Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2020

Hi All. Hope everyone is healthy & well. Guess I better catch up on these monthly roundups before the end of this shitty year. Here’s what I watched back in July. If I can remember enough to say anything about each of these all these months later… !

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Infinity Chamber – This was decent. One of those movies where the concept was better than the execution but they did well enough on what I assume was a low budget. Here’s the really short synopsis from IMDb: “A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape.” I’m a big fan of sci-fi & of a good sci-fi story so I’ll watch anything in this genre if I like the sound of it. With these lesser known films, you sometimes find some gems (Circle was pretty great) and you sometimes get some duds. Infinity Chamber is at the better end of things but I’d only recommend it to fans of this genre. I was hoping for a bit more, though. I didn’t feel that we got to know the main character well enough & I wanted to be able to sympathise with this poor guy stuck in this automated prison. And, to be honest, I found the plot a little hard to follow. Although I admit I’m not the brightest & often get confused watching complicated sci-fi but the story could have been a little more coherent.

Speaking of lesser known films, though, this film starred Christopher Soren Kelly who was also in a movie I’m happy to have the opportunity to now mention again: The Frame. Another sci-fi film with a fantastic idea, I highly recommend The Frame (on Amazon Prime – I reviewed it HERE). So watch that first! Then watch Circle (not that crappy Tom Hanks movieTHIS Circle). I actually had the actors from both The Frame & Circle thank me on my blog & Twitter for praising those movies. I love when that happens! Those involved with these independent films appreciate it when you enjoy their work so I do try to support films like these. I want to give Infinity Chamber a higher rating than this as I do very much appreciate that stuff like this gets made. I’m always afraid that stuff like this doesn’t always get given a chance so, despite my somewhat “meh” review, do check it out if you’re a sci-fi fan. – 6.5/10

No Country For Old Men – I finally watched this to get it off of two lists I’ve been trying to work my way through: The IMDb Top 250 & Best Picture Oscar Winners. Guess I need to update both those ranked lists but No Country For Old Men will unfortunately be quite far down both lists. I’ve just never been a Coen Brothers fan. Sorry! Is that allowed for a movie blogger?! (FYI – I also hate Wes Anderson movies). Well, I don’t hate the Coen Brothers films. At all. I just don’t exactly like them either. I recognise that they’re good films and, once again, No Country For Old Men is a very good film with some brilliant acting and a truly despicable & hateful character. I guess Javier Bardem was deserving of his Oscar win since I did truly hate his character, as we’re meant to. What can I say? I’ve never liked “the baddies”. I’m always rooting for the good guy & I want to see evil get its comeuppance so most Coen Brothers films aren’t for me. Although I realise their films are never as simple as pure good vs. pure evil, as Josh Brolin’s character in this isn’t exactly a saint. But we see the bad guys win in real life enough so I don’t really need to see it in movies. Yet I love dystopian sci-fi & am a big pessimist & often a fan of a truly depressing movie ending, so… I don’t know exactly why I don’t get on with the Coen Brothers films. Hmm. It’s a good film so I’ll give it a slightly higher rating than I feel like giving it. Plus I don’t want to be yelled at. Not that anyone reads this blog… – 7/10

Wildflower – How the HELL did a movie exist in 1991 starring Patricia Arquette & Reese Witherspoon without me knowing about it?! I was still in high school at that point & this is the type of movie I’d have watched to death. I think it may have been a TV movie? But I somehow missed out on it. I can think of plenty of TV movies I watched to death at that sort of time: The Stepford Children, I Saw What You Did, In A Child’s Name, and this great little Winona Ryder thing called Square Dance, aka Home Is Where The Heart Is, which was kind of similar to Wildflower. Shit, I want to track down that Winona movie & watch it again! Bet it hasn’t aged well. But I’ll always be fond of it in the same way I’m sure I’d have been fond of Wildflower if I’d seen it in high school instead of now. And I thoroughly enjoyed Wildflower as I’m a fan of the actresses & am always happy to discover unseen movies from my teen years as I honestly feel like I’ve seen them all by now. Is it a good movie? Meh. It’s fine. The acting is okay. It does very much feel like a film with a TV movie budget. But I liked the characters and, as you can tell from my No Country For Old Men review, that’s important to me. I enjoyed this. Wish I’d seen it as a teenager. – 6.5/10

