CODA (2021) Review

CODA (2021)

Directed by Sian Heder

Based on La Famille Bélier by Victoria Bedos, Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carré de Malberg & Éric Lartigau

Starring: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Emilia Jones as the eponymous CODA (child of deaf adults), the only hearing member of a deaf family, who struggles to balance her attempts to help her family’s struggling fishing business and her own life aspirations.

My Opinion:

Finally! After a week of watching a bunch of the films with Oscar nominations and getting really annoyed at how boring (Nightmare Alley), irritating & unwatchable (Spencer) most of them are, it was great to see something I thoroughly enjoyed. Why do the Oscars nominate so many films that feel like an absolute chore to watch? I’m surprised this was nominated for Best Picture, actually, as the Academy doesn’t often go for a sweet “feelgood” family film. They like dreary & depressing stuff so often but crowd-pleasing can be worthy too. I’m glad they recognised this one. Not sure of its chances but it would be lovely to see it win.

The performances were all great in this as well. Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant & Marlee Matlin all would have been worthy nominees so it’s a shame it’s not up for more acting awards but I’m glad Kotsur was nominated at least. It’s also up for Best Adapted Screenplay so, again, not sure of its chances of winning Best Picture with only three nominations overall but I think Kotsur has a good chance. I really liked these characters & their strong family bond. Yes, it’s a heartwarming film but it’s not overly sentimental or saccharine. They got the balance right on that, which can be hard to achieve, and the film has some great funny moments too. Kotsur & Matlin were especially fun as horny parents still madly in love with each other. I’ve not seen Emilia Jones & Daniel Durant in anything else but this will hopefully get them more roles as they were both brilliant too. All four of them worked really well together & were believable as a family.

Oh, and I loved the setting too. I swear I want to be able to retire to a small East Coast America fishing village (this is set in Massachusetts). I blame Stephen King for that! I’ve just read too many of his stories set in Maine. And….. I can’t think of anything else to say! When I hate a movie, I can ramble on forever moaning about it. CODA is such a good & enjoyable film and there is absolutely nothing negative I could possibly say about it. It’s also not trying too hard to be something its not, which again is why I’m surprised it’s up for Best Picture. It’s a lovely film and I’m happy I got to watch it. (Thanks to my family gifting me that streaming service for Mother’s Day. They know exactly what kind of gifts I like!). Oh, and they both really enjoyed this movie too. It’s a great family film.

My Rating: 8/10

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021) & Spencer (2021) Reviews

Here are two quick reviews in time for the shitty looking Oscars ceremony I really don’t want to watch but probably will. Figured I should check out two of the Best Actress contenders that just showed up on U.K. services. Bloody hell one of these movies was godawful.

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021)

Directed by Michael Showalter

Based on The Eyes of Tammy Faye by Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Tammy Faye Bakker (played by Jessica Chastain), from her humble beginnings growing up in International Falls, Minnesota through the rise and fall of her televangelism career and marriage to Jim Bakker (played by Andrew Garfield).

My Opinion:

I did NOT expect to far prefer this movie out of these two. I had zero interest in even watching this but stuck it on to see an acting Oscar nominee since I’ve only been able to watch half of the Best Picture nominees (I’ve not seen Belfast, CODA, Drive My Car, King Richard or Licorice Pizza). I’ll say that I knew nothing whatsoever about Tammy Faye Bakker other than, of course, remembering the religious lady with the crazy makeup at the height of her & her husband’s fame (or more like infamy, I guess).

I won’t get into religion as I avoid talking about religion or politics like the plague. I’ll just say it’s a topic I do have a very strong opinion about & I never understood the televangelist thing in America when I lived there. It must make other countries think we’re crazy for supporting what seem like cults but are these ministries as big of a deal as they seem? They must be as they managed to find people to give them millions, making them so damn rich. But who are these people? I never knew anyone who would give money to televangelists?

Anyway. I’m NOT going to get into that. I’ll just say again that I knew nothing about Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker as that kind of thing is utterly & completely foreign to me but this movie made me feel sympathy for her at least. It’s a Hollywood film & I’m not stupid – they can so easily make a person either look good or bad depending on their agenda so I’m not going to just assume it’s 100% accurate. I’m also not interested enough to go looking into its accuracy (sorry). But whether it’s true or not I really liked how genuine she seemed here in her love of God (despite my own beliefs) and embracing the true supposed meaning of Christianity (love & acceptance of everyone no matter their race, gender, sex, sexuality, etc). Yes, despite hiding behind a mask of makeup she seemed more genuine in her beliefs than all the powerful & intolerant men in this film who also became rich in the same way. Again, I’m sure it was exaggerated or more likely entirely fake but I loved the scene where she was just being her sweet self talking about her beliefs while the men her husband idolised clearly wanted this “woman with opinions” to shut the hell up.

Well, as I said I liked this movie and character more than I was expecting. It was probably easier for me to buy into as Bakker isn’t nearly as well-known as someone huge like Princess Diana but Jessica Chastain did seem to do a very good portrayal. There’s plenty to discuss here when it comes to the hypocrisy of rich & powerful “Christians” and there’s probably something psychological with Tammy Faye feeling the need to cover her face in all that makeup. I don’t think the movie really explores any of that at all, though, which is a shame. But it wasn’t a bad film & was a small entertaining look into something I know very little about. At least Tammy Faye, for all her & especially her husband’s obvious faults, embraced what I was always led to believe was the core Christian belief of love & acceptance (?!). In that way, she came across as quite lovely (in this Hollywood film, at least. I dunno). She was a fascinating person. While I don’t think the movie did much in terms of trying to help us to understand her as a person, at least it made us sympathize with her & accept her in the way she seemed to accept others.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Spencer (2021)

Directed by Pablo Larraín

Music by Jonny Greenwood

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, Sally Hawkins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about Princess Diana’s existential crisis at Christmas because she wants to divorce Prince Charles and leave the British royal family.

My Opinion:

What? What on Earth? Who? Why? Huh? Did… Did people actually like this movie? Am I just completely out of touch with film fans these days?! I honestly don’t know where I fit in now. “Regular” people I know in real life who aren’t movie-obsessed like me probably think I have weird & slightly snobby movie tastes (I do) and would hate a lot of the movies I’ve loved in recent years. But then I see Film Twitter & critics praise stuff like this, which I found annoying & pretentious and a chore to finish watching. And it had the most obnoxious & irritating score which just put me on edge the whole time. Which I hate saying as the score was done by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead & they’re easily one of my Top Ten favorite bands ever but, hey, I guess it makes sense as plenty of their stuff from later years was fucking irritating. (But I still love them for having SO many songs I adore)

Is Kristen Stewart’s performance Oscar-worthy? For the most part, I don’t care that much about performances (unless they’re really bad). I care more about Best Picture & the overall film being one that I actually enjoy. So it was hard to judge the performance as I was distracted by hating this movie so much but it seemed awful to me? So over-the-top. It felt like a ridiculous caricature but what do I know about anything?! I think the performance was meant to be an exaggerated version of Princess Diana so maybe Stewart was amazing? Was it?? Was it meant to be hammy??? And I’m just dumb & uncultured???? And I moaned about this in my Being The Ricardos review but, if you’re gonna hire someone who looks nothing like a very well-known real person, at least make sure that actor/actress is DAMN good. So, yay, I just spent two hours watching Kristen Stewart being blonde, glancing sideways a lot, throwing up & talking about masturbating. It just felt insulting to the memory of Princess Diana.


I’m looking down & sideways! I’m Diana!

Screw it. I don’t feel like rambling on forever about hating a movie (for a change). This film, about one of the most interesting & beloved figures in recent history, somehow managed to be an absolute snoozefest. That’s quite a feat, I guess. I’m sorry if anyone reading this liked this film but I’d be very interested to know why as I’m starting to wonder why I like so few films in recent years, especially Oscar nominated ones…

My Rating: 4/10

Nightmare Alley (2021) Review

Nightmare Alley (2021)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Based on Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A grifter working his way up from low-ranking carnival worker to lauded psychic medium matches wits with a psychiatrist bent on exposing him.

My Opinion:

Ugh. Okay, this is going to be a sucky review because I have very little to say about this movie. Well, all my reviews are sucky. So this will be more sucky than usual!

Man, this film was a drag. Guillermo del Toro’s output is kind of all over the place, though. I like some films, like Pan’s Labyrinth (brilliant) and The Shape Of Water. But other films of his are a bit meh. As always, though, I like the style of his movies & this one also has his great signature look to it. So, yay, it looked very pretty. But that didn’t make the movie any less boring. Nightmare Alley ended up like Crimson Peak: A great-looking but dull film. And I think I enjoyed Crimson Peak much more of these two.

How did he manage to make a movie set in an old-school carnival so boring?!? I think we just didn’t get enough of the carnival setting. Disappointingly, that’s only really at the start of the film. I LOVE a carnival/circus setting for movies & books! Freaks is very much a favorite film of mine & I’ve always found that whole lifestyle fascinating. So, when they moved away from that in this film, I really lost interest with the plot which wasn’t very compelling & certainly didn’t need to be dragged out for two & a half hours. Also, not to be rude but I’ve just never really been a fan of Bradley Cooper & he felt wrong for this role. I did think he was very good in A Star Is Born but he just felt out of place here, especially in scenes with Cate Blanchett. I think Blanchett has that true old Hollywood “star quality” so she does tend to outshine everyone in scenes with her but it was even more obvious with Cooper as he just doesn’t have that sort of “presence” at all. Which isn’t good when he’s the main character…

Also, I don’t mind this so much but the hubby complained about the amount of big name stars in this. I do agree it can throw you out of some movies, though, especially fantasies or ones that are meant to be mysterious. It just felt unnecessary to stick so many well known people in even the smaller roles here. Is that what helped it to get a Best Picture nomination? Probably! The Academy does have its favorites. Blanchett is certainly a favorite & they do seem to like del Toro. Hey – at least Nightmare Alley was maybe a little less boring than The Power Of The Dog. Maybe. It’s close.

I had more to say about this than I expected! I feel I’ve been way too harsh because, let’s face it, I’ve never made a movie & del Toro is obviously a good filmmaker. So I’ll end with some positives:

As already mentioned, this movie looks great. I also liked all the performances from the women: Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette (was sad her role was so small) & Rooney Mara. Hubby thinks I have a big girl crush on Rooney Mara. I think I kind of do but don’t know why as I don’t normally go for that tiny waif thing. She has lovely eyes but I think I’m more into Blanchett because she’s always so “sexy cool”. Yes, I liked seeing the two of them in this together briefly after they played lovers in Carol. Yes, I liked Carol and, yes, it kind of made me wonder what I see in men. And I think I just spent too long thinking about Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara so the hubby is gonna read this and think I’m in love with them. Oh, and I also learned something new about old carnivals! I can’t believe I’d never heard of a geek show since I always watch anything to do with carnivals. Anyway, here’s a brief explanation of a geek show from Wikipedia: “The billed performer’s act consisted of a single geek, who stood in center ring to chase live chickens. It ended with the performer biting the chickens’ heads off and swallowing them.” Gross. It sounds like the geeks were treated horribly so it’s a good thing the “geek shows” & the “freak shows” disappeared. It was such a different world back then. (But I did like the thing in the jar in Nightmare Alley as it reminded me of a great episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called The Jar. Loved that show as a kid!)

