Tomorrow I’ll be posting My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2022 followed by My Top Ten Older Movies Watched In 2022 then finally My Top Ten 2022 U.K. Movie Releases on Friday. Very disappointed with the 2022 movie releases! Possibly even worse than 2021, which was also bad. But at least I saw some great older films this year.
Oops. Watched too many movies in May. Several were GREAT, loads were GOOD, a few were MEH, and a couple were AWFUL. Managed to review them all on my Letterboxd, too, so here are those reviews…
MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY (ranked best to worst):
– Lucky – I clearly love the art of cinema and it’s because of films like Lucky. This was just fantastic. Harry Dean Stanton rightly deserved the praise he got for this role. He’s brilliant as Lucky. You can really feel the emotion in this film, as he comes to terms with his own mortality as well as that of his character. And the emotional impact of that final shot is up there with the image on the swings in Ikiru. Utterly devastating yet uplifting at the same time. Only the very best films and/or performances manage that extremely tricky combination without coming across as contrived. Harry Dean Stanton does it perfectly.
I found this film very moving so did a slightly longer blog post about it here. – 8.5/10
– Days Of Heaven – Thought this film looked gorgeous, as to be expected. That farm was beautiful – I wish I could live there (but with modern conveniences, right?!). And I’m always happy about an Ennio Morricone score so enjoyed that as well plus liked the story & thought the performance from the young Linda Manz was very good. Her character was the highlight of the film for me.
This is only the second Terrence Malick film I’ve seen after watching Badlands many years ago. I liked this much more than I was expecting. Maybe I should finally give The Tree Of Life a try… – 8/10
– Safety Last! – This was delightful. Having explored (and absolutely loved) Charlie Chaplin’s work, I’ve now watched two Buster Keaton films then this as my first Harold Lloyd film. Think this is my second favorite after the Chaplin stuff. While Keaton had extremely impressive stunts, I loved the humor in Lloyd’s work here. Found myself smiling in a way very few modern comedies manage to make me do. A scene with a (probably) simple trick of hiding behind two coats was fantastic. And it goes without saying that the ending involving climbing the building & famously hanging from the clock is truly brilliant. One of my favorite films I’ve watched so far this year. – 8/10
– Land – Thought this Robin Wright directorial debut was really good but I guess it was overshadowed by Nomadland (I preferred this). Wright is great as a woman who chooses live alone in the wilderness after a tragic event. She is befriended by a man, played by Demián Bichir, and I really liked their relationship & the connection they had. I felt for these characters & found the film quite moving. Glad I checked it out. – 7.5/10
– Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! – This was even trashier than I was expecting and, wow, I also enjoyed it way more than I was expecting. Am I allowed to like this?? I don’t know the rules anymore. I have very little experience with exploitation flicks so don’t know if this was a good place to start or not? But I thoroughly enjoyed the dreadful acting, silly story, and how completely badass these women were. I can see why this movie has achieved cult status but suppose, as a female viewer, I liked slightly different things about this film than its original target audience?
And now I can’t get White Zombie out of my head… “I never try anything, I just do it. Wanna try me?” – 7/10
– The Phantom Carriage – Been meaning to watch this one for a while. Really enjoyed the story, even though it’s essentially the same story as a Christmas favorite of mine, and I loved the thought of someone having to take over driving Death’s carriage each year. Was hoping for more of a “horror” & the guy was far too hateful but I loved all the bits involving the carriage. Didn’t love this movie quite as much as the other silent films I’ve explored the past couple of months but it was definitely worth watching. – 7.5/10
– Ghostbusters: Afterlife – This was good fun. The kids were likeable, especially Mckenna Grace’s character & the boy who befriends her & calls himself Podcast. It remains respectful to the original & seeing those characters again was all warm & fuzzy & nostalgic. But it does rely a bit too much on fan service & far too much on reusing the same story, which was a shame. So as a stand-alone film probably hoping to gain new fans instead of just us Gen Xers, I’m not sure it quite achieved that. But being Gen X, I did thoroughly enjoy the big fan service mid-credits scene. – 7/10
– Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers – Never would’ve even thought to watch this until I saw everyone raving over it. It’s a fun film & I really liked the clever story & references. It’s not up there with all-time (fully animated) Disney classics & for me doesn’t have the rewatchability of those. But I enjoyed it & still can’t believe a Chip ‘n Dale movie is one of the better 2022 releases I’ve seen. And better than recent Pixar films, too… – 7/10
– Whistle And I’ll Come To You – Enjoyed this BBC short horror (currently on U.K. Amazon Prime). The great John Hurt plays a man who becomes haunted after leaving his wife in a care home. Some nice creepy moments in this. A good one to watch alone late at night. – 7/10
– Born Free – Oh, looks like I didn’t review this on Letterboxd other than saying “Baby lions!”. Well, yeah… Baby lions! They’re cute! Who doesn’t love cute baby animals?? Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis if you don’t know this film (I’d not heard of it before moving to the U.K.): “Born Free is a 1966 British drama film starring the real-life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Joy and George Adamson, another real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya.”
Enjoyed, well, the baby lions! Can’t believe this couple raised a lion, which became fully domesticated (making it very difficult when they try to release her back into the wild). Seriously – they lived with it & treated it like a house cat. I kept expecting them to get their faces ripped off. (Spoiler – there’s no face ripping). It’s a very “nice” film with a very easy-listening cheesy mid-60s theme song & I assume many British families saw it on weekend afternoons on TV over the years. The nice vibe was ruined when I Googled the real Joy and George Adamson, though. Damn! It didn’t end well for either of them. What a shame. They certainly led very interesting lives. – 6.5/10
– The Last Letter From Your Lover – Is this movie predictable? Of course. Who cares? I love an illicit love affair now & then. (In movies, of course). And multiple love stories & time periods, too! Yes, please. An enjoyable guilty please, despite really not being a Shailene Woodley fan. – 6.5/10
– Senior Year – This was no worse than any other silly comedy movie but people seem to have a thing against Rebel Wilson (I don’t). I liked this just fine for a one-time watch. Had a few good laughs at inappropriate jokes & always like seeing these “back to high school” movies. And, yeah, comparing current teens with teens 20+ years ago does work really well in comedy now since the difference in behavior & values is so extreme. It’s part of what works so well in Cobra Kai & why I love that show. The story in this is of course predictable & feel-good but does anyone really want a film like this to be anything else? – 6.5/10
– Metal Lords – First of all, I loved this movie’s soundtrack. But I would as I’ve been listening to these songs for over 30 years. It mainly has Black Sabbath (still my favorite), Metallica, Pantera & Judas Priest. Also loved the mentions of Anthrax as they were another high school favorite of mine along with all the rest. And those fantastic cameos made this old late-‘80s big-haired teen very happy. So I enjoyed the movie but the nostalgia obviously helped a lot.
The film could have been better, though, and I wish the one boy (Hunter) wasn’t so hateful. The metalheads in my day were the nice ones? Angry usually, yes, but not jerks to their friends like Hunter is in this. And the movie was a slightly more serious coming-of-age story than I was expecting. Which I guess worked okay but I was expecting more of a comedy. That will be me loving This Is Spinal Tap & Wayne’s World, I suppose. And School Of Rock. The comedy in those just works so brilliantly with the love of rock & metal. But, hey, I always like a good coming-of-age movie too and liked the other boy (Kevin) and his story involving the girl (Emily). Especially when they were appreciating the genius of Sabbath’s War Pigs. But everyone could have used a lot more character development and this could have been a better film if they’d gone even more serious with it & really explored Hunter’s & Emily’s issues. Flagging it just as a comedy is misleading as it’s more comedy/drama.
So I enjoyed this but don’t know if those who aren’t metal fans would or not. Probably not so much but it’s a decent enough teen movie overall so they might still like the story. And plenty of newer metal bands do get mentioned too. Seen some complaining about the lack of newer music. Hunter is just really old school! Nothing wrong with loving the classics. – 6.5/10
– Reminiscence – This wasn’t great but certainly not the worst I’ve seen this year. I thought the idea was really good & liked the story but it’s unfortunate it got too convoluted & messy in the middle. Think it was relying too much on its pretty stars to distract us. Oh well – enjoyed this much more than the recent Deep Water, which only gave us pretty people to look at & nothing else. – 6/10
– Kung Fu Hustle – Well, this was wacky. I wanted to absolutely love this as it very much seemed like my type of thing. Maybe it was just a bit too goofy. But it was still a fun watch & I especially liked the Landlady. – 6/10
– Dear Evan Hansen – This isn’t really my type of thing & I probably wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t for the huge backlash. The backlash was far too extreme for a movie I thought was… Okay? Yeah, he looks 30 but has no one seen Grease?? A musical involving teen suicide is a little weird but I was interested in seeing how the story would end & how he’d get out of his lie (which started small & was less sinister than everyone made it seem when this came out). I can’t say he’s the most likeable character ever but I can think of loads of movie characters & current famous people who are far more hateful. I think the story is attempting an anti-bullying message, making the backlash ironic.
The music is typical of most modern musicals: The lyrics tell the story without giving us any memorable melodies. But the songs weren’t terrible. The overall movie wasn’t terrible, either, although I felt nothing for these “teens”. The adults such as Amy Adams & Julianne Moore were far better than the younger cast. I just think, with such a heavy topic, this came across quite shallow. Which is a shame. I think the movie probably had good intentions but it just didn’t quite work.
For a far better current movie capturing how difficult it is to be a teenager right now, I’d highly recommend Spontaneous (which I reviewed here) over this one. Great characters & smart dark humor, which works much better with heavy teen topics (in my opinion).
So I didn’t love this film but also certainly didn’t hate it. I liked it enough for a one-time watch but know I’ll never watch it again. – 6/10
– Eternals – Watched about half of this a couple months ago but lost interest & didn’t finish. Finally forced myself to finish it. Was bored out of my mind. Other MCU films did such a fantastic job slowly introducing us to new characters so that, even for people like me with zero knowledge beyond the films, we cared about them & their stories. I didn’t care what would happen to this large group of characters I’ve never seen before and the story was far too complex for their introductory movie. I don’t want to have to read Wikipedia afterwards to try to understand what the hell was going on in a Marvel film. No thanks. I’ll admit, though, that the film did get much better in the second half. I upped my rating by half a point as I did like the very end of this and the end credits scenes (except for the dumb troll). But I still didn’t care about any of it. – 5.5/10
– Halloween Kills – I’m more of an Elm Street girl as I found that a much more enjoyable slasher franchise than Halloween but do like the first film thanks mostly to Jamie Lee Curtis & especially John Carpenter’s amazing score.
This was meh. There are certainly better Halloween sequels but also a few worse ones. None of them have come even remotely close to being as iconic as the first film anyway. Curtis was given very little to do in this one compared to the last film, which has gone up in my estimation now after this disappointing sequel. I do like Judy Greer as her daughter & liked seeing characters from the first film appear in this (although I’d have loved seeing Paul Rudd instead of Farmer Ted – I don’t care if it’s a different timeline or whatever!). It all gets too silly, as usual, with Michael Myers unable to ever be killed and nothing surprising or original happens. But I know people just want the same old thing over & over with these films so I guess that’s what they got. Again.
Oh, and although I grew up in the ‘80s on plenty of slashers I’ve never been big on lots of visible gore. I looked away through a lot of this one. It all sounded extra squishy. No thanks. I’ll just stick with the much less squishy 1978 film. – 5.5/10
– Come Play – Yeah, this wasn’t great. Watched it as Gillian Jacobs is hilarious as Britta in Community (prefer her in comedy roles). The idea behind this film was fine but the execution wasn’t great & it comes across as a very poor Babadook rip-off. Was apparently a short film first and, just like Lights Out, I assume the short was much better. Not sure why they think they need to turn good short stories into unnecessarily long films. Oh well – it passed the time. I didn’t hate it. And I’ve given it an extra half a point as I actually kind of liked the ending (though I’m sure plenty didn’t). – 5.5/10
– Candyman (2021) – Admittedly I’m not a fan of the first Candyman (what I can remember of it all these years later, that is – I probably should’ve rewatched it). So maybe it’s unfair of me to review this one but I thought the story, which started out okay, was a muddled mess by the end. Plus the whole thing was surprisingly boring for a horror film.
I very rarely like reboots/remakes/sequels of horror films from the ‘80s & ‘90s, though, as I grew up with those and usually don’t want them messed with now. But I gave this a shot since I wasn’t big on the 1992 film anyway. Too bad it felt like yet another pointless horror “update”. – 5/10
– Brain Dead – I’m a sucker for watching movies just because I remember seeing the cover in video stores. This was one of them. How cool does that cover (above) look?! Looks like a fun, cheesy horror. Maybe even with Cronenberg vibes. It’s not. It’s just bad. So, so bad. Wow. What an incoherent mess. Bill Pullman & Paxton deserved much better! – 3/10
Movies Rewatched In May:
– Mean Girls – No matter how old I get I’ll always like teen flicks. This is one of the better “recent” ones (to me – I know it’s not recent, I’m just old). I like its slightly dark humor & Rachel McAdams is great. But it’s still not up there with Gen X teen movies such as Heathers, although it wants to be. I appreciate its effort. – 7/10
– Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion – Still a lot of fun. Nothing I like more than movies showing outcasts going back to their ‘80s high school reunions! I can relate. Janeane Garofalo’s character is still my favorite & Lisa Kudrow is always funny. – 7/10
– Role Models – Watched this again for the first time in years. Still found it really funny. Don’t think I’ve ever disliked Paul Rudd in anything & he’s as fun to watch in this as he is in everything. He deserves more credit for his comedy. Love the nerdy kid & the boob-obsessed kid & the Kiss obsession & the blatantly obvious explanation of the song Love Gun. – 7/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Etc Watched In May:
– Our Father – Think this could have been a better documentary & it felt exploitative at times. The subject matter obviously makes for uncomfortable viewing but it’s a fascinating & shocking story. Was impressed by the courage of the siblings in seeking justice. This is a truly evil & disgusting man. And unfortunately it’s not at all surprising, especially in the current climate, that there were no laws to protect women in this unusual situation & that this vile man got nothing but a slap on the wrist. – 6/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN MAY
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Obi-Wan Kenobi: S1 E1-2 – Can’t say a lot about this yet other than, well, it’s not really grabbing me like I was hoping it would after being super excited it was finally starting. It’s certainly better than the (non-Grogu) episodes of Book Of Boba Fett so far, which ended up very disappointing overall. Except for those Grogu episodes! I think I just need Grogu to be in every Star Wars thing they make now?? Because I love that little dude. Seriously. But I do really like Ewan McGregor too & am still really liking seeing him as Obi-Wan again as he’s easily one of the best things about the prequels. I’m just not feeling the rest of the cast, including the young kid I was very excited to get to see at that age. We’ll see… Need to give it time to build.
– Young Rock: S1 E7-9 What can I say other than that this is a surprisingly fun & feelgood family TV show. Great to stick on when needing something short & lightweight.
– The Five: S1 E1 – After thoroughly enjoying the Harlan Coben mystery series Stay Close & then Safe, we’re giving another one of his shows a try. So far, so good…
– Moon Knight: S1 E6 – I’ve said enough in previous posts. This show just didn’t do it for me. At all.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E10-13 – I’m obviously going to watch this thing until it finally ends. 18 freaking years! And not really my type of thing but it’s too late to give up now! Ha!
TV Specials Watched:
– Ricky Gervais: SuperNature – Honestly not sure why but I very rarely watch any stand-up comedy. Couldn’t even tell you any comedians I like other than George Carlin & Bill Bailey as they’re pretty much the only ones I’ve watched. Oh, and I guess the ’80s Eddie Murphy stuff like Raw. I’m so old. But then everyone freaked out about this one on Twitter as per usual & I went “Fuck it! Let’s see what the fuss is about.”
This was fine. I laughed several times, which is probably not allowed I assume. I like Ricky Gervais for the most part. Not watched any of the TV stuff he’s been in, not even The Office. But do love him ripping annoying celebs to shreds at The Golden Globes. Fantastic stuff! Put those rich fuckers in their places! Even though he’s a rich fucker too. Still prefer the likes of George Carlin & Bill Bailey but hope comedians can continue to be allowed to cover any topics they choose. I get very uncomfortable at the thought of censorship. That’s a slippery slope.
Holy hell – Did I really read three books in one month?! I’m much quicker when I’m not reading A Game Of Thrones, I guess.
– Malorie by Josh Malerman – This is the sequel to Bird Box, which I did like (review here). I mean I liked the book but not the movie – that was pretty rubbish. For some reason, I liked this sequel much more than the first book. While I love the concept & its very A Quiet Place feel (which I also loved) I found the character of Malorie a bit too unlikeable in the first book. But it’s understandable why she comes across so cold having to live life in a world where a glimpse of these “creatures” will drive you insane. I think we got to know her better in this book & why she’s so tough on her kids as she’s just desperate to protect them. I liked their relationship & enjoyed this story and also liked the ending.
Also, I think I felt more connected to the story this time. I read the first book before the pandemic & this one after it and it felt kind of similar to Covid lockdowns in a way. Obviously there weren’t creatures causing us to go on murderous rampages but I could really feel the isolation these kids felt at having been locked away from the rest of the world for so long in order to stay safe. It would be good to see a sequel film but it’s a shame the first film really didn’t do the book justice. – 3.5/5
– Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben – Finally read my first Harlan Coben book after really enjoying two TV shows of his. Liked this book, which is just as full of the twists & turns that I liked in his shows. I have to say, though, that like in Bird Box the main character in this was a little hard to like. But she’s tough & strong so that was cool. Not sure if I liked how it ended & as far as the Coben stories go I probably liked the story in the Stay Close show the most. But this would be second & would make for a good movie with the right cast (I think I read at one point that Julia Roberts would star in a movie adaptation but she’d be very wrong for the role). Here’s the Goodreads synopsis: “Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.” – 3.5/5
– The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor – Started reading my first C.J. Tudor books last month & liked them a lot (The Chalk Man & The Burning Girls). Enjoyed this too but not nearly as much as the other two. Those mysteries were even more twisty & turny than the Harlan Coben stuff & that was great. This one, however, was just too similar to a Stephen King story which I won’t name as it’ll give too much away. The characters & overall story weren’t as strong as in those other two books & I didn’t find myself flying through this one as I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on since it seemed obvious unlike the other two books with plots that kept me guessing throughout them. Oh well. It was still a fun read & I definitely have a new author I like. This won’t be the last C.J. Tudor novel I’ll be putting on reserve at the library. – 3/5
Now Reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I might as well get rid of this section. I have no plans. And I’m missing so many movies right now in the cinema. 😦 They’re still too germy & full of people but, dammit, I’m really not doing my duty as a movie blogger. I should be seeing & reviewing new releases for my two readers!
To end with the best music in a movie that I watched in May, here’s Black Sabbath’s War Pigs from Metal Lords:
I had to rank The Bachman Books separately as The Long Walk is sooo much better than Roadwork (which didn’t make my top ten).
Later I’ll be posting My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2021 followed by My Top Ten Older Movies Watched In 2021 tomorrow then finally My Top Ten 2021 U.K. Movie Releases. Very disappointed with the 2021 movie releases! Ugh. At least I saw some great older films for the first time in 2021…
Here are some more horror book reviews for October Horror Month. I mostly read Stephen King but did manage to read a few other authors in the past couple of years. Honest! Even read some non-horror, like Dune. But I do mostly stick to this genre for some reason…
Demon Seed by Dean Koontz
I’m a big Dean Koontz fan (did a Top Ten list HERE). Honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read this one years ago but think I only saw the 1977 Julie Christie movie based on it. What was disappointing was that I didn’t realise the version I have is actually one that Koontz later re-wrote to update the technology in it & I assume references to specific actresses. I’m old – I can handle reading about out-dated technology. I’M out-dated technology!
Anyway, this book is interesting as I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of machines taking over. (They will, you know!!). But it’s also creepy & very rape-y so not one I’d recommend easily to absolutely anyone. There’s a real “woman hating” thing going on here, but I think part of the point of the book is the dreaded “toxic masculinity”. I do wonder if that was as much a part of the original book or if Koontz put more of that in to fit more with the topics of today.
My Rating: 3/5
The Taking by Dean Koontz
As I said above, I love Dean Koontz books. Well, okay – I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one.
My Rating: 2.5/5
Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
This was a strange one. I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the movie adaptation!). But I was absolutely blown away by his short story included at the end of that book (Ghastle And Yule). It was brilliant. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author to tell him that (I never really tweet “celebs” because that feels stalker-y & weird). But I think he appreciated the praise. Here’s the synopsis for Black Mad Wheel from Amazon, which sounded amazing so is why I chose it as the next book of his to read: “The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.”
A creepy supernatural story about a rock band? Totally my type of thing! I wanted to like this one more than I did, however. Only Philip Tonka, the band’s front man, gets any character development. The story also doesn’t give much of a resolution if that sort of thing bothers you (I don’t mind that so much, especially with supernatural stories, as I like to sometimes have things left to my own imagination). What the story does have, though, is a lot of originality. It also has a good “vibe”. I don’t know how else to describe that but, especially with his Ghastle And Yule short story, I felt like I was there & could easily picture everything that was happening.
Based on what I’ve read of Malerman’s so far, I’ll definitely be reading more. His stories are unusual & completely unpredictable. I like that. I need more of that. I just want to like his characters a bit more. Likeable characters are always a big thing for me. By the end of Bird Box, I still didn’t like the main character. I want to care about the fate of at least one character… (I should point out that Ghastle And Yule aren’t likeable either but they’re not meant to be. They’re just great characters).
My Rating: 3/5
Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
What I like so far about Malerman is that he doesn’t stick to just one genre. For the most part, they’ve all been a little bit on the weird or supernatural side of things (which is right up my alley). This one is kind of a Western but with supernatural elements. I liked it. Probably my third favorite of the three full-length novels I’ve read but I’ve liked all I’ve read so far so am looking forward to reading more of his work.
Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Only three people know Carol Evers’ secret. Her best friend, who’s dead. Her husband, who hates her. Her ex-lover, who left her. Carol suffers from a dreadful affliction which makes her fall into long comas, waking slumbers indistinguishable from death. Her husband Dwight wants her next “death” to be her last. He will claim her fortune by pronouncing her dead … and burying her alive. The infamous outlaw James Moxie, once Carol’s lover, rides the Trail again – pursued by murder and mayhem – to save the woman he loves. And all the while, Carol is a prisoner in her own body. hearing her funeral plans, summoning every ounce of will to survive…”
My Rating: 3/5
Moon by James Herbert
Supernatural horror is my favorite genre to read. This book had been lying around the house for years so I finally read it since libraries have been closed for the past year (Update: I obviously wrote this in 2020). Also, I really liked Herbert’s freaky deaky book The Rats so decided I might as well try a second book of his. The Rats was more fun (but super gross). Moon is about a guy with a psychic connection to some psycho murderer & it’s exactly what you’d expect from this type of story. I’ve read loads of stories like this, so… I don’t have a lot to say. It passed the time & I’ll completely forget it years from now. Kind of like how all the Dean Koontz books I read all meld together in my mind & I honestly never know if I read one years ago or not but I still love to read his stuff…
My Rating: 2.5/5
Final Girls by Riley Sager
This crime mystery horror thriller might be a bit of fluff but I think it would make for a really good slasher flick with a decent “whodunnit” plot. I’d definitely watch that movie! The characters are a bit hateful but, hey, so are most slasher movie characters.
Had fun with this one – it was a real page-turner as I wanted to find out what was going on. I’m impatient when it comes to whodunnits & always read them quickly. It gets a bit silly at the end but I don’t mind that with this sort of thing. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “FIRST THERE WERE THREE. The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma. THEN THERE WERE TWO. But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or… CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE? All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.”
Happy August! I’m very behind on this roundup. I’ve been in the hospital, though, so guess I have an excuse.
I managed to squeeze in 10 movies in July (plus 3 watched with the family). And one was started in June & I watched it in chunks over two months because I absolutely hated it (I can’t leave a movie unfinished). So here we go…
MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):
– Wings Of Desire – I’d been wanting to see this for years after liking its (sort of) remake City Of Angels. They’re very different films, though, and this is certainly the better film. I’ve reviewed it in full at the link if you want to read more but I’ll just say it’s a lovely & way existential film & I’m happy to have finally seen it. It also has a lot in common with another favorite I’ve watched for the first time since starting this blog: A Matter Of Life And Death. I highly recommend both to fellow movie bloggers. Here’s the IMDb synopsis for Wings Of Desire if you’re curious: “An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal.” – 8/10
– VFW – From Wings Of Desire to VFW! I have well-rounded movie tastes. I really enjoyed this one despite the extreme violence. I just really liked this group of old dudes! Especially loved that William Sadler was in this & he seemed to be having loads of fun in the role. He’ll always be my favorite Grim Reaper! Stephen Lang is great in the main role as a tough Vietnam veteran who has to defend his bar slash VFW post from crazed drug addicts who are after a girl who has taken shelter in the bar. Lang is one of those guys who has been in shitloads but I never really noticed him until he played that freak in Don’t Breathe (which I didn’t love). He’s perfect here, though, and I loved the main friendship he had with fellow veterans Sadler & Fred Williamson. And as if these three aren’t cool enough, they also crammed in other “Hey, it’s that guy” actors as further fellow veterans forced to kick ass in as many violent ways as possible. We also have The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai big baddie Martin Kove, George Wendt of Cheers fame, and David Patrick Kelly from the absolute classicsThe Warriors & The Crow. Oh, and the girl in this, Sierra McCormick, was in a very obscure film that I liked a lot called The Vast Of Night so it was cool seeing her although her character could’ve been a bit more likeable. She should’ve been more grateful to these old dudes whose lives she’s put in danger.
VFW has real Hobo With A Shotgun, Dredd, From Dusk Till Dawn, and even a bit of The Crow vibes going on. So if you like those, you’ll probably like this! Although it’s quite not as good as those (well, maybe as good as Hobo). A few days after watching this I also realized what else it is: It’s an example of every day on Twitter. Honestly. It’s the Boomers vs the Millennials. I wonder if that was on purpose?? And, being Gen X, I did the same thing we all do and just minded my own business while watching these people fight it out. Was definitely with the Boomers on this one, though. Loved seeing them kick ass. – 7/10
– Waves – This is one of those depressing movies with good & powerful performances that was worth a watch but I sure as shit wouldn’t want to watch it again. It’s an interesting one as it’s very much two movies in one. I think a lot of people prefer the first half but it was too much for me. The first half is very chaotic, intensified by the music which was seriously stressing me out and you could tell it was all leading up to something bad happening (but I liked the use of Tame Impala at the start). And why was everyone in this movie always sticking their heads out the windows of moving cars – Have they not seen Hereditary?! I preferred the second half, which focused on the characters trying to put their lives back together and had some tender moments. I liked the younger sister the most, played by Taylor Russell from Escape Room (which I enjoyed even though it was stupid). The father, played by Sterling K. Brown who I liked a lot in Hotel Artemis, was also good but man was he difficult to like. He was way too hard on his son (which was part of the point of the movie). Well, it’s a good film with very good performances and I’d recommend if you like depressing human dramas. Maybe don’t watch it as a double feature with Requiem For A Dream. That would be a fun night! – 7/10
– Cherry – This was a weird one. I think I liked it okay? Despite none of the characters being very likeable or sympathetic. I felt like this movie was trying too hard to be “worthy”, though. I felt like it had a good story (from the book Cherry partly based on the real life of author Nico Walker) but failed to make what could’ve been a truly great film out of it. I think the Russo Brothers were the wrong directors for it. Holland was good despite looking way too young for the role and therefore being hard to believe. I reviewed it at the link if you want to basically just read more of me bitching about the stars looking too young. – 6.5/10
– Upstream Color – Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Mainstream Color is a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? And what was up with the pigs?! Well, I talked about it a bit more at the link but I certainly have no answers. Here’s the IMDb synopsis so you know what you’re getting into if you check this one out: “A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.” – 6.5/10
– The Empty Man – Hmm. I suppose this was pretty decent for a modern horror film. So many people were going on about it that I decided to check it out on Disney Plus. I thought it started out pretty great. I really liked the stuff at the start on the mountain & thought it was still pretty good when the teenagers first got involved in the next section of the film. The movie also had a great creepy vibe, partly thanks to the music I think, so I was glad I was watching it alone late at night & getting the heebie jeebies a little as I find so few horror movies to be very creepy. I like being creeped out! Give me a creepy atmospheric supernatural horror over gory stuff. I’d say one thing in this was too violent for my taste (not sure why that one person had to die so violently?!) but otherwise it wasn’t too over the top. I think it just fell apart for me at the end. It was a decent story & I was certainly intrigued as to what was going on but, I dunno. The ending was okay but I do feel let down by horror movie endings the majority of the time for some reason. I guess I’ve seen far worse endings. Overall, this was pretty good compared to most the modern horror crap out there. Oh! And I really liked that creepy skeleton in that image. Kind of a spoiler but not really – it’s at the start of the film & is also what convinced me to watch this when someone posted that image on Twitter. – 6.5/10
– The Most Dangerous Game – Saw this pop up on Amazon Prime & was aware of the story by Richard Connell being a classic (inspired by those rich assholes who hunt big game) so thought the 1932 film should be interesting. Plus I really enjoyed the 2020 film The Hunt! Not that they’re at all similar, of course, but the “hunting of humans” idea is the same. This was good but I wish I’d just looked it up on YouTube (it’s available) as the one on Prime is a horrible colorised version. Why do they do that?! Anyway, it was still a good film even with dodgy coloring. It’s a timeless story & works just as well today. Maybe even more so now, as hunting big game is somehow still a thing. How?!? The thought of the tables being turned is great. This version stars Joel McCrea, Fay Wray and Leslie Banks. Hey! The King Kong actress! I should really watch that version again. Anyway, she was good and far less “damsel in distress” than you’d expect in such an old film. I kept thinking she really looks like Penelope Ann Miller – she could have played her in her life story. I think this film has actually aged quite well & would recommend watching the black & white version on YouTube. – 7/10
– Rango – As part of my Best Picture Project, I also named several Best International Features that I want to watch as well as the only TWO Best Animated Features I’ve not seen. Rango was one of them (the other is Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which I can’t say I’m really looking forward to). Rango is a weird one! I enjoyed it & I liked some of the quirky & somewhat adult humor. Best Animated Oscar material, though?? Nah. Must have been no Disney or Pixar movies that year! Guess I better go look… Yep! That was the case. The other nominees were A Cat In Paris, Chico And Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Puss In Boots. Weak year! So I’d say, in this case, it was worthy of the win although my vote would’ve gone to Kung Fu Panda 2. But Rango was a fun film & I enjoyed Johnny Depp being his great old-school Johnny Deppiest as Rango (before all that Amber drama). And it clearly kept referencing the Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas look (right?), again reminding me that I still need to see that film as well. – 6.5/10
– Stowaway – I liked this Netflix film. It could’ve been better but it certainly could’ve been much worse. I really liked the story & the moral dilemma that occurs, although having no explanation whatsoever as to how this guy ended up as a stowaway on this spaceship thingy was kind of strange. So don’t expect to find out how he ended up there! I thought it dealt with the overall story well, though, and I liked the characters and the ending. Plus I’m always a sucker for sci-fi. I don’t think it deserves as low of a rating as it has on IMDb. – 6/10
– Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar – What the hell was this shit?! Man, I really don’t get on with modern “comedies”. To be fair, I did like these two main characters (played by Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo). They did make me giggle a few times & I thought “I wish these characters were in a better movie”. The story with the “baddie” was stupid as hell & my least favorite thing about the movie. It’s a very weird film, although I do like a bit of weird humor so didn’t hate all of it. Sometimes weird works & sometimes it doesn’t (like the dumb plot with the evil woman & Jamie Dornan’s stupid dance number). Meh. I guess I’ve seen worse. At least the two main characters were fun. – 5/10
– Margaret – This was the movie I watched in chunks over two months because OH MY GOD I HATED IT but I had to finish the damn thing since I don’t like to leave movies unfinished. Is it a bad film? No. Does it have some of the most hateful characters I’ve ever seen in a movie? Yes. I have no desire to watch some horrible teenager be a complete bitch for TWO AND A HALF PAINFUL HOURS. Most everyone in this was hateful but Anna Paquin’s character really took the fucking cake. And I like Allison Janney & think she’s a good actress but that ridiculous overacting during the death scene was cringeworthy. I just didn’t understand most of these characters’ reactions or intentions, especially Paquin’s. What was she trying to accomplish?? The death was her fault as well (though more the driver’s as its his responsibility). Oh, the story is that she distracts a bus driver who ends up running over & killing a woman. Then Paquin is a complete bitch for the next two hours but doesn’t actually seem to feel any guilt over the incident anyway so god knows why she’s so utterly repulsive. Ugh. Hated this movie & these characters so much. I didn’t exactly love Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea either but it was much better than this. The people in that film were also horrible at times but at least you did feel sympathy for them and understood why they were so broken. Those in Margaret had no excuses for their awful behavior. I’ll never understand movies that want us to watch hateful, unsympathetic (and uninteresting) characters for two and a half hours. Two and a half hours!!!! Sorry I keep mentioning the length – it was just a looooooong & painful film to have to suffer through. I’m being nice with my score since, um, I dunno… He’s a “worthy” filmmaker so I don’t dare give it lower, I guess. – 4/10
– Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – What can I say? This movie came out when I was a teenager & I still love it & adore the characters of Bill & Ted. These dudes are so fun & loveably dumb. It’ll always be a favorite movie of mine. I don’t see how anyone could watch this movie without a big, goofy grin on their face. And I love that my daughter loves it too – she’s the one who insisted that we rewatch this one again. – 9/10
– Independence Day – Always liked this film but hadn’t rewatched it in years. Has it aged well? Fairly well, but it does feel dated in that way that many ’90s movies do. I don’t know what it is, but ’90s movies have aged badly. People dump on ’70s & ’80s movies sometimes but the very best from those decades have held up very well and there are loads of absolute classics from then. Anyway, I still enjoyed this one again despite the cheesiness. I really liked this era of action-star Will Smith when he was in a lot of good movies. And I still like Brent Spiner in this, which made my Star Trek TNG-loving nerd very happy in 1996. Still a fun guilty pleasure. – 7.5/10
– Short Circuit Shorts: Season 1– Watched all of these Disney Plus shorts & thought they were quite good. All were very colorful & had good stories. I especially liked Downtown, Drop & Jing Hua. Enjoyed these more than the SparkShorts & thought they seemed more polished than those (but I think that’s the point of those so I’m not dissing them). It was nice that each had a small intro with the creators discussing the shorts as well. I love all the shorts on Disney Plus & have watched them quite a bit. I sometimes wonder if anyone else watches them or if most just watch the films.
– The Simpsons: The Good, The Bart And The Loki – This was cute. I’m enjoying these Simpsons shorts they’ve been doing on Disney Plus. The Star Wars one was better, though.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– Who Are You, Charlie Brown? – Enjoyed this documentary on Apple TV+. I’m a HUGE Peanuts fan. I liked that this documentary included a new Peanuts cartoon in between the interviews with people discussing what the comics meant to them. It’s an odd selection of guests and I know some people feel it has an agenda (I think the point, though, is that Peanuts had a wide appeal and many people were able to identify with at least one of the characters). I’m happy to know that my favorite, Drew Barrymore, is also a Peanuts fan as she was one of those being interviewed. And of course Kevin Smith is in this too – is there anything that dude isn’t a fan of?! I like Charles Schulz & he seemed like a good man with common sense beliefs.
I’m happy that one of the final things we did pre-pandemic was go to a great Charles Schulz exhibition up in London. It was brilliant & I got loads of photos of my beloved daughter with my beloved Snoopy. Also have a picture of me in Lucy’s “psychiatric help” booth thingy that I thought of posting here but I don’t know how to make photos not be HUGE and I don’t want to scare anyone with my huge not-properly-resized face. Anyway – that was a great time & I’m so glad we did that. I will always adore the Peanuts characters. And I think that Snoopy is one of the all-time greatest creations in this world. Love that cheeky beagle!
– Anthrax Interviews – Thank you to the hubby for sending me a link that has a load of videos where Anthrax discuss their career. He sent it because of one video where Keanu Reeves discusses how he ended up in the Anthrax video Safe Home (you can find the article & links to that as well as all of the videos at Metal Sucks HERE). He knows I love Anthrax and Keanu!Really enjoyed watching that & Reeves is SO damn sweet & lovable as always. He’s such a lovely, positive dude & it’s great that so many people now realize it & that he’s so respected & liked now. (But he’s OURS – Gen X have always loved Reeves & we’re the ones who made him famous. Younger people can like him too but he’s OURS).😉
I accidentally clicked the wrong link when looking for the Reeves video & ended up being treated to another fantastic video where they talk about doing the music for the John Carpenter movie Ghosts Of Mars. John Carpenter is also in the video talking about how he enjoyed working with Anthrax for the film and I loved how much the band were freaking out & being total fanboys about working with the brilliant Carpenter. Here’s the link to the Carpenter episode.
TV SHOWS WATCHED(not ranked in any specific order because I can’t decide the order since so many of these are good…)
– Monsters At Work: S1 E1-5 – I’m enjoying this probably way too much for an adult. Well, for a person of adult age, I should say. It’s good!! I adore Monsters, Inc & Mike Wazowski is one of my favorite animated characters (helps that I love Billy Crystal). I really thought it would focus only on the new characters but we get loads of Mike & Sulley in each episode too. Yay! Plus, my favorite bit, Mike’s Comedy Class as an end bit to each episode. But the newly added characters are great too, so the whole thing works very well.
– Sweet Tooth: S1 – As a family, we’ve really struggled to find one good TV series suitable for all of us. We also like stories that are a little “weird” or sci-fi and not very mainstream most of the time so it’s hard to find TV shows that the three of us like. Am so glad we gave this a try! Liked this a lot and we’re all really looking forward to the next series (well, think the hubby & I liked it slightly more than the daughter but she did enjoy it too). It’s about time Netflix gave us a show that’s not a huge disappointment! Well, Stranger Things was great for series one but then took a huge poop. Hopefully Sweet Tooth stays good…
– Lisey’s Story – Okay, this was a weird one. I can see people not liking this but, having read and liked the book a lot, I would have said it would be an extremely hard story to adapt. To be fair, I think they did as well as they could with a very strange story. I’d obviously recommend the book first but did enjoy seeing this interpretation, especially the world of “Boo’ya Moon”. I thought that world was quite effective & eerie. So I enjoyed this but would very much hesitate to recommend it to anyone other than hardcore Stephen King fans who’ve read the book.
– Ted Lasso: S2 E1-2 – So… I’ve had to cancel Apple TV+ to save some money. It’s why I quickly watched Lisey’s Story & the first two episodes of this. Broke my heart, as this show is so sweet & funny and always a good pick-me-up. 😦 I figure I’ll get it again in the future & binge all of season 2. The first episode with the dog incident was hilarious & I loved the Magnolia references.
– Loki: S1 E5-6 – Enjoyed this series but still like WandaVision the most of the newest Marvel shows on Disney Plus. I’d say I liked the start of this series more than the end, but know the end is important for setting up the next movies & all that. But, not being a reader of the comics or having any knowledge of the “baddie”, it didn’t mean much to me. Still a good series, though, and not a snoozefest like The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.
– The Crown: S3 E8-10, S4 E1-2 – I finally made it to the Diana episodes! They’re fine. As I’ve said, I don’t like this “second cast” at all compared to the first cast in the first seasons. The same goes for Diana – I don’t buy that person as Diana just because of a similar haircut & all the annoying head-tilting. But the story is still fascinating (despite not being fully true, I know I know) so I’m still enjoying watching it.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S17 E14-17 – That was the end of the season?! Didn’t even realize I was watching the finale. No one died! None of the usual tragedies & cliffhangers!! Series 17: The Covid Series. What a drag that was! Hopefully this means they’re at least doing one more season since I doubt they’d end on such a dud.
– My Hero Academia: S1 E1 – I’d forgotten we watched an episode of this to check the appropriateness for the kid. It was fine but am sure it gets better. May watch more but it’s Demon Slayer that I really want to watch (but that does sound way too violent to be a family-watch).
– Toradora! – Just mentioning this as I’ve seen bits & pieces as my daughter watches it so much. Maybe I can get her to review it like she did HERE for Jungle Cruise! So I can’t say much as I don’t pay much attention. All I know is that the girl in it seems extremely high maintenance and everyone is SO dramatic in that way all anime teens seem to be. And one episode seemed to be about everyone obsessing over boobs as the teens all had to wear swimsuits for their boy/girl swimming classes so the material seems a bit iffy at times! Oh well. Teen issues & dramas, I guess.
– Love, Death & Robots – S1 E3: The Witness – I hated this. I’ve only seen three of these episodes now & two of them were far too violent & gratuitous with the female nudity. Gross. Were these made by horny teenage boys? I wanted to watch cute & cool robots. Hell, this one didn’t even have any fucking robots!! This series has such a high IMDb rating but I have zero desire to watch more based on two of the three that I’ve seen.
– Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman – Look! I read something other than a Stephen King book! I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the film). But what really blew me away was the short story at the end of that book: Ghastle And Yule. Absolutely brilliant! I loved it so much that I tweeted the author about it (I never do that) and got a nice reply. So I’ve decided that I want to read all his stuff now (though his stuff isn’t always the easiest to get a hold of). After Bird Box I read Black Mad Wheel, from the library, and now this which showed up on Amazon for only £2 for the paperback. Good deal!
What I like so far about Malerman is that he doesn’t stick to just one genre. For the most part, they’ve all been a little bit on the weird or supernatural side of things (which is right up my alley). This one is kind of a Western but with supernatural elements. I liked it. Probably my third favorite of the three full-length novels I’ve read but I’ve liked all I’ve read so far so am looking forward to reading more of his work. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Only three people know Carol Evers’ secret. Her best friend, who’s dead. Her husband, who hates her. Her ex-lover, who left her. Carol suffers from a dreadful affliction which makes her fall into long comas, waking slumbers indistinguishable from death. Her husband Dwight wants her next “death” to be her last. He will claim her fortune by pronouncing her dead … and burying her alive. The infamous outlaw James Moxie, once Carol’s lover, rides the Trail again – pursued by murder and mayhem – to save the woman he loves. And all the while, Carol is a prisoner in her own body. hearing her funeral plans, summoning every ounce of will to survive…”
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Work. Sleep. Watch movies.
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
Everything!!! 😦 The Suicide Squad, Jungle Cruise, Black Widow, Escape Room 2, The Forever Purge, A Quiet Place Part II which I think has come & gone plus whatever else is currently out & coming out soon. I’m not keeping track of cinema releases since I’m not ready to go back to cinemas & have people breathing all over me (to be fair, I wasn’t a fan of having people anywhere near me before the pandemic). But I really am missing new releases!
I suppose the music clip that I should end this post with today is Safe Home by Anthrax featuring the lovely Keanu Reeves:
Tomorrow I’ll be posting My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2020 followed by My Top Ten Older Movies Watched In 2020 then finally My Top Ten 2020 U.K. Movie Releases. Very disappointed with the movies I saw in 2020! But it’s obviously been a strange year.
Looks like June was the month when I watched some actual “new releases”. Must admit I’m missing my pretty-much-weekly trip to the cinema but I have no plans on going back to one anytime soon. So I better get used to crappy straight-to-Netflix movies…
MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):
– Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Okay, I’m not going to pretend this is in any way a good movie. But I quite liked it. Am I just desperate for new releases?! I have to say that I can’t imagine Americans enjoying this movie in the same way. I think you have to see the real Eurovision every year to fully appreciate just how delightfully cheesy & ridiculous it is. It’s especially entertaining to live in the UK & watch the UK entry get almost no votes every year because all the other countries hate the UK (there’s a joke about this in the movie that gave us a good laugh).
I think this movie did the real contest justice. It seems like your usual over-the-top Will Ferrell comedy but, honestly, he hasn’t really exaggerated what the show is like. Ferrell is a big fan of Eurovision and I think the movie manages to show his love for it while at the same time lovingly making fun of it. In the end, it’s a sweet story and the final half of the movie makes up for a slow start. And, hell, the songs are pretty good! Maybe a little too good. Much better than most the shit in the real Eurovision. Ferrell is goofy as always (his films are hit or miss for me) and Dan Stevens & Pierce Brosnan are fun additions but I think Rachel McAdams is the best thing about the movie. Her more subtle comedy works well with Ferrell’s usual craziness (liked her in Game Night too). The movie is silly & it won’t be winning any Oscars but it’s one of the first-time watches from all of lockdown that I enjoyed the most. Jaja Ding Dong! – 7/10
– The Vast Of Night – I really liked this movie as well, although I wanted to like it even more as I think they did a great job with it. I respect it. I always appreciate a good low-budget sci-fi where you can tell that the filmmakers have truly put their hearts into making the movie. Let’s give them credit: This movie was written by Andrew Patterson (under the pseudonym of James Montague) & Craig W Sanger. Based on this, I’d love to see what sort of a big budget film they could make in this genre. But, to be fair, the slow-paced low-budget indie-movie style perfectly suits this innocent 1950’s small American town setting. I don’t think a big, glossy Hollywood movie would have captured this town in the same way. I think I’m also a fan of “small town Americana” movies as I grew up in such a small town myself.
I thought they especially did a good job adding all the small details to make this one feel like it really was taking place in the 1950s. I have a lot of affection for that time period and that whole “UFO paranoia” thing as I grew up on the original The Twilight Zone. The movie is clearly influenced by that & introduces the story in a Rod Serling/Twilight Zone way that gave me warm fuzzies. I do think this is a very well made indie sci-fi with two strong main characters but also know it’s absolutely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb if you’re interested: “In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, young switchboard operator Fay and charismatic radio DJ Everett discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.” FYI: This movie is on Amazon Prime. I highly recommend this movie to old school ’50s sci-fi fans. But probably only to those people. It’s a shame the film may not get as much recognition due to being such a specific sub genre.
Also a quick mention of another good low-budget movie this reminded me of (not sure why) but in the horror genre: Pontypool. Bizarre movie but a great concept. It just gave me a similar vibe, but The Vast Of Night is a better film. I’m happy I happened to see TVON mentioned on Twitter (by Robert Englund – What?! Freddy Krueger?!?). Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known about it. Thanks, Freddy! – 7/10
– Extraction – Not gonna lie: I 100% watched this for Chris Hemsworth. This isn’t my type of genre AT ALL so I wouldn’t have bothered if hottie Chris wasn’t in it. However, even though I don’t like this genre, I occasionally like the movies if they’re good enough. The likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger & Sylvester Stallone made plenty of this type of thing in my precious ’80s & I definitely liked some of those. But Extraction isn’t good enough. It’s… Forgettable. As in: I saw this only two months ago but don’t remember enough to write about it. Um… I think I remember Chris, like, sitting at the bottom of a lake & meditating (as you do)? And I remember the boy being likeable enough for you to want The Hems to save him. And I remember a ridiculous final scene (that I kind of liked as I thought this movie needed to be MORE ridiculous than it actually was – it would have made it more fun). Meh. At least I got to watch Chris Hemsworth in a new movie. – 6/10
– My Spy – I shouldn’t be “reviewing” this as I slept through a good chuck of it. But it was so predictably predictable that sleeping through some of it made no difference. Anyway – I don’t know why but I’ve seen a lot of this weird genre (tough action movie guy doing a family film with a bunch of kids). When did this become a thing?? Because I kind of like these stupid films. I blame that on Kindergarten Cop. Kindergarten Cop rules. All I expect from these films is for them to have a few laughs, to have a cheesy heartwarming moment, and for the kid(s) to be somewhat likeable (or at least cheeky without being overly annoying). This movie fulfils the requirements well enough. Dave Bautista is fine as the latest big muscle-y dude to do this sort of film but the girl, Chloe Coleman, is the star. I can see her easily getting more roles after this. This movie is meh but at the better end of this genre. Not as good as Kindergarten Cop but thankfully much better than Tooth Fairy… – 6/10
– As Above, So Below – This was disappointing. I have a fascination with the catacombs in Paris. I’ve been there and walking through row upon row of skulls & bones is a pretty freaky experience so I can see why it has inspired horror movies. But they have yet to make a good horror movie set there. There was a truly dreadful 2007 movie called Catacombs, starring Shannyn Sossamon & Pink, that I would never recommend to anyone. I actually bought that stupid DVD just because I’d been wanting a horror movie to be set in the catacombs. From what I remember, though, it did at least manage to be a little creepy.
As Above, So Below is certainly the better film of the two but it’s such a weird mishmash of genres that it just didn’t work for me. And it’s not creepy enough. I think a movie with this setting needs to be pure horror but this movie had a sort of Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider thing mixed in with the horror. And then some weird supernatural stuff which is something I normally love but was just too dumb in this case. And the characters were okay but extremely underdeveloped while our lead girl was a tad unlikeable (although the actress was fine). Oh, it’s also a “found footage” film, which not everyone likes (I don’t mind found footage). Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It is presented as found footage of a documentary crew’s experience exploring the Catacombs of Paris and was loosely based on the seven layers of Hell.” Oh yeah – there’s some weird religious stuff going on & ancient artefacts & that kind of shit. I wanted to like this movie but the weird Lara Croft thing going on with the main girl was just awkward. I guess I was expecting a more straightforward horror film but I also give the movie credit for trying to do something a little different. – 5.5/10
– The Wedding Singer – This is a favorite of mine & by far Adam Sandler’s best movie. I know he has a lot of bad ones but The Wedding Singer is genuinely good. And he has great chemistry with Drew Barrymore (love her). I mean, my username comes from this movie. Still think I was brave to use an Adam Sandler reference on a movie blog! I obviously like this movie even more because of Drew but the ’80s setting & great soundtrack help a lot as well. Steve Buscemi is hilarious. Rapping granny is adorable. And don’t you talk to Billy Idol that way! Plus I’ll always love the mutants at table 9. – 8/10
– Never Been Kissed – More Drew Barrymore! Rewatched this one with the kid. I’ve always found this movie very “sweet”. And Josie Grossy is still fun to say. And Michael Vartan was a cute “hot teacher”. And I like the ending because I DO occasionally like girly romantic stuff. – 7.5/10
– Turner & Hooch – Rewatched this with the kid as well. It’s a fun family film & I miss the days when they made so many films in this genre. Where have all the decent family films gone?! Anyway – the movie has aged pretty well. I still love a good “dog buddy” comedy. – 6.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE
MUSIC LISTENED TO
I’ve listened to no “new” music the past couple of months… Can anyone recommend a good new album??? Or, better yet, a good old album since 90% of current music sucks? I’m bored.
– Dune by Frank Herbert – As I’ve said in every recent post, it took me months to read this but I finally finished in June. I said I’d review it in my June post but… I can’t do it! How the hell do you go about reviewing Dune?? It’s a loooong book and a lot happens. I enjoyed it very much, yes, but not enough to read the rest of the books (which I’ve heard aren’t as good anyway). I’m really looking forward to the Denis Villeneuve adaptation now, though, as I love his films. I’m especially wanting to see how Rebecca Ferguson does as Lady Jessica as she was my favorite character. I think she should do well as I thought she was great in Doctor Sleep. By the way – Lady Jessica kicks ass (for those wanting more strong female characters in books & film). Oh, and apparently the film is only covering half of this first book?? Bloody hell. Well, I don’t have time to continue reading these tomes but do like the story so am hoping for an epic series of films from Villeneuve. – 4/5
– Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman – This was a strange one. I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the movie adaptation!). But I was absolutely blown away by his short story included at the end of that book (Ghastle And Yule). It was brilliant. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author to tell him that (I never really tweet “celebs” because that feels stalker-y & weird). But I think he appreciated the praise. Here’s the synopsis for Black Mad Wheel from Amazon, which sounded amazing so is why I chose it as the next book of his to read: “The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.”
A creepy supernatural story about a rock band? Totally my type of thing! I wanted to like this one more than I did, however. Only Philip Tonka, the band’s front man, gets any character development. The story also doesn’t give much of a resolution if that sort of thing bothers you (I don’t mind that so much, especially with supernatural stories, as I like to sometimes have things left to my own imagination). What the story does have, though, is a lot of originality. It also has a good “vibe”. I don’t know how else to describe that but, especially with his Ghastle And Yule short story, I felt like I was there & could easily picture everything that was happening. Based on what I’ve read of Malerman’s so far, I’ll definitely be reading more. His stories are unusual & completely unpredictable. I like that. I need more of that. I just want to like his characters a bit more. Likeable characters are always a big thing for me. By the end of Bird Box, I still didn’t like the main character. I want to care about the fate of at least one character… (I should point out that Ghastle And Yule aren’t likeable either but they’re not meant to be. They’re just great characters). – 3/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
It looks like I watched no TV in June other than catching up on the latest season of annoying Grey’s Anatomy. Ugh.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I’ll hopefully post my July roundup post by the end of August. Then post my August roundup in September. I have no blog plans beyond doing monthly roundup posts. Life is too busy at the moment, even with being stuck at home.
I should end this post with a song from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. But I’d rather post one from The Wedding Singer soundtrack. Woohoo! Eighties!! Here’s Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie:
For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for the rubbish films Bird Box & Winchester…
Bird Box (2018)
Directed by Susanne Bier
Based on Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Danielle Macdonald, Sarah Paulson
Music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows a woman, played by Sandra Bullock, as she tries to protect herself and two children from malevolent supernatural entities that make people who look at them go insane and commit suicide.
My Brief Opinion:
Ugh. I read the book by Josh Malerman (review HERE) and enjoyed it. Really good story only let down slightly by unlikable characters. I like Bullock but she was so wrong for this role. Not that it matters, I suppose, but the character in the book is half her age. Then the film changed the story so much until the very end. I don’t understand why films make changes when completely unnecessary and when it actually makes the story worse. This does pick up a little toward the end when the focus is on Bullock and the kids (and when it also isn’t straying so far from the book).Dreadful acting in this film, as well. Just read the book.
My Rating: 5/10
Directed by The Spierig Brothers
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Helen Mirren as heiress Sarah Winchester, with Jason Clarke and Sarah Snook, and follows Winchester as she is haunted by spirits inside her San Jose mansion in 1906.
My Brief Opinion:
Bloody hell. Modern horror really does suck. What an utter snoozefest this was. Again, it sounded so good on IMDb: “Ensconced in her sprawling California mansion, eccentric firearm heiress Sarah Winchester believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle.” How did they manage to make an intriguing story so damn boring? And what a waste of Helen Mirren (I like that saucy lady) and Sarah Snook (absolutely brilliant in the fantastic Predestination). To be fair, I was paying zero attention by the end since I was playing on my phone out of sheer boredom. Maybe I missed something that made this good? Unlikely since it was up for a bunch of Razzie Awards, I guess.
I’ll be posting all my 2018 Year End Top Ten Lists the rest of this week. I’m starting off with My Top Ten Books (And Short Stories) Read In 2018. I even managed to review them all, making this a very quick & easy post! Links to the reviews are below.
And as always, my “Top Tens” are often full lists of all I’ve seen, read, etc. I read 19 stories so I’ve ranked all 19. Here we go!
Happy December, everyone! Is winter over yet? Oh man – I’m mega late with this update & it’s now almost January. That’s even worse than December. Have I mentioned that I hate this cold & dreary time of year??? Well, here’s what I watched & read way back in November…
**I’ll try to review all the below 2018 releases in full later so I’ll only talk a little about the two I saw at home.
– A Star Is Born – 8/10
– Mirai – 7/10
– Ralph Breaks The Internet – 7/10
– The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – 6.5/10
– The Boat That Rocked (aka Pirate Radio) – I’d always wanted to check this out sometime as I find the pirate radio thing that happened in the UK fascinating. I love the spirit of pirate radio. Sticking it to corporate radio bullshit! And I’ve always had a thing for Pump Up The Volume (I think it was a teenage nerd dream of mine to be Slater’s anti-establishment pirate DJ in that). This movie was pretty bloody awful, though. Could they really not just make a movie based on the true story of pirate radio, which would be thoroughly interesting, instead of an overlong piece of fiction filled with hateful characters? What I find most fascinating, however, is just how much the world has changed in the ten years since this was released. This couldn’t be made in the same way now as there’d be a huge backlash due to how the female characters are portrayed (and a scene involving Gemma Arterton is rapey beyond belief). I have to get the hell off the internet sometimes when I see words like “woke” and “problematic” and I just want to puke. I’m Gen X and rude as fuck and offended by nothing so, if I found this movie slightly uncomfortable in 2018, I’m hoping that the people who use those words never check it out. I’ll say two good things about it, though: Philip Seymour Hoffman was really good and the soundtrack was AMAZING. Holy hell! Richard Curtis must have some serious connections to have gotten the rights to so many great songs for this film (I looked it up – there are 60 songs in the movie). It was actually worth watching for the constant background music alone. I’d say the movie somewhat captured the spirit of pirate radio’s love of good music and wanting to share it with others. It’s just a shame that a good movie about pirate radio wasn’t made instead of this silly one. – 5.5/10
– Slaughterhouse Rulez – 5.5/10
– The Grinch – 5/10
– Better Watch Out – This was an odd one. I was excited about this as I like a good Christmas horror comedy: Gremlins is an all-time favorite & I thought Krampus was a fun film. The marketing was strange for this… I got the impression that it might be another comedy horror such as Krampus but it’s nothing of the sort despite being listed as a “comedy crime horror thriller” on IMDb. Everything I read said to avoid spoilers for this so I’ll not say much about it other than that I absolutely hated the turn that this film took. As I said before, it takes a hell of a lot to offend me but I didn’t like the creepy way this played out. And, as always, I hate movies filled with hateful characters (though the girl wasn’t too bad). I don’t know. This has an okay IMDb rating as far as horrors go so clearly some must like it but I can’t for the life of me imagine who as I can think of no one I would recommend this movie to. – 4.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– Bird Box by Josh Malerman – I enjoyed this horror novel. If you liked A Quiet Place, you’d probably like this story as well. In the book, people start going mad and killing themselves & others after seeing *something*. No one knows the cause so people start barricading themselves in their homes & wearing blindfolds at all times. I’d say the only negative was that I didn’t love the main character as she seems so cold & uncaring but it’s also completely understandable as this terrible new existence has made her that way. This has now been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock and I have to say I hate the look of the trailer as it looks like too much has been changed (plus she’s very wrong for the role). I’ll check it out but I highly recommend reading the book first if you’re interested. – 4/5
– Ghastle And Yule by Josh Malerman – This was a short story hidden at the end of Bird Box and, oh my god, I loved it! I liked it so much that I tweeted the author (I never do that – I just felt the need to let him know I appreciated it). The story is about two rival horror filmmakers and I highly recommend it to lovers of filmmaking & especially classic horror filmmaking. The way Malerman describes each of their films in detail made them feel like real directors and actual movies I’d seen. Seriously – every movie described in this story needs to be made for real. Horror filmmakers are missing out if they don’t do this. At the very least, the story itself should be a film. – 4.5/5
– Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang – I’ve only read two of the stories in this collection so far. I’ll try to review this once I’ve read the whole book.
Currently Reading: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby – But I have to return it to the library and I’ve not finished it. Damn. Good so far. Typical Hornby.
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Walking Dead – Ugh. Why do I keep doing this to myself?! This show has sucked for years. It has sucked since Darabont left. And I never loved Rick but it’s completely pointless without him now…
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
No plans! Too busy with work. And stupid Christmas. I may try to review the 2018 films I’ve not yet reviewed. And I’ll do end-of-year Top Ten lists as always but that may be the first week of January.
December Movies I Want To See:
– Sorry To Bother You – Sounds like a “love it or hate it”. I do like weird.
– The Old Man & The Gun – Sounds like an interesting story but I’ll wait for Netflix.
– Mortal Engines – Damn, reviews aren’t great but I liked the book. Looks like it’ll be another “wait for Netflix” film.
– Aquaman – Meh. DC movies suck but he’s pretty damn hot so I might watch this one.
– Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – Saw it. It’s brilliant! And I’m not a huge superhero fan.
– An Elephant Sitting Still – I know nothing at all about this but it’s a Chinese film with decent reviews (but probably too obscure for me to be able to ever see it easily). And I’ve just seen that it’s four hours long?! Huh. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
– Mary Poppins Returns – I’ll go as it looks like a lovely family film and I like Emily Blunt but I’m seriously bored with reboots and remakes and sequels and whatever.
– Bumblebee – Tickets booked! I’ll have seen this by the time this posts. Sounds like a fun family movie.
– Holmes & Watson – Could be fun. Could be shit. Will Ferrell movies are iffy.
**I’ll end with a song from the thoroughly disappointing The Boat That Rocked movie with the thoroughly fantastic soundtrack. I’ve always loved Crimson And Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells. I seriously always thought this song was about taking a girl’s virginity in the grass but I can’t find any evidence of this online and I’m now weirdly disappointed that there’s no actual meaning. This is from Wikipedia: “The title, “Crimson and Clover”, was decided before a song had been written for it. The combination of unknown meaning came to James as he was waking up, comprising his favorite color – crimson – and his favorite flower – clover.”
I seriously thought I’d quit this blogging thing once I hit my five year anniversary. Well, shit – I’m still lingering a year later. Sorry – I think you’re stuck with me! I enjoy this online movie diary. I may not post as many full-length reviews anymore but I’m obsessed with keeping lists so I’ll continue my monthly roundup posts.
As it’s so close to the end of the year, I’ll do what I always do for my anniversary posts & just do a short roundup of my favorite things I’ve watched & read so far this year. That means lists! So here are My Top Tens for 2018 so far (and likely to change order by the end of the year as I’m totally indecisive).
My Top Ten Books (& Short Stories) Read This Year:
A quick comment on the ones I’ve just finished & not yet reviewed: I really enjoyed Bird Box by Josh Malerman. It has been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock but the trailer looks rubbish (it looks like too much has been changed). I recommend the book to horror fans, especially if you liked A Quiet Place. And I got a nice surprise as the UK version of the book has a bonus story called Ghastle And Yule. I loved this!! If you’re a lover of films, and especially if you’re a lover of classic horror films & filmmaking, I highly recommend finding a copy of this story about two rival horror filmmakers. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author & got a nice reply. It’s great having these kind of exchanges with authors, filmmakers & actors whose work you appreciate.
A quick comment on these: I’m clearly enjoying exploring more anime as so many are in my top ten (I’ve watched loads of movies this year – the full list is HERE). And I certainly didn’t expect a martial arts film to easily be my number one so far (Bruce Lee kicks ass!). I’ll say that the Blind Spot project is worth doing each year as most of them end up being in my top ten. So far, my top three are all Blind Spot choices of mine.
A quick comment on these: I always go by UK release date so I, Tonya makes this list. It’s still my favorite, although I wouldn’t say it’s the “best” film on the list. I’ve just always been fascinated by the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan story and the movie was entertaining as hell. Plus I love dark comedy/drama. “Best” film is probably A Star Is Born. Cooper & Gaga are brilliant. Not sure if it’ll stay in second place, though. Straight drama isn’t really my thing and I probably enjoyed some others on this list a bit more. I do have the urge to move Mandy way up the list but I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if I even liked it all that much! But it’s weird and trippy and crazy as shit and looks good and sounds good and is maybe a little bit pretentious. It’s so my type of thing.
Thanks to everyone who still reads my occasional posts and my annoying lists. I do appreciate it!
I usually end these posts with a music clip so I’ll go with Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger from the thoroughly entertaining anime Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem: