Spontaneous (2020) Review

Spontaneous (2020)

Directed by Brian Duffield

Based on Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 8/10

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

Bloodsport (1988) Review

Bloodsport (1988)

Directed by Newt Arnold

Story by Sheldon Lettich

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

Swallow (2019) Review

Swallow (2019)

Directed & Written by Carlo Mirabella-Davis

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

BAFTA Awards – Reviews Of Nominated Films

The BAFTA Film Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) are on this weekend so I thought I’d do a quick post with links to the reviews I’ve done of some of the nominated films.

I’m not happy I’ve not been able to watch most of the biggest BAFTA or Oscar nominees in the U.K. yet. The ones I want to see most before the Oscars if possible are Promising Young Woman, Sound Of Metal, Minari & The Father. Nomadland will be available in the U.K. just after the Oscars so I’ll watch that when I can. I’ve managed to see 16 BAFTA nominees, though, so not too bad (just not in the major categories!).

Here are my reviews (and I love ranking things so I’m listing these from my favorite to least favorite!). Also, I ranked Soul higher than Wolfwalkers end of last year but have changed my mind on that. Would love to see Wolfwalkers win…

Wolfwalkers
Soul
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The Midnight Sky
Babyteeth
Onward
Mank
His House
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Mulan
The Dig
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Pieces of a Woman
Hillbilly Elegy
News of the World

Also just watched My Octopus Teacher this morning (it’s fantastic!) and the short film The Present on Netflix (was good – is worth checking out before the ceremony).

Here are all the BAFTA film nominees:

Best Film

The Father
The Mauritanian
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Leading Actress

Bukky Bakray, Rocks
Radha Blank, The 40-Year-Old Version
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Wunmi Mosaku, His House
Alfre Woodward, Clemency

Best Leading Actor

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Adarsh Gourav, The White Tiger
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round
Tahar Rahim, The Mauritanian

Best Supporting Actress

Niamh Algar, Calm with Horses
Kosar Ali, Rocks
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Dominique Fishback, Judas and the Black Messiah
Ashley Madekwe, County Lines
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Barry Keoghan, Calm with Horses
Alan Kim, Minari
Leslie Odom Jr, One Night in Miami
Clarke Peters, Da 5 Bloods
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

Outstanding British Film

Calm with Horses
The Dig
The Father
His House
Limbo
The Mauritanian
Mogul Mowgli
Promising Young Woman
Rocks
Saint Maud

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer

His House, Remi Weekes
Limbo, Irune Gurtubai, Ben Sharrock
Moffie, Jack Sidey
Rocks, Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson
Saint Maud, Rose Glass, Oliver Kassman

Best Film Not in the English Language

Another Round
Dear Comrades!
Les Misérables
Minari
Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best Documentary

Collective
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
The Dissident
My Octopus Teacher
The Social Dilemma

Best Animated Film

Onward
Soul
Wolfwalkers

Best Director

Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
Shannon Murphy, Babyteeth
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Jasmila Žbanić, Quo Vadis, Aida?
Sarah Gavron, Rocks

Best Original Screenplay

Another Round, Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg
Mank, Jack Fincher
Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell
Rocks, Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson
The Trial of the Chicago 7, Aaron Sorkin

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Dig
The Father
The Mauritanian
Nomadland
The White Tiger

Best Original Score

Mank
Minari
News of the World
Promising Young Woman
Soul

Best Casting

Shaheen Baig, Calm With Horses
Alexa L. Fogel, Judas and the Black Messiah
Julia Kim, Minari
Lindsay Graham Ahanonu, Mary Vernieu, Promising Young Woman
Lucy Pardee, Rocks

Best Cinematography

Judas and the Black Messiah, Sean Bobbitt
Mank, Erik Messerschmidt
The Mauritanian, Alwin H. Küchler
News of the World, Dariusz Wolski
Nomadland, Joshua James Richards

Best Editing

The Father, Yorgos Lamprinos
Nomadland, Chloé Zhao
Promising Young Woman, Frédéric Thoraval
Sound of Metal, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
The Trial of the Chicago 7, Alan Baumgarten

Best Production Design

The Dig, Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
The Father, Cathy Featherstone, Peter Francis
Mank, Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale
News of the World, David Crank, Elizabeth Keenan
Rebecca, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer

Best Costume Design

Ammonite, Michael O’Connor
The Dig, Alice Babidge
Emma, Alexandra Byrne
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Ann Roth
Mank, Trish Summerville

Best Make Up & Hair

The Dig, Jenny Shircore
Hillbilly Elegy, Patricia Dehaney, Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Matiki Anoff, Larry M. Cherry, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal
Mank, Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams
Pinocchio, Mark Coulier

Best Sound

Greyhound, TBC
News of the World, Michael Fentum, William Miller, Mike Prestwood Smith, John Pritchett, Oliver Tarney
Nomadland, Sergio Diaz, Zach Seivers, M. Wolf Snyder
Soul, Coya Elliott, Ren Klyce, David Parker
Sound of Metal, Jaime Baksht, Nicolas Becker, Phillip Bladh, Carlos Cortés, Michelle Couttolenc

Best Special Visual Effects

Greyhound, Pete Bebb, Nathan McGuinness, Sebastian von Overheidt
The Midnight Sky, Matt Kasmir, Chris Lawrence, David Watkins
Mulan, Sean Faden, Steve Ingram, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury
The One and Only Ivan, Santiago Colomo Martinez, Nick Davis, Greg Fisher
Tenet, Scott Fisher, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley

Best British Short Animation

The Fire Next Time
The Owl and The Pussycat
The Song of a Lost Boy

Best British Short Film

Eyelash
Lizard
Lucky Break
Miss Curvy
The Present

EE Rising Star Award

Bukky Bakray
Kingsley Ben-Adir
Morfydd Clark
Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù
Conrad Khan

Remembering John Hughes On His Birthday

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

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

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

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

JOHN HUGHES MOVIE REVIEWS:

101 Dalmatians by Fearsome 5 (and family!)

Baby’s Day Out by Film Grimoire

Beethoven by Film Grimoire

The Breakfast Club by The IPC

The Breakfast Club by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

The Breakfast Club by A Clockwalker Orange

The Breakfast Club by MIB’s Instant Headache

Career Opportunities by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Curly Sue by MovieRob

Dennis by MovieRob

Drillbit Taylor by Rhetologue’s Movie Logs

Drillbit Taylor by MovieRob

Dutch by MovieRob

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

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by Fast Film Reviews

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

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by The Dirk Malcolm Alternative

Flubber by MovieRob

The Great Outdoors by Smashing Through Life

The Great Outdoors by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Home Alone by MovieRob

Home Alone 2 by Screenkicker

Home Alone 3 by Ten Stars Or Less

Just Visiting by JJames Reviews

Maid In Manhattan by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Miracle On 34th Street by Where The Wild Things Are

Mr. Mom by JJames Reviews

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

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation by Tvor Travels

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

National Lampoon’s European Vacation by Tvor Travels

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

Only The Lonely by Ten Stars Or Less

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by Film Nerd Blog

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by The Cinematic Frontier

Planes, Trains & Automobiles by The IPC

Pretty In Pink by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Pretty In Pink by Tranquil Dreams

Pretty In Pink by MovieRob

Savage Islands by MovieRob

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

She’s Having A Baby by MovieRob

Sixteen Candles by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Sixteen Candles by Where The Wild Things Are

Sixteen Candles by Film Nerd Blog

Sixteen Candles by The IPC

Sixteen Candles by MIB’s Instant Headache

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Silver Screen Serenade

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Cinema Parrot Disco (Me)

Some Kind Of Wonderful by MovieRob

Tajna Nikole Tesle by 501 Must-See Movies Project

Uncle Buck by The IPC

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

Weird Science by What About The Twinkie?

