimbo – watched 30/10/19 – Rating: 8/10

12. The Untouchables – watched 16/8/17 – Rating: 8/10

11. The Kid – watched 19/2/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

*****Top Ten:*****

10. Rocky – watched 12/2/17 – Rating: 8.5/10

9. Laputa: Castle In The Sky – watched 7/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

8. Metropolis – watched 11/5/18 – Rating: 8.5/10

7. The Great Escape – watched 28/10/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

6. Modern Times – watched 1/1/13 – Rating: 9/10

5. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – watched 16/2/16 – Rating: 8/10

4. Princess Mononoke – watched 25/1/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

3. The Bridge On The River Kwai – watched 23/6/13 – Rating: 9/10

2. City Lights – watched 15/2/13 – Rating: 9/10

1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) – watched 2/11/14 – Rating: 9/10

In 2016, I did take the new IMDb Top 250 list to see if there were any new additions I’d not seen. There were lots of new ones but only 14 I’d not seen. I’m working through those too (as well as any on the current list), but the 2013 list is my first priority. Here are 5 of the 14 I’ve watched so far from the 2016 list:

***IMDb Top 250 New Additions As Of 01/01/2016 Watched:***

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel – watched 12/4/19 – Rating: 5/10

4. The Hunt (Jagten) – watched 20/4/19 – Rating: 7.5/10

3. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – watched 20/5/20 – Rating: 7.5/10

2. Les Diaboliques – watched 20/2/21 – Rating: 7.5/10

1. Ikiru – watched 1/1/16 – Rating: 8/10

It’s annoying that I’ve not reviewed 4 or 5 of these, including the amazing Akira Kurosawa films as I wanted to do a specific Kurosawa project on this blog. Maybe someday…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2021

Happy February! Will try to stick to my resolution to at least post these monthly roundups (and hopefully on time) this year.

As January, the absolute dreariest & most depressing month of the year, was extra depressing this year thanks to the C word (not that C word) I watched way too many movies in an attempt to cheer up. So I’ll keep my comments on each brief.

MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):

When Marnie Was There – There are very few Studio Ghibli movies I’ve not yet seen (mainly just have the non-Miyazaki ones left to watch). Desperate to see them all but also hate the thought of running out of them! So finally decided to watch this one & absolutely loved it. It just makes it into my Top Ten (which I need to update now) and is easily a favorite of the non-Miyazaki films. What I really liked was the story – there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding Marnie & I loved finding out her history. It’s a lovely, bittersweet film and was a great one to watch with my daughter, who also really enjoyed it. – 8/10

It Happened One Night – Although I’ve slowed way down on my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge, I still try to watch a few Top 250 movies a year. This Frank Capra film was one I’d most been looking forward to watching & it didn’t disappoint. Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert were absolutely adorable together. I’m not exactly a girly girl & romance isn’t my favorite genre but I do seem to prefer the relationships in these older films. The couples had great chemistry in movies like these. Delightful movie! I should watch more pre-1970 films than I do. – 8/10

Black Narcissus (1947) – I thought this was some big classic but I don’t actually know anyone who has heard of it? Well, I think there’s some British TV adaptation right now that I have no interest in. I just know I’d seen images of the eerie looking building & bell high on a cliff lots in the past and have wanted to watch this movie for years based on the images alone. Well, that and the name Black Narcissus because it just sounds cool (named after a perfume if I remember correctly from the movie). Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb for those unfamiliar with this British classic: “A group of nuns struggle to establish a convent in the Himalayas, while isolation, extreme weather, altitude, and culture clashes all conspire to drive the well-intentioned missionaries mad.

I enjoyed this one. It’s a beautiful looking film (as I was hoping from the images) and Deborah Kerr as Sister Clodagh is fascinating as the very stern nun in charge. There’s slowly building tension throughout, leading to an intense finale I’m happy had never been spoiled for me. There’s also a bit of sexual tension with a handsome Englishman. Sexual tension in old movies is the best! It’s why I love Brief Encounter. Am very glad I finally got the chance to watch this one while it was on BBC iPlayer (sorry, think it’s gone now). – 8/10

**Decided to up the rating to 8…

The Secret Of Kells – Having recently watched Tomm Moore’s gorgeous Wolfwalkers and having seen the equally beautiful Song Of The Sea a few years ago, I figured I’d finally check out his earliest animated film. For some reason, this one had appealed to me the least but I think I actually liked it the most. The animation style was of course fantastic (I’d happily put images from these films up on a wall) but I think I enjoyed the story in this one the most. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.

If you’ve seen the others, I’d highly recommend this one as well. If you’ve seen none of these & like beautiful animation, fun characters & good folklore storytelling, these are all well worth your time. I saw this on iPlayer as well & think it’s still available. Here’s a second image from the film since there are so many great ones to choose from… – 7.5/10

Bringing Up Baby – Another movie I was happy to catch on iPlayer (it’s still available) and another one I was happy to cross off my IMDb Top 250 list. Sadly this is one that has disappeared from the Top 250 since that 2013 list I’m still working from. This was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It’s one of those romantic “screwball comedies” from that era. I confess I don’t have much experience with this subgenre. I enjoyed this movie but not nearly as much as It Happened One Night. Grant & Hepburn are very cute together. Hepburn is truly the star of the film as the flighty & clumsy heiress with a leopard named Baby. It’s a sweet film & perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. – 7/10

The Dig – This was fine. Not gonna lie – it’s not at all my type of thing but I’m absolutely desperate for current movie releases. Really missing my monthly cinema membership & seeing new releases regularly! I like Carey Mulligan, although her acting in these types of dramas is always a bit same-y, and I liked all of the characters in this (especially the Ralph Fiennes character). Speaking of cinema trips, you know what character I absolutely despised years ago?! That guy in those annoying Cineworld Unlimited adverts! Man, I still can’t believe he’s in actual movies now. I mean, he’s fine in this but he’ll forever be that jerk from those adverts to me (sorry, Johnny Flynn). Where was I? Oh yeah. This movie… The acting is fine, the true story is interesting if you like archaeology I guess, but it’s quite slow and character-driven so won’t be for everyone. I’m being generous with my rating as it’s a good enough movie but I’d never watch it again. – 6.5/10

Pieces Of A Woman – Again, this isn’t really my type of movie. If I were being honest, I’d stick my next movie above this & The Dig but it’s not nearly as “good” as these two. This one is all about the acting & Vanessa Kirby does put in a good performance. I actually preferred her performance as Margaret in The Crown, though. She’s good in this but I also didn’t feel the performance lived up to the hype. Am I allowed to say that?! I also felt that way about the thoroughly overrated (and throughly boring) Marriage Story. Are people just less picky with Netflix movies or something? Or am I just too picky? Anyway, I did feel for these characters & their terrible tragedy, although they were all very hard people to like. But everyone deals with grief differently & I can understand Kirby’s character becoming so emotionally detached. Not an easy movie to watch and certainly not one I’d watch again. Man, Ellen Burstyn knows how to pick the “I never want to watch this again” movies! Imagine this as a double bill with Requiem For A Dream… Or Surviving!! Ha! Bet none of you youngsters have seen THAT one! (I actually watched that thoroughly depressing TV movie multiple times, though. Loved it. Zach Galligan! Molly Ringwald! River Phoenix! I’m so Gen X). – 6.5/10

Escape Room – I enjoyed this, even though it was a bit f*^king ridiculous. Especially the very end, but most horror movies like these have stupid endings. I don’t know what to say about this… It’s the usual sort of shit but at least it has a fun idea & the different escape rooms the characters find themselves in are entertaining. When it comes to horror, I lower my expectations a lot as most modern horror sucks. I prefer the classics from the ’70s & ’80s. There have been some good ones in recent years, though (The Babadook, It Follows, and especially the delightfully bonkers Mandy which is very much my type of thing). But the good ones are rare so I’m happy to watch these lightweight & utterly predictable ones to pass the time in between the good ones. This was a bit like the recent Countdown and both have a Final Destination vibe (though not as good as that one, of course). Meh. I liked this. The characters were decent & the story was entertaining. I expect nothing more from this sort of thing. – 6/10

Tangerine – Not sure how to go about reviewing this one. I can’t relate to the lives of these characters in any way whatsoever but I enjoyed watching this “day in the life” film (I like those) & really liked the main characters played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez & Mya Taylor. This is from Sean Baker, the same one who did The Florida Project. I quite liked The Florida Project but am still not sure why. Tangerine is very similar. I think I liked it? But I’m not sure why? If you like one, you’ll like the other (and if you hate one, you’ll hate the other). What an in-depth review! You’re welcome. Watch Tangerine if you like a good puke scene! (That was a lot of puke. Gross.) – 6.5/10

Sputnik – I was excited about this. Foreign sci-fi!! A Russian Alien!! Sadly, I was disappointed. I think it had a good idea (even though, yes, it’s very similar to Alien), the alien dude thing looked good, and the acting was decent. There’s even a mini twist at the very end. But… I dunno. It just didn’t quite work. I can’t explain why, though, as this is totally my type of thing. Maybe my expectations were just too high as one of my favorites last year was a foreign dystopian sci-fi film (The Platform). – 6/10

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – This was pretty crap. I think my daughter just really likes to watch movies starring The Rock (me too). You never know what you’re gonna get with these family films, though. Many are rubbish. But then you get one where they actually put some effort in & every age group is actually able to enjoy it. I’m thinking of a recent reboot with The Rock: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle & The Next Level were loads of fun! Suppose we were hoping for something similar to those but this one was mostly just silly & had dodgy special effects. The tiny elephants were cute, though. I want one! Oh, we also read that you didn’t really need to see the first film first (2008’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth) but I’m thinking it would’ve helped. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched (lots of rewatches during lockdown! I don’t normally rewatch movies often – I’ll be even more brief):

The Jungle Book (1967) – Classic! Love this one & it’s always been one of my favorites for Disney songs. – 8.5/10

Despicable Me – I’m a Disney/Pixar/Studio Ghibli girl but I absolutely adore this Illumination film. The relationship between the adorably cheeky girls & hilariously grumpy Gru really makes these films work. AND a brilliant score from Pharrell Williams. AND, of course, the Minions. AND fluffy unicorns. “It’s so fluffy!” – 8.5/10

WarGames – Hadn’t seen this in years. It has aged better than I was expecting (except for the actual technology, obviously). But it’s still a thoroughly entertaining story and I’ll forever love the ’80s films I grew up on. – 7.5/10

Howl’s Moving Castle(Original review HERE). As I said above, I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli & especially love the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Howl’s is as visually stunning & weird as all the rest but it’s never been an absolute favorite of mine as the story is just a bit too messy. I do love Ghibli weirdness but it just works better in Spirited Away for me. I’m still not sure what the heck is actually going on in Howl’s but do love the look & its characters (as with every Miyazaki movie). And Howl is hot with his Bowie-ness. – 7.5/10

Police Academy – I’ll always love the ’80s & its inappropriate humor. This one was even more inappropriate than I remembered! Ha! Filth. Good thing it’s not on the Disney channel – they’d have to slap a huge disclaimer on it since, you know, humans can’t be trusted to judge these things for themselves & must have history censored for them. – 7/10

National Lampoon’s Vacation – Surprisingly, I also hadn’t seen this John Hughes-written film in years either & was surprised to enjoy Police Academy slightly more. Not quite as good as I remembered but I still enjoyed it. Am just so used to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation now, which is far superior. – 7/10

Idiocracy – Again, a film that wasn’t as good as I remembered. I think with this one, I just loved (and still absolutely love) the concept. It’s scarily accurate. Especially after the last four years… We really are turning into a bunch of f*!king morons. The movie becomes more accurate with every year that goes by & for that I think this Mike Judge story is brilliant even if the execution could’ve been better. – 6.5/10

