Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film tells the story of 90-year-old Lucky as he comes to terms with his own mortality and searches for enlightenment. It was one of Stanton’s final onscreen roles before his death.
This was just fantastic. Being a fan of Harry Dean Stanton, I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to watching what I knew was one of his final films before his death.
Stanton rightly deserved the praise he got for this role. He’s absolutely brilliant as Lucky. You can really feel the emotion in this film, as he comes to terms with his own mortality as well as that of his character. And the emotional impact of that final shot is up there with the image on the swings in Ikiru. Utterly devastating yet uplifting at the same time. Only the very best films and/or performances manage that extremely tricky combination without coming across as contrived. Harry Dean Stanton does it perfectly.
This movie reminded me a lot of Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge, which I watched recently and also really enjoyed. Not the story but the way they both showed “local community Americana” and the different types of people who make up those communities & how they interact. I’m always a sucker for small-town-America-with-quirky-characters movies. Growing up in very small-town America, I can totally relate to movies with that sort of setting and have a real love/hate relationship with the town I grew up in. I couldn’t wait to escape it but I also can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else when I die. Morbid. Sorry! Contemplating my own mortality myself lately. However, I grew up in a town in the Midwest & not in a lovely small desert town in California like in this film. Almost made me want to change my dream of retiring in Maine to retiring in a town like this one instead. Such beautiful scenery.
I haven’t done a blog post in a while so wanted to just quickly write something about Lucky as I found it very moving. I clearly love the art of cinema and it’s because of films like this one. I don’t normally care that much about the performances or choice of actors, as long as they aren’t “bad” at acting, but Stanton is fantastic in this. I agree with the film’s poster that it’s the performance of a lifetime. And I think that when you reach the age of 90 that you should be allowed to go around shouting “C*nts!” as much as you want.
R.I.P. Harry Dean Stanton. You’re missed but your performances will live on.
The Oscars are on tonight so I’m finally doing a post with links to the reviews I’ve done of some of the nominated films.
I can’t believe I used to stay up all night long to watch the Oscars live when I first moved to the U.K. Ugh. I don’t anymore because 1) I don’t always have access to the live ceremony because that service is too expensive and 2) I’m too old & tired to stay up all night (and then go to work! how did I do that?!) but most importantly 3) Screw the Oscars! They’ve become a joke in the past several years & this year’s ceremony sounds ridiculous. I had a rant during my Mass review but I’ll just say again that I don’t have time for a movie awards ceremony that doesn’t see the Best Original Score & all the others not being presented as important enough to make the live show.
But I’m sure I’ll still watch the shorter recap show tomorrow night & bitch about the ceremony the whole time…
Well, there seem to be better Best Picture nominees than some years but I’ve only seen six of the ten. Of those I’ve not seen, I really do want to see Drive My Car. I’m sure I’ll check out King Richard, Licorice Pizza & Belfast when available too but I’m in no rush. I think The Power Of The Dog will probably win anyway, which was my least favorite of those I’ve seen. I loved Dune & CODA. Actually not sure which of the two I preferred. Dune is more “me” but CODA was so lovely & thoroughly enjoyable to watch. They’re maybe tied.
Here are my reviews of those I’ve seen of all the nominees (from my favorite to least favorite):
There were also some strong documentaries & shorts that were luckily available on U.K. services. Summer Of Soul was great with fantastic music so I really enjoyed that. And Please Hold was a good Black-Mirror-Inspired story.
Nominated Documentaries & Shorts I’ve Seen (not ranked):
Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
The Long Goodbye Three Songs For Benazir
The Windshield Wiper
Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
Best Original Screenplay:
“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh
“Don’t Look Up” Adam McKay, David Sirota
“King Richard,” Zach Baylin
“Licorice Pizza,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Worst Person in the World,” Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
Best Original Song:
“Be Alive” (“King Richard”), Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Dixson
“Dos Oruguitas” (“Encanto”), Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Down to Joy” (“Belfast”), Van Morrison
“No Time to Die” (“No Time to Die”), Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell
“Somehow You Do” (“Four Good Days”), Diane Warren
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Emilia Jones as the eponymous CODA (child of deaf adults), the only hearing member of a deaf family, who struggles to balance her attempts to help her family’s struggling fishing business and her own life aspirations.
Finally! After a week of watching a bunch of the films with Oscar nominations and getting really annoyed at how boring (Nightmare Alley), irritating & unwatchable (Spencer) most of them are, it was great to see something I thoroughly enjoyed. Why do the Oscars nominate so many films that feel like an absolute chore to watch? I’m surprised this was nominated for Best Picture, actually, as the Academy doesn’t often go for a sweet “feelgood” family film. They like dreary & depressing stuff so often but crowd-pleasing can be worthy too. I’m glad they recognised this one. Not sure of its chances but it would be lovely to see it win.
The performances were all great in this as well. Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant & Marlee Matlin all would have been worthy nominees so it’s a shame it’s not up for more acting awards but I’m glad Kotsur was nominated at least. It’s also up for Best Adapted Screenplay so, again, not sure of its chances of winning Best Picture with only three nominations overall but I think Kotsur has a good chance. I really liked these characters & their strong family bond. Yes, it’s a heartwarming film but it’s not overly sentimental or saccharine. They got the balance right on that, which can be hard to achieve, and the film has some great funny moments too. Kotsur & Matlin were especially fun as horny parents still madly in love with each other. I’ve not seen Emilia Jones & Daniel Durant in anything else but this will hopefully get them more roles as they were both brilliant too. All four of them worked really well together & were believable as a family.
Oh, and I loved the setting too. I swear I want to be able to retire to a small East Coast America fishing village (this is set in Massachusetts). I blame Stephen King for that! I’ve just read too many of his stories set in Maine. And….. I can’t think of anything else to say! When I hate a movie, I can ramble on forever moaning about it. CODA is such a good & enjoyable film and there is absolutely nothing negative I could possibly say about it. It’s also not trying too hard to be something its not, which again is why I’m surprised it’s up for Best Picture. It’s a lovely film and I’m happy I got to watch it. (Thanks to my family gifting me that streaming service for Mother’s Day. They know exactly what kind of gifts I like!). Oh, and they both really enjoyed this movie too. It’s a great family film.
Here are two quick reviews in time for the shitty looking Oscars ceremony I really don’t want to watch but probably will. Figured I should check out two of the Best Actress contenders that just showed up on U.K. services. Bloody hell one of these movies was godawful.
The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021)
Directed by Michael Showalter
Based on The Eyes of Tammy Faye by Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film tells the story of Tammy Faye Bakker (played by Jessica Chastain), from her humble beginnings growing up in International Falls, Minnesota through the rise and fall of her televangelism career and marriage to Jim Bakker (played by Andrew Garfield).
I did NOT expect to far prefer this movie out of these two. I had zero interest in even watching this but stuck it on to see an acting Oscar nominee since I’ve only been able to watch half of the Best Picture nominees (I’ve not seen Belfast, CODA, Drive My Car, King Richard or Licorice Pizza). I’ll say that I knew nothing whatsoever about Tammy Faye Bakker other than, of course, remembering the religious lady with the crazy makeup at the height of her & her husband’s fame (or more like infamy, I guess).
I won’t get into religion as I avoid talking about religion or politics like the plague. I’ll just say it’s a topic I do have a very strong opinion about & I never understood the televangelist thing in America when I lived there. It must make other countries think we’re crazy for supporting what seem like cults but are these ministries as big of a deal as they seem? They must be as they managed to find people to give them millions, making them so damn rich. But who are these people? I never knew anyone who would give money to televangelists?
Anyway. I’m NOT going to get into that. I’ll just say again that I knew nothing about Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker as that kind of thing is utterly & completely foreign to me but this movie made me feel sympathy for her at least. It’s a Hollywood film & I’m not stupid – they can so easily make a person either look good or bad depending on their agenda so I’m not going to just assume it’s 100% accurate. I’m also not interested enough to go looking into its accuracy (sorry). But whether it’s true or not I really liked how genuine she seemed here in her love of God (despite my own beliefs) and embracing the true supposed meaning of Christianity (love & acceptance of everyone no matter their race, gender, sex, sexuality, etc). Yes, despite hiding behind a mask of makeup she seemed more genuine in her beliefs than all the powerful & intolerant men in this film who also became rich in the same way. Again, I’m sure it was exaggerated or more likely entirely fake but I loved the scene where she was just being her sweet self talking about her beliefs while the men her husband idolised clearly wanted this “woman with opinions” to shut the hell up.
Well, as I said I liked this movie and character more than I was expecting. It was probably easier for me to buy into as Bakker isn’t nearly as well-known as someone huge like Princess Diana but Jessica Chastain did seem to do a very good portrayal. There’s plenty to discuss here when it comes to the hypocrisy of rich & powerful “Christians” and there’s probably something psychological with Tammy Faye feeling the need to cover her face in all that makeup. I don’t think the movie really explores any of that at all, though, which is a shame. But it wasn’t a bad film & was a small entertaining look into something I know very little about. At least Tammy Faye, for all her & especially her husband’s obvious faults, embraced what I was always led to believe was the core Christian belief of love & acceptance (?!). In that way, she came across as quite lovely (in this Hollywood film, at least. I dunno). She was a fascinating person. While I don’t think the movie did much in terms of trying to help us to understand her as a person, at least it made us sympathize with her & accept her in the way she seemed to accept others.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Music by Jonny Greenwood
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, Sally Hawkins
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film is about Princess Diana’s existential crisis at Christmas because she wants to divorce Prince Charles and leave the British royal family.
What? What on Earth? Who? Why? Huh? Did… Did people actually like this movie? Am I just completely out of touch with film fans these days?! I honestly don’t know where I fit in now. “Regular” people I know in real life who aren’t movie-obsessed like me probably think I have weird & slightly snobby movie tastes (I do) and would hate a lot of the movies I’ve loved in recent years. But then I see Film Twitter & critics praise stuff like this, which I found annoying & pretentious and a chore to finish watching. And it had the most obnoxious & irritating score which just put me on edge the whole time. Which I hate saying as the score was done by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead & they’re easily one of my Top Ten favorite bands ever but, hey, I guess it makes sense as plenty of their stuff from later years was fucking irritating. (But I still love them for having SO many songs I adore)
Is Kristen Stewart’s performance Oscar-worthy? For the most part, I don’t care that much about performances (unless they’re really bad). I care more about Best Picture & the overall film being one that I actually enjoy. So it was hard to judge the performance as I was distracted by hating this movie so much but it seemed awful to me? So over-the-top. It felt like a ridiculous caricature but what do I know about anything?! I think the performance was meant to be an exaggerated version of Princess Diana so maybe Stewart was amazing? Was it?? Was it meant to be hammy??? And I’m just dumb & uncultured???? And I moaned about this in my Being The Ricardos review but, if you’re gonna hire someone who looks nothing like a very well-known real person, at least make sure that actor/actress is DAMN good. So, yay, I just spent two hours watching Kristen Stewart being blonde, glancing sideways a lot, throwing up & talking about masturbating. It just felt insulting to the memory of Princess Diana.
I’m looking down & sideways! I’m Diana!
Screw it. I don’t feel like rambling on forever about hating a movie (for a change). This film, about one of the most interesting & beloved figures in recent history, somehow managed to be an absolute snoozefest. That’s quite a feat, I guess. I’m sorry if anyone reading this liked this film but I’d be very interested to know why as I’m starting to wonder why I like so few films in recent years, especially Oscar nominated ones…
Based on Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A grifter working his way up from low-ranking carnival worker to lauded psychic medium matches wits with a psychiatrist bent on exposing him.
Ugh. Okay, this is going to be a sucky review because I have very little to say about this movie. Well, all my reviews are sucky. So this will be more sucky than usual!
Man, this film was a drag. Guillermo del Toro’s output is kind of all over the place, though. I like some films, like Pan’s Labyrinth (brilliant) and The Shape Of Water. But other films of his are a bit meh. As always, though, I like the style of his movies & this one also has his great signature look to it. So, yay, it looked very pretty. But that didn’t make the movie any less boring. Nightmare Alley ended up like Crimson Peak: A great-looking but dull film. And I think I enjoyed Crimson Peak much more of these two.
How did he manage to make a movie set in an old-school carnival so boring?!? I think we just didn’t get enough of the carnival setting. Disappointingly, that’s only really at the start of the film. I LOVE a carnival/circus setting for movies & books! Freaks is very much a favorite film of mine & I’ve always found that whole lifestyle fascinating. So, when they moved away from that in this film, I really lost interest with the plot which wasn’t very compelling & certainly didn’t need to be dragged out for two & a half hours. Also, not to be rude but I’ve just never really been a fan of Bradley Cooper & he felt wrong for this role. I did think he was very good in A Star Is Born but he just felt out of place here, especially in scenes with Cate Blanchett. I think Blanchett has that true old Hollywood “star quality” so she does tend to outshine everyone in scenes with her but it was even more obvious with Cooper as he just doesn’t have that sort of “presence” at all. Which isn’t good when he’s the main character…
Also, I don’t mind this so much but the hubby complained about the amount of big name stars in this. I do agree it can throw you out of some movies, though, especially fantasies or ones that are meant to be mysterious. It just felt unnecessary to stick so many well known people in even the smaller roles here. Is that what helped it to get a Best Picture nomination? Probably! The Academy does have its favorites. Blanchett is certainly a favorite & they do seem to like del Toro. Hey – at least Nightmare Alley was maybe a little less boring than The Power Of The Dog. Maybe. It’s close.
I had more to say about this than I expected! I feel I’ve been way too harsh because, let’s face it, I’ve never made a movie & del Toro is obviously a good filmmaker. So I’ll end with some positives:
As already mentioned, this movie looks great. I also liked all the performances from the women: Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette (was sad her role was so small) & Rooney Mara. Hubby thinks I have a big girl crush on Rooney Mara. I think I kind of do but don’t know why as I don’t normally go for that tiny waif thing. She has lovely eyes but I think I’m more into Blanchett because she’s always so “sexy cool”. Yes, I liked seeing the two of them in this together briefly after they played lovers in Carol. Yes, I liked Carol and, yes, it kind of made me wonder what I see in men. And I think I just spent too long thinking about Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara so the hubby is gonna read this and think I’m in love with them. Oh, and I also learned something new about old carnivals! I can’t believe I’d never heard of a geek show since I always watch anything to do with carnivals. Anyway, here’s a brief explanation of a geek show from Wikipedia: “The billed performer’s act consisted of a single geek, who stood in center ring to chase live chickens. It ended with the performer biting the chickens’ heads off and swallowing them.” Gross. It sounds like the geeks were treated horribly so it’s a good thing the “geek shows” & the “freak shows” disappeared. It was such a different world back then. (But I did like the thing in the jar in Nightmare Alley as it reminded me of a great episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called The Jar. Loved that show as a kid!)
Here, I’ll be fairly nice with my rating as it obviously must be a good film since it’s an Oscar nominee?!?
Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Dayo Okeniyi, Andrea Bang, Brett Dier
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot follows a young woman who starts dating a charming man, only to discover his horrifying true nature.
I’m always surprised to see these 18/R rated films popping up on Disney Plus in the U.K. Well, I was happy to see this one available as there’s been a lot of hype about it on Film Twitter plus it sounded weird & I like weird.
It’s kind of weird but certainly not the most bizarre film I’ve seen. I think they’ve made it pretty obvious what the film is about but I’ll still try to stay spoiler-free. So the overall plot wasn’t a surprise but I think they did something fairly original with the idea & I liked the acting in this & how the story was presented. Also, girls have been ooohing & aaahing over Sebastian Stan for years & I wasn’t really seeing the appeal. I think I’m starting to like him now after this & after Pam & Tommy. Don’t know what that says about me?! I should point out that I didn’t like Tommy Lee as a person in that show or ever in real life. While watching it I was thinking “I actually didn’t realize this guy was such a dick!” so that’s not me going for the bad boys or something – I just think Stan came across as having a lot of fun in these two roles. I also saw some interviews with him & he seems really likeable so it’s a nice plus when celebs aren’t horrible people.
I also really liked Daisy Edgar-Jones in this. I had to look her up as I’ve not seen her in anything before. Looks like she’s mostly been in English TV. So I guess she must not actually sound American as she was raised in England with Scottish & Irish parents?! I have to say that I never notice actors putting on American accents so it must be really easy to sound American or something? But I’m rubbish with accents. Wait, she DID sound American in this, right?! Ha. I dunno. But she was good in this role & I think she has this vulnerable sort of look that worked really well for this character. You can see how she’d so easily fall for the handsome & charming Sebastian Stan character after some very bad dates with men she meets through dating services.
I didn’t love this film but I did enjoy it and I can see why the younger generation seem to be the ones going for it. It follows a twentysomething who just wants to find a nice guy but is meeting nothing but jerks through dating apps. The movie starts off showing us one of her disastrous dates with an irritating, cheap & inconsiderate asshole. She tells her friend (another good character, played by Jojo T. Gibbs) that she’s had enough of this shit (well, I don’t think she said that exact thing) but then she meets lovely Sebastian Stan in a supermarket. In real life! And she comments that she didn’t think real life meetings happened anymore & I have to say that I feel no sympathy for 20/30 somethings most of the time but do think it must be awful mainly living life online & having to date in that way. Okay – I also feel kind of sorry for them having to grow up with shitty music.
Well, this movie is hard to discuss while staying spoiler-free so I’ll just say that things get pretty crazy after our attractive main characters meet. I liked how this movie started out feeling like a sweet rom-com before turning into a dark comedy horror. I also see this was written & directed by women (I’m guessing, going by the names so correct me if I’m wrong) and I liked seeing this story from a female perspective. For example, her first disastrous date felt really relatable in that I think all women watching would agree that the guy was a total dick while some men watching might wonder what was wrong with the guy. The whole movie, I suppose, is a social commentary on dating and the relationship between men & women. Yes, I guess that’s pretty obvious but I didn’t feel it was forcing an agenda or anything like that. That would annoy me. Sometimes you just gotta enjoy a cleverly written, f*^ked up horror comedy & not overanalyze things.
My Rating: 7/10
*I could maybe be talked into giving this a 7.5. Will wait until I see more 2022 films to see how this compares.*
Here’s a two for one! And to think I was going to spend this week reviewing Oscar nominees. Screw that – I have no time for movie award shows that have no time to spend on presenting awards to everyone involved in the filmmaking process. So here are two movies definitely not nominated for any Oscars…
The Forever Purge (2021)
Directed by Everardo Gout
Starring: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Will Patton
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows a group of people who attempt to escape from the United States after an insurrectionist movement continues committing crimes and murders nationwide after the Purge’s ending.
I don’t really know what’s better of The First Purge & The Forever Purge. I just know that I barely remember The First Purge and that was quite recent so that’s pretty bad. And I think I’ll also barely remember this newest one in a few years. But I still enjoyed them & 6/10 seems a little harsh. Maybe I’ll change my mind & up them half a point (okay, I’ve just upped the rating on this one) . But the first three are far better (and had the same director, so luckily it looks like he’ll be back to directing the sixth film).
For reasons I can’t fully explain, I really like this series of movies. I always love a good concept & I think these movies have a fantastic idea that they’ve never managed to explore in-depth. You’d think we’d get something more meaningful after five films? But I think they’ve managed to evolve the story pretty well & I’m not bored with this idea and know I’ll watch film number six. In this one, a large group of people have decided that the Purge should never end & break the rules by continuing their murder spree after it finishes.
This actress was in The Hunger Games. I know that because my daughter has watched it 2 million times.
I again liked the idea for this movie just fine. If you make all crime legal for one night every year, you’re obviously going to end up with a situation like this so I think it’s a logical progression of the story. I still think they’ve left plenty of situations unexplored, though, so I’m interested to see where they go with the next film. Where they’ve focused plenty on the rich vs the poor so far and the obvious advantages that the rich would have in this situation (as they have with everything in life), this one takes on immigration. I think it worked okay but prefer when they’re a little more subtle with the social commentary. But these films have never been subtle in any way so that’s fine. I think the issue was mostly that this one really dragged in the middle & I lost interest through all of that after it had an okay start.
Well, I like these movies and I’ll keep watching them although I think they have yet to make a truly good film based on this great idea. Maybe they just take things too seriously? This time, it made me think back to The Hunt & how great I thought that was at poking fun at how fucked-up America has become. But maybe that’s just me as I’ve always loved dark humor. It’s a serious issue so maybe these films do need to stick to what they’ve been doing. Maybe they need to take it more seriously? I don’t know but I want to feel like they’ve finally done this idea justice in one of these films. Maybe film number six will be the one?!
Oh, and I’ve not watched The Purge TV series & I don’t know why since I like these movies. I think it’s because a TV series is too much of a commitment for me. Anyone watched that?
My Rating: 6.5/10
No Exit (2022)
Directed by Damien Power
Based on No Exit by Taylor Adams
Starring: Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, Dale Dickey, Mila Harris, Dennis Haysbert
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Havana Rose Liu as a recovering drug addict who discovers a kidnapping in progress while stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard.
Watched this as it’s a 2022 movie release on Disney Plus & I’m still desperate to see any 2022 films that I can via services. It’s interesting that Disney is getting some new horror/thriller releases (in the U.K.). Last year, I thought The Empty Man was pretty good & The Night House was very much my type of supernatural horror (although it could have been a bit better). No Exit is the most disappointing of the new straight-to-Disney thrillers so far but, hey, it passed the time.
**Edit to add that I’ve just watched Fresh on Disney Plus & that was pretty entertaining. The best of those I’ve mentioned.**
This film pretty much all takes place at a rest stop where these people are stranded during a blizzard & the main character (above) discovers a girl locked in a van. At the rest stop, there are four other adults who become the suspects as she doesn’t know whose van it is. So there was a bit of suspense there at first, which was fine. This is one of those movies where all the characters aren’t very likeable, though, including the main girl and even the young girl who has been kidnapped! You should like the victims at least! It also got a bit too violent for me at the end. Nothing massively gross – I think I just wasn’t in the right mood. Meh. The movie was okay. I’ll forget it in a year. Oh! And Dale Dickey was in this & I always think “the prostitute from My Name Is Earl!” whenever I see her so it’s hard to take her seriously in dramas, etc.
My Rating: 6/10 *This rating is a bit generous. I guess I’m feeling nice. I was too nice to The Forever Purge too.*
The one I don’t really remember well for some reason is The Conjuring 2, so I’ve just put 2 & 3 together because I think they were both fine but not bad like most of the Annabelle movies (although I remember liking the most recent one, which is probably an unpopular opinion). Damn – I just looked online & The Curse Of La Llorona is part of the Conjuring Universe?? Ugh. Now I’ll have to watch that too or I’ll be annoyed at missing one but it looks crap (so it will fit right in…).
Overall, these films aren’t exactly favorites of mine. The one thing I do like is the idea they had to make movies based on the real-life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s a good idea for a series of movies & they’ll be able to make them forever since the couple claim to have investigated over 10,000 cases. But I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about the real people or that I’ve looked much into the “true stories” behind any of the films. The only one I looked into a bit was the Annabelle stuff, which was kind of fascinating. Has there been a documentary about this couple? Probably. I’d maybe watch one but I mostly just like a bit of light horror entertainment & I’m sure these movies are very exaggerated.
I liked this film okay as it’s another one heavily featuring Ed & Lorraine and I prefer when they’re in the movie. I also like the whole satanic horror sub-genre most of the time so the story was fine. You can read about the real murder case in 1981, in which Arne Cheyenne Johnson claimed innocence due to demonic possession, HERE.
And… I don’t know. That’s it, really. I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It was the sort of thing I was expecting from another Conjuring film. I enjoy watching them but they’re not very memorable. They do sometimes have some good imagery or things you just know are going to be used in another film, like that ugly Marilyn Manson looking Nun or of course Annabelle, but I can’t think of anything in this one that they’d base another movie on. The Conjuring 2 was probably a bit better than this one, actually – I should rewatch that sometime. Oh, and when I added the cast list to the top of this post I was like “Why isn’t Evan Peters listed?!“. I spent the whole movie thinking he was the one possessed (the actor is Ruairi O’Connor, apparently). So I’m turning into one of those old people who mix young actors up. Pretty soon I won’t be able to name movies just like my relatives who try to talk to me about a movie they saw by saying “Oh, WHAT was the name of that movie? It stars that guy from that other movie? You know the one!“.
Starring: Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton as grieving parents who meet to discuss a tragedy involving their sons.
This is one of those 2021 movies that wasn’t released until 2022 in the U.K., so I’m counting it as a 2022 release (I refuse to go by American release dates anymore – it’s too confusing). Finally! A decent 2022 film! This has been a very disappointing year so far on streaming services. This is my ranking now:
I’m hoping to see 2022 U.K. release & Best Picture Nominee Nightmare Alley on Disney Plus before the Oscars this weekend to see where that ranks but it’s two and a half hours long so very unlikely the hubby will agree to watching that one. It doesn’t have a chance of winning anyway plus I don’t know why I’m so desperate to see all the Best Picture nominees when the Oscars piss me off more & more in recent years. I think I’m finally finished with the Oscars now if they don’t consider Best Original Score important enough to be awarded live. I’m a huge fan of movie music & know there are movies I love thanks to the score more than anything else (Mandy, Suspiria, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly for example). Imagine movies without John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Thomas Newman, etc etc etc!!!!! So screw you, Oscars!
Oops. I’ll stop ranting and talk about Mass. It’s a good film but obviously a very heavy topic. I’m not a big fan of dramas, either, so it’s always hard to know where to rank stuff like this when I’m a fan of fiction, fantasy & escapism. It’s not like I can say I “enjoyed” this movie as much as, say, A Quiet Place Part II which I watched before this one & liked a lot. And although Mass is fiction it’s a very real and sadly far too common occurrence (in America) & one I find very upsetting. Which is why for now I’ve ranked freaky horror comedy Fresh above Mass even though Mass is of course the better film & I’ve given it a higher rating. Yes, my ratings & rankings are confusing. Ha! Just thought I should try to explain that. And I’ll try to get a review done for Fresh this week…
I guess this might be a spoiler if you know nothing about Mass plus the plot synopsis doesn’t mention it but I’m going to say what it’s about (I think the plot is pretty well known). It’s about two couples who meet to talk to each other six years after a school shooting involving their two sons. They discuss what happened & who is to blame & what could have been done, etc. They meet in a church in a room that has been reserved for them & the whole movie is set there. There are no scenes or flashbacks involving the incident – it’s just these two sets of parents discussing what happened.
I’m not going to get into gun control & the mass shootings that are such a huge problem in America. All I’ll say is that I don’t understand it & it all seems completely insane to everyone living outside of the U.S. This movie thankfully doesn’t go into the main issues too much (mainly gun control vs mental health). They touch on the topics but the focus is more on how this incident has affected the two families. I also didn’t feel the movie forced an agenda, so that was good. I hate movies with an agenda, even when it’s something I totally agree with. The four actors did a good job, especially Ann Dowd and Martha Plimpton as the grieving mothers. All was also revealed by the end, which got pretty intense, and I felt sympathy for all four characters. I can’t imagine being in that situation but I think I’d find it impossible to ever forgive.
Mass is good & I’d recommend it for the performances but you need to be in the right sort of mood for a heavy drama. Too bad it’s not going to change anything in America. Sandy Hook didn’t, so nothing ever will.
Based on West Side Story by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim & Arthur Laurents
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Rachel Zegler
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.
I thought this film looked gorgeous. Steven Spielberg is a brilliant filmmaker so of course it was going to be good. Was it necessary when we already had a very good film adaptation in 1961 (which I briefly reviewed last month here)? Probably not, but I suppose it brings it to the attention of a whole new generation plus I think it fleshed out the story a tiny bit more. I still prefer the 1961 film as I like Natalie Wood & go for the more classic feel of that one, I guess. But it was never an absolute favorite of mine when it comes to movie musicals & it still wouldn’t make my top ten (but I did give it an honorable mention in this old list I need to update).
The weakest part of the film was unfortunately, for me, the two leads. Ansel Elgort had no charisma. Rachel Zegler was good but also kind of just a pretty face in a role that probably could’ve been filled by plenty of young actresses. That sounded way too negative! She was good. It was just unfortunate that there was zero chemistry whatsoever between her & Elgort. But, hey – I’d probably say all these exact same things about the 1961 film too. Made it harder to buy into this great big romance in both films.
I agree with what seems to be the general consensus that Ariana DeBose as Anita was the best thing about the film. But Rita Moreno as Anita was the best thing about the ’61 film too. Speaking of which, I also liked Moreno’s character in this version & think it worked well having her play that character. It’s fantastic that they got her into this film and, my god, she looks amazing. She’s 90! Can you believe that?! Anyway – Anita was great both times & Ariana DeBose is deserving of her Oscar nomination. I wish the lead characters had as much life in them.
Spielberg’s version of West Side Story is a very good film and I’m happy if it’s made some younger people get into musicals. But I’ll probably still stick with the 1961 film if I feel in the mood for a rewatch at any time. The songs are still the same either way (I think?! I’m no expert on this as I’ve not watched it multiple times like other musicals). But I did enjoy seeing Spielberg’s lovely vision of this.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.
I liked the first film, A Quiet Place, a lot. It made it into the top twenty of my favorite horror movies of the 21st century so far (it probably deserves to be a little higher). I thought it was a great example of the monster horror genre and very clever & original to have so much of it needing to be silent. It also had acting that seemed far too good for a horror film. Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds was especially good in the role & even better in the sequel where she gets a bigger & more important role, which I really liked.
I liked this sequel a lot too. It had a lot to live up to & horror sequels are often disappointing so I’m very glad that this one wasn’t. We start off right after the end of the first film, which was good as it’s sometimes a bit annoying when they just skip a bunch of time for a sequel. Well, I lie – we actually get a very good flashback first of when this all started and I loved that. A prequel would’ve been great as a third film but the opening scene covers that, at least in this one town, so I’d be perfectly happy with another sequel continuing on after Part II. Actually, Part III would be fine as a “fast forward” to it being five years later or so. Oh man – I really do want this to be a trilogy! Do we know anything about number 3?? All I know is that it’s got a listing on IMDb with an expected release of 2023.
I thought Cillian Murphy was a decent addition to the cast in this one and, as I already said, I really liked Millicent Simmonds having an even bigger role. She had more to do than Emily Blunt in this one but Blunt still had plenty to do too & I liked her scenes as well. It’s one of those stories where we’re following two sets of people doing different things, which I always like. Two stories for the price of one!
This was a good horror sequel. I still really like these characters & want them to destroy all the monsters. I want to see more of their story in Part III. The only thing at all negative that I could say is that, as a sequel, it no longer has that feeling of being this great “all new idea” & it didn’t really add anything that we didn’t see in the first movie other than one more small fact about the alien monster things. So I feel I have to give it half a point less than my rating for Part I (making this only half a point higher than Malignant although I liked this one much more than that. I don’t know how to rate stuff anymore!). But I’m also glad they stayed true to the first film & I wouldn’t have wanted them to stray far from what they gave us in Part I anyway. Oh! And one other thing: This movie actually felt too short. It’s 1 hour 37 minutes so not overly short but it just felt like it needed a bit more. Maybe more time in the place toward the end with Millicent Simmonds? But, hey – a movie feeling too short is better than one that feels like it drags on for far too long! I guess I was just enjoying it & wanted to see more. Can’t wait for Part III now.
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Annabelle Wallis as a woman who begins to have visions of people being murdered, only to realize the events are happening in real life.
I’d been desperate to see this movie after all the hype last year so was really happy when it popped up on one of my services over the weekend. I enjoyed it. Sadly, it wasn’t nearly as bonkers as I was hoping & expecting from all the talk about it. Have people just not seen any other horror films before this one? The story ended up being about exactly what I thought it was going to be about. But, hey – it’s what I was hoping it would be about since I have a weird fascination with that concept.
It’s very hard to talk about this movie while staying spoiler-free! But I’ll do my best to not spoil it for those who have not yet seen this. I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of James Wan’s work but, wow, it looks like I’ve seen most everything he’s written or directed so I must like his stuff okay. I thought The Conjuring was pretty good & I have to remind myself that I really liked the first Saw film before it turned into the torture porn crap I despise in the sequels. Stuff like those Insidious, Annabelle & The Nun movies, though, are a bit meh. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about Malignant & where I’d rank it compared to his other work. I guess I’d put it above those “meh” ones I mentioned. It was more entertaining & memorable than those & I appreciated its craziness.
From what I’d heard about this being “Giallo-inspired”, I was expecting much more than what we got of that. Having rewatched Suspiria (1977) recently, I realized just how much I love the style of that. I’m a sucker for amazing visuals & I love that about the Argento films. Maybe a few shots in Malignant pay tribute to that style but I wouldn’t compare the film to the small amount of Italian horror that I’ve seen. So I was disappointed to not be getting a full-on ’70s-style horror with Malignant but I appreciated it being more stylish than Wan’s other films.
I also think, with this story’s crazy concept, they didn’t get the tone quite right. The movie took itself a bit too seriously. Although, I’m sure that worked for many people and I can’t really think what they could’ve done better? They took a concept suited for cheesy body horror in the style of Re-Animator, etc, and… Hell, I don’t know. Maybe this movie did kind of work in the style they used. I’ll say this again: I’m old. I’ve seen many movies. I sometimes have to remind myself that current, younger audiences (especially mainstream audiences – movie bloggers are different) haven’t necessarily seen this type of horror story before so I guess I can see why they’d be shocked by the film’s reveal & why so many hardcore horror fans liked this movie. Being a fan of cheesy old body horror, especially Cronenberg’s older films, I guess I have come to expect a different sort of style for this type of horror. I’d say I like my horror to either be very serious, creepy & atmospheric or else I like them to be completely outrageous & silly (I love horror comedies). Malignant is somewhere in the middle of those. I think it maybe could’ve just used some more dark humor but, while writing this paragraph, I’ve talked myself into liking that this isn’t a cheesy old-school body horror. That’s not what a mainstream modern audience are going to go for, either.
Ugh. This is why I mostly stick to my monthly roundup posts with brief reviews in recent years. I ramble on too damn much when I do a review on its own! I’ve blathered on for ages & I’m still not sure how I feel about Malignant. I wanted to love it as it looked SO like my type of thing & I thought it had a fantastic poster. I love a good movie poster! I guess it didn’t quite live up to my really high expectations & I’m trying to convince myself that I liked it by blathering on about it for ages. You know what? I did still like it.
Here’s what I liked:
1. This type of story is right up my alley (hmm – that sounds dirty). I was happy it was what I expected but it also would’ve been nice to be surprised.
2. The characters were quite good for a horror film! The sister & that one detective dude were especially likeable. And I’d say I kind of gave a shit about poor Annabelle Wallis’s main character too. It’s always more enjoyable to me to not have the hateful characters we get in too many horror films.
3. How do I say this & stay spoiler-free?!?! Hmm. I really liked the backwards thing. This story is NOT original but it found a way to differentiate itself a bit from other movies & TV shows that had this same story. And the backwards thing was pretty cool & a lot of fun. This movie got much better after the reveal. I think it needed to be batshit crazy much earlier in the film.
Okay – I’ve talked myself into liking this one. Or at least appreciating it more. I didn’t love it like I’d been hoping but it was certainly entertaining. It could’ve been better but at least it’s more memorable than Wan’s Insidious/Annabelle/Nun things. Let’s hope they don’t try to milk it by making a shitty sequel as this is good as a stand-alone film.
Based on Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy & Frederik Peeters
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, Embeth Davidtz, Emun Elliott
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot follows a group of people who find themselves aging rapidly on a secluded beach.
First of all, here’s my ranking of the M. Night Shyamalan movies I’ve seen:
11. Lady In The Water
10. The Happening
9. The Visit
2. The Village
1. The Sixth Sense
1-4 are the best by far. 5-9 are all okay & I like them all about the same so don’t take the order of those too seriously because I moved them all around several times. I didn’t like 10 & 11 (although The Happening was kind of weirdly enjoyable).
You either like M. Night Shyamalan or you don’t & I can totally understand those who don’t. I’m a fan because I love a weird story & always love a twist. I don’t agree with people who badmouth him, though, because I like that he’s a filmmaker who continues to give us original stories in between all the sequels, reboots, remakes & superheroes. I want more original content! So I’ll always applaud him for that. Thank you, M. Night Shyamalan!
I think the issue is probably that he’s a better writer than director. Or more like, he can come up with a really good story idea but doesn’t always manage to get it to work fully on screen. But his type of stories are difficult to translate to film so some come across as too silly. I just think by now that you know exactly what you’re gonna get from him, so why would you watch Old if you don’t like his work? It was exactly what I was expecting from him & I liked it just fine despite some really horrible reviews. Is this the first Shyamalan movie those people have ever watched? We know by now that nothing else has lived up to The Sixth Sense (which I still think is fantastic).
I found it interesting to see that Old was based on a graphic novel called Sandcastle. Think it’s the only one of his I’ve seen that’s based on existing material instead of being his own idea? I can see why he went for it as it’s exactly the type of story he writes, so it still worked well in feeling like all his other movies. I liked the story! It was again a good concept and, yes, an unbelievable one. Don’t watch his movies if you can’t suspend disbelief! I’m not someone who goes looking for plot holes, etc etc, since I like so much sci-fi & fantasy & weird shit. It’s nice when everything does make sense & things tie up nicely but I mostly just want to be entertained. Old is far from perfect as a film but I liked seeing these people aging rapidly on this mysterious island and, as always with his films, I was looking forward to the big reveal to explain what the hell was going on. As far as the big reveal, which I of course won’t reveal myself, it was fine. It didn’t blow me away like some of his crazy twists & some clues were there throughout the story but I thought it was still a good ending.
Well, I think I’ve talked about this one for long enough. If you’re not a fan of Shyamalan, I’m not going to somehow convince you to watch this anyway. And it’s not one of his best so not the one I’d recommend to someone new to his movies. I think his characters are often underdeveloped and/or unlikeable & Old is one that suffers from this a bit. So I’d maybe have ranked it higher if the characters had been a bit better. And I suppose it’s one that crosses over into being a little too cheesy at times, which is easy to do with his type of story. But I still liked it & I’ll still continue to watch his movies and be entertained by his ideas.
At least Turning Red was slightly better than Luca, I guess?
I adore Pixar. For many years, they could do no wrong. I still can’t exactly say anything too bad since, come on – those top five films I’ve listed are amazing. Damn near masterpieces & better than most non-animated films from recent years. So they were going to have some not so great ones eventually. It’s just too bad that 3 out of the last 4 releases were duds (in my opinion). And the other one was just meh. And the two before those were okay but just sequels yet again. I guess the best most current AND original film they did was Coco, although it’s not a personal favorite. Last one I loved was Inside Out in 2015 (also a coming of age film like Turning Red but a far better example of that genre). So I’m ready for another new Pixar masterpiece to blow me away! I wonder if we’ll ever get another one like that.
