Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2020

Happy December! 2020 is finally almost over! I’ve decided to at least finish out the year on this blog since I only have to post my monthly roundups for October, November & December. I’ll do my usual year-end top ten lists in early January but not sure of any blog plans after that. May just continue these monthly roundups when I have the time. Here’s what I watched in October…

MOVIES WATCHED IN OCTOBER (ranked best to worst):

The Platform – I’ve been extremely disappointed with the majority of movies I’ve seen this year. The Platform was a nice surprise after a crappy year of films. I really liked this – it may be my favorite I’ve seen at home this year. I always appreciate a good concept & seeing something that feels truly original as so many movies are cliché & predictable. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The Platform (Spanish: El hoyo, transl. The Hole) is a 2019 Spanish social science fiction-horror film directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia. The film is set in a large, tower-style “Vertical Self-Management Center”. Its residents, who are switched every 30 days between its many floors, are fed via a platform which, initially filled with food at the top floor, gradually descends through the tower’s levels, stopping for a fixed amount of time on each. The system inevitably leads to conflict, as the residents at the top levels get to eat as much as they can, with each level getting only the leftovers from the previous ones.” Yeah, it’s a bit of a grim dystopian tale but I’m still a fan of this genre despite this real-life dystopian year so I realise it may not be the sort of thing people will want to watch at the moment. But it’s a great story that poses some interesting questions & is well worth the watch on Netflix if you appreciate this sort of story. – 7.5/10

First Man – I liked this more than I was expecting, despite not quite connecting with Damien Chazelle’s films so far. I thought Ryan Gosling was very good playing a complex & quite standoffish Neil Armstrong. I admit to knowing nothing whatsoever of the man’s real life or personality so don’t know how accurate this portrayal was. But I felt for his character & could relate to him in a strange sort of way for a girl who has no desire to even leave her home let alone this planet. I’m sure he didn’t come across as very likeable to some viewers but I felt sorry for him. I’m aloof too! I hope the bracelet part is true but there’s no definite evidence of that from what I could find online. It was a nice, lovely touch. It’s a good film that will only be appreciated if you like good acting & strong characters. Don’t go into it expecting an exciting space travel action movie. – 7.5/10

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – I never thought of watching this film at the time as I wasn’t a fan of the very little I’d seen of Sacha Baron Cohen. But then he talked some real sense when speaking out against Facebook & social media and, hell, I thought maybe I’d watch this after all when everyone was raving about the Borat sequel (which I also watched & will mention next). I thought this movie was pretty damn hilarious. Surprised it had passed me by. Not all of the humor in it was to my taste & some of it was a bit too juvenile. But, hey, I can also appreciate a guy shitting in a bag much to the horror of his uppity dinner hosts. That shit was funny. What I really like is how he uses silly humor to expose some people for the truly awful human beings that they are. Good stuff. I’d happily watch a third film & would absolutely love it if he could manage to expose more of the rich & the famous. But that would of course be difficult now that this character is more well known (as shown in the sequel, when people recognised him at the beginning). – 7/10

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – Also got some good laughs out of this sequel, although I don’t think the comedy or overall story worked as well as in the first film. He’d set his sights much higher here, though, trying to go after Trump’s people & supporters instead of just trying to meet a sexy actress from Baywatch (plus Pamela Anderson was in on it all with the first film). So this will have been a harder stunt to pull off but he still did well to fool a lot of people. And, hey – I think a certain guy is horrible but also think he WAS tucking in his shirt. Still plenty of funny stuff in this one too, though, and the development of his relationship with his “daughter” was quite sweet (and Maria Bakalova was very funny in that role). – 7/10

The Man From Earth – This was okay. It’s about a college professor who is moving on after several years in his job & his fellow professors insist on a farewell get together at his place. He then proceeds to tell them he’s actually a Cro-Magnon caveman who has been alive for more than 14,000 years. This is one of those talky movies, so avoid if you don’t like movies where the characters just sit around & talk for the entirety of the film. There’s some good conversation, though, as he tries to convince them he’s telling the truth while they ask smart professor-y questions. There’s also some tension as his story goes against the beliefs of some of his friends. I’d like to give it a higher rating, as it’s a smart film that does well with a low budget. I liked it. I’d like to watch the sequel as well, but am disappointed to see it has a low IMDb rating. So maybe I should quit while I’m ahead & watch just this one decent standalone film with an interesting story. – 6.5/10

Hubie Halloween – I liked this, although it’s certainly not my favorite Adam Sandler film (I did a top ten of his movies HERE so I suppose I should add this at some point). Not sure where I’d rank this – maybe around 10th place or so. But I’ve seen way more than ten of his movies so I should rank all of them – Hubie Halloween is probably somewhere in the middle. What I liked about this movie more than anything was 1) the fact that it’s set at Halloween & I want more movies set at Halloween and 2) the inappropriate t-shirts his character’s sweet old mother wears and especially 3) Steve Buscemi. I love Buscemi. I do like Adam Sandler, unlike some snobby people who refuse to admit to ever liking his films. However, I also fully admit that some of his movies are complete & utter shit. Where Sandler does best is when he finds people who make his movies better. Drew Barrymore & Steve Buscemi elevate the Sandler movies they’re in. Too bad Drew wasn’t in this one! Sandler has great chemistry with Drew & Buscemi has ended up being surprisingly hilarious in all of his small Sandler movie roles. Well, Buscemi was great again & the highlight of this film for me (plus it’s a much bigger role than most of his Sandler cameos). My kid was like “Steve Buscemi!” as soon as he came on screen. How many pre-teens get excited over Steve Buscemi, let alone even know who he is?? I’m a cool movie parent. – 6/10

Before I Go To Sleep – Meh. I like a good thriller but this one got a bit too silly at the end (although the twist was okay even if a bit predictable – I love a twist). I just read something recently where someone was like “Oh look – it’s Nicole Kidman playing a woman in a bad marriage again!” My god, she really does love this sort of role. Although you don’t know in this case if she IS in a bad marriage or not as you have no idea who to trust (she’s a woman who was attacked in the past & wakes up every day not able to remember anything). So it’s like 50 First Dates without the fun. – 5.5/10

The Haunted Mansion – Finally decided to check this one out. It’s… Fine. I’m sure it’s a favorite film for some who were kids at the right sort of age when this came out. But I only saw this two months ago & am already forgetting it. Safe & fun but forgettable family film. – 6/10

Freaked – Yeah…. With the release of Bill & Ted Face The Music, I figured it was finally time to watch this Alex Winter film I somehow managed to miss back in 1993. It’s bad. Very bad. But it’s full-on Troma-level bad (without actually being a Troma film, but I’m too lazy to look into if there are Troma connections as it really does look & feel like a Troma film). I can see why this has its fans in the same way the “so bad they’re bad” Troma movies do. So, like Troma movies, I’m glad I watched this to experience it just one time. And like Troma movies (except maybe The Toxic Avenger, which is the Citizen Kane of Troma), you’d never get me to watch this a second time. Oh! Lovely Keanu Reeves makes an uncredited appearance in this, though. I’ll give it an extra half a point for that. – 5.5/10

Brahms: The Boy II – Well, this was a massive disappointment after really enjoying the first film (which I reviewed HERE). The first film had a solid story (as far as horror goes) & a very ’80s vibe to it. Two things I love: ’80s movies & creepy dolls! The story in this sequel gets really dumb & kind of undoes the simplicity of the story in the first movie. Yet another pointless horror remake. – 5/10

Tales Of Halloween – Wow. This was absolutely dreadful. It’s a collection of short “Halloween” tales (obviously). I love a good horror anthology (Trick ‘ r Treat & Dead Of Night, for example). Watch those instead. Besides the very first story (I think) being a fucked-up but fun tale of a boy wanting his Halloween candy back, the rest are silly & ridiculous. A waste of time. – 3/10

Shorts, etc:

– Birth Of A Monster: A Star Wars Story – Wasn’t sure where to put this in the post as it’s a short on YouTube. It’s a DAMN good Star Wars fan film that I’d recommend to every Star Wars lover. God, even fan films are doing a better job with Star Wars than the “professionals” did with the damn sequel trilogy! You can watch this film HERE. I don’t really want to say anything about it as I knew nothing going into it & it was a lovely surprise watching this fun Star Wars story unfold. So please check it out if you’re a fan – I think you’ll appreciate it. – 7.5/10

Rewatched In October:

Adventures In Babysitting – This movie will always be a guilty pleasure favorite of mine. Still love it. – 8.5/10

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – It’s a classic. Gene Wilder is fantastic. The songs are incredible, especially Pure Imagination which is on my regular playlist that I listen to every day while working. But I’ve always found it slightly too creepy. I was more of a Wizard Of Oz kid than a Willy Wonka kid. Still am. – 7.5/10

Billy Madison – More Adam Sandler! Again, I’d probably rank this somewhere in the middle but higher than Hubie Halloween. And, again, we get a brilliant Steve Buscemi cameo. I’d actually forgotten that bit as I hadn’t watched this in years. Hilarious! Think it’s my favorite Buscemi cameo after drunk Wedding Singer Buscemi. How many times can I say Buscemi in this month’s post?? – 6.5/10

Monster House – This is one of those where I remember really liking it at the time but, on a rewatch, it’s not as good as I remembered. The animation just isn’t good enough compared to films we’ve had since. But, hey – Steve Buscemi is in it! I said Buscemi again! Am sure that will be part of the reason why I liked it at the time. It’s still a decent family movie, though, and was worth the rewatch. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN OCTOBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

I didn’t make note of anything here in October but I think season 2 of The Mandalorian started in October?? Well, as I’m now writing this in December I’ve already seen the final episode. Oh. My. God. I’m not sure I can even put into words how much I absolutely loved it. Guess I’ll have to try in my December post! As for episode 1 in October, it was great with an exciting glimpse at the end of the episode. A very strong start to an absolutely brilliant series.

BOOKS READ

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Not going to do some in-depth review of this. I’m not exactly qualified when I stick mainly to Stephen King & YA novels! Yes, Frankenstein is an all-time classic and I really liked reading the full story as I only knew some bits & pieces from film adaptations. The story is actually quite different from interpretations I’ve seen. But was it a fun read for me? Not gonna lie – reading a book written in 1818 was a challenge. Took me ages to read it but, hey, I can’t afford the newest Stephen King book so had to read something. Brilliant story, I love that it was written by an 18-year-old girl, and Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t as innocent as adaptations had led me to believe. It’s a great novel but reading it was a bit of a slog. – 4/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Am hoping to post my November roundup before the end of the year & then my December roundup & year-end top ten lists in early January. Want to continue only these monthly posts in 2021 but need to find a way to make them shorter. Maybe I need to watch fewer movies… Less to have to write about that way! 🙂

Guess the song I should end with for this roundup is Pure Imagination…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2020

Looks like June was the month when I watched some actual “new releases”. Must admit I’m missing my pretty-much-weekly trip to the cinema but I have no plans on going back to one anytime soon. So I better get used to crappy straight-to-Netflix movies…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Okay, I’m not going to pretend this is in any way a good movie. But I quite liked it. Am I just desperate for new releases?! I have to say that I can’t imagine Americans enjoying this movie in the same way. I think you have to see the real Eurovision every year to fully appreciate just how delightfully cheesy & ridiculous it is. It’s especially entertaining to live in the UK & watch the UK entry get almost no votes every year because all the other countries hate the UK (there’s a joke about this in the movie that gave us a good laugh).

I think this movie did the real contest justice. It seems like your usual over-the-top Will Ferrell comedy but, honestly, he hasn’t really exaggerated what the show is like. Ferrell is a big fan of Eurovision and I think the movie manages to show his love for it while at the same time lovingly making fun of it. In the end, it’s a sweet story and the final half of the movie makes up for a slow start. And, hell, the songs are pretty good! Maybe a little too good. Much better than most the shit in the real Eurovision. Ferrell is goofy as always (his films are hit or miss for me) and Dan Stevens & Pierce Brosnan are fun additions but I think Rachel McAdams is the best thing about the movie. Her more subtle comedy works well with Ferrell’s usual craziness (liked her in Game Night too). The movie is silly & it won’t be winning any Oscars but it’s one of the first-time watches from all of lockdown that I enjoyed the most. Jaja Ding Dong! – 7/10

The Vast Of Night – I really liked this movie as well, although I wanted to like it even more as I think they did a great job with it. I respect it. I always appreciate a good low-budget sci-fi where you can tell that the filmmakers have truly put their hearts into making the movie. Let’s give them credit: This movie was written by Andrew Patterson (under the pseudonym of James Montague) & Craig W Sanger. Based on this, I’d love to see what sort of a big budget film they could make in this genre. But, to be fair, the slow-paced low-budget indie-movie style perfectly suits this innocent 1950’s small American town setting. I don’t think a big, glossy Hollywood movie would have captured this town in the same way. I think I’m also a fan of “small town Americana” movies as I grew up in such a small town myself.

I thought they especially did a good job adding all the small details to make this one feel like it really was taking place in the 1950s. I have a lot of affection for that time period and that whole “UFO paranoia” thing as I grew up on the original The Twilight Zone. The movie is clearly influenced by that & introduces the story in a Rod Serling/Twilight Zone way that gave me warm fuzzies. I do think this is a very well made indie sci-fi with two strong main characters but also know it’s absolutely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb if you’re interested: “In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, young switchboard operator Fay and charismatic radio DJ Everett discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.” FYI: This movie is on Amazon Prime. I highly recommend this movie to old school ’50s sci-fi fans. But probably only to those people. It’s a shame the film may not get as much recognition due to being such a specific sub genre.

Also a quick mention of another good low-budget movie this reminded me of (not sure why) but in the horror genre: Pontypool. Bizarre movie but a great concept. It just gave me a similar vibe, but The Vast Of Night is a better film. I’m happy I happened to see TVON mentioned on Twitter (by Robert Englund – What?! Freddy Krueger?!?). Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known about it. Thanks, Freddy! – 7/10

Extraction – Not gonna lie: I 100% watched this for Chris Hemsworth. This isn’t my type of genre AT ALL so I wouldn’t have bothered if hottie Chris wasn’t in it. However, even though I don’t like this genre, I occasionally like the movies if they’re good enough. The likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger & Sylvester Stallone made plenty of this type of thing in my precious ’80s & I definitely liked some of those. But Extraction isn’t good enough. It’s… Forgettable. As in: I saw this only two months ago but don’t remember enough to write about it. Um… I think I remember Chris, like, sitting at the bottom of a lake & meditating (as you do)? And I remember the boy being likeable enough for you to want The Hems to save him. And I remember a ridiculous final scene (that I kind of liked as I thought this movie needed to be MORE ridiculous than it actually was – it would have made it more fun). Meh. At least I got to watch Chris Hemsworth in a new movie. – 6/10

My Spy – I shouldn’t be “reviewing” this as I slept through a good chuck of it. But it was so predictably predictable that sleeping through some of it made no difference. Anyway – I don’t know why but I’ve seen a lot of this weird genre (tough action movie guy doing a family film with a bunch of kids). When did this become a thing?? Because I kind of like these stupid films. I blame that on Kindergarten Cop. Kindergarten Cop rules. All I expect from these films is for them to have a few laughs, to have a cheesy heartwarming moment, and for the kid(s) to be somewhat likeable (or at least cheeky without being overly annoying). This movie fulfils the requirements well enough. Dave Bautista is fine as the latest big muscle-y dude to do this sort of film but the girl, Chloe Coleman, is the star. I can see her easily getting more roles after this. This movie is meh but at the better end of this genre. Not as good as Kindergarten Cop but thankfully much better than Tooth Fairy… – 6/10

As Above, So Below – This was disappointing. I have a fascination with the catacombs in Paris. I’ve been there and walking through row upon row of skulls & bones is a pretty freaky experience so I can see why it has inspired horror movies. But they have yet to make a good horror movie set there. There was a truly dreadful 2007 movie called Catacombs, starring Shannyn Sossamon & Pink, that I would never recommend to anyone. I actually bought that stupid DVD just because I’d been wanting a horror movie to be set in the catacombs. From what I remember, though, it did at least manage to be a little creepy.

As Above, So Below is certainly the better film of the two but it’s such a weird mishmash of genres that it just didn’t work for me. And it’s not creepy enough. I think a movie with this setting needs to be pure horror but this movie had a sort of Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider thing mixed in with the horror. And then some weird supernatural stuff which is something I normally love but was just too dumb in this case. And the characters were okay but extremely underdeveloped while our lead girl was a tad unlikeable (although the actress was fine). Oh, it’s also a “found footage” film, which not everyone likes (I don’t mind found footage). Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It is presented as found footage of a documentary crew’s experience exploring the Catacombs of Paris and was loosely based on the seven layers of Hell.” Oh yeah – there’s some weird religious stuff going on & ancient artefacts & that kind of shit. I wanted to like this movie but the weird Lara Croft thing going on with the main girl was just awkward. I guess I was expecting a more straightforward horror film but I also give the movie credit for trying to do something a little different. – 5.5/10

Rewatched:

The Wedding Singer – This is a favorite of mine & by far Adam Sandler’s best movie. I know he has a lot of bad ones but The Wedding Singer is genuinely good. And he has great chemistry with Drew Barrymore (love her). I mean, my username comes from this movie. Still think I was brave to use an Adam Sandler reference on a movie blog! I obviously like this movie even more because of Drew but the ’80s setting & great soundtrack help a lot as well. Steve Buscemi is hilarious. Rapping granny is adorable. And don’t you talk to Billy Idol that way! Plus I’ll always love the mutants at table 9. – 8/10

Never Been Kissed – More Drew Barrymore! Rewatched this one with the kid. I’ve always found this movie very “sweet”. And Josie Grossy is still fun to say. And Michael Vartan was a cute “hot teacher”. And I like the ending because I DO occasionally like girly romantic stuff. – 7.5/10

Turner & Hooch – Rewatched this with the kid as well. It’s a fun family film & I miss the days when they made so many films in this genre. Where have all the decent family films gone?! Anyway – the movie has aged pretty well. I still love a good “dog buddy” comedy. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

MUSIC LISTENED TO

I’ve listened to no “new” music the past couple of months… Can anyone recommend a good new album??? Or, better yet, a good old album since 90% of current music sucks? I’m bored.

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – As I’ve said in every recent post, it took me months to read this but I finally finished in June. I said I’d review it in my June post but… I can’t do it! How the hell do you go about reviewing Dune?? It’s a loooong book and a lot happens. I enjoyed it very much, yes, but not enough to read the rest of the books (which I’ve heard aren’t as good anyway). I’m really looking forward to the Denis Villeneuve adaptation now, though, as I love his films. I’m especially wanting to see how Rebecca Ferguson does as Lady Jessica as she was my favorite character. I think she should do well as I thought she was great in Doctor Sleep. By the way – Lady Jessica kicks ass (for those wanting more strong female characters in books & film). Oh, and apparently the film is only covering half of this first book?? Bloody hell. Well, I don’t have time to continue reading these tomes but do like the story so am hoping for an epic series of films from Villeneuve. – 4/5

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman – This was a strange one. I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the movie adaptation!). But I was absolutely blown away by his short story included at the end of that book (Ghastle And Yule). It was brilliant. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author to tell him that (I never really tweet “celebs” because that feels stalker-y & weird). But I think he appreciated the praise. Here’s the synopsis for Black Mad Wheel from Amazon, which sounded amazing so is why I chose it as the next book of his to read: “The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

A creepy supernatural story about a rock band? Totally my type of thing! I wanted to like this one more than I did, however. Only Philip Tonka, the band’s front man, gets any character development. The story also doesn’t give much of a resolution if that sort of thing bothers you (I don’t mind that so much, especially with supernatural stories, as I like to sometimes have things left to my own imagination). What the story does have, though, is a lot of originality. It also has a good “vibe”. I don’t know how else to describe that but, especially with his Ghastle And Yule short story, I felt like I was there & could easily picture everything that was happening. Based on what I’ve read of Malerman’s so far, I’ll definitely be reading more. His stories are unusual & completely unpredictable. I like that. I need more of that. I just want to like his characters a bit more. Likeable characters are always a big thing for me. By the end of Bird Box, I still didn’t like the main character. I want to care about the fate of at least one character… (I should point out that Ghastle And Yule aren’t likeable either but they’re not meant to be. They’re just great characters). – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

It looks like I watched no TV in June other than catching up on the latest season of annoying Grey’s Anatomy. Ugh.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’ll hopefully post my July roundup post by the end of August. Then post my August roundup in September. I have no blog plans beyond doing monthly roundup posts. Life is too busy at the moment, even with being stuck at home.

I should end this post with a song from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. But I’d rather post one from The Wedding Singer soundtrack. Woohoo! Eighties!! Here’s Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2020

Hi again. Hope everyone is still safe & well. I’ve managed to put another post together, this time looking back at what I watched, read & listened to way back in April…

MOVIES WATCHED IN APRIL (ranked best to worst):

Crimson Peak – I do love a gothic horror and, while none of Guillermo del Toro’s films are personal favorites of mine, I did like The Shape Of Water & think Pan’s Labyrinth is a brilliant & visually stunning film. So I’m not sure what took me so long to check out Crimson Peak as it’s the type of thing I enjoy. And I did definitely enjoy it despite it not being perfect. The story is fine but the atmosphere & the look are what I care about in this type of film and Crimson Peak didn’t disappoint in that department. Loved that creepy dilapidated mansion! I couldn’t find many great images to use for this post but that could be because the movie is quite dark & still images don’t do it justice. I have to say the most disappointing thing in this film are its stars. I’ve never liked Jessica Chastain’s acting & she was as bad as always. I also find Tom Hiddleston a bit bland, although his character was okay, and I’ll never get why Mia Wasikowska became so big when she’s so boring (although this role was perfect for her, so I didn’t mind her in this). But I don’t care that much about who stars in a movie, although it’s an added bonus when it’s actors I do really like. So the stars didn’t ruin this film for me anyway. It’s a pretty straightforward ghost story and a tad predictable but it’s still a solid “haunted house” film with some great imagery. Overall, though, it’s disappointing compared to Guillermo del Toro’s other films. But we can’t expect Pan’s Labyrinth every time. – 7/10

Dreamgirls – Not sure why I missed this one when it was out. I really liked this & Jennifer Hudson was worthy of her Oscar. I didn’t know anything whatsoever about the musical & didn’t think I knew any of the songs but it turns out that I did know And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going. Good song but those reality show contestants sing it too often! But I suppose that’s okay since it’s how Hudson became famous. Anyway, I love the Motown era and thought this was a really good look at that ’60s into ’70s time period and the rise to fame of a girl group very clearly meant to resemble The Supremes. The songs were good & it was fun hearing ones so closely resembling acts such as The Jackson 5. I have to say that the movie isn’t exactly deep but the characters are good & it’s an enjoyable film. Definitely recommend it to music lovers and anyone interested in a lightweight fictional look at the Motown record industry. It made me want to watch a good documentary about Motown. – 7/10

Captain Fantastic – Enjoyed this as well, although I have to be in the right kind of mood for “quirky indie drama with good performances”. I often like these type of films but sometimes I absolutely hate them & find them phoney & pretentious. Captain Fantastic is a good film & Viggo Mortensen was deserving of his Best Actor Oscar nomination. As with most movies like this, I couldn’t in any way relate to these characters with a very different sort of lifestyle but the film did well in making you care about them and wanting the best possible life for them. The question is what is the best possible life for them? Not everyone has the same values, goals & dreams. I admit this movie is deserving of a much higher rating than I’m giving it. It’s a very good film (it’s certainly better than Crimson Peak) but it’s a bit too “drama” for me. I like my quirky indie dramas to have a touch more comedy as well. Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, The Way Way Back, etc etc. Think I had that expectation for Captain Fantastic for some reason. But as I said – Very good film & performances. I recommend it if this genre is your type of thing. – 7/10

Blinded By The Light – It’s very hard to not compare this film to the other 2019 British feelgood movie written around another band/singer and their songs (Yesterday, in which a guy wakes up to find he’s the only person with any memory of The Beatles and their music). Not gonna lie – I’m not a fan of Bruce Springsteen’s music at all while I absolutely love The Beatles (top ten here), so I was of course going to enjoy Yesterday much more than Blinded By The Light (and I prefer Manfred Mann’s version of that song – Sorry, Bruce!).

Which film is actually better? It’s hard to say. Yesterday was very flawed and completely failed to explore the complexities of its ambitious idea but I really liked it anyway. I like a good story and Yesterday had such a brilliant idea of exploring an alternate universe in which The Beatles never existed. As I watch so many movies, I get bored with seeing the same predictable stories over & over again so Yesterday was a treat even if it didn’t quite do its brilliant idea justice.

Blinded By The Light is indeed a feelgood film. I enjoyed it & think lovers of Springsteen would all very much enjoy it as well. But the film doesn’t feel like anything we’ve not seen before. Quirky feelgood indie movies are as predictable as quirky indie dramas. I wanted to like this movie more as it’s very “sweet” and god knows feelgood films are badly needed with the world being so shit at the moment. But, while it put a smile on my face while watching it, I can’t say it’s one that I’ll remember that well in a year. Again, it’s a good film for its genre but I’ve just seen too much of this genre… Sorry! I feel bad for not liking it more.

I should point out that it’s a true story, which is great. Here’s what Wikipedia says about that: “It was inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his love of the works of Bruce Springsteen. Manzoor co-wrote the script, with Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. It is based on Manzoor’s 2007 memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll.” I like the true story & Manzoor seems like a nice guy and I can totally relate to being moved by music. I feel that way about music & movies. I can’t imagine life without them and this film helps show just how important art can be to people. Art can literally change a person’s life. This is a well-written film with a good story & likeable characters. I do wonder how much more I’d like it if it was based around an artist I love in the same way that Manzoor loves Springsteen. – 7/10

Boy – More quirky indie drama stuff! This one has more comedy thrown in, though. So it’s a quirky indie dramedy. It was a struggle to know how to rank all the movies I saw in April. I realise I’ve given my most common “good but didn’t blow me away” rating of 7/10 to the majority this month. The rankings don’t really matter but Boy is probably a better film than Blinded By The Light while Crimson Peak is admittedly probably the “worst” of the 7/10 films. But I rank on personal enjoyment. If you like quirky indie dramedy & Taika Waititi’s humor, you’ll like Boy. Like Jojo Rabbit, the kid actors are the best thing about the film (especially James Rolleston as Boy). Waititi plays the very unsympathetic father who suddenly come back into his kids’ lives. He’s funny as usual but also an asshole (you’re meant to feel this way about him, though). I of course appreciated that this was set in 1984 & it was cute that Boy was a big Michael Jackson fan. I also always appreciate a good coming of age film and likeable characters such as Boy and his little brother Rocky. It’s worth watching to see earlier work from Waititi. It’s probably most similar to Hunt For The Wilderpeople so I think you’ll like Boy of you liked that. I think I actually prefer Boy to that one. – 7/10

Rise Of The Guardians – I have to admit that I’m always a bit snobby about DreamWorks films. In comparison to Disney and especially Pixar & Studio Ghibli, DreamWorks’ films are just not as good (in my opinion, at least). I don’t like Shrek or How To Train Your Dragon to the degree that others do (Kung Fu Panda is probably my favorite, although I have yet to see Abominable which I did like the look of). So it may be because I went in with low expectations but I enjoyed Rise Of The Guardians. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still not as good as the output from those other studios but I liked the story as it felt quite original & having the connection to all the different holidays via Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, etc, was fun. But, meh, whatever. It’s still not going to be a favorite animated film. Like most DreamWorks movies, it’s a “one-time-watch” for me. – 7/10

Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨) (Chinjeolhan geumjassi) – I like a revenge movie & am a fan of quite a few South Korean films so expected to really like this one. I was very disappointed. Then again, I absolutely hated Park Chan-wook’s 2nd film in this “Vengeance Trilogy”, so I don’t know why I expected to like this one. Lady Vengeance is the third film, with Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance being the first & that nasty Oldboy being the second. I definitely far preferred this to Oldboy, however, and liked the main character, Lee Geum-ja. From Wikipedia, the movie is about “a woman released from prison after serving the sentence for a murder she did not commit. The film tells her story of revenge against the real murderer“. The story was a decent enough revenge story but, as with Park Chan-wook’s other films I’ve seen, the characters are hard to like (although Lee Geum-ja is a far more sympathetic character than Oldboy dude). And her red eyeshadow was cool. I’d look like shit in red eyeshadow. Anyway, the film was okay. I was just hoping for it to be a bit better than it was… – 6.5/10

Three Identical Strangers – This was a fascinating documentary about triplets who were separated at birth & adopted by different families. They and their adoptive families were unaware of the other siblings. The story of how they later discovered each other was also great so I won’t spoil that here. Then, when you think this true story can’t get any more crazy, it goes in a completely unexpected direction. I don’t know why but I have to force myself to watch documentaries even though there are some great ones. This is a really good one & deserves a higher rating but I just enjoy fictional movies more. Weird, I know. But this story is almost stranger than fiction & I recommend it to the many people who do love good documentaries. Oh – the triplets got quite famous when their story first came out & it got them a cameo ogling Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan… (below) – 6.5/10

The Sun Is Also A Star – I read & liked this YA book by Nicola Yoon (my book review is HERE). It wasn’t exactly anything new and I read way too much YA but, whatever – it was an enjoyable enough read. The movie adaptation was pretty faithful. Except for the ending! Why do they change stuff?? Well, I guess the changed ending was okay. Also, they managed to make the girl a bit more likeable in the movie (she was kind of bitchy in the book). Meh. If you like YA romance, you’ll like this just fine. But as (almost) always, the book is better. – 6.5/10

Anna – Yeah, this movie is fucking ridiculous. And kind of creepy pervy (as to be expected from Luc Besson). I love how only gorgeous women can be spies in movies. And how they have to do a bunch of fighting in sexy heels & stockings. Surely it’s easier to kick ass in appropriate clothing?! And how they have to fuck everyone (in this movie, at least – fuck the good guy, fuck the bad guy, fuck the other sexy female model because of course our sexy spy is so sexy that she has to go undercover as a model…). So if you like sexy spy chick movies with lots of fucking, you’ll like this. Is it the best of this genre? Hell no! But it’s certainly not the worst either. It was far more enjoyable than that idiotic Red Sparrow movie and probably a bit better than Atomic Blonde (which was also fucking ridiculous but I kind of liked). Overall, I guess I kind of liked this one too. It was helped by the fact that Helen Mirren was in it. The original saucy minx! – 6.5/10

Isn’t It Romantic – What can I say? It was the start of lockdown & I watched any old shit in April. And this one ended up not being too bad. At least the idea behind it was fun. From Wikipedia: “The film stars Rebel Wilson as a woman who finds herself in a world where everything around her plays out like a clichéd PG-13 romantic comedy“. I liked the nods to those guilty pleasure chick flicks, like how Wilson wears the same outfit as Julia Roberts does in Pretty Woman (above). And, although not nearly as hot as brother Chris, Liam Hemsworth is a cutie. It won’t change your life but it’s a decent enough lazy Sunday afternoon romantic comedy. – 6/10

Dark Skies – This was fine for a horror about aliens. We’ve not had a horror movie involving aliens experimenting on us in a while. This sub genre was a big thing at one point! I’ve always found the alien abduction movies pretty effectively creepy & thought this movie was an okay example of this type of film. Maybe I liked it as the whole alien abduction thing really scared me as a young kid. I honestly thought I’d be abducted & experimented on. Seriously. I think I watched way too much old sci-fi and original Twilight Zone episodes as a kid. I also like Keri Russell as an actress (love the film Waitress). The family were likeable (as far as horror movies go – it’s not the best genre for character development) & the story was fine & it was fairly creepy. Good enough. – 6/10

Rock Of Ages – Ugh. I fucking hated this. I’m probably being way too harsh on it since I guess it’s not the worst movie ever. But holy fuck is it cheesy!!! Okay, I was a teenager in the ’80s into early ’90s so I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t listen to Guns N’ Roses, Poison, Skid Row, Def Leppard, etc etc etc. All that cheesy hair metal! I liked all of it. But I feel the need to clarify that I preferred stuff like Metallica, Anthrax, AC/DC & Led Zeppelin at that same time, so don’t judge & assume that I only liked the more poppy hair metal like a lot of girls back then. The uglier the band, the better the actual music! 😉

Where was I?! Reminiscing. Man I feel so old now. So, yes, this music is seen as being very cheesy now & I admittedly haven’t listened to much of it since then whereas I still listen to stuff like Black Sabbath & Metallica. But it was accepted at the time and, let’s be honest, it seems damn good compared to the mainstream shit on the radio in 2020. But, while this music was very mainstream & most of the bands were too “pretty” to be fully taken seriously, they all lived that rock lifestyle to the fullest. God, the disgusting stories that Mötley Crüe must be able to tell! Sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what I expect from these bands. This film sucks all of the life out of these bands & how they lived. It pretends to have characters living that lifestyle, especially the ridiculously stupid Tom Cruise character, while the cast sing dreadful Glee-inspired versions of songs I once liked. I suppose I was expecting a fun look at that era but it instead felt like this was made by kids who didn’t live through that time. So I looked it up and the writers are the same sort of age as me. Really?! That’s surprising, as the movie doesn’t capture a love for that era and instead comes across as phoney. So, yeah – I wasn’t a fan of this film. Obviously. – 4.5/10

Rewatched:

Lady And The Tramp – Disney classic. Puppy Lady is adorable. The spaghetti scene rules. The Siamese cats are bitches. Not the best Disney film but that’s only because there are SO MANY great Disney films. Probably still within my Top 20. Oh yeah – I ranked the Disney films years ago on this blog (here). That’s so out of date! I think I’d change some now. I should update that sometime. Anyway, it looks like I ranked Lady And The Tramp at 14. – 8/10

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I’ve linked my original review so don’t need to say much other than that I like these films (although this & the first one are much better than the final two). – 7.5/10

Yellow Submarine – Love this psychedelic weirdness! And I love The Beatles (as I mentioned in the Blinded By The Light review above). So I of course enjoy the music in this. I’ve always liked the imagery in this one as well. Fun animation & great music & weird as shit movie. They had great drugs in the ’60s. Nothing interesting gets made anymore. – 7.5/10

The Terminal – Rewatched this one as a family. The hubby has always really liked this movie (not sure why). Anyway, Tom Hanks is good as always and the story is unique. I always knew it was inspired by a true story but, holy shit, I just looked it up and the real guy lived in the airport for 18 years!!! That’s crazy. This is a fun, feelgood movie and Stanley Tucci is a total asshole in it. I still don’t understand why his character was so mean to Hanks! – 7/10

Just Go With It – So, yeah, my daughter is liking the silliness of the Adam Sandler movies so I’ve rewatched a lot of his stuff in the past year. This one is certainly not one of his best but at least it’s far better than his very worst (he does have some very bad ones!). This one is… Meh. He always has better chemistry with Drew Barrymore than with Jennifer Aniston. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor II – I really liked the first EP, which I reviewed here, so was looking forward to the second EP coming out. Enjoyed Part II as well but Simmer is still by far the best song.

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – I started reading this in March & it took me months to finish as I just wasn’t able to concentrate on anything at that time. Liked it, though. I’ll maybe try to review it in my June roundup post, as I think that’s when I finally finished it…

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Mandalorian – I’m not going to say much about this show as I’ll just ramble on forever. I adore this show (yes, The Child is THE reason why I love it so much). The Child is the pinnacle of cuteness. Nothing will top “Baby Yoda”. But, damn, it’s such a good show. It’s better than the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It’s made me like Star Wars again (not that I stopped, but I did find the recent films disappointing). And the score by Ludwig Göransson is BRILLIANT. Love it. And the artwork during the credits! Love everything about this show so far. I don’t have a bad thing to say about it.

The Golden Girls – I can’t even begin to tell you just HOW MUCH I loved watching this on Channel 5 during my working-from-home lunch breaks through lockdown. Seriously, it was the highlight of each weekday! And the show has aged well, to be honest. It’s still funny as hell. Love it and still love these ladies. Protect Betty White forever! But Channel 5 only aired 4 seasons. I’m still pissed off about that. Show the rest, Channel 5! Please!!!

The Masked Singer US – God this show was cheesy & stupid but also kind of… entertaining, I guess. I watched the U.K. one too. I was rubbish at guessing who anyone was. At least I’d heard of most of the stars in the U.S. one (except the sports stars). They really scraped the bottom of the barrel for the U.K. one! I’m not posting an image from this stupid show. Here’s The Mandalorian again…

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

I’m hoping to post the rest of my monthly roundup posts for May, June & July… If I get around to writing them.

Let’s listen to Ludwig Göransson’s awesome theme music for The Mandalorian:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2020

Hi all. Hope everyone is well & keeping safe.

I haven’t posted any of these monthly updates since February. Obviously, it all seems a bit pointless at the moment. I’m not watching many “new to me” films anyway since I seem to be sticking with movies I’ve already seen & know that I like or think the kid would like. I’ve still kept these monthly lists in my drafts, though, so I might as well catch up on posting them. I’ll keep my thoughts brief (I can’t remember much after five months anyway). Here’s what I watched & read back in March 2020…

MOVIES REVIEWED IN MARCH

Onward – Last film I watched in the cinema. I reviewed it in full at the link. Enjoyed it but a weak entry from Pixar. – 7/10

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst)

This Boy’s Life – Been wanting to check this out for years to see the performances from Robert De Niro & a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Actually didn’t know beforehand that it was about author Tobias Wolff (played by DiCaprio). I then thought “Oh, I read his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test!” But, never mind, that was written by Tom Wolfe. I know nothing about Tobias Wolff (except that his stepdad, played by De Niro, was a bit of an asshole). Well, they both delivered the expected good performances but biographical dramas have never really been my thing. It’s a good film but not one I’d watch again. – 7/10

Four Flies On Grey Velvet (4 mosche di velluto grigio) – Was excited to see this Dario Argento film available on Amazon Prime as I’ve been wanting to explore more of the Italian giallo horror thing since finding Phenomena interesting then thinking Deep Red was pretty damn great. Was super disappointed that Four Flies was only available dubbed in English. Argh! I hate when films are dubbed. It’s distracting & definitely ruins the film but, meh – I was in lockdown so I watched it anyway. It’s certainly nowhere near the level of Deep Red or Suspiria. As usual, there was some imagery I liked (like that doll thing up there – I love a creepy doll thing & Argento clearly does too). Shit, I dunno – I remember almost nothing about this five months later whereas I remember all of Deep Red plus its brilliant score. At least the story was ALMOST coherent in Four Flies, which I can’t say for all of Argento’s stuff (especially Inferno, which is later in this list). It also had a truly silly but fun way in which the killer got discovered so I guess I’ll give it an extra point for that. But if you’re new to Argento just watch Deep Red, which is his most accessible film. – 6.5/10

All The Bright Places – I liked this YA novel a lot. I admit I read waaaaaay too many YA books but this was definitely one of my favorites when it comes to the romance/drama side of the genre. It had very strong characters & it left me feeling emotionally drained in a way that many YA books don’t manage as so many of them feel a bit shallow. So I highly recommend the book to fans of YA along the lines of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, etc. The film adaptation, though? Meh. Disappointing. I didn’t feel they captured the characters at all, especially the boy & it was extremely important to get him right. You can feel his pain & desperation in the book but the film character left me a bit cold. To be fair, I don’t think this is the actor’s fault as he’s such a complex character that they never would have been able to bring to the screen in the same way. Overall, it’s an okay film so I’m sure people like it but I know just how good the book is so I’m hoping people will read the book first. Then, yes, it’s worth seeing the adaptation afterwards if you’re interested. – 6.5/10

Dark Shadows – This was the ONLY Tim Burton-directed film I’d not seen so I finally checked it out. Ugh. I suppose I should update my Tim Burton Movie Rankings HERE but I’m too lazy at the moment. It’s probably second or third to last anyway. What a huge disappointment, especially after it started out okay. Then it all went to shit in the final third. I did enjoy the ensemble cast, though – I do love Michelle Pfeiffer & am happy that (I think?) we’re allowed to like Johnny Depp again (Are we?! Hard to keep track these days). Alice Cooper was also in this (as Alice Cooper). So, bonus points for that since I love Cooper (even though the cameo was stupid and felt forced into the story – it worked much better in Wayne’s World!). The story was just messy and the characters were hateful. Eva Green is sexy but her psycho slut character was just dumb. Meh. Whatever. I’ll give it an okay score since, as I said, it started out okay plus it had some style, as to be expected from Burton. And Alice Cooper is in it. – 6/10

Inferno (1980) – Again, I was excited to see a Dario Argento film was going to be showing on TV on Film4. I don’t have a way to record anymore so, as it was the start of lockdown & everything was shit, I was determined to stay up to watch this at its 1:30am showtime. Not worth it!! Damn. First of all, this was ALSO dubbed. What? Why?? Let’s be honest – only proper film nerds are gonna watch foreign films in the middle of the night and film nerds want subtitles. So, again, this will have hurt my enjoyment of this one. When I mentioned that Four Flies was somewhat coherent (as far as Argento films go)? Inferno was an incoherent mess. I don’t know what the fuck was going on, but of course it didn’t help that I was exhausted & worried about viruses at that point (well, I still am now). Anyway – I don’t think anyone watches Italian horror for a good story so I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the imagery & bright red blood & supernatural weirdness. Again, there’s some good imagery in this one but not nearly enough to make up for how weak this movie is compared to Suspiria. Here’s a bit about it from Wikipedia: A thematic sequel to Suspiria (1977), the film is the second part of Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy, though it is the first in the trilogy to explore the idea of the Three Mothers. The long-delayed concluding entry, The Mother of Tears, was released in 2007. Yeah, so this is sort of a sequel to Suspiria. Too bad it sucks. But it doesn’t sound as bad as the third film! Released in 2007? I’ll skip that one. Give me good old Seventies/early Eighties horror. At least this one is worth a try if you like Argento’s style as it’s still almost a 70’s film but with a weird ass early 80’s prog score from Keith Emerson. But at least that gives it a cheese-factor that often works for me personally. I kind of hated yet liked the score – I think I’ll add it to my playlist now & I bet it grows on me along with all the other horror scores I like to have creepily playing in the background while I work from home. Give me a Goblin score instead, though! Goblin are a huge part of the reason for Deep Red & Suspiria being the superior Argento films I’ve seen so far. Watch those. Only watch Inferno if you absolutely love Suspiria and want another witchy Argento fix but go in with very low expectations. And don’t watch it dubbed. I’m just too broke to watch films in the way I prefer. – 6/10

Rewatched:

As I said above, a lot of the movies I’ve watched during lockdown have been ones I’ve already seen. Comfort movies, I guess. And some have been ones I’ve wanted to introduce my daughter to, like all the X-Men films (which she LOVED). I better point out that she’s not seen Logan, of course – too violent. I don’t have the energy to write too much about all the re-watches. If I happened to have reviewed them in full in the past, I’ll include the review link.

Jaws – A classic. Still love it but not to the same degree that others my age do. You HAVE to admit it takes a while for this one to pick up. It only becomes truly great once the three guys go out on the boat together. From there, yes, it becomes a brilliant & iconic film. – 8/10

The Hunger Games – I reviewed all but the first Hunger Games film in full as I started this blog just as the first one came out. I should try to review it in full some day as it’s the best of the four (although Catching Fire is very good too). I think these films get some very unfair treatment and it’s likely only because they are part of the YA genre. “Young Adult” is a dirty phrase to people who have become far too judgemental & seem to think art shouldn’t exist for anyone under 25. There’s awful YA & fantastic YA. These books are great reads and the films are very good adaptations while Jennifer Lawrence is perfect as Katniss. Okay, I didn’t like the final book but I think everyone felt the same way about that one. It was a disappointing conclusion. You can’t say it wasn’t well-written, though, and you certainly can’t accuse her of selling out to keep fans happy in the end. It’s a strong series & will be seen as a classic in its genre. And I say this as someone who has also read & loved Battle Royale & its film adaptation. The stories are very different, with The Hunger Games exploring some pretty complex political themes for stories aimed at such a young audience. I actually read Battle Royale after liking that adaptation so much as I wanted a more in-depth look into the reasons why they made those kids kill each other but unfortunately didn’t get much more of an explanation than you get in the movie. So don’t start talking shit about The Hunger Games. For this genre, it’s a very good series. If you don’t like the books or films, it may be because they weren’t written for you. It doesn’t make them bad and, as far as the films go, Lawrence acted her ass off and the characters were far more well-developed & empathetic than in many films – especially Woody Harrelson as Haymitch (why can’t we get his story as a prequel??). – 8/10

Coming To America – Still think this is a pretty damn funny 80’s classic. They don’t make decent fun-but-dumb comedy anymore. Comedy movies are just plain dumb nowadays. – 7/10

50 First Dates – I’m Generation X so I’m not an Adam Sandler hater. It was cool for anyone younger than Gen X to hate Sandler until Uncut Gems. You know what? You’re not allowed to like him if you didn’t like him before Uncut Gems. You can’t suddenly claim him like you tried to claim Keanu Reeves. Reeves is ours and so is Sandler, whether he’s in a good movie or a bad one (and, yes, he’s been in some very BAD ones). Sandler was good in Uncut Gems but it was a thoroughly unenjoyable film. I just wanted it to finish (I really liked Good Time, though, FYI). Give me his “dumb” old comedies instead. The Wedding Singer is great and would probably be more universally loved had it starred someone else (maybe Paul Rudd? He seems acceptable to younger people). I also happen to think Big Daddy & 50 First Dates are good so these are my top three Sandler films. Admittedly, the rest start to go downhill but he’s still had more successful films than many actors, especially in the comedy genre, so he’s clearly doing something right. And I love Drew Barrymore as well & think they’re adorable together in this, The Wedding Singer, and even Blended. Drew is especially sweet in 50 First Dates – she elevates this one quite a bit & is the true star of this film. You keep making films, Adam! I’ll watch them. Even when they suck. Just drag Drew into them when you can – they turn out much better than the ones you do with Jennifer Aniston. – 7/10

Click – Um, Click wasn’t as good. Its heart was in the right place (all about appreciating what you have in life & all that). But the comedy didn’t work as well & got too dumb at times. It also felt like it carried on for too long (too lazy to go check the runtime but it felt too long). However, Christopher Walken was a welcome kooky addition, as he is in everything he’s ever in. So I’ll give it an extra half a point for that. And also for the dog always humping that toy. Sometimes dumb comedy works, such as dogs predictably humping things. – 6/10

MUSIC, BOOKS, TV, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Joe Hisaishi – Dream Songs: The Essential Joe Hisaishi – What can I say? I ADORE Studio Ghibli. But I won’t go into that as I’ve gone on & on about Studio Ghibli so much on this blog. So of course I love this album as so much of it is the music he composed for Ghibli films. He’s a genius. He should be more well known (Well, he’s probably huge in Japan? What do I know!). Special shoutout especially to Hisaishi’s music for My Neighbor Totoro & Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind. Gorgeous. Also my two favorite Ghibli films. The music in a film is very important to me, so it’s probably not a coincidence that they have the best scores as well. He’s to Ghibli what Morricone is to Leone’s films (to me, at least). Perfection.

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream – This is a heavy metal album with each song being about a different horror film. It couldn’t be more perfect for me & my interests & this silly blog! I really like this album, although it’s heavier than the classic type of metal I tend to go for. I just wish I’d known about it last October when I did what will probably be my last ever October Horror Month on this blog. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a proper post on this blog again or if I’ll even post anything else at all after this but this album needs its own specific post. There’s too much to cover, as I’d like to discuss each song as well each of the movies the songs are dedicated to (many of them, such as A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Shining, The Crow & even the not-so-horror Edward Scissorhands being absolute favorite films of mine). So, I’ll make no promises but I’ll try to discuss this album in full sometime. Probably in October while everyone is watching horror movies. I recommend this album to heavy metal horror movie lovers. Thanks to the guy who recommended this album to me! It’s so me. (I thanked him in real life since he’s a real life person – I won’t pretend I discovered this album on my own).

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – I started this at the beginning of lockdown as I obviously wanted to finally read it before the Denis Villeneuve adaptation. It took me several months to finish as I couldn’t concentrate. I did really like it – Life is just very distracting at the moment. I’ll write a bit about it in June’s roundup post, as I think that’s when I finished it.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Like reading books, I’m also finding it hard to concentrate on TV shows at the moment. I’ve still watched only an episode or two of each of these.

Locke & Key – Love Joe Hill’s books & especially his short story collections. Not read the graphic novel this is based on, however, but the story is intriguing. I’d like to read it first. So far, I’m liking the show but I find it far easier to watch a movie than to try to finish an entire series of something. How on earth do people manage to binge watch an entire show over a weekend?? I feel like I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I’m exhausted.

The Storyteller – This is weird as shit! It’s a Jim Henson show from the late Eighties narrated by the brilliant John Hurt and I’d somehow never heard of it. I watched only one episode (Hans My Hedgehog). It was bizarre & creepy and I’m pretty sure it gave me nightmares that night. I’d forgotten I’d watched this. I want to see the rest.

Parks & Recreation – Watched a couple episodes. It’s just okay? Am I the only person who doesn’t love TV shows from the last 20 years?

The Creeps – Watched a few episodes of this Goosebumps-like show with the kid. I’m a lover of weird & bizarre stories, especially with a twist, and I’m always trying & failing to get her to also fall in love with things like The Twilight Zone. She liked this show okay. Think Black Mirror but for kids. But it’s not great. And it’s certainly no masterpiece like The Twilight Zone.

Love, Death & Robots – Watched two or three episodes. Sounded like the EXACT thing the hubby & I would love (sci-fi & robots!!!). We weren’t impressed. And one episode was so over-the-top gory and unnecessarily sexual. Hubby said something along the lines of how it felt like it was made for horny 13-year-old boys (he’ll say I’ve misquoted him when he reads this). That’s accurate, though. Maybe the other episodes are better but what I’ve seen so far was a bit pathetic. How can they fuck up a show about robots?! Robots are awesome! Dammit.

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

I’ll try to do a weekly post of my monthly roundups for April, May, June & July but I’m making no guarantees.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See (I made this list in February so I’m leaving it here for myself as I’ve still not seen even the ones that did get released. I can’t remember what half of these are now…):

The Invisible Man, Dark Waters, The Hunt, Swallow (looked interesting), VFW (what the heck is this?),The New Mutants (ha! will this ever see the light of day?), The Secret Garden, Trolls World Tour (oh god no – why is this listed?! the first one was bad enough), Antlers, Promising Young Woman (don’t remember this), Dream Horse (nor this), Proxima, Finding The Way Back (nor this), Antebellum (nor this), A Quiet Place Part II (still want to see this as really liked A Quiet Place)

Here’s Joe Hisaishi’s beautiful Path Of The Wind from My Neighbor Totoro:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2019

Happy Almost-End-Of September! Where did August go?! I spent half of it in America & half of it mega busy with work but still managed to watch some movies (Six on airplanes – What the hell else can you do on a plane?!). Here’s what I watched & read in August…

MOVIES IN AUGUST

I saw Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood while in America & Crawl in the UK (links to my reviews are below). I also saw four 2019 UK movie releases on the plane trips so reviewed those in a separate post (also linked below). I’ve done mini-reviews of the rest…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10


Green Book – 7.5/10


Sorry To Bother You – This movie was a little mental but, overall, fairly entertaining. It’s very hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it and also one that’s absolutely impossible to recommend to anyone unless you know their tastes really well. Now, I absolutely love “weird” movies. The problem here is that it’s not weird enough. It’s quite straightforward through most of it – it only suddenly gets weird at the end (think From Dusk Till Dawn). I’d have liked more weirdness. Strangely, it gave me Joe Versus The Volcano vibes, though I have NO idea why (but only during scenes set in the dreary workplace office). It just reminded me that I badly need to rewatch that underrated film… But where was I? I’m getting off track! I have no idea how to review this film. I enjoyed it but it’s one where I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. The strongest thing about it are the characters and I especially liked Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and Steven Yeun (probably because his character Glenn was one of very few characters that I actually liked in The Walking Dead). Oh, and I loved Tessa Thompson’s funky earrings and cool sort of 80’s style. How did I not even realize that the smarmy guy was Armie Hammer? He just has such a nondescript smarmy face. Well, I liked this movie as a one-time watch and won’t forget it. It wasn’t perfect and didn’t fully work for me but it’s the kind of indie movie I’d like to see more of: Creative & highly original instead of just boring navel-gazing and hateful characters (I’m looking at you, Eighth Grade movie!). – 7/10


The Hate U Give – This was a fairly decent look at a very serious issue, albeit from a very YA perspective. I’d been thinking about reading the Young Adult novel first but never got around to it, so I can only judge this based on the movie itself. It’s certainly no Boyz N The Hood but I see no problem with raising awareness by aiming a story at a slightly younger audience. Amandla Stenberg is good – I enjoyed her in The Hunger Games & Everything, Everything (she’s certainly in some of the biggest YA stuff!). Other than her character, though, I’d say a lot of the others were a bit one-dimensional (especially her annoying school friend). I don’t mean to sound too down on this one as it’s a pretty good film but it does suffer a little bit from the YA feel and a slightly too perfect “things might be okay” sort of ending. But not everything has to be gritty – it’s good if this movie has given a more mainstream audience an insight into this issue. – 7/10


Bad Times At The El Royale – Well, this was an odd one and not quite what I was expecting. I’d been super annoyed at missing this after loving the look of a skinny, shirtless, Jesus-looking Chris Hemsworth in the trailers. Just FYI if you’re wanting shirtless Hemsworth – he doesn’t show up until an hour into the movie and his character is extremely hateful. Damn – how can you make someone as loveable as Chris play someone hateful?! I did like the strange atmosphere to this film and the 60’s setting and the mysterious & creepy hotel but the strangers’ stories were a mess and didn’t seem to have any sort of point. You also certainly aren’t made to care about any of them, other than maybe the two characters played by Jeff Bridges & Cynthia Erivo, who are the true standouts of this film and by far the best things about it. Dakota Johnson is as underwhelming as always and, as I said, can we not make Hemsworth a bad guy ever again? I love him but, honestly – it didn’t work. Sorry, Chris! It was completely unbelievable. Overall, I did like that this movie felt a little bit unique and thought Bridges and Erivo were great together and fun to watch but, man – the movie is just kind of a mess. – 6.5/10


Crawl – 6.5/10


Instant Family – 6.5/10


Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 6.5/10


Mortal Engines – Look! Yet another adaptation of a dystopian YA novel! Hey, I’m not exactly complaining since dystopian YA is a huge guilty pleasure genre of mine but I think the general public has had enough of it. I did read this book (mini-review here) and really enjoyed it but it was mainly because I loved the bizarre concept. Basically, the cities in this dystopian future are on wheels and go around devouring smaller cities (I suppose there’s some sort of political message there). The characters could’ve been stronger but the story was enough fun that I didn’t care too much. Well, shit – this movie was pretty terrible but I can’t explain why as, from what I remember, it’s a fairly faithful adaptation. I was just bored. It should’ve been Mad Max: Fury Road levels of craziness but it was bland and the characters were so underdeveloped and uninteresting, although that was a fault with the book as well. They also shifted the focus onto the girl in the film, which is fine, but it meant they spent far too little time on the boy who’s the main character in the book. By the way, the girl is also WAY more disfigured in the book so they really did try to make her “Hollywood pretty” in the film. It’s just a surprisingly forgettable movie for one with such a nutso concept and I can’t see this having done well enough to warrant any of the remaining books being adapted. What a shame. If you like the sound of this concept, just watch Howl’s Moving Castle instead. – 5/10


Eighth Grade – 5/10

Re-Watched:

Adventures In Babysitting Yes, I still love this movie. It’s a personal favorite. – 8.5/10

Big Daddy – I don’t care what anyone says about Adam Sandler. Yes, he has some really bad movies but he also has several that I really like. The Wedding Singer is his best by far and I love it but I think Big Daddy is good too and doesn’t get enough credit – It’s definitely one of his better films. I mean, come on – it’s quotable and the kid is cute. “I wipe my own ass! I wipe my own ass!!“. Ha. I love that bit. And we once again get a small Steve Buscemi cameo! It’s not as hilarious as his Wedding Singer cameo but it’s still fun. And it’s even a little bit sweet and heartfelt without being over-the-top saccharine and annoying. Plus, quite frankly, Sandler’s character is likeable in this one. I like this movie. I like Scuba Steve. Screw snobby film critics. – 7/10

The Dark Crystal (1982) – I watched this since the new series was coming up and I’d not seen this in years and honestly couldn’t remember a thing about it. I adored the look of it. Of course! It’s Jim Henson! I’m an 80’s kid so I’m a sucker for his work. This is no Labyrinth, though – I’ll be honest and say that I still far prefer Labyrinth. I might have even snoozed through The Dark Crystal a little bit. Blasphemy, I know! I’m sorry. Maybe I’ll watch it again sometime. I did watch the first episode of the new Netflix series so I’ll try to get back to that when life is a little less hectic. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Shattered by Dean Koontz – Well, as I said I went to America in August so I needed a light & easy read to bring with me. I love Dean Koontz but I have to admit that his novels are usually light & easy reads so he was of course my first choice of author to bring along. Shattered is one of his older books (first published in 1973 under the pseudonym K.R. Dwyer) so it was perfect as it was short since he didn’t get so overly wordy in his older books. Here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia: “Artist Alex Doyle and his new family, bride Courtney and her 11-year-old brother Colin, are moving from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Courtney’s flying out ahead to get the house set up. Alex and Colin are driving there in Alex’s new Ford Thunderbird. The cross-country trip starts out as a bonding experience, but their car is being tailed by a van; a van driven by a psychopath intent on terrorizing them.” This book was perfectly fine. For its short length, the characters were developed well enough (other than the wife, but there’s not much focus on her as she’s not the one being stalked on the journey). She’s a little too perfect & beautiful, though, like most female Koontz characters. My only issue with this book is that it ended way too abruptly. Loads of build-up and then, BOOM, it was over. Huh. Kind of like sex. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Stranger ThingsUm. I can’t, uh, even make it through Season 3 of Stranger Things. I think I have only two or three episodes to go but can’t even be bothered to get back to them. Everyone seemed to love it, though. Are the hubby & I the only ones not feeling Stranger Things anymore?? So disappointing after Season 1 was so enjoyable.

BLOG PLANS FOR SEPTEMBER

Ha! Well, the month is pretty much over. Crap… It’s almost October! I usually do October Horror Month but don’t think I’ll have time. Maybe I’ll try to re-post mini reviews of the many horror movies I’ve watched this year.

September Movies I Want To See:

It Chapter Two – Seen it! Thoroughly enjoyed it. My review is HERE.

Hustlers – Well, I had no interest in this as the thought of watching Cardi B makes me cringe but it’s had such surprisingly good reviews that I just might check it out…

Ad Astra – Sci-fi is my favorite genre and I badly want to see this.

Rambo: Last Blood – Nah! I’m not bothered but thought I should mention that it’s out.

The Farewell – Looks good! Going to try to go this week.

Ready Or Not – Looking forward to this after it got great reviews. Looks a bit fucked-up! I love fucked-up…

The Goldfinch – Shit! Not happy this has had such terrible reviews as I’ve been working my way through the extremely long novel for MONTHS and I’m finally almost finished with the damn thing.

Poms – Looks a bit stupid but the cast is great so I’ll catch this one on Netflix when having a girly night alone.

There was no great music in what I watched in August other than Adventures In Babysitting (which has an awesome soundtrack). Here’s the Iggy Pop song Real Wild Child (Wild One) that’s in the film. Love it.

My Top Ten Adam Sandler Movies

Happy Birthday to Adam Sandler, who turns 50 tomorrow!

Ohh – Controversial list? I know a lot of people hate Adam Sandler. He’s done some very bad movies, yes. I don’t love him & I don’t hate him but I like him okay. He’s from what I consider to be “my” era of Saturday Night Live when I was in my teens & watched it religiously.

As I kind of grew up with Sandler, I liked his movies from that era just fine. But I admit that I just cringe when I see stuff like Jack And Jill being released now…. (No, I’ve not seen that one). Someone stop him!!! Oh well. You know you’d all keep making stuff as long as it was making money. Admit it. He has more money than any of us do! 😉

My number one may already be obvious as my username comes from it. That one stars my favorite actress so it’ll be more because of her than Sandler but that’s the one movie on this list that I do love. None of the rest are all-time favorites but I liked them & don’t think any of these ten are actually bad whereas I do think many of his other movies are. I’m happy to hear from those who want to tell me that they either love or hate Sandler! It’s fun to hear different opinions & I’ll be okay with you hating any of these. Except my number one, of course. 🙂

So here are My Top Ten Adam Sandler Movies, counting down to my favorite:

10. TIE: Happy Gilmore & Punch-Drunk Love

9. Hotel Transylvania

8. Billy Madison

7. Click

6. Airheads

5. Anger Management

4. Blended

3. 50 First Dates

2. Big Daddy

1. The Wedding Singer

Not Seen:

I never saw Funny People, which looks like it could be okay. I’ve not seen quite a few others as well but they don’t strike me as ones that would make my top ten anyway! I’ll watch Blended at some point since Drew Barrymore is in it but it certainly looks like no The Wedding Singer.

I did watch Pixels! I reviewed that HERE. I had some hope for that one but my hopes were crushed. Damn. At least my kid liked it, though, and it got her liking classic video games a lot more. So thanks for that, Adam Sandler!

**List updated March 12th 2017 to add Blended.

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974), San Andreas & Pixels Movie Reviews 

Three quickie reviews today & I mean it. I’m going to try to not ramble on in my reviews anymore. I mainly just like discussing movies with people in the comments so I’m only really here to say whether I liked a film or not & then to hear what others have to say about it.

It’s an odd assortment today but I can tell you that one was really good, one was really bad but fun, and one was just really bad with a great concept it somehow managed to shit all over. I’m sure you can guess which is which…

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Directed by Joseph Sargent

Based on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey

Starring: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this movie. I love movies from the 1970s and was happy when both this & Escape From Alcatraz became available on one of our movie services. Man it’s hard keeping track of which movies are available where, when & how – I know I’m old school but I still kind of prefer just being able to go to a video store. So, anyway – I made the hubby watch them both with me about the same time last year and they were great. Alcatraz was better and I highly recommend that one but Pelham was really good as well. No, I’ve not seen the remake with John Travolta and I don’t plan to.

If you’ve not seen this, imagine Speed set on a subway train in 1974 instead of a bus with attractive people in 1994. So, I guess Walter Matthau is kind of the Keanu Reeves in this. Gotta say I prefer Keanu (he was such a hottie in Speed). Actually, I found Matthau a bit distracting but he was probably the only thing I didn’t really like about this as he just seemed out of place. Robert Shaw was great as one of the hijackers, though! I think I’d only ever seen him in Jaws before this (which he’s AWESOME in). All the hijackers were great & I loved all the drama on the train. The only times the movie dragged a little were when we got away from that action and back to the cops & Matthau’s character dealing with the hostage takers’ ransom demands. Overall, though, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three is a great 70’s action thriller I’d definitely recommend to anyone who is a fan of this sort of genre.

My Rating: 7.5/10

San Andreas (2015)

Directed by Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.

My Opinion:

Ha! This movie was so bad. But it was “fun bad”. It was exactly what I think we’ve all come to expect from these cheesy disaster movies so, therefore, I kind of enjoyed it. It’s utterly ridiculous. Some random people get saved at the last minute, which is supposed to make the audience all cheer while thousands of others are sucked into the Earth to their deaths. Never mind those people as long as a girl with big boobs & a dog get saved! Actually, San Andreas didn’t pull the “save the dog” trick. Damn – I always laugh out loud when the dogs get saved…

Alexandra Daddario wears a shirt over a tight tank top which, conveniently, has to he taken off & used as a bandage or something. I don’t remember. But this is just in time for the coming flood which will see her submerged in water while wearing the tight tank top, of course. She’s ended up with a somewhat dorky boy her age who can’t believe his luck at being in an earthquake with such a babe and his little brother who I realized was Rickon Stark. Then they had to run from the earthquake while Kylie Minogue shot arrows at them. Okay, not really but that would’ve been funny. But Kylie Monogue was seriously in this. WTF? Not for long, though – she falls out of a building. Sorry! That’s not really a spoiler since she’s a bitch & this film follows the disaster movie rules of “If you’re an asshole, you die”. Then Dwayne Johnson dies. HA! Just kidding! Of course he doesn’t. He’s not an asshole – he’s the hero! Can you believe that this is the only Dwayne Johnson movie I’ve ever seen??? Oh yeah – and I totally forgot that Paul Giamatti was in this in a completely pointless role. I guess we all gotta pay the bills, huh? And, let’s see… Dwayne Johnson & Carla Gugino (Alexandra “tight tank top” Daddario’s parents) are divorced because they have a tragic past that tore them apart but now they have to work together to save their daughter and THE END IS A COMPLETE SHOCK THAT I DIDN’T SEE COMING!!!! Lol. Just kidding. Predictable disaster movie bullshit every step of the way. GOOD! That’s exactly what I wanted & this movie delivered. Fun bad! But still very bad… 😉

My Rating: 5.5/10

Pixels (2015)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Based on Pixels by Patrick Jean

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

My Opinion:

When I found out they’d be making a full length movie of the fantastic Pixels short film, I was excited. It’s such an awesome concept & the short is great. What could possibly go wrong, right? Holy shit – how did they manage to mess this film up so completely?! You can watch the (far superior) short film HERE.

I actually don’t hate Adam Sandler like I know a lot of people do. He’s been in plenty of movies that are complete & utter shit but he’s also been in several that I liked okay. He’s from “my” era of SNL and, overall, I don’t really have anything against him. But I worried like hell when I heard that this would be an Adam Sandler film & thought “well, maybe it will have decent writers & he’ll just star in it”. Nope, this is an Adam Sandler movie. It’s not the worst of his worst: it’s one of the “mediocre” Adam Sandler movies. But that’s not what this should’ve been! There was so much potential here to make a decent movie out of that brilliant short and instead they decided to make The Waterboy version of Pixels. Pixels Gilmore! Pixels Madison! Pixels Nicky! You Don’t Mess With The Pixels! I Now Pronounce You Pixels & Larry! 8 (Bit) Crazy Pixels!

This movie was such a massive disappointment. Sandler is actually fine, I guess – he’s far less annoying than the other characters. Kevin James plays the most unbelievable President Of The United States in the history of film. Peter Dinklage is, sadly, just plain embarrassing. Not only did this movie piss all over the short film but it also managed to somewhat destroy one of the greatest Game Of Thrones characters for me! Rickon Stark was better in San Andreas. Oh, and that reminds me: Sean Bean has a small role in this too. How could I forget Ned Stark being in this as well?! Because the movie is forgettable, that’s why. Michelle Monaghan, unsurprisingly, plays Sandler’s usual paint-by-numbers love interest. Q*bert plays a character WHO TALKS. What the @!#?@! That really annoyed me. Wreck-It Ralph got Q*bert right! Wreck-It Ralph got a lot of things right. That movie has really gone up in my opinion over time & Pixels made me appreciate it even more. Watch the Pixels short & watch Wreck-It Ralph. Watch any of the movies in my list of My Top Ten Video Game Movies. Then watch The Wedding Singer if you want to watch an Adam Sandler movie because that one is good. Then, if you really MUST satisfy your curiosity, watch Pixels with extremely low expectations. After all my bitching, I should give this a lower score but I’ve seen movies that are worse and I have to admit that one cool thing came out of watching this: it got my daughter very interested in classic arcade games. That alone made the movie worthwhile but, dammit, I really wish it had been good.

My Rating: 5/10

**The soundtrack for Pixels predictably features songs that you just KNOW Sandler chose from his own collection of personal favorites. The main song featured was Cheap Trick’s Surrender: