Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2021

Happy February! Will try to stick to my resolution to at least post these monthly roundups (and hopefully on time) this year.

As January, the absolute dreariest & most depressing month of the year, was extra depressing this year thanks to the C word (not that C word) I watched way too many movies in an attempt to cheer up. So I’ll keep my comments on each brief.

MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):

When Marnie Was There – There are very few Studio Ghibli movies I’ve not yet seen (mainly just have the non-Miyazaki ones left to watch). Desperate to see them all but also hate the thought of running out of them! So finally decided to watch this one & absolutely loved it. It just makes it into my Top Ten (which I need to update now) and is easily a favorite of the non-Miyazaki films. What I really liked was the story – there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding Marnie & I loved finding out her history. It’s a lovely, bittersweet film and was a great one to watch with my daughter, who also really enjoyed it. – 8/10

It Happened One Night – Although I’ve slowed way down on my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge, I still try to watch a few Top 250 movies a year. This Frank Capra film was one I’d most been looking forward to watching & it didn’t disappoint. Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert were absolutely adorable together. I’m not exactly a girly girl & romance isn’t my favorite genre but I do seem to prefer the relationships in these older films. The couples had great chemistry in movies like these. Delightful movie! I should watch more pre-1970 films than I do. – 8/10

Black Narcissus (1947) – I thought this was some big classic but I don’t actually know anyone who has heard of it? Well, I think there’s some British TV adaptation right now that I have no interest in. I just know I’d seen images of the eerie looking building & bell high on a cliff lots in the past and have wanted to watch this movie for years based on the images alone. Well, that and the name Black Narcissus because it just sounds cool (named after a perfume if I remember correctly from the movie). Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb for those unfamiliar with this British classic: “A group of nuns struggle to establish a convent in the Himalayas, while isolation, extreme weather, altitude, and culture clashes all conspire to drive the well-intentioned missionaries mad.

I enjoyed this one. It’s a beautiful looking film (as I was hoping from the images) and Deborah Kerr as Sister Clodagh is fascinating as the very stern nun in charge. There’s slowly building tension throughout, leading to an intense finale I’m happy had never been spoiled for me. There’s also a bit of sexual tension with a handsome Englishman. Sexual tension in old movies is the best! It’s why I love Brief Encounter. Am very glad I finally got the chance to watch this one while it was on BBC iPlayer (sorry, think it’s gone now). – 8/10

**Decided to up the rating to 8…

The Secret Of Kells – Having recently watched Tomm Moore’s gorgeous Wolfwalkers and having seen the equally beautiful Song Of The Sea a few years ago, I figured I’d finally check out his earliest animated film. For some reason, this one had appealed to me the least but I think I actually liked it the most. The animation style was of course fantastic (I’d happily put images from these films up on a wall) but I think I enjoyed the story in this one the most. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.

If you’ve seen the others, I’d highly recommend this one as well. If you’ve seen none of these & like beautiful animation, fun characters & good folklore storytelling, these are all well worth your time. I saw this on iPlayer as well & think it’s still available. Here’s a second image from the film since there are so many great ones to choose from… – 7.5/10

Bringing Up Baby – Another movie I was happy to catch on iPlayer (it’s still available) and another one I was happy to cross off my IMDb Top 250 list. Sadly this is one that has disappeared from the Top 250 since that 2013 list I’m still working from. This was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It’s one of those romantic “screwball comedies” from that era. I confess I don’t have much experience with this subgenre. I enjoyed this movie but not nearly as much as It Happened One Night. Grant & Hepburn are very cute together. Hepburn is truly the star of the film as the flighty & clumsy heiress with a leopard named Baby. It’s a sweet film & perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. – 7/10

The Dig – This was fine. Not gonna lie – it’s not at all my type of thing but I’m absolutely desperate for current movie releases. Really missing my monthly cinema membership & seeing new releases regularly! I like Carey Mulligan, although her acting in these types of dramas is always a bit same-y, and I liked all of the characters in this (especially the Ralph Fiennes character). Speaking of cinema trips, you know what character I absolutely despised years ago?! That guy in those annoying Cineworld Unlimited adverts! