Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2022

Happy May! I feel bad as I’ve been neglecting the blogs again. I also recently joined Letterboxd (finally) & I’m finding it far too easy to just quickly log & write very short reviews of films there instead of taking the time to put a full post together for each movie I watch. (Here’s my Letterboxd link for the three people who still read this blog).

But I’ve been doing this blog for almost ten years so I need to at least keep up these monthly posts. And I’ll still post reviews here when I’m in the mood or really love a film. I reviewed half of those below on Letterboxd already so I’ll cheat & copy those here.

Here’s all I watched & read in April…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Finch – Post-apocalyptic? A dog?? A robot sidekick??? Did they make this movie specifically for ME?!?! Three things I love! Especially robots. Yes, my favorite Pixar movie is WALL-E & my favorite Star Wars character is R2-D2 (well, Grogu is up there too now! And Yoda). So, this movie was very much my sort of thing and I really enjoyed it.

Speaking of WALL-E, a lot of this film reminded me of that. Mainly the “radiation storms” (or whatever they were) and the fact that Earth is now a wasteland with very few surviving humans (they didn’t get to jump on a fancy spaceship & just get really fat in this one). Plus, of course, there’s a robot. Well, two robots actually! The one Tom Hanks builds in the film plus a little robot he’s been using which he named after Dewey in Silent Running.

The story is pretty simple but it’s more about the relationship between Tom’s character (Finch) & the robot he builds to help take care of his beloved dog. A robot learning what it means to be human?!?!? Yep – this movie is SO my type of thing. Does Finch bring anything new to this genre? Not really. But it’s got heart & a nice relationship between Hanks & the robot. Really enjoyed this film. – 7.5/10

Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans – A lovely film directed by F. W. Murnau that won the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Picture, one of the two top prizes, at the 1st Academy Awards (Wings was later declared the official Best Picture winner). I enjoyed its style & love story & Janet Gaynor’s performance, which won the first Best Actress Academy Award. I’ve logged it as part of my Best Picture Project to watch all the Best Picture winners. 27 left to go! – 7.5/10

Sherlock Jr. – Decided to explore more Buster Keaton after recently (finally) watching & thoroughly enjoying The General. This one is possibly even more delightful. A really fun story & once again full of crazy, impressive stunts. Especially loved the scenes within the movie theatre where he works. Great stuff. – 7.5/10

Fatman – While I would’ve enjoyed this slightly more if I’d had the opportunity to see it during Christmas, I still had good fun watching it. Although “fun” may not be the right word. 

I hadn’t read much about this so was expecting more of a comedy instead of the action thriller that it is. I’m sure this film’s tone didn’t work for a lot of people (judging by the movie’s unfairly low rating) but I really liked it. I’m old & tired & have lost faith in humanity just like Gibson’s Chris Kringle. I could totally relate to this version of Santa. 

Gibson & Marianne Jean-Baptiste also give us performances that are probably way too good for a movie about someone putting a hit out on Santa Claus. I appreciated that they took their roles seriously & I thought they worked really well together. It’s an odd film but very unlike the many other Christmas movies that are out there so it was great seeing something a bit different. I’d happily watch this one again at Christmastime. – 7/10

Gosford Park – Didn’t realize this was a Robert Altman film until I stuck it on & it soon became obvious with such a huge ensemble cast of every British actor ever. As bad as Harry Potter for that! I really enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces, especially saucy Helen Mirren (not saucy here), Charles Dance Lannister, Richard E. Grant & Derek In The Night Garden Jacobi. I especially liked Kelly Macdonald as I suppose the lead character (and one of the servants so she was likeable) & as always now sounding like Merida the whole time with her great Scottish accent. Oh, and Ryan Phillippe was in this putting on what I assume was a very bad Scottish accent if you were to ask a Scottish person but I have no idea because I suck with accents. Maggie Smith’s rich old bitch character was fun too. Oh! And Emily Watson’s character was also good. God there were loads of people in this…

Anyway. There’s a murder mystery in this which was fun but this movie was more about getting to know the characters. I’m thinking it was at least an hour into the movie when the murder happens? I was like “Get on with the murder already!”. And I’m REALLY bad with keeping track of loads of characters (Game Of Thrones is a huge struggle for me) so I was constantly looking at Wikipedia while watching this to remind myself who each of these characters were & how they were related to each other. I loved how there were two sets of people, though – the rich assholes & all their staff – so it was great seeing the two worlds & getting two sets of intertwining stories. The staff also referred to each other by the name of the rich asshole that each person “serves” (or whatever) which made it a bit easier to know who worked for who (or is it “whom”? Fuck knows. These rich old English characters would know!). I also liked not knowing who (whom?!) was gonna get murdered, although I guessed correctly. But don’t expect some fast paced murder thriller if you watch this. It’s mostly English people talking posh & being snooty the whole time. Still good fun, though, and good acting (as to be expected from some of the best of the best). – 7.5/10

