Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2021

Happy May! I watched way too many movies in April. I actually managed to review some, too! I’ll post the links to those & discuss the rest below. Here’s a quick list of everything I watched & read:

Promising Young Woman, Spontaneous, Swallow, Bloodsport, Battleship Potemkin, The Innocents (1961), Audition, Sound Of Metal, Cat People, House On Haunted Hill, Love And Monsters, Splinter, Palm Springs, Bad Girls, The Fundamentals Of Caring, Run, Teen Spirit, The House Of Tomorrow, Thunder Force, My Octopus Teacher, Pick Of The Litter, Tell Me Who I Am, The Sound Of Music, Cast Away, The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, An American Tail, Gregory’s Girl, Happy Gilmore, The Present, A Love Song for Latasha, Two Distant Strangers, Dollar Babies Stephen King Shorts & the book Roadwork by Stephen King

MOVIES WATCHED IN APRIL (ranked best to worst):

Promising Young Woman – I managed to review this in time for the Oscars. I really liked this one. Full review in the link. – 8/10

Spontaneous – Also reviewed in the link. I loved this movie! Darkly funny & deeply upsetting with great performances from its two leads. – 8/10

Swallow – Another one I reviewed. It’s very disturbing but also a very beautiful looking film. I liked this one quite a lot but would be reluctant to recommend it (it’s about a woman who swallows dangerous objects). Along with the two above this, I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched this year. Full review in the title link and one more image below to show the look of this movie. – 8/10

Bloodsport – Reviewed this as well because I had so much fun watching it and seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme doing painful looking splits through the whole thing. It’s a terrible movie but I tried to explain in my review why I’ve ranked it above things such as the next two movies, which are classics & obviously much better films. But this one was more fun! Here’s a picture of him doing those splits… – 7.5/10

Battleship Potemkin – Watched this for my IMDb Top 250 Project. Think I’d been avoiding this as I thought it was a war movie but was intrigued when I realised it was a silent film from 1925. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel’s officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Mutiny! I like a good mutiny! I’m so glad I gave this a go. It’s a fantastic film. It’s one of those old films that’s just as relevant today. It has police brutality & people fighting back against unfair treatment. It’s surprisingly brutal for the time and a powerful film. It also has the above scene which I assume inspired a similar scene in The Untouchables (another brilliant film). I recommend this one, which is still on U.K. Prime. It’s also very short, not that it should matter, but it was easy to squeeze in a 75 minute film. I should also point out that the movie is based on the real Potemkin battleship. According to Wikipedia (if you want to read more about it): “The Russian battleship Potemkin became famous when the crew rebelled against the officers in June 1905 (during that year’s revolution), which is now viewed as a first step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.” – 7.5/10

The Innocents (1961) – I’d been wanting to see this for years. It’s one of many adaptations of the famous 1898 story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve not read the story, although I really want to now, and I had somehow managed to completely avoid having it spoiled for me in all this time. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be about and I was way off!

This sort of story is so my kind of thing. I love supernatural and I love creepy and I especially love creepy kids (and they’re always extra creepy in old movies). Here’s the very simple IMDb synopsis: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.” I should say that I watched this live on Talking Pictures TV (U.K.). They have a really interesting selection of old films so I recommend checking out their schedule or following them on Twitter (thanks to the hubby for telling me about the channel!).

I don’t really know what to say about this one. For one thing, I want to stay spoiler free for anyone who’s interested in watching this. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a great film. It’s eerie, I loved the scary kids and not knowing what was going on, and Deborah Kerr was very good (that’s two movies I’ve seen her in this year, the other being the beautiful Black Narcissus). I want to read the story now as there’s some psychological stuff going on here and I’d like to see how it’s presented in the novella. This being an old British film, there’s some f*^ked up sexual repression going on here (old British films are the best at that). I think the story can be interpreted in different ways and I’m still thinking about the ending and its meaning. It’s probably why this story remains so popular and is still being adapted to this day (the latest being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor). I’d watch this one again as I missed some of it (the joy of having to watch live TV! First world problems, I know). – 7.5/10

Sound Of Metal – Also reviewed this in full at the link. Good film & performances. – 7/10

Cat People – I’m loving all the classics on BBC iPlayer, especially old classic horror like this & the one below as I shamefully haven’t explored pre-1970 horror much (besides Alfred Hitchcock). This is a great story & I suppose a bit saucy for its time (1942). Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland’s fables if they are intimate together.” I did actually see the 1982 Cat People with Nastassja Kinski years ago but don’t remember a thing now other than I think it was a lot more “sexy” (obviously). Anyway, the girl in this is great (actress Simone Simon playing Serbian immigrant Irena) and I enjoyed the story and there was some cool creepy stuff going on with a panther stalking people (IS it a panther or is it actually Irena? Hmm!). Guess I should watch the sequel, The Curse Of The Cat People, sometime soon. – 7/10

House On Haunted Hill – I have another shameful confession to make: I’m not sure if I’ve seen an old Vincent Price movie before? I may have many years ago but too long ago to remember now. Which is odd, as I loved scary & creepy stories from a young age (my two favorite TV shows as a kid were the Alfred Hitchcock TV show & The Twilight Zone). But I missed out on these sort of films on TV as a kid, I guess. Being my age, Vincent Price to me is the cool voice from Michael Jackson’s Thriller & the awesome inventor in Edward Scissorhands (adore that film). Anyway, to show my age even more, the main reason I’ve wanted to see this for years is because I knew it was the movie the horror-loving character in my favorite Amazing Stories episode was playing on his TV. That was called Go To The Head Of The Class, FYI, and it RULES. It’s a short horror comedy starring Christopher Lloyd & Mary Stuart Masterson (I reviewed it very briefly HERE). I always assumed I’d had the ending of this movie ruined for me but it turned out the scene they used in Amazing Stories wasn’t the ending (phew). It’s a fun story with a lot of twists and back stabbing and you don’t know who can be trusted & what’s going on. Good stuff. I’d happily take recommendations of other old horrors to watch (I’ve always been curious about Hammer Horror films as well…). – 7/10

Audition (オーディション & Ōdishon) – Well, this was fucked up. To be fair, I knew it was going to be fucked up (it’s why I’ve wanted to see it for years). So I grabbed the DVD a few months ago when I saw it very cheap. I’d say it didn’t quite live up to the hype after all this time but I suppose there’s been more “extreme” stuff since this one (I was surprised it’s a 1999 film as I thought it was a bit more recent). I mean, we’ve since had films like Oldboy which was much more shocking. I absolutely hated Oldboy, by the way – it took things way too far and I found it disgusting but I do realise that it was made for shock value. I wanted to see Audition as I love foreign films & especially love Japanese films and I always like a good horror.

I’d say the movie starts out quite well as we watch this widower go about living his life with his likeable teenage son until a friend of his has the idea to set up a fake movie audition so the widower can interview a bunch of unsuspecting young women to see if any could be a potential new wife. Of course they’re all half his age. I’m always uncomfortable with hints of sexual abuse involving children in movies and wasn’t surprised to find that be a part of this as there needs to be some sort of explanation for a woman ending up being a complete psycho in a film. But does there? Does that always have to be the damn reason? Can we not just be CRAZY for no good reason, dammit?!

Anyway. It’s a good movie & I can see why extreme horror lovers like it as, even though it starts out as a pretty straightforward film, it goes batshit crazy at the end. I do like movies that have a sudden shift like that. But I didn’t like the development of the woman’s character in this. Well, I didn’t feel her character was very developed at all. Why is she doing this, besides the sexual abuse she endured which the movie happily hinted at? For some reason I’d heard this was a feminist film but I’d say it’s the opposite? Plus, the main guy isn’t a bad guy – he’s just lonely since his wife’s death and it was his friend’s idea to set up the fake audition anyway. And god I was SO worried about their adorable dog the whole time.

This review is all over the place… I’m not really sure how I felt. As I said, I think it’s a good film (as in well made) so I’m giving it a decent rating. I did really like elements of it but was disappointed overall as it’s not as good as the hype made it out to be. I’ve not seen any other Takashi Miike films but would possibly watch another based on this. First Love is on Sky & I’m curious about that one. Anyone seen it? – 7/10

Love And Monsters – This was a lot of fun but I weirdly have very little to say about it. Don’t know why. It’s a fun idea and the main character is sweet & likeable and OH MY GOD I loved the cute dog in it and there’s a fun robot and I LOVE robots (and cute dogs!) and there are funny big monsters and there’s honestly nothing to not like about this one. It also feels very original, which I can say about very few films these days. It’s a fun family film (well, not for really young kids but fine for slightly older ones). But I didn’t quite connect with it when I thought I’d really love it. I liked it. It’s good. Maybe I just need to watch it again sometime… Cool Robot above, Cute Dog below! – 7/10

Splinter – Was recommended this one (thanks, Film Miasma!). Didn’t really know anything about it but think I may have avoided it at the time as the poster looked so nasty and I’m a wuss with really gross stuff. Well, it is pretty gross to be fair. But it’s kind of borderline body horror gross in that sort of fake-looking way that I like from old Cronenberg movies so I was fine with this. The characters are also strong, which is important to me (especially as horror movie characters are so often rubbish & hateful). We even have a baddie who ends up not being such a baddie after all & I liked that. And the girl is pretty kick ass. It’s also mostly set in one place while they’re trapped in a gas station by this weird, um, parasite thing and I’m always impressed with movies that manage to stay interesting in pretty much just one location. Here’s the IMDb synopsis if you’re interested: “Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still-living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.” – 6.5/10

Bad Girls – How did I never see a Drew Barrymore movie?! I watch all her movies! We grew up together. She’s my buddy! Mary Stuart Masterson is in this as well & I love her too so I immediately watched this when it showed up on Disney Star. I’m being very kind with my rating as this movie admittedly isn’t the greatest. But I liked having four female lead characters trying to escape evil men in the Old West. Drew is the sexy one & Madeline Stowe is the badass smart one & Andie MacDowell is the girly one and Mary Stuart Masterson is the nice one. And there are two nice guys but the rest are a bunch of rapists and of course the four women were all prostitutes since that’s all women were allowed to be in the Old West (according to movies, anyway – I don’t know if that’s true?!). Anyway, it’s a fun but dumb movie and of course a bit dated now. I wasn’t that thrilled at the ending (not the very end but just before that). I wanted them to get more revenge. – 6.5/10

Palm Springs – This is one of those movies that all of Film Twitter was going on about & saying it was one of the best films of 2020 & I was just completely underwhelmed when I finally saw it. It’s good but I’ve certainly seen better. It’s yet another take on the Groundhog Day idea of living the same day over & over again. Which is fine as, actually, some of the movies using this idea have been quite good. Edge Of Tomorrow is great. Another movie, called The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, just came out this year & was far more enjoyable than Palm Springs (in my opinion). Hell, I think I even enjoyed Before I Fall more and that was pretty cheesy. Then of course there’s Happy Death Day & its sequel which are fun but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (my hubby hated those). Palm Springs is probably a bit better than those two but I just found the two lead characters stuck in this “same day” to be too self-absorbed & unlikeable. I didn’t really give a shit if they would ever escape their predicament as I didn’t care about them. The best thing about the movie was J.K. Simmons & I ended up caring much more about his character. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too picky lately. The movie is fun and still manages to have (yet another) fairly unique twist on this same idea. Watch it if you like Andy Samberg, I guess (maybe I don’t). – 6.5/10

The Fundamentals Of Caring – This was fine. One of those fun “buddy” road trip movies that’s perfectly pleasant to watch but you’ll probably forget all about it in a year. Who doesn’t love Paul Rudd, though? He’s adorable. He’s hired to be the caregiver for the character played by Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez joins them on their journey to go see a big cow. Or something like that. See? I’ve already forgotten. – 6.5/10

Run – This one was “fine” as well. Man I’m bored with movies that are just “okay”! But I do love a good ’90s-style thriller and do love a CRAZY MOM (Margaret White is the best!). So I did enjoy this movie despite it not being very good. Actually, I should move it up a couple places as I probably enjoyed it more than the previous two movies but, nah, I’m too lazy and it doesn’t deserve it anyway. The young girl, Kiera Allen, was good but Sarah Paulson was a bit silly. I liked the story and the couple of twists at the end were fun. Okay, I’ve kind of talked myself into liking this one. Wish it was a better film overall. – 6/10

Teen Spirit – This was boring. It looked like a fun “teen talent search” movie so I watched it with my daughter but we ended up barely paying attention. Elle Fanning was fine but seemed very miscast. The director is Max Minghella so it’s probably hard to try to live up to his father Anthony Minghella’s reputation (I preferred Teen Spirit to that boring ass The English Patient movie, though! Hahaha!). This had some fun pop songs in it, at least. But, like, worse versions of those songs since they were sung by worse singers. It had a Grimes song too (sung by Grimes)! It’s funny – I absolutely loved two songs by Grimes on her 2012 album (the songs Oblivion and Genesis, which I wrote about HERE). Now they’re suddenly sticking those two songs in teen movies all the time lately since her weird Elon Musk relationship. Well, it’s one of those two songs again but I can’t remember which one. Also, I know this movie is set in the U.K. (well, Isle Of Wight to be precise) and I know we have no sun in the U.K. but, holy shit, why was this movie so dark?! Couldn’t see a damn thing! Whatever. This movie wasn’t bad just meh. Have to say I far preferred a quirky little film I saw recently starring Max Minghella (Elvis And Anabelle with Blake Lively). – 6/10

The House Of Tomorrow – This was even more boring. Don’t know why exactly, as it had some pretty big names & talent in it. I, again, just didn’t care all that much for the characters and the friend the main boy makes plus his sister are kind of assholes. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis that talked me into watching this because it sounded really cool: “The film tells futurist, architect, and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller’s incredible story through two teens hoping to get laid, become punk gods, and survive high school.” I wanted way more punk music than we got in this movie. – 6/10

Thunder Force – Yeah… This was bad. Really bad. But I expected it to be bad, so, there you go. I dunno. I got a couple laughs out of this as there were some jokes totally aimed at ’80s kids (like, totally). No young people will have laughed at those jokes, I guess. And I kind of liked Jason Bateman having, um, crab arms for whatever reason I missed since I wasn’t paying much attention. Crab arms. Why?! Who knows! – 4.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Documentaries:

My Octopus Teacher – Reviewed in full at the link. I loved this little octopus! – 7.5/10

Pick Of The Litter – This is a documentary following a litter of five puppies as they grow up and are trained to become guide dogs. This was fascinating as I’ve often wondered how they go about training dogs for such an important job. I didn’t realise that quite a few don’t actually pass the tests to become guide dogs. Watched this with my daughter & we loved it. We were really rooting for each of the dogs to pass all the tests! You get to know each of the dogs & their personalities so that was great. And it was so heartwarming when they decided what to do with one of the dogs who failed (I just about cried! I never do that). Plus, of course, these dogs were adorable and I was totally in love with all of them. Gotta add one more picture of one of these cuties! – 7/10

Tell Me Who I Am – Not gonna lie, I really have to force myself to watch documentaries and would rather just watch a film instead. I especially struggle to watch depressing documentaries: Watching cute puppies is more my speed. But I was intrigued by this IMDb synopsis: “After losing his memory in an accident, Alex Lewis trusts his twin brother, Marcus, to tell him about his past only to discover that he’s hiding a dark secret about their childhood.” Well, it wasn’t going to be a nice secret, was it, or else he wouldn’t have kept it from his brother for years. And it IS horrible and it’s a hard watch. The most interesting thing to me was wondering whether the brother who knew the truth did the right thing or not to keep it hidden. I honestly don’t know. I can see why he did it, but… I don’t know. It probably wasn’t the right thing to do. A very difficult situation for everyone involved. – 6.5/10

Shorts:

Saw loads of short films in April. First, I did very brief reviews of these three as they were nominated for Oscars:

The Present
A Love Song for Latasha
Two Distant Strangers

Stephen King Shorts:

Then there was a great online film festival in April put on by Barker Street Cinema (Twitter account HERE). Over three nights, they aired loads of Stephen King short films, called the “Dollar Babies”. These are the short stories Stephen King lets students and aspiring filmmakers have the rights to for just one dollar. I think that’s such a great idea and it was cool seeing a bunch of adaptations as I absolutely love King’s short stories. I’m just heartbroken they could only be aired that one time & they were on American time so I only caught the first ones each night as I couldn’t stay up all night long. I did manage to watch those listed below. They were all good (but you know I love ranking things so I’ve at least ranked them even though I’ve not reviewed them). My favorite was Red Clark’s Gray Matter from 2017. And I loved seeing the oldest Dollar Baby, The Last Rung On The Ladder from 1987, as that’s an all-time favorite King story of mine (and not a horror, just a sad story). You can read the tweets about each short film on the Stephen King Rules Twitter account HERE. (Oh, and I ranked all the King books I’ve read HERE if you’re interested.)

The Dollar Baby Shorts I Saw:

Gray Matter
The Last Rung On The Ladder
The Doctor’s Case
Dedication
The Boogeyman
L.T.’s Theory Of Pets
All That You Love Will Be Carried Away
My Pretty Pony
One For The Road
Paranoid

And finally, thanks to Emma at emmakwall (explains it all) for posting about this freaky short on YouTube called Curve (the image I posted at the top of this Shorts section). It’s about a woman who wakes up on a slippery curved wall over a black hole we can’t see the bottom of & it’s scary as hell. You can watch it HERE.

Movies Rewatched In April:

The Sound Of Music – Rewatched this with the kid one lazy weekend afternoon as we both love this film. What can I say about it? I think this movie is perfection & easily my favorite musical along with The Wizard Of Oz. LOVE IT. – 10/10

Cast Away – Enjoyed rewatching this as I’d not seen it since going to it when it was released in 2000. I actually liked it even more this time around. Think I could identify more with Tom Hanks & his relationship with Helen Hunt now that I’m 20 years older. Could really feel the heartbreak at the end. – 7.5/10

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – This is a 2021 film that I really liked. I wouldn’t normally rewatch something so soon but I rewatched it with my daughter as I thought she’d really like it too (she did). I think this is quite a good movie & a better twist on the “Groundhog Day” idea than Palm Springs was as the characters were far more likeable in this one. My full review is in the link. – 7.5/10

An American Tail – Hadn’t seen this in years but remember thinking that Fievel was adorable and have always loved the Somewhere Out There song (the version sung by the cute mice, not the boring radio version by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram). Nothing has changed. Fievel is still adorable & I still love that song. And now my daughter does too. The movie is good but it’s those two things that really stand out. Here he is singing it below – He’s so cute! – 7/10

Gregory’s Girl – This is a fun Scottish teen movie from 1980. Yeah, it’s very Scottish so you might struggle with the accents if you’re American (I did okay, though!). Obviously, it’s not one I grew up with as I only saw it after moving to the U.K. but I know it’s one that British people have fond memories of. It probably helps that it starts out with naked breasts. Besides that start, though, it’s actually quite a sweet movie about a boy with a crush. I’ll also point out that Clare Grogan from the band Altered Images is in this (I’ve always liked the Happy Birthday song & I Could Be Happy). Oh, and the director (Bill Forsyth) also did the very enjoyable Scottish film Local Hero that I could really do with rewatching as well. – 7/10

Happy Gilmore – I’ve said it plenty on this blog: I have no problem with Adam Sandler. I know it’s “uncool” to like him but I really like several of his movies (and admit that plenty do suck, yes). This one is okay – it’s somewhere in the middle of all those I’ve seen (I ranked his movies in that link). It’s not brilliant like The Wedding Singer but it’s got some funny moments. And Carl Weathers is in it! So that’s cool. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

BOOKS READ

Roadwork by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) – I’m re-reading the four stories in the original The Bachman Books as it’s been over 20 years since I read them. I remembered loving The Long Walk & liking The Running Man a lot but didn’t remember a thing about the other two. Well, I reviewed The Long Walk & Rage HERE last month.

I can see why I didn’t remember Roadwork as it’s not one of King’s more memorable stories. It’s about a guy who goes off the deep end when a new road being built means both his house & his company will be torn down. I’ll be honest – I haven’t quite finished reading it but I’m almost done & am gonna just review it anyway. I think the story is far longer than it needed to be. It does drag on & I’ve not been eager to pick it up & keep reading, which is why it’s taken me over a month to read a novella. While the reader does have some sympathy for the guy, especially as he had a tragedy in his past, he’s really hard to fully sympathise with overall (especially as he doesn’t care at all about ruining his wife’s life along with his). The story is okay, I guess. I always enjoy reading King’s writing but this certainly isn’t a favorite. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Children Of The Stones: Episodes 1-3 – This is a 1977 British TV mini-series available on YouTube. It’s about a small town with a mysterious stone circle which may be making the town’s residents a little crazy. Or something like that. I don’t know – I’ve only watched 3 of the 7 episodes so far but something weird is going on & I love weird. The people living in the town are acting like The Stepford Children at the moment and a father & son new to the town are wondering what the hell is going on. Strange race of people! No one knows who they were or what they were doing! And there’s this eerie painting of people dancing around the stones & great creepy-ass singing & chanting going on in the episodes. I’m enjoying it so far as this is SO my kind of thing. I love the supernatural & stuff like The Wicker Man & Stonehenge (which I made my hubby take me to a few times after moving to the U.K.). That might be partly to do with loving the Spinal Tap Stonehenge song too… (Oh, I’m totally going to add that song to the end of this post!).

If this sounds like your kind of thing too, it’s worth checking it out on YouTube. Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia page about it to maybe further convince you: “The series is today considered a landmark in quality children’s drama and has been called “the scariest programme ever made for children”. The series follows the adventures of astrophysicist Adam Brake and his teenage son Matthew after they arrive in the small village of Milbury, which is built in the midst of a megalithic stone circle.

It’s a real place, too (Avebury, Wiltshire). So I might have to go check it out & pretend I’m living in ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history

My Name Is Earl: S1 Episodes 1-13 – Finished watching all of Raising Hope on Disney Plus, which the kid loved, so talked her into watching My Name Is Earl next as it’s from the same guy. She’s loving this too. I was a big fan when it was on but, for whatever reason, missed the last season or so. I’m really enjoying rewatching this as I think it’s a really funny show (and Randy cracks me up). The humor is a little iffy so I’m not sure how this & Raising Hope haven’t been “cancelled” yet. So we better binge these while we can!

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 Episodes 1-5 – They FINALLY started showing the latest season here in April. God I hate myself for watching this show but I can’t stop now after spending 17 years on it!!! This season is about f*^king Covid. Thanks for the escapism, Grey’s Anatomy!!! Sheesh.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: S1 Episode 4 – I’m sorry, I can’t get into this show at all. I’m not a huge Marvel fan but like everything well enough & have watched all the MCU films. But, after WandaVision being so fun & different, this show is a big disappointment. Also, I don’t remember now but I THINK episode 4 was the one that ended so violently?? Like, wow – that was very violent for something available to kids on Disney Plus. Well, I’ll watch the final two episodes eventually but it’s obvious I’m in no hurry. Always watched WandaVision ASAP…

Dinosaurs: The kid is watching this on Disney Plus. I tried to watch a couple of episodes. I wasn’t into the show back in the ’90s & I can see why. As my hubby pointed out, you’re better off watching short clips of the show’s funniest bits. It’s why the kid wanted to watch this, as she liked clips of the baby. Full episodes feel very long…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Well, I watched too much in April & it took forever to do this post & now I’m stressed out. I’ll slow down on the movie-watching (a little!) as I suppose I need to start mentally & physically preparing myself to re-join society in a month or two (do I have to?!). But I’m not off to a good start as I’ve already watched 6 movies in the first 3 days of May. Oops. Well, this is what I’ve watched if you’re interested. Maybe I should try to post full reviews of some of these through the month…

The Invisible Man (2020) – 7.5/10
The Hunt (2020) – 7.5/10
Happiest Season – 7/10
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – 7/10
Good Boys – 6.5/10

The Crow – 9/10 (Rewatched this for the first time in years & I still love it).

And now I’ll end this post with Stonehenge by Spinal Tap since I keep thinking of it while watching Children Of The Stones.

Promising Young Woman (2020) Review

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Directed & Written by Emerald Fennell

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who crossed her path.

My Opinion:

I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this film before seeing it. Movies are difficult nowadays. Many films have had strong beliefs throughout the years but I feel those from the past ten years or so (and especially in the past five years) present those beliefs in a very different way. I’ve never been against movies with strong or controversial opinions, even if I don’t agree with them. I’m just very against how forced this feels in so many films now. An important and worthy topic doesn’t automatically make a film “good”. I still want a good script, good characters, a gorgeous score & cinematography, and all that other good shit that makes the very best movies true works of art. It’s great if a film has all of that good shit and also manages to have a really good message. I admit that with Oscar nominees these days I always wonder if I’m going to see a strong message with a mediocre film written around it or a good film that also happens to have a strong message that works well within that film.

I did a horrible job explaining that. What I’m saying is that I wondered if Promising Young Woman would be a full-on “all men are evil and must die” movie. Hey, I’m a woman – I’m not gonna pretend I don’t like a good revenge film. Of course I feel strongly about this topic. I’ve always been uncomfortable with “rape revenge” films, though. Although I try to watch most every type of movie that I possibly can to have a fully informed opinion, this is one subgenre I haven’t explored much. I’m not going to look into it, either, as it’s something I don’t want to go searching for but I do wonder how many of these films were made by women? I admit that I probably watched the worst possible example of this subgenre (the 1978 I Spit On Your Grave), so I didn’t want some gory “kill all the men” bloodbath. Exploitation flicks have their place, I guess, but they’ve been done. And I especially didn’t want an extremely exploitative rape scene as in that film. Women don’t want to see that. Those films are made for the excuse to have a graphic rape scene. No thanks. It’s possible to empathise with the victim & want her to get revenge without seeing in graphic detail what happens to her.

Okay, I don’t want to say the word rape anymore. I hate it. Just trying to explain that I wasn’t sure what this movie was going to be. I liked Promising Young Woman a lot. I may have even kind of loved it a little. I’m still not completely sure of the rating I want to give it, though. I feel it’s one of those that I need to think about for a while before I know how I really feel as I can see my opinion of this either going up a lot or possibly going down ever so slightly. I’m really not sure! I felt this way about Mandy… I knew I liked it a lot after seeing it. But after a few months or so of thinking about it, I realised I loved that crazy ass movie & that it’s easily an absolute favorite from recent years. Anyone else ever feel that way about a movie?? I think it’s because I love a divisive film. They excite me. I see too many bland & totally forgettable movies. I’d rather see a slightly “bad” film that’s maybe a bit weird or has a very memorable scene or two than the hundreds of truly boring duds I’ve seen since starting this blog. (Not that Mandy or Promising Young Woman are bad – I think they’re both very good films that are just unconventional)

Carey Mulligan is great in this. We’re all so used to seeing her in “worthy” Suffragette type roles (although I did like that film). But it was fun seeing her like this & I liked her a lot. Although I don’t know if I exactly liked her character. And that’s what I liked! How many times can I say “like”?! I thought this movie did well with the balance I thought it wouldn’t get right. No, it doesn’t portray men in a great light. But it also didn’t have an “all men are bad & all women are good” message. I hate movies like that (unless you’re talking fun sci-fi or fantasy films – I do want straightforward good vs evil in something like Star Wars). But this movie is dealing with a serious real life issue & real life isn’t so black & white. Mulligan’s character is flawed & damaged. You feel for her and you’re on her side but you also don’t always necessarily agree with her & all her methods. You know what else was good? She wasn’t just some kick-ass bitch. I mean, I love a kick-ass bitch! Ellen Ripley rules. But we already have some great female characters like that to look up to so I liked seeing someone more real in this. It’s more relatable. And even when you think she may take some things a little too far, it’s helped by the fact that she’s avenging her best friend. Also, I loved how she fucked with peoples’ minds. That was great & more fun than some super violent revenge porn.

Mulligan is definitely the best thing about this but I also enjoyed the characters played by Bo Burnham & Laverne Cox and their relationships with Mulligan’s character. Clancy Brown & Jennifer Coolidge were also good as her frustrated parents. I was expecting more dark comedy than we got in this, though. I’d have liked much more of that as what we did get worked pretty well. I’d heard beforehand that this movie is sort of a mix of genres and I loved that (as I said, I like unconventional & unpredictable). It was probably hard to classify this film but I’m not sure if I’d agree with those who have included “comedy” in its description. I think some people were probably expecting something very different and can see some really hating this movie but I was pleasantly surprised with how the story played out & loved that it wasn’t at all predictable. I SO wish I hadn’t had the ending spoiled for me on Twitter. Oh, and I liked her colorful fingernails! I liked the use of girly colors in this film (it reminded me of the end of Waitress, a movie I absolutely love).

Well, I’ve rambled on long enough. I know I must have found this film interesting as I haven’t done one of these long rambling “reviews” where I try to sort out my thoughts on a film in a long time. I think the only long reviews I did in recent years were for Mandy, Midsommar & Deep Red. I really liked this film. I’m still thinking about it three days later, especially its unexpected ending. I keep going back & forth on what I want to rate it. 8 & up means I really loved a movie and/or I thought it was a really good film. Is Promising Young Woman worthy of being a Best Picture Oscar nominee? These days it is. It’s certainly my favorite of those nominees I’ve seen so far. But it wouldn’t have been nominated years ago. I’m curious what I’ll think of this one 20 years from now. I look back at some nominees & think “How the hell did that get nominated?”. Will I think that about this? I don’t think so. I’m glad something a little bit unusual & a film that I actually *wanted* to watch is nominated.

My Rating: 8/10

*I may edit this post later & give it 8/10. I don’t know!

**Okay, I did it!

Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2021

Happy February! Will try to stick to my resolution to at least post these monthly roundups (and hopefully on time) this year.

As January, the absolute dreariest & most depressing month of the year, was extra depressing this year thanks to the C word (not that C word) I watched way too many movies in an attempt to cheer up. So I’ll keep my comments on each brief.

MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):

When Marnie Was There – There are very few Studio Ghibli movies I’ve not yet seen (mainly just have the non-Miyazaki ones left to watch). Desperate to see them all but also hate the thought of running out of them! So finally decided to watch this one & absolutely loved it. It just makes it into my Top Ten (which I need to update now) and is easily a favorite of the non-Miyazaki films. What I really liked was the story – there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding Marnie & I loved finding out her history. It’s a lovely, bittersweet film and was a great one to watch with my daughter, who also really enjoyed it. – 8/10

It Happened One Night – Although I’ve slowed way down on my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge, I still try to watch a few Top 250 movies a year. This Frank Capra film was one I’d most been looking forward to watching & it didn’t disappoint. Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert were absolutely adorable together. I’m not exactly a girly girl & romance isn’t my favorite genre but I do seem to prefer the relationships in these older films. The couples had great chemistry in movies like these. Delightful movie! I should watch more pre-1970 films than I do. – 8/10

Black Narcissus (1947) – I thought this was some big classic but I don’t actually know anyone who has heard of it? Well, I think there’s some British TV adaptation right now that I have no interest in. I just know I’d seen images of the eerie looking building & bell high on a cliff lots in the past and have wanted to watch this movie for years based on the images alone. Well, that and the name Black Narcissus because it just sounds cool (named after a perfume if I remember correctly from the movie). Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb for those unfamiliar with this British classic: “A group of nuns struggle to establish a convent in the Himalayas, while isolation, extreme weather, altitude, and culture clashes all conspire to drive the well-intentioned missionaries mad.

I enjoyed this one. It’s a beautiful looking film (as I was hoping from the images) and Deborah Kerr as Sister Clodagh is fascinating as the very stern nun in charge. There’s slowly building tension throughout, leading to an intense finale I’m happy had never been spoiled for me. There’s also a bit of sexual tension with a handsome Englishman. Sexual tension in old movies is the best! It’s why I love Brief Encounter. Am very glad I finally got the chance to watch this one while it was on BBC iPlayer (sorry, think it’s gone now). – 8/10

**Decided to up the rating to 8…

The Secret Of Kells – Having recently watched Tomm Moore’s gorgeous Wolfwalkers and having seen the equally beautiful Song Of The Sea a few years ago, I figured I’d finally check out his earliest animated film. For some reason, this one had appealed to me the least but I think I actually liked it the most. The animation style was of course fantastic (I’d happily put images from these films up on a wall) but I think I enjoyed the story in this one the most. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.

If you’ve seen the others, I’d highly recommend this one as well. If you’ve seen none of these & like beautiful animation, fun characters & good folklore storytelling, these are all well worth your time. I saw this on iPlayer as well & think it’s still available. Here’s a second image from the film since there are so many great ones to choose from… – 7.5/10

Bringing Up Baby – Another movie I was happy to catch on iPlayer (it’s still available) and another one I was happy to cross off my IMDb Top 250 list. Sadly this is one that has disappeared from the Top 250 since that 2013 list I’m still working from. This was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It’s one of those romantic “screwball comedies” from that era. I confess I don’t have much experience with this subgenre. I enjoyed this movie but not nearly as much as It Happened One Night. Grant & Hepburn are very cute together. Hepburn is truly the star of the film as the flighty & clumsy heiress with a leopard named Baby. It’s a sweet film & perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. – 7/10

The Dig – This was fine. Not gonna lie – it’s not at all my type of thing but I’m absolutely desperate for current movie releases. Really missing my monthly cinema membership & seeing new releases regularly! I like Carey Mulligan, although her acting in these types of dramas is always a bit same-y, and I liked all of the characters in this (especially the Ralph Fiennes character). Speaking of cinema trips, you know what character I absolutely despised years ago?! That guy in those annoying Cineworld Unlimited adverts! Man, I still can’t believe he’s in actual movies now. I mean, he’s fine in this but he’ll forever be that jerk from those adverts to me (sorry, Johnny Flynn). Where was I? Oh yeah. This movie… The acting is fine, the true story is interesting if you like archaeology I guess, but it’s quite slow and character-driven so won’t be for everyone. I’m being generous with my rating as it’s a good enough movie but I’d never watch it again. – 6.5/10

Pieces Of A Woman – Again, this isn’t really my type of movie. If I were being honest, I’d stick my next movie above this & The Dig but it’s not nearly as “good” as these two. This one is all about the acting & Vanessa Kirby does put in a good performance. I actually preferred her performance as Margaret in The Crown, though. She’s good in this but I also didn’t feel the performance lived up to the hype. Am I allowed to say that?! I also felt that way about the thoroughly overrated (and throughly boring) Marriage Story. Are people just less picky with Netflix movies or something? Or am I just too picky? Anyway, I did feel for these characters & their terrible tragedy, although they were all very hard people to like. But everyone deals with grief differently & I can understand Kirby’s character becoming so emotionally detached. Not an easy movie to watch and certainly not one I’d watch again. Man, Ellen Burstyn knows how to pick the “I never want to watch this again” movies! Imagine this as a double bill with Requiem For A Dream… Or Surviving!! Ha! Bet none of you youngsters have seen THAT one! (I actually watched that thoroughly depressing TV movie multiple times, though. Loved it. Zach Galligan! Molly Ringwald! River Phoenix! I’m so Gen X). – 6.5/10

Escape Room – I enjoyed this, even though it was a bit f*^king ridiculous. Especially the very end, but most horror movies like these have stupid endings. I don’t know what to say about this… It’s the usual sort of shit but at least it has a fun idea & the different escape rooms the characters find themselves in are entertaining. When it comes to horror, I lower my expectations a lot as most modern horror sucks. I prefer the classics from the ’70s & ’80s. There have been some good ones in recent years, though (The Babadook, It Follows, and especially the delightfully bonkers Mandy which is very much my type of thing). But the good ones are rare so I’m happy to watch these lightweight & utterly predictable ones to pass the time in between the good ones. This was a bit like the recent Countdown and both have a Final Destination vibe (though not as good as that one, of course). Meh. I liked this. The characters were decent & the story was entertaining. I expect nothing more from this sort of thing. – 6/10

Tangerine – Not sure how to go about reviewing this one. I can’t relate to the lives of these characters in any way whatsoever but I enjoyed watching this “day in the life” film (I like those) & really liked the main characters played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez & Mya Taylor. This is from Sean Baker, the same one who did The Florida Project. I quite liked The Florida Project but am still not sure why. Tangerine is very similar. I think I liked it? But I’m not sure why? If you like one, you’ll like the other (and if you hate one, you’ll hate the other). What an in-depth review! You’re welcome. Watch Tangerine if you like a good puke scene! (That was a lot of puke. Gross.) – 6.5/10

Sputnik – I was excited about this. Foreign sci-fi!! A Russian Alien!! Sadly, I was disappointed. I think it had a good idea (even though, yes, it’s very similar to Alien), the alien dude thing looked good, and the acting was decent. There’s even a mini twist at the very end. But… I dunno. It just didn’t quite work. I can’t explain why, though, as this is totally my type of thing. Maybe my expectations were just too high as one of my favorites last year was a foreign dystopian sci-fi film (The Platform). – 6/10

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – This was pretty crap. I think my daughter just really likes to watch movies starring The Rock (me too). You never know what you’re gonna get with these family films, though. Many are rubbish. But then you get one where they actually put some effort in & every age group is actually able to enjoy it. I’m thinking of a recent reboot with The Rock: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle & The Next Level were loads of fun! Suppose we were hoping for something similar to those but this one was mostly just silly & had dodgy special effects. The tiny elephants were cute, though. I want one! Oh, we also read that you didn’t really need to see the first film first (2008’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth) but I’m thinking it would’ve helped. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched (lots of rewatches during lockdown! I don’t normally rewatch movies often – I’ll be even more brief):

The Jungle Book (1967) – Classic! Love this one & it’s always been one of my favorites for Disney songs. – 8.5/10

Despicable Me – I’m a Disney/Pixar/Studio Ghibli girl but I absolutely adore this Illumination film. The relationship between the adorably cheeky girls & hilariously grumpy Gru really makes these films work. AND a brilliant score from Pharrell Williams. AND, of course, the Minions. AND fluffy unicorns. “It’s so fluffy!” – 8.5/10

WarGames – Hadn’t seen this in years. It has aged better than I was expecting (except for the actual technology, obviously). But it’s still a thoroughly entertaining story and I’ll forever love the ’80s films I grew up on. – 7.5/10

Howl’s Moving Castle(Original review HERE). As I said above, I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli & especially love the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Howl’s is as visually stunning & weird as all the rest but it’s never been an absolute favorite of mine as the story is just a bit too messy. I do love Ghibli weirdness but it just works better in Spirited Away for me. I’m still not sure what the heck is actually going on in Howl’s but do love the look & its characters (as with every Miyazaki movie). And Howl is hot with his Bowie-ness. – 7.5/10

Police Academy – I’ll always love the ’80s & its inappropriate humor. This one was even more inappropriate than I remembered! Ha! Filth. Good thing it’s not on the Disney channel – they’d have to slap a huge disclaimer on it since, you know, humans can’t be trusted to judge these things for themselves & must have history censored for them. – 7/10

National Lampoon’s Vacation – Surprisingly, I also hadn’t seen this John Hughes-written film in years either & was surprised to enjoy Police Academy slightly more. Not quite as good as I remembered but I still enjoyed it. Am just so used to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation now, which is far superior. – 7/10

Idiocracy – Again, a film that wasn’t as good as I remembered. I think with this one, I just loved (and still absolutely love) the concept. It’s scarily accurate. Especially after the last four years… We really are turning into a bunch of f*!king morons. The movie becomes more accurate with every year that goes by & for that I think this Mike Judge story is brilliant even if the execution could’ve been better. – 6.5/10

The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants – I really like this movie, even if it’s a little cheesy & “teenager”. Actually, my rating is a bit low as I probably don’t want to admit that I really like these characters & their stories. I like that we get four stories in one here (I always like movies like that – four for the price of one!). Some are better than others. I’ll rank them! The best story is definitely the Amber Tamblyn one where the cheeky young girl befriends her (that girl is the best character in the whole movie). Next is America Ferrera’s divorced family drama as I felt really bad for her (her dad & his new family were assholes & she was far too forgiving!). Next was the predictable Alexis Bledel Greece romance but Greece itself was gorgeous. Last was definitely the boring soccer romance drama (sorry, Blake Lively). Anyway, I like this movie more than I probably should & think my daughter really enjoyed it too. Much better than that Journey 2 crap! – 6.5/10

The Shallows(Original review HERE). Not sure why but I really like this Blake Lively shark attack story (more than her boring soccer romance drama – maybe this should’ve been her Sisterhood story!). It has a predictable backstory setup but, hey, the pretty blonde needs a reason to want to survive. Maybe I just like shark attack movies. I do enjoy most any kind of disaster movie… – 6.5/10

Shorts:

Pixar Popcorn – Of course we watched all of these super short Pixar shorts. For the most part, they’re not nearly as good as the longer ones we get before films (of course), but there are a few really fun ones here. Surprisingly, I liked the Ducky & Bunny ones the most (they weren’t favorite characters of mine from Toy Story 4). But the one where they argue over who is more lovable is hilarious. Here, I’ll rank them since I’m a pathetic, ranking fool!! (from best to “worst” but of course all are good):

1. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love
2. Dory Finding
3. Cookie Num Num
4. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads
5. Chore Day – The Incredibles Way
6. Soul of the City
7. To Fitness and Beyond
8. Dancing with the Cars
9. A Day in the Life of the Dead
10. Unparalleled Parking

Modest Heroes (Kanini & Kanino, Life Ain’t Gonna Lose & Invisible) – Watched this collection on Netflix of three shorts from Studio Ponoc, who made the delightful Mary And The Witch’s Flower (from people previously with Studio Ghibli). These were fine but a little underwhelming. The final one, about a lonely guy no one can see, is the best. It’s still worth checking out these shorts if you like anime.

Canvas – This was a lovely short on Netflix as well about a man who loses his passion for painting after his wife dies. Not as powerful as If Anything Happens I Love You but still good.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY

BOOKS READ

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz – Am a big Dean Koontz fan (did a Top Ten list HERE). Honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read this one years ago but think I only saw the 1977 Julie Christie movie based on it. What was disappointing was that I didn’t realise the version I have is actually one that Koontz later re-wrote to update the technology in it & I assume references to specific actresses. I’m old – I can handle reading about out-dated technology. I’M out-dated technology! Anyway, this book is interesting as I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of machines taking over. (They will, you know!!). But it’s also creepy & very rape-y so not one I’d recommend easily to absolutely anyone. There’s a real “woman hating” thing going on here, but I think part of the point of the book is the dreaded “toxic masculinity”. I do wonder if that was as much a part of the original book or if Koontz put more of that in to fit more with the topics of today. – 3/5

Currently Reading Moon by James Herbert as I enjoyed that freaky deaky The Rats book.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai: Season 3 – I’ve gone on about how much I adore Cobra Kai in previous posts so I won’t do that again. I’ll just say that I still love it. As expected, many shows go downhill and that’s the case with seasons 2 & 3 of Cobra Kai too but, luckily, I’d say they’re only going slightly downhill. This isn’t Stranger Things, where I couldn’t even finish Season 3. I still loved every moment of Cobra Kai Season 3 & the writing is still sharp and the characters are still strong. But, at this point, they’ve now covered most everything they can from the films and the teens have all fought each other in every way possible so I don’t see where they can easily go from here. But I’ll keep watching because I love these characters (especially Johnny – still can’t believe they turned that asshole around!).

The Crown: Season 2 & 2 episodes of Season 3: Oh man, I’m really not feeling the new cast in Season 3. Give me Claire Foy back! I hope these get better again, because I thought the first two seasons were great even though I only started watching this to get to the Diana years in Season 4…

WandaVision: Season 1 – Episodes 1-4 – I’m not a huge Marvel fan, although I’ve watched all the MCU movies and do like the characters. Am not sure what to think of this show but do love how original it feels. Being an ’80s latchkey kid who grew up watching loads of reruns of shows from the ’50s through to the late ’80s, I’ll always be fond of those shows and like that WandaVision is paying tribute to them (although the fake WandaVision shows aren’t as good as the original classic shows they’re spoofing). After episode four, I’m glad the story seems to be going in the direction I was expecting & I’m looking forward to watching the story fully unfold. But I’m hoping we get back to sitcoms next week as I want to see which ’80s one they do!

History Of Swear Words – This was fine. A fun throwaway show with lots of swearing. I love swearing, dammit. They covered a different word in each episode. Damn was one – how mild is THAT?! That’s not a swear word. Damn. Nicolas Cage was the perfect host for this. Although Samuel L. Jackson would have been better… Whoa – I have to update my Nicolas Cage Top Ten list!! Mandy would be number one now.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans besides posting these monthly updates. But I’ve been contemplating doing Top Ten lists again as I always enjoyed those…

What I’m really enjoying is trying to make the time to read movie blogs again. I miss the old days (I’ve been here 8 years) but there are some great new blogs. Have been feeling out of touch on movie releases where release dates are a nightmare thanks to the C word & I’ve not had time to read blogs to keep informed. And an old favorite blogger is back! Yay!! I mean old as in was here when I started… (I’d link him but not sure if he’s keeping a low profile). 🙂

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

No clue. Are any movies coming out?! As I said, I’m very out of touch. I still need to catch up on 2020 films that haven’t been on U.K. streaming services yet…

As I end these posts with a music clip, I’ll go with a favorite from The Jungle Book as I mentioned loving the songs in that.

An Education (2009) Blind Spot Review 

An Education (2009)

Directed by Lone Scherfig

Screenplay by Nick Hornby & Based on An Education by Lynn Barber

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.

My Opinion:

This is my first Blind Spot review of 2016 (you can see all 12 of my Blind Spot choices HERE). I’m even managing to do this in January! Maybe I can aim to do these on the last Monday of every month. Maybe. I did start with the “easiest” watch, though (I’ll have to work up the nerve for things like Battle Royale). This movie was pretty good. Nothing too memorable but a solid film all around with Carey Mulligan in a star-making role.

There were two main reasons I’ve been meaning to watch this movie: Nick Hornby & Carey Mulligan. I like Nick Hornby’s books (High Fidelity being the best) so I was interested in this as he adapted the screenplay, which earned him an Oscar nomination. I also should really try to watch Brooklyn now since he’s again nominated for the adapted screenplay Oscar for that as well. Anyway, An Education is a well-written film (I suppose credit also goes to the novel’s author, Lynn Barber) with a good story and a strong young central character played convincingly by Carey Mulligan (which also earned her a best actress Oscar nomination). Oh, and the film itself was also nominated for Best Picture that year so it was up for three big awards and I’d say it deserved each of those nominations.

I first noticed Carey Mulligan in the absolutely fantastic Doctor Who episode Blink, in which she carried the whole show. I think this was back when they decided they’d have one episode each season which wouldn’t really feature The Doctor? They should do that again since Blink was a million times better than Doctor Who now – I don’t even watch it anymore. 😦


This photo is from Doctor Who, not An Education. Although it would’ve been cool to have some Weeping Angels in this movie…

Anyway! I’m assuming that role may be what got her noticed as An Education wasn’t long after that? I have to say I’ve been disappointed with some of her roles since (especially in The Great Gatsby) but I don’t know if some of that has been a fault with those scripts. She’s perfect in An Education, though, and utterly believable as a 16/17-year-old girl in 1960’s London. It looks like she was about 23 when she filmed it but I had to look into it as I did wonder if she was actually only a teenager at the time – it did seem like she could be (she doesn’t look like the thirtysomething cast of Grease!).

This isn’t a big flashy film and it’s not one that everyone would necessarily go for but it’s a good “Sunday afternoon” watch. Which sounds kind of insulting but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m also doing my best to not call this film “nice” as that word annoys the hell out of my husband. But, well, that’s how I feel about this one! So I’ve looked up “nice” at thesaurus.com:

An Education is “admirable, amiable, approved, attractive, becoming, charming, commendable, considerate, copacetic, cordial, courteous, decorous, delightful, ducky, fair, favorable, fine and dandy, friendly, genial, gentle, good, gracious, helpful, ingratiating, inviting, kind, kindly, lovely, nifty, obliging, okay, peachy, pleasant, pleasurable, polite, prepossessing, seemly, simpatico, superior, swell, unpresumptuous, welcome, well-mannered, winning, winsome”.

HA! I like “ducky”. This movie is ducky!

1960’s London (and also Paris) is a great time period & setting so I really enjoyed that. And Mulligan was adorable in that dress in the movie’s poster! The story, although slightly less relevant nowadays, is one I’d like to have my daughter watch when she’s the same sort of age as Mulligan’s character. Basically, the story is about Mulligan falling for a charming older man and how she’s willing to give up everything for him (mainly, her education – she’s a smart girl who plans to go to Oxford University).

I guess the only complaint I’d have about this film is that I hated Peter Sarsgaard’s smarmy character. I honestly don’t know if that was the point, though, or if that’s just how he happened to come across? I was thinking “how could she fall for this idiot?” but maybe the whole point is that a 16-year-old girl doesn’t know any better? He actually gave me the creeps. It just kind of sucked as I felt he let the film down and I wonder if I’d have liked it a bit more with a different actor. He just seemed so “wrong” while Mulligan felt so “right”. That’s my only real complaint, though. Overall, I enjoyed An Education although it’s not really something that would become a favorite or anything like that. It’s worth watching just once if you think you’d like it. It’s ducky!

My Rating: 7/10

Suffragette (2015) Review

Suffragette (2015)

Directed by Sarah Gavron

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.

My Opinion:

I went to a movie with the hubby the other day and I really needed to go to one since I hadn’t been to one in months and I was having major withdrawal. There weren’t a lot to choose from (I’m not really a Bond fan and The Peanuts Movie doesn’t come out in the UK until the end of December. Grr!! I’m not happy about that!). Anyway, I fully admit that I don’t often feel like watching a “heavy” film but Suffragette was the only thing showing at a time that worked out for us. 

Well, I’m glad I saw it because I thought it was really good. I’m quite sure it will end up in my Top Ten Movies Of 2015 when I make the final list. I’ve seen some “meh” reviews of it on the blogs here but I didn’t feel that way about it at all.

I’ll also admit this right now: I’ve never had much of an interest in “history”. I can understand why some people do but it was always one of my least favorite subjects in school and you’re unlikely to find me ever watching the History Channel. The past is the past – I’m more interested in the present and the future. So I of course knew of the Suffragettes although I didn’t know a lot of specifics. I definitely have even more of an appreciation for what these women did after seeing this movie, though, which to me should be the point of movies about important historical events.

I’m aware that Carey Mulligan’s character and story are fictional & I think that may be part of the reason why this movie isn’t being praised quite as much as historical dramas which are based on completely true stories. I have no issues with some fictional characters, though, as long as the story is told well. Mulligan’s character is an amalgamation of the many nameless women who, at great personal cost, fought for something they believed in.

Would I have been a Suffragette? Would I have dared to speak up at a time when a woman questioning things as simple as why she wasn’t allowed to vote yet was expected to follow the law or why she got less pay than a man doing the exact same job could lead to a beating by police, time in prison, torture if she chose to go on a hunger strike, and the possibility that employers, friends & loved ones (both male & female) would turn their backs on her just for questioning these very basic rights that we take for granted nowadays? No – I wouldn’t have been a Suffragette. I’m the type who doesn’t even speak up for herself now in 2015 so I have a tremendous amount of respect for these women who did so at at time when it was downright dangerous to ask for equality. These are the women who young girls should be looking up to (I discussed the basics of this movie with my own daughter after watching it). It breaks my heart that more girls know the names of each useless Kardashi-thingy than a name like Emmeline Pankhurst.

I’m not going to act like I knew much, though, as I already said that I never had much of an interest in history. So while I knew about Pankhurst, I’ll admit that I knew nothing about the other real-life female character in this movie (Emily Wilding Davison). Hubby had a good giggle when he leaned over & said “you’re the only person in this cinema who doesn’t know what’s about to happen, aren’t you?” when her big moment came. Yep! What can I say? I got a typical 80’s American history education. 😉

So as a movie-blogger and not a history-blogger, I have to say that I thought the actresses in Suffragette were all fantastic. Streep plays Pankhurst but it’s an even smaller role than I was expecting (I think she had no more than ten minutes of screen time). She was, of course, her usual Streep-y self. She’s always great & I also love her in real life. She’s feisty! She’s always speaking out about her beliefs so it’s no surprise that she would play someone like Pankhurst. The same goes for Helena Bonham Carter, who plays the exact sort of character you’d expect in Suffragette. I’ve never considered myself a fan of hers but the truth is that she’s an excellent actress and another one that I have respect for in real life (she’s a feisty one too – I probably like strong, feisty women because I’m such a pushover myself).

Finally, the characters played by both Anne-Marie Duff & Carey Mulligan were based on the many working class Suffragettes who found it very hard to fight for a cause while also trying just to survive & make a living for their families. Both actresses were fantastic and I was happy to see Mulligan in a great role again. I was such a big fan of hers after that Doctor Who episode Blink but then she seemed to play the same characters over & over (her excruciatingly dull Daisy in The Great Gatsby drove me nuts, but that may be more the fault of how that character was written). 

I suppose I especially liked Mulligan in this as I could relate to her character, who kind of inadvertently gets involved in a cause she’s not sure she wants to be a part of due to the ramifications and the fact that she has a son she loves & has to take care of. We know about the more public figures such as Pankhurst but it’s hard to imagine the sacrifices these working class women made, especially when even a peaceful protest could land them in jail for days, hurting the family who depended on their meager wages. Mulligan may be one of the fictional characters but she felt the most “real” to me. Bravery isn’t always bold & brash – as much as I’d love to be an educated & ass-kicking character like Bonham Carter’s, there are more women in this world who are like Mulligan’s character & I’d be happy to see her understated performance get an Oscar nomination.

I did do a tiny bit of reading about the real women after watching Suffragette (this is a really good article about some of the real women who inspired the characters in the movie: Biography.com).

My favorite story is that Helena Bonham Carter’s character is a combination of a husband & wife team who fought for women to get the vote (Barbara Ayrton Gould and her husband Gerald) and a woman who knew martial arts & taught the Suffragettes jiu-jitsu to defend themselves and to protect the leaders of the movement (which became known as “suffrajitsu” according to the above article. I love that!). This woman was named Edith Garrud and Bonham Carter was inspired by her & had her character named Edith in her honor. I want to learn suffrajitsu! That’s awesome. 🙂

Have a look at the above article if, like me, you’re not much of a history buff. I know I really should do more reading about the real-life Suffrage movement as I do find women’s rights throughout history to be quite fascinating (mainly due to the fact that I find it just plain confusing why all human beings, to this day, still aren’t all treated equally). The film ends with statistics showing the years in which women earned the right to vote in various countries and it’s shocking just how recent a lot of those dates were (never mind the places where they still aren’t allowed to vote even now). As far as this movie goes, I think it does its job in bringing attention to a still important topic as, to me, Suffragette is just as much about everyone’s basic human rights as it is about women being able to vote. I know not everyone loved it but this movie gets my vote.

My Rating: 8/10

Top Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

Okay – it was fun bitching about my most hated actors & actresses last week but now it’s time to do another list that Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are has done. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actresses That I’d See In Pretty Much AnythingHERE. So here’s my own list of actresses I love. (Yes – I do love Drew Barrymore!). 🙂

With my favorite actors list, I’ve had to narrow it down by only including living actors so I’ve done the same here. Otherwise, Grace Kelly would be on this list. Now here are The Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order…):

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Amy Adams
Best Movie: Her or Catch Me If You Can but she was lovely in Junebug

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Emily Blunt
Best Movie: Edge Of Tomorrow but I also love The Adjustment Bureau

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Melanie Laurent
Best Movie: Inglourious Basterds

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Jennifer Lawrence
Best Movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Drew Barrymore
Best Movie: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial but I also love The Wedding Singer & Whip It

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Chloe Grace Moretz
Best Movie: Hugo

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Sandra Bullock
Best Movie: Gravity but I do love Speed. (Gravity helped to put Bullock back on this list. But I still wouldn’t watch that thing she did with Melissa McCarthy. Damn! I missed her on my “Most Annoying” list…

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Carey Mulligan
Best Movie: Shame but she was better in Never Let Me Go. (If I’ve forgotten someone, Carey Mulligan would be the first one replaced. I found her disappointing in Shame and beyond bland in The Great Gatsby. Hopefully she’ll have another good role soon…)

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Elisabeth Shue
Best Movie: Adventures In Babysitting

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Michelle Pfeiffer
Best Movie: Ladyhawke

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) Review

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Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Starring:
Oscar Isaac
Carey Mulligan
John Goodman
Garrett Hedlund
Justin Timberlake

Executive Music Producer: T Bone Burnett

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Inside Llewyn Davis is a 2013 American comedy-drama film… about one week in the life of a singer who is active in New York’s folk music scene in 1961. Although Llewyn Davis is a fictional character, the story was partly inspired by the autobiography of folk singer Dave Van Ronk. Most of the folk songs performed in the film are sung in full and recorded live.

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My Opinion:

Meh. I don’t know. I saw this early last week and have been putting off reviewing it because…. Meh.

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I’ll start by saying I’ve never been a huge fan of the Coen brothers so that won’t have helped. Don’t hate any of their movies but never have exactly loved one either. Oscar Isaac does a decent job playing an unlikeable character in this. Carey Mulligan does a decent job playing an unlikeable character in this (but not for long – her role was smaller than I was expecting). John Goodman does a decent job playing an unlikeable character in this. Garrett Hedlund does a decent job being a hottie. I’ve not really seen him in anything else but I plan to now! And Justin Timberlake does a decent job playing Justin Timberlake.

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Hottie & Sulley

There’s a cat so I guess that’s good. If you like cats. Which I don’t. There’s folk music so I guess that’s good. If you like folk music. Which I mostly don’t other than the occasional Bob Dylan. There’s, um… Oh wait. That’s about it. Oh! I kind of liked the scene where they sang that silly Mr Kennedy song and I was all like “hey, that guy with the low voice is in Girls!”. Oh wait – I thought of another thing. There’s a lot of moping so I guess that’s good. If you like people moping.

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I really hope this isn’t the first review of mine that someone new to this blog is reading! This must be my worst review ever. (I’m lying – it’s totally not the worst. Don’t go digging through my oldest stuff!). 😉

What I’m saying is… This movie is okay. Not a lot happens. If you love the Coen brothers, don’t worry – you’ll like this one just fine. If you’re not a huge Coen brothers fan or if you have no experience with their films, don’t make this the first film of theirs that you see. They have better. But they probably have worse as well (I’ve not seen everything). Sorry for the crappy review – I struggled knowing what to say with this one! It’s not bad. I just won’t remember it in a couple years. Those are the films that depress me the most – I’d almost rather watch a REALLY BAD movie. At least they’re memorable.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Man, I’m going to take some heat for this one…

Shame (2011) Review

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Shame (2011)

Directed by Steve McQueen

Starring:
Michael Fassbender
Carey Mulligan
James Badge Dale
Nicole Beharie

Running time: 101 Minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Michael Fassbender is a sex addict and isn’t shy about walking around fully nude.
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My Opinion:

Seriously – I’ll make this a quickie (Ha!). Because, obviously, I’m not mature enough to do a proper review for this. But I have at least decided to not grab a thesaurus and use the word “large” in as many ways as possible throughout the review.
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Michael Fassbender plays a sex addict. So it’s already a movie I can’t relate to in the slightest (TMI?). He struggles with this & it’s very serious & it’s ruining his life and OH MY GOD he’s walking around FULLY NAKED! And I totally didn’t rewind that & freeze frame it & actually take a picture of the TV screen. Who would do that? That would be immature.
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Then Fassbender’s equally messed-up-in-the-head sister Carey Mulligan comes to stay with him unexpectedly (and totally uninvited). And OH MY GOD we see her fully naked too!!!!

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Seriously, though, Fassbender’s acting in this is very very good. I hate to say that I was slightly disappointed with Carey Mulligan, though. Oh I hate saying that as I do like her! But this is the second movie recently that I DIDN’T like her in (The Great Gatsby being the other one but I think that was mainly the fault of the script). She’s fine – she’s not bad in Shame but… I don’t know – Maybe she wasn’t quite right for the role. And I think she just couldn’t out-act Fassbender. They had a good creepy incestuous sexual tension thing going on that worked, though. I guess. Ew.
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Summary:

Does Shame really explore sexual addiction & do we learn anything by the end of the film? No. Only that no addiction is ever a good thing. Oh, and that most of us are totally f*&ked up in some way but some are better at hiding it than others. So the movie only states the obvious and I suppose it was successful for A) a truly great performance from Fassbender and B) being a bit racy, which always gets attention. Heck, it turns into almost full-on porn there for a scene toward the end (I think. I’m not an expert on porn).

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Is it good? Well, yeah. It’s a bit artsy, it’s filmed well (not that I know anything about filmmaking but it all looked very good), and it has some great acting including a very memorable performance from Fassbender. Did it change my life? No. Did it ruin my life? No. Am I glad I watched it? Yes. And I have a picture saved on my phone of my favorite part.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Great Gatsby (2013) Review

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The Great Gatsby (2013)

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Starring:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Tobey Maguire
Carey Mulligan
Joel Edgerton
Isla Fisher
Jason Clarke
Amitabh Bachchan

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Rich people are bastards. Don’t get drawn into their world – Stay a nice Midwesterner!

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My Opinion:

Okay – I’m trying to catch up on reviewing the 2013 films that I’ve seen. Out of 41, I only have three left to do (The Great Gatsby, Sound City & Gravity, which I’ve just seen). So here we go!

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I never got around to reviewing Gatsby because I wasn’t sure what to say about it. I went to see it with a friend and she’s the one who chose it – it’s not really my type of thing. I didn’t mind Romeo + Juliet (but that may be due to my slightly weird crush on John Leguizamo). I really didn’t like Moulin Rouge (but that may be due to my slightly weird dislike of Nicole Kidman).

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Here’s my Great Gatsby knowledge prior to seeing the 2013 film: NOTHING! Never read the book, never saw the Robert Redford film. I think that helped, though, as the only thing I really enjoyed about the film was the story and it was nice not knowing beforehand how it would end. Other than the overall main story going on, I didn’t find the rest of it to be a very good film.

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Music:

Annoying. I know that’s important in these Baz Luhrmann films like Moulin Rouge but I found it all very distracting in Gatsby. Instead of going “Oh that’s cool & clever how they’ve stuck this modern music in this old timey film” it just felt totally out of place in this one. Okay, and I just didn’t like any of the songs (other than No Church In The Wild) so that didn’t help. I just wanted to find out what was going to happen in the story instead of suddenly having to hear Will.i.am. Yuck. (I’m aware I sound like a grumpy old person).

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Actors/Characters:

Out of place & jarring music aside, I really did like the story as I said and I liked Leo (usually do – he’s a great actor) and even Tobey Maguire was less annoying than usual. But one thing I was really looking forward to beforehand was seeing Carey Mulligan. I’ve liked her ever since that great Doctor Who episode Blink (which was pretty much all her & barely featured Doctor Who and still managed to be one of the best episodes in recent years). So, unfortunately, I feel really bad having to say that I didn’t like her in Gatsby. I can’t say that she was “wrong for the part” as I don’t know anything about the character. Maybe it’s a poorly written character in this script? No idea. Maybe it’s not her fault but I found it really hard to believe that someone would be so completely in love with a girl who’s soooo damn BORING. She’s adorable & I’ve always thought blonde hair & brown eyes are lovely together and she’s been great in other things so… I don’t know. Just really wasn’t feeling the Daisy Buchanan character! Leo’s Gatsby & Maguire’s Nick were the two best characters by far and the only ones that I cared about – I could take or leave the rest of them. The rest were hateful (but I suppose they were meant to be). Well, Daisy’s friend (Jordan? The golfer…) was a decent character. But… Daisy’s husband – prick! Isla Fisher’s Myrtle – moron! Daisy – vapid! Everyone else – boring, apparently, as I can’t remember anyone else.

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Summary:

The Great Gatsby wasn’t as bad as I’m making it sound. The story was intriguing (but I don’t think the movie can exactly take credit for this). Leo was good & he was believable as was Tobey Maguire’s relationship with him. It’s just unfortunate that their friendship was far more believable & interesting than the “romance” with Dull Daisy! The film was lovely to look at and the story was good enough to make me mostly forgive the music that felt totally out of place but luckily didn’t take over the entire film (the music was way less prominent than I’d been expecting it to be before seeing the film). Overall, I liked it okay but it’s thanks only to a) The story b) Leo’s Gatsby c) The relationship between Gatsby & Maguire’s Nick. Maybe I should read the book?

My Rating: 6.5/10

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