These 2023 films were fine. Okay. Meh. Nothing to write home about. Blah. I’m so bored with “fine”. Liked The Mother the most out of these.
The Mother (2023)
Directed by Niki Caro
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Joseph Fiennes, Lucy Paez, Omari Hardwick, Paul Raci, Gael García Bernal
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) While fleeing from dangerous assailants, an assassin comes out of hiding to protect her daughter she left earlier in life.
This was fine. Love “protective kick-ass mother” movies so watched this to see the mother/daughter scenes more than the action. The story & the action were okay but preferred watching Lopez with the daughter & having to make heartbreaking decisions to do whatever it takes to protect her.
I think Lopez deserves more credit, as she’s proven she can easily do something like this just as well as comedy & romance. She’s been in some decent films but let’s get her into even better ones. Have really liked her in all her recent straight-to-streaming films (this, Shotgun Wedding & Marry Me). She was the best thing about all of them and made them worth watching.
Oh, I should add that I liked the music used in this movie: Massive Attack, Kate Bush & Grimes (yes I like Grimes).
My Rating: 6/10
Peter Pan & Wendy (2023)
Directed by David Lowery
Based on Walt Disney’s Peter Pan Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie
Starring: Jude Law, Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Yara Shahidi, Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Joshua Pickering, Jacobi Jupe, Molly Parker, Alan Tudyk, Jim Gaffigan
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The story follows Peter Pan and Wendy, who go to the magical world of Neverland with Wendy’s brothers and Peter’s best friend Tinker Bell. Along the way, Wendy embarks on the adventure that will change her life and encounters Peter’s archenemy Captain Hook.
This was also… Fine?
There’s nothing really wrong with this adaptation so I don’t see why it’s getting such bad reviews. There have been far worse live action Disney films (Hello, Tom Hanks Pinocchio?!). But, meh. This has never been one of my favorite stories anyway. Are we supposed to grow up or not?! The acting from the kids was a little dodgy but I liked Tinker Bell not being a total bitch.
My Rating: 6/10
Rye Lane (2023)
Directed by Raine Allen-Miller
Starring: David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It stars David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah as two strangers who have a chance encounter, after having both been through recent breakups, and spend the day getting to know each other.
Liked the couple, enjoyed the London setting, love A Tribe Called Quest, was a little bored by the story. A pleasant enough film – I think I’m just finding it difficult to relate to twentysomethings these days. Fun cameo.
Hi All! Happy March! I guess I better switch my WordPress app over to this new app it keeps bugging me about. So I’ve quickly finished this post in the old app since, knowing I’m an old fart & useless with technology, I’ll probably fuck something up & never figure out how to post something on this blog ever again once I make the switch. 🙂
Here’s what I watched & read in February. Have even managed to go to the cinema a few times! (Saw Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania a few days ago, too).
MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):
– The Swimmer – Liked this a lot! Quite a weird one. Thanks to my buddy Film Miasma for reviewing this (here) as I’d not even heard of it before. Won’t say much about it in this post as I already did a separate full review of it here. – 8/10
– Knock At The Cabin – I’m a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I know he has his critics but I will always choose watching a story I don’t already know & which might surprise me instead of all the utterly bland & predictable sequels, prequels, reboots, superheroes, etc etc. Yeah, he’s had some duds but at least he gives us original ideas.
I know this is based on someone else’s book but he’s again, as with Old, chosen to adapt something that fits in so well with the kinds of stories he obviously loves to make. Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. It’s certainly not up there with the very best like The Sixth Sense (which I still think is brilliant) but it was much better than a lot of his work & Dave Bautista gave a really good performance. The girl was very cute, the family were likeable & the story was intriguing. I’ve currently ranked it 5th in my Shyamalan ranking, which I think is where it’ll stay.
As I said, the story intrigued me so I thought about reading the book first (still have it on reserve at the library – long wait!). What I found most disappointing was that very little was explained. I’m wondering if the story is much more fleshed out in the book, as is often the case? So I’d still like to read it to see if there’s more to it. It also feels the least “Shyamalan” of his movies, maybe partly due to it not ending how you’d expect. Think the ending is a bit of a letdown after a good buildup. But, I still think the film itself is of a better quality than those I’ve ranked below it on my list. I did appreciate it and got a lot of enjoyment out of going to the cinema, which has become a very rare possibility for me. So maybe being back in the cinema is making me rate this one a bit more highly… – 7/10
– All Quiet On The Western Front – I admit that I had to force myself to watch this one after it was nominated for Best Picture as I try to watch as many Oscar nominees as I can each year. I always have to force myself to watch war movies, even though I love some of them (The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, Full Metal Jacket, etc). Don’t think I’ve ever disliked a war film but it will still never be a favorite genre for me. Life sucks enough! I want escapism.
Yes, this is a good film. Lovely cinematography & a very interesting score. I did see the 1930 film in high school after reading the book but I remember nothing whatsoever about either & if this is at all similar. I liked the characters & the friendships but didn’t want to like anyone since, like Game Of Thrones, I knew I better not get too attached to anyone. This film is, as to be expected, very grim. As war movies should be. Don’t think it’s one of the very best I’ve ever seen but is still a worthy addition to this genre. Was worth the watch. And it inspired me to rank every war movie I’ve ever seen (here). Seen more than I’d realised! (56) – 7.5/10
– Empire Of Light – Enjoyed this despite some negative reviews. Admittedly, I wanted to see this as I’ve been to where it was filmed (have photos of me at that roller disco) and I also always love movies set in a cinema or in some way having to do with a love of cinema. Oh, and I do love an ‘80s setting! Can understand why some were disappointed with the script/story as it was indeed a bit messy & I’d have liked far more character development for everyone. But Olivia Colman & Micheal Ward were very good and had an interesting relationship plus the film looked lovely as expected with Roger Deakins doing the cinematography (and it’s up for that Oscar). Can absolutely understand why the general public didn’t go for this one but think many film lovers should appreciate it. – 7/10
I went roller skating here!
– Top Hat – Ashamed to say this is my first Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movie. Figured it was time to finally watch the dancing duo in action after watching my first ever Fred Astaire movie (Easter Parade) last year.
Didn’t realise this was going to be a screwball comedy, which isn’t usually a favorite subgenre of mine, instead of just a straightforward musical. Not sure the comedic elements or the romance worked that well in this but the dance numbers were of course a joy to watch. I don’t know why I have to force myself to watch classic musicals such as this as I always end up enjoying them. And, as often happens with them, I thought I knew absolutely nothing from Top Hat so was surprised that I indeed knew two of the songs in it. Funny how the songs in these films really do stand the test of time. As for the story in this, though, I don’t think it has aged quite as well as some have. Have to say I definitely preferred Easter Parade but it could help that I think Judy Garland was just fantastic in everything I’ve seen her in.
As an overall movie, I found Top Hat quite average but was worth a one-time watch for the dance numbers & songs. – 6.5/10
– Strange World – Well this wasn’t so bad? I quite liked the story, which felt far more original than a lot of family films. I think the issue, for me, is that it’s one that again is just not up to Disney standards. It felt more like I’d just watched a good DreamWorks movie. So I feel like I’d give this an extra star if it was DreamWorks based on my lower standards for them, which seems unfair, but I expect a bit more when it’s got the Disney or Pixar name on it.
Before I sound too negative, I did enjoy this and don’t understand the really bad reviews. As I said, I thought the story was unique and the “strange” world was wonderfully bizarre and lovely. Was a bit Dr. Seuss-ian (which is fine by me). The characters were likeable enough, though underdeveloped, and the creature Splat was fun. Again, it’s not up to Disney’s very best but it was much better than I was expecting based on the negativity. I liked it more than Pixar recents like Luca, Onward & Turning Red. – 6.5/10
– True Spirit – A 2023 release on Netflix that no one I follow on Letterboxd has watched yet?! Yes, it’s a very predictable, inspiring, feelgood true story but these types of movies never hurt anyone. Knew nothing of the real girl, Jessica Watson, who sailed solo around the world at the age of 16. That’s amazing. Thought the girl who played her, Teagan Croft, was good and felt super old seeing Anna Paquin playing her mother. Enjoyable weekend afternoon viewing. – 6/10
– Somebody I Used To Know – After becoming obsessed with Community last year, I was very excited to see a new release starring “Annie” and, my favorite, “Abed”. Well, this is maybe a fraction better than the recent Your Place Or Mine (reviewed below). But certainly not by much & Brie’s character is far more annoying than Witherspoon’s & borderline hateful. So she hasn’t talked to her lovely ex in ten years & now suddenly wants to ruin his wedding which is in just a few days? The most unbelievable thing was his fiancée putting up with that bullshit. A disappointment overall, mainly as I disliked the main character and what the hell is the point of that? Meh. Maybe I’ll rank the Witherspoon movie just above this one after all. Oh – I quite liked her hometown in this, though. Reminded me of some small towns where I grew up. – 5.5/10
I just want that Community movie they said would happen…
– Your Place Or Mine – This wasn’t great. The best thing about it was The Cars soundtrack. That band deserves more love.
Reese & Ashton had zero chemistry & I barely believed them as friends let alone lovers. The story was predictable, as expected, but who cares with a straight-to-Netflix romcom. It was a pleasant enough film to pass the time & completely forget about in a year. Did like Steve Zahn as the weirdo neighbour. Always fun to see him pop up in films.
– Heathers – Hubby & I felt like rewatching this absolute classic we’ve seen many times. Love it. They don’t (and won’t) ever make good dark teen comedies like this anymore. Feel sorry for today’s teens & their rubbish entertainment.– 9/10
Managed to watch all but one of the Best Documentary Oscar nominees…
– A House Made Of Splinters – Heartbreaking. The one I found most moving of the Best Documentary Oscar nominees this year. Have so much respect for those who try to help children caught up in terrible situations. You can currently see this on BBC iPlayer.
– Fire Of Love – What an amazing couple & bittersweet love story. Although I can’t say I’m that fascinated by volcanoes, I always love to see someone show such passion for something. It’s infectious. And, wow – they captured brilliant volcano footage. And now I want to watch Joe Versus The Volcano again. Ha! (Seriously, though – that film is underrated).
Although I found A House Made of Splinters the most moving, I think this is the best documentary I’ve seen this year & that it has a chance of winning the Oscar. I’d be happy to see it win. My only complaint is the narration. It’s certainly a unique voice – I just mainly found it distracting as I thought at first that the woman who voiced Sadness in Inside Out was narrating (she’s not).
– Navalny – Fascinating story & person! Well worth a watch before the Oscars ceremony. Recommended. Also on BBC iPlayer.
– All That Breathes – The last of the Best Documentary nominees I managed to see on services (thank you, BBC iPlayer). Beautifully shot & lovely melancholy score. I like that the nominees I’ve seen this year are mostly about people who are devoted to something they’re passionate about. Was heartbreaking to see what is happening to “all that breathes” this polluted air. Worth mentioning a great short documentary nominee also about lovely people devoted to rescuing animals: The Elephant Whisperers. Liked that a lot.
Again, two more Oscar nominees I managed to find to watch. Really want to see the rest of the animated shorts! Anyone know where I can see them??
– The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse – This had lovely animation & I appreciate its uplifting sayings, etc. But was a bit over-the-top on that. Overly saccharine. Also felt too long.
– The Flying Sailor – I like that this is supposedly based on a (maybe) true story? Nuts. (Ha. Literally!). Whereas the previous one felt way too long for a short, this felt too short. Could’ve been better considering its fascinating story.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN FEBRUARY
– Fairy Tale by Stephen King – First of all, that above cover is SO much better than the U.K. cover I have! Most of the recent covers on King’s books in the U.K. are rubbish.
Well, I liked this book a lot. I know I’m a huge King fan so I’m likely to love most his books but I do really dislike a few (kind of hated Under The Dome & not crazy about The Outsider). As I like horror, I’ve avoided King’s fantasy stuff. Did try The Gunslinger(twice!) and cannot get into that so have read no more of The Dark Tower. But I finally read The Eyes Of The Dragon last year & loved that Game-Of-Thrones-Light book! So I went into this new fantasy with an open mind after that one. Yes, if you liked The Eyes Of The Dragon, you’ll probably like Fairy Tale but I am sure some of his pure horror lovers won’t like this one at all.
Really liked the boy in this and of course loved the dog sidekick. Who doesn’t like a loveable dog?? It was like reading a Dean Koontz book (he loves adding a dog sidekick). It’s kind of two books in one, with the first half in the “real world” being so very different from the fantasy world but I like getting two for the price of one & really enjoyed both parts. King has once again given us a very descriptive, imaginative & bizarre fantasy world, which I’m a big fan of in so many of his books such as Lisey’s Story, etc. Adored the shoemaker woman and the others like her that he encounters in the other world. The story did lose its way a bit about three quarters of the way through and it was quite different for a while (just after the sundial – so, actually, it was more like three stories in one). But I still enjoyed that section and overall liked this one a lot. Would still rank The Eyes Of The Dragon a bit higher but would love to read more of this type of fantasy story from King. – 4/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Last Of Us: S1 E4-7 – Enjoying this but not obsessed with it like some existing fans seem to be as the game means nothing to me. I can’t say it feels like anything all that new as we’ve seen this type of story so many times now. But I love apocalyptic & zombielike stories so I’m still happy. Sad to see episode 7 was the lowest rated episode but I really liked it. Two girls hanging out & having fun in a post-apocalyptic mall? Dawn Of The Dead AND Night Of The Comet vibes?! I’m here for that! Love those films.
Tried the first episode of Extraordinary. Liked the highly inappropriate & filthy humor. Hubby wasn’t feeling the show at all so I may continue on my own but have too much else to watch at the moment. We also tried the first episode of The Goldbergs but neither of us were feeling that one. And for nostalgia, I rewatched the first two episodes of Silver Spoons on YouTube. Man I love pure ’80s cheese!
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Well, the Oscars are coming up so maybe I’ll do a post on Friday with the reviews of the nominees I’ve seen (more than I realised but not enough of the “big nominees”). If I can be arsed. 🙂 I’m expecting Everything Everywhere All At Once to be the big winner, which I didn’t love. Can’t say I truly loved any of the nominees I’ve seen. As usual.
I’ll end with a song from The Cars as they had so many of their songs in that underwhelming Reese Witherspoon movie. I’ll go with Let’s Go as it’s the first one I remember hearing in the movie.
Tried in December to catch up on the shitloads of 2021 films I missed. Missed everything in the cinema & the 2021 leftovers on services that I missed didn’t look that great anyway so it’s likely I’ll never bother with those now (but I do wish I’d seen The Green Knight). So I’m calling it a year & just posting a disappointing Top Ten Movies Of The Year list later this week. At least I saw loads of fantastic pre-2021 movies this year so that will be a Top Ten list too.
*Edit to add: I watched The Green Knight last night so added a quick review below. Spoiler: I thought it SUCKED!
Here’s everything I watched in December…
MOVIES WATCHED IN DECEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– Don’t Look Up – Liked this a lot & am glad I managed to finish my year on this one. Thought it was a pretty clever & scarily accurate satire of this fucked up world we’re now living in. It gave me some good laughs & it had fun performances from all the big name stars in it. I managed to quickly review it in full at the link yesterday. – 7.5/10
– The Lost Daughter – Quickly reviewed this yesterday as well as I also liked this film a lot. Great end to 2021 on Netflix with these two! Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley were both very good at portraying the difficulties of motherhood and sometimes wanting more out of life. There’s a growing sense of tension through the whole movie that I thought was handled really well. Great directorial debut from Maggie Gyllenhaal. – 7.5/10
– Encanto – Already reviewed this last week. Enjoyed this one although it’s not exactly up there with Disney’s all-time best. What I liked: the main girl (Mirabel) was likeable (and I liked her dress and, as a glasses wearer, her funky glasses), the different magical powers each family member had were fun, I liked the cute little cousin who was due to get his own power & the cousin who could hear everything, and the overall message about the importance of family was good. The weakest thing? Unfortunately, that was maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs plus I suppose the animation style wasn’t my favorite but it was still a lovely looking film (I prefer the older, classic Disney animation style). I still really enjoyed Encanto although it hasn’t instantly grabbed me like a lot of other Disney & Pixar films have. It would maybe grow on me after a rewatch. – 7/10
– Ron’s Gone Wrong – Reviewed this as well. There’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character so this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.
I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. I also really liked the message in this film & thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending. – 7/10
– Tokyo Godfathers – I started watching this anime film years ago but for whatever reason I never finished it so, as it’s set on Christmas Eve & as it’s recently been added to Netflix, I figured it was time to finally finish it at Christmastime. Because I’ve clearly been too lazy in all this time to just get up off my ass & play my DVD of it.
It’s a fun film with three strong characters who lovingly bicker a lot & a cute baby that they find. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “On Christmas Eve, three homeless people living on the streets of Tokyo discover a newborn baby among the trash and set out to find its parents.”
This is one of those anime movies that can be a little goofy at times in between some heavy subject matter. It was written & directed by Satoshi Kon, whose other films include Perfect Blue (still need to see that) and Paprika (a very interesting film I should really try to rewatch sometime & actually review as it was one of my Blind Spot movies in 2019). Paprika is the better film of the two I’ve seen but Tokyo Godfathers is perhaps a little more “accessible” & certainly less strange (but I’m a big fan of strange). The characters are the best thing about the movie and I especially liked Hana, who immediately develops a motherly affection for the abandoned baby. It’s a heartwarming & at times heartbreaking film, as are all the best movies set during Christmas. Glad I finally made the time for this one. – 7/10
– Pig – Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Did a full review of this already so I’ll just say that Cage was good in this & the movie explored loneliness & grief in an interesting way. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I appreciated its subtlety. A nice break from Crazy Cage, too (although I do enjoy Crazy Cage). – 7/10
– The Unforgivable – Also already reviewed. Bullock’s character has just come out of prison after serving many years for killing a cop when they came to take her much younger sister away from her. It took a while to get into this one & Bullock’s character was pretty unsympathetic to begin with. However, I really liked the end of this one (including something I should’ve seen coming). Also, the film used a fantastic piano version of Radiohead’s Everything In Its Right Place toward the end & I thought it set the mood perfectly. So the film was a bit slow overall & certainly wasn’t perfect but from that bit on it got much better & really did redeem itself at the end. – 6.5/10
– The Last Duel – Reviewed this too (wow – I managed to review more than usual!). I’ll just say I wasn’t really a fan & thought this movie was just okay. The haircuts sucked, the men were all assholes, and Ridley Scott has far better films. Just watch Rashomon instead. – 6/10
– The Power Of The Dog– Another one I reviewed & was very disappointed in unlike all of Film Twitter. This one bored the shit out of me. Sorry! But I did really like the end. Yay! Once I actually realised what had happened and that there was a plan all along, I guess, and I was like “Ohhh… Nice one!”. The ending almost made me rank this just above The Last Duel but the rest of this film was so bloody boring that I guess I’ll keep this one below the mullet duel. – 6/10
– Anna And The Apocalypse – Was talking about Christmas movies on Twitter before Christmas & so many mentioned liking this one that I figured I should check it out. Sadly, this one didn’t really work for me. Luckily, I don’t think any of those Twitter people read my blog! I appreciate its concept. A zombie Christmas musical?! Fantastic! I’m a big zombie movie fan (mostly Romero) so really did think I’d like this. I can’t say I really bought into the characters, although the main girl was fine. I think maybe I was expecting more of a comedy? It’s listed as comedy but it’s certainly no Shaun Of The Dead. I can’t say I remember how any of the songs go, either. Meh. It was a good idea. – 5.5/10
– Red Notice – Damn, this was a bit sucky. Thought it would be a bit more fun with these three big names plus I like them all usually. Sadly, though, this is the first time I thought that Ryan Reynolds was just too Ryan Reynolds. He’s really just playing himself in this. The comedy just fell a bit flat & there was one scene where the background of an arena they were in looked SO dodgy that I said “WTF is up with that background?!” and I’m not someone who tends to notice that sort of stuff usually. Not the worst film of the year but very forgettable. I expect to not remember a thing about it in a year. – 5.5/10
– The Fan (1981) – Got excited when I saw this listed on Talking Pictures TV as I still have a massive crush on Michael Biehn thanks to The Terminator & Aliens. And, my god, such big stars in this with him! Lauren Bacall, James Garner & Maureen Stapleton. Biehn plays a psycho stalker who is obsessed with the big star played by Lauren Bacall. Honestly, though, this movie was pretty damn bad. How embarrassing, especially for Bacall! I can’t say I’d recommend this unless you have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Biehn like I do. So I got mild enjoyment out of this, at least. I do kind of like stalker movies. Play Misty For Me was a much better stalker movie if you like that kind of thing, though. – 5.5/10
– Chaos Walking – Knew this wasn’t meant to be great but I read the book a couple years ago & I really like seeing the movie adaptations of the books I read. Wasn’t a fan of the book, though, so had pretty low expectations for the movie. I think it was adapted fairly well from what I remember of the story but the story isn’t the greatest even though the idea seemed like a good one. A waste of the talent in this. Here’s the IMDb synopsis if you’re curious: “Two unlikely companions embark on a perilous adventure through the badlands of an unexplored planet as they try to escape a dangerous and disorienting reality where all thoughts are seen and heard by everyone.”- 5/10
– The Green Knight – I’m quickly adding this (with no image, as I don’t want a Green Knight image to be what’s displayed on my tweet as it uses the last image added). I just watched it last night thinking “Maybe it’ll be 2021 Top Ten material!” but OH MY GOD IT SUCKED! What a huge waste of time. I know I’ve said this before but I’m never listening to Film Twitter again!!! What a load of pretentious bollocks. I should’ve trusted my instincts when I thought “This is by the guy who did A Ghost Story so it may end up boring as shit just like that one”. God, I think I preferred A Ghost Story! At least that did manage to create a hell of a sense of crushing loneliness. The Green Knight did have some good imagery, which I admit I can be a sucker for, but it had nothing else. Hated it. You’ve wasted my time once again, Film Twitter! – 5/10 (Added half a point for the ridiculous talking fox & the naked lady giants)
Movies Rewatched In December:
– Point Break – LOVE IT! Have loved Keanu Reeves for years & watched this movie SO many times when it came out. So had to stick this one on when it popped up on Netflix even though I’ve seen it shitloads. Keanu is so beautiful in this… Oh, and I love that this kick-ass action film was directed by a woman. – 9/10
– Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs – Put this Disney classic on over the Christmas break. What can I say? I love Disney films & this 1937 film easily stands the test of time as well as all the very best of Disney’s work. I wish the modern Disney films would try to be as timeless but I feel too many “of the moment” jokes get thrown in now, which will date the films years from now. Return to making timeless classics like this one! Oh, and I love the dwarfs. So cute. All the best Disney films have lovable characters like that. – 8/10
– The Muppets Christmas Carol – Managed to rewatch some Christmas favorites with the family. Who doesn’t love the Muppets?! This is a fantastic adaptation of what’s probably the very best Christmas story. – 8/10
– Home Alone – Another Christmas favorite, although the hubby & I like it much more than our daughter does. Our love of John Hughes maybe helps. I think this is a brilliant family film & wish they’d make more family films like this one. – 8/10
– Elf – Elf is silly but is really good fun. Think it’s the last decent Christmas film to be made that still has a classic feel to it, probably thanks to the Rankin/Bass inspired style at the start. – 8/10
Shorts & Miscellaneous:
– Far From The Tree – Assume this was the short meant to be before Encanto so we watched this before it. Nice story about a raccoon being overprotective of its young child. I could relate to that as I’m too overprotective.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
Watched a lot of TV in December, most of it good.
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Cobra Kai: S4 – We all binged this in one day! We never binge anything but we were obviously all off work & school. I’ve absolutely loved all of Cobra Kai. The Karate Kid is a favorite & I think they’ve done a brilliant job of combining these ’80s characters with current teens. I can’t believe I have a crush on Johnny Lawrence the bully now! He’s the best thing about the show & I love how he’s stuck in the ’80s & doesn’t understand current teenager-speak. Yes, it’s kind of getting “same old same old” at this point but it’s still loads of fun to watch.
– The Book Of Boba Fett: S1 E1 – Only one episode so far so can’t really judge it yet. The first episode was good & it’s great getting more Star Wars content but I can’t say that episode one has instantly grabbed me the way the end of the first episode of The Mandalorian did.
– Yellowjackets: S1 E1-7 – Thoroughly enjoying this story about a 1996 girls soccer team whose plane crashed, resulting in them apparently having to turn to violence & possibly cannibalism to survive. It’s told in flashbacks & I of course love that the grown up actresses are my age so I’d say this is very Gen X & current teen aimed. Well, Juliet Lewis is about my age & there’s NO WAY she was in high school still in 1996 but whatever (it would be even better if the high school flashbacks were late ’80s/early ’90s). So I’m loving this but I’m the right target audience for it.
– Hawkeye: S1 E3-6 – Thought this one was fun & liked the characters. WandaVision & Loki were better but I liked this one way more than that boring The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. Are we gonna get another season focused just on Kate Bishop? I’d watch that.
– Chucky: S1 – This was a weird one. At times I thought it was pretty damn good for a slasher TV show & at others I thought it kind of took a shit (mostly with the addition of Jennifer Tilly, although she was fun, and the real life daughter of Brad Dourif). I admit, though, that I only ever saw Child’s Play 1 through 3 so those characters mean nothing to me while fans of those last movies were maybe happy with their appearance. Anyway, this started out quite strong & I thought the bits with the teens were all good & Chucky was entertaining like always. Then it all took a nosedive at the end. Oh well. I still enjoyed the show overall.
– Mare Of Easttown: S1 – I only stuck this on one night as I needed a show to stick on when I’m on my own & bored but it’s not at all the type of thing I tend to go for as I’m weirdly not a crime drama person like everyone else seems to be. I don’t know how I felt about it. I didn’t hate it but, my god, this town was full of assholes & killers & cheaters & just generally a bunch of really unlikeable people. By the end, I really liked Kate Winslet’s character even though she was also very hard to like at times but I think she was fantastic in this role. I also loved her mother, played by Jean Smart, and enjoyed the small funny moments in the show especially between these two characters. The mystery itself was okay but, god, is everyone a pervy piece of shit in this town?! I can see why people liked the show, though. The characters are strong & I’d maybe be interested in seeing them all again in a second season if that’s the plan…?
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E4-8 – God this new season is boring. Meh.
– And Just Like That…: S1 E1-5– I’m not exactly a big Sex & The City fan but I did watch them all & thought it was clever at times and enjoyed the friendships even though I could relate to none of the four women whatsofuckingever. This version, though… Ugh. I dunno. It’s pretty desperate so far with some shitty writing. They probably should’ve just left it alone.
– Looking For Alaska: S1 E1 – I read this John Green book so figured I better check out this adaptation. Faithful so far – will see how it goes but I didn’t really love the book anyway.
– Maya And The Three: S1 E1– Watched the first episode as it’s made by the Book Of Life people, which my daughter absolutely loved for about a year of her life. I wasn’t feeling it so doubt I’ll continue with it.
– A Charlie Brown Christmas – Absolute CLASSIC. Perfection. I am a massive Peanuts fan & I adore this. Watch it every Christmas.
– Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Another true Christmas classic that I watch every year & also adore. Love that Rankin/Bass style, which they lovingly referenced in the beginning of Elf. They don’t make ’em like they used to! This is also perfection.
– How The Grinch Stole Christmas! – Ditto! Timeless classic! I’m of course talking about the original animated special, not that godawful Jim Carrey movie. Yuck! I’ll especially always love his poor dog Max & those fantastic lyrics to the songs. Absolutely brilliant.
– Game Of Thrones: S1 E1 – Halfway through reading the first book so thought I’d rewatch episode 1. I have to say that, so far from what I remember of the show, it’s extremely faithful to the first book. Loved seeing this again while understanding a bit more & knowing the characters much better now.
– Quantum Leap: S1 E1 – Wish the family would continue this with me, especially as this was a two-episode story… I loved Quantum Leap so have been looking forward to revisiting it. The first scene of episode 1 was far cheesier than I remembered, though! Wow. Thank god it got much much better.
– Malcolm In The Middle: S1 E1– Recommended this to the kid. Think she liked the first episode okay.
I’m halfway through reading A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones. So don’t expect monthly book reviews while I’m reading these as each will probably take me months to read. Although I may read different books in between each so I don’t wear myself out. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far, though. It’s just a big damn commitment!!
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Honestly, my main New Year’s resolution is to watch fewer movies for a while. I want to watch better films the next couple of months. Quality over quantity! It’s also exhausting doing these roundup posts with shitloads of films.
It’s stupid but the end of each year almost becomes a bit stressful as I get desperate to finish watching as many of that year’s releases that I can which are available to me. I’m more annoyed than I should be that there are several on services now that I’ve not managed to see yet, although I expect what I’ve not seen of those to be pretty shit anyway. It’s the cinema-only releases that I badly want to see as soon as possible.
I mentioned this last month but these are some of the many 2021 movies that I have yet to see:
Last Night In Soho, Malignant, West Side Story, Quiet Place II, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Licorice Pizza, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Old, The Conjuring, Coda, The Suicide Squad, The Forever Purge, The Father, In The Heights, Spencer, Another Round, Mass, I’m Your Man, Finch, Antlers, Petite Maman, Psycho Goreman, Black Bear, Censor, The Sparks Brothers, Titane, Jungle Cruise, Army Of Thieves, The Tomorrow War, Halloween Kills, Eternals, The Worst Person In The World
Upcoming 2022 Releases That I Want To See:
Across The Spider-Verse, Suzume no tojimari, The Black Phone (Joe Hill fan!), Thor, Top Gun: Maverick, Turning Red, Doctor Strange, Don’t Worry Darling, Nightmare Alley, Lightyear, Minions (Hey, I like those cheeky little dudes!).
Hope I manage to see these by the end of 2022…
Here’s Radiohead since I mentioned it in The Unforgivable.
Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitán, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama
Music by Germaine Franco
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.
I’ve been putting together my 2021 Top Ten Movies list & it’s been an extremely disappointing year. Okay – to be fair, I’ve not yet seen all the stuff that’s only had cinema releases so far. Hooray for Disney Plus, at least! Easily the streaming service I used the most this year, especially for the Marvel series stuff (I’m not even a big Marvel fan but those were good). So I’m glad I squeezed in two more movies this past week that are making my 2021 Top Ten List (this & Ron’s Gone Wrong).
Enjoyed this one although, in all honesty, it’s not exactly up there with Disney’s all-time best. I don’t know if it’s partly hurt by seeing these Disney films at home now & making them feel like the “straight-to-video” stuff from my younger years. I don’t think so, though – plenty of my all-time favorites are ones I never saw in the cinema. And I didn’t mean to imply that Encanto felt “straight-to-video” as it’s much better than that. So ignore my rambling! Maybe it’s what my hubby moaned about after seeing it (the 3D animation or whatever). I do definitely prefer the more timeless classic animation of older Disney movies. Okay, yeah, maybe it’s that! Just trying to figure out why a lot of Disney movies from recent years aren’t fully connecting with me. Oh well – they’re still much better than that dodgy late ’90s/early 2000s New Groove Hercules Hunchback era.
Should I shut up & talk about Encanto?! What I liked: the main girl (Mirabel) was likeable (and I liked her dress and, as a glasses wearer, her funky glasses), the different magical powers each family member had were fun, I liked the cute little cousin who was due to get his own power & the cousin who could hear everything, and the overall message about the importance of family was good. The weakest thing? Unfortunately, that was maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs. A couple of them were “fun” but not very memorable & certainly none that would end up all-time classics unlike his brilliant How Far I’ll Go from Moana. And, okay, I suppose the animation style wasn’t my favorite but it was still a lovely looking film. Also, I think the message was a bit muddled. Be supportive of family? Be true to yourself? You don’t have to be perfect? Which are all good things so not really an issue – I just wasn’t sure what the main point was.
I really enjoyed this but it’s one where I can’t currently tell if it’ll go up or down in my estimation. Moana grew on me a lot & I’ve happily seen it several times now as it’s a favorite of my daughter’s. Soul is one I thought looked lovely but I’ve never once thought about sticking it on for a rewatch. And I know I have zero interest in rewatching Luca. I think rewatchability is important with Disney & Pixar and I don’t know yet if Encanto is a multiple-watcher. I’d say it is more so than a couple I’ve mentioned. I’m also still trying to decide if I’d rank it just above or below Raya And The Last Dragon. I think Raya is more “me” and I preferred it feeling like a more traditional (sort of Princess) Disney movie plus I preferred its style & loved Tuk Tuk. But I think Encanto was maybe the slightly better film. Dunno. They’re close. I’ll have to decide before I post my Top Ten next week!
What a wishy-washy review. I think my point is this: I really enjoyed Encanto although it hasn’t instantly grabbed me like a lot of other Disney & Pixar films have but maybe it would grow on me after a rewatch.
Based on The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mark Strong
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Set in London during the punk rock movement of the 1970s, the film revolves around Estella Miller, an aspiring fashion designer, as she explores the path that will lead her to become a notorious up-and-coming fashion designer known as Cruella de Vil.
Hmm. I was all prepared to absolutely hate this. I’m not a huge fan of Emma Stone and I’m also really annoyed with them rehashing great animated Disney classics to make shitty live action movies (just to extend the rights to these characters for longer or whatever – I know it’s some greedy business deal thing like that). And I love One Hundred And One Dalmatians. Now I’m kind of annoyed that this movie didn’t totally suck. To be fair, I’ve not hated these “villain origin” stories quite as much as the completely pointless straight copies such as Beauty And The Beast. Heck, I kind of liked the Maleficent films. But I also don’t think we need a backstory to make us feel sympathy for the villains. Can’t they sometimes just be evil for no reason? Am I meant to like Cruella now even though she later wants to skin adorable puppies?! By the way, I had her reason for hating dalmatians ruined before seeing this. Oh man is it DUMB. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that bit at the beginning. But what I don’t understand is that she later finds out it’s not exactly what she thought so, by the end of the movie, she doesn’t really hate dalmatians so we still don’t have a reason as to why she later wants to skin them. So the start was pointless. WTF? Is she just plain evil after all? Stupid.
Okay – I still didn’t love Emma Stone but the outfits were fun and Emma Thompson seemed to be having a blast as a truly evil bitch and the soundtrack was awesome. Some of the song choices made no sense and some were so damn obvious it was almost embarrassing. But, dammit, some of my absolute favorite songs were in this. It annoyed me. Don’t taint good music!!! I won’t go listing them all but a few of the best were Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones (god that was obvious but goddamn it’s a good song), Time Of The Season by The Zombies & I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges (though performed by an actor – oh my god kind of an obvious choice but not really as slightly obscure and I love that song sooooooo much that I’m annoyed it’s been introduced to Millennials now thanks to Emma f*%king Stone!!!!). 😉 Honestly. Ugh. It’s like when the youngsters suddenly liked some ’70s songs after they heard them in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Old music is the best! It’s been around for years! Seek some songs out before they’re put into cheesy Disney movies!
So… I loved this soundtrack. And I’m annoyed that it was so good. It really did help elevate the film as I thought the story was pretty ridiculous and unnecessary. But the film’s look & sound were good. They did well with that. It was a much better movie overall than I’d been expecting it to be. Damn.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Gotta end this with I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges (love Iggy Pop):
My kid watched Jungle Cruise with a friend yesterday. I’ve not seen it so asked her if she’d like to write a quick review for my blog. So here’s a 12-year-old’s opinion of Jungle Cruise… 😊
Jungle Cruise (2021)
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Based on The Jungle Cruise by Walt Disney
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Édgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti
My kid’s review
short synopsis :
lily houghton has a goal she’s trying to reach. she needs the tears of the moon to heal sicknesses, fevers etc. she steals the arrowhead, which helps her locate the tears, and sets off to find them. though others want the arrowhead as well and go after her. lily runs off looking for a cruise with a skipper and they make a swift escape 😁
my opinion :
it was decent. it got a bit slow at times and i got a little bored during parts of it but big twists kept coming that stopped me from getting really bored ( even though i’m smart enough to guess the plot twists before they even happen because they’re all cliché 🙄 )
it could have been better though because lots of it was predictable and quite often the stuff would chop and change way too quickly and i’d look away for a few seconds then not know what was going on.
Well, I posted a “Goodbye” post last week but I already had this post 90% written so there was no point keeping it in Drafts. I’ve now negotiated new marital terms & conditions and I might be allowed to watch some movies in July. So, yay, I guess maybe I’ll have some movies for a “July Roundup” post next month& this won’t have to become a cooking blog! Good, because I don’t want to learn how to cook.
So here are the SIXTEEN MOVIES I watched in June. Hope that number is acceptable!
MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):
– Gandhi – I finally made myself watch a film that fulfils both my Best Picture Project AND my IMDb Top 250 Challenge! It was between this & Lawrence Of Arabia which I also really need to get around to watching. Gandhi won because, I’ll be totally honest, it’s about half an hour shorter. Well, this film is fantastic & I’m so glad I finally took the time to watch it. In fact, I can now say I have a new “best & favorite film watched in 2021” so I’m happy enough to take a small movie break now since I’ve finally watched a truly great film.
I’m absolutely rubbish when it comes to having, well, pretty much any historical knowledge. So I admittedly knew very little about Gandhi & can’t comment on this film’s accuracy, though what little I’ve read since seems to be what I saw in this movie. But, as a film, it’s excellent and fully deserving of a Best Picture Oscar. Remember when Best Pictures gave us truly epic filmmaking like this?! I miss those days. Let’s see what it beat: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Missing, Tootsie & The Verdict. Well, I’ve only seen Tootsie & E.T., which I love, but I think I can safely say that Gandhi is the clear winner here despite not seeing the other two. Gandhi won eight of its eleven nominations. Richard Attenborough also deservingly won Best Director & Ben Kingsley won for his absolutely brilliant performance as Mahatma Gandhi. It was worth watching just for his performance, as I thought it was truly one of the best performances I’ve ever seen (and I watch a lot of movies – just ask my family!). But, luckily, the movie lived up to its great central performance as well. I feel the actors can sometimes outshine a film & I prefer a really good film to a really good performance. I was very happy to get both in this case.
When it comes to movies like these, I don’t know what else to say. The awards were rightly deserved & I highly recommend it to all film lovers. A great film is a great film. What annoys me is that this film is shockingly not in the IMDb Top 250 anymore. I’m still working off the 2013 Top 250 list and classics such as Gandhi are being replaced by too many current releases now such as the Marvel superhero films. I think IMDb need to re-think how they determine what ends up in the 250! Infinity War is NOT better than Gandhi. Ridiculous! I know it’s just a stupid list but people do look at it & really good old films are now not getting the recognition they still deserve. – 8.5/10
– Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Not entirely sure why but I really liked this movie. Just like with The Woman In The Window, I read the book in preparation for the film but then the movie took years to come out so I don’t even really remember the book now. Why didn’t this film come out in the U.K. until 2021?! So I re-read my mini-review of the book (HERE) & I was very meh about it. I think, in the film, I could just really relate to Cate Blanchett’s character. Not her genius, of course, because I suck at everything – I mean her social awkwardness & introversion. She’s a good character & I felt for her losing her way & giving up on something she loved. And I had completely forgotten this was a Richard Linklater film (so I may be in trouble for watching this alone as the hubby & I are both fans but I can’t see him liking this). It’s not as good as his best movies but it’s still a decent film – it’s just very unlike his other stuff. Not everyone will go for this but I think those who buy into Blanchett’s quirky character will enjoy it. – 7/10
– From Here To Eternity – Another movie watched for my Best Picture Project! I’m on a roll! This was also good but not nearly as good as Gandhi. I of course have wanted to see this for years because of that kiss on the beach scene up there. It’s one of those scenes where, unfortunately, it’s not as romantic as I was expecting. In fact, the guy is sort of a jerk in the scene (but I know this was set during WWII and women were treated differently then – I don’t judge old movies based on modern values). Anyway, that’s now three Deborah Kerr movies I’ve watched this year so I’m on a roll with her too! I preferred the others, Black Narcissus & The Innocents, but she was really good in all of these & I’m amazed I’d seen her in so little before now. Everyone was good in this & I was surprised to see Donna Reed as she’s so linked to It’s A Wonderful Life for me. But I was most surprised to like Frank Sinatra’s character the most as I wasn’t really a fan of him as a person. But his character was a strong one & I thought he was really good in this. It’s a good film & probably worthy of its Best Picture Oscar but it’s not going to be a favorite of mine of all the winners. Here’s what it beat: Julius Caesar, The Robe, Roman Holiday & Shane. I’ve only seen the latter two but I’d say the three I’ve seen are equally good. – 7/10
– Raya And The Last Dragon – Managed to review this in full at the link. I enjoyed this. I’m always excited for a new animated Disney film but this didn’t quite live up to other recent ones such as Moana. Still a fun film, though, and Raya as a character is a good addition to all the other strong female Disney characters. – 7/10
– One Cut Of The Dead(カメラを止めるな!, Kamera o Tomeru na!) – This was fun! I found it weirdly…. Wholesome? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.” This is a Japanese horror comedy (or, I guess, a ZomCom) & it’s one where you’re better off not knowing too much before watching it. It also gets better as it goes along so stick with it – I really enjoyed the final act of this movie when it all comes together. The characters were good & I liked the family of three who are involved in the film (especially the mother who goes a little overboard). And it’s not at all “gory” so is worth a watch if you want a lighthearted ZomCom. This was on Film4 in the U.K. but, sadly, I think it has disappeared by now. Sorry! I should review movies while they’re still available to watch. – 7/10
– Misbehaviour – I really enjoyed this film based on an interesting true story despite my weird hatred for Keira Knightley (her acting bothers me yet I seem to watch all her damn movies?!). I’ve already reviewed it in full so here’s the very basic IMDb synopsis: “A group of women hatch a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.” Recommended if you want to watch some women try to bring down the patriarchy & all that. – 7/10
– Timecop – This is now the second Jean-Claude Van Damme film I’ve ever watched after seeing Bloodsport a couple of months ago. Goddamn, that movie was FUN! I liked it so much I gave it a full-length review HERE. It was cheesy & cliché & just the right amount of ridiculous to make it into that “so bad it’s good” category (like my beloved Road House!). Timecop, unfortunately, was not nearly as much fun but I did still quite enjoy it and also give it a full review at the link. I’m totally going to watch more Van Damme movies because I want to see how many different ways he can do those sexy splits. – 6.5/10
– Shoplifters Of The World – I reviewed this as well. I liked the idea behind it but the way they shoved The Smiths & quotes from their songs very awkwardly into this story as much as possible sadly felt too forced. Here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in Denver, four friends reel from the sudden break up of The Smiths, while the local radio station is held at gunpoint by a fan, forcing a disgruntled heavy metal DJ to play The Smiths all night.” Yeah, that’s a great idea and could’ve been a great movie if done right. I still enjoyed it, though, and liked hearing all The Smiths songs in it. But for a movie that better incorporated a band’s music into an interesting story, I far preferred Yesterday with all of The Beatles music. – 6.5/10
– Kajillionaire – As I said recently in my Butt Boy review, I like weird movies. This is mainly because I watch so many films that it’s nice to see ones that aren’t so predictable for a change. But the weird movies are rarely good movies & some are just plain bad. I’m not sure how I feel about this weird one about a family of three who try to get through life by engaging in small crimes. It’s not bad but I found it a bit of a chore to sit through and it wasn’t weird enough to keep me truly interested. Evan Rachel Wood was interesting as the very awkward daughter & I liked her relationship with Gina Rodriguez who befriends her & joins the family in their petty crimes. They were fun but the parents were hateful. It’s an awkward film and the tone was all over the place. It’s a hard one to describe. I did enjoy watching something so different & unpredictable, though. Glad I watched it but I wouldn’t watch it again. – 6.5/10
– Poms – I liked this! It was a bit dumb but fun. I’ve noticed I’m liking movies about old women more & more lately and I realised it’s probably because I’m getting soooo old & that’s depressing. But I’ve loved The Golden Girls since a young age so maybe I just like fun female friendships. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Poms is a 2019 American comedy film directed by Zara Hayes, starring Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Celia Weston, Alisha Boe, Phyllis Somerville, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill, and Rhea Perlman. The film follows a group of women from a retirement community who decide to start a cheerleading squad.” As you can see it has an impressive cast & I especially enjoyed the friendship between Diane Keaton & Jacki Weaver. The movie is a bit silly & slightly far-fetched at times but it’s a nice story about friendship & living your life. – 6.5/10
– When A Stranger Calls – I’d been wanting to see this 1979 horror classic for years! “Have you checked the children?” Such a famous line & I think every teen in the ’80s knew where those calls were coming from even if we hadn’t seen this movie. And, yeah, the beginning of this movie is GREAT. The beginning, as a short story on its own, is a classic. I have a feeling that the beginning bit is all that anyone truly remembers because, man, this one falls apart in the middle. It kind of completely goes in a different direction & we don’t see Carol Kane again until the very end when it finally picks up slightly again. So I’m glad I finally watched this but it felt like I’d already seen it since I knew all about the beginning. Didn’t realize there would be so little of that good stuff & then the rest of the movie would drag. But I’m still giving it an extra half a point for having such a well known & often spoofed beginning. – 6.5/10
– Saint Maud – Watched this British psychological horror as so many went on about it but it’s one of those films being raved over for the performance. And I agree that Morfydd Clark was very good so this was worth watching for that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The story follows hospice nurse Maud (portrayed by Morfydd Clark), a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, who becomes obsessed with a former dancer in her care (Jennifer Ehle), believing she must save her soul.” The movie is fine but does drag a bit. I did like the slowly building tension, though, and thought the ending was good. Not one I’d watch again but am glad I checked out. I recommend it only if you like the more serious type of horrors with good acting. Oh! And was I going crazy or did her face do a weird Soundgarden Black Hole Sun video thing a couple of times when she was having one of her God orgasms?? That was kind of freaky fun. – 6.5/10
– Martha Marcy May Marlene – This was okay but not really my sort of thing. I think I put it on as I’m always a little fascinated by cults. As in, I don’t understand how people end up in them. I barely like people as it is so why would I want to live with a bunch of weirdos and have to farm & cook & clean for the rapeymen?? I wouldn’t say this film is a good exploration of cults & the thinking involved as you really get NO backstory on how Elizabeth Olsen’s character ended up in this cult or why she chose to stay or even why she chose to leave. I guess it’s a character study film & is more about the performances, which were fine. I suppose it’s a hard topic to explore, though, as I think it’s quite a hard thing for most people to understand. Well, as I said the performances were fine & Elizabeth Olsen gets naked a lot if you want to see that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The plot focuses on a young woman suffering from delusions and paranoia after returning to her family from an abusive cult in the Catskill Mountains.” – 6.5/10
– Luca – This movie was very sweet & the characters were likeable and I don’t feel right saying anything bad about it as it was so wholesome. But I mostly just found it boring. Unfortunately, it’s just not up to Pixar standards (but those standards are very high). – 6/10
– Antebellum – This was… Okay? I really like Janelle Monáe & she was the main reason I watched this so I wish it had been a better film for her. I think the idea for the story was good enough but the execution was pretty terrible. And Jena Malone was awful – I seem to always really dislike her acting (especially after she screwed the dead person in that stupid The Neon Demon pile of shit). I think her performance, as well as that of all the one-dimensional “baddies”, really hurt this movie. But more than anything, I think the big twist being SUCH a huge rip-off of a well known director’s movie really didn’t help (don’t want to name the director but you’ll know exactly what movie I mean if you watch this). It just made me think of how well the other director pulled off that twist & that it was a much better film than this one. Disappointing. – 6/10
Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous
– Stop Making Sense – I don’t really know what to say about a concert film. Weirdly, as a huge lover of movies as well as music, I for some reason never really watch any concerts. But I love the Talking Heads and this has had such great reviews that I decided to check it out since it’s now on Amazon Prime U.K. Yep – it’s great! David Byrne especially is so damn talented & I’ll always love that brilliant voice of his. It’s fantastic how it starts out so stripped down with only Byrne onstage then continues to build & build. I loved it but, hey, you have to love the band to love the concert, right? I’d definitely recommend this but only to Talking Heads fans or to those who maybe don’t know their stuff but want to check it out (makes me sad to type that but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m super old & some readers may not have even heard of the Talking Heads). Hey, my preteen loves them! Especially Psycho Killer. Hmm. Does that make me a good or a bad parent?! (I think it makes me cool). 🙂 – 8/10
– Us Again – Enjoyed this lovely short on Disney Plus (which I think was meant to be the one before Raya And The Last Dragon?). Could very much relate to the feeling of being old & not living life to its fullest. Also a nice love story in this one. Very sweet.
Launchpad Shorts On Disney Plus:
Watched this new series on Disney Plus as well. All good & worth a quick watch. I won’t go into the details of each but I’ll rank them starting with my favorite. The two kids were so cute in The Little Prince(ss)…
The Little Prince(ss)
The Last of the Chupacabras
Let’s Be Tigers
Dinner Is Served
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE
– The Running Man by Stephen King – Finally finished re-reading The Bachman Books collection. The Long Walk is still easily my favorite, Rage is okay, and Roadwork is a bit crap. The Running Man is my second favorite of the four. I think it’s a good story & am looking forward to the new film adaptation from Edgar Wright (if that’s still happening??). But I did also really like the Schwarzenegger film which, if I remember, was nothing whatsoever like the book anyway?! Need to rewatch that now to refresh my memory of that too. What can I say? I like dystopian future stories and I liked this world where people have to “play for their lives” on game shows. I didn’t find this story very far-fetched when I first read it over 20 years ago & I find it even more plausible now. The ending is maybe a little silly but, whatever – it’s Stephen King! Who cares. I’m a fan. I feel like I’ve read only Stephen King books in 2021, though. Hmm. Oh well – libraries have been closed thanks to the pandemic & I mainly only buy King’s stuff these days so it’s pretty much all I have to read in the house. 🙂 – 3.5/5
– Later by Stephen King – Stephen King again! This is the third of his in this Hard Case Crime series & I’ve enjoyed them all. They’re much shorter & “lighter” reads than his huge horror tomes. This is probably my least favorite of the three, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s about a kid who sees dead people (yeah, kind of like in The Sixth Sense but not really & they do reference that film in this). It’s a solid ghost story with a likeable kid. It’s possibly a little forgettable but it’s a quick & fun read. My favorite in this series is still Joyland, which I loved, and second is The Colorado Kid which felt very different from King’s “horror” stories. Maybe I should check out some of the many non-King books in this series?? – 3/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
Keeping what I say very short!!
– Loki: S1 E1-4– Enjoying this!! Liking it FAR more than The Falcon & The Winter Soldier but still prefer WandaVision.
– Children Of The Stones: S1 E4 – Still liking this & wish the hubby would make the time to finish it with me!!! I reviewed what I’ve seen so far HERE if you’re wondering what the heck this is.
– My Name Is Earl: S2 E5-9 – Still funny!
– Grey’s Anatomy: S17 E10-13 – Still annoying!
– The Masked Dancer U.K. – This was a bit stupid & I can’t for the life of me remember who won.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Need to watch fewer movies (not my choice!) but plan to be back in August with a post of what I watched in July.
I always end with music I liked in a movie I watched. Screw The Smiths – I have to go with something from Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense! BUT, I just have to go with this Kermit The Frog version of one of my all-time favorite songs: Once In A Lifetime…
Can’t believe I didn’t review these two big new Disney & Pixar releases right away. Well, I’ll be posting my June Roundup post next week but figured I better give these slightly more than just the mini-reviews in those posts. Here we go…
Raya And The Last Dragon (2021)
Directed by Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada
Starring: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Thalia Tran, Lucille Soong, Alan Tudyk
Music by James Newton Howard
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) In a realm known as Kumandra, a re-imagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization, a warrior named Raya is determined to find the last dragon.
I was weirdly looking forward to this. Well, maybe that’s not weird? Plenty of middle-aged women love Disney movies. My mom & grandma do too. We grew up with them. I thought this looked really good in the trailer & watched it as soon as it became available as part of the Disney Plus subscription. It’s good. I liked the animation and there were some strong characters & a decent story. Is it as strong as Disney’s very best films? No, but it’s far from the worst and has quite a reputation to live up to if compared to the best. It’s also sadly not nearly good as Moana, which it’s of course going to be compared to the most as that’s also quite recent & wasvery good. Who cares? It’s still an enjoyable film. And I loved her pet Tuk Tuk! Forget the dragons – I want my own Tuk Tuk!
I’m sure what either does or very much doesn’t work for people watching this is Awkwafina as Sisu the dragon. She’s very “love her or hate her”. Well, luckily I like her (and her vag) just fine so I liked her as the quirky dragon. But I prefer when Disney doesn’t use very obvious voices & over-the-top comedians who can throw you out of the story a bit & make the films less “timeless”. I’m actually not crazy about Robin Williams in Aladdin for this same reason & I liked Williams as an actor & comedian a lot (RIP – I will forever be sad about that). I guess I just like my Disney films to stand the test of time but, hey, I’m old school. Or maybe just old… Oh well – I liked the Awkwafina dragon anyway. And I loved Tuk Tuk, as I said, and of course Raya is yet another great new addition to the “strong female Disney characters” thing so I was happy as they’re really the three main characters we see the most. Oh, and Raya’s dad was kinda hot.
I think this movie unfortunately loses its way in the middle of the film. It started out very strong and the ending was fine (although, come to think of it, I kind of can’t fully remember the ending now!). I feel like I say this in half my reviews lately (I’m old & I’m tired) but I did snooze a little in the middle so could do with watching this again sometime. I liked it enough that I wouldn’t mind a rewatch. I think, mainly, too many additional characters got added along the way and they weren’t that great compared to those I’ve already mentioned. In fact, one was really annoying (the dumb baby). Even my daughter was like “that baby is dumb” so I’m afraid my pickiness about movies is rubbing off on her. (Dumb baby is in the image below). There was also probably a bit too much going on story-wise for any young kids to follow with so many different regions fighting each other and so many characters to keep track of. I feel a little unfair rating this when I know I could do with rewatching it. But the middle bit & the dumb baby did make me lose interest for a while. Maybe I’ll change my mind & up the rating half a point after a rewatch.
My Rating: 7/10
Directed by Enrico Casarosa
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli, Jim Gaffigan
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.
My beloved Pixar! I’m such a big Pixar fan. I think their best movies are among some of the very best movies overall, even compared to non-animated films. And anyone who knows me knows I love to rank movies so, if you really need to know, here’s my Pixar ranking (from my least favorite to my favorite):
Okay, I honestly feel really bad about putting Luca last as I thought it was a very sweet & very wholesome film. It was actually so sweet & felt so genuine that I don’t feel right saying anything bad about it. I really did feel like the filmmakers put their hearts into making this & that comes across in the movie. The two boys & the girl they befriended were likeable and watching the movie was… Pleasant? Like, it would be impossible to think mean & nasty thoughts while watching this. It was a nice, peaceful family film.
But I was mostly just bored. And, yes, I fell asleep in the middle of this one too (I did catch up on what I missed later). I’m sorry! I apologise to the filmmakers! Your movie is very sweet and the main three characters are very nice! I complained a bit about Raya having too many characters but I think Luca is missing all the extra “small role” characters that Pixar always do soooo well. Look at how awesome each & every character is in things like Toy Story & Finding Nemo, even down to the ones with very few or even no lines (especially those turtles, dudes!). I wasn’t interested in any of the lesser characters in Luca. Okay, yes – it meant they really got to focus on the main three friends but I’m used to Pixar giving us loads of characters to love in every film. The other characters in Luca were bland other than maybe the weird uncle (I think) who lived very deep in the sea & was nice & weird. Yeah, of course I liked the weird sea monster with no social skills! That’s what this movie needed: More weirdos. It was far too wholesome. I also wasn’t crazy about the animation, which was disappointing as I did like the director’s lovely Pixar short La Luna . This just didn’t look like a Pixar film to me. I guess the style worked better as a short film.
I’ll finish this before I say anything too negative because I don’t think this movie deserves that. It’s certainly not a bad film. Not at all. It’s just not up to Pixar standards. To be fair, I was maybe a little harsh putting it below Cars 2 which I don’t even remember. But, as much as I almost hate those Cars movies, I have to admit those still did a decent job with having more than only three good characters. Sorry. I wanted to like this much more! It did have a lovely message about not hiding your true self so that was nice. (I need to stop saying “nice”)
Happy February! Will try to stick to my resolution to at least post these monthly roundups (and hopefully on time) this year.
As January, the absolute dreariest & most depressing month of the year, was extra depressing this year thanks to the C word (not that C word) I watched way too many movies in an attempt to cheer up. So I’ll keep my comments on each brief.
MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):
– When Marnie Was There – There are very few Studio Ghibli movies I’ve not yet seen (mainly just have the non-Miyazaki ones left to watch). Desperate to see them all but also hate the thought of running out of them! So finally decided to watch this one & absolutely loved it. It just makes it into my Top Ten (which I need to update now) and is easily a favorite of the non-Miyazaki films. What I really liked was the story – there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding Marnie & I loved finding out her history. It’s a lovely, bittersweet film and was a great one to watch with my daughter, who also really enjoyed it. – 8/10
– It Happened One Night – Although I’ve slowed way down on my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge, I still try to watch a few Top 250 movies a year. This Frank Capra film was one I’d most been looking forward to watching & it didn’t disappoint. Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert were absolutely adorable together. I’m not exactly a girly girl & romance isn’t my favorite genre but I do seem to prefer the relationships in these older films. The couples had great chemistry in movies like these. Delightful movie! I should watch more pre-1970 films than I do. – 8/10
– Black Narcissus(1947) – I thought this was some big classic but I don’t actually know anyone who has heard of it? Well, I think there’s some British TV adaptation right now that I have no interest in. I just know I’d seen images of the eerie looking building & bell high on a cliff lots in the past and have wanted to watch this movie for years based on the images alone. Well, that and the name Black Narcissus because it just sounds cool (named after a perfume if I remember correctly from the movie). Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb for those unfamiliar with this British classic: “A group of nuns struggle to establish a convent in the Himalayas, while isolation, extreme weather, altitude, and culture clashes all conspire to drive the well-intentioned missionaries mad.”
I enjoyed this one. It’s a beautiful looking film (as I was hoping from the images) and Deborah Kerr as Sister Clodagh is fascinating as the very stern nun in charge. There’s slowly building tension throughout, leading to an intense finale I’m happy had never been spoiled for me. There’s also a bit of sexual tension with a handsome Englishman. Sexual tension in old movies is the best! It’s why I love Brief Encounter. Am very glad I finally got the chance to watch this one while it was on BBC iPlayer (sorry, think it’s gone now). – 8/10
**Decided to up the rating to 8…
– The Secret Of Kells – Having recently watched Tomm Moore’s gorgeous Wolfwalkers and having seen the equally beautiful Song Of The Sea a few years ago, I figured I’d finally check out his earliest animated film. For some reason, this one had appealed to me the least but I think I actually liked it the most. The animation style was of course fantastic (I’d happily put images from these films up on a wall) but I think I enjoyed the story in this one the most. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.”
If you’ve seen the others, I’d highly recommend this one as well. If you’ve seen none of these & like beautiful animation, fun characters & good folklore storytelling, these are all well worth your time. I saw this on iPlayer as well & think it’s still available. Here’s a second image from the film since there are so many great ones to choose from… – 7.5/10
– Bringing Up Baby – Another movie I was happy to catch on iPlayer (it’s still available) and another one I was happy to cross off my IMDb Top 250 list. Sadly this is one that has disappeared from the Top 250 since that 2013 list I’m still working from. This was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It’s one of those romantic “screwball comedies” from that era. I confess I don’t have much experience with this subgenre. I enjoyed this movie but not nearly as much as It Happened One Night. Grant & Hepburn are very cute together. Hepburn is truly the star of the film as the flighty & clumsy heiress with a leopard named Baby. It’s a sweet film & perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. – 7/10
– The Dig – This was fine. Not gonna lie – it’s not at all my type of thing but I’m absolutely desperate for current movie releases. Really missing my monthly cinema membership & seeing new releases regularly! I like Carey Mulligan, although her acting in these types of dramas is always a bit same-y, and I liked all of the characters in this (especially the Ralph Fiennes character). Speaking of cinema trips, you know what character I absolutely despised years ago?! That guy in those annoying Cineworld Unlimited adverts! Man, I still can’t believe he’s in actual movies now. I mean, he’s fine in this but he’ll forever be that jerk from those adverts to me (sorry, Johnny Flynn). Where was I? Oh yeah. This movie… The acting is fine, the true story is interesting if you like archaeology I guess, but it’s quite slow and character-driven so won’t be for everyone. I’m being generous with my rating as it’s a good enough movie but I’d never watch it again. – 6.5/10
– Pieces Of A Woman – Again, this isn’t really my type of movie. If I were being honest, I’d stick my next movie above this & The Dig but it’s not nearly as “good” as these two. This one is all about the acting & Vanessa Kirby does put in a good performance. I actually preferred her performance as Margaret in The Crown, though. She’s good in this but I also didn’t feel the performance lived up to the hype. Am I allowed to say that?! I also felt that way about the thoroughly overrated (and throughly boring) Marriage Story. Are people just less picky with Netflix movies or something? Or am I just too picky? Anyway, I did feel for these characters & their terrible tragedy, although they were all very hard people to like. But everyone deals with grief differently & I can understand Kirby’s character becoming so emotionally detached. Not an easy movie to watch and certainly not one I’d watch again. Man, Ellen Burstyn knows how to pick the “I never want to watch this again” movies! Imagine this as a double bill with Requiem For A Dream… Or Surviving!! Ha! Bet none of you youngsters have seen THAT one! (I actually watched that thoroughly depressing TV movie multiple times, though. Loved it. Zach Galligan! Molly Ringwald! River Phoenix! I’m so Gen X). – 6.5/10
– Escape Room – I enjoyed this, even though it was a bit f*^king ridiculous. Especially the very end, but most horror movies like these have stupid endings. I don’t know what to say about this… It’s the usual sort of shit but at least it has a fun idea & the different escape rooms the characters find themselves in are entertaining. When it comes to horror, I lower my expectations a lot as most modern horror sucks. I prefer the classics from the ’70s & ’80s. There have been some good ones in recent years, though (The Babadook, It Follows, and especially the delightfully bonkers Mandy which is very much my type of thing). But the good ones are rare so I’m happy to watch these lightweight & utterly predictable ones to pass the time in between the good ones. This was a bit like the recent Countdown and both have a Final Destination vibe (though not as good as that one, of course). Meh. I liked this. The characters were decent & the story was entertaining. I expect nothing more from this sort of thing. – 6/10
– Tangerine – Not sure how to go about reviewing this one. I can’t relate to the lives of these characters in any way whatsoever but I enjoyed watching this “day in the life” film (I like those) & really liked the main characters played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez & Mya Taylor. This is from Sean Baker, the same one who did The Florida Project. I quite liked The Florida Project but am still not sure why. Tangerine is very similar. I think I liked it? But I’m not sure why? If you like one, you’ll like the other (and if you hate one, you’ll hate the other). What an in-depth review! You’re welcome. Watch Tangerine if you like a good puke scene! (That was a lot of puke. Gross.) – 6.5/10
– Sputnik – I was excited about this. Foreign sci-fi!! A Russian Alien!! Sadly, I was disappointed. I think it had a good idea (even though, yes, it’s very similar to Alien), the alien dude thing looked good, and the acting was decent. There’s even a mini twist at the very end. But… I dunno. It just didn’t quite work. I can’t explain why, though, as this is totally my type of thing. Maybe my expectations were just too high as one of my favorites last year was a foreign dystopian sci-fi film (The Platform). – 6/10
– Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – This was pretty crap. I think my daughter just really likes to watch movies starring The Rock (me too). You never know what you’re gonna get with these family films, though. Many are rubbish. But then you get one where they actually put some effort in & every age group is actually able to enjoy it. I’m thinking of a recent reboot with The Rock: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle & The Next Level were loads of fun! Suppose we were hoping for something similar to those but this one was mostly just silly & had dodgy special effects. The tiny elephants were cute, though. I want one! Oh, we also read that you didn’t really need to see the first film first (2008’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth) but I’m thinking it would’ve helped. – 5/10
Movies Rewatched(lots of rewatches during lockdown! I don’t normally rewatch movies often– I’ll be even more brief):
– The Jungle Book (1967) – Classic! Love this one & it’s always been one of my favorites for Disney songs. – 8.5/10
– Despicable Me – I’m a Disney/Pixar/Studio Ghibli girl but I absolutely adore this Illumination film. The relationship between the adorably cheeky girls & hilariously grumpy Gru really makes these films work. AND a brilliant score from Pharrell Williams. AND, of course, the Minions. AND fluffy unicorns. “It’s so fluffy!” – 8.5/10
– WarGames – Hadn’t seen this in years. It has aged better than I was expecting (except for the actual technology, obviously). But it’s still a thoroughly entertaining story and I’ll forever love the ’80s films I grew up on. – 7.5/10
– Howl’s Moving Castle – (Original review HERE). As I said above, I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli & especially love the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Howl’s is as visually stunning & weird as all the rest but it’s never been an absolute favorite of mine as the story is just a bit too messy. I do love Ghibli weirdness but it just works better in Spirited Away for me. I’m still not sure what the heck is actually going on in Howl’s but do love the look & its characters (as with every Miyazaki movie). And Howl is hot with his Bowie-ness. – 7.5/10
– Police Academy – I’ll always love the ’80s & its inappropriate humor. This one was even more inappropriate than I remembered! Ha! Filth. Good thing it’s not on the Disney channel – they’d have to slap a huge disclaimer on it since, you know, humans can’t be trusted to judge these things for themselves & must have history censored for them. – 7/10
– National Lampoon’s Vacation – Surprisingly, I also hadn’t seen this John Hughes-written film in years either & was surprised to enjoy Police Academyslightly more. Not quite as good as I remembered but I still enjoyed it. Am just so used to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation now, which is far superior. – 7/10
– Idiocracy – Again, a film that wasn’t as good as I remembered. I think with this one, I just loved (and still absolutely love) the concept. It’s scarily accurate. Especially after the last four years… We really are turning into a bunch of f*!king morons. The movie becomes more accurate with every year that goes by & for that I think this Mike Judge story is brilliant even if the execution could’ve been better. – 6.5/10
– The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants – I really like this movie, even if it’s a little cheesy & “teenager”. Actually, my rating is a bit low as I probably don’t want to admit that I really like these characters & their stories. I like that we get four stories in one here (I always like movies like that – four for the price of one!). Some are better than others. I’ll rank them! The best story is definitely the Amber Tamblyn one where the cheeky young girl befriends her (that girl is the best character in the whole movie). Next is America Ferrera’s divorced family drama as I felt really bad for her (her dad & his new family were assholes & she was far too forgiving!). Next was the predictable Alexis Bledel Greece romance but Greece itself was gorgeous. Last was definitely the boring soccer romance drama (sorry, Blake Lively). Anyway, I like this movie more than I probably should & think my daughter really enjoyed it too. Much better than that Journey 2 crap! – 6.5/10
– The Shallows – (Original review HERE). Not sure why but I really like this Blake Lively shark attack story (more than her boring soccer romance drama – maybe this should’ve been her Sisterhood story!). It has a predictable backstory setup but, hey, the pretty blonde needs a reason to want to survive. Maybe I just like shark attack movies. I do enjoy most any kind of disaster movie… – 6.5/10
– Pixar Popcorn – Of course we watched all of these super short Pixar shorts. For the most part, they’re not nearly as good as the longer ones we get before films (of course), but there are a few really fun ones here. Surprisingly, I liked the Ducky & Bunny ones the most (they weren’t favorite characters of mine from Toy Story 4). But the one where they argue over who is more lovable is hilarious. Here, I’ll rank them since I’m a pathetic, ranking fool!! (from best to “worst” but of course all are good):
1. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love
2. Dory Finding
3. Cookie Num Num
4. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads
5. Chore Day – The Incredibles Way
6. Soul of the City
7. To Fitness and Beyond
8. Dancing with the Cars
9. A Day in the Life of the Dead
10. Unparalleled Parking
– Modest Heroes (Kanini & Kanino, Life Ain’t Gonna Lose & Invisible) – Watched this collection on Netflix of three shorts from Studio Ponoc, who made the delightful Mary And The Witch’s Flower (from people previously with Studio Ghibli). These were fine but a little underwhelming. The final one, about a lonely guy no one can see, is the best. It’s still worth checking out these shorts if you like anime.
– Canvas – This was a lovely short on Netflix as well about a man who loses his passion for painting after his wife dies. Not as powerful as If Anything Happens I Love You but still good.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY
– Demon Seed by Dean Koontz – Am a big Dean Koontz fan (did a Top Ten list HERE). Honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read this one years ago but think I only saw the 1977 Julie Christie movie based on it. What was disappointing was that I didn’t realise the version I have is actually one that Koontz later re-wrote to update the technology in it & I assume references to specific actresses. I’m old – I can handle reading about out-dated technology. I’M out-dated technology! Anyway, this book is interesting as I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of machines taking over. (They will, you know!!). But it’s also creepy & very rape-y so not one I’d recommend easily to absolutely anyone. There’s a real “woman hating” thing going on here, but I think part of the point of the book is the dreaded “toxic masculinity”. I do wonder if that was as much a part of the original book or if Koontz put more of that in to fit more with the topics of today. – 3/5
Currently Reading Moon by James Herbert as I enjoyed that freaky deaky The Rats book.
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Cobra Kai: Season 3– I’ve gone on about how much I adore Cobra Kai in previous posts so I won’t do that again. I’ll just say that I still love it. As expected, many shows go downhill and that’s the case with seasons 2 & 3 of Cobra Kai too but, luckily, I’d say they’re only going slightly downhill. This isn’t Stranger Things, where I couldn’t even finish Season 3. I still loved every moment of Cobra Kai Season 3 & the writing is still sharp and the characters are still strong. But, at this point, they’ve now covered most everything they can from the films and the teens have all fought each other in every way possible so I don’t see where they can easily go from here. But I’ll keep watching because I love these characters (especially Johnny – still can’t believe they turned that asshole around!).
– The Crown: Season 2 & 2 episodes of Season 3: Oh man, I’m really not feeling the new cast in Season 3. Give me Claire Foy back! I hope these get better again, because I thought the first two seasons were great even though I only started watching this to get to the Diana years in Season 4…
– WandaVision: Season 1 – Episodes 1-4 – I’m not a huge Marvel fan, although I’ve watched all the MCU movies and do like the characters. Am not sure what to think of this show but do love how original it feels. Being an ’80s latchkey kid who grew up watching loads of reruns of shows from the ’50s through to the late ’80s, I’ll always be fond of those shows and like that WandaVision is paying tribute to them (although the fake WandaVision shows aren’t as good as the original classic shows they’re spoofing). After episode four, I’m glad the story seems to be going in the direction I was expecting & I’m looking forward to watching the story fully unfold. But I’m hoping we get back to sitcoms next week as I want to see which ’80s one they do!
– History Of Swear Words – This was fine. A fun throwaway show with lots of swearing. I love swearing, dammit. They covered a different word in each episode. Damn was one – how mild is THAT?! That’s not a swear word. Damn. Nicolas Cage was the perfect host for this. Although Samuel L. Jackson would have been better… Whoa – I have to update my Nicolas Cage Top Ten list!! Mandy would be number one now.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
No plans besides posting these monthly updates. But I’ve been contemplating doing Top Ten lists again as I always enjoyed those…
What I’m really enjoying is trying to make the time to read movie blogs again. I miss the old days (I’ve been here 8 years) but there are some great new blogs. Have been feeling out of touch on movie releases where release dates are a nightmare thanks to the C word & I’ve not had time to read blogs to keep informed. And an old favorite blogger is back! Yay!! I mean old as in was here when I started… (I’d link him but not sure if he’s keeping a low profile). 🙂
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
No clue. Are any movies coming out?! As I said, I’m very out of touch. I still need to catch up on 2020 films that haven’t been on U.K. streaming services yet…
As I end these posts with a music clip, I’ll go with a favorite from The Jungle Book as I mentioned loving the songs in that.
I’m going to finish out the year by posting my monthly roundup of what I watched & read in December. I’ll then try to post some 2020 Top Ten Lists the rest of this week, although that’s been weird to put together this time & to try to figure out which movies were actually released in 2020 in the U.K. (a lot in my list were 2019 in the U.S.). It’s also been a terrible year for movies – I think it’s the first time there were no movies I rated above 7.5/10 all year. Very disappointing, even including the older films I chose to watch. I’ll miss doing the Blind Spot project, as that always meant I saw at least a few excellent films each year.
But first, here’s my month of December 2020…
*Edited to add two things I forgot I watched. How could I forget Wolfwalkers?! That was pretty good.
MOVIES WATCHED IN DECEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– Calamity Jane – Caught this on TV & thoroughly enjoyed it. Was surprised it’s now one of my favorites this year. Hubby thought it was crazy I’d never seen it but I’d barely even heard of it. I sometimes wonder if certain films ended up slightly more popular in the U.K. than in the U.S.? Like, maybe they were shown on TV a lot more when people were growing up here. Anyway – I think it’s also my first Doris Day movie too (not counting that Hitchcock movie since I’ve of course watched his biggest films). Day is great in this! I liked the character a lot. She’s feisty & funny. And it’s proof there were strong female lead roles, even back in 1953. The only slight negative I’d say is that none of the songs stuck with me (I can’t remember any of them at the moment). Wasn’t sure whether to rank this above or below Meet Me In St. Louis (also a first-time watch this year). I’d probably put it just below it, as I remember two songs very well from that one & The Trolley Song is a classic plus I really like Judy Garland. However, I have to say I enjoyed the overall story & especially the main character in Calamity Jane more plus it had some great humor. A truly fun musical. – 7.5/10
– Soul – Trying to figure out how to review this one. I think I’m tougher on Pixar movies as I hold them to a higher standard. They’ve made movies I consider all-time classics up there with any of the non-animated films considered by many to be masterpieces. So, even when I’m disappointed with a Pixar movie, it’s still usually a much better film than movies made by other animation studios. Soul is like that. As a Pixar movie, I’m a little disappointed. But it’s still a gorgeous piece of animation & still far better than the type of stuff we get from the likes of DreamWorks.
I think, mainly, I felt let down by the ending. It didn’t fully tie things up the way I expect from a Pixar film. It didn’t feel like the fully rounded sort of story we always get from the studio. What becomes of both of them? Has he really learned his lesson? Too many things still felt unresolved at the end (and one specific thing was hinted at early in the film & nothing comes of it in the end so what was the point?). I don’t know. I always hate being so picky with Pixar but that’s just because they have several truly brilliant films. And as a music lover, I think I was hoping to enjoy and feel more of a love for music in Soul as well. But in the end, it’s not really about music at all (sorry – spoiler sort of). And then the actual score was something I sadly didn’t even notice. When I think of Inside Out, I immediately think of that amazing Michael Giacchino score. That’s one of the finest scores of the past 20 years. It’s gorgeous. Same with the scores forWALL-E& Finding Nemo. Pixar have had many great scores so, for a movie whose main character is obsessed with music, I was hoping for more from the score.
Well, Soul is still a lovely film even if it didn’t live up to Pixar’s very best for me. I think it didn’t help that, unfortunately, our two main characters are… Unlikeable? Yeah, a bit. Which is fine for a story where the whole point is to become a better person. Hell, that’s the moral of the story in most every movie that gets made, isn’t it?? But, in this case, we didn’t get enough of a pay off at the end to make up for that. I honestly thought, at the very least, there’d be an end credits scene which would show us more of the end result. I think just one additional short scene like that would have really added to the story & I’d be rating it more highly instead of feeling unsatisfied. The barbershop scene was good – It would’ve been good to see more of his life as the “living people” bits were better than the little blue “soul people” bits. I didn’t feel like I got to know his character. And I think the story just ended up too convoluted to really get its point across to the audience. Inside Out also dealt with very complex themes but in a much more coherent way with a satisfying ending. – 7/10
– Wolfwalkers – This was a really lovely film. I love the artwork. I felt the same way about Tomm Moore’s Song Of The Sea. Gorgeous. (I’ve not seen The Secret Of Kells). But, for whatever reason, I didn’t love either of these movies although they’re both very good. I slightly preferred Song Of The Sea, which was quite bittersweet. Both movies had good stories that I just didn’t fully connect with despite the girls in Wolfwalkers being good characters and the wolfwalker girl especially being feisty & fun. I think the movies themselves just don’t quite live up to the great visuals. But I’d happily stick images from these movies up on a wall. They feel almost more like pieces of art than films. – 7/10
– The Midnight Sky – Sci-fi is a favorite genre of mine so I rarely dislike movies like this. I liked this one but would have to say it’s not for everyone. It has an extremely slow pace, so I can see those who aren’t big sci-fi fans not necessarily having the patience for this one. Loving ’70s sci-fi, I’m fine with loooong & drawn-out sci-fi films as so many old ones are like that. To be honest, I don’t think The Midnight Sky is “good enough” to have had a cinema release (don’t know if that was the plan?) but as a “straight to Netflix” film it’s fine. It’s a good sci-fi film with a predictable but decent twist. I liked it. – 7/10
– The Trial Of The Chicago 7 – I’m not really a fan of courtroom dramas & this one started out VERY slow. I also have zero knowledge when it comes to history so knew nothing about this story. What didn’t help was that the first half of the movie doesn’t tell you what the hell actually happened. It’s not until about halfway through that they show you the actual incident that took place to lead to the trial. Then it got good – the second half of this was far better than the start. I thought Sacha Baron Cohen was especially good as Abbie Hoffman but all the acting was pretty top-notch. And, hey – the real-life guy played by Eddie Redmayne ended up marrying Jane Fonda (thanks, Wikipedia). I think this is just a very interesting real-life story that we didn’t get to actually see as the focus was on the trial. I’d rather have seen this story play out from the start with the trial at the end of the movie. And each of the 7 characters (well, 8 – one was falsely accused) are worthy of their own separate movies focusing on them. I’d rather watch those movies if they got made. – 7/10
– Babyteeth – This was good and is the type of thing I often like so was hoping to like it more than I did. It’s about a teenage schoolgirl with cancer who falls in love with an early twenty-something drug dealer. All performances in this were good, especially from our two main characters above & the girl’s parents. It’s an odd film. I think I couldn’t really relate to it as everyone’s behavior was so bizarre. Especially the drug dealer (as to be expected, I suppose). But I really didn’t understand his behavior at the end of the movie & why he reacted the way he did (avoiding spoilers, obviously). Well, it’s a decent film with very good performances and a bit of the quirky indie thing I like. I did still appreciate the movie even if I couldn’t relate to the characters. – 7/10
– Santa Claus: The Movie – I still can’t believe there’s an ’80s movie, especially a Christmas one that will have been shown many Decembers of my life, that I never saw. I liked this. Yeah, it’s a bit cheesy & a little dated but I think it still stands up today. I know I’d appreciate it more if I’d actually grown up with it but I’d happily watch it again some other Christmas. Oh, and Burgess Meredith has a small but cool role in this too. Love him. – 7/10
– Hillbilly Elegy – This Ron Howard movie was fine. I’m wondering if these Netflix movies were meant to actually be 2020 cinema releases? Because this is another one that doesn’t feel good enough for cinemas despite its big name stars. It’s a decent enough story with good acting but feels like a TV movie (not that there’s anything wrong with TV movies). It’s just a very straightforward “person makes it despite bad childhood” storyline. I love Amy Adams and she was good as always as the drug addict mother but the performance felt a bit phoned in. Glenn Close was also good as her mother but I thought Haley Bennett especially stood out in her role as daughter of Adams. Gabriel Basso (had to look him up) was also good as the son & main character. Good. Yeah. The movie is just… kind of good. But nothing we haven’t seen before. – 6.5/10
– Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Was disappointed with this but think that was mainly because I didn’t know beforehand that it’s a play & that the movie would very much be like a play & mainly in only one setting as they record an album. The play format occasionally works in movies but is not usually my type of thing. I think it depends on the characters. Unfortunately, I don’t think most of them get as much development as I’d have liked. Besides Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and Levee (lovely Chadwick Boseman – R.I.P.) who get plenty of screen time but I didn’t feel we really even learned enough about Ma Rainey. But both were very good in their roles, especially Boseman. He seemed like a lovely guy & had such a great presence in films – he will be very sadly missed. Was not happy with how his character ended up in this movie, however. Wasn’t expecting that. Why?!?! Again – average movie but good performances. – 6.5/10
– Wild Child – Hey, I gotta watch these teen chick flicks with the kid sometimes. Even as an old lady, I still enjoy teen movies. What can I say? I grew up in the John Hughes era! Not that this is anywhere near as good as a John Hughes movie. It’s silly & predictable in every way but it’s also more fun than I was expecting. There are several different fun characters in the group of girls at the snobby English school the bitchy California rich girl (Emma Roberts) gets shipped off to. Does she learn to not be such a bitch by the end?! Duh! Of COURSE. Who cares? That’s the point of these movies. I want predictable with something like this. Happily ever after & all that shit. There’s even a fun makeover/clothes shopping bit. That was fun. I can be girly sometimes! And I swear I’ve visited wherever they did that clothes shopping – that English street looked very familiar. – 6/10
– The Princess Switch: Switched Again – Ugh. Not good. The first film was fine. Throwaway Hallmark-type of feelgood movie. This one was too silly with a ridiculous “villain” thrown in. I guess it’s worth a watch if you really loved the first movie but lower your expectations for this one. – 5/10
– A Chinese Ghost Story – I can’t fairly review this 1987 Hong Kong film as I ended up not fully paying attention to it. I was bored. Think I saw someone mention it on Twitter & decided to watch it as it sounded fun & had a good IMDb rating. It’s… Strange. I didn’t like it but it’s weird enough that I guess I can see why it would have some fans (think it has a cult following). Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb: “After a string of bad luck, a debt collector has no other choice than to spend the night in a haunted temple, where he encounters a ravishing female ghost and later battles to save her soul from the control of a wicked tree demon.” – 5.5/10
– If Anything Happens I Love You – My god, this was absolutely soul destroying! I hated it, in a way. It’s very good but also way too emotional. It’s a topic I can’t stand the thought of and one very big reason I’m glad to not live in America at the moment. Would like to think someone with the right connections would watch this animated short on Netflix & be moved to make some sort of difference to the laws in America. But let’s be honest – that will never happen. Hard to know what to rate this as it’s good & very moving but I never ever ever want to see it again. Only one small complaint I hate to bring up but the song in it threw me out of it a bit. Bad song. Would’ve been even more emotional if it had just stayed as an instrumental score (although I don’t think I could’ve handled it being even more emotional). – 7/10
– Death To 2020 – This was fine but a little underwhelming. I did get a few giggles out of it but think I’ll have forgotten most of it in a few months. They did seem to tread very lightly (I suppose you have to be super careful to offend no one these days). I was happy to find that they made fun of both sides politically (a bit), as I expected this to be very far left. Meh. It was okay but it took no risks. Come on – we’re all used to South Park now! But I always love Samuel L. Jackson so he was fun & Hugh Grant seems to have become surprisingly funny with this & in The Gentlemen. – 6/10
– Whip It – I adore Drew Barrymore & I love this movie she directed about a bunch of badass roller derby girls. I desperately wanted to be an old badass roller derby girl like Juliette Lewis after watching this movie but I’m too much of a wuss. Anyway, I rewatched this with the kid & she loved it too. This is more my kind of chick flick. I want badass chicks in my chick flicks! Still love this movie. – 8/10
– Scrooged – I ranked this as my number one Christmas movie once (HERE). It maybe still is but I change my mind on my top five a lot. Well, I’ll always love the Christmas Carol story & love that there are so many clever adaptations of it. This one will always be my favorite modern adaptation. – 8/10
– Miracle On 34th Street (1947) – Finally got my kid to watch another Christmas favorite of mine with me this year! I think she enjoyed it. When Santa sings in another language for that girl is one of my absolute favorite Christmas movie moments. Love it. He’s my favorite movie Santa & Natalie Wood is so good as the girl doubting him. Will always be a favorite of mine. – 7.5/10
– Crocodile Dundee – Ha! Introduced the kid to this silly classic ’80s movie too. I’d actually not seen it in years myself so was expecting it to have not aged well. Surprisingly, I think it has aged quite well. Kid liked it more than I expected. For a movie I can’t exactly say is “good“, I think there’s just something really likeable about it. Probably why it has managed to be fairly popular for so many years. – 7/10
– Deadpool – Rewatched this. I’m starting to question my memory as I had this all mixed up in my mind with Deadpool 2. Enjoyed this again but am thinking the sequel really upped the humor? Need to rewatch that one too. Still love the foul-mouthed naughty humor. More fun than most the superhero movies, which were getting a bit boring… – 7/10
– The Holiday – This isn’t a favorite of mine, although a lot of girls seem to love it. It’s not really for me but I do love Jack Black. The movie is fine. Predictable & cheesy but a nice enough rom-com. I personally relate most to Jack Black’s movie score loving character & liked his job as composer (is it weird I often relate to dudes more in movies?!? Lol). Honestly, though – I couldn’t be less like Cameron Diaz’s character. Mainly I was just like “How much f*^king money do these people MAKE?!” when watching this. Their beautiful homes had to cost absolute fortunes. The movie is okay but, my god, I can’t relate to all that privilege. – 6.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds – Watched this musical performance & really liked it. Already knew & liked a couple of the songs. They’re obviously the best songs but I’d happily listen to this full album again. I sooooo miss the ’70s and the big concept albums! Why do we never get cool stuff like that anymore??
– Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – Took a little while to get into this one but then I really liked it. The main character sold it to me. She’s damaged & extremely socially awkward & so likeable in her own strange way by the end. She reminded me a bit of Holly Gibney, a character Stephen King created in Mr. Mercedes and has used in a few books since. I like her in the same way. I think maybe I just relate to socially awkward people. Hooray for the socially awkward! My kind of people. This book is funny at times but also heartbreaking & serious. It’s not a “lightweight” book, which I was thinking it might be. It’s a good book with good characters. I liked it. – 3.5/5
– Looking For Alaska by John Green – This is the third John Green book I’ve read now since The Fault In Our Stars & I have to say this and the other one (Paper Towns) were very disappointing after TFIOS. It’s better than Paper Towns but, like that one, the main male character is in love with a somewhat unlikeable Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The girl in this is luckily not as utterly hateful as the one in Paper Towns and I liked the overall story & other characters okay. But that’s two in a row where Green has written an annoying girl who is the exact definition of Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Please tell me I just got unlucky reading these two in a row? Because I’d read another book of his if more like The Fault In Our Stars. – 3/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Mandalorian – Season 2 – My god. THAT FINAL EPISODE. I loved it so much. Soooo much! That episode made me far happier than any movie has in the past several years. It certainly filled me with more joy than any of the sequel trilogy films. Look how easy it was to please Star Wars fans! How did the sequel trilogy movies get things so wrong?? I have to say I also loved watching the many reaction videos online of people watching that final episode for the first time. So much pure joy (and lots of tears too). Love it. I felt the same way. I won’t “review” The Mandalorian as I don’t really review TV anyway but I think the entire thing has been absolutely brilliant from start to finish. And, like most people, I’m utterly & completely in love with that adorable little green puppet. Greatest character creation in years. Greatest Star Wars character since the original trilogy characters. He’s perfection. And his cuteness will never be topped. Maximum cuteness has now been achieved! Love him. Love this show. Love that some of us had something to help get us through this shitty year. Yes, it’s just a TV show but seeing those reaction videos shows you just how much it helped to lift peoples’ spirits. That’s brilliant filmmaking (TV-making??). I don’t rate TV but, if I did, my overall score would be 9.5/10 for this show so far. It’s THAT good.
– The Crown – Season 2 – Not quite as good as season one but I’m still really enjoying this show despite this not normally being my type of thing. It’s very good. Talked a tiny bit more about it HERE.
God I love that cute little face
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I only plan to post my 2020 Top Ten lists & then take a blog break. But I’ll try todo these monthly roundup posts.
Movies I Want To See:
Am very annoyed to have missed so many 2020 UK releases that I really wanted to see. So none of these will be included in my 2020 Top Ten Lists (if they’d make the ten). But these are the movies I still want to see the most of what I missed:
Possessor (big fan of his dad David Cronenberg)
The Invisible Man
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
Promising Young Woman
Would also watch these if recommended (but could live without the Netflix ones & the thought of sitting through Mank doesn’t thrill me):
Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, Unhinged, Proxima, His House, Mank, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Rebecca, The Old Guard, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, The Call, Queen & Slim, On The Rocks, Happiest Season, Underwater, The Rhythm Section, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Blow The Man Down, King Of Staten Island, Black Bear, Run
Any other movies that I missed? Any recommendations from the above lists?
Am very out of touch with movie releases lately! Also find it very hard to keep track of where each of these can be seen thanks to so many streaming services & the U.K. not having access to many of them. I can’t afford multiple services. Do really hate the way things are going when it comes to accessing movies but I suppose that was going to change with the times eventually anyway. But I’m finding it harder & harder to watch the slightly weird & less mainstream stuff I like. It’s kind of destroying my love of film, making it hard to find the energy to run a blog to discuss nothing but a bunch of very “Meh” straight-to-Netflix movies.
Okay, I’ll quit whining about movies. There are far bigger problems in the world now! I just like having the distraction & it’s always been my main hobby but it’s very hard to enjoy anything at the moment with everything going to shit for everyone (except the rich). I hope everyone is staying safe & well in these crazy times. Here’s to a happier 2021. 🙂
Gotta end with a spoiler-free clip of this little guy. So many favorite moments to choose from! Here’s a favorite bit from Season 2. 🥰
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.
– 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!
Hi All. Here’s another roundup post with everything I watched in May. Looks like it was X-Men Month in our household…
MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY
MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):
– Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – I was surprised when this movie turned up in the IMDb Top 250 (a bit later, after starting my project HERE). So I figured I’d check it out as a part of the project that I’m never ever going to finish. This is a lovely, heartwarming & very understated film. It’s inspired by a great true story about a very loyal dog in 1920’s Japan. I’d love to now see the original Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari from 1987. I unfortunately found out a bit too much about the story beforehand so I won’t spoil it if you don’t know it. I think this is one where you’re better going into it without knowing the story beforehand. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love this film. – 7.5/10
– Fruitvale Station – I watched this at the beginning of May & it of course became even more relevant later on. This is also, unfortunately, a true story. From Wikipedia: “Fruitvale Station is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland.” This was Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut and starred Michael B. Jordan, who of course went on to also be in Coogler’s Black Panther. Jordan was great in this & I always like this sort of approach to telling a story, especially a true one (showing a simple day-in-the-life of the person). The movie follows Grant on his final day, leading up to the fatal shooting. It obviously gets tense as it leads up to what you know is going to happen so it’s of course not an easy watch (which is why I admittedly don’t watch true stories often – I want movies to provide escapism from how shitty the world can be). But it’s a good & important film. – 7.5/10
– The Wraith – I’m always a little shocked when I discover the existence of an ’80s movie that I somehow never saw. This 1986 film showed up on Amazon Prime UK so I had to give it a watch (even though it stars Charlie Sheen. Ew.). But I loved the sound of it from the plot. From Wikipedia: “The Wraith tells the story of an Arizona teen who mysteriously returns from the dead as a supernatural street-racer driving an invulnerable supercar. His intent is to take revenge on the gang who murdered him.” That sounds weird as shit & right up my alley.
The movie is fun & kind of what I expected, although it could’ve been a little cooler. Not sure how, but it obviously didn’t quite make it to cult level status although it had that potential. I think it needed to be a little more bizarre. For a weird plot synopsis, the movie itself wasn’t weird enough. Plus Sheen was a bit dull – maybe this would be a cult film now had it starred someone else? Hell, his brother Emilio would’ve been much better. Which made me think that I really want to watch Repo Man again, as I don’t remember much now but love Harry Dean Stanton.
This is another thing I love about discovering ’80s movies I never saw: I love spotting so many actors I liked, especially if they’re obscure actors I recognise from other ’80s films. Two not-so-obscure ones in The Wraith but it was great seeing Randy Quaid and Clint Howard (this was a big role for him! He’s usually not much more than a cameo). Anyway – it’s a fun movie but it could’ve been better. I want to give it a higher rating than this. I’d probably like it more if it had been one I’d managed to see when I was a teenager. – 6.5/10
– The Wolverine – Wait, was this the bad Wolverine movie or the REALLY bad one?? Oh yeah – the really bad one was Origins. And I’d seen that one before, so it’s in the Rewatched section below. I don’t have the energy to write about the X-Men films, which I watched ALL of (other than Logan & Dark Phoenix) during lockdown. Here’s how I feel about X-Men: I know nothing whatsoever about the comics but absolutely loved the first film when it came out. I was a nerd in my mid-20s & it was the first “superhero” thing I really went for. I just liked the concept & thought the characters were great. I even bought some damn toys (including Professor X, as I already loved Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: TNG). Then the second movie was great. Then…. they all went downhill from there. Damn. But I still really like the whole X-Men thing overall so I’m giving even the worst films no lower than a 6/10. I just wish the movies were better as I still love the story & the characters. Maybe I should look into the comics, huh?
Anyway – the reason for rewatching them all was because my daughter showed an interest in seeing them. She’s very into “girl” superheroes at the moment & spends a lot of time drawing them. Two of her favorites are Kitty Pryde & X-23. The other two are Jessica Jones & Kate Bishop, who I know nothing about, but we managed to find a comic series containing both of them & aimed at pre-teens & she absolutely loves it. And she’s gone for the X-Men movies big time, which is interesting as she didn’t go quite so much for the MCU stuff (as she was too young to grow up with those, I guess, so only saw some of the later films & missed out on watching the characters develop). It’s just interesting as I felt the same way in far preferring X-Men to other superhero stuff at the time. I think it’s great that I was able to pass my nerdy X-Men toys onto my daughter 20 years later. 🙂
Oh yeah – was I meant to be reviewing The Wolverine?! It sucked. I only watched it a few months ago & barely remember it already. Yikes. And I think I fell asleep through part of it. But it sucked a bit less than Origins. How did they make such a mess out of movies about such an awesome character twice?! Luckily Logan turned out good (which is too violent for the kid so she’s not seen that one, FYI). – 6/10
– X-Men: Apocalypse – Ugh. This one was a mess too. It’s such a mess that I’ve ranked it below The Wolverine. However, I’m not sure which one is actually worse. But I just didn’t go for these “First Class” younger X-Men movies as much. Give me old Patrick Stewart instead! But Michael Fassbender is hot, so… I guess there’s that. What even happened in this one again?! Okay – I think I watched too many X-Men movies in one month. Can’t keep them straight! But that’s the problem with superhero movies, which is why this genre is not truly a favorite of mine: They’re all too similar. Same with the MCU films. At least the MCU films did a better job with the origin stories, which I mostly preferred to the Avengers movies as you get much better character development than you do when too many superheroes are all crammed into a movie together. I wish the X-Men movies had managed to do as good of a job following an overall story arc like the MCU movies did. – 6/10
– Dark Places – Oh, look – it’s young Beast from X-Men! Holy shit – I barely remember this movie either. It was only three months ago! My mind has clearly been elsewhere during this pandemic. What’s sad is that I also read this book. From what I remember of the book, this was a faithful adaptation. It just wasn’t my favorite story from Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which was a very enjoyable book (review here). But what I liked even more was her novel Sharp Objects (sort-of review here). That book was fucked up! And the TV adaptation with Amy Adams was decent. Dark Places was okay but meh. The characters are all pretty hateful (but that’s the case with all of Flynn’s books that I’ve read). Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.” – 5.5/10
I discussed how I feel about X-Men above so I’m not going to discuss each film below. The above were first-time-watches for me but I rewatched all of the below movies in May as well.
– X-Men – Yay! – 7.5/10
– X-Men 2 – Yay too! – 7.5/10
– X-Men: First Class – Not bad but prefer the older characters – 7/10
– Mulan – I want to like Mulan more than I do. I like the story & her character but the rest of the characters & the film are a bit weak. My daughter was obsessed with this one in May and watched it over & over. I actually badly want to see the live-action film as it looks so damn good from the trailer. And I’m someone who HATES all these horrible live-action versions Disney have been doing. Beauty And The Beast with annoying Emma Watson? Yuck! – 7/10
– The Fox And The Hound – I’ve always been fond of this one, as well as The Rescuers, as for some reason I remember both very well from a young age. Not sure how I saw them, as renting movies obviously didn’t exist at that point (god I’m old). With The Rescuers, I think it’s partly due to having a book of it as a little kid as well as a View-Master reel or whatever you called it (goddamn – I really AM old). And I assume I saw it in the cinema on some re-release. I’ll have seen The Fox And The Hound on its original release, so I guess I really liked it as I was the right sort of age for it. And I’ve always liked “animal” Disney stories the most. So I rewatched this one with the kid in May (is it obvious that Disney Plus was new to the U.K. at the start of lockdown?! Perfect timing). Anyway, on a rewatch I have to admit that this is certainly one of Disney’s weaker films. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still far better than movies from that horrible mid-90s into early 2000s Disney phase (Sorry, Hercules & Emperor’s New Groove lovers). Tod & Copper are still completely loveable, though. – 7/10
– X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Wow – I was harsh in my original review of this (linked). I liked it more the second time around. It’s far better than Apocalypse! – 7/10
– X-Men: The Last Stand – Hmm – 6.5/10
– SpaceCamp – I remember liking this movie a lot at the time (1986) but hadn’t seen it in years. Must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the rewatch. I want to give it a higher rating but know that would be due to nostalgia. It’s a VERY ’80s film so may seem a bit dated now but, for me, that’s a big part of its charm. However, it’s a very fun story for kids so I think any watching it now would still have a lot of fun with it. What was really interesting was seeing Joaquin Phoenix (then Leaf Phoenix) as a young child star again. I still see him that way even now (I was instead a big fan of brother River thanks to Stand By Me) but I think anyone younger watching SpaceCamp now would find it very weird seeing the Joker as this sweet little kid.
Screw it – I’m giving this a score that’s probably half a point more than it deserves. I just still really like this one. And if you have young kids interested in space travel, I’d still recommend this movie. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “The young attendees of a space camp find themselves in space for real when their shuttle is accidentally launched into orbit.” And I now see why it failed at the box office, as I just read this at Wikipedia: “The film received mixed reviews and is famous for being a “marketing nightmare,” as it was released less than five months after the Challenger accident of January 28, 1986 (although filming was completed before the disaster occurred). The film performed poorly at the box office, grossing less than $10 million in the US. The script was later adapted into a novel, which did include references to the Challenger explosion and some of the kids’ decisions to attend Space Camp in the wake of said tragedy.” FYI: SpaceCamp stars Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston (R.I.P. – still in shock at her recent death), Larry B. Scott, Leaf Phoenix, Tate Donovan & Tom Skerritt – 7/10
– Mannequin – Cheesy as fuck but I’m an ’80s kid so of course I still appreciate this stupid movie. – 6.5/10
– National Treasure – Decided to rewatch this with the kid as remember liking it the first time around. It was still enjoyable but more boring than I’d remembered. Honestly, there’s too much in the way of boring American history in this film. America – Fuck Yeah! I imagine this movie didn’t do as well outside the U.S. Sorry, it probably doesn’t help that History was always one of my least favorite subjects. I prefer sci-fi & the future to humanity’s horrible past. I also thought this movie had more of an Indiana Jones vibe to it but it’s really just Indiana Jones if he wasn’t sexy as hell and if he tried to teach you a little too much about history along the way instead of just melting the baddies’ faces off. – 6.5/10
– You’ve Got Mail – This movie is cute and I still like the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan combo but this is the worst of the films they did together. Tom Hanks’ character is also kind of a dick in this one. Tom Hanks can’t be a dick! No, it just doesn’t work. But this is still worth watching if you like these old rom-coms which rarely get made anymore. Why did that stop?! It’s admittedly not my favorite genre but the movies were enjoyable & inoffensive and had some great stars. Just be sure to watch Sleepless In Seattle first as it’s much better. But their best one by far is the quirky Joe Versus The Volcano (which I realise won’t be everyone’s cup of tea). Apparently they also did a movie called Ithaca together in 2016 but I don’t know a thing about that one (I see it was directed by Ryan, though – I’d like to see that now). – 6.5/10
– X-Men Origins: Wolverine – God this one is bad. It deserves a much lower rating but I just can’t help but still like the whole X-Men thing… – 6/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
MUSIC & BOOKS
Nothing “new” to mention here. I’ve just been listening to my usual Apple playlist A LOT lately (it’s one of the best things about working from home: music all day long). One thing I’ll say is that I’ve really been enjoying all the Jóhann Jóhannsson soundtrack stuff that keeps popping up on my playlist while I’m working (particularly the Mandy score). What a loss to the filmmaking world – he did fantastic scores.
I also continued reading Frank Herbert’s Dune throughout May (finishing in June).
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Golden Girls – As I said in my April roundup post, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this on Channel 5 during my lunch breaks. I’m really missing it! Now I just work through lunch some of the time. Bring The Golden Girls back!!!
– As I also mentioned, the UK finally got Disney Plus (in April?), so a lot of time was spent watching Disney stuff those first few months. I especially enjoyed watching all the Silly Symphonies with my daughter. Man, I spent a small fortune many years ago trying to buy all those up when they were released in fancy metal tins. Love them. I especially liked the one that introduced Donald Duck as a character. We also enjoyed Pixar In Real Life, some of which are fun & some a bit meh. I swear no one in the Brave episode knew who the hell Merida was & people didn’t seem to catch on to the Up stuff either. Wow – I’d instantly recognise all Disney & Pixar references in real life. And all the Disney & Pixar shorts are great. Where The Golden Girls stopped showing during my lunch breaks, I still sometimes stick on a Disney or Pixar short to watch with the kid during lunch now. She also really liked the Forky Asks A Question shorts. I find Forky a bit annoying, though. Can only take him in small doses, so the shorts are just the right length.
– We did enjoy watching the Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff they showed on Friday nights during the start of lockdown. Very cool that they did that. Can’t say I loved all of them, though. I just have no class. My favorite was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but we stopped watching The Phantom of the Opera out of boredom. Sorry. See? No class! Jesus Christ Superstar was also disappointing, as I really like the 1973 film. We’ll watch the film version next Easter instead…
– Finally, I started catching up on the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy in May. God that show annoys me. But I can’t quit watching after so many years! And they had the dumbest “write-off” of a character yet with Alex Karev. WTF was that?! Dumb as hell. That was more stupid than when the guy who played George clearly pissed them off on the show so they had his character get hit by a bus & end up in the hospital completely unrecognisable so that they didn’t even need the actor to film that final episode where they kill him off. Haha. So petty.
BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST
Well, I’ve managed to do my roundup posts up to May now. Didn’t think I’d manage as don’t feel like writing lately. So I guess I’ll try to post June & July as well.
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
Haven’t bothered with this section as not much is really coming out to see. Plus, I won’t be going to a cinema again for a very, very long time. Feel bad about that as, obviously, movies are my main hobby & I was a regular customer before the pandemic. But I don’t have the money now plus I don’t think it’s safe. Luckily no one reads this blog anyway. 🙂 But the only reviews that ever get any hits are the ones for current releases and I won’t be seeing many of those now.
As for films that were meant to come out in 2020, these are the only ones I badly want to see:
– Bill & Ted Face The Music – I NEED to see this. I’m a big Bill & Ted fan (the whole family are big fans) but it was just announced that it will be a cinema-only release in the UK. Extremely unimpressed at that. Why can’t it be video on demand here as well?!?! This has been my most anticipated movie since the second it was announced. Now we have no clue when we’ll be able to safely see it in the UK plus it’s released an entire month after America gets it anyway. So, yay – the whole movie will have been spoiled by then. Just like how The Mandalorian was spoiled for us. Great.
– Mulan – At least it’s looks like the UK might get a chance to see this one? Who knows, though – we still get screwed over on later releases for some of the Disney Plus stuff too.
– Top Gun: Maverick – I admit it – I love Top Gun. I was really looking forward to this.
– Dune – Well, I finally read the book! I mainly want to see this, though, as Denis Villeneuve is my favorite newer filmmaker.
As I mentioned the great Jóhann Jóhannsson above, here’s something of his from the Mandy score:
Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer
Production company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.
Ahh – My beloved Pixar. Pixar is up there with Studio Ghibli & Akira Kurosawa films for me in that they’re responsiblefor making so many movies I love & their very best are cinematic perfection(in my opinion, obviously). Pixar could do no wrong until the Cars movies came along & they’ve unfortunatelyhad a few missteps since then. The Disney “sequelitis” thing has hurt the Pixar brand slightly, although Pixar’s weakest films are still far better than the majority of output from other animation studios. Onward is good but it’s certainly not one of Pixar’s best. However, I appreciate getting an original story instead of yet another sequel (Toy Story 4 was very disappointingafter the third one had such a perfect ending & made for a fantastic trilogy).
Okay – not that anyone cares but you know I love to make lists & rank things. So here’s My Pixar Movie Ranking (Wow – I never watched Cars 3? I’m clearly not into those…). Figured this was worth doing to see where I’d place Onward:
So, Onward is unfortunately one of the weakest “original” stories but still better than all the sequels (other than Toy Story 2 & 3, which are great). To be honest, I enjoyed it a bit more than Coco. Coco is lovely to look at & a better “film” but I liked the Onward main characters & the relationship between the two brothers.
I think maybe the most difficult thing with Onward was trying to NOT keep getting Weekend At Bernie’s vibes from it as they dragged their dad around on their journey. As usual, Pixar know how to pull on those heartstrings & there are some lovely moments in this film that are kind of ruined by that stupid Andrew McCarthy movie popping up in my head. Damn you, Andrew McCarthy! (I’m just extra mad at him as I also re-watched Pretty In Pink over the weekend. I will always be #TeamDuckie!).
I’ll try to keep this short as I’m not really planning on doing many full movie reviews this year but, as it’s Pixar, I had to write a little about it. Having just watched Onward, I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. Maybe it will grow on me as some Pixar movies did after a re-watch but I don’t think that will happen in this case & I can’t see ever loving it as I do those at the top of my Pixar list. The overall story is fine but a little weak, especially when compared to just how brilliantly inventive Pixar ideas often are (I’m still amazed by Monsters, Inc. Genius idea). The minor characters in Onward are also disappointing, which is a shame as Pixar often have such strong characters in even the smallest roles. Look at something like Finding Nemo – I love each & every damn sea creature in that thing! They all have such unique personalities. No one stands out in Onward other than the two brothers.
However, I think Onward handles the topic of losing someone well. It manages to make you care about the brothers & their dad, at least, and to yet again simultaneously warm & break your damn heart at the end in usual Pixar fashion. I won’t give too much away but, ultimately, this story is about the two brothers and they’re what make this movie work. They help make up for there being no memorable other characters (maybe that’s the reason why, so the focus is on the brothers & them wanting to see their dad again). I saw people freaking out on Twitter when someone said Onward is Frozen for boys (with people pointing out that both boys & girls can like both of these movies). Chill out, people. The comparison is accurate in that Frozen is about sisters & Onward is about brothers. They’re both about family & love & loss. They’re good films that everyone should be able to relate to in some way. I do wish Onward was a better film overall as its heart is in the right place. Well, you never know – maybe it will grow on me a bit.
Starring: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams
Music by John Williams
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.
I’ve been putting off reviewing this as I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. I did see it at midnight last Wednesday night as we’re a family of Star Wars fans. I think all the negativity online since The Last Jedi ruined my enjoyment a bit plus this is the first time I decided to read all the spoilers beforehand, which is something I always try desperately to avoid. So that’s my own damn fault but, seriously, I hate people who spoil movies online on purpose. I know spoilers don’t bother everyone but it does ruin movies for me. I like to be surprised. My lack of excitement during this one won’t have been helped by the fact that I was watching the story unfold exactly as I’d heard it would. Thanks a lot, Burger King! Shame on me, though. I’ll avoid spoilers again from now on.
I liked The Rise Of Skywalker but am not satisfied with the trilogy as a whole. I’m at the point now where I kind of don’t care about this trilogy existing (and wonder if I’d be happier if it didn’t). For me, it will only ever be the original trilogy that I love. The rest of the movies will never be special to me in the same sort of way, although I did get plenty of enjoyment out of moments in each of them. And Solo deserves more credit than it gets, FYI – that was a fun film.
When The Force Awakenscame out, however, I admit that I did absolutely love it at the time. I thought the new characters were great and I adored seeing my old favorites again. I was high on the fact that Star Wars was back. I hate that the followingtwo movies didn’t live up to the first one and, more than anything, I hate how this trilogy now feels like it was created just to replace beloved old characters with new ones for a new generation. Can a new generation not appreciate the original characters too? As much as I wasn’t really a fan of the prequels, they’ve now actually gone up in my estimation after the sequel trilogy. I never expected that as I far prefer The Force Awakens to any of the prequels. But now that this trilogy has ended, I feel like it has damaged characters that I grew up with & love whereas the prequels didn’tdo them any harm(to the “good guys” that I adore, anyway – I’ve never been a fan of the “baddies”. Screw you, Vader!).
Well, I could talk about my feelings & disappointment forever so I’ll try to focus on this movie specifically now. I do think I need to see it a second time to see if I feel any differently but I’m heartbroken to not feel anywhere near the same level of enjoyment and hope that I felt after a very promising start with The Force Awakens. Hell – I even re-read my The Last Jedi review and my immediate reaction was quite positive. I don’t hate that one the way so many others do. Although The Last Jedi may be my least favorite of the three, it’s almost equal to The Rise Of Skywalker for me as there are certain moments in it that I did really like. So! Here’s what I liked about The Rise Of Skywalker:
– The Droids. The sequels may have somewhat ruined the legacy of my human favorites but at least they didn’t hurt my beloved droids. When people ask who my favorite Star Wars character is, my answer is R2-D2 (followed very closely by Yoda, although I have a feeling that a certain Mandalorian character may end up a contender for my new favorite – but that’s going way off topic). Of course I love Luke, Leia, Han, etc, but nothing beats a cool sci-fi droid for me. We don’t get nearly as much R2-D2 as I’d have liked in this trilogy but I thoroughly enjoyed getting a very funny C-3PO. Loved him in this! I thought they did a very good job playing up to his annoying quirks and making him funny as hell (without him realizing he was being funny as hell). Actually, of all the original characters, I think C-3PO was the only one they managed to improve on instead of lessen or harm or have no effect on (as with R2-D2, who is still the exact same lovable droid and thankfully not harmed by this trilogy). So thank you for not messing with my Droids, J. J. Abrams! Oh, BB-8 is still awesome too and I liked the new addition of D-O. He’s not as cool as BB-8 and the rest but I still really liked him. What can I say? I love a cute droid. D-O reminded me of M-O from WALL-E. (Not surprisingly, WALL-E is an all-time favorite film of mine as well. Robots rule!).
– Lando & Chewbacca. Yeah, I love the original trilogy characters. So sue me. It was great finally seeing Lando, who is still cool as shit, and seeing Chewbacca yet again. I of course wanted to see more of them than we got but, hey, at least we got a decent amount of time with them compared to some of the other original characters. I also don’t feel these two were really harmed by this trilogy, but I do worry about Chewie. Can I be his friend?! I want to make sure he’s surrounded by really good friends forever & ever.
– Babu Frik. This is a new small character and you’ll either love him or hate him. Being a huge fan of Henson Muppets and Yoda and the genius of characters such as Salacious B. Crumb, I of course was a fan of this goofy new addition. If you like Salacious B. Crumb as much as I do, you’re gonna like Babu Frik. If not, too bad! I don’t care. He’s great and feels like he could easily have fit right in with the original trilogy creatures.
– The camaraderie. We see a lot of Rey, Finn & Poe working together in this and I really enjoyed their friendship and lighthearted bickering (we get some fun rapport between Rey & Poe regarding taking care of the Millennium Falcon & BB-8). Speaking of BB-8, Poe’s love for him is adorable. The funny C-3PO moments also come from being a part of this group and I really enjoyed the moments when these characters were together.
I want to focus on the positives about this movie as there’s so much negativity online so I’ll only mention a few things I don’t like, as I already made my feelings clear at the start that I’m disappointed in this trilogy overall. One thing I really don’t like is Kylo Ren as a character and I very much don’t understand the whole Adam Driver obsession so, as he’s a fan favorite, not liking him probably really doesn’t help my enjoyment of these films. I’m also kind of starting to feel the same as others do in finding Rey’s abilities a bit “too much”. She’s too powerful. Too perfect. I still really like her as a character but it’s all way too easy for her. I also didn’t like the story in this one – it felt like a video game story. The main problem, however, is how I feel this sequel trilogy is simply casting our original trilogy favorites aside. This became very clear in The Last Jedi but I don’t think Abrams tried very hard to undo that in this one. It feels a little disrespectful. It doesn’t feel, to me, like these movies were made by true fans of the original trilogy. I didn’t feel that way after The Force Awakens and am upset that it feels that way now that the trilogy is complete. I don’t want any more movies involving these new characters now, even though I do really like Rey, Finn, Poe & BB-8. Based on how this trilogy turned out, I’d now rather have stand alones like Solo and Rogue One. I wasn’t feeling Rogue One at the time but it’s now gone up in my estimation as well as the prequels.
Oh well. I made my feelings clear at the beginning of this review so I obviously have a lot of issues with this trilogy but I don’t want to go into them in much detail as I’m hating all the negativity online. None of these movies are as bad as some people are saying. There’s still lots of great Star Wars moments in each of them. I just really wanted to love this sequel trilogy but, at the moment, I can’t say that I do. However, I’ll try to keep an open mind and maybe watch The Rise Of Skywalker again to see if I feel any differently. I hope so. But I’ll always see it as a separate thing from the original trilogy. Maybe this is just one alternate reality for our original trilogy characters…
Starring: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad
Music by: Songs – Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Score – Christophe Beck
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.
Frozen 2 is fine. Did we really need a sequel? No. Has it really added anything of value to the “Frozen universe”? No. Are the songs good? No. Is the story good? It’s not horrible but it’s not great. It’s just a bit too complicated and messy for what’s meant to be a kids’ film. The story should be kept more straightforward & fairly simple for a Disney movie to become a timeless classic.
The first Frozen got all the elements right to make it a film that will be seen as one of Disney’s classics years from now despite there seeming to be a slight backlash against it currently. I want Disney movies to have that timeless feel and the first Frozen had that magic. Frozen 2 doesn’t, but that can be said of most Disney sequels anyway. As far as Disney sequels go, it’s still better than plenty of them. So, yes, I still enjoyed this sequel as I’m a fan of these characters but the movie is unfortunately very average and a tad boring.
So, I already mentioned the story as the first negative. It’s not a bad story but it’s just… Meh. I didn’t care about the outcome as it was clearly unimportant – they just needed an excuse to make a profitable sequel. The bigger disappointment was the songs. I have to admit that I can’t now remember how even one song goes, unlike when leaving the cinema after the original film. At least two or three of the songs were instantly memorable in the first Frozen. Sorry, but Disney movies should really have at least one memorable song. The songs are a huge selling point for these films.
But I don’t want to sound entirely negative so I’ll end this very short review with some good things. These characters are still great. I’ll always like Anna & Elsa and it was nice to see them much closer in this one and being a family doing normal things like playing games together. The sequel still very much focuses on the sisterly love thing, which was what helped make the first one so special. And the outfits are once again my absolute Disney Princess movie favorites. I love that they both have their own unique style but especially love Anna’s outfits each time (I’m a huge fan of green and anything even slightly Scandinavian). So good job on that, Disney – these two have style.
This movie is also pretty damn beautiful. I still prefer the imagery & feel of the first film with its icy look and shades of blue & white but there was some gorgeous animation in this one too. And Olaf, although always borderline annoying, did make me smile a couple of times and he has a very funny bit that I won’t spoil. I’d say that only Kristoff & Sven felt a little wasted in this one but, to be fair, these movies are about Anna & Elsa so “the guys” are in it as much as they need to be. And, yes, there IS a scene after the credits that I’d say is worth staying for.
Frozen 2 was fine. It wasn’t needed but I liked seeing these characters again and I don’t think it damaged the Frozen legacy in any way, even if it didn’t exactly add anything special or new to it either.
Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! I realized I’ve reviewed no “scary” kids’ movies this October. Well, The Addams Family fits in with Halloween. I suppose I’ll squeeze in my review of Maleficent as well since she IS Disney’s best villain. She’d also make for a kickass Halloween costume…
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (2019)
Directed by Joachim Rønning
Based on Characters from: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty & La Belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Michelle Pfeiffer, Warwick Davis
Production company: Walt Disney Pictures & Roth Films
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.
I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting. I did actually quite like the first Maleficent (review HERE). However, I’m becoming more and more annoyed at all the pointless live action Disney films being made. It’s come to the point this year where I’ve decided to stop going to see the remakes as I don’t want to support them. I didn’t watch Aladdin or The Lion King. After Beauty And The Beast, I’d had enough. Leave the classics alone! But I don’t really mind when they do things like Maleficent. Is it yet another Disney cashgrab? Of course it is. But at least it’s a new story. It’s not taking an existing beloved Disney classic and making the EXACT same movie again but with real-life annoying actors like Emma Watson and none of the beauty or magic of the animated films.
Having said that, I have to admit that (along with Beauty And The Beast) Sleeping Beauty is probably my favorite Disney movie. I think it’s sadly extremely underrated due to Aurora herself being a dreadful bore. But its visuals are absolutely gorgeous, the music is fantastic, Maleficent is the coolest villain, and I adore those fairies. So you’d think that I’d not want it touched but, as the Maleficent movies have such a vastly different take on the story, I don’t see them as part of the same universe. Whereas I may not be able to watch the animated Beauty And The Beast again without picturing Emma Watson.
I think Angelina Jolie is great as Maleficent and her look is amazing. She’s probably a little too sexy in this, though. It’s a kids’ film! I think bored dads won’t complain when she’s suddenly wearing far less clothing than usual at one point (lots of leg on display). Damn. I wish I looked like that. I’d even take the wings & horns if I could look that sexy. I’m suddenly wondering if there’s creepy Fifty Shades-style Maleficent fan fiction out there (probably).
Plus we also get the gorgeous Michelle Pfeiffer in this one, which I loved as I’m a fan. I’m now thinking I can finally talk my daughter into watching Ladyhawke with me as she’s seen Pfeiffer in a few other things recently (love that movie!). Anyway, Jolie & Pfeiffer are a lot of fun to watch together in this and both have that true “Hollywood star” screen presence. They make this movie better than it otherwise might have been with different actresses.
The story itself is fine. Is it predictable? Yes, but no more so than any Disney movie. That’s what you expect from a family Disney movie so there’s nothing wrong with that. Elle Fanning is good as Aurora and the relationship her character has with Maleficent continues to work surprisingly well. The three fairies continue to be annoying as hell but at least I was prepared to hate them this time around. As I love the animated fairies so much, I absolutely hated what they’d done with them in the first film. They’re obnoxious. That’s my only big complaint, though. And, again, it doesn’t ruin the animated film for me as I don’t see them as the same characters as they’re so different.
I also liked the addition of some very cutesy creatures but know that not everyone will go for weird, cutesy CGI creatures. Hey, it’s Disney – I’m fine with some cutesy stuff to balance out the stirrings of S&M Maleficent fantasies Jolie and her sexy new dark fairies have probably awakened in some viewers. Some viewers. Definitely not me. Nope. (Maybe). We also got Warwick Davis in this with a fairly decent amount of screen time compared to other roles of his. Yay! Love him. Prince Philip is a bit bland but, who cares? These movies focus more on the strong female characters plus it makes up for Aurora being the bland one in the animated film. The three female leads are truly what make this film, though. It’s otherwise just your usual Disney movie but the three main characters, especially Maleficent, are better than what we’ve had in any of the straightforward live-action copies.
My Rating: 7/10
The Addams Family (2019)
Directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan
Based on Characters by Charles Addams
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) An animated version of Charles Addams’ series of cartoons about a peculiar, ghoulish family.
I went on about Maleficent for ages so I’ll keep this shorter as I don’t have a lot to say about this one anyway. This movie was fine. It was a very “cutesy” version of The Addams Family, which felt a bit odd as it still had the dark humor. I can’t quite figure out what ages they were targeting here. I think they made it too young this time around. The dark humor won’t work on the really young kids and the younger animated style won’t work on the slightly older kids, especially if they’re fans of the early 90’s films. And it especially won’t work for teenagers, unlike the 90’s movies which I believe had (and still has) teenage fans.
I was too young for the 60’s TV show (despite watching reruns of many old shows as a kid – I just never watched The Addams Family). Then I was slightly too old for the movies (late teens). So I missed out on the hype but I know that kids (now adults) of the right sort of ages in the early Nineties still adore those movies. I’ve watched them again recently with my daughter and she likes them a lot. I think they’ve aged really well and would easily gain a new generation of fans if they see them. I have a new appreciation for them as I can see the appeal for quite a wide range of ages, from probably age 8 or so up to adults. They were proper “family” movies. Morticia and Gomez are great adult characters (Anjelica Huston was perfection) and what teenager, Goth or not, doesn’t love Wednesday Addams? She’s loads of evil fun. She’s certainly my daughter’s favorite.
Luckily, this animated version does an okay job with Morticia and Wednesday. They’re still the best characters and I liked the teenage rebellion going on (loved the pink unicorn hairclip). Uncle Fester was fun and Cousin It was adorable (but making him a “Pimp Daddy”, although briefly kind of funny, will date the film). I just… I… I don’t know. I got some giggles out of this one. I love dark humor and like Wednesday always trying to kill her brother and thought her “noose hair” was cool. But does noose hair work in a very kiddie version of The Addams Family??
I just found the tone of this so confusing that it was difficult to fully enjoy it. There were very young kids at this one and the movie didn’t hold their attention at all, probably because they won’t have understood the humor. My daughter did like it but I think it’ll help that she’s in the very small age range who might like this one (I’d say between 8 & 11). It’s just a shame as The Addams Family is such a great creation and I don’t think this movie has done these kooky characters justice. I don’t think it has harmed the franchise, however. I just think they should’ve focused on making this version more enjoyable for all ages as there are now fans who are my daughter’s age, who are my age (almost) from the 1990s, as well as people who will have been fans since seeing the TV show when they were kids in the 1960s. I think they’ve really missed a trick this time as this version won’t attract a new generation of fans in the way the 90’s films managed to do so successfully.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack
Music by Randy Newman
Production Company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.
I adore Pixar. I think they make all-time classic family films that are far better than the majority of live-action films these days. When they became a part of Disney, I knew we might get the problem of “too many sequels” since Disney love to squeeze out these easy money-makers. I know we all love these characters but did we really need yet another Toy Story film after such a perfect trilogy? No, we didn’t. Is it bad? Of course not. Other than the Cars films, Pixar don’t tend to make bad movies. Even their “not as good” films are way better than animated films from other studios. Toy Story 4 really did feel a bit pointless to me, though. While I enjoyed it and liked seeing Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang again, I felt very underwhelmed after thinking about it for a while. I also saw it a second time as extended family wanted to go to it so it was interesting to find that I actually liked it a little less the second time. I didn’t expect that.
I’ll start with the good: Forky is a great new character. I loved his whole existential crisis and wish they had actually explored that much more than they did. We also get a lot of Woody for people who are Woody fans. Wow – these names sound a bit dirty… Who wants a good Woody Forky!?! (I do). I also loved the creepy ass dummies because creepy ass dummies are awesome (I highly recommend the movies Magic and Dead Of Night if you like creepy ass dummies). I loved getting to find out what happened to Bo Peep since they just dropped her ass from these films and it’s great that she turned out to be pretty damn cool. And the animation is AMAZING. Remember when the first Toy Story came out and we were shocked at how brilliant it looked? It looks so primitive now compared to Toy Story 4. OH! I almost forgot to mention Keanu! Keanu Reeves is in this so, of course, his mere presence makes every movie better (in my opinion, at least).
Now for some of the “not so good” things: Buzz Lightyear had nothing to do in this. Neither did Jessie. Both were really wasted in this film (as were all our most beloved original characters other than Woody & Bo Peep, obviously). I know Woody was the focus of this one but that’s always been the case yet other main characters still got some decent screen time in the other movies. I wasn’t all that into the whole Gabby Gabby story, either, as its outcome was so extremely predictable. I also think they haven’t managed to get us to like Bonnie & her family all that much compared to how we feel about Andy & his mother. It just seems like we know Andy far better than we do Bonnie. Oh, and Ducky & Bunny were annoying more often than funny. The only good new addition to this one was Forky. Oh, and Duke Caboom! But that’ll be because I adore Keanu. I’d just rather have spent more time with our favorite characters than with a bunch of new ones. To be fair, a lot of new characters were added to Toy Story 3 as well but they were far stronger than the new additions to this one. I also found that the jokes in this one, for whatever reason, didn’t make me laugh the second time around whereas I still love every funny bit from the other three films. (Well, except for the high-five Combat Carl bit, which cracked me the hell up both times)
Toy Story 4 was okay. At least it’s much better than Monsters University and Finding Dory as far as Pixar sequels go. It just doesn’t have the heart of the first or the third Toy Story or the humor of the second one. People are saying they got emotional all over again with Toy Story 4 but I didn’t feel that way in the slightest. I just about burst into tears at the end of Toy Story 3. Maybe I’m just heartless now? But Inside Out still gets me feeling all emotional every damn time (and I’ve seen that one a lot now), so I think I just have sequel burnout. Enough with the sequels, please! I still love these characters and, yes, I always enjoy seeing them. But I can’t pretend that I didn’t find Toy Story 4 unnecessary.
Based on Disney’s Dumbo by Otto Englander, Joe Grant & Dick Huemer and on Dumbo by Helen Aberson & Harold Pearl
Starring: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins
Music by Danny Elfman
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.
First of all, I’m really sick of these Disney live-action remakes of animated classics. I don’t see the point. From recent trailers, The Lion King looks like a soulless copy and Aladdin looks absolutely dreadful. Beauty And The Beast pretty much sucked (but I can’t stand Emma Watson so that didn’t help). I didn’t mind Cinderella but I wonder if it would just annoy me if I watched it again now that I’m sick of all these live-action remakes. I’ve kind of vowed to no longer waste my money going to see this shit.
But I knew I’d go to Dumbo because it’s Tim Burton. I’m a hypocrite. I know his best films are far in the past but I still haven’t given up on him and I wanted to see what he’d do with this film. Plus Dumbo himself was so adorable in the trailers. I’ve always loved that baby elephant! Well, I enjoyed this film. It’s a good one to end on. I’ll happily watch no more live-action remakes after this one.
I feel like I have to justify liking a live-action remake. What can I say? I still love that baby elephant. Of course this comes nowhere near the original film and it breaks my heart that some kids may be watching these remakes before the animated films. Or not watching the animated films at all. For some reason, I prefer when these remakes aren’t an exact copy (which The Lion King looks like). I don’t mind having extra bits of story added on, making it feel like an entirely separate film and therefore not messing with the original film’s legacy in my mind. This movie isn’t Dumbo to me. It never will be. But I think they did well with the character of Dumbo himself and he was by far the best thing about this film (as he should be). Dumbo is the true star of this movie.
The reviews I’ve read have all said that it’s the human characters that let this film down. This is true, although they aren’t terrible. They’re bland but not hateful. The only truly weak one is Michael Keaton’s completely generic baddie but the rest are good enough to support the overall story about a flying elephant. Colin Farrell and his two children (Nico Parker & Finley Hobbins), who are the main human characters, are fine but these roles could’ve been played by anyone. However, Danny DeVito & Eva Green are fun to watch and perfect for Tim Burton’s films – you can understand why he sticks with his favorite actors in so many of his films. The human stories were good enough to keep the film interesting while not overlooking the fact that the one story that really matters is Dumbo’s. And I liked the ending. I’m fine with all the changes in the second half as it’s so different from the original that it hasn’t destroyed my love for the animated film. I also liked how they incorporated the Pink Elephants On Parade bit into this film.
Is it weird that I feel bad for liking the new Dumbo?? I do seriously wish they’d stop with these live-action remakes but, in this case, I was happy seeing this character in a new way. He’s always been a favorite Disney character of mine and I think they did a good job with the look him. They got a good balance between making him look like a real elephant but also sort of “cartoony”, and his adorable blue eyes are very expressive. They did a better job with him than with the other CGI animals in these Disney remakes. I also enjoyed the overall production design of this film, but that’s usually the case with Burton’s movies. None of these Disney remakes will ever top the animated classics but at least the 2019 Dumbo hasn’t destroyed the original film’s legacy for me.
My Rating: 7/10
I’ve added Dumbo to my full ranked list of all the Tim Burton movies I’ve seen HERE. I guess I better finally watch Dark Shadows as it’s the only full-length film he’s directed that I’ve not seen.
Happy New Year, everyone! I have a couple of leftover movies that I saw in the cinema in December but didn’t review: Mary Poppins Returns & Aquaman. I’ll try to review Aquaman tomorrow (enjoyed that way more than I was expecting!). Then I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by my 2018 Year-End Top Ten Lists. Woohoo! I love lists! 🙂
Here’s my review of Mary Poppins Returns…
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Directed by Rob Marshall
Based on Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Set in 1930s London, twenty-five years after the events of the original film, it sees Mary Poppins, the former nanny of Jane and Michael Banks, returning after a family tragedy.
This was fine. Somewhat enjoyable. A bit “So what?”. Completely pointless. I’ve been getting very bored with sequels, prequels, reboots, etc etc etc. I want to see something new. We have a fantastic Mary Poppins film already with a practically perfect Julie Andrews (she’s actually perfect – Andrews IS Mary Poppins). I know reboots, etc, work occasionally and I admit that it can be fun to once again see beloved characters. I think I come across as grumpy too often on this blog! I like the continuation of stories with characters that I like sometimes. But I don’t like when they feel like cash-grabs and/or they feel pointless or just don’t work and feel like inferior copies. Mary Poppins Returns felt like an inferior copy to me.
The thing I disliked the most about this movie is what I thought I would most enjoy: I really didn’t like Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. I normally love Blunt and thought she was the perfect choice when cast. The way she speaks in this got on my nerves (too posh – it sounded phoney) and this film actually made the character somewhat unlikeable. She seemed too stern whereas Andrews was also stern but there was a kindness and playfulness that Blunt didn’t manage to convey. To be fair, I’ve not read the books and Blunt’s version may be more faithful. But a lot of us grew up watching Andrews so I can’t help but compare Blunt to Mary Poppins in the original film. Andrews will always be the only Mary Poppins to me.
The other thing they were never going to live up to in this was the songs in the original film, which are some of the catchiest Disney songs ever. I saw this about a week ago and I can’t say I can immediately remember how any of the songs went. There were a couple that were okay but nothing very memorable, unlike things like A Spoonful Of Sugar or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Okay – one final thing & then I’ll try to say something nice: The story in this was pretty dull as well. Not that anyone is watching this for some complex plot so this isn’t a huge complaint for me. It was just such a predictable & uninteresting story.
Now onto the good things about this movie! I thought some of the sets looked pretty great (I enjoyed the dance number with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the lamplighters as well as the lovely balloon bit at the end). The film was colorful and I loved the costumes, especially what Mary Poppins wore (I like her funky shoes). Speaking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I liked his character. He was probably my favorite of the new main characters (I found most the others a bit dull, though, and Meryl Streep’s bit was a bit stupid and felt thrown in there just to add Meryl Streep to yet another movie). Oh, and my favorite bits of all: Dick Van Dyke and especially Angela F*^king Lansbury!
Lansbury rules! Love her so much. Have loved her since Murder, She Wrote, which is a totally awesome show (don’t you dare tell me otherwise). And she’s Mrs. Potts, people! And she sounds exactly the same now at 93 as she did in Beauty And The Beast! Lansbury is a national treasure, just like Julie Andrews. By the way – why didn’t Andrews have a cameo?? Perhaps it’s better she’s not associated with this version but giving Lansbury & Van Dyke cameos was the best thing this movie did and really added to my enjoyment. I briefly felt like a kid again thanks to them. I’ll give this movie half a point more just for the addition of Lansbury & Van Dyke…
Based on Characters from: Disney’s Winnie the Pooh & Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne & E. H. Shepard
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot follows Christopher Robin as he has grown up and lost his sense of imagination, only to be reunited with his old stuffed bear friend, Winnie-the-Pooh.
This was pretty adorable. I’ve always liked the Winnie The Pooh characters and I would think most fans would be happy with this film. I kind of want a stuffed Winnie The Pooh that looks exactly like the one in this movie. He looks so cuddly! I want snuggles.
I have to say, however, that this film is veeeery slow. I don’t have a problem with that but I don’t think very young kids will totally go for its pacing. The story itself is more grown-up than I was expecting. It’s a lovely film but bear (haha – BEAR!) in mind that it’s aimed at all age ranges and truly a “whole family” film. Grandparents will appreciate the story and its lesson of making time for your family & staying young at heart while young kids will like the cuddly Pooh & friends. Slightly older kids & teens are probably the group who will go for this movie the least. It’s SO wholesome. Obviously – it’s Disney so it’s wholesome but it’s even more so than usual. It certainly wasn’t written by James Gunn! (A James Gunn Winnie The Pooh would be interesting…).
Well. That was another mega short “review” from me. I’m very busy lately so it’ll have to be short or nothing at the moment! Christopher Robin: it’s sweet, adorable and wholesome as fuck. But also a tad on the boring side. Someone buy me a stuffed Pooh like the one in this movie!
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film tells the story of a teenage girl and her little sister who become encompassed in a supernatural mystery regarding a missing girl in the woods surrounding their new home in the English countryside.
This is a Disney horror movie! Yep, you read that right! I can’t believe I didn’t know of this film’s existence. Well, I had heard of it and liked the sound of it so recorded it when it popped up on TV several months ago but I don’t think I ever realized it was a Disney film. Okay, it’s not like it’s a Saw film or something. This is “horror-light”. Think: R.L. Stine Goosebumps-level horror. It’s a fun film and I think, being a lover of things like the original The Twilight Zone from a very young age, I’d have loved this movie if I’d seen it as a kid.
This movie is from 1980 and I’m not gonna lie – it’s very 1980 so it’s unlikely that a younger generation would necessarily be able to tolerate its look & pace. Being a child of the 80s, I obviously have no issue with something that hasn’t aged that well. I’ve only JUST noticed when looking this movie up at IMDb for this review that a new version starring Anjelica Huston has been made! It has a US release date of tomorrow (21st of October 2017) & looks like it’s a TV movie. How can I see this in the UK?! I wanna watch it with my kid. But she doesn’t like scary stuff AT ALL. She doesn’t take after her mommy!
I enjoyed the supernatural story in this, even though it was a little cheesy at the end. But, hey – it’s for kids! Well, maybe more for teenagers at the time but nowadays it would be fine for pre-teens. As I said, I’d have loved this as a kid so I can’t really criticize it as I think it’s perfectly fine for its target audience at the time it was made. Bette Davis, as the lonely & mysterious lady who owns the English countryside house that an American family moves into, is the one big name in this and helps to give the film some credibility. There’s a mystery surrounding her daughter, who disappeared 30 years earlier. The two girls who’ve just moved into the house, a teenager & her young sister, try to solve the mystery.
For those of you who didn’t grow up on 70s & 80s movies, you may not be a used to the, um, acting style of kids & teenagers back then. They weren’t like Jacob Tremblay in Room (I love that movie). The acting from the two daughters in this, especially the teenager, is dodgy as hell. I’m not saying that’s their fault, though, as this was common in a lot of movies at the time. I think writers & directors just seriously didn’t know how to make young characters feel genuine back then. Come to think of it, Steven Spielberg probably deserves some credit for paving the way for believable kids in movies thanks to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The teenager in this, Lynn-Holly Johnson, was in a figure skating romance movie called Ice Castles (1978) with Robby Benson. Oh, I wanna see that! Looks like my type of thing. And the younger sister, Kyle Richards, was in Halloween but I mostly remember her as Alicia on Little House On The Prairie (that show rules and is another love of mine that I’ve been unable to get my kid to show any interest in). 😉
If you watch this movie bearing in mind the time it was made, you might get some enjoyment out of the story. I did, but I love a fun supernatural mystery. There’s also some good imagery that I’m sure stuck with kids who saw this at the time. This will be one of those movies that people my age would say “that movie scared the crap out of me as a kid!” and then, if they rewatched it now, they’d realize how tame it is. I liked it. I think Disney should’ve made more movies in this genre! But, having a horror movie with the “Disney” name attached to it, I can also see why that didn’t end up working.
My Rating: 6.5/10
**Oh! I found the trailer for the 2017 movie! It’s a Lifetime movie. Bwahaha! I remember those from the days I lived in America! Not gonna lie – I loved some Lifetime movies. 😉 And it’s been directed by Melissa Joan Hart?! Whaaat? Clarissa? Sabrina? She’s a director? When did that happen? I’m so old. I seriously want to see this (it looks scarier than the 1980 film):
Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson
Music by Alan Menken
Plot Synopsis: The same as the 1991 animated Disney film. Just watch the animated version instead if you haven’t already.
Mehhhh…. I can’t be bothered to write much of a review for this movie. It’s a cash grab – we all know that. I can’t really trash Disney, though. I grew up on Disney films & I’ll always love Disney, even when they sell out. It doesn’t matter – the majority of film studios, actors & actresses, directors, etc etc, all sell out at some point. As long as Disney keep making some original & quality films alongside these pointless remakes & sequels, I can forgive some selling-out. But I’m sorry to say that this remake of Beauty And The Beast is indeed completely pointless.
I actually didn’t mind the live-action Cinderella (which I reviewed HERE). The kid watched that again recently & I still don’t mind it. At least it’s not a straight copy. I also enjoyed Maleficent quite a bit more than this as it felt somewhat original. With Beauty And The Beast copying everything, right down to giving us inferior versions of the fantastic songs from the original, I just don’t see the point. Okay – there were a few extra things added in storywise (and, I can’t remember now – one or maybe two new boring songs) that didn’t really enhance what was already a good & simple fairy tale.
Emma Watson: Wrong for the part. I’ve thought that since it was first announced that she would be Belle. She doesn’t do a horrible job but Hermoine as Belle was always going to be very distracting. Dan Stevens: Nope! Didn’t work. Plus he’s not hot enough (cartoon beast-turned-human was a babe). Kevin Kline: He was okay. Luke Evans: Actually, I guess he was pretty perfect as Gaston. Josh Gad: Not too bad – he was kind of fun but all I can hear is Olaf. Ewan McGregor: He did okay copying the original version of the character but the French accent was just confusing. Well, all the accents in this were confusing (but I suppose the same can be said of the original). Emma Thompson: Perfect casting but YOU CAN NEVER TOP ANGELA LANSBURY, dammit!!!! Chip was still cute, though. Just not as cute as animated Chip. But nothing in this topped the original in any way, so….
Whatever. It’s not a horrible movie. The CGI is decent. No, wait – I suppose the CGI actually quite good but we’re all spoiled these days & expect perfection. If you love the animated film, odds are that you’ll want to watch this at some point but I wouldn’t say you have to rush out to see it. If you haven’t seen the animated film for some reason, please just watch that first. Or instead. I’ll give this an extra half point since my kid seemed to enjoy it. I guess that’s all the really counts, right? 😉
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.
Yes! Moana is a really good film that I (and my daughter) thoroughly enjoyed. I have to say that the trailers really hadn’t blown me away so I was kind of worried this could end up being one of Disney’s rare duds. It’s not quite up there with some of Disney’s oldest classics & I think Frozen is better & more timeless but I’m happy to say that Moana is fully worthy of the Disney name. It’s certainly 1,000% better than some of the its late-90’s/early 2000’s stinkers! It’s great that Disney is making timeless classics once again. And I can add toddler Moana to my list of “animated kids I want to adopt” along with Boo from Monsters, Inc & Agnes from Despicable Me. What a cutie patootie!
So adorable that I had to include two pictures…
Speaking of Moana herself, she’s also a worthy addition to the Disney name. She’s strong-willed & has no interest in that whole “finding a prince” thing that annoys so many modern women about the older Disney films. However, she also doesn’t go over-the-top in the other direction, which annoys me in some of the more current animated films. Let’s face it – Brave’s Merida is a bit of a stroppy bitch! There’s nothing wrong with being strong-willed AND likable as well… Moana gets the right balance as a female lead character and I’d be happy to have my daughter look up to her.
Animated kids’ movies don’t solely rely on one good main character, though, and Moana is filled with the usual funny & lovable sidekicks we’ve all come to expect from Disney. I may be an adult but I loved that stupid chicken! Her pet pig was super cute, the “coconut” bad guys were adorably evil, her family (especially her kooky grandmother) were sweet, and the main “lava baddie” was actually quite frightening for a Disney villain (so this one isn’t really toddler-suitable, unlike a lot of other Disney movies. Just FYI – it’s nothing too scary, though). Yeah, sorry – I’m too lazy to look up all the proper names of these characters but I can guarantee you that I’ll know them once this is on DVD. 😉 I can tell my daughter will watch Moana multiple times (and I won’t even complain about that).
There are two other characters that need mentioning: the main one is sidekick Maui, the demigod voiced by Dwayne Johnson, and the other is the shiny crab villain dude voiced by Flight Of The Conchords/What We Do In The Shadows Jemaine Clement. I think most everyone will like Maui just fine – he’s charmingly cocky and makes a great duo with Moana. Plus, his “living tattoos” were quite amusing. I didn’t really expect to like his character as much as I did. Very predictable character arc, though!
However, the villain crab (Tamatoa – I looked that one up!) will be far more divisive. At first I kind of hated that character. Then I kind of loved that character. I think… I don’t know. I haven’t fully made my mind up on him yet. Guess I’ll know how I feel after 25 times of seeing Moana at home. Anyway, David Bowie is the clear inspiration for Tamatoa so I guess that’s why I’m conflicted as I’m such a big fan.
Disney can be proud to add Moana to its resume (Or Curriculum Vitae in the UK. Yep – I totally had to look up that spelling). The animated scenes involving The Abyss-like ocean were beautiful, especially the one involving toddler Moana (Cutie patootie! She’s much cuter than Ed Harris). I wish I could say that Moana was perfect – However, some of-the-moment jokes that will date and songs that aren’t as instantly memorable as some of the absolute classics in Disney’s history will keep this film from being quite as timeless as I’d have liked. Still, Moana helps keep Disney & Pixar a thousand miles ahead of anything made by other Western animation studios. Keep up the great work, Disney! We’ll just pretend things like Chicken Little didn’t happen.
My Rating: 8/10
Is there a scene after the credits? Yes, at the very end. Is it worth staying for? Hmm… Only if you’re one of those who HAS to see the end credits bits. Like me. It’s fairly funny but nothing too amazing if you really gotta pee.
I’ll just say a very small bit about the short shown before Moana:
I’m sure a lot of people have called Inner Workings a rip off of Inside Out. Well, it sort of is but that’s not really fair as it’s quite a lovely short with a great moral about following your heart & living life to its fullest. I think it’s one of the better animated shorts I’ve seen in a while and I have to admit that I do love a good, non-preachy life-lesson. The Disney & Pixar shorts really know how to “tug at the heartstrings”! I far preferred this to Lava, which I didn’t like very much. I bring this up as it’s funny that Moana is quite reminiscent of Lava. Oh well – Inner Workings is pretty good. Better than Lava but still not as good as Feast (I loved that short!).
My Inner Workings Rating: 7.5/10
Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating the 100th birthday of Kirk Douglas by reviewing a lesser-known Brian De Palma film in which he starred…
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford
Production company: Walt Disney Pictures
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.
I’m not going to ramble on & on with some long review of this. I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Pete’s Dragon. My 7-year-old didn’t like it all that much. My hubby pretty much hated it. I was so disappointed in him spoiling my enjoyment! 😉 Grumpy turd. Yeah, I get to go to movies with a hubby who says things in disgust like “sometimes his (Elliot’s) fur blows in the wind & sometimes it doesn’t” and “this is so hipster” and “this movie is draining” and “I haven’t felt so cold on a movie in a long time”. He’ll be annoyed when he reads this tomorrow & he’ll probably moan that I’ve misquoted him… Anyway, I feel like I must have watched a completely different film from the one my husband & daughter saw while sat next to me. I really liked it.
I’m not gonna lie – this movie is vanilla ice cream on wholesome white bread. This movie is golden retriever puppies sliding down rainbows into cotton candy clouds. I think that may be one of the hubby’s biggest problems with it. I can’t say that a film being too wholesome bothers me all that much, as long as I don’t feel like it’s preaching to me or trying to shove its values down my throat (like I felt while watching Zootopia/Zootropolis). I just thought this was a lovely family film with its heart in the right place. It doesn’t exactly cover any groundbreaking territory in terms of its lessons but it’s not preachy & I cared about the characters. What more do you want from a Disney movie?
The boy playing Pete (Oakes Fegley) was very good as was the young girl (Oona Laurence). How are kids such good actors these days? The acting from kids used to be pretty dodgy in old movies. I far preferred Bryce Dallas Howard’s character in this to the thoroughly unlikable one in Jurassic World. Her relationships with Pete and with her father (an underused Robert Redford) were believable. Sappy, yes, but you seriously want everyone to live happily ever after in this. For some reason, though, I felt like Wes Bentley & Karl Urban should have been in each other’s roles. Don’t know why, but I pictured Urban as Howard’s boyfriend for some reason.
Then, of course, there’s Elliot. I loved him. I think they did very well with his look. He’s just scary enough when need be but also believable as a gentle creature who could be a boy’s best friend. I want an Elliot! Oh, this movie was directed by David Lowery, who hasn’t directed many big films other than Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (which I reviewed HERE). These are obviously two very different films storywise but do have a similar lovely look & mood that I especially appreciated in Saints. Pete’s Dragon is luckily more of a re-imagining than an actual remake & doesn’t harm the (admittedly dated) original, which I can’t quite say of this year’s The Jungle Book. Of these two modern “remakes”, I definitely prefer Pete’s Dragon. I haven’t read other reviews of this yet so don’t know if people agree more with me or with my husband so I’d love to hear your opinions if you’ve seen the movie. I really liked it.
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.
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!