Here, I’ll be fairly nice with my rating as it obviously must be a good film since it’s an Oscar nominee?!?

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Forever Purge (2021) & No Exit (2022) Reviews

Here’s a two for one! And to think I was going to spend this week reviewing Oscar nominees. Screw that – I have no time for movie award shows that have no time to spend on presenting awards to everyone involved in the filmmaking process. So here are two movies definitely not nominated for any Oscars…

The Forever Purge (2021)

Directed by Everardo Gout

Starring: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Will Patton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a group of people who attempt to escape from the United States after an insurrectionist movement continues committing crimes and murders nationwide after the Purge’s ending.

My Opinion:

Here’s my ranking of all of The Purge films:

The Purge – 7.5/10
The Purge: Election Year – 7.5/10
The Purge: Anarchy – 7/10
The Forever Purge – 6.5/10
The First Purge – 6/10

I don’t really know what’s better of The First Purge & The Forever Purge. I just know that I barely remember The First Purge and that was quite recent so that’s pretty bad. And I think I’ll also barely remember this newest one in a few years. But I still enjoyed them & 6/10 seems a little harsh. Maybe I’ll change my mind & up them half a point (okay, I’ve just upped the rating on this one) . But the first three are far better (and had the same director, so luckily it looks like he’ll be back to directing the sixth film).

For reasons I can’t fully explain, I really like this series of movies. I always love a good concept & I think these movies have a fantastic idea that they’ve never managed to explore in-depth. You’d think we’d get something more meaningful after five films? But I think they’ve managed to evolve the story pretty well & I’m not bored with this idea and know I’ll watch film number six. In this one, a large group of people have decided that the Purge should never end & break the rules by continuing their murder spree after it finishes.


This actress was in The Hunger Games. I know that because my daughter has watched it 2 million times.

I again liked the idea for this movie just fine. If you make all crime legal for one night every year, you’re obviously going to end up with a situation like this so I think it’s a logical progression of the story. I still think they’ve left plenty of situations unexplored, though, so I’m interested to see where they go with the next film. Where they’ve focused plenty on the rich vs the poor so far and the obvious advantages that the rich would have in this situation (as they have with everything in life), this one takes on immigration. I think it worked okay but prefer when they’re a little more subtle with the social commentary. But these films have never been subtle in any way so that’s fine. I think the issue was mostly that this one really dragged in the middle & I lost interest through all of that after it had an okay start.

Well, I like these movies and I’ll keep watching them although I think they have yet to make a truly good film based on this great idea. Maybe they just take things too seriously? This time, it made me think back to The Hunt & how great I thought that was at poking fun at how fucked-up America has become. But maybe that’s just me as I’ve always loved dark humor. It’s a serious issue so maybe these films do need to stick to what they’ve been doing. Maybe they need to take it more seriously? I don’t know but I want to feel like they’ve finally done this idea justice in one of these films. Maybe film number six will be the one?!

Oh, and I’ve not watched The Purge TV series & I don’t know why since I like these movies. I think it’s because a TV series is too much of a commitment for me. Anyone watched that?

My Rating: 6.5/10

No Exit (2022)

Directed by Damien Power

Based on No Exit by Taylor Adams

Starring: Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, Dale Dickey, Mila Harris, Dennis Haysbert

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Havana Rose Liu as a recovering drug addict who discovers a kidnapping in progress while stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard.

My Opinion:

Watched this as it’s a 2022 movie release on Disney Plus & I’m still desperate to see any 2022 films that I can via services. It’s interesting that Disney is getting some new horror/thriller releases (in the U.K.). Last year, I thought The Empty Man was pretty good & The Night House was very much my type of supernatural horror (although it could have been a bit better). No Exit is the most disappointing of the new straight-to-Disney thrillers so far but, hey, it passed the time.

**Edit to add that I’ve just watched Fresh on Disney Plus & that was pretty entertaining. The best of those I’ve mentioned.**

This film pretty much all takes place at a rest stop where these people are stranded during a blizzard & the main character (above) discovers a girl locked in a van. At the rest stop, there are four other adults who become the suspects as she doesn’t know whose van it is. So there was a bit of suspense there at first, which was fine. This is one of those movies where all the characters aren’t very likeable, though, including the main girl and even the young girl who has been kidnapped! You should like the victims at least! It also got a bit too violent for me at the end. Nothing massively gross – I think I just wasn’t in the right mood. Meh. The movie was okay. I’ll forget it in a year. Oh! And Dale Dickey was in this & I always think “the prostitute from My Name Is Earl!” whenever I see her so it’s hard to take her seriously in dramas, etc.

My Rating: 6/10
*This rating is a bit generous. I guess I’m feeling nice. I was too nice to The Forever Purge too.*

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Review

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Directed by Michael Chaves

Story by James Wan, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The Warrens investigate a murder that may be linked to a demonic possession.

My Opinion:

Here’s my ranking of all the Conjuring Universe films:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10
TIE: The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It – 6/10 & The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

The one I don’t really remember well for some reason is The Conjuring 2, so I’ve just put 2 & 3 together because I think they were both fine but not bad like most of the Annabelle movies (although I remember liking the most recent one, which is probably an unpopular opinion). Damn – I just looked online & The Curse Of La Llorona is part of the Conjuring Universe?? Ugh. Now I’ll have to watch that too or I’ll be annoyed at missing one but it looks crap (so it will fit right in…).

Overall, these films aren’t exactly favorites of mine. The one thing I do like is the idea they had to make movies based on the real-life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s a good idea for a series of movies & they’ll be able to make them forever since the couple claim to have investigated over 10,000 cases. But I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about the real people or that I’ve looked much into the “true stories” behind any of the films. The only one I looked into a bit was the Annabelle stuff, which was kind of fascinating. Has there been a documentary about this couple? Probably. I’d maybe watch one but I mostly just like a bit of light horror entertainment & I’m sure these movies are very exaggerated.

I liked this film okay as it’s another one heavily featuring Ed & Lorraine and I prefer when they’re in the movie. I also like the whole satanic horror sub-genre most of the time so the story was fine. You can read about the real murder case in 1981, in which Arne Cheyenne Johnson claimed innocence due to demonic possession, HERE.


Ouch

And… I don’t know. That’s it, really. I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It was the sort of thing I was expecting from another Conjuring film. I enjoy watching them but they’re not very memorable. They do sometimes have some good imagery or things you just know are going to be used in another film, like that ugly Marilyn Manson looking Nun or of course Annabelle, but I can’t think of anything in this one that they’d base another movie on. The Conjuring 2 was probably a bit better than this one, actually – I should rewatch that sometime. Oh, and when I added the cast list to the top of this post I was like “Why isn’t Evan Peters listed?!“. I spent the whole movie thinking he was the one possessed (the actor is Ruairi O’Connor, apparently). So I’m turning into one of those old people who mix young actors up. Pretty soon I won’t be able to name movies just like my relatives who try to talk to me about a movie they saw by saying “Oh, WHAT was the name of that movie? It stars that guy from that other movie? You know the one!“.

My Rating: 6/10


Not Evan Peters

Mass (2021) Review

Mass (2021)

Directed & Written by Fran Kranz

Starring: Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton as grieving parents who meet to discuss a tragedy involving their sons.

My Opinion:

This is one of those 2021 movies that wasn’t released until 2022 in the U.K., so I’m counting it as a 2022 release (I refuse to go by American release dates anymore – it’s too confusing). Finally! A decent 2022 film! This has been a very disappointing year so far on streaming services. This is my ranking now:

Fresh – 7/10
Mass – 7.5/10
The Tender Bar – 6.5/10
Turning Red – 6/10
No Exit – 6/10
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 4.5/10

I’m hoping to see 2022 U.K. release & Best Picture Nominee Nightmare Alley on Disney Plus before the Oscars this weekend to see where that ranks but it’s two and a half hours long so very unlikely the hubby will agree to watching that one. It doesn’t have a chance of winning anyway plus I don’t know why I’m so desperate to see all the Best Picture nominees when the Oscars piss me off more & more in recent years. I think I’m finally finished with the Oscars now if they don’t consider Best Original Score important enough to be awarded live. I’m a huge fan of movie music & know there are movies I love thanks to the score more than anything else (Mandy, Suspiria, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly for example). Imagine movies without John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Thomas Newman, etc etc etc!!!!! So screw you, Oscars!

Oops. I’ll stop ranting and talk about Mass. It’s a good film but obviously a very heavy topic. I’m not a big fan of dramas, either, so it’s always hard to know where to rank stuff like this when I’m a fan of fiction, fantasy & escapism. It’s not like I can say I “enjoyed” this movie as much as, say, A Quiet Place Part II which I watched before this one & liked a lot. And although Mass is fiction it’s a very real and sadly far too common occurrence (in America) & one I find very upsetting. Which is why for now I’ve ranked freaky horror comedy Fresh above Mass even though Mass is of course the better film & I’ve given it a higher rating. Yes, my ratings & rankings are confusing. Ha! Just thought I should try to explain that. And I’ll try to get a review done for Fresh this week…

I guess this might be a spoiler if you know nothing about Mass plus the plot synopsis doesn’t mention it but I’m going to say what it’s about (I think the plot is pretty well known). It’s about two couples who meet to talk to each other six years after a school shooting involving their two sons. They discuss what happened & who is to blame & what could have been done, etc. They meet in a church in a room that has been reserved for them & the whole movie is set there. There are no scenes or flashbacks involving the incident – it’s just these two sets of parents discussing what happened.

I’m not going to get into gun control & the mass shootings that are such a huge problem in America. All I’ll say is that I don’t understand it & it all seems completely insane to everyone living outside of the U.S. This movie thankfully doesn’t go into the main issues too much (mainly gun control vs mental health). They touch on the topics but the focus is more on how this incident has affected the two families. I also didn’t feel the movie forced an agenda, so that was good. I hate movies with an agenda, even when it’s something I totally agree with. The four actors did a good job, especially Ann Dowd and Martha Plimpton as the grieving mothers. All was also revealed by the end, which got pretty intense, and I felt sympathy for all four characters. I can’t imagine being in that situation but I think I’d find it impossible to ever forgive.

