Happy 5th Blogiversary To Me

Yikes. Five years?! I honestly didn’t think I’d be doing this movie blogging thing for five years.

I want to say a huge thank you to the fellow bloggers who’ve dropped by in these last five years & had little chats with me on my silly movie & book reviews. I’m sorry I’ve been around a lot less this year and hate that it’s becoming almost impossible to spend any time on my blog or on the blogs that I follow. The whole reason for starting this blog was so that I could discuss movies with fellow film lovers since, in the real world, it’s hard to find obsessive movie nerds. You think I talk about movies all day long with people at work? Hell no! (That would be fun, though – where can I get a job like that?). So, thank you again to the special few who were here from the start and are still around and to all the lovely newer bloggers who’ve come along since. I feel like an “old blogger” now!

I always say I need to cut back on the time I spend here and I’ve done that this year but I’ll be doing it even more in 2018. I’d always kind of planned on quitting on my 5th anniversary but I’d miss the occasional movie chats as well as the one other reason I keep this thing going: to use it as a “movie diary” and keep a log of all I’ve seen & read. Because, as well as being a movie nerd, I’m also massive LIST NERD! I now have a record of every movie I’ve watched since 2012. Which is totally not important when the world is f*^%ing falling apart, right?! To psychoanalyze myself, I think it helps keeps me calm in the face of all the bullshit in the world. Or something. Nicely ordered lists! Nicely ordered lists could create world peace!!

So, I do have a plan to keep this blog going with a bare minimum of posts in 2018. I’ll focus only on reviewing 12 more Blind Spot movies (as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that project) and the 2018 UK cinema releases I manage to see. The main other thing I’ll do is bring back an end-of-month post so I can at least very briefly discuss all I’ve watched in that month. At the moment, the movies I watch at home are getting no attention as I don’t have time for full-length reviews. I’ve watched a lot of really good movies this year and am annoyed to have not even mentioned some of them (For example, I really liked an obscure movie called The Frame. Here’s the IMDb link. I believe it’s still showing on Amazon Video.)

With these blogiversary posts, I tend to do a “Year In Review” post since it’s close to the end of the year anyway. This time, I’m going to do a “Five-Year Review“(!!). One thing I can really thank this blog for is that I’ve seen some TRULY brilliant movies since starting it because of things like my IMDB Top 250 Challenge and the Blind Spot project. Knowing you’ll be writing for a blog kind of helps “force” you to finally watch the more highly acclaimed classics you’d been avoiding for no good reason. Plus there’ve been some damn good new movies released since 2012. SO GET READY FOR SOME LISTS!!!! Let’s see if these can create universal harmony.

Here are some ranked lists of my favorite movies I’ve seen & the best books I’ve read for the very first time since starting this blog in November 2012….

My Top 20 Books Read Since 2012 (No one gives a shit about books so let’s get this list out of the way first.): šŸ˜‰

Top Twenty:

20. End Of Watch by Stephen King
19. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
18. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
17. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
16. The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker
15. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
14. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
13. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
12. Horns by Joe Hill
11. The Fireman by Joe Hill

Top Ten:

10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
9. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
8. The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
7. Joyland by Stephen King
6. The Martian by Andy Weir
5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
3. The Colour Of Magic by Terry Pratchett
2. Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin
1. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

My Top 30 Older Movies Seen For The First Time Since Starting This Blog (Movies Released Before November 2012):

Top Thirty:

30. Daft Punk’s Electroma
29. The Return Of The Living Dead
28. Million Dollar Baby
27. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
26. Escape From Alcatraz
25. Howl’s Moving Castle
24. The Last Unicorn
23. Ghost In The Shell (1995)
22. Ikiru
21. Natural Born Killers

Top Twenty:

20. The Untouchables
19. The Secret In Their Eyes
18. The Kid
17. Watership Down
16. Grave Of The Fireflies
15. Escape From New York
14. Battle Royale
13. Kiki’s Delivery Service
12. The Great Escape
11. Laputa: Castle In The Sky

Top Ten:

10. Road House (Seriously. How had I never seen this huge slice of AWESOMEBAD?!)
9. Rocky
8. Modern Times
7. Princess Mononoke
6. Akira
5. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
4. The Bridge On The River Kwai
3. City Lights
2. The Warriors
1. NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind 

(If you only knew how many times I flipped numbers 1 & 2 around…)

My Top 30 New Releases Seen For The First Time Since Starting This Blog (Movies Released After November 2012):

Top Thirty:

30. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
29. Your Name
28. Rush
27. Circle
26. Gravity
25. Robot & Frank
24. The Way Way Back
23. Baby Driver
22. Wreck-It Ralph
21. Edge Of Tomorrow

Top Twenty:

20. Train To Busan
19. The Wolf Of Wall Street
18. The Lego Movie
17. Ex Machina
16. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
15. It Follows
14. The Babadook
13. Predestination
12. Space Station 76
11. Sing Street

Top Ten:

10. In Your Eyes
9. Frozen
8. Blade Runner 2049
7. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. It
5. Inside Out
4. Guardians Of The Galaxy
3. Arrival
2. Room
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Yep – I can’t NOT have a Star Wars film as my number one movie released since 2012. I can’t wait for The Last Jedi in a couple of weeks!

As you can see from these lists, I really do have this blog to thank for my newfound love of Studio Ghibli & Charlie Chaplin. I’d seen & loved My Neighbor Totoro & Spirited Away before blogging but decided to watch all the rest of the Miyazaki films for a month of Ghibli reviews. I’d seen no Chaplin at all before 2012. I highly recommend his stuff to all true film lovers, especially City Lights & Modern Times.

Oh yeah! I also discovered a love of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, it seems. I loved The Dollars Trilogy (especially the music in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) and Once Upon A Time In The West. Brilliant! Thank you, blog! 

The other two directors I’ve been trying to further explore are John Carpenter (I’d already seen the majority of his best films, though) and Akira Kurosawa. That’s why they have the only two films in the lists above which I haven’t yet reviewed as I want to devote an entire week (or month) to their work someday in the future.

Okay – it’s time for me to shut up. You all probably stopped reading halfway through my lists anyway. Ha! I don’t know how many movies I’ve seen in these last five years (I’m too lazy to count, although I do have them all listed year by year on my blog pages). But I’d say I average about 100 per year. So… Narrowing it down to 60 favorites out of 500 isn’t too bad! Thank you again, everyone! Especially those who made it to the very end of this post… šŸ˜‰

Now, as I feel really bad about putting The Warriors in second place after originally having it at number one, I’ll end this post with the ending of the movie. Seems appropriate. All our lives deserve appropriate songs that play over our end credits. Hmm. That sounded a little morbid. Sing it, Joe!

Actually, I want Morricone to score my real life end credits…

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NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind (1984) Review

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NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind (1984)
Kaze no Tani no Naushika
Japanese: é¢Øć®č°·ć®ćƒŠć‚¦ć‚·ć‚«

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 227 as of 01/01/2013

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Sumi Shimamoto
Gorō Naya
Yōji Matsuda
Yoshiko Sakakibara
Iemasa Kayumi

(English Dub Voice Cast: Alison Lohman, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Chris Sarandon, Edward James Olmos, Mark Hamill)

Running time: 117 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia):
The film tells the story of NausicaƤ, a young princess of the Valley of the Wind who gets involved in a struggle with Tolmekia, a kingdom that tries to use an ancient weapon to eradicate a jungle of mutant giant insects. NausicaƤ must stop the Tolmekians from enraging these creatures.

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Before I Start The Review:

As this is my first review for my Studio Ghibli Project (perhaps I should start calling it a project as I think it’ll carry on for longer than a month), I figured I’d talk a tiny bit about my Studio Ghibli experience. Also, as many Ghibli films are in the IMDB Top 250, a lot of these reviews will also be a part of my IMDB Top 250 Project so I’ll mention it if they’re in the Top 250. NausicaƤ was at 227 when I started the IMDB thing and is currently at 198 so I’m happy to see that it’s moved up the list quite a bit.

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Here’s my Studio Ghibli experience: The first film I saw was Spirited Away in 2001. It’s a great movie but I don’t think it was the best one to start on as it’s definitely one of the more “strange” Ghiblis. A few years ago I saw My Neighbor Totoro and, of course, loved it. Who doesn’t? But it wasn’t until I watched Princess Mononoke that I really started buying into the whole Studio Ghibli thing and I’ve been working my way through them ever since. Aside from Totoro (which I’ve now seen many times) and Kiki’s Delivery Service (where I’ve seen the subtitled & the dubbed version) and Spirited Away, I’ve only watched the other Ghibli films I’ve seen one time each. I know there are some huge Ghibli fans out there and I’m FAR from being any kind of expert on them as I’m still very new to them. All I really know is that I’ve enjoyed them immensely and I’m very glad to have finally decided to explore them. I want to have the time to watch them all again as I know they’re the types of movies that will only go up in my estimation the more I see them, just as My Neighbor Totoro did. And the one I want to re-watch the most is one that I saw very recently and also one that felt very different from the other Ghibli stuff I’ve seen: NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind.

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My Opinion On NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind:

Version watched: In Japanese with English subtitles

I’m never going to be able to do this movie justice with my lack of any true writing skills. Due to this film’s success, Hayao Miyazaki & Isao Takahata were able to start up Studio Ghibli so, although this one isn’t “officially” a Ghibli, it’s considered to be the first one anyway.

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It’s very unlike any of the other Ghibli movies I’ve seen so far. It’s based on Miyazaki’s manga of the same name, which he still continued for a while after the release of the film. This movie is kind of like a weird mash-up of Heavy Metal, Dune, and the “sweeter” Ghibli stuff that came later. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic future, which is always a favorite genre for me (what’s wrong with me?!). The title character, NausicaƤ, is the princess of The Valley Of The Wind. This post-apocalyptic world is covered by a toxic jungle and large mutant insects. NausicaƤ is happiest when exploring the mysteries of the toxic jungle and its insects while flying on her glider. She’s able to communicate with the insects and wishes to find a way for the remaining humans to live peacefully in this toxic land.

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I don’t know what it is but this movie just really worked for me on a level that not all the Ghibli films have. I think it’s just very much my type of thing even more than the kid-friendly Ghibli films such as Kiki’s Delivery Service or the more strange ones such as Spirited Away. The environmental & anti-war themes in this are very obvious and, as with a lot of Ghibli films, there’s a very strong female lead which is something I always like in a movie. So, NausicaƤ is an excellent role model and the themes are ones that are good to teach kids. However, this is NOT a child-friendly movie. As with all kids, some are more mature than others and it’s down to parents to judge if their kids can handle a movie or not. It’s definitely not one for the very young due to some violence but also the fact that the story is quite complex and epic in scope so they wouldn’t understand or appreciate it anyway. However, I think it’s a great one for older kids (11? 12?) and one that most adults (like me!) would love as well if it’s their type of thing. This is really pretty much a tie for my number one favorite along with My Neighbor Totoro but I just have so much affection for the character of Totoro that I had to put that at number one. However, THIS movie is more my type of film overall.

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Summary:

NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind is quite different from the other Studio Ghibli films most of you will have watched but I highly recommend it. I loved the excellent strong female lead and the post-apocalyptic world they created for this film. I loved the different sort of animation style of the insects compared to the human characters which have more of the look of all the later Ghibli films. Oh, and I loved the score which I completely forgot to mention! I thought it so perfectly set the right mood for the film and NausicaƤ’s theme (not sure – I think it’s NausicaƤ – Requiem? – The la la la la song!) was quite haunting & stuck in my head for days. Oh, I also enjoyed the supporting characters such as Lord Yupa and the totally PokĆ©mon “pet” of NausicaƤ’s. (I know nothing whatsoever about PokĆ©mon and if it was influenced by NausicaƤ or if it’s something that existed before the movie – just saying they look alike!). Oh, and I don’t know if I should point this out or if I’ll look totally stupid, but… I was a little concerned at first that NausicaƤ was wearing no pants. She wears these form-fitting trousers that are so close to her skin color and she bends over her glider all the time and, really, I don’t know why they didn’t just make her pants a different color! I’ve Googled this as I felt stupid but see that I’m indeed not the only one who thought she was pretty much naked from the waist down for half the film. Now that I’ve made myself sound like an idiot, I can inform you all that she IS wearing trousers so that you don’t end up feeling as stupid as I did when you watch it.

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Either way, pants or no pants, this movie is an epic adventure that I really wasn’t expecting from a Studio Ghibli film. I’m not sure why it’s not mentioned quite as much as some of the others. I thought it was amazing.

My Rating: 9.5/10

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My Top Ten Studio Ghibli Movies (So Far)

First of all, Happy Birthday to Hayao Miyazaki! Co-founder of Studio Ghibli along with Isao Takahata, Miyazaki has directed the majority of the most well known & highly regarded Ghibli films.

As I said, I’ll be reviewing some Studio Ghibli films throughout January. I don’t have a definite schedule in mind plus I’ll probably post some non-Ghibli reviews as usual as well. So far, I’ve watched 10 of the 20 Ghibli movies I could possibly watch (2 aren’t yet available on DVD). I’ve mostly watched the ones directed by Miyazaki so I’ll first focus on reviewing these ten I’ve seen so far plus the two Miyazaki ones I have left to watch. I may then continue Studio Ghibli Month after January & do the remaining films as well. I’m halfway through writing my review for NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind so that will probably be the review you’ll see here tomorrow.

So, these are My Top Ten Favorite Studio Ghibli Movies (So Far) counting down from ten to one. I’ll update it once I’ve seen the rest of the Ghibli films but I’ll be surprised if the list changes much. šŸ™‚

**List updated 5/1/17. You can see my ranking for all the Ghibli films I’ve now seen HERE**

10. The Cat Returns

9. Howl’s Moving Castle

8. Grave Of The Fireflies

7. Ponyo

6. Kiki’s Delivery Service

5. Spirited Away

4. Laputa: Castle In The Sky

3. Princess Mononoke

2. NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind

1. My Neighbor Totoro

My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2014

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Hi everyone! Crap – when did it suddenly become almost-2015?! Shouldn’t we be living on Mars by now or something? This isn’t the future I imagined back in 1984. What a disappointment.

Anyway! Where was I? Well, it looks like I have two days left of 2014 so I guess I better post my Top Ten Lists! Looks like I did this well into January last year but I’ll be busy this January with my Studio Ghibli Month starting next Monday. Woohoo! (Oh man, why did I decide to do that to myself?! I’m sooo not prepared!).

I’ll start with the list I actually enjoy the most: These are My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2014. Tomorrow I’ll post My Top Ten Movies Of 2014 (going by UK cinema release date). Then I may do My Top Books Read In 2014 on New Year’s Day – that’s a pathetic list since I didn’t read much this year. I’ll stop rambling – here’s my list counting down from ten to my number one favorite. As always, these are the ones I enjoyed the most although there are others I watched that are probably more “worthy” and I’d give those higher ratings. I’ve included the links to the ones I’ve reviewed. šŸ™‚

10. Spring Breakers

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This probably doesn’t deserve to be on the list, but… You know when you like a movie but you have NO idea WHY?? This is one of those movies for me.

9. TRON: Legacy

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I know it has its flaws but I don’t care – I had a lot of fun with this one. Plus: Garrett Hedlund! He’s so pretty… Also: DAFT PUNK SCORE!

8. Phantom Of The Paradise

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What’s not to like about Brian De Palma’s totally 1970s Faustian rock opera horror film?? Okay… Most of you went “WTF?” in the comments of my review but I do appreciate when a good discussion gets going on an interesting film like this one (thank you, Man In Black! I’ll get to the rest of your comments soon – I’ve just been taking a blog break over Xmas). šŸ˜‰

7. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari

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I’m surprised by how little I knew of this classic before watching it this year. Not only was the style of the whole film amazing but I thought the story was also ahead of its time. Every film lover should watch this movie.

6. Kiki’s Delivery Service

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This is one of several Studio Ghibli films I watched this year but I never got around to reviewing any of them, which is partly why I’m going to review a bunch of them together in January. I like the simplicity of this one. It’s the most “child-friendly” Ghibli I’ve seen so far and it’s one that really grew on me after watching it a couple of times.

5. Bernie

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I like doing these lists at the end of the year because I find that some movies really grow on me & end up much higher on the list than I would have expected. Bernie is one of these movies. I’ve always been a fan of Richard Linklater’s style and I’m not sure why I hadn’t checked this one out until this year. I’m also not sure why it seems to have not received as much attention as some of his other films considering that the story is quite fascinating, especially the ongoing story involving Linklater & the real-life Bernie. I’m still amazed by the whole situation…

4. Full Metal Jacket

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As I always say, I’m NOT a fan of war movies. However, I’ve worked my way through most of the war movies in the IMDB Top 250 and ended up loving a lot of them (The Bridge On The River Kwai and The Great Escape being my favorites). I didn’t love Full Metal Jacket as much as those and the first half was far better than the second half but I still really liked the film. I may have to stop saying I’m not a fan of war movies…

3. Daft Punk’s Electroma

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I like Daft Punk. And sci-fi. And cool robots. And “artsy fartsy”. I loved Electroma. So sue me. (Btw – thank you to the whole five commenters on the review for this! Lol! More than I expected… šŸ˜‰ I’ll catch up on replying to comments on this blog soon!)

2. The Return Of The Living Dead

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I love zombies. And I especially love the 80s. I have no idea why I never saw this one before now but it’s certainly one that’s a new favorite I’ll re-visit every now & then.

1. NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind

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Obviously, I’m a fan of Studio Ghibli films as I’m dedicating a whole month to them. But there are maybe four or five Ghibli films I LOVE (so far) while the rest I just “really like” so I still wouldn’t call myself the biggest Ghibli fan compared to other people out there. However, NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind really blew me away. (Ha! “Blew” me away… Blow away? Wind? Get it? Okay, it really wasn’t that funny). This was like some weird sort of mash up of the later, more well known Ghibli stuff and 1981’s Heavy Metal. It’s post-apocalyptic and fairly violent for a Ghibli and very much not for young kids. I LOVED IT. It’s so very “me” and I can’t wait to review it for Studio Ghibli Month.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Like I said, the above are the ones I enjoyed the most but I watched a lot of other very good films that really deserve a mention as well:

City Of God
Marnie
Blue Is The Warmest Color
Night Of The Creeps
RashƓmon
Howl’s Moving Castle

You can see my full list of movies watched in 2014 HERE. Sad, I know… šŸ™‚