Before I Wake (2016) Review

Last year for my month of horror in October, I reviewed three Mike Flanagan movies: Oculus, Absentia & Hush. This year I’m reviewing three more: Gerald’s Game (reviewed Tuesday), Before I Wake and Ouija: Origin Of Evil (reviewed yesterday). Let’s see how Before I Wake compares to the rest of his films…

Before I Wake (2016)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Written by Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard

Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok

Music by Danny Elfman & The Newton Brothers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps.

My Opinion:

I actually quite liked this movie, although I can’t exactly say it’s “good”. In my review of Ouija: Origin Of Evil yesterday, I complained about how that was just another predictable supernatural film. Before I Wake is again more of the same but the overall story and some of the imagery made it feel a little more unique than Ouija. I enjoyed the story & the characters enough to overlook its flaws.

I watched this for two reasons: Mike Flanagan as well as Jacob Tremblay, who I thought was fantastic in Room. Tremblay gave one of the best child performances ever in that movie so I was curious what he’d be like in something else, especially a horror that’s not exactly “Oscar-worthy” like Room. Yeah…. He’s fine in this movie but it’s a role any child actor could’ve done. It’s a shame it was a bit of a waste to use him in this but I suppose his name is big enough now to help sell an unknown film such as this one. I’m curious to see how his film Wonder will turn out. Hopefully it will be a better role for him but I suppose no role will ever live up to the Room role.

Oh, look! Thomas Jane is in this! I’ve come full circle in my Stephen King/Mike Flanagan Week since Jane was in King’s 1922. I like Jane & he was fine as the adoptive father. However – it was the mother, Kate Bosworth, who had the bigger role. She was good (as far as acting in basic supernatural horrors goes). I’ve always liked her fine so it’s good to see her in something as it feels like she’s sort of disappeared. Small spoiler but not really as it’s at the start of the film: Jane & Bosworth are adopting Tremblay after the tragic death of their own son. I often avoid movies involving the loss of the child as I find that subject matter too upsetting but I think Jane & especially Bosworth did very well in conveying their grief. It may be why I liked this movie quite a bit more than Ouija even though I’m giving it a similar rating: I just really felt for the parents in this and for Tremblay & the revelation regarding his nightmarish “gift” of having his dreams come to life.

As to be predicted, his dreams are at first nice ones that bring beautiful things, such as a room full of colorful butterflies, to life. I liked these scenes a lot – it was great imagery for a horror movie. I can’t find images of the butterflies online for some reason. Anyway, as also to be predicted, the dreams soon turn to nightmares and the manifestation of a scary spirit of some sort. Yeah, I know: We’ve seen this sort of thing in loads of movies.

The movie then goes the way of most supernatural horrors: the end is a little messy and you’ll either like it or you won’t. I personally liked the direction the story went & how they chose to end this one. I’ll say the “revelation” was one that I hadn’t immediately predicted so it gets bonus points from me for that. Yes, I enjoyed Before I Wake but, as most films in this genre, the story will be one that either does or doesn’t work for you. It worked for me.

My Rating: 6.5/10

My Mike Flanagan Movie Ranking (from least favorite to favorite):

6. Oculus
5. Ouija: Origin Of Evil
4. Before I Wake
3. Hush
2. Absentia
1. Gerald’s Game

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The Watcher In The Woods (1980) Review

The Watcher In The Woods (1980)

Directed by John Hough & Vincent McEveety (uncredited)

Based on A Watcher in the Woods by Florence Engel Randall

Starring: Bette Davis, Carroll Baker, David McCallum, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Kyle Richards

Production company: Walt Disney Productions

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of a teenage girl and her little sister who become encompassed in a supernatural mystery regarding a missing girl in the woods surrounding their new home in the English countryside.

My Opinion:

This is a Disney horror movie! Yep, you read that right! I can’t believe I didn’t know of this film’s existence. Well, I had heard of it and liked the sound of it so recorded it when it popped up on TV several months ago but I don’t think I ever realized it was a Disney film. Okay, it’s not like it’s a Saw film or something. This is “horror-light”. Think: R.L. Stine Goosebumps-level horror. It’s a fun film and I think, being a lover of things like the original The Twilight Zone from a very young age, I’d have loved this movie if I’d seen it as a kid.

This movie is from 1980 and I’m not gonna lie – it’s very 1980 so it’s unlikely that a younger generation would necessarily be able to tolerate its look & pace. Being a child of the 80s, I obviously have no issue with something that hasn’t aged that well. I’ve only JUST noticed when looking this movie up at IMDb for this review that a new version starring Anjelica Huston has been made! It has a US release date of tomorrow (21st of October 2017) & looks like it’s a TV movie. How can I see this in the UK?! I wanna watch it with my kid. But she doesn’t like scary stuff AT ALL. She doesn’t take after her mommy!

I enjoyed the supernatural story in this, even though it was a little cheesy at the end. But, hey – it’s for kids! Well, maybe more for teenagers at the time but nowadays it would be fine for pre-teens. As I said, I’d have loved this as a kid so I can’t really criticize it as I think it’s perfectly fine for its target audience at the time it was made. Bette Davis, as the lonely & mysterious lady who owns the English countryside house that an American family moves into, is the one big name in this and helps to give the film some credibility. There’s a mystery surrounding her daughter, who disappeared 30 years earlier. The two girls who’ve just moved into the house, a teenager & her young sister, try to solve the mystery.

For those of you who didn’t grow up on 70s & 80s movies, you may not be a used to the, um, acting style of kids & teenagers back then. They weren’t like Jacob Tremblay in Room (I love that movie). The acting from the two daughters in this, especially the teenager, is dodgy as hell. I’m not saying that’s their fault, though, as this was common in a lot of movies at the time. I think writers & directors just seriously didn’t know how to make young characters feel genuine back then. Come to think of it, Steven Spielberg probably deserves some credit for paving the way for believable kids in movies thanks to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The teenager in this, Lynn-Holly Johnson, was in a figure skating romance movie called Ice Castles (1978) with Robby Benson. Oh, I wanna see that! Looks like my type of thing. And the younger sister, Kyle Richards, was in Halloween but I mostly remember her as Alicia on Little House On The Prairie (that show rules and is another love of mine that I’ve been unable to get my kid to show any interest in). 😉

If you watch this movie bearing in mind the time it was made, you might get some enjoyment out of the story. I did, but I love a fun supernatural mystery. There’s also some good imagery that I’m sure stuck with kids who saw this at the time. This will be one of those movies that people my age would say “that movie scared the crap out of me as a kid!” and then, if they rewatched it now, they’d realize how tame it is. I liked it. I think Disney should’ve made more movies in this genre! But, having a horror movie with the “Disney” name attached to it, I can also see why that didn’t end up working.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Oh! I found the trailer for the 2017 movie! It’s a Lifetime movie. Bwahaha! I remember those from the days I lived in America! Not gonna lie – I loved some Lifetime movies. 😉 And it’s been directed by Melissa Joan Hart?! Whaaat? Clarissa? Sabrina? She’s a director? When did that happen? I’m so old. I seriously want to see this (it looks scarier than the 1980 film):

And the 1980 trailer for comparison:

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016) & The Girl On The Train (2016) Reviews

Two quick reviews of two film adaptations of two books I read. My reviews of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs can be found HERE & The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins HERE. Okay, one is a thriller but the other is close enough to being a “horror” so I’m doing these for October Horror Month. Let’s see what I thought of the movies…

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016)

Directed by Tim Burton

Screenplay by Jane Goldman

Based on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

My Opinion:

When I was in the middle of reading this book years ago, I said to the hubby “Tim Burton needs to make this into a movie”. Imagine my surprise when Hollywood did something right for a change! He was the absolute perfect choice to adapt this book & he did a very good job with it. The problem is that 1) I didn’t exactly love the book, although I loved the “gimmick” of the old photographs that were used throughout it and 2) Tim Burton hasn’t made anything truly fantastic in years, which still breaks my heart as I absolutely adored his oldest films. I’d say this was somewhat a return to form for Burton but, as I said, I didn’t love the source material so was unlikely to love the movie.

From what I remember of the book, it seems a faithful adaptation until the end. But I didn’t care enough to continue reading the books so it’s possible the movie continues a bit into the next book for all I know? I wouldn’t say it renewed my interest enough to read the remaining books but I’d certainly watch a sequel if Burton makes one. The performances were pretty strong and, like Burton being the perfect choice for director, I think Eva Green was a perfect choice for playing Miss Peregrine. The child actors also all did a good job (I think Burton always does well in casting his films), with the lead young roles (played by Asa Butterfield & Ella Purnell) as the standouts. Terence Stamp & especially Judi Dench weren’t given much to do, which was a shame. And I enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson as always (who doesn’t love Sam Jackson?!) but he’s phoning it in a bit with this baddie role. Sorry, Mr. Jackson! I apologize a trillion times!


Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a good adaptation of a bizarre book thanks to its also bizarre director. And I liked the look & vibe of it, as I always do with Burton’s style. I wish I liked both the book and the film more than I do, though. I like “weird” so can’t really put my finger on why the story didn’t quite work for me. With the book, I think I just couldn’t connect with the characters. To be fair, I think Burton improved on this with the film and I’d say this is one of those cases where the movie might be slightly better than the book. It also helped that it got a proper ending, as opposed to the open-ended cliffhanger that just left me frustrated with the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Girl On The Train (2016)

Directed by Tate Taylor

Based on The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, Lisa Kudrow

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

My Opinion:

I thought this book, although fun in a pulp-y sort of way, was pretty horrible. This was mainly because the characters were all truly hateful. The story itself was okay and I found it a very quick read as I wanted to get to the resolution of its mystery but, wow, I didn’t give the slightest crap what would happen to any of the characters. Not even ONE likable person? Really?? I’ll never understand stories that choose to make us despise everyone in them. And the thing with the baby upset me too much (and kind of pissed me off).

Well, the movie is a faithful adaptation, so… What can I say? I didn’t like the book so I wasn’t going to like a faithful adaptation anyway. The fact that is stars Emily Blunt, who is kind of a girl crush of mine, is what made me even bother to stick this on one evening & half pay attention to it. Meh. I don’t know. I just didn’t care. The actors did what they could with the material but the material was weak. Hold on a second – in this double review, Danny Elfman did the music for this movie but not the Tim Burton movie?! Now that’s bizarre.

My Rating: 5/10

Pontypool (2008) Review

Pontypool (2008)

Directed by Bruce McDonald

Based on Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess

Starring: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak, Rick Roberts, Boyd Banks, Tony Burgess, Rachel Burns

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A radio host interprets the possible outbreak of a deadly virus which infects the small Ontario town.

My Opinion:

This film was quite unusual. I love that! With all the lame & predictable horror movies that keep getting made, it’s great when we actually get something with a concept as original as in Pontypool. The plot synopsis above doesn’t tell you much so I’ll add a bit more, which is kind of spoiler-y but tells you that this is a “zombie-like-virus outbreak” film with a unique twist. So don’t read the rest of this paragraph if you like knowing nothing whatsoever but knowing this is what made me want to see the film: the virus in this film is spread through language. Certain words cause certain people to become infected. Therefore, setting this movie within a talk radio station with a former “shock jock” radio DJ being the only one who can try to somehow get messages to listeners without infecting them was a brilliant idea. I already loved the overall idea behind this film before even watching it.

The execution of the story is a little strange, though, and I can’t say I fully connected with the characters. Only three characters really matter, played by Stephen McHattie (as DJ Grant Mazzy), Lisa Houle (as station manager Sydney Briar) & Georgina Reilly (as technical assistant Laurel-Ann). Oh, and we do get to hear from “helicopter reporter Ken” throughout the film but don’t get to really know anything about him. We get a few backstory tidbits about our three main characters at the station and I really liked the chemistry between the DJ & station manager but, for the film to have truly connected with me, I’d like to have cared more about the fate of these people. Even Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead remake managed more character development with way more than three characters. Hell, I’m still upset about poor Andy at the gun store across the street from the mall in Dawn Of The Dead and we only hear him on a walkie talkie! So I think it is possible to make a zombie or zombie-like-virus movie with strong characters.


Also, I felt the telling of the story in Pontypool was a little messy. I suppose you could argue that that’s partly the point as the film should be showing us the importance of language and how we use it to communicate and how lost we’d be without it. Without proper communication, there’d be a lot of confusion. Unfortunately, I don’t think the story ever really delivers on its fantastic concept. There’s a lot to think about here! Imagine trying to communicate without using language that may potentially be deadly. It’s a very clever idea I’d like to see explored further. I see this has been adapted from a book (Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess), so I wonder if the book delves any deeper.

I want to give this movie a higher rating as I loved the idea behind it so much and I did quite like it but, sadly, I can’t say it really lived up to its potential. It seems very low budget (I don’t know if that’s the case) but that works well with this film and gives it a good atmosphere in the confined space of the radio station. There’s also some dark humor throughout it that will work for some people and not for others. I always love dark humor so would like to have seen much more of it. I don’t think it comes across properly and feels like a much more straightforward horror story than I think was intended. Finally, there’s a confusing extra scene after the credits that was originally meant to be the final scene of the film. I think it’s good that it was moved to after the credits as it would have been a little jarring as the actual end of the film. All in all, however, I have far more respect for a film like this that tries to be different than I do for the countless cliché horror movies (like The Forest, which I trashed HERE yesterday). Pontypool may not have fully worked for me overall but I can see some people really loving it & I’d be happy to watch it again with a friend if I had cool friends who watched movies with me. But I have no friends. Which is fine as it means I’m far less likely to be infected by a conversational virus!

