My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2018

Here’s my penultimate 2018 Top Ten List (I just wanted to use the word “penultimate”). This is the list I enjoy doing the most each year since I tend to watch more interesting stuff at home than whatever happens to get released in cinemas. I saw some great films at home this year (I love the Top Five). But I also watched WAY too much shit. I especially seem to watch way too many shitty horror films. I think I just keep hoping that one will actually be good but 90% of modern horror sucks so I don’t know why I keep trying. I’m going to try watching more worthy stuff this year!

As I watched so many films in 2018, I’ll make this a Top 30. Any not in the Top 30 were all pretty rubbish anyway. If you desperately want to see the full list of the 150ish (yikes!) movies that I watched in 2018, the full ranked list is HERE.

Here are My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2018 (counting down from 30 but thanks to a tie it’s actually 31. God I’m annoying…)

Top Thirty

30. Elle – 6.5/10
29. Gleaming The Cube – 6.5/10
28. Hidden Figures – 7/10
27. The King’s Speech – 7/10
26. The Seven Year Itch – 7/10
25. Mudbound – 7/10
24. Personal Shopper – 7/10
23. Thief – 7/10
22. What If (aka The F Word) – 7/10
21. Timecrimes – 7/10

Top Twenty

20. Journey To Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) – 7/10
19. Charade – 7/10
18. The Light Between Oceans – 7.5/10
17. Good Time – 7/10
16. The Florida Project – 7/10
15. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – 7.5/10
14. The Rose – 7.5/10
13. Citizen Kane – 7.5/10
12. Brigsby Bear – 7.5/10
11. The Theory Of Everything – 8/10

Top Ten

10. Fist Of Fury – 7.5/10

9. TIE: The Garden Of Words – 7.5/10 & 5 Centimetres Per Second – 7.5/10

8. The Handmaiden – 7.5/10

7. War For The Planet Of The Apes – 8/10

6. Colossal – 8/10

5. Mary And The Witch’s Flower – 7.5/10

4. Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem – 7.5/10

3. Metropolis – 8.5/10

2. Splendor In The Grass – 8.5/10

1. Enter The Dragon – 8.5/10

See you tomorrow with my final Top Ten Of 2018: My Top Ten 2018 Movie Releases (based on UK release dates).

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Mirai (2018) Review

Mirai (2018)
未来のミライ
Mirai no Mirai

Directed & Written by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring: Moka Kamishiraishi, Haru Kuroki, Gen Hoshino, Kumiko Aso, Mitsuo Yoshihara, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Koji Yakusho, Masaharu Fukuyama

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young boy encounters a magical garden which enables him to travel through time and meet his relatives from different eras, with guidance by his younger sister from the future.

My Opinion:

Mirai is the third film I’ve watched from director Mamoru Hosoda after Summer Wars & Wolf Children. Wolf Children remains my favorite by far as it has the most well-developed characters & lovely animation while Summer Wars has a unique story and style. Mirai was a little disappointing in comparison but there’s still a lot to like about it, not least of which was seeing how much my daughter enjoyed it (it’s her favorite movie of the year – I’m raising an anime fan!).

I’m always a big fan of any stories involving time travel so Mirai’s plot certainly appealed to me. The young boy in the story gets to visit relatives in the past, with the help of his newborn sister’s future self, in order to gain a better understanding of his family and his place within it. It’s a great concept that doesn’t work quite as well as it could have. The stories aren’t as moving as they could’ve been, other than one involving his great-grandfather (who is an animated hottie, by the way – what a stud). I loved that story and wanted more like it. Unfortunately, I don’t think we learn enough about the future selves of our two main brother & sister characters. We don’t know if the boy really changes his ways, either, based on the little we see of his future. I’d have liked to see more of a connection between the brother & sister as this relationship was the main focus of the story.

I think the biggest problem, which didn’t bother me so much but will get on some people nerves, is that the boy is, well, a brat at first. But that’s kind of the whole point of the movie. He’s young (not sure if they say his age – he seems to just be coming out of the toddler stage) and he becomes very jealous of his newborn baby sister and all the attention she receives. If you don’t like kids, as I’ve noticed many people don’t, you’re unlikely to fully enjoy this one. I had a toddler, although I never had to deal with sibling rivalry, and I know they can be a pain in the damn ass. Those tiny humans are insane. So the boy being a little bratty in this didn’t bother me as it felt realistic and having his new sister visit him from the future is a brilliant idea for a story.

Well, I did enjoy this film even though it’s not going to be a very favorite anime movie of mine. I’m sure it’ll grow on me as I’m likely to see it multiple times on DVD thanks to my kid. I feel kind of similar about this one as I did about Makoto Shinkai’s Journey To Agartha, which I reviewed earlier today. I just need something to be as good as all the Studio Ghibli stuff. Or Akira. That’s probably asking too much. I think I’m going through all the anime films too quickly since starting this blog. I’ve watched all the best! I’m afraid nothing will live up to those now. But I’ll still keep watching them just in case…

My Rating: 7/10

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) (2011) Review

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices)
星を追う子ども
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Directed & Written by Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Hisako Kanemoto, Kazuhiko Inoue, Miyu Irino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A coming of age story involving young love and a mysterious music, coming from a crystal radio left as a memento by an absent father, that leads a young heroine deep into a hidden world.

My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch this film for ages. It was recommended to me by S.G. of Rhyme And Reason a very long time ago & I picked up the DVD right away but then it sat on a shelf for years (like most DVDs I buy). Thanks for the recommendation, S.G.! Like Shinkai’s other work, it’s a lovely film and I really enjoyed it. I have to say I slightly prefer his other films, though, which I didn’t expect as the story in Journey To Agartha is much more “me”.

This anime is from director Makoto Shinkai, who also made Your Name and two beautiful short films that I watched recently: 5 Centimetres Per Second & The Garden Of Words. I’m still fairly new to anime so I stick to the most mainstream stuff and admit that Studio Ghibli will always be what I love the most. Beyond that, Shinkai & Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, Summer Wars, etc) are the two main directors I’ve been exploring. So far, I think I slightly prefer Shinkai’s work. This is mainly because of his style more than the actual stories themselves: his films are beautiful works of art. They’re all very “teenage love story”, though, so I was looking forward to Journey To Agartha as it sounded like a far more interesting plot. It’s “weird” and much darker than the other Shinkai films I’ve seen.

But I couldn’t really get into this one. I think the reason was partly because I couldn’t help but keep comparing it some of the Miyazaki Ghiblis. It’s a bit of Castle In The Sky crossed with Howl’s Moving Castle and a sprinkle of Spirited Away. Those are brilliant, of course, so nothing from other directors or studios can really compare to them. When I want that sort of style, I watch a Ghibli film. From the little I’ve seen, I prefer when Shinkai has stuck to his own style. Your Name worked really well for him so I don’t think he needs to try to make a Ghibli-inspired film. I also didn’t really connect with the characters in this one in the same way I did with those in his other films (such as the woman in The Garden Of Words – she was a strong character). The story in this was also intriguing but the plot was a little messy (but Howl’s Moving Castle can be accused of that too).

I do think this film really picked up at the end, though. The climactic scene was pretty cool & intense (don’t let your young kids watch this one – it’s aimed at an older audience). And this dude was pretty groovy, even though he’s one of the most obvious Ghibli-inspired things:

Oh yeah! And I forgot that the girl’s animal companion in this reminded me very much of the one in Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Journey To Agartha but I haven’t yet seen an anime film that I’ve not enjoyed. This one won’t be an absolute favorite, though. I think my expectations may have been a little high as, looking at the images, it looked like one I’d love. However, I’d like to give it another try sometime as I watched it after a crappy night out so probably wasn’t in the right kind of mood. I’ll see what the kid thinks of it once she’s a couple of years older and I’ll see if my opinion changes on a re-watch. For now, I’m a bigger fan of Your Name.

My Rating: 7/10

I’ll be reviewing Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai later today. I can’t quite decide if I preferred Journey To Agartha or Mirai…

Happy 6th Blogiversary To Me

I seriously thought I’d quit this blogging thing once I hit my five year anniversary. Well, shit – I’m still lingering a year later. Sorry – I think you’re stuck with me! I enjoy this online movie diary. I may not post as many full-length reviews anymore but I’m obsessed with keeping lists so I’ll continue my monthly roundup posts.

As it’s so close to the end of the year, I’ll do what I always do for my anniversary posts & just do a short roundup of my favorite things I’ve watched & read so far this year. That means lists! So here are My Top Tens for 2018 so far (and likely to change order by the end of the year as I’m totally indecisive).

My Top Ten Books (& Short Stories) Read This Year:

10. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon – 3/5
9. The Outsider by Stephen King – 3/5
8. Brother Odd by Dean Koontz – 3.5/10
7. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – 4/5
6. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 4/5
5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – 4/5
4. Bird Box by Josh Malerman – 4/5
3. Strange Weather by Joe Hill: Stories 1 & 2, Stories 3 & 4 – 4/5
2. Ghastle And Yule by Josh Malerman – 4.5/5
1. The Masque Of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe – 4.5/5

A quick comment on the ones I’ve just finished & not yet reviewed: I really enjoyed Bird Box by Josh Malerman. It has been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock but the trailer looks rubbish (it looks like too much has been changed). I recommend the book to horror fans, especially if you liked A Quiet Place. And I got a nice surprise as the UK version of the book has a bonus story called Ghastle And Yule. I loved this!! If you’re a lover of films, and especially if you’re a lover of classic horror films & filmmaking, I highly recommend finding a copy of this story about two rival horror filmmakers. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author & got a nice reply. It’s great having these kind of exchanges with authors, filmmakers & actors whose work you appreciate.

My Top Ten Movies Seen At Home This Year:

10. TIE: Fist Of Fury – 7.5/10 & The Handmaiden – 7.5/10
9. 5 Centimetres Per Second – 7.5/10
8. The Garden Of Words – 7.5/10
7. War For The Planet Of The Apes – 8/10
6. Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem – 7.5/10
5. Mary And The Witch’s Flower – 7.5/10
4. Colossal – 8/10
3. Metropolis – 8/10
2. Splendor In The Grass – 8/10
1. Enter The Dragon – 8.5/10

A quick comment on these: I’m clearly enjoying exploring more anime as so many are in my top ten (I’ve watched loads of movies this year – the full list is HERE). And I certainly didn’t expect a martial arts film to easily be my number one so far (Bruce Lee kicks ass!). I’ll say that the Blind Spot project is worth doing each year as most of them end up being in my top ten. So far, my top three are all Blind Spot choices of mine.

My Top Ten 2018 UK Movie Releases Seen This Year:

10. Darkest Hour – 7.5/10
9. Ready Player One – 7.5/10
8. Mandy – 7.5/10
7. Avengers: Infinity War – 8/10
6. The Shape Of Water – 8/10
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 8/10
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story – 8/10
3. A Quiet Place – 8/10
2. A Star Is Born – 8/10
1. I, Tonya – 8/10

A quick comment on these: I always go by UK release date so I, Tonya makes this list. It’s still my favorite, although I wouldn’t say it’s the “best” film on the list. I’ve just always been fascinated by the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan story and the movie was entertaining as hell. Plus I love dark comedy/drama. “Best” film is probably A Star Is Born. Cooper & Gaga are brilliant. Not sure if it’ll stay in second place, though. Straight drama isn’t really my thing and I probably enjoyed some others on this list a bit more. I do have the urge to move Mandy way up the list but I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if I even liked it all that much! But it’s weird and trippy and crazy as shit and looks good and sounds good and is maybe a little bit pretentious. It’s so my type of thing.

Thanks to everyone who still reads my occasional posts and my annoying lists. I do appreciate it!

I usually end these posts with a music clip so I’ll go with Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger from the thoroughly entertaining anime Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2018

Happy November, everyone! It’s cold. It’s dark way too fucking early. I hate this time of year. It makes me feel like this:

Well, here’s what I watched & reviewed in October…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Since everyone does the horror thing in October, I mostly just re-posted & reblogged some short reviews I did of horror movies I watched this year. So these are just the brand new reviews that I posted in October.

Mandy – 7.5/10
Halloween (2018) – 6.5/10
The House With A Clock In Its Walls – 6.5/10
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – 6/10
Jug Face (aka The Pit) – 1.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Mandy – This is one that will probably grow on me. I’ve seen nothing else like it. I’ve already reviewed it in full HERE. – 7.5/10

Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem – The above image is from this movie, which I doubt anyone reading this has actually seen. Here’s some info from Wikipedia: “Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is a Japanese-French anime adventure fantasy science fiction musical film. The film is the visual realization of Discovery, the second studio album by Daft Punk. Interstella 5555 tells the story of the abduction and rescue of an interstellar pop band. The film was produced by Daft Punk, Cédric Hervet and Emmanuel de Buretel with Toei Animation under the supervision of Leiji Matsumoto. The film has no dialogue and uses minimal sound effects.” Yep – this movie is definitely not for everyone. If you absolutely love Daft Punk (I do) and like anime, you may enjoy it but it’s obviously for a very specific target audience. There’s no talking – it’s just Daft Punk songs through the whole movie so it’s like a long music video with a fun story. Is it a good film? Maybe. It’s certainly not perfect but I loved the style and the music. I admit that I love Daft Punk, though, so am likely to enjoy any type of art that they put out. I still prefer their film Electroma, however, which has similar themes regarding humanity & becoming human. I recommend both films but only to massive Daft Punk fans. – 7.5/10

The Garden Of Words – This (as well as the below film 5 Centimetres Per Second) is a very short anime film from the same director as Your Name (Makoto Shinkai). I liked both of these films a lot. I also went to an anime film in the cinema last weekend (Mirai) from the director of Wolf Children & Summer Wars (Mamoru Hosoda) so I think I’m getting a better idea of whose films I like beyond just Studio Ghibli (but nothing will ever top those). So far, I’m preferring the gorgeous style of Shinkai’s films and the simple human stories, which are often bittersweet. This story revolves around the friendship between a 15-year-old boy & 27-year-old woman who both feel a little lost. I probably liked 5 Centimetres Per Second just as much but felt the characters were a bit stronger in this one, especially the woman. – 7.5/10

5 Centimetres Per Second – Also from Makoto Shinkai, this short film reminded me a lot of Your Name when it came to the visuals and the story involving love with too many obstacles. If I was a teenage girl, I’d probably absolutely adore these films as they’re so often about young love and its difficulties (but I’m old & bitter!). I do like the bittersweet mood in Shinkai’s films but, more than anything, it’s the overall look that I love. This film is beautiful and I love movies where the stills (such as below) are works of art that you want to stick on your walls. I’m definitely looking forward to more films from this director, even though they’re often quite “teenage”. – 7.5/10

Fist Of Fury – I watched Enter The Dragon as one of my Blind Spot movies this year and absolutely loved it so said I’d like to watch Bruce Lee’s other films. I enjoyed this one as well but definitely far prefer Enter The Dragon, which has that completely funky Seventies thing going on (and John Saxon & Jim Kelly, who were groovy as shit). Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Lee plays Chen Zhen, a student of Huo Yuanjia, who fights to defend the honor of the Chinese in the face of foreign aggression, and to bring to justice those responsible for his master’s death.” This one isn’t as “fun” as Enter The Dragon (if you’re looking for that sort of thing in a martial arts film) but it’s a revenge story and I always like a good revenge story. Lee kicks ass (obviously), which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I found that I didn’t care enough about the characters. You need to feel the same desire for vengeance as the characters feel. In Mandy & in Kill Bill, I really wanted to see all those evil bastards get their comeuppance. I just found the story & characters a little weak in Fist Of Fury, especially compared to the main characters in Enter The Dragon having strong personalities and some good backstories. Oh well – I still enjoyed this and plan to watch more like it. Any recommendations, MIB? – 7.5/10

The Handmaiden – Well, this was a little saucy. This is from director Park Chan-wook, whose work I haven’t seen much of yet (Oldboy, Thirst, etc – I’ve only seen Stoker). As with Stoker, this was a really lovely film to look at but I far preferred the story in The Handmaiden and thought it was a much better film overall (although it felt a little too long). It also starts out very slow and almost Merchant-Ivory-boring-drama-like so have patience if you do watch it. It felt like nothing was really happening for ages and then WHAM!, you suddenly get all kinds of great double crossing and triple crossing and saucy sex and, shit, even some illustrated tentacle porn (!). You never know who you can trust and I liked that the movie kept you guessing after its first twist. And I hated those pervy men! I really enjoyed the story once it finally got going & loved the ending. (To clarify, I just mean the overall ending and not the specific final scene – I’m not that kinky). – 7.5/10

Bohemian Rhapsody – As this is a current film, I’ll try to review it in full soon. Really enjoyed it but it’s not going to be an all-time classic. – 7/10

What If (aka The F Word) – I liked this waaaay more than I expected to, considering I don’t go for romantic comedies often and Daniel Radcliffe does nothing whatsoever for me (obviously. gross – he’s a little kid). I’ll never ever see Harry Potter as a romantic lead but I do seem to like the movies that Zoe Kazan has made in this genre: Ruby Sparks was good and I absolutely loved In Your Eyes, which is my favorite romantic movie in a very long time (not counting cartoon romances – those are more believable. Carl & Ellie in Up! WALL-E & EVE!). My point is: I don’t like live action romance often because I don’t find it very realistic. The characters and the things they do feel so phoney. That’s why I enjoyed What If as the two characters felt more real than in a lot of rom-coms. Some things were a little too damn perfect, such as her amazing career as an artist and her lovely home and her cute outfits. Plus the ending we see over the end credits was a bit barfy. But the two main characters themselves had great chemistry, great conversations, and felt like the best friends that they immediately became. I thought it explored the issue of of “can a girl & a guy just be friends” quite well and you could really feel how difficult it was for Radcliffe to maintain the friendship (he’s clearly in love with her but she’s already in a serious relationship). Too bad everyone else in this was annoying, though. Their friends kind of sucked and I especially hated her sister. The two leads were good but the rest were a bunch of twentysomething twats. – 7/10