Anyway. Turning Red. Hmm. I see there’s controversy online as some dude said he couldn’t relate to this movie or something like that. Or that it didn’t represent him? I don’t know. I didn’t read what he wrote so can’t comment beyond saying that I, as a female, couldn’t fully relate to it either so I hope I’m okay to say that (but that was mostly due to the awful character of the mother in this, which I’ll get to later). I’d say that this movie is much more aimed at girls so I wouldn’t expect most adult males to “relate” to it fully anyway. But they should still be able to appreciate art not aimed directly at them, especially if they’re film critics? With every movie, I like seeing different perspectives and stories and like loads of films where I don’t see myself represented on screen at all so it was kind of a stupid statement. I mean, come on – my favorite coming of age film happens to have no girls in it! And my favorite Pixar movie is about a lonely little post-apocalyptic robot. I love it despite not being a robot. Although things do feel a little post-apocalyptic these days…
I think the issue with Turning Red is that it’s just not that great. At least, it’s not up to all of our probably far too high Pixar standards. To be fair, it’s as good as anything put out by the likes of most other animation studios, such as DreamWorks. It’s not an awful film but, with that Pixar label, it unfortunately has a lot to live up to. I just feel like no one is allowed to say a movie isn’t all that great now. I’m very happy that Domee Shi got to make this film as I of course want to see more women getting equal opportunities in filmmaking. Also, I’m a very big fan of her short Bao. It probably helps that my daughter was completely obsessed with Bao for quite a while, so I’ve seen it many times. I think it’s a fantastic (and bold) short & I could really relate to the whole overprotective mother thing in it. So I was really looking forward to seeing what she’d do with a full-length film.
I think what I found most disappointing in this film was the mother, especially after finding I could relate to the mother in Bao. Believe me, I think I have many flaws as a parent but this character made me look amazing. It may have been a very long time ago but I remember my early teens like yesterday & just how easily you could end up devastatingly embarrassed by some minor thing and oh my god just want to DIE from the embarrassment. Don’t embarrass a teen girl! It’s traumatic. They’ll remember it for life. So, honestly, I don’t think any mother in her right mind would show up at her daughter’s co-ed school waving sanitary products around (sorry, small spoiler!). Good Lord – I could almost die of embarrassment just imagining that happening to me at 13. Ugh! So with that & one other incident with the mother, I found her far too over-the-top. Does anyone have a mother like that?? Maybe. Maybe I was just lucky to have a good relationship with my mom so that’s why I didn’t relate to that relationship in this film.
I feel like I’m going to end up rambling too much as I’m still trying to sort my thoughts out on this film. I think I’m wanting to talk myself into liking it more than I did. There were some things I liked. The main girl was fairly likeable. I think it’s unfortunately too easy to make girls of this age too annoying in movies, which isn’t really fair or realistic. She had a lot of emotions in this without being overly obnoxious. I also liked her group of nerdy, quirky friends. It’s always good to see a nice group of female friends in movies as I wanted that SO bad at that age (my girl friends at that age were back-stabbing bitches so I didn’t luck out in that department). Also, I liked the red panda. Who doesn’t like a red panda?? So those scenes were fun. Oh, and the animation was good. As to be expected with Pixar.
I think the point of the story was just too muddled. The girls in this family turn into red pandas when they come of age & get too emotional? Why didn’t the mother prepare her daughter for that? Oh! I just realised she’s almost as bad as Carrie White’s mother in Carrie! Well, look how THAT ended up. This movie needed some telekinetic carnage! You should prepare your daughters for the trauma of puberty. I won’t go too into the plot & how this ends but I just found it messy & didn’t fully see the point it was trying to make. To just accept what you can’t control? To be yourself? Embrace your period, maybe! Speaking of which, I suppose I should add this film to My Top Ten Period Dramas (yes, that kind of period and, yes, Carrie is number one on the list). And this is a small complaint but the obsession with the boy band was boring but, hey, I admit that I’ve never liked boy bands & can’t relate to girls who get all weird over them & their boring songs. I suppose some girls can relate to that, though. Most of all, I’ll say this: I’m old. No, this isn’t aimed at my age. But neither was Inside Out & I loved it & thought it was brilliant. My daughter, though, is the exact age of the girl in Turning Red & she really disliked the movie (maybe it’s because she hates boy bands too?!). 😉 But she adores Inside Out. And Bao. The person who liked this movie the most in our family was actually my hubby. So much for that one dude’s opinion that got trashed on Twitter! So I guess this movie just doesn’t work for some people & it has nothing to do with being “represented”. (FYI: Hubby even said this was much better than Encanto to which my daughter & I said NO WAY).
But I always say I prefer a divisive film to a boring one, so Turning Red fits that category and I do appreciate Domee Shi letting the story go pretty crazy at the end. Maybe I can talk myself into liking this but I have no desire to rewatch it again anytime soon.
Starring: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Michelle Forbes, Rory Culkin, Parker Posey
Cinematography by Elisha Christian
Music by Hammock
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows the son of a renowned architecture scholar (John Cho) who gets stranded in Columbus, Indiana and strikes up a friendship with a young architecture enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) who works at the local library.
This popped up on Amazon Prime U.K. & I’d never really heard anything about it. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try! I thought it was a beautiful film. I’d have to say it’s probably even my favorite film I’ve seen (for the first time) so far in 2022. And I watched it just after finally seeing Spielberg’s West Side Story. Both are lovely films to look at but this one moved me more.
This is one of those films that people will either love or will find extremely boring. So I’m not recommending this to everyone (Film Miasma – you’ll probably want to avoid this one). 🙂 It’s about a very bright & promising girl (Haley Lu Richardson) with a deep love of architecture who stays in her town of Columbus, Indiana to take care of her mother instead of going to college & pursuing her dreams. She then meets John Cho’s character, who is the son of a famous architect who was due to give a lecture in the town. He doesn’t share his father’s love of architecture but sees how much it means to Richardson’s character and, like everyone else in her life, thinks she needs to move on with her life & make something of all her potential.
I have to say that I have pretty much no interest in architecture whatsoever. Well, that’s maybe not entirely true as I do find the design of some buildings very interesting (and think a lot are ugly, like cities with too many skyscrapers). But I have no knowledge whatsoever about architecture. I do know that Frank Lloyd Wright was from my home state not far from where I grew up & he’s really famous, right? For me, this is one of those films that really conveys someone’s love for something & has you understanding how they feel and, hell, I think I fell in love with architecture a little bit too by the end of the movie. I think her character also gets Cho’s character starting to understand his father a bit better despite not having a great history with him.
I think both Cho & Richardson were very good in this film but Richardson especially shines. I know she’s done plenty of other movies but, based on this role, I’m surprised she hasn’t become bigger in the more “Oscar-friendly” type of roles. Speaking of which, this feels exactly like the type of thing that the Academy normally goes for so I don’t understand how it got no nominations that year? At least for cinematography & directing if nothing else? Really?! Was it just too indie? Maybe I just know nothing about anything and I admit to knowing nothing about filmmaking but this has a real Nomadland (as in, that sort of Oscar nominee) vibe. But I liked this one far more than that one. It looks like it did get plenty of Independent Spirit Award nominations, so that’s good, and lots of others for awards I’ve never heard of (9 wins & 32 nominations). Oh, and Indie Queen Parker Posey is also in this & I liked her character too.
I wanted to do this review as a separate post since there are so many lovely images from this movie that I wanted to include. As far as its look, it reminded me of the beginning of the movie Swallow (although that’s a very different film). Something about the lighting or cinematography or something. I don’t know but that had a lovely house in it with lots of windows & natural light & I just really liked the look of both movies. Also, I didn’t give the music much thought while watching this but later realised the score was quite peaceful & I think helped give this movie, along with the cinematography, a calm sort of vibe that I appreciated. So I looked up who did the score & it was done by Hammock. Here they are on Wikipedia – they’ve done a lot of “Ambient, post-rock, shoegazing” music. Shoegazing?! I’d not heard of that genre before. I had to look it up! Here you go (from Wikipedia again).
Well, I liked this movie a lot but would totally understand if someone didn’t like it. It’s definitely not for everyone but I thought it was a lovely looking film with well written & likeable characters who all worked really well together. Happy I checked it out & am not sure why I’d heard nothing about it at the time.
Two quick reviews of two weird movies before I post my January Roundup post…
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan
Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Some Creepy Kid
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.
Wow, this was pretty fucking weird. So, since I love weird, I really enjoyed it. And, like most weird movies, I’d be very hesitant to actually recommend it to anyone as they’d hate it & probably think I was a weirdo. Which I am but, you know, I try to hide that in real life…
Here I am watching an Imogen Poots movie again. Why do I seem to watch all her movies?? *Poots!* Jesse Eisenberg is in this too. Man I hate him but, whatever – I don’t care too much who is in a movie anyway as I care more about the story & the overall movie itself so I guess he was tolerable. I really liked this story and the look of all the identical houses in this eerie neighborhood that the couple find themselves trapped in & unable to escape after a creepy “real estate agent dude” brings them there to show them a house.
It’s a bizarre film and I suppose part of the reason I liked it was that it had a Twilight Zone vibe & that (original series) TV show will forever be my absolute favorite. Adore it. This movie reminds me of one very specific Twilight Zone episode where a couple wake up in an empty town (Stopover In A Quiet Town is the episode if you’re curious. A classic!). So I loved the feel of this film. It was bonkers & unsettling & the kid in it gave me the absolute creeps. And I’m still not 100% sure what the hell was going on or what the point of the whole thing was but it was certainly one of the more entertaining stories I’ve seen in a while. I guess it was about being stuck in suburbia & doing exactly what society expects of you.
If you love The Twilight Zone or maybe a bit of Black Mirror or if you just like your films to be weird & unpredictable because like me you watch too many movies & get bored seeing the same old shit, it might be worth checking this one out (I saw it on Film4). You might hate it. You might love it. You probably won’t forget it. And the kid might haunt your nightmares.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Dave Made A Maze (2017)
Directed by Bill Watterson
Starring: Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Kirsten Vangsness, Stephanie Allynne, James Urbaniak, Scott Krinsky, Adam Busch, John Hennigan
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film centers on the titular Dave who builds a cardboard fort that somehow supernaturally houses an entire labyrinth full of deadly traps and creatures.
Another weird film that I also, of course, enjoyed. I’m a creep! I’m a weeeeeiiiiiiirdooooooo! Amazon Prime had been pushing this on me for a while & I suddenly decided to give it a try one day when I noticed it was only 80 minutes (I’m not one of these “I can’t watch long movies!” people – I just don’t have much spare time). Again, like Vivarium, I loved the concept. This artist dude builds a maze of cardboard boxes & gets lost and trapped inside it as it grows & takes on a life of its own. His girlfriend enlists the help of some of their friends to go in after him but they of course end up trapped too.
It’s a fun film and a mix of genres (fantasy, adventure, comedy & horror according to Wikipedia). The characters are pretty likeable & the “horror” is only comedy horror with some funny cartoonish blood. Where Vivarium made me think of a good Twilight Zone episode, the synopsis of this one made me think of an absolutely fantastic short story called Voluntary Committal by Joe Hill in his collection 20th Century Ghosts (which I highly recommend if you like good short stories). They’re very different stories overall but I like the concept of a spooky maze made out of boxes, I guess. Anyway – this is a fun film & the plot is unique so check it out on Amazon Prime if you want a short film with a quirky sense of humor.
Hi All! I’ve not been around as am having a difficult year. But I miss blogging & have still been watching & logging some movies. I do have a post ready to go with what I watched in January but I rewatched Suspiria recently & felt like doing a quick mini-review.
Okay – WHY are there no cool landscape posters for this film?! So I had to use that squished image above so this post doesn’t look crap in the preview & on Twitter. I like that image, though, and it’s the main one I always see for this movie so here’s the big version:
Based on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey
Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Eva Axén, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett
Music by Goblin & Dario Argento
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Jessica Harper as an American ballet student who transfers to a prestigious dance academy in Germany but realizes, after a series of brutal murders, that the academy is a front for a supernatural conspiracy.
I watched this once years ago but hadn’t seen it since. Then in the past few years I’ve tried to delve into the Giallo horror thing a bit & liked Argento’s Deep Red a lot, calling it the more “accessible” film compared to Suspiria. I’ve watched several other Argento films since as well, including the kooky Phenomena, but none of them have compared to Suspiria or Deep Red. I figured it was time to refresh my memory of this film & see how I really feel about it as I know its Goblin score FAR better than the film itself (god I love that bloody brilliant, loud & distracting score!!!).
I have to say that, on a rewatch, I think I may now absolutely love Suspiria. I still think it’s a mess story-wise, as most of Argento’s films (making Deep Red the most coherent in comparison). But I don’t really care about the story when it comes to films like these as I’m such a sucker for atmospheric films with stunning visuals & fantastic scores and this is one of the all-time greats in those regards. It’s gorgeous! I’m thinking of posting this mini-review separately just so I can add loads of images from the movie to the post (Okay – I’ve obviously decided to do that instead of just putting this in my monthly roundup post). Here are some more images:
And I’m still in love with the score. It was really hard to be sneaky & try to watch this one late at night when the Goblin music started BLARING in between the dialogue you can barely hear at all. Love it – it really adds to the film’s unsettling feel. I just love the overall vibe of horror movies from the ’70s. So few horror movies have style these days & even fewer are able to capture that eerie aura of classic horror. Am really happy I decided to rewatch this one as it’s definitely gone up in my estimation. Yay! Maybe I DO like Italian horror! Well, two of them anyway…
Another quick trio of reviews of 2021 releases before I do my December roundup post. Liked these a lot more than the three I reviewed earlier today. Two of these are also probably going to make my 2021 Top Ten list I’ll try to post later this week. I keep moving stuff around on that list a lot… We’ll see!
Don’t Look Up (2021)
Directed by Adam McKay
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization.
Watched this yesterday (but I’m logging it as a 2021 watch!). Really glad I finished out the year with this one as I’ve found the 2021 releases on services to be very disappointing but I enjoyed this one a lot. Between this and The Lost Daughter, which I watched on the 31st, I’m happy to have two more movies probably making it into my 2021 Top Ten list.
Wasn’t sure what I’d think of this as I’ve not been big on any of Adam McKay’s other films but, for me, this is easily his best. I thought it would be extremely political & too far-left in that typical Hollywood way as, according to Wikipedia, “The comet is an analogy for climate change and the film is a satire of government and media indifference to the climate crisis.” There’s nothing I hate more than an overly preachy movie! But it didn’t feel preachy to me & I got some good laughs out of the comedy in this. I thought the satire was pretty clever and, although they say it’s about how how shit the governments & media are, I thought it also perfectly displayed what a bunch of fucking morons the entire human race has become. I always enjoy “humans suck” satire (also a fan of Idiocracy, although I wish that film was better). It was scary how accurate this film was on how the general population would react if told we’re all going to die when a comet hits Earth. There would be as many comet-deniers as there are Covid-deniers. I would have thought this film was exaggerating things just five years ago or so (but I also wrongly thought Idiocracy was exaggerated at the time). People being more bothered about a celebrity breakup than our impending doom is SO FUCKING ACCURATE.
I also really enjoyed all the performances in this. Movies with huge star ensembles like this don’t always work for me as I sometimes find so many big names to be distracting & can take away from the story but I thought everyone was perfectly cast in this. Leonardo DiCaprio was good, of course, but I liked that it felt like quite a different role for him. And I loved that his wife was, like, the same age as him! Also really liked Jennifer Lawrence’s character and loved how she became just another meme for media-obsessed society. Also loved her obsession with the free snacks… Meryl Streep was pretty damn hilarious as a hateful self-absorbed president & I thought Jonah Hill was funny (although I can see that one role being the most divisive). And Mark Rylance was fantastic as a typical billionaire genius/idiot. I can’t call if this movie will have any acting Oscar nominations or if it’ll be completely ignored as comedy often is by the Academy. Or if they’ll only nominate Streep as usual. I think it deserves recognition, though, and I enjoyed it far more than his Oscar-nominated The Big Short.
I’ve avoided reviews & discussion of this movie but get the impression that people are pretty divided? Not sure why as I thought it was easily one of the better films I’ve managed to see this year. Maybe the truth hurts?
My Rating: 7.5/10
The Lost Daughter (2021)
Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal
Based on The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
Starring: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Domińczyk, Jack Farthing, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.
I also liked this film a lot. I’d maybe say it’s actually better than Don’t Look Up but is obviously a much more serious film & I had more “fun” watching Don’t Look Up.
The acting is great in this, especially from Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley. I’m not an Olivia Colman fan (I’m actually enjoying The Crown far less since it changed to her from Claire Foy) but have to admit she’s very good in this. And that horrible family who came to the beach gave me the absolute creeps! Absolutely cannot stand pushy, entitled people like that and there are far too many of them in this world. Why the fuck should Olivia Colman move from her spot on the beach, huh?!? Anyway – I guess the family were very good as they were menacing as hell just in the way they would look at Colman’s character. But I never really understood their problem with her. Was it only because she wouldn’t move on the beach or did I miss something else while trying to sneakily watch this in between doing stuff with the family on one of my last days off of work?? Dakota Johnson was also good as part of that horrible family (by marriage, I think – was never quite sure how they were all related) & the one who Colman connects with as her young daughter brings up painful memories from Colman’s past. Johnson is maybe growing on me – I couldn’t understand what people saw in her at first.
I think this movie does a fantastic job of portraying the fact that, for some women, there’s much more to them than “just being a mother” and that being a mother (and wife) can be very difficult. I think movies often portray motherhood as being beautiful & perfect. I’m not saying I could personally connect with Colman’s & Buckley’s character’s experience but I think it will probably speak to a lot of women. And I thought the building tension in this was done really well. I kept feeling more & more uneasy throughout this film as I didn’t know a thing about the story & didn’t know what would happen.
Hated this bitch so much!
I think Gyllenhaal has done a great job with this movie. I can’t say whether it’s a good adaptation as I’ve not read the book but I’d now be interested in possibly reading it to know even more about the characters’ motivations. Maybe I’ll read it. I don’t often read a book after seeing the movie but I’d like to know a bit more after seeing this one. It’s a very good film.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Directed by Michael Sarnoski
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows a truffle forager whose beloved truffle-finding pig is stolen.
Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Can’t afford this hobby anymore so I think the only movies I spent on in 2021 outside of streaming services were this &Willy’s Wonderland. You’d think I was a Nicolas Cage fan or something! I’m actually really not, although he’s grown on me in recent years thanks to his interesting film choices. Those choices are often bad & I’ve not watched those that had terrible reviews but things like Mandy & Color Out Of Space are right up my alley & this one sounded like it could be too.
It’s an interesting film & I do agree that Cage was good in it. As much as I enjoy Crazy Cage, I liked seeing him so restrained in this one. I think he and the movie portray loneliness & grief well. Was honestly expecting some John Wick type of revenge rampage so was surprised at there being very little violence in this. Although a John Wick rampage would’ve been fun too but we’ve had enough of that sort of thing from Cage so this was a nice change.
Pig is a movie I’m glad I managed to see before the end of the year but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me as I can’t see myself watching it again. But I can understand why many seemed to like it as they could probably identify with Cage’s character. I can also see why plenty of other people wouldn’t go for this movie at all & would probably call it boring as it’s very slow & far less happens than I was expecting. It’s certainly a “Film Twitter person” type of movie that I wouldn’t go around recommending to people I work with or something. You’ll love it or possibly hate it. Or just be a bit “That was okay” like me. The pig was very cute!
Squeezing out a few more reviews of 2021 releases before I post my December roundup & then will try to post my 2021 Top Ten lists. None of these are making it into my Top Ten Movies of the year…
The Unforgivable (2021)
Directed by Nora Fingscheidt
Based on Unforgiven by Sally Wainwright
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Richard Thomas, Linda Emond, Aisling Franciosi, Rob Morgan, Viola Davis
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A woman is released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime and re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past.
I was clearly trying to squeeze in some final 2021 releases on streaming services in December or else I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this one so quickly (if at all). It was okay, though. And, yes, I enjoyed it much more than the next two I’m reviewing.
Bullock’s character has just come out of prison after serving many years for killing a cop when they came to take her much younger sister away from her. I believe it was because their parents had died and Bullock wanted to be left alone to raise her sister (massive age difference – the sister was five & Bullock looked well into her twenties in the flashbacks so I don’t know why she couldn’t raise her?!). Anyway, it took a while to get into this one & Bullock’s character was pretty unsympathetic to begin with.
With movies, I’ll sometimes rate & rank them when I’m still in the middle of watching them as I don’t want to forget to log them. This is one time where I had to move it up the list & up the rating slightly once it got to the end. I really liked the end of this one, including something I should’ve seen coming. Also, the film used a fantastic piano version of Radiohead’s Everything In Its Right Place toward the end & I thought it set the mood perfectly. So the film was a bit slow overall & certainly wasn’t perfect but from that bit on it got much better & really did redeem itself at the end.
My Rating: 6.5/10
The Last Duel (2021)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Based on The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager
Starring: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Set in medieval France, the film stars Damon as Jean de Carrouges, a knight who challenges his former friend, squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a judicial duel after Jean’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), accuses Jacques of raping her. The events leading up to the duel are divided into three distinct chapters, reflecting the contradictory perspectives of the three main characters.
WTF? Okay… I don’t know if I’m just super picky now or if I’m just finding it hard to enjoy films lately as life has been shitty but I feel like everysingle newly released movie (at least one perceived to be “worthy” due to its director or stars or its agenda) gets absolutely raved over by Film Twitter & I find myself agreeing with them less & less the past couple of years.
This movie was okay? I do love a few of Ridley Scott’s films (I ranked them here recently) but this certainly wouldn’t make my top ten list of his work. Once I got past the annoying haircuts (yeah, yeah – I know that’s not important) I thought I’d start caring about the story or the characters but I can’t say that I did. I thought the men were rubbish (acting-wise as well as the characters being super hateful). Jodie Comer was fine & I obviously was on her side through the whole thing & wish she could’ve just gone on a Kill Bill bloody rampage with those pricks but obviously that couldn’t happen back then since, you know, women were treated like nothing more than another piece of property in olden times (not that we’re treated much better now). I didn’t exactly think it was some “ohmygodOscarWORTHY!!!” performance or something, though. Are my standards too high or are everyone else’s too low?! The movie was okay. Yes, once it FINALLY got to the duel it got somewhat exciting. And, yes, I always like seeing multiple versions of the same story but this isn’t exactly up there with Rashomon, is it? I was stupidly looking at the IMDb Top 250 recently & it depresses me. All the older films are being replaced by everything new & current. Are people just going to completely stop watching movies that are more than ten years old?
Okay. I’ll stop bitching now. This movie was fine but Scott has far better films. And I really wish I could just watch all of Akira Kurosawa’s films instead of wasting my time on mediocre current releases.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.
Another one sort of raved over on Film Twitter but this one bored the shit out of me. Sorry! Just… Ugh. I don’t know. I do appreciate some very worthy films but I also want to be entertained sometimes if possible. I’ll give it this: I think the acting was slightly better than in The Last Duel. No distracting haircuts, at least! Also……. I did really like the end! Yay! Once I actually realised what had happened and that there was a plan all along, I guess, and I was like “Ohhh… Nice one!”. The ending almost made me rank this just above The Last Duel but the rest of this film was so bloody boring that I guess I’ll keep this one below the mullet duel.
Directed by Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine & Octavio E. Rodriguez (co-director)
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Olivia Colman
Music by Henry Jackman
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The story of Barney, an awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device. Ron’s malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age launch them on a journey to learn about true friendship.
Was surprised to see this pop up on Disney Plus so soon after it was in cinemas but was very happy to be able to see it since there’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character (well, Grogu is giving him a run for his money). So this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.
I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. It’s one of those where I don’t know where to rank it on my year end list I’ll post next week. If I’m honest, I enjoyed it more than Encanto (which I reviewed HERE yesterday) but Encanto is certainly the better film. It doesn’t have a robot in it, though! Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. It was the same with Big Hero 6, although that’s obviously a much stronger film with better characters than this one. But Baymax was what made it so fantastic.
I also really liked the message in this film. As with most animated kids’ films, there’s of course a message (or two) but it’s done subtly & works within the movie. Mainly it’s about friendship but they touch on the evils of social media a bit too. I realise I’m typing this post on a blog, which will auto-tweet to Twitter, but I’m old so I remember the days before all this & I think most of us were much happier then. The movie isn’t at all preachy about any of this, though, which is a big pet peeve of mine. I also thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending.
Oh – Ron also sang a funny song with the grandma which the daughter & I went around singing for the next week whereas I can’t currently remember any songs from Encanto even though we only just watched it a couple of nights ago. It was really cute & I wish Encanto had a similar moment as I really do want to like that one a bit more. Maybe it will grow on me but I know that Ron is already one of the better characters from all the movies I’ve seen in 2021.
Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitán, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama
Music by Germaine Franco
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.
I’ve been putting together my 2021 Top Ten Movies list & it’s been an extremely disappointing year. Okay – to be fair, I’ve not yet seen all the stuff that’s only had cinema releases so far. Hooray for Disney Plus, at least! Easily the streaming service I used the most this year, especially for the Marvel series stuff (I’m not even a big Marvel fan but those were good). So I’m glad I squeezed in two more movies this past week that are making my 2021 Top Ten List (this & Ron’s Gone Wrong).
Enjoyed this one although, in all honesty, it’s not exactly up there with Disney’s all-time best. I don’t know if it’s partly hurt by seeing these Disney films at home now & making them feel like the “straight-to-video” stuff from my younger years. I don’t think so, though – plenty of my all-time favorites are ones I never saw in the cinema. And I didn’t mean to imply that Encanto felt “straight-to-video” as it’s much better than that. So ignore my rambling! Maybe it’s what my hubby moaned about after seeing it (the 3D animation or whatever). I do definitely prefer the more timeless classic animation of older Disney movies. Okay, yeah, maybe it’s that! Just trying to figure out why a lot of Disney movies from recent years aren’t fully connecting with me. Oh well – they’re still much better than that dodgy late ’90s/early 2000s New Groove Hercules Hunchback era.
Should I shut up & talk about Encanto?! What I liked: the main girl (Mirabel) was likeable (and I liked her dress and, as a glasses wearer, her funky glasses), the different magical powers each family member had were fun, I liked the cute little cousin who was due to get his own power & the cousin who could hear everything, and the overall message about the importance of family was good. The weakest thing? Unfortunately, that was maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs. A couple of them were “fun” but not very memorable & certainly none that would end up all-time classics unlike his brilliant How Far I’ll Go from Moana. And, okay, I suppose the animation style wasn’t my favorite but it was still a lovely looking film. Also, I think the message was a bit muddled. Be supportive of family? Be true to yourself? You don’t have to be perfect? Which are all good things so not really an issue – I just wasn’t sure what the main point was.
I really enjoyed this but it’s one where I can’t currently tell if it’ll go up or down in my estimation. Moana grew on me a lot & I’ve happily seen it several times now as it’s a favorite of my daughter’s. Soul is one I thought looked lovely but I’ve never once thought about sticking it on for a rewatch. And I know I have zero interest in rewatching Luca. I think rewatchability is important with Disney & Pixar and I don’t know yet if Encanto is a multiple-watcher. I’d say it is more so than a couple I’ve mentioned. I’m also still trying to decide if I’d rank it just above or below Raya And The Last Dragon. I think Raya is more “me” and I preferred it feeling like a more traditional (sort of Princess) Disney movie plus I preferred its style & loved Tuk Tuk. But I think Encanto was maybe the slightly better film. Dunno. They’re close. I’ll have to decide before I post my Top Ten next week!
What a wishy-washy review. I think my point is this: I really enjoyed Encanto although it hasn’t instantly grabbed me like a lot of other Disney & Pixar films have but maybe it would grow on me after a rewatch.
Two quickie reviews today before I get my monthly roundup post ready for sometime next week. Two very different films, obviously, but I enjoyed them both.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Based on Marvel Comics
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Tony Leung
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) In the film, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his past when his father Wenwu (Leung), the leader of the Ten Rings organization, draws Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing (Zhang) into a search for a mythical village.
I reviewed Black Widow last month & said again that I have superhero burnout with all these MCU films. Black Widow wasn’t horrible but it certainly wasn’t great. I’ve watched all the MCU movies as they’re fun but I’m certainly not some huge fan of them. It’s probably why I usually prefer the ones that aren’t quite as formulaic. That may be obvious as Guardians Of The Galaxy is easily my favorite of the MCU films, which I ranked HERE. I’ve just added Shang-Chi to that list. It’s in the middle. I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting and more than Black Widow. Again, I liked that this one at least felt a little different from the majority of the MCU stuff.
Gotta say I’m surprised they keep putting Awkwafina in movies as I can certainly understand why some people can’t stand her. Doesn’t bother me, though, as I like her (also liked her in Raya And The Last Dragon, which I thought was pretty good). But it’s a shame that she probably put some people off this film a bit. Her friendship with Shang-Chi was fun & Simu Liu was really good in the role. We also got some great female characters with Shang-Chi’s kick-ass sister & super cool mother and aunt. His aunt was played by the brilliant Michelle Yeoh who was great as always. Tony Leung Chiu-wai played Shang-Chi’s heartbroken & complicated father and I really liked that role as well as the role of the aunt & the mother.
Everyone was good in this but the adults, especially Tony Leung Chiu-wai & Michelle Yeoh, were the best. But, hey, they’re already big stars for a reason as they have a great presence. Oh my god – did I just call them the “adults”?! Ha! How old do I sound?!?! Shang-Chi must be about 30? Okay – he’s the son in this so I just meant the parents & the aunt were all super cool. Oh – and I highly recommend Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s Infernal Affairs, which was remade as The Departed. Fantastic film.
For some reason, I couldn’t find great pictures from this movie. Sorry for not including images of the characters I just raved about! Too late to add now, as I need my post’s tweet to be what I’ve already added as my last image since I finally figured out that it tweets that last one you uploaded. Only took me almost 9 years to figure that out! Well, here’s Shang-Chi again. Who is an adult too…
This one did start out quite slow but really picked up for me later in the film when Shang-Chi returns home and we get to see all the cool mystical & mythical shit. I loved the hidden village and all the creatures but, again, that will be because I get bored with the MCU stuff and the end of this felt very different to those films. But it’s also what will have made people like or hate this one, I guess, and I could understand why some MCU fans maybe wouldn’t love the end of this one. Did they? I honestly don’t have a clue as I avoided all reviews as I knew I wouldn’t be seeing this one until after everyone else did. I also liked the story itself, which I can’t say of every Marvel film, and again thought the father was one of the better “complex” characters and enjoyed the story of him & his wife. So I liked this more than plenty of the MCU films but I do admittedly have very different taste from the diehard Marvel fans. Contemplating upping my rating but will leave it as is for now…
My Rating: 7/10
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of an affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.
Was very happy to see this on BBC iPlayer as everyone absolutely raved about it when it came out. It’s a good film. I’m not, like, “OhmygodthisisthebestmovieEVER!!!!!” but the characters are strong & I was interested in what would happen with their relationship. It was just really unfortunate that Noémie Merlant kind of looks like Emma Watson in the face. So I kept picturing Watson making her weird annoying faces while attempting to act (Merlant can act, though). I especially liked Adèle Haenel’s character (I dunno – I always go for the blondes) and they had really good chemistry together.
Nice to see people actually following Covid guidelines…
I liked the extra story with the maid girl or whatever she was. I liked the green dress in the top photo. Kind of reminds me of my high school prom dress! Ha! The color, anyway, but mine had black lace. And I liked when those weird women started beatboxing & then the “on fire” incident happened, which was a great scene. And the book in the painting plus the ending were lovely & bittersweet.
Overall, I liked the characters & the romance and preferred watching women on an island not being psychotic assholes, unlike those idiots in The Lighthouse. Glad I finally managed to see this one.
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Judith Light, Vanessa Hudgens
Music by Jonathan Larson
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City.
I’ll be honest – I read about this movie and wasn’t going to bother even watching it as it’s just really not my sort of thing. I do like “theatre” but have seen very little of it (I’m not made of money! And going into London stresses me out). I’d like to see more but my knowledge on theatre shows is very limited. I know pretty much nothing about Rent other than I think it’s what they spoofed in Team America? So that’s the type of person I am watching this movie about the guy who created Rent.
I have to say this started out really slow but, by the end, I really enjoyed it and thought this guy (Jonathan Larson) had a very interesting life. I loved his passion for what he did and am sad that things ended up as they did. Obviously, I had no knowledge of Larson before seeing this movie. I am assuming that theatre people enjoyed this one as I think the film really captures that lifestyle (or what I assume that lifestyle is like – I could be wrong!). As the film was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I’m sure he captured the theatre lifestyle. I thought Andrew Garfield was very good but I can’t say if he has done Larson well or not? So hopefully those who knew him are happy with the film. Oh, and I did like the diner number and am pretty sure it had a lot of big theatre names in it so I’m sure fans loved it. But I’ll admit that I only recognised a few faces, mainly the women from Cheers & Life Goes On as I know more about TV than theatre!
Larson’s friends in this were really great characters as well. I especially liked Alexandra Shipp as his girlfriend & Robin de Jesus as his best friend. And Vanessa Hudgens was good as one of those performing his songs. Judith Light (Who’s The Boss!) was very entertaining in a small role as Larson’s agent. Finally, Bradley Whitford played Stephen Sondheim, who inspired & encouraged Larson. R.I.P. Stephen Sondheim, who passed away over the weekend. Hopefully Whitford did him justice. I thought both Whitford & Garfield were very good in this. As I said above, hopefully those who knew them are pleased with this film.
So, as a non-theatre person, I enjoyed the story in this film. It was told through showing Larson performing his musical tick, tick… BOOM! (I believe?), which is about his life and fear of turning 30 & time running out. Then, as he tells his story through that musical, you get to see him put together his first show (Superbia) and get to watch the actors perform those songs before a small audience (I think this was to determine if it would be made into a Broadway show?). It sadly wasn’t but, hey – it’s now in a movie! And I thought those songs were pretty catchy and think I’d rather watch Superbia than the tick, tick… BOOM! one. So it was great how they told his story in a straightforward movie kind of way while also showing the audience a lot of his work in two of his musicals. I thought it worked really well telling his story this way & am glad I decided to give the film a chance. And I’ve just now also decided to up my rating half a point.
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Boone Junior, Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Eszter Balint, Carol Kane, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Debi Mazar, Seymour Cassel, Bianca Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Tommy is an unemployed mechanic who spends most of his time in a bar (Trees Lounge) in a small blue collar town. He seems to always be thinking, “If only X then I could stop drinking”.
Really liked this Steve Buscemi movie (which is on Pluto TV in the U.K., FYI). Confession: I have sort of a weird crush on Steve Buscemi. I always enjoy his quirky characters and, hey, I think his cameos in Adam Sandler’s movies are hilarious. Yeah! I’m not ashamed! Plus, he seems like a nice guy in real life which is great since so many celebrities seem like fucking assholes & I can’t stand the majority of them as people. So it was great seeing a younger Buscemi as the lead character in this 1996 film (which he also wrote & directed).
This is one of those very “indie” films that is more about the characters than the plot, so it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s the kind of thing I like when the characters are interesting or at least entertaining. It’s about Buscemi’s alcoholic character, Tommy, who hangs out at his local dive bar (Trees Lounge) while drinking his life away. He’s lost his girlfriend & his job & he’s wandering aimlessly through life. We get to see a bit of the also aimless lives of some other regulars at Trees Lounge as well as some of Tommy’s friends & family (including his real life brother playing his brother). It’s also a very New York indie, so I enjoyed that despite never having actually been to New York. It’s always just as much a “character” as any of the actors are when a film is set in NYC.
It was also great seeing so many known names in this (including a small role for Samuel L. Jackson). Enjoyed Carol Kane as the Trees Lounge bartender & the bar’s quirky regulars and I wanted to hang out with Buscemi in the ice cream truck. Check out this cast (from Wikipedia): Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Boone Junior, Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Eszter Balint, Carol Kane, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Debi Mazar, Seymour Cassel, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Buscemi.
Good stuff! Too bad Buscemi made no more films. I’d happily watch more movies like this one. I’ve just added Trees Lounge to my list of My Top Ten Steve Buscemi Movies. I’ve put it at ten, knocking out The Big Lebowski. Never been big on that film…
Starring: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu, Yoo Hae-jin
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Set in the year 2092 and follows the crew of a space junk collector ship called The Victory. When they discover a humanoid robot named Dorothy that’s known to be a weapon of mass destruction, they get involved in a risky business deal.
Really enjoyed this movie. That’s two things I’ve liked on Netflix recently! I struggle to find anything new that I like on Netflix (the other recent thing I liked being Squid Game – I LOVED that).
There really has been some great South Korean stuff in recent years & what they seem to have in common is this: Good characters. Simple, yeah? Surely it’s easy to write good characters? I sometimes feel like Western cinema has forgotten that audiences want to actually care about the characters. And the South Korean stuff also seems to do really well with making us care about complex characters who are often far from perfect. Especially people down on their luck and/or fighting for survival (Parasite, Train To Busan, Squid Game). They made us cry over a zombie movie and a mega violent Battle-Royale-Style TV show, for crying out loud! Why can’t we get more American movies like that?
Don’t want to totally mislead anyone by mentioning Train To Busan & Parasite as those are very good films. Space Sweepers is more “blockbuster popcorn movie” & closer to being the sort of thing a more mainstream Western audience might go for. It’s cheesy & silly at times but they still got that one thing right: Good characters. The film follows a group of space crew misfits who risk their lives collecting space debris to sell while those living on Earth struggle to survive while breathing highly polluted air. They find a young girl stowaway on their ship one day & the movie really picks up from there. If you watch it, stick with it as it gets much better at that point after starting out like a basic sci-fi action blockbuster.
The sci-fi action is fine & the story of yet another dystopian future is decent enough but the characters are what make it enjoyable. We have a funny robot and a tough guy who goes all warm & fuzzy as soon as a cute young kid shows up. We also have a good tearjerker backstory with the main dude & the girl playing the crew’s Captain is cool. Then of course we have the young girl, who is adorable. Yeah, the movie is a little cheesy at times but it’s fun and the South Korean characters are once again well-written (especially for a sci-fi action blockbuster).