Les Diaboliques (1955) & In Fabric (2018) Reviews

Les Diaboliques (1955)

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Based on She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac

Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The wife and mistress of a loathed school principal plan to murder him with what they believe is the perfect alibi.

My Opinion:

I unfortunately saw the terrible 1996 remake of this starring Sharon Stone years ago. Rubbish! I thought I’d managed to completely put it out of my mind until halfway through this original French film, when I suddenly remembered the whole story. Damn. Well, it’s still a fantastic murder-plot-mystery thriller and I’d highly recommend the original film, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, to anyone who likes this sort of genre. (Seriously, do NOT watch the 1996 remake. Ugh.)

The wife & the mistress of the same abusive asshole plot to murder him & make it look like an accident. But many weird & inexplicable things happen as the story unfolds. The actresses in this (Simone Signoret & Véra Clouzot) are fantastic and you are rooting for them (especially the poor wife) through the whole film. And do you know what happened when the credits came up at the end of this 1955 movie?! A warning to not spoil the ending of the film for others so that they could enjoy it too! Funny. So people were dicks about spoiling movies in 1955 just like they are in 2021. At least they could avoid Twitter in 1955.

My Rating: 7.5/10

In Fabric (2018)

Directed & Written by Peter Strickland

Starring: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill, Julian Barratt, Steve Oram, Gwendoline Christie, Barry Adamson, Jaygann Ayeh, Richard Bremmer, Terry Bird, Fatma Mohamed

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a haunted red dress as it torments various owners.

My Opinion:

This was bizarre. I was very excited to see this on BBC iPlayer as it looked like just my type of thing. I like to watch these “Giallo-inspired” movies. But then they end up being really shit & I think I’d have been better off just watching an actual Italian horror from the ’70s instead of a very poor imitation. Hated that Suspiria remake too! What was the point of that?? Well, at least this was an original story instead of a remake, I guess.

I did like director Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio okay but this one didn’t really work. I’d say there were certain things I liked about it, though. The score & the look were fine (even though it’s ripping off the Giallo style – Again, I should have just checked out another Dario Argento film even though I know none are as good as Deep Red or Suspiria). There are also two stories in this weird “killer dress” movie & the second one sucks. The first one, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste & Gwendoline Christie, actually wasn’t too bad & I’d be giving the film a higher rating if it had ended there. Why did they feel the need to add the second? Also, the movie is veeeeery slow & the first story dragged on for far longer than it needed to.

I think this may have actually been a decent horror anthology instead with four or five stories involving the killer dress. I’d watch several really good stories about a killer dress! Why do one okay story & one completely rubbish one?? Well, I don’t recommend this unless you like slightly boring modern movies that poorly rip off ’70s horror classics (if you liked The Love Witch, which I thought was terrible, you’d probably like In Fabric).

My Rating: 5/10

VFW (2019) Review

Reviewed this recently in a monthly roundup post but think it kind of fits Horror Month & I quite liked it plus all the old farts in it so here it is again…

VFW (2019)

Directed by Joe Begos

Starring: Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Martin Kove, Fred Williamson, David Patrick Kelly, Sierra McCormick, Tom Williamson, Travis Hammer, Dora Madison, George Wendt, Graham Skipper

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of old war veterans put their lives on the line to defend a young woman taking shelter in their local VFW post, who’s running from a deranged drug dealer and his relentless army of drug addled punks.

My Opinion:

I rated this just below that existential art house film Wings Of Desire the month that I watched this. What can I say? I have well-rounded movie tastes.

I really enjoyed this one despite the extreme violence. I just really liked this group of old dudes! Especially loved that William Sadler was in this & he seemed to be having loads of fun in the role. He’ll always be my favorite Grim Reaper! Stephen Lang is great in the main role as a tough Vietnam veteran who has to defend his bar slash VFW post from crazed drug addicts who are after a girl who has taken shelter in the bar. Lang is one of those guys who has been in shitloads but I never really noticed him until he played that freak in Don’t Breathe (which I didn’t love). He’s perfect here, though, and I loved the main friendship he had with fellow veterans Sadler & Fred Williamson.

And as if these three aren’t cool enough, they also crammed in other “Hey, it’s that guy” actors as further fellow veterans forced to kick ass in as many violent ways as possible. We also have The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai big baddie Martin Kove, George Wendt of Cheers fame, and David Patrick Kelly from the absolute classics The Warriors & The Crow. Oh, and the girl in this, Sierra McCormick, was in a very obscure film that I liked a lot called The Vast Of Night so it was cool seeing her although her character could’ve been a bit more likeable. She should’ve been more grateful to these old dudes whose lives she’s put in danger.

VFW has real Hobo With A Shotgun, Dredd, From Dusk Till Dawn, and even a bit of The Crow vibes going on. So if you like those, you’ll probably like this! Although it’s quite not as good as those (well, maybe as good as Hobo). A few days after watching this I also realized what else it is: It’s an example of every day on Twitter. Honestly. It’s the Boomers vs the Millennials. I wonder if that was on purpose?? And, being Gen X, I did the same thing we all do and just minded my own business while watching these people fight it out. Was definitely with the Boomers on this one, though. Loved seeing them kick ass.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Minari (2020) Review

Minari (Korean: 미나리) (2020)

Directed & Written by Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, Will Patton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipdia)
A semi-autobiographical take on Chung’s upbringing, the plot follows a family of South Korean immigrants who try to make it in the rural United States during the 1980s.

My Opinion:

Was so happy to see this finally pop up on Sky Cinema as it’s one of the Best Picture nominees this year that I’d wanted to see the most. I have to say I enjoyed it much more than winner Nomadland but probably still like Promising Young Woman the most. But Minari would be a close second out of the six nominees I’ve seen.

It’s a simple story about a Korean-American family trying to start a farm in Arkansas in the 1980s. The characters are what make the film work. I’ve liked cute Steven Yeun ever since he was my favorite character Glenn on The Walking Dead and he’s good in this film. It was great seeing him in a major role. But my two favorite characters by far were his adorable young son played by Alan S. Kim and the quirky grandma played by Youn Yuh-jung. She was great & I’m happy with her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this.

I also loved this little bit of the film: I admit to having a Mountain Dew addiction (for health reasons I can’t drink it right now & it’s killing me!). Anyway – I think everyone knows it’s super high in caffeine & sugar and one of the worst things you can possibly drink so I loved that the family in this were obsessed with Mountain Dew as it’s “Water from the mountains. It’s healthy!“. That was cute. I also just really liked the relationship that forms between the boy & the grandma and also kind of liked their very weird neighbor. I wish more movies focused on having characters you care about like you do for those in Minari. I just wanted this family’s farm to be successful so they could be happy & have an easier life!

My Rating: 7.5/10

Free Guy (2021) Review

Free Guy (2021)

Directed by Shawn Levy

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Once Upon A Time In America (1984) Review

Bonus late review today! I’m trying to put together my August roundup post & ended up writing too much about this one. So I’m posting it separately. Sorry for the rubbish review of such a classic… (I didn’t love it).

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on The Hoods by Harry Grey

Starring: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Tuesday Weld, Treat Williams

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Based on Harry Grey’s novel The Hoods, it chronicles the lives of best friends David “Noodles” Aaronson and Maximilian “Max” Bercovicz as they lead a group of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence as Jewish gangsters in New York City’s world of organized crime.

My Opinion:

Being stuck in bed recuperating after a hospital stay made me decide to finally watch this almost-four-hour epic because what the hell else was I going to do with my time? It’s also a part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge so it gets another movie crossed off of that list.

Hmm. I admit that I didn’t love this one but the gangster film genre has never been a favorite of mine. I did think The Godfather I & II were good but have had no desire to rewatch them. And I’ve never even watched Casino because the violence in that sounds far too extreme for me. So I’m admittedly not the best audience for this film, which was also very violent and, er, way more rape-y than I was expecting. This won’t pass the Bechdel test! But I don’t believe in art being forced to follow some bullshit rules – This is just a warning that women aren’t treated well in this film but it’s probably an accurate representation of these violent sort of men with no morals.

I did appreciate how much time was spent showing us De Niro’s character’s past and liked the part of the film focusing on his childhood & his criminal friends the most. And, hey – Brian Bloom was in this as one of his childhood friends! He was a heartthrob in all the teen magazines I bought in the ’80s but I knew absolutely nothing he’d actually starred in (I should point out that he was also in the ridiculous “horror comedy?” The Stuff, which was horribly bad but is more my type of thing than gangster films). You almost started to care about these guys after seeing them grow up together and somehow stay loyal to each other as they became partners in crime. Almost. The characters were all truly horrible human beings and I struggle with films that have no sympathetic characters. Actually, Fat Moe was okay. Yay, Fat Moe! He was kind of likeable. Unfortunately, De Niro lost any sympathy I may have had for his character after his final “date” with the girl he claimed to love (played by Elizabeth McGovern).

Sorry for the negative sounding review! This is, admittedly, a very good and well-made film. Sergio Leone was a brilliant filmmaker. Oh, and this once again had an Ennio Morricone score. Of course. So I was very happy about that as I’m a big fan. I should point out that I really like Leone’s Dollars Trilogy (especially The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) and also far preferred Once Upon A Time In The West to In America. And those certainly aren’t passing some stupid test gauging how female characters are treated either – they’re just much more my style and I think they’re damn good films. Was hoping to like this one as much as those but do think this is as good as all the best of the gangster films that have been made.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Seconds (1966) & Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949) Reviews

I have my May Roundup post ready but ended up with two more reviews that were a bit too long for a “summary” post. So here are two final quick reviews of movies I watched in May before I post the full list of 26 movies tomorrow.

Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)

Directed by Robert Hamer

Based on Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman

Starring: Valerie Hobson, Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A distant poor relative of the Duke D’Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

My Opinion:

This was a fun film. I don’t really have any experience at all with the classic Ealing Studios films (I think this is my first?). I have an excuse, I suppose, as I didn’t grow up in England and there are still loads of British movies I’ve not seen. I’d have to say the older British films are probably more my style and I really enjoyed this one, although I’m worried I may have started with their best? It seems the most well known, anyway. And Alec Guinness was a delight in this. Anyone who knows anything about this movie at all will know all about him in this but, as I’m sure there are still some who know nothing about the film, I won’t say much.

This is a black comedy and it was amusing to see the different ways in which the main character kills off his estranged family so that he can become the Duke. The family all had fun & very different personalities. Suffragette Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne was the best and I wished we could have seen much more of that character. Also really liked photographer Henry D’Ascoyne, one of the nicer family members who just likes to have a drink now & then. There are also a couple of love triangles going on and some good back-stabbing & murder mystery twists.

This was a very enjoyable film so I’m going to check out The Ladykillers next from the Ealing Studios filmography. I’ll happily take any recommendations of other classic British films I may have missed! I think The Archers Powell & Pressburger films may be even more my style based on the gorgeous Black Narcissus that I watched this year & the masterpiece A Matter Of Life And Death which deserves WAY more attention than I think it received outside of the U.K. Oh, and I’d love classic British horror recommendations! Dead Of Night was fantastic. And, shamefully, I’ve never seen a Hammer Horror. Shocking as a horror fan.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Seconds (1966)

Directed by John Frankenheimer

Based on Seconds, a novel by David Ely

Starring: Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph, Will Geer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An unhappy middle-aged banker agrees to a procedure that will fake his death and give him a completely new look and identity – one that comes with its own price.

My Opinion:

Been meaning to watch this for years as it sounded like it could be a creepy movie with a Twilight Zone type of story, which is exactly the sort of thing I love. And it was that kind of thing! Sort of. Although I think The Twilight Zone actually had better stories & told them brilliantly in much less time.

You know I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a Rock Hudson movie before this one?? That’s pathetic. I do need to watch more old films but can see why this is what I’d go for of his stuff. I do love the weird movies! (But this is nothing compared to Butt Boy which I watched the other week). I liked the story in Seconds although, having grown up on these exact kind of stories & loving twists, it was pretty easy to predict. Still absolutely worth watching, though, if you like this kind of thing. It’s still so much better than Black Mirror, which I did enjoy some of but mostly just found it to be inferior to the shows that came before it & felt much more original than Black Mirror did.

This movie does a good job of capturing the whole “middle-aged man with perfectly fine life has a mid-life crisis & wants to start over” thing. It also explores if that would really make people happy if it was indeed possible to start over. Was this only offered to men in this movie?! Seemed to be. Typical! I think just as many women want to start over (if not more). The movie maybe could have done with a little more focus on his previous life for us to really understand what he gave up but it still got its point across. And it made up for a slight lack of character development by having a full-on naked grape-stomping orgy thrown into the middle of the film. Hell yeah! Where did that come from?! God I love when an old film throws something wild in there. Forget Blue Öyster CultSeconds has Purple Grape Örgy Cult!

Where was I?! The orgy totally threw me. I enjoyed this. I’m glad I finally watched this movie (thanks Film Miasma & Blogferatu!).

My Rating: 7/10

Hud (1963) Review

I’ll try to post my May Roundup on Friday but I’m again ending up with some reviews that are too long for my roundup post. So here’s my full review of Hud. I may post more tomorrow if I end up writing too much for any others.

Hud (1963)

Directed by Martin Ritt

Based on Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry

Starring: Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal, Brandon deWilde

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Honest and hard-working Texas rancher Homer Bannon has a conflict with his unscrupulous, selfish, arrogant and egotistical son Hud, who sank into alcoholism after accidentally killing his brother in a car crash.

My Opinion:

I looooove young Paul Newman. He was absolutely gorgeous so, yes, I admit that was 100% the reason why I stuck on this 1963 film about a cattle rancher. He’s fantastic in this, although it broke my heart that he was such a bastard. At first I thought his character was going to be a lovable sexy rogue like Han Solo but, nope – the character of Hud has no redeeming qualities.

This was a very good character study with excellent performances so was well worth a watch. Newman plays arrogant & cold-hearted Hud, who clashes with his father (played by Melvyn Douglas). Hud disagrees with how his father runs their ranch and they have very different values. Hud’s likeable nephew (Brandon deWilde) lives on the ranch with them and looks up to cool, womanizing Hud. Their housekeeper, played by Patricia Neal, also lives at the ranch and is always ignoring Hud’s advances because she knows what kind of man he is and doesn’t want that trouble in her life.

Neal was brilliant in this! Loved her character. Neal & Douglas won acting Oscars for Hud and they were well deserved. Newman was also nominated and it looks like deWilde wasn’t but they both deserve recognition as well – everyone did such a great job in this film. I had to look up deWilde & Neal as didn’t know them from anything else and I really liked them both in this.

deWilde’s biggest role was possibly as a kid in Shane (I did see that) and he sadly died young at the age of 30 in a car accident. Neal was married to Roald Dahl (I didn’t know that) and it sounds like she had quite a difficult life. I’d definitely watch her in another film based on her excellent performance in Hud. What also really worked in this film were the different ways in which each of these characters interacted with selfish Hud and how the nephew really grows & learns from seeing how Hud behaves. I highly recommend Hud to anyone who likes old dramas with very strong Oscar-worthy performances. Just be prepared for Newman being very unlikeable and going way too far while drunk at one point.

Luckily, Newman was an absolute sweetheart in real life so we can appreciate what a fine actor he was to be able to portray such a jerk in Hud. And we can also appreciate the below picture of him since he was actually a nice guy…

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021) & Abominable (2019) Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two fun family films that I really enjoyed.

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021)

Directed by Mike Rianda

Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a dysfunctional family that winds up having to save Earth from a robot uprising while on a road trip.

My Opinion:

This movie was surprisingly good! I’m a bit snobby when it comes to animated films if they’re anything other than Studio Ghibli, Pixar or Disney. This is from Sony Pictures Animation who, to be fair, have made a lot of fairly rubbish films (other than Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse which was absolutely brilliant – what happened there?!). Well, this obviously isn’t as good as that one as that would be really hard to beat but it was loads of fun & certainly better than most everything put out by DreamWorks (I’m really not a fan of DreamWorks most of the time either).

Now, I’m going to keep this super short but I just wanted to do a quick post to give this recognition outside of my monthly roundup post of up to 20 or so films to say: “Hey, this movie is quite good & and one of those family films aimed at all ages & not just kids so is one that the whole family can enjoy!. Because I love family movies that aren’t just dumb humor that only very young kids can enjoy. I mean, hell, this movie has a They Live reference! A John Carpenter reference in an animated family film! And it has robots and I love robots. And, for us movie blogging weirdos, the main teenage girl is a massive movie nerd going off to film school to make movies so I know that’s also really helped to make Film Twitter go “Hell yeah!” to this movie. Oh yeah – and Mark Mothersbaugh did the music (I love Devo!). The characters are fun & likeable misfits and my pre-teen laughed in a way I’ve not heard her laugh while watching a movie in AGES. I could do with seeing it again as I was exhausted that night & a bit snoozy so maybe this rating will go up on a rewatch. Good fun, though! Am glad they make stuff like this for everyone.

My Rating: 7/10

Abominable (2019)

Directed & Written by Jill Culton

Starring: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin

Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Production companies: DreamWorks Animation & Pearl Studio

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a teenage girl named Yi, who encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in Shanghai, names him Everest and embarks on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth along with her mischievous friends Jin and Peng, but the trio of friends will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish, a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara to help Everest get home.

My Opinion:

Okay, this is a DreamWorks film and as I said above, I’m really not a fan most of the time. I don’t even like Shrek all that much. Looking at their list of films now, I honestly think the Kung Fu Panda ones are my favorites. That’s probably thanks to me loving Jack Black plus an amazing score from Hans Zimmer. Honestly – go listen to Oogway Ascends (HERE)! That’s some gorgeous music for an animated film! I don’t expect that from DreamWorks – it’s Pixar who normally have the beautiful scores (Inside Out, Finding Nemo & WALL-E are some of the all-time best film scores). Oh, and don’t even get me started on Joe Hisaishi’s Studio Ghibli scores! Absolute perfection.

Well, I think I may have a new DreamWorks favorite. I liked Abominable a lot! Maybe my expectations were low? It’s very much my vibe, though – I love this sort of setting & music (it’s set in Shanghai). I thought the Yeti was lovable & adorable (I want one!) and the main characters were really good (especially the teen girl who befriends the Yeti she names Everest). And speaking of music, yes, it also had some lovely music as well. Oh, and the animation was very pretty. The girl goes on a journey with two friends to return Everest to his home after he escapes from a research facility. I’ll keep this one short as well as I don’t have much to say other than: “Yay! This was so good & I really liked a DreamWorks movie for a change and I want my own adorable Yeti!” Oh – the pre-teen loved this one as well. So maybe go more by what she says because she can be even more picky than I am.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Hunt (2020) Review

The Hunt (2020)

Directed by Craig Zobel

Produced by Jason Blum & Damon Lindelof

Written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof

Starring: Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Madigan, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Hilary Swank

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen – for a very specific purpose – The Hunt.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe I thoroughly enjoyed two Blumhouse Production films in a row! I reviewed The Invisible Man last week & explained how their films have been very hit or miss for me but I liked The Invisible Man a lot. Well, I liked this one a lot too. I think I actually liked this even more than that one, although I’d say the The Invisible Man is the better “film”.

Now I have to attempt to explain why I liked this but, to be honest, I don’t exactly know why. I’ll see if I can figure it out while I type my random thoughts! But it’s far more violent than I tend to go for (I’m a wuss). It’s very political (I hate politics). There’s loads of gun violence (I hate guns). Most of the characters are hateful except for the main woman (I hate hateful people). Umm. Yeah… What DID I like?!?

I think what I liked, and I may be completely wrong about this, but I felt like the movie didn’t really take sides (well, a little). It’s clearly about how, in America, there’s this huge divide between the left & the right and everyone is so extremely one-sided. There’s no common sense or middle ground. And it’s well-known that Hollywood tends to be quite far left so I was expecting the movie to be very pro-left but it seemed to show both sides as bad. At first I couldn’t figure out who the hunters were & who was being hunted (it was the opposite of what I expected). The movie actually shows the left more as the “bad guys” (but, more specifically, the liberal elite – so they’re having a good dig at most of rich Hollywood). Which is funny as the movie was super controversial & almost wasn’t released & the right misinterpreted it as an anti-right film before even seeing it. Which perfectly proves the film’s point of jumping to conclusions when you just assume someone’s political stance without attempting to find out any actual facts.

Enough about politics. Yuck. Basically, both sides suck. Everyone in this movie sucks. Only one person doesn’t suck, and that’s Betty Gilpin’s badass main character. She’s great in this & I loved her character. And what are HER character’s politics? That’s the best part: We don’t know! Because it doesn’t matter. She’s a mystery. All we know is that she’s being hunted and no one should be hunted like that. She kicks ass and she might have some dodgy past for her to be so capable of fighting back but, in the grand scheme of things, she’s less evil than everyone else. And I feel that’s all we have left in politics these days: doing our best to choose the lesser of two evils.

I think this movie had a great idea to try to be a smart satire on American politics but felt it didn’t quite manage to get its point across. I wish the script was a bit better as I do like this film’s idea & what I think they were trying to achieve. Are they trying to let the left & the right know that they both suck and are both flawed? Not sure. I don’t know exactly what the movie is trying to say but I give it credit for having the balls to try to say something during such unstable times.

Although it may not quite achieve being some super smart satire, it makes up for it by being a very entertaining horror thriller/horror comedy. As mentioned, Betty Gilpin is awesome as the main “hero” of those being hunted. There’s not much character development for anyone but this is a time I’ll let that slide as one point of this movie is to not make assumptions about people & we really know nothing about anyone in this. Doesn’t matter! They still don’t deserve to be murdered. I also thought Hilary Swank was fantastic as the big “baddie”. Swank is an odd one: two-time Oscar winner who seemed to then get ignored by Hollywood & ended up being in some really dodgy and straight-to-Netflix films. But I loved Million Dollar Baby and I liked seeing her in a very different role here & obviously having a lot of fun as an evil bitch. She was cool. Two cool, badass women who get a kick ass showdown. I enjoyed that a lot. Oh! And I also really liked the bits with Amy Madigan & whoever the actor dude was who ran the small gas station (think it was a gas station?). They were fun characters. Oh! And it was weird seeing Ethan Suplee as I’m watching so much My Name Is Earl lately and Randy is my favorite character (but he couldn’t be less like Randy here). So I guess there are quite a few specific things I really enjoyed about this movie even though I always feel uncomfortable “enjoying” a violent film. It helps that it’s satire and some of the violence is done in a comedic way (I think they should have upped the “horror comedy” to make that more obvious).

As I said, the film is still a bit too violent for me and I’d hesitate to recommend it to some who may find it upsetting. It will be uncomfortable for some people as I know the actual delay in releasing this was due to mass shootings that had just occurred in America, making them push the release date back since the film is about people being hunted & killed mostly by guns. How on Earth did it ever get released, then, since mass shootings are a daily occurrence there? Once again typical that a movie is more likely to get banned than the things that actually kill people but, whatever, we won’t go there! And again we also come to the argument of “is violence in film okay if the point of the movie is anti-violence?” Although in this case, I wouldn’t say that’s exactly the message of the film (it’s more of a “FFS, America – try to get along!” message). I thought about the ultra-violent “anti-violence” thing in some films a lot after finally watching and liking Natural Born Killers way more than I was expecting I would. I don’t know the answer. But I prefer violence in movies where there’s a message and it’s a shame that, with movies such as this and Natural Born Killers, some people seem to completely miss the point when it comes to satirical films. Don’t kill people, okay? This movie isn’t telling you to kill people with an opposing political opinion. It’s, like, telling you to NOT do that. Yeah? Okay. Don’t do that.

You know what? This is one of those times where I’ve talked myself into liking a movie even more after writing & thinking about it. I think there’s actually a pretty good film buried in here somewhere. It has a great idea. It just doesn’t do the satire thing as well as it wanted to and I wish it had as I love what (I think?!) its message is and Betty Gilpin is cool as shit and Hilary Swank is a fun ice cold bitch. And it’s also made me think about this movie quite a lot since seeing it and trying to decide what its main message is and that’s more than I can say for the majority of films these days.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Invisible Man (2020) Review

The Invisible Man (2020)

Directed & Written by Leigh Whannell

Produced by Jason Blum & Kylie du Fresne

Based on Characters and concepts created by H. G. Wells for The Invisible Man

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a woman who believes she is being stalked and gaslit by her abusive and wealthy boyfriend even after his apparent suicide, and ultimately deduces that he has acquired the ability to become invisible.

My Opinion:

I missed out on this one at the time. I think it was because it was at the start of the pandemic so I missed it in the cinema & then didn’t have the streaming service it went to just after that. I wasn’t that bothered anyway as it’s a Leigh Whannell & Blumhouse film and they’re both very hit or miss (but mostly miss, especially with the horror stuff). While I do like the story Whannell wrote for the first Saw movie, I hated the sequels as they became way too gross and it turned me off of liking Saw at all anymore. I’ll never understand that torture porn crap. And I’ve just looked up Blumhouse Productions to see the full list of their films and, wow, the quality is all over the place on those. How can you go from good stuff like Whiplash to a lot of very meh or absolutely rubbish horror such as Unfriended (god I hated that movie). I also have to admit one other thing: I really don’t like Elisabeth Moss, although I have no good explanation for that. So this movie had a lot against it but then Horror Twitter started raving over it. To be fair, Horror Twitter raves over every horror movie so I’ve learned to ignore that but it did make me a little curious.

Damn, I thought this movie was pretty great. At least, it’s pretty damn good when compared to all the rubbish modern horror that gets made and compared to a lot of the other Blumhouse horror output. This is my type of horror: supernatural, psychological, and none of that in-your-face gory crap. It’s pretty intense, as the guy is invisible (obviously!) and you never know when he’s there stalking Elisabeth Moss. That was all very effective with some cool reveals to show his presence. I also thought that using this story in the context of an abusive relationship worked really well without it feeling like it was just trying to be “woke”. Plenty of psychological thrillers have involved abusive relationships & the thought of an abuser having the ability to become invisible is terrifying. But I should admit now that I’ve never seen the first film made & don’t really know the original H. G. Wells Invisible Man story so I’m kind of just assuming it’s not about an abused woman but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! I’d like to see the 1933 Claude Rains film now.

One other positive about this movie: The characters are pretty good (for a horror film). I even ended up liking Elisabeth Moss okay! It’s one of those movies where no one believes the main character & they think she’s going crazy, of course, which is super cliché in horror but that’s because these kind of stories require that. Of course no one is going to believe that some dude has made himself invisible. So that adds to the character’s feeling of isolation and having to find a way to fight this on her own. Oh! And I loved the ending. I usually hate horror endings! Her detective friend & his daughter were also strong & likeable characters (man, I was so worried about them). The abusive “Invisible Man” himself character was pretty one-dimensional, though – there’s really no character development there to explain why he does this. The character of the sister of Moss was also not great & kind of just there to be a “bitch” for not believing Moss but, hey, in horror I’m happy with three likeable characters and a main character who gets some good development going from an abused woman to someone ready to fight back.

The only slight negative about this movie, besides a pretty one-dimensional baddie (which doesn’t bother me that much – I don’t care to know why a bad guy is bad), is that I have to admit it’s a bit too long & is too slow to really get going. I don’t want to be one of those people who moans about the length of a film, though. I love some very long movies, such as Seven Samurai. This isn’t exactly an epic Kurosawa film though, is it? The Invisible Man is actually only just over two hours long but feels longer due to such a slow start so I think that could have been improved a bit.

The length & early pacing are just minor complaints as, overall, I liked this movie a lot. It won’t be an “all-time favorite” like the ’70s & ’80s horrors I grew up with and it isn’t quite up there with the very few rare modern horrors I loved such as The Babadook & It Follows. But it’s a very good psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat at times and I really enjoyed it. I’m always happy to see a good horror film. Hubby often asks me why I watch so many crappy horrors. I don’t want to watch crappy horrors – I want to watch good ones. I give them all a chance just in case I luck out & see a good one. The Invisible Man is a good one.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Bloodsport (1988) Review

Bloodsport (1988)

Directed by Newt Arnold

Story by Sheldon Lettich

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb, Leah Ayres, Norman Burton, Forest Whitaker, Bolo Yeung

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
“Bloodsport” follows Frank Dux, an American martial artist serving in the military, who decides to leave the army to compete in a martial arts tournament in Hong Kong where fights to the death can occur.

My Opinion:

Yeah! Bloodsport!! This is where my rating system is confusing to people (maybe?!). This movie is terrible. But I’m giving it a 7.5, about the same as my recent ratings for Promising Young Woman & Swallow, both of which I really enjoyed & thought were good. I’ve not yet reviewed these but I’m giving two absolute worthy classics that I watched this past month a 7.5 as well (Battleship Potemkin & The Innocents). Why?! I don’t know. I just rate on a combination of a) how much I enjoyed a movie (this is the first & most important), and then b) if it’s a “good” or worthy film. I gave Mank a 7/10. I didn’t enjoy that one at all, really, but I know it’s “good” so I gave it a 7 to be nice. But I had a hell of a lot more fun watching Bloodsport!

First of all, shockingly as I grew up in the ’80s and adore that decade & love everything from it, this is the first & only Jean-Claude Van Damme movie I’ve seen. I just always avoided him & Steven Seagal as their movies looked rubbish. I mean, we had Sylvester Stallone & especially Arnold Schwarzenegger at the time making some damn good movies, so why would I want to watch bad action movies? Well, I suppose Van Damme & Seagal were a bit later & more into the ’90s but you know what I mean. I just didn’t see the point of watching their shit. Plus Van Damme had a terrible mullet in later movies. He was kind of a cutie in this early film, though. And, wow – that ASS! I’m fine with the only nudity in this being male nudity. What a butt! (Why can’t I find a decent image of that butt to post here?! Found a nice gif, though. May have watched that a few times…)

I think it actually helped that I watched this for the first time in 2021, so I thoroughly enjoyed the absolute ’80s fucking cheese of this. So I felt nostalgic whereas I probably would have just thought this was bad if I’d watched it in 1988 when it came out. And it actually looks & feels more like an early ’80s movie, not late ’80s when movies started to get a little bland (that’s a good thing – the early ’80s feel works for this martial arts genre). The early & late ’80s were a lot different as there was a spillover of the groovy ’70s at first. I suppose it made this feel a tiny bit closer to the ’70s masterpiece Enter The Dragon. Not that I’m comparing them, exactly – I just don’t have much experience in the martial arts film genre so am going to think of the very few others I’ve seen plus a bunch of people come together to fight “to the possible death” in both movies. But Enter The Dragon is awesome and a classic (8.5/10 – I loved it AND thought it was actually good).

Van Damme is good in this, I guess. He’s great at the martial arts stuff, at least. Right? I don’t know. What do I know? I’m a wuss & know no martial arts. He’s maybe not so great at the acting stuff but no one watches this kind of movie for Oscar worthy performances. And I loved his friend in this (Jackson, played by Donald Gibb, the big dude who played Ogre in Revenge Of The Nerds). He was funny & super likeable in a big dumb doofus sort of way. And Van Damme’s training at the start of the movie was hilariously silly. There’s a thing he’s made to do where you just KNOW he’s gonna have to use it at the end of the film. How convenient! Ha! Well, there are a few things he learned while training which came in super handy at the end (those splits!). And why on Earth did the young version of Van Damme look nothing whatsoever like him plus he sounded weird (was there odd dubbing or ADR or some shit – I dunno, I know nothing about this stuff either!).