Timecrimes – I was really hoping to like this much more than I did (sorry, Brian!). I was intrigued by the following Wikipedia plot synopsis as I freaking love stories involving time-travel-fuckery: “This Spanish science-fiction thriller film stars Karra Elejalde as Héctor, a man who becomes part of a time loop and must stop his other selves from continuing to exist.” The time loop was interesting and hurt my brain just enough to keep me satisfied without leaving me totally lost (like with Primer). I think my only issue was that the main guy was a bit of a selfish prick, especially when it came to his treatment of that poor girl. Oh well – I did still enjoy the story as I do always love this sub-genre. I just got more enjoyment out of the fantastic Predestination & even that complicated Primer in a weird sort of way. Actually, these three films would make for an interesting trilogy of movies if you wanted to nerd-out on complex time travel films one night. – 7/10

Halloween (2018) – Disappointing. – 6.5/10

Labor Day – This movie was okay and probably the first time I found Josh Brolin somewhat hot. He didn’t even do it for me in The Goonies, although I was the perfect age to have a crush on him at the time. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.” Kate Winslet, as the depressed mother, once again gives a great performance. I’m not necessarily a fan but do think she’s one of the most talented actresses around and I really felt for her character. I seem to like films involving depressed old women. What does that say about me?! Anyway – Winslet & Brolin had good chemistry & I wanted them to live happily ever after but I can’t recommend this film to many as most would find it a little boring. I suppose it was. – 6.5/10

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – The first one was much better & Jack Black is barely even in this one. – 6/10

The Dinner – Wow. This sucked. I read the book last year (review HERE). It wasn’t the most enjoyable read as the characters were all a bunch of total wankers but they’re actually much worse in the film. The story was intriguing in the book, though, and the film adaptation completely ruins it. At least the book felt somewhat original as each “act” was a different part of a fancy meal (appetiser, dessert, etc etc). That’s not used in the film at all. To be fair, I was so bored by the movie that I ended up playing on my phone (at home) & paying no attention whatsoever so I probably shouldn’t review it. Oh well – I just did. Sort of. Skip this movie. If you’re interested in the story, only read the book. If you want to save your time, I’ll tell you what their asshole kids did so you can skip this. Here you go! SPOILER:

The kids (3 teenage boys who are brothers & a cousin) kill a homeless woman by setting her on fire & filming it. Nice. This is revealed early in the film but is a big secret in the book. Their parents meet for dinner to discuss what to do about it (most want to cover it up). Rich, hateful, disgusting characters and the film does nothing to say that their behavior was wrong. Feels a little irresponsible. – 4/10

Jug Face (aka The Pit) – What a load of shit. The worst movie I’ve seen in the six-year history of my blog- 1.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

• The Outsider by Stephen King – This was okay but a little disappointing. Regulars know by now that I’m a huge King fan and always read every new book of his that comes out. He’s had some really good ones in recent years (I enjoyed the Mr. Mercedes series). This one started out well but it took way too long to get to the weird supernatural shit, which is what I like. The crime was also way too graphic and violent for my liking. Yeah, I love horror stories but don’t love gore or realistic violence and the start of this book was more of a crime novel, which I rarely go for. I don’t want to spoil things but the addition of a character from previous King novels really helped the second half of this book as I like that character a lot. But I felt that all the new characters in this one were a little weak and the finale was too similar to the endings of other King stories. Damn – I’ve just realized I’ll have to update my post where I ranked ALL the King books I’ve read (post HERE). Where will The Outsider go? Probably in the bottom ten. – 3/5

Currently Reading: Bird Box by Josh Malerman & Stories Of Your Life And Others (a collection of short sci-fi stories, including the one made into the film Arrival) by Ted Chiang.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Haunting Of Hill HouseI started watching this on Netflix as I’ve really liked some of Mike Flanagan’s films (especially Gerald’s Game & Absentia). I don’t think the TV format works for me anymore. Two episodes in and nothing has happened. I could’ve watched a movie instead in that time! I don’t have the patience or the time.

Doctor Who – Figured I should give this another try now that there’s a female Doctor. I started watching this just after moving to the UK when the Christopher Eccleston ones started. They were very good and then the David Tennant ones were even better (he’ll always be my favorite). I loved this show for a while but it all turned to shit when Tennant left and I believe different writers took over. I’ve watched the first two Jodie Whittaker episodes. While I think she may be okay (hard to tell yet), the stories were weak as shit. Is that really the best they could do for the first two episodes?! Should I bother continuing?

• Oh, and Grey’s Anatomy has started again. I never like to admit to watching that girly bullshit. My excuse is that the hubby never lets me watch anything good without him so I need something I’m allowed to watch when I’m alone…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Once again, nothing planned due to lack of time. May try to catch up on reviewing all the current films I’ve seen in the cinema. The end of November is also my six-year blogiversary so I’ll try to do my usual blogiversary post (it’ll be far shorter than my five-year post!).

Holy shit – Looks like there are a lot of cinema releases I kind of want to see in November, though. Damn.

November Movie Releases:

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – Ha! Maybe not. Dreadful reviews so far, I see.

Juliet, Naked – Shit, I didn’t realize a Nick Hornby adaptation was coming out. I like his books so I’ll try to read it then catch this on Netflix.

Widows – Crime drama isn’t a genre I love but the trailer looks good. It’s also a book I may read first and then check the movie out at home.

Overlord – Not sure on this. Looks like my type of weird shit but, again, think I’ll wait for it on Netflix.

The Grinch – Ugh. My daughter wants to go so I’m sure we’ll check it out but they better not fuck-up a beloved Christmas TV special from my childhood. At least nothing can be worse than that nightmare Jim Carrey version of this.