My Rating: 6.5/10

Monster Hunter (2014), Lifeforce (1985) & The Forest (2016) Reviews

Three quickie reviews of two dreadful movies & one that was decent…

Monster Hunter (2014) (aka US Title: Dark Was The Night)

Directed by Jack Heller

Starring: Kevin Durand, Lukas Haas, Bianca Kajlich

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An evil is unleashed in a small town when a logging company sets up shop in the neighboring woods.

My Opinion:

This is the movie that was decent. It’s now almost a year ago that I watched all three of these films so that’s why I’m doing quickie reviews as I can’t say they were all that memorable. I remember this one the most, though. The look of the creature was done well and there was some decent acting, which is more than can be said for a lot of mainstream horrors that have bigger budgets.


Little Lukas Haas is in this. Aww. Remember him? It’s so weird that I still think of him as a little kid like when he first started out in movies such as Witness, which is stupid as he’s actually the same age as me. He plays a New York City cop who is now deputy to the sheriff (Kevin Durand) in a small town logging community. I liked the characters and thought Kevin Durand did well as a father grieving the accidental death of one of his sons. Decent characters in a horror movie! Yay!

There’s nothing in this movie that’s exactly groundbreaking. The story is fairly predictable and the characters behave as you’d expect in this sort of genre. However, I found the film enjoyable and really liked the “isolated small town” atmosphere, which is a setting I’ve often gone for in horror films (maybe being from a tiny isolated town myself). The onset of winter also added to the isolated feel, which is another horror cliché that I really like. I’m okay with some horror clichés as long as a decent film comes out of it and I’d say that this movie is quite good for one that doesn’t seem to have any big names attached to it or to be that well known (I’d only heard of it thanks to this good review at Vic’s Movie Den).

If you’re a fan of “creature” movies and not too picky, this is one I’d definitely recommend. It’s a very straightforward but fun monster movie that isn’t too silly or too serious. I’ll end with this bit from Wikipedia if you’re interested in checking the film out:

“The film is loosely based on the real-life events that unfolded in Topsham, England in 1855, known as The Devil’s Footprints. The small town woke to find freshly fallen snow and biped hoof prints tracing the landscape. Dark Was the Night is said to tell the story of a present-day community’s reaction to a similar event.”

My Rating: 6.5/10

Lifeforce (1985)

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon & Don Jakoby

Based on The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson

Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film portrays the events that unfold after a trio of humanoids in a state of suspended animation are brought to Earth after being discovered in the hold of an alien space ship by the crew of a European space shuttle.

My Opinion:

Ugh!!! This movie was so bad. Why does it have a decent IMDb rating of 6.1 out of 10?! Oh. That’s right. It’s because the woman is fully nude for, like, 90% of the movie….

I was kind of excited about this one. Directed by Tobe Hooper (RIP), who did do a lot of dodgy stuff but also did the awesome Poltergeist & Salem’s Lot. Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (also RIP), who wrote things like The Return Of The Living Dead & a decent little thing called ALIEN(!!!). And, of course, Patrick Stewart was in this and I love Patrick Stewart. Sounds like a recipe for success to me! Ugh. Hell no. And Stewart was terrible.

I can’t be bothered. This movie sucked. I’m sure it has its fans but I do wonder if they’re all male. Feel free to speak up if you’re a fan! I promise I won’t be rude. I’m genuinely curious to know what it is that people like about this movie. To be fair, I may not have been in the right mood since I wasn’t feeling well when I watched this. I watched it in bed on a small iPad while lying on my side, giving me a backache. My backache and the movie’s full frontal nudity are all that I really remember now.

My Rating: 3/10

The Forest (2016)

Directed by Jason Zada

Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Forest follows a young woman who travels to Aokigahara (the suicide forest) to find her sister.

My Opinion:

Crap. Seriously. Surely Game Of Thrones star Natalie Dormer can be in movies better than this boring & cliché horror tripe. I mean, she got to make out with Chris Hemsworth in the surprisingly good Rush. Hot DAMN he was hot in that. How can you go from that to starring in this???

Where’s a movie starring Chris Hemsworth fully nude for 90% of the movie like Mathilda May in Lifeforce? Hmm???? Equal rights, dammit! Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah. The Forest. Um. I don’t remember this one AT ALL. I watched it almost a year ago. Natalie Dormer goes into a creepy forest to find her possibly suicidal twin sister, who went missing there. Weird shit happens. There’s a potential love interest. It doesn’t end well if I remember correctly (as to be expected from this predictable sort of supernatural type of horror). How stuff like this gets a major mainstream release in loads of cinemas is beyond me. Unless you’re absolutely in love with Dormer, don’t bother with this one unless you’ve never watched another horror film in your entire life. If you have, you’ve seen this all before.

My Rating: 3/10

**Here’s my review of a (comedy) horror that I actually did enjoy, which makes fun of horror movie clichés: The Final Girls (2015). I had problems scheduling it last week & don’t think it posted correctly. I do like horror movies sometimes! There are just way too many bad ones.

The Witch (2015) Review

The Witch (2015)
(stylized as The VVitch, subtitled A New-England Folktale)

Directed & Written by Robert Eggers

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Witch follows a Puritan family encountering forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farm.

My Opinion:

I’d really been looking forward to this after it got some great reviews, which is rare for a horror movie. I’ve been very disappointed with the horror genre these last 20 years or so. It’s so rare to get a good one anymore. However, there’s been an increase in good horror films the past few years (I especially loved The Babadook & It Follows). I did a list last October of My Top Ten Horror Movies Of The 21st Century and was disappointed I’d not yet seen The Witch as it sounded like another good modern horror that may actually make my list. I’m sad to say that, while I think it’s an okay film, I can’t say I loved it & I certainly don’t need to add it to that Top Ten list.

I can see why it has its fans. There’s a good atmosphere & I did like the genuine oldy worldy feel of witches & satanic goats & all that good devil stuff. When it comes to horror subgenres, I love a good devil movie! The Omen is a favorite. What a classic. And I guess I can again plug one of my favorite top ten lists – My Top Ten Devil & Hell Songs. Clearly, witches and demons make for great movie & music material. Therefore, I suppose it didn’t help that I had such high expectations for this movie…

Anya Taylor-Joy does a good job as Thomasin, a girl whose deeply religious 17th century Puritan family go a bit crazy when mysterious happenings occur. Her mother (Kate Dickie, who was Lysa Arryn in Game Of Thrones) is a nutjob once again engaging in some breastfeeding weirdness. She’s a bit like Carrie’s mother in Carrie but unfortunately not nearly as entertaining as the wonderful Piper Laurie in that. When bad things start happening, such as the disappearance of her newborn, she blames Thomasin for everything. There’s lots of praying & religious hysteria & I really wanted poor Thomasin to be able to get away from all that shit. Luckily, her father does have some sense and tries to protect her a little bit. Except for Thomasin & her father, it was hard to really care about what would happen to anyone.

The Witch is a good old-fashioned atmospheric horror movie that relies on a slow build-up of terror instead of jump scares and/or lots of gore. It’s my type of horror but just didn’t quite work for me. Overall, I was a bit bored but can see why some people really liked it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Altered States (1980) Blind Spot Review

Altered States (1980)

Directed by Ken Russell

Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Drew Barrymore

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Altered States is a 1980 American science-fiction horror film directed by Ken Russell and adapted from a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. The film was adapted from Chayefsky’s only novel and is his final screenplay. Both the novel and the film are based on John C. Lilly’s sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks under the influence of psychoactive drugs like mescaline, ketamine and LSD.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite (I’ve finished watching them all! Just need to review the rest):

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. House (Hausu 1977)
8. The King & I
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Ghost In The Shell
4. Wolf Children
3. Watership Down
2. The Untouchables
1. Rocky

As with a lot of my Blind Spot picks, Altered States was put on the list as I’ve been meaning to see it for years. I’d heard it described as a “Body Horror” film and I have a strange fascination with those (I did a list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies HERE). I’d say I liked it okay but it didn’t really live up to my expectations. And it’s certainly not a David Cronenberg-style body horror, which is the kind of thing I go for. It IS pretty bizarre, though, so I appreciated that. But I became a bit bored with it overall. Oh well – I still found it far more entertaining than this year’s Blind Spot choice of The Last Temptation Of Christ.


**Yeah, this photo is from Altered States – not The Last Temptation Of Christ…

I didn’t know beforehand that this movie is (I’m assuming rather loosely) based on John C. Lilly’s real-life isolation tank experiments (as in the plot synopsis up there). So I then looked up John C. Lilly (here on Wikipedia) as I admit I’d never heard of him & read a little about his research. Whoa – talk about an interesting life! Man I’m boring. And those 60’s drugs sound crazy, man. His isolation tank experiments seem less bizarre than some of the many other things he researched, such as dolphin communication and what he called “Solid State Intelligence” and “Earth Coincidence Control Office (E.C.C.O.)”. Whaaat? I can’t even explain those – just read the Wikipedia entry. Has anyone read his work? I think I’d be confused as hell. But I doubt he ever actually “devolved” into some kind of apelike creature like William Hurt did in this movie (Sorry – Spoiler??). I’m sure this movie was pretty “out-there” in 1980 but parts of it are very silly when watching it now for the first time.

Sorry – this is going to be a short review. I honestly don’t know how to go about discussing this one. I think the science behind it all was just way too far over my head. Or maybe it would help to watch this while using mescaline, ketamine and LSD to better understand Hurt’s experiences while drugged-up & suspended in the isolation tank??? I have to say I’ve always wanted to try those float therapy places where you float in water in a dark tank for an hour or whatever. I think I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to turn into this:

Or this:

But I wouldn’t mind looking like this:

The naked lady is actress Blair Brown, who I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else. Well, apparently she was in Dogville but I can’t say I remember her character. Anyway, she plays William Hurt’s wife in this & I thought she was really good. I felt sorry for her character having to put up with all of Hurt’s weird, rambling, intellectual mumbo jumbo. He treated her pretty crap and I kept forgetting they had kids together as his family took a backseat to his research. Hell – one of their kids was even played by Drew Barrymore & I somehow managed to totally miss that since they were barely a part of the film. I love Drew! Oh, Altered States doesn’t manage to make it onto My Top Ten Drew Barrymore Movies list I did ages ago, so… Good! I won’t have to update that list. Hurt did well with the role – it’s just such a hard character to relate to in any way.

I probably sound more negative about this film than I actually feel. I think it’s worth watching as it’s quite unique and I did enjoy some of the imagery, such as in these last few photos I’ve put in this post. I wish there’d been more of that but we also had simian Hurt running around with his monkey balls out & crucified, multi-eyed, Jesus-goat-thingy Hurt and it was hard to take the movie too seriously as these specific effects haven’t aged as well as the more psychedelic scenes have. I’m glad I finally saw Altered States and another Ken Russell film other than Tommy. I prefer Tommy, but that’ll mainly be because of the music.

My Rating: 6.5/10



**I think that’s Drew in this movie, although I can’t say for sure. Aww. So cute!

Ancien And The Magic Tablet (aka Napping Princess) (2017) Review

Ancien And The Magic Tablet
(UK Title – Napping Princess: The Story Of The Unknown Me)
ひるね姫 〜知らないワタシの物語〜
Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari

Directed by Kenji Kamiyama

Starring Voice Actors: Mitsuki Takahata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tomoya Maeno, Rie Kugimiya, Arata Furuta, Hideki Takahashi, Yōsuke Eguchi

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Kokone has university exams to prepare for, but instead she dozes off. Even when her father is unceremoniously arrested prior to the Tokyo Olympics and the family is hiding away a mystery or two she finds herself taking refuge in sleep where thrills await her. Could there be more to her dreams?

My Opinion:

I didn’t know a thing about this movie when looking up cinema times & seeing that something called “Napping Princess” was playing (Which is a crap title – I prefer the American title on this one). I was like “Ohhh. Japanese anime! Let’s go to that!” even though it doesn’t have the greatest IMDB rating (6.3/10). I’ve also since seen the Empire magazine rating (2/5). Bit harsh!! It’s certainly not the best anime I’ve seen but it was entertaining enough & my kid seemed to enjoy it. Although she mainly liked it for the girl’s cute blue toy dog thingy – I think she would’ve liked the movie far less without that character.

I admit to really getting into the Japanese anime thing lately so I’m probably giving this a higher rating than it actually deserves since it’s more my type of thing than most Western animated films (just from DreamWorks, etc – Disney & Pixar are awesome). Napping Princess is far from perfect. I thought the story was a bit too messy & convoluted while the characters weren’t all that memorable. When all I’ve really seen are the very biggest Japanese anime films (Akira, Ghost In The Shell, all the best Studio Ghiblis), this film definitely pales in comparison. Okay – I suppose this movie is like the Japanese equivalent of a DreamWorks movie while the Studio Ghibli stuff is like the very best of the Pixar movies. Ancien And The Magic Tablet is cute, lighthearted fun but I doubt it’ll ever be considered a classic in Japan.

