Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2022

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

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

Here’s all I watched & read in April…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched In April:

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

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

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

Documentaries, Shorts, Miscellaneous:

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TV Specials:

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

TV Specials Rewatched:

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Currently reading Malorie by Josh Malerman

MUSIC LISTENED TO

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2022

Hi All. Hope everyone is well. I’ve not been around as things are bad at the moment.

But I do miss the blogs & have still been watching stuff (more TV shows than movies but still some movies). So I’m keeping logs of what I watch in Drafts & try to write short reviews when I feel up to it. This post is complete now so here’s what I watched in January…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):

Vivarium – Wow, this was pretty fucking weird. So, since I love weird, I really enjoyed it. And, like most weird movies, I’d be very hesitant to actually recommend it to anyone as they’d hate it & probably think I was a weirdo. Which I am but, you know, I try to hide that in real life… Well, I wrote enough about this one that I posted a full review at the link yesterday. It’s eerie & had a very Twilight Zone vibe, which is totally my type of thing. Glad I finally got the chance to see this bizarre film about a couple stranded in a strange neighborhood filled with empty identical houses and one creepy-ass kid. Imogen POOTS! Why do I always watch all her movies? – 7.5/10

Dave Made A Maze – Another weird film that I also, of course, enjoyed. I’m a creep! I’m a weeeeeiiiiiiirdooooooo! Like Vivarium, I loved the concept. This artist dude builds a maze of cardboard boxes & gets lost and trapped inside it as it grows & takes on a life of its own. His girlfriend enlists the help of some of their friends to go in after him but they of course end up trapped too. I reviewed this in full as well in the same post as Vivarium. It’s a fun film with a mix of genres (fantasy, adventure, comedy & horror according to Wikipedia). – 7/10

The Father – This movie now beats Primer to win the “movie I fell asleep to the most while watching and had to rewind multiple times” award. Yes, Anthony Hopkins was good in this & deserving of his Oscar win playing a man with dementia. I gotta say that I found the movie a bit boring, though. Sorry! But I admit I’ve never been big on serious dramas. Give me sci-fi & horror & weird shit! Good performances all around, though, and I think the movie did well in portraying from the perspective of Hopkins’s (Hopkins’? Hopkin’s? Hopkinses?! Hate when names end with S!) character how confusing & scary it must be to have dementia.

Worth watching for the performances if that’s your sort of thing. You can also tell the movie is adapted from a play & that sort of format in a film isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea (I don’t mind that, though). Oh! And I had no idea beforehand that Imogen Poots was in this movie as well. That’s two Poots movies I watched in January. *Poots!* – 7/10

Movies Rewatched:

The Terminator – Rewatched this big favorite of mine & still adore it. Still have a massive crush on Kyle Reese, too. Hubba hubba! Why didn’t some hot guy ever travel through time to save ME?? Love the story & am a big fan of sci-fi but this one is also really helped by the brilliant & iconic design of the Terminator and a kick-ass score. Da Da DAA Da DAA! Remember when movie music was awesome? Why can’t they make sci-fi action films like this anymore? – 9/10

Fanboys – A fun film about a bunch of massive Star Wars nerds who plan to break into Skywalker Ranch so their dying friend can see The Phantom Menace before it comes out. Too bad it must have been a big disappointment to see that! But I’m personally starting to wish the Sequel Trilogy didn’t exist instead… – 6/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Room 237 – Been wanting to watch this documentary for ages as I’m a big fan of The Shining. It has interviews with various people who have different interpretations of the film and what they see as hidden meanings, etc. It was an entertaining watch and some of the theories were fun but the majority sounded like absolute bullshit to me. And, sorry, but that poster on the wall is NOT a f*^king Minotaur!

One guy also played the film forward & backward at the same time & found that certain images matched up really well (like the one of Wendy & the twins above and Jack & the dead twins at the very top of this post). Again I call bullshit! The Shining is one of THE most visually iconic films ever made so you’re gonna get some cool images matching up.

Well, it was still a fun documentary and I’ll always love hearing people talk about my favorite films. But some people have way too much time on their hands. I have no intention of watching movies forward & backward at the same time now. (But I did fall for the Wizard Of Oz/Dark Side Of The Moon thing, which was actually kind of awesome but also just a cool coincidence) – 7/10

Janet Jackson. – Not sure why I don’t watch more documentaries about people but saw this one being discussed on Twitter so gave it a shot as the Jacksons are such a massively talented & fascinating family. Being the age I am, I was of course a big fan of Michael Jackson. Whether a fan or not you can’t deny that talent and so many amazing pop songs from both his solo days and his younger years with his brothers.

I liked Janet’s music as well but she came along a bit later and I only bought the Control album before moving into my heavy metal high school days (great album). But, damn, she really did have loads of great songs & doesn’t get the credit she deserves. I’m in the “Janet got completely fucked over” camp. Her career was destroyed over a tiny flash of tit? Nipplegate? You couldn’t really even see the nipple! We see & hear FAR worse from celebrities now so why does it feel like she’s still being punished? Plus no one else involved in the incident had their careers ruined so, again, punish only the woman of course. I do think the “incident” was on purpose, yes, but so what? Get over it. One thing I really don’t miss about my country of birth is the ridiculous anger over a woman’s nipple but not over a bunch of kids being shot up on a daily basis in school.

Rant over! I thought this was a good documentary. I think it’s one where, I assume, the one making it is someone she trusts (and maybe a friend – I dunno – I’m too lazy to look into it) so it portrays Janet in a really good light. So whether it’s a completely accurate portrayal I can’t say but she came across as being very down-to-Earth & seemed at peace now which is good if that’s the case as she’s had a tough life. I’m not one to worship celebs & find most of them annoying but do think some are treated very horribly by the press, society, etc. They may have money and seem to have far better lives than the rest of us but still deserve to be treated like humans & the Jacksons had to deal with a lot more shit than most celebs. The documentary did cover a lot of her early years so we heard plenty about her family & what it was like growing up with them plus we got to see their childhood home so I really enjoyed that part of it. But it was great to then learn much more about Janet’s later life as I didn’t know much of that. Oh – and she deserved better men who would have treated her better! Hope she’s happy in that department now.

Justice for Janet! I’m going to put a bunch of her stuff on my playlist now. Not sure why I haven’t listened to her songs in so long (to be fair, stuff like Black Sabbath is more my thing these days but I still like plenty of pop too – especially from my beloved ’80s). They really did seem to stop playing her stuff on the radio after Nipplegate, whereas you still hear Michael all the time. What’s up with that?! It was only a (pretty much entirely covered) nipple, people! Sheesh. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, OTHER THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Yellowjackets: S1 E8-10 – Love this show so far! I don’t think it’s some amazing show or something & am sure some people wouldn’t like it at all but, being a Gen X girl, it feels aimed directly at me. Well, maybe me plus current late-teen girls. There aren’t enough things aimed at me these days, dammit. Well, I think I said this in my last post but they’re totally lying about Juliette Lewis’s age because, like me, she was NOT still in high school in 1996. So this would be cooler if set in 1986 instead of 1996 but, hey, I was still young in the ’90s so I still have fond memories of those days too.

I of course love the “old broads” in the current day scenes. I especially like Lewis as a crazy badass as usual, Melanie Lynskey as the mysterious main character, and Christina Ricci playing a very fun & unhinged character (who in real life is seven years younger than Lewis, by the way, so they wouldn’t have been in high school together. Why am I so hung up on this?! I dunno – I suppose because I grew up seeing them in stuff!). I do also love “flashback” stories as it feels like you’re getting two stories for the price of one and the 1996 flashbacks showing them as teens after the plane crash are great & I wish they’d hurry that storyline up as I want to see them turn into cannibalistic psychos! The friendship between Shauna & Jackie has been fun to watch and the teenage & adult versions of Taissa are quite intriguing. I’m annoyed we’re only, what, a few months into what happened after the plane crash, though?? Bring on Season 2!

The Book Of Boba Fett: S1 E2-5 – I’m writing this in mid-February after seeing all of this show now so have to remind myself to talk about only the first five episodes I saw in January. Hmm. Okay – in January I wasn’t very impressed with The Book Of Boba Fett, which was a bit heartbreaking after thinking The Mandalorian was brilliant & exactly the kind of excitement I wanted to feel (but didn’t) while watching the Sequel Trilogy. Mainly, I found the character of Boba Fett… a bit boring? OT fans do NOT want to find Boba Fett boring. He was better when he was all mysterious. Sometimes less is more.

Oh well – I don’t think the series was terrible. Some episodes were far better than others & I did enjoy some stories, such as the whole thing with Boba Fett & the Tuskens. The show still had some really great moments (but those were mostly all in the next two episodes & didn’t involved Boba Fett whatsoever…). Oh! A girl playing a character I like in Yellowjackets was also in this. Her character (and those of her friends in this) SUCKS. Damn. At least we got to see Max Rebo! OT character excellence. And Flashdance chick!

Stay Close: S1– Had a very weird reason for sticking this Netflix show on one night: We wanted to see the big head sculpture (called Dream) that features quite prominently several times in this show. We have photos of my daughter in front of it when she was about three & we pulled over to check it out on a trip to Liverpool. She’d often mentioned remembering seeing this massive head when she was little & wondering what the heck was up with that. Man, that sculpture needs a clean now! Looks much better in our photos than in the show. Anyway – I’d read on Twitter that the show is set in that region & shows the sculpture a lot, and right at the start, so we put it on.

So we’ve now finally discovered a genre our early teen who never wants to watch anything with us anymore likes: crime mystery thrillers. Who knew! She was SO into this. It’s partly because it’s the first of this sort of thing she’s seen, I suppose, but we’re now trying to think of similar things she might like. Any suggestions? This was very borderline on appropriateness – would certainly not want anything much more violent or intense than this. It has a very cheesy ’90s movie thriller vibe, which is a guilty pleasure of mine. So I also enjoyed this show far more than I was expecting. A bit pulp-y, yeah, but that’s exactly what I want from this genre. Stuff like Malice! Single White Female! The Hand That Rocks The Cradle! Cheesy thriller goodness. Might check out this same guy’s (Harlan Coben’s) show Safe next, which is on Netflix as well.

Looking For Alaska: – Meh. I read this John Green YA novel so figured I’d check out the adaptation. From what I can remember of the book now, this seemed like a really faithful adaptation. I’ve read several Green books & all except The Fault In Our Stars have a bit too much of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing going on. Paper Towns was the worst for it & this was probably the second worst (although the girl in this one isn’t nearly as hateful as the Paper Towns girl). This show was fine. A bit too much drama. I liked the main boy played by Charlie Plummer but maybe it helps that I really loved the recent film he was in called Spontaneous & he was a really likeable character in that. Watch that! Then maybe watch this if you really like YA stuff.

And Just Like That…: S1 E6-9 – Good Lord this show was dreadful. I can’t remember what I wrote about it in my last post and I’ve finished it all now so I’ll just say it doesn’t improve as the show goes on. They should have just left these characters alone. I mean, they were already all hateful in the first place but at least there were admittedly some funny moments in Sex & The City. So in this show they’re older & still hateful but also now boring & unfunny. Pointless.

Foundation: S1 E1 – Can’t say much about this at this point but checked out the one freebie episode on Apple TV. Intriguing so far. Will watch more if/when we sign up for Apple again (which I mainly want to do to see CODA, Finch & Ted Lasso).

All Of Us Are Dead: S1 E1 – Watched an episode. Love most Korean stuff & most zombie stuff but wasn’t feeling this. Maybe I’ll try again at some point.

The Masked Singer U.K.: S3 E1-2 – Getting a little bored with these but also still a little fascinated by the concept & seeing how desperate celebs are to stay relevant by doing cheesy stuff like this. The US version still has far bigger celebs. Probably won’t bother finishing as know most of those unmasked thanks to Twitter.

MUSIC LISTENED TO

David Bowie – Toys – Had to check out a “new” Bowie album! Love him. Album is fine. Mainly it was just great hearing that voice of his again. Still miss him.

The Weeknd – Dawn FM – I don’t normally check out “new” music but every once in a while figure I should give something a try. I admit I’m stuck in the old days & listen to very little music released in the past 15 years. But I’ve liked some Weeknd songs so checked this out while working/sleeping. It worked well for that as it’s a little dull compared to his more upbeat stuff. There’s certainly no Blinding Lights on this album (I admit I love that song). The album is fine, though. Inoffensive. Nothing stands out.

Grimes – Player Of Games & Shinigami Eyes – I have a confession to make: Grimes is a guilty pleasure of mine. Maybe not a secret as I did a whole post HERE about two of my favorite songs of hers. And a post HERE about her album Miss Anthropocene which I’ve now listened to far more than I should admit (shitloads). I like her. She’s weird. Some songs are terrible. But she certainly has a sound that’s all her, I guess! So I just stick everything she releases onto my playlist and when they pop up on shuffle I go “Oh, that’s definitely Grimes”…

BOOKS READ

Well, at the time of writing this post I’m about 600 pages into the 800-something page A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones. So I’m getting there, I guess…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans but if I write any reviews maybe I’ll post them. I have my February Roundup post ready to go as well so will post that soon.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Still not going to the cinema (Covid & no money) so am just watching stuff available on services. Not sure what’s due to be released on services but hoping I can catch up on the many 2021 releases I missed. And hoping to see more Oscar nominees before the shitty Oscars I shouldn’t care about anyway (mainly CODA & Summer Of Soul as available & West Side Story when it comes to Disney Plus).

Let’s end with Brad Fiedel’s Terminator theme since I mentioned that it’s fucking awesome:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2021

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched In November:

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

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous In November:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

2021 Movies I Want To See:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2021

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN OCTOBER (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched In October:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TV Shorts & Miscellaneous:

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MUSIC LISTENED TO

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

Halloween Horror Music: Ice Nine Kills

I first discovered this band in early 2020 when a guy from work recommended them to me as he knows I like heavy metal music as well as horror movies. I admit I’ve not listened to their other albums as it was The Silver Scream album that appealed to me. It’s a heavy metal album with each song being about a different horror film. It couldn’t be more perfect for me & my interests & this blog! I’ve been meaning to write a little something about them & now seemed like the perfect time just before Halloween. Plus, they’ve just released The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood!

Well, my main focus here is movies but I do love music too. I’ve never written about music, though, so I’ll be very brief. This post is mainly just to maybe introduce these albums to others. I don’t know how the hell to write about music. Well, I don’t know how to write about movies, either… Ha!

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream

I really like this album, although it’s heavier (well, “screamier”) than the classic type of metal I tend to go for. A lot of the movies they did songs for on this first album are favorites of mine (A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Shining, The Crow & even the not-so-horror Edward Scissorhands). Now, with both of these albums, I don’t love every song. Some are definitely better than others but I absolutely love the concept & it’s a lot of fun having two albums based on some of the best horror movies. (I should point out that they also did an album of songs based on books, Every Trick in the Book, which I’ve not checked out yet.)

From this album, my favorites are probably The American Nightmare & Stabbing in the Dark. Here’s the full list of songs & the movies they’re based on (from Wikipedia):

1. “The American Nightmare” – A Nightmare on Elm Street
2. “Thank God It’s Friday” – Friday the 13th
3. “Stabbing in the Dark” – Halloween
4. “Savages” – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
5. “The Jig Is Up” – Saw
6. “A Grave Mistake” – The Crow
7. “Rocking the Boat” – Jaws
8. “Enjoy Your Slay” – The Shining
9. “Freak Flag” – The Devil’s Rejects (not seen this. not bothered)
10. “The World in My Hands” – Edward Scissorhands
11. “Merry Axe-mas” – Silent Night, Deadly Night (not seen this either but want to)
12. “Love Bites” – An American Werewolf in London
13. “It Is the End” – It

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood

I’ve only just found out about this new album so have only listened to it a couple of times while working. I believe that some have videos as well? Will check it out more this week but the first one to really catch my ear was the Child’s Play one Assault & Batteries. It seems to be a take on the old Toys R Us jingle (in America), so I thought that was clever. Here’s the track listing for this one from Wikipedia:

1. “Opening Night…”
2. “Welcome to Horrorwood”
3. “A Rash Decision” – Cabin Fever
4. “Assault & Batteries” – Child’s Play
5. “The Shower Scene” – Psycho
6. “Funeral Derangements” – Pet Sematary
7. “Rainy Day” – Resident Evil (not seen this)
8. “Hip to Be Scared” – American Psycho
9. “Take Your Pick” – My Bloody Valentine
10. “The Box” – Hellraiser
11. “F.L.Y.” – The Fly
12. “Würst Vacation” – Hostel (not seen this. not interested)
13. “Ex-Mørtis” – The Evil Dead
14. “Farewell II Flesh” – Candyman

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2021

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

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched:

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

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

Shorts:

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

DOCUMENTARIES/MISCELLANEOUS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Work. Sleep. Watch movies.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2021

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

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous

Concert Film:

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

Shorts:

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

Launchpad Shorts On Disney Plus:

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

BOOKS READ

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Keeping what I say very short!!

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

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

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

Shoplifters Of The World (2021) Review

I posted three weeks ago saying I’d catch up on a bunch of old movie reviews I’ve missed over the years then I completely disappeared & didn’t feel like blogging at all. Probably because I hate to commit to anything! So instead I’ve started writing my roundup post of movies watched in June and some of the mini-reviews got too wordy again. So here’s the first of the slightly longer mini-reviews I’ll post before the full roundup next week…

Shoplifters Of The World (2021)

Directed by Stephen Kijak

Starring: Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause, James Bloor, Thomas Lennon, Joe Manganiello

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
1987. Denver, Co. One crazy night in the life of four friends reeling from the sudden demise of iconic British band The Smiths, while the local airwaves are hijacked at gunpoint by an impassioned Smiths fan.

My Opinion:

I liked the idea behind this but the way they shoved The Smiths & quotes from their songs very awkwardly into this story as much as possible sadly felt too forced. Here’s a further synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in Denver, four friends reel from the sudden break up of The Smiths, while the local radio station is held at gunpoint by a fan, forcing a disgruntled heavy metal DJ to play The Smiths all night.” Yeah, that’s a great idea and could’ve been a great movie if done right.

This is one of those movies that felt like it was made by someone who didn’t live through the ’80s so the characters felt like modern teens (or they might have been early twentysomethings) playing ’80s dress-up. BUT! That’s not the case as I did look into this & the director is slightly older than me so did definitely live through the ’80s. Not sure why the film didn’t quite work, then. Maybe he was trying to also capture a new, younger generation of fans? That won’t work – the youngsters have cancelled Morrissey! I do feel bad for the filmmaker on that as this movie may have been in the works before this latest cancellation. Not the director’s fault. He’s maybe a fan who wanted to do a fun movie based around a band he liked (I’m guessing). So that’s a shame. I can see me wanting to make a similar movie based around a band I love.

I wanted to love this movie. It’s totally my type of thing normally. More than anything I think I just didn’t buy into any of these young actors actually liking The Smiths and I never really felt like I was watching a movie set in the ’80s despite it trying really hard to look like the ’80s. Come on – We didn’t actually go around dressed like full-on Madonna or Siouxsie Sioux or Robert Smith – we’d just use bits of their style, like maybe wearing the Madonna bracelets all up our arms. As for The Smiths, I’m not some hardcore fan. I do like several songs quite a lot and love How Soon Is Now & think it’s truly fantastic but I’m closer to being the metalhead DJ in this (especially at the time – I like The Smiths now but didn’t back then). But I like The Smiths enough to have gotten enjoyment from their songs being played throughout this film. If you hate The Smiths, I can’t imagine you enjoying this film since the story & characters aren’t really strong enough. For a movie that better incorporated a band’s music into an interesting story, I far preferred Yesterday with all of The Beatles music.

And now, after my very negative-sounding review, I’ll give this an okay rating as I did still enjoy it overall. Good music & a decade I love so I can’t complain too much. Ellar Coltrane was fine (That kid from Boyhood! I still think that film was quite an achievement). And Helena Howard was also decent as the main girl & Smiths fan (although I still didn’t buy into any of these people actually liking The Smiths). She appears to have not been in much yet but I can see her having a good career. Joe Manganiello was probably the best as the heavy metal DJ but he’s really the only “known” actor in this. So, yeah, this could’ve been a better film but it was worth a watch. However, I’d still rather watch a movie actually released in the ’80s instead of a current film set then…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2021

Happy March, everyone! I watched way too many movies in February. To be fair, though, I did have a week off of work so what else was I going to do?! 🙂

Here are my quickie reviews of every movie & TV show I watched (and two books I read)…

MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):

Les Diaboliques – I unfortunately saw the terrible 1996 remake of this starring Sharon Stone years ago. Rubbish! I thought I’d managed to completely put it out of my mind until halfway through this original French film, when I suddenly remembered the whole story. Damn. Well, it’s still a fantastic murder-plot-mystery thriller and I’d highly recommend the original film, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, to anyone who likes this sort of genre. (Seriously, do NOT watch the 1996 remake. Ugh.) The wife & the mistress of the same abusive asshole plot to murder him & make it look like an accident. But many weird & inexplicable things happen as the story unfolds. The actresses in this (Simone Signoret & Véra Clouzot) are fantastic and you are rooting for them (especially the poor wife) through the whole film. And do you know what happened when the credits came up at the end of this 1955 movie?! A warning to not spoil the ending of the film for others so that they could enjoy it too! Funny. So people were dicks about spoiling movies in 1955 just like they are in 2021. At least they could avoid Twitter in 1955. – 7.5/10

Willy’s Wonderland – I was never a huge fan of Nicolas Cage but he’s finally growing on me since Mandy. Mandy grew on me a lot too – I wasn’t sure how I felt right away but now I love that film & its look and its amazing score. I now want every Nicolas Cage movie to live up to Mandy but I don’t think any ever will. I did enjoy Color Out Of Space & it certainly gave Mandy a run for its money on “weirdness”. I love weird. It was no Mandy but I’m loving that Cage chooses such bizarre films with cult movie potential. He’s done similar again with Willy’s Wonderland but in the horror comedy genre this time (a favorite subgenre of mine). I was so damn excited to see the trailer for a film starring Cage battling demonic animatronic characters. Love this idea! The film sadly didn’t quite live up to its amazing potential but I still had a lot of fun with it. And Cage was as bonkers as always, even while remaining silent through the whole film. It has a good ’80s slasher sort of vibe to it as well, so I appreciated that. The ’80s had some of the best “bad” horror movies & I’ll always happily watch this kind of thing. – 7.5/10

**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – Not gonna lie: YA books & movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. Think this one was just a short story instead of a full novel and I’ve not read it but I thought the movie was quite enjoyable. It’s a good story with likeable characters & that’s all I ask for from this genre. It’s also yet anotherGroundhog Day” setup. How many times can this same thing be done?! I think it doesn’t matter as long as the story still manages to feel like it has a unique twist on having to live the same day over & over and this movie does achieve that. Let’s see… Edge Of Tomorrow is still obviously the best film since Groundhog Day with this theme but I’d have to say I preferred The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things to the Happy Death Day movies & Before I Fall. Recommended if you do like the YA genre & a good story. – 7.5/10

**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…

Palmer – I really enjoyed this movie, even though I don’t always go for dramas. It depends on the characters & I liked the characters in this. Justin Timberlake was good as a guy just out of prison who has to try to make a new start & I liked Alisha Wainwright as the teacher of the young boy Timberlake’s character finds himself stuck with when the boy’s troubled mother disappears. The true star is the boy, however, played by Ryder Allen. He’s adorable & super likeable. I think movies often don’t get kids’ characters quite right. They’re sometimes just so obviously saying lines written by an adult screenwriter so it feels awkward (see review below for an example). They don’t act like real kids that age would act. Or, more often, they’re made to be far too “bratty”, which isn’t very realistic either. Not saying kids are never bratty (because they certainly are!!) but I hate how it’s so exaggerated in movies. The boy in this seems real & you just want him to have the best possible life. Yes, the film may be quite predictable & it’s nothing we haven’t seen before but a predictable feelgood film doesn’t exactly do anyone any harm. I liked it. – 7/10

All The President’s Men – I have a confession: This is NOT my type of film. At all. I just very rarely enjoy “historical dramas”. Same goes for true crime. Man, I hate true crime! I have no interest in all the true crime stuff on Netflix that people always go on about. I don’t know why. But I especially hate politics & crime & most of the crappy stuff that goes on in real life. I mainly watch movies for escapism so often go for sci-fi or fantasy or horror. Or, well, any genre really as long as it’s fiction. If I want a genuinely true story, I’ll watch a documentary.

I thought I’d give this one a chance, though, as it’s a respected classic and I really like Robert Redford & Dustin Hoffman. Yeah. It’s good. I guess it’s what you’d call a slow burn as you watch the story gradually unfold through the eyes of the reporters. It felt very “real” but, me being the person-least-interested-in-history-in-the-history-of-history, I haven’t got the slightest clue as to how accurate this movie is on the whole Watergate Richard Nixon thingy. Redford & Hoffman are great (as always). Everyone looks very ’70s which is also great (as always). I ended up playing on my phone through most of this, though, and only kind of paid attention when I realised they were talking to the Deep Throat guy (only porn movie I own!).

I’m sorry. I’m a terrible, terrible movie blogger. This is a classic & I lost interest & I played on my phone & I still have no knowledge of Watergate. But, hey – it’s super tame anyway compared to all the political bullshit these days! Watergate seems like child’s play now. I’ll give this movie a decent score but know it deserves an even higher rating. And speaking of child’s play, it certainly deserves a higher rating than what I gave the Child’s Play 2019 reboot! But I also gave that a 7/10 (it was fun)… – 7/10

Level 16 – No, this movie isn’t exactly the best or most original thing ever made but it IS very much my type of story so I quite enjoyed it. It’s on Netflix & this is the plot synopsis from Wikipedia: “Level 16 is a 2018 sci-fi thriller by filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy. It follows a group of girls who live at a “school” which educates them about how to be perfect young women for families that they are told will eventually adopt them. Two girls work together to uncover the truth about their captivity.” By the way, do NOT look this up on IMDb if you want to see it. The images they show ruin the whole story! WTF? So I knew what was going to happen. But I still enjoyed it. Being someone who grew up loving The Twilight Zone from a very young age, I’d have guessed the ending of this movie anyway as it’s pretty predictable if you watch as much of this sort of thing as I do. I suppose you younger people may also know what to expect if you like Black Mirror. But this is still worth a watch if you like mysterious sci-fi thrillers. – 6.5/10

I Care A Lot – I hadn’t planned on watching this until it ended up being so divisive on Twitter. Man, some people really hate this movie! But others seemed to really enjoy it. Well, movies with such a strong reaction always get me curious so I checked it out expecting to absolutely hate it as I usually despise hateful characters. I want characters to like & to root for!

I enjoyed this film. It’s not one I’ll ever watch again but I enjoyed the ride & thought the performances were good. It goes a bit overboard at the end but, whatever, it’s just a movie so that never really bothers me. And, with everyone going on about how evil these characters are, I thought they’d be far worse. Seriously?! Yeah, Rosamund Pike & Peter Dinklage are assholes. But that’s the whole point? We’re not meant to like them. And there have been many characters in movies just as bad & also much worse. Why such a strong reaction to these characters? Seems strange. I’d also point out that they both have one other person who they clearly love & do truly care about. That’s more than can be said for a lot of “evil” movie characters.

Anyway. I liked this far more than I was expecting so it was a nice surprise. I especially liked Dianne Wiest (always makes me think of The Lost Boys & Edward Scissorhands – she has a great filmography!) & Eiza González was very good as well. So there are two characters who are a little less evil if you really can’t handle Pike & Dinklage. I’d almost give this a higher rating but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me. I’d say just don’t necessarily avoid it based on people being all weird about it. – 6.5/10

Greenland – This was a perfectly fine disaster movie. Not the best but certainly not the worst of this genre. The characters were more likeable than in some of them (I especially liked Scott Glenn as the grandfather). I think we’re all just desperate for blockbuster action movies during lockdown??? So everyone seems to be giving it slightly more praise than it may actually deserve. We’d probably be more harsh on it if we weren’t all stuck indoors with nothing but mediocre Netflix stuff to watch. Compared to most of the straight-to-streaming films we’ve had in the past year, this is one of the better ones. Still far prefer Deep Impact but this was at least less cheesy than Armageddon. – 6.5/10

9 – Somehow missed out on this when released even though its style is the type of thing I like plus I love anything post-apocalyptic. It’s a bit Tim Burton-esque. Which makes sense, as he produced it (he saw & liked the original 9 short film, so produced this feature length film). I wanted to like this one more, as I loved the look and it had so many great names involved. Here’s the synopsis & its stars from Wikipedia: “The film stars the voice of Elijah Wood as a small ragdoll-like robot who awakens shortly after the end of mankind, and must find eight other robots to figure out the mystery behind humanity’s destruction while tangling with the vicious creations of a massive soul-stealing machine, alongside other voices of John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover with Martin Landau and Fred Tatasciore.” I think the story just kind of fell apart plus I wasn’t crazy about the ending. Still a great looking film, though, and am glad to have finally seen it. – 6.5/10

Malcolm & Marie – This was fine. Not sure how to go about reviewing it. It certainly had some issues & some of it came across a bit too “I’m a brilliant filmmaker and my movies are masterpieces and everyone else is an idiot”. Malcolm was hateful as hell as the pretentious filmmaker and complete asshole of a boyfriend. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else that Sam Levinson has done but, looking at his filmography, it doesn’t look all that impressive (does he see himself as Malcolm??). Movies that come across too condescending do annoy the hell out of me. I had the same issues with Marriage Story (I hated that). I didn’t hate this one but I can’t see myself ever wanting to watch it again. Zendaya is definitely the best thing about the film & she does a great job. It’s worth watching just for her performance. John David Washington is good as well, I guess, as he certainly manages to make you hate his character. And people moaned about the characters being too hateful in I Care A Lot?!? Honestly, the guy was a prick. I kind of wanted her to stab him. That would have been a fun turn of events! It would be cool for a movie to go from being all arthouse pretentious to some f*^ked up horror movie like From Dusk Till Dawn at the end. I want to see that version of Malcolm & Marie! I’ll be nice & give it an extra half a point for the good performances. It also made me want some good ‘ol American Mac & Cheese. – 6.5/10

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – This was… Fine? Man, I’ve seen so many “fine” movies in the past year. I’m bored!! Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A clinically depressed teenager gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward.” Emma Roberts is in this. And that guy in the photo who I know from nothing else (Keir Gilchrist. Oops – looks like he was in It Follows, which I loved). And Zach Galifianakis, the dude everyone thought was the guy in the Robert Redford meme on Twitter. It’s a predictable but harmless film. Meh. – 6/10

Finding ‘Ohana – This was fine too. Kind of Goonies-light. Very much aimed at kids, so it wasn’t really for me, but I could see why a kid might really like this one. The characters are fun and they mention “nips” a lot. And one of the girls loves Keanu Reeves, which is totally understandable. Cute movie but watch it with a kid of 11 or younger. – 6/10

News Of The World – This movie probably deserves a higher rating. To be fair, I watched it knowing it’s not really at all my type of thing. I think I just feel like I should watch any big new releases that other bloggers are talking about but I’ve been underwhelmed with 90% of the newer films released on streaming services in the past year. Hanks was his usual Hanks-self & the girl was pretty good (Helena Zengel). And I was pretty bored. It ended well, though. So that’s nice. – 6/10

Over The Moon – This started out strong but I lost interest halfway through (and may have fallen asleep for a while). It’s a cute movie with a likeable girl and fun younger boy and adorable pet rabbit. It’s also a musical but the songs aren’t very good. It may have actually been better without the songs. It’s also another movie very much aimed at kids (mine is a bit too old for it & seemed bored by the end). Am sure young kids would like it and the super cute pet bunny, though. – 5.5/10

In Fabric – This was bizarre. I was very excited to see this on BBC iPlayer as it looked like just my type of thing. I like to watch these “Giallo-inspired” movies. But then they end up being really shit & I think I’d have been better off just watching an actual Italian horror from the ’70s instead of a very poor imitation. Hated that Suspiria remake too! What was the point of that?? Well, at least this was an original story instead of a remake, I guess.

I did like director Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio okay but this one didn’t really work. I’d say there were certain things I liked about it, though. The score & the look were fine (even though it’s ripping off the Giallo style – Again, I should have just checked out another Dario Argento film even though I know none are as good as Deep Red or Suspiria). There are also two stories in this weird “killer dress” movie & the second one sucks. The first one, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste & Gwendoline Christie, actually wasn’t too bad & I’d be giving the film a higher rating if it had ended there. Why did they feel the need to add the second? Also, the movie is veeeeery slow & the first story dragged on for far longer than it needed to. I think this may have actually been a decent horror anthology instead with four or five movies involving the killer dress. I’d watch several really good stories about a killer dress! Why do one okay story & one completely rubbish one?? Well, I don’t recommend this unless you like slightly boring modern movies that poorly rip off ’70s horror classics (if you liked The Love Witch, which I thought was terrible, you’d probably like In Fabric). – 5/10

Saint Frances – Didn’t like this one. This is just one of those movies where you don’t really care about anyone. The main character is boring & self-absorbed. The only decent characters are the cute young girl & her mother who has a new baby so needs to hire the main character as a nanny to help take of her. Where I mentioned in the review for Palmer above that a lot of writers don’t seem to know how to write child characters? This is one of those. The girl is super cute and I think 5 or 6 years old but talks like an adult sometimes. It doesn’t work. And I know I did a list of My Top Ten Period Dramas but there was waaaaay too much of that in this movie. No thanks. – 5/10

Shorts & Miscellaneous

Wayne & Garth for Uber Eats – I’m a huge Wayne’s World fan. I (kind of) reviewed it HERE. I love Wayne and adore Garth and they’re the two movie characters I’d probably most like to hang out with. I couldn’t believe it when I found out there was a two and a half hour Wayne & Garth Uber Eats “ad”. There is! It’s HERE! And I watched all of it. It was the perfect thing to just stick on in the background – it really feels like you’re just hanging out with Wayne & Garth in Wayne’s basement. There are a couple of guest stars too (one of them is super cool but not a surprise to fans). Highly recommend leaving this on one day if you’re a fan of these guys & just want to hang out with them for a couple of hours.

Rewatched

The Breakfast Club – It would have been the 71st birthday of John Hughes in February & we felt like rewatching a couple of his films. I also again shared all the links to all the guest reviews from the John Hughes Blogathon I had here. Well, I already reviewed The Breakfast Club at the above link so won’t do that here. I’ll just say that I still love it now as much as I did in the ’80s. It’s still my favorite Hughes movie. – 9/10

The Matrix – Thought it was time to introduce this one to the kid. She loved it! She does love a really interesting concept. I have to admit I’d not rewatched it in years, especially after the horrible sequels. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this again & think it has aged very well. I’m now maybe a bit more excited about The Matrix 4 (even though the last two were huge disappointments). We’ll see. It won’t live up to the first film, though. It really is a modern classic. – 8.5/10

Sixteen Candles – Watched this one too in honor of John Hughes. It’s another favorite (reviewed in full in my link). – 8.5/10

Ponyo – Rewatching a lot of my Studio Ghibli favorites. Again, I won’t go into this as I reviewed it in full at the link but I love Ghibli & Ponyo is great. Am also very happy to have introduced another blogger to Studio Ghibli via this film, which she chose as the first one to check out. You can read Claire’s review of Ponyo HERE at Cinematic Delights. Think we may have a new Ghibli fan! 🙂 – 8/10

Catch Me If You Can – Still love this Steven Spielberg movie. Think it doesn’t get quite as much attention as his other films but it’s such a fascinating true story plus Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio & Christopher Walken are all fantastic. Highly recommend it if you’ve never seen it. – 8/10

Tremors – Hadn’t watched this one in years after watching it many times in my teens. I remember this being on TV all the time in America. It’s unfortunately one that ended up being not quite as good as I remembered but it’s still a really fun monster movie slash horror comedy. – 7/10

The Devil Wears Prada – I do enjoy this movie, despite finding Anne Hathaway annoying & not being a big “chick flick” girl and not being into fashion whatsoever (what a stupid waste of money). But the story is fun, Emily Blunt is entertaining, and Meryl Streep is great as a complete & total bitch. She’d get along with Malcolm! Hey, this character is super hateful but people don’t moan about this movie like they moaned about I Care A Lot… Oh, I also admit that I like any movie that has a makeover scene. Why?!? No idea. Oh, and I also like Stanley Tucci. This is one of the better “chick flicks”. I shouldn’t call it that, though. I hate that term. This is a good film. What do we call the equivalent male films starring the likes of Steven Seagal, etc? Those don’t get condescending names, do they?! And there are some terrible “bro movies”. – 7.5/10

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Another rewatch that wasn’t as good as I’d remembered. Still think it’s a fun film, though, and there’s nothing else quite like it so I like that as I watch too many movies that all feel the same. It’s very of its time, though, so can see its fans mainly being of the right age when this came out who have a thing for all the fairly big name actors in it. They’ll be nostalgic for it the same way that I am for ’80s movies that don’t necessarily translate to a new, younger audience. – 7/10

The Maze Runner – I remember quite liking this when it came out. It even made me buy the books after so I could read them (even though I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie). Wow, those books were disappointing!! Maybe that’s partly why I didn’t enjoy this film as much on the rewatch, as I know how terrible the sequels were and how strange the books were. Too bad, as this first movie is still a decent film in the YA dystopian genre. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Moon by James Herbert – Supernatural horror is my favorite genre to read. This book had been lying around the house for years so I finally read it since libraries have been closed for the past year. Also, I really liked Herbert’s freaky deaky book The Rats so decided I might as well try a second book of his. The Rats was more fun (but super gross). Moon is about a guy with a psychic connection to some psycho murderer & it’s exactly what you’d expect from this type of story. I’ve read loads of stories like this, so… I don’t have a lot to say. It passed the time & I’ll completely forget it years from now. Kind of like how all the Dean Koontz books I read all meld together in my mind & I honestly never know if I read one years ago or not but I still love to read his stuff… – 2.5/5

Iggie’s House by Judy Blume – As I said, libraries have been closed for a year so I’m grabbing whatever books are around the house. I stocked up on Judy Blume books from charity shops for my kid years ago as I grew up on Blume’s books. I’d actually not read this one as a kid and I’m obviously not the target audience now (the kid is too old for it now too – Damn, I don’t think she read all the Judy Blumes I got her!). It’s about racism & obviously seems dated now plus it’s overly simplistic. But it’s also clearly aimed at very young kids so I suppose it’s a good introduction to this sort of topic for them. The kids in it are good characters & they don’t fully understand the adults & their behaviour. It’s written from the point of view of an 11-year-old girl & I think Blume does well to get inside the head of a kid this age. Like I said above, many adults don’t seem to know how to write kids but Blume does, which is why kids liked her books at the time (don’t think they’re as popular now, unfortunately, due to many probably seeming dated). – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Muppet Show – Watched four or five of these when they showed up on Disney Plus. Loved how excited everyone was on Twitter! Everyone seemed to be watching them at the same time. This show is a classic & it’s amazing how much I giggled while watching these again despite being an adult (well, not sure I’m an adult but I’m old). I absolutely adore the genuinely funny family comedy in this show. It’s brilliant. The two best we’ve rewatched so far are the Rita Moreno & Mark Hamill episodes (obviously seen the Hamill one many times, though). Wish we had access to ALL of them but think certain episodes, such as the Johnny Cash one, have been pulled? Well, at least that 12 second message they’ve slapped onto the start of each episode of this amazing show gives you time to go grab a snack. Guess we just have to be thankful that they let us watch some stuff from the past still? It won’t last. Grab this stuff on DVD before they go fully Fahrenheit 451 on our asses.

WandaVision: Season 1 Episodes 5-8 – Really been enjoying this even though I’m not a huge Marvel fan (seen all the MCU films, though). I do like how original this show feels as I was getting bored with all the superhero stories, which all end up being exactly the same in all the films. Although, the same thing is obviously happening on this show now as more is being revealed & they’re no longer on the “classic TV sitcom” thing, which was fun. Also, I’ve never seen an episode of Modern Family – it was more fun when I understood the references. The penultimate episode was a bit of a letdown but it needed to lead into the finale at the end of this week, so it did well in getting us all excited for the final episode. Really looking forward to it & will be sure to avoid Twitter on Friday until I’ve seen it.

21 Jump Street: Season 1 Episodes 1 (double Episode) & 2 – This is on Amazon Prime U.K., FYI. Being Gen X, I loved this show at the time & was of course in love with Johnny Depp. Forced my kid to watch the first few episodes. She likes it so far. Yay! I was surprised as it’s admittedly a bit dated. There was also a guest star in the first one whose acting was truly abysmal & we both had a good laugh over that. Hoping to watch some more, as I know it got better & also a bit more serious later on.

Raising Hope: Season 1 Episodes 1-11 – This is on Disney Star. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone! Am pretty sure we’re the only family watching it as clearly no one has complained about it yet to force a 12 second warning message onto it. I’d seen some of these at the time (off & on – I had a young baby). I’d kind of forgotten about it & how funny it was. We’re loving watching these (especially the kid as it’s borderline inappropriate). What can I say? I love sitcoms about dysfunctional American families. They’re the only types of sitcoms I’ve ever really gone for. I hate “perfect” families. Give me the f*#ked up ones! Can see why I like this, as it’s created by the same guy (Greg Garcia) who did My Name Is Earl. Loved that too.

The Crown: Season 3 Episode 3 – Still seriously not feeling the new cast in The Crown, which is probably why we’ve slowed way down on watching these. Man, Claire Foy & Co were so much better!! Episode 3 of Season 3 (Aberfan) was really good. A very tragic story I knew of but didn’t know much about. Heartbreaking. Will try to watch more as want to get to the Diana years but am not loving the show currently.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’m going to try to get back onto watching films for my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge as I only have 34 of those 250 left to watch. I’ll post about that sometime soon & rank the 65 that I’ve watched for the project so far.

I’m also going to start a Best Picture Oscar Project & try to watch all the Best Picture Oscar Winners. Will post about that closer to Oscar-time. I just realised after watching It Happened One Night in January that I’ve seen a lot of the winners anyway (there are only 31 I have yet to see).

I’d also planned to stick a list of my favorite old movies recently added to Disney Star U.K. at the end of this post but it’s ended up long enough already so I won’t bore you with my weird taste in movies. I’ll just say that I’m super excited that Ladyhawke & Can’t Buy Me love are on there, so that gives you an idea of my Gen X tastes. Maybe I’ll bore you all with a separate post about it.

Let’s end with a classic clip from The Muppet Show

Remembering John Hughes On His Birthday

Today would have been the 71st Birthday of John Hughes. Being a part of Generation X, his movies obviously meant a lot to me as a big-haired ’80s teenager & it was very sad when he passed away in 2009.

It’s also Molly Ringwald’s 53rd birthday today. How cool is it that they had the same birthday? Happy Birthday to Molly!

As well as being a great writer, John Hughes also had excellent taste in the music he chose for his films. I recently teamed up with Strange Adventures Music (@StrangeAdvMusic) to create a comprehensive John Hughes playlist. The playlist includes the currently available music from every movie directed, written or produced by Hughes. You can check that out at Apple Music (HERE) or Spotify (HERE). I still listen to that playlist a lot myself.

I also have very fond memories of running a John Hughes Blogathon here in 2014. Thanks again to the many bloggers who participated & helped to review every movie directed or written by Hughes. I thought it was time to again share all the reviews below if you’d like to have a look. And if you love John Hughes too & have a review you’d like me to add to this post as well, feel free to post a link to it in the comments. 🙂

JOHN HUGHES MOVIE REVIEWS:

101 Dalmatians by Fearsome 5 (and family!)

Baby’s Day Out by Film Grimoire

Beethoven by Film Grimoire

The Breakfast Club by The IPC

The Breakfast Club by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

The Breakfast Club by A Clockwalker Orange

The Breakfast Club by MIB’s Instant Headache

Career Opportunities by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Curly Sue by MovieRob

Dennis by MovieRob

Drillbit Taylor by Rhetologue’s Movie Logs

Drillbit Taylor by MovieRob

Dutch by MovieRob

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by Fast Film Reviews

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by The Dirk Malcolm Alternative

Flubber by MovieRob

The Great Outdoors by Smashing Through Life

The Great Outdoors by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Home Alone by MovieRob

Home Alone 2 by Screenkicker

Home Alone 3 by Ten Stars Or Less

Just Visiting by JJames Reviews

Maid In Manhattan by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Miracle On 34th Street by Where The Wild Things Are

Mr. Mom by JJames Reviews

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation by Tvor Travels

National Lampoon’s Class Reunion by Brian at Hard Ticket To Home Video

National Lampoon’s European Vacation by Tvor Travels

National Lampoon’s Vacation by The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger

Only The Lonely by Ten Stars Or Less

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by Film Nerd Blog

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by The Cinematic Frontier

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by The IPC

Pretty In Pink by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Pretty In Pink by Tranquil Dreams

Pretty In Pink by MovieRob

Savage Islands by MovieRob

She’s Having A Baby by Rhetologue’s Movie Logs

She’s Having A Baby by MovieRob

Sixteen Candles by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Sixteen Candles by Where The Wild Things Are

Sixteen Candles by Film Nerd Blog

Sixteen Candles by The IPC

Sixteen Candles by MIB’s Instant Headache

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Silver Screen Serenade

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Some Kind Of Wonderful by MovieRob

Tajna Nikole Tesle by 501 Must-See Movies Project

Uncle Buck by The IPC

Weird Science – special double review by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me) & Eric of The IPC

Weird Science by What About The Twinkie?

Weird Science by MIB’s Instant Headache

EXTRAS:

My Top Ten John Hughes Movies by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Don’t You Forget About Me (documentary about John Hughes) by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

John Hughes Mini-Reviews by Mr Mutant (my hubby)

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2020

Happy New Year! 2020 is finally over! 🙂

I’m going to finish out the year by posting my monthly roundup of what I watched & read in December. I’ll then try to post some 2020 Top Ten Lists the rest of this week, although that’s been weird to put together this time & to try to figure out which movies were actually released in 2020 in the U.K. (a lot in my list were 2019 in the U.S.). It’s also been a terrible year for movies – I think it’s the first time there were no movies I rated above 7.5/10 all year. Very disappointing, even including the older films I chose to watch. I’ll miss doing the Blind Spot project, as that always meant I saw at least a few excellent films each year.

But first, here’s my month of December 2020…

*Edited to add two things I forgot I watched. How could I forget Wolfwalkers?! That was pretty good.

MOVIES WATCHED IN DECEMBER (ranked best to worst):

Calamity Jane – Caught this on TV & thoroughly enjoyed it. Was surprised it’s now one of my favorites this year. Hubby thought it was crazy I’d never seen it but I’d barely even heard of it. I sometimes wonder if certain films ended up slightly more popular in the U.K. than in the U.S.? Like, maybe they were shown on TV a lot more when people were growing up here. Anyway – I think it’s also my first Doris Day movie too (not counting that Hitchcock movie since I’ve of course watched his biggest films). Day is great in this! I liked the character a lot. She’s feisty & funny. And it’s proof there were strong female lead roles, even back in 1953. The only slight negative I’d say is that none of the songs stuck with me (I can’t remember any of them at the moment). Wasn’t sure whether to rank this above or below Meet Me In St. Louis (also a first-time watch this year). I’d probably put it just below it, as I remember two songs very well from that one & The Trolley Song is a classic plus I really like Judy Garland. However, I have to say I enjoyed the overall story & especially the main character in Calamity Jane more plus it had some great humor. A truly fun musical. – 7.5/10

Soul – Trying to figure out how to review this one. I think I’m tougher on Pixar movies as I hold them to a higher standard. They’ve made movies I consider all-time classics up there with any of the non-animated films considered by many to be masterpieces. So, even when I’m disappointed with a Pixar movie, it’s still usually a much better film than movies made by other animation studios. Soul is like that. As a Pixar movie, I’m a little disappointed. But it’s still a gorgeous piece of animation & still far better than the type of stuff we get from the likes of DreamWorks.

I think, mainly, I felt let down by the ending. It didn’t fully tie things up the way I expect from a Pixar film. It didn’t feel like the fully rounded sort of story we always get from the studio. What becomes of both of them? Has he really learned his lesson? Too many things still felt unresolved at the end (and one specific thing was hinted at early in the film & nothing comes of it in the end so what was the point?). I don’t know. I always hate being so picky with Pixar but that’s just because they have several truly brilliant films. And as a music lover, I think I was hoping to enjoy and feel more of a love for music in Soul as well. But in the end, it’s not really about music at all (sorry – spoiler sort of). And then the actual score was something I sadly didn’t even notice. When I think of Inside Out, I immediately think of that amazing Michael Giacchino score. That’s one of the finest scores of the past 20 years. It’s gorgeous. Same with the scores for WALL-E & Finding Nemo. Pixar have had many great scores so, for a movie whose main character is obsessed with music, I was hoping for more from the score.

Well, Soul is still a lovely film even if it didn’t live up to Pixar’s very best for me. I think it didn’t help that, unfortunately, our two main characters are… Unlikeable? Yeah, a bit. Which is fine for a story where the whole point is to become a better person. Hell, that’s the moral of the story in most every movie that gets made, isn’t it?? But, in this case, we didn’t get enough of a pay off at the end to make up for that. I honestly thought, at the very least, there’d be an end credits scene which would show us more of the end result. I think just one additional short scene like that would have really added to the story & I’d be rating it more highly instead of feeling unsatisfied. The barbershop scene was good – It would’ve been good to see more of his life as the “living people” bits were better than the little blue “soul people” bits. I didn’t feel like I got to know his character. And I think the story just ended up too convoluted to really get its point across to the audience. Inside Out also dealt with very complex themes but in a much more coherent way with a satisfying ending. – 7/10

Wolfwalkers – This was a really lovely film. I love the artwork. I felt the same way about Tomm Moore’s Song Of The Sea. Gorgeous. (I’ve not seen The Secret Of Kells). But, for whatever reason, I didn’t love either of these movies although they’re both very good. I slightly preferred Song Of The Sea, which was quite bittersweet. Both movies had good stories that I just didn’t fully connect with despite the girls in Wolfwalkers being good characters and the wolfwalker girl especially being feisty & fun. I think the movies themselves just don’t quite live up to the great visuals. But I’d happily stick images from these movies up on a wall. They feel almost more like pieces of art than films. – 7/10

The Midnight Sky – Sci-fi is a favorite genre of mine so I rarely dislike movies like this. I liked this one but would have to say it’s not for everyone. It has an extremely slow pace, so I can see those who aren’t big sci-fi fans not necessarily having the patience for this one. Loving ’70s sci-fi, I’m fine with loooong & drawn-out sci-fi films as so many old ones are like that. To be honest, I don’t think The Midnight Sky is “good enough” to have had a cinema release (don’t know if that was the plan?) but as a “straight to Netflix” film it’s fine. It’s a good sci-fi film with a predictable but decent twist. I liked it. – 7/10

The Trial Of The Chicago 7 – I’m not really a fan of courtroom dramas & this one started out VERY slow. I also have zero knowledge when it comes to history so knew nothing about this story. What didn’t help was that the first half of the movie doesn’t tell you what the hell actually happened. It’s not until about halfway through that they show you the actual incident that took place to lead to the trial. Then it got good – the second half of this was far better than the start. I thought Sacha Baron Cohen was especially good as Abbie Hoffman but all the acting was pretty top-notch. And, hey – the real-life guy played by Eddie Redmayne ended up marrying Jane Fonda (thanks, Wikipedia). I think this is just a very interesting real-life story that we didn’t get to actually see as the focus was on the trial. I’d rather have seen this story play out from the start with the trial at the end of the movie. And each of the 7 characters (well, 8 – one was falsely accused) are worthy of their own separate movies focusing on them. I’d rather watch those movies if they got made. – 7/10

Babyteeth – This was good and is the type of thing I often like so was hoping to like it more than I did. It’s about a teenage schoolgirl with cancer who falls in love with an early twenty-something drug dealer. All performances in this were good, especially from our two main characters above & the girl’s parents. It’s an odd film. I think I couldn’t really relate to it as everyone’s behavior was so bizarre. Especially the drug dealer (as to be expected, I suppose). But I really didn’t understand his behavior at the end of the movie & why he reacted the way he did (avoiding spoilers, obviously). Well, it’s a decent film with very good performances and a bit of the quirky indie thing I like. I did still appreciate the movie even if I couldn’t relate to the characters. – 7/10

Santa Claus: The Movie – I still can’t believe there’s an ’80s movie, especially a Christmas one that will have been shown many Decembers of my life, that I never saw. I liked this. Yeah, it’s a bit cheesy & a little dated but I think it still stands up today. I know I’d appreciate it more if I’d actually grown up with it but I’d happily watch it again some other Christmas. Oh, and Burgess Meredith has a small but cool role in this too. Love him. – 7/10

Hillbilly Elegy – This Ron Howard movie was fine. I’m wondering if these Netflix movies were meant to actually be 2020 cinema releases? Because this is another one that doesn’t feel good enough for cinemas despite its big name stars. It’s a decent enough story with good acting but feels like a TV movie (not that there’s anything wrong with TV movies). It’s just a very straightforward “person makes it despite bad childhood” storyline. I love Amy Adams and she was good as always as the drug addict mother but the performance felt a bit phoned in. Glenn Close was also good as her mother but I thought Haley Bennett especially stood out in her role as daughter of Adams. Gabriel Basso (had to look him up) was also good as the son & main character. Good. Yeah. The movie is just… kind of good. But nothing we haven’t seen before. – 6.5/10

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Was disappointed with this but think that was mainly because I didn’t know beforehand that it’s a play & that the movie would very much be like a play & mainly in only one setting as they record an album. The play format occasionally works in movies but is not usually my type of thing. I think it depends on the characters. Unfortunately, I don’t think most of them get as much development as I’d have liked. Besides Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and Levee (lovely Chadwick Boseman – R.I.P.) who get plenty of screen time but I didn’t feel we really even learned enough about Ma Rainey. But both were very good in their roles, especially Boseman. He seemed like a lovely guy & had such a great presence in films – he will be very sadly missed. Was not happy with how his character ended up in this movie, however. Wasn’t expecting that. Why?!?! Again – average movie but good performances. – 6.5/10

Wild Child – Hey, I gotta watch these teen chick flicks with the kid sometimes. Even as an old lady, I still enjoy teen movies. What can I say? I grew up in the John Hughes era! Not that this is anywhere near as good as a John Hughes movie. It’s silly & predictable in every way but it’s also more fun than I was expecting. There are several different fun characters in the group of girls at the snobby English school the bitchy California rich girl (Emma Roberts) gets shipped off to. Does she learn to not be such a bitch by the end?! Duh! Of COURSE. Who cares? That’s the point of these movies. I want predictable with something like this. Happily ever after & all that shit. There’s even a fun makeover/clothes shopping bit. That was fun. I can be girly sometimes! And I swear I’ve visited wherever they did that clothes shopping – that English street looked very familiar. – 6/10

The Princess Switch: Switched Again – Ugh. Not good. The first film was fine. Throwaway Hallmark-type of feelgood movie. This one was too silly with a ridiculous “villain” thrown in. I guess it’s worth a watch if you really loved the first movie but lower your expectations for this one. – 5/10

A Chinese Ghost Story – I can’t fairly review this 1987 Hong Kong film as I ended up not fully paying attention to it. I was bored. Think I saw someone mention it on Twitter & decided to watch it as it sounded fun & had a good IMDb rating. It’s… Strange. I didn’t like it but it’s weird enough that I guess I can see why it would have some fans (think it has a cult following). Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb: “After a string of bad luck, a debt collector has no other choice than to spend the night in a haunted temple, where he encounters a ravishing female ghost and later battles to save her soul from the control of a wicked tree demon.” – 5.5/10

Shorts, etc:

If Anything Happens I Love You – My god, this was absolutely soul destroying! I hated it, in a way. It’s very good but also way too emotional. It’s a topic I can’t stand the thought of and one very big reason I’m glad to not live in America at the moment. Would like to think someone with the right connections would watch this animated short on Netflix & be moved to make some sort of difference to the laws in America. But let’s be honest – that will never happen. Hard to know what to rate this as it’s good & very moving but I never ever ever want to see it again. Only one small complaint I hate to bring up but the song in it threw me out of it a bit. Bad song. Would’ve been even more emotional if it had just stayed as an instrumental score (although I don’t think I could’ve handled it being even more emotional). – 7/10

Death To 2020 – This was fine but a little underwhelming. I did get a few giggles out of it but think I’ll have forgotten most of it in a few months. They did seem to tread very lightly (I suppose you have to be super careful to offend no one these days). I was happy to find that they made fun of both sides politically (a bit), as I expected this to be very far left. Meh. It was okay but it took no risks. Come on – we’re all used to South Park now! But I always love Samuel L. Jackson so he was fun & Hugh Grant seems to have become surprisingly funny with this & in The Gentlemen. – 6/10

Rewatched:

Whip It – I adore Drew Barrymore & I love this movie she directed about a bunch of badass roller derby girls. I desperately wanted to be an old badass roller derby girl like Juliette Lewis after watching this movie but I’m too much of a wuss. Anyway, I rewatched this with the kid & she loved it too. This is more my kind of chick flick. I want badass chicks in my chick flicks! Still love this movie. – 8/10

Scrooged – I ranked this as my number one Christmas movie once (HERE). It maybe still is but I change my mind on my top five a lot. Well, I’ll always love the Christmas Carol story & love that there are so many clever adaptations of it. This one will always be my favorite modern adaptation. – 8/10

Miracle On 34th Street (1947) – Finally got my kid to watch another Christmas favorite of mine with me this year! I think she enjoyed it. When Santa sings in another language for that girl is one of my absolute favorite Christmas movie moments. Love it. He’s my favorite movie Santa & Natalie Wood is so good as the girl doubting him. Will always be a favorite of mine. – 7.5/10

Crocodile Dundee – Ha! Introduced the kid to this silly classic ’80s movie too. I’d actually not seen it in years myself so was expecting it to have not aged well. Surprisingly, I think it has aged quite well. Kid liked it more than I expected. For a movie I can’t exactly say is “good“, I think there’s just something really likeable about it. Probably why it has managed to be fairly popular for so many years. – 7/10

Deadpool – Rewatched this. I’m starting to question my memory as I had this all mixed up in my mind with Deadpool 2. Enjoyed this again but am thinking the sequel really upped the humor? Need to rewatch that one too. Still love the foul-mouthed naughty humor. More fun than most the superhero movies, which were getting a bit boring… – 7/10

The Holiday – This isn’t a favorite of mine, although a lot of girls seem to love it. It’s not really for me but I do love Jack Black. The movie is fine. Predictable & cheesy but a nice enough rom-com. I personally relate most to Jack Black’s movie score loving character & liked his job as composer (is it weird I often relate to dudes more in movies?!? Lol). Honestly, though – I couldn’t be less like Cameron Diaz’s character. Mainly I was just like “How much f*^king money do these people MAKE?!” when watching this. Their beautiful homes had to cost absolute fortunes. The movie is okay but, my god, I can’t relate to all that privilege. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds – Watched this musical performance & really liked it. Already knew & liked a couple of the songs. They’re obviously the best songs but I’d happily listen to this full album again. I sooooo miss the ’70s and the big concept albums! Why do we never get cool stuff like that anymore??

BOOKS READ

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – Took a little while to get into this one but then I really liked it. The main character sold it to me. She’s damaged & extremely socially awkward & so likeable in her own strange way by the end. She reminded me a bit of Holly Gibney, a character Stephen King created in Mr. Mercedes and has used in a few books since. I like her in the same way. I think maybe I just relate to socially awkward people. Hooray for the socially awkward! My kind of people. This book is funny at times but also heartbreaking & serious. It’s not a “lightweight” book, which I was thinking it might be. It’s a good book with good characters. I liked it. – 3.5/5

Looking For Alaska by John Green – This is the third John Green book I’ve read now since The Fault In Our Stars & I have to say this and the other one (Paper Towns) were very disappointing after TFIOS. It’s better than Paper Towns but, like that one, the main male character is in love with a somewhat unlikeable Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The girl in this is luckily not as utterly hateful as the one in Paper Towns and I liked the overall story & other characters okay. But that’s two in a row where Green has written an annoying girl who is the exact definition of Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Please tell me I just got unlucky reading these two in a row? Because I’d read another book of his if more like The Fault In Our Stars. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The MandalorianSeason 2 – My god. THAT FINAL EPISODE. I loved it so much. Soooo much! That episode made me far happier than any movie has in the past several years. It certainly filled me with more joy than any of the sequel trilogy films. Look how easy it was to please Star Wars fans! How did the sequel trilogy movies get things so wrong?? I have to say I also loved watching the many reaction videos online of people watching that final episode for the first time. So much pure joy (and lots of tears too). Love it. I felt the same way. I won’t “review” The Mandalorian as I don’t really review TV anyway but I think the entire thing has been absolutely brilliant from start to finish. And, like most people, I’m utterly & completely in love with that adorable little green puppet. Greatest character creation in years. Greatest Star Wars character since the original trilogy characters. He’s perfection. And his cuteness will never be topped. Maximum cuteness has now been achieved! Love him. Love this show. Love that some of us had something to help get us through this shitty year. Yes, it’s just a TV show but seeing those reaction videos shows you just how much it helped to lift peoples’ spirits. That’s brilliant filmmaking (TV-making??). I don’t rate TV but, if I did, my overall score would be 9.5/10 for this show so far. It’s THAT good.

The Crown – Season 2 – Not quite as good as season one but I’m still really enjoying this show despite this not normally being my type of thing. It’s very good. Talked a tiny bit more about it HERE.


God I love that cute little face

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I only plan to post my 2020 Top Ten lists & then take a blog break. But I’ll try to do these monthly roundup posts.

Movies I Want To See:

Am very annoyed to have missed so many 2020 UK releases that I really wanted to see. So none of these will be included in my 2020 Top Ten Lists (if they’d make the ten). But these are the movies I still want to see the most of what I missed:

Possessor (big fan of his dad David Cronenberg)
Swallow
The Invisible Man
The Hunt
The Lighthouse
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
Vivarium
Fatman
VFW
Promising Young Woman
Peninsula
Relic
The Lodge
Spontaneous

Would also watch these if recommended (but could live without the Netflix ones & the thought of sitting through Mank doesn’t thrill me):

Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, Unhinged, Proxima, His House, Mank, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Rebecca, The Old Guard, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, The Call, Queen & Slim, On The Rocks, Happiest Season, Underwater, The Rhythm Section, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Blow The Man Down, King Of Staten Island, Black Bear, Run

Any other movies that I missed? Any recommendations from the above lists?

Am very out of touch with movie releases lately! Also find it very hard to keep track of where each of these can be seen thanks to so many streaming services & the U.K. not having access to many of them. I can’t afford multiple services. Do really hate the way things are going when it comes to accessing movies but I suppose that was going to change with the times eventually anyway. But I’m finding it harder & harder to watch the slightly weird & less mainstream stuff I like. It’s kind of destroying my love of film, making it hard to find the energy to run a blog to discuss nothing but a bunch of very “Meh” straight-to-Netflix movies.

Okay, I’ll quit whining about movies. There are far bigger problems in the world now! I just like having the distraction & it’s always been my main hobby but it’s very hard to enjoy anything at the moment with everything going to shit for everyone (except the rich). I hope everyone is staying safe & well in these crazy times. Here’s to a happier 2021. 🙂

Gotta end with a spoiler-free clip of this little guy. So many favorite moments to choose from! Here’s a favorite bit from Season 2. 🥰

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2020

2020 is almost over! But apparently Nostradamus predicted an even worse 2021?? Wonderful! Looking forward to that zombie apocalypse…

Here’s what I watched in November.

MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):

A Whisker Away – Enjoyed this anime film on Netflix, although it clearly wants to be a Ghibli film. Nothing wrong with that, though – who wouldn’t want their film to be as good as Studio Ghibli?? It’s about a girl who switches places with a cat sometimes, enabling her to be close to and get to know the boy she has a crush on. It’s a decent story even if it’s somewhat predictable (at least as far as anime movies go – maybe not so predictable if you haven’t seen a lot of anime). I’d probably have liked it more if it wasn’t a bit similar to the Ghibli film The Cat Returns, which I’d recommend before this but both were enjoyable & worth a watch. I have to say, though, why the hell are teenage girls in Japanese anime romance movies so damn emotional?? Good god – they’re high maintenance! Not really complaining, though, as I’m used to that now & find it kind of endearing. The girl in this is likeable in that noisy & dramatic anime-teen kind of way. Cute film. I liked it. Is it as good as Ghibli or a film by Mamoru Hosoda or Makoto Shinkai? Of course not, but I’d watch more from the makers of A Whisker Away. – 7/10

Color Out Of Space – Not sure how to review this. I’m a very big fan of Richard Stanley’s Hardware (I never shut up about it – my review is HERE). So I was very excited about this one, especially as it looked weird & beautiful and Nicolas Cage is finally growing on me thanks to the wonderfully batshit Mandy and it’s based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. It sounded like it would be right up my alley! Suppose I was hoping for some kind of Hardware crossed with Mandy crossed with Re-Animator film with this one. It’s nothing like them other than it being weird as shit. Yay! I love weird as shit! Not entirely sure what was going on here. Is it about how we’re ruining the environment? Maybe. I guess there’s some sort of message. Wanted to love this one like Mandy & Hardware but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It starts out veeeery slow until finally going WHAT THE FUCK near the end. Then it got good. Enjoyed the final bit of the movie even though I’m not entirely sure what point the film was trying to make. And I loved the pinky purple colors I’d seen in all the images of this movie – it was lovely and I wanted more of it. I… think I liked this movie? Even if I didn’t love it. But I think it’ll grow on me, just like Mandy did – I started out not sure how I felt about Mandy but now consider one of my favorites of the past decade. As I always say, I watch way too many movies & far too many are boring & forgettable. I like when a movie is unpredictable or shocking. I’m not sure if I can say Color Out Of Space is a good movie, but I’ll certainly never forget it. I appreciate that. – 7/10

Dark Waters – Good film about an EVIL CORPORATION. I hate EVIL CORPORATIONS!! Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “The story dramatizes Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals.” So, yeah, they poisoned an entire town & loads of people got ill and some died and it’s a true story & I hate that money has power & is valued more than human life & I hate EVIL CORPORATIONS! I don’t tend to watch true story court room dramas much because, yeah, real life shit like this pisses me off so this isn’t my favorite genre. Good story. Decent acting. EVIL FUCKING CORPORATION. – 7/10

Begin Again – Why do I watch so many Keira Knightley movies? She annoys the hell out of me. That’s maybe unfair… I blame her annoying character in Love Actually! Ugh. Anyway – when she’s not doing her usual period dramas, she usually makes the kind of chick flicks I don’t mind. This one was fine. Mark Ruffalo plays a bitter record exec whose interest in his career is magically renewed when he hears Knightley singing some boring singer songwriter bullshit song in some club. The movie is pretty predictable, as most romcoms are, but the ending was somewhat unexpected so that was nice. With these movies, it’s more about the characters and if you buy into them and they were fine in this. I also liked how they decided to go about recording an album, even if it was a little cheesy. Um. Yeah. Pleasant enough romcom but I’ll probably forget most of it in a year. – 6.5/10

The Hurt Locker – Watched this only to get another Best Picture Oscar Winner crossed off my Watchlist. I’ll add it to my full ranked list HERE at some point but it’ll be near the bottom. Meh. It was okay. War movies are admittedly not my favorite but I always end up really liking them when they’re truly good (Full Metal Jacket, The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, etc). Those are classics & truly Oscar-worthy types of films. I’ve found so few modern Oscar winners to be the epic classics that the winners from the past were. And as far as war movies go, there are just so many better than The Hurt Locker yet it’s a Best Picture winner? Nah. It’s okay but not the hard-hitting emotional drama I expect from a war film. And Jeremy Renner’s character is an unlikeable asshole. As it’s dealing with a bomb squad, however, it did have some tense scenes that were probably quite stressful to watch in a cinema. So I’ll give it that. Wish I’d cared about the characters… – 6.5/10

Enola Holmes – This was disappointing. It had some fun moments but I wish it had been better. And is it just me or is Millie Bobby Brown getting a little obnoxious? That’s mean… she’s young. She seems talented so I hope she gets to be in better movies than this one. She did well as its big star, though. Think I’m just maaaaaaybe finally getting bored with the “girl power” thing. It used to be cool. I wanted to be Ellen Ripley! It’s so forced now. Bored with it. Kind of already barely remember this besides Helena Bonham Carter being great as always. Speaking of which, she’s a Suffragette in this and it made me think of her in the film Suffragette. Much better movie. I think, if you have a young daughter, Enola Holmes is a good place to start to get them interested in this sort of thing. I’m sure girls would like Brown’s character. But I think Suffragette would be a great follow-up film. I plan to now watch that one with my daughter as well so she can know a bit more about what it was like for women in that time. – 6/10

Frequencies (aka OXV: The Manual) – I watched this as I loved the sound of the plot (from IMDb): “In an alternate reality, children learn how lucky they will be (their “frequency”), knowledge which shapes their destiny. The unluckiest boy must parse the mysteries of free will in order to pursue his forbidden love of the luckiest girl.” Wish this had been better & that the characters were more likeable. I suppose that’s hard to achieve, though, in a film where the “luckiest girl” and all the lucky people apparently lack emotions for some reason. I admit I got a little confused by the end, so maybe I’m just not smart enough for this movie. But it also felt like a movie that thinks it’s smarter than it actually is. It was a bit boring but I do appreciate the effort put into an ambitious story on a low budget. – 5.5/10

Noelle – Ugh. Was hoping this would be a fun new Christmas movie along the lines of Elf. This makes Elf look like a masterpiece. This was actually embarrassingly bad. How are such rubbish movies with such big name stars being made now?? Shirley MacLaine was in this. How do you go from The Apartment to this?!?! Wow – I’m in a bitchy mood today. As if silly, cheerful Christmas movies need to be Oscar-worthy?? I guess you’ll like this fine if you like Anna Kendrick when she plays her usual sort of chipper character. She’s exactly how you’d expect her to be in this one. I’ll be nice & give it an extra half a point for managing to get MacLaine into this. But go watch A Simple Favor instead if you like Kendrick. Her typical chipper character actually worked brilliantly in a dark comedy. – 5/10

Rewatched:

The Martian – Enjoyed this even more on a rewatch. I really liked the book so think I was a tad harsh on the film just because, well, the movies are rarely as good as the books. But this is a very good film with some great edge-of-your-seat stuff & a character you really want to see survive. Not knowing the ending beforehand must have made this a very exciting watch for others. Has definitely gone up in my estimation. – 7.5/10

Ever After – Yes, I love Drew Barrymore. I grew up with her & try to watch everything she’s in. So I may rate her movies slightly high sometimes but I do think this is a really good variation on the Cinderella story. Still like this one a lot. – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Mandalorian: Season 2 – Think November was up to the Ahsoka episode? God I loved that episode! It was brilliant. And it was only the second best episode this season. Not sure if I’m going to do a full review of The Mandalorian in my December roundup as I don’t think I can put into words how much I’ve loved this show. I’ve enjoyed it far more than any movies in the past couple of years. WHY couldn’t they make the sequel trilogies this good??? Look how easy it was to actually please Star Wars fans! Now even more amazed that they managed to make such a mess of the movies.

The Crown: Season 1 – I admit it – I paid zero attention to the hype around The Crown until I’d heard they started the Diana years. Then I wanted to see it. Didn’t know they’d cover the Princess Diana stuff! Anyway, this show really is very good. Historical dramas aren’t normally my type of thing but I do enjoy them when they’re as good as this. And I think Claire Foy is great as Queen Elizabeth – am not looking forward to whenever it is that they change actresses. Well, I’m someone who is terrible when it comes to history. Always hated the topic for some reason & my knowledge is terrible on anything to do with the Royal family (to be fair, it’s not like I grew up in the U.K. so I can maybe be excused for knowing so little). But it means I’m thoroughly enjoying watching this story. Even though I know there’s a bunch of made-up shit but, hey – they gotta make stuff exciting for viewers…

Avatar: The Last Airbender – The daughter suddenly decided she wanted to watch this as I think a friend at school is a big fan. Never mind that I’ve been telling her for ages that I’d heard it was very good & that we should check it out. Kids! I’m a cool mom, dammit. As if I’d recommend bad stuff! 😉 Anyway, it’s quite good but I’ve stopped fully watching as I don’t have the time to devote to it. I watch an episode here & there when the kid does but she’s devouring it! I can’t keep up. She loves it. I’ll say the characters are strong & very likeable plus it’s an interesting story so I can see why it has devoted fans.

BOOKS READ

Well, I can keep this brief as I didn’t really read anything in November other than several short stories in an Edgar Allan Poe collection I have. I absolutely loved The Masque Of The Red Death when I read it a couple years ago, so have been meaning to read more of his work:

The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar – This was a bit morbid. I like! – 3.5/5

A Descent Into The Maelström – Like The Masque Of The Red Death, this was very descriptive & an enjoyable read. – 3.5/5

The Gold Bug – A fun little treasure hunt story but could have been a bit shorter. And the language used will be considered problematic now so I’m glad I have a copy from before it gets banned or something. – 3/5

MS. Found In A Bottle – A fun pirate ghost story. Did he have a thing for pirates?? Wasn’t expecting two pirate stories from Poe. I prefer the gothic creepy stuff. – 3/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Will try to post my December roundup either end of this week or Monday & then my year-end top ten lists.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2020

Happy December! 2020 is finally almost over! I’ve decided to at least finish out the year on this blog since I only have to post my monthly roundups for October, November & December. I’ll do my usual year-end top ten lists in early January but not sure of any blog plans after that. May just continue these monthly roundups when I have the time. Here’s what I watched in October…

MOVIES WATCHED IN OCTOBER (ranked best to worst):

The Platform – I’ve been extremely disappointed with the majority of movies I’ve seen this year. The Platform was a nice surprise after a crappy year of films. I really liked this – it may be my favorite I’ve seen at home this year. I always appreciate a good concept & seeing something that feels truly original as so many movies are cliché & predictable. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The Platform (Spanish: El hoyo, transl. The Hole) is a 2019 Spanish social science fiction-horror film directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia. The film is set in a large, tower-style “Vertical Self-Management Center”. Its residents, who are switched every 30 days between its many floors, are fed via a platform which, initially filled with food at the top floor, gradually descends through the tower’s levels, stopping for a fixed amount of time on each. The system inevitably leads to conflict, as the residents at the top levels get to eat as much as they can, with each level getting only the leftovers from the previous ones.” Yeah, it’s a bit of a grim dystopian tale but I’m still a fan of this genre despite this real-life dystopian year so I realise it may not be the sort of thing people will want to watch at the moment. But it’s a great story that poses some interesting questions & is well worth the watch on Netflix if you appreciate this sort of story. – 7.5/10

First Man – I liked this more than I was expecting, despite not quite connecting with Damien Chazelle’s films so far. I thought Ryan Gosling was very good playing a complex & quite standoffish Neil Armstrong. I admit to knowing nothing whatsoever of the man’s real life or personality so don’t know how accurate this portrayal was. But I felt for his character & could relate to him in a strange sort of way for a girl who has no desire to even leave her home let alone this planet. I’m sure he didn’t come across as very likeable to some viewers but I felt sorry for him. I’m aloof too! I hope the bracelet part is true but there’s no definite evidence of that from what I could find online. It was a nice, lovely touch. It’s a good film that will only be appreciated if you like good acting & strong characters. Don’t go into it expecting an exciting space travel action movie. – 7.5/10

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – I never thought of watching this film at the time as I wasn’t a fan of the very little I’d seen of Sacha Baron Cohen. But then he talked some real sense when speaking out against Facebook & social media and, hell, I thought maybe I’d watch this after all when everyone was raving about the Borat sequel (which I also watched & will mention next). I thought this movie was pretty damn hilarious. Surprised it had passed me by. Not all of the humor in it was to my taste & some of it was a bit too juvenile. But, hey, I can also appreciate a guy shitting in a bag much to the horror of his uppity dinner hosts. That shit was funny. What I really like is how he uses silly humor to expose some people for the truly awful human beings that they are. Good stuff. I’d happily watch a third film & would absolutely love it if he could manage to expose more of the rich & the famous. But that would of course be difficult now that this character is more well known (as shown in the sequel, when people recognised him at the beginning). – 7/10

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – Also got some good laughs out of this sequel, although I don’t think the comedy or overall story worked as well as in the first film. He’d set his sights much higher here, though, trying to go after Trump’s people & supporters instead of just trying to meet a sexy actress from Baywatch (plus Pamela Anderson was in on it all with the first film). So this will have been a harder stunt to pull off but he still did well to fool a lot of people. And, hey – I think a certain guy is horrible but also think he WAS tucking in his shirt. Still plenty of funny stuff in this one too, though, and the development of his relationship with his “daughter” was quite sweet (and Maria Bakalova was very funny in that role). – 7/10

The Man From Earth – This was okay. It’s about a college professor who is moving on after several years in his job & his fellow professors insist on a farewell get together at his place. He then proceeds to tell them he’s actually a Cro-Magnon caveman who has been alive for more than 14,000 years. This is one of those talky movies, so avoid if you don’t like movies where the characters just sit around & talk for the entirety of the film. There’s some good conversation, though, as he tries to convince them he’s telling the truth while they ask smart professor-y questions. There’s also some tension as his story goes against the beliefs of some of his friends. I’d like to give it a higher rating, as it’s a smart film that does well with a low budget. I liked it. I’d like to watch the sequel as well, but am disappointed to see it has a low IMDb rating. So maybe I should quit while I’m ahead & watch just this one decent standalone film with an interesting story. – 6.5/10

Hubie Halloween – I liked this, although it’s certainly not my favorite Adam Sandler film (I did a top ten of his movies HERE so I suppose I should add this at some point). Not sure where I’d rank this – maybe around 10th place or so. But I’ve seen way more than ten of his movies so I should rank all of them – Hubie Halloween is probably somewhere in the middle. What I liked about this movie more than anything was 1) the fact that it’s set at Halloween & I want more movies set at Halloween and 2) the inappropriate t-shirts his character’s sweet old mother wears and especially 3) Steve Buscemi. I love Buscemi. I do like Adam Sandler, unlike some snobby people who refuse to admit to ever liking his films. However, I also fully admit that some of his movies are complete & utter shit. Where Sandler does best is when he finds people who make his movies better. Drew Barrymore & Steve Buscemi elevate the Sandler movies they’re in. Too bad Drew wasn’t in this one! Sandler has great chemistry with Drew & Buscemi has ended up being surprisingly hilarious in all of his small Sandler movie roles. Well, Buscemi was great again & the highlight of this film for me (plus it’s a much bigger role than most of his Sandler cameos). My kid was like “Steve Buscemi!” as soon as he came on screen. How many pre-teens get excited over Steve Buscemi, let alone even know who he is?? I’m a cool movie parent. – 6/10

Before I Go To Sleep – Meh. I like a good thriller but this one got a bit too silly at the end (although the twist was okay even if a bit predictable – I love a twist). I just read something recently where someone was like “Oh look – it’s Nicole Kidman playing a woman in a bad marriage again!” My god, she really does love this sort of role. Although you don’t know in this case if she IS in a bad marriage or not as you have no idea who to trust (she’s a woman who was attacked in the past & wakes up every day not able to remember anything). So it’s like 50 First Dates without the fun. – 5.5/10

The Haunted Mansion – Finally decided to check this one out. It’s… Fine. I’m sure it’s a favorite film for some who were kids at the right sort of age when this came out. But I only saw this two months ago & am already forgetting it. Safe & fun but forgettable family film. – 6/10

Freaked – Yeah…. With the release of Bill & Ted Face The Music, I figured it was finally time to watch this Alex Winter film I somehow managed to miss back in 1993. It’s bad. Very bad. But it’s full-on Troma-level bad (without actually being a Troma film, but I’m too lazy to look into if there are Troma connections as it really does look & feel like a Troma film). I can see why this has its fans in the same way the “so bad they’re bad” Troma movies do. So, like Troma movies, I’m glad I watched this to experience it just one time. And like Troma movies (except maybe The Toxic Avenger, which is the Citizen Kane of Troma), you’d never get me to watch this a second time. Oh! Lovely Keanu Reeves makes an uncredited appearance in this, though. I’ll give it an extra half a point for that. – 5.5/10

Brahms: The Boy II – Well, this was a massive disappointment after really enjoying the first film (which I reviewed HERE). The first film had a solid story (as far as horror goes) & a very ’80s vibe to it. Two things I love: ’80s movies & creepy dolls! The story in this sequel gets really dumb & kind of undoes the simplicity of the story in the first movie. Yet another pointless horror remake. – 5/10

Tales Of Halloween – Wow. This was absolutely dreadful. It’s a collection of short “Halloween” tales (obviously). I love a good horror anthology (Trick ‘ r Treat & Dead Of Night, for example). Watch those instead. Besides the very first story (I think) being a fucked-up but fun tale of a boy wanting his Halloween candy back, the rest are silly & ridiculous. A waste of time. – 3/10

Shorts, etc:

– Birth Of A Monster: A Star Wars Story – Wasn’t sure where to put this in the post as it’s a short on YouTube. It’s a DAMN good Star Wars fan film that I’d recommend to every Star Wars lover. God, even fan films are doing a better job with Star Wars than the “professionals” did with the damn sequel trilogy! You can watch this film HERE. I don’t really want to say anything about it as I knew nothing going into it & it was a lovely surprise watching this fun Star Wars story unfold. So please check it out if you’re a fan – I think you’ll appreciate it. – 7.5/10

Rewatched In October:

Adventures In Babysitting – This movie will always be a guilty pleasure favorite of mine. Still love it. – 8.5/10

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – It’s a classic. Gene Wilder is fantastic. The songs are incredible, especially Pure Imagination which is on my regular playlist that I listen to every day while working. But I’ve always found it slightly too creepy. I was more of a Wizard Of Oz kid than a Willy Wonka kid. Still am. – 7.5/10

Billy Madison – More Adam Sandler! Again, I’d probably rank this somewhere in the middle but higher than Hubie Halloween. And, again, we get a brilliant Steve Buscemi cameo. I’d actually forgotten that bit as I hadn’t watched this in years. Hilarious! Think it’s my favorite Buscemi cameo after drunk Wedding Singer Buscemi. How many times can I say Buscemi in this month’s post?? – 6.5/10

Monster House – This is one of those where I remember really liking it at the time but, on a rewatch, it’s not as good as I remembered. The animation just isn’t good enough compared to films we’ve had since. But, hey – Steve Buscemi is in it! I said Buscemi again! Am sure that will be part of the reason why I liked it at the time. It’s still a decent family movie, though, and was worth the rewatch. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN OCTOBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

I didn’t make note of anything here in October but I think season 2 of The Mandalorian started in October?? Well, as I’m now writing this in December I’ve already seen the final episode. Oh. My. God. I’m not sure I can even put into words how much I absolutely loved it. Guess I’ll have to try in my December post! As for episode 1 in October, it was great with an exciting glimpse at the end of the episode. A very strong start to an absolutely brilliant series.

BOOKS READ

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Not going to do some in-depth review of this. I’m not exactly qualified when I stick mainly to Stephen King & YA novels! Yes, Frankenstein is an all-time classic and I really liked reading the full story as I only knew some bits & pieces from film adaptations. The story is actually quite different from interpretations I’ve seen. But was it a fun read for me? Not gonna lie – reading a book written in 1818 was a challenge. Took me ages to read it but, hey, I can’t afford the newest Stephen King book so had to read something. Brilliant story, I love that it was written by an 18-year-old girl, and Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t as innocent as adaptations had led me to believe. It’s a great novel but reading it was a bit of a slog. – 4/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Am hoping to post my November roundup before the end of the year & then my December roundup & year-end top ten lists in early January. Want to continue only these monthly posts in 2021 but need to find a way to make them shorter. Maybe I need to watch fewer movies… Less to have to write about that way! 🙂

Guess the song I should end with for this roundup is Pure Imagination…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2020

Well, I’ve almost caught up on these monthly roundups. I now have to attempt to remember & review what I watched in September. I’m happy that it appears I didn’t watch much that month, so I don’t have to blather on for ages. Here we go…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Bill & Ted Face The Music – Ah! This was the Bill & Ted month!! This was my most-anticipated movie of probably the past ten years. Seriously – I’m a big Bill & Ted fan. The first movie especially is fantastic. Will forever love these characters & think the films are clever as hell & the comedy is truly funny (while still managing to be PG-type comedy – it’s possible to be hilarious and wholesome!). Only saw this one once, so want to see it again to know better how I feel. It gave me warm fuzzies seeing these dudes again. There was a bit of worry that the daughters would be the main focus & they’d cast Bill & Ted aside (like the Star Wars sequel films I’m liking less & less as time goes by). But, no, Bill & Ted were luckily still the true stars. The daughters were still given plenty to do, although it would’ve been nice to see them with their fathers a bit more. I wasn’t really feeling the daughter characters, though? They didn’t fit quite right for me. (Sorry!). But, as I said, I need to see it again. They might grow on me. The film is definitely not perfect. It was NEVER going to live up to the first film, though. But it’s not as good as Bogus Journey, either, which I still thoroughly enjoy but will never love in the same way. But, hey – Who cares? We got to see two of my favorite movie characters back together again, which put a big smile on my face (as well as on the kid’s & the hubby’s). It was the kind of movie this crappy year needed. – 7/10

Mulan – This was a lovely film to look at but, overall, disappointing compared to how much I think I’d hyped it up in my mind. I just thought the trailer made it look like it could be amazing but it sadly didn’t live up to that. Before that trailer, I’d decided to give up on watching any more live-action Disney remakes of their animated classics. They’re pointless. It’s Disney being greedy & it’s bullshit. Beauty And The Beast was such a waste of time (with a horrible Belle) so I didn’t bother with Aladdin (looked shit) or The Lion King (no reason whatsofuckingever to remake that). But the daughter really likes the animated Mulan and, yeah, this looked so good in the trailer. We still enjoyed it, though. Think the kid was just disappointed at how different it was from the animated film but I kind of prefer when they make it a lot different. I don’t see the point of making an exact copy. That’s why I kind of appreciated Tim Burton’s Dumbo despite its definite flaws. I think the characters were just a bit weak in the live-action Mulan. They were… dull. Lovely film, some decent action, dull characters. Disappointing. But it made me appreciate the animated film a bit more. Mulan is always a bit overlooked. – 6.5/10

Countdown – I enjoyed this basic, utterly predictable horror film. It’s about an app that people download that tells them exactly how long they have left to live. So, of course, those who don’t have long to live according to the app die as soon as their time runs out. And, of course, a pretty young blonde medical student downloads it & finds out she has only days to live and must find a way to “cheat death”. Not gonna lie – this movie totally rips off Final Destination. But I always liked the simple setup of that film and thought it made for a really good story (and they were obviously able to use it over & over & over again). It doesn’t work as well in Countdown & gets far too silly at the end but it’s still an enjoyable film thanks to some entertaining characters in the smaller roles. It’s not the best in the genre but I’ve seen far worse. It was exactly what I was expecting so I wasn’t disappointed. – 6/10

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – How do I go about reviewing this?! I can’t. It’s a Charlie Kaufman film & you like his work or you don’t. I do for the most part, although none of the films he’s written are exactly all-time favorites of mine. I’m trying to not use the word pretentious here! It’s hard. Do I prefer this sort of film to some dumb popcorn movie like Countdown? Definitely. But these types of movies aren’t always enjoyable. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind & Being John Malkovich were enjoyable. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things was a bit of a slog to get through. I appreciate that stuff like this gets made & I was intrigued & I do like a bit of “what the fuck is going on?!”. There’s plenty of WTF in this. Especially at the end, where it gets weird as shit. I preferred the full-on weirdness at the end. But the first two thirds of the film carry on for what felt like HOURS. Good god. I sat through all of that to find out there’s a pretty simple explanation to the whole damn thing. Oh, and no one was very likeable. That never helps either. An interesting watch but not a fun one. – 6.5/10

Mikey – Enjoyed this one much more. I’m so classy! Was this a good film? No. It was cheesy but fun & I liked seeing so many recognisable faces from that time. It’s a horror movie from 1992 that I’m not even sure was released (the rating says “Rejected” on IMDb. What does that mean??) about a young boy who is a psycho killer. What can I say? I love movies with evil children. The Omen is a big favorite (not that this is even close to being as good as that). Cute little Brian Bonsall plays the psychopath. Ha! Remember him from Family Ties?! This is no wholesome TV show – he truly is a crazy fucker. This also starred Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser fame (actually thought she was a good character in this cheesy horror) & Lyman Ward of “Ferris Bueller’s dad” fame. And Josie Bissett of Melrose Place which I never watched. And Mimi Craven who I just read was Wes Craven’s wife at the time. So, the Craven & Hellraiser horror connections are cool. I read that this movie is still banned to this day in the U.K. (how did I see it on Amazon Prime U.K., then?!). Sadly, I know why it was banned at that time so that’s completely understandable. – 6/10

I See You – This was decent. Preferred how it started out to how it ended but liked the completely unpredictable turn it took. I appreciate that as the majority of horror films’ plots fail to surprise me in any way. But this is one of those movies that sort of switches genres halfway through & the mysterious horror at the start is more my type of thing. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “It follows a suburban family beset by unexplainable events that may be linked to the recent disappearance of a young boy.” And that really tells you nothing about this movie… Worth a watch if you like a crime horror that keeps you guessing. – 6/10

Time Trap – This was a strange one. Where I said that I See You changes its genre, this film is just kind of all over the place. It’s really just sci-fi, I guess. I don’t know how to review or rate this. Overall, I liked it. The characters were decent, especially the younger boy with this group, so that helps me to like a movie. They weren’t that well-developed, though. And that ending was so cheesy! At least like I See You, it was unpredictable. I like that. Oh, it’s about a group of students who go looking for their missing professor in a cave & get stuck there in some kind of time loop thingy or something. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai – Oh my god! Was it September when I finally watched Cobra Kai? I loved it SO much!!! The nostalgia! I’m a sucker for ’80s references & the writers have done brilliantly mixing Eighties culture with modern teens & I love how they clash in funny ways. Johnny clearly being stuck in his glory days & listening to all his ’80s music & not understanding woke culture & social media is hilarious. And Johnny mentioned Trapper Keepers! Ha! Adorable. Speaking of Johnny, how have they made all of us middle-aged women have a crush on that complete dickhead from The Karate Kid?! What I like is that they got the balance perfect in this show. They focus on the adults as much as the teens and it really feels aimed at Generation X just as much as at current teens. I can see why it has done so well (review-wise, anyway – I have no idea what the viewing figures are). I have very little time for TV shows but I binged these episodes before starting work every day (also helped that each are between 30-40 minutes long). I seriously can’t wait for the next series. In some ways, I think I enjoy it even more than The Mandalorian. Take The Child out of that & I’d choose Cobra Kai. But I’m so happy to finally have two shows I really love.

America’s Got Talent – Meh. I hate reality shows but they’re the right kind of mindless crap you can stick on while eating & not really pay attention to. The “talent” on this series was worse than ever. It was odd, though, as it had to be done without an audience & socially distanced. A lot of performances were via video. I’ll forgot 99% of the people who were in this like I always do. Prefer the singing talent shows but those are forgettable too.

Marvel’s Runaways – Watched two episodes. Not feeling it but the daughter likes it okay. Forgot we started this, actually. Suppose we’ll try another episode sometime.

BOOKS READ

Final Girls by Riley Sager – This crime mystery horror thriller might be a bit of fluff but I think it would make for a really good slasher flick with a decent “whodunnit” plot. I’d definitely watch that movie! The characters are a bit hateful but, hey, so are most slasher movie characters. Had fun with this one – it was a real page-turner as I wanted to find out what was going on. I’m impatient when it comes to whodunnits & always read them quickly. It gets a bit silly at the end but I don’t mind that with this sort of thing. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “FIRST THERE WERE THREE. The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma. THEN THERE WERE TWO. But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or… CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE? All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.” – 3/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’m going to try to finish out the year with my October, November & December roundup posts then my usual Year End Top Ten lists. Will seem strange to list so few movies I actually saw in a cinema in 2020…

In tribute to Cobra Kai, I have to end this post with You’re The Best by Joe Esposito from The Karate Kid. Motherf*^kin’ montage!

Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2020

Hi All. I’ll try to keep this one short. I just feel like I have to finish out this year by posting these monthly updates but they’re exhausting to put together. Here’s what I watched & read in August…

MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):

Meet Me In St. Louis – First of all, I’ve been a big The Wizard Of Oz fan since I was a young girl. However, I wouldn’t say I was a Judy Garland fan as that was the only movie I’d ever really seen her in. I was always curious about this one. Well, I became even more interested after seeing Renee Zellweger as Garland in the film Judy. I liked that movie a lot & figured it was finally time to watch another Judy Garland film. It’s a fun film. But I don’t think it will make it onto any “top ten musicals” lists I might do (yes, I did my top ten movie musicals HERE). The main problem is that, other than the thoroughly enjoyable The Trolley Song, the rest of the songs just aren’t very memorable. But Garland is delightful & she really did have that special sort of star power that I wish more performers had. She also had a cheeky little brat of a younger sister in this – I liked how feisty that girl’s character was. They were the best two characters by far, though – no one else really stood out and the story was a little weak. But I’d happily watch more of Garland’s work now. – 7.5/10

The Peanut Butter Falcon – I liked this quirky little feelgood movie much more than I was expecting to. I was reluctant to watch it as I really dislike both Dakota Johnson & Shia LaBeouf. They were good in this, though, so I have no complaints. But the real star is Zack Gottsagen as the young man who escapes from his care home to go in search of his favorite professional wrestler. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “Its plot follows a young man with Down syndrome (Gottsagen) who escapes from an assisted living facility and befriends a wayward fisherman on the run (LaBeouf); as the two men form a rapid bond, a social worker (Johnson) attempts to track them.” As to be expected with this sort of film, the focus is on the characters & you get to know them as you go on this journey with them. I always care about having strong characters in a film more than anything else & you want nothing more than to have Gottsagen’s character’s pro wrestling dream come true. He & LaBeouf had good chemistry & their unusual friendship worked well in the movie. A very pleasant film. This horrible year needs more pleasant films! – 7.5/10

Mid90s – I really enjoyed this film too. It’s probably tied with The Peanut Butter Falcon but I ranked that a little higher due to the “feelgood factor” of that film. This was written & directed by Jonah Hill, who obviously wrote about a time period he was very fond of. As much as I’m super proud of being an ’80s kid, my high school years were actually the late ’80s into early ’90s, so I’m also fond of that early to mid-90s time period too (the world turned to shit after that). So I can very much relate to this film despite it being about a bunch of west coast skateboarding dudes (I’m a Midwest girl). If I was about five years younger & had lived on the west coast, I’d probably have hung out with dudes like these back then. I think it’s because the attitudes of that time were similar for everyone in their teens & early twenties no matter where they lived in the States. It was a far simpler time (god I miss it!). The language in this is sweary as fuck (fuck yes!). You could swear back then & say offensive things. There’s a character whose nickname is “Fuckshit”. These boys swear a lot & do naughty things & are completely likeable (except for the bully older brother – what an asshole). Again, as I always say, it’s the characters I care about most in a movie. These are good characters. The main boy, young actor Sunny Suljic, was good but I have to agree with the hubby that it was Na-Kel Smith as Ray who really stood out. And he’s been in almost nothing since?! They need to stick him in more movies. He has a great presence. Anyway – I really liked this one. But it does help to be nostalgic for that time period. Oh! And the soundtrack was great too! Music from A Tribe Called Quest & The Pharcyde, among many others. The mid-90s feel like the final years of good music existing. Why is it that absolutely everything sucks now? – 7.5/10

The Wizard – Holy crap! Yet another ’80s/early ’90s movie I somehow never saw & never even heard of?! I said the same when I reviewed Wildflower the other day – I didn’t think there were any movies left from then that I’ve not seen (or at least not heard of). This was fun. I’d have liked it if I’d seen it in 1989. It has obviously not aged quite as well as some, though, as part of the focus of the film is on video games which are very dated now. Christian Slater is in this, too! One of my big crushes from back then. Look at this twat with his game glove thingy. Apparently this was a real thing? I don’t know – I was never a gamer.

This also starred Fred Savage, who I know, and Jenny Lewis, who I’ve never ever heard of. Hubby was like “WTF? You’ve not heard of her? She’s a big music star!” and I was just like “Isn’t she the girl from Troop Beverly Hills?” I badly want to see Troop Beverly Hills again – bet that one really hasn’t aged well! But I had fun watching The Wizard. I rarely dislike movies from that era, especially family films or ones focusing on kids or teens like this one. – 6.5/10

The Deep End Of The Ocean – I mainly watched this as it’s a Michelle Pfeiffer movie I never saw and I like her. I was intrigued by the story too, about a family whose young son is kidnapped and appears 9(?) years later knocking on his family’s door asking if he can mow their lawn. It appears to based on a fictional novel but I’ve always been fascinated (not sure that’s the right word) with true stories of kidnapping or when kids are switched at birth. I can’t stand the thought of it & the emotional trauma for the kids. This movie explores that but not as much as I was expecting. It felt a little “lightweight” for such a dramatic topic. I’m sure it was explored more in the book. It reminds me of a TV movie I watched as a teen that was a true switched at birth story where the families discovered the truth when the two girls were teenagers (after one of them sadly died from an inherited disease). It was heartbreak all around as the biological family fought for custody of a girl who didn’t know them at all and who loved the father she’d grown up with & didn’t want to leave him. Similar happens in this movie. It’s a good story with decent acting but, speaking of TV movies, it has a very TV movie feel to it. Maybe because this kind of story is such a Hallmark Channel type of film? I like that sort of thing when in the mood. I don’t normally go for Hallmark type “drama”, though. – 6.5/10

The Call – Again, a story about kidnapping. This stars Halle Berry as a 911 operator who takes a call from kidnapped teenager Abigail Breslin (calling from the trunk, or boot if you’re British, of her kidnapper’s car). This actually started out as a really good, fast-paced thriller as Berry does what she can to help keep the girl calm while also trying to think of ways to help her escape. Good edge-of-your-seat type stuff. Unfortunately, the movie takes a nose dive at the end when the characters do the stupid sort of things that only people in movies do. As much as I LOVE a good revenge thriller, it went a little overboard at the end. Still enjoyed the film & its intensity overall, though. – 6.5/10

The Nightingale – Fucking hell. This one was GRIM. I watched it as I absolutely loved director Jennifer Kent’s film The Babadook. I suppose it’s a good film with good acting but it’s just not my type of thing. At all. I don’t need to watch stuff like this & lose even more faith in humanity. Filled with violence, a lot of rape, death, and truly horrible, evil people. Watch it if you like a very gritty drama where even some revenge doesn’t give you any satisfaction as a viewer, as no one ends up any better off by the end of this film. – 6/10

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – Awful. I don’t have much more to say than that. And, sorry, but Sophie Turner is a dreadful actress. I’ve spent lockdown watching all things X-Men since my daughter has become a big fan. I love the characters. I wish the movies were as good as the characters. This movie is the worst of them all. – 5/10

Work It – Bloody hell – Forgot that the kid put on this teen dance flick one night. It was fine as far as teen dance flicks go so I’m sure younger girls like it just fine. It’s no Save The Last Dance, though! That was much better. Even Honey was better (and that’s not exactly great). Meh. Stars Sabrina Carpenter. Think she’s one of these Nickelodeon or Disney kids (or something). – 5/10

Freaks – Watched this 2018 supernatural horror on Netflix since I liked the sound of it & am a fan of that genre. I hated it. It started out strong, but… Well, this is one of those where I’m not sure why I hated it. I think it’s because the characters were so unlikeable. You start out rooting for the girl but by the end you don’t care what happens to her. Why should a viewer care what happens to hateful characters? Shame, as it was intriguing at the start… – 4.5/10

Movies Rewatched In August

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – This was such a great series of films. Have started rewatching them again & think I enjoyed this one even more the second time around. – 8/10

The Legend Of Billie Jean – Clearly, I love the ’80s & have already mentioned in my review of The Wizard above that I had a crush on Christian Slater. Although I think I had a far bigger crush on Helen Slater in this one… Love her character & freaking love that Pat Benatar song in this (Invincible). I want to go back to 1985. – 7.5/10

13 Going On 30 – This one is a guilty pleasure. It always puts a smile on my face when it’s on & I liked rewatching it with my daughter. I was 30 when this came out & could relate 100% to the 30-year-old as well as the 13-year-old in 1987. Kind of love this movie even though it’s a little cheesy. But we don’t get these sort of family-friendly comedies anymore. What’s with that?! Oh, and a Pat Benatar song is featured in this movie too. Hell yeah! She ruled the ’80s. And The Talking Heads – still love them too. – 7.5/10

Daredevil – Hey, Jennifer Garner again! Preferred her in 13 Going On 30 – she was perfect for that sort of role. Watched this again as the kid is very into superheroes lately. The less mainstream ones, though – she’s not into the big MCU stuff as much. She never wants to like the most popular stuff! Absolutely refuses to ever read or watch Harry Potter as too many kids her age love it. Actually, that’s cool… She’s cooler than me. Anyway, the worst thing about this is that Ben Affleck is in it. I hate Affleck. Far prefer Garner! Did he dump her? Can’t remember. Anyway, the movie itself isn’t great but also isn’t exactly the worst superhero movie ever. There have been far worse. I’m just SO bored with superhero movies… – 6/10

Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! – Ha! Oh yeah – forgot we all rewatched this one. Hey, I like Pikachu. So sue me. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King – Been wanting to read this for years as I really liked the TV show Haven which I knew was only very loosely based on this book. Loosely was an understatement! It just happens to be set in the same small town in Maine. That’s the only true link. At least I think it was Maine. It’s a King book – it must be Maine! It’s set in small-town fishing village Maine & I think I want to live out my elderly years in StephenKingesque small-town Maine. I read too much King. This is one of his non-horrors and I really liked it. I often like his non-horrors where the focus is on good characters, and they were pretty well developed ones for what was a pretty short book. It’s not as good as the other one in this Hard Case Crime series, though (Joyland). Joyland was great! But I’d recommend both to King fans. – 3.5/5

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – This was disappointing compared to Rowell’s book Eleanor & Park. That was some good YA. Not sure this one is YA? Is it still YA when the main couple are married thirty-somethings (with flashbacks to their college days due to a magic time-travelling phone)? I read it because I liked what it was about: A woman may have a chance to save her marriage when she realises that an old landline phone she’s using is calling her now-husband back when they were in their twenties & first dating. Great concept but I didn’t care much for the characters & the ending seemed a bit cheesy & rushed. It was okay but Eleanor & Park was much better. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Umbrella Academy – Started watching this but as of November I’ve still only seen a couple of episodes. Ended up too busy with the fantastic Cobra Kai & The Mandalorian! Do really like The Umbrella Academy so far, though, and want to get back to it. Great first episode & my kind of weird. So far. But I’m used to things on Netflix taking a big dump after Season 1 (like Stranger Things did).

X-Men (The Animated Series) – Can’t say I watched this at the time as it started when I was in my late teens/early twenties, so it wouldn’t have been on my radar. But as I said above, my daughter has suddenly become a big X-Men fan so we’ve started watching this. It’s good! I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Hell, it’s better than most of the movies. Dammit – Can they just start over on the movies and make some really good ones finally?! They’re just getting worse & worse. Oh, and the theme song for this show is super catchy! Gets stuck in my head for days after watching some episodes. I miss ’80s & ’90s cartoons. They were the best! (Although Gumball was pretty awesomely weird for a more modern cartoon…)

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I suppose I’ll attempt to post my September & October monthly roundup posts next week before my 8th blogiversary at the end of the week. I always put a blogiversary post together but am not sure I have the energy this year. I may just do a roundup post of my favorite movies I’ve watched in 2020.

I’ll once again end my post with good music from a movie I watched. There was a lot of good movie music in August. All that Pat Benatar! And the music in Mid90s! Let’s go with Pat Benatar’s Invincible from The Legend Of Billie Jean…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2020

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched In July:

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

BOOKS READ

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

The Taking by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz books. They’re a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I ranked them all HERE once. Well, I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2020

Looks like June was the month when I watched some actual “new releases”. Must admit I’m missing my pretty-much-weekly trip to the cinema but I have no plans on going back to one anytime soon. So I better get used to crappy straight-to-Netflix movies…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Okay, I’m not going to pretend this is in any way a good movie. But I quite liked it. Am I just desperate for new releases?! I have to say that I can’t imagine Americans enjoying this movie in the same way. I think you have to see the real Eurovision every year to fully appreciate just how delightfully cheesy & ridiculous it is. It’s especially entertaining to live in the UK & watch the UK entry get almost no votes every year because all the other countries hate the UK (there’s a joke about this in the movie that gave us a good laugh).

I think this movie did the real contest justice. It seems like your usual over-the-top Will Ferrell comedy but, honestly, he hasn’t really exaggerated what the show is like. Ferrell is a big fan of Eurovision and I think the movie manages to show his love for it while at the same time lovingly making fun of it. In the end, it’s a sweet story and the final half of the movie makes up for a slow start. And, hell, the songs are pretty good! Maybe a little too good. Much better than most the shit in the real Eurovision. Ferrell is goofy as always (his films are hit or miss for me) and Dan Stevens & Pierce Brosnan are fun additions but I think Rachel McAdams is the best thing about the movie. Her more subtle comedy works well with Ferrell’s usual craziness (liked her in Game Night too). The movie is silly & it won’t be winning any Oscars but it’s one of the first-time watches from all of lockdown that I enjoyed the most. Jaja Ding Dong! – 7/10

The Vast Of Night – I really liked this movie as well, although I wanted to like it even more as I think they did a great job with it. I respect it. I always appreciate a good low-budget sci-fi where you can tell that the filmmakers have truly put their hearts into making the movie. Let’s give them credit: This movie was written by Andrew Patterson (under the pseudonym of James Montague) & Craig W Sanger. Based on this, I’d love to see what sort of a big budget film they could make in this genre. But, to be fair, the slow-paced low-budget indie-movie style perfectly suits this innocent 1950’s small American town setting. I don’t think a big, glossy Hollywood movie would have captured this town in the same way. I think I’m also a fan of “small town Americana” movies as I grew up in such a small town myself.

I thought they especially did a good job adding all the small details to make this one feel like it really was taking place in the 1950s. I have a lot of affection for that time period and that whole “UFO paranoia” thing as I grew up on the original The Twilight Zone. The movie is clearly influenced by that & introduces the story in a Rod Serling/Twilight Zone way that gave me warm fuzzies. I do think this is a very well made indie sci-fi with two strong main characters but also know it’s absolutely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb if you’re interested: “In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, young switchboard operator Fay and charismatic radio DJ Everett discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.” FYI: This movie is on Amazon Prime. I highly recommend this movie to old school ’50s sci-fi fans. But probably only to those people. It’s a shame the film may not get as much recognition due to being such a specific sub genre.

Also a quick mention of another good low-budget movie this reminded me of (not sure why) but in the horror genre: Pontypool. Bizarre movie but a great concept. It just gave me a similar vibe, but The Vast Of Night is a better film. I’m happy I happened to see TVON mentioned on Twitter (by Robert Englund – What?! Freddy Krueger?!?). Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known about it. Thanks, Freddy! – 7/10

Extraction – Not gonna lie: I 100% watched this for Chris Hemsworth. This isn’t my type of genre AT ALL so I wouldn’t have bothered if hottie Chris wasn’t in it. However, even though I don’t like this genre, I occasionally like the movies if they’re good enough. The likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger & Sylvester Stallone made plenty of this type of thing in my precious ’80s & I definitely liked some of those. But Extraction isn’t good enough. It’s… Forgettable. As in: I saw this only two months ago but don’t remember enough to write about it. Um… I think I remember Chris, like, sitting at the bottom of a lake & meditating (as you do)? And I remember the boy being likeable enough for you to want The Hems to save him. And I remember a ridiculous final scene (that I kind of liked as I thought this movie needed to be MORE ridiculous than it actually was – it would have made it more fun). Meh. At least I got to watch Chris Hemsworth in a new movie. – 6/10

My Spy – I shouldn’t be “reviewing” this as I slept through a good chuck of it. But it was so predictably predictable that sleeping through some of it made no difference. Anyway – I don’t know why but I’ve seen a lot of this weird genre (tough action movie guy doing a family film with a bunch of kids). When did this become a thing?? Because I kind of like these stupid films. I blame that on Kindergarten Cop. Kindergarten Cop rules. All I expect from these films is for them to have a few laughs, to have a cheesy heartwarming moment, and for the kid(s) to be somewhat likeable (or at least cheeky without being overly annoying). This movie fulfils the requirements well enough. Dave Bautista is fine as the latest big muscle-y dude to do this sort of film but the girl, Chloe Coleman, is the star. I can see her easily getting more roles after this. This movie is meh but at the better end of this genre. Not as good as Kindergarten Cop but thankfully much better than Tooth Fairy… – 6/10

As Above, So Below – This was disappointing. I have a fascination with the catacombs in Paris. I’ve been there and walking through row upon row of skulls & bones is a pretty freaky experience so I can see why it has inspired horror movies. But they have yet to make a good horror movie set there. There was a truly dreadful 2007 movie called Catacombs, starring Shannyn Sossamon & Pink, that I would never recommend to anyone. I actually bought that stupid DVD just because I’d been wanting a horror movie to be set in the catacombs. From what I remember, though, it did at least manage to be a little creepy.

As Above, So Below is certainly the better film of the two but it’s such a weird mishmash of genres that it just didn’t work for me. And it’s not creepy enough. I think a movie with this setting needs to be pure horror but this movie had a sort of Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider thing mixed in with the horror. And then some weird supernatural stuff which is something I normally love but was just too dumb in this case. And the characters were okay but extremely underdeveloped while our lead girl was a tad unlikeable (although the actress was fine). Oh, it’s also a “found footage” film, which not everyone likes (I don’t mind found footage). Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It is presented as found footage of a documentary crew’s experience exploring the Catacombs of Paris and was loosely based on the seven layers of Hell.” Oh yeah – there’s some weird religious stuff going on & ancient artefacts & that kind of shit. I wanted to like this movie but the weird Lara Croft thing going on with the main girl was just awkward. I guess I was expecting a more straightforward horror film but I also give the movie credit for trying to do something a little different. – 5.5/10

Rewatched:

The Wedding Singer – This is a favorite of mine & by far Adam Sandler’s best movie. I know he has a lot of bad ones but The Wedding Singer is genuinely good. And he has great chemistry with Drew Barrymore (love her). I mean, my username comes from this movie. Still think I was brave to use an Adam Sandler reference on a movie blog! I obviously like this movie even more because of Drew but the ’80s setting & great soundtrack help a lot as well. Steve Buscemi is hilarious. Rapping granny is adorable. And don’t you talk to Billy Idol that way! Plus I’ll always love the mutants at table 9. – 8/10

Never Been Kissed – More Drew Barrymore! Rewatched this one with the kid. I’ve always found this movie very “sweet”. And Josie Grossy is still fun to say. And Michael Vartan was a cute “hot teacher”. And I like the ending because I DO occasionally like girly romantic stuff. – 7.5/10

Turner & Hooch – Rewatched this with the kid as well. It’s a fun family film & I miss the days when they made so many films in this genre. Where have all the decent family films gone?! Anyway – the movie has aged pretty well. I still love a good “dog buddy” comedy. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

MUSIC LISTENED TO

I’ve listened to no “new” music the past couple of months… Can anyone recommend a good new album??? Or, better yet, a good old album since 90% of current music sucks? I’m bored.

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – As I’ve said in every recent post, it took me months to read this but I finally finished in June. I said I’d review it in my June post but… I can’t do it! How the hell do you go about reviewing Dune?? It’s a loooong book and a lot happens. I enjoyed it very much, yes, but not enough to read the rest of the books (which I’ve heard aren’t as good anyway). I’m really looking forward to the Denis Villeneuve adaptation now, though, as I love his films. I’m especially wanting to see how Rebecca Ferguson does as Lady Jessica as she was my favorite character. I think she should do well as I thought she was great in Doctor Sleep. By the way – Lady Jessica kicks ass (for those wanting more strong female characters in books & film). Oh, and apparently the film is only covering half of this first book?? Bloody hell. Well, I don’t have time to continue reading these tomes but do like the story so am hoping for an epic series of films from Villeneuve. – 4/5

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

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

A creepy supernatural story about a rock band? Totally my type of thing! I wanted to like this one more than I did, however. Only Philip Tonka, the band’s front man, gets any character development. The story also doesn’t give much of a resolution if that sort of thing bothers you (I don’t mind that so much, especially with supernatural stories, as I like to sometimes have things left to my own imagination). What the story does have, though, is a lot of originality. It also has a good “vibe”. I don’t know how else to describe that but, especially with his Ghastle And Yule short story, I felt like I was there & could easily picture everything that was happening. Based on what I’ve read of Malerman’s so far, I’ll definitely be reading more. His stories are unusual & completely unpredictable. I like that. I need more of that. I just want to like his characters a bit more. Likeable characters are always a big thing for me. By the end of Bird Box, I still didn’t like the main character. I want to care about the fate of at least one character… (I should point out that Ghastle And Yule aren’t likeable either but they’re not meant to be. They’re just great characters). – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

It looks like I watched no TV in June other than catching up on the latest season of annoying Grey’s Anatomy. Ugh.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’ll hopefully post my July roundup post by the end of August. Then post my August roundup in September. I have no blog plans beyond doing monthly roundup posts. Life is too busy at the moment, even with being stuck at home.

I should end this post with a song from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. But I’d rather post one from The Wedding Singer soundtrack. Woohoo! Eighties!! Here’s Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2020

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rewatched:

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

X-Men – Yay! – 7.5/10

X-Men 2 – Yay too! – 7.5/10

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

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

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

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

X-Men: The Last Stand – Hmm – 6.5/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC & BOOKS

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2020

Hi again. Hope everyone is still safe & well. I’ve managed to put another post together, this time looking back at what I watched, read & listened to way back in April…

MOVIES WATCHED IN APRIL (ranked best to worst):

Crimson Peak – I do love a gothic horror and, while none of Guillermo del Toro’s films are personal favorites of mine, I did like The Shape Of Water & think Pan’s Labyrinth is a brilliant & visually stunning film. So I’m not sure what took me so long to check out Crimson Peak as it’s the type of thing I enjoy. And I did definitely enjoy it despite it not being perfect. The story is fine but the atmosphere & the look are what I care about in this type of film and Crimson Peak didn’t disappoint in that department. Loved that creepy dilapidated mansion! I couldn’t find many great images to use for this post but that could be because the movie is quite dark & still images don’t do it justice. I have to say the most disappointing thing in this film are its stars. I’ve never liked Jessica Chastain’s acting & she was as bad as always. I also find Tom Hiddleston a bit bland, although his character was okay, and I’ll never get why Mia Wasikowska became so big when she’s so boring (although this role was perfect for her, so I didn’t mind her in this). But I don’t care that much about who stars in a movie, although it’s an added bonus when it’s actors I do really like. So the stars didn’t ruin this film for me anyway. It’s a pretty straightforward ghost story and a tad predictable but it’s still a solid “haunted house” film with some great imagery. Overall, though, it’s disappointing compared to Guillermo del Toro’s other films. But we can’t expect Pan’s Labyrinth every time. – 7/10

Dreamgirls – Not sure why I missed this one when it was out. I really liked this & Jennifer Hudson was worthy of her Oscar. I didn’t know anything whatsoever about the musical & didn’t think I knew any of the songs but it turns out that I did know And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going. Good song but those reality show contestants sing it too often! But I suppose that’s okay since it’s how Hudson became famous. Anyway, I love the Motown era and thought this was a really good look at that ’60s into ’70s time period and the rise to fame of a girl group very clearly meant to resemble The Supremes. The songs were good & it was fun hearing ones so closely resembling acts such as The Jackson 5. I have to say that the movie isn’t exactly deep but the characters are good & it’s an enjoyable film. Definitely recommend it to music lovers and anyone interested in a lightweight fictional look at the Motown record industry. It made me want to watch a good documentary about Motown. – 7/10

Captain Fantastic – Enjoyed this as well, although I have to be in the right kind of mood for “quirky indie drama with good performances”. I often like these type of films but sometimes I absolutely hate them & find them phoney & pretentious. Captain Fantastic is a good film & Viggo Mortensen was deserving of his Best Actor Oscar nomination. As with most movies like this, I couldn’t in any way relate to these characters with a very different sort of lifestyle but the film did well in making you care about them and wanting the best possible life for them. The question is what is the best possible life for them? Not everyone has the same values, goals & dreams. I admit this movie is deserving of a much higher rating than I’m giving it. It’s a very good film (it’s certainly better than Crimson Peak) but it’s a bit too “drama” for me. I like my quirky indie dramas to have a touch more comedy as well. Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, The Way Way Back, etc etc. Think I had that expectation for Captain Fantastic for some reason. But as I said – Very good film & performances. I recommend it if this genre is your type of thing. – 7/10

Blinded By The Light – It’s very hard to not compare this film to the other 2019 British feelgood movie written around another band/singer and their songs (Yesterday, in which a guy wakes up to find he’s the only person with any memory of The Beatles and their music). Not gonna lie – I’m not a fan of Bruce Springsteen’s music at all while I absolutely love The Beatles (top ten here), so I was of course going to enjoy Yesterday much more than Blinded By The Light (and I prefer Manfred Mann’s version of that song – Sorry, Bruce!).

Which film is actually better? It’s hard to say. Yesterday was very flawed and completely failed to explore the complexities of its ambitious idea but I really liked it anyway. I like a good story and Yesterday had such a brilliant idea of exploring an alternate universe in which The Beatles never existed. As I watch so many movies, I get bored with seeing the same predictable stories over & over again so Yesterday was a treat even if it didn’t quite do its brilliant idea justice.

Blinded By The Light is indeed a feelgood film. I enjoyed it & think lovers of Springsteen would all very much enjoy it as well. But the film doesn’t feel like anything we’ve not seen before. Quirky feelgood indie movies are as predictable as quirky indie dramas. I wanted to like this movie more as it’s very “sweet” and god knows feelgood films are badly needed with the world being so shit at the moment. But, while it put a smile on my face while watching it, I can’t say it’s one that I’ll remember that well in a year. Again, it’s a good film for its genre but I’ve just seen too much of this genre… Sorry! I feel bad for not liking it more.

I should point out that it’s a true story, which is great. Here’s what Wikipedia says about that: “It was inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his love of the works of Bruce Springsteen. Manzoor co-wrote the script, with Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. It is based on Manzoor’s 2007 memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll.” I like the true story & Manzoor seems like a nice guy and I can totally relate to being moved by music. I feel that way about music & movies. I can’t imagine life without them and this film helps show just how important art can be to people. Art can literally change a person’s life. This is a well-written film with a good story & likeable characters. I do wonder how much more I’d like it if it was based around an artist I love in the same way that Manzoor loves Springsteen. – 7/10

Boy – More quirky indie drama stuff! This one has more comedy thrown in, though. So it’s a quirky indie dramedy. It was a struggle to know how to rank all the movies I saw in April. I realise I’ve given my most common “good but didn’t blow me away” rating of 7/10 to the majority this month. The rankings don’t really matter but Boy is probably a better film than Blinded By The Light while Crimson Peak is admittedly probably the “worst” of the 7/10 films. But I rank on personal enjoyment. If you like quirky indie dramedy & Taika Waititi’s humor, you’ll like Boy. Like Jojo Rabbit, the kid actors are the best thing about the film (especially James Rolleston as Boy). Waititi plays the very unsympathetic father who suddenly come back into his kids’ lives. He’s funny as usual but also an asshole (you’re meant to feel this way about him, though). I of course appreciated that this was set in 1984 & it was cute that Boy was a big Michael Jackson fan. I also always appreciate a good coming of age film and likeable characters such as Boy and his little brother Rocky. It’s worth watching to see earlier work from Waititi. It’s probably most similar to Hunt For The Wilderpeople so I think you’ll like Boy of you liked that. I think I actually prefer Boy to that one. – 7/10

Rise Of The Guardians – I have to admit that I’m always a bit snobby about DreamWorks films. In comparison to Disney and especially Pixar & Studio Ghibli, DreamWorks’ films are just not as good (in my opinion, at least). I don’t like Shrek or How To Train Your Dragon to the degree that others do (Kung Fu Panda is probably my favorite, although I have yet to see Abominable which I did like the look of). So it may be because I went in with low expectations but I enjoyed Rise Of The Guardians. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still not as good as the output from those other studios but I liked the story as it felt quite original & having the connection to all the different holidays via Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, etc, was fun. But, meh, whatever. It’s still not going to be a favorite animated film. Like most DreamWorks movies, it’s a “one-time-watch” for me. – 7/10

Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨) (Chinjeolhan geumjassi) – I like a revenge movie & am a fan of quite a few South Korean films so expected to really like this one. I was very disappointed. Then again, I absolutely hated Park Chan-wook’s 2nd film in this “Vengeance Trilogy”, so I don’t know why I expected to like this one. Lady Vengeance is the third film, with Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance being the first & that nasty Oldboy being the second. I definitely far preferred this to Oldboy, however, and liked the main character, Lee Geum-ja. From Wikipedia, the movie is about “a woman released from prison after serving the sentence for a murder she did not commit. The film tells her story of revenge against the real murderer“. The story was a decent enough revenge story but, as with Park Chan-wook’s other films I’ve seen, the characters are hard to like (although Lee Geum-ja is a far more sympathetic character than Oldboy dude). And her red eyeshadow was cool. I’d look like shit in red eyeshadow. Anyway, the film was okay. I was just hoping for it to be a bit better than it was… – 6.5/10

Three Identical Strangers – This was a fascinating documentary about triplets who were separated at birth & adopted by different families. They and their adoptive families were unaware of the other siblings. The story of how they later discovered each other was also great so I won’t spoil that here. Then, when you think this true story can’t get any more crazy, it goes in a completely unexpected direction. I don’t know why but I have to force myself to watch documentaries even though there are some great ones. This is a really good one & deserves a higher rating but I just enjoy fictional movies more. Weird, I know. But this story is almost stranger than fiction & I recommend it to the many people who do love good documentaries. Oh – the triplets got quite famous when their story first came out & it got them a cameo ogling Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan… (below) – 6.5/10

The Sun Is Also A Star – I read & liked this YA book by Nicola Yoon (my book review is HERE). It wasn’t exactly anything new and I read way too much YA but, whatever – it was an enjoyable enough read. The movie adaptation was pretty faithful. Except for the ending! Why do they change stuff?? Well, I guess the changed ending was okay. Also, they managed to make the girl a bit more likeable in the movie (she was kind of bitchy in the book). Meh. If you like YA romance, you’ll like this just fine. But as (almost) always, the book is better. – 6.5/10

Anna – Yeah, this movie is fucking ridiculous. And kind of creepy pervy (as to be expected from Luc Besson). I love how only gorgeous women can be spies in movies. And how they have to do a bunch of fighting in sexy heels & stockings. Surely it’s easier to kick ass in appropriate clothing?! And how they have to fuck everyone (in this movie, at least – fuck the good guy, fuck the bad guy, fuck the other sexy female model because of course our sexy spy is so sexy that she has to go undercover as a model…). So if you like sexy spy chick movies with lots of fucking, you’ll like this. Is it the best of this genre? Hell no! But it’s certainly not the worst either. It was far more enjoyable than that idiotic Red Sparrow movie and probably a bit better than Atomic Blonde (which was also fucking ridiculous but I kind of liked). Overall, I guess I kind of liked this one too. It was helped by the fact that Helen Mirren was in it. The original saucy minx! – 6.5/10

Isn’t It Romantic – What can I say? It was the start of lockdown & I watched any old shit in April. And this one ended up not being too bad. At least the idea behind it was fun. From Wikipedia: “The film stars Rebel Wilson as a woman who finds herself in a world where everything around her plays out like a clichéd PG-13 romantic comedy“. I liked the nods to those guilty pleasure chick flicks, like how Wilson wears the same outfit as Julia Roberts does in Pretty Woman (above). And, although not nearly as hot as brother Chris, Liam Hemsworth is a cutie. It won’t change your life but it’s a decent enough lazy Sunday afternoon romantic comedy. – 6/10

Dark Skies – This was fine for a horror about aliens. We’ve not had a horror movie involving aliens experimenting on us in a while. This sub genre was a big thing at one point! I’ve always found the alien abduction movies pretty effectively creepy & thought this movie was an okay example of this type of film. Maybe I liked it as the whole alien abduction thing really scared me as a young kid. I honestly thought I’d be abducted & experimented on. Seriously. I think I watched way too much old sci-fi and original Twilight Zone episodes as a kid. I also like Keri Russell as an actress (love the film Waitress). The family were likeable (as far as horror movies go – it’s not the best genre for character development) & the story was fine & it was fairly creepy. Good enough. – 6/10

Rock Of Ages – Ugh. I fucking hated this. I’m probably being way too harsh on it since I guess it’s not the worst movie ever. But holy fuck is it cheesy!!! Okay, I was a teenager in the ’80s into early ’90s so I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t listen to Guns N’ Roses, Poison, Skid Row, Def Leppard, etc etc etc. All that cheesy hair metal! I liked all of it. But I feel the need to clarify that I preferred stuff like Metallica, Anthrax, AC/DC & Led Zeppelin at that same time, so don’t judge & assume that I only liked the more poppy hair metal like a lot of girls back then. The uglier the band, the better the actual music! 😉

Where was I?! Reminiscing. Man I feel so old now. So, yes, this music is seen as being very cheesy now & I admittedly haven’t listened to much of it since then whereas I still listen to stuff like Black Sabbath & Metallica. But it was accepted at the time and, let’s be honest, it seems damn good compared to the mainstream shit on the radio in 2020. But, while this music was very mainstream & most of the bands were too “pretty” to be fully taken seriously, they all lived that rock lifestyle to the fullest. God, the disgusting stories that Mötley Crüe must be able to tell! Sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what I expect from these bands. This film sucks all of the life out of these bands & how they lived. It pretends to have characters living that lifestyle, especially the ridiculously stupid Tom Cruise character, while the cast sing dreadful Glee-inspired versions of songs I once liked. I suppose I was expecting a fun look at that era but it instead felt like this was made by kids who didn’t live through that time. So I looked it up and the writers are the same sort of age as me. Really?! That’s surprising, as the movie doesn’t capture a love for that era and instead comes across as phoney. So, yeah – I wasn’t a fan of this film. Obviously. – 4.5/10

Rewatched:

Lady And The Tramp – Disney classic. Puppy Lady is adorable. The spaghetti scene rules. The Siamese cats are bitches. Not the best Disney film but that’s only because there are SO MANY great Disney films. Probably still within my Top 20. Oh yeah – I ranked the Disney films years ago on this blog (here). That’s so out of date! I think I’d change some now. I should update that sometime. Anyway, it looks like I ranked Lady And The Tramp at 14. – 8/10

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I’ve linked my original review so don’t need to say much other than that I like these films (although this & the first one are much better than the final two). – 7.5/10

Yellow Submarine – Love this psychedelic weirdness! And I love The Beatles (as I mentioned in the Blinded By The Light review above). So I of course enjoy the music in this. I’ve always liked the imagery in this one as well. Fun animation & great music & weird as shit movie. They had great drugs in the ’60s. Nothing interesting gets made anymore. – 7.5/10

The Terminal – Rewatched this one as a family. The hubby has always really liked this movie (not sure why). Anyway, Tom Hanks is good as always and the story is unique. I always knew it was inspired by a true story but, holy shit, I just looked it up and the real guy lived in the airport for 18 years!!! That’s crazy. This is a fun, feelgood movie and Stanley Tucci is a total asshole in it. I still don’t understand why his character was so mean to Hanks! – 7/10

Just Go With It – So, yeah, my daughter is liking the silliness of the Adam Sandler movies so I’ve rewatched a lot of his stuff in the past year. This one is certainly not one of his best but at least it’s far better than his very worst (he does have some very bad ones!). This one is… Meh. He always has better chemistry with Drew Barrymore than with Jennifer Aniston. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor II – I really liked the first EP, which I reviewed here, so was looking forward to the second EP coming out. Enjoyed Part II as well but Simmer is still by far the best song.

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – I started reading this in March & it took me months to finish as I just wasn’t able to concentrate on anything at that time. Liked it, though. I’ll maybe try to review it in my June roundup post, as I think that’s when I finally finished it…

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Mandalorian – I’m not going to say much about this show as I’ll just ramble on forever. I adore this show (yes, The Child is THE reason why I love it so much). The Child is the pinnacle of cuteness. Nothing will top “Baby Yoda”. But, damn, it’s such a good show. It’s better than the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It’s made me like Star Wars again (not that I stopped, but I did find the recent films disappointing). And the score by Ludwig Göransson is BRILLIANT. Love it. And the artwork during the credits! Love everything about this show so far. I don’t have a bad thing to say about it.

The Golden Girls – I can’t even begin to tell you just HOW MUCH I loved watching this on Channel 5 during my working-from-home lunch breaks through lockdown. Seriously, it was the highlight of each weekday! And the show has aged well, to be honest. It’s still funny as hell. Love it and still love these ladies. Protect Betty White forever! But Channel 5 only aired 4 seasons. I’m still pissed off about that. Show the rest, Channel 5! Please!!!

The Masked Singer US – God this show was cheesy & stupid but also kind of… entertaining, I guess. I watched the U.K. one too. I was rubbish at guessing who anyone was. At least I’d heard of most of the stars in the U.S. one (except the sports stars). They really scraped the bottom of the barrel for the U.K. one! I’m not posting an image from this stupid show. Here’s The Mandalorian again…

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

I’m hoping to post the rest of my monthly roundup posts for May, June & July… If I get around to writing them.

Let’s listen to Ludwig Göransson’s awesome theme music for The Mandalorian: