Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2022

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

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched In June:

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

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

Documentaries, Shorts, Etc:

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

Now Reading Elsewhere by Dean Koontz

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

Paths Of Glory & On The Waterfront IMDB Top 250 Reviews

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

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

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

Paths Of Glory (1957)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb

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

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

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

On The Waterfront (1954)

Directed by Elia Kazan

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

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

Running time: 108 minutes

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

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

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

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

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