Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Review

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (as far as I’m aware!!)***

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Based on Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

My Opinion:

As I always say when I start these superhero movie reviews, I’m getting very superheroed-out. However, I do have fun with the Marvel ones even though I wouldn’t call myself a massive fan. But then the Guardians Of The Galaxy films came along and it turns out that the “funny superhero movie” thing is MUCH more my type of thing! I love GOTG. And as for the Avengers, Thor is probably my favorite character because, um. I dunno? I’m trying to think of something mature to say… Okay, I like Thor the most because Chris Hemsworth is visually appealing. Okay?!

Of the standalone movies, the first Iron Man may be my favorite and I think the first Thor film is quite weak. But then I liked Thor: The Dark World a hell of a lot more than the first film and, with the Avengers films, we were able to see Thor develop much more of a personality. The “Thor with a sense of humor” thing that started to appear really worked for the character and I’m very happy that they’ve finally gone fully in that direction with this film. I’m surprised it’s getting such good reviews overall, though, as I can’t see “funny Thor” working for everyone? I hated Batman V Superman with a passion (yeah, I know that’s DC) and that whole “dark, brooding, depressing” superhero bullshit annoys me. But some people love that. Those who love dark & brooding are unlikely to love this new version of Thor. I personally love this new version of Thor (and all versions of Thor, including shirtless Thor) but my only negative comment is that this film does feel out of place in amongst all the other Marvel Avengers movies. It doesn’t really “fit”. I don’t know how some fans will feel about that.

I lied: I have one more negative comment so I’ll get that out of the way now. The story in this movie isn’t anything special. It’s your typical Marvel plot. But I honestly never give much of a shit about any of the Marvel plots as they all seem the same to me anyway & I see these all as “popcorn” movies that I don’t want to have to think about. I don’t mean to sound dismissive of these films as I know they have so many fans – I just see them in a different sort of way than a full-on fanboy or fangirl would see them. I don’t think I can say that this movie really added anything important to the overall Avengers stories. It was just a lot of fun to watch, which is the main thing that a superhero movie should be (in my opinion).


Here are the positives: there are loads of genuinely funny moments, Thor and Hulk are hilarious together, and I thought all the new characters were very good (especially Tessa Thompson’s super cool Valkyrie & Cate Blanchett’s super evil Hela). Oh, and Jeff Goldblum, of course. I didn’t realize he had such a big following! People seem to love him & he’s very funny in this. I also really liked Karl Urban (Oh yeah – I like Dredd a lot & that’s dark & depressing! Hmm) and I liked seeing Idris Elba get to do more than I can remember him getting to do in the other Thor films (I could do with re-watching them but doubt I’ll ever bother). And I think everyone knows that director Taika Waititi plays a character named Korg. He’s pretty damn hilarious and was clearly a favorite with the audience in my cinema. Oh, and it was one of those weird times when some people in my cinema clapped & cheered at the end of the movie. I always find that strange (it’s not a play!) but it gives you an idea of how some feel about Thor: Ragnarok – I saw a lot of people who clearly had a great time watching this.

I liked this movie a lot but, for some reason I can’t put my finger on, I didn’t love it. It seems like all the elements are there for me to love it. I think Taika Waititi is very funny, I far prefer fun & lighthearted superhero movies like this, and I loooooove Chris Hemsworth. The new characters are great, I laughed quite a bit, and even though I haven’t listened to Led Zeppelin in years after having a big phase of worshipping them in my teens I never stopped loving Immigrant Song (because it kicks ass) and its use, though predictable, is perfect for this movie. So why don’t I love this movie? I disagree with the hubby quite a bit on movies these days but I have to agree with him saying that this movie feels a bit “throwaway”. It’s fun but, years from now, it may not stand up as well when compared to some of the strongest Marvel films.

Also, I’ll remain spoiler-free but just a warning if you bring kids under 12: this movie is more violent than some and there’s one particular moment that was quite horrifying. My daughter turned to me with a look of horror on her face but I don’t think I was much comfort since I had a similar look of horror. 😉 But you know kids: they bounce back quick. About 15 minutes later she whispered “I love this movie!” while I still had yet to fully recover. The moment is listed in the parents’ guide at IMDb if you really need to know beforehand but it’s a major spoiler. Also, this movie is a lower rating in the UK but is a PG-13 in America. Damn. As we got it here first, I had no warning beforehand so be careful if taking sensitive kids to this. Knowing America, though, it probably only got the higher rating there for some “dirty talk” that will go over kids’ heads anyway. 

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is there a scene after the credits? Duh. Of course. One partway through and one at the very end. Worth staying for if you like to get the full experience.

Stan Lee Cameo: I feel like I should start rating these… I loved this one. Another fun cameo and he was the perfect person for this part. 🙂

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The Final Girls (2015) Review

The Final Girls (2015)

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Written by M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Åkerman, Adam DeVine, Thomas Middleditch, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this. My enjoyment was only affected slightly by my hubby hating this & complaining throughout it. Sorry, dude – I thought it was okay! Flawed & certainly not perfect but fun and a great concept that was far more original than we usually get in the horror genre.

I’m going to start with the flaws. Mainly: Adam DeVine. I’m sorry but I can’t stand him. I happen to love Jack Black (I know a lot of people hate him) but why is DeVine acting like a horrible impersonation of Jack Black in this? If you hate Jack Black, please tell me that you hated DeVine in this as well. It’s like if Jack Black was still his outrageous self but completely unfunny in any way whatsoever. It was actually painful to watch. It was a shame, really, as I think there’s a potentially brilliant film hidden beneath the surface here that doesn’t quite break through due mostly to some of the performances (but mainly DeVine’s).

Other than DeVine, the rest of the movie’s flaws were pretty minor. I did find most of the characters weak or slightly annoying but, luckily, our two main ones (Taissa Farmiga & Malin Åkerman) were good. But I suppose that’s kind of the point as this is a horror comedy spoofing horror movies of the Eighties and all the silly clichés that go along with them, including everyone but the “final girl” being expendable.

I guess the biggest problem, really, is that the movie Scream already did the horror spoof thing with a much more clever script than The Final Girls. But there have now been plenty of horror comedies that spoof 70s & 80s horrors and I do love a good horror comedy so I still enjoyed this movie. I already did a list of My Top Ten Horror Comedies and The Final Girls comes close to being added. I’ll probably add it to that list & at least give it an honorable mention but DeVine sucks some of the “comedy” part out of the film’s genre classification.

As far as the story goes, I truly appreciated the originality involved in the concept of the teenage daughter of a scream queen ending up in her mother’s most famous 80’s slasher film. I was interested to see that this film was co-written by Joshua John Miller, someone from my day & age (I’m the age of the scream queen mother in this). He was in Halloween III, River’s Edge, Near Dark, Teen Witch, the cheesy Class Of 1999, and my favorite episode of Highway To Heaven! No, seriously – I liked that silly show. Anyway, I found this film to be an interesting mash-up of Generation X vs Current Teen and I thought that worked well. I probably connected to it as it was written & directed by those my age who also grew up on 80’s slashers.

Most of all, I really loved the mother/daughter relationship between Taissa Farmiga & Malin Åkerman. It was actually quite heartbreaking when the mother died (in the beginning & the plot synopsis so not a spoiler). When the daughter is reunited with her mother within her mother’s slasher film, the look of happiness & love on the daughter’s face was great. It was genuinely sweet & heartfelt for a horror comedy so they did do a great job with the two most important characters: the “Final Girls”. And I absolutely loved the climactic scene when the mother dances to Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes while her daughter watches. It was lovely & bittersweet & seriously one of my favorite movie scenes in recent years. And I’ve always liked that song and now I like it even more & will always think of that scene when I hear it. I’d love for the writers & director to get together & make a sequel to this (being a spoof of “80’s slasher clichés”, it’s obviously left open for a sequel). I’d happily watch Part 2. Just please leave Adam DeVine out of it… !

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Raid (2011) Blind Spot Review

The Raid (2011)
US Title – The Raid: Redemption
Serbuan maut
ザ・レイド

Directed & Written by Gareth Huw Evans

Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Sathya

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Raid is a 2011 Indonesian martial arts action–survival film in which an elite squad is tasked to infiltrate a high-rise building – run by a ruthless drug lord – located in the slums of Jakarta. Among them is Rama (played by Uwais), a rookie member of the team.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far this year, from my least favorite to my favorite:

9. The Last Temptation Of Christ
8. The Raid
7. The King & I
6. The Hustler
5. Jackie Brown
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Watership Down
2. The Untouchables
1. Rocky

Even though The Raid is second from the bottom, I did really like it. This is just a strong list of movies! The only one I can’t say I really liked at all was The Last Temptation Of Christ.

I was expecting to maybe like The Raid more than I did, though. I loved the fast-paced action and the whole concept of battling their way through this high-rise building, which is such a simple yet brilliant idea for an action movie. And the movie does kick ass (although it was a bit too violent for me – I’m such a wuss).

I would never say that action movies are a favorite genre of mine but I do enjoy a really good one. The problem with action movies is that there are a lot of really bad ones and, while I don’t expect all of them to have much depth and am happy to sometimes just switch off my brain & be entertained, I do want to at least care about some of the characters. For me, an action movie either needs to be a) SO awesome & kick-ass that flaws in writing and weak character development can be overlooked or b) well-written with some really great characters & just enough action to keep things interesting. I prefer option b but option b with kick-ass action would be great. I’m trying to think of a “perfect” action movie. Hmm…. I don’t know. Maybe Aliens? Although I first think of sci-fi with that. The Terminator is another one. Maybe I only really like action within science fiction. What’s my point? I have no idea. I think what I’m saying is that The Raid is mostly option a. It’s a kick-ass action movie but is far more shallow than I was expecting after all the praise it’s had. I really liked our main “hero”, Rama, so that kept me caring about the final outcome but everyone else is as expendable as they’re written to be.

I did enjoy this movie so don’t want to come across as too negative. In thinking about what I consider to be my all-time favorite films, very few are from the action or crime genres. If this movie sounds like your type of thing, it’s one you should definitely watch if you haven’t. It’s a thoroughly entertaining film and I’m very much looking forward to seeing its sequel, which is even more highly rated for some reason. I’m hoping we maybe get a little more story & time spent on our main characters in that one?

I’m going to end by comparing The Raid to some other films. One obvious one is Die Hard (what with the whole baddies taking over a high-rise building thing). I’m not a huge lover of Die Hard like most people my age but it’s an action classic. Which is the better of the two? Probably Die Hard, and this is due to better characters. Another is the one a lot of people compare this to: Dredd. Although Dredd came out after The Raid, I saw it first & really liked it so it probably made seeing The Raid a little less interesting for me. Which is better? In a way, I think I enjoyed Dredd slightly more but The Raid is the better film. Dredd is 100% option a. No character development, shallow as hell, but really f*^king cool. I’d love to see them make a Dredd sequel but I don’t give a shit about what happens to the characters whereas I want to see The Raid 2 to see what happens since I cared just enough about (whoever may or may not have survived…? Spoilers??? 😉 ). Finally, it may seem an odd comparison but as I saw The Raid & Train To Busan recently, both are still in my mind. Well, they’re both foreign language films & they’re from the two genres that usually have the weakest characters: action & horror. The better film? Definitely Train To Busan. Why? Great characters! In a horror film!! So, it is possible. I suppose I just wanted a little something more from The Raid. I had a lot of fun watching it but it lacks that extra “something” that makes a film a true all-time classic.

My Rating: 7.5/10

After finally seeing The Raid, I definitely wouldn’t want to piss off Kanjiklub.

Valerian And The City of A Thousand Planets (2017) Review

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (2017)
French: Valérian et la Cité des mille planètes

Directed by Luc Besson

Based on Valérian and Laureline
by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

My Opinion:

I liked this. I didn’t really expect to. I do think I should just go into every movie with low expectations as I often end up far less disappointed that way. I went into this with low expectations as it looked like it could be a disaster. It’s a fun film.

Believe me, this movie is far from perfect. But if you like Besson’s The Fifth Element, I can’t see why you wouldn’t get some enjoyment out of this one as well. It’s visually impressive and I especially liked the gorgeous planet & alien race at the beginning of the film. I’m not sure if it’s really accurate to compare it to Avatar but I couldn’t help comparing them in my mind & I personally enjoyed this “science fiction movie with funny-looking aliens that some people won’t take seriously” film more than that one. The story itself & the look of the whole thing & even the comic relief all worked just fine for me. As I said, it’s a fun film & it kept me entertained throughout its rather long running time. I actually didn’t think it felt overlong, whereas I did feel that way about the film I watched before this one, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The only thing I can really fault about this film is its casting. Specifically its main stars: Dane DeHaan & Cara Delevingne as Valérian and Laureline. It’s a shame, as I think the lack of true leading character star power hurts the film. I know nothing whatsoever about the source material but they seem like two pretty cool characters and I imagine that they don’t really do them justice in this film. The surprising thing is I think DeHaan was almost weaker than Delevingne (who I really don’t like), although I’ve thought he was pretty good in the past in things such as The Place Beyond The Pines. Even more surprising is that Rihanna was pretty good in a small role but also as one of the better characters in the film overall. I liked her dance routine, which was pretty unique (but a little saucy if you bring your kids to the movie). Well, it’s no more saucy than her videos. But I may be the only one in my cinema who kept picturing the girl from Home every time she talked (my kid really likes that movie so I’ve seen it several times).

So. Where were we? A fun movie with weak stars that let the film down a little but lovely to look at and filled with wacky characters & some comic relief that you’ll either love or hate. The film is definitely not going to be for everyone but, hey – if you’ve seen The Fifth Element, you should know what to expect. If you like this genre (it’s my favorite) and if you’re happy to just enjoy a movie without overthinking things & being too judge-y, you may like this one just fine.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The King And I (1956) Blind Spot Review

The King And I (1956)

Directed by Walter Lang

Based on The King and I by Oscar Hammerstein II

Starring: Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno, Maureen Hingert, Martin Benson, Rex Thompson

Music by Richard Rodgers

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The King and I is a 1956 American musical film based on the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King and I, based in turn on the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s.

My Opinion:

Well, it looks like we’re halfway through the year & I’ve managed to watch 8 of my 12 2017 Blind Spot movies. Not too bad! So, I might as well have a look at where I think I’d rank each of them so far. From least favorite to favorite:

8. The Last Temptation Of Christ
7. The Raid
6. The King & I
5. The Hustler
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Jackie Brown
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

I’ve really liked all my movie choices so far other than The Last Temptation Of Christ (which was a bit of a snoozefest). So I have to say this Blind Spot thing is something I really do enjoy & the one thing I’d like to continue while I don’t really have time for much else on this blog at the moment.

There are still quite a few classic musicals that I’ve never seen so I’ll probably try to do one each year as a Blind Spot choice (next year’s will probably be Fiddler On The Roof). I do love a few of them but, overall, musicals aren’t exactly a favorite genre of mine. I’ve now updated My Top Ten Movie Musicals post and The King & I just makes it in at number ten. It’s certainly not up there with the likes of The Sound Of Music or The Wizard Of Oz but it’s a lovely film definitely worth watching and one that I’m happy to have shared with my eight-year-old. I’m also happy to say that it met with her approval as well! She especially liked all the kids that are in the film and still often quotes Yul Brynner’s “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!”, which I find adorable. I’m loving sharing classic films with my kid & often feel like we don’t get enough of these types of movies nowadays. What are future generations going to share with their kids when it comes to movies? Baywatch???

I know this is one of quite a few films for which Marni Nixon provided the singing voice. I’ll never quite understand when they have a different person provide the singing voice. Surely you can find someone who can act and sing??? Anyway – Kerr was good in this (and I didn’t find her lip syncing obvious) but it was Brynner’s King who really made the film for me. Well, okay – it’s the two characters together which really makes the film work because of their completely different lifestyles & values. Who doesn’t enjoy the whole “opposites attract” thing?? That’s why it’s used so often in stories! But Brynner was especially fun to watch in this and I’d have to say I enjoyed the film more than I expected to after it got off to a fairly slow start.

I think The King & I has probably not aged quite as well as some films due to feeling out of date and due to, in my opinion, not having as many memorable songs as a lot of other famous musicals. The only one I already knew beforehand was Getting To Know You (which I’ve shared at the end of this post). I expected there to be more “Hey, I know this song” moments as I watched this. It’s not a huge complaint, though. I really enjoyed this movie & would happily watch it again. I liked the story, the characters, the costumes, the song & dance numbers, and the fact that The King & I just feels like an all-time classic musical in a way that La La Land just doesn’t feel like something that will be held in quite such high regard 60 years from now.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**This was meant to be my Blind Spot Movie for June but I’ve not had much time to write reviews. So I’ve quickly done two in one go! I’ll be posting the review for my July Blind Spot Movie, Rocky, tomorrow. 🙂

Logan (2017) Review

Logan (2017)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a past-his-prime Logan embarking on a “road trip” across a dystopian future version of America for one final mission.

My Opinion:

I’m not going to say yet again how superheroed-out I am and that I skipped watching all superhero movies last year other than Deadpool & Captain America: Civil War. Oops – I guess I did just say it again? Anyway, I’m not a big superhero geek & don’t read any comics (well, I read Watchmen & Tank Girl so I’m lying a little) but I enjoy these movies when they’re halfway decent. The X-Men movie series has probably actually been my favorite. At least, character-wise, it’s the group of “superheroes” (okay, mutants) that I’ve been drawn to the most. The movies started out pretty good (although a little cheesy) but have ended up so disappointing in recent years. Hell, I didn’t even watch X-Men: Apocalypse or The Wolverine. That’s pretty bad considering how much I loved these characters after the first couple of films.

Then Logan came along, which looked a bit different and had a great trailer (plus a young girl kicking ass!) so I was finally once again excited to watch an X-Men movie. I suppose it helps that two of the absolute best X-Men characters are the stars of this one (Professor X is my personal favorite. Yay, Patrick Stewart!). I honestly didn’t miss having loads of other mutants in this. I find it overkill sometimes when you have too many characters, like in Civil War. Sometimes less is more and I liked so much focus being on Logan, Charles & Laura.

I really enjoyed Logan. It’s a very good film for this genre. I think the more violent, more grown-up thing worked very well for the character of Wolverine but wouldn’t necessarily work for all other comic book characters. It was the perfect “end(?)” to this character’s story (for me). And, I’m not gonna lie – I loved seeing a young girl kicking ass. Plus I love a good father/daughter-like relationship in a movie. Dafne Keen did a great job and I was a sucker for the relationship she developed with Logan as well as with Charles. And of course the further development of the existing relationship between Logan & Charles. I love that kind of shit. A fucked-up, crazy, loving mutant family! Good character development & angst & feelings. I like that! Good stuff.

I admit that I didn’t care too much about the actual story itself. The story was decent enough. I can’t say I ever take these comic book storylines too seriously anyway. With these kind of movies, I always care more about really good characters & just enough action to keep things moving along and Logan delivers as far as these two things are concerned. Did I like it more than the very first two X-Men movies? I don’t know. In some ways, yes. I think it’s the better film but certainly not as much “fun”. But it’s not meant to be – I guess it depends what you want from a comic book movie. I like either fun or serious depending on my mood and I enjoyed Logan as much as the first couple of X-Men films, just in a different sort of way. Other than that, I don’t have much more to say. I’m no expert on these movies as I haven’t read any of the comics so can’t compare. I like the films. I love the characters. I thought Logan was a great final film for Wolverine. For now. Until another sequel or prequel or evil twin or clone or time travel or some alternate reality bullshit comes along…

My Rating: 7.5/10

T2 Trainspotting (2017) Review

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Based on Trainspotting and Porno by Irvine Welsh

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
20 years after the previous film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland to make amends with his friends, Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), whilst avoiding the psychopathic Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this sequel more than I thought I would and it was better than I expected. It’s interesting that just last week I reviewed The Hustler (1961) and its sequel The Color Of Money (1986). It doesn’t always work to revisit characters with films that are 20+ years apart. However, in the case of both The Color Of Money & T2, I did thoroughly enjoy seeing what our much older characters are now up to and I don’t think either film ruined its (admittedly superior) predecessor.

Let’s face it – the Trainspotting sequel was never going to be better than the original. Trainspotting was so of its time and it captured a mood, time & place in a way I don’t think could ever be replicated now. All I wanted was a sequel that wasn’t embarrassing & didn’t ruin the characters as we remember them and I think Danny Boyle has managed to deliver this to Trainspotting fans. I’ve actually been extremely disappointed with some of his films I’ve watched lately (Trance, Slumdog Millionaire) so am very happy to say that this sequel met & even exceeded my expectations. I still like these characters. (Other than Begbie, of course… What an asshole!)

I really like the first film and think it deserves its acclaim for being something quite unique. When I first saw it years ago, it was when I was first starting to really get into films and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before (and probably one of the most shocking I’d seen at that point in my life). I was also still in America at that point so I suppose it was very foreign to me as well. I’ve only watched it once more since (just after moving to the UK over a decade ago) so, while I think it’s a very good film, I’m not one of its obsessive fans and had even forgotten bits & pieces of it. More than anything, it was the soundtrack from the original that stuck with me (Excellent soundtrack!). I probably could’ve done with re-watching the first before the sequel but, with the help of some flashbacks which I thought were well done, it filled in a few blanks in my mind.

My point is this: I’m no expert or obsessive Trainspotting fan and I’ve never read the books so I don’t feel very qualified in reviewing this sequel. I know I personally enjoyed it and it was great revisiting the characters and seeing them together again (especially Renton & Spud. I’d forgotten how likable Spud was – he’s easily my favorite character in the sequel). This is a more grown-up film and certainly not as intense as the original but it feels “right“. These guys are 20 years older – they’re not going to be exactly the same. However, they still stay true to their characters and, though older and supposedly wiser, still make bad decisions and mistakes.

Immediately after watching this, I was mostly curious what fellow blogger Mark of Marked Movies thought of it as I know he’s a big fan of the original (and he’s from Scotland, I should add). He kindly reviewed the original a couple of years ago for my IMDB Top 250 Project HERE (Thanks again, Mark!). I figure that his opinion on this sequel is far more relevant than mine so, if you’d also like the opinion of a big Trainspotting fan, you can read his review of the sequel HERE. It looks like we both feel quite similar about the sequel so Boyle seems to have done a good job keeping loyal fans (as well as casual fans such as myself) happy. Oh yeah – The soundtrack is also okay but it’s not as awesome as the first film’s!

My Rating: 7.5/10

La La Land (2016) Review

La La Land (2016)

Directed & Written by Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt

Music by Justin Hurwitz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.

My Opinion:

So, this movie got a record 1,582 Oscar nominations yesterday (roughly). I finally saw it over the weekend & knew instantly that it would get loads of Oscar noms as this is the type of movie that’s SO right up the Academy voters’ street (and butt). Don’t worry – I’m not going to be all “this is overrated!”. Those people who go around shouting “this is overrated!” are so overrated. This is a lovely film. It’s a good film. It’s not, in my opinion, up there with the all-time musical greats such as The Sound Of Music, The Wizard Of Oz, Singin’ In The Rain, etc etc etc. It’s good! I enjoyed it and really liked Gosling & especially Stone, who are as great together as always. But I think people will realize ten years from now that La La Land doesn’t come close to touching the all-time classic musicals. (It’s also far less of a “musical” than I was expecting!)

I found the movie a little uneven. It starts out with a big musical number that has such a different sound & vibe from the rest of the film that it feels like it’s from a different movie. It’s an okay number (not my favorite & I can’t even remember the music from it right now) but it sets things up to be this epic musical when all we get are a few more “big” song & dance numbers (I did really like two of these) and several smaller-scale musical scenes. I felt bad thinking that this movie was overlong and could’ve had at least 20 minutes shaved off of it (it’s 2 hours 8 minutes) but I don’t think I’d have been checking my watch if they’d had more scenes like the musical number with Gosling & Stone in the observatory. That one was lovely & it was one of the only times I thought the film came close to the standard I expect from a really good musical.

This movie didn’t seem to have a clear overall goal or, shit, I dunno… a clear aesthetic? Don’t get me wrong – I loved the bold, primary colors and I’m still trying to decide which dress of Stone’s I liked the most (probably the green dress in the above photo). But this didn’t always fit with the other imagery or with the music when the movie tried to be more “classic Hollywood” or tried to go with a jazz vibe. Damien Chazelle was possibly trying to cram in too many different artistic & musical styles he likes instead of sticking to one main theme or at least trying to make these different styles mesh together a bit better. Being a lover of film & classic Hollywood, I was naturally more attracted to the scenes such as the lovely observatory number that attempted to imitate this (although some of the classic Hollywood scenes were somewhat derivative) than I was to the brightly colored musical numbers that felt like some 1990’s Gap ad. Or, as my hubby put it, a Feist video. 

I think what’s possibly my biggest problem with the movie (this may get me into trouble to say but, hey, no one is reading this, right?) – La La Land is a bit too “Millennial Musical” for me to really see it as all-time classic. I can’t see me wanting to watch this 52 years from now the way I’ll still happily watch all 3 hours of The Sound Of Music. FYI – I did the math to find out that The Sound Of Music is 52 years old. Then I realized that I’m sounding like the grumpy old person that I am so I did some more math and realized that I’ll most likely be dead in 52 years anyway, so… Okay, I guess if you really love La La Land & I’ve offended you with my “Millennial Musical” statement, you’ll get the last laugh when I die of old age soon. 😉

Summary:

La La Land is a good film with Stone & Gosling just as lovable together as always. I’m very happy for their Acting Oscar nominations and think they’re well deserved. I know I often come across as negative but I’m perfectly fine with all the nominations this film has received as I do think it’s a very good and, at times, almost fantastic film. It’s not like I could make a better movie! What do I make? Stupid spreadsheets! (Although I do make them almost as colorful as La La Land).

I just feel like some absolute masterpieces have actually been made in the past few years with little or no rewards while La La Land will likely win all it’s up for mainly because it’s the Academy voters’ type of “thing”. They love a musical and anything that celebrates their way of life. I truly wanted to love this movie. I wanted to be moved by a film that celebrates a “love of cinema & the arts” the way I was by Cinema Paradiso. Or perhaps The Artist or Hugo – these three films capture the filmmakers’ love of cinema in a way that La La Land never quite manages. I wanted the powerful emotional response I had to Arrival & to Room (btw – Amy Adams was ROBBED!!!). For whatever reason, though, La La Land didn’t strike a chord with me. It’s a lovely movie to take your mind off the rest of the world for a couple of hours but I didn’t walk out of it with that feeling of elation that I (and other movie nerds) get from only the truly best pieces of filmmaking.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Here’s that Feist video. La La Land is an enjoyable film but if you really don’t fancy it, I suppose you can just watch this video to get a feel for one of the three main vibes going on in it.

Plus this Gap ad:

And this is easily my favorite theme from La La Land. I do think this is beautiful and wish all the music in the film was as simple & elegant as this piece. THIS feels timeless:

Running On Empty (1988) Blind Spot Review

Running On Empty (1988)

Directed by Sidney Lumet

Starring: Christine Lahti, Judd Hirsch, River Phoenix, Martha Plimpton, Steven Hill

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The eldest son of a fugitive family comes of age and wants to live a life of his own.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Running On Empty:

11. Eyes Without A Face – 7/10
10. An Education – 7/10
9. Phenomena – 7/10
8. Magic – 7/10
7. Summer Wars – 7/10
6. True Romance – 7/10
5. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
4. Running On Empty – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

This was a slight cheat for my Blind Spot list as I think I saw at least part of this film at the time but didn’t remember it. I’m not sure why I never fully explored it as I absolutely loved River Phoenix and I was completely & utterly obsessed with Stand By Me. That remains my most-watched movie to this day due to the multiple times I watched it at the age of 13/14. And, no, I’m still not over River’s death! You know how some of you younger bloggers feel about Heath Ledger?? River was the Heath of my generation. So damn talented… What a sad loss for the acting world – River was already fantastic at such a young age.

So, I’ll start with River’s performance in Running On Empty. He’s the true star of the film & his role won him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (although I’d call it a lead role). I still often wonder what he’d be like today, at the age of 46, and how many Oscars he’d have (he’d most certainly have some). He’d be another Leonardo DiCaprio. Yep – there are some damn fine actors from my generation! Anyway, he was great playing a boy of (17?) in this film and he had just the right mix of maturity yet boyish playfulness. I sometimes get annoyed when teenagers are too mature in films – it’s not believable.

So, yeah – River is the best thing about this movie but there are strong performances from everyone involved. Christine Lahti is probably the most moving as a mother who knows she may need to let her son go in order to give him a chance to live a normal life. Judd Hirsch plays the father who insists that the family will always stay together, on the run, no matter what. And Martha Plimpton plays a girl who, along with the opportunity to go to a prestigious college, makes River’s character long to lead a normal life instead of always having to move from place to place & assume new identities every time his fugitive parents are in danger of being discovered. They’re a very close-knit family and you can’t help but want them to be able to somehow live happily ever after despite the mistakes the parents made in the past (they’re ex-hippies who bombed a napalm laboratory, seriously injuring a janitor who wasn’t meant to be there).

I think this is a sadly overlooked Sidney Lumet film as he’s done so many absolute classics (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, etc). It’s a shame as Running On Empty is a very good film with moving performances (especially from River – it’s amazing that I somehow missed out on this one as a fan of his). It has, admittedly, maybe not dated all that well in the same way a lot of 80’s films haven’t so it won’t necessarily be one that a younger generation will go for. If you grew up on 80’s films, however, this is a must-see that I think plenty of people didn’t see. I’m not sure why it didn’t get more attention but I’m glad that River Phoenix at least got an Oscar nomination. And I’m glad I finally took the time to watch it! And to once again have him break my heart… River did 80’s coming-of-age dramas perfectly.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Yes, this Jackson Browne song was in my head the whole time. No, it’s not in the movie. Hmm – I should add this movie to my list of My Top Ten Movies With Song Title Titles! FYI – Stand By Me was number one on that list…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW***

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Rogue One follows a group of Rebel spies on a mission to steal design schematics for the Galactic Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star.

My Opinion:

This is going to be really short because a) I have a headache & want to go to bed and b) I’ve realized that no one actually reads anything that I write anyway. Ha! 😉 So I’m more interested in having a discussion about this movie with all of you in the comments instead of me rambling on about the movie for ages. So spoiler-free review but spoilerific in the comment section once you’ve all seen this. Here are my initial thoughts:

I might come back to this movie in a week and give some further thoughts on it here like I did a few days after my initial review of The Force Awakens (review HERE). With The Force Awakens, I wanted to re-visit it a few days after my excitement died down to see if I really DID like it as much as I seemed to (my initial reaction was right – I still love it). Rogue One is quite different in that I don’t instantly love it in the same way I did The Force Awakens. Not even close. I think it’s known by now that this is a very “different” Star Wars movie and I can confirm that that’s indeed an accurate statement. This one is going to take some getting used to. Will I like it more after some time has passed? I honestly have no idea. I hope so…

This isn’t your typical “family” Star Wars movie. This isn’t your straightforward black & white, good vs evil type of story. So many shades of gray to these characters, which is great & very grown-up. But that will also make for a much more divisive movie. And, no – your kids probably aren’t going to like this one very much. If at all. Do NOT let this one be their introduction to the Star Wars universe! FYI – the proper way to introduce kids is to show them in release-date order in my humble (and correct) opinion. If you don’t start with A New Hope, you’re doing it wrong! 😉

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is another strong female lead, which I’ll never complain about. I’m loving this current movie trend! She’s no Leia or Rey, though. I didn’t have the instant connection with her like I did with Rey. With Rey, I was shocked to find by the end of the film that I cared about her just as much as I do the original trilogy characters. Same with Finn & BB-8 – these characters ARE Star Wars to me and I absolutely cannot wait to see them again in the next movie. Unfortunately, I can’t say I felt any connection like this with any of the Rogue One characters. I enjoyed watching the story unfold and lead up to A New Hope, my favorite of all the films. But I just felt a bit empty by the end. I didn’t really care about these people. Oh man… I don’t want to say that about a Star Wars movie!

Okay – I did like two characters a lot. Don’t get me wrong – I really did like Jyn Erso but she wasn’t my favorite character in the end. The two who really stole the show were Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe & Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus. Actually, I loved these guys! Great characters, but they didn’t feel like “Star Wars characters” (not that anyone really did). I’d happily watch a standalone movie with these two characters, though – they were fantastic. They kicked ass, were super cool, and had great chemistry. Without them, I’d probably rate this movie quite a bit lower to be honest. I was thankful they were in it as the movie seriously picked up once they showed up.

Sorry – I said this would be super short. I’m going to end here & see how I feel about Rogue One a week from now. I certainly didn’t hate it but I also know I don’t instantly love it the way I did with The Force Awakens. I’ve not read any reviews yet to avoid spoilers but the one thing I kept seeing on Twitter was that it “feels like Star Wars!”. I’m not sure I agree with that statement. Sorry….

My Initial Rating: 7.5/10

Kubo And The Two Strings (2016) & Trolls (2016) Movie Reviews

Here are two reviews for the only two films I’ve seen in the cinema in the past two months. Help!!! I want to go to a grown-up movie again someday! 😦 Well, at least one of these was good…

Kubo And The Two Strings (2016)

Directed by Travis Knight

Starring: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey

Production company: Laika

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film revolves around Kubo, who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, they must subdue the Sisters, Raiden the Moon King and his army of evil spirits.

My Opinion:

Yep – As you probably guessed, this is the good one of these two films. We went to this as a family and all really liked it but, of the three of us, my hubby is the one who loved it the most. He’s a big fan of stop-motion animation (probably thanks to growing up on Ray Harryhausen films) and seems fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stuff that Laika put in their end credits.

Of the Laika films so far, ParaNorman is still possibly my personal favorite but Kubo is a very close second and the one I’d actually say is their “best film” so far. I hated The Boxtrolls (can’t win them all!) but the animation was fantastic as always. I admit to falling asleep in the middle of Coraline years ago & never going back to it but that’s been due to lack of time more than lack of interest. I really should finish that one but will wait until I think the kid is old enough to watch it with me (what I saw was kind of creepy – what age would you guys recommend on that one?).

As with other Laika films, Kubo And The Two Strings is dark, serious, and slightly intense. It’s one you’re obviously not going to bring a three-year-old to or to watch for the simple, silly giggles like you get out of something like Trolls. Laika doesn’t need to make those sort of films, though – we already have studios such as DreamWorks for that. As a (admittedly sometimes too snobby) fan of film, I have a lot of respect for Laika (and Pixar) making true art for kids & grown-ups alike and for never dumbing things down for their younger audiences.

As a lover of Studio Ghibli & a lot of Japanese films, I loved the setting & vibe of Kubo (although, of course, it’s voiced mostly by American or British actors). That’s my only small complaint about the film – the voices of Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara & Matthew McConaughey don’t exactly give this film a genuine Japanese vibe. But, well… it was made in the West & we speak English, so…

Anyway – I don’t want to take away from the film as it’s a lovely work of art with an original & unique story. No, not all kids will love it and you might not want to let anyone too young watch it (mine is seven & she really liked it, though not as much as the Studio Ghibli films she’s seen. Yes! I love my kid). 😉 I’d say minimum age of six on this one but, as always, it depends on each individual kid. The evil Sisters & Moon King are quite frightening and Kubo’s eye is stolen for crying out loud (this isn’t shown)… Actually, yeah – this one is pretty scary come to think of it. But there are still light-hearted moments and my daughter seemed pretty taken with Kubo, Monkey & Beetle, who are strong main characters.

I want to give this movie a slightly higher score as I think it’s very good but there’s also something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think I just have yet to fully connect with any of the characters in Laika’s films in the same way I have with so many Pixar characters. I don’t get the same sort of wave of emotion that I do while watching the best of Pixar or Ghibli but I think Laika is coming closer to someday achieving that same level of genius. I feel kind of the same about this film as I do Song Of The Sea, which I also watched recently. That was absolutely gorgeous to look at but I didn’t “care” as much as I’d hoped to while watching it. Still, Kubo is another step in the right direction & I look forward to future films from Laika.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trolls (2016)

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film revolves around two trolls on a quest to save their village from destruction by the Bergens, creatures who devour trolls.

My Opinion:

Kids’ films are hard to review, which is why at one point I tried to review Cinderella (2015) in a way where I gave my daughter’s opinion as well as my own (and hubby’s – he’s actually as big of a movie nut as I am). This was because I was accused of taking kids’ films too seriously in one of my reviews and I actually got quite upset because it was a time when I cared what people thought of me. Not anymore! 😉 Screw that. I’m a movie-blogging-asshole with strong opinions & feel that even “kids’ films” should maintain certain standards. Hell, they’re even more important since what they teach (and too often preach) is going to have an impact on impressionable young minds. Which brings me to Trolls…..

I have no idea how to review this because it seriously SUCKS but my daughter LOVED it! Hahaha! I’m so conflicted!!!! My snobby self wants to trash it but, in all honesty, it’s one of my favorite trips to the cinema in ages. She giggled like crazy through this entire glitter vomit nightmare and it made me so happy that I wanted to cry. What’s better than seeing your kid happy?! So, um… Hmm.

Trolls! Ugh. Well, this movie was pretty much what I expect from DreamWorks. DreamWorks has made loads of highly successful films and I respect that as it’s far more impressive than staring at spreadsheets all day like an un-artistic loser like me but I’ll never see their films as anything more than “movies for kids”. There’s nothing wrong with this and I’m glad they’ve made so many kids happy but I prefer family films that appeal to young & old alike. And so you don’t think I’m a grumpy old fart who can’t just shut up & enjoy a simple kids’ movie, I do like some DreamWorks (I should do one of my annoying top tens! The Kung Fu Pandas & Monsters Vs. Aliens are probably my favorites while my kid seems to like How To Train Your Dragon & that weird Puss In Boots).

Trolls! Is it obvious I don’t feel like reviewing this??? Let’s see… Poppy was very cute. My daughter loved young Poppy at the beginning of the movie and, while she went too annoyingly cute at times, the character mostly stayed on the right side of the sickeningly sweet line. The kid also loved that she’s voiced by Anna Kendrick since she knows her as the Cups song girl. She also likes Gwen Stefani, who was completely wasted in a tiny role in a movie so full of music.

Speaking of music, Trolls took a lot of GREAT songs and ruined them. Again, I’m conflicted as they had the good taste to pick songs by artists such as Gorillaz & Justice (!!!) but then ruined them by turning them into dumb songs about troll hair (!!!!!). Oops – I’m being bitchy again. But I thought the hubby was going to either cry or scream & run out of the cinema when the Trolls version of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love started up… Lol! (You think I’m a snob? He’s far worse than I am). To be fair, the movie’s Cyndi Lauper True Colors scene wasn’t bad. And, hey – I think the Justin Timberlake song, Can’t Stop The Feeling, is a genuinely good song and the one thing from this film that will stand the test of time. It got the biggest reaction from kids in the cinema (some even cheered). I said something positive! Yay me! Oh, I also kind of liked the cloud dude. He was weirdly funny. My daughter didn’t like him, though – she looked at me like I was a weirdo when I said he was my favorite character. He looked stoned:

Trolls! They look nothing like the classic Trolls we grew up with. That’s annoying. I want my kid to have a genuine ugly, naked troll doll – not these pink, sparkly cartoon versions! Dammit. At least the classic ones have a brief cameo, I guess. The bad guys in this, the Bergens, were stupid & got on my nerves but at least they made me like the Trolls more. Hey – there’s another positive. Yay me! I’ve said some good things about this movie! Justin Timberlake’s character wasn’t too bad, mostly since he had the right attitude (not an asshole Bergen but not annoyingly happy like the other Trolls).

This review is too long & I’m bored. I was going to write one paragraph & be done with it. Ha! I do ramble on when I’m being bitchy. Sorry about that. Trolls! It sucks but your young kid will probably love it and seeing your kid smile will melt your frozen heart (Anna/Elsa-style!). But those goddamn troll-hair songs will still make you cringe…

My Rating: 5.5/10

**Okay – I admit I was in a horrible mood when I wrote these reviews. Yesterday, however, I watched my first proper grown-up film in months and MAN was it a good one!!! So I’m slightly less grumpy now. 😉 I’ll try to review that film tomorrow…. (it was Arrival, FYI)

Trick ‘r Treat (2007) Review

Happy Halloween, everyone! This movie was an unplanned watch over the weekend. So, there will be two horror reviews from me today: this one and later on one of my Blind Spot choices I’d already planned to be the end to my October Horror Month. As for Trick ‘r Treat, I’d not even heard of it until fairly recently. I didn’t necessarily expect much from it as the majority of modern horrors suck. Well, Hell – this was a pleasant surprise! Let’s talk about it…

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Directed & Written by Michael Dougherty

Starring: Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Rochelle Aytes, Quinn Lord, Lauren Lee Smith, Moneca Delain, Tahmoh Penikett, Leslie Bibb

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Trick ‘r Treat centers on four Halloween-related horror stories. One common element that ties the stories together is the presence of Sam, a mysterious child trick-or-treater wearing shabby orange pajamas with a burlap sack over his head, that makes an appearance in all the stories whenever someone breaks Halloween traditions.

My Opinion:

This movie somehow completely passed me by when it came out. I saw a couple of bloggers give it positive reviews last year so I’ve since been curious about it but still didn’t rush to try see it. Thank you to the hubby for seeing the DVD cheap the other night and picking it up for me as a Halloween treat! 🙂 I hadn’t planned on actually watching any horror movies for Halloween this year but I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed this one. It has the best “Halloween spirit” of anything I’ve seen in a very long time.

I do love horror anthologies. I’ve always been a fan of this format, though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Yes, this film could be accused of being somewhat derivative as it’s very much like watching Tales From The Crypt meets Creepshow meets Goosebumps. It even throws in the comic book panel thing. Well, I’m not going to complain as all work is derivative anyway. As long as something good & enjoyable comes from it, I don’t really mind.

I thought this film was quite clever in the way it connected these four stories (actually five stories, including the opening to the film). Sam the adorable/creepy trick-or-treater with the sack on his head makes an appearance in each story as do the various characters within each of the other stories. It all takes place during Halloween festivities in a small Ohio town.

What I love about anthologies is that you get a variety of stories and everyone will have a different favorite. I’m still not sure which is my favorite from Trick ‘r Treat. Possibly the school bus massacre? Or maybe the Sam segment… I don’t know! The cool thing is that I liked all of them. And I’m super picky, especially with this genre.

I’ll say something quick about each segment (using the names for each as listed at Wikipedia – I don’t know if they have specific titles):


The Opening:

This is a short story that opens the film and for some reason doesn’t seem to get counted as I keep reading that there are “four stories”. Like the rest, though, it’s interwoven throughout the film as we see these characters again (a Halloween-hating woman & her Halloween-loving boyfriend). It’s a decent opening and a throwback to Eighties slashers.


The Principal:

This is one of the two segments that I’d label “horror comedy”, yet I haven’t seen this movie called a horror comedy anywhere. Actually, the entire film has fun comedic elements so I’m not sure why it’s labelled strictly as horror/thriller.

When I got this DVD, I immediately looked up the film’s director & writer (because I’m a weirdo nerd) and discovered it’s from the guy who did Christmas horror comedy Krampus (Michael Dougherty). Krampus wasn’t perfect but I did really enjoy it and you can very much tell that these films are from the same person (especially the Meet Sam segment below, which had a very similar feel to Krampus). Dougherty hasn’t done a lot of directing – he’s mostly been a writer for things like X-Men 2, Superman Returns, X-Men: Apocalypse… Screw that superhero stuff – he needs to make more stuff like Trick ‘r Treat & Krampus! This is what he seems to be best at. Where’s the Trick ‘r Treat sequel supposedly in development? I now want a sequel.

Oops – I went off on a tangent. The Principal! This was a funny segment & you gotta love Dylan Baker as the “school principal with a dark secret”. He was perfect for this role – that dude is so weird. Anyone here ever watch The Good Wife besides me? Probably not but he’s so similar here to his great unhinged character from that show. Not my favorite segment but it’s good & probably the most “Creepshow“-like.


The School Bus Massacre Revisited:

I really liked this story, although I’ve seen it compared to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps stories. I can see why there’s the comparison as, overall but especially with this story, this movie was far more tame than I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, though – this is not a kids’ film so don’t gather the family around for this one on Halloween! 😉 There’s still plenty of blood & violence but it has a great cheesy 80’s vibe as opposed to the sick torture porn shit of today (I can’t stomach those). This story, starring kids telling the tale of the legend of a “school bus massacre” in the town’s past, is minimal on gore but probably the one that’s most in the spirit of Halloween & the scary tales we liked to hear as kids. Fun stuff!


Surprise Party:

This story revolves around four (teenage? twenty-something?) girls on their way to a party & doing the typical “let’s dress slutty for Halloween” thing. Oh, but one of them (Anna Paquin) is a virgin & looking to find a date & make her first time special. I’d assume this is possibly the most popular segment? It’s probably actually the best of the five. It wasn’t the most original if you’ve seen enough horror films but I really liked the direction this story took. Plus there’s some boobage for the male viewers, if you like that sort of thing…


Meet Sam:

If I had to pick a favorite segment, I’d probably go with this one in which we finally meet that adorably creepy sack-head trick-or-treater we see throughout all the stories. “Sam” is a great design – it had to be difficult to make something so cute yet scary as f*^k at the same time. This bit is silly in a wonderfully retro-Eighties way and I would assume this is either people’s favorite or least favorite of the five. If you just go with it & have fun in the way I believe the director/writer intended, you should really enjoy the Meet Sam segment. If you liked Krampus, you’ll like this. And vice versa.

Conclusion (the movie’s & mine):

After our five stories, the movie neatly wraps things up for each of them and gives a satisfying conclusion as far as horror films go. Again, I liked how cleverly interwoven the stories were and would only have one small complaint about something that felt forced & didn’t quite add up (involving the other story the school principal is a part of – it made no sense how he came to be there…). That’s a minor thing, though – I really enjoyed this film overall and think it’s a fantastic one to watch each Halloween.

But I admit that this movie is going to be more to my taste than to a younger generation because of its obvious Eighties influences. I looked up the director’s age afterwards to see if he was the same sort of age as me since it felt like he must have grown up on the same kind of horrors that I did (he is so he clearly did). Younger audiences may not appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humor and may mistake this film for “cheesy” as opposed to an homage to the fun horrors I grew up on and which weren’t meant to be taken so damn seriously. Yeah, I enjoyed Trick ‘r Treat quite a bit and am even giving it the highest rating of everything I’ve reviewed this month. Good old-fashioned horror fun. Bring on the sequel!

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974), San Andreas & Pixels Movie Reviews 

Three quickie reviews today & I mean it. I’m going to try to not ramble on in my reviews anymore. I mainly just like discussing movies with people in the comments so I’m only really here to say whether I liked a film or not & then to hear what others have to say about it.

It’s an odd assortment today but I can tell you that one was really good, one was really bad but fun, and one was just really bad with a great concept it somehow managed to shit all over. I’m sure you can guess which is which…

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Directed by Joseph Sargent

Based on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey

Starring: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this movie. I love movies from the 1970s and was happy when both this & Escape From Alcatraz became available on one of our movie services. Man it’s hard keeping track of which movies are available where, when & how – I know I’m old school but I still kind of prefer just being able to go to a video store. So, anyway – I made the hubby watch them both with me about the same time last year and they were great. Alcatraz was better and I highly recommend that one but Pelham was really good as well. No, I’ve not seen the remake with John Travolta and I don’t plan to.

If you’ve not seen this, imagine Speed set on a subway train in 1974 instead of a bus with attractive people in 1994. So, I guess Walter Matthau is kind of the Keanu Reeves in this. Gotta say I prefer Keanu (he was such a hottie in Speed). Actually, I found Matthau a bit distracting but he was probably the only thing I didn’t really like about this as he just seemed out of place. Robert Shaw was great as one of the hijackers, though! I think I’d only ever seen him in Jaws before this (which he’s AWESOME in). All the hijackers were great & I loved all the drama on the train. The only times the movie dragged a little were when we got away from that action and back to the cops & Matthau’s character dealing with the hostage takers’ ransom demands. Overall, though, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three is a great 70’s action thriller I’d definitely recommend to anyone who is a fan of this sort of genre.

My Rating: 7.5/10

San Andreas (2015)

Directed by Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.

My Opinion:

Ha! This movie was so bad. But it was “fun bad”. It was exactly what I think we’ve all come to expect from these cheesy disaster movies so, therefore, I kind of enjoyed it. It’s utterly ridiculous. Some random people get saved at the last minute, which is supposed to make the audience all cheer while thousands of others are sucked into the Earth to their deaths. Never mind those people as long as a girl with big boobs & a dog get saved! Actually, San Andreas didn’t pull the “save the dog” trick. Damn – I always laugh out loud when the dogs get saved…

Alexandra Daddario wears a shirt over a tight tank top which, conveniently, has to he taken off & used as a bandage or something. I don’t remember. But this is just in time for the coming flood which will see her submerged in water while wearing the tight tank top, of course. She’s ended up with a somewhat dorky boy her age who can’t believe his luck at being in an earthquake with such a babe and his little brother who I realized was Rickon Stark. Then they had to run from the earthquake while Kylie Minogue shot arrows at them. Okay, not really but that would’ve been funny. But Kylie Monogue was seriously in this. WTF? Not for long, though – she falls out of a building. Sorry! That’s not really a spoiler since she’s a bitch & this film follows the disaster movie rules of “If you’re an asshole, you die”. Then Dwayne Johnson dies. HA! Just kidding! Of course he doesn’t. He’s not an asshole – he’s the hero! Can you believe that this is the only Dwayne Johnson movie I’ve ever seen??? Oh yeah – and I totally forgot that Paul Giamatti was in this in a completely pointless role. I guess we all gotta pay the bills, huh? And, let’s see… Dwayne Johnson & Carla Gugino (Alexandra “tight tank top” Daddario’s parents) are divorced because they have a tragic past that tore them apart but now they have to work together to save their daughter and THE END IS A COMPLETE SHOCK THAT I DIDN’T SEE COMING!!!! Lol. Just kidding. Predictable disaster movie bullshit every step of the way. GOOD! That’s exactly what I wanted & this movie delivered. Fun bad! But still very bad… 😉

My Rating: 5.5/10

Pixels (2015)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Based on Pixels by Patrick Jean

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

My Opinion:

When I found out they’d be making a full length movie of the fantastic Pixels short film, I was excited. It’s such an awesome concept & the short is great. What could possibly go wrong, right? Holy shit – how did they manage to mess this film up so completely?! You can watch the (far superior) short film HERE.

I actually don’t hate Adam Sandler like I know a lot of people do. He’s been in plenty of movies that are complete & utter shit but he’s also been in several that I liked okay. He’s from “my” era of SNL and, overall, I don’t really have anything against him. But I worried like hell when I heard that this would be an Adam Sandler film & thought “well, maybe it will have decent writers & he’ll just star in it”. Nope, this is an Adam Sandler movie. It’s not the worst of his worst: it’s one of the “mediocre” Adam Sandler movies. But that’s not what this should’ve been! There was so much potential here to make a decent movie out of that brilliant short and instead they decided to make The Waterboy version of Pixels. Pixels Gilmore! Pixels Madison! Pixels Nicky! You Don’t Mess With The Pixels! I Now Pronounce You Pixels & Larry! 8 (Bit) Crazy Pixels!

This movie was such a massive disappointment. Sandler is actually fine, I guess – he’s far less annoying than the other characters. Kevin James plays the most unbelievable President Of The United States in the history of film. Peter Dinklage is, sadly, just plain embarrassing. Not only did this movie piss all over the short film but it also managed to somewhat destroy one of the greatest Game Of Thrones characters for me! Rickon Stark was better in San Andreas. Oh, and that reminds me: Sean Bean has a small role in this too. How could I forget Ned Stark being in this as well?! Because the movie is forgettable, that’s why. Michelle Monaghan, unsurprisingly, plays Sandler’s usual paint-by-numbers love interest. Q*bert plays a character WHO TALKS. What the @!#?@! That really annoyed me. Wreck-It Ralph got Q*bert right! Wreck-It Ralph got a lot of things right. That movie has really gone up in my opinion over time & Pixels made me appreciate it even more. Watch the Pixels short & watch Wreck-It Ralph. Watch any of the movies in my list of My Top Ten Video Game Movies. Then watch The Wedding Singer if you want to watch an Adam Sandler movie because that one is good. Then, if you really MUST satisfy your curiosity, watch Pixels with extremely low expectations. After all my bitching, I should give this a lower score but I’ve seen movies that are worse and I have to admit that one cool thing came out of watching this: it got my daughter very interested in classic arcade games. That alone made the movie worthwhile but, dammit, I really wish it had been good.

My Rating: 5/10

**The soundtrack for Pixels predictably features songs that you just KNOW Sandler chose from his own collection of personal favorites. The main song featured was Cheap Trick’s Surrender:

Pete’s Dragon (2016) Review

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Directed by David Lowery

Based on Pete’s Dragon by Malcolm Marmorstein

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.

My Opinion:

I’m not going to ramble on & on with some long review of this. I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Pete’s Dragon. My 7-year-old didn’t like it all that much. My hubby pretty much hated it. I was so disappointed in him spoiling my enjoyment! 😉 Grumpy turd. Yeah, I get to go to movies with a hubby who says things in disgust like “sometimes his (Elliot’s) fur blows in the wind & sometimes it doesn’t” and “this is so hipster” and “this movie is draining” and “I haven’t felt so cold on a movie in a long time”. He’ll be annoyed when he reads this tomorrow & he’ll probably moan that I’ve misquoted him… Anyway, I feel like I must have watched a completely different film from the one my husband & daughter saw while sat next to me. I really liked it.

I’m not gonna lie – this movie is vanilla ice cream on wholesome white bread. This movie is golden retriever puppies sliding down rainbows into cotton candy clouds. I think that may be one of the hubby’s biggest problems with it. I can’t say that a film being too wholesome bothers me all that much, as long as I don’t feel like it’s preaching to me or trying to shove its values down my throat (like I felt while watching Zootopia/Zootropolis). I just thought this was a lovely family film with its heart in the right place. It doesn’t exactly cover any groundbreaking territory in terms of its lessons but it’s not preachy & I cared about the characters. What more do you want from a Disney movie?

The boy playing Pete (Oakes Fegley) was very good as was the young girl (Oona Laurence). How are kids such good actors these days? The acting from kids used to be pretty dodgy in old movies. I far preferred Bryce Dallas Howard’s character in this to the thoroughly unlikable one in Jurassic World. Her relationships with Pete and with her father (an underused Robert Redford) were believable. Sappy, yes, but you seriously want everyone to live happily ever after in this. For some reason, though, I felt like Wes Bentley & Karl Urban should have been in each other’s roles. Don’t know why, but I pictured Urban as Howard’s boyfriend for some reason.

Then, of course, there’s Elliot. I loved him. I think they did very well with his look. He’s just scary enough when need be but also believable as a gentle creature who could be a boy’s best friend. I want an Elliot! Oh, this movie was directed by David Lowery, who hasn’t directed many big films other than Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (which I reviewed HERE). These are obviously two very different films storywise but do have a similar lovely look & mood that I especially appreciated in Saints. Pete’s Dragon is luckily more of a re-imagining than an actual remake & doesn’t harm the (admittedly dated) original, which I can’t quite say of this year’s The Jungle Book. Of these two modern “remakes”, I definitely prefer Pete’s Dragon. I haven’t read other reviews of this yet so don’t know if people agree more with me or with my husband so I’d love to hear your opinions if you’ve seen the movie. I really liked it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Legend Of Billie Jean, Less Than Zero & Private School Movie Reviews

Welcome to my 80’s Quickie Movie Review Special! I’m catching up on reviewing the things I’ve watched the past couple of years and, since these three were from the same decade (the BEST decade), I’ve decided to stick them together. One is a film I saw at the time & really liked but hadn’t re-watched in years, one is a throwaway film that was exactly what I expected for its sort of genre, and one is a film I’d badly wanted to see for years & found to be a big disappointment after finally seeing it for the first time now. Here we go!

The Legend Of Billie Jean (1985)

Directed by Matthew Robbins

Starring: Helen Slater, Keith Gordon, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Yeardley Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A Texas teenager cuts her hair short and becomes an outlaw martyr with her brother and friends.

My Opinion:

I did watch this on TV several times in the 80s & I really liked it but it never became an all-time favorite like other movies from the era (even though Christian Slater, one of my big teen crushes, was in it). It was a lot of fun watching it again with the hubby several months ago, though, and it’s gone up in my estimation due partly to nostalgia and partly to being older & able to appreciate things such as the female empowerment going on (which will have gone straight over my head when I first saw this at the age of 13 or so). It reminds me a bit of the same sort of theme running through the little known 1982 Diane Lane film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains and the two would make a great double feature. Any female bloggers want to come over to my place for a movie night? We’ll watch these two. Bring lots of popcorn! No pillow fights, though – we’re not going to feed any male fantasies. They can just go watch Private School (review below). 😉

I love Helen Slater (she’s a definite girl crush) and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Billie Jean. I like the City Slickers connection with both Slater & Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) also being in that together (love that movie!). I also like that this movie has a period scene on my list of My Top Ten Period Scenes In Movies & that I get to link to that post again. Ha! There are great songs in this like Pat Benatar’s awesome Invincible (the movie’s theme song) & Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. Oh, that plot synopsis above is pretty crap so here’s a bit more if you’re curious: Basically, Slater & Slater (no relation IRL!) are a poor brother & sister in small town Texas. C. Slater’s motorbike is trashed by local hoodlums & H. Slater demands that the (rich by small-town standards) father of the main hoodlum boy pay for the repairs. After the father instead attempts to rape H. Slater, C. Slater accidentally shoots the asshole in the shoulder. The siblings & their friends then go on the run & H. Slater’s Billie Jean ends up a media sensation & heroine outlaw to all those who believe in how she stands up for what’s right. Through it all, her only demand is that her brother’s motorbike repairs be paid for by the prick responsible. It’s actually a great, simple story & I can see why it has achieved a sort of cult status.

I do really like The Legend Of Billie Jean even though it’s not one that I watched 1,582 times as a teenager. It’s a must see if you love movies from this era but somehow missed out on it. I’m not sure how a younger generation might feel about it but it has aged slightly better than some other movies from its time so it may be worth checking out if you like the sound of it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Less Than Zero (1987)

Directed by Marek Kanievska

Based on Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr.

Music by Thomas Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a college freshman returning home for Christmas to spend time with his ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz) and his friend Julian (Robert Downey, Jr.), who is also a drug addict. The film presents a look at the culture of wealthy, decadent youth in Los Angeles.

My Opinion:

I didn’t see this movie at the time as I suppose I was a little too young for it but then I just never managed to catch it on TV or anything. Anyway, it’s a movie from 1987 starring big 80’s actors so I’ve of course been wanting to see it for almost 30 years now (yikes! I’m old). I also loved the big song from this movie (a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade Of Winter by The Bangles) and I saw that video full of clips from the film so many times that it almost felt like I had seen the film. Was the movie worth the long wait? No, it wasn’t. Damn – what a disappointment. I was surprised to find it quite boring, especially as the novel is from such a controversial author. I think it was one that needed to be seen at the time as it’s not at all shocking nowadays.

The film is about rich California kids & Robert Downey Jr is a drug addict whose friends try to help him when his family give up on him. Downey Jr was fine as was McCarthy, I suppose (I never liked McCarthy – he’s so boring & bland. He’s like an American Hugh Grant). I’m a fan of Gertz mainly because of my love for The Lost Boys but she feels the most miscast of the three. None of them feel quite right in their roles, though, and the story isn’t very hard hitting for one about drug addiction. The story just kind of meanders & the sex scenes with McCarthy & Gertz felt awkward – talk about less than zero chemistry.

I’ve never read a Bret Easton Ellis book so can’t compare this movie to the novel but I don’t like the film American Psycho & what I’ve read of the book sickens me while I absolutely hated The Rules Of Attraction film & found it extremely offensive. I’m not normally easily offended (I’ll get into this a bit more with Private School) but, considering how much the author’s other adaptations have pissed me off, you’d think Less Than Zero would at least have some balls. This is probably the most tame “drug addiction” movie I’ve seen. Very disappointing. I watched this several months ago & barely even remember it now. Good soundtrack, though! I do remember appreciating that.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Private School (1983)

Directed by Noel Black

Starring: Phoebe Cates, Betsy Russell, Matthew Modine, Michael Zorek, Ray Walston, Sylvia Kristel, Kathleen Wilhoite

Music by Rick Springfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Private School is a 1983 teen oriented sex comedy film. It follows a teenage couple attempting to have sex for the first time.

My Opinion:

Being the age that I am, I saw plenty of teen sex comedies while growing up. It’s difficult to watch them nowadays without cringing. I suppose it was a very different experience to be a girl watching them in the 80s as opposed to a boy. It’ll seem strange to females nowadays but, in my day, we didn’t give teen sex comedies much thought. It’s amazing that we didn’t find them offensive & I’m happy that they’re, for the most part, a thing of the past. Private School certainly isn’t a “good” movie but, if you really love 80’s sex comedies, it’s worth a watch. It’s better than crap like Porky’s and the girls (whose boobs we see plenty, yes) are fairly decent characters instead of just feeling like victims for the horny male characters (like in movies such as Revenge Of The Nerds with its rape scene that would never be allowed in a movie nowadays. Yikes). I didn’t find Private School offensive & there’s certainly enough nudity in it for horny males everywhere so I think it gets the right sort of balance for both sexes to be able to watch it. But, of course, we get no male nudity. No surprise there!

***WARNING: SOME BOOB PICS BELOW****

Yes, we get a guy spying on the girls in the showers. But, nowadays, he’d take pictures & stick them online. 80’s sex comedies usually don’t feel sinister in the same sort of way that the few modern day films do. We also get the guys dressing up as girls & sneaking into the girls’ dorm. They’re so obviously boys, though, that the girls just have fun messing with them. Especially the below girl, who surprises everyone with a topless ride on a horse. I’m sure it was a very popular scene with young male viewers.

By the way – in looking for pics for this post, I discovered that the topless horse rider (Betsy Russell) is Jigsaw’s ex-wife in the Saw films. Speaking of movies that I find offensive, I find stuff like the Saw films far more offensive than 80’s sex comedies. Yet movies with excessive violence are more readily accepted by society while the briefest flash of a nipple starts riots (way to go, Janet Jackson!). It’s a fucked-up world. Private School is a pretty forgettable film (unless you’re a 13-year-old boy) and it sure as shit isn’t very good but at least the female characters are treated like human beings & have personalities. They’re actually stronger characters than the boys, who are quite dull.

Oh! And Kathleen Wilhoite (in the above photo with the lovely Phoebe Cates) is in this. She’s such a “hey, it’s that girl”. She’s also in Road House. God I love Road House! Road House is “good bad”. Private School is just kind of “meh bad”. I love that I got a Road House mention in here.

My Rating: 5/10

Love these songs!!! Soundtracks from the Eighties are the best. And you get clips from the movies as well. 🙂

Finding Dory (2016) Review

Finding Dory (2016)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

Music by Thomas Newman

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Finding Dory focuses on the amnesiac fish Dory, who journeys to be reunited with her parents. Along the way, she is captured and taken to a California public aquarium, from which Marlin and Nemo attempt to rescue her.

My Opinion:

I adore Pixar. Any regulars here will know that by now but, just in case someone new is reading this, I LOVE PIXAR!!! And we always have to wait a couple of months to see them in the UK. I love Pixar so much that I’ve even contemplated travelling to other countries to see Pixar movies when the UK has a much later release date. 😉 Finding Nemo just makes it into my Top Five (I did rank the Pixar movies HERE but I’d re-arrange that a bit now) and Dory is probably still close to the top of a list of my favorite Pixar characters (which I posted HERE on my very first day on this blog – I’ll update that list too!). So, yes – I was very much looking forward to spending more time with characters I love. Was it worth the extra wait? Well, it certainly wasn’t worth a trip to another country to see it early so I’m glad I didn’t do that.

Baby Dory is one of the cutest things ever but all the cuteness still isn’t enough to make up for such a weak story. I was even a little bored throughout the film (as was my kid). It breaks my heart to say that about a Pixar movie other than Cars! I enjoyed seeing Dory but Marlin & Nemo almost felt unnecessary, which sucks. I know they’ve already had their own movie but Dory was just as big of a star in Finding Nemo as Marlin & Nemo were. In this, it felt a bit like “well, we have to have Marlin & Nemo tag along as it makes no sense to not have them in the film”. They also tacked on an appearance from Crush & Squirt that I’m not exactly going to complain about as those two are AWESOME, dude, but I just walked out of Finding Dory feeling like I’d watched an inferior version of Finding Nemo. It’s the exact same story again minus the creativity & imagination involved in the first film. The characters are far weaker and there are none of the special little moments that made Finding Nemo so great.

The biggest new addition is an octopus named Hank & I know he has some fans. Hank is okay but, for me, he’ll never be a favorite. In Nemo, even the tiniest roles were fantastic. I could happily watch an entire movie set just in that tank in the dentist’s office… Gill, Bloat, Peach, Bubbles, etc – every single fish in that tank was more memorable than any of the new characters in the sequel.

I always do this – I’m far more critical of the things that I love. I suppose I just have really high standards when it comes to Pixar because they’ve made so many movies that I consider to be perfection. I did enjoy Finding Dory and, to be expected, I enjoyed it more than any other recent animated kids’ films from other studios. To compare it to something like The Secret Life Of Pets, I definitely liked it more. But when compared to other Pixar films, it would be fairly low down the list. I think I feel similar to how I now feel about Monsters University. Both sequels just can’t live up to the originals but that’s because the originals are so damn good (I just checked my review of that, though – I was way too generous with an 8/10! I guess it was my excitement at seeing Mike Wazowski again). But the Toy Story sequels are great so, I dunno… I’ve realized that part of the problem is seeing Dory upset & not the same silly, optimistic, lovably forgetful fish from the first film. She’s almost become Marlin in this film, which works well for his character but not for hers. The story & the characters all just worked together so perfectly in the first film whereas it all feels a bit too forced this time around. But, hell – it’s still Pixar and I still love Dory & it’s still a million times better than Cars. Maybe it’ll grow on me when I see it more at home. But I’m sad to say that I don’t think the kid liked it all that much so I don’t think it’ll get a lot of repeat home viewings unlike the Toy Stories & Monsters, Inc.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes – at the very end. I found it worth staying for, especially as a fan of the first film.

How About The Short Beforehand?: Piper is freaking ADORABLE. Just as adorable as baby Dory in that above picture and actually better than the Finding Dory film. It was great to see such a good Pixar short after being disappointed with things like Lava. Good job, Pixar!

Circle (2015) Review

Circle (2015)

Directed & Written by Aaron Hann & Mario Miscione

Starring: Michael Nardelli, Carter Jenkins, Lawrence Kao, Allegra Masters, Julie Benz, Mercy Malick, Lisa Pelikan, Cesar Garcia

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Fifty people wake up in a darkened room, only to find that one of them is killed every two minutes or when they attempt to leave. When they realize that they can control which person is selected to die, blocs emerge based on personal values.

My Opinion:

This movie was a pleasant surprise! Circle has stuck around on Netflix for a while & I’ve seen a couple bloggers give it okay reviews but I’ve watched too many obscure Netflix movies that bloggers have liked & I’ve ended up extremely disappointed (Blue Ruin, Housebound, etc…). So I wasn’t sure I wanted to give this one a chance as it looked like it would be yet another terrible low budget movie that was never widely released in cinemas and that hardly anyone has heard of for good reason.

Well, I’m glad I decided to watch Circle. I found the story fascinating & liked the simple way it was presented. It IS yet another obscure movie on Netflix with what appears to be a very small budget. However, the story makes it a totally worthwhile watch. In fact, I think the low budget helps this film as there’s no need for distracting special effects when you have such a strong story idea. Someone is killed every two minutes – it doesn’t get much more tense than that! FYI: this is labelled at IMDb as “Drama, Horror, Mystery”. Don’t let the “horror” thing turn you off as I really wouldn’t label it that. There’s no blood or gore whatsoever. “Psychological sci-fi thriller” would be a better description. I almost didn’t watch this partly because I thought it was more of a horror film.

I won’t lie – this movie isn’t for everyone and some will hate it. It’s my sort of thing: A strong story that gets you thinking of the morality issues involved and how you would react in a similar situation. It feels like you’re watching a play as it all takes place in the strange dark room in the above poster. Each person isn’t allowed to move from their red circle on the floor – all they can do is talk to each other & try to figure out what’s going on and how to survive. Many issues are discussed such as: race, age, career, family, lifestyle, and what makes a person “good” & worthy of being kept alive as they all soon figure out that they’re able to control who the next person to die will be. Ultimately, they realize that it’s more a case of deciding who amongst them should be allowed to survive until the end.

If you like the sound of this story, give the movie a shot. Plus, it’s really short! (1 hour 27 minutes). I didn’t realize that when I had a bit of alone time one day & put it on figuring  I’d watch half a movie. But, hey – I managed to watch the whole thing just before the family got home! (You appreciate little things like this as a parent). 😉 Just don’t expect much character development or explanations as to what’s going on. With such a short running time & the fact that they had to get through 50 characters in under an hour & a half, I think the movie did a good job with this simple yet thought-provoking concept. We get right into the action from the start & these people figure things out far faster than seems possible but it was nice to have a film move along so fast and not waste our time with anything unnecessary. The story is the star here so if you buy into that and aren’t expecting explosions, fancy special effects, or Oscar-calibre acting, you may find this as entertaining as I did. I can easily say that I wasn’t bored for one second. Now I suppose I should finally watch Coherence as it’s another obscure Netflix movie I’ve been avoiding for ages that has been praised by fellow bloggers. Hmm…

My Rating: 7.5/10

THX 1138 (1971) Blind Spot Review

THX 1138 (1971)

Directed by George Lucas

Starring: Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, Don Pedro Colley, Maggie McOmie, Ian Wolfe

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
THX 1138 stars Donald Pleasence and Robert Duvall and depicts a dystopian future in which the populace is controlled through android police officers and mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotion, including outlawed sexual desire.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank THX 1138:

6. An Education – 7/10
5. Summer Wars – 7/10
4. True Romance – 7/10
3. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
2. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

First of all, I have to point out that I’m going to be reviewing this in an odd way. I’ve unfortunately only seen the Director’s Cut of THX 1138 as it’s the only version I have. I’m a bit of a snobby purist (even little things like replacing the guns with walkie talkies in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial pisses me off) so knowing that an original, minimalist, un-fucked-with version of THX 1138 exists and that it appears not at all easy to get a copy of seriously annoys me.

So I’m reviewing & rating this movie as if I’ve seen the original version as I can see that there’s a very good dystopian sci-fi film here hiding underneath a bunch of added & completely unnecessary digital bullshit. I know it’s a weird way to do this as I haven’t even seen the original so I can’t be as annoyed as I am with the stupid changes Lucas made to the original Star Wars trilogy (WHY, George Lucas? Why?!?!?) but I’ve looked into the changes that’ve been made & seen images from the original version so I have an idea of what it was like beforehand. There’s a really good comparison between the two versions along with images HERE at movie-censorship.com if you’re interested. For example:


The first image is from the original film. Lucas seems to be a big fan of “extending hallways, etc, and adding more people”. Many of the THX 1138 changes involve making an area look much larger and to have it filled with more things & more people. Why? I honestly don’t see the point. The thing I liked most about this film was its striking imagery, especially the stark white of the majority of the scenes in the beginning of the film. It was quite beautiful in its minimalist approach & this artistic vision is undone every time a very obviously altered scene crops up. A lot of the rather drab gray shots of the factory in the beginning are also replaced with completely new shots of a large & busy factory with a sort of golden hue instead. It’s a dystopian sci-fi film – the “drab” shots of the factory made more sense! Surely George Lucas is missing the entire point of his own film by making visual changes that work against its themes?


Okay – that’s ALL I’ll say about the Director’s Cut & its changes. I promise! I now just want to talk about this movie. The sci-fi dystopian (and/or sci-fi post-apocalyptic) genre is and always will be my absolute favorite above all others, which is why I put this movie on my Blind Spot list as I felt it was a huge gap in my knowledge of these sorts of films. And I did really like it, although it’s a hard one to actually recommend to others who aren’t die hard fans of the genre. If you don’t love this genre, you’re very unlikely to enjoy this movie. I’m not going to pretend that it’s not a bit of a struggle to sit through. It’s very slow, especially in the first half. I do love the story but, yes, it’s one that has been done in loads of “dystopian future” novels & films. No, I wouldn’t say it necessarily brings anything all that new to the table in terms of its themes but you have to remember the fact that it was released in 1971 and does actually feel ahead of its time. We’re just used to movies like these now as there have been a lot of similar ones since but THX 1138 deserves more recognition than it seems to have received. Visually, I think it has dated very well (and I do mean the original version) unlike some other sci-fi films of its time and the lower budget, minimalist look really is to thank for this.

I’ll be honest & admit that this is one of those films that I appreciate but that I like the “thought” of it more than the actual film itself. It’s a lovely work of art. I’m a sucker for great imagery & would happily stick a poster of an image from this film up on the wall of my cinema room (if I was rich and actually had a cinema room… that would be cool). I have very similar feelings about several other films I’ve watched since starting this blog: The Man Who Fell To Earth, Rollerball, Under The Skin, and Daft Punk’s Electroma. These are my favorite sort of movies & I loved them all (well, Rollerball was a bit weak & didn’t age as well) but plenty of people would sadly yet understandably find these films just plain unwatchable. Yep, THX 1138 is a struggle and I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that I fell asleep the first time I attempted to watch it. But I still ultimately find this sort of movie far more rewarding than most of the crap that gets made nowadays. I’d say that they’d never allow this sort of movie to be made now but things like Under The Skin & Ex Machina (which actually IS very good & totally watchable, FYI) prove that theory wrong. I’m glad that artistic movies like these which won’t please a mainstream audience or rake in loads of blockbuster money are still sometimes given a chance. THX 1138 easily fits alongside other visionary sci-fi classics and still feels relevant 45 years later. It really didn’t need to be messed with…

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

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

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

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

The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

Directed & Written by Hal Hartley

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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


*I want a dollar bill painted above my bed now

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trust (1990)

Directed & Written by Hal Hartley

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 6/10

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

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) & For A Few Dollars More (1965) IMDB Top 250 Reviews

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 86 today! 🙂

My blog is having a Clint Eastwood Week (I reviewed Play Misty For Me yesterday). And I figured what better way to celebrate his birthday today than to review his famous Dollars Trilogy for my IMDB Top 250 Project as they’re all in the 250. Well, I already recently reviewed The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (you can see that review HERE). I didn’t realize it was the “third” in the trilogy when I watched it first but it really doesn’t matter as the stories aren’t connected (they just have the same director & composer plus the main actor playing a different character in each). It was interesting seeing their “evolution”, however, as I think each film was better than the previous one. Let’s start by talking about the first in the trilogy: A Fistful Of Dollars.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volontè, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, Joseph Egger

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

My Opinion:

I had no idea that this movie is basically the Yojimbo story by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima (but not credited at the time, apparently). That’s interesting – there are a lot of Kurosawa films in the Top 250 & I’m very eager to work my way through them as I love Seven Samurai. So far, I’ve watched Ikiru & Rashômon so I’ll make Yojimbo the next one (I’ll have a Kurosawa Week once I’ve watched them all). I really liked the story of a drifter playing two rival families off against each other so am looking forward to seeing the original & comparing them.

I get the impression that some people may slightly prefer these first two Dollars films to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. As I said above, I personally think each film got better & that the final one is the best but the first two do have much better pacing, less distracting voice dubbing, and stories that are easier to follow & that actually get right into things from the start instead of meandering along for almost three hours until reaching a fantastic finale.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is the only one I’d call a “masterpiece” but these first two are also very good in a different way & are much more straightforward in telling their stories, which some people may prefer. There’s still a fair amount of time spent on characters standing around & staring at each other but it wasn’t yet to the extreme Leone went to in Once Upon A Time In The West. No, I’m not being a smart ass because I think that film is brilliant – the opening scene honestly contains the best staring ever committed to film. Here you go – the Once Upon A Time In The West staredown!

But back to A Fistful Of Dollars… I did find this the weakest of the three, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t really connect with or care about any of the characters (other than one family with a small boy) whereas the next film had a better revenge theme going on that I found more interesting & also had a good partnership that this one lacked. There’s plenty here for dudes, though – lots of fighting (with & without guns) and the usual amount of Clint Eastwood just looking like a stud while smoking & wearing a poncho. Eastwood IS very cool in these spaghetti Westerns, whether they’re your sort of thing or not, and has a great presence that not all actors manage (but is matched by his co-star in the second film). I now have less experience with his Dirty Harry movies than his Westerns but I think the Westerns suit him better.

This film does of course have yet another great showdown (as to be expected at the end of every Leone film I’ve seen so far). To say it’s the weakest of the three (or four if I include West as well) isn’t really a bad thing as all the Leone films I’ve now seen are fantastic & I can understand why they’re so popular even though this isn’t my favorite genre so I’ll never love them to the same degree as fans.

My Rating: 7/10

For a Few Dollars More (1965) (Italian: Per qualche dollaro in più)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski, Mario Brega

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

My Opinion:

Now… For A Few Dollars More was genuinely enjoyable! Don’t get me wrong – I think these Leone films are beautiful works of art and worthy of the praise & recognition they later achieved but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t find them all a bit of a chore to sit through. Of all four I’ve seen, I’d rank this as the third best yet I’d also say it’s the most enjoyable overall in that it’s the only one that held my interest the entire time.

It’s a simple (if rather cliché) story of revenge but, hey – that’s what I want from a Western. The one seeking revenge is Lee Van Cleef’s character. And what a great character he is! It’s the only time another character felt as important as Eastwood’s (if not more) and I cared about his story. The two of them are fantastic together & have amazing chemistry onscreen. He was also the “Bad” to Eastwood’s “Good” in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but this was a much better role for him & I preferred their relationship in this.

Another thing that worked a bit better in this one than the previous film was the main baddie. He’s an evil bastard but also not quite right in the head & haunted by things in his past. He felt more developed than a lot of Western baddies. Actually, all the characters felt more well developed than usual (other than Eastwood’s but I think that’s always the whole point of his mysterious Man With No Name characters). That’s a big part of what made this film the most enjoyable – I can’t fully get into a film unless I buy into the characters & the story and this film did a good job with these elements.

Okay – I’ve not yet mentioned the Ennio Morricone score for either of these films. I don’t want to go on & on as I already raved about him in my review for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but, damn, the man is a genius. There were no specific themes that stood out for me as much as in that one but the music truly helps make all these Leone spaghetti Westerns. Without the scores, I know I wouldn’t personally rate any of these movies as highly. The score is as important to these films as is Eastwood’s character & Leone’s cinematography. They all work perfectly together & make these films far greater than they’d be with one of these three elements missing.

Well, I think I’ve said enough about these movies. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert on Westerns but the four Leone films I’ve seen really are something special & definitely have my appreciation as beautiful works of art. I do think that each movie got better & better with Once Upon A Time In The West actually being the best overall. However, I’d probably stick with The Good, The Bad And The Ugly being my favorite as I think the score as well as the final 30 minutes or so of that film easily tops all others & pushes it into the “masterpiece” category that I don’t like to use as a label too often (if you’re curious, I gave both those movies a score of 8/10). I highly recommend both of those films at the very least but, if you want to start a bit smaller, the first two Dollars films are more easily “digestible” & For A Few Dollars More is probably the best one for non-Western lovers as I think a lot of people love a basic story of revenge.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Play Misty For Me (1971) Blind Spot Review

**Welcome to Clint Eastwood Week here at Cinema Parrot Disco! I’ll be reviewing Clint Eastwood films for the rest of this week (all of which are ones I’ve only just watched for the first time this year). Happy Birthday to Mr. Eastwood, who is turning 86 tomorrow! I figured I might as well do this during the week of his birthday. Plus, I chose one of his films for my 2016 Blind Spot Series. So here’s my month of May Blind Spot review, directed by & starring Eastwood: Play Misty For Me.

Play Misty For Me (1971)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter, Donna Mills, John Larch

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A brief fling between a male disc jockey and an obsessed female fan takes a frightening, and perhaps even deadly turn when another woman enters the picture.

My Opinion:

This was one of my “alternate” Blind Spot choices (see them all HERE) but then I went & watched it right away in January as it was one that I really wanted to see the most. Here are the Blind Spot movies I’ve reviewed so far including this one (I might as well start ranking them! Counting down to my favorite…):

5. An Education – 7/10
4. Summer Wars – 7/10
3. True Romance – 7/10
2. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

So, yeah – Play Misty For Me is pretty high for me so far.

This movie is so Seventies it hurts! The clothing & the hairstyles are ridiculously ugly/awesome. I love that decade! I always have a soft spot for 70’s & 80’s movies so I may rate them a bit too highly sometimes but I did enjoy this. Fatal Attraction owes a lot to Play Misty For Me – Glenn Close must have watched this movie. I don’t know Jessica Walter but it looks like she’s been in a lot of TV shows, such as Arrested Development (which I’ve never seen). She’s a great crazy bitch in this! I didn’t know just how unhinged her character would be. I think, if you’re gonna have a psycho stalker in a movie, they should be full-on crazy. I wasn’t disappointed with the level of nuttiness!

I also have a thing for movies involving a DJ so I really liked that part of it. Although, we see Eastwood in the studio & doing his DJ thing far less than I was expecting – he was mostly at home dealing with the crazy bitch or outdoors. Part of this may have been Eastwood wanting to show off his hometown? It’s a lovely place! I’d happily live in a town like that. Thanks to the hubby for knowing this fact beforehand so I looked into it afterwards: this movie was filmed in the town Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where Eastwood has lived for many years & was elected mayor in 1986. He filmed this in local restaurants, the radio station, and friends’ homes. Oh, and in reading a bit about the town at Wikipedia, I read that they have a law prohibiting women from wearing high heel shoes without a permit. Ha! That’s weird. (Although I don’t think it’s strictly enforced)


There’s not much more that I can say about this film. It’s just a really good “stalker” movie so, if you like that genre, I’d certainly recommend this one. It’s also worth watching if you like this era & to see Eastwood’s directorial debut. So far, this is my favorite movie that he’s directed (but there are quite a few Eastwood-directed films I still haven’t seen). It’s a nice break from his cowboy thing & Dirty Harry thing – it’s a shame he didn’t do more movies like this one. Seriously, though – this is so SO Seventies! Look at these tighty whiteys!

Look at this outfit! I love those boots. Id totally wear this outfit with a different color top!

Look at the hideous hair on Donna Mills!

Love it. Good movie. One of Eastwood’s better films, actually. It should get more recognition.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) Review 

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Directed & Written by Richard Linklater

Starring: Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.

My Opinion:

I love Richard Linklater and Dazed And Confused is a favorite movie of mine. So, when I heard about this “spiritual sequel” to Dazed And Confused, I was SO excited! Screw all the superhero movies – this one was one of my most-anticipated films for the year. Does it live up to the hype (in my mind)?? Unfortunately, it’s no Dazed And Confused. It’s okay, though. It was an enjoyable afternoon watch (damn – I wanted that to sound more enthusiastic than it does…).

First off, I’ll say that this is a “Guy Movie” much more than Dazed And Confused was. And, hey – I honestly don’t have a problem with that. Stand By Me is a huge favorite of mine & the lack of female characters in that has never bothered me in the slightest – it’s a movie about young male friendships. Not every movie has to pass the Bechdel test to be good! But I suppose the boys in Stand By Me weren’t all “Pussy! PUSSY!!!! Want pussy. We want pussy. Tits. Pussy. Pussy!!!!!” for the entire duration of the movie. Okay – they didn’t say it exactly that way & not for the entire duration of this movie. But it’s not far off… But, hey, I was actually alive already in 1980 (when this is set), unlike a lot of younger bloggers. I think younger viewers may think these characters are exaggerated. Um, no. This is exactly what they were like. I think of the assholes I went to school with and it still amazes me that they found women who actually married them. Ugh. Anyway, don’t worry – not all the male characters are assholes. Linklater has given us a wide range of personalities just like in Dazed And Confused, so you’ll have your favorites & least favorites. The focus of this movie are these male baseball players so it’s fine that the female characters take a backseat. I just preferred Dazed And Confused feeling a bit more balanced in giving us more female characters (most of which were more than just “pussy” – we only get one girl like that in this one).


Look! It’s “the girl”!

Okay – that was my one main complaint that I had to get out of the way. I think it was also sort of a warning to younger bloggers. I honestly don’t think you’ll like this movie if you’re from a younger generation. Sorry – this movie wasn’t made for you anyway (which is fine – most are so it’s nice to have some films made for us old folks). 😉 You won’t have the same sense of nostalgia (thank you for once again giving us a great soundtrack, Mr. Linklater!) and you won’t be able to relate to these characters (or at least understand them since you knew so many guys like them).

My second complaint is that this didn’t feel as “natural” as Dazed And Confused. It felt a little too forced at times. I did appreciate how, through going to several different parties, Linklater shows us several different types of people in 1980 America. The jocks, the stoners, the punks, the disco fans, the drama majors, even the stereotypical country bumpkins. Which was fun! But, like I said, also a bit forced. I suppose it doesn’t help that Dazed And Confused exists so everyone is going to compare the two. Would I like this one more if that one didn’t exist? Yes, I think I most definitely would. The problem is that we’ve seen this movie before but done better.

Okay – I want to round this up by sounding more positive. Because I did like this. If Linklater makes another “spiritual sequel”, I’ll most definitely be watching it! This is an era I love and I’ll always have an affection for movies set in this time period (or, even better, actually made in this time period). To hear the music and see the clothing and the hairstyles and the record players and the cool album covers (actual albums! that you can hold in your hands!!) makes me smile. Oh how I miss that time! I’d go back there if I could (yes – even though the guys could be horribly sexist). At one point the hubby said “do you think younger people watching this will think it’s odd that all these characters are actually talking to each other?”. Yes, I sit here now typing this on my phone. I love my phone. I love technology. But I’d give this shit up in a heartbeat to go back to a simpler time and have proper conversations with people.

My favorite scene was probably when a few of the guys were sitting around (smoking weed, of course) and just chatting about music & The Twilight Zone. One dude was very proud of his big collection of Twilight Zone episodes that he’d videotaped (and labelled with all the episode titles!). I recognized the titles and, when they talked about one specific episode, I turned to hubby & said “Eye Of The Beholder“. In my defense, they chose one of the most well known episodes. But, yeah – I had a very similar Twilight Zone video collection & that character clearly would’ve been my boyfriend out of all the guys in this. And, luckily, he wasn’t totally sexist! Too bad he was a stoner… 😉

As a final note, the hubby & I kept noticing that these relatively unknown actors all seriously looked like existing actors. The hubby thinks that Linklater probably had existing people in mind then hired lookalikes. What do you all think? The main guy is SO Matt Dillon (also a bit like Jason London in Dazed And Confused). And the girl so eerily looks like Lea Thompson. There are a couple that have a total Matthew McConaughey vibe while the hubby swears that one guy is way too Jeremy Piven-like. Oh, and one guy really reminded me of Billy Crudup in Almost Famous (I didn’t realize until afterwards that he was the hot guy in the Teen Wolf TV show. Anyone watch that?? I gave up after season one). 

Anyway – time for me to shut up since I’m just rambling now. I enjoyed this but didn’t love it. Maybe it’ll grow on me. It did give me warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings, though, which is what I was hoping for. 

My Rating: 7.5/10


Look! It’s “the girl” again! 😉

I have to end this with a song as Richard Linklater so carefully chooses the music for his films and he once again has a great soundtrack. I know I should post Van Halen’s title tune but it’s not my favorite. I’m also mostly into rock but, if I’m honest, the below song is probably my favorite from the film. Here’s Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) by Parliament:

**Oh! I meant to add that there’s hardly any baseball in this movie about baseball players. Thank f*^k! But it’s inspired me to maybe do My Top Ten Baseball Scenes In Movies (from a hater of sports). 🙂

Sunset Boulevard (1950) IMDB Top 250 Review

I’m back with one of my own IMDB Top 250 reviews! Let’s have a look at Sunset Blvd… 🙂

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Directed by Billy Wilder

Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough

IMDB Rank: 51 out of 250

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars William Holden as Joe Gillis, an unsuccessful screenwriter, and Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, a faded silent movie star who draws him into her fantasy world where she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen.

My Opinion:

At least I watched this Top 250 movie slightly more recently than the last one I reviewed (Warrior). I watched this on the 7th of November, 2015. I’m catching up! Unlike Warrior, this is an all-time classic that deserves its place in the IMDB Top 250. Although it’s not very “me” or one I’ll ever consider a favorite at this point, it’s easy to see why it’s so appreciated by true film lovers given its themes and its exploration of the movie industry & stardom. Plus the story of a faded starlet, a woman who has aged, is sadly still just as relevant of an issue nowadays. But things are improving somewhat, I think. We’ll get there one of these days, ladies! Let’s do this! Equal rights!! Do I sound like Patricia Arquette? I hope so! She’s great. 🙂

First of all… Wow – I had no idea how much American Beauty owes to this film. Damn – American Beauty has just gone down slightly in my estimation. But Kevin Spacey is still great! I’m sure he’s a William Holden fan.

I really need to watch more older films like this one. I’m not sure why I find that so difficult – I started this project as a way to “force” myself to watch the old classics I’ve never seen. Therefore, the names in this don’t have as much meaning to me as they should. Look at this impressive list from Wikipedia:

The film stars William Holden and Gloria Swanson with Erich von Stroheim as Max Von Mayerling, her devoted servant. Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough and Jack Webb play supporting roles. Director Cecil B. DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper play themselves, and the film includes cameo appearances by leading silent film actors Buster Keaton, H. B. Warner and Anna Q. Nilsson.

I should know more of those people but I only instantly recognized a couple of names. William Holden was in plenty of films but I never really noticed him until I watched The Bridge On The River Kwai for this project (which I loved – it’s one of my favorite “new discoveries”). I really enjoyed his performance in this.

I knew that Gloria Swanson was a star long before this film, which is why she was chosen for this, but this is certainly the only thing I’ve seen her in. Wow – she really is fantastic! I’m shocked that she didn’t win an Oscar for this. She was of course nominated but I just assumed she’d won. She was robbed!

If you’d asked me to name Cecil B. DeMille’s work before I looked him up just now, I’d have only been able to say The Ten Commandments. I’ve never seen any of his films. I’m so ashamed! I’m a sorry excuse for a movie blogger. I know of his name just as much from the extremely well-known “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” line in this (as do most people – it’s one of the all-time greatest movie quotes). And I love now knowing that the man playing Swanson’s butler in this movie used to direct her in real life. I didn’t know that either until I read this in IMDB trivia:

There are several references to Gloria Swanson’s actual career in the film. Norma’s butler, Max, who used to be one of her directors is played by Erich von Stroheim, who directed Swanson in the movie Queen Kelly, clips from which are used in the scene where Norma and Joe watch one of her old films. Norma goes to visit Cecile B DeMille, several of whose films she had starred in. Swanson had also starred in several DeMille films.

Summary:

Sunset Boulevard is a true classic. It’s very “clever” & well-written, but I think that’s a given since it’s a Billy Wilder film. It’s very self-referential and the way it satirizes the movie industry was apparently quite controversial at the time and makes this movie seem very ahead of its time. So many films are similar to Sunset Boulevard nowadays – it reminded me of things like the Coen Brothers films in the way those are written & of course the whole of Robert Altman’s The Player. It clearly has had a huge impact on many filmmakers and I’m glad I finally watched it. I can now say that I’ve seen four Billy Wilder films (Sunset Blvd, The Apartment, Witness For The Prosecution & Double Indemnity – yay, me!). Although I’d have to say that I didn’t love this one in the same way that I did The Apartment, this one is probably the best “film“. Sunset Boulevard is a movie that every true film lover should watch at least once, especially for Swanson’s performance. It deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it. Hey, as I always say: I rate these movies based on my own personal enjoyment. I enjoyed The Apartment more but there’s no denying Sunset Boulevard’s brilliance.

My Rating: 7.5/10

FYI – If anyone wants to do a guest Top 250 review, these are the films still available:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Graduate 1967
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
Gone with the Wind 1939 (dbmoviesblog)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

Predestination (2014) Review

Predestination (2014)

Directed by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig

Based on ‘—All You Zombies—’ by Robert A. Heinlein

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

My Opinion:

Of all the mindfuck time travel movies, this is one of the mindfuckiest. And I love a good mindfuck time travel movie so this was exactly my sort of thing! I’ll discuss it a little but promise to remain entirely spoiler-free.

I absolutely love sci-fi above all other genres when it comes to movies but I’ve read very little of it. I figure it’s all way too over my head, especially the ones involving complicated time travel. Therefore, I’ve not read ‘—All You Zombies—’, the Robert A. Heinlein short story that this movie is based on (or anything by Robert A. Heinlein for that matter). But it’s a great story! Bizarre & a bit mental but thoroughly entertaining. I’d love to actually read it now. From what I read about this movie afterwards, as it’s one of those where you immediately go online for some explanations, it’s very faithful to the story so Heinlein fans seem happy with it. From what I can tell, one element has been added which was probably to make it a little more “exciting” for a movie audience? But I don’t think it was a necessary addition as the main story is strong enough. I need to track down the actual short story now…

As I said, I’m going to remain spoiler-free but that will make this a very short review. I believe this movie is one where it’s best to know nothing about it beforehand in order to get the most enjoyment from it. However, I’m going to include the trailer at the end for anyone who needs further convincing to check this one out. Which makes no sense as I just said you should know as little as possible… 😉 Basically, only watch the trailer if you’re mildly interested but skip it if you already know that this sounds like your sort of movie.

The Spierig Brothers have made very few other films but I’d be interested in seeing them make more based on how they handled this one. The only other movie of theirs that I’ve seen in Daybreakers (they clearly like Ethan Hawke). I really liked Daybreakers but I don’t think it was hugely successful. I have to say Predestination is a lot better, though, so I don’t know why it seems to have gone fairly unnoticed. The movie it most seems to get compared to is Looper but I think it’s a stronger story with much better performances (especially from Sarah Snook, who I’ll talk about in a minute). I wouldn’t say the two are very similar other than that they’re both about time travel & have a similar sort of mood. Otherwise, Looper is more of an action movie whereas Predestination is an introspective film that’s more about the characters than about trying to capture a criminal (making the above plot synopsis a bit misleading). You could be disappointed if you expect a lot of action from this one: Predestination is somewhere between Looper & Primer. However, I think I understand Predestination after reading explanations of parts of it online & I think I could follow the timeline if I watch it again whereas Primer will never, ever make any sense to me whatsoever (I attempted to review Primer HERE).

Summary:

Will someone please watch this & discuss it with me?? My hubby fell asleep ten minutes into it! (He was tired…). I really enjoyed it but there’s one bit that’s all “Whoa… Whaaaat?!?!?” so I’m not sure if everyone could move past that bit & fully appreciate the film. If you can, you’ll be treated to one heck of a bizarre story. You’ll also experience a truly fantastic performance from Sarah Snook. Why hasn’t she been in more films?! I don’t know her at all. All I’ve seen her in is a small role in Steve Jobs. Hawke is also very good in this (I love him but don’t always think he’s the best actor) but Snook is the one who truly makes this movie. Without her intense performance, I think the story would be harder to accept.

As for time travel accuracy, I’m no expert so can’t say how “possible” this story is but those who know more about that sort of thing have written about this movie (and short story) so there are plenty of more well-informed scientific opinions you can find online. I learned all about a specific time travel paradox that I won’t name as it might give too much away to any sci-fi people but, once you’ve watched this movie, HERE is a good link I found at astronomytrek.com when I Googled “Predestination explanation“. Obviously, don’t click that link unless you’ve seen the movie! And don’t watch the below trailer if you now desperately want to see this based on my amazingly worded review. Stay in the dark unless you’re one of those who must feel all your Christmas presents.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Turbo Kid & Space Station 76 Movie Reviews

I figured I’d review these two movies together as they’re both (spoofs of? homages to?) a couple of very specific genres that I love. And I really enjoyed them both! But neither manages to quite capture the spirit of the films they’re emulating, although I appreciate their effort. Let’s discuss… 🙂

Turbo Kid (2015)

Directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell

Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows the adventures of The Kid, a teenage boy turned superhero in the “Wastelands”, an alternate 1997 Earth where water is scarce. He teams up with a mysterious girl, Apple, to stop the tyrannical leader Zeus.

My Opinion:

An 80’s-style post-apocalyptic film set in an alternate sci-fi 1997?! And starring Michael Ironside, my favorite low-budget Jack Nicholson?!! Holy shit – sign me the hell up! I actually knew nothing about this movie until reading Digital Shortbread Tom’s great review (HERE). So, when it finally appeared on UK Netflix a couple of weeks ago, I watched it immediately. It’s a lot of fun! It’s flawed but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was hoping to love it but I appreciate the effort they put into the film.

There’s Michael Ironside hamming it up perfectly as the main baddie! And check out this other baddie, who looks like some fucked-up mash-up of Jason Voorhees & a Quiet Riot album cover.

This was out ages ago in America but if you’re in the UK & don’t know anything about it, be warned that it’s mega violent. Funny, very fake violence. Lots of people exploding & blood splattering everywhere. The type of OTT fake gore that I can actually handle – I’m a wuss about realistic violence in movies but it’s played for laughs in this one. In fact, I have to give the writers credit on some extremely inventive kills here, such as one involving a bike & a rather lovely one involving an umbrella. They’re almost up there with the marionette death in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (but not quite – nothing beats that one).

As every review of this states, this movie is Mad Max on bikes instead of in cars. That alone was enough to sell it to me. Seeing all the images from the film helped as well and I think they did a decent job making things look good on (what appears to be but maybe it’s meant to appear to be??) a very low budget. The gory special effects had the great fake 80’s look they were going for but, more than anything, I just really liked the design of the characters and their crazy mix of 80’s-post-apocalyptic-inspired costumes. And look how cool our two main heroes look! I’d dress like Apple if I was a teenager & into cosplay instead of a boring old woman working in an office. Mainly, I just BADLY want my own gnome stick! 

Speaking of Apple, I was afraid she’d be waaaay too annoying at first but I have to say they managed to turn that around & I ended up liking her by the end. So bear with her if you watch this – she’s meant to be annoying but she ends up rather endearing. And I thought that Munro Chambers, who plays Turbo Kid, was really good! I wonder if this role will get him noticed – it looks like he hasn’t been in much besides TV stuff like Degrassi: The Next Generation. Ha! I remember when they made us watch Degrassi Junior High early on in high school because it dealt with issues such as pregnancy & the teachers didn’t want us to get knocked up, I guess. Or to have to teach a class instead of sticking us in front of a TV…

This will be one of those reviews where I say loads of great things then confuse people by giving it an average rating. I can’t quite put my finger on it but, overall, this film doesn’t quite work. It maybe tries a little bit too hard? Like I said to the hubby, it often feels like current movies like these are being made by people who love 80’s films but are too young to have actually lived through that whole decade (I can’t find info on the directors’ ages). I have to say that Space Station 76 actually got things more “right” in terms of re-creating a mood from a specific era although Turbo Kid is the more entertaining film of the two. I do respect what they’ve done with this movie, though, as it feels like a movie where those making it have really put their heart into the project. I’d certainly be interested in watching anything else this group of people will hopefully make in the future. Turbo Kid 2? I’d definitely check that out if it happened. I mean, don’t a lot of people prefer the second Mad Max film to the first one? Maybe Turbo Kid 2 would be perfect.

My Rating: 7/10

Space Station 76 (2014)

Directed by Jack Plotnick

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, Marisa Coughlan, Kylie Rogers, Kali Rocha, Jerry O’Connell, Keir Dullea

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A 1970s version of the future, where personalities and asteroids collide.

My Opinion:

A dark comedy in the style of a 1970’s sci-fi film?! Plus Keir Dullea, Todd Rundgren, and a hot guy (Matt Bomer)?!? Sign me the hell up! I’m obsessed with 80’s movies & with post-apocalyptic movies just like the makers of Turbo Kid clearly are but nothing beats good ‘ol 70’s sci-fi for me and I absolutely loved the way they captured the look of those films for this. However, I’m going to put this disclaimer in right now: I am not recommending this movie to anyone. Watch it at your own risk & don’t come moaning to me if you hate it. Got it? Because most of you would hate this movie. I almost steered clear when I saw its IMDB score of 4.9/10. Yikes! That’s the kind of rating for the movies Eric watches! But I’m glad I decided to watch it anyway & make my own mind up. Because I really liked it.

I’d say that labelling this a “comedy”, dark or not, was maybe a bit of a mistake as a lot of people were probably expecting something very different. This movie is quite depressing at times, as each character is suffering from a different kind of lonliness and a longing to be loved or, at the very least, accepted. I read that the director thought of the space station in the film as a suburb, which perfectly describes how the movie feels. A groovy 70’s suburb! Far out, man. The closest I can come to describing this movie is to say it’s Dynasty in space. But more Seventies than Eighties… (Hubby disagrees with me & says it’s “Space: 1999, the Richard Linklater edition” but I never saw Space: 1999 so can’t make that comparison)

We don’t know what year this movie is set in (and don’t need to) but it’s meant to look & feel like the 1970s in the same way so many sci-fi films made during that decade still looked totally Seventies because of the clothing & the decor despite being set in the future & in space . What I really liked were all the movie’s subtle little touches & anachronisms. They’re on a fancy space station complete with cool gadgets such as therapy robots yet they use videotapes labelled with those awesome label maker labels. Remember those?! You’re all too young. We had one like the one below. I want one again! I also want a therapy robot…


The characters are also stuck in the past: the men are male chauvinists, especially the male captain (Patrick Wilson) who is a closet homosexual & treats his new female co-captain (Liv Tyler) horribly as he feels threatened by her. The women are self-absorbed & catty and, of course, everyone smokes constantly. But it works well as everyone is a sympathetic character in their own way. Well, except for the mother of the young girl – I wanted to punch that woman… The characters played by Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, and the young girl playing Bomer’s daughter (Kylie Rogers) make up for the less likeable characters, though. I have to say that I’ve never noticed Bomer before & that I only knew him from that shitty Magic Mike movie but he’s absolutely adorable in this. It helps that he’s the only male character who isn’t a pig (although he does like to listen to Todd Rundgren while fantasizing about a naked Playboy model played by Anna Sophia Berglund. There – I’ve named her so that should get me some pervy Google views. But I won’t post the full frontal nude images from the movie. Sorry, boys!).

This movie is hard to describe & I can understand the low ratings but those will mainly be due to it being watched by the wrong people. I hate when people say “you just don’t understand it” when talking about a movie as I think that sounds snobby as hell but, well… I think that’s the case with this movie. If you don’t love the Seventies and/or sci-fi films from that decade, I really can’t see you appreciating this one at all.

I have to say that, although Turbo Kid is fun and the one that I’d recommend, I actually think Space Station 76 did a better job of portraying a specific era & genre and I actually have more respect for this one. If I’m honest, I preferred it to Turbo Kid. It’s surprisingly sad at times & I found the stories involving Liv Tyler & the young girl especially heartbreaking. I’m not sure I was happy with the way the movie ended as we don’t get much of a resolution. However, I’ve never seen anything quite like this film and I like that. It’s different. They took a gamble with this movie and it certainly won’t work for everyone but I found it very unique and have thought about it a lot since seeing it. I’m glad I ignored the IMDB rating.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Not gonna lie – I’m old & uncool so I loved the use of all the Todd Rundgren songs Space Station 76. I’m sure it was easy to get the rights with the Liv Tyler connection as he was her step-dad… Anyway, at least Daft Punk agree with me that Rundgren is cool! International Feel is used in this film and, as I said in my review of Daft Punk’s Electroma, they also prominently featured the song so I’m going to share that clip from Electroma (in Space Station 76, it plays while Bomer fantasizes about the naked Playboy model):

And, of course, they use Hello It’s Me – one of Rundgren’s most well-known songs: