Lucky (2017) Review

Lucky (2017)

Directed by John Carroll Lynch

Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of 90-year-old Lucky as he comes to terms with his own mortality and searches for enlightenment. It was one of Stanton’s final onscreen roles before his death.

My Opinion:

This was just fantastic. Being a fan of Harry Dean Stanton, I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to watching what I knew was one of his final films before his death.

Stanton rightly deserved the praise he got for this role. He’s absolutely brilliant as Lucky. You can really feel the emotion in this film, as he comes to terms with his own mortality as well as that of his character. And the emotional impact of that final shot is up there with the image on the swings in Ikiru. Utterly devastating yet uplifting at the same time. Only the very best films and/or performances manage that extremely tricky combination without coming across as contrived. Harry Dean Stanton does it perfectly.

This movie reminded me a lot of Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge, which I watched recently and also really enjoyed. Not the story but the way they both showed “local community Americana” and the different types of people who make up those communities & how they interact. I’m always a sucker for small-town-America-with-quirky-characters movies. Growing up in very small-town America, I can totally relate to movies with that sort of setting and have a real love/hate relationship with the town I grew up in. I couldn’t wait to escape it but I also can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else when I die. Morbid. Sorry! Contemplating my own mortality myself lately. However, I grew up in a town in the Midwest & not in a lovely small desert town in California like in this film. Almost made me want to change my dream of retiring in Maine to retiring in a town like this one instead. Such beautiful scenery.

I haven’t done a blog post in a while so wanted to just quickly write something about Lucky as I found it very moving. I clearly love the art of cinema and it’s because of films like this one. I don’t normally care that much about the performances or choice of actors, as long as they aren’t “bad” at acting, but Stanton is fantastic in this. I agree with the film’s poster that it’s the performance of a lifetime. And I think that when you reach the age of 90 that you should be allowed to go around shouting “C*nts!” as much as you want.

R.I.P. Harry Dean Stanton. You’re missed but your performances will live on.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Columbus (2017) Review

Columbus (2017)

Directed & Written by Kogonada

Starring: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Michelle Forbes, Rory Culkin, Parker Posey

Cinematography by Elisha Christian

Music by Hammock

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows the son of a renowned architecture scholar (John Cho) who gets stranded in Columbus, Indiana and strikes up a friendship with a young architecture enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) who works at the local library.

My Opinion:

This popped up on Amazon Prime U.K. & I’d never really heard anything about it. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try! I thought it was a beautiful film. I’d have to say it’s probably even my favorite film I’ve seen (for the first time) so far in 2022. And I watched it just after finally seeing Spielberg’s West Side Story. Both are lovely films to look at but this one moved me more.

This is one of those films that people will either love or will find extremely boring. So I’m not recommending this to everyone (Film Miasma – you’ll probably want to avoid this one). 🙂 It’s about a very bright & promising girl (Haley Lu Richardson) with a deep love of architecture who stays in her town of Columbus, Indiana to take care of her mother instead of going to college & pursuing her dreams. She then meets John Cho’s character, who is the son of a famous architect who was due to give a lecture in the town. He doesn’t share his father’s love of architecture but sees how much it means to Richardson’s character and, like everyone else in her life, thinks she needs to move on with her life & make something of all her potential.

I have to say that I have pretty much no interest in architecture whatsoever. Well, that’s maybe not entirely true as I do find the design of some buildings very interesting (and think a lot are ugly, like cities with too many skyscrapers). But I have no knowledge whatsoever about architecture. I do know that Frank Lloyd Wright was from my home state not far from where I grew up & he’s really famous, right? For me, this is one of those films that really conveys someone’s love for something & has you understanding how they feel and, hell, I think I fell in love with architecture a little bit too by the end of the movie. I think her character also gets Cho’s character starting to understand his father a bit better despite not having a great history with him.

