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:

The Lost Daughter, Don’t Look Up & Pig Reviews

Another quick trio of reviews of 2021 releases before I do my December roundup post. Liked these a lot more than the three I reviewed earlier today. Two of these are also probably going to make my 2021 Top Ten list I’ll try to post later this week. I keep moving stuff around on that list a lot… We’ll see!

Don’t Look Up (2021)

Directed by Adam McKay

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization.

My Opinion:

Watched this yesterday (but I’m logging it as a 2021 watch!). Really glad I finished out the year with this one as I’ve found the 2021 releases on services to be very disappointing but I enjoyed this one a lot. Between this and The Lost Daughter, which I watched on the 31st, I’m happy to have two more movies probably making it into my 2021 Top Ten list.

Wasn’t sure what I’d think of this as I’ve not been big on any of Adam McKay’s other films but, for me, this is easily his best. I thought it would be extremely political & too far-left in that typical Hollywood way as, according to Wikipedia, “The comet is an analogy for climate change and the film is a satire of government and media indifference to the climate crisis.” There’s nothing I hate more than an overly preachy movie! But it didn’t feel preachy to me & I got some good laughs out of the comedy in this. I thought the satire was pretty clever and, although they say it’s about how how shit the governments & media are, I thought it also perfectly displayed what a bunch of fucking morons the entire human race has become. I always enjoy “humans suck” satire (also a fan of Idiocracy, although I wish that film was better). It was scary how accurate this film was on how the general population would react if told we’re all going to die when a comet hits Earth. There would be as many comet-deniers as there are Covid-deniers. I would have thought this film was exaggerating things just five years ago or so (but I also wrongly thought Idiocracy was exaggerated at the time). People being more bothered about a celebrity breakup than our impending doom is SO FUCKING ACCURATE.

I also really enjoyed all the performances in this. Movies with huge star ensembles like this don’t always work for me as I sometimes find so many big names to be distracting & can take away from the story but I thought everyone was perfectly cast in this. Leonardo DiCaprio was good, of course, but I liked that it felt like quite a different role for him. And I loved that his wife was, like, the same age as him! Also really liked Jennifer Lawrence’s character and loved how she became just another meme for media-obsessed society. Also loved her obsession with the free snacks… Meryl Streep was pretty damn hilarious as a hateful self-absorbed president & I thought Jonah Hill was funny (although I can see that one role being the most divisive). And Mark Rylance was fantastic as a typical billionaire genius/idiot. I can’t call if this movie will have any acting Oscar nominations or if it’ll be completely ignored as comedy often is by the Academy. Or if they’ll only nominate Streep as usual. I think it deserves recognition, though, and I enjoyed it far more than his Oscar-nominated The Big Short.

I’ve avoided reviews & discussion of this movie but get the impression that people are pretty divided? Not sure why as I thought it was easily one of the better films I’ve managed to see this year. Maybe the truth hurts?

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Lost Daughter (2021)

Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal

Based on The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

Starring: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Domińczyk, Jack Farthing, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.

My Opinion:

I also liked this film a lot. I’d maybe say it’s actually better than Don’t Look Up but is obviously a much more serious film & I had more “fun” watching Don’t Look Up.

The acting is great in this, especially from Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley. I’m not an Olivia Colman fan (I’m actually enjoying The Crown far less since it changed to her from Claire Foy) but have to admit she’s very good in this. And that horrible family who came to the beach gave me the absolute creeps! Absolutely cannot stand pushy, entitled people like that and there are far too many of them in this world. Why the fuck should Olivia Colman move from her spot on the beach, huh?!? Anyway – I guess the family were very good as they were menacing as hell just in the way they would look at Colman’s character. But I never really understood their problem with her. Was it only because she wouldn’t move on the beach or did I miss something else while trying to sneakily watch this in between doing stuff with the family on one of my last days off of work?? Dakota Johnson was also good as part of that horrible family (by marriage, I think – was never quite sure how they were all related) & the one who Colman connects with as her young daughter brings up painful memories from Colman’s past. Johnson is maybe growing on me – I couldn’t understand what people saw in her at first.