So, back to the splits… Van Damme does those painful looking splits so many times in this thing. First time was funny as hell while tied up to trees and the final time was way up high overlooking everything because, yeah, who wouldn’t want to sit there on painful stone doing painful splits while getting massive vertigo? Here’s what I’m talking about:

Actually, I just looked up “Bloodsport splits” for an image and there were so many from this movie that I’m just gonna go ahead & stick them all in here. Love it!

I guess that’s impressive, though. Ouch! All I can say is THIS:

As I’m an idiot who knows nothing about this stuff I’ll say that I did read about the film & it’s based on some guy’s “true story”. So I don’t want to go dumping on the movie too much. But I’m a little concerned now & thinking that there are huge underground death-matches going on for real! Is this a thing?!? Well, the real guy is Frank Dux & his claims are disputed. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it: “According to Dux, a ninjutsu expert named Senzo Tanaka trained him as a ninja when he was a teenager. He established his own school of ninjutsu called Dux Ryu Ninjutsu, and has said he won a secret martial arts tournament called the Kumite in 1975. His alleged victory at the Kumite served as the inspiration for the 1988 film Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Dux’s victory at the Kumite has been disputed, as has the existence of both the Kumite he described and Senzo Tanaka.

Well. I kind of loved this movie? Or, at least, I loved watching it. As I tried to watch a lot of dreary & depressing Oscar nominees the past few months, it was nice to just relax and have good giggles over a fun ’80s movie. Oh, and there’s lots of fighting in this too if you like that kind of thing! Nice – I didn’t even mention the actual fighting in this “fight to the death” film! Whatever. I’m a girl. I was distracted by his butt. The fighting was great. I do actually love these fights. I think I might actually like these martial arts films?? I’ve now seen this, Enter The Dragon, Fist Of Fury & Ip Man (now THAT is a damn good film). Fun! I like. What martial arts film should I watch next?

My Rating: 7.5/10

Oh, let’s end this post with this amazing backwards kick thingy he used on this dude.

Sound Of Metal (2019) & My Octopus Teacher (2020) Reviews

Figured I should review these two films since the Oscars are this weekend & they’re nominated. I also watched a few nominated shorts, so I’ll briefly mention those at the end of this post as well (If Anything Happens I Love You, The Present, A Love Song for Latasha, Burrow & Two Distant Strangers).

Sound Of Metal (2019)

Directed by Darius Marder

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Sound of Metal is a 2019 American drama film directed and co-written by Darius Marder starring Riz Ahmed as a metal drummer who loses his hearing.

My Opinion:

I don’t know how to write a full review anymore. I can’t believe I used to do a full review post for pretty much each & every movie I watched?! I think the monthly roundup posts I do now with just a paragraph or so for each movie works better for me as, especially in the past few years, I just don’t have much to say about most current films. I feel like I’ve seen so many movies now that nothing ever feels new or original. It’s probably why I’m going back to exploring much older films that I haven’t yet seen. Movies used to be so much better than they are now. Or am I just old & bitter?!

Why am I rambling? I think it’s because, despite Sound Of Metal certainly being a good film with good performances, I don’t have much to say about it. I mean, it’s not exactly up there with Oscar winners of the past, is it? It’s not The Sound Of Music or The Bridge On The River Kwai, is it? But I’ve felt this way about the Best Picture nominees for years now. Where are the sweeping epics??? It’s all dreary drama now. It’s all performance based. I can appreciate a good performance but it’s not something I’ve ever cared about too much. I mean, I’d rather have an awesome movie with meh performances than a meh movie with awesome performances. But that may just be me. I wouldn’t say Sound Of Metal is at all meh, of course. I just think it’s one that should be up for the acting awards and not Best Picture. (Though I liked it more than the other Best Picture nominees I’ve seen! The Trial Of The Chicago 7 & Mank – those were pretty meh).

Okay, I feel like I’m being negative about this movie when it’s likely to stay one of the films I liked the most after I see all the Best Picture nominees. I’m just venting my frustration at the lack of truly amazing films nowadays. Paul Raci & especially Riz Ahmed were very good & I’m happy to see them nominated. I think they both don’t stand a chance of winning but I’d like to see Ahmed recognised for his work. Also liked Olivia Cooke as his girlfriend but was disappointed that we didn’t see much of their relationship & saw hardly anything to do with their band & career. And, yes – I wanted more actual metal. I’m a big music fan of all genres (well, other than country) and like a lot of metal. I know the focus of the film is the character’s loss of hearing but I’d still have liked to see a little more to do with his music and with his relationship with his girlfriend. I didn’t feel we got to know them well by the end of the film. Also, we didn’t get to know him well enough beforehand to truly understand his loss and what it meant to him.

Well, I’m just nitpicking now. It’s a good film. It gave a good look into the lives of those who have lost their hearing & I liked how they worked together to live with it. And I hope it wins the Oscar for sound – It would be a worthy winner. I could maybe be convinced to give this half a star more but I’ve ranked it 4th for 2021 U.K. releases & I only gave those above it 7/10. So I better stick with a 7 for now…

My Rating: 7/10

My Octopus Teacher (2020)

Directed by Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed

Starring: Craig Foster, Tom Foster, Octopus (Rosetta), Pyjama Shark

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
My Octopus Teacher is a 2020 Netflix Original documentary film directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, which documents a year spent by filmmaker Craig Foster forging a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest.

My Opinion:

I’m terrible about watching documentaries. I don’t know why, as I do enjoy the really good ones but I have to force myself to watch them. So I’m rating & ranking documentaries separately from the movies that I watch as it’s hard to compare them. As far as documentaries go, this is easily my favorite that I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t even like octopuses! (Octopi???). Honestly, they’re creepy little things. They’re fascinating but they’re f*^king weird.

I loved this little octopus by the end of this documentary! I wasn’t expecting to like this so much, so they clearly did a great job with the film. Man, I was so stressed whenever the dangerous shark fish thingies that wanted to eat the octopus got anywhere near her. I was all “Oh no! Swim away, little octopus! Hurry!!!” I was extremely concerned about this octopus. It’s amazing that this dude went diving every single day to watch her. You really do feel like you’re on this journey with him & I loved watching the octopus adapt & learn. Who knew octopuses were so smart?? Brilliant creatures. I may become an octopus fan now thanks to this fantastic documentary.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Nominated Shorts I’ve Seen (with super brief thoughts):

If Anything Happens I Love You – I already reviewed this a little bit in the link so don’t need to say much more than “This is utterly heartbreaking“. A hard one to watch but a powerful animated short with a message that won’t make the slightest bit of difference in America. Things are never going to change there – I lost hope years ago. Would be happy if this won the Oscar.

The Present – Thought this was a really good short showing the struggles some people face in doing the most basic day to day things in life that those of us in other countries take completely for granted. It’s why I get so annoyed with people constantly whining about the stupidest shit on Twitter. Shut up with your first world problems!

A Love Song for Latasha – This is a very short film worth checking out on Netflix. Another very heartbreaking short, this is the Wikipedia synopsis for this true story: “Drawing on memories from the subject’s cousin and best friend, the film reimagines the life of Latasha Harlins, a Black Los Angeles girl shot and killed by a convenience store owner in 1991.

Burrow – This is a cute Pixar short (well, one of the SparkShorts shorts). It’s not up there in quality with the likes of the other Pixar shorts that were shown in cinemas before films. Enjoyable but forgettable – Pixar has many better shorts than this one.

Two Distant Strangers – This is a short also on Netflix. It’s another important message but unfortunately not as well done as the other nominees I’ve seen. To be honest, though, I never watch enough of the short films & find them hard to judge as it must be difficult to fully develop your characters & ideas in such a small amount of time. Is the quality of filmmaking here Oscar-worthy? I don’t know but I think it’s common for shorts & documentaries to be nominated more for their message so I suppose it’s good that they get more people watching them thanks to their nominations. The actors did a decent enough job in this with an okay script & one-dimensional characters.

**I’m now able to watch Promising Young Woman, so I’ll try to watch it & get a review posted before the Oscars. I’ll do a post tomorrow with all the nominees & links to my reviews of all the films I’ve managed to see. Disappointing year so far! But I have yet to see a lot of those nominated in the major categories.

What are your favorite Oscar nominees this year & what do you most want to see win?

Five Feet Apart, The Knight Before Christmas & Destination Wedding Movie Reviews

Five Feet Apart (2019)

Directed by Justin Baldoni

Starring: Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moisés Arias

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film was inspired by real life couple Dalton and Katie Prager, who both suffered from cystic fibrosis. Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse play two young patients with cystic fibrosis, who try to have a relationship despite always being forced to stay a certain distance away from each other.

My Opinion:

I admit it – I can be a bit of a film snob but these YA movie adaptations (and the books) are a guilty pleasure of mine. I tend to read the YA novels before watching the film adaptations but I didn’t in this case, so I can’t compare it to the book. I’m sure the book is better, as is usually the case, but I really liked this movie and the characters. It probably helped to not read the book for a change, as I never fully enjoy the movies when I’m comparing them to the book in my head the entire time.

This is very much like The Fault In Our Stars, so will have the same group of fans. In fact, I think I liked it more than that one? Fault has a higher IMDb rating as I think it’s just much more well known but I liked the characters in this one more and Haley Lu Richardson is VERY good in this. She won’t get any attention, however, as YA films don’t really get any respect but I found her very genuine & believable in a way that I didn’t really get from Shailene Woodley in Fault. I’m feeling extremely old, though, as the male love interest (Cole Sprouse) is one of the twins who played the son of Ross on Friends. Yikes! Anyway, these two of course fall in love (not exactly a spoiler as it’s so damn obvious that’s gonna happen) and they have good chemistry and I believed them as a couple. Again, more than the couple in Fault but I do like both films – I just slightly prefer the characters in Five Feet Apart (including a friend of theirs, played by Moisés Arias). I think it’s just a case of this book & movie not being as well known and being too similar as a part of the “dying teenage romance” sub-genre that it’s not had as much attention. I definitely recommend it to any YA fans.

I also didn’t know it was inspired by a real life couple (Dalton and Katie Prager) until I looked the movie up for this review. I suppose that also makes it feel more real. It’s heartbreaking but the film handles the situation well, without becoming too soppy or saccharine (which I can’t stand). It’s told in a straightforward way, though I’m sure the drama at the end was added on to make it more “exciting”. My only small issue with the movie is that the parents were barely in it – They focused SO much on only the teens. But I suppose that’s what a younger audience wants to see. It’s only a small complaint, though, as I thought this was a really good YA movie with strong characters & an especially good performance from Richardson.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Knight Before Christmas (2019)

Directed by Monika Mitchell

Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Josh Whitehouse, Emmanuelle Chriqui

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A medieval English knight is magically transported to the present day where he falls for a high school science teacher who is disillusioned by love.

My Opinion:

What can I say about this? It’s exactly what I was expecting from a cheesy Netflix Christmas romance. It’s stupid, of course. But sometimes you’re in the mood for this kind of thing. My kid is a fan of Vanessa Hudgens and we had fun watching The Princess Switch together so had to check this out too. I admit I was wrapping Christmas presents at the time, though, so this didn’t have my full attention. It didn’t need it. It’s honestly one of those movies that you stick on in the background while you’re doing other stuff. Wow – that sounds insulting. They won’t stick that quote on the movie’s poster! This movie is fine. I used to watch a lot of TV movies when I was young (and had the time for that sort of thing) & this movie is no worse (or better) than those. I’ll forget it in a year but it’s completely innocent & inoffensive. The Princess Switch is much better, though. I now have the urge to watch a Nancy McKeon or Melissa Gilbert TV movie from my era. I guess Vanessa Hudgens is becoming this era’s McKeon/Gilbert/Meredith Baxter (but those ’80s TV movies were more my thing – crime, murder, loads of drama & a bit of supernatural weirdness. Much better than romance!).

My Rating: 5.5/10

Destination Wedding (2019)

Directed & Written by Victor Levin

Starring: Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of two miserable and unpleasant wedding guests, Lindsay and Frank, who develop a mutual affection despite themselves.

My Opinion:

Well, it’s obvious that I grew up in the Eighties so there was no way I was going to NOT watch a movie starring Winona Ryder & my beloved Keanu Reeves. It’s bad, though. Like, really bad. If it starred actors I hate, I’d have turned it off. But it’s actors I love so it was tolerable despite the fact that they didn’t shut the fuck up the entire time. I think the movie was just trying to be like Before Sunrise, etc, as it focuses on a couple who have just met and then spend hours talking to each other. And talking. And talking. And talking. But, with Linklater’s films, the conversation is brilliant. You want to listen to it. These two characters were just a little too annoying, though. However, I liked their attitudes as I’m a negative person too and would fit right in with them. But I wouldn’t talk so damn much as I know I have nothing interesting to say. They don’t seem to realize that they have nothing interesting to say either. Fuck it – I’ll give the movie an average score since it’s still Keanu & Winona and I still love the shit out of them.

My Rating: 5/10

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Review

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Based on Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Danny Glover, Danny DeVito

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This time, the adventures continue in the fantastic world of Jumanji, where nothing is what it seems to be. The players must return to the dangerous game; however, their characters have exchanged with each other leaving us the same heroes but with different looks. Moreover, we must find out where the rest of the players are in order to beat Jumanji again.

My Opinion:

I honestly kind of love these new Jumanji films. There aren’t enough good live-action “family” movies nowadays and they fill that gap perfectly. We had so many fun family movies in the 80s! Why do they make so few now? And by good I mean ones that are enjoyable for all ages. A lot of family films are aimed at pleasing only the kids in the audience and they’re a waste of time. Family movies don’t have to be dumb or boring for anyone over the age of 10. I want to take my kid to movies that I enjoy just as much as she does, dammit. And we (and the hubby!) thoroughly enjoyed this and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

I’m old. I was an adult when the first Jumanji came out in 1995 so it’s not special to me in the same way that it is to those who were kids at the time. I do like it as I really liked Robin Williams but I think this reboot(?) has been fantastic. And, admittedly, the first one is very dated in that way that so many 90s movies with certain special effects now are. As much as I normally hate reboots, etc, they can sometimes work when they get them right. Those who loved the 1995 film will now have (or soon have) kids they can watch these with and updating it into a video game was a wise choice. But, mostly, the new ones are damn funny. Good writing and a good cast has made for two really good family cinema trips. For me, they took a great original idea and managed to improve on it with these.

I won’t ramble on forever since I have lots of 2019 movie reviews to catch up on. If you liked Welcome To The Jungle, you’ll like this. If for some strange reason you didn’t like the last one, you won’t like this. Yes, it’s essentially the same story again but mixing up the characters was a great way to make this one different from the last. It was funny to see who was better at acting out different people this time. Surprisingly, Kevin Hart was a big highlight as he’s hilarious doing Danny Glover impressions. Spot on! And his bickering with Dwayne Johnson was a delight. I can’t say I really believed Johnson as Danny DeVito, though, and I always love Jack Black but he’s still best as Bethany (Madison Iseman). It didn’t matter too much, though, as it was still funny and there’s an extra surprise in store that I won’t spoil. Oh, and I loved seeing DeVito & Glover for a decent amount of time before getting into the game. I’m ready for this to be a trilogy (and I’m sure that’s likely, as is hinted at in an end credits scene).

My Rating: 7.5/10

Knives Out (2019) Review

Knives Out (2019)

Directed & Written by Rian Johnson

Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer, Frank Oz

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Described as a modern take on the whodunit, the film follows a family gathering gone awry, after the family patriarch’s death leads a master detective to investigate.

My Opinion:

I’m waaaaay behind on reviewing the 2019 releases that I’ve seen so I’ll try to catch up on reviewing them over the next few days. So here’s a quickie for Knives Out, which was a thoroughly enjoyable film. I don’t have a lot to say about it, though. It’s a really fun take on an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery but it’s exactly what I expected. I remember taking a special trip into London to see Rian Johnson’s Brick when it came out so knew he was capable of an intriguing story in this genre.

I loved the “star power” in this. What a cast! Being an old fucker myself, I appreciated the fact that so many older actors were used. Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette & Frank Oz were all great. For the younger crowd, they got to lust over Chris Evans in sweaters. He was good as well, although his role was smaller than I expected. Daniel Craig was good as the detective too but he had a weird accent that got a little annoying. The two best performances, however, were from Christopher Plummer & from Ana de Armas as the breakout star of the film. Damn – I thought she was just a pretty face after Blade Runner 2049 but she’s fantastic in this film.

The strong characters are what really make this movie, and that’s the main thing I care about, but the story was damn good as well. Who doesn’t like a murder mystery? I personally don’t like intense murder mystery dramas, though. I’m not a gritty “true crime” thriller fan (in fact, it’s probably my least favorite genre – I started watching Zodiac recently and have yet to bother finishing it). Knives Out isn’t like that. It has a lighthearted approach & a sense of humor & brilliant characters. In fact, as I write this I’m starting to like it even more. I don’t think it quite lives up to the massive amount of hype (it’s currently in the IMDb Top 250, which is ridiculous) but I really appreciated seeing an original story for a change as I’m so sick of sequels, remakes. reboots & superheroes. Hey Hollywood – Can we please have more movies like this one?

My Rating: 7.5/10

Le Mans ‘66 (Ford v Ferrari) (2019) Review

Le Mans ‘66 (aka Ford v Ferrari) (2019)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring: Matt Damon, Carroll Shelby, Christian Bale, Ken Miles, Jon Bernthal, Lee Iacocca, Caitriona Balfe, Mollie Miles, Tracy Letts, Henry Ford II, Henry Ford, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, Enzo Ferrari, Ray McKinnon, JJ Feild, Jack McMullen, Gian Franco Tordi, Benjamin Rigby, Ben Collins, Francesco Bauco, Joe Williamson, Alex Gurney, Corrado Invernizzi, Wallace Langham

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles, who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building the Ford GT40, a new racing car with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.

My Opinion:

I liked this film a lot. It’s weird – I hate sports but quite often enjoy sports-related movies. Probably because they give the stories the Hollywood treatment, which makes the events more exciting than they were in real life? Maybe. But more than anything I like how they focus on the people and their relationships outside of that sport. I care more about the outcome when I know a little bit about the people who are competing. I felt similar when watching Rush, which was another fantastic movie in this genre. I slightly preferred Rush (possibly thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s butt) but both movies made me care about the characters AND the races. Plus the best part about not being a sports fan? I had no idea who would win any of these races! Watching the final race in this one was intense. I loved it.

Matt Damon & Christian Bale were both great and I’d be happy to see either of them get nominated for Oscars for these roles. I especially liked Bale and I cannot stand that dude. I think this is the first time I liked him in a movie but Ken Miles was a great & complex character (although I have no idea how accurate this film is compared to the real-life Miles & Carroll Shelby). He was hot-tempered (so probably a piece of cake for Bale) but also very loving with his wife & son. His wife, played by Caitriona Balfe, was also a strong character and I’m glad we got to see him with his family as well as with Shelby as that’s what made us care about him.

We didn’t see any of Shelby’s personal life, though from what I’ve read it probably wouldn’t have made for as much of a feelgood film so I can see why they focused on Miles and his family instead. With Shelby, the focus was on his career & on his relationship with Miles. As the movie feels more like it’s about Ken Miles, though, I can see it being likely that Bale gets more of the attention during Awards season but Damon was also very good in this – he’s just far more understated.

By the way – I definitely prefer the American title of Ford v Ferrari. It’s weird when they change the titles of movies for other countries. I wonder why they changed it for the UK? I suppose I could Google that if I wasn’t lazy. Doesn’t matter – it’s a good film either way. I’m glad I decided to watch it despite not loving the genre, although it’s a “one-time watch” sort of movie for me.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Judy (2019) Review

Judy (2019)

Directed by Rupert Goold

Based on End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.

My Opinion:

I liked this movie a lot and way more than I was expecting. As much as I’m a film lover, I’ve not explored Judy Garland’s stuff at all and know almost nothing about her. It’s strange as The Wizard Of Oz has been one of my favorite movies since I was a kid. I absolutely adore it and everything about it is so iconic. Why did I never watch anything else she’s been in? I suppose it’s because I’m not usually a big fan of musicals. Shameful! I really must explore more of her work.

Maybe I was able to buy into this more as I’m not a massive Judy Garland fan like so many people are? As I never saw much of the real Garland, I was able to fully accept Renée Zellweger as Judy. I’m not sure I’m a Zellweger fan as I’ve never really loved her in anything but I thought she was great in this. I do wonder what Garland experts thought of her performance. I have no idea but I loved it and I felt so much sympathy for her, which I think was important. I think people are often a bit dismissive of “troubled” famous people who overdose. I can’t imagine the pressures involved with fame but it’s clearly a big problem as early death is quite common for stars. And I guess I knew she was young when she died but, damn – it really hit me during this film upon realizing I’m almost the same age now. I know I’m far from young but also far too young to die. I even almost got teary at the end of this film and I’m not one to fall for tearjerkers very often. So, yeah – I think Zellweger did a great job in making Judy seem so human and so sympathetic and in making me want to know more about her now.

