Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2022

Hello! Things are really shit at the moment. But I’m still watching movies. Because that’s what I do when things are shit!

I’m a bit behind on posting this but here’s what I watched & read in July…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Stalag 17 – This was really good. I’m still working on an IMDb Top 250 Project based on the 250 films on the list when I started back in 2013. This is one of many classics from the 2013 list to have now disappeared to be replaced with more current movies and far too many superheroes. Frustrating! Things like this should still be in the list.

I knew nothing about this beforehand but I’d have watched it sooner if I’d known it was a bit like The Great Escape. It has a blend of humor along with the dramatic situation these POWs are in and I really liked the two characters providing comedic relief although the humor didn’t fully work at times. The Great Escape is still the superior film with a much more even tone but there was a lot to like about this one too. The characters are strong & William Holden is great as a prisoner who looks out only for himself. Oh, and I really liked the traumatised flute-playing prisoner who needs to be played by Sean Gunn if they ever remake this (which I hope they don’t).

Good stuff. Glad I chose to start the Top 250 Project when it had a better selection of films. – 8/10

Hustle – Why do I absolutely hate sports but pretty much always enjoy a feelgood sports movie? The real-life NBA stars were wasted on me as I didn’t know they were real players until the end credits but I still really liked this simple & admittedly predictable story. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve also always liked Sandler & enjoy him in these more serious roles as well as his comedies. He was great as the mentor & his relationship with his recruit, played by Juancho Hernangómez, worked really well. Oh – I also liked Queen Latifah as his wife. Maybe it’s just because I’ve watched so many movies with huge age differences recently (High Noon, Deep Water etc etc) but I’m sick of the wife being a good 20 years younger so hooray for these two being close in age. Felt like a real couple! – 7.5/10

Don’t Make Me Go – I really liked this but I can see some people not liking the turn it takes toward the end. John Cho & Mia Isaac were very good as the father & daughter on a final road trip together. I liked their relationship & cared what would happen to them. That’s three John Cho films I’ve really liked in the past few years (this, Searching, and especially Columbus which I highly recommend). Can’t believe the MILF guy is this great father & father figure in movies now. And he’s kind of a DILF now. – 7.5/10

Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes (ドロステのはてで僕ら) – Glad I checked this out (was on Film4 in the UK). Likeable characters & a fun sci-fi story about seeing two minutes into the future. I have no clue about the scientific accuracy of this film & felt a bit lost just like I did when watching Primer, although this movie is definitely more enjoyable than Primer. It also made me look up the Droste effect. So, hey, I learned something. Movies are educational. Also, not that I don’t like long movies but this movie is only 1 hour & 10 minutes. So check it out! You can squeeze it into your lunch hour. – 7.5/10

But I’m A Cheerleader – Enjoyed this. Not sure why I didn’t see it at the time. Especially liked the use of color & satirical humor. The characters were fun and Natasha Lyonne & Clea DuVall were great together. Would have loved even darker humor but maybe that’s just me as I love stuff like Heathers. But was happy to find this film still had that sort of vibe, which I wasn’t expecting. Good stuff. – 7/10

The Sea Beast – This was fine. Felt too long & had a very slow start but it did get better once the two main characters were alone with the sea beast. And I liked her little “sea pet” (I’m always a sucker for a cute droid or animal sidekick). One of the better straight-to-Netflix animated films with some lovely animation in a few scenes but still not up there with Pixar or Disney on that. Although, story-wise, I enjoyed this more than Luca & Turning Red so am starting to worry about Pixar. – 6.5/10

Incantation – I know that not everyone is a fan of found footage horror but I’d recommend this to those who are as I thought it was a good example of the genre. It’s not the most original idea ever & gives Blair Witch vibes at times but it has a solid story with a slightly unique (but obvious) twist, a cute kid, and some effective creepiness. Was actually glad I watched this in the middle of the day as I think I’d have had the heebie-jeebies watching this one late at night. – 6.5/10

Not OkayNot okay was just okay. I liked the sound of seeing superficial social media twats getting their comeuppance but having to watch a company full of them for a couple of hours was a bit exhausting. This could have been a smart satire with some great dark humor but it didn’t quite work & I’m not sure what point it was trying to make? Mia Isaac was good as a true survivor of tragedy (and the only likeable character). Liked her in that Don’t Make Me Go movie above, which I far preferred to this. Not Okay wasn’t horrible but could have been a lot better. Current stuff like this just make me miss movies like Heathers. – 6/10

Persuasion – First of all, I’m not a Jane Austen fan. I’ve never read anything of hers – how terrible am I?! What can I say? I like sci-fi & horror. So I didn’t have that to “ruin” this story as it was new to me. But I don’t really like Dakota Johnson & don’t understand the obsession with her. I’d say if you’re not precious about the original material being messed with & if you’re one of those who loves Johnson for whatever reason, you’d probably find this a perfectly enjoyable romcom. Johnson looking directly at the camera & saying stupid modern shit in this period drama was mildly irritating but I liked the story well enough to not be too bothered by that. A lot of the modern talk thrown in was a bit vomit-inducing but I feel the same way about the stuff they say in plenty of romcoms. And, man, her sisters were hateful. But Richard E. Grant was fun to watch as always & Henry Golding is adorable. Meh. This film is harmless & somewhat enjoyable but mostly just felt a bit pointless. – 6/10

The Last House On The Left (1972) – I have no clue how to rate or review this. A Nightmare On Elm Street is a big favorite of mine so I’d been meaning to check out Wes Craven’s debut despite hating “rape-exploitation” flicks.

This is pure ‘70’s trash. It’s cruel & the acting is dreadful. It also has weird slapstick comedy bits & smooth easy-listening music playing over scenes of graphic violence, which was bizarre. Well, I’ve seen it now so I guess I can tick it off my watchlist. I’ll give it an extra half a point for (finally) getting onto the revenge I was waiting for & half a point for being so ‘70s it hurts. God I love the look of films from that ugly decade. But I’d never watch this one again. – 5.5/10

See For Me – This wasn’t the greatest. Watched it as I think it was a 2022 U.K. release & I’m just desperate to log some current releases while missing out on going to the cinema.

I liked the simple concept, which is a home invasion while a blind girl is in the house catsitting. Been done before but in this case she has an app she can use, called See For Me, where you’re connected to someone who helps guide you via the camera on your phone. I really liked that idea & the girl who answered the call was good. But this is one of those films where they make the main character too unlikeable. Why do movies do that? Why would I root for someone I don’t like? Not the fault of the person playing the character, though (legally blind in real life from what I read, so did a very good job) – it’s just how this character was written so they could have done a better job with that. At least try to make me care a little bit about the main character!

Oh well. I do still like the idea & did enjoy the use of the app in the movie. The film was enjoyable enough to pass the time, I guess. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched In July:

Top Gun – Rewatched this just in case we got a chance to see Maverick (that’s not happened). I grew up in the ‘80s so I of course loved this film as a kid. Still enjoyed it just as much on a rewatch & still desperate to see what Maverick is up to now & if he’s still as cocky. And I still miss Goose. And I miss ‘80s action movie music. Go Kenny Loggins! Of course I had this soundtrack. Good ‘ol cassette tapes… – 8/10

Casablanca – I saw this as a kid & have been meaning to rewatch it for years as I couldn’t remember anything other than the quotable lines that everyone knows. Still great stuff & Ingrid Bergman was lovely. Loved Dooley Wilson as Sam, too. Not sure what all those gorgeous leading ladies saw in Humphrey Bogart in all his movies, though. – 8/10

Documentaries, Shorts, Etc:

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years – These are my people! Really enjoyed this documentary set during my early high school heavy metal years. Also always wanted to see this as I believe it’s what got Penelope Spheeris the job directing Wayne’s World, which I absolutely adore.

Must admit that I enjoyed this far more than the first The Decline Of Western Civilization, partly because I of course loved the music but I also thought the interviews were much better & it felt like more of a documentary than the first film. Some of the live performances they focused on weren’t the best but the interviews with the masters such as Alice Cooper & my beloved Ozzy Osbourne, calmly making breakfast & dumping orange juice all over the table, more than made up for the cheesier (and sexist) bands in the film. And at least they ended on Megadeth, which is the type of music I still like more than the glam side of things.

Good nostalgic fun. I want Ozzy to make me a heavy metal breakfast. – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Boys: S1 E3-4 – This is really good so far. Glad we decided to check this one out. A much more realistic take than Marvel on what superheroes would actually be like.

Only Murders In The Building: S2 E3-6 – Been a fun show to watch as a family. Still think it has great opening titles & music too.

Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E18-20 – This show is so bloody boring the past few years… But after 18 years I can’t stop watching it now!

TV Specials:

Paul McCartney at Glastonbury – Good stuff! Thought McCartney was great. Especially loved seeing Dave Grohl join him. And the John Lennon duet. Checked out a few other acts but honestly can’t remember who now.

TV Rewatched:

Stranger Things: S1 E1 – Tried to get my daughter into this show. It didn’t happen. Damn. Was hoping to catch up (I didn’t finish season 3) as season 4 actually sounds like it was pretty good? Had good music, at least!

BOOKS READ

Elsewhere by Dean Koontz – Love Dean Koontz even though his stories are all so similar. Some are better than others & this is one of those that I think I’ll have no memory of years from now. Likeable father & daughter, as to be expected of all Koontz main characters, but maybe I’m just kind of bored with multiverse stories after recent Marvel films, especially the Doctor Strange one that I thought was pretty rubbish. – 2.5/5

I’ll end this with a song from Don’t Make Me Go. Gotta love Iggy Pop! Here’s The Passenger:

My Top Ten Christmas Songs 

This list was a lot harder to put together than you’d think. I was torn between my American roots & the very different Christmas songs that I’ve grown to love (and hate a little!) in over a decade of living in the UK.

When growing up in America, I only really heard the very traditional Christmas songs and I do love all those (White Christmas, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc etc etc). Sometimes those songs would be sung by rock & pop stars (like The Jackson 5) or screamed annoyingly by Bruce Springsteen. Ugh. Stop screeching, Bruce! Then there’s that damn Mariah Carey song – All I Want For Christmas Is You….. to SHUT UP, Mariah! And Michael Bublé can kiss my ass.

I was totally unaware that the UK had all these original Christmas songs (from the Seventies & later) that are really damn good & a lot more fun to listen to than Jingle Bells. Those in the UK will probably roll their eyes at my list as these songs are massively massively overplayed each year but I suppose I haven’t had to suffer with them for as long. Therefore, I’ve decided to do a Top Ten of my favorite contemporary Christmas songs at this point in time. Yes, some of these are American but I think the majority are bigger in the UK.

Here’s what I’ve had to leave out so that this top ten didn’t have 100 songs on it:

Traditional Christmas Songs (unless sung by David Bowie) 😉

Songs From Favorite Christmas Movies/TV Specials. If I was including these, I’d have to say that my ONE true favorite Christmas song of all time is most definitely Linus & Lucy by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. But I’ve left these out to keep the list simple as I love far too many songs such as Linus & Lucy and songs from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer & How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

So let’s get this over with as I know some of you will already be sick of these songs by now. Here are My Top Ten (contemporary) Christmas Songs:

10. TIE: The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) & Run-D.M.C. – Christmas In Hollis

I had to include Christmas In Hollis because I’m an 80’s kid. As for The Darkness, I still respect the fact that they got a penis reference into a Christmas song. To those not in the UK, a “bell end” is an insult, meaning a “penis”. Or, more specifically, the tip. I guess. Because of the shape? I’ll stop there so I don’t attract all the pervy Googlers.


9. John & Yoko – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

War is over? Really?! Well, it’s a good song & I love all of The Beatles. This probably deserves to be above my next song, which is from another Beatle.

8. Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime

This song walks that fine line between “enjoyable” & “making you want to kill if you ever hear it again”. I still enjoy it, though. For now.

7. Mike Oldfield – In Dulci Jubilo

It’s no Tubular Bells but it’s still good. The power of Christ(mas) compels you!

6. TIE: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power Of Love & The Pretenders – 2000 Miles

The Power Of Love is an odd one as I didn’t even know it when I moved to the UK then was confused as to why a song with the lyrics “I’ll protect you from the hooded claw. Keep the vampires from your door.” was considered a Christmas song. It’s apparently just because of the below video for it, which is all about the birth of Christ. Huh. Very different from their video for Relax, which had men symbolically ejaculating all over the place. Oops – I’m definitely going to get the pervy Googlers now. As for 2000 Miles, it’s just a damn good song.


5. Chris De Burgh – A Spaceman Came Travelling

I promise that you will never EVER see the words “Chris De Burgh” on this blog again. But, screw it – I’ll admit that this is actually a really good song. As far as Jesus songs go. (The spaceman is Jesus, right?? Oh I love 70’s music & their obsession with space! Like the artist who’s next…)

4. David Bowie & Bing Crosby – Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy

DAVID BOWIE!!!!!!!!!! And, you know, Bing Crosby. Their cheesy banter at the beginning of this video is hilariously cringeworthy.

3. Jona Lewie – Stop The Cavalry

This is one I didn’t know before moving to the UK. I love it! It’s so catchy. If hearing this song doesn’t cheer you up at Christmastime, you’re a Scrooge.

2. Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas

Yeah, I just really love music from the Seventies… 😉 This song is awesome.

1. Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody

Yes! More cheesy 70’s glam rock goodness! I’m sure a lot of people in the UK HATE this song by now (unless they’re drunk off their tits at a Christmas party) but I have yet to get sick of it & doubt I ever will. I’d have loved hearing this growing up. It makes me want to get drunk at an office Christmas party & photocopy my ass. Okay, I’d never actually do that… But if I do, I hope Slade is playing!

Honorable Mentions:

Elton John – Step Into Christmas
Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Jethro Tull – Ring Out, Solstice Bells
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

Nowhere Boy (2009) Review

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Nowhere Boy (2009)

Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood (Sam Taylor-Johnson now)

Starring:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Anne-Marie Duff
Kristin Scott Thomas

(How many names do each of these people need??)

Running time: 99 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Nowhere Boy is a 2009 British biopic about John Lennon’s adolescence, his relationships with his guardian aunt and his mother, the creation of his first band, The Quarrymen, and its evolution into The Beatles. The film is based on a biography written by Lennon’s half-sister Julia Baird.

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My Opinion:

First of all – I love The Beatles. Well, not things like I Want To Hold Your Hand so much – more like Norwegian Wood & Dear Prudence. Actually, I did My Top Five Beatles Songs HERE (think they’ve changed a bit since).

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I like a lot of music but never know that much about the band members. Same goes for actors – I don’t like knowing TOO much of their real lives because I don’t want to have that affect how I may feel about their music or movies. I mean, Tom Cruise movies are ruined for me for life – no matter how serious the role, I just see him jumping around on a couch. Stay slightly mysterious, famous people! Like in the old days before Twitter & stuff – We don’t need to know what you’re doing every second of every day. And, FFS, don’t do a reality show!

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Um, where was I? Oh yeah – The Beatles! As much as I know & love their music, I know very little about their personal lives. I couldn’t tell you how accurate Nowhere Boy is but, wow – Lennon apparently had a pretty heartbreaking childhood. I knew none of that. I guess it goes to show that those with difficult lives really are often the most creative people. Why is that? People must have it too easy these days since most music sucks now.

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Maybe I should actually talk about the movie?? First of all, it was a little hard to buy into as Aaron Taylor-Johnson looks nothing whatsoever like John Lennon. His performance was fine but I just never really felt like I was watching a young John Lennon. Even more odd was Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Paul McCartney. Wait. What? That kid from Love Actually & Nanny McPhee?! Yeah, that one. Look at him:

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Huh? You’re Paul McCartney in this?

So it took me a while to get into this film but, maybe halfway through, I decided to just go with it and I ended up thinking it was a very interesting story and not too bad of a movie. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, although maybe hard to picture as John Lennon, was at least believable as a troubled & lonely boy who’d been abandoned by his irresponsible mother (Anne-Marie Duff) and raised by his stern aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas).

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Both women give very good performances and are what helped to sell the movie to me overall. But they’re also not famous people like Lennon – I suppose it’s very difficult to portray someone so well known to the world so I’ve maybe been a little harsh on Taylor-Johnson (I’m sick of typing Taylor-Johnson! I believe he wasn’t yet married to the director when making this so was just Johnson but he’s more famous now as Kick-Ass Taylor-Johnson so I better use the Taylor too). It’s a good insight into Lennon’s early life & what made him who he was. I don’t know if I’d recommend the film to everyone, though. It doesn’t focus on the music at all since it’s just showing us Lennon’s upbringing so don’t expect some music documentary – It won’t suddenly make you a fan of The Beatles music if you aren’t already. If you like a decent real life drama or are the slightest bit interested in knowing a little about Lennon’s early life, I’d recommend it. If you’re the world’s biggest Beatles expert, I have no idea if you’d love this or hate it because I don’t know how accurate it all is. (Sorry – What a wishy washy review! No one reads these things anyway, right?) 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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