She’s Gotta Have It – This is an interesting film to follow the above two as, clearly, I often like films that I can “relate” to. Wildflower has actresses my kind of age (sort of) so I know why I liked it as I was that age in 1991 & it’s somewhat a coming of age story. I can’t relate to anyone in No Country For Old Men in any way whatsoever. But I also can’t relate to anyone in She’s Gotta Have It. However, I liked it much more than No Country For Old Men. I’d possibly even rank it higher (I find it hard to “rank” very different types of films when I do these lists). I of course love to see a strong, independent woman in a movie so I really liked the character of Nola Darling (played by Tracy Camilla Johns). I also liked the men all fighting for her affections as they had such different & entertaining personalities. I kept changing my mind on who she should choose (not any of these men, really – they were idiots!). I fully admit to not seeing many of Spike Lee’s movies other than Do The Right Thing, which I thought was a great film (I’d rank that far above No Country For Old Men). Of course I’m not going to exactly relate to his films being a small town Midwest girl but a good film with good writing is something I’ll always appreciate. I enjoyed the conversations in She’s Gotta Have It. It’s so New York. Or at least how I imagine that big city I’ve never ever been to. I think a lot of people in this world are probably a little fascinated with New York as there are SO many movies set there and I like seeing a slice of life so different from my own. I enjoyed this movie more than I was expecting to & would like to see more of Lee’s work, especially from that late ’80s/early ’90s time period. Any recommendations? – 6.5/10

The Borderlands – I love a good horror. We get so few good horror films these days. This one was… Okay. Not even close to being a great modern horror (like It Follows, Train To Busan or The Babadook). But it was a perfectly decent example of the found footage & religious horror subgenres & had a good creepy atmosphere. I also kind of liked the ending as it got a bit weird. I like some weirdness! The whole thing could have done with more of that. I have NO clue why but this one made me think of horror movie The Ritual. That was an odd one. Oh, probably just because they’re both British. Anyway, The Ritual has gone up a bit in my estimation since I first saw it. That one was better. But if you like that, you might like this. And vice versa. – 6/10

Blades Of Glory – Sometimes you want to chill out with a dumb comedy. I don’t give comedy films enough of a chance as I hate so many of them, especially nowadays. So I tried to be open-minded! But this was disappointing. A little too dumb. Maybe I chuckled once? Can’t remember. Saw this four months ago now & already barely remember it. Meh. Will Ferrell is very hit or miss & this was a miss. – 5/10

Step Brothers – Ugh. This movie was truly dreadful. I actually watched it immediately after Blades Of Glory as I thought it looked like it would be the better of the two and I like John C. Reilly sometimes. I was so wrong! I think it made me appreciate Blades Of Glory more. Dumb & immature jokes and two grown men acting like hateful teenagers. Another big Will Ferrell miss! I’ll stick to SNL Celebrity Jeopardy & Elf. And, hell, that Eurovision movie too as it was surprisingly enjoyable. Cheesy but enjoyable. Step Brothers was just painful. Do people not moan when grown women act immature in things like Bridesmaids?! Why is it okay when grown men do the same sort of so-called comedy? (For the record, Bridesmaids isn’t my type of thing either but the comedy in that was a hell of a lot better than in this piece of crap. I at least get some laughs out of Bridesmaids). – 4/10

Golden Time – This was an animated short on Netflix. I forgot about it until I noticed it listed here all these months later. It was fine. It was certainly better than those two dumb Will Ferrell comedies but it’s just a short so I’m sticking it at the end of my list. And I’m not rating it either. Because it’s four months later & fuck if I remember much about it now!! It was about a TV in a junkyard. I think. What an amazing review! Wow I suck at blogging these days. I probably liked it because there were anthropomorphic inanimate objects. A favorite thing of mine! I used to do a series on this blog called Anthropomorphic Cuteness. I miss doing those posts.

Movies Rewatched In July:

Already reviewed most of these in the past (in the links below). I seem to have spent lockdown re-watching movies more than watching ones for the first time. I’m missing first-time watches, but what’s on offer on the services isn’t great…

Weird Science – I will always love John Hughes movies (which is why I did a big John Hughes Blogathon here years ago. Ah – the good ‘ol blog days. Happy times…) – 8.5/10

The Truman Show – Finally introduced the kid to this one. Think she liked it. I think it’s a great film & that Jim Carrey was perfect for the role. I remember the movie seeming a little exaggerated at the time. Not now! We’re certainly living in this sort of reality show nightmare now. They tried to warn us! – 8/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Meh. The first two films (and books) are so much better. But the kid thoroughly enjoyed these films. – 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Still hate how this book ended… But still think Jennifer Lawrence was born to play Katniss. – 7/10

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – Showed the kid the other (and main) side of Jim Carrey with this one. Should I admit that? It’s a bit inappropriate. Screw it – I saw stuff no less inappropriate at her age. And she of course loved it when he talked with his butt. Kids are so immature… (Speaking of dumb comedy like when I bitched about Step Brothers, I know Ace Ventura is dumb too. But I like it. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

BOOKS READ

Flight Or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King & Bev Vincent – Enjoyed this. I really like short story collections, especially in the horror or sci-fi genres. I’m not going to go into each story but, if you like Stephen King’s stuff (or his son Joe Hill’s), you’d like this collection of stories from various authors both well-known & not so well-known. They’re all stories revolving around airplanes and/or flying. So don’t read it while on a flight! Not that anyone can fly anywhere at the moment anyway… – 3.5/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz books. They’re a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I ranked them all HERE once. Well, I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Well, I made no notes here of what I watched so I guess I watched no TV shows in July. Let’s be honest – only The Mandalorian & Cobra Kai are worth watching anyway. Those are the only shows I’ve truly enjoyed in years.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Umm. Maybe I’ll attempt to post my monthly roundups for August, September & October? If I can be bothered. šŸ™‚ I’ve watched nothing that great anyway. Except The Platform! That was good. Man, I can’t wait to see Pixar’s Soul at the end of December…

I always try to end these roundups with good music from a movie that I watched that month. Think I’ll go with something from Weird Science. John Hughes always chose the best music for his movies. This is my absolute favorite song from Weird Science & an overall Eighties favorite of mine – here’s Tenderness by General Public:

The Frame, The Fits & Before I Fall Movie Reviews

Here are three quickie reviews for three more movies before I post my 2017 end-of-year lists. Two are 2017 (UK release) films & I try to review all current movies by the end of the year. The other one is just one that I really really liked. Here we go…

The Fits (2015)

Directed by Anna Rose Holmer

Starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Da’Sean Minor, Lauren Gibson, Makyla Burnam, Inayah Rodgers, Antonio A. B. Grant Jr.

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Toni (Royalty Hightower), an 11-year-old tomboy who struggles to fit into a girlsā€™ dance troupe, which begins to suffer from an inexplicable epidemic of violent fits.

My Opinion:

This film is a hard one to explain. It’s indie as f*^k and I’d never ever recommend it to anyone other than hardcore film fans (like you guys!). Yeah, it’s one of those festival films so it’s 2015 but was only released in the UK this year. It’s good. It’s “arty”. Royalty Hightower, who plays the “11-year-old tomboy”, is the best thing about it. From what I read, a real life dance team was found for this film and Hightower was one of them. She feels very real, probably due to the fact that she wasn’t an actor. I think, with young people in films, it’s sometimes better when they aren’t from an acting background as actors can come across as too fake.

I watched this because I was intrigued by the synopsis (and also because I was short on time & it’s only 1 hour & 12 minutes!). I read this at Wikipedia, which explains where director & writer Anna Rose Holmer got the idea for the film:

“While developing the script, Holmer was inspired by real-life stories of communities succumbing to fits of hysteria. She first became interested in historic cases of mass psychogenic illness and conversion disorder while producing Ballet 422 (2014). Examples of outbreaks of seizure-like attacks and uncontrollable spasms date back to the Middle Ages, but there are still cases of this occurring today. In 2007, a group of high school girls in Virginia suffered from “twitching arms and legs” that eventually resolved itself. Holmer’s research into this subject, specifically cases like the Dancing Plague, and the pattern of these fits emerging amongst young women inspired her to explore the nature of this subject in a coming of age dance-film.”

Bizarre. I’ve never heard of this sort of thing. Anyway, if you watch this, don’t expect a straightforward exploration of this topic. Or any exploration whatsoever. The film is quite atmospheric, which is something I enjoy but won’t be to everyone’s taste. This probably isn’t a great comparison but this film reminded me a little bit of the feeling I had while watching Picnic At Hanging RockPicnic is certainly the better film but I liked the mysterious tension throughout The Fits. It deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it but I have to say this is one of those movies that you’re unlikely to watch more than once and a lot of people would find it very slow & be frustrated by its lack of explanation. It’s very well made and I loved its originality, however, and I liked how “real” the characters felt. I’d be interested in seeing more films made by Anna Rose Holmer. 

My Rating: 6.5/10

Before I Fall (2017)

Directed by Ry Russo-Young

Based on Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Jennifer Beals, Diego Boneta, Elena Kampouris

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life, until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over and over, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s losing.

My Opinion:

Teen movie based on a YA novel! Once again, I’ll admit to still enjoying teen movies & YA fiction. Us adults were teens once – we can still relate! I was actually going to read this book before the movie but gave up after having it on reserve at the library for ages. Yeah, the library! I’m a library nerd. I realized fairly recently that, like, you can read books from there for free. šŸ˜‰

Anyway. This is Groundhog Day with the twist being that this pretty teenage girl has to relive the last day of her life over & over again. She tries to make changes each time to see if she can stop the cycle, which always results in her death at the end of the day. Zoey Deutch plays the main girl. She’s so adorable. She looks soooo much like her mom Lea Thompson!

I really enjoyed this movie. It certainly won’t be winning any Oscars and the plot felt far from original but I love the “Groundhog Day story” that has been done so many times (I badly wanted to see Happy Death Day this year as well but didn’t manage it). It’s always fun to see the different ways this storyline can play out. I’m not sure why this didn’t come out in cinemas in the UK like it was originally meant to as it’s better than half the shit that gets a cinema release.

I can’t give this a higher rating as I have to admit that, while it’s fun & I liked it far more than I was expecting, it still felt quite shallow. The whole point is that Deutch’s popular character starts to see what life is like for those in her high school who don’t have it as easy as she does. Her boyfriend and her circle of friends are the popular assholes that most of us despised in school. Deutch is the “nice one” of the group anyway so it feels unfair that she’s the one with this fate. The story also feels a bit too forced and the characters are extremely one-dimensional. Other than Deutch, everyone is a “popular asshole!” or “unhappy & uncool nerd!”. Teenagers are more complex than that. Still, I liked this movie. Deutch has her mother’s charm. Also, this movie has a Grimes song in it (Genesis)! I love Grimes (I wrote about her HERE). I’ve included the video for Genesis at the end of this post.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Frame (2014)

Directed & Written & Music by Jamin Winans

Starring: David Carranza, Tiffany Mualem, Cal Bartlett, Christopher Soren Kelly, Anthony Nuccio

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two strangers find their lives colliding in an impossible way. Alex is a methodical cargo thief working for a dangerous cartel. Sam is a determined paramedic trying to save the world while running from her past.

My Opinion:

I loved this movie. One of my favorite blogs here is mossfilm because he’s introduced me to a lot of great obscure sci-fi movies that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. The Frame is one of these films. I’m not going to say a lot about it as his review is PERFECT (you can read it HERE). This is my favorite genre and I love when we get a film like The Frame, which feels truly fresh & original. It’s a bit arty smarty-pants but I loved the story and the fantastic visuals.

I don’t know how to discuss this one without giving too much away. The mossfilm review does say a bit about the plot if you’re interested. I think, if you love this genre and like to see a story which will surprise you & keep you guessing, you may be best going into this one knowing as little as possible. I’ll say that it tackles some interesting themes (like faith & fate) and I think it’s one from which different viewers will come away with different questions and feelings about it. For me, I saw it as a very unique love story and I thought the two main characters were fantastic (Alex the cargo thief played by David Carranza and Sam the paramedic played by Tiffany Mualem). Others will see it as something far deeper than the simple love story at its core (and it is) but, more than anything, the story itself is damn good. I watch a lot of movies so I get bored seeing the same predictable stories over & over again. I want more stuff like The Frame. I’ll never forget watching it, whereas I forget half the mainstream movies that I watch a year or so after seeing them.

I so want to talk more about this movie but I’m trying to avoid spoilers! Can someone else please watch it so we can discuss it?? šŸ˜‰ The Frame is currently available on Amazon Prime Video in the UK & I highly recommend checking it out before it disappears since it’s an obscure one that could later be hard to find. Here’s a spoiler-free way of describing it: The Frame is like a really good long episode of Black Mirror. But more arty. And what I’ve seen of Black Mirror so far is great. Watch The Frame.

My Rating: 8/10

There are a couple of trailers for The Frame. One gives away too much of the story so I don’t recommend that one. The one below shows only images from the film. Still, I recommend knowing nothing beforehand but this is the safer trailer if you’re interested:

And this is the video for the Grimes song Genesis in Before I Fall. It’s weird. I love it.