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: