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… 🙂

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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. 🙂

Jackie Brown (1997) Blind Spot Review 

Happy Birthday to Quentin Tarantino, who is 54 today. I figured this would be a good time to finally review my 2017 Blind Spot choice of Jackie Brown. And tomorrow I’ll be reviewing The Hateful Eight, which I’ve finally just watched as well. At least I liked one of these two movies! Here’s my review for Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Based on Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to finally watching Jackie Brown, the only Tarantino-directed film I’d never watched (okay – not counting that Four Rooms movie or his guest director credit on Sin City, which isn’t a movie that I liked anyway).

Jackie Brown is an odd one in that I’m of course used to Tarantino’s style now & this one has a very different feel to it. I suppose the main reason for this is that the film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch instead of a Tarantino original story like his other films. I think this works in the film’s favor but I’d also hazard a guess that it isn’t the number one favorite film for most diehard Tarantino fans.

I’ll be honest – I think someone needs to rein Tarantino in a bit. Not long after watching Jackie Brown I watched the overblown The Hateful Eight and it definitely made me appreciate Brown much more. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Jackie Brown. It’s a good but uneven film and, although I confess that I know nothing about the book and have never read anything by Elmore Leonard in my life, it feels pretty obvious which bits were probably embellished by Tarantino. There’s a welcome subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown that’s especially missing in Tarantino’s most current films. Don’t get me wrong – I like his movies and know they’re going to be over the top (Kill Bill being my favorite, which is OTT to the extreme, but in a good way). But…. What am I trying to say? I don’t know. I think Tarantino is just another director who has come to believe his own hype a bit too much & he needs to take a step back and focus on the great writing that made his older films like Reservoir Dogs such a success. Okay – I’m focusing too much on not liking The Hateful Eight. More about that one tomorrow but I can’t help but compare since I watched these two almost back to back & they’re so very different.

I loved the overall mood of Jackie Brown, which was of course helped once again by the use of a truly fantastic soundtrack. If there’s one thing that Tarantino always does right, it’s picking the music for his films. I loved this soundtrack so much. Best music (as in, songs as opposed to score) that I’ve heard in a film in a long time! Remember when movie soundtracks used to be good like this?? Sorry to go on about this so much but it’s not something that is done as well in films nowadays. When I think back to my teen years, I bought loads of movie (song) soundtracks. There were so many good ones then. What the hell happened? The music in a movie is very important to me as I think it plays such an integral part in creating a film’s mood. I keep saying “song” to differentiate as I’m actually more of a lover of original film scores than of “song” soundtracks usually but, when a movie puts together a lot of previously recorded music as perfectly as Jackie Brown does, it makes me happy. Hey – at least I have to give credit to Tarantino for getting Ennio Morricone to score The Hateful Eight. I worship people like Morricone & John Williams the way that most people worship the pretty celebrities who are in front of the cameras. Maybe I’m weird?! And, shit – I’m talking about The Hateful Eight again. Sorry.

As I said, there’s a subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown unlike in Tarantino’s more recent works and it’s these understated scenes that were easily my favorite bits of this movie. Pam Grier & Robert Forster were brilliant and I was happiest when the movie went back to the scenes involving their characters. Loved their chemistry! I totally wanted a love story there (if you’ve not seen it, I won’t say if this happens or not).

There are bigger name stars in this one (Robert De Niro and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson) but the scenes involving them were the ones that I felt had a little too much of that “Tarantino vibe” going on. Who the hell doesn’t love Samuel L. Jackson, right? He’s awesome. But he’s his usual “Tarantino-self” in this and, for once, I enjoyed having those Grier & Forster scenes involving more than just Tarantino/Jackson sweary banter and extreme violence.

Speaking of extreme violence, this is the least violent Tarantino movie (well, maybe that Four Rooms thing isn’t violent?). I think it’s the first of his films that I was able to watch with my eyes fully open the entire time! I mean, it’s of course plenty violent but it’s not explicitly shown. I’m a wuss. I prefer to not see full-on gore. Yet Kill Bill is my favorite so I suppose that makes no sense… Eh, I just love a good revenge story (and women who kick ass). And I have yet to watch all of Kill Bill with my eyes fully open. I guess, looking at it that way, Jackie Brown is the first & only Tarantino movie that I’ve actually seen. 😉 And I appreciated that.


Perhaps Tarantino should try adapting someone else’s work again sometime. I do like his style and I didn’t mind Jackie Brown having that Tarantino stamp on it but I also liked the way in which adapting someone else’s work meant he kind of managed to keep the story more on track & to not go so medieval on our asses. Again, I think Jackie Brown is also unfortunately somewhat uneven because of this and it’s certainly not a perfect film but I do think it’s better than several of Tarantino’s other films (yet I don’t think it’s widely accepted as so?). I did a post a very long time ago ranking the Tarantino films I’ve seen, which I’ve finally updated HERE. Have a look if you really want to see where I’ve placed Jackie Brown (although you can probably guess where The Hateful Eight ranks!).

Jackie Brown is a good film. It probably deserves more credit than it gets and I’m glad to have added it to my Blind Spot list as it was well worth finally watching. Grier & Forster are the true stars who make this film and it’s unfortunate that they’re somewhat overshadowed by “more famous” names being in the movie as well. I have a confession: I seriously don’t know Robert Forster. I know his face but never could have told you his name and had to look him up after watching this. He’s been in 177 things!!! And I watch loads of movies & know my actors. Is he one of these actors who flies under the radar & won’t get any proper recognition until he’s gone? Or have I just seriously overlooked him for years? He’s so damn good in this & I’m happy to see that he got an Oscar nomination for this role. But… Where the f*^k is Pam Grier’s nomination?!? What the f*^k, you m*^herf*^king Academy?!? I’m going to go Samuel L. Jackson on your asses! She’s great. She’s super sexy at fortysomething. I want her & Forster’s characters to live happily ever after (maybe they do? I’m not saying). I’m going to go listen to that Delfonics song now…

My Rating: 8/10

Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – The Delfonics:

And here’s the opening of Jackie Brown, with Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street. God I love this soundtrack. Can I just post YouTube videos of the whole soundtrack??:

Who Is He (And What Is He To You?) – Bill Withers:

And this one is bizarre. I like it! Good job, Tarantino. I’ll stop posting videos now. I need to buy this soundtrack… The Lions And The Cucumber – The Vampire Sound Incorporation:

Wait. Gotta end with Pam Grier! Long Time Woman – Pam Grier:

Shit. I didn’t post Strawberry Letter 23. Or Street Life… (This is a good soundtrack. Watch the movie. Listen to the songs). 🙂

Watership Down (1978) Blind Spot Review

Watership Down (1978)

Directed by Martin Rosen & John Hubley

Based on Watership Down by Richard Adams

Starring: John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, Roy Kinnear, Simon Cadell, Harry Andrews, Zero Mostel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.

My Opinion:

This is my second Blind Spot movie of 2017 after watching & reviewing The Hustler in January. I’ve never read the Watership Down book by Richard Adams and have managed to avoid spoilers for years. I’d only ever heard that the movie is “sad” so I will of course avoid giving any major spoilers in this review.

I’m still not quite sure what to think of this film. I watched it over a month ago & it goes up in my estimation the more I think about it. It was very good & I liked it but know it’s one that would grow on me after multiple watches. I have to say that I wish I’d grown up with it as that would make me appreciate it in a different sort of way. I also very much want to read the book now as I think it would make more sense of the story (I was extremely tired the night I watched this. As usual). I want the kid to read more classics so I have a feeling she’ll be getting this book as a gift from mommy so we can read it together when she’s older. It’ll prepare her for the movie, which I wouldn’t allow her to watch yet. Yes, this film is indeed extremely violent for an animated “family” film. I’ll come back to that topic in a bit…

Watership Down is very different from modern-day animated films. I mean that in a good way, though. It has the soul & bravery that a lot of classic kids’ stories had in the 1970s but which have been sucked out of the sanitized & meaningless “Happy Meal toy seller” movies pumped out by Hollywood nowadays. To quote two bits of trivia at IMDB, Watership Down is “considered to be the most violent animated PG-rated film ever made.” Also, “The British Board of Film Classification is still receiving complaints about this film after it was made almost 40 years ago.

It’s funny to think that, although I didn’t see this as a kid, I’d have probably seen it by the age of six or seven and my parents would’ve thought nothing of it whereas no one would let a kid that age watch this film now. I just find it amusing what people protect their kids from nowadays. They’ll shield them from an allegorical classic such as this but will think nothing of letting them have unmonitored Internet & social media access. They’ll think nothing of letting them do so many things that are far more psychologically damaging than watching Watership Down. Don’t worry – I’m not getting on my soapbox since, even though I know I’d have seen this by the time I was my kid’s age if I’d had the opportunity, there’s no WAY I’d let her watch this! Lol. 😉 Not yet. I’ll check out the book first as that seems like the better introduction but, to give a slight spoiler warning, this movie goes full-on “Bunny Road House at the end! I expected a polar bear to fall on someone. I expected Sam Elliott (stud) to show up & help guide the bunnies to safety. Be nice until it’s time to not be nice, little bunnies!

I often say “I’m now interested in reading the book” after watching a movie that I liked but I rarely do it as I don’t like doing it that way around (I try to always read the book before the movie adaptation if it’s something that interests me). I mean it this time, however. It strikes me as one that will go far deeper in the book as the rabbits have their entirely own culture, belief system, language, etc. The movie touches on this very well and I loved the look and animation style used at the start of the film to help explain their culture but would assume, as is usually the case, that the book will explain even more. The story being an allegory of many things, but mainly humanity in general, I’d like to read the book to more easily draw the parallels.

Finally, for those interested in the book or movie, I’ll say that it follows the classic Joseph Campbell “hero’s journey” sort of theme, which always makes for a great story. The epic journey and mythological themes also reminded me of just how much I loved The Warriors. Yes, that’s right! I did indeed just compare Watership Down to The Warriors & Road House. That’s a massive compliment because those movies are awesome. Okay – I’ve talked myself into it now: I really really liked Watership Down. It’s a fantastically epic allegorical journey worthy of its “classic” status. And Road House Bunny Warriors kick ass.

To end this review, I thought I better make mention of the book’s author (Richard Adams) and the voice our main character Hazel (brilliantly done by John Hurt). Both sadly passed away very recently and it’s just a coincidence that I chose this as a Blind Spot movie as I’d been wanting to see it for years. So, in their honor, I’m happy to say that Watership Down is a wonderful story and I’m very glad to have added another John Hurt classic to my recent list of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies (a list which is still sadly missing a few big films I have yet to see). I’ve now updated that list & Watership Down is very high (ain’t nothing gonna beat Alien, though! EVER). I hadn’t realized just how many voices Hurt had done for animated films and, based on how great he was in this, I’m now moving Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord Of The Rings (in which he voices Aragorn) much further up my “To Watch” list. So far, I’m very happy with my 2017 Blind Spot choices.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s Art Garfunkel doing the Bright Eyes song from Watership Down. The song is actually only very briefly featured in the film – I expected to hear the whole thing…

**FYI: Netflix & the BBC are making a new Watership Down mini-series with a pretty impressive cast (James McAvoy, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kingsley, and Gemma Arterton to name a few). This will apparently air sometime this year. I can’t find more current information on it but you can read an old article about it HERE at Variety.com. Will be interesting to see but I’ll read the book first. I’m sure this version will be a watered-down Watership Down… 

Oh, I actually managed to go to a movie over the weekend! And it was almost as violent as Watership Down. See you tomorrow with my review of John Wick: Chapter 2. 

Sicario (2015) Review

Sicario (2015)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Daniel Kaluuya, Maximiliano Hernández, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan, Raoul Trujillo, Julio Cedillo, Hank Rogerson, Bernardo Saracino

Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Cinematography by Roger Deakins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about a principled FBI agent who is enlisted by a government task force to bring down the leader of a powerful and brutal Mexican drug cartel.

My Opinion:

Ohhh… This movie was GOOD. And to think I wasn’t even necessarily planning on ever watching it! I never really like the crime drama type of genre so, no, this will never exactly be a personal favorite film of mine whereas I LOVE Villeneuve’s Arrival (It’s my favorite genre – So glad he’s going in a sci-fi direction with his movie choices now!!!). But it’s a damn good film even if it’s not usually my sort of thing.

It wasn’t until loving Arrival that I started taking a bit more notice of Villeneuve’s work. It’s why I finally decided to watch Sicario last month (my girl crush on Emily Blunt helped too). I’d already seen a couple of his films and I thought they were pretty good and beautifully filmed but they weren’t really my type of thing either. Wait – I take that back… Enemy was totally my type of thing. I wanted to like that one more than I did. I did appreciate it and think I’d like it more on a re-watch but it was a very slow film & it took a while to get into it. I preferred it to Prisoners, however, but that’s again probably due to me not liking the crime genre. I now really want his Incendies to be one of the next films that I watch for my IMDB Top 250 Project (it’s at #146). With his current popularity I’m hoping it’ll pop up on Netflix or something.

So! Here we are with Sicario – easily my second favorite Villeneuve film I’ve seen so far. I know nothing about filmmaking but this film was beautiful. Those shots of the landscape! It’s a shame that I saw this one on a TV instead of in the cinema. The cinematography & the score created such a rich atmosphere. This combination almost gave me the same sort of feeling as I had while watching Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western epics (I liked the Dollars Trilogy & Once Upon A Time In The West WAY more than I ever expected to, especially having no prior Western movie experience).

I can definitely say that I intend to watch everything made by Villeneuve from now on. This is what I like: Movies that feel like true art. It feels like we don’t get enough “epics” nowadays. And they don’t all have to be artsy fartsy – I’d call Mad Max: Fury Road epic & it’ll still be loved & respected years from now. I blame the general public for the lack of very few all-time great films now, though, not the filmmakers. The majority of people wouldn’t have the patience for a Leone film now – they’d rather go to the next Fifty Shades movie. The next Fast & Furious film will make more money than most of the Best Picture nominees put together (Maybe. I dunno. I’m pulling that statistic out of my ass). Sicario isn’t quite up there with the Leone films but it’s getting close. Arrival is at that level (for me, at least). Both Sicario & Arrival will be seen as all-time classics 20 years from now, which can’t be said of many current films. But the Leone films didn’t really get any respect until years later, right? I think these two Villeneuve films, though respected by the filmmaking community right now, will get more recognition in the future. Arrival won’t win Best Picture and, years from now, people will be all “Why didn’t Arrival win Best Picture that year?!”. Oh well – The Academy never gets it right anymore.

I’m rambling, as usual, so I’ll wrap this up by saying a bit more than “This film is pretty & has a great mood!”. I’m one of those weirdos who cares more about a movie’s director than its stars. If the director is awesome and the story is good, the actors probably won’t f*^k up the film. I mean, I suppose a good director isn’t going to let crappy actors be in their film anyway. However, some credit has to be given to the actors in Sicario. Emily Blunt & Benicio del Toro are especially strong in bringing these characters to life.

Blunt, who kicked ass in Edge Of Tomorrow, again plays a great “tough chick” with a believable vulnerability. Her character isn’t perfect, she doesn’t make all the right decisions, she’s not a machine, she does have emotions, but she stays true to her beliefs to the very end. This is actually a very similar character, belief-wise, to the one in Edge Of Tomorrow and I think Blunt plays these “strong yet vulnerable” roles perfectly. Can we have more roles like these for women, please??? Thank you, Villeneuve, for these strong & believable female roles (Btw – I’ll say it again – Amy Adams was ROBBED of an Oscar nomination for Arrival! Grr).

Benicio del Toro also gives his best performance since the dog-faced boy in Big Top Pee-wee (he must get so sick of people saying that). Seriously, though – I’ve always known he was a good actor but I’ve not paid much attention to him. He’s fantastic in this, especially at the end. He kind of blew me away. He plays this thoroughly complex character with such chilling subtlety. Josh Brolin & Daniel Kaluuya also do brilliantly in supporting roles and I loved how the film captured the strong bonds and sense of extreme loyalty between FBI partners.

Sicario’s slow & deliberate build-up of tension and the reveal of character motivations made for one of the most intense final acts I’ve seen in a while. I admit that it took me a while to get into the film as it’s a topic I certainly can’t relate to and a genre I don’t often choose to watch but it’s so well-made with such rich characters & performances and an ending that had me on the edge of my seat (well, couch). This is damn good filmmaking. I want more of this. Please let Blade Runner 2049 be at least this good!

My Rating: 8/10

**Speaking of the lovely Emily Blunt, it’s her 34th birthday tomorrow so I’ll be posting a list of My Top Ten Emily Blunt Movies. 🙂

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) Review

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Directed by Chris McKay

Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted.

My Opinion:

The LEGO Batman Movie is easily my favorite 2017 UK release so far! Well, okay – it’s only February and I’ve only seen three other movies (La La Land, T2 Trainspotting & Split). But I’m sure it’ll be in my top ten at the end of the year. It really cheered me up after a crappy day at work – it’s lots of fun and the humor is genuinely funny. And I mean an “all ages” funny – this is one of those movies I’m sure plenty of adults without kids are wanting to see as well. Go to it! You’ll like it no matter what your age, especially if you’re a superhero fan. Although you don’t really have to be a superhero fan, either – I’m a very mild one. In fact, I’m so superheroed-out that I went to, I think, only one of the superhero movies released last year. I didn’t go to that Batman/Superman thingy! I’m pretty sure The LEGO Batman Movie is superior to that anyway from what I’ve read.

I absolutely loved the first The Lego Movie, which I re-watched with the kid again this week. I thought that was one of the best family movies in recent times and it somehow actually manages to still go up slightly in my estimation anytime I see it. This LEGO Batman “sequel” follows a similar sort of hero’s journey narrative and delivers another great message in a thoroughly entertaining, funny, and non-preachy way. I still adore the message from the first film and, while this second film is much more obvious with its straightforward message and the story isn’t quite as “deep” or as uniquely told as in the first film, it’s still a wonderfully written film and so much better than the majority of mindless kids’ films that get made with only cheap laughs and cheap toys in mind. Crap like Trolls! What’s the message in that? Be happy no matter what! Tra la la, stupid happy songs, don’t think for yourself, don’t have emotions…

I also want to emphasize the “non-preachy” message thing, as I get so thoroughly annoyed by preachy kids’ films (I seem to have a very unpopular opinion on Zootopia but I sincerely felt that it rammed its message down our throats. Plus, the film was just boring so that didn’t help). These LEGO movies, like the Pixar films and most (not all) Disney films, get the perfect balance. It feels like the focus is first & foremost on telling a good and entertaining story, which ultimately does a better job in getting its point across anyway since any message it may have doesn’t feel forced.

I suppose I should end this review by actually talking about the movie in some way?? I don’t do that a lot anyway since I like to avoid spoilers and prefer to just discuss my feelings about a movie. What can I say? I thought the jokes in this were genuinely funny (almost as funny as in the first film). “Clever” funny. I’m very picky on comedy and like very few adult films in the comedy genre. Why is the best, most well-written comedy in films nowadays in these so-called kids’ movies? The LEGO movies (and everything made by my beloved Pixar) put all the immature, silly, live-action “adult” comedy to shame. Are adults idiots or something? Considering that our cinema screen was nearly empty when we went to see this while queues were going out the door for that new Fifty Shades movie, I’m thinking that must be the case.

I can’t help but compare this to the first LEGO movie, of course, but to say it’s not quite as good as that one isn’t really an insult as that’s a hard one to live up to. Batman himself is great but the rest of the characters are a bit weak in comparison. The focus is on Batman’s relationship with each of these people, though, and this is done really well. You gets loads of fun pop culture cameos (Gremlins & a Twilight Zone reference put a big goofy grin on my face) and I know there are plenty of superhero in-jokes that I’ll have missed but that hardcore fans will love. I saw so many “dads” alone with their kids at this one and I’m sure they loved it as much if not more than their kids. I like to pretend that those dads’ wives weren’t next door at Fifty Shades… This is why I don’t get along with many other women! Do any girl bloggers out there who prefer LEGO Batman to Fifty Shades want to be my friend??. 😉

The story itself is, well, a pretty standard superhero storyline. But better. I wish more live-action superhero movies were half as good as The LEGO Batman Movie. This film is more lighthearted and “fun” than the first one but it still has a fantastic message and put as big of a smile on my face as on my husband’s and, most importantly, our daughter’s. Well, maybe slightly bigger smiles on ours. But her generation of kids are gonna be great adults thanks to growing up on good movies like these and like those made by Pixar. This generation of kids are gonna save the world! They’re gonna be better adults than all the current idiot grown-ups! If we all live that long. Hmm. This review took a dark turn. Kind of like the death metal songs written by LEGO Batman.

My Rating: 8/10

The Hustler (1961) Blind Spot Review

Today would have been Paul Newman’s birthday, so I’m reviewing his film The Hustler for my Blind Spot 2017 Series as well as my IMDB Top 250 Project. Like many classics, this was in the Top 250 when I started the project on 01/01/13 but is currently not on the list.

Let’s see what I thought of The Hustler (as well as its 1986 sequel The Color Of Money, which I’m reviewing tomorrow)…

The Hustler (1961)

Directed by Robert Rossen

Based on The Hustler by Walter Tevis

Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine, Stefan Gierasch, Clifford Pellow, Jake LaMotta

IMDB Rank: 197 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Hustler tells the story of small-time pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson and his desire to break into the “major league” of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country; seeking to best the legendary pool player “Minnesota Fats.”

My Opinion:

Paul Newman was so damn hot. What a hunk. I lusted after him through this whole movie. It’s quite disappointing that it’s in black & white because I like seeing those baby blue eyes of his in color. But even in black & white, he’s still dreamy. *sigh*

The Hustler is very good and I can see why it’s a classic and it totally sucks that current films keep knocking old films such as this one out of the IMDB Top 250. I can sort of understand why, though, as I’m guilty myself of not exploring many movies that are pre-1970 or so but it does annoy me that most young people want to watch nothing but current stuff these days. Anyway, I enjoyed The Hustler and the acting is phenomenal, which I think it what makes this one such a classic. Surprisingly, though, it was Piper Laurie who stole the show. Wow. More about her later…

Newman was his usual self: Full of charm & charisma. He was such a great actor and one of only a handful over the years who I feel had that extra “something” that made him my definition of a true movie star. You know that “something” that’s hard to explain? I feel that “something” is missing from most artists nowadays (especially within the music industry – even more so than in film). I haven’t explored as much of Newman’s work as I’d like but I can now say that The Hustler is a must-see for anyone wanting to see him in his best roles. There’s more than just his usual charm & charisma here – he’s a lonely, complex character and the movie truly comes alive when he becomes involved with Piper Laurie’s similarly lost soul.

Newman is fantastic and it’s a shame he didn’t win the Oscar but Laurie is stunning. I’m glad, like Newman, that she also got a nomination but it’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten more recognition for this role. I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know she was in The Hustler! I’ll also be totally honest & admit that I’ve never really known her as anything other than Margaret White in Carrie. I LOVE her in Carrie (she easily topped my list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies). Who knew she could play a disturbed character with such sympathetic subtlety in The Hustler just as well as she did full-on batshit crazy in Carrie?? I love her in both roles but have a new respect for her – I’m very glad I got to see this performance.

Clearly the relationship between Newman & Laurie is what I latched onto and what made the movie for me but there are of course some other important characters and, yes – plenty of pool. The two really worth mentioning are Jackie Gleason as “Minnesota Fats”, a brilliant pool-playing rival to Newman, and George C. Scott as an evil, greedy bastard. Seriously – what a dick. I wanted to punch him in the face. Therefore, I guess he played his role well!

Summary:

The Hustler is worthy of its status as a classic and it’s a great way to kick off my choice of 2017 Blind Spot films. I admit, however, that it did drag for me at times in a way that older movies often do for those who have mostly watched post-1970 movies (like me). I have zero interest whatsoever in pool and, while this movie is not actually about pool and more about human interaction, there’s still plenty of pool. Some will of course love the actual pool scenes but the final game of pool is the only one that really matters and the one that fully held my attention. The movie is a little slow-going at first but the phenomenal performances from all involved, especially from Newman & Laurie, make the second half of the film intense & gripping. The Hustler is well worth your time if you have an interest in old Hollywood classics.

My Rating: 8/10

The Edge Of Seventeen (2016) Review

The Edge Of Seventeen (2016)

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.

My Opinion:

Yes! Another funny, well-written, smart “teen movie”. I reviewed The DUFF last week, which I really enjoyed despite my teen years being far far behind me, and commented that I hoped more teen movies would go in that direction as I do still enjoy a good one. Trust me – no matter how old you are you never forget high school. It’s a traumatic time! I think I’ll forever feel like it was only yesterday that I finally graduated & escaped that f*^king place.

So, yeah – I wasn’t exactly the Homecoming Queen and I could totally relate to Hailee Steinfeld’s self-loathing, angst-filled, neurotic nutjob in The Edge Of Seventeen. Hubby was like “I think she may be even more messed up than you!”. Hahaha! Nice. Funny. Seriously, though – I’d have been friends with this character as a teen. Okay, I lie – I WAS this character (but not as crazy – Holy shit, Steinfeld’s character is HIGH MAINTENANCE!).

For those who may get annoyed by phoney teen angst movies, don’t automatically avoid this one. This is teen angst done right. It has the right balance of humor & of more serious issues. Think a cross between The DUFF (pure comedy) and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic but a little too serious). The characters come across as genuine and I think it will speak to an audience of all ages from 15 or so & up. I do think certain teen films nowadays are written by people my age (like Perks), which is cool as it means people my age end up liking them but I’m not sure if they all work for actual modern teens. I think The Edge Of Seventeen avoids this problem. I can see a lot of friends my age liking this and, judging by the laughs & reactions of the much younger crowd in my cinema who made me feel very old, the younger generation seemed to be enjoying it a lot as well. I can find very little information on this film’s writer & director, Kelly Fremon Craig, but I’d hazard a guess that she’s written a bit of herself into these characters? I could be wrong but writing from experience often seems to make the most believable characters & she’s done an excellent job here. I’ll happily watch more of her work! Hopefully the positive buzz from this film is getting her noticed.

Just a quick FYI: the language & situations make this one not suitable for pre & early teens. It’s rated 15 in the UK and I think it’s rated R in the US?? Typical uptight America – R is too strict for this & means that 15 & 16 year-olds are missing out on a good movie. Maybe they should’ve added some guns & violence as opposed to swearing & sex talk, huh? Then it would be rated G in America! I’ve often thought the American rating system needs a rating in the middle, like a UK 15, which I think is the right sort of rating for this one. Sorry for the mini-rant… 😉 Back to the movie!

Besides Hailee Steinfeld’s darkly humorous unhappy teen, we have her parents and a very rocky relationship with her mother, her best friend who suddenly starts dating her attractive & popular brother who gets on her nerves, her crush, her teacher, and a boy who has a crush on her. They’re all great but the two stand-outs are Hayden Szeto as the adorably awkward boy with a crush on her and Woody Harrelson as the doesn’t-give-a-fuck teacher she confides in (probably due to seeing a bit of her own pessimistic attitude in him).

The chemistry between Steinfeld’s & Harrelson’s characters is great and I loved their complexity. There’s no sappy “teacher gives student meaningful life lesson” bullshit going on here. In fact, they speak quite horribly to each other & it’s hilarious. You can tell that, despite clearly thinking she’s a pain in the ass, Harrelson’s character also has a huge soft spot for this fucked-up kid. Both of these characters are two of the absolute best I’ve seen in a film this year and are why this shouldn’t be dismissed due to being a “teen movie”. Oh, and Hayden Szeto’s character with a crush on Steinfeld is probably the most likable character in a film this year. He’s hilariously, awkwardly adorable. Who is this guy?? He’s been in hardly anything! Put him in more movies! I’d have totally loved having a boy like him have a crush on me in high school. Damn you, Steinfeld – he’s a sweetheart. Date him! It’s like Molly Ringwald not wanting Jon Cryer in Pretty In Pink! Man, teenage girls are idiots sometimes. Anyway – Hayden Szeto, Woody Harrelson, and Hailee Steinfeld are all amazing in this but probably won’t get recognition due to the film being part of the teen genre.

Summary:

I’ve rambled on about this movie long enough. I’ve realized now that my saying this is something in between The DUFF & The Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t quite accurate. The Edge Of Seventeen is more like The Way Way Back with a girl instead of a boy as the central character & Harrelson filling the Sam Rockwell role in this one (their characters are quite different personality-wise but equally fantastic). I feel that teen movies get dismissed, especially if a girl is the central character, but this movie deserves recognition. If you liked The Way Way Back (I loved that one), you should like this one as well no matter what age or sex you are. Movies like these give me hope that maybe some modern teenagers will turn out alright after all & I appreciate filmmakers who credit them with some intelligence & don’t dumb their movies down for them. I still remember being a teen & I like to think I wasn’t a total idiot. And anyone who says they didn’t have a hard time in high school is a liar. Teen angst is real, people! I’m happy to say that The Edge Of Seventeen handles the angst in a realistic, humorous, and at times heartbreaking fashion.

My Rating: 8/10

You know I gotta end this with the brilliant Stevie Nicks song from my own teen years, which is not in this movie whatsoever. Wait – I wasn’t a teen yet when this was released… I just added several years onto my age there! Oops. Whatever. I love this song. 🙂

Moana (2016) Review

Moana (2016)

Directed by Ron Clements & John Musker

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.

My Opinion:

Yes! Moana is a really good film that I (and my daughter) thoroughly enjoyed. I have to say that the trailers really hadn’t blown me away so I was kind of worried this could end up being one of Disney’s rare duds. It’s not quite up there with some of Disney’s oldest classics & I think Frozen is better & more timeless but I’m happy to say that Moana is fully worthy of the Disney name. It’s certainly 1,000% better than some of the its late-90’s/early 2000’s stinkers! It’s great that Disney is making timeless classics once again. And I can add toddler Moana to my list of “animated kids I want to adopt” along with Boo from Monsters, Inc & Agnes from Despicable Me. What a cutie patootie!


So adorable that I had to include two pictures…

Speaking of Moana herself, she’s also a worthy addition to the Disney name. She’s strong-willed & has no interest in that whole “finding a prince” thing that annoys so many modern women about the older Disney films. However, she also doesn’t go over-the-top in the other direction, which annoys me in some of the more current animated films. Let’s face it – Brave’s Merida is a bit of a stroppy bitch! There’s nothing wrong with being strong-willed AND likable as well… Moana gets the right balance as a female lead character and I’d be happy to have my daughter look up to her.

Animated kids’ movies don’t solely rely on one good main character, though, and Moana is filled with the usual funny & lovable sidekicks we’ve all come to expect from Disney. I may be an adult but I loved that stupid chicken! Her pet pig was super cute, the “coconut” bad guys were adorably evil, her family (especially her kooky grandmother) were sweet, and the main “lava baddie” was actually quite frightening for a Disney villain (so this one isn’t really toddler-suitable, unlike a lot of other Disney movies. Just FYI – it’s nothing too scary, though). Yeah, sorry – I’m too lazy to look up all the proper names of these characters but I can guarantee you that I’ll know them once this is on DVD. 😉 I can tell my daughter will watch Moana multiple times (and I won’t even complain about that).

There are two other characters that need mentioning: the main one is sidekick Maui, the demigod voiced by Dwayne Johnson, and the other is the shiny crab villain dude voiced by Flight Of The Conchords/What We Do In The Shadows Jemaine Clement. I think most everyone will like Maui just fine – he’s charmingly cocky and makes a great duo with Moana. Plus, his “living tattoos” were quite amusing. I didn’t really expect to like his character as much as I did. Very predictable character arc, though!

However, the villain crab (Tamatoa – I looked that one up!) will be far more divisive. At first I kind of hated that character. Then I kind of loved that character. I think… I don’t know. I haven’t fully made my mind up on him yet. Guess I’ll know how I feel after 25 times of seeing Moana at home. Anyway, David Bowie is the clear inspiration for Tamatoa so I guess that’s why I’m conflicted as I’m such a big fan.

Summary:

Disney can be proud to add Moana to its resume (Or Curriculum Vitae in the UK. Yep – I totally had to look up that spelling). The animated scenes involving The Abyss-like ocean were beautiful, especially the one involving toddler Moana (Cutie patootie!  She’s much cuter than Ed Harris). I wish I could say that Moana was perfect – However, some of-the-moment jokes that will date and songs that aren’t as instantly memorable as some of the absolute classics in Disney’s history will keep this film from being quite as timeless as I’d have liked. Still, Moana helps keep Disney & Pixar a thousand miles ahead of anything made by other Western animation studios. Keep up the great work, Disney! We’ll just pretend things like Chicken Little didn’t happen.

My Rating: 8/10

Is there a scene after the credits? Yes, at the very end. Is it worth staying for? Hmm… Only if you’re one of those who HAS to see the end credits bits. Like me. It’s fairly funny but nothing too amazing if you really gotta pee. 

I’ll just say a very small bit about the short shown before Moana:

I’m sure a lot of people have called Inner Workings a rip off of Inside Out. Well, it sort of is but that’s not really fair as it’s quite a lovely short with a great moral about following your heart & living life to its fullest. I think it’s one of the better animated shorts I’ve seen in a while and I have to admit that I do love a good, non-preachy life-lesson. The Disney & Pixar shorts really know how to “tug at the heartstrings”! I far preferred this to Lava, which I didn’t like very much. I bring this up as it’s funny that Moana is quite reminiscent of Lava. Oh well – Inner Workings is pretty good. Better than Lava but still not as good as Feast (I loved that short!).

My Inner Workings Rating: 7.5/10

Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating the 100th birthday of Kirk Douglas by reviewing a lesser-known Brian De Palma film in which he starred…

Your Name (2016) Review

Your Name (2016)
Kimi no Na wa
Japanese: 君の名は

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Masami Nagasawa, Etsuko Ichihara, Ryo Narita, Aoi Yūki, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Kaito Ishikawa, Kanon Tani

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two high school kids who’ve never met – city boy Taki and country girl Mitsuha – are united through their dreams.

My Opinion:

I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli but haven’t explored a lot of anime beyond those. I’ll happily take some recommendations for good Japanese anime other than just the Ghiblis! I’ve watched Summer Wars as one of my 2016 Blind Spot choices and still plan to check out Akira. I like the sound of Wolf Children & of 5 Centimeters Per Second (also directed by Your Name’s Makoto Shinkai). Anyway, I’d heard a bit of hype about Your Name and it has a whopping 8.9/10 rating on IMDB so I jumped at the chance to go to a showing over the weekend. Did it live up to the hype? Well, it’ll never top my favorite Ghibli movies but it’s a great film & I can see why its director has been called the “The New Miyazaki“.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot as I think it’ll be better if you don’t know much beforehand. I’ll say it’s a “teenage love story” but the plot itself is much more complex than just that. I really enjoyed the setup, in which a teenage girl and boy who are unknown to each other & live far apart share an unexplained “supernatural” connection. Maybe I just really love the thought of that as I absolutely LOVED a little known Joss Whedon film called In Your Eyes (in which a man & woman share a telepathic bond). That story goes in a very different direction than Your Name does in the end but the two would make for a great double feature. I highly recommend both of these films, to male & female viewers alike. Don’t let the brief mention of a love story or teenagers put you off: I can tell you that the Your Name audience was very mixed: men, women, teenagers, and a few under 12s.

I do think Your Name will be equally loved by male & female viewers but it’s probably aimed at ages 12 & up. There’s nothing wildly inappropriate for the very young (no violence but one, hmm, “sexy” thing that’s used as a humorous gag throughout the movie) but the story will be hard to follow for anyone under 12. Not gonna lie – I got a little lost a couple of times (something keeps happening in the movie that you can easily lose track of if not paying close attention). I could do with watching this again sometime, which I’d happily do. Sorry to be so vague! I just really did enjoy this story & think it’ll be better for anyone wanting to see this to go into it fairly blind.

Admittedly, teenagers are probably the ones who will most be able to relate to & fall in love with the film’s characters. I can’t find many pictures online but there are plenty of other characters besides just the boy & girl. Their strange relationship is a lot of fun with more humor than I was expecting. We also get to know several of their best friends, who were well developed for fairly small roles and also provide some additional humor. Although fun & lighthearted at first, the film does get more serious about halfway through and this is when it really picks up and becomes something extra special & worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Studio Ghibli. It started out a little slow but I was hooked by the end.

I really like this film as an adult, as did my hubby, and know I’d have loved it as a teen so I can understand its popularity in Japan. I’ve heard it called this generation’s Spirited Away, which I think is a fair comparison but not exactly accurate… Your Name is far less strange than the beautifully bizarre worlds in Hayao Miyazaki’s Ghibli films. I personally prefer the Ghibli “weirdness” of the crazy characters and the unforgettable imagery. If you prefer something more modern and fairly conventional, though, Your Name may be a good place to start if you’re new to anime. This is a very good film that’s convinced me I really do need to explore more within this genre & I eagerly anticipate other films from the same director. Gorgeous animation, characters I cared about, and a fantastic story with the right balance of drama & humor easily makes Your Name one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen this year.

My Rating: 8/10

**I’m going to include the trailer to entice you just in case my (always beautifully written) meandering didn’t work. 😉 But I stand by what I said in that it would be better to not know much… Watch the trailer if you’ve not really seen any Japanese anime & need convincing! If you’re already a fan of the genre, skip the trailer.

Nocturnal Animals (2016) Review

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Directed by Tom Ford

Based on Tony and Susan by Austin Wright

Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

My Opinion:

Well! This movie was certainly… interesting? I love Amy Adams but sci-fi is my type of thing so Arrival is the only one I’d planned on going to see (it’s EXCELLENT, by the way – I’m posting my review tomorrow). Hubby saw Nocturnal Animals then was weirdly insistent on me seeing it too while being cryptic as to if it would actually be worth my time. Now I understand: This is one of those movies you want other people to see so you can talk about it & discuss your theories on the meaning of the symbolism and the different characters’ actions & intentions and, umm……. Okay – This is one of those movies you want other people to see so they can maybe tell you what the f*^k is going on. 😉

Was Nocturnal Animals worth my time? Yes. It’s easily in my top ten 2016 movie releases now & I’d be surprised if it’s not still there by December 31st. But it’s a difficult watch and I can’t exactly say I had a “fun time” watching it. I highly doubt I’ll ever watch it again and, quite frankly, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. It’s intensely disturbing and I was kind of glad when it finished. Am I selling this one to you yet?! Ha! I’m pretty sure I’ll never be asked to contribute a quote for a movie’s poster.

I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from seeing this. In fact, I very highly recommend it. However, I’d only recommend it to a small selection of people who I think would appreciate it, like several of my fellow movie bloggers who may be reading this. You just need to be warned of what you’re getting into if you watch Nocturnal Animals: I guarantee you’ll either love this or you’ll think it’s the most pretentiously boring piece of shit you’ve seen in a long time. There’s my movie poster quote for this!

I always say this but I turn to movies for escapism, which is probably why I go for sci-fi & fantasy and never for gritty realism. I don’t like the ugliness in this world so I don’t enjoy things like true crime dramas, serial killer movies, etc. I say that because this movie is partly “gritty crime drama”. Well, it is yet it isn’t… Just be warned that these parts of the film contain violence more extreme than I’d been expecting (hubby – you could’ve warned me, dude!). The gritty parts are necessary, though, as you start to realize the full meaning behind them so I managed to muddle through despite finding these scenes very uncomfortable.

I’ll try to stay as spoiler-free as possible with this review but I think it’s safe to say that this movie is a story within a story (the book written by the ex-husband of Amy Adams, which she reads throughout the movie). So we go back and forth between Adams & the story in the book which, on the surface, is nothing more than a standard pulpy crime drama. But it IS something much more than that & only Adams and her ex-husband (and hopefully the film’s audience) will be aware of that.

I often don’t go for the “story within a story” thing (er, unless it’s The Princess Bride… Best. Movie. Ever.) but I was completely engrossed every time the movie went back to the book’s crime drama story. Yes, the story feels like formulaic “pulp” (probably why the ex-husband, Jake Gyllenhaal, apparently never made it big as an author) yet it’s so intense & so brilliantly acted that you’re drawn into this story far more than the real-life story of Adams and her superficial art gallery world. But that’s the whole point: Unlike Adams’ real-life extravagant lifestyle, the book’s “fictional” world feels far more real & is full of a raw emotion that I’ve rarely seen captured so well on screen. Honestly, I found these scenes so profoundly & disturbingly moving that credit must be given to everyone involved in their making whether you like the movie or not. Though extremely upsetting, I found this film to be one of the most immersive movie experiences I’ve had since seeing Room, although the emotional effect was the exact opposite (Room filled me with pure joy).

As always, Adams is very good with an understated performance but it’s Gyllenhaal who really shines in what is actually the far more important role. I’ve never been a big fan of his and, though I’ve seen him in plenty of highly regarded roles, I think this is the film that has finally made me appreciate him as an actor. I also loved Michael Shannon in quite a small role as the sheriff in the book’s story. Again, he’s someone highly regarded yet I’ve paid him little attention so, for any of his fans reading this, this movie is worth you checking out just for his role. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the actual movie but he’s fantastic.

I know this is only fashion designer Tom Ford’s second film and I’ve not seen A Single Man but I definitely want to see more from him after this. I think there’s some true brilliance in this film that will unfortunately be too casually regarded as pretentious. I can totally understand why it would be labelled as such, though, as it initially appears that way with beautifully artistic shots & with rich art world snobs moaning about their superficial problems. But the movie itself is the same as book’s story within the film: On the surface it’s superficial & formulaic but deep down it’s an allegorical tale. Wait… The movie is an allegory of itself! No. Um… The book in the movie is an allegory of the real life story in the movie while the movie itself is an allegory of… Something! Maybe. I just like throwing the word “allegory” around. Trust me, there’s some crazy allegorical shit going on here. I’m sure of it!

Is the film itself as deep as its story within a story? I don’t know. My mind is still working on that but I like that I’m still thinking about this movie days after watching it. That’s what I consider true art and only a handful of movies play on my mind for days afterwards. Nocturnal Animals is definitely not for everyone but, if you’re someone who wants something more than just pure entertainment, you may be the type to find this movie an intensely rewarding experience. Or you may just be pretentious. 😉

My Rating: 8/10

**To all the pretentious snobs like me who’ve seen this movie, feel free to discuss it with me in the comments! Full-on spoilers allowed, so avoid reading the comments if you’ve not yet seen this – I think it’s not yet out in America? I want to talk about this one. I want to discuss the parallels in the movie’s story & movie book’s story. The meaning of some of the imagery. The overall meaning of the movie: is it deep like the film’s book or superficial like the film’s real-world. What was with all the naked butts?!? The real life book this is based on (as opposed to the book within the movie) – has anyone read it? Should I dye my hair the same color as Amy Adams in the hope that I’ll look exactly like her? Discuss! 🙂

The Girl With All The Gifts (2016) Review

The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

Directed by Colm McCarthy

Based on The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Sennia Nanua

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot depicts a dystopian future following a breakdown of society after most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection and focuses upon the struggle of a scientist, a teacher and two soldiers who embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’ll point out that we’re dealing with a lot of my favorite things when it comes to this movie: Post-apocalyptic, dystopian, an infection that turns people zombie-like… So this movie is totally my type of thing but I have to say that I thought it was really good & quite an original take on a genre I never would have expected to become as mainstream as it has nowadays. I liked zombie movies before they were cool, dammit. 😉 lol

This is from the book of the same name by M.R. Carey & it’s a rare occasion that I haven’t read a novel in this genre before seeing the movie. I really want to read it now (but I hate doing it that way around). Has anyone here read it? It’s had very good reviews. But I have to say that it was nice to watch a movie like this where for once I didn’t know much about it beforehand & had no idea what would happen. So that probably helped but I really did enjoy everything about this film. I liked the story, I really liked the ending (I often complain about horror movie endings), and I thought it had a great overall atmosphere & very interesting score.

The characters are also really good in this, which is always extremely important to me. I’d have liked a little more character development & to know more about their pasts (maybe there’s more in the book?) but the movie still did well with them for its running time & I cared about what would happen to everyone. That’s more than can be said for most modern horror films (like Don’t Breathe, which I’ll review next week – hateful characters in that!).

Glenn Close plays a scientist trying to create a cure for the infection & Paddy Considine plays a soldier. They’re both good & have big roles in this story but the main characters are Gemma Arterton as a teacher & fantastic newcomer Sennia Nanua as her favorite student, Melanie. These two have a great mother/daughter type of relationship that kind of made me think of Ellen Ripley & Newt in Aliens. Being the mother of a daughter, I always enjoy that maternal instinct thing in movies (especially cool movies with aliens & zombies since I’m not a girly girl). Arterton did a very good job but Sennia Nanua was amazing. I immediately looked her up & she’s been in nothing else other than a short film (a ska film set in 1980 – I want to see it!). She’s certainly an actress to watch. What’s with young people being so damn good in movies nowadays? Between her & Jacob Temblay in Room, this has been quite a year for amazing performances from young people (btw – Room was this year in the UK before anyone corrects me).

I don’t want to get too detailed on the plot as, from what I can tell, this movie doesn’t yet have an American release date? That’s a shame – I do recommend it if it makes its way overseas (it’s an English film). If you liked 28 Days Later, this is worth a watch as it has a similar mood & vibe plus, of course, a deserted London thanks to a contagious infection that turns people zombie-like.

I think this is a good one to watch without knowing too much but I promise that it’s not “just another unoriginal zombie movie”. As there are so many now, it’s hard to bring something new to the table but I think this movie does manage to give us something a bit unexpected. It’s a serious film – almost more thriller than horror & more about the relationships between the characters & moral implications involving Glenn Close’s work as a scientist. So, yeah, it has people who want to feed on brains but it’s not a braindead film. I like a movie that makes you think & it’s a good one for discussion afterwards. I’m really glad I saw The Girl With All The Gifts – I hope it gets a wider release & that more people give it a chance. And Sennia Nanua is definitely one to watch.

My Rating: 8/10

**Here’s the trailer if you do want to know a bit more than what I’ve told you. I did see this trailer beforehand & it didn’t ruin anything for me.

Battle Royale (2000) Blind Spot Review

Battle Royale (2000)
Batoru Rowaiaruis
Japanese: バトル・ロワイアル

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku

Based on Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Takeshi Kitano

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Battle Royale:

7. An Education – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

I put Battle Royale on my Blind Spot list as I really have wanted to see it for years. I put it off mainly because I’m kind of a wuss with violence so I was waiting for a time when the hubby could watch it with me (Thanks for finally watching this with me, dude!). I didn’t have to annoy him by asking him what was happening, though. It was of course violent but not “gross” – I was able to watch all of it. However, I think I’d hyped it up too much in my mind all these years as I’m sad to say that I was a bit disappointed with the movie overall.

Now, calm down Battle Royale lovers! 😉 I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it. I enjoyed it quite a bit & I think it’s one that might go up in my estimation once my initial disappointment has worn off. I’ve not read the book so I don’t know how faithful the movie is but I was surprised to find that it was far more shallow than I’d always imagined it must be. Maybe the book is a bit deeper & more of a social commentary? Has anyone here read the book? I have to say that I’m definitely now interested in checking it out to see how it differs as I did really like the story & characters.

I can see why Quentin Tarantino loves this film – it’s a thoroughly entertaining action movie with loads of violence that seems have no consequence. It’s a Japanese Tarantino movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I like his movies and do, first and foremost, want a movie to actually entertain me. Battle Royale certainly did that but it’s also nice when you’re entertained plus get a little something more as well… Anyway, it’s cool that Tarantino cast Chiaki Kuriyama (below) in Kill Bill as Gogo Yubari. One great thing about Battle Royale is that there were some really kick-ass female characters! I always love that.

It’s interesting that my two favorite Blind Spot movies so far are mega violent but I have to say that I thought Natural Born Killers was the better “film” whereas I think I enjoyed Battle Royale more. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that it’s one that will only go up in my estimation if I watch it again or read the book. I think it may just be that the message was more clear in Natural Born Killers than in Battle Royale (whether or not you agree with its use of excessive violence to show us how wrong it is to glorify violence).

I don’t mean for this review to sound so negative as I did really enjoy the film. I guess I’m still sorting through my feelings on it as I type this but I already know I like it even more now than when I watched it a week ago. It’s extremely rare that I re-watch movies nowadays (no time for that) but this is one I do want to re-visit fairly soon. I think one problem may be that Battle Royale has so many characters that it was hard to keep track of them all on the first watch. It’s also hard to fully develop so many characters but this movie did actually do quite a good job with even some of the lesser characters considering how little screen time they got. The main characters were very strong and the movie did well with them – I’d like to read the book for, hopefully, even more insight into everyone involved. I’m glad I put Battle Royale on my Blind Spot list, forcing me to finally watch it all these years later. I wish I’d seen it at the time as it probably would’ve had more impact on me in 2000 than post-Hunger Games (no, I won’t even begin with that comparison but I see now why people moaned about The Hunger Games being so similar). 😉

My Rating: 8/10

Sing Street (2016) Review

Sing Street (2016)

Directed & Written by John Carney

Starring: Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this movie! It’s nice to watch a feel-good, fun movie like this one. It was also nice to get a break from superheroes… I could’ve gone to X-Men: Apocalypse but just didn’t have the energy. I’m very glad that I saw Sing Street instead. I’d rank it very high on my list HERE of the 2016 movies I’ve seen.

I’ve not seen any other John Carney films. I’ve not seen Begin Again mainly because I really don’t like Keira Knightley plus Adam Levine is in it, right?? Ugh. If I see that stupid video where Maroon 5 are playing at various weddings ONE more time, I’m gonna puke! And I do want to see Once but I’ve been putting it off for years because it looks so indie & soooo singer-songwritery. I really need to be in the mood for that sort of thing before I watch it as it has the potential to annoy me. I already know, however, that Sing Street is the one for me.

Teenagers in 1985! With loads of my favorite 80’s music! Joe Jackson! Duran Duran! Hall & Oates! The Cure!!! This is MY era! I’m very happy that this movie had a mixture of well known 80’s songs as well as new songs written by the band in the film as I was afraid it would all be music that I didn’t know. But, hell – the songs by the band in the movie were really good anyway! Maybe a little too good to be fully believable from a group of 15-year-old boys… But who cares? This is one of those movies I enjoyed so much that I can ignore a few small imperfections. Yeah, the story is basic and a bit cliché & predictable. That really doesn’t bother me as long as a film is good, which this one is. I don’t want to pick it apart. I hate when people overanalyze a movie that’s just meant to be fun. I had a lot of fun watching Sing Street – there were more laughs than I was expecting, I cared about the characters & what would happen to them, there was just the right amount of drama without it being melodramatic, and the music was great. What more can we ask for from a movie?? 🙂

This movie is full of unknowns as far as I’m aware (I’ve not looked them all up). Well, except for the dad being played by Littlefinger. That was weird – seeing Game Of Thrones actors in other things is always a little distracting. Everyone did a good job & I really liked not knowing them all already. Our main character (the band’s singer) & the girl he falls for are adorable – I would imagine we’ll be seeing them in many more films after this one. The movie gets a decent balance between the different aspects of the boy’s life (his relationships with his family, the girl, the band, and other students & teachers in his new school). However, my favorite relationship was probably that with his older brother, played by Jack Reynor. Loved him! He’s the best thing about the movie. I’ve never seen him in anything before but apparently he was one of the possibilities for playing Han Solo? I hope to see him in more after this – he was a real highlight in this film.

Summary:

There’s not much more that I can say about Sing Street. I clearly thoroughly enjoyed it but I know that it’s very much my type of thing. I always like movies about bands but especially love them when they involve teenagers in the 1980s since I’ll always be able to relate to that (even when the movie is set in Dublin instead of small town America). It reminded me a lot of We Are The Best!, a Swedish movie from a few years ago about three girls in 1982 Stockholm who decide to form a punk band. Sing Street has the same sort of spirit as that film and I loved them both & can totally relate to the characters in both films despite them being set in different countries from the one where I grew up. What can I say? The language of music is universal. I highly recommend Sing Street to music lovers and to Eighties lovers.

My Rating: 8/10

**Don’t watch this clip if you like knowing nothing about a movie beforehand but there aren’t any spoilers in it or anything. This is the first song that the band in the movie writes (The Riddle Of The Model) & this clip shows them making a “video” for it. If you’re curious, it’ll give you a good idea of the vibe of the film. And it’s a catchy tune! 🙂

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (but not much of a review – I mostly just talk about all these damn superhero movies that keep coming out & where I’d rank them…)**

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on Captain America by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl, The Kitchen Sink

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Captain America: Civil War, an act regulating superhuman activity fractures the Avengers into opposing factions, one led by Steve Rogers and another by Tony Stark.

My Opinion:

Superheroes Shmuperheroes. I’m sick of saying I’m sick of superhero movies. In the three & a half years I’ve had this blog, I feel like I’ve spent half my time writing superhero movie reviews as so many have come out in that time! I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore!

I have to be honest: I can’t be bothered to write much of a “review” for this. Mainly, I’m going to just talk about all the various superhero movies & where I’d rank them all now. I always struggle with writing about these movies as I’m just a casual fan & have zero knowledge about any of the comic books. I put time into running a movie blog so I do clearly geek out about movies more than the average person but I just don’t have the spare time & energy to devote to watching the thousands of hours worth of superhero sequels, prequels, spin-offs, TV shows, etc etc. I’m old & I’m tired & I have a hubby & a kid. I watch the big cinematic superhero releases when they come out & that’s it. I’ve not even managed to re-watch any, which means I’m always a little lost with each movie as I have to remember minor characters & plots from movies I watched just once at the time of release. It drives my hubby nuts when I have to constantly ask who so & so is and if I should remember them from previous movies. These superhero movies are becoming like Game Of Thrones – too many damn characters & stories to keep track of!

Okay – after getting that little rant out of the way, I have to say that I have really enjoyed these current Marvel films with the various Avengers. A few haven’t been all that great but, overall, they’re very solid films. And, with this one & the fantastic Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Captain America films are now easily the best of the bunch (including the full-ensemble The Avengers & Avengers: Age Of Ultron). I loved the first Iron Man and would have said that one was my favorite at the time but after Iron Man 2 & Iron Man 3 were so weak, I’d have to say that Captain America has now jumped ahead overall as the sequels have been so great.

You were afraid I was going to trash this movie, weren’t you? 😉 I won’t. It’s very good! But I just can’t review it. I don’t know what to say. I’ve done so many of these superhero reviews. I’m done. For now. I’ll attempt to review X-Men: Apocalypse but I honestly have no hope for that one after Days Of Future Past was such a mess. Let’s just discuss all the various superhero films that are out there.

How I’d Now Rank All The Superhero Movies (remember that I always rank things according to how much I like a movie, not according to what I necessarily think is the best film):

Every time another one of these movies comes out, I say I’ll update this list HERE of My Top Ten Superhero Movies. I desperately need to as it’s extremely different now. For one, I was way too easy on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The Dark Knight would probably drop way down to the lower half of the ten now (I was too swayed by loving Ledger in it) while the other two would be knocked out completely.

I’d also move up some older classics I’m no longer ashamed of loving (it was the early days of my blog & I suppose I knew you were all younger than I am. You kids are Nolan-obsessed). 😉 So the 1978 Superman would go way up as would Tim Burton’s Batman (and it would move to a position higher than The Dark Knight).

Then there are the first two X-Men movies. Those came out when I was much younger & had spare time to watch movies & geek out over things and I really bought into those characters & that world. Back then, the superhero movie thing wasn’t big like now & it seemed like those films came from out of nowhere. I loved them & I’m still very fond of them but every movie since has been a huge disappointment, including the prequels which I haven’t been able to buy into at all. The various Avengers films have been so much better than the current X-Men films so I’d probably have to move the first two X-Mens down the list as they’ve now been ruined for me somewhat.

So where would I place Captain America: Civil War in a Top Ten? I think it’s too soon to say where but it’s definitely in the ten. I’ll fully update & re-post my list after X-Men: Apocalypse (even though I think that has zero chance of being on the list). I think a lot of where it will ultimately sit also depends on how good the next Avengers film is (whenever the hell that’s meant to be?!). At the moment, I’m trying to decide if it’s better than The Winter Soldier. I think it may be once we get more of the story but, at the moment, I think I’d rank The Winter Soldier higher. So! For now, and subject to change as I change my mind A LOT, I’ll rank things accordingly:

10. TIE: Deadpool & X-Men
9. The Dark Knight
8. The Avengers
7. Batman (1989)
6. X2
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Iron Man
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Superman (1978)
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy

Defining “superhero movies” is quite difficult, though. I’d make it a list of just “comic book movies” but that would further complicate things as there are plenty of non-superhero comic books. For now, I’m leaving out animated films like The Incredibles & Big Hero 6 but I may add them. Also… What about things like Dredd & The Crow? Do they qualify? What do you all think? Because if I start adding in things like those, the list would be very different (for the record, The Crow would easily be my number one as that’s an overall favorite film of mine). Let me know, superhero fans! I really do want to do a proper list, probably where I rank all of the superhero films I’ve seen.

Either way, these various current Marvel films will take plenty of places in my Top Ten as they’re all very strong & seem to be getting better & better. The better they get, the more the other superhero movies pale in comparison & will end up getting knocked out of the list. Way to go Marvel! Unlike DC Comics, eh? As much as I complain about all these damn superhero movies, I always go to them. Until Batman Vs. Superman, that is. After the terrible Man Of Steel, I really couldn’t be bothered to watch it. And from the sound of things, I’m not missing much!

Summary (where I’ll actually say a tiny bit about Captain America: Civil War!):

I have to say that I liked the new characters that have been added to this one. Black Panther is cool (I love those claws) and I really liked Spider-Man! Could we finally have a Spider-Man that fans don’t bitch about?? I have no idea but I really liked him plus my hubby seemed to think they did a very good job with him this time & hubby is a little bit of a comic book fan unlike me. I can’t say I’ve exactly loved any of the Spider-Man movies yet so let’s hope Marvel get things right with their own Spider-Man film. I’m looking forward to it now!

It was great seeing so many Marvel characters together, some of whom haven’t been together in a film yet. However, my one small complaint about the ensemble Avengers films is that there are too many characters, which means that it’s hard for anyone to get much character development. This one is clearly the Captain America & Iron Man show but they didn’t do too bad spending a decent amount of time with some of the other characters. I’d like to see Scarlet Witch get a little further development – they seem to possibly be headed in that direction for the next film.

Okay – I’ve just looked into it as I had zero clue what films are being made next! Apparently the next full Avengers one is Infinity War in May 2018 & 2019 (split into two damn parts one year apart!)?! Long wait until those… That’s made me lose the will to live again with these damn movies!! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this Civil War story is clearly going to be carried on into the next films… I guess I’ve just given away that we don’t get full closure on this story? No surprise there, though – there are 282 more films coming in which to further develop it! Anyway, I still can’t help but slightly prefer some of the stand alone films as we get so much more time to get to know just one main character but it’s still fun seeing them all interacting with each other.

The action in this was also a little too much at first (but not at ridiculous Man Of Steel levels). I also thought it got off to a slow start but I was much more into it by the halfway point. It’s a big story so is taking its time to develop over the course of several films. I guess. Yeah. Ugh. I just can’t handle thinking about them all. Oh, but Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is May 2017!!! THAT I’m excited about (it’s my number one by quite a lot).

Well, for all my bitching, Marvel really are getting better & better at this superhero movie thing & are putting other superhero movies to shame. I’ll continue to watch them all even though I’m superheroed-out but I’ll never geek out over them like my young & carefree twentysomething self may have. But they’re thoroughly entertaining popcorn movies. And although Civil War is obviously getting into darker & moodier territory, it still maintains some of the humor and the less-serious attitude that have made me far prefer the Avengers films to the dark & brooding shit like Batman Vs. Superman appears to be. Screw that emo bullshit! It looks like things will get even more serious for Infinity War, I imagine, but they did a good job getting the balance right in this one and not making a film that’s too depressing to be at all enjoyable. Keep up the good work, Marvel! On all ten films you have planned between now & July 2019. Good (star) Lord…

My Rating: 8/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: HA! Hahaha! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Duhhhhhhh….. Yes. Two. This is Marvel. They’re worth staying for, though. In my opinion. The more “important” one is halfway through the credits while the fun “teaser” one is at the very end (that’s the one I liked).

Stan Lee Cameo: It’s cute! I always love them. Maybe I should start rating those too…

The Muscular Arms On Chris Evans: Whoa, boy! I’m a Thor girl & have never really gone for Captain America but I very much appreciated those biceps when he was holding onto the helicopter. Yeah, baby! I may look away from Thor occasionally in the next film you’re both in together…

**Hey, I know I didn’t really talk about this movie but I’ll happily discuss it with anyone in the comments. I really do want to know all your opinions! Especially those of you who are big fans of these films. 🙂

Midnight Special (2016) Review

Midnight Special (2016)

Directed & Written by Jeff Nichols

Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher, Sam Shepard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A father and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child’s special powers.

My Opinion:

***I’ll remain spoiler-free. This is a good one to see without knowing much about it.

Once again, like when I reviewed 10 Cloverfield Lane, I’m reviewing this sooner than I’d like to as I normally like to wait a couple of days. But I only finished watching this a few hours ago so bear with me for another one of my rambling reviews while I try to sort out my initial thoughts on Midnight Special.

I couldn’t wait to see this one – it was one of my most-anticipated for the whole year. It’s my favorite sort of genre & sounded like the exact sort of thing that I love. And it’s good! It really is. Luckily, it’s far better than 10 Cloverfield Lane (for which I still haven’t fully sorted out my feelings – I either really liked it or I really did not… I’ve never felt quite so confused over my feelings for a movie!). Anyway, I think I just hype certain movies up in my mind too much as so many are so disappointing that when one my sort of thing comes along, I expect too much. I liked this a lot. I expected to love it. I think I loved parts of it but, overall, I’m not sure it will be an all-time favorite such as the brilliant films it’s reminiscent of (such as Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial or Close Encounters Of The Third Kind).

Don’t worry – I won’t say a thing at all about the plot. I think it’s widely known that there’s a sci-fi element to this film anyway but my comparison to those two Spielberg films are more because of Midnight Special’s tone & feel as well as its focus on the characters and their relationships. That’s what I care most about in a film. Yes, I love a great story (especially anything the slightest bit sci-fi) but I never really love a film unless it has strong characters that I care about. While I didn’t fully connect with the characters in Midnight Special as much as I was hoping, I do think the movie did a really good job with those who mattered the most in the film. The father/son relationship is the strongest and, luckily, is what works best as it’s the main focus of the film. I certainly can’t fault Shannon’s performance as a father who will do anything to protect his child. I guess I was just hoping for more of an emotional attachment, like I got with something like E.T. but, hell, to even have your movie bring Spielberg classics to mind is a pretty huge compliment to Jeff Nichols. Yes, this movie very much feels like something Spielberg would have made in his Close Encounters sort of days. That’s a very good thing. In fact, I wonder what he thinks of this movie! Hmm… I would imagine he loves it.

Jeff Nichols is certainly a writer/director I’ll be paying more attention to after this film. I did review both Take Shelter & Mud and it was interesting re-reading those to see what I thought of them. Seriously, though – don’t read my Take Shelter review as I’d only had this blog for two weeks at that point & didn’t even know why I’d started a blog. Basically, I was clearly paying very little attention to the movie as it was on in the background while I decorated the Christmas tree (I’m a parent – you’ll find you half-watch a lot of things when you get some rare “alone time”). 😉 Maybe I’ll give it another try someday but it was one of those films I think I appreciated more than actively liked. Shannon was good, though, as was the film’s theme plus I remember thinking the ending was very good. Mud was an improvement overall in that the film was a more enjoyable & entertaining watch but, now that I think about it more, I think Take Shelter had the far stronger story. I guess it depends on what you prefer from a movie but, if you liked both of those films, you’ll definitely like Midnight Special as it feels like Nichols got a better balance this time between making a good story as well as an entertaining film. Plus, I gotta say the ending is great. It can often go so wrong at the end with this type of thing but I was happy with this film’s finale.

I’m going to wrap this up before I ramble on too much or start spoiling things. Besides, I have a massive migraine & need to go to bed. Damn migraines! When it’s gone, I’ll hopefully be able to catch up on some of your Midnight Special reviews as I wanted to avoid them all until I’d seen it but I really am curious what you all thought of it. Plus, I keep wanting to call this Midnight Express… Anyone seen that? I’ve always wanted to see that but never have. Now I’m off topic. I can’t think when I have a headache.

Midnight Special is very good. I liked it a lot but only time will tell if I feel the same way about it as I do about some of Spielberg’s sci-fi classics that have a similar feel. I’ll say that, partially because of the Dunst connection, I was also reminded somewhat of Melancholia (which I liked quite a bit). I suppose Jeff Nichols is somewhere in the middle – not as weird as Lars von Trier but not as mainstream as Steven Spielberg. It’s a cool combination but I’m not sure if it’ll work for everyone. It worked for me and I’d like to see Nichols do more of this same genre.

My Rating: 8/10

Natural Born Killers (1994) Blind Spot Review

Natural Born Killers (1994)

Directed by Oliver Stone

Story by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A satirical black comedy crime film that tells the story of two victims of traumatic childhoods who became lovers and mass murderers, and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

My Opinion:

Here we are with movie number three of my 2016 Blind Spot picks. I can’t believe I’ve actually managed to review one each month so far! (the previous two were An Education & Summer Wars). Other than The Doors & Platoon, I can’t say I’ve really liked any Oliver Stone films all that much so I went into this one with fairly low expectations. Plus, I’ve never exactly loved either Woody Harrelson or Juliette Lewis. Well, I have to say that I liked this one quite a bit and both those actors have gone up a little in my estimation (22 years later!).

I suppose it helps that Quentin Tarantino wrote the story? He wasn’t involved with the actual screenplay (I read that they changed his story quite a lot) but this movie has the overall vibe of the films he directed – not just in the extreme violence, of course, but also in the rich characters & dialogue.

I think it’s difficult to make a satire on our obsession with violence that then uses excessive violence to get its point across. Does this movie glorify violence just as much as it claims the media does, thanks to shows such as the film’s American Maniacs as hosted by Robert Downey Jr’s character? I read that, at first, this movie was going to be a straight-up action film before Stone decided to turn it into a satirical black comedy. I think changing the direction of the movie was a very wise decision. Actually, this is what I read at Wikipedia – I can see why he changed his mind:

“As the project developed however, incidents such as the O.J. Simpson case, the Menendez brothers case, the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, the Rodney King incident, and the Federal assault of the Branch Davidian sect all took place. Stone came to feel that the media was heavily involved in the outcome of all of these cases, and that the media had become an all-pervasive entity which marketed violence and suffering for the good of ratings. As such, he changed the tone of the movie from one of simple action to a satirical critique of the media in general.”

I think the movie very much gets its point across and is even more relevant today as violence seems to be at an all-time high but, also, scenes of graphic violence are even more immediately accessible now than in 1994 thanks to the explosion of the Internet. It’s not some true-crime TV show (hosted by Downey Jr with, I gotta say, a really annoying fake Australian accent) that we have to worry about these days. Hell, American Maniacs looks like a Saturday morning kids’ cartoon compared to today’s video games & torture porn films never mind the disturbing clips of real-life violence which are far too readily available online thanks to everyone having their own damn video cameras in their phones. (Off Topic Rant: Man, I love my phone but wish I could time travel back to 1985 when peoples’ private lives weren’t being constantly recorded & uploaded for all to see. Kardashian-free 1980’s life sounds like a damn utopia now! Rant Over). So, Natural Born Killers is more relevant today but also wouldn’t actually work if made now as it’s no longer satire. Watching it now was quite scary, in a way, as I imagine it felt far-fetched in 1994? Now it just feels like one of those Making A Murderer type of true story documentaries that are so popular on Netflix.

I’m actually a huge wuss when it comes to violence in movies (I watch Tarantino’s with my hands over my face half the time) but am more accepting when the movie has a message like I feel this one does. There’s lots of blood in this but I was able to watch it all as it’s not as “gory” as Tarantino-directed films (which do glorify violence but are so cleverly written that I can’t help but love them anyway as a fan of film). Will someone go on a murder spree after watching this? Maybe. But someone who does that would’ve done that anyway whether or not they’d watched a violent movie or played a violent video game.

Oh crap – I really didn’t want to get into a deep discussion about the film’s message and about whether the media has a responsibility to humanity to not glorify violence and blah blah blah. That’s one of those arguments that can go around in circles for an eternity. All I’ll say is: Society is fucked. The media – including movies, TV, video games, websites – is just a reflection of society. It gives us what we seem to want based on our behavior. I think Natural Born Killers displays that logic perfectly but it’s a shame that its message, although extremely blatant, seemed to not be fully grasped by everyone at the time.

I think what worked for me with this movie besides the film’s message was its style. I loved the psychedelic scenes and Stone’s use of different colors. I thought the I Love Lucy sitcom-style scenes involving Rodney Dangerfield as the abusive father of Juliette Lewis were very inventive and the scene in the rattlesnake-filled desert was trippy. Hell, I even found the “marriage on the bridge” scene oddly romantic in a messed-up way. That’s the thing – I think most people watching this movie find themselves liking Lewis’ & Harrelson’s Mickey & Mallory despite the fact that they’re psychotic killers with no remorse. But that’s the whole point, of course. The media in the movie makes them stars and the movie itself has made their fictional characters stars. By the end, you want Mickey & Mallory to live happily ever after and THAT is truly fucked-up. That’s how good the movie is, though – it turns us into the Mickey & Mallory-worshipping audience of American Maniacs.

My Rating: 8/10

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) IMDB Top 250 Review

Hi everyone! I’m finally doing my own IMDB Top 250 review again! I’ve been too lazy about doing these myself instead of just posting guest reviews… Let’s get started!

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966)
Italian title: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè, Mario Brega, Eli Wallach

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

My Opinion:

First of all, I better point out that I shouldn’t be allowed to review a Western as I “clearly know nothing about them” and should just “delete” my blog (as an extremely angry, Western-loving troll told me in the comments of my review for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). Man I love trolls! And I always reply to them like a damn idiot.

Well, here’s a further reply to the issue my troll addressed: We all have a “first time” experience of EVERYTHING in life – why should we not be allowed to discuss something just because we don’t have a thoroughly extensive knowledge of it? I’m working my way through the IMDB Top 250, partly, to gain more knowledge of films that are seen as classics and to have a better understanding of those that are within the genres that I’ve not really explored before (mainly war movies & especially Westerns). So I apologize if I offend anyone by discussing yet another Western even though I haven’t managed to first watch “every Western known” like that troll has. Good for him! I’d rather watch a wide range of films from all kinds of different genres. (For the record, I gave The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance quite a positive review). Now onto my uneducated review of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

This is Western #5 for me out of the Top 250 and I’m afraid to say that I found it slightly disappointing after starting with Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West (although I did like it more than The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid & Unforgiven). Personally, I thought West was a better film overall and enjoyed it more than this one. However, I believe West had a much larger budget so it’s not totally fair to compare the two. Also, I’ll say that this one has a brilliant ending and I absolutely loved the final half hour or so plus I of course couldn’t get enough of the amazing Morricone score. 

How the hell had Ennio Morricone not won an Oscar before this year?  He’s a true genius so, until this year’s Oscars, I’d always just assumed he’d won one before now. I didn’t further look into it until after seeing The Good, The Bad And The Ugly as I wanted to see who the hell managed to beat Morricone that year but the film wasn’t even nominated for any Oscars at all, let alone the score. This score wasn’t even nominated?!?! It’s a masterpiece! Stupid Academy… (Even IMDB users have more sense – this film is currently very high at number 9 out of 250)

This film is the third in what later became known as Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy“, which I did know but didn’t actually think to look at the order in which they came out & for some reason thought this was the first of three instead of the last. The other two are in the Top 250 as well so maybe I should’ve watched them in order? I suppose it doesn’t matter too much as the stories are unrelated & Eastwood has a different name in each but it would’ve been interesting to see how Leone’s movies developed over time.

For its time & budget, I realize that The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a damn masterpiece. I have to admit, though, that the dubbed dialogue is very distracting in this one. It’s not something I noticed as much in West but I suppose there were a lot more English-speaking actors in that one. Apparently Leone cared much more about the look of the film than the dialogue so all the dialogue was recorded in post-production.

However, I personally appreciate a “sweeping epic” such as The Good, The Bad And The Ugly with a beautiful score & visuals much more than, say, a modern-day, straightforward, documentary-style Oscar winner such as Spotlight. The two Leone films I’ve seen just say “now THIS is proper filmmaking!” to me. I guess it depends on what kind of movies you prefer but someone with zero experience of Spaghetti Westerns may struggle with the length, slow pace & bad dubbing of this film (I’m experienced – I have two Spaghetti Westerns under my belt now). 😉

As for Clint Eastwood, I do quite like him as an actor but never fully understood the appeal before (although I’m liking him even more recently after watching two great 70’s classics of his – Escape From Alcatraz & Play Misty For Me). I kind of understand the appeal now after finally seeing one of his classic Spaghetti Westerns. The dude is f*%#ing cool, okay? Look at him in that poncho! Look at the cool way that cigarette hangs out of his mouth!

After this movie, I thought “Damn – I wish Eastwood had played Harmonica in West instead of Charles Bronson”. Bronson is okay but Eastwood had that extra special something in the same way Harrison Ford had something special as Indiana Jones. I just read that Eastwood was offered the role of Harmonica but turned it down due to falling out with Leone. What a shame! I really liked Eastwood in this and he helps make this a classic along with “The Bad” and “The Ugly” – Lee Van Cleef & Eli Wallach, who are both also great in the film. I especially liked the relationship between Eastwood’s & Wallach’s “Good” & “Ugly” and the fact that you apparently couldn’t trust anyone in the Wild West.

Summary:

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a fantastic film and I can see why Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns are so highly regarded to this day. However, I’m not going to pretend that it’s now going to be an all-time favorite of mine. Yes, I found it overlong and too slow at times (I watched it off & on over two days while doing chores) plus it was very hard to not be distracted by that bad dubbing. But there are a lot of films like this that I almost like the thought of more than the actual film itself…

For example: I couldn’t stop thinking about The Man Who Fell To Earth after watching it – it looked cool as hell and David Bowie was this amazing otherworldly presence but it’s so flawed that to call it a good film would be a lie even though I loved it. I feel kind of the same way about The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and also Once Upon A Time In The West (although both indeed ARE very good films). What I’m doing a horrible job of trying to explain is this: I’d find it very hard to sit down and watch any of these three films from start to finish again but I think the overall look, feel, and score (the latter in the case of the Leone films) make these the exact sort of movies I wish were still being made. Well, okay – some are as The Revenant is this same sort of thing (and I think it would’ve made a more worthy Best Picture Winner than Spotlight as it’s the one that’ll be more appreciated and seen as a masterpiece in 20 years in the same way Leone’s movies are seen now). The artistic beauty of Leone’s films makes me happy and I find that very moving in a way that I rarely get with films nowadays. Sorry… that sounds cheesy as hell! Hey – look at Clint Eastwood’s smokin’ hot son Scott:

Where was I? This review is almost as long as the movie itself! (2 hours 41 minutes, FYI). Basically, I’m a sucker for a film with awesome visuals & a beautiful score and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is one of the all-time greatest when it comes to these two things. I may never sit through it for its entirety again but I’ve re-watched the ending, starting with the scene involving Morricone’s gorgeous The Ecstasy Of Gold, several times in the past month. It’s not very often that I have the desire to keep re-playing a part of a movie like that so I consider that to be some damn fine filmmaking.

My Rating: 8/10

Awesome theme. So damn awesome. But this one actually gives me chills:

In Your Eyes (2014) Review

In Your Eyes (2014)

Directed by Brin Hill

Written by Joss Whedon

Starring: Zoe Kazan, Michael Stahl-David, Nikki Reed, Steve Harris, Mark Feuerstein, Jennifer Grey

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two seemingly unconnected souls from different corners of the United States make a telepathic bond that allows them to see, hear and feel the other’s experiences, creating a bond that apparently can’t be broken.

My Opinion:

How did this movie so completely pass me by? It’s fantastic. I’m usually pretty informed about this sort of thing but I don’t think I’ve even seen this one mentioned by any fellow bloggers. I added it to my Netflix list ages ago after reading what it was about & thinking “that sounds sort of interesting – I’ll watch that by myself one night if it’s one of those very rare occasions where I’m in the mood for some girly chick flick“. But it’s not just another girly chick flick… It’s GOOD. And, I never thought I’d say this but I think I have my new Say Anything. I think I have my new Lloyd Dobler! Here he is – the perfect boyfriend:

He’s so boy-next-door cute and so sweet in this movie. Yeah, I’m old now but I can still have a crush on a movie character! Anyway, I’m not one of those girls who’s a big fan of romantic movies. Most of them make me want to puke because the characters are so unbelievable & usually so goddamn attractive that they don’t seem real & I can’t relate to them in any way or buy into their love story. Not that Zoe Kazan & Michael Stahl-David are exactly unattractive but they felt like real people and I loved their unconventional romance.

So, like the synopsis says, these two have a telepathic connection that they feel at various points throughout their lives but which fully comes into effect one day when they’re adults. It allows them to see through each other’s eyes and to talk to each other whenever they want. I really loved the concept – it’s very simple yet works perfectly in this film (probably, again, mainly due to the characters being so fully believable and the film being well written).

Yes, this was written by Joss Whedon & I didn’t know that until I started watching it. I’m sure that has probably piqued the interest of those reading this who are fans of things like Buffy (I never watched that – I was too old for it) or Firefly (great show) or even The Cabin In The Woods. I’d say that this movie has the same sort of overall feel as all of those but is a little more grown-up (I’m not sure of the characters’ ages but I’m guessing around 30).

I liked that they didn’t spend ages explaining the “telepathic” thing. There was no need to. These are just two people with a great connection having chats & sharing their lives with each other the same way any good friends would in normal circumstances. I’m a big fan of good dialogue & characters that don’t feel fake or forced and I instantly bought into the way these two talked to each other as though they were just having a normal long distance chat on the phone with a good friend. It’s like any long distance romance movie, I suppose, but with a more unique twist and with characters I actually believed & cared about.

Summary:

I’ll wrap this up before I ramble on and just keep saying the same things over & over. What can I say? I loved this film. It’s rare that a romance works for me but, as with Say Anything as well, I guess that’s the difference a good writer and strong characters makes (and it certainly didn’t escape my notice that this movie shares its name with the Peter Gabriel song made so famous by my beloved Lloyd Dobler & his boom box). 

I won’t pretend there aren’t cliché moments (he’s a poor ex-con living in a trailer in sunny New Mexico, she’s a well-to-do doctor’s wife living in snowy New Hampshire) but it doesn’t matter when the movie is actually good. And the contrast between their two worlds was quite beautiful – there are so many lovely shots of New Mexico that I want to move there right now. Into a trailer with Michael Stahl-David’s character! But, seriously – don’t write this one off just because it’s a romance. I almost did and I’d have missed out on a new favorite if I had.

My Rating: 8/10

Road House (1989) Review

Road House (1989)

Directed by Rowdy Herrington

Produced by Joel Silver

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, Jeff Healey, Marshall R Teague, Kathleen Wilhoite

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Road House is a 1989 American action thriller film directed by Rowdy Herrington and starring Patrick Swayze as a bouncer at a newly refurbished roadside bar who protects a small town in Missouri from a corrupt businessman. Sam Elliott also plays a bouncer, the mentor, friend and foil of Swayze’s character. The cast also includes Kelly Lynch as Swayze’s love interest, and Ben Gazzara as the main antagonist.

My Opinion:

SPOILERS!! This is one of those movies where I HAVE to talk about what happens in it because it’s just so horrendously awesome and I want to chat with any Road House-loving bloggers. I know you’re out there because most of you stopped by when my “review” of Steve Jobs turned into a Road House discussion instead as I’d just seen this cinematic masterpiece for the first time ever while wrapping some Christmas presents. I did watch it a second time while doing more present wrapping and my newfound love grew even stronger. Where have you been all my life, Road House?? You are amazing. I needed a postcoital cigarette after watching this movie. And I don’t even smoke!

I’ve never been a big Patrick Swayze fan as I mainly saw him as the Dirty Dancing guy and, let’s be honest, that movie is pretty fucking lame. Okay, Point Break is a favorite of mine but it’s mainly Keanu Reeves who I think of in that one. So I suppose I never even thought about watching Road House as it looked pretty damn bad. And, boy oh boy is it bad! Good bad. Awesome bad. It’s fucking ridiculous. I love it! I should’ve listened to hubby sooner as he’s been telling me for years that I should watch it. He knows me so well. Poor bastard – he married such a weird girl…

Anyway! I love how Road House starts out silly and crazy but is still a pretty straightforward story of your typical sexy, well-educated, philosophical, not-as-big-as-expected master tai chi bouncer in the skankiest, filthiest, trashiest redneck & slut bar imaginable (but with good live music, provided by Jeff Healey. the Angel Eyes guy?!).

So it’s nuts from the start but THEN, from out of nowhere, shit is exploding Michael-Bay-style and monster trucks are driving over cars and women are stripping and people are being stabbed and there are giant stuffed animals (like, real ones – not teddy bears) and polar bears are falling on people and Kelly Lynch is wearing loads of hairspray and a gingham tablecloth from a small-town cafe (and, later, apparently no panties) and throats are being ripped out (I had to rewind that bit as it was so totally unexpected) and Sam Elliott is a fucking stud as always & I’d totally sleep with his character (oh yes) and Patrick Swayze is trying to find his inner peace throughout all this bullshit by doing sexy, shirtless, glistening tai chi.

I still can’t believe it took me this long to watch the movie that’s so hilarious it causes Bill Murray & his brothers to call up Kelly Lynch’s husband every single time the Road House sex scene is on TV to say “Kelly’s having sex with Patrick Swayze right now. They’re doing it. He’s throwing her against the rocks.” But her character is a DOCTOR. Swayze’s sensitive bouncer wants a smart girl, not the skanks who strip in the filthy Double Deuce bar. Look at them “meeting cute” – they’re SO gonna fuck!:

See??:

He was really turned on by her tablecloth dress:

I admit that, while I never found Swayze sexy, he’s almost sexy in this movie. This role was great for him. He’s way cooler here than in that silly Dirty Dancing movie. (Yeah, I far prefer Road House to Dirty Dancing. I really suck at being a girl!)

But, although I admit that Swayze was good in this and that the role did really suit him, it’s Sam Elliott who steals the show. What a fucking stud. I already loved him from one of my all-time favorite movies (Mask) and, yeah, he’s pretty much playing the same sort of character in this movie as well. But that’s okay – it’s the perfect role for him.


Fucking Stud.

As if these awesome main three characters aren’t enough, though, we also get a wide variety of rednecks, sluts, blind musicians, and a corrupt small-town businessman who likes to hunt big game (why wasn’t America freaking out about Brad Wesley killing polar bears?! This polar bear should’ve been projected onto the Empire State Building!):


I told you a polar bear fell on someone…

Then there’s the big ‘ol slut always trying to screw Swayze even though she’s the property of the corrupt businessman. She does a striptease all around Jeff Healey at one point (who is really likeable in this – I didn’t know he’d done any acting!) and I have to say she has a pretty great bod. And big 80’s panties under her ugly 1981 prom dress:

I looked her up & she went on to be a stuntwoman & it looks like she was that tough, fully nude chick in the shower in Point Break (also with Swayze!). Really?! Huh! Anyway, the sluts and rednecks are great:

But nothing beats this prick:

Earring dude prick has a big manly man fight with Swayze toward the end of the film, during which he says…

Wait. What did he just say?? Never mind nobody putting baby in a corner – nobody says THAT to Patrick Swayze because he’ll rip your fucking throat out! He does! He did! Ripped it right out, Temple-Of-Doom-style!! I wasn’t expecting that in this 1989 film, even after seeing the 18 rating in the UK. Awesome. He should’ve ripped the throat out of the guy who knocked up Penny in Dirty Dancing. Dirty Dancing would have been greatly improved with throat-ripping & monster trucks.


The bigger the truck, the smaller the penis…

Summary:

Classic. This is the perfect “so bad it’s good” movie. You hear that phrase a lot but very few movies achieve that perfect balance. Watching this movie was seriously the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long, long time. ROAD HOUSE!!!!!

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s the trailer, which I just watched with a big dumb grin on my face:

And here are all the Road House bits from an episode of Family Guy that Emma told me about. Haha! Thanks, Emma! 🙂

**FYI – I’ve quickly done this review as the next three days I’ll be posting my end-of-year Top Ten lists & this movie has made My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2015 list. Come back tomorrow to see where it ranks! 🙂

The Peanuts Movie (2015) Review

The Peanuts Movie (aka Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie) (2015)

Directed by Steve Martino

Based on Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz

Starring Voice Actors: Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Mariel Sheets, Alex Garfin, Francesca Angelucci Capaldi, Noah Johnston, Venus Omega Schultheis, Rebecca Bloom, Marelik “Mar Mar” Walker, Anastasia Bredikhina, Micah Revelli, William “Alex” Wunsch, AJ Teece, Madisyn Shipman, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Kristin Chenoweth, Bill Melendez

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home.

My Opinion:

I love Peanuts. I adore Snoopy. I’ve been a huge fan from a young age, always reading the comics in the newspapers while growing up and watching all the Peanuts TV specials (which I now have on DVD all sitting proudly next to my husband’s Star Wars DVD collection while every other DVD we have is boxed & put away). Peanuts isn’t as big of a thing in the UK so whenever I see anything whatsoever with Peanuts on it, I buy it. My daughter is always guaranteed to have several articles of Snoopy clothing as I can’t exactly NOT buy her Snoopy clothing whenever I see any. Okay – and I may have several articles of Snoopy clothing as well (mostly pajamas). 😉

My point is this: I’m a huge fan of Peanuts so I was of course extremely worried when I first heard they’d be making a Peanuts movie. I’m not a huge fan of other films made by Blue Sky Studios (things like Ice Age, Rio, Robots, Epic – I can take or leave all of these). I was also really dreading some kind of horrible disaster like those Garfield movies. Then when we first saw the look of the characters for the new Peanuts movie, I had a tiny bit of hope as they stayed quite true to the classic look. I’m so happy that I got to see a preview of this over the weekend as it doesn’t fully come out in the UK until the 21st and….. I’m SO HAPPY WITH THE MOVIE!!!! 🙂

This movie stays true to the spirit of Peanuts and it was nice to watch a movie with my daughter that was pure innocence. They didn’t try to update this in any way or throw in any naughty little jokes for the adults. I hate when they take something classic and try to modernize it for a new generation and that was my biggest fear going into this movie. That occasionally works for some things but, for the most part, modernizing something like this usually ends in disaster as all you’re going to do is piss off the fans of the original and probably still not gain any new, younger fans.

As I say, though, I’m a huge fan so I expected this to be faithful & respectful to my beloved Peanuts. My hubby & I disagreed slightly on this movie as he felt it brought “nothing new to the table”. They still had things like Snoopy using a typewriter & Charlie Brown getting tangled up in an old phone cord so they’ve not brought this film into modern times. I loved that while the hubby seemed to feel that they should’ve brought it up to date in some ways (while still remaining loyal to everything that Peanuts stands for). I don’t know – what does everyone else think? I admit that I’m totally blinded by my love of this group of cartoon characters who’ve been such a big part of my (many) years on this Earth. To me, this movie did things perfectly & I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m going to wrap this up because 1) I don’t have anything interesting to say because I clearly love Peanuts so damn much that I’d just blather on & on about it and annoy everyone (this is why I’ve reviewed hardly any all-time favorite movies of mine on this blog) and 2) I’m off to see Krampus in a few minutes, which I’m wanting to be the new Gremlins so my expectations are clearly too high as nothing can be as good as Gremlins.

Summary:

As this movie is coming out in the UK so much later than in the US, I’ve completely avoided reading all reviews. I’m assuming that all long-time Peanuts fans breathed a big sigh of relief afterwards as I don’t think we could’ve gotten a movie that was much more loyal than this one.

I’m very glad that it has come out now while my daughter is six because I think she’d maybe be too old for it in another year. I have zero complaints about the movie but, yes – my husband is right in some ways about this movie needing to modernize in order to gain new fans. Today’s kids are quite different from how those my age were when we grew up in the Seventies & the Eighties and they sadly seem to lose their innocence at such a young age now. I love how they chose to not modernize, though, as I don’t think it’s necessary. A big thank you to the filmmakers for keeping the pure innocence of Peanuts alive in this film. The characters are so iconic (especially Snoopy) that there will always be new fans anyway. Who isn’t going to fall in love with Snoopy?? That’s why you still see him all the time. He’s one of the greatest creations in history! (Did I mention that I love Snoopy????!!!! 🙂 Okay, I’ll shut up).

I think it was more important to keep the old fans happy with this one and they certainly managed that with this fan. As for my daughter, I do feel that a part of her is humoring her crazy old Peanuts-loving mother but I did see a big smile on her face whenever I looked over at her during the movie plus she giggled quite a lot at Snoopy’s antics. Trust me, she’s a Snoopy fan at the very least. And Sally! She always giggles at Sally as well.

The Peanuts Movie is “safe” but it’s very sweet without ever being saccharine plus it never feels forced or fake. I think Charles Schulz would be very happy with it. I know I am! 

My Rating: 8/10

**Oh! I was in a hurry so I didn’t add that, luckily, the fantastic Vince Guaraldi music is in The Peanuts Movie. Good grief – can you imagine Peanuts without it?? 🙂

Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe:

This mediocre Ice Age short was shown before the movie. It was… Mediocre! Just like the Ice Age films. Meh. Actually, as far as all the Scrat shorts go, this has to be the weakest. I suppose kids who love Scrat will like it. Should I rate it? Hmm. 4.5/10.

Suffragette (2015) Review

Suffragette (2015)

Directed by Sarah Gavron

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.

My Opinion:

I went to a movie with the hubby the other day and I really needed to go to one since I hadn’t been to one in months and I was having major withdrawal. There weren’t a lot to choose from (I’m not really a Bond fan and The Peanuts Movie doesn’t come out in the UK until the end of December. Grr!! I’m not happy about that!). Anyway, I fully admit that I don’t often feel like watching a “heavy” film but Suffragette was the only thing showing at a time that worked out for us. 

Well, I’m glad I saw it because I thought it was really good. I’m quite sure it will end up in my Top Ten Movies Of 2015 when I make the final list. I’ve seen some “meh” reviews of it on the blogs here but I didn’t feel that way about it at all.

I’ll also admit this right now: I’ve never had much of an interest in “history”. I can understand why some people do but it was always one of my least favorite subjects in school and you’re unlikely to find me ever watching the History Channel. The past is the past – I’m more interested in the present and the future. So I of course knew of the Suffragettes although I didn’t know a lot of specifics. I definitely have even more of an appreciation for what these women did after seeing this movie, though, which to me should be the point of movies about important historical events.

I’m aware that Carey Mulligan’s character and story are fictional & I think that may be part of the reason why this movie isn’t being praised quite as much as historical dramas which are based on completely true stories. I have no issues with some fictional characters, though, as long as the story is told well. Mulligan’s character is an amalgamation of the many nameless women who, at great personal cost, fought for something they believed in.

Would I have been a Suffragette? Would I have dared to speak up at a time when a woman questioning things as simple as why she wasn’t allowed to vote yet was expected to follow the law or why she got less pay than a man doing the exact same job could lead to a beating by police, time in prison, torture if she chose to go on a hunger strike, and the possibility that employers, friends & loved ones (both male & female) would turn their backs on her just for questioning these very basic rights that we take for granted nowadays? No – I wouldn’t have been a Suffragette. I’m the type who doesn’t even speak up for herself now in 2015 so I have a tremendous amount of respect for these women who did so at at time when it was downright dangerous to ask for equality. These are the women who young girls should be looking up to (I discussed the basics of this movie with my own daughter after watching it). It breaks my heart that more girls know the names of each useless Kardashi-thingy than a name like Emmeline Pankhurst.

I’m not going to act like I knew much, though, as I already said that I never had much of an interest in history. So while I knew about Pankhurst, I’ll admit that I knew nothing about the other real-life female character in this movie (Emily Wilding Davison). Hubby had a good giggle when he leaned over & said “you’re the only person in this cinema who doesn’t know what’s about to happen, aren’t you?” when her big moment came. Yep! What can I say? I got a typical 80’s American history education. 😉

So as a movie-blogger and not a history-blogger, I have to say that I thought the actresses in Suffragette were all fantastic. Streep plays Pankhurst but it’s an even smaller role than I was expecting (I think she had no more than ten minutes of screen time). She was, of course, her usual Streep-y self. She’s always great & I also love her in real life. She’s feisty! She’s always speaking out about her beliefs so it’s no surprise that she would play someone like Pankhurst. The same goes for Helena Bonham Carter, who plays the exact sort of character you’d expect in Suffragette. I’ve never considered myself a fan of hers but the truth is that she’s an excellent actress and another one that I have respect for in real life (she’s a feisty one too – I probably like strong, feisty women because I’m such a pushover myself).

Finally, the characters played by both Anne-Marie Duff & Carey Mulligan were based on the many working class Suffragettes who found it very hard to fight for a cause while also trying just to survive & make a living for their families. Both actresses were fantastic and I was happy to see Mulligan in a great role again. I was such a big fan of hers after that Doctor Who episode Blink but then she seemed to play the same characters over & over (her excruciatingly dull Daisy in The Great Gatsby drove me nuts, but that may be more the fault of how that character was written). 

I suppose I especially liked Mulligan in this as I could relate to her character, who kind of inadvertently gets involved in a cause she’s not sure she wants to be a part of due to the ramifications and the fact that she has a son she loves & has to take care of. We know about the more public figures such as Pankhurst but it’s hard to imagine the sacrifices these working class women made, especially when even a peaceful protest could land them in jail for days, hurting the family who depended on their meager wages. Mulligan may be one of the fictional characters but she felt the most “real” to me. Bravery isn’t always bold & brash – as much as I’d love to be an educated & ass-kicking character like Bonham Carter’s, there are more women in this world who are like Mulligan’s character & I’d be happy to see her understated performance get an Oscar nomination.

I did do a tiny bit of reading about the real women after watching Suffragette (this is a really good article about some of the real women who inspired the characters in the movie: Biography.com).

My favorite story is that Helena Bonham Carter’s character is a combination of a husband & wife team who fought for women to get the vote (Barbara Ayrton Gould and her husband Gerald) and a woman who knew martial arts & taught the Suffragettes jiu-jitsu to defend themselves and to protect the leaders of the movement (which became known as “suffrajitsu” according to the above article. I love that!). This woman was named Edith Garrud and Bonham Carter was inspired by her & had her character named Edith in her honor. I want to learn suffrajitsu! That’s awesome. 🙂

Have a look at the above article if, like me, you’re not much of a history buff. I know I really should do more reading about the real-life Suffrage movement as I do find women’s rights throughout history to be quite fascinating (mainly due to the fact that I find it just plain confusing why all human beings, to this day, still aren’t all treated equally). The film ends with statistics showing the years in which women earned the right to vote in various countries and it’s shocking just how recent a lot of those dates were (never mind the places where they still aren’t allowed to vote even now). As far as this movie goes, I think it does its job in bringing attention to a still important topic as, to me, Suffragette is just as much about everyone’s basic human rights as it is about women being able to vote. I know not everyone loved it but this movie gets my vote.

My Rating: 8/10

We Are The Best!, Blue Ruin & A Long Way Down Movie Reviews

Three more quickie reviews today! I know I often do “meh” movies or the occasional movie that I HATED in this way so I decided to throw a good one in this time as well. Okay, of the other two, one is “meh” and one I HATED. 🙂

Here we go!

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We Are The Best! (2013)

Directed by Lukas Moodysson

Starring: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this Swedish film set in 1982 Stockholm in which three 13-year-old girls decide to start a punk band. In fact, I just watched the trailer again (which I’ve included at the end of this post) and it genuinely made me smile & realize just how much I liked the movie.

The movie starts with two friends who have very different personalities but share a love of punk music so are therefore not exactly “popular” at school because of their strange taste in music & their short hair. Bobo is shy & insecure while Klara is mouthy & confident. The girls one day decide to start a punk band after being picked on by some boys. Unfortunately, they’ve had no musical training. After seeing a Christian girl named Hedvig perform in a talent show at their school, the girls ask her to join their band.

What I really liked about this movie is that these girls seemed real. You never forget they’re only 13 and, even though I’m far, far, FAR away from that age now, I think every female alive remembers that age well as it’s a very tough time in life and all you want is to fit in. Klara, who has a better home life than Bobo, is pretty secure in herself but Bobo always worries that she’s not pretty enough and that boys will never like her. When they befriend Hedvig, who is very shy and has had a strict Christian upbringing that goes against Klara’s beliefs, they form such an odd trio with very different personalities that somehow end up working perfectly together. They literally bring out the Best(!) in each other.

We Are The Best! is a coming-of-age film but without all the melodrama that sometimes comes from movies in that genre, which can feel contrived at times. It just tells a believable, straightforward story of three very likeable misfits who love punk music. Or love, at least, the punk lifestyle as, other than Hedvig, they don’t have any musical talent. But, hey – that IS punk and, by the end, these girls prove that they’re more punk than the boys who originally made fun of them. It’s a great final scene & the whole movie was just fun. I also found it very interesting hearing a lot of punk music in Swedish (which sounded no different as, let’s face it, all punk sounds the same). And the song the girls write, Hate The Sport, is hilarious. That’s SO what a 13-year-old girl would write about! They write this while annoyed at having to run laps in gym class & the song talks about people dying all over the world while some people obsess over silly sports (I like the lyrics “The world is a morgue, but you’re watching Björn Borg.” lol!).

Seriously, this is a delightful film & I can’t remember the last time I liked all the main characters in a movie so much. It’s still a bit “indie” and the story may feel like it’s not going anywhere as it’s just that style of film but I love that – it makes it feel real. Oh! And the 1982 thing felt so genuine that you kind of forget that it was made in 2013. I don’t have a bad thing to say about this movie – it’s just great to watch a simple film that leaves you with a smile on your face.

My Rating: 8/10

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Blue Ruin (2013)

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Eve Plumb

My Opinion:

I saw a lot of reviews for this movie pop up on WordPress in the last year or so. I could tell it probably wasn’t my type of thing but, when I saw it appear on Netflix, I hit ‘Play’ against my better judgment. I should’ve gone with my gut instinct – I HATED this movie.

I do like a good revenge film (like Kill Bill!). A good revenge film. For a revenge film to work, you need a sympathetic character. This is very important & Blue Ruin doesn’t manage this. Okay, I guess you do feel kind of sorry for the main character & see why he’d want revenge but his character is so poorly developed! We learn very little about him other than the past tragedy that occurred to make him want to seek revenge. You never warm to his character, which makes it hard to care what the outcome of the movie will be. And what a load of scumbags he goes up against! I just didn’t find that realistic – no one is that horrible, are they??

I struggled to make it through this one. I watched it in three sittings as I kept getting so bored that I turned it off. It’s soooo slow! I do have quite a bit of patience when it comes to movies but, god, it felt like this one would never end. It was also far too violent for me, which is something I’m not a big fan of (unless it’s Kill Bill, I guess! lol). Umm… I don’t know. I just didn’t care. By the end, when there’s a little “twist” of sorts, I was like “So what? NOW we finally get a bit of a story to this thing? Five minutes before it ends??”. I didn’t care. Just like I don’t care enough to discuss this movie any further. Boring. Pointless. I hated it. But Jan Brady was in it so that’s kind of cool, I guess. Not as cool as if it had been Peter Brady, though!

You’re welcome for that in-depth review. 😉

My Rating: 3/10

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A Long Way Down (2014)

Directed by Pascal Chaumeil

Based on A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul

My Opinion:

MEH! Sometimes I really wish they could make better British movies. They just make far too much of this sort of bland drama over here (sorry, British people. I do love 28 Days Later…!). This suffers from the same sort of problems that Starter For 10 had – I think it just tries too hard to be a some sort of “quirky” indie based-on-a-book drama.

First of all, I’m a fan of Nick Hornby’s books. I wouldn’t call him my favorite author (that’s Stephen King) but I’ve enjoyed all his books that I’ve read & High Fidelity was great. I did read A Long Way Down & it was okay but not one of his best so it was unlikely to be a really great movie. It was a long time ago that I read it so I can’t really compare it to the movie but it seemed a fairly faithful adaptation from what I remember.

The movie is about four people who meet on a London rooftop on New Year’s Eve. They’ve each come there planning to take their lives but, after meeting and forming an unusual sort of friendship, they make a pact to at least wait until Valentine’s Day to decide if they still wish to, well, kill themselves. Sounds morbid by my description. I suppose it is but instead of ending up some interesting sort of dark comedy, it’s a rather bland drama with only two likeable characters out of the four.

Toni Collette’s character is the most sympathetic by far. To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into their reasons for each wanting to commit suicide but Collette’s Maureen is the one you’ll feel for the most and she makes the other three appear shallow by comparison. Brosnan’s character is kind of the main one in the book from what I remember and, while he’s not totally unlikeable, his problem is the one that most people really won’t be able to sympathize with. I did like Aaron Paul’s character, who is the most withdrawn and seems genuinely sad. Imogen Poots, however… First of all, how much do you think she got made fun of for having the name Imogen Poots?? That name is hilarious. As for her character, she’s very hard to like. She’s rude to the others and comes across as completely selfish. She’s one of these “pretty, young, damaged girls” (okay – I’ll admit I’m probably just jealous as I’ve always wanted to be one of those). Granted, when you find out her true reason for being on that roof, you do start to care more about her but her treatment of the others, especially Aaron Paul, does get annoying at times. I think she’s a decent actress, though, with stunning eyes. I thought she was very good in 28 Weeks Later (which is a much better British movie than this one).

This movie isn’t bad, it’s just a bit “What’s the point?”. For a fairly controversial set-up, it goes a little too predictable-mainstream-Hollywood at the end. But, from what I remember of the book, that also didn’t delve too deeply into the dark subject matter. It’s worth a Sunday afternoon watch if it sounds like something you’d like, though.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Trailer for We Are The Best! – Check it out if you’re interested. I’m hoping I’ve talked some people into watching this film. 🙂