I maybe shouldn’t have mentioned the term “tearjerker”. It’s not at all how I’d describe this movie, although it certainly has emotional moments. I’m glad the movie told her story in a very straightforward way without making it into some heavy drama. I hate that over the top Oscar-bait and Judy doesn’t do that. It’s not contrived. It’s a little melancholy but not dreary. As so much of the focus is on her final performances, I would think that Judy fans probably got a lot of enjoyment out of watching this movie & hearing those songs.

I’d say, though, that if you want Garland’s life story this movie isn’t where you’ll get it. Which is fine. It just very much focuses mainly on her last year of life and a tiny bit on her very start in show business. There’s nothing whatsoever in between but, as I always say, if you want a factual full life story you should just watch a documentary. It also gives me a chance to find out more on my own & to explore the movies I missed (I’ve been meaning to watch Meet Me In St. Louis for years). I really liked the focus being that final year.

I should quickly add that everyone else did a very good job in the film as well and it was good to see Judy’s relationships in her final year. But this movie is truly Zellweger’s and Judy is the true star and center of attention. As she deserved to be. I do hope Zellweger gets an Oscar nomination for this and wish the movie had better reviews than it seems to have received. As I said, I think that may be because it’s not dramatic enough for the Academy. For me, it felt more real the way it was presented and I wish life had been easier for Garland.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Joker (2019) Review

Joker (2019)

Directed by Todd Phillips

Based on Characters by DC Comics

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

Music by Hildur Guðnadóttir

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
An origin story set in 1981, the film follows Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City.

My Opinion:

I guess it’s about time I review this? As it came out in October, I didnt review it as I was only posting horror movie reviews. Plus I didn’t really have the energy to review it while everyone was freaking out about it on Twitter. While people were using the phrase “toxic white males” yet again (as if ALL humans aren’t toxic pieces of shit) and while America was freaking out about people potentially being shot in cinemas showing Joker since America allows everyone to walk around like armed vigilantes. Do I swear too much?! When I tried typing “cinemas” just now my spellchecker changed it to “cuntbags”. Anyway, while things have calmed down a bit, I’ll now review this. Can’t wait for the next Shitstorm when this is up for Oscars!

This is a good film with a great performance. Is it a masterpiece? Not in my opinion but I wouldn’t argue with those who did love it as I can see the reasons why. I have to admit I’m sick of “comic book” movies but especially sick of Batman & the Joker. I haven’t really liked either character since Tim Burton’s versions in 1989. I’m even almost starting to hate Christopher Nolan’s films as they’re SO overhyped by obsessive fans (although I did think Heath Ledger was very good). Okay – I don’t know Mark Hamill’s version but do love the guy so would likely enjoy his Joker. I have NO knowledge of the comics or these characters beyond what’s been shown in movies. I admit that. This review is based only on my opinion as a lover of film.

What I did like, not being a comic fan, is that Joker didn’t feel at all like a comic book or DC movie. Hell, it barely felt like the Joker character to me. It truly is more like a Martin Scorsese film (specifically The King Of Comedy, as everyone knows). I think Scorsese’s films are very good, although he’s not a favorite director of mine as his movies aren’t usually my type of thing. I did a Scorsese Top Ten list (HERE). I do really like my top five or six and The King Of Comedy is one of them, so I did enjoy Joker’s homage to that film and its brilliant use of Robert De Niro. I liked the film’s tone and its score was perfect for it. I did think Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic and absolutely deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for his performance (even if it sounds like he’s a pain in the ass diva to work with). Yeah, yeah – Actresses aren’t allowed to be “difficult” while actors are called brilliant when they behave that way. I totally agree there’s a double standard there and it’s unfair. I think all artists should be allowed to be difficult (within limits, obviously) if it produces great results. I guess it worked in the case of Joker as it’s certainly Joaquin’s performance of a lifetime. I don’t care – I’ll never have to work with him! I preferred River Phoenix anyway (R.I.P. – I’ll forever be sad about that one the way younger people still aren’t over Heath Ledger).

I suppose I better address some of the controversy. I’m still a little baffled by it. I can see people thinking the movie may encourage people who feel fucked-over by society to engage in violent and destructive behavior. But movies like this one have existed for years. Why are we suddenly worried that a movie will push some people over the edge? Or is it because of social media that we just hear the complaints more these days? I remember it being controversial but did people freak out quite as much when Natural Born Killers came out?

I think the issue here may be that people think the Joker was portrayed as a sympathetic character and one who disturbed people may see as a sort of hero. I admit that I did feel somewhat sympathetic toward his character to start with. But that was gone by the end. People don’t like that the movie is blaming society for the seeming rise in violent & dangerous men. But, well, it IS to blame. Is it not? Gotham City in this film looks and feels no different than any big American city now. The movie is also trying to make a point about failing those with mental health issues.

Well. Whatever. I don’t give a shit about any controversy. I think there are far more offensive and far more destructive films out there. This is probably the best movie that has the Joker it it. I just wish it wasn’t the Joker. I’d rather it was a regular, non-comic book guy who gets pushed too far. But it’s a very good film. It’s better than most comic book movies. The fact that it is still a comic book movie to me probably keeps me from seeing it as an instant classic the way some people are seeing it. Maybe I’m snobby like Scorsese.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Farewell (2019) Review

The Farewell (2019) (別告訴她) (Bié Gàosù Tā)

Directed by Lulu Wang

Based on What You Don’t Know by Lulu Wang

Starring: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen, Lu Hong, Jiang Yongbo

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a family who, upon learning their grandmother has only a short while left to live, decide not to tell her and schedule a family gathering before she dies.

My Opinion:

This was a really good & heartwarming family film. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel, as Awkwafina can be a little annoying (like in Crazy Rich Asians, although she was also kind of fun in that). But that was a comedy and she’s good here in a very different & much more serious role. It’s not too serious, though. Although a sad topic, this isn’t a dreary film. It’s a lovely film with a likeable family but also plenty of humor.

The film is based partly on writer & director Lulu Wang’s real life experiences. In the story, a family learns that their grandmother has cancer & is dying so they decide to not tell her & instead plan a family gathering by pretending a grandson is going to get married. Granddaughter Awkwafina, having lived in America so long and now being a part of that culture, doesn’t agree with the truth being kept from her grandmother although it’s a common thing to do in China. The grandmother is great and the family feel real. They aren’t perfect and they have their differences & disagreements but they are also clearly very close. I’m afraid this isn’t sounding very exciting from my description! This isn’t some boring tearjerker (it’s a comedy drama). The characters are well developed and you care about them, which can’t be said for a lot of movies. It’s fairly lightweight – it’s not a hard-hitting drama. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon family film without too much drama and without being too saccharine.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Hustlers (2019) Review

Hustlers (2019)

Directed by Lorene Scafaria

Based on “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler

Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, Cardi B

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a crew of strippers in New York City who begin to steal money by drugging stock traders and CEOs who visit their club, then running up their credit cards.

My Opinion:

Wow. I was NOT expecting to like this one as much as I did. In fact, I had no intention of even going to it until it started getting great reviews. For one thing, Cardi B annoys the shit out of me. But she only has a really small role and, to be honest, she was perfect for it. Also, I’m just really not a chick flick girly girl. However, I do like Jennifer Lopez so figured I’d give this one a chance after all. Good god J-Lo is sexy!!! She’s 50! That BODY! How does she keep that body like that? How can I have a body like that?? I want it. Do I have to stop eating Doritos?!

This turned out to not be a silly “chick flick”, although I suppose it is aimed more at women than men. What I liked is that these characters felt very real. I mean, it IS based on a true story but the character development was very good for Constance Wu’s & Jennifer Lopez’s characters. We didn’t learn anything about the other girls but that didn’t matter as they weren’t the focus of the story. Their friendship felt genuine and Lopez was absolutely brilliant in this role. I’d actually love to see her get a nomination for this role but The Academy is very unlikely to give out awards to a “stripper movie”. Then again, it would be good for their image since everyone thinks the Oscars are all about old white men these days… Nominate J-Lo! She should get an Oscar for her performance and an Oscar for that body.

This movie got the right balance in not demonizing these characters but also not making them into some sort of heroes. You’ll like the main two characters while at the same time thinking “Okay – you need to stop doing this”. What they did was wrong and they knew it was wrong but they were desperate, especially in Wu’s case. It became addicting and they took it too far. I think there was some slight backlash at first as people thought this movie was celebrating stealing from these men but this is not some “Men are evil! Fuck them! Girl power! Woohoo!” movie. Okay, yes – it’s hard to have sympathy for very rich men who visit strippers so it’s hard to see them as true victims here. It still doesn’t make what these girls did okay but the movie doesn’t force an opinion on you – It just presents the story and focuses on the two main characters and their motivations. It’s up to you to decide what you think of them. I just really enjoyed seeing a movie with such strong characters, great pacing & storytelling, and an awesome performance from Jennifer Lopez.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Green Book, Instant Family, Can You Ever Forgive Me? & Eighth Grade Movie Reviews

I managed to see four 2019 UK cinema releases while on planes to and from America in August (I realize they were 2018 releases in the US). I’d not flown anywhere for years – When did the movie selection get so good & recent?? I figured I’d give these quickie reviews since I try to review all UK film releases each year. I’ll start with the best and end with the worst…

Green Book (2018)

Directed by Peter Farrelly

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard.

My Opinion:

I’m glad I managed to catch up on seeing this controversial Best Picture Oscar winner. I enjoyed it. I know there’s a lot of hate for this one but I thought the performances were strong and I always like stories involving an unlikely friendship between two very different personalities. I thought Mahershala Ali was great in Moonlight and, at the time, was hoping he’d get more roles so I’m happy that’s happening (and that he keeps winning Oscars). I thought his character & Viggo Mortensen’s worked well together and it felt realistic in that the friendship was often awkward and grew very slowly as they were so different.

Is it true to their real life story? I think some of the controversy comes from Don Shirley’s family saying the two weren’t friends at all (the film was co-written by Frank Vallelonga’s son) but interviews with Shirley himself say differently. Who knows? That’s just what I read at Wikipedia to try to find out what caused the controversy surrounding this movie but I’ve read no more than that. I love movies for their escapism so don’t often go for the “true story” films anyway. I like to think it’s all true but know that movies always play up the feelgood factor. As long as it doesn’t feel too over the top & phony, I’m happy enough with a little bit of feelgood cheese.

At least Green Book keeps it fairly real as things are far from perfect during their journey but I’d have liked a tiny bit more focus on the history of the actual Green Book itself (but that would easily make for another whole separate movie). The focus here is on the friendship between the two men and, as far as roadtrip friendship movies go, I found Green Book enjoyable despite any issues surrounding it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Instant Family (2018)

Directed by Sean Anders

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Octavia Spencer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A couple find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children.

