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

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

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

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

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

Top Thirty:

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

Top Twenty:

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

Top Ten:

10. Mandy

9. Predestination

8. Blade Runner 2049

7. TIE: The Babadook & It Follows

6. Train To Busan

5. Ex Machina

4. Room

3. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

2. Inside Out

1. Arrival

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

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

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

The Tale Of Princess Kaguya
When Marnie Was There

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

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

My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases

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

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

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

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

Top Thirty:

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

Top Twenty:

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

Top Ten:

10. Jumanji: The Next Level – 7.5/10

9. Joker – 7.5/10

8. Hustlers – 7.5/10

7. Judy – 7.5/10

6. It Chapter Two – 7.5/10

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

4. Yesterday – 7.5/10

3. Fighting With My Family – 7.5/10

2. Alita: Battle Angel – 7.5/10

1. Doctor Sleep – 8/10

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

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

My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019

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

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

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

Top Thirty:

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

Top Twenty:

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

Top Ten:

10. The Hunt (Jagten) – 7.5/10

9. Miss Hokusai – 7.5/10

8. Wind River – 7.5/10

7. El Topo – 7.5/10

6. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10

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

4. Ip Man – 8/10

3. Yojimbo – 8/10

2. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10

1. A Matter Of Life And Death – 8/10

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

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

My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

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

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

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

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

10. Dreamscape – 6/10

9. The Wild Bunch – 7/10

8. Paris, Texas – 7/10

7. Paprika – 7/10

6. Mississippi Burning – 7/10

5. Midnight Express – 7/10

4. El Topo – 7.5/10

3. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10

2. Ip Man – 8/10

1. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10

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

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

My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019

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

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

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

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

12. The Grand Budapest Hotel – 5/10

11. Oldboy (2003) – 5/10

10. 3 Idiots – 7/10

9. The Wild Bunch – 7/10

8. The Killing – 7/10

7. Touch Of Evil – 7/10

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

5. The Hunt (Jagten) – 7.5/10

4. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10

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

2. Ip Man – 8/10

1. Yojimbo – 8/10

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

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

My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019

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

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

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

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

8. A Silent Voice

7. Lu Over The Wall

6. Big Fish & Begonia

5. Ocean Waves

4. In This Corner Of The World

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

2. Paprika

1. Miss Hokusai

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

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

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

Five Feet Apart (2019)

Directed by Justin Baldoni

Starring: Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moisés Arias

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Knight Before Christmas (2019)

Directed by Monika Mitchell

Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Josh Whitehouse, Emmanuelle Chriqui

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

My Opinion:

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

My Rating: 5.5/10

Destination Wedding (2019)

Directed & Written by Victor Levin

Starring: Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves

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

My Opinion:

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

My Rating: 5/10

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

Marriage Story (2019)

Directed & Written by Noah Baumbach

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

Music by Randy Newman

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 5.5/10

Brittany Runs A Marathon (2019)

Directed & Written by Paul Downs Colaizzo

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

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

My Opinion:

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

My Rating: 5/10

Support The Girls (2018)

Directed & Written by Andrew Bujalski

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

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

My Opinion:

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

My Rating: 6/10

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Review

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Based on Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Knives Out (2019) Review

Knives Out (2019)

Directed & Written by Rian Johnson

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

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

Directed by James Mangold

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019) Review

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019)

Directed by J. J. Abrams

Based on Characters by George Lucas

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

Music by John Williams

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Last Christmas (2019) Review

Last Christmas (2019)

Directed by Paul Feig

Screenplay by Emma Thompson & Bryony Kimmings

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

Frozen 2 (2019) Review

Frozen 2 (2019)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

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

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

City Of God (Cidade de Deus) (2002) Review For The Luso World Cinema Blogathon

I’m taking part in the Luso World Cinema Blogathon hosted by Crítica Retrô and Spellbound By Movies. You can read all about the blogathon HERE & HERE. Thanks for letting me participate! I look forward to reading all the entries. 🙂

My entry is a review of the 2002 Portuguese language film City Of God, which was nominated for four Oscars and is currently ranked 22nd in the IMDb Top 250. I originally watched & reviewed this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project and as a Resolutions 2014 film as I’d been meaning to make the time to watch it. I admit that my knowledge is very limited when it comes to Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking countries) films. So I’m very interested in reading the other entries as I do try to explore all types of cinema. But, yeah – I had to use the Keanu Reeves banner. Who doesn’t love Keanu!!

Here’s my uneducated review of City Of God. I’m sure I don’t do it justice but it is a really good film.

City Of God (2002)
Portuguese: Cidade de Deus

Directed by Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund (co-director)

Based on City of God by Paulo Lins

Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Alice Braga, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins, but the plot is loosely based on real events. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980s, with the closure of the film depicting the war between the drug dealer Li’l Zé and criminal Knockout Ned. The tagline is “If you run, the beast catches; if you stay, the beast eats”, (a proverb analogous to the English “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”).

