Spontaneous (2020) Review

Spontaneous (2020)

Directed by Brian Duffield

Based on Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

Starring: Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer, Hayley Law, Piper Perabo, Rob Huebel, Yvonne Orji

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb):
Get ready for the outrageous coming-of-age love story about growing up…and blowing up. When students in their school begin exploding (literally), seniors Mara and Dylan struggle to survive in a world where each moment may be their last.

My Opinion:

I really wasn’t expecting to like this movie so much. First of all, I assume this is a YA book? Though I’m not sure as I’ve not read it & know nothing whatsoever about it. I hate to use that Young Adult label as it gets a negative response these days and I thought this was a really good film. This movie gave me a Heathers vibe (come to think of it, I suppose Heathers would be what’s considered YA these days too). And Heathers rules but I really thought that sort of dark humor wouldn’t be allowed anymore. As a big fan of dark humor & a full-on “I trust no one” & “Just leave me the f*^k alone” Gen-Xer, this movie spoke to my teenage self & I’m curious what current teens think of it. If they can find a way to watch it… (It’s rated R in America & 15 in the U.K.). It’s very dark so is certainly only for the late teens into twenties sort of age. It’s extremely bloody, too (though not what I’d call “gory”). Hard to avoid it being bloody since it’s about a class of high school seniors who suddenly start randomly blowing up.

The main girl is Mara, played by Katherine Langford. She’s fantastic & cool as shit. Yeah, she’s kind of the Winona Ryder Veronica in Heathers. I think that if you go for her character, you’ll like this movie. She’s very funny with a very morbid sense of humor. But she’s also not necessarily a very nice or likeable person. I could really relate to her character as she very much has the attitude that I had in my late teens. She manages to be cool and say the perfect bitchy things that I think lot of us wish we could’ve said in high school if we weren’t all so scared of what people would think of us. So she’s kind of that ideal “cool teen” most of us were too scared to be.

After the first exploding teen, a boy named Dylan (played by Charlie Plummer) gets up the nerve to let Mara know that he has a crush on her. He’s most definitely not Christian Slater’s J.D. from Heathers: Dylan is sweet & nerdy and instantly lovable. He also has a quirky sense of humor that goes really well with Mara’s and they end up being one of those movie couples who just work perfectly together. Oh, and he’s a movie nerd & the two of them quote cool movies so obviously that made me like them & root for them even more. These two are really great in this. I know Langford has been in a few things I’ve seen but I’d not really noticed her before & Plummer was in a movie I hated and I didn’t notice him at all. In this, however, they’re fantastic. I’d be a fan of them both right now if I was a teen. Also liked Mara’s best friend, played by Hayley Law. They had a cool friendship (the sort I always wanted in school but girls never liked me).

Besides all the exploding teens & great dark humor, this movie does have a serious sort of undercurrent running through it. I very much disagree with the fairly low rating on IMDb. I’ve only had a brief glance at what people are saying but can’t exactly figure out what the haters don’t like about this movie. Maybe they wanted a straightforward horror comedy? That’s not quite what this is (although it is funny and also horrific). The simple thing would be to say that this movie is a coming of age film and an allegory for their fear and uncertainty at finishing high school and becoming adults. I think it’s way more than that, though. I feel very sorry for teens these days as they’re living in extremely difficult times. I can’t imagine the constant fear of possibly being shot every damn time they go to school (talking about American teens in this case, which is where the movie is based). What kind of life is that? And now they’ve had to deal with Covid too. And I won’t even go into all the other shit as I try to avoid anything political but, man, the the last four years have been a total clusterfuck. Add the social media nightmare into the mix, something Gen X didn’t have to worry about at all, and I honestly don’t know how current teenagers are able to get out of bed each day. I can barely handle any of this shit as an adult (but I’ve never been good at being one of those).

So, yeah – I imagine that being a modern teen must feel like living with the fear that you could spontaneously combust at any moment. I think the movie is telling us that without actually telling us that. Besides having one very obvious message to live each day to the fullest as you never know what might happen, it doesn’t have any other specific messages it’s trying to force on us. The movie is thankfully not at all preachy (which I hate). It doesn’t offer any obvious answers or explanations but I like it being ambiguous as I think the film could mean different things to different people. I think anyone struggling with the many issues related to being a teen nowadays would be able to identify with these characters and their feelings.

Well, I honestly kind of loved this movie. It’s darkly funny and deeply sad and I love that different people will get different meanings from it. The “live life to the fullest” message is maybe a tiny bit simplistic for such dark film but, hell, it’s the exact same message Ferris Bueller gave those of us in Generation X. It may be over 30 years since the John Hughes days but it was hard being a teenager then and it’s sure as shit hard now. I truly am sorry that society has failed to protect these kids & teenagers.

My Rating: 8/10

**Just a note to say that I watched waaaay too many movies in April so I’m going to be very late posting my April roundup as it’ll take forever to write. But a few of the April roundup reviews, like this one, ended up being so long that I decided to post them separately. It also helps that I really enjoyed each of these. I also fully reviewed Promising Young Woman, Swallow & Bloodsport (yes, the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie). Oh, and Sound Of Metal & My Octopus Teacher for the Oscars.

Swallow (2019) Review

Swallow (2019)

Directed & Written by Carlo Mirabella-Davis

Starring: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rasche, Denis O’Hare

Plot Synopsis (via IMDb):
Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.

My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see this for ages as it looked like the weird kind of shit I like. Sounded like the kind of story David Cronenberg would do (but don’t get the wrong idea – this is nothing like a Cronenberg film!). I liked this one a lot (I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched so far this year, actually).

Swallow certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though – I just like an unusual story. What also made me very happy is that this film is beautiful. She lives in this absolutely gorgeous house with an amazing view and wears ridiculously lovely dresses while vacuuming her gorgeous home in high heels like a good old-fashioned housewife, and the cinematography (I guess?) showcases all of this beautifully. I know nothing whatsoever about filmmaking & what makes this movie pretty. Cinematography? Art direction? I don’t know. I just know that I liked the look of it & I’m very into a film’s visuals (it’s why I like Argento & Leone movies). Promising Young Woman also had a good “look” that I liked. Swallow is a lovely looking film, so I’ve added quite a few images from it to give you an idea.

Besides looking so good, I was very surprised to find that this was a great character study. I thought Haley Bennett, as Hunter, was perfect. I think some people may have had the wrong idea before seeing this film, which is probably why its IMDb rating is unfairly low. Even I had wondered if it would somewhat be a “horror” (as I said, I had Cronenberg vibes from the synopsis). It’s also rated 18 (R in the US) but that must only be because the subject matter is so disturbing. Understandable, as it’s a scary but also very real disorder (called pica) and is a movie that shouldn’t be seen by anyone young as they’d not understand it.

Whether the movie does a good job exploring this real disorder I can’t say. I know nothing about it but am sure it has been studied by plenty of experts. But, as a film with a fictional character, I thought it did a great job showing someone with a mental illness & how those in her life didn’t support her. You could feel how alone Hunter felt despite having this seemingly perfect life. Without support & love from those in her life, her condition spirals out of control. I wanted to smack her damn husband & say “Be there for your wife, you superficial asshole!“.

Well, this was meant to be in my “monthly roundup” post next week. As it’s ended up a fairly long write-up, I’m posting it as a separate review. I don’t do that much lately due to not having the time but do wish I could do more posts dedicated to just one film when I really like one. I thought this was a very good film with odd & disturbing subject matter & a strong performance from Bennett. It’s one I’d be scared to actually recommend to anyone, though. Definitely not one for everyone & you’d have to be sure you’d be okay watching the character doing this dangerous thing to herself. It could be a very upsetting movie for some people due to a few uncomfortable subjects in it. As a film lover, I’m happy to see such a well made film. The director hasn’t made many films yet & I’d be interested in seeing more of his work now.

My Rating: 8/10

*Just like with Promising Young Woman, I’m teetering on the edge of giving this 8/10! I think I’m not as generous with my ratings now as I’ve rated stuff too highly in the past. I may still make this an 8…

**Okay, I’ve made this an 8.

Promising Young Woman (2020) Review

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Directed & Written by Emerald Fennell

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who crossed her path.

My Opinion:

I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this film before seeing it. Movies are difficult nowadays. Many films have had strong beliefs throughout the years but I feel those from the past ten years or so (and especially in the past five years) present those beliefs in a very different way. I’ve never been against movies with strong or controversial opinions, even if I don’t agree with them. I’m just very against how forced this feels in so many films now. An important and worthy topic doesn’t automatically make a film “good”. I still want a good script, good characters, a gorgeous score & cinematography, and all that other good shit that makes the very best movies true works of art. It’s great if a film has all of that good shit and also manages to have a really good message. I admit that with Oscar nominees these days I always wonder if I’m going to see a strong message with a mediocre film written around it or a good film that also happens to have a strong message that works well within that film.

I did a horrible job explaining that. What I’m saying is that I wondered if Promising Young Woman would be a full-on “all men are evil and must die” movie. Hey, I’m a woman – I’m not gonna pretend I don’t like a good revenge film. Of course I feel strongly about this topic. I’ve always been uncomfortable with “rape revenge” films, though. Although I try to watch most every type of movie that I possibly can to have a fully informed opinion, this is one subgenre I haven’t explored much. I’m not going to look into it, either, as it’s something I don’t want to go searching for but I do wonder how many of these films were made by women? I admit that I probably watched the worst possible example of this subgenre (the 1978 I Spit On Your Grave), so I didn’t want some gory “kill all the men” bloodbath. Exploitation flicks have their place, I guess, but they’ve been done. And I especially didn’t want an extremely exploitative rape scene as in that film. Women don’t want to see that. Those films are made for the excuse to have a graphic rape scene. No thanks. It’s possible to empathise with the victim & want her to get revenge without seeing in graphic detail what happens to her.

Okay, I don’t want to say the word rape anymore. I hate it. Just trying to explain that I wasn’t sure what this movie was going to be. I liked Promising Young Woman a lot. I may have even kind of loved it a little. I’m still not completely sure of the rating I want to give it, though. I feel it’s one of those that I need to think about for a while before I know how I really feel as I can see my opinion of this either going up a lot or possibly going down ever so slightly. I’m really not sure! I felt this way about Mandy… I knew I liked it a lot after seeing it. But after a few months or so of thinking about it, I realised I loved that crazy ass movie & that it’s easily an absolute favorite from recent years. Anyone else ever feel that way about a movie?? I think it’s because I love a divisive film. They excite me. I see too many bland & totally forgettable movies. I’d rather see a slightly “bad” film that’s maybe a bit weird or has a very memorable scene or two than the hundreds of truly boring duds I’ve seen since starting this blog. (Not that Mandy or Promising Young Woman are bad – I think they’re both very good films that are just unconventional)

Carey Mulligan is great in this. We’re all so used to seeing her in “worthy” Suffragette type roles (although I did like that film). But it was fun seeing her like this & I liked her a lot. Although I don’t know if I exactly liked her character. And that’s what I liked! How many times can I say “like”?! I thought this movie did well with the balance I thought it wouldn’t get right. No, it doesn’t portray men in a great light. But it also didn’t have an “all men are bad & all women are good” message. I hate movies like that (unless you’re talking fun sci-fi or fantasy films – I do want straightforward good vs evil in something like Star Wars). But this movie is dealing with a serious real life issue & real life isn’t so black & white. Mulligan’s character is flawed & damaged. You feel for her and you’re on her side but you also don’t always necessarily agree with her & all her methods. You know what else was good? She wasn’t just some kick-ass bitch. I mean, I love a kick-ass bitch! Ellen Ripley rules. But we already have some great female characters like that to look up to so I liked seeing someone more real in this. It’s more relatable. And even when you think she may take some things a little too far, it’s helped by the fact that she’s avenging her best friend. Also, I loved how she fucked with peoples’ minds. That was great & more fun than some super violent revenge porn.