The overall concept of the film is good even if the plot did get a little messy. The main character, schoolgirl Kokone, has bizarre dreams in which she’s a princess with a magic “tablet” (iPad) that enables her to bring things to life (such as the cute blue dog thingy & a Transformer-like motorcycle). In real life, her dad is secretly working on programming driverless cars when he’s suddenly arrested & Kokone doesn’t know why. However, he’s left a tablet (iPad!) behind, which may provide the clues…

It’s a shame more work wasn’t put into the characters. I mean, the Transformers-like motorcycle was kind of wasted – that could’ve been a really cool companion like The Iron Giant or something (I love that movie). Cute blue dog thingy also didn’t have much to do and I don’t remember much about the boy who helps Kokone after her father is arrested. The relationship between Kokone & her father plus finding out more about her mother was done fairly well, though, so that’s one of the story’s stronger points. Without giving anything away, the real world & dream world start to collide toward the end, which is when the story got a little messy but was also enjoyable in a Christopher Nolan Inception-y way. It’s worth a watch if you like Japanese anime & it’s probably fine for most kids ages 8 & up or so. I think it probably wants to be Your Name but tries too hard with a story that doesn’t come together as well as it did in that film. By the way – I definitely DO recommend Your Name if you’ve not seen it… Check that one out before Napping Princess.

My Rating: 6.5/10

FYI according to Wikipedia:

“A English-dubbed version was released in the United Kingdom from August 16, 2017; whereas the United States will receive a US-dubbed version sometime later in August.”

Luckily, I saw the Japanese language version with English subtitles. Far prefer seeing the subtitled versions of these films.

Despicable Me 3 (2017) Review

Despicable Me 3 (2017)

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda

Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate, Chris Renaud

Music by Heitor Pereira & Pharrell Williams

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, Gru teams up with his long lost twin Dru in order to defeat a new enemy named Balthazar Bratt, a 1980s child actor who grows up to become a villain.

My Opinion:

Another quickie review today! I’m trying to catch up since I try to review the things I see in the cinema (I managed to finally review Gifted yesterday). At least I missed out on Spider-Man: Homecoming due to a headache so I don’t have to worry about reviewing that! Wait, no – that sucks. I want to see that, dammit. But now I don’t know when it’ll be. Anyone seen it? What did you think? Oops – I’m meant to be reviewing Despicable Me 3…

What can I say? I love those damn minions (one of cinema’s greatest creations, quite frankly). I absolutely adore the three Despicable Me girls (I’d adopt them if you could legally adopt cartoon children) and I love their adorable relationship with Gru. The first Despicable Me film is a favorite of mine, which is extremely rare for an animated movie that wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney. I’m a total Disney/Pixar snob – all other animation production companies can’t even compare. BUT! The first Despicable Me rules. The characters, the soundtrack, the MINIONS…. ! Love it.

As with all money-grabbing animation sequels, though, Despicable Me 2 & 3 obviously pale in comparison to the first. I looked back at my review for Despicable Me 2 (HERE) and I was far too generous with my rating, which I’ve now knocked down slightly to 7.5/10. That’s still probably too high but I think I was buzzing from once again getting to see these characters that I enjoy. I felt the same way while watching number 3 and, when first coming out of the cinema last weekend, probably would’ve rated it slightly too high if I hadn’t waited a week to review it. I at first felt it was a tiny bit better than number 2 but have since changed my mind since watching part of that one with the kid again. 2 & 3 are fairly close but 2 gets half a point more for funnier minion scenes, better use of Pharrell’s brilliant music, and a much stronger opening. Both 2 & 3’s villains are quite weak but, meh – who cares when we get to see Gru, the girls & the minions again? Gru’s long-lost twin brother is probably a love-him-or-hate-him addition but I found him a better character than the lacklustre villains of the last two and slightly less annoying than Lucy (who I’m still unfortunately not crazy about, but that’s not helped by her not being given much to do in number 3).


I think I’m probably going too easy on this film because I love the characters & also love seeing how much my kid enjoys these movies (I think she thinks she IS Agnes sometimes). Despicable Me 3 isn’t a great film but, if you love these characters, I think you’ll get some enjoyment out of it anyway so I would still recommend it to fans. I think reviews have been a bit too harsh since the first movie was so good. But, to be fair, I’ve seen FAR worse animated sequels. And it’s certainly better than the Minions movie, which truly suffered from the lack of the three girls. Oh, and I’ll say I was very worried when seeing the trailer for this one that the girls would barely be in it (why the hell weren’t they in the trailer?!) so I’m happy to say their roles are about as big as they were in the second film. Maybe that’s why I ended up not being disappointed since that horrible trailer gave me very low expectations. But I enjoyed it just fine. It’s watchable. I still adore these characters. But it would be nice if the movies were getting slightly better each time instead of slightly worse…

My Rating: 6.5/10

*I’ve amended this rating – think I was too generous with a 7/10…

Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Alien: Covenant (2017)

**Spoiler-free ranting below**

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief and of course spoiler-free as I know Alien: Covenant isn’t yet out in America.

I’m a huge fan of the first two Alien films. I’ve never talked about them on this blog because I’m not a good writer and I find it hard to review the films I love the most (I made an attempt to review favorites, which I called CPD Classics, but gave up after a while as it took too long to write those). I can’t find the right words to express the awesomeness of those first two films. The H.R. Giger designs (above all else), the mood, the horror, the mystery, the action of the second film plus a great set of characters, Hicks (hottie), the knife/hand thing and, of course, a kick-ass female. Those first two films are perfection. I suppose that’s why every Alien film since those has been such a huge disappointment. How can you top those? You can’t. And Alien: Covenant is yet another massive disappointment.

I didn’t read any reviews at all before seeing this but the main comment I couldn’t help but see several times on Twitter was that “it starts out okay & almost feels like an Alien film but then turns into Prometheus 2“. That’s exactly right. If you liked Prometheus, you’ll probably like Covenant. If you hated Prometheus, I doubt you’ll like this one. I’m no fan of Prometheus. To be honest, I barely remember it now as I never watched it again after going to the cinema to see it. I wouldn’t say I hated it as I will probably always watch each & every movie that explores the Alien universe as it’s an overall idea that I absolutely love but, man – I wish they’d stop f*^king things up so much!

You know what? I actually think I like Prometheus slightly more now. Compared to Covenant, it’s probably the better of the two. Yikes. It’s like having to choose between two horrible candidates & having to go with the lesser of two evils. Prometheus kept things slightly more simple whereas Scott feels like he’s aimlessly & pointlessly overcomplicating things now. The mystery of the alien race in the first film is a big part of what makes the entire Alien universe so horrifying. Stop trying to explain everything. Stop showing us too much. Stop all the pretentiousness. Make an Alien film. Stop making Prometheus films, dammit. How are so many filmmakers & studios so damn clueless as to what the public actually want?

Okay – maybe it’s time to stop making these films altogether. Or perhaps let someone else take over again (Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 looks fairly promising so far). Either way, I’m pretty good at blocking things out of my mind when I want to and these sequels & prequels have yet to ruin the legacy of the first two films for me. But I grew up with the first two during my early teen film-loving beginnings. How much are these newer films damaging those first ones for the current generation?

I can’t be bothered with this “review”. I’m just annoyed. BUT, I did go in with very low expectations (I’m not stupid). Therefore, I’m not as annoyed as I seem since I got what I pretty much expected. Like with Prometheus, I didn’t exactly hate this film. I just try to think of these films as a separate sort of thing (kind of like with the Star Wars prequels). They mostly suck but there are moments that I enjoy thanks to my love of the original films (the moments that feel like an Alien film & not a Prometheus film and there are a few of these, luckily). Michael Fassbender (hottie) is very good. He steals the show. I just wish they could’ve made us care about this set of characters as much those in Aliens (but that wasn’t Scott). Other than Fassbender, everyone is very one-dimensional & their relationships felt forced for added drama (most of the those on the Covenant are married to someone else on the ship – what’s with all the romantic connections?).

Oops – I was trying to end with only positive comments to help explain why I’m not giving this a lower rating after all my bitching. Um. There’s a Xenomorph. There’s a facehugger. There’s bursting. That’s why the score isn’t lower. God I’m shallow. If they make another one of these movies, I know I’ll still watch the damn thing even though it’s 99% likely that at least 75% of it will suck. 😉 But if I had to rank all these now (not counting those AVP ones), Covenant is probably at the very bottom. That’s so not what I wanted. Why do I continue to live in the hope that there could ever be another good Alien film?

My Rating: 6.5/10*

*I’m being way too generous. Because it’s an Alien film. Sort of. But not really. Damn.

Dolls (1987) Review

I originally posted this review for the Recommended By Blogathon over at Head In A Vice. Hopefully Tyson doesn’t mind me re-posting it in full now as it’s the perfect fit for the Creepy Dolls Week I’m doing here. 🙂

Dolls (1987)

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Starring: Stephen Lee, Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason, Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy Gordon, Cassie Stuart, Bunty Bailey, Carrie Lorraine

Running time: 77 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of people stop by a mansion during a storm and discover two magical toy makers, and their haunted collection of dolls.

Why I Chose This For The Recommended By Blogathon:

Dolls was reviewed HERE by Laura over at FILMNERDBLOG & I thought it sounded hilariously bad but fun. Laura reviews a wide variety of films but seems to especially have a love/hate relationship with cheesy horror movies. I started following her when I saw she was reviewing things like Basket Case. 🙂

I thought it was time I return the favor as Laura has watched a couple of movies based on my reviews (From Beyond, which is from the same director as Dolls, and the awesome Hardware). I think she regretted both, especially From Beyond. Lol! I mean, check this From Beyond shit out – what a trooper she is:

My Opinion On Dolls:

I don’t think I liked this QUITE as much as Laura did but I did have a lot of fun with it. It’s pure 80’s cheese with dodgy acting & fake-looking gore so it’s totally my type of thing (I can’t watch modern horror – too gross!). And the DOLLS… Man I hate dolls – I can’t think of anything much creepier than going into some strange old mansion in the middle of nowhere & finding it’s filled with THESE:

The characters in Dolls are exactly what you’d expect from a horror movie like this (and I mean that in a good way). The main character is the young girl and she’s cute & sweet and you want everything to turn out okay for her as she’s stranded in this mansion with her father & step-mother who are both complete assholes. I really thought the step-mother was a man until I looked her up at IMDB. Turns out she was also in From Beyond! Ha!


Also stranded in this mansion on this stormy night are two girls dressed as “punks” crossed with Madonna and they speak in ridiculously bad Cockney accents. I think? I’m bad with accents. And there’s a nice dorky guy who gave the punk girls a lift and he’s the only one of the bunch (besides the little girl) who isn’t an asshole. Finally, we have the fabulously cliché owners of the mansion: an old doll maker & his wife. These two are great – they totally look the part. Both British actors, the woman was in Don’t Look Now & the man was in movies such as And Now The Screaming Starts! with Peter Cushing and was the Puppet Master in several of the films in that series. Look at these two! Perfect for Dolls:

Anyway – everything you expect to happen, happens. Everyone you expect to die, dies. It’s predictable and the acting is pretty atrocious but… C’mon – Who cares? It’s a movie about dolls that go around killing people! It’s fun! It even has a bit of a moral (which is more than can be said about most horror films). Basically, the moral is that you should always stay young at heart. If you don’t, DOLLS WILL COME TO LIFE & KILL YOU!

Awesome. Thanks, Laura! I really enjoyed watching this one. 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

*I’ve upped my rating by half a point. This was a fun watch*

**Can I just add, as I didn’t realize this when I originally posted the review, that the girl (Bunty Bailey) from A-ha’s Take On Me video is in this?! She’s one of the two Cockney punk girls. Hilarious. 🙂

The Invitation (2015) Review

The Invitation (2015)

Directed by Karyn Kusama

Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lindsay Burdge, Mike Doyle, Jay Larson, John Carroll Lynch

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

My Opinion:

After being so negative over the past two days when reviewing New Zealand horror comedies Housebound & Deathgasm, I’m happy to review this pretty solid & intense psychological horror/thriller. I’d seen some very positive reviews of The Invitation from fellow bloggers & the plot synopsis sounded like the sort of mystery I go for so I’m glad I listened to you guys as I did enjoy this one. 🙂

The setup was a little iffy as Logan Marshall-Green brings his girlfriend to a dinner party his ex-wife & her new husband are having at his former home with a bunch of their mutual friends. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think many people invite their ex-spouses to dinner parties – I think they just meet up with their mutual friends separately. But these people appear to have a lot of money & people with money can be a bit weird, so, who knows!

I’ll try to not give too much away but there’s a tragic past between the divorced couple & I really felt for Logan Marshall-Green’s character (and his ex too but she’s so weird you can’t really relate to her in the same way). He plays his character well, with a great escalating paranoia that never goes too over-the-top. You remain on his side as something clearly bizarre is going on that most of the other guests either don’t notice or choose to ignore.

There’s a good mix of different personalities in this. Marshall-Green & his girlfriend (Emayatzy Corinealdiare) are, obviously, the main characters we’re meant to root for while most of the friends are fun (albeit in a self-absorbed sort of way). None of their characters are really explored, though, as this is mainly about the divorced couple & the thing that tore them apart and the movie did well to convey their feelings to the audience.

The remaining characters, the ex-wife’s new husband and the new friends they’ve made, are the ones we’re not sure if we can trust. Are they crazy? Or is Logan Marshall-Green losing it? Or maybe some of the mutual friends can’t be trusted?

This is the sort of psychological mystery thriller that I enjoy & I’d recommend it to those who aren’t necessarily horror fans as this is certainly more thriller than horror. I have to say that the pacing was a little slow and, besides Marshall-Green, I didn’t really care too much about anyone (but at least they weren’t all totally hateful like in Don’t Breathe). This is also another one of those movies with a Game Of Thrones actor (sexy Daario: Michiel Huisman as the new husband). I always find this a bit distracting as these people are their GoT characters to me (like “You know nothing, Jon Snow” Rose Leslie, who was in the movie Honeymoon that I really liked & reviewed last week). He was good in this, though, and not too distracting (aside from being sexy). At least Littlefinger wasn’t in this one like in the (fantastic) Sing Street… He’s in everything, dammit! Ugh. Now I’m totally off topic so I’ll shut up. I recommend this one although it’s a “one-time watch only” for me personally. I see no need to re-watch this once finding out what’s really going on but it was enjoyably tense with a decent story & good acting.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Oh! This movie had a song I really like playing over the end credits. I actually discovered this song when I did a list of My Top Ten Devil & Hell Songs. It’s folk! Can’t say I like (or, more like that I even know) much folk but I think this song is great. Here’s Devil’s Spoke by Laura Marling. (This movie doesn’t involve Satan, though. Sorry – didn’t mean to throw you off by including this! Or DOES the movie involve Satan? Hmmmmm….) 😉

Lights Out (2016) Review

Lights Out (2016)

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Based on Lights Out by David F. Sandberg

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Billy Burke, Maria Bello, Lotta Losten

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie.

My Opinion:

So, this was a great little short film on YouTube (link HERE). Watch it! It’s only a few minutes long. I was really surprised when I found out that this short film would be made into a long film (well, not really – it’s only 1 hour & 21 minutes!). I was expecting this to possibly be awful but then it got very positive reviews so I got excited since it’s difficult to find any decent horror movies these days. This film is okay. Not great, not awful, just average. I think people are just shocked when a horror film doesn’t 100% suck so they go a little overboard on praise. But it has some creepy moments & does show promise. Overall, it feels slightly more original than a lot of films in this genre nowadays.

I think the biggest problem with this longer film is that there’s now too much of an explanation of the “figure in the dark”. Why do so many horror films feel the need to spell everything out for us? I like a bit of a mystery! I’m more scared of the unknown & the unseen (or the barely glimpsed). Glimpsed is a very weird word, isn’t it? Say it ten times! Sounds bizarre. The mysterious “figure in the dark” in Lights Out is terrifying. THAT scares the shit out of me. Even now I’m not a fan of the dark & usually have a small light on somewhere when I go to bed. How many of us have been scared by strange human-shaped shadows in the dark?

So, for those of you who like a full backstory & explanation, I promise that you do get one. It’s not a bad story & I liked it fine but personally prefer the mystery of the short film. Everyone puts in a decent performance & I especially liked the characters of Teresa Palmer’s little brother & her hot metalhead boyfriend who is a total sweetheart. They all do some idiotic things, like the majority of horror movie characters, but I’ll forgive that this time since it’s a mega short film & goes straight into the action yet still manages an okay amount of character development considering its short running time. I found it kind of hilarious that Teresa Palmer was a metalhead chick because she had to grow up with a crazy mother who talked to strange figures in the dark. Because having a bad childhood naturally makes you listen to heavy metal! I must have had a bad childhood. Teresa Palmer looked really hot as a metalhead, though – I think the metal chick eyeliner suits her.

Oh, I hate being old. I didn’t read anything about this movie beforehand so, when it started, I thought Teresa Palmer & Maria Bello were going to be sisters instead of mother & daughter. Ugh. I suppose that makes sense since there’s a 19 year age difference (Yes, I looked up their ages). Both are older than I thought & I think Palmer is meant to be playing an early twentysomething when she’s actually 30 in real life. But, still – it’s depressing when you realize you’re at the age where you’re meant to be identifying with the parents or, even worse, the grandparents in movies. Not that I identify with the mother in THIS one – she’s completely bonkers! HA! Hahaha! HAHAHAHAHA!!!! I’m actually a hot twentysomething metal chick in my mind, at least. 😉

Lights Out isn’t perfect but it has some effective scary moments with creative use of lighting & sound. There were a few times in the cinema where the noises made by the dark figure sounded like they were coming from directly next to me so that was a bit unsettling (I know nothing about this sort of thing – maybe I was just in a good position in the theater). I also went to this alone and no one sat near me, which helps add to a movie’s creepiness. We end up knowing & seeing a bit too much to remain fully unsettled but, overall, this is a fairly good supernatural horror (my favorite type) and better than a lot of the current crap in this genre. But with films such as It Follows & especially the brilliant The Babadook finally proving that supernatural horror movies can be really damn good, other films in this genre are going to have to raise their game more than this one manages in order to keep me from being a little disappointed.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Just want to make a quick mention of Gene Wilder passing away yesterday. 2016 has been an awful year for celebrity deaths. The film & music industry have lost so many hugely talented people this year. R.I.P. Gene Wilder. Pure Imagination will always be my favorite moment of his…

Swallows And Amazons (2016) Review

Swallows And Amazons (2016)

Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe

Based on Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Starring: Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott, Kelly Macdonald, Jessica Hynes, Harry Enfield, Dane Hughes, Orla Hill, Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen, Bobby McCulloch, Seren Hawkes, Hannah Jayne Thorp

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film chronicles the story of the Walker children on their adventures in the Lake District with the goal of claiming a remote island for themselves. Heading over there on the boat “Swallow”, they soon discover they’re not alone. A gang of rebellious children, the Blacketts also known as the “Amazons”, have set up camp there and a battle for the island begins. But with Britain on the brink of war and a “secret agent” looking for the Blackett children’s uncle, real battles aren’t far away and their childhood paradise is turned upside-down.

My Opinion:

This movie is based on the classic book by Arthur Ransome. Okay, I admit it – I’ve never heard of this book. I’m sorry. Maybe it wasn’t famous outside the UK when I was growing up?? Well, we saw the trailer for this before Pete’s Dragon and my kid really liked the look of it. She actually didn’t like Pete’s Dragon at all (I did!) but she seemed genuinely excited about going to see this one after watching the trailer so we went the next week. Success! She really liked this one. Think the hubby quite liked it too. What a relief after they both pretty much hated Pete’s Dragon (I didn’t!). Swallows And Amazons is a great “family” movie & a nice break from the endless stream of animated kids’ films that come out every month.

My kid is seven & a good age for this one – I’d probably recommend it for ages seven & up. Ha! 7 Up… I only drink that if I have a stomach ache. Does anyone here drink it for pleasure? Seriously – I’m curious! And I’m trying to get out of doing a review. I’m finding movie reviews a chore at the moment.

There’s nothing inappropriate in this so you’re safe to watch it with the whole family. I just think that it may not hold the attention of those under seven & the really young wouldn’t follow the story (but it’s not aimed at that age group anyway). It’s set in the lovely Lake District area of the U.K. in 1935, which appealed to me as I think it’s good for kids to see how different life was in the old days. There’s no way that today’s kids could sail across a lake, set up camp, and fend for themselves alone on an island for a few days! Well, okay, I couldn’t do that either…

I read somewhere that, as this was a series of books like Harry Potter, they’re wanting to set up a series of films in the same way. Well, there’s no way they’d be as big as Harry Potter as the stories are obviously going to be far more simple but it’s a shame that I can’t see any more being made anyway. Maybe! I’d like to see more but it feels like this movie really wasn’t promoted at all & the showing we went to wasn’t very busy.

It feels like kids might not have the patience for a series of films set in the 1930s but that’s probably not fair to say as my own kid liked it far more than I was expecting. With the kids in this film being a range of ages with different personalities, I think those watching this will find at least one character they can relate to. The story of a group of kids trying to claim a deserted island as their own while also dealing with an angry & mysterious man who claims to be pirate should have fairly wide appeal, even to today’s youth. The movie isn’t perfect & I don’t think we get to know the kids as well as we could (especially the “Amazons”) but this would be remedied if they made more films. Which I doubt they will. But, hey – hopefully there’ll be a renewed interest in the series of books now.

My Rating: 6.5/10

*I did this movie as a double feature with Lights Out (which I went to alone afterwards without the kid, obviously!). How do you like that combo?? I’ll review that one next week. Have a nice weekend, everyone! 🙂

The Book Thief & Paper Towns Movie Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two movie adaptations of two books that I read recently. Since I read the books, I figured I better finally watch the films. I never really enjoy a movie much after reading the book and, in the case of one of these, I pretty much hated the book so I wasn’t hoping for much from the movie. Here we go!

Paper Towns (2015)

Directed by Jake Schreier

Based on Paper Towns by John Green

Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Jaz Sinclair

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After an all night adventure, Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.

My Opinion:

I did a very short review of the Paper Towns book HERE (I rated it 2.5/5). Full of hateful characters, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. The main boy (played by Nat Wolff in the movie) was okay but a bit bland. The girl he loves (Margo, played by Cara Delevingne) & his best friend (who is a sexist little shit & calls all girls “honey bunnies”) are annoying as hell. Seriously, Margo isn’t interesting & mysterious – she’s a bitch. But I liked the story, which involves Margo’s friends trying to track her down through a series of bizarre clues she’s left behind.

Once I’ve read a book, I always try to watch the movie adaptation but it’s never that exciting to me since I already know the story & get a bit bored. This one is a pretty straightforward & faithful adaptation. If you like the book, you should like the movie. I think this is a rare occasion where the film is better & I’d say it’s mainly down to them making Margo seem a little more human & less hateful. I also thought Nat Wolff did a good job as Quentin & made the character less dull than in the book. If you’re interested in the story, I’d actually recommend watching the movie & skipping the book as the book doesn’t really flesh out the characters any more than the film does and the movie doesn’t leave out anything important (from what I can remember).

Even though I’m WAY past “Young Adult” age, I still really enjoy reading/watching YA stuff as I can still relate to most of it. Trust me – when you get old like me, it’s very likely that it’ll still feel like you only just finished high school yesterday. It’s a traumatic time in life & I remember more from that time than I do from when I was a twentysomething. However, Paper Towns was one I couldn’t relate to at all. Maybe I’m finally out of touch? Or maybe John Green just doesn’t quite capture what teens are really like? The characters didn’t feel real to me, unlike the ones in things like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic film & book!). But that one was set in my own era of high school with an awesome soundtrack while Paper Towns is set now & the characters refer to things from their own youth that mean nothing to me (like singing what I assume is the Pokémon TV show theme tune). No, I think the characters are weak and are the real reason I can’t connect with Paper Towns. At least the movie improves on the book slightly so I can’t give it a low rating as it’s a good adaptation and I think plenty of teens/twentysomethings probably really like it. But I’d recommend other YA stuff to people my own age before I’d recommend this one.

My Rating: 6/10

The Book Thief (2013)

Directed by Brian Percival

Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Heike Makatsch, Barbara Auer, Roger Allam

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home.

My Opinion:

I reviewed The Book Thief novel HERE (along with all 14 books I read last year – I ranked this one my 8th favorite out of 14 & rated it 3.5/5). Unlike Paper Towns, this book had strong characters & I really cared what would happen to them. The book was actually let down slightly by its unnecessary gimmick (it’s narrated by Death aka The Grim Reaper) and did feel overlong. I really liked the book but didn’t love it like I was hoping, despite loving the characters. Still, I’m glad it got the characters right as that’s really important to me.


In this case, I’d definitely recommend reading the book before watching the film. It’s a good adaptation with fine performances but they’ve had to leave things out (as to be expected with a long book). The characters are just so richly developed in the book, which rarely gets captured as well in a film. They did come close, however – both Sophie Nélisse (Liesel – the main character) & Geoffrey Rush (Hans, her foster father) are fantastic & exactly as I pictured. Emily Watson (Rosa, her foster mother) & Nico Liersch (Rudy, her best friend) are also very good but have far less time spent on them than in the book. Rosa is a complex character so it will have been hard to capture this but I was most upset with how little we got to know Rudy in the film as I absolutely loved him & his beautiful friendship with Liesel in the book. Ben Schnetzer (as Max, the Jewish refugee they’re hiding) was also very good & as I had pictured but, again, he sadly doesn’t get enough time devoted to him in the film.

Luckily, the movie leaves out quite a lot of the Grim Reaper’s narrative. It’s done well & not distracting, whereas it kind of threw me out of the story every time they came back to it in the book. But don’t let that criticism talk you out of reading the book as I’d definitely recommend it if the story interests you. I’m not sure how to rate this movie… I thought it was quite good but, knowing the novel is better, I couldn’t help but be just a little let down despite great performances & some perfect casting. If you’re someone who really doesn’t like to read, then by all means watch the movie instead & probably add an extra point to my below rating. It’s a good film & they’ve done the best they possibly could with a somewhat difficult novel to adapt but, ultimately, the film doesn’t deliver the same emotional punch as you don’t get to know some of the characters as well as you do in the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Okay, I admit to knowing the Pokémon song very well now since my kid has become addicted to the show….

And here are some of the best Pokémon we’ve caught (I love annoying people with this!) 😉

Red Dawn (2012), People Like Us & We’re The Millers Movie Reviews

Here’s another trio of super short reviews of movies that I watched two years ago & barely remember now! What’s the point, you ask? Well, it’s annoying me that they’re still sitting HERE on my list of Movies Watched In 2014 without reviews attached to them. So, let’s get this over with. One paragraph each! Don’t expect any in-depth analysis. Not that you ever get that from this blog anyway… 😉

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Red Dawn (2012)

Directed by Dan Bradley

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.

My Opinion:

Wow. It’s bad enough that so many pointless remakes keep getting made but it’s especially frustrating when they’re complete & utter shit like this Red Dawn remake. Don’t worry – I’m not going to be all “They shouldn’t have touched Red Dawn because the original is a classic!” since that was never an absolute favorite of mine & I’m not all precious about it like I am with a lot of other 80’s movies. But why take a mediocre movie & remake it into something 1,000 times worse?? Oh well! I only watched this because sexy Chris Hemsworth is in it (with his short hair – I prefer him that way). I don’t remember now who lives & who dies but I do remember completely losing interest and not giving a shit about any of the characters. I also remember that I watched this just after getting Netflix & they seemed to have a horrible selection back then (it’s much better now) so I wasted too much time on shit like this & that stupid ATM movie. Speaking of which, that weird little Josh Peck was in that one as well. He had a really bad year for movies between Red Dawn & ATM! Screw Red Dawn. Screw ATM. You know what Josh Peck movie was actually pretty good? Mean Creek. Just watch that instead. Don’t watch this. Not even for short hair Chris Hemsworth. He looks the same in The Cabin In The Woods & that’s much better. Do a double feature of Mean Creek & The Cabin In The Woods! Don’t watch Red Dawn.

My Rating: 3.5/10

People Like Us (2012)

Directed by Alex Kurtzman

Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michael Hall D’Addario, Michelle Pfeiffer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While settling his recently deceased father’s estate, a salesman discovers he has a sister whom he never knew about, leading both siblings to re-examine their perceptions about family and life choices.

My Opinion:

This was a decent movie – I’m not sure why I never reviewed it. Movies about family relationships don’t always appeal to me but this one, where Chris Pine finds out that he has a half-sister & nephew he never knew about, worked pretty well. I can’t stand Chris Pine but really like Elizabeth Banks plus the boy who played her son (Michael Hall D’Addario) was good so that helped. Oh! And Michelle Pfeiffer was in this too as Pine’s mother – love her. It was partly based on the life of the director, who first met his half-sister at the age of 30, so it probably also helped that the script was based on personal experience. I also liked this little bit of trivia HERE about the music memorabilia of Pine’s musician father in the film belonging to the record producer father of one of the script’s writers:

Much of the music business memorabilia in the “Jerry’s Study” set belongs to Jody Lambert’s father Dennis Lambert, a Songwriter’s Hall of Fame nominee whose hits as writer and/or producer include “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)”, “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Baby Come Back” and “Nightshift”.

Anyway, People Like Us isn’t going to change the world but it’s the type of movie that’s perfect to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Good performances from those involved & I liked the story.

My Rating: 6.5/10

We’re The Millers (2013)

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Quinn, Ed Helms

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.

My Opinion:

This movie is really not my type of thing and I don’t know why I watched it. I think I just wanted a simple movie on while I did stuff around the house plus I think I still kind of live in the hope that a modern comedy may actually turn out to be funny. Nope! This is yet another stupid modern “comedy” that failed to make me even crack a smile. Maybe I’m just old & bitter since I’ve liked hardly any comedy films since 1992? Comedy isn’t my favorite genre but I think the fact that so few movies are ever actually funny anymore is to blame for me going off the genre in recent years. Wait! I may have cracked a tiny smile when Will Poulter’s balls were bitten by a spider & they swelled up to an unnatural size while the movie showed us his whole package in gory detail. That was brave of Poulter as I’m sure a lot of people think “spider balls!” anytime they seen him in anything now. Although, I’m pretty sure we were seeing stunt balls. How does one get a job as a stunt penis? Anyway, maybe this movie wasn’t crude enough for me if that’s the only memorable part for me. I mean, I do like the Jackass movies & Bad Grandpa so, what the hell, I can’t figure out my taste in comedy. But I thought We’re The Millers was shit. Except for spider balls being mildly funny…

My Rating: 4/10

A Separation (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review & The Films I’ve Watched So Far (Ranked!)

*This is a very short review so I’ve decided to also rank all 42 films I’ve watched so far for my Top 250 Project. Woohoo! 😉

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A Separation (2011) (Persian: جدایی نادر از سیمین‎ Jodaí-e Nadér az Simín, “The Separation of Nader and Simin”)

Directed by Asghar Farhadi

Starring: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Merila Zarei

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Separation is a 2011 Iranian drama that focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class care giver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

My Very Quickie Opinion:

I watched this movie on August 9th, 2014. Whoops! Is it really taking me almost two years to get around to reviewing some of these Top 250 films?? Yikes. 

This is truly going to be a quickie “review” as I don’t remember this film very well (I had to read the full plot synopsis online just now to refresh my memory). This is a very good film, so I can see why it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. It’s a drama with great performances from all involved but it just isn’t my type of thing. I rarely like realistic dramas. I watch movies for escapism, which is probably why a lot of my favorites are sci-fi or fantasy.

I remember thinking the two main actors (the separating husband & wife) were especially good & I felt for their situation, particularly the husband struggling with taking care of his father who has Alzheimer’s. I won’t give away the plot but something happens with the woman who is hired to take care of the husband’s father and that’s just one of several stories woven together. It’s good in that most people watching this will relate to at least one of the stories/characters: whether it’s dealing with an aging parent, marital problems, religious beliefs & customs, etc. I didn’t relate to it any more or any less than I do to American films dealing with the same sort of issues. The themes are universal so it’s certainly worth a watch if this genre is your sort of thing – don’t let it being a foreign language film or my “meh” review put you off. It’s a good, Oscar-worthy film. But it’s just not my favorite genre. Once again, my ratings are based more on personal enjoyment than “worthiness” – I’d rate this one more highly if I rated only on worthiness.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Well, watching A Separation got another Top 250 film crossed off my list & I did say at the start that some might not get lengthy reviews from me. I started this project (details HERE) on 01/01/2013 & my goal is to watch all the IMDB Top 250 movies that I hadn’t yet seen at that point (I’d already seen 100 – those 100 are the ones I’ve let guests review). So I’m very slowly working my way through the rest of that 2013 list. I’ve watched 42 of the remaining 150.

As this review was so short, I thought I’d rank the 42 films I’ve watched so far. Because I’m sad like that. 😉 It’s quite obvious that the ones I’ve loved the most are the Studio Ghibli & the Charlie Chaplin films. I’d already watched a couple of Ghibli films when I started this but I do have this project to thank for introducing me to Chaplin. 🙂

I did keep some Top 250 favorites of mine to be reviewed by me someday instead of guests – things like The Shawshank Redemption & WALL-E (which I did review) and the Star Wars original trilogy & The Princess Bride. This list is only ranking the films I’ve watched since starting this project, not the 100 I’d already seen in the past. Most of my all-time favorite films are in the Top 250 – I just struggle to write about the ones I really love so I haven’t reviewed many of those. How could a review of mine ever express just how awesome Aliens or The Princess Bride are?! 🙂

So here are My IMDB Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite): (and I rated them all, too! I need a life…)

42-31:

42. Mary And Max – watched 7/6/13 – Rating: 4/10

41. Slumdog Millionaire – watched 28/4/13 – Rating: 5/10

40. Life Of Pi – watched 15/1/13 – Rating: 6.5/10

39. Warrior – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6/10

38. A Separation – watched 9/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

37. On The Waterfront – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

36. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – watched 24/3/13 – Rating: 7/10

35. Paths Of Glory – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6.5/10

34. Raging Bull – watched 29/9/13 – Rating: 7/10

33. Unforgiven – watched 17/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

32. Dog Day Afternoon – watched 18/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

31. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – watched 26/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

Top Thirty:

30. Anatomy Of A Murder – watched 2/8/15 – Rating: 7/10

29. Witness For The Prosecution – watched 12/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

28. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

27. A Fistful Of Dollars – watched 28/4/16 – Rating: 7/10

26. Sleuth – watched 5/2/13 – Rating: 7/10

25. City Of God – watched 18/1/14 – Rating: 8/10

24. Bicycle Thieves – watched 5/6/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

23. Rashômon – watched 16/8/14 – Rating: 7/10

22. Shadow Of A Doubt – watched 5/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

21. Notorious – watched 6/5/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

Top Twenty:

20. Sunset Boulevard – watched 7/11/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

19. For A Few Dollars More – watched 14/5/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

18. Rope – watched 4/1/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

17. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) – watched 14/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

16. Ikiru – watched 1/1/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

15. Nosferatu (1922) – watched 14/7/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

14. M – watched 26/9/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

13. Once Upon A Time In The West – watched 02/07/13 – Rating: 8/10

12. Full Metal Jacket – watched 11/5/14 – Rating: 8/10

11. The Secret In Their Eyes – watched 23/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

Top Ten:

10. The Kid – watched 19/2/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

9. Grave Of The Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) – watched 1/1/15 – Rating: 8/10

8. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – watched 16/2/16 – Rating: 8/10

7. The Great Escape – watched 28/10/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

6. The Bridge On The River Kwai – watched 23/6/13 – Rating: 9/10

5. Laputa: Castle In The Sky – watched 7/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

4. Princess Mononoke – watched 25/1/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

3. Modern Times – watched 1/1/13 – Rating: 9/10

2. City Lights – watched 15/2/13 – Rating: 9/10

1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) – watched 2/11/14 – Rating: 9/10

I highly recommend my Top Ten. No… I highly recommend 38 of these! There are so many true classics here. The bottom four don’t deserve a place in the Top 250 (but I only hated the bottom two – 39 & 40 are decent enough movies). I have to say that the top three are extra special to me & instantly became all-time favorites of mine. It’s sometimes a struggle to “force” myself to watch classic films such as these but I’m rarely disappointed when I do finally make the time for them. 🙂

Bad Neighbours 2 (2016) Review 

Bad Neighbours 2 (2016) (aka US Title: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising)

Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloë Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After a sorority moves in next door, which is even more debaucherous than the fraternity before it, Mac and Kelly have to ask for help from their former enemy, Teddy.

My Opinion:

There’s seriously no need for me to blather on & on for this review – If you liked the first film, you’ll like this one. It’s the exact same movie again but with a sorority instead of a fraternity. It’s not perfect and the first one is of course better, as is the case 90% of the time with all these comedy sequels, but you don’t exactly go to movies like these expecting Sunset Boulevard or something anyway (yeah, I reviewed that yesterday – I’m diverse!). 😉 There are worse ways to spend 90 minutes but you don’t have to rush out to the cinema to see this one unless you really love comedies like these (I went on the cheap day!). I actually quite enjoyed the first movie, as far as modern comedies go, but I haven’t found anything truly funny since The Princess Bride. And Wayne’s World! (Ha! Showing my age). You can find my review of the first movie HERE if you desperately want to read it.

Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne are exactly the same as they were in the first one. There were some decent jokes & they once again had some funny sex scenes (like the opening scene – the movie started out quite promising but lost its way). Well, there was one difference: I think they were possibly even worse parents this time than in the first film! That poor kid. You should enjoy this fine if you’re the age of the sorority girls but us old parents get a little stressed out if we think a kid in a film isn’t being looked after. I’m still freaked out that they left her alone in the house in the first one (they had a baby monitor with) & that the air bag stunt could’ve killed her! But, let’s move on – this is a fictional comedy not meant to be taken seriously… (But, really, you shouldn’t smoke weed around your kids! WTF). Okay. I’m done. Moving on.

I like Chloë Grace Moretz and liked her fine in this but don’t really think that dumb comedies suit her – she should stick to stuff like Kick-Ass & Let Me In. Zac Efron is a bit better in this type of thing. He doesn’t do it for me (gross! he’s a kid!) but girls who like him will be happy to know he’s shirtless & in tiny shorts for lots of this movie.

I don’t really know what to say here. It’s honestly the same movie again. In any other genre, I’d probably complain about that. But, meh – it’s a dumb comedy. Who cares? As long as you get a few chuckles out of it (I did). I did like that this movie has three normal (and slightly nerdy) girls who become friends & decide to start their own “fun” sorority (as opposed to air-headed dress-like-sluts sorority). They decide to do this after leaving a frat party they call too “rapey” & they don’t want anyone calling them a ho. (What’s the plural of a ho?! Hos doesn’t look right but Hoes are garden tools. Hmm. It has to be Hoes, though). Anyway – RIGHT ON with all that! I don’t understand all that college bullshit. It’s just a shame that three girls I’d almost want to hang out with myself at first turn into over-the-top nightmare neighbors for the sake of the movie’s unoriginal plot. They’re probably even worse than the boys in the first film. Oh well. I liked this movie okay & it had its funny moments but it’s unlikely that I’d watch either of them again. Now I must go & call social services on the parents….

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Oh! And I just realized that I can add a scene from Bad Neighbours 2 as an honorable mention in my recent list of My Top Ten Period Scenes In Movies! What is it with Chloë Grace Moretz & period scenes?? She’s Period Proud! 🙂

Marie Antoinette (2006) Review

It’s Day 3 of Coppola Week & I’ll be reviewing Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. I reviewed her film The Bling Ring on Monday and her father’s 80’s classic The Outsiders yesterday. Tomorrow will, as usual, be a Top Ten List (My Top Ten Coppola Movies, of course) and I’ll finish on Friday with a review of a 1974 film from Francis Ford Coppola. Now let’s talk about the lovely Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Directed by Sofia Coppola

Based on Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis, Rip Torn, Rose Byrne, Asia Argento

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The retelling of France’s iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen and ultimately the fall of Versailles.

My Opinion:

It feels like I’d been wanting to see this movie for years. But as fellow movie bloggers will understand, I have a huge “To Watch” list & this one just kept getting put aside. I finally got up off my ass & watched it in preparation for a week of Coppola reviews when I realized that I’d already watched a few Coppola movies by coincidence. Well, damn… I think that I hyped it up too much in my mind while it sat on my To Watch list all these years. For the most part, I’m afraid to say that I found Marie Antoinette a bit boring.

There were three reasons why I really wanted to see this: 1) I think Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation & The Virgin Suicides are quite beautiful & brilliant and this appeared to have a similar look & feel. 2) It looked visually appealing from pictures I’d seen. 3) Coppola often chooses great music, such as the amazing Air score for The Virgin Suicides, so I was eager to hear what was on the soundtrack for this. 

Well, I can confirm that this was indeed visually appealing and I really liked that about it. The costumes, the castle, all that CAKE! So I have no complaints there. I also liked Kirsten Dunst just fine – she’s not a favorite of mine but I’ve always liked her okay (although I assume she’s nothing like the real Marie Antoinette! Her Virgin Suicides role was more fitting). Sofia Coppola really has a thing for the female butt, though, doesn’t she? Didn’t Lost In Translation start with a shot of Scarlett Johansson’s butt? Well, you see Dunst naked from behind as she’s dressed to meet her future husband then you see plenty of her throughout the film as everyone gathers around to dress her every morning. Is that what they did with royalty in the old days? No thank you! I like my privacy.

As for the soundtrack, Coppola once again chose some great music. I’ll never complain about hearing The Cure or New Order! But, for some reason, I guess I thought we’d hear much more of the music. It’s mostly prominent in a couple of montages but, scattered throughout, I didn’t notice it all that much. It’s a small complaint – I think I was expecting loads of modern(ish) songs set in a time period from the past but, hey, this isn’t some Baz Luhrmann film. I prefer Coppola’s films to his anyway so I suppose I prefer the way she used the music. This would certainly be a good soundtrack to own.

I’ll admit that my knowledge of history is crap so I won’t pretend to know a thing about Marie Antoinette (or about any history – it’s not a subject that has ever interested me for some reason). I have zero clue how accurate this movie is meant to be. I mean, I’m pretty sure Marie Antoinette wasn’t a cute blonde American girl and that everyone in France spoke English, right?! I take it that this film is just meant to be a bit of fun and that Sofia really just wanted an excuse to play with pretty dresses, powdered wigs, and cake.

I found it interesting if the basic storyline is accurate, though. I did read a (tiny) bit about Marie Antoinette after watching the movie & the broad, overall story does sound correct. I was expecting a dumb & slightly annoying character as that’s how the real Marie Antoinette is portrayed somewhat with the “Let them eat cake” quote but that’s not at all how she’s portrayed in this film. She’s young & a bit naive but mostly is a “little girl lost” just doing as she’s told in her arranged marriage. In the film, she’s also unfairly hated by the general public and used as a sort of symbol for their negative feelings toward the monarchy. From the little I read of the real woman, this was true. I was also surprised to read that there is no evidence that she ever actually said “Let them eat cake” and that it’s very unlikely that she did. Talk about unfair!

Hey, maybe I’ll actually try to find some Marie Antoinette documentary to watch now. If you’re looking for that sort of thing, though, you probably wouldn’t watch Coppola’s film. I didn’t watch it for a history lesson – I watched it for the imagery & the soundtrack and I think that’s the whole reason it was made, with the Marie Antoinette story just happening to be the film’s backdrop. With that in mind, it was an enjoyable enough film & Coppola once again did a great job with the look & sound but it didn’t stop it from ultimately being a bit boring and feeling far longer than its actual runtime of just over two hours. I’m glad I saw Marie Antoinette and I liked it okay. I was just a little disappointed as I wanted to love it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

CAKE!!!!!!!!

This is a good montage to watch if you want to get a feel for this movie. It features Bow Wow Wow’s I Want Candy:

And I have to include the New Order song, Ceremony, which is used in the film. Because I LOVE it:

Shivers (1975) & Rabid (1977) Movie Reviews

I was originally going to have this week on the blog be “Body Horror Week” but I only had time to watch these two David Cronenberg films that I’d not seen before. They’re not awful but also definitely not his best.

Let’s have a look at these two films, which I thought sounded like they’d be really similar but ended up being very different. One is quite boring for a Cronenberg while the other is absolutely bonkers…

WARNING: NSFW IMAGES IN THIS POST

Shivers (1975) (filmed as Orgy of the Blood Parasites – Alternate titles: The Parasite Murders & They Came from Within)

Directed & Written by David Cronenberg

Starring: Fred Doederlin, Paul Hampton, Lynn Lowry, Barbara Steele, Joe Silver

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The residents of a suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact.

My Opinion:

I thought that, of these two films, the one starring porn star Marilyn Chambers would be the far more sexual & absolutely bonkers one. Boy was I wrong! Shivers (filmed as Orgy of the Blood Parasites, which is an awesome titleis pretty mental even for a Cronenberg and far more violent than Rabid. I also upped its rating after then seeing Rabid as Shivers is the better and more “entertaining” film. Well, I find most of Cronenberg’s stuff “entertaining”, I guess (in a fucked up kind of way).

I suppose this one was more my type of thing as I do like a good “slimy parasite that invades your body” film (think Slither & Night Of The Creeps if everyone had wanted to have sex with each other in those movies). It starts out sooooo slow in the way that only Seventies movies can get away with then we suddenly have this guy sawing into this naked girl’s stomach after ripping off her school uniform. It was pretty gross (and I wasn’t happy at the uniform thing – she looked very young. I believe they later said she was in college or something). Then… Nothing really happens again for ages in that old Seventies movie kind of way. There’s lots of talking and I believe they were explaining the parasite thing but I was losing interest when, finally, we see one of the damn things! Then it all goes completely nuts.


(It doesn’t end well for the woman straddling the plug hole in that tub…)

After the parasite enters the body, the “host” becomes incredibly horny (in order to pass the parasite onto others through, um, various orifices I guess). So it gives an excuse to show some of this:


(I love her 70’s shoes! No, really – I have some ugly 70’s-style shoes & they’re my very favorite pair!)

And, yay, we also get some of this! Equal rights!:

This one gets quite bloody & violent. I’m not going to analyze this movie – we all know that Cronenberg loves his sexual imagery and I’m not sure what this movie is saying other than that we’re all a bunch of horny bastards & that can get us into trouble. I suppose what was surprising about this film was how blatant it all was as opposed to Cronenberg’s later work where he was more, for want of a better word, “subtle” (yeah, not really the right word to use when talking about his films). I prefer the artistic weirdness of something like Videodrome but this one is worth checking out if you’re a Cronenberg fan. Or if you’re just a fan of a full-on, in-your-face, bloody, sexually suggestive horror film. Oh, and I quite liked one of the main actresses in this (Lynn Lowry). I thought she was really pretty & had a great, unique look. So I’ll end with a picture of her for the guys.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Now onto Rabid….

Rabid (1975)

Directed & Written by David Cronenberg

Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, Ronald Mlodzik

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young woman develops a taste for human blood after undergoing experimental plastic surgery, and her victims turn into rabid, blood-thirsty zombies who proceed to infect others, which turns into a city-wide epidemic.

My Opinion:

This one sounded quite exciting from that plot synopsis. Yay! It’s basically a zombie movie! But it was a little boring considering it’s a Cronenberg movie with a porn star in it.

It starts with porn star Marilyn Chambers getting into a motorcycle accident and being trapped under the burning motorcycle. She’s rushed to the hospital and given “experimental plastic surgery”. Unlike in Shivers, there’s not much talk of what’s going on. There’s the “experimental surgery” and that’s that – no further explanation is really given. People are only watching this to see Marilyn Chambers get naked, right?? Well, there’s a bit of toplessness if you really need to know that. And I have to say that the experimental plastic surgery is awesome as Chambers looks totally perfect and doesn’t have a scratch on her after the accident.

I’ll get straight to what happens as the movie rushes along quite quickly as well. After the surgery, Chambers develops a thirst for human blood. She drains the blood from her victims through a vaginal opening that has developed in her armpit:

Out of the vaginal opening comes a phallic thingymabob – that’s what drains the victims’ blood:

Yep – how very Cronenberg-y! Now it’s feeling much more like the later Cronenberg films than Shivers did. There’s really nothing more to this one, though. People get infected, people get killed, and it’s all much more tame & much less violent than you’d expect from this director. The movie feels “rushed” in a way – it gets to the action much more quickly than Shivers did but then very little happens. At least, nothing too weird or unexpected (after that whole vagina in the armpit thing, which also isn’t exactly weird or unexpected unless you’re watching this as a Cronenberg virgin). What can I say? There’s not a lot to Rabid. I was hoping for something more but it’s still better than most of the other films I’ve watched for my October Horror Month so far.

My Rating: 6/10

Tales From The Crypt – Forever Ambergris (1993) Review

**I’ve done this review as part of the Tales From The Crypt blogathon over at Channel: Superhero. Every day this month, someone will be reviewing a different episode of Tales From The Crypt so head on over there & check out all the participating entries! 🙂

My contribution below is a review of the episode Forever Ambergris, starring Roger Daltrey & Steve Buscemi.

Tales From The Crypt – Forever Ambergris (1993 – Season 5, Episode 3)

Directed by Gary Fleder

Starring: Roger Daltrey, Steve Buscemi, Paul Dooley, Marshall Bell, Lysette Anthony, John Kassir, Tim Ahern, Titus Welliver, Luis Antonio Ramos, Kevin Benton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A jaded, has-been photographer plots the demise of his younger, talented protégé when they go on assignment in Central America.


No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man

My Opinion:

For some reason, I never saw many episodes of Tales From The Crypt although the stories are the type of thing that I like. They tended to have some sort of twist, right? Growing up, one of my first favorite TV shows was The Twilight Zone (it remains my very favorite now) so it seems like I should really try to check out more Tales From The Crypt episodes. I’d probably like the stories even though the “horror” side of things isn’t really for me so much. I’m really looking forward to reading all the other entries in Channel: Superhero’s blogathon this month! 🙂

So what did I, a bit of a wuss when it comes to gore, end up choosing as my episode to review? A thoroughly disgusting one that would give David Cronenberg’s body horror films a run for their money! Damn. And I only chose it because it starred Roger Daltrey & Steve Buscemi, which I thought was pretty damn cool.

As we’re meant to discuss the episode in its entirety as well as the tale’s “twist”, I’ll be doing that now & I’ll also be including the most gruesome images I could find. So, SPOILER & NASTY IMAGE WARNING! Here we go. 🙂


Steve Buscemi is a Happy Jack at first…

In this tale, Dalton (Roger Daltrey) & Ike aka Isaac (Steve Buscemi) are war photographers. Dalton was once the best but he’s lost his touch and the younger & more talented Ike looks set to achieve big success while Dalton becomes a has-been. It was funny that Buscemi was this “young guy” compared to Daltrey (but this was back in my generation of 1993 so I guess he was a lot younger then). Anyway, I love Buscemi and you can’t help but like his friendly & enthusiastic Ike.


The kids are alright

Ike is a big fan of Dalton’s work and invites him over one night to have dinner & meet his girlfriend Bobbi (Lysette Anthony). Dalton is immediately smitten with the gorgeous blonde Bobbi (especially after later that night when he peaks through the bedroom door to watch her having sex with Ike. With her fully naked & on top, of course. Sorry, guys – I couldn’t find an image of that). 😉


“Hey, baby. They call me The Seeker.”

Naturally, the already jealous Dalton becomes more & more obsessed with Ike’s life and, when they’re sent on an assignment to war-torn Central America, he devises a plan to get his career back (and hopefully become the substitute for Ike in Bobbi’s life).


He wants her squeeze box…

While on the plane to Central America, Dalton is visited by a (ghost??) played by Marshall Bell (a total “Hey, who are you?” guy who, to me, will always be Gordie’s asshole father in Stand By Me). He tells of a village in which the population was decimated by a disease caused by some sort of germ warfare. This is when Dalton’s evil plan fully takes shape.


How do you think he does it?

He convinces Ike, as he’s his “friend”, to go to the village because he’s heard rumors of devastation that will guarantee Ike the opportunity to capture some once in a lifetime photos & to achieve the level of fame that Dalton once had. Does the trusting Ike do as Dalton says & visit the village while Dalton remains at the camp? You better you bet!

As soon as Ike gets back & joins Dalton in their tent, it soon becomes obvious that something isn’t right with Ike. First this happens:


Dizzy in the head and I’m feeling bad

Then his eye pops right the hell out:


I can see for miles

Then the evil Dalton, not content with just stealing Ike’s roll of film which Dalton will pass off as his own once Ike has taken the magic bus to heaven, decides to put his cigarette out in Ike’s eyeball:


See me, feel me

Afterwards, back in America, Dalton visits Ike’s girlfriend Bobbi to give his condolences and, of course, to hopefully win her affections as they had some pretty strong sexual chemistry when they first met. But Bobbi has other plans as she knows the photos published after that fateful trip weren’t Dalton’s as claimed.


There has to be a twist

After smoking some weed together, Bobbi and Dalton have sex, during which Bobbi reveals that what they smoked was sent to her by Ike from that contaminated village in Central America. She’s given them both the virus as she doesn’t want to live without her beloved Ike and wants to ensure that Dalton pays for Ike’s death. So as they screw, the virus causes her spine to burst and she bleeds all over Dalton as her skin melts off. Dalton freaks out & runs to the bathroom just in time to see his nose drop off into the sink. Plop! He’ll no longer play by sense of smell…


He won’t get fooled again!