The Adam Project – I don’t have a lot to say about this except that it’s a safe & enjoyable family film. Which sounds insulting but it’s great that some decent family films still get made. We used to get so many back in the ’80s & I miss them. It’s a story involving time travel, which I always love. Ryan Reynolds is a pilot who goes back in time & meets up with his younger self (in that above photo). It’s a somewhat forgettable story overall but had some sweet moments with Jennifer Garner as his mother & Mark Ruffalo as his father, which reminded me how much I like 13 Going On 30. – 6.5/10

The Proposal – Aww – Betty White! Like, I think the rest of the world, I absolutely adored her. She was sweet & so damn funny. So I figured I should finally watch this as I never saw it for some reason. As to be expected from a Sandra Bullock rom-com it’s of course predictable as hell but it was still worth the watch. And I loved that Betty got loads of screen time as she was more often a TV star. She’s great in this. I really enjoyed seeing my favorite person from St. Olaf again. – 6.5/10

Spider-Man: No Way Home – Wow, this was very underwhelming. Admittedly, I’m not some huge MCU fan. I do enjoy the movies & I’ve watched them all but watching most of them just once is enough for me. This one was just so dull & the story was weak. Plus Peter Parker was an idiot. Why did Doctor Strange go along with his stupid idea?! I realise it was just an excuse to bring the three Spider-Mans (er, Spider-Men??) together and fan service can be fun but this was overkill. It felt so focused on bringing everyone together that it forgot to make a good story & forgot to do anything with the characters other than the three Spider-Men and too many old villains I don’t really give a shit about. I take that back – I did like the stuff with Aunt May. She’s been a great character in these films. But, man, THIS is the movie everyone absolutely freaked out about??? I think people were just so happy to go back to the cinema after Covid that it clouded their judgement.

Oh well, I guess I can update my MCU rankings (which I did on Letterboxd HERE but haven’t yet done on my blog). This is currently number 21 for me. – 6/10

Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions – First of all, I have to say that this was bizarre in that I was thoroughly confused after seeing someone in the cast list after watching this who I did NOT remember seeing in the movie. So I read the full Wikipedia synopsis and, holy shit, it’s an entirely different ending (and beginning too, I believe). We’re not talking a minor difference, either, as I know there are movies with alternate endings like The Butterfly Effect (prefer the original cinema release of that). This was a whole different ending that completely changes what’s happening through the whole damn movie and has different actresses & characters being used. Like, WTF? So if they make another sequel, which ending are they going to carry on from? And why is this annoying me so much when it’s just a throwaway horror movie so it doesn’t really matter?! Ha! Plus, quite frankly, I like the sound of the other (presumably original cinema release) ending much more. So I hope they go with that one, although I think some will find the ending that I saw with a brand new character more entertaining. I thought the new character sucked. I like the other character!

I liked the first of these movies more than I expected to. No, these aren’t great but I do like “lightweight” horror like this for a bit of fun plus I’m a bit of a wuss. If you liked the first, you’ll like this one since it’s just more of the same damn thing. The escape rooms don’t feel as inventive, though, and too many of them are just too damn big. Doesn’t feel like an escape “room” when it’s the size of a damn town. Then the ending gets pretty dumb, at least in the version I saw, but who cares? Right? It was entertaining enough for an hour and a half. The first was of course much better. I’d watch a third one. – 6/10

The Sky Is Everywhere – I watched this on Apple TV+ as I read the YA novel ages ago, although it wasn’t a favorite & I found the girl a bit annoying. Seemed to be a faithful adaptation from what I remember. The girl from No Exit plays the dead sister (not a spoiler as this is about a girl grieving the loss of her older, talented sister). The two sisters were fine and the rival love interests were fine and, meh, whatever. The movie was fine. It was fine! #Fine – 6/10

Mandibles – Bizarre film, which is something I always appreciate. Still prefer Quentin Dupieux’s film Rubber but this one was good fun too. And the giant fly was kind of cute. Oh, it’s about two idiots who find a giant fly & decide to keep it & train it to go fetch things for them. Yep, that’s what it’s about. And a girl who shouts everything she says. That was kind of annoying. – 6/10

Kimi – An okay Steven Soderbergh film but will be a forgettable one for me. Mainly just made me realise that I need to rewatch Blow Out and that Rear Window is a masterpiece. – 5.5/10

Shadow In The Cloud – I honestly don’t know how to rate this one. It was kind of terrible but I think I also kind of liked it. I think. Kind of. It may be because I have such a strong love of The Twilight Zone & Amazing Stories which this so blatantly wants to be. I kept expecting Moretz to draw some cartoon wheels while yelling about someone being on the wing of the plane. – 5.5/10

Antlers – This was very disappointing after I thought it looked pretty good plus I like Keri Russell. And… I don’t know what to say about this? Not sure why I didn’t like it? I didn’t really like the underdeveloped characters, I guess. And I normally like “creature” movies but… Meh. I dunno. I just wasn’t feeling this one. – 5.5/10

