Oops. Watched too many movies in May. Several were GREAT, loads were GOOD, a few were MEH, and a couple were AWFUL. Managed to review them all on my Letterboxd, too, so here are those reviews…
MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY (ranked best to worst):
– Lucky – I clearly love the art of cinema and it’s because of films like Lucky. This was just fantastic. Harry Dean Stanton rightly deserved the praise he got for this role. He’s 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.
I found this film very moving so did a slightly longer blog post about it here. – 8.5/10
– Days Of Heaven – Thought this film looked gorgeous, as to be expected. That farm was beautiful – I wish I could live there (but with modern conveniences, right?!). And I’m always happy about an Ennio Morricone score so enjoyed that as well plus liked the story & thought the performance from the young Linda Manz was very good. Her character was the highlight of the film for me.
This is only the second Terrence Malick film I’ve seen after watching Badlands many years ago. I liked this much more than I was expecting. Maybe I should finally give The Tree Of Life a try… – 8/10
– Safety Last! – This was delightful. Having explored (and absolutely loved) Charlie Chaplin’s work, I’ve now watched two Buster Keaton films then this as my first Harold Lloyd film. Think this is my second favorite after the Chaplin stuff. While Keaton had extremely impressive stunts, I loved the humor in Lloyd’s work here. Found myself smiling in a way very few modern comedies manage to make me do. A scene with a (probably) simple trick of hiding behind two coats was fantastic. And it goes without saying that the ending involving climbing the building & famously hanging from the clock is truly brilliant. One of my favorite films I’ve watched so far this year. – 8/10
– Land – Thought this Robin Wright directorial debut was really good but I guess it was overshadowed by Nomadland (I preferred this). Wright is great as a woman who chooses live alone in the wilderness after a tragic event. She is befriended by a man, played by Demián Bichir, and I really liked their relationship & the connection they had. I felt for these characters & found the film quite moving. Glad I checked it out. – 7.5/10
– Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! – This was even trashier than I was expecting and, wow, I also enjoyed it way more than I was expecting. Am I allowed to like this?? I don’t know the rules anymore. I have very little experience with exploitation flicks so don’t know if this was a good place to start or not? But I thoroughly enjoyed the dreadful acting, silly story, and how completely badass these women were. I can see why this movie has achieved cult status but suppose, as a female viewer, I liked slightly different things about this film than its original target audience?
And now I can’t get White Zombie out of my head… “I never try anything, I just do it. Wanna try me?” – 7/10
– The Phantom Carriage – Been meaning to watch this one for a while. Really enjoyed the story, even though it’s essentially the same story as a Christmas favorite of mine, and I loved the thought of someone having to take over driving Death’s carriage each year. Was hoping for more of a “horror” & the guy was far too hateful but I loved all the bits involving the carriage. Didn’t love this movie quite as much as the other silent films I’ve explored the past couple of months but it was definitely worth watching. – 7.5/10
– Ghostbusters: Afterlife – This was good fun. The kids were likeable, especially Mckenna Grace’s character & the boy who befriends her & calls himself Podcast. It remains respectful to the original & seeing those characters again was all warm & fuzzy & nostalgic. But it does rely a bit too much on fan service & far too much on reusing the same story, which was a shame. So as a stand-alone film probably hoping to gain new fans instead of just us Gen Xers, I’m not sure it quite achieved that. But being Gen X, I did thoroughly enjoy the big fan service mid-credits scene. – 7/10
– Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers – Never would’ve even thought to watch this until I saw everyone raving over it. It’s a fun film & I really liked the clever story & references. It’s not up there with all-time (fully animated) Disney classics & for me doesn’t have the rewatchability of those. But I enjoyed it & still can’t believe a Chip ‘n Dale movie is one of the better 2022 releases I’ve seen. And better than recent Pixar films, too… – 7/10
– Whistle And I’ll Come To You – Enjoyed this BBC short horror (currently on U.K. Amazon Prime). The great John Hurt plays a man who becomes haunted after leaving his wife in a care home. Some nice creepy moments in this. A good one to watch alone late at night. – 7/10
– Born Free – Oh, looks like I didn’t review this on Letterboxd other than saying “Baby lions!”. Well, yeah… Baby lions! They’re cute! Who doesn’t love cute baby animals?? Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis if you don’t know this film (I’d not heard of it before moving to the U.K.): “Born Free is a 1966 British drama film starring the real-life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Joy and George Adamson, another real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya.”
Enjoyed, well, the baby lions! Can’t believe this couple raised a lion, which became fully domesticated (making it very difficult when they try to release her back into the wild). Seriously – they lived with it & treated it like a house cat. I kept expecting them to get their faces ripped off. (Spoiler – there’s no face ripping). It’s a very “nice” film with a very easy-listening cheesy mid-60s theme song & I assume many British families saw it on weekend afternoons on TV over the years. The nice vibe was ruined when I Googled the real Joy and George Adamson, though. Damn! It didn’t end well for either of them. What a shame. They certainly led very interesting lives. – 6.5/10
– The Last Letter From Your Lover – Is this movie predictable? Of course. Who cares? I love an illicit love affair now & then. (In movies, of course). And multiple love stories & time periods, too! Yes, please. An enjoyable guilty please, despite really not being a Shailene Woodley fan. – 6.5/10
– Senior Year – This was no worse than any other silly comedy movie but people seem to have a thing against Rebel Wilson (I don’t). I liked this just fine for a one-time watch. Had a few good laughs at inappropriate jokes & always like seeing these “back to high school” movies. And, yeah, comparing current teens with teens 20+ years ago does work really well in comedy now since the difference in behavior & values is so extreme. It’s part of what works so well in Cobra Kai & why I love that show. The story in this is of course predictable & feel-good but does anyone really want a film like this to be anything else? – 6.5/10
– Metal Lords – First of all, I loved this movie’s soundtrack. But I would as I’ve been listening to these songs for over 30 years. It mainly has Black Sabbath (still my favorite), Metallica, Pantera & Judas Priest. Also loved the mentions of Anthrax as they were another high school favorite of mine along with all the rest. And those fantastic cameos made this old late-‘80s big-haired teen very happy. So I enjoyed the movie but the nostalgia obviously helped a lot.
The film could have been better, though, and I wish the one boy (Hunter) wasn’t so hateful. The metalheads in my day were the nice ones? Angry usually, yes, but not jerks to their friends like Hunter is in this. And the movie was a slightly more serious coming-of-age story than I was expecting. Which I guess worked okay but I was expecting more of a comedy. That will be me loving This Is Spinal Tap & Wayne’s World, I suppose. And School Of Rock. The comedy in those just works so brilliantly with the love of rock & metal. But, hey, I always like a good coming-of-age movie too and liked the other boy (Kevin) and his story involving the girl (Emily). Especially when they were appreciating the genius of Sabbath’s War Pigs. But everyone could have used a lot more character development and this could have been a better film if they’d gone even more serious with it & really explored Hunter’s & Emily’s issues. Flagging it just as a comedy is misleading as it’s more comedy/drama.
So I enjoyed this but don’t know if those who aren’t metal fans would or not. Probably not so much but it’s a decent enough teen movie overall so they might still like the story. And plenty of newer metal bands do get mentioned too. Seen some complaining about the lack of newer music. Hunter is just really old school! Nothing wrong with loving the classics. – 6.5/10
– Reminiscence – This wasn’t great but certainly not the worst I’ve seen this year. I thought the idea was really good & liked the story but it’s unfortunate it got too convoluted & messy in the middle. Think it was relying too much on its pretty stars to distract us. Oh well – enjoyed this much more than the recent Deep Water, which only gave us pretty people to look at & nothing else. – 6/10
– Kung Fu Hustle – Well, this was wacky. I wanted to absolutely love this as it very much seemed like my type of thing. Maybe it was just a bit too goofy. But it was still a fun watch & I especially liked the Landlady. – 6/10
– Dear Evan Hansen – This isn’t really my type of thing & I probably wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t for the huge backlash. The backlash was far too extreme for a movie I thought was… Okay? Yeah, he looks 30 but has no one seen Grease?? A musical involving teen suicide is a little weird but I was interested in seeing how the story would end & how he’d get out of his lie (which started small & was less sinister than everyone made it seem when this came out). I can’t say he’s the most likeable character ever but I can think of loads of movie characters & current famous people who are far more hateful. I think the story is attempting an anti-bullying message, making the backlash ironic.
The music is typical of most modern musicals: The lyrics tell the story without giving us any memorable melodies. But the songs weren’t terrible. The overall movie wasn’t terrible, either, although I felt nothing for these “teens”. The adults such as Amy Adams & Julianne Moore were far better than the younger cast. I just think, with such a heavy topic, this came across quite shallow. Which is a shame. I think the movie probably had good intentions but it just didn’t quite work.
For a far better current movie capturing how difficult it is to be a teenager right now, I’d highly recommend Spontaneous (which I reviewed here) over this one. Great characters & smart dark humor, which works much better with heavy teen topics (in my opinion).
So I didn’t love this film but also certainly didn’t hate it. I liked it enough for a one-time watch but know I’ll never watch it again. – 6/10
– Eternals – Watched about half of this a couple months ago but lost interest & didn’t finish. Finally forced myself to finish it. Was bored out of my mind. Other MCU films did such a fantastic job slowly introducing us to new characters so that, even for people like me with zero knowledge beyond the films, we cared about them & their stories. I didn’t care what would happen to this large group of characters I’ve never seen before and the story was far too complex for their introductory movie. I don’t want to have to read Wikipedia afterwards to try to understand what the hell was going on in a Marvel film. No thanks. I’ll admit, though, that the film did get much better in the second half. I upped my rating by half a point as I did like the very end of this and the end credits scenes (except for the dumb troll). But I still didn’t care about any of it. – 5.5/10
– Halloween Kills – I’m more of an Elm Street girl as I found that a much more enjoyable slasher franchise than Halloween but do like the first film thanks mostly to Jamie Lee Curtis & especially John Carpenter’s amazing score.
This was meh. There are certainly better Halloween sequels but also a few worse ones. None of them have come even remotely close to being as iconic as the first film anyway. Curtis was given very little to do in this one compared to the last film, which has gone up in my estimation now after this disappointing sequel. I do like Judy Greer as her daughter & liked seeing characters from the first film appear in this (although I’d have loved seeing Paul Rudd instead of Farmer Ted – I don’t care if it’s a different timeline or whatever!). It all gets too silly, as usual, with Michael Myers unable to ever be killed and nothing surprising or original happens. But I know people just want the same old thing over & over with these films so I guess that’s what they got. Again.
Oh, and although I grew up in the ‘80s on plenty of slashers I’ve never been big on lots of visible gore. I looked away through a lot of this one. It all sounded extra squishy. No thanks. I’ll just stick with the much less squishy 1978 film. – 5.5/10
– Come Play – Yeah, this wasn’t great. Watched it as Gillian Jacobs is hilarious as Britta in Community (prefer her in comedy roles). The idea behind this film was fine but the execution wasn’t great & it comes across as a very poor Babadook rip-off. Was apparently a short film first and, just like Lights Out, I assume the short was much better. Not sure why they think they need to turn good short stories into unnecessarily long films. Oh well – it passed the time. I didn’t hate it. And I’ve given it an extra half a point as I actually kind of liked the ending (though I’m sure plenty didn’t). – 5.5/10
– Candyman (2021) – Admittedly I’m not a fan of the first Candyman (what I can remember of it all these years later, that is – I probably should’ve rewatched it). So maybe it’s unfair of me to review this one but I thought the story, which started out okay, was a muddled mess by the end. Plus the whole thing was surprisingly boring for a horror film.
I very rarely like reboots/remakes/sequels of horror films from the ‘80s & ‘90s, though, as I grew up with those and usually don’t want them messed with now. But I gave this a shot since I wasn’t big on the 1992 film anyway. Too bad it felt like yet another pointless horror “update”. – 5/10
– Brain Dead – I’m a sucker for watching movies just because I remember seeing the cover in video stores. This was one of them. How cool does that cover (above) look?! Looks like a fun, cheesy horror. Maybe even with Cronenberg vibes. It’s not. It’s just bad. So, so bad. Wow. What an incoherent mess. Bill Pullman & Paxton deserved much better! – 3/10
Movies Rewatched In May:
– Mean Girls – No matter how old I get I’ll always like teen flicks. This is one of the better “recent” ones (to me – I know it’s not recent, I’m just old). I like its slightly dark humor & Rachel McAdams is great. But it’s still not up there with Gen X teen movies such as Heathers, although it wants to be. I appreciate its effort. – 7/10
– Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion – Still a lot of fun. Nothing I like more than movies showing outcasts going back to their ‘80s high school reunions! I can relate. Janeane Garofalo’s character is still my favorite & Lisa Kudrow is always funny. – 7/10
– Role Models – Watched this again for the first time in years. Still found it really funny. Don’t think I’ve ever disliked Paul Rudd in anything & he’s as fun to watch in this as he is in everything. He deserves more credit for his comedy. Love the nerdy kid & the boob-obsessed kid & the Kiss obsession & the blatantly obvious explanation of the song Love Gun. – 7/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Etc Watched In May:
– Our Father – Think this could have been a better documentary & it felt exploitative at times. The subject matter obviously makes for uncomfortable viewing but it’s a fascinating & shocking story. Was impressed by the courage of the siblings in seeking justice. This is a truly evil & disgusting man. And unfortunately it’s not at all surprising, especially in the current climate, that there were no laws to protect women in this unusual situation & that this vile man got nothing but a slap on the wrist. – 6/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN MAY
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Obi-Wan Kenobi: S1 E1-2 – Can’t say a lot about this yet other than, well, it’s not really grabbing me like I was hoping it would after being super excited it was finally starting. It’s certainly better than the (non-Grogu) episodes of Book Of Boba Fett so far, which ended up very disappointing overall. Except for those Grogu episodes! I think I just need Grogu to be in every Star Wars thing they make now?? Because I love that little dude. Seriously. But I do really like Ewan McGregor too & am still really liking seeing him as Obi-Wan again as he’s easily one of the best things about the prequels. I’m just not feeling the rest of the cast, including the young kid I was very excited to get to see at that age. We’ll see… Need to give it time to build.
– Young Rock: S1 E7-9 What can I say other than that this is a surprisingly fun & feelgood family TV show. Great to stick on when needing something short & lightweight.
– The Five: S1 E1 – After thoroughly enjoying the Harlan Coben mystery series Stay Close & then Safe, we’re giving another one of his shows a try. So far, so good…
– Moon Knight: S1 E6 – I’ve said enough in previous posts. This show just didn’t do it for me. At all.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E10-13 – I’m obviously going to watch this thing until it finally ends. 18 freaking years! And not really my type of thing but it’s too late to give up now! Ha!
TV Specials Watched:
– Ricky Gervais: SuperNature – Honestly not sure why but I very rarely watch any stand-up comedy. Couldn’t even tell you any comedians I like other than George Carlin & Bill Bailey as they’re pretty much the only ones I’ve watched. Oh, and I guess the ’80s Eddie Murphy stuff like Raw. I’m so old. But then everyone freaked out about this one on Twitter as per usual & I went “Fuck it! Let’s see what the fuss is about.”
This was fine. I laughed several times, which is probably not allowed I assume. I like Ricky Gervais for the most part. Not watched any of the TV stuff he’s been in, not even The Office. But do love him ripping annoying celebs to shreds at The Golden Globes. Fantastic stuff! Put those rich fuckers in their places! Even though he’s a rich fucker too. Still prefer the likes of George Carlin & Bill Bailey but hope comedians can continue to be allowed to cover any topics they choose. I get very uncomfortable at the thought of censorship. That’s a slippery slope.
Holy hell – Did I really read three books in one month?! I’m much quicker when I’m not reading A Game Of Thrones, I guess.
– Malorie by Josh Malerman – This is the sequel to Bird Box, which I did like (review here). I mean I liked the book but not the movie – that was pretty rubbish. For some reason, I liked this sequel much more than the first book. While I love the concept & its very A Quiet Place feel (which I also loved) I found the character of Malorie a bit too unlikeable in the first book. But it’s understandable why she comes across so cold having to live life in a world where a glimpse of these “creatures” will drive you insane. I think we got to know her better in this book & why she’s so tough on her kids as she’s just desperate to protect them. I liked their relationship & enjoyed this story and also liked the ending.
Also, I think I felt more connected to the story this time. I read the first book before the pandemic & this one after it and it felt kind of similar to Covid lockdowns in a way. Obviously there weren’t creatures causing us to go on murderous rampages but I could really feel the isolation these kids felt at having been locked away from the rest of the world for so long in order to stay safe. It would be good to see a sequel film but it’s a shame the first film really didn’t do the book justice. – 3.5/5
– Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben – Finally read my first Harlan Coben book after really enjoying two TV shows of his. Liked this book, which is just as full of the twists & turns that I liked in his shows. I have to say, though, that like in Bird Box the main character in this was a little hard to like. But she’s tough & strong so that was cool. Not sure if I liked how it ended & as far as the Coben stories go I probably liked the story in the Stay Close show the most. But this would be second & would make for a good movie with the right cast (I think I read at one point that Julia Roberts would star in a movie adaptation but she’d be very wrong for the role). Here’s the Goodreads synopsis: “Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.” – 3.5/5
– The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor – Started reading my first C.J. Tudor books last month & liked them a lot (The Chalk Man & The Burning Girls). Enjoyed this too but not nearly as much as the other two. Those mysteries were even more twisty & turny than the Harlan Coben stuff & that was great. This one, however, was just too similar to a Stephen King story which I won’t name as it’ll give too much away. The characters & overall story weren’t as strong as in those other two books & I didn’t find myself flying through this one as I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on since it seemed obvious unlike the other two books with plots that kept me guessing throughout them. Oh well. It was still a fun read & I definitely have a new author I like. This won’t be the last C.J. Tudor novel I’ll be putting on reserve at the library. – 3/5
Now Reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I might as well get rid of this section. I have no plans. And I’m missing so many movies right now in the cinema. 😦 They’re still too germy & full of people but, dammit, I’m really not doing my duty as a movie blogger. I should be seeing & reviewing new releases for my two readers!
To end with the best music in a movie that I watched in May, here’s Black Sabbath’s War Pigs from Metal Lords: