My Blog’s September 2016 Recap

Happy October, everyone! Starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting only horror reviews & top tens for all of October. I sincerely apologize to all who’ve been leaving comments – I fell weeks behind on answering as September was so busy plus I was ill & not up to blogging for a while. I’ve been preparing my October posts all year long, though, so I’m hoping I’ll have a bit of spare time to actually finally read some blogs through the month. I always enjoy all the horror-related posts so many blogs do through all of October. And I’ll definitely keep up on replying to comments. 🙂

As for my September posts, I didn’t do a lot due to lack of time so it was convenient that someone finally sent me an IMDB Top 250 guest review to post! The review was for The Graduate from Satu of Fairytale Pictures. Thanks again, Satu!

Now let’s do my September recap…

POSTS

My Most Popular Post: My Top Ten Keanu Reeves Movies. Wow! I didn’t realize that Keanu Reeves was so popular. I do these actor top ten lists a lot (because they’re quick & easy posts) and it’s interesting to see the reaction they get. Some get hardly any comments while others go crazy. The Keanu Reeves one had loads of shares & comments here and on Twitter. That’s cool – I’m glad he’s so well liked! I’ve always been a fan.

My Favorite Post: My Top Ten Chocolate Bars. It’s not often that I post about something other than movies, books or music so this was a fun little top ten to throw together. What’s YOUR favorite chocolate bar? (Spoiler: Mine is 3 Musketeers)

MOVIES REVIEWED

My Most Popular Movie Review: The Purge: Election Year. This makes me happy as I think The Purge films are underrated.

I’d also like to mention the movie The Girl With All The Gifts, which I just reviewed a few days ago. Doesn’t seem well known but I really enjoyed it. It’s like 28 Days Later crossed with Warm Bodies and, hmm… World War Z?

All Movies Reviewed (ranked best to worst):
The Girl With All The Gifts
The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
The Purge: Election Year
The Shallows
Sausage Party
San Andreas
Pixels

MOVIES WATCHED

In Cinema (ranked best to worst):
The Girl With All The Gifts
The Purge: Election Year
The Shallows
Sausage Party
Don’t Breathe (I’ll review this next week – I saved it for Horror Month)

At Home (ranked best to worst):
Magic
Song Of The Sea
Kelly & Cal
Ted 2
Baby Boom
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
Eleanor’s Secret
Trainwreck
The Scorch Trials

TOP TEN LISTS
Top Ten Keanu Reeves Movies
Top Ten Adam Sandler Movies
Top Ten Patrick Swayze Movies
Top Ten Michael Douglas Movies
Top Ten Chocolate Bars

SEARCH TERMS

My Top Search Term: “Martin Scorsese Fan Art“. Weird – I’m pretty sure I’ve never posted any Martin Scorsese fan art? But I do post a lot of movie fan art & I did a list of My Top Ten Martin Scorsese Movies so I guess that’s why that search term led to my blog. Well, for whoever was looking for it, here’s some cool fan art by artist Scott Campbell for Gangs Of New York (I’ve not seen that movie). You can see this & more Martin Scorsese fan art here: Moviecitizens.com

My Favorite Search Term: I don’t know… Maybe “scary movie panties“. I’m just picturing a horror movie with a pair of scary panties that go around killing people by strangling them. It’s possible – there was that crazy movie Rubber about a car tire (or tyre in the UK) that went around killing people! But I’m assuming that some perv was just looking for photos of girls in panties in horror movies. Hmm. Go watch Aliens, you pervs. Or, yeah, Odd Thomas… That’s the post to blame for all the “panties” searching.

Here are my top search terms for the month:


BOOKS

Books I Reviewed: The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker and The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Book I Finished Reading: 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Books I Started Reading: In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (but I got bored with it & started Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel instead, which is great so far)

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

October Horror Month!!!

I don’t know why I so look forward to doing horror movie reviews each October. It’s not exactly my favorite genre & there have been sooooo few good horror movies since about 1987. By the end of October, I’m thoroughly sick of doing horror reviews! But they’re usually fun reviews to write (especially when a horror film is bad or silly).

I’ll be having a “Killer Dolls Week” one week in October, in which I’ll review one of my 2016 Blind Spot Movies (Magic). I’ll also kick off & end October with two more Blind Spot reviews as I chose three horror movies for that. I’m planning a week of reviewing films directed by Mike Flanagan (I’ll try to make it to see Ouija: Origin Of Evil), I’m posting two reviews of comedy horror films from New Zealand, and I’ll post top ten lists as usual every Thursday which will of course be horror-themed.

Upcoming Movies:

There aren’t a lot of movies coming out in October that I’m bothered about seeing, which I suppose is good as I won’t have time anyway. 😦

The Girl On The Train comes out this coming week (on the 5th). I love Emily Blunt so I read the book in preparation for the movie but I hated the book so much that I may not bother with the movie now. Damn. You can read my review of the book HERE.

The kid really wants to see Trolls so I’m sure she’ll drag me to that & to Storks. Ouija: Origin Of Evil looks like it could be okay or totally rubbish but I’m going to try to watch it as I’m reviewing three other Mike Flanagan movies in October. Maybe I’ll also watch Doctor Strange if reviews are excellent but I’ve managed to miss every big superhero movie released this year so far that it seems kind of pointless to try to catch up now.

Okay – here are two I just discovered when looking up October releases: What’s Max Steel? Hmm… Could be interesting. And there’s a South Korean zombie movie coming out called Train To Busan?? That sounds like a “me” movie! Bet it shows nowhere near me…

The music clip I’ll end with this month is Cyndi Lauper’s All Through The Night, which features in the movie Kelly & Cal starring Juliette Lewis. I watched this a couple of weeks ago – I really liked it & thought Lewis did a good job. I didn’t like Juliette Lewis when I was younger but I’m finally starting to like her in recent years after loving Whip It & finally seeing Natural Born Killers. And I of course love Cyndi Lauper. 🙂

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Natural Born Killers (1994) Blind Spot Review

Natural Born Killers (1994)

Directed by Oliver Stone

Story by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A satirical black comedy crime film that tells the story of two victims of traumatic childhoods who became lovers and mass murderers, and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

My Opinion:

Here we are with movie number three of my 2016 Blind Spot picks. I can’t believe I’ve actually managed to review one each month so far! (the previous two were An Education & Summer Wars). Other than The Doors & Platoon, I can’t say I’ve really liked any Oliver Stone films all that much so I went into this one with fairly low expectations. Plus, I’ve never exactly loved either Woody Harrelson or Juliette Lewis. Well, I have to say that I liked this one quite a bit and both those actors have gone up a little in my estimation (22 years later!).

I suppose it helps that Quentin Tarantino wrote the story? He wasn’t involved with the actual screenplay (I read that they changed his story quite a lot) but this movie has the overall vibe of the films he directed – not just in the extreme violence, of course, but also in the rich characters & dialogue.

I think it’s difficult to make a satire on our obsession with violence that then uses excessive violence to get its point across. Does this movie glorify violence just as much as it claims the media does, thanks to shows such as the film’s American Maniacs as hosted by Robert Downey Jr’s character? I read that, at first, this movie was going to be a straight-up action film before Stone decided to turn it into a satirical black comedy. I think changing the direction of the movie was a very wise decision. Actually, this is what I read at Wikipedia – I can see why he changed his mind:

“As the project developed however, incidents such as the O.J. Simpson case, the Menendez brothers case, the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, the Rodney King incident, and the Federal assault of the Branch Davidian sect all took place. Stone came to feel that the media was heavily involved in the outcome of all of these cases, and that the media had become an all-pervasive entity which marketed violence and suffering for the good of ratings. As such, he changed the tone of the movie from one of simple action to a satirical critique of the media in general.”

I think the movie very much gets its point across and is even more relevant today as violence seems to be at an all-time high but, also, scenes of graphic violence are even more immediately accessible now than in 1994 thanks to the explosion of the Internet. It’s not some true-crime TV show (hosted by Downey Jr with, I gotta say, a really annoying fake Australian accent) that we have to worry about these days. Hell, American Maniacs looks like a Saturday morning kids’ cartoon compared to today’s video games & torture porn films never mind the disturbing clips of real-life violence which are far too readily available online thanks to everyone having their own damn video cameras in their phones. (Off Topic Rant: Man, I love my phone but wish I could time travel back to 1985 when peoples’ private lives weren’t being constantly recorded & uploaded for all to see. Kardashian-free 1980’s life sounds like a damn utopia now! Rant Over). So, Natural Born Killers is more relevant today but also wouldn’t actually work if made now as it’s no longer satire. Watching it now was quite scary, in a way, as I imagine it felt far-fetched in 1994? Now it just feels like one of those Making A Murderer type of true story documentaries that are so popular on Netflix.

I’m actually a huge wuss when it comes to violence in movies (I watch Tarantino’s with my hands over my face half the time) but am more accepting when the movie has a message like I feel this one does. There’s lots of blood in this but I was able to watch it all as it’s not as “gory” as Tarantino-directed films (which do glorify violence but are so cleverly written that I can’t help but love them anyway as a fan of film). Will someone go on a murder spree after watching this? Maybe. But someone who does that would’ve done that anyway whether or not they’d watched a violent movie or played a violent video game.

Oh crap – I really didn’t want to get into a deep discussion about the film’s message and about whether the media has a responsibility to humanity to not glorify violence and blah blah blah. That’s one of those arguments that can go around in circles for an eternity. All I’ll say is: Society is fucked. The media – including movies, TV, video games, websites – is just a reflection of society. It gives us what we seem to want based on our behavior. I think Natural Born Killers displays that logic perfectly but it’s a shame that its message, although extremely blatant, seemed to not be fully grasped by everyone at the time.

I think what worked for me with this movie besides the film’s message was its style. I loved the psychedelic scenes and Stone’s use of different colors. I thought the I Love Lucy sitcom-style scenes involving Rodney Dangerfield as the abusive father of Juliette Lewis were very inventive and the scene in the rattlesnake-filled desert was trippy. Hell, I even found the “marriage on the bridge” scene oddly romantic in a messed-up way. That’s the thing – I think most people watching this movie find themselves liking Lewis’ & Harrelson’s Mickey & Mallory despite the fact that they’re psychotic killers with no remorse. But that’s the whole point, of course. The media in the movie makes them stars and the movie itself has made their fictional characters stars. By the end, you want Mickey & Mallory to live happily ever after and THAT is truly fucked-up. That’s how good the movie is, though – it turns us into the Mickey & Mallory-worshipping audience of American Maniacs.

My Rating: 8/10

Kids From Classic Christmas Films – Where Are They Now?

I knew what had happened to most of these “Christmas movie kids” but there are a few interesting facts in this NME article HERE.

I figured I should mention Jake Lloyd as I hear there’s some new Star Wars movie coming out this week (which, by the way, I will try to review here on Thursday afternoon if I can stay awake long enough to write something about it!). The Phantom Menace was disappointing but, to be fair, I have to say that Jingle All The Way was far worse. I don’t think I ever even bothered to watch that all the way through. Well, the last any of us heard of Jake Lloyd was when he was arrested for reckless driving this year. Hopefully he can sort his life out – it’s a shame how fame ruins the lives of so many child stars.

It’s surprising that Nicholas Hoult has ended up being one of the more successful “Christmas movie kids” (he was in About A Boy. was that a Christmas movie?? I clearly don’t remember it now). You can’t top being in Mad Max: Fury Road! Peter Billingsley (from A Christmas Story) is strangely attractive now & we all know Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone!) went a bit weird but I loved this little tidbit: “He rarely acts these days, but recently took to the stage in his pizza themed Velvet Underground cover band, The Pizza Underground.” Ha! Seriously? Do they do a song called “I’m Waiting For The Pizza Delivery Man“?

Well, you can also read about Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Taylor Momsen (from The Grinch – probably my most hated movie of all time), Corey Feldman, Kieran Culkin, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Olivia Olson, Mara Wilson, Eric Lloyd, and Daryl Christopher Sabara HERE.

Oh – and I have to quickly mention this: Apparently, these life-sized Victorian dolls are roaming around London to promote some new Derren Brown attraction opening in Thorpe Park. Egads! NO THANK YOU!!!! Creepy as hell.

CPD Classics: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Review

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) by ME!

Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Chevy Chase
Beverly D’Angelo
Randy Quaid
Juliette Lewis
Johnny Galecki
John Randolph
Diane Ladd
E.G. Marshall
Doris Roberts
William Hickey
Mae Questel
Miriam Flynn
Nicholas Guest
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The Griswolds decide to stay home for Christmas. And this “vacation” is the funniest by far.

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My Opinion:

I love Christmas movies. When I was younger and had time, I’d watch loads of them through all of December. It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, etc etc… I don’t have the time for that these days but there are TWO Christmas movies I still try to watch every December without fail: Scrooged and, of course, this.

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I don’t think I need to go into this one too much – I’d be very surprised if anyone has actually not seen it. By far the best of the “Vacation” films, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation may not be It’s A Wonderful Life but is certainly every bit as much an American Christmas Classic. What I’ve always loved about it is that it SO accurately portrays a fairly typical American Christmas with crazy family (although of course exaggerated for comedic effect). I’m not sure if this one is as successful outside of the US – I WILL admit that it’s very “American”. My British hubby has never been able to relate to this one in the same way that I can and, since living in the UK, I’ve seen that Christmas is quite different here. But that’s probably made me love this movie even more – I can put it on each December and get all warm & fuzzy remembering my Christmases as a kid.

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The other thing I’ve always loved about this movie is that it’s actually REALLY EFFING FUNNY!!! Comedy isn’t exactly my favorite movie genre as there are so few that I’ve found funny over the years. But Christmas Vacation is hilarious. The mishaps with the Christmas lights, the crazy old aunt & uncle, the squirrel, the dry turkey, the cat getting fried, Danny Fucking Kaye, “it is a bit nipply out”, the snobby neighbors, the Star-Spangled Banner, Hallelujah! Holy shit! And, of course…. Cousin Eddie. How awesome is Randy Quaid in this movie? “Shitter was full!”. That’s right, James Stewart – I love you and Zuzu’s petals & your “Attaboy, Clarence” and all that but nothing beats “Shitter was full” when it comes to the all-time best Christmas movie quotes.

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Summary:

This movie never fails to cheer me up. I can’t imagine a Christmas going by without me watching it. It’s very American which makes me feel all nostalgic, it’s funny as hell, and it actually has a lot of heart without being annoyingly saccharine like most Christmas movies are. These are the reasons why National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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**I could only track down the above poster art to Pinterest HERE. And I looooove this piece of artwork from artist Jude Buffum (site HERE).

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Diane of Tvor Travels. Thanks for another review, Diane! This is her second National Lampoon’s review after European Vacation. Now let’s hear her thoughts on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. 🙂

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The Griswold family are back for a third go-round and this time it’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Christmas also lends itself to a lot of stress, financially and emotionally and this year, Clark has the pressure of both.

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The fun starts with the Christmas tree hunt, skids into both sets of in-laws on full-bicker bode, Cousin Eddie and the whole family on board, complete with RV, and Clark’s over the top, wayyyy over the top light display on the house. Never mind being able to see it from space, you could see it on the other end of the universe. When it works, and when it doesn’t power down the whole city.

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Clark is determined he’s going to give everyone a memorable Christmas ever and, well, giving your family the Best Christmas Ever is fraught with its own pressures. and he does, but not quite the way he expected. His bonus at work is late and he’d hoped to use it to give his family an in ground pool but the bonus doesn’t materialize. Poor Clark, things go from bad to worse to utter chaos as usual and as usual, he feels like everyone is against him. But at rock bottom, when the the family name is defended against the insensitive boss, in the end, everyone’s happy but in the middle there are some really funny scenes as well as a few touching ones. In the end Clark gets back the Christmas spirit just when he’s run dry.

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This, for me, is even funnier than the first Vacation movie and is my favourite. The giant tree, the dry turkey, the fate of the cat, the bickering relatives with high expectations, the blindingly bright light display are all just a taste of what will tickle every bone in your funny. Even just the little scenes with a joke like sticky fingers had superb timing. The writing seems to sparkle, even more than the first Vacation movie. There are sweet scenes where Clark is watching old home movies in the loft and helping a little girl believe in Santa. There are manic ones like his rant about his boss, the toboggan ride, and the squirrel hunt. you can see Clark’s heart is as big as all outdoors and he can’t turn anyone away if he can give them a Christmas that’s special.

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The European Vacation movie suffered for not having buffer characters like Cousin Eddie (played by the wonderful scene-stealing Randy Quaid), the snobby neighbours and the in-laws and you really notice that in this movie where Clark can bounce off any number of wonderful characters, careening from crisis to crisis, supporting by his long suffering wife, played again by Beverly D’Angelo and by his son and daughter, Audrey and Rusty, recast again for this movie, this by by Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki as Audrey and Rusty in the best incarnations yet.

This movie quickly became a Christmas classic and they probably should have stopped the franchise here on a high note.

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The Basketball Diaries (1995) Review

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The Basketball Diaries (1995)

Directed by Scott Kalvert

Starring:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Lorraine Bracco
Marilyn Sokol
James Madio
Patrick McGaw
Mark Wahlberg
Roy Cooper
Bruno Kirby
Alexander Chaplin
Juliette Lewis
Michael Imperioli
Michael Rapaport
Ernie Hudson
Manny Alfaro
Cynthia Daniel
Brittany Daniel
Jim Carrol

Running time: 103 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American drama film directed by Scott Kalvert, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, and Mark Wahlberg. It is based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Jim Carroll. The film centres around Jim Carroll (DiCaprio), a promising teenage basketball player who develops an addiction to heroin with his misguided friends.

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My Opinion:

I’d always heard that Leonardo DiCaprio was amazing in this film & have been meaning to watch it for years. Unfortunately, I found this movie pretty disappointing. Leo is good but I really wasn’t missing much by waiting so long to see this.

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First of all – hey, I didn’t know Leonardo DiCaprio & Mark Wahlberg had been in a film together before The Departed! Their acting has definitely improved since The Basketball Diaries (especially Wahlberg’s). They’re both fine in this but it still felt a little bit like young actors playing at being drug addicts. However, at least they were close to the ages they were playing and were believable as high schoolers (I assume they were in their 20s but it’s not like they were 40 playing 17 like in Grease). And I’ve sort of forgotten how “pretty” Leo once was now that he’s aged & really proven himself as an actor. Man he looks young in this! I know it took him years to shake off the pretty boy thing, which wasn’t really fair as he’s an excellent actor. Is he as good in this as people say? I’d say he’s definitely showing major promise here. It’s a shame the movie itself probably lets him down a bit.

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As for the movie… I’m not sure what it is that I found disappointing. I think, for one thing, it hasn’t aged well. It’s a 1995 movie but actually feels older. I don’t know if maybe it didn’t have a massive budget? And as I’ve said, for some reason I didn’t really buy into these pretty young actors as drug addicts. I also felt like the movie was trying too hard to be “cool” and stylish but it didn’t really work. I watched this last week & can only really remember two scenes well (a good one and one that’s notorious). After the death of a friend (minor spoiler but not really), the friends play basketball in the rain. That was a really good scene. But I’d completely forgotten why this film later became so controversial until I got to the school shooting scene. Yikes! WAY too similar to things that would happen four years later. And then again. And again. And again. And again…. But I digress!

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Summary:

The Basketball Diaries has had pretty good word of mouth over the years but I think, in some cases, people are remembering a movie they liked when younger but haven’t watched since. I can definitely see people my sort of age having a soft spot for it if they saw it at the time but it hasn’t aged well. Leo’s performance is very good, though, and the main reason to bother seeing this now if you haven’t already (I’d definitely recommend it to DiCaprio fans). But I just didn’t find the actors believable as drug addicts (which I don’t think was the fault of the actors themselves). The movie makes its biggest mistake in, I think, not making any of the characters very sympathetic. If the characters are unlikeable, you’re not going to care about them and the drug addiction that’s destroying their lives. I don’t know… It’s not a bad film & is worth a watch just to see Leo but it could have done a better job telling the story.

My Rating: 6/10

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