My Opinion:

This movie was fine. It actually had a great IMDb rating when it came out in the U.K. and I’d really wanted to see it but the feelgood cheese (as I mentioned in my Green Book review) was a little too much at times in this one.

To be fair, though, this movie was marketed as a comedy drama so it kept things fairly light instead of being a hard-hitting drama at all times (which isn’t my thing anyway – real life is depressing enough!). I just think that this situation in real life would probably be far more challenging than depicted and, for whatever reason, I never felt a strong connection between the couple and the foster kids although the actors all did a perfectly fine job.

The strongest performance was from Isabela Moner as the headstrong and challenging teenager. She was tough but not totally hateful, which is often a danger with teenage characters. The relationship between her character & Rose Byrne’s felt the most realistic and it was nice seeing those two grow closer. Overall, Instant Family was a nice and somewhat safe film that was at times a tiny bit contrived but, oh well – A feelgood film never killed anyone.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Directed by Marielle Heller

Based on Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biographical film based on the confessional memoir of the same name by Lee Israel. Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and the story follows her attempts to revitalize her failing writing career by forging letters from deceased authors and playwrights.

My Opinion:

This was a pretty typical movie with Oscar nominations for acting: The acting was fantastic but the movie was just okay. The true story is actually pretty interesting but I guess it didn’t translate well to film as I was a bit bored throughout the movie. However, Melissa McCarthy & Richard E. Grant were so great and such entertaining characters that this one was still well worth a watch to see their Oscar-nominated performances. I think both of them haven’t gotten enough credit over the years (Yes, even McCarthy, whose brand of humor isn’t my thing for the most part but I can see why she has fans). It’s great that they got recognition for their parts in this film as they’re what made it enjoyable and they had really good chemistry. I’ll keep this short, though, as I honestly have nothing else to say about this movie. Good story, a little slow & boring at times, but fantastic performances and interesting characters.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Eighth Grade (2018)

Directed & Written by Bo Burnham

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Fred Hechinger

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The coming-of-age story follows the life and struggles of an eighth-grader, played by Elsie Fisher, during her last week of classes before graduating to high school. She struggles with social anxiety but produces vlogs giving life advice.

My Opinion:

This came out aaaaages ago in America but was only finally released in the UK in April this year. It got brilliant reviews from “Film Twitter” people and, even though I’m an old lady, I’m still always up for a really good coming of age film ever since falling in love with Stand By Me during my own coming of age years. Plus, I can relate to the whole socially awkward thing since I’m still awkward as shit.

Well, damn – This movie was very disappointing. I’ll say that the actress, Elsie Fisher, did a good job and felt very real (she seems sweet – I have nothing bad to say about the actress). She also did the socially awkward thing extremely well so, in that regard, I identified with her (even though she was actually far more awkward than I ever was!). However, I couldn’t relate to the character in any other way whatsoever. I know that pre & early teens can be annoying as hell but her character really was a bit too hateful for me to care at all what would happen to her. And her dad just put up with her whiny bullshit and her being a bitch to him and he didn’t monitor her time spent online AT ALL.

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m sounding old. But, seriously – keep your kids away from all forms of social media as long as fucking possible! It’s dangerous. And if you can’t do that for some reason, monitor what the hell they’re doing! FYI – the girl is a vlogger and this movie is NOT about the dangers of living a phony online existence – It’s just about not fitting in during the most awkward time of life. I’m simply having my own personal rant because seeing young girls living out their lives online and pretending to be something they’re not breaks my damn heart. Do we seriously need a whole generation of superficial KardashiJenners?! I can’t stand that fake bullshit and don’t want real-life girls like this character committing suicide when they can’t live up to the impossible standards set by “influencers” and people with an unlimited supply of money.

No, this movie isn’t about suicide or depression or anything like that – It’s a “comedy” drama, supposedly. Maybe I just AM too old for teen movies now as I found Booksmart disappointing as well. However, I thought The Edge Of Seventeen was very good and a more realistic portrayal of being a teen. I don’t know – I just think Eighth Grade would’ve been better with a more likeable and therefore more sympathetic main character. And possibly with “comedy” that was actually funny – I had to double check to see if this was actually considered a comedy. It also felt like it dragged on forever, despite being a short film. It has one of those typical meandering indie movie storylines that doesn’t go anywhere – I don’t know how I managed to stay awake watching this one on the plane. I suppose that reading all the hype for this one while waiting at least a year for it to come out in the UK didn’t help either as my expectations were probably way too high. What a massive disappointment.

My Rating: 5/10

It Chapter Two (2019) Review

It Chapter Two (2019)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Based on It by Stephen King

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’ll say that I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I love all his books. I love all the movie adaptations of his books (even the really really BAD adaptations, of which there have been plenty). I adored 2017’s Chapter 1 of It. It Chapter Two was my most anticipated film of 2019. And I liked it a lot, as I fully expected that I would despite some bad early reviews. So bear in mind that I’m a massive fan so, of course, I’m likely to have enjoyed it far more than anyone who isn’t a King fan.


I will have also enjoyed this movie far more than any full-on horror fans will have. Let’s face it – It is closer to Stand By Me than The Shining. It’s a great coming of age story with fantastic characters and strong characters are what really sell a story to me. Honestly, I don’t find either this or the 1990 adaptation at all scary. Skarsgård and Curry clearly had fun as Pennywise but I don’t care about Pennywise as a “character”. The story isn’t about Pennywise – It’s about the Losers Club and the strength of their friendship. This new adaptation is especially strong when it comes to the Losers Club. Each one of them is extremely well-developed, especially for a “horror” movie. And the casting was absolutely perfect when it came to the kid actors and almost perfect when it came to their adult counterparts. Is Chapter 1 better? Hell yeah! Of course it is, which I fully expected. A “coming of age” story works better when focused on the kids who are actually that age. It’s far more fun than watching them all grown up (which I’m sure the director & writers realized, which is why the kids ended up being in Chapter 2 a hell of a lot). By the way – They de-aged the kids which, apparently, some people found very distracting. I guess I’m just completely unobservant since I didn’t even notice that.

It Chapter Two is far from perfect, though, which I’m fully willing to admit. I’m just very forgiving of the faults as I like the characters so much. The horror elements are far too cheesy for me personally. I prefer a creepy atmosphere and “not seeing too much”. A little mystery is more scary to me than an actor in a clown suit. I also hate silly CGI in horror and there’s a lot of very dodgy effects in this film that had the audience laughing, especially at the end. Again, it didn’t really bother me too much as I cared more about the characters than the “scary” horror moments but I’m sure there will be plenty of horror fans who don’t like this movie thanks to the cheesy effects. I wasn’t a fan of director Andy Muschietti’s film Mama because of the cheesy CGI and, dammit, It Chapter Two looks very similar when it comes to the “monsters”.


Luckily, as I said, the characters are so good that it made up for the unsatisfying scares for me. James McAvoy was a bit “so what”, which was disappointing after he gave his all in Glass. Jessica Chastain was fine but I felt like anyone could’ve played that role and I actually had hoped beforehand that unknowns would be cast. But if going with big names, why not Amy Adams?! Adams looks exactly like Sophia Lillis! Chastain doesn’t. Oh well – Chastain was fine and actually better than I’d hoped (I find her overrated). No one did a bad job – Every adult actor felt like they truly did study the child actors’ performances to make it believable that these are the adults they became. As many have already said, though, it was James Ransone as Eddie & especially Bill Hader as Richie who really stole the show. Loved them! Their characters added so much emotion to this film; From laughter to heartbreak. It was nice to see the “lesser” characters shine instead of all focus being mainly on just Beverly (Chastain) and Bill (McAvoy).

Well, I enjoyed It Chapter Two. Yes, the first part with just the kids is definitely better and has a little more heart. But Kill Bill: Vol. 1 was better than Kill Bill: Vol. 2 in my opinion. It doesn’t matter – I see Kill Bill as one movie now and will see the two chapters of It as one movie from now on too. And it’s a great movie overall and a worthy Stephen King adaptation. Plus, it’s quite epic in scale… Five hours! No wonder we know the characters so well by the end. Now bring on Doctor Sleep! The trailer for that was shown before It Chapter Two and I’m now very excited for that one.

My Rating: 7.5/10


Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019) Review

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019)

Directed & Written by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino

Narrated by Kurt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is set in 1969 Los Angeles, where an aging television actor and his stunt double and longtime friend navigate the changing Hollywood film industry.

My Opinion:

I never got around to reviewing this as I saw it a few weeks ago while on vacation in America. It’s a very good film. Yes, it’s probably one of Tarantino’s best films overall. I can’t say I loved it, though. In fact, I was a tiny bit bored and very much felt its 2 hour and 41 minute running time. But I’ll be honest: I was a little bit on edge the entire time, which probably didn’t help my enjoyment.

It was great being back in America for the first time in over a decade. I was in a super comfy reclining seat, which seems to be more of a “standard” thing than in the U.K., and I was thoroughly enjoying the superior (and, holy shit, one free refillable!) American popcorn. However, the main things running through my mind for almost three hours were “I wonder how many people in here have guns on them” and “There will be more guns in this showing than in other movies since we’re watching a violent Tarantino film” and “I’m the closest one to the door so very likely to be the first one shot if someone comes in and starts shooting“. Is this what daily life is like for everyone living in America now?

Don’t worry – I am NOT about to get into any sort of political discussion. That’s not me. I just want to joke around & chat with people on my blog about my nerdy love of movies. It just made me long for a more simple time as I do have some great memories of growing up in America and will always see it as my home. Which brings me back to the actual topic: I did appreciate Tarantino’s obvious love for the era of Hollywood depicted in this film. The nostalgia he feels for it really does show through and I could relate to that feeling as I sat there, in the country I spent the first half of my life in, feeling nostalgic about how things used to be and knowing they’ll never be that way again. Also, who wouldn’t like to rewrite some of their own personal history, right? I’d like to write some happier endings to a few things from my past.

I think this may be one of my reviews where I decide by the end of the review that I liked the movie more than I realized… This is why I keep this blog going even though I don’t think anyone reads it anymore: I’m sometimes able to sort my thoughts out on something as I write about it. Yes, I think Tarantino did a good job evoking the mood of that late sixties going into early seventies movie star & movie making world. As a lover of film, I always enjoy movies about filmmaking & that lifestyle. And what I was afraid would be the “central event” of the film but thankfully wasn’t (I won’t use the person’s or the “family’s” name), I guess maybe to Tarantino that event symbolized the loss of innocence and a more simple time in not only the types of movies being made but also in what it was like to live in America. So I’m starting to understand his “rewriting of history” in some films. It’s fun to think that, if we could erase certain events from history, maybe the world would be a different & better place. That’s the whole point of movies for me personally. I like the escapism and Tarantino clearly does too. His escapism just involves waaaaaaaaaay more violence than mine would!!

Okay, I’m now deciding that I liked this movie more than I realized. Although I was clearly a bit distracted while watching it, my experience was probably quite unique since I was in the position to be feeling the same sense of personal nostalgia that Tarantino was trying to convey in this film about a time he clearly misses as well. My main issue with the film is that the overall story is weak. The dialogue also isn’t as strong as in Tarantino’s other films in order to make up for the lack of story and the movie seriously drags in places, especially at the beginning (I kind of forgot that Al Pacino was even in this – I had a very hard time getting into the movie at first but I was busy scanning the audience for guns).

However, I think my old Brad Pitt crush has been renewed. Pitt is brilliant in this and the true star of the film. Don’t get me wrong – Leonardo DiCaprio & Margot Robbie were also fantastic. DiCaprio gives his usual best and has to do more serious “acting” than Pitt but we’ve seen Leo do this sort of role so often now. Leo is one of the finest actors of our time, yes, but Pitt has the true charisma in this film. He embodies the old school “Hollywood star” vibe from the era that Tarantino is portraying, which is fun as he’s just the stunt double to Leo’s fading movie star character.

As for Margot Robbie, she’s thoroughly charming as Sharon Tate and, like Pitt, also very much has that old school “Hollywood star” vibe. It’s a fairly small role, however, which I think was the right move for this film despite people moaning about the “female role” being too small. What happened to Tate and the others was horrible and tragic and, thank god, is not the focus of this film. That story is a backdrop and not glorified or dwelled upon, which is why I think her scenes were kept more simple and less likely to be disrespectful in any way. Unlike the Bruce Lee scene, unfortunately – I can see why his portrayal upset his family and fans although I can also understand that this is an “alternate history” thing and I don’t think Tarantino meant to cause offense with that bit. Enough with women’s bare feet, though, Tarantino!! We get it. You like feet! Most people don’t. We don’t want to see feet. Please stop with the feet.

Okay, I’ve rambled on enough considering that I didn’t even know how I felt about this movie at first. I loved its mood and its setting and absolutely loved Brad Pitt. I enjoyed DiCaprio & Robbie. I hated the “family” (but I suppose that’s the point – I just could’ve done with less time being spent on them). I disliked the bare feet. The story dragged. It was too long. There were fun cameos (as usual). I really liked the ending, which I’d accidentally had spoiled beforehand and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I liked that this was less violent overall than Tarantino’s other films. To be honest, this is Tarantino’s most “feelgood” film and I liked that I was able to walk away from a Tarantino movie feeling a bit more uplifted and less stressed than I usually do after leaving his films. It’s funny that the only stress I felt this time was the real life environment around me but I’m happy to have experienced this movie in my home country, which gave me a more unique perspective. Hell, I don’t know… I think this movie is a bit all over the place and I’ve never felt quite so confused as to if I truly enjoyed a Tarantino film or not. Maybe it IS a damn masterpiece like so many are saying. There’s a messy sort of brilliance going on and I wouldn’t disagree with those who loved it even though I can’t say I feel the same way. However, I think it’s one that will age well and, over time, is likely to be more highly regarded than a lot of Tarantino’s other films.

My Rating: 7.5/10


**I’ve added Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood to my ranked list of films directed by Quentin Tarantino HERE. I really didn’t know where to put it and still might change my mind. I’m contemplating moving it up one space as it’s admittedly a much better film than Jackie Brown but, man, I love that damn soundtrack so much…

Also, I’m really busy at the moment and don’t know when I’ll get a chance to do my monthly movie roundup post. So, for now, here’s the ranked & rated list of all the movies I watched in August (six while on airplanes!). I’ll try to do at least mini reviews of these at some point but most were very disappointing anyway. I’ve starred the airplane movies (sad, I know – but it’s so I remember when I read this ten years from now). 🙂

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10
*Green Book – 7.5/10
Sorry To Bother You – 7/10
The Hate U Give – 7/10
*Bad Times At The El Royale – 6.5/10
Crawl – 6.5/10
*Instant Family – 6.5/10
*Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 6.5/10
*Mortal Engines – 5.5/10
*Eighth Grade – 5/10

Rocketman (2019) Review

Rocketman (2019)

Directed by Dexter Fletcher

Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows Elton John’s early days as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music to his musical partnership with Bernie Taupin. The film is titled after John’s 1972 song “Rocket Man”.

My Opinion:

I watched this a while ago but never got around to reviewing it. I know it, understandably, got compared to Bohemian Rhapsody a lot and that snobby film fans far preferred Rocketman. I have to say that Rocketman is most definitely the better “film” whereas Bohemian Rhapsody is more of a straightforward and very lightweight crowd-pleaser. I do think people were too hard on Bohemian Rhapsody, though. I think music biopics should be fun. If you want reality, watch a damn documentary about the band. (It sure as shit shouldn’t have been up for the Best Picture Oscar, though.) However, I think most people would agree that Queen’s songs are far more enjoyable than Elton John’s, which will be another big reason why Bohemian Rhapsody was more popular with mainstream cinema goers. I mean, come on – Queen are WAY cooler than Elton John. Sorry Elton John fans! John & Taupin did write some absolute all-time classics, though. There’s no denying that they’re hugely talented, whether or not you’re a fan of their music.


Rocketman also won’t have won over casual movie fans thanks to it having been done more in the style of a musical, which isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t always like the musical approach as it doesn’t always work but I thought it worked very well for this film and I did enjoy it. Also, Taron Egerton was absolutely brilliant! I thought his performance was far more impressive than Rami Malek’s as Freddie Mercury. Egerton had to sing & dance & perform full musical numbers – who knew he was such an all-around talent? I’m impressed. I wasn’t previously a fan and kind of borderline disliked him. I can’t fault him in Rocketman – he’s fantastic.

As well as Egerton, Jamie Bell was great as Bernie Taupin. Okay – I admit to knowing very little about John & even less about Taupin so can’t say how accurate this movie is but it was good seeing their relationship and musical partnership. They’re great together in this film and it was interesting to see how they worked together to write such strong songs. As I said; Even if it’s music mostly just loved by people who are even older than I am now, you can’t deny how brilliant these songs really are. I mean, I’m old and adore music from the 70s but Elton John isn’t really my thing. When are we going to get a Black Sabbath musical with full dance numbers?! I’d watch that! They could do something really fun with Fairies Wear Boots!


As for the rest of the cast (such as Richard Madden as John’s manager and lover & Bryce Dallas Howard as John’s mother), they’re also very good but I do wonder what the real people think of this film. Well, I assume Elton John’s parents aren’t alive now. Probably not since they’re shown as being pretty hateful. Not as hateful as Madden’s character, though (John Reid). As Reid also managed Queen, he was in Bohemian Rhapsody as well but not shown to be such a jerk. I found an interesting article HERE comparing Reid in both films (both times played by Game Of Thrones actors but only played by a hot actor in Rocketman). Speaking of hot actors, I don’t think Egerton is hot but I bet Elton WISHES he actually looked like Egerton. That’s movie fantasy for you, though. I want someone super hot to play me in the story of my life too! God, that would be a boring movie.

Rocketman is a good film with great performances. Not actually being a big Elton John fan, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. The story and performances are very strong and they did the usual “rock star drug drama & daddy issues” thing very well but I also really liked the musical numbers (even the Crocodile Rock one and I f*^king hate that song!). It’s a good scene. Heck, I think the movie made me like the songs a bit more as they actually really suit the musical format of the movie. Maybe I was just in a good mood when I saw this. Or maybe I’m a secret Elton John fan & don’t want to admit it. (Nah)

My Rating: 7.5/10

Yesterday (2019) Review

Yesterday (2019)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Story by Jack Barth & Richard Curtis

Starring: Himesh Patel, Karma Sood, Lily James, Jaimie Kollmer, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran, Lamorne Morris, Sophia Di Martino, Joel Fry, Ellise Chappell, Harry Michell, Camille Chen, Alexander Arnold, James Corden, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Karl Theobald

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.

My Opinion:

I have to admit that, while there are definitely cheesy moments in this film (of course there are – it’s Richard Curtis!), I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s now one of my favorites for 2019 so far. It’s certainly a feelgood movie but, hell, we could all use those every once in a while. I don’t want all movies to be as depressing as Midsommar. It’s also one of those movies that gives you plenty to talk about and contemplate afterwards as the concept is fantastic. What a brilliant idea for a story – I absolutely loved the plot synopsis when I first heard about the film and it was great to see how the story would play out.

To be fair, though, I’m a fan of The Beatles. I’ve done a load of Top Ten posts on this blog since starting it but My Top Ten Beatles Songs was one of my first lists (it may actually be the very first). I do think you need to like their music (and/or the band members themselves) to truly appreciate this film. Had this been based on a band I didn’t like, I’d still admire the subject matter but wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much enjoyment out of the film. The concept and the music are what make this movie. If you hate The Beatles & aren’t impressed by the plot, there’s absolutely no reason for you to watch this.

Does the movie do all that it can with such a good idea? Yes and no. I really liked the direction the story took a couple of times and truly loved one surprise even though I SO should’ve seen it coming. I think it’s always hard to live up to a brilliant idea, though. The movie, overall, could’ve been better. The romance wasn’t believable nor was the possibility that this guy could become as famous as The Beatles. Himesh Patel is good in this role but, come on – his character is just not very interesting and doesn’t have much charisma. The Beatles made some of the all-time best songs but did they become so famous based ONLY on their songs? I don’t know. Maybe? That’s certainly something that would make for an interesting conversation but I don’t think the movie really explored this. Also, while I love most of their songs, there are some I really don’t like and some that I don’t think have aged well. Would the songs be as popular if they were made now? That’s not the kind of music that’s made today. This isn’t explored at all in the movie. It makes me sad but I don’t think the songs would be as popular if they were heard for the very first time in 2019. I may be wrong but I rarely hear anyone younger than me saying that they like The Beatles.


Ed Fucking Sheeran. Ew.

Oh well. Although the film isn’t absolutely perfect, it was great to see something with so much originality instead of yet another sequel or superhero film. And I certainly can’t complain at hearing so many great songs for a couple of hours. It even made up for Ed Fucking Sheeran being in this! It’s a shame that the movie suffers a bit from some typical Richard Curtis rom-com writing but, luckily, nothing in it is as ridiculous as Love Actually. I just wish there’d been more of the old school Danny Boyle influence on this but I suppose a Trainspotting vibe wouldn’t suit this family-friendly feelgood film. That was a lot of F words… Fanciful family-friendly feelgood fantasy fiction film for Fab Four fans!

My Rating: 7.5/10