Ocean’s Eight (2018) Review

Ocean’s Eight (2018) (or is it Ocean’s 8???)

Directed by Gary Ross

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a group of women, led by Debbie Ocean, the sister of Danny Ocean, who plan a highly sophisticated heist of the Met Gala in New York City.

My Opinion:

I like the Ocean’s films. Well, I didn’t actually see the last one… Oops! Guess I better watch that now. Think I missed something important?! Anyway, I enjoyed the first two but I can’t say I really remember much at all about them now. Heist movies are fun but not a favorite genre of mine. They’re popcorn movies to me. Fun, lazy Sunday afternoon movies. Ocean’s Eight was the same thing. It was fun & I enjoyed it, mainly thanks to its stars & their characters. But I probably won’t remember much about it a few years from now.

This film’s star power is far stronger than the story itself. I even like seven out of eight of these women! I find a lot of actors/actresses annoying for no good reason. By the way, the annoying one is Anne Hathaway. However, she’s fine in this in that she’s meant to be an annoying diva and she played the role well.


I really liked these characters & their very different personalities. Strangely, I possibly liked the main character the least (Sandra Bullock), although she seemed to be having fun as a “bad girl” for a change. I’m not sure if I could pick a favorite but it would be between the characters played by Cate Blanchett, Awkwafina, Rihanna & Helena Bonham Carter. Bonham Carter once again does “lady slightly off her rocker” but she does that kind of role SO well. If I could be any of them, I’d probably choose Blanchett’s character. She’s sexy & super cool. Rihanna’s hacker character was also great. I thought she might be distracting in this but that wasn’t the case at all. As the hubby & I discussed later, the only one who threw us both out of the movie was James Corden. Ugh! It really would’ve been better if he hadn’t suddenly shown up toward the end. He’s a million times more annoying than Hathaway. Oh, and Awkwafina’s character was a lot of fun – I’d never heard of her before this movie.


I haven’t said a lot about the film itself but this isn’t the type of movie you need to thoroughly discuss & overanalyze. It’s meant to be entertaining & it was. It was a little overlong. The heist was, of course, the most enjoyable part but the movie needed to end more quickly after the heist as it did drag a bit afterwards (I mostly blame Corden). I’m not sure if all their “thieving” methods were actually at all plausible but, meh, who cares about those sort of details? It’s fiction. The Met Gala setting was a good idea and I’m now FAR less annoyed than I was a year or so ago when we all first heard those Kardashithingies would be in this (THE most annoying things in the universe -I’d rather watch James Corden 24/7). But it made sense to have them there in the background (it truly was just in the background. Phew.) Fun heist, fun characters, fun movie but average story, a little too long, not believable, and James Corden. No, Ocean’s Eight isn’t perfect but is definitely worth a watch to see these actresses together.

My Rating: 7/10

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Deadpool 2 (2018) Review

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Directed by David Leitch

Based on Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza & Rob Liefeld

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesy

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy with supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling cyborg, Cable.

My Opinion:

Quick review! I never got around to reviewing this one but I try to review everything I see in the cinema. I don’t have much to say about Deadpool 2. That’s not because it’s bad, though. It was hilarious! I really enjoyed it. But, you know, it’s just more of the same stuff from the first film.


I’m so bored with the straightforward Marvel superhero movies with their formulaic plots, which is why I’ve enjoyed the much needed humor of Deadpool & especially Guardians Of The Galaxy (love those!). Oh, and Ragnarok (love Hemsworth!). Well, to be fair, I liked Infinity War quite a bit. Anyway, Ryan Reynolds is adorable & funny as hell (love his tweets!). I know nothing whatsoever about the Deadpool from comic books but I love the Reynolds version on the big screen. If you liked him in the first film, you’ll like him in this one. As I said, this is more of the same thing.


As for the new additions, Zazie Beetz was super cool as Domino and Rob Delaney was super uncool as Peter. They were the best. Josh Brolin was kind of boring, though. I mean, the whole plot in this one was a bit boring. The first film is definitely the better film storywise, although this one may be slightly more funny overall. That’s often the case with the superhero movies, though – I tend to enjoy the origin story more. Oh, the kid was kind of annoying (Julian Dennison – but I suppose he was meant to be annoying). He had funny moments but I far preferred his Hunt For The Wilderpeople character.



Hi Yukio!

Annnnd. That’s it. I don’t have much to say about this film. It’s very fun. It’s very funny. I loved the end credits scenes. There’s very little substance. The only downside with these Deadpool movies, for me, is that they’re kind of “one-time-watchers”. I don’t feel the need to actually watch either of these films again. I know the jokes. I laughed a lot. The first time. I can’t see laughing as much on a re-watch. I can’t explain why but these movies are a bit throwaway for me in a way that the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies aren’t. I’ve already watched those multiple times. But I’ll definitely and very happily watch Deadpool 3. Once. And then 4. Once.

My Rating: 7/10

Hereditary (2018) Review

Hereditary (2018)

Directed & Written by Ari Aster

Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

My Opinion:

I always get very excited when there’s a lot of hype about a horror movie. Horror isn’t exactly my favorite genre but I love the rare occasion when one is actually good. And it is a very rare occasion, especially these days. But I LOVED The Babadook & It Follows and was hoping Hereditary would live up to those as it had the same sort of hype. Umm. No. Damn. I was very disappointed. However, there were some things that I liked about it & it’s still much better than the majority of modern horrors.

First of all: Yes, the acting is very good. Yes, I like it when horror films have decent acting like in this and in The Babadook. There’s no reason for horror movies to not have good acting & I wish that more of them tried to have actors of a decent standard. Collette is certainly the standout here in what will have been a very difficult & intense role. Byrne also did very well as her husband who tries to keep things together as did Wolff and the young Shapiro playing her messed-up children. I think the acting in horror doesn’t get enough credit sometimes – I’d hate to have played Collette’s role in this! I think it would psychologically damage me for life. However, I felt no connection to this family. I’m not sure why, as the acting was good. For whatever reason, the movie didn’t have me sympathizing with these characters (which will be a big reason why it’ll get a lower rating from me than I was hoping & expecting). Maybe if the son had been likable to begin with…


I did like the film’s overall vibe at the start. I really liked the creepy dollhouses/miniatures. I liked that the movie seemed to be going for a Rosemary’s Baby thing, which is a true classic. Hereditary was atmospheric and the sense of dread was palpable. I soooo wanted to like it more. But, as I said, I didn’t care about the family. And then the story went completely off the rails. Now, I don’t mind when a story goes completely fucking nuts. I love David Cronenberg’s films, for crying out loud. I love crazy! But the ending of this just didn’t work for me. It was messy. The whole story just seemed a little too convoluted. That’s horror for you, though – you either love or absolutely hate how they choose to end them. I almost always hate the endings to horror films. I wouldn’t say that I totally hated Hereditary’s ending, but… Meh. It just didn’t quite work for me. To be fair, however, I’m not sure how it should have ended. It did at least end up in the sort of way you’d expect based on things that happened & were said previously in the film (so pay close attention).

Hereditary is a very good horror film compared to the majority of rubbish modern horror films that are out there. I’ve seen modern horror that I’ve liked much much more than this one but I can see why Hereditary has its fans even if it didn’t quite work for me. The film that it most reminds me of is The Witch (2015), which also had great reviews but which I found well-made yet very disappointing. If you loved The Witch, I think you’ll probably like Hereditary too. I prefer Hereditary but that’s mainly because of ONE scene. If not for that one scene, I’d give this at least half a point less. You know the scene I mean if you’ve seen this! That scene was totally unexpected. Well, no… Not entirely unexpected as it was obvious something was going to happen where it did. But it was a ballsy scene and changed the way you thought things were gonna go based on the marketing. So, yeah – an extra half a point at least for a horror movie having a scene that actually managed to surprise people.

My Rating: 7/10

Tully (2018) Review

Tully (2018)

Directed by Jason Reitman

Written by Diablo Cody

Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A mother of three hires a night nanny to help with her newborn.

My Opinion:

I was looking forward to this film as I liked the other two Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody collaborations. Juno was especially good – I loved the writing & humor. Young Adult was okay but slightly forgettable. I liked Tully much more than Young Adult but Juno is still the best by far. I appreciated the realistic depiction of motherhood & aging in this, though, which is what I think is making a lot of women like this one. But Tully is definitely not for everyone and I’d only recommend it to a very small group of women who would be able to relate to it. It’s far too indie and “dramatic” for the masses (I went to this quickly as you just know it’s one that’ll disappear from cinemas right away).

Theron is great in this. She gained 50 pounds for this role so I guess the post-baby belly was real? Gotta love realistic movies that don’t show a woman who has just given birth with a completely flat tummy afterwards. God I hate movies that do that! She’s a mother who is struggling but the movie doesn’t show her having some massive meltdown or having funny family romcom type moments. I just looked up Diablo Cody to see if she has kids as it felt like she must since she got things so right with this movie. Yep, she has three. Been there, done that! As they say, write what you know.

When it comes to Cody, she’s a similar age to me which is why her movies are going to speak to me more than to other generations. Other than Jennifer’s Body, of course. WTF was that?! At one point we see Theron and Mackenzie Davis (Tully, the night nanny) watching Diane Lane in Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. So few people will know what the hell they’re watching. By the way, that movie is great (I reviewed it HERE). And they also listen to loads of Cyndi Lauper at one point. I’ve realized in recent years that Lauper is truly underrated.

As for Mackenzie Davis, she’s perfect in the role as the night nanny who helps Theron through a tough time. She absolutely MUST have been chosen for this after Reitman or Cody or whoever watched her in the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror. She has a very likable quality – it will be interesting to see if she gets bigger roles. She’s already had small parts in big films, such as Blade Runner 2049. I really liked her & Theron together in this.

I’ll wrap this up by saying that I appreciated Tully but I’m also a part of the very small target audience for this movie. I’d recommend this to some bloggers but only a very specific few (Abbi Osbiston – I think you’d like this!). And I’d also recommend these movies if Tully is your kind of thing:

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains: Diane Lane as a punk rocker with some 80s feminism going on.

Waitress: A lovely Adrienne Shelly indie movie that I adore about a pregnant Keri Russell not being very excited about the baby she’s going to have with her abusive husband.

Kelly & Cal: Starring Juliette Lewis struggling with aging and having a new baby. This movie got no attention but I really liked Lewis in it despite not liking her when younger. I’m relating to her now in my old age!

Oh, and Whip It! That’s nothing like Tully, though. It’s just a kick ass “chick flick” that I really enjoyed and felt like mentioning again. I’m not a girly chick flick kind of girl. I see the name Kate Hudson on a movie poster and cringe. I hear the girls in my office talk about Fifty Shades Of Grey and want to barf. Most women are more complex than that. The movies I mentioned above are MY kind of chick flicks. We need more like those and like Tully. Silly romcoms are fine sometimes but give us the good, realistic stuff too.

My Rating: 7/10

Love, Simon (2018) Review 

Love, Simon (2018)

Directed by Greg Berlanti

Based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Starring: Nick Robinson, Bryson Pitts, Nye Reynolds, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Logan Miller, Talitha Bateman, Skye Mowbray, Tony Hale, Natasha Rothwell, Drew Starkey, Clark Moore, Joey Pollari, Mackenzie Lintz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

My Opinion:

I recently read the YA novel this movie is based on (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – review HERE). I enjoyed the book and would say it’s one of the better YA romances I’ve read recently so was looking forward to seeing how well they did with the movie adaptation (even though romance isn’t really my thing). I have to say that this is one of the rare occasions where the movie is possibly slightly better than the book. It’s close.

They did change quite a few details from the book, which doesn’t always work for people who want to see the story in the exact same way. For example: They added more humor to the movie (a lot of this via a vice principal who didn’t exist in the novel) and Simon has only one instead of two sisters. The changes don’t negatively affect the overall story, though. Simon still feels like the same character from the book and the romance still works well. Actually, Simon feels a little more “real” in the film. His internal struggle is also somehow more apparent and believable in the movie. I think Nick Robinson has done a good job with Simon as it’s not often that a movie character feels slightly more fleshed out than the book character. His family also feel closer in the movie and I liked that they spent plenty of time focusing on his relationship with his them as well as with his friends.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good teen book and/or movie. If you’re a reader, I definitely recommend reading the book and then watching the movie. There are enough changes that it’s worth knowing both stories. Overall, the film is slightly better and the characters feel more realistic but I far prefer the ending in the book. I’ll of course avoid spoilers but the film adds a little too much drama to a final scene, making me prefer the more likely scenario in the book. This scene was the only time the film felt a little false, though. Overall, the topic is handled very well. The movie uses humor and sensitivity and thankfully never goes over the top on drama. Being from the John Hughes generation, I can’t say I’m going to be able to fully relate to a modern teen movie but I’m glad that current teens have films like Love, Simon. It’s a good film with enjoyable characters and I’m sure it’ll be a favorite for many current teens. Judging by its 8.1 rating on IMDb, it seems to be a favorite already.

My Rating: 7/10

Game Night (2018) Review

Game Night (2018)

Directed by John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons, Michael C. Hall, Kyle Chandler

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Game Night follows a group of friends whose game night turns into a real-life mystery.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this film and it’s a shame we don’t get many movies like this nowadays. I’m very picky when it comes to comedy and rarely like current films in the genre so I often avoid them completely. Game Night has the right blend of clever humor as well as an entertaining story. It’s not going to change the world and it’s not some all-time comedy classic but at least you won’t feel like you’ve actually lost brain cells just by watching it. It’s a fun popcorn movie that doesn’t treat its audience like complete morons.

Hey – this was co-directed by the little brother from Freaks And Geeks. I love that show!!! Anyone else love that show? But, FYI – this movie is nothing like the output from other Freaks And Geeks alumni (such as Seth Rogen). Game Night is better than that. Here’s the Freaks And Geeks kid (he’s 32 now. When did I get so old?!):


Speaking of TV shows for old people like me, I had a crush on Jason Bateman back in the 1980s. Not so much from Silver Spoons but from the thoroughly underrated, hilarious, ahead-of-its-time It’s Your Move. People couldn’t handle that sort of humor back then as I suppose it wasn’t all warm & fuzzy like Growing Pains or something. Anyway, Bateman had great comedic chops from a young age and I’m always happy to see him in stuff now. Maybe I should finally check out Arrested Development?! Or Horrible Bosses? Did I just use the words “comedic chops”?? Bateman & Rachel McAdams are really funny in this, playing a married couple who are both extremely competitive when it comes to their Game Nights with their friends.


I don’t know what else to say about this as comedy is so subjective but I would think I could recommend it to most people who are around the same sort of age as me (which is right in between the ages of Bateman & McAdams). The humor isn’t exactly subtle but it’s not the outrageous in-your-face stuff like in Bridesmaids, etc. It might not be one for twentysomethings – It’s probably more for the sort of old farts like me who would have a board game night with friends. I’d love game nights with the right group of people! Who wants a board game night with me?? Just please don’t order a kidnapping mystery.

I enjoyed Game Night a lot. It’s fun. The dark humor works. The thriller/action stuff works. The opening titles were really good. Everyone was funny and no one was annoying. Bateman & McAdams were especially good and believable as a married couple. But it’s still not quite as good as Freaks And Geeks or It’s Your Move

My Rating: 7/10

Is there a scene after the credits? Yes – During the credits as well as one at the very end. Not sure if the final one is worth staying for but I liked it.

He’s so handsome…

Annihilation (2018) Review

Annihilation (2018)

Directed by Alex Garland

Based on Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Annihilation follows a group of military scientists who enter “The Shimmer”, a mysterious quarantined zone full of mutating landscapes and creatures.

My Opinion:

I’m really glad this got rave reviews. I love a good sci-fi film. It’s great that there seems to have been a resurgence of hard sci-fi in the past few years with things such as Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, and Alex Garland’s directorial debut Ex Machina. However, I seem to be one of the very few who found Annihilation a bit of a disappointment.

I’m definitely a Garland fan. Besides Ex Machina, which I thought was absolutely brilliant, he wrote the screenplays for 28 Days Later…., Sunshine, and Dredd. I love all those, so maybe that’s why Annihilation was disappointing? That may be part of it but I think the biggest problem was that I read the book first (by Jeff VanderMeer) and I liked it a lot.

The movie follows the book quite closely to begin with but then goes off the rails. I do wonder how I’d feel if I’d not read the book? I’d probably have loved how utterly bizarre the film becomes at the end (I love weird shit). But you know what? The book is even more crazy. I really wanted to review the book as I enjoyed it so much but never did as I had no clue how to describe it. The novel perfectly conveyed this overall eerie feeling that stayed with me long after reading it. Unfortunately, my favorite parts (and the creepiest) were completely left out of the film. I can kind of understand why as it would’ve been hard to translate to film without it looking cheesy, but… Shit. I was so looking forward to seeing how those parts would be handled. In the book, there was a mysterious underground structure that seemed somehow linked to the lighthouse but was far more disturbing. The film kind of combined the two places a little bit but I still feel cheated.

Okay, I’ll try to focus on the positive now because I do still think this is a good sci-fi movie even though it doesn’t quite live up to the novel. I loved the look of this film and the gorgeous “Shimmer” they enter. The world inside The Shimmer looked as strange & beautful as how I’d imagined it. The ending involving the lighthouse was enjoyable even though it was completely different to what I was expecting. And, yes, I liked it being a group of women but this is the same as in the book anyway. To be honest, I’m giving less and less of a shit about who stars in a film as long as the story is good and the acting doesn’t totally suck.


The characters aren’t that well developed but I can’t complain as that’s the same in the book as well. We actually get far more backstory involving Portman’s hubby, played by Oscar Isaac, and the rest of the women than we did in the book. The book is truly only about its story, which was fine since it’s a strong one. Adding more to the characters for the film was a smart move as I think connecting with the characters is more necessary when it comes to film. I didn’t think any of the acting really stood out, though. Tessa Thompson was possibly the strongest but it’s not a huge role. I love Jennifer Jason Leigh but she’s not much different from usual in this. Sadly, I’d probably say the same of Portman. This was another thing a little disappointing as I thought the acting was so strong in Ex Machina (especially Vikander). I’m not saying anyone did a bad job, though. They’re all good actors but are just a bit MEH in this. And I found the final predictable scene in this a little too cheesy and “Hollywood” after watching this great bizarre story that can’t be easily explained.

So. I dunno. Maybe I should stop trying to read every single book before its film adaptation! My true love is film and I know this is a case where I definitely liked the film less than I would’ve if I hadn’t read the novel. However, it’s a damn good book so I’m still glad I read it and I highly recommend it to hard sci-fi fans. I guess I better read the rest of the Southern Reach Trilogy now (Annihilation is Book 1). I was waiting to see the film before continuing but now I wish I’d finished all three first. I can say I’m still an Alex Garland fan, though. I eagerly await his next project and hope he continues in this genre.

My Rating: 7/10

Lady Bird (2017) Review

Lady Bird (2017)

Directed & Written by Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Lois Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, it is a coming-of-age story of a high-school senior (Ronan) and her turbulent relationship with her mother (Metcalf).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this. It’s indie, though, so I had to go to a fancy, snobby cinema to actually be able to see it. There were sofas & fucking cushions. People had tea delivered to them. I don’t drink tea. I just wanted to stuff my face with popcorn. So I just sat there hungry instead (but comfy!).

Here’s a funny thing: I sat next to what appeared to be a grandmother with her 20-something granddaughter. They were talking about films (Yay! My kind of people) and the grandmother was talking about drive-ins and what they’re like in America. She told the granddaughter she needs to go to America sometime. The girl scoffed & said “Ha. No thanks! I’m alright. Not at the moment!“. I smiled to myself. Ahh… My home country is well & truly fucked. British people used to dream of visiting America. Now the thought of going there seems insane and potentially dangerous. What the fuck has happened? You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Shall I actually talk about this movie, which is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay? Does it deserve all the acclaim? Hmm. Yes & no. Maybe in the acting categories, at least. It’s a good coming of age film, a subgenre I love, but it’s not the absolute best of its kind that I’ve seen. I probably slightly preferred the previous  year’s The Edge Of Seventeen. Where were the nominations for that female-directed & written film??

The Oscars are going to get more interesting now & I’m very glad that they’re going to be more inclusive. But……. I dunno. Should Lady Bird be up for Best Picture & Director? I’m not sure about that but I don’t mind seeing it nominated for Best Picture. Lady Bird & Get Out do look like the odd ones out when looking at the more heavyweight nominees but not all movies have to be boring, heavy dramas to be good films. What I really want to see is the Oscars being more inclusive of ALL genres of films, regardless of who made them. A good movie is a good movie. The Oscars have always hated things like fantasy, science fiction, comedy, and horror. Brilliant films seem to be ignored if they’re not some boring ass historical drama that the majority of the public has no interest in seeing. The nominee I’m happiest about this year is The Shape Of Water. That’s slightly out of the Academy’s comfort zone. I want more stuff like that at the Oscars! Now if they can just accept science fiction… Arrival only getting ONE Oscar (Sound Editing) is a damn crime!!! Screw you, Academy!

Back to Lady Bird. I loved the tumultuous relationship between mother & daughter (Saoirse Ronan & Laurie Metcalf, both deserving of their nominations). Being both a mother & a daughter, I can confirm that it can be a complicated relationship at times & the film makes these characters feel real in their feelings & behavior. I’d have actually liked it to focus even more on the mother/daughter relationship than it did. I’d have liked slightly more time spent on Lady Bird’s relationships with her whole family, but the film does well with the character development in its hour & a half running time.

We get to see a lot of Lady Bird’s life at school with her best friend and with a couple of love interests. I loved her best friend (Beanie Feldstein). It made me wish I’d had a female friend in high school! But I went to school with a bunch of bitches. Lucas Hedges, from Manchester By The Sea, did well but there’s not a lot of time spent on him. And I finally got to see this Timothée Chalamet kid in a movie. He’s fine – it’s not a huge role and he’s an annoying rich boy so I’ll need to see him in more stuff. I still badly want to see Call Me By Your Name. Saoirse Ronan is the star of this, though, and I’m amazed that I never thought about the fact that she does NOT sound American in real life, so she must have done the accent well! Ronan & Metcalf make this film better. Without them, I’d have found it pretty average. But I kept hearing Andy’s mother from Toy Story… She didn’t have this much trouble with Andy!

Lady Bird is good but it’s indie and it’s definitely aimed more at females and at teenagers. Is it All-Time-Greatest-Best-Picture material? Not really. I’ve seen other coming of age films more worthy of Oscar nominations but I’m glad the Academy, through recognizing a wider variety of filmmakers, is probably going to end up giving us more variety in the film genres that receive nominations. Not all movies have to be The English Freaking Patient. (Lady Bird is far better than that one…)

My Rating: 7/10

Good Time & Kong: Skull Island Movie Reviews

Two quickie reviews for two 2017 movies that I finally saw. Then I’m going to focus on reviewing movies with at least one Oscar nomination (Kong: Skull Island has one nomination so I guess I’m kind of starting today). Next week I’ll review The Shape Of Water, Darkest Hour, and hopefully both Lady Bird & I, Tonya if I manage to see them after they’re released tomorrow. Oh, and tomorrow I’ll finally review The Greatest Showman (nominated in the Best Song category).

Good Time (2017)

Directed by Ben Safdie & Josh Safdie

Written by Josh Safdie & Ronald Bronstein

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster, Necro

Music by Oneohtrix Point Never

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After a heist goes awry, a bank robber spends a night trying to free his mentally handicapped brother from being sent to Riker’s Island prison.

My Opinion:

Good Time is one of those films that’s quite good but soooooo extremely “indie” that there’s absolutely no one in real life who I could recommend it to. Only you movie bloggers! 😉

So it appears this was directed by two filmmakers who are brothers & one also does the writing while the other also does the acting (in this case, playing the mentally handicapped brother of Robert Pattinson). This is certainly no Twilight! It’s good to see Pattinson in something so different. He does very well in this as a complete fuck-up who clearly loves & wants to take care of his brother despite not knowing at all what’s actually best for him.

I don’t really know what to say about this. You’ll either like its indie style or you won’t. Stuff happens but it’s the meandering sort of storyline that’s so common in indie films. The way that Pattinson’s character does absolutely everything wrong when it comes to his choices in life was amusing. I liked his brother (played by director Ben Safdie) and you really can’t help but kind of want things to work out for these two bumbling criminals. Oh! But, more than anything, I really liked the electronic score done by Oneohtrix Point Never. I’m a sucker for a good score & I know that really helped me to like this movie a little more than I otherwise might have. It kind of brought It Follows to mind. A good score is very important, filmmakers! Well done Safdie brothers & Oneohtrix Point Never.

My Rating: 7/10

**Forgot to say Jennifer Jason Leigh is barely in this. Damn. I like her.

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Based on King Kong by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, John C. Reilly

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1973, the film follows a team of scientists and a US Army unit recently withdrawn from the Vietnam War who travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific and encounter terrifying creatures and the mighty Kong.

My Opinion:

Speaking of good music in a film, Kong: Skull Island has this as well. This time, though, it was a kick ass soundtrack as opposed to the score (I can’t recall the score). The soundtrack was easily my favorite thing about this movie. What is it with Vietnam-era songs?? I love the angry songs from that time in history. Warning: I’m going to go off on a short non-movie-related rant here. Throughout history, the worst times for the human race have often resulted in fantastic music being made. People pour their hearts into their art during the most desperate times. So… Why does music FUCKING suck nowadays? Hmm?! The world is completely fucked up right now so where’s the great music as a result?????? I’ve wondered this for a while now.

Okay – let’s talk about this movie. It really kind of sucked. I hated it at first. I was mega tired & attempted to watch it & zonked out about 30 minutes in. I remember muttering something like “can’t they make a good monster movie….zzzzzzzz…..snore…….”. Then I tried again and still thought it sucked but kind of enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure sort of way. I think this was mainly thanks to (besides the soundtrack) John C. Reilly. Easily the best character. It took far too long to finally introduce him! No wonder I fell asleep the first time.

Oh. I suppose I should mention the monsters??? MonsterSSSS (plural). Was Kong not enough?! What’s with people these days? Never satisfied! I thought Kong was done quite well. And he was a far more developed character than all those random army guys who were there just to die in entertaining ways. Kong was cool – I think I could be friends with that dude. This movie really did improve in the second half (more Reilly & more Kong). So. I dunno. I enjoyed it yet thought it was a pretty bad film. Fun but bad. Like Road House! No. Wait. Road House is fucking awesome. That’s an 8/10 goodbad movie. Kong isn’t bad enough nor good enough to be goodbad. I’m making no sense. I’m mega tired again.

Awesome Vietnam songs! Black Sabbath & David Bowie! Holy shit! John C. Reilly great. Kong very good. Too many monsters spoil things (ONE other big monster to fight Kong is all we need). Rest of the characters extremely weak, especially all those random army guys. But I still always like having Samuel L. Jackson in a movie so that was a bonus. I enjoyed it more than Godzilla (2014). But I have to say that the best monster movie I’ve seen recently is definitely Colossal.

My Rating: 6/10

From the soundtrack: Time Has Come Today by The Chamber Brothers

The Babysitter (2017) Review

The Babysitter (2017)

Directed by McG

Starring: Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Andrew Bachelor, Emily Alyn Lind, Leslie Bibb, Ken Marino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The events of one evening take an unexpected turn for the worst for a young boy trying to spy on his babysitter.

My Opinion:

I liked the sound of this Netflix movie so decided I better watch it quick before October finishes and I’ll feel like taking a break from horror movies for a while. Plus, it’s a horror comedy and I’m often preferring those to just plain horror these days. It’s a fun movie but doesn’t quite make it onto My Top Ten Horror Comedies list (but I did add it as an honorable mention). At least it’s a hell of a lot better than Cooties, the only other horror comedy that I watched this month. And a quick shoutout to another horror comedy that I only saw for the first time last year and really liked plus I just realized I hadn’t yet added it to the above list: Trick ‘r Treat (2007). I got to thinking of it since Leslie Bibb was in that as well as The Babysitter. Both these films are worth checking out if you enjoy horror comedies.

The best part of this movie is the friendship between 12-year-old Judah Lewis and his sexy 16-year-old “babysitter” Samara Weaving, employed by his overprotective parents. The babysitter is protective of this awkward 12-year-old, sticking up for him when he’s harassed by bullies after school. She’s hot, of course, and he’s obviously got a crush on her but I liked that the movie didn’t make it weird: they’re more like a nerdy brother & protective older sister. Their conversations, although clearly written for nerd culture fanboys & fangirls, were a lot of fun. I’m always a sucker for good movie quotes & references.


Not at all predictable…

They do all they can to make the babysitter in this a nerd’s dreamgirl but that’s okay – that’s the whole point of this movie. Hot people (especially hot chicks who like Star Trek & Alien) and plenty of gore. This movie is meant to be fun and it is. As an added bonus, it’s actually pretty well-written, too – especially for this genre. And by that, I mean the characters & their lines. The overall story is pretty lame (I’ll stay spoiler-free so I won’t say what this freaky babysitter gets up to when the kid is asleep). But the focus is definitely only on comedy, gore & hot people. There’s no suspense or moody atmosphere or anything the slightest bit scary. The “horror story” is an afterthought, which is fine as long as you aren’t looking for a creepy film to watch for Halloween. The Babysitter is the movie you might start with as part of a Halloween marathon, when it’s not yet dark outside and you just want some laughs before moving onto the scary stuff.

There’s not much else that I can say about this one. The movie was exactly what I expected and I enjoyed it. Our two main characters were really good as was the smaller role of the boy’s classmate & neighbor girl (Emily Alyn Lind), who convinces him to stay awake to see what his babysitter gets up to after he goes to bed (since, of course, sexy babysitters all have orgies once the kids go to sleep). The other teens who show up include Robbie Amell & Bella Thorne, who were both in The DUFF (which I actually really liked). These actors mean nothing to me since I’m old but I know that young people on Twitter hate Bella Thorne with a passion for some reason (I have no idea why. Teen drama!). They both did well as the disposable asshole characters they’re meant to be. Hana Mae Lee, the funny mumbly one from Pitch Perfect, is another one of the teens as is Andrew Bachelor, who I’ve not seen in anything else. Sorry. And I see they’re all mid to late 20s other than 20-year-old Thorne. Ha! As I assumed. Gotta love how movie teens are usually pushing 30. Or 40, like in Grease. 😉

My Rating: 7/10

The Wailing (2016) & Green Room (2015) Reviews

I’m doing a double review again today. This time I’m reviewing South Korean horror The Wailing & Jeremy Saulnier’s ultra-violent Green Room, the follow-up to Blue Ruin. Here we go…

The Wailing (2016) (곡성, 哭聲, Gokseong)

Directed by Na Hong-jin

Starring: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.

My Opinion:

I was really excited about this film as there have been a lot of great South Korean horrors. A Tale Of Two Sisters, The Host, and the brilliant Train To Busan (which I plan to review on Halloween as it was my favorite horror movie this year. Well, that and It). Of those, I think The Wailing is probably my least favorite. However, it’s still a great horror film and far better than the majority of horror crap that Hollywood poops out.

The Wailing wasn’t at all what I expected from the synopsis of a “mysterious sickness”. I was thinking a zombie-like film or something bizarre & supernatural (which I love). I won’t say what it’s about but I’ll say it kind of ended up being a specific horror subgenre that’s a favorite of mine so I’m not sure why I didn’t love it. It did have an eerie atmosphere which worked really well to make it an unsettling film to be watching all by yourself late at night (which was how I watched it). The elements are all there to make it a fantastic horror movie and I did enjoy it but it’s unlikely to be one I’d watch again, especially with its 2 hour 36 minute running time.


Sorry – this is a short review and I doubt I’ve managed to sell this film to anyone even though it’s one of the better horror movies I watched this year. I think it’s because it’s a hard movie to explain and I found the story a bit muddled, which didn’t help. I also found myself not really caring about the characters, which was a shame as the other South Korean horrors I’ve seen (especially Train To Busan) had fantastic characters. However, I do recommend The Wailing to fans of foreign horror as it’s one definitely worth watching. If you’re new to foreign horror, I’d say this wouldn’t be the one to start on & would probably recommend Train To Busan instead.

My Rating: 7/10

Green Room (2015)

Directed & Written by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Green Room focuses on a punk band who find themselves attacked by neo-Nazi skinheads after witnessing a murder at a remote club in the Pacific Northwest.

My Opinion:

First of all, I absolutely hated Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin (which I trashed HERE to the annoyance of some fans of the film). I’m happy to inform you that I liked Green Room much more Blue Ruin. Yay! But I still can’t exactly say I loved it & I certainly won’t be rushing out to see Saulnier’s next film, whatever that may be. Boo! (Sorry). It’s a shame, as I wish I could’ve added Green Room to my list of My Top Ten Color Movies. Not even close! Okay – I just looked up Saulnier’s upcoming projects. Not because I want to watch them but because I wanted to see if they have colors in the title. Pfft. Nope! What the hell? Now I’m annoyed.

Here are the things I liked about this movie: 1) That poster is actually really cool. That green one up there. I like it a lot. And green is my favorite color. 2) Anton Yelchin. Is it weird that I still almost want to cry when I see him in stuff? I liked Yelchin and I really liked him in this. 3) The setup. Punk band members witness a murder & end up trapped in the green room of this neo-Nazi skinhead club they’ve been booked to play at (not knowing that it was a neo-Nazi skinhead club). It was a bit of a weird plot but felt quite original. I must say that, when I watched this close to a year ago, I found the setting interesting but extremely far fetched. But, holy hell – maybe places like this actually DO exist in America?!?! Wow. I’m sheltered. Fucking scary shit. 4) The band were pretty cool, especially Yelchin & Alia Shawkat, and I felt quite stressed and wanted them to be able to get out of this crazy situation. 5) It’s an intense movie so I give credit to Saulnier for making a pretty edge-of-your-seat film. It’s not slow & boring like Blue Ruin. 6) Imogen Poots was okay as well, although that skinhead hairdo bothered me. It felt like I was watching This Is England (which I far preferred to Green Room). Kind of nice to see Poots & Yelchin together again after Fright Night.


Here are the things I didn’t like so much: 1) That Poots hairdo 2) Patrick Stewart. Oh noooooo! I love Stewart!!! Oh man, that’s twice that I’ve kind of trashed him this month (I really didn’t like him in Lifeforce but that movie truly sucked balls). He’s not awful in this but he’s just, I dunno… Meh. And I don’t want Captain Picard & Professor X to be a baddie. Ever. Okay? 3) The movie is just so damn violent. And depressing. I mean, I know life isn’t a Disney movie. But GEEZ. 4) I’m now further depressed after finding out that this may be a more accurate representation of modern day America than I thought 5) Anton Yelchin’s poor arm!!!! Holy shit! That was nasty & unnecessary! 6) I just need to add this once more: This movie is just too violent. No thank you. Not for me.

Green Room is a good film if you like strong violence and some very intense scenes. I didn’t hate the movie but it’s just not really my type of thing. If it’s your type of thing, I can see why you’d probably like this one a lot.

My Rating: 6/10

The Gift (2015) & Coherence (2013) Reviews

Okay, these two aren’t horror films but they’re “mystery thrillers” (one a sci-fi mystery thriller) and it feels right to review them as part of October Horror Month. I love a good thriller! And these two weren’t too bad. Let’s discuss… 

The Gift (2015)

Directed & Written by Joel Edgerton

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Tim Griffin, Allison Tolman, Beau Knapp, P.J. Byrne, David Denman, Busy Philipps, Wendell Pierce, Katie Aselton, Mirrah Foulkes, Nash Edgerton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

My Opinion:

I thought this was a good film in terms of “psychological mind-fuckery”. I love psychological horrors & thrillers and Joel Edgerton’s character was creepy as shit. It’s a hard film to discuss without spoiling the outcome. I’ll just say that the horrible thing that may or may not occur (and it is truly disturbing) is left up to interpretation. I love it when it’s left up to the audience to decide. Did he or didn’t he?! Oh man, I hope not. It’s my own personal opinion that he did NOT. But that’s the whole point of the psychological fuckery behind Edgerton’s character’s motives. It’s a well written psychological thriller and I did enjoy it (despite being somewhat offended and grossed-out…!).

Sorry for the vague review. If you’ve not seen it, it’s better if you don’t know much about it. I’d compare it to another rather random favorite “psychological mind-fuckery” film of mine: Malice starring Nicole Kidman & Alec Baldwin. I’ve not thought of that one in a long time. I can’t exactly say that was a “great” film but it was a thoroughly entertaining thriller. Hmm… Another one that comes to mind is David Fincher’s The Game (although I wouldn’t say The Gift was as good as The Game). Another fun one was Shattered (1991). Overall, The Gift is a decent psychological thriller & I wish more films like this were still made. It feels like we don’t get as many movies within this genre nowadays as we did in the 80s/early 90s. I’d like to see more being made again (even if they’re cheesy like those 80s/early 90s ones often were!). It’s a fun genre.

My Rating: 7/10

Coherence (2013)

Directed & Written by James Ward Byrkit

Starring: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

My Opinion:

This movie is very much my type of thing (mindfuck sci-fi!) and I really liked it. I need to see it again, though. This is one of those movies that you’ll probably need to rewatch to catch things you may have missed the first time around. So, hey hubby! I know you were annoyed I watched this without you. I’ll rewatch it with you sometime! 😉

I’ll say it starts out quite slow and some of the friends who’ve gathered for a dinner party had the potential to really get on my nerves. Why are people at dinner parties in movies so annoying? Who the hell has dinner parties in real life anyway? Maybe I just have no class. If you come to my house, I’ll just order a pizza & we can watch a movie! Anyway, this started out a bit like a thriller I reviewed last year for October Horror Month: The Invitation (which I also quite liked despite it starting out with some annoying dinner party wankers). But Coherence gets far more weird than that one. Oh I do love weird!

In reading about this, I read that director & writer James Ward Byrkit was inspired by The Twilight Zone, which would explain why I liked it since that’s my absolute favorite TV series ever. It does have a very Twilight Zone feel. I do have to compare it to a few other movies I’ve seen in the past few years to better give you an idea of what it’s like. By the way, I recommend all these films: Primer (although it was WAY over my head), Predestination (love this crazy time travel mind-bender), and Circle (fantastic story in which a group of 50 strangers wake up in a mysterious room and realize that someone will die every two minutes & that they have the ability to choose who will be next). To be honest, although I thought Coherence was pretty great, I think I was slightly underwhelmed simply because I saw Predestination & Circle first and I thought they were brilliant mindfuck science fiction films. If you watch them, just keep an open mind. Especially with Circle, which seemed very low budget but had such a good story that I didn’t care.

As for Coherence, I’d probably again say it’s best to not know too much beforehand so I’ve not gotten into any specifics about the story. I love the idea that comets could totally mess us up, though. That’s such 1950’s Twilight Zone thinking! I will just say that they don’t all turn into weird comet-zombies like in Night Of The Comet (that movie kicks ass, by the way). 😉 I do recommend this movie to lovers of sci-fi weirdness and promise you’ll enjoy the story after the dinner party wankers stop being annoying once the weird shit starts going down.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

My Opinion:

I saw this a few weeks ago but never reviewed it and now it’s annoying me because I at least try to review the current releases I actually go out to see, so…. I’ll keep this short! I don’t have a lot to say.

I liked this but, as I often say about these sort of movies, I’m getting very superheroed-out. There are some that I truly do enjoy (like Wonder Woman & especially the Guardians Of The Galaxy films) but I’d probably never bother to re-watch half the superhero movies I’ve seen. I think Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the ones I’m unlikely to watch again. Sorry… It’s not bad! It just feels like, you know, more of the same old thing despite trying to be a little bit different with certain things (like with saucy Aunt May).

The storyline is a pretty standard Marvel storyline so I couldn’t get too excited about that but I did like the John Hughes-esque teen movie thing going on, which worked well instead of feeling forced. Tom Holland & his friends felt like actual teenagers, as they’re meant to be. Which leads me to the very best thing about this movie: Tom Holland is great. He’s easily my favorite Spider-Man between him, Andrew Garfield & Tobey Maguire. I think they finally got the character right (not that I can have a fully informed opinion since it’s not like I read the comics or anything). But, seriously – he’s the most believable as a teenager (he’s 21!) and easily the most likeable.

I also really enjoyed Michael Keaton & Marisa Tomei in this. I like the career revival Michael Keaton has had these past few years (he’s still my favorite Batman, okay??) and I’ve liked Tomei ever since Untamed Heart (that movie rules & I love it). I like saucy Aunt May! I looked up Tomei’s age as well as Holland’s. She’s 52! That’s awesome. I like that Hollywood is actually seeming to be a little less scared lately of using actors & actresses who dare to be over 40. Anyway – Holland, Keaton & Tomei are perfect in these roles and are what make this movie so enjoyable since the story itself is a bit “whatever”.


I can see why people do like this movie and I’m sorry that I think I sound more negative than I actually feel. If I was a teen/early twentysomething, I think I’d probably love it & would see it as “my” Spider-Man (like those who grew up with the Tobey Maguire ones are so fond of those). I think this latest incarnation of Spider-Man is easily the most promising of the last three & the younger generation are lucky to have Holland as “their” Spider-Man. I assume we’ll be getting to see more of Zendaya in a sequel (I was surprised her role was so small in this), which would be good as I want to see more of Peter Parker’s awkward teenage high school life & all of his relationships (even more than his Spider-Man life). But, as for his Spider-Man life, I think he’s the perfect fit to work alongside the other Marvel superheroes. That’s one of the best things about the Marvel films – I think all the actors are pretty much perfect in their superhero roles and also have great chemistry when they’re all brought together. I’m happy to know that this is the Spider-Man we get to see working with them. I think the previous two would have felt out of place with them so Holland clearly has a certain star power to work so well alongside such established actors & actresses.

My Rating: 7/10

Gifted (2017) Review

Gifted (2017)

Directed by Marc Webb

Starring: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Frank, a single man raising his child prodigy niece Mary, is drawn into a custody battle with his mother.

My Opinion:

Quickie review! Saw this a good few weeks ago & realized I never reviewed it. Not because I didn’t like it – I’ve just been too busy. I actually quite liked it, as far as family films go. I doubt it’s still in cinemas now but it’s worth a watch at home if you like the sound of it.

I went to Gifted with the hubby and the eight-year-old. I’m enjoying the fact that she’s of the age now where we’re getting to go to more non-animated “family” films. I wish there were more of them! We saw this not long after A Dog’s Purpose (which we all really liked). We all enjoyed this one as well but I think the kid & I slightly preferred A Dog’s Purpose because: Cute dogs. Although Gifted has: Cute Chris Evans. So, they kind of even out.

Chris Evans & Mckenna Grace are the true stars of this and what make the movie work as they’re believable as a single uncle & the niece he has to raise after his sister commits suicide (warning for if you do take a kid, although I don’t remember the topic of suicide exactly being dwelled on & my kid didn’t ask any questions about it). They were great together & my kid really liked Grace & the cheekiness of her character, who is extremely clever beyond her years. Octavia Spencer is also good as the neighbor & friend of Evans & Grace but also very wasted in this small role. Lindsay Duncan plays the mother of Evans, who fights him for custody of her granddaughter once she realizes she has inherited her daughter’s mathematical genius.


What else can I say? There’s not a lot more to this story but the characters were pretty strong and the custody battle was interesting. Evans wants to raise his child prodigy niece as a normal kid in a normal school with a normal life. The grandmother wants to raise her as the child genius that she is, with all the best schooling & training that money can buy (and which the working class Chris Evans can’t afford). So it comes down to which values you believe in (although the majority will be on the uncle’s side because the grandmother is a bitch). I’ll say that the movie has an interesting turn of events & it’s not often that I can’t guess the ending to a pretty simple family film so bonus points for that. I enjoyed the film. All three of us did. Give it a watch with your family on… whatever streaming service(s) to which you subscribe (it was so much easier when you could just say “watch it on home video”). 😉

My Rating: 7/10

Dogville (2003) Review

Happy 50th Birthday to Nicole Kidman!

Instead of a birthday Top Ten, I figured I should review Dogville since I watched it recently. Looking at Kidman’s films, there are still a few big ones I need to see before doing a Top Ten anyway so maybe I’ll do that list next year if I’m still blogging. It would be an interesting list as she’s done many different types of films but I’m pretty sure that my current favorites are the underrated To Die For, guilty pleasure Malice, and great ghost story The Others. I’ve never been a huge fan but Kidman has gone up in my estimation in the last few years and I thought she was really good in the Big Little Lies TV series, based on the Liane Moriarty book. I’m looking forward to seeing her in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.

Now let’s see what I thought of this three-hour-long Lars von Trier avant-garde play that explores human morality. Woohoo! PARTY! Dogville would make for a fun double feature with The Hateful Eight… 😉

Dogville (2003)

Directed & Written by Lars von Trier

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Lauren Bacall, Chloë Sevigny, Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, Ben Gazzara, James Caan

Narrated by John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado town. In exchange, she agrees to work for them. As a search visits town, she finds out that their support has a price. Yet her dangerous secret is never far away…

My Opinion:

This is the third Lars von Trier film I’ve seen after Dancer In The Dark & Melancholia (which I reviewed HERE & which I quite liked. Sort of. I think…). His work is certainly not to everyone’s taste and, in looking up Dogville, critics’ reviews were either “this is a masterpiece” or “what a load of pretentious bollocks” (I’m paraphrasing there but it’s what they meant). I liked Dogville. I preferred Melancholia but both are unique and, so far, I like what I’ve seen of von Trier’s style and think we may have a similar view on people (although I think he seems to have even less faith in humanity than I do).

Dogville’s set up, as a play with very few props and where each house in the small town is shown as an outline from above, took less getting used to than I was expecting. The story & the acting were good enough to not really need props, special effects, etc. If you seriously hate plays I suppose you might not have the patience for this film. However, like with The Hateful Eight, this movie is unnecessarily long. Three hours! It wasn’t needed. I don’t think the extra time really added much depth to the characters – the story could have been told just as well with an hour shaved off. But I’m admittedly getting old & tired & too damn busy to sit through these extra long movies. Then again…. No. It IS too long, dammit. I’m not just being grumpy. When it’s necessary for the story, really great movies don’t feel too long. Seven Samurai doesn’t feel too long. Seven Samurai is a masterpiece.

Dogville is decent. I’m glad I sat through it (in three sittings). But it’s not a masterpiece and it’s not as important as it thinks it is. However, to automatically label it pretentious does seem unfair. Von Trier took a gamble on trying something different that certainly wouldn’t appeal to mainstream audiences (well, duh – that seems to describe all his films) but I think it worked pretty well overall for Dogville.

Kidman was very good and I loved John Hurt’s narration (I’ve added Dogville to My Top Ten John Hurt Movies list of all I’ve seen of his but it just misses out on being in the ten). Actually, Hurt’s voice was probably the very best thing about the film – I’m going to keep exploring his work that I missed out on. He was certainly an underrated actor. As for everyone else, they all did a very good job in making us hate the shit out of them. Paul Bettany had an especially interesting role as the only one who seemed to be on Kidman’s side but, although not directly unkind, he ends up the worst of the lot. I wanted to punch him in the damn face. So… Yeah. You’re meant to hate these characters. And you will. So they all succeed in their roles but, of course, it doesn’t make for a pleasant three hours. It’s a film worth a watch but you’ll need to be in the right frame of mind before giving this one a go. I liked the concept and von Trier’s attempt to explore humanity and what could happen if we had the ability to completely take advantage of someone in need. Would we treat them kindly or not? Von Trier obviously thinks not. I wonder why he hates people so much?! But, I must admit to really liking how this film ends so maybe I’m not so different from the residents of Dogville. Which I suppose is von Trier’s obvious point. But, seriously – he could’ve gotten that point across in well under three hours. 😉

My Rating: 7/10

**Just thought I’d add this bit I read at Wikipedia, as I was unaware that this film is meant to be the first part of a trilogy:

The film is the first in von Trier’s projected USA – Land of Opportunities trilogy, which was followed by Manderlay (2005) and is projected to be completed with Washington.

I liked Dogville okay but doubt I can be bothered to watch the rest, unless the final one gets rave reviews when it’s finally made… I think I’ll next check out those Nymphomaniac films instead. Which also look like loads of fun. PARTY! 😉

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) Review

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Directed by Lasse Hallström

Based on A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Josh Gad, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.

My Opinion:

So, yeah – I clearly went to this with the family over the weekend. You know what? It’s not bad! For a family movie. Well, it’s actually not bad for a movie in general. Hubby & I often say that they don’t seem to do as many non-animated “family films” nowadays. We had so many growing up in the Eighties! I miss them. And now that I have a young kid, I want more of them again.

My main concern beforehand was that this movie would be overly sentimental or, even WORSE and a massive pet peeve of mine, that it would be preachy. I hate movies that shove their values down your throat! Luckily, A Dog’s Purpose doesn’t do this. It tells the story in a straightforward way and it’s obvious message (of what things are truly the most important in life) isn’t at all heavy-handed. It comes fairly close to being like all my beloved 80’s family films I saw on TV all the time growing up. Plus, of course, it has cute dogs. Who doesn’t love cute wittle doggies?!

I just have to say something that may be spoiler territory if you know nothing at all but is known if you’ve seen the trailer or read the synopsis: There are several dogs (five, I think) because the dog keeps getting reincarnated. It was cool seeing him as different dogs (always voiced by Josh Gad) and with different owners/families. I like the sort of setup where you get several different stories in a movie and it worked really well in this film. Anyway – someone started sobbing the first time the dog died and I was thinking “I do hope they realize this is gonna happen over & over again.” Lol. Not to be cold-hearted but, seriously, you must know what you’re getting into if you go to a movie where a dog keeps getting reincarnated… 😉 (That person cried every time)

A Dog’s Purpose was a pleasant surprise and a nice return to an old-fashioned family friendly film with a positive message that occurs naturally instead of feeling forced. Will you enjoy it even if you don’t have a family? I think any dog lover certainly will. And with several different stories, you’ll find one or two that you connect with the most. I liked the main story focusing on the dog as a golden retriever named Bailey, which is the personality the dog continues to identify with and remember through all his lifetimes, and the story where he’s a corgi named Tino belonging to a lonely college girl. I guarantee you’ll love Bailey, no matter which form he takes. And as an added plus, the human characters are likable as well!

My Rating: 7/10

FYI – I’d heard nothing of the controversy surrounding this film due to a video of alleged animal abuse that made the rounds just as this movie was released in the US (maybe that’s why it has come out so much later in the UK). Anyway, as with most fake news, I’m sure that faked video was spread around far more than the story of the investigation that showed it was re-edited to make it look like animal abuse. Here’s the story (from Los Angeles Daily News). Hopefully no one’s career was ruined. We all care about animals being treated well but I often wish humans cared half as much about other human beings as they do animals.

Get Out (2017) Review

Get Out (2017)

Directed & Written by Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Catherine Keener

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Get Out follows a young interracial couple who visit the mysterious estate of the woman’s parents.

My Opinion:

Get Out was a pretty good and enjoyable film, especially for something from the “horror” genre (90% of modern horror movies suck). Then again, it’s not exactly your typical shitty, slasher-type crap. It had some thought put into it, a decent script & acting, and some likable characters. It also feels somewhat original compared to the usual stale horror movie crap that Hollywood pumps out. However, I don’t think it’s as groundbreaking as I’d expected from the little I had read of it. To be fair, I’m old & watch too many movies so I’m harder to impress but I do feel like I’ve seen this movie a few times already, just with a different spin.

Okay, I can’t do this completely spoiler-free. HUBBY – STOP READING HERE. (He hates even the tiniest spoilers). I’m not exactly going to spoil this movie but I AM going to name a few movies this film immediately brought to my mind as I watched it. So, if you’ve seen them, I guess that spoils this one for you. I’d already heard this movie compared to one specific film when skimming some reviews & it ruined it a bit as it meant the ending wasn’t really a surprise to me. So, SLIGHT SPOILERS NOW:

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This is very much The Stepford Wives (with racism instead of sexism) and I wish I hadn’t read that beforehand. However, I think updating the concept behind The Stepford Wives was actually a good idea & it worked very well in Get Out. I’ve always liked The Stepford Wives (and, bizarrely, The Stepford Children, a cheesy 1987 TV movie that I was obsessed with at the time & reviewed HERE). The other two movies I was reminded of were two guilty pleasures: the body horror classic Society (which I sort-of-reviewed HERE) and the super cheesy but kind of fun The Skeleton Key (which unfortunately has Kate Hudson in it. Ew). Between those three movies, you have Get Out. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing as plenty of movies are influenced by others and Get Out is certainly a better film than The Skeleton Key, is probably better although less memorable than Society, and is a worthy homage to the Stepford films.

I’m not going to ramble on about this film. It’s had excellent reviews & a lot of people really loved it. I can understand why as it’s a well-written social commentary with some fun comic relief provided by the dog-sitting friend. The acting was better than you get in your standard sort of horrors (just Allison Williams was weak) and I really liked the tone & use of music. But I still feel like this story has been done before & the movie is probably getting a little more hype than is deserved just because of its message. And I prefer to think the message is “Rich people are assholes”. Right??? I think that’s something we can all agree on. Yeah. Rich people. Rich people suck. 😉

There is one very important life lesson that I gained from this film: Bangs (or a fringe as they call it in the UK) do NOT suit everyone. Allison Williams, you gotta grow that shit out. That was a very bad decision.

My Rating: 7/10

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Directed by Chad Stahelski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

My Opinion:

I think these John Wick films could grow on me if they keep making them. Although, having said that, I also hope they stop and make it only a trilogy to avoid overkill (Ha! Literally, since there’s a lot of killing in these!!!! Holy hell).

I reviewed the first John Wick HERE last week & gave it a sort of “meh” review. I’ve felt kind of bad about that ever since. It was a fun action film. If you don’t take it too seriously, you should enjoy it. I was possibly going to wait for the sequel to come to Netflix but an opportunity arose for me to go see it over the weekend so I did. I’m glad I did. This is one of those instances where the sequel has actually made me like the original film even more. Things are coming together and I think this becoming a trilogy will be perfect. We’re leaning more about John Wick and this crazy secret society of hitmen with their strict rules of conduct. But, at the same time, it maintains the air of mystery from the first film which at first slightly annoyed me but now makes more sense as I realize that maybe we shouldn’t know absolutely everything about the character of John Wick. We don’t need to. He’s an ex-killer. No… He’s had a change of heart but he’s still a killer. He’s far from perfect. But none of that really matters. We just want to see him kick ass. We still want to see him kick ass because THAT PUPPY WAS SO DAMN CUTE.

I’m going to keep this review short as I think I spent long enough explaining my feelings in my review of the first film. I want to love these movies as much as everyone else seems to but they still don’t quite resonate with me. I stand by my opinion that, when comparing Keanu Reeves action flicks, the John Wicks come nowhere near the awesomeness of Point Break. They also don’t manage to match up to Speed or The Matrix. However, I’ll give them this: John Wick: Chapter 2 is a very strong sequel that actually manages to elevate the first one whereas the Speed & Matrix sequels were so bad that they almost managed to completely destroy the original films.

These John Wick films are definitely headed in the right direction and I’m now looking forward to the next film much more than I’d expected. This sequel is even more slick & stylish than the first and the scenes in Rome plus an action-packed scene in a mirrored art installation were a joy to watch. And with so many exceptionally strong supporting characters (I’ve especially liked Willem Dafoe & Ian McShane but I could go on & on listing all the great characters), I can’t wait to see everyone again. The characters who are still alive, that is… 😉 Plus you know they’ll get just as many impressive actors for the next film as well since someone clearly has great Hollywood connections. Maybe Keanu is just friends with everyone in Hollywood. Who doesn’t love Keanu, right?

Oh! One last thought that I had in the middle of watching Chapter 2. Maybe this is why these films are subconsciously growing on me? In a youth-obsessed Hollywood, it suddenly occurred to me just how old the majority of the main cast in both John Wick films are. Keanu himself is (a very hot) 52! McShane (74), Dafoe (61), Fishburne (55), Leguizamo (52). Even the dead-flashback-wife is age-appropriate to her husband instead of being 20 years younger (Bridget Moynahan – 45). Wick 2 also has a very memorable scene proving that 45 can be sexy with a great performance from 45-year-old actress Claudia Gerini. And Common is as handsome as always in this sequel (I loved that he had such a big role) – It’s just funny to think that he’s kind of a youngster in comparison to everyone else (only 44!).


Anyway, this won’t seem like a big deal to twentysomethings but it was kind of awesome when I thought about it. These super violent, action-packed, stylish, well-acted, kick-ass John Wick movies star people old enough to be your parents & grandparents! And I’m thinking it doesn’t matter to the younger audience anyway, judging from the wide twentysomething to sixtysomething gender mix of those watching this in my cinema. They’ve managed to appeal to all ages & genders with these films, which is quite an accomplishment for action movies. I do get their appeal. They’re growing on me. I promise. I’ve upped my John Wick 1 rating (to the same as my rating for this one). If the next movie is just as good, I’ll up them all to 7.5. I promise. Let’s hope these films continue on this upward trajectory. Yeah, they might already deserve a 7.5. I may change my mind. I do that a lot. 😉 But for now…

My Rating: 7/10

I’m already thinking 7/10 may be a little low. FYI: This movie was FAR more violent than I expected based on its 15 rating in the UK. Just a warning for those with kids in the 15 age range. It was almost Tarantino-level violence. It was actually a bit much for me. (I’m a wuss). I’m a bit shocked that it’s not rated 18…

John Wick (2014) & The Neon Demon (2016) Movie Reviews

With John Wick: Chapter 2 coming out, I figured I better review the first film (which I finally watched a few months ago). So I wrote the below review. After writing it, I then watched The Neon Demon. I must say that John Wick has gone up in my estimation since seeing The Neon Demon. Every movie EVER MADE has now gone up in my estimation since seeing The Neon F*%#ing Demon!!!!! Let’s talk about these, shall we…?

John Wick (2014)

Directed by Chad Stahelski & David Leitch

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

My Opinion:

I love Keanu Reeves. And, apparently, I’m not alone. I was very surprised when a list I did last year of My Top Ten Keanu Reeves Movies was one of my most viewed & most shared posts. Yay! Everyone loves Keanu! I honestly didn’t realize he was so popular.

So I made that list having not yet seen John Wick or The Neon Demon and figured I could update it once I’ve watched them. Well, I’ve now updated the list. I can tell you that The Neon Demon sure as SHIT doesn’t make the top ten (it’s atrocious). Unfortunately, John Wick doesn’t quite manage to break into my top ten either. It’s very close! I’ve put it at 12 but it’s probably hovering around the 10, 11 or 12 range depending on my mood… So there you go – I’m sure you were all dying to know my final official ranking of Keanu Reeves films! 😉

John Wick is a really fun action film. It was what I expected in being all style over substance so that didn’t bother me at all. We all need to turn off our brains sometimes & just watch a fun action flick! I think I was just disappointed that it wasn’t as much fun or as stylish as I’d been expecting in order for it to make up for that lack of substance. It’s an okay film but comes absolutely nowhere near Keanu’s best. This is no The Matrix or Speed and it’s especially no Point Break (Point Break rules!). Damn. But, man, I loved that puppy. Cutest puppy EVER! I’m giving this movie a slightly higher rating simply because of the puppy. A BEAGLE. A SNOOPY puppy!!!!!


Wook at that wittle face!

I do know how to enjoy a fun “popcorn” movie and, no, I wasn’t expecting Oscar-quality writing or acting in John Wick. However, I needed to know the character of John Wick a little better in order to care about him & his quest for vengeance. We get some flashbacks of his wife and, of course, we meet his adorable puppy. However, we didn’t get much of his backstory. I felt like I didn’t know a thing about him by the end other than that he was sad about his dead wife (not a spoiler – she’s already dead at the beginning of the movie). I mean, he’s a (former) killer. Right? How is he any better than the many, many (many) people he proceeds to kill throughout this film? Because a cute puppy licked his face & he loved his pretty wife?

Okayyyy – I fully admit to falling asleep in the middle of this like I often do during films at home so maybe I missed something (I’m a parent. I’m exhausted). 😉 Why did he retire? For love? Or because he developed a conscience? I hope that was the reason… The only way I can describe it is this: I sometimes watch a movie and feel like I’ve jumped right into the middle of it and missed a bunch of the beginning where they’ve set up the characters & the story. I felt that way 30 minutes into John Wick despite missing absolutely nothing from the start. I almost cared more about Willem Dafoe’s character (a great character, from the very little we get to know him – I’d love to know more about his previous relationship with Wick as well). Well, maybe we’ll find out more in the sequel? As fun as it is to watch some shoot-em-up non-stop action sometimes, I still want to know a little about the main character at the very least. If I care about him, I’ll get more enjoyment from his revenge. I do love a really good revenge movie! I liked John Wick well enough to watch the sequel but it’s a “wait for it to show up on Netflix” movie for me. (Although, initial reviews of the sequel are very good so maybe I can be talked into making a trip to the cinema for it. But the sequel puppy isn’t nearly as cute…!!!)

My Rating: 7/10

**SPOILERS. Kind of.**

The Neon Demon (2016)

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves

Plot Synopsis: Guy succeeds in making a decent film called Drive, which then gives him the freedom to make the biggest pile of shit I’ve seen since similar success for another writer led to the creation of the atrocious Jennifer’s Body. The Neon Demon makes Jennifer’s Body look good. 

My Opinion:

I called a movie that I reviewed last week a “load of pretentious bullshit” (the movie Comet). I now apologize profusely to that movie. I’d rather be strapped to a chair “Clockwork Orange-style” & forced to watch Comet 100 times than to ever have to even THINK about The Neon Demon again. I want to wipe this movie from my memory “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind-style“. I want to go back in time and, “Marty McFly-style”, tell myself it’s my destiny (density!) to NEVER watch The Neon Demon. I want to take a flame thrower to this movie “Ellen Ripley-style“. I want to get medieval on this movie’s ass “Marsellus Wallace- style“. I want to stick this movie’s head in a box “Gwyneth Paltrow-style“. I want to banish this movie to the cornfield “Twilight Zone-style“. I want this movie to eat itself, to puke itself up, to re-eat itself, to piss itself out, and to f*%k its own corpse “The Neon Demon-style“.

I can’t truly put into words just how much I hated The Neon Demon and its fake, derivative, shallow, pointless, pretentious aping of artistic masters such as Jodorowsky, Buñuel, Argento, von Trier, Cronenberg, Lynch, etc etc. Not everyone will be a fan of all of those I’ve named (I’m not even saying that I like them all myself) but, like their work or not, at least they did their own thing instead of making superficial & inferior copies of their influences.

I’ll give this movie an extra point for Elle Fanning, though, as I thought she did a decent job for her young age. Other than Fanning, everyone in this is now slightly ruined for me the next time I see them in other films (even Keanu, dammit). Still love him, though, so I’ll try to put this movie out of my mind. But I hope to never see Jena Malone in anything ever again so am very glad that I wasn’t a fan of hers in the first place. More than anything, I’m annoyed that this has tainted the movie Drive and especially that it has ruined Drive’s soundtrack for me, which I liked even more than the film. I’ve hated plenty of movies over the years but I don’t think there’s ever been one that I actually regretted seeing. The Neon Demon may very well be the first. In that regard, I suppose you at least have to give Nicolas Winding Refn credit for creating a film that generated some strong reactions from its’ viewers. I don’t mind movies with some shock value (of those I mentioned above, I do love a lot of Cronenberg’s work) but, to quote my husband, “The Neon Demon thinks it’s art when it’s merely just artifice”.

My Rating: 2/10

The Color Of Money (1986) Review

Yesterday would’ve been Paul Newman’s birthday so I decided to kick off January with my Blind Spot review of The Hustler (review HERE). And since I’m a completist, I naturally had to watch the 1986 sequel directed by Martin Scorsese. Let’s have a look at Newman 25 years older as Edward “Fast Eddie” Felson in The Color Of Money

The Color Of Money (1986)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Color of Money by Walter Tevis

Starring: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver, John Turturro

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film continues the story of pool hustler and stakehorse Edward “Fast Eddie” Felson from Tevis’ first novel, The Hustler (1959), with Newman reprising his role from the 1961 film adaptation. The film begins more than 25 years after the events of the previous film, with Eddie retired from the pool circuit.

My Opinion:

This was a fun film but certainly not on the same level as the 1961 classic The Hustler plus it also suffers a tiny bit from that “dated 80’s movie” feel. This is unfortunate. However, if you’ve watched & liked The Hustler, I’d still recommend giving this one a go to see what Newman’s “Fast Eddie” is up to 25 years after the events of the first film.

The one thing I found interesting is that Newman is the true star of this movie. Well, of course he is but what I mean is that he so massively outshines Tom Cruise. I find this interesting as this film came out the same year as Top Gun but Cruise seems much younger and less experienced in this one. In my review of The Hustler, I mentioned how Newman had that special “something” that only certain actors have & it gave him a presence and a star quality that is lacking in Cruise in this film. Cruise often does have that movie star quality, though (such as in Top Gun). But I’ve clearly aged as I found the 60-year-old Newman far more attractive than the 20-something Cruise in this. Hmm! Showing my age again (I’d just like to point out that I’m younger than Cruise currently is, at least).

Newman is very good in this & actually won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Well, I think the Academy was clearly just making it up to him as it was his role in The Hustler that should’ve won instead. That’s The Academy for you, though! They realize their mistakes then reward someone another time instead. Glad he won one, though.

This isn’t as hard-hitting as The Hustler and doesn’t have the intense relationships that made that film so highly regarded. Cruise’s character comes across as an immature child (I think that’s the point) but it doesn’t make for a story that is as interesting to watch as the first film. He doesn’t have the same sort of chemistry with Newman as those in the first film had. I was never really a fan of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio but she’s good in this (and was also Oscar-nominated, unlike Cruise) and there’s some decent sexual tension between her & Newman.

The first half of the movie, which focuses on Cruise & Mastrantonio teaming up with Newman, was missing something due to this lack of chemistry between our male leads (and also due to me knowing that the first movie was so strong on its focus on human interaction). However, the second half does pick up as Newman’s character goes on a journey of self-discovery type of thing and he starts to feel more like the complex & somewhat broken “Fast Eddie” from The Hustler. I did enjoy this movie overall and liked revisiting Newman’s character. And it’s reminded me once again that I have to seek out more of Paul Newman’s work. Especially his older films… What a hunk.

Oh yeah – and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a Martin Scorsese movie so I’ve now added another one to my list of Scorsese films seen. I’ve already done My Top Ten Martin Scorsese Movies (list HERE) and The Color Of Money would break into my Top Ten (probably at, hmm… 8 or 9).

My Rating: 7/10

Oh, shit! I totally forgot to add that Iggy Pop has a small role in this! That was an awesome surprise. Check him out:

Also, I’ve know for years that Eric Clapton’s It’s In The Way That You Use It was in this since it had one of those videos with clips from the movie. Here you go! I’m not a big fan of solo Clapton but I like this song okay:

The DUFF & The Scorch Trials Movie Reviews 

Welcome to my “Young Adult Movie Adaptation Review Special“! I read one of these books (the movie was awful) and didn’t read the other book (the movie was surprisingly fun). Let’s see which was which…

The DUFF (2015)

Directed by Ari Sandel

Based on The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Nick Eversman, Skyler Samuels, Bianca A. Santos

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts.

My Opinion:

Even at my advanced age, I still enjoy a good teen comedy. Obviously, nothing will ever compare to my 80’s John Hughes classics but there have been a couple post-1989 ones that haven’t been too bad (Clueless, American Pie, etc). But the majority are bad and full of hateful teens (like in stuff such as Project X and, sadly, Dope – a movie I was hoping to love). However, The DUFF is easily one of the better ones I’ve seen from this genre in a long time & I really enjoyed it.

Mae Whitman (the voice of Tinker Bell in all those Tinker Bell movies! You’ll know them well if you have a daughter 😉 ) plays the DUFF, aka the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”. I liked her in the fantastic The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and she’s a lot of fun in this & totally relatable as a “real world girl”. I hate saying that as it sounds so rude but, yeah – unlike the girls in all other Hollywood movies, she looks like a normal person. Hollywood movie girls are too ridiculously attractive and it sets a bad example (especially in teen movies).

Whitman’s two best friends in this are of the unrealistic ridiculously attractive variety but I suppose they were trying to make her look less attractive in comparison. But, anyway! That’s not entirely relevant as this movie isn’t really trying to make as big of a statement on superficiality as I was expecting. Whitman’s character is, at first, entirely content with how she looks & dresses – she only changes when someone calls her a “DUFF”. So I guess the main message is more about how we treat people but there’s a bit of a moral about accepting yourself the way you are.

Anyway… Forget I said all that! This isn’t some annoying teen movie that thinks it has an important message or something – it’s just a lighthearted comedy & actually quite funny compared to a lot of current teen flicks. The humor is a tad on the raunchy side (fine by me) so this is probably aimed more at the mid to late-teen age range. Although certainly not at the same level as something like Heathers (nothing is!), The DUFF is smart & sassy like a lot of the 80’s teen classics. Hopefully more teen movies go in the same direction as this one since I’ll probably still be watching this genre when I’m 90.

My Rating: 7/10

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Directed by Wes Ball

Based on The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Patricia Clarkson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot of The Scorch Trials takes place immediately after the previous installment, with Thomas (O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers battling the powerful World Catastrophe Killzone Department (W.C.K.D., or WICKED), while facing the perils of the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with dangerous obstacles.

My Opinion:

WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!?!?! I’m so damn confused by this movie! I’ve read The Maze Runner trilogy (I did a recap & review of the final book HERE last week) and, although I have some major issues with it and it often annoyed the hell out of me, I thought it was a decent enough story overall. I read the books after seeing the first film, which I found quite enjoyable (much more enjoyable than the books, actually). So I finally watched The Scorch Trials after finishing the books. IT BARELY EVEN RESEMBLES THE BOOK!!! ??? Why ???

I would assume that books can be quite hard to adapt into films, especially long books that must be reduced to a roughly two-hour running time. The Scorch Trials isn’t a long book, however. Plus, the first movie was faithful to the book so it’s even more confusing that they’ve decided to take things in such a different direction in the sequel. I’m not overly bothered about a 100% faithful adaptation as I know things sometimes need slight changing or need to be left out due to running time. As long as there are no major changes that completely mess with the storyline, characters’ intentions/personalities, or the overall themes, I’m fine with them.

Well, The Scorch Trials has major changes. No, wait – that’s not exactly right as you can’t even really call them changes… It has completely new stuff added in. It’s so drastically different that it feels like the screenwriter(s) didn’t even read the book & instead based the story on its back cover synopsis or on some weird ass “Chinese whispers” version of the story.

You know what? I don’t care. I’m not going to waste my time reviewing this. It lost my interest after it started going so completely off the rails that I went & did other things around the house while it kept playing in the background. I’m not sure what the hell was going on. After this movie, I’m not going to bother with the next one since I sure as shit can’t be bothered to re-watch this one to figure out what the hell was going on. BAH! What a stupid waste of time. Either be faithful to a book or, if that fails, don’t follow it AT ALL & just steal the name (like World War Z). At least I knew beforehand with that one that they ignored the book….

My Rating: 4.5/10 (Not lower than that since I guess I still like the characters and think Dylan O’Brien & Thomas Brodie-Sangster are good in these films)

Eyes Without A Face (1960) Blind Spot Review

Happy Halloween, everyone! Here’s my final review for the day, after my review of the surprisingly fun Trick ‘r Treat posted earlier today. Now let’s look at a cult French horror classic…

Eyes Without A Face (1960)

Directed by Georges Franju

Based on Les yeux sans visage by Jean Redon

Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel

Music by Maurice Jarre

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A surgeon causes an accident which leaves his daughter disfigured, and goes to extremes to give her a new face.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Eyes Without A Face:

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

I’d been wanting to see this for years as it sounded quite bizarre. Hence, it ended up on my Blind Spot list & I finally got around to buying it on DVD. I can’t say it quite lived up to my high expectations, although it’s a very good movie and I would imagine it must have been very shocking back in 1960.

The story here is the exact one I expected. Although similar stories have been done since, I’m thinking this must be one of the (and maybe the very) first to do it. I was extremely surprised at just how much was actually shown… I expected to see nothing but we see it all in graphic detail (for 1960, anyway). Wow! No wonder it angered some people at the time from the little I’ve read of it. Don’t get me wrong – it’s funny now how blatantly obvious the special effects & make-up are but this must have been like the Saw of 1960.

I’m struggling with what to say about this film as I’m not as well-versed on those that are pre-1970 but I do wish to expand my knowledge in this area. The main thing I’ll say is that I absolutely loved how stylish this film was. The mask the disfigured daughter is made to wear is fantastic. So frightening in its simplicity. Plus she wears the best nightdress/housecoat thingy EVER. I wear sweatpants & T-shirts to bed. Why the hell don’t we still dress the way women did in the 1960s? They looked so groomed & lovely at all times. Even one of the film’s victims still looked immaculate afterwards & I just thought “Damn! Poor girl… but I love that dress!”.

I know I’ve put this as my “least favorite” of my Blind Spot films so far but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not good – I just enjoyed the rest slightly more. I think I was mainly disappointed that it was more straightforward than I expected plus the acting was a little off (mainly the father & daughter, although the father’s “secretary” and the other women in the film were good). It also wasn’t all that deep – this is a topic that could’ve been explored in-depth. Beauty on the inside, the ugliness of human nature, blah blah blah. But it’s just a pretty basic crime thriller, albeit with a gruesome twist.

However, it’s stylish as hell. Just look at the images in this post – I love the look of it all. I’m very glad that I put this on my Blind Spot list & finally got around to watching it. Black & white horror is something I truly wish to further explore & will happily take recommendations from fellow bloggers on this genre. I would imagine that Eyes Without A Face is one that will easily remain a favorite of mine within the black & white horror genre, though, as it’s one that could never be easily forgotten once seen. Shockingly beautiful, I’d love to have seen the reaction of audiences when this came out. It’s not quite up there with either Nosferatu (1922) or The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) for me but, like those, it’s so ahead of its time & there’s no denying the amazing imagery in all of them. We need more horror movies with style nowadays…

My Rating: 7/10

Oh! I totally forgot to mention that I found the movie’s score, from acclaimed composer Maurice Jarre, interestingly bizarre. It was at times too distracting but I love the Jean-Michel Jarre connection (he’s Maurice’s son). Who doesn’t like a bit of Oxygène??

However, I have to end with this music clip instead. I’m sorry! This is just SO stuck in my head since watching this. 😉

Hush (2016) Review

Welcome to Day Three of my “Four Days Of Mike Flanagan Movies“! Let’s see what I thought of home invasion movie Hush… I’ve already reviewed Oculus & the unique Absentia. Tomorrow I’ll hopefully be reviewing his new release Ouija: Origin Of Evil (if I’ve managed to see it by then!). 🙂 **Okay – it’s unlikely I’ll be reviewing that tomorrow as I’ve still not seen it. 😉 Have any of you seen it? 

Hush (2016)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Starring: John Gallagher Jr, Michael Trucco, Kate Siegel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.

My Opinion:

Hush is a worthy addition to the home invasion subgenre & I’d say it’s Mike Flanagan’s best film (of what I’ve seen so far). I slightly prefer Absentia just because I usually like supernatural horror more than straight-up home invasion flicks but Hush feels like Flanagan’s most well thought-out film whereas it seemed like he was making the story up as he went along in others. Hush has the best pacing, acting, and style of those I’ve seen and is the one I’d be most likely to recommend to people as it’s so straightforward & far less divisive than his other work.

The setup, a deaf woman being terrorized in her home by an intruder, is extremely simple but very effective. Has this been done before? The idea is so simple it feels like it must have… I know there was the Audrey Hepburn film where she played a blind woman terrorized in her home (Wait Until Dark – I just looked that up). Well, whether it’s been done before or not, Flanagan did well to include some very creative ways of using this setup (unlike in the thoroughly overrated Don’t Breathe, which makes a big deal of the “victim” being blind but then does nothing interesting with that plot device).

I especially liked the use of technology in Hush. This is an intelligent writer living on her own and, especially being deaf, she’s going to rely on a lot of modern technology for writing, communication, safely running a household, etc. The use of technology wasn’t overdone, however, and felt natural instead of forced. I liked how it made the usual “home invasion” thing feel more modern. Again, it’s a simple thing but helps give the film a further unique edge. Although, I suppose it will also date the film in the future…

Hush gives us yet another “strong female lead” (played fantastically by Kate Siegel), which is becoming more & more of a common theme in films (not something I’ll ever complain about!). However, she’s not perfect & I appreciated that. She’s real. As much as I’d like to kick ass like Furiosa or Ellen Ripley, I know I never could. I’d be seriously f*^ked in any extreme situation as I’m a serious wuss & even the simplest tasks in life give me panic attacks. Home intruder? I can’t even handle a spider in the bathtub! Siegel’s character makes mistakes. She makes some iffy & dangerous decisions while dealing with the man who is terrorizing her but she’s doing her best in a situation that most of us couldn’t handle. She’s very relatable & you care about what will happen to her (again – it’s very a simple thing to make your main character likable yet so many horror films fail to do this for some reason).

Hush is a good film with a strong central performance & I would definitely recommend it to fans of the home invasion genre. It takes a simple concept & does it very effectively, making use of the main character being deaf and having to use other senses & means of working around this in order to defend herself. I wouldn’t say that home invasion films are a favorite thing of mine but I’ve seen quite a few & enjoyed this one much more than most. Hush is definitely one of the better examples of this genre.

My Rating: 7/10

Absentia (2011) Review 

Welcome to Day Two of my “Four Days Of Mike Flanagan Movies“! Let’s see what I thought of the thoroughly strange Absentia… Yesterday I reblogged my review of Oculus & tomorrow will be reviewing Hush. On Wednesday I’ll hopefully be reviewing his new release Ouija: Origin Of Evil (if I’ve managed to see it by then!). 🙂

Absentia (2011)

Directed & Written by Mike Flanagan

Starring: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, James Flanagan, Scott Graham, Doug Jones

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.

My Opinion:

I wasn’t crazy about Oculus, the first movie I saw of Mike Flanagan’s, so I didn’t necessarily think I’d watch another one of his films after that one. I’m glad I did, though, as I liked Absentia & Hush just fine. I’ll even admit now that I was a little hard on poor Oculus (but only a little). It had potential, though – I just thought it fell apart at the end.

Absentia was my favorite of the Flanagan films I’ve seen so far but it’s probably the most divisive. This is a real “like it or hate it” movie. The pacing is very slow & there’s no “in your face” horror or gore. It’s more about the overall mood & atmosphere of the film, which I think is done really well. It’s nice & creepy with plenty left to the viewers’ imaginations. This is the type of horror that I prefer, of the supernatural psychological variety, but I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste.

The main focus of this film is on two sisters & the mysterious disappearance of the husband of the (heavily pregnant) sister. This woman’s husband has now been missing for seven years & the start of the film sees her preparing to declare him legally dead “in absentia”. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of this legal term if you’re curious:

“A person may be legally declared dead (declared death in absentia or legal presumption of death) despite the absence of direct proof of the person’s death, such as the finding of remains (e.g., a corpse or skeleton) attributable to that person. Such a declaration is typically made when a person has been missing for an extended period of time and in the absence of any evidence that the person is still alive – or after a much shorter period but where the circumstances surrounding a person’s disappearance overwhelmingly support the belief that the person has died (e.g., an airplane crash).”

Good! That filled up a decent amount of space in this review as I honestly don’t know how to go about discussing this one. This film is a bit bizarre and, if you’re someone who likes all the blanks filled in & all questions answered, you may not appreciate it. It’s a bit like Honeymoon in that way (which I reviewed HERE a couple of weeks ago & is one of my favorite horrors I’ve reviewed for my October Horror Month this year). Honeymoon goes full-on crazy at the end, though, whereas Absentia stays pretty calm. However, I found Absentia much more unsettling.

Give Absentia a go if, like me, you prefer strange supernatural horror to gory slashers. To be honest, it sort of has a Stranger Things vibe & makes you wonder if the show’s writers saw this film first. Hmm… If you watch this, just be aware that it’s slow going and you’ll need patience. My only small complaint is that, like with Oculus, I feel like Flanagan has great short story ideas that are difficult to stretch into feature length films (a bigger problem with Oculus, which was first a short film). I liked the sisters & their relationship so that helped as I think it would be harder to get into this film if you didn’t care what would happen to them. Like most modern day horrors, though, it won’t become an all-time favorite of mine & I’m unlikely to ever watch it again but I appreciated the unique story & the film’s mood. The majority of horror movies use the same recycled stories over & over again so it’s great to see one with some originality.

My Rating: 7/10

Goosebumps (2015) Review 

I’ll be finishing Creepy Dolls Week tomorrow with a reblog of a review I did of a British horror classic which happens to contain a creepy ventriloquist’s dummy. Today I’m reviewing a fun recent kids’ film which also happens to contain a creepy ventriloquist’s dummy. What is it with dummies?! They’re clearly evil. Let’s have a look at the Goosebumps movie… 🙂

Goosebumps (2015)

Directed by Rob Letterman

Based on Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee, Jillian Bell, Halston Sage

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.

My Opinion:

This was my seven-year-old’s first proper live action “scary movie”. I’m happy to report that she loved it. I was too old for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series when he started it but know I would’ve absolutely loved those books if they’d been around when I was younger. I grew up watching (the original) The Twilight Zone & The Alfred Hitchcock Hour from a very early age (probably 7 or 8) and have loved strange, scary, and/or supernatural & sci-fi stories ever since. As a pre-teen I got into Christopher Pike books (nice & weird – I loved those) and remember reading some pre-Goosebumps R.L. Stine (Twisted, The Babysitter, Blind Date – I had fun looking these up just now & remembering the covers!).

Anyway, I’m not going to force it but I’m hoping that this movie gets my daughter into liking these kind of stories a bit more now. Then she can be as weird as her mother! 😉 I’d love to read the Goosebumps books with her at some point. For those who’ve read them, what sort of ages would you recommend them for? I always thought they were aimed slightly older than this movie, which felt quite “young”. The movie stayed the right side of the line for my daughter – she was a little scared by some bits but I didn’t feel anything was too scary or at all inappropriate. If your kid doesn’t scare easily, I think this is fine for ages 7 & up. Goosebumps is a really fun family movie and, believe me, when you have young kids you appreciate when you start getting to watch some movies with them that you yourself can get some enjoyment from as well!

I of course won’t have had as much fun with this movie as those who read the Goosebumps series, though. I imagine this film was a real treat for his fans. The story’s setup is fantastic, which sees various R.L. Stine monsters brought to life when they’re accidentally released from the manuscripts he keeps locked in order to keep his out-of-control creations imprisoned. Jack Black plays R.L. Stine, which was fine by me as I’m a Jack Black fan & my daughter already liked him thanks to School Of Rock. The film’s concept was very bold & I think it works really well. Imagine this same story with Stephen King. That would be interesting! Can you imagine someone letting Pennywise loose?! (Although, that’s kind of happening in the US & UK at the moment with those asshole clowns running around). Look! Gnomes! I adore garden gnomes. I never thought of them as murderous before this movie…

The werewolf was also pretty cool…

But, of course, the main “monster” unleashed from R.L. Stine’s books is Slappy, this evil-looking ventriloquist’s dummy…

Yep. Dummies are evil! I’ve always known that. There are other creatures that are set loose but these were my favorites & Slappy is definitely the best (and most evil) of them all. He’s not overly terrifying, though – he’s “kid-friendly scary”. If that makes any sense. He won’t be in my nightmares but my daughter might now have a lifelong (healthy) distrust of creepy dummies. Oh, there’s also an abandoned amusement park in this movie (complete with working electricity somehow). I loved the amusement park scenes – what a perfect setting for a kids’ film.

There’s not much more I can really say about Goosebumps other than that it’s great when they actually make decent family films like this one. However, I know you’re unlikely to watch this unless you have children between 7 & 13ish or if you grew up reading the Goosebumps books. Dylan Minnette is fine as the lead teenage boy & I have to say I far prefer this film to the wildly overrated Don’t Breathe (so very NOT a family movie, FYI! Just comparing as he starred in both plus I just reviewed that one recently). I enjoyed Jack Black as always but I thought the biggest stars of this film were Slappy & Stine’s daughter (played by Odeya Rush). She’s a strong female character, which is always important to me as the parent of a girl. I loved a final twist to this movie, which I saw coming from the very start since I’ve lived & breathed these types of stories for 30+ years but know my daughter will have thought “Wow!” to the twist. That’s what I want to see! Her loving a strong story & great twist ending in the same way I did when watching all those Twilight Zone episodes as a kid. I can see Goosebumps being a favorite movie for a lot of kids & thinks it’s one that my daughter will forever be fond of.

My Rating: 7/10

CREEPY DOLLS WEEK ROUNDUP:

The Boy (2016)
Magic (1978)
Dolls (1987)
Annabelle (2014)
Finders Keepers (2014)
– Goosebumps (2015)
Dead Of Night (1945)
My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & Television