My Opinion:

I’d been curious about this movie for a long time as it’s SO high in the IMDB Top 250 films of all-time (it’s currently number 22). I’ve been working my way through the 250 since starting my blog as I have a challenge to try to watch them all and this was the second highest ranking film I’d not yet seen.

It’s good, yes. I liked it. Does it deserve to be above things like Once Upon A Time In The West & It’s A Wonderful Life? I’m not sure about that. It’s definitely a fascinating look at a lifestyle that I (luckily) can’t really relate to as someone from a very small town in the American Midwest. I know this is “loosely based on real events” but haven’t looked into it enough to know what is fact and what isn’t. Either way, it’s awful knowing that people have had to live this way and terrifying to see the ease with which some of the characters in this engage in violent activity and don’t think twice about taking someone’s life.

I will say that I can partly see why this film is so popular, even though it’s not really my kind of thing. There are some great characters in this. The lead & narrator, Rocket (above), is the one truly “good guy” in a film filled with people who seem to have no conscience and you really do want the best for him. His friend Benny is very cool – he’s the guy everyone likes and he helps to keep the peace a bit between the two main rival gangs who are controlling the area. I love that this takes place during the late 60s into the early 80s & Benny adopts a groovy 70’s look. Then there’s Knockout Ned, a great character I’d love to have seen be a bit further developed (although he’s more well-developed than most of the characters in this) and the truly amoral Li’l Zé, who is the most powerful criminal in the area.

What’s amazing is I read that only one person in this was a professional experienced actor and the majority were people from “favelas” (shanty towns) and some from the actual City Of God who were chosen and then trained in acting as the director wanted the film to feel authentic. I’ll say that it definitely worked and the “actors” in this did an excellent job. I felt bad after giving Slumdog Millionaire a horrible review & then finding out some of those in it were from real-life slums (turns out it was the kids, who were the only good thing about that film anyway). Fortunately, City Of God is a much better film than Slumdog Millionaire and feels very real whereas Millionaire felt like it was trying too hard and just felt phoney to me (sorry, fans!).

I’ve just scratched the surface on the characters as there are LOTS of them in this film but those are some of the main ones & the most memorable. But as there are so many, we unfortunately don’t get as much character development as I’d like to have had. Why do they do the things that they do? I suppose it’s because they don’t have much other choice. But then why does Rocket manage to remain a “good guy”? We’re given a reason for Knockout Ned making the choices he makes but not really for why Li’l Zé is so evil. But, as I’ve said, it really isn’t a lifestyle I have any sort of experience with so I can’t comment on it too much. This is sort of the Boyz N The Hood of Rio de Janeiro. I think that’s a great film as well but, again, I couldn’t fully relate to it. But both films are certainly worth a watch to gain at least a small understanding of what it’s like for those who have no choice but to live a life surrounded by poverty and/or violence and to be grateful for the lives so many of us are fortunate to have outside of that.

Was City Of God a worthy watch? Yes – I’m glad I finally watched it. It won’t become an all-time favorite of mine like some of the IMDB Top 250 films I’ve watched in the last few years already have but I’d recommend it to anyone who thinks that it sounds like their sort of film. The performances are very good & the movie isn’t preachy – it just shows us the poor & violent lives led by those living in & around the City Of God from the late 60s to the early 80s.

My Rating: 8/10

Judy (2019) Review

Judy (2019)

Directed by Rupert Goold

Based on End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.

My Opinion:

I liked this movie a lot and way more than I was expecting. As much as I’m a film lover, I’ve not explored Judy Garland’s stuff at all and know almost nothing about her. It’s strange as The Wizard Of Oz has been one of my favorite movies since I was a kid. I absolutely adore it and everything about it is so iconic. Why did I never watch anything else she’s been in? I suppose it’s because I’m not usually a big fan of musicals. Shameful! I really must explore more of her work.

Maybe I was able to buy into this more as I’m not a massive Judy Garland fan like so many people are? As I never saw much of the real Garland, I was able to fully accept Renée Zellweger as Judy. I’m not sure I’m a Zellweger fan as I’ve never really loved her in anything but I thought she was great in this. I do wonder what Garland experts thought of her performance. I have no idea but I loved it and I felt so much sympathy for her, which I think was important. I think people are often a bit dismissive of “troubled” famous people who overdose. I can’t imagine the pressures involved with fame but it’s clearly a big problem as early death is quite common for stars. And I guess I knew she was young when she died but, damn – it really hit me during this film upon realizing I’m almost the same age now. I know I’m far from young but also far too young to die. I even almost got teary at the end of this film and I’m not one to fall for tearjerkers very often. So, yeah – I think Zellweger did a great job in making Judy seem so human and so sympathetic and in making me want to know more about her now.

