Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2020

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

Rewatched:

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.

BOOKS READ

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.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2020

Hi All. Hope everyone is healthy & well. Guess I better catch up on these monthly roundups before the end of this shitty year. Here’s what I watched back in July. If I can remember enough to say anything about each of these all these months later… !

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Infinity Chamber – This was decent. One of those movies where the concept was better than the execution but they did well enough on what I assume was a low budget. Here’s the really short synopsis from IMDb: “A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape.” I’m a big fan of sci-fi & of a good sci-fi story so I’ll watch anything in this genre if I like the sound of it. With these lesser known films, you sometimes find some gems (Circle was pretty great) and you sometimes get some duds. Infinity Chamber is at the better end of things but I’d only recommend it to fans of this genre. I was hoping for a bit more, though. I didn’t feel that we got to know the main character well enough & I wanted to be able to sympathise with this poor guy stuck in this automated prison. And, to be honest, I found the plot a little hard to follow. Although I admit I’m not the brightest & often get confused watching complicated sci-fi but the story could have been a little more coherent.

Speaking of lesser known films, though, this film starred Christopher Soren Kelly who was also in a movie I’m happy to have the opportunity to now mention again: The Frame. Another sci-fi film with a fantastic idea, I highly recommend The Frame (on Amazon Prime – I reviewed it HERE). So watch that first! Then watch Circle (not that crappy Tom Hanks movieTHIS Circle). I actually had the actors from both The Frame & Circle thank me on my blog & Twitter for praising those movies. I love when that happens! Those involved with these independent films appreciate it when you enjoy their work so I do try to support films like these. I want to give Infinity Chamber a higher rating than this as I do very much appreciate that stuff like this gets made. I’m always afraid that stuff like this doesn’t always get given a chance so, despite my somewhat “meh” review, do check it out if you’re a sci-fi fan. – 6.5/10

No Country For Old Men – I finally watched this to get it off of two lists I’ve been trying to work my way through: The IMDb Top 250 & Best Picture Oscar Winners. Guess I need to update both those ranked lists but No Country For Old Men will unfortunately be quite far down both lists. I’ve just never been a Coen Brothers fan. Sorry! Is that allowed for a movie blogger?! (FYI – I also hate Wes Anderson movies). Well, I don’t hate the Coen Brothers films. At all. I just don’t exactly like them either. I recognise that they’re good films and, once again, No Country For Old Men is a very good film with some brilliant acting and a truly despicable & hateful character. I guess Javier Bardem was deserving of his Oscar win since I did truly hate his character, as we’re meant to. What can I say? I’ve never liked “the baddies”. I’m always rooting for the good guy & I want to see evil get its comeuppance so most Coen Brothers films aren’t for me. Although I realise their films are never as simple as pure good vs. pure evil, as Josh Brolin’s character in this isn’t exactly a saint. But we see the bad guys win in real life enough so I don’t really need to see it in movies. Yet I love dystopian sci-fi & am a big pessimist & often a fan of a truly depressing movie ending, so… I don’t know exactly why I don’t get on with the Coen Brothers films. Hmm. It’s a good film so I’ll give it a slightly higher rating than I feel like giving it. Plus I don’t want to be yelled at. Not that anyone reads this blog… – 7/10

Wildflower – How the HELL did a movie exist in 1991 starring Patricia Arquette & Reese Witherspoon without me knowing about it?! I was still in high school at that point & this is the type of movie I’d have watched to death. I think it may have been a TV movie? But I somehow missed out on it. I can think of plenty of TV movies I watched to death at that sort of time: The Stepford Children, I Saw What You Did, In A Child’s Name, and this great little Winona Ryder thing called Square Dance, aka Home Is Where The Heart Is, which was kind of similar to Wildflower. Shit, I want to track down that Winona movie & watch it again! Bet it hasn’t aged well. But I’ll always be fond of it in the same way I’m sure I’d have been fond of Wildflower if I’d seen it in high school instead of now. And I thoroughly enjoyed Wildflower as I’m a fan of the actresses & am always happy to discover unseen movies from my teen years as I honestly feel like I’ve seen them all by now. Is it a good movie? Meh. It’s fine. The acting is okay. It does very much feel like a film with a TV movie budget. But I liked the characters and, as you can tell from my No Country For Old Men review, that’s important to me. I enjoyed this. Wish I’d seen it as a teenager. – 6.5/10

She’s Gotta Have It – This is an interesting film to follow the above two as, clearly, I often like films that I can “relate” to. Wildflower has actresses my kind of age (sort of) so I know why I liked it as I was that age in 1991 & it’s somewhat a coming of age story. I can’t relate to anyone in No Country For Old Men in any way whatsoever. But I also can’t relate to anyone in She’s Gotta Have It. However, I liked it much more than No Country For Old Men. I’d possibly even rank it higher (I find it hard to “rank” very different types of films when I do these lists). I of course love to see a strong, independent woman in a movie so I really liked the character of Nola Darling (played by Tracy Camilla Johns). I also liked the men all fighting for her affections as they had such different & entertaining personalities. I kept changing my mind on who she should choose (not any of these men, really – they were idiots!). I fully admit to not seeing many of Spike Lee’s movies other than Do The Right Thing, which I thought was a great film (I’d rank that far above No Country For Old Men). Of course I’m not going to exactly relate to his films being a small town Midwest girl but a good film with good writing is something I’ll always appreciate. I enjoyed the conversations in She’s Gotta Have It. It’s so New York. Or at least how I imagine that big city I’ve never ever been to. I think a lot of people in this world are probably a little fascinated with New York as there are SO many movies set there and I like seeing a slice of life so different from my own. I enjoyed this movie more than I was expecting to & would like to see more of Lee’s work, especially from that late ’80s/early ’90s time period. Any recommendations? – 6.5/10

The Borderlands – I love a good horror. We get so few good horror films these days. This one was… Okay. Not even close to being a great modern horror (like It Follows, Train To Busan or The Babadook). But it was a perfectly decent example of the found footage & religious horror subgenres & had a good creepy atmosphere. I also kind of liked the ending as it got a bit weird. I like some weirdness! The whole thing could have done with more of that. I have NO clue why but this one made me think of horror movie The Ritual. That was an odd one. Oh, probably just because they’re both British. Anyway, The Ritual has gone up a bit in my estimation since I first saw it. That one was better. But if you like that, you might like this. And vice versa. – 6/10

Blades Of Glory – Sometimes you want to chill out with a dumb comedy. I don’t give comedy films enough of a chance as I hate so many of them, especially nowadays. So I tried to be open-minded! But this was disappointing. A little too dumb. Maybe I chuckled once? Can’t remember. Saw this four months ago now & already barely remember it. Meh. Will Ferrell is very hit or miss & this was a miss. – 5/10

Step Brothers – Ugh. This movie was truly dreadful. I actually watched it immediately after Blades Of Glory as I thought it looked like it would be the better of the two and I like John C. Reilly sometimes. I was so wrong! I think it made me appreciate Blades Of Glory more. Dumb & immature jokes and two grown men acting like hateful teenagers. Another big Will Ferrell miss! I’ll stick to SNL Celebrity Jeopardy & Elf. And, hell, that Eurovision movie too as it was surprisingly enjoyable. Cheesy but enjoyable. Step Brothers was just painful. Do people not moan when grown women act immature in things like Bridesmaids?! Why is it okay when grown men do the same sort of so-called comedy? (For the record, Bridesmaids isn’t my type of thing either but the comedy in that was a hell of a lot better than in this piece of crap. I at least get some laughs out of Bridesmaids). – 4/10

Golden Time – This was an animated short on Netflix. I forgot about it until I noticed it listed here all these months later. It was fine. It was certainly better than those two dumb Will Ferrell comedies but it’s just a short so I’m sticking it at the end of my list. And I’m not rating it either. Because it’s four months later & fuck if I remember much about it now!! It was about a TV in a junkyard. I think. What an amazing review! Wow I suck at blogging these days. I probably liked it because there were anthropomorphic inanimate objects. A favorite thing of mine! I used to do a series on this blog called Anthropomorphic Cuteness. I miss doing those posts.

Movies Rewatched In July:

Already reviewed most of these in the past (in the links below). I seem to have spent lockdown re-watching movies more than watching ones for the first time. I’m missing first-time watches, but what’s on offer on the services isn’t great…

Weird Science – I will always love John Hughes movies (which is why I did a big John Hughes Blogathon here years ago. Ah – the good ‘ol blog days. Happy times…) – 8.5/10

The Truman Show – Finally introduced the kid to this one. Think she liked it. I think it’s a great film & that Jim Carrey was perfect for the role. I remember the movie seeming a little exaggerated at the time. Not now! We’re certainly living in this sort of reality show nightmare now. They tried to warn us! – 8/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Meh. The first two films (and books) are so much better. But the kid thoroughly enjoyed these films. – 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Still hate how this book ended… But still think Jennifer Lawrence was born to play Katniss. – 7/10

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – Showed the kid the other (and main) side of Jim Carrey with this one. Should I admit that? It’s a bit inappropriate. Screw it – I saw stuff no less inappropriate at her age. And she of course loved it when he talked with his butt. Kids are so immature… (Speaking of dumb comedy like when I bitched about Step Brothers, I know Ace Ventura is dumb too. But I like it. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

BOOKS READ

Flight Or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King & Bev Vincent – Enjoyed this. I really like short story collections, especially in the horror or sci-fi genres. I’m not going to go into each story but, if you like Stephen King’s stuff (or his son Joe Hill’s), you’d like this collection of stories from various authors both well-known & not so well-known. They’re all stories revolving around airplanes and/or flying. So don’t read it while on a flight! Not that anyone can fly anywhere at the moment anyway… – 3.5/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz books. They’re a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I ranked them all HERE once. Well, I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Well, I made no notes here of what I watched so I guess I watched no TV shows in July. Let’s be honest – only The Mandalorian & Cobra Kai are worth watching anyway. Those are the only shows I’ve truly enjoyed in years.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Umm. Maybe I’ll attempt to post my monthly roundups for August, September & October? If I can be bothered. 🙂 I’ve watched nothing that great anyway. Except The Platform! That was good. Man, I can’t wait to see Pixar’s Soul at the end of December…

I always try to end these roundups with good music from a movie that I watched that month. Think I’ll go with something from Weird Science. John Hughes always chose the best music for his movies. This is my absolute favorite song from Weird Science & an overall Eighties favorite of mine – here’s Tenderness by General Public:

Parasite (2019) Review

Parasite (2019) (기생충, 寄生蟲, gisaengchung, kisaengch’ung)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Chang Hyae-jin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Parasite stars Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, and Park So-dam, and follows the members of a poor household who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating the household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

My Opinion:

After a year of hearing everyone raving over this on Twitter, the UK is FINALLY getting the chance to see it today. I was beyond excited & extremely happy to see it two weeks early with my cinema membership. It’s a very good film. But is it a masterpiece as so many are claiming? I hate how any halfway decent current film gets declared a damn masterpiece. Let a movie age a bit! See if it stands the test of time. Will Parasite be a “masterpiece” 20 years from now? I’m not sure about that but I think it’ll always be a well respected film. I expected this to be my favorite Best Picture Oscar nominee as I love foreign films. It might be my favorite but in some ways I think Joker is a better film despite people whining about it (although Parasite is far more “me” than a Scorsese-wannabe comic book movie). Okay, yes – Parasite is probably my favorite Best Picture nominee this year… I admit it’s grown on me over the past two weeks.

Despite the hype, I didn’t go into a Parasite with really high expectations as I’ve not loved any of Bong Joon-ho’s work that I’ve seen. Although the concept for Snowpiercer was amazing, the film was a bit of a mess. Okja was mostly just annoying as, with Snowpiercer as well, the characters were so unpleasant & ridiculous (especially Swinton & Gyllenhaal). I think I may have actually enjoyed his film The Host the most as I like a decent monster movie & the young girl in it was really good (and one of the only Bong Joon-ho characters to not be hateful in some way). However, as much as I hate hateful characters (which is why I suppose I haven’t gotten on with his work), they work perfectly for Parasite. I mean, it’s a social satire & the whole point of the film. Actually, these are probably his least hateful movie characters as the bad in each of them is far more subtle & none of them are the ridiculous Swinton-type caricatures. Everyone is flawed in some way, making them feel more real (we’re all flawed). You feel both sympathy & repulsion for every character at various points in the film.

I do think Parasite is a clever film with far deeper characters than we’ve had in Bong Joon-ho’s other work (that I’ve seen) & I understand some of the hype. It’s certainly his best film & I did enjoy the strange mix of genres, especially the dark humor. I was just hoping I might love Parasite. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a new movie that I know will be an all-time favorite of mine. Parasite is a very good film but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. I respect it. It’s well-written, it looks fantastic (it’s too bad I’m doing a short review so don’t have many images from the film as there are some great shots), and the acting is very good. But there are loads of foreign films I’ve thought were much better that didn’t get this same level of acclaim. Still, I’m happy to see a foreign film getting so much attention & hope that maybe it will open more people up to the idea of checking out some non-English language movies.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Jojo Rabbit (2019) Review

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Roman Griffin Davis portrays the title character, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, a Hitler Youth member who finds out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. He must then question his beliefs, while dealing with the intervention of his imaginary friend, a fanciful version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

My Opinion:

Hmm. I liked this movie. I didn’t love it like, yet again, Film Twitter did. But they love every current movie release that doesn’t totally suck. When will I learn to ignore the hype from obsessive young film fans?? I do love satire & dark comedy and, though this is obviously a controversial topic, it’s not like it hasn’t been done in this way before. Has no one watched any movies from before the year 2000? I do think Taika Waititi is pretty damn funny, especially on Twitter, and seems like a lot of fun to hang out with. But chill, people. He’s funny. He’s made some decent movies. Jojo Rabbit is a pretty good film. Again, though, let’s not overreact. There are better films (and worse ones, of course).

This is obviously a divisive film (although I’ve only really seen either love for it or people complaining about people hating it despite me seeing no negative tweets or posts about it??). A film like this is obviously always going to be an uncomfortable watch. “Funny Hitler” is a difficult thing to pull off. I’m not completely sure if Waititi fully managed to make it work but, overall, the movie succeeds in giving us some funny moments and some truly heartbreaking ones. I thought it maybe kept things a little too light for such a heavy topic but, to be fair, I think it will have been hard to get the perfect balance between the humor & the horror. Not being a lover of drama movies, the lighter tone worked for me anyway but it may not suit everyone.

Roman Griffin Davis is good as the title character & I knew Thomasin McKenzie would make it big after seeing her in Leave No Trace. I also loved the small part of the friend, played by Archie Yates (he’s adorable). They all did well portraying the innocence of young kids caught up in a horrific time. And Scarlett Johansson was great. I’m still not sure how I feel about her as an actress as she kind of rubs me up the wrong way but there’s no denying that she’s been brilliant in some of her roles. Her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for this movie is deserved. Her character and, of course, the kids are what make this movie and give it some heart. Without them, it would have been too “silly” and lacking in emotion. Overall, I don’t think Jojo Rabbit is a perfect film but it did well with subject matter that could turn into a truly disastrous film if not handled well. And, as I absolutely adore the Charlie Chaplin movies I’ve seen, I’m now kicking myself for not yet seeing The Great Dictator to be able to compare these two films. If I wasn’t taking a blog break, I’d do a post on them both. Maybe next year…

My Rating: 7/10

Little Women (2019) Review

Little Women (2019)

Directed by Greta Gerwig

Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.

My Opinion:

I’m not on the Greta Gerwig bandwagon. Her movies are decent. But neither this nor Lady Bird are “Best Picture” material. Yay for a woman being recognised by the Academy finally, I guess? But why Gerwig? There are better films that have been made by women. Okay – I’ll shut up now before I get in trouble. At least her movies are more worthy than her male partner’s (I thought Marriage Story was a self-indulgent snoozefest). I also admit to not being able to stand Emma Watson. Saoirse Ronan is okay but will never ever be a favorite actress of mine. Yeah, I know – I’m old so these people aren’t my generation. I know they have their fans. I also don’t get the Timothée Chalamet thing. Fuck it – I like what I like! I’m not going to pretend to like movies or actors just because they’re currently popular. So I went into this with low expectations.

Well, hell. I quite enjoyed this movie. I have a huge embarrassing confession to make, though. Although I read a lot & do try to read some books before watching the film adaptations, I never read Little Women. More surprisingly, I have also never seen any other film adaptations. And even more surprising than that, I’ve managed to almost completely avoid spoilers for this story for over 40 damn years (other than about Beth). Honest to god, I didn’t know how this story would play out. And I loved that. I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story. However, is that thanks to Gerwig & some actresses I don’t particularly like? No but I’m glad they made it a fun watch & I even managed to not hate Emma Watson despite her making her usual scrunchy “acting face”. I should’ve read this book. Why didn’t they make us read this one in school?! Damn American educational system! Because this is a good story and I loved it. These characters are great and I loved how different their personalities were. I can see how everyone will have a favorite character from this story. Not sure who my favorite is but I’m going to read the book to decide that as they could be quite different (Florence Pugh was a lot of fun as Amy but I’m guessing she’s the most unlikeable in the book).

Luckily, the British educational system did make my hubby read this one as a kid (he’s a Beth fan, though I’m sure he’ll correct me if I got that wrong). One thing I’ll say is that he absolutely hated how they messed with the linear narrative of the original story. The movie’s story jumps around a lot and some very big reveals are shown right away, which he thinks will have ruined the story for me and for anyone one else who may also be new to Little Women. I have to say the nonlinear structure didn’t work well and, yes – it did ruin what could have been some very big moments. What a shame. Why mess with such a classic? The time jumps also weren’t portrayed well as the characters didn’t look much different despite it sometimes being years later, making it slightly confusing if you weren’t paying close attention (we could hear the people in front of us talking to each other & often being confused as to what just happened). Oh, Amy has bangs/a fringe… We must be in the past again! It was a stupid way to try to be “clever” with a story that people have been perfectly happy with for years. So, what can I say? I enjoyed this movie but let’s be honest: The credit goes to Louisa May Alcott. It’s a brilliant story. I loved it. I’m sorry I haven’t yet read the book. Shame on me.

My Rating: 7/10

Green Book, Instant Family, Can You Ever Forgive Me? & Eighth Grade Movie Reviews

I managed to see four 2019 UK cinema releases while on planes to and from America in August (I realize they were 2018 releases in the US). I’d not flown anywhere for years – When did the movie selection get so good & recent?? I figured I’d give these quickie reviews since I try to review all UK film releases each year. I’ll start with the best and end with the worst…

Green Book (2018)

Directed by Peter Farrelly

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard.

My Opinion:

I’m glad I managed to catch up on seeing this controversial Best Picture Oscar winner. I enjoyed it. I know there’s a lot of hate for this one but I thought the performances were strong and I always like stories involving an unlikely friendship between two very different personalities. I thought Mahershala Ali was great in Moonlight and, at the time, was hoping he’d get more roles so I’m happy that’s happening (and that he keeps winning Oscars). I thought his character & Viggo Mortensen’s worked well together and it felt realistic in that the friendship was often awkward and grew very slowly as they were so different.

Is it true to their real life story? I think some of the controversy comes from Don Shirley’s family saying the two weren’t friends at all (the film was co-written by Frank Vallelonga’s son) but interviews with Shirley himself say differently. Who knows? That’s just what I read at Wikipedia to try to find out what caused the controversy surrounding this movie but I’ve read no more than that. I love movies for their escapism so don’t often go for the “true story” films anyway. I like to think it’s all true but know that movies always play up the feelgood factor. As long as it doesn’t feel too over the top & phony, I’m happy enough with a little bit of feelgood cheese.

At least Green Book keeps it fairly real as things are far from perfect during their journey but I’d have liked a tiny bit more focus on the history of the actual Green Book itself (but that would easily make for another whole separate movie). The focus here is on the friendship between the two men and, as far as roadtrip friendship movies go, I found Green Book enjoyable despite any issues surrounding it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Instant Family (2018)

Directed by Sean Anders

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Octavia Spencer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A couple find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children.

My Opinion:

This movie was fine. It actually had a great IMDb rating when it came out in the U.K. and I’d really wanted to see it but the feelgood cheese (as I mentioned in my Green Book review) was a little too much at times in this one.

To be fair, though, this movie was marketed as a comedy drama so it kept things fairly light instead of being a hard-hitting drama at all times (which isn’t my thing anyway – real life is depressing enough!). I just think that this situation in real life would probably be far more challenging than depicted and, for whatever reason, I never felt a strong connection between the couple and the foster kids although the actors all did a perfectly fine job.

The strongest performance was from Isabela Moner as the headstrong and challenging teenager. She was tough but not totally hateful, which is often a danger with teenage characters. The relationship between her character & Rose Byrne’s felt the most realistic and it was nice seeing those two grow closer. Overall, Instant Family was a nice and somewhat safe film that was at times a tiny bit contrived but, oh well – A feelgood film never killed anyone.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Directed by Marielle Heller

Based on Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biographical film based on the confessional memoir of the same name by Lee Israel. Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and the story follows her attempts to revitalize her failing writing career by forging letters from deceased authors and playwrights.

My Opinion:

This was a pretty typical movie with Oscar nominations for acting: The acting was fantastic but the movie was just okay. The true story is actually pretty interesting but I guess it didn’t translate well to film as I was a bit bored throughout the movie. However, Melissa McCarthy & Richard E. Grant were so great and such entertaining characters that this one was still well worth a watch to see their Oscar-nominated performances. I think both of them haven’t gotten enough credit over the years (Yes, even McCarthy, whose brand of humor isn’t my thing for the most part but I can see why she has fans). It’s great that they got recognition for their parts in this film as they’re what made it enjoyable and they had really good chemistry. I’ll keep this short, though, as I honestly have nothing else to say about this movie. Good story, a little slow & boring at times, but fantastic performances and interesting characters.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Eighth Grade (2018)

Directed & Written by Bo Burnham

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Fred Hechinger

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The coming-of-age story follows the life and struggles of an eighth-grader, played by Elsie Fisher, during her last week of classes before graduating to high school. She struggles with social anxiety but produces vlogs giving life advice.

My Opinion:

This came out aaaaages ago in America but was only finally released in the UK in April this year. It got brilliant reviews from “Film Twitter” people and, even though I’m an old lady, I’m still always up for a really good coming of age film ever since falling in love with Stand By Me during my own coming of age years. Plus, I can relate to the whole socially awkward thing since I’m still awkward as shit.

Well, damn – This movie was very disappointing. I’ll say that the actress, Elsie Fisher, did a good job and felt very real (she seems sweet – I have nothing bad to say about the actress). She also did the socially awkward thing extremely well so, in that regard, I identified with her (even though she was actually far more awkward than I ever was!). However, I couldn’t relate to the character in any other way whatsoever. I know that pre & early teens can be annoying as hell but her character really was a bit too hateful for me to care at all what would happen to her. And her dad just put up with her whiny bullshit and her being a bitch to him and he didn’t monitor her time spent online AT ALL.

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m sounding old. But, seriously – keep your kids away from all forms of social media as long as fucking possible! It’s dangerous. And if you can’t do that for some reason, monitor what the hell they’re doing! FYI – the girl is a vlogger and this movie is NOT about the dangers of living a phony online existence – It’s just about not fitting in during the most awkward time of life. I’m simply having my own personal rant because seeing young girls living out their lives online and pretending to be something they’re not breaks my damn heart. Do we seriously need a whole generation of superficial KardashiJenners?! I can’t stand that fake bullshit and don’t want real-life girls like this character committing suicide when they can’t live up to the impossible standards set by “influencers” and people with an unlimited supply of money.

No, this movie isn’t about suicide or depression or anything like that – It’s a “comedy” drama, supposedly. Maybe I just AM too old for teen movies now as I found Booksmart disappointing as well. However, I thought The Edge Of Seventeen was very good and a more realistic portrayal of being a teen. I don’t know – I just think Eighth Grade would’ve been better with a more likeable and therefore more sympathetic main character. And possibly with “comedy” that was actually funny – I had to double check to see if this was actually considered a comedy. It also felt like it dragged on forever, despite being a short film. It has one of those typical meandering indie movie storylines that doesn’t go anywhere – I don’t know how I managed to stay awake watching this one on the plane. I suppose that reading all the hype for this one while waiting at least a year for it to come out in the UK didn’t help either as my expectations were probably way too high. What a massive disappointment.

My Rating: 5/10

The King’s Speech (2010) IMDB Top 250 Review

The King’s Speech (2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 160 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

My Opinion:

Happy Boxing Day! I love this day. I prefer this day to Christmas Day. Far less stressful! Which is why I’ve decided to do a mega quick & lazy review of The King’s Speech, which was one of only three movies I managed to watch for my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2018. I’m seriously slacking on that! (The other two were Citizen Kane & Metropolis, which I’ll review tomorrow).

I didn’t get around to this review as I don’t have much to say about this movie. I hate that. I mean, it’s a good film but I find my reviews only get wordy when I really love or really hate a film (I ramble on for ages when I really hate something). Too many films are somewhere in between: Enjoyable enough while watching them but somewhat forgettable. The King’s Speech is like that. And it won Best Picture at the Oscars! Hmm. Here’s what it beat:

127 Hours (not seen it – there’s that arm bit – ew)
Black Swan (certainly more memorable than The King’s Speech)
The Fighter (meh)
Inception (Nolan is overrated)
The Kids Are All Right (meh)
The Social Network (decent film but also meh)
Toy Story 3 (yeah, I prefer this to The King’s Speech)
True Grit (not seen it)
Winter’s Bone (meh)

Okay – it looks like it was a weak year for films. Now I’m wondering what wasn’t nominated at all that may have been better than these (I’m too lazy to bother looking into that).

I remember that I watched this just after watching Darkest Hour so it was interesting seeing that same time period in English history. Movies are the only way I gain any knowledge of history – I have such a Hollywood version of world history in my head. Pathetic, I know. What can I say? I prefer sci-fi & fantasy. I remember thinking Timothy Spall made for a terrible Winston Churchill in this compared to Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance. Not that it matters – it was a very small part since this movie is about King George VI. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all truly fantastic in their roles. That’s why it won Best Picture. Those Academy voters love historical dramas with English accents. Well, Rush isn’t English but Americans can’t tell the difference anyway…

Colin Firth won Best Actor for this, which I think was fair enough. He’s very good in this but I find him rather boring. He plays this stuffy sort of role so often (which is why I guess it was kind of fun seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service). I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance and think she deserved an Oscar as well instead of Melissa Leo in The Fighter. Hell, I don’t even remember Leo’s performance – I only remember her swearing in her acceptance speech. To be fair, Bonham Carter plays these stuffy sort of roles more often than Firth but I don’t find her boring. She’s damn good. I’ve never considered myself a fan but I think she always gives a great performance. Maybe I am a fan?? I’ve not watched her stuffiest stuff, though. Maybe I should check out some of that Merchant Ivory shit?? As for Geoffrey Rush, he’s fantastic in this too and also deserved an Oscar (instead of Christian Bale in The Fighter – I hate Bale). But I think Geoffrey Rush is the latest celeb in trouble for some sex stuff from the past so I’ll say no more. At this rate, I’ll have to delete half my blog if I have to get rid of any mention of certain actors…

I said I’d keep this short. The King’s Speech is a good film with fantastic performances. It’s one of those “one-time watch” movies, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I did actually enjoy it but I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. It’s certainly weak compared to all the other Best Picture winners & nominees in the history of the Oscars. It’s certainly not the worst, though (I’m looking at you, The English F*%king Patient!). Since I’m a sad & pathetic list maniac, I did rank every Best Picture Oscar Winner I’ve seen HERE and I’ve now added The King’s Speech. It’s toward the bottom but I did enjoy it. I feel like I’m being too harsh on this one! It’s just not all-time classic “Best Picture” material. Or IMDb Top 250 material, which is why I think this has actually now dropped out of that list (I started this project in 2013 so I’m still working off the list from that time).

My Rating: 7/10

Rocky (1976) Blind Spot Review

Happy Birthday to Sylvester Stallone, who turns 71 today! Guess I better review Rocky, which I’ve finally watched for Blind Spot 2017. Finally, right?!

Rocky (1976)

Directed by John G. Avildsen

Written by Sylvester Stallone

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

Music by Bill Conti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far this year, from my least favorite to my favorite:

8. The Last Temptation Of Christ
7. The Raid
6. The King & I
5. The Hustler
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Jackie Brown
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

So, yeah – I liked Rocky the most (so far). It’s one of those movies that’s so iconic & has been spoofed so often that it felt like I’d seen it already anyway. I suppose that’s why it’s taken me so long to finally get around to watching the whole thing. I’ve seen bits & pieces of it over the years and knew the ending. It was definitely worth sitting down to finally watch it from start to finish, though. About damn time, right?!

Watching Rocky also means I can add another movie seen to my IMDB Top 250 Project (It’s currently at number 218. WTF? Too low). Yay! Another one crossed off my list (I’m never gonna finish watching those 250). Oh, and I can add it to my list of My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners! Okay – I’ve just updated that post so you can go have a look to see where I’ve placed Rocky. Nah, screw getting extra views – I’ve put it at number six. It’s good. It’s worthy of its status. I’m glad it won Best Picture. What did it beat? *Googling now*… All The President’s Men (not seen it), Bound For Glory (wtf is that?), Network (okay but Rocky is better), and Taxi Driver (erm, like Rocky I feel like I’ve seen it but don’t think I’ve ever seen it all the way through. Rocky is better anyway).

Should I get around to reviewing Rocky? I’ll be honest – I don’t really want to. It’s been around forever and has such loyal, diehard fans that you should really just go read reviews done by those who have a strong personal connection to this character and the film’s themes (like Eric of The IPC – this is his review). As the plot synopsis above says, this film is all about “going the distance” and believing in yourself and all that feelgood hoohah that so many movies attempt but very few manage to achieve without feeling phony & contrived. Rocky is genuine.

I was quite surprised when looking Rocky up at IMDB for this review to see that it has quite a low “metascore” (that’s the rating from “professional critics”). This is where professional critics piss me off. How miserable do you have to be in life to not at least be slightly moved by one of the best feelgood movies out there? Admittedly, Rocky is going to feel somewhat dated in its themes nowadays as sooooo many movies have tried to do similar since. But this came out in 1976 and there hadn’t yet really been any movies quite like it (that I can think of, anyway, but I’m probably wrong because I often am). It seems like uplifting, feelgood movies often get slammed by critics. Who wants dreary & depressing all the time?! Just because a movie is depressing, it doesn’t always make it good. And just because a movie is uplifting, it doesn’t always make it bad. Yeah, I’m also one of those lovers of feelgood galore The Shawshank Redemption. It makes me happy. And that’s okay, professional critics! It’s okay to be moved by a film because it makes you feel good! I happen to think that truly good filmmaking is the ability to make an audience love your film because they connect so deeply with your characters and/or your story. I know that Rocky is one of those types of films. Like my Shawshank, I can fully understand why Rocky means so much to some people.

Shit. I’ve still not really talked about Rocky yet in my Rocky “review”. Let’s start by talking about the character of Rocky. Am I a fan of Sylvester Stallone? No, not in the slightest. Is he a good actor? Nope. But that doesn’t matter. As Rocky, he’s perfect. He IS Rocky. I just read this little tidbit at Wikipedia:

“United Artists liked Stallone’s script, and viewed it as a possible vehicle for a well-established star such as Robert Redford, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, or James Caan. Stallone appealed to the producers to be given a chance to star in the film. He later said that he would never have forgiven himself if the film became a success with someone else in the lead.”

Seriously?? Those choices would’ve been SO wrong to play Rocky and the movie wouldn’t have achieved so much success without Stallone in the role. I’m glad he fought for the part (and like the fact that the movie itself was an underdog that went on to beat the odds, just like Rocky himself). I think, having written the script, it really shows in Stallone’s performance how the character is a part of him and that we wouldn’t have gotten the same genuine feel from another actor. It’s why Rocky became such a beloved character. I can see why this movie propelled Stallone to fame and why he still has loads of, let’s face it, dude fans. He’ll still never ever be a favorite actor of mine but I certainly have more respect for him now. He makes this movie what it is. So don’t avoid this film if, like me, you don’t necessarily love Stallone.

Also, don’t avoid this movie if you don’t like sports movies or boxing. Yes, those elements are what have made this movie one that has made many manly men freely admit to crying manly man tears over. I f*^king hate sports. All sports. Especially boxing! Rocky isn’t really a sports movie and it has about as much actual boxing in it as British households have on Boxing Day (which is probably a little bit as family get-togethers at Christmastime can be very stressful). Seriously – I decided to torture myself by watching this & Million Dollar Baby over the same weekend back in February. Million Dollar Baby has a million times more boxing in it (but still not loads). However, I ended up loving them both. So, if I can like two “boxing movies” (that aren’t really about boxing), I promise that you can too! And one is a feelgood movie and one is depressing as f*^k but both are good. (But critics probably prefer the depressing one, as I previously bitched about in this review already). Where was I? Rambling, as always. There’s hardly any boxing in Rocky. Just FYI. Who knew??? (But I still don’t like Raging Bull very much. Certainly not a feelgood movie and probably a miserable critic favorite).

Oh! Burgess Meredith! I love Burgess Meredith. He was actually the biggest reason I wanted to finally make myself watch this film. And he’s great in the role of Rocky’s trainer. He’s perfect. I badly want to watch all the Rocky films now (but I’m waiting for hubby to make the time since he says he wants to watch them with me. Hint hint). I’m not stupid and know the rest aren’t meant to be great but I want to see what happens and I’m hoping Meredith has a bigger part in the second film. But….. I’m not sure what happens beyond that (other than finally getting to hear Eye Of The Tiger in, what, number three?). I’ve done my best to avoid the Rocky series spoilers this long but it hasn’t been easy!!! FYI: don’t read the synopsis for Creed if you KNOW NOTHING because I actually didn’t know… Something about someone. Ha. Damn. All I know is that Rocky & Adrian better stay together throughout them all or I’m going to be seriously pissed off (don’t tell me).

You gotta love Rocky & Adrian’s relationship. I loved those two crazy kids and their weird ass romance. It was sweet. And a little nerdy. They’re made for each other. Hollywood nepotism gets on my nerves but these two are such a perfect match that I’ll let that “how many f*^king Coppolas ARE there?!” thing with Talia Shire slide. At least her then-husband didn’t compose the music for the film, as originally planned. Can you imagine having Rocky without Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now song? No. You cannot. That song and its montage scene is one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Oh, and Carl Weathers was cool too. I look forward to seeing him in more in this series (He IS in more, right? How many? More than Meredith?? Wait. No. Don’t tell me).

Summary:

Rocky is good. Rocky makes grown men cry for some strange reason. I can’t claim to have gotten at all misty-eyed while watching it and I won’t pretend that I fully connected with it or that it moved me in the way it has moved a lot of (mainly male) viewers. However, it deserves the love it still receives to this day and I can fully understand why some people love it. It’s one that all film lovers should watch at least once if they want to continue calling themselves film lovers. No, it’s not a new all-time favorite of mine personally but I enjoyed it and I especially liked the characters, which is the most important thing to me when it comes to movies. Rocky lives up to its reputation and slightly exceeded my expectations.

My Rating: 8.5/10

*I saw this movie back in February and I’ve only seen it the one time so hopefully all these pictures I used are from the first movie & not the sequels or else some Rocky-loving dude will probably come along & yell at me… 😉

Million Dollar Baby (2004) IMDB Top 250 Review

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 87 today. This time last year, I did a week of Clint Eastwood reviews (you can see My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE, updated to now include Million Dollar Baby).

I still wouldn’t exactly call Eastwood a favorite actor of mine but I’m glad that I finally explored some of his biggest films last year as I liked them a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Million Dollar Baby was still a big omission, however, so I’m glad I’ve finally watched that now as well. And, again, I like another Eastwood movie far more than I was expecting to! And, of course, the awesome Morgan Freeman is in it as well (who I would call a favorite actor & whose birthday is tomorrow – guess what Top Ten List I’ll be doing tomorrow…). 😉 Okay – I’ll shut up & review the movie now.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Based on Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anthony Mackie, Margo Martindale, Riki Lindhome, Michael Peña, Benito Martinez, Grant L. Roberts

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 172 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

My Opinion:

I avoided watching this film for years. I was like “It’s a boxing drama? Pass!”. (Kind of funny that I’ve just watched Rocky for the very first time the same week that I watched this. But I digress). Mainly, though, I avoided this because, when it came out, some annoying assholes decided to spoil the whole damn plot. So I’ve always known exactly how this ends. And that pisses me off. I know it’s not always possible to avoid spoilers but, in the case of this film, there was an uproar since what happens went against the beliefs of some people and they felt the need to warn the public (or something like that) before the film had even been fully released (if I remember correctly). Annoying.

Anyway! This is a great film. I expected to possibly find it contrived (films that try too hard to pull on the heartstrings & just come across as phony piss me off as much as people who spoil films). I expected to not be affected by this film since I knew the whole damn plot already. But it’s a good, heartfelt drama that came across as quite genuine and had fantastic actors playing likeable characters you wanted to see succeed. I sure as shit can’t say I exactly “enjoyed” it (holy hell! I don’t do well with serious dramas). But it’s not the overhyped Oscar bait I had kind of feared it might be.

Come to think of it, I guess this means I should also update My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners list at some point with both this & Rocky. That list includes all 50(ish) Best Pictures that I’ve seen and I have to say that both these damn boxing dramas potentially break into my top ten. Easily top 20 for sure. I’ll have to think about it some more! They’re certainly my favorite boxing movies (Raging Bull didn’t thrill me…). 😉

It’s a shame that Hilary Swank kind of disappeared into bad movie obscurity after this & Boys Don’t Cry (a movie that manages to be even more depressing than this one). Clearly these sort of heart wrenching dramas did suit her but you can’t blame her for trying other things – Starring in nothing but these sort of films would probably mess with your head eventually. I really liked her character in this. Her enthusiasm and single-minded determination are infectious in the same sort of way that made us all like Rocky Balboa and to want him to succeed.

Swank & Eastwood make a great team and their relationship by the end of the film is beautiful & heartbreaking. Million Dollar Baby probably gets somewhat ignored compared to Eastwood’s full-on “guy” movies & bromances but, as great as I think he was in dude movies with the likes of Lee Van Cleef, his mentor/protégée and ultimately father/daughter-like relationship here is a welcome change (and just as good & valid as the bromances). Swank & Eastwood make this film.

But there’s still some male camaraderie for anyone needing that as well. Freeman plays Eastwood’s ex-boxer friend (and… co-owner? or maybe just a trainer living in the gym Eastwood owns. feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I love Freeman and he’s as great as always and another reason why I ended up liking this film much more than I’d been expecting. There’s a story on the side involving skinny little Jay Baruchel wanting to be a boxer & Freeman taking him under his wing. I really liked this story as well (plus that cool confrontation involving Freeman & one of the young boxers). The main story involving Swank is of course the most important but it was good to get a bit more to the movie besides just that.

I just have to end by saying: Oh man – I hated the f*%k out of Swank’s family in this! Which made her character all the more likeable. To put a horrible upbringing behind her & to try to live her dream is the uplifting sort of message people look for in a good story. Which is another reason why I think some people were probably angered by the ending of this film. What IS the ultimate message at the end? But life isn’t always fair & a Hollywood ending in real life is rare. I do watch movies for escapism and do prefer a happy ending but I also can’t get angry at a movie telling a story in a realistic way. I think some people felt cheated by this film. I think we were given a good film with powerful performances & a message of determination and friendship. It’s not an easy watch but it’s a good film I’m glad to have finally seen.

My Rating: 8/10

My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners (And Bottom Five!)

I’m continuing my Oscar-themed week with this list of my favorite (and least-favorite!) Best Picture Oscar winners.

The Academy does quite often get things very wrong (especially in recent years) but when looking at a list of all the winners, there are indeed a lot of true classics here that I’d highly recommend to everyone.

I have my little IMDB project where I’m trying to watch all the IMDB Top 250 Films so I’m not about to start attempting to watch all the Best Picture Winners. However, when making this list, I discovered that I’ve already seen 47 so I guess that isn’t too bad! So I ranked them ALL (because I’m sad like that). But I’ll of course focus on the top ten.

So now, counting down to My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners, these are all of them that I’ve seen ranked from least favorite to favorite. My Bottom Five list will follow this one…

Chicago
Birdman
The King’s Speech
Oliver!
Out Of Africa
On The Waterfront
Driving Miss Daisy
Chariots Of Fire
Dances With Wolves
Unforgiven
A Beautiful Mind
Spotlight
Moonlight
Argo
Braveheart
My Fair Lady
All About Eve
The Best Years Of Our Lives
The Silence Of The Lambs
Rebecca
The French Connection
West Side Story
Gladiator
Amadeus
Forrest Gump
Ben-Hur
The Shape Of Water
Rain Man
In The Heat Of The Night
Casablanca
Gone With The Wind
The Sting
Terms Of Endearment

We’re getting there… 😉

15. Platoon
14. The Deer Hunter
13. The Departed
12. Million Dollar Baby
11. Titanic

My Top Ten Best Picture Winners:

10. TIE: American Beauty & Schindler’s List

9. Midnight Cowboy

8. The Apartment

7. The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

6. Rocky

5. The Artist

4. TIE: The Godfather & The Godfather Part II (it made more sense to keep them together but I slightly prefer the first film)

3. The Bridge On The River Kwai

2. The Sound Of Music

1. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

I absolutely love Cuckoo’s Nest – it’s very easily my number one favorite. 🙂

And now is when I’m going to be a bitch! Here are My Bottom Five Best Picture Oscar Winners (Counting down to the very worst):

5. Crash
4. Ordinary People (it beat Raging Bull & The Elephant Man!)
3. Shakespeare In Love (it famously beat Saving Private Ryan)
2. Slumdog Millionaire
1. The English Patient


*yawn!*

It was fun making this list! I really should try to watch more Oscar winners – I seem to especially have not seen many of the winners from the past decade or so. I’d love to hear all of your favorite & least favorite Best Pictures in the comments now! 🙂

**List updated 2/7/17 to add Spotlight, Million Dollar Baby & Rocky

**List updated 25/11/17 to add Moonlight

**List updated 28/1/18 to add The French Connection

**List updated December 2018 to add The King’s Speech & The Shape Of Water

**List updated February 2019 to add In The Heat Of The Night

My Oscar Picks For The 88th Annual Academy Awards

Well, I guess it’s time to pick who I think will win Oscars this year! I don’t take this too seriously as I don’t know anyone who is into having an “Oscar Party” or anything like that. But this is a movie blog so I figure I better at least do this on here. 🙂

To make it more fun, I’ll also choose what I want to win each category (which is quite often different from what I think will win). Here’s a quick list of the nominees that I’ve seen & links to my reviews:

Room – 9/10
Mad Max: Fury Road – 9/10
The Martian – 7.5/10
The Revenant – 7.5/10
Spotlight – 7/10
The Big Short – 5.5/10
Steve Jobs – 7/10
Inside Out – 8.5/10
Ex Machina – 8/10
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 9/10
Cinderella – 7/10

Okay, for each category I’ll put WANT for the ones I want to win & WILL for the ones that I think really will win. Here we go!

2016 Oscar Nominees

Best Picture
“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Brooklyn”
WANT – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
WILL – “The Revenant”
ALSO WANT – “Room”
“Spotlight”

Best Director
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
WILL – Alejandro González Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
WANT – Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
WANT & WILL – Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
WANT & WILL – Brie Larson, “Room”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
WANT – Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
WILL – Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best Supporting Actress
WANT – Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
WILL – Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”

Best Original Screenplay
“Bridge of Spies”
“Ex Machina”
WANT – “Inside Out”
WILL – “Spotlight”
“Straight Outta Compton”

Best Adapted Screenplay
WILL – “The Big Short”
“Brooklyn”
“Carol”
“The Martian”
WANT – “Room”

Best Foreign Film (I have zero knowledge of these so am just choosing the name I like the most) 😉
WANT & WILL – “Embrace of the Serpent”
“Mustang”
“Son of Saul”
“Theeb”
“A War”

Best Documentary Feature (again… I know nothing!)
“Amy”
“Cartel Land”
“The Look of Silence”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
WANT & WILL – “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Best Animated Feature
“Anomalisa”
“Boy and the World”
WANT & WILL – “Inside Out”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“When Marnie Was There”

Best Film Editing
“The Big Short”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
WILL – “The Revenant”
“Spotlight”
WANT – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Song
“Fifty Shades of Grey”
“Racing Extinction”
“Spectre” (ugh)
WILL – “The Hunting Ground”
WANT? – (I know none of these songs but the Bond one sucks) “Youth”

Best Original Score
“Bridge of Spies”
“Carol”
WANT & WILL – “The Hateful Eight”
“Sicario”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Digital Effects
“Ex Machina”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
WANT & WILL – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Cinematography
“Carol”
“The Hateful Eight”
WANT – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
WILL – “The Revenant”
“Sicario”

Best Costume Design
“Carol”
“Cinderella”
“The Danish Girl”
WANT & WILL – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
WANT & WILL – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”
“The Revenant”

Best Production Design
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Danish Girl”
WANT & WILL – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”

Best Sound Editing
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
WILL – “The Revenant”
“Sicario”
WANT – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Sound Mixing
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
WILL – “The Revenant”
WANT – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Short Film, Live Action (choosing the title I like!)
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Everything Will Be Okay”
“Shok”
WANT & WILL – “Stutterer”

Best Short Film, Animated (choosing the title again!)
“Bear Story”
“Prologue”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
WANT – “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”
WILL – “World of Tomorrow”

Best Documentary Short Subject (choosing the title… again!) 😉
“Body Team 12”
“Chau, Beyond the Lines”
“Claude Lanzmann”
WANT & WILL – “A Girl in the River”
“Last Day of Freedom”