Weird Science by MIB’s Instant Headache

EXTRAS:

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

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

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

My Top Ten Older Release Movies Watched In 2020

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

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

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

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

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

30-21:

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

20-11

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

Top Ten:

10. Crimson Peak – 7/10

9. Long Shot – 7/10

8. Little Women – 7/10

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

6. First Man – 7.5/10

5. Mid90s – 7.5/10

4. The Peanut Butter Falcon – 7.5/10

3. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – 7.5/10

2. Calamity Jane – 7.5/10

1. Meet Me In St. Louis – 7.5/10

Onward (2020) Review

Onward (2020)

Directed by Dan Scanlon

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

Production company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Parasite (2019) Review

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

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 8/10

Jojo Rabbit (2019) Review

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Roman Griffin Davis portrays the title character, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, a Hitler Youth member who finds out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. He must then question his beliefs, while dealing with the intervention of his imaginary friend, a fanciful version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

My Opinion:

Hmm. I liked this movie. I didn’t love it like, yet again, Film Twitter did. But they love every current movie release that doesn’t totally suck. When will I learn to ignore the hype from obsessive young film fans?? I do love satire & dark comedy and, though this is obviously a controversial topic, it’s not like it hasn’t been done in this way before. Has no one watched any movies from before the year 2000? I do think Taika Waititi is pretty damn funny, especially on Twitter, and seems like a lot of fun to hang out with. But chill, people. He’s funny. He’s made some decent movies. Jojo Rabbit is a pretty good film. Again, though, let’s not overreact. There are better films (and worse ones, of course).

This is obviously a divisive film (although I’ve only really seen either love for it or people complaining about people hating it despite me seeing no negative tweets or posts about it??). A film like this is obviously always going to be an uncomfortable watch. “Funny Hitler” is a difficult thing to pull off. I’m not completely sure if Waititi fully managed to make it work but, overall, the movie succeeds in giving us some funny moments and some truly heartbreaking ones. I thought it maybe kept things a little too light for such a heavy topic but, to be fair, I think it will have been hard to get the perfect balance between the humor & the horror. Not being a lover of drama movies, the lighter tone worked for me anyway but it may not suit everyone.

Roman Griffin Davis is good as the title character & I knew Thomasin McKenzie would make it big after seeing her in Leave No Trace. I also loved the small part of the friend, played by Archie Yates (he’s adorable). They all did well portraying the innocence of young kids caught up in a horrific time. And Scarlett Johansson was great. I’m still not sure how I feel about her as an actress as she kind of rubs me up the wrong way but there’s no denying that she’s been brilliant in some of her roles. Her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for this movie is deserved. Her character and, of course, the kids are what make this movie and give it some heart. Without them, it would have been too “silly” and lacking in emotion. Overall, I don’t think Jojo Rabbit is a perfect film but it did well with subject matter that could turn into a truly disastrous film if not handled well. And, as I absolutely adore the Charlie Chaplin movies I’ve seen, I’m now kicking myself for not yet seeing The Great Dictator to be able to compare these two films. If I wasn’t taking a blog break, I’d do a post on them both. Maybe next year…

My Rating: 7/10

Little Women (2019) Review

Little Women (2019)

Directed by Greta Gerwig

Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.

My Opinion:

I’m not on the Greta Gerwig bandwagon. Her movies are decent. But neither this nor Lady Bird are “Best Picture” material. Yay for a woman being recognised by the Academy finally, I guess? But why Gerwig? There are better films that have been made by women. Okay – I’ll shut up now before I get in trouble. At least her movies are more worthy than her male partner’s (I thought Marriage Story was a self-indulgent snoozefest). I also admit to not being able to stand Emma Watson. Saoirse Ronan is okay but will never ever be a favorite actress of mine. Yeah, I know – I’m old so these people aren’t my generation. I know they have their fans. I also don’t get the Timothée Chalamet thing. Fuck it – I like what I like! I’m not going to pretend to like movies or actors just because they’re currently popular. So I went into this with low expectations.

Well, hell. I quite enjoyed this movie. I have a huge embarrassing confession to make, though. Although I read a lot & do try to read some books before watching the film adaptations, I never read Little Women. More surprisingly, I have also never seen any other film adaptations. And even more surprising than that, I’ve managed to almost completely avoid spoilers for this story for over 40 damn years (other than about Beth). Honest to god, I didn’t know how this story would play out. And I loved that. I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story. However, is that thanks to Gerwig & some actresses I don’t particularly like? No but I’m glad they made it a fun watch & I even managed to not hate Emma Watson despite her making her usual scrunchy “acting face”. I should’ve read this book. Why didn’t they make us read this one in school?! Damn American educational system! Because this is a good story and I loved it. These characters are great and I loved how different their personalities were. I can see how everyone will have a favorite character from this story. Not sure who my favorite is but I’m going to read the book to decide that as they could be quite different (Florence Pugh was a lot of fun as Amy but I’m guessing she’s the most unlikeable in the book).

Luckily, the British educational system did make my hubby read this one as a kid (he’s a Beth fan, though I’m sure he’ll correct me if I got that wrong). One thing I’ll say is that he absolutely hated how they messed with the linear narrative of the original story. The movie’s story jumps around a lot and some very big reveals are shown right away, which he thinks will have ruined the story for me and for anyone one else who may also be new to Little Women. I have to say the nonlinear structure didn’t work well and, yes – it did ruin what could have been some very big moments. What a shame. Why mess with such a classic? The time jumps also weren’t portrayed well as the characters didn’t look much different despite it sometimes being years later, making it slightly confusing if you weren’t paying close attention (we could hear the people in front of us talking to each other & often being confused as to what just happened). Oh, Amy has bangs/a fringe… We must be in the past again! It was a stupid way to try to be “clever” with a story that people have been perfectly happy with for years. So, what can I say? I enjoyed this movie but let’s be honest: The credit goes to Louisa May Alcott. It’s a brilliant story. I loved it. I’m sorry I haven’t yet read the book. Shame on me.

My Rating: 7/10

Marriage Story (2019) & 1917 (2019) Reviews

As the Oscars are this weekend, I figured I better post my reviews for the Best Picture nominees this week. Below is a re-post of my review of Marriage Story & a new review for 1917. Well, a mini-review of 1917. Okay – it’s not much of a review for 1917!

Marriage Story (2019)

Directed & Written by Noah Baumbach

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever

Music by Randy Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a married couple (Johansson and Driver) going through a coast-to-coast divorce.

My Opinion:

I honestly don’t get the hype over this movie. And I’ve never understood the love for Adam Driver – that gross guy who had gross sex with gross Lena Dunham in gross Girls?! I just feel very out of touch with people the past several years. I see people raving about movies on Twitter so I watch those movies and end up extremely underwhelmed. Is it just me? Why do these same films fail to move me? Because I felt NOTHING while watching this. I didn’t feel that this couple had any sort of meaningful connection or any chemistry whatsoever so found it very hard to feel upset over the breakdown of a marriage that we saw so little of and didn’t get to witness developing in any way. We’re suddenly thrown in at the end of the marriage when they apparently don’t like each other anymore.

I think Driver & Johansson are okay actors (Johansson more than Driver). But they felt like actors in this movie. I felt like I was watching a play that was almost as boring as the ones directed by Driver’s “brilliant” character in this movie. And Johansson’s character was of course an actress. Despite Noah Baumbach sticking to that rule of “write what you know” and clearly writing about his own lifestyle, this movie somehow managed to make these characters feel anything but real to me. It was just odd as one of the main things I saw on Twitter was “This movie is so real!”. Seriously? Am I just dead inside? All I saw were two bland and self-absorbed people not loving OR hating each other enough to build up to that “I wish you were dead!” (or whatever he said) scene. We saw so little of their marriage anyway that I didn’t give a shit when they finally had a damn fight like normal couples do.

I don’t know. Maybe it is just me. I don’t blame either Driver or Johansson, though, as I think the writing here is the problem. This movie is just not my sort of thing. It’s the pretentious & self-indulgent side of “indie” that I can’t stand. It crosses that indie line for me (I don’t know if it fits the indie definition but, who cares, it’s still indie as hell). I either love or hate these types of films. On the right side of the line we have films such as the Richard Linklater ones with brilliant dialogue and characters who are intriguing and fun to watch. Then we cross the line into Wes Anderson movies and, based on the two films I’ve now seen, Noah Baumbach movies. Self-absorbed characters in movies that think they’re much more important & intelligent than they actually are. Marriage Story isn’t awful it just isn’t anything groundbreaking and I didn’t care about the characters. I’ve seen this story plenty of times before but with characters who were much more believable & sympathetic. And don’t even get me started on the kid in this movie! Bloody hell – he’s eight (or so I read) but written like a thoroughly annoying four-year-old. Sorry but no eight-year-old acts like this idiot kid. Was he written by someone who has never been around children? I didn’t expect to hate the poor kid in this movie. Wow. Hey, Hollywood – learn how to write child characters!

My Rating: 5.5/10

1917 (2019)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch

Music by Thomas Newman

Cinematography Roger Deakins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
1917 chronicles the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are tasked with delivering a message calling off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917. This message is especially important to one of the young soldiers as his brother is taking part in the pending attack.

My Opinion:

Shit. This was a good film & all that but it’s just not my type of thing. I struggle to force myself to watch war movies. To be fair, there are plenty I do think are great (The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, Full Metal Jacket, etc). This one looked great & the “feels like one shot” thing was interesting but honestly a bit distracting. I can see how some probably loved it, though, as it does feel like you’re taking this same journey with these characters. But for some reason I didn’t feel much emotion during this one, though I’m not sure why. The performances were perfectly fine. Again, I may have just been too distracted by the way it was filmed. 1917 is a good film and it’s a great technical achievement but, I’m sorry, I was a bit bored. I’m sorry! I have no class. I’ll still give it a decent rating since I know it’s a good film. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins Best Picture (but I’d like to see something less predictable win).

My Rating: 7/10

My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

Welcome to the last day of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ve been posting all week. The other lists are at the end of this post.

So many people did “End Of Decade” lists that I figured I better do one too. I’ve had this blog since 2012 so I already had yearly lists I could easily look at anyway since I’m a list maniac. I’ve been rating and ranking absolutely every movie I’ve watched since 2012. God I’m a nerd.

It was a good decade for movies. I had trouble narrowing it down to only 30 so I’ve added some “Honorable Mentions” at the end as I didn’t want to ignore some movies but also couldn’t quite add them to the 30. I know I like some odd movies sometimes, so felt that lesser-known films such as Space Station 76 (definitely not for everyone!), Turbo Kid & Circle deserved a mention.

So here are My Top Thirty Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019), counting down to my favorite:

Top Thirty:

30. I, Tonya
29. The Artist
28. The Frame
27. Your Name
26. The Way Way Back
25. Brave
24. Moana
23. Hugo
22. Wreck-It Ralph
21. Despicable Me

Top Twenty:

20. In Your Eyes
19. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
18. Frozen
17. Toy Story 3
16. Edge Of Tomorrow
15. Sing Street
14. It
13. Guardians Of The Galaxy
12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
11. Mad Max: Fury Road

Top Ten:

10. Mandy

9. Predestination

8. Blade Runner 2049

7. TIE: The Babadook & It Follows

6. Train To Busan

5. Ex Machina

4. Room

3. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

2. Inside Out

1. Arrival

Honorable Mentions (some more good and/or interesting films that I didn’t want to ignore):
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Circle
Space Station 76
Turbo Kid
Hobo With A Shotgun
The Adjustment Bureau
Colossal
Brigsby Bear
Drive
Tucker And Dale Vs Evil
Yesterday
Robot & Frank
Dredd
The Lego Movie
A Simple Favor
Gravity
The Handmaiden
Melancholia
Under The Skin

And a special mention of some great anime:
Wolf Children
Summer Wars
Mary And The Witch’s Flower
The Wind Rises
Arrietty
From Up On Poppy Hill

**And as much as I adore Studio Ghibli, I have unfortunately not seen these two from this decade:

The Tale Of Princess Kaguya
When Marnie Was There

These are the Top Ten lists I’ve posted this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases

Welcome to Day 5 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.

I found 2019 cinema releases to be disappointing overall. I went to a hell of a lot (thanks, Unlimited card!) and, though I very much enjoyed all 30 I’ve listed below, there were just far too many “average” movies released in 2019. Last year gave me nothing that will become an all-time favorite, which is unfortunate as a lot of recent years have given me at least 1 movie that I really loved. Speaking of which, I’ll be posting my top ten movies of the decade tomorrow. Again, I’ll cheat and make it a top 30 (like yesterday’s Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019, which does contain some new favorites). I haven’t fully decided on the decade list – my top four below have potential to squeeze into the 30.

I’m not saying those below are at all bad, though. In fact, it’s a very strong 30. I’d especially recommend any in the top 20 & loved that things like Fighting With My Family & Hustlers were very pleasant surprises as I didn’t expect to enjoy them nearly as much as I did. Hell, even Child’s Play was far better than I was expecting! So 2019 was a year of some very good films, TONS of “average” films, but not too many dreadful films (or perhaps I managed to avoid those. I’ve not seen Cats!).

Here are My Top Thirty 2019 Movie Releases (by UK release date):

Top Thirty:

30. Ma – 7/10
29. Spider-Man: Far From Home – 7/10
28. Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – 7/10
27. Frozen 2 – 7/10
26. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark – 7/10
25. Ready Or Not – 7/10
24. Child’s Play – 7/10
23. Five Feet Apart – 7.5/10
22. Us – 7.5/10
21. Green Book – 7.5/10

Top Twenty:

20. Toy Story 4 – 7.5/10
19. Midsommar – 7/10
18. Captain Marvel – 7.5/10
17. The Farewell – 7.5/10
16. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10
15. Avengers: Endgame – 7.5/10
14. Knives Out – 7.5/10
13. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – 7.5/10
12. Rocketman – 7.5/10
11. Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari) – 7.5/10

Top Ten:

10. Jumanji: The Next Level – 7.5/10

9. Joker – 7.5/10

8. Hustlers – 7.5/10

7. Judy – 7.5/10

6. It Chapter Two – 7.5/10

5. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – 7.5/10

4. Yesterday – 7.5/10

3. Fighting With My Family – 7.5/10

2. Alita: Battle Angel – 7.5/10

1. Doctor Sleep – 8/10

These are the Top Ten lists I’ve posted & will be posting this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019

Welcome to Day 4 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.

I’ll post the list of my top ten movies released in 2019 tomorrow but I always prefer doing the list of older films that I watched at home each year. These movies tend to be much better (I do try to watch some worthy stuff at home). I have to say that 2019 was a very disappointing year for movie releases overall & none from 2019 made it into my top ten movies of the decade (which I’ll post on Friday). What I watched at home wasn’t quite as strong as some years but I do really love the top six or seven. I also watched A LOT of movies this year so I’ve made this a Top 30 (the full list of everything I saw in 2019 is HERE).

Here are My Top Ten (well, 30) Movies Watched At Home In 2019, counting down to my favorite:

Top Thirty:

30. The Wild Bunch – 7/10
29. The Killing – 7/10
28. Touch Of Evil – 7/10
27. Sorry To Bother You – 7/10
26. Repulsion – 7/10
25. Leave No Trace – 7/10
24. Cold War – 7/10
23. Ocean Waves – 7/10
22. Paris, Texas – 7/10
21. Crazy Rich Asians – 7/10

Top Twenty:

20. Searching – 7/10
19. In This Corner Of The World – 7/10
18. Mississippi Burning – 7/10
17. Midnight Express – 7/10
16. The Great Adventure Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun (aka The Little Norse Prince) – 7/10
15. Paprika – 7/10
14. Belle de Jour – 7/10
13. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner – 7/10
12. Straight Outta Compton – 7.5/10
11. The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) – 7.5/10

Top Ten:

10. The Hunt (Jagten) – 7.5/10

9. Miss Hokusai – 7.5/10

8. Wind River – 7.5/10

7. El Topo – 7.5/10

6. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10

5. Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – 7.5/10

4. Ip Man – 8/10

3. Yojimbo – 8/10

2. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10

1. A Matter Of Life And Death – 8/10

These are the Top Ten lists I’ve posted & will be posting this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

Welcome to Day 3 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.

I won’t have time to review any more of the below in full like I was hoping but I’ve included the links to my original posts where I talked a tiny bit about each of them (some more than others).

The only one that I reviewed in full was Deep Red & I’m glad I made the time for that as it was my favorite. I was a little disappointed with my Blind Spot choices this year but did love the Top Four. Well, I can’t exactly say I loved El Topo but watching it was certainly an experience. El Topo is the main one I’d like to review in full someday as it was quite bizarre and I’m a fan of visually appealing bizarre films. I find it far more interesting to write about odd films (like Mandy). I’d also like to quickly mention Paprika as it’s the first one I watched on 1/1/19 when I was very tired & I think I didn’t give it enough of a chance. Having already seen Inception and having seen & loved Akira, Paprika didn’t feel as original as it might have otherwise. It really is a combination of the Akira weirdness & very much the story from Inception (before Inception did the same thing in, my own personal opinion, a far more boring way than Paprika). And before I end up talking about each of these too much, I’ll just add that I loved seeing John Hurt in Midnight Express (though I’d hoped the film would be a bit better). These are all good movies, though – Only Dreamscape feels out of place as the rest are far better & that’s the only one I wouldn’t recommend.

Well, I didn’t quite manage to watch 12 Blind Spot movies in 2019 but at least I saw ten. So here are My Top Ten Blind Spot Movies Watched In 2019 (counting down to my favorite):

10. Dreamscape – 6/10

9. The Wild Bunch – 7/10

8. Paris, Texas – 7/10

7. Paprika – 7/10

6. Mississippi Burning – 7/10

5. Midnight Express – 7/10

4. El Topo – 7.5/10

3. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10

2. Ip Man – 8/10

1. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10

These are the Top Ten lists I’ve posted & will be posting this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019

Welcome to Day 2 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.

I watched more films in the IMDb Top 250 in 2019 than I was planning, so I’m glad I’ve now worked through seeing 65 more of the 250 since starting my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2013. I think I only have about 36 left to watch now (if I’ve counted correctly). Not too bad!

I won’t have time to review any of the below in full like I was hoping but I’ve included the links to my original posts where I talked a tiny bit about each of them (some more than others). They really do deserve full reviews someday, especially the fantastic top four. There are also two I hated (the bottom two), which doesn’t happen often with the Top 250 films.

Here are My Top Ten (okay, actually 12) IMDb Top 250 Movies That I Watched In 2019 (from least favorite to favorite):

12. The Grand Budapest Hotel – 5/10

11. Oldboy (2003) – 5/10

10. 3 Idiots – 7/10

9. The Wild Bunch – 7/10

8. The Killing – 7/10

7. Touch Of Evil – 7/10

6. The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) – 7.5/10

5. The Hunt (Jagten) – 7.5/10

4. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10

3. Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – 7.5/10

2. Ip Man – 8/10

1. Yojimbo – 8/10

These are the Top Ten lists I’ll be posting this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019 (yesterday)
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019 (earlier today)
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019

Welcome to Day 2 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.

I watched more anime than I realized this year, although not as much as I’d have liked. I still love Studio Ghibli above all else but I’ve really enjoyed exploring more anime the past few years. Looking forward to seeing Weathering With You in the cinema later this month, which is from the same director as Your Name.

I won’t have time to review any of the below like I was hoping but I’ve included the links to my original posts where I talked a tiny bit about each of them.

Here are My Top (not quite ten) Anime Movies Watched In 2019 (counting down to my favorite):

8. A Silent Voice

7. Lu Over The Wall

6. Big Fish & Begonia

5. Ocean Waves

4. In This Corner Of The World

3. The Great Adventure Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun (aka The Little Norse Prince)

2. Paprika

1. Miss Hokusai

These are the Top Ten lists I’ll be posting this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019 (yesterday)
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

Five Feet Apart, The Knight Before Christmas & Destination Wedding Movie Reviews

Five Feet Apart (2019)

Directed by Justin Baldoni

Starring: Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moisés Arias

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film was inspired by real life couple Dalton and Katie Prager, who both suffered from cystic fibrosis. Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse play two young patients with cystic fibrosis, who try to have a relationship despite always being forced to stay a certain distance away from each other.

My Opinion:

I admit it – I can be a bit of a film snob but these YA movie adaptations (and the books) are a guilty pleasure of mine. I tend to read the YA novels before watching the film adaptations but I didn’t in this case, so I can’t compare it to the book. I’m sure the book is better, as is usually the case, but I really liked this movie and the characters. It probably helped to not read the book for a change, as I never fully enjoy the movies when I’m comparing them to the book in my head the entire time.

This is very much like The Fault In Our Stars, so will have the same group of fans. In fact, I think I liked it more than that one? Fault has a higher IMDb rating as I think it’s just much more well known but I liked the characters in this one more and Haley Lu Richardson is VERY good in this. She won’t get any attention, however, as YA films don’t really get any respect but I found her very genuine & believable in a way that I didn’t really get from Shailene Woodley in Fault. I’m feeling extremely old, though, as the male love interest (Cole Sprouse) is one of the twins who played the son of Ross on Friends. Yikes! Anyway, these two of course fall in love (not exactly a spoiler as it’s so damn obvious that’s gonna happen) and they have good chemistry and I believed them as a couple. Again, more than the couple in Fault but I do like both films – I just slightly prefer the characters in Five Feet Apart (including a friend of theirs, played by Moisés Arias). I think it’s just a case of this book & movie not being as well known and being too similar as a part of the “dying teenage romance” sub-genre that it’s not had as much attention. I definitely recommend it to any YA fans.

I also didn’t know it was inspired by a real life couple (Dalton and Katie Prager) until I looked the movie up for this review. I suppose that also makes it feel more real. It’s heartbreaking but the film handles the situation well, without becoming too soppy or saccharine (which I can’t stand). It’s told in a straightforward way, though I’m sure the drama at the end was added on to make it more “exciting”. My only small issue with the movie is that the parents were barely in it – They focused SO much on only the teens. But I suppose that’s what a younger audience wants to see. It’s only a small complaint, though, as I thought this was a really good YA movie with strong characters & an especially good performance from Richardson.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Knight Before Christmas (2019)

Directed by Monika Mitchell

Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Josh Whitehouse, Emmanuelle Chriqui

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A medieval English knight is magically transported to the present day where he falls for a high school science teacher who is disillusioned by love.

My Opinion:

What can I say about this? It’s exactly what I was expecting from a cheesy Netflix Christmas romance. It’s stupid, of course. But sometimes you’re in the mood for this kind of thing. My kid is a fan of Vanessa Hudgens and we had fun watching The Princess Switch together so had to check this out too. I admit I was wrapping Christmas presents at the time, though, so this didn’t have my full attention. It didn’t need it. It’s honestly one of those movies that you stick on in the background while you’re doing other stuff. Wow – that sounds insulting. They won’t stick that quote on the movie’s poster! This movie is fine. I used to watch a lot of TV movies when I was young (and had the time for that sort of thing) & this movie is no worse (or better) than those. I’ll forget it in a year but it’s completely innocent & inoffensive. The Princess Switch is much better, though. I now have the urge to watch a Nancy McKeon or Melissa Gilbert TV movie from my era. I guess Vanessa Hudgens is becoming this era’s McKeon/Gilbert/Meredith Baxter (but those ’80s TV movies were more my thing – crime, murder, loads of drama & a bit of supernatural weirdness. Much better than romance!).

My Rating: 5.5/10

Destination Wedding (2019)

Directed & Written by Victor Levin

Starring: Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of two miserable and unpleasant wedding guests, Lindsay and Frank, who develop a mutual affection despite themselves.

My Opinion:

Well, it’s obvious that I grew up in the Eighties so there was no way I was going to NOT watch a movie starring Winona Ryder & my beloved Keanu Reeves. It’s bad, though. Like, really bad. If it starred actors I hate, I’d have turned it off. But it’s actors I love so it was tolerable despite the fact that they didn’t shut the fuck up the entire time. I think the movie was just trying to be like Before Sunrise, etc, as it focuses on a couple who have just met and then spend hours talking to each other. And talking. And talking. And talking. But, with Linklater’s films, the conversation is brilliant. You want to listen to it. These two characters were just a little too annoying, though. However, I liked their attitudes as I’m a negative person too and would fit right in with them. But I wouldn’t talk so damn much as I know I have nothing interesting to say. They don’t seem to realize that they have nothing interesting to say either. Fuck it – I’ll give the movie an average score since it’s still Keanu & Winona and I still love the shit out of them.

My Rating: 5/10

Marriage Story, Brittany Runs A Marathon & Support The Girls Movie Reviews

Marriage Story (2019)

Directed & Written by Noah Baumbach

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever

Music by Randy Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a married couple (Johansson and Driver) going through a coast-to-coast divorce.

My Opinion:

I honestly don’t get the hype over this movie. And I’ve never understood the love for Adam Driver – that gross guy who had gross sex with gross Lena Dunham in gross Girls?! I just feel very out of touch with people the past several years. I see people raving about movies on Twitter so I watch those movies and end up extremely underwhelmed. Is it just me? Why do these same films fail to move me? Because I felt NOTHING while watching this. I didn’t feel that this couple had any sort of meaningful connection or any chemistry whatsoever so found it very hard to feel upset over the breakdown of a marriage that we saw so little of and didn’t get to witness developing in any way. We’re suddenly thrown in at the end of the marriage when they apparently don’t like each other anymore.

I think Driver & Johansson are okay actors (Johansson more than Driver). But they felt like actors in this movie. I felt like I was watching a play that was almost as boring as the ones directed by Driver’s “brilliant” character in this movie. And Johansson’s character was of course an actress. Despite Noah Baumbach sticking to that rule of “write what you know” and clearly writing about his own lifestyle, this movie somehow managed to make these characters feel anything but real to me. It was just odd as one of the main things I saw on Twitter was “This movie is so real!”. Seriously? Am I just dead inside? All I saw were two bland and self-absorbed people not loving OR hating each other enough to build up to that “I wish you were dead!” (or whatever he said) scene. We saw so little of their marriage anyway that I didn’t give a shit when they finally had a damn fight like normal couples do.

I don’t know. Maybe it is just me. I don’t blame either Driver or Johansson, though, as I think the writing here is the problem. This movie is just not my sort of thing. It’s the pretentious & self-indulgent side of “indie” that I can’t stand. It crosses that indie line for me (I don’t know if it fits the indie definition but, who cares, it’s still indie as hell). I either love or hate these types of films. On the right side of the line we have films such as the Richard Linklater ones with brilliant dialogue and characters who are intriguing and fun to watch. Then we cross the line into Wes Anderson movies and, based on the two films I’ve now seen, Noah Baumbach movies. Self-absorbed characters in movies that think they’re much more important & intelligent than they actually are. Marriage Story isn’t awful it just isn’t anything groundbreaking and I didn’t care about the characters. I’ve seen this story plenty of times before but with characters who were much more believable & sympathetic. And don’t even get me started on the kid in this movie! Bloody hell – he’s eight (or so I read) but written like a thoroughly annoying four-year-old. Sorry but no eight-year-old acts like this idiot kid. Was he written by someone who has never been around children? I didn’t expect to hate the poor kid in this movie. Wow. Hey, Hollywood – learn how to write child characters!

My Rating: 5.5/10

Brittany Runs A Marathon (2019)

Directed & Written by Paul Downs Colaizzo

Starring: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows an overweight woman in New York City who sets out to lose weight and train for the city’s annual marathon.

My Opinion:

This is based on a true story and I do respect anyone who runs a marathon. I will never ever ever do that – I’m far too lazy. So I don’t want to say anything too bad since this is a real person. Yay for her! She turned her life around. But the movie did NOT manage to make her very likeable. In fact, she was downright horrible to those around her who were only trying to help & support her. And we’re supposed to root for her? I always struggle with movies with hateful main characters. I avoid hateful people as much as possible in real life – why would I want to watch a movie about hateful people? At least make them entertaining if they’re awful people (I admit to really enjoying The Wolf Of Wall Street and he was an enormous asshole). Jillian Bell’s character was just so damn boring. This is considered a comedy drama but there’s no comedy, which I was expecting as Bell normally does comedy. This was fine as I’m not a big comedy fan anyway but a little disappointing as I wasn’t expecting an uninspiring drama. You also don’t get the uplifting payoff at the end of this since you kind of don’t feel the character has fully earned any success due to her behavior. I’m sounding very negative in these reviews! That’s why I’ve put off reviewing them. Oh well. Like Marriage Story, this film isn’t awful. I just found them both very bland but the actors themselves were okay and I guess they did what they could with weak material.

My Rating: 5/10

Support The Girls (2018)

Directed & Written by Andrew Bujalski

Starring: Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, James LeGros, AJ Michalka, Dylan Gelula, Shayna McHayle, Lea DeLaria, Jana Kramer, Brooklyn Decker

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The general manager at a highway-side “sports bar with curves” has her incurable optimism and faith, in her girls, her customers, and herself, tested over the course of a long, strange day.

My Opinion:

I didn’t hate this movie. Yay! It was… Fine. An okay movie that I enjoyed while watching it but will never watch again. That’s most movies these days – Perfectly pleasant but a bit forgettable. At least, unlike with Marriage Story & Brittany Runs A Marathon, there are likeable characters in this one. Regina Hall was very good as the manager at the sports bar/restaurant and as a mother-figure to the waitresses. It’s very much a “day in the life” movie and I enjoyed the different personalities of the characters. It’s a little bit “quirky indie”, which doesn’t always work but did in this case. I liked it. See? I like movies sometimes.

My Rating: 6/10

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Review

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Based on Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Danny Glover, Danny DeVito

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This time, the adventures continue in the fantastic world of Jumanji, where nothing is what it seems to be. The players must return to the dangerous game; however, their characters have exchanged with each other leaving us the same heroes but with different looks. Moreover, we must find out where the rest of the players are in order to beat Jumanji again.

My Opinion:

I honestly kind of love these new Jumanji films. There aren’t enough good live-action “family” movies nowadays and they fill that gap perfectly. We had so many fun family movies in the 80s! Why do they make so few now? And by good I mean ones that are enjoyable for all ages. A lot of family films are aimed at pleasing only the kids in the audience and they’re a waste of time. Family movies don’t have to be dumb or boring for anyone over the age of 10. I want to take my kid to movies that I enjoy just as much as she does, dammit. And we (and the hubby!) thoroughly enjoyed this and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

I’m old. I was an adult when the first Jumanji came out in 1995 so it’s not special to me in the same way that it is to those who were kids at the time. I do like it as I really liked Robin Williams but I think this reboot(?) has been fantastic. And, admittedly, the first one is very dated in that way that so many 90s movies with certain special effects now are. As much as I normally hate reboots, etc, they can sometimes work when they get them right. Those who loved the 1995 film will now have (or soon have) kids they can watch these with and updating it into a video game was a wise choice. But, mostly, the new ones are damn funny. Good writing and a good cast has made for two really good family cinema trips. For me, they took a great original idea and managed to improve on it with these.

I won’t ramble on forever since I have lots of 2019 movie reviews to catch up on. If you liked Welcome To The Jungle, you’ll like this. If for some strange reason you didn’t like the last one, you won’t like this. Yes, it’s essentially the same story again but mixing up the characters was a great way to make this one different from the last. It was funny to see who was better at acting out different people this time. Surprisingly, Kevin Hart was a big highlight as he’s hilarious doing Danny Glover impressions. Spot on! And his bickering with Dwayne Johnson was a delight. I can’t say I really believed Johnson as Danny DeVito, though, and I always love Jack Black but he’s still best as Bethany (Madison Iseman). It didn’t matter too much, though, as it was still funny and there’s an extra surprise in store that I won’t spoil. Oh, and I loved seeing DeVito & Glover for a decent amount of time before getting into the game. I’m ready for this to be a trilogy (and I’m sure that’s likely, as is hinted at in an end credits scene).

My Rating: 7.5/10

Knives Out (2019) Review

Knives Out (2019)

Directed & Written by Rian Johnson

Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer, Frank Oz

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Described as a modern take on the whodunit, the film follows a family gathering gone awry, after the family patriarch’s death leads a master detective to investigate.

My Opinion:

I’m waaaaay behind on reviewing the 2019 releases that I’ve seen so I’ll try to catch up on reviewing them over the next few days. So here’s a quickie for Knives Out, which was a thoroughly enjoyable film. I don’t have a lot to say about it, though. It’s a really fun take on an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery but it’s exactly what I expected. I remember taking a special trip into London to see Rian Johnson’s Brick when it came out so knew he was capable of an intriguing story in this genre.

I loved the “star power” in this. What a cast! Being an old fucker myself, I appreciated the fact that so many older actors were used. Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette & Frank Oz were all great. For the younger crowd, they got to lust over Chris Evans in sweaters. He was good as well, although his role was smaller than I expected. Daniel Craig was good as the detective too but he had a weird accent that got a little annoying. The two best performances, however, were from Christopher Plummer & from Ana de Armas as the breakout star of the film. Damn – I thought she was just a pretty face after Blade Runner 2049 but she’s fantastic in this film.

The strong characters are what really make this movie, and that’s the main thing I care about, but the story was damn good as well. Who doesn’t like a murder mystery? I personally don’t like intense murder mystery dramas, though. I’m not a gritty “true crime” thriller fan (in fact, it’s probably my least favorite genre – I started watching Zodiac recently and have yet to bother finishing it). Knives Out isn’t like that. It has a lighthearted approach & a sense of humor & brilliant characters. In fact, as I write this I’m starting to like it even more. I don’t think it quite lives up to the massive amount of hype (it’s currently in the IMDb Top 250, which is ridiculous) but I really appreciated seeing an original story for a change as I’m so sick of sequels, remakes. reboots & superheroes. Hey Hollywood – Can we please have more movies like this one?

My Rating: 7.5/10

Le Mans ‘66 (Ford v Ferrari) (2019) Review

Le Mans ‘66 (aka Ford v Ferrari) (2019)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring: Matt Damon, Carroll Shelby, Christian Bale, Ken Miles, Jon Bernthal, Lee Iacocca, Caitriona Balfe, Mollie Miles, Tracy Letts, Henry Ford II, Henry Ford, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, Enzo Ferrari, Ray McKinnon, JJ Feild, Jack McMullen, Gian Franco Tordi, Benjamin Rigby, Ben Collins, Francesco Bauco, Joe Williamson, Alex Gurney, Corrado Invernizzi, Wallace Langham

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles, who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building the Ford GT40, a new racing car with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.

My Opinion:

I liked this film a lot. It’s weird – I hate sports but quite often enjoy sports-related movies. Probably because they give the stories the Hollywood treatment, which makes the events more exciting than they were in real life? Maybe. But more than anything I like how they focus on the people and their relationships outside of that sport. I care more about the outcome when I know a little bit about the people who are competing. I felt similar when watching Rush, which was another fantastic movie in this genre. I slightly preferred Rush (possibly thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s butt) but both movies made me care about the characters AND the races. Plus the best part about not being a sports fan? I had no idea who would win any of these races! Watching the final race in this one was intense. I loved it.

Matt Damon & Christian Bale were both great and I’d be happy to see either of them get nominated for Oscars for these roles. I especially liked Bale and I cannot stand that dude. I think this is the first time I liked him in a movie but Ken Miles was a great & complex character (although I have no idea how accurate this film is compared to the real-life Miles & Carroll Shelby). He was hot-tempered (so probably a piece of cake for Bale) but also very loving with his wife & son. His wife, played by Caitriona Balfe, was also a strong character and I’m glad we got to see him with his family as well as with Shelby as that’s what made us care about him.

We didn’t see any of Shelby’s personal life, though from what I’ve read it probably wouldn’t have made for as much of a feelgood film so I can see why they focused on Miles and his family instead. With Shelby, the focus was on his career & on his relationship with Miles. As the movie feels more like it’s about Ken Miles, though, I can see it being likely that Bale gets more of the attention during Awards season but Damon was also very good in this – he’s just far more understated.

By the way – I definitely prefer the American title of Ford v Ferrari. It’s weird when they change the titles of movies for other countries. I wonder why they changed it for the UK? I suppose I could Google that if I wasn’t lazy. Doesn’t matter – it’s a good film either way. I’m glad I decided to watch it despite not loving the genre, although it’s a “one-time watch” sort of movie for me.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019) Review

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019)

Directed by J. J. Abrams

Based on Characters by George Lucas

Starring: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams

Music by John Williams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.

My Opinion:

I’ve been putting off reviewing this as I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. I did see it at midnight last Wednesday night as we’re a family of Star Wars fans. I think all the negativity online since The Last Jedi ruined my enjoyment a bit plus this is the first time I decided to read all the spoilers beforehand, which is something I always try desperately to avoid. So that’s my own damn fault but, seriously, I hate people who spoil movies online on purpose. I know spoilers don’t bother everyone but it does ruin movies for me. I like to be surprised. My lack of excitement during this one won’t have been helped by the fact that I was watching the story unfold exactly as I’d heard it would. Thanks a lot, Burger King! Shame on me, though. I’ll avoid spoilers again from now on.

I liked The Rise Of Skywalker but am not satisfied with the trilogy as a whole. I’m at the point now where I kind of don’t care about this trilogy existing (and wonder if I’d be happier if it didn’t). For me, it will only ever be the original trilogy that I love. The rest of the movies will never be special to me in the same sort of way, although I did get plenty of enjoyment out of moments in each of them. And Solo deserves more credit than it gets, FYI – that was a fun film.

When The Force Awakens came out, however, I admit that I did absolutely love it at the time. I thought the new characters were great and I adored seeing my old favorites again. I was high on the fact that Star Wars was back. I hate that the following two movies didn’t live up to the first one and, more than anything, I hate how this trilogy now feels like it was created just to replace beloved old characters with new ones for a new generation. Can a new generation not appreciate the original characters too? As much as I wasn’t really a fan of the prequels, they’ve now actually gone up in my estimation after the sequel trilogy. I never expected that as I far prefer The Force Awakens to any of the prequels. But now that this trilogy has ended, I feel like it has damaged characters that I grew up with & love whereas the prequels didn’t do them any harm (to the “good guys” that I adore, anyway – I’ve never been a fan of the “baddies”. Screw you, Vader!).

Well, I could talk about my feelings & disappointment forever so I’ll try to focus on this movie specifically now. I do think I need to see it a second time to see if I feel any differently but I’m heartbroken to not feel anywhere near the same level of enjoyment and hope that I felt after a very promising start with The Force Awakens. Hell – I even re-read my The Last Jedi review and my immediate reaction was quite positive. I don’t hate that one the way so many others do. Although The Last Jedi may be my least favorite of the three, it’s almost equal to The Rise Of Skywalker for me as there are certain moments in it that I did really like. So! Here’s what I liked about The Rise Of Skywalker:

– The Droids. The sequels may have somewhat ruined the legacy of my human favorites but at least they didn’t hurt my beloved droids. When people ask who my favorite Star Wars character is, my answer is R2-D2 (followed very closely by Yoda, although I have a feeling that a certain Mandalorian character may end up a contender for my new favorite – but that’s going way off topic). Of course I love Luke, Leia, Han, etc, but nothing beats a cool sci-fi droid for me. We don’t get nearly as much R2-D2 as I’d have liked in this trilogy but I thoroughly enjoyed getting a very funny C-3PO. Loved him in this! I thought they did a very good job playing up to his annoying quirks and making him funny as hell (without him realizing he was being funny as hell). Actually, of all the original characters, I think C-3PO was the only one they managed to improve on instead of lessen or harm or have no effect on (as with R2-D2, who is still the exact same lovable droid and thankfully not harmed by this trilogy). So thank you for not messing with my Droids, J. J. Abrams! Oh, BB-8 is still awesome too and I liked the new addition of D-O. He’s not as cool as BB-8 and the rest but I still really liked him. What can I say? I love a cute droid. D-O reminded me of M-O from WALL-E. (Not surprisingly, WALL-E is an all-time favorite film of mine as well. Robots rule!).

Lando & Chewbacca. Yeah, I love the original trilogy characters. So sue me. It was great finally seeing Lando, who is still cool as shit, and seeing Chewbacca yet again. I of course wanted to see more of them than we got but, hey, at least we got a decent amount of time with them compared to some of the other original characters. I also don’t feel these two were really harmed by this trilogy, but I do worry about Chewie. Can I be his friend?! I want to make sure he’s surrounded by really good friends forever & ever.

Babu Frik. This is a new small character and you’ll either love him or hate him. Being a huge fan of Henson Muppets and Yoda and the genius of characters such as Salacious B. Crumb, I of course was a fan of this goofy new addition. If you like Salacious B. Crumb as much as I do, you’re gonna like Babu Frik. If not, too bad! I don’t care. He’s great and feels like he could easily have fit right in with the original trilogy creatures.

The camaraderie. We see a lot of Rey, Finn & Poe working together in this and I really enjoyed their friendship and lighthearted bickering (we get some fun rapport between Rey & Poe regarding taking care of the Millennium Falcon & BB-8). Speaking of BB-8, Poe’s love for him is adorable. The funny C-3PO moments also come from being a part of this group and I really enjoyed the moments when these characters were together.

I want to focus on the positives about this movie as there’s so much negativity online so I’ll only mention a few things I don’t like, as I already made my feelings clear at the start that I’m disappointed in this trilogy overall. One thing I really don’t like is Kylo Ren as a character and I very much don’t understand the whole Adam Driver obsession so, as he’s a fan favorite, not liking him probably really doesn’t help my enjoyment of these films. I’m also kind of starting to feel the same as others do in finding Rey’s abilities a bit “too much”. She’s too powerful. Too perfect. I still really like her as a character but it’s all way too easy for her. I also didn’t like the story in this one – it felt like a video game story. The main problem, however, is how I feel this sequel trilogy is simply casting our original trilogy favorites aside. This became very clear in The Last Jedi but I don’t think Abrams tried very hard to undo that in this one. It feels a little disrespectful. It doesn’t feel, to me, like these movies were made by true fans of the original trilogy. I didn’t feel that way after The Force Awakens and am upset that it feels that way now that the trilogy is complete. I don’t want any more movies involving these new characters now, even though I do really like Rey, Finn, Poe & BB-8. Based on how this trilogy turned out, I’d now rather have stand alones like Solo and Rogue One. I wasn’t feeling Rogue One at the time but it’s now gone up in my estimation as well as the prequels.

Oh well. I made my feelings clear at the beginning of this review so I obviously have a lot of issues with this trilogy but I don’t want to go into them in much detail as I’m hating all the negativity online. None of these movies are as bad as some people are saying. There’s still lots of great Star Wars moments in each of them. I just really wanted to love this sequel trilogy but, at the moment, I can’t say that I do. However, I’ll try to keep an open mind and maybe watch The Rise Of Skywalker again to see if I feel any differently. I hope so. But I’ll always see it as a separate thing from the original trilogy. Maybe this is just one alternate reality for our original trilogy characters…

My Rating: 7/10

Last Christmas (2019) Review

Last Christmas (2019)

Directed by Paul Feig

Screenplay by Emma Thompson & Bryony Kimmings

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Based on the song of the same name, the film stars Emilia Clarke as a cynical Christmas store worker who forms a relationship with a mysterious man (Henry Golding) and begins to fall for him.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies that I liked but also hated because it was so ridiculously predictable. Schmaltzy & cheesy! Also, the completely unnecessary political agenda thrown in as a small subplot was annoying as hell. Thanks for adding BREXIT into a Christmas rom-com. Are you fucking kidding me?! But I’m a hypocrite because I’ll still give this an okay rating because 1) It had some sweet and also some funny moments, but mainly 2) I think Henry Golding is flipping adorable. I’m not super girly or a big lover of rom-coms but I do adore a sweet and lovable male love interest. If the couple work well together in this type of film, it helps to make up for the film’s shortcomings. Emilia Clarke & Henry Golding are so damn cute together.

Emilia Clarke’s main other relationships in the film are with her boss, Michelle Yeoh (the Christmas-loving owner of the Christmas shop where Clarke is an elf) and with her family (including Emma Thompson as her mother). Clarke is a mess and all her relationships are strained, especially with her intense & dreary mother (Emma Thompson, with a seriously dodgy sounding accent. Maybe it’s good, though – I dunno. I’m terrible with accents). There were some very funny moments with Thompson & Yeoh, though. Their characters are both eccentric and quite fun. I did enjoy the comedy in this movie – it was very borderline on being “appropriate” for a 12A rating. Fine with me – I like my comedy a little naughty. Too wholesome is boring.

Clarke’s character is unfortunately a little hard to like but that’s the entire point of the film (gotta have that predictable Ebenezer Scrooge redemption, right?!). Then, of course, there’s Henry Golding as I mentioned. He’s an absolute sweetheart, of course, as all men are in romantic comedies. So unrealistic! But I don’t care. You’re meant to love him in this. Again, that’s the whole point of these sort of movies.

Oh! I’ve not mentioned Wham! I actually kind of forgot this was based on George Michael’s music (despite the title). I was never exactly a fan so admit I hadn’t wanted to hear loads of Wham throughout this. Some songs are just in the background, so I was glad it wasn’t “in your face” and wasn’t distracting in any way.

What else can I say? This movie is SO cliché that I hate myself for kind of falling for its absolute bullshit. But, dammit, Christmas movies are meant to be feelgood movies and you’re meant to like the couple. This movie does at least get these things right as well as adding in some enjoyable humor. I guess I can forgive the pukey plot thanks to all that. If only they’d left Brexit out of this. I’d have liked it much more without that. This movie is now forever tied to this specific point in time thanks to that, ruining its chances of being a timeless Christmas classic years from now.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Frozen 2 (2019) Review

Frozen 2 (2019)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Starring: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad

Music by: Songs – Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Score – Christophe Beck

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.

My Opinion:

Frozen 2 is fine. Did we really need a sequel? No. Has it really added anything of value to the “Frozen universe”? No. Are the songs good? No. Is the story good? It’s not horrible but it’s not great. It’s just a bit too complicated and messy for what’s meant to be a kids’ film. The story should be kept more straightforward & fairly simple for a Disney movie to become a timeless classic.

The first Frozen got all the elements right to make it a film that will be seen as one of Disney’s classics years from now despite there seeming to be a slight backlash against it currently. I want Disney movies to have that timeless feel and the first Frozen had that magic. Frozen 2 doesn’t, but that can be said of most Disney sequels anyway. As far as Disney sequels go, it’s still better than plenty of them. So, yes, I still enjoyed this sequel as I’m a fan of these characters but the movie is unfortunately very average and a tad boring.

So, I already mentioned the story as the first negative. It’s not a bad story but it’s just… Meh. I didn’t care about the outcome as it was clearly unimportant – they just needed an excuse to make a profitable sequel. The bigger disappointment was the songs. I have to admit that I can’t now remember how even one song goes, unlike when leaving the cinema after the original film. At least two or three of the songs were instantly memorable in the first Frozen. Sorry, but Disney movies should really have at least one memorable song. The songs are a huge selling point for these films.

But I don’t want to sound entirely negative so I’ll end this very short review with some good things. These characters are still great. I’ll always like Anna & Elsa and it was nice to see them much closer in this one and being a family doing normal things like playing games together. The sequel still very much focuses on the sisterly love thing, which was what helped make the first one so special. And the outfits are once again my absolute Disney Princess movie favorites. I love that they both have their own unique style but especially love Anna’s outfits each time (I’m a huge fan of green and anything even slightly Scandinavian). So good job on that, Disney – these two have style.

This movie is also pretty damn beautiful. I still prefer the imagery & feel of the first film with its icy look and shades of blue & white but there was some gorgeous animation in this one too. And Olaf, although always borderline annoying, did make me smile a couple of times and he has a very funny bit that I won’t spoil. I’d say that only Kristoff & Sven felt a little wasted in this one but, to be fair, these movies are about Anna & Elsa so “the guys” are in it as much as they need to be. And, yes, there IS a scene after the credits that I’d say is worth staying for.

Frozen 2 was fine. It wasn’t needed but I liked seeing these characters again and I don’t think it damaged the Frozen legacy in any way, even if it didn’t exactly add anything special or new to it either.

My Rating: 7/10