Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2022

Happy July! Where has this year gone? And will it ever actually be summer in the U.K.? And will I ever stop complaining about shitty U.K. weather after 20 years of living in England? I know by now that we’re lucky to get summer weather for maybe two weeks each year. But when the hell are those two weeks gonna be?!

Here’s what I watched & read in sunless June… (once again all logged & reviewed on my Letterboxd as well)

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

A Star Is Born (1954) – I’d only seen the 2018 film, which was good, but this one was great. Not sure why I hadn’t explored more of Judy Garland’s work until recently as I’ve been such a big fan of The Wizard Of Oz my whole life. She was such a brilliant all-around entertainer and I enjoyed seeing much more of her acting here in between some fun musical numbers. Garland & James Mason worked well together & it’s a shame she didn’t win the Oscar for this performance. Would be interested in seeing the other two versions of this story now too but I know this one will remain my favorite. Very glad I finally checked this out & it’s easily one of the best films I’ve watched this year. – 8.5/10

Another Round – Very good film with excellent performances, especially from Mads Mikkelsen. Not quite as good as Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt but I thought it did a great job capturing how many of us feel as we get older. I could relate to Mikkelsen’s character & dissatisfaction. Want to say I “enjoyed” this but also found it very depressing as I think I could relate to it a little too much. But that’s the sign of a great film & performance. – 7.5/10

Beast – This was good. I know Jessie Buckley is popular now but I’ve only seen her in a few roles. She’s fantastic in this so I can understand the hype now. She really makes this whole film worth watching & it’s an interesting character study. Johnny Flynn is also good as the mysterious & potentially dangerous man she falls in love with. He’s a bit weak in comparison to Buckley but together they’re great & have very good chemistry. Glad I checked this one out. – 7.5/10

St. Vincent – These predictable feelgood dramedies sometimes work, sometimes don’t. If the characters are good I’ll like the film & this one worked for me. Bill Murray is playing his usual grumpy smart ass. I can’t say I always like him being that way but it worked really well with all the other characters in this, especially young Jaeden Martell as the boy next door who he reluctantly agrees to look after (for enough pay) while his struggling single mother (Melissa McCarthy) is at work. Also really liked McCarthy’s character & Naomi Watts as Murray’s sex partner (for enough pay). The movie takes a somewhat unexpected dramatic turn halfway through but it does make you care for Murray’s character. It also does something you’ll see coming from a mile away toward the end but, screw it – it was predictable & feelgood but I liked it. It manages to still not get too sentimental or soppy, which gets on my nerves. I enjoyed the film & liked the characters. Nothing wrong with that. – 7.5/10

Dual – An odd film but the story is very much my thing & I really liked this idea. People having to fight their clones to the death? That’s cool! But it was hard to care about Gillan’s character(s) with her complete lack of emotion. I guess it was part of the bleak dystopian tone the film was going for, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. It kept this dystopian sci-fi lover happy enough, though, and I appreciated this story & know I’ll rank it highly for 2022 although I do wish the film was a bit better. – 7/10

The Tale – A difficult film for me to rate as I rate films on my personal enjoyment first & foremost but with some consideration for “worthiness” as well. This is certainly a worthy film & an important story to tell but it’s also extremely uncomfortable to watch & one of those films I know I’ll never watch again. Laura Dern is very good as is Isabelle Nélisse, looking the way a 13-year-old actually looks & making the film even more disturbing. It was interesting how the film was told in flashbacks & I think it was very effective to start with a different young actress, making it even more shocking when Dern’s character realises her first memories aren’t quite accurate. Worthy film & performances but obviously very upsetting content. – 7/10

Hard Target – I’ve avoided JCVD films my whole life & now I’ve watched four in the past year. JCVD rules! These movies are awesomely bad. Love ‘em. Nothing beats Bloodsport, though, and I’d probably rank Hard Target last of the four I’ve seen. Bloodsport is the best by far, then Timecop, then probably Lionheart just above Hard Target as Lionheart has more, well, heart. I’m a girl – I was a sucker for sexy sensitive JCVD helping his dead brother’s cute kid in Lionheart.

Holy shit – I completely forgot that he bit the rattle off a rattlesnake in this. What a stud!

I hadn’t read the Hard Target plot synopsis beforehand so was delighted when I realised it was just The Most Dangerous Game but with mullets. The movie starts out slow but certainly goes all out on the action & explosions at the end. Gotta love slow-motion running-away-from-explosion scenes! It was ridiculous, over-the-top John Woo fun & I liked Lance Henriksen’s cheesy bad guy. But I prefer the fight scenes in other films with JCVD using only his muscles as weapons. I’d rather watch him kicking baddies in the face & doing the splits. But there’s still some face-kicking in this & I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the mullet & not enough splits action. – 6.5/10

Oh yeah – I guess he did do the splits at least once in Hard Target…

The Trip – This was good fun. Decided to watch it when I realised it’s from the director of Dead Snow & stars Aksel Hennie from Headhunters as I enjoyed both those movies. Hennie & Noomi Rapace worked well together as a married couple both planning to murder each other while on a trip to a cabin. But things go very wrong when some escaped convicts show up & that’s when shit gets crazy (and surprisingly violent!). If you liked Dead Snow, you’ll probably like this. It’s not as outrageous as that one (Dead Snow is more my type of thing) but this still has some funny moments. I also liked that it was kind of a f**ked up romance. Give me this over unrealistic rom-coms. – 6.5/10

The Suicide Squad – Not sure how I feel about this film. Certainly far prefer it to the dull & dreary DC stuff. I like James Gunn, just as much for things like Slither as Guardians Of The Galaxy, so I wanted to see what he’d do with yet another set of misfit characters I had very little knowledge of before the film. This one doesn’t work nearly as well as Guardians Of The Galaxy & I didn’t find myself caring about any of the characters in the same way. Of course, they’re bad people so I guess we aren’t meant to like them.

I did enjoy some of the (many) characters, though, and they are luckily the ones focused on the most. The most likeable being Ratcatcher 2, who I thought would be one of the most boring characters but was possibly my favorite by the end. I thought Idris Elba & John Cena were pretty great as Bloodsport & Peacemaker. Also liked the Colonel Rick Flag character and did laugh a few times at King Shark & Polka-Dot Man. Harley Quinn was probably the most disappointing but maybe they just don’t know how to deal with her character? Seems loved in the comics, which I know nothing about, but I’ve not really liked any of the movie versions I’ve seen of Quinn (but I do think Margot Robbie does a good job with what she’s given).

I did also enjoy just how absurd some of these characters & especially the story in the big finale were but the weirdness will definitely not be for everyone. I can see why this is a “love it or hate it” film. Considering I don’t exactly hate Gunn’s Troma work, I could appreciate the crazy humor in this. It’s pretty nuts. This film really isn’t far removed from some Troma movies & it’s cool that Gunn must have been allowed to do whatever he wanted with this. I do wish I liked it a little more & I don’t know if it’s actually a very “good” film. But at least I wasn’t bored, which I can’t say of all the DC or even all the MCU films. – 6.5/10

In The Heights – Found this underwhelming. Did really like the stories involving Usnavi, Vanessa, Claudia & Sonny but the movie felt very long & had far too many other characters with less interesting storylines. I can’t remember any of the songs but I find that’s the case with most modern musicals. Remember when musicals were full of gorgeous visuals & amazing music? I just feel like I’ll barely remember this one in a few years. 

Oh wait! I remember the exact amount of money so I guess I kind of remember that one song. That was the best number & felt closest to what we would get in some of the all-time classic musicals. So I did like that as well as Abuela Claudia’s song. And the characters were likeable, which is important to me. So I don’t mean to sound quite so negative but did still find this underwhelming as a musical. – 7/10

Freaky – This was fun. Not the most original idea & I think Landon’s Happy Death Day films worked a bit better using an existing idea for a horror comedy. But the two leads seemed to be having fun & there were some inventive & surprisingly bloody kills. – 6.5/10

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – Not sure how I feel about this film either. Although I watch all the MCU movies I’m not a huge fan & always welcome the ones that feel a little different. Was excited about the “MCU horror” everyone said this was so was disappointed to find out how mild it was. I still felt like I was watching the same MCU formula again but with an even weaker story than usual. Being a big Romero “Dead” fan I of course enjoyed Zombie Strange and did like some of the weirder bits but there wasn’t enough weirdness to keep me from getting bored. And why would I care about the fate of new and/or slightly different characters when it’s a different universe anyway? There’s no threat there. As always, we know our main heroes will be safe back in this universe. The addition of America Chavez was fine & the stuff with Bruce Campbell was really fun but I didn’t care about anyone else & what they did with Scarlet Witch was annoying after they had us all liking WandaVision so much. 

I don’t know. I first ranked this somewhat in the middle on my MCU rankings but I’ve now moved it way down to 26th place out of 28. It may change as I move these movies around a lot as further films come out & characters become more developed. Disappointing, though, as I quite liked the first Doctor Strange film. The more I thought about this one later, the more I thought it was a complete mess. – 6/10

Emergency – This was a bit all over the place & really dragged in the middle. The older sister, though understandably upset, was far too annoying & the bad decisions made by the main characters were increasingly frustrating. But the two main guys were very likeable & it was a good friendship movie. Got very intense & stressful at the end (which was the entire point of the film). Labelling this as a comedy is very misleading, though. – 6/10

Spiderhead – Wow. This was terrible. Disappointing as I really liked Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion & Tron: Legacy and liked the sound of the story in this. I see it’s based on a short story & I often find that just doesn’t work when stretched out into a full-length film. I mainly watched this for Chris Hemsworth & the fact it’s a 2022 release but thought Hemsworth didn’t suit this role at all & came across as far too silly (he’s still pretty as hell, though). Miles Teller & Jurnee Smollett were okay but I didn’t feel anything for any of the characters in this. 

The tone was also very odd, especially at the end where it seemed to be attempting a comedic montage to Hall & Oates. The songs used in this felt very out of place. But at least they were good songs, I guess. I’ll be nice & give this movie an extra half a point for using The Logical Song by Supertramp as it’s one of my all-time favorites… – 5.5/10

Possum – This was a better film than Spiderhead but I can’t bring myself to rank this creepy ass film above a pretty Chris Hemsworth movie. Yikes. This was unsettling. One of those movies where you feel unclean after watching it. I put on a lightweight comedy immediately after to cleanse my mind. I give it credit for having the creepiest puppet EVER. Nightmare inducing! Sean Harris did well playing a traumatised man. I’ll never watch this film again but at least it’s memorable. Mostly thanks to that horrifying puppet. I’d post an image of the puppet but I don’t want that damn thing on my blog. – 6/10

Movies Rewatched In June:

The Craft – Still enjoyed this on a rewatch all these years later, although it hasn’t aged as well as I was expecting. Starts out great but gets a bit too silly at the end. I’d like to change my hair color with magic, though. I hate going to a hairdresser. – 7/10

Local Hero – Such a lovely, quirky little film. I can see why some people love it & would find it charming. And such gorgeous filming locations – it makes me want to go live near a beach in Scotland. Especially like Burt Lancaster, the guy insulting him, young Peter Capaldi, the accents, sexy Wedge, the mermaid, the red phone box & the beautiful sky. Not a movie for everyone & I think some would find it boring as it’s a very slow film but there’s something very calming about it. – 7/10

Documentaries, Shorts, Etc:

The Decline Of Western Civilization – Been wanting to see this for years & enjoyed a glimpse of a music genre that I haven’t explored quite as much as others. Expected more of a “documentary” than this is but the live performances captured the punk lifestyle. Next onto my era & the one I’ve most been wanting to see: Part II – The Metal Years… – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked)

Obi-Wan Kenobi: S1 E3-6 – Enjoyed this but didn’t absolutely love it the way I did The Mandalorian. At least it was much better than The Book Of Boba Fett. I think Ewan McGregor is great & was by far the best thing about this show. And I enjoyed all the characters from the original trilogy as well as those from the prequel trilogy although the prequels mean less to me. But I’ve always liked Ewan as Obi-Wan so at least they chose the right prequel character for a show.

There were good & bad bits to this show, though. For the most part, I thought any completely new characters were rubbish. Except that Game Of Thrones chick – her character was fine. Oh! And Leia’s droid of course. I’ll always welcome a new droid!

I know I’m old & stuck in the past but I just care much more about existing characters I’ve known for years. They can of course add new ones but there are too many that just don’t work. Don’t know why. But they managed to make me absolutely fall in love with new character Grogu in The Mandalorian (of course!) & I ended up really liking lots of the other new characters in that too. Why did The Mandalorian get so many things right that other Star Wars stuff, including the sequel trilogy, didn’t? I don’t know. So I guess my Obi-Wan Kenobi review is this: anything having to do with original & prequel trilogy stuff was fine, most of the other stuff was rubbish (with a few exceptions). Meh. Whatever. But Ewan rules.

Pistol: S1 – Liked this. Have always been fascinated by the Sex Pistols & that lifestyle. No clue how accurate this show was but, hey, that’s what documentaries are for. To be honest, I became just as interested in the story of Christine Hynde while watching this. Have always thought she doesn’t get enough credit. The Pretenders have so many good songs.

The Boys: S1 E1-2: Finally checking this show out. Intrigued! Really good so far. Definitely going to keep watching…

Only Murders In The Building: S2 E1-2 – The first series was fun so we’re happy to have a new series to watch. A good family show for us. Still like that theme tune & the opening credits. And the three of them are so good together.

Community: S6 – We’ve finished. We have no more Community to watch. I’m heartbroken! Gotta say, though, that the last two seasons were definitely disappointing but I’d heard they went downhill. Don’t most shows? Still love the other seasons and we’ve actually started rewatching these episodes again from the start. Never rewatched a show right after finishing it before…

The Time Traveler’s Wife: S1 – I really liked this book & thought the film adaptation was pretty good so wasn’t too bothered about this TV series but I needed something to watch one day. I wasn’t really a fan. It’s been so long since I read the book now but it felt like they added a bunch of extra stuff that wasn’t in the book? I could be wrong. But I didn’t like the friends or the sister & them all knowing his secret. Were they in the book?! And I didn’t think the two leads were very good or convincing as a couple and they were kind of unlikeable. And, shit, it finished but not as it ended in the book. Is there a freaking second season coming or something?! I can’t be bothered with that. This is why I watch movies. They stretch shit out soooo much for TV & it’s unnecessary. They did a decent job with the movie adaptation of this but the show couldn’t even do the whole story in almost six fucking hours??? Ugh. I recommend the book instead – it’s much better & I thought it was a great, unique story. Or just watch the 2009 film.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: S1 E1-2 – Interested so far but can see just not having time to continue watching this anytime soon. Especially as now I really want to watch The Boys! But I do want to get back to this at some point.

The Staircase: S1 E1 – I’m not a true crime fan at all but thought I’d check this out as I’m always more interested in a dramatisation than an actual documentary (dumb, I know – I’m sure the docuseries or whatever of this is much better). I already know I won’t watch any more. The show didn’t grab me. I got bored & just looked up the case. The owl theory sounds kind of fascinating, though. But, seriously, I don’t fit in I guess as it’s such a big thing but I just don’t like true crime. I don’t want to know about these horrible real things that happened to real people. I’d rather watch a fictional murder mystery knowing it’s not real. I can’t “enjoy” true crime.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E14-17 – This show never really changes. It’s just so boring the past few years. Wish something would actually happen.

BOOKS READ

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – This was good & very well written but not really my type of thing. I enjoyed the story, though. A good mystery & fascinating characters. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family: fascinating, manipulative Isabelle; brutal, dangerous Charlie; and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But the house hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart… Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past, and its mysterious connection to the enigmatic writer Vida Winter. Vida’s history is mesmering – a tale of ghosts, governesses, and gothic strangeness. But as Margaret succumbs to the power of her storytelling, two parallel stories begin to unfold…

I think I had it in my mind that it might be a bit creepy and maybe supernatural with talk of ghosts & strange twins. All of that is right up my alley but it wasn’t anything like that. Still, I liked the story & the characters were strong. I think it would make for a good movie – I’d like to see an adaptation of this book. – 3.5/5

Now Reading Elsewhere by Dean Koontz

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Nothing! As usual. Two people read this blog. 🙂 I’ll keep doing these monthly roundup posts, though. I do miss the early days of the blog when there were loads of other bloggers around. Hey, we’ve weeded out the weak. Those of us who are left are hardcore!

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Fucking EVERYTHING. Feel so out of the loop not being able to go to the cinema to see the best new stuff. People only want to read reviews of brand new movies. Partly why my blog is so dead now, I guess. That and my posts suck. Ha!

Easy choice on which song to end my post with this month. Here’s the awesome The Logical Song by Supertramp from that shitty Spiderhead movie:

Doctor Sleep (2019) Review

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Based on Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis

Music by The Newton Brothers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.

My Opinion:

I watched Doctor Sleep today and don’t have a lot of time so I’ll keep this very brief. I wanted to quickly write something about it, though, since it makes sense to review it on Halloween. I adore Stephen King and try to read or watch at least one thing of his each October. I love that there’s SO much King content lately (Well, I didn’t love In The Tall Grass. Ugh.) You can find my very short reviews for the Doctor Sleep novel as well as the In The Tall Grass short story HERE.

I’m a huge fan of The Shining. And by that, I mean the Stanley Kubrick film that Stephen King hates. I of course love the novel as well but, as I saw The Shining at a fairly young age, it’s one of very few King adaptations I saw before reading the book. I hate doing it that way around but it can sometimes make you slightly prefer the movie as it’s the version you knew first. I love both the book and the movie but The Shining is a brilliant piece of filmmaking and will forever be one of my all-time favorite films. So I actually had the film version in my head more than the novel as I watched this sequel.

Doctor Sleep is good. From what I remember of the book at this point, it’s a faithful adaptation. Flanagan, who I’m starting to really like and whose adaptation of Gerald’s Game I thoroughly enjoyed, does a good job of keeping the fans of the novels as well as fans of Kubrick’s film happy. It’s no masterpiece, though. I do think it’s been hyped up too much by horror fans.

As for the story itself, I liked it but didn’t love it but I already knew that going into the movie. I far prefer the simplicity of the story in The Shining. I’m someone who does love the supernatural more than any other type of horror but the whole thing with The True Knot was always a bit too far out and silly for me, even for a Stephen King story. The Shining is far more scary as it feels somewhat more plausible and also leaves more to your imagination. Not only is it one of the best psychological horrors with a truly terrifying descent into madness, it’s also a damn good and thoroughly creepy ghost story. We don’t get many good ghost stories. Comparing just the films themselves, Doctor Sleep has none of the special atmosphere of The Shining. I’m not someone who is ever scared by movies but The Shining comes closer than most to being truly scary thanks to its tone and its score and its carpet and I suppose the fact that it was made by such a gifted director. The Shining is a work of art whereas Doctor Sleep is just a good horror movie.

Okay – I’m not sure if I’m making sense since I’ve only just seen this and I’m trying to post a quick review before Halloween is over. I enjoyed Doctor Sleep but it had a hell of a lot to live up to. To be fair, the novel itself didn’t live up to the first book either. I’m glad the movie stayed faithful to the book but am not sure yet how I feel about bits of Stanley Kubrick’s film being recreated. At first I felt a little warm & fuzzy about it but then I kind of maybe didn’t like it so much. Kubrick’s film is beautiful & so iconic. I’m not sure I wanted to ever see it with lookalikes??

Ewan McGregor is fine as Dan Torrance and Kyliegh Curran is likeable as Abra. Their friendship is great but I didn’t really feel a strong connection between them. The true star of this film is actually Rebecca Ferguson as Rose The Hat. She’s awesome! She’s a horrible, evil bitch. Is it weird that I think I have a slight girl crush on her? She’s scary & sexy and one of the best villains we’ve had in horror in quite a while. So, I did enjoy her performance and I did like seeing the story unfold. I watch all Stephen King adaptations and always enjoy them, even when they aren’t so good (which unfortunately has been quite often). I’m happy to say that Doctor Sleep is definitely one of the better adaptations. However, it’s never going to be an all-time favorite of mine the way The Shining, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption are. I liked this film but I was hoping to love it. I actually think that It Chapter One was a better King adaptation from recent years. Oh well – at least Doctor Sleep did turn out better than It Chapter Two.

My Rating: 8/10

**I haven’t yet added Doctor Sleep to My Stephen King Movie Rankings. I have to give it a bit more time to sink in before I decide where to put it. I’m thinking it’s probably around 9 or 10. I was really hoping it would be higher…

Christopher Robin (2018) Review

Christopher Robin (2018)

Directed by Marc Forster

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.

My Opinion:

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!

My Rating: 6.5/10

My Top Ten Ewan McGregor Movies

Happy Birthday to Ewan McGregor, who turns 46 today. Ewan McGregor isn’t someone I’ve ever thought of as a favorite actor but I’ve always liked him & will happily watch a movie if he’s in it. Plus he’s cute. And, hey, he’s not afraid of some full frontal nudity. Right?! 😀

So happy birthday to sweet Ewan McGregor! Here are My Top Ten Ewan McGregor Movies, counting down to my favorite (and, yeah, starting at 17… I’ve seen 18 in total including a tie. Oh, and more if I didn’t count the Star Wars movies as one. Never mind!).

17. A Life Less Ordinary
16. Nightwatch
15. Young Adam
14. Angels & Demons
13. Blue Juice
12. Beauty And The Beast
11. The Island

TOP TEN:

10. TIE: Moulin Rouge! & Little Voice

9. The Impossible

8. Robots

7. Brassed Off

6. Beginners

5. T2 Trainspotting

4. The Star Wars Prequels

3. Big Fish

2. Shallow Grave

1. Trainspotting

Plus he had a cameo in A Million Ways To Die In The West but I’ve not counted that. The one film of his that I haven’t seen but really want to is Velvet Goldmine.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 🙂

Beauty And The Beast (2017) Review

Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Directed by Bill Condon

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.

My Opinion:

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? 😉

My Rating: 6/10

T2 Trainspotting (2017) Review

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Based on Trainspotting and Porno by Irvine Welsh

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
20 years after the previous film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland to make amends with his friends, Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), whilst avoiding the psychopathic Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this sequel more than I thought I would and it was better than I expected. It’s interesting that just last week I reviewed The Hustler (1961) and its sequel The Color Of Money (1986). It doesn’t always work to revisit characters with films that are 20+ years apart. However, in the case of both The Color Of Money & T2, I did thoroughly enjoy seeing what our much older characters are now up to and I don’t think either film ruined its (admittedly superior) predecessor.

Let’s face it – the Trainspotting sequel was never going to be better than the original. Trainspotting was so of its time and it captured a mood, time & place in a way I don’t think could ever be replicated now. All I wanted was a sequel that wasn’t embarrassing & didn’t ruin the characters as we remember them and I think Danny Boyle has managed to deliver this to Trainspotting fans. I’ve actually been extremely disappointed with some of his films I’ve watched lately (Trance, Slumdog Millionaire) so am very happy to say that this sequel met & even exceeded my expectations. I still like these characters. (Other than Begbie, of course… What an asshole!)

I really like the first film and think it deserves its acclaim for being something quite unique. When I first saw it years ago, it was when I was first starting to really get into films and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before (and probably one of the most shocking I’d seen at that point in my life). I was also still in America at that point so I suppose it was very foreign to me as well. I’ve only watched it once more since (just after moving to the UK over a decade ago) so, while I think it’s a very good film, I’m not one of its obsessive fans and had even forgotten bits & pieces of it. More than anything, it was the soundtrack from the original that stuck with me (Excellent soundtrack!). I probably could’ve done with re-watching the first before the sequel but, with the help of some flashbacks which I thought were well done, it filled in a few blanks in my mind.

My point is this: I’m no expert or obsessive Trainspotting fan and I’ve never read the books so I don’t feel very qualified in reviewing this sequel. I know I personally enjoyed it and it was great revisiting the characters and seeing them together again (especially Renton & Spud. I’d forgotten how likable Spud was – he’s easily my favorite character in the sequel). This is a more grown-up film and certainly not as intense as the original but it feels “right“. These guys are 20 years older – they’re not going to be exactly the same. However, they still stay true to their characters and, though older and supposedly wiser, still make bad decisions and mistakes.

Immediately after watching this, I was mostly curious what fellow blogger Mark of Marked Movies thought of it as I know he’s a big fan of the original (and he’s from Scotland, I should add). He kindly reviewed the original a couple of years ago for my IMDB Top 250 Project HERE (Thanks again, Mark!). I figure that his opinion on this sequel is far more relevant than mine so, if you’d also like the opinion of a big Trainspotting fan, you can read his review of the sequel HERE. It looks like we both feel quite similar about the sequel so Boyle seems to have done a good job keeping loyal fans (as well as casual fans such as myself) happy. Oh yeah – The soundtrack is also okay but it’s not as awesome as the first film’s!

My Rating: 7/10

Trainspotting (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He’s also reviewed Heat (HERE) and Argo (HERE) and The Big Lebowski (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Trainspotting, IMDB rank 151 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenplay: John Hodge.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly MacDonald, Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Shirley Henderson, Pauline Lynch, Stuart McQuarrie, Keith Allen, Kevin Allen, Dale Winton, Irvine Welsh.

Director Danny Boyle’s marvellous debut “Shallow Grave” was always going to be a hard act to follow but to attempt an adaptation of the ‘unfilmable’ Scottish novel “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh, seemed like lunacy. Boyle, however, captures Welsh’s book brilliantly and despite “Slumdog Millionaire” gathering him a best director Oscar, this still remains his best film.

It follows the lives of a group of friends from Edinburgh as they experience the high’s and low’s of life through heroin use. Renton (Ewan McGregor) decides to go clean and rid himself of his affliction and his low-life chums but finds that’s easier said than done. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is too needy, SickBoy (Jonny Lee Miller) is too controling, Tommy (Kevin McKidd) has just taken some bad direction and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is just plain pychotic. Renton, however, enters into making a one off drug deal with his old pals, so as to make a new life for himself altogether.

Boyle’s film has often been criticised as glorifying drug use. Glorifying drug use? Really? People who believe this must have been watching a different film. The characters involved all behave despicably. They are responsible for thefts, fights, deaths – including the death of a baby. Get imprisoned. Contract HIV. Ruin their lives and others’, all because of their drug habit. What this film has in depth, vibrancy and fun, is the reason it could be mistaken for being pro-drug use but having these qualities is more of a testament to the filmmakers involved, in making a bleak and depressing subject matter, very entertaining. The characters are extremely well written (kudos to writer Welsh) and acted by an ensemble of excellent actors. It made a star of Ewan McGregor, who’s character, although likeable – and brilliantly played – is essentially the person responsible for the downfall of many of the other characters. Notable other performances are Ewen Bremner as “Spud”, the most endearing of the group and a character too gentle for his lifestyle. The best of the bunch though, is Robert Carlyle as the psychotic “Begbie”, who’s choice of drug isn’t heroin but violence – and he’s just as destructive with it. He’s a dangerous and highly volatile person and Carlyle perfectly captures the on-edge feeling of his terrifying unpredictability. It’s an award worthy performance that was sadly overlooked. Everything about the film reeks of class. From it’s rollicking soundtrack, to the rich, snappy dialogue, with great characters in hilarious situations and kinetic fast paced direction. This film has everything going for it and stands as one of the finest films of the 1990′s.

A relentlessly energetic experience that leaves you craving for more, much like the habit of it’s protaganists.
Pure uncut, Class A.

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Mark Walker

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Big Fish (2003) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe has already reviewed The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s hear her thoughts on Big Fish, IMDB rank 242 out of 250.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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Here is another film I undertook to see for Table9Mutant and her IMDB Top 250 challenge. I have been having a blast with this as I have been given the opportunity to go back and revisit some great  movies again, and there were quite a few that I had been meaning to get to again and look into. Without further ado, let me commence with sharing my feelings on Big Fish.

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“A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.” – Will Bloom

The story revolves around a dying father and his son, who is trying to learn more about his dad by piecing together the stories he has gathered over the years. The son winds up re-creating his father’s elusive life in a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts he knows. Through these tales, the son begins to understand his father’s great feats and his failings. (IMDB)

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“They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true.” – Edward Bloom

An 8/10 for Big Fish. This is a Tim Burton film, and certainly one of his finest films. While you can see it is a Burton flick due to the fantastical presentation of things, the story reels you in more effectively than many he has told recently, resonating with you when all is said and done. Big Fish boasts a phenomenal cast and they all bring the goods to the table effortlessly. Helena Bonham Carter was, as always, incredibly impressive. There was plenty of humour to go around in this movie without it getting old or too extremely cheesy or feeling too forced, but not enough for it to take front and centre stage either. Jessica Lange was perfectly cast to play Sandra K Bloom, she was beautiful, sweet, caring and a wonderful mother and loyal wife. Alison Lohman could conceivably have been her when she was younger, and I liked that you could see that Lange had grown from the woman that Lohman was. Ewan McGregor was fantastic to watch as the young Edward Bloom, and wove an impressive story, undertaking to show you something whimsical if only you would accompany him on his journey. Billy Crudup played the embittered and frustrated son that still loves his father though he does not like him very much. He played that well and was convincing. At times I could understand his frustration, and then at other times I thought it was excessive. The costume design was just amazing in here, telling a story completely on its own. I like how the movie explored reconciliation (without it being some serious overkill crap) and how people identify things differently, and the truth is simply how something is perceived.

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“I don’t think I’ll ever dry out.” – Sandra Templeton

There were so many scenes that were just put together so well and were just beautiful. I loved the scene where the young Edward Bloom finally sets eyes on a young Sandra Templeton and instantly falls in love. Time stops and it just lingers there, and he walks through it. Everything is frozen around him, the popcorn hangs in the air and gets brushed aside, he steps through hoops to get to her, the whole time completely enthralled, and the next thing you know time catches up, double time. It was just such an arrestingly beautiful scene and demands your attention, that you watch it and see how it all comes together. There are a few of these. This is also a beautiful story of true love and how it can last, how sometimes things just are perfect in life, and that is just that.  The score worked for this movie, too, but I must say is rather forgettable when all is said and done at the end of the day. Typical Danny Elfman/Tim Burton collaboration, and that is by no which means said in a demeaning manner. Big Fish is inspiring, though at times it gets annoying to watch father and son arguing all the time. Albert Finney was great to play the old man that Edward Bloom became. It was a lovely journey to follow through, to see what the son thought of his father and his stories, to see how he desperately just wanted the truth and was willing to dig for it, and how his father was just a passionate storyteller who loved his son, no matter what his son thought of him.

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“Everybody’s there, and I mean everybody. And the strange thing is, there’s not a sad face to be found, everyone’s just so happy to see you.” – Will Bloom

I must say that the present day storytelling was nice in the movie, but I was much more excited for and taken by the wonderful past experiences that Edward had to tell, the outline of his youth, the things that he had done, the places he had gone, the people he had met. They were insanely interesting and even though the tales are tall and a little ludicrous, when they are told the way they were laid out here, one is almost willing to forget that the movie is supposed to be deeply steeped in realism, and go out on a whim that Edward had the magical experiences that he proclaimed to. However, when the present rolls around again and you see it all as it is, that is when you know that he cannot seriously be telling the truth, everything is so plain and boring outside of his mind. Big Fish is a beautiful and stunning story, with an enchanting fairy tale element to it that works on many levels; this movie is definitely worth checking out if you have not done so already!

Beginners (2010) Review

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Beginners (2010)

Directed by Mike Mills

Starring:
Ewan McGregor
Christopher Plummer
Mélanie Laurent
Goran Višnjić
Mary Page Keller

Plot:

This film follows Oliver (Ewan McGregor) as he struggles to maintain a long-term relationship after growing up with two parents whose marriage was loving but distant. Oliver is 38 – his mother Georgia (Mary Page Keller) died five years ago and after her death his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) came out as an openly gay man. He admitted to Oliver that he’d always been gay through his whole marriage to Oliver’s mother. Soon after Hal comes out, he’s diagnosed with cancer. This film takes place in Oliver’s present day life (2003), soon after the death of his father and just as he starts a new relationship with French actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent). Through flashbacks we’re shown the previous five years of Hal & Oliver’s relationship and we see how Oliver dealt with his father’s now openly gay lifestyle and young new boyfriend (played by Goran Višnjić) & his father’s declining health.

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My Opinion:

This is a lovely film. Christopher Plummer won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role & I’m happy to say that it was well deserved. It was great to see Hal enjoying the freedom to finally be himself. Even after being diagnosed with cancer he doesn’t let it stop him using the chance to now fully embrace life & accept being (and be accepted for) the person he’s always been. Goran Višnjić is fine as Hal’s boyfriend but the real focus of the movie is the relationship between Hal & his son Oliver. They grow much closer in the last five years of Hal’s life as Hal can now be fully honest with his son. Their relationship is equally heartwarming & heartbreaking as we know from the start of the movie that Hal has already passed away.

