Four quickies before June! Three 2022 films & a crappy old Australian horror…
The Whale (2022)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Based on The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot follows a reclusive, morbidly obese English teacher who tries to restore his relationship with his teenage daughter.
Was prepared to hate this as not really an Aronofsky fan & this looked as depressing as Requiem For A Dream (which I’ll never watch again, but the score is a masterpiece & one I listen to a lot). This was definitely worth the watch for the fantastic performances from Brendan Fraser & Hong Chau, though. I had sympathy for them & cared about their characters. Unlike Sadie Sink‘s character – Good god was she hateful! The boy was an annoying shithead as well.
Fraser‘s performance is absolutely heartbreaking & his Oscar win was well deserved. I found this most similar to The Wrestler, which is the one other Aronofsky film I like okay but in both cases it was more for the brilliant performances from the main characters than for the movies themselves. Like Requiem For A Dream, however, I’d never want to sit through this one again. Unlike that one there is a slight feeling of hope in The Whale, though. But the look in Fraser‘s eyes broke my damn heart. So, yeah – a great performance indeed.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris (2022)
Directed by Anthony Fabian
Based on Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico
Starring: Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert, Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista, Lucas Bravo, Ellen Thomas, Rose Williams, Jason Isaacs
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A widowed cleaning lady in 1950s London falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress, and decides that she must have one of her own.
This was pretty delightful. I’m not a very girly girl but I was all “OMG give her the red dress!!!”. That dress was lovely. This is the very definition of a feelgood film. But I was disappointed when later looking it up to see it was first an Angela Lansbury movie?!? Adore her! Want to see that version now.
My Rating: 7/10
Ticket To Paradise (2022)
Directed by Ol Parker
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Kaitlyn Dever, Maxime Bouttier, Billie Lourd, Lucas Bravo
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) A romantic comedy film starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts as a divorced couple who team up to sabotage the impending wedding of their daughter in Bali.
Perfectly fine rom-com. Clooney & Roberts look great and work very well together. Predictable every step of the way but who cares? The whirlwind romance was as unbelievable as always in these type of movies. Pleasant & passed the time. I’ll forget it in a year.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Next Of Kin (1982)
Directed by Tony Williams
Starring: Jackie Kerin, John Jarratt, Gerda Nicolson, Alex Scott
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) In a rest home for elderly people, a daughter reads her mother’s diary. Soon events that are mentioned in the mother’s diary begin to happen to the daughter.
I watch this kind of stuff thinking it’ll be some hidden horror gem. Look at that great pulpy poster! And quite high Letterboxd rating! Took me a week to finish as I kept falling asleep out of sheer boredom. I guess it was fairly atmospheric but the story couldn’t have been more basic & the pacing was so slow & the “crazy ending” wasn’t that crazy but I suppose it just felt that way to some since fuck all happens until the final 20 minutes.
Disappointing. But I liked the very ‘80s style diner.
Starring: Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz, David Margulies
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film depicts the events leading up to the brutal murder of a New York City housewife (Dickinson) before following a prostitute (Allen) who witnesses the crime, and her attempts to solve it with the help of the victim’s son (Gordon). It contains several direct references to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho.
Oh I do love these mildly filthy ‘70s & ‘80s De Palma films. And I love how these sort of movies always show women taking steamy, sensual showers. Twice in this film! Always slowly soaping up their bits while moaning in pleasure. Yeah, we don’t take showers like that. Or maybe I’m doing something wrong? De Palma likes to murder these women or have tampons pelted at them after these steamy showers so I think I’ll stick to my boring, unsexy showers.
Anyway. I liked this. It very much fits in with his other work from that era, of which I’m a big fan. I think Carrie & Phantom Of The Paradise are great. This one isn’t nearly as good as those, of course, but is more along the lines of Sisters & The Fury (but with less “horror” and much more “horny”). I badly need to rewatch Blow Out & Body Double as I saw those at WAY too young of an age so don’t remember much now. I miss these sort of films & think I may be a bigger (old school) De Palma fan than I’ve realised. And then to also make something as fantastic as The Untouchables (and so very different from this type of stuff) is crazy.
Hooray for sleazy old ‘70s & ‘80s De Palma films! They can’t make movies like this anymore.
Starring: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider
Music by Howard Shore & Ornette Coleman
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally kills his wife, and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.
I’m a fan of Cronenberg but had never seen this so was glad to see it on services. It has a great noir look but I was slightly disappointed at first until the vagina-looking thing on the typewriter-bug started talking & then the penis-tentacles on the other bug started oozing & I was like “There’s the Cronenberg I love!”
The story is indeed bizarre, even more so than the original films written by Cronenberg himself. I liked it but it’s not up there with his other body horror for me, although I still prefer this kind of work to things such as A History Of Violence, etc. I mainly just wasn’t as into this story. I’ll blame William S. Burroughs for that, as I’ve loved other adaptations Cronenberg has done such as The Fly & The Dead Zone. I admit to having no knowledge of this work, though, so hope fans were happy with this adaptation. I did throughly enjoy the visuals I was expecting from the body horror master and am happy to say it’s yet another Cronenberg film I’ll never forget thanks to some imagery that will be stuck in my brain forever.
I’ll be totally honest on the story, though – I don’t know what the hell was going on but I’m too old & too tired to care enough to look into what his oozing & talking vaginas and penises were meant to represent THIS time. I think there may have been a little bit of “Be true to yourself” in there. Or not. I have no clue. But I like that idea. I’ll pretend that’s what the talking vagina bug was telling me. Besides the obvious “Don’t snort insecticide“. Which you’d think would be obvious but didn’t some people do similar thinking it would stop them getting Covid? Oh I love humans!
I’ve ranked all the Cronenberg films I’ve seen here. Yes, I need to explore more of his work besides just the body horror.
Starring: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw, Wolfgang Hübsch, Annika Meier, Falilou Seck, Jürgen Tarrach, Henriette Richter-Röhl, Monika Oschek
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) In order to obtain research funds for her studies, a scientist accepts an offer to participate in an extraordinary experiment: for three weeks, she is to live with a humanoid robot, created to make her happy.
Always love sci-fi films exploring AI & its dangers & what it means to be human. I’ll always watch this subgenre although it’s been done so much that the ideas have pretty much all been explored in previous films already.
I’d say this one brings something fairly new to the table, though, in really focusing on if we could have a truly meaningful relationship with a robot specifically built to be our ideal mate in every way. It’s certainly something to think about. So I could have a Chris Hemsworth-looking robot that pretends to be madly in love with me & caters to my every need?! Hmm. Several years ago I’d have gone “No thanks!” (I’ve seen The Terminator way too many times) but the human race is pissing me off so damn much lately that I’m thinking, you know, “Mayyyyyybe?”…
My Rating: 7.5/10
20th Century Girl (2022) (Korean: 20세기소녀)
Directed & Written by Bang Woo-ri
Starring: Kim Yoo-jung, Byeon Woo-seok, Park Jung-woo, Roh Yoon-seo
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) A South Korean film that depicts the friendship and freshness of first love against the backdrop of 1999.
My daughter really likes this South Korean romance drama & has watched it several times. Was so happy when she actually asked me to watch it with her! If you like overly dramatic teen romances, this one is well worth a watch. Very likeable characters & a good story. Will be shocked if they don’t do an annoyingly pointless American remake. If they do, watch the original instead.
But, man – these teens really need to learn how to communicate. Would have stopped so many misunderstandings in this. And those girls were soooo dramatic. That was cute, though. It’s a sweet film.
My Rating: 7/10
John And The Hole (2021)
Directed by Pascual Sisto
Based on El Pozo by Nicolás Giacobone
Starring: Charlie Shotwell, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle, Taissa Farmiga
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film revolves around a boy who discovers an unfinished bunker in the neighboring woods of his home.
Was intrigued despite the bad reviews as I wanted to know why a boy stuck his family down a hole. Unfortunately, when the film ended, I still wanted to know why a boy stuck his family down a hole.
Didn’t hate this movie, though, and still liked the idea. Just don’t go into it expecting an explanation. Do wonder if it has a deeper meaning that I missed. And I think it may be trying to say something about how much it sucks to be an adult? But it also might just be a movie about a boy who stuck his family down a hole.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Will Poulter, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion, Sylvester Stallone
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) In the film, the Guardians embark on a mission to protect Rocket (Cooper) from the High Evolutionary (Iwuji).
The Guardians Of The Galaxy films are my favorite of the MCU, probably as they’re a little different & I’m not a huge Marvel fan overall although I do enjoy the movies. So was very much looking forward to this. Enjoyed seeing my favorite characters again but found this disappointing compared to the first two films. I like the GOTG as they’re fun & I far prefer my superhero films to be fun and more lightweight than the dreariness we get from that other comic movie universe. Some heavy stuff still happens in these but the humor & soundtracks are great.
Although Vol 3 still had the humor & the songs, the loss of Gamora obviously had an effect on that sense of fun. And, not gonna lie, I miss the OG Groot & especially adorable Baby Groot. My favorite of the Guardians, he was given very little to do in this one & I also missed seeing his relationship with Rocket in this. As for Rocket, his backstory was good and added a lot to his character but it was so dark and depressing and, yes, I also missed his smart ass wisecracks even though I know the whole point is for him to stop being that way with his best friends who he loves. Think Drax & Mantis are underrated & did like what they did with them in Vol 3. Loved Cosmo. Good dog!
I think the biggest problem was the story & the villains in this. Although it was good for Rocket’s development, I wasn’t feeling that story overall and absolutely hated the villain. Obviously, as he’s evil. But I mean I thought he was a rubbish character & his annoying overacting was terrible. And my god that one bit with him was gross plus the whole Rocket story was very upsetting. I know they aim these at the now-adults who grew up on them but I think they need to remember that kids love these movies too (I say that as a fan of Gunn’s work such as Slither). The Adam Warlock character was also a bit rubbish, although he does improve.
