Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2021

Happy April! Hope everyone had a nice Easter. Here’s my monthly roundup of all I watched & read in March. As there was so much, here’s a list of everything I’m reviewing. So you can decide now if you can be bothered to scroll through all my blathering below… 🙂

Moxie, Elvis And Anabelle, Papillon, Annie Hall, Mank, Toys, Skate Kitchen, His House, Flipped, Coming 2 America, She Dies Tomorrow, Yes Day, The Hustle, Unfriended, Edge Of Tomorrow, Big Hero 6, Krush Groove, Can’t Buy Me Love, Deadpool 2, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dodgeball, WandaVision, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, Ted Lasso, Battlestar Galactica, Raising Hope, The Crown, The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us, The Long Walk & Rage by Stephen King

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst):

Moxie – Really enjoyed this one. I’ll always like YA movies and I’ll always like “fighting back against an unfair system” movies. In this one, the girls in an American high school fight back against sexism. The main girl is inspired by her mom’s “Riot grrrl” past & by a new outspoken girl at her school who doesn’t take any shit from the main sexist jock. She starts an anonymous ‘zine she calls Moxie after getting the idea when finding old zines from her mother’s past. Several girls who’ve had enough with the sexism soon join together & start trying to make a difference.

It’s sad to know American high schools are still like this? I remember being in high school in the late ’80s/early ’90s and the jocks in my school were exactly like the main prick in this movie. I also liked how the movie pointed out the way in which male athletes are rewarded and how female sports are completely ignored. Not that I give a shit about that as I hate sports & sucked at them all but I never understood the complete obsession with stupid male teen high school sports in small town America?! And the fact that no one ever gave a shit about the girls sports and, in my school’s case, the girls’ basketball team was far more successful than any other teams.

Obviously, I’m old now (more the age of the director & the mom in this movie, Amy Poehler). So I could relate to her but also to the daughter taking inspiration from her mother’s cool Gen X past. Let’s hear it for Gen X! I’m liking this Gen X & Gen Z (or is it Gen A??) thing. Same as with Cobra Kai – that show was loads of fun and the interactions between the two generations were great.

I think I enjoyed this movie more than I want to admit. I want to give it a slightly higher rating but think I’d not be taken seriously as a movie blogger or some shit. (As if anyone takes me seriously?!). But I still have more affection for stuff from my own generation and this reminded me again just how much I adore the film Pump Up The Volume. Watch that if you liked Moxie! This also gave me Whip It vibes. Love that too! Honestly, I just think I’ll never grow up and will always secretly want to be a riot grrrl/roller derby/pirate radio DJ chick sticking it to the man. – 7/10

Elvis And Anabelle – I have to thank Claire from Cinematic Delights for mentioning this one as I’d never even heard of it so would likely have never noticed it on Amazon Prime. Wonder why it’s not more well known? I always like an offbeat romance & this weird IMDb plot synopsis appealed to me: “Dying after being crowned Miss Texas Rose, Anabelle comes alive just before Elvis embalms her. He does his ailing dad’s work. Anabelle later returns to the embalmer’s farm to get away from her mom and be happy.” Macabre! I like that. It’s not creepy or anything, though. Blake Lively is lovely as always (she’s so pretty I want to barf – hubby thinks I have a girl crush on her but Drew Barrymore is my true love) and has a decent chemistry with Max Minghella in that “two lost souls finding each other” kind of way that only happens in movies. Joe Mantegna plays his father and he’s really sweet & likeable and it’s one of those movies where you just want everyone to be happy. It’s not overly soppy, though, which is great because I hate that. Have to say I really liked the ending as well. It was quite beautiful but not in a contrived sort of way. Very nice. A romance film done right. Hey, I have one to recommend if you like offbeat romances: Untamed Heart with Christian Slater. Ohh I love that one! Need to rewatch that. – 7/10

Papillon – I watched this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge. As with many from the 2013 list I’m working from, this one is no longer in the Top 250. I’m not normally a fan of prison movies but some, such as The Shawshank Redemption & Escape From Alcatraz, are great. This one reminded me more of Midnight Express in that it’s GRIM but unfortunately doesn’t have an awesome Giorgio Moroder score like that one does.

I just didn’t connect with these characters. I don’t know if I missed something but… Why were they all in prison? Was Steve McQueen’s Papillon character (Henri Charrière) falsely accused? (Yes, apparently so – I just looked it up and it’s based on Charrière’s autobiography). The character development just wasn’t as good as in similar films, making it even harder to sit through the dreary realities of the horrible times Charrière & his fellow inmates had to endure in prison. McQueen & Dustin Hoffman were both very good, though, and had a good friendship along with another character I really liked named André Maturette. Together they formed an escape plot and I thought the final 20 minutes or so were very good. I’d say it’s one of those movies where you feel like you’ve gone on this terrible journey right along with the characters. I felt a bit drained by the end. It’s definitely a good film but it’s depressing and just didn’t work as well for me as the other prison films I mentioned. – 7/10

Annie Hall – I watched this one as part of both my IMDb Top 250 Challenge & Best Picture Project. Was hoping to like it despite really not liking Woody Allen. I’ve not seen enough of his movies to really judge what I think of his work yet, though (I’ve now seen three). I liked Midnight In Paris okay. I watched Manhattan a while ago as it’s also in the Top 250 and I definitely enjoyed Annie Hall more, especially as he’s not sleeping with a 17-year-old in this one. I won’t get into Allen’s life, though, as I needed to watch this for these projects so will just discuss the movie.

Diane Keaton is delightful in this but I’ve always kind of liked Keaton and her ugly trousers. Not sure if Allen’s whole neurotic humor thing works for me. Okay, I’m lying – it kind of does as I’m a bit neurotic too. I don’t hate Allen’s writing. Yes, I liked some of the humor & the conversations. Their relationship was fun to watch. I also like movies that are sooooo “New York“. I’ve never been to the city but I find it fascinating in that it’s the focus of so many movies and feels so completely foreign to me despite being American. I grew up in a tiny farming community in the Midwest so New York City is a mystery to me. I’d love to visit but, man, I’d hate to live in a big city. So I can’t fully relate to the lives of those in Allen’s films but I like that the city is just as much a character as are the actors. I liked this movie. I didn’t love it. It’s a well written rom-com & I can see why it has its fans, especially for those who can relate more than I can to these characters.

Let’s see what it beat to win Best Picture: The Goodbye Girl, Julia, Star Wars & The Turning Point. Wait… It beat A New Hope?! Okay, now I hate Annie Hall!!! (just kidding). But I obviously love Star Wars far more than Annie Hall. Wow – I’ve seen none of the other nominees. How embarrassing. – 7/10

Mank – Wank! Sorry, had to say that. I’m juvenile. No, Mank isn’t bad but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this one pretty boring. Yes, I only watched it as it has so many Oscar nominations. My film taste is kind of all over the place. I absolutely adore some “Oscar worthy” films while I find others a complete snoozefest. I just feel bad that I’ve “reviewed” three worthy films in a row here and I was very meh about them. So I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea & think that I can’t appreciate a well made film (even if, yes, I’d rather watch something like Aliens). In fact, I’ve just now finished watching another Top 250 film I assumed I wouldn’t like at all (Battleship Potemkin). Wow – that was good!

Mank, as well as the film it’s about making (I wrote a rubbish review of Citizen Kane here), just aren’t my kind of thing. As I said when trying to explain this in my Citizen Kane review, I just prefer the grand, sweeping epics that used to get nominated for Oscars. Mank is a good film. I really like Gary Oldman and he was as good here as he always is. Amanda Seyfried was also very good and I don’t like her at all. The story was interesting and, being a film lover, I do like movies that are about movies or filmmaking (such as the one I named my blog after, the brilliant Cinema Paradiso). So I enjoyed that aspect although I’d have liked to see much more of the actual filmmaking process. Did they even show Oldman writing Citizen Kane at all, for crying out loud?! Probably – I just wasn’t paying much attention. The film does pick up at the end and the final couple of scenes were very good but it felt like it took a long time to get to them. – 7/10

Toys – I can’t believe I never saw this 1992 Robin Williams film as I really like Williams (RIP). I also love the ’80s & early ’90s & don’t think there are many movies I haven’t seen from then. Being in my late teens then, I may have skipped this as the name & cover made it seem like a family movie kids would like? Oh my god, this definitely isn’t a movie aimed at kids. I don’t think? Although some kids may have liked it. I don’t know who the hell this movie is aimed at?! It’s weird as shit. It’s also quite a terrible movie (I did wonder why it had such a low IMDb rating). But… I also kind of liked it despite thinking the story was a complete & utter mess. The movie itself has such a great look. I’m a sucker for that. If a movie looks beautiful & has a great score, I can ignore any faults (it’s what makes me love some of the Dario Argento horrors & Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns). Not that this movie is anywhere near the genius of those films but I did appreciate its atmosphere and quite liked Joan Cusack’s bizarre character. Hans Zimmer & Trevor Horn did the music for Toys and there are some catchy songs, including one at the beginning that fans of the film seem to really like. There’s also a fun sequence where Williams & Cusack make a music video that reminded me of Talking Heads & Devo videos and man I miss that era of MTV.

I just read at Wikipedia that this was nominated for Razzies as well as Oscars: “Director Barry Levinson was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Director. The film did, however, receive Oscar nominations for Art Direction and Costume Design.” Yep! I can see why. And here’s a bit about the design of it: “Italian designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti spent over one year designing the film’s sumptuous sets, which took over every sound stage at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. René Magritte’s art, particularly The Son of Man, is obvious in its influence on the set design, and in part the costume design, of the film.

So, yeah, this was a weird one. It’s mostly awful yet I can also see some people absolutely loving it (from the comments at IMDb, it definitely has fans). I think I’d have affection for this one if I’d seen it at the time. I think I may actually have some affection for it now – it’s one I think I’ve talked myself into liking more by writing about it. That happens sometimes. Would love to know other peoples’ thoughts if they’ve seen this? I do like when a movie is completely unpredictable & I definitely didn’t know what the hell was going to happen in this one. Unique films are always better than boring films. Toys is unique. – 6.5/10

Skate Kitchen – This was enjoyable but definitely not for everyone. It’s the kind of indie movie that I like, focusing on characters just living their lives. You know, one of those indie films that doesn’t really have much of a plot. If you like that kind of genre, you might like this. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “Rachelle Vinberg stars as Camille, a teenage girl who befriends a group of female skateboarders in New York City. It is inspired by the real group of female skaters based in New York who call themselves “Skate Kitchen”, and features the group’s members playing fictionalized versions of themselves. It’s a drama so not as much fun as something like Richard Linklater’s “characters just living their lives” Dazed And Confused or similar. I guess I like at least a little comedy in this kind of movie. But I liked the friendships in this & it was nice to see a group of female skaters for a change. Ouch, though – that first scene made me glad I never tried skateboarding in my youth! – 6.5/10

His House – This was better than I was expecting. This is the Wikipedia plot synopsis, which makes it obvious what the film is really about: “The film tells the story of a refugee couple from South Sudan, struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.” But I was hoping for a decent haunted house story as well as I love a good supernatural horror. I did enjoy that, although it took quite a while to get going and wasn’t as creepy or scary as I was hoping from the Netflix image of the face peeking through the hole in the wall. But then the story takes a twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting at all and I liked that a lot. Movies rarely catch me off guard so I’m surprised I didn’t see that coming but I do like when a movie surprises me. The film could’ve been better overall but at least the ending made up for the slow start. I think most horror movies have terrible endings (why do they never know how to end?!) so it’s nice to see one that ends well. – 6.5/10