Wildlife – Good reviews but I’ll probably wait for Netflix unless it gets Oscar buzz.

They Shall Not Grow Old – Does look very interesting – will try to catch this as it’s going to air on TV.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Again, I’ll probably wait to watch this at home but am interested in seeing this documentary before the Tom Hanks film.

Suspiria – I’ll go to this but am sure it’ll piss me off. Make something original, Hollywood!

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald – I have zero interest whatsoever in this. The first one was shockingly boring.

Robin Hood – Meh.

SerenityDiane Lane! I love her. Oh, Anne Hathaway… I hate her.

Shoplifters – What’s this?! It’s a Japanese film with amazing reviews. I’ve just watched the trailer & really want to see it but know it’s very unlikely to be showing anywhere near me.

Ralph Breaks The Internet – This is honestly the only mainstream movie I really want to go & see in November…

Creed II – I’ve been bugging the hubby to watch all the Rocky movies with me since I really liked the first one. He hasn’t. So I can’t watch this. I mean, WTF? I’m like a fucking DREAM wife. What wife wants to watch the Rocky movies?? Oh, and if he’s reading this: will you please let me watch more Akira Kurosawa films, dammit??? I’ve had that boxset for years.

The Possession Of Hannah Grace – A horror movie with decent ratings so far? If it’s a horror that’s actually good, I’ll watch it!

Three Identical Strangers – Intriguing story. I’ll watch this documentary someday.

Anna And The Apocalypse – Okay, a movie crossover that actually hadn’t occurred to me. Zombie apocalypse musical? Again, it’s a Netflix flick but I’ll watch it eventually.

I have to end with this clip from Interstella 5555, which was Daft Punk’s video for Digital Love:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2018

Happy October, everyone! I won’t be doing a month of horror posts like usual as I don’t have the time but I may try to do a couple of horror-related posts as I watched quite a few “scary” films in the past year. But first I’ll do a quick roundup of everything I watched in September.

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

None. I only posted one thing in September, which was My Top Ten Brian De Palma Movies.

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Mary And The Witch’s Flower – This is the first movie from Studio Ponoc, which was founded by Yoshiaki Nishimura (formerly of Studio Ghibli). Basically, it’s the new Studio Ghibli as several former Ghibli employees have joined Studio Ponoc. Although Hayao Miyazaki has come out of retirement to make another Ghibli film, expected to be released in 2020YES!!! But, if this studio is going to be the next Ghibli and this is their first film, I think things may be alright. We’ll see. It’s certainly not up there with Miyazaki’s work (but nothing is). It’s a good start and easily lives up to some of the non-Miyazaki Ghiblis. It’s of the “kid friendly” variety & reminded me the most of Arrietty. I think I may actually prefer Mary And The Witch’s Flower to that one. I’ll review this in full at some point as I try to review all the anime I watch. – 7.5/10

A Simple Favor – I’ll review this in full sometime. Went in with zero expectations and really enjoyed it. – 7.5/10

The Rose – I’d somehow never seen this movie in which Bette Midler plays a 70s rock star desperate for fame (it’s loosely based on Janis Joplin’s life). This type of movie is right up my alley and I thought it was quite good while Midler herself was excellent. She was nominated for an Oscar for this performance & won a Golden Globe. Yet I never really hear this movie or Midler’s performance mentioned, despite its song (The Rose) being a big American hit. Worth watching if the movie is your type of thing but it’s definitely not for everyone and people who love mainly just current films wouldn’t like the fairly slow pacing of this one. – 7.5/10

Brigsby Bear – Really enjoyed this one as well but it’s truly not for everyone. It’s quirky, a little weird, and indie as shit. But it has a lot of heart and is one of the most original stories I’ve seen in a while. Mark Hamill supposedly accepted his role because he was impressed by the script’s originality (I heard that somewhere but can’t find a link regarding this). It’s a “comedy” drama but the comedy is subtle and, more than anything, it’s just a sweet, feel-good sort of film. I highly recommend knowing as little as possible about it beforehand if you decide to watch it as I think going in blind helped my enjoyment. – 7.5/10

The House With A Clock In Its Walls – Will review in full. It was fun. – 7/10

American Animals – Will also try to review this. I was disappointed. – 6.5/10

The Glass Castle – Finally saw this adaptation after thoroughly enjoying the novel (it was my favorite book I read last year). It was my favorite despite not being at all my usual type of thing (it’s a memoir based on the author’s highly unusual and impoverished upbringing). The book was truly fascinating, however, as her parents’ behaviour was so outrageous that it was equally entertaining and maddening to read about. It was also very hard to not be disgusted by their behavior at times, especially the father’s, but the author did manage to somehow create some sympathy toward her parents that didn’t translate as well to film. Woody Harrelson was good as the father but the movie did leave out some of the things he did that would make it too hard to like him. – 6.5/10

Compliance – This movie is thoroughly messed up, mostly because it’s unfortunately 100% true. I remember hearing about this film when it came out & finding the true story interesting so I looked into it & the Kentucky case (I believe) is what’s shown in this film. This was part of the “strip search phone call scam” that went on for 12 years(!!) across small American towns. From Wikipedia:

“The strip search phone call scam is a series of incidents, mostly occurring in rural areas of the United States, that extended over a period of about twelve years, starting in 1992. The incidents involved a man calling a restaurant or grocery store, claiming to be a police officer and then convincing managers to conduct strip searches of female employees, and to perform other bizarre acts on behalf of “the police”. The calls were most often placed to fast-food restaurants in small towns.

Over 70 such occurrences were reported in 30 U.S. states, until an incident in 2004 in Mount Washington, Kentucky, finally led to the arrest of David Richard Stewart…”

So the point of this scam, I guess, was to see how far people will go when they think they’re being told to do something by an authority figure. It’s scary that so few people questioned the voice on the phone when they were told to do increasingly disturbing things to the female employees who had been targeted. I think viewers won’t believe how far things went in this film and I think it had some bad reviews simply because it’s hard to watch. But, from what I read, nothing is exaggerated (a security camera actually caught it all on film). I’m glad they caught the sick bastard but the scam itself made for a fascinating study in human behavior, I guess. Disturbing. A decently acted film but obviously a hard one to actually “recommend”. It’ll make you angry and the real life girl who was targeted has had a lot of issues since this happened to her. – 6.5/10

Veronica – To quote Wikipedia again, Veronica is a Spanish horror movie “Loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board“. It showed up on Netflix with a lot of people saying “scariest horror movie ever!” and shit like that. I guess it’s the only horror movie they’ve ever watched? It was a well-made film with decent acting but it’s not something we haven’t all seen before. However, I liked the characters which is always a plus as we don’t often get likeable characters in this genre. I felt for this poor 15-year-old girl and her sweet younger siblings she’s forced to take care of since their mother is always working. It made the film an okay watch as the story itself was a little bland (especially as, from what I’ve read, it’s only very loosely based on the “true” story). – 6/10

Tetsuo (aka Tetsuo: The Iron Man) – I’ve been meaning to watch this Japanese film for years as I have a weird fascination with body horror (god knows why – I’m a wuss when it comes to violence). I really wanted to see it before doing the list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies but it wouldn’t have made the list anyway. It’s only just over an hour long but it felt like it was never going to end. The last 20 minutes or so just go on & on & on (I decided to fast-forward). I suppose this movie was shocking in 1989 but we’ve had The Human Freaking Centipede since then, so… is anything really going to gross anyone out in this fucked-up world anymore? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.” I like weird movies and especially love ones with great imagery but the low budget imagery in this wasn’t good enough to make up for the meandering story and the terrible characters. It’s certainly original and one of the stranger films I’ve seen but I didn’t expect to mostly just find it boring. It’s fucked-up, though. I’ll give it that. It’s one of very few movies I have that I’ll have to keep hidden away – you sure as shit don’t want your kids to ever get hold of this one. – 6/10

The Nun – Meh. I don’t know. This was actually a bit better than the terrible reviews would suggest. I thought it was far better than those idiotic Annabelle movies but far worse than the first Conjuring film. I thought the characters were all fairly strong (as far as horrors go) and I really liked the setting of the secluded old convent or castle or whatever it was. It was fairly creepy & atmospheric and, hell, I think I’m talking myself into liking this one a little more than I thought. I do love a good bit of Satanic horror but there are far better films in that sub-genre. I’ve realized that I’ve watched all of the Conjuring Universe films so far despite not being a huge fan. Here are my reviews & ratings:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

Frozen (2010) – Not the Anna & Elsa Frozen! I didn’t mind this horror film even though it’s a bit ridiculous. Three annoying twenty-somethings are left stranded on a ski chairlift when the resort shuts down for a week (or however long). That’s it. That’s the story. Actually, it ended up being okay and we got to know and like these characters a little. Well, they ended up far less annoying than they were at first at least. They do stupid shit but, to be honest, I’m not sure what I’d do in the same situation. Probably freeze to death. My rating is maybe a little harsh but it did get a bit too silly (and gross) and slightly boring at times. At least it’s far better than that horror movie where three twat twenty-somethings are trapped in an ATM booth thingy by some psychotic killer (in the imaginatively-titled ATM). – 5.5/10

Re-Watch: Bridge To Terabithia – This is actually a great coming of age movie based on a famous American kids’ book. I’d watched it years ago and hesitated when my daughter asked to watch it recently. It’s controversial for stupid reasons (but you know what uptight Americans are like). I don’t want to give away the plot if you know nothing about it but it’s one you need to look into first before deciding if your kid will be okay watching it. Mine liked it a lot. It’s a lovely, heartbreaking story with strong characters. I’ve ordered her the book now as well. I really should have read it as a kid. – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

I didn’t manage to finish any books in September as I’ve been too busy. But I am finally almost done with The Outsider by Stephen King. Pretty good so far but started out slow & took too long for the weird supernatural stuff to happen (which is what I love the most). Also been reading Nightflyers And Other Stories by George R.R. Martin on my phone (digital library book – I’m so cheap!). But it’s too hard to read it through my cracked phone screen so I might have to look for the actual book instead. #FirstWorldProblems

TV SHOWS WATCHED

None. Okay, I’m lying – I’ve been watching America’s Got Talent on Netflix with the kid. She loves it. It’s a simple family thing to watch but I sincerely hate reality TV for the most part. I make fun of the sob stories and all the contrived, phony, “heartwarming” bullshit. Am I evil??? I like that card magician dude, though. I wonder how far he gets. (Don’t tell me!)

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Nothing planned. As I said, I’m too busy to do my usual horror posts. I’m also way behind on my 2018 Blind Spot reviews. I don’t think I’ll manage to watch all twelve this year.

October Releases I Maybe Want To See:

A Star Is Born – This is one of those that’ll be up for Oscars so I should watch it. But I don’t really want to…

Venom – Ha! Horrible reviews so far. I’ll skip it.

Mandy – Curious about this Nicolas Cage horror as the horror fans on Twitter have been raving about it. Sounds extreme. But I can’t say I fully trust any movie starring Nicolas Cage. Not the bees!!!

Bad Times At The El Royale – Jeff Bridges and shirtless Chris Hemsworth looking like some super sexy Jesus dude?? Oh yes. I’ll go to this but have to admit it looks like it may be a bit crap.

First Man – Want to see this but don’t love Damien Chazelle as its director. Am hoping it’s not as millennial as La La Land (sorry!).

Halloween – Will definitely go to this but with low expectations.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – Is it sad how much I want to see this?? I want more “scary” family movies!

Bohemian RhapsodyI love Queen and adored Freddie Mercury. This could be good or REALLY bad.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot – Looks pretty good but probably a Netflix film. Very indie so doubt it’ll get a wide release anyway.

The Guilty – A film from Denmark that I’ve only just noticed when looking up movies coming soon. Great reviews & sounds pretty good.

Slaughterhouse Rulez – We’ll see. Could be awesome! Hopefully it’ll be as good as Shaun Of The Dead.

Suspiria – First of all, remakes piss me off. Make something new, dammit! Second of all, this isn’t an October release in the UK – it’s out in November. WTF??? Not in time for Halloween? Piss off. It’s starring Dakota Johnson anyway so I’m not exactly thrilled despite almost liking its (derivative) “look” in the trailers.

And since it’s now October, let’s listen to the greatest horror score ever from the brilliant John Carpenter…

Wolf Children (2012) Blind Spot Review

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

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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


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

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

My Rating: 8/10

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

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

Ancien And The Magic Tablet (aka Napping Princess) (2017) Review

Ancien And The Magic Tablet
(UK Title – Napping Princess: The Story Of The Unknown Me)
ひるね姫 〜知らないワタシの物語〜
Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari

Directed by Kenji Kamiyama

Starring Voice Actors: Mitsuki Takahata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tomoya Maeno, Rie Kugimiya, Arata Furuta, Hideki Takahashi, Yōsuke Eguchi

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Kokone has university exams to prepare for, but instead she dozes off. Even when her father is unceremoniously arrested prior to the Tokyo Olympics and the family is hiding away a mystery or two she finds herself taking refuge in sleep where thrills await her. Could there be more to her dreams?

My Opinion:

I didn’t know a thing about this movie when looking up cinema times & seeing that something called “Napping Princess” was playing (Which is a crap title – I prefer the American title on this one). I was like “Ohhh. Japanese anime! Let’s go to that!” even though it doesn’t have the greatest IMDB rating (6.3/10). I’ve also since seen the Empire magazine rating (2/5). Bit harsh!! It’s certainly not the best anime I’ve seen but it was entertaining enough & my kid seemed to enjoy it. Although she mainly liked it for the girl’s cute blue toy dog thingy – I think she would’ve liked the movie far less without that character.

I admit to really getting into the Japanese anime thing lately so I’m probably giving this a higher rating than it actually deserves since it’s more my type of thing than most Western animated films (just from DreamWorks, etc – Disney & Pixar are awesome). Napping Princess is far from perfect. I thought the story was a bit too messy & convoluted while the characters weren’t all that memorable. When all I’ve really seen are the very biggest Japanese anime films (Akira, Ghost In The Shell, all the best Studio Ghiblis), this film definitely pales in comparison. Okay – I suppose this movie is like the Japanese equivalent of a DreamWorks movie while the Studio Ghibli stuff is like the very best of the Pixar movies. Ancien And The Magic Tablet is cute, lighthearted fun but I doubt it’ll ever be considered a classic in Japan.

The overall concept of the film is good even if the plot did get a little messy. The main character, schoolgirl Kokone, has bizarre dreams in which she’s a princess with a magic “tablet” (iPad) that enables her to bring things to life (such as the cute blue dog thingy & a Transformer-like motorcycle). In real life, her dad is secretly working on programming driverless cars when he’s suddenly arrested & Kokone doesn’t know why. However, he’s left a tablet (iPad!) behind, which may provide the clues…

It’s a shame more work wasn’t put into the characters. I mean, the Transformers-like motorcycle was kind of wasted – that could’ve been a really cool companion like The Iron Giant or something (I love that movie). Cute blue dog thingy also didn’t have much to do and I don’t remember much about the boy who helps Kokone after her father is arrested. The relationship between Kokone & her father plus finding out more about her mother was done fairly well, though, so that’s one of the story’s stronger points. Without giving anything away, the real world & dream world start to collide toward the end, which is when the story got a little messy but was also enjoyable in a Christopher Nolan Inception-y way. It’s worth a watch if you like Japanese anime & it’s probably fine for most kids ages 8 & up or so. I think it probably wants to be Your Name but tries too hard with a story that doesn’t come together as well as it did in that film. By the way – I definitely DO recommend Your Name if you’ve not seen it… Check that one out before Napping Princess.

My Rating: 6.5/10

FYI according to Wikipedia:

“A English-dubbed version was released in the United Kingdom from August 16, 2017; whereas the United States will receive a US-dubbed version sometime later in August.”

Luckily, I saw the Japanese language version with English subtitles. Far prefer seeing the subtitled versions of these films.

My 2017 Blog Resolutions 

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’re all having a good 2017 so far. (Okay – it’s the 10th of January. I’m done saying “Happy New Year”). 😉

Like most people, I’ve made my own personal resolutions for 2017. I won’t share those here but they’re my main priority. However, I don’t want to abandon my “online movie diary” completely so I’ve decided on some things I’ll focus on this year in order to keep this blog going. Here are my 2017 Blog Resolutions:

Keep It Short

I ramble on too much (probably because I’m not a writer & I suck with words!). This has kept me from reviewing a lot of the (79!) movies I watched at home last year. This year, I’ll keep any reviews of non-current, meh movies very brief.

One Or Two Posts A Week

Simple: I’ll do a minimum of one or two posts a week. Some weeks there will be more but I won’t stress if I only manage one. I’ll mainly post Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays.

Blind Spot Movie Reviews

The one blog commitment I didn’t come to regret in 2016 was watching & reviewing the 12 Blind Spot Movies that I chose last January. This is one of my main blog resolutions that I plan to stick to again this year. I’ll be posting my 2017 Blind Spot Choices tomorrow.

Reviews Of New Releases

I’ll again do my best to at least review all the current movie releases that I go to see this year. I’m always pretty good about keeping on top of this so it’s my other main commitment along with doing Blind Spot reviews.

IMDB Top 250 Project

This has been almost entirely on hold for the past couple of years. I no longer want any guest reviews as some became too much of a headache. But I do, from the bottom of my heart, thank those of you who fulfilled your guest review commitments at least once. Sincerely. *Hugssssss!* I got a lot of excellent classics reviewed on my blog thanks to you guys (and it gave me the opportunity to be very lazy for over a year with a guaranteed weekly post I didn’t have to write). 😉 I’m now going to go back to doing this on my own but I’m in no rush. By now, I’ve watched the majority of the Top 250 films that I actually WANT to watch. So I’ll make my goal, hmm… To watch & review four IMDB Top 250 Movies this year. Think I can manage that!

Top Ten Lists

I’ll still do these but not on a regular basis. When I do, I’ll probably continue to post them on a Thursday.

Books & Reviews

I tend to read about one book per month & I kept on top of reviewing them all in 2016. I’ll continue to try to do this but I’ll make my book reviews very brief as well. 

Themed Weeks/Months

I enjoy doing themed weeks and/or months on my blog but I won’t commit to definitely doing any this year. If I’m in the mood & if I have the time, these are the ones I keep toying with:

Studio Ghibli Week: I already devoted all of January 2015 to Studio Ghibli but have since been working my way through the non-Miyazaki films as well. I’ve watched five already so I’ll review them all one week. Probably. I already started 2017 by watching Arrietty. 🙂

Akira Kurosawa Week: I keep putting this off as I don’t know how to go about reviewing these fantastic films (I’ve only watched three so far). But I’ve just bought myself a lovely blu-ray set of five of his samurai films (it was cheap!) so, maybe one week by the year 2021, I’ll actually review all the Kurosawa films that I’ve watched.

John Carpenter Week: Another thing I’ve been putting off for two years! I have, however, watched plenty of his movies in preparation. One of these weeks…. BAM! I’ll suddenly review them all. Maybe. We’ll see.

New York City Week: I’ve watched so many movies based in NYC in the past year & have saved them up to devote a week to reviewing them. 

Rocky Week: To kill two birds with one stone, I’m putting the IMDB Top 250 film Rocky on my Blind Spot list. But, as the hubby keeps telling me how good Creed was, I figure I better watch all the Rocky movies first, right?? Ugh. Are there seven? Well, I’ll try! I do have them all available so I might as well. Considering how much I ended up enjoying Clint Eastwood Week last year, I’m bizarrely looking forward to watching all the Rocky “guy” movies. I’m a weird chick…

Non-Disney, Non-Pixar, Non-Ghibli Animation Month: One thing I really want to focus on is watching more animated films that aren’t necessarily “kids’ films” (although some will be). I’m talking about things such as Ralph Bakshi movies & non-Ghibli Japanese anime. There are also some movies that I’ve been meaning to watch for years, such as Watership Down. I have quite a long list, however, so it’s likely that I’ll watch what I can this year but not review anything until 2018. Hmm… 2018 resolution?! I’ve not even had a chance to break all my 2017 ones yet!

Well. That’s it. So much for my “Keep It Short” resolution!!! There – I’ve broken one already… See you tomorrow with my Blind Spot Choices. 🙂

Your Name (2016) Review

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

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 8/10

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

Summer Wars (2009) Blind Spot Review

Summer Wars (2009)
Samā Wōzu
Japanese: サマーウォーズ

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring Voice Actors: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba, Mitsuki Tanimura, Sumiko Fuji

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Kenji Koiso, a timid eleventh-grade math genius who is taken to Ueda by twelfth-grade student Natsuki Shinohara to celebrate her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday. However, he is falsely implicated in the hacking of a virtual world by a sadistic artificial intelligence named Love Machine. Kenji must repair the damage done to it and find a way to stop the rogue computer program from causing any further damage.

My Opinion:

I figured it was time to expand my horizons & watch some anime that’s not from Studio Ghibli for a change. I love Studio Ghibli! I had a little blogathon last year & I reviewed all but one of the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis plus Grave Of The Fireflies (you can find the links to all those reviews HERE). Well, I’ve watched some more now so I’ll be doing a “Ghibli Week” at some point soon.

Anyway, I’ve chosen two non-Ghibli anime films for my 2016 Blind Spot Series: Summer Wars and Akira. Everyone has of course heard of Akira so I figured it was about time that I check it out (it’ll be a while – that’ll probably be my December Blind Spot). I didn’t know much about Summer Wars but I’d recorded it off of TV ages ago after really liking the sound of the above synopsis. It’s a bit like Japanese anime Ready Player One! Or Snow Crash! I always love movies about artificial intelligence, plus virtual reality and hacking films are usually loads of fun too. Then, of course, I looked up some of the images from the movie online & was sold on finally watching it.

This movie is a lot of fun. I can’t say it tops any of the Studio Ghibli films for me, though. Well, no – it does actually top some of the non-Miyazaki films like From Up On Poppy Hill & Whisper Of The Heart. What’s really great about it is that it truly is two movies in one. You have the real-world story of Kenji Koiso and the family of the girl he has a crush on plus you of course have the story involving the virtual world of OZ, which is a huge part of many people’s lives (as is the OASIS in Ready Player One).

I preferred the virtual world of OZ (as I knew I would – it has such a great look to it) but was surprised at just how much of the real-world story was in the film as well. I’d say that the story involving Kenji’s girlfriend’s very large extended family (including her grandmother, who is a strong character I really liked) probably makes up more than 60% of the film. The real-world story was also entertaining, though, and I did enjoy it even if it did drag a little bit at times while I waited for them to get back to the world of OZ and the pretty damn cool-looking A.I. called Love Machine.


This movie is very “me” so I was expecting to absolutely love it. I did enjoy it quite a bit but felt somewhat disappointed overall. I think I probably just hyped it up too much in my mind. Also, I’ll admit that I watched this dubbed and, believe me, I far prefer to watch Japanese anime in Japanese with English subtitles as a lot of the “magic” is lost when you see something like this in English. I stupidly assumed that what I’d recorded was in Japanese. Damn. Well, I liked it enough to pick up the DVD if I see it cheap as I’d really like to watch it in Japanese as well. I’ll also now definitely watch this same studio’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (which I DID pick up on DVD years ago!). That one will be on my Blind Spot 2017 list and, based on Summer Wars, I’m looking forward to that one as well. I’m happy that I finally watched an anime that’s not from Studio Ghibli and would be happy to watch even more. I’ll gladly take any recommendations as my knowledge of this genre is limited!

My Rating: 7/10