Mulligan is definitely the best thing about this but I also enjoyed the characters played by Bo Burnham & Laverne Cox and their relationships with Mulligan’s character. Clancy Brown & Jennifer Coolidge were also good as her frustrated parents. I was expecting more dark comedy than we got in this, though. I’d have liked much more of that as what we did get worked pretty well. I’d heard beforehand that this movie is sort of a mix of genres and I loved that (as I said, I like unconventional & unpredictable). It was probably hard to classify this film but I’m not sure if I’d agree with those who have included “comedy” in its description. I think some people were probably expecting something very different and can see some really hating this movie but I was pleasantly surprised with how the story played out & loved that it wasn’t at all predictable. I SO wish I hadn’t had the ending spoiled for me on Twitter. Oh, and I liked her colorful fingernails! I liked the use of girly colors in this film (it reminded me of the end of Waitress, a movie I absolutely love).

Well, I’ve rambled on long enough. I know I must have found this film interesting as I haven’t done one of these long rambling “reviews” where I try to sort out my thoughts on a film in a long time. I think the only long reviews I did in recent years were for Mandy, Midsommar & Deep Red. I really liked this film. I’m still thinking about it three days later, especially its unexpected ending. I keep going back & forth on what I want to rate it. 8 & up means I really loved a movie and/or I thought it was a really good film. Is Promising Young Woman worthy of being a Best Picture Oscar nominee? These days it is. It’s certainly my favorite of those nominees I’ve seen so far. But it wouldn’t have been nominated years ago. I’m curious what I’ll think of this one 20 years from now. I look back at some nominees & think “How the hell did that get nominated?”. Will I think that about this? I don’t think so. I’m glad something a little bit unusual & a film that I actually *wanted* to watch is nominated.

My Rating: 8/10

*I may edit this post later & give it 8/10. I don’t know!

**Okay, I did it!

Parasite (2019) Review

Parasite (2019) (기생충, 寄生蟲, gisaengchung, kisaengch’ung)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Chang Hyae-jin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Parasite stars Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, and Park So-dam, and follows the members of a poor household who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating the household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

My Opinion:

After a year of hearing everyone raving over this on Twitter, the UK is FINALLY getting the chance to see it today. I was beyond excited & extremely happy to see it two weeks early with my cinema membership. It’s a very good film. But is it a masterpiece as so many are claiming? I hate how any halfway decent current film gets declared a damn masterpiece. Let a movie age a bit! See if it stands the test of time. Will Parasite be a “masterpiece” 20 years from now? I’m not sure about that but I think it’ll always be a well respected film. I expected this to be my favorite Best Picture Oscar nominee as I love foreign films. It might be my favorite but in some ways I think Joker is a better film despite people whining about it (although Parasite is far more “me” than a Scorsese-wannabe comic book movie). Okay, yes – Parasite is probably my favorite Best Picture nominee this year… I admit it’s grown on me over the past two weeks.

Despite the hype, I didn’t go into a Parasite with really high expectations as I’ve not loved any of Bong Joon-ho’s work that I’ve seen. Although the concept for Snowpiercer was amazing, the film was a bit of a mess. Okja was mostly just annoying as, with Snowpiercer as well, the characters were so unpleasant & ridiculous (especially Swinton & Gyllenhaal). I think I may have actually enjoyed his film The Host the most as I like a decent monster movie & the young girl in it was really good (and one of the only Bong Joon-ho characters to not be hateful in some way). However, as much as I hate hateful characters (which is why I suppose I haven’t gotten on with his work), they work perfectly for Parasite. I mean, it’s a social satire & the whole point of the film. Actually, these are probably his least hateful movie characters as the bad in each of them is far more subtle & none of them are the ridiculous Swinton-type caricatures. Everyone is flawed in some way, making them feel more real (we’re all flawed). You feel both sympathy & repulsion for every character at various points in the film.

I do think Parasite is a clever film with far deeper characters than we’ve had in Bong Joon-ho’s other work (that I’ve seen) & I understand some of the hype. It’s certainly his best film & I did enjoy the strange mix of genres, especially the dark humor. I was just hoping I might love Parasite. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a new movie that I know will be an all-time favorite of mine. Parasite is a very good film but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. I respect it. It’s well-written, it looks fantastic (it’s too bad I’m doing a short review so don’t have many images from the film as there are some great shots), and the acting is very good. But there are loads of foreign films I’ve thought were much better that didn’t get this same level of acclaim. Still, I’m happy to see a foreign film getting so much attention & hope that maybe it will open more people up to the idea of checking out some non-English language movies.

My Rating: 8/10

City Of God (Cidade de Deus) (2002) Review For The Luso World Cinema Blogathon

I’m taking part in the Luso World Cinema Blogathon hosted by Crítica Retrô and Spellbound By Movies. You can read all about the blogathon HERE & HERE. Thanks for letting me participate! I look forward to reading all the entries. 🙂

My entry is a review of the 2002 Portuguese language film City Of God, which was nominated for four Oscars and is currently ranked 22nd in the IMDb Top 250. I originally watched & reviewed this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project and as a Resolutions 2014 film as I’d been meaning to make the time to watch it. I admit that my knowledge is very limited when it comes to Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking countries) films. So I’m very interested in reading the other entries as I do try to explore all types of cinema. But, yeah – I had to use the Keanu Reeves banner. Who doesn’t love Keanu!!

Here’s my uneducated review of City Of God. I’m sure I don’t do it justice but it is a really good film.

City Of God (2002)
Portuguese: Cidade de Deus

Directed by Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund (co-director)

Based on City of God by Paulo Lins

Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Alice Braga, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins, but the plot is loosely based on real events. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980s, with the closure of the film depicting the war between the drug dealer Li’l Zé and criminal Knockout Ned. The tagline is “If you run, the beast catches; if you stay, the beast eats”, (a proverb analogous to the English “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”).

My Opinion:

I’d been curious about this movie for a long time as it’s SO high in the IMDB Top 250 films of all-time (it’s currently number 22). I’ve been working my way through the 250 since starting my blog as I have a challenge to try to watch them all and this was the second highest ranking film I’d not yet seen.

It’s good, yes. I liked it. Does it deserve to be above things like Once Upon A Time In The West & It’s A Wonderful Life? I’m not sure about that. It’s definitely a fascinating look at a lifestyle that I (luckily) can’t really relate to as someone from a very small town in the American Midwest. I know this is “loosely based on real events” but haven’t looked into it enough to know what is fact and what isn’t. Either way, it’s awful knowing that people have had to live this way and terrifying to see the ease with which some of the characters in this engage in violent activity and don’t think twice about taking someone’s life.

I will say that I can partly see why this film is so popular, even though it’s not really my kind of thing. There are some great characters in this. The lead & narrator, Rocket (above), is the one truly “good guy” in a film filled with people who seem to have no conscience and you really do want the best for him. His friend Benny is very cool – he’s the guy everyone likes and he helps to keep the peace a bit between the two main rival gangs who are controlling the area. I love that this takes place during the late 60s into the early 80s & Benny adopts a groovy 70’s look. Then there’s Knockout Ned, a great character I’d love to have seen be a bit further developed (although he’s more well-developed than most of the characters in this) and the truly amoral Li’l Zé, who is the most powerful criminal in the area.

What’s amazing is I read that only one person in this was a professional experienced actor and the majority were people from “favelas” (shanty towns) and some from the actual City Of God who were chosen and then trained in acting as the director wanted the film to feel authentic. I’ll say that it definitely worked and the “actors” in this did an excellent job. I felt bad after giving Slumdog Millionaire a horrible review & then finding out some of those in it were from real-life slums (turns out it was the kids, who were the only good thing about that film anyway). Fortunately, City Of God is a much better film than Slumdog Millionaire and feels very real whereas Millionaire felt like it was trying too hard and just felt phoney to me (sorry, fans!).

I’ve just scratched the surface on the characters as there are LOTS of them in this film but those are some of the main ones & the most memorable. But as there are so many, we unfortunately don’t get as much character development as I’d like to have had. Why do they do the things that they do? I suppose it’s because they don’t have much other choice. But then why does Rocket manage to remain a “good guy”? We’re given a reason for Knockout Ned making the choices he makes but not really for why Li’l Zé is so evil. But, as I’ve said, it really isn’t a lifestyle I have any sort of experience with so I can’t comment on it too much. This is sort of the Boyz N The Hood of Rio de Janeiro. I think that’s a great film as well but, again, I couldn’t fully relate to it. But both films are certainly worth a watch to gain at least a small understanding of what it’s like for those who have no choice but to live a life surrounded by poverty and/or violence and to be grateful for the lives so many of us are fortunate to have outside of that.

Was City Of God a worthy watch? Yes – I’m glad I finally watched it. It won’t become an all-time favorite of mine like some of the IMDB Top 250 films I’ve watched in the last few years already have but I’d recommend it to anyone who thinks that it sounds like their sort of film. The performances are very good & the movie isn’t preachy – it just shows us the poor & violent lives led by those living in & around the City Of God from the late 60s to the early 80s.

My Rating: 8/10

Doctor Sleep (2019) Review

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Based on Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis

Music by The Newton Brothers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.

My Opinion:

I watched Doctor Sleep today and don’t have a lot of time so I’ll keep this very brief. I wanted to quickly write something about it, though, since it makes sense to review it on Halloween. I adore Stephen King and try to read or watch at least one thing of his each October. I love that there’s SO much King content lately (Well, I didn’t love In The Tall Grass. Ugh.) You can find my very short reviews for the Doctor Sleep novel as well as the In The Tall Grass short story HERE.

I’m a huge fan of The Shining. And by that, I mean the Stanley Kubrick film that Stephen King hates. I of course love the novel as well but, as I saw The Shining at a fairly young age, it’s one of very few King adaptations I saw before reading the book. I hate doing it that way around but it can sometimes make you slightly prefer the movie as it’s the version you knew first. I love both the book and the movie but The Shining is a brilliant piece of filmmaking and will forever be one of my all-time favorite films. So I actually had the film version in my head more than the novel as I watched this sequel.

Doctor Sleep is good. From what I remember of the book at this point, it’s a faithful adaptation. Flanagan, who I’m starting to really like and whose adaptation of Gerald’s Game I thoroughly enjoyed, does a good job of keeping the fans of the novels as well as fans of Kubrick’s film happy. It’s no masterpiece, though. I do think it’s been hyped up too much by horror fans.

As for the story itself, I liked it but didn’t love it but I already knew that going into the movie. I far prefer the simplicity of the story in The Shining. I’m someone who does love the supernatural more than any other type of horror but the whole thing with The True Knot was always a bit too far out and silly for me, even for a Stephen King story. The Shining is far more scary as it feels somewhat more plausible and also leaves more to your imagination. Not only is it one of the best psychological horrors with a truly terrifying descent into madness, it’s also a damn good and thoroughly creepy ghost story. We don’t get many good ghost stories. Comparing just the films themselves, Doctor Sleep has none of the special atmosphere of The Shining. I’m not someone who is ever scared by movies but The Shining comes closer than most to being truly scary thanks to its tone and its score and its carpet and I suppose the fact that it was made by such a gifted director. The Shining is a work of art whereas Doctor Sleep is just a good horror movie.

Okay – I’m not sure if I’m making sense since I’ve only just seen this and I’m trying to post a quick review before Halloween is over. I enjoyed Doctor Sleep but it had a hell of a lot to live up to. To be fair, the novel itself didn’t live up to the first book either. I’m glad the movie stayed faithful to the book but am not sure yet how I feel about bits of Stanley Kubrick’s film being recreated. At first I felt a little warm & fuzzy about it but then I kind of maybe didn’t like it so much. Kubrick’s film is beautiful & so iconic. I’m not sure I wanted to ever see it with lookalikes??

Ewan McGregor is fine as Dan Torrance and Kyliegh Curran is likeable as Abra. Their friendship is great but I didn’t really feel a strong connection between them. The true star of this film is actually Rebecca Ferguson as Rose The Hat. She’s awesome! She’s a horrible, evil bitch. Is it weird that I think I have a slight girl crush on her? She’s scary & sexy and one of the best villains we’ve had in horror in quite a while. So, I did enjoy her performance and I did like seeing the story unfold. I watch all Stephen King adaptations and always enjoy them, even when they aren’t so good (which unfortunately has been quite often). I’m happy to say that Doctor Sleep is definitely one of the better adaptations. However, it’s never going to be an all-time favorite of mine the way The Shining, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption are. I liked this film but I was hoping to love it. I actually think that It Chapter One was a better King adaptation from recent years. Oh well – at least Doctor Sleep did turn out better than It Chapter Two.

My Rating: 8/10

**I haven’t yet added Doctor Sleep to My Stephen King Movie Rankings. I have to give it a bit more time to sink in before I decide where to put it. I’m thinking it’s probably around 9 or 10. I was really hoping it would be higher…

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) (1975) Blind Spot Review

Deep Red (1975)
Italian: Profondo Rosso
(aka The Hatchet Murders)

Directed by Dario Argento

Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni,Giuliana Calandra

Music by Goblin & Giorgio Gaslini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Deep Red stars Macha Meril as a medium and David Hemmings as a pianist who investigates a series of murders performed by a mysterious figure wearing black leather gloves.

My Opinion:

Happy Halloween! I thought I better finally review one of my Blind Spot choices this year so it seemed like the perfect time for Dario Argento’s Deep Red. I do try to explore a little bit of most every genre of film but my knowledge of the Italian Giallo horror thing is severely lacking. This is my third Giallo horror and I’ve only seen Argento’s movies so far; Suspiria, which I saw years ago and should really watch again, and Phenomena as a Blind Spot a few years ago. While I still think Suspiria is the best mainly due to being so iconic (and having that amazing Goblin score), Deep Red may actually be the more “enjoyable” and certainly the more accessible film. If someone was entirely new to this genre and wanted a good film to start with, I’d probably recommend this before Suspiria just because it’s a much more straightforward murder mystery and far less strange. Both are absolute must sees for film fans, though – Deep Red is just an easier starting point.

I’ll start with the obvious things that made this such an enjoyable watch for me personally: The look & the imagery, the atmosphere, and the score. These are extremely important elements to me when it comes to all films but especially for horror. I admit that I’m old but there’s just something special about the look & feel of Seventies & early Eighties horror movies that very few modern horrors manage to achieve. We do occasionally get some good ones now but it’s interesting how often they try to copy the look of old films. It never quite works, though. I appreciate things like The House Of The Devil trying to look like a Seventies or Eighties film but no modern movies ever manage to fully capture that mood and it always just feels like modern actors playing dress up (true for non-horrors too, such as American Hustle). Deep Red has a brilliant Seventies vibe. The clothing! The awful hair! The ugly decor! A stunning & creepy old abandoned mansion! Then we also get some amazing imagery, some of which I’ve posted but others that I can’t due to spoilers. We get a couple of creepy dolls (I love creepy dolls!), lots of that super bright red blood they seemed to use in Italian horror, a big sharp knife in a famous spoiler image, funky artwork on the walls, and closeups of the killer’s eye and the killer’s strange trinkets.

The imagery is fantastic but the score is just as important for setting the mood in this sort of film. I don’t know why modern movies so often seem to care so little about the score. A great score can turn a movie I like into a movie I love. Hell, I know I rated The Good, The Bad And The Ugly much more highly than I would’ve without Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece score (Italians do it better! Wasn’t that on a Madonna t-shirt?!). Goblin did the Deep Red score and I already love it along with the soundtracks for Suspiria and Dawn Of The Dead (1978), an all-time favorite film of mine. Many of my favorite films also have brilliant scores so I do think the music is important. I’ve added a clip of this Goblin score at the end of this post. Goblin feature heavily on my phone’s playlist. I know the scores to these Argento movies better than I know the movies themselves. I now want to watch every single movie that has a Goblin score (but I think a lot of them are very obscure and I’m sure the music is much better than the films).

Atmosphere & music aside, Deep Red also has a decent murder mystery as well as some good characters. David Hemmings is good and I enjoyed watching him investigate these murders, especially when he explores a lovely old mansion as the main Goblin theme below plays. Daria Nicolodi is great as the female reporter who joins Hemmings in his investigations. The two had really good chemistry and I liked her sassy attitude. She added a bit of humor to the movie, which I wasn’t expecting in a Dario Argento horror. So, while I personally always prefer the supernatural and things like witches in Suspiria to murder mysteries, I can see plenty of people actually preferring Deep Red. I’m not sure why it doesn’t seem as popular or quite as well known as Suspiria? I think Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso) is a brilliant horror classic and I’d recommend it to anyone curious about this genre. I’m glad I finally watched it as I’ve seen way too many bad horrors in 2019. Deep Red is by far my favorite of those I’ve watched in the past year.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s part of the fantastic Goblin score. Love it. I wish movie scores were still as brilliant as they were in the Seventies & Eighties…

**As this posts, I’ll be watching Doctor Sleep. I’ll try to do at least a quick review by the end of today, although I may not have time. I love Stephen King and have very high hopes based on the trailer…

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Produced by Kevin Feige

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin

Music by Alan Silvestri

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

My Opinion:

22 movies! I can’t believe I’ve seen all of these. It’s certainly the most films I’ve ever watched in a series. I thoroughly enjoyed each & every one of these MCU films (certainly much more than the dreary DC movies, although they’ve gotten better in the past few years). However, I’m not a huge comic book/superhero movie fan so I won’t pretend that these movies mean as much to me as they do to the hardcore fans. I see them as escapist entertainment. They’re fun popcorn movies. But I can absolutely understand the love for the MCU and think they did a brilliant job setting up so many strong, likeable, and well-developed characters. The films are good (and several are very good) but the characters are great. I can see how fans will feel as strongly about these characters as I do about the characters in Star Wars. They feel like family in a weird sort of way. And Avengers: Endgame provided a fitting end(?) to just over a decade of watching these beloved characters grow & come together as a team.

Avengers: Endgame isn’t a perfect film, though, and I can’t even say it’s going to be an absolute favorite MCU movie for me personally. I do think it’s one that may go up in my estimation over time and it in no way hurts the overall legacy but my initial reaction is that I far preferred Infinity War. That ending had balls. To be honest, I kind of wanted that to be the actual end to the whole MCU (that would be a bit dark, I suppose – this isn’t DC!). But Endgame certainly will have been an emotional rollercoaster for diehard fans so I can appreciate that it will be higher on their lists. I expect to feel the same sort of emotions when watching The Rise Of Skywalker.

I just felt that Endgame took the easy way out with some of its characters. I’m obviously trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll just say that, if this is indeed the last time we’re going to see some of these characters, a few had very satisfying “endings” but I was disappointed with the direction they took for a couple of them. Overall, the movie was more predictable than I was hoping. I wanted more surprises but only got a few small ones. I even managed to successfully avoid ALL spoilers for two entire days so was disappointed to get so few surprises.

I’ll keep this short so I don’t accidentally spoil anything. I struggle with reviews for these films as I do feel like they’re the same formula over & over again and Endgame really isn’t any different from what we’ve seen before besides obviously needing & having a darker tone. Luckily, there are still a few funny moments too. The reason I far prefer Marvel to DC is because they get the right amount of genuinely funny humor mixed in with even the most serious films in the series. I’ve ranked all 22 MCU movies HERE, including Endgame. Maybe Endgame will move up in the future but, from my list, it’ll be clear that I prefer the lighthearted & funny superheroes. It’s Guardians Of The Galaxy for me. And, as Thor is my favorite character overall, I think the best decision Marvel made was to make his originally boring (but hot) character funny. Hemsworth is hilarious. I know that not all will agree with the “funny superhero” thing but I absolutely loved the comic relief provided by Thor & Ant-Man in Endgame. It was needed so that it didn’t turn into DC dreariness. But, as I said, I love that Marvel gets the right balance and the serious nature of this storyline was handled very well. To have such a strong mix of characters with very different personalities is what makes the MCU so enjoyable. There’s something for everyone across these 22 films. To make these many films in just over a decade and to bring all these characters together is a hell of a feat. This may not be my favorite Marvel film but I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My Rating: 8/10

A Star Is Born (2018) Review

A Star Is Born (2018)

Directed by Bradley Cooper

Based on A Star Is Born by William A. Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker & Alan Campbell

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Star Is Born follows a hard-drinking musician (Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with a young singer (Gaga).

My Opinion:

I’m way behind on reviewing 2018 movie releases I’ve seen (I have 9 more to go!). So I’ll post a bunch of quickies this week, starting with this one since you know it’ll be up for shitloads of Oscars. Is it Oscar-worthy? I’d say that the performances definitely are although the story itself is one we’ve seen loads of times. The characters are very strong in this film, though, which kept me fully interested for its 2 hour 16 minute running time despite the fact that dreary dramas aren’t at all my type of thing.

It was good seeing this after watching Bette Midler in The Rose a few months ago. Milder was great but that movie seems to have been forgotten even though she was nominated for an Oscar. It’s a similar story of a rock star in a downward spiral and also well worth a watch if A Star Is Born is your type of thing. As I said, though, this story has been done many times so it was important to get the characters right. I was surprised at how “real” Cooper & Gaga felt, especially when it came to their relationship and how they felt about each other. I’m not at all a fan of either of them, which is why I didn’t rush out to see this one. But by the end, I just wanted them to live happily ever after and make great music together (their characters, not them – Lady Gaga isn’t my type of music). And… Sam Elliott!!! Loved him as Cooper’s brother. Who doesn’t love that stud? I’ll forever love him thanks to Mask & Road House. The most surprising thing, though, was seeing Andrew Dice Clay’s name in the credits at the end and actually having to Google him to see who the hell he played. Her father?! That was a big role! That was him? He was… good. Huh.

Is this film good enough to possibly win Best Picture? It’s certainly not up there with some of the absolute Oscar classics but at least it’s not one I’d be annoyed to see win. At the very least, it does deserve Oscars in the acting categories. What it doesn’t deserve is some of the weird backlash it’s had. I had to read these words (which annoy the fuck out of me) too many times when seeing people discuss this movie on Twitter: “toxic masculinity“. Seriously? Fuck off with that phrase. Cooper is great in this film and his character is broken and he needs help. I didn’t find anything at all toxic about him or their relationship. They both fully supported each other’s careers (he only criticized hers a little when he felt she wasn’t being true to herself anymore). They never stopped loving each other despite their problems. How was he toxic? Had their characters’ roles been reversed, no one would be calling Gaga’s character “toxic”. No one called Midler “toxic” in The Rose. Sorry for the rant – I just get sick of self-righteous bullshit phrases being thrown around online these days. Guess I’m just old since I found this to be a strong love story and pretty damn heartbreaking. And it’s so not my usual type of film.

My Rating: 8/10

Mandy (2018) Review

Mandy (2018)

Directed by Panos Cosmatos

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, Bill Duke

Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiraling, surreal rampage of vengeance.

My Opinion:

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this film. Mandy isn’t even the weirdest film I’ve seen: I watch loads of weird shit so this was actually fairly tame. But I can usually think of other movies to compare a film to so that I can give you a better idea of what sort of thing to expect if you watch it. I don’t know what can be compared to this one. Maybe some Lars von Trier (mostly Melancholia)? I definitely thought of Heavy Metal & Hellraiser a few times. I didn’t get a David Lynch vibe from this – Mandy is weird in a completely different sort of way (Mandy is more my type of weird than Lynch’s work). Maybe a bit of Under The Skin style-wise? Maybe. Not really. I don’t know. Mandy isn’t much like anything I’ve seen before. And I love that! As I watch so many films, I’m always searching for something that feels a little bit different. Mandy certainly satisfied that need.

But did I like it? I definitely enjoyed watching it and it was probably worth the extremely expensive trip into London to see it. Yes, I liked it. I didn’t love it – I just appreciated seeing something so memorable. I can’t imagine watching it again but, with something like this, I don’t feel the need to as I’ll never forget it. That’s also important to me as I watch so many films that end up being truly forgettable. There are movies I saw a year ago that I hardly remember a thing about now. What’s the point of that?? I feel like I waste too much time on movies but that’s because I’m always searching for something feels like a work of art. I’m happy to say that, although I’m still trying to fully sort out my feelings on it, Mandy was worth my time. I expect it to make it into my Top Ten at the end of this year but it’s very hard to know where to place it at the moment.

Let’s start with what I liked the most: My favorite thing was probably Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score. What a terrible loss to the world of filmmaking. Mandy is dedicated to him – it’s one of the last films he scored before his death. He’s most known for his work on several of the brilliant Denis Villeneuve’s films and his score for Mandy truly helped set the bizarre, trippy & unsettling mood. Next would be the way that Panos Cosmatos used color throughout the film. It’s a beautiful film. Great imagery, combined with an atmospheric score, are often all I need to keep me happy. Oh, speaking of Villeneuve, I suppose I was also reminded a bit of Blade Runner 2049 here with the gorgeous use of color or cinematography or whatever the hell made these movies so lovely (I know nothing about filmmaking – I just know what my eyes like).

Besides a great score & look, the next thing I most care about is great characters. Mandy isn’t quite as strong on that as it is on its look & sound but the actors were all fantastic and made these characters far stronger & more interesting than you normally get in a horror film. The story itself, well, isn’t really all that important anyway. I’m not sure what the hell was going on with the Weird Science demon biker dudes but that doesn’t matter either. They were silly fun. All you need to know is that it’s a revenge film and who doesn’t love a good revenge film? It’s the only time I can stomach violence in a movie: when evil fuckers get what’s coming to them. Is that fucked-up? I’m a wuss with violence but didn’t look away during any of Mandy. That may partly be due to it being cheesy, 80’s sort of gore (the film is set in 1983 so that’s the vibe it’s going for).

Back to the characters: Nicolas Cage is really good in this. Yes. Can you believe it? I’m not really a fan as he’s just too damn cheesy most of the time. I’ll say there were two fellow bloggers who helped convince me to make the journey to see Mandy: Mike at Screenkicker (review HERE) and Greg Moss at Mossfilm (review HERE). I totally agree with what Greg said about it feeling like Cage was reined in on this one. He’s still crazy Nic Cage but it works with this bonkers film and he’s far less nuts than the bad guys. He was perfect for this role & I assume credit has to be given to Cosmatos for Cage not being too over-the-top for once. Even looking like this, he’s not the craziest motherfucker in this thing:

And his thirst for vengeance is completely understandable as we get a good amount of time seeing his character with Mandy and how in love they are. Andrea Riseborough gives a great understated performance as Mandy (someone had to be understated in this thing!). It was a good contrast with the batshit crazy leader of the cult who becomes obsessed with her & tries to make her another one of his followers. Cult leader Jeremiah is played by Linus Roache and he’s probably the most terrifying character I’ve seen in quite a while. Michael Myers has nothing on this twat. (By the way – I’m reviewing the new Halloween movie later today). Jeremiah is completely unhinged and I wanted Nic Cage to kill the absolute fuck out of this bastard:

Whoa. This is the longest “review” I’ve written in ages. It just goes to show that I’m far more interested in a film like this than I am in the same old predictable shit that we normally see. As I said, I’ll be posting my review of Halloween (2018) later today and it’s super short as I have very little to say about it. It’s nothing we haven’t seen in hundreds of other slashers. But Mandy is unique. Most people are likely to hate it if they watch it but they certainly won’t forget it.

My Rating: 8/10

To give you a little bit of an idea of the mood of this film, the below King Crimson song (Starless) is played at the beginning. It sets the mood perfectly. Mandy is basically the prog rock of movies: it’s trippy, it’s a little bit pretentious, and only a select few will actually like it (yes, I do like a bit of prog rock when I’m in the mood for that sort of thing…):

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Directed by Ron Howard

Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany

Music by John Powell & John Williams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.


My Opinion:

I saw this at midnight last night. I’m exhausted! But I suppose I better do a quickie review before America gets to see this tonight (is that right?). Because I’m sure everyone is just dying to know my opinion as there’ll be NO other reviews to be found for this movie anywhere. Yeah, the other reviews will be much more detailed than mine. You won’t find that here. I’ll make this very quick and just let you know if I liked the latest Star Wars movie or not.

Yep! I liked it. I really really liked it. Not sure yet if I loved it, but… Maybe. I need to see it again. Here’s how I feel about all the new Star Wars movies (I’ve linked to my full reviews):

The Force Awakens: LOVED it. Easily my favorite of the new ones.
Rogue One: Certainly didn’t hate it but didn’t love it. Liked it okay but, overall, it just didn’t work for me. Felt the least “Star Wars” to me.
The Last Jedi: Wasn’t happy with this at first. It has grown on me. I certainly like it much more than a lot of people seemed to but, depending on what they do with the final film, I could end up liking this one much more or much less. Really hope they do the final film right (I want it to be more like The Force Awakens).

My ranking? I don’t yet know until the final film but it’s currently probably The Force Awakens, then The Last Jedi or Solo (time will tell so I’ll make them a tie at the moment) and then Rogue One. My hubby’s order (HUGE Star Wars nut), if you’re interested, is currently: The Force Awakens, Solo, Rogue One, The Last Jedi. I was surprised he has Solo in second place so far but he did thoroughly enjoy it.

So onto Solo… As most people have said so far, this movie is a lot of fun. There seems to be a big backlash against this movie before people have even seen it. I truly don’t understand that. Is it just because they didn’t like The Last Jedi?? Wow, people are hard to please. I was shocked that the midnight showings for this at my cinema were completely dead. One screen had only six people! I love Star Wars and, no, I really don’t want to see its legacy ruined. Yes, I worry that The Last Jedi has started down that path. But let’s see how they handle the final film. And, in the meantime, let’s spend some time having fun with Han, Chewbacca & Lando since they’re fantastic characters we all love. I also saw a lot of people say “Oh, people are saying Solo is fun. That just means it’s bad”. Huh? Since when did people decide that movies aren’t meant to be fun anymore?! I want movies to be fun. I want to be entertained. Fun doesn’t automatically mean bad.



I think the most important thing to me was that they’d get our most beloved characters right. I think we all had our doubts about Alden Ehrenreich but I think he did a good job. Was he the perfect person for this role? Maybe not. But who could be? Han Solo is one of the most iconic (and coolest) characters of all time. Who can possibly do Han Solo justice?? I had no problem with Ehrenreich – I liked him as Han. And Donald Glover is great as Lando but I think we had already accepted him based on the trailers. He’s cool as f*^k. I loved seeing these two characters meeting and, even as I write this, I’m probably liking this movie even more as I think of young Han, Lando, and Chewbacca all meeting for the first time. I adored all their scenes together.


I thought all the new characters were pretty great as well. I’m not sure that I have any new absolute favorites but it’s very hard to top all of the original trilogy characters. I’m not going to get into the new additions, however, as I wish to remain completely spoiler free. I’ll just say that I liked the history that Han had with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), Woody Harrelson and his team of “can they be trusted?” misfits were a joy and the perfect fit to team up with Han & Lando, and the baddies were quite effective – they looked the part and were menacing.


What else can I say? This movie gave me what I wanted. It’ll never top the original trilogy but no new Star Wars movie ever will. I don’t expect that from any of the new movies. I think Ron Howard has done a great job with Solo, especially considering that it was such a troubled production. It stays very faithful to & respectful of the Star Wars legacy and does all the existing characters justice. There are some great “fan service” bits that are a real pleasure but don’t feel at all forced (they aren’t the type you’ll roll your eyes at – they’re just fun). Yeah. Fun! This movie is fun. Fun is good. Fun is what I wanted. It’s okay to have fun sometimes! Solo: A Star Wars Story is a good film and, for me, it’s a welcome addition to the Star Wars universe.

My Rating: 8/10

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (but I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now)**

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

My Opinion:

If anyone has ever read a review here, they’ll know that all my superhero reviews start with me saying “I’m superheroed out”. This is movie number 19 of the MCU, for crying out loud! But I’ve watched all of them (other than The Incredible Hulk. Oops.) I do enjoy them. They’re fun popcorn movies & characters and, thanks to Guardians Of The Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok adding in much more humor & fun, I’ve liked them a bit more in the past few years. I wasn’t overly excited for Infinity War but knew I’d go to it as I do with every Marvel film. I thought it was pretty great! Slow to start but a truly ballsy ending that I loved. In fact, I liked it so much that I want it to be the true ending. Screw Infinity War 2!

I’ve finally ranked all the MCU movies (I’ll post that tomorrow or Wednesday) and had to re-read the plot synopsis for a few of them to refresh my memory. The ones I remember the least are the Avengers ones with loads of characters. It’s always fun to see them all together but the stories become messy and I find that I barely remember the plot afterwards. I mostly prefer the individual character movies.

I expected Infinity War to be just as convoluted and, okay, it probably is a little messy at first while the movie does loads of jumping around from one place to another. But I had a lot of fun with the various small groups of Avengers meeting & working together for the first time. Considering the massive amount of superheroes in this movie, I thought they did surprisingly well with getting the right balance when it came to time spent with each group and with some further character development.

Of the various superheroes meeting for the first time, the Guardians of the Galaxy & Thor are the absolute best. They made a fantastically funny team. I want them to team up for good and make spin-off movies together! Okay, I admit that Thor & Groot are my two favorite characters and the Guardians movies are my favorites but seeing these characters bond was exactly what I wanted. Loved it! I also loved that a lot of characters who’ve had smaller roles in previous Avengers films (or no role at all) had more screen time here. I really liked seeing the Guardians, Thor, Doctor Strange, Vision & Scarlet Witch given important things to do. Especially Doctor Strange – I don’t know if he’s exactly a fan favorite but I think I’m a fan. I find his abilities far more interesting than those of some of the other characters.


Not that our usual Phase One characters have nothing to do – we still get plenty of Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, etc etc. But I’m glad they slightly took a backseat (As presumably they’ll have the biggest roles in part 2. If alive. I’m not saying!). Iron Man still has a large role in this one and I’m now really liking his growing fatherly friendship with Spider-Man. I actually thought there was too much Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming but now see that it really help set up their relationship for this film.

I’ll wrap this up before I accidentally give away a massive spoiler or something (although the biggest fans will have made sure to see this by now, I hope!). It was hard to avoid spoilers for this one and I’m glad I managed to for two whole days as I think it made me appreciate this film even more. I’ve not mentioned all the characters but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in this (or that they’re dead!). Maybe no one dies in this. Maybe they do. No one really dies in superhero movies, though, so I guess that’s why I’ve never become a massive superhero movie fan. I can’t take them too seriously. It’s not like Han Solo or something – I’m never getting him back! As I said, these Marvel films are just fun popcorn movies to me. Infinity War was actually far more enjoyable than I was expecting and, at the moment, it’s one of my favorites of the 19 MCU movies. But Part 2 could change my mind… I hope it doesn’t undo the good that the end of Part 1 does. I want a superhero movie to do something truly unexpected for a change.

My Rating: 8/10



I love Thor.

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes. Of course? No mid-credits scene, only one at the very end. Yes, you have to stay for it. For once, not ONE person left my cinema before the end credits scene. It only took 19 movies for people to finally figure out that they need to stay through the credits for Marvel movies…. 😉

A Quiet Place (2018) Review

A Quiet Place (2018)

Directed by John Krasinski

Screenplay by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski

Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

My Opinion:

I was really looking forward to this movie well before all the hype. I liked the sound (ha!) of the plot synopsis as it seemed like an original idea plus I really like Emily Blunt so that helped as well. And Emily Blunt is a proper actress – she wouldn’t be in a BAD horror movie! Well, okay – Wind Chill wasn’t the greatest (although I kind of liked it but that’s probably only because of Blunt). Anyway, good modern horror movies are extremely hard to find and I’m very picky when it comes to this genre. There’s been an improvement, however, in the past few years with things such as It Follows and The Babadook and I’m happy to say that A Quiet Place continues this trend of original, well-acted, and smart horror films.

First of all, this movie does what I think is the most important thing in all movies, really, but is often ignored in the horror genre: it takes time setting up and making you care about the characters. Just like with the It adaptation last year (another chance to mention It – I loved that film). I’ll stay completely spoiler free in this review but I think it’s known that A Quiet Place focuses on one family as they struggle to survive in complete silence. It’s obvious that the parents love each other. How sweet – Blunt & Krasinski may actually have a loving real-life Hollywood marriage. I hope so! I want another Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward Hollywood love story. I’d like to believe the love is real because it comes across that way in the film. They were both great and the kids also did really well. You know the parents will do whatever it takes to protect their family.

