Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2023

Hi All! Happy March! I guess I better switch my WordPress app over to this new app it keeps bugging me about. So I’ve quickly finished this post in the old app since, knowing I’m an old fart & useless with technology, I’ll probably fuck something up & never figure out how to post something on this blog ever again once I make the switch. 🙂

Here’s what I watched & read in February. Have even managed to go to the cinema a few times! (Saw Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania a few days ago, too).

MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):

The Swimmer – Liked this a lot! Quite a weird one. Thanks to my buddy Film Miasma for reviewing this (here) as I’d not even heard of it before. Won’t say much about it in this post as I already did a separate full review of it here. – 8/10

Knock At The Cabin – I’m a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I know he has his critics but I will always choose watching a story I don’t already know & which might surprise me instead of all the utterly bland & predictable sequels, prequels, reboots, superheroes, etc etc. Yeah, he’s had some duds but at least he gives us original ideas.

I know this is based on someone else’s book but he’s again, as with Old, chosen to adapt something that fits in so well with the kinds of stories he obviously loves to make. Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. It’s certainly not up there with the very best like The Sixth Sense (which I still think is brilliant) but it was much better than a lot of his work & Dave Bautista gave a really good performance. The girl was very cute, the family were likeable & the story was intriguing. I’ve currently ranked it 5th in my Shyamalan ranking, which I think is where it’ll stay. 

As I said, the story intrigued me so I thought about reading the book first (still have it on reserve at the library – long wait!). What I found most disappointing was that very little was explained. I’m wondering if the story is much more fleshed out in the book, as is often the case? So I’d still like to read it to see if there’s more to it. It also feels the least “Shyamalan” of his movies, maybe partly due to it not ending how you’d expect. Think the ending is a bit of a letdown after a good buildup. But, I still think the film itself is of a better quality than those I’ve ranked below it on my list. I did appreciate it and got a lot of enjoyment out of going to the cinema, which has become a very rare possibility for me. So maybe being back in the cinema is making me rate this one a bit more highly… – 7/10

All Quiet On The Western Front – I admit that I had to force myself to watch this one after it was nominated for Best Picture as I try to watch as many Oscar nominees as I can each year. I always have to force myself to watch war movies, even though I love some of them (The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, Full Metal Jacket, etc). Don’t think I’ve ever disliked a war film but it will still never be a favorite genre for me. Life sucks enough! I want escapism. 

Yes, this is a good film. Lovely cinematography & a very interesting score. I did see the 1930 film in high school after reading the book but I remember nothing whatsoever about either & if this is at all similar. I liked the characters & the friendships but didn’t want to like anyone since, like Game Of Thrones, I knew I better not get too attached to anyone. This film is, as to be expected, very grim. As war movies should be. Don’t think it’s one of the very best I’ve ever seen but is still a worthy addition to this genre. Was worth the watch. And it inspired me to rank every war movie I’ve ever seen (here). Seen more than I’d realised! (56) – 7.5/10

Empire Of Light – Enjoyed this despite some negative reviews. Admittedly, I wanted to see this as I’ve been to where it was filmed (have photos of me at that roller disco) and I also always love movies set in a cinema or in some way having to do with a love of cinema. Oh, and I do love an ‘80s setting! Can understand why some were disappointed with the script/story as it was indeed a bit messy & I’d have liked far more character development for everyone. But Olivia Colman & Micheal Ward were very good and had an interesting relationship plus the film looked lovely as expected with Roger Deakins doing the cinematography (and it’s up for that Oscar). Can absolutely understand why the general public didn’t go for this one but think many film lovers should appreciate it. – 7/10

I went roller skating here!

Top Hat – Ashamed to say this is my first Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movie. Figured it was time to finally watch the dancing duo in action after watching my first ever Fred Astaire movie (Easter Parade) last year. 

Didn’t realise this was going to be a screwball comedy, which isn’t usually a favorite subgenre of mine, instead of just a straightforward musical. Not sure the comedic elements or the romance worked that well in this but the dance numbers were of course a joy to watch. I don’t know why I have to force myself to watch classic musicals such as this as I always end up enjoying them. And, as often happens with them, I thought I knew absolutely nothing from Top Hat so was surprised that I indeed knew two of the songs in it. Funny how the songs in these films really do stand the test of time. As for the story in this, though, I don’t think it has aged quite as well as some have. Have to say I definitely preferred Easter Parade but it could help that I think Judy Garland was just fantastic in everything I’ve seen her in.

As an overall movie, I found Top Hat quite average but was worth a one-time watch for the dance numbers & songs. – 6.5/10

Strange World – Well this wasn’t so bad? I quite liked the story, which felt far more original than a lot of family films. I think the issue, for me, is that it’s one that again is just not up to Disney standards. It felt more like I’d just watched a good DreamWorks movie. So I feel like I’d give this an extra star if it was DreamWorks based on my lower standards for them, which seems unfair, but I expect a bit more when it’s got the Disney or Pixar name on it. 

Before I sound too negative, I did enjoy this and don’t understand the really bad reviews. As I said, I thought the story was unique and the “strange” world was wonderfully bizarre and lovely. Was a bit Dr. Seuss-ian (which is fine by me). The characters were likeable enough, though underdeveloped, and the creature Splat was fun. Again, it’s not up to Disney’s very best but it was much better than I was expecting based on the negativity. I liked it more than Pixar recents like LucaOnward & Turning Red. – 6.5/10

True Spirit – A 2023 release on Netflix that no one I follow on Letterboxd has watched yet?! Yes, it’s a very predictable, inspiring, feelgood true story but these types of movies never hurt anyone. Knew nothing of the real girl, Jessica Watson, who sailed solo around the world at the age of 16. That’s amazing. Thought the girl who played her, Teagan Croft, was good and felt super old seeing Anna Paquin playing her mother. Enjoyable weekend afternoon viewing. – 6/10

Somebody I Used To Know – After becoming obsessed with Community last year, I was very excited to see a new release starring “Annie” and, my favorite, “Abed”. Well, this is maybe a fraction better than the recent Your Place Or Mine (reviewed below). But certainly not by much & Brie’s character is far more annoying than Witherspoon’s & borderline hateful. So she hasn’t talked to her lovely ex in ten years & now suddenly wants to ruin his wedding which is in just a few days? The most unbelievable thing was his fiancée putting up with that bullshit. A disappointment overall, mainly as I disliked the main character and what the hell is the point of that? Meh. Maybe I’ll rank the Witherspoon movie just above this one after all. Oh – I quite liked her hometown in this, though. Reminded me of some small towns where I grew up. – 5.5/10

I just want that Community movie they said would happen…

Your Place Or Mine – This wasn’t great. The best thing about it was The Cars soundtrack. That band deserves more love. 

Reese & Ashton had zero chemistry & I barely believed them as friends let alone lovers. The story was predictable, as expected, but who cares with a straight-to-Netflix romcom. It was a pleasant enough film to pass the time & completely forget about in a year. Did like Steve Zahn as the weirdo neighbour. Always fun to see him pop up in films.

Found the recent romcoms Shotgun Wedding & The Lost City much more enjoyable than this one. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched:

Heathers – Hubby & I felt like rewatching this absolute classic we’ve seen many times. Love it. They don’t (and won’t) ever make good dark teen comedies like this anymore. Feel sorry for today’s teens & their rubbish entertainment. 9/10

Documentaries Watched:

Managed to watch all but one of the Best Documentary Oscar nominees…

A House Made Of Splinters – Heartbreaking. The one I found most moving of the Best Documentary Oscar nominees this year. Have so much respect for those who try to help children caught up in terrible situations. You can currently see this on BBC iPlayer. 

Fire Of Love – What an amazing couple & bittersweet love story. Although I can’t say I’m that fascinated by volcanoes, I always love to see someone show such passion for something. It’s infectious. And, wow – they captured brilliant volcano footage. And now I want to watch Joe Versus The Volcano again. Ha! (Seriously, though – that film is underrated).

Although I found A House Made of Splinters the most moving, I think this is the best documentary I’ve seen this year & that it has a chance of winning the Oscar. I’d be happy to see it win. My only complaint is the narration. It’s certainly a unique voice – I just mainly found it distracting as I thought at first that the woman who voiced Sadness in Inside Out was narrating (she’s not). 

Navalny – Fascinating story & person! Well worth a watch before the Oscars ceremony. Recommended. Also on BBC iPlayer.

All That Breathes – The last of the Best Documentary nominees I managed to see on services (thank you, BBC iPlayer). Beautifully shot & lovely melancholy score. I like that the nominees I’ve seen this year are mostly about people who are devoted to something they’re passionate about. Was heartbreaking to see what is happening to “all that breathes” this polluted air. Worth mentioning a great short documentary nominee also about lovely people devoted to rescuing animals: The Elephant Whisperers. Liked that a lot.

Shorts Watched:

Again, two more Oscar nominees I managed to find to watch. Really want to see the rest of the animated shorts! Anyone know where I can see them??

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse – This had lovely animation & I appreciate its uplifting sayings, etc. But was a bit over-the-top on that. Overly saccharine. Also felt too long.

The Flying Sailor – I like that this is supposedly based on a (maybe) true story? Nuts. (Ha. Literally!). Whereas the previous one felt way too long for a short, this felt too short. Could’ve been better considering its fascinating story.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN FEBRUARY

BOOKS READ

Fairy Tale by Stephen King – First of all, that above cover is SO much better than the U.K. cover I have! Most of the recent covers on King’s books in the U.K. are rubbish.

Well, I liked this book a lot. I know I’m a huge King fan so I’m likely to love most his books but I do really dislike a few (kind of hated Under The Dome & not crazy about The Outsider). As I like horror, I’ve avoided King’s fantasy stuff. Did try The Gunslinger (twice!) and cannot get into that so have read no more of The Dark Tower. But I finally read The Eyes Of The Dragon last year & loved that Game-Of-Thrones-Light book! So I went into this new fantasy with an open mind after that one. Yes, if you liked The Eyes Of The Dragon, you’ll probably like Fairy Tale but I am sure some of his pure horror lovers won’t like this one at all.

Really liked the boy in this and of course loved the dog sidekick. Who doesn’t like a loveable dog?? It was like reading a Dean Koontz book (he loves adding a dog sidekick). It’s kind of two books in one, with the first half in the “real world” being so very different from the fantasy world but I like getting two for the price of one & really enjoyed both parts. King has once again given us a very descriptive, imaginative & bizarre fantasy world, which I’m a big fan of in so many of his books such as Lisey’s Story, etc. Adored the shoemaker woman and the others like her that he encounters in the other world. The story did lose its way a bit about three quarters of the way through and it was quite different for a while (just after the sundial – so, actually, it was more like three stories in one). But I still enjoyed that section and overall liked this one a lot. Would still rank The Eyes Of The Dragon a bit higher but would love to read more of this type of fantasy story from King. – 4/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Last Of Us: S1 E4-7 – Enjoying this but not obsessed with it like some existing fans seem to be as the game means nothing to me. I can’t say it feels like anything all that new as we’ve seen this type of story so many times now. But I love apocalyptic & zombielike stories so I’m still happy. Sad to see episode 7 was the lowest rated episode but I really liked it. Two girls hanging out & having fun in a post-apocalyptic mall? Dawn Of The Dead AND Night Of The Comet vibes?! I’m here for that! Love those films.

Tried the first episode of Extraordinary. Liked the highly inappropriate & filthy humor. Hubby wasn’t feeling the show at all so I may continue on my own but have too much else to watch at the moment. We also tried the first episode of The Goldbergs but neither of us were feeling that one. And for nostalgia, I rewatched the first two episodes of Silver Spoons on YouTube. Man I love pure ’80s cheese!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Well, the Oscars are coming up so maybe I’ll do a post on Friday with the reviews of the nominees I’ve seen (more than I realised but not enough of the “big nominees”). If I can be arsed. 🙂 I’m expecting Everything Everywhere All At Once to be the big winner, which I didn’t love. Can’t say I truly loved any of the nominees I’ve seen. As usual.

I’ll end with a song from The Cars as they had so many of their songs in that underwhelming Reese Witherspoon movie. I’ll go with Let’s Go as it’s the first one I remember hearing in the movie.

Spontaneous (2020) Review

Spontaneous (2020)

Directed by Brian Duffield

Based on Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

Starring: Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer, Hayley Law, Piper Perabo, Rob Huebel, Yvonne Orji

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb):
Get ready for the outrageous coming-of-age love story about growing up…and blowing up. When students in their school begin exploding (literally), seniors Mara and Dylan struggle to survive in a world where each moment may be their last.

My Opinion:

I really wasn’t expecting to like this movie so much. First of all, I assume this is a YA book? Though I’m not sure as I’ve not read it & know nothing whatsoever about it. I hate to use that Young Adult label as it gets a negative response these days and I thought this was a really good film. This movie gave me a Heathers vibe (come to think of it, I suppose Heathers would be what’s considered YA these days too). And Heathers rules but I really thought that sort of dark humor wouldn’t be allowed anymore. As a big fan of dark humor & a full-on “I trust no one” & “Just leave me the f*^k alone” Gen-Xer, this movie spoke to my teenage self & I’m curious what current teens think of it. If they can find a way to watch it… (It’s rated R in America & 15 in the U.K.). It’s very dark so is certainly only for the late teens into twenties sort of age. It’s extremely bloody, too (though not what I’d call “gory”). Hard to avoid it being bloody since it’s about a class of high school seniors who suddenly start randomly blowing up.

The main girl is Mara, played by Katherine Langford. She’s fantastic & cool as shit. Yeah, she’s kind of the Winona Ryder Veronica in Heathers. I think that if you go for her character, you’ll like this movie. She’s very funny with a very morbid sense of humor. But she’s also not necessarily a very nice or likeable person. I could really relate to her character as she very much has the attitude that I had in my late teens. She manages to be cool and say the perfect bitchy things that I think lot of us wish we could’ve said in high school if we weren’t all so scared of what people would think of us. So she’s kind of that ideal “cool teen” most of us were too scared to be.

After the first exploding teen, a boy named Dylan (played by Charlie Plummer) gets up the nerve to let Mara know that he has a crush on her. He’s most definitely not Christian Slater’s J.D. from Heathers: Dylan is sweet & nerdy and instantly lovable. He also has a quirky sense of humor that goes really well with Mara’s and they end up being one of those movie couples who just work perfectly together. Oh, and he’s a movie nerd & the two of them quote cool movies so obviously that made me like them & root for them even more. These two are really great in this. I know Langford has been in a few things I’ve seen but I’d not really noticed her before & Plummer was in a movie I hated and I didn’t notice him at all. In this, however, they’re fantastic. I’d be a fan of them both right now if I was a teen. Also liked Mara’s best friend, played by Hayley Law. They had a cool friendship (the sort I always wanted in school but girls never liked me).

