Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2018

Happy July, everyone! I’m WAY behind on my June Roundup. How is it July 2018? Where’s the time going?! Where’s my life going?!? Well, here’s the stuff I watched & read in June 2018. Once again, I was disappointed with most things. I seriously need to see a really great movie soon…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Enter The Dragon8.5/10
Deadpool 27/10
Ocean’s Eight7/10
Hereditary6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Deadpool 27/10

Thief – Been wanting to watch this for a while as it’s Michael Mann’s first major film and I think Heat and Collateral are great. I got even more excited when the movie started and I saw that Tangerine Dream did the score. Yes!!! I love Tangerine Dream! This film is good & worth a watch if you’re a fan of either Mann or Tangerine Dream or late 70s/early 80s crime dramas. It feels like this probably inspired movies such as Drive looks-wise. It did drag a little, though. The characters were also a bit weak – I didn’t care too much about anyone although James Caan did do a decent job as a professional thief. Not as good as Heat but has the same great sort of look to it. It looks & feels like the best of Mann’s other work. – 7/10

The Florida Project – This was an odd one and I wasn’t sure while watching it if I liked it all that much. But I think I did. It grew on me and, weirdly, it was more entertaining than a lot of similar films that explore characters in situations where “nothing really happens”. I did really like Willem Dafoe in this although I don’t know if the role was “Oscar nominee” material. The main mother in this was annoying as hell and impossible to like but she felt like a real person, which not all movies are able to achieve. I ended up really liking her daughter & the other kids, although they seem bratty at first. They aren’t really, though – they’re just a product of their environment (a rundown motel just outside of Disney World). Actually, I thought the main girl (Brooklyn Prince) was a fantastic actress for her young age. Again, she felt like a real person. The setting was great (I love the look of that purple motel) and it was an interesting look at how there are people struggling to get by all over the world, including just outside of the happiest place on earth. I think I like this even more after writing this review… – 7/10

20th Century Women – This was actually pretty good! I really knew nothing about this going into it but I enjoyed each of the characters & their different personalities. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “The story of a teenage boy, his mother, and two other women who help raise him among the love and freedom of Southern California of 1979.” I couldn’t fully relate to any of the women but I did really like Greta Gerwig’s music-loving photographer and I especially loved all the Talking Heads music that they listened to. Good drama with strong performances from everyone (Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann & Billy Crudup) but has maybe too much of an indie-feel for a mainstream audience. Glad I checked it out. – 7/10

Ocean’s Eight7/10

Hereditary6.5/10

Christine (2016) – This is based on the true story of Christine Chubbuck, a TV news reporter who killed herself live on air in 1974. I’m surprised I knew nothing of this story and had never even heard of this woman. The story is, obviously, tragic and horrifying but I think the film handled the subject matter as well as it could. Rebecca Hall did a good job as Christine (though I can’t say how accurate the performance was). Not an easy watch and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone going through a hard time emotionally. It’s a solid drama & well acted but with a very slow pace and a TV movie feel to it. – 6.5/10

A Bucket Of Blood – Amazon Prime seems to have a lot of cult classic horrors at the moment so, like Carnival Of Souls last month, I was happy to finally check out this Roger Corman horror comedy starring Dick Miller. I can’t say it’s a “good” film but it’s memorable and I loved the 50’s beatnik setting. Not enough movies focus on that sort of culture – it made it feel more unique. Here’s another IMDb synopsis if you’ve not heard of it: “A dim-witted busboy finds acclaim as an artist for a plaster-covered dead cat that is mistaken as a skillful statuette. The desire for more praise soon leads to an increasingly deadly series of works.” I enjoyed it plus it’s only just over an hour long so I appreciated that (I rarely have enough time to watch an entire movie in one sitting). 6.5/10

Cargo – Loved this movie’s concept and thought the short film it’s based on was pretty great. Like Lights Out, however, I thought the longer format didn’t really work. Sometimes less is more! The movie is okay and it’s still a very good concept but I found it a little boring (and I fell asleep for a while in the middle of it – don’t tell hubby because I can’t be bothered to watch what I missed). It’s nice, though, that they’re still somehow finding ways to make zombie movies that feel original! Watch it if you want a decent zombie film that’s more about drama & family and less about blood & guts but PLEASE watch the short film first. – 6.5/10

In Time – This was fine. A bit forgettable. Again, I liked the synopsis so finally decided to check this out. From IMDb: “In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. Here, Will Salas finds himself accused of murder and on the run with a hostage – a connection that becomes an important part of the way against the system.” The story was okay & I liked the way that people could “buy time” but a better movie could have been made from this story. Fun but probably a bit too glossy and full of pretty young people to take it very seriously. – 6/10

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane – I watched this odd 1976 Jodie Foster film partly because I was sick of seeing it in my Netflix Watchlist (it’s been on there for years). I think I was under the impression that it was a straightforward horror but it’s more of a drama that almost feels like a play. Actually, the story would work quite well as a play (maybe it was a play – I’m too lazy to look into it). It drags & I found it a bit underwhelming but the young Foster did a good job as the mysterious 13-year-old who seems to live in a house all on her own. – 5.5/10

Swiss Army Man – Okaaaaaaay. This pretty much sucked. I was never really a fan of Weekend At Bernie’s because I thought the “drag a dead guy around and pretend he’s alive” gag was stupid. This is the same gag multiplied by one million. With farts. LOTS of farts. But… I guess it’s superior to Weekend At Bernie’s since it’s current & everything more than ten years old is shit in the eyes of the current generation? Anyway, I’d give it a lower rating but I have to admit that riding a dead guy like a waterski as his farts propel you is, um, original? And I always moan that there’s no originality these days. So I’ll be nice and give an extra point for some unique stupid gags that even Weekend At Bernie’s couldn’t have dreamed up. – 5/10

Dig Two Graves – Why do I occasionally watch random movies on Netflix that I’ve never heard of?? Well, I luck out sometimes – I thought Circle was fantastic. But the random ones in the horror genre are always shit. I’ll say that the acting in this was decent, though. Far better than the story itself, which didn’t hold my interest. Overall, it was yet another modern horror that was a waste of my time but it’s probably not as “bad” as my rating suggests. It showed some promise. It wasn’t as dumb as most the horrors that get a full cinema release. It was just dull. – 4.5/10

The Dark Tower – What in the actual fuck WAS this?! I love King but never got around to reading The Dark Tower series. I did read The Gunslinger (review HERE), though. The first book. This movie is NOT The Gunslinger. I know people have said it takes elements from the other books. Ugh. Whatever. I’ll keep reading the books as people do rave about them and they all trash this terrible adaptation. Just read The Gunslinger. Avoid this movie – it doesn’t resemble the story I read in any way whatsoever. – 3/10

Re-Watch: Mrs. Doubtfire – Never did love this movie but finally watched it with the kid. She liked it okay but didn’t love it. I do love Robin Williams, though. Miss him! – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz. I recently did a post of My Top Ten Dean Koontz books HERE. The Odd Thomas series is great, mainly because the main character is so good. The first book is the best by FAR of what I’ve read so far, though, although I did enjoy book 3 (Brother Odd). I found this one (book 4) disappointing. Maybe it’s like the Star Trek movies but the opposite – only the odd numbers are good?? Ha! ODD numbers. Anyway – I’ll keep reading as I love the character. – 3/5

Currently Reading: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera & Strange Weather by Joe Hill

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Girls – I needed a short show to have on while exercising & saw this one was available & realized I’d watched all but the final two seasons. So I watched the final two seasons. The characters were as fucking hateful as always. Seriously – are these the most hateful people in a tv series ever or WHAT?! Yes. Yes they are. If these people were a part of my real life, I’d do everything in my power to avoid them. They never felt at all realistic. Are there really people like these?!? I used to think there weren’t but, thanks to Twitter, I’m thinking there really are people as nauseating as these four girls. But, fuck it – anyone who says this show wasn’t well written and wasn’t funny at times is a liar. Because it’s hard to admit. These people are so hateful that we don’t want to give the show any credit. However, that final episode may be the worst finale for a show that I’ve ever seen. What on Earth were they thinking?! What a let down.

13 Reasons Why – I’ve now seen two episodes. It’s fine. I read the book (my review is HERE) and the adaptation is decent so far. But I do have issues with the story being told at all. It’s a very sensitive topic and I don’t think the book necessarily handled it well so don’t know if the show will either. Seeing what season 2 is about, though, makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t believe they went there… I’ll only be watching season 1, which is the story in the book.

The IT Crowd – Again, I finally started this as I need a short show on while exercising. I watched the first episode. I wasn’t really feeling it… Maybe I’ll give it another go at some point.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

(Well, the month is half over so I’ve seen some of these now)

The First Purge – Saw it. Liked it but it’s the weakest of the four. My review is HERE.

Mary Shelley – I’ll probably wait for Netflix.

Skyscraper – Looks dumb but fun. Anyone know if it’s appropriate for a 9-year-old? She weirdly seems to like The Rock. She did love Rampage, which was pretty intense…

Incredibles 2 – Saw it! Loved it. Will try to review it this week.

The Secret Of Marrowbone – Looks okay but I know that 90% of modern horrors disappoint me so who knows? May wait for Netflix.

Hotel Artemis – Hmm. Looked fun but hasn’t had great reviews. Feels like a John Wick ripoff anyway.

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Book Review)

13 Reasons Why is a new young adult TV series being released on Netflix this Friday (March 31st). There will be 13 episodes (all available on Friday) and the show is based on the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, in which a teenage boy receives a package containing audiotapes recorded by a classmate who has recently committed suicide. The show was directed by Spotlight’s Tom McCarthy & produced by Selena Gomez. I read the book recently so figured I should review it before the show airs. Here’s my review…

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

What It’s About: (via Goodreads)
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.”

My Thoughts:

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this book. I’ll say it was very “readable”. I usually take a good few weeks to read a book (due to lack of free time) but this was a quick & easy read plus I found that I really didn’t want to put it down as I was truly curious to see how it would end (I read it over a weekend). It’s an uncomfortable subject matter, however, and I still don’t know if I feel right about how it was handled. Plus, the below trailer for the TV show makes it look almost like an “exciting mystery”, which I don’t think is necessarily a responsible way to market the story. I guess we’ll see how the show unfolds. This IS a book about suicide. The only “mystery” is why the girl did it, which she explains in her audiotapes. The trailer’s mood just feels a bit off to me.

I’ll say this is very much a teen book but it didn’t feel immature or like the author had dumbed it down for its target audience. My teenage years are far far (far!) behind me but this book feels like it was written in a way that would seem genuine & relevant to a modern teen. I know nothing of the book’s success but I would imagine that current teens can relate to it whereas I feel that certain other young adult books are too obviously written by authors whose teen years are far far (far!) behind them. Okay, yeah – I’ve just looked up the author (Jay Asher) and he’s my sort of age. I also think that he did a good job with the character of Hannah Baker, the girl who commits suicide. It can’t be easy for a middle-aged man to capture the feelings of a teenage girl but I think he did well with her character (probably even better than with the main male character, Clay Jensen).

I’ll of course avoid major spoilers but the main moral of this story is to treat people with kindness and to be aware of the signs to watch for that may indicate that someone is suicidal. I of course agree with this message and would love to think that this book could save some lives but, well, I don’t think the world works that way. If anything, it worries me that this story could play into the rather typical teenage thoughts about suicide: that whole “this will make people notice me & understand what I was going through” thing. No. The bullies, etc? They didn’t care beforehand & they wouldn’t care afterwards. I hope no one thinks that because of this book. However, from the other point of view, who knows? Maybe it would help some teens to notice the warning signs & perhaps offer someone some help. Maybe. The nice ones. (Is it obvious that I thought a lot of the people in my high school were uncaring assholes?!)

I admit that Thirteen Reasons Why was a bit of a page-turner, even if the subject matter left me feeling uncomfortable. Clay listens to several cassette tapes from Hannah, each focusing on a different classmate & the role each person played in her final decision. This meant we were told several stories as Clay listened to each tape, which was an interesting way to set up this novel. Hannah Baker was a well fleshed-out character though, interestingly, kind of hard to like. Maybe that was partly the point… Due to various incidents, she turned inward so I suppose she was kind of ignored. Clay Jensen comes across as a little less genuine but I think this is due to his seeming so simple in comparison to Hannah’s complexity. Overall I’d probably recommend this book to anyone who likes young adult fiction and who is emotionally stable. But I wouldn’t necessarily want anyone who is anything like Hannah Baker’s character to read it…

My Rating: 3/5

Here’s the trailer for the Netflix series, starring Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen & Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker: