Upstream Color (2013) Review

Upstream Color (2013)

Directed & Written & Produced by Shane Carruth

Starring: Amy Seimetz & Shane Carruth

Cinematography by Shane Carruth

Edited by Shane Carruth & David Lowery

Music by Shane Carruth

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

My Opinion:

Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Ah, Primer. I… think I liked Primer? I’m not going to pretend that I could at all follow along with the complex time travel involved but, hey, I like a smart film & apparently things were quite accurate in that film according to smart science-y people (or so I read). Gotta love a movie where you have to go online afterwards to try to figure it out. I found a complicated diagram online trying to explain it all (it’s in my Primer review I’ve linked if you want to see it).

So, onto Upstream Color. Again, it’s a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I’d say it’s more strange than Primer since that was, really, just a time travel story even though it was complicated but I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? What was up with the pigs?! What was the purpose of the pig farmer guy? Why was he doing that re-implanting (I’m trying to stay spoiler-free)? What was with the sound stuff he was doing? What was up with those flowers? What the hell was the point of any of this?!? Is this a circle of life type thing? This movie gave me vibes of what I’ve always assumed Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life movie is probably like (but I can’t say for sure since I never watched that since it sounds totally pretentious). But I probably will watch that someday since I’m always drawn to these sort of movies despite not being smart enough to understand them.

Well, I won’t ramble on forever talking about this movie since I have no explanations. There are okay articles you can find online if you want to go looking up “Upstream Color explained!” but what I read online didn’t help much either. To be honest, the people writing those articles didn’t seem to know what the point of the movie was either. Even what Shane Carruth himself has said about this movie doesn’t offer all that much insight. For example, this is something Carruth said that’s on Wikipedia under Themes & is spoiler-free (you can read a little more at the link if you want):

“In April 2013, io9.com asked director Shane Carruth if the film’s point regarded a return to nature. Carruth replied that the film explored breaking cycles:

It’s more about what those pigs are now embodying. I mean, there is a break of the cycle. These people that have been affected by this are now taking back ownership of the thing that they’re connected to…I don’t believe that narrative works when it’s trying to teach a lesson, or speak a factual truth. What it’s good for is, an exploration of something that’s commonplace and universal — maybe that’s where the truth comes from.”

Yeah… Okay…. Well, I liked this movie just fine as I do like weird films (Hello, Butt Boy & Rubber!). I think this is a smarter film than those, though, even if the explanations of it sound like a load of bollocks (I’ve put that word in here for Film Miasma). I do prefer Primer as that is shockingly now seeming like the much simpler film but I enjoyed the bizarre ride with this one. Especially the weird shit with the pigs! Amy Seimetz (from Pet Sematary and the director & writer of the equally weird She Dies Tomorrow) was good in the main role. And Shane Carruth seems very talented. He did everything with this movie! Directed, produced, wrote & starred in as well as doing the editing, cinematography & music. I’ve liked enough of what I’ve seen of his work so far to watch anything else he might make.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Cherry (2021) Review

Cherry (2021)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on Cherry by Nico Walker

Starring: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Michael Rispoli, Jeff Wahlberg

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows an Army veteran suffering from PTSD, who resorts to robbing banks to support his opioid addiction.

My Opinion:

This was a weird one. I think I liked it okay? Despite none of the characters being very likeable or sympathetic. I felt like this movie was trying too hard to be “worthy”, though. I felt like it had a good story (from the book Cherry partly based on the real life of author Nico Walker) but failed to make what could’ve been a truly great film out of it.

I think part of what didn’t quite make this work for me is the fact that I’m old & grumpy plus maybe a tiny bit film-snobby at times. First of all: I’m old. Tom Holland & Ciara Bravo are both good in this. I can’t fault their performances in any way whatsoever. But, damn. I know they’re in their early twenties & it’s great they cast age appropriate people instead of really old fuckers pretending to be young like in Grease or something, but… They both look about 15 to me. As I said, I do think they did a really good job and it’s partly me just me being so old but I couldn’t fully buy into these two cute, tiny, 15-year-old-looking people being drug addicts (and one also being a hardened war veteran with PTSD). Not fair, I know. They were good. I did like them in this movie even if I couldn’t fully believe the characters based mainly on how they look.

Oh, and I just wanted to make sure to mention Ciara Bravo’s coat at the start of the movie. It’s adorable!! I love it. I want one. But I’m old & not young & pretty like her so it wouldn’t look cute on me anyway. The above picture was the only one I could find of it online with the writing up in the corner (I dunno where it’s from – I found it HERE).

Anyway! Back to problem number two for me: I can be a tiny bit film snobby. I admit to very much preferring movies from the ’70s & ’80s above all other decades. As I watched this, I kept thinking that it could be a classic now if it had been made in the dirty, gritty ’70s (yeah, yeah – I know it’s based on a book that didn’t exist then but you know what I mean). The war bits especially made me think of things like Full Metal Jacket (yeah, yeah – I know that’s an ’80s movie but it’s set during Vietnam so you know what I mean). And then I just thought this movie could’ve been great if made in the past by some amazing director like Stanley Kubrick (you know, had the book existed in his lifetime). Maybe the Russo Brothers just aren’t the best choice for this type of movie? Their MCU stuff is good but a gritty war & drug drama is obviously a very different type of movie. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Cherry will be seen as a classic 30/40 years from now in the same way as things like Apocalypse Now (Maybe? Probably not.).

Well, I think I liked this movie anyway despite it being far from perfect & trying a little too hard. But I wanted to see what would happen with these characters & did want to see them turn their lives around. I also really liked that it was sort of at least three movies in one: the college years, the war years, and the bank-robbing PTSD drug addict years. The war years were probably the strongest parts of the movie but the drug years were quite good too (in a stressful sort of way, I guess). Better character development would’ve been good: So the girl’s parents only showed up briefly in her life once while she was in the hospital & then just disappeared again? And what about the family of Holland’s character – did I just miss that? I feel like something was said but I missed it. Did he have no family? I also think more of a dark humor running through this may have been good (there was a hint of this but not in a way that really worked – Kubrick would’ve been good at that!).

Oh, and Jack Reynor is in this (the drug section). I’ve liked him ever since the fantastic Sing Street & liked him in this too. I looked him up just now to see his age compared with Holland & he’s only about four years older. Yet I fully believed him in this role. He seems so much older. So maybe I am being unfair on Holland (and Bravo) just for looking soooooo damn young. Good performances anyway. They certainly made me never want to go to war or become addicted to drugs! Not that those were ever on my list of things I want to do… I want her coat, though.

My Rating: 7/10

Luca (2021) & Raya And The Last Dragon (2021) Reviews

Can’t believe I didn’t review these two big new Disney & Pixar releases right away. Well, I’ll be posting my June Roundup post next week but figured I better give these slightly more than just the mini-reviews in those posts. Here we go…

Raya And The Last Dragon (2021)

Directed by Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada

Starring: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Thalia Tran, Lucille Soong, Alan Tudyk

Music by James Newton Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a realm known as Kumandra, a re-imagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization, a warrior named Raya is determined to find the last dragon.

My Opinion:

I was weirdly looking forward to this. Well, maybe that’s not weird? Plenty of middle-aged women love Disney movies. My mom & grandma do too. We grew up with them. I thought this looked really good in the trailer & watched it as soon as it became available as part of the Disney Plus subscription. It’s good. I liked the animation and there were some strong characters & a decent story. Is it as strong as Disney’s very best films? No, but it’s far from the worst and has quite a reputation to live up to if compared to the best. It’s also sadly not nearly good as Moana, which it’s of course going to be compared to the most as that’s also quite recent & was very good. Who cares? It’s still an enjoyable film. And I loved her pet Tuk Tuk! Forget the dragons – I want my own Tuk Tuk!


So cute!

I’m sure what either does or very much doesn’t work for people watching this is Awkwafina as Sisu the dragon. She’s very “love her or hate her”. Well, luckily I like her (and her vag) just fine so I liked her as the quirky dragon. But I prefer when Disney doesn’t use very obvious voices & over-the-top comedians who can throw you out of the story a bit & make the films less “timeless”. I’m actually not crazy about Robin Williams in Aladdin for this same reason & I liked Williams as an actor & comedian a lot (RIP – I will forever be sad about that). I guess I just like my Disney films to stand the test of time but, hey, I’m old school. Or maybe just old… Oh well – I liked the Awkwafina dragon anyway. And I loved Tuk Tuk, as I said, and of course Raya is yet another great new addition to the “strong female Disney characters” thing so I was happy as they’re really the three main characters we see the most. Oh, and Raya’s dad was kinda hot.

I think this movie unfortunately loses its way in the middle of the film. It started out very strong and the ending was fine (although, come to think of it, I kind of can’t fully remember the ending now!). I feel like I say this in half my reviews lately (I’m old & I’m tired) but I did snooze a little in the middle so could do with watching this again sometime. I liked it enough that I wouldn’t mind a rewatch. I think, mainly, too many additional characters got added along the way and they weren’t that great compared to those I’ve already mentioned. In fact, one was really annoying (the dumb baby). Even my daughter was like “that baby is dumb” so I’m afraid my pickiness about movies is rubbing off on her. (Dumb baby is in the image below). There was also probably a bit too much going on story-wise for any young kids to follow with so many different regions fighting each other and so many characters to keep track of. I feel a little unfair rating this when I know I could do with rewatching it. But the middle bit & the dumb baby did make me lose interest for a while. Maybe I’ll change my mind & up the rating half a point after a rewatch.

My Rating: 7/10

Luca (2021)

Directed by Enrico Casarosa

Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli, Jim Gaffigan

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.

My Opinion:

My beloved Pixar! I’m such a big Pixar fan. I think their best movies are among some of the very best movies overall, even compared to non-animated films. And anyone who knows me knows I love to rank movies so, if you really need to know, here’s my Pixar ranking (from my least favorite to my favorite):

23. Luca
22. Cars 2
21. The Good Dinosaur
20. Onward
19. Cars
18. Incredibles 2
17. Finding Dory
16. Monsters University
15. Soul
14. Toy Story 4
13. Coco
12. Ratatouille
11. A Bug’s Life
10. Brave
9. The Incredibles
8. Up
7. Toy Story 3
6. Toy Story 2
5. Inside Out
4. Finding Nemo
3. Toy Story
2. Monsters, Inc.
1. WALL-E

Not seen Cars 3 – Maybe I should watch that…

Okay, I honestly feel really bad about putting Luca last as I thought it was a very sweet & very wholesome film. It was actually so sweet & felt so genuine that I don’t feel right saying anything bad about it. I really did feel like the filmmakers put their hearts into making this & that comes across in the movie. The two boys & the girl they befriended were likeable and watching the movie was… Pleasant? Like, it would be impossible to think mean & nasty thoughts while watching this. It was a nice, peaceful family film.

But I was mostly just bored. And, yes, I fell asleep in the middle of this one too (I did catch up on what I missed later). I’m sorry! I apologise to the filmmakers! Your movie is very sweet and the main three characters are very nice! I complained a bit about Raya having too many characters but I think Luca is missing all the extra “small role” characters that Pixar always do soooo well. Look at how awesome each & every character is in things like Toy Story & Finding Nemo, even down to the ones with very few or even no lines (especially those turtles, dudes!). I wasn’t interested in any of the lesser characters in Luca. Okay, yes – it meant they really got to focus on the main three friends but I’m used to Pixar giving us loads of characters to love in every film. The other characters in Luca were bland other than maybe the weird uncle (I think) who lived very deep in the sea & was nice & weird. Yeah, of course I liked the weird sea monster with no social skills! That’s what this movie needed: More weirdos. It was far too wholesome. I also wasn’t crazy about the animation, which was disappointing as I did like the director’s lovely Pixar short La Luna . This just didn’t look like a Pixar film to me. I guess the style worked better as a short film.