Thanks for letting me join in on this blogathon! 🙂 I’m going to go watch more Tales From The Crypt now. I suppose I should give this a rating like I do with my movie reviews. I can’t really compare it to other episodes as I’ve not seen many but I did enjoy it & loved that it starred Daltrey & Buscemi, who looked so young! Definitely a little too gross for me but I do love an occasional body horror film and the special effects on Buscemi, although of course dated, really looked just as good as a lot of older movies that probably had a much higher budget. Definitely an episode that should be seen by fans of the show if they haven’t seen it already.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Oh, by the way, I wondered what the heck “ambergris” was so I looked it up at Wikipedia:

Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.

Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, faecal odour. However, as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. Although ambergris was formerly highly valued by perfumers as a fixative (allowing the scent to last much longer), it has now largely been replaced by synthetics.

Hmm. Make of that what you will from the story.

Here’s the Crypt Keeper pretending to be a photographer during the episode. His model is a bit chubby by today’s standards. Of course, her head falls off anyway.


They’re all wasted!

Horns (2013) Review

Horns (2013)

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Based on Horns by Joe Hill

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham, David Morse, Sabrina Carpenter

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Horns is an American dark fantasy horror-comedy film directed by Alexandre Aja, loosely based on Joe Hill’s novel of the same name. Daniel Radcliffe stars as a man who is accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend (Juno Temple) and uses his newly discovered paranormal abilities to uncover the real killer.

My Opinion:

Okay, so I watched this movie after reading the book because I of course wanted to see how they’d adapt such a weird story (you can read my review of the book HERE). I know that movies are rarely as good as the books but they did a pretty poor job with this adaptation. It started out pretty good, too, so it was disappointing that it fell apart.

Yes, we have Harry Potter playing Ig, a guy who grows Devil horns. And has sex! NO! Do NOT have sex, Daniel Radcliffe! That’s just really disturbing – you’re a little kid. And Juno Temple… is it just me or is that girl annoying? I suppose she wasn’t too bad in this, though, as she was kind of how I pictured Merrin. She’s famous because her dad (Julien Temple) is famous. Can we just talk about his music documentary/music video work instead? That’s far more interesting than Horns. My husband told me he likes it more when I go off on a tangent, like when I “reviewed” Primer and ended up talking about Weebles. Really?? Surely people find that annoying! Just Google Julien Temple if you don’t know him – besides things like his Sex Pistols documentaries, he directed far more music videos than I realized (videos for Judas Priest, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Depeche Mode, etc etc, and that David Bowie movie Absolute Beginners). Oh, and check out my chat with Hard Ticket To Home Video’s Brian of Billy Idol’s White Wedding video HERE (which wasn’t directed by Temple – I’m just whoring my Music Video Friday posts that only I & two other bloggers like). 😉

Right! Horns. I think the movie captured the love story between Ig & Merrin pretty well, which was good as that’s what I liked the most about the book. But it did a terrible job with all the other characters. As always, I won’t spoil the story but the two other biggest characters are probably Ig’s brother Terry & Ig’s friend Lee (who couldn’t look more different from how he’s described in the book). Their stories were changed quite a bit and they got no character development at all in the movie. I hated the changes as they didn’t really seem like the type that were necessary to save on time or whatever (I let some changes slide as I know it’s hard to squeeze a long book into a short movie). For those seeing the movie only, I think you’ve totally missed out on most of the characters’ motivations for doing the things they did.

And Heather Graham couldn’t have felt more out of place! They changed & made her role far bigger than it was in the book and I’m afraid to say that she came across as quite desperate in this & her acting was just embarrassing. It makes me sad to say that – I kind of like Heather Graham. I’m assuming she was told to act in that way, though, as Wikipedia oddly describes Horns as a horror comedy, which I don’t think is at all accurate. There are a couple small dark comedy moments but don’t watch it expecting a dark comedy – it’s a supernatural murder mystery horror. It’s a very unique & original story so I suppose that’s just Hollywood trying to give it a simple classification.

Despite my complaints, I did like this movie okay. I’m going to be picky as I liked the book but, trying to look at it as someone who hasn’t read the book would, I think it’s a decent enough film. It does try a little too hard to be “cool” but I think that’s pretty common for movies aimed at twentysomethings. Yes, like Joe Hill’s books are very much aimed at a younger generation than those older fans of his dad’s (Stephen King) work, this movie very obviously knows its specific target audience. Which is fine – I’m sure a lot of now-adults who grew up with Harry Potter love this movie. I think Daniel Radcliffe will have been chosen for this very reason & he’s much better than I was expecting – I ended up having no issues with him playing Ig (I read on IMDB that Shia LaBeouf was originally going to play Ig. Yuck – can you imagine?! That would’ve been a huge mistake!). Also, the movie’s soundtrack is pretty good. It was out of place half the time & far too obvious sometimes (such as using Personal Jesus) but I’m not going to complain at a soundtrack including David Bowie even though the song Heroes worked much better in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (plus David Bowie is currently the “artist you must include in your soundtrack to make your movie seem cool“).

Summary:

Horns is a decent enough horror movie if you’re looking for a different sort of story that you’ve not seen in a thousand other films (that’s usually my biggest complaint with horror movies such as Mama). Don’t get the wrong idea when I say it’s aimed at twentysomethings who grew up with Harry Potter – it’s a dark film & very much a “horror”. I was surprised when looking up the director’s other work (The Hills Have Eyes remake, Mirrors, Piranha 3D(!), and the ultra-violent Switchblade Romance which has been on my list to watch for the blog every October but I still haven’t because I’m a wuss). Well, Horns is less extreme than any of those. I far preferred the book, of course, but at least they got the central love story right in the movie even if they made a mess of everything else. I’d actually recommend only watching the movie with this one if you’re not much of a book person – you’ll enjoy the movie more that way. If you are a book person, definitely read the book first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Here’s a Julien Temple video! This song is stuck in my head now. Judas Priest – Breaking The Law:

Chalet Girl, Austenland & Endless Love Movie Reviews (A Chick Flick Special)

Look at me, watching chick flicks! WHAT?! Well, it happens occasionally – I am a girl, after all. 😉 I just watched Chalet Girl a week ago but the other two were at least a year ago & I never got around to reviewing them so it made sense to do three “chick flick quickies” together. Chicky Flicky Quicky??

Anyway, regulars here will know that I’m not really a chick flick type of girl. My type of chick flick usually involves women kicking ass. Give me Ellen Ripley & Furiosa over romantic bullshit! (Okay, or Drew Barrymore – I watch all of her stuff). So what did I think of these three girly movies? Let’s see!

Chalet Girl (2011)

Directed by Phil Traill

Starring: Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick, Tamsin Egerton, Ken Duken, Sophia Bush, Bill Bailey, Brooke Shields, Bill Nighy

My Opinion:

I LIKED THIS! There. I said it. Is it good? No. Is it cheesy & predictable? Oh god yes! I don’t care. Screw it. Sometimes it’s nice to just have fun with a movie and not be all judgmental & snobby. I enjoyed this one quite a bit for something that’s not normally very “me”.

I might as well start right away with saying that adorable Felicity Jones is 100% to thank for this movie working & being at all watchable. With another actress, it could have been a disaster. I know she was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for The Theory Of Everything (which I have yet to see) and that she has a lead role in the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (a Star Wars role! Lucky girl!) but this is the only film I’ve seen her in. It was a bit weird watching this knowing that she’s gone on to much bigger & better things but it’s easy to see why as she’s so damn likeable in this & has that special “thing” that only a handful of actors have (I’m so crap with words. The only other way I can think of to describe that “thing” is “the X Factor” but that makes me think of those stupid singing competitions with Simon Cowell. Puke!). Anyway, she definitely has that here and if I hadn’t liked her, I would have been bored with this movie.

As for this movie, I don’t know how to talk about it without making it sound bad. I mean, it’s not a good movie but I really liked it so don’t want to trash it. It’s very odd in that it’s a British film that couldn’t be more “American”. I moaned the other day in my review of A Long Way Down that too many British movies are bland dramedies so now I’ll be praising a British film that doesn’t feel at all British. I feel bad about that! I have to say, though, if it had actually been American, they’d probably have cast some horrible actress in the lead role so it wouldn’t have worked. So…. Um, hooray for British people! 😉

I think what worked for me, being a girl who likes strong female movie characters, was the fact that Felicity Jones’ Kim fit the bill. She’s young & she’s a bit unsure of herself after the tragic death of her mother but she’s determined to help her father to pay the bills (which is why she takes a job as a chalet girl in the Alps) and, best of all, she’s a former skateboarding champion. That’s cool! (Not that you ever see her riding a skateboard…). But, inevitably, she takes up snowboarding while in the Alps and it turns out that she has a natural talent for it thanks to her skateboarding years. Shocker, huh?! Oh, and there’s of course a big snowboarding competition coming up with a big cash prize! HUH. What are the odds of that?!?!?! lol

Shit. I’m sounding snobby. Hey, what can I say? This movie is cliché every step of the way. We have the snobby, slutty chalet girl who is pissed off at having to work with “poor girl” Kim, we have the rich boy and a forbidden romance with “poor girl” Kim as well as that boy’s rich-bitch mother who doesn’t approve and, finally, we have the tragic past and a fear that must be overcome in order for Kim to get her life back on track. But, hell – it works. There are just enough laughs and annoyingly “feel good” moments that I found it very hard to not like this movie. I didn’t like the rich boyfriend (soooo not my type but I’m sure some girls will like him). However, some really likeable lesser characters, such as the guy who teaches Kim to snowboard as well as my favorite comedian, Bill Bailey, as her father make up for some of the movie’s mistakes (such as Brooke Shields as the disapproving mother of the rich boy – her character is so damn annoying). The movie has lots of fun moments but doesn’t ever get too silly (although these young kids do know how to party & enjoy a bit of naked hot tub fun…).

Most of all, though, Felicity Jones is just seriously loveable as Kim and you’ll want to see her succeed in every clichéd way possible. Unless you have no soul.

My Rating: 7/10

Would A Manly Man Like This?: Possibly. I think it’s definitely the one that men would find the most bearable of these three.

Austenland (2013)

Directed by Jerusha Hess

Based on Austenland by Shannon Hale

Starring: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, James Callis, Jane Seymour, Georgia King

My Opinion:

This movie is weird & utterly ridiculous. Keri Russell plays a lonely American woman obsessed with Jane Austen novels. She saves up her money for “the trip of a lifetime” – a bizarre English retreat run by Jane Seymour where women dress up & partake in Jane Austen-y role play with attractive male actors. Seriously – this movie is bonkers. But, like Chalet Girl, I LIKED THIS ONE TOO!

This has to be the girliest girly movie I’ve watched in years. I should point out that I’ve never read a Jane Austen novel as they just don’t really appeal to me. So, this will have been missing that little extra element of enjoyment for me that I’m sure Austen lovers probably got out of it. I know enough, though, and have watched some period dramas (I actually love the movie Sense & Sensibility) so I was able to enjoy this just fine – I don’t think it’s totally necessary to be an Austen novel reader to like this.

I find Keri Russell to be a pretty likeable actress in what I’ve actually seen her in (she was in one of my absolute favorites of recent years, Waitress, which I plan to praise to high heaven when I do my planned Adrienne Shelly Week at some point). So, I have no complaints there. But, more importantly, my girl Jennifer Coolidge was in this! LOVE her. Yes, she’s once again playing a loveable idiot. Who cares?! It’s funny! I’ll happily watch her play that same idiotic character over & over again. In this, she plays one of the guests at the retreat and, unlike Russell, appears to not have read a Jane Austen novel in her life. She’s just horny & wants some sexy role play with the men. It’s hilarious to see her attempting an English accent and being treated to all the best things at the retreat as she’s paid for the full experience while Russell could only afford the most basic package. A lot of the laughs come from this as Jane Seymour is an evil bitch to poor girl Russell while Coolidge is completely oblivious but totally sweet in her idiocy.

There’s not a lot more that I can really say about this one. It’s the true definition of “chick flick”. I liked that it was quite quirky in its own way, though – the overall concept isn’t really one that we’ve seen in a romcom before. As for the romance, it’s of course there and it’s predictable yet not quite as predictable as some. The movie was a pleasant surprise in that it had more humor than I was expecting and an interesting setup that took some balls to make into a film as this story could have ended up a disaster onscreen (it’s apparently a book but I know nothing about the book). Yes, I said this chick flick has some balls to it! But people with balls would be unlikely to watch this one.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Would A Manly Man Like This?: Oh HELL no! lol. But it’s at least a lot more fun than an actual Jane Austen period drama.

Endless Love (2014)

Directed by Shana Feste

Based on Endless Love by Scott Spencer

Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick

My Opinion:

I love how Chalet Girl is linked to my two other movies today. A girl in a small role in Chalet Girl was also in Austenland. And… Brooke Shields was in Chalet Girl as well as the superior 1981 adaptation of the Endless Love novel. Oh dear – I just said “superior adaptation” and everyone knows that the 1981 Endless Love is complete & utter shit! Well, so is the 2014 version. But I liked it! Just not an ALL CAPS “I LIKED IT” as with the other two movies I reviewed. Just a lowercase “i liked it” with no formatting.

The two lovers in this 2014 version are so very pretty. So pretty and BORING AS FUCK. Now, I’m of the age where I should love the original Endless Love. However, I was too young for it at first & then didn’t see it until I was well into my twenties so I don’t have the nostalgia thing going on for it. Goddamn it’s bad. It’s seriously shit. But I kind of liked it. I think it’s the law for a girl my age to like the 1981 film. What that film has, at the very least, is passion. The story is a bit pathetic and Shields & whoever the hell the guy was couldn’t act for shit plus the mother of Shields lovingly watches her daughter having sex with the guy (which was beyond weird & creepy) but at least the guy in 1981 had a believable, obsessive passion. The 2014 film has none of that. What’s the point? I don’t know the book so can only compare this to the 1981 film but that film was about an obsession. Alex Pettyfer’s poor boy loving rich girl Gabriella Wilde in 2014 is all well & good but we’ve seen that story a million times. Take out the dangerous obsession & you just end up with two really pretty people who probably have really pretty but really boring sex.

Alex Pettyfer’s poor “bad boy” isn’t a “bad boy” at all. In fact, he’s a sweetheart. He’s in love but not obsessed – he’s not going to go set things on fire or some crazy shit like that. And I praised Gabriella Wilde in that pointless remake of Carrie but, man oh man, her character in this is so DULL. Talk about zero personality! It’s not necessarily her fault – it’s more likely the script. They’re both so sweet & so cute together, though, which makes for a good enough love story. You can’t exactly hate them as they’re SO FUCKING NICE. Too nice. Just…. Ugh! I don’t know. It’s just pointless to call it Endless Love when it’s a completely different film from the other one (other than a tiny bit of tension from “girl’s dad not approving of boy who isn’t good enough for his daughter”). Give me the crazy 1981 obsession, please! Their acting was worse but at least you know they probably had much better sex!

But I still liked this 2014 film in its own right for some reason I seriously can’t explain. Maybe I just like watching really pretty but really dull people making out.

My Rating: 6/10

Would A Manly Man Like This?: Unlikely. But they may find Gabriella Wilde very pretty in a safe & boring kind of way.

Now here’s that sappy piece of shit Lionel Richie & Diana Ross song from the original movie. Complete with clips full of shitty acting from the original movie! God, I really do like that shitty movie…

We Are Your Friends (2015) Review

We Are Your Friends (2015)

Directed by Max Joseph

Starring: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Jonny Weston, Wes Bentley

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Caught between a forbidden romance and the expectations of his friends, aspiring DJ Cole Carter attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.

My Opinion:

Hmm. First of all, I wouldn’t say that I’m some EDM (Electronic Dance Music) fan. Some of it is okay, such as the title song (We Are Your Friends by Justice vs Simian). I love Justice, actually – I did a post about their music HERE for my Music Video Friday thing. Anyway, I like a little bit of most every type of music other than country (puke) but rock & metal will always be my first love and this EDM drug, rave, dance, screw, get-your-tits-out scene isn’t my type of thing. Plus, I hate really attractive people. And young people. And especially young AND attractive people. And that girl from that totally rapey Blurred Lines video is in this with her huge pouty mouth (and boobs). So… I went to this with low expectations and expecting to have to watch a bunch of young, attractive twats taking drugs & screwing each other for a couple of hours. Well, that of course happens but the movie actually wasn’t too bad overall. It could have been a lot worse, anyway. Clichéd as hell! But not the worst ever movie-watching experience.

I know some female bloggers here like Zac Efron. Little kid Zac Efron. He’s just a kid. A little kid! So, no, I do NOT find him attractive. Way too young! Also, too pretty for me anyway. If I had to choose from the group of four male friends in this, I’d go with the one who wants to be an actor:

But the one named Squirrel is the one who’d actually be my boyfriend:

If I was TWENTY. So, this group of four male friends are going nowhere in life & don’t have proper jobs & spend their spare time raving (or whatever EDM kids call it). But Efron has a dream – he wants to be a superstar DJ & make something of himself! He wants to write songs & dance almost naked on the tops of bars! Wait – that’s Coyote Ugly… He wants to make furniture! No, wait – that’s Magic Mike… Yes – it’s one of those “young, attractive person with a dream” movies. But, although shallow & predictable, it had more heart than I was expecting & was at least better than the two I just mentioned (thank god). I have to say that little Efron was quite good in this. He may end up being a decent actor! He has that “pretty boy” thing working against him, just like Leonardo DiCaprio had in the early days. But I have to say this is the first movie where I was impressed with his acting – it would be good to see him in slightly more serious roles.

Blurred Lines girl was… Tolerable. The oh-so-predictable romance/love triangle didn’t totally make me want to puke & they made her have “issues” and doubts about her own choices in life so at least they did do more with her character than JUST have her be the pretty face. And her boobs stayed covered! (Yes, you get some boobs in this but it didn’t go overboard. This was no Spring Breakers – it does take itself quite seriously). Wes Bentley also did well as the older DJ who is past his prime but his character doesn’t get much of a resolution. I also liked Efron’s group of friends who are “holding him back!”. Oh, and I liked one trippy scene where Efron has taken some PCP. Damn – can’t find a picture of that. 

Summary:

There’s not a lot more that I can say about We Are Your Friends. This same story has been done SO many times! It just happens to be an “EDM DJ” with a dream this time so I guess we’ve not exactly seen that before. I have nothing against this type of story – it always does well but the important thing is that they make us care about the characters & this movie does manage that. Efron was likeable & you want him to succeed. I found his group of friends believable & more developed than you’d expect from a film like this. I even found the (predictable, yes) ending pretty satisfying & they tied up some loose ends pretty well (in a clichéd way but, hey – most movies are guilty of that). Yeah, I liked this movie just fine. I can sometimes not be all snobby-movie-blogger and just admit that I liked a non-Oscar-worthy movie. 😉

My Rating: 6.5/10

Non-Stop, The Spectacular Now & Used Cars Movie Reviews

Hope you all had a nice weekend! I have three more mini-reviews for you. This time we have a movie I was expecting to love but didnt, one I expected to like but hated, and one big ‘ol MEH movie. Let’s begin…

Non-Stop (2014)

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Jason Butler Harner, Anson Mount

My Opinion:

This is the big ‘ol pile of MEH. I always fall behind on reviewing movies I watch at home but tend to keep on top of the ones I actually go to see. Well, I went to this one in the cinema (theatER!) last year but couldn’t summon up enough enthusiasm to review it. Liam Neeson is doing his Taken role again. I don’t know how he ended up being so typecast but I’m not too bothered as he was never exactly a favorite of mine anyway. At least that annoying Maggie Grace isn’t in this.

The plot is… okay, I guess, but it’s not helped by some lame acting and some laughably predictable moments. I mean, this is the basic plot on Wikipedia: Neeson is a U.S. Air Marshal on a flight to London when he “receives text messages on his secure phone stating that someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into a specific bank account.” That actually sounds quite exciting, doesnt it?! It does! That’s why I went to it even though I can live without most popcorn action movies. I remember I was in the mood for a braindead action movie when I went to this, though, so I had some fun with it despite it being pretty damn ridiculous.

I was reminded when getting that plot synopsis that Neeson plays an alcoholic Air Marshal. Because he’s TROUBLED & has ISSUES to overcome, people! This is why the passengers aren’t sure if they can trust him when he starts acting like a raving lunatic! lol. I kind of forgot just how silly this one was. I didn’t totally hate it or anything. If you want a simple action movie where you won’t have to think & you like Liam Neeson being all Liam Neeson-y, give this a watch in your comfy living room.

My Rating: 5.5/10

The Spectacular Now (2013)

Directed by James Ponsoldt

Based on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler

My Opinion:

I was desperate to see this movie when I heard about it but then it never came out in the UK and, much to my annoyance, I wasn’t able to see it for ages. All I kept hearing was that it was this generation’s Say Anything. Naturally, being my age, I adore Say Anything so I was like “I must see this Spectacular Now movie!!!”.

Umm… I guess I can see the Say Anything comparisons. If Lloyd Dobler (the sweetest, most perfect boyfriend in the history of film) had instead been a selfish, alcoholic prick. Yeah… the only thing this movie has in common with Say Anything is a role-reversal of the one-sided love story (Diane Court clearly doesn’t love you, Lloyd. But every female my age does, at least!). 😉

I suppose my expectations were too high for this movie after the Say Anything comparisons. I’ve not read the (I’m assuming YA) book this is based on – maybe it does a better job with Miles Teller’s character? I guess calling him a “prick” wasn’t totally fair – his character is just aimless & he has issues that lead to him drinking too much but he’s not exactly outright horrible to Shailene Woodley’s character. Wait, no – he really is kind of a prick. He clearly likes her but she’s crazy about him and he’s too self-absorbed to care about any negative impact his actions may have on her. It felt like he was just using her so it was very hard to like him. I think I just expected to like & care about the characters a bit more. This may be partly down to Teller, who I just can’t make myself like (even after Whiplash).

Woodley was good – this is the type of role that suits her way more than the one in Divergent. But her character is such a pushover, which was a little disappointing. I liked seeing Brie Larson, who I really liked in 21 Jump Street & Short Term 12, in a small role plus Jennifer Jason Leigh (eXistenZ!). But, if this is the current generation’s definition of a love story, then young people need to lighten up & watch a proper romance film. The Spectacular Now was far too dramatic and, unlike Say Anything, had no fun moments despite the heartache. On its own, not being compared to other movies, it’s certainly not a bad film. Don’t let my disappointment keep you from watching it if you’re interested – I know I just hyped it up in my mind too much. Just remember that it’s very much a “drama” if you decide to watch it and that you may not like Teller’s character.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Used Cars (1980)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Gerrit Graham, Deborah Harmon

This was on Netflix so I gave it a watch since I like Kurt Russell, Robert Zemeckis, and, of course, the Eighties. I figured it couldn’t go wrong with those three things and maybe I’d get a few little laughs out of it. I hated it! I know that movies from my beloved decade haven’t all aged well and some can contain jokes that are seen as un-PC today. That sort of thing doesn’t usually bother me as I grew up with it but this movie just went a little too far with the cruel humor and outdated sexism.

First of all, (this isn’t really a spoiler as it’s obvious this is what’s going to happen) the only character who doesn’t come across as a selfish jerk (Jack Warden) dies and it turns a bit into Weekend At Bernie’s with some of the antics with this poor guy’s dead body (never mind the fact that he was essentially MURDERED for his crappy little car dealership. by his twin brother, no less!). I know death can occasionally be humorous in certain black comedies (Heathers rules) but this one didn’t sit right with me in a silly 80’s comedy. Kurt Russell & Gerrit Graham, who work for this guy and his dealership, do show a little sorrow but their main goal is to save their own jobs at whatever cost. It’s hard to care about them at first as they’re very hard to like but the movie redeems itself a tiny bit when the only female character who isn’t there just to be a pair of tits shows up (more about her later) but they’re cruel & do use her at first (luckily, they instead work with her by the end – the second half of this movie is much better than the first).

As for the women in Used Cars, they were treated no better than Warden’s dead body. I’m not a girl who’s going to demand that women be in every movie ever (two of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me, don’t even have any women in them) but I expect female characters to be treated with the same respect as the male characters. Deborah Harmon is the only important female character and she’s fine but she’s also seen as quite helpless & needing Kurt Russell to come to the rescue since she can’t run a car dealership on her own (what do women know about cars?! actually, I admit that I know nothing about cars). I’m glad they work with her, though, (after cruelly lying to her about something important and of course sleeping with her) and as I said, the movie redeems itself a little in the second half. 

Hey – can I just go off topic & mention that I immediately recognized Deborah Harmon from the TV show Just The Ten Of Us? Am I the only one in the world who watched that short-lived Growing Pains spin-off?? I loved it! It had THREE Nightmare On Elm Street girls in it (THE Heather Langenkamp wanting to be a nun, the girl who turns into a bug, and “girl on bus” in Nightmare 2 – Yes, I discovered the “girl on bus” connection years later when the Internet came around). But back to this shitty Used Cars movie…

I know guys like boobs and there are loads of naked women in movies. I didn’t get that annoyed at the lead male characters in this sleeping around and using strippers to sell their cars. However, I found the very looooong scene where the male stars predictably expose a woman to a TV audience (without her approval) then actually zoom in on her breasts to be a step too far. And it went on for what felt like forever while she did nothing but scream like an idiot. Then, to top it all off, Graham’s character ends it by actually “honking” her boob. Seriously. He may have even made a honking sound effect (I’d check to verify but can’t be bothered). Umm. No. Unless you’re in a relationship with us, never ever “honk” our boobs. Plus Harmon’s character’s boobs get groped by a stranger for no apparent reason toward the end of the film. WTF? Gotta love the 1980s, I guess… I suppose I was more offended than I would have been watching something like Porky’s as you expect that sort of thing from that decade’s sex comedies and I didn’t realize beforehand that Used Cars would be like that.

Oops – this mini-review ended up being fairly long. I do go on a bit when I’m annoyed! Only watch this if you really love movies from the Eighties and you get excited by seeing people like Wendie Jo Sperber in a very small role. Yay! Wendie Jo Sperber! Luckily she went on to be in the much much much (much) better Zemeckis film Back To The Future. That movie is perfection – what the hell happened with Used Cars?! Ugh.

My Rating: 4.5/10 (it gets an extra half a point for Wendie Jo)