Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2022

Hi all. I’m behind. Life is shitty. Thank god for movies! Wish more of them were better, though. Well, most of these weren’t too bad. Here’s what I watched back in August…

MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):

Top Gun: Maverick – Finally managed to make it to see this. Have liked Top Gun since going to see it in 1986 so was excited to see what Maverick was going to be like all these years later (and if he was still as cocky).

Thought this was a great sequel. They stayed very true to his character and, although there’s admittedly lots of fan service, I thought it was all done very well & will have put a smile on the face of old Top Gun fans while also being just as enjoyable for a new generation. They even managed to get sweaty men playing sexy sweaty sports together again! Jennifer Connelly looked fantastic, the new generation of pilots were a lot of fun, and Tom Cruise proved once again that he’s a true old school movie star (I miss those). And their mission was great, edge of your seat action.

The film may have been a little overhyped but I think that’s because we get so few truly great blockbuster action films these days (that don’t involve superheroes…). Growing up in the ‘80s still has me expecting to get movies like this one all the time. Where did they go? They seem to have disappeared along with the really good rom-coms. Man, I miss movies. – 8/10

Easter Parade – Finally exploring more of Judy Garland’s work & she was again a delight to watch in this. What a fantastic performer she was. And it made me realise that I’ve also shockingly not seen much of Fred Astaire‘s work either so I really need to change that. Some fun numbers in this one, especially Steppin’ Out With My Baby, We’re A Couple Of Swells & the one with Astaire dancing in the shop with the drums. Good stuff! Kind of glad I’m too broke to watch many current films so am watching a lot of older ones which put all the modern movies to shame. – 7.5/10

Prey – This was surprisingly good. I’m not like “Oh my god this is the best thing EVER and better than the first film!” like some people. What?! No way. But I’m glad people enjoyed it. I think we’re all just happy to get a straight-to-streaming film that doesn’t suck. For me, it’s my third favorite Predator film but far superior to those I’d rank after it. Sorry, I really like Predator 2! But it was great to get what felt like a fresh take on an existing story. I guess that’s the most we can hope for these days, although I’d still prefer more entirely original standalone films.

Enjoyed Amber Midthunder’s performance & of course liked seeing a strong female lead in a role that worked perfectly & didn’t feel forced (I hate forced “girl power”). Liked that it didn’t wuss out on the violence either. I might moan a bit less about sequels if they were at least as good as this one. But I also have to admit that I’d probably not watch this one again – I’d rather just rewatch the first film. – 7.5/10

Thirteen Lives – This was really good & I think Ron Howard is great at making these kind of films. Even knowing the true story & how it ended, it was intense watching that amazing rescue. What a horrible ordeal. My only complaint is that we didn’t get to know the boys at all. I wanted more stories from their lives the way they gave us some backstories of the rescuers. Was disappointed that we didn’t even see the boys for a very long time after they disappeared. I thought we’d see more of their time together in the cave & what they had to go through while trapped & not knowing if anyone would ever find them. The movie is quite long so I think they could have easily had much more character development & a little less time spent on all the technical details of the rescue. Preparing for the rescue was of course fascinating but also something we can all read about as it was such a big story when it happened. – 7.5/10

Lightyear – I adore Pixar so wasn’t sure what to expect of this one as I knew it would feel quite different from other Pixar films. I liked it far more than recent releases Turning Red, Luca & Onward but far less (of course) than Pixar’s very best films which are all-time favorite movies of mine. I do miss the days when Pixar could do no wrong. 

I did enjoy this, though, and didn’t mind that it didn’t feel like Pixar to me. I keep going back & forth on my rating – I think it’s one I could do with watching again to see if my opinion changes but I originally gave it 3.5/5 on Letterboxd as I loved the cat Sox & really liked the sweet family moments with Buzz Lightyear’s second in command & her granddaughter. At least one or two scenes involving the granddaughter contained those “touching moments” that only Pixar can do so well. So those things originally earned this movie an extra half a star but, storywise, this wasn’t anything that special and certainly not as brilliantly inventive as things like Monsters, Inc & Toy Story. And I love sci-fi so I enjoyed the setting but was still a little bored by the story & also not a fan of the ending & the villain. 

I don’t know. Still a little undecided on this one. Think I’ll definitely try to watch it again soon. If I do decide to give it an extra half star, it’ll mainly be for Sox. So at least Pixar still know how to give us a fun sidekick. Will also see if its ranking changes but for now this is my full Pixar ranking. – 7/10

I Lost My Body – This was good. Some lovely animation but incredibly sad. Telling the lead character’s story from the perspective of his severed hand was certainly unique & I liked that. Although I spent the whole time hoping it was somehow someone else’s hand when it was so obviously his but, damn, I just wanted a happy ending for this poor guy! Thought the girl was far too hard on him & that what he did was very sweet. Probably deserves a higher rating but was just too much of a downer for me, which I could do without at the moment. But I appreciate the originality in its storytelling. – 7/10

Frenzy – I became a fan of Alfred Hitchcock at a very young age when I saw Rear Window as well as the TV shows he presented, which I adored along with The Twilight Zone. But for whatever reason I had never seen Frenzy. Possibly because it appealed to me the least as I’m not a fan of serial killer or gritty true crime inspired murder movies. And I love the look of films from the ugly ‘70s but it’s not what I want from a Hitchcock film. For me, it’s his stylish ‘50s & ‘60s films that I love the most. They’re gorgeous. If I want to see ugly, dirty ‘70s horror I’ll watch a Giallo film. At least the Argento stuff is much more visually appealing than Frenzy.

Frenzy has that sort of Giallo vibe, though (I think – I’m not an expert having only seen Argento’s work) so I’m not sure why I didn’t like it a bit more. As I said, I think it’s partly because ”trashy” is not what I want from a Hitchcock film. I think it also didn’t help that the characters were all so hateful. I didn’t really care that the guy was wrongly accused of the murders since he was such a prick anyway. Plus I’m never a fan of rape scenes. It depends how they’re handled but it seemed more gratuitous than necessary in this. I suppose Hitchcock was probably just thrilled to get some nudity on screen. And I’m sure the one rape joke in it won’t go down well with younger people who might watch this now but I judge these things based on society’s attitudes at the time something was made so it seemed accurate. 

Oh well. It’s still a well made ‘70s crime film & I did get some enjoyment out of the story but it certainly won’t be a favorite Alfred Hitchcock film for me. There are still plenty of his oldest films that I have yet to see but I suppose I should make a list ranking his films. I’m thinking that this one would currently be at the very bottom of the list. It just doesn’t hold a candle to his true masterpieces. I’m probably being a bit too harsh as this movie obviously had a lot to live up to, though. It just doesn’t seem like it could be from the same person who made Rear Window, Vertigo & Psycho

Slight spoiler: I thought the woman in the bed at the end was the mother, which would have been a better ending. Oh! And I liked that Billie Whitelaw was in this. The Omen is brilliant. – 7/10

Look Both Ways – This was fine. Safe. Wholesome. Nice. Bland. I should knock half a star off my rating as I know I’ll completely forget this movie in a year but it’s just so harmless that I’d feel bad doing that. Sliding Doors did a better job with this concept but at least we don’t have to watch Gwyneth in this one so that’s a plus.

Okay, I’m sounding way too negative for such a completely inoffensive film. It’s a pleasant, weekend afternoon watch. And it was nice having fairly likeable characters in this unlike the insufferable twats in other streaming recents such as Not Okay & Do Revenge. – 6.5/10

Bob’s Burgers: The Movie – I have no clue why I watched this as I’ve never seen the show. It would be like watching The Simpsons Movie having never seen that show. Well, The Simpsons Movie wouldn’t have made me want to watch The Simpsons and this movie hasn’t made me want to watch Bob’s Burgers, which is probably unfair as I’m sure the show is much better (isn’t it always??). But I did enjoy the story & got a few giggles out of it even though it’s not exactly laugh out loud humor. I can see why it has fans, though, as these characters probably grow on you. I liked the kid with the hat. Easily the best character for me (in the movie, at least). – 6.5/10

Licorice Pizza – I find Paul Thomas Anderson hit or miss (the only ones I really liked were Magnolia & Boogie Nights) but everyone kind of raved over this last year so I was eager to see it. I’m now not sure what people saw in this one? I found it boring & the two main characters were annoying. I liked the setting, as I always love the ‘70s, but that’s all this movie had going for it. So this is another PTA miss for me. – 6/10

Dog – I’m behind on reviewing movies & it probably doesn’t say much for this film that I forgot I’d even watched it when going through my diary to catch up. Channing Tatum is fine as a soldier with PTSD & I always like 1. Dog movies and 2. Road trip movies so this was an interesting combo of both. But Tatum’s character was a bit unlikeable so I cared much more about what would happen to the dog. The movie is fine – just a bit forgettable & very predictable. – 6/10

Moonfall – I admit I enjoy some of Roland Emmerich‘s films as guilty pleasures so liked the sound of this one & was expecting a dumb but fun disaster flick like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow. Unfortunately this was all dumb & no fun. The characters were boring & the film wasn’t entertaining enough for me to be able to forgive it for being completely ridiculous. Waste of time. – 4.5/10

Movies Rewatched In August

The Sixth Sense – I think M. Night Shyamalan is a director you either like or hate (I’m a fan) but hopefully most people would agree that The Sixth Sense is a damn good film & easily his best. Rewatched this for the first time in a long time & still think the ending is fantastic & perfectly executed. Glad it got nominations, especially for Haley Joel Osment’s scarily good performance, since The Academy usually ignores horror. But was a little disappointed that my daughter guessed the ending well before the reveal. Guess she’s smarter than I was in 1999! – 8.5/10

Shorts Watched In August

I Am Groot – These shorts on Disney Plus are pretty silly but who cares? So is Guardians Of The Galaxy & I love it. Who doesn’t like Baby Groot?? He’s adorable. These shorts are cute & very much aimed at a much much younger audience than the Guardians Of The Galaxy films. Have to admit I’ve watched them all two or three times now… Wholesome fun.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation – These Lego shorts aren’t as good as they used to be. This was okay but a bit boring. There are two stories (if I remember correctly!). The second one is much better than the first. I think I just care less & less about the sequel trilogy characters as time goes by.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN AUGUST

Hmm. Actually watched a lot of TV in August. And managed to read two books…

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Boys: S1 E5 – Still think this is great so far but struggling to find the time to watch it (while the daughter isn’t around as it’s super inappropriate).

Only Murders In The Building: S2 E7-10 – Still think these three characters are a lot of fun together & look forward to seeing more of them in Series 3. But Series 1 was quite a bit better than Series 2…

Ms. Marvel: S1 – This was fine. A great one for teenage Marvel fans. But I seriously have superhero burnout.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E1-2 – Well, I’ve seen much more of this now but as I’m so behind on posting these reviews, I won’t say much until the September post. I can’t say I specifically remember episodes 1 & 2 now. But I do remember that it was episode 3 with the twerking! I’ll only say this: People are WAY too hard on this show. Stop taking fucking superheroes so goddamn seriously! This show is MEANT to be silly. Hell, I kind of enjoy it. At least it feels different to all the other millions of Marvel films & shows.

The Twilight Zone (2019): S1 E1 – Finally checked this out as I ADORE the very first & original Twilight Zone. It’s my all-time favorite TV show. This new “Twilight Zone“? It fucking sucked. Episode 1 did, at least. It really doesn’t have me wanting to give any more episodes a chance…

TV Specials, Etc

Bill Burr: Live At Red Rocks – Trying to watch more standup comedy. Not sure why I never do. So watched this one after watching one of the Ricky Gervais specials. It was fine but I wasn’t exactly laughing out loud much. Preferred the Gervais one we watched. But don’t think either of these men will become absolute favorite comedians of mine, although I do like some of what Gervais has to say about things & life in general. And I liked him hosting the Golden Globes. But for standup give me George Carlin & Bill Bailey!

BOOKS READ

The Eyes Of The Dragon by Stephen King – I’m a big Stephen King fan & have read most of his work but just never had an interest in this one for some reason. It may be because I just couldn’t get into The Gunslinger, which is one of his only books I’ve read twice as I wanted to give it another chance to see if it could get me finally reading his Dark Tower series. But I still didn’t like it & I guess I then just thought fantasy wasn’t his thing compared to horror.

I loved this book! It’s very Game-Of-Thrones-Light & I assume aimed at sort of pre & early teens. A very simple but truly enjoyable story about two young prince brothers & an evil magician. Why have I never really heard much about this book? It would make for a fantastic family fantasy film, too. They’ve adapted so many King stories – why not this one?? A thoroughly enjoyable read. – 4.5/5

We Are All Liars by Carys Jones – This was fine. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

Allie, Stacie, Diana, Emily and Gail have been by each other’s sides for as long as they can remember. The Fierce Five. Best friends forever. But growing up has meant growing apart. And little white lies have grown into devastating secrets.

When Gail invites the increasingly estranged friends to reunite at her Scottish cabin, it could be the opportunity to mend old wounds and heal the cracks in their friendship. But when a freak snowstorm rocks the cabin and one of the girls is found dead on the ice, their weekend away becomes a race against time – and each other – to get off the mountain alive.

It’s pretty typical of the books in this sort of genre. The characters are all quite unlikeable but at least I can say I wasn’t able to guess the ending to this one. I like when these mystery thrillers aren’t predictable. But I just didn’t care at all about what would happen to any of these women. – 3/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’ll try to post my September roundup soon I fall behind on the blog but do at least keep on top of logging & rating what I’ve watched here on Letterboxd.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

I soooooooo need to see Everything Everywhere All At Once now that it’s on services. 😦 Won’t be making it to the cinema for anything soon as having to avoid Covid still. Missing going to see new releases!

To wrap up, here are Garland & Astaire doing A Couple Of Swells from Easter Parade:

The 94th Academy Awards – Reviews Of Nominated Films & List Of All Nominees

The Oscars are on tonight so I’m finally doing a post with links to the reviews I’ve done of some of the nominated films.

I can’t believe I used to stay up all night long to watch the Oscars live when I first moved to the U.K. Ugh. I don’t anymore because 1) I don’t always have access to the live ceremony because that service is too expensive and 2) I’m too old & tired to stay up all night (and then go to work! how did I do that?!) but most importantly 3) Screw the Oscars! They’ve become a joke in the past several years & this year’s ceremony sounds ridiculous. I had a rant during my Mass review but I’ll just say again that I don’t have time for a movie awards ceremony that doesn’t see the Best Original Score & all the others not being presented as important enough to make the live show.

But I’m sure I’ll still watch the shorter recap show tomorrow night & bitch about the ceremony the whole time…

Well, there seem to be better Best Picture nominees than some years but I’ve only seen six of the ten. Of those I’ve not seen, I really do want to see Drive My Car. I’m sure I’ll check out King Richard, Licorice Pizza & Belfast when available too but I’m in no rush. I think The Power Of The Dog will probably win anyway, which was my least favorite of those I’ve seen. I loved Dune & CODA. Actually not sure which of the two I preferred. Dune is more “me” but CODA was so lovely & thoroughly enjoyable to watch. They’re maybe tied.

Here are my reviews of those I’ve seen of all the nominees (from my favorite to least favorite):

TIE: Dune & CODA
The Lost Daughter
Don’t Look Up
West Side Story
Tick, Tick… Boom!
The Mitchells Vs The Machines
Raya And The Last Dragon
Encanto
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The Eyes Of Tammy Faye
Free Guy
The Power Of The Dog
Cruella
Nightmare Alley
Coming 2 America
Luca
Being the Ricardos
Spencer (hated this)

There were also some strong documentaries & shorts that were luckily available on U.K. services. Summer Of Soul was great with fantastic music so I really enjoyed that. And Please Hold was a good Black-Mirror-Inspired story.

Nominated Documentaries & Shorts I’ve Seen (not ranked):

Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Audible
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
Please Hold
The Long Goodbye
Three Songs For Benazir
Boxballet
The Windshield Wiper
Robin Robin

Here are all the Oscar nominees:

Best Picture:
“Belfast”
CODA
Don’t Look Up
“Drive My Car”
Dune
“King Richard”
“Licorice Pizza”
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

Best Actress:
Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter
Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mother”
Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos
Kristen Stewart, “Spencer

Best Actor:
Will Smith, “King Richard”
Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick… Boom!

Best Supporting Actress:
Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter
Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story
”Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog
”Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
Judi Dench, “Belfast”

Best Supporting Actor:
Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog
J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos
Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog
Troy Kotsur, “CODA
Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast”

Best Director:
Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay:
“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh
Don’t Look Up” Adam McKay, David Sirota
“King Richard,” Zach Baylin
“Licorice Pizza,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Worst Person in the World,” Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt

Best Adapted Screenplay:
CODA,” Siân Heder
The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion
“Drive My Car,” Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
Dune,” Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal

Best International Feature Film:
“Drive My Car” (Japan)
“Flee” (Denmark)
“The Hand of God” (Italy)
“Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” (Bhutan)
“The Worst Person in the World” (Norway)

Best Documentary Feature:
“Ascension”
“Attica”
“Flee”
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”
“Writing With Fire”

Best Animated Feature Film:
Encanto
“Flee”
Luca
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Animated Short:
“Affairs of the Art”
“Bestia”
“Boxballet”
“Robin Robin”
“The Windshield Wiper”

Best Documentary Short Subject:
“Audible”
“Lead Me Home”
“The Queen of Basketball”
Three Songs for Benazir
“When We Were Bullies”

Best Live Action Short:
“Ala Kachuu ― Take and Run”
“The Dress”
“The Long Goodbye”
“On My Mind”
“Please Hold”

Best Cinematography:
Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
West Side Story

Best Film Editing:
Don’t Look Up
Dune
“King Richard”
The Power of the Dog
Tick, Tick … Boom!

Best Production Design:
Dune
Nightmare Alley
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
West Side Story
The Power of the Dog

Best Original Song:
“Be Alive” (“King Richard”), Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Dixson
“Dos Oruguitas” (“Encanto”), Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Down to Joy” (“Belfast”), Van Morrison
“No Time to Die” (“No Time to Die”), Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell
“Somehow You Do” (“Four Good Days”), Diane Warren

Best Original Score:
Don’t Look Up,” Nicholas Britell
Dune,” Hans Zimmer
Encanto,” Germaine Franco
“Parallel Mothers,” Alberto Iglesias
The Power of the Dog,” Jonny Greenwood

Best Sound:
“Belfast”
Dune
“No Time to Die”
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

Best Costume Design:
Cruella
“Cyrano”
Dune
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Coming 2 America
Cruella
Dune
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
“House of Gucci”

Best Visual Effects:
Dune
Free Guy
“No Time to Die”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

What are your favorite Oscar nominees this year & what do you most want to see win?