I’ll finish this before I say anything too negative because I don’t think this movie deserves that. It’s certainly not a bad film. Not at all. It’s just not up to Pixar standards. To be fair, I was maybe a little harsh putting it below Cars 2 which I don’t even remember. But, as much as I almost hate those Cars movies, I have to admit those still did a decent job with having more than only three good characters. Sorry. I wanted to like this much more! It did have a lovely message about not hiding your true self so that was nice. (I need to stop saying “nice”)

My Rating: 6/10

Timecop (1994) Review

Timecop (1994)

Directed by Peter Hyams

Based on Timecop by Mike Richardson & Mark Verheiden

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ron Silver, Mia Sara, Bruce McGill, Gloria Reuben

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Max Walker, an officer for a security agency that regulates time travel, must fend for his life against a shady politician who’s intent on changing the past to control the future.

My Opinion:

Okay, despite loving ’80s & early ’90s movies as I grew up on them, I had never seen a Jean-Claude Van Damme film until watching Bloodsport a couple of months ago. Goddamn, that movie was FUN! I liked it so much I gave it a full-length review HERE. It was cheesy & cliché & just the right amount of ridiculous to make it into that “so bad it’s good” category (like my beloved Road House!). Timecop, unfortunately, was not nearly as much fun but I did still quite enjoy it.

I think Bloodsport gets away with its great early ’80s feel (although it came out in 1988) but Timecop has too much of that bad ’90s action movie look & feel about it. And hints of that future horrible mullet are starting to appear. Again, Van Damme is not exactly a “good” actor so it’s hard to take him too seriously as this heartbroken cop who enforces, like, the laws of time travel or some shit. I don’t know but that sounds a bit like the Loki TV show so far! Which, admittedly, is a great idea for a story but was executed very poorly in this film. Which is a shame as, honestly, this could’ve been a kick ass movie with an even bigger budget & a blockbuster star and a far better script. But Timecop was still kind of fun even though Van Damme did his signature splits far less than in Bloodsport (but he did them at least twice including a great split across a kitchen counter which was almost as cheesy as the “tree splits” in Bloodsport). I couldn’t find a good image of the kitchen counter splits online so I grabbed this from a video:

By the way, Van Damme gets his naked bum out briefly in this movie just like in Bloodsport if you’re into that sort of thing.

What can I say? This movie isn’t good but it’s fun. Watch The Adjustment Bureau or the fantastic Predestination if you want to see truly good stories involving time travelling cop types. Watch Timecop if you want a dumb time travel story written around Van Damme doing sexy splits & Mia Sara, aka Ferris Bueller‘s girlfriend, showing her boobs. Oh! OH! And a baddie has an AWESOME (***spoiler*** but not really a spoiler as this movie is predictable) death scene. Awesomely BAD but so bad it’s awesome. Like, BAD low-budget body horror shit for a few brief seconds out of fucking nowhere in this thing. Loved that. I’m giving this an extra half a point for the best dumb death scene I’ve seen in a while.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Misbehaviour (2020) Review

Here’s another mini-review before I post my full June movie roundup sometime next week…

Misbehaviour (2020)

Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe

Starring: Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley, Keeley Hawes, Phyllis Logan, Lesley Manville, Rhys Ifans, Greg Kinnear

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of women hatch a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this despite my weird hatred for Keira Knightley. Her acting bothers me yet I seem to watch all her damn movies?! I prefer this longer Wikipedia synopsis to tell you what this is about: “The 1970 Miss World competition took place in London, hosted by the US comedian Bob Hope. At that time Miss World was the most-watched TV show in the world with over 100 million viewers. Arguing that beauty competitions objectify women, the newly formed women’s liberation movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition.

This is a true story I knew nothing about but fully support because, let’s face it, beauty pageants are demeaning & sexist. But, yeah, I totally watched them as a kid & thought nothing of them as that’s just how the world was. Hopefully they’ve modernised them a bit nowadays?? I have no clue. But I liked seeing these Women’s Liberation activists disrupt this pageant after its host, Bob Hope, made a sexist joke. As with any film adaptation, though, I’m sure it’s not 100% accurate. Okay – I looked up the real footage and, yes, it was much more dramatic in the film. But Bob Hope certainly made plenty of sexist jokes! Icky. Here’s the footage but you can’t really tell that the women are throwing flour bombs at the stage.

What made the whole thing even more interesting was this (from Wikipedia, but it gives the result away if you don’t want to know that before watching the movie): “Even greater controversy then followed after the result was announced. Jennifer Hosten won becoming the first Black woman to win Miss World and the black contestant from South Africa was placed second.” So they rightly disrupted a very sexist pageant but, at the same time, it was the first of these pageants to give other women these opportunities & the winner was a very intelligent woman with a successful life & career following the pageant (whether or not that was helped by winning I don’t know but I’m sure it helps open some doors). So arguments can be made both for and against these contests but the movie doesn’t explore that quite as much as it could have. There’s also a bit at the end in the dressing room that you just know didn’t happen in real life but that they added just to make things more interesting for the film. That’s fine – I always say that if I want the true story I’ll watch a documentary.

This story is interesting enough that I would watch a documentary too but the movie does a decent enough job of bringing a story that probably isn’t well known to a slightly bigger audience even if the film doesn’t really dig too deeply into its subject matter. But I really enjoyed the movie & everyone did a good job, including annoying Knightley & Jessie Buckley as two of the protesters. I especially liked Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the contestant they focus on the most. Oh, and Greg Kinnear was surprisingly good as the truly smarmy Bob Hope. Was Hope always so smarmy?! Guess I don’t remember that from my childhood – I thought he was an American national treasure. Huh.

My Rating: 7/10

*Here’s a small complaint about the poster for this movie: Jessie Buckley is making that dumb selfie duckface. We didn’t make that stupid face before stupid selfies came along. I’m sure you can find some old pictures – I think Marilyn Monroe will have done “kiss face” type photos. But it’s more of a modern thing. So it’s annoying to see it on someone in a film set in 1970 even though I know she’s making fun of pageants & posing. Dumb complaint, I know, but the duckface annoys the hell out of me & makes me wonder if the people actually know how to genuinely smile anymore.

Shoplifters Of The World (2021) Review

I posted three weeks ago saying I’d catch up on a bunch of old movie reviews I’ve missed over the years then I completely disappeared & didn’t feel like blogging at all. Probably because I hate to commit to anything! So instead I’ve started writing my roundup post of movies watched in June and some of the mini-reviews got too wordy again. So here’s the first of the slightly longer mini-reviews I’ll post before the full roundup next week…

Shoplifters Of The World (2021)

Directed by Stephen Kijak

Starring: Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause, James Bloor, Thomas Lennon, Joe Manganiello

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
1987. Denver, Co. One crazy night in the life of four friends reeling from the sudden demise of iconic British band The Smiths, while the local airwaves are hijacked at gunpoint by an impassioned Smiths fan.

My Opinion:

I liked the idea behind this but the way they shoved The Smiths & quotes from their songs very awkwardly into this story as much as possible sadly felt too forced. Here’s a further synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in Denver, four friends reel from the sudden break up of The Smiths, while the local radio station is held at gunpoint by a fan, forcing a disgruntled heavy metal DJ to play The Smiths all night.” Yeah, that’s a great idea and could’ve been a great movie if done right.

This is one of those movies that felt like it was made by someone who didn’t live through the ’80s so the characters felt like modern teens (or they might have been early twentysomethings) playing ’80s dress-up. BUT! That’s not the case as I did look into this & the director is slightly older than me so did definitely live through the ’80s. Not sure why the film didn’t quite work, then. Maybe he was trying to also capture a new, younger generation of fans? That won’t work – the youngsters have cancelled Morrissey! I do feel bad for the filmmaker on that as this movie may have been in the works before this latest cancellation. Not the director’s fault. He’s maybe a fan who wanted to do a fun movie based around a band he liked (I’m guessing). So that’s a shame. I can see me wanting to make a similar movie based around a band I love.

I wanted to love this movie. It’s totally my type of thing normally. More than anything I think I just didn’t buy into any of these young actors actually liking The Smiths and I never really felt like I was watching a movie set in the ’80s despite it trying really hard to look like the ’80s. Come on – We didn’t actually go around dressed like full-on Madonna or Siouxsie Sioux or Robert Smith – we’d just use bits of their style, like maybe wearing the Madonna bracelets all up our arms. As for The Smiths, I’m not some hardcore fan. I do like several songs quite a lot and love How Soon Is Now & think it’s truly fantastic but I’m closer to being the metalhead DJ in this (especially at the time – I like The Smiths now but didn’t back then). But I like The Smiths enough to have gotten enjoyment from their songs being played throughout this film. If you hate The Smiths, I can’t imagine you enjoying this film since the story & characters aren’t really strong enough. For a movie that better incorporated a band’s music into an interesting story, I far preferred Yesterday with all of The Beatles music.

And now, after my very negative-sounding review, I’ll give this an okay rating as I did still enjoy it overall. Good music & a decade I love so I can’t complain too much. Ellar Coltrane was fine (That kid from Boyhood! I still think that film was quite an achievement). And Helena Howard was also decent as the main girl & Smiths fan (although I still didn’t buy into any of these people actually liking The Smiths). She appears to have not been in much yet but I can see her having a good career. Joe Manganiello was probably the best as the heavy metal DJ but he’s really the only “known” actor in this. So, yeah, this could’ve been a better film but it was worth a watch. However, I’d still rather watch a movie actually released in the ’80s instead of a current film set then…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Movies Watched But Never Reviewed – Which Ones Should I Review?

I thought it might be fun to start another project I’ll never finish! Just like my IMDb Top 250 Challenge I’ve been working on since 2013 (to be fair, I’ve managed to watch 73 films for that). I also finally started a Best Picture Project this year but have yet to watch Nomadland even though it’s available so I’m off to a good start there! Now, I’m going to ramble on a lot so, if you just want to see the list of un-reviewed movies I’m wondering if I should review, it’s at the end of this post. 🙂

I’m someone who is obsessed with making lists. Especially ranked lists (I have to put things in order from favorite to least favorite). I often have to give them all a rating out of 10 as well, at least with movies. There was a Twitter image the other day of 64 bands & you were asked to pick your Top Five. I did do that but I had to then also rank them all as well. (My thread is HERE if you desperately want to see it). Here’s a sneak peek at my Top Ten starting with number 1:

Black Sabbath
The Beatles
Iron Maiden
Radiohead
Metallica
Led Zeppelin
The Cure
Queen
Pink Floyd
Red Hot Chili Peppers

And now I’m annoyed to see that I did a Top Ten Songs list or a Music Video Friday post for every band above other than Pink Floyd. Do I need to do a Pink Floyd Top Ten now?! Someone help me with this obsession!!!

Anyway. I started this blog at the end of 2012 so I just did one page (HERE) with a roundup of the movies I’d seen in the cinema that year. I wrote a tiny bit about each film on that page so that’s good enough for 2012.

I now keep a page each year of every single movie I’ve watched that year (with a section for new releases that year, a section for movies I watched that were released prior to that year, and a section for movies I’d already seen in the past but rewatched again). These are all ranked & rated, of course!

It’s really bothering me that I’ve not reviewed some of the movies I’ve watched since starting this blog. Some of my pages have movies that don’t have the blue links to my reviews. SO annoying! Well, mildly annoying – I’m not that obsessive. But maybe I can write at least a sentence or two for each of those over time? Could be fun, as I know I barely remember some of them now! So some will be “Man, I don’t remember this at all now but am pretty sure it sucked“. So, my usual sort of in-depth analysis.

I was clearly committed to this blog at first as I reviewed everything in 2013. I then only missed a few in 2014 & 2015 (mostly ones where I was planning to review them as a part of projects that never happened). Then I went completely off the rails in 2016 & 2017 and didn’t review loads of movies (I know why, as life was sucking at that point and I wasn’t in the mood). Then life got even worse for the first half of 2018 so I think I threw myself back into the blog as an escape so, yay, everything got reviewed that year (not yay that life sucked, lol). I also moved to the “monthly roundup posts” with short reviews of everything and that has helped as it meant I reviewed everything in 2019 & 2020 as well. And I’m managing to do that for 2021 so far, too. Plus, of course, a dreadful pandemic forcing us to not leave home has meant more free time to write. Not saying that’s a good thing!! I’d obviously rather have a load of missing reviews. I did always make a point of reviewing new releases every year, though, so I’m happy that I always managed that.

But this blog is meant to be a fun hobby without any stressful commitments. So I’m not saying I’ll definitely complete this but it can’t hurt to write a very brief review of a movie I watched between 2014 & 2017 every once in a while, right? 🙂

Well, here’s what you’ve been waiting for: LISTS! I didn’t review 74 new-to-me movies & 11 rewatches. I probably won’t review the rewatches as I didn’t do that at all at first until my short monthly roundups and they’re also sometimes favorites of mine & I find it very hard to review movies I really love. Also, 18 movies were never reviewed as I was saving them for projects that I just don’t have the time or energy to do now. I’ll list those first:

Un-Reviewed Movies Meant For Projects (unlikely to ever be reviewed):

Akira Kurosawa Project (this won’t happen – his films are too amazing & my writing too shitty to do them justice):

Ikiru
Rashomon
Yojimbo (I’ve counted this as “reviewed” as I wrote a VERY tiny bit about it at the link but obviously wanted to do full reviews of all his work)

John Carpenter Project:

Escape From New York (great film!)
Prince Of Darkness
Dark Star
Escape From L.A.

Studio Ghibli Project (I DID do a month-long Studio Ghibli Project with all my reviews listed HERE. But these are ones I saw after that. There’s a slight possibility I’d do another Ghibli Month once I’ve watched enough again & I did review When Marnie Was There this year):

The Wind Rises
The Cat Returns
Arrietty
From Up On Poppy Hill
Whisper Of The Heart

Nicholas Sparks Project (Ha! Maybe I can manage to do this at some point as it was more of a joke project since these movies are ridiculous yet I seem to like watching them. Was going to give them categories such as “Good Sex Scene?” and “Is There A Kissing In The Rain Scene?”):

The Choice
The Best Of Me
The Longest Ride
Safe Haven
Dear John
The Lucky One
Nights In Rodanthe

The Rewatches (probably also won’t be reviewed – how can I do something like The Princess Bride, one of the all-time best movies, justice?!)

The Princess Bride
Night Of The Living Dead
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Labyrinth
School Of Rock
Singin’ In The Rain
Short Circuit
The Last Starfighter
Desperately Seeking Susan
Bicentennial Man
Hop (ew!)

Finally! Which Of These (If Any) Un-Reviewed Movies Should I Review? (I can see why I didn’t bother with most of these, though. Several good ones but many were bland or downright bad! Hint: Each year is ranked best to worst as always…):

2014:
Red Rock West

2015:
Midnight Madness
Clue

2016:
Wizards
Kelly & Cal
Blended
North Shore
Carol
Song Of The Sea
The Good Dinosaur
Brooklyn
Manhattan
Ted 2
Baby Boom
Paul
Trainwreck
Eleanor’s Secret
Fall Into Darkness
Pan
Sisters (2015)
Soul Surfer
Love

2017:
Hell Or High Water
The Beguiled (1971)
The Age Of Adaline
The Wave (2015)
Miss You Already
Chef
Doctor Strange
The Nice Guys
Daft Punk Unchained
Hunt For The Wilderpeople
Bokeh
The Night Of The Hunter
Nerve
Music And Lyrics
Bugsy Malone
Monster Trucks
Lucky Number Slevin
The Danish Girl
Ender’s Game
A Bigger Splash
TiMER
Babel
Passengers
Ballerina (US Title: Leap)
Sully
Blue Thunder
The Odd Life Of Timothy Green
The Little Prince
The Lobster
Suicide Squad
Star Trek Beyond
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice
The Jane Austen Book Club
The 5th Wave

Seconds (1966) & Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949) Reviews

I have my May Roundup post ready but ended up with two more reviews that were a bit too long for a “summary” post. So here are two final quick reviews of movies I watched in May before I post the full list of 26 movies tomorrow.

Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)

Directed by Robert Hamer

Based on Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman

Starring: Valerie Hobson, Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A distant poor relative of the Duke D’Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

My Opinion:

This was a fun film. I don’t really have any experience at all with the classic Ealing Studios films (I think this is my first?). I have an excuse, I suppose, as I didn’t grow up in England and there are still loads of British movies I’ve not seen. I’d have to say the older British films are probably more my style and I really enjoyed this one, although I’m worried I may have started with their best? It seems the most well known, anyway. And Alec Guinness was a delight in this. Anyone who knows anything about this movie at all will know all about him in this but, as I’m sure there are still some who know nothing about the film, I won’t say much.

This is a black comedy and it was amusing to see the different ways in which the main character kills off his estranged family so that he can become the Duke. The family all had fun & very different personalities. Suffragette Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne was the best and I wished we could have seen much more of that character. Also really liked photographer Henry D’Ascoyne, one of the nicer family members who just likes to have a drink now & then. There are also a couple of love triangles going on and some good back-stabbing & murder mystery twists.

This was a very enjoyable film so I’m going to check out The Ladykillers next from the Ealing Studios filmography. I’ll happily take any recommendations of other classic British films I may have missed! I think The Archers Powell & Pressburger films may be even more my style based on the gorgeous Black Narcissus that I watched this year & the masterpiece A Matter Of Life And Death which deserves WAY more attention than I think it received outside of the U.K. Oh, and I’d love classic British horror recommendations! Dead Of Night was fantastic. And, shamefully, I’ve never seen a Hammer Horror. Shocking as a horror fan.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Seconds (1966)

Directed by John Frankenheimer

Based on Seconds, a novel by David Ely

Starring: Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph, Will Geer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An unhappy middle-aged banker agrees to a procedure that will fake his death and give him a completely new look and identity – one that comes with its own price.

My Opinion:

Been meaning to watch this for years as it sounded like it could be a creepy movie with a Twilight Zone type of story, which is exactly the sort of thing I love. And it was that kind of thing! Sort of. Although I think The Twilight Zone actually had better stories & told them brilliantly in much less time.

You know I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a Rock Hudson movie before this one?? That’s pathetic. I do need to watch more old films but can see why this is what I’d go for of his stuff. I do love the weird movies! (But this is nothing compared to Butt Boy which I watched the other week). I liked the story in Seconds although, having grown up on these exact kind of stories & loving twists, it was pretty easy to predict. Still absolutely worth watching, though, if you like this kind of thing. It’s still so much better than Black Mirror, which I did enjoy some of but mostly just found it to be inferior to the shows that came before it & felt much more original than Black Mirror did.

This movie does a good job of capturing the whole “middle-aged man with perfectly fine life has a mid-life crisis & wants to start over” thing. It also explores if that would really make people happy if it was indeed possible to start over. Was this only offered to men in this movie?! Seemed to be. Typical! I think just as many women want to start over (if not more). The movie maybe could have done with a little more focus on his previous life for us to really understand what he gave up but it still got its point across. And it made up for a slight lack of character development by having a full-on naked grape-stomping orgy thrown into the middle of the film. Hell yeah! Where did that come from?! God I love when an old film throws something wild in there. Forget Blue Öyster CultSeconds has Purple Grape Örgy Cult!

Where was I?! The orgy totally threw me. I enjoyed this. I’m glad I finally watched this movie (thanks Film Miasma & Blogferatu!).

My Rating: 7/10

Hud (1963) Review

I’ll try to post my May Roundup on Friday but I’m again ending up with some reviews that are too long for my roundup post. So here’s my full review of Hud. I may post more tomorrow if I end up writing too much for any others.

Hud (1963)

Directed by Martin Ritt

Based on Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry

Starring: Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal, Brandon deWilde

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Honest and hard-working Texas rancher Homer Bannon has a conflict with his unscrupulous, selfish, arrogant and egotistical son Hud, who sank into alcoholism after accidentally killing his brother in a car crash.

My Opinion:

I looooove young Paul Newman. He was absolutely gorgeous so, yes, I admit that was 100% the reason why I stuck on this 1963 film about a cattle rancher. He’s fantastic in this, although it broke my heart that he was such a bastard. At first I thought his character was going to be a lovable sexy rogue like Han Solo but, nope – the character of Hud has no redeeming qualities.

This was a very good character study with excellent performances so was well worth a watch. Newman plays arrogant & cold-hearted Hud, who clashes with his father (played by Melvyn Douglas). Hud disagrees with how his father runs their ranch and they have very different values. Hud’s likeable nephew (Brandon deWilde) lives on the ranch with them and looks up to cool, womanizing Hud. Their housekeeper, played by Patricia Neal, also lives at the ranch and is always ignoring Hud’s advances because she knows what kind of man he is and doesn’t want that trouble in her life.

Neal was brilliant in this! Loved her character. Neal & Douglas won acting Oscars for Hud and they were well deserved. Newman was also nominated and it looks like deWilde wasn’t but they both deserve recognition as well – everyone did such a great job in this film. I had to look up deWilde & Neal as didn’t know them from anything else and I really liked them both in this.

deWilde’s biggest role was possibly as a kid in Shane (I did see that) and he sadly died young at the age of 30 in a car accident. Neal was married to Roald Dahl (I didn’t know that) and it sounds like she had quite a difficult life. I’d definitely watch her in another film based on her excellent performance in Hud. What also really worked in this film were the different ways in which each of these characters interacted with selfish Hud and how the nephew really grows & learns from seeing how Hud behaves. I highly recommend Hud to anyone who likes old dramas with very strong Oscar-worthy performances. Just be prepared for Newman being very unlikeable and going way too far while drunk at one point.

Luckily, Newman was an absolute sweetheart in real life so we can appreciate what a fine actor he was to be able to portray such a jerk in Hud. And we can also appreciate the below picture of him since he was actually a nice guy…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Unhinged (2020) & The Woman In The Window (2021) Reviews

Two more quickies today for two films that weren’t very good. But one managed to be entertaining while the other was meh. Let’s see which was which…

Unhinged (2020)

Directed by Derrick Borte

Starring: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Austin P. McKenzie

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It tells the story of a young woman who is terrorized by a seemingly mentally ill stranger following a road rage incident.

My Opinion:

Believe it or not, this was the entertaining “not very good” film. Not all films need to be Oscar contenders, though. It’s a psychological thriller/horror about a psycho who terrorizes a woman after she honks at him in traffic. It certainly doesn’t require any Oscar-winning actors. Yet it has one! I respect actors who go from winning Oscars in really good films like Gladiator then say “Screw it – I still want to play a psycho in a silly road rage movie!”.

Not sure if this is an Oscar-worthy performance but Crowe seemed to be enjoying playing someone completely unhinged. Acting should be fun, right?? But I was a bit distracted through all of this by the fact that I kept thinking Caren Pistorius looks SO much like Linda Cardellini. Then I kept thinking how much I loved Freaks And Geeks. Why don’t they make good shows like that anymore?! Then I read at IMDb that the kid playing the 15-year-old son of Caren Pistorius in this is actually only 14 years younger than her in real life & I thought that was hilarious. That’s so Hollywood. Can’t have a mom in a movie actually looking old! Then I also read this trivia at IMDb & it made me think how much I liked Joy Ride (with the dumb name Road Kill in the U.K.): “The candy cane scissors are a nod to the similarly themed Joy Ride (2001), in which the protagonists use the call sign of Candy Cane to anger a homicidal motorist who then terrorizes them.

Well, I was clearly a bit distracted while watching this if I was reading IMDb trivia & this certainly isn’t as good as Joy Ride but it’s a fun “popcorn movie” that’s a bit of a throwback to the kind of thrillers that they made throughout the ’90s. Sometimes we just wanna see a crazy person lose their shit in a cheesy thriller. Like Single White Female! I’ll always like that one but I know it’s awful. This movie keeps up a good pace through the whole thing so you’re never bored, Caren Pistorius and her “son” Gabriel Bateman who could actually be her brother in real life are both perfectly fine as the two main people Crowe is terrorizing, and we get a pretty fun showdown with a great line from Pistorius. That’s all we really need from this type of movie. Yeah, it could’ve been a better film but it was still a fun watch.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Woman in the Window (2021)

Directed by Joe Wright

Screenplay by Tracy Letts

Based on The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows an agoraphobic woman (Amy Adams) who begins to spy on her new neighbors (Gary Oldman, Fred Hechinger, and Julianne Moore) and is witness to a crime in their apartment.

My Opinion:

This was meh. I use the word “meh” on my blog way too much. Unfortunately, it’s just the perfect word for way too many movies these days.

I read this book years ago in preparation for the film adaptation before Covid delayed it for years. I re-posted my old review of the book HERE the other day. The book was also a bit meh but I still had hopes for the movie as it’s the kind of story that can work quite well as a film if done right. Plus I like Amy Adams. Speaking of those cheesy ’90s psychological thrillers, this is another story just like those. But, whereas Single White Female was so cheesy it was fun, I think maybe The Woman In The Window took things a little too seriously? I’m not sure exactly why it didn’t work but the movie was pretty boring. At least I can say Unhinged wasn’t at all boring. And, speaking of Single White Female, I should add that Jennifer Jason Leigh is in this & she’s completely wasted (as is Julianne Moore & Gary Oldman). That’s a lot of big name actors in small roles with very little to do! I mean, my god, Wyatt Russell got more screen time than any of those big names.

I don’t have much more to say about this, to be honest, which is always the case with meh movies. I’ll just say they really glossed over all her conversations with her husband (Anthony Mackie) & their daughter in this and there was way more involving them in the book. Did people watching this movie even notice them or pick up on that story much?! We also didn’t get much of the main character’s love of movies, which I liked in the book. Oh, and not that it matters in the slightest, but the neighborhood in the movie was not at all how I pictured it. And the Amy Adams character was unfortunately a bit unlikeable (but she was that way in the book too so I guess Adams did well). Whatever. I’ve written enough. Watch this if you really want to but go into it with very low expectations. Or just watch the absolutely brilliant Rear Window instead.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Rent-A-Pal (2020) & Butt Boy (2019) Reviews

Okay, these were two quite bizarre films that I watched recently so I figured I’d post a double review…

Rent-A-Pal (2020)

Directed & Written by Jon Stevenson

Starring: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Kathleen Brady, Amy Rutledge, Adrian Egolf

Music by Jimmy Weber

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
1990: David, 40, looks after his dementia mom. He uses a video dating service to no avail. He buys a “Rent-A-Pal” video tape and things change.

My Opinion:

This was a weird one (although not nearly as weird as the one I’m gonna review next). As in the plot synopsis above, a lonely guy buys a videotape called “Rent-A-Pal” in which a dude named Andy says he’ll be your friend. This movie was actually quite good! It’s one of those movies that looks like a full-on horror film looking at the poster & images but it isn’t really – it’s more of a psychological thriller following a lonely man’s descent into madness. So not all horror fans are going to go for it but it’s also probably way too strange for a more mainstream audience. If you like fairly low budget indie movies (I’m just assuming it’s both of those) with a strange story, this might be one for you. And be aware that it’s nothing like Ringu before you possibly think that based on the creepy videotape thing.

And now for a confession: Please do NOT let this make you not watch this if you’re interested as he’s great in this but I totally watched this due to my undying love for Wil Wheaton. Yeah! Wil Wheaton! You have no idea how much I adored Stand By Me when I was 12/13 and how many times I watched it (many, many times). I was completely in love with Wil and, of course, River Phoenix. And I continued to be in love with Wil as Wesley Crusher (TNG fans were horrible to poor Wesley. I loved him!!). Well, Wil is the guy in the creepy videotape this lonely dude buys. Wil’s character just “wants to be your friend”. Honestly, he’s so good in this and so creepy.

The main character is played by Brian Landis Folkins & I thought he was terrific as well. He really captured the extreme loneliness of this poor middle-aged man stuck at home having to care for his sick mother & having to rely on a “videotape dating service” to find himself a match to hopefully share his life with. But, in the meantime while waiting for a love match, he buys the “Rent-A-Pal” video and that’s when things start getting nice & weird. I admit it: I love weird movies (which will be obvious when you get to my next review). So I liked this one & it felt like a very original story. I was also surprised at just how good it turned out to be as I wasn’t expecting anything too special since I’d never heard a thing about this whatsoever, not even on Film Twitter. It’s a good character study of someone suffering from extreme loneliness & it has good performances. So, yeah, maybe not the best thing to watch if we go back into a full scale pandemic lockdown! And bear in mind that it does get a bit crazy at the end. Only watch it if you like strange films.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Butt Boy (2019)

Directed by Tyler Cornack

Starring: Tyler Cornack, Tyler Rice, Shelby Dash, Brad Potts, Austin Lewis, Robert Moss, Tyler Dryden, Kai Henderson, Wilky Lau

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Detective Fox loves work and alcohol. After going to AA, his sponsor, Chip, becomes the main suspect in his investigation of a missing kid. Fox also starts to believe that people are disappearing up Chip’s butt.

My Opinion:

Hopefully you read the above plot synopsis? Yes, this movie is indeed about people disappearing up a dude’s butt.

As I watch so many movies, I get very bored seeing the same predictable stuff over and over again. Therefore, I do seek out weird movies. I don’t necessarily want to see bad weird movies but seeing a synopsis such as the one above makes me go “Yep, that sounds unique!”. I’d love to make a Top Ten of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen but think it would be difficult as everyone will have a different definition of weird. Although I think we can all agree on this one being weird! Hmm… What could be in that list? Rubber for sure. Things like Society? Maybe. Possibly some good stuff like the movie Swallow that I watched recently? Not sure if that’s weird enough. Okay, I want to make this list someday! Now onto Butt Boy

This actually isn’t a bad movie. As far as, I dunno, production values or whatever (I don’t know anything about filmmaking). But it looked good (as in, it didn’t seem really low budget or anything) and I remember thinking the score was interesting & fit this bizarre movie well. The acting was perfectly fine too. And, yeah – I really wanted to know what was happening to everything (and everyone) going up this guy’s butt. I also liked the character of the detective (even though he totally reminded me of an ex-boyfriend). He’s mysterious and you can tell he has some tragic backstory and he’s very determined to prove his theory (that, you know, people are disappearing up that dude’s butt!).

Well, I don’t know what else I can say about this. It’s the type of movie I can’t exactly recommend. You’ll either look at that plot synopsis and go “Hell yeah, I’m watching that!” or “WTF kind of weird ass shit does this chick watch? I’m never reading this blog again”. Seeing as we’re all movie bloggers, though, I’m sure a few of you might check this out (Film Miasma!). Also, I should say that the pay off is pretty good in the end (Haha! In the end! Literally!). This movie builds very slowly and then you get a great END (Ha! I said end again). Well, either it’s a great ending or a horrible ending depending on your opinion of it. A fucked up ending may be a better way of putting it, which is exactly what I wanted from a movie about people disappearing up a guy’s butt. I’m rating this half a point more for the truly original story idea.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**I should add that I looked into the director of this film a bit (Tyler Cornack – he also stars in this as the guy sticking junk up in his trunk). Turns out he has a YouTube channel of all kinds of weird & wonderful very short films (an original short Butt Boy being one of them). I’ve not had a chance to check any out yet but the link is HERE if you’re interested. Actually, I don’t know how to add a link to a channel because I’m an old person but that link brings you to the trailer for the channel & the channel is called Tiny Cinema. I’m intrigued…

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021) & Abominable (2019) Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two fun family films that I really enjoyed.

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021)

Directed by Mike Rianda

Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a dysfunctional family that winds up having to save Earth from a robot uprising while on a road trip.

My Opinion:

This movie was surprisingly good! I’m a bit snobby when it comes to animated films if they’re anything other than Studio Ghibli, Pixar or Disney. This is from Sony Pictures Animation who, to be fair, have made a lot of fairly rubbish films (other than Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse which was absolutely brilliant – what happened there?!). Well, this obviously isn’t as good as that one as that would be really hard to beat but it was loads of fun & certainly better than most everything put out by DreamWorks (I’m really not a fan of DreamWorks most of the time either).

Now, I’m going to keep this super short but I just wanted to do a quick post to give this recognition outside of my monthly roundup post of up to 20 or so films to say: “Hey, this movie is quite good & and one of those family films aimed at all ages & not just kids so is one that the whole family can enjoy!. Because I love family movies that aren’t just dumb humor that only very young kids can enjoy. I mean, hell, this movie has a They Live reference! A John Carpenter reference in an animated family film! And it has robots and I love robots. And, for us movie blogging weirdos, the main teenage girl is a massive movie nerd going off to film school to make movies so I know that’s also really helped to make Film Twitter go “Hell yeah!” to this movie. Oh yeah – and Mark Mothersbaugh did the music (I love Devo!). The characters are fun & likeable misfits and my pre-teen laughed in a way I’ve not heard her laugh while watching a movie in AGES. I could do with seeing it again as I was exhausted that night & a bit snoozy so maybe this rating will go up on a rewatch. Good fun, though! Am glad they make stuff like this for everyone.

My Rating: 7/10

Abominable (2019)

Directed & Written by Jill Culton

Starring: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin

Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Production companies: DreamWorks Animation & Pearl Studio

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a teenage girl named Yi, who encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in Shanghai, names him Everest and embarks on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth along with her mischievous friends Jin and Peng, but the trio of friends will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish, a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara to help Everest get home.

My Opinion:

Okay, this is a DreamWorks film and as I said above, I’m really not a fan most of the time. I don’t even like Shrek all that much. Looking at their list of films now, I honestly think the Kung Fu Panda ones are my favorites. That’s probably thanks to me loving Jack Black plus an amazing score from Hans Zimmer. Honestly – go listen to Oogway Ascends (HERE)! That’s some gorgeous music for an animated film! I don’t expect that from DreamWorks – it’s Pixar who normally have the beautiful scores (Inside Out, Finding Nemo & WALL-E are some of the all-time best film scores). Oh, and don’t even get me started on Joe Hisaishi’s Studio Ghibli scores! Absolute perfection.

Well, I think I may have a new DreamWorks favorite. I liked Abominable a lot! Maybe my expectations were low? It’s very much my vibe, though – I love this sort of setting & music (it’s set in Shanghai). I thought the Yeti was lovable & adorable (I want one!) and the main characters were really good (especially the teen girl who befriends the Yeti she names Everest). And speaking of music, yes, it also had some lovely music as well. Oh, and the animation was very pretty. The girl goes on a journey with two friends to return Everest to his home after he escapes from a research facility. I’ll keep this one short as well as I don’t have much to say other than: “Yay! This was so good & I really liked a DreamWorks movie for a change and I want my own adorable Yeti!” Oh – the pre-teen loved this one as well. So maybe go more by what she says because she can be even more picky than I am.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Hunt (2020) Review

The Hunt (2020)

Directed by Craig Zobel

Produced by Jason Blum & Damon Lindelof

Written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof

Starring: Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Madigan, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Hilary Swank

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen – for a very specific purpose – The Hunt.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe I thoroughly enjoyed two Blumhouse Production films in a row! I reviewed The Invisible Man last week & explained how their films have been very hit or miss for me but I liked The Invisible Man a lot. Well, I liked this one a lot too. I think I actually liked this even more than that one, although I’d say the The Invisible Man is the better “film”.

Now I have to attempt to explain why I liked this but, to be honest, I don’t exactly know why. I’ll see if I can figure it out while I type my random thoughts! But it’s far more violent than I tend to go for (I’m a wuss). It’s very political (I hate politics). There’s loads of gun violence (I hate guns). Most of the characters are hateful except for the main woman (I hate hateful people). Umm. Yeah… What DID I like?!?

I think what I liked, and I may be completely wrong about this, but I felt like the movie didn’t really take sides (well, a little). It’s clearly about how, in America, there’s this huge divide between the left & the right and everyone is so extremely one-sided. There’s no common sense or middle ground. And it’s well-known that Hollywood tends to be quite far left so I was expecting the movie to be very pro-left but it seemed to show both sides as bad. At first I couldn’t figure out who the hunters were & who was being hunted (it was the opposite of what I expected). The movie actually shows the left more as the “bad guys” (but, more specifically, the liberal elite – so they’re having a good dig at most of rich Hollywood). Which is funny as the movie was super controversial & almost wasn’t released & the right misinterpreted it as an anti-right film before even seeing it. Which perfectly proves the film’s point of jumping to conclusions when you just assume someone’s political stance without attempting to find out any actual facts.

Enough about politics. Yuck. Basically, both sides suck. Everyone in this movie sucks. Only one person doesn’t suck, and that’s Betty Gilpin’s badass main character. She’s great in this & I loved her character. And what are HER character’s politics? That’s the best part: We don’t know! Because it doesn’t matter. She’s a mystery. All we know is that she’s being hunted and no one should be hunted like that. She kicks ass and she might have some dodgy past for her to be so capable of fighting back but, in the grand scheme of things, she’s less evil than everyone else. And I feel that’s all we have left in politics these days: doing our best to choose the lesser of two evils.

I think this movie had a great idea to try to be a smart satire on American politics but felt it didn’t quite manage to get its point across. I wish the script was a bit better as I do like this film’s idea & what I think they were trying to achieve. Are they trying to let the left & the right know that they both suck and are both flawed? Not sure. I don’t know exactly what the movie is trying to say but I give it credit for having the balls to try to say something during such unstable times.

Although it may not quite achieve being some super smart satire, it makes up for it by being a very entertaining horror thriller/horror comedy. As mentioned, Betty Gilpin is awesome as the main “hero” of those being hunted. There’s not much character development for anyone but this is a time I’ll let that slide as one point of this movie is to not make assumptions about people & we really know nothing about anyone in this. Doesn’t matter! They still don’t deserve to be murdered. I also thought Hilary Swank was fantastic as the big “baddie”. Swank is an odd one: two-time Oscar winner who seemed to then get ignored by Hollywood & ended up being in some really dodgy and straight-to-Netflix films. But I loved Million Dollar Baby and I liked seeing her in a very different role here & obviously having a lot of fun as an evil bitch. She was cool. Two cool, badass women who get a kick ass showdown. I enjoyed that a lot. Oh! And I also really liked the bits with Amy Madigan & whoever the actor dude was who ran the small gas station (think it was a gas station?). They were fun characters. Oh! And it was weird seeing Ethan Suplee as I’m watching so much My Name Is Earl lately and Randy is my favorite character (but he couldn’t be less like Randy here). So I guess there are quite a few specific things I really enjoyed about this movie even though I always feel uncomfortable “enjoying” a violent film. It helps that it’s satire and some of the violence is done in a comedic way (I think they should have upped the “horror comedy” to make that more obvious).

As I said, the film is still a bit too violent for me and I’d hesitate to recommend it to some who may find it upsetting. It will be uncomfortable for some people as I know the actual delay in releasing this was due to mass shootings that had just occurred in America, making them push the release date back since the film is about people being hunted & killed mostly by guns. How on Earth did it ever get released, then, since mass shootings are a daily occurrence there? Once again typical that a movie is more likely to get banned than the things that actually kill people but, whatever, we won’t go there! And again we also come to the argument of “is violence in film okay if the point of the movie is anti-violence?” Although in this case, I wouldn’t say that’s exactly the message of the film (it’s more of a “FFS, America – try to get along!” message). I thought about the ultra-violent “anti-violence” thing in some films a lot after finally watching and liking Natural Born Killers way more than I was expecting I would. I don’t know the answer. But I prefer violence in movies where there’s a message and it’s a shame that, with movies such as this and Natural Born Killers, some people seem to completely miss the point when it comes to satirical films. Don’t kill people, okay? This movie isn’t telling you to kill people with an opposing political opinion. It’s, like, telling you to NOT do that. Yeah? Okay. Don’t do that.

You know what? This is one of those times where I’ve talked myself into liking a movie even more after writing & thinking about it. I think there’s actually a pretty good film buried in here somewhere. It has a great idea. It just doesn’t do the satire thing as well as it wanted to and I wish it had as I love what (I think?!) its message is and Betty Gilpin is cool as shit and Hilary Swank is a fun ice cold bitch. And it’s also made me think about this movie quite a lot since seeing it and trying to decide what its main message is and that’s more than I can say for the majority of films these days.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Army Of The Dead (2021) Review

Army Of The Dead (2021)

Directed by Zack Snyder

Story by Zack Snyder

Starring: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a group of soldiers who plan a Las Vegas casino heist amid a zombie apocalypse.

My Opinion:

I re-posted my review of Zack Snyder’s fantastic Dawn Of The Dead remake yesterday (HERE). I love that film despite hating reboots/remakes and despite the original Romero film being an all-time favorite of mine. It’s a shame that Snyder hasn’t done a film as good as Dawn since (well, Watchmen was pretty good). In fact, I’ve pretty much hated all I’ve seen of his movies other than those two. Don’t tell anyone I said that. Oh god. I’m scared now.

Well, Army Of The Dead is my third-favorite Snyder film! But I suppose that isn’t saying much. It unfortunately doesn’t come close to Dawn for me but I did have fun watching it and, hell, that’s all you really want from a movie about a heist in an apocalyptic Las Vegas infested with zombie strippers & zombie tigers. Still trying to decide how I feel about the zombie tiger. I mean, it was cheesy as hell but it was also a zombie tiger, so… That’s still kind of cool. Cool cheese. Richard Cheese!

Oh, yeah – about Richard Cheese: I’m assuming that was a Richard Cheese song he used at the start? Okay, I thought Cheese’s Down With The Sickness was cleverly used in Dawn but it really threw me to hear that sort of thing used in the same way in Army. Snyder just seemed to be re-using a lot of his old tricks in this movie. Annoying, as I loved his use of music in Dawn but it was just distracting when he used music in the same way in Army (even down to a cheesy “elevator music” type moment with Karma Chameleon in place of Dawn’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy if I remember correctly). And Bad Moon Rising will never be anything other than the An American Werewolf In London song to me. I know this seems a minor complaint but I really love movie scores & soundtracks so it’s something I’m going to notice. Was disappointed at the lack of originality. Oh well. As my hubby & I discussed while watching this, it’s going on 20 years since Snyder’s Dawn remake (oh my god!). So he seems to be relying on the fact that a whole new generation who may not have seen Dawn will be watching this. Apologies as I’m old, though, and Dawn is still fresh in my mind so I can’t help but keep comparing the two in this review.

Dawn also had really great characters (as far as horror movies go) and I feel Snyder tried to achieve the same thing here but, again, he didn’t do as well in Army. That’s probably thanks to James Gunn anyway, who wrote the Dawn screenplay (I love his Guardians Of The Galaxy films & Slither). Don’t get me wrong, though – the characters were still one of the better things about this movie. I liked Dave Bautista and thought he did well in the lead role with his big head & tiny glasses. The girl playing his daughter, Ella Purnell, was also really good. Can I just say that I rewatched Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children two days before Army and didn’t even realise it was the same actress since she wasn’t blonde in this? If someone changes their hair I don’t recognise them at all. Is that weird?! Anyway, those two along with the woman playing the possible love interest of Bautista were by far the best characters. I wish the others had been a bit stronger but there were still a few fun ones (such as the German guy and the other dude helping him with the safe who develop a cute friendship plus the tough chick who brings them into Vegas as she knows the way around). Tig Notaro was also funny as the helicopter pilot & I’d completely forgotten she was brought in to replace someone when I read afterwards that all Notaro’s scenes were filmed later. Well, I guess they did well with that as I didn’t notice! The character seemed to actually be there with them (but maybe I’d have noticed if I knew that fact beforehand – I suck at noticing things like that, obviously, as I also don’t even recognise someone if their hairdo changes).

Um. I don’t know what else to say so maybe it’s better to just wrap this up so I don’t go rambling on and on and on and on (you know, like most Zack Snyder movies do). I just sighed when I saw the two and a half hour running time when I pressed play on this thing. WHY?! It’s not necessary. It’s a zombie movie. I appreciate that it can feel more “epic” when it’s a long film but this isn’t Lawrence Of Fucking Arabia. Longer isn’t necessarily better! (Haha – I’ll refrain from the joke I almost made here). But this review is sounding way more negative than I actually felt. Would I have liked this more if I’d never seen 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead? Yes, that’s very likely. I’ve been moaning that there have been far too many depressing dramas during this pandemic so I was happy to watch a fun zombie “popcorn movie”. And, honestly, I did really like Dave Bautista & Ella Purnell. Zombie tiger was ridiculous but, not gonna lie, also highly entertaining. I was hoping to love this one as I do still love zombie movies even though there are too many now. It just unfortunately didn’t live up to my own hype. It’s far from the best zombie movie out there but it’s also far from the worst.

My Rating: 7/10

Dawn Of The Dead (2004) Review

I’m re-posting this now so that I can post my Army Of The Dead review tomorrow.

This is a review I did as a guest on another blog a long time ago. I’ve sadly lost contact with the people running a lot of the blogs I wrote for in the past, so I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite guest reviews here before the blogs also disappear. As this is a favorite film of mine & as I often tweet this review, it made sense to finally re-post it here after the release of Zack Snyder’s Army Of The Dead.

This was originally written for Mike at Screenkicker for the Screenkicker Olympics, a great blogathon in which people discussed something movie-related from where they grew up or where they now live. So I chose Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead to represent Wisconsin. You can read the original post HERE, which contains an intro as well but I’ll get straight to the review below…

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Directed by Zack Snyder

Screenplay by James Gunn

Based on Dawn of the Dead by George A Romero

Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Ty Burrell, Kevin Zegers, Mekhi Phifer

Running time: 100 minutes/110 minutes (Director’s Cut)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Dawn of the Dead is a remake of George A Romero’s 1978 film of the same name. The film depicts a handful of human survivors living in a shopping mall located in the fictional town of Everett, Wisconsin surrounded by swarms of zombies.

My Opinion:

I love zombies. I loved zombies before they were cool, dammit! It’s like those Grateful Dead fans who became fans after Touch Of Grey – What do they call them? Touch Heads? Where am I going with this – I don’t even like The Grateful Dead. Well… I like that “Drivin’ that train, high on cocaine” song! And Touch Of Grey. 😉 And I’ve loved zombies since I first watched Romero’s amazing Night Of The Living Dead and then Dawn Of The Dead (1978), which is just as amazing in a different way and is now one of my all-time favorite movies. Then, in 2004, it was remade. Those who know me may have seen me ranting about how much remakes piss me off! Especially of my favorite movies. So how do I feel about Wisconsin boy Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead remake…?

I love it! There’s a shopping mall and, of course, zombies. But otherwise this feels like a whole new movie – A reimagining as opposed to an inferior copy (like the 2013 Carrie remake – it wasn’t horrible but was completely pointless). 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead gave us lots of varied characters, zombies we couldn’t outrun, a cool spot-the-celebrity-lookalike-zombie game, Disturbed, and a very different feel from the Romero zombie flicks.

I think what works for me, more than anything, are the characters in the film. They feel real. Sure you have a couple of assholes but even they feel like your typical every day assholes as opposed to the psychotic murdering rapist types you get in other post-apocalyptic movies. Okay – things have only just begun (I mean, the world goes to hell in this in just a few hours!) but I like to think we wouldn’t all turn into complete assholes quite so quickly after an apocalypse. The characters help each other and you find yourself liking a lot of them. They’re as developed as they need to be for a horror movie (actually, they’re very well developed as far as horror movies go, where we usually just get a bunch of idiotic girls with big tits dying in various ways). Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, and Jake Weber are the highlights for me (I had a crush on Jake Weber in this – I’d totally hook up with him in a zombie apocalypse). But even all the lesser characters in this are memorable, such as tough old lady Norma & father/daughter Lindy Booth and… Max Headroom! (Does anyone younger than me know Max Headroom?). Michael Kelly is perfect for his character as he has such a “hey, it’s that guy!” look about him. And I especially love gun-store Andy and all the interaction with him on the rooftop – those are probably my favorite bits of the movie.

I’ll wrap this up but first I have to make a mention of the music & the cameos. I loved the great cameos from original Dawn Of The Dead stars Scott H. Reiniger, Tom Savini (giving yet another Oscar-worthy performance) & especially Ken Foree as a televangelist. And it was nice seeing the “Gaylen Ross” store in the mall. Finally, they did a great job choosing the music in the film. I read at IMDb that Snyder personally chose most of the music, including The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash & Richard Cheese’s cover of Down With The Sickness so… Good job, Snyder! Those worked perfectly. Also loved the elevator music such as Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Have A Nice Day by Stereophonics was a perfect way to start the movie. And the proper Disturbed version of Down With The Sickness at the end is fine by me as I think that’s one of the best songs of the past 15 years. (*2021 update: That song is much more than 15 years old now and man I feel old having to type this*)

All in all, there’s not really anything that I don’t like about this movie. I’m not sure how I feel about the very end (through the credits) but I find that most horror films don’t know how to end. As far as horror movies go, this is a hell of a lot better than most. And as far as zombie movies go, this was definitely a worthy addition and, more importantly, respectful to the original.

My Rating: 8.5/10

I was going to end this post with a clip of Disturbed’s Down With The Sickness but decided to go with Johnny Cash’s fantastic The Man Comes Around instead. And this will be the only time you will find country music on this blog…

**And I apologise in advance for when I re-post my review of Brian Yuzna’s brilliant body horror Society, which I posted on another old blog HERE.

Underwater (2020)

Underwater (2020)

Directed by William Eubank

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., Mamoudou Athie, T.J. Miller

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A crew of oceanic researchers working for a deep sea drilling company try to get to safety after a mysterious earthquake devastates their deepwater research and drilling facility located at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

My Opinion:

When looking this up I noticed that the writer, Brian Duffield, was also the director of Spontaneous, which I liked a lot. He also wrote Love And Monsters & The Babysitter so he has an interesting list of films. Guess he’s a name to look out for for now! I liked this one a bit less than those but it was still an enjoyable film. I always enjoy these intense deepwater thrillers.

I mentioned in my review for Happiest Season that Kristen Stewart carries this whole movie. She does & she’s good in this but, as some people don’t like her, that may turn them off wanting to watch this as she’s by far the main character and, I’m thinking, in every single scene? Were there any without her? She’s the Ellen Ripley of the deep sea instead of space (but obviously still not nearly as cool as Ripley – no one ever will be). She even runs around in tiny underwear just like Ripley (not sure if that is necessary but I suppose I’d run around in tiny underwear if I had a sexy young body too). This seems a weird role for her after doing so many roles in things such as Personal Shopper. I prefer her in those sort of roles and don’t see her as an action star but she did really well here.


See? Tiny underwear!

I wanted to like this movie a bit more as it’s my type of thing. It’s one of those where I’m not sure why I didn’t like it a bit more. I felt something was missing but can’t for the life of me figure out what. It has good action, pretty good characters (although they all could have used much more development, including Stewart’s), and a cool reason for the earthquake that destroys their underwater facility. I’m staying spoiler-free here as the plot synopsis says nothing about that so I don’t know if it was marketed as a slightly different thing? But it ended up being the type of movie I was hoping for. Hmm. Yeah, all of those things were good. I don’t know – I think it was mainly because we didn’t get to know these characters at all. There are things hinted at, such as with Vincent Cassel’s having a daughter & Stewart having had a boyfriend or fiancé plus we get one couple who are likeable and you want them to survive together but you also don’t know much about them either. It’s one of those movies that dives (ha! dives! because it’s underwater…) straight into the action with no setup of any characters first, which always throws me a bit. And even though the action starts immediately, the movie still takes too long to get to the cool good stuff.

Well, I liked this one just fine. I want to give it a slightly higher rating. I suppose it’s also hurt by the fact that we’ve seen so many films like this & there are better examples of this sort of thing. But Stewart is really good as the movie’s big action hero plus I liked the ending a lot and I’m always picky about movie endings. There’s a great final scene with Stewart. If you’re a big fan of hers, I’d definitely recommend this as I think you’d really enjoy it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Happiest Season (2020) Review

Happiest Season (2020)

Directed by & Story by Clea DuVall

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Mary Holland,Victor Garber, Mary Steenburgen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a woman who struggles to come out to her conservative parents while she and her girlfriend visit them during Christmas.

My Opinion:

First of all, can I just say that I hate watching Christmas movies during any month other than December?? Seems pointless. At least the U.K. did get this before Christmas (I think??) – I just didn’t have that streaming service at the time. So, I suppose it lost a tiny bit of that special “Christmas feeling” by watching this in May but it’s also not an overly Christmassy film anyway despite being set in that time period. So watch it now if you want! It’s still enjoyable. It looked like it could be decent so I didn’t want to wait until December.

I liked this one. I’m not one of these Kristen Stewart haters but I’m also not of the generation who seem to absolutely love her for some reason. I don’t have much of an opinion on her one way or another but she was good in this (and very good in the film Underwater that I watched the other day & will try to review this week – she carried that whole movie). I liked her relationship with Mackenzie Davis in this and wanted them to live happily ever after & all that but I didn’t really feel they had much chemistry. Stewart’s character was more likeable & sympathetic and I kept thinking she might be better off with Aubrey Plaza. Well, they were still fine as a couple but a lot of the other characters helped to make this a really enjoyable movie. It was a bit slow to start but picked up when the family of the Mackenzie Davis character showed up as well as Dan Levy, as Kristen Stewart’s friend.

Victor Garber & especially Mary Steenburgen were great as the parents of Mackenzie Davis, whose house the couple stay at for several days over Christmas. Steenburgen was hilarious as the type of mother who wants her family to be perfect and is always making snide bitchy comments. Her treatment of the, I think middle?, of the three sisters was especially funny – that poor girl is always pushed aside and never lives up to expectations like the other two sisters do. Besides Stewart, my favorite characters were the middle sister (played by Mary Holland), Steenburgen as the pushy mother, and Dan Levy as Stewart’s friend. Don’t think I’ve seen Levy in anything before (I’ve not seen Schitt’s Creek). He was funny & I was glad he ended up in the movie a bit more by the end. We also had some fun sibling rivalry between Davis and her “bitchy” sister Alison Brie plus Aubrey Plaza, as I mentioned earlier, who plays a family friend & former secret girlfriend of Davis. I find Aubrey Plaza hit or miss but this was a good character for her.

I especially enjoyed this movie because it was “pleasant”. That sounds like a horrible compliment but I do mean it in a good way as there have been FAR too many dreary & depressing drama movies during this pandemic. I think we could all use a break from that! Sometimes you just want a lightweight rom-com with good characters & a fun sense of humor. The characters are what really make this film & it’s great that they had so many good ones. And I want to read the book the middle sister is writing. Her painting was pretty good too. Stop being mean to Jane!

My Rating: 7/10

The Invisible Man (2020) Review

The Invisible Man (2020)

Directed & Written by Leigh Whannell

Produced by Jason Blum & Kylie du Fresne

Based on Characters and concepts created by H. G. Wells for The Invisible Man

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a woman who believes she is being stalked and gaslit by her abusive and wealthy boyfriend even after his apparent suicide, and ultimately deduces that he has acquired the ability to become invisible.

My Opinion:

I missed out on this one at the time. I think it was because it was at the start of the pandemic so I missed it in the cinema & then didn’t have the streaming service it went to just after that. I wasn’t that bothered anyway as it’s a Leigh Whannell & Blumhouse film and they’re both very hit or miss (but mostly miss, especially with the horror stuff). While I do like the story Whannell wrote for the first Saw movie, I hated the sequels as they became way too gross and it turned me off of liking Saw at all anymore. I’ll never understand that torture porn crap. And I’ve just looked up Blumhouse Productions to see the full list of their films and, wow, the quality is all over the place on those. How can you go from good stuff like Whiplash to a lot of very meh or absolutely rubbish horror such as Unfriended (god I hated that movie). I also have to admit one other thing: I really don’t like Elisabeth Moss, although I have no good explanation for that. So this movie had a lot against it but then Horror Twitter started raving over it. To be fair, Horror Twitter raves over every horror movie so I’ve learned to ignore that but it did make me a little curious.

Damn, I thought this movie was pretty great. At least, it’s pretty damn good when compared to all the rubbish modern horror that gets made and compared to a lot of the other Blumhouse horror output. This is my type of horror: supernatural, psychological, and none of that in-your-face gory crap. It’s pretty intense, as the guy is invisible (obviously!) and you never know when he’s there stalking Elisabeth Moss. That was all very effective with some cool reveals to show his presence. I also thought that using this story in the context of an abusive relationship worked really well without it feeling like it was just trying to be “woke”. Plenty of psychological thrillers have involved abusive relationships & the thought of an abuser having the ability to become invisible is terrifying. But I should admit now that I’ve never seen the first film made & don’t really know the original H. G. Wells Invisible Man story so I’m kind of just assuming it’s not about an abused woman but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! I’d like to see the 1933 Claude Rains film now.

One other positive about this movie: The characters are pretty good (for a horror film). I even ended up liking Elisabeth Moss okay! It’s one of those movies where no one believes the main character & they think she’s going crazy, of course, which is super cliché in horror but that’s because these kind of stories require that. Of course no one is going to believe that some dude has made himself invisible. So that adds to the character’s feeling of isolation and having to find a way to fight this on her own. Oh! And I loved the ending. I usually hate horror endings! Her detective friend & his daughter were also strong & likeable characters (man, I was so worried about them). The abusive “Invisible Man” himself character was pretty one-dimensional, though – there’s really no character development there to explain why he does this. The character of the sister of Moss was also not great & kind of just there to be a “bitch” for not believing Moss but, hey, in horror I’m happy with three likeable characters and a main character who gets some good development going from an abused woman to someone ready to fight back.

The only slight negative about this movie, besides a pretty one-dimensional baddie (which doesn’t bother me that much – I don’t care to know why a bad guy is bad), is that I have to admit it’s a bit too long & is too slow to really get going. I don’t want to be one of those people who moans about the length of a film, though. I love some very long movies, such as Seven Samurai. This isn’t exactly an epic Kurosawa film though, is it? The Invisible Man is actually only just over two hours long but feels longer due to such a slow start so I think that could have been improved a bit.

The length & early pacing are just minor complaints as, overall, I liked this movie a lot. It won’t be an “all-time favorite” like the ’70s & ’80s horrors I grew up with and it isn’t quite up there with the very few rare modern horrors I loved such as The Babadook & It Follows. But it’s a very good psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat at times and I really enjoyed it. I’m always happy to see a good horror film. Hubby often asks me why I watch so many crappy horrors. I don’t want to watch crappy horrors – I want to watch good ones. I give them all a chance just in case I luck out & see a good one. The Invisible Man is a good one.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Spontaneous (2020) Review

Spontaneous (2020)

Directed by Brian Duffield

Based on Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

Starring: Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer, Hayley Law, Piper Perabo, Rob Huebel, Yvonne Orji

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb):
Get ready for the outrageous coming-of-age love story about growing up…and blowing up. When students in their school begin exploding (literally), seniors Mara and Dylan struggle to survive in a world where each moment may be their last.

My Opinion:

I really wasn’t expecting to like this movie so much. First of all, I assume this is a YA book? Though I’m not sure as I’ve not read it & know nothing whatsoever about it. I hate to use that Young Adult label as it gets a negative response these days and I thought this was a really good film. This movie gave me a Heathers vibe (come to think of it, I suppose Heathers would be what’s considered YA these days too). And Heathers rules but I really thought that sort of dark humor wouldn’t be allowed anymore. As a big fan of dark humor & a full-on “I trust no one” & “Just leave me the f*^k alone” Gen-Xer, this movie spoke to my teenage self & I’m curious what current teens think of it. If they can find a way to watch it… (It’s rated R in America & 15 in the U.K.). It’s very dark so is certainly only for the late teens into twenties sort of age. It’s extremely bloody, too (though not what I’d call “gory”). Hard to avoid it being bloody since it’s about a class of high school seniors who suddenly start randomly blowing up.

The main girl is Mara, played by Katherine Langford. She’s fantastic & cool as shit. Yeah, she’s kind of the Winona Ryder Veronica in Heathers. I think that if you go for her character, you’ll like this movie. She’s very funny with a very morbid sense of humor. But she’s also not necessarily a very nice or likeable person. I could really relate to her character as she very much has the attitude that I had in my late teens. She manages to be cool and say the perfect bitchy things that I think lot of us wish we could’ve said in high school if we weren’t all so scared of what people would think of us. So she’s kind of that ideal “cool teen” most of us were too scared to be.

After the first exploding teen, a boy named Dylan (played by Charlie Plummer) gets up the nerve to let Mara know that he has a crush on her. He’s most definitely not Christian Slater’s J.D. from Heathers: Dylan is sweet & nerdy and instantly lovable. He also has a quirky sense of humor that goes really well with Mara’s and they end up being one of those movie couples who just work perfectly together. Oh, and he’s a movie nerd & the two of them quote cool movies so obviously that made me like them & root for them even more. These two are really great in this. I know Langford has been in a few things I’ve seen but I’d not really noticed her before & Plummer was in a movie I hated and I didn’t notice him at all. In this, however, they’re fantastic. I’d be a fan of them both right now if I was a teen. Also liked Mara’s best friend, played by Hayley Law. They had a cool friendship (the sort I always wanted in school but girls never liked me).

Besides all the exploding teens & great dark humor, this movie does have a serious sort of undercurrent running through it. I very much disagree with the fairly low rating on IMDb. I’ve only had a brief glance at what people are saying but can’t exactly figure out what the haters don’t like about this movie. Maybe they wanted a straightforward horror comedy? That’s not quite what this is (although it is funny and also horrific). The simple thing would be to say that this movie is a coming of age film and an allegory for their fear and uncertainty at finishing high school and becoming adults. I think it’s way more than that, though. I feel very sorry for teens these days as they’re living in extremely difficult times. I can’t imagine the constant fear of possibly being shot every damn time they go to school (talking about American teens in this case, which is where the movie is based). What kind of life is that? And now they’ve had to deal with Covid too. And I won’t even go into all the other shit as I try to avoid anything political but, man, the the last four years have been a total clusterfuck. Add the social media nightmare into the mix, something Gen X didn’t have to worry about at all, and I honestly don’t know how current teenagers are able to get out of bed each day. I can barely handle any of this shit as an adult (but I’ve never been good at being one of those).

So, yeah – I imagine that being a modern teen must feel like living with the fear that you could spontaneously combust at any moment. I think the movie is telling us that without actually telling us that. Besides having one very obvious message to live each day to the fullest as you never know what might happen, it doesn’t have any other specific messages it’s trying to force on us. The movie is thankfully not at all preachy (which I hate). It doesn’t offer any obvious answers or explanations but I like it being ambiguous as I think the film could mean different things to different people. I think anyone struggling with the many issues related to being a teen nowadays would be able to identify with these characters and their feelings.

Well, I honestly kind of loved this movie. It’s darkly funny and deeply sad and I love that different people will get different meanings from it. The “live life to the fullest” message is maybe a tiny bit simplistic for such dark film but, hell, it’s the exact same message Ferris Bueller gave those of us in Generation X. It may be over 30 years since the John Hughes days but it was hard being a teenager then and it’s sure as shit hard now. I truly am sorry that society has failed to protect these kids & teenagers.

My Rating: 8/10

**Just a note to say that I watched waaaay too many movies in April so I’m going to be very late posting my April roundup as it’ll take forever to write. But a few of the April roundup reviews, like this one, ended up being so long that I decided to post them separately. It also helps that I really enjoyed each of these. I also fully reviewed Promising Young Woman, Swallow & Bloodsport (yes, the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie). Oh, and Sound Of Metal & My Octopus Teacher for the Oscars.

Bloodsport (1988) Review

Bloodsport (1988)

Directed by Newt Arnold

Story by Sheldon Lettich

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb, Leah Ayres, Norman Burton, Forest Whitaker, Bolo Yeung

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
“Bloodsport” follows Frank Dux, an American martial artist serving in the military, who decides to leave the army to compete in a martial arts tournament in Hong Kong where fights to the death can occur.

My Opinion:

Yeah! Bloodsport!! This is where my rating system is confusing to people (maybe?!). This movie is terrible. But I’m giving it a 7.5, about the same as my recent ratings for Promising Young Woman & Swallow, both of which I really enjoyed & thought were good. I’ve not yet reviewed these but I’m giving two absolute worthy classics that I watched this past month a 7.5 as well (Battleship Potemkin & The Innocents). Why?! I don’t know. I just rate on a combination of a) how much I enjoyed a movie (this is the first & most important), and then b) if it’s a “good” or worthy film. I gave Mank a 7/10. I didn’t enjoy that one at all, really, but I know it’s “good” so I gave it a 7 to be nice. But I had a hell of a lot more fun watching Bloodsport!

First of all, shockingly as I grew up in the ’80s and adore that decade & love everything from it, this is the first & only Jean-Claude Van Damme movie I’ve seen. I just always avoided him & Steven Seagal as their movies looked rubbish. I mean, we had Sylvester Stallone & especially Arnold Schwarzenegger at the time making some damn good movies, so why would I want to watch bad action movies? Well, I suppose Van Damme & Seagal were a bit later & more into the ’90s but you know what I mean. I just didn’t see the point of watching their shit. Plus Van Damme had a terrible mullet in later movies. He was kind of a cutie in this early film, though. And, wow – that ASS! I’m fine with the only nudity in this being male nudity. What a butt! (Why can’t I find a decent image of that butt to post here?! Found a nice gif, though. May have watched that a few times…)

I think it actually helped that I watched this for the first time in 2021, so I thoroughly enjoyed the absolute ’80s fucking cheese of this. So I felt nostalgic whereas I probably would have just thought this was bad if I’d watched it in 1988 when it came out. And it actually looks & feels more like an early ’80s movie, not late ’80s when movies started to get a little bland (that’s a good thing – the early ’80s feel works for this martial arts genre). The early & late ’80s were a lot different as there was a spillover of the groovy ’70s at first. I suppose it made this feel a tiny bit closer to the ’70s masterpiece Enter The Dragon. Not that I’m comparing them, exactly – I just don’t have much experience in the martial arts film genre so am going to think of the very few others I’ve seen plus a bunch of people come together to fight “to the possible death” in both movies. But Enter The Dragon is awesome and a classic (8.5/10 – I loved it AND thought it was actually good).

Van Damme is good in this, I guess. He’s great at the martial arts stuff, at least. Right? I don’t know. What do I know? I’m a wuss & know no martial arts. He’s maybe not so great at the acting stuff but no one watches this kind of movie for Oscar worthy performances. And I loved his friend in this (Jackson, played by Donald Gibb, the big dude who played Ogre in Revenge Of The Nerds). He was funny & super likeable in a big dumb doofus sort of way. And Van Damme’s training at the start of the movie was hilariously silly. There’s a thing he’s made to do where you just KNOW he’s gonna have to use it at the end of the film. How convenient! Ha! Well, there are a few things he learned while training which came in super handy at the end (those splits!). And why on Earth did the young version of Van Damme look nothing whatsoever like him plus he sounded weird (was there odd dubbing or ADR or some shit – I dunno, I know nothing about this stuff either!).

So, back to the splits… Van Damme does those painful looking splits so many times in this thing. First time was funny as hell while tied up to trees and the final time was way up high overlooking everything because, yeah, who wouldn’t want to sit there on painful stone doing painful splits while getting massive vertigo? Here’s what I’m talking about:

Actually, I just looked up “Bloodsport splits” for an image and there were so many from this movie that I’m just gonna go ahead & stick them all in here. Love it!

I guess that’s impressive, though. Ouch! All I can say is THIS:

As I’m an idiot who knows nothing about this stuff I’ll say that I did read about the film & it’s based on some guy’s “true story”. So I don’t want to go dumping on the movie too much. But I’m a little concerned now & thinking that there are huge underground death-matches going on for real! Is this a thing?!? Well, the real guy is Frank Dux & his claims are disputed. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it: “According to Dux, a ninjutsu expert named Senzo Tanaka trained him as a ninja when he was a teenager. He established his own school of ninjutsu called Dux Ryu Ninjutsu, and has said he won a secret martial arts tournament called the Kumite in 1975. His alleged victory at the Kumite served as the inspiration for the 1988 film Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Dux’s victory at the Kumite has been disputed, as has the existence of both the Kumite he described and Senzo Tanaka.

Well. I kind of loved this movie? Or, at least, I loved watching it. As I tried to watch a lot of dreary & depressing Oscar nominees the past few months, it was nice to just relax and have good giggles over a fun ’80s movie. Oh, and there’s lots of fighting in this too if you like that kind of thing! Nice – I didn’t even mention the actual fighting in this “fight to the death” film! Whatever. I’m a girl. I was distracted by his butt. The fighting was great. I do actually love these fights. I think I might actually like these martial arts films?? I’ve now seen this, Enter The Dragon, Fist Of Fury & Ip Man (now THAT is a damn good film). Fun! I like. What martial arts film should I watch next?

My Rating: 7.5/10

Oh, let’s end this post with this amazing backwards kick thingy he used on this dude.

Swallow (2019) Review

Swallow (2019)

Directed & Written by Carlo Mirabella-Davis

Starring: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rasche, Denis O’Hare

Plot Synopsis (via IMDb):
Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.

My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see this for ages as it looked like the weird kind of shit I like. Sounded like the kind of story David Cronenberg would do (but don’t get the wrong idea – this is nothing like a Cronenberg film!). I liked this one a lot (I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched so far this year, actually).

Swallow certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though – I just like an unusual story. What also made me very happy is that this film is beautiful. She lives in this absolutely gorgeous house with an amazing view and wears ridiculously lovely dresses while vacuuming her gorgeous home in high heels like a good old-fashioned housewife, and the cinematography (I guess?) showcases all of this beautifully. I know nothing whatsoever about filmmaking & what makes this movie pretty. Cinematography? Art direction? I don’t know. I just know that I liked the look of it & I’m very into a film’s visuals (it’s why I like Argento & Leone movies). Promising Young Woman also had a good “look” that I liked. Swallow is a lovely looking film, so I’ve added quite a few images from it to give you an idea.

Besides looking so good, I was very surprised to find that this was a great character study. I thought Haley Bennett, as Hunter, was perfect. I think some people may have had the wrong idea before seeing this film, which is probably why its IMDb rating is unfairly low. Even I had wondered if it would somewhat be a “horror” (as I said, I had Cronenberg vibes from the synopsis). It’s also rated 18 (R in the US) but that must only be because the subject matter is so disturbing. Understandable, as it’s a scary but also very real disorder (called pica) and is a movie that shouldn’t be seen by anyone young as they’d not understand it.

Whether the movie does a good job exploring this real disorder I can’t say. I know nothing about it but am sure it has been studied by plenty of experts. But, as a film with a fictional character, I thought it did a great job showing someone with a mental illness & how those in her life didn’t support her. You could feel how alone Hunter felt despite having this seemingly perfect life. Without support & love from those in her life, her condition spirals out of control. I wanted to smack her damn husband & say “Be there for your wife, you superficial asshole!“.

Well, this was meant to be in my “monthly roundup” post next week. As it’s ended up a fairly long write-up, I’m posting it as a separate review. I don’t do that much lately due to not having the time but do wish I could do more posts dedicated to just one film when I really like one. I thought this was a very good film with odd & disturbing subject matter & a strong performance from Bennett. It’s one I’d be scared to actually recommend to anyone, though. Definitely not one for everyone & you’d have to be sure you’d be okay watching the character doing this dangerous thing to herself. It could be a very upsetting movie for some people due to a few uncomfortable subjects in it. As a film lover, I’m happy to see such a well made film. The director hasn’t made many films yet & I’d be interested in seeing more of his work now.

My Rating: 8/10

*Just like with Promising Young Woman, I’m teetering on the edge of giving this 8/10! I think I’m not as generous with my ratings now as I’ve rated stuff too highly in the past. I may still make this an 8…

**Okay, I’ve made this an 8.

Remembering John Hughes On His Birthday

Today would have been the 71st Birthday of John Hughes. Being a part of Generation X, his movies obviously meant a lot to me as a big-haired ’80s teenager & it was very sad when he passed away in 2009.

It’s also Molly Ringwald’s 53rd birthday today. How cool is it that they had the same birthday? Happy Birthday to Molly!

As well as being a great writer, John Hughes also had excellent taste in the music he chose for his films. I recently teamed up with Strange Adventures Music (@StrangeAdvMusic) to create a comprehensive John Hughes playlist. The playlist includes the currently available music from every movie directed, written or produced by Hughes. You can check that out at Apple Music (HERE) or Spotify (HERE). I still listen to that playlist a lot myself.

I also have very fond memories of running a John Hughes Blogathon here in 2014. Thanks again to the many bloggers who participated & helped to review every movie directed or written by Hughes. I thought it was time to again share all the reviews below if you’d like to have a look. And if you love John Hughes too & have a review you’d like me to add to this post as well, feel free to post a link to it in the comments. 🙂

JOHN HUGHES MOVIE REVIEWS:

101 Dalmatians by Fearsome 5 (and family!)

Baby’s Day Out by Film Grimoire

Beethoven by Film Grimoire

The Breakfast Club by The IPC

The Breakfast Club by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

The Breakfast Club by A Clockwalker Orange

The Breakfast Club by MIB’s Instant Headache

Career Opportunities by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Curly Sue by MovieRob

Dennis by MovieRob

Drillbit Taylor by Rhetologue’s Movie Logs

Drillbit Taylor by MovieRob

Dutch by MovieRob

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by Fast Film Reviews

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by The Dirk Malcolm Alternative

Flubber by MovieRob

The Great Outdoors by Smashing Through Life

The Great Outdoors by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Home Alone by MovieRob

Home Alone 2 by Screenkicker

Home Alone 3 by Ten Stars Or Less

Just Visiting by JJames Reviews

Maid In Manhattan by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Miracle On 34th Street by Where The Wild Things Are

Mr. Mom by JJames Reviews

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation by Tvor Travels

National Lampoon’s Class Reunion by Brian at Hard Ticket To Home Video

National Lampoon’s European Vacation by Tvor Travels

National Lampoon’s Vacation by The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger

Only The Lonely by Ten Stars Or Less

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by Film Nerd Blog

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by The Cinematic Frontier

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by The IPC

Pretty In Pink by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Pretty In Pink by Tranquil Dreams

Pretty In Pink by MovieRob

Savage Islands by MovieRob

She’s Having A Baby by Rhetologue’s Movie Logs

She’s Having A Baby by MovieRob

Sixteen Candles by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Sixteen Candles by Where The Wild Things Are

Sixteen Candles by Film Nerd Blog

Sixteen Candles by The IPC

Sixteen Candles by MIB’s Instant Headache

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Silver Screen Serenade

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Some Kind Of Wonderful by MovieRob

Tajna Nikole Tesle by 501 Must-See Movies Project

Uncle Buck by The IPC

Weird Science – special double review by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me) & Eric of The IPC

Weird Science by What About The Twinkie?

Weird Science by MIB’s Instant Headache

EXTRAS:

My Top Ten John Hughes Movies by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Don’t You Forget About Me (documentary about John Hughes) by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

John Hughes Mini-Reviews by Mr Mutant (my hubby)

My Top Ten Older Release Movies Watched In 2020

Hi again! I see some old faces are back on the blogs again?? Yay! I’ll reply to everyone at the weekend (too busy with work on weekdays). Welcome back! 🙂

Now onto the year-end movie lists I love making every year. Today will be the best older (pre-2020) movies I watched in 2020. These are all first-time watches. I rewatched loads of movies this year thanks to lockdowns. I won’t be putting those in a list as they’re just some old favorites but you can see the full ranked list of absolutely everything I watched HERE if you’re super bored or something. I was clearly super bored as I watched way too many movies…

Tomorrow I’ll post my final list of My Top Ten Movies Released In The U.K. In 2020.

I wish it had been a better year for movies, as I don’t think anything I chose to watch will end up as an all-time favorite film. I still enjoyed some, though. But the 2020 releases were understandably very disappointing.

As I watched so many movies, I’ll actually make this a top 30. So counting down to my top ten, here are My Top 30 Pre-2020 Movies Watched In 2020.

30-21:

30. The Wizard – 6.5/10
29. She’s Gotta Have It – 6.5/10
28. The Call – 6.5/10
27. No Country For Old Men – 7/10
26. Three Identical Strangers – 6.5/10
25. The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl – 6.5/10
24. Four Flies On Grey Velvet – 6.5/10
23. Wildflower – 6.5/10
22. Infinity Chamber – 6.5/10
21. Lady Vengeance – 6.5/10

20-11

20. This Boy’s Life – 7/10
19. Santa Claus: The Movie – 7/10
18. Rise Of The Guardians – 7/10
17. Burning – 6.5/10
16. The Wraith – 6.5/10
15. Boy – 7/10
14. Fruitvale Station – 7/10
13. Blinded By The Light – 7/10
12. Captain Fantastic – 7/10
11. Dreamgirls – 7/10

Top Ten:

10. Crimson Peak – 7/10

9. Long Shot – 7/10

8. Little Women – 7/10

7. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – 7/10

6. First Man – 7.5/10

5. Mid90s – 7.5/10

4. The Peanut Butter Falcon – 7.5/10

3. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – 7.5/10

2. Calamity Jane – 7.5/10

1. Meet Me In St. Louis – 7.5/10

Onward (2020) Review

Onward (2020)

Directed by Dan Scanlon

Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer

Production company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.

My Opinion:

Ahh – My beloved Pixar. Pixar is up there with Studio Ghibli & Akira Kurosawa films for me in that they’re responsible for making so many movies I love & their very best are cinematic perfection (in my opinion, obviously). Pixar could do no wrong until the Cars movies came along & they’ve unfortunately had a few missteps since then. The Disney “sequelitis” thing has hurt the Pixar brand slightly, although Pixar’s weakest films are still far better than the majority of output from other animation studios. Onward is good but it’s certainly not one of Pixar’s best. However, I appreciate getting an original story instead of yet another sequel (Toy Story 4 was very disappointing after the third one had such a perfect ending & made for a fantastic trilogy).

Okay – not that anyone cares but you know I love to make lists & rank things. So here’s My Pixar Movie Ranking (Wow – I never watched Cars 3? I’m clearly not into those…). Figured this was worth doing to see where I’d place Onward:

21. Cars 2
20. The Good Dinosaur
19. Cars
18. Incredibles 2
17. Finding Dory
16. Monsters University
15. Toy Story 4
14. Onward
13. Coco
12. Ratatouille
11. A Bug’s Life
10. Brave
9. The Incredibles
8. Up
7. Toy Story 2
6. Toy Story 3
5. Inside Out
4. Finding Nemo
3. Monsters, Inc.
2. Toy Story
1. WALL-E

So, Onward is unfortunately one of the weakest “original” stories but still better than all the sequels (other than Toy Story 2 & 3, which are great). To be honest, I enjoyed it a bit more than Coco. Coco is lovely to look at & a better “film” but I liked the Onward main characters & the relationship between the two brothers.

I think maybe the most difficult thing with Onward was trying to NOT keep getting Weekend At Bernie’s vibes from it as they dragged their dad around on their journey. As usual, Pixar know how to pull on those heartstrings & there are some lovely moments in this film that are kind of ruined by that stupid Andrew McCarthy movie popping up in my head. Damn you, Andrew McCarthy! (I’m just extra mad at him as I also re-watched Pretty In Pink over the weekend. I will always be #TeamDuckie!).

I’ll try to keep this short as I’m not really planning on doing many full movie reviews this year but, as it’s Pixar, I had to write a little about it. Having just watched Onward, I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. Maybe it will grow on me as some Pixar movies did after a re-watch but I don’t think that will happen in this case & I can’t see ever loving it as I do those at the top of my Pixar list. The overall story is fine but a little weak, especially when compared to just how brilliantly inventive Pixar ideas often are (I’m still amazed by Monsters, Inc. Genius idea). The minor characters in Onward are also disappointing, which is a shame as Pixar often have such strong characters in even the smallest roles. Look at something like Finding Nemo – I love each & every damn sea creature in that thing! They all have such unique personalities. No one stands out in Onward other than the two brothers.

However, I think Onward handles the topic of losing someone well. It manages to make you care about the brothers & their dad, at least, and to yet again simultaneously warm & break your damn heart at the end in usual Pixar fashion. I won’t give too much away but, ultimately, this story is about the two brothers and they’re what make this movie work. They help make up for there being no memorable other characters (maybe that’s the reason why, so the focus is on the brothers & them wanting to see their dad again). I saw people freaking out on Twitter when someone said Onward is Frozen for boys (with people pointing out that both boys & girls can like both of these movies). Chill out, people. The comparison is accurate in that Frozen is about sisters & Onward is about brothers. They’re both about family & love & loss. They’re good films that everyone should be able to relate to in some way. I do wish Onward was a better film overall as its heart is in the right place. Well, you never know – maybe it will grow on me a bit.

My Rating: 7/10

Parasite (2019) Review

Parasite (2019) (기생충, 寄生蟲, gisaengchung, kisaengch’ung)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Chang Hyae-jin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Parasite stars Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, and Park So-dam, and follows the members of a poor household who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating the household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

My Opinion:

After a year of hearing everyone raving over this on Twitter, the UK is FINALLY getting the chance to see it today. I was beyond excited & extremely happy to see it two weeks early with my cinema membership. It’s a very good film. But is it a masterpiece as so many are claiming? I hate how any halfway decent current film gets declared a damn masterpiece. Let a movie age a bit! See if it stands the test of time. Will Parasite be a “masterpiece” 20 years from now? I’m not sure about that but I think it’ll always be a well respected film. I expected this to be my favorite Best Picture Oscar nominee as I love foreign films. It might be my favorite but in some ways I think Joker is a better film despite people whining about it (although Parasite is far more “me” than a Scorsese-wannabe comic book movie). Okay, yes – Parasite is probably my favorite Best Picture nominee this year… I admit it’s grown on me over the past two weeks.

Despite the hype, I didn’t go into a Parasite with really high expectations as I’ve not loved any of Bong Joon-ho’s work that I’ve seen. Although the concept for Snowpiercer was amazing, the film was a bit of a mess. Okja was mostly just annoying as, with Snowpiercer as well, the characters were so unpleasant & ridiculous (especially Swinton & Gyllenhaal). I think I may have actually enjoyed his film The Host the most as I like a decent monster movie & the young girl in it was really good (and one of the only Bong Joon-ho characters to not be hateful in some way). However, as much as I hate hateful characters (which is why I suppose I haven’t gotten on with his work), they work perfectly for Parasite. I mean, it’s a social satire & the whole point of the film. Actually, these are probably his least hateful movie characters as the bad in each of them is far more subtle & none of them are the ridiculous Swinton-type caricatures. Everyone is flawed in some way, making them feel more real (we’re all flawed). You feel both sympathy & repulsion for every character at various points in the film.

I do think Parasite is a clever film with far deeper characters than we’ve had in Bong Joon-ho’s other work (that I’ve seen) & I understand some of the hype. It’s certainly his best film & I did enjoy the strange mix of genres, especially the dark humor. I was just hoping I might love Parasite. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a new movie that I know will be an all-time favorite of mine. Parasite is a very good film but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. I respect it. It’s well-written, it looks fantastic (it’s too bad I’m doing a short review so don’t have many images from the film as there are some great shots), and the acting is very good. But there are loads of foreign films I’ve thought were much better that didn’t get this same level of acclaim. Still, I’m happy to see a foreign film getting so much attention & hope that maybe it will open more people up to the idea of checking out some non-English language movies.

My Rating: 8/10