By the way – Yes, it was really was hard to eat popcorn in this movie. Crunch crunch crunch! Hats off to those in my cinema – everyone actually stayed really quiet for this film. Shocking! You always have some asshole ruining things but I think, as the film was so quiet, everyone was too self-conscious to make any noise. Now if we could just get everyone to not distract the audience with their BRIGHT FUCKING PHONE SCREENS! What sort of movie could make people not want to look at their phones, I wonder? Hmm…. (Wasn’t an issue for me in this film since I was in the front row)


What else can I say? You’ve already seen all the reviews raving over this & heard all the hype. This is a brilliantly acted and thoroughly effective horror film. It didn’t scare me but no movies ever really do so maybe that’s just me (I’ve watched too many movies!). But I was very tense as I wanted this loving family to survive and, for a change, I wasn’t able to predict what would happen (unlike with the majority of cliché modern horrors). I’m happy to say that A Quiet Place lives up to all the hype. I’m loving this new trend of modern horror movies actually being damn good films. Can the Academy please recognize this one with some Oscar nominations next year? It’s time to start giving these films more credit when it’s deserved.

My Rating: 8/10

I, Tonya (2017) Review

I, Tonya (2017)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale, Mckenna Grace

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.

My Opinion:

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I’m still contemplating putting it as my number one movie of those released in the UK this year. I do think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri & The Shape Of Water are better “films” but, to be honest, I probably “liked” I, Tonya more. It’s a shame it wasn’t up for Best Picture as it’s certainly much better than Get Out and probably even Lady Bird. I know I liked it more than Darkest Hour, although that was very good. I’ve not seen the other Best Picture nominees, FYI. Oh well – at least the Academy recognized Margot Robbie & Allison Janney. They were absolutely fantastic! I was rooting for Robbie to win as well as Janney.


For any non-Americans who aren’t around the same sort of age as me (not much younger than Harding now), you may not realize what a huge story the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan thing was at the time. It was insane! Perfect tabloid fodder. I’m not a big “news” person and I’m not at all into tabloids but I lapped that damn story up. And it was weird how it all turned into a “Poor Tonya” thing in the media (after Kerrigan’s personality came across as thoroughly unlikable). As Robbie’s Harding said in this movie, Kerrigan won a silver medal and looked like she’d just stepped in poo (or something like that). Okay, I admit to being Team Tonya instead of Team Nancy. But, hey, that’s the most I’ve ever watched of the Olympics! In the end, though, I was definitely Team Oksana Baiul. She was far more graceful on the ice and seemed really sweet. She deserved that gold medal and I was happy she won. (Seriously – these are three of the only athletes I can even name….).


Back to the movie! I have no idea how factual it is. Did Harding really not know about the planned attack? Maybe not. Probably not. But Robbie was brilliant as Harding! Especially at the end, when she learns her consequences for the attack. If this movie was made to make us sympathetic to Harding, I’d say it worked. Was her mom really that much of a bitch?! Holy hell! Janney was hateful (but funny) as fuck. I suppose it annoys some people, just like when this incident happened, that a lot of people seem to be on Harding’s side in this whole thing. I do think it’s sad that her career was ruined because of it and that this incident will be with her forever. Instead of being known for skating, she’s known for the attack and the whole media circus. It will follow her until the day she dies (same for Kerrigan). Oh, and I think Sebastian Stan deserves a mention as Harding’s abusive hubby Jeff Gillooly. He’s overshadowed by Janney & Robbie but he was so good I kept forgetting it was him – he was almost unrecognizable. He possibly became his character even more than his co-stars. Subtle is good too. Oh! And that cute little girl from Gifted (Mckenna Grace) briefly plays Harding at a young age. She’s also very good. An actress to keep an eye on.


Obviously, I enjoyed this film a lot but I’ve always been very interested in this story. I don’t think you need to know anything about the true story to enjoy this, though. It’s a very well-written film and the dark humor was done perfectly. The mockumentary style suits this crazy tabloid incident and the main performances are all Oscar-worthy. Honestly, I’m confused as to why this didn’t get a Best Picture nomination? Three Billboards also has the same sort of blend of dark humor, serious drama, and great acting that I, Tonya does. Oh well – I highly recommend this movie to anyone, especially film-loving bloggers who haven’t seen it yet.

My Rating: 8/10

The Shape Of Water (2017) Review

The Shape Of Water (2017)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spencer

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Baltimore in 1962, the plot follows a mute custodian at a high-security government laboratory who falls in love with a captured humanoid-amphibian creature.

My Opinion:

It felt like the longest wait EVER to finally see The Shape Of Water in the UK. It came out on Valentine’s Day with that Fifty Shades Shit. Give me the fish man over that crap any day! I was really excited as this is my type of thing & I think Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is fantastic. I probably hyped this one up too much in my mind after months of anticipation. I did really like it but Pan’s Labyrinth is still by far del Toro’s best. This is my second favorite he’s directed that I’ve seen, though.

Where do I start?! It’s pretty bad when you can believe in a love story involving a fish man more than one in some sappy romcom bullshit starring Kate Hudson (or whoever has replaced her nowadays – I’m not a big romcom chick). Doug Jones does well giving life to… Umm… Fish Man! Do I have to keep calling him that??? Okay – he’s officially credited as Amphibian Man / The Asset. The whole point of most of del Toro’s work seems to be that the true monsters are those who appear normal on the outside and, as expected, that’s the theme here. You’ll feel for Amphibian Man and understand why the character played by Sally Hawkins wants to protect him. You may not want to have sex with him, though. Who knows. Maybe you will! That’s just not for me, but I’m sure I’d have a lovely platonic friendship with Amphibian Man.

The overall story was more predictable & straightforward than I was expecting. Michael Shannon made for a good baddie as usual but his performance also felt a bit phoned in. That’s probably because he does this type of role so often. He’s quite a one-dimensional baddie, which was a little disappointing. But I do love to truly hate the bad guy in a movie and he certainly manages to achieve that here.

Besides Amphibian Man, we have four main human characters who help him out. Sally Hawkins is of course the cleaner who falls in love with him, Octavia Spencer is her friend & co-worker, Richard Jenkins is her friend & neighbor, and Michael Stuhlbarg is a scientist who doesn’t approve of the treatment of Amphibian Man. Hawkins, Spencer & Jenkins are all up for acting Oscars and I’m happy with that. I loved that Hawkins was mute, making her connection with Amphibian Man even stronger. Hawkins & Jones do a great job expressing their emotions without words. I especially liked Jenkins as her neighbor and Spencer was once again a very likeable friend of our main character, though it would be nice to see her as more than just the friendly sidekick (I’ve not yet seen Hidden Figures).

The characters are what make this movie and I really enjoyed them. The story is simple as are its themes but I still like its theme of love & acceptance, which is still relevant today. Set in 1962, all our characters have to deal with intolerance (the mute Hawkins as well as Jenkins & Spencer due to sexual orientation and race). While I despise anything too overtly political in movies, The Shape Of Water remains subtle and this group of people and the parallels with the treatment of Amphibian Man work really well. There are some beautiful scenes & cinematography as well as a lovely score (it’s also nominated for cinematography, production design & score).

I hope The Shape Of Water does well at the Oscars but I keep flipping back & forth on if I prefer this or Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This one is more “me” but I think Three Billboards may be slightly ahead for me. I’d be interested to see if my opinion changes in a year. The Shape Of Water feels more timeless & cinematic and may be the more highly acclaimed film in the future. Oh, and as one last thing, I have to add that I love where Hawkins lived in this film. Guillermo del Toro knows how to please cinephiles!

My Rating: 8/10

**By the way – Sally Hawkins is a serial masturbator in this. I may have to add to My Top Five Movie Scenes Of Self-Pleasure

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh

Starring: Frances McDormand, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Sam Rockwell, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, Clarke Peters

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a mother who, when the police in her town fail to find a suspect in her daughter’s murder, rents three billboards to call public attention to the unsolved crime, polarizing the community.

My Opinion:

I watched this the other day as part of a “double feature” with Coco (which I reviewed HERE). I love Pixar and was expecting to like Coco far more but I preferred Three Billboards. It’s a great film! I don’t know why but maybe it’s because my expectations were low whereas they were very high for Coco.

It’s that time of year in the UK when we get the “Oscar-worthy” stuff like this. Because what better way to make the shittiest month of the year even MORE depressing than by releasing all the dark & dreary Oscar dramas?! Manchester By The Sea? Hell yeah! Just what I want to watch in f*^king January! But I kind of loved Three Billboards. It’s another “Oscar drama” but it’s so well-written and wonderfully acted and the dark humor throughout it really made it a much more rewarding watch (for me, at least) than the usual heavy Oscar dramas. Okay, I know the Oscar nominations aren’t out yet but this will most likely be one of them and, at the moment, I can say I’d be happy to see it win. We’ll see what it’s up against – most of the films still aren’t out here yet.

Where do I begin? With the acting? I loved everyone in this. I’m a bit weird in that I don’t care too much about the acting in a film, as long as it isn’t terrible and as long as it’s not someone I can’t stand the sight of (like Gwyneth Paltrow or something). But, man – everyone did a brilliant job in this. Our main three, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson & Sam Rockwell, were insanely good. Like, I want to hug them and thank them for being in this movie. Seriously. And I hate a lot of actors! When did Woody Harrelson get so great??? I loved him in Edge Of Seventeen as well. He’s going to end up a favorite actor of mine at this rate. I wouldn’t have expected that ten years ago. Everyone else as well, though, even down to the small parts – all were great. Perfect casting. I’d love to see the acting win plenty of Oscars for this film.

I’m not sure why my expectations were so low for this film. I really enjoyed Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges. I also thought Seven Psychopaths, though flawed, was pretty good overall. Three Billboards is now easily my favorite (yes, even over In Bruges). And no Colin Farrell in this! Yay! I’d recommend this to anyone who was a fan of McDonagh’s previous two films as it has the same sort of style. However, this is much darker material (a teenage girl is murdered) and the emotions feel more genuine than in his previous films. The movie gets the right balance between drama & humor and it wasn’t a “heavy” watch in the way I was expecting. I’m actually not a fan of things like Fargo (I never finished it) and preferred the way that these characters felt more real to me. I suppose it’s a combination of the acting and the writing, which has come together perfectly in Three Billboards whereas McDonagh’s other two films didn’t work quite as well overall. I’m now really looking forward to seeing more of his films in the future. And as he likes to re-use actors, I hope he sticks with McDormand, Harrelson & Rockwell.

My Rating: 8/10

The Frame, The Fits & Before I Fall Movie Reviews

Here are three quickie reviews for three more movies before I post my 2017 end-of-year lists. Two are 2017 (UK release) films & I try to review all current movies by the end of the year. The other one is just one that I really really liked. Here we go…

The Fits (2015)

Directed by Anna Rose Holmer

Starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Da’Sean Minor, Lauren Gibson, Makyla Burnam, Inayah Rodgers, Antonio A. B. Grant Jr.

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Toni (Royalty Hightower), an 11-year-old tomboy who struggles to fit into a girls’ dance troupe, which begins to suffer from an inexplicable epidemic of violent fits.

My Opinion:

This film is a hard one to explain. It’s indie as f*^k and I’d never ever recommend it to anyone other than hardcore film fans (like you guys!). Yeah, it’s one of those festival films so it’s 2015 but was only released in the UK this year. It’s good. It’s “arty”. Royalty Hightower, who plays the “11-year-old tomboy”, is the best thing about it. From what I read, a real life dance team was found for this film and Hightower was one of them. She feels very real, probably due to the fact that she wasn’t an actor. I think, with young people in films, it’s sometimes better when they aren’t from an acting background as actors can come across as too fake.

I watched this because I was intrigued by the synopsis (and also because I was short on time & it’s only 1 hour & 12 minutes!). I read this at Wikipedia, which explains where director & writer Anna Rose Holmer got the idea for the film:

“While developing the script, Holmer was inspired by real-life stories of communities succumbing to fits of hysteria. She first became interested in historic cases of mass psychogenic illness and conversion disorder while producing Ballet 422 (2014). Examples of outbreaks of seizure-like attacks and uncontrollable spasms date back to the Middle Ages, but there are still cases of this occurring today. In 2007, a group of high school girls in Virginia suffered from “twitching arms and legs” that eventually resolved itself. Holmer’s research into this subject, specifically cases like the Dancing Plague, and the pattern of these fits emerging amongst young women inspired her to explore the nature of this subject in a coming of age dance-film.”

Bizarre. I’ve never heard of this sort of thing. Anyway, if you watch this, don’t expect a straightforward exploration of this topic. Or any exploration whatsoever. The film is quite atmospheric, which is something I enjoy but won’t be to everyone’s taste. This probably isn’t a great comparison but this film reminded me a little bit of the feeling I had while watching Picnic At Hanging RockPicnic is certainly the better film but I liked the mysterious tension throughout The Fits. It deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it but I have to say this is one of those movies that you’re unlikely to watch more than once and a lot of people would find it very slow & be frustrated by its lack of explanation. It’s very well made and I loved its originality, however, and I liked how “real” the characters felt. I’d be interested in seeing more films made by Anna Rose Holmer. 

My Rating: 6.5/10

Before I Fall (2017)

Directed by Ry Russo-Young

Based on Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Jennifer Beals, Diego Boneta, Elena Kampouris

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life, until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over and over, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s losing.

My Opinion:

Teen movie based on a YA novel! Once again, I’ll admit to still enjoying teen movies & YA fiction. Us adults were teens once – we can still relate! I was actually going to read this book before the movie but gave up after having it on reserve at the library for ages. Yeah, the library! I’m a library nerd. I realized fairly recently that, like, you can read books from there for free. 😉

Anyway. This is Groundhog Day with the twist being that this pretty teenage girl has to relive the last day of her life over & over again. She tries to make changes each time to see if she can stop the cycle, which always results in her death at the end of the day. Zoey Deutch plays the main girl. She’s so adorable. She looks soooo much like her mom Lea Thompson!

I really enjoyed this movie. It certainly won’t be winning any Oscars and the plot felt far from original but I love the “Groundhog Day story” that has been done so many times (I badly wanted to see Happy Death Day this year as well but didn’t manage it). It’s always fun to see the different ways this storyline can play out. I’m not sure why this didn’t come out in cinemas in the UK like it was originally meant to as it’s better than half the shit that gets a cinema release.

I can’t give this a higher rating as I have to admit that, while it’s fun & I liked it far more than I was expecting, it still felt quite shallow. The whole point is that Deutch’s popular character starts to see what life is like for those in her high school who don’t have it as easy as she does. Her boyfriend and her circle of friends are the popular assholes that most of us despised in school. Deutch is the “nice one” of the group anyway so it feels unfair that she’s the one with this fate. The story also feels a bit too forced and the characters are extremely one-dimensional. Other than Deutch, everyone is a “popular asshole!” or “unhappy & uncool nerd!”. Teenagers are more complex than that. Still, I liked this movie. Deutch has her mother’s charm. Also, this movie has a Grimes song in it (Genesis)! I love Grimes (I wrote about her HERE). I’ve included the video for Genesis at the end of this post.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Frame (2014)

Directed & Written & Music by Jamin Winans

Starring: David Carranza, Tiffany Mualem, Cal Bartlett, Christopher Soren Kelly, Anthony Nuccio

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two strangers find their lives colliding in an impossible way. Alex is a methodical cargo thief working for a dangerous cartel. Sam is a determined paramedic trying to save the world while running from her past.

My Opinion:

I loved this movie. One of my favorite blogs here is mossfilm because he’s introduced me to a lot of great obscure sci-fi movies that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. The Frame is one of these films. I’m not going to say a lot about it as his review is PERFECT (you can read it HERE). This is my favorite genre and I love when we get a film like The Frame, which feels truly fresh & original. It’s a bit arty smarty-pants but I loved the story and the fantastic visuals.

I don’t know how to discuss this one without giving too much away. The mossfilm review does say a bit about the plot if you’re interested. I think, if you love this genre and like to see a story which will surprise you & keep you guessing, you may be best going into this one knowing as little as possible. I’ll say that it tackles some interesting themes (like faith & fate) and I think it’s one from which different viewers will come away with different questions and feelings about it. For me, I saw it as a very unique love story and I thought the two main characters were fantastic (Alex the cargo thief played by David Carranza and Sam the paramedic played by Tiffany Mualem). Others will see it as something far deeper than the simple love story at its core (and it is) but, more than anything, the story itself is damn good. I watch a lot of movies so I get bored seeing the same predictable stories over & over again. I want more stuff like The Frame. I’ll never forget watching it, whereas I forget half the mainstream movies that I watch a year or so after seeing them.

I so want to talk more about this movie but I’m trying to avoid spoilers! Can someone else please watch it so we can discuss it?? 😉 The Frame is currently available on Amazon Prime Video in the UK & I highly recommend checking it out before it disappears since it’s an obscure one that could later be hard to find. Here’s a spoiler-free way of describing it: The Frame is like a really good long episode of Black Mirror. But more arty. And what I’ve seen of Black Mirror so far is great. Watch The Frame.

My Rating: 8/10

There are a couple of trailers for The Frame. One gives away too much of the story so I don’t recommend that one. The one below shows only images from the film. Still, I recommend knowing nothing beforehand but this is the safer trailer if you’re interested:

And this is the video for the Grimes song Genesis in Before I Fall. It’s weird. I love it.

Wolf Children (2012) Blind Spot Review

Wolf Children (おおかみこどもの雨と雪, Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, Wolf Children Ame and Yuki)

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a young mother who is left to raise two half-human half-wolf children, Ame and Yuki, after their werewolf father dies.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of all the Blind Spot films I watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite:

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. The King & I
8. House (Hausu) (1977)
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Wolf Children
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. The Untouchables
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

Wolf Children is the second Mamoru Hosoda film I’ve seen after watching Summer Wars as a 2016 Blind Spot choice (I’m watching these out of order – I really need to watch his film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It’ll be a 2018 Blind Spot choice). Summer Wars was fun & I loved the concept but it’s easy to see why Wolf Children seems to be Hosoda’s most critically acclaimed film so far. It’s a beautifully animated film with far stronger characters than most live-action films can manage these days. 

My Japanese anime experience is mostly limited to the Studio Ghibli stuff, Akira & Ghost In The Shell. The latter two are clearly more hardcore “grown-up” anime while half of the Studio Ghibli stuff is kid-friendly and half is aimed more at teenagers & up. Wolf Children is like the slighty more grown-up & coming-of-age Ghibli films (Spirited Away is the easiest comparison). It’s not as magically bizzare as the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis (what IS?!) but I have to admit that I liked it more than most of the non-Miyazaki Ghiblis. I’ll definitely be watching the rest of Hosoda’s biggest films but know that I’ve now seen the one considered his best. Oh, and FYI: I noticed that his 2015 film The Boy And The Beast is on Amazon Prime Video if you have that. I need to find the time to watch that.


As I said, I can see why Wolf Children has received so much praise. It’s beautiful to look at, especially the scenes set in the snowy woods. The wolf children themselves are absolutely adorable. I want some wolf babies! Okay, maybe not: I have to admit that the wolf/human sex scene was a little disturbing. I suppose teenage Twilight girls would probably like this film… Oh, shit. I’m not comparing this to Twilight! Sorry!!! This is nothing like Twilight!!!!

Human/Wolf sex aside, the love story is tastefully done and the movie is more about the story of the children as they grow up and try to fit in with the other human children in their community. I loved these two characters with their strong & very different personalities (shy & scared brother, bold & outgoing older sister) and the way that their personalities are affected by their experiences as they grow older. I do always love a good coming of age film and Wolf Children is a great addition to that genre. I’m very glad that I added this to my Blind Spot list and finally got around to watching it. There will definitely be some more anime in my 2018 Blind Spot list, which I’ll post in a couple of weeks.

My Rating: 8/10

See you tomorrow with my month-in-review post & next week for all my 2017 year-end lists! I think I keep this blog going only to be able to do the year-end lists. 😉 Love them! I’ll be posting:

– My IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update
– My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
– My Top Ten Books Read In 2017
– My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2017 (Release dates prior to 2017)
– My Top Ten Movies Of 2017 (Released in the UK in 2017)

The Untouchables (1987) Blind Spot Review

The Untouchables (1987)

Directed by Brian De Palma

Based on The Untouchables by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley

Starring: Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith, Andy García, Robert De Niro, Sean Connery

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of all the Blind Spot films I watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite:

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. The King & I
8. House (Hausu) (1977)
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Wolf Children
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. The Untouchables
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

Well, damn. I liked The Untouchables far more than I was expecting. It’s a great film. I have to admit that “crime” drama, especially when based on true crime, is quite possibly my least favorite movie genre. I don’t know why but know I’m probably in the minority. The Silence Of The Lambs? Not a fan. Not that that was exactly true crime. As for true crime, I couldn’t even make it through that Making A Murderer thing that everyone was talking about on Netflix. I don’t know the outcome. I stopped watching halfway through and wondered why it couldn’t just be a two-hour documentary.

But back to The Untouchables. I have NO clue how true it is to real events. Okay – I looked into in a bit and it looks like this film is almost entirely fiction. That’s fine – true crime upsets me anyway. Well, however much of it is true or not, I thoroughly enjoyed this film as a work of art & entertainment. It deserves more acclaim. And I was probably further drawn into it thanks to the Ennio Morricone score as well. Man I love that f*^king genius. I’d say I’m also a fan of quite a few of Brian De Palma’s older movies and I think this is his best film (that I’ve seen, that is, but I’m pretty sure I’ve now seen all those worth watching). I prefer it to Scarface but, since I’m always completely honest, Carrie is still my personal favorite of his although I know it’s flawed.

As with all the movies that I like the most, The Untouchables is full of strong characters and relationships. In this case, it’s the camaraderie amongst the team put together by Federal Agent Eliot Ness to bring down criminal Al Capone. That team was nicknamed The Untouchables, FYI, as it was claimed that they never took bribes and were incorruptible. These guys here – I loved ’em:

Yeah! Even Sean Connery was likable. Anal bum cover! He was the main partner to Ness and my favorite character. His Irish(?!) accent seemed a bit dodgy but that’s Connery for you. He won an Oscar for this role anyway (yay!) so I guess it didn’t matter. And I’ve never been a huge fan of Andy García but he was super cool in this. To be honest, I thought the only weak one in this film was Robert De Niro as Al Capone. I liked that his part was smaller than I expected (this is meant to be the story of Ness & The Untouchables, after all). He’s just done the gangster thing much better in other movies. Sorry, De Niro fans!

There are some great iconic scenes in this film as well, such as the bit with the baby buggy that most of you will have seen in clips over the years as I had. Oh, and I’ve not even mentioned Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness… I think we all got pretty sick of Costner by the mid-90s, right? I honestly would happily never watch him in another movie again, which is probably a little unfair but, f*^k it, he won’t be reading this. However, I have to admit that he was pretty perfect in the role of Ness so I have zero complaints. Good job, Kevin Costner!

I just want to end this with what my hubby said about the movie when we were discussing it & I think Costner ties into this a bit: This movie would be considered more of a classic up there with the likes of The Godfather if it had been made in the 70s instead of the 80s. As much as I love the 80s, it didn’t produce a lot of all-time classics and the gritty look & feel of Seventies filmmaking would have really given this film the extra edge it seems to be missing. Plus there’s the fact that Kevin Costner is in it… He just doesn’t scream “star of all-time gangster classic!” to me. Why am I so anti-Costner?! I have no idea. He was good in this. I liked this a hell of a lot and find it odd that it isn’t more highly rated (it’s not even in the IMDB Top 250, which I think it deserves to be). Quite frankly, it deserved a Best Picture Oscar nomination as well. These were the nominees that year: The Last Emperor, Broadcast News, Fatal Attraction, Hope and Glory & Moonstruck. Whaaat? Okay – I’ve not seen winner The Last Emperor but The Untouchables is better than all the other nominees (although I have a soft spot for Fatal Attraction). Stupid Oscars. If you haven’t seen The Untouchables and you’re interested in doing the Blind Spot thing, I’d recommend adding it to your list. It’s well worth the watch.

My Rating: 8/10

House (Hausu 1977) Blind Spot Review

House (1977)
Japanese: ハウス Hausu

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi

Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Ai Matubara, Kumiko Oba, Mieko Sato, Eriko Tanaka, Masayo Miyako, Yōko Minamida

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A schoolgirl and six of her classmates travel to her aunt’s country home, which tries to devour the girls in bizarre ways.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite (I’ve finished watching them all! Just need to review the rest):

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. The King & I
8. House (Hausu 1977)
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Wolf Children
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. The Untouchables
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

I first heard about Hausu when Anna of Film Grimoire reviewed it (HERE). It looked truly bizarre from the images & I knew I had to see it so it got added to my Blind Spot list. Well, I’ve now finally seen it and I can confirm that it is, indeed, truly bizarre. Love it. We need more truly bizarre movies that are as entertaining as this one!

Er. I have no idea how to go about reviewing this. I read this at Wikipedia, which I found interesting:

“Following the success of the American film Jaws, a proposition came from the Toho film studio for Nobuhiko Obayashi to develop a similar script. To find inspiration for the story, Obayashi discussed ideas with his pre-teen daughter Chigumi Obayashi. Nobuhiko sought her ideas, believing that adults “only think about things they understand … everything stays on that boring human level” while “children can come up with things that can’t be explained”. Several of Chigumi’s ideas were included in House…”

It then gets more specific on what bits in the film were from the mind of the director’s daughter and it’s all the weirdest & most entertaining parts (mainly the ones involving the house “devouring” the girls). Maybe more pre-teens should be consulted when making movies if this is the crazy result! Of course, this came out in 1977 – times were more trippy back then. Also, I love how this movie came about because of the success of Jaws?! Haha! This is nothing whatsoever like Jaws, FYI. People get eaten, so… I guess that’s the connection.

By the way, this is a horror comedy. I highly recommend it as I think this is one of those films that everyone should experience at least once, especially film fans. Just know beforehand to not take it seriously and don’t expect the meandering storyline to fully make sense. This is also from the above Wikipedia link:

“Obayashi recalled that his producer told him that Toho was tired of losing money on comprehensible films and were ready to let Obayashi direct the House script, which they felt was incomprehensible.”

The overall story, which seems to have been written around the director’s daughter’s ideas, is actually better than I expected and involves the aunt the girls are staying with. There’s clearly something not quite right with that aunt. And her cat…


The story, which is messy but fun, isn’t really important anyway. The best thing about this film is its imagery. So many scenes in this movie will forever be stuck in my head. There’s a tiny bit of blood (nothing gory) and some nudity so it’s definitely only for teens & adults but it’s like watching a slightly fucked up cartoon. It’s a good one for someone like me, who likes weird and creepy but struggles with the gory stuff.

Finally, I’ll end by saying that this horror (comedy) movie gets one more thing very right where so many other horror movies fail: I loved the characters. But I’m not talking about well developed characters or anything serious like that. The teenagers who visit this weird house in the countryside are also cartoonish in the way they’re given silly names with matching personalities. That was a lot of fun. Here are their names: Gorgeous, Kung Fu, Prof, Fantasy, Mac, Melody & Sweet. Kind of like the Seven Dwarfs, I suppose (characters I also love). I was especially fond of Kung Fu, who, as you might guess, goes around practicing her martial arts skills the whole time. What else can I say? This movie is weird as hell and loads of fun. I highly recommend it but be patient if you watch it as it starts out very slow. Don’t worry – shit gets crazy once they arrive at the HAUSU!

My Rating: 8/10

Gerald’s Game (2017) Review

Welcome to Day 3 of Stephen King Movies & Day 1 of Mike Flanagan Movies! I love King & recently did a Stephen King Week on my blog and last year I did a Mike Flanagan Week for October Horror Month. And now they’re together! How cool is that?!

The last two days I’ve posted reviews of It (2017), Cell & 1922. Today I’m reviewing Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of King’s Gerald’s Game. I’ll continue with Mike Flanagan movies the next few days with reviews of
Before I Wake, Ouija: Origin Of Evil, and reblogs of Absentia & Hush (but not Oculus, since I didn’t like that one so much). 😉

Let’s talk about Gerald’s Game

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Based on Gerald’s Game by Stephen King

Starring: Carla Gugino, Chiara Aurelia, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.

My Opinion:

I think I kind of loved this movie. Oh man, it makes me so happy when a Stephen King film adaptation is done well since there are quite a few dodgy ones. I did a ranked list of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (all 43 that I’ve seen) in September. I’ve just added Gerald’s Game & 1922 to that list. You can have a look at their placement if you want but I’ll say that 1922 is pretty low while Gerald’s Game is ranked much higher than I thought it would be before watching it. Maybe I enjoyed it so much since my expectations are usually quite low for King films?

I did read Gerald’s Game but it’s one I read years ago so didn’t remember all the smaller details. I prefer it that way – I remembered it as the movie unfolded but didn’t know beforehand some of what would happen. From what I remember of the book, I liked it fine but it was a bit long. That’s the genius of Stephen King, though – who else could write a full length novel where the main character is handcuffed to a bed for 95% of it?! For a 1 hour & 43 minute movie, it worked perfectly and I was gripped the entire time. I didn’t even mess around on my phone once during the whole thing! I only do that at home, FYI – People who use phones in cinemas are wankers.

The plot synopsis probably doesn’t sound all that appealing but it’s really a great psychological character study of someone facing their inner demons & with a far more feminist theme than I realized when I read the book years ago (I was probably too young). Or maybe the movie just does a great job getting its themes across? I do think this is easily one of the best King film adaptations as far as staying faithful to the book’s central idea and really bringing these characters to life. I know King doesn’t like some of the films (such as Kubrick’s The Shining) but I’d imagine he’s very happy with this one? As for Mike Flanagan movies, I’ve now watched all his biggest ones but I wouldn’t say I’ve absolutely loved any of them. Gerald’s Game is now my definite favorite of his. Way to go, Mike Flanagan! You’ve made a fantastic Stephen King movie.

I won’t go into the film’s story too much for anyone unfamiliar with it. If you’re planning on watching it, I think it would be best if you know nothing beforehand. I think this movie has been a pleasant surprise for those wondering how they’ve made an entire story of a woman stuck to a bed. I’ll talk about the acting instead. Carla Gugino is brilliant! I’ve liked her ever since that Son In Law movie she did with Pauly Shore. Haha! There goes my movie blog street cred. I’ve just said “Pauly Shore” on my blog! Seriously, though – this had to be a very tough role and she carries the whole film splendidly. Bruce Greenwood, whose role is bigger than you might think considering that he dies right away, does well with a character we can’t quite trust while Henry Thomas is creepy as f*^k (I’m trying to not connect this film in my mind to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial! Dammit – why did they have to make Elliott so creepy?!). The young girl, Chiara Aurelia, is also very strong. I remembered very little of her role & that backstory from the book. I really liked her character & her important connection to Gugino. Okay – I just looked into it & they made Aurelia’s role bigger in the film. Wise choice, Flanagan! Especially the ending bit involving her. I’ll say her story is a theme that upsets me and one that King addresses quite often but it’s very relevant at this point in time as it’s being openly discussed more than ever. For the film to come full circle in that way was a brilliant change to make. You know what? I think this may be one of those rare occasions where the movie is better than the book, at least based on what I’ve just read online of the “book to movie comparisons” in order to refresh my memory.

I do wonder if I should re-read this book as well as Dolores Claiborne, which came out the same year & which I now barely remember at all. I read this about Gerald’s Game at Wikipedia:

“Originally the book was intended to be a companion piece to King’s novel Dolores Claiborne, with the connecting theme of two women in crisis caught in the path of an eclipse, though this aspect was greatly reduced by the time the books were published.”

I can confirm this for King fans: there’s a Dolores Claiborne reference in the film as well as several other nods to other works by King. Thank you, Mike Flanagan! You know how to keep King fans happy. I loved the references. And I admit that I love when King does his “strong women” stories. I wonder why he so often revisits these sort of themes? He must have had some good female role models in his life. It’s not something I can say I even noticed when reading his books starting from the age of about 13 but it’s something I appreciate now as a grown-up (well, physically grown-up… maybe not mentally!). In fact, I don’t think it’s something I even gave much thought until after watching Gerald’s Game and noticing the Dolores Claiborne connection. It got me to thinking about other King stories involving strong women who often have to deal with various forms of abuse. A similar favorite of mine was Rose Madder, which doesn’t seem to get mentioned often. Lisey’s Story is another one I liked a lot that didn’t seem to be one of King’s more popular books. And I can think of quite a few King short stories, such as A Good Marriage, with the same themes & strong female characters. Yeah, I think I need to revisit Dolores Claiborne as I’d probably appreciate it more at my age now.

I obviously liked Gerald’s Game a lot. Is it perfect? I suppose it has its flaws plus I think the somewhat jarring ending, if you haven’t read the story, may not work for everyone as it sort of seems to be from out of left field. It probably worked better in the book (I think it’s difficult to put some of the weirder aspects of King’s stories on screen). Or maybe it didn’t work better in the book – it seems to be a contentious ending from what I read online. Either way, all the inner torment leading up to the finale was done perfectly by Flanagan & by Gugino. I must say that this is a King story I never really expected to be adapted and am pretty amazed that such a good film has come out of it. I’m not entirely sure how non-King fans would feel about it & I admit that I may be rating it slightly too highly since I’m a huge King fan. But good King movies make me so happy! Oh, and for the faint-hearted: prepare yourself for one big gross-out moment. Yiiiiikes. And I knew it was coming! But don’t let that scare you off – It’s just one small moment that’s part of a strong psychological horror movie that delves into some disturbing themes.

My Rating: 8/10

Wonder Woman (2017) Review

Wonder Woman (2017)

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Based on Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

My Opinion:

I always struggle to write reviews of superhero movies as I don’t read comics & have zero knowledge of anything superhero-related beyond what I’ve seen in all the mainstream Hollywood films. I’ve watched the majority of them but I don’t obsess over them & I’m not some superfan of superheroes. They’re fun entertainment but I see them as popcorn movies. I’ve grown especially tired of the dark and dreary, too-serious types the last several years. Batman V Superman, which I watched last week in preparation for Wonder Woman, was beyond bad. I knew the reviews weren’t good, but… Wow! I still didn’t expect it to suck as much as it did.


I admit to preferring lighthearted superhero films to the serious ones (I love Guardians Of The Galaxy 1 & 2) but do enjoy the balance that current Marvel films seem to manage with serious stories that still have a sense of humor and fun to them. Wonder Woman is finally a DC film with the right balance. There was plenty of kick-ass action as well as funny moments, there were several strong characters who worked really well together, there’s a positive overall message, and Gadot is perfection. Oh! And I had fun watching it. That’s the way it should be.

I don’t want to get into the whole “sexism” debate & female-only screenings of Wonder Woman & some jerk claiming the director was only hired because she’s female & how some have said that maybe the good reviews are just because people are too scared to talk bad about the first true female superhero movie & blah blah BLAH. Who cares?! Why are people so hung up on this? A good movie is a good movie. And this is a really good movie. This is a far better movie than the majority of superhero films in recent years. And, yeah, its star happens to be a woman. Yay! It’s 2017 – it’s about f*^king time. She kicks ass as well as all the male superheroes. And she sure as shit out-acts some of them (I’m looking at those in Batman V Superman & Suicide Squad, although I’m aware that weak scripts & directing will often result in bad performances so the actors may not be 100% to blame).

I’ve not seen Gal Gadot in anything else besides BvS & wasn’t sure what to expect but she’s truly fantastic and I’m not saying that “just because I’m a woman”. I can’t fault her performance in any way. Heck, I even didn’t mind Chris Pine and he sometimes slightly gets on my nerves. I’d have preferred someone unknown in his role but he did a good job with a really likable character. There are several “sidekicks” during the WWI segment that I really enjoyed and I of course loved all the Amazon women and watching a kick-ass Buttercup train Wonder Woman for battle (Robin Wright, as Gadot’s aunt, was another very big highlight of the film).

I’ll wrap this up before I just ramble on for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed Wonder Woman. Is it perfect? No, it has some flaws. It’s definitely a little too long, especially in the middle during the WWI stuff. Other than that, though, I can’t really think of anything much more negative to say. It turns into a pretty typical superhero vs baddie showdown at the end but that’s what we want from these movies. And it’s a great showdown! Plus, with it being a female superhero doing the fighting, it did feel somewhat original this time.

Oh, I guess the only other slight negative is that I’m not sure this version of Wonder Woman will quite connect with young girls as the movie is aimed at a slightly older audience. I took my 8-year-old to it and she liked it & definitely liked the character but I do know she was a bit bored throughout the middle war segment. However, I don’t think it’s too big of a deal as I think it’s a film that young fans will grow into & like even more as they get a bit older. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for young kids (a couple “procreation” jokes will go right over their heads) – younger audiences will just lose interest a bit during certain parts of this 2 hour 21 minute film. Most importantly, though, this is a female character I’m very happy for my daughter to be seeing in a movie. Wonder Woman is strong & independent with values & beliefs she’s willing to fight for. It feels really good to know that the girls of this generation are starting to get more & more positive female role models in films but I do also hope that we can eventually stop focusing so much on gender and just enjoy a movie because it’s good or an actress because she happens to be really great in a role. There’s absolutely no reason to not take your sons to this film as well as your daughters. Surely any boy will want to see one of the best superhero films of recent years.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh! And I love Wonder Woman’s theme… 🙂

Million Dollar Baby (2004) IMDB Top 250 Review

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 87 today. This time last year, I did a week of Clint Eastwood reviews (you can see My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE, updated to now include Million Dollar Baby).

I still wouldn’t exactly call Eastwood a favorite actor of mine but I’m glad that I finally explored some of his biggest films last year as I liked them a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Million Dollar Baby was still a big omission, however, so I’m glad I’ve finally watched that now as well. And, again, I like another Eastwood movie far more than I was expecting to! And, of course, the awesome Morgan Freeman is in it as well (who I would call a favorite actor & whose birthday is tomorrow – guess what Top Ten List I’ll be doing tomorrow…). 😉 Okay – I’ll shut up & review the movie now.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Based on Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anthony Mackie, Margo Martindale, Riki Lindhome, Michael Peña, Benito Martinez, Grant L. Roberts

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 172 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

My Opinion:

I avoided watching this film for years. I was like “It’s a boxing drama? Pass!”. (Kind of funny that I’ve just watched Rocky for the very first time the same week that I watched this. But I digress). Mainly, though, I avoided this because, when it came out, some annoying assholes decided to spoil the whole damn plot. So I’ve always known exactly how this ends. And that pisses me off. I know it’s not always possible to avoid spoilers but, in the case of this film, there was an uproar since what happens went against the beliefs of some people and they felt the need to warn the public (or something like that) before the film had even been fully released (if I remember correctly). Annoying.

Anyway! This is a great film. I expected to possibly find it contrived (films that try too hard to pull on the heartstrings & just come across as phony piss me off as much as people who spoil films). I expected to not be affected by this film since I knew the whole damn plot already. But it’s a good, heartfelt drama that came across as quite genuine and had fantastic actors playing likeable characters you wanted to see succeed. I sure as shit can’t say I exactly “enjoyed” it (holy hell! I don’t do well with serious dramas). But it’s not the overhyped Oscar bait I had kind of feared it might be.

Come to think of it, I guess this means I should also update My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners list at some point with both this & Rocky. That list includes all 50(ish) Best Pictures that I’ve seen and I have to say that both these damn boxing dramas potentially break into my top ten. Easily top 20 for sure. I’ll have to think about it some more! They’re certainly my favorite boxing movies (Raging Bull didn’t thrill me…). 😉

It’s a shame that Hilary Swank kind of disappeared into bad movie obscurity after this & Boys Don’t Cry (a movie that manages to be even more depressing than this one). Clearly these sort of heart wrenching dramas did suit her but you can’t blame her for trying other things – Starring in nothing but these sort of films would probably mess with your head eventually. I really liked her character in this. Her enthusiasm and single-minded determination are infectious in the same sort of way that made us all like Rocky Balboa and to want him to succeed.

Swank & Eastwood make a great team and their relationship by the end of the film is beautiful & heartbreaking. Million Dollar Baby probably gets somewhat ignored compared to Eastwood’s full-on “guy” movies & bromances but, as great as I think he was in dude movies with the likes of Lee Van Cleef, his mentor/protégée and ultimately father/daughter-like relationship here is a welcome change (and just as good & valid as the bromances). Swank & Eastwood make this film.

But there’s still some male camaraderie for anyone needing that as well. Freeman plays Eastwood’s ex-boxer friend (and… co-owner? or maybe just a trainer living in the gym Eastwood owns. feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I love Freeman and he’s as great as always and another reason why I ended up liking this film much more than I’d been expecting. There’s a story on the side involving skinny little Jay Baruchel wanting to be a boxer & Freeman taking him under his wing. I really liked this story as well (plus that cool confrontation involving Freeman & one of the young boxers). The main story involving Swank is of course the most important but it was good to get a bit more to the movie besides just that.

I just have to end by saying: Oh man – I hated the f*%k out of Swank’s family in this! Which made her character all the more likeable. To put a horrible upbringing behind her & to try to live her dream is the uplifting sort of message people look for in a good story. Which is another reason why I think some people were probably angered by the ending of this film. What IS the ultimate message at the end? But life isn’t always fair & a Hollywood ending in real life is rare. I do watch movies for escapism and do prefer a happy ending but I also can’t get angry at a movie telling a story in a realistic way. I think some people felt cheated by this film. I think we were given a good film with powerful performances & a message of determination and friendship. It’s not an easy watch but it’s a good film I’m glad to have finally seen.

My Rating: 8/10

Ghost In The Shell (1995) Blind Spot Review

Ghost In The Shell (1995)
攻殻機動隊
Gōsuto in za sheru / Kōkaku kidōtai (Ghost in the Shell / Mobile Armored Riot Police)

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

Based on Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow

Starring Voice Actors: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi

Running time: 82 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ghost in the Shell follows the hunt of the public security agency Section 9 for a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. With the assistance of her team, Motoko Kusanagi tracks and finds their suspect, only to be drawn into a complex sequence of political intrigue and a cover-up as to the identity and goals of the Puppet Master.

My Opinion:

So this was an “alternate” Blind Spot choice of mine (I guess I need to kick one of the main ones off the list now). I decided to watch this because a) the live-action American remake was out recently and b) I noticed the running time of only 82 minutes! Okay – the running time was the biggest reason. Why are so many “worthy” films at least 2.5 hours long? I’m too busy!

I’m glad I did finally get around to watching this. I really enjoyed it. I do want to see the Scarlett Johansson one at some point too just to see how they recreated certain scenes but know that it will of course pale greatly in comparison to the original. I’d be interested to hear from those of you who’ve seen both and from fans of the original.


I’m not going to write a lot about this film as I don’t have much knowledge when it comes to Japanese anime (other than my beloved Studio Ghibli). It’s a genre I’m becoming more & more interested in and want to explore by at least watching some of the most well known stuff. I watched Akira as a Blind Spot choice last year (I decided to dive in at the deep end!). Akira isn’t quite like anything I’d seen before and I loved it (it was my favorite of my twelve 2016 Blind Spot films).

I think Ghost In The Shell is fantastic too and I can understand why it’s so popular but, unfortunately, I wasn’t as blown away as I was with Akira. I think a lot of that is probably thanks to me seeing things like The Matrix and even Ex Machina before seeing Ghost, meaning that Ghost feels almost dated now even though it came beforehand and clearly had a big influence on a lot of later films.

Okay – I don’t think “dated” is at all the right word to use… The animation is beautiful and the story is probably even more relevant now than in 1995. I think anyone who enjoys this type of science fiction would definitely like this film if they haven’t seen it. I suppose it’s just that the themes in Ghost In The Shell have been explored in loads of entertainment over the years (and especially in the years that followed its release), meaning that it doesn’t feel quite as original in 2017 as it will have 22 years ago. But it’s still a damn good science fiction anime & worthy of its status as a classic in this genre. There’s a lot of iconic imagery & an amazing musical montage (I’ve included a clip of this below). I’m happy to say that Ghost In The Shell was well worth my time & a worthy addition to my list of Blind Spot movies.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh, and I love this Mondo poster created by artist Martin Ansin

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Review

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Directed & Written by James Gunn

Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Kurt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

My Opinion:

I was so unbelievably excited for this sequel. I absolutely loved the first Guardians Of The Galaxy (review HERE). I think, having become pretty sick of superhero movies doing the SAME DAMN THINGS OVER & OVER AGAIN these past several years, I really bought into these characters & this universe as it finally felt like we were getting a slightly different sort of superhero movie. I prefer lighthearted humor in my superhero movies to the dreariness of things like Nolan’s Batman trilogy (those films, other than Ledger’s performance, have really started to go down in my estimation). I guess I’ve just never taken these sort of movies seriously so, for me, one with a sense of humor works better. Plus, of course, the soundtrack was indeed awesome! An awesome soundtrack will always make me like a movie even more. And… Groot. GROOT! I love Groot. Who doesn’t love Groot?

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is, exactly as I was hoping & expecting, loads of fun but not as good as the first film. Which is fine as it’s hard to top that first film. I always enjoy the introduction of new characters and seeing them get to know each other, which was especially great in the first film and obviously missing from this one. We get to see our main characters’ relationships with each other develop a little more but not quite as much as I’d hoped. But, hey – you know there’ll be another one of these films (and I’ll happily be watching it) so hopefully we’ll get even more character development in the next film. I can’t really say we learned much more about these characters than we did the first time around.

I’ll say that, for this sequel, they’ve upped the humor even more. Maybe they felt the need to after Deadpool? I’m certainly not complaining – I’m loving this “funny superhero movie” thing. Between this and The LEGO Batman Movie and that great trailer for the next Thor film, I’m starting to actually enjoy these superhero movies again instead of almost finding them a chore to sit through. For example: I didn’t even bother with Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad but hubby probably wants to see Wonder Woman and I suppose that means I should catch up on those I’ve missed, but…. Meh! Sounds like way too much work. If that’s the way I feel about having to watch a movie, being a movie-obsessed blogger, they’re clearly doing something wrong with those films. Right? The Guardians films aren’t a chore. They’re fun and I actually enjoy them. That’s the way it should be.

If you loved the first film, you’ll definitely like this one too. If you don’t love the sense of humor thing but want to watch a superhero movie, I’d say there’s still plenty here that you’ll like. The story is… Okay. As far as superhero stories go, it’s pretty standard stuff (to be honest, I hardly ever fully remember the stories in superhero films). But it’s the main characters who really make these two films and they again don’t disappoint. People my age are also gonna love the involvement of a couple of big actors in this one (I actually have no clue if this has been kept under wraps so I’ll say no more other than that I felt a little funny seeing someone again at first. In a good way… 😉 ). There’s also enough serious stuff going on to balance out the humor so that this feels like a Marvel film and doesn’t go full-on silly like some cheesy Eighties flick. It’s probably quite a hard balance to achieve and I think these films stay on the right side of the line. I love these characters and I don’t think we’d care about them as much as we do if the movies were too silly.


Yes, I really enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. As expected, it’s not as good as the first but it’s still a worthy sequel that will keep fans happy and wanting more. And it’s a hell of a lot more fun than most superhero films these days. Give me Groot over moody Batman! Speaking of Groot, I’ll finish with him and with the soundtrack as these are the two things that really make me adore these movies.

If you don’t like Baby Groot, you aren’t going to like this movie (or me, since we can’t be friends if you don’t like Baby Groot). 😉 They clearly knew they were on to a winner with this character and his adorable cuteness is used to full effect. As my hubby asked afterwards, did they rely on him a little too much in this film? Hmm. Probably. But I loved each & every Baby Groot scene. You can’t have too much of a good thing! But if you prefer moody Batman, you probably don’t love these films or Baby Groot anyway. I’m sure Guardians fans will love the excessive Groot cuteness as much as I did. As for the soundtrack: Once again, it was pretty awesome. But definitely not as awesome as the first one. Damn! I avoided looking at the tracklisting beforehand as I wanted all the songs to be a surprise. Maybe it was less impressive since it wasn’t as unexpected the second time around? Still, though, there are some great songs and it’s a lot better than 99% of movie soundtracks these days so I’m just being overly picky because I love the first film. But I’m happy with this sequel and am already looking forward to seeing these characters in more films.

My Rating: 8/10

Is there a scene after the credits?: Hahaha! It’s a Marvel film! Do I really need to answer this? 😉 Okay… No. There isn’t one. There’s… Four? I think it was four. I lost count. And, yes, they are SO worth staying for. Especially two of them. There are scenes throughout the credits plus one after the credits. So hold your pee as one of the two best is that very final one.

Stan Lee cameo: Hubby loved it and said it was probably the best one yet. He knows a lot more about this Marvel stuff than I do but I’m pretty sure you can read about it if you want to as I’ve already seen lots of people talking about this one. 🙂