Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2022

Hi All. I managed to review all of the below so here’s what I watched in February…

MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):

High Noon – Caught this on Film 4 & was happy to be able to cross another film off the list for my IMDb Top 250 Project that I started in 2013. And as with many of the films from that 2013 list, High Noon is no longer in the Top 250. I’m so glad I saved that much better list to work from! There’s far too much mainstream modern crap in there now.

Well, I can’t say I’m big on Westerns but I have really liked most of the Westerns in the Top 250 that I’ve forced myself to watch for this project. What I most definitely prefer are the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns with the lovely cinematography & kick-ass Ennio Morricone scores, though. Much more my thing than the old straightforward American Westerns like this one. I was slightly interested in seeing this as Grace Kelly is in it & I love her in stuff like Rear Window but she wasn’t given too much to do in this film (not that women were ever given much to do in Westerns). Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train.” I tried to not be annoyed by the fact that the newlyweds had a huge age difference with Kelly being WAY younger than Gary Cooper (I looked it up – 28 year difference. Typical!).

This movie was fine but I wasn’t really feeling it & didn’t even feel much excitement over the big showdown. To be fair to the film, though, as I said already I’m not really into this genre plus life is really terrible at the moment so I’m probably getting less enjoyment out of movies overall. The character development could’ve been better & some of the lesser characters were actually more interesting, such as the woman who was a former lover of the big bad guy. Still had a good story, though, and I can see why it’s a highly regarded Western. For a similar movie in this genre that I watched for the Top 250 Project, I preferred The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. – 7/10

The Tender Bar – Watched this in my desperation to see something that was released in 2022 (in the UK, at least). Ben Affleck annoys the shit out of me but he was good in this role & even likeable so, yay. In fact, I’d say he was a perfect fit playing the loving uncle of the boy in this. The film is based on the real boy’s memoir of his time growing up in 1970’s Long Island with his mother & uncle who encouraged him to become a writer (which he did since he wrote this memoir, obviously).

It’s a “nice” film. I hate when I use that word as it sounds insulting but I don’t mean it that way (I’m not a writer! I suck with words). It’s just one of those pleasant “Sunday afternoon” type of movies to watch. It could have done with more character development overall but they did good enough with the boy & his uncle. Would’ve liked to know much more about his mom and extended family (and Christopher Lloyd as his grandpa! Love him). A tiny bit more time spent on the regulars at his uncle’s bar would’ve been good too. I preferred the start of the film when he was a boy to later on showing his college years. The film dragged a bit then & too much time was spent on a girlfriend who treated him like shit. His life with his family was more interesting, including his troubles with his complete ass of a dad. Oh, and this was directed by George Clooney FYI. It was a decent enough film to pass the time but also a little underwhelming. I admit that it’s the type of movie I know I’ll barely remember a year from now. Oh! I forgot to mention that I enjoyed the very ’70s soundtrack, though. Of course. – 6.5/10

Being The Ricardos – I had zero interest in watching this as, quite frankly, I thought it looked terrible. Then it ended up with three Oscar nominations for acting and I went “Shit, I’m gonna have to try to watch that now” as I try to watch nominees in at least the major categories before the ceremony. And I don’t know WHY I still do that as the Oscars have been a joke for years now. And the nominations for this are a perfect example. The acting is fine but it is NOT Oscar-worthy. Maybe worthy of Emmy awards if it had been a TV movie instead, which is what it very much felt like. And I see they nominated three out of the four who play the stars of I Love Lucy. Why didn’t they nominate the one playing Vivian Vance too? She’s just as good as the other three. Oh! Is it because she’s not a big name??? (I assume, as I’d not heard of Nina Arianda before). The Oscars need to get their shit together. It’s too phoney now.

And… Okay, I know that it’s probably difficult making movies about real-life people but I often find it hard to buy into someone playing a well known real-life person unless they’re really damn good. And I know the acting is very important too but, seriously, can they at least try to get actors who look like the real person?! Maybe I just have zero imagination but, sorry, they need to look like the person. Nicole looks nothing like Lucille Ball. It was distracting as hell. No one looked like the real people. It’s ridiculous. I’m not a Debra Messing fan but I’m with Twitter in that it should’ve been her – she looked exactly like Lucy in images while dressed as her. I could’ve bought into that but instead I felt I was watching a weird-looking Nicole Kidman the whole time & it was all I could focus on. Hell – I’m watching that cheesy Pam & Tommy thing but they’ve done a fantastic job with Lily James so it does feel like I’m watching Pamela Anderson (and Tommy to a degree, although he looks less like him, but his fun performance is selling it. Much more than Kidman’s in this!).

Okay, enough with the ranting. I’ll try to say something positive. Umm… the story was kind of interesting, I guess. I know nothing whatsoever about Lucille Ball & don’t know how accurate this movie is but that was certainly an interesting week for her (if that all did actually happen in just one week). I thought Alia Shawkat was good as one of the writers (probably helps that I know of no real life person to compare her to). Ball’s hubby was a cheating prick & they had no chemistry in this movie. I think what also bothered me was, while I know nothing about Ball, she was known as being the star of big comedy sitcom. But this movie was so dreary & dramatic & devoid of any humor. Is that what Ball was like in real life? No clue. This movie makes her borderline unlikeable. It’s also one of those movies where I finished it feeling like I didn’t know much more about the real-life person than I did before. What’s the point of that? Oops. I was trying to be positive! Okay, the story was kind of interesting. But, holy shit, it couldn’t have been more miscast & the character development was terrible. – 6/10

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) – Although I love most horror movies from the ’70s & ’80s, I was never big on the 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I don’t even remember it very well now & should really probably rewatch it someday. I didn’t think the 2003 film was too bad but I could’ve lived without it. And I didn’t really care about seeing the 2022 one & thought it looked terrible but there are so few 2022 movies on services so far that I mostly watched this just to see a 2022 film. Yep – it’s terrible. Ugh. Here’s the beginning of the full plot synopsis on Wikipedia: “Nearly 50 years after Leatherface’s killing spree in 1973, young entrepreneurs Melody and Dante, Melody’s sister Lila and Dante’s girlfriend Ruth travel to the abandoned Texas town of Harlow, to auction off old properties to create a trendy, heavily gentrified area.” Okay – just from that description I hate these characters already.

