Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2022

Happy New Year, Everyone! I’m really hoping that 2023 is going to be a much better year than 2022. I kept on top of my Letterboxd reviews so here are all the reviews of everything I watched in December. There are a lot as I was trying to finish watching the 2022 releases that are on services but there are still loads more that I’ve missed…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Millennium Actress – Thoroughly enjoyed this story of a legendary film actress discussing her life with two documentary filmmakers. Always like films exploring the lives of those involved in filmmaking & loved how her life story was told through her film roles. This is my third & I think probably now my favorite Satoshi Kon film. I’d highly recommend this as well as his films Tokyo Godfathers & the trippy Paprika. Will definitely be checking out Perfect Blue at some point too… – 8/10

Only Yesterday – Had to get at least one Studio Ghibli movie watched before the end of this year. I adore Ghibli but am running out of ones to watch. Think I only have five left! What will I do after that?! (I’ve ranked all I’ve seen here)

This one, of course, isn’t up there with the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis but is still a great film worthy of the studio. It’s a very grownup story and follows a young woman as her trip to the countryside brings back strong memories from when she was a fifth grade schoolgirl. I thought it portrayed very well how strong nostalgia can be and how our experiences while young can have such a strong influence on who we become as adults. Something that can seem insignificant to an adult may be something that a child coming of age will never forget. Enjoyed the scenes when she was a child the most and they gave me my own happy & sad memories from when I was that same age. Especially liked how the boys behaved & how awkward the boys & girls were around each other. The 1966 Japanese schoolkids in this behaved exactly the same as my American classmates did in the mid-80s, which put a smile on my face.

Another great film from Studio Ghibli & one of my favorite films I saw for the first time in 2022. – 8/10

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.

Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.

Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years. – 7.5/10

The Banshees Of Inisherin – Tried to end the year on a good 2022 film as I’ve been very disappointed with most of the movies released this year. I can’t say this lived up to my expectations based on the rave reviews but I did like it. It might just squeak into my top ten for the year. 

Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson & Kerry Condon are all very good in this & I can see them all being nominated for Oscars. The acting nominations would be well deserved. The film itself didn’t quite live up to the performances for me but I did like the story and the beautiful setting and that adorable donkey. I never thought I’d want a little donkey to live in my house & keep me company but I totally want that now.  

I’m adding my review now as the year is over & I just want to get this posted but I’ve not fully sorted out my feelings on this movie yet. I wanted to like it more but it’s one I think could grow on me. I liked the dark humor & the characters & not knowing where the story was going to end up. Finally something unpredictable in 2022! But it’s also a slow film & not one I think I’d watch again even though I sometimes love a depressing film. It’s just so deeply sad & I felt awful for Farrell‘s character and I’m not sure I’d want to watch him go through all that again. I’ve been dumped by friends too. It sucks. I need a donkey. 

I think In Bruges is still Martin McDonagh’s best and seeing this made me really want to rewatch that. Think this one may be just behind Three Billboards for me (they’re close) but I definitely preferred this to Seven Psychopaths. I’ll think about it a bit more. I think this may go up in my estimation but, man, it made me sad. – 7.5/10

After Yang – Was looking forward to this as I really loved Kogonada‘s film Columbus. This one isn’t as good but I still liked it as I always love slow, thinky sci-fi and never tire of the exploration of life, death & what makes us human even though that’s been done to death in this genre. After Yang doesn’t really give us anything new on those themes but, like Columbus, it’s lovely to look at & I appreciated the score from the brilliant Ryuichi Sakamoto. I’m still working on my year-end movie rankings but this will rank highly for me as it’s right up my alley. I’m sure many would find this film far too slow with very little happening but I would definitely watch any further films from Kogonada based on what I’ve seen so far. – 7.5/10

The Lodge – Really liked this slow burn psychological horror (but it’s exactly the type of thing I always enjoy). Good story and even better characters & performances. Really appreciated that the younger characters, played by Jaeden Martell & Lia McHugh, felt very real especially in their grief. Riley Keough was also great as the new fiancée the kids don’t trust. And I always love a slightly creepy doll or dollhouse. – 7/10

Men – I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror. I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained. 

Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022. – 7/10

Scream (2022) – Thought this was one of the better recent horror, um, reboots/sequels/reimaginings/requels?? But maybe my standards are just very low as I think the majority are utter shit. It might help that, while I think the first Scream is great & a horror classic, I now don’t have much memory of any of its sequels & overall just never loved Scream to the same degree as A Nightmare On Elm Street (I’m old). So I didn’t mind seeing another Scream film setting up new characters & enjoyed this much more than other recent reboots or whatever-the-hell-they-are such as Halloween & Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The killer reveal wasn’t at all surprising & the movie is pretty much just a rehash of the original Scream film but does it really matter? The new characters were fine & it will probably get a new generation into this series. I’ll certainly watch the next one but it would be great if it tried to do something a little less predictable. 

And I agree with the Jenna Ortega character’s horror movie taste. I love The Babadook too. 7/10

Studio 666 – This looked like it would be bad bad instead of good bad so I had low expectations even though I love Dave Grohl & heavy metal & horror comedies. This movie was a blast. It’s not GREAT bad, like Road House, but it’s pure cheesy horror comedy fun. The acting was gloriously atrocious and you could tell that these guys must have had so many laughs while making this. It was also great seeing Taylor Hawkins (RIP) goofing off with Dave once again. A couple of the kills were hilariously inventive and I loved the movie band Dream Widow’s music (recorded by Grohl as a whole metal album because there’s nothing that dude can’t do). – 7/10

Troll – This film follows every monster movie cliché imaginable… Which is EXACTLY what I want from a monster movie. It also has really likeable characters, funny nerds, a cute military guy and, most importantly, Norwegians & a massive troll. Therefore, I enjoyed it much more than most current Hollywood monster movies. – 7/10

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Enjoyed this but Knives Out was far superior so I did find it disappointing. It felt like it was trying too hard to be “wacky” and was just a bit too silly for me. The mystery also felt like an afterthought as the focus was more on how many big name stars they could get to play caricatures. This is sounding way more negative than it should… Glass Onion was fine. It was fun. It was just a little too goofy. I’d happily watch another Knives Out Mystery, though. I just want the next one to be more like the first film. – 6.5/10

Marry Me – I liked this fine. Was better than I was expecting considering I didn’t even know it existed. Why have romcoms like this completely disappeared from cinemas? Not my favorite genre but I do miss these kind of movies from when they were mainstream & had big stars like in this one. Jennifer Lopez is good as a famous pop star (okay, not much of a stretch) who decides to marry random dude Owen Wilson in the audience at one of her concerts. The relationship is believable enough and they have surprisingly decent chemistry even though Lopez is entirely out of Wilson’s league. Still like Maid In Manhattan more but this was an enjoyably predictable romcom that I shouldn’t have discovered buried on one of my streaming services. – 6.5/10

A Christmas Story Christmas – Being an American of a certain age, A Christmas Story is a Christmas Classic to me. I still clearly remember going to see it in the cinema when it was released & remember how much my dad & the audience were loving it. Was a little heartbroken when I moved to the U.K. and found that no one here likes it or even knows of it (my hubby hates it). So I was kind of excited to see a sequel all these years later but of course also very nervous as it had the potential to go very wrong. 

I’d say it hasn’t done any damage to the original but, as with most of these sort of sequels, it also didn’t feel necessary. It was nice seeing so many of the original cast again in the same roles. Julie Hagerty replacing Melinda Dillon threw me out of things a bit, though. She was fine – I just hate different actors playing the same character. I had enough of that in American soap operas. The fan service scenes, and there were a lot, were fine by me. It’s a Christmas favorite & people just want to see the same thing again. To do anything too different from the original is too much of a risk with something like this so they played it very safe. It makes it a little boring, though. It’s pleasant & heartwarming & of course Christmassy but I’d feel no need to watch it again. I’ll stick with rewatching the original if I want to get into the Christmas spirit. – 6.5/10

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande – I wish Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually could have had a Leo Grande. Thompson & Daryl McCormack are great together in this and he’s so damn handsome. A pleasurable film. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. – 7/10

Barbarian – Damn. Another big 2022 disappointment. This was an odd one. I wanted to love it as I liked the look of that cool red poster, it sounded like it would be the weird & unpredictable sort of horror I love, and Bill Skarsgård is my new favorite Skarsgård. The film started out great. It was unsettling & I was intrigued as to what might be going on plus Georgina Campbell & Bill Skarsgård were both really good in this. I liked it a lot & was really digging its vibe. And then Justin Long’s annoying character showed up & the entire thing went completely off the rails until that absolute train wreck of an ending. 

I’m struggling with what to rate this one as I’m honestly not sure if I absolutely hated this movie or if I actually kind of liked it for indeed being slightly weird & unpredictable. I’m always complaining that too many horror movies are boring & unoriginal so I have to give this one credit for being a bit different. But it really feels like two or three movies spliced up & stuck together and I so wish the whole film had managed to live up to its start. At the very least, I’ll say I’d certainly watch another movie from Zach Cregger as I’d be interested to see what else he has to offer. – 6/10

Shiva Baby – Another movie that didn’t live up to its cool poster. I do like dark comedy revolving around awkward social situations as I can always relate to being socially awkward so I enjoyed some of that here & really liked the parents. But I do struggle with characters who are just a little too unlikeable & self-absorbed so that was a bit frustrating. Rachel Sennott was very good in this, though – I’d be interested in seeing her in another role. I thought the film was well acted, it portrayed the pressure so often put on us by friends & family accurately, and it had an interesting score from what I can remember. It’s the type of film I can say I appreciated more than actually enjoyed. A “worth a one-time watch” movie for me. – 6.5/10

Your Christmas Or Mine? – Wow, I didn’t realise there were so many Christmas romance movies. This one was cute enough, with a young couple deciding last minute to each go to the other person’s house for Christmas & then getting stranded & having to spend it with people they’d not yet met. Hilarity ensues! The girl’s family were really likeable & the story was extremely predictable but that’s what you want from a Christmas romcom, right? Worth watching once to get into the Christmas spirit but not one I’d add to my list of movies to watch every December. 6/10

Uncharted – An inoffensive & forgettable Indiana Jones crossed with The Goonies. But, you know, not nearly as good or as enjoyable as either of those. It passed the time. I saw it about a week ago & I’m already forgetting what happened in it besides some really dodgy OTT action shit involving planes & flying ships. – 6/10

My Father’s Dragon – This was fine. It’s very “cute” and aimed quite young, which is a shame as it won’t appeal to all ages as much. I found the story a bit messy. The dragon was funny but in that borderline annoying kind of way (reminded me of Olaf from Frozen). Didn’t realize until finishing that it was a Cartoon Saloon film. It has some nice animation but it’s not in the same league as others from the studio such as The Secret Of Kells & Wolfwalkers. – 6/10

The Bad Guys – Shouldn’t say much about this as I had it on while wrapping some gifts so admit I wasn’t paying much attention. It seemed like a decent enough heist movie with an extremely predictable story & villain but was probably fun for kids while also being fairly entertaining for their parents. Can’t say it made me want to stop what I was doing to fully watch it or to bother rewatching it at any point. I liked the snake dressed like he was in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, though. – 6/10

About Fate – A romcom as predictable as expected but the setup at the start of the movie was cute enough. The characters had okay chemistry but the Emma Roberts character was too flaky for me to like and everyone kept making annoyingly bad decisions. There’s also a hateful influencer but at least she’s seen as the shallow baddie. The coat story was nice, though. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10

Rosaline – I’ve clearly been trying to watch what I can of 2022 releases on services before this year ends. This was fine but yet another film I only watched as it’s a 2022 film on services & I’m not going to the cinema anymore to see what I most want to see. I’ve watched way too many movies that I wouldn’t have even bothered watching in the cinema. Depressing.

I appreciated the story in this, though. At least it felt original, which I can’t say of many current films. But I found most the characters slightly annoying including Kaitlyn Dever’s, who was fine in the role, but I’m not really a fan of any of her work that I’ve seen. To be fair, as I was watching this to “cross it off a list” at the last minute before the New Year, I probably didn’t give it much of a chance & wasn’t giving it my full attention. I just wish I could’ve seen more of the movies I really wanted to see in 2022. – 5.5/10

The Northman – Tweeted five minutes into watching this thing that “I don’t have the patience for this shit”. And now I don’t have the patience for this review. That’s three Robert Eggers films I’ve suffered through now & I still can’t figure out what everyone sees in them. But I’ve decided that Bill Skarsgård is my favorite Skarsgård. – 5/10

Zola – Knew this was based on a Twitter thread so figured it must be a fascinating story to have been made into a movie. I was bored & the characters were annoying as hell. I’ve read many Twitter threads that were far more interesting than this story. It felt like this wanted to be a “smart” Spring Breakers (which I enjoyed for some bizarre reason) but this just felt even more shallow & pointless. To sound less negative, I’ll say that Taylour Paige & Riley Keough were good in the roles. But I couldn’t wait for the film to end. And then it didn’t even give us a proper ending anyway… – 5/10

White Noise – I’ve not logged this film on Letterboxd as I didn’t watch it but it’s worth a mention here. I’ll watch any old shit & in my desperation to see more 2022 releases that I can watch at home, I put this on despite already knowing I tend to hate Noah Baumbach films. Think I managed maybe fifteen minutes? Good Lord, this thing was fucking unwatchable. Absolute torture. It’s not often that I completely give up on a movie so it’s getting the first ever Cinema Parrot Disco zero rating – 0/10

Shorts & Specials Watched In December:

Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery – This was pretty dumb.

Rewatched some of my usual Christmas favorites: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol & Home Alone.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN DECEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Alice In Borderland: S2 – I complained a bit about season 1 of this as, while it started out very strong, I didn’t like the final few episodes when the focus was no longer on the games & they spent far too long on unimportant & annoying characters. But this show really picked up again in season two & I ended up liking this entire show a lot. In fact, we’ve started rewatching it again from the start as it’s the kind of story where, once you get the full explanation (which you luckily DO), it’s good to rewatch from the start with a new perspective. Good stuff. Glad season two got back to the games, some of which were really cool, and back to characters we actually care about. Highly recommend if you liked Squid Game (but that one is still superior).

The White Lotus: S2 E6-7 – Really enjoyed both seasons of this. I think the first season was a bit better but this one was still good too & the characters were great. Loved Jennifer Coolidge in both of these. Hope we get another season…

Wednesday: S1 E2-8 – Liked this show just fine. Daughter was very into it. I’d watch more if they did another season. I saw way too much of Jenna Ortega in December, though.

Cabinet Of Curiosities: S1 E1-2 – First two episodes were okay but I wasn’t blown away. Will watch the rest when I get time.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: S1 E4-5 – Still working my way through this. Really like the two brothers but the girl is such an odd character.

The Peripheral: S1 E1 – Forgot I’d watched this. I’m intrigued but hope it gets better?

BOOKS READ

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Okay, I read another YA book but I don’t care – I like them. And I really liked this one & thought it was one of the better YA books I’ve read in quite a while. The twins were great & complex characters and I like how the story was told from their perspectives at different points in their lives. Good stuff. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.” – 4/5

I’m currently halfway through Fairy Tale by Stephen King & really enjoying it.

Blog Plans For The Coming Month:

Will try to post all my year end ranked lists this week if I have the energy. Very disappointing year for new movies.

I feel like I should end this post with something from the Studio 666 band Dream Widow. Happy New Year!

Columbus (2017) Review

Columbus (2017)

Directed & Written by Kogonada

Starring: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Michelle Forbes, Rory Culkin, Parker Posey

Cinematography by Elisha Christian

Music by Hammock

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows the son of a renowned architecture scholar (John Cho) who gets stranded in Columbus, Indiana and strikes up a friendship with a young architecture enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) who works at the local library.

My Opinion:

This popped up on Amazon Prime U.K. & I’d never really heard anything about it. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try! I thought it was a beautiful film. I’d have to say it’s probably even my favorite film I’ve seen (for the first time) so far in 2022. And I watched it just after finally seeing Spielberg’s West Side Story. Both are lovely films to look at but this one moved me more.

This is one of those films that people will either love or will find extremely boring. So I’m not recommending this to everyone (Film Miasma – you’ll probably want to avoid this one). 🙂 It’s about a very bright & promising girl (Haley Lu Richardson) with a deep love of architecture who stays in her town of Columbus, Indiana to take care of her mother instead of going to college & pursuing her dreams. She then meets John Cho’s character, who is the son of a famous architect who was due to give a lecture in the town. He doesn’t share his father’s love of architecture but sees how much it means to Richardson’s character and, like everyone else in her life, thinks she needs to move on with her life & make something of all her potential.

I have to say that I have pretty much no interest in architecture whatsoever. Well, that’s maybe not entirely true as I do find the design of some buildings very interesting (and think a lot are ugly, like cities with too many skyscrapers). But I have no knowledge whatsoever about architecture. I do know that Frank Lloyd Wright was from my home state not far from where I grew up & he’s really famous, right? For me, this is one of those films that really conveys someone’s love for something & has you understanding how they feel and, hell, I think I fell in love with architecture a little bit too by the end of the movie. I think her character also gets Cho’s character starting to understand his father a bit better despite not having a great history with him.

I think both Cho & Richardson were very good in this film but Richardson especially shines. I know she’s done plenty of other movies but, based on this role, I’m surprised she hasn’t become bigger in the more “Oscar-friendly” type of roles. Speaking of which, this feels exactly like the type of thing that the Academy normally goes for so I don’t understand how it got no nominations that year? At least for cinematography & directing if nothing else? Really?! Was it just too indie? Maybe I just know nothing about anything and I admit to knowing nothing about filmmaking but this has a real Nomadland (as in, that sort of Oscar nominee) vibe. But I liked this one far more than that one. It looks like it did get plenty of Independent Spirit Award nominations, so that’s good, and lots of others for awards I’ve never heard of (9 wins & 32 nominations). Oh, and Indie Queen Parker Posey is also in this & I liked her character too.

I wanted to do this review as a separate post since there are so many lovely images from this movie that I wanted to include. As far as its look, it reminded me of the beginning of the movie Swallow (although that’s a very different film). Something about the lighting or cinematography or something. I don’t know but that had a lovely house in it with lots of windows & natural light & I just really liked the look of both movies. Also, I didn’t give the music much thought while watching this but later realised the score was quite peaceful & I think helped give this movie, along with the cinematography, a calm sort of vibe that I appreciated. So I looked up who did the score & it was done by Hammock. Here they are on Wikipedia – they’ve done a lot of “Ambient, post-rock, shoegazing” music. Shoegazing?! I’d not heard of that genre before. I had to look it up! Here you go (from Wikipedia again).

Well, I liked this movie a lot but would totally understand if someone didn’t like it. It’s definitely not for everyone but I thought it was a lovely looking film with well written & likeable characters who all worked really well together. Happy I checked it out & am not sure why I’d heard nothing about it at the time.

My Rating: 8/10