Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.
Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Ah, Primer. I… think I liked Primer? I’m not going to pretend that I could at all follow along with the complex time travel involved but, hey, I like a smart film & apparently things were quite accurate in that film according to smart science-y people (or so I read). Gotta love a movie where you have to go online afterwards to try to figure it out. I found a complicated diagram online trying to explain it all (it’s in my Primer review I’ve linked if you want to see it).
So, onto Upstream Color. Again, it’s a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I’d say it’s more strange than Primer since that was, really, just a time travel story even though it was complicated but I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? What was up with the pigs?! What was the purpose of the pig farmer guy? Why was he doing that re-implanting (I’m trying to stay spoiler-free)? What was with the sound stuff he was doing? What was up with those flowers? What the hell was the point of any of this?!? Is this a circle of life type thing? This movie gave me vibes of what I’ve always assumed Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life movie is probably like (but I can’t say for sure since I never watched that since it sounds totally pretentious). But I probably will watch that someday since I’m always drawn to these sort of movies despite not being smart enough to understand them.
Well, I won’t ramble on forever talking about this movie since I have no explanations. There are okay articles you can find online if you want to go looking up “Upstream Color explained!” but what I read online didn’t help much either. To be honest, the people writing those articles didn’t seem to know what the point of the movie was either. Even what Shane Carruth himself has said about this movie doesn’t offer all that much insight. For example, this is something Carruth said that’s on Wikipedia under Themes & is spoiler-free (you can read a little more at the link if you want):
“In April 2013, io9.com asked director Shane Carruth if the film’s point regarded a return to nature. Carruth replied that the film explored breaking cycles:
It’s more about what those pigs are now embodying. I mean, there is a break of the cycle. These people that have been affected by this are now taking back ownership of the thing that they’re connected to…I don’t believe that narrative works when it’s trying to teach a lesson, or speak a factual truth. What it’s good for is, an exploration of something that’s commonplace and universal — maybe that’s where the truth comes from.”
Yeah… Okay…. Well, I liked this movie just fine as I do like weird films (Hello, Butt Boy & Rubber!). I think this is a smarter film than those, though, even if the explanations of it sound like a load of bollocks (I’ve put that word in here for Film Miasma). I do prefer Primer as that is shockingly now seeming like the much simpler film but I enjoyed the bizarre ride with this one. Especially the weird shit with the pigs! Amy Seimetz (from Pet Sematary and the director & writer of the equally weird She Dies Tomorrow) was good in the main role. And Shane Carruth seems very talented. He did everything with this movie! Directed, produced, wrote & starred in as well as doing the editing, cinematography & music. I’ve liked enough of what I’ve seen of his work so far to watch anything else he might make.
Hi Again. Today I’m posting my final 2020 Top Ten List.
As always, I’m going by U.K. release dates and a lot of the best released in 2020 here were 2019 in the U.S. It was also a challenge to try to figure out actual release dates this year with so many straight to streaming. I also ignore release dates if they were only at festivals at the start (who actually gets to see those?!). So I’m going by general U.K. release dates. I may have a few of these wrong. Not that it really matters…
As I saw so few, I’ll just rank all 34 that I watched. I also missed a lot that I expect would make my top ten if I’d seen them. Let me know what I should be sure to check out of those I missed.
So here are all the 2020 movies released in the U.K. that I saw, counting down to my top ten:
Special Mention: The Mandalorian: Season 2(This was easily my favorite thing in 2020 & I enjoyed it far more than any recent movies) – 9/10
2020 Movies I Missed That I Desperately Want To See:
Possessor (big fan of his dad David Cronenberg), Swallow, The Invisible Man, The Hunt, The Lighthouse, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, Vivarium, Fatman, VFW, Promising Young Woman, Peninsula, Relic, The Lodge, Spontaneous
Would also watch these if recommended (but could live without the Netflix ones & the thought of sitting through Mank doesn’t thrill me):
Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, Unhinged, Proxima, His House, Mank, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Rebecca, The Old Guard, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, The Call, Queen & Slim, On The Rocks, Happiest Season, Underwater, The Rhythm Section, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Blow The Man Down, King Of Staten Island, Black Bear, Run
Hello Everyone! Another year of blogging. Why am I still here?!? No one else is. Oh well – I have to keep this movie diary going. If I didn’t spend time making lists, I don’t know what the hell I’d do with myself. Work, eat, sleep, repeat. Avoid people. (And that was before lockdown…)
What can I say? 2020 has been a terrible year for the whole world. So I just keep watching movies & reading books as usual. And that’s all I write about on this blog so I’ll shut up now & just stick to that. 🙂
As the year is almost over, here are my current Top Ten Movie Lists For 2020 So Far. Very awkward doing a “2020 Releases” list this year as I always go by U.K. cinema release date. But as so many went straight to streaming services, it was harder to determine which movies “became available to watch in the U.K. in the year 2020”. I ignored festival release dates. I may be wrong on some of these. Oh, who the hell cares what list they end up on?!
My Top Ten Movies Released To U.K. Cinemas Or Streaming Services In 2020 So Far:
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Chang Hyae-jin
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Parasite stars Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, and Park So-dam, and follows the members of a poor household who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating the household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.
After a year of hearing everyone raving over this on Twitter, the UK is FINALLY getting the chance to see it today. I was beyond excited & extremely happy to see it two weeks early with my cinema membership. It’s a very good film. But is it a masterpiece as so many are claiming? I hate how any halfway decent current film gets declared a damn masterpiece. Let a movie age a bit! See if it stands the test of time. Will Parasite be a “masterpiece” 20 years from now? I’m not sure about that but I think it’ll always be a well respected film. I expected this to be my favorite Best Picture Oscar nominee as I love foreign films. It might be my favorite but in some ways I think Joker is a better film despite people whining about it (although Parasite is far more “me” than a Scorsese-wannabe comic book movie). Okay, yes – Parasite is probably my favorite Best Picture nominee this year… I admit it’s grown on me over the past two weeks.
Despite the hype, I didn’t go into a Parasite with really high expectations as I’ve not loved any of Bong Joon-ho’s work that I’ve seen. Although the concept for Snowpiercer was amazing, the film was a bit of a mess. Okja was mostly just annoying as, with Snowpiercer as well, the characters were so unpleasant & ridiculous (especially Swinton & Gyllenhaal). I think I may have actually enjoyed his film The Host the most as I like a decent monster movie & the young girl in it was really good (and one of the only Bong Joon-ho characters to not be hateful in some way). However, as much as I hate hateful characters (which is why I suppose I haven’t gotten on with his work), they work perfectly for Parasite. I mean, it’s a social satire & the whole point of the film. Actually, these are probably his least hateful movie characters as the bad in each of them is far more subtle & none of them are the ridiculous Swinton-type caricatures. Everyone is flawed in some way, making them feel more real (we’re all flawed). You feel both sympathy & repulsion for every character at various points in the film.
I do think Parasite is a clever film with far deeper characters than we’ve had in Bong Joon-ho’s other work (that I’ve seen) & I understand some of the hype. It’s certainly his best film & I did enjoy the strange mix of genres, especially the dark humor. I was just hoping I might love Parasite. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a new movie that I know will be an all-time favorite of mine. Parasite is a very good film but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. I respect it. It’s well-written, it looks fantastic (it’s too bad I’m doing a short review so don’t have many images from the film as there are some great shots), and the acting is very good. But there are loads of foreign films I’ve thought were much better that didn’t get this same level of acclaim. Still, I’m happy to see a foreign film getting so much attention & hope that maybe it will open more people up to the idea of checking out some non-English language movies.
January is over!! Thank fuck. I’m still taking a blog break this year but I’ll probably do these monthly roundups as I’m obviously not going to take a break from watching movies. I watched seven movies in January, five of those in the cinema. Being in the U.K., January means the release of a lot of the Oscar nominees so I saw a lot of “worthy” stuff last month. I think the Oscar nominees are very weak this year, though. None of them really blew me away. I’ll do mini-reviews of each below.
**Damn. Three of my mini-reviews ended up way too long. So I might as well post separate full reviews for the Best Picture nominees (Parasite, Little Women, Jojo Rabbit & 1917) over the next three days.**
Also, apologies as I was taking a blog break for my sanity (Ha! As if I’ll ever be sane). So I haven’t replied to some great comments in the past month. I’ll be catching up on replies this week. Thanks for putting up with my unreliability!
– Weathering With You – I couldn’t believe it when I saw that there was going to be a showing of a Japanese anime film at my local cinema. Only one showing, though, I believe. And it was packed. Maybe they should show this stuff a bit more often? It clearly has a fanbase. This film is from Makoto Shinkai, who also directed 5 Centimetres Per Second, The Garden Of Words & the fantastic Your Name. I’ll be honest – I thoroughly enjoyed this movie (as I knew I would) & it was gorgeous like all of Shinkai’s films but I did think it was the weakest of what I’ve seen of his work. As a lot of his films, this is another YA romance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – YA romance will probably always be a guilty pleasure of mine (especially when it’s supernatural romance & pretty anime). Like Your Name, the story involves nature & the sky & it’s all very lovely but the teens are borderline annoying at times. These anime teenagers in love are so damn dramatic! But there are funny moments & sweet moments and, fuck it – it’s Japanese anime so I liked it because I’m a nerdy film snob. Here’s one extra image from the film since it’s so pretty… – 7/10
– Long Shot – This was surprisingly enjoyable and pretty goddamn funny. If I wasn’t such a pussy, I’d rank it above 1917 but I don’t want anyone to yell at me. Let’s be honest – Seth Rogen wouldn’t have a chance in hell with gorgeous Charlize Theron but they somehow managed to make this relationship fairly believable. And Theron was a real surprise doing the comedy. She’s done comedy before but I thought she was really good in this and the chemistry with Rogen did work. To be fair, they’re my sort of age so I’m the right target market for the film but I got some good laughs out of this movie & am glad I watched it as I don’t go for many comedies these days. I needed some laughs in this month of “dramatic Oscar nominees”. – 7/10
– Burning – I’ve been absolutely desperate to see this South Korean movie for ages. When this came out in 2018, everyone claimed you’d like one of these 2018 foreign films: Roma, Cold War, Shoplifters, or Burning. Well, I’ve finally seen them all and have to say they were all pretty damn disappointing. I fully expected to adore Shoplifters as I love Japanese movies, but… Meh. Well, it might be my favorite of these. Here’s my ranking:
Yes, I’ll never understand the love for Roma. Anyway, I did like Burning even though it’s far too long. I knew it was a “slow burn” but, holy hell. Not everyone will have the patience to sit through this one & you aren’t really rewarded with answers if you do. However, I did like the film’s atmosphere & its look & the frustrating mystery. And yeah – I also like Steven Yeun (as Glenn was one of the only characters I liked in The Walking Dead, which I’ve finally stopped watching as it has sucked for years). But nothing really happens in this movie. As I said, I did like it okay & thought it was a decent piece of filmmaking but it would be very hard to recommend to anyone. It certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste. – 6.5/10
– The Meg – Rewatched this movie with the kid. It’s obviously not a “good” movie but it’s fun. And the characters are more likeable than we usually get in these kind of films. Good enough for me! – 6.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I made a New Year’s Resolution to read more worthy books (or at least not so much YA). Then I read this YA book. Oops. I’d been intrigued by this one for a while as I’d read that is has a great twist ending (Really?! Lies). I enjoyed the book but it’s a series & I’m not sure I have the energy to read the rest. It’s my favorite sort of YA (Dystopian! Woohoo!). The world is made up of those with silver blood & special powers and those with red blood & no powers, who are essentially slaves to the silver bloods. There’s of course a love triangle (actually, it’s four people so it’s whatever you’d call that. THREE guys like the main chick. WTF). It’s a decent enough story but I can’t say it feels all that original as there are soooo many YA novels in this genre now. I’d like to know how it ends but maybe I’ll wait to see if they just do a film adaption of all the books. – 3/5
– Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar – I enjoyed the first short novel, Gwendy’s Button Box, which Chizmar wrote with Stephen King so I figured I’d read this short sequel. It’s fine but you could tell the difference with King not writing this one as well. Not that it matters – it just certainly had far less “horror” than King’s stories. The story in this sequel is more straightforward & not as much strange stuff happens. I like the strange stuff, which is why I like King, so I definitely prefer the first book. But Chizmar did well with the character, who I liked in the first book, so it was good to find out more about what happened to her later in life. Worth a read if you read & liked the first one but don’t expect nearly as much stuff to happen in the sequel. The button box itself seemed a bit pointless in this book (and it’s a pretty cool box). – 3/5
Now Reading: The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James & Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira (YA. Oops.)
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Star Trek: Picard – I’m a MASSIVE Star Trek: The Next Generation fan so I was of course super excited about this show. Love Patrick Stewart! I’ve only managed to watch the first episode so far, which was fine. Will see how the rest go. I badly want to see more TNG characters on this show…
– The Middle – Wanted a simple, short sitcom to watch with the family. I recommended this as I’d seen a couple of seasons when it was first on & I liked it. Happy to say that my daughter loves it! It’s great to have a fun family sitcom to veg out to. They make so few of them now. Nothing is made with families in mind these days. I like the show as I think it’s a very realistic portrayal of a normal, slightly fucked-up, poor & struggling family in the American Midwest. I can relate to more of it than my British family, though. Reminds me of growing up in the same part of America.
– Watchmen – I read Alan Moore’s Watchmen years ago & did enjoy it. I wasn’t a big fan of the 2009 film. It was okay – I should probably watch it again sometime. Oh man, though – I’m not sure how I felt about this TV series. It’s just… not Watchmen. There were things I liked about it. The story was okay, the characters were interesting, and I’m impressed that they played part of Devo’s Mongoloid in an episode. Oh, and a Howard Jones song too. Yay 80s! But. I dunno. It’s not Watchmen. The only thing it really accomplished was making me want to read the far superior graphic novel again. I think I didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. I’d had zero experience reading graphic novels/ comic books & Watchmen was probably a pretty heavy one for me to start on. Not that I’ve read any more since… (Other than Tank Girl). Yeah, I’ll read Watchmen again someday. I’ll never watch this TV “sequel” thing again, though.
– The Masked Singer (UK) – I hate myself for watching this shit. But it’s something braindead to stick on to pass the time with the family. Not being from the UK originally & having very little knowledge of the mainstream shit that people like or sports, I’ve not known some of the “celebrities” unmasked so far. Think they had far bigger stars for the US one??
– Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer – I’m about halfway through watching this. It’s certainly an intriguing story but I’m not sure why I’m watching it as I’m not at all into the “true crime” thing like so many people seem to be. I don’t want to know about these psychos. It makes me sick. That’s why I watch fictional stuff. But it’s certainly worth a watch if this kind of thing floats your boat. The guy is an absolute nutjob. The most interesting thing to me has been seeing how a group of people on the Internet were the ones trying to hunt this psycho down.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Nothing planned! And I actually have no way to watch the Oscars this year for the first time, um, ever? So I have no plans to do any Oscar posts besides posting my reviews for Parasite, Little Women, Jojo Rabbit & 1917 this week. Hell, maybe I’ll also reblog my reviews of the other nominees as I’ve watched & reviewed every Best Picture nominee this year other than The Irishman (It’s too long! I have no time!).
Upcoming February Movies Releases:
– Parasite – Saw this. Will post the full review this week.
– Underwater – Could be fun or it could be total shit? May wait for Netflix.
– Birds Of Prey – Meh. I never really enjoy the DC shit & I think this looks awful from the trailer. Maybe I’ll go to it if reviews are good.
– The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle – Ohh. Bad reviews!! Will wait for Netflix.
– Daniel Isn’t Real – Shitty horror? I watch way too much shitty horror. But this stars Mary Stuart Masterson! So I might check it out.
– Fantasy Island – More shitty horror! Again, I’ll probably watch it but will wait for Netflix if reviews are really bad.
– Emma – Meh. Another “wait for Netflix” film. How many Hollywood adaptations of the same stories do we really need??
– The Call Of The Wild – Grumpy old Harrison Ford & a dog? Sounds okay to me.
– Like A Boss – Meh. Shitty comedy can wait for Netflix too.
– Brahms: The Boy II – Not gonna lie: I really liked The Boy. It had a cheesy ’80’s horror feel to it. And I love creepy dolls! So I’ll watch the sequel at some point.
– Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – Wow, this has a high rating on IMDb. Looks a bit “worthy”, though. I’ve had enough of “worthy” films for a while.
– Color Out Of Space – I WANT TO SEE THIS SO BAD!!! 1. It’s directed by Richard Stanley, who directed a huge favorite film of mine (the criminally underrated Hardware). 2. It’s an H.P. Lovecraft story. 3. It stars Nicolas Cage doing yet another weird-ass looking film. If it’s half as strange as Mandy, I’ll be very happy. But I’m unlikely to be able to easily see it since non-mainstream movies are very hard to get hold of…
– Wendy – Know nothing whatsoever about this but the plot synopsis sounds okay.
As I mentioned Devo in the Watchmen TV show, here’s the song. Devo deserve more recognition.