I just think all the stories going on in this were weak & a bit messy when all I wanted was to get more time with these great characters interacting with each other. The story got in the way. We barely got to see Rocket or Groot with the others and of course things can’t be the same with Gamora, making Star-Lord sad the whole time. I don’t think we got a great goodbye for these characters. I know they can’t all have perfect, happy endings and I’m fine with that as I love bittersweet – I just wanted to see them all together a bit more for this one last time.
Oh well. As I said, I still really enjoyed seeing these characters again & the first two films still top my MCU ranking. Because of the characters, I have Vol 3 ranked quite high (currently in the top ten if I don’t change my mind). But, if it wasn’t for them being my favorites, this film would rank far lower if I was honest. It’s not the great film the reviews would suggest. Certainly not the worst of the MCU, but somewhere in the middle.
Happy Friday! 🙂 Ending the week with some good films I watched this month.
In The Mood For Love (2000) (Chinese: 花樣年華, 花样年华)
Directed & Written by Wong Kar-wai
Starring: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It portrays a man (Tony Leung) and a woman (Maggie Cheung) whose spouses have an affair together and who slowly develop feelings for each other.
Been desperate to see this for years as it’s compared to Brief Encounter, which I love, because nothing beats intense sexual tension. Far sexier than any actual sex scenes. This film looks beautiful and my god her outfits were gorgeous. I wanted this couple to live happily ever after together so bad. Great film. Was hoping to instantly adore it a bit more but am thinking it’s one that will grow on me even more in retrospect. I know it’s one that will certainly stay on my mind.
My Rating: 8/10
I couldn’t find a better image but the above dress changed color as she moved & it was amazing…
La Haine (1995)
Directed & Written by Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film chronicles a day and night in the lives of three friends from a poor immigrant neighbourhood in the suburbs of Paris. The title derives from a line spoken by one of them, Hubert: “La haine attire la haine!”, “hatred breeds hatred”.
This was very good and one I wasn’t expecting to fully appreciate as I find it difficult to watch movies with unsympathetic characters. But it beautifully captured social injustice & the resulting civil unrest. Feels just as relevant today, especially as things continue to get even more extreme in parts of America. I really felt for the character of Hubert, who made an effort & just wanted a better life. Loved the film’s strong & deeply affecting ending – it’s one of those endings that will stay with you. I watched this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project and am glad the project has made me see films like this that I otherwise may have not chosen to watch.
I’ve ranked this fairly high in my list of all foreign films I’ve seen here (excluding anime which is in its own list here).
My Rating: 8/10
I Want To Eat Your Pancreas (2018) (Japanese: 君の膵臓をたべたい, Kimi no Suizō o Tabetai)
Directed by Shinichiro Ushijima
Based on I Want to Eat Your Pancreas by Yoru Sumino
Was eager to see this cherry-blossom-in-your-face YA anime version of the teen-romance-with-terminal-illness subgenre as I love anime & still enjoy YA romance at my advanced age & that poster looked so pretty but, mainly, I loved the title. The title is explained & it’s pretty sweet & everything about this film is typical YA anime romance. Meaning the teens are far too dramatic and borderline annoying (especially the girl) but it has that anime charm that I always enjoy. So I liked this one a lot although it’s certainly not up there with the very best of the YA anime romance films from Makoto Shinkai, whose work this most resembles. So certainly watch this if you like his stuff but I’d also recommend all of Shinkai‘s work including 5 Centimeters Per Second, which this most reminded me of probably thanks to the cherry blossoms. Must admit I’m a sucker for those gorgeous cherry blossoms.
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Michael Wincott, Brandon Perea, Keith David
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as horse-wrangling siblings attempting to capture evidence of an unidentified flying object.
Still trying to decide how I feel about this movie. I liked it (I think) but I also think it’s a bit of a mess. Actually, I think it may be more than “a bit” of a mess but Jordan Peele seems to be one of those current directors who everyone thinks is a genius & can do no wrong (such as Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, etc etc). I have mixed feelings on all their work but the one thing I do like is their originality. I am so bored with sequels, reboots, and superheroes. I want original stories & to have a film actually surprise me sometimes. So I give directors such as these credit for that even though I don’t always like their films.
I like Peele’s ideas. While I wasn’t fully on the Get Out bandwagon, I can see what people saw in it. However, I think Us was pretty great & deserves more credit than it seems to get – I rewatched that again recently & it went up a lot in my estimation. I did find some of that story too messy as well, though, with too many things that didn’t add up. But it sure as hell was an original story, so I love that about it. It’s like Peele is almost there on making a truly brilliant horror film. The potential is there. The storylines need to be tighter.
Nope was a step backwards. While there were parts of it that I liked (the chimp storyline & the design of the reveal of the thing I don’t want to spoil), I think for the most part it’s… kind of a bad film? I feel like, if this was from a different director, it would have been trashed by critics. How can this have a slightly higher rating than Us on Letterboxd? Or am I missing something? I suppose he was going for the “bad ’50s UFO sci-fi movie” thing, which I do appreciate. There’s nothing I love more than sci-fi and I dig that he’s done this funky sci-fi UFO horror thing. It’s why I did still enjoy this movie & am giving it a decent rating despite thinking it’s a mess & not actually very good. But, again, it’s quite an original story so I’m still going to take that over all the sequels, reboots & superheroes. It was far too slow, though. I have patience but it took a very long time for this film to finally get interesting. It’s not a good thing when a movie feels far longer than it actually is. I’m also not sure what point it was trying to make or if it didn’t have much of a message this time and we were just expecting that because of his previous films. And I’d have liked to see much more of the “inside” (trying to avoid spoilers here). I liked that bit a lot. Nice & weird. It gave me brief Under The Skin vibes. We needed more of that weirdness.
I don’t want to ramble on about Nope forever. I’ll leave it here for now as maybe I’ll change my mind on it like I did with Us. I just re-read my Us review and I was pretty lukewarm on that one at first. I can’t see this one going up in my estimation like that did, though. I can’t even see ever wanting to rewatch this to see if my opinion changes so that’s not a good sign as I very happily rewatched Us. I’ll just say that lately I don’t have the time or energy to do long reviews like I used to do on my blog but, sometimes, I end up writing a lot if I find a movie interesting. This is especially true with divisive films – I wrote quite a bit about Ari Aster’s Hereditary & Midsommar. I always prefer divisive films to the many boring films. I like that Peele’s films are thought-provoking in the same way as Aster’s but more palatable. I have yet to really love a film from either director, though. I appreciate their work more than I actually like their work. I think I could love one someday but it’s a nope for Nope being that one.
My Rating: 7/10(I think I’m being too generous)
Was going to post this with two other movie reviews I’ve done but then this ended up so long I decided to do it as a separate post. So later today I’ll post my double review of two very worthy silent films from the 1920s. Nope felt out of place in the same post as those anyway…
I’ve managed to already review all the movies I’ve watched this month. Yay, me! So I decided to post them all this week instead of waiting for my monthly roundup post.
Three quickies below. One movie I quite liked, one movie I thought was a bit dull but had a good performance, and one movie I think I kind of hated. Of course, the one I liked the most is the one that had no Oscar nominations.
Where The Crawdads Sing (2022)
Directed by Olivia Newman
Based on Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer, Jr., Jojo Regina, Garret Dillahunt, Ahna O’Reilly, David Strathairn
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The story follows an abandoned yet defiant girl, Kya, who raises herself to adulthood in a North Carolina marshland, becoming a naturalist in the process. When the town’s hotshot is found dead, she is the prime suspect and is tried for murder.
How is Marsh Girl less socially awkward than I am?!
This is one of those movies I really liked but can’t explain why. Some of it is ridiculous. “Marsh Girl” is far too pretty & miraculously smart & of course learns how to read in a heartwarming montage & accomplishes far more in life than most of us ever will. But I liked her and I liked the nice boyfriend & the couple from the town who helped her and I liked the story. That’s good enough for me. And I always like when assholes get what they deserve. Hell yeah. And I loved the ending. One of the better films I’ve seen so far this year.
My Rating: 7.5/10
To Leslie (2022)
Directed by Michael Morris
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Andre Royo, Owen Teague, Stephen Root, James Landry Hebert, Marc Maron, Allison Janney
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Andrea Riseborough as Leslie Rowland, a single mother and alcoholic who squanders all the prize money she received after winning the lottery. She soon finds the chance to redeem herself when a motel owner offers her a job.
Had to see what all the fuss was about. Am a bit baffled by the huge amount of celebrity praise as it’s a quite average “addiction movie” that we’ve seen many times. Think Andrea Riseborough was worthy of her Oscar nomination, though, as she did give a really good performance. She was especially good in the second half of the movie, which was much better than its very slow start. Worth checking out for Riseborough and for the second half of the film, which ended up winning me over with a strong ending.
My Rating: 7/10
Triangle Of Sadness (2022)
Directed & Written by Ruben Östlund
Starring: Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Dolly de Leon, Zlatko Burić, Iris Berben, Vicki Berlin, Henrik Dorsin, Jean-Christophe Folly, Amanda Walker, Oliver Ford Davies, Sunnyi Melles, Woody Harrelson
Plot Synopsis: Rich people suck. And vomit. And shit.
I now have a least favorite Best Picture nominee out of the six I’ve seen this year. EEAAO was my previous least favorite so I’m feeling very out of touch as I can’t quite figure out what people saw in these. What am I missing?
This started out okay in Part 1. Charlbi Dean (RIP) & Harris Dickinson played the only characters I almost gave a shit about. Okay, I know we’re meant to hate them all but do we really need so many movies stating the fucking obvious about the rich? Society is never going to change. I guess I’d just rather watch them get eaten by zombies in Land Of The Dead or something than see them vomiting & shitting all over the place. Or, speaking of society, I’d rather watch Society (1989). I thought The Menu was a bit of a mess but Triangle made me appreciate that similar story a bit more, although I think they both failed to make much of a point and aren’t as clever as they think. And I’d heard that this one was fun? It was far too long & I kept checking how much time was remaining once the puking & shitting started (there’s still loads of time left after that). It’s probably the least fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long time.
Okay, I wasn’t a fan of this movie but I didn’t absolutely hate it. I did like Charlbi Dean & Harris Dickinson as mentioned. And I thought Woody Harrelson was pretty great, although he’s played this sort of drunk dude so many times (but he’s so good at that so that’s fine). And, like most everyone, I also liked Dolly de Leon and the whole “I’m the Captain” thing in Part 3. That was good. So I’ve given an extra half a star for these four people. The bad just far outweighed the good in this film for me. Part 1 & 3 were bearable but I thought Part 2 would never end. I’m glad I watched it as I try to watch all the Best Picture nominees but I wouldn’t want to suffer through this one a second time.
Starring: Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, Ray Liotta
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It is loosely inspired by the true story of the “Cocaine Bear”, an American black bear that ingested nearly 75 lb (34 kg) of lost cocaine.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. But it wasn’t good. I absolutely love horror comedy & this was unfortunately very weak in comparison to the really great movies we’ve had in this genre. It could’ve used a lot more comedy & stronger characters.
But, dammit, I still got plenty of enjoyment out of seeing a bear high on cocaine and a couple of moments did get a laugh out of me. With this great of a story & movie title, it’s just a shame the movie wasn’t the brilliant masterpiece it could’ve been. I’m giving it a half point more than it probably deserves but… it’s a movie called Cocaine Bear for crying out loud. With a bear covered in cocaine on the poster. I have to give it an extra half point just for that (plus I like Keri Russell).
My Rating: 7/10
Boston Strangler (2023)
Directed & Written by Matt Ruskin
Starring: Keira Knightley, Carrie Coon, Alessandro Nivola, Chris Cooper, David Dastmalchian, Morgan Spector
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It is based on the true story of the Boston Strangler, who in the 1960s killed 13 women in Boston.
Thought this was a bit too good for straight-to-streaming. Weirdly, the one genre I tend to dislike the most is “murder” – specifically movies based on true crime murders (serial killers especially) or inspired by them. It leaves me left out of a lot of conversations when most people love watching true crime stuff on Netflix. And I may be the only person, certainly in the film community at least, who doesn’t love The Silence Of The Lambs & never even finished watching Zodiac.
However, I liked this movie far more than I was expecting despite it being in this genre. It may be because it didn’t dwell or linger too much on the murders and wasn’t too graphic. It was more from the viewpoint of these two female reporters trying to cover this story & of course encountering difficulties being women in that profession back in the 1960s. The mystery was intriguing, too (I knew nothing of the true story). Am a bit confused by the somewhat low rating on Letterboxd as I would think true crime fans would still like this one based on it being a fascinating murder mystery. Maybe some just don’t like the story being told through these reporters? I liked that approach & liked this more than some films in this genre that feel far too exploitative when it comes to true crime with real victims.
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Mason Gooding, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Jenna Ortega, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, Samara Weaving, Hayden Panettiere, Courteney Cox
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Scream VI follows a new Ghostface killer who targets the survivors of the “Woodsboro legacy attacks” in New York City.
I think the first Scream film is a brilliant slasher classic. I saw 2, 3 & 4 when they came out but have never rewatched them & admit I remember almost nothing about them now. As a series, Elm Street is my slasher franchise of choice (Wes Craven obviously knew how to make these). As with pretty much all horror sequels, both the Elm Street & Scream ones didn’t even come close to the first film (well, except for Dream Warriors which kicks ass) but I do remember the Scream ones still being much better than the majority of slasher sequels (I’ll rewatch them someday).
So, with little knowledge of 2, 3 & 4, I’d say this reboot (or requel if I must use that stupid word) has worked quite well for me and I think Scream 5 was a very good introduction of the Scream series to a new generation of younger fans. They’ve stayed pretty respectful to the original characters (more than I can say for the Star Wars sequel trilogy!) and the new characters are decent. Both 5 & 6 are a little too “same old same old” but that’s what people tend to want from a slasher franchise and I don’t think this formula is too boring yet. Didn’t like the look hubby gave me when they mentioned Letterboxd users, though. Ha. Nice one, Scream VI! You know your shit.
At first, I was maybe enjoying this one a little more than number 5 and I liked the city setting (which they could have done SO much more with) but this one fell apart for me at the end. Not my favourite “reveal” in this series. Wouldn’t say I loved the end of 5 either, though, but to be honest I’m almost always disappointed by horror movie endings – they’re rarely perfect. Overall, I think 5 was a stronger film but they’re both a good start to some new Scream films & I look forward to another.
With the Oscars being on tonight, I figured I’d quickly post these reviews of a few more Oscar nominated films. Will do a full post later today with all the nominees & links to all my reviews of the 23 nominees I’ve seen.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Kelvin Harrison Jr., David Wenham, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Luke Bracey
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It chronicles the life of the American rock and roll singer and actor Elvis Presley under the management of Colonel Tom Parker.
Really liked this but, wow – how can some of this be so great & some of it so absolutely dreadful? Definitely an example of a performance highly deserving of an Oscar but a movie that is not.
I should start by saying that I know almost nothing about Elvis. Despite being a big music & movie lover, I’ve never liked many of his songs & have never seen his films. So, no, I can’t say how accurate these performances truly are, especially Hanks as I only know ”of” Colonel Tom Parker. But damn I thought Austin Butler was amazing. If he doesn’t win an Oscar but a rather rubbish version of Freddie Mercury did (and a really good version of Elton John wasn’t even nominated), I’ll be very annoyed. He oozes charisma & sex appeal in this film and I think he really captures the crazy effect that Elvis had on sexually repressed ‘50s America. He makes this movie. He feels like a star, which you need if you’re going to play someone as big as Elvis. I was impressed with how well he did as young Elvis as well as an older Elvis with many personal demons. Knew only a little of how much Elvis had been taken advantage of so found the ending quite heartbreaking and would say I appreciate the story of the life of this megastar a little bit more now. Know a documentary would be much more accurate, though, as I’m sure Luhrmann has taken many liberties with the facts.
To quickly get the dreadful out of the way: Baz Luhrmann & Tom Hanks. For the most part, I don’t get on with Luhrmann’s films. I appreciate his style when it works but it often doesn’t. Found a lot of it just plain cringy in Elvis and the mixing in of modern music, which I know is his thing and is okay sometimes, was terrible in this. It was annoying and threw me out of the film a few times. And then there was Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. Oh boy. As I said, I know nothing about the real man but if he was truly as awful as this film makes him out to be (sounds like that’s the case), why did this story get told through him? The character was so obnoxious (did he actually talk like that?!) and we had to listen to him telling this story through the whole damn movie. I guess it kind of makes sense as he was so controlling of Elvis that he didn’t get to live his own life because of Parker. Maybe that’s why Luhrmann made the decision to have the story told through him but I just wanted more of Butler and WAY less of Hanks. I’ve never disliked Hanks before! So Luhrmann must be partly to blame.
Oh well. The movie itself could’ve been much better but Butler was so fantastic & the story of Elvis is so fascinating that I still got a lot of enjoyment out of the film. Well worth the watch despite its big flaws, even if like me you’re not really a fan of Elvis Presley.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (2021)
Directed by Dean Fleischer Camp
Starring: Jenny Slate, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Dean Fleischer Camp, Lesley Stahl, Isabella Rossellini
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It is based on a series of shorts of the same name written by Slate and Fleischer Camp. Slate reprises her voice role as Marcel, an anthropomorphic shell living with his grandmother Connie.
Was eager to see this as it very much looked like my kind of thing (heartwarming & adorable – I love that shit plus adore cute anthropomorphic things). With the Pixar Oscar nominee being so disappointing this year, I was expecting to like Marcel the most but Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is easily my favorite & the one I think deserves to win.
Still enjoyed Marcel but was a little underwhelmed by the story. And although it was a clever idea, the way it was presented as a documentary didn’t quite work for me and I can see why this probably worked better in the original shorts (if they were done that way?) than it did in this full-length film. Marcel was very cute, Jenny Slate’s voice was perfect, and his relationship with his grandmother was very sweet. For me, the movie slightly crossed the line into being a little too saccharine & trying a bit too hard. Did enjoy seeing the inventive ways of doing things that Marcel & his grandmother had to find to live their lives once they found themselves alone. And liked it showing how horrible society has become in this social media obsessed world (without being preachy about it).
It’s a nice film & my second favorite of this year’s Animated nominees but it may not be saying much as I think the other two I’ve seen are not very good at all (not seen Puss In Boots). I didn’t find Marcel as moving as I was hoping. It’s nowhere near the very best animated films from the studios I love the most (Studio Ghibli, Pixar & Disney). Am disappointed that Pixar have been so unreliable with their recent films and am missing the emotion we got from their very best stuff.
I’ve watched every Marvel movie (ranked here) and do enjoy them but I’m not a massive fan and it’s feeling like an obligation to watch them now. Would’ve been happy for them to stop at Endgame – the films are seeming more & more messy and pointless now.
With all of these films, I like the characters much more than the stories themselves & that was especially true of this film. The MCU has done a fantastic job developing some fascinating characters. The women in this are great. Letitia Wright & Danai Gurira were so much fun to watch & I liked their interactions with each other. Lupita Nyong’o was as brilliant as always as was Angela Bassett who definitely has a shot at winning that Oscar tonight. And the introduction of Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams was a nice addition – would’ve liked a bit more to do with her. So this one was off to a good start with strong characters. They obviously had a huge hole to fill and not having Chadwick Boseman is still heartbreaking but I thought they did well with handling that.
Then it turned into the same MCU formula we always get. Which, fine, I get it – That’s what people want. Why mess with something so many people clearly love & is making them tons of money? But I often lose interest in these films halfway through when the same old fight scenes & the same old storylines occur plus this was FAR longer than it needed to be, which didn’t help. Although I care most about liking the main characters, it helps if I also buy into the story & the obligatory villain. The story wasn’t too bad but those blue Avatar-looking fuckers & boring-Aquaman ankle-wings dude weren’t working for me. I completely lost interest in the middle this time. I just wanted to get back to seeing the main kick-ass female characters together. The middle of this just went off the deep end (literally).
So I’m mixed on this one. Good characters but overall a bit of a mess. But, as I say, I’m not a huge MCU fan so I’m going to be a bit more negative. I admit I like the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies the most so I obviously just like my superhero movies to be a bit more fun & lightweight than this one. It’s why I far prefer the MCU to current DC films.
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Men stars Jessie Buckley as a widowed woman who travels on holiday to a countryside village but becomes disturbed and tormented by the strange men in the village, all portrayed by Rory Kinnear.
I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror.
I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained.
Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022.
Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Dayo Okeniyi, Andrea Bang, Brett Dier
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot follows a young woman who starts dating a charming man, only to discover his horrifying true nature.
I’m always surprised to see these 18/R rated films popping up on Disney Plus in the U.K. Well, I was happy to see this one available as there’s been a lot of hype about it on Film Twitter plus it sounded weird & I like weird.
It’s kind of weird but certainly not the most bizarre film I’ve seen. I think they’ve made it pretty obvious what the film is about but I’ll still try to stay spoiler-free. So the overall plot wasn’t a surprise but I think they did something fairly original with the idea & I liked the acting in this & how the story was presented. Also, girls have been ooohing & aaahing over Sebastian Stan for years & I wasn’t really seeing the appeal. I think I’m starting to like him now after this & after Pam & Tommy. Don’t know what that says about me?! I should point out that I didn’t like Tommy Lee as a person in that show or ever in real life. While watching it I was thinking “I actually didn’t realize this guy was such a dick!” so that’s not me going for the bad boys or something – I just think Stan came across as having a lot of fun in these two roles. I also saw some interviews with him & he seems really likeable so it’s a nice plus when celebs aren’t horrible people.
I also really liked Daisy Edgar-Jones in this. I had to look her up as I’ve not seen her in anything before. Looks like she’s mostly been in English TV. So I guess she must not actually sound American as she was raised in England with Scottish & Irish parents?! I have to say that I never notice actors putting on American accents so it must be really easy to sound American or something? But I’m rubbish with accents. Wait, she DID sound American in this, right?! Ha. I dunno. But she was good in this role & I think she has this vulnerable sort of look that worked really well for this character. You can see how she’d so easily fall for the handsome & charming Sebastian Stan character after some very bad dates with men she meets through dating services.
I didn’t love this film but I did enjoy it and I can see why the younger generation seem to be the ones going for it. It follows a twentysomething who just wants to find a nice guy but is meeting nothing but jerks through dating apps. The movie starts off showing us one of her disastrous dates with an irritating, cheap & inconsiderate asshole. She tells her friend (another good character, played by Jojo T. Gibbs) that she’s had enough of this shit (well, I don’t think she said that exact thing) but then she meets lovely Sebastian Stan in a supermarket. In real life! And she comments that she didn’t think real life meetings happened anymore & I have to say that I feel no sympathy for 20/30 somethings most of the time but do think it must be awful mainly living life online & having to date in that way. Okay – I also feel kind of sorry for them having to grow up with shitty music.
Well, this movie is hard to discuss while staying spoiler-free so I’ll just say that things get pretty crazy after our attractive main characters meet. I liked how this movie started out feeling like a sweet rom-com before turning into a dark comedy horror. I also see this was written & directed by women (I’m guessing, going by the names so correct me if I’m wrong) and I liked seeing this story from a female perspective. For example, her first disastrous date felt really relatable in that I think all women watching would agree that the guy was a total dick while some men watching might wonder what was wrong with the guy. The whole movie, I suppose, is a social commentary on dating and the relationship between men & women. Yes, I guess that’s pretty obvious but I didn’t feel it was forcing an agenda or anything like that. That would annoy me. Sometimes you just gotta enjoy a cleverly written, f*^ked up horror comedy & not overanalyze things.
My Rating: 7/10
*I could maybe be talked into giving this a 7.5. Will wait until I see more 2022 films to see how this compares.*
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Annabelle Wallis as a woman who begins to have visions of people being murdered, only to realize the events are happening in real life.
I’d been desperate to see this movie after all the hype last year so was really happy when it popped up on one of my services over the weekend. I enjoyed it. Sadly, it wasn’t nearly as bonkers as I was hoping & expecting from all the talk about it. Have people just not seen any other horror films before this one? The story ended up being about exactly what I thought it was going to be about. But, hey – it’s what I was hoping it would be about since I have a weird fascination with that concept.
It’s very hard to talk about this movie while staying spoiler-free! But I’ll do my best to not spoil it for those who have not yet seen this. I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of James Wan’s work but, wow, it looks like I’ve seen most everything he’s written or directed so I must like his stuff okay. I thought The Conjuring was pretty good & I have to remind myself that I really liked the first Saw film before it turned into the torture porn crap I despise in the sequels. Stuff like those Insidious, Annabelle & The Nun movies, though, are a bit meh. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about Malignant & where I’d rank it compared to his other work. I guess I’d put it above those “meh” ones I mentioned. It was more entertaining & memorable than those & I appreciated its craziness.
From what I’d heard about this being “Giallo-inspired”, I was expecting much more than what we got of that. Having rewatched Suspiria (1977) recently, I realized just how much I love the style of that. I’m a sucker for amazing visuals & I love that about the Argento films. Maybe a few shots in Malignant pay tribute to that style but I wouldn’t compare the film to the small amount of Italian horror that I’ve seen. So I was disappointed to not be getting a full-on ’70s-style horror with Malignant but I appreciated it being more stylish than Wan’s other films.
I also think, with this story’s crazy concept, they didn’t get the tone quite right. The movie took itself a bit too seriously. Although, I’m sure that worked for many people and I can’t really think what they could’ve done better? They took a concept suited for cheesy body horror in the style of Re-Animator, etc, and… Hell, I don’t know. Maybe this movie did kind of work in the style they used. I’ll say this again: I’m old. I’ve seen many movies. I sometimes have to remind myself that current, younger audiences (especially mainstream audiences – movie bloggers are different) haven’t necessarily seen this type of horror story before so I guess I can see why they’d be shocked by the film’s reveal & why so many hardcore horror fans liked this movie. Being a fan of cheesy old body horror, especially Cronenberg’s older films, I guess I have come to expect a different sort of style for this type of horror. I’d say I like my horror to either be very serious, creepy & atmospheric or else I like them to be completely outrageous & silly (I love horror comedies). Malignant is somewhere in the middle of those. I think it maybe could’ve just used some more dark humor but, while writing this paragraph, I’ve talked myself into liking that this isn’t a cheesy old-school body horror. That’s not what a mainstream modern audience are going to go for, either.
Ugh. This is why I mostly stick to my monthly roundup posts with brief reviews in recent years. I ramble on too damn much when I do a review on its own! I’ve blathered on for ages & I’m still not sure how I feel about Malignant. I wanted to love it as it looked SO like my type of thing & I thought it had a fantastic poster. I love a good movie poster! I guess it didn’t quite live up to my really high expectations & I’m trying to convince myself that I liked it by blathering on about it for ages. You know what? I did still like it.
Here’s what I liked:
1. This type of story is right up my alley (hmm – that sounds dirty). I was happy it was what I expected but it also would’ve been nice to be surprised.
2. The characters were quite good for a horror film! The sister & that one detective dude were especially likeable. And I’d say I kind of gave a shit about poor Annabelle Wallis’s main character too. It’s always more enjoyable to me to not have the hateful characters we get in too many horror films.
3. How do I say this & stay spoiler-free?!?! Hmm. I really liked the backwards thing. This story is NOT original but it found a way to differentiate itself a bit from other movies & TV shows that had this same story. And the backwards thing was pretty cool & a lot of fun. This movie got much better after the reveal. I think it needed to be batshit crazy much earlier in the film.
Okay – I’ve talked myself into liking this one. Or at least appreciating it more. I didn’t love it like I’d been hoping but it was certainly entertaining. It could’ve been better but at least it’s more memorable than Wan’s Insidious/Annabelle/Nun things. Let’s hope they don’t try to milk it by making a shitty sequel as this is good as a stand-alone film.
Two quick reviews of two weird movies before I post my January Roundup post…
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan
Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Some Creepy Kid
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.
Wow, this was pretty fucking weird. So, since I love weird, I really enjoyed it. And, like most weird movies, I’d be very hesitant to actually recommend it to anyone as they’d hate it & probably think I was a weirdo. Which I am but, you know, I try to hide that in real life…
Here I am watching an Imogen Poots movie again. Why do I seem to watch all her movies?? *Poots!* Jesse Eisenberg is in this too. Man I hate him but, whatever – I don’t care too much who is in a movie anyway as I care more about the story & the overall movie itself so I guess he was tolerable. I really liked this story and the look of all the identical houses in this eerie neighborhood that the couple find themselves trapped in & unable to escape after a creepy “real estate agent dude” brings them there to show them a house.
It’s a bizarre film and I suppose part of the reason I liked it was that it had a Twilight Zone vibe & that (original series) TV show will forever be my absolute favorite. Adore it. This movie reminds me of one very specific Twilight Zone episode where a couple wake up in an empty town (Stopover In A Quiet Town is the episode if you’re curious. A classic!). So I loved the feel of this film. It was bonkers & unsettling & the kid in it gave me the absolute creeps. And I’m still not 100% sure what the hell was going on or what the point of the whole thing was but it was certainly one of the more entertaining stories I’ve seen in a while. I guess it was about being stuck in suburbia & doing exactly what society expects of you.
If you love The Twilight Zone or maybe a bit of Black Mirror or if you just like your films to be weird & unpredictable because like me you watch too many movies & get bored seeing the same old shit, it might be worth checking this one out (I saw it on Film4). You might hate it. You might love it. You probably won’t forget it. And the kid might haunt your nightmares.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Dave Made A Maze (2017)
Directed by Bill Watterson
Starring: Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Kirsten Vangsness, Stephanie Allynne, James Urbaniak, Scott Krinsky, Adam Busch, John Hennigan
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film centers on the titular Dave who builds a cardboard fort that somehow supernaturally houses an entire labyrinth full of deadly traps and creatures.
Another weird film that I also, of course, enjoyed. I’m a creep! I’m a weeeeeiiiiiiirdooooooo! Amazon Prime had been pushing this on me for a while & I suddenly decided to give it a try one day when I noticed it was only 80 minutes (I’m not one of these “I can’t watch long movies!” people – I just don’t have much spare time). Again, like Vivarium, I loved the concept. This artist dude builds a maze of cardboard boxes & gets lost and trapped inside it as it grows & takes on a life of its own. His girlfriend enlists the help of some of their friends to go in after him but they of course end up trapped too.
It’s a fun film and a mix of genres (fantasy, adventure, comedy & horror according to Wikipedia). The characters are pretty likeable & the “horror” is only comedy horror with some funny cartoonish blood. Where Vivarium made me think of a good Twilight Zone episode, the synopsis of this one made me think of an absolutely fantastic short story called Voluntary Committal by Joe Hill in his collection 20th Century Ghosts (which I highly recommend if you like good short stories). They’re very different stories overall but I like the concept of a spooky maze made out of boxes, I guess. Anyway – this is a fun film & the plot is unique so check it out on Amazon Prime if you want a short film with a quirky sense of humor.
Another quick trio of reviews of 2021 releases before I do my December roundup post. Liked these a lot more than the three I reviewed earlier today. Two of these are also probably going to make my 2021 Top Ten list I’ll try to post later this week. I keep moving stuff around on that list a lot… We’ll see!
Don’t Look Up (2021)
Directed by Adam McKay
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization.
Watched this yesterday (but I’m logging it as a 2021 watch!). Really glad I finished out the year with this one as I’ve found the 2021 releases on services to be very disappointing but I enjoyed this one a lot. Between this and The Lost Daughter, which I watched on the 31st, I’m happy to have two more movies probably making it into my 2021 Top Ten list.
Wasn’t sure what I’d think of this as I’ve not been big on any of Adam McKay’s other films but, for me, this is easily his best. I thought it would be extremely political & too far-left in that typical Hollywood way as, according to Wikipedia, “The comet is an analogy for climate change and the film is a satire of government and media indifference to the climate crisis.” There’s nothing I hate more than an overly preachy movie! But it didn’t feel preachy to me & I got some good laughs out of the comedy in this. I thought the satire was pretty clever and, although they say it’s about how how shit the governments & media are, I thought it also perfectly displayed what a bunch of fucking morons the entire human race has become. I always enjoy “humans suck” satire (also a fan of Idiocracy, although I wish that film was better). It was scary how accurate this film was on how the general population would react if told we’re all going to die when a comet hits Earth. There would be as many comet-deniers as there are Covid-deniers. I would have thought this film was exaggerating things just five years ago or so (but I also wrongly thought Idiocracy was exaggerated at the time). People being more bothered about a celebrity breakup than our impending doom is SO FUCKING ACCURATE.
I also really enjoyed all the performances in this. Movies with huge star ensembles like this don’t always work for me as I sometimes find so many big names to be distracting & can take away from the story but I thought everyone was perfectly cast in this. Leonardo DiCaprio was good, of course, but I liked that it felt like quite a different role for him. And I loved that his wife was, like, the same age as him! Also really liked Jennifer Lawrence’s character and loved how she became just another meme for media-obsessed society. Also loved her obsession with the free snacks… Meryl Streep was pretty damn hilarious as a hateful self-absorbed president & I thought Jonah Hill was funny (although I can see that one role being the most divisive). And Mark Rylance was fantastic as a typical billionaire genius/idiot. I can’t call if this movie will have any acting Oscar nominations or if it’ll be completely ignored as comedy often is by the Academy. Or if they’ll only nominate Streep as usual. I think it deserves recognition, though, and I enjoyed it far more than his Oscar-nominated The Big Short.
I’ve avoided reviews & discussion of this movie but get the impression that people are pretty divided? Not sure why as I thought it was easily one of the better films I’ve managed to see this year. Maybe the truth hurts?
My Rating: 7.5/10
The Lost Daughter (2021)
Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal
Based on The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
Starring: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Domińczyk, Jack Farthing, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.
I also liked this film a lot. I’d maybe say it’s actually better than Don’t Look Up but is obviously a much more serious film & I had more “fun” watching Don’t Look Up.
The acting is great in this, especially from Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley. I’m not an Olivia Colman fan (I’m actually enjoying The Crown far less since it changed to her from Claire Foy) but have to admit she’s very good in this. And that horrible family who came to the beach gave me the absolute creeps! Absolutely cannot stand pushy, entitled people like that and there are far too many of them in this world. Why the fuck should Olivia Colman move from her spot on the beach, huh?!? Anyway – I guess the family were very good as they were menacing as hell just in the way they would look at Colman’s character. But I never really understood their problem with her. Was it only because she wouldn’t move on the beach or did I miss something else while trying to sneakily watch this in between doing stuff with the family on one of my last days off of work?? Dakota Johnson was also good as part of that horrible family (by marriage, I think – was never quite sure how they were all related) & the one who Colman connects with as her young daughter brings up painful memories from Colman’s past. Johnson is maybe growing on me – I couldn’t understand what people saw in her at first.
I think this movie does a fantastic job of portraying the fact that, for some women, there’s much more to them than “just being a mother” and that being a mother (and wife) can be very difficult. I think movies often portray motherhood as being beautiful & perfect. I’m not saying I could personally connect with Colman’s & Buckley’s character’s experience but I think it will probably speak to a lot of women. And I thought the building tension in this was done really well. I kept feeling more & more uneasy throughout this film as I didn’t know a thing about the story & didn’t know what would happen.
Hated this bitch so much!
I think Gyllenhaal has done a great job with this movie. I can’t say whether it’s a good adaptation as I’ve not read the book but I’d now be interested in possibly reading it to know even more about the characters’ motivations. Maybe I’ll read it. I don’t often read a book after seeing the movie but I’d like to know a bit more after seeing this one. It’s a very good film.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Directed by Michael Sarnoski
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows a truffle forager whose beloved truffle-finding pig is stolen.
Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Can’t afford this hobby anymore so I think the only movies I spent on in 2021 outside of streaming services were this &Willy’s Wonderland. You’d think I was a Nicolas Cage fan or something! I’m actually really not, although he’s grown on me in recent years thanks to his interesting film choices. Those choices are often bad & I’ve not watched those that had terrible reviews but things like Mandy & Color Out Of Space are right up my alley & this one sounded like it could be too.
It’s an interesting film & I do agree that Cage was good in it. As much as I enjoy Crazy Cage, I liked seeing him so restrained in this one. I think he and the movie portray loneliness & grief well. Was honestly expecting some John Wick type of revenge rampage so was surprised at there being very little violence in this. Although a John Wick rampage would’ve been fun too but we’ve had enough of that sort of thing from Cage so this was a nice change.
Pig is a movie I’m glad I managed to see before the end of the year but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me as I can’t see myself watching it again. But I can understand why many seemed to like it as they could probably identify with Cage’s character. I can also see why plenty of other people wouldn’t go for this movie at all & would probably call it boring as it’s very slow & far less happens than I was expecting. It’s certainly a “Film Twitter person” type of movie that I wouldn’t go around recommending to people I work with or something. You’ll love it or possibly hate it. Or just be a bit “That was okay” like me. The pig was very cute!
Directed by Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine & Octavio E. Rodriguez (co-director)
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Olivia Colman
Music by Henry Jackman
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The story of Barney, an awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device. Ron’s malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age launch them on a journey to learn about true friendship.
Was surprised to see this pop up on Disney Plus so soon after it was in cinemas but was very happy to be able to see it since there’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character (well, Grogu is giving him a run for his money). So this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.
I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. It’s one of those where I don’t know where to rank it on my year end list I’ll post next week. If I’m honest, I enjoyed it more than Encanto (which I reviewed HERE yesterday) but Encanto is certainly the better film. It doesn’t have a robot in it, though! Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. It was the same with Big Hero 6, although that’s obviously a much stronger film with better characters than this one. But Baymax was what made it so fantastic.
I also really liked the message in this film. As with most animated kids’ films, there’s of course a message (or two) but it’s done subtly & works within the movie. Mainly it’s about friendship but they touch on the evils of social media a bit too. I realise I’m typing this post on a blog, which will auto-tweet to Twitter, but I’m old so I remember the days before all this & I think most of us were much happier then. The movie isn’t at all preachy about any of this, though, which is a big pet peeve of mine. I also thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending.
Oh – Ron also sang a funny song with the grandma which the daughter & I went around singing for the next week whereas I can’t currently remember any songs from Encanto even though we only just watched it a couple of nights ago. It was really cute & I wish Encanto had a similar moment as I really do want to like that one a bit more. Maybe it will grow on me but I know that Ron is already one of the better characters from all the movies I’ve seen in 2021.
Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitán, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama
Music by Germaine Franco
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.
I’ve been putting together my 2021 Top Ten Movies list & it’s been an extremely disappointing year. Okay – to be fair, I’ve not yet seen all the stuff that’s only had cinema releases so far. Hooray for Disney Plus, at least! Easily the streaming service I used the most this year, especially for the Marvel series stuff (I’m not even a big Marvel fan but those were good). So I’m glad I squeezed in two more movies this past week that are making my 2021 Top Ten List (this & Ron’s Gone Wrong).
Enjoyed this one although, in all honesty, it’s not exactly up there with Disney’s all-time best. I don’t know if it’s partly hurt by seeing these Disney films at home now & making them feel like the “straight-to-video” stuff from my younger years. I don’t think so, though – plenty of my all-time favorites are ones I never saw in the cinema. And I didn’t mean to imply that Encanto felt “straight-to-video” as it’s much better than that. So ignore my rambling! Maybe it’s what my hubby moaned about after seeing it (the 3D animation or whatever). I do definitely prefer the more timeless classic animation of older Disney movies. Okay, yeah, maybe it’s that! Just trying to figure out why a lot of Disney movies from recent years aren’t fully connecting with me. Oh well – they’re still much better than that dodgy late ’90s/early 2000s New Groove Hercules Hunchback era.
Should I shut up & talk about Encanto?! What I liked: the main girl (Mirabel) was likeable (and I liked her dress and, as a glasses wearer, her funky glasses), the different magical powers each family member had were fun, I liked the cute little cousin who was due to get his own power & the cousin who could hear everything, and the overall message about the importance of family was good. The weakest thing? Unfortunately, that was maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs. A couple of them were “fun” but not very memorable & certainly none that would end up all-time classics unlike his brilliant How Far I’ll Go from Moana. And, okay, I suppose the animation style wasn’t my favorite but it was still a lovely looking film. Also, I think the message was a bit muddled. Be supportive of family? Be true to yourself? You don’t have to be perfect? Which are all good things so not really an issue – I just wasn’t sure what the main point was.
I really enjoyed this but it’s one where I can’t currently tell if it’ll go up or down in my estimation. Moana grew on me a lot & I’ve happily seen it several times now as it’s a favorite of my daughter’s. Soul is one I thought looked lovely but I’ve never once thought about sticking it on for a rewatch. And I know I have zero interest in rewatching Luca. I think rewatchability is important with Disney & Pixar and I don’t know yet if Encanto is a multiple-watcher. I’d say it is more so than a couple I’ve mentioned. I’m also still trying to decide if I’d rank it just above or below Raya And The Last Dragon. I think Raya is more “me” and I preferred it feeling like a more traditional (sort of Princess) Disney movie plus I preferred its style & loved Tuk Tuk. But I think Encanto was maybe the slightly better film. Dunno. They’re close. I’ll have to decide before I post my Top Ten next week!
What a wishy-washy review. I think my point is this: I really enjoyed Encanto although it hasn’t instantly grabbed me like a lot of other Disney & Pixar films have but maybe it would grow on me after a rewatch.
Two quickie reviews today before I get my monthly roundup post ready for sometime next week. Two very different films, obviously, but I enjoyed them both.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Based on Marvel Comics
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Tony Leung
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) In the film, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his past when his father Wenwu (Leung), the leader of the Ten Rings organization, draws Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing (Zhang) into a search for a mythical village.
I reviewed Black Widow last month & said again that I have superhero burnout with all these MCU films. Black Widow wasn’t horrible but it certainly wasn’t great. I’ve watched all the MCU movies as they’re fun but I’m certainly not some huge fan of them. It’s probably why I usually prefer the ones that aren’t quite as formulaic. That may be obvious as Guardians Of The Galaxy is easily my favorite of the MCU films, which I ranked HERE. I’ve just added Shang-Chi to that list. It’s in the middle. I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting and more than Black Widow. Again, I liked that this one at least felt a little different from the majority of the MCU stuff.
Gotta say I’m surprised they keep putting Awkwafina in movies as I can certainly understand why some people can’t stand her. Doesn’t bother me, though, as I like her (also liked her in Raya And The Last Dragon, which I thought was pretty good). But it’s a shame that she probably put some people off this film a bit. Her friendship with Shang-Chi was fun & Simu Liu was really good in the role. We also got some great female characters with Shang-Chi’s kick-ass sister & super cool mother and aunt. His aunt was played by the brilliant Michelle Yeoh who was great as always. Tony Leung Chiu-wai played Shang-Chi’s heartbroken & complicated father and I really liked that role as well as the role of the aunt & the mother.
Everyone was good in this but the adults, especially Tony Leung Chiu-wai & Michelle Yeoh, were the best. But, hey, they’re already big stars for a reason as they have a great presence. Oh my god – did I just call them the “adults”?! Ha! How old do I sound?!?! Shang-Chi must be about 30? Okay – he’s the son in this so I just meant the parents & the aunt were all super cool. Oh – and I highly recommend Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s Infernal Affairs, which was remade as The Departed. Fantastic film.
For some reason, I couldn’t find great pictures from this movie. Sorry for not including images of the characters I just raved about! Too late to add now, as I need my post’s tweet to be what I’ve already added as my last image since I finally figured out that it tweets that last one you uploaded. Only took me almost 9 years to figure that out! Well, here’s Shang-Chi again. Who is an adult too…
This one did start out quite slow but really picked up for me later in the film when Shang-Chi returns home and we get to see all the cool mystical & mythical shit. I loved the hidden village and all the creatures but, again, that will be because I get bored with the MCU stuff and the end of this felt very different to those films. But it’s also what will have made people like or hate this one, I guess, and I could understand why some MCU fans maybe wouldn’t love the end of this one. Did they? I honestly don’t have a clue as I avoided all reviews as I knew I wouldn’t be seeing this one until after everyone else did. I also liked the story itself, which I can’t say of every Marvel film, and again thought the father was one of the better “complex” characters and enjoyed the story of him & his wife. So I liked this more than plenty of the MCU films but I do admittedly have very different taste from the diehard Marvel fans. Contemplating upping my rating but will leave it as is for now…
My Rating: 7/10
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of an affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.
Was very happy to see this on BBC iPlayer as everyone absolutely raved about it when it came out. It’s a good film. I’m not, like, “OhmygodthisisthebestmovieEVER!!!!!” but the characters are strong & I was interested in what would happen with their relationship. It was just really unfortunate that Noémie Merlant kind of looks like Emma Watson in the face. So I kept picturing Watson making her weird annoying faces while attempting to act (Merlant can act, though). I especially liked Adèle Haenel’s character (I dunno – I always go for the blondes) and they had really good chemistry together.
Nice to see people actually following Covid guidelines…
I liked the extra story with the maid girl or whatever she was. I liked the green dress in the top photo. Kind of reminds me of my high school prom dress! Ha! The color, anyway, but mine had black lace. And I liked when those weird women started beatboxing & then the “on fire” incident happened, which was a great scene. And the book in the painting plus the ending were lovely & bittersweet.
Overall, I liked the characters & the romance and preferred watching women on an island not being psychotic assholes, unlike those idiots in The Lighthouse. Glad I finally managed to see this one.
I did a bunch of “my favorite horror movies” lists in October & one was My Top Ten Pre-1970 Horror Movies. I’d commented that it was shameful I’d seen so few to be able to make that list and had seen none of the classic “monster” movies such as Dracula, etc. So I was very happy when the Horror Channel in the U.K. showed a bunch of them over Halloween weekend. Thanks to the family for letting me watch half of them, too! I haven’t updated that list with these yet as I’m not sure where to place them at this point but figured that I should at least try to write a little something about these classics even though it’s after Halloween…
Directed by Tod Browning
Based on Dracula (novel) by Bram Stoker & Dracula (play) by Hamilton Deane & John L. Balderston
Starring: Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, a vampire who emigrates from Transylvania to England and preys upon the blood of living victims, including a young man’s fiancée.
I don’t know where to start with these “reviews” as I’ve not watched enough classic horror to be able to easily discuss them. I’ll say that Dracula was easily my favorite of those I watched Halloween weekend. Bela Lugosi was great as Count Dracula. Loved his look and the mood of the start of the film in his creepy old castle in the fog & full of cobwebs. The whole thing just said traditional “Halloween” to me, so that was great. A proper vampire movie! Also, I noticed it was directed by Tod Browning who did the movie Freaks, which I absolutely adore & think is a fantastic film that was ahead of its time. So I was eager to see another Browning film.
Vampires aren’t usually my favorite when it comes to the typical “Halloween” monsters. As far as these type of movies go, it seems to be the zombie ones I like the most (thanks, George Romero!). So I wasn’t necessarily expecting this to be my favorite (I thought it would be Frankenstein). But Lugosi was so good & I loved seeing all the “vampire rules” played out, which I admittedly know best thanks to The Lost Boys. No “death by stereo” in Dracula, though! Ha!
Am so glad I finally watched this. I want to see all the Hammer Horror now too to compare, especially Dracula! Am guessing that just has more heaving bosoms. They loved heaving bosoms in old English movies. So between this Dracula, Nosferatu & my beloved The Lost Boys, maybe I do love vampires after all. It’s made me want to revisit Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula now as well. Or… maybe even read the book! Maybe. I did read Frankenstein recently. We’ll see!
My Rating: 8/10
Directed by James Whale
Based on Frankenstein (novel) by Mary Shelley & Frankenstein (play) by Peggy Webling & John L. Balderston
Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Dwight Frye, Edward van Sloan, Frederick Kerr
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Dr. Frankenstein dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster out of lifeless body parts.
Unlike the rest, I do think I at least saw bits of this as a kid. I definitely remember the part with the girl. I forced myself to read this book during lockdown as I must admit I don’t read enough classics. Yes, I stick with Stephen King. I’m old, busy & tired. I’ll watch a serious film as it takes up less of my time but don’t have the energy to read War And Peace or some shit. Give me light entertainment for reading! I admit reading Frankenstein, with its 1818 language, was hard going. But I love the overall story. It’s damn good.
So I was expecting to like this movie the most but I think I ended up a bit disappointed as I didn’t realize how different it was from the book! I have no clue how close Dracula was to Stoker’s novel so that’s probably why I was able to just enjoy that movie as it is. Looks like Frankenstein was also partly based on a play adaptation? I was just kind of sad as I didn’t feel this movie captured the creature’s complex feelings & turned him into more of a monster while the flawed Victor Frankenstein character is hardly explored at all. But, hey – it’s a 1931 film. It’s still a horror classic & gave us the iconic “Frankenstein’s monster” look we now all associate with the character (which is also unlike described in the book). And I’ve now seen Boris Karloff in action as well as Bela Lugosi! It’s about time, I suppose.
My Rating: 7.5/10
The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)
Directed by James Whale
Based on Premise suggested by Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Thesiger, E. E. Clive
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.
This was a bit of an odd one to me but I really liked that, combined with the first movie, we get a little more of the story from the book. Well, a little. We get a bit with the blind guy and I really liked that part of this movie. My favorite part of the book was when “the creature” hid in a family’s cottage for a very long time & sort of became fond of them & learned from them and the blind man in the movie was I guess a nod to that.
I liked that Elsa Lanchester plays Mary Shelley, starting to tell more of her Frankenstein story, as well as The Bride in the title of the film. Didn’t know that, as I knew nothing whatsoever about this film beforehand. Again, it was great seeing The Bride & her also now truly iconic horror look. Love that crazy hairdo!
I also liked a super weird part of this movie in which a mad scientist guy has some tiny people in jars. In looking it up, I found they’re called “homunculi“. Fascinating! Here’s what it says at that Wikipedia link: “A homunculus is a representation of a small human being. Popularized in sixteenth-century alchemy and nineteenth-century fiction, it has historically referred to the creation of a miniature, fully formed human.” So that seemed silly at first but now I kind of love that bit. Fun film and, overall, I like the two of these movies together as one.
My Rating: 7/10
The Wolf Man (1941)
Directed by George Waggner
Starring: Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Evelyn Ankers, Lon Chaney Jr.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Larry Talbot returns to his father’s castle in Wales and meets a beautiful woman. One fateful night, Talbot escorts her to a local carnival where they meet a mysterious gypsy fortune teller.
Enjoyed this one as well, although I don’t really know what to say about this or The Invisible Man as I knew the least about these stories (but of course know the werewolf legend). Well, I know about werewolves thanks to An American Werewolf In London & the beginning of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, of course! Oh, and Teen Wolf. I’m so ’80s! Hey – did you know a guy in Teen Wolf flashes his penis at the end of that movie?
So, anyway – Yeah, I like werewolves almost as much as vampires when it comes to classic Halloween monsters so of course enjoyed this very straightforward werewolf story. Hairy guys are just a little less sexy than those bloodsuckers, I guess. Lon Chaney Jr. stars as the Wolf Man in this (I knew that thanks to Warren Zevon). So I’ve seen another classic monster movie & actor. Feel like I have a tiny bit more movie blog cred now! Wow – this was a pathetic review. Oh! I like the Silver Bullet movie too. God I’m so ’80s…
My Rating: 7/10
The Invisible Man (1933)
Directed by James Whale
Based on The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
Starring: Gloria Stuart, Claude Rains, William Harrigan, Dudley Digges, Una O’Connor, Henry Travers, Forrester Harvey
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.
I know the least about this story and, no, I’ve not read the H. G. Wells book. In all honesty, I think the 2020 movie was my first real introduction to this character (which I assume is very different from the book!). So I’d feel like an ass saying too much about this movie.
I enjoyed it but liked it a bit less than the more “classic monster” movies I watched Halloween weekend. I loved the special effects, though. I thought they were damn good for 1933! I know jack shit about filmmaking but, with all the stupid CGI these days that rarely moves me, I was more impressed by whatever probably super simple tricks they used in this movie to make this guy’s head, etc, invisible in some scenes. Brilliant! Way cooler than computer magic.
FYI – the star of this one is Claude Rains and, once again, I’m happy to finally see these actors in these iconic roles. And, hey – the old lady from Titanic, Gloria Stuart, is in this. Her heart will go on! God I suck at reviewing old movies. This was good, though. All of these were. I’m glad I finally saw them. Thanks, Horror Channel!
It’s almost Halloween! Here are two old classics today for October Horror Month…
Cat People (1942)
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph, Jack Holt
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film tells the story of Irena Dubrovna, a newly-married Serbian fashion illustrator obsessed with the idea that she is descended from an ancient tribe of Cat People who metamorphose into panthers when aroused. When her husband begins to show interest in one of his coworkers, Irena begins to stalk her.
I’m loving all the classics on BBC iPlayer, especially old classic horror like this & the one below as I shamefully haven’t explored pre-1970 horror much (besides Alfred Hitchcock). This is a great story & I suppose a bit saucy for its time (1942). Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland’s fables if they are intimate together.”
I did actually see the 1982 Cat People with Nastassja Kinski years ago but don’t remember a thing now other than I think it was a lot more “sexy” (obviously). Anyway, the girl in this is great (actress Simone Simon playing Serbian immigrant Irena) and I enjoyed the story and there was some cool creepy stuff going on with a panther stalking people (IS it a panther or is it actually Irena? Hmm!). Guess I should watch the sequel, The Curse Of The Cat People, sometime soon.
My Rating: 7/10
House On Haunted Hill (1959)
Directed by William Castle
Starring: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Elisha Cook, Carolyn Craig, Alan Marshal, Julie Mitchum, Richard Long
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Vincent Price plays an eccentric millionaire, Frederick Loren, who, along with his wife Annabelle, has invited five people to the house for a “haunted house” party. Whoever stays in the house for one night will earn $10,000. As the night progresses, the guests are trapped within the house with an assortment of terrors.
I have another shameful confession to make: I’m not sure if I’ve seen an old Vincent Price movie before? I may have many years ago but too long ago to remember now. Which is odd, as I loved scary & creepy stories from a young age (my two favorite TV shows as a kid were the Alfred Hitchcock TV show & The Twilight Zone). But I missed out on these sort of films on TV as a kid, I guess. Being my age, Vincent Price to me is the cool voice from Michael Jackson’s Thriller & the awesome inventor in Edward Scissorhands (adore that film).
Anyway, to show my age even more, the main reason I’ve wanted to see this for years is because I knew it was the movie the horror-loving character in my favorite Amazing Stories episode was playing on his TV. That was called Go To The Head Of The Class, FYI, and it RULES. It’s a short horror comedy starring Christopher Lloyd & Mary Stuart Masterson (I reviewed it very briefly HERE). I always assumed I’d had the ending of this movie ruined for me but it turned out the scene they used in Amazing Stories wasn’t the ending (phew).
This was a fun story with a lot of twists and back stabbing and you don’t know who can be trusted & what’s going on. Good stuff. I’d happily take recommendations of other old horrors to watch (I’ve always been curious about Hammer Horror films as well…).
Since I mainly just do really short reviews the last couple of years in monthly posts, I have quite a few “reviews” of horror movies that are way too short to re-post alone. So here are all the mega short horror mini-reviews from the last two years. They’re in order from best to worst (the last few were dreadful). Love And Monsters isn’t exactly a horror movie, either, but it has monsters so I included it since it was more enjoyable than the rest.
– Love And Monsters – This was a lot of fun but I weirdly have very little to say about it. Don’t know why. It’s a fun idea and the main character is sweet & likeable and OH MY GOD I loved the cute dog in it and there’s a fun robot and I LOVE robots (and cute dogs!) and there are funny big monsters and there’s honestly nothing to not like about this one. It also feels very original, which I can say about very few films these days. It’s a fun family film (well, not for really young kids but fine for slightly older ones). But I didn’t quite connect with it when I thought I’d really love it. I liked it. It’s good. Maybe I just need to watch it again sometime… Cool Robot above, Cute Dog at top of post! – 7/10
– Run – This one was “fine”. Man I’m bored with movies that are just “okay”! But I do love a good ’90s-style thriller and do love a CRAZY MOM (Margaret White is the best!). So I did enjoy this movie despite it not being very good. Actually, I should maybe give it a slightly higher score. Meh. Maybe not. The young girl, Kiera Allen, was good but Sarah Paulson was a bit silly. I liked the story and the couple of twists at the end were fun. Okay, I’ve kind of talked myself into liking this one. Wish it was a better film overall. – 6/10
– Sputnik – I was excited about this. Foreign sci-fi!! A Russian Alien!! Sadly, I was disappointed. I think it had a good idea (even though, yes, it’s very similar to Alien), the alien dude thing looked good, and the acting was decent. There’s even a mini twist at the very end. But… I dunno. It just didn’t quite work. I can’t explain why, though, as this is totally my type of thing. Maybe my expectations were just too high as one of my favorites last year was a foreign dystopian sci-fi film (The Platform). – 6/10
– I See You – This was decent. Preferred how it started out to how it ended but liked the completely unpredictable turn it took. I appreciate that as the majority of horror films’ plots fail to surprise me in any way. But this is one of those movies that sort of switches genres halfway through & the mysterious horror at the start is more my type of thing. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “It follows a suburban family beset by unexplainable events that may be linked to the recent disappearance of a young boy.” And that really tells you nothing about this movie… Worth a watch if you like a crime horror that keeps you guessing. – 6/10
– The Borderlands – I love a good horror. We get so few good horror films these days. This one was… Okay. Not even close to being a great modern horror (like It Follows, Train To Busan or The Babadook). But it was a perfectly decent example of the found footage & religious horror subgenres & had a good creepy atmosphere. I also kind of liked the ending as it got a bit weird. I like some weirdness! The whole thing could have done with more of that. I have NO clue why but this one made me think of horror movie The Ritual. That was an odd one. Oh, probably just because they’re both British. Anyway, The Ritual has gone up a bit in my estimation since I first saw it. That one was better. But if you like that, you might like this. And vice versa. – 6/10
– The Haunted Mansion – Finally decided to check this one out. It’s… Fine. I’m sure it’s a favorite film for some who were kids at the right sort of age when this came out. But I only saw this two months ago & am already forgetting it. Safe & fun but forgettable family film. – 6/10
– Dark Places – Oh, look – it’s young Beast from X-Men! Holy shit – I barely remember this movie either. It was only three months ago! My mind has clearly been elsewhere during this pandemic. What’s sad is that I also read this book. From what I remember of the book, this was a faithful adaptation. It just wasn’t my favorite story from Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which was a very enjoyable book (review here). But what I liked even more was her novel Sharp Objects (sort-of review here). That book was fucked up! And the TV adaptation with Amy Adams was decent. Dark Places was okay but meh. The characters are all pretty hateful (but that’s the case with all of Flynn’s books that I’ve read). Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.” – 5.5/10
– Brahms: The Boy II – Well, this was a massive disappointment after really enjoying the first film (which I reviewed HERE). The first film had a solid story (as far as horror goes) & a very ’80s vibe to it. Two things I love: ’80s movies & creepy dolls! The story in this sequel gets really dumb & kind of undoes the simplicity of the story in the first movie. Yet another pointless horror remake. – 5/10
– Tales Of Halloween – Wow. This was absolutely dreadful. It’s a collection of short “Halloween” tales (obviously). I love a good horror anthology (Trick ‘ r Treat& Dead Of Night, for example). Watch those instead. Besides the very first story (I think) being a fucked-up but fun tale of a boy wanting his Halloween candy back, the rest are silly & ridiculous. A waste of time. – 3/10
– Unfriended – I absolutely fucking hated this movie. I’m not gonna even bother to re-post my long rant about it here or add an image. Yuck. Hated these characters so much. – 4/10
Based on The Colour Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Elliot Knight, Madeleine Arthur, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tommy Chong
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.
Not sure how to review this. I’m a very big fan of Richard Stanley’s Hardware (I never shut up about it – my review is HERE). So I was very excited about this one, especially as it looked weird & beautiful and Nicolas Cage is finally growing on me thanks to the wonderfully batshit Mandy and it’s based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. It sounded like it would be right up my alley!
Suppose I was hoping for some kind of Hardware crossed with Mandy crossed with Re-Animator film with this one. It’s nothing like them other than it being weird as shit. Yay! I love weird as shit! Not entirely sure what was going on here. Is it about how we’re ruining the environment? Maybe. I guess there’s some sort of message. Wanted to love this one like Mandy & Hardware but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It starts out veeeery slow until finally going WHAT THE FUCK near the end. Then it got good. Enjoyed the final bit of the movie even though I’m not entirely sure what point the film was trying to make.
And I loved the pinky purple colors I’d seen in all the images of this movie – it was lovely and I wanted more of it. I… think I liked this movie? Even if I didn’t love it. But I think it’ll grow on me, just like Mandy did. I started out not sure how I felt about Mandy but now consider it one of my favorites of the past decade. As I always say, I watch way too many movies & far too many are boring & forgettable. I like when a movie is unpredictable or shocking. I’m not sure if I can say Color Out Of Space is a good movie, but I’ll certainly never forget it. I appreciate that.
I have two NEW horror reviews today!!! Likely to be the only new ones I write all month instead of just re-posting stuff I’ve already written. Well, maaaaaaybe I’ll review Halloween 1 through 6 since I just rewatched all of those (well, I watched 5 & 6 for the first time ever). Dunno. I’m not in a blogging place at the moment. Find it difficult to put any words together on anything lately. We’ll see! Now what the heck am I going to say about these two films…
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) After a pair of amateur criminals break into a suburban home, they stumble upon a dark secret that two sadistic homeowners will do anything to keep from getting out.
I liked this one. For some reason, I’d not heard of this one at all despite it being recent & on Netflix (it’s actually a 2021 release here in the U.K.). It doesn’t have huge megastars but it still has names well known to movie fans so am not sure why I’d heard nothing about it. So thanks, Film Miasma! I first heard of this when reading your review.
I’ve liked a lot of the films Maika Monroe has done so far, especially It Follows which not everyone loves but I do. She’s admittedly been in some real rubbish but I think she stands out in those films & expected her to be a bigger star by now. I didn’t loveThe Guest but appreciated its style and the fact that it felt original plus, again, I liked Monroe in it.
I also really liked a film of hers called Bokeh, which I keep putting off reviewing since nothing whatsoever happens in that movie. Honestly. Which is quite an accomplishment for a movie about everyone on the planet suddenly disappearing other than Monroe & her new fiancé (or maybe it was new hubby, I dunno) while vacationing in Iceland. But I’ve always been obsessed with end-of-the-world stories so I liked it plus the movie was gorgeous and I badly want to visit Iceland now. It was a really good tourism advert for Iceland! But, see? This is why I can’t write anything lately. I’m way off topic! This is turning into a Bokeh review. (But, hey – I did like Bokeh a lot so watch it if you just want to watch a pretty young couple do nothing other than wander around & go swimming while looking at beautiful landscapes. I’d give it 6.5/10).
So, yeah, I liked Monroe in this film too. But what I liked the most was Bill Skarsgård & the relationship these two had. I’d even say that this somewhat strange sort-of-horror-thriller-almost-horror-comedy-movie had a nice romance going on with these two. They were good together & had a nice chemistry. But Skarsgård was kind of adorable. I’m not sure why. I mean, he’s Pennywise FFS. That’s creepy. And I’ve never given him much thought other than thinking he looks bizarrely like a young Steve Buscemi. So maybe it’s because I adore Buscemi but I really liked Skarsgård in this and I wanted these two to get married & live happily ever after. And I liked the thing she did with her hair to calm him down. It was cute.
So, I won’t give away the story as wanting to find out the crazy secret that the two above weirdos, played by Jeffrey Donovan & Kyra Sedgwick, were hiding was the whole reason I wanted to see this movie after reading the synopsis. I’ll just say it wasn’t as crazy as I was expecting for some reason but it’s still a decent story and these two did a good job playing normal looking middle class American psychos. Those are the worst kind of psychos, right?! And I liked it being one of these movies with slightly bad people who meet really bad people, which makes the slightly bad people the really good people. And I can see some not loving the very end but I really liked how this one ended up. Overall, it’s not a movie as over-the-top as it may sound, it’s just a bit quirky. And it has an interesting mix of genres & better characters than we get it in a lot of horror-comedy-thrillers. It’s also one where, after writing about it, I like it a little bit more.
My Rating: 7/10
Directed by Douglas Cheek
Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist, J C Quinn, Michael O’Hare, Peter Michael Goetz, Sam McMurray, Frankie R Faison, John Goodman, Jay Thomas, Hallie Foote, Graham Beckel, Jon Polito, George Martin
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot concerns a New York City police officer and a homeless shelter manager who join forces to investigate a series of disappearances, and discover that the missing people have been hunted down by humanoid monsters that live below the city.
I don’t have as much to say about this movie. I’ll just start by saying, yes, I love the ’80s. I grew up in the ’80s. The majority of my favorite movies are (and always will be) those from the ’70s & ’80s. That includes some movies I know are bad. Is C.H.U.D. bad?? Okay, it’s not great. You know what? I never saw this one until now!!!
I admit I’m always happier to find an older film like this to watch for the first time than to watch some mediocre & boring modern film. Give me some ’80s nostalgia instead! And this one has lots of old familiar faces, so that was cool. I’d always known of the existence of C.H.U.D. thanks to great old videotape covers but never realised it had so many people I knew in it. Plenty of old horrors star unknowns. (This one isn’t on the level of those starring in The Sentinel from 1977, though – what a waste of a good cast that was).
If you’re old like me, you’ll know that C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. And that D.A.R.Y.L. stands for Data-Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform. But C.H.U.D. actually stands for something else in this movie. I can’t remember the exact words & I’m too lazy to go check. Besides – it’s a big plot spoiler anyway. It’s a part of what this cheesy looking movie is actually about: How the homeless are cast aside & ignored in society. The problem of these mutant cannibals crawling out of the sewers & killing people is completely ignored while it’s at first only affecting the homeless community.
The biggest roles are played by Home Alone‘s John Heard as a photographer doing a project on the homeless people of NYC who live in the city’s underground and, interesting connection, also Home Alone‘s Daniel Stern as a man who runs a homeless shelter. They were both good, especially for this type of film, and I liked Stern’s character. There are other familiar faces but not exactly household names & most would only be known to old people like me. But worth mentioning that John Goodman & Jay Thomas have small roles as two cops. James P. Sullivan!
Well, I liked this. You probably won’t like it unless you’re a fan of ’80s horror & special effects. I mean, yeah, these mutant cannibals look cheesy as hell now. But I was surprised that the story was actually pretty good & also that it had a message about how homeless people are treated. The acting was also better than you expect from this sort of thing. All of my blog posts auto-tweet or I tweet them again for various reasons but this is the only one recently to get a couple replies on Twitter from people who like it so I guess it has its fans. Too bad I didn’t watch it in the ’80s but am glad I finally took a chance on it now.
Reviewed this recently in a monthly roundup post but think it kind of fits Horror Month & I quite liked it plus all the old farts in it so here it is again…
Directed by Joe Begos
Starring: Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Martin Kove, Fred Williamson, David Patrick Kelly, Sierra McCormick, Tom Williamson, Travis Hammer, Dora Madison, George Wendt, Graham Skipper
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A group of old war veterans put their lives on the line to defend a young woman taking shelter in their local VFW post, who’s running from a deranged drug dealer and his relentless army of drug addled punks.
I rated this just below that existential art house film Wings Of Desire the month that I watched this. What can I say? I have well-rounded movie tastes.
I really enjoyed this one despite the extreme violence. I just really liked this group of old dudes! Especially loved that William Sadler was in this & he seemed to be having loads of fun in the role. He’ll always be my favorite Grim Reaper! Stephen Lang is great in the main role as a tough Vietnam veteran who has to defend his bar slash VFW post from crazed drug addicts who are after a girl who has taken shelter in the bar. Lang is one of those guys who has been in shitloads but I never really noticed him until he played that freak in Don’t Breathe (which I didn’t love). He’s perfect here, though, and I loved the main friendship he had with fellow veterans Sadler & Fred Williamson.
And as if these three aren’t cool enough, they also crammed in other “Hey, it’s that guy” actors as further fellow veterans forced to kick ass in as many violent ways as possible. We also have The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai big baddie Martin Kove, George Wendt of Cheers fame, and David Patrick Kelly from the absolute classicsThe Warriors & The Crow. Oh, and the girl in this, Sierra McCormick, was in a very obscure film that I liked a lot called The Vast Of Night so it was cool seeing her although her character could’ve been a bit more likeable. She should’ve been more grateful to these old dudes whose lives she’s put in danger.
VFW has real Hobo With A Shotgun, Dredd, From Dusk Till Dawn, and even a bit of The Crow vibes going on. So if you like those, you’ll probably like this! Although it’s quite not as good as those (well, maybe as good as Hobo). A few days after watching this I also realized what else it is: It’s an example of every day on Twitter. Honestly. It’s the Boomers vs the Millennials. I wonder if that was on purpose?? And, being Gen X, I did the same thing we all do and just minded my own business while watching these people fight it out. Was definitely with the Boomers on this one, though. Loved seeing them kick ass.