Mass is good & I’d recommend it for the performances but you need to be in the right sort of mood for a heavy drama. Too bad it’s not going to change anything in America. Sandy Hook didn’t, so nothing ever will.

My Rating: 7.5/10

West Side Story (2021) Review

West Side Story (2021)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Based on West Side Story by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim & Arthur Laurents

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Rachel Zegler

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.

My Opinion:

I thought this film looked gorgeous. Steven Spielberg is a brilliant filmmaker so of course it was going to be good. Was it necessary when we already had a very good film adaptation in 1961 (which I briefly reviewed last month here)? Probably not, but I suppose it brings it to the attention of a whole new generation plus I think it fleshed out the story a tiny bit more. I still prefer the 1961 film as I like Natalie Wood & go for the more classic feel of that one, I guess. But it was never an absolute favorite of mine when it comes to movie musicals & it still wouldn’t make my top ten (but I did give it an honorable mention in this old list I need to update).

The weakest part of the film was unfortunately, for me, the two leads. Ansel Elgort had no charisma. Rachel Zegler was good but also kind of just a pretty face in a role that probably could’ve been filled by plenty of young actresses. That sounded way too negative! She was good. It was just unfortunate that there was zero chemistry whatsoever between her & Elgort. But, hey – I’d probably say all these exact same things about the 1961 film too. Made it harder to buy into this great big romance in both films.

I agree with what seems to be the general consensus that Ariana DeBose as Anita was the best thing about the film. But Rita Moreno as Anita was the best thing about the ’61 film too. Speaking of which, I also liked Moreno’s character in this version & think it worked well having her play that character. It’s fantastic that they got her into this film and, my god, she looks amazing. She’s 90! Can you believe that?! Anyway – Anita was great both times & Ariana DeBose is deserving of her Oscar nomination. I wish the lead characters had as much life in them.

Spielberg’s version of West Side Story is a very good film and I’m happy if it’s made some younger people get into musicals. But I’ll probably still stick with the 1961 film if I feel in the mood for a rewatch at any time. The songs are still the same either way (I think?! I’m no expert on this as I’ve not watched it multiple times like other musicals). But I did enjoy seeing Spielberg’s lovely vision of this.

My Rating: 8/10

Malignant (2021) Review

Malignant (2021)

Directed by James Wan

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Annabelle Wallis as a woman who begins to have visions of people being murdered, only to realize the events are happening in real life.

My Opinion:

I’d been desperate to see this movie after all the hype last year so was really happy when it popped up on one of my services over the weekend. I enjoyed it. Sadly, it wasn’t nearly as bonkers as I was hoping & expecting from all the talk about it. Have people just not seen any other horror films before this one? The story ended up being about exactly what I thought it was going to be about. But, hey – it’s what I was hoping it would be about since I have a weird fascination with that concept.

It’s very hard to talk about this movie while staying spoiler-free! But I’ll do my best to not spoil it for those who have not yet seen this. I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of James Wan’s work but, wow, it looks like I’ve seen most everything he’s written or directed so I must like his stuff okay. I thought The Conjuring was pretty good & I have to remind myself that I really liked the first Saw film before it turned into the torture porn crap I despise in the sequels. Stuff like those Insidious, Annabelle & The Nun movies, though, are a bit meh. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about Malignant & where I’d rank it compared to his other work. I guess I’d put it above those “meh” ones I mentioned. It was more entertaining & memorable than those & I appreciated its craziness.

From what I’d heard about this being “Giallo-inspired”, I was expecting much more than what we got of that. Having rewatched Suspiria (1977) recently, I realized just how much I love the style of that. I’m a sucker for amazing visuals & I love that about the Argento films. Maybe a few shots in Malignant pay tribute to that style but I wouldn’t compare the film to the small amount of Italian horror that I’ve seen. So I was disappointed to not be getting a full-on ’70s-style horror with Malignant but I appreciated it being more stylish than Wan’s other films.

I also think, with this story’s crazy concept, they didn’t get the tone quite right. The movie took itself a bit too seriously. Although, I’m sure that worked for many people and I can’t really think what they could’ve done better? They took a concept suited for cheesy body horror in the style of Re-Animator, etc, and… Hell, I don’t know. Maybe this movie did kind of work in the style they used. I’ll say this again: I’m old. I’ve seen many movies. I sometimes have to remind myself that current, younger audiences (especially mainstream audiences – movie bloggers are different) haven’t necessarily seen this type of horror story before so I guess I can see why they’d be shocked by the film’s reveal & why so many hardcore horror fans liked this movie. Being a fan of cheesy old body horror, especially Cronenberg’s older films, I guess I have come to expect a different sort of style for this type of horror. I’d say I like my horror to either be very serious, creepy & atmospheric or else I like them to be completely outrageous & silly (I love horror comedies). Malignant is somewhere in the middle of those. I think it maybe could’ve just used some more dark humor but, while writing this paragraph, I’ve talked myself into liking that this isn’t a cheesy old-school body horror. That’s not what a mainstream modern audience are going to go for, either.

Ugh. This is why I mostly stick to my monthly roundup posts with brief reviews in recent years. I ramble on too damn much when I do a review on its own! I’ve blathered on for ages & I’m still not sure how I feel about Malignant. I wanted to love it as it looked SO like my type of thing & I thought it had a fantastic poster. I love a good movie poster! I guess it didn’t quite live up to my really high expectations & I’m trying to convince myself that I liked it by blathering on about it for ages. You know what? I did still like it.

Here’s what I liked:

1. This type of story is right up my alley (hmm – that sounds dirty). I was happy it was what I expected but it also would’ve been nice to be surprised.

2. The characters were quite good for a horror film! The sister & that one detective dude were especially likeable. And I’d say I kind of gave a shit about poor Annabelle Wallis’s main character too. It’s always more enjoyable to me to not have the hateful characters we get in too many horror films.

3. How do I say this & stay spoiler-free?!?! Hmm. I really liked the backwards thing. This story is NOT original but it found a way to differentiate itself a bit from other movies & TV shows that had this same story. And the backwards thing was pretty cool & a lot of fun. This movie got much better after the reveal. I think it needed to be batshit crazy much earlier in the film.

Okay – I’ve talked myself into liking this one. Or at least appreciating it more. I didn’t love it like I’d been hoping but it was certainly entertaining. It could’ve been better but at least it’s more memorable than Wan’s Insidious/Annabelle/Nun things. Let’s hope they don’t try to milk it by making a shitty sequel as this is good as a stand-alone film.

My Rating: 7/10

Old (2021) Review

Old (2021)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Based on Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy & Frederik Peeters

Starring: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, Embeth Davidtz, Emun Elliott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a group of people who find themselves aging rapidly on a secluded beach.

My Opinion:

First of all, here’s my ranking of the M. Night Shyamalan movies I’ve seen:

11. Lady In The Water
10. The Happening
9. The Visit
8. Old
7. Devil
6. Split
5. Glass
4. Signs
3. Unbreakable
2. The Village
1. The Sixth Sense

1-4 are the best by far. 5-9 are all okay & I like them all about the same so don’t take the order of those too seriously because I moved them all around several times. I didn’t like 10 & 11 (although The Happening was kind of weirdly enjoyable).

You either like M. Night Shyamalan or you don’t & I can totally understand those who don’t. I’m a fan because I love a weird story & always love a twist. I don’t agree with people who badmouth him, though, because I like that he’s a filmmaker who continues to give us original stories in between all the sequels, reboots, remakes & superheroes. I want more original content! So I’ll always applaud him for that. Thank you, M. Night Shyamalan!

I think the issue is probably that he’s a better writer than director. Or more like, he can come up with a really good story idea but doesn’t always manage to get it to work fully on screen. But his type of stories are difficult to translate to film so some come across as too silly. I just think by now that you know exactly what you’re gonna get from him, so why would you watch Old if you don’t like his work? It was exactly what I was expecting from him & I liked it just fine despite some really horrible reviews. Is this the first Shyamalan movie those people have ever watched? We know by now that nothing else has lived up to The Sixth Sense (which I still think is fantastic).

I found it interesting to see that Old was based on a graphic novel called Sandcastle. Think it’s the only one of his I’ve seen that’s based on existing material instead of being his own idea? I can see why he went for it as it’s exactly the type of story he writes, so it still worked well in feeling like all his other movies. I liked the story! It was again a good concept and, yes, an unbelievable one. Don’t watch his movies if you can’t suspend disbelief! I’m not someone who goes looking for plot holes, etc etc, since I like so much sci-fi & fantasy & weird shit. It’s nice when everything does make sense & things tie up nicely but I mostly just want to be entertained. Old is far from perfect as a film but I liked seeing these people aging rapidly on this mysterious island and, as always with his films, I was looking forward to the big reveal to explain what the hell was going on. As far as the big reveal, which I of course won’t reveal myself, it was fine. It didn’t blow me away like some of his crazy twists & some clues were there throughout the story but I thought it was still a good ending.

Well, I think I’ve talked about this one for long enough. If you’re not a fan of Shyamalan, I’m not going to somehow convince you to watch this anyway. And it’s not one of his best so not the one I’d recommend to someone new to his movies. I think his characters are often underdeveloped and/or unlikeable & Old is one that suffers from this a bit. So I’d maybe have ranked it higher if the characters had been a bit better. And I suppose it’s one that crosses over into being a little too cheesy at times, which is easy to do with his type of story. But I still liked it & I’ll still continue to watch his movies and be entertained by his ideas.

My Rating: 6.5/10

My Top Ten 2021 Movie Releases

Here’s my last 2021 Top Ten list. Seems a little pointless as I missed 99% of the cinema releases, so this list is pretty much only the stuff that was released to U.K. streaming services in 2021. And the majority of those were extremely disappointing. Luckily, there were several released in December that have made my top ten, so at least we got some decent ones at the very end.

I’ll actually make this one a Top 30 too since that’s what I did with yesterday’s list of older movies seen in 2021, but that list has much better movies in the lower half of it.

Here are My Top Thirty 2021 UK Movie Releases That I Saw:

Top Thirty

30. Army Of The Dead – 6.5/10
29. Cruella – 6.5/10
28. Vacation Friends – 6.5/10
27. Fear Street Part Trilogy – 6.5/10
26. The Guilty – 6.5/10
25. Oxygen – 6.5/10
24. Villains – 6.5/10
23. Nomadland – 7/10
22. Love And Monsters – 7/10
21. Black Widow – 7/10

Top Twenty

20. Sound Of Metal – 7/10
19. Free Guy – 7/10
18. Where’d You Go, Bernadette – 7/10
17. Pig – 7/10
16. tick, tick… BOOM! – 7/10
15. Palmer – 7/10
14. Willy’s Wonderland – 7/10
13. Space Sweepers – 7/10
12. Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – 7/10
11. Moxie – 7/10

Top Ten

10. TIE: The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – 7/10 & Encanto – 7.5/10

9. Ron’s Gone Wrong – 7/10

8. Raya And The Last Dragon – 7/10

7. The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – 7.5/10

6. The Lost Daughter – 7.5/10

5. Don’t Look Up – 7.5/10

4. Minari – 7.5/10

3. Promising Young Woman – 8/10

2. Spontaneous – 8/10

1. Dune – 8.5/10

I don’t include documentaries with movies as they aren’t really the same thing & it would be difficult to know where to rank them. So I’ll just include a mention of two I really enjoyed in 2021: The Beatles: Get Back & Who Are You, Charlie Brown?.

All My 2021 Top Tens:
My Top Ten Books Read In 2021
My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2021
My Top Ten Older Release Movies Watched In 2021

Happy New Year, Everyone! I need to take a bit of a break from blogging for a while but I’ll try to stop by all your blogs for a visit. 🙂

My Top Ten Older Release Movies Watched In 2021

Hello again! Time for my penultimate 2021 Top Ten Movies list.

This is always my favorite list each year. Doing the top U.K. releases for each year is fine but also a pain in the ass because 1) U.K. & U.S. release dates vary so much & we get a lot of movies the year after the American release date which seems to be treated as the “official” release date for some stupid reason and 2) 88.59% of current day releases are crap. Like that 88.59%?! Yes, I just made that number up.

So I try to watch some really good older films each year as well & I always end up enjoying those more overall. And I lucked out in seeing lots of really fantastic pre-2021 releases in the past year.

As always, these lists only include movies I’ve just watched for the very first time in the past year. I’ve been rewatching loads of old favorites with the family too thanks to the pandemic but I don’t do a top ten post of those. As with everything, though, I of course still ranked & rated them all here if you’re super curious (which I doubt!). That link lists absolutely every single thing I watched & read in 2021, all ranked & rated. Because I’m a sad nerd.

As I saw so many good movies, I’m listing 30. So here are My Top Thirty Older Movie Releases Seen In 2021, counting down to my Top Ten:

Top Thirty:

30. TIE: Audition – 7/10 & Thrashin’ – 7/10
29. From Here To Eternity – 7/10
28. Tokyo Godfathers – 7/10
27. The Invisible Man (1933) – 7/10
26. The Wolf Man (1941) – 7/10
25. Bride Of Frankenstein (1935) – 7/10
24. Seconds – 7/10
23. House On Haunted Hill – 7/10
22. Cat People (1942) – 7/10
21. Fantastic Planet (La Planète sauvage, Divoká planeta) – 7/10

Top Twenty:

20. Man On Fire – 7/10
19. The Invisible Man (2020) – 7.5/10
18. Abominable – 7.5/10
17. Frankenstein (1931) – 7.5/10
16. Trees Lounge – 7.5/10
15. The Innocents (1961) – 7.5/10
14. Kind Hearts And Coronets – 7.5/10
13. Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – 7.5/10
12. The Hunt (2020) – 7.5/10
11. Bloodsport – 7.5/10

Top Ten:

10. TIE: Hud – 7.5/10 & Dracula (1931) – 8/10

9. Battleship Potemkin – 7.5/10

8. Les Diaboliques – 7.5/10

7. The Secret Of Kells – 7.5/10

6. Wings Of Desire – 8/10

5. Swallow – 8/10

4. Black Narcissus (1947) – 8/10

3. It Happened One Night – 8/10

2. When Marnie Was There – 8/10

1. Gandhi – 8.5/10

Yesterday I posted My Top Ten Books Read In 2021 & My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2021. Tomorrow I’ll finally be posting My Top Ten 2021 U.K. Movie Releases.

My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2021

Happy New Year! (again)

Here’s post 2 of my year-end top ten lists. Onto the fun movie lists starting tomorrow! But I watched more TV shows than usual in 2021 plus a lot of them were really good (better than the majority of 2021 movies).

I’m cheating on a few where I’ve not seen the full series but, with things like Yellowjackets, I kind of know where I’d rank them anyway. And these aren’t all brand new 2021 shows but there are quite a few really new ones in the list.

Here are My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2021 (but I’ve ranked them all, so I’ll count down to the Top Ten):

23. The Flight Attendant: S1
22. And Just Like That…: S1 So Far
21. Mare Of Easttown: S1

Top Twenty:

20. Cruel Summer
19. Nine Perfect Strangers: S1
18. Grey’s Anatomy: S17 & S18 E1-8
17. Alice In Borderland: S1
16. Chucky: S1
15. Erased
14. Children Of The Stones: S1
13. Hawkeye: S1
12. The Crown: S2, S3 & S4 E1-4
11. The White Lotus: S1

Top Ten:

10. Lisey’s Story

9. Loki: S1

8. Sweet Tooth: S1

7. Midnight Mass: S1

6. Monsters At Work: S1

5. WandaVision: S1

4. Yellowjackets S1 E1-7

3. Ted Lasso: S1 (not seen season 2 yet as no longer have Apple TV)

2. Cobra Kai: S3 & 4

1. Squid Game: S1

Loved Squid Game SO MUCH! And a quick mention of The Book Of Boba Fett, which I can’t really include as there’s only been one episode as I’m writing this. Hoping to love it but doubt it’ll quite live up to The Mandalorian.

Earlier I posted My Top Ten Books Read In 2021. Tomorrow I’ll be posting My Top Ten Older Movies Watched In 2021 then finally My Top Ten 2021 U.K. Movie Releases on Friday.

My Top Ten Books Read In 2021

Happy New Year! Here’s the first of my ranked lists for 2021.

Counting down to my favorite, here are My Top Ten Books Read In 2021 (Yes, way too much Stephen King this year! And 2022 will probably be nothing but Game Of Thrones as I’ve just started Book 1…)

10. The Eyes Of Darkness by Dean Koontz
9. Demon Seed by Dean Koontz
8. Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
7. Moon by James Herbert
6. Billy Summers by Stephen King
5. Later by Stephen King
4. Rage by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
3. If It Bleeds by Stephen King
2. The Running Man by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
1. The Long Walk by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)

I had to rank The Bachman Books separately as The Long Walk is sooo much better than Roadwork (which didn’t make my top ten).

Later I’ll be posting My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2021 followed by My Top Ten Older Movies Watched In 2021 tomorrow then finally My Top Ten 2021 U.K. Movie Releases. Very disappointed with the 2021 movie releases! Ugh. At least I saw some great older films for the first time in 2021…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2021

Happy New Year, everyone! 2022. My god.

Tried in December to catch up on the shitloads of 2021 films I missed. Missed everything in the cinema & the 2021 leftovers on services that I missed didn’t look that great anyway so it’s likely I’ll never bother with those now (but I do wish I’d seen The Green Knight). So I’m calling it a year & just posting a disappointing Top Ten Movies Of The Year list later this week. At least I saw loads of fantastic pre-2021 movies this year so that will be a Top Ten list too.

*Edit to add: I watched The Green Knight last night so added a quick review below. Spoiler: I thought it SUCKED!

Here’s everything I watched in December…

MOVIES WATCHED IN DECEMBER (ranked best to worst):

Don’t Look Up – Liked this a lot & am glad I managed to finish my year on this one. Thought it was a pretty clever & scarily accurate satire of this fucked up world we’re now living in. It gave me some good laughs & it had fun performances from all the big name stars in it. I managed to quickly review it in full at the link yesterday. – 7.5/10

The Lost Daughter – Quickly reviewed this yesterday as well as I also liked this film a lot. Great end to 2021 on Netflix with these two! Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley were both very good at portraying the difficulties of motherhood and sometimes wanting more out of life. There’s a growing sense of tension through the whole movie that I thought was handled really well. Great directorial debut from Maggie Gyllenhaal. – 7.5/10

Encanto – Already reviewed this last week. Enjoyed this one although it’s not exactly up there with Disney’s all-time best. What I liked: the main girl (Mirabel) was likeable (and I liked her dress and, as a glasses wearer, her funky glasses), the different magical powers each family member had were fun, I liked the cute little cousin who was due to get his own power & the cousin who could hear everything, and the overall message about the importance of family was good. The weakest thing? Unfortunately, that was maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs plus I suppose the animation style wasn’t my favorite but it was still a lovely looking film (I prefer the older, classic Disney animation style). I still really enjoyed Encanto although it hasn’t instantly grabbed me like a lot of other Disney & Pixar films have. It would maybe grow on me after a rewatch. – 7/10

Ron’s Gone Wrong – Reviewed this as well. There’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character so this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.

I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. I also really liked the message in this film & thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending. – 7/10

Tokyo Godfathers – I started watching this anime film years ago but for whatever reason I never finished it so, as it’s set on Christmas Eve & as it’s recently been added to Netflix, I figured it was time to finally finish it at Christmastime. Because I’ve clearly been too lazy in all this time to just get up off my ass & play my DVD of it.

It’s a fun film with three strong characters who lovingly bicker a lot & a cute baby that they find. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “On Christmas Eve, three homeless people living on the streets of Tokyo discover a newborn baby among the trash and set out to find its parents.

This is one of those anime movies that can be a little goofy at times in between some heavy subject matter. It was written & directed by Satoshi Kon, whose other films include Perfect Blue (still need to see that) and Paprika (a very interesting film I should really try to rewatch sometime & actually review as it was one of my Blind Spot movies in 2019). Paprika is the better film of the two I’ve seen but Tokyo Godfathers is perhaps a little more “accessible” & certainly less strange (but I’m a big fan of strange). The characters are the best thing about the movie and I especially liked Hana, who immediately develops a motherly affection for the abandoned baby. It’s a heartwarming & at times heartbreaking film, as are all the best movies set during Christmas. Glad I finally made the time for this one. – 7/10

Pig – Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Did a full review of this already so I’ll just say that Cage was good in this & the movie explored loneliness & grief in an interesting way. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I appreciated its subtlety. A nice break from Crazy Cage, too (although I do enjoy Crazy Cage). – 7/10

The Unforgivable – Also already reviewed. Bullock’s character has just come out of prison after serving many years for killing a cop when they came to take her much younger sister away from her. It took a while to get into this one & Bullock’s character was pretty unsympathetic to begin with. However, I really liked the end of this one (including something I should’ve seen coming). Also, the film used a fantastic piano version of Radiohead’s Everything In Its Right Place toward the end & I thought it set the mood perfectly. So the film was a bit slow overall & certainly wasn’t perfect but from that bit on it got much better & really did redeem itself at the end. – 6.5/10

The Last Duel – Reviewed this too (wow – I managed to review more than usual!). I’ll just say I wasn’t really a fan & thought this movie was just okay. The haircuts sucked, the men were all assholes, and Ridley Scott has far better films. Just watch Rashomon instead. – 6/10

The Power Of The Dog – Another one I reviewed & was very disappointed in unlike all of Film Twitter. This one bored the shit out of me. Sorry! But I did really like the end. Yay! Once I actually realised what had happened and that there was a plan all along, I guess, and I was like “Ohhh… Nice one!”. The ending almost made me rank this just above The Last Duel but the rest of this film was so bloody boring that I guess I’ll keep this one below the mullet duel. – 6/10

Anna And The Apocalypse – Was talking about Christmas movies on Twitter before Christmas & so many mentioned liking this one that I figured I should check it out. Sadly, this one didn’t really work for me. Luckily, I don’t think any of those Twitter people read my blog! I appreciate its concept. A zombie Christmas musical?! Fantastic! I’m a big zombie movie fan (mostly Romero) so really did think I’d like this. I can’t say I really bought into the characters, although the main girl was fine. I think maybe I was expecting more of a comedy? It’s listed as comedy but it’s certainly no Shaun Of The Dead. I can’t say I remember how any of the songs go, either. Meh. It was a good idea. – 5.5/10

Red Notice – Damn, this was a bit sucky. Thought it would be a bit more fun with these three big names plus I like them all usually. Sadly, though, this is the first time I thought that Ryan Reynolds was just too Ryan Reynolds. He’s really just playing himself in this. The comedy just fell a bit flat & there was one scene where the background of an arena they were in looked SO dodgy that I said “WTF is up with that background?!” and I’m not someone who tends to notice that sort of stuff usually. Not the worst film of the year but very forgettable. I expect to not remember a thing about it in a year. – 5.5/10

The Fan (1981) – Got excited when I saw this listed on Talking Pictures TV as I still have a massive crush on Michael Biehn thanks to The Terminator & Aliens. And, my god, such big stars in this with him! Lauren Bacall, James Garner & Maureen Stapleton. Biehn plays a psycho stalker who is obsessed with the big star played by Lauren Bacall. Honestly, though, this movie was pretty damn bad. How embarrassing, especially for Bacall! I can’t say I’d recommend this unless you have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Biehn like I do. So I got mild enjoyment out of this, at least. I do kind of like stalker movies. Play Misty For Me was a much better stalker movie if you like that kind of thing, though. – 5.5/10

Chaos Walking – Knew this wasn’t meant to be great but I read the book a couple years ago & I really like seeing the movie adaptations of the books I read. Wasn’t a fan of the book, though, so had pretty low expectations for the movie. I think it was adapted fairly well from what I remember of the story but the story isn’t the greatest even though the idea seemed like a good one. A waste of the talent in this. Here’s the IMDb synopsis if you’re curious: “Two unlikely companions embark on a perilous adventure through the badlands of an unexplored planet as they try to escape a dangerous and disorienting reality where all thoughts are seen and heard by everyone.”- 5/10

The Green Knight – I’m quickly adding this (with no image, as I don’t want a Green Knight image to be what’s displayed on my tweet as it uses the last image added). I just watched it last night thinking “Maybe it’ll be 2021 Top Ten material!” but OH MY GOD IT SUCKED! What a huge waste of time. I know I’ve said this before but I’m never listening to Film Twitter again!!! What a load of pretentious bollocks. I should’ve trusted my instincts when I thought “This is by the guy who did A Ghost Story so it may end up boring as shit just like that one”. God, I think I preferred A Ghost Story! At least that did manage to create a hell of a sense of crushing loneliness. The Green Knight did have some good imagery, which I admit I can be a sucker for, but it had nothing else. Hated it. You’ve wasted my time once again, Film Twitter! – 5/10 (Added half a point for the ridiculous talking fox & the naked lady giants)

Movies Rewatched In December:

Point Break – LOVE IT! Have loved Keanu Reeves for years & watched this movie SO many times when it came out. So had to stick this one on when it popped up on Netflix even though I’ve seen it shitloads. Keanu is so beautiful in this… Oh, and I love that this kick-ass action film was directed by a woman. – 9/10

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs – Put this Disney classic on over the Christmas break. What can I say? I love Disney films & this 1937 film easily stands the test of time as well as all the very best of Disney’s work. I wish the modern Disney films would try to be as timeless but I feel too many “of the moment” jokes get thrown in now, which will date the films years from now. Return to making timeless classics like this one! Oh, and I love the dwarfs. So cute. All the best Disney films have lovable characters like that. – 8/10

The Muppets Christmas Carol – Managed to rewatch some Christmas favorites with the family. Who doesn’t love the Muppets?! This is a fantastic adaptation of what’s probably the very best Christmas story. – 8/10

Home Alone – Another Christmas favorite, although the hubby & I like it much more than our daughter does. Our love of John Hughes maybe helps. I think this is a brilliant family film & wish they’d make more family films like this one. – 8/10

ElfElf is silly but is really good fun. Think it’s the last decent Christmas film to be made that still has a classic feel to it, probably thanks to the Rankin/Bass inspired style at the start. – 8/10

Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Far From The Tree – Assume this was the short meant to be before Encanto so we watched this before it. Nice story about a raccoon being overprotective of its young child. I could relate to that as I’m too overprotective.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

Watched a lot of TV in December, most of it good.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai: S4 – We all binged this in one day! We never binge anything but we were obviously all off work & school. I’ve absolutely loved all of Cobra Kai. The Karate Kid is a favorite & I think they’ve done a brilliant job of combining these ’80s characters with current teens. I can’t believe I have a crush on Johnny Lawrence the bully now! He’s the best thing about the show & I love how he’s stuck in the ’80s & doesn’t understand current teenager-speak. Yes, it’s kind of getting “same old same old” at this point but it’s still loads of fun to watch.

The Book Of Boba Fett: S1 E1 – Only one episode so far so can’t really judge it yet. The first episode was good & it’s great getting more Star Wars content but I can’t say that episode one has instantly grabbed me the way the end of the first episode of The Mandalorian did.

Yellowjackets: S1 E1-7 – Thoroughly enjoying this story about a 1996 girls soccer team whose plane crashed, resulting in them apparently having to turn to violence & possibly cannibalism to survive. It’s told in flashbacks & I of course love that the grown up actresses are my age so I’d say this is very Gen X & current teen aimed. Well, Juliet Lewis is about my age & there’s NO WAY she was in high school still in 1996 but whatever (it would be even better if the high school flashbacks were late ’80s/early ’90s). So I’m loving this but I’m the right target audience for it.

Hawkeye: S1 E3-6 – Thought this one was fun & liked the characters. WandaVision & Loki were better but I liked this one way more than that boring The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. Are we gonna get another season focused just on Kate Bishop? I’d watch that.

Chucky: S1 – This was a weird one. At times I thought it was pretty damn good for a slasher TV show & at others I thought it kind of took a shit (mostly with the addition of Jennifer Tilly, although she was fun, and the real life daughter of Brad Dourif). I admit, though, that I only ever saw Child’s Play 1 through 3 so those characters mean nothing to me while fans of those last movies were maybe happy with their appearance. Anyway, this started out quite strong & I thought the bits with the teens were all good & Chucky was entertaining like always. Then it all took a nosedive at the end. Oh well. I still enjoyed the show overall.

Mare Of Easttown: S1 – I only stuck this on one night as I needed a show to stick on when I’m on my own & bored but it’s not at all the type of thing I tend to go for as I’m weirdly not a crime drama person like everyone else seems to be. I don’t know how I felt about it. I didn’t hate it but, my god, this town was full of assholes & killers & cheaters & just generally a bunch of really unlikeable people. By the end, I really liked Kate Winslet’s character even though she was also very hard to like at times but I think she was fantastic in this role. I also loved her mother, played by Jean Smart, and enjoyed the small funny moments in the show especially between these two characters. The mystery itself was okay but, god, is everyone a pervy piece of shit in this town?! I can see why people liked the show, though. The characters are strong & I’d maybe be interested in seeing them all again in a second season if that’s the plan…?

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E4-8 – God this new season is boring. Meh.

And Just Like That…: S1 E1-5 – I’m not exactly a big Sex & The City fan but I did watch them all & thought it was clever at times and enjoyed the friendships even though I could relate to none of the four women whatsofuckingever. This version, though… Ugh. I dunno. It’s pretty desperate so far with some shitty writing. They probably should’ve just left it alone.

Looking For Alaska: S1 E1 – I read this John Green book so figured I better check out this adaptation. Faithful so far – will see how it goes but I didn’t really love the book anyway.

Maya And The Three: S1 E1 – Watched the first episode as it’s made by the Book Of Life people, which my daughter absolutely loved for about a year of her life. I wasn’t feeling it so doubt I’ll continue with it.

TV Rewatched:

A Charlie Brown Christmas – Absolute CLASSIC. Perfection. I am a massive Peanuts fan & I adore this. Watch it every Christmas.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Another true Christmas classic that I watch every year & also adore. Love that Rankin/Bass style, which they lovingly referenced in the beginning of Elf. They don’t make ’em like they used to! This is also perfection.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! – Ditto! Timeless classic! I’m of course talking about the original animated special, not that godawful Jim Carrey movie. Yuck! I’ll especially always love his poor dog Max & those fantastic lyrics to the songs. Absolutely brilliant.

Game Of Thrones: S1 E1 – Halfway through reading the first book so thought I’d rewatch episode 1. I have to say that, so far from what I remember of the show, it’s extremely faithful to the first book. Loved seeing this again while understanding a bit more & knowing the characters much better now.

Quantum Leap: S1 E1 – Wish the family would continue this with me, especially as this was a two-episode story… I loved Quantum Leap so have been looking forward to revisiting it. The first scene of episode 1 was far cheesier than I remembered, though! Wow. Thank god it got much much better.

Malcolm In The Middle: S1 E1 – Recommended this to the kid. Think she liked the first episode okay.

BOOKS READ

I’m halfway through reading A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones. So don’t expect monthly book reviews while I’m reading these as each will probably take me months to read. Although I may read different books in between each so I don’t wear myself out. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far, though. It’s just a big damn commitment!!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Honestly, my main New Year’s resolution is to watch fewer movies for a while. I want to watch better films the next couple of months. Quality over quantity! It’s also exhausting doing these roundup posts with shitloads of films.

It’s stupid but the end of each year almost becomes a bit stressful as I get desperate to finish watching as many of that year’s releases that I can which are available to me. I’m more annoyed than I should be that there are several on services now that I’ve not managed to see yet, although I expect what I’ve not seen of those to be pretty shit anyway. It’s the cinema-only releases that I badly want to see as soon as possible.

I mentioned this last month but these are some of the many 2021 movies that I have yet to see:

Last Night In Soho, Malignant, West Side Story, Quiet Place II, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Licorice Pizza, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Old, The Conjuring, Coda, The Suicide Squad, The Forever Purge, The Father, In The Heights, Spencer, Another Round, Mass, I’m Your Man, Finch, Antlers, Petite Maman, Psycho Goreman, Black Bear, Censor, The Sparks Brothers, Titane, Jungle Cruise, Army Of Thieves, The Tomorrow War, Halloween Kills, Eternals, The Worst Person In The World

Upcoming 2022 Releases That I Want To See:

Across The Spider-Verse, Suzume no tojimari, The Black Phone (Joe Hill fan!), Thor, Top Gun: Maverick, Turning Red, Doctor Strange, Don’t Worry Darling, Nightmare Alley, Lightyear, Minions (Hey, I like those cheeky little dudes!).

Hope I manage to see these by the end of 2022…

Here’s Radiohead since I mentioned it in The Unforgivable.

The Lost Daughter, Don’t Look Up & Pig Reviews

Another quick trio of reviews of 2021 releases before I do my December roundup post. Liked these a lot more than the three I reviewed earlier today. Two of these are also probably going to make my 2021 Top Ten list I’ll try to post later this week. I keep moving stuff around on that list a lot… We’ll see!

Don’t Look Up (2021)

Directed by Adam McKay

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization.

My Opinion:

Watched this yesterday (but I’m logging it as a 2021 watch!). Really glad I finished out the year with this one as I’ve found the 2021 releases on services to be very disappointing but I enjoyed this one a lot. Between this and The Lost Daughter, which I watched on the 31st, I’m happy to have two more movies probably making it into my 2021 Top Ten list.

Wasn’t sure what I’d think of this as I’ve not been big on any of Adam McKay’s other films but, for me, this is easily his best. I thought it would be extremely political & too far-left in that typical Hollywood way as, according to Wikipedia, “The comet is an analogy for climate change and the film is a satire of government and media indifference to the climate crisis.” There’s nothing I hate more than an overly preachy movie! But it didn’t feel preachy to me & I got some good laughs out of the comedy in this. I thought the satire was pretty clever and, although they say it’s about how how shit the governments & media are, I thought it also perfectly displayed what a bunch of fucking morons the entire human race has become. I always enjoy “humans suck” satire (also a fan of Idiocracy, although I wish that film was better). It was scary how accurate this film was on how the general population would react if told we’re all going to die when a comet hits Earth. There would be as many comet-deniers as there are Covid-deniers. I would have thought this film was exaggerating things just five years ago or so (but I also wrongly thought Idiocracy was exaggerated at the time). People being more bothered about a celebrity breakup than our impending doom is SO FUCKING ACCURATE.

I also really enjoyed all the performances in this. Movies with huge star ensembles like this don’t always work for me as I sometimes find so many big names to be distracting & can take away from the story but I thought everyone was perfectly cast in this. Leonardo DiCaprio was good, of course, but I liked that it felt like quite a different role for him. And I loved that his wife was, like, the same age as him! Also really liked Jennifer Lawrence’s character and loved how she became just another meme for media-obsessed society. Also loved her obsession with the free snacks… Meryl Streep was pretty damn hilarious as a hateful self-absorbed president & I thought Jonah Hill was funny (although I can see that one role being the most divisive). And Mark Rylance was fantastic as a typical billionaire genius/idiot. I can’t call if this movie will have any acting Oscar nominations or if it’ll be completely ignored as comedy often is by the Academy. Or if they’ll only nominate Streep as usual. I think it deserves recognition, though, and I enjoyed it far more than his Oscar-nominated The Big Short.

I’ve avoided reviews & discussion of this movie but get the impression that people are pretty divided? Not sure why as I thought it was easily one of the better films I’ve managed to see this year. Maybe the truth hurts?

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Lost Daughter (2021)

Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal

Based on The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

Starring: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Domińczyk, Jack Farthing, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.

My Opinion:

I also liked this film a lot. I’d maybe say it’s actually better than Don’t Look Up but is obviously a much more serious film & I had more “fun” watching Don’t Look Up.

The acting is great in this, especially from Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley. I’m not an Olivia Colman fan (I’m actually enjoying The Crown far less since it changed to her from Claire Foy) but have to admit she’s very good in this. And that horrible family who came to the beach gave me the absolute creeps! Absolutely cannot stand pushy, entitled people like that and there are far too many of them in this world. Why the fuck should Olivia Colman move from her spot on the beach, huh?!? Anyway – I guess the family were very good as they were menacing as hell just in the way they would look at Colman’s character. But I never really understood their problem with her. Was it only because she wouldn’t move on the beach or did I miss something else while trying to sneakily watch this in between doing stuff with the family on one of my last days off of work?? Dakota Johnson was also good as part of that horrible family (by marriage, I think – was never quite sure how they were all related) & the one who Colman connects with as her young daughter brings up painful memories from Colman’s past. Johnson is maybe growing on me – I couldn’t understand what people saw in her at first.

I think this movie does a fantastic job of portraying the fact that, for some women, there’s much more to them than “just being a mother” and that being a mother (and wife) can be very difficult. I think movies often portray motherhood as being beautiful & perfect. I’m not saying I could personally connect with Colman’s & Buckley’s character’s experience but I think it will probably speak to a lot of women. And I thought the building tension in this was done really well. I kept feeling more & more uneasy throughout this film as I didn’t know a thing about the story & didn’t know what would happen.


Hated this bitch so much!

I think Gyllenhaal has done a great job with this movie. I can’t say whether it’s a good adaptation as I’ve not read the book but I’d now be interested in possibly reading it to know even more about the characters’ motivations. Maybe I’ll read it. I don’t often read a book after seeing the movie but I’d like to know a bit more after seeing this one. It’s a very good film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Pig (2021)

Directed by Michael Sarnoski

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a truffle forager whose beloved truffle-finding pig is stolen.

My Opinion:

Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Can’t afford this hobby anymore so I think the only movies I spent on in 2021 outside of streaming services were this & Willy’s Wonderland. You’d think I was a Nicolas Cage fan or something! I’m actually really not, although he’s grown on me in recent years thanks to his interesting film choices. Those choices are often bad & I’ve not watched those that had terrible reviews but things like Mandy & Color Out Of Space are right up my alley & this one sounded like it could be too.

It’s an interesting film & I do agree that Cage was good in it. As much as I enjoy Crazy Cage, I liked seeing him so restrained in this one. I think he and the movie portray loneliness & grief well. Was honestly expecting some John Wick type of revenge rampage so was surprised at there being very little violence in this. Although a John Wick rampage would’ve been fun too but we’ve had enough of that sort of thing from Cage so this was a nice change.

Pig is a movie I’m glad I managed to see before the end of the year but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me as I can’t see myself watching it again. But I can understand why many seemed to like it as they could probably identify with Cage’s character. I can also see why plenty of other people wouldn’t go for this movie at all & would probably call it boring as it’s very slow & far less happens than I was expecting. It’s certainly a “Film Twitter person” type of movie that I wouldn’t go around recommending to people I work with or something. You’ll love it or possibly hate it. Or just be a bit “That was okay” like me. The pig was very cute!

My Rating: 7/10

The Unforgivable, The Last Duel & The Power Of The Dog Reviews

Squeezing out a few more reviews of 2021 releases before I post my December roundup & then will try to post my 2021 Top Ten lists. None of these are making it into my Top Ten Movies of the year…

The Unforgivable (2021)

Directed by Nora Fingscheidt

Based on Unforgiven by Sally Wainwright

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Richard Thomas, Linda Emond, Aisling Franciosi, Rob Morgan, Viola Davis

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman is released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime and re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past.

My Opinion:

I was clearly trying to squeeze in some final 2021 releases on streaming services in December or else I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this one so quickly (if at all). It was okay, though. And, yes, I enjoyed it much more than the next two I’m reviewing.

Bullock’s character has just come out of prison after serving many years for killing a cop when they came to take her much younger sister away from her. I believe it was because their parents had died and Bullock wanted to be left alone to raise her sister (massive age difference – the sister was five & Bullock looked well into her twenties in the flashbacks so I don’t know why she couldn’t raise her?!). Anyway, it took a while to get into this one & Bullock’s character was pretty unsympathetic to begin with.

With movies, I’ll sometimes rate & rank them when I’m still in the middle of watching them as I don’t want to forget to log them. This is one time where I had to move it up the list & up the rating slightly once it got to the end. I really liked the end of this one, including something I should’ve seen coming. Also, the film used a fantastic piano version of Radiohead’s Everything In Its Right Place toward the end & I thought it set the mood perfectly. So the film was a bit slow overall & certainly wasn’t perfect but from that bit on it got much better & really did redeem itself at the end.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Last Duel (2021)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Based on The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager

Starring: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in medieval France, the film stars Damon as Jean de Carrouges, a knight who challenges his former friend, squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a judicial duel after Jean’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), accuses Jacques of raping her. The events leading up to the duel are divided into three distinct chapters, reflecting the contradictory perspectives of the three main characters.

My Opinion:

WTF? Okay… I don’t know if I’m just super picky now or if I’m just finding it hard to enjoy films lately as life has been shitty but I feel like every single newly released movie (at least one perceived to be “worthy” due to its director or stars or its agenda) gets absolutely raved over by Film Twitter & I find myself agreeing with them less & less the past couple of years.

This movie was okay? I do love a few of Ridley Scott’s films (I ranked them here recently) but this certainly wouldn’t make my top ten list of his work. Once I got past the annoying haircuts (yeah, yeah – I know that’s not important) I thought I’d start caring about the story or the characters but I can’t say that I did. I thought the men were rubbish (acting-wise as well as the characters being super hateful). Jodie Comer was fine & I obviously was on her side through the whole thing & wish she could’ve just gone on a Kill Bill bloody rampage with those pricks but obviously that couldn’t happen back then since, you know, women were treated like nothing more than another piece of property in olden times (not that we’re treated much better now). I didn’t exactly think it was some “ohmygodOscarWORTHY!!!” performance or something, though. Are my standards too high or are everyone else’s too low?! The movie was okay. Yes, once it FINALLY got to the duel it got somewhat exciting. And, yes, I always like seeing multiple versions of the same story but this isn’t exactly up there with Rashomon, is it? I was stupidly looking at the IMDb Top 250 recently & it depresses me. All the older films are being replaced by everything new & current. Are people just going to completely stop watching movies that are more than ten years old?

Okay. I’ll stop bitching now. This movie was fine but Scott has far better films. And I really wish I could just watch all of Akira Kurosawa’s films instead of wasting my time on mediocre current releases.

My Rating: 6/10

The Power Of The Dog (2021)

Directed by Jane Campion

Based on The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Thomasin McKenzie, Genevieve Lemon, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.

My Opinion:

Another one sort of raved over on Film Twitter but this one bored the shit out of me. Sorry! Just… Ugh. I don’t know. I do appreciate some very worthy films but I also want to be entertained sometimes if possible. I’ll give it this: I think the acting was slightly better than in The Last Duel. No distracting haircuts, at least! Also……. I did really like the end! Yay! Once I actually realised what had happened and that there was a plan all along, I guess, and I was like “Ohhh… Nice one!”. The ending almost made me rank this just above The Last Duel but the rest of this film was so bloody boring that I guess I’ll keep this one below the mullet duel.

My Rating: 6/10

Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021) Review

Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021)

Directed by Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine & Octavio E. Rodriguez (co-director)

Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Olivia Colman

Music by Henry Jackman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of Barney, an awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device. Ron’s malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age launch them on a journey to learn about true friendship.

My Opinion:

Was surprised to see this pop up on Disney Plus so soon after it was in cinemas but was very happy to be able to see it since there’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character (well, Grogu is giving him a run for his money). So this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.

I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. It’s one of those where I don’t know where to rank it on my year end list I’ll post next week. If I’m honest, I enjoyed it more than Encanto (which I reviewed HERE yesterday) but Encanto is certainly the better film. It doesn’t have a robot in it, though! Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. It was the same with Big Hero 6, although that’s obviously a much stronger film with better characters than this one. But Baymax was what made it so fantastic.

I also really liked the message in this film. As with most animated kids’ films, there’s of course a message (or two) but it’s done subtly & works within the movie. Mainly it’s about friendship but they touch on the evils of social media a bit too. I realise I’m typing this post on a blog, which will auto-tweet to Twitter, but I’m old so I remember the days before all this & I think most of us were much happier then. The movie isn’t at all preachy about any of this, though, which is a big pet peeve of mine. I also thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending.

Oh – Ron also sang a funny song with the grandma which the daughter & I went around singing for the next week whereas I can’t currently remember any songs from Encanto even though we only just watched it a couple of nights ago. It was really cute & I wish Encanto had a similar moment as I really do want to like that one a bit more. Maybe it will grow on me but I know that Ron is already one of the better characters from all the movies I’ve seen in 2021.

My Rating: 7/10

Encanto (2021) Review

Encanto (2021)

Directed by Jared Bush & Byron Howard

Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitán, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama

Music by Germaine Franco

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.

My Opinion:

I’ve been putting together my 2021 Top Ten Movies list & it’s been an extremely disappointing year. Okay – to be fair, I’ve not yet seen all the stuff that’s only had cinema releases so far. Hooray for Disney Plus, at least! Easily the streaming service I used the most this year, especially for the Marvel series stuff (I’m not even a big Marvel fan but those were good). So I’m glad I squeezed in two more movies this past week that are making my 2021 Top Ten List (this & Ron’s Gone Wrong).

Enjoyed this one although, in all honesty, it’s not exactly up there with Disney’s all-time best. I don’t know if it’s partly hurt by seeing these Disney films at home now & making them feel like the “straight-to-video” stuff from my younger years. I don’t think so, though – plenty of my all-time favorites are ones I never saw in the cinema. And I didn’t mean to imply that Encanto felt “straight-to-video” as it’s much better than that. So ignore my rambling! Maybe it’s what my hubby moaned about after seeing it (the 3D animation or whatever). I do definitely prefer the more timeless classic animation of older Disney movies. Okay, yeah, maybe it’s that! Just trying to figure out why a lot of Disney movies from recent years aren’t fully connecting with me. Oh well – they’re still much better than that dodgy late ’90s/early 2000s New Groove Hercules Hunchback era.

Should I shut up & talk about Encanto?! What I liked: the main girl (Mirabel) was likeable (and I liked her dress and, as a glasses wearer, her funky glasses), the different magical powers each family member had were fun, I liked the cute little cousin who was due to get his own power & the cousin who could hear everything, and the overall message about the importance of family was good. The weakest thing? Unfortunately, that was maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs. A couple of them were “fun” but not very memorable & certainly none that would end up all-time classics unlike his brilliant How Far I’ll Go from Moana. And, okay, I suppose the animation style wasn’t my favorite but it was still a lovely looking film. Also, I think the message was a bit muddled. Be supportive of family? Be true to yourself? You don’t have to be perfect? Which are all good things so not really an issue – I just wasn’t sure what the main point was.

I really enjoyed this but it’s one where I can’t currently tell if it’ll go up or down in my estimation. Moana grew on me a lot & I’ve happily seen it several times now as it’s a favorite of my daughter’s. Soul is one I thought looked lovely but I’ve never once thought about sticking it on for a rewatch. And I know I have zero interest in rewatching Luca. I think rewatchability is important with Disney & Pixar and I don’t know yet if Encanto is a multiple-watcher. I’d say it is more so than a couple I’ve mentioned. I’m also still trying to decide if I’d rank it just above or below Raya And The Last Dragon. I think Raya is more “me” and I preferred it feeling like a more traditional (sort of Princess) Disney movie plus I preferred its style & loved Tuk Tuk. But I think Encanto was maybe the slightly better film. Dunno. They’re close. I’ll have to decide before I post my Top Ten next week!

What a wishy-washy review. I think my point is this: I really enjoyed Encanto although it hasn’t instantly grabbed me like a lot of other Disney & Pixar films have but maybe it would grow on me after a rewatch.

My Rating: 7/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2021

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched In November:

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

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous In November:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

2021 Movies I Want To See:

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

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

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

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

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

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

tick, tick… BOOM! (2021) Review

tick, tick… BOOM! (2021)

Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Based on Tick, Tick… Boom! by Jonathan Larson

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Judith Light, Vanessa Hudgens

Music by Jonathan Larson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City.

My Opinion:

I’ll be honest – I read about this movie and wasn’t going to bother even watching it as it’s just really not my sort of thing. I do like “theatre” but have seen very little of it (I’m not made of money! And going into London stresses me out). I’d like to see more but my knowledge on theatre shows is very limited. I know pretty much nothing about Rent other than I think it’s what they spoofed in Team America? So that’s the type of person I am watching this movie about the guy who created Rent.

I have to say this started out really slow but, by the end, I really enjoyed it and thought this guy (Jonathan Larson) had a very interesting life. I loved his passion for what he did and am sad that things ended up as they did. Obviously, I had no knowledge of Larson before seeing this movie. I am assuming that theatre people enjoyed this one as I think the film really captures that lifestyle (or what I assume that lifestyle is like – I could be wrong!). As the film was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I’m sure he captured the theatre lifestyle. I thought Andrew Garfield was very good but I can’t say if he has done Larson well or not? So hopefully those who knew him are happy with the film. Oh, and I did like the diner number and am pretty sure it had a lot of big theatre names in it so I’m sure fans loved it. But I’ll admit that I only recognised a few faces, mainly the women from Cheers & Life Goes On as I know more about TV than theatre!

Larson’s friends in this were really great characters as well. I especially liked Alexandra Shipp as his girlfriend & Robin de Jesus as his best friend. And Vanessa Hudgens was good as one of those performing his songs. Judith Light (Who’s The Boss!) was very entertaining in a small role as Larson’s agent. Finally, Bradley Whitford played Stephen Sondheim, who inspired & encouraged Larson. R.I.P. Stephen Sondheim, who passed away over the weekend. Hopefully Whitford did him justice. I thought both Whitford & Garfield were very good in this. As I said above, hopefully those who knew them are pleased with this film.

So, as a non-theatre person, I enjoyed the story in this film. It was told through showing Larson performing his musical tick, tick… BOOM! (I believe?), which is about his life and fear of turning 30 & time running out. Then, as he tells his story through that musical, you get to see him put together his first show (Superbia) and get to watch the actors perform those songs before a small audience (I think this was to determine if it would be made into a Broadway show?). It sadly wasn’t but, hey – it’s now in a movie! And I thought those songs were pretty catchy and think I’d rather watch Superbia than the tick, tick… BOOM! one. So it was great how they told his story in a straightforward movie kind of way while also showing the audience a lot of his work in two of his musicals. I thought it worked really well telling his story this way & am glad I decided to give the film a chance. And I’ve just now also decided to up my rating half a point.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Happy 9th Blogiversary To Me

I know I say this every year but I can’t believe I’m still here (somewhat) blogging. 9 years now!

I almost completely forgot to put a post together for it this year. Work has been crazy busy and I was badly wanting to catch up on actually reading other blogs this month. I’ll try to visit my favorites soon, I promise! 🙂

So as I’m preparing this post at the last minute, I’ll keep it short again & just list my Top Ten Movie Lists For 2021 So Far as it’s nearly the end of the year anyway. I’m still not really braving the cinemas yet, so this is mainly movies “released in the U.K. for the first time in whatever format in 2021 that I actually managed to watch”. So, yes, most big cinema releases are sadly missing.

So here are My Top Ten Movies Released To U.K. Cinemas Or Streaming Services In 2021 So Far:

1. Dune – 8.5/10
2. Spontaneous – 8/10
3. Promising Young Woman – 8/10
4. Minari – 7.5/10
5. Willy’s Wonderland – 7.5/10
6. Space Sweepers – 7.5/10
7. Moxie – 7.5/10
8. The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – 7.5/10
9. Raya And The Last Dragon – 7/10
10. The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – 7/10

Honorable Mentions: (7/10)
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Palmer, tick, tick… BOOM!, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Free Guy

My Top Ten Older Release Movies Seen In 2021 So Far (a MUCH stronger list than the 2021 releases!):

1. Gandhi – 8.5/10
2. When Marnie Was There – 8/10
3. It Happened One Night – 8/10
4. Black Narcissus (1947) – 8/10
5. Swallow – 8/10
6. Wings Of Desire – 8/10
7. Dracula (1931) – 8/10
8. The Secret Of Kells – 7.5/10
9. Les Diaboliques – 7.5/10
10. Battleship Potemkin – 7.5/10

Honorable Mentions: (7.5/10)
Bloodsport, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, The Hunt (2020), Hud, Kind Hearts And Coronets, The Innocents (1961), Trees Lounge

And…. Screw it! I watched the most TV I’ve watched in years in 2021. So let’s rank those too! Especially as there were some great shows.

Here are My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2021 So Far:

1. Squid Game: S1
2. Cobra Kai: S3
3. Ted Lasso: S1, S2 E1-2
4. WandaVision: S1
5. Monsters At Work: S1
6. Sweet Tooth: S1
7. Midnight Mass: S1
8. Loki: S1
9. Lisey’s Story
10. The White Lotus: S1

The full list of everything I’ve watched & read in 2021 is HERE.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2021

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN OCTOBER (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched In October:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TV Shorts & Miscellaneous:

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MUSIC LISTENED TO

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

Dune (2021) Review

Dune (2021)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on Dune by Frank Herbert

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in the far future, it follows Paul Atreides as his family, the noble House Atreides, is thrust into a war for the dangerous desert planet Arrakis.

My Opinion:

I finally read the first Dune book last year during lockdown in preparation for this movie (pathetic review HERE). Then, obviously, the movie was massively delayed. So, being old & forgetful, I’ve forgotten half the book by now. And, of course, the movie only covers half of the book (if that), so I have no chance of remembering the rest of the book by the time the next movie comes out. Hey, that’s okay – everything can be a surprise when I see it! I’ll say this, though – Holy shit, I was saying NONE of the names, etc, right in my head while reading the book. Half the movie I was like “Ah, so that’s how that word is said”.

Seriously, though, I really did like the book. I’d had no intention of reading the rest as I’ve heard they aren’t as good as the first one but I kind of want to know the whole story now instead of waiting years for the movies. There are some storylines & characters I’m far more interested in than others but I really like the overall story & the world Herbert created.

There are, as with many stories like these, far too many characters to keep straight or fully care about but there are a few I liked enough to keep me interested. For me, I like Paul of course but it’s mainly Lady Jessica. LOVE her! People moan about lack of good female characters but this book is from 1965 & Lady Jessica is awesome & the star of the story for me. Was disappointed that things involving her were left out of the movie, such as the secret garden, which I felt were quite important to the story. But I admit that I love the whole Bene Gesserit thing (Boy, was I saying Bene Gesserit wrong!) & wanted to see all of that onscreen. I realize that they could never possibly cover everything in these books but quite a lot was still left out so I’m very glad I read it!

I was also very worried as Rebecca Ferguson seemed to barely be in the trailers, etc, but she’s just as important as Timothée Chalamet’s character. Although they sadly left out some things involving her, I was happy that she does get plenty of screen time. Phew. And I’ve had a girl crush on Ferguson especially since Doctor Sleep so was very happy when she was cast as Lady Jessica as she seemed perfect. She’s fantastic. Easily my favorite thing about the movie as well as the book, so I still have a girl crush. She’s so lovely. Here’s a closeup of these two. They’re so damn pretty. Well, I don’t fully get why young girls like Chalamet but whatever. He has amazing hair, though:

Um. Let’s see. I’ve talked enough about Lady Jessica and that was the main thing I cared about. Am very happy with all of that but was happy with most everything to do with this adaptation. Yes, I’m sad that plenty was left out but that was to be expected. Yes, some of the characters weren’t how I imagined them but I thought they all did well including Jason Momoa who I was most worried about as Duncan Idaho & thought he’d throw me out of the story but he didn’t. Was sad to get so little of Josh Brolin’s Gurney Halleck, who is a great character. Was also disappointed that they didn’t get into the whole Mentat thing at all as that was quite interesting in the book but also confusing & I really wanted a refresher on what the Mentat are. Wow, I don’t remember the character of Glossu Rabban, played by Dave Bautista, at all. Pretty sure he’s important! I clearly pay less attention when they aren’t focusing on my favorite characters plus I wasn’t really feeling Bautista in the movie & he did throw me out of the movie a bit for some reason. But I thought all the rest of the casting was good enough.

Oh! Damn. Not even mentioned Zendaya. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know she’s not in it much. She has a very important role but, as I expected, she wasn’t going to be in this much as she shows up later in the book. I think some people were very disappointed as they pushed her so much in the marketing (which was stupid but, you know, they always push “youth” & beauty). To be fair, they used her more than they needed to for the first half of the book & much more than I was expecting. She’s good – I think she’ll be very good in the role based on what we’ve seen so far. SO looking forward to seeing the next movie now & seeing more of her Chani with Chalamet’s Paul. And seeing more Lady Jessica & that freaky Bene Gesserit stuff!

I thought this would be a short review! While writing this, more of the book has come back to me and I’ve decided I really do like what I’ve seen of Villeneuve’s adaptation so far and it has renewed my interest in the story & wanting to continue reading it now. Especially as so many things were left out of the movie… Now I’m wondering how much I’ve missed by not reading Game Of Thrones!

As for Villeneuve, I’m definitely a fan. I’ve liked all I’ve seen of his work and Arrival is probably my overall favorite film of the past decade (and it’s still my favorite of his). So I was very eagerly awaiting this Dune adaptation & he again didn’t disappoint. The world looked fantastic, though a little too dark. Why do serious movies have to be so dark & grey these days??? I know it’s a sandy, dreary planet but still – I get enough grey living in England. But it did still look lovely & the cast was (mostly) great and it made me like the story even more.

My only other small complaint is that the Hans Zimmer score was very disappointing. As in, it was bland and I hardly noticed it except for when it suddenly sounded like some Scottish Braveheart thing WTF? Disappointing as I adored Jóhann Jóhannsson’s (RIP 😦 ) work on Villeneuve’s other films (and especially on the non-Villeneuve Mandy) but sadly he couldn’t work with him again. I know it seems like a small thing but an amazing score can make a good film a great film for me. I still think this adaptation of Dune was pretty great & I’m happy with the results but, man, a perfect score really would’ve pushed this one even higher for me. Maybe the score will grow on me. Bring on the next movie! I can’t wait.

FYI – Yes, I did see the David Lynch Dune but I can barely remember the book a year & a half later so let’s just say I remember nothing from a movie I watched a good 25 years ago. Might rewatch now, though! Will keep my expectations low. Wish the Jodorowsky Dune had happened…

My Rating: 8.5/10

Willy’s Wonderland (2021) & Saint Maud (2019) Reviews

Happy “Halloween Week”! Here are two horror movies that I thought were pretty good. I thoroughly enjoyed one but didn’t love the other, although I thought it was a good film. Probably obvious which was which…

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

Directed by Kevin Lewis

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec, Christian Del Grosso, Caylee Cowan, Terayle Hill, Jonathan Mercedes, David Sheftell, Beth Grant

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a quiet drifter who is tricked into cleaning up an abandoned family entertainment center haunted by eight murderous animatronic characters.

My Opinion:

I was never a huge fan of Nicolas Cage but he’s finally growing on me since Mandy. Mandy grew on me a lot too – I wasn’t sure how I felt right away but now I love that film & its look and its amazing score. I now want every Nicolas Cage movie to live up to Mandy but I don’t think any ever will. I did enjoy Color Out Of Space & it certainly gave Mandy a run for its money on “weirdness”. I love weird. It was no Mandy but I’m loving that Cage chooses such bizarre films with cult movie potential.

He’s done similar again with Willy’s Wonderland but in the horror comedy genre this time (a favorite subgenre of mine). I was so damn excited to see the trailer for a film starring Cage battling demonic animatronic characters. Love this idea! The film sadly didn’t quite live up to its amazing potential but I still had a lot of fun with it. And Cage was as bonkers as always, even while remaining silent through the whole film. It has a good ’80s slasher sort of vibe to it as well, so I appreciated that. The ’80s had some of the best “bad” horror movies & I’ll always happily watch this kind of thing.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Saint Maud (2019)

Directed & Written by Rose Glass

Starring: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.

My Opinion:

Watched this British psychological horror as so many went on about it but it’s one of those films being raved over for the performance. And I agree that Morfydd Clark was very good so this was worth watching for that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The story follows hospice nurse Maud (portrayed by Morfydd Clark), a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, who becomes obsessed with a former dancer in her care (Jennifer Ehle), believing she must save her soul.

The movie is fine but does drag a bit. I did like the slowly building tension, though, and thought the ending was good. Not one I’d watch again but am glad I checked out. I recommend it only if you like the more serious type of horrors with good acting. Oh! And was I going crazy or did her face do a weird Soundgarden Black Hole Sun video thing a couple of times when she was having one of her God orgasms?? That was kind of freaky fun.

My Rating: 6.5/10


Black hole sun, won’t you come? And wash away the rain?

Free Guy (2021) Review

Free Guy (2021)

Directed by Shawn Levy

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A bank teller discovers that he’s actually an NPC inside a brutal, open world video game.

My Opinion:

I still haven’t gone to the cinema through the whole pandemic & have no plans to anytime soon but, man, we’re SO missing going to new movies!!! The last thing we all saw in the cinema together (me, hubby & kid) was Onward, which was a “meh” one to end on. So we decided to end the summer school break with a trip to a drive-in.

I was very lucky growing up as there was a great drive-in not far from my tiny American Midwest town (with great pizza!) but I know it’s a novelty in the U.K. They do outdoor showings of older movies here sometimes (saw The Greatest Showman that way) but, seriously, who wants to sit outdoors in shitty U.K. weather?! Too risky in rainy England! So it’s cool that some small drive-ins have popped up during the pandemic. And it didn’t even rain during Free Guy! Yay! They just need to start doing double features – that’s what it always was at the one in America. And it was cheap, too (but it was the ’80s/’90s so I’m sure the cost has gone up). At £30 a car here, it’s good for a couple of trips but we can’t do that regularly. Was worth the cost to see one movie in a year & a half, though.

Anyway. Enough reminiscing about my high school drive-in days (I was so annoyed with my boyfriend wanting to make-out the whole time – I wanted to watch the damn movies). Suppose I should talk about Free Guy?? I probably enjoyed it slightly more than I might have as I needed a movie fix so bad but I thought it was a lot of fun. I even giggled a few times! I’m not a LOL person. Ryan Reynolds is always likeable, of course, but I also really liked Jodie Comer’s character. She’s also more than “just the love interest” – Her role is as big & as important as Ryan’s. The idea itself was good but, admittedly, not the most original. We’ve seen the whole “living in a video game” thing quite a lot. But this movie brought enough of a new spin to the idea plus the romance was surprisingly good (especially at the end). It managed to be slightly unpredictable, which was cool.

Ryan & Jodie are the characters we see the most by far but there were some really good smaller roles too. I can’t say much as I want to avoid spoilers but “Dude” was the best. That’s what got the most giggles out of me (but I’m a little immature). Also liked Ryan’s best friend and that guy from Stranger Things wasn’t too bad despite his always weird hair. And Taika Waititi was as entertaining as always, playing an evil game developer. Plus there are several cameos that I won’t spoil. Yeah, it was lightweight entertainment but that’s exactly what we all needed. Scary that it’s going to end up pretty high on my list of 2021 U.K. releases! But I can’t see absolutely loving many of the upcoming 2021 films. Let’s see how Dune turns out…

My Rating: 7/10