Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2018

Happy New Year, everyone! 2019. Holy shit. Well, I suppose I better post my December Roundup so I can finally get on with posting my 2018 Year End Top Ten Lists. I love lists!!!! I’ll be posting those the rest of this week. So first of all, here’s what I watched & read in December 2018.

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Splendor In The Grass – 8.5/10
Metropolis – 8.5/10
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – 8/10
A Star Is Born (2018) – 8/10
A Simple Favor – 7.5/10
Aquaman – 7/10
Mirai – 7/10
Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) – 7/10
The King’s Speech – 7/10
Ralph Breaks The Internet – 7/10
Bumblebee – 7/10
The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – 6.5/10
Mary Poppins Returns – 6.5/10
American Animals – 6/10
Slaughterhouse Rulez – 5.5/10
The Grinch – 4.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

*l’m going to sound grumpy in my reviews below since I’ve already reviewed the stuff I actually liked. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was especially fantastic. Believe the hype! All my reviews are linked.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – 8/10

Aquaman – 7/10

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) – 7/10

Bumblebee – 7/10

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society – This was my “Christmas present wrapping movie” this year. It wasn’t as much fun as watching Road House while wrapping presents – I’ll be going back to watching that one while wrapping next year. This was still a decent movie, though, and it continues to annoy me that Lily James is so damn cute. Here’s the plot synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in 1946, the plot follows a London-based writer who begins exchanging letters with residents on the island of Guernsey, which was under German occupation during World War II.I enjoyed the story and the characters were well developed and the romance worked well even though I don’t normally go for that sort of thing. It probably deserves a higher rating but it was still a bit too “chick flick” for my tastes. – 6.5/10

Mary Poppins Returns – 6.5/10

Mute – Hmm. Okay – I’ve been meaning to watch this as I really liked Moon from Duncan Jones (plus he’s cool on Twitter and of course he’s David Bowie’s son and that’s awesome). But then it got pretty bad reviews so I waited. I can see why it got bad reviews. It’s certainly no Moon! The characters are really hateful (the main guy & his girlfriend were okay, I guess. And the young girl). The story was pretty silly and felt a bit pointless after how it ended. It felt like one of those movies where the director had a vision of the backdrop he wanted for the film then wrote a story around it, which didn’t really work. I did like some of the imagery and always love futuristic sci-fi so I didn’t totally hate the film. But I didn’t like it all that much, either. It’s a poor Blade Runner imitation. Overall, it was a big disappointment but I like that Jones got to make the film exactly as he’d wanted. – 6/10

Thoroughbreds – This movie was pretty disappointing as well. I was looking forward to it after hearing comparisons to things like Heathers. I do like a good teen angst movie! Okay – people need to stop calling every angsty teen movie the next Heathers. Nothing will ever live up to Heathers or any of the other 80’s teen movies. Heathers was witty with some of the most quotable dialogue ever and fantastic characters. Thoroughbreds was mostly just boring, which I didn’t expect since the story revolves around the girls planning to kill someone. I do like both these actresses fine and it was good seeing Anton Yelchin again (R.I.P.) so, like with Mute, I didn’t totally hate this. It just felt a bit pointless and a little “up its own arse”. Just because a plot is a little dark, it doesn’t automatically make something a brilliant film. – 6/10

Justice League – I finally watched this since I figured I better see it before watching Aquaman (which I really enjoyed!). Meh. I really can’t get into the DCEU movies, although I did like Wonder Woman & Aquaman. The Batman & Superman movies have been atrocious, though, and I can’t stand Ben Affleck. Like most superhero movies, this felt exactly the same as all the rest. Hell, I barely remember the stupid plot now and I only just watched this last week. These stories are getting boring as hell. However, Wonder Woman has a big role in this film and she’s easily the best thing about it. She saved the movie (somewhat). It’s far better than the Batman & Superman films, at least! But the MCU movies are still so much better overall. At least this one didn’t totally suck. – 6/10

The Christmas Chronicles – Well, this was silly as hell but it’s the sort of thing you’d expect from a family Christmas movie anyway. And who (my age) doesn’t love Kurt Russell?? He’s still awesome, even when old and with hair like 70’s Kenny Rogers. I was a bit like “I kind of want to f*^k this Santa”. Is that inappropriate? I mean, he was in The Thing! The Thing rules. We need a Kurt Russell Santa movie directed by John Carpenter. It wouldn’t have had those dumbass elf(?) rat-looking things. As for this movie, it was fine other than those weirdass elf things. Well, I’m also not so sure about Russell singing the blues in prison (the hubby & I both pointed out a few times that they seemed to be influenced by Adventures In Babysitting for this movie). The movie would’ve been better with less cheese as the story itself, although a thoroughly predictable “dead parent” story, was suitably heartwarming for Christmas. The two kids were quite likeable as well. Can we just have a little less cheese in our Christmas movies?? It’s A Wonderful Life is heartwarming with very little cheese. And no stupid elf rats. – 5.5/10

Amber Lake This was one of those movies with a decent story idea but so poorly executed thanks to a bad script and terrible acting. The clearly very low budget didn’t help either. It really was a wasted opportunity. Oh, and it also uses the Rashômon concept of telling the same story from different perspectives. But that of course worked in the hands of Akira Kurosawa as he was a genius and one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Amber Lake is no Rashômon! Obviously. Um… I don’t actually know what to say about this. Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb: “Three half-sisters, after being invited to their father’s lake house to meet him and each other for the first time, are each questioned by a local sheriff to explain the events that took place leading up to the discovery of their father floating dead in the lake.” It’s on Amazon Prime in the UK if you’re interested but do yourself a favor & watch Rashômon instead. Or any Kurosawa film. You won’t regret it. I kind of regret watching Amber Lake, though. – 5/10

Cam – I really need to stop trusting tweets from Twitter’s “horror community”. I’ve realized that they rave about every horror movie no matter how good or bad it really is. Cam is yet another Netflix film that everyone thinks is great, probably because they get to watch it at home as part of their subscription, which is a lot easier than dragging your butt off the couch to go the cinema to watch something that’s actually good. Netflix is the new equivalent of “straight to video” in the Eighties. Anyway, after all my bitching I can see why this would have some fans (especially horny guys). And, yes – it’s an original story so I definitely give it credit for that in this day & age of sequels and reboots. It’s a good concept but having a thoroughly annoying character as its focus didn’t really work. I don’t want to hate all the characters in a movie – it just means that I don’t care what happens to them. To be fair, this movie did have a good idea and I think I’d have liked it okay if they’d gone about it differently. Plus the porn thing didn’t work for me, I suppose, since I’m a girl. Hey – whatever happened to Babestation in the UK? Is that still around?? I haven’t been channel surfing at 3am in recent years… – 5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby – I like Nick Hornby & have read most of his books. The film adaptation of this came out a few months ago so I figured I better read the book before checking out the movie (Ethan Hawke is in it so I’ll be watching it at some point). The book was okay and very “Hornby” but definitely not one of his best. I like that there’s once again a music connection, as there often is with his stories. In this one, a guy is obsessed with an old rock star who had one big hit album then disappeared. His long suffering girlfriend (or were they married? I don’t remember!) ends up being contacted by the rock star after she posts a review online of his new album. Hey – I review stuff online! I’ve reviewed several Chris Hemsworth movies. Where’s my e-mail from him? Hey Chris – I’m totally up for a hot love affair! Anyway. Where was I? Oh, this book was fine but a little boring. The characters were weak compared to those in other Hornby novels but I sadly related to the pathetic guy in this & his obsession since I get kind of obsessed with stuff like that too. I mean, I obviously have a movie blog. The guy posted on a blog dedicated to the rock star. We’re obsessive nerds. Hornby does seem to write the “obsessive nerd” characters well. The book was a decent enough read but I didn’t love the ending. However, I do think it would make for a good movie so I’ll be watching that as soon as it’s available on whatever service. – 3/5

Currently Reading: Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Nothing. Well, Grey’s Anatomy. Ugh. And The Walking Dead. Ugh Ugh. Eagerly awaiting Game Of Thrones and Stranger Things!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’m going to take it easy this month. I actually watched too many movies last year and plan to cut down on that as well. Fewer movies but hopefully better movies. Although I do enjoy writing a bitchy review, obviously. I’ll continue with these monthly roundups and will try to review the movies I see in the cinema. I also plan to continue the Blind Spot Project. I’ll post my 2019 choices for that next week after I finish posting my 2018 Top Ten Lists.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

As usual, January is a weak month for movie releases in the UK. Of the below, I’m only really interested in going to see Glass. The Mule & Green Book also sound decent.

The Favorite – Will wait for Netflix. Not a fan of the director. Hated The Lobster.

Welcome To Marwen – Really liked the plot synopsis for this but it’s had bad reviews.

Colette – Looks like a good story but stars Keira Knightly. Yuck. So will wait for Netflix.

Glass – The one film I’ll definitely go to, even though I’m not a huge fan of this trilogy. But I do like Shyamalan for the most part.

Mary Queen Of Scots – Again, it looks okay but it’s a Netflix movie for me. I’m not big on historical dramas.

The Mule – This stars Clint Eastwood so I can guarantee that my dad will be watching this one…

A Dog’s Way Home – Actually, I’m likely to go to this as well. It’s a cute doggo story so I can guarantee that my daughter will be dragging me to it…

Green Book – I really like the sound of this one and it’s had great reviews. If it’s shown near me, I may go.

There wasn’t a lot of music in the movies I watched in December (other than Mary Poppins Returns, obviously, but those songs were pretty boring). So here’s one of the best songs from Bumblebee’s overuse of 80’s music to shove all its Eightiesness in our faces. Tears For Fears are underrated. Mad World is one of the best songs ever. But they of course didn’t use that one in Bumblebee…

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Warcraft: The Beginning (2016) Review

Warcraft: The Beginning (2016)

Directed by Duncan Jones

Based on Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment

Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Daniel Wu, Glenn Close?!?!

Plot Synopsis:
The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people, and their home.

My Opinion:

I really didn’t fancy going to see this movie at all but the hubby kind of wanted to see it and, well, I never really pass up the opportunity to go to a movie… So I went! I have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about Warcraft so I figured it would be best to just go in totally blind & see what I thought. You know what? The movie isn’t bad. I was worried as I mentioned the other day that I’ve never seen such a wide gap between public opinion at IMDB (7.9/10) & the metascore (the opinion of critics – a very low 31/100). I’m usually somewhere between the two scores but I’m closer to public opinion on this one. Critics never really rate fantasy highly anyway so screw them – if you like this sort of thing, give it a go! I enjoyed it just fine.

I’ll admit that the thing that interested me the most was watching another film from David Bowie’s son. I thought Moon was great and Source Code was entertaining but not perfect. I’d say the same of Warcraft – it definitely has its issues but I found it entertaining. I think I may have even enjoyed it a little more than Source Code. The characters were pretty strong (for a fantasy movie based on a game, anyway) and it has me interested enough to watch a sequel if one gets made. It doesn’t have me interested enough to explore the story/game at all but I do actually hope there’s a sequel.

The movie starts off with the orcs & I thought I’d find the look of them really distracting but it didn’t take long to get over that. I think the movie looks pretty good – it’s not like the orcs look any weirder/cheesier than creatures in the Lord Of The Rings movies. We got a good story involving that orc dude in the above photo & I like that – I want to give a shit about characters in movies. I think this movie did a pretty good job in developing several key characters (considering that there are quite a few to get to know) & giving us some good back stories plus loads of potential for more to come in any sequels.

Yeah, I said “that orc dude” up there because the one thing I really struggle with when it comes to fantasy are all the damn names. Here are some examples from this movie: Gul’dan, Durotan (chieftain of the Frostwolf clan!), Draka, Orgrim Doomhammer (lol! that last name kicks ass), Sir Anduin Lothar, Khadgar, Medivh, Garona, Daenerys Stormborn, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons, blah blah blah. Okay, I threw some extra shit in at the end there. I did feel like I do when watching Game Of Thrones – the hubby must get so sick of my “Who the hell is that dude?!” questions. There are orcs, there are humans, there’s a sexy half orc/human, there are these cool wizard dudes (my favorite! I love cool wizard dudes!), there are kings, queens, chieftains, cool scary beasts & birds that the orcs & humans ride, Glenn Close (!), and an adorable uglycute orc baby. And they all go to war. And use cool blue & green magic. And I was never really sure what was going on and I sure as hell still don’t have a clue what any of their names were. Meh – it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s meant to be a bit of fantasy entertainment & I think it does achieve this quite well. The very low critic ratings are unfair.



The wizard dudes were the best. Or whatever they were called as I don’t think they were called wizards…

Besides the wizard dudes, I also really liked the sexy half human/half orc (Paula Patton), the main good guy orc dude & his family (okay okay – I looked his name up! it’s Durotan played by Toby Kebbell), the human king (Dominic Cooper) & his family, plus the main good guy human (Travis Fimmel). I’ve never seen Fimmel in anything before & he’s fine but I was distracted by him being this weird cross between Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison and Richard Tyson as the bad guy in Kindergarten Cop



Summary:

Ignore the snobby critics – if you like this sort of genre, I don’t see why you wouldn’t like Warcraft. It has all the elements I expect from a fantasy film plus characters I liked & storylines I enjoyed. What more can you ask for? No, it’s obviously no Lord Of The Rings but it’s a decent movie based on a game. Hell, it’s probably one of the very best “game movies” as most of those are complete & utter shit. The one thing I’ll say is that it could’ve used slightly more comic relief – the movie has a small amount of this (mostly with the young wizard, who was probably my favorite character) but a little more would’ve helped me warm to the characters a bit more. I’m not gonna lie – this is a movie I probably won’t remember a thing about in a couple of years. But, hey, it does the job. And I do want a sequel.

My Rating: 7/10


I did like the hero’s eagle thingy. I want one.

Is There Anything After The Credits? Nope! Not at the end or even halfway through. So go have a pee!

Music Video Friday: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy & Windowlicker (A Chris Cunningham Special)

I’m vaguely aware of the MTV Video Music Awards having been on last weekend. Like MTV itself, remember the good old days when the VMAs didn’t suck ass?? I usually still watch the show (and bitch to hubby about how much it sucks – I’m so old!). But I haven’t watched last weekend’s. Hosted by Miley Cyrus? A world where Kim Kardashian could be the First Lady? I just don’t have the energy for it anymore. I’m all bitched-out. I feel so far removed from the “youth” of today. And that’s before we even get to the fact that the music & the videos are shit now!

Then David Bowie’s son (Duncan Jones) tweeted this:

Right on, Duncan! Hell, I was happy enough with the cheesy videos of the Eighties (things like last week’s video – Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield). That will always be my favorite era of MTV, of course, but I did love that period during the late 90s/early 2000s when people like Spike Jonze & Chris Cunningham came along & made truly artistic videos that were more like “mini-films”. I know we still get the occasional good video but they seem to be few & far between.

I love the videos from those mentioned in the above tweet (Jonathan Glazer, director of Under The Skin, made one of my very favorites: UNKLE’s Rabbit In Your Headlights) but I’ve been meaning to talk about Chris Cunningham one of these Fridays. I’m sure I’ll post other videos of his but wanted to start with those he did for Aphex Twin.

Cunningham is most famous for the amazing Björk video All Is Full Of Love and I think his video for Afrika Shox by Leftfield and Afrika Bambaataa is great. But I remember going “what the fuuuuuuuu%&k?” when I saw his video for Come To Daddy by Aphex Twin (Richard D. James). Come To Daddy was released in 1997 & I saw it on MTV but it was on a show where I think celebrities were talking about their favorite videos and this one was chosen & played (since by this point MTV was just TV shows instead of music videos). And I thought “Wow! What the hell was that? Why isn’t MTV playing this sort of thing all the time??” Then Cunningham topped it with the ultra weird 1999 video for Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker. 

I’ve rambled on long enough & I’d assume everyone here has seen these videos by now. But, just in case you haven’t (Rob), I better put a WARNING: Not Safe For Kids! Both are very disturbing and Windowlicker has loads of swearing (according to Wikipedia, “There are 127 uses of profanity in the dialogue segment of the video (which is under 4 minutes), including 44 uses of the word fuck. This averages to more than one use of profanity every two seconds”). But, in searching for these, I discovered a short film by Cunningham that I somehow knew nothing about!!! And it makes these videos look like Disney cartoons. If you’re brave enough after watching these, click THIS LINK for his film Rubber Johnny (featuring, again, music from Aphex Twin). Now THAT is weird…

Enjoy! And Sweet Dreams. 😉 I know I won’t be having any of those since watching Rubber Johnny!