I think both Cho & Richardson were very good in this film but Richardson especially shines. I know she’s done plenty of other movies but, based on this role, I’m surprised she hasn’t become bigger in the more “Oscar-friendly” type of roles. Speaking of which, this feels exactly like the type of thing that the Academy normally goes for so I don’t understand how it got no nominations that year? At least for cinematography & directing if nothing else? Really?! Was it just too indie? Maybe I just know nothing about anything and I admit to knowing nothing about filmmaking but this has a real Nomadland (as in, that sort of Oscar nominee) vibe. But I liked this one far more than that one. It looks like it did get plenty of Independent Spirit Award nominations, so that’s good, and lots of others for awards I’ve never heard of (9 wins & 32 nominations). Oh, and Indie Queen Parker Posey is also in this & I liked her character too.

I wanted to do this review as a separate post since there are so many lovely images from this movie that I wanted to include. As far as its look, it reminded me of the beginning of the movie Swallow (although that’s a very different film). Something about the lighting or cinematography or something. I don’t know but that had a lovely house in it with lots of windows & natural light & I just really liked the look of both movies. Also, I didn’t give the music much thought while watching this but later realised the score was quite peaceful & I think helped give this movie, along with the cinematography, a calm sort of vibe that I appreciated. So I looked up who did the score & it was done by Hammock. Here they are on Wikipedia – they’ve done a lot of “Ambient, post-rock, shoegazing” music. Shoegazing?! I’d not heard of that genre before. I had to look it up! Here you go (from Wikipedia again).

Well, I liked this movie a lot but would totally understand if someone didn’t like it. It’s definitely not for everyone but I thought it was a lovely looking film with well written & likeable characters who all worked really well together. Happy I checked it out & am not sure why I’d heard nothing about it at the time.

My Rating: 8/10

Vivarium (2019) & Dave Made A Maze (2017) Reviews

Two quick reviews of two weird movies before I post my January Roundup post…

Vivarium (2019)

Directed by Lorcan Finnegan

Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Some Creepy Kid

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.

My Opinion:

Wow, this was pretty fucking weird. So, since I love weird, I really enjoyed it. And, like most weird movies, I’d be very hesitant to actually recommend it to anyone as they’d hate it & probably think I was a weirdo. Which I am but, you know, I try to hide that in real life…

Here I am watching an Imogen Poots movie again. Why do I seem to watch all her movies?? *Poots!* Jesse Eisenberg is in this too. Man I hate him but, whatever – I don’t care too much who is in a movie anyway as I care more about the story & the overall movie itself so I guess he was tolerable. I really liked this story and the look of all the identical houses in this eerie neighborhood that the couple find themselves trapped in & unable to escape after a creepy “real estate agent dude” brings them there to show them a house.

It’s a bizarre film and I suppose part of the reason I liked it was that it had a Twilight Zone vibe & that (original series) TV show will forever be my absolute favorite. Adore it. This movie reminds me of one very specific Twilight Zone episode where a couple wake up in an empty town (Stopover In A Quiet Town is the episode if you’re curious. A classic!). So I loved the feel of this film. It was bonkers & unsettling & the kid in it gave me the absolute creeps. And I’m still not 100% sure what the hell was going on or what the point of the whole thing was but it was certainly one of the more entertaining stories I’ve seen in a while. I guess it was about being stuck in suburbia & doing exactly what society expects of you.

If you love The Twilight Zone or maybe a bit of Black Mirror or if you just like your films to be weird & unpredictable because like me you watch too many movies & get bored seeing the same old shit, it might be worth checking this one out (I saw it on Film4). You might hate it. You might love it. You probably won’t forget it. And the kid might haunt your nightmares.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Dave Made A Maze (2017)

Directed by Bill Watterson

Starring: Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Kirsten Vangsness, Stephanie Allynne, James Urbaniak, Scott Krinsky, Adam Busch, John Hennigan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film centers on the titular Dave who builds a cardboard fort that somehow supernaturally houses an entire labyrinth full of deadly traps and creatures.

My Opinion:

Another weird film that I also, of course, enjoyed. I’m a creep! I’m a weeeeeiiiiiiirdooooooo! Amazon Prime had been pushing this on me for a while & I suddenly decided to give it a try one day when I noticed it was only 80 minutes (I’m not one of these “I can’t watch long movies!” people – I just don’t have much spare time). Again, like Vivarium, I loved the concept. This artist dude builds a maze of cardboard boxes & gets lost and trapped inside it as it grows & takes on a life of its own. His girlfriend enlists the help of some of their friends to go in after him but they of course end up trapped too.

It’s a fun film and a mix of genres (fantasy, adventure, comedy & horror according to Wikipedia). The characters are pretty likeable & the “horror” is only comedy horror with some funny cartoonish blood. Where Vivarium made me think of a good Twilight Zone episode, the synopsis of this one made me think of an absolutely fantastic short story called Voluntary Committal by Joe Hill in his collection 20th Century Ghosts (which I highly recommend if you like good short stories). They’re very different stories overall but I like the concept of a spooky maze made out of boxes, I guess. Anyway – this is a fun film & the plot is unique so check it out on Amazon Prime if you want a short film with a quirky sense of humor.

My Rating: 7/10

My Top Ten 21st Century Horror Movies

I figured it was time to update this list that I first posted five years ago. I did update it a few times but I can no longer bring up the post in my WordPress phone app to update it. How annoying! (I’m too lazy to do anything on this blog that I can’t do in the app). So here it is re-posted with lots of new stuff added.

This was originally a Top 20 but I’ve had to make it a Top 40 this time. This is partly thanks to me deciding to include horror comedies in the list now. I already did a separate list of My Top Ten Horror Comedies but those have now also been added into all the lists I’ve been posting this week in time for Halloween:

My Top Ten Foreign Language Horror Movies
My Top Ten Pre-1970 Horror Movies
My Top Ten 1970-1999 Horror Movies

Here are some I’ve left out as I don’t consider them horror: The excellent Battle Royale & Under The Skin. Also these that I really enjoyed: One Hour Photo, Colossal, Turbo Kid, Hobo With A Shotgun & VFW.

And, like my 1970-1999 list, I’ve grouped some things together such as franchises & a few directors I appreciate. Also, as with all my lists, I’m sure I’ve forgotten to include some great movies. In this case, as I started my blog in 2012, it’s most likely I forgot movies before the year 2012 as I wasn’t keeping record of them like I do now.

So here’s my ranked list counting down to My Top Ten 21st Century Horror Movies:

Top Forty:

40. Rubber
39. TIE: Grabbers & The Final Girls
38. Color Out Of Space
37. The Conjuring Universe (The first film the best by far but I’ve liked the rest okay as well)
36. The Secret Of Marrowbone
35. Ti West (My favorites: The House Of The Devil & The Innkeepers)
34. Mike Flanagan (He has some higher on the list but I wanted to mention these too: Hush & Absentia)
33. TIE: The Hunt (2020) & The Invisible Man (2020)
32. Circle (2015)
31. Ginger Snaps

Top Thirty:

30. Trick ‘r Treat
29. Us
28. Ari Aster (I want to love his work more than I do but I find it interesting & want more of it, hoping to connect more with one of his films someday. I prefer Midsommar but Hereditary has some great moments)
27. Tucker And Dale Vs Evil
26. [Rec]
25. TIE: The Platform & The Host (2006)
24. The Girl With All The Gifts
23. The Purge (I’ve quite liked all of these films – I like the concept)
22. Gerald’s Game
21. Spontaneous

Top Twenty:

20. Shaun Of The Dead
19. A Quiet Place
18. The Village
17. The Orphanage
16. Final Destination (First film but the sequels I’ve seen have been pretty decent too)
15. The Others
14. Land Of The Dead
13. A Tale Of Two Sisters
12. Slither
11. Let The Right One In

****Top Ten:****

10. The Descent

9. TIE: The Mist & It/It: Chapter Two (Sadly, the first one was much better than Chapter Two…)

8. 28 Days Later… (28 Weeks Later also good)

7. Doctor Sleep

6. It Follows

5. Pan’s Labyrinth

4. Mandy

3. Train To Busan

2. The Babadook

1. Dawn Of The Dead

Lots Of Honorable Mentions:
30 Days Of Night (Remember really enjoying this but need to rewatch it), The Cabin In The Woods (Need to rewatch this too), Saw (First film only – hate the rest), Pontypool (Wanted to squeeze this into the Top 40), The Wailing, The Boy, Honeymoon, Cloverfield, What We Do In The Shadows, The Babysitter, Dead Snow, Teeth, Black Sheep, Splice, 1408, My Little Eye, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, Ready Or Not, The Ritual, One Cut Of The Dead, Krampus, Ma, Horns, Child’s Play, Zombieland, Warm Bodies, Willy’s Wonderland, Vivarium, Malignant, Fresh

Ghost Stories (2017) & Starry Eyes (2014) Reviews

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-reviews of Ghost Stories & Starry Eyes. I wasn’t a fan of either…

Ghost Stories (2017)

Directed & Written by Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman

Based on Ghost Stories by Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman

Starring: Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Martin Freeman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ghost Stories is a 2017 British horror film written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, based on their 2010 stage play of the same name. It stars Nyman reprising his role from the play, as a man devoted to debunking fraudulent psychics, who is tasked with solving three unexplained paranormal events.

My Brief Opinion:

Wow. This was boring. I normally enjoy horror anthologies and this sounded good on IMDb: “Skeptical professor Phillip Goodman embarks on a trip to the terrifying after finding a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions.” The overall story was pretty good, in a Twilight Zone type of way, but the individual stories were bog standard ghost/demon stories and the ways they were presented weren’t at all scary (I’m never a fan of seeing too much, especially when the effects & make-up look cheesy). And the “twist” ending, which was okay, didn’t make up for the previous almost hour and a half of cheesy, boring hauntings. Modern horror is so often a huge disappointment for me.

My Rating: 5/10

Starry Eyes (2014)

Directed & Written by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer

Starring: Alexandra Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Noah Segan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Starry Eyes features Alexandra Essoe as a hopeful young starlet that finds that fame’s price is not always easily paid.

My Brief Opinion:

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

My Rating: 2.5/10

Unicorn Store (2017) Review

Unicorn Store (2017)

Directed by Brie Larson

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Karan Soni, Mamoudou Athie, Mary Holland, Hamish Linklater

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

My Opinion:

Figured I’d give this a watch because 1) There’s a bunch of weird hate aimed at Brie Larson & I wanted to give her film a chance because I like her as an actress and 2) Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson. I love Jackson. Plus it’s cute that these two seem to be real-life friends. Oh, I suppose there’s also a little bit of 3) I’m a girl so I liked unicorns as a child too, of course.

This movie is perfectly fine. I realize that doesn’t sound like much of a compliment. What I mean is that it’s what I expected: It’s a bit quirky with an indie feel and certainly won’t be liked by everyone. Is it aimed more at females? Yes, but I think all of Larson’s hardcore fans will like it since they like her. It’s very much aimed at her sort of fanbase. “Millennial dreamers” is probably the best way to describe who this movie was made for. If you liked La La Land, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t like this. I probably feel like same way about both films but know that they’re not of my generation so I can’t fully relate to either. They’re enjoyable enough films for a one-time watch, though.

I’ll start with the positives: It may sound stupid but I liked Brie’s cute outfits. I mean, they were like what an 8-year-old stuck in a 30-year-old’s body would wear but it reminded me of the crap I wore in the Eighties and I’m a sucker for nostalgia. It was a little weird but fun to see. I actually watched this with my kid and she was loving the outfits. In fact, she seemed to like this movie quite a bit more than I did so I probably got slightly more enjoyment out of this film thanks to seeing her reaction. And the film’s use of color overall was pleasant to the eye – I’m always a fan of that (although it’s no Mandy! that’s a film that did the color thing right). One more positive? There were Care Bears. As a child of the Eighties, I’ll give this film an extra half a point for the Care Bears. Another positive? Oh Shit. I can’t think of anything. I really thought there’d be more. I’m trying to be positive since I think too many people shit on Brie!


Here’s a positive: I can fully understand why some people actually seem to love this movie and are able to relate to it. If I were ten or even twenty years younger, I think I’d be one of those people. When I was younger, this type of film is very much the sort of thing that I loved. I have some very quirky, “indie” favorites from the Eighties and Unicorn Store has a similar feel to those films despite having slightly different values. So I absolutely wouldn’t tell anyone who loves this that they’re “wrong” (who does that anyway?!) as I can relate to loving non-mainstream movies aimed at my generation. Hopefully that respect can go both ways eventually. What I’m saying is this: Can we ALL stop shitting on movies not aimed at our generation?! My generation loved Eighties films and we still do. Respect our opinions on things like The Breakfast Club and Heathers and we’ll respect yours on things like Unicorn Store. I do at least try to give all films a chance, no matter what year they were made.

Unicorn Store is fine but go into it knowing that it’s right at home on something like Netflix. It has a TV movie feel more than a mainstream cinema release. Some very good actors feel very wasted in this (the always delightful Joan Cusack & especially Jackson, whose role is silly but not silly enough to let his crazy self shine). The movie tries to be quirky yet still plays it far too safe – I was hoping for a lot more weird! But having mentioned Mandy, I’m clearly just a fan of weird. The characters are weak and underdeveloped, including Brie’s. I didn’t relate to her character or really care all that much if she’d actually get that unicorn. It’s a shame as I really wanted to like her. There’s also a weird subplot with a creepy boss that feels out of place and the pacing is very slow but, hell, my kid seemed to be enjoying it so I guess it held her attention well enough. The story itself is fun and unique, however, so I appreciate seeing something that I haven’t seen in a million other movies. Man, I struggle with these reviews for movies that are “just okay”. Yeah. Unicorn Store is just okay. Sorry! I wanted to like it a lot more. To be fair, I think it’s one I’d like more on a re-watch. It’s probably a grower. Here’s that extra half a point for the Care Bears…

My Rating: 6.5/10

If you want a really good unicorn movie, I recommend The Last Unicorn. From 1982. Yay Eighties!!!

Oh, and as for Brie Larson & Samuel L. Jackson movies, I did really enjoy Captain Marvel. The hate for that is absolute bullshit. It’s a fun film. Unicorn Store is, however, a better film than Kong: Skull Island (although that was also fun in an almost “so bad it’s good” way). I think Larson & Jackson work well together.

Goodnight Mommy (2014) & Veronica (2017) Reviews

Two more reposts today of two very brief reviews of a couple of foreign horror films that I watched this year. They were just okay. Certainly not great but I’ve seen much worse (especially this year).

Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

Starring: Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don’t recognize.

My Brief Opinion:

This Austrian horror film was another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like it. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Veronica (2017)

Directed by Paco Plaza

Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer, Iván Chavero, Ana Torrent, Consuelo Trujillo, Sonia Almarcha, Maru Valduvielso, Leticia Dolera, Ángela Fabián, Samuel Romero, Carla Campra

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.

My Brief Opinion:

To quote Wikipedia again, Veronica is a Spanish horror movie “Loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board“. It showed up on Netflix with a lot of people saying “scariest horror movie ever!” and shit like that. I guess it’s the only horror movie they’ve ever watched? It was a well-made film with decent acting but it’s not something we haven’t all seen before. However, I liked the characters which is always a plus as we don’t often get likeable characters in this genre. I felt for this poor 15-year-old girl and her sweet younger siblings she’s forced to take care of since their mother is always working. It made the film an okay watch as the story itself was a little bland (especially as, from what I’ve read, it’s only very loosely based on the “true” story).

My Rating: 6/10