Deep Water – What a couple of assholes. Guess they deserved each other. The daughter was adorable, though. Poor kid. This film didn’t help my Molluscophobia. Or Affleckophobia. – 5.5/10

Nobody – Wasn’t feeling this one either. At all. I should say I don’t really know Bob Odenkirk as I’ve not watched Breaking Bad or whatever got him some fans but he’s just not leading man material in this. To me, at least. The movie is like John Wick without all the stuff that makes John Wick enjoyable (mostly my beloved Keanu Reeves & puppies). I was bored. But I’ll give it an extra half a point for Christopher Lloyd as he’s always likeable. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched In April:

Rain Man – First time watching this again in a long time. Still a great film. Hoffman was deserving of his Oscar but Cruise was also even better than I remembered. Love their relationship by the end. One of the more enjoyable Best Picture winners. – 8/10

While You Were Sleeping – One of the better Sandra Bullock rom-coms. Watched this with my daughter on a girly night & she really liked it. I told her there are loads more movies like this that we can watch together. 🙂 – 7.5/10

Jackass: The Movie – Why do I still laugh at these idiots? These movies of course lose that initial element of shock & surprise (and revulsion) on a rewatch, but I still enjoyed seeing this again way more than I like to admit. Off-Road Tattoo is still a favorite. – 6.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts, Miscellaneous:

Adrienne – Admittedly, I didn’t know of Adrienne Shelly until after her murder. I then saw the film Waitress & absolutely loved it so I’ve tried to see what I can of the films that she starred in. What a loss – would love to have seen what other films she could have made.

This documentary, made by her husband, included loads of home video footage of Adrienne. So it was good to get to know her that way as she was obviously such an indie actress & there will be people who don’t know of her & aren’t aware of her work. In fact, the documentary starts with people waiting in line to watch the Waitress musical based on her movie being asked who Shelly is & they all have no clue. Very sad – Did they not watch the movie (which she starred in as well & wrote & directed) too??? This documentary is also obviously not an easy watch as it does discuss Shelly’s murder as well as her murderer. So that was uncomfortable but I think it’s worth a watch if you’re curious about her & her work. And I highly recommend Waitress. – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Community: S4 & S5 – I already absolutely raved about this show in my previous two monthly roundups so I don’t need to again. I may be very late to the party but am so glad I decided to watch this one day. I’d heard the last two seasons (5 & 6) aren’t so good. Damn! So far, that seems accurate. I’ll avoid saying who but I’ll just say a needed character (or more) leave and this show worked so well the first four seasons as this group of misfits are perfect together. You really need them all as a group & the show sadly goes downhill pretty quickly without all of them. DAMN! Oh well. There are still fun moments. I still have season 6 & then I can rewatch the brilliant first 4 seasons again.

Ted Lasso: S2 – Finally grabbed one month of Apple TV+, mainly to see this as I really liked season 1. Still think it’s great with fantastic characters. I also like the rather dark turn they’re taking with Ted this season. Getting a bit serious now! But it somehow still works with the lighthearted humor. Only weak episode was the one focusing on Coach Beard, which is a shame as he’s probably a top 5 character in this for me. Also a little heartbroken at how they’ve decided to change Nathan’s character. But will be interesting to see where they go with that storyline.

Calls: S1 – I enjoyed this as it was so different but it will definitely not be for everyone. This is also on Apple TV+ & the show is a series of calls that we listen to with images such as the one above as well as the words displayed on the screen. Was happy to be able to read along as it made the stories easier to follow. Each episode is a story on its own with different characters, which was cool, but the stories do also end up connected by the end. Some episodes were much stronger than others but I really liked the overall story which was a bit eerie with a touch of horror & sci-fi. But that’s all very much my type of thing…

Servant: S1 E1-? – I’m too lazy to look up where I finished but think I must have seen most of season 1 before my one month of Apple TV+ was up. I like M. Night Shyamalan so was interested in seeing this despite being put off by there now being 3 seasons. That’s too much of a commitment! Can’t they make more “limited series” shows, dammit?!? One season & done. Boom! Like the Harlan Coben shows. So, yeah, Servant seems to be doing what I hate but totally expected & draaaaaaaaaagginggggggggg the story out. Just get to the fucking point, TV shows! This is why I stick to movies. Anyway – I now want to know WTF is going on so will probably binge this when I can afford to subscribe for another month (maybe when Ted Lasso starts again). I’ll say I thought episode 1 was great. Nothing I love more than creepy babies & creepy dolls! Was then growing bored after several episodes of nothing happening after that, though.

