Starring: Melanie Griffith, Jeff Daniels, Ray Liotta, Margaret Colin, Tracey Walter, John Waters
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A free-spirited woman “kidnaps” a yuppie for a weekend of adventure. But the fun quickly takes a dangerous turn when her ex-convict husband shows up.
Really enjoyed this. Having grown up in the ‘80s, I’m very fond of the VHS covers I’d see when renting movies. There are still quite a few I remember very well that I never got around to actually seeing (this being one of them, as well as After Hours which I’ve wanted to see for all these years & still haven’t). I always love an ‘80s New York setting & the scenes in the city didn’t disappoint. At first I was a bit annoyed with Melanie Griffith’s “Manic Pixie Dream Girl Before The Phrase Existed” character but she grew on me a lot. And I really liked Jeff Daniels in this – he’s an underrated actor.
The film was fun as we watched Griffith & Daniels on their crazy day out but it really picked up with the appearance of Ray Liotta as Griffith’s menacing ex. Liotta really could play unhinged characters perfectly & he’s absolutely brilliant in this film. Loved him in this. It’s an odd film & I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first. But when it finished, I think I kind of loved it. And it’s so ‘80s, which is always a hit with me. Likely not a film for everyone these days but one that I’m sure is a favorite of some Gen Xers around my age.
I need to stop wasting my time on all the current releases just to keep up with Film Twitter, etc, when I far prefer older films like this. Especially from directors such as Jonathan Demme. After watching this, I decided to keep up the trend by watching two other older films I’d not yet seen from Cronenberg & De Palma as I like their work (Naked Lunch & Dressed To Kill). Definitely liked Something Wild the most but all three were far more rewarding than any of the 2023 releases I’ve seen so far this year.
Oh, just need to add that I’m terrible at remembering movie character names so tend to use the names of the actors when talking about a movie. But I know Daniels was named Charlie in this because, fucking hell, Griffith says “Charlie” A LOT…
Starring: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw, Wolfgang Hübsch, Annika Meier, Falilou Seck, Jürgen Tarrach, Henriette Richter-Röhl, Monika Oschek
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) In order to obtain research funds for her studies, a scientist accepts an offer to participate in an extraordinary experiment: for three weeks, she is to live with a humanoid robot, created to make her happy.
Always love sci-fi films exploring AI & its dangers & what it means to be human. I’ll always watch this subgenre although it’s been done so much that the ideas have pretty much all been explored in previous films already.
I’d say this one brings something fairly new to the table, though, in really focusing on if we could have a truly meaningful relationship with a robot specifically built to be our ideal mate in every way. It’s certainly something to think about. So I could have a Chris Hemsworth-looking robot that pretends to be madly in love with me & caters to my every need?! Hmm. Several years ago I’d have gone “No thanks!” (I’ve seen The Terminator way too many times) but the human race is pissing me off so damn much lately that I’m thinking, you know, “Mayyyyyybe?”…
My Rating: 7.5/10
20th Century Girl (2022) (Korean: 20세기소녀)
Directed & Written by Bang Woo-ri
Starring: Kim Yoo-jung, Byeon Woo-seok, Park Jung-woo, Roh Yoon-seo
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) A South Korean film that depicts the friendship and freshness of first love against the backdrop of 1999.
My daughter really likes this South Korean romance drama & has watched it several times. Was so happy when she actually asked me to watch it with her! If you like overly dramatic teen romances, this one is well worth a watch. Very likeable characters & a good story. Will be shocked if they don’t do an annoyingly pointless American remake. If they do, watch the original instead.
But, man – these teens really need to learn how to communicate. Would have stopped so many misunderstandings in this. And those girls were soooo dramatic. That was cute, though. It’s a sweet film.
My Rating: 7/10
John And The Hole (2021)
Directed by Pascual Sisto
Based on El Pozo by Nicolás Giacobone
Starring: Charlie Shotwell, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle, Taissa Farmiga
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film revolves around a boy who discovers an unfinished bunker in the neighboring woods of his home.
Was intrigued despite the bad reviews as I wanted to know why a boy stuck his family down a hole. Unfortunately, when the film ended, I still wanted to know why a boy stuck his family down a hole.
Didn’t hate this movie, though, and still liked the idea. Just don’t go into it expecting an explanation. Do wonder if it has a deeper meaning that I missed. And I think it may be trying to say something about how much it sucks to be an adult? But it also might just be a movie about a boy who stuck his family down a hole.
My last two April reviews are two interesting horror films from last year. One of them is very much my type of thing which I didn’t love at first but has gone way up in my estimation since seeing it. I can’t quite decide how I feel about the other one but I know I’d never watch it again.
Directed & Written by Andrew Semans
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper, Tim Roth
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot follows Margaret (Hall) as she tries to maintain control of her life when an abusive ex-boyfriend (Roth) re-appears in her vicinity.
Initially gave this a lower rating but have upped it after giving the film some more thought. At first saw it as simply a story of trauma from an abusive relationship, which it is, but then saw it as being just as much about motherhood & all the fears that come with that and I could then relate even more to Rebecca Hall’s character. Would’ve made a good double feature with Men and am sure this one is just as divisive as both indeed get pretty damn weird (which I appreciate). I preferred this one being more than just “all men are evil”, though, and Hall gives a great performance. Hate to use the word but Men also got a little too pretentious whereas this one for the most part stayed just the right side of that line. I feel it’s one that could go up in my estimation the more I think about it (as it already has).
I admit I do like a film that I have to look up afterwards to try to figure out what it’s meant to mean & love when there can be different interpretations. As I said, for me I could relate to the fears about motherhood & wanting to protect your child & how hard it is to let them go when they reach adulthood themselves. Others will get different things from this movie and I think there can be plenty of discussion on what’s real & what’s maybe not in this story. It’s definitely a like it or absolutely hate it film and I appreciate that it’s one I’m going to be thinking about for a while.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Piggy (2022) (Spanish: Cerdita)
Directed by Carlota Pereda
Based on Piggy (short film) by Carlota Pereda
Starring: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Claudia Salas, Pilar Castro
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) An overweight teen is bullied by a clique of cool girls poolside while holidaying in her village. The long walk home will change the rest of her life.
Not sure how I feel about this movie. I can’t stand bullies so hated seeing this girl being tormented. Even though high school was a very very long time ago for me and I was never the victim of any severe bullying as one of the invisible “not popular but not unpopular” people, I still remember every single seemingly insignificant cruel thing from classmates & “friends” to this day. That teenage bullshit stays with you forever. And this character is humiliated, which is hard to watch. I’m so thankful that in my day social media didn’t exist, at least. I can’t imagine being a teenager nowadays.
So, yes, I didn’t feel any sympathy for the “mean girls” other than a little bit for the blonde one who clearly went along with things due to peer pressure. Being “in the middle”, I’m sure I didn’t always stand up for people when I could have as a teen (although I do remember speaking out sometimes). It’s very hard to do that at that age. Just not sure how I wanted this story to go or to end. And the main girl did some really stupid things, which was a little frustrating as I wanted to be fully on her side. I don’t know. I think I wanted the end to go the other way but that may not have been best for her character.
The one thing I do like about this movie is that it will have you questioning if you’d have done the same thing in her situation. I know we all like to think we’d do the right thing but you can certainly see why this character would hesitate to help after what they’ve put her through for presumably years. So I liked that moral dilemma but not sure I liked how that idea was executed in this film or how much bullying we had to watch this girl endure.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Follows Allison, whose life falls apart following her involvement in a fatal accident.
I really liked this despite being very sick of Florence Pugh. I’d say it’s my favorite straight-to-streaming film so far this year. Yes it’s a bit too over-the-top on drama but I liked the characters, especially Morgan Freeman’s character (always love him) and the granddaughter. Felt heartbroken for them. Unfortunately, Pugh’s character was the least sympathetic but she did well enough in the role. Her singing was annoying & so “Zach Braff trying to make girl seem cool”. Really liked why Freeman’s character did the model train stuff, though. It’s not a perfect film and is too tidy & predictable at the end but the characters & story worked for me. Things like this do happen & it’s hard to imagine how those involved are able to move on with their lives.
Man I love Freeman’s voice. (But don’t we all?)
My Rating: 7.5/10
Directed by Alexis Jacknow
Starring: Dianna Agron, Jay Ali, Melora Hardin, Saul Rubinek
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) This film by writer/director Alexis Jacknow will follow a woman’s desperate attempt to fix her broken biological clock.
Well, I have a new last place of the 2023 U.K. releases I’ve seen so far. I liked the idea of this, as society puts too much pressure on women to become mothers. But it didn’t really explore that and just ended up being a dumb film & a dull horror. Not the first time a decent poster fooled me into watching a bad movie! And it won’t be the last…
My Rating: 4.5/10
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Directed by James Cameron
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Earl Boen, Joe Morton
Music by Brad Fiedel
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) In the film, the malevolent artificial intelligence Skynet sends a Terminator—a highly advanced killing machine—back in time to 1995 to kill the future leader of the human resistance John Connor, when he is a child. The resistance sends back a less-advanced, reprogrammed Terminator to protect Connor and ensure the future of humanity.
Absolute classic. Enjoying introducing my teen to my favorites from my own teen years. I remember this film blowing my mind when I went to it in high school & how massively popular it was (and how I loved seeing it spoofed in my next big movie obsession Wayne’s World). I watched this so many times back then but hadn’t watched it in probably almost 20 years. Still adore it. Have to admit that I saw this before seeing The Terminator but this of course made me watch that one and I loved it even more (I’m in the “The Terminator is better than T2” camp but they’re both amazing).
