2019 October Horror Month Roundup & My Top Ten

Happy Halloween! I’ve enjoyed doing Halloween Horror Month yet again but this was probably my last year. It’s too time consuming plus I’m now way behind on reviewing current non-horror movie releases. I’ve also once again watched WAY too many bad horror movies in the past year. Of those below, I only really loved the top two and thought the next few were quite good. The rest of the Top Twenty were decent enough to pass some time but my life would still be complete if I’d seen none of the rest (it might even be better!). I also have a few thrillers as well as full-on horrors on this list.

So, counting down to my favorite, here’s my ranked list of the 43 horrors & thrillers I’ve watched & reviewed since last October:

43-31:

43. Starry Eyes
42. In The Tall Grass
41. Better Watch Out
40. Winchester
39. Bird Box
38. Ghost Stories
37. Cam
36. The Love Witch
35. The Stuff
34. The Funhouse
33. Amber Lake
32. Unsane
31. Slaughterhouse Rulez

30-21:

30. Suspiria (2018)
29. The Sentinel (1977)
28. Shocker
27. The Monster (2016)
26. American Mary
25. The Legacy
24. The Addams Family (2019)
23. Happy Death Day 2U
22. Breaking In
21. Truth Or Dare

20-11:

20. Crawl
19. Curtains (1983)
18. Brightburn
17. Annabelle Comes Home
16. Repulsion
15. Greta
14. Zombieland: Double Tap
13. Pet Sematary (2019)
12. Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil
11. Searching

Top Ten:

10. Single White Female

9. Ma

8. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

7. Ready Or Not

6. Child’s Play (2019)

5. Us

4. Midsommar

3. It Chapter Two

2. Doctor Sleep

1. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

I did also do (very brief) reviews of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep novel and King & son Joe Hill’s short story In The Tall Grass HERE.

I keep using Deep Red imagery in this post because it’s awesome. As is the fantastic Goblin score…

Now I can move onto reviewing the non-horror 2019 releases that I saw in the past two months. Here’s what I’ll try to review over the next month:

Hustlers – 7.5/10
Judy – 7.5/10
Joker – 7.5/10
The Farewell – 7.5/10
I Am Mother – 7/10
Terminator: Dark Fate – 6.5/10 (My review for this is written – I’ll post it tomorrow)

*Yeah, I finally got myself an Unlimited cinema card. I watch way too many movies…

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) (1975) Blind Spot Review

Deep Red (1975)
Italian: Profondo Rosso
(aka The Hatchet Murders)

Directed by Dario Argento

Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni,Giuliana Calandra

Music by Goblin & Giorgio Gaslini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Deep Red stars Macha Meril as a medium and David Hemmings as a pianist who investigates a series of murders performed by a mysterious figure wearing black leather gloves.

My Opinion:

Happy Halloween! I thought I better finally review one of my Blind Spot choices this year so it seemed like the perfect time for Dario Argento’s Deep Red. I do try to explore a little bit of most every genre of film but my knowledge of the Italian Giallo horror thing is severely lacking. This is my third Giallo horror and I’ve only seen Argento’s movies so far; Suspiria, which I saw years ago and should really watch again, and Phenomena as a Blind Spot a few years ago. While I still think Suspiria is the best mainly due to being so iconic (and having that amazing Goblin score), Deep Red may actually be the more “enjoyable” and certainly the more accessible film. If someone was entirely new to this genre and wanted a good film to start with, I’d probably recommend this before Suspiria just because it’s a much more straightforward murder mystery and far less strange. Both are absolute must sees for film fans, though – Deep Red is just an easier starting point.

I’ll start with the obvious things that made this such an enjoyable watch for me personally: The look & the imagery, the atmosphere, and the score. These are extremely important elements to me when it comes to all films but especially for horror. I admit that I’m old but there’s just something special about the look & feel of Seventies & early Eighties horror movies that very few modern horrors manage to achieve. We do occasionally get some good ones now but it’s interesting how often they try to copy the look of old films. It never quite works, though. I appreciate things like The House Of The Devil trying to look like a Seventies film but no modern movies ever manage to fully capture that mood and it always just feels like modern actors playing dress up (true for non-horrors too, such as American Hustle). Deep Red has a brilliant Seventies vibe. The clothing! The awful hair! The ugly decor! A stunning & creepy old abandoned mansion! Then we also get some amazing imagery, some of which I’ve posted but others that I can’t due to spoilers. We get a couple of creepy dolls (I love creepy dolls!), lots of that super bright red blood they seemed to use in Italian horror, a big sharp knife in a famous spoiler image, funky artwork on the walls, and closeups of the killer’s eye and the killer’s strange trinkets.

The imagery is fantastic but the score is just as important for setting the mood in this sort of film. I don’t know why modern movies so often seem to care so little about the score. A great score can turn a movie I like into a movie I love. Hell, I know I rated The Good, The Bad And The Ugly much more highly than I would’ve without Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece score (Italians do it better! Wasn’t that on a Madonna t-shirt?!). Goblin did the Deep Red score and I already love it along with the soundtracks for Suspiria and Dawn Of The Dead (1978), an all-time favorite film of mine. Many of my favorite films also have brilliant scores so I do think the music is important. I’ve added a clip of this Goblin score at the end of this post. Goblin feature heavily on my phone’s playlist. I know the scores to these Argento movies better than I know the movies themselves. I now want to watch every single movie that has a Goblin score (but I think a lot of them are very obscure and I’m sure the music is much better than the films).

Atmosphere & music aside, Deep Red also has a decent murder mystery as well as some good characters. David Hemmings is good and I enjoyed watching him investigate these murders, especially when he explores a lovely old mansion as the main Goblin theme below plays. Daria Nicolodi is great as the female reporter who joins Hemmings in his investigations. The two had really good chemistry and I liked her sassy attitude. She added a bit of humor to the movie, which I wasn’t expecting in a Dario Argento horror. So, while I personally always prefer the supernatural and things like witches in Suspiria to murder mysteries, I can see plenty of people actually preferring Deep Red. I’m not sure why it doesn’t seem as popular or quite as well known as Suspiria? I think Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso) is a brilliant horror classic and I’d recommend it to anyone curious about this genre. I’m glad I finally watched it as I’ve seen way too many bad horrors in 2019. Deep Red is by far my favorite of those I’ve watched in the past year.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s part of the fantastic Goblin score. Love it. I wish movie scores were still as brilliant as they were in the Seventies & Eighties…

**As this posts, I’ll be watching Doctor Sleep. I’ll try to do at least a quick review by the end of today, although I may not have time. I love Stephen King and have very high hopes based on the trailer…

My 2018 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

Day Two of my 2018 Year End Lists! This will be a short one as I didn’t manage to watch all 12 of my Blind Spot choices this year. I always enjoy doing this Blind Spot Project, though, so I’ll choose 12 more for 2019 soon (I’ve already watched Paprika as a 2019 choice). I have to say that my top three for 2018 were definitely worth finally getting around to – I loved them.

Here are My 2018 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked (from my least favorite to my favorite):

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man

7. Atonement

6. Gleaming The Cube

5. The French Connection

4. Citizen Kane

3. Metropolis

2. Splendor In The Grass

1. Enter The Dragon

Tomorrow I’ll be posting my favorite list: My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2018 (FYI – Enter The Dragon is the top of that list as well. That movie is f*%king awesome). Then I’ll finish on Friday with My Top Ten 2018 Movie Releases (UK release date).

Splendor In The Grass (1961) Blind Spot Review

Splendor In The Grass (1961)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Audrey Christie, Barbara Loden, Zohra Lampert, Fred Stewart, Joanna Roos, John McGovern, Jan Norris, Martine Bartlett, Gary Lockwood, Sandy Dennis, Crystal Field, Marla Adams, Lynn Loring, Phyllis Diller, Sean Garrison

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A fragile Kansas girl’s love for a handsome young man from the town’s most powerful family drives her to heartbreak and madness.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Metropolis
2. Splendor In The Grass
1. Enter The Dragon

Splendor In The Grass was going to be a 2019 Blind Spot choice but it was on TV so I decided to take the opportunity to watch it this year instead. I’m glad I did. I loved it. In ranking these above, I kept changing the order around between this & Metropolis but, while Metropolis is the better and more iconic film, Splendor In The Grass is the one I enjoyed more. It’s quite a girly film for me but I love a devastating, heartbreaking love story. Love should be painful! And god I love some good sexual tension in movies. It was palpable in this. It reminded me a bit of Brief Encounter. So much sexual frustration!

A big reason I wanted to see this was because I wanted to explore more of Natalie Wood’s films. She’s fantastic in this and entirely to thank for this film being so raw and emotional. She makes this movie the classic that it is. Warren Beatty is fine (this was his very first movie role) and they had good chemistry but I think his and all the other roles in this movie could’ve easily been filled by other actors and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Natalie Wood is the true star here and your heart breaks for her and you seriously want these two to rip each other’s clothes off and just have some damn fun. She was so lovely. I mean, look how lovely she is in this mustard top. Who the hell looks good in mustard?!

I suppose there’s also the real-life mysterious drowning of Natalie Wood which now makes the film feel even more tragic. In her despair & heartbreak, her character tries to drown herself and it’s widely known now that she had a terrible fear of water and was dreading doing that scene. This is from IMDb trivia:

“For the scene in which Deanie tries to drown herself in the lake, Natalie Wood asked Elia Kazan if she could do it in a controlled studio tank because she had a great fear of water – particularly dark water. “I assured her it was a very shallow lake and that her feet would always be close to the bottom,” said Kazan. “She said that even if her feet were on the bottom, she’d be in a panic of fear about it. So I asked my assistant, Charlie Maguire, to get into the water with her, just out of camera range, while she played the scene of struggling to save herself. This didn’t entirely reassure her, but she did the scene and did it well – then clutched Charlie. ‘Cut!’ I cried. On dry land she continued to shake with fear, then laughed hysterically, with relief.”

This is one of those films that wouldn’t necessarily be loved by everyone nowadays. I think it depends on if you can watch an older film (this was made in 1961 but set in 1928) and judge it by the standards of its time and when it was set. I see too many people judge older movies based on today’s ideals & morals and it always annoys me. Times change and people change. This movie has very outdated ideas on sex and the roles of men & women but that’s just the way things were. Wood’s character is a “good girl” and expected to stay that way while Beatty’s character is frustrated by his desire to have sex with her but also knowing he can’t “spoil” her so is actually encouraged to have sex with someone else instead. Beatty’s character is quite an asshole, by today’s standards especially, and there are times when the men in this act in ways that aren’t tolerated anymore (as with Beatty’s sister, who is considered an embarrassment to the family as she’s very promiscuous).

As I said, though, it’s Wood’s heartbreaking performance that made this movie such an emotional experience plus I’m always a sucker for tragic romance over a traditional “and they lived happily ever after” fairytale. Give me pain & tragedy! It feels more real. If that’s your type of thing, I think you may enjoy this film and I’d certainly recommend it if you want to see Wood at her best. I loved this movie and it’s probably one of my favorite Blind Spot choices in the three years I’ve been doing the Blind Spot Project.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Metropolis (1927) Blind Spot Review

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by Fritz Lang

Based on Metropolis (1925 novel) by Thea von Harbou

Starring: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 89 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Splendor In The Grass
2. Metropolis
1. Enter The Dragon

Well, I didn’t manage to watch my 12 Blind Spot choices this year as life got too busy but at least I watched eight. Better than nothing! And five of them were well worth the time and definitely worthy Blind Spot picks. The best was indeed Metropolis, which I’ve weirdly been putting off seeing for years despite loving the look of it and liking plenty of silent films. I watched it months ago but also put off reviewing it as it’s one of those where I don’t feel I have enough knowledge to do it any sort of justice. What can I say about it that hasn’t been said? It’s a brilliant, gorgeous film and so eerily ahead of its time. Oh, and yes I loved Enter The Dragon so I have it at number one in the above list. Of course Metropolis is the superior film but I always rank according to what I enjoyed the most and I had more fun with Enter The Dragon. I also absolutely adored Splendor In The Grass and did have that at number two until now as it moved me in a way that Metropolis didn’t but putting Metropolis below it just didn’t seem right as it’s a damn masterpiece. But I may change my mind & switch the order again. I’m like that. (I’ll try to review Splendor In The Grass tomorrow)

Metropolis of course also counts as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project. As I started that in 2013, I’m still working off that list. It breaks my heart to see old films slowly being knocked off that list & replaced with modern ones. Since 2013, Metropolis has dropped from 89 to 110. I just looked now to see what’s higher and got thoroughly annoyed at six Christopher Nolan movies having higher ratings than Metropolis. No way! Am I seriously the only person who thinks Nolan is massively overrated? I’ve only truly liked one of his movies (The Prestige). And Avengers: Infinity War is a fun film but it sure as shit isn’t Top 250 material. Okay – I’ll shut the hell up since I’ve ranked Enter The Dragon above Metropolis so I guess people just like what they like.

What I find interesting is that Fritz Lang’s film M, which I reviewed HERE, is actually higher in the list than Metropolis. Although it’s also a visual masterpiece and a brilliant example of filmmaking done right, I don’t think it’s the better film of the two. I can see why it’s higher, though, as it’s a more “accessible” film for a modern audience. It’s not silent, which I know puts some people off. It’s also a fantastic crime thriller, which is a genre with lots of fans. It’s a genre I rarely like, though. Give me sci-fi and fantasy. Metropolis is right up my alley but I can fully understand why some would find it overlong and probably even boring, although that makes me a little sad. I mean, look at these amazing images! Look! WOW. This is from 1927! Did this not blow people’s minds back then?? It must have. Although, in reading about it, it had some very negative reviews at the time.

The most negative review I saw on Wikipedia was from H.G. Wells, “who accused it of “foolishness, cliché, platitude, and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general.” He faulted Metropolis for its premise that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, wondered who was buying the machines’ output if not the workers, and found parts of the story derivative of Shelley’s Frankenstein.” A lot of reviewers at the time called the story silly & simplistic. I think it has stood the test of time pretty well, especially considering how long ago it was made, but it’s not as scarily prophetic as some later sci-fi films exploring similar themes and ideas involving the future of mankind. There’s still a huge divide between the rich and the poor but our world looks very different from Lang’s vision and he never could have predicted today’s technology and the way in which it controls us mentally more than physically. We’re living in a dystopian future as predicted but it’s a very different dystopia than Lang predicted. So, while this film is stunningly beautiful, I can’t say I connected with it quite as much as some other sci-fi classics when it came to the overall story.

Before I end this so called review, I figured I should also mention The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari as it’s another example of German Expressionism in film. That’s two silent German Expressionist movies I’ve seen! I’m, like, an expert now! Okay – I have zero knowledge on this topic. All I know is that it looks cool as shit and I could spend all day looking at the type of imagery used in these two films. It’s stark and haunting and a little bit creepy and I love it. I like my art a little bit creepy (H.R. Giger is the best). So, again, this is my type of thing but won’t be to everyone’s taste. I admit to being a sucker for great visuals in a film. Give me great imagery & cinematography and I’m happy. Add a beautiful score as well and I’m over the damn moon, such as in a Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western. That’s epic filmmaking. That’s the type of thing I expect when I think “Top 250 Films Of All Time”. Metropolis is iconic, beautiful, and epic. To me, at least. To others, it’s probably boring as shit. Story-wise, it’s not perfect. It’s a little bit messy and I can see how those at the time probably found it pretentious. Would I stick a Metropolis poster up in my cinema room (if I was rich & had such a thing)? Hell Yeah! The film is a work of art. Is it a new all-time favorite film of mine? No, I’ll admit it’s not. If I’m honest, I’ll put Splendor In The Grass just above it on my list. I enjoyed it more. I told you I’d probably change my mind! But nothing can top the artistry of Metropolis.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Happy 6th Blogiversary To Me

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

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

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

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

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

My Top Ten Movies Seen At Home This Year:

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

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

My Top Ten 2018 UK Movie Releases Seen This Year:

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

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

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

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

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) Blind Spot Review

Tetsuo (aka Tetsuo: The Iron Man) (鉄男 Tetsuo)

Directed & Written by Shinya Tsukamoto

Starring: Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Shinya Tsukamoto

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.

I did a mini-review of this film recently then remembered it was one of my alternate 2018 Blind Spot choices. I’m way behind on doing those this year & don’t think I’ll manage to watch all 12 films. So this is a re-post of my very short review of Tetsuo.

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Metropolis
2. Splendor In The Grass
1. Enter The Dragon

My Opinion On Tetsuo:

I’ve been meaning to watch this Japanese cyberpunk horror film for years as I have a weird fascination with body horror (god knows why – I’m a wuss when it comes to violence). I really wanted to see it before doing the list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies but it wouldn’t have made the list anyway. It’s only just over an hour long but it felt like it was never going to end. The last 20 minutes or so just go on & on & on (I decided to fast-forward).

I suppose this movie was shocking in 1989 but we’ve had The Human Freaking Centipede since then, so… is anything really going to gross anyone out in this fucked-up world anymore? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.”

I like weird movies and especially love ones with great imagery but the low budget imagery in this wasn’t good enough to make up for the meandering story and the terrible characters. It’s certainly original and one of the stranger films I’ve seen but I didn’t expect to mostly just find it boring. It’s fucked-up, though. I’ll give it that. It’s one of very few movies I have that I’ll have to keep hidden away – you sure as shit don’t want your kids to ever get hold of this one.

My Rating: 6/10

By the way – SPOILER: the dude’s dick turns into this big metal drill-thing. I’m sure there’s some sort of meaning behind that. Kinky fuckers probably love this film. Watch it if you’re a kinky fucker! (I’m not saying I’m a kinky fucker – I just like to watch weird shit).

Enter The Dragon (1973) Blind Spot Review

Enter The Dragon (1973) (龍爭虎鬥, 龙争虎斗, Lóng Zhēng Hǔ Dòu)

Directed by Robert Clouse

Starring: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Ahna Capri, Bob Wall, Shih Kien, Jim Kelly

Music by Lalo Schifrin

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A martial artist agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord using his invitation to a tournament there as cover.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

6. Atonement
5. Gleaming The Cube
4. The French Connection
3. Citizen Kane
2. Metropolis
1. Enter The Dragon

Yeah, I loved Enter The Dragon. It’s the first & only Bruce Lee movie I’ve seen & I’m thinking it’s possibly the only martial arts movie I’ve seen. Unless Rush Hour counts?! (I don’t remember a thing about that). By the way, Jackie Chan is actually in this movie although I can’t admit that I noticed him. From Wikipedia: “Jackie Chan appears as a guard during the underground lair battle scene and gets his neck snapped by Lee. He also performed several stunts for the film, including the scene where Lee’s character quickly climbs a rooftop at night. However, Yuen Wah was Lee’s main stunt double for the film.”

I did watch Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story many years ago as I was interested in the story of Lee’s tragically short life. I probably watched it just after The Crow & son Brandon Lee’s tragic death, who was also way too young. I love The Crow. Damn. I want there to be more movies starring each of them. I’ll certainly explore Bruce Lee’s other films now.

First of all: Bruce Lee is super cool in this. Okay, I get the appeal even though I’m a girl (but I prefer a movie like this to the really girly chick flicks). However, it’s the trio that I really loved in this film: Bruce Lee, John Saxon & Jim Kelly. I knew I had to finally watch this movie just as much for Saxon as for Lee. Saxon has been in 196 things according to his IMDb page. 196, for crying out loud!! He’s a cult hero. And I seriously don’t think I’ve seen him as anything other than Nancy’s dad in A Nightmare On Elm Street. But after finally watching Enter The Dragon, I think I can safely say I’ve probably now seen his absolute best films. And he was far cooler than I was expecting in this film. I didn’t know he could kick ass for real! I read this at Wikipedia too: “John Saxon is a black belt in Judo and Shotokan Karate, who studied under grandmaster Hidetaka Nishiyama for three years.” But he certainly wasn’t as cool as Jim Kelly. Who IS this guy?! He’s GROOVY. Well, he was – I see he died in 2013. It looks like he was only in 16 films? Damn. He should’ve been a big star (but perhaps he was within this genre – I obviously have very little experience with martial arts films!). Anyway, he kicked ass for real too – he was a karate world champion.


So, yes, these three characters very much help to make this film the absolute classic that it is. But I also really enjoyed the story, though it’s quite simple. And the backstory with the sister, though it’s quite sad. And the main baddie, though I suppose he’s a pretty cliché baddie. This movie follows the most basic storytelling rules but, well, that’s because that’s what works. Those are the stories that are the most enjoyable. Give me the hero’s journey and the obvious good guys versus bad guys. I love that. And toward the start of this film, we see these three dudes in separate boats coming together to join up & go to the “Island of bad men and hot women”. Their backstories are told as they’re in their boats and this was very effective. I liked it a lot. Can we get back to making movies more like this?? I know the story isn’t one that would change the world now but it was damn good fun.


Finally, I better mention the most iconic scene from this film as these sort of scenes are what truly make Lee’s films such cult classics (right??). There are loads of great moments & fights in this but the “hall of mirrors” fight is the best. It’s brilliant. John Wick: Chapter 2 recently paid tribute to this scene (as have countless other films, I’m sure – it’s a very famous scene). Oh! And I’ve not even mentioned the great funky score from Lalo Schifrin! Man I love the music in 70’s films. And that’s exactly what this movie is: It’s so “Seventies” it hurts. I mean that in a good way! This is another big reason (maybe the biggest reason) why I enjoyed this film so much. I love that funky decade. The world is completely lacking in funk & grooviness nowadays, man! 2018 is shit. I want to live in the Seventies. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Enter The Dragon. I want to check out more Bruce Lee stuff now but know that this very Seventies part-American English-language martial arts film may not be much like the others. Funky old martial arts movies are probably going to be more my sort of thing.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Citizen Kane (1941) Blind Spot Review

Citizen Kane (1941)

IMDb Top 250 Rank: 44 out of 250 as of 01/01/2013

Directed by Orson Welles

Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Agnes Moorehead, Paul Stewart, Ruth Warrick, Erskine Sanford, William Alland

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

5. Atonement
4. Gleaming The Cube
3. The French Connection
2. Citizen Kane
1. Enter The Dragon

Watching Citizen Kane means that I also get to tick another film off the list of the IMDb Top 250 that I hadn’t yet seen when I started this blog. It’s ranked very high (although it has now dropped to 71 out of 250). It’s often considered the greatest film of all time by those smart film critic types. It was pathetic that I’m a so-called “movie blogger” but had never seen one of the most revered classics of all time (which is why I finally put it on my Blind Spot list). Well, I’ve seen it now….

Damn. This is one of those times that I really don’t feel like doing a review. I’m not a film student. Yes, Citizen Kane is a great film and I know that a lot of that will have to do with filmmaking techniques that I know nothing about since I’m an uneducated heathen who likes movies but is usually happier when watching Star Wars instead of On The Waterfront. Speaking of which, I had a hell of a time while trying to “review” that Top 250 classic as well. Actually, I’ve just re-read what I wrote about On The Waterfront and I had more to say than I remembered. Can I just copy & paste that review here as a lot of it applies to Citizen Kane too??

No, that’s not quite true. I liked Citizen Kane much more but I just didn’t quite connect with either film. I’ve discovered with these worthy classics that I far prefer the grand, sweeping epics to the gritty dramas with Oscar-winning acting. Give me a gorgeous Sergio Leone film with a Morricone score instead of Brando & his pigeons. Citizen Kane is somewhere in the middle – it has the gritty drama but it’s also epic in its telling of this character’s life story. I love a story spanning an entire lifetime and I did enjoy this movie. It’s a great film. It’s a classic. But I didn’t connect with it as much as I was hoping I would. I’m sorry! Okay – I’ve actually just taken a break to add images into this post. Wow. They’re stunning. Those are some great shots! They remind me of Fritz Lang’s M, another great film. Is that why this movie is so popular? Huh. Yeah, I admit it – I should probably watch this movie again. Someday. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

I briefly discussed Citizen Kane with a friend and how I really didn’t feel like reviewing it. Believe it or not, I’m a person of few words in real life and, when talking about a movie, I’ll often just say “Yeah, it was good” or “It sucked!”. Citizen Kane got three sentences out of me & my friend pointed out that it worked as a haiku.

So here’s my haiku review of Citizen Kane (complete with the ***BIG HUGE SPOILER*** that everyone knows about this movie by now if they are the slightest bit interested in films):

I was a bit bored.
I have no culture. I knew
it was the damn sled.

Then I added another that works out slightly better in haiku form:

Enter The Dragon
Was a much better Blind Spot
Damn that stupid sled

By the way, Enter The Dragon was f*%king awesome! I’ll review that next month and will maybe put a tiny bit of effort into that post. Maybe. For now, here’s my rating for Citizen Kane. It deserves much higher.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Okay – since this was one of my worst attempts at a review EVER (although I’ve certainly had worse), here are links to bloggers I follow who have written about Citizen Kane. I couldn’t find many! If you’ve reviewed the movie, let me know and I’ll happily add you to the below list.

100 Films In A Year

Hard Ticket To Home Video

Isaacs Picture Conclusions

Keith & The Movies

MovieRob

Rhyme & Reason

Thomas J

Atonement (2007) Blind Spot Review

Happy 33rd Birthday To Keira Knightley.

As today is her birthday, I figured I might as well get my Blind Spot review of Atonement out of the way. I didn’t like it.

Atonement (2007)

Directed by Joe Wright

Based on Atonement by Ian McEwan

Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from least favorite to favorite:

4. Atonement
3. Gleaming The Cube
2. The French Connection
1. Citizen Kane

Yeah, Atonement is last. This is my third year of doing this Blind Spot thing (my previous two years of lists are HERE) and Atonement may be my least favorite overall. I take that back – it’s probably The Last Temptation Of Christ.

Atonement is certainly not a bad film in any way and its cinematography was beautful. However, I found it boring and, worst of all, I hated the characters. I suppose my irrational dislike of Keira Knightley may be partly to blame (Sorry Keira Knightley – I hope you have a good birthday anyway!). She recently said something along the lines of only wanting to be in these period dramas now because women are always being raped in modern movies. Fair enough – that’s something I hate being thrown into films for no good reason. But did she forget about the entire central plot of Atonement?! Sheesh. Actors are so annoying. And I’m sorry if that’s a major spoiler – the rape is pretty early on in the film. I just found that to be a stupid comment, especially as there have been some very strong female characters in modern movies these last several years who’ve not been raped. Maybe she should watch more movies?


So, this is the movie that got the young Saoirse Ronan noticed with an Oscar nomination. She’s very good in this, although her character is a hateful little brat at first. But she grows & she learns. I’m guessing this was better portrayed in the novel. She clearly is forever remorseful over ruining two people’s lives with her lies but it still didn’t feel like she truly suffered as she should have. At least, she certainly didn’t suffer as much as her sister & her sister’s lover (Knightley & James McAvoy).

Knightley & McAvoy were both very good as well, although I always find that Knightley comes across as very “cold”. Man – I’m really sounding like I hate Knightley… Sorry! I did prefer McAvoy and felt genuinely sorry for his suffering at the hands of that little shit played by Ronan.


*Not Ronan but same character when older and less of a shit

Okay, I admit that this is a good movie and the problem is that it’s just not my type of thing. The acting, the score, and the cinematography were all strong and the story itself was good even though I found its execution odd (in the beginning, they keep going backwards & redoing scenes from different perspectives and it felt clunky & just annoyed me). There’s also a scene involving a letter that isn’t explained well and I didn’t know what the hell had happened until I read a full plot synopsis. The second half of the film luckily didn’t do the weird jumping around thing (from what I remember) but that just made things feel inconsistent.


*This dress was gorgeous

FYI – Knightley is okay with the C word being used in a movie! As long as it’s a period drama. 😉 I just happen to prefer this kind of period drama to the Knightley kind. I hated every character in this movie (other than McAvoy’s) and I usually don’t enjoy a film when that’s the case. The odd storytelling style also didn’t help. Maybe I’d have liked the book more, as I do think it’s a good story & I always like stories that span so many decades. Don’t skip this movie if you think it’s your type of thing. It’s just not mine…

My Rating: 6/10

Gleaming The Cube (1989) Blind Spot Review

Gleaming The Cube (1989) (aka A Brother’s Justice and Skate Or Die)

Directed by Graeme Clifford

Starring: Christian Slater, Steven Bauer, Richard Herd, Le Tuan, Min Luong, Art Chudabala, Ed Lauter, Micole Mercurio, Peter Kwong, Max Perlich, Tony Hawk, Christian Jacobs, Buddy Joe Hooker

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Gleaming the Cube featured Christian Slater as Brian Kelly, a 16-year-old skateboarder investigating the death of his adopted Vietnamese brother.

My Opinion:

I’m getting this month’s Blind Spot review out of the way so I can focus on reviewing 2018 releases & Oscar nominees in these two weeks before the Oscars. So, yeah – I’m reviewing an old Christian Slater movie before things like The Shape Of Water & Black Panther, both of which I saw last week. I really liked one of those. But I’ll get to them later…

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from least favorite to favorite:

4. Atonement
3. Gleaming The Cube
2. The French Connection
1. Citizen Kane

I honestly don’t have much to say about Gleaming The Cube. It’s quite dated, as I’d expected. I put it on my Blind Spot list since I’m an 80s/early 90s teen and I adored Christian Slater at that time but, for whatever reason, I never saw this film. As far as “skater boy” movies go, I’m sure it’s far from the best. The only other one I can think of that I’ve actually seen is Lords Of Dogtown (that was better). But I had fun with the sheer 80s cheesetasticness of this. Tony Hawk has a small part in this as one of Slater’s group of skater friends. There were loads of other skateboarders in the film (I’ve only heard of Hawk). Here’s the list from Wikipedia if you’re interested:

“The skating technical advisor for the film was original Z-Boy Stacy Peralta. Among the skateboarders who appear in the film as stunt skaters are Mike McGill, “Gator” Mark Rogowski, Rodney Mullen, Rich Dunlop, Eric Dressen, Lance Mountain, Mike Vallely, Chris Black, Ted Ehr, Natas Kaupas, Chris Borst, and Steve Saiz. Tony Hawk (Buddy) and Tommy Guerrero (Sam), then members of the Bones Brigade, appear in the film as members of Brian’s skate crew. Future lead singer of The Aquabats and creator of Yo Gabba Gabba!, Christian Jacobs, also appears in the film as Gremic.”

I love Yo Gabba Gabba! Okay, I’ll steal the “definition” of Gleaming The Cube from Wikipedia as well:

“The title of the film refers to the cryptic question “Have you ever gleemed [sic] inside a cube?” that Garry Scott Davis (GSD) asked Neil Blender in an interview in the December 1983 issue of Thrasher magazine. In the film, Christian Slater’s character defines “gleaming the cube” as “pushing your limits to the edge.””

The film follows Slater trying to find out the truth about his brother’s death, which was made to look like a suicide. In typical 80s fashion, this teen investigating what ends up being a smuggling crime ring isn’t exactly realistic and of course ends with a silly but fun chase scene involving skateboards and his group of skater friends. But it’s an enjoyable film and I’ve seen far cheesier. Definitely worth watching if you like Slater & movies of that era. I know I’d have really liked this if I’d seen it in 1989.

I’ll quickly add that there are some other likable characters in this besides Slater & the skaters (hey, that rhymes). The murdered brother, the brother’s ex-girlfriend (who Slater teams up with following the murder), and the cool detective who originally finds Slater & his friends a nuisance but who later predictably comes to Slater’s aid in his investigation. He was cool. He was in Scarface and then loads of other stuff but I think Scarface was one of his only really big roles. Here he is (Steven Bauer):

I know that Gleaming The Cube is no Citizen Kane but I like to fill my Blind Spot list with some of those “Why did I never see this movie that looks like my sort of thing?” films as well as worthy classics. It was worth finally watching this. It’s certainly not in the same league as Slater films such as Heathers or Pump Up The Volume, of course. It’s more along the lines of The Legend Of Billie Jean (but not as good as that – Billie Jean kicks ass)! I’ve added it to My Top Ten Christian Slater Movies list (it does make the Top Ten). Okay, I gotta go so I’m keeping this review short. I have stuff to do. I’m gonna go gleam that cube!

My Rating: 6.5/10

The French Connection (1971) Blind Spot Review

Happy 88th Birthday To Gene Hackman!

I didn’t even realize it was Hackman’s birthday when I decided to review this today as my first Blind Spot movie of 2018. What are the odds?! (Umm… 1 in 365, I guess???). Anyway! Happy Birthday, Mr. Hackman! Here are my thoughts on finally seeing The French Connection for the first time…

The French Connection (1971)

Directed by William Friedkin

Based on The French Connection by Robin Moore

Starring: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider, Tony Lo Bianco, Marcel Bozzuffi, Frédéric de Pasquale, Bill Hickman, Ann Rebbot, Harold Gary, Arlene Farber, Eddie Egan, André Ernotte, Sonny Grosso

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.

My Opinion:

I’ve actually already managed to watch 4 of my 2018 Blind Spot choices and I’m not all that impressed so far. Here’s my ranking (I’ll review 1 each month):

4. Atonement
3. Gleaming The Cube
2. The French Connection
1. Citizen Kane

Well, the top two are clearly leagues ahead of numbers 3 & 4. But I didn’t like The French Connection nearly as much as I thought I would considering that I do love a good, gritty, manly 70’s film (I’m a weird girl). It was okay. The famous car chase was pretty cool. But, man – Hackman’s Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle was hard to like. That’s quite a popular character – I knew that name before even seeing the movie. He’s a jerk. But I realize that’s kind of the whole point. I’ll come back to that in a bit…

This movie won the Best Picture Oscar. I didn’t realize that when I watched it. I’ve added it to my ranked list of Best Picture winners I’ve seen HERE (I put it as 26th). It beat Oscar nominees: A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof (another Blind Spot choice! Not seen it yet), The Last Picture Show & Nicholas and Alexandra (Oh wow – I’ve never even heard of this). Hmm. Yes, it deserved to win over those I’ve seen although I do like the controversial A Clockwork Orange.

“Crime drama” will never be a favorite genre of mine but I do appreciate when one is really good. This one is very good but I’ve seen better in the genre. I watched The Untouchables, another crime drama, for this Blind Spot thing last year. That was fantastic! I think a big part of that was the fact that I really liked the characters. Well, the Ennio Morricone score helped too. Fantastic score with well-developed, likable characters always works for me. I can’t currently remember the music in The French Connection (think it was jazz?) and I can’t say the characters are exactly likable. These reasons will be why I didn’t connect (ha!) with it quite as much but it’s certainly worth watching if you haven’t seen it. I do understand why it’s so well regarded.


Gene Hackman & Roy Scheider, who play the NYC cops in The French Connection, are both very good (Hackman won the Best Actor Oscar & Scheider was nominated for Best Supporting Actor). Hackman’s Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle is an iconic character & he plays it well. I know this is based on a true story & these characters are (loosely?) based real-life people. I don’t know how true to life the characters are. The thing that some people (aka: millennials. I may get in trouble for that. 😉 ) might struggle with when watching this nowadays is Popeye’s womanizing, racist ways. He’s not easy to like but, as I said, that’s kind of the point. He’s determined to solve the drug smuggling crime in this film and it seems he will do whatever it takes, no matter who gets hurt. This specific job becomes an obsession for him and I do appreciate the strong characterization. However, it does make it hard to root for the supposed “good guys” in this film.

Overall, I did enjoy this film although it won’t become a personal favorite. I do approve of its many awards & its status as a classic. As for Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, he’s an iconic character. He’s flawed but he feels real. I’d rather watch a movie with strong characters like these, even when unlikable, than watch a movie whose characters have no depth.

My Rating: 7.5/10

My 2018 Blind Spot Choices & Blog Resolutions

Well, it’s Year 6 of my blog & Year 3 of me doing this Blind Spot Project where we make ourselves watch 12 movies in a year that we’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Most people choose classics but I like to mix it up with some random shit as well since watching 12 “worthy classics” sounds like a drag. Besides, I have my IMDB Top 250 Challenge for the boring stuff!

Having said that, though, I’ve chosen far too many worthy films this year (some of which will also double up with the IMDB Top 250 thing). Other than the below Christian Slater movie… Sorry – there’s no longer any excuse for me having never seen a movie starring one of my teenage crushes in my favorite movie decade (I’m sure it’s not great). I have to admit that I’m not overly excited about a lot that are on this list, though. Hopefully I’ll feel differently at the end of 2018 since they’re obviously critically acclaimed for a reason. And, again, I have several “alternate” choices due to possible lack of availability and/or time and/or depending on what the hubby will let me watch without him.

So here are My 2018 Blind Spot Choices:

The French Connection

Citizen Kane

Midnight Express

Enter The Dragon

Gandhi

Atonement

Fiddler On The Roof

Quadrophenia

Metropolis

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Gleaming The Cube

The Gold Rush

Alternates:

El Topo
Tetsuo
Solaris (1972)
Once Upon A Time In America
The Right Stuff
Lawrence Of Arabia
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Paprika

2018 Blog Resolutions:

I already covered this on my big five-year blogiversary post but my “blog resolutions” are simple this year: To reduce the time I spend on this blog.

As much as I enjoy this online movie diary, I really need to focus on other stuff going on in my life. I’ll still log everything I watch in 2018 & do “month-in-review” posts where I’ll briefly discuss what I saw & read each month.

Here’s what I’ll still be posting:

Blind Spot Movie Reviews: One each month, probably toward the end of the month.

Reviews of 2018 UK cinema releases: I’ll still try to review all the current films that I watch since this is what people are most interested in discussing.

Monthly Recap Posts At The End Of Each Month: To briefly discuss everything that I watched & read each month.

Other than that, I’ll sometimes post reviews of movies I watch at home if I can be bothered or if they’re in the IMDb Top 250 or if one is so fantastic that I absolutely MUST tell you all about it! 😉 And, maybe once in a blue moon, I’ll
post a Top Ten list. People seem to enjoy them but I’m burnt out & need a break from them.

That’s it! I won’t completely abandon this place and I’ll still be on Twitter (it’s far less time-consuming but also full of angry people who stress me out). I wish you all a wonderful 2018!

Last week I posted all my 2017 Year-End Lists:

IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update: Only 50 Left To Go

My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

My Top Ten Books Read In 2017

My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2017

My Top Ten Movies Of 2017

My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

This is the second year I’ve done the Blind Spot thing and I’ve really enjoyed it. I saw 24 great films these past two years! (Here’s my ranked list of my 2016 Blind Spot choices)

I think my choices were slightly stronger last year but I still really liked all of the below films except number 12 and I think the top 7 are especially brilliant.

So here are My 2017 Blind Spot Movies, (from my least favorite to my favorite):

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ

11. Altered States

10. The Raid

9. The King & I

8. House (Hausu) (1977)

7. The Hustler

6. Jackie Brown

5. Wolf Children

4. Ghost In The Shell

3. The Untouchables

2. Watership Down

1. Rocky

See you tomorrow for my ranked list of all the books that I read in 2017.

Wolf Children (2012) Blind Spot Review

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

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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


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

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

My Rating: 8/10

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

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

The Untouchables (1987) Blind Spot Review

The Untouchables (1987)

Directed by Brian De Palma

Based on The Untouchables by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley

Starring: Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith, Andy García, Robert De Niro, Sean Connery

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team.

My Opinion:

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

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

Well, damn. I liked The Untouchables far more than I was expecting. It’s a great film. I have to admit that “crime” drama, especially when based on true crime, is quite possibly my least favorite movie genre. I don’t know why but know I’m probably in the minority. The Silence Of The Lambs? Not a fan. Not that that was exactly true crime. As for true crime, I couldn’t even make it through that Making A Murderer thing that everyone was talking about on Netflix. I don’t know the outcome. I stopped watching halfway through and wondered why it couldn’t just be a two-hour documentary.

But back to The Untouchables. I have NO clue how true it is to real events. Okay – I looked into in a bit and it looks like this film is almost entirely fiction. That’s fine – true crime upsets me anyway. Well, however much of it is true or not, I thoroughly enjoyed this film as a work of art & entertainment. It deserves more acclaim. And I was probably further drawn into it thanks to the Ennio Morricone score as well. Man I love that f*^king genius. I’d say I’m also a fan of quite a few of Brian De Palma’s older movies and I think this is his best film (that I’ve seen, that is, but I’m pretty sure I’ve now seen all those worth watching). I prefer it to Scarface but, since I’m always completely honest, Carrie is still my personal favorite of his although I know it’s flawed.

As with all the movies that I like the most, The Untouchables is full of strong characters and relationships. In this case, it’s the camaraderie amongst the team put together by Federal Agent Eliot Ness to bring down criminal Al Capone. That team was nicknamed The Untouchables, FYI, as it was claimed that they never took bribes and were incorruptible. These guys here – I loved ’em:

Yeah! Even Sean Connery was likable. Anal bum cover! He was the main partner to Ness and my favorite character. His Irish(?!) accent seemed a bit dodgy but that’s Connery for you. He won an Oscar for this role anyway (yay!) so I guess it didn’t matter. And I’ve never been a huge fan of Andy García but he was super cool in this. To be honest, I thought the only weak one in this film was Robert De Niro as Al Capone. I liked that his part was smaller than I expected (this is meant to be the story of Ness & The Untouchables, after all). He’s just done the gangster thing much better in other movies. Sorry, De Niro fans!

There are some great iconic scenes in this film as well, such as the bit with the baby buggy that most of you will have seen in clips over the years as I had. Oh, and I’ve not even mentioned Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness… I think we all got pretty sick of Costner by the mid-90s, right? I honestly would happily never watch him in another movie again, which is probably a little unfair but, f*^k it, he won’t be reading this. However, I have to admit that he was pretty perfect in the role of Ness so I have zero complaints. Good job, Kevin Costner!

I just want to end this with what my hubby said about the movie when we were discussing it & I think Costner ties into this a bit: This movie would be considered more of a classic up there with the likes of The Godfather if it had been made in the 70s instead of the 80s. As much as I love the 80s, it didn’t produce a lot of all-time classics and the gritty look & feel of Seventies filmmaking would have really given this film the extra edge it seems to be missing. Plus there’s the fact that Kevin Costner is in it… He just doesn’t scream “star of all-time gangster classic!” to me. Why am I so anti-Costner?! I have no idea. He was good in this. I liked this a hell of a lot and find it odd that it isn’t more highly rated (it’s not even in the IMDB Top 250, which I think it deserves to be). Quite frankly, it deserved a Best Picture Oscar nomination as well. These were the nominees that year: The Last Emperor, Broadcast News, Fatal Attraction, Hope and Glory & Moonstruck. Whaaat? Okay – I’ve not seen winner The Last Emperor but The Untouchables is better than all the other nominees (although I have a soft spot for Fatal Attraction). Stupid Oscars. If you haven’t seen The Untouchables and you’re interested in doing the Blind Spot thing, I’d recommend adding it to your list. It’s well worth the watch.

My Rating: 8/10

Altered States (1980) Blind Spot Review

Altered States (1980)

Directed by Ken Russell

Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Drew Barrymore

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Altered States is a 1980 American science-fiction horror film directed by Ken Russell and adapted from a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. The film was adapted from Chayefsky’s only novel and is his final screenplay. Both the novel and the film are based on John C. Lilly’s sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks under the influence of psychoactive drugs like mescaline, ketamine and LSD.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite (I’ve finished watching them all! Just need to review the rest):

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

As with a lot of my Blind Spot picks, Altered States was put on the list as I’ve been meaning to see it for years. I’d heard it described as a “Body Horror” film and I have a strange fascination with those (I did a list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies HERE). I’d say I liked it okay but it didn’t really live up to my expectations. And it’s certainly not a David Cronenberg-style body horror, which is the kind of thing I go for. It IS pretty bizarre, though, so I appreciated that. But I became a bit bored with it overall. Oh well – I still found it far more entertaining than this year’s Blind Spot choice of The Last Temptation Of Christ.


**Yeah, this photo is from Altered States – not The Last Temptation Of Christ…

I didn’t know beforehand that this movie is (I’m assuming rather loosely) based on John C. Lilly’s real-life isolation tank experiments (as in the plot synopsis up there). So I then looked up John C. Lilly (here on Wikipedia) as I admit I’d never heard of him & read a little about his research. Whoa – talk about an interesting life! Man I’m boring. And those 60’s drugs sound crazy, man. His isolation tank experiments seem less bizarre than some of the many other things he researched, such as dolphin communication and what he called “Solid State Intelligence” and “Earth Coincidence Control Office (E.C.C.O.)”. Whaaat? I can’t even explain those – just read the Wikipedia entry. Has anyone read his work? I think I’d be confused as hell. But I doubt he ever actually “devolved” into some kind of apelike creature like William Hurt did in this movie (Sorry – Spoiler??). I’m sure this movie was pretty “out-there” in 1980 but parts of it are very silly when watching it now for the first time.

Sorry – this is going to be a short review. I honestly don’t know how to go about discussing this one. I think the science behind it all was just way too far over my head. Or maybe it would help to watch this while using mescaline, ketamine and LSD to better understand Hurt’s experiences while drugged-up & suspended in the isolation tank??? I have to say I’ve always wanted to try those float therapy places where you float in water in a dark tank for an hour or whatever. I think I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to turn into this:

Or this:

But I wouldn’t mind looking like this:

The naked lady is actress Blair Brown, who I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else. Well, apparently she was in Dogville but I can’t say I remember her character. Anyway, she plays William Hurt’s wife in this & I thought she was really good. I felt sorry for her character having to put up with all of Hurt’s weird, rambling, intellectual mumbo jumbo. He treated her pretty crap and I kept forgetting they had kids together as his family took a backseat to his research. Hell – one of their kids was even played by Drew Barrymore & I somehow managed to totally miss that since they were barely a part of the film. I love Drew! Oh, Altered States doesn’t manage to make it onto My Top Ten Drew Barrymore Movies list I did ages ago, so… Good! I won’t have to update that list. Hurt did well with the role – it’s just such a hard character to relate to in any way.

I probably sound more negative about this film than I actually feel. I think it’s worth watching as it’s quite unique and I did enjoy some of the imagery, such as in these last few photos I’ve put in this post. I wish there’d been more of that but we also had simian Hurt running around with his monkey balls out & crucified, multi-eyed, Jesus-goat-thingy Hurt and it was hard to take the movie too seriously as these specific effects haven’t aged as well as the more psychedelic scenes have. I’m glad I finally saw Altered States and another Ken Russell film other than Tommy. I prefer Tommy, but that’ll mainly be because of the music.

My Rating: 6.5/10



**I think that’s Drew in this movie, although I can’t say for sure. Aww. So cute!

The Raid (2011) Blind Spot Review

The Raid (2011)
US Title – The Raid: Redemption
Serbuan maut
ザ・レイド

Directed & Written by Gareth Huw Evans

Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Sathya

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Raid is a 2011 Indonesian martial arts action–survival film in which an elite squad is tasked to infiltrate a high-rise building – run by a ruthless drug lord – located in the slums of Jakarta. Among them is Rama (played by Uwais), a rookie member of the team.

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:

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

Even though The Raid is second from the bottom, I did really like it. This is just a strong list of movies! The only one I can’t say I really liked at all was The Last Temptation Of Christ.

I was expecting to maybe like The Raid more than I did, though. I loved the fast-paced action and the whole concept of battling their way through this high-rise building, which is such a simple yet brilliant idea for an action movie. And the movie does kick ass (although it was a bit too violent for me – I’m such a wuss).

I would never say that action movies are a favorite genre of mine but I do enjoy a really good one. The problem with action movies is that there are a lot of really bad ones and, while I don’t expect all of them to have much depth and am happy to sometimes just switch off my brain & be entertained, I do want to at least care about some of the characters. For me, an action movie either needs to be a) SO awesome & kick-ass that flaws in writing and weak character development can be overlooked or b) well-written with some really great characters & just enough action to keep things interesting. I prefer option b but option b with kick-ass action would be great. I’m trying to think of a “perfect” action movie. Hmm…. I don’t know. Maybe Aliens? Although I first think of sci-fi with that. The Terminator is another one. Maybe I only really like action within science fiction. What’s my point? I have no idea. I think what I’m saying is that The Raid is mostly option a. It’s a kick-ass action movie but is far more shallow than I was expecting after all the praise it’s had. I really liked our main “hero”, Rama, so that kept me caring about the final outcome but everyone else is as expendable as they’re written to be.

I did enjoy this movie so don’t want to come across as too negative. In thinking about what I consider to be my all-time favorite films, very few are from the action or crime genres. If this movie sounds like your type of thing, it’s one you should definitely watch if you haven’t. It’s a thoroughly entertaining film and I’m very much looking forward to seeing its sequel, which is even more highly rated for some reason. I’m hoping we maybe get a little more story & time spent on our main characters in that one?

I’m going to end by comparing The Raid to some other films. One obvious one is Die Hard (what with the whole baddies taking over a high-rise building thing). I’m not a huge lover of Die Hard like most people my age but it’s an action classic. Which is the better of the two? Probably Die Hard, and this is due to better characters. Another is the one a lot of people compare this to: Dredd. Although Dredd came out after The Raid, I saw it first & really liked it so it probably made seeing The Raid a little less interesting for me. Which is better? In a way, I think I enjoyed Dredd slightly more but The Raid is the better film. Dredd is 100% option a. No character development, shallow as hell, but really f*^king cool. I’d love to see them make a Dredd sequel but I don’t give a shit about what happens to the characters whereas I want to see The Raid 2 to see what happens since I cared just enough about (whoever may or may not have survived…? Spoilers??? 😉 ). Finally, it may seem an odd comparison but as I saw The Raid & Train To Busan recently, both are still in my mind. Well, they’re both foreign language films & they’re from the two genres that usually have the weakest characters: action & horror. The better film? Definitely Train To Busan. Why? Great characters! In a horror film!! So, it is possible. I suppose I just wanted a little something more from The Raid. I had a lot of fun watching it but it lacks that extra “something” that makes a film a true all-time classic.

My Rating: 7.5/10

After finally seeing The Raid, I definitely wouldn’t want to piss off Kanjiklub.

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… 😉

The King And I (1956) Blind Spot Review

The King And I (1956)

Directed by Walter Lang

Based on The King and I by Oscar Hammerstein II

Starring: Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno, Maureen Hingert, Martin Benson, Rex Thompson

Music by Richard Rodgers

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The King and I is a 1956 American musical film based on the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King and I, based in turn on the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s.

My Opinion:

Well, it looks like we’re halfway through the year & I’ve managed to watch 8 of my 12 2017 Blind Spot movies. Not too bad! So, I might as well have a look at where I think I’d rank each of them so far. From least favorite to 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

I’ve really liked all my movie choices so far other than The Last Temptation Of Christ (which was a bit of a snoozefest). So I have to say this Blind Spot thing is something I really do enjoy & the one thing I’d like to continue while I don’t really have time for much else on this blog at the moment.

There are still quite a few classic musicals that I’ve never seen so I’ll probably try to do one each year as a Blind Spot choice (next year’s will probably be Fiddler On The Roof). I do love a few of them but, overall, musicals aren’t exactly a favorite genre of mine. I’ve now updated My Top Ten Movie Musicals post and The King & I just makes it in at number ten. It’s certainly not up there with the likes of The Sound Of Music or The Wizard Of Oz but it’s a lovely film definitely worth watching and one that I’m happy to have shared with my eight-year-old. I’m also happy to say that it met with her approval as well! She especially liked all the kids that are in the film and still often quotes Yul Brynner’s “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!”, which I find adorable. I’m loving sharing classic films with my kid & often feel like we don’t get enough of these types of movies nowadays. What are future generations going to share with their kids when it comes to movies? Baywatch???

I know this is one of quite a few films for which Marni Nixon provided the singing voice. I’ll never quite understand when they have a different person provide the singing voice. Surely you can find someone who can act and sing??? Anyway – Kerr was good in this (and I didn’t find her lip syncing obvious) but it was Brynner’s King who really made the film for me. Well, okay – it’s the two characters together which really makes the film work because of their completely different lifestyles & values. Who doesn’t enjoy the whole “opposites attract” thing?? That’s why it’s used so often in stories! But Brynner was especially fun to watch in this and I’d have to say I enjoyed the film more than I expected to after it got off to a fairly slow start.

I think The King & I has probably not aged quite as well as some films due to feeling out of date and due to, in my opinion, not having as many memorable songs as a lot of other famous musicals. The only one I already knew beforehand was Getting To Know You (which I’ve shared at the end of this post). I expected there to be more “Hey, I know this song” moments as I watched this. It’s not a huge complaint, though. I really enjoyed this movie & would happily watch it again. I liked the story, the characters, the costumes, the song & dance numbers, and the fact that The King & I just feels like an all-time classic musical in a way that La La Land just doesn’t feel like something that will be held in quite such high regard 60 years from now.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**This was meant to be my Blind Spot Movie for June but I’ve not had much time to write reviews. So I’ve quickly done two in one go! I’ll be posting the review for my July Blind Spot Movie, Rocky, tomorrow. 🙂

Ghost In The Shell (1995) Blind Spot Review

Ghost In The Shell (1995)
攻殻機動隊
Gōsuto in za sheru / Kōkaku kidōtai (Ghost in the Shell / Mobile Armored Riot Police)

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

Based on Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow

Starring Voice Actors: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi

Running time: 82 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ghost in the Shell follows the hunt of the public security agency Section 9 for a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. With the assistance of her team, Motoko Kusanagi tracks and finds their suspect, only to be drawn into a complex sequence of political intrigue and a cover-up as to the identity and goals of the Puppet Master.

My Opinion:

So this was an “alternate” Blind Spot choice of mine (I guess I need to kick one of the main ones off the list now). I decided to watch this because a) the live-action American remake was out recently and b) I noticed the running time of only 82 minutes! Okay – the running time was the biggest reason. Why are so many “worthy” films at least 2.5 hours long? I’m too busy!

I’m glad I did finally get around to watching this. I really enjoyed it. I do want to see the Scarlett Johansson one at some point too just to see how they recreated certain scenes but know that it will of course pale greatly in comparison to the original. I’d be interested to hear from those of you who’ve seen both and from fans of the original.


I’m not going to write a lot about this film as I don’t have much knowledge when it comes to Japanese anime (other than my beloved Studio Ghibli). It’s a genre I’m becoming more & more interested in and want to explore by at least watching some of the most well known stuff. I watched Akira as a Blind Spot choice last year (I decided to dive in at the deep end!). Akira isn’t quite like anything I’d seen before and I loved it (it was my favorite of my twelve 2016 Blind Spot films).

I think Ghost In The Shell is fantastic too and I can understand why it’s so popular but, unfortunately, I wasn’t as blown away as I was with Akira. I think a lot of that is probably thanks to me seeing things like The Matrix and even Ex Machina before seeing Ghost, meaning that Ghost feels almost dated now even though it came beforehand and clearly had a big influence on a lot of later films.

Okay – I don’t think “dated” is at all the right word to use… The animation is beautiful and the story is probably even more relevant now than in 1995. I think anyone who enjoys this type of science fiction would definitely like this film if they haven’t seen it. I suppose it’s just that the themes in Ghost In The Shell have been explored in loads of entertainment over the years (and especially in the years that followed its release), meaning that it doesn’t feel quite as original in 2017 as it will have 22 years ago. But it’s still a damn good science fiction anime & worthy of its status as a classic in this genre. There’s a lot of iconic imagery & an amazing musical montage (I’ve included a clip of this below). I’m happy to say that Ghost In The Shell was well worth my time & a worthy addition to my list of Blind Spot movies.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh, and I love this Mondo poster created by artist Martin Ansin

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988) Blind Spot Review

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton, David Bowie

Music by Peter Gabriel

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short & I’ll be totally honest – The Last Temptation Of Christ was on my 2017 Blind Spot list mainly because I wanted to see David Bowie’s role in it. So now I can say I have! All five minutes (at most) of it, toward the end of the 2 hour & 44 minute film. I suppose I also wanted to add another Martin Scorsese film to my ranked list of his films that I’ve seen (it doesn’t quite make it into the top ten, out of the 12 I’ve seen, nor does it make the list of My Top Ten Harry Dean Stanton Movies). Not gonna lie – out of almost a year & a half of doing this Blind Spot thing, this film is easily my least favorite & was the biggest struggle to work my way through.

I won’t get into the film’s story and religious beliefs. I watched this because I’m a film fan & it’s a movie by a very respected director with some big name stars (and because: David Bowie). No, “biblical dramas” are not at all the type of genre I go for (give me sci-fi) so that wasn’t going to help but it’s definitely overlong and it didn’t feel as, I don’t know… As well put together as most of Scorsese’s other work? I know nothing about filmmaking but this just isn’t up there with the likes of something like Goodfellas (also a genre that’s not at all my type of thing but a good film is a good film, whatever the genre). Not that this isn’t a good film… It must be a decent piece of filmmaking considering that Scorsese was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for it, the film’s one & only nomination. Hmm. It’s very hard to review respected films that just really didn’t speak to you personally! That’s why I’m keeping this very short for a Blind Spot review. I’d love to instead hear from fellow bloggers who, unlike me, have strong opinions one way or another about this film. I do know it was & still is very controversial & hated by some while there are others who think it’s another Scorsese masterpiece.

The acting is solid and Dafoe does a good job but I also felt that the acting let the film down a bit. I didn’t think “Wow – so-and-so was brilliant in this film!” the way I’ve thought some of the actors were pretty amazing in the majority of Scorsese’s other films. Some felt very miscast (Keitel) while some are actors I’ve never been particularly impressed with (Hershey). Okay okay – and my beloved Bowie! I fully admit that acting was never his biggest talent… 😉 However, he did okay in his very small role & didn’t feel as out of place as some of those in larger roles. Harry Dean Stanton was a highlight, though – he’s such an underrated actor.

Overall, I’m sorry to say that this is one of those films that I won’t remember much of a year or so from now. There weren’t really any specific scenes that stood out in my mind (we all know the story already anyway so I saw pretty much exactly what I expected, although this is a somewhat alternative version). I was especially disappointed that the acting didn’t stand out for me and it seriously felt even longer than it already was, especially at the end when we’re given a long look at an alternative life for Jesus? Sorry. I didn’t love it. It’s not a bad film but I’d only recommend it to those interested in religious dramas or to serious Martin Scorsese fans who want to see all he’s done. Ugh. I feel like a bad blogger for not loving a Scorsese film.

My Rating: 6/10

Only I would review The Last Temptation Of Christ & Smurfs: The Lost Village in the same week… Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Jackie Brown (1997) Blind Spot Review 

Happy Birthday to Quentin Tarantino, who is 54 today. I figured this would be a good time to finally review my 2017 Blind Spot choice of Jackie Brown. And tomorrow I’ll be reviewing The Hateful Eight, which I’ve finally just watched as well. At least I liked one of these two movies! Here’s my review for Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Based on Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to finally watching Jackie Brown, the only Tarantino-directed film I’d never watched (okay – not counting that Four Rooms movie or his guest director credit on Sin City, which isn’t a movie that I liked anyway).

Jackie Brown is an odd one in that I’m of course used to Tarantino’s style now & this one has a very different feel to it. I suppose the main reason for this is that the film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch instead of a Tarantino original story like his other films. I think this works in the film’s favor but I’d also hazard a guess that it isn’t the number one favorite film for most diehard Tarantino fans.

I’ll be honest – I think someone needs to rein Tarantino in a bit. Not long after watching Jackie Brown I watched the overblown The Hateful Eight and it definitely made me appreciate Brown much more. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Jackie Brown. It’s a good but uneven film and, although I confess that I know nothing about the book and have never read anything by Elmore Leonard in my life, it feels pretty obvious which bits were probably embellished by Tarantino. There’s a welcome subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown that’s especially missing in Tarantino’s most current films. Don’t get me wrong – I like his movies and know they’re going to be over the top (Kill Bill being my favorite, which is OTT to the extreme, but in a good way). But…. What am I trying to say? I don’t know. I think Tarantino is just another director who has come to believe his own hype a bit too much & he needs to take a step back and focus on the great writing that made his older films like Reservoir Dogs such a success. Okay – I’m focusing too much on not liking The Hateful Eight. More about that one tomorrow but I can’t help but compare since I watched these two almost back to back & they’re so very different.

I loved the overall mood of Jackie Brown, which was of course helped once again by the use of a truly fantastic soundtrack. If there’s one thing that Tarantino always does right, it’s picking the music for his films. I loved this soundtrack so much. Best music (as in, songs as opposed to score) that I’ve heard in a film in a long time! Remember when movie soundtracks used to be good like this?? Sorry to go on about this so much but it’s not something that is done as well in films nowadays. When I think back to my teen years, I bought loads of movie (song) soundtracks. There were so many good ones then. What the hell happened? The music in a movie is very important to me as I think it plays such an integral part in creating a film’s mood. I keep saying “song” to differentiate as I’m actually more of a lover of original film scores than of “song” soundtracks usually but, when a movie puts together a lot of previously recorded music as perfectly as Jackie Brown does, it makes me happy. Hey – at least I have to give credit to Tarantino for getting Ennio Morricone to score The Hateful Eight. I worship people like Morricone & John Williams the way that most people worship the pretty celebrities who are in front of the cameras. Maybe I’m weird?! And, shit – I’m talking about The Hateful Eight again. Sorry.

As I said, there’s a subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown unlike in Tarantino’s more recent works and it’s these understated scenes that were easily my favorite bits of this movie. Pam Grier & Robert Forster were brilliant and I was happiest when the movie went back to the scenes involving their characters. Loved their chemistry! I totally wanted a love story there (if you’ve not seen it, I won’t say if this happens or not).

There are bigger name stars in this one (Robert De Niro and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson) but the scenes involving them were the ones that I felt had a little too much of that “Tarantino vibe” going on. Who the hell doesn’t love Samuel L. Jackson, right? He’s awesome. But he’s his usual “Tarantino-self” in this and, for once, I enjoyed having those Grier & Forster scenes involving more than just Tarantino/Jackson sweary banter and extreme violence.

Speaking of extreme violence, this is the least violent Tarantino movie (well, maybe that Four Rooms thing isn’t violent?). I think it’s the first of his films that I was able to watch with my eyes fully open the entire time! I mean, it’s of course plenty violent but it’s not explicitly shown. I’m a wuss. I prefer to not see full-on gore. Yet Kill Bill is my favorite so I suppose that makes no sense… Eh, I just love a good revenge story (and women who kick ass). And I have yet to watch all of Kill Bill with my eyes fully open. I guess, looking at it that way, Jackie Brown is the first & only Tarantino movie that I’ve actually seen. 😉 And I appreciated that.


Perhaps Tarantino should try adapting someone else’s work again sometime. I do like his style and I didn’t mind Jackie Brown having that Tarantino stamp on it but I also liked the way in which adapting someone else’s work meant he kind of managed to keep the story more on track & to not go so medieval on our asses. Again, I think Jackie Brown is also unfortunately somewhat uneven because of this and it’s certainly not a perfect film but I do think it’s better than several of Tarantino’s other films (yet I don’t think it’s widely accepted as so?). I did a post a very long time ago ranking the Tarantino films I’ve seen, which I’ve finally updated HERE. Have a look if you really want to see where I’ve placed Jackie Brown (although you can probably guess where The Hateful Eight ranks!).

Jackie Brown is a good film. It probably deserves more credit than it gets and I’m glad to have added it to my Blind Spot list as it was well worth finally watching. Grier & Forster are the true stars who make this film and it’s unfortunate that they’re somewhat overshadowed by “more famous” names being in the movie as well. I have a confession: I seriously don’t know Robert Forster. I know his face but never could have told you his name and had to look him up after watching this. He’s been in 177 things!!! And I watch loads of movies & know my actors. Is he one of these actors who flies under the radar & won’t get any proper recognition until he’s gone? Or have I just seriously overlooked him for years? He’s so damn good in this & I’m happy to see that he got an Oscar nomination for this role. But… Where the f*^k is Pam Grier’s nomination?!? What the f*^k, you m*^herf*^king Academy?!? I’m going to go Samuel L. Jackson on your asses! She’s great. She’s super sexy at fortysomething. I want her & Forster’s characters to live happily ever after (maybe they do? I’m not saying). I’m going to go listen to that Delfonics song now…

My Rating: 8/10

Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – The Delfonics:

And here’s the opening of Jackie Brown, with Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street. God I love this soundtrack. Can I just post YouTube videos of the whole soundtrack??:

Who Is He (And What Is He To You?) – Bill Withers:

And this one is bizarre. I like it! Good job, Tarantino. I’ll stop posting videos now. I need to buy this soundtrack… The Lions And The Cucumber – The Vampire Sound Incorporation:

Wait. Gotta end with Pam Grier! Long Time Woman – Pam Grier:

Shit. I didn’t post Strawberry Letter 23. Or Street Life… (This is a good soundtrack. Watch the movie. Listen to the songs). 🙂

Watership Down (1978) Blind Spot Review

Watership Down (1978)

Directed by Martin Rosen & John Hubley

Based on Watership Down by Richard Adams

Starring: John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, Roy Kinnear, Simon Cadell, Harry Andrews, Zero Mostel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.

My Opinion:

This is my second Blind Spot movie of 2017 after watching & reviewing The Hustler in January. I’ve never read the Watership Down book by Richard Adams and have managed to avoid spoilers for years. I’d only ever heard that the movie is “sad” so I will of course avoid giving any major spoilers in this review.

I’m still not quite sure what to think of this film. I watched it over a month ago & it goes up in my estimation the more I think about it. It was very good & I liked it but know it’s one that would grow on me after multiple watches. I have to say that I wish I’d grown up with it as that would make me appreciate it in a different sort of way. I also very much want to read the book now as I think it would make more sense of the story (I was extremely tired the night I watched this. As usual). I want the kid to read more classics so I have a feeling she’ll be getting this book as a gift from mommy so we can read it together when she’s older. It’ll prepare her for the movie, which I wouldn’t allow her to watch yet. Yes, this film is indeed extremely violent for an animated “family” film. I’ll come back to that topic in a bit…

Watership Down is very different from modern-day animated films. I mean that in a good way, though. It has the soul & bravery that a lot of classic kids’ stories had in the 1970s but which have been sucked out of the sanitized & meaningless “Happy Meal toy seller” movies pumped out by Hollywood nowadays. To quote two bits of trivia at IMDB, Watership Down is “considered to be the most violent animated PG-rated film ever made.” Also, “The British Board of Film Classification is still receiving complaints about this film after it was made almost 40 years ago.

It’s funny to think that, although I didn’t see this as a kid, I’d have probably seen it by the age of six or seven and my parents would’ve thought nothing of it whereas no one would let a kid that age watch this film now. I just find it amusing what people protect their kids from nowadays. They’ll shield them from an allegorical classic such as this but will think nothing of letting them have unmonitored Internet & social media access. They’ll think nothing of letting them do so many things that are far more psychologically damaging than watching Watership Down. Don’t worry – I’m not getting on my soapbox since, even though I know I’d have seen this by the time I was my kid’s age if I’d had the opportunity, there’s no WAY I’d let her watch this! Lol. 😉 Not yet. I’ll check out the book first as that seems like the better introduction but, to give a slight spoiler warning, this movie goes full-on “Bunny Road House at the end! I expected a polar bear to fall on someone. I expected Sam Elliott (stud) to show up & help guide the bunnies to safety. Be nice until it’s time to not be nice, little bunnies!

I often say “I’m now interested in reading the book” after watching a movie that I liked but I rarely do it as I don’t like doing it that way around (I try to always read the book before the movie adaptation if it’s something that interests me). I mean it this time, however. It strikes me as one that will go far deeper in the book as the rabbits have their entirely own culture, belief system, language, etc. The movie touches on this very well and I loved the look and animation style used at the start of the film to help explain their culture but would assume, as is usually the case, that the book will explain even more. The story being an allegory of many things, but mainly humanity in general, I’d like to read the book to more easily draw the parallels.

Finally, for those interested in the book or movie, I’ll say that it follows the classic Joseph Campbell “hero’s journey” sort of theme, which always makes for a great story. The epic journey and mythological themes also reminded me of just how much I loved The Warriors. Yes, that’s right! I did indeed just compare Watership Down to The Warriors & Road House. That’s a massive compliment because those movies are awesome. Okay – I’ve talked myself into it now: I really really liked Watership Down. It’s a fantastically epic allegorical journey worthy of its “classic” status. And Road House Bunny Warriors kick ass.

To end this review, I thought I better make mention of the book’s author (Richard Adams) and the voice our main character Hazel (brilliantly done by John Hurt). Both sadly passed away very recently and it’s just a coincidence that I chose this as a Blind Spot movie as I’d been wanting to see it for years. So, in their honor, I’m happy to say that Watership Down is a wonderful story and I’m very glad to have added another John Hurt classic to my recent list of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies (a list which is still sadly missing a few big films I have yet to see). I’ve now updated that list & Watership Down is very high (ain’t nothing gonna beat Alien, though! EVER). I hadn’t realized just how many voices Hurt had done for animated films and, based on how great he was in this, I’m now moving Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord Of The Rings (in which he voices Aragorn) much further up my “To Watch” list. So far, I’m very happy with my 2017 Blind Spot choices.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s Art Garfunkel doing the Bright Eyes song from Watership Down. The song is actually only very briefly featured in the film – I expected to hear the whole thing…

**FYI: Netflix & the BBC are making a new Watership Down mini-series with a pretty impressive cast (James McAvoy, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kingsley, and Gemma Arterton to name a few). This will apparently air sometime this year. I can’t find more current information on it but you can read an old article about it HERE at Variety.com. Will be interesting to see but I’ll read the book first. I’m sure this version will be a watered-down Watership Down… 

Oh, I actually managed to go to a movie over the weekend! And it was almost as violent as Watership Down. See you tomorrow with my review of John Wick: Chapter 2. 

The Hustler (1961) Blind Spot Review

Today would have been Paul Newman’s birthday, so I’m reviewing his film The Hustler for my Blind Spot 2017 Series as well as my IMDB Top 250 Project. Like many classics, this was in the Top 250 when I started the project on 01/01/13 but is currently not on the list.

Let’s see what I thought of The Hustler (as well as its 1986 sequel The Color Of Money, which I’m reviewing tomorrow)…

The Hustler (1961)

Directed by Robert Rossen

Based on The Hustler by Walter Tevis

Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine, Stefan Gierasch, Clifford Pellow, Jake LaMotta

IMDB Rank: 197 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Hustler tells the story of small-time pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson and his desire to break into the “major league” of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country; seeking to best the legendary pool player “Minnesota Fats.”

My Opinion:

Paul Newman was so damn hot. What a hunk. I lusted after him through this whole movie. It’s quite disappointing that it’s in black & white because I like seeing those baby blue eyes of his in color. But even in black & white, he’s still dreamy. *sigh*

The Hustler is very good and I can see why it’s a classic and it totally sucks that current films keep knocking old films such as this one out of the IMDB Top 250. I can sort of understand why, though, as I’m guilty myself of not exploring many movies that are pre-1970 or so but it does annoy me that most young people want to watch nothing but current stuff these days. Anyway, I enjoyed The Hustler and the acting is phenomenal, which I think it what makes this one such a classic. Surprisingly, though, it was Piper Laurie who stole the show. Wow. More about her later…

Newman was his usual self: Full of charm & charisma. He was such a great actor and one of only a handful over the years who I feel had that extra “something” that made him my definition of a true movie star. You know that “something” that’s hard to explain? I feel that “something” is missing from most artists nowadays (especially within the music industry – even more so than in film). I haven’t explored as much of Newman’s work as I’d like but I can now say that The Hustler is a must-see for anyone wanting to see him in his best roles. There’s more than just his usual charm & charisma here – he’s a lonely, complex character and the movie truly comes alive when he becomes involved with Piper Laurie’s similarly lost soul.

Newman is fantastic and it’s a shame he didn’t win the Oscar but Laurie is stunning. I’m glad, like Newman, that she also got a nomination but it’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten more recognition for this role. I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know she was in The Hustler! I’ll also be totally honest & admit that I’ve never really known her as anything other than Margaret White in Carrie. I LOVE her in Carrie (she easily topped my list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies). Who knew she could play a disturbed character with such sympathetic subtlety in The Hustler just as well as she did full-on batshit crazy in Carrie?? I love her in both roles but have a new respect for her – I’m very glad I got to see this performance.

Clearly the relationship between Newman & Laurie is what I latched onto and what made the movie for me but there are of course some other important characters and, yes – plenty of pool. The two really worth mentioning are Jackie Gleason as “Minnesota Fats”, a brilliant pool-playing rival to Newman, and George C. Scott as an evil, greedy bastard. Seriously – what a dick. I wanted to punch him in the face. Therefore, I guess he played his role well!

Summary:

The Hustler is worthy of its status as a classic and it’s a great way to kick off my choice of 2017 Blind Spot films. I admit, however, that it did drag for me at times in a way that older movies often do for those who have mostly watched post-1970 movies (like me). I have zero interest whatsoever in pool and, while this movie is not actually about pool and more about human interaction, there’s still plenty of pool. Some will of course love the actual pool scenes but the final game of pool is the only one that really matters and the one that fully held my attention. The movie is a little slow-going at first but the phenomenal performances from all involved, especially from Newman & Laurie, make the second half of the film intense & gripping. The Hustler is well worth your time if you have an interest in old Hollywood classics.

My Rating: 8/10