Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2022

Happy New Year, Everyone! I’m really hoping that 2023 is going to be a much better year than 2022. I kept on top of my Letterboxd reviews so here are all the reviews of everything I watched in December. There are a lot as I was trying to finish watching the 2022 releases that are on services but there are still loads more that I’ve missed…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Millennium Actress – Thoroughly enjoyed this story of a legendary film actress discussing her life with two documentary filmmakers. Always like films exploring the lives of those involved in filmmaking & loved how her life story was told through her film roles. This is my third & I think probably now my favorite Satoshi Kon film. I’d highly recommend this as well as his films Tokyo Godfathers & the trippy Paprika. Will definitely be checking out Perfect Blue at some point too… – 8/10

Only Yesterday – Had to get at least one Studio Ghibli movie watched before the end of this year. I adore Ghibli but am running out of ones to watch. Think I only have five left! What will I do after that?! (I’ve ranked all I’ve seen here)

This one, of course, isn’t up there with the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis but is still a great film worthy of the studio. It’s a very grownup story and follows a young woman as her trip to the countryside brings back strong memories from when she was a fifth grade schoolgirl. I thought it portrayed very well how strong nostalgia can be and how our experiences while young can have such a strong influence on who we become as adults. Something that can seem insignificant to an adult may be something that a child coming of age will never forget. Enjoyed the scenes when she was a child the most and they gave me my own happy & sad memories from when I was that same age. Especially liked how the boys behaved & how awkward the boys & girls were around each other. The 1966 Japanese schoolkids in this behaved exactly the same as my American classmates did in the mid-80s, which put a smile on my face.

Another great film from Studio Ghibli & one of my favorite films I saw for the first time in 2022. – 8/10

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.

Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.

Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years. – 7.5/10

The Banshees Of Inisherin – Tried to end the year on a good 2022 film as I’ve been very disappointed with most of the movies released this year. I can’t say this lived up to my expectations based on the rave reviews but I did like it. It might just squeak into my top ten for the year. 

Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson & Kerry Condon are all very good in this & I can see them all being nominated for Oscars. The acting nominations would be well deserved. The film itself didn’t quite live up to the performances for me but I did like the story and the beautiful setting and that adorable donkey. I never thought I’d want a little donkey to live in my house & keep me company but I totally want that now.  

I’m adding my review now as the year is over & I just want to get this posted but I’ve not fully sorted out my feelings on this movie yet. I wanted to like it more but it’s one I think could grow on me. I liked the dark humor & the characters & not knowing where the story was going to end up. Finally something unpredictable in 2022! But it’s also a slow film & not one I think I’d watch again even though I sometimes love a depressing film. It’s just so deeply sad & I felt awful for Farrell‘s character and I’m not sure I’d want to watch him go through all that again. I’ve been dumped by friends too. It sucks. I need a donkey. 

I think In Bruges is still Martin McDonagh’s best and seeing this made me really want to rewatch that. Think this one may be just behind Three Billboards for me (they’re close) but I definitely preferred this to Seven Psychopaths. I’ll think about it a bit more. I think this may go up in my estimation but, man, it made me sad. – 7.5/10

After Yang – Was looking forward to this as I really loved Kogonada‘s film Columbus. This one isn’t as good but I still liked it as I always love slow, thinky sci-fi and never tire of the exploration of life, death & what makes us human even though that’s been done to death in this genre. After Yang doesn’t really give us anything new on those themes but, like Columbus, it’s lovely to look at & I appreciated the score from the brilliant Ryuichi Sakamoto. I’m still working on my year-end movie rankings but this will rank highly for me as it’s right up my alley. I’m sure many would find this film far too slow with very little happening but I would definitely watch any further films from Kogonada based on what I’ve seen so far. – 7.5/10

The Lodge – Really liked this slow burn psychological horror (but it’s exactly the type of thing I always enjoy). Good story and even better characters & performances. Really appreciated that the younger characters, played by Jaeden Martell & Lia McHugh, felt very real especially in their grief. Riley Keough was also great as the new fiancée the kids don’t trust. And I always love a slightly creepy doll or dollhouse. – 7/10

Men – I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror. I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained. 

Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022. – 7/10

Scream (2022) – Thought this was one of the better recent horror, um, reboots/sequels/reimaginings/requels?? But maybe my standards are just very low as I think the majority are utter shit. It might help that, while I think the first Scream is great & a horror classic, I now don’t have much memory of any of its sequels & overall just never loved Scream to the same degree as A Nightmare On Elm Street (I’m old). So I didn’t mind seeing another Scream film setting up new characters & enjoyed this much more than other recent reboots or whatever-the-hell-they-are such as Halloween & Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The killer reveal wasn’t at all surprising & the movie is pretty much just a rehash of the original Scream film but does it really matter? The new characters were fine & it will probably get a new generation into this series. I’ll certainly watch the next one but it would be great if it tried to do something a little less predictable. 

And I agree with the Jenna Ortega character’s horror movie taste. I love The Babadook too. 7/10

Studio 666 – This looked like it would be bad bad instead of good bad so I had low expectations even though I love Dave Grohl & heavy metal & horror comedies. This movie was a blast. It’s not GREAT bad, like Road House, but it’s pure cheesy horror comedy fun. The acting was gloriously atrocious and you could tell that these guys must have had so many laughs while making this. It was also great seeing Taylor Hawkins (RIP) goofing off with Dave once again. A couple of the kills were hilariously inventive and I loved the movie band Dream Widow’s music (recorded by Grohl as a whole metal album because there’s nothing that dude can’t do). – 7/10

Troll – This film follows every monster movie cliché imaginable… Which is EXACTLY what I want from a monster movie. It also has really likeable characters, funny nerds, a cute military guy and, most importantly, Norwegians & a massive troll. Therefore, I enjoyed it much more than most current Hollywood monster movies. – 7/10

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Enjoyed this but Knives Out was far superior so I did find it disappointing. It felt like it was trying too hard to be “wacky” and was just a bit too silly for me. The mystery also felt like an afterthought as the focus was more on how many big name stars they could get to play caricatures. This is sounding way more negative than it should… Glass Onion was fine. It was fun. It was just a little too goofy. I’d happily watch another Knives Out Mystery, though. I just want the next one to be more like the first film. – 6.5/10

Marry Me – I liked this fine. Was better than I was expecting considering I didn’t even know it existed. Why have romcoms like this completely disappeared from cinemas? Not my favorite genre but I do miss these kind of movies from when they were mainstream & had big stars like in this one. Jennifer Lopez is good as a famous pop star (okay, not much of a stretch) who decides to marry random dude Owen Wilson in the audience at one of her concerts. The relationship is believable enough and they have surprisingly decent chemistry even though Lopez is entirely out of Wilson’s league. Still like Maid In Manhattan more but this was an enjoyably predictable romcom that I shouldn’t have discovered buried on one of my streaming services. – 6.5/10

A Christmas Story Christmas – Being an American of a certain age, A Christmas Story is a Christmas Classic to me. I still clearly remember going to see it in the cinema when it was released & remember how much my dad & the audience were loving it. Was a little heartbroken when I moved to the U.K. and found that no one here likes it or even knows of it (my hubby hates it). So I was kind of excited to see a sequel all these years later but of course also very nervous as it had the potential to go very wrong. 

I’d say it hasn’t done any damage to the original but, as with most of these sort of sequels, it also didn’t feel necessary. It was nice seeing so many of the original cast again in the same roles. Julie Hagerty replacing Melinda Dillon threw me out of things a bit, though. She was fine – I just hate different actors playing the same character. I had enough of that in American soap operas. The fan service scenes, and there were a lot, were fine by me. It’s a Christmas favorite & people just want to see the same thing again. To do anything too different from the original is too much of a risk with something like this so they played it very safe. It makes it a little boring, though. It’s pleasant & heartwarming & of course Christmassy but I’d feel no need to watch it again. I’ll stick with rewatching the original if I want to get into the Christmas spirit. – 6.5/10

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande – I wish Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually could have had a Leo Grande. Thompson & Daryl McCormack are great together in this and he’s so damn handsome. A pleasurable film. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. – 7/10

Barbarian – Damn. Another big 2022 disappointment. This was an odd one. I wanted to love it as I liked the look of that cool red poster, it sounded like it would be the weird & unpredictable sort of horror I love, and Bill Skarsgård is my new favorite Skarsgård. The film started out great. It was unsettling & I was intrigued as to what might be going on plus Georgina Campbell & Bill Skarsgård were both really good in this. I liked it a lot & was really digging its vibe. And then Justin Long’s annoying character showed up & the entire thing went completely off the rails until that absolute train wreck of an ending. 

I’m struggling with what to rate this one as I’m honestly not sure if I absolutely hated this movie or if I actually kind of liked it for indeed being slightly weird & unpredictable. I’m always complaining that too many horror movies are boring & unoriginal so I have to give this one credit for being a bit different. But it really feels like two or three movies spliced up & stuck together and I so wish the whole film had managed to live up to its start. At the very least, I’ll say I’d certainly watch another movie from Zach Cregger as I’d be interested to see what else he has to offer. – 6/10

Shiva Baby – Another movie that didn’t live up to its cool poster. I do like dark comedy revolving around awkward social situations as I can always relate to being socially awkward so I enjoyed some of that here & really liked the parents. But I do struggle with characters who are just a little too unlikeable & self-absorbed so that was a bit frustrating. Rachel Sennott was very good in this, though – I’d be interested in seeing her in another role. I thought the film was well acted, it portrayed the pressure so often put on us by friends & family accurately, and it had an interesting score from what I can remember. It’s the type of film I can say I appreciated more than actually enjoyed. A “worth a one-time watch” movie for me. – 6.5/10

Your Christmas Or Mine? – Wow, I didn’t realise there were so many Christmas romance movies. This one was cute enough, with a young couple deciding last minute to each go to the other person’s house for Christmas & then getting stranded & having to spend it with people they’d not yet met. Hilarity ensues! The girl’s family were really likeable & the story was extremely predictable but that’s what you want from a Christmas romcom, right? Worth watching once to get into the Christmas spirit but not one I’d add to my list of movies to watch every December. 6/10

Uncharted – An inoffensive & forgettable Indiana Jones crossed with The Goonies. But, you know, not nearly as good or as enjoyable as either of those. It passed the time. I saw it about a week ago & I’m already forgetting what happened in it besides some really dodgy OTT action shit involving planes & flying ships. – 6/10

My Father’s Dragon – This was fine. It’s very “cute” and aimed quite young, which is a shame as it won’t appeal to all ages as much. I found the story a bit messy. The dragon was funny but in that borderline annoying kind of way (reminded me of Olaf from Frozen). Didn’t realize until finishing that it was a Cartoon Saloon film. It has some nice animation but it’s not in the same league as others from the studio such as The Secret Of Kells & Wolfwalkers. – 6/10

The Bad Guys – Shouldn’t say much about this as I had it on while wrapping some gifts so admit I wasn’t paying much attention. It seemed like a decent enough heist movie with an extremely predictable story & villain but was probably fun for kids while also being fairly entertaining for their parents. Can’t say it made me want to stop what I was doing to fully watch it or to bother rewatching it at any point. I liked the snake dressed like he was in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, though. – 6/10

About Fate – A romcom as predictable as expected but the setup at the start of the movie was cute enough. The characters had okay chemistry but the Emma Roberts character was too flaky for me to like and everyone kept making annoyingly bad decisions. There’s also a hateful influencer but at least she’s seen as the shallow baddie. The coat story was nice, though. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10

Rosaline – I’ve clearly been trying to watch what I can of 2022 releases on services before this year ends. This was fine but yet another film I only watched as it’s a 2022 film on services & I’m not going to the cinema anymore to see what I most want to see. I’ve watched way too many movies that I wouldn’t have even bothered watching in the cinema. Depressing.

I appreciated the story in this, though. At least it felt original, which I can’t say of many current films. But I found most the characters slightly annoying including Kaitlyn Dever’s, who was fine in the role, but I’m not really a fan of any of her work that I’ve seen. To be fair, as I was watching this to “cross it off a list” at the last minute before the New Year, I probably didn’t give it much of a chance & wasn’t giving it my full attention. I just wish I could’ve seen more of the movies I really wanted to see in 2022. – 5.5/10

The Northman – Tweeted five minutes into watching this thing that “I don’t have the patience for this shit”. And now I don’t have the patience for this review. That’s three Robert Eggers films I’ve suffered through now & I still can’t figure out what everyone sees in them. But I’ve decided that Bill Skarsgård is my favorite Skarsgård. – 5/10

Zola – Knew this was based on a Twitter thread so figured it must be a fascinating story to have been made into a movie. I was bored & the characters were annoying as hell. I’ve read many Twitter threads that were far more interesting than this story. It felt like this wanted to be a “smart” Spring Breakers (which I enjoyed for some bizarre reason) but this just felt even more shallow & pointless. To sound less negative, I’ll say that Taylour Paige & Riley Keough were good in the roles. But I couldn’t wait for the film to end. And then it didn’t even give us a proper ending anyway… – 5/10

White Noise – I’ve not logged this film on Letterboxd as I didn’t watch it but it’s worth a mention here. I’ll watch any old shit & in my desperation to see more 2022 releases that I can watch at home, I put this on despite already knowing I tend to hate Noah Baumbach films. Think I managed maybe fifteen minutes? Good Lord, this thing was fucking unwatchable. Absolute torture. It’s not often that I completely give up on a movie so it’s getting the first ever Cinema Parrot Disco zero rating – 0/10

Shorts & Specials Watched In December:

Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery – This was pretty dumb.

Rewatched some of my usual Christmas favorites: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol & Home Alone.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN DECEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Alice In Borderland: S2 – I complained a bit about season 1 of this as, while it started out very strong, I didn’t like the final few episodes when the focus was no longer on the games & they spent far too long on unimportant & annoying characters. But this show really picked up again in season two & I ended up liking this entire show a lot. In fact, we’ve started rewatching it again from the start as it’s the kind of story where, once you get the full explanation (which you luckily DO), it’s good to rewatch from the start with a new perspective. Good stuff. Glad season two got back to the games, some of which were really cool, and back to characters we actually care about. Highly recommend if you liked Squid Game (but that one is still superior).

The White Lotus: S2 E6-7 – Really enjoyed both seasons of this. I think the first season was a bit better but this one was still good too & the characters were great. Loved Jennifer Coolidge in both of these. Hope we get another season…

Wednesday: S1 E2-8 – Liked this show just fine. Daughter was very into it. I’d watch more if they did another season. I saw way too much of Jenna Ortega in December, though.

Cabinet Of Curiosities: S1 E1-2 – First two episodes were okay but I wasn’t blown away. Will watch the rest when I get time.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: S1 E4-5 – Still working my way through this. Really like the two brothers but the girl is such an odd character.

The Peripheral: S1 E1 – Forgot I’d watched this. I’m intrigued but hope it gets better?

