Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2023

Hi All! Happy March! I guess I better switch my WordPress app over to this new app it keeps bugging me about. So I’ve quickly finished this post in the old app since, knowing I’m an old fart & useless with technology, I’ll probably fuck something up & never figure out how to post something on this blog ever again once I make the switch. 🙂

Here’s what I watched & read in February. Have even managed to go to the cinema a few times! (Saw Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania a few days ago, too).

MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):

The Swimmer – Liked this a lot! Quite a weird one. Thanks to my buddy Film Miasma for reviewing this (here) as I’d not even heard of it before. Won’t say much about it in this post as I already did a separate full review of it here. – 8/10

Knock At The Cabin – I’m a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I know he has his critics but I will always choose watching a story I don’t already know & which might surprise me instead of all the utterly bland & predictable sequels, prequels, reboots, superheroes, etc etc. Yeah, he’s had some duds but at least he gives us original ideas.

I know this is based on someone else’s book but he’s again, as with Old, chosen to adapt something that fits in so well with the kinds of stories he obviously loves to make. Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. It’s certainly not up there with the very best like The Sixth Sense (which I still think is brilliant) but it was much better than a lot of his work & Dave Bautista gave a really good performance. The girl was very cute, the family were likeable & the story was intriguing. I’ve currently ranked it 5th in my Shyamalan ranking, which I think is where it’ll stay. 

As I said, the story intrigued me so I thought about reading the book first (still have it on reserve at the library – long wait!). What I found most disappointing was that very little was explained. I’m wondering if the story is much more fleshed out in the book, as is often the case? So I’d still like to read it to see if there’s more to it. It also feels the least “Shyamalan” of his movies, maybe partly due to it not ending how you’d expect. Think the ending is a bit of a letdown after a good buildup. But, I still think the film itself is of a better quality than those I’ve ranked below it on my list. I did appreciate it and got a lot of enjoyment out of going to the cinema, which has become a very rare possibility for me. So maybe being back in the cinema is making me rate this one a bit more highly… – 7/10

All Quiet On The Western Front – I admit that I had to force myself to watch this one after it was nominated for Best Picture as I try to watch as many Oscar nominees as I can each year. I always have to force myself to watch war movies, even though I love some of them (The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, Full Metal Jacket, etc). Don’t think I’ve ever disliked a war film but it will still never be a favorite genre for me. Life sucks enough! I want escapism. 

Yes, this is a good film. Lovely cinematography & a very interesting score. I did see the 1930 film in high school after reading the book but I remember nothing whatsoever about either & if this is at all similar. I liked the characters & the friendships but didn’t want to like anyone since, like Game Of Thrones, I knew I better not get too attached to anyone. This film is, as to be expected, very grim. As war movies should be. Don’t think it’s one of the very best I’ve ever seen but is still a worthy addition to this genre. Was worth the watch. And it inspired me to rank every war movie I’ve ever seen (here). Seen more than I’d realised! (56) – 7.5/10

Empire Of Light – Enjoyed this despite some negative reviews. Admittedly, I wanted to see this as I’ve been to where it was filmed (have photos of me at that roller disco) and I also always love movies set in a cinema or in some way having to do with a love of cinema. Oh, and I do love an ‘80s setting! Can understand why some were disappointed with the script/story as it was indeed a bit messy & I’d have liked far more character development for everyone. But Olivia Colman & Micheal Ward were very good and had an interesting relationship plus the film looked lovely as expected with Roger Deakins doing the cinematography (and it’s up for that Oscar). Can absolutely understand why the general public didn’t go for this one but think many film lovers should appreciate it. – 7/10

I went roller skating here!

Top Hat – Ashamed to say this is my first Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movie. Figured it was time to finally watch the dancing duo in action after watching my first ever Fred Astaire movie (Easter Parade) last year. 

Didn’t realise this was going to be a screwball comedy, which isn’t usually a favorite subgenre of mine, instead of just a straightforward musical. Not sure the comedic elements or the romance worked that well in this but the dance numbers were of course a joy to watch. I don’t know why I have to force myself to watch classic musicals such as this as I always end up enjoying them. And, as often happens with them, I thought I knew absolutely nothing from Top Hat so was surprised that I indeed knew two of the songs in it. Funny how the songs in these films really do stand the test of time. As for the story in this, though, I don’t think it has aged quite as well as some have. Have to say I definitely preferred Easter Parade but it could help that I think Judy Garland was just fantastic in everything I’ve seen her in.

As an overall movie, I found Top Hat quite average but was worth a one-time watch for the dance numbers & songs. – 6.5/10

Strange World – Well this wasn’t so bad? I quite liked the story, which felt far more original than a lot of family films. I think the issue, for me, is that it’s one that again is just not up to Disney standards. It felt more like I’d just watched a good DreamWorks movie. So I feel like I’d give this an extra star if it was DreamWorks based on my lower standards for them, which seems unfair, but I expect a bit more when it’s got the Disney or Pixar name on it. 

Before I sound too negative, I did enjoy this and don’t understand the really bad reviews. As I said, I thought the story was unique and the “strange” world was wonderfully bizarre and lovely. Was a bit Dr. Seuss-ian (which is fine by me). The characters were likeable enough, though underdeveloped, and the creature Splat was fun. Again, it’s not up to Disney’s very best but it was much better than I was expecting based on the negativity. I liked it more than Pixar recents like LucaOnward & Turning Red. – 6.5/10

True Spirit – A 2023 release on Netflix that no one I follow on Letterboxd has watched yet?! Yes, it’s a very predictable, inspiring, feelgood true story but these types of movies never hurt anyone. Knew nothing of the real girl, Jessica Watson, who sailed solo around the world at the age of 16. That’s amazing. Thought the girl who played her, Teagan Croft, was good and felt super old seeing Anna Paquin playing her mother. Enjoyable weekend afternoon viewing. – 6/10

Somebody I Used To Know – After becoming obsessed with Community last year, I was very excited to see a new release starring “Annie” and, my favorite, “Abed”. Well, this is maybe a fraction better than the recent Your Place Or Mine (reviewed below). But certainly not by much & Brie’s character is far more annoying than Witherspoon’s & borderline hateful. So she hasn’t talked to her lovely ex in ten years & now suddenly wants to ruin his wedding which is in just a few days? The most unbelievable thing was his fiancée putting up with that bullshit. A disappointment overall, mainly as I disliked the main character and what the hell is the point of that? Meh. Maybe I’ll rank the Witherspoon movie just above this one after all. Oh – I quite liked her hometown in this, though. Reminded me of some small towns where I grew up. – 5.5/10

I just want that Community movie they said would happen…

Your Place Or Mine – This wasn’t great. The best thing about it was The Cars soundtrack. That band deserves more love. 

Reese & Ashton had zero chemistry & I barely believed them as friends let alone lovers. The story was predictable, as expected, but who cares with a straight-to-Netflix romcom. It was a pleasant enough film to pass the time & completely forget about in a year. Did like Steve Zahn as the weirdo neighbour. Always fun to see him pop up in films.

Found the recent romcoms Shotgun Wedding & The Lost City much more enjoyable than this one. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched:

Heathers – Hubby & I felt like rewatching this absolute classic we’ve seen many times. Love it. They don’t (and won’t) ever make good dark teen comedies like this anymore. Feel sorry for today’s teens & their rubbish entertainment. 9/10

Documentaries Watched:

Managed to watch all but one of the Best Documentary Oscar nominees…

A House Made Of Splinters – Heartbreaking. The one I found most moving of the Best Documentary Oscar nominees this year. Have so much respect for those who try to help children caught up in terrible situations. You can currently see this on BBC iPlayer. 

Fire Of Love – What an amazing couple & bittersweet love story. Although I can’t say I’m that fascinated by volcanoes, I always love to see someone show such passion for something. It’s infectious. And, wow – they captured brilliant volcano footage. And now I want to watch Joe Versus The Volcano again. Ha! (Seriously, though – that film is underrated).

Although I found A House Made of Splinters the most moving, I think this is the best documentary I’ve seen this year & that it has a chance of winning the Oscar. I’d be happy to see it win. My only complaint is the narration. It’s certainly a unique voice – I just mainly found it distracting as I thought at first that the woman who voiced Sadness in Inside Out was narrating (she’s not). 

Navalny – Fascinating story & person! Well worth a watch before the Oscars ceremony. Recommended. Also on BBC iPlayer.

All That Breathes – The last of the Best Documentary nominees I managed to see on services (thank you, BBC iPlayer). Beautifully shot & lovely melancholy score. I like that the nominees I’ve seen this year are mostly about people who are devoted to something they’re passionate about. Was heartbreaking to see what is happening to “all that breathes” this polluted air. Worth mentioning a great short documentary nominee also about lovely people devoted to rescuing animals: The Elephant Whisperers. Liked that a lot.

Shorts Watched:

Again, two more Oscar nominees I managed to find to watch. Really want to see the rest of the animated shorts! Anyone know where I can see them??

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse – This had lovely animation & I appreciate its uplifting sayings, etc. But was a bit over-the-top on that. Overly saccharine. Also felt too long.

The Flying Sailor – I like that this is supposedly based on a (maybe) true story? Nuts. (Ha. Literally!). Whereas the previous one felt way too long for a short, this felt too short. Could’ve been better considering its fascinating story.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN FEBRUARY

BOOKS READ

Fairy Tale by Stephen King – First of all, that above cover is SO much better than the U.K. cover I have! Most of the recent covers on King’s books in the U.K. are rubbish.

Well, I liked this book a lot. I know I’m a huge King fan so I’m likely to love most his books but I do really dislike a few (kind of hated Under The Dome & not crazy about The Outsider). As I like horror, I’ve avoided King’s fantasy stuff. Did try The Gunslinger (twice!) and cannot get into that so have read no more of The Dark Tower. But I finally read The Eyes Of The Dragon last year & loved that Game-Of-Thrones-Light book! So I went into this new fantasy with an open mind after that one. Yes, if you liked The Eyes Of The Dragon, you’ll probably like Fairy Tale but I am sure some of his pure horror lovers won’t like this one at all.

Really liked the boy in this and of course loved the dog sidekick. Who doesn’t like a loveable dog?? It was like reading a Dean Koontz book (he loves adding a dog sidekick). It’s kind of two books in one, with the first half in the “real world” being so very different from the fantasy world but I like getting two for the price of one & really enjoyed both parts. King has once again given us a very descriptive, imaginative & bizarre fantasy world, which I’m a big fan of in so many of his books such as Lisey’s Story, etc. Adored the shoemaker woman and the others like her that he encounters in the other world. The story did lose its way a bit about three quarters of the way through and it was quite different for a while (just after the sundial – so, actually, it was more like three stories in one). But I still enjoyed that section and overall liked this one a lot. Would still rank The Eyes Of The Dragon a bit higher but would love to read more of this type of fantasy story from King. – 4/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Last Of Us: S1 E4-7 – Enjoying this but not obsessed with it like some existing fans seem to be as the game means nothing to me. I can’t say it feels like anything all that new as we’ve seen this type of story so many times now. But I love apocalyptic & zombielike stories so I’m still happy. Sad to see episode 7 was the lowest rated episode but I really liked it. Two girls hanging out & having fun in a post-apocalyptic mall? Dawn Of The Dead AND Night Of The Comet vibes?! I’m here for that! Love those films.

Tried the first episode of Extraordinary. Liked the highly inappropriate & filthy humor. Hubby wasn’t feeling the show at all so I may continue on my own but have too much else to watch at the moment. We also tried the first episode of The Goldbergs but neither of us were feeling that one. And for nostalgia, I rewatched the first two episodes of Silver Spoons on YouTube. Man I love pure ’80s cheese!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Well, the Oscars are coming up so maybe I’ll do a post on Friday with the reviews of the nominees I’ve seen (more than I realised but not enough of the “big nominees”). If I can be arsed. 🙂 I’m expecting Everything Everywhere All At Once to be the big winner, which I didn’t love. Can’t say I truly loved any of the nominees I’ve seen. As usual.

I’ll end with a song from The Cars as they had so many of their songs in that underwhelming Reese Witherspoon movie. I’ll go with Let’s Go as it’s the first one I remember hearing in the movie.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2022

Hi All. Hope everyone is well. I’ve not been around as things are bad at the moment.

But I do miss the blogs & have still been watching stuff (more TV shows than movies but still some movies). So I’m keeping logs of what I watch in Drafts & try to write short reviews when I feel up to it. This post is complete now so here’s what I watched in January…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):

Vivarium – Wow, this was pretty fucking weird. So, since I love weird, I really enjoyed it. And, like most weird movies, I’d be very hesitant to actually recommend it to anyone as they’d hate it & probably think I was a weirdo. Which I am but, you know, I try to hide that in real life… Well, I wrote enough about this one that I posted a full review at the link yesterday. It’s eerie & had a very Twilight Zone vibe, which is totally my type of thing. Glad I finally got the chance to see this bizarre film about a couple stranded in a strange neighborhood filled with empty identical houses and one creepy-ass kid. Imogen POOTS! Why do I always watch all her movies? – 7.5/10

Dave Made A Maze – Another weird film that I also, of course, enjoyed. I’m a creep! I’m a weeeeeiiiiiiirdooooooo! Like Vivarium, I loved the concept. This artist dude builds a maze of cardboard boxes & gets lost and trapped inside it as it grows & takes on a life of its own. His girlfriend enlists the help of some of their friends to go in after him but they of course end up trapped too. I reviewed this in full as well in the same post as Vivarium. It’s a fun film with a mix of genres (fantasy, adventure, comedy & horror according to Wikipedia). – 7/10

The Father – This movie now beats Primer to win the “movie I fell asleep to the most while watching and had to rewind multiple times” award. Yes, Anthony Hopkins was good in this & deserving of his Oscar win playing a man with dementia. I gotta say that I found the movie a bit boring, though. Sorry! But I admit I’ve never been big on serious dramas. Give me sci-fi & horror & weird shit! Good performances all around, though, and I think the movie did well in portraying from the perspective of Hopkins’s (Hopkins’? Hopkin’s? Hopkinses?! Hate when names end with S!) character how confusing & scary it must be to have dementia.

Worth watching for the performances if that’s your sort of thing. You can also tell the movie is adapted from a play & that sort of format in a film isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea (I don’t mind that, though). Oh! And I had no idea beforehand that Imogen Poots was in this movie as well. That’s two Poots movies I watched in January. *Poots!* – 7/10

Movies Rewatched:

The Terminator – Rewatched this big favorite of mine & still adore it. Still have a massive crush on Kyle Reese, too. Hubba hubba! Why didn’t some hot guy ever travel through time to save ME?? Love the story & am a big fan of sci-fi but this one is also really helped by the brilliant & iconic design of the Terminator and a kick-ass score. Da Da DAA Da DAA! Remember when movie music was awesome? Why can’t they make sci-fi action films like this anymore? – 9/10

Fanboys – A fun film about a bunch of massive Star Wars nerds who plan to break into Skywalker Ranch so their dying friend can see The Phantom Menace before it comes out. Too bad it must have been a big disappointment to see that! But I’m personally starting to wish the Sequel Trilogy didn’t exist instead… – 6/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Room 237 – Been wanting to watch this documentary for ages as I’m a big fan of The Shining. It has interviews with various people who have different interpretations of the film and what they see as hidden meanings, etc. It was an entertaining watch and some of the theories were fun but the majority sounded like absolute bullshit to me. And, sorry, but that poster on the wall is NOT a f*^king Minotaur!

One guy also played the film forward & backward at the same time & found that certain images matched up really well (like the one of Wendy & the twins above and Jack & the dead twins at the very top of this post). Again I call bullshit! The Shining is one of THE most visually iconic films ever made so you’re gonna get some cool images matching up.

Well, it was still a fun documentary and I’ll always love hearing people talk about my favorite films. But some people have way too much time on their hands. I have no intention of watching movies forward & backward at the same time now. (But I did fall for the Wizard Of Oz/Dark Side Of The Moon thing, which was actually kind of awesome but also just a cool coincidence) – 7/10

Janet Jackson. – Not sure why I don’t watch more documentaries about people but saw this one being discussed on Twitter so gave it a shot as the Jacksons are such a massively talented & fascinating family. Being the age I am, I was of course a big fan of Michael Jackson. Whether a fan or not you can’t deny that talent and so many amazing pop songs from both his solo days and his younger years with his brothers.

I liked Janet’s music as well but she came along a bit later and I only bought the Control album before moving into my heavy metal high school days (great album). But, damn, she really did have loads of great songs & doesn’t get the credit she deserves. I’m in the “Janet got completely fucked over” camp. Her career was destroyed over a tiny flash of tit? Nipplegate? You couldn’t really even see the nipple! We see & hear FAR worse from celebrities now so why does it feel like she’s still being punished? Plus no one else involved in the incident had their careers ruined so, again, punish only the woman of course. I do think the “incident” was on purpose, yes, but so what? Get over it. One thing I really don’t miss about my country of birth is the ridiculous anger over a woman’s nipple but not over a bunch of kids being shot up on a daily basis in school.

Rant over! I thought this was a good documentary. I think it’s one where, I assume, the one making it is someone she trusts (and maybe a friend – I dunno – I’m too lazy to look into it) so it portrays Janet in a really good light. So whether it’s a completely accurate portrayal I can’t say but she came across as being very down-to-Earth & seemed at peace now which is good if that’s the case as she’s had a tough life. I’m not one to worship celebs & find most of them annoying but do think some are treated very horribly by the press, society, etc. They may have money and seem to have far better lives than the rest of us but still deserve to be treated like humans & the Jacksons had to deal with a lot more shit than most celebs. The documentary did cover a lot of her early years so we heard plenty about her family & what it was like growing up with them plus we got to see their childhood home so I really enjoyed that part of it. But it was great to then learn much more about Janet’s later life as I didn’t know much of that. Oh – and she deserved better men who would have treated her better! Hope she’s happy in that department now.

Justice for Janet! I’m going to put a bunch of her stuff on my playlist now. Not sure why I haven’t listened to her songs in so long (to be fair, stuff like Black Sabbath is more my thing these days but I still like plenty of pop too – especially from my beloved ’80s). They really did seem to stop playing her stuff on the radio after Nipplegate, whereas you still hear Michael all the time. What’s up with that?! It was only a (pretty much entirely covered) nipple, people! Sheesh. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, OTHER THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Yellowjackets: S1 E8-10 – Love this show so far! I don’t think it’s some amazing show or something & am sure some people wouldn’t like it at all but, being a Gen X girl, it feels aimed directly at me. Well, maybe me plus current late-teen girls. There aren’t enough things aimed at me these days, dammit. Well, I think I said this in my last post but they’re totally lying about Juliette Lewis’s age because, like me, she was NOT still in high school in 1996. So this would be cooler if set in 1986 instead of 1996 but, hey, I was still young in the ’90s so I still have fond memories of those days too.

I of course love the “old broads” in the current day scenes. I especially like Lewis as a crazy badass as usual, Melanie Lynskey as the mysterious main character, and Christina Ricci playing a very fun & unhinged character (who in real life is seven years younger than Lewis, by the way, so they wouldn’t have been in high school together. Why am I so hung up on this?! I dunno – I suppose because I grew up seeing them in stuff!). I do also love “flashback” stories as it feels like you’re getting two stories for the price of one and the 1996 flashbacks showing them as teens after the plane crash are great & I wish they’d hurry that storyline up as I want to see them turn into cannibalistic psychos! The friendship between Shauna & Jackie has been fun to watch and the teenage & adult versions of Taissa are quite intriguing. I’m annoyed we’re only, what, a few months into what happened after the plane crash, though?? Bring on Season 2!

The Book Of Boba Fett: S1 E2-5 – I’m writing this in mid-February after seeing all of this show now so have to remind myself to talk about only the first five episodes I saw in January. Hmm. Okay – in January I wasn’t very impressed with The Book Of Boba Fett, which was a bit heartbreaking after thinking The Mandalorian was brilliant & exactly the kind of excitement I wanted to feel (but didn’t) while watching the Sequel Trilogy. Mainly, I found the character of Boba Fett… a bit boring? OT fans do NOT want to find Boba Fett boring. He was better when he was all mysterious. Sometimes less is more.

Oh well – I don’t think the series was terrible. Some episodes were far better than others & I did enjoy some stories, such as the whole thing with Boba Fett & the Tuskens. The show still had some really great moments (but those were mostly all in the next two episodes & didn’t involved Boba Fett whatsoever…). Oh! A girl playing a character I like in Yellowjackets was also in this. Her character (and those of her friends in this) SUCKS. Damn. At least we got to see Max Rebo! OT character excellence. And Flashdance chick!

Stay Close: S1– Had a very weird reason for sticking this Netflix show on one night: We wanted to see the big head sculpture (called Dream) that features quite prominently several times in this show. We have photos of my daughter in front of it when she was about three & we pulled over to check it out on a trip to Liverpool. She’d often mentioned remembering seeing this massive head when she was little & wondering what the heck was up with that. Man, that sculpture needs a clean now! Looks much better in our photos than in the show. Anyway – I’d read on Twitter that the show is set in that region & shows the sculpture a lot, and right at the start, so we put it on.

So we’ve now finally discovered a genre our early teen who never wants to watch anything with us anymore likes: crime mystery thrillers. Who knew! She was SO into this. It’s partly because it’s the first of this sort of thing she’s seen, I suppose, but we’re now trying to think of similar things she might like. Any suggestions? This was very borderline on appropriateness – would certainly not want anything much more violent or intense than this. It has a very cheesy ’90s movie thriller vibe, which is a guilty pleasure of mine. So I also enjoyed this show far more than I was expecting. A bit pulp-y, yeah, but that’s exactly what I want from this genre. Stuff like Malice! Single White Female! The Hand That Rocks The Cradle! Cheesy thriller goodness. Might check out this same guy’s (Harlan Coben’s) show Safe next, which is on Netflix as well.

Looking For Alaska: – Meh. I read this John Green YA novel so figured I’d check out the adaptation. From what I can remember of the book now, this seemed like a really faithful adaptation. I’ve read several Green books & all except The Fault In Our Stars have a bit too much of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing going on. Paper Towns was the worst for it & this was probably the second worst (although the girl in this one isn’t nearly as hateful as the Paper Towns girl). This show was fine. A bit too much drama. I liked the main boy played by Charlie Plummer but maybe it helps that I really loved the recent film he was in called Spontaneous & he was a really likeable character in that. Watch that! Then maybe watch this if you really like YA stuff.

And Just Like That…: S1 E6-9 – Good Lord this show was dreadful. I can’t remember what I wrote about it in my last post and I’ve finished it all now so I’ll just say it doesn’t improve as the show goes on. They should have just left these characters alone. I mean, they were already all hateful in the first place but at least there were admittedly some funny moments in Sex & The City. So in this show they’re older & still hateful but also now boring & unfunny. Pointless.

Foundation: S1 E1 – Can’t say much about this at this point but checked out the one freebie episode on Apple TV. Intriguing so far. Will watch more if/when we sign up for Apple again (which I mainly want to do to see CODA, Finch & Ted Lasso).

All Of Us Are Dead: S1 E1 – Watched an episode. Love most Korean stuff & most zombie stuff but wasn’t feeling this. Maybe I’ll try again at some point.

The Masked Singer U.K.: S3 E1-2 – Getting a little bored with these but also still a little fascinated by the concept & seeing how desperate celebs are to stay relevant by doing cheesy stuff like this. The US version still has far bigger celebs. Probably won’t bother finishing as know most of those unmasked thanks to Twitter.

MUSIC LISTENED TO

David Bowie – Toys – Had to check out a “new” Bowie album! Love him. Album is fine. Mainly it was just great hearing that voice of his again. Still miss him.

The Weeknd – Dawn FM – I don’t normally check out “new” music but every once in a while figure I should give something a try. I admit I’m stuck in the old days & listen to very little music released in the past 15 years. But I’ve liked some Weeknd songs so checked this out while working/sleeping. It worked well for that as it’s a little dull compared to his more upbeat stuff. There’s certainly no Blinding Lights on this album (I admit I love that song). The album is fine, though. Inoffensive. Nothing stands out.

Grimes – Player Of Games & Shinigami Eyes – I have a confession to make: Grimes is a guilty pleasure of mine. Maybe not a secret as I did a whole post HERE about two of my favorite songs of hers. And a post HERE about her album Miss Anthropocene which I’ve now listened to far more than I should admit (shitloads). I like her. She’s weird. Some songs are terrible. But she certainly has a sound that’s all her, I guess! So I just stick everything she releases onto my playlist and when they pop up on shuffle I go “Oh, that’s definitely Grimes”…

BOOKS READ

Well, at the time of writing this post I’m about 600 pages into the 800-something page A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones. So I’m getting there, I guess…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans but if I write any reviews maybe I’ll post them. I have my February Roundup post ready to go as well so will post that soon.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Still not going to the cinema (Covid & no money) so am just watching stuff available on services. Not sure what’s due to be released on services but hoping I can catch up on the many 2021 releases I missed. And hoping to see more Oscar nominees before the shitty Oscars I shouldn’t care about anyway (mainly CODA & Summer Of Soul as available & West Side Story when it comes to Disney Plus).

Let’s end with Brad Fiedel’s Terminator theme since I mentioned that it’s fucking awesome:

The Lost Daughter, Don’t Look Up & Pig Reviews

Another quick trio of reviews of 2021 releases before I do my December roundup post. Liked these a lot more than the three I reviewed earlier today. Two of these are also probably going to make my 2021 Top Ten list I’ll try to post later this week. I keep moving stuff around on that list a lot… We’ll see!

Don’t Look Up (2021)

Directed by Adam McKay

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization.

My Opinion:

Watched this yesterday (but I’m logging it as a 2021 watch!). Really glad I finished out the year with this one as I’ve found the 2021 releases on services to be very disappointing but I enjoyed this one a lot. Between this and The Lost Daughter, which I watched on the 31st, I’m happy to have two more movies probably making it into my 2021 Top Ten list.

Wasn’t sure what I’d think of this as I’ve not been big on any of Adam McKay’s other films but, for me, this is easily his best. I thought it would be extremely political & too far-left in that typical Hollywood way as, according to Wikipedia, “The comet is an analogy for climate change and the film is a satire of government and media indifference to the climate crisis.” There’s nothing I hate more than an overly preachy movie! But it didn’t feel preachy to me & I got some good laughs out of the comedy in this. I thought the satire was pretty clever and, although they say it’s about how how shit the governments & media are, I thought it also perfectly displayed what a bunch of fucking morons the entire human race has become. I always enjoy “humans suck” satire (also a fan of Idiocracy, although I wish that film was better). It was scary how accurate this film was on how the general population would react if told we’re all going to die when a comet hits Earth. There would be as many comet-deniers as there are Covid-deniers. I would have thought this film was exaggerating things just five years ago or so (but I also wrongly thought Idiocracy was exaggerated at the time). People being more bothered about a celebrity breakup than our impending doom is SO FUCKING ACCURATE.

I also really enjoyed all the performances in this. Movies with huge star ensembles like this don’t always work for me as I sometimes find so many big names to be distracting & can take away from the story but I thought everyone was perfectly cast in this. Leonardo DiCaprio was good, of course, but I liked that it felt like quite a different role for him. And I loved that his wife was, like, the same age as him! Also really liked Jennifer Lawrence’s character and loved how she became just another meme for media-obsessed society. Also loved her obsession with the free snacks… Meryl Streep was pretty damn hilarious as a hateful self-absorbed president & I thought Jonah Hill was funny (although I can see that one role being the most divisive). And Mark Rylance was fantastic as a typical billionaire genius/idiot. I can’t call if this movie will have any acting Oscar nominations or if it’ll be completely ignored as comedy often is by the Academy. Or if they’ll only nominate Streep as usual. I think it deserves recognition, though, and I enjoyed it far more than his Oscar-nominated The Big Short.

I’ve avoided reviews & discussion of this movie but get the impression that people are pretty divided? Not sure why as I thought it was easily one of the better films I’ve managed to see this year. Maybe the truth hurts?

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Lost Daughter (2021)

Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal

Based on The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

Starring: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Domińczyk, Jack Farthing, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.

My Opinion:

I also liked this film a lot. I’d maybe say it’s actually better than Don’t Look Up but is obviously a much more serious film & I had more “fun” watching Don’t Look Up.

The acting is great in this, especially from Olivia Colman & Jessie Buckley. I’m not an Olivia Colman fan (I’m actually enjoying The Crown far less since it changed to her from Claire Foy) but have to admit she’s very good in this. And that horrible family who came to the beach gave me the absolute creeps! Absolutely cannot stand pushy, entitled people like that and there are far too many of them in this world. Why the fuck should Olivia Colman move from her spot on the beach, huh?!? Anyway – I guess the family were very good as they were menacing as hell just in the way they would look at Colman’s character. But I never really understood their problem with her. Was it only because she wouldn’t move on the beach or did I miss something else while trying to sneakily watch this in between doing stuff with the family on one of my last days off of work?? Dakota Johnson was also good as part of that horrible family (by marriage, I think – was never quite sure how they were all related) & the one who Colman connects with as her young daughter brings up painful memories from Colman’s past. Johnson is maybe growing on me – I couldn’t understand what people saw in her at first.

I think this movie does a fantastic job of portraying the fact that, for some women, there’s much more to them than “just being a mother” and that being a mother (and wife) can be very difficult. I think movies often portray motherhood as being beautiful & perfect. I’m not saying I could personally connect with Colman’s & Buckley’s character’s experience but I think it will probably speak to a lot of women. And I thought the building tension in this was done really well. I kept feeling more & more uneasy throughout this film as I didn’t know a thing about the story & didn’t know what would happen.


Hated this bitch so much!

I think Gyllenhaal has done a great job with this movie. I can’t say whether it’s a good adaptation as I’ve not read the book but I’d now be interested in possibly reading it to know even more about the characters’ motivations. Maybe I’ll read it. I don’t often read a book after seeing the movie but I’d like to know a bit more after seeing this one. It’s a very good film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Pig (2021)

Directed by Michael Sarnoski

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a truffle forager whose beloved truffle-finding pig is stolen.

My Opinion:

Had to of course see what all the fuss was about on this one so managed to pick up a really cheap DVD of it (£2.99!). Can’t afford this hobby anymore so I think the only movies I spent on in 2021 outside of streaming services were this & Willy’s Wonderland. You’d think I was a Nicolas Cage fan or something! I’m actually really not, although he’s grown on me in recent years thanks to his interesting film choices. Those choices are often bad & I’ve not watched those that had terrible reviews but things like Mandy & Color Out Of Space are right up my alley & this one sounded like it could be too.

It’s an interesting film & I do agree that Cage was good in it. As much as I enjoy Crazy Cage, I liked seeing him so restrained in this one. I think he and the movie portray loneliness & grief well. Was honestly expecting some John Wick type of revenge rampage so was surprised at there being very little violence in this. Although a John Wick rampage would’ve been fun too but we’ve had enough of that sort of thing from Cage so this was a nice change.

Pig is a movie I’m glad I managed to see before the end of the year but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me as I can’t see myself watching it again. But I can understand why many seemed to like it as they could probably identify with Cage’s character. I can also see why plenty of other people wouldn’t go for this movie at all & would probably call it boring as it’s very slow & far less happens than I was expecting. It’s certainly a “Film Twitter person” type of movie that I wouldn’t go around recommending to people I work with or something. You’ll love it or possibly hate it. Or just be a bit “That was okay” like me. The pig was very cute!

My Rating: 7/10

Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021) Review

Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021)

Directed by Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine & Octavio E. Rodriguez (co-director)

Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Olivia Colman

Music by Henry Jackman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of Barney, an awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device. Ron’s malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age launch them on a journey to learn about true friendship.

My Opinion:

Was surprised to see this pop up on Disney Plus so soon after it was in cinemas but was very happy to be able to see it since there’s not much I love more in movies than adorable robots. I’m always a sucker for a cute robot! WALL-E is my favorite Pixar movie & R2-D2 is my favorite Star Wars character (well, Grogu is giving him a run for his money). So this movie was clearly one I was eager to see.

