Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2021

Bit late with this roundup. Busy month right now! Let’s see what I watched & read back in November…

MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):

Trees Lounge – Really liked this Steve Buscemi movie (which is on Pluto TV in the U.K., FYI). Confession: I have sort of a weird crush on Steve Buscemi. It was great seeing a younger Buscemi as the lead character in this 1996 film (which he also wrote & directed). I already reviewed it in full so I’ll just say it’s an indie movie very focused on the characters so you either like that sort of thing or you don’t. It’s also very “New York”, where it’s set, and I enjoyed the setting & these quirky aimless characters. Some big names in this too. Check out this cast (from Wikipedia): Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Boone Junior, Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Eszter Balint, Carol Kane, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Debi Mazar, Seymour Cassel, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Buscemi. 7.5/10

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – Also reviewed this one already. Was very happy to see this on BBC iPlayer as everyone absolutely raved about it when it came out. It’s a good film. I’m not, like, “OhmygodthisisthebestmovieEVER!!!!!” but the characters are strong & I was interested in what would happen with their relationship and they had really good chemistry together. And I preferred watching women on an island not being psychotic assholes, unlike those idiots in The Lighthouse. Glad I finally managed to see this one. – 7.5/10

tick, tick… BOOM! – I’ll be honest – I read about this movie and wasn’t going to bother even watching it as it’s just really not my sort of thing. I do like “theatre” but have seen very little of it. Well, I ended up really enjoying this one. Not in a “rewatch” sort of way as I can’t see needing to watch it more than once. But Jonathan Larson had a very interesting life & I liked his passion for the theatre and thought the movie very cleverly told his story through two lesser known musicals that he wrote before Rent. And as the film was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I’m sure he captured the theatre lifestyle so assume that theatre fans really like the film. Well, I ended up writing so much about this one that I posted a full review at the link. Glad I checked this one out. – 7.5/10

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – Reviewed this too & am so bored with reviewing MCU movies but was pleasantly surprised by this one. I liked that it felt a little different from other Marvel films as I sometimes feel like I’m watching the same movie over & over with those. This certainly wasn’t perfect but I enjoyed it & its look & especially its older characters. I’ve ranked it somewhere in the middle of all the MCU movies so far. – 7/10

Across The Tracks – Oh my god – How did I not know there was a movie in 1990 starring Ricky Schroder & Brad Pitt as brothers?!? Okay, I’m of the age where I grew up on Schroder in Silver Spoons then later had the hots for Pitt in Thelma & Louise. Wow – hard to believe these two movies are only a year apart (Thelma & Louise is obviously a far better film. Love it).

Not gonna lie, this very much felt like a TV movie but I’m assuming it wasn’t as there was swearing in it. Swearing & sex are big no-nos on American television – America promotes only violence! It felt like a “good” TV movie, though. The acting was perfectly acceptable for this sort of thing in 1990. Why is this review sounding negative?! I enjoyed this but I don’t know if it’s a case of liking it because it’s one I missed as a teen & it stars two actors I liked then. Probably! But I’m always super happy to find something from the ’80s & very early ’90s that I missed out on as it feels like I watched everything I could at that time. Last one like that was when I watched Thrashin’ in August, which I’ve grown to like even more and honestly don’t know how the heck I missed out on that one. That was pure ’80s goodness! Across The Tracks is a decent enough story even though it does come across a bit “After School Special” (remember those, fellow Gen Xers???). It was exactly the sort of thing I was expecting but, hey, that’s fine. I got to see Ricky Schroder & Brad Pitt as brothers!

Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Joe Maloney (Brad Pitt) is a straight A student vying for an athletic scholarship to Stanford. He lives with his mother (Carrie Snodgress) in a trailer park in Gardena, CA. His well laid plans for the future are thrown into turmoil when his troubled younger brother Billy (Rick Schroder) is released from Juvenile Detention following his arrest for stealing a car and comes to live with them back home.”6.5/10

Oxygen – Been wanting to watch this as I love sci-fi & really like Mélanie Laurent plus I liked the concept of a person being trapped in a “cryogenic unit” with their oxygen running out. I’m also always intrigued to see if they can make a film interesting when it’s set in just one location, especially a location as small as in this one, and I think they definitely managed to do that. Other than that, I can’t say too much more as it would spoil the whole plot (although anyone interested has probably seen this by now). I have to say that I mostly find Netflix movies very disappointing but I’ve really enjoyed some of the sci-fi stuff, like this & I Am Mother. I like a good story idea, especially in this genre, and I think this somewhat simple idea worked really well. But I also think you’d have to be a sci-fi fan to really enjoy this one as it’s not exactly mainstream cinema release material. – 6.5/10

The Guilty – I liked this, considering I’m not a crime drama person. But after watching it I noticed a movie with the same name somewhere & a very similar poster and… Damn! I watched an American remake of a foreign film that was probably better! I’d have watched that instead. Well, I thought this one had a pretty good story (with a twist) so I enjoyed it anyway despite not being big on Gyllenhaal the scarf stealer (apparently – I’m not up on Taylor Swift’s old love life or whatever that was all about on Twitter). Like Oxygen, this movie also did a good job of being set in one place (did it ever show outside of the emergency call centre? Can’t remember now but don’t think so). It’s about a cop who’s in trouble for something (we don’t know what) and he’s been made to take 911 emergency calls while awaiting his trial for that something. He tries to help a woman who calls & has apparently been kidnapped. I really liked that story that was fully played out over the phone. I’d recommend this but am wondering what the original is like now… – 6.5/10

Revenge (2017) – Caught this ultra-violent revenge horror flick on the Horror Channel. It’s one of those that Film Twitter went on about at the time so I’d been wanting to see it. It’s a decent enough revenge movie if you like that sort of thing (I do for the most part). Far too violent for my liking but I did enjoy watching this woman go on a rampage after her lover’s friend rapes her & then the three men all try to shut her up so she doesn’t tell anyone. She also had great earrings that looked really cool in all the images of the movie so it’s one of those where the movie poster helped sell the film. Oh, and I wanted to see how a female director would handle the awkward “rape revenge” subgenre that is usually nasty & exploitative. She handled it with lots & lots of blood! The rape scene itself was, I guess, filmed in a more respectful manner and didn’t linger on FOREVER like in nasty I Spit On Your Grave type shit so that was good but I can’t say this is a topic I ever like to watch. I just wanted the movie to get on with the revenge and it sure as shit did and I liked how over-the-top the ending was. Well, I can say I’ve watched this now but would have no need to ever watch it again. It’s certainly one for those who love violent horror. – 6.5/10

The Falling – I think I watched this in October but completely forgot to include it in that post. Ugh! I hate when that happens! I slipped on my obsessive list-making that month! Um, not sure how I felt about this strange little film. I liked it for the most part, especially at the start. Being set in an all girls school & having a slightly mysterious plot (a bunch of the girls at the school start fainting but no cause can be found) gave it a tiny bit of a Picnic At Hanging Rock vibe at first (although it’s not nearly as good as that eerie piece of filmmaking). I watched this as I found the mysterious fainting plot intriguing, which was also what another strange 2015 indie film called The Fits was about. I just reread my review of The Fits & see I compared that one to Picnic At Hanging Rock too – I think I’d like to watch Picnic again.

After watching Black Widow, I also wanted to see Florence Pugh in an early role as I’m still trying to figure out why so many movie fans her sort of age are so obsessed with her. Well, I have to admit she’s the best thing about this movie & really does shine here with that extra sort of quality that only some actors seem to have. I wouldn’t say I’ve felt that way about her in other things, although I did really like her in some roles such as in the surprisingly great Fighting With My Family. It was fun watching Maisie Williams in the lead role but, especially as I’ve just started reading A Game Of Thrones like some kind of crazy fucking maniac thinking I have time for that, I only EVER see her as Arya Stark in absolutely everything she’s in. Not really her fault, though, as I think it’s hard to fully break away from a really huge TV character on a massively popular show. She’s good in this as the best friend of Pugh & the one who starts off the fainting thing at the school after tragedy strikes.

Well, it was all going good until the, um…. Incident toward the end of the movie. WTF?! Trying to stay spoiler free here but EW! I’m starting to worry about how many movies, especially the “worthy drama” and often English films, throw that into the plot. Okay – I think this movie is about coming of age and how that’s such a scary & uncertain time for everyone. It explored that pretty well at the start. And this being an English movie there’s some typical English sexual repression in it and young women starting to explore their sexuality. But don’t explore it in THAT way, Arya Stark! This isn’t Game Of Thrones!

Well. Whatever. This movie was actually pretty decent up until that part so I’m still giving it an okay rating. But I’ve removed half a point for that bit of ickiness. – 6/10

Passing – This was fine. It’s one of those I hate reviewing as I don’t have much to say about it. I can talk for ages about movies I love or especially about ones I absolutely hate! But the MEH ones are difficult. The best thing about it was the performances & Ruth Negga and especially Tessa Thompson were both very good. But for a truly interesting plot, it somehow managed to be quite boring. Up until the sort of shocking ending, that is, which I thought was really well done. Or maybe I was just glad that something finally happened in this movie. There was so much they could have explored with this idea but didn’t & it ended up being more about two jealous women. But maybe the whole point of it was to be very understated? I don’t know – it’s certainly not a bad film and I was intrigued by the plot synopsis. I wonder if the book it’s based on goes deeper into the issues that don’t get explored in this fairly short film. – 6/10

Ammonite – This was a bland one too. More bland than Passing! Other than the kinky sex. Kate Winslet & Saoirse Ronan spend the movie moping around a typically cold-looking, grey, windy & depressing English seaside then eventually have a couple of raunchy sex scenes together. Winslet’s character is especially grumpy & unlikeable. Okay, I get it. I’ve lived in England for 20 years now & the weather has turned me into a grumpy old hag too. But cheer the fuck up, Winslet’s character! (Yeah, I’m too lazy to look up character names). I think the problem here is that these two characters had no chemistry whatsoever. Were they meant to be in love or something?? Didn’t seem like it. They just seemed horny. Just watch Portrait Of A Lady On Fire instead if you want a female love story with more likeable characters. I should probably give this a lower rating based on my negativity but it’s a Kate Winslet movie so I suppose it’s worthy & shit. – 6/10

Where The Truth Lies – Meh! I had a pretty shitty month for movies for the most part. I desperately need access to the weird & obscure sort of movies I actually want to watch so I stop wasting my time on whatever shit is available on boring streaming services (this was, I think, on Roku if you’re interested in lots of sex & a murder).

Okay, this wasn’t awful so I’m taking my anger out on the wrong movie. It’s just one I’ll forget in a year. I watched it as I loved a movie called White Oleander starring Alison Lohman & I’ve tried to watch her in other films since because of that. She’s an odd one… She’s decent in some movies but not so much in the slightly bad movies. I wouldn’t exactly say this is a bad movie (just a little trashy while trying too hard to be sexy) but she feels very miscast. I think it doesn’t help that she’s someone who always looks & seems much younger than she actually is, which worked perfectly for her role in Matchstick Men. But as this is a steamy sex murder mystery, it felt creepy here when she got it on with the older Kevin Bacon and when Colin Firth watched her get it on with a girl. Although a 20 year age difference is standard in Hollywood (with the woman being the young one, of course!). I still enjoyed seeing her in another movie, though, and am glad she didn’t get dragged to Hell at the end of this.

If you like old-school trashy-sex murder mysteries, which is what this was going for, you might like this. But it’s not the sexy noir thing I think it wants to be. The murder mystery itself was decent, though, and I liked the resolution okay and finding out more about the victim. I’ve talked myself into liking this trashy movie a little bit! It’s not great, though. – 6/10

Vivo – This started out so good then kind of turned to shit. What a shame. I really liked the start with the old guy and the cute monkey and the sweet love story & wanted to see this nice old man deliver his love song to the woman he’d secretly loved for years. Nice little heartwarming story.

Then the annoying young girl showed up. Even my preteen went “this is gonna turn bad now, isn’t it“. Then the annoying girl sang the most annoying “trying to be cool & modern” song (although kind of catchy since that stupid “dance to the beat of my own DRUM!” song got stuck in my damn head) & the kid went “yep, it’s turned bad“. And the girl was annoying but the other young girls in it were even more annoying & I just really hate annoying brats in movies. I wanted to see more of the love story I thought we’d get at the beginning.

Oh, and the monkey was cute but he also talked and I think only we the audience could understand him while the humans in the movie heard monkey noises. But then he said certain things & the humans replied and I was like “But you can’t f*^king understand him!” but, who knows, maybe I’m wrong but it felt like they weren’t following the proper animated talking-monkey rules! And, shit, it wasn’t actually a monkey because I’ve just looked up what they kept calling him (which sounded like Pikachu) but it’s actually a kinkajou which you can read about HERE at Wikipedia and holy shit why am I researching this?! Aww. They’re cute! Well, I liked the cute not-monkey thing but I liked him more when he was making squeaky animal noises than when he was talking & singing with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s voice. And then they ended the movie with that annoying song again! “Dance to the beat of my own DRUM!” Argh! It’s in my head again!! – 5.5/10

Chained For Life – Um. I watched this movie on Film 4 because it looked weird & I like weird. And it was. So… Result, I guess! I also quite liked the movie Teeth that this actress, Jess Weixler, was also in. If you don’t know, that movie was about a girl with teeth in her vagina. Just so you have an idea of the sort of movies she likes to be in, I guess.

I don’t have a clue what to say about this movie. It’s not a bad movie & I liked again seeing something truly different but I’m not sure what point the movie was trying to make (if there was one). I thought it would be about beauty standards or something but then the story got very confusing & I didn’t know what the heck was actually going on for a while (I think that part was a dream or fantasy). But I appreciate the effort the filmmakers put into the truly strange films such as this one. Was hoping this would be more enjoyable, though. When it comes to the truly weird stuff that I’ve watched this year, Butt Boy & Rent-A-Pal were both more entertaining. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched In November:

Con Air – Had the sudden urge to rewatch this one when it got added to Disney Plus. I’d watched it a good few times just after it came out in 1997 but not seen it since. Man, this movie is still completely & utterly ridiculous and still ridiculously fun. Remember when dumb action movies were fun?!?! Why do we get so few of these dumbass action flicks that are actually entertaining nowadays?? We mostly get just plain dumb ones now. So, yeah, I really enjoyed rewatching the Nicolas Cage movie named after an American hairdryer more than watching most of the much more “worthy” stuff I’ve watched recently. Cage plays it really straight for a change while everyone else is a crazy bastard instead, including my beloved Steve Buscemi. Buscemi is, obviously, my favorite character in this and you gotta love how they went “let’s make the audience like the psycho serial killer!” and it actually worked & we all went “Yay, Buscemi!” at the end which is really kind of fucked up. Stupid film. I kind of love it. – 7.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous In November:

The Beatles: Get Back – Enjoyed this admittedly very long documentary but, hey, you gotta treat it like a mini-series. I do find it funny when people complain about the length of some movies but then will binge three entire seasons of some TV show in one weekend. With this, though, I’d say you absolutely must be a pretty big fan of The Beatles to watch it. If you aren’t, I’d most definitely not recommend it. It’s not for casual movie-watchers – it’s for hardcore Beatles fans. And I don’t think it’s one you need to see from a filmmaking side of things, although I’m sure what Peter Jackson has done is impressive as he had way more footage than just the almost 8 hours that we saw in this. This is one to watch to get to know a little more about the personalities of four of the most famous musicians of all time & see how they went about creating their amazing music.

I don’t talk about music that often on this blog as I try to focus on movies but music is a huge love of mine too. So you’d think I’d love a music documentary but I’ve watched very few. As much as I love movies, I really have to force myself to watch documentaries. I’ve just never been obsessed with my favorite musicians (as people, I mean). I’ll listen to their music over & over & over to the point where the hubby yells at me for listening to all the same stuff but I’ll rarely read about my favorite bands or watch a documentary about them (but I’ll watch some cheesy Hollywood movie about them instead). Same with actors, really – I just want to enjoy the art they create. I guess the point of my rambling is to say this: I’d say I’m a pretty big Beatles fan and they’d easily be one of my top five favorite bands (I did a Top Ten of their songs HERE) but I know next to nothing about them as people. This is even after two trips to Liverpool to do the whole Beatles tour experience there. I kind of don’t like knowing too much about famous people as I don’t want that to get in the way of me enjoying their art.

So that’s the type of person who sat down to watch The Beatles creating music for eight hours. It was an interesting insight into their music making process but, weirdly, I didn’t come away from it feeling like I knew these four musicians much more than I did beforehand anyway. John was more fun & silly than I was expecting (but maybe that’s just how he was at that point in his life). Paul was the one to really take charge, which I kind of expected, but they still all seemed to get along well even though you could tell things were a little strained. Hell, George even quit the band toward the start of this but even that was all with the least amount of drama EVER. I’m sure they had plenty of drama behind the scenes but they don’t come across like the big whiny divas so many famous people are nowadays. And it seems everyone came away from this liking Ringo even more, which is cool as he gets the least love I think. He’s by far the most laid back & easygoing one in this documentary. And, okay, I’m sure there was drama with Yoko that we didn’t see but we certainly didn’t see it in this 8 hour documentary either and she was in it constantly. She just sat there quietly making no fuss. As I say, though, I know next to nothing about The Beatles so I’m sure there was plenty of drama & backstabbing but I’d rather just not know about that & just sing along badly to Eleanor Rigby in the shower without thinking “They were kind of mean to George, dammit, and why did people hate Yoko”? It was still fascinating to watch them in this, though, and I’m sure the mega hardcore Beatles fans absolutely loved this. And it was funny seeing some of the people complaining about the music being played on the rooftop. Imagine complaining at being able to attend a free Beatles concert! – 8/10

The Princess Bride: Home Movie – Hadn’t watched this during lockdown as hadn’t really looked into what it actually was & was thinking “What are these idiot celebs doing to my beloved Princess Bride?!”. But all they did was recreate it scene by scene alone in their homes during lockdown with whatever silly supplies they had available & it was really very sweet & quite fun! Didn’t know several of the, I assume American TV?, stars but there were also some very big names. The highlights for me were Adam Sandler, Jack Black & the always adorable Paul Rudd. Was also fun seeing a few celebs performing together if they live in the same household, such as Sam Rockwell & Leslie Bibb, and some who had their kids join in. Oh! And a couple Princess Bride stars as well. And a very bittersweet moment with Rob & Carl Reiner. That was lovely. Glad we finally checked this one out as a family.

Olaf Presents: Not gonna lie – I was happy when I found out they’d be making some shorts with Olaf “explaining” the plot of some Disney movies as that was possibly the best bit of Frozen 2. I don’t even love Olaf all that much as he can be a little annoying at times but that bit was really funny & these shorts are a lot of fun. Like, they made me smile & giggle a lot. I’m a small child sometimes. The Little Mermaid, The Lion King & Tangled were the best ones. I want him to do them all!

Ciao Alberto – This short from Pixar’s worst movie was fine. But I’ve already pretty much forgotten it…

The Simpsons in Plusaversary – A bit cheesy – This was just an advertisement for Disney Plus showing the Simpsons with a bunch of Disney characters. Happy to (I think) see Bao included, though. I like that short.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Hawkeye: S1 E1-2 – Really enjoying this one, which is cool since Hawkeye is the most boring Avenger. Been looking forward to it as the daughter was already a Kate Bishop fan & had read comics with her in them. Hailee Steinfeld is really good as Bishop & the relationship with Hawkeye is fun & her one-eyed pizza dog is adorable. It’s making Hawkeye a far more interesting character as well as we’re obviously getting much more focus on him than in the films. Will see how I feel at the end but WandaVision is still my favorite. I also think Loki was better than Hawkeye but think I’m sort of enjoying Hawkeye more than Loki. The Falcon And The Winter Soldier will remain dead last as I found it so damn boring that I didn’t even bother finishing the series. Hawkeye is far more entertaining.

Alice In Borderland: S1 E6-8 – Damn, this show really took a shit at the end. Watched it after absolutely loving Squid Game but, FYI if you’ve watched neither, Squid Game is the one you should check out. Alice started out pretty good with these three twentysomething friends suddenly finding themselves alone in their big Japanese city & then being made to play dangerous deadly games with the small number of other people apparently still left in existence.

The first few episodes or so focused on the games, which were pretty good so I was enjoying the show at first. But they did a terrible job with character development so I wasn’t exactly feeling attached to anyone as they got killed off, unlike in Squid Game which broke all our hearts. Then the final episodes ended up being set with a new group of people and some big “baddies” & that’s when it turned to shit. Not that there’s anything wrong with young people but the show became completely aimed at younger people while all the players apparently became twentysomethings wanting to just party in their swimsuits in between being made to play the games. I swear there were some older players at first?

And then they’d give you a small backstory on some random character you’d then know might possibly die & I didn’t see the point of focusing on characters no one gives a shit about. The show also doesn’t give a satisfying conclusion as they obviously just wanted to continue onto a new season, unlike Squid Game which managed to be a fantastic standalone season while still keeping things open for a new season. It was just really frustrating as the show started out promising. I’ll probably still watch season two in the hopes that it’ll explain WTF is going on but I’m giving up if they try to make us suffer through a third season.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E1-3 – What can I say? Grey’s Anatomy is still being totally Grey’s Anatomy 18 seasons later. At least I think the show is becoming a little less “dramatic”. It’s about time these people mellow out – they’re old now! But it also means it’s getting a bit too boring.

BOOKS READ

The Eyes Of Darkness by Dean Koontz – Ah, my beloved Dean Koontz. I grab a Koontz book whenever I need a quick & easy read from my favorite genre: supernatural horror. That sounds rude… He really is Stephen King-lite, though. And I found this for, like, 50 pence at a charity shop & it’s one I somehow miraculously never read!!! (I’ve read many, which I attempted to fully rank HERE).

Here’s the weird thing with this one & it’s spoiler-y: It’s been brought up recently because people went “Oh my god, Koontz predicted Covid in this!“. So I read this 1981 book about a man-made virus & was thinking “That’s pushing it a bit“. Okay, mystery solved – I was thoroughly confused as Wuhan was not mentioned in my edition. From Wikipedia:

The novel mentions a bioweapon that in earlier editions is named Gorki-400 after the Soviet city of Gorki in which it was created. Due to the end of the Cold War, the origin of the bioweapon was changed to the Chinese city of Wuhan and it was renamed Wuhan-400 for the 1989 edition onward, prompting speculation from some in early 2020 that Koontz had somehow predicted coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Anyway, sorry for the spoiler as you have no idea what is going on at first. It starts with a woman whose only son died in an accident about a year ago but then she starts having strange supernatural things happen that she begins to realise are messages from her supposedly dead son. That’s totally my type of thing but the story started out stronger than it ended up. The ending also felt very rushed. I still enjoyed it, though, as I do most Koontz books. It will just be one of those that I probably won’t remember years from now and I’ll think “Did I read that one?“, which seems to happen with a lot of his novels. – 2.5/5

I’m currently reading A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One – A Game of Thrones because I’m clearly fucking insane. As if I have enough time in my life to be delving into these tomes…! Well, don’t expect a review anytime soon as I am sure each book will take me a good few months minimum to read.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Thanks to not going to the cinemas because of the pandemic but also being totally broke, I’ve missed out on LOADS of 2021 movies. 😦 So my plan is to watch as much 2021 stuff as I can get hold of very cheaply or via my services & just post my 2021 Top Ten lists a little late this year (hopefully by mid-January). Several are on services I have but those are the films I have the least interest in seeing (I’ve not listed those). Below is the list I made of what I’ve missed as I obviously want to catch them as soon as I can…

2021 Movies I Want To See:

These are the UK 2021 releases that I missed (or will miss) that I’m the most desperate to see (ranked in order of how much I want to see them because you know I love to rank things):

1. The Amusement Park (want to see this SO bad)
2. Pig (DVD was really cheap so just bought this!)
3. Last Night In Soho
4. Malignant
5. West Side Story
6. A Quiet Place Part II
7. Spider-Man: No Way Home
8. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
9. Encanto
10. The Matrix Resurrections
11. Old
12. The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It

Well, I want to see the above the most but really want to see all of these as well (still ranked in order, because I’m pathetic):

Coda, The Suicide Squad, The Forever Purge, The Father, In The Heights, Spencer, Another Round, Mass, I’m Your Man, Finch, Antlers, Ron’s Gone Wrong, Petite Maman, Psycho Goreman, Black Bear, Censor, The Sparks Brothers, Halloween Kills, Eternals, Titane

Any recommendations? What are the best 2021 movies that I’ve missed?

I feel like I better end this with The Beatles doing Get Back during that rooftop concert (even though I must admit that Get Back has never been a favorite song of mine – I’m mostly a Rubber Soul/ Revolver era fan):

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019) Review

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019)

Directed & Written by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino

Narrated by Kurt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is set in 1969 Los Angeles, where an aging television actor and his stunt double and longtime friend navigate the changing Hollywood film industry.

My Opinion:

I never got around to reviewing this as I saw it a few weeks ago while on vacation in America. It’s a very good film. Yes, it’s probably one of Tarantino’s best films overall. I can’t say I loved it, though. In fact, I was a tiny bit bored and very much felt its 2 hour and 41 minute running time. But I’ll be honest: I was a little bit on edge the entire time, which probably didn’t help my enjoyment.

It was great being back in America for the first time in over a decade. I was in a super comfy reclining seat, which seems to be more of a “standard” thing than in the U.K., and I was thoroughly enjoying the superior (and, holy shit, one free refillable!) American popcorn. However, the main things running through my mind for almost three hours were “I wonder how many people in here have guns on them” and “There will be more guns in this showing than in other movies since we’re watching a violent Tarantino film” and “I’m the closest one to the door so very likely to be the first one shot if someone comes in and starts shooting“. Is this what daily life is like for everyone living in America now?

Don’t worry – I am NOT about to get into any sort of political discussion. That’s not me. I just want to joke around & chat with people on my blog about my nerdy love of movies. It just made me long for a more simple time as I do have some great memories of growing up in America and will always see it as my home. Which brings me back to the actual topic: I did appreciate Tarantino’s obvious love for the era of Hollywood depicted in this film. The nostalgia he feels for it really does show through and I could relate to that feeling as I sat there, in the country I spent the first half of my life in, feeling nostalgic about how things used to be and knowing they’ll never be that way again. Also, who wouldn’t like to rewrite some of their own personal history, right? I’d like to write some happier endings to a few things from my past.

I think this may be one of my reviews where I decide by the end of the review that I liked the movie more than I realized… This is why I keep this blog going even though I don’t think anyone reads it anymore: I’m sometimes able to sort my thoughts out on something as I write about it. Yes, I think Tarantino did a good job evoking the mood of that late sixties going into early seventies movie star & movie making world. As a lover of film, I always enjoy movies about filmmaking & that lifestyle. And what I was afraid would be the “central event” of the film but thankfully wasn’t (I won’t use the person’s or the “family’s” name), I guess maybe to Tarantino that event symbolized the loss of innocence and a more simple time in not only the types of movies being made but also in what it was like to live in America. So I’m starting to understand his “rewriting of history” in some films. It’s fun to think that, if we could erase certain events from history, maybe the world would be a different & better place. That’s the whole point of movies for me personally. I like the escapism and Tarantino clearly does too. His escapism just involves waaaaaaaaaay more violence than mine would!!

Okay, I’m now deciding that I liked this movie more than I realized. Although I was clearly a bit distracted while watching it, my experience was probably quite unique since I was in the position to be feeling the same sense of personal nostalgia that Tarantino was trying to convey in this film about a time he clearly misses as well. My main issue with the film is that the overall story is weak. The dialogue also isn’t as strong as in Tarantino’s other films in order to make up for the lack of story and the movie seriously drags in places, especially at the beginning (I kind of forgot that Al Pacino was even in this – I had a very hard time getting into the movie at first but I was busy scanning the audience for guns).

However, I think my old Brad Pitt crush has been renewed. Pitt is brilliant in this and the true star of the film. Don’t get me wrong – Leonardo DiCaprio & Margot Robbie were also fantastic. DiCaprio gives his usual best and has to do more serious “acting” than Pitt but we’ve seen Leo do this sort of role so often now. Leo is one of the finest actors of our time, yes, but Pitt has the true charisma in this film. He embodies the old school “Hollywood star” vibe from the era that Tarantino is portraying, which is fun as he’s just the stunt double to Leo’s fading movie star character.

As for Margot Robbie, she’s thoroughly charming as Sharon Tate and, like Pitt, also very much has that old school “Hollywood star” vibe. It’s a fairly small role, however, which I think was the right move for this film despite people moaning about the “female role” being too small. What happened to Tate and the others was horrible and tragic and, thank god, is not the focus of this film. That story is a backdrop and not glorified or dwelled upon, which is why I think her scenes were kept more simple and less likely to be disrespectful in any way. Unlike the Bruce Lee scene, unfortunately – I can see why his portrayal upset his family and fans although I can also understand that this is an “alternate history” thing and I don’t think Tarantino meant to cause offense with that bit. Enough with women’s bare feet, though, Tarantino!! We get it. You like feet! Most people don’t. We don’t want to see feet. Please stop with the feet.

Okay, I’ve rambled on enough considering that I didn’t even know how I felt about this movie at first. I loved its mood and its setting and absolutely loved Brad Pitt. I enjoyed DiCaprio & Robbie. I hated the “family” (but I suppose that’s the point – I just could’ve done with less time being spent on them). I disliked the bare feet. The story dragged. It was too long. There were fun cameos (as usual). I really liked the ending, which I’d accidentally had spoiled beforehand and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I liked that this was less violent overall than Tarantino’s other films. To be honest, this is Tarantino’s most “feelgood” film and I liked that I was able to walk away from a Tarantino movie feeling a bit more uplifted and less stressed than I usually do after leaving his films. It’s funny that the only stress I felt this time was the real life environment around me but I’m happy to have experienced this movie in my home country, which gave me a more unique perspective. Hell, I don’t know… I think this movie is a bit all over the place and I’ve never felt quite so confused as to if I truly enjoyed a Tarantino film or not. Maybe it IS a damn masterpiece like so many are saying. There’s a messy sort of brilliance going on and I wouldn’t disagree with those who loved it even though I can’t say I feel the same way. However, I think it’s one that will age well and, over time, is likely to be more highly regarded than a lot of Tarantino’s other films.

My Rating: 7.5/10


**I’ve added Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood to my ranked list of films directed by Quentin Tarantino HERE. I really didn’t know where to put it and still might change my mind. I’m contemplating moving it up one space as it’s admittedly a much better film than Jackie Brown but, man, I love that damn soundtrack so much…

Also, I’m really busy at the moment and don’t know when I’ll get a chance to do my monthly movie roundup post. So, for now, here’s the ranked & rated list of all the movies I watched in August (six while on airplanes!). I’ll try to do at least mini reviews of these at some point but most were very disappointing anyway. I’ve starred the airplane movies (sad, I know – but it’s so I remember when I read this ten years from now). 🙂

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10
*Green Book – 7.5/10
Sorry To Bother You – 7/10
The Hate U Give – 7/10
*Bad Times At The El Royale – 6.5/10
Crawl – 6.5/10
*Instant Family – 6.5/10
*Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 6.5/10
*Mortal Engines – 5.5/10
*Eighth Grade – 5/10

True Romance (1993) Blind Spot Review

True Romance (1993)

Directed by Tony Scott

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken

Music by Hans Zimmer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Clarence marries hooker Alabama, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood, while the owners of the coke try to reclaim it.

My Opinion:

*This is my fourth Blind Spot review after An Education, Summer Wars & Natural Born Killers.

When choosing my Blind Spot movies for this year, True Romance was the first one I thought of as I’d been meaning to watch it for years but, for some reason, just never got around to it. I like Tarantino and love both Christian Slater & Patricia Arquette so I was really excited to finally make myself sit down & watch this. I ended up with two Blind Spot movies written by Quentin Tarantino as I also added Natural Born Killers as kind of an afterthought and wasn’t even really looking forward to watching that like I was with True Romance. However, I was very surprised to find that I was slightly disappointed with True Romance while I actually thought that Natural Born Killers was the much better film.

First of all, I’ll say that this movie has plenty of what Tarantino is good at: cool characters & fun dialogue. It also has another thing he’s sometimes good at: a messy plot. Normally, I don’t really mind that so much as long as everything else is good but I did find the messy story a little distracting with this one. I admit I watched this late at night & was very tired but did I miss whatever happened to Christopher Walken? It seemed like he was introduced & that he was important but then he just disappeared? I also thought the big finale felt a bit forced & silly. I wonder if the movie would be much different if it had actually been directed by Tarantino as well? This came out after Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (although I think it was written before?) but Reservoir Dogs is the much better film overall.

Don’t get me wrong, though – this movie is fun & I did enjoy it. It’s surprising I never watched it as I was totally in love with Christian Slater in those days thanks to Heathers, Pump Up The Volume & Untamed Heart (shut up – I adore Untamed Heart!). And he’s good in this but the true star is actually Patricia Arquette. I’ve really liked Arquette ever since A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors but have missed out on a lot of her movies (I recently did a top ten list of her movies HERE in which I kind of had to cheat to make it up to ten). I’ve never understood why she wasn’t in more movies so am glad she got recognized with an Oscar for her role in Boyhood. True Romance is surely her most defining role, though.

As with any Tarantino-related film, the cast they got together for this is super impressive. Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, and…. Balki from Perfect Strangers?!? Okay, Bronson Pinchot felt out of place (plus it’s a fairly big role compared to some other big names!). Shall we have a look at those with much smaller roles? Hmm. Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, James Gandolfini… so many well known names & faces in this! Although some weren’t as huge when this came out, I suppose. Such as Brad Pitt, who is adorable as a total stoner.

The two who really stand out in smaller roles, however, are Dennis Hopper (as Slater’s dad) & especially Gary Oldman (as Arquette’s evil pimp). I really miss Hopper – I always found him entertaining. He was loads of fun being a crazy bastard most of the time in things like Blue Velvet & Speed but I liked seeing him in a more straightforward role here & in a memorable scene with Walken.

I also like Gary Oldman (doesn’t everybody?) but, at the same time, I’ve never really noticed him all that much. He’s just one of those rare actors who is so different in every single role. For example, I love Jack Nicholson but always feel like I’m watching “Jack Nicholson” when I watch one of his movies. Oldman becomes the characters he plays and his role here, although far smaller than I thought it would be, is easily the most memorable thing about the whole film. I think James Franco clearly watched him in this before doing Spring Breakers. Oldman really deserves more recognition than he gets (but that’s probably because he’s so often unrecognizable!).

I suppose I was a bit tough on this film in my opening paragraph but, as is obvious from what I’ve spent the whole time talking about, the strong characters are what I assume make this film such a fan favorite. And it certainly feels like the films that Tarantino went on to direct himself due to the characters, the conversations, and of course the copious amounts of violence that I had to turn away from (one scene involving Arquette was a bit too intense for me). Shockingly, I found this more violent than the super violent (yet anti-violence) Natural Born Killers.

The thing that works the most, though, (for me at least) was the actual “romance”. I loved Slater & especially loved Arquette and wanted them to live happily ever after. These two had amazing chemistry in this! You just knew their characters had really hot sex. And, hey – they first meet in a movie theater & bond over a similar love of movies: that’s the perfect way to start a romance in this movie blogger’s opinion! Did they date in real life after making this like most stars do when they make films together? I have no idea but they should have. Hey – are they both single nowadays? I think they should hook up! Arquette totally should’ve married Slater instead of Nicolas Cage. Although I can’t blame her for marrying Thomas Jane. He’s a hottie.

Summary:

Well, I’ve said all I really need to say about this. True Romance is a really fun film thanks to Tarantino’s way of writing great characters & their interactions with one another but I was still a little disappointed that the story itself was weak. I also thought the scenes involving Elvis talking to Slater’s character didn’t really work & felt out of place. But I’d most definitely recommend this if you’re a fan of either Tarantino or Tony Scott or of the many big name stars in this movie. Like most of Scott’s films, this has a little bit of the gung-ho American action movie thing going on but it still mostly feels like a Tarantino movie (and it sure as hell is a lot more violent than Scott’s other work). I’m glad I finally watched this and the main things I’ll always remember are the fantastic performances from the likes of Arquette, Oldman and Hopper plus, of course, the romance itself. Slater & Arquette are perfect together.

My Rating: 7/10

The Big Short (2015) Review

The Big Short (2015)

Directed by Adam McKay

Based on The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Big Short is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film based on the non-fiction 2010 book of the same name by Michael Lewis about the financial crisis of 2007–2008, which was triggered by the build-up of the housing market and the credit bubble.

My Opinion:

Seriously? The Big Snore is up for the Best Picture Oscar?? No. Just… No. It’s not a bad film but it is pretty damn… Hmm. I don’t know! Pretentious? Up its own arse? Kind of like the Academy, I suppose.

This was the movie I was talking about in my review of Spotlight when I said that the Academy is out of touch with the general public. This feels like the kind of movie that they nominate because they feel like they should. I’m not saying that stuff like Trainwreck or Jurassic World should be up for Oscars or anything like that. The general public likes a load of shit! But can a film not be “worthy” AND also be entertaining? Too many Oscar nominees in the last ten years are, quite frankly, just plain boring to watch. And what happened to movies that are just beautiful pieces of art? I’d say The Revenant fits that description – it’s absolutely beautiful. Where the HELL am I going with this argument?! I have no idea!!! 😉 I mean, Mad Max: Fury Road is up for Best Picture and that movie kicks m*%#erf*%#ing ass so it invalidates my argument. Back to The Big Short

It probably doesn’t help that I was really disappointed at having to go to this movie since The Hateful Eight was sold out. However, it’s an Oscar nominee so I figured I’d at least appreciate it after making myself sit through it. Dammit – I can’t say that’s what happened.

The Big Short is not all bad and the story itself, although too complicated for us everyday idiots (as the movie constantly points out to us morons) is pretty damn fascinating. But, yes, you’re SO right BigShort-makers – I clearly am an idiot because all the talk of loans and numbers and banking did indeed make my eyes glaze over. Yes, I fully admit that I couldn’t follow any of that but I found the celebrity-cameo-fourth-wall-breaking childish explanations to be completely obnoxious. And they still made no damn sense of it all.

All the condescending breaking of the fourth wall aside, I did really like following some of the individual stories. This movie feels a bit messy as it focuses on so many different characters but I suppose it also gave me something to look forward to during the parts I didn’t care about so much.

My favorite parts by far involved Brad Pitt and the two young men his character worked with during this housing market loan bubble thingymabob gobbledegook. I thought Pitt was really good. Remember his very very early days when his acting was pretty dodgy? No, you’re all too young. Trust me – he’s now a very good actor compared to how he started out and he’s one of a handful of actors that may make me actually watch a movie I otherwise might have avoided.

I can’t stand Christian Bale (no reason – just can’t) and his character was in danger of being an annoying caricature but, by the end, his story was the one I enjoyed the most after the Pitt trio. But anytime Steve Carell or especially Ryan Gosling were on screen, I lost interest. They just didn’t work for me, especially Gosling’s arrogant whatever-the-hell kind of rich, straight, white, male scam artist he was.

The Big Short takes what could potentially be a rather boring story involving financial matters that it knows most of us won’t understand and manages to make a movie that is not only rather boring but also obnoxious by infusing humor that doesn’t quite work and by constantly reminding us that it’s smarter than its audience. But, if I’m not being so cynical, I suppose that’s the point the whole film is trying to make so it’s actually quite brilliant.

Basically, loads of Americans were lied to and sold the “American Dream” thing by big banks who ultimately f*%ed them over the way big money always does and the little guys all lost their homes while rich bankers got even richer. The rich bankers are smarter than us and the rich filmmakers are smarter than us. Okay, The Big Short, I guess I get the point you’re trying to make. Too bad I was too bored to care.

I’d watch a movie about this topic again as I do think it’s one hell of a crazy & scandalous story but I think I’d prefer to see it from the viewpoint of us everyday schmucks who always get screwed over. Or maybe in a slightly different style, at least. Financial shit is boring as hell but, hey, The Wolf Of Wall Street was FAR from boring. Maybe this would’ve been a better film if it had been made by Scorsese. Bonus points for Brad Pitt’s & Christian Bale’s characters, though – those bits help liven up what is otherwise a movie not really worthy of a Best Picture nomination.

My Rating: 5.5/10

** I went to Spotlight & The Big Short two Sundays ago on my own and, in between the two movies, I texted my husband. I just thought I’d share this as the predictive text really cracked me up. I’m easily amused… 😉 My texts are in blue:

Snatch (2000) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. She’s already reviewed The Godfather: Part I (HERE) and Part II (HERE) as well as The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE) and Big Fish (HERE). Thanks once again, Zoe – you’re doing way better on this project this year than I am! Wow! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about Snatch, IMDB rank 112 out of 250.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Yep yep, I am back to plague Miss Mutant here for her IMDB Top 250 Challenge. Definitely provided me with a whole lot of movies to go back to and watch again, though naturally some were enjoyed more than others. Nevertheless, Snatch is definitely a film I have been threatening to go back and watch again for years. I even went as far as to buy it and it has been languishing on my shelf ever since. When nobody selected it for this, I figured now was as good a time as any to get back to it.

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“Yes, London. You know: fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary fucking Poppins… LONDON.” Abraham “Cousin Avi” Denovitz

I am sure most of you have seen Snatch, right? Well, for those of you who haven’t, the best synopsis I could find was the following (pulled from Starpulse): “When a dizzying robbery takes place in the Orthodox Jewish diamond district, a flawless 86-carat gem, the size of an infant’s fist, is lifted in the snatch. Taking it to London, the diamond’s thief and courier, Franky Four Fingers arrives in the city as a stopover en route to New York to deliver the huge diamond to his bigwig crime boss, Avi. But because Franky can’t resist temptation and London is a town with its share of illegal trade, a small crowd of miscreants and malefactors eventually ends up chasing each other and the whereabouts of the diamond. These include: Doug the Head, a jeweller who pretends he’s Jewish because it’s good for business; Boris the Blade, a Russian gangster with a deserved reputation for being impossible to kill; Bullet Tooth Tony, a legendary hard guy and Brick Top, perhaps the scariest of the lot.”

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“I probably know a lot you don’t.” – Franky Four Fingers

Now that we have that out of the way, let us talk about the creation that Guy Ritchie put forth. To say that Snatch has a volume of characters as well as subplots all working their way back into the initial one is an understatement. So much is going on at any given moment that sometimes viewers may find themselves lost upon the way. But stick with it, it all comes together eventually. The cast was really good for what was done here, everyone suiting their character very well. I’m quite a Brad Pitt fan, and I must say his portrayal of Mickey was very funny, he was very entertaining. I also liked how he brought some dimension to the character other than just untrustworthy Pikey. He truly loved his mother, and his reaction to her brutal murder was intense, probably granting the movie its only serious scene, no way to laugh at it, which balanced things out nicely, though it would later give rise to humour again.

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“It’s an unlicensed boxing match. It’s not a tickling competition. These lads are out to hurt each other.” – Turkish

Jason Statham as Turkish and Stephen Graham as Tommy were just classic. Here were two guys that were just seriously not winning, no matter how hard they tried to get things to work for them. As bad as you think their luck is (and truly, it just gets worse and worse), they are easily topped by Vinny (Robbie Gee), his partner Sol (Lennie James), and Tyrone (Ade), their driver. While Turkish and Tommy have crime boss Brick Top (Alan Ford) on their case, the latter trio has Russian gangster Boris the Blade (Rade Šerbedžija) on their tails to track down Franky “Four-Fingers” (Benicio del Toro) and get his briefcase. Boris, in turn, has Abraham “Cousin Avi” Denovitz (Dennis Farina) chasing him down. The diamond has everyone circling themselves, desperate to get it, though initially not everyone is aware of it.

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“You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity.”  – Bullet Tooth Tony

The humour works for this film, but I have a feeling a lot of what made this so smart and so witty back in the day may be lost to newer audiences, which is a pity, too, because it came together quite well. Be warned that the humour is rather British, too, and I liked that. The movie is fast, the dialogue snappy, and the events entertaining. Snatch is ultimately still a stylish flick, no matter which way you look at it. As much as I enjoyed this film again, it was not the best thing ever, and I didn’t love it as much as I did when I was younger, and I honestly feel there are far better films out there. If you haven’t checked out Snatch, I would still recommend it; you won’t be wasting your time.

Fight Club (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Eric of The IPC. He’s already done reviews for Se7en (HERE) & Twelve Monkeys (HERE) & There Will Be Blood (HERE). Thanks so much for all these reviews, Eric! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Fight Club, IMDB rank 10 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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**WARNING: SPOILERS. AND DONGS.**

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Inglourious Basterds (2009) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Josh of JJames Reviews. He’s already done a review of Apocalypse Now (which you can read HERE). Thanks so much for joining in, Josh! Now let’s see what he has to say about Inglourious Basterds, IMDB rank 113 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Written and Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Starring
Brad Pitt
Christoph Waltz
Melanie Laurent
Eli Roth
Michael Fassbender
Diane Kruger
Daniel Bruhl
Til Schweiger
Gedeon Burkhard
Jacky Ido
BJ Novak
Sylvester Groth
Martin Wuttke

Running Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

Plot Synopsis

In an alternate history mash up, two different groups of assassins plot the murders of important Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler (Martin Wuttke) and Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth). Meanwhile, Hitler, Goebbels and Nazi detective, Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) hunt The Basterds, a group of special forces assassins led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt).

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My Take

Inglorious Basterds bears Quentin Tarantino’s trademarks, mostly in good ways. Using at least three storylines and an episodic chapter structure, it is always fun and suspenseful. Soshanna Dreyfuss (Melanie Laurent), Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) take turns as the film’s protagonist, and each proves capable of carrying the movie, in no small part because all three of the actors are spectacular. Waltz won an Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, and it is easy to understand why, but his is not the only award-worthy performance. This might be Pitt’s best acting since 12 Monkeys (1995) and Laurent shines, as well, especially when she’s opposite Waltz or Daniel Bruhl (Frederick Zoller).

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Even still, the performances are not Inglorious Basterds’ greatest strength. Editing is. Tarantino and Oscar-nominated editor Sally Menke piece together the separate storylines sparklingly well, cutting away from each at exactly the right moments. Even more impressively, they time many takes and shots a heartbeat or two longer than we subconsciously expect, a decision that creates tension and heightens our anxiety. Consider the movie’s opening scene, when Landa arrives at Pierre LaPadite’s (Denis Menochet) home in search of hidden Jews. When the former first meets the latter’s daughters, he politely compliments their beauty, at which point Menke and Tarantino use a wide-angle shot from behind the young women, one that frames Landa’s face with the female’s bodies, thereby ensuring we see the intimidating glare the Colonel gives them. At that point, we expect Menke and Tarantino to cut away from the shot, probably to a close up of Landa, or perhaps LaPadite, but they don’t. Instead, they hold it an extra moment, just long enough to make us feel Landa’s threat. Later in the same scene, the Nazi is centered in the frame as he drinks a glass of milk. While he’s drinking it, we expect the director and editor to show us a reaction shot of LaPadite or one of his daughters. They don’t. Instead, they hold the shot of Landa until the milk is gone, a decision that once again increases our anxiety. Why? Because now we know that Landa can and will do anything he wants, that the LaPadite family is powerless to stop him, and that soon all of them might be dead.

Such brilliant editing continues throughout the movie. Menke lost the Oscar to The Hurt Locker, but she unquestionably deserved her nomination and would have been a fitting victor.

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Tarantino makes other standout directorial decisions. Inglorious Basterds is visually striking, and the sound design is very good. So too are all of the director’s casting decisions. Daniel Bruhl is excellent as the flirtatious but frightening Frederick Zoller, and Michael Fassbender is scene-stealingly good as British soldier Lt. Archie Hicox. Diane Kruger (Bridgit von Hammersmark), Jacky Ido (Marcel) and Sylvester Groth (Joseph Goebbels) all give memorable supporting performances, as well.

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With excellent acting, near impeccable direction and some standout technical elements, Inglorius Basterds has potential for perfection. Unfortunately, Tarantino’s screenplay is uneven. Yes his dialogue is witty and sometimes funny, as it is in everything he writes, but the way he tells this story fundamentally prevents emotional attachment to the characters, something that is all the more disappointing given each of the protagonists’ potential to be memorable. Shoshana is a tragic anti-hero if ever there was one. Raine could be, too. And Landa could be a complex opportunist, whom we never completely understand and therefore whose actions we cannot predict.

But instead, Tarantino chooses to gloss over his three lead characters, assigning each of them one or two traits, and never further developing them. Then, he introduces a bevy of minor characters, some of them historical figures and others not. He gives these secondary players as many traits as the leads, which guarantees that no one is well developed. That, in turn, means we do not care about any of the characters.

And so we do not extrapolate important life lessons from their experiences.

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Conclusion: Inglorious Basterds, then, is a prime example of style over substance. It is entertaining and darkly comedic, just as it is incredibly well made. But, thanks to underdeveloped characters, it is not thematically resonant. Though we can enjoy it, we are not inspired by it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Twelve Monkeys (1995) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Eric of The IPC. He’s already done a bonkers review of Se7en (which you can read HERE) and now he’s back to give us another review in typical Eric-style. 😉 Thanks so much for joining in on this IMDB thing, Eric! Now let’s see what he has to say about Twelve Monkeys, IMDB rank 180 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)

In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.

12 MONKEYS – 1995

We’ve all seen 12 MONKEYS, right? RIGHT??? RIGHT???!!!??? Well, since we’ve all seen it at least 30 times, I recently constructed a highly safe, comfortable, humane movie theater and screened it for twelve monkeys who hadn’t seen it. Using my high tech and professional recording devices, let’s see what they had to say.

Subject 1: Babboo Jones

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That was pretty good, Meester. That was made by Terry Gilliam?? The Monty Python guy?? Not bad, I need to see some more of his shit. Can I get my fucking bananas now???

Subject 2: Peepers “Stinky Butt” Brown

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They “live underground like worms?????” YIKES!! Also – LOL!!! “You are the most bootiful woman I have ever seen” HAHAHAHAHA!!! Even I can spell better than that I’m a shit eating monkey!!!!

Subject 3: Johnny “Stinkfinger” Harris

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Remember when Brad Pitt was cool?? Remember when he’d do character stuff like this?? Now he’s all ‘I’m fuckin’ Brad Pitt!! Look at my woman’s hair!!!” and shit. What a dope. OOOPS, sorry, just farted.

Subject 4: Daniel Isaacs (no relation)

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Time Travel, eh? Interesting. I like how it’s new for them and it’s not always correct. Hey – was that Arthur Dent?? The original one. From the TV show.

Subject 5: Raul Buena Vista De La Munoz

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What the fuck is that smell coming from the break room??? It smells like broccoli and SHIT. Excuse me for a minute.

Subject 6: Caitlynn “Like A Whisper” Simpson-Bonilla

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I like how we had to look at Bruce Willis’ butt. Not once but TWICE! MEEEEEEOOOOOW PUSSYCAT!!!

Subject 7: (name redacted)

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DID HE JUST EAT A FUCKING SPIDER??!?!!!??????!!!!

Subject 8: Lisa “The Angel” Scheueczk

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I really liked how it ended with the ki – DID I JUST HEAR A GUNSHOT?????!?!

(audible screams from outside screening room)

I have blood on my hands…. I HAVE BLOOD ON MY HANDS!!!!!!

Subject 9: Phillip “The Distance” Fudge (that’s really his last name)

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“The boy is hiding in a barn” CLASSIC!!

Subject 10: Jeffrey “Bleeding Gums” Johnson

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This is a total Sci-Fi classic – all the way! Great acting and story telling! I’m VERY hungry. VERY.

Subject 11: Jimmy “The Schnozz” Durante

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Where’s the fucking food??? HA CHA CHA CHA CHA CHA.

NOTE: At this point the subjects were becoming unruly due to lack of feeding. The Alpha soon took charge.

Subject 12: BRIAN @ HARD TICKET TO HOME VIDEO

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EAT SHIT ISAACS!!! HERE COMES A KNUCKLE BALL!!!! (flings a handful of fresh poop)

And with that, the session ended and I was left with quite a mess to clean up.

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**Terry Gilliam has called 12 Monkeys “part of a dystopian satire trilogy or Orwellian triptych” begun with Brazil and ending with The Zero Theorem. Without meaning to, I guess Eric & I have recently reviewed this “trilogy”. You can read his review of Brazil HERE and my review of The Zero Theorem HERE.

Se7en (1995) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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For today’s IMDB Top 250 guest review, we have the very tall, boob-loving Eric of The IPC. Eric is awesome and his blog is scarily funny (or funnily scary? funnily is such a weird word. say it ten times fast! weird). Anyway! I’m very annoyed that I will now have a Gwyneth Paltrow image on my blog. Luckily (funnily?), Brad Pitt makes up for that slightly. I also hate films that try to be all clever and put a number in the middle of the word. It’s Seven, dammit! But I digress… Go visit The IPC if you haven’t already – there’s always a party going on there! With lots of beer. 🙂

Warning if you’ve not seen Se7en – Eric’s review is SPOILERIFIC from the start!

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Now let’s hear Eric’s in-depth analysis of David Fincher’s Se7en, IMDB rank 23 out of 250

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SE7EN… who hasn’t seen this movie?? I mean, I suppose some people haven’t but – why?? This movie is excellent. Totally. It is a little gruesome, I suppose but we can grab ourselves by the nuts and tough it out. I guess – if you haven’t seen it, it’s a balls out gritty take on the seven deadly sins with Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and an excellente Kevin Spacey. Oh – and I’ll go on record and say Gwynneth Paltrow is hot. If, for some reason, you haven’t seen this, there’s going to be a big time spoiler down below so… in any case – this movie is awesome and the big finale finds Pitt getting a postal delivery out in the desert. Morgan Freeman is nearby and figures out what the delivery is and he screams “DON’T OPEN THE BOX!!!! JOHN DOE HAS THE UPPER HAND!!!” and Pitt famously whines ” WHAT’S IN THE BOXXXXXXXXXX??” So – what’s in the box??

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About ten years ago the company I work for merged with another company and I had to fly all over the country going to meetings about this and that and do fucking work 15 hours a day and it was a real drag but I made a couple of friends and etc. etc. One of these guys was a real wise-ass and we had some yucks and some beers and one day I decided I would send him a gift for his birthday. I don’t know about the dudes who read Cinema Parrot Disco but guys I know (including myself) ten to wear their underwear until the backside is riddled with holes and the front is just a couple pieces of thread that barely covers their dingaling.

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So I took one of these underwears and poured a can of chili in it and put it in a box out in my garage in the 120 degree heat for a few weeks one August and then I put on a hazmat suit and wrapped the stinking thing in tin foil, sealed it up and sent it to him. When he got it he started texting me “What’s in the box???” and I was all “You’ll love it” and he opened it (with his son, poor kid) and didn’t exactly love it but – is that what’s in Brad Pitt’s box???? Not exactly.

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Is it David Fincher’s fucking balls??? What happened to the guy that did SE7EN and FIGHT CLUB??? I’ll give him PANIC ROOM and maybe even BENJAMIN BUTTON but what the fuck with THE SOCIAL NETWORK and the miserable DRAGON TATTOO remake?? PISS, FART, POOP. Let’s go Fincher – let’s get your shit together. Come back to us!! So – is it Fincher’s stones in Pitt’s box? Nope.

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In a burst of cinematic brilliance, the big reveal is that John Doe has fulfilled that last of the seven sins – Envy – by cutting off Pitt’s wife’s (Paltrow’s) head and sent it to him in a fucking box!! WHO SAW THAT COMING???? NO ONE, that’s who!!! What a fucking deal that was!!! AMAZING!!! Come on Finchy!! Let’s get back to it!!! Here’s some cookies. Oh well – there you go – WOO HOO!!! SE7EN!!!

World War Z (2013) Review

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World War Z

Directed by Marc Forster

Produced by:
Brad Pitt
Dede Gardner
Jeremy Kleiner
Ian Bryce

Based on World War Z by Max Brooks (Supposedly. Like… Extremely LOOSELY based on! Lol.)

Starring:
Brad Pitt
Mireille Enos
Daniella Kertesz
James Badge Dale
Fana Mokoena
Ludi Boeken
Matthew Fox
David Morse
Elyes Gabel

Plot Synopsis:

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former employee of the United Nations, is called upon to leave his family & travel the globe in search of the cause of a worldwide zombie pandemic and in the hope of finding a cure.

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My Opinion:

So, okay – I read World War Z by Max Brooks (son of Mel!). I LOVED it – I thought it was one of the best books I’d read in years. Then I heard they’d be making it into a movie and I’m usually happy about that – although I rarely like the movies as much as the books, I still enjoy seeing how they adapt them. After all kinds of known problems while trying to make this movie, we finally got to see the first proper trailer. And, like everyone else who read the book, I was like “what the HELL is that?!”. Lol. I don’t need to say more – I think everyone knows by now that, aside from the title, the book and the movie have VERY little in common. So let’s move on…

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Knowing this was NOT going to be the World War Z I know, I went to this with fairly low expectations and also went to it knowing it was going to be more of a serious “nationwide pandemic” film than some kind of Romero zombie movie. This is more I Am Legend or even Contagion than Night Of The Living Dead. And that’s fine – I ended up enjoying it more than I had expected. Not that the book was a full-on zombie thing anyway – it’s more like a book on war… (Sorry – not going there! I won’t mention the book again). 😉

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Apocalyptic Movies of any sort are always my type of thing. Don’t know why… And World War Z is a decent enough example of this type of film. We got to see the human side of things through seeing Brad Pitt’s character have to leave his wife and two daughters behind as he travels to try to discover the cause & a cure. We briefly meet some soldiers that we get to know a little bit about – this was one of the better parts of the film (and a small part of this was in the book!!). And Brad helps a female soldier in Israel played by Daniella Kertesz. She’s probably one of the best characters in this and she wasn’t even listed when I looked up the actors’ names on Wikipedia! We meet quite a few characters as Brad travels the globe and I enjoyed that and actually wished they’d been able to spend a little more time with some of these characters.

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As for the action & “gore” – well, there IS no gore. Honestly. Never seen a zombie movie with pretty much NO blood whatsoever. But that’s fine by me. As I said, this isn’t some zombie horror movie – this is a human drama exploring the effects of a worldwide pandemic. And, aside from a few minor silly things, this movie does the “apocalyptic” thing so much better than a Roland Emmerich movie. Other than some CGI zombies piling on top of each other and looking a little silly, World War Z felt much more realistic than an Emmerich film ever has. And the action seemed just right – just enough but nothing too insane and over-the-top (hello Man Of Steel!).

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Summary:

If you go to World War Z with an open mind and expecting a human drama about a worldwide pandemic instead of a gory zombie horror movie, you may find that you actually enjoy it. It certainly has some problems and is far from perfect but it isn’t the total disaster we were all expecting after hearing about all the production problems and all the changes that were made. I’d have liked to see a bit more character development of some of the lesser characters but we meet them all too briefly to really achieve this. So, overall, I’d probably recommend this film. But I’d DEFINITELY recommend the brilliant book. You can do both – they’re completely different things…

My Rating: 7/10

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**I think a lot of people will have by now read about the original World War Z ending and how it was massively changed. If you’re interested, this is a very good article explaining the changes: The Playlist.

I hate the sound of this original ending! I have to say they made the right decision.

See if World War Z has made this list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies. 🙂