Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2020

Well, I’ve almost caught up on these monthly roundups. I now have to attempt to remember & review what I watched in September. I’m happy that it appears I didn’t watch much that month, so I don’t have to blather on for ages. Here we go…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Bill & Ted Face The Music – Ah! This was the Bill & Ted month!! This was my most-anticipated movie of probably the past ten years. Seriously – I’m a big Bill & Ted fan. The first movie especially is fantastic. Will forever love these characters & think the films are clever as hell & the comedy is truly funny (while still managing to be PG-type comedy – it’s possible to be hilarious and wholesome!). Only saw this one once, so want to see it again to know better how I feel. It gave me warm fuzzies seeing these dudes again. There was a bit of worry that the daughters would be the main focus & they’d cast Bill & Ted aside (like the Star Wars sequel films I’m liking less & less as time goes by). But, no, Bill & Ted were luckily still the true stars. The daughters were still given plenty to do, although it would’ve been nice to see them with their fathers a bit more. I wasn’t really feeling the daughter characters, though? They didn’t fit quite right for me. (Sorry!). But, as I said, I need to see it again. They might grow on me. The film is definitely not perfect. It was NEVER going to live up to the first film, though. But it’s not as good as Bogus Journey, either, which I still thoroughly enjoy but will never love in the same way. But, hey – Who cares? We got to see two of my favorite movie characters back together again, which put a big smile on my face (as well as on the kid’s & the hubby’s). It was the kind of movie this crappy year needed. – 7/10

Mulan – This was a lovely film to look at but, overall, disappointing compared to how much I think I’d hyped it up in my mind. I just thought the trailer made it look like it could be amazing but it sadly didn’t live up to that. Before that trailer, I’d decided to give up on watching any more live-action Disney remakes of their animated classics. They’re pointless. It’s Disney being greedy & it’s bullshit. Beauty And The Beast was such a waste of time (with a horrible Belle) so I didn’t bother with Aladdin (looked shit) or The Lion King (no reason whatsofuckingever to remake that). But the daughter really likes the animated Mulan and, yeah, this looked so good in the trailer. We still enjoyed it, though. Think the kid was just disappointed at how different it was from the animated film but I kind of prefer when they make it a lot different. I don’t see the point of making an exact copy. That’s why I kind of appreciated Tim Burton’s Dumbo despite its definite flaws. I think the characters were just a bit weak in the live-action Mulan. They were… dull. Lovely film, some decent action, dull characters. Disappointing. But it made me appreciate the animated film a bit more. Mulan is always a bit overlooked. – 6.5/10

Countdown – I enjoyed this basic, utterly predictable horror film. It’s about an app that people download that tells them exactly how long they have left to live. So, of course, those who don’t have long to live according to the app die as soon as their time runs out. And, of course, a pretty young blonde medical student downloads it & finds out she has only days to live and must find a way to “cheat death”. Not gonna lie – this movie totally rips off Final Destination. But I always liked the simple setup of that film and thought it made for a really good story (and they were obviously able to use it over & over & over again). It doesn’t work as well in Countdown & gets far too silly at the end but it’s still an enjoyable film thanks to some entertaining characters in the smaller roles. It’s not the best in the genre but I’ve seen far worse. It was exactly what I was expecting so I wasn’t disappointed. – 6/10

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – How do I go about reviewing this?! I can’t. It’s a Charlie Kaufman film & you like his work or you don’t. I do for the most part, although none of the films he’s written are exactly all-time favorites of mine. I’m trying to not use the word pretentious here! It’s hard. Do I prefer this sort of film to some dumb popcorn movie like Countdown? Definitely. But these types of movies aren’t always enjoyable. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind & Being John Malkovich were enjoyable. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things was a bit of a slog to get through. I appreciate that stuff like this gets made & I was intrigued & I do like a bit of “what the fuck is going on?!”. There’s plenty of WTF in this. Especially at the end, where it gets weird as shit. I preferred the full-on weirdness at the end. But the first two thirds of the film carry on for what felt like HOURS. Good god. I sat through all of that to find out there’s a pretty simple explanation to the whole damn thing. Oh, and no one was very likeable. That never helps either. An interesting watch but not a fun one. – 6.5/10

Mikey – Enjoyed this one much more. I’m so classy! Was this a good film? No. It was cheesy but fun & I liked seeing so many recognisable faces from that time. It’s a horror movie from 1992 that I’m not even sure was released (the rating says “Rejected” on IMDb. What does that mean??) about a young boy who is a psycho killer. What can I say? I love movies with evil children. The Omen is a big favorite (not that this is even close to being as good as that). Cute little Brian Bonsall plays the psychopath. Ha! Remember him from Family Ties?! This is no wholesome TV show – he truly is a crazy fucker. This also starred Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser fame (actually thought she was a good character in this cheesy horror) & Lyman Ward of “Ferris Bueller’s dad” fame. And Josie Bissett of Melrose Place which I never watched. And Mimi Craven who I just read was Wes Craven’s wife at the time. So, the Craven & Hellraiser horror connections are cool. I read that this movie is still banned to this day in the U.K. (how did I see it on Amazon Prime U.K., then?!). Sadly, I know why it was banned at that time so that’s completely understandable. – 6/10

I See You – This was decent. Preferred how it started out to how it ended but liked the completely unpredictable turn it took. I appreciate that as the majority of horror films’ plots fail to surprise me in any way. But this is one of those movies that sort of switches genres halfway through & the mysterious horror at the start is more my type of thing. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “It follows a suburban family beset by unexplainable events that may be linked to the recent disappearance of a young boy.” And that really tells you nothing about this movie… Worth a watch if you like a crime horror that keeps you guessing. – 6/10

Time Trap – This was a strange one. Where I said that I See You changes its genre, this film is just kind of all over the place. It’s really just sci-fi, I guess. I don’t know how to review or rate this. Overall, I liked it. The characters were decent, especially the younger boy with this group, so that helps me to like a movie. They weren’t that well-developed, though. And that ending was so cheesy! At least like I See You, it was unpredictable. I like that. Oh, it’s about a group of students who go looking for their missing professor in a cave & get stuck there in some kind of time loop thingy or something. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai – Oh my god! Was it September when I finally watched Cobra Kai? I loved it SO much!!! The nostalgia! I’m a sucker for ’80s references & the writers have done brilliantly mixing Eighties culture with modern teens & I love how they clash in funny ways. Johnny clearly being stuck in his glory days & listening to all his ’80s music & not understanding woke culture & social media is hilarious. And Johnny mentioned Trapper Keepers! Ha! Adorable. Speaking of Johnny, how have they made all of us middle-aged women have a crush on that complete dickhead from The Karate Kid?! What I like is that they got the balance perfect in this show. They focus on the adults as much as the teens and it really feels aimed at Generation X just as much as at current teens. I can see why it has done so well (review-wise, anyway – I have no idea what the viewing figures are). I have very little time for TV shows but I binged these episodes before starting work every day (also helped that each are between 30-40 minutes long). I seriously can’t wait for the next series. In some ways, I think I enjoy it even more than The Mandalorian. Take The Child out of that & I’d choose Cobra Kai. But I’m so happy to finally have two shows I really love.

America’s Got Talent – Meh. I hate reality shows but they’re the right kind of mindless crap you can stick on while eating & not really pay attention to. The “talent” on this series was worse than ever. It was odd, though, as it had to be done without an audience & socially distanced. A lot of performances were via video. I’ll forgot 99% of the people who were in this like I always do. Prefer the singing talent shows but those are forgettable too.

Marvel’s Runaways – Watched two episodes. Not feeling it but the daughter likes it okay. Forgot we started this, actually. Suppose we’ll try another episode sometime.

BOOKS READ

Final Girls by Riley Sager – This crime mystery horror thriller might be a bit of fluff but I think it would make for a really good slasher flick with a decent “whodunnit” plot. I’d definitely watch that movie! The characters are a bit hateful but, hey, so are most slasher movie characters. Had fun with this one – it was a real page-turner as I wanted to find out what was going on. I’m impatient when it comes to whodunnits & always read them quickly. It gets a bit silly at the end but I don’t mind that with this sort of thing. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “FIRST THERE WERE THREE. The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma. THEN THERE WERE TWO. But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or… CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE? All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.” – 3/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’m going to try to finish out the year with my October, November & December roundup posts then my usual Year End Top Ten lists. Will seem strange to list so few movies I actually saw in a cinema in 2020…

In tribute to Cobra Kai, I have to end this post with You’re The Best by Joe Esposito from The Karate Kid. Motherf*^kin’ montage!

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kelechi of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Thanks for the review, Kelechi! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, IMDB rank 75 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’ve received 3 remaining IMDB guest reviews to post but have a lot still outstanding. Let me know if you still wish to review the movie(s) you’ve signed up for. If not, I’ll add them back to the list of available films. Thanks!**

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How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.” – Mary

I have nothing but good memories about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  See what I did there?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not your usual and conventional romantic film.  The ‘boy meets girl’ concept is a familiar and overused trope in the film world. But with the added sci-fi twist involving memories, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ignores the trend and takes the audience on a mind bending and surreal experience that is full of charm, wit and most importantly, sentiment.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as Joel and Clementine.  After spending two years together as a couple, the relationship turns sour. They undergo a procedure that erases their memories of each other.  Trouble is, as impulsive they were in committing themselves to the procedure, they rediscover what they had in the first place.

“Random thoughts for Valentine’s day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” – Joel

The unique quirks in this film are displayed in its brilliant visual concept.  It taps into the surreal nature of the mind where it’s never consistent or logical.  Its visual complexity and how each scene transitions unto the next are handled seamlessly.  Most scenes don’t contain any CGI effects, just clever camera movements!  It may feel jarring at first but once your mind gets to grip with the concept, it’s a rewarding experience.

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There’s something very low key about the technology used in the film by Lacuna Inc.  2015 and swiping on everything that has a screen size over four inches has become the norm.  With its ease of use and simplicity, you can’t imagine how we coped before!  But for a film that came out in 2004, the technology is a little clunky with CRT monitors straight out of the 80s or 90s, a time capsule reminder of the evolving past we use to belong to…and it wasn’t that long ago!  It never looks sleek, state of the art or high tech – there are many functional parts in order to make it work and it does its job. The film doesn’t dwell on how the procedure works except for acknowledging that the effects are on par with a night of heavy drinking.  It gives us as the audience a basic understanding of what it does, mapping personal items with emotional connections, which form as part of the erasure development process.  Because of this, the essence of the business by Lacuna Inc. is small scale and experimental.  It’s not seen as a global attraction like something out of Total Recall with its tongue-in-cheek advertising.  In fact, it’s the opposite where the experience is a more personal and intimate, like visiting your local doctor.

While the film doesn’t explore in great detail about Lacuna’s operations, the film does raise some ethical questions. There’s never a feeling over who is held accountable for its practices.  The characters of Patrick (Elijah Wood), Stan (Mark Ruffalo) Mary (Kirsten Dunst) and Dr. Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) are quirky individuals who have used the memory erasure technology for their own gain and advantages.  A great example of this belongs with Patrick who steals Joel’s personal items to make a good impression with Clementine.  It completely backfires on him but what he essentially does is commit identity fraud.  The actual procedure happens at night in the comfort of your home while you’re asleep.  So is it right that the technicians raid your fridge or dance on your bed with great freedom while you’re undergoing your treatment?  You will wake up without any recognition that they were there the night before but there’s a certain level of trust to be had to accept the strange and intrusive circumstances.

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In essence it is a clandestine and artificial relationship of convenience.  Someone from your inner circle will be informed about the procedure and you (or them) are expected to live with that knowledge, such as Joel’s friends. While the Doctor or any of his team can preach about how wonderful the process is, the real issue is the aftercare.  At times there’s a lack of professionalism within the group and if they’re not accepting their responsibilities and the consequences from their actions, would you want to undergo an experiment like this?  I certainly wouldn’t.

Clementine: “You know me, I’m impulsive.”

Joel: “That’s what I love about you.”

However, the sci-fi element is secondary to the actual plot because its main focus is on Joel and Clementine.  When they are first introduced, they are complete opposites both in personality and character.

Joel acts more like an introvert.  He’s quiet and unadventurous.  He’s comfortable within his own head.  He’s clearly talented and likes to draw but otherwise his life is pretty mundane.  Clementine on the other hand is more of an extrovert – outspoken, forward and defiant.  It’s a relationship that probably shouldn’t work but their qualities make them attractive.  Clementine brings excitement for Joel, allowing him to do something out of his comfort zone.  Joel brings stability and reassurance, accepting Clementine’s personality for what it is without compromise.

The greatest strength of the film is that their relationship is presented as honest and real.  Nothing feels clichéd or predictable.  When their relationship does fall apart, you can’t help but go through the motions with them and the actual reason for the break up will seem silly as an outsider.

Cleverly, Joel’s erasure of his memory occurs backwards from the time of the break up, ending to where he met Clementine for the first time.  You see Joel’s world literally falling apart, a visual representation of the hurt and anger he was experiencing – a scene helped with brilliant visual effects.

But are all memories bad?  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind says no and over the course of the film, Joel changes his mind despite being physically powerless to do so.  With the help of Clementine (the dream version in his head) he runs and battles against the deletion by creating scenarios in his mind where the machine couldn’t find him.  On the flip side, the real Clementine who already had the procedure is not the vibrant, confident girl that you witnessed at the beginning of the film.  She’s lost, manic and feels disconnected.  Her new boyfriend Patrick might be saying all the right things to her but it fails to put her mind at ease.  Something is missing in her life but she can’t remember what.

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That’s what special about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Memories both good and bad can define a person.  It shapes your personality and character.  What this film has in abundance is the acknowledgement of sentiment, living and embracing your life.  The negative memories will hurt, as they should do but it portrays the positives ones as something you should hold onto and treasure.  It makes life worth living.

For Joel and Clementine, being together is what made them whole. The film does strike a chord even if this is not your type of movie.  There are plenty of identifiable and personal moments that you as the audience can relate to.  Lacuna Inc. may have perfected a procedure to erase your thoughts but there is no perfect formula for love and at times, it can’t be explained.  If your relationship is based on a lie (e.g. Patrick and Clementine), then the foundations will crumble.  What Joel and Clementine have is something magnetic that kept pulling them together in every bizarre situation without them realising it.  That is something that Lacuna Inc. didn’t count on.  They were so busy fulfilling a misguided duty that in the end it exposed their own hypocrisy and business practice.  To them everything was a quick fix without addressing the real problem.

“Come back and make up a good-bye at least. Let’s pretend we had one.” – Clementine

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey are fantastic and once again it proves that Jim Carrey is a man of many talents.  He’s not limited to comedy and can do something dramatic.  For me, this is up there with his performance in The Truman Show.  It’s great to see him as an everyman character.  He’s famous for playing eccentric characters, but in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he underplays it.  He is often reacting to the dream scenarios around him rather than being the direct cause of it.  The technicians from Lacuna Inc. deliver the eccentricity and humorous nature of film.  Joel and Clementine deliver the heart.

Aided with a beautiful soundtrack by Jon Brion, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a deep and emotional exploration on the nature of relationships.  It breaks down each moment of Joel and Clementine’s relationship into sizable chunks because in the end, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  The ending is left up to the audience to interpret which can be viewed as optimistic or pessimistic but it’s a film worth watching again and again because of the underlying messages it conveys.  It’s a wonderful, unique and enjoyable movie.

Or as Joel would say, it’s nice.