Besides all the exploding teens & great dark humor, this movie does have a serious sort of undercurrent running through it. I very much disagree with the fairly low rating on IMDb. I’ve only had a brief glance at what people are saying but can’t exactly figure out what the haters don’t like about this movie. Maybe they wanted a straightforward horror comedy? That’s not quite what this is (although it is funny and also horrific). The simple thing would be to say that this movie is a coming of age film and an allegory for their fear and uncertainty at finishing high school and becoming adults. I think it’s way more than that, though. I feel very sorry for teens these days as they’re living in extremely difficult times. I can’t imagine the constant fear of possibly being shot every damn time they go to school (talking about American teens in this case, which is where the movie is based). What kind of life is that? And now they’ve had to deal with Covid too. And I won’t even go into all the other shit as I try to avoid anything political but, man, the the last four years have been a total clusterfuck. Add the social media nightmare into the mix, something Gen X didn’t have to worry about at all, and I honestly don’t know how current teenagers are able to get out of bed each day. I can barely handle any of this shit as an adult (but I’ve never been good at being one of those).

So, yeah – I imagine that being a modern teen must feel like living with the fear that you could spontaneously combust at any moment. I think the movie is telling us that without actually telling us that. Besides having one very obvious message to live each day to the fullest as you never know what might happen, it doesn’t have any other specific messages it’s trying to force on us. The movie is thankfully not at all preachy (which I hate). It doesn’t offer any obvious answers or explanations but I like it being ambiguous as I think the film could mean different things to different people. I think anyone struggling with the many issues related to being a teen nowadays would be able to identify with these characters and their feelings.

Well, I honestly kind of loved this movie. It’s darkly funny and deeply sad and I love that different people will get different meanings from it. The “live life to the fullest” message is maybe a tiny bit simplistic for such dark film but, hell, it’s the exact same message Ferris Bueller gave those of us in Generation X. It may be over 30 years since the John Hughes days but it was hard being a teenager then and it’s sure as shit hard now. I truly am sorry that society has failed to protect these kids & teenagers.

My Rating: 8/10

**Just a note to say that I watched waaaay too many movies in April so I’m going to be very late posting my April roundup as it’ll take forever to write. But a few of the April roundup reviews, like this one, ended up being so long that I decided to post them separately. It also helps that I really enjoyed each of these. I also fully reviewed Promising Young Woman, Swallow & Bloodsport (yes, the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie). Oh, and Sound Of Metal & My Octopus Teacher for the Oscars.

My Top Ten Christian Slater Movies

Happy Birthday to Christian Slater, who turns 47 today!

I’ve loved Slater ever since the top three movies on my list (but especially number one). It’s unfortunate that he’s been in some huge stinkers since (like Alone In The Dark) but he was in some absolutely fantastic movies in the late 80s/early 90s. Oh well… I still love you, Christian Slater! I still wish I was Samantha Mathis in my number one movie on this list. And I’d never break your sweet, baboon heart.

So here are My Top Ten Christian Slater Movies, counting down to my favorite:

**Updated February 2018 to add Gleaming The Cube & the Nymphomaniac movies**

17. Alone In The Dark
16. Very Bad Things
15. Hard Rain
14. Dolan’s Cadillac
13. Nymphomaniac: Vol. I & Vol. II
12. Kuffs
11. Broken Arrow

Top Ten:

10. FernGully: The Last Rainforest

9. Bed Of Roses

8. Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves

7. Gleaming The Cube

6. Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

5. True Romance

4. The Legend Of Billie Jean

3. Untamed Heart

2. Heathers

1. Pump Up The Volume

Not Seen But Want To:
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The Dream Of The Heathers TV Show Is Dead Again

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Um, yeah. Probably a good thing. Because I don’t want them messing up one of my very favorite movies! They’re still saying someone might pick the show up, though.

The following is an excerpt from this link: BuzzFeed

The project was announced last September. It had originally been developed in 2009 by Sony Pictures Television for Fox, with Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City, Men in Trees, The Big C) as its executive producer. Veronica, played in the earth-shattering 1989 movie by Winona Ryder, would move back to Sherwood with a teenage daughter who would have to face the Ashleys, daughters of the Heathers who had survived the movie. Screenwriter Mark Rizzo wrote the Bravo version of the pilot.