BOOKS READ

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Okay, I read another YA book but I don’t care – I like them. And I really liked this one & thought it was one of the better YA books I’ve read in quite a while. The twins were great & complex characters and I like how the story was told from their perspectives at different points in their lives. Good stuff. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.” – 4/5

I’m currently halfway through Fairy Tale by Stephen King & really enjoying it.

Blog Plans For The Coming Month:

Will try to post all my year end ranked lists this week if I have the energy. Very disappointing year for new movies.

I feel like I should end this post with something from the Studio 666 band Dream Widow. Happy New Year!

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022) Review

Happy New Year’s Eve! Was going to end on a couple of horror movie reviews this year but quickly wrote the below for my Letterboxd so I guess I’ll end on this one instead since it’s one of the better movies I saw in 2022… 🙂

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro & Mark Gustafson

Based on The Adventures of Pinocchio
by Carlo Collodi

Starring: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, Tim Blake Nelson, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton

Music by Alexandre Desplat

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Loosely based on the 1883 Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, and strongly influenced by Gris Grimly’s illustrations for a 2002 edition of the book, it reimagines the story of Pinocchio, a wooden puppet who comes to life as the son of his carver Geppetto, as “a story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations, learning the true meaning of life” set in Fascist Italy during the interwar period and World War II.

My Opinion:

This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.

Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.

Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years.

My Rating: 8/10

Barbarian (2022) Review

I wanted to end the year with two 2022 horror movies I found interesting. I reviewed Men yesterday & today is a film a lot of people raved over & I really didn’t want to be disappointed…

Barbarian (2022)

Directed & Written by Zach Cregger

Starring: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot sees a woman find out that the rental house she reserved has been accidentally double-booked with a man, while not knowing of a dark secret within the dwelling.

My Opinion:

Damn. Another big 2022 disappointment. This was an odd one. I wanted to love it as I liked the look of that cool red poster, it sounded like it would be the weird & unpredictable sort of horror I love, and Bill Skarsgård is my new favorite Skarsgård.

The film started out great. It was unsettling & I was intrigued as to what might be going on plus Georgina Campbell & Bill Skarsgård were both really good in this. I liked it a lot & was really digging its vibe. And then Justin Long’s annoying character showed up & the entire thing went completely off the rails until that absolute train wreck of an ending. 

I’m struggling with what to rate this one as I’m honestly not sure if I absolutely hated this movie or if I actually kind of liked it for indeed being slightly weird & unpredictable. I’m always complaining that too many horror movies are boring & unoriginal so I have to give this one credit for being a bit different. But it really feels like two or three movies spliced up & stuck together and I so wish the whole film had managed to live up to its start. At the very least, I’ll say I’d certainly watch another movie from Zach Cregger as I’d be interested to see what else he has to offer.

My Rating: 6/10

Men (2022) Review

I’m going to end 2022 with a quickie review today & tomorrow of two horror films I found disappointing but interesting. And I always appreciate interesting, even if the film isn’t great…

Men (2022)

Directed & Written by Alex Garland

Starring: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu, Gayle Rankin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Men stars Jessie Buckley as a widowed woman who travels on holiday to a countryside village but becomes disturbed and tormented by the strange men in the village, all portrayed by Rory Kinnear.

My Opinion:

I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror.

I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained.

Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022.

My Rating: 7/10

*this rating is probably far too generous*

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2022

Oops. Guess I better post this before the end of the year. And I’ll try to finish the year by posting what I watched in December but probably gonna need a break after that. 🙂

MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):

Drifting Home – Really enjoyed this. It’s a pretty typical anime with young characters who can be overly dramatic but I really liked the creative story & themes of memory, loss, and friendship. Starts out a little slow but really gets going once they start “drifting” away and there was some lovely animation. One of my favorite 2022 releases that I’ve seen. – 7.5/10

Anomalisa – I appreciate most of Charlie Kaufman’s work but can’t say I’ve ever loved any of it. Anomalisa really worked for me, though. I’m not sure why. Think I could relate to the film’s main character in some ways & I liked Lisa (am also a fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh so that helped too). Am always happy to see a film that feels unique & I really liked the story. Glad I finally gave this one a chance. 

Oh – I also liked seeing “Starburns Industries” as the production company which made me go “Ha! Like Star-Burns in Community!” then finding out later that was actually the case as it was co-founded by Community creator Dan Harmon & Star-Burns himself Dino Stamatopoulos. So, hey – I like the Community link because that show rules. – 8/10

Glengarry Glen Ross – ACTORS ACTING.

I didn’t know just how many big names were in this but, when I looked it up, it was seeing Jack Lemmon’s name that made me hit the Play button. Wow, he was great. Everyone in this was clearly trying for an Oscar nomination so I was very surprised to see that only Al Pacino was nominated just for being, well, Al Pacino yet again. They all deserve recognition for these roles but I thought Lemmon, Baldwin & Pacino (even though he’s just being Pacino) especially stood out. 

If you like plays & intense ACTING from some all-time great actors, this is the film for you. It’s not really the type of film for me & not one I’d rewatch but I’ve rated it highly for the performances & the script & for Jack Lemmon. Well worth watching just to see these guys in action. – 7.5/10

Relic – This was good. Reminded me a lot of another recent(ish) Australian horror The Babadook, which I absolutely loved & was also a very clever allegory (or is it a metaphor?! I always confuse those!). This is the type of “horror” I like. Found it quite heartbreaking. Need more horror films like this one. – 7/10

My Summer Of Love – Enjoyed this English countryside drama with strong performances from Natalie Press as a working class girl who falls for rich girl Emily Blunt in her debut film role (and naked). Paddy Considine is also good as the born-again Christian brother of Press. Liked the relationship & how the film ended. From the director of Cold War. Check it out on BBC iPlayer. – 7/10

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – This was fun. Liked that it was a parody of a biography, which is the only thing that would make sense for a Weird Al movie. Especially liked the stuff with Madonna & some fun cameos. It’s not as good as his music videos, though, and certainly not in the same league as something like This Is Spinal Tap. But certainly worth a watch for Weird Al fans. – 6.5/10

My Policeman – This was fine. I liked the story (I always love years of yearning) but the complete lack of chemistry between all the characters meant that the story didn’t have the emotional impact that I’m sure it probably had in the book. Everyone mentions Harry Styles but I was equally unimpressed with most of the performances except for maybe David Dawson’s. An okay film but may have been better with different leads. – 6.5/10

The Wonder – Good atmosphere & could have used a lot more of the eerie music which I quite liked. Not gonna lie, though: “Florence Pugh” & “Period Drama” are two things that aren’t going to get me excited about watching a movie. Not my type of thing at all but this was an intriguing story, the young girl was good, and I liked the conclusion. Hated how they started & finished the film, though. Totally threw me out of the movie. – 6.5/10

See How They Run – This movie, as most 2022 streaming releases, was okay. But that’s the problem… I’m so bored with okay movies. At least the ones I really hate tend to be more memorable. I thought Sam Rockwell & Saoirse Ronan worked really well together, though, which made this somewhat dull mystery far more watchable than it would have been without them. There’s some fun humor too. Certainly not a bad film but I know I’ll forget it even exists in a year. – 6.5/10

Disenchanted – Wow, this was terrible. I shouldn’t “review” it as I fell asleep & missed a big chunk in the middle but I refuse to rewatch it. I saw enough to know I don’t want it to ruin the fun & original first film so I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist just like I do with the Disney live-action remakes. Still love Amy Adams, though. She’s still lovely & did what she could with this absolute mess. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched In November:

Father Of The Bride – Watched this with the family. Been many years since I last saw this one. I’d say it’s actually held up better than some of the early ‘90s rom-coms. We could use more good father/daughter family films. This is sweet without being overly saccharine. The only annoying bit was when she freaked out over a blender. What?! I don’t remember us being offended by trivial things back in 1991. Also… Steve Martin’s family are meant to be “middle class” compared to the fiancé’s family but live in a big gorgeous house in a lovely neighborhood and can afford a ridiculously expensive wedding. Cry me a river! My daughter loved Martin Short, though. Think she’s a fan since seeing Martin & Short together in Only Murders In The Building. His character is fun & does threaten to steal the whole show in this film. – 7/10

Shorts Watched In November:

Zen – Grogu & Dust BunniesStudio Ghibli & Grogu?! Two of my favorite things ever?!? My heart just about exploded when I watched this. Now if they could add in Totoro, R2-D2, WALL-E & Snoopy I’d need no new media to ever be made again. Loved this. So adorable & peaceful. And Ludwig Göransson‘s score is brilliant (as always). Works beautifully with the Ghibli style.

The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special – This was…. Not great. Very cheesy. But did like seeing more of Drax & Mantis together.

Minions & More – Yeah, I like the minions. I don’t care. I think they’re funny.

The Wonderful Autumn Of Mickey Mouse – Bit of an odd one… Wasn’t really a fan. Give me old school Mickey Mouse.

Zootopia Shorts – Meh. Not big on the movie but these shorts were fine (except that dumb Real Housewives one because god I can’t stand that type of shit…)

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER

Been watching quite a bit of TV. Which is fine but it’s cutting into movie-time. 🙂

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The White Lotus: S2 E1-5 – Really liked the first series & feel the same about this one. Good characters & I always like a murder mystery where you don’t know who ends up being the victim. But, mainly, it’s all about Jennifer Coolidge. Love her. Best thing about The White Lotus.

Wednesday: S1 E1 – Think we’d only seen one episode in November but now seen through episode 5. Enjoying the story and the characters are growing on me. Teen daughter seems to love it so that makes me happy.

Andor: S1 E9-12 – Ended up thinking this was a really good series overall after a few episodes I wasn’t feeling so much. All the prison stuff & the funeral were fantastic. A very strong couple of episodes at the end of this series.

House Of The Dragon: S1 E8-10 – Was gonna write more about this now I’m finished but can’t be arsed. 🙂 It’s fine but definitely inferior to Game Of Thrones. Much better character development in Thrones. I’ll again say I far preferred the younger Rhaenyra. And the incest is just fucking nuts in this one. Game Of Thrones was bad enough with that. Ew.

Also been rewatching the pilots of various old ’70s & ’80s shows on YouTube for the nostalgia. Never see this stuff re-run in the U.K. Very much missing the sitcoms of my youth. Really enjoyed rewatching the pilots of It’s Your Move, The Facts Of Life, Benson & Taxi.

BOOKS READ

Gwendy’s Final Task by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar – Ended up really enjoying this trilogy (review of first book here and second book here). It’s one of those made much better by turning the story into a trilogy & really getting to know the character of Gwendy. I liked how they went all out in the final book. I mean, she manages to get herself up into space in order to try to finally rid the planet of the dangerous button box. That could’ve turned out ridiculous but I thought it worked well & I always love a story set in space. Also enjoyed King having fun with the rich asshole character who is SO obviously modelled on Tr*mp. – 3.5/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Gonna try to catch up on watching as many 2022 films as I can before the year ends. Man, 2022 has been another shit year for movies! Massively disappointing. As far as what’s made it to streaming, at least. Hoping some of what I missed in cinemas was good.

As I adored Ghibli Grogu & Ludwig Göransson‘s score, I need to end with a clip of that music:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2022

Guess I better post my October roundup before it’s time to post my November one.

I don’t know if many people are still around on WordPress but I’ve set up a new Mastodon account here. I don’t plan to give up this blog – just going through a tough time. Am still on Twitter as well for now as @tableninemutant but am most active here on Letterbxd as it’s just so easy to log movies there. Re-posting all my October Letterbxd reviews below…

MOVIES WATCHED IN OCTOBER (ranked best to worst):

Memories Of Murder – Was very happy to see this on Film4. I’d been wanting to watch it even though I’ve never absolutely loved one of Bong Joon-ho‘s films. I do think Parasite is very good & I really like The Host so I was willing to give more of his work a try despite not liking Snowpiercer & Okja. I’m also not a fan of true-crime-inspired murder films, especially involving sexual violence as well, but this was very gripping & I thought it was damn good despite being a genre I often avoid. Due to the subject matter it again won’t exactly be a favorite of mine but it easily ranks just a fraction below Parasite for me. I think it maybe just takes a bit of getting used to his flawed & not always likeable characters to appreciate his films more. His type of characters worked perfectly in this & in Parasite so I can see why they seem to be the most popular of his films. I feel I have a slightly better understanding of his work now since watching this & Barking Dogs Never Bite (also on Film4 & also worth a watch). – 8/10

Rhapsody In August – I can’t believe I accidentally watched an Akira Kurosawa film. Absolutely love his films Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Rashômon & Yojimbo so have had all the rest of his biggest films on my watchlist for a long time now. I liked the sound of this 1991 Japanese film with Richard Gere, which focuses on the effects of the atomic bomb on three generations of a family, so I started watching it before even realising it was a Kurosawa. It’s a lovely film & I really liked the grandmother and her relationship with the grandkids she’s looking after while their parents are visiting family in America. Definitely worth a watch, especially for Kurosawa fans. Currently on services in the U.K. – 7.5/10

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – I’m a huge Stephen King fan & try to watch every adaptation of his work (I ranked them all here). Really liked this novella from the recent If It Bleeds collection & literally started watching this the second it appeared on Netflix. So I’m obviously going to be overly positive as I tend to like even the bad King adaptations (and there are many bad ones) but I thought this was good & faithful to the book. Jaeden Martell, who was also in the fantastic 2017 version of It, and Donald Sutherland were very good together & I especially liked Kirby Howell-Baptiste as the helpful teacher. This is more of a thriller than a horror so it may not be what some are expecting if they’ve not read the story but it’s still very “King”. I enjoyed it. One of the better straight-to-streaming movies this year. – 7.5/10

Everything Everywhere All At Once – Was very eager to get to finally see this after all the hype & seeing it at the top of so many 2022 movie lists. It looked like it could very much be my type of thing & I do love a good “weird” film. Wow – what a massive disappointment. Am I just getting too picky in my old age or is everyone else getting less picky? I’ve been very disappointed with the most hyped films the past few years but was really hoping this one would be different.

Don’t get me wrong – I did get some enjoyment out of this & always appreciate when something is unique & unpredictable. I always prefer a memorable film, even when bad, to the many bland movies which I can’t even remember a year later. Michelle Yeoh was great and there were many memorable moments that the hubby & I have already referenced a few times since watching this. It was certainly weird, which I like, but I found the story & message to be such a convoluted mess overall that it started to feel like a chore just to make it through to the end. It’s a film I’m glad I watched & experienced to see what all the fuss was about but I’d have no desire to ever watch it again. – 6.5/10

Barking Dogs Never Bite – Watched this just after Memories Of Murder & think I’m starting to appreciate Bong Joon-ho‘s work a little more now. While this one isn’t nearly as good as Memories Of Murder, it still has his typical sort of flawed characters that work so well in (most of) his movies. The only times I’ve not liked his films were when the characters were too over-the-top in Snowpiercer & Okja but this film is much more subtle. Probably not one I’d watch again but certainly worth a one-time watch to see his early work. – 6.5/10

The Company Of Wolves – RIP to the fantastic Angela Lansbury. Always loved her & managed to finally see this one just before her death. She’s perfect as Granny. This is a very odd film & I’m not sure it has aged well but I enjoyed it & can see why it will have fans who saw this one back in the ‘80s when they were kids. Am sure I’d appreciate it more if I’d seen it then. It’s slow & dated but has some fun dream sequences & special effects & creepy horniness. Worth finally seeing but don’t think it’ll be a horror favorite of mine now. – 6.5/10

Catherine Called Birdy – Well this was far more enjoyable than I was expecting. Bella Ramsey aka GoT’s Lyanna Mormont absolutely steals the show as a medieval teenager trying to avoid being married off by her father. It’s a fun coming of age story for girls with a funny & relatable teenage character as well as plenty of humor to be appreciated by adults seeing this too. Worth a watch. And for fans, I believe there are at least five Game Of Thrones actors in this (or more if I missed any). – 6.5/10

The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent – Like Everything Everywhere All At Once, this was a big disappointment after a fair amount of hype. Both films were… Just okay? I think you do have to be a Nicolas Cage fan to fully appreciate this one. I’d say I neither like nor dislike him but do like his film choices, such as the brilliant Mandy. So I did enjoy some of the film references but thought the plot wasn’t nearly as clever as Being John Malkovich and I got a bit bored. I also found his talking to one of his movie characters really stupid – It seems like that should have worked but it didn’t. And that dumb kiss. I think the movie tries a bit too hard at times & not hard enough at other times. Hell, if you’re gonna do a movie like this that’s clearly for big Nicolas Cage fans, you might as well go all out with even more fan service than what they had (which was still plenty). With Cage being known for being the crazy dude in so many movies, it was kind of disappointing that this movie wasn’t as weird and over-the-top as I was expecting. – 6.5/10

X – Not sure how I feel about Ti West. I’ve liked but never loved his films. Thought The House Of The Devil was the best & captured that era well. Didn’t think that worked as well with this one trying for a late ‘70s porn vibe. Guess people just liked watching the porn sex?? I thought the story was ridiculously dumb & I didn’t care about any of the characters. Mia Goth did well in her dual role, I guess. Pearl looks like it may be a little more interesting since we got absolutely zero character development in this film. X isn’t terrible but I’d have no desire to ever watch it again. Easily my least favorite Ti West film. – 6/10

Pinocchio (2022) – Yeah… This is pretty bad but I’d had such extremely low expectations that I kind of didn’t hate it. Honestly, I hated the live action Beauty And The Beast much more. Maybe because I really love that animated film but Pinocchio isn’t a big favorite? But I like the story & the overall story is still the same, so… I don’t know what else to say. What’s the point?? These live action Disney remakes are just so bloody pointless. I liked the blatant Disney cuckoo clocks, though. Pathetic, I know. But I want some of those. – 5.5/10

Matriarch – This was pretty bad. It’s one of those horror movies that might be a bit better if every single character wasn’t so damn hateful. Why would I care what happens to the horrible woman in this? I’ll give it this: It gets pretty f*^king weird at the end & I appreciated the Society vibes. But what started out as a fairly creepy film became silly at the end as it got too ridiculous. – 5/10

Blonde – This movie looks nice & Ana de Armas is good at being pretty & tortured but what is the point of this story? I admit I know almost nothing about Marilyn Monroe’s life so I should have just avoided this but I had to see why everyone was so outraged. Why take a real person & make up a bunch of stuff? Why not just create a fictional character & make your rape, abuse & forced-abortion movie without using a dead iconic movie star’s name? Oh yeah – because no one would watch that movie. And I hate people saying “But it’s fictional!”. Yes, us obsessive film fans know that. We look into this kind of info. But the casual movie-watching audience don’t. So there will be plenty of people who saw this & now will think this is her true life story.

I only fairly recently started exploring Monroe’s work & she really had that special something that a lot of the old classic movie stars had that so few have today. Which I guess is why there’s still such an obsession with her all these years later but, FFS, let the woman rest in peace. She deserves better than this. Just watch her movies instead of Blonde. I saw something on Twitter about Blonde’s director trashing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is an absolutely delightful film so I assume that statement was made just to cause further outrage. I’m annoyed that I fell for all the controversy that was clearly stirred up on purpose just to get us all to watch this. Sorry, Marilyn! – 4.5/10

Rewatched In October:

Final Destination – Still think this movie had a great & original idea, which is something I’d like a lot more of in horror. First rewatch in many years & I think it still stands up very well. Easily my favorite of those I’ve seen (1, 2 & 3). I can see why they kept using this idea over & over again even though horror sequels get tiresome. The next two were okay, though. – 7.5/10

Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead – This movie is silly but it came out when I was in high school so I liked it. It so clearly wanted to be Adventures In Babysitting from a few years before but it pales in comparison to that masterpiece (yes, I adore that movie). This is still a fun but dated comedy. The daughter seemed to enjoy it. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

House Of The Dragon: S1 E1-7 – Enjoyed this (finished it in November). But! It’s certainly no Game Of Thrones when that was at its best in the early seasons. The characters aren’t nearly as likeable nor as interesting as they were in GoT but, hell, not many shows can beat a character as good as Tyrion Lannister. Or a family as cool as the Starks. Will say a bit more about this show in the November Roundup post. Maybe. I’ll just say this: I far preferred the younger Rhaenyra, Milly Alcock, to the older one played by Emma D’Arcy. But I often hate changes in actors, such as when everyone got replaced in The Crown. Both Alicents were good, though, and Paddy Considine was great. But, again, I can’t keep these millions of characters straight, just as with GoT. And the fuckers in this one all have such similar names, which really didn’t help either.

Andor: S1 E5-8 – Forget which episode was which as I’ve now seen more than just these. I’ll say this show started strong, then I got a tiny bit bored, then the stuff in the prison was great & I’m really enjoying it again. It’s a very strong Star Wars entry (and I still think it’s better than The Book Of Boba Fett & Obi-Wan Kenobi, probably because it isn’t messing with beloved OT characters in the same way).

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: S1 E1-3 – An intriguing South Korean show I’m in the middle of watching with my daughter (a rewatch for her – she loves it).

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E8 – Said a lot about this in last month’s roundup so I’ll just say again that I enjoyed this show. Was a good bit of lightweight fun. And I liked the final episode, especially when she asked about the X-Men.

BOOKS READ

Have a collection of horror short stories from various authors so read the 3 Stephen King shorts in it. Think I’d read two of them in other collections:

Reploids – Don’t think I’d read this before. Fun story but ended SO abruptly…

Dedication – One of King’s more fucked-up stories but still, um, intriguing I guess. Leave it up to King to think this one up. Also saw a quite good short film of this as part of his “Dollar Babies” deal. Kudos to the actress willing to play this role.

Sneakers – Enjoyable story about a ghost haunting a recording studio

Can’t remember any good songs from the movies I saw in October so I’ll end instead with the real Marilyn Monroe’s iconic Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend from the delightful Gentlemen Prefer Blondes:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2022

Hey all! I saw some good movies in September because some decent ones actually popped up on my services. Yay! 🙂 But life still sucks.

Oh – Happy October! I wasn’t up to doing a Halloween Horror Month this year.

Here we go with what I watched last month…

MOVIES WATCHED IN SEPTEMBER (ranked best to worst):

The Red Shoes – The Red Shoes is yet another absolutely beautiful piece of work from Powell & Pressburger This is the third film of theirs that I’ve seen. I first saw A Matter Of Life And Death a few years ago & was blown away. That film should as well known as the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life but I’d not even heard of it while living in America. So I then watched Black Narcissus which was also stunning & have been desperate to see The Red Shoes ever since. I was delighted to see it pop up on BBC iPlayer (available 16 more days if you’re in the U.K., FYI. I highly recommend).

I’ve been back & forth on if this or Black Narcissus would rank second after A Matter Of Life And Death for me. I think Black Narcissus has the edge as, quite literally, the visuals of that bell on the edge of that gorgeous cliff will stay with me forever & I loved the overall look and mood of that whole film. The Red Shoes is a very close third, though. The only thing that lets it down slightly is that it’s all about the performance of the Red Shoes ballet in the middle of the film, which is easily one of the greatest dance numbers I’ve ever seen in a film. Maybe the very best. It’s breathtakingly perfect. So I think the rest of the film just doesn’t quite manage to live up to that big moment but the story is still good and there are other great visuals & dance moments to enjoy. And, man, I loved her red hair & how that looked with those red shoes. They truly don’t make them like this anymore… – 8.5/10

Santa Sangre – Where do I start with this?! It’s an Alejandro Jodorowsky film so I guess I got what I was expecting. It’s violent, utterly bizarre, and strangely fascinating. I want to watch every film he’s made (as well as those he didn’t – his Dune would have been insane).

Think I slightly prefer El Topo mainly because it’s even weirder (which is saying something). Santa Sangre has an almost coherent story in comparison – It’s really just an even more fucked-up Psycho. I do absolutely love a circus setting so enjoyed that a lot & really liked the mime/tightrope girl who befriends the main character (again played by a couple of Jodorowsky‘s sons). I liked that part of the story & as always liked watching something so strange & completely unpredictable.

I think this film has grown on me since I watched it. Maybe I actually prefer it to El Topo. It’s one of those films where I want to do a separate full review with lots of images as there are so many interesting ones but I’m too lazy so I’ll just stick two extra images below. I’ll certainly never forget either of the two films of Jodorowsky’s that I’ve seen so far, which is something I appreciate. Guess I need to finally see The Holy Mountain now too. – 8/10

Thor: Love And Thunder – I have serious superhero burnout but I like the content enough to continue to watch all the Marvel films & TV shows. Some are good, some are not-so-good, but I wouldn’t really care if they stopped making them all. With the movies, I prefer when they don’t take things so seriously. I find many of the dark & dreary superhero movies pathetic (but that’s not the MCU). So I loved Guardians Of The Galaxy & I enjoyed when Thor went “silly” with Ragnarok as, quite frankly, the character of Thor was pretty but bloody boring before Ragnarok. But this one looked like it was going to be a little too silly & reviews seemed very mixed so I had low expectations.

I enjoyed this. Ragnarok is still better & this does indeed get a little too silly at times but I liked the villain’s & Jane’s stories. Christian Bale was a fantastic villain (and I’m not a Bale fan). I also thought they handled Portman’s role in this very well without it feeling like forced “girl power” which just doesn’t work. I wanted much more of Thor with the Guardians Of The Galaxy as I think they’re hilarious together but at least we got a little bit. Liked the jealousy thing with Thor’s weapons, too. And the nudity. And all the Guns N’ Roses making me feel like I was back in high school (I’ve just dated myself).

This was fun & a better film than I expected. It’s not gonna win any Oscars. I can absolutely see why some would love it & some would hate it as the sillier side of the MCU isn’t for everyone. I think it helps to balance out some pretty damn depressing stuff going on too. Poor Thor has had a terrible time & watching him go through all this tragedy with absolutely no humour would turn this into the dark & dreary type of superhero movie I can’t stand. At the moment, I’d rank this just outside of my MCU top ten (all ranked here). But I may change my mind & it could move down slightly. – 7.5/10

Cyrano – Liked this much more than I was expecting. I don’t know the story of Cyrano de Bergerac all that well (mainly just the Steve Martin Roxanne version, sorry!) so it’s not a story I mind them messing with as it doesn’t mean much to me. Peter Dinklage is easily the best thing about this & I liked him a lot as Cyrano. Haley Bennett is also good as Roxanne & seemed to be a far better singer than her male co-stars (by the way, I recommend watching her in the great film Swallow). The songs in Cyrano weren’t very memorable but I find that’s the case with most modern musicals. Overall, Dinklage & Bennett and the unique tragic love story make this worth watching but I’m not sure I loved it as a musical. The film is far from perfect but it still has plenty going for it to give it a watch. – 7/10

No Retreat, No Surrender – Continuing my over-30-years-late JCVD obsession, I found this godawful delight from 1985. A bullied teenage boy is visited & trained by the ghost of his idol Bruce Lee. Seriously. I kind of loved this. Pure ‘80s cheese, which always makes me nostalgic. The only downside is that JCVD is barely in this. Plus he’s a baddie. I like ass-kicking mullet-head sexy-splits good-guy Van Damme. This one deserves two extra images too. Look at the beautiful pure-eighties-ness of that photo with the boombox! And we gotta see JCVD doing the sexy splits again… – 6.5/10

A Walk In The Clouds – A Keanu Reeves movie I never saw?! This was fine. Liked the story & the romance. Not always big on romance films but, man, I love the idea of engaging in some sexy grape-stomping with Keanu. Nice. (It didn’t turn into a full-on grape orgy like in Seconds, though. Sorry Film Miasma & Podferatu!). This movie got so ridiculously dramatic at the end that I had to knock off half a point, though. But I still love Keanu. – 6.5/10

Paddington 2 – Everyone went on about this being the best thing since sliced (marmalade) bread so I figured I better finally watch it even though I barely remember the first film. What are you all on about?! Ha! This movie is fine. It’s very sweet. Very family-friendly. Paddington is a great character & I like the voice work, the animated stuff with the pop-up book is fantastic, the Wes Anderson-y color palette in the prison is fun, and Hugh Grant is a very good villain. Maybe I was just expecting this movie to change my life after all the Film Twitter hype. Nope! Life is still the same. – 6.5/10

Fire Island – This was good, lightweight fun. Enjoyed the two main romances. We had a good “will they or won’t they”, “love/hate” connection between two of the characters which I really enjoyed & a more romantic story with two of the others. This group of friends were a lot of fun & I’d love hanging out & playing games with them. How could that guy not instantly know the answer was Marisa Tomei?! Loved that bit.

I see this movie was inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Suppose I should put down the Stephen King for a change & finally read that one someday, huh? – 6.5/10

Do Revenge – I know I’m an old Gen-X lady but, up until just the last couple years, I still enjoyed teen movies. I could still relate to them as we all went through our teens & know how difficult they can be. The Edge Of Seventeen is a good recent(ish) example – I liked that a lot. Am I now finally out of touch? Because I can’t relate to the narcissistic shitbags in this & in Not Okay in any way whatsoever.

I did like how this started out with Clueless vibes at the school. I later wondered if part of the issue was “rich kids” because we’re all meant to hate the rich. Right? Did no one see Pretty In Pink?! But then I realized they’re rich in Clueless too but that movie is great fun and the characters are very likeable. The problem isn’t dark humor, either, as I love dark humor. I just don’t think this movie manages that well (if that’s what it’s going for?). So the most obvious comparison in that case is Heathers. Then I realized everyone is a Heather in this movie. Everyone aspires to be a Heather & assumes the audience does too. And, damn, I guess that’s accurate judging by social media & influencers. When Heathers came out, we all wanted to be Veronica. Sorry, slight spoiler: By the end you realize there’s no Veronica in this movie. So who the hell am I meant to care about in this world full of Heathers?

Oh well. I didn’t “hate” this movie as much as it seems. It had a good idea. I liked the thought of teaming up with someone to go after each other’s bullies. Who doesn’t love a good revenge movie? And the twists & turns were kind of fun up until the end when the character you thought you liked turns out to be kind of a shitbag too. And when the main character who got screwed over at the beginning still doesn’t manage to make you care about her predicament by the end since she’s only slightly less of a shitbag than she was at the start. Actually, come to think of it, the boy she hooks up with was a decent character… Guess he’s the Veronica. Their paint scene was good. And having Sarah Michelle Gellar as the headmaster was a smart move to get us old turds to watch this. Hey – they’re all rich & hateful in Cruel Intentions too but I loved that movie. Because it had one nice character & one who does stop being a shitbag at the end.

I liked this a bit more than Be Okay, at least. I didn’t find either a waste of time – I just prefer to have fewer shitbags in a movie. – 6/10

Me Time – This isn’t great but it’s also not the worst “dumb comedy” I’ve ever seen. It’s ridiculous but at least the family are likeable while husband/father Hart does stupid shit with his manchild friend Wahlberg. Not gonna lie – I liked the guy desperate to not go back to Legoland. And the stuff with the tortoise. But I won’t remember a thing about this movie in a few years. – 6/10

Horror Express – I thought this film was awful. I watched it as it stars the almighty horror icons Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing and I badly need to see much more of their work. So I settled for this on iPlayer when what I really want is for the Hammer Horror stuff to be available to me. I did very much enjoy seeing Lee & Cushing but I can’t recommend watching this for any other reason. It doesn’t even manage to be a “so bad it’s good” movie. But maybe I’m wrong – it seems to have a decent rating from other Letterboxd users. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched In September:

The Prestige – Still think this film is brilliant after another rewatch for the first time in years. I’m very much not a Christopher Nolan fan but The Prestige is his one film I do love & it’s an all-time favorite. Absolutely love the story (I don’t know how much credit Nolan can take on that as I’ve not read the book it’s based on). Jackman & Bale have such a fantastic rivalry & the film’s setting in the world of magic is great. And, of course, David Bowie is cool as hell as Tesla. Still love this film. Still hate Interstellar. – 9/10

Rogue One – When I first saw this one in the cinema, I didn’t instantly love it. But I thought I better rewatch it before Andor & I have to say this film has now gone up in my estimation quite a lot. I think that’s partly due to being so disappointed with the final two films in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, which I find I’m growing to dislike more & more as time goes by. Almost to the point where I now wish the sequel trilogy didn’t exist…

So I think I now really appreciate Rogue One as a separate story that does no damage to the original trilogy that I’ve loved since I was a kid. And, so far, I’m really liking the Andor series (more than The Book Of Boba Fett & maybe even the Obi-Wan Kenobi series). I think I’ve just had enough of them messing with beloved characters that should maybe just be left alone. I certainly loved The Mandalorian far more than the sequel trilogy, too. 

But what I’d really like is a Chirrut spin-off. Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe & Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus were great & are still my favorite characters from Rogue One. Loved K-2SO too, of course. Star Wars droids are always the best. – 8/10

Shorts, Etc:

The Simpsons: Welcome To The Club – Oh wow – I don’t even remember this now. Must have been good, huh?! These Disney Plus Simpsons shorts, especially the ones that are just Disney adverts, haven’t been great…

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN SEPTEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai: Season 5 – Still adore Cobra Kai! Yes, it’s really getting “same old same old” now. But I don’t care. It’s so much fun. And I still love Johnny. I really should’ve rewatched Karate Kid III before this series, though, as I don’t remember it so all of those characters didn’t mean anything to me.

Andor: S1 E1-4 – As above, I rewatched Rogue One because this was starting & liked it way more on a rewatch. I think this show is really good so far. Definitely better than The Book Of Boba Fett. We’ll see by the end if I also prefer it to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E3-7 – Okay. You know what? I enjoy watching this show each week. Yes, She-Hulk twerking was absolute cringe. Yes, the show is silly. It’s a sitcom, people! They’ve gone no more silly with this than with the last two Thor films. I can see why some hate this show as you’re either going to love silly Marvel or you aren’t. But the outrage online is scary. Good Lord. As an OLD woman, I can’t always relate to the very millennial & “woke” take this show often has. But as a woman I can still relate to a lot of it. I liked the wedding episode. I liked episode 7 which reminded me a lot of that great Toy Story short Small Fry where they’re all having that group therapy session. I like She-Hulk especially when she’s Jennifer Walters. She has a fun attitude but plenty of insecurities a lot of women will relate to. Is this show hated because it’s so aimed at women? I assume so. God knows. Don’t get me wrong – it’s FAR from perfect & would get an average sort of rating from me if I rated TV shows like I do movies. I don’t know – maybe 6/10? The effects look bloody awful most of the time but, ha, whatever – I grew up with the ’70s The Incredible Hulk TV show so I think I can handle that. Honestly, though, I’d be happier with some different, big-muscled woman just playing the She-Hulk version of Jennifer Walters instead of weird-looking CGI stuff. But, be honest, Hulk looks pretty shit in the MCU films too so whatever. I’m mostly annoyed that her clothes aren’t nearly baggy enough on her when she goes back to being tiny Jennifer. This show is a fun little throwaway comedy that I find entertaining for half an hour each week. Nothing to get mad about.

BOOKS READ

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This book isn’t very “me” but I have to put down the Stephen King books & the lightweight thrillers & the YA stuff and read something different occasionally. It’s a good story that would make for a really good movie so I’d like to see that happen. Man, Evelyn Hugo is a pretty hateful character, though. I normally hate that but she’s an intriguing character & I of course really went for the fact that she’s a huge movie star telling a writer her life story & it’s all about her glanorous life in the world of Hollywood filmmaking. I’ll always like movie-related stories so I liked that. Why don’t they just make a movie like the story in this book based on a fictional movie star instead of using Marilyn Monroe & making up a bunch of untrue crap about her? – 3/5

Here’s the ballet in The Red Shoes but I’d really recommend watching the whole movie instead:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2022

Hi all. I’m behind. Life is shitty. Thank god for movies! Wish more of them were better, though. Well, most of these weren’t too bad. Here’s what I watched back in August…

MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):

Top Gun: Maverick – Finally managed to make it to see this. Have liked Top Gun since going to see it in 1986 so was excited to see what Maverick was going to be like all these years later (and if he was still as cocky).

Thought this was a great sequel. They stayed very true to his character and, although there’s admittedly lots of fan service, I thought it was all done very well & will have put a smile on the face of old Top Gun fans while also being just as enjoyable for a new generation. They even managed to get sweaty men playing sexy sweaty sports together again! Jennifer Connelly looked fantastic, the new generation of pilots were a lot of fun, and Tom Cruise proved once again that he’s a true old school movie star (I miss those). And their mission was great, edge of your seat action.

The film may have been a little overhyped but I think that’s because we get so few truly great blockbuster action films these days (that don’t involve superheroes…). Growing up in the ‘80s still has me expecting to get movies like this one all the time. Where did they go? They seem to have disappeared along with the really good rom-coms. Man, I miss movies. – 8/10

Easter Parade – Finally exploring more of Judy Garland’s work & she was again a delight to watch in this. What a fantastic performer she was. And it made me realise that I’ve also shockingly not seen much of Fred Astaire‘s work either so I really need to change that. Some fun numbers in this one, especially Steppin’ Out With My Baby, We’re A Couple Of Swells & the one with Astaire dancing in the shop with the drums. Good stuff! Kind of glad I’m too broke to watch many current films so am watching a lot of older ones which put all the modern movies to shame. – 7.5/10

Prey – This was surprisingly good. I’m not like “Oh my god this is the best thing EVER and better than the first film!” like some people. What?! No way. But I’m glad people enjoyed it. I think we’re all just happy to get a straight-to-streaming film that doesn’t suck. For me, it’s my third favorite Predator film but far superior to those I’d rank after it. Sorry, I really like Predator 2! But it was great to get what felt like a fresh take on an existing story. I guess that’s the most we can hope for these days, although I’d still prefer more entirely original standalone films.

Enjoyed Amber Midthunder’s performance & of course liked seeing a strong female lead in a role that worked perfectly & didn’t feel forced (I hate forced “girl power”). Liked that it didn’t wuss out on the violence either. I might moan a bit less about sequels if they were at least as good as this one. But I also have to admit that I’d probably not watch this one again – I’d rather just rewatch the first film. – 7.5/10

Thirteen Lives – This was really good & I think Ron Howard is great at making these kind of films. Even knowing the true story & how it ended, it was intense watching that amazing rescue. What a horrible ordeal. My only complaint is that we didn’t get to know the boys at all. I wanted more stories from their lives the way they gave us some backstories of the rescuers. Was disappointed that we didn’t even see the boys for a very long time after they disappeared. I thought we’d see more of their time together in the cave & what they had to go through while trapped & not knowing if anyone would ever find them. The movie is quite long so I think they could have easily had much more character development & a little less time spent on all the technical details of the rescue. Preparing for the rescue was of course fascinating but also something we can all read about as it was such a big story when it happened. – 7.5/10

Lightyear – I adore Pixar so wasn’t sure what to expect of this one as I knew it would feel quite different from other Pixar films. I liked it far more than recent releases Turning Red, Luca & Onward but far less (of course) than Pixar’s very best films which are all-time favorite movies of mine. I do miss the days when Pixar could do no wrong. 

I did enjoy this, though, and didn’t mind that it didn’t feel like Pixar to me. I keep going back & forth on my rating – I think it’s one I could do with watching again to see if my opinion changes but I originally gave it 3.5/5 on Letterboxd as I loved the cat Sox & really liked the sweet family moments with Buzz Lightyear’s second in command & her granddaughter. At least one or two scenes involving the granddaughter contained those “touching moments” that only Pixar can do so well. So those things originally earned this movie an extra half a star but, storywise, this wasn’t anything that special and certainly not as brilliantly inventive as things like Monsters, Inc & Toy Story. And I love sci-fi so I enjoyed the setting but was still a little bored by the story & also not a fan of the ending & the villain. 

I don’t know. Still a little undecided on this one. Think I’ll definitely try to watch it again soon. If I do decide to give it an extra half star, it’ll mainly be for Sox. So at least Pixar still know how to give us a fun sidekick. Will also see if its ranking changes but for now this is my full Pixar ranking. – 7/10

I Lost My Body – This was good. Some lovely animation but incredibly sad. Telling the lead character’s story from the perspective of his severed hand was certainly unique & I liked that. Although I spent the whole time hoping it was somehow someone else’s hand when it was so obviously his but, damn, I just wanted a happy ending for this poor guy! Thought the girl was far too hard on him & that what he did was very sweet. Probably deserves a higher rating but was just too much of a downer for me, which I could do without at the moment. But I appreciate the originality in its storytelling. – 7/10

Frenzy – I became a fan of Alfred Hitchcock at a very young age when I saw Rear Window as well as the TV shows he presented, which I adored along with The Twilight Zone. But for whatever reason I had never seen Frenzy. Possibly because it appealed to me the least as I’m not a fan of serial killer or gritty true crime inspired murder movies. And I love the look of films from the ugly ‘70s but it’s not what I want from a Hitchcock film. For me, it’s his stylish ‘50s & ‘60s films that I love the most. They’re gorgeous. If I want to see ugly, dirty ‘70s horror I’ll watch a Giallo film. At least the Argento stuff is much more visually appealing than Frenzy.

Frenzy has that sort of Giallo vibe, though (I think – I’m not an expert having only seen Argento’s work) so I’m not sure why I didn’t like it a bit more. As I said, I think it’s partly because ”trashy” is not what I want from a Hitchcock film. I think it also didn’t help that the characters were all so hateful. I didn’t really care that the guy was wrongly accused of the murders since he was such a prick anyway. Plus I’m never a fan of rape scenes. It depends how they’re handled but it seemed more gratuitous than necessary in this. I suppose Hitchcock was probably just thrilled to get some nudity on screen. And I’m sure the one rape joke in it won’t go down well with younger people who might watch this now but I judge these things based on society’s attitudes at the time something was made so it seemed accurate. 

Oh well. It’s still a well made ‘70s crime film & I did get some enjoyment out of the story but it certainly won’t be a favorite Alfred Hitchcock film for me. There are still plenty of his oldest films that I have yet to see but I suppose I should make a list ranking his films. I’m thinking that this one would currently be at the very bottom of the list. It just doesn’t hold a candle to his true masterpieces. I’m probably being a bit too harsh as this movie obviously had a lot to live up to, though. It just doesn’t seem like it could be from the same person who made Rear Window, Vertigo & Psycho

Slight spoiler: I thought the woman in the bed at the end was the mother, which would have been a better ending. Oh! And I liked that Billie Whitelaw was in this. The Omen is brilliant. – 7/10

Look Both Ways – This was fine. Safe. Wholesome. Nice. Bland. I should knock half a star off my rating as I know I’ll completely forget this movie in a year but it’s just so harmless that I’d feel bad doing that. Sliding Doors did a better job with this concept but at least we don’t have to watch Gwyneth in this one so that’s a plus.

Okay, I’m sounding way too negative for such a completely inoffensive film. It’s a pleasant, weekend afternoon watch. And it was nice having fairly likeable characters in this unlike the insufferable twats in other streaming recents such as Not Okay & Do Revenge. – 6.5/10

Bob’s Burgers: The Movie – I have no clue why I watched this as I’ve never seen the show. It would be like watching The Simpsons Movie having never seen that show. Well, The Simpsons Movie wouldn’t have made me want to watch The Simpsons and this movie hasn’t made me want to watch Bob’s Burgers, which is probably unfair as I’m sure the show is much better (isn’t it always??). But I did enjoy the story & got a few giggles out of it even though it’s not exactly laugh out loud humor. I can see why it has fans, though, as these characters probably grow on you. I liked the kid with the hat. Easily the best character for me (in the movie, at least). – 6.5/10

Licorice Pizza – I find Paul Thomas Anderson hit or miss (the only ones I really liked were Magnolia & Boogie Nights) but everyone kind of raved over this last year so I was eager to see it. I’m now not sure what people saw in this one? I found it boring & the two main characters were annoying. I liked the setting, as I always love the ‘70s, but that’s all this movie had going for it. So this is another PTA miss for me. – 6/10

Dog – I’m behind on reviewing movies & it probably doesn’t say much for this film that I forgot I’d even watched it when going through my diary to catch up. Channing Tatum is fine as a soldier with PTSD & I always like 1. Dog movies and 2. Road trip movies so this was an interesting combo of both. But Tatum’s character was a bit unlikeable so I cared much more about what would happen to the dog. The movie is fine – just a bit forgettable & very predictable. – 6/10

Moonfall – I admit I enjoy some of Roland Emmerich‘s films as guilty pleasures so liked the sound of this one & was expecting a dumb but fun disaster flick like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow. Unfortunately this was all dumb & no fun. The characters were boring & the film wasn’t entertaining enough for me to be able to forgive it for being completely ridiculous. Waste of time. – 4.5/10

Movies Rewatched In August

The Sixth Sense – I think M. Night Shyamalan is a director you either like or hate (I’m a fan) but hopefully most people would agree that The Sixth Sense is a damn good film & easily his best. Rewatched this for the first time in a long time & still think the ending is fantastic & perfectly executed. Glad it got nominations, especially for Haley Joel Osment’s scarily good performance, since The Academy usually ignores horror. But was a little disappointed that my daughter guessed the ending well before the reveal. Guess she’s smarter than I was in 1999! – 8.5/10

Shorts Watched In August

I Am Groot – These shorts on Disney Plus are pretty silly but who cares? So is Guardians Of The Galaxy & I love it. Who doesn’t like Baby Groot?? He’s adorable. These shorts are cute & very much aimed at a much much younger audience than the Guardians Of The Galaxy films. Have to admit I’ve watched them all two or three times now… Wholesome fun.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation – These Lego shorts aren’t as good as they used to be. This was okay but a bit boring. There are two stories (if I remember correctly!). The second one is much better than the first. I think I just care less & less about the sequel trilogy characters as time goes by.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN AUGUST

Hmm. Actually watched a lot of TV in August. And managed to read two books…

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Boys: S1 E5 – Still think this is great so far but struggling to find the time to watch it (while the daughter isn’t around as it’s super inappropriate).

Only Murders In The Building: S2 E7-10 – Still think these three characters are a lot of fun together & look forward to seeing more of them in Series 3. But Series 1 was quite a bit better than Series 2…

Ms. Marvel: S1 – This was fine. A great one for teenage Marvel fans. But I seriously have superhero burnout.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E1-2 – Well, I’ve seen much more of this now but as I’m so behind on posting these reviews, I won’t say much until the September post. I can’t say I specifically remember episodes 1 & 2 now. But I do remember that it was episode 3 with the twerking! I’ll only say this: People are WAY too hard on this show. Stop taking fucking superheroes so goddamn seriously! This show is MEANT to be silly. Hell, I kind of enjoy it. At least it feels different to all the other millions of Marvel films & shows.

The Twilight Zone (2019): S1 E1 – Finally checked this out as I ADORE the very first & original Twilight Zone. It’s my all-time favorite TV show. This new “Twilight Zone“? It fucking sucked. Episode 1 did, at least. It really doesn’t have me wanting to give any more episodes a chance…

TV Specials, Etc

Bill Burr: Live At Red Rocks – Trying to watch more standup comedy. Not sure why I never do. So watched this one after watching one of the Ricky Gervais specials. It was fine but I wasn’t exactly laughing out loud much. Preferred the Gervais one we watched. But don’t think either of these men will become absolute favorite comedians of mine, although I do like some of what Gervais has to say about things & life in general. And I liked him hosting the Golden Globes. But for standup give me George Carlin & Bill Bailey!

BOOKS READ

The Eyes Of The Dragon by Stephen King – I’m a big Stephen King fan & have read most of his work but just never had an interest in this one for some reason. It may be because I just couldn’t get into The Gunslinger, which is one of his only books I’ve read twice as I wanted to give it another chance to see if it could get me finally reading his Dark Tower series. But I still didn’t like it & I guess I then just thought fantasy wasn’t his thing compared to horror.

I loved this book! It’s very Game-Of-Thrones-Light & I assume aimed at sort of pre & early teens. A very simple but truly enjoyable story about two young prince brothers & an evil magician. Why have I never really heard much about this book? It would make for a fantastic family fantasy film, too. They’ve adapted so many King stories – why not this one?? A thoroughly enjoyable read. – 4.5/5

We Are All Liars by Carys Jones – This was fine. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

Allie, Stacie, Diana, Emily and Gail have been by each other’s sides for as long as they can remember. The Fierce Five. Best friends forever. But growing up has meant growing apart. And little white lies have grown into devastating secrets.

When Gail invites the increasingly estranged friends to reunite at her Scottish cabin, it could be the opportunity to mend old wounds and heal the cracks in their friendship. But when a freak snowstorm rocks the cabin and one of the girls is found dead on the ice, their weekend away becomes a race against time – and each other – to get off the mountain alive.

It’s pretty typical of the books in this sort of genre. The characters are all quite unlikeable but at least I can say I wasn’t able to guess the ending to this one. I like when these mystery thrillers aren’t predictable. But I just didn’t care at all about what would happen to any of these women. – 3/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’ll try to post my September roundup soon I fall behind on the blog but do at least keep on top of logging & rating what I’ve watched here on Letterboxd.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

I soooooooo need to see Everything Everywhere All At Once now that it’s on services. 😦 Won’t be making it to the cinema for anything soon as having to avoid Covid still. Missing going to see new releases!

To wrap up, here are Garland & Astaire doing A Couple Of Swells from Easter Parade:

Lucky (2017) Review

Lucky (2017)

Directed by John Carroll Lynch

Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of 90-year-old Lucky as he comes to terms with his own mortality and searches for enlightenment. It was one of Stanton’s final onscreen roles before his death.

My Opinion:

This was just fantastic. Being a fan of Harry Dean Stanton, I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to watching what I knew was one of his final films before his death.

Stanton rightly deserved the praise he got for this role. He’s absolutely brilliant as Lucky. You can really feel the emotion in this film, as he comes to terms with his own mortality as well as that of his character. And the emotional impact of that final shot is up there with the image on the swings in Ikiru. Utterly devastating yet uplifting at the same time. Only the very best films and/or performances manage that extremely tricky combination without coming across as contrived. Harry Dean Stanton does it perfectly.

This movie reminded me a lot of Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge, which I watched recently and also really enjoyed. Not the story but the way they both showed “local community Americana” and the different types of people who make up those communities & how they interact. I’m always a sucker for small-town-America-with-quirky-characters movies. Growing up in very small-town America, I can totally relate to movies with that sort of setting and have a real love/hate relationship with the town I grew up in. I couldn’t wait to escape it but I also can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else when I die. Morbid. Sorry! Contemplating my own mortality myself lately. However, I grew up in a town in the Midwest & not in a lovely small desert town in California like in this film. Almost made me want to change my dream of retiring in Maine to retiring in a town like this one instead. Such beautiful scenery.

I haven’t done a blog post in a while so wanted to just quickly write something about Lucky as I found it very moving. I clearly love the art of cinema and it’s because of films like this one. I don’t normally care that much about the performances or choice of actors, as long as they aren’t “bad” at acting, but Stanton is fantastic in this. I agree with the film’s poster that it’s the performance of a lifetime. And I think that when you reach the age of 90 that you should be allowed to go around shouting “C*nts!” as much as you want.

R.I.P. Harry Dean Stanton. You’re missed but your performances will live on.

My Rating: 8.5/10

The 94th Academy Awards – Reviews Of Nominated Films & List Of All Nominees

The Oscars are on tonight so I’m finally doing a post with links to the reviews I’ve done of some of the nominated films.

I can’t believe I used to stay up all night long to watch the Oscars live when I first moved to the U.K. Ugh. I don’t anymore because 1) I don’t always have access to the live ceremony because that service is too expensive and 2) I’m too old & tired to stay up all night (and then go to work! how did I do that?!) but most importantly 3) Screw the Oscars! They’ve become a joke in the past several years & this year’s ceremony sounds ridiculous. I had a rant during my Mass review but I’ll just say again that I don’t have time for a movie awards ceremony that doesn’t see the Best Original Score & all the others not being presented as important enough to make the live show.

But I’m sure I’ll still watch the shorter recap show tomorrow night & bitch about the ceremony the whole time…

Well, there seem to be better Best Picture nominees than some years but I’ve only seen six of the ten. Of those I’ve not seen, I really do want to see Drive My Car. I’m sure I’ll check out King Richard, Licorice Pizza & Belfast when available too but I’m in no rush. I think The Power Of The Dog will probably win anyway, which was my least favorite of those I’ve seen. I loved Dune & CODA. Actually not sure which of the two I preferred. Dune is more “me” but CODA was so lovely & thoroughly enjoyable to watch. They’re maybe tied.

Here are my reviews of those I’ve seen of all the nominees (from my favorite to least favorite):

TIE: Dune & CODA
The Lost Daughter
Don’t Look Up
West Side Story
Tick, Tick… Boom!
The Mitchells Vs The Machines
Raya And The Last Dragon
Encanto
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The Eyes Of Tammy Faye
Free Guy
The Power Of The Dog
Cruella
Nightmare Alley
Coming 2 America
Luca
Being the Ricardos
Spencer (hated this)

There were also some strong documentaries & shorts that were luckily available on U.K. services. Summer Of Soul was great with fantastic music so I really enjoyed that. And Please Hold was a good Black-Mirror-Inspired story.

Nominated Documentaries & Shorts I’ve Seen (not ranked):

Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Audible
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
Please Hold
The Long Goodbye
Three Songs For Benazir
Boxballet
The Windshield Wiper
Robin Robin

Here are all the Oscar nominees:

Best Picture:
“Belfast”
CODA
Don’t Look Up
“Drive My Car”
Dune
“King Richard”
“Licorice Pizza”
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

Best Actress:
Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter
Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mother”
Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos
Kristen Stewart, “Spencer

Best Actor:
Will Smith, “King Richard”
Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick… Boom!

Best Supporting Actress:
Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter
Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story
”Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog
”Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
Judi Dench, “Belfast”

Best Supporting Actor:
Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog
J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos
Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog
Troy Kotsur, “CODA
Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast”

Best Director:
Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay:
“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh
Don’t Look Up” Adam McKay, David Sirota
“King Richard,” Zach Baylin
“Licorice Pizza,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Worst Person in the World,” Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt

Best Adapted Screenplay:
CODA,” Siân Heder
The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion
“Drive My Car,” Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
Dune,” Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal

Best International Feature Film:
“Drive My Car” (Japan)
“Flee” (Denmark)
“The Hand of God” (Italy)
“Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” (Bhutan)
“The Worst Person in the World” (Norway)

Best Documentary Feature:
“Ascension”
“Attica”
“Flee”
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”
“Writing With Fire”

Best Animated Feature Film:
Encanto
“Flee”
Luca
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Animated Short:
“Affairs of the Art”
“Bestia”
“Boxballet”
“Robin Robin”
“The Windshield Wiper”

Best Documentary Short Subject:
“Audible”
“Lead Me Home”
“The Queen of Basketball”
Three Songs for Benazir
“When We Were Bullies”

Best Live Action Short:
“Ala Kachuu ― Take and Run”
“The Dress”
“The Long Goodbye”
“On My Mind”
“Please Hold”

Best Cinematography:
Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
West Side Story

Best Film Editing:
Don’t Look Up
Dune
“King Richard”
The Power of the Dog
Tick, Tick … Boom!

Best Production Design:
Dune
Nightmare Alley
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
West Side Story
The Power of the Dog

Best Original Song:
“Be Alive” (“King Richard”), Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Dixson
“Dos Oruguitas” (“Encanto”), Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Down to Joy” (“Belfast”), Van Morrison
“No Time to Die” (“No Time to Die”), Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell
“Somehow You Do” (“Four Good Days”), Diane Warren

Best Original Score:
Don’t Look Up,” Nicholas Britell
Dune,” Hans Zimmer
Encanto,” Germaine Franco
“Parallel Mothers,” Alberto Iglesias
The Power of the Dog,” Jonny Greenwood

Best Sound:
“Belfast”
Dune
“No Time to Die”
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

Best Costume Design:
Cruella
“Cyrano”
Dune
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Coming 2 America
Cruella
Dune
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
“House of Gucci”

Best Visual Effects:
Dune
Free Guy
“No Time to Die”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

What are your favorite Oscar nominees this year & what do you most want to see win?

CODA (2021) Review

CODA (2021)

Directed by Sian Heder

Based on La Famille Bélier by Victoria Bedos, Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carré de Malberg & Éric Lartigau

Starring: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Emilia Jones as the eponymous CODA (child of deaf adults), the only hearing member of a deaf family, who struggles to balance her attempts to help her family’s struggling fishing business and her own life aspirations.

My Opinion:

Finally! After a week of watching a bunch of the films with Oscar nominations and getting really annoyed at how boring (Nightmare Alley), irritating & unwatchable (Spencer) most of them are, it was great to see something I thoroughly enjoyed. Why do the Oscars nominate so many films that feel like an absolute chore to watch? I’m surprised this was nominated for Best Picture, actually, as the Academy doesn’t often go for a sweet “feelgood” family film. They like dreary & depressing stuff so often but crowd-pleasing can be worthy too. I’m glad they recognised this one. Not sure of its chances but it would be lovely to see it win.

The performances were all great in this as well. Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant & Marlee Matlin all would have been worthy nominees so it’s a shame it’s not up for more acting awards but I’m glad Kotsur was nominated at least. It’s also up for Best Adapted Screenplay so, again, not sure of its chances of winning Best Picture with only three nominations overall but I think Kotsur has a good chance. I really liked these characters & their strong family bond. Yes, it’s a heartwarming film but it’s not overly sentimental or saccharine. They got the balance right on that, which can be hard to achieve, and the film has some great funny moments too. Kotsur & Matlin were especially fun as horny parents still madly in love with each other. I’ve not seen Emilia Jones & Daniel Durant in anything else but this will hopefully get them more roles as they were both brilliant too. All four of them worked really well together & were believable as a family.

Oh, and I loved the setting too. I swear I want to be able to retire to a small East Coast America fishing village (this is set in Massachusetts). I blame Stephen King for that! I’ve just read too many of his stories set in Maine. And….. I can’t think of anything else to say! When I hate a movie, I can ramble on forever moaning about it. CODA is such a good & enjoyable film and there is absolutely nothing negative I could possibly say about it. It’s also not trying too hard to be something its not, which again is why I’m surprised it’s up for Best Picture. It’s a lovely film and I’m happy I got to watch it. (Thanks to my family gifting me that streaming service for Mother’s Day. They know exactly what kind of gifts I like!). Oh, and they both really enjoyed this movie too. It’s a great family film.

My Rating: 8/10

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021) & Spencer (2021) Reviews

Here are two quick reviews in time for the shitty looking Oscars ceremony I really don’t want to watch but probably will. Figured I should check out two of the Best Actress contenders that just showed up on U.K. services. Bloody hell one of these movies was godawful.

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021)

Directed by Michael Showalter

Based on The Eyes of Tammy Faye by Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Tammy Faye Bakker (played by Jessica Chastain), from her humble beginnings growing up in International Falls, Minnesota through the rise and fall of her televangelism career and marriage to Jim Bakker (played by Andrew Garfield).

My Opinion:

I did NOT expect to far prefer this movie out of these two. I had zero interest in even watching this but stuck it on to see an acting Oscar nominee since I’ve only been able to watch half of the Best Picture nominees (I’ve not seen Belfast, CODA, Drive My Car, King Richard or Licorice Pizza). I’ll say that I knew nothing whatsoever about Tammy Faye Bakker other than, of course, remembering the religious lady with the crazy makeup at the height of her & her husband’s fame (or more like infamy, I guess).

I won’t get into religion as I avoid talking about religion or politics like the plague. I’ll just say it’s a topic I do have a very strong opinion about & I never understood the televangelist thing in America when I lived there. It must make other countries think we’re crazy for supporting what seem like cults but are these ministries as big of a deal as they seem? They must be as they managed to find people to give them millions, making them so damn rich. But who are these people? I never knew anyone who would give money to televangelists?

Anyway. I’m NOT going to get into that. I’ll just say again that I knew nothing about Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker as that kind of thing is utterly & completely foreign to me but this movie made me feel sympathy for her at least. It’s a Hollywood film & I’m not stupid – they can so easily make a person either look good or bad depending on their agenda so I’m not going to just assume it’s 100% accurate. I’m also not interested enough to go looking into its accuracy (sorry). But whether it’s true or not I really liked how genuine she seemed here in her love of God (despite my own beliefs) and embracing the true supposed meaning of Christianity (love & acceptance of everyone no matter their race, gender, sex, sexuality, etc). Yes, despite hiding behind a mask of makeup she seemed more genuine in her beliefs than all the powerful & intolerant men in this film who also became rich in the same way. Again, I’m sure it was exaggerated or more likely entirely fake but I loved the scene where she was just being her sweet self talking about her beliefs while the men her husband idolised clearly wanted this “woman with opinions” to shut the hell up.

Well, as I said I liked this movie and character more than I was expecting. It was probably easier for me to buy into as Bakker isn’t nearly as well-known as someone huge like Princess Diana but Jessica Chastain did seem to do a very good portrayal. There’s plenty to discuss here when it comes to the hypocrisy of rich & powerful “Christians” and there’s probably something psychological with Tammy Faye feeling the need to cover her face in all that makeup. I don’t think the movie really explores any of that at all, though, which is a shame. But it wasn’t a bad film & was a small entertaining look into something I know very little about. At least Tammy Faye, for all her & especially her husband’s obvious faults, embraced what I was always led to believe was the core Christian belief of love & acceptance (?!). In that way, she came across as quite lovely (in this Hollywood film, at least. I dunno). She was a fascinating person. While I don’t think the movie did much in terms of trying to help us to understand her as a person, at least it made us sympathize with her & accept her in the way she seemed to accept others.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Spencer (2021)

Directed by Pablo Larraín

Music by Jonny Greenwood

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, Sally Hawkins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about Princess Diana’s existential crisis at Christmas because she wants to divorce Prince Charles and leave the British royal family.

My Opinion:

What? What on Earth? Who? Why? Huh? Did… Did people actually like this movie? Am I just completely out of touch with film fans these days?! I honestly don’t know where I fit in now. “Regular” people I know in real life who aren’t movie-obsessed like me probably think I have weird & slightly snobby movie tastes (I do) and would hate a lot of the movies I’ve loved in recent years. But then I see Film Twitter & critics praise stuff like this, which I found annoying & pretentious and a chore to finish watching. And it had the most obnoxious & irritating score which just put me on edge the whole time. Which I hate saying as the score was done by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead & they’re easily one of my Top Ten favorite bands ever but, hey, I guess it makes sense as plenty of their stuff from later years was fucking irritating. (But I still love them for having SO many songs I adore)

Is Kristen Stewart’s performance Oscar-worthy? For the most part, I don’t care that much about performances (unless they’re really bad). I care more about Best Picture & the overall film being one that I actually enjoy. So it was hard to judge the performance as I was distracted by hating this movie so much but it seemed awful to me? So over-the-top. It felt like a ridiculous caricature but what do I know about anything?! I think the performance was meant to be an exaggerated version of Princess Diana so maybe Stewart was amazing? Was it?? Was it meant to be hammy??? And I’m just dumb & uncultured???? And I moaned about this in my Being The Ricardos review but, if you’re gonna hire someone who looks nothing like a very well-known real person, at least make sure that actor/actress is DAMN good. So, yay, I just spent two hours watching Kristen Stewart being blonde, glancing sideways a lot, throwing up & talking about masturbating. It just felt insulting to the memory of Princess Diana.


I’m looking down & sideways! I’m Diana!

Screw it. I don’t feel like rambling on forever about hating a movie (for a change). This film, about one of the most interesting & beloved figures in recent history, somehow managed to be an absolute snoozefest. That’s quite a feat, I guess. I’m sorry if anyone reading this liked this film but I’d be very interested to know why as I’m starting to wonder why I like so few films in recent years, especially Oscar nominated ones…

My Rating: 4/10

Nightmare Alley (2021) Review

Nightmare Alley (2021)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Based on Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A grifter working his way up from low-ranking carnival worker to lauded psychic medium matches wits with a psychiatrist bent on exposing him.

My Opinion:

Ugh. Okay, this is going to be a sucky review because I have very little to say about this movie. Well, all my reviews are sucky. So this will be more sucky than usual!

Man, this film was a drag. Guillermo del Toro’s output is kind of all over the place, though. I like some films, like Pan’s Labyrinth (brilliant) and The Shape Of Water. But other films of his are a bit meh. As always, though, I like the style of his movies & this one also has his great signature look to it. So, yay, it looked very pretty. But that didn’t make the movie any less boring. Nightmare Alley ended up like Crimson Peak: A great-looking but dull film. And I think I enjoyed Crimson Peak much more of these two.

How did he manage to make a movie set in an old-school carnival so boring?!? I think we just didn’t get enough of the carnival setting. Disappointingly, that’s only really at the start of the film. I LOVE a carnival/circus setting for movies & books! Freaks is very much a favorite film of mine & I’ve always found that whole lifestyle fascinating. So, when they moved away from that in this film, I really lost interest with the plot which wasn’t very compelling & certainly didn’t need to be dragged out for two & a half hours. Also, not to be rude but I’ve just never really been a fan of Bradley Cooper & he felt wrong for this role. I did think he was very good in A Star Is Born but he just felt out of place here, especially in scenes with Cate Blanchett. I think Blanchett has that true old Hollywood “star quality” so she does tend to outshine everyone in scenes with her but it was even more obvious with Cooper as he just doesn’t have that sort of “presence” at all. Which isn’t good when he’s the main character…

Also, I don’t mind this so much but the hubby complained about the amount of big name stars in this. I do agree it can throw you out of some movies, though, especially fantasies or ones that are meant to be mysterious. It just felt unnecessary to stick so many well known people in even the smaller roles here. Is that what helped it to get a Best Picture nomination? Probably! The Academy does have its favorites. Blanchett is certainly a favorite & they do seem to like del Toro. Hey – at least Nightmare Alley was maybe a little less boring than The Power Of The Dog. Maybe. It’s close.

I had more to say about this than I expected! I feel I’ve been way too harsh because, let’s face it, I’ve never made a movie & del Toro is obviously a good filmmaker. So I’ll end with some positives:

As already mentioned, this movie looks great. I also liked all the performances from the women: Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette (was sad her role was so small) & Rooney Mara. Hubby thinks I have a big girl crush on Rooney Mara. I think I kind of do but don’t know why as I don’t normally go for that tiny waif thing. She has lovely eyes but I think I’m more into Blanchett because she’s always so “sexy cool”. Yes, I liked seeing the two of them in this together briefly after they played lovers in Carol. Yes, I liked Carol and, yes, it kind of made me wonder what I see in men. And I think I just spent too long thinking about Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara so the hubby is gonna read this and think I’m in love with them. Oh, and I also learned something new about old carnivals! I can’t believe I’d never heard of a geek show since I always watch anything to do with carnivals. Anyway, here’s a brief explanation of a geek show from Wikipedia: “The billed performer’s act consisted of a single geek, who stood in center ring to chase live chickens. It ended with the performer biting the chickens’ heads off and swallowing them.” Gross. It sounds like the geeks were treated horribly so it’s a good thing the “geek shows” & the “freak shows” disappeared. It was such a different world back then. (But I did like the thing in the jar in Nightmare Alley as it reminded me of a great episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called The Jar. Loved that show as a kid!)

Here, I’ll be fairly nice with my rating as it obviously must be a good film since it’s an Oscar nominee?!?

My Rating: 6.5/10

Fresh (2022) Review

Fresh (2022)

Directed by Mimi Cave

Written by Lauryn Kahn

Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Dayo Okeniyi, Andrea Bang, Brett Dier

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a young woman who starts dating a charming man, only to discover his horrifying true nature.

My Opinion:

I’m always surprised to see these 18/R rated films popping up on Disney Plus in the U.K. Well, I was happy to see this one available as there’s been a lot of hype about it on Film Twitter plus it sounded weird & I like weird.

It’s kind of weird but certainly not the most bizarre film I’ve seen. I think they’ve made it pretty obvious what the film is about but I’ll still try to stay spoiler-free. So the overall plot wasn’t a surprise but I think they did something fairly original with the idea & I liked the acting in this & how the story was presented. Also, girls have been ooohing & aaahing over Sebastian Stan for years & I wasn’t really seeing the appeal. I think I’m starting to like him now after this & after Pam & Tommy. Don’t know what that says about me?! I should point out that I didn’t like Tommy Lee as a person in that show or ever in real life. While watching it I was thinking “I actually didn’t realize this guy was such a dick!” so that’s not me going for the bad boys or something – I just think Stan came across as having a lot of fun in these two roles. I also saw some interviews with him & he seems really likeable so it’s a nice plus when celebs aren’t horrible people.

I also really liked Daisy Edgar-Jones in this. I had to look her up as I’ve not seen her in anything before. Looks like she’s mostly been in English TV. So I guess she must not actually sound American as she was raised in England with Scottish & Irish parents?! I have to say that I never notice actors putting on American accents so it must be really easy to sound American or something? But I’m rubbish with accents. Wait, she DID sound American in this, right?! Ha. I dunno. But she was good in this role & I think she has this vulnerable sort of look that worked really well for this character. You can see how she’d so easily fall for the handsome & charming Sebastian Stan character after some very bad dates with men she meets through dating services.

I didn’t love this film but I did enjoy it and I can see why the younger generation seem to be the ones going for it. It follows a twentysomething who just wants to find a nice guy but is meeting nothing but jerks through dating apps. The movie starts off showing us one of her disastrous dates with an irritating, cheap & inconsiderate asshole. She tells her friend (another good character, played by Jojo T. Gibbs) that she’s had enough of this shit (well, I don’t think she said that exact thing) but then she meets lovely Sebastian Stan in a supermarket. In real life! And she comments that she didn’t think real life meetings happened anymore & I have to say that I feel no sympathy for 20/30 somethings most of the time but do think it must be awful mainly living life online & having to date in that way. Okay – I also feel kind of sorry for them having to grow up with shitty music.

Well, this movie is hard to discuss while staying spoiler-free so I’ll just say that things get pretty crazy after our attractive main characters meet. I liked how this movie started out feeling like a sweet rom-com before turning into a dark comedy horror. I also see this was written & directed by women (I’m guessing, going by the names so correct me if I’m wrong) and I liked seeing this story from a female perspective. For example, her first disastrous date felt really relatable in that I think all women watching would agree that the guy was a total dick while some men watching might wonder what was wrong with the guy. The whole movie, I suppose, is a social commentary on dating and the relationship between men & women. Yes, I guess that’s pretty obvious but I didn’t feel it was forcing an agenda or anything like that. That would annoy me. Sometimes you just gotta enjoy a cleverly written, f*^ked up horror comedy & not overanalyze things.

My Rating: 7/10

*I could maybe be talked into giving this a 7.5. Will wait until I see more 2022 films to see how this compares.*

The Forever Purge (2021) & No Exit (2022) Reviews

Here’s a two for one! And to think I was going to spend this week reviewing Oscar nominees. Screw that – I have no time for movie award shows that have no time to spend on presenting awards to everyone involved in the filmmaking process. So here are two movies definitely not nominated for any Oscars…

The Forever Purge (2021)

Directed by Everardo Gout

Starring: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Will Patton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a group of people who attempt to escape from the United States after an insurrectionist movement continues committing crimes and murders nationwide after the Purge’s ending.

My Opinion:

Here’s my ranking of all of The Purge films:

The Purge – 7.5/10
The Purge: Election Year – 7.5/10
The Purge: Anarchy – 7/10
The Forever Purge – 6.5/10
The First Purge – 6/10

I don’t really know what’s better of The First Purge & The Forever Purge. I just know that I barely remember The First Purge and that was quite recent so that’s pretty bad. And I think I’ll also barely remember this newest one in a few years. But I still enjoyed them & 6/10 seems a little harsh. Maybe I’ll change my mind & up them half a point (okay, I’ve just upped the rating on this one) . But the first three are far better (and had the same director, so luckily it looks like he’ll be back to directing the sixth film).

For reasons I can’t fully explain, I really like this series of movies. I always love a good concept & I think these movies have a fantastic idea that they’ve never managed to explore in-depth. You’d think we’d get something more meaningful after five films? But I think they’ve managed to evolve the story pretty well & I’m not bored with this idea and know I’ll watch film number six. In this one, a large group of people have decided that the Purge should never end & break the rules by continuing their murder spree after it finishes.


This actress was in The Hunger Games. I know that because my daughter has watched it 2 million times.

I again liked the idea for this movie just fine. If you make all crime legal for one night every year, you’re obviously going to end up with a situation like this so I think it’s a logical progression of the story. I still think they’ve left plenty of situations unexplored, though, so I’m interested to see where they go with the next film. Where they’ve focused plenty on the rich vs the poor so far and the obvious advantages that the rich would have in this situation (as they have with everything in life), this one takes on immigration. I think it worked okay but prefer when they’re a little more subtle with the social commentary. But these films have never been subtle in any way so that’s fine. I think the issue was mostly that this one really dragged in the middle & I lost interest through all of that after it had an okay start.

Well, I like these movies and I’ll keep watching them although I think they have yet to make a truly good film based on this great idea. Maybe they just take things too seriously? This time, it made me think back to The Hunt & how great I thought that was at poking fun at how fucked-up America has become. But maybe that’s just me as I’ve always loved dark humor. It’s a serious issue so maybe these films do need to stick to what they’ve been doing. Maybe they need to take it more seriously? I don’t know but I want to feel like they’ve finally done this idea justice in one of these films. Maybe film number six will be the one?!

Oh, and I’ve not watched The Purge TV series & I don’t know why since I like these movies. I think it’s because a TV series is too much of a commitment for me. Anyone watched that?

My Rating: 6.5/10

No Exit (2022)

Directed by Damien Power

Based on No Exit by Taylor Adams

Starring: Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, Dale Dickey, Mila Harris, Dennis Haysbert

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Havana Rose Liu as a recovering drug addict who discovers a kidnapping in progress while stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard.

My Opinion:

Watched this as it’s a 2022 movie release on Disney Plus & I’m still desperate to see any 2022 films that I can via services. It’s interesting that Disney is getting some new horror/thriller releases (in the U.K.). Last year, I thought The Empty Man was pretty good & The Night House was very much my type of supernatural horror (although it could have been a bit better). No Exit is the most disappointing of the new straight-to-Disney thrillers so far but, hey, it passed the time.

**Edit to add that I’ve just watched Fresh on Disney Plus & that was pretty entertaining. The best of those I’ve mentioned.**

This film pretty much all takes place at a rest stop where these people are stranded during a blizzard & the main character (above) discovers a girl locked in a van. At the rest stop, there are four other adults who become the suspects as she doesn’t know whose van it is. So there was a bit of suspense there at first, which was fine. This is one of those movies where all the characters aren’t very likeable, though, including the main girl and even the young girl who has been kidnapped! You should like the victims at least! It also got a bit too violent for me at the end. Nothing massively gross – I think I just wasn’t in the right mood. Meh. The movie was okay. I’ll forget it in a year. Oh! And Dale Dickey was in this & I always think “the prostitute from My Name Is Earl!” whenever I see her so it’s hard to take her seriously in dramas, etc.

My Rating: 6/10
*This rating is a bit generous. I guess I’m feeling nice. I was too nice to The Forever Purge too.*

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Review

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Directed by Michael Chaves

Story by James Wan, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The Warrens investigate a murder that may be linked to a demonic possession.

My Opinion:

Here’s my ranking of all the Conjuring Universe films:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10
TIE: The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It – 6/10 & The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

The one I don’t really remember well for some reason is The Conjuring 2, so I’ve just put 2 & 3 together because I think they were both fine but not bad like most of the Annabelle movies (although I remember liking the most recent one, which is probably an unpopular opinion). Damn – I just looked online & The Curse Of La Llorona is part of the Conjuring Universe?? Ugh. Now I’ll have to watch that too or I’ll be annoyed at missing one but it looks crap (so it will fit right in…).

Overall, these films aren’t exactly favorites of mine. The one thing I do like is the idea they had to make movies based on the real-life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s a good idea for a series of movies & they’ll be able to make them forever since the couple claim to have investigated over 10,000 cases. But I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about the real people or that I’ve looked much into the “true stories” behind any of the films. The only one I looked into a bit was the Annabelle stuff, which was kind of fascinating. Has there been a documentary about this couple? Probably. I’d maybe watch one but I mostly just like a bit of light horror entertainment & I’m sure these movies are very exaggerated.

I liked this film okay as it’s another one heavily featuring Ed & Lorraine and I prefer when they’re in the movie. I also like the whole satanic horror sub-genre most of the time so the story was fine. You can read about the real murder case in 1981, in which Arne Cheyenne Johnson claimed innocence due to demonic possession, HERE.


Ouch

And… I don’t know. That’s it, really. I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It was the sort of thing I was expecting from another Conjuring film. I enjoy watching them but they’re not very memorable. They do sometimes have some good imagery or things you just know are going to be used in another film, like that ugly Marilyn Manson looking Nun or of course Annabelle, but I can’t think of anything in this one that they’d base another movie on. The Conjuring 2 was probably a bit better than this one, actually – I should rewatch that sometime. Oh, and when I added the cast list to the top of this post I was like “Why isn’t Evan Peters listed?!“. I spent the whole movie thinking he was the one possessed (the actor is Ruairi O’Connor, apparently). So I’m turning into one of those old people who mix young actors up. Pretty soon I won’t be able to name movies just like my relatives who try to talk to me about a movie they saw by saying “Oh, WHAT was the name of that movie? It stars that guy from that other movie? You know the one!“.

My Rating: 6/10


Not Evan Peters

Mass (2021) Review

Mass (2021)

Directed & Written by Fran Kranz

Starring: Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton as grieving parents who meet to discuss a tragedy involving their sons.

My Opinion:

This is one of those 2021 movies that wasn’t released until 2022 in the U.K., so I’m counting it as a 2022 release (I refuse to go by American release dates anymore – it’s too confusing). Finally! A decent 2022 film! This has been a very disappointing year so far on streaming services. This is my ranking now:

Fresh – 7/10
Mass – 7.5/10
The Tender Bar – 6.5/10
Turning Red – 6/10
No Exit – 6/10
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 4.5/10

I’m hoping to see 2022 U.K. release & Best Picture Nominee Nightmare Alley on Disney Plus before the Oscars this weekend to see where that ranks but it’s two and a half hours long so very unlikely the hubby will agree to watching that one. It doesn’t have a chance of winning anyway plus I don’t know why I’m so desperate to see all the Best Picture nominees when the Oscars piss me off more & more in recent years. I think I’m finally finished with the Oscars now if they don’t consider Best Original Score important enough to be awarded live. I’m a huge fan of movie music & know there are movies I love thanks to the score more than anything else (Mandy, Suspiria, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly for example). Imagine movies without John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Thomas Newman, etc etc etc!!!!! So screw you, Oscars!

Oops. I’ll stop ranting and talk about Mass. It’s a good film but obviously a very heavy topic. I’m not a big fan of dramas, either, so it’s always hard to know where to rank stuff like this when I’m a fan of fiction, fantasy & escapism. It’s not like I can say I “enjoyed” this movie as much as, say, A Quiet Place Part II which I watched before this one & liked a lot. And although Mass is fiction it’s a very real and sadly far too common occurrence (in America) & one I find very upsetting. Which is why for now I’ve ranked freaky horror comedy Fresh above Mass even though Mass is of course the better film & I’ve given it a higher rating. Yes, my ratings & rankings are confusing. Ha! Just thought I should try to explain that. And I’ll try to get a review done for Fresh this week…

I guess this might be a spoiler if you know nothing about Mass plus the plot synopsis doesn’t mention it but I’m going to say what it’s about (I think the plot is pretty well known). It’s about two couples who meet to talk to each other six years after a school shooting involving their two sons. They discuss what happened & who is to blame & what could have been done, etc. They meet in a church in a room that has been reserved for them & the whole movie is set there. There are no scenes or flashbacks involving the incident – it’s just these two sets of parents discussing what happened.

I’m not going to get into gun control & the mass shootings that are such a huge problem in America. All I’ll say is that I don’t understand it & it all seems completely insane to everyone living outside of the U.S. This movie thankfully doesn’t go into the main issues too much (mainly gun control vs mental health). They touch on the topics but the focus is more on how this incident has affected the two families. I also didn’t feel the movie forced an agenda, so that was good. I hate movies with an agenda, even when it’s something I totally agree with. The four actors did a good job, especially Ann Dowd and Martha Plimpton as the grieving mothers. All was also revealed by the end, which got pretty intense, and I felt sympathy for all four characters. I can’t imagine being in that situation but I think I’d find it impossible to ever forgive.

Mass is good & I’d recommend it for the performances but you need to be in the right sort of mood for a heavy drama. Too bad it’s not going to change anything in America. Sandy Hook didn’t, so nothing ever will.

My Rating: 7.5/10

West Side Story (2021) Review

West Side Story (2021)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Based on West Side Story by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim & Arthur Laurents

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Rachel Zegler

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.

My Opinion:

I thought this film looked gorgeous. Steven Spielberg is a brilliant filmmaker so of course it was going to be good. Was it necessary when we already had a very good film adaptation in 1961 (which I briefly reviewed last month here)? Probably not, but I suppose it brings it to the attention of a whole new generation plus I think it fleshed out the story a tiny bit more. I still prefer the 1961 film as I like Natalie Wood & go for the more classic feel of that one, I guess. But it was never an absolute favorite of mine when it comes to movie musicals & it still wouldn’t make my top ten (but I did give it an honorable mention in this old list I need to update).

The weakest part of the film was unfortunately, for me, the two leads. Ansel Elgort had no charisma. Rachel Zegler was good but also kind of just a pretty face in a role that probably could’ve been filled by plenty of young actresses. That sounded way too negative! She was good. It was just unfortunate that there was zero chemistry whatsoever between her & Elgort. But, hey – I’d probably say all these exact same things about the 1961 film too. Made it harder to buy into this great big romance in both films.

I agree with what seems to be the general consensus that Ariana DeBose as Anita was the best thing about the film. But Rita Moreno as Anita was the best thing about the ’61 film too. Speaking of which, I also liked Moreno’s character in this version & think it worked well having her play that character. It’s fantastic that they got her into this film and, my god, she looks amazing. She’s 90! Can you believe that?! Anyway – Anita was great both times & Ariana DeBose is deserving of her Oscar nomination. I wish the lead characters had as much life in them.

Spielberg’s version of West Side Story is a very good film and I’m happy if it’s made some younger people get into musicals. But I’ll probably still stick with the 1961 film if I feel in the mood for a rewatch at any time. The songs are still the same either way (I think?! I’m no expert on this as I’ve not watched it multiple times like other musicals). But I did enjoy seeing Spielberg’s lovely vision of this.

My Rating: 8/10

A Quiet Place Part II (2020) Review

A Quiet Place Part II (2020)

Directed & Written by John Krasinski

Starring: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, John Krasinski

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.

My Opinion:

I liked the first film, A Quiet Place, a lot. It made it into the top twenty of my favorite horror movies of the 21st century so far (it probably deserves to be a little higher). I thought it was a great example of the monster horror genre and very clever & original to have so much of it needing to be silent. It also had acting that seemed far too good for a horror film. Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds was especially good in the role & even better in the sequel where she gets a bigger & more important role, which I really liked.

I liked this sequel a lot too. It had a lot to live up to & horror sequels are often disappointing so I’m very glad that this one wasn’t. We start off right after the end of the first film, which was good as it’s sometimes a bit annoying when they just skip a bunch of time for a sequel. Well, I lie – we actually get a very good flashback first of when this all started and I loved that. A prequel would’ve been great as a third film but the opening scene covers that, at least in this one town, so I’d be perfectly happy with another sequel continuing on after Part II. Actually, Part III would be fine as a “fast forward” to it being five years later or so. Oh man – I really do want this to be a trilogy! Do we know anything about number 3?? All I know is that it’s got a listing on IMDb with an expected release of 2023.

I thought Cillian Murphy was a decent addition to the cast in this one and, as I already said, I really liked Millicent Simmonds having an even bigger role. She had more to do than Emily Blunt in this one but Blunt still had plenty to do too & I liked her scenes as well. It’s one of those stories where we’re following two sets of people doing different things, which I always like. Two stories for the price of one!

This was a good horror sequel. I still really like these characters & want them to destroy all the monsters. I want to see more of their story in Part III. The only thing at all negative that I could say is that, as a sequel, it no longer has that feeling of being this great “all new idea” & it didn’t really add anything that we didn’t see in the first movie other than one more small fact about the alien monster things. So I feel I have to give it half a point less than my rating for Part I (making this only half a point higher than Malignant although I liked this one much more than that. I don’t know how to rate stuff anymore!). But I’m also glad they stayed true to the first film & I wouldn’t have wanted them to stray far from what they gave us in Part I anyway. Oh! And one other thing: This movie actually felt too short. It’s 1 hour 37 minutes so not overly short but it just felt like it needed a bit more. Maybe more time in the place toward the end with Millicent Simmonds? But, hey – a movie feeling too short is better than one that feels like it drags on for far too long! I guess I was just enjoying it & wanted to see more. Can’t wait for Part III now.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Malignant (2021) Review

Malignant (2021)

Directed by James Wan

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Annabelle Wallis as a woman who begins to have visions of people being murdered, only to realize the events are happening in real life.

My Opinion:

I’d been desperate to see this movie after all the hype last year so was really happy when it popped up on one of my services over the weekend. I enjoyed it. Sadly, it wasn’t nearly as bonkers as I was hoping & expecting from all the talk about it. Have people just not seen any other horror films before this one? The story ended up being about exactly what I thought it was going to be about. But, hey – it’s what I was hoping it would be about since I have a weird fascination with that concept.

It’s very hard to talk about this movie while staying spoiler-free! But I’ll do my best to not spoil it for those who have not yet seen this. I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of James Wan’s work but, wow, it looks like I’ve seen most everything he’s written or directed so I must like his stuff okay. I thought The Conjuring was pretty good & I have to remind myself that I really liked the first Saw film before it turned into the torture porn crap I despise in the sequels. Stuff like those Insidious, Annabelle & The Nun movies, though, are a bit meh. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about Malignant & where I’d rank it compared to his other work. I guess I’d put it above those “meh” ones I mentioned. It was more entertaining & memorable than those & I appreciated its craziness.

From what I’d heard about this being “Giallo-inspired”, I was expecting much more than what we got of that. Having rewatched Suspiria (1977) recently, I realized just how much I love the style of that. I’m a sucker for amazing visuals & I love that about the Argento films. Maybe a few shots in Malignant pay tribute to that style but I wouldn’t compare the film to the small amount of Italian horror that I’ve seen. So I was disappointed to not be getting a full-on ’70s-style horror with Malignant but I appreciated it being more stylish than Wan’s other films.

I also think, with this story’s crazy concept, they didn’t get the tone quite right. The movie took itself a bit too seriously. Although, I’m sure that worked for many people and I can’t really think what they could’ve done better? They took a concept suited for cheesy body horror in the style of Re-Animator, etc, and… Hell, I don’t know. Maybe this movie did kind of work in the style they used. I’ll say this again: I’m old. I’ve seen many movies. I sometimes have to remind myself that current, younger audiences (especially mainstream audiences – movie bloggers are different) haven’t necessarily seen this type of horror story before so I guess I can see why they’d be shocked by the film’s reveal & why so many hardcore horror fans liked this movie. Being a fan of cheesy old body horror, especially Cronenberg’s older films, I guess I have come to expect a different sort of style for this type of horror. I’d say I like my horror to either be very serious, creepy & atmospheric or else I like them to be completely outrageous & silly (I love horror comedies). Malignant is somewhere in the middle of those. I think it maybe could’ve just used some more dark humor but, while writing this paragraph, I’ve talked myself into liking that this isn’t a cheesy old-school body horror. That’s not what a mainstream modern audience are going to go for, either.

Ugh. This is why I mostly stick to my monthly roundup posts with brief reviews in recent years. I ramble on too damn much when I do a review on its own! I’ve blathered on for ages & I’m still not sure how I feel about Malignant. I wanted to love it as it looked SO like my type of thing & I thought it had a fantastic poster. I love a good movie poster! I guess it didn’t quite live up to my really high expectations & I’m trying to convince myself that I liked it by blathering on about it for ages. You know what? I did still like it.

Here’s what I liked:

1. This type of story is right up my alley (hmm – that sounds dirty). I was happy it was what I expected but it also would’ve been nice to be surprised.

2. The characters were quite good for a horror film! The sister & that one detective dude were especially likeable. And I’d say I kind of gave a shit about poor Annabelle Wallis’s main character too. It’s always more enjoyable to me to not have the hateful characters we get in too many horror films.

3. How do I say this & stay spoiler-free?!?! Hmm. I really liked the backwards thing. This story is NOT original but it found a way to differentiate itself a bit from other movies & TV shows that had this same story. And the backwards thing was pretty cool & a lot of fun. This movie got much better after the reveal. I think it needed to be batshit crazy much earlier in the film.

Okay – I’ve talked myself into liking this one. Or at least appreciating it more. I didn’t love it like I’d been hoping but it was certainly entertaining. It could’ve been better but at least it’s more memorable than Wan’s Insidious/Annabelle/Nun things. Let’s hope they don’t try to milk it by making a shitty sequel as this is good as a stand-alone film.

My Rating: 7/10

Old (2021) Review

Old (2021)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Based on Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy & Frederik Peeters

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

Turning Red (2022) Review

Turning Red (2022)

Directed by Domee Shi

Starring: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, James Hong

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A 13-year-old girl named Meilin turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited.

My Opinion:

First of all, here’s my updated ranking of all the Pixar movies (other than Cars 3, which I never saw):

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

At least Turning Red was slightly better than Luca, I guess?

I adore Pixar. For many years, they could do no wrong. I still can’t exactly say anything too bad since, come on – those top five films I’ve listed are amazing. Damn near masterpieces & better than most non-animated films from recent years. So they were going to have some not so great ones eventually. It’s just too bad that 3 out of the last 4 releases were duds (in my opinion). And the other one was just meh. And the two before those were okay but just sequels yet again. I guess the best most current AND original film they did was Coco, although it’s not a personal favorite. Last one I loved was Inside Out in 2015 (also a coming of age film like Turning Red but a far better example of that genre). So I’m ready for another new Pixar masterpiece to blow me away! I wonder if we’ll ever get another one like that.

Anyway. Turning Red. Hmm. I see there’s controversy online as some dude said he couldn’t relate to this movie or something like that. Or that it didn’t represent him? I don’t know. I didn’t read what he wrote so can’t comment beyond saying that I, as a female, couldn’t fully relate to it either so I hope I’m okay to say that (but that was mostly due to the awful character of the mother in this, which I’ll get to later). I’d say that this movie is much more aimed at girls so I wouldn’t expect most adult males to “relate” to it fully anyway. But they should still be able to appreciate art not aimed directly at them, especially if they’re film critics? With every movie, I like seeing different perspectives and stories and like loads of films where I don’t see myself represented on screen at all so it was kind of a stupid statement. I mean, come on – my favorite coming of age film happens to have no girls in it! And my favorite Pixar movie is about a lonely little post-apocalyptic robot. I love it despite not being a robot. Although things do feel a little post-apocalyptic these days…

I think the issue with Turning Red is that it’s just not that great. At least, it’s not up to all of our probably far too high Pixar standards. To be fair, it’s as good as anything put out by the likes of most other animation studios, such as DreamWorks. It’s not an awful film but, with that Pixar label, it unfortunately has a lot to live up to. I just feel like no one is allowed to say a movie isn’t all that great now. I’m very happy that Domee Shi got to make this film as I of course want to see more women getting equal opportunities in filmmaking. Also, I’m a very big fan of her short Bao. It probably helps that my daughter was completely obsessed with Bao for quite a while, so I’ve seen it many times. I think it’s a fantastic (and bold) short & I could really relate to the whole overprotective mother thing in it. So I was really looking forward to seeing what she’d do with a full-length film.

I think what I found most disappointing in this film was the mother, especially after finding I could relate to the mother in Bao. Believe me, I think I have many flaws as a parent but this character made me look amazing. It may have been a very long time ago but I remember my early teens like yesterday & just how easily you could end up devastatingly embarrassed by some minor thing and oh my god just want to DIE from the embarrassment. Don’t embarrass a teen girl! It’s traumatic. They’ll remember it for life. So, honestly, I don’t think any mother in her right mind would show up at her daughter’s co-ed school waving sanitary products around (sorry, small spoiler!). Good Lord – I could almost die of embarrassment just imagining that happening to me at 13. Ugh! So with that & one other incident with the mother, I found her far too over-the-top. Does anyone have a mother like that?? Maybe. Maybe I was just lucky to have a good relationship with my mom so that’s why I didn’t relate to that relationship in this film.

I feel like I’m going to end up rambling too much as I’m still trying to sort my thoughts out on this film. I think I’m wanting to talk myself into liking it more than I did. There were some things I liked. The main girl was fairly likeable. I think it’s unfortunately too easy to make girls of this age too annoying in movies, which isn’t really fair or realistic. She had a lot of emotions in this without being overly obnoxious. I also liked her group of nerdy, quirky friends. It’s always good to see a nice group of female friends in movies as I wanted that SO bad at that age (my girl friends at that age were back-stabbing bitches so I didn’t luck out in that department). Also, I liked the red panda. Who doesn’t like a red panda?? So those scenes were fun. Oh, and the animation was good. As to be expected with Pixar.

I think the point of the story was just too muddled. The girls in this family turn into red pandas when they come of age & get too emotional? Why didn’t the mother prepare her daughter for that? Oh! I just realised she’s almost as bad as Carrie White’s mother in Carrie! Well, look how THAT ended up. This movie needed some telekinetic carnage! You should prepare your daughters for the trauma of puberty. I won’t go too into the plot & how this ends but I just found it messy & didn’t fully see the point it was trying to make. To just accept what you can’t control? To be yourself? Embrace your period, maybe! Speaking of which, I suppose I should add this film to My Top Ten Period Dramas (yes, that kind of period and, yes, Carrie is number one on the list). And this is a small complaint but the obsession with the boy band was boring but, hey, I admit that I’ve never liked boy bands & can’t relate to girls who get all weird over them & their boring songs. I suppose some girls can relate to that, though. Most of all, I’ll say this: I’m old. No, this isn’t aimed at my age. But neither was Inside Out & I loved it & thought it was brilliant. My daughter, though, is the exact age of the girl in Turning Red & she really disliked the movie (maybe it’s because she hates boy bands too?!). 😉 But she adores Inside Out. And Bao. The person who liked this movie the most in our family was actually my hubby. So much for that one dude’s opinion that got trashed on Twitter! So I guess this movie just doesn’t work for some people & it has nothing to do with being “represented”. (FYI: Hubby even said this was much better than Encanto to which my daughter & I said NO WAY).

But I always say I prefer a divisive film to a boring one, so Turning Red fits that category and I do appreciate Domee Shi letting the story go pretty crazy at the end. Maybe I can talk myself into liking this but I have no desire to rewatch it again anytime soon.

My Rating: 6/10

Columbus (2017) Review

Columbus (2017)

Directed & Written by Kogonada

Starring: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Michelle Forbes, Rory Culkin, Parker Posey

Cinematography by Elisha Christian

Music by Hammock

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows the son of a renowned architecture scholar (John Cho) who gets stranded in Columbus, Indiana and strikes up a friendship with a young architecture enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) who works at the local library.

My Opinion:

This popped up on Amazon Prime U.K. & I’d never really heard anything about it. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try! I thought it was a beautiful film. I’d have to say it’s probably even my favorite film I’ve seen (for the first time) so far in 2022. And I watched it just after finally seeing Spielberg’s West Side Story. Both are lovely films to look at but this one moved me more.

This is one of those films that people will either love or will find extremely boring. So I’m not recommending this to everyone (Film Miasma – you’ll probably want to avoid this one). 🙂 It’s about a very bright & promising girl (Haley Lu Richardson) with a deep love of architecture who stays in her town of Columbus, Indiana to take care of her mother instead of going to college & pursuing her dreams. She then meets John Cho’s character, who is the son of a famous architect who was due to give a lecture in the town. He doesn’t share his father’s love of architecture but sees how much it means to Richardson’s character and, like everyone else in her life, thinks she needs to move on with her life & make something of all her potential.

I have to say that I have pretty much no interest in architecture whatsoever. Well, that’s maybe not entirely true as I do find the design of some buildings very interesting (and think a lot are ugly, like cities with too many skyscrapers). But I have no knowledge whatsoever about architecture. I do know that Frank Lloyd Wright was from my home state not far from where I grew up & he’s really famous, right? For me, this is one of those films that really conveys someone’s love for something & has you understanding how they feel and, hell, I think I fell in love with architecture a little bit too by the end of the movie. I think her character also gets Cho’s character starting to understand his father a bit better despite not having a great history with him.

I think both Cho & Richardson were very good in this film but Richardson especially shines. I know she’s done plenty of other movies but, based on this role, I’m surprised she hasn’t become bigger in the more “Oscar-friendly” type of roles. Speaking of which, this feels exactly like the type of thing that the Academy normally goes for so I don’t understand how it got no nominations that year? At least for cinematography & directing if nothing else? Really?! Was it just too indie? Maybe I just know nothing about anything and I admit to knowing nothing about filmmaking but this has a real Nomadland (as in, that sort of Oscar nominee) vibe. But I liked this one far more than that one. It looks like it did get plenty of Independent Spirit Award nominations, so that’s good, and lots of others for awards I’ve never heard of (9 wins & 32 nominations). Oh, and Indie Queen Parker Posey is also in this & I liked her character too.

I wanted to do this review as a separate post since there are so many lovely images from this movie that I wanted to include. As far as its look, it reminded me of the beginning of the movie Swallow (although that’s a very different film). Something about the lighting or cinematography or something. I don’t know but that had a lovely house in it with lots of windows & natural light & I just really liked the look of both movies. Also, I didn’t give the music much thought while watching this but later realised the score was quite peaceful & I think helped give this movie, along with the cinematography, a calm sort of vibe that I appreciated. So I looked up who did the score & it was done by Hammock. Here they are on Wikipedia – they’ve done a lot of “Ambient, post-rock, shoegazing” music. Shoegazing?! I’d not heard of that genre before. I had to look it up! Here you go (from Wikipedia again).

Well, I liked this movie a lot but would totally understand if someone didn’t like it. It’s definitely not for everyone but I thought it was a lovely looking film with well written & likeable characters who all worked really well together. Happy I checked it out & am not sure why I’d heard nothing about it at the time.

My Rating: 8/10

Vivarium (2019) & Dave Made A Maze (2017) Reviews

Two quick reviews of two weird movies before I post my January Roundup post…

Vivarium (2019)

Directed by Lorcan Finnegan

Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Some Creepy Kid

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.

My Opinion:

Wow, this was pretty fucking weird. So, since I love weird, I really enjoyed it. And, like most weird movies, I’d be very hesitant to actually recommend it to anyone as they’d hate it & probably think I was a weirdo. Which I am but, you know, I try to hide that in real life…

Here I am watching an Imogen Poots movie again. Why do I seem to watch all her movies?? *Poots!* Jesse Eisenberg is in this too. Man I hate him but, whatever – I don’t care too much who is in a movie anyway as I care more about the story & the overall movie itself so I guess he was tolerable. I really liked this story and the look of all the identical houses in this eerie neighborhood that the couple find themselves trapped in & unable to escape after a creepy “real estate agent dude” brings them there to show them a house.

It’s a bizarre film and I suppose part of the reason I liked it was that it had a Twilight Zone vibe & that (original series) TV show will forever be my absolute favorite. Adore it. This movie reminds me of one very specific Twilight Zone episode where a couple wake up in an empty town (Stopover In A Quiet Town is the episode if you’re curious. A classic!). So I loved the feel of this film. It was bonkers & unsettling & the kid in it gave me the absolute creeps. And I’m still not 100% sure what the hell was going on or what the point of the whole thing was but it was certainly one of the more entertaining stories I’ve seen in a while. I guess it was about being stuck in suburbia & doing exactly what society expects of you.

If you love The Twilight Zone or maybe a bit of Black Mirror or if you just like your films to be weird & unpredictable because like me you watch too many movies & get bored seeing the same old shit, it might be worth checking this one out (I saw it on Film4). You might hate it. You might love it. You probably won’t forget it. And the kid might haunt your nightmares.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Dave Made A Maze (2017)

Directed by Bill Watterson

Starring: Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Kirsten Vangsness, Stephanie Allynne, James Urbaniak, Scott Krinsky, Adam Busch, John Hennigan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film centers on the titular Dave who builds a cardboard fort that somehow supernaturally houses an entire labyrinth full of deadly traps and creatures.

My Opinion:

Another weird film that I also, of course, enjoyed. I’m a creep! I’m a weeeeeiiiiiiirdooooooo! Amazon Prime had been pushing this on me for a while & I suddenly decided to give it a try one day when I noticed it was only 80 minutes (I’m not one of these “I can’t watch long movies!” people – I just don’t have much spare time). Again, like Vivarium, I loved the concept. This artist dude builds a maze of cardboard boxes & gets lost and trapped inside it as it grows & takes on a life of its own. His girlfriend enlists the help of some of their friends to go in after him but they of course end up trapped too.

It’s a fun film and a mix of genres (fantasy, adventure, comedy & horror according to Wikipedia). The characters are pretty likeable & the “horror” is only comedy horror with some funny cartoonish blood. Where Vivarium made me think of a good Twilight Zone episode, the synopsis of this one made me think of an absolutely fantastic short story called Voluntary Committal by Joe Hill in his collection 20th Century Ghosts (which I highly recommend if you like good short stories). They’re very different stories overall but I like the concept of a spooky maze made out of boxes, I guess. Anyway – this is a fun film & the plot is unique so check it out on Amazon Prime if you want a short film with a quirky sense of humor.

My Rating: 7/10

Suspiria (1977) Review

Hi All! I’ve not been around as am having a difficult year. But I miss blogging & have still been watching & logging some movies. I do have a post ready to go with what I watched in January but I rewatched Suspiria recently & felt like doing a quick mini-review.

Okay – WHY are there no cool landscape posters for this film?! So I had to use that squished image above so this post doesn’t look crap in the preview & on Twitter. I like that image, though, and it’s the main one I always see for this movie so here’s the big version:

Suspiria (Latin: [sʊsˈpiːri.a]) (that looks cool) (1977)

Directed by Dario Argento

Screenplay by Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi

Based on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey

Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Eva Axén, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett

Music by Goblin & Dario Argento

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Jessica Harper as an American ballet student who transfers to a prestigious dance academy in Germany but realizes, after a series of brutal murders, that the academy is a front for a supernatural conspiracy.

My Opinion:

I watched this once years ago but hadn’t seen it since. Then in the past few years I’ve tried to delve into the Giallo horror thing a bit & liked Argento’s Deep Red a lot, calling it the more “accessible” film compared to Suspiria. I’ve watched several other Argento films since as well, including the kooky Phenomena, but none of them have compared to Suspiria or Deep Red. I figured it was time to refresh my memory of this film & see how I really feel about it as I know its Goblin score FAR better than the film itself (god I love that bloody brilliant, loud & distracting score!!!).

I have to say that, on a rewatch, I think I may now absolutely love Suspiria. I still think it’s a mess story-wise, as most of Argento’s films (making Deep Red the most coherent in comparison). But I don’t really care about the story when it comes to films like these as I’m such a sucker for atmospheric films with stunning visuals & fantastic scores and this is one of the all-time greats in those regards. It’s gorgeous! I’m thinking of posting this mini-review separately just so I can add loads of images from the movie to the post (Okay – I’ve obviously decided to do that instead of just putting this in my monthly roundup post). Here are some more images:

And I’m still in love with the score. It was really hard to be sneaky & try to watch this one late at night when the Goblin music started BLARING in between the dialogue you can barely hear at all. Love it – it really adds to the film’s unsettling feel. I just love the overall vibe of horror movies from the ’70s. So few horror movies have style these days & even fewer are able to capture that eerie aura of classic horror. Am really happy I decided to rewatch this one as it’s definitely gone up in my estimation. Yay! Maybe I DO like Italian horror! Well, two of them anyway…

My Rating: 8.5/10