Happy August! I’m very behind on this roundup. I’ve been in the hospital, though, so guess I have an excuse.
I managed to squeeze in 10 movies in July (plus 3 watched with the family). And one was started in June & I watched it in chunks over two months because I absolutely hated it (I can’t leave a movie unfinished). So here we go…
MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):
– Wings Of Desire – I’d been wanting to see this for years after liking its (sort of) remake City Of Angels. They’re very different films, though, and this is certainly the better film. I’ve reviewed it in full at the link if you want to read more but I’ll just say it’s a lovely & way existential film & I’m happy to have finally seen it. It also has a lot in common with another favorite I’ve watched for the first time since starting this blog: A Matter Of Life And Death. I highly recommend both to fellow movie bloggers. Here’s the IMDb synopsis for Wings Of Desire if you’re curious: “An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal.” – 8/10
– VFW – From Wings Of Desire to VFW! I have well-rounded movie tastes. I really enjoyed this one despite the extreme violence. I just really liked this group of old dudes! Especially loved that William Sadler was in this & he seemed to be having loads of fun in the role. He’ll always be my favorite Grim Reaper! Stephen Lang is great in the main role as a tough Vietnam veteran who has to defend his bar slash VFW post from crazed drug addicts who are after a girl who has taken shelter in the bar. Lang is one of those guys who has been in shitloads but I never really noticed him until he played that freak in Don’t Breathe (which I didn’t love). He’s perfect here, though, and I loved the main friendship he had with fellow veterans Sadler & Fred Williamson. And as if these three aren’t cool enough, they also crammed in other “Hey, it’s that guy” actors as further fellow veterans forced to kick ass in as many violent ways as possible. We also have The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai big baddie Martin Kove, George Wendt of Cheers fame, and David Patrick Kelly from the absolute classics The Warriors & The Crow. Oh, and the girl in this, Sierra McCormick, was in a very obscure film that I liked a lot called The Vast Of Night so it was cool seeing her although her character could’ve been a bit more likeable. She should’ve been more grateful to these old dudes whose lives she’s put in danger.
VFW has real Hobo With A Shotgun, Dredd, From Dusk Till Dawn, and even a bit of The Crow vibes going on. So if you like those, you’ll probably like this! Although it’s quite not as good as those (well, maybe as good as Hobo). A few days after watching this I also realized what else it is: It’s an example of every day on Twitter. Honestly. It’s the Boomers vs the Millennials. I wonder if that was on purpose?? And, being Gen X, I did the same thing we all do and just minded my own business while watching these people fight it out. Was definitely with the Boomers on this one, though. Loved seeing them kick ass. – 7/10
– Waves – This is one of those depressing movies with good & powerful performances that was worth a watch but I sure as shit wouldn’t want to watch it again. It’s an interesting one as it’s very much two movies in one. I think a lot of people prefer the first half but it was too much for me. The first half is very chaotic, intensified by the music which was seriously stressing me out and you could tell it was all leading up to something bad happening (but I liked the use of Tame Impala at the start). And why was everyone in this movie always sticking their heads out the windows of moving cars – Have they not seen Hereditary?! I preferred the second half, which focused on the characters trying to put their lives back together and had some tender moments. I liked the younger sister the most, played by Taylor Russell from Escape Room (which I enjoyed even though it was stupid). The father, played by Sterling K. Brown who I liked a lot in Hotel Artemis, was also good but man was he difficult to like. He was way too hard on his son (which was part of the point of the movie). Well, it’s a good film with very good performances and I’d recommend if you like depressing human dramas. Maybe don’t watch it as a double feature with Requiem For A Dream. That would be a fun night! – 7/10
– Cherry – This was a weird one. I think I liked it okay? Despite none of the characters being very likeable or sympathetic. I felt like this movie was trying too hard to be “worthy”, though. I felt like it had a good story (from the book Cherry partly based on the real life of author Nico Walker) but failed to make what could’ve been a truly great film out of it. I think the Russo Brothers were the wrong directors for it. Holland was good despite looking way too young for the role and therefore being hard to believe. I reviewed it at the link if you want to basically just read more of me bitching about the stars looking too young. – 6.5/10
– Upstream Color – Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Mainstream Color is a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? And what was up with the pigs?! Well, I talked about it a bit more at the link but I certainly have no answers. Here’s the IMDb synopsis so you know what you’re getting into if you check this one out: “A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.” – 6.5/10
– The Empty Man – Hmm. I suppose this was pretty decent for a modern horror film. So many people were going on about it that I decided to check it out on Disney Plus. I thought it started out pretty great. I really liked the stuff at the start on the mountain & thought it was still pretty good when the teenagers first got involved in the next section of the film. The movie also had a great creepy vibe, partly thanks to the music I think, so I was glad I was watching it alone late at night & getting the heebie jeebies a little as I find so few horror movies to be very creepy. I like being creeped out! Give me a creepy atmospheric supernatural horror over gory stuff. I’d say one thing in this was too violent for my taste (not sure why that one person had to die so violently?!) but otherwise it wasn’t too over the top. I think it just fell apart for me at the end. It was a decent story & I was certainly intrigued as to what was going on but, I dunno. The ending was okay but I do feel let down by horror movie endings the majority of the time for some reason. I guess I’ve seen far worse endings. Overall, this was pretty good compared to most the modern horror crap out there. Oh! And I really liked that creepy skeleton in that image. Kind of a spoiler but not really – it’s at the start of the film & is also what convinced me to watch this when someone posted that image on Twitter. – 6.5/10
– The Most Dangerous Game – Saw this pop up on Amazon Prime & was aware of the story by Richard Connell being a classic (inspired by those rich assholes who hunt big game) so thought the 1932 film should be interesting. Plus I really enjoyed the 2020 film The Hunt! Not that they’re at all similar, of course, but the “hunting of humans” idea is the same. This was good but I wish I’d just looked it up on YouTube (it’s available) as the one on Prime is a horrible colorised version. Why do they do that?! Anyway, it was still a good film even with dodgy coloring. It’s a timeless story & works just as well today. Maybe even more so now, as hunting big game is somehow still a thing. How?!? The thought of the tables being turned is great. This version stars Joel McCrea, Fay Wray and Leslie Banks. Hey! The King Kong actress! I should really watch that version again. Anyway, she was good and far less “damsel in distress” than you’d expect in such an old film. I kept thinking she really looks like Penelope Ann Miller – she could have played her in her life story. I think this film has actually aged quite well & would recommend watching the black & white version on YouTube. – 7/10
– Rango – As part of my Best Picture Project, I also named several Best International Features that I want to watch as well as the only TWO Best Animated Features I’ve not seen. Rango was one of them (the other is Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which I can’t say I’m really looking forward to). Rango is a weird one! I enjoyed it & I liked some of the quirky & somewhat adult humor. Best Animated Oscar material, though?? Nah. Must have been no Disney or Pixar movies that year! Guess I better go look… Yep! That was the case. The other nominees were A Cat In Paris, Chico And Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Puss In Boots. Weak year! So I’d say, in this case, it was worthy of the win although my vote would’ve gone to Kung Fu Panda 2. But Rango was a fun film & I enjoyed Johnny Depp being his great old-school Johnny Deppiest as Rango (before all that Amber drama). And it clearly kept referencing the Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas look (right?), again reminding me that I still need to see that film as well. – 6.5/10
– Stowaway – I liked this Netflix film. It could’ve been better but it certainly could’ve been much worse. I really liked the story & the moral dilemma that occurs, although having no explanation whatsoever as to how this guy ended up as a stowaway on this spaceship thingy was kind of strange. So don’t expect to find out how he ended up there! I thought it dealt with the overall story well, though, and I liked the characters and the ending. Plus I’m always a sucker for sci-fi. I don’t think it deserves as low of a rating as it has on IMDb. – 6/10
– Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar – What the hell was this shit?! Man, I really don’t get on with modern “comedies”. To be fair, I did like these two main characters (played by Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo). They did make me giggle a few times & I thought “I wish these characters were in a better movie”. The story with the “baddie” was stupid as hell & my least favorite thing about the movie. It’s a very weird film, although I do like a bit of weird humor so didn’t hate all of it. Sometimes weird works & sometimes it doesn’t (like the dumb plot with the evil woman & Jamie Dornan’s stupid dance number). Meh. I guess I’ve seen worse. At least the two main characters were fun. – 5/10
– Margaret – This was the movie I watched in chunks over two months because OH MY GOD I HATED IT but I had to finish the damn thing since I don’t like to leave movies unfinished. Is it a bad film? No. Does it have some of the most hateful characters I’ve ever seen in a movie? Yes. I have no desire to watch some horrible teenager be a complete bitch for TWO AND A HALF PAINFUL HOURS. Most everyone in this was hateful but Anna Paquin’s character really took the fucking cake. And I like Allison Janney & think she’s a good actress but that ridiculous overacting during the death scene was cringeworthy. I just didn’t understand most of these characters’ reactions or intentions, especially Paquin’s. What was she trying to accomplish?? The death was her fault as well (though more the driver’s as its his responsibility). Oh, the story is that she distracts a bus driver who ends up running over & killing a woman. Then Paquin is a complete bitch for the next two hours but doesn’t actually seem to feel any guilt over the incident anyway so god knows why she’s so utterly repulsive. Ugh. Hated this movie & these characters so much. I didn’t exactly love Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea either but it was much better than this. The people in that film were also horrible at times but at least you did feel sympathy for them and understood why they were so broken. Those in Margaret had no excuses for their awful behavior. I’ll never understand movies that want us to watch hateful, unsympathetic (and uninteresting) characters for two and a half hours. Two and a half hours!!!! Sorry I keep mentioning the length – it was just a looooooong & painful film to have to suffer through. I’m being nice with my score since, um, I dunno… He’s a “worthy” filmmaker so I don’t dare give it lower, I guess. – 4/10
– Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – What can I say? This movie came out when I was a teenager & I still love it & adore the characters of Bill & Ted. These dudes are so fun & loveably dumb. It’ll always be a favorite movie of mine. I don’t see how anyone could watch this movie without a big, goofy grin on their face. And I love that my daughter loves it too – she’s the one who insisted that we rewatch this one again. – 9/10
– Independence Day – Always liked this film but hadn’t rewatched it in years. Has it aged well? Fairly well, but it does feel dated in that way that many ’90s movies do. I don’t know what it is, but ’90s movies have aged badly. People dump on ’70s & ’80s movies sometimes but the very best from those decades have held up very well and there are loads of absolute classics from then. Anyway, I still enjoyed this one again despite the cheesiness. I really liked this era of action-star Will Smith when he was in a lot of good movies. And I still like Brent Spiner in this, which made my Star Trek TNG-loving nerd very happy in 1996. Still a fun guilty pleasure. – 7.5/10
– Short Circuit Shorts: Season 1– Watched all of these Disney Plus shorts & thought they were quite good. All were very colorful & had good stories. I especially liked Downtown, Drop & Jing Hua. Enjoyed these more than the SparkShorts & thought they seemed more polished than those (but I think that’s the point of those so I’m not dissing them). It was nice that each had a small intro with the creators discussing the shorts as well. I love all the shorts on Disney Plus & have watched them quite a bit. I sometimes wonder if anyone else watches them or if most just watch the films.
– The Simpsons: The Good, The Bart And The Loki – This was cute. I’m enjoying these Simpsons shorts they’ve been doing on Disney Plus. The Star Wars one was better, though.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– Who Are You, Charlie Brown? – Enjoyed this documentary on Apple TV+. I’m a HUGE Peanuts fan. I liked that this documentary included a new Peanuts cartoon in between the interviews with people discussing what the comics meant to them. It’s an odd selection of guests and I know some people feel it has an agenda (I think the point, though, is that Peanuts had a wide appeal and many people were able to identify with at least one of the characters). I’m happy to know that my favorite, Drew Barrymore, is also a Peanuts fan as she was one of those being interviewed. And of course Kevin Smith is in this too – is there anything that dude isn’t a fan of?! I like Charles Schulz & he seemed like a good man with common sense beliefs.
I’m happy that one of the final things we did pre-pandemic was go to a great Charles Schulz exhibition up in London. It was brilliant & I got loads of photos of my beloved daughter with my beloved Snoopy. Also have a picture of me in Lucy’s “psychiatric help” booth thingy that I thought of posting here but I don’t know how to make photos not be HUGE and I don’t want to scare anyone with my huge not-properly-resized face. Anyway – that was a great time & I’m so glad we did that. I will always adore the Peanuts characters. And I think that Snoopy is one of the all-time greatest creations in this world. Love that cheeky beagle!
– Anthrax Interviews – Thank you to the hubby for sending me a link that has a load of videos where Anthrax discuss their career. He sent it because of one video where Keanu Reeves discusses how he ended up in the Anthrax video Safe Home (you can find the article & links to that as well as all of the videos at Metal Sucks HERE). He knows I love Anthrax and Keanu! Really enjoyed watching that & Reeves is SO damn sweet & lovable as always. He’s such a lovely, positive dude & it’s great that so many people now realize it & that he’s so respected & liked now. (But he’s OURS – Gen X have always loved Reeves & we’re the ones who made him famous. Younger people can like him too but he’s OURS). 😉
I accidentally clicked the wrong link when looking for the Reeves video & ended up being treated to another fantastic video where they talk about doing the music for the John Carpenter movie Ghosts Of Mars. John Carpenter is also in the video talking about how he enjoyed working with Anthrax for the film and I loved how much the band were freaking out & being total fanboys about working with the brilliant Carpenter. Here’s the link to the Carpenter episode.
TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked in any specific order because I can’t decide the order since so many of these are good…)
– Monsters At Work: S1 E1-5 – I’m enjoying this probably way too much for an adult. Well, for a person of adult age, I should say. It’s good!! I adore Monsters, Inc & Mike Wazowski is one of my favorite animated characters (helps that I love Billy Crystal). I really thought it would focus only on the new characters but we get loads of Mike & Sulley in each episode too. Yay! Plus, my favorite bit, Mike’s Comedy Class as an end bit to each episode. But the newly added characters are great too, so the whole thing works very well.
– Sweet Tooth: S1 – As a family, we’ve really struggled to find one good TV series suitable for all of us. We also like stories that are a little “weird” or sci-fi and not very mainstream most of the time so it’s hard to find TV shows that the three of us like. Am so glad we gave this a try! Liked this a lot and we’re all really looking forward to the next series (well, think the hubby & I liked it slightly more than the daughter but she did enjoy it too). It’s about time Netflix gave us a show that’s not a huge disappointment! Well, Stranger Things was great for series one but then took a huge poop. Hopefully Sweet Tooth stays good…
– Lisey’s Story – Okay, this was a weird one. I can see people not liking this but, having read and liked the book a lot, I would have said it would be an extremely hard story to adapt. To be fair, I think they did as well as they could with a very strange story. I’d obviously recommend the book first but did enjoy seeing this interpretation, especially the world of “Boo’ya Moon”. I thought that world was quite effective & eerie. So I enjoyed this but would very much hesitate to recommend it to anyone other than hardcore Stephen King fans who’ve read the book.
– Ted Lasso: S2 E1-2 – So… I’ve had to cancel Apple TV+ to save some money. It’s why I quickly watched Lisey’s Story & the first two episodes of this. Broke my heart, as this show is so sweet & funny and always a good pick-me-up. 😦 I figure I’ll get it again in the future & binge all of season 2. The first episode with the dog incident was hilarious & I loved the Magnolia references.
– Loki: S1 E5-6 – Enjoyed this series but still like WandaVision the most of the newest Marvel shows on Disney Plus. I’d say I liked the start of this series more than the end, but know the end is important for setting up the next movies & all that. But, not being a reader of the comics or having any knowledge of the “baddie”, it didn’t mean much to me. Still a good series, though, and not a snoozefest like The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.
– The Crown: S3 E8-10, S4 E1-2 – I finally made it to the Diana episodes! They’re fine. As I’ve said, I don’t like this “second cast” at all compared to the first cast in the first seasons. The same goes for Diana – I don’t buy that person as Diana just because of a similar haircut & all the annoying head-tilting. But the story is still fascinating (despite not being fully true, I know I know) so I’m still enjoying watching it.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S17 E14-17 – That was the end of the season?! Didn’t even realize I was watching the finale. No one died! None of the usual tragedies & cliffhangers!! Series 17: The Covid Series. What a drag that was! Hopefully this means they’re at least doing one more season since I doubt they’d end on such a dud.
– My Hero Academia: S1 E1 – I’d forgotten we watched an episode of this to check the appropriateness for the kid. It was fine but am sure it gets better. May watch more but it’s Demon Slayer that I really want to watch (but that does sound way too violent to be a family-watch).
– Toradora! – Just mentioning this as I’ve seen bits & pieces as my daughter watches it so much. Maybe I can get her to review it like she did HERE for Jungle Cruise! So I can’t say much as I don’t pay much attention. All I know is that the girl in it seems extremely high maintenance and everyone is SO dramatic in that way all anime teens seem to be. And one episode seemed to be about everyone obsessing over boobs as the teens all had to wear swimsuits for their boy/girl swimming classes so the material seems a bit iffy at times! Oh well. Teen issues & dramas, I guess.
– Love, Death & Robots – S1 E3: The Witness – I hated this. I’ve only seen three of these episodes now & two of them were far too violent & gratuitous with the female nudity. Gross. Were these made by horny teenage boys? I wanted to watch cute & cool robots. Hell, this one didn’t even have any fucking robots!! This series has such a high IMDb rating but I have zero desire to watch more based on two of the three that I’ve seen.
– Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman – Look! I read something other than a Stephen King book! I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the film). But what really blew me away was the short story at the end of that book: Ghastle And Yule. Absolutely brilliant! I loved it so much that I tweeted the author about it (I never do that) and got a nice reply. So I’ve decided that I want to read all his stuff now (though his stuff isn’t always the easiest to get a hold of). After Bird Box I read Black Mad Wheel, from the library, and now this which showed up on Amazon for only £2 for the paperback. Good deal!
What I like so far about Malerman is that he doesn’t stick to just one genre. For the most part, they’ve all been a little bit on the weird or supernatural side of things (which is right up my alley). This one is kind of a Western but with supernatural elements. I liked it. Probably my third favorite of the three full-length novels I’ve read but I’ve liked all I’ve read so far so am looking forward to reading more of his work. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Only three people know Carol Evers’ secret. Her best friend, who’s dead. Her husband, who hates her. Her ex-lover, who left her. Carol suffers from a dreadful affliction which makes her fall into long comas, waking slumbers indistinguishable from death. Her husband Dwight wants her next “death” to be her last. He will claim her fortune by pronouncing her dead … and burying her alive. The infamous outlaw James Moxie, once Carol’s lover, rides the Trail again – pursued by murder and mayhem – to save the woman he loves. And all the while, Carol is a prisoner in her own body. hearing her funeral plans, summoning every ounce of will to survive…”
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Work. Sleep. Watch movies.
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
Everything!!! 😦 The Suicide Squad, Jungle Cruise, Black Widow, Escape Room 2, The Forever Purge, A Quiet Place Part II which I think has come & gone plus whatever else is currently out & coming out soon. I’m not keeping track of cinema releases since I’m not ready to go back to cinemas & have people breathing all over me (to be fair, I wasn’t a fan of having people anywhere near me before the pandemic). But I really am missing new releases!
I suppose the music clip that I should end this post with today is Safe Home by Anthrax featuring the lovely Keanu Reeves: