Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2022

Hey all! I saw some good movies in September because some decent ones actually popped up on my services. Yay! 🙂 But life still sucks.

Oh – Happy October! I wasn’t up to doing a Halloween Horror Month this year.

Here we go with what I watched last month…

MOVIES WATCHED IN SEPTEMBER (ranked best to worst):

The Red Shoes – The Red Shoes is yet another absolutely beautiful piece of work from Powell & Pressburger This is the third film of theirs that I’ve seen. I first saw A Matter Of Life And Death a few years ago & was blown away. That film should as well known as the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life but I’d not even heard of it while living in America. So I then watched Black Narcissus which was also stunning & have been desperate to see The Red Shoes ever since. I was delighted to see it pop up on BBC iPlayer (available 16 more days if you’re in the U.K., FYI. I highly recommend).

I’ve been back & forth on if this or Black Narcissus would rank second after A Matter Of Life And Death for me. I think Black Narcissus has the edge as, quite literally, the visuals of that bell on the edge of that gorgeous cliff will stay with me forever & I loved the overall look and mood of that whole film. The Red Shoes is a very close third, though. The only thing that lets it down slightly is that it’s all about the performance of the Red Shoes ballet in the middle of the film, which is easily one of the greatest dance numbers I’ve ever seen in a film. Maybe the very best. It’s breathtakingly perfect. So I think the rest of the film just doesn’t quite manage to live up to that big moment but the story is still good and there are other great visuals & dance moments to enjoy. And, man, I loved her red hair & how that looked with those red shoes. They truly don’t make them like this anymore… – 8.5/10

Santa Sangre – Where do I start with this?! It’s an Alejandro Jodorowsky film so I guess I got what I was expecting. It’s violent, utterly bizarre, and strangely fascinating. I want to watch every film he’s made (as well as those he didn’t – his Dune would have been insane).

Think I slightly prefer El Topo mainly because it’s even weirder (which is saying something). Santa Sangre has an almost coherent story in comparison – It’s really just an even more fucked-up Psycho. I do absolutely love a circus setting so enjoyed that a lot & really liked the mime/tightrope girl who befriends the main character (again played by a couple of Jodorowsky‘s sons). I liked that part of the story & as always liked watching something so strange & completely unpredictable.

I think this film has grown on me since I watched it. Maybe I actually prefer it to El Topo. It’s one of those films where I want to do a separate full review with lots of images as there are so many interesting ones but I’m too lazy so I’ll just stick two extra images below. I’ll certainly never forget either of the two films of Jodorowsky’s that I’ve seen so far, which is something I appreciate. Guess I need to finally see The Holy Mountain now too. – 8/10

Thor: Love And Thunder – I have serious superhero burnout but I like the content enough to continue to watch all the Marvel films & TV shows. Some are good, some are not-so-good, but I wouldn’t really care if they stopped making them all. With the movies, I prefer when they don’t take things so seriously. I find many of the dark & dreary superhero movies pathetic (but that’s not the MCU). So I loved Guardians Of The Galaxy & I enjoyed when Thor went “silly” with Ragnarok as, quite frankly, the character of Thor was pretty but bloody boring before Ragnarok. But this one looked like it was going to be a little too silly & reviews seemed very mixed so I had low expectations.

I enjoyed this. Ragnarok is still better & this does indeed get a little too silly at times but I liked the villain’s & Jane’s stories. Christian Bale was a fantastic villain (and I’m not a Bale fan). I also thought they handled Portman’s role in this very well without it feeling like forced “girl power” which just doesn’t work. I wanted much more of Thor with the Guardians Of The Galaxy as I think they’re hilarious together but at least we got a little bit. Liked the jealousy thing with Thor’s weapons, too. And the nudity. And all the Guns N’ Roses making me feel like I was back in high school (I’ve just dated myself).

This was fun & a better film than I expected. It’s not gonna win any Oscars. I can absolutely see why some would love it & some would hate it as the sillier side of the MCU isn’t for everyone. I think it helps to balance out some pretty damn depressing stuff going on too. Poor Thor has had a terrible time & watching him go through all this tragedy with absolutely no humour would turn this into the dark & dreary type of superhero movie I can’t stand. At the moment, I’d rank this just outside of my MCU top ten (all ranked here). But I may change my mind & it could move down slightly. – 7.5/10

Cyrano – Liked this much more than I was expecting. I don’t know the story of Cyrano de Bergerac all that well (mainly just the Steve Martin Roxanne version, sorry!) so it’s not a story I mind them messing with as it doesn’t mean much to me. Peter Dinklage is easily the best thing about this & I liked him a lot as Cyrano. Haley Bennett is also good as Roxanne & seemed to be a far better singer than her male co-stars (by the way, I recommend watching her in the great film Swallow). The songs in Cyrano weren’t very memorable but I find that’s the case with most modern musicals. Overall, Dinklage & Bennett and the unique tragic love story make this worth watching but I’m not sure I loved it as a musical. The film is far from perfect but it still has plenty going for it to give it a watch. – 7/10

No Retreat, No Surrender – Continuing my over-30-years-late JCVD obsession, I found this godawful delight from 1985. A bullied teenage boy is visited & trained by the ghost of his idol Bruce Lee. Seriously. I kind of loved this. Pure ‘80s cheese, which always makes me nostalgic. The only downside is that JCVD is barely in this. Plus he’s a baddie. I like ass-kicking mullet-head sexy-splits good-guy Van Damme. This one deserves two extra images too. Look at the beautiful pure-eighties-ness of that photo with the boombox! And we gotta see JCVD doing the sexy splits again… – 6.5/10

A Walk In The Clouds – A Keanu Reeves movie I never saw?! This was fine. Liked the story & the romance. Not always big on romance films but, man, I love the idea of engaging in some sexy grape-stomping with Keanu. Nice. (It didn’t turn into a full-on grape orgy like in Seconds, though. Sorry Film Miasma & Podferatu!). This movie got so ridiculously dramatic at the end that I had to knock off half a point, though. But I still love Keanu. – 6.5/10

Paddington 2 – Everyone went on about this being the best thing since sliced (marmalade) bread so I figured I better finally watch it even though I barely remember the first film. What are you all on about?! Ha! This movie is fine. It’s very sweet. Very family-friendly. Paddington is a great character & I like the voice work, the animated stuff with the pop-up book is fantastic, the Wes Anderson-y color palette in the prison is fun, and Hugh Grant is a very good villain. Maybe I was just expecting this movie to change my life after all the Film Twitter hype. Nope! Life is still the same. – 6.5/10

Fire Island – This was good, lightweight fun. Enjoyed the two main romances. We had a good “will they or won’t they”, “love/hate” connection between two of the characters which I really enjoyed & a more romantic story with two of the others. This group of friends were a lot of fun & I’d love hanging out & playing games with them. How could that guy not instantly know the answer was Marisa Tomei?! Loved that bit.

I see this movie was inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Suppose I should put down the Stephen King for a change & finally read that one someday, huh? – 6.5/10

Do Revenge – I know I’m an old Gen-X lady but, up until just the last couple years, I still enjoyed teen movies. I could still relate to them as we all went through our teens & know how difficult they can be. The Edge Of Seventeen is a good recent(ish) example – I liked that a lot. Am I now finally out of touch? Because I can’t relate to the narcissistic shitbags in this & in Not Okay in any way whatsoever.

I did like how this started out with Clueless vibes at the school. I later wondered if part of the issue was “rich kids” because we’re all meant to hate the rich. Right? Did no one see Pretty In Pink?! But then I realized they’re rich in Clueless too but that movie is great fun and the characters are very likeable. The problem isn’t dark humor, either, as I love dark humor. I just don’t think this movie manages that well (if that’s what it’s going for?). So the most obvious comparison in that case is Heathers. Then I realized everyone is a Heather in this movie. Everyone aspires to be a Heather & assumes the audience does too. And, damn, I guess that’s accurate judging by social media & influencers. When Heathers came out, we all wanted to be Veronica. Sorry, slight spoiler: By the end you realize there’s no Veronica in this movie. So who the hell am I meant to care about in this world full of Heathers?

Oh well. I didn’t “hate” this movie as much as it seems. It had a good idea. I liked the thought of teaming up with someone to go after each other’s bullies. Who doesn’t love a good revenge movie? And the twists & turns were kind of fun up until the end when the character you thought you liked turns out to be kind of a shitbag too. And when the main character who got screwed over at the beginning still doesn’t manage to make you care about her predicament by the end since she’s only slightly less of a shitbag than she was at the start. Actually, come to think of it, the boy she hooks up with was a decent character… Guess he’s the Veronica. Their paint scene was good. And having Sarah Michelle Gellar as the headmaster was a smart move to get us old turds to watch this. Hey – they’re all rich & hateful in Cruel Intentions too but I loved that movie. Because it had one nice character & one who does stop being a shitbag at the end.

I liked this a bit more than Be Okay, at least. I didn’t find either a waste of time – I just prefer to have fewer shitbags in a movie. – 6/10

Me Time – This isn’t great but it’s also not the worst “dumb comedy” I’ve ever seen. It’s ridiculous but at least the family are likeable while husband/father Hart does stupid shit with his manchild friend Wahlberg. Not gonna lie – I liked the guy desperate to not go back to Legoland. And the stuff with the tortoise. But I won’t remember a thing about this movie in a few years. – 6/10

Horror Express – I thought this film was awful. I watched it as it stars the almighty horror icons Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing and I badly need to see much more of their work. So I settled for this on iPlayer when what I really want is for the Hammer Horror stuff to be available to me. I did very much enjoy seeing Lee & Cushing but I can’t recommend watching this for any other reason. It doesn’t even manage to be a “so bad it’s good” movie. But maybe I’m wrong – it seems to have a decent rating from other Letterboxd users. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched In September:

The Prestige – Still think this film is brilliant after another rewatch for the first time in years. I’m very much not a Christopher Nolan fan but The Prestige is his one film I do love & it’s an all-time favorite. Absolutely love the story (I don’t know how much credit Nolan can take on that as I’ve not read the book it’s based on). Jackman & Bale have such a fantastic rivalry & the film’s setting in the world of magic is great. And, of course, David Bowie is cool as hell as Tesla. Still love this film. Still hate Interstellar. – 9/10

Rogue One – When I first saw this one in the cinema, I didn’t instantly love it. But I thought I better rewatch it before Andor & I have to say this film has now gone up in my estimation quite a lot. I think that’s partly due to being so disappointed with the final two films in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, which I find I’m growing to dislike more & more as time goes by. Almost to the point where I now wish the sequel trilogy didn’t exist…

So I think I now really appreciate Rogue One as a separate story that does no damage to the original trilogy that I’ve loved since I was a kid. And, so far, I’m really liking the Andor series (more than The Book Of Boba Fett & maybe even the Obi-Wan Kenobi series). I think I’ve just had enough of them messing with beloved characters that should maybe just be left alone. I certainly loved The Mandalorian far more than the sequel trilogy, too. 

But what I’d really like is a Chirrut spin-off. Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe & Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus were great & are still my favorite characters from Rogue One. Loved K-2SO too, of course. Star Wars droids are always the best. – 8/10

Shorts, Etc:

The Simpsons: Welcome To The Club – Oh wow – I don’t even remember this now. Must have been good, huh?! These Disney Plus Simpsons shorts, especially the ones that are just Disney adverts, haven’t been great…

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN SEPTEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai: Season 5 – Still adore Cobra Kai! Yes, it’s really getting “same old same old” now. But I don’t care. It’s so much fun. And I still love Johnny. I really should’ve rewatched Karate Kid III before this series, though, as I don’t remember it so all of those characters didn’t mean anything to me.

Andor: S1 E1-4 – As above, I rewatched Rogue One because this was starting & liked it way more on a rewatch. I think this show is really good so far. Definitely better than The Book Of Boba Fett. We’ll see by the end if I also prefer it to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E3-7 – Okay. You know what? I enjoy watching this show each week. Yes, She-Hulk twerking was absolute cringe. Yes, the show is silly. It’s a sitcom, people! They’ve gone no more silly with this than with the last two Thor films. I can see why some hate this show as you’re either going to love silly Marvel or you aren’t. But the outrage online is scary. Good Lord. As an OLD woman, I can’t always relate to the very millennial & “woke” take this show often has. But as a woman I can still relate to a lot of it. I liked the wedding episode. I liked episode 7 which reminded me a lot of that great Toy Story short Small Fry where they’re all having that group therapy session. I like She-Hulk especially when she’s Jennifer Walters. She has a fun attitude but plenty of insecurities a lot of women will relate to. Is this show hated because it’s so aimed at women? I assume so. God knows. Don’t get me wrong – it’s FAR from perfect & would get an average sort of rating from me if I rated TV shows like I do movies. I don’t know – maybe 6/10? The effects look bloody awful most of the time but, ha, whatever – I grew up with the ’70s The Incredible Hulk TV show so I think I can handle that. Honestly, though, I’d be happier with some different, big-muscled woman just playing the She-Hulk version of Jennifer Walters instead of weird-looking CGI stuff. But, be honest, Hulk looks pretty shit in the MCU films too so whatever. I’m mostly annoyed that her clothes aren’t nearly baggy enough on her when she goes back to being tiny Jennifer. This show is a fun little throwaway comedy that I find entertaining for half an hour each week. Nothing to get mad about.

BOOKS READ

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This book isn’t very “me” but I have to put down the Stephen King books & the lightweight thrillers & the YA stuff and read something different occasionally. It’s a good story that would make for a really good movie so I’d like to see that happen. Man, Evelyn Hugo is a pretty hateful character, though. I normally hate that but she’s an intriguing character & I of course really went for the fact that she’s a huge movie star telling a writer her life story & it’s all about her glanorous life in the world of Hollywood filmmaking. I’ll always like movie-related stories so I liked that. Why don’t they just make a movie like the story in this book based on a fictional movie star instead of using Marilyn Monroe & making up a bunch of untrue crap about her? – 3/5

Here’s the ballet in The Red Shoes but I’d really recommend watching the whole movie instead:

Swallow (2019) Review

Swallow (2019)

Directed & Written by Carlo Mirabella-Davis

Starring: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rasche, Denis O’Hare

Plot Synopsis (via IMDb):
Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.

My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see this for ages as it looked like the weird kind of shit I like. Sounded like the kind of story David Cronenberg would do (but don’t get the wrong idea – this is nothing like a Cronenberg film!). I liked this one a lot (I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched so far this year, actually).

Swallow certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though – I just like an unusual story. What also made me very happy is that this film is beautiful. She lives in this absolutely gorgeous house with an amazing view and wears ridiculously lovely dresses while vacuuming her gorgeous home in high heels like a good old-fashioned housewife, and the cinematography (I guess?) showcases all of this beautifully. I know nothing whatsoever about filmmaking & what makes this movie pretty. Cinematography? Art direction? I don’t know. I just know that I liked the look of it & I’m very into a film’s visuals (it’s why I like Argento & Leone movies). Promising Young Woman also had a good “look” that I liked. Swallow is a lovely looking film, so I’ve added quite a few images from it to give you an idea.

Besides looking so good, I was very surprised to find that this was a great character study. I thought Haley Bennett, as Hunter, was perfect. I think some people may have had the wrong idea before seeing this film, which is probably why its IMDb rating is unfairly low. Even I had wondered if it would somewhat be a “horror” (as I said, I had Cronenberg vibes from the synopsis). It’s also rated 18 (R in the US) but that must only be because the subject matter is so disturbing. Understandable, as it’s a scary but also very real disorder (called pica) and is a movie that shouldn’t be seen by anyone young as they’d not understand it.

Whether the movie does a good job exploring this real disorder I can’t say. I know nothing about it but am sure it has been studied by plenty of experts. But, as a film with a fictional character, I thought it did a great job showing someone with a mental illness & how those in her life didn’t support her. You could feel how alone Hunter felt despite having this seemingly perfect life. Without support & love from those in her life, her condition spirals out of control. I wanted to smack her damn husband & say “Be there for your wife, you superficial asshole!“.