I maybe shouldn’t have mentioned the term “tearjerker”. It’s not at all how I’d describe this movie, although it certainly has emotional moments. I’m glad the movie told her story in a very straightforward way without making it into some heavy drama. I hate that over the top Oscar-bait and Judy doesn’t do that. It’s not contrived. It’s a little melancholy but not dreary. As so much of the focus is on her final performances, I would think that Judy fans probably got a lot of enjoyment out of watching this movie & hearing those songs.

I’d say, though, that if you want Garland’s life story this movie isn’t where you’ll get it. Which is fine. It just very much focuses mainly on her last year of life and a tiny bit on her very start in show business. There’s nothing whatsoever in between but, as I always say, if you want a factual full life story you should just watch a documentary. It also gives me a chance to find out more on my own & to explore the movies I missed (I’ve been meaning to watch Meet Me In St. Louis for years). I really liked the focus being that final year.

I should quickly add that everyone else did a very good job in the film as well and it was good to see Judy’s relationships in her final year. But this movie is truly Zellweger’s and Judy is the true star and center of attention. As she deserved to be. I do hope Zellweger gets an Oscar nomination for this and wish the movie had better reviews than it seems to have received. As I said, I think that may be because it’s not dramatic enough for the Academy. For me, it felt more real the way it was presented and I wish life had been easier for Garland.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Joker (2019) Review

Joker (2019)

Directed by Todd Phillips

Based on Characters by DC Comics

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

Music by Hildur Guðnadóttir

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
An origin story set in 1981, the film follows Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City.

My Opinion:

I guess it’s about time I review this? As it came out in October, I didnt review it as I was only posting horror movie reviews. Plus I didn’t really have the energy to review it while everyone was freaking out about it on Twitter. While people were using the phrase “toxic white males” yet again (as if ALL humans aren’t toxic pieces of shit) and while America was freaking out about people potentially being shot in cinemas showing Joker since America allows everyone to walk around like armed vigilantes. Do I swear too much?! When I tried typing “cinemas” just now my spellchecker changed it to “cuntbags”. Anyway, while things have calmed down a bit, I’ll now review this. Can’t wait for the next Shitstorm when this is up for Oscars!

This is a good film with a great performance. Is it a masterpiece? Not in my opinion but I wouldn’t argue with those who did love it as I can see the reasons why. I have to admit I’m sick of “comic book” movies but especially sick of Batman & the Joker. I haven’t really liked either character since Tim Burton’s versions in 1989. I’m even almost starting to hate Christopher Nolan’s films as they’re SO overhyped by obsessive fans (although I did think Heath Ledger was very good). Okay – I don’t know Mark Hamill’s version but do love the guy so would likely enjoy his Joker. I have NO knowledge of the comics or these characters beyond what’s been shown in movies. I admit that. This review is based only on my opinion as a lover of film.

What I did like, not being a comic fan, is that Joker didn’t feel at all like a comic book or DC movie. Hell, it barely felt like the Joker character to me. It truly is more like a Martin Scorsese film (specifically The King Of Comedy, as everyone knows). I think Scorsese’s films are very good, although he’s not a favorite director of mine as his movies aren’t usually my type of thing. I did a Scorsese Top Ten list (HERE). I do really like my top five or six and The King Of Comedy is one of them, so I did enjoy Joker’s homage to that film and its brilliant use of Robert De Niro. I liked the film’s tone and its score was perfect for it. I did think Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic and absolutely deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for his performance (even if it sounds like he’s a pain in the ass diva to work with). Yeah, yeah – Actresses aren’t allowed to be “difficult” while actors are called brilliant when they behave that way. I totally agree there’s a double standard there and it’s unfair. I think all artists should be allowed to be difficult (within limits, obviously) if it produces great results. I guess it worked in the case of Joker as it’s certainly Joaquin’s performance of a lifetime. I don’t care – I’ll never work have to work with him! I preferred River Phoenix anyway (R.I.P. – I’ll forever be sad about that one the way younger people still aren’t over Heath Ledger).

I suppose I better address some of the controversy. I’m still a little baffled by it. I can see people thinking the movie may encourage people who feel fucked-over by society to engage in violent and destructive behavior. But movies like this one have existed for years. Why are we suddenly worried that a movie will push some people over the edge? Or is it because of social media that we just hear the complaints more these days? I remember it being controversial but did people freak out quite as much when Natural Born Killers came out?

I think the issue here may be that people think the Joker was portrayed as a sympathetic character and one who disturbed people may see as a sort of hero. I admit that I did feel somewhat sympathetic toward his character to start with. But that was gone by the end. People don’t like that the movie is blaming society for the seeming rise in violent & dangerous men. But, well, it IS to blame. Is it not? Gotham City in this film looks and feels no different than any big American city now. The movie is also trying to make a point about failing those with mental health issues.

Well. Whatever. I don’t give a shit about any controversy. I think there are far more offensive and far more destructive films out there. This is probably the best movie that has the Joker it it. I just wish it wasn’t the Joker. I’d rather it was a regular, non-comic book guy who gets pushed too far. But it’s a very good film. It’s better than most comic book movies. The fact that it is still a comic book movie to me probably keeps me from seeing it as an instant classic the way some people are seeing it. Maybe I’m snobby like Scorsese.

My Rating: 7.5/10

I Am Mother (2019) Review

I Am Mother (2019)

Directed by Grant Sputore

Story by Michael Lloyd Green & Grant Sputore

Starring: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows Daughter, a girl in a post-apocalyptic bunker, being raised by Mother, an android supposed to aid in the repopulation of Earth.

My Opinion:

I don’t watch many of the “direct to Netflix” movies because I’ve been very disappointed with what I’ve seen so far. I did enjoy this one, though. I admit it’s far from perfect but I’m always less picky with sci-fi films for some reason. It’s my favorite genre so I’m always happy to watch some science fiction, even if it’s not perfect. I especially love post-apocalyptic sci-fi (what’s wrong with me??). As long as the story is decent, I’m happy. I Am Mother has a good concept & story.

This is definitely a movie that not everyone will like. It has very few roles; It really is just Clara Rugaard & Hilary Swank with Rose Byrne as the voice of the android raising the girl. So it’s very focused on them and their situation & performances. There are no huge explosions or loads of action or any of that, so don’t expect some Terminator-type movie (by the way, Terminator: Dark Fate pissed me off). If you like slow, serious science fiction & a good story that keeps you guessing, this movie may be your type of thing.

Clara Rugaard was really good as the teenage “Daughter”. I’ve not seen her in anything before. It would be good to see her in other roles now as she really carries this film as the main human character. Hilary Swank was fine as the stranger but I find that sometimes I like her & sometimes I don’t. I thought she was fantastic in Million Dollar Baby and it’s strange how she’s a two-time Oscar winner but hasn’t had big roles since. Her character isn’t exactly likeable here but, hell, there’s been an apocalypse and life has been super shitty for her so I guess we can let her be angry & intense. As for “Mother”, the android, she has an effective design and Byrne’s voice worked well as a very comforting, motherly voice. Which is what this android was of course designed for.

I don’t have a lot more to say about this but it’s one where you’re better off going into it knowing very little about it. I liked that it wasn’t predictable, which most movies are these days. I don’t want to be able to predict the ending from the very start so was happy to be kept guessing throughout this film. The budget probably wasn’t the highest and if you don’t like either of the two main human characters for some reason, you may not enjoy this. But it’s a good, solid sci-fi story that I enjoyed seeing unfold. I thought I Am Mother was better than a lot of bigger budget movies that get full cinema releases.

My Rating: 7/10

The Farewell (2019) Review

The Farewell (2019) (別告訴她) (Bié Gàosù Tā)

Directed by Lulu Wang

Based on What You Don’t Know by Lulu Wang

Starring: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen, Lu Hong, Jiang Yongbo

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a family who, upon learning their grandmother has only a short while left to live, decide not to tell her and schedule a family gathering before she dies.

My Opinion:

This was a really good & heartwarming family film. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel, as Awkwafina can be a little annoying (like in Crazy Rich Asians, although she was also kind of fun in that). But that was a comedy and she’s good here in a very different & much more serious role. It’s not too serious, though. Although a sad topic, this isn’t a dreary film. It’s a lovely film with a likeable family but also plenty of humor.

The film is based partly on writer & director Lulu Wang’s real life experiences. In the story, a family learns that their grandmother has cancer & is dying so they decide to not tell her & instead plan a family gathering by pretending a grandson is going to get married. Granddaughter Awkwafina, having lived in America so long and now being a part of that culture, doesn’t agree with the truth being kept from her grandmother although it’s a common thing to do in China. The grandmother is great and the family feel real. They aren’t perfect and they have their differences & disagreements but they are also clearly very close. I’m afraid this isn’t sounding very exciting from my description! This isn’t some boring tearjerker (it’s a comedy drama). The characters are well developed and you care about them, which can’t be said for a lot of movies. It’s fairly lightweight – it’s not a hard-hitting drama. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon family film without too much drama and without being too saccharine.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Hustlers (2019) Review

Hustlers (2019)

Directed by Lorene Scafaria

Based on “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler

Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, Cardi B

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a crew of strippers in New York City who begin to steal money by drugging stock traders and CEOs who visit their club, then running up their credit cards.

My Opinion:

Wow. I was NOT expecting to like this one as much as I did. In fact, I had no intention of even going to it until it started getting great reviews. For one thing, Cardi B annoys the shit out of me. But she only has a really small role and, to be honest, she was perfect for it. Also, I’m just really not a chick flick girly girl. However, I do like Jennifer Lopez so figured I’d give this one a chance after all. Good god J-Lo is sexy!!! She’s 50! That BODY! How does she keep that body like that? How can I have a body like that?? I want it. Do I have to stop eating Doritos?!

This turned out to not be a silly “chick flick”, although I suppose it is aimed more at women than men. What I liked is that these characters felt very real. I mean, it IS based on a true story but the character development was very good for Constance Wu’s & Jennifer Lopez’s characters. We didn’t learn anything about the other girls but that didn’t matter as they weren’t the focus of the story. Their friendship felt genuine and Lopez was absolutely brilliant in this role. I’d actually love to see her get a nomination for this role but The Academy is very unlikely to give out awards to a “stripper movie”. Then again, it would be good for their image since everyone thinks the Oscars are all about old white men these days… Nominate J-Lo! She should get an Oscar for her performance and an Oscar for that body.

This movie got the right balance in not demonizing these characters but also not making them into some sort of heroes. You’ll like the main two characters while at the same time thinking “Okay – you need to stop doing this”. What they did was wrong and they knew it was wrong but they were desperate, especially in Wu’s case. It became addicting and they took it too far. I think there was some slight backlash at first as people thought this movie was celebrating stealing from these men but this is not some “Men are evil! Fuck them! Girl power! Woohoo!” movie. Okay, yes – it’s hard to have sympathy for very rich men who visit strippers so it’s hard to see them as true victims here. It still doesn’t make what these girls did okay but the movie doesn’t force an opinion on you – It just presents the story and focuses on the two main characters and their motivations. It’s up to you to decide what you think of them. I just really enjoyed seeing a movie with such strong characters, great pacing & storytelling, and an awesome performance from Jennifer Lopez.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Review

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Directed by Tim Miller

Based on Characters by James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd

Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg human must protect a young girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.

My Opinion:

Oh – I had no idea that this was released in the UK just over a week before the US?? Woohoo! We always get stuff last! Too bad this one sucked. Well, since it’s out in America today, I guess I better post a quick review.

Why can’t they just let things die?! Okay – I realize this review is starting out very negative. I didn’t HATE this sequel and did get a few moments of enjoyment out of it. But it’s just another completely pointless addition to a franchise that was perfect to begin with. Fuck all these sequels & reboots & remakes. Give us something original.

I’m a very big fan of The Terminator and thought Terminator 2: Judgment Day was great (and one of the all-time best sequels). Everything since has sucked. To be fair, the others didn’t damage the legacy as they were so forgettable. Honestly, I can’t now remember a damn thing that happened past T2. Which is fine as James Cameron has said those are part of an “alternate universe” and Dark Fate is a direct sequel to T2. Dark Fate is indeed better than the previous movies that followed T2. Unfortunately, being a direct sequel with both Linda Hamilton & Arnold Schwarzenegger, it DOES damage the legacy of the first two films. Especially Judgment Day. I’m so pissed off about a couple of things specifically that, any slight enjoyment I got out of seeing Sarah Connor & that kickass Terminator design once again, was completely ruined.

Well, we do indeed get to see Linda Hamilton & Arnold Schwarzenegger again. I admit that I loved that despite being pissed off and they’re by FAR the best things about Dark Fate. I still love the character of Sarah Connor and she still kicks ass, which is fantastic to see from a woman her age. Yes, I’m loving the increase in strong female characters lately, especially those who are over forty. I swear the world sometimes thinks we all cease to exist or be interesting after forty. I hate the strong female character thing when it’s forced, though. It wasn’t with Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley or even Laurie Strode. Nowadays it doesn’t always come naturally as they try to force an agenda into everything. Let stories and characters just be the best they can be by putting whoever will be strongest into a role, no matter who they are or what they might look like. Hamilton & Schwarzenegger are perfection. The new girl, Natalia Reyes, was perfectly fine. I liked that she’s not some kickass female, just like Sarah Connor wasn’t at first. She felt more real that way. However, I thought Mackenzie Davis was extremely miscast, although I’ve liked her in some other roles. I was fine with the extra role for a woman in this one as I thought the friendship between the three worked well. I just don’t think they cast the right actress in her case.

Schwarzenegger, though cool as always and surprisingly funny (should a killer robot dude be funny?!), was a bit wasted. That was a shame. It took way too long for him to show up but luckily he did, as the movie was seriously dragging by that point and needed him to spice things up. Hamilton seemed a bit too cool with seeing him again, though. Remember how much she freaked out in T2?! Not that it matters since, as I said, this movie shits on T2‘s legacy. Oh, I didn’t mention the new Terminator dude (Gabriel Luna). Meh. Who cares? He can do one new very cool trick that I liked but I’m still too pissed off for that to impress me. Oh, and the action gets too far-fetched to be taken at all seriously near the end. I don’t want a Terminator film to be laughable. The first two are classics and should’ve been left the hell alone.

Oh well. As I said, we get to see Schwarzenegger & Hamilton again. I’ll forget this plot in a few years anyway. I’ll be generous with my rating but it’s thanks only to seeing these two reprising their very iconic roles. The rest of the movie wasn’t needed. We didn’t need this!!!

My Rating: 6.5/10

Let’s listen to Brad Fiedel’s awesome Terminator theme. They don’t make movies or music like this anymore…

2019 October Horror Month Roundup & My Top Ten

Happy Halloween! I’ve enjoyed doing Halloween Horror Month yet again but this was probably my last year. It’s too time consuming plus I’m now way behind on reviewing current non-horror movie releases. I’ve also once again watched WAY too many bad horror movies in the past year. Of those below, I only really loved the top two and thought the next few were quite good. The rest of the Top Twenty were decent enough to pass some time but my life would still be complete if I’d seen none of the rest (it might even be better!). I also have a few thrillers as well as full-on horrors on this list.

So, counting down to my favorite, here’s my ranked list of the 43 horrors & thrillers I’ve watched & reviewed since last October:

43-31:

43. Starry Eyes
42. In The Tall Grass
41. Better Watch Out
40. Winchester
39. Bird Box
38. Ghost Stories
37. Cam
36. The Love Witch
35. The Stuff
34. The Funhouse
33. Amber Lake
32. Unsane
31. Slaughterhouse Rulez

30-21:

30. Suspiria (2018)
29. The Sentinel (1977)
28. Shocker
27. The Monster (2016)
26. American Mary
25. The Legacy
24. The Addams Family (2019)
23. Happy Death Day 2U
22. Breaking In
21. Truth Or Dare

20-11:

20. Crawl
19. Curtains (1983)
18. Brightburn
17. Annabelle Comes Home
16. Repulsion
15. Greta
14. Zombieland: Double Tap
13. Pet Sematary (2019)
12. Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil
11. Searching

Top Ten:

10. Single White Female

9. Ma

8. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

7. Ready Or Not

6. Child’s Play (2019)

5. Us

4. Midsommar

3. It Chapter Two

2. Doctor Sleep

1. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

I did also do (very brief) reviews of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep novel and King & son Joe Hill’s short story In The Tall Grass HERE.

I keep using Deep Red imagery in this post because it’s awesome. As is the fantastic Goblin score…

Now I can move onto reviewing the non-horror 2019 releases that I saw in the past two months. Here’s what I’ll try to review over the next month:

Hustlers – 7.5/10
Judy – 7.5/10
Joker – 7.5/10
The Farewell – 7.5/10
I Am Mother – 7/10
Terminator: Dark Fate – 6.5/10 (My review for this is written – I’ll post it tomorrow)

*Yeah, I finally got myself an Unlimited cinema card. I watch way too many movies…

Doctor Sleep (2019) Review

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Based on Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis

Music by The Newton Brothers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.

My Opinion:

I watched Doctor Sleep today and don’t have a lot of time so I’ll keep this very brief. I wanted to quickly write something about it, though, since it makes sense to review it on Halloween. I adore Stephen King and try to read or watch at least one thing of his each October. I love that there’s SO much King content lately (Well, I didn’t love In The Tall Grass. Ugh.) You can find my very short reviews for the Doctor Sleep novel as well as the In The Tall Grass short story HERE.

I’m a huge fan of The Shining. And by that, I mean the Stanley Kubrick film that Stephen King hates. I of course love the novel as well but, as I saw The Shining at a fairly young age, it’s one of very few King adaptations I saw before reading the book. I hate doing it that way around but it can sometimes make you slightly prefer the movie as it’s the version you knew first. I love both the book and the movie but The Shining is a brilliant piece of filmmaking and will forever be one of my all-time favorite films. So I actually had the film version in my head more than the novel as I watched this sequel.

Doctor Sleep is good. From what I remember of the book at this point, it’s a faithful adaptation. Flanagan, who I’m starting to really like and whose adaptation of Gerald’s Game I thoroughly enjoyed, does a good job of keeping the fans of the novels as well as fans of Kubrick’s film happy. It’s no masterpiece, though. I do think it’s been hyped up too much by horror fans.

As for the story itself, I liked it but didn’t love it but I already knew that going into the movie. I far prefer the simplicity of the story in The Shining. I’m someone who does love the supernatural more than any other type of horror but the whole thing with The True Knot was always a bit too far out and silly for me, even for a Stephen King story. The Shining is far more scary as it feels somewhat more plausible and also leaves more to your imagination. Not only is it one of the best psychological horrors with a truly terrifying descent into madness, it’s also a damn good and thoroughly creepy ghost story. We don’t get many good ghost stories. Comparing just the films themselves, Doctor Sleep has none of the special atmosphere of The Shining. I’m not someone who is ever scared by movies but The Shining comes closer than most to being truly scary thanks to its tone and its score and its carpet and I suppose the fact that it was made by such a gifted director. The Shining is a work of art whereas Doctor Sleep is just a good horror movie.

Okay – I’m not sure if I’m making sense since I’ve only just seen this and I’m trying to post a quick review before Halloween is over. I enjoyed Doctor Sleep but it had a hell of a lot to live up to. To be fair, the novel itself didn’t live up to the first book either. I’m glad the movie stayed faithful to the book but am not sure yet how I feel about bits of Stanley Kubrick’s film being recreated. At first I felt a little warm & fuzzy about it but then I kind of maybe didn’t like it so much. Kubrick’s film is beautiful & so iconic. I’m not sure I wanted to ever see it with lookalikes??

Ewan McGregor is fine as Dan Torrance and Kyliegh Curran is likeable as Abra. Their friendship is great but I didn’t really feel a strong connection between them. The true star of this film is actually Rebecca Ferguson as Rose The Hat. She’s awesome! She’s a horrible, evil bitch. Is it weird that I think I have a slight girl crush on her? She’s scary & sexy and one of the best villains we’ve had in horror in quite a while. So, I did enjoy her performance and I did like seeing the story unfold. I watch all Stephen King adaptations and always enjoy them, even when they aren’t so good (which unfortunately has been quite often). I’m happy to say that Doctor Sleep is definitely one of the better adaptations. However, it’s never going to be an all-time favorite of mine the way The Shining, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption are. I liked this film but I was hoping to love it. I actually think that It Chapter One was a better King adaptation from recent years. Oh well – at least Doctor Sleep did turn out better than It Chapter Two.

My Rating: 8/10

**I haven’t yet added Doctor Sleep to My Stephen King Movie Rankings. I have to give it a bit more time to sink in before I decide where to put it. I’m thinking it’s probably around 9 or 10. I was really hoping it would be higher…

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) (1975) Blind Spot Review

Deep Red (1975)
Italian: Profondo Rosso
(aka The Hatchet Murders)

Directed by Dario Argento

Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni,Giuliana Calandra

Music by Goblin & Giorgio Gaslini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Deep Red stars Macha Meril as a medium and David Hemmings as a pianist who investigates a series of murders performed by a mysterious figure wearing black leather gloves.

My Opinion:

Happy Halloween! I thought I better finally review one of my Blind Spot choices this year so it seemed like the perfect time for Dario Argento’s Deep Red. I do try to explore a little bit of most every genre of film but my knowledge of the Italian Giallo horror thing is severely lacking. This is my third Giallo horror and I’ve only seen Argento’s movies so far; Suspiria, which I saw years ago and should really watch again, and Phenomena as a Blind Spot a few years ago. While I still think Suspiria is the best mainly due to being so iconic (and having that amazing Goblin score), Deep Red may actually be the more “enjoyable” and certainly the more accessible film. If someone was entirely new to this genre and wanted a good film to start with, I’d probably recommend this before Suspiria just because it’s a much more straightforward murder mystery and far less strange. Both are absolute must sees for film fans, though – Deep Red is just an easier starting point.

I’ll start with the obvious things that made this such an enjoyable watch for me personally: The look & the imagery, the atmosphere, and the score. These are extremely important elements to me when it comes to all films but especially for horror. I admit that I’m old but there’s just something special about the look & feel of Seventies & early Eighties horror movies that very few modern horrors manage to achieve. We do occasionally get some good ones now but it’s interesting how often they try to copy the look of old films. It never quite works, though. I appreciate things like The House Of The Devil trying to look like a Seventies film but no modern movies ever manage to fully capture that mood and it always just feels like modern actors playing dress up (true for non-horrors too, such as American Hustle). Deep Red has a brilliant Seventies vibe. The clothing! The awful hair! The ugly decor! A stunning & creepy old abandoned mansion! Then we also get some amazing imagery, some of which I’ve posted but others that I can’t due to spoilers. We get a couple of creepy dolls (I love creepy dolls!), lots of that super bright red blood they seemed to use in Italian horror, a big sharp knife in a famous spoiler image, funky artwork on the walls, and closeups of the killer’s eye and the killer’s strange trinkets.

The imagery is fantastic but the score is just as important for setting the mood in this sort of film. I don’t know why modern movies so often seem to care so little about the score. A great score can turn a movie I like into a movie I love. Hell, I know I rated The Good, The Bad And The Ugly much more highly than I would’ve without Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece score (Italians do it better! Wasn’t that on a Madonna t-shirt?!). Goblin did the Deep Red score and I already love it along with the soundtracks for Suspiria and Dawn Of The Dead (1978), an all-time favorite film of mine. Many of my favorite films also have brilliant scores so I do think the music is important. I’ve added a clip of this Goblin score at the end of this post. Goblin feature heavily on my phone’s playlist. I know the scores to these Argento movies better than I know the movies themselves. I now want to watch every single movie that has a Goblin score (but I think a lot of them are very obscure and I’m sure the music is much better than the films).

Atmosphere & music aside, Deep Red also has a decent murder mystery as well as some good characters. David Hemmings is good and I enjoyed watching him investigate these murders, especially when he explores a lovely old mansion as the main Goblin theme below plays. Daria Nicolodi is great as the female reporter who joins Hemmings in his investigations. The two had really good chemistry and I liked her sassy attitude. She added a bit of humor to the movie, which I wasn’t expecting in a Dario Argento horror. So, while I personally always prefer the supernatural and things like witches in Suspiria to murder mysteries, I can see plenty of people actually preferring Deep Red. I’m not sure why it doesn’t seem as popular or quite as well known as Suspiria? I think Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso) is a brilliant horror classic and I’d recommend it to anyone curious about this genre. I’m glad I finally watched it as I’ve seen way too many bad horrors in 2019. Deep Red is by far my favorite of those I’ve watched in the past year.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s part of the fantastic Goblin score. Love it. I wish movie scores were still as brilliant as they were in the Seventies & Eighties…

**As this posts, I’ll be watching Doctor Sleep. I’ll try to do at least a quick review by the end of today, although I may not have time. I love Stephen King and have very high hopes based on the trailer…

In The Tall Grass (2019) Review

In The Tall Grass (2019)

Directed by Vincenzo Natali

Based on In the Tall Grass by Stephen King & Joe Hill

Starring: Harrison Gilbertson, Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted, Will Buie Jr, Rachel Wilson, Patrick Wilson, Tiffany Helm

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After hearing a young boy’s cry for help, a sister and brother venture into a vast field of tall grass in Kansas but soon discover there may be no way out… and that something evil lurks within.

My Opinion:

I reviewed this Joe Hill & Stephen King short story earlier today (review HERE). They’re my favorite authors and I read and watch all things Stephen King-related so I of course had to check this out. Well, the short story is certainly never going to be a favorite story of mine from either writer. It has the movie beat, though. I know there have been some godawful King movie adaptations and In The Tall Grass is unfortunately one of the bad ones.

I suspected that it would go all wrong. This is a very short story so I knew they’d have to add stuff to stretch it out into a 1 hour 41 minute movie. Making shit up rarely works and the additional stuff they added was stupid as shit. Here’s what they added (SPOILERS):

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The boyfriend, who isn’t in the story AT ALL (don’t think he was really even mentioned) and that TIME LOOP BULLSHIT. WTF was with the time travel shit?! That’s not in the story! Also… that “happy” ending. Why? Can people not have unhappy endings anymore?? The movie adaptation started out fine and seemed to be following the story pretty closely. Then the boyfriend showed up and started bouncing around in time and they all found each other in the tall grass. What?! A main part of the story is that THEY CAN’T FIND EACH OTHER IN THE GRASS even when it sounds like they’re right next to each other!!!

Why, of all the stories to adapt, did they choose this one? And why, of all the additional things they could’ve added to this movie, did they decide to go with time loop shit? It was ridiculous and made zero sense. They took a pretty straightforward creepy story and turned it into a silly, incoherent mess. The characters also had zero development, which was pretty amazing considering the 40ish page story managed to do okay with the brother and sister but the hour and a half film left you knowing nothing about them. The acting was also dreadful, especially from the guy playing the brother and Patrick Wilson (but I’ve always found him a bore). The icky stuff that turned me off of the book was in this too but not really focused on (and undone with time loop bullshit anyway). Hill and King have SO many absolutely brilliant short stories. Why someone took a fairly bad one and decided to make it a thousand times worse by changing it so much is beyond me.

My Rating: 4/10

I need to add this to my ranked list of all Stephen King Movie Adaptations. It’s probably third from the bottom (out of 45). I’m seeing Doctor Sleep tomorrow. Hoping it’s MUCH better than this!

I’ll try to review Doctor Sleep tomorrow but, if I don’t have time, I do already have my review of Dario Argento’s Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) scheduled to post as this year’s Halloween review. I liked it a lot, which makes up for all the bad horrors I watched this year.