Border (2018) Review

Border (2018) (Swedish: Gräns)

Directed by Ali Abbasi

Based on Border by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Starring: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jorgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén, Sten Ljunggren

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A customs officer who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveler while aiding a police investigation which will call into question her entire existence.

My Opinion:

Er. Um. What the fuck did I just watch?! Well. Huh. This was an interesting film…

First of all, this was personally recommended to me by an old high school acquaintance so I thought “What the hell, I’ll check it out” when a local cinema actually showed this one last week. THIS is why I don’t listen to “real life” people. I only trust my fellow movie blog nerds! To be fair, she was right in that this movie is kind of right up my alley. I love foreign films and I appreciate weird. I watch so many films that I get bored with the same old predictable storylines. I want to see a film I’ll remember. Something like Mandy! And, yeah – I suppose Border too. I’ll certainly always remember it, at least. Not gonna lie, though – it’ll mostly be the sex scene and that penis that I remember.

Eva Melander plays the customs officer who can smell fear and she was very good in this film. You could feel her loneliness and how she feels like an outsider. Her performance is the best thing about the movie overall and, without that performance and character, I don’t think this would have as high of a rating as it does (7.1 on IMDb). I do think people rate foreign films a bit too highly sometimes – not all foreign films are good. I did like the creepy animal attraction she had with the mysterious stranger and did enjoy the overall story. For once I can say that I truly had no idea what the hell was going on in a movie.

I’ll keep this short as I think this is one of those films where you’re better off not knowing too much about it beforehand. If you like weird and you like the unexpected and you like bizarre graphic sex and you like foreign films and you like indie films and you like Frozen, you might like this truly strange Swedish film. There’s even a mention of Ikea at one point. YES! I’d have been disappointed if they hadn’t mentioned Ikea. And, yes – I meant the Anna & Elsa Frozen when I said Frozen. This has small Frozen vibes but is most definitely NOT child-friendly. There’s also mention of disturbing things involving children (though thankfully not shown), so be aware of that beforehand. And if you do watch this based on my half-assed review and end up scarred for life, I take no responsibility. Watch at your own risk! You might love it or you might hate it but I promise that you won’t forget it. I’d like to give it a higher rating based mostly on Melander’s performance but don’t think the film itself is as good as it could’ve been.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Fighting With My Family (2019) Review

Fighting With My Family (2019)

Directed & Written by Stephen Merchant

Based on The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family

Starring: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn, Dwayne Johnson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.

My Opinion:

Wow. I enjoyed this film waaay more than I was expecting! First of all, I better point out that I’m not a wrestling fan whatsoever and have zero knowledge in that field. So I enjoyed this as a really fun piece of entertainment, however close to the true story this movie may be. I have no idea but I’m sure the rise to fame wasn’t quite as simple as portrayed (but movies always exaggerate that). I see this is based on a documentary about the same people (The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family) so I’m sure that’s worth watching if you’re a wrestling fan and want something that’s going to be more factual.


I have to say that I was never a fan of The Rock but, for some odd reason, my daughter loves him. So he’s really grown on me as I’ve now been forced to watch so many of his movies. Well, FYI: He’s hardly in this but that doesn’t hurt the film in the slightest. This story is about the female pro wrestler (Saraya “Paige” Knight) and her (very British!) wrestling family. The Rock does have a (quite cheesy) cameo but the family are a riot and their story was so bizarrely heartwarming (for a family that regularly bodyslam the shit out of each other). Seriously – as someone who’s very rarely a fan of comedy in movies these days, I have to say I laughed (or at least smiled) quite a lot throughout this film. Especially during scenes involving the parents, played by Lena Headey & Nick Frost. They were hilarious. Give me Headey’s character in this over Cersei! I’d love to see her two characters in the ring together. I think Cersei would have her ass kicked.

I really think this is one of those movies that has something for everyone. It’s a great family film, though not for kids too young due to some saucy language (which isn’t something that bothers me since I have a potty mouth). The family are funny yet lovable and you can tell that they’re very close. There’s some jealousy when one of them becomes a big star but the family never come across as fake and nothing feels over the top: They feel like a slightly bonkers but real family who could be living next door to you. You can tell they have a true passion for what they love, which any viewer can relate to whether or not they share that same interest in wrestling. Lovers of sports as well as haters of sports (like me) should all get something out of this movie. It was also great seeing a typical British community portrayed in the film and seeing how wrestling brought them together. I had no knowledge of this film beforehand so the English setting (in the beginning) was a pleasant surprise. What can I say? I really enjoyed this film! About a family of wrestlers!!! Huh.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Captain Marvel (2019) Review

Captain Marvel (2019)

Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Based on Captain Marvel by Stan Lee & Gene Colan & Carol Danvers by Roy Thomas & Gene Colan

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1995, the story follows Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel after Earth is caught in the center of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds.

My Opinion:

I’m short on time & haven’t even done my February Roundup post of movies I’ve watched but figured I better say a little something about Captain Marvel. After all the weird controversy and all the whining and all the sad losers down-voting it online before even seeing it, I didn’t know what the hell to expect. I’ve really enjoyed all the Marvel films although I’d never call them personal favorites and I feel that they’re all the same story and follow the same formula. I’d happily live without more superhero movies for a while. However, the Marvel ones are thoroughly entertaining and have a fun sense of humor that I appreciate (they’re popcorn movies – superhero films should be fun!).

Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick review of Captain Marvel since it’s had such unfair treatment and I wanted another positive review out there in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and, dare I say, I liked it even more than several other MCU films. I thought it was actually stronger as far as story & character development than some of the other standalone origin films (it’s way more fun than Thor, for example, as much as I lust over Hemsworth). I’ve added Captain Marvel to My Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Ranking (HERE). I’m still on a high after seeing it so, yes, I may have it a little too far up the list but it’ll be obvious that my favorite movies are the “funny” ones and I’m happy to say that Captain Marvel has way more humor than I was expecting. Pretty ironic after all the “why can’t she smile on the poster?” idiocy, huh? Samuel L. Jackson was especially hilarious (I adore that badass motherfucker) and it was a delight seeing him with Larson: Their real-life friendship gives them a great on-screen chemistry.

Wait. No. Goose was the most humorous character! Who the hell doesn’t love Goose after seeing this movie?

Is Captain Marvel a perfect film? No. Does it break Marvel’s formulaic superhero mold? No, other than its superhero lead being female. The movie does drag at the start but I feel the same about most other origin films. I thought they could’ve done much more with the characters played by Bening, Law & even Lashana Lynch as they were very underdeveloped. The young girl was sweet – I’d like to see more of her if they were to ever do another film (Oops – I just Googled her character! We’re likely to see her…).


Larson was really good in this role so I’m happy she’s proven everyone wrong (not that haters would ever admit it). I’ll be honest & say that I wasn’t sure of the casting choice either as she’s so good in serious dramas such as Room & Short Term 12 and I couldn’t picture her as a superhero. And as I said earlier, the Larson/Jackson duo was great. Seeing SO much of Nick Fury was fantastic. It’s about time! I loved him and the de-aging thing was scary good.

Will this movie be speaking to me more, though, since I’m female and was a similar age in 1995 so of course loved the references and the music? Probably. (No Doubt! Garbage! Hole! Blockbuster!!). So what? We all like different things and this movie won’t speak to everyone in the same way. I get that. But to trash it (without even seeing it) makes no sense to me. There’s a bit of “girl power” stuff but it’s not over-the-top or annoying (there’s actually a good message about never giving up, which is a message for everyone). In fact, this film is far less “political” than a lot of other superhero films. It’s a typical MCU film but actually more fun than a lot of them. And as for DC, I actually sort of enjoyed Captain Marvel as an overall film a little more than Wonder Woman. Sorry! I do think Wonder Woman is a stronger character. I’m a total sucker for the Eighties more than the Nineties, though, so I’ll probably prefer the next Wonder Woman. Give me 80’s music over 90’s! It feels a little sexist to compare the two but it’s hard to not make a comparison. Both these female-led films are really good examples of the superhero genre and are undeserving of backlash. But I honestly don’t give a shit when it comes to the genders of a film’s stars: I just want a good, entertaining movie. That’s what I got.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Stan Lee Cameo: First of all, there’s a lovely Stan Lee tribute at the start of the film which I’m sure has left everyone very teary-eyed. Then his cameo, fairly early in the film, was easily one of my favorites (and so adorably 90’s!). They even made a very small change to this cameo after his death, which made it even more meaningful (you can read about it HERE but it’s obviously a spoiler).

End Credits Scenes: There are two end credits scenes. The mid-credits scene has me very excited for Endgame (and got a very big reaction from an equally excited audience in my cinema). Don’t miss this scene. There’s also a funny post credits scene that got a lot of laughs from the clued-up people who stuck around (seriously, people – how do you not know by now that there are scenes after the Marvel end credits start rolling?!). Oh – and not only did the mid-credits scene get a huge reaction, all the funny bits in the film got lots of big laughs from my packed audience. So much for the “predictions” that this film would be a flop & that no one wanted to see it…

Number of people using their phones during this movie: Three. STOP LOOKING AT YOUR FUCKING PHONES IN CINEMAS, PEOPLE! It’s a bright fucking screen in a dark fucking room! Do you really think that the eyes of everyone sitting behind you don’t immediately go to your goddamn bright screen when you look at your phone?! SO FUCKING DISTRACTING. So fuck you very much to the woman who ruined the Stan Lee tribute as well as a very important moment of backstory explanation during this film by flashing her stupid phone. *Rant over*

Here’s No Doubt’s Just A Girl. I’ve always loved this song.

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) Review

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)

Directed & Written by Joe Cornish

Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, Denise Gough, Noma Dumezweni, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Mark Bonnar, Alexandra Roach, Genevieve O’Reilly, Nick Mohammed, Adam Buxton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a young boy who finds King Arthur’s legendary sword Excalibur, and must then use it to stop an ancient enchantress from destroying the world.

My Opinion:

Yes, I’m a grown woman but I still get excited when fun family films get made. I’ll always be a nerd. I was seriously looking forward to this one as I thought Joe Cornish’s previous film (Attack The Block) was pretty damn great. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite live up to Attack The Block but it’s still an enjoyable film. It’s also aimed younger so is more appropriate for the whole family if your kids aren’t old enough for Attack The Block.

Louis Ashbourne Serkis does a good job as the protagonist (son of Andy, of course. Ah, showbiz nepotism!). But the best part about this film is Angus Imrie as a young Merlin. He’s silly and likable and makes the film a lot more amusing as, without him, there isn’t a lot of humor plus the pacing is a bit slow at times. Oh, and OF COURSE the scenes involving Patrick Stewart are AWESOME since Patrick Stewart RULES. Stewart plays the old version of Merlin and we unfortunately don’t get to see enough of him. But young Merlin is so much fun that you don’t mind the movie switching back & forth between the two of them.

I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It’s fun and, as always, I really appreciate when decent family films get made. As a lifelong movie nerd, I want to be able to take my kid to movies that I can get some enjoyment out of as well! I think I hyped this one up too much in my mind because of Attack The Block, though. Overall, this movie felt a lot longer than it was and it definitely dragged in places (I’m afraid it didn’t hold my daughter’s attention very well). I never warmed up to the two bullies that eventually team up with our heroes. Also, all the characters could have been stronger and lacked development. But, hey – it was cool getting a unique twist on the King Arthur legend and it’s great to think that it might get some kids interested in further exploring that story. Some kids will enjoy this more than others will but I’m sure that it could end up being a favorite childhood film for kids who really buy into the story. Joe Cornish is still one to watch – I’d be happy to see him direct another film.

My Rating: 7/10

Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Review

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Directed & Written by Christopher Landon

Based on Characters by Scott Lobdell

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Rachel Matthews, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Ruby Modine

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quickie review for yet another “meh” modern horror film. I don’t know why I keep watching modern horrors. I guess I’m a bigger horror fan than I like to admit. If scrolling through Netflix, I’ll always choose a horror over a comedy or a girly romance. However, as much as modern horror sucks, I didn’t hate these Happy Death Day films (my “meh” review of the first film is HERE). They’re fine for a bit of fluffy, PG-13-level-horror fun. In fact, I preferred this sequel to the first one, although I can definitely see some absolutely hating this one as it takes a weird sci-fi direction and really ups the comedy to make this a horror comedy (even though it’s not labelled as that, which will be misleading to straightforward horror fans).

I suppose the main reason I enjoyed this one more was because the main character is no longer a bitch. I know the whole point of the first film was that her experience made her a better person but I never enjoy watching a hateful protagonist. Why should I care about the fate of someone who’s an absolute twat? This role is played by Jessica Rothe and the only praise I’ve really seen for this film is for her performance. She does carry both of these movies and does do a good job. The rest of the actors are very weak in comparison and I can’t decide if the comic relief of a rival girl in this one was annoying as hell or kind of funny. Her character is certainly cheesy but really gave the movie a 1980’s slasher comedy vibe and I’m a sucker for that decade.

That’s probably another reason why I don’t hate these movies: they’re clearly trying for a fun 80’s slasher comedy thing. I’m thinking of things like April Fool’s Day (which, by the way, is awesome and a million times better than Happy Death Day so I’d recommend that over these films). I’m happy that there’s some love for the silly 80’s horror that I grew up on so I appreciate that films such as these two and The Final Girls are being made as an homage to that era. The Final Girls is superior to the Death Day films but none of them manage to fully capture the spirit of the slasher classics and I can’t say that the Death Day films aren’t quite flawed overall. The story gets far too messy in this sequel and is really just a copy of the first film but with added (fun but unnecessary) sci-fi and way more silliness. It’ll definitely be hated by some people. My hubby thought it was abysmal while I thought it was cheesy but had some fun moments and, thankfully, a main character that I didn’t hate this time. It wasn’t worth the cost of going to see it in the cinema, though. We had some time to kill and it’s the only option we had. Wait for Netflix on this one.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Review

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Based on Gunnm by Yukito Kishiro

Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A deactivated female cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.

My Opinion:

I went into this with zero expectations or knowledge of the source material. I really enjoyed this film! It’s actually my favorite 2019 cinema release so far (but I’ve not managed to go to many movies so far this year). It’ll be interesting to see where it ranks for me by the end of the year.


First of all, this movie succeeds where so many others spectacularly fail: it has likable and fairly well-developed characters that the audience will actually care about. Okay, it’s a fun action sci-fi movie so there are plenty of one-dimensional characters but the writers clearly put some time & effort into the ones that really matter (they just could’ve spent a little more time on the male love interest). The female cyborg (Rosa Salazar) and the father-figure man who “revives” her (Christoph Waltz) are great characters and their relationship is the best thing about the film. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the look of Alita herself but I thought they did a fantastic job with her. They got a good balance between making her look different from the humans while still seeming human emotionally (especially through her extra big eyes that you quickly get used to) and never entering into creepy uncanny valley territory. She’s more likable than the majority of “human” characters in films these days. I also loved that she’s this kick-ass warrior while at the same time having the feelings and innocence of a sweet teenage girl. This could have come across as really cheesy if not handled right but it works perfectly in this film and I can’t see anyone not getting some enjoyment out of this movie, especially lovers of fun sci-fi action.

I think it’s hard to make a sci-fi film these days that doesn’t feel derivative as there have been so many brilliant stories in this genre. Does the story in Alita feel totally original? No, I suppose it doesn’t. Yet I felt like I was watching a sci-fi film I haven’t really seen before despite it borrowing from so many other films. It’s a cross between Rollerball (1975) & Blade Runner with elements of Bicentennial Man and Ellen Ripley’s Aliens “female kick-ass” action crossed with a good coming of age teen flick. It’s an odd combo that somehow works, making the film a lot of fun and making it feel more unique than it actually is. As for Rollerball, it takes the only good thing about that overall somewhat boring movie: the violent & thoroughly entertaining sport itself. It’s only one small part of Alita, though, as there are so many other storylines going on but it did add some extra fun and action to the film.


I’ve not read reviews so don’t know how others feel about this film but I hope that sci-fi lovers enjoyed it as much as I did, whether male or female. I know there’s sometimes backlash when there’s a female lead in what’s seen as a more male-dominated genre. I’ll never understand that. A good movie is a good movie and the characters are far stronger in Alita than in a lot of sci-fi films, which often lack character development. The amount of action in this should keep fans happy as well. There’s loads of action with some great fight scenes involving all kinds of funky-looking cyborgs that you really want to see Alita kick the shit out of.


Now to give this movie my rating… I struggled with this one! I’d almost up my rating to 8, actually. I might. I often come back to reviews later and adjust my rating. Bear in mind that sci-fi is my favorite genre and this movie is very much my type of thing. The film isn’t perfect. It could’ve been better. It could’ve gone deeper into Alita’s story and her feelings and the meaning of being human (explored more in things such as Ex Machina). The “baddies” were weak and we didn’t get to know enough about their motivations (the characters played Jennifer Connelly and especially Mahershala Ali, who felt a bit wasted in this). Well, sort of played by Ali… I won’t get into that (spoiler). I wouldn’t call this film shallow but it could’ve been more of a “thinky” sci-fi. However, it was a lot of fun to watch and I loved the characters. Sometimes we expect a bit too much from movies. I’d happily watch this one again, which I can’t say for a lot of movies I’ve watched in recent years. I’d love to see this one get a sequel.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Review

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Review

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Based on Lego Construction Toys

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Maya Rudolph

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: Lego Duplo invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild.

My Opinion:

Damn. What a massive letdown after The Lego Movie, which I thought was one of the best and most original animated family films of these past several years. I think they need to stop with all the freaking sequels for EVERY animated family movie that’s EVER been made. Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, whatever the hell studio made this (Warner?), etc etc etc. STOP! Just stop it, dammit! Surely they now know they’ve gone too far after the huge negative reaction to the atrocious-looking Will Smith Aladdin Genie?!?! Stop it with the sequels and the reboots and the remakes and especially the pointless live-action versions of animated classics! Latest rumor I saw online was a live-action version of A Nightmare Before Christmas. OMG. Don’t touch that! It’s perfect as is! I’ll boycott! I’ll march! I’ll go on a hunger strike! (Okay, maybe not a hunger strike)


Oh. Yeah. Back to The Lego Movie 2. After all my ranting & raving, I can’t quite put my finger on why this one was so bad compared to the first. It just lacked the heart of the original. It felt stale and unoriginal. It felt soulless. It felt like a cash-grab (as do the majority of these animated sequels). The story felt forced to fit in with the ending of the original & the sort of values that movie was promoting. The jokes weren’t as funny and there weren’t as many fun surprises & cameos. It wasn’t clever in the same way the first one was with things like the Kragle and the “Piece of Resistance”; the script for the first film was smart & truly funny. And Tiffany Haddish has quite a big voice role in the sequel, which is not fun to listen to if you find her as obnoxiously annoying and unfunny as I do (If you love her, you’re in luck!). Also, Emmet’s naive & charming cluelessness got less and less charming as this movie went on, but I’m wondering if that’s just me finding the real life Chris Pratt less and less charming lately as well. Man I’m a bitch! I think I need “unknown” celebs to be in movies since there are far too many that get on my nerves. I have to say that I appreciate Ralph Breaks The Internet a bit more now, which I found very disappointing at first. What I realised is that I still loved the characters in that sequel just as much as in the first film, which made up a bit for the story being weak. I found I didn’t care about the characters in The Lego Movie 2, although it was nice getting to know a little more about Wyldstyle (I still like her).


Okay, this movie wasn’t all bad. It just had a lot to live up to. What did I like? I loved the adorable kiddie voices of the Duplo toys. Those smiley stars and hearts with the sweet little voices were cute as shit. There were still plenty of funny jokes – I guess I’m comparing this to the first movie, which was hilarious, but this sequel was still a lot better than most of stuff made by other studios such as DreamWorks (Sorry – I’m not a DreamWorks fan). My daughter and I still got some giggles out of this one, which I always love to see. There’s also a song that’s almost as good/catchy/annoying as Everything Is Awesome so it’s great that they were almost able to match the joy of that song (it’s called, of course, Catchy Song). In the end, though, this sequel was all just a bit forgettable and disposable, which I’d never say about the first film. Oh well. They can’t all be the Citizen Kane of family-friendly animation.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Not sure if I’ll have time this week but I’ll try to review a film I went to just after this one and did really enjoy – Alita: Battle Angel. It was a pleasant surprise.

A Dog’s Way Home (2019) Review

A Dog’s Way Home (2019)

Directed by Charles Martin Smith

Based on A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Edward James Olmos, Bryce Dallas Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A female dog travels four hundred miles in search of her owner throughout a Colorado wilderness.

My Opinion:

I can’t decide if this was pukey or lovely. Okay – all family films involving cute pets are pukey. But it’s kind of hard to not like them and feel all smooshy inside when you watch them. A cute puppy is a cute puppy! Who doesn’t love a cute puppy?! This film is sweet but it could’ve been better. It’s from the same guy who wrote A Dog’s Purpose, which overall was a much better film with a far more original idea. I’m not gonna lie – I really liked A Dog’s Purpose. My cold, black soul is capable of at least liking cute animals. A Dog’s Way Home is still fun, though, and certainly worth a family movie night at home on your couch.

Oh my god – I have nothing else whatsoever to say about this movie. I’m off to a great start with this blogging thing in 2019! I think I’m just bored. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen anything really good or, at the very least, interesting. I need to see something that can jumpstart my love of film again. Something epic like Arrival. Or something weird as shit like Mandy.

Okay – A Dog’s Way Home is sweet and you’ll enjoy it if you like dogs and have a young kid and like nice, innocent, pure, inoffensive, safe entertainment. Some slightly dodgy CGI ruins it a little and the story isn’t as strong as in A Dog’s Purpose (we’ve seen an animal’s “long journey home” SO many times in movies!). But it was an enjoyable if somewhat forgettable afternoon at the cinema. It was better than Glass, at least. I guess.

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

Aquaman (2018) Review

Aquaman (2018)

Directed by James Wan

Based on Aquaman by Mort Weisinger & Paul Norris

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Aquaman, Arthur Curry, the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, must step forward to lead his people against his half-brother, Orm, who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.

My Opinion:

Well, this was fun! I wasn’t expecting to like this all that much since DC films tend to suck (other than Wonder Woman). I now like two DCEU movies! Why can’t the others be like this one? Superhero movies should be fun, not dreary and dark and depressing as shit. But maybe that’s just me: I prefer them to all be like Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Aquaman is a bit silly, though, so I’m sure it won’t be for everyone. I loved the silly. It gets a bit more bonkers as the movie goes on, which I also loved. Weirdass giant sea creatures were fun to see in a DC film and the whole underwater thing worked well and gave the movie a different feel from other superhero films, which are all becoming WAY too damn similar. Jason Momoa was also a lot of fun to watch, mainly because you can tell that he’s having a lot of fun playing this character. Okay – and he’s also hot. But my heart still belongs to Thor. Chris Hemsworth is still the ultimate hottie.

The two main female roles were also very strong, which is becoming more popular in movies. We don’t want wussy, useless women. Amber Heard & Nicole Kidman kick ass. Who ever though Kidman would kick ass?? And Amber Heard’s character was cool – I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about her as I’ve never thought she was the greatest actress. Hell, I even really liked the love story between Aquaman’s parents. I don’t normally go for that sort of thing but all the characters were so likeable in this that you wanted everyone to live happily ever after. I can’t say I give the slightest shit about either Superman or Batman in these DCEU films. The characters need to be likeable if we’re going to care about what happens to them! Hollywood still hasn’t quite figured this out.

Beyond that, I don’t know what else to say about this movie. I always struggle to “review” superhero movies. They’re fun & I enjoy them while watching them but it’s not a favorite genre of mine. I don’t expect anything Oscar worthy from them, though – I just want to switch off for a couple of hours & be entertained. Aquaman was definitely entertaining and I may have possibly liked it even more than a few of the MCU movies(!!). It was the final movie I went to in the cinema in 2018 and it was a good one to finish the year. I really enjoyed it (as did the hubby & the kid, so it was a good family movie too).

My Rating: 7/10

I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by all my 2018 Year-End Top Ten lists. So I may sneak in a viewing of Roma this weekend in case it’s worthy of the top ten (I’ll just pretend I watched it in 2018!). For now, these are all the movies I watched in 2018. Yikes. I’m actually going to cut down in 2019…

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Review

Happy New Year, everyone! I have a couple of leftover movies that I saw in the cinema in December but didn’t review: Mary Poppins Returns & Aquaman. I’ll try to review Aquaman tomorrow (enjoyed that way more than I was expecting!). Then I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by my 2018 Year-End Top Ten Lists. Woohoo! I love lists! 🙂

Here’s my review of Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Directed by Rob Marshall

Based on Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1930s London, twenty-five years after the events of the original film, it sees Mary Poppins, the former nanny of Jane and Michael Banks, returning after a family tragedy.

My Opinion:

This was fine. Somewhat enjoyable. A bit “So what?”. Completely pointless. I’ve been getting very bored with sequels, prequels, reboots, etc etc etc. I want to see something new. We have a fantastic Mary Poppins film already with a practically perfect Julie Andrews (she’s actually perfect – Andrews IS Mary Poppins). I know reboots, etc, work occasionally and I admit that it can be fun to once again see beloved characters. I think I come across as grumpy too often on this blog! I like the continuation of stories with characters that I like sometimes. But I don’t like when they feel like cash-grabs and/or they feel pointless or just don’t work and feel like inferior copies. Mary Poppins Returns felt like an inferior copy to me.

The thing I disliked the most about this movie is what I thought I would most enjoy: I really didn’t like Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. I normally love Blunt and thought she was the perfect choice when cast. The way she speaks in this got on my nerves (too posh – it sounded phoney) and this film actually made the character somewhat unlikeable. She seemed too stern whereas Andrews was also stern but there was a kindness and playfulness that Blunt didn’t manage to convey. To be fair, I’ve not read the books and Blunt’s version may be more faithful. But a lot of us grew up watching Andrews so I can’t help but compare Blunt to Mary Poppins in the original film. Andrews will always be the only Mary Poppins to me.

The other thing they were never going to live up to in this was the songs in the original film, which are some of the catchiest Disney songs ever. I saw this about a week ago and I can’t say I can immediately remember how any of the songs went. There were a couple that were okay but nothing very memorable, unlike things like A Spoonful Of Sugar or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Okay – one final thing & then I’ll try to say something nice: The story in this was pretty dull as well. Not that anyone is watching this for some complex plot so this isn’t a huge complaint for me. It was just such a predictable & uninteresting story.

Now onto the good things about this movie! I thought some of the sets looked pretty great (I enjoyed the dance number with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the lamplighters as well as the lovely balloon bit at the end). The film was colorful and I loved the costumes, especially what Mary Poppins wore (I like her funky shoes). Speaking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I liked his character. He was probably my favorite of the new main characters (I found most the others a bit dull, though, and Meryl Streep’s bit was a bit stupid and felt thrown in there just to add Meryl Streep to yet another movie). Oh, and my favorite bits of all: Dick Van Dyke and especially Angela F*^king Lansbury!

Lansbury rules! Love her so much. Have loved her since Murder, She Wrote, which is a totally awesome show (don’t you dare tell me otherwise). And she’s Mrs. Potts, people! And she sounds exactly the same now at 93 as she did in Beauty And The Beast! Lansbury is a national treasure, just like Julie Andrews. By the way – why didn’t Andrews have a cameo?? Perhaps it’s better she’s not associated with this version but giving Lansbury & Van Dyke cameos was the best thing this movie did and really added to my enjoyment. I briefly felt like a kid again thanks to them. I’ll give this movie half a point more just for the addition of Lansbury & Van Dyke…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Splendor In The Grass (1961) Blind Spot Review

Splendor In The Grass (1961)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Audrey Christie, Barbara Loden, Zohra Lampert, Fred Stewart, Joanna Roos, John McGovern, Jan Norris, Martine Bartlett, Gary Lockwood, Sandy Dennis, Crystal Field, Marla Adams, Lynn Loring, Phyllis Diller, Sean Garrison

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A fragile Kansas girl’s love for a handsome young man from the town’s most powerful family drives her to heartbreak and madness.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Metropolis
2. Splendor In The Grass
1. Enter The Dragon

Splendor In The Grass was going to be a 2019 Blind Spot choice but it was on TV so I decided to take the opportunity to watch it this year instead. I’m glad I did. I loved it. In ranking these above, I kept changing the order around between this & Metropolis but, while Metropolis is the better and more iconic film, Splendor In The Grass is the one I enjoyed more. It’s quite a girly film for me but I love a devastating, heartbreaking love story. Love should be painful! And god I love some good sexual tension in movies. It was palpable in this. It reminded me a bit of Brief Encounter. So much sexual frustration!

A big reason I wanted to see this was because I wanted to explore more of Natalie Wood’s films. She’s fantastic in this and entirely to thank for this film being so raw and emotional. She makes this movie the classic that it is. Warren Beatty is fine (this was his very first movie role) and they had good chemistry but I think his and all the other roles in this movie could’ve easily been filled by other actors and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Natalie Wood is the true star here and your heart breaks for her and you seriously want these two to rip each other’s clothes off and just have some damn fun. She was so lovely. I mean, look how lovely she is in this mustard top. Who the hell looks good in mustard?!

I suppose there’s also the real-life mysterious drowning of Natalie Wood which now makes the film feel even more tragic. In her despair & heartbreak, her character tries to drown herself and it’s widely known now that she had a terrible fear of water and was dreading doing that scene. This is from IMDb trivia:

“For the scene in which Deanie tries to drown herself in the lake, Natalie Wood asked Elia Kazan if she could do it in a controlled studio tank because she had a great fear of water – particularly dark water. “I assured her it was a very shallow lake and that her feet would always be close to the bottom,” said Kazan. “She said that even if her feet were on the bottom, she’d be in a panic of fear about it. So I asked my assistant, Charlie Maguire, to get into the water with her, just out of camera range, while she played the scene of struggling to save herself. This didn’t entirely reassure her, but she did the scene and did it well – then clutched Charlie. ‘Cut!’ I cried. On dry land she continued to shake with fear, then laughed hysterically, with relief.”

This is one of those films that wouldn’t necessarily be loved by everyone nowadays. I think it depends on if you can watch an older film (this was made in 1961 but set in 1928) and judge it by the standards of its time and when it was set. I see too many people judge older movies based on today’s ideals & morals and it always annoys me. Times change and people change. This movie has very outdated ideas on sex and the roles of men & women but that’s just the way things were. Wood’s character is a “good girl” and expected to stay that way while Beatty’s character is frustrated by his desire to have sex with her but also knowing he can’t “spoil” her so is actually encouraged to have sex with someone else instead. Beatty’s character is quite an asshole, by today’s standards especially, and there are times when the men in this act in ways that aren’t tolerated anymore (as with Beatty’s sister, who is considered an embarrassment to the family as she’s very promiscuous).

As I said, though, it’s Wood’s heartbreaking performance that made this movie such an emotional experience plus I’m always a sucker for tragic romance over a traditional “and they lived happily ever after” fairytale. Give me pain & tragedy! It feels more real. If that’s your type of thing, I think you may enjoy this film and I’d certainly recommend it if you want to see Wood at her best. I loved this movie and it’s probably one of my favorite Blind Spot choices in the three years I’ve been doing the Blind Spot Project.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Metropolis (1927) Blind Spot Review

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by Fritz Lang

Based on Metropolis (1925 novel) by Thea von Harbou

Starring: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 89 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Splendor In The Grass
2. Metropolis
1. Enter The Dragon

Well, I didn’t manage to watch my 12 Blind Spot choices this year as life got too busy but at least I watched eight. Better than nothing! And five of them were well worth the time and definitely worthy Blind Spot picks. The best was indeed Metropolis, which I’ve weirdly been putting off seeing for years despite loving the look of it and liking plenty of silent films. I watched it months ago but also put off reviewing it as it’s one of those where I don’t feel I have enough knowledge to do it any sort of justice. What can I say about it that hasn’t been said? It’s a brilliant, gorgeous film and so eerily ahead of its time. Oh, and yes I loved Enter The Dragon so I have it at number one in the above list. Of course Metropolis is the superior film but I always rank according to what I enjoyed the most and I had more fun with Enter The Dragon. I also absolutely adored Splendor In The Grass and did have that at number two until now as it moved me in a way that Metropolis didn’t but putting Metropolis below it just didn’t seem right as it’s a damn masterpiece. But I may change my mind & switch the order again. I’m like that. (I’ll try to review Splendor In The Grass tomorrow)

Metropolis of course also counts as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project. As I started that in 2013, I’m still working off that list. It breaks my heart to see old films slowly being knocked off that list & replaced with modern ones. Since 2013, Metropolis has dropped from 89 to 110. I just looked now to see what’s higher and got thoroughly annoyed at six Christopher Nolan movies having higher ratings than Metropolis. No way! Am I seriously the only person who thinks Nolan is massively overrated? I’ve only truly liked one of his movies (The Prestige). And Avengers: Infinity War is a fun film but it sure as shit isn’t Top 250 material. Okay – I’ll shut the hell up since I’ve ranked Enter The Dragon above Metropolis so I guess people just like what they like.

What I find interesting is that Fritz Lang’s film M, which I reviewed HERE, is actually higher in the list than Metropolis. Although it’s also a visual masterpiece and a brilliant example of filmmaking done right, I don’t think it’s the better film of the two. I can see why it’s higher, though, as it’s a more “accessible” film for a modern audience. It’s not silent, which I know puts some people off. It’s also a fantastic crime thriller, which is a genre with lots of fans. It’s a genre I rarely like, though. Give me sci-fi and fantasy. Metropolis is right up my alley but I can fully understand why some would find it overlong and probably even boring, although that makes me a little sad. I mean, look at these amazing images! Look! WOW. This is from 1927! Did this not blow people’s minds back then?? It must have. Although, in reading about it, it had some very negative reviews at the time.

The most negative review I saw on Wikipedia was from H.G. Wells, “who accused it of “foolishness, cliché, platitude, and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general.” He faulted Metropolis for its premise that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, wondered who was buying the machines’ output if not the workers, and found parts of the story derivative of Shelley’s Frankenstein.” A lot of reviewers at the time called the story silly & simplistic. I think it has stood the test of time pretty well, especially considering how long ago it was made, but it’s not as scarily prophetic as some later sci-fi films exploring similar themes and ideas involving the future of mankind. There’s still a huge divide between the rich and the poor but our world looks very different from Lang’s vision and he never could have predicted today’s technology and the way in which it controls us mentally more than physically. We’re living in a dystopian future as predicted but it’s a very different dystopia than Lang predicted. So, while this film is stunningly beautiful, I can’t say I connected with it quite as much as some other sci-fi classics when it came to the overall story.

Before I end this so called review, I figured I should also mention The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari as it’s another example of German Expressionism in film. That’s two silent German Expressionist movies I’ve seen! I’m, like, an expert now! Okay – I have zero knowledge on this topic. All I know is that it looks cool as shit and I could spend all day looking at the type of imagery used in these two films. It’s stark and haunting and a little bit creepy and I love it. I like my art a little bit creepy (H.R. Giger is the best). So, again, this is my type of thing but won’t be to everyone’s taste. I admit to being a sucker for great visuals in a film. Give me great imagery & cinematography and I’m happy. Add a beautiful score as well and I’m over the damn moon, such as in a Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western. That’s epic filmmaking. That’s the type of thing I expect when I think “Top 250 Films Of All Time”. Metropolis is iconic, beautiful, and epic. To me, at least. To others, it’s probably boring as shit. Story-wise, it’s not perfect. It’s a little bit messy and I can see how those at the time probably found it pretentious. Would I stick a Metropolis poster up in my cinema room (if I was rich & had such a thing)? Hell Yeah! The film is a work of art. Is it a new all-time favorite film of mine? No, I’ll admit it’s not. If I’m honest, I’ll put Splendor In The Grass just above it on my list. I enjoyed it more. I told you I’d probably change my mind! But nothing can top the artistry of Metropolis.

My Rating: 8.5/10

The King’s Speech (2010) IMDB Top 250 Review

The King’s Speech (2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 160 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

My Opinion:

Happy Boxing Day! I love this day. I prefer this day to Christmas Day. Far less stressful! Which is why I’ve decided to do a mega quick & lazy review of The King’s Speech, which was one of only three movies I managed to watch for my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2018. I’m seriously slacking on that! (The other two were Citizen Kane & Metropolis, which I’ll review tomorrow).

I didn’t get around to this review as I don’t have much to say about this movie. I hate that. I mean, it’s a good film but I find my reviews only get wordy when I really love or really hate a film (I ramble on for ages when I really hate something). Too many films are somewhere in between: Enjoyable enough while watching them but somewhat forgettable. The King’s Speech is like that. And it won Best Picture at the Oscars! Hmm. Here’s what it beat:

127 Hours (not seen it – there’s that arm bit – ew)
Black Swan (certainly more memorable than The King’s Speech)
The Fighter (meh)
Inception (Nolan is overrated)
The Kids Are All Right (meh)
The Social Network (decent film but also meh)
Toy Story 3 (yeah, I prefer this to The King’s Speech)
True Grit (not seen it)
Winter’s Bone (meh)

Okay – it looks like it was a weak year for films. Now I’m wondering what wasn’t nominated at all that may have been better than these (I’m too lazy to bother looking into that).

I remember that I watched this just after watching Darkest Hour so it was interesting seeing that same time period in English history. Movies are the only way I gain any knowledge of history – I have such a Hollywood version of world history in my head. Pathetic, I know. What can I say? I prefer sci-fi & fantasy. I remember thinking Timothy Spall made for a terrible Winston Churchill in this compared to Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance. Not that it matters – it was a very small part since this movie is about King George VI. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all truly fantastic in their roles. That’s why it won Best Picture. Those Academy voters love historical dramas with English accents. Well, Rush isn’t English but Americans can’t tell the difference anyway…

Colin Firth won Best Actor for this, which I think was fair enough. He’s very good in this but I find him rather boring. He plays this stuffy sort of role so often (which is why I guess it was kind of fun seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service). I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance and think she deserved an Oscar as well instead of Melissa Leo in The Fighter. Hell, I don’t even remember Leo’s performance – I only remember her swearing in her acceptance speech. To be fair, Bonham Carter plays these stuffy sort of roles more often than Firth but I don’t find her boring. She’s damn good. I’ve never considered myself a fan but I think she always gives a great performance. Maybe I am a fan?? I’ve not watched her stuffiest stuff, though. Maybe I should check out some of that Merchant Ivory shit?? As for Geoffrey Rush, he’s fantastic in this too and also deserved an Oscar (instead of Christian Bale in The Fighter – I hate Bale). But I think Geoffrey Rush is the latest celeb in trouble for some sex stuff from the past so I’ll say no more. At this rate, I’ll have to delete half my blog if I have to get rid of any mention of certain actors…

I said I’d keep this short. The King’s Speech is a good film with fantastic performances. It’s one of those “one-time watch” movies, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I did actually enjoy it but I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. It’s certainly weak compared to all the other Best Picture winners & nominees in the history of the Oscars. It’s certainly not the worst, though (I’m looking at you, The English F*%king Patient!). Since I’m a sad & pathetic list maniac, I did rank every Best Picture Oscar Winner I’ve seen HERE and I’ve now added The King’s Speech. It’s toward the bottom but I did enjoy it. I feel like I’m being too harsh on this one! It’s just not all-time classic “Best Picture” material. Or IMDb Top 250 material, which is why I think this has actually now dropped out of that list (I started this project in 2013 so I’m still working off the list from that time).

My Rating: 7/10

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) (2011) Review

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices)
星を追う子ども
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Directed & Written by Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Hisako Kanemoto, Kazuhiko Inoue, Miyu Irino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A coming of age story involving young love and a mysterious music, coming from a crystal radio left as a memento by an absent father, that leads a young heroine deep into a hidden world.

My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch this film for ages. It was recommended to me by S.G. of Rhyme And Reason a very long time ago & I picked up the DVD right away but then it sat on a shelf for years (like most DVDs I buy). Thanks for the recommendation, S.G.! Like Shinkai’s other work, it’s a lovely film and I really enjoyed it. I have to say I slightly prefer his other films, though, which I didn’t expect as the story in Journey To Agartha is much more “me”.

This anime is from director Makoto Shinkai, who also made Your Name and two beautiful short films that I watched recently: 5 Centimetres Per Second & The Garden Of Words. I’m still fairly new to anime so I stick to the most mainstream stuff and admit that Studio Ghibli will always be what I love the most. Beyond that, Shinkai & Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, Summer Wars, etc) are the two main directors I’ve been exploring. So far, I think I slightly prefer Shinkai’s work. This is mainly because of his style more than the actual stories themselves: his films are beautiful works of art. They’re all very “teenage love story”, though, so I was looking forward to Journey To Agartha as it sounded like a far more interesting plot. It’s “weird” and much darker than the other Shinkai films I’ve seen.

But I couldn’t really get into this one. I think the reason was partly because I couldn’t help but keep comparing it some of the Miyazaki Ghiblis. It’s a bit of Castle In The Sky crossed with Howl’s Moving Castle and a sprinkle of Spirited Away. Those are brilliant, of course, so nothing from other directors or studios can really compare to them. When I want that sort of style, I watch a Ghibli film. From the little I’ve seen, I prefer when Shinkai has stuck to his own style. Your Name worked really well for him so I don’t think he needs to try to make a Ghibli-inspired film. I also didn’t really connect with the characters in this one in the same way I did with those in his other films (such as the woman in The Garden Of Words – she was a strong character). The story in this was also intriguing but the plot was a little messy (but Howl’s Moving Castle can be accused of that too).

I do think this film really picked up at the end, though. The climactic scene was pretty cool & intense (don’t let your young kids watch this one – it’s aimed at an older audience). And this dude was pretty groovy, even though he’s one of the most obvious Ghibli-inspired things:

Oh yeah! And I forgot that the girl’s animal companion in this reminded me very much of the one in Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Journey To Agartha but I haven’t yet seen an anime film that I’ve not enjoyed. This one won’t be an absolute favorite, though. I think my expectations may have been a little high as, looking at the images, it looked like one I’d love. However, I’d like to give it another try sometime as I watched it after a crappy night out so probably wasn’t in the right kind of mood. I’ll see what the kid thinks of it once she’s a couple of years older and I’ll see if my opinion changes on a re-watch. For now, I’m a bigger fan of Your Name.

My Rating: 7/10

I’ll be reviewing Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai later today. I can’t quite decide if I preferred Journey To Agartha or Mirai…

Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms & The Grinch Movie Reviews

Three more quickies today as I try to catch up on reviewing the 2018 films I’ve seen. Two of these were okay (just okay) and one was pretty dreadful…

Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

Directed by Rich Moore & Phil Johnston

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph,” Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.

My Opinion:

I love the first Wreck-It Ralph. I think it’s easily one of the better Disney films of recent years and I appreciated that it felt like such an original idea. Hell, it’s almost as good as Pixar’s films! (Almost). And being a lover of the Eighties, I of course loved the classic video game element. Therefore, it was likely that I wouldn’t enjoy this sequel as much. It doesn’t have the magic of the first film (as is often the case with sequels). And it also loses the simple video game innocence of the first film by making the Internet the focus of this one (and having all the brand names in your face constantly). I hate the Internet. Okay… I’m on it all the damn time… (like now). But I’d still rather be living in the pre-Internet Eighties again.

I’ll start with the best thing about this sequel: Ralph & Vanellope. I love these characters and they’re just as loveable in the sequel as in the first film. Actually, Vanellope is even better in this one – she’s much sweeter since becoming friends with Ralph. They make this movie worth watching and I did really enjoy seeing them again even though I didn’t like the story itself all that much. I also enjoyed the “Oh My Disney” bit. It kind of goes against saying I wasn’t crazy about all the commercialism but I admit that I love Disney. I’m a Disney whore! I love going into the damn Disney Store. I’m such a child. So, I did really like seeing Vanellope with all the Disney princesses. Those bits were a lot of fun and I liked spotting so many other Disney characters & references. Oh and I loved that one cameo (don’t want to spoil it)! Screw it – This is a Disney film. They’re allowed to Disney-fy the crap out of it! I liked those bits just fine.

Where it fails is when it talks about eBay & memes & viral videos & etc etc etc. And the end gets a bit bizarre and didn’t really work for me at all. I really missed the innocence of the first film. This was okay but where can they go from here? It was just a little disappointing but my expectations weren’t too high anyway since Disney sequels are rarely all that great. Oh, but the end credits scenes were brilliant! There are two: one partway through the credits and one at the very end. I highly recommend staying for them as they’re pretty much better than the entire movie itself.

My Rating: 7/10

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms (2018)

Directed by Lasse Hallström & Joe Johnston

Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann & The Nutcracker by Marius Petipa

Starring: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This is a retelling of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker, about a young girl who is gifted a locked egg from her deceased mother and sets out in a magical land to retrieve the key.

My Opinion:

Wow – this has very negative reviews & ratings on IMDb. I don’t fully understand why. I think people were definitely too harsh on this one. No, it’s certainly not great and is quite weak for a Disney film but it was lovely to look at and had a fun story. Hell, I enjoyed it more than that live-action and completely pointless Beauty And The Beast. At least this is a story I didn’t already know and isn’t a re-hash of a far superior film.

Maybe the story was a little too weird for audiences these days? People don’t really go for anything slightly bizarre anymore. As I said, it’s quite a lovely looking film and I liked that it felt a bit like Narnia at first. It makes for a good winter movie in the lead up to Christmas. I also thought the main girl was very good, just as she was in Interstellar (she was the only good thing about that overblown Nolan film).

And Morgan Freeman is in this. Yay! (Am I allowed to admit to loving him again yet? Are people over the “oh my god, he said flirty things to women!” bullshit?). And Helen Mirren – I like that saucy minx too. Unfortunately, Keira Knightley is in this as well. Have I mentioned that she annoys me? (Yes, I have. Many times). Speaking of her and how I said in my previous review that I’m a Disney whore: Knightley recently got on her high horse again and said she doesn’t let her kid(s?) watch Disney movies because they’re a bad influence and blah blah blah. Screw that. How about you talk to them & teach them the difference between reality & fantasy and then let them watch what every other kid watches and enjoys? Are they not allowed to watch this movie, then???

Anyway. This movie was okay but it was also missing something. I can’t quite figure out what it was missing, though. It has the right elements to make it a family classic but it’s already fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing it. Maybe it’s Knightley’s fault! Her role is too big. She got on my nerves, especially with that stupid voice she put on. Yeah, let’s blame her. Otherwise, this is a decent enough family Disney movie that doesn’t quite deserve the horrible reviews it has had.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Grinch (2018)

Directed by Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney

Based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury

Narrated by Pharrell Williams

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows the Grinch as he plans to ruin Whoville’s Christmas celebration by stealing all the town’s decorations and gifts.

My Opinion:

Ugh. No. Okay – I’m a big fan of the 1966 American TV classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Who isn’t?! That show has been a yearly American tradition for ages now. It’s one of the most beloved holiday TV specials. That’s why they shouldn’t have done this film. They were never going to live up to something that is, quite frankly, almost complete perfection.

Speaking of movies fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing them, I can barely remember a thing about The Grinch now. I remember liking his adorable and long-suffering dog Max, but the same goes for the 1966 version anyway. I think the biggest problem with this version is this: The Grinch isn’t enough of an asshole. TV Grinch was gloriously mean. Then, to make it even worse, this movie added a bullshit backstory to help explain why The Grinch is a bit of an asshole. We don’t need a stupid backstory! Can’t someone just be an asshole for the hell of it? I mean, I’m a bit of an asshole for no good reason. This is probably why I’ve always slightly preferred The Grinch before his heart grows. He’s damn funny at the beginning of the 1966 version. He’s boring as shit in this lifeless adaptation.

Oh well – I guess it’s still not as bad as that Jim Carrey monstrosity, which is one of my most-hated movies of all time. Just leave The Grinch the fuck alone, Hollywood. That’s what he wants anyway! Oh, and why the hell did they have Pharrell Williams only narrate this movie and not do the music as well? His music is one of the things that makes Despicable Me so great. Illumination is clearly never going to live up to that film ever again.

My Rating: 4.5/10

A Simple Favor, American Animals & Slaughterhouse Rulez Movie Reviews

I’m determined to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Here are three quick reviews I never got around to and I have three more quickies ready for tomorrow (Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, and The Grinch. Merry Christmas! I know you desperately need to know my stupid opinion on movies…

A Simple Favor (2018)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Simple Favor follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend.

My Opinion:

I went to this one night with no expectations as I had a couple of hours to spare. I enjoyed the shit out of this! It’s a fun film. A “chick flick” with dark humor and a fucking filthy mouth from Blake Lively, who gives her husband’s Deadpool character a run for his money. To be fair, I wouldn’t call this a chick flick but any movie with two female leads tends to be labelled with that annoying title. As a girl who isn’t very girly, I appreciate a movie with female leads that isn’t all soppy romantic bullshit or Bridget Fucking Jones or Mamma Barf-O-Mia (no offense to anyone who likes those). 😉 But this is more my type of chick flick.

Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively are far from favorite actresses of mine but they couldn’t have been more perfect for these roles: Kendrick as a nerdy prude and Lively as a beautiful, sophisticated bitch. They both seemed to be having a lot of fun and were pretty damn hilarious. I feel that actresses are rarely given any credit for being funny. Sorry – here’s a quick rant that I’ve had before: Speaking of the director, Paul Feig, he also did Bridesmaids. I don’t like Bridesmaids – it’s not my type of humor. But I can’t deny that there are funny moments and the women in it were very good for that type of film. The Hangover has very similar humor but an all-male cast and a much higher rating on IMDb. Neither are my thing but Bridesmaids is the far superior “dumb comedy”. There seems to be a real backlash anytime women do comedy. It’s odd.

Rant over! Back to this movie. This film falls into several categories and I kind of loved that it’s hard to define. Dark comedy, crime, mystery, thriller… The story has twists and it keeps you guessing and it’s kind of stupid but it’s meant to be silly. It was a great “chill out” movie – you’re not meant to take the mystery too seriously. I don’t know if this will make some turn their noses up but it reminded me of the pulpy mystery thrillers that are guilty reading pleasures of mine sometimes (but with added black humor, making things much more fun). Plus, Lively’s hubby was a hottie so that was enjoyable too.

I won’t say much more as this is a movie where you’re better off not knowing too much about the plot beforehand. If you watch it with an open mind & don’t take the story too seriously you should have a good time.

My Rating: 7.5/10

American Animals (2018)

Directed by Bart Layton

Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
American Animals is based on the true story of a library heist that happened at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.

My Opinion:

Okay – American Animals is a far more worthy film than A Simple Favor. However, it almost bored me to tears. Considering that the true story involving a bizarre library heist is really damn interesting, they somehow managed to make this film a bit of a snoozefest. Well, okay – the heist itself was exciting but it takes ages to get to that small part of the film. I think the biggest problem may be that it’s part-documentary, which didn’t really work. So it went back & forth between the actors acting it out & the real-life guys talking about it. This could’ve worked but it just didn’t. It gave the film a weird flow plus the main actor looking nothing whatsoever like the real guy was somewhat distracting.

Huh. I really have nothing more to say about this. It was disappointing. It actually would’ve made for a much better full-out documentary instead. At least they tried something a little different style-wise, I guess. Oh! I did like that they looked like the Beastie Boys in the Sabotage video when they put on their cheesy 70’s-looking disguises for the heist. Funny.

My Rating: 6/10

Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)

Directed by Crispian Mills

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Margot Robbie

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An illustrious British boarding school becomes a bloody battleground when a mysterious sinkhole appears at a nearby fracking site unleashing unspeakable horror.

My Opinion:

Wow. This was pretty dreadful. I was excited for this one before it came out as I think a lot of us saw “horror comedy” and the names Simon Pegg & Nick Frost and thought we’d have another Shaun Of The Dead on our hands. Ha! Not even close.

The idea was a good one: fracking causing creatures to come to the surface & attack a snobby boarding school. Plus, I wanted to see this as it was partly filmed at Chislehurst Caves in Kent. I’ve been there. I think I’ve been to most the tourist caves in England plus the catacombs in Paris. I have a weird fascination with creepy, underground places. Anyway – Chislehurst Caves is a cool place & I recommend checking it out if you’re a weirdo like me. Maybe I’ll help Kent tourism! Here’s their website: Chislehurt Caves. Here’s an image from the website:

Oh. Was I meant to be talking about Slaughterhouse Rulez? I honestly can’t be arsed. It was a wasted cinema trip but just about good enough to check out on Netflix if you want to zone out to something stupid. The main characters are fairly decent so it’s good that you want them to survive and the remaining over-the-top rich asshole students to die. Pegg & Frost are odd and there was really no point of having them in the film at all. Oh, and Margot Robbie is nothing more than a cameo on a screen so don’t get all excited thinking she’s in this. And I currently can’t even remember what the creatures looked like so that’s not saying much.

My Rating: 5.5/10

A Star Is Born (2018) Review

A Star Is Born (2018)

Directed by Bradley Cooper

Based on A Star Is Born by William A. Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker & Alan Campbell

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Star Is Born follows a hard-drinking musician (Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with a young singer (Gaga).

My Opinion:

I’m way behind on reviewing 2018 movie releases I’ve seen (I have 9 more to go!). So I’ll post a bunch of quickies this week, starting with this one since you know it’ll be up for shitloads of Oscars. Is it Oscar-worthy? I’d say that the performances definitely are although the story itself is one we’ve seen loads of times. The characters are very strong in this film, though, which kept me fully interested for its 2 hour 16 minute running time despite the fact that dreary dramas aren’t at all my type of thing.

It was good seeing this after watching Bette Midler in The Rose a few months ago. Milder was great but that movie seems to have been forgotten even though she was nominated for an Oscar. It’s a similar story of a rock star in a downward spiral and also well worth a watch if A Star Is Born is your type of thing. As I said, though, this story has been done many times so it was important to get the characters right. I was surprised at how “real” Cooper & Gaga felt, especially when it came to their relationship and how they felt about each other. I’m not at all a fan of either of them, which is why I didn’t rush out to see this one. But by the end, I just wanted them to live happily ever after and make great music together (their characters, not them – Lady Gaga isn’t my type of music). And… Sam Elliott!!! Loved him as Cooper’s brother. Who doesn’t love that stud? I’ll forever love him thanks to Mask & Road House. The most surprising thing, though, was seeing Andrew Dice Clay’s name in the credits at the end and actually having to Google him to see who the hell he played. Her father?! That was a big role! That was him? He was… good. Huh.

Is this film good enough to possibly win Best Picture? It’s certainly not up there with some of the absolute Oscar classics but at least it’s not one I’d be annoyed to see win. At the very least, it does deserve Oscars in the acting categories. What it doesn’t deserve is some of the weird backlash it’s had. I had to read these words (which annoy the fuck out of me) too many times when seeing people discuss this movie on Twitter: “toxic masculinity“. Seriously? Fuck off with that phrase. Cooper is great in this film and his character is broken and he needs help. I didn’t find anything at all toxic about him or their relationship. They both fully supported each other’s careers (he only criticized hers a little when he felt she wasn’t being true to herself anymore). They never stopped loving each other despite their problems. How was he toxic? Had their characters’ roles been reversed, no one would be calling Gaga’s character “toxic”. No one called Midler “toxic” in The Rose. Sorry for the rant – I just get sick of self-righteous bullshit phrases being thrown around online these days. Guess I’m just old since I found this to be a strong love story and pretty damn heartbreaking. And it’s so not my usual type of film.

My Rating: 8/10

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Review

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 biographical film about the British rock band Queen. It follows singer Freddie Mercury’s life leading to Queen’s Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies where I’m glad I waited a couple of weeks before reviewing it. If I’d written it while still on a “high” just after seeing it, I’d have rated it too highly. It’s a fun film. I like Queen and of course love Freddie Mercury (I did a list of My Top Ten Queen Songs HERE). Who doesn’t love Freddie?? He’s a legend and I miss the days when we had proper performers like him. And Bowie. (I’m still not over being upset about Bowie’s death either!). Anyway, this film was a lot of fun but it’s not going to be an all-time classic. It’s somewhat disposable and, while Rami Malek did well, it’s not an Oscar-worthy performance. I never really felt like I was watching Freddie Mercury. (Sorry!)

I can see that this film is similar to The Greatest Showman: audiences love it while critics have been harsh in their reviews. It’s easy to understand why it has fans. It’s great hearing all of Queen’s biggest singles and witnessing the creation of Bohemian Rhapsody was an absolute joy (whether or not it was accurate – I have no idea). And as a huge fan of Wayne’s World, I personally adored the fact that they had Mike Myers playing a record executive who hated their weird opera song. Brilliant.

Rami Malek may not exactly feel like Mercury but, to be fair, I don’t think anyone could ever do Mercury justice. Malek was still very good & fun to watch. I think credit hasn’t really been given to the rest of the band in the film, though. Gwilym Lee was especially good as Brian May. However, what I possibly enjoyed the most was seeing Freddie’s relationship with Mary Austin. I knew of her but knew very little of their relationship. I was glad that there was so much focus on her as she was such an important part of his life and I thought Lucy Boynton was great. Again, I think she’s probably not been given enough credit but, to be fair to Malek, it’s probably much easier playing a character who isn’t as well known as Mercury. I also liked her a lot in the fantastic Sing Street so she’s definitely one to watch.

I haven’t read any reviews so don’t actually know what negative things the critics are saying but I do know they like a gritty drama when it comes to biopics and Bohemian Rhapsody certainly isn’t a gritty drama. The movie feels very watered down. It’s a very “family friendly” version of the life of a rock band. Come on – where was all the raunchy sex?!?!? I don’t really mind when Hollywood movies do this, though. If you wants facts, watch a documentary or read a book about Queen. This movie is pure entertainment. As long as you know what you’ll be getting if you watch it, you should enjoy it if you like Queen’s music and just want to know a little bit about the band (but mostly Freddie). It’s a fun movie but not a great film. That was fine with me since I just wanted some light entertainment anyway.

My Rating: 7/10

I definitely have to end with the Wayne’s World clip…

Halloween (2018) Review

Halloween (2018)

Directed by David Gordon Green

Based on Characters by John Carpenter & Debra Hill

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set 40 years after the original film, the plot follows Laurie Strode as she prepares to face Michael Myers when he returns to Haddonfield, Illinois, after his killing spree on Halloween night in 1978.

My Opinion:

This will be a quick review as I don’t have time to write much. I only just watched this on Monday night but it would be stupid to review it after Halloween, so… here’s a quickie! To be honest, I don’t have a lot to say about this one anyway (unlike the film Mandy, which I reviewed HERE earlier today).

The original Halloween is obviously a slasher classic. That’s thanks to the brilliant John Carpenter and, of course, the best horror film score ever. There have been loads of inferior slashers since and I can’t say that this 2018 film feels much different than all the copycats that’ve come along since 1978. I saw nothing in this film that I haven’t seen in hundreds of other horrors. It’s not an awful film. It’s just… Okay. And “just okay” annoys me.

Don’t get me wrong – I did get some enjoyment out of this one. It was great seeing Jamie Lee Curtis vs. Michael Myers once again and I of course love seeing a movie with a female lead of her age kicking ass at the box office. There were some pointless bits, like the inclusion of two completely unnecessary “reporters”, and the first half of the film feels like a copy of the 1978 film with teenagers (one babysitting) being targeted. However, that formula worked well in the first movie so I didn’t have a problem with it. Unfortunately, I think the big finale and final showdown were disappointing. I expected to find that all a bit more exciting after a 40-year wait.

Oh well. Halloween (2018 – why couldn’t they just give it a different title?!) is okay. If you’re a big fan of this series of films, you probably really enjoyed this one (even though it erases all previous sequels & is a direct sequel to the original film). I’ll be honest – I’ve not seen all the Halloween films. That’s unusual for me, considering that I grew up on stuff like this. I may get around to them all someday but I know that only the first one is really worth my time. I’ve always been more of an Elm Street girl anyway…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Let’s end with with John Carpenter’s amazing Halloween theme. Love it.

Mandy (2018) Review

Mandy (2018)

Directed by Panos Cosmatos

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, Bill Duke

Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiraling, surreal rampage of vengeance.

My Opinion:

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this film. Mandy isn’t even the weirdest film I’ve seen: I watch loads of weird shit so this was actually fairly tame. But I can usually think of other movies to compare a film to so that I can give you a better idea of what sort of thing to expect if you watch it. I don’t know what can be compared to this one. Maybe some Lars von Trier (mostly Melancholia)? I definitely thought of Heavy Metal & Hellraiser a few times. I didn’t get a David Lynch vibe from this – Mandy is weird in a completely different sort of way (Mandy is more my type of weird than Lynch’s work). Maybe a bit of Under The Skin style-wise? Maybe. Not really. I don’t know. Mandy isn’t much like anything I’ve seen before. And I love that! As I watch so many films, I’m always searching for something that feels a little bit different. Mandy certainly satisfied that need.

But did I like it? I definitely enjoyed watching it and it was probably worth the extremely expensive trip into London to see it. Yes, I liked it. I didn’t love it – I just appreciated seeing something so memorable. I can’t imagine watching it again but, with something like this, I don’t feel the need to as I’ll never forget it. That’s also important to me as I watch so many films that end up being truly forgettable. There are movies I saw a year ago that I hardly remember a thing about now. What’s the point of that?? I feel like I waste too much time on movies but that’s because I’m always searching for something feels like a work of art. I’m happy to say that, although I’m still trying to fully sort out my feelings on it, Mandy was worth my time. I expect it to make it into my Top Ten at the end of this year but it’s very hard to know where to place it at the moment.

Let’s start with what I liked the most: My favorite thing was probably Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score. What a terrible loss to the world of filmmaking. Mandy is dedicated to him – it’s one of the last films he scored before his death. He’s most known for his work on several of the brilliant Denis Villeneuve’s films and his score for Mandy truly helped set the bizarre, trippy & unsettling mood. Next would be the way that Panos Cosmatos used color throughout the film. It’s a beautiful film. Great imagery, combined with an atmospheric score, are often all I need to keep me happy. Oh, speaking of Villeneuve, I suppose I was also reminded a bit of Blade Runner 2049 here with the gorgeous use of color or cinematography or whatever the hell made these movies so lovely (I know nothing about filmmaking – I just know what my eyes like).

Besides a great score & look, the next thing I most care about is great characters. Mandy isn’t quite as strong on that as it is on its look & sound but the actors were all fantastic and made these characters far stronger & more interesting than you normally get in a horror film. The story itself, well, isn’t really all that important anyway. I’m not sure what the hell was going on with the Weird Science demon biker dudes but that doesn’t matter either. They were silly fun. All you need to know is that it’s a revenge film and who doesn’t love a good revenge film? It’s the only time I can stomach violence in a movie: when evil fuckers get what’s coming to them. Is that fucked-up? I’m a wuss with violence but didn’t look away during any of Mandy. That may partly be due to it being cheesy, 80’s sort of gore (the film is set in 1983 so that’s the vibe it’s going for).

Back to the characters: Nicolas Cage is really good in this. Yes. Can you believe it? I’m not really a fan as he’s just too damn cheesy most of the time. I’ll say there were two fellow bloggers who helped convince me to make the journey to see Mandy: Mike at Screenkicker (review HERE) and Greg Moss at Mossfilm (review HERE). I totally agree with what Greg said about it feeling like Cage was reined in on this one. He’s still crazy Nic Cage but it works with this bonkers film and he’s far less nuts than the bad guys. He was perfect for this role & I assume credit has to be given to Cosmatos for Cage not being too over-the-top for once. Even looking like this, he’s not the craziest motherfucker in this thing:

And his thirst for vengeance is completely understandable as we get a good amount of time seeing his character with Mandy and how in love they are. Andrea Riseborough gives a great understated performance as Mandy (someone had to be understated in this thing!). It was a good contrast with the batshit crazy leader of the cult who becomes obsessed with her & tries to make her another one of his followers. Cult leader Jeremiah is played by Linus Roache and he’s probably the most terrifying character I’ve seen in quite a while. Michael Myers has nothing on this twat. (By the way – I’m reviewing the new Halloween movie later today). Jeremiah is completely unhinged and I wanted Nic Cage to kill the absolute fuck out of this bastard:

Whoa. This is the longest “review” I’ve written in ages. It just goes to show that I’m far more interested in a film like this than I am in the same old predictable shit that we normally see. As I said, I’ll be posting my review of Halloween (2018) later today and it’s super short as I have very little to say about it. It’s nothing we haven’t seen in hundreds of other slashers. But Mandy is unique. Most people are likely to hate it if they watch it but they certainly won’t forget it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

To give you a little bit of an idea of the mood of this film, the below King Crimson song (Starless) is played at the beginning. It sets the mood perfectly. Mandy is basically the prog rock of movies: it’s trippy, it’s a little bit pretentious, and only a select few will actually like it (yes, I do like a bit of prog rock when I’m in the mood for that sort of thing…):

Happy Death Day (2017) & The Ritual (2017) Reviews

Finally – here are two review re-posts of two horror movies I watched this year that weren’t truly dreadful. I didn’t love them but they were watchable, unlike most the horror films I saw at home this year…

Happy Death Day (2017)

Directed by Christopher B. Landon

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Happy Death Day follows a college student who is murdered on her birthday and begins reliving the day over and over again; at that point, she sets out to find the killer and stop her death.

My Brief Opinion:

I was really annoyed that I missed this in the cinema last year as it sounded like a fun horror in the slightly-cheesy 80’s slasher style I’ll always have affection for (since I’m old). But the movie was a disappointment, although it’s enjoyable enough for an hour and a half of your time. I just think I won’t remember a thing about it in a few years. The biggest problem was probably that the main character was a hateful bitch, so it was hard to care if she’d ever be able to stop her murder from happening. Yeah, she changes at the end (as to be expected – the whole point is that she needs to be a better person), but… Meh. I think my expectations were just too high. This concept was obviously done so well in Groundhog Day that nothing that’s tried to use that same idea has worked as well. If you want a non-horror teen movie with the same idea, I enjoyed Before I Fall slightly more than this one. And if you want a modern horror comedy with a cheesy 80’s thing going on, The Final Girls was better than this one as well.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Ritual (2017)

Directed by David Bruckner

Based on The Ritual by Adam Nevill

Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.

My Brief Opinion:

Still not sure about this horror film. For the most part, I think I liked it. It was atmospheric and genuinely creepy at times (I rarely find horror movies scary in any way). The conflict between this group of friends due to something that happens at the beginning worked quite well with the story later on of the presence in the forest and the way it brings out hidden resentment. The thing that will make people love this or hate this is the ending. The movie changes and becomes a much different film from the Blair Witch type of beginning and this won’t work for everyone. I didn’t mind the ending but preferred the more mysterious, less in-your-face start to the film.

My Rating: 6/10

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) Blind Spot Review

Tetsuo (aka Tetsuo: The Iron Man) (鉄男 Tetsuo)

Directed & Written by Shinya Tsukamoto

Starring: Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Shinya Tsukamoto

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.

I did a mini-review of this film recently then remembered it was one of my alternate 2018 Blind Spot choices. I’m way behind on doing those this year & don’t think I’ll manage to watch all 12 films. So this is a re-post of my very short review of Tetsuo.

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Metropolis
2. Splendor In The Grass
1. Enter The Dragon

My Opinion On Tetsuo:

I’ve been meaning to watch this Japanese cyberpunk horror film for years as I have a weird fascination with body horror (god knows why – I’m a wuss when it comes to violence). I really wanted to see it before doing the list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies but it wouldn’t have made the list anyway. It’s only just over an hour long but it felt like it was never going to end. The last 20 minutes or so just go on & on & on (I decided to fast-forward).

I suppose this movie was shocking in 1989 but we’ve had The Human Freaking Centipede since then, so… is anything really going to gross anyone out in this fucked-up world anymore? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.”

I like weird movies and especially love ones with great imagery but the low budget imagery in this wasn’t good enough to make up for the meandering story and the terrible characters. It’s certainly original and one of the stranger films I’ve seen but I didn’t expect to mostly just find it boring. It’s fucked-up, though. I’ll give it that. It’s one of very few movies I have that I’ll have to keep hidden away – you sure as shit don’t want your kids to ever get hold of this one.

My Rating: 6/10

By the way – SPOILER: the dude’s dick turns into this big metal drill-thing. I’m sure there’s some sort of meaning behind that. Kinky fuckers probably love this film. Watch it if you’re a kinky fucker! (I’m not saying I’m a kinky fucker – I just like to watch weird shit).

Frozen (2010), Dig Two Graves, Cargo & Jug Face Movie Reviews

Here are three reposts of short horror reviews I did and one new review of a truly dreadful film that I watched over the weekend.

Frozen (2010)

Directed & Written by Adam Green

Starring: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Three skiers stranded on a chairlift are forced to make life-or-death choices, which prove more perilous than staying put and freezing to death.

My Brief Opinion:

Not the Anna & Elsa Frozen! I didn’t mind this horror film even though it’s a bit ridiculous. Three annoying twenty-somethings are left stranded on a ski chairlift when the resort shuts down for a week (or however long). That’s it. That’s the story. Actually, it ended up being okay and we got to know and like these characters a little. Well, they ended up far less annoying than they were at first at least. They do stupid shit but, to be honest, I’m not sure what I’d do in the same situation. Probably freeze to death. My rating is maybe a little harsh but it did get a bit too silly (and gross) and slightly boring at times. At least it’s far better than that horror movie where three twat twenty-somethings are trapped in an ATM booth thingy by some psychotic killer (in the imaginatively-titled ATM).

My Rating: 5.5/10

Dig Two Graves (2014)

Directed by Hunter Adams

Starring: Ted Levine, Samantha Isler, Danny Goldring, Troy Ruptash

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After her brother’s tragic death a young girl meets three men who claim they can bring her brother back to life.

My Brief Opinion:

Why do I occasionally watch random movies on Netflix that I’ve never heard of?? Well, I luck out sometimes – I thought Circle was fantastic. But the random ones in the horror genre are always shit. I’ll say that the acting in this was decent, though. Far better than the story itself, which didn’t hold my interest. Overall, it was yet another modern horror that was a waste of my time but it’s probably not as “bad” as my rating suggests. It showed some promise. It wasn’t as dumb as most the horrors that get a full cinema release. It was just dull.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Cargo (2017)

Directed by Ben Howling & Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)

After an epidemic spreads all over Australia, a father searches for someone willing to protect his daughter.

My Brief Opinion:

Loved this movie’s concept and thought the short film it’s based on was pretty great. Like Lights Out, however, I thought the longer format didn’t really work. Sometimes less is more! The movie is okay and it’s still a very good concept but I found it a little boring (and I fell asleep for a while in the middle of it – don’t tell hubby because I can’t be bothered to watch what I missed). It’s nice, though, that they’re still somehow finding ways to make zombie movies that feel original! Watch it if you want a decent zombie film that’s more about drama & family and less about blood & guts but PLEASE watch the short film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Jug Face (aka The Pit) (2013)

Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle

Starring: Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden, Sean Young, Daniel Manche, Michael G. Crandall

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a teen (Carter), who is pregnant with her brother’s child and tries to escape from a backwoods community, only to discover that she must sacrifice herself to a creature in a pit.

My Brief Opinion:

Wow. I have a new contender for “worst movie I’ve seen since starting this blog”. I remember a couple of bloggers reviewing this a few years ago & really liking it so I’ve been wanting to see it ever since. I liked the sound of the synopsis and that above poster made it look like it could be interesting. I’ve rated this movie an extra half point for originality since I always complain that nothing feels original anymore and the concept for this film felt fairly unique. Oh, and I liked the “jug faces” that got made – they were cheesy as fuck. In the story, one of these backwoods rednecks makes “jugs” while in a sort of fugue. They end up looking like the face of someone in the community and that person is then sacrificed to “the pit”, which the community believes has healing powers. I don’t know how the hell they knew who was meant to be sacrificed – the jugs never looked like anyone in this stupid movie.


The biggest problem with this movie is the thing that always annoys me the most: every single character is extremely hateful. Well, the guy who makes the jugs is almost okay but the main girl is fucking awful. And her mother! Oh my god! I knew I was probably in for trouble when the only name I recognized in the beginning credits was Sean Young. She plays the mother and she’s waaaaaay too interested in her daughter’s vagina. Yeah, you read that right. So was the brother, as he gets his sister pregnant. The brother was also a complete asshole. I wanted the entire community to be sacrificed to the pit. I thought, after having to endure these dreadful characters, maybe we’d at least get to see some creature in the pit or something. Nope. Nothing. There’s one cheesy looking ghost of a previous sacrifice but that’s it. Nothing scary, no tension, hateful characters, incest, and funny looking jugs. Just watch M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village if you want to watch a backwards community living in the woods. That’s an absolute masterpiece compared to this. Yes, I’ve decided that this is the worst movie I’ve seen in my six-year blog history.

My Rating: 1.5/10

Goodnight Mommy (2014) & Veronica (2017) Reviews

Two more reposts today of two very brief reviews of a couple of foreign horror films that I watched this year. They were just okay. Certainly not great but I’ve seen much worse (especially this year).

Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

Starring: Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don’t recognize.

My Brief Opinion:

This Austrian horror film was another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like it. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Veronica (2017)

Directed by Paco Plaza

Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer, Iván Chavero, Ana Torrent, Consuelo Trujillo, Sonia Almarcha, Maru Valduvielso, Leticia Dolera, Ángela Fabián, Samuel Romero, Carla Campra

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.

My Brief Opinion:

To quote Wikipedia again, Veronica is a Spanish horror movie “Loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board“. It showed up on Netflix with a lot of people saying “scariest horror movie ever!” and shit like that. I guess it’s the only horror movie they’ve ever watched? It was a well-made film with decent acting but it’s not something we haven’t all seen before. However, I liked the characters which is always a plus as we don’t often get likeable characters in this genre. I felt for this poor 15-year-old girl and her sweet younger siblings she’s forced to take care of since their mother is always working. It made the film an okay watch as the story itself was a little bland (especially as, from what I’ve read, it’s only very loosely based on the “true” story).

My Rating: 6/10