Green Book, Instant Family, Can You Ever Forgive Me? & Eighth Grade Movie Reviews

I managed to see four 2019 UK cinema releases while on planes to and from America in August (I realize they were 2018 releases in the US). I’d not flown anywhere for years – When did the movie selection get so good & recent?? I figured I’d give these quickie reviews since I try to review all UK film releases each year. I’ll start with the best and end with the worst…

Green Book (2018)

Directed by Peter Farrelly

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard.

My Opinion:

I’m glad I managed to catch up on seeing this controversial Best Picture Oscar winner. I enjoyed it. I know there’s a lot of hate for this one but I thought the performances were strong and I always like stories involving an unlikely friendship between two very different personalities. I thought Mahershala Ali was great in Moonlight and, at the time, was hoping he’d get more roles so I’m happy that’s happening (and that he keeps winning Oscars). I thought his character & Viggo Mortensen’s worked well together and it felt realistic in that the friendship was often awkward and grew very slowly as they were so different.

Is it true to their real life story? I think some of the controversy comes from Don Shirley’s family saying the two weren’t friends at all (the film was co-written by Frank Vallelonga’s son) but interviews with Shirley himself say differently. Who knows? That’s just what I read at Wikipedia to try to find out what caused the controversy surrounding this movie but I’ve read no more than that. I love movies for their escapism so don’t often go for the “true story” films anyway. I like to think it’s all true but know that movies always play up the feelgood factor. As long as it doesn’t feel too over the top & phony, I’m happy enough with a little bit of feelgood cheese.

At least Green Book keeps it fairly real as things are far from perfect during their journey but I’d have liked a tiny bit more focus on the history of the actual Green Book itself (but that would easily make for another whole separate movie). The focus here is on the friendship between the two men and, as far as roadtrip friendship movies go, I found Green Book enjoyable despite any issues surrounding it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Instant Family (2018)

Directed by Sean Anders

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Octavia Spencer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A couple find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children.

My Opinion:

This movie was fine. It actually had a great IMDb rating when it came out in the U.K. and I’d really wanted to see it but the feelgood cheese (as I mentioned in my Green Book review) was a little too much at times in this one.

To be fair, though, this movie was marketed as a comedy drama so it kept things fairly light instead of being a hard-hitting drama at all times (which isn’t my thing anyway – real life is depressing enough!). I just think that this situation in real life would probably be far more challenging than depicted and, for whatever reason, I never felt a strong connection between the couple and the foster kids although the actors all did a perfectly fine job.

The strongest performance was from Isabela Moner as the headstrong and challenging teenager. She was tough but not totally hateful, which is often a danger with teenage characters. The relationship between her character & Rose Byrne’s felt the most realistic and it was nice seeing those two grow closer. Overall, Instant Family was a nice and somewhat safe film that was at times a tiny bit contrived but, oh well – A feelgood film never killed anyone.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Directed by Marielle Heller

Based on Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biographical film based on the confessional memoir of the same name by Lee Israel. Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and the story follows her attempts to revitalize her failing writing career by forging letters from deceased authors and playwrights.

My Opinion:

This was a pretty typical movie with Oscar nominations for acting: The acting was fantastic but the movie was just okay. The true story is actually pretty interesting but I guess it didn’t translate well to film as I was a bit bored throughout the movie. However, Melissa McCarthy & Richard E. Grant were so great and such entertaining characters that this one was still well worth a watch to see their Oscar-nominated performances. I think both of them haven’t gotten enough credit over the years (Yes, even McCarthy, whose brand of humor isn’t my thing for the most part but I can see why she has fans). It’s great that they got recognition for their parts in this film as they’re what made it enjoyable and they had really good chemistry. I’ll keep this short, though, as I honestly have nothing else to say about this movie. Good story, a little slow & boring at times, but fantastic performances and interesting characters.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Eighth Grade (2018)

Directed & Written by Bo Burnham

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Fred Hechinger

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The coming-of-age story follows the life and struggles of an eighth-grader, played by Elsie Fisher, during her last week of classes before graduating to high school. She struggles with social anxiety but produces vlogs giving life advice.

My Opinion:

This came out aaaaages ago in America but was only finally released in the UK in April this year. It got brilliant reviews from “Film Twitter” people and, even though I’m an old lady, I’m still always up for a really good coming of age film ever since falling in love with Stand By Me during my own coming of age years. Plus, I can relate to the whole socially awkward thing since I’m still awkward as shit.

Well, damn – This movie was very disappointing. I’ll say that the actress, Elsie Fisher, did a good job and felt very real (she seems sweet – I have nothing bad to say about the actress). She also did the socially awkward thing extremely well so, in that regard, I identified with her (even though she was actually far more awkward than I ever was!). However, I couldn’t relate to the character in any other way whatsoever. I know that pre & early teens can be annoying as hell but her character really was a bit too hateful for me to care at all what would happen to her. And her dad just put up with her whiny bullshit and her being a bitch to him and he didn’t monitor her time spent online AT ALL.

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m sounding old. But, seriously – keep your kids away from all forms of social media as long as fucking possible! It’s dangerous. And if you can’t do that for some reason, monitor what the hell they’re doing! FYI – the girl is a vlogger and this movie is NOT about the dangers of living a phony online existence – It’s just about not fitting in during the most awkward time of life. I’m simply having my own personal rant because seeing young girls living out their lives online and pretending to be something they’re not breaks my damn heart. Do we seriously need a whole generation of superficial KardashiJenners?! I can’t stand that fake bullshit and don’t want real-life girls like this character committing suicide when they can’t live up to the impossible standards set by “influencers” and people with an unlimited supply of money.

No, this movie isn’t about suicide or depression or anything like that – It’s a “comedy” drama, supposedly. Maybe I just AM too old for teen movies now as I found Booksmart disappointing as well. However, I thought The Edge Of Seventeen was very good and a more realistic portrayal of being a teen. I don’t know – I just think Eighth Grade would’ve been better with a more likeable and therefore more sympathetic main character. And possibly with “comedy” that was actually funny – I had to double check to see if this was actually considered a comedy. It also felt like it dragged on forever, despite being a short film. It has one of those typical meandering indie movie storylines that doesn’t go anywhere – I don’t know how I managed to stay awake watching this one on the plane. I suppose that reading all the hype for this one while waiting at least a year for it to come out in the UK didn’t help either as my expectations were probably way too high. What a massive disappointment.

My Rating: 5/10

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Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019) Review

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)

Directed by André Øvredal

Story by Guillermo del Toro, Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

Based on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.

My Opinion:

I went into this film with zero knowledge of the short story collections it’s based on. How in the hell did I not know about scary books published during my childhood and aimed specifically at “middle school kids”?! I was a kid obsessed with weird and/or scary stories! My favorite childhood TV shows were the original The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents! I loved Christopher Pike and, when a bit older, Stephen King (still do)! I’d have loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!!

Well, this movie was a pleasant surprise. Obviously, I’m reviewing this as someone who’s not read the source material so I don’t know how fans feel or how faithful this adaptation is. But I thought it was a very effective and surprisingly scary movie aimed at pre to mid teens. Hell – I don’t know the US rating but it’s a 15 in the U.K., meaning you have to be 15 to be allowed to see it. There’s actually no gore or anything like that – the only warning was “prolonged & intense scenes of horror” (or something along those lines). So to get a 15 rating simply for that does show that it’s quite intense for the slightly younger audience it’s aimed at. I do wonder how people feel about it as not many horror films are aimed at the pre to mid teen market. It’ll be too “tame” for hardcore horror fans but far too intense for younger people expecting a Goosebumps type of film. Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I liked the “horror middle ground”. We need to get more kids hooked on scary stories these days!

I also really enjoyed the setting (1968 small town America) and the fact that the movie started with Donovan’s fantastic Season Of The Witch – That song is bloody awesome. It’s also set at Halloween, which is always good fun for a scary film. The characters were likeable teens and the main girl, played by Zoe Colletti, was especially good. It’s of course sort of a horror anthology, with each character being affected by a different story. This was very entertaining but I’ve always been a big fan of horror anthologies. The separate stories were also linked to one overall story/mystery that was also quite good.

Honestly, I have zero complaints about this movie and I’m normally extremely picky about horror films. If you watch it, just bear in mind that it’s aimed at teens so don’t judge it compared to adult horrors. Oh, I also loved that it used practical effects (as far as I’m aware?). I absolutely hate dodgy looking CGI in horror movies and the terribly cheesy CGI in It Chapter Two was my biggest (but only) complaint about that movie. It’s just pretty bad when a “horror movie for kids” is one of the better horror films we’ve had recently. I think I’m going to go read all the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books now…

My Rating: 7/10

Crawl (2019) Review

Crawl (2019)

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Produced by Craig J. Flores, Sam Raimi, Alexandre Aja

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Crawl stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper as a daughter and father, who along with their dog are hunted by alligators after becoming trapped in their home during a Category 5 hurricane.

My Opinion:

Oh my god I’m so stressed! Work is manic at the moment. But I want to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema. So here’s a quickie for Crawl since I don’t have much to say about it.

Crawl was fine. I mean, it’s a movie about people being attacked by huge fucking alligators in a goddamn hurricane. It’s absolutely ridiculous! But it’s meant to be, right? Gotta admit that I loved the idea of a disaster movie, which is sort of a guilty pleasure genre for me, crossed with a horror film. And it kind of works, although I’d have liked better character development. I know, I know – That’s asking a bit much for a movie like this. I just got more enjoyment out of the equally ridiculous The Meg last year as the characters were far more fun and likeable. But fuck that movie – it only had a 75-foot-long megalodon shark. It didn’t have a 75-foot-long megalodon shark during a hurricane or earthquake or killer meteor shower or a goddamn nuclear apocalypse or something.

Well. Yeah. Crawl is fine. If you like the “killer alligators during a hurricane” idea, you’ll like this movie just fine. It’s what I expected but would have been a bit better if I’d cared more about the characters. I disliked Kaya Scodelario but can’t say why so, whatever – Just ignore me! The movie is also a bit too silly at times but I suppose it would’ve been boring if it hadn’t been ridiculous. And it was slightly boring until the alligators showed up, which took far too long.

My Rating: 6.5/10

It Chapter Two (2019) Review

It Chapter Two (2019)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Based on It by Stephen King

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’ll say that I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I love all his books. I love all the movie adaptations of his books (even the really really BAD adaptations, of which there have been plenty). I adored 2017’s Chapter 1 of It. It Chapter Two was my most anticipated film of 2019. And I liked it a lot, as I fully expected that I would despite some bad early reviews. So bear in mind that I’m a massive fan so, of course, I’m likely to have enjoyed it far more than anyone who isn’t a King fan.


I will have also enjoyed this movie far more than any full-on horror fans will have. Let’s face it – It is closer to Stand By Me than The Shining. It’s a great coming of age story with fantastic characters and strong characters are what really sell a story to me. Honestly, I don’t find either this or the 1990 adaptation at all scary. Skarsgård and Curry clearly had fun as Pennywise but I don’t care about Pennywise as a “character”. The story isn’t about Pennywise – It’s about the Losers Club and the strength of their friendship. This new adaptation is especially strong when it comes to the Losers Club. Each one of them is extremely well-developed, especially for a “horror” movie. And the casting was absolutely perfect when it came to the kid actors and almost perfect when it came to their adult counterparts. Is Chapter 1 better? Hell yeah! Of course it is, which I fully expected. A “coming of age” story works better when focused on the kids who are actually that age. It’s far more fun than watching them all grown up (which I’m sure the director & writers realized, which is why the kids ended up being in Chapter 2 a hell of a lot). By the way – They de-aged the kids which, apparently, some people found very distracting. I guess I’m just completely unobservant since I didn’t even notice that.

It Chapter Two is far from perfect, though, which I’m fully willing to admit. I’m just very forgiving of the faults as I like the characters so much. The horror elements are far too cheesy for me personally. I prefer a creepy atmosphere and “not seeing too much”. A little mystery is more scary to me than an actor in a clown suit. I also hate silly CGI in horror and there’s a lot of very dodgy effects in this film that had the audience laughing, especially at the end. Again, it didn’t really bother me too much as I cared more about the characters than the “scary” horror moments but I’m sure there will be plenty of horror fans who don’t like this movie thanks to the cheesy effects. I wasn’t a fan of director Andy Muschietti’s film Mama because of the cheesy CGI and, dammit, It Chapter Two looks very similar when it comes to the “monsters”.


Luckily, as I said, the characters are so good that it made up for the unsatisfying scares for me. James McAvoy was a bit “so what”, which was disappointing after he gave his all in Glass. Jessica Chastain was fine but I felt like anyone could’ve played that role and I actually had hoped beforehand that unknowns would be cast. But if going with big names, why not Amy Adams?! Adams looks exactly like Sophia Lillis! Chastain doesn’t. Oh well – Chastain was fine and actually better than I’d hoped (I find her overrated). No one did a bad job – Every adult actor felt like they truly did study the child actors’ performances to make it believable that these are the adults they became. As many have already said, though, it was James Ransone as Eddie & especially Bill Hader as Richie who really stole the show. Loved them! Their characters added so much emotion to this film; From laughter to heartbreak. It was nice to see the “lesser” characters shine instead of all focus being mainly on just Beverly (Chastain) and Bill (McAvoy).

Well, I enjoyed It Chapter Two. Yes, the first part with just the kids is definitely better and has a little more heart. But Kill Bill: Vol. 1 was better than Kill Bill: Vol. 2 in my opinion. It doesn’t matter – I see Kill Bill as one movie now and will see the two chapters of It as one movie from now on too. And it’s a great movie overall and a worthy Stephen King adaptation. Plus, it’s quite epic in scale… Five hours! No wonder we know the characters so well by the end. Now bring on Doctor Sleep! The trailer for that was shown before It Chapter Two and I’m now very excited for that one.

My Rating: 8/10


Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019) Review

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019)

Directed & Written by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino

Narrated by Kurt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is set in 1969 Los Angeles, where an aging television actor and his stunt double and longtime friend navigate the changing Hollywood film industry.

My Opinion:

I never got around to reviewing this as I saw it a few weeks ago while on vacation in America. It’s a very good film. Yes, it’s probably one of Tarantino’s best films overall. I can’t say I loved it, though. In fact, I was a tiny bit bored and very much felt its 2 hour and 41 minute running time. But I’ll be honest: I was a little bit on edge the entire time, which probably didn’t help my enjoyment.

It was great being back in America for the first time in over a decade. I was in a super comfy reclining seat, which seems to be more of a “standard” thing than in the U.K., and I was thoroughly enjoying the superior (and, holy shit, one free refillable!) American popcorn. However, the main things running through my mind for almost three hours were “I wonder how many people in here have guns on them” and “There will be more guns in this showing than in other movies since we’re watching a violent Tarantino film” and “I’m the closest one to the door so very likely to be the first one shot if someone comes in and starts shooting“. Is this what daily life is like for everyone living in America now?

Don’t worry – I am NOT about to get into any sort of political discussion. That’s not me. I just want to joke around & chat with people on my blog about my nerdy love of movies. It just made me long for a more simple time as I do have some great memories of growing up in America and will always see it as my home. Which brings me back to the actual topic: I did appreciate Tarantino’s obvious love for the era of Hollywood depicted in this film. The nostalgia he feels for it really does show through and I could relate to that feeling as I sat there, in the country I spent the first half of my life in, feeling nostalgic about how things used to be and knowing they’ll never be that way again. Also, who wouldn’t like to rewrite some of their own personal history, right? I’d like to write some happier endings to a few things from my past.

I think this may be one of my reviews where I decide by the end of the review that I liked the movie more than I realized… This is why I keep this blog going even though I don’t think anyone reads it anymore: I’m sometimes able to sort my thoughts out on something as I write about it. Yes, I think Tarantino did a good job evoking the mood of that late sixties going into early seventies movie star & movie making world. As a lover of film, I always enjoy movies about filmmaking & that lifestyle. And what I was afraid would be the “central event” of the film but thankfully wasn’t (I won’t use the person’s or the “family’s” name), I guess maybe to Tarantino that event symbolized the loss of innocence and a more simple time in not only the types of movies being made but also in what it was like to live in America. So I’m starting to understand his “rewriting of history” in some films. It’s fun to think that, if we could erase certain events from history, maybe the world would be a different & better place. That’s the whole point of movies for me personally. I like the escapism and Tarantino clearly does too. His escapism just involves waaaaaaaaaay more violence than mine would!!

Okay, I’m now deciding that I liked this movie more than I realized. Although I was clearly a bit distracted while watching it, my experience was probably quite unique since I was in the position to be feeling the same sense of personal nostalgia that Tarantino was trying to convey in this film about a time he clearly misses as well. My main issue with the film is that the overall story is weak. The dialogue also isn’t as strong as in Tarantino’s other films in order to make up for the lack of story and the movie seriously drags in places, especially at the beginning (I kind of forgot that Al Pacino was even in this – I had a very hard time getting into the movie at first but I was busy scanning the audience for guns).

However, I think my old Brad Pitt crush has been renewed. Pitt is brilliant in this and the true star of the film. Don’t get me wrong – Leonardo DiCaprio & Margot Robbie were also fantastic. DiCaprio gives his usual best and has to do more serious “acting” than Pitt but we’ve seen Leo do this sort of role so often now. Leo is one of the finest actors of our time, yes, but Pitt has the true charisma in this film. He embodies the old school “Hollywood star” vibe from the era that Tarantino is portraying, which is fun as he’s just the stunt double to Leo’s fading movie star character.

As for Margot Robbie, she’s thoroughly charming as Sharon Tate and, like Pitt, also very much has that old school “Hollywood star” vibe. It’s a fairly small role, however, which I think was the right move for this film despite people moaning about the “female role” being too small. What happened to Tate and the others was horrible and tragic and, thank god, is not the focus of this film. That story is a backdrop and not glorified or dwelled upon, which is why I think her scenes were kept more simple and less likely to be disrespectful in any way. Unlike the Bruce Lee scene, unfortunately – I can see why his portrayal upset his family and fans although I can also understand that this is an “alternate history” thing and I don’t think Tarantino meant to cause offense with that bit. Enough with women’s bare feet, though, Tarantino!! We get it. You like feet! Most people don’t. We don’t want to see feet. Please stop with the feet.

Okay, I’ve rambled on enough considering that I didn’t even know how I felt about this movie at first. I loved its mood and its setting and absolutely loved Brad Pitt. I enjoyed DiCaprio & Robbie. I hated the “family” (but I suppose that’s the point – I just could’ve done with less time being spent on them). I disliked the bare feet. The story dragged. It was too long. There were fun cameos (as usual). I really liked the ending, which I’d accidentally had spoiled beforehand and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I liked that this was less violent overall than Tarantino’s other films. To be honest, this is Tarantino’s most “feelgood” film and I liked that I was able to walk away from a Tarantino movie feeling a bit more uplifted and less stressed than I usually do after leaving his films. It’s funny that the only stress I felt this time was the real life environment around me but I’m happy to have experienced this movie in my home country, which gave me a more unique perspective. Hell, I don’t know… I think this movie is a bit all over the place and I’ve never felt quite so confused as to if I truly enjoyed a Tarantino film or not. Maybe it IS a damn masterpiece like so many are saying. There’s a messy sort of brilliance going on and I wouldn’t disagree with those who loved it even though I can’t say I feel the same way. However, I think it’s one that will age well and, over time, is likely to be more highly regarded than a lot of Tarantino’s other films.

My Rating: 7.5/10


**I’ve added Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood to my ranked list of films directed by Quentin Tarantino HERE. I really didn’t know where to put it and still might change my mind. I’m contemplating moving it up one space as it’s admittedly a much better film than Jackie Brown but, man, I love that damn soundtrack so much…

Also, I’m really busy at the moment and don’t know when I’ll get a chance to do my monthly movie roundup post. So, for now, here’s the ranked & rated list of all the movies I watched in August (six while on airplanes!). I’ll try to do at least mini reviews of these at some point but most were very disappointing anyway. I’ve starred the airplane movies (sad, I know – but it’s so I remember when I read this ten years from now). 🙂

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10
*Green Book – 7.5/10
Sorry To Bother You – 7/10
The Hate U Give – 7/10
*Bad Times At The El Royale – 6.5/10
Crawl – 6.5/10
*Instant Family – 6.5/10
*Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 6.5/10
*Mortal Engines – 5.5/10
*Eighth Grade – 5/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2019

Happy August! I got my shit together and am posting this on time! It helps that I watched very few movies in July, so this is a short post. I also managed to do separate full reviews of the cinema releases I saw in July, so I’ve posted the links to those. Here’s what I watched and partially read in July…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Yesterday – 7.5/10
Toy Story 4 – 7.5/10
Rocketman – 7.5/10
Midsommar – 7/10
Spider-Man: Far From Home – 7/10
Ma – 7/10
Child’s Play (2019) – 7/10
Booksmart – 7/10
Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10
Brightburn – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Midsommar – 7/10

Ocean Waves – As this is a Studio Ghibli film, I’ll devote a full review post to it at some point. I love Studio Ghibli and this was of course good but it’s certainly not the studio’s best. – 7/10

Spider-Man: Far From Home – 7/10

Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10

The Brotherhood Of Justice – Figured I’d check out this young Keanu Reeves movie since he’s so popular now that everyone has (finally) realized that Keanu is awesome. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A group of high school students, led by a rich boy Derek, is sick of school violence and decides to become underground vigilantes named “Brotherhood of Justice”.” The movie was okay but a little dated, which is fine with me since I love the Eighties (it came out in 1986). What’s funny is that Keanu Reeves was the rich guy (Derek) and Kiefer Sutherland was the nice guy and, knowing their later roles, it’s the opposite of how I see these two actors. Luckily, Keanu was the NICE rich vigilante (he’s too nice in real life to be a bad guy). What was also funny was that Lori Loughlin played his girlfriend and she complained to him that, since she wasn’t rich like him, she had to study and work hard to earn money for college. Ha! I just found that amusing with the college admissions scandal. Anyway, I liked this movie just fine since it’s from my era and I love Keanu but, unless you’re a fan of the Eighties and/or Keanu, you might find this one a little underwhelming. There are better “vigilantes out of control” films. This one isn’t very hard-hitting and doesn’t really address the various issues involved in seeking justice in this sort of way. – 6.5/10

Year Of The Dog – This was an odd one. I was eager to watch this as it was written & directed by Mike White and I love some of what he’s written (School Of Rock and I think some of Freaks And Geeks). This movie was disappointing and probably a little too “indie” for a mainstream audience to get any enjoyment out of it. I see plenty of reviews trashing it on IMDb but, to be fair, I think those people were expecting a mainstream comedy which it SO should not have been marketed as. As an indie film focusing on a woman who goes a little off the deep end after the death of her dog, it’s fine. It’s just a fairly depressing film but the characters aren’t strong enough to really make you care about any of them. I think Molly Shannon did a good job as the woman and I liked seeing Regina King as her friend but the story just didn’t really seem to go anywhere or have any kind of point. But, hey – that’s indie films for you! I think White was better off working with Richard Linklater, who does indie “stories about nothing” that are brilliant due to the characters & dialogue. Unfortunately, Year Of The Dog just felt a bit “So what?”. I’ll give it an extra half a point for Shannon’s performance. – 6/10

Starry Eyes – I hated this. But I don’t feel like trashing it since, well, I assume it’s a low budget film that people worked hard to create and what the hell have I done with MY life? Huh? Nothing! I’ve never made a movie. So they’ve accomplished more than I ever will. Right? Man I hated this movie. I’m never listening to “Horror Twitter” users again. They praise ALL horror movies. I’ll give this an extra half a point for, um, the fact that they made a movie & I haven’t. I’m feeling generous today. Yeah, I realize this isn’t a “review”. I can’t be bothered. I’ve got stuff to do, dammit. – 2.5/10

Re-Watched:

Speed – Keanu Reeves again! I’ve of course seen Speed. Loads of times. But I hadn’t watched it in YEARS so gave it another go. I still think it’s great and remember this movie turning Keanu into a proper action star heart throb. To be fair, Point Break may have done that first but I don’t think that was as big of a mainstream hit (I prefer Point Break – Underrated classic!). Speed is maybe a tiny bit dated in that way that so many 90’s movies are now (man that decade sucked). But, for the most part, it still stands up today and I love the fast pace. You never get bored during this film. I wish action movies nowadays were as good as they used to be… – 8/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

No time for reading at the moment so have been working my way through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt for months. But I’m going on holiday at some point so I’ll bring a nice & easy Dean Koontz book with me!

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Stranger Things – Still working through Season 3 of this. I think I have only two or three episodes left to watch and I cannot get into it AT ALL. The first season was great but it’s gone downhill since. To be honest, they should’ve quit after Season 1. It feels like they’re making shit up as they go along now. It feels pointless.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans for any posts in August. I’ll see you again in September!

August Movies I Want To See:

The Art Of Racing In The Rain – I know nothing whatsoever about this movie but it looks like there’s a cute dog in it, so… Good enough reason to watch it! But maybe on Netflix.

Blinded By The Light – I don’t know much about this either but it’s some kind of musical having to do with the music of Bruce Springsteen? Well, I hate Springsteen so I won’t be rushing to this but it might be worth a watch a home. I prefer movies about music that I like (like The Beatles in Yesterday).

The Sun Is Also A Star – YA romance bullshit! So I of course read the book it’s based on (review HERE). And I’m sure I’ll definitely watch this bullshit adaptation at some point.

Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood – I’ll definitely go to this one but am feeling a bit dubious about the subject matter.

Good Boys – Raunchy pre-teen comedy? Meh. Might watch it (but only because I have Unlimited cinema now).

Crawl – This looks a bit ridiculous and I badly want to see it…

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark – This actually looks freaky as shit! Is it aimed at a younger horror audience? The trailer looks good so I’ll go if reviews are decent. Why do I watch so much horror lately?

There wasn’t much music in the movies I watched in July. So, as I thoroughly enjoyed the film Yesterday (watched in June), here’s my favorite song by The Beatles. Even though it unfortunately wasn’t one of the many songs in the movie…

My Top Ten Woody Harrelson Movies

Happy Birthday to Woody Harrelson, who turns 58 today.

I like Harrelson but I can’t say I was always a fan. But his roles and movies keep getting better and better. I’m glad he’s finally being taken more seriously as an actor. I think he’s one of those actors who people will eventually realize was underrated for many years. I think being in fairly controversial films maybe didn’t help at the time, like Natural Born Killers & The People Vs. Larry Flynt, but he was fantastic in those. At least he was an Oscar nominee for Flynt, I guess. I’d like to see him get an Oscar someday. He’s proven he can do any sort of role; from comedy to serious drama to complete and utter psycho.

So I figured I’d do a full ranking of all the Harrelson films I’ve seen. I’ll be honest and say that I could really do with re-watching most of those outside of the Top Ten. Maybe some would end up in the ten on a re-watch. We’ll see. But, for now, these are My Top Ten Woody Harrelson Movies (ranked by how much I like the movie, not the role):

22-11

22. Friends With Benefits
21. Kingpin
20. Seven Pounds
19. The Glass Castle
18. Doc Hollywood
17. EDtv
16. Indecent Proposal
15. 2012
14. Now You See Me
13. Anger Management
12. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
11. A Scanner Darkly

TOP TEN:

10. White Men Can’t Jump

9. Seven Psychopaths

8. The Hunger Games Movies

7. The People Vs. Larry Flynt

6. The Edge Of Seventeen

5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

4. War For The Planet Of The Apes

3. Solo: A Star Wars Story

2. Zombieland

1. Natural Born Killers

Some I’ve Not Seen:

Wildcats, Moneytrain, Wag The Dog, The Thin Red Line, Palmetto, After The Sunset, North Country, A Prairie Home Companion, No Country For Old Men, Semi-Pro, Transsiberian, Out Of The Furnace, Free Birds, Triple 9, Now You See Me 2, The Duel, LBJ, Wilson, Venom

And I won’t count his uncredited roles in She’s Having A Baby & L.A. Story

TV Shows:

I’m not forgetting, of course, his role as Woody on Cheers. I miss classic American TV here in the UK! It was weird to see him go from that sweet, lovable role to things like Natural Born Killers. And I know a lot of people loved True Detective but I hated it with a passion. I’m glad it helped keep him so popular, though.

It was fun watching him at Wimbledon the other day. People were going crazy on Twitter over the announcers commentating on everything Harrelson was doing. I saw more of Harrelson at Wimbledon than I did of any actual tennis.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2019

Happy almost-end-of July! I’m way behind on these posts (as usual). Here’s the stuff I watched in June. I watched way too much. I’m going to take a break from watching so much crap, especially at home…

MOVIES IN JUNE

MOVIES REVIEWED IN JUNE

None. I had a busy month so posted nothing on my blog. I caught up on reviewing current releases the past couple of weeks, though. I’ve posted links to my full reviews below.

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

Yesterday – 7.5/10

Toy Story 4 – 7.5/10

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – This is one of my 2019 Blind Spot choices so I’ll review it in full at some point (probably for Halloween). I added it since the Italian Giallo horror thing is one of very few genres I’ve not yet really explored (I’ve still seen nothing other than three Dario Argento films). I liked Deep Red – I have to say it’s a more straightforward and “accessible” film than something like Suspiria, although that one is more my style. Man I love the Goblin score in these movies… – 7.5/10

Rocketman7.5/10

Searching – I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting for a movie that’s all seen through a computer screen via Skype, social media posts, websites, videos, etc. I didn’t think the gimmick would work but the mystery of the daughter’s disappearance was intriguing enough to keep you interested the whole time. The story worked well, the father & daughter had good character development (making up for other characters having very little), and the gimmick didn’t end up being a distraction from the story like I feared it might. The pacing was also really good – these mystery thrillers can drag a bit sometimes but this was fast-paced and very engaging the entire time. I feel like I’m hyping this too much… It’s not exactly Oscar-worthy material but I’m impressed that its gimmick worked so surprisingly well. – 7/10

Ma7/10

Child’s Play (2019)7/10

Crazy Rich Asians – I see why this film got a lot of hype as it’s a good return to the simple rom-coms that have really died off in the past decade. To be fair, it truly deserves to be ranked higher than Ma & Child’s Play as it’s a much better film (but I’m more of a horror girl than a rom-com girl). If you’re a rom-com fan, I definitely recommend this movie as it’s a fun film with characters you’ll love as well as love to hate. Is it the most original movie ever?? No, we’ve seen the whole “evil mother-in-law” thing before. But that doesn’t matter if it’s a well-written movie. The characters are strong and the main guy is a hottie – I enjoyed gazing at him in the thoroughly entertaining A Simple Favor as well. The only thing I’ll say is that I’d have liked a bit more to happen at the end. Some things are left unresolved and I’d have liked more of a comeuppance for a few people. This movie keeps things very light, though. It’s also very “clean” so it’s something that wouldn’t be inappropriate to have on while your kids or grandparents are around or something. I don’t mean that as an insult, though – it was kind of refreshing to see a modern rom-com that isn’t crude in any way. – 7/10

The Killing – I’ve watched a lot of movies for my IMDb Top 250 Project this year so I’ll try to give this Stanley Kubrick film a review when I do a big post with the other Top 250 movies that I’ve watched. – 7/10

Booksmart7/10

Wine Country – This was fine. I actually liked it more than I was expecting for a Netflix old-chick chick-flick. But that’s because I’m an old chick like these chicks. Well, I’m a tiny bit younger… (Not much!). Considering the stars of this, the movie is fairly tame. I actually prefer that to the over-the-top comedies such as Bridesmaids. It’s not a laugh-out-loud riot but I got a few laughs out of it (mostly thanks to Maya Rudolph – I usually find her funny). What I also liked is that the women all had different personalities so you’ll probably like or relate to at least one of them if you’re a middle-aged woman like me. I’d totally be the friend in this who no one expected to actually turn up to this get-together. That’s so me. Seriously – Don’t invite me to anything. I don’t want to come. – 6.5/10

Brightburn6.5/10

If I Stay – I figured I should finally watch this since I read the book when I was on my “I’m tired and I’m only going to read easy YA stuff” kick. From what I remember of the book now, this is a pretty faithful adaptation. Dare I say that it was maybe even a little better than the book? They did a good job with the characters and the parents were especially likeable (I don’t remember as much focus on them in the book?). The romance was also believable enough and they had decent chemistry. As far as teen drama romances go, I thought this was fairly good. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis:”Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. The choice is hers if she can go on.” – 6.5/10

Boogaloo Shrimp Documentary – This documentary has only FIVE votes at IMDb. Shameful! Anyway, here’s the IMDb plot synopsis if you don’t know who the hell Boogaloo Shrimp is – “The life story of Michael Chambers aka “Boogaloo Shrimp”: the dancer, actor, singer, comedian and master of waving, ticking, backsliding and liquid animation dance during the 1980’s breakdancing phenomenon.” Well, this documentary is fine and it was fun seeing Michael Chambers being interviewed. It’s not the most in-depth documentary, though – I’d only recommend it if you’re a fan. What I DO totally recommend is the movie Breakin‘ (1984). Eighties classic! Love it. And nothing beats Boogaloo Shrimp’s “broom dance” from that movie. I’ve posted a video of the dance at the end of this post. – 6.5/10

Life As We Know It – I honestly can’t believe I watched a Katherine Fucking Heigl movie. Something about her is just really hateful. I hope she doesn’t read this… Hey, Katherine Heigl – you’re far less hateful than Gwyneth Paltrow! Anyway. I think I watched this because I liked the (unbelievable) setup: A couple with a new baby die in a car accident and leave the baby to their two best friends who can’t stand each other. The two best friends must then work together to create a new life for the baby!! Madness and TOTALLY FUCKING PREDICTABLE possible romance ensues!!! I kind of hate myself for watching this. And even more for kind of liking it. It’s fine. What can I say? Sometimes you’re in the mood for an utterly predictable rom-com with a cute baby. My only actual complaint is that I’d have liked a little more focus on the baby. Poor kid. Not sure I felt by the end that she’d ever really feel like these are her “parents”. But I’m probably putting too much thought into a movie with a pretty ridiculous concept. – 6/10

Finders Keepers (2015) – This was a bizarrely fascinating documentary. I really need to give you the Wikipedia plot synopsis for THIS one: “The story details John Wood’s attempts to recover his mummified leg from Shannon Whisnant, after Whisnant found the leg in a grill purchased at a storage unit auction.” Yep, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. This guy lost a leg in a plane crash and asked the hospital if he could keep the leg. So they gave it to him, skin and all, and it was really gross and he didn’t know what to do with it so he stuck it inside a grill in a storage unit. Then he didn’t pay the rent on the unit and the stuff in the unit went to auction. A guy bought the grill and discovered this gnarly leg inside and decided to turn it into a money-making opportunity and wanted to charge people to come see the human leg. But the original owner of the leg heard about it and wanted his leg back and it all turned into a custody battle over who had the right to now own the leg. Seriously. What’s best about the documentary, besides the bizarro story itself, is that these two guys are obviously unique characters. Who the hell would want to keep a human leg they found?! You’re likely to be on the side of the guy who lost his leg. I mean, it’s his damn leg! Humans are so fucking weird sometimes. Well, watch this one if you want some light (and weird) entertainment. – 6/10

The Happytime Murders – Soooo much silly string! This movie was, uh, what I was expecting. To be fair, although it’s not great, it’s better than its ratings would have you believe. What the hell did people expect? It’s a raunchy comedy with filthy puppets. Not as funny or clever as I’d been hoping but who doesn’t want to see a puppet squirting silly string, uh, semen all over the place, huh? – 5.5/10

On Chesil Beach – Soooo much silly string! I guess this movie was fine. Well acted & all that but I was a bit bored. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “Based on Ian McEwan’s novel. In 1962 England, a young couple find their idyllic romance colliding with issues of sexual freedom and societal pressure, leading to an awkward and fateful wedding night.” The problem was that the new husband was a complete asshole and it was very hard to have any sympathy for him. I felt sorry for Saoirse Ronan’s character. The ending was fairly good – it just felt like it took forever to get there. I’m not really into this sort of genre, though. Watch it if you like a relationship drama. – 6/10

Murder Mystery – Ugh. First of all, can I just say that I do NOT hate Adam Sandler? Hating him seems to be the popular thing. He’s had some dreadful movies, yes, but he’s also had several that I quite like (especially The Wedding Singer). Murder Mystery is definitely not one of his better films, though. For the most part, it’s just boring. It has none of that wacky Sandler humor that I know isn’t for everyone but I prefer that humor to the blandness of this film. I suppose it’s kind of fun in that it has, well, a murder mystery. It’s like Murder-On-The-Orient-Express-Lite. But with a far less intriguing mystery. If you like Sandler & Aniston, Just Go With It is a better movie. But his movies with Drew Barrymore are WAY better. – 5.5/10

Re-Watched:

The Karate Kid (1984) – LOVE this movie. It’s another Eighties classic. And when it comes to inspirational underdog movies, you can’t deny that The Karate Kid is one of the all-time BEST. Hell, I’d personally put it up there with Rocky but I know that’s because I’m an 80’s kid so I love this as I grew up with it (I like it more than I like Rocky). I watched this with my daughter and I’m loving sharing favorites of mine with her as she gets older. They don’t always work… I admit that some of my beloved Eighties films are dated and she hasn’t liked some of them. She loved this. While it has some very 80’s moments (The You’re The Best montage! God I love a cheesy old montage!!), I think it easily stands the test of time. The underdog story is timeless, the characters are strong, and it has some extremely iconic moments and lines. Who doesn’t know the whole “wax on, wax off” thing even if they’ve never seen the movie?? What really sold it to my daughter was Mr. Miyagi and she has now declared him as one of her very favorite movie characters. She was very excited when she got a Karate Kid shirt the other day and thinks she’s cool as shit when she wears it now. It’s actually a cool as shit shirt – I want one too. Any movie that can gain new generations of fans 30+ years after its original release is my definition of a damn good film. – 9/10

A Knight’s Tale – Watched this with the kid as well since I thought she might like it. I think she did but not nearly as much as The Karate Kid! I remember hearing a while back that this is “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes. Come ON. I know it’s not exactly Citizen Kane but it’s fun and there’s a Bowie song in it, dammit. Critics need to lighten the hell up sometimes. Like The Karate Kid, it’s an entertaining underdog story. Who the hell doesn’t like a good underdog story?! Who cares that this one is pretty damn predictable? It’s light entertainment. It’s a popcorn movie. (It’s no Karate Kid, though – Watch that one first) – 7/10

Godzilla (2014) – Ugh. I figured I’d re-watch this before going to the new Godzilla movie. It reminded me just how fucking boring this one was. I was so bored that I ended up not bothering going to the new one. – 5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

As I said, it was a busy month so I watched no TV shows and I’m still in the middle of reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It’s long so it’s taking FOREVER…….

As for music, I realized that I never actually post about music in this section. Weird as I love it almost as much as I do movies. I suppose it’s because I never like any new music. Anyone have any recommendations of music from within the last ten years that doesn’t suck?! Here’s the kind of shit that I like. Yeah, stuff like Bowie. I always love an excuse to use a David Bowie image.

BLOG PLANS FOR JULY

My only blog plans for July were to catch up on reviewing cinema releases that I’ve seen. I’m now all caught up. Yay! And I’m unlikely to go to any more for a while since movie releases for the next few weeks are really poor for the summer season. Yikes.

July Movies I Want To See:

Well, it’s over halfway through the month now so I’ve seen some of these. I’ve included links to those I’ve reviewed.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Midsommar

Anna – Was kind of annoyed to miss this. It didn’t show for long. I’m sure it’s not great but I did actually like Luc Besson’s Lucy and sexy female assassin stories are usually entertaining popcorn movies.

Annabelle Comes Home

The Dead Don’t Die – Could’ve gone to this last week then remembered that it’s directed by Jim Jarmusch and I thought his film Only Lovers Left Alive was boring as shit. So I didn’t bother.

The Lion King – NO. I’ve had it with these Disney remakes. I don’t want to give this or any more unnecessary remakes any money. But, yeah – I’m likely to see it on whatever service it pops up on. (Oh yeah – I guess it’ll be the Disney one that we aren’t getting in the U.K. anytime soon???).

The Current War – So odd that this took SO long to come out! That’s worrying. The reviews don’t look great but I’d be interested in seeing it on Netflix eventually.

Teen Spirit – Looks like it could be a fun family film. Might go to it if we have nothing else to do one night.

Here’s the Boogaloo Shrimp broom dance from Breakin’. With music from Kraftwerk! That’s the kind of shit that I like…

Child’s Play (2019) Review

Child’s Play (2019)

Directed by Lars Klevberg

Based on Child’s Play by Don Mancini

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill

Music by Bear McCreary

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Child’s Play follows a family that is terrorized by a high-tech doll that rejects its programming, becoming self-aware and murderous.

My Opinion:

What the hell? I, um, quite liked this? This goes against everything that I stand for! It’s silly & ridiculous and it’s yet another goddamn remake (or is it a reboot?!). Whatever – both piss me off. Come up with some original ideas, Hollywood!!! I think I was just in a really good mood when I saw this. Maybe the popcorn was really good that day? Maybe it was the fact that my expectations beforehand could NOT have been any lower? Maybe my hair was looking good? Well, whatever the reason, I had fun watching this. It’s stupid but it’s a nice return to the unapologetic Eighties slasher genre. Most horror movies take themselves too damn seriously nowadays.

I won’t bother comparing this to the original. I like the first few Child’s Play movies just fine but, let’s be honest, they’re not exactly great. I mean, they’re not A Nightmare On Elm Street or a classic slasher like that (THAT remake was atrocious and pissed me the hell off!). So I wasn’t all that bothered about this being remade and, as Chucky is now a high-tech terror and can connect to other electronics from the same company, the movie feels very different anyway so I just see them as entirely separate films. Plus, of course, they changed his look. He looks just as stupid as always, really. Again – I’m not precious about the original so the redesign didn’t bother me. And I of course love Mark Hamill so enjoyed having him as the new Chucky’s voice.

First of all, I’d say they made these characters fairly likeable for a slasher. Andy (Gabriel Bateman) was good and I liked the fact that he’s older than the original Andy (13, I think?). By the way, it’s explained why a 13-year-old boy has a “doll” (which is much more than just a doll now – it’s more of a gadget). His mother (Aubrey Plaza) is also fine, I guess, in her usual annoying way. Yes, it’s also quickly explained why she’s so damn young (she says something about a very eventful Sweet 16). See, movie writers? All you have to do to explain away something that seems a bit stupid is to add in some sort of line like that. Andy also makes a couple of friends his age who are decent characters as well as a likeable neighbor and his mother. So, as far as slashers go, they did a decent job with the characters for a change.

Chucky also has a fun personality in this. Weirdly, he’s kind of a lovable little fucker at first. Fans of the original may miss the much more twisted Chucky, though. I don’t want to give too much away but Chucky going bad in this one is completely different to the (admittedly lame) reason in the original. But it makes for quite a different and ALMOST sympathetic Chucky in this one. I maybe slightly prefer the full-on psycho Chucky of the original but prefer the silly but far LESS silly plot of the new one. I think making Chucky a gadget that can use other electronic devices to kill people in inventive ways was actually quite a good idea to bring Child’s Play up-to-date. One kill, involving some kind of gardening device, was especially wicked. (A tiller. I had to Google that as I know jack shit about gardening. And cooking. And any boring domestic shit like that.)

Child’s Play 2019 is a slasher film that stays very true to the Eightiesstyle slasher. You either like that genre or you don’t. I do as I grew up on it but it’s certainly not for everyone. If it’s not your thing, don’t bother with this movie. If it is, I think you’ll have fun with this remake. They seemed to have fun making it, which I think is important in this genre. Who wants a serious slasher?? I’m going to be way too generous with my rating because I’m feeling nice this week. It’s likely that I’ll lower it by the end of the year but, for now, I have to admit that I liked this movie.

My Rating: 7/10

Brightburn (2019) Review

Brightburn (2019)

Directed by David Yarovesky

Produced by James Gunn & Kenneth Huang

Written by Brian Gunn & Mark Gunn

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Gregory Alan Williams, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agree, Becky Wahlstrom, Christian Finlayson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a young alien boy raised on Earth who realizes he has superpowers, soon using them to terrorize his town.

My Opinion:

This was okay but I was disappointed overall. It’s certainly far more a “horror” than a “superhero” film, which was perfectly fine with me as I have superhero burnout. However, I admit that it was far too gory for my liking. Yikes! So, if you like your horror to have plenty of gore, I think you’ll be happy with Brightburn. And if you just want a “superhero gone bad” movie, bear in mind that this is actually a horror movie and that you may not like this.

I think this movie suffers a bit from the thing I always complain about; I didn’t like or care enough about these characters to really give a crap about what would happen to them. Elizabeth Banks, as the “adoptive” mother of the boy no one knows is an alien with superpowers, is the most sympathetic character as you can understand why she wants to stand by her son when he starts showing signs of maaaaybe being a bit of a psycho. And he really does turn into a complete psycho. If you like some good old fashioned evil, you may appreciate this film. I’d hate to babysit this boy & The Omen’s Damien. I’m now wondering which one would win in a fight. Evil superpower alien or son of Satan?! There’s a crossover we’ve not seen.

I was looking forward to this film as it was produced by James Gunn and written by his brother & his cousin Brian & Mark. I really like some of the things James Gunn has written (2004’s Dawn Of The Dead, Slither, and of course the Guardians Of The Galaxy films). Brightburn certainly doesn’t live up to those but I don’t know how much involvement he had plus he didn’t write this one. I like the humor of the films he’s written but Brightburn is a straightforward, full-on horror movie so don’t expect it to have any of the humor of other movies he’s been involved in. I’m actually surprised this was rated only a 15 in the UK. It seriously pushes some boundaries on the gore. I’m starting to wonder what the hell it takes for a movie to be rated 18 in the UK…

Well, Brightburn was okay but I didn’t love it. In some ways, though, I did kind of appreciate the fact that it went all out into the horror genre instead of focusing on the superpower thing. And the mask is pretty cool – it’s effectively creepy. Is it weird that I was more impressed that a pre-teen boy was able to make a cool mask than I was that he had superpowers? Did he sew that himself?! I’m sure a lot of horror fans did enjoy this film but the characters, especially alien boy himself, seriously lacked character development. He kind of turns evil for no reason whatsoever? He could’ve been a tortured soul and all that jazz. An alien in an alien world! Oh well. The story had potential that it just didn’t quite live up to. Considering how simple the idea is, it’s kind of never really been done in quite this same way in the horror genre (that I can think of, anyway). I really wish they’d done more with a good idea. But, hey – the end credits hint at sequel potential so we’ll see.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Ma (2019) Review

Ma (2019)

Directed by Tate Taylor

Starring: Octavia Spencer, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, Skyler Joy, Luke Evans, Andrew Matthew Welch, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Missi Pyle, Nicole Carpenter, Tanyell Waivers, Allison Janney, Dominic Burgess, Heather Marie Pate, Tate Taylor, Victor Turpin, Margaret Fegan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ma follows a group of teenagers who befriend a lonely middle-aged woman who allows them to party in her basement, and find themselves being terrorized by her.

My Opinion:

Hey! The main teen girl in this (Diana Silvers) was in Booksmart. I reviewed that yesterday and was probably very unfairly harsh on that film. It’s a better film than Ma. However, I weirdly got far more enjoyment out of Ma. So, while I recognize that Ma is an odd film that some will hate, I’m going to review it positively. I liked it. When it comes to horror, I always lower my expectations. Is it a good film? Meh. Is it a fun horror with a fairly unique idea compared to the so many predictable horror movies that get made? Yes. That’s all you can really ask for from this type of movie. It’s not trying to be Suspiria or Rosemary’s Baby or some horror classic like those.

First of all, I always moan about unlikeable characters in horror movies. How are we supposed to care what happens to them if they’re assholes? I’ve noticed that horror characters are getting better these days and, luckily, Ma does quite well with its characters (as far as the horror genre goes). The teenagers, while not the most developed characters ever, are likeable enough and certainly not at all deserving of what this woman puts them through. Octavia Spencer’s role is also very good in that she’s actually a somewhat sympathetic villain. At least at first… I’ll stay spoiler-free but you will (I should hope) sympathize with her a bit. While I love a good full-on “crazy lady” (give me Piper Laurie in Carrie!), there’s more to Spencer’s character in this so she doesn’t get to let loose and go as completely mental as I was kind of hoping to see from her. However, once you know the story, it makes more sense for her character to not turn into Kathy Bates in Misery (although, don’t worry – she still goes pretty psycho if you’re wanting to see that!).

Another element I knew nothing about but was a nice surprise is that there’s a bit of time spent on the parents of the teenagers. Not nearly as much time as I’d have liked, though. They mostly focus on the main girl’s mother (played by Juliette Lewis) but she also deserved much more development. All the parents really should’ve had more time spent on their character development to further round out this story and I think this could’ve easily been achieved by taking just a little bit of time away from the teenagers. Yes, I’m the age of the parents (oh my god, when did that happen?!?!) and I understand the annoying need to market everything to a young audience these days but, in the context of this storyline, we needed a little more time spent on the boring, old fart parents as well. What’s weird is that I seriously hated Juliette Lewis when I was a teenager but now kind of love seeing her in stuff? Maybe I just appreciate seeing people my age in movies now. I think it started with Whip It. I love that movie. She almost made me want to be a kick ass middle-aged roller derby chick.

Well, I enjoyed Ma and appreciated the fact that the characters were a bit better than we normally get in this sort of horror movie. As with most horror movies, though, I thought the ending was weak. To be honest, I’m not sure how I’d have wanted it to end but it was kind of a letdown after a fairly strong start. I did also appreciate the storyline and the fact that this idea felt more original than in a lot of modern horrors. I’m not going to pretend that it’s a good film, though, and it’s one I’d only recommend to people if I knew their movie tastes well and thought they’d like it. You might hate it but I liked it enough to give it a much higher rating than I know it actually deserves. Fuck it, I rate on my level of enjoyment just as much as on a movie’s worthiness. I’ve been too harsh on movies recently anyway.

My Rating: 7/10

Booksmart (2019) Review

Booksmart (2019)

Directed by Olivia Wilde

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Booksmart stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two graduating high school girls who set out to finally break the rules and party on their last day of classes.

My Opinion:

I was really looking forward to this movie after the huge amount of hype on Film Twitter. And even though I’m WAY beyond my teenage years, I’ll always love a good teen movie. Of course I will; I grew up on John Hughes! I think there have been some very good coming of age movies in recent years, which will probably forever be a favorite sub genre of mine thanks to Stand By Me being a favorite film from my own teen years. But I do tend to prefer the more serious teen films, such as The Edge Of Seventeen & The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, to the full-on comedies such as Booksmart. Maybe that’s why I found this movie slightly disappointing? I don’t know. I’m not a huge fan of straightforward comedies. This movie really just is the female version of Superbad, which I found quite average and only occasionally funny. I do think Booksmart is the better film, but only slightly. Weird that Jonah Hill’s sister, Beanie Feldstein, is in what I see as the female version of his movie…

Do I dare bring this up or will I get in trouble? Screw it – I’m female. I think, as there’s such a push for female directors now, some of their movies are getting overhyped. Guess what? One woman directed AND wrote The Edge Of Seventeen, which is a much better film. Why was nothing said of that? Because, just a few years ago when that came out, everyone wasn’t so focused on being so damn outraged over everything. You know what else is a much better and far funnier film than Booksmart? Clueless. Waaaay back in the dark ages of 1995 yet also directed and written by just one woman. Know what else is a fantastic film and female as f*^k? Waitress (2007), directed and written by the lovely Adrienne Shelly. If she was alive & that film had come out now, it would be up for some damn Oscars. So, yeah, female-led films are being overhyped now as they were so often unfairly dismissed in the past. I get it. I do. But Booksmart is just… Okay.

I promise I’ll shut up in a minute. I’m not going to get into a big discussion on female directors or how much I f*^king love Wayne’s World & Point Break. I’m really happy that women do finally seem to be getting more opportunities to direct now and I know I’ll absolutely love some of their films and may be able to relate to them more. I just wish that they’d been given more recognition in the past because there have been better films than Lady Bird made by women over the years (good but not Best Picture material – Hell, The Edge Of Seventeen was better). So. Booksmart is fun and I did laugh at times but it’s no better (and no worse) than similar films made by men such as Judd Apatow. If you like the Seth Rogen-type comedies but not Booksmart (and vice versa), that makes no sense and you probably ARE sexist. Because it’s the exact same type of movie. Whatever. I’m just sick of people getting hung up on who directs or stars in a movie. Who cares? I just like good characters & writing. I want to be entertained. *Rant over*

Should I actually talk about the movie?! Sorry! I do go off on one sometimes. I won’t once again get started on female-starring comedies always getting far lower ratings than male-starring comedies so I admit that sexism clearly does sadly still exist, especially when it comes to comedy for some strange reason. I don’t personally like either film AT ALL but there’s no f*^king WAY that The Hangover deserves a higher IMDb rating than Bridesmaids. I swear people get a little weird about women daring to be raunchy too. I like raunchy women, dammit, and I like that Booksmart manages to be raunchy but intelligent & realistic about it. Maybe that’s why it’s being more readily accepted? I’m not comparing it to Bridesmaids – it’s definitely a much better film. I don’t like “shock” comedy and Booksmart is more the kind of humor that I go for.

I think the problem is that some of its humor doesn’t work at all. I liked the two main characters just fine but thought all the other characters were very weak. The “doll part”, while a favorite scene for some, didn’t work for me. It’s the kind of dumb scene that modern teens would bitch about in an Eighties movie such as Better Off Dead. We were making dumb scenes like that before today’s teenagers were born! And, as much as I hate to say it as I adore Carrie Fisher, I thought Billie Lourd’s character was ridiculous. I’m not saying it’s her fault – I just didn’t like the character. Never mind that she’s clearly ten years older than any high school student I’ve ever seen but, okay, I know this has always been a thing in “teen” movies all the way back to Grease. I was just confused as I honestly didn’t realize she was a fellow student at first. As I said, though, I liked the two main characters just fine and thought that Kaitlyn Dever & Beanie Feldstein were funny and very believable as best friends. They’re what made the movie better overall. I truly did want to love this but I’m always very picky when it comes to comedy. I enjoyed it but, admittedly, I’m getting further & further away from being the target audience for a teen film. I’m glad that teenagers do seem to be loving it and fully understand why. It’s a good teen comedy. I even admit that it’s a far better film than some of the very dodgy teen movies I liked in the Eighties. But it’s certainly no Stand By Me. Or even Better Off Dead

My Rating: 7/10

Rocketman (2019) Review

Rocketman (2019)

Directed by Dexter Fletcher

Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows Elton John’s early days as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music to his musical partnership with Bernie Taupin. The film is titled after John’s 1972 song “Rocket Man”.

My Opinion:

I watched this a while ago but never got around to reviewing it. I know it, understandably, got compared to Bohemian Rhapsody a lot and that snobby film fans far preferred Rocketman. I have to say that Rocketman is most definitely the better “film” whereas Bohemian Rhapsody is more of a straightforward and very lightweight crowd-pleaser. I do think people were too hard on Bohemian Rhapsody, though. I think music biopics should be fun. If you want reality, watch a damn documentary about the band. (It sure as shit shouldn’t have been up for the Best Picture Oscar, though.) However, I think most people would agree that Queen’s songs are far more enjoyable than Elton John’s, which will be another big reason why Bohemian Rhapsody was more popular with mainstream cinema goers. I mean, come on – Queen are WAY cooler than Elton John. Sorry Elton John fans! John & Taupin did write some absolute all-time classics, though. There’s no denying that they’re hugely talented, whether or not you’re a fan of their music.


Rocketman also won’t have won over casual movie fans thanks to it having been done more in the style of a musical, which isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t always like the musical approach as it doesn’t always work but I thought it worked very well for this film and I did enjoy it. Also, Taron Egerton was absolutely brilliant! I thought his performance was far more impressive than Rami Malek’s as Freddie Mercury. Egerton had to sing & dance & perform full musical numbers – who knew he was such an all-around talent? I’m impressed. I wasn’t previously a fan and kind of borderline disliked him. I can’t fault him in Rocketman – he’s fantastic.

As well as Egerton, Jamie Bell was great as Bernie Taupin. Okay – I admit to knowing very little about John & even less about Taupin so can’t say how accurate this movie is but it was good seeing their relationship and musical partnership. They’re great together in this film and it was interesting to see how they worked together to write such strong songs. As I said; Even if it’s music mostly just loved by people who are even older than I am now, you can’t deny how brilliant these songs really are. I mean, I’m old and adore music from the 70s but Elton John isn’t really my thing. When are we going to get a Black Sabbath musical with full dance numbers?! I’d watch that! They could do something really fun with Fairies Wear Boots!


As for the rest of the cast (such as Richard Madden as John’s manager and lover & Bryce Dallas Howard as John’s mother), they’re also very good but I do wonder what the real people think of this film. Well, I assume Elton John’s parents aren’t alive now. Probably not since they’re shown as being pretty hateful. Not as hateful as Madden’s character, though (John Reid). As Reid also managed Queen, he was in Bohemian Rhapsody as well but not shown to be such a jerk. I found an interesting article HERE comparing Reid in both films (both times played by Game Of Thrones actors but only played by a hot actor in Rocketman). Speaking of hot actors, I don’t think Egerton is hot but I bet Elton WISHES he actually looked like Egerton. That’s movie fantasy for you, though. I want someone super hot to play me in the story of my life too! God, that would be a boring movie.

Rocketman is a good film with great performances. Not actually being a big Elton John fan, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. The story and performances are very strong and they did the usual “rock star drug drama & daddy issues” thing very well but I also really liked the musical numbers (even the Crocodile Rock one and I f*^king hate that song!). It’s a good scene. Heck, I think the movie made me like the songs a bit more as they actually really suit the musical format of the movie. Maybe I was just in a good mood when I saw this. Or maybe I’m a secret Elton John fan & don’t want to admit it. (Nah)

My Rating: 7.5/10

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Review

Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Directed by Gary Dauberman

Story by James Wan & Gary Dauberman

Starring: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
While babysitting the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a teenager and her friend unknowingly awaken an evil spirit trapped in a doll.

My Opinion:

I’m not sure why but I’ve watched all the Conjuring Universe movies. I thought the first Conjuring film was very good but the rest of the films have mostly been rubbish. The Annabelle movies have been the worst and I hated the second film. Well, I’m happy to say that I think Annabelle Comes Home is at least far better than the first two Annabelle films. I still didn’t love it but actually did quite enjoy it. And I’m in a rare good mood so I’m going to give it a decent rating. Here’s my Conjuring Universe movie rankings & links to my other reviews:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

I was kind of tough on The Nun. It wasn’t that bad. And The Conjuring 2 is probably much better than Annabelle Comes Home but I just can’t remember much of that one at this point…

I’m not sure if people are liking this movie or not but it’s certainly the “least evil” of the Annabelle movies, which may not please Conjuring Universe fans. I believe all these movies are probably rated 15 in the UK but was curious what the American rating was for this one so I looked it up. It was far more tame than the others so I’m surprised it’s still rated R?? It really feels like a PG-13 film, which I know not all horror fans appreciate but I have no problem with. Hell, the movie almost gave me more of a Goosebumps feel (not helped by the fact that the babysitter in this was in Goosebumps 2).

I think that’s why I had fun with this one, though. I liked that the focus was on a couple of teenage girls babysitting a younger girl (played by Mckenna Grace). I also liked the predictable but simple story. Slight spoiler but the doll awakens various evil spirits which terrorize each girl in a way that also reminded me of the plot in the first Goosebumps film (I admit it – I liked the Goosebumps movie). Most importantly, though, the three girls are likeable. Too many cheesy horror movies have hateful characters, which I never understand. I want to like the characters if I’m going to care about their fate.


For fans of Ed & Lorraine Warren, I’m sorry to say that they’re barely in this. That’s a shame but they’ve had bigger roles in some of the other films so I was okay with them being in this one less. I do find it fascinating that these stories are (loosely) based on their real life paranormal investigations. I didn’t realize that the Amityville haunting was one of their cases as well. I love that paranormal shit! I know these movies are massively exaggerated, of course, but supernatural horror is my favorite type and I usually enjoy even the many bad movies in this genre. Annabelle Comes Home isn’t bad, though. It’s fine but it’s not exactly going to blow anyone away and it doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before (although the bit with the old television set was fairly inventive). I also liked that they included a nod to the real-life Annabelle doll, which was a far less freaky-looking Raggedy Ann doll.

Speaking of creepy dolls, I’ve always been a fan of scary doll movies. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Annabelle movies are the best in this sub genre and Annabelle herself doesn’t have much to do in these films. I realize it’s better than movies where you’re actually seeing the dolls walking around & stuff as that’s super cheesy… Anyway, I of course made a list of My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & Television. I’ll forever be haunted by an old Alfred Hitchcock creepy doll episode…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Yesterday (2019) Review

Yesterday (2019)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Story by Jack Barth & Richard Curtis

Starring: Himesh Patel, Karma Sood, Lily James, Jaimie Kollmer, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran, Lamorne Morris, Sophia Di Martino, Joel Fry, Ellise Chappell, Harry Michell, Camille Chen, Alexander Arnold, James Corden, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Karl Theobald

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.

My Opinion:

I have to admit that, while there are definitely cheesy moments in this film (of course there are – it’s Richard Curtis!), I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s now one of my favorites for 2019 so far. It’s certainly a feelgood movie but, hell, we could all use those every once in a while. I don’t want all movies to be as depressing as Midsommar. It’s also one of those movies that gives you plenty to talk about and contemplate afterwards as the concept is fantastic. What a brilliant idea for a story – I absolutely loved the plot synopsis when I first heard about the film and it was great to see how the story would play out.

To be fair, though, I’m a fan of The Beatles. I’ve done a load of Top Ten posts on this blog since starting it but My Top Ten Beatles Songs was one of my first lists (it may actually be the very first). I do think you need to like their music (and/or the band members themselves) to truly appreciate this film. Had this been based on a band I didn’t like, I’d still admire the subject matter but wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much enjoyment out of the film. The concept and the music are what make this movie. If you hate The Beatles & aren’t impressed by the plot, there’s absolutely no reason for you to watch this.

Does the movie do all that it can with such a good idea? Yes and no. I really liked the direction the story took a couple of times and truly loved one surprise even though I SO should’ve seen it coming. I think it’s always hard to live up to a brilliant idea, though. The movie, overall, could’ve been better. The romance wasn’t believable nor was the possibility that this guy could become as famous as The Beatles. Himesh Patel is good in this role but, come on – his character is just not very interesting and doesn’t have much charisma. The Beatles made some of the all-time best songs but did they become so famous based ONLY on their songs? I don’t know. Maybe? That’s certainly something that would make for an interesting conversation but I don’t think the movie really explored this. Also, while I love most of their songs, there are some I really don’t like and some that I don’t think have aged well. Would the songs be as popular if they were made now? That’s not the kind of music that’s made today. This isn’t explored at all in the movie. It makes me sad but I don’t think the songs would be as popular if they were heard for the very first time in 2019. I may be wrong but I rarely hear anyone younger than me saying that they like The Beatles.


Ed Fucking Sheeran. Ew.

Oh well. Although the film isn’t absolutely perfect, it was great to see something with so much originality instead of yet another sequel or superhero film. And I certainly can’t complain at hearing so many great songs for a couple of hours. It even made up for Ed Fucking Sheeran being in this! It’s a shame that the movie suffers a bit from some typical Richard Curtis rom-com writing but, luckily, nothing in it is as ridiculous as Love Actually. I just wish there’d been more of the old school Danny Boyle influence on this but I suppose a Trainspotting vibe wouldn’t suit this family-friendly feelgood film. That was a lot of F words… Fanciful family-friendly feelgood fantasy fiction film for Fab Four fans!

My Rating: 7.5/10

Toy Story 4 (2019) Review

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Directed by Josh Cooley

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack

Music by Randy Newman

Production Company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.

My Opinion:

I adore Pixar. I think they make all-time classic family films that are far better than the majority of live-action films these days. When they became a part of Disney, I knew we might get the problem of “too many sequels” since Disney love to squeeze out these easy money-makers. I know we all love these characters but did we really need yet another Toy Story film after such a perfect trilogy? No, we didn’t. Is it bad? Of course not. Other than the Cars films, Pixar don’t tend to make bad movies. Even their “not as good” films are way better than animated films from other studios. Toy Story 4 really did feel a bit pointless to me, though. While I enjoyed it and liked seeing Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang again, I felt very underwhelmed after thinking about it for a while. I also saw it a second time as extended family wanted to go to it so it was interesting to find that I actually liked it a little less the second time. I didn’t expect that.

I’ll start with the good: Forky is a great new character. I loved his whole existential crisis and wish they had actually explored that much more than they did. We also get a lot of Woody for people who are Woody fans. Wow – these names sound a bit dirty… Who wants a good Woody Forky!?! (I do). I also loved the creepy ass dummies because creepy ass dummies are awesome (I highly recommend the movies Magic and Dead Of Night if you like creepy ass dummies). I loved getting to find out what happened to Bo Peep since they just dropped her ass from these films and it’s great that she turned out to be pretty damn cool. And the animation is AMAZING. Remember when the first Toy Story came out and we were shocked at how brilliant it looked? It looks so primitive now compared to Toy Story 4. OH! I almost forgot to mention Keanu! Keanu Reeves is in this so, of course, his mere presence makes every movie better (in my opinion, at least).


Now for some of the “not so good” things: Buzz Lightyear had nothing to do in this. Neither did Jessie. Both were really wasted in this film (as were all our most beloved original characters other than Woody & Bo Peep, obviously). I know Woody was the focus of this one but that’s always been the case yet other main characters still got some decent screen time in the other movies. I wasn’t all that into the whole Gabby Gabby story, either, as its outcome was so extremely predictable. I also think they haven’t managed to get us to like Bonnie & her family all that much compared to how we feel about Andy & his mother. It just seems like we know Andy far better than we do Bonnie. Oh, and Ducky & Bunny were annoying more often than funny. The only good new addition to this one was Forky. Oh, and Duke Caboom! But that’ll be because I adore Keanu. I’d just rather have spent more time with our favorite characters than with a bunch of new ones. To be fair, a lot of new characters were added to Toy Story 3 as well but they were far stronger than the new additions to this one. I also found that the jokes in this one, for whatever reason, didn’t make me laugh the second time around whereas I still love every funny bit from the other three films. (Well, except for the high-five Combat Carl bit, which cracked me the hell up both times)

Toy Story 4 was okay. At least it’s much better than Monsters University and Finding Dory as far as Pixar sequels go. It just doesn’t have the heart of the first or the third Toy Story or the humor of the second one. People are saying they got emotional all over again with Toy Story 4 but I didn’t feel that way in the slightest. I just about burst into tears at the end of Toy Story 3. Maybe I’m just heartless now? But Inside Out still gets me feeling all emotional every damn time (and I’ve seen that one a lot now), so I think I just have sequel burnout. Enough with the sequels, please! I still love these characters and, yes, I always enjoy seeing them. But I can’t pretend that I didn’t find Toy Story 4 unnecessary.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Parker is recruited by Nick Fury and Mysterio to face elemental threats from another dimension while he is on a school trip to Europe.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short as I hate writing superhero movie reviews since, let’s face it, they’re all the same. I’ve really enjoyed all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but none are ever going to be all-time favorites of mine (well, maybe the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies). The characters are fantastic, though; Better than the movies themselves. This is especially the case with these two Spider-Man movies. Tom Holland is adorable and probably the best live-action Spider-Man we’ve had so I have no complaints when it comes to him or any of the other characters. As always, the characters are strong and the humor is a lot of fun. But I found the stories in both movies a bit average.

For me, I think it didn’t help that this follows Infinity War & Endgame. After that “epic” storyline and seeing all the Avengers working together, it was odd going back to another solo superhero film. Then, of course, we get the usual problem of “Where the hell are all the other superheroes while just one of them is trying to save the world from another threat??” I also just couldn’t get into Jake Gyllenhaal’s character and found this story less believable than in other MCU films (not that any superhero stories are exactly realistic but you know what I mean). I didn’t buy into the story in this one.


Oh well. As I said, the characters are strong and Marvel continues to develop these characters far better than the DC films have managed to do. The Marvel characters really do grow with each new film and it was good to see this again with Holland’s Spider-Man. I also love how Marvel focuses on developing the relationships between the characters: Peter Parker with MJ (they’re so cute together & have great chemistry), with Happy Hogan (this was great – taking Tony’s place as father-figure?), with his best friend, and with Aunt May (how hot is Marisa Tomei?!). As I always say, it’s the characters that are more important to me than the story itself. That’s why I always enjoy the Marvel movies despite the storylines failing to ever fully capture my attention. Far From Home was fun but far from my favorite MCU film (I’ve added it to my full ranked list HERE).

My Rating: 7/10

**I have to add this: I’ve now seen the all-time best Spider-Man movie with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse so it’s going to be harder to fully appreciate the live-action versions. I don’t think Spider-Verse can be topped.

Midsommar (2019) Review

Midsommar (2019)

Directed & Written by Ari Aster

Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter

Music by The Haxan Cloak

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Midsommar follows a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a festival that occurs once every ninety years, only to find themselves in the clutch of a pagan cult.

My Opinion:

First of all, I think I was too hard on Hereditary. I didn’t rate it very highly at the time, mainly because I thought the end of the film was a silly mess. However, it starts out great and has what I think will be one of the most memorable & shocking horror movie moments for years to come. And, of course, Toni Collette’s performance was fantastic. I’m loving seeing some serious modern horror with brilliant performances (also loved Essie Davis in The Babadook). So, while I didn’t love Hereditary overall, there was still a lot that I did like about it and I have much more respect for it than for the countless cliché modern horror films that get made.

The reason I bring up Ari Aster’s first feature film for comparison is because I feel exactly the same way about Midsommar. I respect the film, there are memorable shocking moments and imagery, and Florence Pugh gives a great performance. But, overall, I can’t say that I loved the film and the ending is possibly even more of a mess than Hereditary’s.

If you loved Hereditary, you’ll love Midsommar. The themes are very similar and the movies have clearly been written & directed by the same person. Aster is off to a brilliant start with these films and I think he’ll continue to be highly respected in the horror genre if he manages a third film along the same sort of lines as his first two. They’re certainly not for a mainstream crowd, however, and will always be more for the serious “film” fans (I don’t think the audiences I saw these two movies with enjoyed them very much).

I love divisive films, though, especially in the horror genre. I’ll always have more respect for a movie that says “fuck it” and does its own thing than for the boring & predictable ones that push no boundaries. Hell, I loved Mandy but know it’s sure as shit not for everyone. Aster’s two films are the same way so I can definitely understand why he already has big fans of his work even if I’m not yet sure if I’m a fan or not. I really did want to love both of his films and I kind of did at the start of each one. This is something I always moan about when it comes to horror, though. I swear horror movies rarely know how to end. I find very few horror movies have a satisfying ending and Aster’s two films go off the rails a bit too much for me at the end. But I can say that, based on his previous work, I eagerly await his next movie and fully expect to be equally impressed and exasperated at the same time. And, as always, I’ll prefer impressed exasperation over finding a movie just plain boring. Aster’s films are FAR from boring.

My Rating: 7/10

**I’ve had to think about it & let Midsommar sink in for a few days. I fully expected to far prefer Midsommar to Hereditary. I absolutely love the setting and was very much looking forward to a new The Wicker Man (that movie kicks ass). This film looks great, I loved the imagery, and overall I far preferred the look of it to Hereditary. However, I think Hereditary is the better film. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way as Midsommar is more my type of thing. Both movies are intense and leave you feeling quite emotionally drained but Hereditary has an overwhelming sense of dread and fully captures the feeling of grief a bit more effectively than Midsommar. Again, though, both leading ladies give fantastic performances and help elevate these films to something more than just another basic horror movie.

I should also point out that I’m struggling to find the time to write reviews at the moment and have about ten current releases I’ve just not had the energy to review. But I’ve reviewed Midsommar right away, so I guess that says something about it? I have more to say about something like this than yet another superhero movie or yet another animated sequel…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2019

It’s July! Oops – I’m two months behind on my monthly roundup posts. Oh well, here’s what I watched in May. I saw some great stuff (finally!).

MOVIES IN MAY

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – 7.5/10
Pokémon Detective Pikachu – 5.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

A Matter Of Life And Death – I loved this! Why isn’t this movie more well known?? I decided to check it out when I saw people on Twitter highly recommending it when it was on TV. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis if you’ve not heard of it: “A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.” It’s a 1946 British film starring David Niven and Kim Hunter and it’s pretty damn epic. It reminded me of the great classics such as It’s A Wonderful Life. I loved the Technicolor look of it and the gorgeous elaborate sets (as far as 1946 films go). It also has a Wizard Of Oz vibe with the parts of the film that are set on Earth being in color and those in Heaven being in black & white. Fantastic!


This is also one of those old romantic films where the couple fall in love IMMEDIATELY. Like, they knew each for two whole seconds. Man I love that about old romances, like the super mushy Brief Encounter (which has the best sexual tension EVER). I love old movies and their sexless romance! I also love that everyone in old films looks at least 45. At one point David Niven said his age (27) and I was like “You’re shitting me!” Anyway. This movie was a lovely surprise and I highly recommend it if you like wartime romances and/or unique stories. There’s also some playful “American vs British” stuff that was quite fun and an enjoyable character in a small role as a stereotypical cocky American soldier (he was kind of hot, too). – 8/10

Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – This was great. I’ve been focusing on watching the remainder of the movies for my IMDb Top 250 Project. I prefer to see the original film before a Hollywood remake but didn’t manage that this time. Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is very good and a fairly faithful remake but, as expected, the original is better. I have a lot of IMDb film reviews to catch up on this year so I’ll do a review of this one along with the rest at some point. I highly recommend it if you liked The Departed (and if you’ve not seen The Departed, watch this one first!). – 7.5/10

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – 7.5/10

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner – I’ve been meaning to explore more of Sidney Poitier’s work so have finally managed to watch both this and In The Heat Of The Night, which was one that I chose as a 2019 Blind Spot film. In The Heat Of The Night is a better film but this one is also worth watching, mainly for the great performances (especially Poitier’s & Hepburn’s). I wasn’t crazy about his love interest but I think that’s just because her character was so annoyingly happy. She also just seemed a bit weak in comparison to the heavyweight stars in this one – these are proper ACTORS. The movie is obviously going to seem dated now and people might find it slightly uncomfortable to watch but, hell, I wouldn’t say that the times have changed as much as you’d have expected by now (just over 50 freaking YEARS later!). So I think it’s still a very relevant film & certainly worth a watch to see some classic actors at their usual best. The movie itself could’ve been slightly better – it does drag a little and the “stage play” feeling won’t be for everyone but I’m happy to say I’ve seen another Poitier film and think he’s fantastic. I don’t feel like the stars of today have the same sort of presence as classic stars such as Poitier & Hepburn. I should really watch more old films… – 7/10

Touch Of Evil – This is another IMDb Top 250 film so I’ll review it in full with the rest in a separate post. It was good but not a favorite of mine compared to the others I’ve watched from the Top 250 since starting this blog. – 7/10

The Wild Bunch – This is another Top 250 film as well as one of my 2019 Blind Spot choices so will get a full review later. I have to say that, while it’s a good film, I was a bit disappointed. I’ve watched several Westerns now since starting this blog and far prefer the others I’ve watched, such as Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. – 7/10

In Order Of Disappearance – The is the original Norwegian film of Liam Neeson’s Cold Pursuit (which I’ve not seen but the hubby enjoyed). It’s fine. It’s a decent revenge story and I can certainly see why they remade it with Neeson – it’s SO the type of film he’s typecast in now. To be honest, though, where I’m so behind on writing this I now don’t even remember it all that well. It’s an entertaining crime film but that’s never been a favorite genre of mine and I clearly find the movies in this genre a bit forgettable. – 6.5/10

Snowpiercer – Hmm. After waiting YEARS to finally get the opportunity to see this 2013 film in the U.K. and all the hype surrounding it, I have to say I was pretty disappointed. I was very much looking forward to seeing John Hurt again, though (R.I.P.), and I did love seeing him in this. At least I did have my doubts beforehand as I didn’t really like Bong Joon-ho’s movie Okja. However, I liked his film The Host and loved the crazy ass concept in Snowpiercer so was very interested in seeing it. People live on a motherfucking train that never stops and travels around the entire frozen apocalyptic Earth. That’s nuts. I love a weird ass story. I bet the French graphic novel this is based on, Le Transperceneige, is fun. I hope it’s better than this film, which was hard to fully get into as most of the characters are unlikeable and poorly developed. Strong characters are very important to me and annoying characters do seem to be a problem with Bong Joon-ho’s films that I’ve seen. I also hate over-the-top caricatures and hated Tilda Swinton in both this & Okja. Sorry, Swinton fans! It just threw me out of both movies. Chris Evans is fine but, again, by the end you kind of don’t care about him anymore (I won’t say why). I did, however, like the two characters who also happen to be the only likeable characters from The Host, so that helped the movie a bit and I was fine with how it ended. I’m just disappointed as the story itself had so much potential to be a really kick ass movie but it tries too hard to be weird & quirky and it fails massively in making you give the slightest shit about the characters. Great concept wasted. – 6.5/10

Lu Over The Wall – This was an odd one. First of all, if you want to see a good anime film about a weird fishgirl, do yourself a favor and watch Ponyo. And watch all the other Studio Ghibli movies. And Akira. And Ghost In The Shell. And Wolf Children. And Your Name. I’m no anime expert as I clearly stick to the most mainstream stuff but Lu Over The Wall is the sort of thing you’d watch after checking out more well-known anime first. It’s a cute movie but definitely aimed at a younger audience (maybe 13 and under). The mermaid, Lu, is sweet but a fraction annoying. The story is simple and the characters are likeable enough but slightly dull. I just far prefer the artistic beauty & otherworldliness of Studio Ghibli. The best way to describe it is to say that Lu Over The Wall is the equivalent of a DreamWorks movie in the West: Enjoyable enough for a couple of hours of entertainment but ultimately forgettable. – 6.5/10

Adrift – This was fine. I’d probably have liked it more with a different actress as I find Shailene Woodley annoying. But I’m always intrigued by true stories of people lost at sea (maybe because the thought of being adrift in the middle of the ocean freaks me out). If true story disaster dramas are your thing, this one is worth a watch. It’s exactly what I expected but most movies in this sort of genre are pretty predictable. – 6/10

The Wandering Earth – This Chinese sci-fi film was disappointing but had potential and certainly had plenty of ambition. Here’s the crazy IMDb synopsis: “As the sun is dying out, people all around the world build giant planet thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and sail Earth to a new star system. Yet the 2500-year journey comes with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a wandering Earth fight hard for the survival of humankind.” Hey – it’s no more outrageous than Snowpiercer! I just wish the characters had been stronger, which would have made up for the expected cheesiness of this story. The movie looked very good, which I enjoyed. It’s just a shame that the story is too much like cheesy Western sci-fi (I kept thinking of The Core from 2003). Oh well. It was entertaining enough for a couple of hours and I’m always happy to watch science fiction. – 6/10

King Of Thieves – I found this a bit disappointing as well. Ever since the real life Hatton Garden raid, I’ve been wanting them to make a movie of it starring Michael Caine. Casting that’s predictable as hell, yes, but he had to be in it! No one was more perfect for this role. But, somehow, they managed to make a movie about an amazing heist quite boring. I guess that’s kind of the point, though – these old British dudes managed this huge heist but it won’t have been all sleek & stylish like Ocean’s Eleven. It was a real heist, not a sexy Hollywood heist. I just wanted to like it more and to kind of like the characters, even though they’re criminals. They weren’t well developed and I’m still not exactly sure why they even did this robbery. – 6/10

The Monster – This was fine for a (I’m assuming) low-budget indie “horror”. It’s more of a psychological horror, although you do see the monster (even though it’s symbolic of the mother and her strained relationship with her daughter). If you want a straight-up horror, this one probably won’t be your kind of thing. If you want an indie drama about a mother & daughter with some decent acting (for a “horror” movie), you might like this one. But I gotta admit it’s a little boring & the mother (played by Zoe Kazan) is a little too hateful. – 6/10

Pokémon Detective Pikachu – 5.5/10

The Sentinel (1977) – Ugh. I love 70’s horror so had been meaning to check this out for a while as I’d never seen it. Plus, it has Burgess Meredith in it (love him!). I wasn’t missing much. There was some messy, incoherent story about, I dunno… priests or some shit? It doesn’t matter – the story was stupid. There was some fun weirdness in this, though, and some unnecessary nudity. Maybe that’s why some people remember this fondly; they got to see some boobies and therefore forgot that the overall film was a bit crap.

Oh, we also got to see Beverly D’Angelo playing with herself…

Yeah, that’s ruined National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for me a bit. What’s funny is that, for a crap 70’s horror, this had some very big names in it! Here are some of them: Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, Jerry Orbach, Tom Berenger, and, of course, Beverly D’Angelo masturbating. This movie was a real waste of some big stars. – 5/10

The Funhouse – Not only do I love 70’s horror… I also love cheesy 80’s horror! So this Tobe Hooper movie seemed right up my alley. PLUS it’s set in a carnival and I always love this sort of setting. And a Funhouse! What’s better than a creepy-ass Funhouse?! Well… damn. This movie isn’t exactly the worst 80’s horror I’ve seen since I’ve seen MANY bad ones – It’s just very forgettable. Maybe I hyped it up too much in my mind. Meh. Watch it only if you’re sad like me and feel the urge to watch every movie ever made in my favorite sort of genres… – 5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Don’t have much spare time at the moment so haven’t really been reading. I’m slowly working my way through this book as the movie is coming out in September. It’s good so far – I just wish it was much shorter! I shouldn’t have started such a long novel at the moment…

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Game Of Thrones – In my last Roundup post, I was partway through the final season and didn’t write much as the show was annoying me. I said I’d write more about it when it was finished. I can’t be fucking bothered to write anything now. Kind of like the writers clearly couldn’t be bothered to write the final season of Game Of Thrones… What a massive letdown after this started out as some of the best TV with the best writing in years.

Grey’s Anatomy – Ha. Whatever. Fuck this show. I only continue to watch it since I have to now that it’s been on so damn long. Come to think of it, I can’t even remember what the hell happened this season. What was the usual cliffhanger? Wow. I honestly can’t remember. That’s bad.

Well, it’s July now and I’ve watched the first two episodes of season 3 of Stranger Things. Am hoping it’ll be better than Season 2.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

My plan is to hopefully catch up on reviewing current films. I’ve just watched Spider-Man: Far From Home & I’m posting a review of Midsommar tomorrow.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

As I’m so far behind on this post, I’ve already seen all that I could have of June’s cinema releases. So here’s a quick list of the 2019 movies I saw in June (and which I’ll also try to review at some point):

Toy Story 4 – 8/10
Yesterday – 7.5/10
Rocketman – 7.5/10
Ma – 7/10
Child’s Play (2019) – 6.5/10
Booksmart – 7/10
Wine Country – 6.5/10
Brightburn – 6.5/10
Boogaloo Shrimp Documentary – 6.5/10
Murder Mystery – 5.5/10

There was no memorable music in the movies I watched in May so let’s just watch this video of Keanu Reeves with puppies.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) Review

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Directed by Rob Letterman

Based on Detective Pikachu by The Pokémon Company

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.

