It was all over Twitter that the Studio Ghibli movies were gonna disappear from Netflix U.K. at the end of May. Even though I knew I’d already seen all the best ones by far, I’ve still been desperate to watch all the rest for years now as I adore Studio Ghibli. So I watched these remaining four before the 1st of June. The only one I have left to watch, which I want to see the most but have to wait since my family want to see it too, is The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (but luckily I have the DVD).
Well, the Ghibli movies are still on Netflix. Oh well – it got me closer to my goal! 🙂
These four confirm that I had indeed already seen the best. I’ve ranked the four at the bottom of my ranked Ghibli list here on Letterboxd (the only other one at the bottom being Ocean Waves). But one of these was still quite delightful, one was perfectly fine but very forgettable, one had way too many testicles, and one was sadly not worthy of the Ghibli name.
I just want to add that for some stupid reason I completely forgot to mention the coolest thing I’ve done in a very long time back in January. I can’t believe I didn’t mention this in my January roundup post! I’m just not used to doing interesting real-life things that relate to my stupid little movie blog. 🙂 I went to see the live production of My Neighbor Totoro at The Barbican in London. It was absolutely AMAZING. It did the film justice without harming its legacy in any way. The way they represented the soot sprites was so clever and the Totoros they created were perfect. And the Cat Bus! The acting was brilliant as well. They couldn’t have done a better job with such a beloved movie & score. Am happy to see they’ve added more shows now. I’d very highly recommend it to all Studio Ghibli fans. And you almost got a picture of me at it but other people are in all the photos too close to me to cut them out so here’s a photo of the lobby instead. 😉
Now let’s review these rather disappointing Studio Ghibli movies…
My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999) (ホーホケキョとなりの山田くん, Hōhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun)
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The life and misadventures of a family in contemporary Japan.
A fun series of vignettes with a delightful & very relatable family. The format reminded me somewhat of the Peanuts skits, which I absolutely adore. It’s certainly not up there with the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis (of course) and I’d rank it below most of the non-Miyazaki Ghiblis as well but it’s still worthy of the Ghibli name. It‘s just so different from the style & wonderfully bizarre nature of the Ghibli films I love the most, which is why it won’t ever be a favorite for me personally. But it was a very sweet film & a pleasant watch.
My Rating: 7/10
Tales From Earthsea (2006) (ゲド戦記)
Directed by Gorō Miyazaki
Based on Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin & Shuna’s Journey by Hayao Miyazaki
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) In a mythical land, a man and a young boy investigate a series of unusual occurrences.
Not one of Studio Ghibli’s best (it’s hard to live up to those) but I can’t quite put my finger on why? It has Ghibli fantasy elements that I like & a Ghibli look. It’s a much more straightforward story & far less “strange” than my favorites, so maybe that’s why it’s less memorable? Seriously – I watched this a week ago & I barely remember it already. That’s not something you can say about their films like Spirited Away, etc. It’s a simple story with fairly unremarkable characters. That warlock was pretty cool, though. And quite terrifying, so this one wouldn’t be for really young kids. He was sort of a scary combination of Howl & of the wizard from Ponyo. Most memorable thing about this film. Oh, and the cool dragons too (which are barely in this).
I still enjoyed this & think it’s a good anime film, just not a great Ghibli film. I’d say it’s most similar to The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun, which isn’t a Ghibli film but may as well be as it’s from Isao Takahata & was also worked on by Hayao Miyazaki. I liked that one a bit more. Both are worth watching if you’re a very big Ghibli fan like I am & want to watch them all.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A community of magical shape-shifting raccoon dogs struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development.
I expected to like this one the most of these four as it looked the most bizarre, which is something I love about Ghibli. But I think it featured just a few too many testicles for my liking.
I did appreciate the weirdness of Pom Poko, although it’s not the beautiful & magical sort of weirdness that I love in the very best Ghiblis. Some of the humor was fun but the story was far darker than I was expecting. Between all the death & all the testicles, it’s certainly not one for the youngest Ghibli fans. And while I normally prefer memorable films to boring ones (and I will certainly never forget Pom Poko), I just wasn’t feeling this one. I’m glad I’ve watched it as I’ve been wanting to see all the Ghibli films but this isn’t one I’ll have any desire to watch again, which is unlike most of the studio’s other films I’ve happily watched multiple times. So I’ve ranked this below the rather bland & forgettable Tales From Earthsea as I liked that story much more & that one felt more like a Ghibli film to me.
Pom Poko was disappointing but, as I said, at least it was memorable. Seriously, though. What was with the testicles?! Okay – those bits were kind of hilarious. I’m giving this an extra half a point just for the balls.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Earwig And The Witch (2020) (アーヤと魔女, Āya to Majo)
Directed by Gorō Miyazaki
Based on Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) An orphan girl, Earwig, is adopted by a witch and comes home to a spooky house filled with mystery and magic.
Oh dear. This is indeed the worst Studio Ghibli film. But if the Ghibli name wasn’t attached to it, would we all think it was so bad? It’s certainly not the worst animated film I’ve ever seen. I’d say it’s something along the lines of the weakest films from Illumination or DreamWorks such as Sing or Home. You know, the kind of stuff you’ll happily watch once with your young kids to keep them entertained and then hopefully not have to watch a hundred more times if they then decide that’s their favorite movie. But that’s not what we expect from Studio Ghibli, who have made so many gorgeous & brilliant films that I as well as my daughter adore and have watched many, many times. The animation in Earwig is so ugly by comparison. Unfortunately, the character is also quite unlikeable, which I wasn’t expecting. I think they were trying to make her seem “cheeky” and precocious but she crossed the line into slightly annoying too often. The story is okay, I guess. I like a story about witches but it was hard to be interested when I didn’t care about any of the underdeveloped characters. And I can see why people complain about the ending. It just stops so abruptly. Could we not get a little closure? At least a small explanation? I thought maybe we’d get a “here’s what happened next” as they had some images through the credits but they didn’t fill in enough of the blanks.
I don’t know. It’s just a very frustrating film. It’s not absolutely terrible. But it’s not Ghibli. In all honesty, I liked it enough that I’d watch a sequel if it promised to continue the story properly. And I thought the band was actually pretty cool. A sequel could focus more on that and maybe include flashbacks with some cool songs? But I think it’s safe to say that a sequel to the most widely hated Ghibli film is extremely unlikely.
Happy New Year, Everyone! I’m really hoping that 2023 is going to be a much better year than 2022. I kept on top of my Letterboxd reviews so here are all the reviews of everything I watched in December. There are a lot as I was trying to finish watching the 2022 releases that are on services but there are still loads more that I’ve missed…
MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):
– Millennium Actress – Thoroughly enjoyed this story of a legendary film actress discussing her life with two documentary filmmakers. Always like films exploring the lives of those involved in filmmaking & loved how her life story was told through her film roles. This is my third & I think probably now my favorite Satoshi Kon film. I’d highly recommend this as well as his films Tokyo Godfathers& the trippy Paprika. Will definitely be checking out Perfect Blue at some point too… – 8/10
– Only Yesterday – Had to get at least one Studio Ghibli movie watched before the end of this year. I adore Ghibli but am running out of ones to watch. Think I only have five left! What will I do after that?! (I’ve ranked all I’ve seen here)
This one, of course, isn’t up there with the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis but is still a great film worthy of the studio. It’s a very grownup story and follows a young woman as her trip to the countryside brings back strong memories from when she was a fifth grade schoolgirl. I thought it portrayed very well how strong nostalgia can be and how our experiences while young can have such a strong influence on who we become as adults. Something that can seem insignificant to an adult may be something that a child coming of age will never forget. Enjoyed the scenes when she was a child the most and they gave me my own happy & sad memories from when I was that same age. Especially liked how the boys behaved & how awkward the boys & girls were around each other. The 1966 Japanese schoolkids in this behaved exactly the same as my American classmates did in the mid-80s, which put a smile on my face.
Another great film from Studio Ghibli & one of my favorite films I saw for the first time in 2022. – 8/10
– Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.
Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.
Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years. – 7.5/10
– The Banshees Of Inisherin – Tried to end the year on a good 2022 film as I’ve been very disappointed with most of the movies released this year. I can’t say this lived up to my expectations based on the rave reviews but I did like it. It might just squeak into my top ten for the year.
Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson & Kerry Condon are all very good in this & I can see them all being nominated for Oscars. The acting nominations would be well deserved. The film itself didn’t quite live up to the performances for me but I did like the story and the beautiful setting and that adorable donkey. I never thought I’d want a little donkey to live in my house & keep me company but I totally want that now.
I’m adding my review now as the year is over & I just want to get this posted but I’ve not fully sorted out my feelings on this movie yet. I wanted to like it more but it’s one I think could grow on me. I liked the dark humor & the characters & not knowing where the story was going to end up. Finally something unpredictable in 2022! But it’s also a slow film & not one I think I’d watch again even though I sometimes love a depressing film. It’s just so deeply sad & I felt awful for Farrell‘s character and I’m not sure I’d want to watch him go through all that again. I’ve been dumped by friends too. It sucks. I need a donkey.
I think In Bruges is still Martin McDonagh’s best and seeing this made me really want to rewatch that. Think this one may be just behind Three Billboards for me (they’re close) but I definitely preferred this to Seven Psychopaths. I’ll think about it a bit more. I think this may go up in my estimation but, man, it made me sad. – 7.5/10
– After Yang – Was looking forward to this as I really loved Kogonada‘s film Columbus. This one isn’t as good but I still liked it as I always love slow, thinky sci-fi and never tire of the exploration of life, death & what makes us human even though that’s been done to death in this genre. After Yang doesn’t really give us anything new on those themes but, like Columbus, it’s lovely to look at & I appreciated the score from the brilliant Ryuichi Sakamoto. I’m still working on my year-end movie rankings but this will rank highly for me as it’s right up my alley. I’m sure many would find this film far too slow with very little happening but I would definitely watch any further films from Kogonada based on what I’ve seen so far. – 7.5/10
– The Lodge – Really liked this slow burn psychological horror (but it’s exactly the type of thing I always enjoy). Good story and even better characters & performances. Really appreciated that the younger characters, played by Jaeden Martell & Lia McHugh, felt very real especially in their grief. Riley Keough was also great as the new fiancée the kids don’t trust. And I always love a slightly creepy doll or dollhouse. – 7/10
– Men – I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror. I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained.
Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022. – 7/10
– Scream(2022) – Thought this was one of the better recent horror, um, reboots/sequels/reimaginings/requels?? But maybe my standards are just very low as I think the majority are utter shit. It might help that, while I think the first Scream is great & a horror classic, I now don’t have much memory of any of its sequels & overall just never loved Scream to the same degree as A Nightmare On Elm Street (I’m old). So I didn’t mind seeing another Scream film setting up new characters & enjoyed this much more than other recent reboots or whatever-the-hell-they-are such as Halloween & Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The killer reveal wasn’t at all surprising & the movie is pretty much just a rehash of the original Scream film but does it really matter? The new characters were fine & it will probably get a new generation into this series. I’ll certainly watch the next one but it would be great if it tried to do something a little less predictable.
And I agree with the Jenna Ortega character’s horror movie taste. I love The Babadook too.– 7/10
– Studio 666 – This looked like it would be bad bad instead of good bad so I had low expectations even though I love Dave Grohl & heavy metal & horror comedies. This movie was a blast. It’s not GREAT bad, like Road House, but it’s pure cheesy horror comedy fun. The acting was gloriously atrocious and you could tell that these guys must have had so many laughs while making this. It was also great seeing Taylor Hawkins (RIP) goofing off with Dave once again. A couple of the kills were hilariously inventive and I loved the movie band Dream Widow’s music (recorded by Grohl as a whole metal album because there’s nothing that dude can’t do). – 7/10
– Troll – This film follows every monster movie cliché imaginable… Which is EXACTLY what I want from a monster movie. It also has really likeable characters, funny nerds, a cute military guy and, most importantly, Norwegians & a massive troll. Therefore, I enjoyed it much more than most current Hollywood monster movies. – 7/10
– Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Enjoyed this but Knives Out was far superior so I did find it disappointing. It felt like it was trying too hard to be “wacky” and was just a bit too silly for me. The mystery also felt like an afterthought as the focus was more on how many big name stars they could get to play caricatures. This is sounding way more negative than it should… Glass Onion was fine. It was fun. It was just a little too goofy. I’d happily watch another Knives Out Mystery, though. I just want the next one to be more like the first film. – 6.5/10
– Marry Me – I liked this fine. Was better than I was expecting considering I didn’t even know it existed. Why have romcoms like this completely disappeared from cinemas? Not my favorite genre but I do miss these kind of movies from when they were mainstream & had big stars like in this one. Jennifer Lopez is good as a famous pop star (okay, not much of a stretch) who decides to marry random dude Owen Wilson in the audience at one of her concerts. The relationship is believable enough and they have surprisingly decent chemistry even though Lopez is entirely out of Wilson’s league. Still like Maid In Manhattan more but this was an enjoyably predictable romcom that I shouldn’t have discovered buried on one of my streaming services. – 6.5/10
– A Christmas Story Christmas – Being an American of a certain age, A Christmas Story is a Christmas Classic to me. I still clearly remember going to see it in the cinema when it was released & remember how much my dad & the audience were loving it. Was a little heartbroken when I moved to the U.K. and found that no one here likes it or even knows of it (my hubby hates it). So I was kind of excited to see a sequel all these years later but of course also very nervous as it had the potential to go very wrong.
I’d say it hasn’t done any damage to the original but, as with most of these sort of sequels, it also didn’t feel necessary. It was nice seeing so many of the original cast again in the same roles. Julie Hagerty replacing Melinda Dillon threw me out of things a bit, though. She was fine – I just hate different actors playing the same character. I had enough of that in American soap operas. The fan service scenes, and there were a lot, were fine by me. It’s a Christmas favorite & people just want to see the same thing again. To do anything too different from the original is too much of a risk with something like this so they played it very safe. It makes it a little boring, though. It’s pleasant & heartwarming & of course Christmassy but I’d feel no need to watch it again. I’ll stick with rewatching the original if I want to get into the Christmas spirit. – 6.5/10
– Good Luck To You, Leo Grande – I wish Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually could have had a Leo Grande. Thompson & Daryl McCormack are great together in this and he’s so damn handsome. A pleasurable film. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. – 7/10
– Barbarian – Damn. Another big 2022 disappointment. This was an odd one. I wanted to love it as I liked the look of that cool red poster, it sounded like it would be the weird & unpredictable sort of horror I love, and Bill Skarsgård is my new favorite Skarsgård. The film started out great. It was unsettling & I was intrigued as to what might be going on plus Georgina Campbell & Bill Skarsgård were both really good in this. I liked it a lot & was really digging its vibe. And then Justin Long’s annoying character showed up & the entire thing went completely off the rails until that absolute train wreck of an ending.
I’m struggling with what to rate this one as I’m honestly not sure if I absolutely hated this movie or if I actually kind of liked it for indeed being slightly weird & unpredictable. I’m always complaining that too many horror movies are boring & unoriginal so I have to give this one credit for being a bit different. But it really feels like two or three movies spliced up & stuck together and I so wish the whole film had managed to live up to its start. At the very least, I’ll say I’d certainly watch another movie from Zach Cregger as I’d be interested to see what else he has to offer. – 6/10
– Shiva Baby – Another movie that didn’t live up to its cool poster. I do like dark comedy revolving around awkward social situations as I can always relate to being socially awkward so I enjoyed some of that here & really liked the parents. But I do struggle with characters who are just a little too unlikeable & self-absorbed so that was a bit frustrating. Rachel Sennott was very good in this, though – I’d be interested in seeing her in another role. I thought the film was well acted, it portrayed the pressure so often put on us by friends & family accurately, and it had an interesting score from what I can remember. It’s the type of film I can say I appreciated more than actually enjoyed. A “worth a one-time watch” movie for me. – 6.5/10
– Your Christmas Or Mine? – Wow, I didn’t realise there were so many Christmas romance movies. This one was cute enough, with a young couple deciding last minute to each go to the other person’s house for Christmas & then getting stranded & having to spend it with people they’d not yet met. Hilarity ensues! The girl’s family were really likeable & the story was extremely predictable but that’s what you want from a Christmas romcom, right? Worth watching once to get into the Christmas spirit but not one I’d add to my list of movies to watch every December.– 6/10
– Uncharted – An inoffensive & forgettable Indiana Jones crossed with The Goonies. But, you know, not nearly as good or as enjoyable as either of those. It passed the time. I saw it about a week ago & I’m already forgetting what happened in it besides some really dodgy OTT action shit involving planes & flying ships. – 6/10
– My Father’s Dragon – This was fine. It’s very “cute” and aimed quite young, which is a shame as it won’t appeal to all ages as much. I found the story a bit messy. The dragon was funny but in that borderline annoying kind of way (reminded me of Olaf from Frozen). Didn’t realize until finishing that it was a Cartoon Saloon film. It has some nice animation but it’s not in the same league as others from the studio such as The Secret Of Kells & Wolfwalkers. – 6/10
– The Bad Guys – Shouldn’t say much about this as I had it on while wrapping some gifts so admit I wasn’t paying much attention. It seemed like a decent enough heist movie with an extremely predictable story & villain but was probably fun for kids while also being fairly entertaining for their parents. Can’t say it made me want to stop what I was doing to fully watch it or to bother rewatching it at any point. I liked the snake dressed like he was in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, though. – 6/10
– About Fate – A romcom as predictable as expected but the setup at the start of the movie was cute enough. The characters had okay chemistry but the Emma Roberts character was too flaky for me to like and everyone kept making annoyingly bad decisions. There’s also a hateful influencer but at least she’s seen as the shallow baddie. The coat story was nice, though. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10
– Rosaline – I’ve clearly been trying to watch what I can of 2022 releases on services before this year ends. This was fine but yet another film I only watched as it’s a 2022 film on services & I’m not going to the cinema anymore to see what I most want to see. I’ve watched way too many movies that I wouldn’t have even bothered watching in the cinema. Depressing.
I appreciated the story in this, though. At least it felt original, which I can’t say of many current films. But I found most the characters slightly annoying including Kaitlyn Dever’s, who was fine in the role, but I’m not really a fan of any of her work that I’ve seen. To be fair, as I was watching this to “cross it off a list” at the last minute before the New Year, I probably didn’t give it much of a chance & wasn’t giving it my full attention. I just wish I could’ve seen more of the movies I really wanted to see in 2022. – 5.5/10
– The Northman – Tweeted five minutes into watching this thing that “I don’t have the patience for this shit”. And now I don’t have the patience for this review. That’s three Robert Eggers films I’ve suffered through now & I still can’t figure out what everyone sees in them. But I’ve decided that Bill Skarsgård is my favorite Skarsgård. – 5/10
– Zola – Knew this was based on a Twitter thread so figured it must be a fascinating story to have been made into a movie. I was bored & the characters were annoying as hell. I’ve read many Twitter threads that were far more interesting than this story. It felt like this wanted to be a “smart” Spring Breakers (which I enjoyed for some bizarre reason) but this just felt even more shallow & pointless. To sound less negative, I’ll say that Taylour Paige & Riley Keough were good in the roles. But I couldn’t wait for the film to end. And then it didn’t even give us a proper ending anyway… – 5/10
– White Noise – I’ve not logged this film on Letterboxd as I didn’t watch it but it’s worth a mention here. I’ll watch any old shit & in my desperation to see more 2022 releases that I can watch at home, I put this on despite already knowing I tend to hate Noah Baumbach films. Think I managed maybe fifteen minutes? Good Lord, this thing was fucking unwatchable. Absolute torture. It’s not often that I completely give up on a movie so it’s getting the first ever Cinema Parrot Disco zero rating – 0/10
Shorts & Specials Watched In December:
– Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery – This was pretty dumb.
– Rewatched some of my usual Christmas favorites:Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol & Home Alone.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN DECEMBER
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Alice In Borderland: S2– I complained a bit about season 1 of this as, while it started out very strong, I didn’t like the final few episodes when the focus was no longer on the games & they spent far too long on unimportant & annoying characters. But this show really picked up again in season two & I ended up liking this entire show a lot. In fact, we’ve started rewatching it again from the start as it’s the kind of story where, once you get the full explanation (which you luckily DO), it’s good to rewatch from the start with a new perspective. Good stuff. Glad season two got back to the games, some of which were really cool, andback to characters we actually care about.Highly recommend if you liked Squid Game (but that one is still superior).
– The White Lotus: S2 E6-7 – Really enjoyed both seasons of this. I think the first season was a bit better but this one was still good too & the characters were great. Loved Jennifer Coolidge in both of these. Hope we get another season…
– Wednesday: S1 E2-8– Liked this show just fine. Daughter was very into it. I’d watch more if they did another season. I saw way too much of Jenna Ortega in December, though.
– Cabinet Of Curiosities: S1 E1-2 – First two episodes were okay but I wasn’t blown away. Will watch the rest when I get time.
– It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: S1 E4-5 – Still working my way through this. Really like the two brothers but the girl is such an odd character.
– The Peripheral: S1 E1 – Forgot I’d watched this. I’m intrigued but hope it gets better?
– I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Okay, I read another YA book but I don’t care – I like them. And I really liked this one & thought it was one of the better YA books I’ve read in quite a while. The twins were great & complex characters and I like how the story was told from their perspectives at different points in their lives. Good stuff. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.” – 4/5
I’m currently halfway through Fairy Tale by Stephen King & really enjoying it.
Blog Plans For The Coming Month:
Will try to post all my year end ranked lists this week if I have the energy. Very disappointing year for new movies.
I feel like I should end this post with something from the Studio 666 band Dream Widow. Happy New Year!
Oops. Guess I better post this before the end of the year. And I’ll try to finish the year by posting what I watched in December but probably gonna need a break after that. 🙂
MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– Drifting Home – Really enjoyed this. It’s a pretty typical anime with young characters who can be overly dramatic but I really liked the creative story & themes of memory, loss, and friendship. Starts out a little slow but really gets going once they start “drifting” away and there was some lovely animation. One of my favorite 2022 releases that I’ve seen. – 7.5/10
– Anomalisa – I appreciate most of Charlie Kaufman’s work but can’t say I’ve ever loved any of it. Anomalisa really worked for me, though. I’m not sure why. Think I could relate to the film’s main character in some ways & I liked Lisa (am also a fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh so that helped too). Am always happy to see a film that feels unique & I really liked the story. Glad I finally gave this one a chance.
Oh – I also liked seeing “Starburns Industries” as the production company which made me go “Ha! Like Star-Burns in Community!” then finding out later that was actually the case as it was co-founded by Community creator Dan Harmon & Star-Burns himself Dino Stamatopoulos. So, hey – I like the Community link because that show rules. – 8/10
– Glengarry Glen Ross – ACTORS ACTING.
I didn’t know just how many big names were in this but, when I looked it up, it was seeing Jack Lemmon’s name that made me hit the Play button. Wow, he was great. Everyone in this was clearly trying for an Oscar nomination so I was very surprised to see that only Al Pacino was nominated just for being, well, Al Pacino yet again. They all deserve recognition for these roles but I thought Lemmon, Baldwin & Pacino (even though he’s just being Pacino) especially stood out.
If you like plays & intense ACTING from some all-time great actors, this is the film for you. It’s not really the type of film for me & not one I’d rewatch but I’ve rated it highly for the performances & the script & for Jack Lemmon. Well worth watching just to see these guys in action. – 7.5/10
– Relic – This was good. Reminded me a lot of another recent(ish) Australian horror The Babadook, which I absolutely loved & was also a very clever allegory (or is it a metaphor?! I always confuse those!). This is the type of “horror” I like. Found it quite heartbreaking. Need more horror films like this one. – 7/10
– My Summer Of Love – Enjoyed this English countryside drama with strong performances from Natalie Press as a working class girl who falls for rich girl Emily Blunt in her debut film role (and naked). Paddy Considine is also good as the born-again Christian brother of Press. Liked the relationship & how the film ended. From the director of Cold War. Check it out on BBC iPlayer. – 7/10
– Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – This was fun. Liked that it was a parody of a biography, which is the only thing that would make sense for a Weird Al movie. Especially liked the stuff with Madonna & some fun cameos. It’s not as good as his music videos, though, and certainly not in the same league as something like This Is Spinal Tap. But certainly worth a watch for Weird Al fans. – 6.5/10
– My Policeman – This was fine. I liked the story (I always love years of yearning) but the complete lack of chemistry between all the characters meant that the story didn’t have the emotional impact that I’m sure it probably had in the book. Everyone mentions Harry Styles but I was equally unimpressed with most of the performances except for maybe David Dawson’s. An okay film but may have been better with different leads. – 6.5/10
– The Wonder – Good atmosphere & could have used a lot more of the eerie music which I quite liked. Not gonna lie, though: “Florence Pugh” & “Period Drama” are two things that aren’t going to get me excited about watching a movie. Not my type of thing at all but this was an intriguing story, the young girl was good, and I liked the conclusion. Hated how they started & finished the film, though. Totally threw me out of the movie. – 6.5/10
– See How They Run – This movie, as most 2022 streaming releases, was okay. But that’s the problem… I’m so bored with okay movies. At least the ones I really hate tend to be more memorable. I thought Sam Rockwell & Saoirse Ronan worked really well together, though, which made this somewhat dull mystery far more watchable than it would have been without them. There’s some fun humor too. Certainly not a bad film but I know I’ll forget it even exists in a year. – 6.5/10
– Disenchanted – Wow, this was terrible. I shouldn’t “review” it as I fell asleep & missed a big chunk in the middle but I refuse to rewatch it. I saw enough to know I don’t want it to ruin the fun & original first film so I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist just like I do with the Disney live-action remakes. Still love Amy Adams, though. She’s still lovely & did what she could with this absolute mess. – 5/10
Movies Rewatched In November:
– Father Of The Bride – Watched this with the family. Been many years since I last saw this one. I’d say it’s actually held up better than some of the early ‘90s rom-coms. We could use more good father/daughter family films. This is sweet without being overly saccharine. The only annoying bit was when she freaked out over a blender. What?! I don’t remember us being offended by trivial things back in 1991. Also… Steve Martin’s family are meant to be “middle class” compared to the fiancé’s family but live in a big gorgeous house in a lovely neighborhood and can afford a ridiculously expensive wedding. Cry me a river! My daughter loved Martin Short, though. Think she’s a fan since seeing Martin & Short together in Only Murders In The Building. His character is fun & does threaten to steal the whole show in this film. – 7/10
Shorts Watched In November:
– Zen – Grogu & Dust Bunnies – Studio Ghibli & Grogu?! Two of my favorite things ever?!? My heart just about exploded when I watched this. Now if they could add in Totoro, R2-D2, WALL-E & Snoopy I’d need no new media to ever be made again. Loved this. So adorable & peaceful. And Ludwig Göransson‘s score is brilliant (as always). Works beautifully with the Ghibli style.
– The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special – This was…. Not great. Very cheesy. But did like seeing more of Drax & Mantis together.
– Minions & More – Yeah, I like the minions. I don’t care. I think they’re funny.
– The Wonderful Autumn Of Mickey Mouse – Bit of an odd one… Wasn’t really a fan. Give me old school Mickey Mouse.
– Zootopia Shorts – Meh. Not big on the movie but these shorts were fine (except that dumb Real Housewives one because god I can’t stand that type of shit…)
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER
Been watching quite a bit of TV. Which is fine but it’s cutting into movie-time. 🙂
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The White Lotus: S2 E1-5 – Really liked the first series & feel the same about this one. Good characters & I always like a murder mystery where you don’t know who ends up being the victim. But, mainly, it’s all about Jennifer Coolidge. Love her. Best thing about The White Lotus.
– Wednesday: S1 E1 – Think we’d only seen one episode in November but now seen through episode 5. Enjoying the story and the characters are growing on me. Teen daughter seems to love it so that makes me happy.
– Andor: S1 E9-12 – Ended up thinking this was a really good series overall after a few episodes I wasn’t feeling so much. All the prison stuff & the funeral were fantastic. A very strong couple of episodes at the end of this series.
– House Of The Dragon: S1 E8-10 – Was gonna write more about this now I’m finished but can’t be arsed. 🙂 It’s fine but definitely inferior to Game Of Thrones. Much better character development in Thrones. I’ll again say I far preferred the younger Rhaenyra. And the incest is just fucking nuts in this one. Game Of Thrones was bad enough with that. Ew.
Also been rewatching the pilots of various old ’70s & ’80s shows on YouTube for the nostalgia. Never see this stuff re-run in the U.K. Very much missing the sitcoms of my youth. Really enjoyed rewatching the pilots of It’s Your Move, The Facts Of Life, Benson & Taxi.
– Gwendy’s Final Task by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar – Ended up really enjoying this trilogy (review of first book here and second book here). It’s one of those made much better by turning the story into a trilogy & really getting to know the character of Gwendy. I liked how they went all out in the final book. I mean, she manages to get herself up into space in order to try to finally rid the planet of the dangerous button box. That could’ve turned out ridiculous but I thought it worked well & I always love a story set in space. Also enjoyed King having fun with the rich asshole character who is SO obviously modelled on Tr*mp. – 3.5/5
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Gonna try to catch up on watching as many 2022 films as I can before the year ends. Man, 2022 has been another shit year for movies! Massively disappointing. As far as what’s made it to streaming, at least. Hoping some of what I missed in cinemas was good.
As I adored Ghibli Grogu & Ludwig Göransson‘s score, I need to end with a clip of that music:
Happy February! Will try to stick to my resolution to at least post these monthly roundups (and hopefully on time) this year.
As January, the absolute dreariest & most depressing month of the year, was extra depressing this year thanks to the C word (not that C word) I watched way too many movies in an attempt to cheer up. So I’ll keep my comments on each brief.
MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):
– When Marnie Was There – There are very few Studio Ghibli movies I’ve not yet seen (mainly just have the non-Miyazaki ones left to watch). Desperate to see them all but also hate the thought of running out of them! So finally decided to watch this one & absolutely loved it. It just makes it into my Top Ten (which I need to update now) and is easily a favorite of the non-Miyazaki films. What I really liked was the story – there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding Marnie & I loved finding out her history. It’s a lovely, bittersweet film and was a great one to watch with my daughter, who also really enjoyed it. – 8/10
– It Happened One Night – Although I’ve slowed way down on my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge, I still try to watch a few Top 250 movies a year. This Frank Capra film was one I’d most been looking forward to watching & it didn’t disappoint. Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert were absolutely adorable together. I’m not exactly a girly girl & romance isn’t my favorite genre but I do seem to prefer the relationships in these older films. The couples had great chemistry in movies like these. Delightful movie! I should watch more pre-1970 films than I do. – 8/10
– Black Narcissus(1947) – I thought this was some big classic but I don’t actually know anyone who has heard of it? Well, I think there’s some British TV adaptation right now that I have no interest in. I just know I’d seen images of the eerie looking building & bell high on a cliff lots in the past and have wanted to watch this movie for years based on the images alone. Well, that and the name Black Narcissus because it just sounds cool (named after a perfume if I remember correctly from the movie). Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb for those unfamiliar with this British classic: “A group of nuns struggle to establish a convent in the Himalayas, while isolation, extreme weather, altitude, and culture clashes all conspire to drive the well-intentioned missionaries mad.”
I enjoyed this one. It’s a beautiful looking film (as I was hoping from the images) and Deborah Kerr as Sister Clodagh is fascinating as the very stern nun in charge. There’s slowly building tension throughout, leading to an intense finale I’m happy had never been spoiled for me. There’s also a bit of sexual tension with a handsome Englishman. Sexual tension in old movies is the best! It’s why I love Brief Encounter. Am very glad I finally got the chance to watch this one while it was on BBC iPlayer (sorry, think it’s gone now). – 8/10
**Decided to up the rating to 8…
– The Secret Of Kells – Having recently watched Tomm Moore’s gorgeous Wolfwalkers and having seen the equally beautiful Song Of The Sea a few years ago, I figured I’d finally check out his earliest animated film. For some reason, this one had appealed to me the least but I think I actually liked it the most. The animation style was of course fantastic (I’d happily put images from these films up on a wall) but I think I enjoyed the story in this one the most. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.”
If you’ve seen the others, I’d highly recommend this one as well. If you’ve seen none of these & like beautiful animation, fun characters & good folklore storytelling, these are all well worth your time. I saw this on iPlayer as well & think it’s still available. Here’s a second image from the film since there are so many great ones to choose from… – 7.5/10
– Bringing Up Baby – Another movie I was happy to catch on iPlayer (it’s still available) and another one I was happy to cross off my IMDb Top 250 list. Sadly this is one that has disappeared from the Top 250 since that 2013 list I’m still working from. This was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It’s one of those romantic “screwball comedies” from that era. I confess I don’t have much experience with this subgenre. I enjoyed this movie but not nearly as much as It Happened One Night. Grant & Hepburn are very cute together. Hepburn is truly the star of the film as the flighty & clumsy heiress with a leopard named Baby. It’s a sweet film & perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. – 7/10
– The Dig – This was fine. Not gonna lie – it’s not at all my type of thing but I’m absolutely desperate for current movie releases. Really missing my monthly cinema membership & seeing new releases regularly! I like Carey Mulligan, although her acting in these types of dramas is always a bit same-y, and I liked all of the characters in this (especially the Ralph Fiennes character). Speaking of cinema trips, you know what character I absolutely despised years ago?! That guy in those annoying Cineworld Unlimited adverts! Man, I still can’t believe he’s in actual movies now. I mean, he’s fine in this but he’ll forever be that jerk from those adverts to me (sorry, Johnny Flynn). Where was I? Oh yeah. This movie… The acting is fine, the true story is interesting if you like archaeology I guess, but it’s quite slow and character-driven so won’t be for everyone. I’m being generous with my rating as it’s a good enough movie but I’d never watch it again. – 6.5/10
– Pieces Of A Woman – Again, this isn’t really my type of movie. If I were being honest, I’d stick my next movie above this & The Dig but it’s not nearly as “good” as these two. This one is all about the acting & Vanessa Kirby does put in a good performance. I actually preferred her performance as Margaret in The Crown, though. She’s good in this but I also didn’t feel the performance lived up to the hype. Am I allowed to say that?! I also felt that way about the thoroughly overrated (and throughly boring) Marriage Story. Are people just less picky with Netflix movies or something? Or am I just too picky? Anyway, I did feel for these characters & their terrible tragedy, although they were all very hard people to like. But everyone deals with grief differently & I can understand Kirby’s character becoming so emotionally detached. Not an easy movie to watch and certainly not one I’d watch again. Man, Ellen Burstyn knows how to pick the “I never want to watch this again” movies! Imagine this as a double bill with Requiem For A Dream… Or Surviving!! Ha! Bet none of you youngsters have seen THAT one! (I actually watched that thoroughly depressing TV movie multiple times, though. Loved it. Zach Galligan! Molly Ringwald! River Phoenix! I’m so Gen X). – 6.5/10
– Escape Room – I enjoyed this, even though it was a bit f*^king ridiculous. Especially the very end, but most horror movies like these have stupid endings. I don’t know what to say about this… It’s the usual sort of shit but at least it has a fun idea & the different escape rooms the characters find themselves in are entertaining. When it comes to horror, I lower my expectations a lot as most modern horror sucks. I prefer the classics from the ’70s & ’80s. There have been some good ones in recent years, though (The Babadook, It Follows, and especially the delightfully bonkers Mandy which is very much my type of thing). But the good ones are rare so I’m happy to watch these lightweight & utterly predictable ones to pass the time in between the good ones. This was a bit like the recent Countdown and both have a Final Destination vibe (though not as good as that one, of course). Meh. I liked this. The characters were decent & the story was entertaining. I expect nothing more from this sort of thing. – 6/10
– Tangerine – Not sure how to go about reviewing this one. I can’t relate to the lives of these characters in any way whatsoever but I enjoyed watching this “day in the life” film (I like those) & really liked the main characters played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez & Mya Taylor. This is from Sean Baker, the same one who did The Florida Project. I quite liked The Florida Project but am still not sure why. Tangerine is very similar. I think I liked it? But I’m not sure why? If you like one, you’ll like the other (and if you hate one, you’ll hate the other). What an in-depth review! You’re welcome. Watch Tangerine if you like a good puke scene! (That was a lot of puke. Gross.) – 6.5/10
– Sputnik – I was excited about this. Foreign sci-fi!! A Russian Alien!! Sadly, I was disappointed. I think it had a good idea (even though, yes, it’s very similar to Alien), the alien dude thing looked good, and the acting was decent. There’s even a mini twist at the very end. But… I dunno. It just didn’t quite work. I can’t explain why, though, as this is totally my type of thing. Maybe my expectations were just too high as one of my favorites last year was a foreign dystopian sci-fi film (The Platform). – 6/10
– Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – This was pretty crap. I think my daughter just really likes to watch movies starring The Rock (me too). You never know what you’re gonna get with these family films, though. Many are rubbish. But then you get one where they actually put some effort in & every age group is actually able to enjoy it. I’m thinking of a recent reboot with The Rock: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle & The Next Level were loads of fun! Suppose we were hoping for something similar to those but this one was mostly just silly & had dodgy special effects. The tiny elephants were cute, though. I want one! Oh, we also read that you didn’t really need to see the first film first (2008’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth) but I’m thinking it would’ve helped. – 5/10
Movies Rewatched(lots of rewatches during lockdown! I don’t normally rewatch movies often– I’ll be even more brief):
– The Jungle Book (1967) – Classic! Love this one & it’s always been one of my favorites for Disney songs. – 8.5/10
– Despicable Me – I’m a Disney/Pixar/Studio Ghibli girl but I absolutely adore this Illumination film. The relationship between the adorably cheeky girls & hilariously grumpy Gru really makes these films work. AND a brilliant score from Pharrell Williams. AND, of course, the Minions. AND fluffy unicorns. “It’s so fluffy!” – 8.5/10
– WarGames – Hadn’t seen this in years. It has aged better than I was expecting (except for the actual technology, obviously). But it’s still a thoroughly entertaining story and I’ll forever love the ’80s films I grew up on. – 7.5/10
– Howl’s Moving Castle – (Original review HERE). As I said above, I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli & especially love the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Howl’s is as visually stunning & weird as all the rest but it’s never been an absolute favorite of mine as the story is just a bit too messy. I do love Ghibli weirdness but it just works better in Spirited Away for me. I’m still not sure what the heck is actually going on in Howl’s but do love the look & its characters (as with every Miyazaki movie). And Howl is hot with his Bowie-ness. – 7.5/10
– Police Academy – I’ll always love the ’80s & its inappropriate humor. This one was even more inappropriate than I remembered! Ha! Filth. Good thing it’s not on the Disney channel – they’d have to slap a huge disclaimer on it since, you know, humans can’t be trusted to judge these things for themselves & must have history censored for them. – 7/10
– National Lampoon’s Vacation – Surprisingly, I also hadn’t seen this John Hughes-written film in years either & was surprised to enjoy Police Academyslightly more. Not quite as good as I remembered but I still enjoyed it. Am just so used to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation now, which is far superior. – 7/10
– Idiocracy – Again, a film that wasn’t as good as I remembered. I think with this one, I just loved (and still absolutely love) the concept. It’s scarily accurate. Especially after the last four years… We really are turning into a bunch of f*!king morons. The movie becomes more accurate with every year that goes by & for that I think this Mike Judge story is brilliant even if the execution could’ve been better. – 6.5/10
– The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants – I really like this movie, even if it’s a little cheesy & “teenager”. Actually, my rating is a bit low as I probably don’t want to admit that I really like these characters & their stories. I like that we get four stories in one here (I always like movies like that – four for the price of one!). Some are better than others. I’ll rank them! The best story is definitely the Amber Tamblyn one where the cheeky young girl befriends her (that girl is the best character in the whole movie). Next is America Ferrera’s divorced family drama as I felt really bad for her (her dad & his new family were assholes & she was far too forgiving!). Next was the predictable Alexis Bledel Greece romance but Greece itself was gorgeous. Last was definitely the boring soccer romance drama (sorry, Blake Lively). Anyway, I like this movie more than I probably should & think my daughter really enjoyed it too. Much better than that Journey 2 crap! – 6.5/10
– The Shallows – (Original review HERE). Not sure why but I really like this Blake Lively shark attack story (more than her boring soccer romance drama – maybe this should’ve been her Sisterhood story!). It has a predictable backstory setup but, hey, the pretty blonde needs a reason to want to survive. Maybe I just like shark attack movies. I do enjoy most any kind of disaster movie… – 6.5/10
– Pixar Popcorn – Of course we watched all of these super short Pixar shorts. For the most part, they’re not nearly as good as the longer ones we get before films (of course), but there are a few really fun ones here. Surprisingly, I liked the Ducky & Bunny ones the most (they weren’t favorite characters of mine from Toy Story 4). But the one where they argue over who is more lovable is hilarious. Here, I’ll rank them since I’m a pathetic, ranking fool!! (from best to “worst” but of course all are good):
1. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love
2. Dory Finding
3. Cookie Num Num
4. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads
5. Chore Day – The Incredibles Way
6. Soul of the City
7. To Fitness and Beyond
8. Dancing with the Cars
9. A Day in the Life of the Dead
10. Unparalleled Parking
– Modest Heroes (Kanini & Kanino, Life Ain’t Gonna Lose & Invisible) – Watched this collection on Netflix of three shorts from Studio Ponoc, who made the delightful Mary And The Witch’s Flower (from people previously with Studio Ghibli). These were fine but a little underwhelming. The final one, about a lonely guy no one can see, is the best. It’s still worth checking out these shorts if you like anime.
– Canvas – This was a lovely short on Netflix as well about a man who loses his passion for painting after his wife dies. Not as powerful as If Anything Happens I Love You but still good.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY
– Demon Seed by Dean Koontz – Am a big Dean Koontz fan (did a Top Ten list HERE). Honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read this one years ago but think I only saw the 1977 Julie Christie movie based on it. What was disappointing was that I didn’t realise the version I have is actually one that Koontz later re-wrote to update the technology in it & I assume references to specific actresses. I’m old – I can handle reading about out-dated technology. I’M out-dated technology! Anyway, this book is interesting as I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of machines taking over. (They will, you know!!). But it’s also creepy & very rape-y so not one I’d recommend easily to absolutely anyone. There’s a real “woman hating” thing going on here, but I think part of the point of the book is the dreaded “toxic masculinity”. I do wonder if that was as much a part of the original book or if Koontz put more of that in to fit more with the topics of today. – 3/5
Currently Reading Moon by James Herbert as I enjoyed that freaky deaky The Rats book.
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Cobra Kai: Season 3– I’ve gone on about how much I adore Cobra Kai in previous posts so I won’t do that again. I’ll just say that I still love it. As expected, many shows go downhill and that’s the case with seasons 2 & 3 of Cobra Kai too but, luckily, I’d say they’re only going slightly downhill. This isn’t Stranger Things, where I couldn’t even finish Season 3. I still loved every moment of Cobra Kai Season 3 & the writing is still sharp and the characters are still strong. But, at this point, they’ve now covered most everything they can from the films and the teens have all fought each other in every way possible so I don’t see where they can easily go from here. But I’ll keep watching because I love these characters (especially Johnny – still can’t believe they turned that asshole around!).
– The Crown: Season 2 & 2 episodes of Season 3: Oh man, I’m really not feeling the new cast in Season 3. Give me Claire Foy back! I hope these get better again, because I thought the first two seasons were great even though I only started watching this to get to the Diana years in Season 4…
– WandaVision: Season 1 – Episodes 1-4 – I’m not a huge Marvel fan, although I’ve watched all the MCU movies and do like the characters. Am not sure what to think of this show but do love how original it feels. Being an ’80s latchkey kid who grew up watching loads of reruns of shows from the ’50s through to the late ’80s, I’ll always be fond of those shows and like that WandaVision is paying tribute to them (although the fake WandaVision shows aren’t as good as the original classic shows they’re spoofing). After episode four, I’m glad the story seems to be going in the direction I was expecting & I’m looking forward to watching the story fully unfold. But I’m hoping we get back to sitcoms next week as I want to see which ’80s one they do!
– History Of Swear Words – This was fine. A fun throwaway show with lots of swearing. I love swearing, dammit. They covered a different word in each episode. Damn was one – how mild is THAT?! That’s not a swear word. Damn. Nicolas Cage was the perfect host for this. Although Samuel L. Jackson would have been better… Whoa – I have to update my Nicolas Cage Top Ten list!! Mandy would be number one now.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
No plans besides posting these monthly updates. But I’ve been contemplating doing Top Ten lists again as I always enjoyed those…
What I’m really enjoying is trying to make the time to read movie blogs again. I miss the old days (I’ve been here 8 years) but there are some great new blogs. Have been feeling out of touch on movie releases where release dates are a nightmare thanks to the C word & I’ve not had time to read blogs to keep informed. And an old favorite blogger is back! Yay!! I mean old as in was here when I started… (I’d link him but not sure if he’s keeping a low profile). 🙂
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
No clue. Are any movies coming out?! As I said, I’m very out of touch. I still need to catch up on 2020 films that haven’t been on U.K. streaming services yet…
As I end these posts with a music clip, I’ll go with a favorite from The Jungle Book as I mentioned loving the songs in that.
Hi Again. Today I’m posting my final 2020 Top Ten List.
As always, I’m going by U.K. release dates and a lot of the best released in 2020 here were 2019 in the U.S. It was also a challenge to try to figure out actual release dates this year with so many straight to streaming. I also ignore release dates if they were only at festivals at the start (who actually gets to see those?!). So I’m going by general U.K. release dates. I may have a few of these wrong. Not that it really matters…
As I saw so few, I’ll just rank all 34 that I watched. I also missed a lot that I expect would make my top ten if I’d seen them. Let me know what I should be sure to check out of those I missed.
So here are all the 2020 movies released in the U.K. that I saw, counting down to my top ten:
Special Mention: The Mandalorian: Season 2(This was easily my favorite thing in 2020 & I enjoyed it far more than any recent movies) – 9/10
2020 Movies I Missed That I Desperately Want To See:
Possessor (big fan of his dad David Cronenberg), Swallow, The Invisible Man, The Hunt, The Lighthouse, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, Vivarium, Fatman, VFW, Promising Young Woman, Peninsula, Relic, The Lodge, Spontaneous
Would also watch these if recommended (but could live without the Netflix ones & the thought of sitting through Mank doesn’t thrill me):
Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, Unhinged, Proxima, His House, Mank, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Rebecca, The Old Guard, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, The Call, Queen & Slim, On The Rocks, Happiest Season, Underwater, The Rhythm Section, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Blow The Man Down, King Of Staten Island, Black Bear, Run
2020 is almost over! But apparently Nostradamus predicted an even worse 2021?? Wonderful! Looking forward to that zombie apocalypse…
Here’s what I watched in November.
MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– A Whisker Away – Enjoyed this anime film on Netflix, although it clearly wants to be a Ghibli film. Nothing wrong with that, though – who wouldn’t want their film to be as good as Studio Ghibli?? It’s about a girl who switches places with a cat sometimes, enabling her to be close to and get to know the boy she has a crush on. It’s a decent story even if it’s somewhat predictable (at least as far as anime movies go – maybe not so predictable if you haven’t seen a lot of anime). I’d probably have liked it more if it wasn’t a bit similar to the Ghibli film The Cat Returns, which I’d recommend before this but both were enjoyable & worth a watch. I have to say, though, why the hell are teenage girls in Japanese anime romance movies so damn emotional?? Good god – they’re high maintenance! Not really complaining, though, as I’m used to that now & find it kind of endearing. The girl in this is likeable in that noisy & dramatic anime-teen kind of way. Cute film. I liked it. Is it as good as Ghibli or a film by Mamoru Hosoda or Makoto Shinkai? Of course not, but I’d watch more from the makers of A Whisker Away. – 7/10
– Color Out Of Space – Not sure how to review this. I’m a very big fan of Richard Stanley’s Hardware (I never shut up about it – my review is HERE). So I was very excited about this one, especially as it looked weird & beautiful and Nicolas Cage is finally growing on me thanks to the wonderfully batshit Mandy and it’s based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. It sounded like it would be right up my alley! Suppose I was hoping for some kind of Hardware crossed with Mandy crossed with Re-Animator film with this one. It’s nothing like them other than it being weird as shit. Yay! I love weird as shit! Not entirely sure what was going on here. Is it about how we’re ruining the environment? Maybe. I guess there’s some sort of message. Wanted to love this one like Mandy & Hardware but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It starts out veeeery slow until finally going WHAT THE FUCK near the end. Then it got good. Enjoyed the final bit of the movie even though I’m not entirely sure what point the film was trying to make. And I loved the pinky purple colors I’d seen in all the images of this movie – it was lovely and I wanted more of it. I… think I liked this movie? Even if I didn’t love it. But I think it’ll grow on me, just like Mandy did – I started out not sure how I felt about Mandy but now consider one of my favorites of the past decade. As I always say, I watch way too many movies & far too many are boring & forgettable. I like when a movie is unpredictable or shocking. I’m not sure if I can say Color Out Of Space is a good movie, but I’ll certainly never forget it. I appreciate that. – 7/10
– Dark Waters – Good film about an EVIL CORPORATION. I hate EVIL CORPORATIONS!! Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “The story dramatizes Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals.” So, yeah, they poisoned an entire town & loads of people got ill and some died and it’s a true story & I hate that money has power & is valued more than human life & I hate EVIL CORPORATIONS! I don’t tend to watch true story court room dramas much because, yeah, real life shit like this pisses me off so this isn’t my favorite genre. Good story. Decent acting. EVIL FUCKING CORPORATION. – 7/10
– Begin Again – Why do I watch so many Keira Knightley movies? She annoys the hell out of me. That’s maybe unfair… I blame her annoying character in Love Actually! Ugh. Anyway – when she’s not doing her usual period dramas, she usually makes the kind of chick flicks I don’t mind. This one was fine. Mark Ruffalo plays a bitter record exec whose interest in his career is magically renewed when he hears Knightley singing some boring singer songwriter bullshit song in some club. The movie is pretty predictable, as most romcoms are, but the ending was somewhat unexpected so that was nice. With these movies, it’s more about the characters and if you buy into them and they were fine in this. I also liked how they decided to go about recording an album, even if it was a little cheesy. Um. Yeah. Pleasant enough romcom but I’ll probably forget most of it in a year. – 6.5/10
– The Hurt Locker – Watched this only to get another Best Picture Oscar Winner crossed off my Watchlist. I’ll add it to my full ranked list HERE at some point but it’ll be near the bottom. Meh. It was okay. War movies are admittedly not my favorite but I always end up really liking them when they’re truly good (Full Metal Jacket, The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, etc). Those are classics & truly Oscar-worthy types of films. I’ve found so few modern Oscar winners to be the epic classics that the winners from the past were. And as far as war movies go, there are just so many better than The Hurt Locker yet it’s a Best Picture winner? Nah. It’s okay but not the hard-hitting emotional drama I expect from a war film. And Jeremy Renner’s character is an unlikeable asshole. As it’s dealing with a bomb squad, however, it did have some tense scenes that were probably quite stressful to watch in a cinema. So I’ll give it that. Wish I’d cared about the characters… – 6.5/10
– Enola Holmes – This was disappointing. It had some fun moments but I wish it had been better. And is it just me or is Millie Bobby Brown getting a little obnoxious? That’s mean… she’s young. She seems talented so I hope she gets to be in better movies than this one. She did well as its big star, though. Think I’m just maaaaaaybe finally getting bored with the “girl power” thing. It used to be cool. I wanted to be Ellen Ripley! It’s so forced now. Bored with it. Kind of already barely remember this besides Helena Bonham Carter being great as always. Speaking of which, she’s a Suffragette in this and it made me think of her in the film Suffragette. Much better movie. I think, if you have a young daughter, Enola Holmes is a good place to start to get them interested in this sort of thing. I’m sure girls would like Brown’s character. But I think Suffragette would be a great follow-up film. I plan to now watch that one with my daughter as well so she can know a bit more about what it was like for women in that time. – 6/10
– Frequencies (aka OXV: The Manual) – I watched this as I loved the sound of the plot (from IMDb): “In an alternate reality, children learn how lucky they will be (their “frequency”), knowledge which shapes their destiny. The unluckiest boy must parse the mysteries of free will in order to pursue his forbidden love of the luckiest girl.” Wish this had been better & that the characters were more likeable. I suppose that’s hard to achieve, though, in a film where the “luckiest girl” and all the lucky people apparently lack emotions for some reason. I admit I got a little confused by the end, so maybe I’m just not smart enough for this movie. But it also felt like a movie that thinks it’s smarter than it actually is. It was a bit boring but I do appreciate the effort put into an ambitious story on a low budget. – 5.5/10
– Noelle – Ugh. Was hoping this would be a fun new Christmas movie along the lines of Elf. This makes Elf look like a masterpiece. This was actually embarrassingly bad. How are such rubbish movies with such big name stars being made now?? Shirley MacLaine was in this. How do you go from The Apartment to this?!?! Wow – I’m in a bitchy mood today. As if silly, cheerful Christmas movies need to be Oscar-worthy?? I guess you’ll like this fine if you like Anna Kendrick when she plays her usual sort of chipper character. She’s exactly how you’d expect her to be in this one. I’ll be nice & give it an extra half a point for managing to get MacLaine into this. But go watch A Simple Favor instead if you like Kendrick. Her typical chipper character actually worked brilliantly in a dark comedy. – 5/10
– The Martian – Enjoyed this even more on a rewatch. I really liked the book so think I was a tad harsh on the film just because, well, the movies are rarely as good as the books. But this is a very good film with some great edge-of-your-seat stuff & a character you really want to see survive. Not knowing the ending beforehand must have made this a very exciting watch for others. Has definitely gone up in my estimation. – 7.5/10
– Ever After – Yes, I love Drew Barrymore. I grew up with her & try to watch everything she’s in. So I may rate her movies slightly high sometimes but I do think this is a really good variation on the Cinderella story. Still like this one a lot. – 7.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Mandalorian: Season 2 – Think November was up to the Ahsoka episode? God I loved that episode! It was brilliant. And it was only the second best episode this season. Not sure if I’m going to do a full review of The Mandalorian in my December roundup as I don’t think I can put into words how much I’ve loved this show. I’ve enjoyed it far more than any movies in the past couple of years. WHY couldn’t they make the sequel trilogies this good??? Look how easy it was to actually please Star Wars fans! Now even more amazed that they managed to make such a mess of the movies.
– The Crown: Season 1 – I admit it – I paid zero attention to the hype around The Crown until I’d heard they started the Diana years. Then I wanted to see it. Didn’t know they’d cover the Princess Diana stuff! Anyway, this show really is very good. Historical dramas aren’t normally my type of thing but I do enjoy them when they’re as good as this. And I think Claire Foy is great as Queen Elizabeth – am not looking forward to whenever it is that they change actresses. Well, I’m someone who is terrible when it comes to history. Always hated the topic for some reason & my knowledge is terrible on anything to do with the Royal family (to be fair, it’s not like I grew up in the U.K. so I can maybe be excused for knowing so little). But it means I’m thoroughly enjoying watching this story. Even though I know there’s a bunch of made-up shit but, hey – they gotta make stuff exciting for viewers…
– Avatar: The Last Airbender – The daughter suddenly decided she wanted to watch this as I think a friend at school is a big fan. Never mind that I’ve been telling her for ages that I’d heard it was very good & that we should check it out. Kids! I’m a cool mom, dammit. As if I’d recommend bad stuff! 😉 Anyway, it’s quite good but I’ve stopped fully watching as I don’t have the time to devote to it. I watch an episode here & there when the kid does but she’s devouring it! I can’t keep up. She loves it. I’ll say the characters are strong & very likeable plus it’s an interesting story so I can see why it has devoted fans.
Well, I can keep this brief as I didn’t really read anything in November other than several short stories in an Edgar Allan Poe collection I have. I absolutely loved The Masque Of The Red Death when I read it a couple years ago, so have been meaning to read more of his work:
– The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar – This was a bit morbid. I like! – 3.5/5
– A Descent Into The Maelström – Like The Masque Of The Red Death, this was very descriptive & an enjoyable read. – 3.5/5
– The Gold Bug – A fun little treasure hunt story but could have been a bit shorter. And the language used will be considered problematic now so I’m glad I have a copy from before it gets banned or something. – 3/5
– MS. Found In A Bottle – A fun pirate ghost story. Did he have a thing for pirates?? Wasn’t expecting two pirate stories from Poe. I prefer the gothic creepy stuff. – 3/5
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Will try to post my December roundup either end of this week or Monday & then my year-end top ten lists.
Welcome to Day 2 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.
I watched more anime than I realized this year, although not as much as I’d have liked. I still love Studio Ghibli above all else but I’ve really enjoyed exploring more anime the past few years. Looking forward to seeing Weathering With You in the cinema later this month, which is from the same director as Your Name.
I won’t have time to review any of the below like I was hoping but I’ve included the links to my original posts where I talked a tiny bit about each of them.
Here are My Top (not quite ten) Anime Movies Watched In 2019 (counting down to my favorite):
These are the Top Ten lists I’ll be posting this week:
My Top Ten Books Read In 2019 (yesterday)
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)
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…)
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.
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…
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.
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 Nameand 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:
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…
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:
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.
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.
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:
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 – 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
• 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
• 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
• 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 House – I 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.
• Serenity – Diane 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:
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.
• 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 2020… YES!!! 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:
• 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
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 Rhapsody – I 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.
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)
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?
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.
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.
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. 🙂
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) Two high school kids who’ve never met – city boy Taki and country girl Mitsuha – are united through their dreams.
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 Warsas 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.
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.
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!