I liked it! It’s not a perfect film. It’s one of those where I don’t know where to rank it on my year end list I’ll post next week. If I’m honest, I enjoyed it more than Encanto (which I reviewed HERE yesterday) but Encanto is certainly the better film. It doesn’t have a robot in it, though! Ron is definitely what makes this film work. The other characters are fine but none of them really stand out like Ron the robot. The grandma is fun & the main boy’s friendship with Ron was really sweet but the cute robot in a movie like this is always going to steal the show. It was the same with Big Hero 6, although that’s obviously a much stronger film with better characters than this one. But Baymax was what made it so fantastic.

I also really liked the message in this film. As with most animated kids’ films, there’s of course a message (or two) but it’s done subtly & works within the movie. Mainly it’s about friendship but they touch on the evils of social media a bit too. I realise I’m typing this post on a blog, which will auto-tweet to Twitter, but I’m old so I remember the days before all this & I think most of us were much happier then. The movie isn’t at all preachy about any of this, though, which is a big pet peeve of mine. I also thought the film had a pretty brave bittersweet ending.

Oh – Ron also sang a funny song with the grandma which the daughter & I went around singing for the next week whereas I can’t currently remember any songs from Encanto even though we only just watched it a couple of nights ago. It was really cute & I wish Encanto had a similar moment as I really do want to like that one a bit more. Maybe it will grow on me but I know that Ron is already one of the better characters from all the movies I’ve seen in 2021.

My Rating: 7/10

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021) & Abominable (2019) Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two fun family films that I really enjoyed.

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021)

Directed by Mike Rianda

Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a dysfunctional family that winds up having to save Earth from a robot uprising while on a road trip.

My Opinion:

This movie was surprisingly good! I’m a bit snobby when it comes to animated films if they’re anything other than Studio Ghibli, Pixar or Disney. This is from Sony Pictures Animation who, to be fair, have made a lot of fairly rubbish films (other than Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse which was absolutely brilliant – what happened there?!). Well, this obviously isn’t as good as that one as that would be really hard to beat but it was loads of fun & certainly better than most everything put out by DreamWorks (I’m really not a fan of DreamWorks most of the time either).

Now, I’m going to keep this super short but I just wanted to do a quick post to give this recognition outside of my monthly roundup post of up to 20 or so films to say: “Hey, this movie is quite good & and one of those family films aimed at all ages & not just kids so is one that the whole family can enjoy!. Because I love family movies that aren’t just dumb humor that only very young kids can enjoy. I mean, hell, this movie has a They Live reference! A John Carpenter reference in an animated family film! And it has robots and I love robots. And, for us movie blogging weirdos, the main teenage girl is a massive movie nerd going off to film school to make movies so I know that’s also really helped to make Film Twitter go “Hell yeah!” to this movie. Oh yeah – and Mark Mothersbaugh did the music (I love Devo!). The characters are fun & likeable misfits and my pre-teen laughed in a way I’ve not heard her laugh while watching a movie in AGES. I could do with seeing it again as I was exhausted that night & a bit snoozy so maybe this rating will go up on a rewatch. Good fun, though! Am glad they make stuff like this for everyone.

My Rating: 7/10

Abominable (2019)

Directed & Written by Jill Culton

Starring: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin

Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Production companies: DreamWorks Animation & Pearl Studio

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a teenage girl named Yi, who encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in Shanghai, names him Everest and embarks on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth along with her mischievous friends Jin and Peng, but the trio of friends will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish, a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara to help Everest get home.

My Opinion:

Okay, this is a DreamWorks film and as I said above, I’m really not a fan most of the time. I don’t even like Shrek all that much. Looking at their list of films now, I honestly think the Kung Fu Panda ones are my favorites. That’s probably thanks to me loving Jack Black plus an amazing score from Hans Zimmer. Honestly – go listen to Oogway Ascends (HERE)! That’s some gorgeous music for an animated film! I don’t expect that from DreamWorks – it’s Pixar who normally have the beautiful scores (Inside Out, Finding Nemo & WALL-E are some of the all-time best film scores). Oh, and don’t even get me started on Joe Hisaishi’s Studio Ghibli scores! Absolute perfection.

Well, I think I may have a new DreamWorks favorite. I liked Abominable a lot! Maybe my expectations were low? It’s very much my vibe, though – I love this sort of setting & music (it’s set in Shanghai). I thought the Yeti was lovable & adorable (I want one!) and the main characters were really good (especially the teen girl who befriends the Yeti she names Everest). And speaking of music, yes, it also had some lovely music as well. Oh, and the animation was very pretty. The girl goes on a journey with two friends to return Everest to his home after he escapes from a research facility. I’ll keep this one short as well as I don’t have much to say other than: “Yay! This was so good & I really liked a DreamWorks movie for a change and I want my own adorable Yeti!” Oh – the pre-teen loved this one as well. So maybe go more by what she says because she can be even more picky than I am.

My Rating: 7.5/10