Happy September. September?! Holy shit – when did that happen????
Here’s all I watched & read in August, spent mostly in bed recuperating after a hospital stay. So I was allowed to watch a lot of stuff (what else could I do??). 🙂
MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):
– Man On Fire – I reviewed this in full at the link. I decided to finally watch it after seeing a thread on Twitter of movies with very different audience & critic ratings (audiences loved it & critics hated it). I really enjoyed it. No, it’s not some good “Oscar worthy” film but it’s a very enjoyable revenge thriller. And it may be predictable but the friendship between Denzel Washington’s & Dakota Fanning’s characters was fantastic & they worked so well together. Plus Denzel is always absolutely perfect in this type of role. Don’t listen to the critics! They need to learn to just enjoy movies sometimes. – 7/10
– Fantastic Planet (French: La Planète sauvage, Czech: Divoká planeta) – Well, this was bizarre!! I won’t say much about it here as I reviewed it in full at the link. This is the strange sort of shit I’m always searching for as I get so bored with mainstream movies since I watch way too many. I’m not sure what the hell was going on but I liked it. It had surreal artwork & a trippy, groovy score so was my type of thing. It’s on the Roku Channel in the U.K. if you’re interested. Here’s the plot synopsis for this animated allegorical tale (from IMDb): “On a faraway planet where blue giants rule, oppressed humanoids rebel against their machine-like leaders.” And I’ll give you one more image below to give you an idea of the animation style… – 7/10
– Once Upon A Time In America – Being stuck in bed recuperating after a hospital stay made me decide to finally watch this almost-four-hour epic because what the hell else was I going to do with my time? It’s also a part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge so it gets another movie crossed off of that list. I reviewed it in the full at the link so luckily don’t again have to say I didn’t love this film. Oops – Just said it! But I’m not a big gangster film fan & everyone was too hateful. I’m definitely a bigger fan of Leone’s Westerns but there’s no denying that this was still a good film even if I didn’t love it. – 7.5/10
– Nomadland – And I watched this one while in the hospital as part of my Best Picture Project. Not gonna lie: It’s good but a bit boring. I’m gonna be real! Yes, I’ve ranked Man On Fire above this. Yes, Nomadland is certainly a better film than Man On Fire. But there are no butt bombs in this! I think it’s a deserving Best Picture Winner compared to the other nominees this year but, overall, it’s far from the best winner in the history of the Oscars.
I found the “houseless” lifestyle portrayed in this fascinating and guess I never exactly realized that there are people who live that way (but I’m a bit sheltered). I know there were real-life nomads playing characters in this & they were all very good. Frances McDormand, as always, was also very good as was David Strathairn. It’s not a film I can fault in any way & I thought they did a good job of portraying McDormand’s character’s heartbreak over the loss of her husband as well as her entire town & way of life. Yes, it’s a good film & deserves a higher rating. It’s just one of those movies that I feel I’ve seen once & have no need to see again. I miss having Oscar winning movies that I truly loved & enjoyed. – 7/10
– Thrashin’ – Oh how I love finding ’80s movies that I somehow never saw at the time! I enjoyed this. Yes, it’s cheesy. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Two skateboarding gangs battle each other for supremacy, and a member of one gang falls in love with the sister of his rival.” It stars Josh Brolin as the main character with one of the two assholes from Weird Science (Robert Rusler) as his punk rock skateboarding rival. It also had one of the Lost Boys vampires, Sherilyn Fenn, and of course Tony Hawk with a cameo but it must have been very small because I didn’t notice him. Oh!!! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in this performing at some club or whatever. So that was cool – It made it feel a little more credible as this sort of California scene makes me think of the Chili Peppers. Romance & skateboarding rivalry in ’80s California. What more can you ask for from a movie?! I love the ’80s. I don’t care. I enjoyed this. (Kind of feel like giving it a higher rating but then it would be the same as what I gave a Best Picture Oscar winner….). – 7/10
– Fear Street Trilogy: Fear Street Part One: 1994, Fear Street Part Two: 1978, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 – I reviewed this trilogy at the link so I’ll just say it was fun but certainly not perfect. It had a good soundtrack (especially 1978) & I’d say the overall story that runs through all three films does come together pretty well. Oh, it’s also super gory so don’t be fooled by the R.L. Stine name! These are full-on slashers. I’d watch more if they make more. The trilogy was clearly made by lovers of old school slashers & they did a decent enough job of trying to be like those. – Part One & Two: 6.5/10, Part Three: 6/10
– Cruella – Also reviewed this at the link so I don’t have to bitch about it again here. Mainly, I was mostly annoyed that it didn’t totally suck like I was expecting. Okay – the story itself was stupid as shit & completely pointless. But, damn – it had some fun outfits and an absolutely kick ass soundtrack. Why did they have to use such good music in a stupid Disney live-action thing?! Ugh! I loved hearing so many good songs but, man, those songs deserve to be in far better films. – 6.5/10
– The Goldfinch – First of all, I read this book and it felt like it took me FOREVER because it was so damn long (seriously – I think it took me about a year to read). It’s a long book and spends a very long time developing the characters and spans many years, so there was no way a 2 1/2 hour movie was going to do it justice. As much as I hate a mini series & dragging a story out for TV, I think this probably should’ve been a mini series instead. However, I thought the film did a surprisingly good job squeezing in so much of the story. It mainly skipped over the time the main character spends as a boy in Las Vegas which, to be fair, dragged on for way too long in the book anyway. The only thing that was a shame was that it meant cutting out quite a bit of the Boris character, who was possibly the best thing about the book (besides wondering what would happen with the painting).
I think the movie kind of made me further appreciate the book as it is actually a decent story. So I’m giving this a decent rating as the movie was far better than I was expecting. However, if you’ve not read the book, I think the movie would probably be difficult to follow as they really do gloss over stuff. I have a feeling that those who liked this movie did read the book first. But I’d only recommend the book if you like reading epic stories with fairly unlikeable characters. Not gonna lie – the book was a real slog to read. Maybe it’s why I quite liked the movie… I don’t know. It’s a hard one to recommend! I can understand why it got poor reviews but it’s a pretty damn good adaptation. I liked it. – 7/10
– Wonder Woman 1984 – Was glad to finally see this without extra cost but had extremely low expectations due to terrible reviews. Well, it’s not that bad. It’s certainly not as bad as its IMDb rating (5.4/10). Okay, it’s also not very good but I didn’t hate it. I thought the first Wonder Woman was quite good so it’s a shame this didn’t live up to it. I think Wonder Woman herself was perfectly fine in this, so they didn’t ruin the character, and the story wasn’t awful. I think the main two problems were 1. The movie was too damn long and 2. The villains were rubbish. Kristen Wiig’s wasn’t quite so bad & they did a decent job developing her character and letting us see her rise & fall. Pedro Pascal was terrible, however. I mean the character as well as the acting (sorry, I don’t think he’s very good despite loving The Mandalorian – that show would be just as good with a different actor). Oh – I also don’t think they did a very good job of making this look like it was set in 1984 just by throwing a few ugly outfits on people and having Chris Pine give a fashion show. And where was all the ’80s music?! Disappointing, as I love the ’80s. Meh. Whatever. There are far better superhero movies but also worse ones. I’m bored with them all. This one will just be very forgettable. – 6/10
– Wish Dragon – This was fine. I don’t have a lot to say about this animated film other than that it was better than a lot of the stuff that slightly bigger studios such as DreamWorks put out. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon who shows him the magic of possibilities.” I liked the animation, the characters were likeable, and the dragon was fun (even though he was a bit too similar to Aladdin’s Genie). It’s also not quite as “kiddie” as it looks. It’s certainly appropriate for very young kids but I’d say preteens would be perfectly happy watching this too (the main boy & girl are 19 in this). Decent film for one that I believe went straight to Netflix? – 6.5/10
– Bliss – I was really looking forward to seeing this as I really liked Mike Cahill’s Another Earth & especially I Origins. This one is unfortunately not nearly as good. I was intrigued by the concept & did like the story. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “A mind-bending love story following Greg who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel, a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation.” It started out okay but the story got messy & it just didn’t work as well as his other films. The biggest problem was that it felt completely miscast. Owen Wilson & Salma Hayek were okay but just didn’t really work together. They’re also too famous – This would have been better with lesser known actors. Too bad Cahill didn’t use his usual favorite, Brit Marling. She’d have been good. Oh well – I did still like the story so it was worth a watch but I’d highly recommend his other films first. – 6/10
– Black Christmas (2019) – Er. Um. UGH. Okay… This movie was mostly pretty damn terrible but for some reason I kind of liked it? At least at the beginning – that all went out the window at the very end. Holy hell! What a pile of shit ending!!! First of all: Yes, I saw the original but it was many many years ago so I should probably rewatch it. So I won’t be comparing them as I don’t remember that one well enough. I just wish Blumhouse would stop rebooting or remaking (or whatever you want to call it) old horror films. Well, that’s plenty of studios, actually. And these newer films are sometimes so different than the originals that I don’t understand why they use the same name. No, I lie – they use the same name because they’re more likely to make money from a known name. Pisses me off. Honestly, they could’ve given this one a completely different name from the original as I don’t think they’re very similar beyond the setting.
So. They kind of had a good idea here but just did such an awful job of cramming the agenda into this film. Spoiler: It’s basically about the rape culture at universities. Which is an important and serious topic not really suited for this seriously stupid horror movie. To be fair, it maybe could have worked if the film had treated the topic more seriously and if the ending hadn’t been laughable. It’s a shame as a well written film on this topic could’ve turned out well. Maybe a more serious type of horror such as Midsommar? Hell, that’s basically a toxic-male-hating film too about slightly inattentive boyfriends, right?
I did really like Imogen Poots in this so luckily the main character was fine. I like her in most things but I mostly think I just love that name. POOTS! Imagine having to grow up with the name Poots!! Her main SJW best friend (sorry to use that phrase but it’s the whole point of that character) was okay but very quickly gets on your nerves as you’d expect. I did kind of like the one friend who was really dumb (she was also good in The White Lotus). And one other thing I did really like in this movie was their song. That was a good scene. I like seeing rapists named & shamed. So the movie started out well…
While I do think this movie ended up being dreadful thanks to its ridiculously over-the-top ending, I think it has been unfairly rated way too low on IMDb. 3.4/10?! Okay, that will be those who see it as having a man-hating agenda. I suppose it does but I think it could have gotten away with it & done a better job of making its point if the ending wasn’t SO in-your-face about, um, toxic masculinity. Dammit! This movie made me use the phrases SJW & toxic masculinity. Phrases I steer WELL clear of on Twitter! And I’ve written waaaaay more than I wanted to about a pretty bad horror movie. I just wish it had done a better job of making its point in a more subtle fashion. Cramming your beliefs down viewers’ throats never works, even when viewers agree with what you’re trying to say (as I do). – 5.5/10
– The Big Year – This was fine? A very safe & inoffensive movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It was based on the 2004 nonfiction book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik. The book followed three men on a quest for a Big Year – a competition among birders to see who can see and identify the greatest number of species of birds in North America (north of Mexico) in a calendar year.” So it’s an intriguing story. I had no idea this was a real thing that people do?! Of course the characters themselves are fictional (Owen Wilson is especially over-the-top in his bird obsession) but it’s still interesting that people do this in real life. As I said, it’s just a very safe film. Pleasant. The kind of thing you can have on in the background while visiting with family on a Sunday afternoon. So… somewhat forgettable but was a nice watch & I always love Jack Black. Steve Martin was also good but Black was the best character & he was very understated compared to his usual sort of crazy antics. – 6/10
– Over Her Dead Body – This sucked. Cliché & predictable every step of the way. The story is about a controlling woman (Eva Longoria) who dies on her wedding day (you’ll see the obvious death coming a mile away). She then haunts the first woman who shows an interest in her husband-to-have-been about a year later & tries to keep them apart. I 100% watched this because I love Paul Rudd. Who doesn’t?! A controlling dead bitch wouldn’t keep me away from him either! But, of course, she sees the error of her ways and that she needs to let him move on with his life. Duh. I’d have given a spoiler warning there but it’s not a spoiler when you already know the stupid ending from the very start. Whatever – it’s a dumb romcom & not trying to win Oscars or something. So I’ll be nice with my rating since Paul Rudd was of course adorable in this. – 5/10
– Rear Window – Finally convinced my daughter to watch her first Alfred Hitchcock film! 🙂 And I started her on my favorite. I’ve always loved Rear Window & how we get a glimpse of various peoples’ lives through their windows. I was always most concerned about Miss Lonelyhearts & loved the newlywed couple who kept their blinds closed for days. Plus James Stewart is always great & Grace Kelly is gorgeous & classy in all her fancy outfits. I know I always wear a dress & pearls around the house like in the above photo! Such a fun & stylish film. Trying to convince the kid to watch The Birds next. Let’s have another look at Grace Kelly… – 9.5/10
– The Lost Boys – YES! Adore this movie. And, yes, it’s my favorite vampire movie. Of course – I was a young teenager when it came out & had a crush on The Two Coreys. I don’t know what else to say about it but you’ll either love this lightweight teen horror comedy or you won’t. The characters are fun, everyone is young & pretty & super cool, and it has great quotables. Death by stereo! Love it. Oh, and it has that greased-up saxophone player. Hubba hubba. Maggots, Michael! You’re eating maggots! –9/10
– Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Reviewed this in full already for the big John Hughes Blogathon I did years ago. Obviously, I’m Gen X so naturally a big fan of John Hughes (which is why I did the blogathon). Still think this one is great although The Breakfast Club is still my favorite. – 9/10
– Wreck-It Ralph – I liked this one a lot the first time I saw it but it grew on me more & more and it’s now easily one of my very favorites of modern-era animated Disney. I think the story is very clever and I love the characters (yes, even Vanellope although I’m sure she gets on some people’s nerves). And I like the Sugar Rush song (seriously – I have it on my Apple playlist). Is it normal for me as an adult to rewatch these movies as much as kids do?! – 8.5/10
– Robin Hood (1973) – For whatever reason, I’d not watched this Disney movie a million times like a lot of the others so figured it was time for a rewatch as I didn’t remember it well. I really enjoyed it! Not sure why I never watched it much. The characters and a couple of the songs were fun. Glad I gave it a rewatch after all these years. – 7.5/10
– Spider-Man (2002) – Not sure if I have the energy but think I need to rewatch all these Spider-Man movies before the new film comes out. Mainly need to watch with my daughter who hasn’t seen any pre-Tom-Holland ones. Wanted to watch the second of these before rating this one as I seem to remember it being quite good? I like this one, though. We’ll give it a 7 & see if 2 is a 7.5! Don’t remember loving any of the rest. Still think the first couple of Tobey Maguire ones are the best, though, even though I think Tom Holland is decent. – 7/10
– Attack The Block – I really like this one although I can’t explain exactly why as the main characters are a group of young criminals. But the aliens are quite effective and it’s a decent alien invasion movie, which I always enjoy. – 7/10
– Practical Magic – A bit girly for me but I have to like chick flicks sometimes, right?? – 6.5/10
– The Island – Think this is pretty decent for a, uh, Michael Bay film. Until it turns too Michael Bay-like at the end. But it starts out well & the story is fine & Steve Buscemi is in it & Steve Buscemi rules. So, good enough. – 6.5/10
– The Hole (2009) – Trying to ease the daughter into horror as she’s not a big fan like I was at her age. Well, she didn’t like this one. It’s a very odd film. Expected so much more from Joe Dante as Gremlins is awesome. But this one is weird. It’s not really scary but it’s hard to know what sort of age it’s aimed at as it IS far too scary for kids at least. But teens & older would mostly find it silly. I don’t think it’s a horrible film – I think it’s just one that would only be liked by a small percentage of people if they’re just the right sort of age when they watch it. I just don’t know what age that might be! 10/11/12, maybe? – 6/10
Okay – as I was stuck in bed for most of August, I usually had movies playing in the background so put on a lot of favorites. I’ve already reviewed most of them in the past: The Wizard Of Oz, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats (I love this one & think it’s an underrated Disney classic).
– Short Circuit Shorts: Season 2 – These are really good animated shorts on Disney Plus. Of season two, Going Home really stood out. It was heartbreaking but a great short film.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
TV SHOWS WATCHED
Okay, I also watched way too many TV shows while stuck in bed. These are in no particular order…
– The White Lotus – Enjoyed this! It’s certainly not for everyone but I liked the dark humor & the characters were good. And Jennifer Coolidge was as fun to watch as always. And, MAN, I hated that newlywed husband! What a prick. I also liked that it was a short series. I hate things that drag on for years. I think a new series will focus on new people? Will definitely check it out based on Season 1.
– Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi, 僕だけがいない街) – This was quite good. I knew nothing about this Japanese anime series so am glad I gave it a chance. Here’s the IMDB synopsis: “29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma is sent back in time 18 years to prevent the events leading to his mother’s death, which began with a series of kidnappings while he was in 5th grade.” Again, I really liked the “one short series” thing.
– Cruel Summer – This was kind of terrible and cheesy but I also kind of liked it? It was very “YA” and the acting was all pretty dreadful other than from the actress Olivia Holt. But I think I’ll forever be a sucker for YA drama. I don’t believe this was based on a book but this is exactly the kind of guilty pleasure YA stuff I still like to read. There’s a lot of back & forth as to who is telling the truth and you never know who to trust. It’s also set in the ’90s, which was fun, back when I was just a little older than these characters. It takes place in flashbacks all exactly three years apart in the two girls’ lives. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In a small Texas town, popular teen Kate, is abducted. Seemingly unrelated, a girl named Jeanette goes from being a sweet, awkward outside to the most popular girl in town, but by 1995 she has become the most-despised person in America.”
– Dark: S1 E1 – The hubby & I have decided to start watching this but have only seen one episode so I can’t say much yet. I’m certainly intrigued, though!! Very good first episode.
– Nine Perfect Strangers: S1 E1-4 – My god – look at all these “adult drama” TV shows I watched in August! Not normally my type of thing. I’m liking this okay but The White Lotus was much better than what I’ve seen of this so far. Still interested to see what happens, though, and I think the acting is very good. I especially like Melissa McCarthy in this much more serious role & Bobby Cannavale. They’re really good so far. And I’m interested to see what will become of Regina Hall’s character (and all the guests, really).
– Monsters At Work: S1 E6-9 – Yep – I love this show!! Said more about it HERE. Hope there’s a Season 2!
– Steins;gate: S1 E1 – Decided to check out this anime series after really liking Erased. Well, the first episode hasn’t grabbed me. Will try a couple more…
– The Crown: S4 E3-4 – Finally watching the Diana episodes I’ve been looking forward to for ages! I’m enjoying them but I don’t buy into the person playing Diana at all. Which is a shame.
TV Shows Rewatched:
– Star Trek: The Next Generation: S1 – This is an all-time favorite of mine so am enjoying revisiting.
– The Golden Girls: Various episodes – Can always stick on an episode of this to cheer me up. 🙂
– Grey’s Anatomy: S1 – Daughter wanted to watch this as it’s her friend’s favorite show. Oh boy – I’d forgotten how inappropriate some of it is. But it’s rated 12, so, oh well – I guess I saw similar shows at her age. Anyway – I’ve watched this show for 17 years & have a love/hate relationship with it. Seeing Season 1 again was strange. It really was a better show at the start…
– If It Bleeds by Stephen King (Four Story Collection: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life Of Chuck, If It Bleeds & Rat) – Oops. I read another Stephen King book… Well, I enjoyed it. I always love his shorter story collections. I’ll say just a tiny bit about each. Not sure what to rate it as it’s good but not as strong as some of his other collections. I suppose I’d give the whole thing this: – 3.5/5
– Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – Really liked this very simple story of a boy who gifts an iPhone to an elderly neighbour. But the story of course gets a little more weird later on…
– The Life Of Chuck – Thought this three-part story (told in reverse order) was interesting. The first story was really good & very clever when you later realise what’s going on. The second story was okay & the final one was good with the right amount of creepiness but also strong characters & not a full-on “horror”.
– If It Bleeds – This is a short story continuing on from The Outsider (which I actually didn’t like very much). However, it revolves around one of my favorite new Stephen King characters: Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes. She’s a love her or hate her & I love her so like that King keeps using her as well as other likeable previous characters. So I enjoyed this story mainly because I got to revisit these characters again.
– Rat – This is the most “Stephen King” story about a writer (shocker! can’t remember if he was also in Maine…) who makes a deal with a talking rat when he wishes to write a successful novel. It’s a twist on The Monkey’s Paw and is a better story than you’d think it could be considering it has a talking rat. But King can write the weird stuff well!
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
No plans for September but am considering doing October Horror Month again since I skipped it last year. But it would just be me reposting reviews of all the horror movies I’ve watched in the past year.
**I end these posts with a good song from one of the movies I watched but the Fear Street Trilogy & Cruella had LOADS of good songs! Well, I already posted David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World & I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges in those reviews. So here’s Time Of The Season by The Zombies (which was in Cruella):