I think this movie does a fantastic job of portraying the fact that, for some women, there’s much more to them than “just being a mother” and that being a mother (and wife) can be very difficult. I think movies often portray motherhood as being beautiful & perfect. I’m not saying I could personally connect with Colman’s & Buckley’s character’s experience but I think it will probably speak to a lot of women. And I thought the building tension in this was done really well. I kept feeling more & more uneasy throughout this film as I didn’t know a thing about the story & didn’t know what would happen.


Hated this bitch so much!

I think Gyllenhaal has done a great job with this movie. I can’t say whether it’s a good adaptation as I’ve not read the book but I’d now be interested in possibly reading it to know even more about the characters’ motivations. Maybe I’ll read it. I don’t often read a book after seeing the movie but I’d like to know a bit more after seeing this one. It’s a very good film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Pig (2021)

Directed by Michael Sarnoski

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a truffle forager whose beloved truffle-finding pig is stolen.

My Opinion:

Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Can’t afford this hobby anymore so I think the only movies I spent on in 2021 outside of streaming services were this & Willy’s Wonderland. You’d think I was a Nicolas Cage fan or something! I’m actually really not, although he’s grown on me in recent years thanks to his interesting film choices. Those choices are often bad & I’ve not watched those that had terrible reviews but things like Mandy & Color Out Of Space are right up my alley & this one sounded like it could be too.

It’s an interesting film & I do agree that Cage was good in it. As much as I enjoy Crazy Cage, I liked seeing him so restrained in this one. I think he and the movie portray loneliness & grief well. Was honestly expecting some John Wick type of revenge rampage so was surprised at there being very little violence in this. Although a John Wick rampage would’ve been fun too but we’ve had enough of that sort of thing from Cage so this was a nice change.

Pig is a movie I’m glad I managed to see before the end of the year but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me as I can’t see myself watching it again. But I can understand why many seemed to like it as they could probably identify with Cage’s character. I can also see why plenty of other people wouldn’t go for this movie at all & would probably call it boring as it’s very slow & far less happens than I was expecting. It’s certainly a “Film Twitter person” type of movie that I wouldn’t go around recommending to people I work with or something. You’ll love it or possibly hate it. Or just be a bit “That was okay” like me. The pig was very cute!

My Rating: 7/10

Misbehaviour (2020) Review

Here’s another mini-review before I post my full June movie roundup sometime next week…

Misbehaviour (2020)

Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe

Starring: Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley, Keeley Hawes, Phyllis Logan, Lesley Manville, Rhys Ifans, Greg Kinnear

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of women hatch a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this despite my weird hatred for Keira Knightley. Her acting bothers me yet I seem to watch all her damn movies?! I prefer this longer Wikipedia synopsis to tell you what this is about: “The 1970 Miss World competition took place in London, hosted by the US comedian Bob Hope. At that time Miss World was the most-watched TV show in the world with over 100 million viewers. Arguing that beauty competitions objectify women, the newly formed women’s liberation movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition.

This is a true story I knew nothing about but fully support because, let’s face it, beauty pageants are demeaning & sexist. But, yeah, I totally watched them as a kid & thought nothing of them as that’s just how the world was. Hopefully they’ve modernised them a bit nowadays?? I have no clue. But I liked seeing these Women’s Liberation activists disrupt this pageant after its host, Bob Hope, made a sexist joke. As with any film adaptation, though, I’m sure it’s not 100% accurate. Okay – I looked up the real footage and, yes, it was much more dramatic in the film. But Bob Hope certainly made plenty of sexist jokes! Icky. Here’s the footage but you can’t really tell that the women are throwing flour bombs at the stage.

What made the whole thing even more interesting was this (from Wikipedia, but it gives the result away if you don’t want to know that before watching the movie): “Even greater controversy then followed after the result was announced. Jennifer Hosten won becoming the first Black woman to win Miss World and the black contestant from South Africa was placed second.” So they rightly disrupted a very sexist pageant but, at the same time, it was the first of these pageants to give other women these opportunities & the winner was a very intelligent woman with a successful life & career following the pageant (whether or not that was helped by winning I don’t know but I’m sure it helps open some doors). So arguments can be made both for and against these contests but the movie doesn’t explore that quite as much as it could have. There’s also a bit at the end in the dressing room that you just know didn’t happen in real life but that they added just to make things more interesting for the film. That’s fine – I always say that if I want the true story I’ll watch a documentary.

This story is interesting enough that I would watch a documentary too but the movie does a decent enough job of bringing a story that probably isn’t well known to a slightly bigger audience even if the film doesn’t really dig too deeply into its subject matter. But I really enjoyed the movie & everyone did a good job, including annoying Knightley & Jessie Buckley as two of the protesters. I especially liked Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the contestant they focus on the most. Oh, and Greg Kinnear was surprisingly good as the truly smarmy Bob Hope. Was Hope always so smarmy?! Guess I don’t remember that from my childhood – I thought he was an American national treasure. Huh.

My Rating: 7/10

*Here’s a small complaint about the poster for this movie: Jessie Buckley is making that dumb selfie duckface. We didn’t make that stupid face before stupid selfies came along. I’m sure you can find some old pictures – I think Marilyn Monroe will have done “kiss face” type photos. But it’s more of a modern thing. So it’s annoying to see it on someone in a film set in 1970 even though I know she’s making fun of pageants & posing. Dumb complaint, I know, but the duckface annoys the hell out of me & makes me wonder if the people actually know how to genuinely smile anymore.

Judy (2019) Review

Judy (2019)

Directed by Rupert Goold

Based on End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.

My Opinion:

I liked this movie a lot and way more than I was expecting. As much as I’m a film lover, I’ve not explored Judy Garland’s stuff at all and know almost nothing about her. It’s strange as The Wizard Of Oz has been one of my favorite movies since I was a kid. I absolutely adore it and everything about it is so iconic. Why did I never watch anything else she’s been in? I suppose it’s because I’m not usually a big fan of musicals. Shameful! I really must explore more of her work.

Maybe I was able to buy into this more as I’m not a massive Judy Garland fan like so many people are? As I never saw much of the real Garland, I was able to fully accept Renée Zellweger as Judy. I’m not sure I’m a Zellweger fan as I’ve never really loved her in anything but I thought she was great in this. I do wonder what Garland experts thought of her performance. I have no idea but I loved it and I felt so much sympathy for her, which I think was important. I think people are often a bit dismissive of “troubled” famous people who overdose. I can’t imagine the pressures involved with fame but it’s clearly a big problem as early death is quite common for stars. And I guess I knew she was young when she died but, damn – it really hit me during this film upon realizing I’m almost the same age now. I know I’m far from young but also far too young to die. I even almost got teary at the end of this film and I’m not one to fall for tearjerkers very often. So, yeah – I think Zellweger did a great job in making Judy seem so human and so sympathetic and in making me want to know more about her now.

I maybe shouldn’t have mentioned the term “tearjerker”. It’s not at all how I’d describe this movie, although it certainly has emotional moments. I’m glad the movie told her story in a very straightforward way without making it into some heavy drama. I hate that over the top Oscar-bait and Judy doesn’t do that. It’s not contrived. It’s a little melancholy but not dreary. As so much of the focus is on her final performances, I would think that Judy fans probably got a lot of enjoyment out of watching this movie & hearing those songs.

I’d say, though, that if you want Garland’s life story this movie isn’t where you’ll get it. Which is fine. It just very much focuses mainly on her last year of life and a tiny bit on her very start in show business. There’s nothing whatsoever in between but, as I always say, if you want a factual full life story you should just watch a documentary. It also gives me a chance to find out more on my own & to explore the movies I missed (I’ve been meaning to watch Meet Me In St. Louis for years). I really liked the focus being that final year.

I should quickly add that everyone else did a very good job in the film as well and it was good to see Judy’s relationships in her final year. But this movie is truly Zellweger’s and Judy is the true star and center of attention. As she deserved to be. I do hope Zellweger gets an Oscar nomination for this and wish the movie had better reviews than it seems to have received. As I said, I think that may be because it’s not dramatic enough for the Academy. For me, it felt more real the way it was presented and I wish life had been easier for Garland.

My Rating: 7.5/10