Young Rock: S1 E3-6 – This show is super enjoyable considering I know nothing about and am not a fan of pro wrestling. But I do like The Rock and think his character is great & love the relationship he has with his family. It’s a really sweet & wholesome family show! And, being the age I am, I do remember some of these wrestlers. I especially like the episodes with Andre The Giant. Good fun! Perfect for when short on time. Can squeeze a couple in during a lunch break! Not one I feel the urge to binge but it’s good to know it’s there as a quick pick-me-up when the hubby & I have half an hour & feel like watching something.

Moon Knight: S1 E2-5 – I dunno. I just CANNOT get into this show. At all. Sorry? Man… Disappointing after thinking WandaVision was great & really enjoying Loki & Hawkeye despite not being some big Marvel fan. But I did think The Falcon & The Winter Soldier was a snoozefest. I guess I like that, uh, Moon Knight at least feels like something different from the same old formulaic MCU stuff? So… There’s that, I guess! There. I was complimentary.

Old Enough: S1 E1 – ? (Too lazy to look again, seen 4 or 5 episodes) – Fun Japanese reality TV show on Netflix where they get adorable toddlers & little kids to run some basic “adult errands” such as going to the supermarket to buy food while cameras follow them around to see what they’ll do. It’s lightweight and SHORT, which I really appreciate. Think some episodes are no more than 15 minutes. Woohoo! I have time for that! Okay, it’s a bit dumb but it’s also really cute. Most kids are fantastic while others are totally shit at doing what they’re asked. Funny.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E9 – This has started up again! Yay. I guess.

TV Specials:

It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown – Should’ve watched more of the Peanuts stuff while I had Apple TV+! Am a massive Peanuts/Snoopy fan. This was sweet & it focused on Sally obsessed with a flower in the middle of Charlie Brown’s baseball game. Watching the rest of these when I subscribe again.

TV Specials Rewatched:

It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown – Obviously had to watch this again. Watch all the Peanuts holiday specials each year. Is anything better than Snoopy?? 🙂

BOOKS READ

I read two books in April!! Much quicker reads than the first Game Of Thrones book taking me months to finish. Tried out a new author after reading Emma’s book reviews HERE & thinking they sounded good. Thanks, Emma! Really enjoyed these & already have a third C.J. Tudor book from the library to read next. 🙂

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor – Can’t decide which book I liked more but read this first so guess I’ll review it first. First of all I have to say that I could really relate to the mother (my sort of age) and the daughter (a few years older than mine) & their relationship in this. Especially as they love & quote cool movies like Heathers & The Lost Boys. But then, of course, there’s also some great, nasty history involving the small town they move to & two young girls who were tortured & burned alive for not renouncing their faith in Ye Olde English Times. Gotta love English history! Why didn’t they teach us that sort of stuff in American History class?? I might have paid attention. And there’s also a big mystery involving two teen girls who disappeared from this town in (I think) the ’90s. Plus the previous town vicar who died under mysterious circumstances. Woohoo! Oh, and of course the main character’s tragic past that the story slowly pieces together for us.

What I really liked about both these books were all the twists & turns and multiple mysteries to be solved. Reminded me of the Harlan Coben TV shows I watched recently (who C.J. Tudor must also be a fan of as a character in The Chalk Man was reading a Coben book – I really must check out one of his novels too). Not sure why I’ve not read more murder mystery thrillers because I actually love this stuff. I’m just such a sucker for supernatural horror, which is why I stick with Stephen King. But Tudor was compared to King after The Chalk Man & he recommended it to his followers on Twitter (making her go all fangirly. I would too!). I can certainly see the King comparison, especially with The Chalk Man, but she’s more “twisted crime thriller” than “supernatural horror”.

I went off on a tangent there. I really enjoyed this book and its characters. And I only guessed one of the many mysteries quite early on (but one of the biggest ones, so I was proud of myself). Everything else kept me guessing, though. A very fun read. – 4/5

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor – I’m guessing this is the more popular Tudor book of these two? I could be wrong but I can see it being slightly more widely appealing. I’d say it’s maybe a fraction better of the two but I far preferred the ending of The Burning Girls & that overall story a bit more. What I liked about The Chalk Man & what probably caused part of the King comparison is the slight Stand By Me & It vibe when the story flashes back to the past and the small group of friends, who are now adults, back when they were 12/13. It also has multiple mysteries like The Burning Girls & I really liked everything to do with the “Wurlitzer Girl” part of the story & just wish we could’ve found out more about her.

Great stuff. I liked this one a lot too & haven’t read books this quickly in ages. I just wanted all the answers ASAP. The Taking of Annie Thorne is next on my To Read list. – 4/5

Currently reading Malorie by Josh Malerman

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love – Figured it was worth mentioning this new album as I so rarely have “new music” to post about. However, I’ve only listened to it once while working so have to give it another listen soon. I do love the Chili Peppers so I’ll just say, from what I heard, this album indeed sounded exactly like the Chili Peppers. But I’m not someone to complain about bands always sounding the same because, screw it – if you have fans why change your sound??

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No specific plans. Will continue to log movies on Letterboxd & do a monthly roundup post here.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Still not going to the cinema even though people seem to have forgotten that Covid exists but, boy, I want to see Everything Everywhere All At Once SO BAD. Will watch Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness at some point too but I’m in no big rush for that. Also like the sound of The Innocents, The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (Ew, Pedro Pascal is in that?) & been waiting for Top Gun: Maverick for bloody ages now.

I like to end with a good song from a movie but I’ll use something from Ted Lasso this time. That show gets the rights to use some great music! Here’s one featured heavily in one episode: She’s A Rainbow by The Rolling Stones:

Old (2021) Review

Old (2021)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Based on Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy & Frederik Peeters

Starring: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, Embeth Davidtz, Emun Elliott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a group of people who find themselves aging rapidly on a secluded beach.

My Opinion:

First of all, here’s my ranking of the M. Night Shyamalan movies I’ve seen:

11. Lady In The Water
10. The Happening
9. The Visit
8. Old
7. Devil
6. Split
5. Glass
4. Signs
3. Unbreakable
2. The Village
1. The Sixth Sense

1-4 are the best by far. 5-9 are all okay & I like them all about the same so don’t take the order of those too seriously because I moved them all around several times. I didn’t like 10 & 11 (although The Happening was kind of weirdly enjoyable).

You either like M. Night Shyamalan or you don’t & I can totally understand those who don’t. I’m a fan because I love a weird story & always love a twist. I don’t agree with people who badmouth him, though, because I like that he’s a filmmaker who continues to give us original stories in between all the sequels, reboots, remakes & superheroes. I want more original content! So I’ll always applaud him for that. Thank you, M. Night Shyamalan!

I think the issue is probably that he’s a better writer than director. Or more like, he can come up with a really good story idea but doesn’t always manage to get it to work fully on screen. But his type of stories are difficult to translate to film so some come across as too silly. I just think by now that you know exactly what you’re gonna get from him, so why would you watch Old if you don’t like his work? It was exactly what I was expecting from him & I liked it just fine despite some really horrible reviews. Is this the first Shyamalan movie those people have ever watched? We know by now that nothing else has lived up to The Sixth Sense (which I still think is fantastic).

I found it interesting to see that Old was based on a graphic novel called Sandcastle. Think it’s the only one of his I’ve seen that’s based on existing material instead of being his own idea? I can see why he went for it as it’s exactly the type of story he writes, so it still worked well in feeling like all his other movies. I liked the story! It was again a good concept and, yes, an unbelievable one. Don’t watch his movies if you can’t suspend disbelief! I’m not someone who goes looking for plot holes, etc etc, since I like so much sci-fi & fantasy & weird shit. It’s nice when everything does make sense & things tie up nicely but I mostly just want to be entertained. Old is far from perfect as a film but I liked seeing these people aging rapidly on this mysterious island and, as always with his films, I was looking forward to the big reveal to explain what the hell was going on. As far as the big reveal, which I of course won’t reveal myself, it was fine. It didn’t blow me away like some of his crazy twists & some clues were there throughout the story but I thought it was still a good ending.

Well, I think I’ve talked about this one for long enough. If you’re not a fan of Shyamalan, I’m not going to somehow convince you to watch this anyway. And it’s not one of his best so not the one I’d recommend to someone new to his movies. I think his characters are often underdeveloped and/or unlikeable & Old is one that suffers from this a bit. So I’d maybe have ranked it higher if the characters had been a bit better. And I suppose it’s one that crosses over into being a little too cheesy at times, which is easy to do with his type of story. But I still liked it & I’ll still continue to watch his movies and be entertained by his ideas.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Glass (2019) Review

Glass (2019)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, David Dunn gets locked in a mental hospital alongside his once-rival Mr. Glass, as well as the multi-personality “The Horde,” and must escape from a psychiatrist who is out to prove the trio do not actually possess super-human abilities.

My Opinion:

Well, this was disappointing. But I did expect it to be disappointing. Maybe I should stop watching movies I expect to be disappointing… I’d save a lot of money!

I like M. Night Shyamalan for the most part. I’ve watched almost all of his movies because I do enjoy his stories and, yes, I like a twist even though he’s known for them so it’s never exactly a big surprise. I can’t say I’ve truly loved any of his films but do think The Sixth Sense is pretty great, especially if you saw it at the time and he wasn’t yet known as “that guy who does twists” (I saw it when it came out and no one yet knew the ending). The Village is also pretty good, although a lot seem to hate it. The rest, however, are unfortunately the very definition of “meh”. But I still weirdly enjoy his movies while watching them. I just never feel the need to ever watch them again…

Okay, I’ve ranked all his movies I’ve seen from my least favorite to my favorite (only the bottom two truly suck):

Lady In The Water
The Happening
Devil
Split
The Visit
Glass
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

I guess I have Glass pretty high. To be fair, I didn’t hate it (my hubby did). I can see why it has such mixed reviews, though. For me, it was what I expected so I didn’t hate it. I’ve leaned to go into Shyamalan’s films with very low expectations! I think he should be given some credit for creating a whole new comic book/superpowers trilogy that feels unique & original compared to all the damn superhero movies that I’m getting very sick of. It’s just unfortunate that this trilogy doesn’t go out with the bang I was hoping. It’s more of a whimper. Shyamalan likes to go over the top so often – I wish he’d given this a crazy as fuck ending that we’d all remember in the same way we all remember the ending of The Sixth Sense.

Unbreakable is still the best in the trilogy by far but I did like this one more than Split. I loved seeing Bruce Willis and especially Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson again and I far preferred seeing these three together than when it was just James McAvoy being a lone psycho killer (I’ve never been big on murder-y crime movies). Speaking of McAvoy, he’s great in both these films. He’s better than Willis & Jackson, who are kind of just phoning it in for this one (but they’re huge stars – that happens sometimes). I still love Jackson – he’s one of those actors who’ll make me watch a movie just because he’s in it.

Well, that’s it. I need to keep these “reviews” short anyway if I’m going to keep up on reviewing cinema releases this year. I just don’t have much to say about this one other than that it’s a shame that a good idea feels like a bit of a waste after how Glass ends. It feels a bit “So what?”. Good idea, actors I like, and a really good performance from McAvoy made it worth watching, at least. I continue to think Shyamalan has good story ideas and I respect that as it’s more than most of us will ever accomplish. But I wish the end products could be as good as his ideas – only The Sixth Sense has managed to accomplish this.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Split (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (and meaningless rambling) REVIEW**

Split (2016)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Neal Huff

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies where I walked out of the cinema not entirely sure how I felt about it. At first, I mainly thought it was just okay. But the more I thought about it, the more I disliked it. Now, writing this a day after seeing it, I think my main feeling for Split is disappointment. I didn’t hate it. I certainly didn’t love it. A return to form for M. Night Shyamalan? Possibly. But it’s mainly a return to his ability to make movies I’m really interested in seeing as I love the setups and I do enjoy them when I’m in the middle of watching them but, thinking about them later on, I realize they’re not actually very good films (other than The Sixth Sense, to which I still remain faithful).

I think I feel quite similar about Split as I do The Visit (which I reviewed HERE), although they’re very different. I don’t think either is a horrible film and they’re indeed much better than some of M. Night’s huge stinkers in recent years but both are still extremely flawed, especially in their final acts. Split is probably the “better” film in that it’s played straight with some acting that’s of a higher standard than you expect in the horror genre while The Visit is so over-the-top silly that I’m still convinced it’s a horror comedy despite not being labelled as such. But I think Split has made me like The Visit a fraction more in that the latter was a more enjoyable film to sit through despite its silliness. Let’s face it – M. Night’s ideas are silly. Perhaps he should do them in a more comedic fashion as he did in The Visit?? Split takes itself too seriously. The characters are unlikable whereas those in The Visit are so goofily f*%ked-up that you can’t help but kind of like them. Does that make sense?? I’m rambling. Here are all the Shyamalan films I’ve seen ranked from worst to best according to how much I liked them (including one he only wrote):

Lady In The Water
The Happening
Devil
Split
The Visit
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

Shut up and talk about the movie, right? You know how hard it is to discuss this dude’s films in a spoiler-free fashion! One thing I’ll say for his movies is this: The majority of them have pretty big name stars and some quality acting despite the horror genre and the often outrageous storylines. I think this has helped to give Shyamalan’s films a bit more credibility than is actually deserved?

As I said, I stand by my opinion that The Sixth Sense is a good piece of filmmaking although people are sometimes negative about it now since the ending is so well known. But everyone involved acted their asses off for that “horror” film (don’t forget that Collette & Osment were up for Acting Oscars as well as Shyamalan for Director & Screenplay and the whole thing for Best Picture!). I don’t think Split’s acting is Oscar calibre but it’s still very good for its kind of film. McAvoy is of course the standout having to play various personalities but I also thought his psychiatrist, Betty Buckley, was very good as was young Anya Taylor-Joy (this is her first film I’ve seen). Oh! And I loved finding out that Betty Buckley was the nice gym teacher in the original Carrie – I didn’t know that until I looked her up just now:

So, bravo to the actors who once again help to elevate an M. Night Shyamalan film. Without them, I think this would be very much in danger of being a bargain bin straight-to-video horror (okay – it’s not straight to “video” anymore, I suppose. Showing my age!). Thanks to the success of The Sixth Sense, I think Shyamalan has been able to continue making films that are just good enough to keep him in the game. I want to like his movies more. I like his ideas but rarely like his execution. I want one of his movies to fully reach its potential (funny, as I do believe this is a line quite often uttered by McAvoy’s character). I also want to stick to my 2017 blog resolution of not writing long, rambling reviews! Let’s wrap this up.

Summary:

Split isn’t horrible and has some very good performances but is as ultimately disappointing overall as I’ve now come to expect from M. Night Shyamalan’s films. I can see why it has a fairly high IMDB user rating so far as this will either be due to a) loyal fans who’ve watched all his films as he has a surprise in store for them OR b) full-on “horror” fans as this is the most straightforward horror film that Shyamalan has made. It’s more straightforward horror than I like, personally, so perhaps that’s partly why I was disappointed. I prefer bizarre & supernatural, which is why I’ve put up with a lot of the silly shit he’s come up with. So, in some ways, I do agree that this film is a better film than a lot of his work but I personally didn’t like it that much.

Also, two things quite bothered me. The main thing was that I didn’t like some of the treatment of the kidnapped teenage girls. Shyamalan mostly makes “PG-13 horror”. That’s its rating in the U.S. but I wouldn’t let a 13-year-old watch this (it’s rated 15 in the UK). Obviously I want to avoid spoilers but there are sexual themes that I don’t think are necessarily handled that well considering the film’s low rating & young-looking actresses. There’s also an implication that two of the girls “deserve” what terrible fate may await them because, I dunno… They’re popular? They don’t come across as really mean girls or anything.

The other thing is more minor but it just annoyed me. There’s an extra bit tacked onto the VERY end of the movie, as the credits have started to roll with the final scene still going, and it feels extremely out of place. This bit should’ve been a mid or end credits scene. This extra bit is for loyal fans and some of you will love it. Half those in my cinema walked out the second the credits started rolling despite the scene clearly still continuing (why the hell do people do that?!) so those type of people clearly don’t care about this small extra bit anyway. Hey, Mr. Shyamalan! Stick something like that halfway through the credits next time to reward those who stick around! (FYI – I rolled my eyes a bit at this tacked-on scene but also admit I kind of like Shyamalan’s obvious future plan…. Why do I never give up on his films?!)

My Rating: 6/10

The Visit (2015) Review

The Visit (2015)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.

My Opinion:

Like a lot of people, I was a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. At first. When they were good. But then they turned shit. The Sixth Sense was brilliant & I remained a fan through everything up until that stupid Lady In The Water movie (I really liked The Village – why don’t many people like that one?). After The Happening, I gave up on his films completely (and it sounds like it was good that I did – The Last Airbender & After Earth sound terrible). Well, Devil was okay (he wrote the story).

Anyway, I heard that the good old M. Night Shyamalan was finally back with The Visit so, although I didn’t exactly rush to see it, I watched it as soon as I could at home. Hmm… It’s certainly not as good as his best stuff but it’s not completely terrible. It had a lot of potential in the beginning but a ridiculous final 20 minutes or so ruined it for me. Shame. Here – I’m bored so I’m going to rank all his movies that I’ve seen (I’ll include Devil). Worst to best:

Lady In The Water
The Happening
The Visit
Devil
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

I’ll start by discussing The Good Things about The Visit:

The Kids. I thought the kids were quite likable & they actually felt like real kids as opposed to when kids in movies are so clearly “written by adults”. Maybe Shyamalan is just good at directing kids as Haley Joel Osment was so good in The Sixth Sense (but did seem too grown-up for his age). I liked the relationship between the two siblings & I liked that they were smart without being too smart. They’re still just kids & most kids wouldn’t know how to handle the bizarre situation they find themselves in. Their characters & how they deal with things felt more realistic than in most horror movies. The boy has an annoying tendency to rap, though.

Nana. Actress Deanna Dunagan plays this character brilliantly. I’ve never seen her in anything before – she should be in more stuff. It’s like Shyamalan said “can you play a crazy lady?” and she was all “f*^k yeah!” and, wow, she really went to town with this character. Yahtzee!!! I couldn’t help but laugh as she’s so totally over-the-top but you can’t say the actress didn’t give it her all.

The found footage aspect. I realize that saying this will automatically turn some people off of this movie but this plot device doesn’t bother me if used in the right way. To be honest, I completely forgot this was a found footage film so I can say that it clearly wasn’t a distraction. The kids want to make a documentary of the visit with their grandparents & this style actually worked just fine for the movie.

The first half. The Visit really did start out well. It had a good atmosphere & creepy feel. It was fun when the grandparents were doing small odd things that let us know that something wasn’t quite right. There’s a scene under a porch that was pretty intense & claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on & what Shyamalan’s signature twist would be.

The message. There’s actually a fairly good message of sorts at the end concerning family & letting things go.

Now for the unfortunate Bad Things:

The setup. The mom hasn’t talked to her parents in years so her kids have never met them. But then she suddenly decides to send her kids to them for a week after they contact her (or the kids?) out of nowhere (I can’t remember exactly). It just seemed a weak setup. I don’t think a mom would be like “Okay – I’ll send my kids to these people I haven’t spoken to in years because I was wanting a vacation & some sex with my boyfriend anyway”.

The mom. Speaking of the mom, she was just too flaky. I liked the close relationship she had with her kids & they seemed to have good chemistry. Which made the setup all the more unbelievable…

Pop Pop & the excessive craziness of the grandparents. Nana was a lot of fun to watch but, really, the grandparents are so over-the-top crazy by the end that the movie ceases being scary & ends up being laughable. Pretty sure I’ve given nothing away there as trailers, etc, all made it obvious that these two are NOT right in the head. If this was meant as a horror comedy, the ending kind of works. I feel like I read somewhere that this was Shyamalan’s intention but the movie doesn’t seem to ever be defined as a “horror comedy” anywhere online. He does often go over-the-top at the end of his films but I thought The Visit went a bit too far. Especially with Pop Pop, whose character I didn’t enjoy in the same way I did Nana’s. Speaking of Pop Pop….

The diaper thing. Gross. Was that necessary?

The last half (but especially the final 20 minutes or so). Well, I’ve pretty much covered this above. It’s too over-the-top & the grandparents are too crazy. It rubbed shit all over the decent first half of the film.

The twist. Don’t worry – I won’t give it away for those who still may want to see this. But it means I can’t really say much about it. I’m just thinking that Shyamalan was either very lazy with this one OR deceptively brilliant for making it what it was. I dunno. This could actually end up in my Good OR Bad category depending on my mood. Maybe I’ll change my mind. I might. Because I’m CRAZY like that. Yahtzee!!!

Summary:

The Visit had potential & I was really hoping to like another Shyamalan movie again. If he had kept things more subtle & creepy at the end like it was starting out, I’d have definitely liked this more. If it was truly meant as a horror comedy, I’d be slightly more forgiving but I don’t think it’s clear that it’s meant to be this way, which will have probably left a lot of viewers feeling slightly confused by the end. However, there are some strong characters with Nana being fun to watch & the kids being likable – I think we all get sick of the hateful characters that are so common in horror movies. Overall, The Visit was very flawed but it was also just good enough to potentially make me watch whatever Shyamalan makes next if it looks decent enough. He may just win back another fan if his next film is truly a return to form like people claimed this one was & which I sadly believed might be true before those final 20 minutes. (His next film is a movie called Split starring James McAvoy. It’s getting VERY good buzz but I’m trying to not get my hopes up too much…)

My Rating: 6/10

Okay, I gotta include this clip…

The Sixth Sense (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Allie & Jenna of Flick Chicks. Thanks for the review, girls! 🙂 Now let’s hear them discuss The Sixth Sense, IMDB rank 143 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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Allie’s thoughts are in blue & Jenna’s are in red

Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is a young boy who can communicate with spirits that don’t know they’re dead. He spends a lot of time with a child psychiatrist, Dr Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) to try and help his problem.

The Sixth Sense is a really hard film for me to review. I first watched it at a sleepover with my friends when I was about 12, and just as we pressed play, my friend blurted out ‘Oh, this is the film where *insert major spoiler here*’. I have to admit, that really killed it for me. If I could somehow come across a time machine, I think one of the first things I would do is go back to that year and watch the film alone, spoiler free.

I got to watch this completely spoiler free, I think I went to the cinema with my friend Hayley to see it – I was terrified the whole way through.  The down side was I missed a lot of the story because I constantly had my cardigan over my face waiting for something to jump out!  It was only after I watched the whole film that I realised it wasn’t that kind of horror but by then I knew the ‘major spoiler’ so the second (non-scared) time just didn’t have the same impact.  Also, my friend started belting me in the arm (Allie will confirm that this is something I also have a nasty habit of doing when something exciting/scary/interesting happens in a film! – It’s true, I still have the bruises) when the wedding ring dropped, she knew what was going on and I didn’t have a clue!  I’m pretty sure she had to explain the spoiler to me afterwards as well! ha!

However, back to the film.  I did love this film, apart from being scared the story is great and Haley Joel Osment was brilliant as the terrified Cole and Bruce Willis actually does well in a non-action hero role.  The ending definitely makes this film as it can become a little slow in the middle, but that is all forgotten when the film ends.  I generally love M Night Shyamalan films anyway, I think I am the only one of my friends/family who enjoyed The Village, I thought it was really clever and Signs was hilarious

The scenes of teenagers who have blown their brains out and women hanged from the ceiling still terrify me but it’s worth it to see the story play out.

Do you fancy feeling like a total old person? This is what the little boy, Cole looks like now:

Wow, I feel old now!!

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This is a film that everyone should watch at least once. There are a few films in the Top 250 that I question, but this firmly deserves it’s place. I wish I could give it a 10/10 but it’s just not the same knowing how it ends.

This is a must watch for everyone, just don’t be scared and ruin it for yourselves, its not that kind of horror movie.

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