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)

Drugstore Cowboy, At Close Range & Slacker Movie Reviews

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Here are three more mini-reviews of movies I don’t have enough to say about to fill a full review for each! Sound exciting? Two were okay but one totally sucked…

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Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Directed by Gus Van Sant & Based on Drugstore Cowboy by James Fogle

Starring: Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James Remar, James LeGros, Heather Graham, William Burroughs

My Opinion:

It seems like I’ve watched quite a few movies about people who are addicted to drugs but they’re never exactly favorites of mine. It’s certainly something I can’t relate to as I’m afraid I’m going to OD if I take one little wussy aspirin for a headache. The last drug movie I watched was The Basketball Diaries, which was also based on the real-life drug addiction of the story’s author. That movie was a little disappointing but had a good performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. I maybe liked it slightly more than this but Drugstore Cowboy is probably a bit better as a film.

The problem with these drug movies is that, even though they show the terrible effects that drugs have on people, I think they still manage to glamorize drug addiction to a certain degree. Diaries is more guilty of that than Cowboy – I think Drugstore Cowboy tells a more straightforward story without trying to appear too “cool”. However, it also makes for a slightly more boring film.

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I’ve never really liked Matt Dillon with his gormless face & Bert from Sesame Street eyebrows but I guess he’s fine in this (he’s just not on a Leonardo DiCaprio level acting-wise). Kelly Lynch was pretty good as Dillon’s bossy, horny girlfriend (or I think she may have been his wife?). I haven’t really seen Lynch in many films but all I ever think of is how Bill Murray calls her husband to tell him that Kelly is having sex with Patrick Swayze anytime Road House is playing on TV (I really need to watch that movie – it looks so gloriously bad). I was surprised to see a very young Heather Graham looking all cute like she did in License To Drive. That’s the thing with these Hollywood drug movies – you’d think only really attractive people become addicted to drugs.

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Overall, I liked Drugstore Cowboy okay but I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s life. It’s not as hard-hitting as some of the other drug addiction films that are out there but it does a decent job telling the story of a group of people who rob drugstores to feed their addiction and what a pointless existence they’re living.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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At Close Range (1986)

Directed by James Foley

Starring: Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Crispin Glover, Tracey Walter, Christopher Penn, Kiefer Sutherland

My Opinion:

At Close Range is probably the best movie of these three but I really had no idea how mean and violent it was going to be. All I really knew of the movie was what I saw in the clips of that Madonna video Live To Tell. It’s an Eighties movie that I missed out on at the time but always kind of wanted to see (probably because of that video). When it appeared on Netflix, I decided to watch it after being reminded that Mary Stuart Masterson is in it (and Crispin Glover! he’s his usual weird, Crispin Glover self in this). Oh yeah – and Christopher Penn! I’ve always liked him more than grumpy Sean.

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I didn’t know that this movie was based on the true story of a notorious crime family in Pennsylvania in the 1960s & 70s. There’s very little information on the real life criminals on Wikipedia so I can’t say how accurate the movie is but it’s a very gritty film and Walken is truly evil in this role. It was strange to see Walken playing a bad guy with absolutely no over-the-top acting or sick sense of humor like in movies such as Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. I absolutely HATED this guy (as you’re meant to) so I guess you can say that Walken played the role really well despite a very distracting hairstyle.

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At Close Range follows Sean Penn’s character and his estranged criminal father, played by Walken, who suddenly appears back in his son’s life and involves him in the family’s crime ring with very tragic consequences. Looking up the true story, I saw just how young these kids were when all this occurred (Penn’s character, his brother, his friends & his 15-year-old girlfriend) and I found it quite heartbreaking to see how this group of adult criminals were able to so easily use these young kids, some of them their own family, with absolutely no remorse.

At Close Range was a much darker movie than I was expecting for some reason (maybe because of that Madonna video) but I suppose it was a pretty good film. I’m just not normally a fan of true crime films as I find them too upsetting and the treatment of Penn’s & Masterson’s characters was especially difficult to watch. I’d recommend this if it sounds like your type of movie but be prepared to hate Walken’s character and to possibly feel a little angry when it finishes.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Slacker (1991)

Directed & Written by Richard Linklater

Starring: Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Mark James, Stella Weir, John Slate, Louis Mackey, Teresa Taylor

My Opinion:

I love Richard Linklater. I really do. Dazed And Confused is a favorite movie of mine and I really liked Boyhood even though a lot of people hated it. Bernie was pretty damn good as well, I love the relationship in the Before films, and School Of Rock is a huge guilty pleasure of mine (although I shouldn’t feel guilty about it – it’s great! Jack Black haters be GONE!). So…. I decided it was about time I check out Linklater’s feature length debut Slacker.

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Slacker has a high IMDB rating for an older film (7.1/10). I knew it was loads of “talking” like most of his films, which I don’t mind. Dazed And Confused and the Before films are loads of talking. The difference is that those films have characters we give a shit about and a f*%king STORY instead of a bunch of random idiots telling stupid, boring stories that have absolutely no connection to each other.

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I’m sorry to anyone who is a fan of this one but I just do NOT get the appeal. It would be okay if the pointless talking was funny and entertaining like it was in Dazed And Confused but none of it is funny or entertaining. Scratch that – the chick in the photo above (and the poster) is mildly (emphasis on mildly) entertaining as she discusses buying a Madonna pap smear (hey – a Madonna connection to my previous review!). I guess that’s why that character ended up on the poster as she’s the only one I can even remember other than Linklater himself, who starts off the string of pointless talking in the very first scene.

I guess the one good thing about Slacker is that it was the start of Linklater’s career. I’m still a fan of his as he went on to make much (much!) better films than this one but Slacker is a huge waste of time for anyone who isn’t a slacker and has better things to do with their time.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Streets Of Fire (1984) Review

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Streets Of Fire (1984)

Directed by Walter Hill

Starring: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Willem Dafoe, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Bill Paxton, Elizabeth Daily

Music by Ry Cooder

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB):
A mercenary goes after his ex-girlfriend, a singer who has been kidnapped by a gang.

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My Opinion:

Streets Of Fire is one of those movies I always regretted not seeing back in the Eighties. Then, after watching The Warriors a couple of years ago and absolutely loving it, I knew I should finally watch Streets Of Fire as it was also made by Walter Hill. But I still didn’t get around to it! I finally decided to check it out after watching Diane Lane in the great little obscure 1982 film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. Unfortunately, this is definitely not as good as The Warriors and even The Fabulous Stains is better in a lot of ways. This has a cheesy sort of appeal, though, and I’m sure it has its fans amongst those who saw it at the time & grew up with it. But it probably won’t connect with anyone watching it for the first time nowadays whereas I think The Warriors continues to gain new fans.

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As the poster says, this was apparently marketed as “a rock & roll fable”. There are a lot of songs in this and I think whether or not you buy into the movie will depend on if you like the music. A lot of the music was by Ry Cooder and I can’t say I remember any of it after a first watch even though it wasn’t long ago that I saw it (except for I Can Dream About You by Dan Hartman since I already knew that song. That was stuck in my head for days afterwards!). The songs by Diane Lane’s band in the film were a bit bland & reminded me of something Meat Loaf might sing. The movie is a very odd mix of the Fifties rock ‘n’ roll thing and the early Eighties style-wise & musically. I’ve never really been a fan of the Fifties rock ‘n’ roll thing so that may be why the movie didn’t work so well for me. Also, I just couldn’t really take the two main male characters seriously when they wore their pants so high. Seriously! This is NOT a good look. Especially whatever the hell Willem Dafoe is wearing here:

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Hilarious! The hot one in the stupid suspenders there is Michael Paré, the film’s hero. I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything else and as I watched this I thought “he’s cute but he’s a pretty damn bad actor – no wonder he wasn’t in anything else”. Then I looked him up on IMDB and he’s been in 126 things & he’s still going strong! What?! What are all these movies Paré has been in? This dude’s career has completely passed me by – I knew of him & that he was in Streets Of Fire but that’s all. Huh. Hopefully his acting improved? I suppose he worked as the sexy but dumb hero that women want to sleep with…

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Diane Lane’s character was a pretty big disappointment, especially just after seeing her in The Fabulous Stains where her character had far more personality & depth. She’s nothing but a pretty “damsel in distress” in Streets Of Fire. Luckily we got two better female characters with Amy Madigan’s soldier who helps Paré to rescue Lane & Deborah Van Valkenburgh, who was also great in The Warriors, as Paré’s sister. I’ve already mentioned Dafoe & his silly pants – it was funny seeing him in this as I didn’t know he was in it (he plays the main bad guy & kidnapper). Rick Moranis was also a surprise as was Elizabeth Daily once again starring with Lane in a slightly bigger role than she had in The Fabulous Stains. Plus we also get Bill Paxton once again looking like a total douche in an Eighties film! I miss good old douchey Bill Paxton from the Eighties. He was more fun than leading role Bill Paxton of later times. He’ll never top his Weird Science role! Remember when he was in that Fish Heads video? Am I going off on one of my tangents again?

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Summary:

I clearly don’t have much to say about this film so I’ll just wrap this up. These are the kind of movies I find most difficult to write about: the “meh” ones. I can get a little passionate when I really love (or hate) a movie but have very little to say when I don’t really care. I know I’d like this a lot more if I’d seen it at the time but, despite it trying for a bit of a Fifties feel, it’s a little too stuck in 1984. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll always like a mediocre film from 1984 a million times more than a mediocre film from today and I did enjoy this a lot more than I’ve made it sound. I just feel bad because I really wanted to like it more than I did. I thought I might be discovering yet another little gem from my favorite era just like The Warriors & The Fabulous Stains. Oh well – two out of three ain’t bad. Hey, that’s a Meat Loaf song!

My Rating: 6.5/10

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This Is 40, Admission & Bad Grandpa Movie Reviews

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Time to start getting more movies off my “Reviews To Do” list! Since starting this blog, I feel like I must review absolutely every single movie I watch. I’ve put off reviewing some because I just don’t have much to say about them (especially things like throwaway comedies & the occasional chick flick) so I’ll start reviewing movies like these together every now & then. Most movies like these are ones I watched in 2014 so I’m a little behind. But they’re on my list! I gotta do them!!! 😉

So here are three quickies! One was boring, one was okay, and one I really enjoyed.

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This Is 40 (2012)

Directed by Judd Apatow

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Graham Parker, Albert Brooks

My Opinion: This is the one that was okay. I watched This Is 40 at least a year ago & remember thinking something along the lines of “I enjoyed that but I better review it quick because I won’t remember much of it in a year”. Ha! It’s true. For example: That annoying Melissa McCarthy was in this? Really?? And I forgot that the even more annoying Megan Fox was in this. Well, I watched this for Paul Rudd. If it had been a different male star, I doubt I’d have bothered.

I have yet to love anything from Judd Apatow. I feel like I should as I suppose I’m the sort of target age range for his stuff? I don’t know… Who here is a huge Apatow fan? What am I missing? Looking at what he’s written and/or directed, I did like The 40 Year-Old Virgin and remember that pretty well even though it’s much older and I only saw it once. This Is 40 is probably my second favorite but considering I only remember certain parts of it a year later doesn’t say much for it, I guess.

I liked Rudd, as always, but this wasn’t exactly my favorite ever character of his. He & Leslie Mann were fine but there was maybe a little too much of the “Oh god! I’m 40 & having a midlife crisis!” thing going on. I liked the family as a whole & they felt like a real-life family. Of course, it probably helps that the kids are the real-life daughters of Apatow & Mann but the Hollywood nepotism thing and Apatow’s insistence on always casting his borderline-annoying wife is, like the characters in This Is 40, getting a little old.

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I do remember laughing a few times throughout this movie. It’s not a laugh-out-loud comedy but an observation on our relationships in life and, of course, growing old. It’s much more grown-up than some of Apatow’s other films and I can’t see as many people enjoying it unless they’re approaching or past the big Four-Oh. For the most part, I think this was a pretty well-written film and I liked the different sorts of relationships between the three generations of both Rudd’s & Mann’s families. It’s just a “watch it once and you have no need to watch it again” type of film. I’d only recommend it if you’re a fan of any of the stars or the director AND you’re at least 35.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Admission (2013)

Directed by Paul Weitz

Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn, Lily Tomlin

My Opinion: This is the boring one of these three movies. As you can see, it’s Paul Rudd again and I only watched it because he’s in it. This is one of those damn “dramedy” romance movies. Dramedies sometimes work but this one didn’t have much comedy and I didn’t care enough about Tina Fey’s character to give a shit about her drama. Like This Is 40, this is a more grown-up movie for a slightly older audience but the forced quirkiness of some of the characters and Tina Fey’s uptight Princeton admissions officer just didn’t work for me.

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Paul Rudd was his usual adorable, likeable self but I’ll admit he always plays the same character (which is fine if you like him like I do). I’ve never really been a fan of Tina Fey, who also plays her usual self, so I can’t say I liked her character (which isn’t good as she’s the main star & the film centers on her career & relationship struggles). Nat Wolff was in this, who played the slightly annoying friend in The Fault In Our Stars and has the lead role in the next John Green adaptation coming out (Paper Towns, a book I really didn’t like so it’ll be interesting to see if the movie is any better). I did like Lily Tomlin as Fey’s mother and Wallace Shawn had a small role as Fey’s boss. It always gives me warm fuzzies just hearing his distinctive voice… “Inconceivable“! This is one of those movies that just tries too hard to be intelligent & serious and ends up feeling fake & forced. To be fair, romantic dramedy isn’t my favorite genre in the first place but this one just didn’t work for me at all.

My Rating: 5/10

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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013)

Directed by Jeff Tremaine

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, A bunch of unsuspecting victims

My Opinion: Well, damn – I thought this was hilarious. Why am I ashamed to admit that?! I’ve thought all the Jackass movies were a riot. They’re not the sort of movies I’ve ever felt the need to watch more than once but they’re entertaining as hell on a first watch when you don’t know what kind of outrageous stuff to expect. I don’t really get why I like them as, in real life, I hate dumbass guys who do childish, idiotic things. I guess you have to give Johnny Knoxville credit for making a career out of it – he earns way more money than I do!

It was kind of weird at first how they acted out this fictional story of “grandpa & grandson” but I think it worked and, in the end, it was actually sort of sweet in a weird, f*%ked up kind of way. Johnny Knoxville was also in the movie Fun Size with the kid (Jackson Nicoll) and the kid was the best thing about that strange but somewhat enjoyable Nickelodeon movie. This kid cracks me up but I can’t say I’d ever let my kid hang out with any of the Jackass guys… Ha! Talk about bad role models!

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Anyway, I never thought I’d find explosive diarrhoea (UK spelling, FYI) or an old man’s testicles funny but what really works in this movie, I guess, is the shocked reactions from the poor bastards they play their pranks on. Looking at photos for this post I was reminded again of the pageant bit… Hahaha! Why do I like these juvenile Jackass movies?!? I should be ashamed. But I’m not!

My Rating: 7/10

Minions (2015) Review

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Minions (2015)

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda

Starring Voice Actors:
Pierre Coffin
Sandra Bullock
Jon Hamm
Michael Keaton
Allison Janney
Steve Coogan
Geoffrey Rush

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.

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My Opinion:

First of all, I must confess that I love minions. LOVE THEM!!!! They’re hilarious and adorable and I desperately want some of my own (to do my evil bidding, of course). I specifically want a Bob after seeing this movie – he’s so sweet with his little teddy bear!

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So, anyway – I’m probably going to be far more forgiving of this movie’s flaws because…. MINIONS!!!! 🙂 Is this movie great? No. Is it even remotely as good as Despicable Me or Despicable Me 2? Hell no. But that’s okay – I didn’t expect it to be. I was hoping it would be better than it was, though, so that was a little disappointing. For the record, I think the first Despicable Me is absolutely brilliant (which shocked me as I’ve never really loved a kids’ film that wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney). I think it’s very funny as well as very sweet (without being schmaltzy). The relationship between Gru & the girls is done perfectly and I knew when they announced there would be a movie with just the minions that it would never live up to the Despicable Mes as Gru and the girls are what really make those movies so great. The fault with Minions isn’t the minions, though – they’re just as silly and loveable as ever. Unfortunately, the story and script are very weak as are all the non-minion characters. Bullock’s Scarlet Overkill is especially boring – I found her and the family the minions first meet to all be a bit stupid and pointless. We cared about Gru in Despicable Me and, even when he was at his most evil, he was at least funny & entertaining. In Minions, I really just wanted the human characters to go away. Maybe the next minions movie should be nothing but minions??? I suppose it would have to be narrated or subtitled through the whole thing, though… Okay, I suppose it wouldn’t work. I’d still watch it, though!

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I’m keeping this review short because, well, there isn’t much to say. If you adore the minions as much as I do, you’ll have fun with this movie even though you’ll recognize that it’s far from perfect. If you’re not a fan of the Despicable Me films or of the minions, I wouldn’t recommend Minions (I’m not sure why you’d want to watch it anyway in that case). I had plenty of fun laughs throughout the film but it’s lacking the heart of Despicable Me (as well as the amazing Pharrell soundtracks). For a soundtrack full of pre-existing music, though, I’d have to say that I did really enjoy the great 60’s songs they chose for the film (from The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, etc). Plus, thank god, they were smart enough to include Mellow Yellow by Donovan! (because, like, minions are YELLOW! Yeah?!). 🙂 I also enjoyed several 60’s pop culture references but, overall, it didn’t make up for the mediocre story and villain. I still love those minions, though!!!! Just do me a favor & watch Despicable Me instead if you’ve never seen it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

And if you’re curious, these would be my Despicable Me ratings:
Despicable Me: 9/10
Despicable Me 2: 7.5/10
**Updated post to add Despicable Me 3: 7/10**

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My six-year-old’s opinion: I’ve not done this as a “family” review as, to be honest, I’d have watched Minions even if I didn’t have a kid. But I did ask her for her opinion of the movie as I always do after we watch one together. She of course enjoyed it and giggled plenty throughout the film but I know she didn’t like it as much as Despicable Me. She gives the Despicable Me films 10/10 & Minions 8/10 (she tends to rate things too highly). 😉 She sat pretty still through the whole movie so it did keep her attention the entire time. I’d say it’s definitely worth going to if your kids love the minions as much as mine does. Oh, and her favorite bit has to do with a famous band (but I can’t say any more to avoid spoilers).

What my hubby had to say:
“Such a wasted opportunity. Yes I giggled at the odd thing here and there… but what a waste of some of the most iconic creations of the past ten years.”

Is there a scene after the credits? YES! There are a lot of scenes throughout the credits but there’s also a very long scene after the credits as well. It’s worth staying for (in my opinion. if you’re a music lover…).

Primer (2004) Review

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Primer (2004)

Directed by Shane Carruth

Starring:
Shane Carruth
David Sullivan
Casey Gooden
Andand Upadhyaya

Running time: 77 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.

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My Opinion:

What. The. Hell. Seriously – if you’ve seen this movie & you’ve come here looking for answers, you’ve come to the wrong place! I’m far too stupid for this movie. Don’t get me wrong – I love movies that make you think. Believe me, I get bored with all the braindead Michael Bay blockbuster type shit that keeps being made but Primer just made my head hurt.

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First of all, anyone who reads my stuff often enough probably knows that I have a tendency to fall asleep anytime I try to watch a movie at home. Hey, I’m tired & old & have a young child – give me a break! I’ve never fallen asleep during a movie as many times as I did while trying to make it through Primer, though. Holy shit! I think it took me about seven separate attempts to finish it plus I had to keep rewinding the bit where they “time travel” (or whatever the hell it was that they did) for the first time & the one guy was explaining to the other guy how it works & I was trying to wrap my little brain around his explanation. That bit was complicated enough as it was but then they kept doing the time travel thing and trying to undo things and, I dunno, undo things undone and, like, try to stop someone being shot or something and make money off the stock market or some shit like that and double selves talked to past selves and past selves talked to double selves (is that right??) and they did all this while lying around in this time travel box thingy that they created in this one dude’s garage. And they talk & talk & talk about scientific gobbledegook the entire time. Blah blah blah. At least I found one of the main two guys (Shane Carruth – also the film’s writer & director) kind of sexy in that “really smart guy who wouldn’t talk to me because I’m a complete idiot compared to him” kind of way. I love smart dudes!

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Anyway, these two engineer dudes create this time travel box by accident while working on some other confusing scientific thing. This is one of those movies where, unless you’re Einstein, you have to go reading about it online afterwards. Normally I enjoy having to do this but I couldn’t be bothered this time. The first place I go if I want to refresh my memory before I do a movie review is Wikipedia just to read the full plot summary (here’s the one for Primer). Hahaha! Well, I can’t even make it through that without getting confused all over again so I gave up on reading anything further about this film. And this is the first time I’ve seen Wikipedia include diagrams to help explain a movie. I’m going to include the one that explains how the time travel works in Primer. I don’t consider this a SPOILER but I’m putting a little warning here just in case you want to watch this movie without knowing anything beforehand. I think seeing this diagram first may help, though – I wish I’d actually seen it before watching the movie. If you like the look of this diagram & if it actually makes sense to you, please watch the film so you can explain it to me. 😉

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Link to the diagram on Wikipedia

Oh, that’s the simple one. Here’s a chart that apparently explains the whole movie (link HERE to be able to view it properly. I got it from THIS article, which gives a fairly simple overview to help you understand Primer. But I still don’t!):

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Summary:

From what I could gather, Primer is about time travel. It was directed by, written by, produced by, edited by, scored by, and starring Shane Carruth, who is clearly some sort of can-do-it-all genius. He also managed to make this on an extremely low budget and, although it seems low budget in some ways, it’s also pretty damn good for the small amount of money Carruth had to work with. It has lots and lots of technical mumbo jumbo that went way over my head but, from the tiny bit I’ve read online, it’s all accurate scientific stuff so boy genius Carruth obviously knows his stuff. I’d maybe hate him for being so perfect if he wasn’t so cute and if I didn’t find guys with big brains a total turn on. I’m never watching another movie of his again, though. Screw Upstream Color – I’ll stick with things like Back To The Future. I can follow that. Oh look – it’s now Lone Pine Mall! Haha! I get stuff like that! Plus a DeLorean is way cooler than a stupid box.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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YES! The smart dudes in Primer use a Weeble in their first time travel experiment (well, they don’t know the Weeble is time travelling at first but figure it out because some sort of shit accumulates on it. Or… something. No idea). Anyway! Weebles were awesome. It gave me very fond memories of the two cool Weebles sets I had as a kid (the circus and the haunted house).

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I really wanted to know which Weeble was used in Primer. From the movie photo above, I’d say it looks like the boy in the circus set:

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It was quite a while ago that I watched Primer so I can’t remember if they used more than one Weeble in their experiments. Maybe. Yes, I spent longer researching Weebles than I did researching an explanation of the movie. This is how my brain works. But I had a lot more fun reminiscing about Weebles than I did watching Primer! 😉

By the way – I think these UK Weebles looked really weird compared to the American ones I grew up with:

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**Feel free to try to discuss Primer with me in the Comments but I’ll be just as happy (happier) if you want to discuss Weebles and any other retro toys instead** 🙂

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) IMDB Top 250 Review

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An IMDB review by me! Finally! I’ve been slacking…

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

IMDB Rank: 208 out of 250 (as of 01/01/2013)

Directed by John Ford

Starring:
John Wayne
James Stewart
Vera Miles
Lee Marvin
Edmond O’Brien
Woody Strode
Andy Devine
John Carradine
Lee Van Cleef

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

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My Opinion:

It’s me! Reviewing a Top 250 film on my own blog! I’ve really neglected this Top 250 project while I’ve let all of you review them for me instead. I’ve reviewed all of the Studio Ghibli films in the Top 250 but, besides those, it looks like my last review was of Unforgiven last September. And here I am now with another damn Western (which I watched last September. I’m so behind!). I have to say that of the two things I was dreading in the Top 250, Westerns & war movies, I’m far preferring the war movies so far. (Once Upon A Time In The West was pretty awesome, though).

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So… John Wayne! This is the first & only John Wayne movie I’ve watched in my life. His movies were of such a different era that I really can’t relate to in any sort of way & I’ve never had any interest in exploring any of his films. I remember flipping through channels once as a teen & there was some John Wayne movie on where he was spanking a woman. Spanking?! Not in some weird, kinky, S&M way but I got the impression that she was maybe his wife & had disobeyed him or something so that was her punishment. (Okay – I can’t believe I just Googled “John Wayne Spanking” but I did & the movie was a year after this one & called McLintock!). Anyway, that sort of sexism just wouldn’t fly today so I can see why John Wayne films aren’t exactly popular amongst a new generation whereas the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns still are. They’re beautiful, sweeping epics (I assume – I’m basing this only on Once Upon A Time In The West) while John Wayne’s “spanking movie” feels like it’s from 50 years before West instead of just five. Having said that, though, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is pretty good & nothing like the very limited knowledge I have of other John Wayne films which had a very old look & feel. I think the fact that it was in black & white helped to keep it feeling less “dated” in an odd sort of way plus I think “serious drama” works much better in the Western genre than “silly spank comedy”. Also, what helped a lot for me was the fact that James Stewart was in this. I love Jimmy! That’s what convinced me to watch this one instead of putting it off (unfortunately, it’s no longer in the Top 250 like it was when I started this project).

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IMG_0372This is Liberty Valance. SPOILER: he gets shot…

I think this movie has a really good story & I liked the way it’s revealed in flashback as a small group of old friends gather for a funeral. James Stewart plays an educated lawyer & politician while John Wayne plays the rugged silent hero type but, hey – these are the exact kind of roles these two are known for & they’re perfect in this film. I’ll admit I got a little bored in the middle when the political stuff was going on (James Stewart running for some political something or other) but the scenes between Stewart & Wayne as well as the scenes involving the big baddie terrorizing the small community (Liberty Valance, played just right by Lee Marvin) were great. I also enjoyed the little bit of a love triangle between Stewart, Wayne & Vera Miles. So there are a lot of big stars in this one (including Lee Van Cleef although I can’t say I really remember him in it now – I don’t think it was a huge role). But my favorite actor in this (after Stewart) would be Woody Strode. He has a pretty big role as Wayne’s ranch hand & close friend. He was also in the incredible opening scene of Once Upon A Time In The West and has such a great look. I’d totally want to cast him in a movie if I ever made one (but he’s kind of not alive anymore). I looked him up & see that his last role was in that Sharon Stone/Leonardo DiCaprio Western The Quick And The Dead at the age of 80. Makes me want to watch that silly looking movie now – would be fun to see a young Leo again as well. Here’s Strode in this & West:

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Summary:

I know I don’t have much experience with Westerns but I can say that, as someone who isn’t a fan of the genre, I thought The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was pretty good. I really enjoyed the story plus the characters were very well-developed and you cared what was going to happen to them & to their close friendships. You love the goodies & hate the baddies in this one, which is really the point of all Westerns, isn’t it? It’s a shame this isn’t in the Top 250 anymore as young people keep voting in current shit like Interstellar, meaning all the older films are being overlooked and will now probably be totally ignored. This one is worth a watch if you like a decent good guy vs bad guy movie filled with revenge, love, loyalty and loss.

My Rating: 7/10

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Midnight In Paris (2011) Review

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Midnight In Paris (2011)

Directed & Written by Woody Allen

Starring:
Kathy Bates
Adrien Brody
Carla Bruni
Marion Cotillard
Kurt Fuller
Rachel McAdams
Michael Sheen
Owen Wilson

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his materialistic fiancée and their divergent goals, which become increasingly exaggerated as he travels back in time each night at midnight.

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My Opinion:

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Midnight In Paris but I just have to say this: I think I deserve a payrise for getting the word “Xenomorph” into my company’s newsletter last week.

Now, onto Midnight In Paris: a movie I watched months ago but never reviewed because I don’t really have much to say about it. But, shit – apparently a lot of you like it as it’s in third place in that poll of movies you want me to review. So, damn, I better stay true to my word! 🙂

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Here’s my big, embarrassing movie blogger confession: I’ve never watched a Woody Allen film. NONE! So Midnight In Paris was my first & only. Tell me, Woody Allen fans – was this the place to start? I assume not. But, I dunno… I really liked the sound of it plus I’m a big fan of Van Gogh so I was a sucker for that poster up there. ^ I am NOT, however, a fan of Owen Wilson. Probably because he’s been in too many of those annoying Wes Anderson movies. Plus, I’ve always hated his voice. And, you know, that nose. I’m sounding bitchy now but I’m just trying to point out how much I do NOT like Owen Wilson so that you know this may have had an effect on my enjoyment of my first Woody Allen movie. However, it’s definitely a good film & I can understand why some people really like it. It needs to be your type of “thing”, though.

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With this movie, as with Wilson’s character, it really comes alive when it’s in the past. These scenes are so much better than those set in present day with Wilson’s absolute bitch of a fiancée (Rachel McAdams). But that’s the whole point – a viewer may very well end up loving 1920’s Paris just as much as Wilson’s character does. I may not be able to fully relate to a love of 1920’s Paris but I can relate to feeling nostalgic about a certain time. I hate 2015! The world is shit now. I’d probably go back to the 1970s/early 80s. Hmm… I suppose that’s a little unoriginal. I’d probably be happy in any time that’s before the Internet but after indoor plumbing! Oh, and after women stopped being treated like shit. Wait… we’re still treated like shit! Oh cool – I think I’ve written enough now. I can finish this horrible first-ever Woody Allen review I’m making a mess of! 🙂

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Summary:

Midnight In Paris is a good film and I would assume those who love Woody Allen films loved this one too (not that I can compare it to another film of his since I’ve not seen any). I’m probably not cultured enough to have fully appreciated all the famous historical figures Wilson’s character meets in the past but I did find this a very fun part of the story as I actually didn’t know beforehand that anyone “special” was going to be in this. I also didn’t mind the romance in this although I’m not the type to usually go for that. Oh yeah! And my favorite “hey, it’s that guy!” guy was in this (Kurt Fuller – never thought to look up his name before now). I can’t say Midnight In Paris is a movie I fell in love with or that I’ll ever watch it again, though. I liked the originality & it was entertaining but I know I probably should have watched an older Woody Allen film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Rollerball (1975) Review

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Rollerball (1975)

Directed by Norman Jewison

Starring:
James Caan
John Houseman
Maud Adams
John Beck
Moses Gunn
Ralph Richardson

Running time: 129 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.

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My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch Rollerball for years. 70’s dystopian sci-fi is so very ME! Yet I’d never gotten around to watching this one for some reason (or THX 1138 – another one that’s been on my list for years). So, I had fairly high expectations. Well… Damn. I’m sorry if there are any fans of this film but Rollerball is, for the most part, a bit boring.

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Some sci-fi films age well but this isn’t really one of them. Its dystopian view doesn’t seem as relevant now (we have FAR bigger worries these days!) and, my god – there’s nothing I love more than ugly 70’s hair & fashion but the people in this look SO 70s that it’s hard to suspend disbelief & think of this as actually being set in the future. Rollerball takes a fairly serious approach to the subject matter so does as least sometimes come across as more “gritty” than other cheesy-looking sci-fi from the same era, such as Logan’s Run (although I do like Logan’s Run… I preferred it to this). But the only scenes that really work here are the ones where the actual sport is being played. Unfortunately, whenever they leave the arena, the movie goes back to looking every bit its age & becomes a bit of a snoozefest with dodgy acting from most everyone other than James Caan, which is probably why it took me about four attempts to finish it. Hey! You do get a glimpse of a penis in a shower scene in the beginning, though.

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Speaking of penises, I gotta say that Rollerball certainly wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test. Being a woman who likes a lot of old movies (especially ones that most would consider “guy” movies), I’m used to that so I’m not saying Rollerball is really any more guilty of this than a lot of movies at that time. However, the female characters in Rollerball are nothing more than “pretty wives” for the players. From what I could gather, they’re “given” to the biggest Rollerball stars and, when Caan’s character is told he must retire, his “wife” is promised to someone else. But they give him a replacement woman – I’m not sure why as they want Caan out of the spotlight anyway. Is she his retirement gift? Is it because he needs a pretty face by his side when he makes his retirement announcement? I probably missed the point as I kept falling asleep when they weren’t playing Rollerball. They hint at the fact that he may have actually been in love with his “wife” but the movie fails to really explore this storyline. This movie happens to be set in 2018 so I’m glad women are a bit more than just “sports star whores” these days! Hey, that’s okay – just balance things out by watching the Drew Barrymore & Ellen Page movie Whip It after Rollerball. 😉 Yeah! Whip It! That movie rules. I want to be a roller derby chick. I’d be the old one like Juliette Lewis’s Iron Maven (I’d like to use that name as well!). I’m a wuss, though, so I probably wouldn’t last long.

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Did I just compare Rollerball to Whip It?! Ha! Okay – Rollerball is really just super violent roller derby with motorcycles & a spiky ball but the main two films I thought of while watching it were two that I enjoyed a lot more: The Running Man & Death Race 2000. Rollerball is a better “film” than either of those but it kind of forgets to be fun or entertaining. Actually, that’s a little harsh… I’m going to wrap this up now & try to be more positive. In fact, I think this one may deserve two ratings.

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Summary:

I don’t think I’ve been entirely fair to Rollerball. I may enjoy something like Death Race 2000 more, which is also from 1975, but I’d have to admit that it also hasn’t aged well – it’s just less serious and more fun to watch in 2015. That’s down to personal taste, though, and plenty of people will prefer the far less cheesy Rollerball. I think it’s unfortunate that the non-sports scenes REALLY let the film down. While the players are in their Rollerball uniforms (which do have a cool iconic look) & beating the shit out of each other, the movie is enjoyable. I have a feeling that fans of this movie have nostalgic feelings about the sports scenes & have kind of blocked the rest from their minds. I don’t think I’ve done this before but I’m going to give Rollerball my current rating as well as the rating I may have given it if I’d been old enough to watch it back in 1975.

My 2015 Rating: 6.5/10

My 1975 Rating: 7.5/10

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Home (2015) Review

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Home (2015)

Directed by Tim Johnson

Based on The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Starring:
Rihanna
Jim Parsons
Jennifer Lopez
Steve Martin

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Oh, a loveable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. And while he changes her planet and she changes his world, they discover the true meaning of the word HOME.

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My Opinion:

I’ve said it a million times here so I won’t go into it too much but I’m a big Pixar & Disney fan and feel that nothing from DreamWorks has ever come close to being as good. DreamWorks make okay movies for kids of very specific ages but not timeless classics for the whole family. Home is no exception. However, it’s “good for a DreamWorks film”.

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What I liked most about Home was the lead being a strong, young, not white!, FEMALE character in a sci-fi movie aimed at kids. Is that a first?? Feels like it… Maybe they’ll actually sell toys of her unlike Princess Leia toys for all the young girls who are Star Wars fans. Yes, there are girls who like Star Wars – why is it pretty much impossible to find any Princess Leia toys other than “slave Leia” toys for adult males? Pisses me off! I’ve had words with Disney Store, who don’t even sell toys of or clothing with the two females who are both MAIN characters in Star Wars Rebels. Seriously – they sell items with the male characters only. Sorry I just went off on one of my tangents! What I’m saying is that the choice of main character is a refreshing change & hopefully boys will still give it a chance as having a lead female character doesn’t make it a “girl’s movie” – there’s plenty here that both boys & girls will enjoy. Oh! I also liked the single mother with daughter situation here – another thing we don’t see a lot. It was also kind of funny that J-Lo plays Rihanna’s mother… Bet she hated that! 😉

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Whether or not kids will like this movie will probably depend more on if they like the character of alien Oh. The aliens in this (the Boov) are very silly & not very bright, making them do a lot of stupid things that I think kids will find hilarious. Steve Martin voices the idiotic leader of the Boov (Captain Smek), which I enjoyed since I’m old (I’m afraid I’m much closer to Steve Martin’s age than Rihanna’s). Oh wait – I just did the math & I’m much closer to Rihanna’s age… YES! I mean, I’m a fan of Steve Martin but not of Rihanna (except We Found Love – I love that song). Am I going off on a tangent again?! The aliens in this are funny & Oh is silly and likeable. Home is very much aimed at kids & there’s nothing I’d consider inappropriate or too scary for the very young so you’d probably be fine taking your whole family to it. As an adult, I’d have to say I found some enjoyment from Home & didn’t end up thoroughly bored or annoyed like I do with some kids’ movies.

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Summary:

Home: “Good for a DreamWorks movie”. Yeah – I’ll go with that. Sorry to any DreamWorks fans out there but their movies never end up being all-time favorite films of mine whereas things like WALL-E & Toy Story are (and Despicable Me! an anomaly from Illumination Entertainment). I suppose the How To Train Your Dragon movies are still the best from DreamWorks but those are aimed at a higher age than Home. I’d have to say that I personally preferred Home to the majority of the other films from this studio (including Shrek) but I’m not sure that everyone will feel the same way. The story is a bit “odd” compared to other kids’ films but I’m a big fan of sci-fi & strong female characters who are good role models for young girls so I think they’ve done a good job with this movie. They’ve tried something different here – Home is somewhat unique & I like that, even if some of the aliens & animation reminded me of that silly Eiffel 65 video. That’s okay – I love that song! (Did I just admit that in public?!)

My Rating: 6.5/10

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How I Live Now (2013) Review

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How I Live Now (2013)

Directed by Kevin Macdonald

Based on How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Starring:
Saoirse Ronan
Tom Holland
George MacKay
Anna Chancellor

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.

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My Opinion:

I watched this movie having no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about it other than reading the plot synopsis online. It sounded like it could be a cheesy YA post-apocalyptic romance as it’s based on a YA book (that I’ve actually not read! Thought I’d read that entire genre). No, this movie isn’t exactly cheesy. It has a more serious tone than I was expecting and is more like a weird combination of the original Red Dawn (not that awful remake – Chris Hemworth’s hotness couldn’t even save that) and that SUPER DEPRESSING British TV movie Threads (I don’t recommend that one – bloody hell!). But with a love story thrown in, of course. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how convincing the romance really is and Saoirse Ronan’s character is hard to sympathize with, even after seeing the hell she goes through after war breaks out while she’s in a foreign country. Well, foreign to her – she’s an American in the UK. Like me!

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First of all, I’ll say this movie is very “me” as I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction. I’ve read most the YA novels in this genre, I did a list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies (HERE), and the only story I’ve ever written in my life was about a group of teenagers who’ve survived an apocalypse (it sucked, of course – I’m not a writer). This was years before this & all the “dystopian future” YA novels were such a big thing & I love that it’s such a huge genre now (even if it IS getting a little old it’s still better than Sweet Valley High). Anyway, How I Live Now feels much more realistic than the future we see in movies such as The Hunger Games & The Maze Runner. It’s set now (I believe) instead of some unspecified future and very much feels like something that could happen at any moment. I think this makes it a much more powerful movie. It may not be as “entertaining” as The Hunger Games but it feels a lot more grown-up than other YA stuff, which is something I really liked about the film.

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However, I unfortunately found it really hard to relate to the characters – especially Saoirse Ronan’s “teenager with issues & an attitude problem” Daisy. She’s very neurotic before the war breaks out & she does learn to stop worrying about all the superficial things in life that really don’t matter after London is bombed but she still comes across as very selfish since all she seems to care about now is being with the boy she’s fallen in love with since coming to England. Or should I say… her COUSIN?! Did I miss something? Anyone who has seen this feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but… they’re cousins, right? Like, possibly first cousins? I know they don’t say what her exact relationship is to them through her mother but that’s a little weird! Anyway, I had no issues with any of her cousins. The young girl named Piper (who I found out is the voice of Peppa Pig after watching this. how did I not notice that? I hate Peppa Pig!) and a boy named Isaac are both very sweet but Eddie, the one Daisy falls in love with, doesn’t have much of a personality. I can’t help but feel that these two main characters are probably MUCH more developed in the book. I think the movie really doesn’t do a great job fleshing these two out so I may read the book now as I really liked the story. If they’d done a better job with the main characters, I think I’d have liked this movie a lot more than I did.

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Summary:

How I Live Now may be based on one of a myriad of “post-apocalyptic YA” novels but has a more serious & realistic approach and feels much more grown-up. I liked the tone of the film and found the soundtrack very interesting. Aside from Nick Drake, I’ve not heard of any of the artists on the soundtrack which is unusual for me – It’s cool to hear some songs I don’t already know in a movie. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t very well developed & I didn’t feel like I knew anything more about Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy at the end of the film than I did at the beginning. I think it would be worth reading the book first to really understand Daisy’s feelings & motivations. It’s a good story overall but I’m thinking it just didn’t fully translate to film. If it sounds like something you might like, I’m going to recommend reading the book first even though I have yet to read it myself. I just think it’s likely you’ll get to know far more about the characters than you do in the movie.

My Review: 6.5/10

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Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014) Review

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Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014)

Directed by Shawn Levy

Starring:
Ben Stiller
Robin Williams
Owen Wilson
Steve Coogan
Dan Stevens
Ben Kingsley
Rebel Wilson

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The things in a museum come to life every night. For the third time. But in London this time!

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My Opinion:

Well, I had nothing ready to post for today so here’s a quickie! I saw this just after Christmas but never got around to reviewing it. What can I say? I actually quite like these Night At The Museum movies. As far as “family” movies go, anyway, I think they’re far more enjoyable than some of the other terrible “family” films these days that maybe only one member of the family actually enjoys. I still say they don’t make good non-animated movies for the whole family like they used to (such as Big. I miss things like Big!) but the Night At The Museum movies are a step in the right direction.

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Secret Of The Tomb is, of course, not as good as the first film but is at least better than the second one. I thought the second film was the weakest of the trilogy & went overboard on making so many exhibits come to life that the movie ended up a bit of a mess. It also forgot to focus on the main characters that we liked so much from the first movie so, in Secret Of The Tomb, they don’t make the same mistake again & they give us lots of time with our main favorites while adding only a few interesting new ones.

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I’m really not a fan of Ben Stiller at ALL but I don’t mind him in this series. There’s a “Neanderthal” version of him in this one which I found pretty stupid but I’m sure he was a hit with the kids who saw this. Owen Wilson & Steve Coogan once again make a fun duo and that damn monkey is just as lovable/hateful as always. Rebel Wilson does a great job playing “Rebel Wilson as a security guard” (she’s a love her or hate her – I’m pretty sure I don’t love her) and Dan Stevens from that movie The Guest that everyone goes on about plays the biggest new addition, Sir Lancelot. We even get to briefly see Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs & Mickey Rooney once again – love those guys! It was bittersweet seeing Rooney again but it just plain heartbreaking seeing Robin Williams, whose character I’ve always felt is the best thing about the Night At The Museum films. It was hard to not get teary-eyed over his final line in the film. SPOILER WARNING – this was the line:
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His final line, spoken to Ben Stiller, is: “Smile, my boy. It’s sunrise.” Which, if you’ve seen the movies, you know that means day has come & the exhibits will no longer be “alive” so he goes back to being a wax figure after speaking this line. So perfect but so sad.

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Summary:

There’s not much else I can say about Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb other than that it’s an enjoyable film for the whole family. Some of the humor is a little silly but that’s to be expected from a family film – I still had plenty of fun watching it as an adult. Possibly the best thing about these movies, however, is that I think they’ve made plenty of kids interested in visiting museums & learning more about history. What did I do about a week after seeing this? I of course ended up making a trip into London to visit The British Museum where we were told we weren’t the first ones to ask if they actually had the big nine-headed snake thing from the movie (they don’t). However, they DO have the cute little dude in my below photo (Garuda). 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Here’s a good link to check out if you plan on watching this movie then taking your kids to The British Museum: A Night At The Museum – Fact Vs Fiction

Porco Rosso (1992) Review

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Porco Rosso (1992)
Kurenai no Buta
Japanese: 紅の豚

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Shūichirō Moriyama
Tokiko Kato
Akemi Okamura
Akio Ōtsuka

(English Dub Voice Cast: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Susan Egan, Brad Garrett, David Ogden Stiers, Kimberly Williams-Paisley)

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot revolves around an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing “air pirates” in the Adriatic Sea. However, an unusual curse has transformed him to an anthropomorphic pig. Once called Marco Pagot (Marco Rousolini in the American version), he is now known to the world as “Porco Rosso”, Italian for “Red Pig”.

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My Opinion:

Version watched: English dubbed version

I’m sorry but I have to use the word “odd” again in a Studio Ghibli review. Maybe I should buy a thesaurus. Hey, does anyone own an actual dictionary or thesaurus anymore? You can just Google everything. I think back to when I was a kid & had a set of encyclopedias… Bet no one buys those anymore! Anyway, Porco Rosso is bizarre. There, I didn’t use the word “odd”!

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First of all, I admit to only seeing the English dubbed version of this as it was on TV and I know I NEVER enjoy those as much as the subtitled versions so, therefore, I’ll probably be a little more harsh on this movie than it deserves. This is one of the “not for kids” Ghibli films. It’s hard to know who it’s aimed at… I’d say it’s the most “adult male” one I’ve seen so far. As I’m not male & really not at all interested in WWI flying aces (other than Snoopy), this movie didn’t speak to me the way other Ghibli movies have. It has quite a high IMDB rating & I’m sure plenty of people like this one. It’s just my least favorite of the Miyazaki-directed Ghiblis (I only have one left to watch – The Wind Rises. Will be interesting to see how that compares as that’s about a man who designed Japanese planes for WWII).

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Porco Rosso, at least in the dubbed version, is a “manly” man (manly pig? pigly man?). He’s a womanizer & comes across as a bit sexist. He’s voiced by Michael Keaton so it was strange watching this just after seeing Birdman. The voice Keaton uses for Porco Rosso is fairly close to his smart ass superhero “Birdman” voice. There’s a woman who is in love with his character then there’s later a 17-year-old girl who also seems very fond of him (as he seems to be of her). I won’t pretend I didn’t find that a little disturbing. Especially when the girl’s grandfather says something like “keep your hands off my granddaughter” & Porco says “just looking at her makes me tired”. Er… What a pig! 😉

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The 17-year-old girl in this, however, is another strong female Ghibli character. She’s an engineer & helps fix Porco Rosso’s plane. I think a big part of the reason I like Studio Ghibli films so much is because of the great female characters so I’m glad we got a decent one in this movie as well. She’s not the main character but she does help make up a bit for Porco’s somewhat sexist & unlikable ways and kind of brings out the best in him by the end.

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Summary:

What can I say? Porco Rosso just wasn’t really my sort of thing. I respect it in the way I do all the Studio Ghibli films but just didn’t love it in the same way I do most of the other Ghiblis. It’s definitely a more adult one and aimed more at males. It’s certainly not a bad film & still a lot better than most movies out there. I wouldn’t recommend it as someone’s introduction to Studio Ghibli but it’s definitely worth a watch for those who are already Ghibli fans. Sorry for the quick & rubbish review but I’m off to see Ex Machina right now – that seems more “me”. 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Big Eyes (2014) Review

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Big Eyes (2014)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring:
Amy Adams
Christoph Waltz
Danny Huston
Jon Polito
Krysten Ritter
Jason Schwartzman
Terence Stamp

Running time: 106 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film focuses on American artist Margaret Keane (Adams), whose work was fraudulently claimed in the 1950s and 1960s by her then-husband, Walter Keane (Waltz), and their heated divorce trial after Margaret accused Walter of stealing credit for her paintings.

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My Opinion:

Tim Burton. Oh Tim Burton. Remember when you made stuff like Edward Scissorhands? Remember how awesome that movie was?! What the hell happened?

Okay, we all know how disappointing Tim Burton’s films have become in recent years. Is Big Eyes a return to Burton’s glory days? Unfortunately not. But at least it’s better than things like Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland. Burton plays it safe with Big Eyes – he just tells an interesting story in a straightforward way (except for a brief bit that looks like Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun video but that was to be expected, really, based on the look of Margaret Keane’s “big eye” paintings). It’s not exactly going to be anyone’s all-time favorite movie as it doesn’t have the originality or magic of things like Edward Scissorhands or The Nightmare Before Christmas but it’s a decent enough look at an artist’s real life story.

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I feel like I say this with every “true story” movie but I knew nothing about the story of Margaret Keane beforehand. It’s a fascinating story and a reminder of how glad I am to not have been a woman living in the 1950s or 60s. Amy Adams does a good job & is the highlight of the film. I’d heard some negative things about Christoph Waltz in this and was hoping they weren’t true as I thought he was amazing in Django Unchained. Maybe he’s only at his best when working with Tarantino? Maybe the role in Big Eyes just wasn’t quite right for him? Maybe it’s just because the character of Walter Keane is SUCH an unlikable prick and watching him control his wife and take credit for her work is uncomfortable to watch? I don’t know but, unfortunately, I didn’t like Christoph Waltz in this role.

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Honestly, I can’t think of anything else to say about this movie. Other than: Is it me, or does Amy Adams have a hairy face? In a couple scenes where the light was shining on her chin, she seemed to have tiny whiskers. Where am I going with this review?? Sorry! I have a massive headache & my mind is elsewhere. I’ve decided no one actually reads these reviews anyway, right? I think people just scroll to the rating. 😉 Meh. This movie is fine. The story is interesting. I’ll never watch it again. Those paintings are weird.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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I haven’t done one of these in ages – Here’s a Tim Burton Haiku:

Edward Scissorhands!
Then Willy Wonka remake?
Why, Tim Burton, Why?!

I was totally distracted while writing this review so I texted my hubby my shitty Tim Burton haiku. He went a little haiku crazy & texted these back to me. Yeah, these are the important kinds of conversations we have with each other… 😉

Beetlejuice PeeWee
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Need more like these, Tim

What mischief follows
Beetlejuice beetlejuice bee…
Just fuckin’ with ya.. ;-p

His muses depart
Helena Bonham Carter
And Lisa Marie

Birds nest for hairdo
Gothic daydreams his playground
Don’t keep using Depp

Interstellar (2014) Review

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****SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (but slightly bitchy…)****

Interstellar (2014)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring:
Matthew McConaughey
Anne Hathaway
Jessica Chastain
Michael Caine
Bill Irwin
Ellen Burstyn

Running time: 169 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

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My Opinion:

I’ve avoided reading the many reviews of Interstellar here on WordPress because I really didn’t want to know a single thing beforehand. As there are so many (much better) reviews out there, I’ll keep this super short and instead go & read all your reviews when I get a chance. Besides – the more I talk about Interstellar, the more annoyed you’ll probably all get with me. So I’ll just say this: I was underwhelmed. I was bored at times. And, by the end, it kind of just left me feeling empty (well, except for my bladder).

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Okay – I’ll say a little more because I’m sure you all want to hear me once again complain about a movie. Right?! 😉 Most who actually read my reviews know by now that I’m of the 70’s & 80’s generation and the majority of my favorite movies are from those two decades. I like plenty of current movies (you can see a ranked list of everything I’ve watched in 2014 HERE and see that I’ve given several movies a rating of 8 or higher). So this isn’t just age talking. No, wait… It IS age talking. I’ve been around a long time now and I’ve seen a lot of truly excellent films. Christopher Nolan is a very good director. I realize that he’s sort of like the “Steven Spielberg” for a generation below mine. For me, though, he’s only made one film so far that I’ve truly loved and it’s not The Dark Knight and certainly not Inception (it’s The Prestige). Other than that one, I wouldn’t watch his films over and over again like the way I have with plenty of Spielberg’s films. I think he’s done a great job with the movies he’s directed but, unfortunately, I think maybe Interstellar was a little too ambitious and comes up very short when compared to sci-fi classics.

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Science fiction! It’s something my little brain never fully understands (WTF is a wormhole anyway?) but I absolutely LOVE the genre above all others when it comes to entertainment so I was of course not going to miss this epic space movie. However, I’m also going to be far more picky than some. We have some TRULY classic sci-fi films and I wanted this to be another one. Maybe my expectations were just too high? However, I really had no issues with Gravity. I even ended up thinking Edge Of Tomorrow was far better than I’d ever expected it to be. I think, more than anything, the “human drama” element to Interstellar didn’t fully work. There were definitely some good performances but, overall, it all felt a little shallow and I never really connected with anyone. The “space stuff” (sorry – I hope I don’t lose anyone with my big technical terms!) was fine although, again, I had even less of a connection with the humans in space than I did with those on Earth. It all looked pretty but I wouldn’t say it’s the most visually stunning film I’ve ever seen. The first half of the film dragged and I just wanted them to get the hell up into space. But then even that didn’t live up to my expectations.

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You know what? I’m going nowhere with this review & these days I get maybe 20 minutes to write them. Plus I said I’d keep it short but as always I just blabbed & blabbed! I’m sorry I’ve not been able to put it into better words but, hey – I was just a little disappointed. That’s all. I like what I like and I’m always completely honest here. Hopefully some of my regulars will know I’ve written enough extremely positive reviews of movies I’ve loved to know that I’m not just trying to be difficult as I know some get a little over sensitive about opinions. The Prestige?? I love it. That’s a 9/10 for me. Interstellar is okay. I know Nolan-worshippers won’t have a bad thing to say about it and I do still recommend it to his fans and, well – to everyone, really. It IS worth a watch on a big screen. It just didn’t quite work for me personally and I’d now rather re-watch a sci-fi classic or something like The Right Stuff, which is one I’ve been meaning to watch for years. Ultimately, Interstellar tries too hard to be Spielberg with the human drama and Kubrick with the rest but never comes close to achieving the greatness those two directors have when they’ve been at their best. I think more focus on either one or the other would have actually made this a better film overall but instead both elements kind of fail.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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***Not that anyone is still reading this now that I’ve given a Christopher Nolan film less than an 8 but these are some great sci-fi films & I’d highly recommend them to fans of the genre (the extremely obvious as well as some that are less so). I’d be happy if at least one person gave one of these movies a shot after watching Interstellar (or, better yet, before!). 🙂 And I’d happily take some recommendations as well as there are still plenty I haven’t seen, such as The Right Stuff & the original Solaris or most things from before the 70’s:

In no particular order:

2001: A Space Odyssey
Silent Running
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Star Wars (original trilogy)
Alien & Aliens
They Live
The Thing
Enemy Mine
Moon
Sunshine
WALL-E
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Predator
Planet Of The Apes
Back To The Future
The Last Starfighter
Dark Star
Blade Runner (I’ve just lost Brian!)
The Terminator 1 & 2
Death Race 2000
TRON
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Fahrenheit 451
D.A.R.Y.L. (I’ve just lost the rest of you!)
HARDWARE (I had to include it) 😉
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Because… David Bowie!)

That took ages. I’ll stop there although I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. A few of these movies are definitely not as good as Interstellar. However, I enjoyed them all more…

Dead Snow (2009) Review

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Dead Snow (2009) (Norwegian: Død snø)

Directed by Tommy Wirkola

Starring:
Vegar Hoel
Stig Frode Henriksen
Charlotte Frogner
Lasse Valdal
Evy Kasseth Røsten
Jeppe Laursen
Jenny Skavlan
Ane Dahl Torp
Bjørn Sundquist
Ørjan Gamst

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Dead Snow is a 2009 Norwegian zombie splatter film that centers on a group of students surviving a Nazi zombie attack in the mountains of Norway.

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My Opinion:

This is my second favorite Norwegian movie of all-time after Troll Hunter! (Okay – they’re the only Norwegian movies I’ve seen). This is also the third zombie comedy I’m reviewing for my month of horror movie reviews (that I totally flaked out on and stopped posting for a week). I liked Dead Snow much more than Life After Beth but, while I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much The Return Of The Living Dead, I did like it and thought it showed a lot of promise. I’ve heard some pretty positive things about the sequel and am not surprised as I thought this was a great concept that didn’t quite work overall but could possibly be improved upon in a sequel. I’ll have to check that out at some point.

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What does work is, as I said, the concept. Nazi zombies! Why did no one think to do that sooner? Or HAS it been done before? Not that I can think of. A lot of reviews have also mentioned the look of the blood on all that white snow and it did make for a great look to the film. Also, the characters are decent. At least, as far as horror movie characters go, a few of them are fairly well developed. There’s a great “movie nerd” guy who keeps talking about & quoting movies throughout the film so that was fun for a geek like me. And guess what? Slight spoiler, but… He’s the one who gets laid! So there may still be hope for movie geeks (maybe even Mike?). 😉

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I think what didn’t work quite as well as I’d been hoping was the comedy. The movie takes itself slightly more seriously than I was expecting and a couple scenes felt a little too dramatic for a comedy. The pacing was a little off as well as it seemed too slow at first then suddenly gets pretty mental at the end. These aren’t huge complaints, though, as I still thought it was pretty good. I think I’m just trying to figure out why I didn’t like it QUITE as much as I should have as it’s my type of thing and all the elements are there for it to potentially be great. I think they could have upped the comedy more and been a little more silly and made it a bit more “fun”. It sounds like this may be the case in the sequel?

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Summary:

If you’re looking for comedy horror, I’d recommend Tucker & Dale Vs Evil or Grabbers instead as they were just loads of fun. If you specifically like zombie movies, though, I think you’d be perfectly happy with this as a zombie comedy as well as just a zombie movie. The gore gets fairly excessive at the end so that should keep zombie fans happy. It’s not as funny as The Return Of The Living Dead but there were a few unexpected laughs and the characters are more well developed and likable than a lot of horror movie characters manage to be. The movie doesn’t quite reach its potential but it’s still a pretty good effort. However, I can’t believe that girl sucked that guy’s finger just after he’d done a poo & wiped himself and hadn’t yet washed his hands!!!!! That’s just nasty.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Host (2006) Review

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The Host (2006) (Goemul)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Starring:
Song Kang-ho
Byun Hee-bong
Park Hae-il
Bae Doona
Go Ah-sung

Running time: 119 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Host is a 2006 South Korean monster film. The movie concerns a monster kidnapping a man’s daughter, and his attempts to rescue her. According to the director, his inspiration came from a local article about a deformed fish with an S-shaped spine caught in Han River.

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My Opinion:

I watched this a while back but hadn’t reviewed it as I wasn’t sure what to say about it. I’d been wanting to see it for ages as I thought it looked really good and it’s had a lot of positive reviews. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it although I know it’s quite a “good” film. I definitely preferred A Tale Of Two Sisters, another South Korean horror movie I watched more recently.

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The Host is actually a political satire but I’m not going to pretend to have a lot of knowledge about that or attempt to discuss that aspect of it – you’d be able to find better discussions of that online. I’ll just talk about what I thought of it as a “monster movie”, which is the reason I watched it. As a monster movie, I thought it was pretty good! I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by showing pictures of the monster as this isn’t one of those movies where you hardly see the monster – you see it a lot and it looks good so I was happy about that.

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The movie also had a great and very promising start. We get to know the main characters pretty well straight away and I immediately liked the young girl and the relationship with her father. The father is… Simple? Slow? Maybe just really immature? You don’t at first realize he’s the girl’s father as she’s the mature and responsible one and seems to be the one taking care of HIM. They’re very sweet together, though, and it’s a shame we don’t get to see a little more of them together at the beginning before she’s kidnapped by the monster (not a spoiler – the movie is about her kidnapping and her family’s attempt to then rescue her). I was back & forth on how I felt about the father. At times you feel for him as he’s sweet and childlike and clearly loves his daughter but the stupid things he does throughout the movie get a bit frustrating. I liked his father, who was always standing up for his son, but his brother and sister felt a bit wasted in this movie (especially the archery champion sister). It’s unfortunate that this bickering bunch get much more screen time than the young girl, who was by far the best character (in my opinion anyway).

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I’m not sure what else to say. The girl is great, I loved her relationship with her father, the monster looked good, and the opening of the film was very promising with good character development and an exciting scene when the monster appears and wreaks havoc before kidnapping the girl. It falls apart in the middle, however, as we watch the family search for the girl. The other characters were just far less interesting than the girl and their bickering and stupidity was a little annoying at times. Also, I really didn’t like how this movie ended (obviously I won’t give that away but I don’t mean the very final scene – that was good and I liked it a lot). It’s hard to know how to rate this as I think it IS a good movie and I’d recommend it if you like monster movies and/or foreign horror films. I really liked the beginning but found myself a little bored until the ending that I didn’t find very satisfying. Good monster movie with characters that are well-developed (for a horror movie) but definitely flawed in the middle.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Unforgiven (1992) IMDB Top 250 Review

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Unforgiven (1992)

IMDB Rank: 93 out of 250

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring:
Clint Eastwood
Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman
Richard Harris
Frances Fisher

Running time: 131 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had turned to farming. A dark Western that deals frankly with the uglier aspects of violence and how easily complicated truths are distorted into simplistic myths about the Old West.

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My Opinion:

I always thought this was a cool Metallica video…

Hey – It’s me! Finally doing another IMDB Top 250 review myself. And I’m here with another WESTERN! Ugh. The two things I’d been dreading most from the Top 250: War movies & Westerns. Well, the war movies have turned out to be really good (The Bridge On The River Kwai & The Great Escape being my favorites). I’ve only reviewed two Westerns so far and…. they were pretty damn good as well! (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and especially Once Upon A Time In The West, which I liked quite a bit and will keep comparing to Unforgiven throughout this review). So, is Unforgiven as good as these? Umm… No. It’s okay but I’m not sure if it should quite be up there with the classics.

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I’ll repeat, though, that this has never been a genre I’ve been into so I wasn’t as likely to enjoy it as much as some would. This is one that Eric of The IPC loves and he begged me to let him review it here but, unfortunately, I have to work through the Top 250 that I’ve never seen and review them myself. For a more positive review, you can read his HERE. (Plus he MAY be reviewing a Western classic on his site tomorrow that I enjoyed far more than Unforgiven). 😉

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I think what didn’t work for me here is that Unforgiven felt too “modern”. I have very little experience with Westerns but what I HAVE seen have all been from the 80’s or later (Back To The Future III & City Slickers are awesome! Lol). After seeing one Leone film, I’m thinking that spaghetti Westerns may be more my style & I’m actually looking forward to seeing more of them. Maybe I’ll prefer a young Clint Eastwood in something like The Good, The Bad & The Ugly? Once Upon A Time In The West just felt & looked so grand and epic (and, my god, that amazing SCORE…). I didn’t get that sort of feeling from Unforgiven although I’m sure the filmmaking was just as impressive (I won’t pretend to know anything about filmmaking). I don’t know. I admit that my mind wandered during both these Westerns (and I may have gotten bored and tweeted for a while) but Once Upon A Time In The West is the one that’s stuck with me more whereas I’m already struggling to remember much about Unforgiven and it’s only been a month since I watched it. Hmm.

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I’ll say that Clint Eastwood gives a good performance and I of course loved Morgan Freeman as always – I’d watch him in anything. Gene Hackman’s bad guy, though certainly a huge asshole, felt a little too one-dimensional to me. I’m also still a little confused as to what the point of the character played by Richard Harris was – it seemed an unnecessary role. As for everyone else, I don’t think any characters really stood out except for maybe Frances Fisher as a fairly feisty prostitute who wants the men who’ve hurt a fellow prostitute to pay for what they’ve done. Ah yes – prostitutes. Must be a Western! Seriously, is that all women were back then?!

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I was hoping to feel something more for the characters than I did. I did enjoy Eastwood & Freeman but didn’t QUITE feel a strong connection between them. As for the story, I found it a lot more simple than I was expecting. It’s pretty straight forward but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – I’ll admit I’m still not 100% sure what the hell was going on in Once Upon A Time In The West. However, certain images and scenes from that one have really stuck with me and I can’t say the same of Unforgiven.

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Summary:

I didn’t mean to sound so negative in this review. Unforgiven is a good movie. Odds are, I’ll never LOVE a Western – they just aren’t my thing. I do have a lot of respect for Clint Eastwood as a director and actor, however, and he’s done a good job with both here. I enjoyed his scenes with Freeman and thought the ending was good. If you’re a fan of Westerns but for some reason haven’t seen this one, I’d recommend it. My ratings, as always, are based mostly on my personal feelings about the movie. If I were to rate this on worthiness alone, it would be higher.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Just One Of The Guys (1985) Review

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Just One Of The Guys (1985)

Directed by Lisa Gottlieb

Starring:
Joyce Hyser
Clayton Rohner
Billy Jacoby
Toni Hudson
Billy Zabka
Sherilyn Fenn

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Terry (Joyce Hyser) is determined to win a school writing contest to prove that a pretty girl can be capable and intelligent. In order to be taken seriously, she dresses as a boy and tries to blend in at a new school until the contest results are announced.

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My Opinion:

I LOVE 80’s movies. I’ve probably seen 90% of them. Yet this one passed me by… Luckily, Netflix has a decent selection of dodgy 80’s movies. YES! So I finally checked this one out.

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First of all, it opens with the above image (and someone was clearly pervy enough to stick this still online). We then see plenty of the female lead in her underwear and in a bikini before she goes & chops off all her hair to look like a boy. But… She never straps those boobs down. They’re not small! Apparently no one notices them while she’s dressed as a guy.

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This movie has the opportunity to say something about gender stereotypes. Does it? Oh HELL no! Ha! In typical cheesy 80’s-movie-style, we see all male characters acting as sex-obsessed chauvinists. Billy Jacoby, the lead’s brother, is the worst. He spends the entire movie trying to get laid & has naked women all over his walls. I’ve never understood this – I remember walking into various dorm rooms in college and seeing guys who had naked girls plastered all over their walls was SUCH a turn-off! (Little tip there, guys). Anyway, Billy Jacoby was in lots of my teen movies so I was thoroughly confused when I looked this movie up as he’s now apparently called Billy Jayne. (Oh, but he looks pretty good in his current IMDB photo. Hmm…)

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(This is a picture of Jacoby showing his sister how to act like a guy by, um, adjusting her balls properly…)

Are guys all over the world REALLY as horny & pathetic as this movie makes it seem?! I don’t know… I do love how this movie acts like it’s making an important statement on sexism but has the lead parading around in her underwear & flashing her boobs. Gotta love the 80’s! By the way – there are loads of images and gifs of said flashing if you search online – I’m not posting that here! Sorry to disappoint you Eric, Brian, Mike & Seth… 😉

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I’m NOT saying I didn’t enjoy this cheesy & extremely predictable movie, however. As with all 80’s movies I didn’t manage to actually see in my youth, I won’t have a fond affection for this one as I didn’t grow up with it. But I ALWAYS feel a bit warm & fuzzy when watching a movie from the 80’s. I can’t help it! If I had a time machine, I’d totally go back to 1985 (but without a dodgy poodle-perm). Or… Maybe 1975. Anything would be better than these shitty times we live in now!

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I enjoyed this movie in all its 80’s cheesiness. I liked that, in the picture above, the girl was also in the movie April Fool’s Day, which I love more than I should, and the guy was the prick in The Karate Kid. I also loved that someone in this movie (it might have been Sherilyn Fenn’s character) said the lead girl looked like Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid while dressed as a guy (she totally did!).

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Summary:

This movie isn’t “good”. If you’re younger than me and didn’t grow up with 80’s movies, it’s very unlikely that you’ll enjoy this one. This is one of those films that, unfortunately, hasn’t aged well. When you think about it, this came out the same year as Back To The Future but that one can still be watched today and loved by new generations. I’d never ever recommend this movie to a younger generation but, if you’re my sort of age and missed out on seeing this one back in the 80’s, I think you’d enjoy it just fine.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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