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In present day, Oliver is talked into going to a party with his friends. It takes a bit of convincing & it’s obvious that Oliver is very sad & “lost” after his father’s passing. At the party he meets free spirit Anna, a French actress who also has trouble maintaining steady relationships as her job keeps her from staying in any one place for very long. They start a relationship which is great at first but turns more sad & distant as things become more serious. Through some further flashbacks we’re shown Oliver as a young boy (12ish?) and his mother Georgia. We can see that she’s another kooky free spirit, as is Anna, but she’s also very clearly sad & lonely after being in a marriage with someone who can never truly love her in the way a husband should. I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of the flashbacks with Oliver’s mother – I thought these flashbacks were very good & helped in a way to even better explain why Oliver now has such trouble with his relationships. The only time we see his parents together are in these flashbacks and we’re only ever shown his father giving his mother a brief kiss on his way to work, much in the sort of way you’d kiss a friend. There aren’t many of these flashbacks with Georgia but they’re simple & very effective.

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Although, yes, this movie is very sad it does have some humor in it. It’s a very “quirky” drama. Some of this quirkiness was good but some of it didn’t quite work for me – it felt too “forced”. One of Oliver’s best friends is his dad’s dog, adopted by Oliver after his dad’s death. He’s a cute Jack Russell and he talks. Don’t worry – not in a Bruce Willis, Look Who’s Talking voice! And his mouth doesn’t move or anything – he’s just subtitled. It’s not that often and not too terribly annoying but I did find it a little distracting. Oliver also has a couple of friends (the ones who drag him to the party) who are charming but perhaps also a little too quirky. They all go on little graffiti sprees and spray paint random deep & meaningful sayings that are a little too abstract and not actually all that deep & meaningful. And of course Anna is quirky and Oliver & Hal’s boyfriend are both a little bit quirky. I know I’m using the word quirky a lot but my point is that the movie tries a little too hard to be quirky. It’s not over the top, though – it didn’t bother me too much. I just preferred the more straight forward stuff in this.

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All this quirkiness felt sort of necessary, though, as it could have been a far too depressing movie without it. Oliver & Anna’s relationship starts out great – I loved them together and really bought into their relationship. But as it gets more serious and Anna gets more & more sad & withdrawn it gets a little too depressing. Anna’s reasons for remaining so distant from people aren’t explored as in-depth as Oliver’s so it’s harder to relate to her at the end. She’s an absolutely beautiful French actress and, aside from a little bit about a suicidal father who’s too dependent on her emotionally, it’s hard to see why she’d be so unhappy. Gorgeous. Having sex with Ewan McGregor. Totally can’t relate to that! 😉 Seriously, I think she’s stunning. Look at those eyes:

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Summary:

Beginners is a lovely drama about relationships and how love, which should be simple, can be so complex. The quirkiness is a little bit forced but not in a way that ruins what’s a charming film. The female characters of Anna & Georgia are a little underdeveloped but I guess that’s to be expected as this is more about the father & son. The relationship between Ewan McGregor’s Oliver & Mélanie Laurent’s Anna is sweet & I enjoyed watching it develop but the focus of the movie and what really makes it worthwhile is the relationship between Oliver & his father, Christopher Plummer’s Hal. It’s an equalling heartwarming & heartbreaking film. There’s a shot of Hal smiling at Oliver after a nurse has put some mousse in Hal’s hair & this really summed up the feeling of the movie and how bittersweet life can be.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Impossible (2012)

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So much for light Tuesday afternoon movie-watching… 😉

This kind of movie isn’t normally my type of thing. Movies, for me, are a form of escapism from real life. Same as with books. I like fiction. Sci-fi, fantasy… Most any genre is fine. But I can’t really handle true stories based on such heartbreaking & disastrous events – especially recent ones I remember well. I have yet to watch any 9/11 movies (and I doubt I will). But The Impossible looked very good from the trailer and, to be completely honest, the showtimes for it were the only ones that worked out for me and I really needed a trip to the cinema!

This movie is exactly what you’d expect – heartbreaking scenes with just the right balance of heartwarming scenes as well to keep the general movie-going, popcorn-munching public happy. Great performances from everyone involved but especially the older boy (played by Tom Holland) and Naomi Watts. I went to it and saw the exact movie I was expecting to see. I don’t know if that actually makes a film a great film, though. I’ll admit I know nothing about the real true story of the real family involved other than that I know they’re Spanish. And, no, I’m not going to ask why they couldn’t be played by Spanish actors – there are enough people bitching about that online already so I’ll just leave it to them to discuss!

Conclusion: Yes, this is a good solid movie based on true events with some great & touching performances. Is it getting even better reviews than it deserves as it’s based on such a traumatic recent event? Yes, probably a little bit. I do recommend it if it’s your kind of thing as you’ll get exactly what you’ll be expecting.

My Rating: 7/10

I’m going to some braindead “popcorn” movie next time, though. 🙂