Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2020

Happy New Year! 2020 is finally over! 🙂

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 for WALL-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

Shorts, etc:

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

Rewatched:

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??

BOOKS READ

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 MandalorianSeason 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 to do 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)
Swallow
The Invisible Man
The Hunt
The Lighthouse
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
Vivarium
Fatman
VFW
Promising Young Woman
Peninsula
Relic
The Lodge
Spontaneous

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. 🥰

Money Monster (2016) Review

Money Monster (2016)

Directed by Jodie Foster

Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito, Caitriona Balfe

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars George Clooney as Lee Gates, a TV personality who advises his audience on commerce and Wall Street, and who is forcefully interrogated by Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), a grief-stricken bankrupt viewer who lost his money after a previous tip.

My Opinion:

I chose to go to this movie in this way: “Eeny meeny miny… Oh, Money Monster has a much shorter running time than X-Men: Apocalypse or The Nice Guys so let’s just watch that one”. Money Monster is a decent enough film but it’s one of those that you know most people won’t bother to make a trip to the cinema to see. It’s a home-watcher. I enjoyed it even though it’s a bit formulaic & predictable but, hell, most movies are. If you like any of its stars or want to see a Jodie Foster film (I thought she’d directed far more movies than she actually has!), you’d probably like this one just fine.

This movie (its basic plot, at least) reminded me a lot of Man On A Ledge & I did keep thinking of that movie thoughout this one. I remember really looking forward to that film as it had a great concept but it ended up being a stupid, silly mess. Luckily, Money Monster is much better than Man On A Ledge so don’t worry about my comparison! It has much better writing & acting plus situations that aren’t as ridiculously far fetched.

Unfortunately, it does fall apart at the end after a pretty promising start. It’s one of those films where the “surprise” of what’s “really going on” isn’t a surprise in the slightest, which was a little disappointing as I wanted it to be something more than just “Oh, that’s it? Well that was obvious from the start”. I think it also fails to get its message across (if it even has a message?). I suppose the message of sorts is just about how big business/money always screws over the little guy but we all know that’s a fact of life anyway. This movie could’ve provided a good commentary on that but instead just turns into a pretty straightforward good guy vs bad guy hostage drama. I’d have to say that at least The Big Short made this same sort of point in a much more effective way & had a message (I actually hated that movie, though. Snoozefest!). Money Monster takes the path of “entertaining movie” more than “thought-provoking drama”. But there’s of course nothing wrong with a movie being entertaining – I just wish Money Monster had dug a bit deeper to be a little something more.

A quick mention of the film’s stars: Clooney’s role has his name written ALL over it – I would imagine he was the exact person they had in mind for the role even as it was being written. So, yeah, that works but his performance can’t help but feel a bit phoned-in because of it. I’d have to say that Julia Roberts actually does a better job here (and that’s being said by someone who really isn’t one of her fans). This is the perfect sort of role for her these days, though, and I’d even possibly go so far as to say she’s the best one in this. I know there’s been a lot of positive buzz around Jack O’Connell after Starred Up & ’71 (both of which I’ve not seen) and he’s decent enough in this but I think that his character lets him down as the movie fails to make him as sympathetic as I think it had intended.   Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito & especially Caitriona Balfe all did a good job and some of the smaller characters were pretty well-written and provided tiny bits of comic relief, even down to the cameraman who has to stay to film the whole thing while George Clooney has a bomb strapped to him.

I’d recommend Money Monster to anyone who thinks they’d enjoy it. As long as you don’t expect anything too deep, you’ll probably like it okay. I think it has slipped under the radar, which is kind of a shame as there aren’t a whole lot of similar films currently being made. I think Jodie Foster did a decent job with this one & should do more directing.

My Rating: 7/10

Tomorrowland (2015) Review

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Tomorrowland (2015) (aka Tomorrowland: A World Beyond in the UK)

Directed by Brad Bird

Starring:
George Clooney
Hugh Laurie
Britt Robertson
Raffey Cassidy
Thomas Robinson
Tim McGraw
Kathryn Hahn
Keegan-Michael Key

Running time: 130 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of a former boy genius (Clooney) and a young girl (Robertson), who travel to an ambiguous dimension known as “Tomorrowland”, where their actions directly affect the world and themselves.

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My Opinion:

Damn. Damn! Damn damn damn! Tomorrowland was one of my most anticipated movies this year. In fact, it’s the one I chose over everything else (even Star Wars!) when Luke over at Oracle Of Film asked the question: What is your most anticipated movie?”. Damn. Is it too late to change my answer?? What a disappointment.

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I desperately wanted to like this movie. It seemed to have everything going for it: Live action Disney sci-fi directed by Brad Bird! Everyone loves Bird’s Ratatouille and of course The Incredibles but my own personal favorite of his is The Iron Giant and I think I was hoping that Tomorrowland would have the heart that that one does. Unfortunately, Tomorrowland feels very cold & sterile and most of the characters, other than teenager Casey played by Britt Robertson, aren’t very likeable. In fact, George Clooney’s character is so grumpy & unlikeable at first that I wasn’t able to warm to him at all, especially after he knocks Casey off his front porch in a way that could’ve broken her damn neck. They explore his past to show us that he was once an optimistic “dreamer” but don’t really explain why all that changed. We’re given hints but not enough to make us care.

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I don’t know if this is SPOILER TERRITORY so look away for the rest of this paragraph if you still want to see this movie. A lot of the rather convoluted story revolves around an android girl and she’s almost as unlikeable as Clooney’s character. This movie reminded me in a lot of ways of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which also felt very cold & sterile and was a bit convoluted and unsure of its message. However, Haley Joel Osment was at least very good as the “robot boy” and you cared about his character. It IS possible to make us like “robot people”! Loads of movies have managed it. Heck, even D.A.R.Y.L. managed it! (Yes! I got another D.A.R.Y.L. mention into one of my reviews!). But in Tomorrowland, I didn’t care at all about this little android girl and her world so I didn’t really care if Clooney’s & Robertson’s characters would be able to save it or not. I should point out, though, that I don’t think any of this was the fault of the actress (Raffey Cassidy) as I think she was very good in a poorly written role. Oh! By the way – Hugh Laurie is in this too in a rather stupid & pointless role. He’s really not even worth mentioning. Although I guess I just did…

I’ll mention that there’s quite a bit of violence against the androids, which may disturb young kids as the androids look completely human and the very young may not understand that they’re just robots. This includes one sudden & shocking Final Destination/Meet Joe Black moment that felt out of place in a Disney film.

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I’ll say that the one thing I did like about this was Britt Robertson. I know I watched this silly show that she was on for a while (The Secret Circle) and she was the one thing that really stood out. I’m not surprised that it seems she may be on her way to bigger roles now and, although she’s 25, she has a very young look which means she can play a teenager in something like this without it being embarrassing like Olivia Newton John in Grease. Her character helps save Tomorrowland from being a total disaster, at least.

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Summary:

Tomorrowland has a convoluted plot set in a cold & sterile environment where everyone (besides the main teenage girl) is unlikeable and the audience won’t be able to buy into them or care about their fate. Its story is far too complicated for young kids plus the level of violence was a bit surprising for a Disney “family film”. It’s hard to figure out who this movie is aimed at as the confusing story won’t make any kids like it (even I was confused by the end as to what exactly was going on) and there’s not enough here for adults to enjoy either. I can’t see this being a movie that most homes with kids will own and that will get played over & over again, which is unusual for a Disney film. I know it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever see it again (and I have no desire to) and I highly doubt my kid will ever ask to watch it over and over again like Frozen or most of the Pixar films. The movie’s message gets lost in the confusing plot but, basically, it’s saying that we should all be “dreamers” and full of hope. It’s unfortunate that Tomorrowland can’t achieve what it clearly wants to as it isn’t going to actually inspire anyone. I’ll say the final scene & image are pretty good & is the closest the movie comes to achieving its vision but it doesn’t come even close to making up for the previous two hours of the film. I’m very disappointed but it won’t make me give up on Brad Bird as I think he’s very talented and hopefully has another The Iron Giant in him. I blame Damon Lindelof.

My Rating: 5/10

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Gravity (2013) Review

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Gravity (2013)

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Starring:
Sandra Bullock
George Clooney
Ed Harris
Orto Ignatiussen
Paul Sharma
Amy Warren
Basher Savage

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Two astronauts fight for survival and a way to get back home after an accident leaves them adrift in space and without communications with Earth.

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My Opinion:

Gravity has been out for ages everywhere other than the UK, it seems, so there have already been plenty of reviews telling us all how great the film is. Now that all the hype has died down a bit, I’ll try to review this as best I can and decide if it’s worth all the praise it has received.

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First of all, I’ve said it plenty before but I better say it again: I know nothing about filmmaking. All I know is when something looks good or looks bad. Gravity is beautiful to look at. I saw it in IMAX 3D as the recommendation seemed to be to see it this way if at all possible. It was worth the extra cost – And this is from someone who does NOT like 3D. When there’s the option, I rarely choose to see a film in 3D. It looks blurry to me and I usually just find it too distracting. Gravity was the kind of 3D I like – I forgot I was even watching a 3D film most of the time. It was subtle & not “in your face” (I don’t want things jumping out of the screen at me). So the film looks great and I’d recommend seeing it in 3D if you can, although I’d be interested in seeing the 2D version now as well.

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To my hubby’s annoyance, I kept saying “this better be better than Avatar!”. I did fear that, because the film was meant to look lovely, that it would have no substance otherwise and wouldn’t be a very interesting story. I didn’t really enjoy Avatar as a film so I didn’t care that it “looked nice”. Luckily, this wasn’t the case with Gravity.

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I know nothing about space travel or science so can’t say if all of that was accurate but who cares? If you’re one of those types who can never suspend disbelief and just enjoy a movie, this MAY not be the film for you. I don’t know. It’s just a movie and it’s meant to entertain us. Clooney’s & especially Bullock’s backstories are… well, I don’t want to use the word “contrived” because that’s not really fair as it’s a very good film. What stories in films AREN’T? What matters is if you buy into the characters & their stories and I definitely did in Gravity. Both Clooney & Bullock give great performances and I very much felt for Bullock’s present (and past) situation. Her story worked and the backstory, to me, felt necessary to have a better understanding of her character. But as the film has so little dialogue, it was nice that we were only given as much information as we needed about the characters in order to know them. It’s impressive that Clooney & Bullock were able to make us care so much about their characters – top notch acting on their parts. This is what “makes” a film for me – not impressive CGI or 3D stuff (although it’s nice when these things work as well).

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As for the “action”, this film was much more exciting than I’d been expecting. We’d all heard about how there are so few people in it & not much dialogue so I wasn’t expecting a ton of action even though it’s obviously about an accident that occurs while these people are in space. Gravity is very exciting! Heart-pounding action at times and the great kind where you feel like you’re almost a part of it and are experiencing it with the characters instead of just watching them on a (very big in my case) screen. I suppose this may lose a little something for those who decide to watch this on their TV for the first time. I’d be interested to see this at home when it’s out on DVD & see if it has the same effect on me. I’ll still enjoy the story but I wonder if you’ll be able to “lose” yourself in the film in the same way. So, yeah – try to watch this one in the cinema (or theater if you’re American).

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Is this film for everyone? No. This is why I’m enjoying this blogging thing – I know you’re all true film lovers (it takes commitment to run a movie blog!). Will the 22-year-old I work with who loves Michael Bay movies & only ever watches illegal bootlegs because the cinema “costs too much” like Gravity? Extremely unlikely. I’m already trying to prepare myself for the day he comes in & says something along the lines of “I watched Gravity. I didn’t like it. I was bored”. It will happen. Gravity wasn’t made for him. It was made for “us” – all us lovely movie blogger types who are maybe a little misunderstood at times because we really REALLY like movies and perhaps talk about them a bit too much when in the presence of those who don’t quite understand our fascination. Gravity is the kind of movie we wait for. We wait for movies like this while we sit through endless sequels and remakes because it’s all that’s usually on offer and because we forever live in the hope that one of them may actually be good. We suffer through these mediocre films because we’re sometimes given a pleasant surprise when one of them ends up being okay. And we sit through them because we know that sometimes, just sometimes, we’re rewarded with something like Gravity.

My Rating: 9/10

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Where does it rank?:

Movies I’ve Seen In 2013

The Ides Of March

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I said it before and I’ll say it again – the only reason I watched this is because Ryan Gosling is in it. It’s about politics. I hate politics. This sort of drama also isn’t really the kind of movie genre I tend to go for. So bear that all in mind during my quick little review!

Ryan Gosling plays one of the campaign managers for George Clooney’s character – a governor and presidential candidate. I actually didn’t know beforehand about the other big names in this – Philip Seymour Hoffman as the senior campaign manager for Clooney, Paul Giamatti as a rival campaign manager, and Marisa Tomei in a pretty small role as a reporter. Oh, and Evan Rachel Wood as an intern for the Clooney campaign. Evan Rachel Wood not only got to be in this with my lovely Ryan but also starred in Across The Universe with another big crush of mine – Jim Sturgess. So I’m pretty sure I don’t like her. 😉

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Thanks to the hubby for pointing out that George Clooney directed this movie & wrote the screenplay (along with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon) in response to me saying that Clooney seemed a bit wasted in the movie. Okay – it makes sense then! It’s not a big role compared to Gosling’s – the story really follows his character. Clooney IS perfect for the role, though. Not hard to imagine him as a politician with his natural charm & charisma – if he ran for something in real life I might actually take the time to vote! The other big names did seem a little wasted, though – Hoffman had a bit more screen time than Giamatti & Tomei but it still wasn’t a lot compared to Gosling. And they did their jobs well, as they always do, but their roles didn’t really require much effort from them.

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Overall, I think this movie lacked the passion & dramatic tension we’ve had from other political dramas. (Not that I’ve watched many so maybe I’m not the best judge. Lol!). I remember getting very into the story in Good Night And Good Luck (that was political, right?!). And I’m sure All The President’s Men is a much better movie about political scandal (not seen it!). Okay – I really don’t know much about political dramas. Feel free to ignore this review. :-p

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Perhaps, as real life politics are so corrupt and there are plenty of scandals to choose from, I think a fictional movie about the dirty stuff that goes on behind the scenes doesn’t quite pack the same punch as the ones based on true stories? The movie started out okay but then the “scandal” came to light and everything that happened afterwards suddenly made it feel like a Hollywood movie. Which it is, so maybe that’s not a bad thing! Worth a watch if you like political dramas & quality actors.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Good but currently in last place in my Ryan Gosling Project 🙂

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