Sarah Connor kicked ass, Arnold Schwarzenegger ruled these sort of movies and I miss sci-fi action films being this damn good, the scene with Aliens woman, the man & the milk carton is still an all-time favorite of mine, Guns N’ Roses used to be cool believe it or not, and I’m to this day still weirdly upset over Miles Dyson. I really need to give James Cameron more credit as he’s clearly the reason I fell in love with sci-fi action films thanks to T1 & T2 but especially thanks to Aliens, which is possibly my absolute favorite movie ever if you forced me to only choose one film.
Posting the last of my March movie reviews. Figured I might as well stick these in a separate post before my monthly roundup since I’ve already reviewed all the rest of the movies that I watched in March. Had never seen The Beatles movie but Ghost was obviously a rewatch…
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Directed by Richard Lester
Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Wilfrid Brambell
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film portrays 36 hours in the lives of the group as they prepare for a television performance.
I’m a huge music fan & absolutely love The Beatles. Easily one of my top five bands & they probably have the largest number of songs I love by just one group. But I’ve never been one to obsess over band members themselves & had only watched Yellow Submarine (love it) and Peter Jackson’s Get Back (fantastic).
This was a lot of fun, although I was worried at first as it gets off to a rocky start and oh boy that was quite the acting (but, yeah, who cares – they’re musicians & this was clearly for their fans). So it took some getting used to but the movie won me over by the end. And the great music obviously helped. I loved how much goofy fun John Lennon was having and Ringo Starr’s storyline was the best and his so-bad-it’s-good acting ended up being one of my favorite things about this. I want to watch everything else they did now. They seemed to be having a blast making this (just like Foo Fighters in Studio 666).
And not that anyone asked, but here’s my Beatles Top Ten 🙂
10. TIE: Happiness Is A Warm Gun & Carry That Weight
9. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
8. I Am The Walrus
7. Helter Skelter
6. A Day In The Life
5. In My Life
4. Dear Prudence
3. Across The Universe
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
1. Eleanor Rigby
My Rating: 7.5/10
Directed by Jerry Zucker
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot centers on Sam Wheat (Swayze), a murdered banker, whose ghost sets out to save his girlfriend, Molly Jensen (Moore), from the person who killed him – through the help of the psychic Oda Mae Brown (Goldberg).
Had the urge to rewatch this one as I liked it a lot when it came out in high school & I have fond memories of seeing it on a double date. I think it holds up well & that Whoopi Goldberg is just fantastic in it. Am so glad she won the Oscar for this – they really don’t like to reward comedic roles very often. And I’d forgotten just how much Demi Moore cries in the movie. If there was an Academy Award just for crying she’d have definitely been nominated that year too.
Still like the story in this movie a lot, the romance is good if you like that kind of thing, the baddie is oh so hateful, and Whoopi adds perfect comedic relief. They just don’t make such all-around entertaining films like this anymore. I feel like there’s something that most everyone could find to like in this film, whether you like romance, mystery, comedy, or the supernatural. But its rating seems a bit low so what do I know? And, like it or not, the pottery scene is a classic. You know a scene is iconic when there are loads of parodies (and when it gets referenced in Community). A very entertaining film. Wish we could have more like this one again.
Four quickies today! One movie I thoroughly enjoyed, one I found disappointing, one full of the most annoying & hateful twats imaginable, and one that was sadly not very good despite the poster & plot synopsis sounding intriguing.
Directed by Scott Mann
Starring: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Mason Gooding, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Darrell Dennis
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film is about two women who climb a 2,000 foot (610 m) tall radio tower and become stranded at the top. Dumb bitches! (that dumb bitches part isn’t via Wikipedia – that’s via Me)
This was so dumb and so cheesy and so predictable and I enjoyed it so much more than the vast majority of films I’ve watched in the past year. It was exactly what I was expecting & wanting and you can guarantee I’ll watch the sequel just announced. I have an intense fear of heights so knew I wouldn’t be watching this in the cinema but that I’d watch it on a little screen the second it showed up on services. I do love “how the hell are they gonna get out of this crazy predicament” films. Is there a name for this genre of film?! We need more of them. I want more. Any recommendations for similar films? I’ll watch them all!
Oh. And I just wanted to add that I LOVE Converse & have had a pair in most every color but I fell on my ass on some slightly slippery cobblestones once because Converse are slippery as fuck. Are they really the shoe of choice for expert climbers?! I’m guessing not. But what do I know? Other than the fact that climbing up a tower like this is probably not a good idea, of course.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (I enjoyed this so much I was tempted to give it an 8/10 but it’s not a “good” enough film for an 8)
The Black Phone (2021)
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Based on “The Black Phone” by Joe Hill
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, James Ransone
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) In the film, an abducted teenager (Thames) uses a mysterious telephone to communicate with the previous victims of his deranged captor (Hawke).
Been desperate to see this as I’m a big fan of Joe Hill (and his father Stephen King, of course). Was disappointed with this film. While there were some things I really appreciated, such as the great performances from the two main child stars (Mason Thames & Madeleine McGraw – will be on the lookout for them in future projects), the film was just too slow & quite dull considering I thought it was a simple yet brilliant story. It was too obvious that it was a short story stretched into a film. Thought Ethan Hawke was effectively creepy & liked the mask.
The film just didn’t quite work and I can’t figure out exactly why as there are some great elements to it plus I always love a ‘70s or ‘80s setting. As I like the story a lot & was impressed by the performances it was certainly worth the watch. My expectations were maybe just too high as I was hoping to love this.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Directed by Halina Reijn
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace, Pete Davidson
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) When a group of rich 20-somethings plan a hurricane party at a remote family mansion, a party game turns deadly in this fresh and funny look at backstabbing, fake friends, and one party gone very, very wrong.
Mixed feelings on this. Admit I expected to hate it as I’d heard that the characters were hateful (and, my god, they sure as shit are) and I can’t stand movies filled with nothing but annoying assholes. But that sometimes works for horror as we get to see the fuckers die, right?
I did hate this at first but it kind of grew on me as the death toll mounted and I did really like how it ended. Plus I like shit that glows in the dark. So I initially gave this half a point more but then changed it back after thinking about the movie a bit more. Because, I’m sorry, these assholes were just far too annoying. There’s not a chance in hell that I’d ever sit through this movie a second time. Entertaining enough for a one-off watch, though, and as I said I appreciated its ending. And I did think Maria Bakalova was pretty good. I’ve just come to the conclusion that I’m finally too old for this shit.
My Rating: 6/10
Come True (2020)
Directed by Anthony Scott Burns
Starring: Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film plot follows a teenage runaway who takes part in a sleep study that becomes a nightmarish descent into the depths of her mind and a frightening examination of the power of dreams.
I love a good obscure sci-fi film with an interesting concept so this sounded right up my alley. Plus the poster was cool. Soon realised that the “slow burn” mentioned in so many reviews was due to nothing happening until the very end. Which can be okay sometimes if that ending is amazing but this one was a let down. Sort of felt like this would’ve been better as a short film as it had a good look & mood but not enough story. But I appreciate that films like this get made and I think this one shows some promise. Am sure it has some fans even though it didn’t really work for me.
I watch a lot of movies like this and sometimes find an absolute gem. This reminded me of a great obscure sci-fi film that did work for me that I’m always recommending & that absolutely no one I know has watched. If you like this kind of thing, check out The Frame (2014).￼
I’ve managed to already review all the movies I’ve watched this month. Yay, me! So I decided to post them all this week instead of waiting for my monthly roundup post.
Three quickies below. One movie I quite liked, one movie I thought was a bit dull but had a good performance, and one movie I think I kind of hated. Of course, the one I liked the most is the one that had no Oscar nominations.
Where The Crawdads Sing (2022)
Directed by Olivia Newman
Based on Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer, Jr., Jojo Regina, Garret Dillahunt, Ahna O’Reilly, David Strathairn
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The story follows an abandoned yet defiant girl, Kya, who raises herself to adulthood in a North Carolina marshland, becoming a naturalist in the process. When the town’s hotshot is found dead, she is the prime suspect and is tried for murder.
How is Marsh Girl less socially awkward than I am?!
This is one of those movies I really liked but can’t explain why. Some of it is ridiculous. “Marsh Girl” is far too pretty & miraculously smart & of course learns how to read in a heartwarming montage & accomplishes far more in life than most of us ever will. But I liked her and I liked the nice boyfriend & the couple from the town who helped her and I liked the story. That’s good enough for me. And I always like when assholes get what they deserve. Hell yeah. And I loved the ending. One of the better films I’ve seen so far this year.
My Rating: 7.5/10
To Leslie (2022)
Directed by Michael Morris
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Andre Royo, Owen Teague, Stephen Root, James Landry Hebert, Marc Maron, Allison Janney
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Andrea Riseborough as Leslie Rowland, a single mother and alcoholic who squanders all the prize money she received after winning the lottery. She soon finds the chance to redeem herself when a motel owner offers her a job.
Had to see what all the fuss was about. Am a bit baffled by the huge amount of celebrity praise as it’s a quite average “addiction movie” that we’ve seen many times. Think Andrea Riseborough was worthy of her Oscar nomination, though, as she did give a really good performance. She was especially good in the second half of the movie, which was much better than its very slow start. Worth checking out for Riseborough and for the second half of the film, which ended up winning me over with a strong ending.
My Rating: 7/10
Triangle Of Sadness (2022)
Directed & Written by Ruben Östlund
Starring: Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Dolly de Leon, Zlatko Burić, Iris Berben, Vicki Berlin, Henrik Dorsin, Jean-Christophe Folly, Amanda Walker, Oliver Ford Davies, Sunnyi Melles, Woody Harrelson
Plot Synopsis: Rich people suck. And vomit. And shit.
I now have a least favorite Best Picture nominee out of the six I’ve seen this year. EEAAO was my previous least favorite so I’m feeling very out of touch as I can’t quite figure out what people saw in these. What am I missing?
This started out okay in Part 1. Charlbi Dean (RIP) & Harris Dickinson played the only characters I almost gave a shit about. Okay, I know we’re meant to hate them all but do we really need so many movies stating the fucking obvious about the rich? Society is never going to change. I guess I’d just rather watch them get eaten by zombies in Land Of The Dead or something than see them vomiting & shitting all over the place. Or, speaking of society, I’d rather watch Society (1989). I thought The Menu was a bit of a mess but Triangle made me appreciate that similar story a bit more, although I think they both failed to make much of a point and aren’t as clever as they think. And I’d heard that this one was fun? It was far too long & I kept checking how much time was remaining once the puking & shitting started (there’s still loads of time left after that). It’s probably the least fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long time.
Okay, I wasn’t a fan of this movie but I didn’t absolutely hate it. I did like Charlbi Dean & Harris Dickinson as mentioned. And I thought Woody Harrelson was pretty great, although he’s played this sort of drunk dude so many times (but he’s so good at that so that’s fine). And, like most everyone, I also liked Dolly de Leon and the whole “I’m the Captain” thing in Part 3. That was good. So I’ve given an extra half a star for these four people. The bad just far outweighed the good in this film for me. Part 1 & 3 were bearable but I thought Part 2 would never end. I’m glad I watched it as I try to watch all the Best Picture nominees but I wouldn’t want to suffer through this one a second time.
With the Oscars being on tonight, I figured I’d quickly post these reviews of a few more Oscar nominated films. Will do a full post later today with all the nominees & links to all my reviews of the 23 nominees I’ve seen.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Kelvin Harrison Jr., David Wenham, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Luke Bracey
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It chronicles the life of the American rock and roll singer and actor Elvis Presley under the management of Colonel Tom Parker.
Really liked this but, wow – how can some of this be so great & some of it so absolutely dreadful? Definitely an example of a performance highly deserving of an Oscar but a movie that is not.
I should start by saying that I know almost nothing about Elvis. Despite being a big music & movie lover, I’ve never liked many of his songs & have never seen his films. So, no, I can’t say how accurate these performances truly are, especially Hanks as I only know ”of” Colonel Tom Parker. But damn I thought Austin Butler was amazing. If he doesn’t win an Oscar but a rather rubbish version of Freddie Mercury did (and a really good version of Elton John wasn’t even nominated), I’ll be very annoyed. He oozes charisma & sex appeal in this film and I think he really captures the crazy effect that Elvis had on sexually repressed ‘50s America. He makes this movie. He feels like a star, which you need if you’re going to play someone as big as Elvis. I was impressed with how well he did as young Elvis as well as an older Elvis with many personal demons. Knew only a little of how much Elvis had been taken advantage of so found the ending quite heartbreaking and would say I appreciate the story of the life of this megastar a little bit more now. Know a documentary would be much more accurate, though, as I’m sure Luhrmann has taken many liberties with the facts.
To quickly get the dreadful out of the way: Baz Luhrmann & Tom Hanks. For the most part, I don’t get on with Luhrmann’s films. I appreciate his style when it works but it often doesn’t. Found a lot of it just plain cringy in Elvis and the mixing in of modern music, which I know is his thing and is okay sometimes, was terrible in this. It was annoying and threw me out of the film a few times. And then there was Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. Oh boy. As I said, I know nothing about the real man but if he was truly as awful as this film makes him out to be (sounds like that’s the case), why did this story get told through him? The character was so obnoxious (did he actually talk like that?!) and we had to listen to him telling this story through the whole damn movie. I guess it kind of makes sense as he was so controlling of Elvis that he didn’t get to live his own life because of Parker. Maybe that’s why Luhrmann made the decision to have the story told through him but I just wanted more of Butler and WAY less of Hanks. I’ve never disliked Hanks before! So Luhrmann must be partly to blame.
Oh well. The movie itself could’ve been much better but Butler was so fantastic & the story of Elvis is so fascinating that I still got a lot of enjoyment out of the film. Well worth the watch despite its big flaws, even if like me you’re not really a fan of Elvis Presley.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (2021)
Directed by Dean Fleischer Camp
Starring: Jenny Slate, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Dean Fleischer Camp, Lesley Stahl, Isabella Rossellini
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It is based on a series of shorts of the same name written by Slate and Fleischer Camp. Slate reprises her voice role as Marcel, an anthropomorphic shell living with his grandmother Connie.
Was eager to see this as it very much looked like my kind of thing (heartwarming & adorable – I love that shit plus adore cute anthropomorphic things). With the Pixar Oscar nominee being so disappointing this year, I was expecting to like Marcel the most but Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is easily my favorite & the one I think deserves to win.
Still enjoyed Marcel but was a little underwhelmed by the story. And although it was a clever idea, the way it was presented as a documentary didn’t quite work for me and I can see why this probably worked better in the original shorts (if they were done that way?) than it did in this full-length film. Marcel was very cute, Jenny Slate’s voice was perfect, and his relationship with his grandmother was very sweet. For me, the movie slightly crossed the line into being a little too saccharine & trying a bit too hard. Did enjoy seeing the inventive ways of doing things that Marcel & his grandmother had to find to live their lives once they found themselves alone. And liked it showing how horrible society has become in this social media obsessed world (without being preachy about it).
It’s a nice film & my second favorite of this year’s Animated nominees but it may not be saying much as I think the other two I’ve seen are not very good at all (not seen Puss In Boots). I didn’t find Marcel as moving as I was hoping. It’s nowhere near the very best animated films from the studios I love the most (Studio Ghibli, Pixar & Disney). Am disappointed that Pixar have been so unreliable with their recent films and am missing the emotion we got from their very best stuff.
I’ve watched every Marvel movie (ranked here) and do enjoy them but I’m not a massive fan and it’s feeling like an obligation to watch them now. Would’ve been happy for them to stop at Endgame – the films are seeming more & more messy and pointless now.
With all of these films, I like the characters much more than the stories themselves & that was especially true of this film. The MCU has done a fantastic job developing some fascinating characters. The women in this are great. Letitia Wright & Danai Gurira were so much fun to watch & I liked their interactions with each other. Lupita Nyong’o was as brilliant as always as was Angela Bassett who definitely has a shot at winning that Oscar tonight. And the introduction of Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams was a nice addition – would’ve liked a bit more to do with her. So this one was off to a good start with strong characters. They obviously had a huge hole to fill and not having Chadwick Boseman is still heartbreaking but I thought they did well with handling that.
Then it turned into the same MCU formula we always get. Which, fine, I get it – That’s what people want. Why mess with something so many people clearly love & is making them tons of money? But I often lose interest in these films halfway through when the same old fight scenes & the same old storylines occur plus this was FAR longer than it needed to be, which didn’t help. Although I care most about liking the main characters, it helps if I also buy into the story & the obligatory villain. The story wasn’t too bad but those blue Avatar-looking fuckers & boring-Aquaman ankle-wings dude weren’t working for me. I completely lost interest in the middle this time. I just wanted to get back to seeing the main kick-ass female characters together. The middle of this just went off the deep end (literally).
So I’m mixed on this one. Good characters but overall a bit of a mess. But, as I say, I’m not a huge MCU fan so I’m going to be a bit more negative. I admit I like the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies the most so I obviously just like my superhero movies to be a bit more fun & lightweight than this one. It’s why I far prefer the MCU to current DC films.
Starring: Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton as grieving parents who meet to discuss a tragedy involving their sons.
This is one of those 2021 movies that wasn’t released until 2022 in the U.K., so I’m counting it as a 2022 release (I refuse to go by American release dates anymore – it’s too confusing). Finally! A decent 2022 film! This has been a very disappointing year so far on streaming services. This is my ranking now:
I’m hoping to see 2022 U.K. release & Best Picture Nominee Nightmare Alley on Disney Plus before the Oscars this weekend to see where that ranks but it’s two and a half hours long so very unlikely the hubby will agree to watching that one. It doesn’t have a chance of winning anyway plus I don’t know why I’m so desperate to see all the Best Picture nominees when the Oscars piss me off more & more in recent years. I think I’m finally finished with the Oscars now if they don’t consider Best Original Score important enough to be awarded live. I’m a huge fan of movie music & know there are movies I love thanks to the score more than anything else (Mandy, Suspiria, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly for example). Imagine movies without John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Thomas Newman, etc etc etc!!!!! So screw you, Oscars!
Oops. I’ll stop ranting and talk about Mass. It’s a good film but obviously a very heavy topic. I’m not a big fan of dramas, either, so it’s always hard to know where to rank stuff like this when I’m a fan of fiction, fantasy & escapism. It’s not like I can say I “enjoyed” this movie as much as, say, A Quiet Place Part II which I watched before this one & liked a lot. And although Mass is fiction it’s a very real and sadly far too common occurrence (in America) & one I find very upsetting. Which is why for now I’ve ranked freaky horror comedy Fresh above Mass even though Mass is of course the better film & I’ve given it a higher rating. Yes, my ratings & rankings are confusing. Ha! Just thought I should try to explain that. And I’ll try to get a review done for Fresh this week…
I guess this might be a spoiler if you know nothing about Mass plus the plot synopsis doesn’t mention it but I’m going to say what it’s about (I think the plot is pretty well known). It’s about two couples who meet to talk to each other six years after a school shooting involving their two sons. They discuss what happened & who is to blame & what could have been done, etc. They meet in a church in a room that has been reserved for them & the whole movie is set there. There are no scenes or flashbacks involving the incident – it’s just these two sets of parents discussing what happened.
I’m not going to get into gun control & the mass shootings that are such a huge problem in America. All I’ll say is that I don’t understand it & it all seems completely insane to everyone living outside of the U.S. This movie thankfully doesn’t go into the main issues too much (mainly gun control vs mental health). They touch on the topics but the focus is more on how this incident has affected the two families. I also didn’t feel the movie forced an agenda, so that was good. I hate movies with an agenda, even when it’s something I totally agree with. The four actors did a good job, especially Ann Dowd and Martha Plimpton as the grieving mothers. All was also revealed by the end, which got pretty intense, and I felt sympathy for all four characters. I can’t imagine being in that situation but I think I’d find it impossible to ever forgive.
Mass is good & I’d recommend it for the performances but you need to be in the right sort of mood for a heavy drama. Too bad it’s not going to change anything in America. Sandy Hook didn’t, so nothing ever will.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.
I liked the first film, A Quiet Place, a lot. It made it into the top twenty of my favorite horror movies of the 21st century so far (it probably deserves to be a little higher). I thought it was a great example of the monster horror genre and very clever & original to have so much of it needing to be silent. It also had acting that seemed far too good for a horror film. Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds was especially good in the role & even better in the sequel where she gets a bigger & more important role, which I really liked.
I liked this sequel a lot too. It had a lot to live up to & horror sequels are often disappointing so I’m very glad that this one wasn’t. We start off right after the end of the first film, which was good as it’s sometimes a bit annoying when they just skip a bunch of time for a sequel. Well, I lie – we actually get a very good flashback first of when this all started and I loved that. A prequel would’ve been great as a third film but the opening scene covers that, at least in this one town, so I’d be perfectly happy with another sequel continuing on after Part II. Actually, Part III would be fine as a “fast forward” to it being five years later or so. Oh man – I really do want this to be a trilogy! Do we know anything about number 3?? All I know is that it’s got a listing on IMDb with an expected release of 2023.
I thought Cillian Murphy was a decent addition to the cast in this one and, as I already said, I really liked Millicent Simmonds having an even bigger role. She had more to do than Emily Blunt in this one but Blunt still had plenty to do too & I liked her scenes as well. It’s one of those stories where we’re following two sets of people doing different things, which I always like. Two stories for the price of one!
This was a good horror sequel. I still really like these characters & want them to destroy all the monsters. I want to see more of their story in Part III. The only thing at all negative that I could say is that, as a sequel, it no longer has that feeling of being this great “all new idea” & it didn’t really add anything that we didn’t see in the first movie other than one more small fact about the alien monster things. So I feel I have to give it half a point less than my rating for Part I (making this only half a point higher than Malignant although I liked this one much more than that. I don’t know how to rate stuff anymore!). But I’m also glad they stayed true to the first film & I wouldn’t have wanted them to stray far from what they gave us in Part I anyway. Oh! And one other thing: This movie actually felt too short. It’s 1 hour 37 minutes so not overly short but it just felt like it needed a bit more. Maybe more time in the place toward the end with Millicent Simmonds? But, hey – a movie feeling too short is better than one that feels like it drags on for far too long! I guess I was just enjoying it & wanted to see more. Can’t wait for Part III now.
Two quick reviews of two weird movies before I post my January Roundup post…
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan
Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Some Creepy Kid
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.
Wow, this was pretty fucking weird. So, since I love weird, I really enjoyed it. And, like most weird movies, I’d be very hesitant to actually recommend it to anyone as they’d hate it & probably think I was a weirdo. Which I am but, you know, I try to hide that in real life…
Here I am watching an Imogen Poots movie again. Why do I seem to watch all her movies?? *Poots!* Jesse Eisenberg is in this too. Man I hate him but, whatever – I don’t care too much who is in a movie anyway as I care more about the story & the overall movie itself so I guess he was tolerable. I really liked this story and the look of all the identical houses in this eerie neighborhood that the couple find themselves trapped in & unable to escape after a creepy “real estate agent dude” brings them there to show them a house.
It’s a bizarre film and I suppose part of the reason I liked it was that it had a Twilight Zone vibe & that (original series) TV show will forever be my absolute favorite. Adore it. This movie reminds me of one very specific Twilight Zone episode where a couple wake up in an empty town (Stopover In A Quiet Town is the episode if you’re curious. A classic!). So I loved the feel of this film. It was bonkers & unsettling & the kid in it gave me the absolute creeps. And I’m still not 100% sure what the hell was going on or what the point of the whole thing was but it was certainly one of the more entertaining stories I’ve seen in a while. I guess it was about being stuck in suburbia & doing exactly what society expects of you.
If you love The Twilight Zone or maybe a bit of Black Mirror or if you just like your films to be weird & unpredictable because like me you watch too many movies & get bored seeing the same old shit, it might be worth checking this one out (I saw it on Film4). You might hate it. You might love it. You probably won’t forget it. And the kid might haunt your nightmares.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Dave Made A Maze (2017)
Directed by Bill Watterson
Starring: Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Kirsten Vangsness, Stephanie Allynne, James Urbaniak, Scott Krinsky, Adam Busch, John Hennigan
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film centers on the titular Dave who builds a cardboard fort that somehow supernaturally houses an entire labyrinth full of deadly traps and creatures.
Another weird film that I also, of course, enjoyed. I’m a creep! I’m a weeeeeiiiiiiirdooooooo! Amazon Prime had been pushing this on me for a while & I suddenly decided to give it a try one day when I noticed it was only 80 minutes (I’m not one of these “I can’t watch long movies!” people – I just don’t have much spare time). Again, like Vivarium, I loved the concept. This artist dude builds a maze of cardboard boxes & gets lost and trapped inside it as it grows & takes on a life of its own. His girlfriend enlists the help of some of their friends to go in after him but they of course end up trapped too.
It’s a fun film and a mix of genres (fantasy, adventure, comedy & horror according to Wikipedia). The characters are pretty likeable & the “horror” is only comedy horror with some funny cartoonish blood. Where Vivarium made me think of a good Twilight Zone episode, the synopsis of this one made me think of an absolutely fantastic short story called Voluntary Committal by Joe Hill in his collection 20th Century Ghosts (which I highly recommend if you like good short stories). They’re very different stories overall but I like the concept of a spooky maze made out of boxes, I guess. Anyway – this is a fun film & the plot is unique so check it out on Amazon Prime if you want a short film with a quirky sense of humor.
Another quick trio of reviews of 2021 releases before I do my December roundup post. Liked these a lot more than the three I reviewed earlier today. Two of these are also probably going to make my 2021 Top Ten list I’ll try to post later this week. I keep moving stuff around on that list a lot… We’ll see!
Don’t Look Up (2021)
Directed by Adam McKay
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization.
Watched this yesterday (but I’m logging it as a 2021 watch!). Really glad I finished out the year with this one as I’ve found the 2021 releases on services to be very disappointing but I enjoyed this one a lot. Between this and The Lost Daughter, which I watched on the 31st, I’m happy to have two more movies probably making it into my 2021 Top Ten list.
Wasn’t sure what I’d think of this as I’ve not been big on any of Adam McKay’s other films but, for me, this is easily his best. I thought it would be extremely political & too far-left in that typical Hollywood way as, according to Wikipedia, “The comet is an analogy for climate change and the film is a satire of government and media indifference to the climate crisis.” There’s nothing I hate more than an overly preachy movie! But it didn’t feel preachy to me & I got some good laughs out of the comedy in this. I thought the satire was pretty clever and, although they say it’s about how how shit the governments & media are, I thought it also perfectly displayed what a bunch of fucking morons the entire human race has become. I always enjoy “humans suck” satire (also a fan of Idiocracy, although I wish that film was better). It was scary how accurate this film was on how the general population would react if told we’re all going to die when a comet hits Earth. There would be as many comet-deniers as there are Covid-deniers. I would have thought this film was exaggerating things just five years ago or so (but I also wrongly thought Idiocracy was exaggerated at the time). People being more bothered about a celebrity breakup than our impending doom is SO FUCKING ACCURATE.
I also really enjoyed all the performances in this. Movies with huge star ensembles like this don’t always work for me as I sometimes find so many big names to be distracting & can take away from the story but I thought everyone was perfectly cast in this. Leonardo DiCaprio was good, of course, but I liked that it felt like quite a different role for him. And I loved that his wife was, like, the same age as him! Also really liked Jennifer Lawrence’s character and loved how she became just another meme for media-obsessed society. Also loved her obsession with the free snacks… Meryl Streep was pretty damn hilarious as a hateful self-absorbed president & I thought Jonah Hill was funny (although I can see that one role being the most divisive). And Mark Rylance was fantastic as a typical billionaire genius/idiot. I can’t call if this movie will have any acting Oscar nominations or if it’ll be completely ignored as comedy often is by the Academy. Or if they’ll only nominate Streep as usual. I think it deserves recognition, though, and I enjoyed it far more than his Oscar-nominated The Big Short.
I’ve avoided reviews & discussion of this movie but get the impression that people are pretty divided? Not sure why as I thought it was easily one of the better films I’ve managed to see this year. Maybe the truth hurts?
My Rating: 7.5/10
The Lost Daughter (2021)
Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal
Based on The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
Starring: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Domińczyk, Jack Farthing, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.
I also liked this film a lot. I’d maybe say it’s actually better than Don’t Look Up but is obviously a much more serious film & I had more “fun” watching Don’t Look Up.
The acting is great in this, especially from Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley. I’m not an Olivia Colman fan (I’m actually enjoying The Crown far less since it changed to her from Claire Foy) but have to admit she’s very good in this. And that horrible family who came to the beach gave me the absolute creeps! Absolutely cannot stand pushy, entitled people like that and there are far too many of them in this world. Why the fuck should Olivia Colman move from her spot on the beach, huh?!? Anyway – I guess the family were very good as they were menacing as hell just in the way they would look at Colman’s character. But I never really understood their problem with her. Was it only because she wouldn’t move on the beach or did I miss something else while trying to sneakily watch this in between doing stuff with the family on one of my last days off of work?? Dakota Johnson was also good as part of that horrible family (by marriage, I think – was never quite sure how they were all related) & the one who Colman connects with as her young daughter brings up painful memories from Colman’s past. Johnson is maybe growing on me – I couldn’t understand what people saw in her at first.
I think this movie does a fantastic job of portraying the fact that, for some women, there’s much more to them than “just being a mother” and that being a mother (and wife) can be very difficult. I think movies often portray motherhood as being beautiful & perfect. I’m not saying I could personally connect with Colman’s & Buckley’s character’s experience but I think it will probably speak to a lot of women. And I thought the building tension in this was done really well. I kept feeling more & more uneasy throughout this film as I didn’t know a thing about the story & didn’t know what would happen.
Hated this bitch so much!
I think Gyllenhaal has done a great job with this movie. I can’t say whether it’s a good adaptation as I’ve not read the book but I’d now be interested in possibly reading it to know even more about the characters’ motivations. Maybe I’ll read it. I don’t often read a book after seeing the movie but I’d like to know a bit more after seeing this one. It’s a very good film.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Directed by Michael Sarnoski
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows a truffle forager whose beloved truffle-finding pig is stolen.
Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Can’t afford this hobby anymore so I think the only movies I spent on in 2021 outside of streaming services were this &Willy’s Wonderland. You’d think I was a Nicolas Cage fan or something! I’m actually really not, although he’s grown on me in recent years thanks to his interesting film choices. Those choices are often bad & I’ve not watched those that had terrible reviews but things like Mandy & Color Out Of Space are right up my alley & this one sounded like it could be too.
It’s an interesting film & I do agree that Cage was good in it. As much as I enjoy Crazy Cage, I liked seeing him so restrained in this one. I think he and the movie portray loneliness & grief well. Was honestly expecting some John Wick type of revenge rampage so was surprised at there being very little violence in this. Although a John Wick rampage would’ve been fun too but we’ve had enough of that sort of thing from Cage so this was a nice change.
Pig is a movie I’m glad I managed to see before the end of the year but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me as I can’t see myself watching it again. But I can understand why many seemed to like it as they could probably identify with Cage’s character. I can also see why plenty of other people wouldn’t go for this movie at all & would probably call it boring as it’s very slow & far less happens than I was expecting. It’s certainly a “Film Twitter person” type of movie that I wouldn’t go around recommending to people I work with or something. You’ll love it or possibly hate it. Or just be a bit “That was okay” like me. The pig was very cute!
Two quickie reviews today before I get my monthly roundup post ready for sometime next week. Two very different films, obviously, but I enjoyed them both.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Based on Marvel Comics
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Tony Leung
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) In the film, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his past when his father Wenwu (Leung), the leader of the Ten Rings organization, draws Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing (Zhang) into a search for a mythical village.
I reviewed Black Widow last month & said again that I have superhero burnout with all these MCU films. Black Widow wasn’t horrible but it certainly wasn’t great. I’ve watched all the MCU movies as they’re fun but I’m certainly not some huge fan of them. It’s probably why I usually prefer the ones that aren’t quite as formulaic. That may be obvious as Guardians Of The Galaxy is easily my favorite of the MCU films, which I ranked HERE. I’ve just added Shang-Chi to that list. It’s in the middle. I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting and more than Black Widow. Again, I liked that this one at least felt a little different from the majority of the MCU stuff.
Gotta say I’m surprised they keep putting Awkwafina in movies as I can certainly understand why some people can’t stand her. Doesn’t bother me, though, as I like her (also liked her in Raya And The Last Dragon, which I thought was pretty good). But it’s a shame that she probably put some people off this film a bit. Her friendship with Shang-Chi was fun & Simu Liu was really good in the role. We also got some great female characters with Shang-Chi’s kick-ass sister & super cool mother and aunt. His aunt was played by the brilliant Michelle Yeoh who was great as always. Tony Leung Chiu-wai played Shang-Chi’s heartbroken & complicated father and I really liked that role as well as the role of the aunt & the mother.
Everyone was good in this but the adults, especially Tony Leung Chiu-wai & Michelle Yeoh, were the best. But, hey, they’re already big stars for a reason as they have a great presence. Oh my god – did I just call them the “adults”?! Ha! How old do I sound?!?! Shang-Chi must be about 30? Okay – he’s the son in this so I just meant the parents & the aunt were all super cool. Oh – and I highly recommend Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s Infernal Affairs, which was remade as The Departed. Fantastic film.
For some reason, I couldn’t find great pictures from this movie. Sorry for not including images of the characters I just raved about! Too late to add now, as I need my post’s tweet to be what I’ve already added as my last image since I finally figured out that it tweets that last one you uploaded. Only took me almost 9 years to figure that out! Well, here’s Shang-Chi again. Who is an adult too…
This one did start out quite slow but really picked up for me later in the film when Shang-Chi returns home and we get to see all the cool mystical & mythical shit. I loved the hidden village and all the creatures but, again, that will be because I get bored with the MCU stuff and the end of this felt very different to those films. But it’s also what will have made people like or hate this one, I guess, and I could understand why some MCU fans maybe wouldn’t love the end of this one. Did they? I honestly don’t have a clue as I avoided all reviews as I knew I wouldn’t be seeing this one until after everyone else did. I also liked the story itself, which I can’t say of every Marvel film, and again thought the father was one of the better “complex” characters and enjoyed the story of him & his wife. So I liked this more than plenty of the MCU films but I do admittedly have very different taste from the diehard Marvel fans. Contemplating upping my rating but will leave it as is for now…
My Rating: 7/10
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of an affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.
Was very happy to see this on BBC iPlayer as everyone absolutely raved about it when it came out. It’s a good film. I’m not, like, “OhmygodthisisthebestmovieEVER!!!!!” but the characters are strong & I was interested in what would happen with their relationship. It was just really unfortunate that Noémie Merlant kind of looks like Emma Watson in the face. So I kept picturing Watson making her weird annoying faces while attempting to act (Merlant can act, though). I especially liked Adèle Haenel’s character (I dunno – I always go for the blondes) and they had really good chemistry together.
Nice to see people actually following Covid guidelines…
I liked the extra story with the maid girl or whatever she was. I liked the green dress in the top photo. Kind of reminds me of my high school prom dress! Ha! The color, anyway, but mine had black lace. And I liked when those weird women started beatboxing & then the “on fire” incident happened, which was a great scene. And the book in the painting plus the ending were lovely & bittersweet.
Overall, I liked the characters & the romance and preferred watching women on an island not being psychotic assholes, unlike those idiots in The Lighthouse. Glad I finally managed to see this one.
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Judith Light, Vanessa Hudgens
Music by Jonathan Larson
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City.
I’ll be honest – I read about this movie and wasn’t going to bother even watching it as it’s just really not my sort of thing. I do like “theatre” but have seen very little of it (I’m not made of money! And going into London stresses me out). I’d like to see more but my knowledge on theatre shows is very limited. I know pretty much nothing about Rent other than I think it’s what they spoofed in Team America? So that’s the type of person I am watching this movie about the guy who created Rent.
I have to say this started out really slow but, by the end, I really enjoyed it and thought this guy (Jonathan Larson) had a very interesting life. I loved his passion for what he did and am sad that things ended up as they did. Obviously, I had no knowledge of Larson before seeing this movie. I am assuming that theatre people enjoyed this one as I think the film really captures that lifestyle (or what I assume that lifestyle is like – I could be wrong!). As the film was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I’m sure he captured the theatre lifestyle. I thought Andrew Garfield was very good but I can’t say if he has done Larson well or not? So hopefully those who knew him are happy with the film. Oh, and I did like the diner number and am pretty sure it had a lot of big theatre names in it so I’m sure fans loved it. But I’ll admit that I only recognised a few faces, mainly the women from Cheers & Life Goes On as I know more about TV than theatre!
Larson’s friends in this were really great characters as well. I especially liked Alexandra Shipp as his girlfriend & Robin de Jesus as his best friend. And Vanessa Hudgens was good as one of those performing his songs. Judith Light (Who’s The Boss!) was very entertaining in a small role as Larson’s agent. Finally, Bradley Whitford played Stephen Sondheim, who inspired & encouraged Larson. R.I.P. Stephen Sondheim, who passed away over the weekend. Hopefully Whitford did him justice. I thought both Whitford & Garfield were very good in this. As I said above, hopefully those who knew them are pleased with this film.
So, as a non-theatre person, I enjoyed the story in this film. It was told through showing Larson performing his musical tick, tick… BOOM! (I believe?), which is about his life and fear of turning 30 & time running out. Then, as he tells his story through that musical, you get to see him put together his first show (Superbia) and get to watch the actors perform those songs before a small audience (I think this was to determine if it would be made into a Broadway show?). It sadly wasn’t but, hey – it’s now in a movie! And I thought those songs were pretty catchy and think I’d rather watch Superbia than the tick, tick… BOOM! one. So it was great how they told his story in a straightforward movie kind of way while also showing the audience a lot of his work in two of his musicals. I thought it worked really well telling his story this way & am glad I decided to give the film a chance. And I’ve just now also decided to up my rating half a point.
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Boone Junior, Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Eszter Balint, Carol Kane, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Debi Mazar, Seymour Cassel, Bianca Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Tommy is an unemployed mechanic who spends most of his time in a bar (Trees Lounge) in a small blue collar town. He seems to always be thinking, “If only X then I could stop drinking”.
Really liked this Steve Buscemi movie (which is on Pluto TV in the U.K., FYI). Confession: I have sort of a weird crush on Steve Buscemi. I always enjoy his quirky characters and, hey, I think his cameos in Adam Sandler’s movies are hilarious. Yeah! I’m not ashamed! Plus, he seems like a nice guy in real life which is great since so many celebrities seem like fucking assholes & I can’t stand the majority of them as people. So it was great seeing a younger Buscemi as the lead character in this 1996 film (which he also wrote & directed).
This is one of those very “indie” films that is more about the characters than the plot, so it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s the kind of thing I like when the characters are interesting or at least entertaining. It’s about Buscemi’s alcoholic character, Tommy, who hangs out at his local dive bar (Trees Lounge) while drinking his life away. He’s lost his girlfriend & his job & he’s wandering aimlessly through life. We get to see a bit of the also aimless lives of some other regulars at Trees Lounge as well as some of Tommy’s friends & family (including his real life brother playing his brother). It’s also a very New York indie, so I enjoyed that despite never having actually been to New York. It’s always just as much a “character” as any of the actors are when a film is set in NYC.
It was also great seeing so many known names in this (including a small role for Samuel L. Jackson). Enjoyed Carol Kane as the Trees Lounge bartender & the bar’s quirky regulars and I wanted to hang out with Buscemi in the ice cream truck. Check out this cast (from Wikipedia): Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Boone Junior, Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Eszter Balint, Carol Kane, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Debi Mazar, Seymour Cassel, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Buscemi.
Good stuff! Too bad Buscemi made no more films. I’d happily watch more movies like this one. I’ve just added Trees Lounge to my list of My Top Ten Steve Buscemi Movies. I’ve put it at ten, knocking out The Big Lebowski. Never been big on that film…
Starring: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu, Yoo Hae-jin
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Set in the year 2092 and follows the crew of a space junk collector ship called The Victory. When they discover a humanoid robot named Dorothy that’s known to be a weapon of mass destruction, they get involved in a risky business deal.
Really enjoyed this movie. That’s two things I’ve liked on Netflix recently! I struggle to find anything new that I like on Netflix (the other recent thing I liked being Squid Game – I LOVED that).
There really has been some great South Korean stuff in recent years & what they seem to have in common is this: Good characters. Simple, yeah? Surely it’s easy to write good characters? I sometimes feel like Western cinema has forgotten that audiences want to actually care about the characters. And the South Korean stuff also seems to do really well with making us care about complex characters who are often far from perfect. Especially people down on their luck and/or fighting for survival (Parasite, Train To Busan, Squid Game). They made us cry over a zombie movie and a mega violent Battle-Royale-Style TV show, for crying out loud! Why can’t we get more American movies like that?
Don’t want to totally mislead anyone by mentioning Train To Busan & Parasite as those are very good films. Space Sweepers is more “blockbuster popcorn movie” & closer to being the sort of thing a more mainstream Western audience might go for. It’s cheesy & silly at times but they still got that one thing right: Good characters. The film follows a group of space crew misfits who risk their lives collecting space debris to sell while those living on Earth struggle to survive while breathing highly polluted air. They find a young girl stowaway on their ship one day & the movie really picks up from there. If you watch it, stick with it as it gets much better at that point after starting out like a basic sci-fi action blockbuster.
The sci-fi action is fine & the story of yet another dystopian future is decent enough but the characters are what make it enjoyable. We have a funny robot and a tough guy who goes all warm & fuzzy as soon as a cute young kid shows up. We also have a good tearjerker backstory with the main dude & the girl playing the crew’s Captain is cool. Then of course we have the young girl, who is adorable. Yeah, the movie is a little cheesy at times but it’s fun and the South Korean characters are once again well-written (especially for a sci-fi action blockbuster).
I did a bunch of “my favorite horror movies” lists in October & one was My Top Ten Pre-1970 Horror Movies. I’d commented that it was shameful I’d seen so few to be able to make that list and had seen none of the classic “monster” movies such as Dracula, etc. So I was very happy when the Horror Channel in the U.K. showed a bunch of them over Halloween weekend. Thanks to the family for letting me watch half of them, too! I haven’t updated that list with these yet as I’m not sure where to place them at this point but figured that I should at least try to write a little something about these classics even though it’s after Halloween…
Directed by Tod Browning
Based on Dracula (novel) by Bram Stoker & Dracula (play) by Hamilton Deane & John L. Balderston
Starring: Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, a vampire who emigrates from Transylvania to England and preys upon the blood of living victims, including a young man’s fiancée.
I don’t know where to start with these “reviews” as I’ve not watched enough classic horror to be able to easily discuss them. I’ll say that Dracula was easily my favorite of those I watched Halloween weekend. Bela Lugosi was great as Count Dracula. Loved his look and the mood of the start of the film in his creepy old castle in the fog & full of cobwebs. The whole thing just said traditional “Halloween” to me, so that was great. A proper vampire movie! Also, I noticed it was directed by Tod Browning who did the movie Freaks, which I absolutely adore & think is a fantastic film that was ahead of its time. So I was eager to see another Browning film.
Vampires aren’t usually my favorite when it comes to the typical “Halloween” monsters. As far as these type of movies go, it seems to be the zombie ones I like the most (thanks, George Romero!). So I wasn’t necessarily expecting this to be my favorite (I thought it would be Frankenstein). But Lugosi was so good & I loved seeing all the “vampire rules” played out, which I admittedly know best thanks to The Lost Boys. No “death by stereo” in Dracula, though! Ha!
Am so glad I finally watched this. I want to see all the Hammer Horror now too to compare, especially Dracula! Am guessing that just has more heaving bosoms. They loved heaving bosoms in old English movies. So between this Dracula, Nosferatu & my beloved The Lost Boys, maybe I do love vampires after all. It’s made me want to revisit Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula now as well. Or… maybe even read the book! Maybe. I did read Frankenstein recently. We’ll see!
My Rating: 8/10
Directed by James Whale
Based on Frankenstein (novel) by Mary Shelley & Frankenstein (play) by Peggy Webling & John L. Balderston
Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Dwight Frye, Edward van Sloan, Frederick Kerr
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Dr. Frankenstein dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster out of lifeless body parts.
Unlike the rest, I do think I at least saw bits of this as a kid. I definitely remember the part with the girl. I forced myself to read this book during lockdown as I must admit I don’t read enough classics. Yes, I stick with Stephen King. I’m old, busy & tired. I’ll watch a serious film as it takes up less of my time but don’t have the energy to read War And Peace or some shit. Give me light entertainment for reading! I admit reading Frankenstein, with its 1818 language, was hard going. But I love the overall story. It’s damn good.
So I was expecting to like this movie the most but I think I ended up a bit disappointed as I didn’t realize how different it was from the book! I have no clue how close Dracula was to Stoker’s novel so that’s probably why I was able to just enjoy that movie as it is. Looks like Frankenstein was also partly based on a play adaptation? I was just kind of sad as I didn’t feel this movie captured the creature’s complex feelings & turned him into more of a monster while the flawed Victor Frankenstein character is hardly explored at all. But, hey – it’s a 1931 film. It’s still a horror classic & gave us the iconic “Frankenstein’s monster” look we now all associate with the character (which is also unlike described in the book). And I’ve now seen Boris Karloff in action as well as Bela Lugosi! It’s about time, I suppose.
My Rating: 7.5/10
The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)
Directed by James Whale
Based on Premise suggested by Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Thesiger, E. E. Clive
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.
This was a bit of an odd one to me but I really liked that, combined with the first movie, we get a little more of the story from the book. Well, a little. We get a bit with the blind guy and I really liked that part of this movie. My favorite part of the book was when “the creature” hid in a family’s cottage for a very long time & sort of became fond of them & learned from them and the blind man in the movie was I guess a nod to that.
I liked that Elsa Lanchester plays Mary Shelley, starting to tell more of her Frankenstein story, as well as The Bride in the title of the film. Didn’t know that, as I knew nothing whatsoever about this film beforehand. Again, it was great seeing The Bride & her also now truly iconic horror look. Love that crazy hairdo!
I also liked a super weird part of this movie in which a mad scientist guy has some tiny people in jars. In looking it up, I found they’re called “homunculi“. Fascinating! Here’s what it says at that Wikipedia link: “A homunculus is a representation of a small human being. Popularized in sixteenth-century alchemy and nineteenth-century fiction, it has historically referred to the creation of a miniature, fully formed human.” So that seemed silly at first but now I kind of love that bit. Fun film and, overall, I like the two of these movies together as one.
My Rating: 7/10
The Wolf Man (1941)
Directed by George Waggner
Starring: Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Evelyn Ankers, Lon Chaney Jr.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Larry Talbot returns to his father’s castle in Wales and meets a beautiful woman. One fateful night, Talbot escorts her to a local carnival where they meet a mysterious gypsy fortune teller.
Enjoyed this one as well, although I don’t really know what to say about this or The Invisible Man as I knew the least about these stories (but of course know the werewolf legend). Well, I know about werewolves thanks to An American Werewolf In London & the beginning of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, of course! Oh, and Teen Wolf. I’m so ’80s! Hey – did you know a guy in Teen Wolf flashes his penis at the end of that movie?
So, anyway – Yeah, I like werewolves almost as much as vampires when it comes to classic Halloween monsters so of course enjoyed this very straightforward werewolf story. Hairy guys are just a little less sexy than those bloodsuckers, I guess. Lon Chaney Jr. stars as the Wolf Man in this (I knew that thanks to Warren Zevon). So I’ve seen another classic monster movie & actor. Feel like I have a tiny bit more movie blog cred now! Wow – this was a pathetic review. Oh! I like the Silver Bullet movie too. God I’m so ’80s…
My Rating: 7/10
The Invisible Man (1933)
Directed by James Whale
Based on The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
Starring: Gloria Stuart, Claude Rains, William Harrigan, Dudley Digges, Una O’Connor, Henry Travers, Forrester Harvey
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.
I know the least about this story and, no, I’ve not read the H. G. Wells book. In all honesty, I think the 2020 movie was my first real introduction to this character (which I assume is very different from the book!). So I’d feel like an ass saying too much about this movie.
I enjoyed it but liked it a bit less than the more “classic monster” movies I watched Halloween weekend. I loved the special effects, though. I thought they were damn good for 1933! I know jack shit about filmmaking but, with all the stupid CGI these days that rarely moves me, I was more impressed by whatever probably super simple tricks they used in this movie to make this guy’s head, etc, invisible in some scenes. Brilliant! Way cooler than computer magic.
FYI – the star of this one is Claude Rains and, once again, I’m happy to finally see these actors in these iconic roles. And, hey – the old lady from Titanic, Gloria Stuart, is in this. Her heart will go on! God I suck at reviewing old movies. This was good, though. All of these were. I’m glad I finally saw them. Thanks, Horror Channel!
Happy Halloween! I decided it was time to bring this lovely post over to my own blog as it was lacking in shunting images. I don’t often review old favorites from before I started blogging but did this one for a fun blogathon over at Silver Screen Serenade (original post HERE). Enjoy!
Directed by Brian Yuzna
Starring: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards, Ben Meyerson
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Its plot follows a Beverly Hills teenager who finds his wealthy parents are part of a gruesome cult for the social elite.
***WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE AND SLIGHTLY NSFW IMAGES TO FOLLOW***
Here we go: I’m now going to talk about a film that all movie bloggers over a certain age should know well as I’m sure we all caught it on cable late one night & went “what the fuuuuuck?!?” (I know this was my experience with it). This is back in the days before the Internet was around to spoil a movie’s surprise ending for us before we had a chance to see it. You still had the occasional blabbermouth who might ruin a movie for you but it took a lot longer for word-of-mouth to travel back in the late 80s/early 90s and, although I think I saw this film a while after it was released, I’d managed to avoid hearing ANYTHING whatsoever about it. So imagine my surprise when I started watching a movie I’d not heard of on cable late one night that had that cute Billy Warlock in it. Yes – I’m talking, of course, about the 1989 film Society. For those who have somehow avoided seeing this one, there’ll first be some MINOR SPOILERS and then I’ll give another warning before giving MASSIVE SPOILERS regarding the crazy ending.
So, Billy Warlock plays a boy who is popular but just doesn’t seem to fit in with his rich family & their high society friends. Well, that seems pretty normal… who really gets along with their family? And rich people are wankers.
The movie is pretty boring at first & goes along really slowly with some dodgy acting. It felt kind of like an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 or Baywatch (which, hey – Billy Warlock was also in!). So I was getting ready to turn the channel & see what else was on when a couple of weird little things happened from out of nowhere.
Things like this:
Yeah – I think it was the “boobs on the back” thing that made me stick around. So some more stuff happens, blah blah blah… I still can’t really remember much of this movie until its ending – I don’t think anyone can. Then, after an hour of boredom, we get to the last half hour of this thing and WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?!?! Shunting, that’s what! SHUNTING! What the fuck is shunting? I’ll tell you what shunting is! Now is your chance to turn back if you’re at all intrigued and want to see this movie spoiler-free. MASSIVE SPOILERS and NSFW images to follow………………
Billy Warlock comes home to find his family and their high society friends all engaged in shunting: a big orgy-looking thing where they’re all melting into each other & feeding off poor people. Like this:
And Billy Warlock’s mother & pretty sister have turned into this (the sister is the crotch):
And his father has truly become a butthead:
But it gets even BETTER. There is a way to defeat these high society bastards & escape so that you don’t end up being their next meal. I’ll keep that a surprise in case you still wish to watch the movie at this point but here’s a little preview. I think it’s one of the greatest moments in cinematic history:
I have to say I really kind of love Society – it must be my favorite film that I don’t actually own. I should change that… I was a big fan of Cronenberg’s The Fly for a good few years before seeing Society (like, was kind of obsessed with it & watched it over and over again when my mom wasn’t around to yell at me for watching nasty stuff) and I think, between these two films, I was kind of turned on to the body horror genre (I did a top ten of my favorite body horror movies HERE). Don’t get me wrong – Society is NOT as good as a Cronenberg film (and it’s not meant to be) but I can guarantee that anyone who saw it at the time hasn’t forgotten the final half hour. It may be super tame by today’s standards but that’s fine by me – nothing beats the cheesy special effects of a good 80’s body horror film. It’s a genre I still wish to explore more than I have – does anyone have any good recommendations?
Starring: Iván Massagué, Antonia San Juan, Zorion Eguileor, Emilio Buale, Alexandra Masangkay
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. Only one food platform and two minutes per day to feed. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole.
I’ve been extremely disappointed with the majority of movies I’ve seen the past couple of years. The Platform was a nice surprise after a crappy year of films. I really liked this – it was my favorite I watched at home in 2020.
I always appreciate a good concept & seeing something that feels truly original as so many movies are cliché & predictable. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The Platform is a 2019 Spanish social science fiction-horror film directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia. The film is set in a large, tower-style “Vertical Self-Management Center”. Its residents, who are switched every 30 days between its many floors, are fed via a platform which, initially filled with food at the top floor, gradually descends through the tower’s levels, stopping for a fixed amount of time on each. The system inevitably leads to conflict, as the residents at the top levels get to eat as much as they can, with each level getting only the leftovers from the previous ones.”
Yeah, it’s a bit of a grim dystopian tale but I’m still a fan of this genre despite the real-life dystopian Covid year so I realise it may not be the sort of thing people wanted to watch in 2020. But it’s a great story that poses some interesting questions & is well worth the watch on Netflix if you appreciate this sort of story. I liked it a lot.
Happy “Halloween Week”! Here are two horror movies that I thought were pretty good. I thoroughly enjoyed one but didn’t love the other, although I thought it was a good film. Probably obvious which was which…
Willy’s Wonderland (2021)
Directed by Kevin Lewis
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec, Christian Del Grosso, Caylee Cowan, Terayle Hill, Jonathan Mercedes, David Sheftell, Beth Grant
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It follows a quiet drifter who is tricked into cleaning up an abandoned family entertainment center haunted by eight murderous animatronic characters.
I was never a huge fan of Nicolas Cage but he’s finally growing on me since Mandy. Mandy grew on me a lot too – I wasn’t sure how I felt right away but now I love that film & its look and its amazing score. I now want every Nicolas Cage movie to live up to Mandy but I don’t think any ever will. I did enjoy Color Out Of Space & it certainly gave Mandy a run for its money on “weirdness”. I love weird. It was no Mandy but I’m loving that Cage chooses such bizarre films with cult movie potential.
He’s done similar again with Willy’s Wonderland but in the horror comedy genre this time (a favorite subgenre of mine). I was so damn excited to see the trailer for a film starring Cage battling demonic animatronic characters. Love this idea! The film sadly didn’t quite live up to its amazing potential but I still had a lot of fun with it. And Cage was as bonkers as always, even while remaining silent through the whole film. It has a good ’80s slasher sort of vibe to it as well, so I appreciated that. The ’80s had some of the best “bad” horror movies & I’ll always happily watch this kind of thing.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Saint Maud (2019)
Directed & Written by Rose Glass
Starring: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.
Watched this British psychological horror as so many went on about it but it’s one of those films being raved over for the performance. And I agree that Morfydd Clark was very good so this was worth watching for that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The story follows hospice nurse Maud (portrayed by Morfydd Clark), a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, who becomes obsessed with a former dancer in her care (Jennifer Ehle), believing she must save her soul.”
The movie is fine but does drag a bit. I did like the slowly building tension, though, and thought the ending was good. Not one I’d watch again but am glad I checked out. I recommend it only if you like the more serious type of horrors with good acting. Oh! And was I going crazy or did her face do a weird Soundgarden Black Hole Sun video thing a couple of times when she was having one of her God orgasms?? That was kind of freaky fun.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Black hole sun, won’t you come? And wash away the rain?
Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave, Pamela Franklin, Martin Stephens
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Its plot follows a governess who watches over two children and comes to fear that their large estate is haunted by ghosts and that the children are being possessed.
I’d been wanting to see this for years. It’s one of many adaptations of the famous 1898 story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve not read the story, although I really want to now, and I had somehow managed to completely avoid having it spoiled for me in all this time. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be about and I was way off!
This sort of story is so my kind of thing. I love supernatural and I love creepy and I especially love creepy kids (and they’re always extra creepy in old movies). Here’s the very simple IMDb synopsis: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.” I should say that I watched this live on Talking Pictures TV (U.K.). They have a really interesting selection of old films so I recommend checking out their schedule or following them on Twitter (thanks to the hubby for telling me about the channel!).
I don’t really know what to say about this one. For one thing, I want to stay spoiler free for anyone who’s interested in watching this. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a great film. It’s eerie, I loved the scary kids and not knowing what was going on, and Deborah Kerr was very good (that’s two movies I’ve seen her in this year, the other being the beautiful Black Narcissus).
I want to read the story now as there’s some psychological stuff going on here and I’d like to see how it’s presented in the novella. This being an old British film, there’s some f*^ked up sexual repression going on here (old British films are the best at that). I think the story can be interpreted in different ways and I’m still thinking about the ending and its meaning. It’s probably why this story remains so popular and is still being adapted to this day (the latest being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor). I’d watch this one again as I missed some of it (the joy of having to watch live TV! First world problems, I know).
Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The wife and mistress of a loathed school principal plan to murder him with what they believe is the perfect alibi.
I unfortunately saw the terrible 1996 remake of this starring Sharon Stone years ago. Rubbish! I thought I’d managed to completely put it out of my mind until halfway through this original French film, when I suddenly remembered the whole story. Damn. Well, it’s still a fantastic murder-plot-mystery thriller and I’d highly recommend the original film, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, to anyone who likes this sort of genre. (Seriously, do NOT watch the 1996 remake. Ugh.)
The wife & the mistress of the same abusive asshole plot to murder him & make it look like an accident. But many weird & inexplicable things happen as the story unfolds. The actresses in this (Simone Signoret & Véra Clouzot) are fantastic and you are rooting for them (especially the poor wife) through the whole film. And do you know what happened when the credits came up at the end of this 1955 movie?! A warning to not spoil the ending of the film for others so that they could enjoy it too! Funny. So people were dicks about spoiling movies in 1955 just like they are in 2021. At least they could avoid Twitter in 1955.
My Rating: 7.5/10
In Fabric (2018)
Directed & Written by Peter Strickland
Starring: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill, Julian Barratt, Steve Oram, Gwendoline Christie, Barry Adamson, Jaygann Ayeh, Richard Bremmer, Terry Bird, Fatma Mohamed
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows a haunted red dress as it torments various owners.
This was bizarre. I was very excited to see this on BBC iPlayer as it looked like just my type of thing. I like to watch these “Giallo-inspired” movies. But then they end up being really shit & I think I’d have been better off just watching an actual Italian horror from the ’70s instead of a very poor imitation. Hated that Suspiria remake too! What was the point of that?? Well, at least this was an original story instead of a remake, I guess.
I did like director Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio okay but this one didn’t really work. I’d say there were certain things I liked about it, though. The score & the look were fine (even though it’s ripping off the Giallo style – Again, I should have just checked out another Dario Argento film even though I know none are as good as Deep Red or Suspiria). There are also two stories in this weird “killer dress” movie & the second one sucks. The first one, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste & Gwendoline Christie, actually wasn’t too bad & I’d be giving the film a higher rating if it had ended there. Why did they feel the need to add the second? Also, the movie is veeeeery slow & the first story dragged on for far longer than it needed to.
I think this may have actually been a decent horror anthology instead with four or five stories involving the killer dress. I’d watch several really good stories about a killer dress! Why do one okay story & one completely rubbish one?? Well, I don’t recommend this unless you like slightly boring modern movies that poorly rip off ’70s horror classics (if you liked The Love Witch, which I thought was terrible, you’d probably like In Fabric).
Starring: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, Will Patton
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipdia) A semi-autobiographical take on Chung’s upbringing, the plot follows a family of South Korean immigrants who try to make it in the rural United States during the 1980s.
Was so happy to see this finally pop up on Sky Cinema as it’s one of the Best Picture nominees this year that I’d wanted to see the most. I have to say I enjoyed it much more than winner Nomadland but probably still like Promising Young Woman the most. But Minari would be a close second out of the six nominees I’ve seen.
It’s a simple story about a Korean-American family trying to start a farm in Arkansas in the 1980s. The characters are what make the film work. I’ve liked cute Steven Yeun ever since he was my favorite character Glenn on The Walking Dead and he’s good in this film. It was great seeing him in a major role. But my two favorite characters by far were his adorable young son played by Alan S. Kim and the quirky grandma played by Youn Yuh-jung. She was great & I’m happy with her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this.
I also loved this little bit of the film: I admit to having a Mountain Dew addiction (for health reasons I can’t drink it right now & it’s killing me!). Anyway – I think everyone knows it’s super high in caffeine & sugar and one of the worst things you can possibly drink so I loved that the family in this were obsessed with Mountain Dew as it’s “Water from the mountains. It’s healthy!“. That was cute. I also just really liked the relationship that forms between the boy & the grandma and also kind of liked their very weird neighbor. I wish more movies focused on having characters you care about like you do for those in Minari. I just wanted this family’s farm to be successful so they could be happy & have an easier life!
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A bank teller discovers that he’s actually an NPC inside a brutal, open world video game.
I still haven’t gone to the cinema through the whole pandemic & have no plans to anytime soon but, man, we’re SO missing going to new movies!!! The last thing we all saw in the cinema together (me, hubby & kid) was Onward, which was a “meh” one to end on. So we decided to end the summer school break with a trip to a drive-in.
I was very lucky growing up as there was a great drive-in not far from my tiny American Midwest town (with great pizza!) but I know it’s a novelty in the U.K. They do outdoor showings of older movies here sometimes (saw The Greatest Showman that way) but, seriously, who wants to sit outdoors in shitty U.K. weather?! Too risky in rainy England! So it’s cool that some small drive-ins have popped up during the pandemic. And it didn’t even rain during Free Guy! Yay! They just need to start doing double features – that’s what it always was at the one in America. And it was cheap, too (but it was the ’80s/’90s so I’m sure the cost has gone up). At £30 a car here, it’s good for a couple of trips but we can’t do that regularly. Was worth the cost to see one movie in a year & a half, though.
Anyway. Enough reminiscing about my high school drive-in days (I was so annoyed with my boyfriend wanting to make-out the whole time – I wanted to watch the damn movies). Suppose I should talk about Free Guy?? I probably enjoyed it slightly more than I might have as I needed a movie fix so bad but I thought it was a lot of fun. I even giggled a few times! I’m not a LOL person. Ryan Reynolds is always likeable, of course, but I also really liked Jodie Comer’s character. She’s also more than “just the love interest” – Her role is as big & as important as Ryan’s. The idea itself was good but, admittedly, not the most original. We’ve seen the whole “living in a video game” thing quite a lot. But this movie brought enough of a new spin to the idea plus the romance was surprisingly good (especially at the end). It managed to be slightly unpredictable, which was cool.
Ryan & Jodie are the characters we see the most by far but there were some really good smaller roles too. I can’t say much as I want to avoid spoilers but “Dude” was the best. That’s what got the most giggles out of me (but I’m a little immature). Also liked Ryan’s best friend and that guy from Stranger Things wasn’t too bad despite his always weird hair. And Taika Waititi was as entertaining as always, playing an evil game developer. Plus there are several cameos that I won’t spoil. Yeah, it was lightweight entertainment but that’s exactly what we all needed. Scary that it’s going to end up pretty high on my list of 2021 U.K. releases! But I can’t see absolutely loving many of the upcoming 2021 films. Let’s see how Dune turns out…
Bonus late review today! I’m trying to put together my August roundup post & ended up writing too much about this one. So I’m posting it separately. Sorry for the rubbish review of such a classic… (I didn’t love it).
Once Upon A Time In America (1984)
Directed by Sergio Leone
Based on The Hoods by Harry Grey
Starring: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Tuesday Weld, Treat Williams
Music by Ennio Morricone
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Based on Harry Grey’s novel The Hoods, it chronicles the lives of best friends David “Noodles” Aaronson and Maximilian “Max” Bercovicz as they lead a group of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence as Jewish gangsters in New York City’s world of organized crime.
Being stuck in bed recuperating after a hospital stay made me decide to finally watch this almost-four-hour epic because what the hell else was I going to do with my time? It’s also a part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge so it gets another movie crossed off of that list.
Hmm. I admit that I didn’t love this one but the gangster film genre has never been a favorite of mine. I did think The Godfather I & II were good but have had no desire to rewatch them. And I’ve never even watched Casino because the violence in that sounds far too extreme for me. So I’m admittedly not the best audience for this film, which was also very violent and, er, way more rape-y than I was expecting. This won’t pass the Bechdel test! But I don’t believe in art being forced to follow some bullshit rules – This is just a warning that women aren’t treated well in this film but it’s probably an accurate representation of these violent sort of men with no morals.
I did appreciate how much time was spent showing us De Niro’s character’s past and liked the part of the film focusing on his childhood & his criminal friends the most. And, hey – Brian Bloom was in this as one of his childhood friends! He was a heartthrob in all the teen magazines I bought in the ’80s but I knew absolutely nothing he’d actually starred in (I should point out that he was also in the ridiculous “horror comedy?” The Stuff, which was horribly bad but is more my type of thing than gangster films). You almost started to care about these guys after seeing them grow up together and somehow stay loyal to each other as they became partners in crime. Almost. The characters were all truly horrible human beings and I struggle with films that have no sympathetic characters. Actually, Fat Moe was okay. Yay, Fat Moe! He was kind of likeable. Unfortunately, De Niro lost any sympathy I may have had for his character after his final “date” with the girl he claimed to love (played by Elizabeth McGovern).
Sorry for the negative sounding review! This is, admittedly, a very good and well-made film. Sergio Leone was a brilliant filmmaker. Oh, and this once again had an Ennio Morricone score. Of course. So I was very happy about that as I’m a big fan. I should point out that I really like Leone’s Dollars Trilogy (especially The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) and also far preferred Once Upon A Time In The West to In America. And those certainly aren’t passing some stupid test gauging how female characters are treated either – they’re just much more my style and I think they’re damn good films. Was hoping to like this one as much as those but do think this is as good as all the best of the gangster films that have been made.