Flipped – This was… Nice? Safe? In other words: Boring & forgettable. I’d never heard of this but noticed it was directed by Rob Reiner, who directed so many all-time favorites of mine (Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap). Flipped certainly doesn’t live up to those, although it’s a pleasant enough “first love” movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Starring Callan McAuliffe, Madeline Carroll, Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller, Aidan Quinn, and Kevin Weisman, the film tells the story of two eighth graders who start to have feelings for each other, despite being total opposites.” Yes, that’s all it is. It’s a nice film. The girl is likeable & John Mahoney is great as the grandfather of the boy, who strikes up a lovely friendship with the young girl. – 6/10

Coming 2 America – This had some fun moments & I really liked seeing these characters together again. And James Earl Jones & Morgan Freeman & their VOICES together in one movie?! Excellent! Love them. But, man, this movie was disappointing overall and did they seriously include that Leslie Jones scene in this day & age?! They’d have gotten away with that if it had been in the 1988 film. The story (revolving around that scene, really) was just a bit lame and the comedy didn’t work the way it did in the first film. I suppose that kind of comedy is just too dated now? But I’ll always have affection for 80’s comedy so I’m not really complaining – I just imagine no one other than fans of the original would like this sequel.

As I said, though – it was good to see Eddie Murphy & so many characters from the first movie again plus we got some good new ones. Wesley Snipes was surprisingly funny and the oldest daughter of Prince Akeem was great & should have been given more screen time than the son (and the other daughters who were completely ignored). Leslie Jones was as obnoxious as always but Shari Headley looked amazing & they sang The Humpty Dance which I still love way more than I should (& is also probably inappropriate in this day & age but, whatever – I’m Gen X so not easily offended). They just needed to make this sequel much sooner – it would have worked better in the ’90s. – 5.5/10

She Dies Tomorrow – This one was a little too pretentious for my liking. Not gonna lie – I like this kind of thing sometimes. You know, the kind of films only movie bloggers like but the general public hate because they just want a movie to actually be entertaining? Who can blame them?? But I was intrigued by the plot (a woman thinks she’s gonna die tomorrow & it puts the idea into the heads of others that they’re also going to die – a really happy pandemic movie!). It’s just one of those movies where none of the characters are likeable, everyone is self-absorbed, and the story is just this meandering mess that gives us no answers. I’m not someone who expects answers in every movie, though – I just appreciate when I can at least follow the damn storyline. Like, there are bits with an old boyfriend that I didn’t realise were flashbacks (I think??). I don’t know. I didn’t know what was going on but I didn’t care. If you liked I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, you might like this one too. It’s got a similar vibe (although that one was definitely much better than this). I’ll give this movie credit for having an original idea, at least. – 5/10

Yes Day – I still like it when fun family films are made as it feels like this genre has really died off since the ’80s & ’90s. This genre is full of a lot of pretty shit films, though. Some are good & are movies that all ages can enjoy but this one doesn’t quite work for the whole family. I can see kids liking it much more than parents and the very best family films should be aimed at least a little bit at the adults as well as at the kids. It starts out okay & it’s at first fun to see the kids get their “yes day” where the parents can’t say no to anything they suggest (within reason). It results in some fun family adventures where the parents of course learn that they should make more time to just have fun. Where it falls apart in the end is when the kids go overboard and, overall, the kids were a bit too bratty to care about. I think the parents learned their lesson more than the kids did (except the older girl a bit). The movie is fine. I’m being a little harsh. It’s just quite forgettable & there are better family films out there. – 5/10

The Hustle – Ugh. This was pretty terrible. Not gonna lie: I quite like Rebel Wilson but I can absolutely understand how her comedy is definitely not for everyone. If you hate her, you’ll hate this. I got some enjoyment out of her usual ridiculous behavior but Anne Hathaway & her awful accent were hard to take. I agree with what (I think Wilson but maybe Hathaway) said about this in that female comedy doesn’t get the same respect as male comedy as I think they originally gave this a higher rating for some slightly crude humor that was no more crude than in similar male comedies that were PG. True. I do NOT love Bridesmaids but say all the time that I don’t understand The Hangover having a much higher IMDb rating when, as far as dumb comedies go, Bridesmaids is far better than that one at least. I don’t think anyone should use The Hustle in this argument, though, as it’s pretty damn bad. There are far better crude female comedies and, sorry, the male film this one is based on (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) is far superior in this case. – 5/10

Unfriended – Oh my god I HATED THIS. Almost to the point where I wish I’d never watched it. I’ll say it actually starts out okay & it was a decent idea for a film (but was done much better later on in Searching, which I really enjoyed). It’s all done via video chat, etc, so you’re looking at these twats on their screens the whole time. As with the found footage gimmick, this newer gimmick will be a “love it or hate it” for viewers but it works a bit better than you’d expect. The issue I had with the movie is that it became far too cruel & by the end I’d never wanted horror movie characters to get killed off as much as these assholes. And the final half hour was just those remaining all crying & SCREAMING into their screens and I just wanted them to shut the hell up.

I’m also extremely uncomfortable with the topic of Internet bullying. In this film, a girl kills herself after she is bullied when a very humiliating video of her is shared. It’s interesting that the film makes it clear she was a pretty terrible person herself but the point is that nobody deserves that treatment. And she killed herself over a video that the movie then shows in a very exploitative way, so it felt irresponsible that the film isn’t really at all making a point that you shouldn’t bully people so much that they commit suicide. In fact, the bullied girl is even kind of made into the villain of this story while (I think) we’re meant to feel bad for the bullies being killed off for their involvement? Not that we should be expecting a dumb teen horror movie to have a moral responsibility but the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way.

But I’m obviously from a generation where our every move wasn’t recorded & uploaded when we were teenagers. I am so thankful for that & hate that my kid is growing up in a social media world. I realise that here I am blogging to strangers and I do enjoy getting my geeky movie thoughts out into a world where there are other people with similar interests unlike anyone I know for real. But, man, I wish social media didn’t exist. I’d go back to the ’80s way of life in a heartbeat. High school was hard enough back then & I feel awful for anyone who now has to go through it during this Orwellian nightmare.

Wow, I say a lot about movies I hate! Barely said a thing about the “worthy” films in this post. I think Unfriended is now my most hated movie since starting this blog in 2012 although there are others I’ve given lower ratings. That’s because, for the throwaway slasher horror genre, this isn’t a truly bad film. The acting isn’t dreadful. And I’m not a fan of gore but, for those who are, this admittedly had some inventive kills involving household appliances. They were silly as hell and would’ve felt more appropriate in a horror comedy but at least the truly hateful characters were deserving of their dumb slasher movie deaths. – 4/10

Movies Rewatched In March:

Edge Of Tomorrow – Already reviewed this in full so don’t have to say much. Still think it’s a great sci-fi film & one of Tom Cruise’s best in years. Plus Emily Blunt’s character is fantastic. – 8/10

Big Hero 6 – This is a lovely film I’ve grown to like even more since seeing it several more times (it’s one of the kid’s favorites). Don’t need to say much as I already reviewed this too but will say again that I love Baymax. Lovable robots are the best! – 7.5/10

Krush Groove – This movie is a big guilty pleasure of mine. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons (renamed Russell Walker in the film), portrayed by Blair Underwood.” Check out this cast!: Blair Underwood, Sheila E., Run-D.M.C. & Jam Master Jay, The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, New Edition, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin. The movie & story are fun but the music is great. Run-DMC are featured the most & have the most music in the film (classics such as King Of Rock, It’s Like That & Can You Rock It Like This). I also love Sheila E. performing A Love Bizarre. But my absolute favorite segment will always be The Fat Boys doing All You Can Eat. Love it. Good cheesy fun! – 7.5/10

Can’t Buy Me Love – This 1987 movie was also a huge guilty pleasure of mine in high school. Still is. I watched this so many times back then. Geeky boy pays popular girl to pretend to be his girlfriend for a while as he believes that will make him popular. FYI: Geeky boy is McDreamy Patrick Dempsey for Grey’s Anatomy fans. Honestly, I can pretty much quote this whole movie.

I think I could relate to the school in this film. My small town was one where there was only one school, so you went to school with the same people from the age of 5 right up to 18. Well, that’s not quite true – our town was so small that we combined schools with another even smaller town when I was about 11. So I made some new friends but still knew those from my own town my whole damn life. And we were all friends until the teen years when it became the popular vs the unpopular. Yeah, I certainly wasn’t one of the popular kids but I was one of those who kind of went off on my own & ignored it all. I got by as I mostly got along with everyone but I hated how some of the unpopular kids were bullied. I think I had it in my head that the popular jock assholes would watch this movie & turn into nice people & all would be right with the world. Ha! Didn’t happen, although I did talk to one of the biggest assholes several years after school & he basically apologised for being such a jerk through all of high school. So maybe that movie shit happens in real life sometimes.

Anyway – this is on Disney Plus U.K. if you’re interested. I still absolutely love it although I admit it’s very ’80s and hasn’t aged quite as well as other teen movies from that time. It’s still pretty relevant, though. Also, I so wanted to be like Amanda Peterson’s character, Cindy Mancini, at the time. I thought she was so pretty. I looked Peterson up a few years ago and she had a horribly tragic life after this film & died at the age of 43. Very sad. But it goes to show that you really don’t know what terrible things someone may be going through so we should all try to be a little nicer, yeah? – 7.5/10

Deadpool 2 – Still think this one is a lot of fun & more funny than the first film. 7/10

10 Things I Hate About You – I know this is a favorite for the generation after mine & I did really like this one too the first time I saw it when it first came out. I still like it although I definitely didn’t like it as much on the rewatch. What a shame. I like Julia Stiles but her character is a little too hateful at times. Even more hateful is her little sister, though. Didn’t remember her being so annoying. However, Heath Ledger (RIP) is still absolutely adorable in this movie so it was nice seeing him in this again. Still a sad loss. – 7/10

Dodgeball – Didn’t enjoy this one as much on the rewatch either. I remembered liking it at the time but thought it was pretty dumb on the rewatch. Who knows? Maybe I was just in a bad mood this time! Have to admit I’m enjoying movies less overall in the past year. Hmm. Maybe I need to get out of the house? – 5.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN MARCH

BOOKS READ

I am re-reading The Bachman Books (a collection of four Stephen King stories originally published under his pen-name Richard Bachman). I don’t normally re-read books but it’s been over 20 years since I read these. I remember absolutely loving one & really liking another but couldn’t remember anything very specific from either. The other two stories I have zero memory of whatsoever. Weird how memory works. I’ve re-read these two of the four so far:

The Long Walk by Stephen King – This was the one I remembered loving. My opinion hasn’t changed. This is a great story and could make such a fantastic movie. I know Frank Darabont had the rights to it for years & I’d been desperate for him to adapt it as he did such a brilliant job with The Green Mile, The Mist and especially The Shawshank Redemption. But I just looked into it and he’s lost the rights (oh no!). There’s a plan for it to now be made by Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark & Trollhunter director André Øvredal. I’m not happy! Did like Trollhunter but was very excited at the thought of Darabont making The Long Walk. Damn.

Anyway, the story is so simple yet so horrifying: In a dystopian reality, each year 100 teenage boys have to walk until only 1 of them is still walking. The final boy wins the big final “prize”. You get to know a few of the characters pretty well, which is what I most care about in a story. This is a short novel, though, so there’s less character development than I’d like and I think this could be one of those occasions where the movie could improve on that if done by the right person (Darabont would’ve been great with the character development!). Oh well. It’s still a great story & I still hope they finally make it into a movie. – 4.5/5

Rage by Stephen King – I can’t believe I didn’t remember a thing about this story as it later became very controversial. In fact, it is no longer being published (which King requested) so I was lucky to get an old copy of The Bachman Books at a charity shop which still includes this story. The topic is one that makes me as angry as the whole social media & bullying thing I went on about above: Guns. The massive gun problem in America in general but especially in schools.

Anyway, King wanted this to stop being published after it was too strongly linked to five school shootings. I won’t go into censorship here (oh boy, another fun topic!) but I’m mostly very much against it. It depends on the situation, though, and King made the right choice. In the story, a troubled teen boy brings a gun to school & holds his class hostage. As far as the topic of guns & school shootings go, that’s not really the focus of this story and the story doesn’t go how you’d expect. I’m trying to stay spoiler free but it’s more about the struggles of growing up & the things that shape you & mental illness & fighting back against authority (maybe – it’s not made all that clear).

I kind of made the story sound better than it is. I don’t think King quite gets his point across in this story as to why this boy does this. At least he doesn’t make you sympathise with the character, which would be very irresponsible as no one should think they have the right to bring a gun into their school. The ending also goes off the rails and I didn’t see the point of that either but at least it ends in an unpredictable way. It’s terrible to think it may have inspired real shootings as it’s not the point of this story (although I’m not sure what the point is) and probably not something King would have expected to come from this short novel. Overall, the story could’ve been better had it made its point a little more clear. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Ted Lasso: Season 1 – Thanks to Eric at Film Miasma for recommending this as I would NOT have watched a TV show about an American football coach coming to the U.K. to coach a British football team. What?! F*^king SPORTS?!? I hate ’em all! But, damn, this show was super enjoyable! Funny, great characters who are really fleshed out including even those in small roles (and some of those small roles are my favorites), and a lot of feelgood shit going on without it feeling all soppy. I’m trying to think of anything bad to point out but I can’t. I even really like the character played by Juno Temple and I can’t stand her! And I love the characters of Nathan and Roy Kent. And of course Jason Sudeikis as super sweet Ted Lasso. I like all these people. I want to hang out with them. Other than the ex-husband, who we’re meant to hate. I want to punch him in the face! Oh, here’s a negative: that theme song sucks. It’s one of those cheesy American sounding sitcom themes. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe they’re being ironic? Ignore it! You can skip it anyway. The show is definitely worth watching (it’s on Apple TV+ in the U.K.). It’s just so damn likeable.

WandaVision: Season 1 Episode 9 & Making Of – I really enjoyed WandaVision despite not being a huge Marvel fan. It felt so different from the movies, which was great. It felt unique & I looked forward to seeing it each week. Didn’t absolutely love the final episode but still think it ended as well as it could have & assume it has been left open to carry on in the films. The Making Of episode was fine but filler. Overall, the show was a pleasant surprise in a shitty year.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: Season 1 Episodes 1-2 – I don’t have much to say about this. It just feels like all superhero movies when they turn into one big dumb action scene after another but this time with lesser characters I never even really liked all that much in the films. I found these first two episodes truly boring. What a huge disappointment after WandaVision!

Battlestar Galactica (1978): Season 1 Episodes 1-3 – This is on the Horror Channel (huh??) in the U.K. so I started watching it as I never saw it. But as it’s live TV, I missed watching any more. Oops. It’s cheesy but fun so far. Rick Springfield was in it! I’ll watch the rest someday… It’s ’70s sci-fi so I’ll happily watch stuff like this anytime, especially if I missed it the first time around.

Raising Hope: Season 1 Episodes 12-22, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4 Episodes 1-15 – Wow – Really binge watching this as a family! Oh well, there’s a pandemic & we’ve been stuck at home for a year. This is an easy thing to stick on anytime in the background. Have to say the show was damn funny at the start but the final season is taking a nosedive in the way most sitcoms do when they run out of ideas. Gonna rewatch My Name Is Earl next! (Which I loved but never saw the end of. Assume it also took a nosedive at the end anyway…)

The Crown: Season 3 Episodes 4-6 – Man, I am still not feeling the change of cast at the start of Season 3. I went from liking this show a lot, despite it not being my type of thing, to really having to force myself to watch it just so I can get to the Diana episodes in Season 4… I miss Claire Foy & all the rest! They were much better. Sorry.

The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us – Watched two or three(?) episodes of this series on Disney Plus. It’s fine as I love reminiscing about the ’80s but it’s also a bit boring. How can they make the ’80s boring?! Hell, they even devoted a bunch of time to some hockey thing at the Olympics that I didn’t even remember. Was it that big of an event if I knew nothing about it?! It’s also very American – the hubby was bored during the hockey thing too (I think – maybe I’m wrong! He played hockey! But he’s not American). I think they’re just devoting too much time to a few very specific events, such as the Jane Fonda fitness craze (although I found that sort of interesting). I don’t know – I just think no one will get anything out of what I’ve seen of this series so far unless they actually lived through the ’80s. The kid was bored while this was on. Maybe it gets better…

The Golden Girls – I’ve not exactly ranked these “best to worst”. The Golden Girls would be ranked at the top! Love this show so much. Just added it as have watched a few more episodes after picking up the rest on DVD when Channel 5 showed all but the final few seasons during lockdown. Rude! I was so disappointed when I no longer had this showing on TV during my lunch breaks. I want to hang out with these kick ass ladies even more than the Ted Lasso characters.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Don’t have any plans other than watching movies. Was contemplating re-posting any reviews I’ve done of BAFTA or Oscar nominated films before the ceremonies. Very frustrating that we’re not able to see a lot of the Oscar nominees in the U.K. Badly want to see Promising Young Woman, Sound Of Metal & Minari. Will review any if I see them before the Oscars.

Okay, I have to end this post with the clip of The Fat Boys doing All You Can Eat in Krush Groove…

Finding Dory (2016) Review

Finding Dory (2016)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

Music by Thomas Newman

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Finding Dory focuses on the amnesiac fish Dory, who journeys to be reunited with her parents. Along the way, she is captured and taken to a California public aquarium, from which Marlin and Nemo attempt to rescue her.

My Opinion:

I adore Pixar. Any regulars here will know that by now but, just in case someone new is reading this, I LOVE PIXAR!!! And we always have to wait a couple of months to see them in the UK. I love Pixar so much that I’ve even contemplated travelling to other countries to see Pixar movies when the UK has a much later release date. 😉 Finding Nemo just makes it into my Top Five (I did rank the Pixar movies HERE but I’d re-arrange that a bit now) and Dory is probably still close to the top of a list of my favorite Pixar characters (which I posted HERE on my very first day on this blog – I’ll update that list too!). So, yes – I was very much looking forward to spending more time with characters I love. Was it worth the extra wait? Well, it certainly wasn’t worth a trip to another country to see it early so I’m glad I didn’t do that.

Baby Dory is one of the cutest things ever but all the cuteness still isn’t enough to make up for such a weak story. I was even a little bored throughout the film (as was my kid). It breaks my heart to say that about a Pixar movie other than Cars! I enjoyed seeing Dory but Marlin & Nemo almost felt unnecessary, which sucks. I know they’ve already had their own movie but Dory was just as big of a star in Finding Nemo as Marlin & Nemo were. In this, it felt a bit like “well, we have to have Marlin & Nemo tag along as it makes no sense to not have them in the film”. They also tacked on an appearance from Crush & Squirt that I’m not exactly going to complain about as those two are AWESOME, dude, but I just walked out of Finding Dory feeling like I’d watched an inferior version of Finding Nemo. It’s the exact same story again minus the creativity & imagination involved in the first film. The characters are far weaker and there are none of the special little moments that made Finding Nemo so great.

The biggest new addition is an octopus named Hank & I know he has some fans. Hank is okay but, for me, he’ll never be a favorite. In Nemo, even the tiniest roles were fantastic. I could happily watch an entire movie set just in that tank in the dentist’s office… Gill, Bloat, Peach, Bubbles, etc – every single fish in that tank was more memorable than any of the new characters in the sequel.

I always do this – I’m far more critical of the things that I love. I suppose I just have really high standards when it comes to Pixar because they’ve made so many movies that I consider to be perfection. I did enjoy Finding Dory and, to be expected, I enjoyed it more than any other recent animated kids’ films from other studios. To compare it to something like The Secret Life Of Pets, I definitely liked it more. But when compared to other Pixar films, it would be fairly low down the list. I think I feel similar to how I now feel about Monsters University. Both sequels just can’t live up to the originals but that’s because the originals are so damn good (I just checked my review of that, though – I was way too generous with an 8/10! I guess it was my excitement at seeing Mike Wazowski again). But the Toy Story sequels are great so, I dunno… I’ve realized that part of the problem is seeing Dory upset & not the same silly, optimistic, lovably forgetful fish from the first film. She’s almost become Marlin in this film, which works well for his character but not for hers. The story & the characters all just worked together so perfectly in the first film whereas it all feels a bit too forced this time around. But, hell – it’s still Pixar and I still love Dory & it’s still a million times better than Cars. Maybe it’ll grow on me when I see it more at home. But I’m sad to say that I don’t think the kid liked it all that much so I don’t think it’ll get a lot of repeat home viewings unlike the Toy Stories & Monsters, Inc.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes – at the very end. I found it worth staying for, especially as a fan of the first film.

How About The Short Beforehand?: Piper is freaking ADORABLE. Just as adorable as baby Dory in that above picture and actually better than the Finding Dory film. It was great to see such a good Pixar short after being disappointed with things like Lava. Good job, Pixar!

The Godfather: Part II (1974) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. She reviewed The Godfather: Part I for us last week (see her review HERE). Now she’s tackling The Godfather: Part II. She’s also reviewed The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE) and Big Fish (HERE). Thanks once again, Zoe – you’re truly awesome! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about The Godfather: Part II, IMDB rank 3 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.

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***WARNING: SPOILERS***

“There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” – Michael Corleone

So as the trilogy progresses, Michael Corleone has become a force to be reckoned with. Al Pacino reprises the mantle of Michael, and it is rapidly evident that he has completely taken up and embodied the role of being the head of the Corleone crime family. This movie was presented interestingly, different from the first in that it plays out the current state of affairs that Michael is dealing with as well as taking you back to Vito Andolini’s youth, and seeing how he ultimately lost his Andolini name, took on the Corleone name and rose to his prominent position.

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“If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.” – Michael Corleone

This movie worked incredibly well. It is a long movie, clocking in at 200 minutes, but not once do you get too familiar with that, you are instead caught up in another time and whisked away. This speaks volumes about Coppola’s ability to rivet the audience, still. The time shift that worked its way in throughout the movie was truly brilliantly executed. In the present you see Michael (Al Pacino), and his antics, as well as the issues he is dealing with, ranging from his wife Kay (Diane Keaton) to his drama in court. Michael is progressively becoming more and more ruthless, which still resonates with the watcher seeing as we know how reluctant he was to become involved with the family business in the first place, and to watch him embrace it now in its entirety never fails to surprise and amaze. Al Pacino’s performance was again subtle, carrying with it a power that is palpable, a demand for allegiance and focus, respect and fear. I love the way Pacino captured Michael’s brooding, his shift, his stress, the way he worked to keep everything functioning, the way he dealt with betrayal from everyone, truly highlighting how ruthless he had become. His portrayal as Michael Corleone is definitely one of my favourite portrayals in movie history.

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“Don’t you know that I would use all of my power to prevent something like that from happening?” – Michael Corleone

Diane Keaton was really good in conveying her role as the wife of a mobster – not just any mobster, but the head of an extremely strong mob family. The splinters of the relationship are introduced at the end of The Godfather, where we see how unhappy Kay is about the fact that Michael is running things, as well as how he has changed towards her, too. Now, however, two kids along and all that, we see how she is starting to pull away from him, his violence, his dominance. She is seemingly alone, Michael has all the love and respect from everyone, and she is considered his wife, and is respected as such. Later we learn what extremely hard and rough decisions she made due to her growing hatred and resentment for Michael, which leaves you stunned that she would take such steps against him as well as admit it. Her desperation is palpable. Michael is cold and cruel, and he does not hide that from her. Kay is eventually on her own, from permanently fighting with Michael, egging him on and pushing him for legitimacy to being cast out, even being taken away from her children, completely cut off.

Robert Duvall steps up as Tom Hagen once again, delivering another fine performance as the family consigliere. Something that is extremely evident from the off is that Tom has become more involved with the family business as well as how things get done. A lot of responsibility and trust has been placed on him, and he has become colder. Still extremely calculated, and still doing some of the more horrendous jobs (remember the horse head?). He visits Frank Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo) in prison and informs Frank that he should recant, also promising that the Corleones will care for his family. Frank commits suicide later that night in the fashion discussed with the consigliere, and Tom seems to have no emotion for it as it was merely business. His performance was great, but it is becoming obvious that he is no longer just an incredibly educated outsider, but Michael’s right hand man, and that he loves the position.

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“When a plot against the Emperor failed… the plotters were always given a chance… to let their families keep their fortunes. Right?” – Tom Hagen

Vito Andolini’s (Robert De Niro) youth is addressed, and it is quite the enthralling tale. His father was murdered, his brother attempted to avenge him and was killed, and his mother was gunned down by Don Francesco Ciccio (Giuseppe Sillato) and Vito, who did not talk much and was considered to be a bit slow, ran for it, and was helped out by family friends to make passage to the United States of America. A struggling young man with a wife and a child, Vito sees how things are going in life, how the crime families are treated, and in a scheming way eradicates any competition he could have had, instantly making him the new man on the block, a man who definitely does things differently than the previous guy. He listens to the people, and is respected by the people. We get to explore the rise of Vito’s empire, as well as how he exacted his revenge that eradicated his family and swept him from his homelands. We see who he was and how he became what he did. He was smart and methodical, and in stages got everything just as he wanted it. The Corleone children serve as markers to see Vito’s progress, as well as indicating how the family did not always have everything, but that Vito built them up from scratch.

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“Do me this favour. I won’t forget it. Ask your friends in the neighbourhood about me. They’ll tell you I know how to return a favour.” – Vito Corleone

Fredo’s (John Cazale) bitterness at Michael is thinly veiled, something he struggles with constantly. Michael may have humoured it for the first while, but eventually that, too, becomes a serious problem, causing strife between the two brothers. I liked how the discord in the family was shown, that even though Michael is the one that stepped up, there was resentment and bitterness about it. Fredo took it as a personal failure that Michael ran the Corleone family, and that Michael was the one supporting Fredo and looking after him, even though Fredo is the older brother. His ultimately betraying Michael could be seen coming, but the reaction of Michael was intense, and it caused some tension within the family, too. Michael has many friends, but at the same time he is losing family and loyalty he thought he didn’t have to question faster than he suspected. As if Fredo is not enough for Michael to deal with, Connie (Talia Shire) is still bouncing off the walls, crazy and doing really stupid things, expecting Michael to pick up after her, to see how much she can push him. Initially she is not looked into much, and while she does not command a lot of screen time, it is eventually explained why she did what she did. This does not make it better, but the questions are no longer floating around and not making sense anymore. As fast as she broke herself away from the family, it seems that she is doing what she can to work her way back into Michael’s good graces at the very least.

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“Taken care of me? You’re my kid brother and you take care of me? Did you ever think about that?” – Fredo Corleone

So many aspects of this story come together at intervals, and it is a stunning work of art to get to the end result. The journey, the characters, the events are all just exactly what they need to be, and it is exceptionally impressive overall. The score used suited everything just right, and Coppola truly took this film in a direction to match its predecessor equally. The camera work was fantastic, and all the actors worked wonderfully in their roles. Movies are just not the same as they used to be, and The Godfather Part II is just further evidence of this. I don’t really have words to justify this movie, there is just so much to talk about (the scheming, the partnerships, the travels, the alliances struck up, etc), and I know many more people have discussed it in more detail than I have, but I am going to stop here now, The Godfather Part II is just one of those films that has to be experienced to be understood. My Spock Chop, I know you are not a fan and all, but really, this is something glorious!

The Godfather (1972) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe has already reviewed The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE) and Big Fish (HERE). Now, as if all those reviews weren’t enough, Zoe was the first person brave enough to choose to review The Godfather I & II (stay tuned for her review of The Godfather: Part II at this same time next Tuesday). Thanks so much for being such a big part of this project, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s hear her thoughts on The Godfather, IMDB rank 2 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.

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***WARNING: SPOILERS***

Alright, so this is going to be quite the post here. I took The Godfather movies because I was horrified to see it just languishing there on Table 9 Mutant’s IMDB Top 250 challenge… alone and untaken. How could this possibly be?! This is one of the greatest film sets ever! Alright, Part III might be a little sketchy and all that, but Part I and Part II are just… wow. Naturally, there are the heathens out there that will slam it, which I just find heartbreaking (though I still love you Eric, don’t ever forget that…). I am one of those people, like a good war movie I love a good mob flick.

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“There is more money potential in narcotics than anything else we’re looking at now. If we don’t get into it, somebody else will, maybe one of the Five Families, maybe all of them. And with the money they earn they’ll be able to buy more police and political power. Then they come after us.” – Tom Hagen

Synopsis: The story begins as “Don” Vito Corleone, the head of a New York Mafia “family”, oversees his daughter’s wedding with his wife Carmela. His beloved son Michael has just come home from the war, but does not intend to become part of his father’s business. Through Michael’s life the nature of the family business becomes clear. The business of the family is just like the head of the family, kind and benevolent to those who give respect, but given to ruthless violence whenever anything stands against the good of the family. Don Vito lives his life in the way of the old country, but times are changing and some don’t want to follow the old ways and look out for community and “family”. An up and coming rival of the Corleone family wants to start selling drugs in New York, and needs the Don’s influence to further his plan. The clash of the Don’s fading old world values and the new ways will demand a terrible price, especially from Michael, all for the sake of the family. – IMDB

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“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”. – Don Corleone

This movie is just amazing. Something that you can really just wax lyrical about. This is certainly a fantastic mob movie, no two ways about it. I mean just to look at how old this film is, for starters, you cannot help but appreciate how particularly stunning this is, how well it is put together, the actors, the camerawork, the story, the music… everything. But we shall gush about that all as this progresses.

This movie was a piece of pure genius. Marlon Brando was an amazing Vito Corleone… he was certainly not someone I would have messed with, at any rate. The movie progressed at a gradual pace, but it was never boring. From the beginning you know that Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is definitely the Don’s favoured son, though he has three as well as one that Sonny (James Caan) brought in at a young age and is regarded as equal to his blood sons, and a daughter, Connie (Talia Shire), who has just gotten married to Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo). Vito Corleone is a powerful man, and such is evident at his daughter’s wedding. Michael arrives at Connie’s wedding dressed in his Marine Corps uniform and his girlfriend, Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) at his side. It is evident from the off that Michael is not like the rest of his Corleone brothers, though he is favoured by his father.

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“My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.” – Michael Corleone

A drug baron called Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) rolls into town and wishes to go into business with some of the families, and Vito is approached by a rivalling family, the Tattaglias, to take the deal. Vito, however, is not in for the drug trade, though it seems Sonny is. Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), considered the up and coming family consigliere, brought up with the Corleone boys as one of them, advises Vito that taking the deal is the one was to keep the family in power, and not having it usurped over the years. Naturally, this is where the whole movie finally catches. An attempt is made on Vito’s life, and he is left for dead. The Corleone family bands together and Sonny heads it up in the meantime. Michael gets wind of his father’s predicament, and soon his life changes.

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Watching the change in Michael is astounding. He starts off as reluctant, wary and insistent that he is not like his family, but when push comes to shove it is evident that the Corleone tendencies are well and truly there. Full scale crime family war breaks out, and it seems no one is safe. There is so much that is going on, so much traitorous betrayal and attempts to do one another in to protect themselves, but the Corleone brothers still stand. Michael gradually becomes harder, tougher and less forgiving, ultimately making the choice and assassinating the police chief and Sollozzo, taking cover in Sicily while things come right. Vito is not dead, but it seems that the family structure has changed drastically.

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“What’s the matter? What’s bothering you? I’ll handle it. I told you I can handle it, I’ll handle it.” – Michael Corleone

Michael’s isolation changes him even more, and he takes a wife while over in Sicily, though it becomes evident that it will not be safe for him there for much longer. While he is away, he needs to deal with the fact that his brother, Sonny, is killed, and he in enraged. Due to Sonny’s assassination, Vito decides enough is enough. Too many people are dying at one another’s hands in an attempt to even the scales, and it must come to a close. It thrilled me to watch how pacts and truces were made, how the hierarchy fit together, how people understood their place and abided by it, not questioning too much. It amazed me to see the power that some of these people have. It is astounding to me that although you know what rackets the Corleone family is involved in, it is never thrown onto the screen, never made something that takes over the story. Primarily this movie depicts the familial ties, the organisation and the loyalty, keeping focus on it and demanding your attention.

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“You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you? Or my boy to me?” – Don Corleone

The Godfather also touts one of the best cast ensembles in ages, and cannot be faulted for it. I was doing some extra reading and was so shocked to see exactly how much drama there was involved of the making of this movie, how Paramount fought Coppola almost every damn step of the way on casting, decisions, attempts to have him fired, the whole shebang. They were adamant about not having Marlon Brando in there (who *cough cough* won a damned Oscar for his performance, although he declined it) as well as not wanting Al Pacino… I was like what?! Imagine Paramount had gotten as much say as they wanted… The Godfather is one of the most influential films of all time, and should be appreciated for what it is: a piece of genius.

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“Only don’t tell me you’re innocent. Because it insults my intelligence and makes me very angry.” – Michael Corleone

I loved everything this film brought to us. This film was an excellent piece on the mob, not highlighting it as something evil and disgusting and something that should be taken down, but telling the story from the inside, which was fantastic. I loved how authentic everything was, how Italian, there are infinitely quotable lines from it, the camera work was fantastic, the score complemented every minute of it and the cast rounded it off perfectly. I still feel I haven’t done this film justice, but I just don’t know anymore. You are riveted for 175 minutes; there are no two ways about it.