Well, this was meant to be in my “monthly roundup” post next week. As it’s ended up a fairly long write-up, I’m posting it as a separate review. I don’t do that much lately due to not having the time but do wish I could do more posts dedicated to just one film when I really like one. I thought this was a very good film with odd & disturbing subject matter & a strong performance from Bennett. It’s one I’d be scared to actually recommend to anyone, though. Definitely not one for everyone & you’d have to be sure you’d be okay watching the character doing this dangerous thing to herself. It could be a very upsetting movie for some people due to a few uncomfortable subjects in it. As a film lover, I’m happy to see such a well made film. The director hasn’t made many films yet & I’d be interested in seeing more of his work now.

My Rating: 8/10

*Just like with Promising Young Woman, I’m teetering on the edge of giving this 8/10! I think I’m not as generous with my ratings now as I’ve rated stuff too highly in the past. I may still make this an 8…

**Okay, I’ve made this an 8.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016) & The Girl On The Train (2016) Reviews

Two quick reviews of two film adaptations of two books I read. My reviews of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs can be found HERE & The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins HERE. Okay, one is a thriller but the other is close enough to being a “horror” so I’m doing these for October Horror Month. Let’s see what I thought of the movies…

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016)

Directed by Tim Burton

Screenplay by Jane Goldman

Based on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

My Opinion:

When I was in the middle of reading this book years ago, I said to the hubby “Tim Burton needs to make this into a movie”. Imagine my surprise when Hollywood did something right for a change! He was the absolute perfect choice to adapt this book & he did a very good job with it. The problem is that 1) I didn’t exactly love the book, although I loved the “gimmick” of the old photographs that were used throughout it and 2) Tim Burton hasn’t made anything truly fantastic in years, which still breaks my heart as I absolutely adored his oldest films. I’d say this was somewhat a return to form for Burton but, as I said, I didn’t love the source material so was unlikely to love the movie.

From what I remember of the book, it seems a faithful adaptation until the end. But I didn’t care enough to continue reading the books so it’s possible the movie continues a bit into the next book for all I know? I wouldn’t say it renewed my interest enough to read the remaining books but I’d certainly watch a sequel if Burton makes one. The performances were pretty strong and, like Burton being the perfect choice for director, I think Eva Green was a perfect choice for playing Miss Peregrine. The child actors also all did a good job (I think Burton always does well in casting his films), with the lead young roles (played by Asa Butterfield & Ella Purnell) as the standouts. Terence Stamp & especially Judi Dench weren’t given much to do, which was a shame. And I enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson as always (who doesn’t love Sam Jackson?!) but he’s phoning it in a bit with this baddie role. Sorry, Mr. Jackson! I apologize a trillion times!


Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a good adaptation of a bizarre book thanks to its also bizarre director. And I liked the look & vibe of it, as I always do with Burton’s style. I wish I liked both the book and the film more than I do, though. I like “weird” so can’t really put my finger on why the story didn’t quite work for me. With the book, I think I just couldn’t connect with the characters. To be fair, I think Burton improved on this with the film and I’d say this is one of those cases where the movie might be slightly better than the book. It also helped that it got a proper ending, as opposed to the open-ended cliffhanger that just left me frustrated with the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Girl On The Train (2016)

Directed by Tate Taylor

Based on The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, Lisa Kudrow

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

My Opinion:

I thought this book, although fun in a pulp-y sort of way, was pretty horrible. This was mainly because the characters were all truly hateful. The story itself was okay and I found it a very quick read as I wanted to get to the resolution of its mystery but, wow, I didn’t give the slightest crap what would happen to any of the characters. Not even ONE likable person? Really?? I’ll never understand stories that choose to make us despise everyone in them. And the thing with the baby upset me too much (and kind of pissed me off).

Well, the movie is a faithful adaptation, so… What can I say? I didn’t like the book so I wasn’t going to like a faithful adaptation anyway. The fact that is stars Emily Blunt, who is kind of a girl crush of mine, is what made me even bother to stick this on one evening & half pay attention to it. Meh. I don’t know. I just didn’t care. The actors did what they could with the material but the material was weak. Hold on a second – in this double review, Danny Elfman did the music for this movie but not the Tim Burton movie?! Now that’s bizarre.

My Rating: 5/10