The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants – I really like this movie, even if it’s a little cheesy & “teenager”. Actually, my rating is a bit low as I probably don’t want to admit that I really like these characters & their stories. I like that we get four stories in one here (I always like movies like that – four for the price of one!). Some are better than others. I’ll rank them! The best story is definitely the Amber Tamblyn one where the cheeky young girl befriends her (that girl is the best character in the whole movie). Next is America Ferrera’s divorced family drama as I felt really bad for her (her dad & his new family were assholes & she was far too forgiving!). Next was the predictable Alexis Bledel Greece romance but Greece itself was gorgeous. Last was definitely the boring soccer romance drama (sorry, Blake Lively). Anyway, I like this movie more than I probably should & think my daughter really enjoyed it too. Much better than that Journey 2 crap! – 6.5/10

The Shallows(Original review HERE). Not sure why but I really like this Blake Lively shark attack story (more than her boring soccer romance drama – maybe this should’ve been her Sisterhood story!). It has a predictable backstory setup but, hey, the pretty blonde needs a reason to want to survive. Maybe I just like shark attack movies. I do enjoy most any kind of disaster movie… – 6.5/10

Shorts:

Pixar Popcorn – Of course we watched all of these super short Pixar shorts. For the most part, they’re not nearly as good as the longer ones we get before films (of course), but there are a few really fun ones here. Surprisingly, I liked the Ducky & Bunny ones the most (they weren’t favorite characters of mine from Toy Story 4). But the one where they argue over who is more lovable is hilarious. Here, I’ll rank them since I’m a pathetic, ranking fool!! (from best to “worst” but of course all are good):

1. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love
2. Dory Finding
3. Cookie Num Num
4. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads
5. Chore Day – The Incredibles Way
6. Soul of the City
7. To Fitness and Beyond
8. Dancing with the Cars
9. A Day in the Life of the Dead
10. Unparalleled Parking

Modest Heroes (Kanini & Kanino, Life Ain’t Gonna Lose & Invisible) – Watched this collection on Netflix of three shorts from Studio Ponoc, who made the delightful Mary And The Witch’s Flower (from people previously with Studio Ghibli). These were fine but a little underwhelming. The final one, about a lonely guy no one can see, is the best. It’s still worth checking out these shorts if you like anime.

Canvas – This was a lovely short on Netflix as well about a man who loses his passion for painting after his wife dies. Not as powerful as If Anything Happens I Love You but still good.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY

BOOKS READ

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz – Am 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. – 3/5

Currently Reading Moon by James Herbert as I enjoyed that freaky deaky The Rats book.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai: Season 3 – I’ve gone on about how much I adore Cobra Kai in previous posts so I won’t do that again. I’ll just say that I still love it. As expected, many shows go downhill and that’s the case with seasons 2 & 3 of Cobra Kai too but, luckily, I’d say they’re only going slightly downhill. This isn’t Stranger Things, where I couldn’t even finish Season 3. I still loved every moment of Cobra Kai Season 3 & the writing is still sharp and the characters are still strong. But, at this point, they’ve now covered most everything they can from the films and the teens have all fought each other in every way possible so I don’t see where they can easily go from here. But I’ll keep watching because I love these characters (especially Johnny – still can’t believe they turned that asshole around!).

The Crown: Season 2 & 2 episodes of Season 3: Oh man, I’m really not feeling the new cast in Season 3. Give me Claire Foy back! I hope these get better again, because I thought the first two seasons were great even though I only started watching this to get to the Diana years in Season 4…

WandaVision: Season 1 – Episodes 1-4 – I’m not a huge Marvel fan, although I’ve watched all the MCU movies and do like the characters. Am not sure what to think of this show but do love how original it feels. Being an ’80s latchkey kid who grew up watching loads of reruns of shows from the ’50s through to the late ’80s, I’ll always be fond of those shows and like that WandaVision is paying tribute to them (although the fake WandaVision shows aren’t as good as the original classic shows they’re spoofing). After episode four, I’m glad the story seems to be going in the direction I was expecting & I’m looking forward to watching the story fully unfold. But I’m hoping we get back to sitcoms next week as I want to see which ’80s one they do!

History Of Swear Words – This was fine. A fun throwaway show with lots of swearing. I love swearing, dammit. They covered a different word in each episode. Damn was one – how mild is THAT?! That’s not a swear word. Damn. Nicolas Cage was the perfect host for this. Although Samuel L. Jackson would have been better… Whoa – I have to update my Nicolas Cage Top Ten list!! Mandy would be number one now.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans besides posting these monthly updates. But I’ve been contemplating doing Top Ten lists again as I always enjoyed those…

What I’m really enjoying is trying to make the time to read movie blogs again. I miss the old days (I’ve been here 8 years) but there are some great new blogs. Have been feeling out of touch on movie releases where release dates are a nightmare thanks to the C word & I’ve not had time to read blogs to keep informed. And an old favorite blogger is back! Yay!! I mean old as in was here when I started… (I’d link him but not sure if he’s keeping a low profile). 🙂

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

No clue. Are any movies coming out?! As I said, I’m very out of touch. I still need to catch up on 2020 films that haven’t been on U.K. streaming services yet…

As I end these posts with a music clip, I’ll go with a favorite from The Jungle Book as I mentioned loving the songs in that.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2020

Hi All. Hope everyone is healthy & well. Guess I better catch up on these monthly roundups before the end of this shitty year. Here’s what I watched back in July. If I can remember enough to say anything about each of these all these months later… !

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Infinity Chamber – This was decent. One of those movies where the concept was better than the execution but they did well enough on what I assume was a low budget. Here’s the really short synopsis from IMDb: “A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape.” I’m a big fan of sci-fi & of a good sci-fi story so I’ll watch anything in this genre if I like the sound of it. With these lesser known films, you sometimes find some gems (Circle was pretty great) and you sometimes get some duds. Infinity Chamber is at the better end of things but I’d only recommend it to fans of this genre. I was hoping for a bit more, though. I didn’t feel that we got to know the main character well enough & I wanted to be able to sympathise with this poor guy stuck in this automated prison. And, to be honest, I found the plot a little hard to follow. Although I admit I’m not the brightest & often get confused watching complicated sci-fi but the story could have been a little more coherent.

Speaking of lesser known films, though, this film starred Christopher Soren Kelly who was also in a movie I’m happy to have the opportunity to now mention again: The Frame. Another sci-fi film with a fantastic idea, I highly recommend The Frame (on Amazon Prime – I reviewed it HERE). So watch that first! Then watch Circle (not that crappy Tom Hanks movieTHIS Circle). I actually had the actors from both The Frame & Circle thank me on my blog & Twitter for praising those movies. I love when that happens! Those involved with these independent films appreciate it when you enjoy their work so I do try to support films like these. I want to give Infinity Chamber a higher rating than this as I do very much appreciate that stuff like this gets made. I’m always afraid that stuff like this doesn’t always get given a chance so, despite my somewhat “meh” review, do check it out if you’re a sci-fi fan. – 6.5/10

No Country For Old Men – I finally watched this to get it off of two lists I’ve been trying to work my way through: The IMDb Top 250 & Best Picture Oscar Winners. Guess I need to update both those ranked lists but No Country For Old Men will unfortunately be quite far down both lists. I’ve just never been a Coen Brothers fan. Sorry! Is that allowed for a movie blogger?! (FYI – I also hate Wes Anderson movies). Well, I don’t hate the Coen Brothers films. At all. I just don’t exactly like them either. I recognise that they’re good films and, once again, No Country For Old Men is a very good film with some brilliant acting and a truly despicable & hateful character. I guess Javier Bardem was deserving of his Oscar win since I did truly hate his character, as we’re meant to. What can I say? I’ve never liked “the baddies”. I’m always rooting for the good guy & I want to see evil get its comeuppance so most Coen Brothers films aren’t for me. Although I realise their films are never as simple as pure good vs. pure evil, as Josh Brolin’s character in this isn’t exactly a saint. But we see the bad guys win in real life enough so I don’t really need to see it in movies. Yet I love dystopian sci-fi & am a big pessimist & often a fan of a truly depressing movie ending, so… I don’t know exactly why I don’t get on with the Coen Brothers films. Hmm. It’s a good film so I’ll give it a slightly higher rating than I feel like giving it. Plus I don’t want to be yelled at. Not that anyone reads this blog… – 7/10

Wildflower – How the HELL did a movie exist in 1991 starring Patricia Arquette & Reese Witherspoon without me knowing about it?! I was still in high school at that point & this is the type of movie I’d have watched to death. I think it may have been a TV movie? But I somehow missed out on it. I can think of plenty of TV movies I watched to death at that sort of time: The Stepford Children, I Saw What You Did, In A Child’s Name, and this great little Winona Ryder thing called Square Dance, aka Home Is Where The Heart Is, which was kind of similar to Wildflower. Shit, I want to track down that Winona movie & watch it again! Bet it hasn’t aged well. But I’ll always be fond of it in the same way I’m sure I’d have been fond of Wildflower if I’d seen it in high school instead of now. And I thoroughly enjoyed Wildflower as I’m a fan of the actresses & am always happy to discover unseen movies from my teen years as I honestly feel like I’ve seen them all by now. Is it a good movie? Meh. It’s fine. The acting is okay. It does very much feel like a film with a TV movie budget. But I liked the characters and, as you can tell from my No Country For Old Men review, that’s important to me. I enjoyed this. Wish I’d seen it as a teenager. – 6.5/10

She’s Gotta Have It – This is an interesting film to follow the above two as, clearly, I often like films that I can “relate” to. Wildflower has actresses my kind of age (sort of) so I know why I liked it as I was that age in 1991 & it’s somewhat a coming of age story. I can’t relate to anyone in No Country For Old Men in any way whatsoever. But I also can’t relate to anyone in She’s Gotta Have It. However, I liked it much more than No Country For Old Men. I’d possibly even rank it higher (I find it hard to “rank” very different types of films when I do these lists). I of course love to see a strong, independent woman in a movie so I really liked the character of Nola Darling (played by Tracy Camilla Johns). I also liked the men all fighting for her affections as they had such different & entertaining personalities. I kept changing my mind on who she should choose (not any of these men, really – they were idiots!). I fully admit to not seeing many of Spike Lee’s movies other than Do The Right Thing, which I thought was a great film (I’d rank that far above No Country For Old Men). Of course I’m not going to exactly relate to his films being a small town Midwest girl but a good film with good writing is something I’ll always appreciate. I enjoyed the conversations in She’s Gotta Have It. It’s so New York. Or at least how I imagine that big city I’ve never ever been to. I think a lot of people in this world are probably a little fascinated with New York as there are SO many movies set there and I like seeing a slice of life so different from my own. I enjoyed this movie more than I was expecting to & would like to see more of Lee’s work, especially from that late ’80s/early ’90s time period. Any recommendations? – 6.5/10

The Borderlands – I love a good horror. We get so few good horror films these days. This one was… Okay. Not even close to being a great modern horror (like It Follows, Train To Busan or The Babadook). But it was a perfectly decent example of the found footage & religious horror subgenres & had a good creepy atmosphere. I also kind of liked the ending as it got a bit weird. I like some weirdness! The whole thing could have done with more of that. I have NO clue why but this one made me think of horror movie The Ritual. That was an odd one. Oh, probably just because they’re both British. Anyway, The Ritual has gone up a bit in my estimation since I first saw it. That one was better. But if you like that, you might like this. And vice versa. – 6/10

Blades Of Glory – Sometimes you want to chill out with a dumb comedy. I don’t give comedy films enough of a chance as I hate so many of them, especially nowadays. So I tried to be open-minded! But this was disappointing. A little too dumb. Maybe I chuckled once? Can’t remember. Saw this four months ago now & already barely remember it. Meh. Will Ferrell is very hit or miss & this was a miss. – 5/10

Step Brothers – Ugh. This movie was truly dreadful. I actually watched it immediately after Blades Of Glory as I thought it looked like it would be the better of the two and I like John C. Reilly sometimes. I was so wrong! I think it made me appreciate Blades Of Glory more. Dumb & immature jokes and two grown men acting like hateful teenagers. Another big Will Ferrell miss! I’ll stick to SNL Celebrity Jeopardy & Elf. And, hell, that Eurovision movie too as it was surprisingly enjoyable. Cheesy but enjoyable. Step Brothers was just painful. Do people not moan when grown women act immature in things like Bridesmaids?! Why is it okay when grown men do the same sort of so-called comedy? (For the record, Bridesmaids isn’t my type of thing either but the comedy in that was a hell of a lot better than in this piece of crap. I at least get some laughs out of Bridesmaids). – 4/10

Golden Time – This was an animated short on Netflix. I forgot about it until I noticed it listed here all these months later. It was fine. It was certainly better than those two dumb Will Ferrell comedies but it’s just a short so I’m sticking it at the end of my list. And I’m not rating it either. Because it’s four months later & fuck if I remember much about it now!! It was about a TV in a junkyard. I think. What an amazing review! Wow I suck at blogging these days. I probably liked it because there were anthropomorphic inanimate objects. A favorite thing of mine! I used to do a series on this blog called Anthropomorphic Cuteness. I miss doing those posts.

Movies Rewatched In July:

Already reviewed most of these in the past (in the links below). I seem to have spent lockdown re-watching movies more than watching ones for the first time. I’m missing first-time watches, but what’s on offer on the services isn’t great…

Weird Science – I will always love John Hughes movies (which is why I did a big John Hughes Blogathon here years ago. Ah – the good ‘ol blog days. Happy times…) – 8.5/10

The Truman Show – Finally introduced the kid to this one. Think she liked it. I think it’s a great film & that Jim Carrey was perfect for the role. I remember the movie seeming a little exaggerated at the time. Not now! We’re certainly living in this sort of reality show nightmare now. They tried to warn us! – 8/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Meh. The first two films (and books) are so much better. But the kid thoroughly enjoyed these films. – 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Still hate how this book ended… But still think Jennifer Lawrence was born to play Katniss. – 7/10

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – Showed the kid the other (and main) side of Jim Carrey with this one. Should I admit that? It’s a bit inappropriate. Screw it – I saw stuff no less inappropriate at her age. And she of course loved it when he talked with his butt. Kids are so immature… (Speaking of dumb comedy like when I bitched about Step Brothers, I know Ace Ventura is dumb too. But I like it. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

BOOKS READ

Flight Or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King & Bev Vincent – Enjoyed this. I really like short story collections, especially in the horror or sci-fi genres. I’m not going to go into each story but, if you like Stephen King’s stuff (or his son Joe Hill’s), you’d like this collection of stories from various authors both well-known & not so well-known. They’re all stories revolving around airplanes and/or flying. So don’t read it while on a flight! Not that anyone can fly anywhere at the moment anyway… – 3.5/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz books. They’re a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I ranked them all HERE once. Well, 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. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Well, I made no notes here of what I watched so I guess I watched no TV shows in July. Let’s be honest – only The Mandalorian & Cobra Kai are worth watching anyway. Those are the only shows I’ve truly enjoyed in years.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Umm. Maybe I’ll attempt to post my monthly roundups for August, September & October? If I can be bothered. 🙂 I’ve watched nothing that great anyway. Except The Platform! That was good. Man, I can’t wait to see Pixar’s Soul at the end of December…

I always try to end these roundups with good music from a movie that I watched that month. Think I’ll go with something from Weird Science. John Hughes always chose the best music for his movies. This is my absolute favorite song from Weird Science & an overall Eighties favorite of mine – here’s Tenderness by General Public:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2020

Hi All. Here’s another roundup post with everything I watched in May. Looks like it was X-Men Month in our household…

MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – I was surprised when this movie turned up in the IMDb Top 250 (a bit later, after starting my project HERE). So I figured I’d check it out as a part of the project that I’m never ever going to finish. This is a lovely, heartwarming & very understated film. It’s inspired by a great true story about a very loyal dog in 1920’s Japan. I’d love to now see the original Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari from 1987. I unfortunately found out a bit too much about the story beforehand so I won’t spoil it if you don’t know it. I think this is one where you’re better going into it without knowing the story beforehand. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love this film. – 7.5/10

Fruitvale Station – I watched this at the beginning of May & it of course became even more relevant later on. This is also, unfortunately, a true story. From Wikipedia: “Fruitvale Station is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland.” This was Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut and starred Michael B. Jordan, who of course went on to also be in Coogler’s Black Panther. Jordan was great in this & I always like this sort of approach to telling a story, especially a true one (showing a simple day-in-the-life of the person). The movie follows Grant on his final day, leading up to the fatal shooting. It obviously gets tense as it leads up to what you know is going to happen so it’s of course not an easy watch (which is why I admittedly don’t watch true stories often – I want movies to provide escapism from how shitty the world can be). But it’s a good & important film. – 7.5/10

The Wraith – I’m always a little shocked when I discover the existence of an ’80s movie that I somehow never saw. This 1986 film showed up on Amazon Prime UK so I had to give it a watch (even though it stars Charlie Sheen. Ew.). But I loved the sound of it from the plot. From Wikipedia: “The Wraith tells the story of an Arizona teen who mysteriously returns from the dead as a supernatural street-racer driving an invulnerable supercar. His intent is to take revenge on the gang who murdered him.” That sounds weird as shit & right up my alley.

The movie is fun & kind of what I expected, although it could’ve been a little cooler. Not sure how, but it obviously didn’t quite make it to cult level status although it had that potential. I think it needed to be a little more bizarre. For a weird plot synopsis, the movie itself wasn’t weird enough. Plus Sheen was a bit dull – maybe this would be a cult film now had it starred someone else? Hell, his brother Emilio would’ve been much better. Which made me think that I really want to watch Repo Man again, as I don’t remember much now but love Harry Dean Stanton.

This is another thing I love about discovering ’80s movies I never saw: I love spotting so many actors I liked, especially if they’re obscure actors I recognise from other ’80s films. Two not-so-obscure ones in The Wraith but it was great seeing Randy Quaid and Clint Howard (this was a big role for him! He’s usually not much more than a cameo). Anyway – it’s a fun movie but it could’ve been better. I want to give it a higher rating than this. I’d probably like it more if it had been one I’d managed to see when I was a teenager. – 6.5/10

The Wolverine – Wait, was this the bad Wolverine movie or the REALLY bad one?? Oh yeah – the really bad one was Origins. And I’d seen that one before, so it’s in the Rewatched section below. I don’t have the energy to write about the X-Men films, which I watched ALL of (other than Logan & Dark Phoenix) during lockdown. Here’s how I feel about X-Men: I know nothing whatsoever about the comics but absolutely loved the first film when it came out. I was a nerd in my mid-20s & it was the first “superhero” thing I really went for. I just liked the concept & thought the characters were great. I even bought some damn toys (including Professor X, as I already loved Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: TNG). Then the second movie was great. Then…. they all went downhill from there. Damn. But I still really like the whole X-Men thing overall so I’m giving even the worst films no lower than a 6/10. I just wish the movies were better as I still love the story & the characters. Maybe I should look into the comics, huh?

Anyway – the reason for rewatching them all was because my daughter showed an interest in seeing them. She’s very into “girl” superheroes at the moment & spends a lot of time drawing them. Two of her favorites are Kitty Pryde & X-23. The other two are Jessica Jones & Kate Bishop, who I know nothing about, but we managed to find a comic series containing both of them & aimed at pre-teens & she absolutely loves it. And she’s gone for the X-Men movies big time, which is interesting as she didn’t go quite so much for the MCU stuff (as she was too young to grow up with those, I guess, so only saw some of the later films & missed out on watching the characters develop). It’s just interesting as I felt the same way in far preferring X-Men to other superhero stuff at the time. I think it’s great that I was able to pass my nerdy X-Men toys onto my daughter 20 years later. 🙂

Oh yeah – was I meant to be reviewing The Wolverine?! It sucked. I only watched it a few months ago & barely remember it already. Yikes. And I think I fell asleep through part of it. But it sucked a bit less than Origins. How did they make such a mess out of movies about such an awesome character twice?! Luckily Logan turned out good (which is too violent for the kid so she’s not seen that one, FYI). – 6/10

X-Men: Apocalypse – Ugh. This one was a mess too. It’s such a mess that I’ve ranked it below The Wolverine. However, I’m not sure which one is actually worse. But I just didn’t go for these “First Class” younger X-Men movies as much. Give me old Patrick Stewart instead! But Michael Fassbender is hot, so… I guess there’s that. What even happened in this one again?! Okay – I think I watched too many X-Men movies in one month. Can’t keep them straight! But that’s the problem with superhero movies, which is why this genre is not truly a favorite of mine: They’re all too similar. Same with the MCU films. At least the MCU films did a better job with the origin stories, which I mostly preferred to the Avengers movies as you get much better character development than you do when too many superheroes are all crammed into a movie together. I wish the X-Men movies had managed to do as good of a job following an overall story arc like the MCU movies did. – 6/10

Dark Places – Oh, look – it’s young Beast from X-Men! Holy shit – I barely remember this movie either. It was only three months ago! My mind has clearly been elsewhere during this pandemic. What’s sad is that I also read this book. From what I remember of the book, this was a faithful adaptation. It just wasn’t my favorite story from Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which was a very enjoyable book (review here). But what I liked even more was her novel Sharp Objects (sort-of review here). That book was fucked up! And the TV adaptation with Amy Adams was decent. Dark Places was okay but meh. The characters are all pretty hateful (but that’s the case with all of Flynn’s books that I’ve read). Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.” – 5.5/10

Rewatched:

I discussed how I feel about X-Men above so I’m not going to discuss each film below. The above were first-time-watches for me but I rewatched all of the below movies in May as well.

X-Men – Yay! – 7.5/10

X-Men 2 – Yay too! – 7.5/10

X-Men: First Class – Not bad but prefer the older characters – 7/10

Mulan – I want to like Mulan more than I do. I like the story & her character but the rest of the characters & the film are a bit weak. My daughter was obsessed with this one in May and watched it over & over. I actually badly want to see the live-action film as it looks so damn good from the trailer. And I’m someone who HATES all these horrible live-action versions Disney have been doing. Beauty And The Beast with annoying Emma Watson? Yuck! – 7/10

The Fox And The Hound – I’ve always been fond of this one, as well as The Rescuers, as for some reason I remember both very well from a young age. Not sure how I saw them, as renting movies obviously didn’t exist at that point (god I’m old). With The Rescuers, I think it’s partly due to having a book of it as a little kid as well as a View-Master reel or whatever you called it (goddamn – I really AM old). And I assume I saw it in the cinema on some re-release. I’ll have seen The Fox And The Hound on its original release, so I guess I really liked it as I was the right sort of age for it. And I’ve always liked “animal” Disney stories the most. So I rewatched this one with the kid in May (is it obvious that Disney Plus was new to the U.K. at the start of lockdown?! Perfect timing). Anyway, on a rewatch I have to admit that this is certainly one of Disney’s weaker films. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still far better than movies from that horrible mid-90s into early 2000s Disney phase (Sorry, Hercules & Emperor’s New Groove lovers). Tod & Copper are still completely loveable, though. – 7/10

X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Wow – I was harsh in my original review of this (linked). I liked it more the second time around. It’s far better than Apocalypse! – 7/10

X-Men: The Last Stand – Hmm – 6.5/10

SpaceCamp – I remember liking this movie a lot at the time (1986) but hadn’t seen it in years. Must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the rewatch. I want to give it a higher rating but know that would be due to nostalgia. It’s a VERY ’80s film so may seem a bit dated now but, for me, that’s a big part of its charm. However, it’s a very fun story for kids so I think any watching it now would still have a lot of fun with it. What was really interesting was seeing Joaquin Phoenix (then Leaf Phoenix) as a young child star again. I still see him that way even now (I was instead a big fan of brother River thanks to Stand By Me) but I think anyone younger watching SpaceCamp now would find it very weird seeing the Joker as this sweet little kid.

Screw it – I’m giving this a score that’s probably half a point more than it deserves. I just still really like this one. And if you have young kids interested in space travel, I’d still recommend this movie. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “The young attendees of a space camp find themselves in space for real when their shuttle is accidentally launched into orbit.” And I now see why it failed at the box office, as I just read this at Wikipedia: “The film received mixed reviews and is famous for being a “marketing nightmare,” as it was released less than five months after the Challenger accident of January 28, 1986 (although filming was completed before the disaster occurred). The film performed poorly at the box office, grossing less than $10 million in the US. The script was later adapted into a novel, which did include references to the Challenger explosion and some of the kids’ decisions to attend Space Camp in the wake of said tragedy.” FYI: SpaceCamp stars Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston (R.I.P. – still in shock at her recent death), Larry B. Scott, Leaf Phoenix, Tate Donovan & Tom Skerritt – 7/10

Mannequin – Cheesy as fuck but I’m an ’80s kid so of course I still appreciate this stupid movie. – 6.5/10

National Treasure – Decided to rewatch this with the kid as remember liking it the first time around. It was still enjoyable but more boring than I’d remembered. Honestly, there’s too much in the way of boring American history in this film. America – Fuck Yeah! I imagine this movie didn’t do as well outside the U.S. Sorry, it probably doesn’t help that History was always one of my least favorite subjects. I prefer sci-fi & the future to humanity’s horrible past. I also thought this movie had more of an Indiana Jones vibe to it but it’s really just Indiana Jones if he wasn’t sexy as hell and if he tried to teach you a little too much about history along the way instead of just melting the baddies’ faces off. – 6.5/10

You’ve Got Mail – This movie is cute and I still like the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan combo but this is the worst of the films they did together. Tom Hanks’ character is also kind of a dick in this one. Tom Hanks can’t be a dick! No, it just doesn’t work. But this is still worth watching if you like these old rom-coms which rarely get made anymore. Why did that stop?! It’s admittedly not my favorite genre but the movies were enjoyable & inoffensive and had some great stars. Just be sure to watch Sleepless In Seattle first as it’s much better. But their best one by far is the quirky Joe Versus The Volcano (which I realise won’t be everyone’s cup of tea). Apparently they also did a movie called Ithaca together in 2016 but I don’t know a thing about that one (I see it was directed by Ryan, though – I’d like to see that now). – 6.5/10

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – God this one is bad. It deserves a much lower rating but I just can’t help but still like the whole X-Men thing… – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC & BOOKS

Nothing “new” to mention here. I’ve just been listening to my usual Apple playlist A LOT lately (it’s one of the best things about working from home: music all day long). One thing I’ll say is that I’ve really been enjoying all the Jóhann Jóhannsson soundtrack stuff that keeps popping up on my playlist while I’m working (particularly the Mandy score). What a loss to the filmmaking world – he did fantastic scores.

I also continued reading Frank Herbert’s Dune throughout May (finishing in June).

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Golden Girls – As I said in my April roundup post, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this on Channel 5 during my lunch breaks. I’m really missing it! Now I just work through lunch some of the time. Bring The Golden Girls back!!!

– As I also mentioned, the UK finally got Disney Plus (in April?), so a lot of time was spent watching Disney stuff those first few months. I especially enjoyed watching all the Silly Symphonies with my daughter. Man, I spent a small fortune many years ago trying to buy all those up when they were released in fancy metal tins. Love them. I especially liked the one that introduced Donald Duck as a character. We also enjoyed Pixar In Real Life, some of which are fun & some a bit meh. I swear no one in the Brave episode knew who the hell Merida was & people didn’t seem to catch on to the Up stuff either. Wow – I’d instantly recognise all Disney & Pixar references in real life. And all the Disney & Pixar shorts are great. Where The Golden Girls stopped showing during my lunch breaks, I still sometimes stick on a Disney or Pixar short to watch with the kid during lunch now. She also really liked the Forky Asks A Question shorts. I find Forky a bit annoying, though. Can only take him in small doses, so the shorts are just the right length.

– We did enjoy watching the Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff they showed on Friday nights during the start of lockdown. Very cool that they did that. Can’t say I loved all of them, though. I just have no class. My favorite was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but we stopped watching The Phantom of the Opera out of boredom. Sorry. See? No class! Jesus Christ Superstar was also disappointing, as I really like the 1973 film. We’ll watch the film version next Easter instead…

– Finally, I started catching up on the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy in May. God that show annoys me. But I can’t quit watching after so many years! And they had the dumbest “write-off” of a character yet with Alex Karev. WTF was that?! Dumb as hell. That was more stupid than when the guy who played George clearly pissed them off on the show so they had his character get hit by a bus & end up in the hospital completely unrecognisable so that they didn’t even need the actor to film that final episode where they kill him off. Haha. So petty.

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

Well, I’ve managed to do my roundup posts up to May now. Didn’t think I’d manage as don’t feel like writing lately. So I guess I’ll try to post June & July as well.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Haven’t bothered with this section as not much is really coming out to see. Plus, I won’t be going to a cinema again for a very, very long time. Feel bad about that as, obviously, movies are my main hobby & I was a regular customer before the pandemic. But I don’t have the money now plus I don’t think it’s safe. Luckily no one reads this blog anyway. 🙂 But the only reviews that ever get any hits are the ones for current releases and I won’t be seeing many of those now.

As for films that were meant to come out in 2020, these are the only ones I badly want to see:

Bill & Ted Face The Music – I NEED to see this. I’m a big Bill & Ted fan (the whole family are big fans) but it was just announced that it will be a cinema-only release in the UK. Extremely unimpressed at that. Why can’t it be video on demand here as well?!?! This has been my most anticipated movie since the second it was announced. Now we have no clue when we’ll be able to safely see it in the UK plus it’s released an entire month after America gets it anyway. So, yay – the whole movie will have been spoiled by then. Just like how The Mandalorian was spoiled for us. Great.

Mulan – At least it’s looks like the UK might get a chance to see this one? Who knows, though – we still get screwed over on later releases for some of the Disney Plus stuff too.

Top Gun: Maverick – I admit it – I love Top Gun. I was really looking forward to this.

Dune – Well, I finally read the book! I mainly want to see this, though, as Denis Villeneuve is my favorite newer filmmaker.

As I mentioned the great Jóhann Jóhannsson above, here’s something of his from the Mandy score:

My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019

Welcome to Day 2 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.

I watched more films in the IMDb Top 250 in 2019 than I was planning, so I’m glad I’ve now worked through seeing 65 more of the 250 since starting my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2013. I think I only have about 36 left to watch now (if I’ve counted correctly). Not too bad!

I won’t have time to review any of the below in full like I was hoping but I’ve included the links to my original posts where I talked a tiny bit about each of them (some more than others). They really do deserve full reviews someday, especially the fantastic top four. There are also two I hated (the bottom two), which doesn’t happen often with the Top 250 films.

Here are My Top Ten (okay, actually 12) IMDb Top 250 Movies That I Watched In 2019 (from least favorite to favorite):

12. The Grand Budapest Hotel – 5/10

11. Oldboy (2003) – 5/10

10. 3 Idiots – 7/10

9. The Wild Bunch – 7/10

8. The Killing – 7/10

7. Touch Of Evil – 7/10

6. The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) – 7.5/10

5. The Hunt (Jagten) – 7.5/10

4. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10

3. Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – 7.5/10

2. Ip Man – 8/10

1. Yojimbo – 8/10

These are the Top Ten lists I’ll be posting this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019 (yesterday)
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019 (earlier today)
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

Happy 7th Blogiversary To Me

Wow. Seven years of doing this blogging thing. 🙂

I’m not posting as regularly these days & plan to cut down even more in the New Year. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to post anything other than maybe my Monthly Roundups with mini-reviews of what I’ve watched each month. Because the one thing I’ll never stop doing is keeping lists of what I’ve watched. I’m a List NERD.

So, as the year is almost over, here are my current Top Ten Movie Lists For 2019 So Far. Will be interesting to see if they change much over the next month. Please please please let Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker be good enough to make the list…

These lists are from numbers 1 to 10 (just to be awkward as I usually count down to number one).

My Top Ten 2019 UK Movie Releases So Far:

1. Doctor Sleep – 8/10
2. Alita: Battle Angel – 7.5/10
3. Yesterday – 7.5/10
4. Fighting With My Family – 7.5/10
5. It Chapter Two – 7.5/10
6. Judy – 7.5/10
7. Hustlers – 7.5/10
8. Joker – 7.5/10
9. Rocketman – 7.5/10
10. Avengers: Endgame – 7.5/10

My Top Ten Movies Seen At Home In 2019 So Far:

1. A Matter Of Life And Death – 8/10
2. Yojimbo – 8/10
3. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10
4. Ip Man – 8/10
5. Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – 7.5/10
6. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10
7. Wind River – 7.5/10
8. The Hunt (Jagten) – 7.5/10
9. Miss Hokusai – 7.5/10
10. The Great Adventure Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun (aka The Little Norse Prince) – 7.5/10

City Of God (Cidade de Deus) (2002) Review For The Luso World Cinema Blogathon

I’m taking part in the Luso World Cinema Blogathon hosted by Crítica Retrô and Spellbound By Movies. You can read all about the blogathon HERE & HERE. Thanks for letting me participate! I look forward to reading all the entries. 🙂

My entry is a review of the 2002 Portuguese language film City Of God, which was nominated for four Oscars and is currently ranked 22nd in the IMDb Top 250. I originally watched & reviewed this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project and as a Resolutions 2014 film as I’d been meaning to make the time to watch it. I admit that my knowledge is very limited when it comes to Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking countries) films. So I’m very interested in reading the other entries as I do try to explore all types of cinema. But, yeah – I had to use the Keanu Reeves banner. Who doesn’t love Keanu!!

Here’s my uneducated review of City Of God. I’m sure I don’t do it justice but it is a really good film.

City Of God (2002)
Portuguese: Cidade de Deus

Directed by Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund (co-director)

Based on City of God by Paulo Lins

Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Alice Braga, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins, but the plot is loosely based on real events. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980s, with the closure of the film depicting the war between the drug dealer Li’l Zé and criminal Knockout Ned. The tagline is “If you run, the beast catches; if you stay, the beast eats”, (a proverb analogous to the English “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”).

My Opinion:

I’d been curious about this movie for a long time as it’s SO high in the IMDB Top 250 films of all-time (it’s currently number 22). I’ve been working my way through the 250 since starting my blog as I have a challenge to try to watch them all and this was the second highest ranking film I’d not yet seen.

It’s good, yes. I liked it. Does it deserve to be above things like Once Upon A Time In The West & It’s A Wonderful Life? I’m not sure about that. It’s definitely a fascinating look at a lifestyle that I (luckily) can’t really relate to as someone from a very small town in the American Midwest. I know this is “loosely based on real events” but haven’t looked into it enough to know what is fact and what isn’t. Either way, it’s awful knowing that people have had to live this way and terrifying to see the ease with which some of the characters in this engage in violent activity and don’t think twice about taking someone’s life.

I will say that I can partly see why this film is so popular, even though it’s not really my kind of thing. There are some great characters in this. The lead & narrator, Rocket (above), is the one truly “good guy” in a film filled with people who seem to have no conscience and you really do want the best for him. His friend Benny is very cool – he’s the guy everyone likes and he helps to keep the peace a bit between the two main rival gangs who are controlling the area. I love that this takes place during the late 60s into the early 80s & Benny adopts a groovy 70’s look. Then there’s Knockout Ned, a great character I’d love to have seen be a bit further developed (although he’s more well-developed than most of the characters in this) and the truly amoral Li’l Zé, who is the most powerful criminal in the area.

What’s amazing is I read that only one person in this was a professional experienced actor and the majority were people from “favelas” (shanty towns) and some from the actual City Of God who were chosen and then trained in acting as the director wanted the film to feel authentic. I’ll say that it definitely worked and the “actors” in this did an excellent job. I felt bad after giving Slumdog Millionaire a horrible review & then finding out some of those in it were from real-life slums (turns out it was the kids, who were the only good thing about that film anyway). Fortunately, City Of God is a much better film than Slumdog Millionaire and feels very real whereas Millionaire felt like it was trying too hard and just felt phoney to me (sorry, fans!).

I’ve just scratched the surface on the characters as there are LOTS of them in this film but those are some of the main ones & the most memorable. But as there are so many, we unfortunately don’t get as much character development as I’d like to have had. Why do they do the things that they do? I suppose it’s because they don’t have much other choice. But then why does Rocket manage to remain a “good guy”? We’re given a reason for Knockout Ned making the choices he makes but not really for why Li’l Zé is so evil. But, as I’ve said, it really isn’t a lifestyle I have any sort of experience with so I can’t comment on it too much. This is sort of the Boyz N The Hood of Rio de Janeiro. I think that’s a great film as well but, again, I couldn’t fully relate to it. But both films are certainly worth a watch to gain at least a small understanding of what it’s like for those who have no choice but to live a life surrounded by poverty and/or violence and to be grateful for the lives so many of us are fortunate to have outside of that.

Was City Of God a worthy watch? Yes – I’m glad I finally watched it. It won’t become an all-time favorite of mine like some of the IMDB Top 250 films I’ve watched in the last few years already have but I’d recommend it to anyone who thinks that it sounds like their sort of film. The performances are very good & the movie isn’t preachy – it just shows us the poor & violent lives led by those living in & around the City Of God from the late 60s to the early 80s.

My Rating: 8/10

Metropolis (1927) Blind Spot Review

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by Fritz Lang

Based on Metropolis (1925 novel) by Thea von Harbou

Starring: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 89 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Splendor In The Grass
2. Metropolis
1. Enter The Dragon

Well, I didn’t manage to watch my 12 Blind Spot choices this year as life got too busy but at least I watched eight. Better than nothing! And five of them were well worth the time and definitely worthy Blind Spot picks. The best was indeed Metropolis, which I’ve weirdly been putting off seeing for years despite loving the look of it and liking plenty of silent films. I watched it months ago but also put off reviewing it as it’s one of those where I don’t feel I have enough knowledge to do it any sort of justice. What can I say about it that hasn’t been said? It’s a brilliant, gorgeous film and so eerily ahead of its time. Oh, and yes I loved Enter The Dragon so I have it at number one in the above list. Of course Metropolis is the superior film but I always rank according to what I enjoyed the most and I had more fun with Enter The Dragon. I also absolutely adored Splendor In The Grass and did have that at number two until now as it moved me in a way that Metropolis didn’t but putting Metropolis below it just didn’t seem right as it’s a damn masterpiece. But I may change my mind & switch the order again. I’m like that. (I’ll try to review Splendor In The Grass tomorrow)

Metropolis of course also counts as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project. As I started that in 2013, I’m still working off that list. It breaks my heart to see old films slowly being knocked off that list & replaced with modern ones. Since 2013, Metropolis has dropped from 89 to 110. I just looked now to see what’s higher and got thoroughly annoyed at six Christopher Nolan movies having higher ratings than Metropolis. No way! Am I seriously the only person who thinks Nolan is massively overrated? I’ve only truly liked one of his movies (The Prestige). And Avengers: Infinity War is a fun film but it sure as shit isn’t Top 250 material. Okay – I’ll shut the hell up since I’ve ranked Enter The Dragon above Metropolis so I guess people just like what they like.

What I find interesting is that Fritz Lang’s film M, which I reviewed HERE, is actually higher in the list than Metropolis. Although it’s also a visual masterpiece and a brilliant example of filmmaking done right, I don’t think it’s the better film of the two. I can see why it’s higher, though, as it’s a more “accessible” film for a modern audience. It’s not silent, which I know puts some people off. It’s also a fantastic crime thriller, which is a genre with lots of fans. It’s a genre I rarely like, though. Give me sci-fi and fantasy. Metropolis is right up my alley but I can fully understand why some would find it overlong and probably even boring, although that makes me a little sad. I mean, look at these amazing images! Look! WOW. This is from 1927! Did this not blow people’s minds back then?? It must have. Although, in reading about it, it had some very negative reviews at the time.

The most negative review I saw on Wikipedia was from H.G. Wells, “who accused it of “foolishness, cliché, platitude, and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general.” He faulted Metropolis for its premise that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, wondered who was buying the machines’ output if not the workers, and found parts of the story derivative of Shelley’s Frankenstein.” A lot of reviewers at the time called the story silly & simplistic. I think it has stood the test of time pretty well, especially considering how long ago it was made, but it’s not as scarily prophetic as some later sci-fi films exploring similar themes and ideas involving the future of mankind. There’s still a huge divide between the rich and the poor but our world looks very different from Lang’s vision and he never could have predicted today’s technology and the way in which it controls us mentally more than physically. We’re living in a dystopian future as predicted but it’s a very different dystopia than Lang predicted. So, while this film is stunningly beautiful, I can’t say I connected with it quite as much as some other sci-fi classics when it came to the overall story.

Before I end this so called review, I figured I should also mention The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari as it’s another example of German Expressionism in film. That’s two silent German Expressionist movies I’ve seen! I’m, like, an expert now! Okay – I have zero knowledge on this topic. All I know is that it looks cool as shit and I could spend all day looking at the type of imagery used in these two films. It’s stark and haunting and a little bit creepy and I love it. I like my art a little bit creepy (H.R. Giger is the best). So, again, this is my type of thing but won’t be to everyone’s taste. I admit to being a sucker for great visuals in a film. Give me great imagery & cinematography and I’m happy. Add a beautiful score as well and I’m over the damn moon, such as in a Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western. That’s epic filmmaking. That’s the type of thing I expect when I think “Top 250 Films Of All Time”. Metropolis is iconic, beautiful, and epic. To me, at least. To others, it’s probably boring as shit. Story-wise, it’s not perfect. It’s a little bit messy and I can see how those at the time probably found it pretentious. Would I stick a Metropolis poster up in my cinema room (if I was rich & had such a thing)? Hell Yeah! The film is a work of art. Is it a new all-time favorite film of mine? No, I’ll admit it’s not. If I’m honest, I’ll put Splendor In The Grass just above it on my list. I enjoyed it more. I told you I’d probably change my mind! But nothing can top the artistry of Metropolis.

My Rating: 8.5/10

The King’s Speech (2010) IMDB Top 250 Review

The King’s Speech (2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 160 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

My Opinion:

Happy Boxing Day! I love this day. I prefer this day to Christmas Day. Far less stressful! Which is why I’ve decided to do a mega quick & lazy review of The King’s Speech, which was one of only three movies I managed to watch for my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2018. I’m seriously slacking on that! (The other two were Citizen Kane & Metropolis, which I’ll review tomorrow).

I didn’t get around to this review as I don’t have much to say about this movie. I hate that. I mean, it’s a good film but I find my reviews only get wordy when I really love or really hate a film (I ramble on for ages when I really hate something). Too many films are somewhere in between: Enjoyable enough while watching them but somewhat forgettable. The King’s Speech is like that. And it won Best Picture at the Oscars! Hmm. Here’s what it beat:

127 Hours (not seen it – there’s that arm bit – ew)
Black Swan (certainly more memorable than The King’s Speech)
The Fighter (meh)
Inception (Nolan is overrated)
The Kids Are All Right (meh)
The Social Network (decent film but also meh)
Toy Story 3 (yeah, I prefer this to The King’s Speech)
True Grit (not seen it)
Winter’s Bone (meh)

Okay – it looks like it was a weak year for films. Now I’m wondering what wasn’t nominated at all that may have been better than these (I’m too lazy to bother looking into that).

I remember that I watched this just after watching Darkest Hour so it was interesting seeing that same time period in English history. Movies are the only way I gain any knowledge of history – I have such a Hollywood version of world history in my head. Pathetic, I know. What can I say? I prefer sci-fi & fantasy. I remember thinking Timothy Spall made for a terrible Winston Churchill in this compared to Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance. Not that it matters – it was a very small part since this movie is about King George VI. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all truly fantastic in their roles. That’s why it won Best Picture. Those Academy voters love historical dramas with English accents. Well, Rush isn’t English but Americans can’t tell the difference anyway…

Colin Firth won Best Actor for this, which I think was fair enough. He’s very good in this but I find him rather boring. He plays this stuffy sort of role so often (which is why I guess it was kind of fun seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service). I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance and think she deserved an Oscar as well instead of Melissa Leo in The Fighter. Hell, I don’t even remember Leo’s performance – I only remember her swearing in her acceptance speech. To be fair, Bonham Carter plays these stuffy sort of roles more often than Firth but I don’t find her boring. She’s damn good. I’ve never considered myself a fan but I think she always gives a great performance. Maybe I am a fan?? I’ve not watched her stuffiest stuff, though. Maybe I should check out some of that Merchant Ivory shit?? As for Geoffrey Rush, he’s fantastic in this too and also deserved an Oscar (instead of Christian Bale in The Fighter – I hate Bale). But I think Geoffrey Rush is the latest celeb in trouble for some sex stuff from the past so I’ll say no more. At this rate, I’ll have to delete half my blog if I have to get rid of any mention of certain actors…

I said I’d keep this short. The King’s Speech is a good film with fantastic performances. It’s one of those “one-time watch” movies, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I did actually enjoy it but I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. It’s certainly weak compared to all the other Best Picture winners & nominees in the history of the Oscars. It’s certainly not the worst, though (I’m looking at you, The English F*%king Patient!). Since I’m a sad & pathetic list maniac, I did rank every Best Picture Oscar Winner I’ve seen HERE and I’ve now added The King’s Speech. It’s toward the bottom but I did enjoy it. I feel like I’m being too harsh on this one! It’s just not all-time classic “Best Picture” material. Or IMDb Top 250 material, which is why I think this has actually now dropped out of that list (I started this project in 2013 so I’m still working off the list from that time).

My Rating: 7/10

Happy 6th Blogiversary To Me

I seriously thought I’d quit this blogging thing once I hit my five year anniversary. Well, shit – I’m still lingering a year later. Sorry – I think you’re stuck with me! I enjoy this online movie diary. I may not post as many full-length reviews anymore but I’m obsessed with keeping lists so I’ll continue my monthly roundup posts.

As it’s so close to the end of the year, I’ll do what I always do for my anniversary posts & just do a short roundup of my favorite things I’ve watched & read so far this year. That means lists! So here are My Top Tens for 2018 so far (and likely to change order by the end of the year as I’m totally indecisive).

My Top Ten Books (& Short Stories) Read This Year:

10. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon – 3/5
9. The Outsider by Stephen King – 3/5
8. Brother Odd by Dean Koontz – 3.5/10
7. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – 4/5
6. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 4/5
5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – 4/5
4. Bird Box by Josh Malerman – 4/5
3. Strange Weather by Joe Hill: Stories 1 & 2, Stories 3 & 4 – 4/5
2. Ghastle And Yule by Josh Malerman – 4.5/5
1. The Masque Of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe – 4.5/5

A quick comment on the ones I’ve just finished & not yet reviewed: I really enjoyed Bird Box by Josh Malerman. It has been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock but the trailer looks rubbish (it looks like too much has been changed). I recommend the book to horror fans, especially if you liked A Quiet Place. And I got a nice surprise as the UK version of the book has a bonus story called Ghastle And Yule. I loved this!! If you’re a lover of films, and especially if you’re a lover of classic horror films & filmmaking, I highly recommend finding a copy of this story about two rival horror filmmakers. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author & got a nice reply. It’s great having these kind of exchanges with authors, filmmakers & actors whose work you appreciate.

My Top Ten Movies Seen At Home This Year:

10. TIE: Fist Of Fury – 7.5/10 & The Handmaiden – 7.5/10
9. 5 Centimetres Per Second – 7.5/10
8. The Garden Of Words – 7.5/10
7. War For The Planet Of The Apes – 8/10
6. Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem – 7.5/10
5. Mary And The Witch’s Flower – 7.5/10
4. Colossal – 8/10
3. Metropolis – 8/10
2. Splendor In The Grass – 8/10
1. Enter The Dragon – 8.5/10

A quick comment on these: I’m clearly enjoying exploring more anime as so many are in my top ten (I’ve watched loads of movies this year – the full list is HERE). And I certainly didn’t expect a martial arts film to easily be my number one so far (Bruce Lee kicks ass!). I’ll say that the Blind Spot project is worth doing each year as most of them end up being in my top ten. So far, my top three are all Blind Spot choices of mine.

My Top Ten 2018 UK Movie Releases Seen This Year:

10. Darkest Hour – 7.5/10
9. Ready Player One – 7.5/10
8. Mandy – 7.5/10
7. Avengers: Infinity War – 8/10
6. The Shape Of Water – 8/10
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 8/10
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story – 8/10
3. A Quiet Place – 8/10
2. A Star Is Born – 8/10
1. I, Tonya – 8/10

A quick comment on these: I always go by UK release date so I, Tonya makes this list. It’s still my favorite, although I wouldn’t say it’s the “best” film on the list. I’ve just always been fascinated by the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan story and the movie was entertaining as hell. Plus I love dark comedy/drama. “Best” film is probably A Star Is Born. Cooper & Gaga are brilliant. Not sure if it’ll stay in second place, though. Straight drama isn’t really my thing and I probably enjoyed some others on this list a bit more. I do have the urge to move Mandy way up the list but I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if I even liked it all that much! But it’s weird and trippy and crazy as shit and looks good and sounds good and is maybe a little bit pretentious. It’s so my type of thing.

Thanks to everyone who still reads my occasional posts and my annoying lists. I do appreciate it!

I usually end these posts with a music clip so I’ll go with Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger from the thoroughly entertaining anime Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem:

Citizen Kane (1941) Blind Spot Review

Citizen Kane (1941)

IMDb Top 250 Rank: 44 out of 250 as of 01/01/2013

Directed by Orson Welles

Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Agnes Moorehead, Paul Stewart, Ruth Warrick, Erskine Sanford, William Alland

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

5. Atonement
4. Gleaming The Cube
3. The French Connection
2. Citizen Kane
1. Enter The Dragon

Watching Citizen Kane means that I also get to tick another film off the list of the IMDb Top 250 that I hadn’t yet seen when I started this blog. It’s ranked very high (although it has now dropped to 71 out of 250). It’s often considered the greatest film of all time by those smart film critic types. It was pathetic that I’m a so-called “movie blogger” but had never seen one of the most revered classics of all time (which is why I finally put it on my Blind Spot list). Well, I’ve seen it now….

Damn. This is one of those times that I really don’t feel like doing a review. I’m not a film student. Yes, Citizen Kane is a great film and I know that a lot of that will have to do with filmmaking techniques that I know nothing about since I’m an uneducated heathen who likes movies but is usually happier when watching Star Wars instead of On The Waterfront. Speaking of which, I had a hell of a time while trying to “review” that Top 250 classic as well. Actually, I’ve just re-read what I wrote about On The Waterfront and I had more to say than I remembered. Can I just copy & paste that review here as a lot of it applies to Citizen Kane too??

No, that’s not quite true. I liked Citizen Kane much more but I just didn’t quite connect with either film. I’ve discovered with these worthy classics that I far prefer the grand, sweeping epics to the gritty dramas with Oscar-winning acting. Give me a gorgeous Sergio Leone film with a Morricone score instead of Brando & his pigeons. Citizen Kane is somewhere in the middle – it has the gritty drama but it’s also epic in its telling of this character’s life story. I love a story spanning an entire lifetime and I did enjoy this movie. It’s a great film. It’s a classic. But I didn’t connect with it as much as I was hoping I would. I’m sorry! Okay – I’ve actually just taken a break to add images into this post. Wow. They’re stunning. Those are some great shots! They remind me of Fritz Lang’s M, another great film. Is that why this movie is so popular? Huh. Yeah, I admit it – I should probably watch this movie again. Someday. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

I briefly discussed Citizen Kane with a friend and how I really didn’t feel like reviewing it. Believe it or not, I’m a person of few words in real life and, when talking about a movie, I’ll often just say “Yeah, it was good” or “It sucked!”. Citizen Kane got three sentences out of me & my friend pointed out that it worked as a haiku.

So here’s my haiku review of Citizen Kane (complete with the ***BIG HUGE SPOILER*** that everyone knows about this movie by now if they are the slightest bit interested in films):

I was a bit bored.
I have no culture. I knew
it was the damn sled.

Then I added another that works out slightly better in haiku form:

Enter The Dragon
Was a much better Blind Spot
Damn that stupid sled

By the way, Enter The Dragon was f*%king awesome! I’ll review that next month and will maybe put a tiny bit of effort into that post. Maybe. For now, here’s my rating for Citizen Kane. It deserves much higher.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Okay – since this was one of my worst attempts at a review EVER (although I’ve certainly had worse), here are links to bloggers I follow who have written about Citizen Kane. I couldn’t find many! If you’ve reviewed the movie, let me know and I’ll happily add you to the below list.

100 Films In A Year

Hard Ticket To Home Video

Isaacs Picture Conclusions

Keith & The Movies

MovieRob

Rhyme & Reason

Thomas J

IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update: Only 50 Left To Go

Happy New Year, everyone! 🙂 I figured it was time to have a look at how well I’m doing on my IMDB Top 250 Challenge.

I started this project on the 1st of January 2013 having already seen 150 of the 250 movies in the Top 250 IMDb list at that time. My goal was to watch the remaining 100. I’ve been taking my time but, five years later, I’ve managed to watch 50. Only 50 left to go!

I’ve enjoyed this project & it’s been worth doing as it has “forced” me to finally watch some true classics. So I figured I’d do a list of the 50 that I’ve watched.

So here are My IMDB Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite): (and I rated them all, too! What a loser…)

50-41:

50. Mary And Max – watched 7/6/13 – Rating: 4/10

49. Slumdog Millionaire – watched 28/4/13 – Rating: 5/10

48. Life Of Pi – watched 15/1/13 – Rating: 6.5/10

47. Manhattan – watched 15/10/16 – Rating: 6.5/10

46. Warrior – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6/10

45. A Separation – watched 9/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

44. The Night Of The Hunter – watched 15/8/17 – Rating: 6.5/10

43. On The Waterfront – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

42. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – watched 24/3/13 – Rating: 7/10

41. Paths Of Glory – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6.5/10

Top Forty:

40. Raging Bull – watched 29/9/13 – Rating: 7/10

39. Unforgiven – watched 17/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

38. Dog Day Afternoon – watched 18/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

37. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – watched 26/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

36. Anatomy Of A Murder – watched 2/8/15 – Rating: 7/10

35. Witness For The Prosecution – watched 12/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

34. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

33. Roman Holiday – watched 5/12/17 – Rating: 7/10

32. A Fistful Of Dollars – watched 28/4/16 – Rating: 7/10

31. Sleuth – watched 5/2/13 – Rating: 7/10

Top Thirty:

30. City Of God – watched 18/1/14 – Rating: 8/10

29. Bicycle Thieves – watched 5/6/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

28. Rashômon – watched 16/8/14 – Rating: 7/10

27. Shadow Of A Doubt – watched 5/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

26. Notorious – watched 6/5/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

25. Sunset Boulevard – watched 7/11/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

24. For A Few Dollars More – watched 14/5/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

23. Some Like It Hot – watched 2/12/17 – Rating: 7.5/10

22. Rope – watched 4/1/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

21. The Hustler – watched 7/1/17 – Rating: 8/10

Top Twenty:

20. Nosferatu (1922) – watched 14/7/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

19. M – watched 26/9/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

18. Once Upon A Time In The West – watched 02/07/13 – Rating: 8/10

17. Full Metal Jacket – watched 11/5/14 – Rating: 8/10

16. Million Dollar Baby – watched 11/2/17 – Rating: 8/10

15. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) – watched 14/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

14. Ikiru – watched 1/1/16 – Rating: 8/10

13. The Untouchables – watched 16/8/17 – Rating: 8/10

12. The Secret In Their Eyes – watched 23/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

11. The Kid – watched 19/2/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

Top Ten:

10. Grave Of The Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) – watched 1/1/15 – Rating: 8/10

9. The Great Escape – watched 28/10/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

8. Laputa: Castle In The Sky – watched 7/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

7. Rocky – watched 12/2/17 – Rating: 8.5/10

6. Modern Times – watched 1/1/13 – Rating: 9/10

5. Princess Mononoke – watched 25/1/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

4. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – watched 16/2/16 – Rating: 8/10

3. The Bridge On The River Kwai – watched 23/6/13 – Rating: 9/10

2. City Lights – watched 15/2/13 – Rating: 9/10

1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) – watched 2/11/14 – Rating: 9/10

See you tomorrow with my ranked list of the 12 Blind Spot movies I watched in 2017.

Million Dollar Baby (2004) IMDB Top 250 Review

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 87 today. This time last year, I did a week of Clint Eastwood reviews (you can see My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE, updated to now include Million Dollar Baby).

I still wouldn’t exactly call Eastwood a favorite actor of mine but I’m glad that I finally explored some of his biggest films last year as I liked them a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Million Dollar Baby was still a big omission, however, so I’m glad I’ve finally watched that now as well. And, again, I like another Eastwood movie far more than I was expecting to! And, of course, the awesome Morgan Freeman is in it as well (who I would call a favorite actor & whose birthday is tomorrow – guess what Top Ten List I’ll be doing tomorrow…). 😉 Okay – I’ll shut up & review the movie now.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Based on Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anthony Mackie, Margo Martindale, Riki Lindhome, Michael Peña, Benito Martinez, Grant L. Roberts

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 172 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

My Opinion:

I avoided watching this film for years. I was like “It’s a boxing drama? Pass!”. (Kind of funny that I’ve just watched Rocky for the very first time the same week that I watched this. But I digress). Mainly, though, I avoided this because, when it came out, some annoying assholes decided to spoil the whole damn plot. So I’ve always known exactly how this ends. And that pisses me off. I know it’s not always possible to avoid spoilers but, in the case of this film, there was an uproar since what happens went against the beliefs of some people and they felt the need to warn the public (or something like that) before the film had even been fully released (if I remember correctly). Annoying.

Anyway! This is a great film. I expected to possibly find it contrived (films that try too hard to pull on the heartstrings & just come across as phony piss me off as much as people who spoil films). I expected to not be affected by this film since I knew the whole damn plot already. But it’s a good, heartfelt drama that came across as quite genuine and had fantastic actors playing likeable characters you wanted to see succeed. I sure as shit can’t say I exactly “enjoyed” it (holy hell! I don’t do well with serious dramas). But it’s not the overhyped Oscar bait I had kind of feared it might be.

Come to think of it, I guess this means I should also update My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners list at some point with both this & Rocky. That list includes all 50(ish) Best Pictures that I’ve seen and I have to say that both these damn boxing dramas potentially break into my top ten. Easily top 20 for sure. I’ll have to think about it some more! They’re certainly my favorite boxing movies (Raging Bull didn’t thrill me…). 😉

It’s a shame that Hilary Swank kind of disappeared into bad movie obscurity after this & Boys Don’t Cry (a movie that manages to be even more depressing than this one). Clearly these sort of heart wrenching dramas did suit her but you can’t blame her for trying other things – Starring in nothing but these sort of films would probably mess with your head eventually. I really liked her character in this. Her enthusiasm and single-minded determination are infectious in the same sort of way that made us all like Rocky Balboa and to want him to succeed.

Swank & Eastwood make a great team and their relationship by the end of the film is beautiful & heartbreaking. Million Dollar Baby probably gets somewhat ignored compared to Eastwood’s full-on “guy” movies & bromances but, as great as I think he was in dude movies with the likes of Lee Van Cleef, his mentor/protégée and ultimately father/daughter-like relationship here is a welcome change (and just as good & valid as the bromances). Swank & Eastwood make this film.

But there’s still some male camaraderie for anyone needing that as well. Freeman plays Eastwood’s ex-boxer friend (and… co-owner? or maybe just a trainer living in the gym Eastwood owns. feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I love Freeman and he’s as great as always and another reason why I ended up liking this film much more than I’d been expecting. There’s a story on the side involving skinny little Jay Baruchel wanting to be a boxer & Freeman taking him under his wing. I really liked this story as well (plus that cool confrontation involving Freeman & one of the young boxers). The main story involving Swank is of course the most important but it was good to get a bit more to the movie besides just that.

I just have to end by saying: Oh man – I hated the f*%k out of Swank’s family in this! Which made her character all the more likeable. To put a horrible upbringing behind her & to try to live her dream is the uplifting sort of message people look for in a good story. Which is another reason why I think some people were probably angered by the ending of this film. What IS the ultimate message at the end? But life isn’t always fair & a Hollywood ending in real life is rare. I do watch movies for escapism and do prefer a happy ending but I also can’t get angry at a movie telling a story in a realistic way. I think some people felt cheated by this film. I think we were given a good film with powerful performances & a message of determination and friendship. It’s not an easy watch but it’s a good film I’m glad to have finally seen.

My Rating: 8/10

The Hustler (1961) Blind Spot Review

Today would have been Paul Newman’s birthday, so I’m reviewing his film The Hustler for my Blind Spot 2017 Series as well as my IMDB Top 250 Project. Like many classics, this was in the Top 250 when I started the project on 01/01/13 but is currently not on the list.

Let’s see what I thought of The Hustler (as well as its 1986 sequel The Color Of Money, which I’m reviewing tomorrow)…

The Hustler (1961)

Directed by Robert Rossen

Based on The Hustler by Walter Tevis

Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine, Stefan Gierasch, Clifford Pellow, Jake LaMotta

IMDB Rank: 197 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Hustler tells the story of small-time pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson and his desire to break into the “major league” of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country; seeking to best the legendary pool player “Minnesota Fats.”

My Opinion:

Paul Newman was so damn hot. What a hunk. I lusted after him through this whole movie. It’s quite disappointing that it’s in black & white because I like seeing those baby blue eyes of his in color. But even in black & white, he’s still dreamy. *sigh*

The Hustler is very good and I can see why it’s a classic and it totally sucks that current films keep knocking old films such as this one out of the IMDB Top 250. I can sort of understand why, though, as I’m guilty myself of not exploring many movies that are pre-1970 or so but it does annoy me that most young people want to watch nothing but current stuff these days. Anyway, I enjoyed The Hustler and the acting is phenomenal, which I think it what makes this one such a classic. Surprisingly, though, it was Piper Laurie who stole the show. Wow. More about her later…

Newman was his usual self: Full of charm & charisma. He was such a great actor and one of only a handful over the years who I feel had that extra “something” that made him my definition of a true movie star. You know that “something” that’s hard to explain? I feel that “something” is missing from most artists nowadays (especially within the music industry – even more so than in film). I haven’t explored as much of Newman’s work as I’d like but I can now say that The Hustler is a must-see for anyone wanting to see him in his best roles. There’s more than just his usual charm & charisma here – he’s a lonely, complex character and the movie truly comes alive when he becomes involved with Piper Laurie’s similarly lost soul.

Newman is fantastic and it’s a shame he didn’t win the Oscar but Laurie is stunning. I’m glad, like Newman, that she also got a nomination but it’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten more recognition for this role. I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know she was in The Hustler! I’ll also be totally honest & admit that I’ve never really known her as anything other than Margaret White in Carrie. I LOVE her in Carrie (she easily topped my list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies). Who knew she could play a disturbed character with such sympathetic subtlety in The Hustler just as well as she did full-on batshit crazy in Carrie?? I love her in both roles but have a new respect for her – I’m very glad I got to see this performance.

Clearly the relationship between Newman & Laurie is what I latched onto and what made the movie for me but there are of course some other important characters and, yes – plenty of pool. The two really worth mentioning are Jackie Gleason as “Minnesota Fats”, a brilliant pool-playing rival to Newman, and George C. Scott as an evil, greedy bastard. Seriously – what a dick. I wanted to punch him in the face. Therefore, I guess he played his role well!

Summary:

The Hustler is worthy of its status as a classic and it’s a great way to kick off my choice of 2017 Blind Spot films. I admit, however, that it did drag for me at times in a way that older movies often do for those who have mostly watched post-1970 movies (like me). I have zero interest whatsoever in pool and, while this movie is not actually about pool and more about human interaction, there’s still plenty of pool. Some will of course love the actual pool scenes but the final game of pool is the only one that really matters and the one that fully held my attention. The movie is a little slow-going at first but the phenomenal performances from all involved, especially from Newman & Laurie, make the second half of the film intense & gripping. The Hustler is well worth your time if you have an interest in old Hollywood classics.

My Rating: 8/10

The Graduate (1967) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Satu of Fairytale Pictures. Thanks for the review, Satu! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of The Graduate, IMDB rank 186 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. The deadline is November 1st. The available films are:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
Gone with the Wind 1939
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

See the full Top 250 list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

The Graduate (1967)
Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Calder Willingham, Buck Henry (& Charles Webb (novel))
Starring Dustin Hoffman & Anne Bancroft

Synopsis: “A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

It’s been a while since I saw The Graduate but I didn’t really like it. It bothers me that I don’t know what it is. A drama or a comedy? Is it supposed to be funny? Shocking? I don’t usually care that much but I just don’t get the hype of this film. It won an Oscar for the best directing. It was nominated in seven different categories and I have absolutely no idea why it won in that one? I know that Bonnie & Clyde that was multi-nominated that year too was much more interesting to watch.

The first thing that sticks out in The Graduate is lensing aka cinematography. It’s annoying as hell! Gosh. It drove me nuts. What are those freaking all-the-time weird shots? It feels so messy and to me it ruined most of the film. Then again, if the point was making life seem messy and pointless, it worked. And come to think of it now, it probably was the point if the viewer should feel like via main character? Huh. Kinda cool. But when watching, it didn’t work for me. The colour world was also ugly to my eye. Although, at the same time I can understand that it must have looked intriguing at the time. I especially hated that dolly shot in the end. Didn’t do good for our leading man. Ugh.

To my eyes, in this millennium, Dustin Hoffman looks way too old to be viewed as way too young compared to Anne Bancroft. And I don’t really like him anyway. I did like him in Rain Man and as Hook, I guess, but usually I find him like he would be good at playing vicious rodent and rodents are not cool. But I still guess he did nice job in this one. He felt bored and innocent at the same time. To me Anne Bancroft was even better at playing alcoholic house-wife. I don’t know, maybe it was somewhat easier to relate to her character, I would be bored out of my mind in a situation like that. In the end, it was very hard to like any of the characters in The Graduate. They’re not very likeable. That’s probably one of the main reasons why I didn’t enjoy the film that much. One needs to feel sympathetic.

My final grading is not that bad as I made it sound now but I’m still glad that The Graduate is not anymore in IMDb Top-250 like it was when this challenge was established. Maybe there are some people like me who think it is a bit over-appreciated.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) & For A Few Dollars More (1965) IMDB Top 250 Reviews

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 86 today! 🙂

My blog is having a Clint Eastwood Week (I reviewed Play Misty For Me yesterday). And I figured what better way to celebrate his birthday today than to review his famous Dollars Trilogy for my IMDB Top 250 Project as they’re all in the 250. Well, I already recently reviewed The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (you can see that review HERE). I didn’t realize it was the “third” in the trilogy when I watched it first but it really doesn’t matter as the stories aren’t connected (they just have the same director & composer plus the main actor playing a different character in each). It was interesting seeing their “evolution”, however, as I think each film was better than the previous one. Let’s start by talking about the first in the trilogy: A Fistful Of Dollars.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volontè, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, Joseph Egger

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

My Opinion:

I had no idea that this movie is basically the Yojimbo story by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima (but not credited at the time, apparently). That’s interesting – there are a lot of Kurosawa films in the Top 250 & I’m very eager to work my way through them as I love Seven Samurai. So far, I’ve watched Ikiru & Rashômon so I’ll make Yojimbo the next one (I’ll have a Kurosawa Week once I’ve watched them all). I really liked the story of a drifter playing two rival families off against each other so am looking forward to seeing the original & comparing them.

I get the impression that some people may slightly prefer these first two Dollars films to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. As I said above, I personally think each film got better & that the final one is the best but the first two do have much better pacing, less distracting voice dubbing, and stories that are easier to follow & that actually get right into things from the start instead of meandering along for almost three hours until reaching a fantastic finale.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is the only one I’d call a “masterpiece” but these first two are also very good in a different way & are much more straightforward in telling their stories, which some people may prefer. There’s still a fair amount of time spent on characters standing around & staring at each other but it wasn’t yet to the extreme Leone went to in Once Upon A Time In The West. No, I’m not being a smart ass because I think that film is brilliant – the opening scene honestly contains the best staring ever committed to film. Here you go – the Once Upon A Time In The West staredown!

But back to A Fistful Of Dollars… I did find this the weakest of the three, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t really connect with or care about any of the characters (other than one family with a small boy) whereas the next film had a better revenge theme going on that I found more interesting & also had a good partnership that this one lacked. There’s plenty here for dudes, though – lots of fighting (with & without guns) and the usual amount of Clint Eastwood just looking like a stud while smoking & wearing a poncho. Eastwood IS very cool in these spaghetti Westerns, whether they’re your sort of thing or not, and has a great presence that not all actors manage (but is matched by his co-star in the second film). I now have less experience with his Dirty Harry movies than his Westerns but I think the Westerns suit him better.

This film does of course have yet another great showdown (as to be expected at the end of every Leone film I’ve seen so far). To say it’s the weakest of the three (or four if I include West as well) isn’t really a bad thing as all the Leone films I’ve now seen are fantastic & I can understand why they’re so popular even though this isn’t my favorite genre so I’ll never love them to the same degree as fans.

My Rating: 7.5/10

For a Few Dollars More (1965) (Italian: Per qualche dollaro in più)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski, Mario Brega

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

My Opinion:

Now… For A Few Dollars More was genuinely enjoyable! Don’t get me wrong – I think these Leone films are beautiful works of art and worthy of the praise & recognition they later achieved but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t find them all a bit of a chore to sit through. Of all four I’ve seen, I’d rank this as the third best yet I’d also say it’s the most enjoyable overall in that it’s the only one that held my interest the entire time.

It’s a simple (if rather cliché) story of revenge but, hey – that’s what I want from a Western. The one seeking revenge is Lee Van Cleef’s character. And what a great character he is! It’s the only time another character felt as important as Eastwood’s (if not more) and I cared about his story. The two of them are fantastic together & have amazing chemistry onscreen. He was also the “Bad” to Eastwood’s “Good” in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but this was a much better role for him & I preferred their relationship in this.

Another thing that worked a bit better in this one than the previous film was the main baddie. He’s an evil bastard but also not quite right in the head & haunted by things in his past. He felt more developed than a lot of Western baddies. Actually, all the characters felt more well developed than usual (other than Eastwood’s but I think that’s always the whole point of his mysterious Man With No Name characters). That’s a big part of what made this film the most enjoyable – I can’t fully get into a film unless I buy into the characters & the story and this film did a good job with these elements.

Okay – I’ve not yet mentioned the Ennio Morricone score for either of these films. I don’t want to go on & on as I already raved about him in my review for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but, damn, the man is a genius. There were no specific themes that stood out for me as much as in that one but the music truly helps make all these Leone spaghetti Westerns. Without the scores, I know I wouldn’t personally rate any of these movies as highly. The score is as important to these films as is Eastwood’s character & Leone’s cinematography. They all work perfectly together & make these films far greater than they’d be with one of these three elements missing.

Well, I think I’ve said enough about these movies. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert on Westerns but the four Leone films I’ve seen really are something special & definitely have my appreciation as beautiful works of art. I do think that each movie got better & better with Once Upon A Time In The West actually being the best overall. However, I’d probably stick with The Good, The Bad And The Ugly being my favorite as I think the score as well as the final 30 minutes or so of that film easily tops all others & pushes it into the “masterpiece” category that I don’t like to use as a label too often (if you’re curious, I gave those movies a score of 8/10 & 8.5/10). I highly recommend both of those films at the very least but, if you want to start a bit smaller, the first two Dollars films are more easily “digestible” & For A Few Dollars More is probably the best one for non-Western lovers as I think a lot of people love a basic story of revenge.

My Rating: 8/10

Paths Of Glory & On The Waterfront IMDB Top 250 Reviews

These are my final two IMDB Top 250 Project movies I’ve watched but not yet reviewed (not counting the Clint Eastwood or the Akira Kurosawa films, which I plan to review all together). So from now on I’ll only be reviewing movies for this project on the occasional Tuesday as I happen watch more of them. My Tuesdays are now free! What the heck am I going to post weekly instead of these Top 250 reviews?!? Hmm. Most likely, nothing. I like the idea of a blog-free weekday!

I’ve put off “reviewing” these two as I don’t have much to say about them. They didn’t connect with me like so many of the films that I’ve watched for this project have. I understand why they’re classics & agree that they do deserve to be in the Top 250, though, despite them not working for me. Hey – we can’t all love the same movies! What a boring world this would be if that was the case.

So I’m going to say a very small bit about each film now just to get them off my list. Here you go: Two short paragraphs each for two all-time classics I’m clearly not cultured enough to have fully appreciated! 😉

Paths Of Glory (1957)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson

Plot Synopsis:
Set during World War I, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack. Dax attempts to defend them against a charge of cowardice in a court-martial.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

Wow – I, um, believe this is the only Kirk Douglas movie I’ve ever seen. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t watching Michael Douglas as they’re so similar (I suck). At least I’ve added another Stanley Kubrick to my list of movies seen (I’ve ranked his films HERE – I need to add in Full Metal Jacket at five while Paths Of Glory would be at six).

I preferred Paths Of Glory to On The Waterfront. The pacing was pretty slow so I’ll fully admit that my uncultured, non-war-movie-loving mind wandered quite often but it did have an overall story that I found far more compelling than that in On The Waterfront. I won’t give away the full story for those who know nothing about this but it’s something that should have moved me a bit more than it did. I think that, perhaps, they didn’t spend enough time developing a few characters who really deserved to have more time spent on them. I’ll say that Douglas was great in this so, yes, I really should watch at least one other movie he’s been in. The novel was based on a true story & this practice (what happens in the film) was done during World War I from what I can tell of the very little I read of this movie at Wikipedia (war experts can feel free to chime in on this). I don’t know how often this tactic was used but it’s truly appalling & the movie did finally have my full attention at the end. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what the outcome would be – I don’t know how I managed to avoid such a huge movie spoiler for all these years. Paths Of Glory is a film deserving of all its praise with great performances & a very important topic that needed to be brought to light (apparently this movie was fairly controversial at the time as it’s a pretty anti-war film). It’s just not my type of thing but I’d certainly not disagree with anyone who says they love it as I can see it being a favorite film for some people. For all lovers of war movies, it’s a must-see.

My Rating: 7/10

On The Waterfront (1954)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint

Music by Leonard BernsteinIt’s the end of the world as we know it! (And I feel fine)

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

I watched this movie on September 9th, 2014. It’s taken me almost two years to muster up the (strength? courage??) to do a little write-up for it. I remember sticking this movie on & kind of half-watching it while doing some housework then finishing it later while in bed. This is when we were working on painting a wall in the bedroom so a big cabinet was in the middle of the room & partially blocking my view of the TV from the bed. So, yeah… this is how I watched On The Waterfront – a huge Oscar-winning, beloved classic. What can I say? I have no class. I’m a bum!

Umm. Unions? Mobs? I think I remember some pigeons. Marlon Brando! He’s in this. I haven’t watched a lot of Brando’s films (but at least I’ve watched more Brando films than Kirk Douglas films). Let’s see: I’ve seen this, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Superman. That’s it. I’m not a fan. Should I delete my blog? Will some big Brando fan come along to yell at me & tell me that my blog should be “taken down” like the Western-loving guy who commented on my review of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? As much as I’ve moaned about having to watch all the war movies & Westerns in the Top 250, I’ve ended up really liking the ones I’ve watched so far (some are even favorites now, like The Bridge On The River Kwai & The Good, The Bad And The Ugly). So maybe I can’t keep saying they’re “not my type of thing”? The story in On The Waterfront, however, is what I think really isn’t my type of thing. It didn’t connect. I’ve never really gone for movies involving the mob in some way or for this type of drama. When it comes to older films, I prefer the “grand epics” to the types of films involving true-to-life human conflict with Oscar-worthy performances and lots of talking & drama. I find something like a Morricone score coupled with beautiful cinematography far more moving than an intense performance from an actor/actress. That’s just me – we’re all moved by different things & I’m not one to care too much about the “acting” in a movie (as long as the performances don’t totally suck). Brando is great in this, yeah. I didn’t follow the story very well or really find myself caring about any of the characters. I don’t remember it much now but that’s to be expected, I suppose, when you are only partially paying attention to a movie while it’s on. On The Waterfront won loads of Oscars (best picture, director, actor, supporting actress, screenplay, cinematography, art direction & film editing). Oh shit… That’s really a lot of Oscars. I’m going to delete my blog. I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it! *blog deleted* (Let’s go ahead & give this the same rating as Paths Of Glory, although I preferred that one. I’m sorry! Don’t hurt my pigeons!)

My Rating: 7/10

**If you can’t bear to see nothing posted on this blog on a Tuesday, here are the remaining films available for guest reviews:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Graduate 1967
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
Gone with the Wind 1939 (dbmoviesblog)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

A Separation (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review & The Films I’ve Watched So Far (Ranked!)

*This is a very short review so I’ve decided to also rank all 42 films I’ve watched so far for my Top 250 Project. Woohoo! 😉

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A Separation (2011) (Persian: جدایی نادر از سیمین‎ Jodaí-e Nadér az Simín, “The Separation of Nader and Simin”)

Directed by Asghar Farhadi

Starring: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Merila Zarei

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Separation is a 2011 Iranian drama that focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class care giver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

My Very Quickie Opinion:

I watched this movie on August 9th, 2014. Whoops! Is it really taking me almost two years to get around to reviewing some of these Top 250 films?? Yikes. 

This is truly going to be a quickie “review” as I don’t remember this film very well (I had to read the full plot synopsis online just now to refresh my memory). This is a very good film, so I can see why it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. It’s a drama with great performances from all involved but it just isn’t my type of thing. I rarely like realistic dramas. I watch movies for escapism, which is probably why a lot of my favorites are sci-fi or fantasy.

I remember thinking the two main actors (the separating husband & wife) were especially good & I felt for their situation, particularly the husband struggling with taking care of his father who has Alzheimer’s. I won’t give away the plot but something happens with the woman who is hired to take care of the husband’s father and that’s just one of several stories woven together. It’s good in that most people watching this will relate to at least one of the stories/characters: whether it’s dealing with an aging parent, marital problems, religious beliefs & customs, etc. I didn’t relate to it any more or any less than I do to American films dealing with the same sort of issues. The themes are universal so it’s certainly worth a watch if this genre is your sort of thing – don’t let it being a foreign language film or my “meh” review put you off. It’s a good, Oscar-worthy film. But it’s just not my favorite genre. Once again, my ratings are based more on personal enjoyment than “worthiness” – I’d rate this one more highly if I rated only on worthiness.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Well, watching A Separation got another Top 250 film crossed off my list & I did say at the start that some might not get lengthy reviews from me. I started this project (details HERE) on 01/01/2013 & my goal is to watch all the IMDB Top 250 movies that I hadn’t yet seen at that point (I’d already seen 100 – those 100 are the ones I’ve let guests review). So I’m very slowly working my way through the rest of that 2013 list. I’ve watched 42 of the remaining 150.

As this review was so short, I thought I’d rank the 42 films I’ve watched so far. Because I’m sad like that. 😉 It’s quite obvious that the ones I’ve loved the most are the Studio Ghibli & the Charlie Chaplin films. I’d already watched a couple of Ghibli films when I started this but I do have this project to thank for introducing me to Chaplin. 🙂

I did keep some Top 250 favorites of mine to be reviewed by me someday instead of guests – things like The Shawshank Redemption & WALL-E (which I did review) and the Star Wars original trilogy & The Princess Bride. This list is only ranking the films I’ve watched since starting this project, not the 100 I’d already seen in the past. Most of my all-time favorite films are in the Top 250 – I just struggle to write about the ones I really love so I haven’t reviewed many of those. How could a review of mine ever express just how awesome Aliens or The Princess Bride are?! 🙂

So here are My IMDB Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite): (and I rated them all, too! I need a life…)

42-31:

42. Mary And Max – watched 7/6/13 – Rating: 4/10

41. Slumdog Millionaire – watched 28/4/13 – Rating: 5/10

40. Life Of Pi – watched 15/1/13 – Rating: 6.5/10

39. Warrior – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6/10

38. A Separation – watched 9/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

37. On The Waterfront – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

36. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – watched 24/3/13 – Rating: 7/10

35. Paths Of Glory – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6.5/10

34. Raging Bull – watched 29/9/13 – Rating: 7/10

33. Unforgiven – watched 17/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

32. Dog Day Afternoon – watched 18/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

31. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – watched 26/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

Top Thirty:

30. Anatomy Of A Murder – watched 2/8/15 – Rating: 7/10

29. Witness For The Prosecution – watched 12/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

28. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

27. A Fistful Of Dollars – watched 28/4/16 – Rating: 7/10

26. Sleuth – watched 5/2/13 – Rating: 7/10

25. City Of God – watched 18/1/14 – Rating: 8/10

24. Bicycle Thieves – watched 5/6/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

23. Rashômon – watched 16/8/14 – Rating: 7/10

22. Shadow Of A Doubt – watched 5/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

21. Notorious – watched 6/5/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

Top Twenty:

20. Sunset Boulevard – watched 7/11/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

19. For A Few Dollars More – watched 14/5/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

18. Rope – watched 4/1/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

17. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) – watched 14/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

16. Ikiru – watched 1/1/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

15. Nosferatu (1922) – watched 14/7/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

14. M – watched 26/9/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

13. Once Upon A Time In The West – watched 02/07/13 – Rating: 8/10

12. Full Metal Jacket – watched 11/5/14 – Rating: 8/10

11. The Secret In Their Eyes – watched 23/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

Top Ten:

10. The Kid – watched 19/2/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

9. Grave Of The Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) – watched 1/1/15 – Rating: 8/10

8. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – watched 16/2/16 – Rating: 8/10

7. The Great Escape – watched 28/10/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

6. The Bridge On The River Kwai – watched 23/6/13 – Rating: 9/10

5. Laputa: Castle In The Sky – watched 7/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

4. Princess Mononoke – watched 25/1/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

3. Modern Times – watched 1/1/13 – Rating: 9/10

2. City Lights – watched 15/2/13 – Rating: 9/10

1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) – watched 2/11/14 – Rating: 9/10

I highly recommend my Top Ten. No… I highly recommend 38 of these! There are so many true classics here. The bottom four don’t deserve a place in the Top 250 (but I only hated the bottom two – 39 & 40 are decent enough movies). I have to say that the top three are extra special to me & instantly became all-time favorites of mine. It’s sometimes a struggle to “force” myself to watch classic films such as these but I’m rarely disappointed when I do finally make the time for them. 🙂