The Lost Daughter, Don’t Look Up & Pig Reviews

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Opinion:

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

Pig (2021)

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.

My Opinion:

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!

My Rating: 7/10

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021) & Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019) Reviews

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.

My Opinion:

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)

Directed & Written by Céline Sciamma

Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Rating: 7.5/10

tick, tick… BOOM! (2021) Review

tick, tick… BOOM! (2021)

Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Based on Tick, Tick… Boom! by Jonathan Larson

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trees Lounge (1996) Review

Trees Lounge (1996)

Directed & Written by Steve Buscemi

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”.

My Opinion:

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…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Space Sweepers (2021) Review

Space Sweepers (승리호, 勝利號, Seungriho)

Directed by Jo Sung-hee

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.

My Opinion:

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).

My Rating: 7.5/10

Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935), The Wolf Man (1941) & The Invisible Man (1933) Reviews

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…

Dracula (1931)

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.

My Opinion:

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

Frankenstein (1931)

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Opinion:

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!

My Rating: 7/10

Society (1989) Review

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!

Society (1989)

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***

My Opinion:

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:

And 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………………
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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?

My Rating: 7.5/10

Happy shunting, everyone!

The Platform (2019) Review

The Platform (El hoyo) (2019)

Directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Willy’s Wonderland (2021) & Saint Maud (2019) Reviews

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Opinion:

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?

The Innocents (1961) Review

The Innocents (1961)

Directed by Jack Clayton

Based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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.

My Opinion:

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).

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

Les Diaboliques (1955)

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Based on She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

In Fabric (2018)

Directed & Written by Peter Strickland

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 5/10

Minari (2020) Review

Minari (Korean: 미나리) (2020)

Directed & Written by Lee Isaac Chung

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Free Guy (2021) Review

Free Guy (2021)

Directed by Shawn Levy

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Once Upon A Time In America (1984) Review

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

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on The Hoods by Harry Grey

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

Music by Ennio Morricone

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

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

Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)

Directed by Robert Hamer

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

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Seconds (1966)

Directed by John Frankenheimer

Based on Seconds, a novel by David Ely

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Hud (1963) Review

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

Hud (1963)

Directed by Martin Ritt

Based on Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

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

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021)

Directed by Mike Rianda

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

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Abominable (2019)

Directed & Written by Jill Culton

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

Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Production companies: DreamWorks Animation & Pearl Studio

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Hunt (2020) Review

The Hunt (2020)

Directed by Craig Zobel

Produced by Jason Blum & Damon Lindelof

Written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Invisible Man (2020) Review

The Invisible Man (2020)

Directed & Written by Leigh Whannell

Produced by Jason Blum & Kylie du Fresne

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

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Bloodsport (1988) Review

Bloodsport (1988)

Directed by Newt Arnold

Story by Sheldon Lettich

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

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

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

Sound Of Metal (2019)

Directed by Darius Marder

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

My Octopus Teacher (2020)

Directed by Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Feet Apart (2019)

Directed by Justin Baldoni

Starring: Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moisés Arias

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Knight Before Christmas (2019)

Directed by Monika Mitchell

Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Josh Whitehouse, Emmanuelle Chriqui

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

My Opinion:

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

My Rating: 5.5/10

Destination Wedding (2019)

Directed & Written by Victor Levin

Starring: Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves

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

My Opinion:

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

My Rating: 5/10

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Review

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Based on Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Knives Out (2019) Review

Knives Out (2019)

Directed & Written by Rian Johnson

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

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

Directed by James Mangold

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10