Ghostbusters (2016) & Poltergeist (2015) Reviews

I guess it’s about time I do two pointless reviews of two pointless remakes (well, I suppose Ghostbusters is a reboot). Here we go! Get ready for some bitching…

Ghostbusters (2016)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on Ghostbusters by Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Chris Hemsworth

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

My Opinion:

To be fair, this isn’t the worst movie ever. I’m a bit of a snob about remakes & reboots & all that, though, so I’m normally a total bitch about them. Especially when they f*^k with my favorites from the Seventies & Eighties!! And the 1984 Ghostbusters is a classic. However, it’s one of those I’d always seen as a classic in my mind but hadn’t actually rewatched it in years. Until a couple of weeks ago. Um… Will I get in trouble for saying it hasn’t aged well? More than anything, I was surprised at how much I disliked Bill Murray’s “sexist in that 1980’s sort of way that we all just accepted as the norm back then” character and the way he hogged so much screen time. But I do like Murray. I’m also not exactly going to complain about some outdated values in the original as I’d be a total hypocrite since my favorite thing about the reboot was Chris Hemsworth being funny & hot. But mostly hot.

Ghostbusters 2016 was okay. I don’t remember a lot of it now as I find most comedy movies to be throwaway, forgettable entertainment. I’m not saying I don’t like comedy films – I just like a very small number of them as I’ve found so few of them to actually be funny (especially nowadays). But comedy is probably the most divisive genre, followed very closely by horror, so you’re never going to please everyone with a movie like this.

Was this movie so hated because it rebooted a beloved classic or because it starred women? It’s a combination of both. I get really angry myself anytime they try to remake/reboot one of my favorites but I also can’t imagine there having been quite as much uproar if this reboot had starred whatever male comedians happen to be big at the moment. Yes, I’m totally out of touch & can’t even name any… Also, don’t forget that things like Saturday Night Live & a lot of other US TV shows that these comedians often come from aren’t shown outside of America. British hubby often has to remind me of this, even though I’ve now not seen SNL in 15 years, so you have to realize that things like the original Ghostbusters were probably viewed differently outside the US where these actors weren’t already loved. Or hated – It can also work in a movie’s favor to have no prior knowledge of an actor’s work. I don’t know what my point is here?! I think it may be that, in this case, it worked slightly in my favor to not know much about these stars’ TV careers.

I’ve of course seen a few Melissa McCarthy & Kristen Wiig films and I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either of them. Wiig is a bit “meh” for me while I hated McCarthy at first but she’s kind of grown on me thanks to times when she’s been a little less “outrageous”. Okay okay – and thanks to her lip sync battle on Jimmy Fallon where she did Colors Of The Wind. My kid is obsessed with that – I’ve probably seen that YouTube video 20 times. That was funny. She may be growing on me but I still won’t be watching shit like Spy, etc. Wiig & McCarthy were both perfectly fine in this film, probably since they were more subdued. I know almost nothing about Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones and I found them fairly funny as well. Especially McKinnon, who I have seen in some SNL clips online. We do at least get to see some YouTube clips! Oh, and I love McCarthy as Sean Spicer.

Okay, I’m bored with this review. I didn’t hate this movie but it’s not “good” and is still just another completely pointless reboot. I think I’m just annoyed with society in general these days. I love Twitter but some days I go on there and think “What the FUCK is wrong with people?!?!?!” and wish we could go back to a time when we weren’t exposed to so much disgusting hatred on a daily basis. I mean, we knew lots of people were assholes in the Eighties but they didn’t provide us daily written proof. My point is this: this movie is a bit sucky & pointless but the anger was over the top. My further point is this: Bridesmaids has a 6.8 IMDb rating & The Hangover has a 7.8. I don’t like either movie as that sort of silly, gross-out comedy isn’t my type of thing. However, they’re both good examples of that specific genre and are very similar. So why is one a whole point higher than the other?! Hmm. I wonder. Especially as, if I had to say which is the better written film of the two and if I was forced to admit which one made me laugh a tiny bit, Bridesmaids wins hands down in both cases. So… Huh? Therefore, I’m giving Ghostbusters a point more than it deserves because 1) I think it’s been rated slightly too low overall because it starred women so, fuck it, I’ll up it a bit and 2) Chris Hemsworth in glasses is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.

My Rating: 6/10

**Also, I freaking loved Freaks And Geeks so guess I can’t hate Paul Feig too much…..

Poltergeist (2015)

Directed by Gil Kenan

Based on Poltergeist by Tobe Hooper & Steven Spielberg

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Jane Adams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.

My Opinion:

These were meant to be two quickie reviews but then I rambled on about Ghostbusters for ages so I’ll keep this quick: Poltergeist (2015) just plain sucks. No, it probably doesn’t help that I love the original Poltergeist (more than the original Ghostbusters) but, holy shit – let’s just take an absolute horror classic and water it down and make it boring as shit and just plain suck the fucking soul out of it!

This movie adds absolutely nothing new to the original. It’s just another standard, run-of-the-mill, predictable & forgettable PG-13 horror. And with a fucking weird final scene that I think is meant to be funny but feels totally tacked on & out of place. Just…. No. NO. Just stop. Just stop, Hollywood. Come up with some original fucking ideas. AND ALL OF US! STOP! We need to stop encouraging this shit. They keep making this shit because it makes money. We’re to blame! Oh, that’s right – Society sucks now. Fuck it! We deserve nothing better than Poltergeist (2015). Hell, it’s better than we deserve. We deserve to be forced to watch Battlefield Earth with our eyes propped open Clockwork-Orange-style until the day we all finally destroy each other.

My Rating: 4/10

**I’ve never actually seen Battlefield Earth. Also, if you want to see a great Sam Rockwell in something good, watch The Way Way Back. NOT THAT ANY OF US DESERVE IT!

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The Wailing (2016) & Green Room (2015) Reviews

I’m doing a double review again today. This time I’m reviewing South Korean horror The Wailing & Jeremy Saulnier’s ultra-violent Green Room, the follow-up to Blue Ruin. Here we go…

The Wailing (2016) (곡성, 哭聲, Gokseong)

Directed by Na Hong-jin

Starring: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.

My Opinion:

I was really excited about this film as there have been a lot of great South Korean horrors. A Tale Of Two Sisters, The Host, and the brilliant Train To Busan (which I plan to review on Halloween as it was my favorite horror movie this year. Well, that and It). Of those, I think The Wailing is probably my least favorite. However, it’s still a great horror film and far better than the majority of horror crap that Hollywood poops out.

The Wailing wasn’t at all what I expected from the synopsis of a “mysterious sickness”. I was thinking a zombie-like film or something bizarre & supernatural (which I love). I won’t say what it’s about but I’ll say it kind of ended up being a specific horror subgenre that’s a favorite of mine so I’m not sure why I didn’t love it. It did have an eerie atmosphere which worked really well to make it an unsettling film to be watching all by yourself late at night (which was how I watched it). The elements are all there to make it a fantastic horror movie and I did enjoy it but it’s unlikely to be one I’d watch again, especially with its 2 hour 36 minute running time.


Sorry – this is a short review and I doubt I’ve managed to sell this film to anyone even though it’s one of the better horror movies I watched this year. I think it’s because it’s a hard movie to explain and I found the story a bit muddled, which didn’t help. I also found myself not really caring about the characters, which was a shame as the other South Korean horrors I’ve seen (especially Train To Busan) had fantastic characters. However, I do recommend The Wailing to fans of foreign horror as it’s one definitely worth watching. If you’re new to foreign horror, I’d say this wouldn’t be the one to start on & would probably recommend Train To Busan instead.

My Rating: 7/10

Green Room (2015)

Directed & Written by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Green Room focuses on a punk band who find themselves attacked by neo-Nazi skinheads after witnessing a murder at a remote club in the Pacific Northwest.

My Opinion:

First of all, I absolutely hated Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin (which I trashed HERE to the annoyance of some fans of the film). I’m happy to inform you that I liked Green Room much more Blue Ruin. Yay! But I still can’t exactly say I loved it & I certainly won’t be rushing out to see Saulnier’s next film, whatever that may be. Boo! (Sorry). It’s a shame, as I wish I could’ve added Green Room to my list of My Top Ten Color Movies. Not even close! Okay – I just looked up Saulnier’s upcoming projects. Not because I want to watch them but because I wanted to see if they have colors in the title. Pfft. Nope! What the hell? Now I’m annoyed.

Here are the things I liked about this movie: 1) That poster is actually really cool. That green one up there. I like it a lot. And green is my favorite color. 2) Anton Yelchin. Is it weird that I still almost want to cry when I see him in stuff? I liked Yelchin and I really liked him in this. 3) The setup. Punk band members witness a murder & end up trapped in the green room of this neo-Nazi skinhead club they’ve been booked to play at (not knowing that it was a neo-Nazi skinhead club). It was a bit of a weird plot but felt quite original. I must say that, when I watched this close to a year ago, I found the setting interesting but extremely far fetched. But, holy hell – maybe places like this actually DO exist in America?!?! Wow. I’m sheltered. Fucking scary shit. 4) The band were pretty cool, especially Yelchin & Alia Shawkat, and I felt quite stressed and wanted them to be able to get out of this crazy situation. 5) It’s an intense movie so I give credit to Saulnier for making a pretty edge-of-your-seat film. It’s not slow & boring like Blue Ruin. 6) Imogen Poots was okay as well, although that skinhead hairdo bothered me. It felt like I was watching This Is England (which I far preferred to Green Room). Kind of nice to see Poots & Yelchin together again after Fright Night.


Here are the things I didn’t like so much: 1) That Poots hairdo 2) Patrick Stewart. Oh noooooo! I love Stewart!!! Oh man, that’s twice that I’ve kind of trashed him this month (I really didn’t like him in Lifeforce but that movie truly sucked balls). He’s not awful in this but he’s just, I dunno… Meh. And I don’t want Captain Picard & Professor X to be a baddie. Ever. Okay? 3) The movie is just so damn violent. And depressing. I mean, I know life isn’t a Disney movie. But GEEZ. 4) I’m now further depressed after finding out that this may be a more accurate representation of modern day America than I thought 5) Anton Yelchin’s poor arm!!!! Holy shit! That was nasty & unnecessary! 6) I just need to add this once more: This movie is just too violent. No thank you. Not for me.

Green Room is a good film if you like strong violence and some very intense scenes. I didn’t hate the movie but it’s just not really my type of thing. If it’s your type of thing, I can see why you’d probably like this one a lot.

My Rating: 6/10

Mother! (2017) Review

Mother! (2017)

Directed & Written by Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a young woman whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple.

My Opinion:

Okay, I wasn’t going to go to this since I can’t say I’ve ever exactly loved a Darren Aronofsky movie. But I do like some f*^ked up shit and this looked like it was probably some f*^ked up shit, so… I went after a crappy day at work to “unwind”. So relaxing. 😉 Mainly, I’m annoyed that I paid full price. This is why I only go on cheap day or to a non-chain cheap cinema! One ticket & small nachos? Just under £15. Seriously?! F*^k off! Anyway – I didn’t hate this but should’ve waited for Netflix.

I’m curious where I’d rank this against all the Aronofsky films I’ve seen. Okay – I’m gonna do it! “Favorite” to least favorite (although I love none of them):

The Wrestler
Black Swan
Requiem For A Dream
Mother!
Pi

Well, I guess Mother! is pretty low (and I must admit I remember zero of Pi now other than the ending). I know Aronofsky likes his allegories & his symbolism and all that stuff that people either love or call pretentious bullshit. I think the most annoying thing about Mother! is that it’s just far too blatant this time.

I honestly don’t know what to write about this one. I think it may shock some people but, hey – it’s an Aronofsky film. He still doesn’t come anywhere near David Cronenberg when it comes to f*^ked up shit (I love Cronenberg’s older films). I do kind of love it when people who aren’t full-on movie geeks (like us weirdo bloggers) do zero research into what a movie is about & end up going to something like THIS knowing nothing other than that they like the stars in it or the look of the poster or whatever. I’d love to see their reactions to this one! Mother! is the kind of film you’d recommend to a mainstream movie lover who you hate just to piss them off and make them think you may be a complete psycho for recommending it, therefore hopefully resulting in them never talking to you again. Hmm. I like that description. That should be on the movie’s poster.

For me, I actually didn’t hate Mother! I thought the first half of the movie was pretty good. I liked its atmosphere & the way the floorboards creaked and how this lovely old house felt alive (as it’s meant to feel). It was like a rather straightforward haunted house thriller to begin with. But, of course, it’s an Aronofsky film so it’s nothing of the sort. Lawrence’s slow descent into madness was done well and I do think she’s a very good actress despite the fact that people seem to be growing to dislike her in real life. You really can’t fault her performance here, although Portman did it better in Black Swan (but Portman also had a much better script to work with). Her hair was awesome, too. Although I assume it was a wig? It was super long. I want pretty braids like that. As for Javier Bardem, Ed Harris & Michelle Pfeiffer? A bit weak, to be honest. Well, Pfeiffer was okay (was glad she was in this – I’m a fan). Again, though, I think that’s more the fault of the material they had to work with.

My biggest problem with the film was the f*^ked up shit I was so looking forward to and which took ages to finally happen. The f*^ked up shit is what I was waiting for! It’s like the movie Society – I kind of love it but it’s an AWFUL film. It’s just that last half hour or so that I love. Now that’s some f*^ked up shit! In Mother!, however, I ended up more bored than shocked at the end. And, let’s face it – we all know it’s an allegory so it’s not like these things are actually happening to these characters. Well, it’s actually happening in real life to what Lawrence’s character represents. But… Yeah. I dunno. Maybe Aronofsky thinks he might save the planet with the movie’s message but I think we’re doomed anyway so maybe we are all better off watching fun, mainstream blockbusters with no “hidden” message?!

I’d like this movie more if the crazy ass shit at the end hadn’t gone on and on and on and on. And on. And on. And on. And on. It wasn’t the content itself that bothered me, it was that it felt like that final act would never end. I got out of the movie & wondered if I’d been sat there for three hours and was annoyed I hadn’t checked the length beforehand (it’s only 121 minutes). I’m also still annoyed that I paid full price for this movie and that the cheese that came with the nachos was disgusting.

My Rating: 6/10

Oh! I forgot to add that, as far as pretentious shit goes, at least this movie was better than The Neon Demon. I hated that with a passion. Mother! was just… Meh. Which isn’t what I expected. Also, Clint Mansell didn’t do the score for this Aronofsky film. What a shame – it may have helped. His Requiem For A Dream score is a damn masterpiece. Let’s have a listen…

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988) Blind Spot Review

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton, David Bowie

Music by Peter Gabriel

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short & I’ll be totally honest – The Last Temptation Of Christ was on my 2017 Blind Spot list mainly because I wanted to see David Bowie’s role in it. So now I can say I have! All five minutes (at most) of it, toward the end of the 2 hour & 44 minute film. I suppose I also wanted to add another Martin Scorsese film to my ranked list of his films that I’ve seen (it doesn’t quite make it into the top ten, out of the 12 I’ve seen, nor does it make the list of My Top Ten Harry Dean Stanton Movies). Not gonna lie – out of almost a year & a half of doing this Blind Spot thing, this film is easily my least favorite & was the biggest struggle to work my way through.

I won’t get into the film’s story and religious beliefs. I watched this because I’m a film fan & it’s a movie by a very respected director with some big name stars (and because: David Bowie). No, “biblical dramas” are not at all the type of genre I go for (give me sci-fi) so that wasn’t going to help but it’s definitely overlong and it didn’t feel as, I don’t know… As well put together as most of Scorsese’s other work? I know nothing about filmmaking but this just isn’t up there with the likes of something like Goodfellas (also a genre that’s not at all my type of thing but a good film is a good film, whatever the genre). Not that this isn’t a good film… It must be a decent piece of filmmaking considering that Scorsese was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for it, the film’s one & only nomination. Hmm. It’s very hard to review respected films that just really didn’t speak to you personally! That’s why I’m keeping this very short for a Blind Spot review. I’d love to instead hear from fellow bloggers who, unlike me, have strong opinions one way or another about this film. I do know it was & still is very controversial & hated by some while there are others who think it’s another Scorsese masterpiece.

The acting is solid and Dafoe does a good job but I also felt that the acting let the film down a bit. I didn’t think “Wow – so-and-so was brilliant in this film!” the way I’ve thought some of the actors were pretty amazing in the majority of Scorsese’s other films. Some felt very miscast (Keitel) while some are actors I’ve never been particularly impressed with (Hershey). Okay okay – and my beloved Bowie! I fully admit that acting was never his biggest talent… 😉 However, he did okay in his very small role & didn’t feel as out of place as some of those in larger roles. Harry Dean Stanton was a highlight, though – he’s such an underrated actor.

Overall, I’m sorry to say that this is one of those films that I won’t remember much of a year or so from now. There weren’t really any specific scenes that stood out in my mind (we all know the story already anyway so I saw pretty much exactly what I expected, although this is a somewhat alternative version). I was especially disappointed that the acting didn’t stand out for me and it seriously felt even longer than it already was, especially at the end when we’re given a long look at an alternative life for Jesus? Sorry. I didn’t love it. It’s not a bad film but I’d only recommend it to those interested in religious dramas or to serious Martin Scorsese fans who want to see all he’s done. Ugh. I feel like a bad blogger for not loving a Scorsese film.

My Rating: 6/10

Only I would review The Last Temptation Of Christ & Smurfs: The Lost Village in the same week… Have a nice weekend, everyone!

The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Directed & Written by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum

Narrated by Quentin Tarantino

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

My Opinion:

Yesterday I reviewed Jackie Brown as part of my 2017 Blind Spot Series & for Quentin Tarantino’s 54th birthday. In that review, I talked a bit about my disappointment over The Hateful Eight. It was hard to not compare the two films as I watched them almost back to back but it made me appreciate Jackie Brown even more and made me realize, in comparison, just how overblown The Hateful Eight is.

I already went on about this movie in yesterday’s review so I’ll keep this one short: The Hateful Eight is easily my least favorite Tarantino film (I’ve ranked them all HERE). It’s not a horrible film but he’s clearly believing his own hype too much & needs to return to the simplicity of a really good script as in things like Reservoir Dogs. His films have been getting more & more over the top and this one finally went fully overboard. It’s one thing to be over the top but another to be so dragged out & rather unenjoyable, which is something that I can’t say of any of his other films.

Okay – I’ll try to say some good things about this movie. Well, the best thing about it is Ennio Morricone’s score (but I’ll come back to that). The two main reasons I watched this were for Morricone and to see Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Oscar-nominated performance since I’m a fan of hers (plus to be able to say I’ve seen all of Tarantino’s films, I suppose). The clue is in the title and all these characters are indeed hateful (which isn’t going to make it easy to like a movie very much) but Leigh was great & her character was the one I enjoyed watching the most. I’m glad she got the recognition for this role as the movie itself lets its talented actors & composer down. Samuel L Jackson & Kurt Russell were also very good (although Jackson was, once again, his over-the-top Tarantino self) but no one else in the cast really stood out compared to these three. The other characters were extremely weak for a Tarantino film – he usually manages to make even the smallest characters in a film interesting. Maybe it should’ve just been The Hateful Three. But that’s a shit title. Did he come up with the title first & then had to write in five extra boring characters? Ah ha! That must be what happened. Plus, I think there were actually more than eight so he’s full of shit (you don’t count, Channing Tatum! The Hateful Nine isn’t a good title).


But back to Ennio Morricone. Morricone is a movie music God. Like I said in my Jackie Brown interview, the one thing Tarantino always does right in his movies is the music and I know he was overjoyed when he got Morricone to agree to score this (I want Morricone to score my whole life. That would be awesome). Is it Morricone’s best score ever? Well, no, but you can’t really top something like The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Yes, he probably won the Oscar for this mainly because the Academy realized they’d seriously f*^kd up in never giving him an Oscar (other than an honorary one) until now. I hadn’t even realized that beforehand – he’s someone you’d just assume already had one. Anyway! Here’s a good interview with Tarantino talking about how he got Morricone to do this score. Wow. Morricone is a true professional. It was a very last minute thing and Morricone did it in very little time & in a way he’s not used to usually working. Combined with unused parts of his score for The Thing, I can’t believe they managed to pull this all together so well in that length of time. Tarantino of course wants to use him again so just imagine what we’d get if Morricone is involved in the project from the very start. It gives me chills thinking about it. I just hope, if they do work together again, that the movie can live up to the score next time!

Oh. The cinematography was good too. There’s one more thing! The last & final good thing. The outdoor shots were quite beautiful and the opening, combined with Morricone’s score, was very good (I’ll post the opening scene below). Too bad the majority of the film is inside a dark, tiny cabin!!! To start out in a rather epic sort of way with this beautiful snowy landscape and to then end up stuck in a dark little cabin for what felt like far more than the 3 hour & 7 minute running time was so damn cruel. To us. Cruel to the audience. Never mind the characters! Although I suppose they would’ve frozen to death outside, so…

The Hateful Eight. It’s too damn long. It has a good score from a true master. It has three really good actors doing the best they can with a weak script. It’s pretty to look at when they’re actually outside that goddamn cabin. It’s violent as f^*k. It’s definitely a Tarantino film. I still like Tarantino’s films & I’ll still watch them all despite finding this one the most disappointing so far. To be fair, it could’ve been worse. But it could’ve been SO much better. And this review was meant to be short. Like Tarantino, I sometimes don’t know when enough is enough.

My Rating: 6/10

Beauty And The Beast (2017) Review

Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Directed by Bill Condon

Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson

Music by Alan Menken

Plot Synopsis: The same as the 1991 animated Disney film. Just watch the animated version instead if you haven’t already.

My Opinion:

Mehhhh…. I can’t be bothered to write much of a review for this movie. It’s a cash grab – we all know that. I can’t really trash Disney, though. I grew up on Disney films & I’ll always love Disney, even when they sell out. It doesn’t matter – the majority of film studios, actors & actresses, directors, etc etc, all sell out at some point. As long as Disney keep making some original & quality films alongside these pointless remakes & sequels, I can forgive some selling-out. But I’m sorry to say that this remake of Beauty And The Beast is indeed completely pointless.

I actually didn’t mind the live-action Cinderella (which I reviewed HERE). The kid watched that again recently & I still don’t mind it. At least it’s not a straight copy. I also enjoyed Maleficent quite a bit more than this as it felt somewhat original. With Beauty And The Beast copying everything, right down to giving us inferior versions of the fantastic songs from the original, I just don’t see the point. Okay – there were a few extra things added in storywise (and, I can’t remember now – one or maybe two new boring songs) that didn’t really enhance what was already a good & simple fairy tale.

Emma Watson: Wrong for the part. I’ve thought that since it was first announced that she would be Belle. She doesn’t do a horrible job but Hermoine as Belle was always going to be very distracting. Dan Stevens: Nope! Didn’t work. Plus he’s not hot enough (cartoon beast-turned-human was a babe). Kevin Kline: He was okay. Luke Evans: Actually, I guess he was pretty perfect as Gaston. Josh Gad: Not too bad – he was kind of fun but all I can hear is Olaf. Ewan McGregor: He did okay copying the original version of the character but the French accent was just confusing. Well, all the accents in this were confusing (but I suppose the same can be said of the original). Emma Thompson: Perfect casting but YOU CAN NEVER TOP ANGELA LANSBURY, dammit!!!! Chip was still cute, though. Just not as cute as animated Chip. But nothing in this topped the original in any way, so….

Whatever. It’s not a horrible movie. The CGI is decent. No, wait – I suppose the CGI actually quite good but we’re all spoiled these days & expect perfection. If you love the animated film, odds are that you’ll want to watch this at some point but I wouldn’t say you have to rush out to see it. If you haven’t seen the animated film for some reason, please just watch that first. Or instead. I’ll give this an extra half point since my kid seemed to enjoy it. I guess that’s all the really counts, right? 😉

My Rating: 6/10

Dope, Comet & Me And Earl And The Dying Girl Movie Reviews

Three mega quickies for three movies I watched last year. I have a lot of these old reviews to catch up on so I’m going to keep these threesomes short. Here we go!

Dope (2015)

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise, Chanel Iman, Tyga, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who’s surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.

My Opinion:

I couldn’t wait to see this and the hubby & I immediately watched it the second it turned up on Netflix (or whichever service it was) instead of our usual “What should we watch?” deliberation which goes on for so long that we could watch an entire movie in the time we spend deciding what to watch. Probably one of the biggest disappointments that I’ve watched recently, I enjoyed very little about the movie Dope other than the fantastic soundtrack (which was great but also more predictable than I was hoping for). I think I’m just finally getting too old for certain teenage/twentysomething shit? Especially the quirky “indie-type” ones that try too hard (the next two are even more guilty of that than Dope).

I didn’t exactly hate this movie but no matter how many great artists you use in a film (Public Enemy! A Tribe Called Quest! Eric B. & Rakim!) it can’t disguise the fact that the story is weak & silly and only a couple of characters are likable. Shameik Moore is easily the best thing about the movie (after the music) so at least there was one character I cared about. Zoë Kravitz is also a decent character (with a much smaller role than I thought she’d have). Unfortunately, everyone else is an obnoxious asshole and the two “funny” best friends just annoyed me. Also, I suppose I’m showing my age & small town hickness but the only teenage parties I knew in the Eighties were, to quote Heathers, “keggers with kids”. Give me cheap beer in a field & some cow tipping! I can’t relate to you kids & your weird drugs. Okay – I’ve never actually tipped a cow. That seems cruel. Skip this movie & buy the soundtrack if you don’t already know all the songs. BUY the soundtrack. With actual money. That’s also how we did things in the old days!

My Rating: 6/10

Comet (2014)

Directed & Written by Sam Esmail

Starring: Emmy Rossum & Justin Long

Plot Synopsis: (from IMDB)
Set in a parallel universe, Comet bounces back and forth over the course of an unlikely but perfectly paired couple’s six-year relationship.

My Opinion:

What a load of pretentious bullshit. Feel free to give this one a go if you want to spend an hour & a half watching millennials whining about their first world relationship problems. Oh! And if you like that sort of thing, you’re really in for a treat since we get to see this couple whining in several slightly different scenarios since their relationship is shown in alternate realities. So clever!

I admit that I fell for the “parallel universe” thing in the synopsis so I put this on since I’m a sci-fi nerd. Don’t be fooled like I was! AVOID!!!!!! Do yourself a favor and go watch Arrival if you’re wanting a proper sci-fi drama. Or go watch anything other than this. Hell, just go watch a Nicholas Sparks movie if you’re wanting a bullshit melodramatic romance. At least you know what you’re gonna get with Nicholas Sparks movies since they don’t pretend to be anything other than silly & predictable. Hell, at least Nicholas Sparks characters usually have some goddamn chemistry unlike the two boring fuckers in Comet. And, most importantly, Nicholas Sparks movies know they’re stupid. Comet thinks it’s smart. You’re not smart just because you throw a “parallel universe” angle into a film to try to make it less boring. Comet is just a Nicholas Sparks movie minus any chemistry whatsoever between the characters and minus any good sex scenes.

My Rating: 4/10

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl (2015)

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Based on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Connie Britton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

My Opinion:

I’m sorry this threesome is turning into a bitchathon. I’m also sorry to say that I was very disappointed with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. But, this time, I’m not exactly sure why since this is the type of movie that’s usually my sort of thing.

I like plenty of indie movies (whether they’re the true definition of indie or just the hundreds of wannabe indies nowadays – I’m too lazy to look into whether this was an actual independent film or not). But they can either be brilliant or they can cross that line into pretentious bullshit (like the movie Comet, which stays over that line the entire time). I think the problem with MAEATDG (stupid long title) is that it crosses that line just a little too much for me to have truly bought into it. It tries just a little too hard to be unique. And, once again, I found that I just didn’t like the characters very much. Why is it so difficult to make likable or, at least, interesting and/or memorable characters? With the sad setup to this story, I expected to feel at least a slight emotional attachment to someone. At least the dying girl, right?? We didn’t seem to get to know her well – we mostly spent time with the mopey boy who’s at first pretty much forced to befriend her when she’s diagnosed with cancer. We did have the added bonus of the two boys making amateur films, which is a big YES to us movie nerds watching. It was indeed fun to see bits & pieces of their spoofs of classic films but it didn’t make up for the fact that I didn’t really care about anyone and just found the film surprisingly slow & unengaging. There’s a slight redemption at the end as I liked the presentation of the final film made by our main character and the overall movie itself ended well (as in, it ended how I expected it to and I think it was handled well). MAEATDG was certainly not a bad film. I have respect for everyone involved in its making & can understand why it would have fans. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it just didn’t resonate with me. And I actually feel kind of bad about that! I’m sorry I didn’t like it that much.

My Rating: 6/10

Split (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (and meaningless rambling) REVIEW**

Split (2016)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Neal Huff

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies where I walked out of the cinema not entirely sure how I felt about it. At first, I mainly thought it was just okay. But the more I thought about it, the more I disliked it. Now, writing this a day after seeing it, I think my main feeling for Split is disappointment. I didn’t hate it. I certainly didn’t love it. A return to form for M. Night Shyamalan? Possibly. But it’s mainly a return to his ability to make movies I’m really interested in seeing as I love the setups and I do enjoy them when I’m in the middle of watching them but, thinking about them later on, I realize they’re not actually very good films (other than The Sixth Sense, to which I still remain faithful).

I think I feel quite similar about Split as I do The Visit (which I reviewed HERE), although they’re very different. I don’t think either is a horrible film and they’re indeed much better than some of M. Night’s huge stinkers in recent years but both are still extremely flawed, especially in their final acts. Split is probably the “better” film in that it’s played straight with some acting that’s of a higher standard than you expect in the horror genre while The Visit is so over-the-top silly that I’m still convinced it’s a horror comedy despite not being labelled as such. But I think Split has made me like The Visit a fraction more in that the latter was a more enjoyable film to sit through despite its silliness. Let’s face it – M. Night’s ideas are silly. Perhaps he should do them in a more comedic fashion as he did in The Visit?? Split takes itself too seriously. The characters are unlikable whereas those in The Visit are so goofily f*%ked-up that you can’t help but kind of like them. Does that make sense?? I’m rambling. Here are all the Shyamalan films I’ve seen ranked from worst to best according to how much I liked them (including one he only wrote):

Lady In The Water
The Happening
Devil
Split
The Visit
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

Shut up and talk about the movie, right? You know how hard it is to discuss this dude’s films in a spoiler-free fashion! One thing I’ll say for his movies is this: The majority of them have pretty big name stars and some quality acting despite the horror genre and the often outrageous storylines. I think this has helped to give Shyamalan’s films a bit more credibility than is actually deserved?

As I said, I stand by my opinion that The Sixth Sense is a good piece of filmmaking although people are sometimes negative about it now since the ending is so well known. But everyone involved acted their asses off for that “horror” film (don’t forget that Collette & Osment were up for Acting Oscars as well as Shyamalan for Director & Screenplay and the whole thing for Best Picture!). I don’t think Split’s acting is Oscar calibre but it’s still very good for its kind of film. McAvoy is of course the standout having to play various personalities but I also thought his psychiatrist, Betty Buckley, was very good as was young Anya Taylor-Joy (this is her first film I’ve seen). Oh! And I loved finding out that Betty Buckley was the nice gym teacher in the original Carrie – I didn’t know that until I looked her up just now:

So, bravo to the actors who once again help to elevate an M. Night Shyamalan film. Without them, I think this would be very much in danger of being a bargain bin straight-to-video horror (okay – it’s not straight to “video” anymore, I suppose. Showing my age!). Thanks to the success of The Sixth Sense, I think Shyamalan has been able to continue making films that are just good enough to keep him in the game. I want to like his movies more. I like his ideas but rarely like his execution. I want one of his movies to fully reach its potential (funny, as I do believe this is a line quite often uttered by McAvoy’s character). I also want to stick to my 2017 blog resolution of not writing long, rambling reviews! Let’s wrap this up.

Summary:

Split isn’t horrible and has some very good performances but is as ultimately disappointing overall as I’ve now come to expect from M. Night Shyamalan’s films. I can see why it has a fairly high IMDB user rating so far as this will either be due to a) loyal fans who’ve watched all his films as he has a surprise in store for them OR b) full-on “horror” fans as this is the most straightforward horror film that Shyamalan has made. It’s more straightforward horror than I like, personally, so perhaps that’s partly why I was disappointed. I prefer bizarre & supernatural, which is why I’ve put up with a lot of the silly shit he’s come up with. So, in some ways, I do agree that this film is a better film than a lot of his work but I personally didn’t like it that much.

Also, two things quite bothered me. The main thing was that I didn’t like some of the treatment of the kidnapped teenage girls. Shyamalan mostly makes “PG-13 horror”. That’s its rating in the U.S. but I wouldn’t let a 13-year-old watch this (it’s rated 15 in the UK). Obviously I want to avoid spoilers but there are sexual themes that I don’t think are necessarily handled that well considering the film’s low rating & young-looking actresses. There’s also an implication that two of the girls “deserve” what terrible fate may await them because, I dunno… They’re popular? They don’t come across as really mean girls or anything.

The other thing is more minor but it just annoyed me. There’s an extra bit tacked onto the VERY end of the movie, as the credits have started to roll with the final scene still going, and it feels extremely out of place. This bit should’ve been a mid or end credits scene. This extra bit is for loyal fans and some of you will love it. Half those in my cinema walked out the second the credits started rolling despite the scene clearly still continuing (why the hell do people do that?!) so those type of people clearly don’t care about this small extra bit anyway. Hey, Mr. Shyamalan! Stick something like that halfway through the credits next time to reward those who stick around! (FYI – I rolled my eyes a bit at this tacked-on scene but also admit I kind of like Shyamalan’s obvious future plan…. Why do I never give up on his films?!)

My Rating: 6/10

The Fury (1978) Review

Happy Birthday to Kirk Douglas, who turns 100 today! I recently did a list of My Top Ten Michael Douglas Movies & commented that I’d only seen one of his father’s films (Paths Of Glory, and that was also quite recently for my defunct IMDB Top 250 Project). I know – it’s shameful to be a movie blogger & to have seen so few movies from someone who has been around as long as Douglas! So I vowed to watch Spartacus & review it on his birthday. Well, Spartacus isn’t very “me” and I shamefully still haven’t watched it. However, I did watch one of his films. Brian De Palma is more my speed so let’s have a look at The Fury, my second Kirk Douglas movie! Maybe I’ll do Spartacus for birthday 101… 🙂

The Fury (1978)

Directed by Brian De Palma

Based on The Fury by John Farris

Starring: Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning, Amy Irving, Andrew Stevens, Rutanya Alda, William Finley

Music by John Williams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A government agent is determined to come to his son’s rescue when a sinister official kidnaps him to harbor his extremely powerful psychic abilities.

My Opinion:

Well, damn, I guess I should’ve watched SpartacusThe Fury is honestly not very good. 😉 How disappointing! I’ve wanted to see this for years, ever since a scene from it was shown as part of an art installation I saw at the Tate Modern. I don’t remember the artist now but it was a series of scenes from movies involving psychic powers and I’d never heard of The Fury before then. I know De Palma’s filmography is a bit all over the place but I’m a fan of quite a few of his films, especially his Seventies ones such as Carrie & Phantom Of The Paradise. Even Sisters (1972) was better than this. Considering that The Fury is dealing with the similar supernatural/horror themes that I enjoy, I guess I was hoping for something better. Heck, even Firestarter was a better look at telekinesis & the secret government study of individuals who possess these powers. But I do love Stephen King (and Drew Barrymore!). Unfortunately, The Fury pales even further in comparison to De Palma’s adaptation of King’s telekinetic masterpiece Carrie.

I guess I’ll start with Kirk Douglas since I watched this in honor of his birthday. He plays the man whose powerfully telekinetic son is kidnapped by government baddies who want to harness this power. The movie starts out well with the action-packed kidnapping but later turns silly as a half-naked Douglas humorously steals some clothes from a couple & friendly elderly mother and then hitches a ride with Dennis Franz going against character & playing a cop. By the way – Douglas is half naked a lot in this. Is this a Douglas thing? I assume he’s half-naked in Spartacus a lot too. Anyway, the movie has such an uneven tone for a while there with some almost comic relief going on. It was bizarre as there’s none of this whatsoever in the rest of the movie, which has a serious & more horrific tone than I was expecting. Because, you see, using your telekinetic powers on people makes them bleed profusely out of every motherf*%#ing orifice! It was super gross. Well, until the end… The special effects for the big climactic moment were so hilariously bad that I genuinely laughed out loud (I’m not a “LOL”er). And I’m not a special effects snob! I grew up on dodgy old effects. DAMN the end of this was funny as shit, though.

Oops – I went off topic. I was talking about Douglas! Well, he does what he can with a dodgy script, I guess. I’ll give a more “worthy” film of his a go at some point. I was excited to see Amy Irving in another De Palma/psychic ability film after Carrie & it’s cool that she has the ability this time. She’s probably the best thing about the movie, actually, along with the love interest of Douglas (played by Carrie Snodgress). It probably helped that their roles didn’t contain any weird-ass humor while the male roles in this film were lame (especially the son of Douglas – I’m surprised that the kidnappers didn’t want to give that moody, whiny fucker back to him).

My review is as off-the-rails as this film’s plot. I admit my mind wandered & I fucked around on my phone instead of paying much attention to the movie after it got silly. No wonder it had all that orifice bleeding! That’s the only time it got interesting & distracted you from the meandering plot and the fact that you didn’t really care about Douglas finding his asshole son or not. I’m trying to remember what I did on my phone while this movie was on… I think I wrote my review for Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes (Good book. Hey – King connection!). I’m pretty sure I added a bunch of pointless shit to my Amazon Wish List as well. I currently have a variety of those Japanese good luck cats knocking about in my wish list. Why do I do that? It’s not like I’ll ever BUY myself that kind of stuff. I also have an insane amount of Studio Ghibli toys & Kokeshi dolls in there. Someone buy me this stuff for Christmas so I can take them off my Wish List!

Speaking of Dennis Franz above (honestly – I did mention him in my rambling), my favorite thing about watching old movies like this is spotting celebrities that I grew up watching. At least I got something out of The Fury – there were some great obscure actors! I’m pretty sure I saw that chick who was on ER for years (Dr. Weaver) and freaking Nikki Newman from The Young & The Restless!!! HA! I miss that stupid fucking soap opera since moving to the UK. Is Nikki still married to Victor? God those two were annoying. Oh! And when I looked up The Fury at IMDb I saw that I missed Daryl Hannah in this as well as Large Marge from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure! Now THAT’S a good movie.

Um. Screw it – this “review” is going nowhere. Happy 100th Birthday, Kirk Douglas! I’m sorry I’ve not watched more of your films as I’m sure most of them were better than The Fury. But, hey – I still think De Palma is cool & like even some of his “bad” films (other than Mission To Mars – that truly sucked). No shame in being in a De Palma film! I have no doubt that The Fury has a cult following & feel bad that it didn’t work for me. I’m now going to give this a halfway decent rating since, hell, I guess I did get some fun out of it. And a good laugh at that ending!

My Rating: 6/10


Nikki Newman!


Daryl Hannah & the ER chick!


Brad Pitt!


The No Face figure from Spirited Away which has been in my wish list for years! Years! He’s lonely. He needs someone to buy him for me.

Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them (2016) Review

Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them (2016)

Directed by David Yates

Based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Colin Farrell

Music by James Newton Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

My Opinion:

I always say this then meander on for ages but I really mean it this time: I’ll keep this review very short. Why? Because I don’t have much to say. Sadly, I found this film to be a bit of a bore. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t actively like it, either, which is actually worse than hating the f*^k out of a movie. At least the hateful ones stir up some actual emotions! And the most-hated ones are fun to bitch about. There’s nothing worse than boring when it comes to entertainment & the arts. Have some balls! Make something worth watching/looking at/listening to/appreciating/hating the f*^k out of! Don’t waste my time.

I do like Harry Potter. I absolutely loved the books as I read them but they didn’t end up as all-time favorites of mine in the same way things like The Lord Of The Rings did. The movies were fine and I enjoy seeing books I like adapted for the screen but I didn’t exactly obsess over the movies & I’ve never re-watched any. Actually, I’ve not even watched the final film… Although the books were thoroughly enjoyable, I’m far from being an “obsessive Harry Potter fan” so bear in mind that I won’t automatically be worshipping this film like a fan would. I’ve not read Fantastic Beasts and went into this knowing very little other than that it was set in America 70ish years before the events of Harry Potter (right???).

Where do I start? First of all, I didn’t feel any connection to the characters & didn’t care what would happen to them. I’ve not seen Eddie Redmayne’s biggest “Oscar” performances but I’m sorry to say I’m not a fan based on his few films I’ve seen. As he’s the main character, it didn’t help that I find him & his haircut mildly annoying. Katherine Waterston, the second-biggest character, was fine but so looks like a cross between Jennifer Jason Leigh & that chick from ER (Maura Tierney – had to look her up) that I was constantly distracted by this. The woman playing her sister, Alison Sudol, had the potential to be hateful but definitely grew on me. Actually, her character and the “muggle” played by Dan Fogler ended up being the characters I liked & cared about the most (See? I’m not totally dismissive. I said something nice!). Ezra Miller & Samantha Morton, both great actors, were completely wasted in dull roles. Jon Voight was as Jon Voight-y as always & Colin Farrell was the boringly bland baddie I expected (I rarely like his performances). Oh! And then there’s Johnny Depp, of course. Is that a spoiler?? It’s an extremely small role clearly destined for big things in the sequels. He’s his usual “Look at me, I’m quirky!” self. I HATE that seeing him in movies just makes me cringe now. He used to be my favorite actor! What the hell happened??

I’m meandering! I’ll wrap this up. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is an overlong & overcomplicated film that feels like another cash-grab due to the fact that it’s going to be yet another damn series of movies. To be fair, I didn’t have this issue with Harry Potter as it was already a series of books where each individual book was as great as the overall story (although the final book being two movies gets on my nerves). I may have liked Fantastic Beasts more if it was just one movie with a proper conclusion & no “wait for the sequel!” cliffhangers. Knowing there are going to be four more films just exhausts me, to be honest. It’s highly unlikely I’ll bother with them (unless I get another free pass like I had for this one). I don’t know the Harry Potter world well enough to have noticed the connections that fans will have loved but I didn’t feel like there were many links at this point? I’m also confused as to who this film is actually aimed at. The characters are adults so kids won’t go for it (my 7-year-old didn’t really like it plus it was borderline too scary). I guess it’s for those who grew up on Harry Potter & are now in their late twenties or so? It just seems like a very small target audience and I can’t see it gaining any new fans who aren’t already Potter fans. I guess the beasts themselves were okay, though cheesy-looking (my favorite was this dude but he’s too similar to the much cooler Groot).

As for the story… Meh. I didn’t fully follow what was going on. But I did fall asleep at some point in the middle, which didn’t help. Yep – I fell asleep in the cinema! As did the other adult I was with. I never do that. I call that proof that Fantastic Beasts is a bit of a snoozefest. It’s not a bad film but I find J.K. Rowling’s tweets far more entertaining than the story in this.

My Rating: 6/10

John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) Review

Vampires (1998)

Directed by John Carpenter

Based on Vampire$ by John Steakley

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell

Music by John Carpenter

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
James Woods stars as Jack Crow, the leader of a team of vampire hunters. After his parents were bitten by vampires, Crow was raised by the Catholic Church to become their “master slayer”. The plot is centered on Crow’s efforts to prevent a centuries-old cross from falling into the hands of Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), the first and most powerful of all vampires.

My Opinion:

I watched this a couple of weeks ago but had no intention of reviewing it yet since I’ve been saving up to do a John Carpenter Week (or two) on my blog at some point. Well, damn – I didn’t make it to see Ouija: Origin Of Evil to review it as part of my Mike Flanagan Week so I was left short of one horror film to review this month. Is anyone interested in helping to do guest reviews for a John Carpenter Week if I ever get off my ass & do that?? This blog thing is so dead lately that I haven’t felt very motivated to put posts together… I’m cutting back massively once October is over!

I did a list of My Top Ten John Carpenter Movies HERE without having yet seen a few of his biggest films. In preparation for a John Carpenter Week & to be able to update my Top Ten, I’ve since watched these: Prince Of Darkness, Dark Star, Escape From New York, and Vampires. One of those is awesome and will be high on an updated Top Ten, one is okay, and two are pretty sucky.

Vampires is one of the pretty sucky ones but it was less sucky than I was expecting. In fact, as I had low expectations thinking that most people hated it for some reason, I ended up liking it a bit more than Prince Of Darkness. I must be missing something with Prince Of Darkness – I thought it was very badly dated. Vampires is far from good but I did get some enjoyment from it and, shockingly, I probably liked Daniel Baldwin’s character the most in this thing. A Baldwin! WTF?! I’m not sure it’s a good thing to have a Baldwin be your favorite character in a movie. I think I just liked the fact that he was quite nice (eventually) to the poor hooker (Sheryl Lee) after she got bitten by the main vampire dude. I liked Lee’s character as well and the psychic link she ended up having with the main vampire was a good plot device. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen Lee in anything before (I never saw Twin Peaks).

Speaking of nice & not nice, I think the main reason I didn’t like this movie as much as I’d hoped was because of James Woods and his complete asshole of a character. Hmm – Yes, I entirely blame James Woods for this movie not living up to its potential. He doesn’t have the “star power”. He doesn’t have the cool factor, the attitude, the charisma… Can you imagine this movie instead starring Carpenter’s favorite, Kurt Russell?? Russell had all those things in Carpenter’s films. He was a stud. He could get away with being kind of a jerk because he had that same sort of lovable rogue thing going on as Han Solo. Woods doesn’t have that. Sorry! I think I’m just not a Woods fan. Don’t tell him!!!

Oh, I also liked that priest dude in the above picture. He was another one, along with the prostitute, who was treated like complete shit by Woods for no reason. Okay, okay – Woods’ parents were killed by vampires so I suppose he holds a grudge but, sheesh! No need to be so damn grumpy. Sorry – I need to let this go. I’m sounding as grumpy as him! At least I liked three of the characters, which helped make up for Woods and for the rather bland vampires. Vampires are meant to be cool, sexy & menacing. The vampires in Vampires are so dull compared to those in some of the all-time great vampire classics. Like The Lost Boys! Did I just lose my argument? Lol. Don’t care – The Lost Boys rules. 😉

Summary:

Erm. I dunno. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about Vampires. It has some good points but the good points don’t fully make up for the fact that both the lead vampire hunter & the lead vampire are such weak characters. They’re the two most important roles so this obviously lets the movie down. However, I did enjoy the likable lesser characters as well as some fairly original vampire hunting (like the way the hunters dragged the vampires out into the sun). It also had a decent level of fun gore that I could stomach (I hate too much gore). Vampires is just a rather uneven movie and not one that I can either fully praise nor fully criticize. I’ve definitely seen worse vampire movies but I’ve also see many FAR better ones. It won’t be making a Top Ten Vampire Movies list of mine but maybe I’d give it a small honorable mention. Guess I need to make that list now. Maybe next October – I think I better watch some Hammer Horror first!

My Rating: 6/10

**I’ve just realized that I have a bit of a vampire theme going on with this & with my review of the pointless 2011 remake of Fright Night on Wednesday. Woohoo! I’ll pretend that I planned that… 🙂

Fright Night (2011) Review

Fright Night (2011)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Based on Fright Night by Tom Holland

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a teenage boy who discovers that his neighbor is actually a vampire, which culminates to a battle between the two.

My Opinion:

I might as well start by pointing out the obvious to anyone who knows me: I prefer the original Fright Night and remakes piss me off. I haven’t actually watched the original in years, though, which is why I’m not going to do a comparison review. But I’ll always be fond of it as, along with A Nightmare On Elm Street, it was my introduction to 80’s slasher-type flicks at a junior high spin the bottle party. Ah, good times!

So, this is indeed yet another completely pointless remake but is it any worse than all the other pointless remakes? I guess it’s probably at the ever-so-slightly better end of things. It at least didn’t completely piss me off & make me want to shout at my TV like that godawful A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. Argh!!! That one actually damaged the franchise & I wish it didn’t exist. This Fright Night is just a bit “so what?”. It’s ultimately forgettable but is luckily different enough from the 1985 film that it hasn’t damaged it in my mind.


These signs seemed extraneous at the time…

The only reason I decided to watch this was to see Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.). I’ve liked Yelchin ever since Charlie Bartlett & was saddened by his untimely death. He was uniquely talented and the absolute perfect choice to play Charley Brewster in Fright Night so I have no complaints there. I also liked Toni Collette as his mother and had no problem with Imogen Poots as Charley’s girlfriend even though she’s too hot for him. But that’s movies for you! The nerdy guys always get the hot girls. Anyway – She’s a cutie & the name Poots never fails to make me giggle. Finally, I loved David Tennant as “vampire hunter” Peter Vincent. He’s my favorite Doctor Who and I found him strangely attractive in his leather pants & eyeliner…


Unfortunately, while the casting of these actors/actresses was spot on, I really disliked Colin Farrell as our main vampire baddie Jerry. I don’t normally like him much anyway but he really didn’t have the charisma or the sexy charming thing going on that I expect from a vampire. As for Christopher Mintz-Plasse, I can see why they chose him as Charley’s nerdy friend Ed but he’s so typecast now that he’s starting to get on my nerves & just ended up an annoying distraction. Massive fail with the casting of these two, which was disappointing as everyone else was so good.

Summary:

Fright Night (2011) is pointless but I suppose it’s not horrible. I’m not stupid, though – I know that younger people don’t like watching older movies so are very unlikely to seek out the original. Therefore, I’m not going to waste my breath (er… fingers?) telling everyone to just watch the 1985 film. If you like Yelchin & think this looks like your type of thing, give it a go. As a standalone film, it’s a fun vampire flick. I’d have liked more humor & it dragged to begin with but it did really pick up once Tennant came into the picture more about halfway through. Tennant & Yelchin are both very good and made a fairly mediocre vampire movie not feel like a complete waste of time. Meh. I’ve seen worse.

My Rating: 6/10

Audrey Rose (1977) & A Good Marriage (2014) Movie Reviews

I appear to have watched one too many horror films in the past year so I’m doing a special 2 for 1 deal for my dear readers. Today only! Get it while supplies last! I figured I’d put these two together as I don’t have a whole lot to say about either. I don’t mean that in a bad way – I really liked them both but, well, sometimes there’s just not a lot to say. This is why I’m not a writer… 😉 Let’s have two quickies, shall we?

Audrey Rose (1977)

Directed by Robert Wise

Based on Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta

Starring: Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins, John Beck, Susan Swift

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A stranger attempts to convince a happily married couple that their daughter is actually his daughter reincarnated.

My Opinion:

This is the kind of supernatural story that’s right up my alley PLUS it’s set in one of my two absolute favorite decades (the groovy Seventies, when everyone looked like an ugly porn star) so I jumped at the chance to finally see this when it popped up on Netflix a while back. I love the pulp novel feel to the film’s story and I found out after watching it that it is indeed adapted from a book (with a great pulpy cover, which appears to have been partially used on that cool orange poster up above).

I find reincarnation a fascinating topic & thought this film had a pretty strong story. I’d probably enjoy the book (has anyone here read it?). The movie is helped by some very good performances, especially from Marsha Mason as the young girl’s mother & Anthony Hopkins as the heartbroken stranger who is convinced that Mason’s daughter is the reincarnation of his own daughter, who died in a car crash at the same time this girl was born. Hopkins was very convincing as a man, understandably, slightly crazed with grief while the girl’s parents were very believable as a loving, close-knit family who would do everything possible to protect their daughter.

Unfortunately, and I feel super bad saying this, the girl (Susan Swift) is the film’s weakest link. Which isn’t good as she’s the character who links everyone together… I can handle this as I grew up on 70s & 80s movies but younger people who watch these older films nowadays have to remind themselves that the quality of acting from children wasn’t in the same league back then. It still almost freaks me out how amazing Jacob Tremblay was in Room! Or Sennia Nanua in The Girl With All The Gifts (a fantastic “zombie film with a brain” that I highly recommend, by the way). “Bad” child acting was common in older movies, though, and I don’t think it’s the fault of the kids – I think maybe they just didn’t know how to direct them back then. But other than the girl’s distracting acting… Ha! That could be a song. Like Conjunction Junction! What’s your function? Distracting Acting! What are you, um, lacking? That doesn’t quite rhyme. What rhymes with acting?? I’m off topic! Now back to your regularly scheduled review:

I think Audrey Rose is a decent psychological thriller (despite distracting acting!) that’s been forgotten about as it’s definitely not at the same level as others from the same decade such as The Exorcist, Don’t Look Now, The Omen, etc. With so many greats being released at the time, it’s easy to see why this gets overlooked. Audrey Rose is more psychological than a full-on “horror” like those, though, and I’d compare it more to something like The Changeling (1980), which had a similar feel. I really did enjoy it and want to give it a higher rating but I have to admit it’s not perfect & I was sadly disappointed with the ending. It’s worth your time if you’re a fan of this decade & genre, though. I’m happy that I finally saw it.

My Rating: 6/10


“Distracting Acting! It’s DETRACTING!” *sing it!*

A Good Marriage (2014)

Directed by Peter Askin

Based on A Good Marriage in the short story collection Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Starring: Joan Allen, Anthony LaPaglia, Kristen Connolly, Stephen Lang

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After 25 years of a good marriage, what will Darcy do once she discovers her husband’s sinister secret?

My Opinion:

I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read almost every single one of his books (other than The Dark Tower series & Carrie for some strange reason – I love that movie). I think his short stories are just as fantastic & I recently reviewed one collection, The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams, in great detail HERE. That took me ages! And two people read that post. Thanks, you two! 😉 Anyway, you would think it would occur to me that I’d read the short story this film was based on but, nope, I totally didn’t remember reading it. Then, as I watched, I was like “Why does this seem familiar?”. What an idiot. I worry about my memory lately. I think it’s partly why I keep this blog going! Someday I’ll look back at that Bazaar Of Bad Dreams post to refresh my memory on what I read.

A Good Marriage is from King’s Full Dark, No Stars collection & it’s odd I didn’t really remember it as it’s a good, basic story of discovering that the person you married isn’t who you thought they were. This is one of those very “straightforward” King stories. I don’t want to give too much away but this isn’t in any way weird or supernatural, which may be why I didn’t remember it as I usually love his weirdest stuff the most.

Joan Allen gives a great performance as the wife who must decide what to do when she finds out the truth about her husband (Anthony LaPaglia, who perfectly plays a creepy horndog). Allen is the true star of this film and helps elevate it from something that otherwise had the potential to feel like a made-for-TV Lifetime movie. I’ve always thought she deserves more recognition than she seems to get. I also found her quite attractive in this… She has that “sexy older lady” vibe. She plays this character well, going from vulnerable & insecure to a woman determined to take charge of the situation in which she finds herself. And… I like the ending! I’m so rarely satisfied with the conclusions to films of this nature that I feel the need to point it out when I do like an ending. So, once again, good job on writing an enjoyable story Mr. King! Sorry I didn’t remember it. I think it’s just because I’m getting old. Old but with a sexy vibe, hopefully!

My Rating: 6/10

Okay, this is totally stuck in my head now…

**Starting Sunday, join me for Creepy Dolls Week! I’ll be reviewing some “creepy doll” movies, including a Blind Spot review for yet another Anthony Hopkins film released a year after Audrey Rose… 🙂

The Visit (2015) Review

The Visit (2015)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.

My Opinion:

Like a lot of people, I was a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. At first. When they were good. But then they turned shit. The Sixth Sense was brilliant & I remained a fan through everything up until that stupid Lady In The Water movie (I really liked The Village – why don’t many people like that one?). After The Happening, I gave up on his films completely (and it sounds like it was good that I did – The Last Airbender & After Earth sound terrible). Well, Devil was okay (he wrote the story).

Anyway, I heard that the good old M. Night Shyamalan was finally back with The Visit so, although I didn’t exactly rush to see it, I watched it as soon as I could at home. Hmm… It’s certainly not as good as his best stuff but it’s not completely terrible. It had a lot of potential in the beginning but a ridiculous final 20 minutes or so ruined it for me. Shame. Here – I’m bored so I’m going to rank all his movies that I’ve seen (I’ll include Devil). Worst to best:

Lady In The Water
The Happening
The Visit
Devil
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

I’ll start by discussing The Good Things about The Visit:

The Kids. I thought the kids were quite likable & they actually felt like real kids as opposed to when kids in movies are so clearly “written by adults”. Maybe Shyamalan is just good at directing kids as Haley Joel Osment was so good in The Sixth Sense (but did seem too grown-up for his age). I liked the relationship between the two siblings & I liked that they were smart without being too smart. They’re still just kids & most kids wouldn’t know how to handle the bizarre situation they find themselves in. Their characters & how they deal with things felt more realistic than in most horror movies. The boy has an annoying tendency to rap, though.

Nana. Actress Deanna Dunagan plays this character brilliantly. I’ve never seen her in anything before – she should be in more stuff. It’s like Shyamalan said “can you play a crazy lady?” and she was all “f*^k yeah!” and, wow, she really went to town with this character. Yahtzee!!! I couldn’t help but laugh as she’s so totally over-the-top but you can’t say the actress didn’t give it her all.

The found footage aspect. I realize that saying this will automatically turn some people off of this movie but this plot device doesn’t bother me if used in the right way. To be honest, I completely forgot this was a found footage film so I can say that it clearly wasn’t a distraction. The kids want to make a documentary of the visit with their grandparents & this style actually worked just fine for the movie.

The first half. The Visit really did start out well. It had a good atmosphere & creepy feel. It was fun when the grandparents were doing small odd things that let us know that something wasn’t quite right. There’s a scene under a porch that was pretty intense & claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on & what Shyamalan’s signature twist would be.

The message. There’s actually a fairly good message of sorts at the end concerning family & letting things go.

Now for the unfortunate Bad Things:

The setup. The mom hasn’t talked to her parents in years so her kids have never met them. But then she suddenly decides to send her kids to them for a week after they contact her (or the kids?) out of nowhere (I can’t remember exactly). It just seemed a weak setup. I don’t think a mom would be like “Okay – I’ll send my kids to these people I haven’t spoken to in years because I was wanting a vacation & some sex with my boyfriend anyway”.

The mom. Speaking of the mom, she was just too flaky. I liked the close relationship she had with her kids & they seemed to have good chemistry. Which made the setup all the more unbelievable…

Pop Pop & the excessive craziness of the grandparents. Nana was a lot of fun to watch but, really, the grandparents are so over-the-top crazy by the end that the movie ceases being scary & ends up being laughable. Pretty sure I’ve given nothing away there as trailers, etc, all made it obvious that these two are NOT right in the head. If this was meant as a horror comedy, the ending kind of works. I feel like I read somewhere that this was Shyamalan’s intention but the movie doesn’t seem to ever be defined as a “horror comedy” anywhere online. He does often go over-the-top at the end of his films but I thought The Visit went a bit too far. Especially with Pop Pop, whose character I didn’t enjoy in the same way I did Nana’s. Speaking of Pop Pop….

The diaper thing. Gross. Was that necessary?

The last half (but especially the final 20 minutes or so). Well, I’ve pretty much covered this above. It’s too over-the-top & the grandparents are too crazy. It rubbed shit all over the decent first half of the film.

The twist. Don’t worry – I won’t give it away for those who still may want to see this. But it means I can’t really say much about it. I’m just thinking that Shyamalan was either very lazy with this one OR deceptively brilliant for making it what it was. I dunno. This could actually end up in my Good OR Bad category depending on my mood. Maybe I’ll change my mind. I might. Because I’m CRAZY like that. Yahtzee!!!

Summary:

The Visit had potential & I was really hoping to like another Shyamalan movie again. If he had kept things more subtle & creepy at the end like it was starting out, I’d have definitely liked this more. If it was truly meant as a horror comedy, I’d be slightly more forgiving but I don’t think it’s clear that it’s meant to be this way, which will have probably left a lot of viewers feeling slightly confused by the end. However, there are some strong characters with Nana being fun to watch & the kids being likable – I think we all get sick of the hateful characters that are so common in horror movies. Overall, The Visit was very flawed but it was also just good enough to potentially make me watch whatever Shyamalan makes next if it looks decent enough. He may just win back another fan if his next film is truly a return to form like people claimed this one was & which I sadly believed might be true before those final 20 minutes. (His next film is a movie called Split starring James McAvoy. It’s getting VERY good buzz but I’m trying to not get my hopes up too much…)

My Rating: 6/10

Okay, I gotta include this clip…

Sausage Party (2016) Review

Sausage Party (2016)

Directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan

Starring: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film, a parody of Disney and Pixar animated films, follows a sausage who tries to discover the truth about his existence and goes on a journey with his friends to escape their fate.

My Opinion:

Yep – Seth Rogen & Co have been smoking way too much weed now. They should probably get help. However, they’re making lots of money so why would they stop? Needless to say, don’t watch this movie if you’re easily offended. I’m offended by people who watch movies they know are going to be offensive & then get all offended. Think of all the most un-PC humor you’ve ever seen in South Park & multiply it by 1,000. I just watched Ted 2 the other day & was shocked at the jokes they got away with but Sausage Party makes Ted 2 look like Snow White. Or… A Disney movie with a bear! The Jungle Book?

My point is: I’m not easily offended and like a lot of humor that’s not PC but Sausage Party probably crosses the line a bit too much at times & almost made me uncomfortable (for the record, I admit that I quite like the Ted movies & prefer them to this). There were jokes that worked & jokes that didn’t but, overall, the movie just didn’t work as a whole. The story was weak but I suppose you can’t expect much from a movie made purely to use as many food-related sex jokes as possible. However, I did like the message. Yes, there’s a message just like in any Disney film. This movie reminded me of Zootropolis– it felt like they came up with the film’s message first & then wrote a story around it that didn’t quite fit.

I did like our main characters of Rogen’s sausage & Wiig’s buns and their desire to come together. I enjoyed all the dirty stuff & really liked the film’s, um, climax. Not sure what that says about me. Michael Cera’s deformed little sausage was pretty funny. Edward Norton’s bagel & Salma Hayek’s taco were also highlights of the film. I realize how dirty this all sounds but that’s the point of the film. Wiig’s blatant vagina bun was hard to watch at times, especially when she talked. Watching a talking cartoon vagina for an hour & a half is bizarre. The douche was seriously irritating, though, and the many many (many) douche jokes were far from fresh. Between the talking vagina, the douche & the racial (food) stereotypes, I felt a little uncomfortable.

I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t get some laughs out of this movie – I just laughed far less than I was expecting. Plus half the time I was probably too scared to laugh at the more “iffy” humor. If anything, Sausage Party makes me appreciate old episodes of South Park a bit more as they feel more cleverly written than this film which relies too heavily on cheap jokes. Anthropomorphic food having sexual relations is pretty damn hilarious, though! Yep – that shit did crack me up. But I’ve always had a thing for anthropomorphic food & used to do a series on this blog called “Anthropomorphic Cuteness” (check out this post with a funny clip from The Amazing World Of Gumball – it’s better than all of Sausage Party). I’d only recommend this movie to lovers of things like South Park & Family Guy. There aren’t enough laughs to really make it worth a trip to the cinema, though – you can probably wait to watch it at home.

My Rating: 6/10

The Book Thief & Paper Towns Movie Reviews

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

Paper Towns (2015)

Directed by Jake Schreier

Based on Paper Towns by John Green

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 6/10

The Book Thief (2013)

Directed by Brian Percival

Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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

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

My Opinion:

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


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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

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

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

The Unbelievable Truth (1989) & Trust (1990) Reviews

This coming Friday would’ve been Adrienne Shelly’s 50th birthday so I’m going to be posting reviews of five of her movies over the next few days. I figured I should begin with these Hal Hartley films as that’s where she got her start.

First of all, I’ll say a little bit about why I’ve chosen to devote a few days to Adrienne Shelly’s films. I became interested in checking out more of her work after watching the fantastic film Waitress, which she wrote & directed and in which she also starred. I watched Waitress while pregnant just like its main character (played by Keri Russell) and the movie just “spoke” to me in that special sort of way that I know only fellow diehard film lovers might understand. I’d seen her in nothing before & sadly didn’t even know her name until news of her murder just before the film’s release.

Anyway – I won’t go into Waitress now as I’ll be reviewing that on Friday but I so loved the movie & its mix of quirky characters (including Shelly’s role) that I wanted to see the films she’d starred in previously. Wow – they’re hard to get hold of! The one I’m most interested in (Sudden Manhattan, which she also wrote & directed) isn’t available. Of what I could get, I have to say that I liked Waitress far more than the films she only starred in. It’s sad to think of the other fantastic movies she could have made had she not been so cruelly taken from her family, her friends, and the filmmaking world.

The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

Directed & Written by Hal Hartley

Starring: Adrienne Shelly, Robert Burke, Christopher Cooke, Julia McNeal, Katherine Mayfield, Gary Sauer, Mark Bailey, David Healy, Matt Malloy, Edie Falco, Paul Schultze, Bill Sage

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After serving time for murder, Josh Hutton returns to his home town where me meets Audry Hugo. No one can remember exactly what Josh did, but they are all wary of him, especially Audry’s father.

My Opinion:

I honestly don’t know how to go about reviewing these two Hal Hartley films. I’ll say they’re definitely NOT going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I do like indie films but they’re all different – I love some but hate others that I find desperate or pretentious. Too many films get the “indie” label slapped on them nowadays so the definition has become muddled. I can say, though, that these two Hartley films are the true definition of INDIE (in all caps & bold!). Hartley has a very unique style & I can say that I’ve never seen any other movies quite like these two.

I watched The Unbelievable Truth first & liked it quite a bit (and much more than Trust, although I get the impression that most Hartley fans prefer Trust?). I just thought it had the better story & I liked the characters a lot more. Both films are less about the “story”, I think, than about the odd mix of characters & how they relate to each other. I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of social commentary going on as well (especially in Trust) that I’m just a little too thick to fully grasp.

Once again, I know nothing about filmmaking but this movie felt very art house to me. The conversations between characters are bizarre & don’t feel like how people would actually interact with each other in the “real world”. Hartley also films the characters in odd ways, such as the way he makes them stand as they speak (almost as if they’re in a play). I’m sure this is a specific style used in art films as I remember old school 1970’s Sesame Street as well as Saturday Night Live spoofing this technique. I really want to share the Sesame Street clip so you know what I mean but I can’t find it! Maybe that’s why I liked this movie, though, as I adore old school Sesame Street. 😉 Oh, I did look up the proper definition of art film at Wikipedia just now and, yes, these are most definitely art films:

An art film is typically a serious, independent film aimed at a niche market rather than a mass market audience. An art film is “intended to be a serious artistic work, often experimental and not designed for mass appeal”; they are “made primarily for aesthetic reasons rather than commercial profit”, and they contain “unconventional or highly symbolic content”.


*I want a dollar bill painted above my bed now

Well, I doubt that what I’ve said so far is really selling this film to anyone… I think both films have the potential to be someone’s all-time favorite film (perusing the IMDB message boards confirms this for me) but you really have to be a big fan of art house indie cinema if you’re going to watch these.

The quirky characters in this film are what sold it to me. And, yes – I liked the awkward ways in which they interacted with one another. I especially liked the two leads with their strange love story (Robert Burke being quiet & mysterious and Shelly being brooding & adorable) and I found the father of Shelly’s character quite funny. This is one of those indie films that worked for me. Yes, it has a dark humor & is “quirk city” but it was fun & entertaining and didn’t feel pretentiously fake like many indie films do nowadays.

But I watched these films simply to see Adrienne Shelly & I wasn’t disappointed. I loved her character in this: a smart & unusual teenage girl who is obsessed with the thought of nuclear war & who falls for a mysterious man who has just finished a jail term for murder. She was unconventionally beautiful (by Hollywood standards – I think she was gorgeous) and it’s a shame that she didn’t become a more well known name for her work. However, it’s also great in many ways that she remained an “indie queen” in this hidden little gem of a movie. If you’re interested in watching one of her films, I’d still recommend her own Waitress movie first but The Unbelievable Truth is most definitely worth your time as well if you love Waitress as much as I did.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trust (1990)

Directed & Written by Hal Hartley

Starring: Adrienne Shelly, Martin Donovan, Edie Falco, Merritt Nelson, John MacKay

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
When Maria (Shelly), a recent high school dropout, announces her unplanned pregnancy to her family, her father dies of heart failure, her mother immediately evicts her from the household and her boyfriend breaks up with her. Lonely and with nowhere to go, Maria wanders her town in search of a place to stay. Along the way, she meets Matthew (Donovan), a highly educated and extremely moody electronics repairman. The two begin an unusual romance built on their sense of mutual admiration and trust.

My Opinion:

After really enjoying The Unbelievable Truth, I found Trust to be disappointing. Both films are very obviously from the same director but the “quirk city” thing that worked for me in the first film just didn’t quite connect with me this time. I think some Hartley fans do prefer this one, though, so I guess it just depends on the sort of thing you go for.

Both films have a dark humor but this one is definitely much darker plus I didn’t like any of the characters at all, really, whereas they were the best thing about The Unbelievable Truth. Shelly’s teenage character is the best thing about both films but this time comes across as a bit “bratty” at first. However, this does turn around plus ends up being completely understandable as we spend more time with her asshole family. I also liked the male love interest far less in this movie but, again, that may just be me as a lot of fans really liked him. He’s extremely emotionally unstable which is fine but, no thanks – he’s far too high maintenance for my taste! I just bought into the whole thing of “two people not fitting into society yet bizarrely working perfectly as a couple in their own fucked-up way” thing much more in The Unbelievable Truth. I found that I didn’t care what happened to the characters in Trust.

I’m keeping this review short as I think I covered everything in the first review. Basically, this is the same movie again but darker, with an even more meandering story that seemed to go nowhere, and with characters I didn’t like. It’s not a bad movie, though – these are two unique films & I can understand why Hartley has a following of fans (and why others would absolutely hate his stuff). From what I’ve read, all of his films have the same sort of style so I don’t know if I’ll ever watch another one as, yes, I only watched these to see Adrienne Shelly. I’m slightly curious about seeing more and if they differ much, though – if they were more easily available I might check one out. I’d love to hear from any fans of his but think my blog may have finally gone a bit too obscure this time. 😉 Has anyone else here ever watched a Hal Hartley film?

My Rating: 6/10

*I know that not many people will have even heard of these movies so I’m including the trailers in case you’re at all interested…

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case (2016) Review

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case (2016)

Directed by James Wan

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This is the sequel to the 2013 film The Conjuring, with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles as paranormal investigators and authors Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film follows the Warrens as they travel to the United Kingdom to assist the Hodgson family, who are experiencing poltergeist activity at their Enfield council house in 1977.

My Opinion:

I thought The Conjuring (number 1) was really good as far as modern horror movies go. I gave it a very positive review (HERE). Thinking back on it now, I’d still say it was a really good modern horror but I probably rated it a little too highly. I think at the time that I was just SO happy to finally get a horror movie that didn’t totally suck since most of them do nowadays. But then The Babadook came along…. Now there’s a damn good modern horror! That one made me realize that it is indeed possible for post-1984 horror movies to actually not suck. The Conjuring (number 1) was a step in the right direction, however. Too bad The Conjuring (number 2) takes a step back.

First of all, I know nothing about the actual facts of the Enfield haunting case so I won’t be discussing how accurate this movie may or may not be. I do love a good haunting and/or possession movie (especially when “true”) so I did enjoy the overall story here. It’s very similar to the first film (storywise) so I think you’d probably be interested in at least checking this one out at home at some point if you really liked the first one.

However, this one fails in many ways that the first movie didn’t… This sequel falls back into the James Wan trap of showing us too much for too long, just like all the laughable shit in Insidious. Sorry, but a Marilyn Manson-looking nun just isn’t scary to me! Sorry for a slight spoiler there (there’s a nun in this who looks like Marilyn Manson and you see her a lot). No. Less is more, horror-movie-makers! Why do you keep doing this? Mystery is scary. The things we don’t see or only just glimpse are scary. That bit with the sheet in the wind in the first film was pretty scary and unexpected! I can’t say that I really found anything even a little unsettling in this one. This was one of those movies where I just steeled myself for the predictable jump scares. Because I’m a jumpy person! But jump scares are cheap & they’re temporary. I think I’d probably have been more creeped out if I had just read about the real case instead (I may look into it now).

This film also didn’t seem to try as hard to get the right look, which worked so well in the first movie. It felt like it was genuinely set in the Seventies before whereas the sequel felt more like, well, a movie made in 2016 with funny clothing. I don’t know if maybe the first movie was filmed in a different way that gave it the correct look? I know nothing about filmmaking – I just know that the first movie looked “right” to me. And it had a great atmosphere that this one doesn’t quite manage (again, this is mainly down to “seeing too much”).

Okay – I’m sounding way too negative! This film isn’t awful – it’s just disappointing after the first film. I just wanted more of the same again instead of it veering slightly into Insidious territory. But it’s certainly not as bad as Insidious or that pathetic Conjuring spin-off Annabelle. It does start out promising with your standard haunted house movie stuff that is predictable but that I like (scary noises, creepy toys, etc) and I have no complaints as far as the acting goes – everyone did a solid job, including the young actress (Madison Wolfe). Unfortunately, the actors were let down by some very schmaltzy moments and a final half that loses its way just like so many other modern horror films seem to. The Conjuring 2 isn’t a bad horror movie – it’s just yet another fairly forgettable one. Which is a shame as I didn’t feel that way about the first film. 

My Rating: 6/10

Warrior (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review

The guest reviews have dried up so here I am again, finally reviewing another one of these for my own IMDB Top 250 project. You see, I’ve been super lazy on doing these reviews but not as lazy on actually watching the movies. So let’s discuss Warrior, which I watched on August 22nd 2015! This should be entertaining as I barely remember the damn thing… 😉

Warrior (2011)

Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Nick Nolte

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 153 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother.

My Opinion:

I remember this film having very good performances, totally dysfunctional family relationships, lots of fighting, and me falling asleep several times (especially during the long mixed martial arts tournament at the end). This movie is good but it didn’t work for me. Hey, that happens sometimes. Any regulars here will know that I give ratings mostly based on my own personal enjoyment of a movie but do factor in a movie’s “worthiness” somewhat as well. Yes, it probably deserves higher praise than it will seem that I’m giving it. Let’s discuss the good things about it.

The performances. Most notably: Nick Nolte. He’s the best thing about this. He did get nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the estranged alcoholic father of Joel Edgerton & Tom Hardy and I think that nomination was well-deserved. A lot of people might say that Tom Hardy is the best thing about this and, yes, he’s very good too but Nolte’s performance was more memorable for me. I think Edgerton was probably unfairly ignored in this as he’s the most “together” of this estranged family while Hardy’s U.S. Marine & Nolte’s recovering alcoholic are thoroughly damaged individuals. The truly damaged characters always get the most attention but I think Edgerton & Hardy are equally good in this.

Can I just go off topic slightly & say that I’m always confusing Nick Nolte & Gary Busey? Like, I keep thinking “I really liked Nick Nolte in Point Break” then later realize that it was actually Gary Busey. Anyone else ever mix up a couple of actors? They were just in the same types of movies at the same sort of time and they look kind of similar. Busey was the crazy one, though, right? You know what Nolte movie I really like, though? Three Fugitives! I probably shouldn’t admit that… It’s one of my embarrassing guilty pleasures.

Where were we? Oh. Warrior. Yeah. As I said, it was almost a year ago that I watched it. Everyone in it was angry & depressed & damaged & had some sort of drama going on in their lives so the men relieved their stress by kicking each other’s asses. Edgerton was a lovely father & husband, though.

Okay – there’s no point in me rambling on as I’m just trying to tick these unseen IMDB Top 250 movies off my list. Watch them, write a tiny bit about each, and move on. Does this deserve to be in the Top 250 alongside some of the absolute classic films on the list? Of course not. It IS a very good film with fantastic performances but it’s no The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (the last Top 250 film I reviewed which, although also not my type of “thing”, I gave an extremely positive review as there was no denying its moments of pure genius).

I’d never disagree with anyone who does love this film as I can easily understand its appeal. I’d also most definitely recommend it to either gender but, yes, mostly to males who like movies such as Rocky as this is aimed more at them. I’ll admit this now: I also have yet to watch Rocky for this project but I’ve seen enough bits & pieces of that film over the years to know it’s not just about “guys beating each other up”. If it was, it wouldn’t be so highly regarded. Warrior is exactly the same: it’s a film about the characters, their relationships, determination, and overcoming the odds. The mixed martial arts is just the backdrop but, hey, that makes it a far more entertaining film for those who like that sort of thing. It’s predictable & there are a lot of clichés but they’re forgivable as the three central performances are so good. This is the equivalent of a chick flick for men although no one would probably dare say that as “chick flicks” get a bad rap. I like the occasional chick flick the same way I like any clichéd feel-good movie and Warrior is truly no different – it just transcends these faults thanks to the strong characters. Its IMDB rating is 8.2 so don’t let my opinion put you off.

My Rating: 6/10


Kung Fu Panda 3, The House Of Magic, Rio 2 & Muppets Most Wanted Movie Reviews

I have four quickie kids’ film reviews for you today! I promise they’ll be quick. Why? Because I barely remember three of them.

I’ve just seen Kung Fu Panda 3 so that review will be a little longer than the rest. You see, I get a little annoyed when I look at the pages on my blog & see that I still have some movies that I watched but never reviewed on the 2014 page & the 2015 page (never mind the 2016 page! I’m way behind). It’s especially annoying that the only movies that I actually went to the cinema to see but then didn’t review were these three 2014 kids’ movies. They were so “meh” that I guess I couldn’t be bothered.

So, here we go! I’ll finally say something about them two years later. I’m limiting myself to one paragraph each for the three older ones (plus my kid’s opinion on each). But let’s start with the longer review for the most current film (and by far the best of the four)…

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson

From: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

My Opinion:

I actually thought this movie was really good. As far as DreamWorks movies go, at least. I’ve stated here before how I see DreamWorks movies as strictly kids’ films while I view Pixar & most Disney ones as just being great films overall for every age group. Like, I wouldn’t feel weird discussing both WALL-E & Citizen Kane in the same breath. Except, I’ve not seen Citizen Kane… Never mind.

What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 3 is that, while it has a message as does every kids’ movie, it didn’t let the message get in the way of the movie being fun and actually making kids laugh. The previous movie we went to as a family was Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) & I did NOT expect to think a DreamWorks film was far better than a Disney one! But that’s the case this time.

Kung Fu Panda 3 hasn’t forgotten that, first & foremost, it’s meant to be aimed at kids. I felt that Zootropolis completely forgot this while trying to drive its message home with a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters. But Kung Fu Panda 3 isn’t dumbed down for kids, either, which is a big pet peeve of mine. Kids aren’t stupid & shouldn’t be treated that way. The jokes were all age-appropriate without being dumb but also not being too grown-up like things such as the Godfather references in Zootropolis.

I have to admit that Kung Fu Panda 3 was even enjoyable to me as an adult who probably wouldn’t watch many animated films not made by Disney or Pixar if I didn’t have a kid. I do love Jack Black (I don’t care about the haters!) and think he’s been perfect as Po in all these films. I think all the characters are strong & really like the setting and the look. In this one, the baby pandas are adorable & even had grumpy me going “aww”. The baddie in this one was also pretty cool, as were his storyline & all the chi stuff. Plus I’m a sucker for the color green. Here’s the baddie:

I’d even go so far as to say that I like the Kung Fu Panda movies the most out of all the ones made by DreamWorks. I find Shrek a little overrated and I’d say that the How To Train Your Dragon films are possibly their “best” work but they’ve never really clicked with me at all (or the kid). But all three of us have enjoyed each of the three Kung Fu Panda movies.

My Rating: 7/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She liked this movie a lot & giggled through the whole thing. She was far more enthusiastic about this one than she was after walking out of Zootropolis, which she called “not very good”. Her favorite part was Po doing his “chitty chitty chat chat” thing that she’s been annoying us with ever since (thanks a lot, Jack Black!). She also loved the baby pandas, especially when they ate everything in sight. She’s not watched the first two films since we went to see them but this one has renewed her interest (and mine!) in watching those again. I’d happily pick them up on DVD now – I think this is a very solid trilogy from DreamWorks.

The House Of Magic (2013) (US Title: Thunder And The House Of Magic)

Directed by Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen

Starring: Cinda Adams, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen, Grant George, Shanelle Gray, Nina Grillo, Kyle Hebert

From: nWave Pictures, StudioCanal

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The House of Magic is a 2013 3D Belgian-French computer-animated fantasy-comedy film. The film focuses on an abandoned young cat who seeks shelter in the home of an old, retired magician with his automatons and gizmos.

My Opinion:

I admit to not fully remembering the plot of this strange little Belgian/French film (which was in English but I assume originally in French?) two years later. But I clearly remember the kind old magician, the cat he adopts, and the man’s REALLY cool magical toys (automatons and gizmos) such as that adorable lightbulb dude in the photo at the very top of this post. I also remember some great songs being used quite prominently (The Lovecats by The Cure & the always catchy House Of Fun by Madness). It’s not some big Disney, DreamWorks, etc production and that does show but I still thought that the characters, the music, and especially those inventive toys were pretty damn good! I wonder if those who made this have gone on to do more animated films? I’d like to see this sort of thing with a bigger budget. It’s a very sweet & charming film from what I remember. I wouldn’t complain at being made to watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She doesn’t now remember much of this but does remember all those really cool toys that I mentioned above. She said she’d like to watch it again too (fine with me – I’ll pick up the DVD if I see it).

Rio 2 (2014)

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy García, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx

From: Blue Sky Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids after they’re hurtled from Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets his father-in-law.

My Opinion:

Wow. I really remember very little of this except that I think it was about saving the rainforest, right? I don’t remember the first one either – I only know that these Rio movies are very bright & colorful and have some big musical numbers that are okay. This is from Blue Sky, whose movies are quite similar to DreamWorks in that I see them strictly as films aimed at kids and only truly enjoyed by kids. The only Blue Sky one I really liked was The Peanuts Movie but that’s because I’m obsessed with Peanuts & the movie stayed very true to its spirit. Don’t get me wrong – these Rio movies aren’t bad. They’re very pretty to look at & not the worst way to spend a couple of hours with your kid but I don’t think they’re very memorable. I’d have to say that the Ice Age films are a stronger series from this studio as the characters are better. Also, could they get a more annoying set of voice actors for Rio? Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann & Kristin Chenoweth(!!)?? Ugh. I think I remember Eisenberg’s bird kids in this being quite cute, though…

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She says she liked this although she couldn’t remember the specifics of it now. She said “I liked the pink frog!” (Ugh. Kristin Chenoweth.) I think it’s proof that the Rio films are pretty & enjoyable enough while being watched but are ultimately forgettable.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Directed by James Bobin

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, The Muppets

From: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.

My Opinion:

I grew up with The Muppet Show so I of course love The Muppets. Who doesn’t?! The Muppets movie in 2011 (2012 here) was pretty good. It was fun and managed to kind of capture the spirit of the original show (plus I like Amy Adams). But I found Muppets Most Wanted really disappointing even though it was great, as always, to see these beloved characters. The problem was the messy, boring story and the fact that I really didn’t like the main real-life stars. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell & Tina Fey? How do you go from Amy Adams to some TV stars? Never been a fan of any of them (in fact, who is Ty Burrell anyway? That prick in Dawn Of The Dead??). I just think they made a real mess of this movie – I’ll stick to watching my DVDs of the original show.

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She remembers this one more than I thought she would! She remembers the plot & the evil Kermit with the mole. She likes The Muppets & says she liked this movie. Maybe I should give it another try…

This is her favorite Muppet-related thing. I agree:

**I’d like to finally take this opportunity to draw attention to a favorite blogger of mine here who does fantastic paintings of The Muppets (and loads of other awesome artwork with a focus on pop culture – but I first started following him because of The Muppets). Please have a look at Scott’s site at Mojoswork.com. You can see all his Muppets artwork HERE.

Scott – I’m sorry it took me two years to finally get around to doing this review! Let me know if you want me to add any more info or if you want me to include a specific Muppets image you’ve done. 🙂 Oh! Scott does a lot of wrestling & sports stuff as well and I thought his History Of The WWF was absolutely amazing despite knowing nothing of that sort of thing myself (MIB – you should really check this out).

I figure I should end this with some Madness since I have House Of Fun in my head after talking about The House Of Magic. I miss this era of music!

The Bling Ring (2013) Review

Welcome to Coppola Week at Cinema Parrot Disco! I just so happened to watch several movies directed by both Francis Ford & Sofia Coppola in the past several months so I figured “What the hell – I might as well review them all in the same week and pretend I’m organized & shit and that I actually planned it that way!”. So, I set it for the week of Mr Coppola’s birthday (this coming Thursday).

Here we go! I’ll be reviewing two from each of them this week. Oh, and don’t go expecting big stuff like The Godfathers… I saw those years ago. These are all Coppola movies that I only saw for the very first time recently. Let’s start with a fairly recent one directed by Sofia:

The Bling Ring (2013)

Directed & Written by Sofia Coppola

Based on The Suspects Wore Louboutins by Nancy Jo Sales

Starring: Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Emma Watson, Leslie Mann

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes.

My Opinion:

This had a lot of potential as the true story is rather fascinating. This could’ve been a deep & meaningful piece exploring the worrying way in which so many teenagers today are extremely shallow & are overly obsessed with celebrities and with possessions. But it’s not! The film feels as shallow as its asshole teenagers and the asshole celebrities they stole enough designer handbags from to feed a small country. (With, like, the proceeds had they sold the handbags. I’m bad with words… You know what I mean!)

To be fair, I don’t think it’s really Sofia Coppola’s fault. I can see why she’d want to make a movie about this story but I think it’s quite hard to make a movie where every character is so completely hateful (I need to see The Hateful Eight to see if this statement is still true!). Well, okay – the one male involved in the robberies isn’t entirely hateful, which was was good since this movie desperately needed that one person who seemed human. But I have to say that Emma Watson must be a really good actress because I hated her character with a passion! Her character is the perfect example of everything that’s wrong with spoiled, self-obsessed Western youth.

As for the true story, I’ve not read the original article this movie is based on & not looked into the real people and how closely this movie portrayed things. I just don’t care enough to bother. It’s hard to really feel anything for anyone in this story. It’s basically about the “haves” stealing from the “have-even-mores”. I don’t know if this is how it really was but I got the impression that they were able to rob Paris Hilton more than once as, when you have hundreds of designer bags & shoes & pieces of jewelry, you don’t even notice when some go missing. That’s really quite sad. What these teenagers did was of course very wrong & a crime in need of punishment but, with all the horrible stuff going on in the world, no one is exactly going to cry over some celebrities having been robbed of a few possessions.

But despite the subject matter, I didn’t hate this movie. I guess I just wanted a little something more from it but it was interesting seeing just how easily these teenagers broke into these celebrity houses. You would think there would be loads of alarms, locks, etc! Never mind their possessions – aren’t celebrities worried about their personal safety? I’ll say that it seemed these teenagers broke into these houses, especially Paris Hilton’s which they kept going back to, just as much to hang out & get a taste of living the celebrity lifestyle as to steal things and that’s the only time I almost felt a little sorry for them & was reminded that they’re really just kids.

I think I was just disappointed as I really love Coppola’s Lost In Translation and think The Virgin Suicides is quite a beautiful work of art. Those films have so much style (and fantastic soundtracks! I love when Coppola puts a lot of effort into the music used in her movies). The Bling Ring just tells its story in a very straightforward way and feels much different from other Sofia Coppola movies I’ve seen. There’s nothing actually wrong with the film and I have to say I somewhat enjoyed watching it as, like the teenagers, I think a lot of us are at least a little fascinated with celebrities and the lifestyles they lead. Hey, I admit that I used to watch Cribs on MTV! 😉 This movie is a bit like watching an episode of that, in a way, and I did like seeing inside the homes & wondered how close they made them to the actual homes that were robbed. Like, does Paris Hilton actually have her face plastered all over her walls & on her throw pillows?! Lol. Bizarre. I suppose I just can’t stand the type of people this movie portrays but, once it got past what felt like 45 minutes of the characters taking duckface selfies, the movie was half over anyway as it’s quite short. A shallow film about shallow people but worth watching if you’re interested in the story and bear in mind that you’re not going to get anything deep from it.

My Rating: 6/10

Zootropolis (2016) Review

Zootropolis (2016) (aka Zootopia)

Directed by Byron Howard & Rich Moore

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Shakira

Music by: Michael Giacchino

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

My Opinion:

I’d seen very positive reviews for this but I made sure to read very little about it & only really looked at the ratings to get the overall vibe that people really liked this one. I mean, this has an 8.4 IMDB rating & is currently ranked at #150 out of the supposed Top 250 of all time. Sorry, but…. No. I still haven’t actually read any of the reviews for this so I’m not sure what people see in it that I clearly missed but I was very disappointed with this outing from Disney. And I’m, for the most part, a big fan of Disney. Sure, it has a lovely message and all that but it’s a shame that Disney let the message get in the way of actually making a good film…

Where do I start? I honestly don’t want this to turn into some long rant (plus I’m a little worried about getting a negative reaction from people). I don’t have the energy to now go & read all the reviews of this here on WordPress plus it’s been out for a few weeks in America and people always just want to move onto the next brand new release. I’ll happily read any comments from anyone who disagrees with me, though. We’ll discuss it & maybe you can talk me into liking this one a little more!

I admit that when a movie has the Disney or Pixar name attached to it, I have much higher standards for it so I know I’m probably being a little too harsh on this movie. It’s not a “bad” kids’ movie. Yes, I’m aware that Zootropolis is first & foremost for kids but it’s still hard to not compare it to something like Wreck-It Ralph, which is a thoroughly enjoyable movie for the entire family. Or The Lego Movie! That wasn’t Disney or Pixar but it was a great, funny film AND it even had a rather deep & meaningful message in the same way Zootropolis does. But the difference is that it felt like The Lego Movie first focused on having an excellent script & characters & making a really fun family film and then concentrated on the film’s fantastic message. With Zootropolis, it feels like the filmmakers came up with the message they wanted to convey first and then tried to write a story around it, resulting in a rather convoluted and far too grown-up plot that I don’t think many kids will have enjoyed that much anyway.

In the end, I think the extremely forced nature of the storyline takes away from the message they’re trying to shove down our kids’ throats. No, wait… To be honest, I think it’s the parents who are having the message shoved down their throats this time. And it’s a message I most certainly agree with but, sorry Disney, you aren’t going to change the ways of the world with a mediocre kids’ film and messy story. I think your message will have been lost on the kids, will have completely gone over the heads of the adults you’re targeting, and will have simply annoyed the adults who do agree with your message and don’t need you to preach to them.

I’ve not yet fully discussed Zootropolis with my kid but I know she understood the message behind The Lego Movie whereas, as I said, I don’t think this one managed to at all get its point across to her and to its young target audience (and she’s very bright, if I do say so myself). 😉 Here’s my attempt to discuss the movie with her: Me: “What was your favorite part of the movie?” My kid: “I don’t know….” *pause* “I don’t think Zootropolis was very good”. Well, I think that kind of says it all.

My Rating: 6/10

P.S. – Disney, please don’t stick pop stars, crappy songs, and current trends such as stupid phone apps into your movies. You’ve instantly dated your film. Stick with Pixar, who know how to make a timeless classic. The worst thing I can say about Zootropolis is that I walked out of it feeling like I’d just watched a DreamWorks movie. That’s a step in very much the wrong direction.

The Kings Of Summer, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints & X+Y Movie Reviews

I figured it was time to catch up on reviewing the movies I’ve watched by doing another quickie review trio. All three of these films were quite good (although one of them was a little on the boring side…). Let’s discuss! 🙂

The Kings Of Summer (2013)

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Starring: Nick Robinson, Moisés Arias, Gabriel Basso, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Three teenage friends, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land.

My Opinion:

I kept seeing movie bloggers on here compare The Kings Of Summer to Stand By Me and, since Stand By Me is one of the best movies EVER, I knew I had to watch it. Well, it’s certainly no Stand By Me (but what is??). However, it’s still a good modern day coming-of-age film and I can see some current young teenagers connecting to this one in the same way I connected to Stand By Me.

I have to say this was off to an excellent start when the the first song in the film was Thin Lizzy’s Cowboy Song. Yes! It was the perfect fit & had me all excited to keep watching this. But then I remembered that the film wasn’t set in the Seventies even though they were using an old song. Damn! You know what? I think this film would’ve been awesome if it had been set in 1976 or so. But maybe part of the point is that these boys choose to “live in the wild” and away from today’s modern conveniences, giving the film a somewhat timeless feel that’s pretty cool.

What I didn’t expect was the amount of humor in this as I thought it was going to be more of a coming-of-age drama. I found it kind of jarring at first but got used to it and, by the end, I enjoyed the humor. The humor is of the “Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, etc” variety. They’re a part of that group of people who mean absolutely nothing to me as I don’t watch whatever American TV show(s) they’re all in together and I think that movies that rely on these types of actors don’t always translate so well overseas. I found the film fairly funny overall but preferred when the boys were on their own & away from their crazy American TV parents. In fact, I could understand why they wanted to get the hell away from their annoying parents & go live in the woods. I did really like the token “crazy friend” who says & does some pretty bizarre things – he probably made me chuckle the most (in my head – I’m not a laugh-out-loud person):

I enjoyed this movie but was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t just a little more serious or heartfelt. It reminded me of Mud, which was another recent coming-of-age film with “boys in the wild”. I’d have to say that I actually enjoyed The Kings Of Summer more and would be more likely to watch it again but that Mud is the superior film with better performances.

The Kings Of Summer is at its best when the boys are on their own building their house in the woods as these parts of the film feel timeless in a way that will still make it relevant years from now. The film is unfortunately let down somewhat by quirky adult characters whose humor won’t work for everyone, although I personally didn’t mind it. I sound disappointed but the comparisons to Stand By Me didn’t help, I suppose. The Kings Of Summer is a very enjoyable film and is definitely worth a watch if you like coming-of-age stories as much as I do. Just don’t expect anything too deep – it’s mostly just light-hearted fun.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

Directed by David Lowery

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Ben Foster, Rami Malek, Keith Carradine, Charles Baker, Nate Parker

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met.

My Opinion:

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is the one that’s “a little on the boring side” of these three movies. I don’t have a lot to say about it so I’m going to attempt to not ramble on & to write only two paragraphs (not counting this one!). I watched this for two reasons: I liked the odd title and I have a bit of a girl crush on Rooney Mara.

As for the title, I found this in IMDB trivia: “The title is director David Lowery’s “mondegreen” – a mishearing of a song lyric – and has no actual meaning”. Interesting! But a little disappointing as I was hoping the title was meaningful in some way. As for Mara, she’s her usual type of character in this: A tiny, quiet waif with beautiful eyes and zero personality. I don’t mean that in a bitchy way – I haven’t seen some of her biggest roles yet but she’s always this exact same sort of character in what I have seen. I’d like to see her play something very different but, for this film, she was perfect for the role as the “Bonnie” type character in a very laidback & extremely slooooooooow version of the typical outlaw couple story made famous by the brilliant Bonnie And Clyde film.

This movie is worth a look if you like outlaw couple stories, a very slow pace, and some lovely cinematography that clearly takes its inspiration from Terrence Malick’s films. Actually, I suppose this movie is much more similar to Badlands than to Bonnie And Clyde. It’s hard to know whether or not to recommend it as I think you’ll either love it or be bored out of your mind. I’d say that you should make sure to watch the classics Bonnie And Clyde and Badlands first but then you’d find that this one most definitely pales in comparison. It’s a very pretty movie with shallow characters and not a lot of story but I think some film lovers have bought into its look and style. I did appreciate Ain’t Them Bodies Saints as I sometimes go for style over substance but I feel like this same sort of film has been done much better by other filmmakers in the past. Based on this movie, I’ll be interested in seeing what the director (David Lowery) does with the Pete’s Dragon remake as I adored that movie as a kid but, as much as I hate remakes, it’s one that I’ll admit could do with being updated as it’s badly dated now.

My Rating: 6/10

X+Y (2014) (aka A Brilliant Young Mind in the U.S.)

Directed by Morgan Matthews

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Jo Yang

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.

My Opinion:

Although The Kings Of Summer was my favorite of these three movies, I’d have to say that this was actually the best film of the three. By the way, this is called A Brilliant Young Mind in America. X+Y was inspired by a documentary the director (Morgan Matthews) did called Beautiful Young Minds, which was about the British team in the 2006 International Mathematical Olympiad and how many of these young mathematics geniuses have some form of autism as does Asa Butterfield’s character in X+Y.

I don’t know how to say this without sounding rude but this movie is SO very British. Well, I have to admit that the British do the “life is hard & everyone is damaged in some way” movies best. At least it’s honest & much more realistic than Hollywood movies filled with the beautiful & the perfect but I’ve always turned to movies more for escapism from the realities of life & have to be in the mood for a drama before I watch one. Don’t get me wrong, though – I far prefer a movie like this, which is filled with rich characters & good performances, to some of the shallow crap that Hollywood churns out.

The quirky British comic relief in this film is provided by Rafe Spall’s character and I liked him a lot. He deals with his own serious issue through humor and his relationship with Butterfield’s character & Butterfield’s mother (Sally Hawkins) work really well in the film. I also really enjoyed the scenes showing the British team in China. Most of all, though, the story is about an autistic boy and the difficulties faced by those who love him (specifically, his mother in this movie – the mother/son relationship is the key to this film).

X+Y is a tad too formulaic & clichéd at times but, ultimately, that doesn’t usually bother me too much as long as a movie is done well and has characters that I care about (I felt the same way about a great little obscure romance recently called In Your Eyes). This movie admittedly deserves a slightly higher rating than I’m giving it as movies with a little too much tragedy & drama aren’t really my thing but don’t be discouraged by my slight negativity if you think you’d like this. X+Y is a good film.

My Rating: 7/10

**You know I need to end this with Thin Lizzy’s Cowboy Song, as heard in The Kings Of Summer… 🙂

Elysium (2013) Review

Elysium (2013)

Directed & Written by Neill Blomkamp

Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.

My Opinion:

I had a bit of a “Matt Damon sci-fi” weekend: I watched Elysium & The Martian (finally – I’ll review that on Wednesday). I did really like Blomkamp’s District 9 and was very much in the minority, I think, in quite liking Chappie. I missed out on Elysium but after it got such bad reviews I didn’t rush to watch it. I still planned to watch it someday, though, as I love sci-fi and am always far more forgiving of flawed films in that genre. Elysium was a tiny bit better than I was expecting (but my low expectations due to bad reviews probably helped). Don’t get me wrong, though – it’s a total mess.

Elysium actually started out quite promising but, man oh man, it really lost its way. It looked impressive so I enjoyed watching the sci-fi elements such as the robots (that looked a lot like Chappie) and the utopian space station Elysium (although it was very derivative). I thought Matt Damon did quite well and I liked the story involving his childhood friend. I didn’t read any reviews of this in detail as I knew I’d watch it someday but I assume the main complaints were about the “baddies” (Jodie Foster & Sharlto Copley). They’re godawful! There are some pretty big problems with the script but the one-dimensional bad guys (with some really weird accents) are what let this film down more than anything else. Atrocious.


This movie had a good concept so I wish Blomkamp had managed to actually explore the themes and issues he clearly had in mind. Instead, the story becomes a messy & predictable action film in the second half.  It was just disappointing as I wanted the film to be a bit “deeper” than it ended up being. There are loads of mediocre sci-fi action films like this – I wanted a “smart” sci-fi (something like Moon or Ex Machina). It’s just frustrating when a film has the right elements but can’t make things work due to a weak script.

Summary:

I didn’t hate Elysium but it was certainly a disappointment. It “looked” good, though, and I liked the first half of the film plus I thought Damon did a good job. The movie showed a lot of promise until the second half when it totally lost the plot. A weak script that doesn’t at all explore the social & political themes as well as truly horrible, one-dimensional bad guys really let the film down. I’m glad I finally watched this but I’d only recommend it if you’re a big fan of sci-fi, otherwise you’ll probably feel like you’ve wasted two hours of your time. 

My Rating: 6/10