Admittedly, I’m OLD so can’t really relate to the early twentysomethings in movies now. But these characters are meant to be hateful, right? Except the girl from that dreadful Eighth Grade movie people raved about for some reason – her character is okay. So I guess, if you like seeing annoying youths violently murdered, you might like this movie. That’s the point of slashers anyway, right? So why is this movie so bad compared to the slashers I liked in the ’80s?? They’re the same thing. I don’t know – I really can’t think of anything to say about this movie. Poor character development, I didn’t care if anyone would survive, Leatherface is shown to have some feelings WTF?!, and a bunch of idiots livestream this maniac with a chainsaw and say something or other about getting him cancelled. Seriously. I guess the bus scene was somewhat entertaining but it was so ridiculous & so unlike the vibe of the original film. Oh well – who cares? This will just be another completely forgettable horror remake/reboot/sequel etc etc. I suppose there have been worse ones, although I’m struggling to think of one… – 4.5/10

Movies Rewatched In February:

Suspiria (1977) – I watched this once years ago but hadn’t seen it since. Then in the past few years I’ve tried to delve into the Giallo horror thing a bit & liked Argento’s Deep Red a lot, calling it the more “accessible” film compared to Suspiria. I’ve watched several other Argento films since as well, including the kooky Phenomena, but none of them have compared to Suspiria or Deep Red. I figured it was time to refresh my memory of this film & see how I really feel about it as I know its Goblin score FAR better than the film itself (god I love that bloody brilliant, loud & distracting score!!!).

I have to say that, on a rewatch, I think I may now absolutely love Suspiria. And I’ll stop now as I ended up doing a full post with a slightly longer review HERE last week, mainly so I could post plenty of images from this film as it has stunning visuals. The story is a bit of a mess, yes, but I really don’t care about that when a movie looks & sounds as good as this one does. – 8.5/10

West Side Story – Figured it was time to introduce my daughter to this classic musical before we see the Spielberg version. And I hadn’t seen it since I was a teen so I needed to see it again myself. I knew I liked it but it never became one of my favorites that I watched over & over again like like I did with The Sound Of Music & The Wizard Of Oz.

I still really like it but it’s still not going to be an all-time favorite of mine. There are some good songs but, overall, I feel the songs aren’t as strong as they are in most of my personal favorite musicals. The Romeo & Juliet story, although predictable, is always a winner (which is why it remains so popular). So I like that a lot plus I really like Natalie Wood for some reason, especially since watching the fantastic Splendor In The Grass (which I prefer to West Side Story). There are of course some great visuals, which as I said in my Suspiria review is something that’s always important to me. Like, I really liked Maria’s colourful door to her bedroom. Why do I live in such a drab house (and country)?! I love colors & pretty shit! Well, West Side Story is iconic & deserving of its status as an all-time classic musical. Am interested to see what Spielberg has done with it but am not expecting to love it as I see it as a bit pointless when this version exists… – 8/10

Three Fugitives – Watched this on Disney Plus with the daughter as I have fond memories of watching this several times with my mom when I was a teen as we both really liked it & thought the girl was adorable. Managed to talk my daughter into it after she said she thought Martin Short was funny in Only Murders In The Building (I’ll be mentioning that below). Still really like this one but, oh boy, it does have that cheesy late ’80s/early ’90s family-friendly comedy vibe. Especially with that score! Ha. That’s okay – I still love stuff from my teen years. Daughter seemed to like this one as well & also thought the girl was cute & she still found Martin Short funny. Happy I was able to share it with her the way I did with my mom. – 7.5/10

Sweet Home Alabama – Another movie I watched with my daughter. I also have fond memories of watching this one. It was in the cinema with the hubby & two teen/early-twentysomething girls would NOT shut the hell up so he chucked his (mostly empty) drink at their heads. They did shut up! This movie is fine. A typical lightweight rom-com but I did enjoy when Reese Witherspoon was making this kind of stuff. Not my favorite of her’s when it comes to this genre but certainly not the worst. Probably smack dab in the middle! Ohh… I just checked & had forgotten I ranked Witherspoon’s movies (here). Yep! It’s in the middle! Predictable story but Witherspoon helps sell it. And it’s a good song. – 7/10

Shorts & Documentaries In February

Three Songs For Benazir – It’s up for an Oscar & it’s on Netflix so I stuck it on. I fell asleep so I can’t really comment…

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked)

The Book Of Boba Fett: S1 E6-7 – I wrote in my last post that I wasn’t really loving this show & it was a disappointment after how fantastic The Mandalorian was. Then the final two episodes were awesome! To be fair, they hardly featured boring old Boba Fett & I know some people complained that those episodes were really just The Mandalorian again. Fine by me! I got to see Grogu again! ❤️ AND R2-D2 & Luke! LOVED IT SO MUCH! I needed a Grogu fix so bad after a shitty shitty year so far. Luke looked excellent (I had no issues with how he looked in the final episode of The Mandalorian either, though). The only thing it could have used was more of Grogu & R2-D2 together since those two have been best buddies in my mind ever since the end of The Mandalorian. My two favorite Star Wars characters together!! Honestly, episode 6 of this made my year. No movie or TV show is gonna top that in 2022.

Pam & Tommy: S1 E1-6 – Can’t say I’m exactly a fan of either Pamela Anderson or Tommy Lee or ever gave much of a crap about their sex tape (although I did somehow see part of it at the time – God knows how! If I managed to see it it really must have been everywhere). But this show looked interesting. It really is just pure entertainment, though. I’m not entirely sure what the point of making this show was other than to see Pamela & Tommy’s crazy lifestyle?

I have to say that I think Sebastian Stan & especially Lily James are surprisingly good in this. Stan seems to be having a lot of fun playing bad boy Lee & they’ve done an amazing job with Lily’s look. As I said above in Being The Ricardos, the actors need to actually look like the real people (or be made to look like the person, like they have here as James looks nothing like Anderson in real life). They’ve done an okay job of showing Anderson as the victim here (which she was) and how upsetting the leaked personal tape will have been for her. Why on Earth have celebs made any sex tapes since then? They always get out. These two were careful, though, keeping it locked in a safe. It’s been interesting seeing the story from the perspective of the guy who stole the tape too (played by Seth Rogen). It’s an interesting show so far but, again, I’m not sure what the point was in making a TV series about this story.

Only Murders In The Building: S1 – After watching Stay Close & discovering that the kid really seems to like crime thrillers, we checked this out as thought she’d be interested since Selena Gomez is in this. She loved this show! And also now seems to think Martin Short is funny, as I said above in the Three Fugitives review. We need to get her liking Steve Martin now too! This show was a lot of fun & we’re all looking forward to Season 2. It’s quite “quirky”. It has good characters & I liked how we got some episodes with their own full storylines, such as one focusing on a deaf character which was also unique as so much of that episode was silent. The three leads work really well together & I like the music in the show plus the stylish opening titles. I think this will work as a continuing series where these characters have a new mystery to solve each season. It looks like that’s already the plan for a Season 2.

The Outsider: S1 – I’m a huge Stephen King fan & try to watch all adaptations of his stories. Been very frustrated in recent years at not getting the opportunity to watch so much of the TV stuff here in the U.K. on my services, such as Mr. Mercedes. So I was very happy to see this on NowTV (Entertainment) and binged it before it disappears. This book was definitely not a favorite of mine. Probably didn’t help that it got WAY too graphic about the murder of the young boy. King gets way too gross sometimes! But I suppose the overall story was okay. I thought this was a solid adaptation (and didn’t go into as much detail as the book did on the murder, thankfully). It fell apart a bit at the end but so did the book. I do find the ending to most of King’s stories disappointing, though.

I thought everyone did a good job in this, especially Jason Bateman in a smallish but very important role in the first 2 or 3 episodes. What I was most looking forward to, though, was seeing a favorite King character of mine that he’s now used in several stories: Holly Gibney. I wouldn’t say that Cynthia Erivo did a bad job or anything – I think the writers just really didn’t capture Gibney’s character at all, which was very disappointing. They made sure to point out that she’s “a little weird” but she really didn’t feel like she does in the books. Not happy! But, as I like that character, she was still my favorite character in this show & Cynthia Erivo was likeable as an awkward person who didn’t feel like Holly Gibney but would probably be friends with her at the very least. But, WTF, they gave her a love interest in this?!? Why?? I now really want to see Mr. Mercedes so I can see what they did with Holly’s character in that…

Well, I still really enjoyed seeing another adaptation of King’s work and thought it was pretty faithful (except for that stupid love interest). If you want more of Holly Gibney, read the (much better) Mr. Mercedes series where she’s introduced. She’s a smaller character in The Outsider – you really get to know everything about her in the three Mr. Mercedes books. And the title story in King’s If It Bleeds collection is a continuation of the story in The Outsider but has only Holly (and her friends from Mr. Mercedes) once again fighting this same evil. So definitely read that if you liked The Outsider.

The Woman In The House Across The Street From The Girl In The Window: S1 – This was okay but nothing special. I do appreciate them doing a spoof of my cheesy crime thriller guilty pleasures like The Woman In The Window & The Girl On The Train. The mystery wasn’t the greatest, though, and the comedy wasn’t good enough to make up for the story. The show was fine. It passed the time but I probably wouldn’t bother with a second season if they make one.

Community: S1 – Oh my god. I love this! Okay, I don’t rank TV shows in these posts in order of my favorites like I do with movies as it’s more difficult, especially when it’s sometimes only a few episodes I’ve seen of a show. I’ve seen all of Season 1 of this now and, so far, this would be at the top of this section. Definitely enjoying it more than Boba Fett, although nothing can top that full-on Grogu/R2-D2/Luke episode so I’d maybe still need to keep Boba Fett at the top.

How did I miss out on this show?! Actually, I have a good excuse as I was very busy with a baby & then toddler at the time. But why did no one ever tell me to watch this show that is so my type of thing?! I’ve been missing out! It’s hilarious & I LOVE these characters. Can I rank them?! You know I love ranking stuff!

1. Abed (the BEST! love his movie & tv-loving nerdiness)

2. Troy (knew I liked Donald Glover in other things but didn’t realize how damn funny he is too. his character in this is good but as a duo with Abed he’s hilarious & I love when they get the final little skit together, especially that Bert & Ernie one that put a big smile on my Sesame Street-loving face)

3. TIE: Shirley & Britta (Shirley is so sweet & lovable with this great naïve side that lets her say hilariously inappropriate things. Britta is the one I identify with the most as I’m sort of a buzzkill too & definitely angry a lot of the time. I can totally relate to her not understanding her fellow women sometimes, such as in the episode where she didn’t understand why women go to the bathroom together. All my teen girl friends wanted me to go pee with them all the time. Why?! Girls are weird sometimes)

4. Annie (she’s growing on me & is getting a bit less boring as the show goes on)

5. Jeff (I mean, he’s a jerk but he’s MEANT to be a jerk so it’s hard to know where to rank him)

6. Pierce (Hard to believe Chevy Chase has the most boring character so far but he still has plenty of funny moments in an extremely funny show. and the whole point is that this group of people have nothing in common so he’s needed in the group too)

There are some lesser characters but I won’t rank them at this point. Ken Jeong is as annoying as in real life so he seems to just be playing himself, although it’s fun when he goes completely overboard sometimes. And Jack Black was in an episode so that made me very happy. Oh, and we’re watching this as a family & my daughter is absolutely loving it too (Abed is also her favorite). So happy that we have the same sort of sense of humor. We’re binging this show like crazy. 🙂

And Just Like That…: S1 E10 – Ugh! I’ve bitched about this show enough in previous posts so no need to again. I’ll just say that episode 10 was no better than any of the rest. And I refuse to put an image into this post for it even though it’s annoying me that it’s the only one I’ve not used an image for in this section.

BOOKS READ

Not gonna use an image this time as I’m STILL just reading the same book I’ve been reading for bloody months (been too busy binging Community): A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones. Less than 200 pages left!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

As I’m watching fewer movies, it’s been easier to put together these roundup posts. If all is going well in life at the start of April, I’ll hopefully post my March roundup.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See In March:

Excited to finally be getting some 2022 films on services that look like they could be good: Turning Red on Disney & The Adam Project on Netflix plus I think I’m gonna sign up for Apple TV again which has an adaptation of a YA novel I read called The Sky Is Everywhere. Then I can also finally see CODA & Finch! Plus Spielberg’s West Side Story will be on Disney so am hoping to watch that before the Oscars.

I should end this post with Goblin’s brilliant Suspiria score:

The Innocents (1961) Review

The Innocents (1961)

Directed by Jack Clayton

Based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave, Pamela Franklin, Martin Stephens

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Its plot follows a governess who watches over two children and comes to fear that their large estate is haunted by ghosts and that the children are being possessed.

My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see this for years. It’s one of many adaptations of the famous 1898 story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve not read the story, although I really want to now, and I had somehow managed to completely avoid having it spoiled for me in all this time. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be about and I was way off!

This sort of story is so my kind of thing. I love supernatural and I love creepy and I especially love creepy kids (and they’re always extra creepy in old movies). Here’s the very simple IMDb synopsis: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.” I should say that I watched this live on Talking Pictures TV (U.K.). They have a really interesting selection of old films so I recommend checking out their schedule or following them on Twitter (thanks to the hubby for telling me about the channel!).

I don’t really know what to say about this one. For one thing, I want to stay spoiler free for anyone who’s interested in watching this. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a great film. It’s eerie, I loved the scary kids and not knowing what was going on, and Deborah Kerr was very good (that’s two movies I’ve seen her in this year, the other being the beautiful Black Narcissus).

I want to read the story now as there’s some psychological stuff going on here and I’d like to see how it’s presented in the novella. This being an old British film, there’s some f*^ked up sexual repression going on here (old British films are the best at that). I think the story can be interpreted in different ways and I’m still thinking about the ending and its meaning. It’s probably why this story remains so popular and is still being adapted to this day (the latest being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor). I’d watch this one again as I missed some of it (the joy of having to watch live TV! First world problems, I know).

My Rating: 7.5/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2021

Happy May! I watched way too many movies in April. I actually managed to review some, too! I’ll post the links to those & discuss the rest below. Here’s a quick list of everything I watched & read:

Promising Young Woman, Spontaneous, Swallow, Bloodsport, Battleship Potemkin, The Innocents (1961), Audition, Sound Of Metal, Cat People, House On Haunted Hill, Love And Monsters, Splinter, Palm Springs, Bad Girls, The Fundamentals Of Caring, Run, Teen Spirit, The House Of Tomorrow, Thunder Force, My Octopus Teacher, Pick Of The Litter, Tell Me Who I Am, The Sound Of Music, Cast Away, The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, An American Tail, Gregory’s Girl, Happy Gilmore, The Present, A Love Song for Latasha, Two Distant Strangers, Dollar Babies Stephen King Shorts & the book Roadwork by Stephen King

MOVIES WATCHED IN APRIL (ranked best to worst):

Promising Young Woman – I managed to review this in time for the Oscars. I really liked this one. Full review in the link. – 8/10

Spontaneous – Also reviewed in the link. I loved this movie! Darkly funny & deeply upsetting with great performances from its two leads. – 8/10

Swallow – Another one I reviewed. It’s very disturbing but also a very beautiful looking film. I liked this one quite a lot but would be reluctant to recommend it (it’s about a woman who swallows dangerous objects). Along with the two above this, I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched this year. Full review in the title link and one more image below to show the look of this movie. – 8/10

Bloodsport – Reviewed this as well because I had so much fun watching it and seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme doing painful looking splits through the whole thing. It’s a terrible movie but I tried to explain in my review why I’ve ranked it above things such as the next two movies, which are classics & obviously much better films. But this one was more fun! Here’s a picture of him doing those splits… – 7.5/10

Battleship Potemkin – Watched this for my IMDb Top 250 Project. Think I’d been avoiding this as I thought it was a war movie but was intrigued when I realised it was a silent film from 1925. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel’s officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Mutiny! I like a good mutiny! I’m so glad I gave this a go. It’s a fantastic film. It’s one of those old films that’s just as relevant today. It has police brutality & people fighting back against unfair treatment. It’s surprisingly brutal for the time and a powerful film. It also has the above scene which I assume inspired a similar scene in The Untouchables (another brilliant film). I recommend this one, which is still on U.K. Prime. It’s also very short, not that it should matter, but it was easy to squeeze in a 75 minute film. I should also point out that the movie is based on the real Potemkin battleship. According to Wikipedia (if you want to read more about it): “The Russian battleship Potemkin became famous when the crew rebelled against the officers in June 1905 (during that year’s revolution), which is now viewed as a first step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.” – 7.5/10

The Innocents (1961) – I’d been wanting to see this for years. It’s one of many adaptations of the famous 1898 story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve not read the story, although I really want to now, and I had somehow managed to completely avoid having it spoiled for me in all this time. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be about and I was way off!

This sort of story is so my kind of thing. I love supernatural and I love creepy and I especially love creepy kids (and they’re always extra creepy in old movies). Here’s the very simple IMDb synopsis: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.” I should say that I watched this live on Talking Pictures TV (U.K.). They have a really interesting selection of old films so I recommend checking out their schedule or following them on Twitter (thanks to the hubby for telling me about the channel!).

I don’t really know what to say about this one. For one thing, I want to stay spoiler free for anyone who’s interested in watching this. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a great film. It’s eerie, I loved the scary kids and not knowing what was going on, and Deborah Kerr was very good (that’s two movies I’ve seen her in this year, the other being the beautiful Black Narcissus). I want to read the story now as there’s some psychological stuff going on here and I’d like to see how it’s presented in the novella. This being an old British film, there’s some f*^ked up sexual repression going on here (old British films are the best at that). I think the story can be interpreted in different ways and I’m still thinking about the ending and its meaning. It’s probably why this story remains so popular and is still being adapted to this day (the latest being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor). I’d watch this one again as I missed some of it (the joy of having to watch live TV! First world problems, I know). – 7.5/10

Sound Of Metal – Also reviewed this in full at the link. Good film & performances. – 7/10

Cat People – I’m loving all the classics on BBC iPlayer, especially old classic horror like this & the one below as I shamefully haven’t explored pre-1970 horror much (besides Alfred Hitchcock). This is a great story & I suppose a bit saucy for its time (1942). Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland’s fables if they are intimate together.” I did actually see the 1982 Cat People with Nastassja Kinski years ago but don’t remember a thing now other than I think it was a lot more “sexy” (obviously). Anyway, the girl in this is great (actress Simone Simon playing Serbian immigrant Irena) and I enjoyed the story and there was some cool creepy stuff going on with a panther stalking people (IS it a panther or is it actually Irena? Hmm!). Guess I should watch the sequel, The Curse Of The Cat People, sometime soon. – 7/10

House On Haunted Hill – I have another shameful confession to make: I’m not sure if I’ve seen an old Vincent Price movie before? I may have many years ago but too long ago to remember now. Which is odd, as I loved scary & creepy stories from a young age (my two favorite TV shows as a kid were the Alfred Hitchcock TV show & The Twilight Zone). But I missed out on these sort of films on TV as a kid, I guess. Being my age, Vincent Price to me is the cool voice from Michael Jackson’s Thriller & the awesome inventor in Edward Scissorhands (adore that film). Anyway, to show my age even more, the main reason I’ve wanted to see this for years is because I knew it was the movie the horror-loving character in my favorite Amazing Stories episode was playing on his TV. That was called Go To The Head Of The Class, FYI, and it RULES. It’s a short horror comedy starring Christopher Lloyd & Mary Stuart Masterson (I reviewed it very briefly HERE). I always assumed I’d had the ending of this movie ruined for me but it turned out the scene they used in Amazing Stories wasn’t the ending (phew). It’s a fun story with a lot of twists and back stabbing and you don’t know who can be trusted & what’s going on. Good stuff. I’d happily take recommendations of other old horrors to watch (I’ve always been curious about Hammer Horror films as well…). – 7/10

Audition (オーディション & Ōdishon) – Well, this was fucked up. To be fair, I knew it was going to be fucked up (it’s why I’ve wanted to see it for years). So I grabbed the DVD a few months ago when I saw it very cheap. I’d say it didn’t quite live up to the hype after all this time but I suppose there’s been more “extreme” stuff since this one (I was surprised it’s a 1999 film as I thought it was a bit more recent). I mean, we’ve since had films like Oldboy which was much more shocking. I absolutely hated Oldboy, by the way – it took things way too far and I found it disgusting but I do realise that it was made for shock value. I wanted to see Audition as I love foreign films & especially love Japanese films and I always like a good horror.

I’d say the movie starts out quite well as we watch this widower go about living his life with his likeable teenage son until a friend of his has the idea to set up a fake movie audition so the widower can interview a bunch of unsuspecting young women to see if any could be a potential new wife. Of course they’re all half his age. I’m always uncomfortable with hints of sexual abuse involving children in movies and wasn’t surprised to find that be a part of this as there needs to be some sort of explanation for a woman ending up being a complete psycho in a film. But does there? Does that always have to be the damn reason? Can we not just be CRAZY for no good reason, dammit?!

Anyway. It’s a good movie & I can see why extreme horror lovers like it as, even though it starts out as a pretty straightforward film, it goes batshit crazy at the end. I do like movies that have a sudden shift like that. But I didn’t like the development of the woman’s character in this. Well, I didn’t feel her character was very developed at all. Why is she doing this, besides the sexual abuse she endured which the movie happily hinted at? For some reason I’d heard this was a feminist film but I’d say it’s the opposite? Plus, the main guy isn’t a bad guy – he’s just lonely since his wife’s death and it was his friend’s idea to set up the fake audition anyway. And god I was SO worried about their adorable dog the whole time.

This review is all over the place… I’m not really sure how I felt. As I said, I think it’s a good film (as in well made) so I’m giving it a decent rating. I did really like elements of it but was disappointed overall as it’s not as good as the hype made it out to be. I’ve not seen any other Takashi Miike films but would possibly watch another based on this. First Love is on Sky & I’m curious about that one. Anyone seen it? – 7/10

Love And Monsters – This was a lot of fun but I weirdly have very little to say about it. Don’t know why. It’s a fun idea and the main character is sweet & likeable and OH MY GOD I loved the cute dog in it and there’s a fun robot and I LOVE robots (and cute dogs!) and there are funny big monsters and there’s honestly nothing to not like about this one. It also feels very original, which I can say about very few films these days. It’s a fun family film (well, not for really young kids but fine for slightly older ones). But I didn’t quite connect with it when I thought I’d really love it. I liked it. It’s good. Maybe I just need to watch it again sometime… Cool Robot above, Cute Dog below! – 7/10

Splinter – Was recommended this one (thanks, Film Miasma!). Didn’t really know anything about it but think I may have avoided it at the time as the poster looked so nasty and I’m a wuss with really gross stuff. Well, it is pretty gross to be fair. But it’s kind of borderline body horror gross in that sort of fake-looking way that I like from old Cronenberg movies so I was fine with this. The characters are also strong, which is important to me (especially as horror movie characters are so often rubbish & hateful). We even have a baddie who ends up not being such a baddie after all & I liked that. And the girl is pretty kick ass. It’s also mostly set in one place while they’re trapped in a gas station by this weird, um, parasite thing and I’m always impressed with movies that manage to stay interesting in pretty much just one location. Here’s the IMDb synopsis if you’re interested: “Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still-living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.” – 6.5/10

Bad Girls – How did I never see a Drew Barrymore movie?! I watch all her movies! We grew up together. She’s my buddy! Mary Stuart Masterson is in this as well & I love her too so I immediately watched this when it showed up on Disney Star. I’m being very kind with my rating as this movie admittedly isn’t the greatest. But I liked having four female lead characters trying to escape evil men in the Old West. Drew is the sexy one & Madeline Stowe is the badass smart one & Andie MacDowell is the girly one and Mary Stuart Masterson is the nice one. And there are two nice guys but the rest are a bunch of rapists and of course the four women were all prostitutes since that’s all women were allowed to be in the Old West (according to movies, anyway – I don’t know if that’s true?!). Anyway, it’s a fun but dumb movie and of course a bit dated now. I wasn’t that thrilled at the ending (not the very end but just before that). I wanted them to get more revenge. – 6.5/10

Palm Springs – This is one of those movies that all of Film Twitter was going on about & saying it was one of the best films of 2020 & I was just completely underwhelmed when I finally saw it. It’s good but I’ve certainly seen better. It’s yet another take on the Groundhog Day idea of living the same day over & over again. Which is fine as, actually, some of the movies using this idea have been quite good. Edge Of Tomorrow is great. Another movie, called The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, just came out this year & was far more enjoyable than Palm Springs (in my opinion). Hell, I think I even enjoyed Before I Fall more and that was pretty cheesy. Then of course there’s Happy Death Day & its sequel which are fun but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (my hubby hated those). Palm Springs is probably a bit better than those two but I just found the two lead characters stuck in this “same day” to be too self-absorbed & unlikeable. I didn’t really give a shit if they would ever escape their predicament as I didn’t care about them. The best thing about the movie was J.K. Simmons & I ended up caring much more about his character. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too picky lately. The movie is fun and still manages to have (yet another) fairly unique twist on this same idea. Watch it if you like Andy Samberg, I guess (maybe I don’t). – 6.5/10

The Fundamentals Of Caring – This was fine. One of those fun “buddy” road trip movies that’s perfectly pleasant to watch but you’ll probably forget all about it in a year. Who doesn’t love Paul Rudd, though? He’s adorable. He’s hired to be the caregiver for the character played by Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez joins them on their journey to go see a big cow. Or something like that. See? I’ve already forgotten. – 6.5/10

Run – This one was “fine” as well. Man I’m bored with movies that are just “okay”! But I do love a good ’90s-style thriller and do love a CRAZY MOM (Margaret White is the best!). So I did enjoy this movie despite it not being very good. Actually, I should move it up a couple places as I probably enjoyed it more than the previous two movies but, nah, I’m too lazy and it doesn’t deserve it anyway. The young girl, Kiera Allen, was good but Sarah Paulson was a bit silly. I liked the story and the couple of twists at the end were fun. Okay, I’ve kind of talked myself into liking this one. Wish it was a better film overall. – 6/10

Teen Spirit – This was boring. It looked like a fun “teen talent search” movie so I watched it with my daughter but we ended up barely paying attention. Elle Fanning was fine but seemed very miscast. The director is Max Minghella so it’s probably hard to try to live up to his father Anthony Minghella’s reputation (I preferred Teen Spirit to that boring ass The English Patient movie, though! Hahaha!). This had some fun pop songs in it, at least. But, like, worse versions of those songs since they were sung by worse singers. It had a Grimes song too (sung by Grimes)! It’s funny – I absolutely loved two songs by Grimes on her 2012 album (the songs Oblivion and Genesis, which I wrote about HERE). Now they’re suddenly sticking those two songs in teen movies all the time lately since her weird Elon Musk relationship. Well, it’s one of those two songs again but I can’t remember which one. Also, I know this movie is set in the U.K. (well, Isle Of Wight to be precise) and I know we have no sun in the U.K. but, holy shit, why was this movie so dark?! Couldn’t see a damn thing! Whatever. This movie wasn’t bad just meh. Have to say I far preferred a quirky little film I saw recently starring Max Minghella (Elvis And Anabelle with Blake Lively). – 6/10

The House Of Tomorrow – This was even more boring. Don’t know why exactly, as it had some pretty big names & talent in it. I, again, just didn’t care all that much for the characters and the friend the main boy makes plus his sister are kind of assholes. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis that talked me into watching this because it sounded really cool: “The film tells futurist, architect, and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller’s incredible story through two teens hoping to get laid, become punk gods, and survive high school.” I wanted way more punk music than we got in this movie. – 6/10

Thunder Force – Yeah… This was bad. Really bad. But I expected it to be bad, so, there you go. I dunno. I got a couple laughs out of this as there were some jokes totally aimed at ’80s kids (like, totally). No young people will have laughed at those jokes, I guess. And I kind of liked Jason Bateman having, um, crab arms for whatever reason I missed since I wasn’t paying much attention. Crab arms. Why?! Who knows! – 4.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Documentaries:

My Octopus Teacher – Reviewed in full at the link. I loved this little octopus! – 7.5/10

Pick Of The Litter – This is a documentary following a litter of five puppies as they grow up and are trained to become guide dogs. This was fascinating as I’ve often wondered how they go about training dogs for such an important job. I didn’t realise that quite a few don’t actually pass the tests to become guide dogs. Watched this with my daughter & we loved it. We were really rooting for each of the dogs to pass all the tests! You get to know each of the dogs & their personalities so that was great. And it was so heartwarming when they decided what to do with one of the dogs who failed (I just about cried! I never do that). Plus, of course, these dogs were adorable and I was totally in love with all of them. Gotta add one more picture of one of these cuties! – 7/10

Tell Me Who I Am – Not gonna lie, I really have to force myself to watch documentaries and would rather just watch a film instead. I especially struggle to watch depressing documentaries: Watching cute puppies is more my speed. But I was intrigued by this IMDb synopsis: “After losing his memory in an accident, Alex Lewis trusts his twin brother, Marcus, to tell him about his past only to discover that he’s hiding a dark secret about their childhood.” Well, it wasn’t going to be a nice secret, was it, or else he wouldn’t have kept it from his brother for years. And it IS horrible and it’s a hard watch. The most interesting thing to me was wondering whether the brother who knew the truth did the right thing or not to keep it hidden. I honestly don’t know. I can see why he did it, but… I don’t know. It probably wasn’t the right thing to do. A very difficult situation for everyone involved. – 6.5/10

Shorts:

Saw loads of short films in April. First, I did very brief reviews of these three as they were nominated for Oscars:

The Present
A Love Song for Latasha
Two Distant Strangers

Stephen King Shorts:

Then there was a great online film festival in April put on by Barker Street Cinema (Twitter account HERE). Over three nights, they aired loads of Stephen King short films, called the “Dollar Babies”. These are the short stories Stephen King lets students and aspiring filmmakers have the rights to for just one dollar. I think that’s such a great idea and it was cool seeing a bunch of adaptations as I absolutely love King’s short stories. I’m just heartbroken they could only be aired that one time & they were on American time so I only caught the first ones each night as I couldn’t stay up all night long. I did manage to watch those listed below. They were all good (but you know I love ranking things so I’ve at least ranked them even though I’ve not reviewed them). My favorite was Red Clark’s Gray Matter from 2017. And I loved seeing the oldest Dollar Baby, The Last Rung On The Ladder from 1987, as that’s an all-time favorite King story of mine (and not a horror, just a sad story). You can read the tweets about each short film on the Stephen King Rules Twitter account HERE. (Oh, and I ranked all the King books I’ve read HERE if you’re interested.)

The Dollar Baby Shorts I Saw:

Gray Matter
The Last Rung On The Ladder
The Doctor’s Case
Dedication
The Boogeyman
L.T.’s Theory Of Pets
All That You Love Will Be Carried Away
My Pretty Pony
One For The Road
Paranoid

And finally, thanks to Emma at emmakwall (explains it all) for posting about this freaky short on YouTube called Curve (the image I posted at the top of this Shorts section). It’s about a woman who wakes up on a slippery curved wall over a black hole we can’t see the bottom of & it’s scary as hell. You can watch it HERE.

Movies Rewatched In April:

The Sound Of Music – Rewatched this with the kid one lazy weekend afternoon as we both love this film. What can I say about it? I think this movie is perfection & easily my favorite musical along with The Wizard Of Oz. LOVE IT. – 10/10

Cast Away – Enjoyed rewatching this as I’d not seen it since going to it when it was released in 2000. I actually liked it even more this time around. Think I could identify more with Tom Hanks & his relationship with Helen Hunt now that I’m 20 years older. Could really feel the heartbreak at the end. – 7.5/10

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – This is a 2021 film that I really liked. I wouldn’t normally rewatch something so soon but I rewatched it with my daughter as I thought she’d really like it too (she did). I think this is quite a good movie & a better twist on the “Groundhog Day” idea than Palm Springs was as the characters were far more likeable in this one. My full review is in the link. – 7.5/10

An American Tail – Hadn’t seen this in years but remember thinking that Fievel was adorable and have always loved the Somewhere Out There song (the version sung by the cute mice, not the boring radio version by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram). Nothing has changed. Fievel is still adorable & I still love that song. And now my daughter does too. The movie is good but it’s those two things that really stand out. Here he is singing it below – He’s so cute! – 7/10

Gregory’s Girl – This is a fun Scottish teen movie from 1980. Yeah, it’s very Scottish so you might struggle with the accents if you’re American (I did okay, though!). Obviously, it’s not one I grew up with as I only saw it after moving to the U.K. but I know it’s one that British people have fond memories of. It probably helps that it starts out with naked breasts. Besides that start, though, it’s actually quite a sweet movie about a boy with a crush. I’ll also point out that Clare Grogan from the band Altered Images is in this (I’ve always liked the Happy Birthday song & I Could Be Happy). Oh, and the director (Bill Forsyth) also did the very enjoyable Scottish film Local Hero that I could really do with rewatching as well. – 7/10

Happy Gilmore – I’ve said it plenty on this blog: I have no problem with Adam Sandler. I know it’s “uncool” to like him but I really like several of his movies (and admit that plenty do suck, yes). This one is okay – it’s somewhere in the middle of all those I’ve seen (I ranked his movies in that link). It’s not brilliant like The Wedding Singer but it’s got some funny moments. And Carl Weathers is in it! So that’s cool. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

BOOKS READ

Roadwork by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) – I’m re-reading the four stories in the original The Bachman Books as it’s been over 20 years since I read them. I remembered loving The Long Walk & liking The Running Man a lot but didn’t remember a thing about the other two. Well, I reviewed The Long Walk & Rage HERE last month.

I can see why I didn’t remember Roadwork as it’s not one of King’s more memorable stories. It’s about a guy who goes off the deep end when a new road being built means both his house & his company will be torn down. I’ll be honest – I haven’t quite finished reading it but I’m almost done & am gonna just review it anyway. I think the story is far longer than it needed to be. It does drag on & I’ve not been eager to pick it up & keep reading, which is why it’s taken me over a month to read a novella. While the reader does have some sympathy for the guy, especially as he had a tragedy in his past, he’s really hard to fully sympathise with overall (especially as he doesn’t care at all about ruining his wife’s life along with his). The story is okay, I guess. I always enjoy reading King’s writing but this certainly isn’t a favorite. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Children Of The Stones: Episodes 1-3 – This is a 1977 British TV mini-series available on YouTube. It’s about a small town with a mysterious stone circle which may be making the town’s residents a little crazy. Or something like that. I don’t know – I’ve only watched 3 of the 7 episodes so far but something weird is going on & I love weird. The people living in the town are acting like The Stepford Children at the moment and a father & son new to the town are wondering what the hell is going on. Strange race of people! No one knows who they were or what they were doing! And there’s this eerie painting of people dancing around the stones & great creepy-ass singing & chanting going on in the episodes. I’m enjoying it so far as this is SO my kind of thing. I love the supernatural & stuff like The Wicker Man & Stonehenge (which I made my hubby take me to a few times after moving to the U.K.). That might be partly to do with loving the Spinal Tap Stonehenge song too… (Oh, I’m totally going to add that song to the end of this post!).

If this sounds like your kind of thing too, it’s worth checking it out on YouTube. Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia page about it to maybe further convince you: “The series is today considered a landmark in quality children’s drama and has been called “the scariest programme ever made for children”. The series follows the adventures of astrophysicist Adam Brake and his teenage son Matthew after they arrive in the small village of Milbury, which is built in the midst of a megalithic stone circle.

It’s a real place, too (Avebury, Wiltshire). So I might have to go check it out & pretend I’m living in ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history

My Name Is Earl: S1 Episodes 1-13 – Finished watching all of Raising Hope on Disney Plus, which the kid loved, so talked her into watching My Name Is Earl next as it’s from the same guy. She’s loving this too. I was a big fan when it was on but, for whatever reason, missed the last season or so. I’m really enjoying rewatching this as I think it’s a really funny show (and Randy cracks me up). The humor is a little iffy so I’m not sure how this & Raising Hope haven’t been “cancelled” yet. So we better binge these while we can!

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 Episodes 1-5 – They FINALLY started showing the latest season here in April. God I hate myself for watching this show but I can’t stop now after spending 17 years on it!!! This season is about f*^king Covid. Thanks for the escapism, Grey’s Anatomy!!! Sheesh.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: S1 Episode 4 – I’m sorry, I can’t get into this show at all. I’m not a huge Marvel fan but like everything well enough & have watched all the MCU films. But, after WandaVision being so fun & different, this show is a big disappointment. Also, I don’t remember now but I THINK episode 4 was the one that ended so violently?? Like, wow – that was very violent for something available to kids on Disney Plus. Well, I’ll watch the final two episodes eventually but it’s obvious I’m in no hurry. Always watched WandaVision ASAP…

Dinosaurs: The kid is watching this on Disney Plus. I tried to watch a couple of episodes. I wasn’t into the show back in the ’90s & I can see why. As my hubby pointed out, you’re better off watching short clips of the show’s funniest bits. It’s why the kid wanted to watch this, as she liked clips of the baby. Full episodes feel very long…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Well, I watched too much in April & it took forever to do this post & now I’m stressed out. I’ll slow down on the movie-watching (a little!) as I suppose I need to start mentally & physically preparing myself to re-join society in a month or two (do I have to?!). But I’m not off to a good start as I’ve already watched 6 movies in the first 3 days of May. Oops. Well, this is what I’ve watched if you’re interested. Maybe I should try to post full reviews of some of these through the month…

The Invisible Man (2020) – 7.5/10
The Hunt (2020) – 7.5/10
Happiest Season – 7/10
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – 7/10
Good Boys – 6.5/10

The Crow – 9/10 (Rewatched this for the first time in years & I still love it).

And now I’ll end this post with Stonehenge by Spinal Tap since I keep thinking of it while watching Children Of The Stones.