My Opinion:

Oh man. When did this come out? A few weeks ago? I already barely remember it so am not sure what to say. The main thing to say is this: This movie is for Pokémon fans and Pokémon fans ONLY. The movie will gain no new fans. It’s not a very good film. If you absolutely love Pokémon, you’ll probably get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing so many of the characters. If you know nothing whatsoever about Pokémon, watching this will be a complete waste of your time.

Let’s see… What do I know about Pokémon?! Not much. I’m old so it’s not from my era. However, I have a young kid who was the right sort of age when Pokémon Go became a thing so she was a fan for a brief amount of time. Okay, I admit that I got into it a bit too. Okay, okay… I admit that I still have the app, although it doesn’t get opened all that often. Annnnnd…. okay, maaaaaaaybe I was the one who kind of pushed the kid into going to this film with me as she has sadly outgrown stuff like this. What can I say? I like Ryan Reynolds but I love Pikachu. Pikachu is adorable. Screw all those other weird-ass looking Pokémon! Pikachu is a great character. This is why there’s an entire damn annual festival dedicated to Pikachu in Japan. Not gonna lie – that looks adorably fun.

Um. This movie. Yeah. It’s a weird one. It’s sort of aimed at the original now twenty-something (or would they be 30?!) fans but is also very much a “kiddie” film. It’s too silly to be fully embraced by those who aren’t hardcore fans. I think my daughter was mostly bored. I could tell she was thinking “I’m too old for this shit!”.

I have almost no knowledge of Pokémon beyond playing the app sometimes so I know this movie isn’t aimed at casual or non-fans anyway. Pikachu talking is strange. The boy, Justice Smith, is perfectly fine but the love interest, Kathryn Newton, is annoying. Why am I still talking about this movie?! There’s nothing really wrong with it and I didn’t hate it (I enjoyed it more than my kid!). It was just a bit boring. Pikachu is still adorable, though. I guess it’s just a shame that the film couldn’t have been aimed at somehow attracting new fans while still keeping the original fans happy, but I’m sure that’s a hard balance to achieve.

My Rating: 5.5/10

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) Review

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Directed by Chad Stahelski

Based on Characters by Derek Kolstad

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere.

My Opinion:

Oops. I just realized it’s been 2 weeks since I saw this movie and I’ve not yet “reviewed” it. I’m struggling to find the time these days but I like to at least say a little something about the cinema releases that I see. Oh crap… I’ve not yet reviewed Detective Pikachu either! Ha! Maybe I’ll do that next. I’d rather talk about Keanu.

Keanu Reeves. I love him. Who doesn’t?! Anything you ever read about the guy is positive. He’s one of the very few truly likable movie stars. I sometimes feel a bit annoyed at everyone jumping on the Keanu bandwagon. He’s a star from my generation, dammit! Us Gen-Xers have always known he’s awesome. Point Break and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure kick ASS. Even more so than John Wick. I of course did My Top Ten Keanu Reeves Movies HERE. I was maybe a bit rough on John Wick, which I haven’t ranked very high but that’s mainly because Reeves has just been in a lot of really good films. It’s a very solid Top Ten. He deserves more credit!

I’ve enjoyed the John Wick series and think the franchise, as a whole, has gotten better with each film as we get to know these characters a bit more each time. He’s a great character but I think that’s honestly thanks to Keanu, who gives Wick a humble vulnerability that I don’t think most of the bigger name action stars could manage. I can’t see a different actor in this role. I also love the world that these films have created. This secret assassin underground with their fancy hotels and strict rules is cool as shit. Parabellum is also probably the most stylish one yet with a fantastically over-the-top setting for the film’s final battles. All that glass! Hilarious. It was so obvious they were going to smash the shit out of that place. These movies truly are ridiculous but that’s what makes them fun. John Wick isn’t exactly trying to win any Oscars.

I will say that the violence in these films is a bit too much for me personally. I’m not anti-violence in movies but I’m a total wuss and had to look away so often that I probably missed half of this one. It’s the whole point of these movies, though, so it’s not an actual complaint – it just helps keep the John Wick movies from ever being absolute favorites of mine. Point Break is more my speed. Ha! SPEED! Yeah, Speed is more my Speed too. I’ll just always find it funny how desensitised the world is to violence. This is rated 15 in the U.K.! How is it not an 18? It’s excessively violent. Yet a tiny bit of sex, swearing, and a naked boob will get an instant 18. “Oh my god, a nipple! That’ll have to be rated R!”. The world is so fucked up.

My only complaint about this one is the ending. So, this might be a SLIGHT SPOILER (but not really as John Wick 4 has already been announced): The cliffhanger ending and obvious setup for the sequel annoyed me. This series would’ve been PERFECT as a trilogy. Had there been a proper ending with some sort of closure for our dog-avenging assassin hero, I’d rate this film and well as the series as a whole much more highly. I miss the days of a good, solid trilogy. I’m sick of this trend of never-ending sequels. It lessens the impact of the movies as the sequels often get worse and more desperate. Know when to stop, Hollywood! I’m also still thoroughly annoyed that another Toy Story is coming out and I absolutely love Pixar and watch everything they make. But that trilogy was perfection. So I can’t bring myself to give John Wick 3 any higher than 7.5/10, which is what I gave the previous two films. Had Parabellum given us (as well as Wick’s character) a well-deserved finish, I’d go back and give all three films a higher rating. After these three movies, which have gotten a little more “enjoyable” each time as they go more & more over-the-top (in a fun way), I now have to say that I think the first one is the best as I liked its simplicity. I’m sure I’ll begrudgingly watch John Wick 4 as well as Toy Story 4 but they’ll both have to do something seriously amazing to impress me. I have very low expectations for them.

Keanu Reeves is fantastic, though. He IS John Wick. He’s perfect for this role and 100% the reason why I continue to watch these films. He deserves way more credit for bringing this character to life as I honestly think this series would be a bit dull and far less loved with a different actor.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Oh, I loved Anjelica Huston & Halle Berry in this too. Forgot to mention that!

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2019

Happy (middle of) May, everyone! Why is it still cold?! Here’s what I watched and partially read in April…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Avengers: Endgame – 8/10
Dumbo – 7/10
Shazam! – 7/10
Pet Sematary – 7/10
Greta – 6.5/10
Unicorn Store – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Avengers: Endgame – 8/10

Wind River – This was really good. This was directed & written by Taylor Sheridan, who also wrote the brilliant Sicario and Hell Or High Water. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “A veteran hunter helps an FBI agent investigate the murder of a young woman on a Wyoming Native American reservation.” As someone who isn’t normally a fan of “crime dramas”, I loved all three of these films. I think this is probably thanks to Sheridan’s writing as the characters are so strong and so real. You can feel the grief of the parents of the murdered girl and the conversations, especially between Renner’s character & the murdered girl’s father, come across as very genuine. I often find that movie dialogue feels phoney so I love that Sheridan’s characters in these three films feel so natural & are so well-developed. And, yeah, it was kind of fun seeing Hawkeye & Scarlet Witch together in this. I highly recommend this movie if you like a serious crime drama that takes its time focusing on the characters, which is always important to me. If you liked either of the other two Sheridan films I mentioned, you should like Wind River too. – 7.5/10


The Hunt (Jagten) – Finally got around to watching this as I wanted to see Mads Mikkelsen‘s performance plus the film was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar and is in the IMDb Top 250. It’s not a topic I’m comfortable with but it was handled well & Mikkelsen was fantastic. It takes place in a small community and focuses on how a little lie/misunderstanding goes too far & completely destroys Mikkelsen’s life. It’s a good film with great performances and I’d recommend it but you have to be in the mood for a serious drama. – 7.5/10


Cold War – This was a very good but not a great film. I was hoping for a bit more when people raved about this last year (it was up for the Best Foreign Film Oscar along with Roma & Shoplifters (which is the one I want to see the most). Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “In the 1950s, a music director falls in love with a singer and tries to persuade her to flee communist Poland for France.” I did enjoy the story and the look of the film plus I love when a storyline spans so many years (especially when it involves lovers separated & reunited over those years). I think the biggest problem for me was that, unfortunately, I didn’t like the female character. She was very hard to like and I didn’t understand why she did what she did (I’ll leave it at that as I’m obviously avoiding spoilers). I at first liked how headstrong she was but it was frustrating as her personality caused so much pain by the end. It was still a good film and I did like the male lead – I was just hoping to like them both and to want them together. Oh well – At least Cold War was much better than that snoozefest winner Roma… – 7/10

Dumbo – 7/10

Shazam! – 7/10

Pet Sematary – 7/10

Greta – 6.5/10


Repulsion – This film deserves to be higher on the list. It’s artsy fartsy & “worthy” but I can’t say I exactly enjoyed it. However, Catherine Deneuve was very good & it’s worth watching for her performance. I decided to watch this Roman Polanski film after liking Deneuve in a somewhat similar role in Belle de Jour. I haven’t seen her in much – I don’t know why she played a sexually repressed woman in both of these but she handles this type of character well. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis if you don’t know anything about Repulsion: “A sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister’s boyfriend sinks into depression and has horrific visions of rape and violence.” Obviously, having come out in 1965, it seems tame now but I would imagine this was a very shocking film at the time. The pacing is very slow & it does take a long time before much of anything happens, so bear that in mind if you choose to watch it. I have to say I preferred Belle de Jour. I was hoping this would be much weirder, based on that image I used at the top of this post of Deneuve in the hallway with all the hands coming out of the walls. It’s not, though – it’s a pretty straightforward story of a woman who may have experienced sexual abuse in the past (I think this is implied), which eventually drives her insane. Deneuve is great in these films, though, and I’d watch her in other movies based on what I’ve seen so far. – 7/10

Unicorn Store – 6.5/10


Eddie The Eagle – This was fine. It’s a pretty typical British feel-good family movie. I didn’t know a thing about the real life guy or his story so I found it interesting. He was certainly a character. The film itself is just okay, though. Yeah, it’s a little cheesy and I’d say the performances are a bit phoned-in but, hell, who cares? It’s a nice story and we could use more nice stories nowadays. If you liked Cool Runnings, it’s very likely you’d enjoy this one as well. And the final half hour makes up for the film being somewhat slow to get going. – 6/10


Black Snake Moan – I’ve been on a Samuel L. Jackson kick lately. Love him! So I figured I’d finally check this one out. Well, this was an odd one. And, man, I didn’t think I’d ever see Christina Ricci naked, which was disturbing as she’ll always be a little kid to me (despite not being TOO much younger than me). I’m not sure what to say about this film. At least it wasn’t boring? It was hard to like the characters to begin with but Jackson’s & even Ricci’s do grow on you, especially as you get to know why Ricci’s is as messed-up as she is. I liked the strange friendship between these two and you do want everyone to find happiness at the end. Also, the music was really good. Was that Jackson really singing?! That was a treat. Overall, I did like the film and enjoyed that it was so “different”. But I can’t say it’s one I’d have the desire to watch a second time. – 6/10


Must Love Dogs – This was dull. A lifeless & predictable rom-com. To be fair, this isn’t exactly a favorite genre of mine so I may not be the best judge. I tend to watch movies like these if I like the stars and I love both Diane Lane & John Cusack, although I’ve gone off of him slightly in recent years. I think I’ll always just see him as perfect boyfriend Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything. Anyway. Hmm. What can I say? The story goes exactly as you’d expect. What was disappointing was that Lane & Cusack had ZERO chemistry. Think this was more Cusack’s fault as he seemed bored while Lane was as charming as she usually is, even though she’s seriously typecast in this genre. Oh! And there weren’t enough dogs. Must Love DOGS. Where were the loads of cute fucking dogs?! False advertising! Meh. Whatever. I’ll forget this movie in a year. Oh – Stockard Channing was quite enjoyable in this, though. – 5.5/10


Suspiria (2018) – What. The. Actual. Fuck. Okay, I admit I’ve only seen the original Suspiria once and don’t remember much other than the Goblin score, which I fricking love and listen to regularly. I know I liked the overall vibe. I really should watch the film again. Italian horror is one of the very few genres I’ve not yet really explored. This remake is an incoherent mess. It’s laughable, especially in the final half hour. At least I was “rewarded” with a good laugh over the ending’s absolute ridiculousness after suffering through this otherwise boring thing for HOURS (2 hours & 32 fucking minutes!!!).

Why do they keep remaking films that are considered classics?! WHY?!? I don’t get it. I understand that there are fans of the giallo horror thing but don’t understand why, if people want a 2018 giallo movie, filmmakers can’t just make an original film with the same characteristics???? I’d totally watch that. Why shit on a classic’s legacy? I think this was also disappointing as the trailer and especially the poster (which is great!) almost made this look promising despite it starring Dakota Johnson. As much as remakes & reboots piss me off, I admit that they occasionally work and have even liked a few. I’m a fan of 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead even though the 1978 film is one of my all-time favorite movies, probably because it wasn’t a straight remake but more of a respectful & enjoyable reimagining. It almost felt as if 2018 Suspiria had zero regard for what made the original such a beloved classic for many horror fans.

I’ve read no reviews of this version but am *assuming* that those who love the original hated this and those who loved this hated or probably didn’t even see the original. I’d like to hear from anyone who loves both versions of Suspiria – I’d love to know the reasons why. I saw so many people on Horror Twitter raving about this remake so I’m actually quite confused as I thought it was a dreadful mess. Give me Mandy instead of 2018 Suspiria! It’s hard to not compare the two as they’re both pretentious artsy horror films that came out the same year and are both extremely divisive. Mandy is weird as hell but has originality and style. Suspiria tries too hard and just comes across as desperate and phoney.

I should say something nice… Um. I think Thom Yorke was a great choice to do the music for this and was one of the reasons I wanted to watch the film. The music starts out promising in the very beginning but then I no longer noticed it. I don’t know if there was less music in the second half or if I just no longer noticed it as I slowly lost the will to live. But nothing will EVER beat the original’s Goblin score anyway so why bother. – 4.5/10


The Grand Budapest Hotel – This is an IMDb Top 250 film so I might review it at some point with the others I’ve watched this year. I hated it. I got sick of people telling me I should watch it so I finally did. Just trust me when I say I hate Wes Anderson films! 😉 – 5/10


Barely Lethal – Like Black Snake Moan, I mainly watched this because of Samuel L. Jackson. Also, the IMDb plot synopsis sounds quite fun: “A teenage special ops agent coveting a “normal” adolescence fakes her own death and enrolls in a suburban high school. She quickly learns that surviving the treacherous waters of high school is more challenging than international espionage.” See? That sounds like a great setup! Unfortunately, the movie is a bore. It could’ve been a great teen flick with dark humor but it’s unfunny with underdeveloped characters you don’t give a shit about. Whatever. I have no energy left to write about this and the next two films after my lengthy Suspiria rant. Let’s just say that it’s pretty bad that I have several films ranked BELOW Suspiria. At least parts of Suspiria were memorable. There! I said another nice thing about Suspiria! I’ve just said the word Suspiria way too many times. Anyway – I always prefer memorable, even when I hate a film, to one that’s just plain dull. – 5/10


The Spy Who Dumped Me – Ugh. Not sure why I watched this as I hate the majority of modern comedies. I like the two actresses, though, and often find Kate McKinnon funny so gave it a chance. She’s funny at times but the film is so fucking bad that it didn’t matter. What a waste of time. Maybe I need a new hobby. – 4/10


Baywatch – Good Lord. I can’t do this. I’m too tired for another rant. This is quite possibly the biggest pile of shit I’ve seen since Jennifer’s Body. It may even be worse than Jug Face. I’ve never seen a less funny “comedy”. I think I need to stop watching movies. Maybe I’ll become a food blog. I hate cooking and I hate food but I hate that shit like this gets made and widely distributed while indie & foreign films with rave reviews that I desperately want to see don’t show anywhere near me and often don’t show up on any of the many services I can’t afford but pay for anyway just to stand a chance of seeing ONE decent fucking film once in a blue moon!!!! – 2/10

Re-Watched:

Save The Last Dance – I love that the kid is getting older and liking more films such as Save The Last Dance. We’ll be onto teen movies before too long. Can’t wait to start on the introduction of John Hughes movies! Okay – she’ll probably hate those since most teens seem to hate those these days. Oh well. I enjoyed watching Save The Last Dance again as I’d not seen it in years. It’s not my era (I’m clearly an 80s/early 90s teen) but it’s an enjoyable teen dance flick (the kid loves Honey as well). It’s a bit dated & cheesy but I’m sure it’s a favorite for many girls who were teenagers in 2001. I kind of miss the teen dance flick genre… – 6.5/10

Fell Asleep During:

Dog Days – I think I need a new section for “Movies I can’t review because I slept through them“. This happens a lot. I’m old and I’m tired. I slept off and on through Dog Days. It seemed to be a perfectly fine, bland, wholesome family film. Needed more dogs. I might have stayed awake for a load of cute puppies. But at least it had way more dogs than Must Love Dogs!!!! I didn’t feel as cheated by a misleading title this time.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Been too busy so haven’t been reading as much. Have started The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub. Really good so far! Not sure why I never read this King novel as I try to read everything he writes…

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Game Of Thrones – *Sigh*

This post is so damn long. I’m tired. I don’t have the energy to get into what a massive disappointment the final season of Game Of Thrones has been so far. I’m writing this after seeing the first four episodes of the final season so a lot has happened but it all feels very rushed. It feels like the writers said “Let’s just get this fucking thing over with”. Screw it – I’ll wait & maybe write more in next month’s post after the series has finished. Maybe the final episodes will turn everything around & make this show good again.

Tales Of The Unexpected – Just after moving to the UK, I discovered Tales Of The Unexpected. As my favorite TV show EVER is The Twilight Zone, imagine my delight to discover a British show with similar weird stories & good twists. Years ago they did a marathon of these shows on New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day & I spent hours watching them. Do I know how to party or WHAT?! My all-nighters tend to involve watching weird shit. Anyway – I noticed this was on Now TV so I’ve been watching these episodes off & on again. They’re good to stick on while using the exercise bike. I still love the show. Good job, Roald Dahl! Here’s the IMDb link to Tales Of The Unexpected for any Americans who may not know what the hell I’m talking about…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans! Too busy. As always, I’ll try to review what I see in the cinema.

May Movie Releases I Might Watch:

The Curse Of La Llorona – Will wait for Netflix like I do with most shitty horror. I watch too much shitty horror.

Long Shot – Looks like a decent enough but probably predictable Seth Rogen rom-com. Might try to check it out (after payday – I’m broke!).

Tolkien – Am interested in this as love Tolkien’s writing but will wait for Netflix. I’m not that into biographies.

Vox Lux – Liked the sound of this Natalie Portman movie but reviews aren’t great. Damn. Will skip for now. As I said, I’m broke!

A Dog’s Journey – I actually liked A Dog’s Purpose quite a bit (and it had lots of DOGS in it!!!) so I do want to see this sequel.

High Life – Like Mandy & Suspiria, this sounds like another extremely divisive, artsy fartsy, highly pretentious film. PLUS it’s sci-fi, my favorite genre?! This is SO the type of thing I’ll watch and either love to death or hate with the same passion as Suspiria. Can’t wait!!!

Pokémon Detective Pikachu – Saw this already. It’s, um… Well, it’s a Pokémon movie. I think you need to be a serious Pokémon fan to truly like this one. I fully admit to loving Pikachu, though. Pikachu is adorable and a great character.

The Hustle – Nah. Fuck this. I’ve been burned by too many shitty comedies. I may never watch another modern “comedy” thanks to Baywatch.

Destination WeddingKeanu Reeves & Winona Ryder!!! You’d have to pay me to NOT watch this.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – Keanu Reeves again!!! Love him so will of course watch this, despite these films not actually being favorites of mine. Oh that adorable dog from the first one!!!! I might cry now. Why have I mentioned dogs so much in this post?! I don’t even have a dog. I want a John Wick beagle…

Aladdin – No. Fuck off with these live-action Disney remakes. I said Dumbo would be my last one & meant it. And this one looks awful from the trailer! Looks like a low budget straight-to-DVD mess.

Rocketman – Yep. Will check this one out as I love a music biopic, even when I don’t necessarily love the artist. Would anyone admit to liking Elton John’s music?? It’s old fart music (I can say that since I’m an old fart). I think his life story will be fascinating, though.

Booksmart – This sounds like it could be a fun teen flick.

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters – Have there been trailers for this?? I’m very out of the loop at the moment. Hope this is a kick-ass blockbuster.

Ma – This could be fun or utterly ridiculous. Will wait for reviews.

Here’s the brilliant Goblin theme music from the only version of Suspiria that should be watched…

My Top Ten Dwayne Johnson Movies

Happy Birthday To Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock), who turns 47 today.

I have to admit that I’m only a recent fan of The Rock. I don’t watch wrestling so didn’t really notice him until he became a big blockbuster movie star (I’m not talking about shit like Tooth Fairy). Also, he seems so sweet & likable on Twitter, etc. I like an actor who doesn’t seem like a dick in real life! Mostly, though, I’ve become a bit of a fan thanks to my daughter. She loves The Rock! Which means I’ve seen a lot of his movies that I otherwise may not have bothered to watch. I think it’s adorable that she likes him. Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger for my generation, The Rock is the big action star for her generation.

There’s still a lot I haven’t seen, though, as he’s done so many of the types of movies that aren’t really my thing (Fast & Furious, etc). I’ve listed all I’ve not seen at the end. So, at the moment, my “Top Ten” is a cheat as I’ve only seen nine. Oh well. I can add to this list later. I’ll definitely be watching the next Jumanji movie (loved the last one).

So for now, these are My Top Ten (nine…) Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Movies, counting down to my favorite:

9. Baywatch (Good god this was horrible! You know it’s bad when it’s lower than Tooth Fairy. And, no – the kid hasn’t seen this one.)

8. Tooth Fairy

7. Race To Witch Mountain

6. San Andreas

5. Rampage

4. Skyscraper

3. Fighting With My Family

2. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

1. Moana

Movies I’ve Not Yet Seen:
Longshot, The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King, Welcome To The Jungle, Walking Tall, Doom, Be Cool, Gridiron Gang, Southland Tales, The Game Plan, Get Smart, Planet 51, Why Did I Get Married Too?, The Other Guys, Faster, Fast & Furious 5 & 6 & 7 & 8, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Empire State, Pain & Gain, Snitch, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Hercules, Jem And The Holograms, Central Intelligence

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Produced by Kevin Feige

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin

Music by Alan Silvestri

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

My Opinion:

22 movies! I can’t believe I’ve seen all of these. It’s certainly the most films I’ve ever watched in a series. I thoroughly enjoyed each & every one of these MCU films (certainly much more than the dreary DC movies, although they’ve gotten better in the past few years). However, I’m not a huge comic book/superhero movie fan so I won’t pretend that these movies mean as much to me as they do to the hardcore fans. I see them as escapist entertainment. They’re fun popcorn movies. But I can absolutely understand the love for the MCU and think they did a brilliant job setting up so many strong, likeable, and well-developed characters. The films are good (and several are very good) but the characters are great. I can see how fans will feel as strongly about these characters as I do about the characters in Star Wars. They feel like family in a weird sort of way. And Avengers: Endgame provided a fitting end(?) to just over a decade of watching these beloved characters grow & come together as a team.

Avengers: Endgame isn’t a perfect film, though, and I can’t even say it’s going to be an absolute favorite MCU movie for me personally. I do think it’s one that may go up in my estimation over time and it in no way hurts the overall legacy but my initial reaction is that I far preferred Infinity War. That ending had balls. To be honest, I kind of wanted that to be the actual end to the whole MCU (that would be a bit dark, I suppose – this isn’t DC!). But Endgame certainly will have been an emotional rollercoaster for diehard fans so I can appreciate that it will be higher on their lists. I expect to feel the same sort of emotions when watching The Rise Of Skywalker.

I just felt that Endgame took the easy way out with some of its characters. I’m obviously trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll just say that, if this is indeed the last time we’re going to see some of these characters, a few had very satisfying “endings” but I was disappointed with the direction they took for a couple of them. Overall, the movie was more predictable than I was hoping. I wanted more surprises but only got a few small ones. I even managed to successfully avoid ALL spoilers for two entire days so was disappointed to get so few surprises.

I’ll keep this short so I don’t accidentally spoil anything. I struggle with reviews for these films as I do feel like they’re the same formula over & over again and Endgame really isn’t any different from what we’ve seen before besides obviously needing & having a darker tone. Luckily, there are still a few funny moments too. The reason I far prefer Marvel to DC is because they get the right amount of genuinely funny humor mixed in with even the most serious films in the series. I’ve ranked all 22 MCU movies HERE, including Endgame. Maybe Endgame will move up in the future but, from my list, it’ll be clear that I prefer the lighthearted & funny superheroes. It’s Guardians Of The Galaxy for me. And, as Thor is my favorite character overall, I think the best decision Marvel made was to make his originally boring (but hot) character funny. Hemsworth is hilarious. I know that not all will agree with the “funny superhero” thing but I absolutely loved the comic relief provided by Thor & Ant-Man in Endgame. It was needed so that it didn’t turn into DC dreariness. But, as I said, I love that Marvel gets the right balance and the serious nature of this storyline was handled very well. To have such a strong mix of characters with very different personalities is what makes the MCU so enjoyable. There’s something for everyone across these 22 films. To make these many films in just over a decade and to bring all these characters together is a hell of a feat. This may not be my favorite Marvel film but I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My Rating: 8/10

Greta (2018) Review

Greta (2018)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Greta follows a young woman as she befriends a lonely widow who becomes disturbingly obsessed with her.

My Opinion:

I recently re-watched the delightfully “so bad it’s good” Single White Female while stuck in a hotel & mentioned in my review (HERE) that we don’t get enough of those cheesy psychological thrillers anymore that were so common in the 80s & 90s. Thank you, Greta! This is exactly the type of cheesy thriller that I was talking about. Is it a good film? Oh hell no! Is it a fun film? Oh hell yes!

First of all, we have the sexy Isabelle Huppert playing one of my favorite types of characters: A Batshit Crazy Lady. Fuck it. I’m a lady (well, a female). I’m not offended by women so often being portrayed as unhinged in movies. In fact, I did a list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies HERE. These movies are meant to be over-the-top fun. Unfortunately, Huppert wasn’t as batshit as I was hoping. She’s a psycho, yes, but can’t really compare with people like Carrie’s mother in Carrie (I love Piper Laurie in that). She’s clearly having fun with the role, though. I’ve been wanting to explore more of her work since developing a slight girl crush on her after seeing Elle. She’s certainly the one who made me choose to go to this instead of waiting for Netflix, although I don’t mind Chloë Grace Moretz. I also like Maika Monroe as an actress but Huppert is the true star of this film. She has a presence that the two younger actresses lack.

Speaking of Chloë Grace Moretz (and Maika Monroe, who plays her best friend & roommate): I love how many things these two fuck up. Love it! I love how the people being terrorized in these types of movies do so many thoroughly predictable & ridiculous things. There are so many overused tropes in this film! That’s normally something that annoys me, especially in horror films, but it’s what I actually WANT to see in a cheesy psychological thriller. The more clichés the better for this genre! It actually made me smile when Moretz did stupid shit. And the “making cookies” scene was awesome. God Moretz was an idiot following that bit. To do something so cool and then to be so dumb… She really is the Bridget Fonda character from Single White Female. Those two naive morons would get along great. And that ending that we ALL saw coming from a mile away! Hilarious. So bad. So goodbad.


Well. That’s it. What else can I say? This movie was exactly what I was hoping it would be: Cheesy & cliché with predictable idiots, a predictable crazy lady, and overacting without being really bad overacting that throws you out of the film. Greta is not a great film. Thank god! I don’t want Oscar-worthiness ruining a perfectly good cheesy thriller with a batshit crazy lady.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Single White Female still wins, though. High heel scene beats cookie-making scene…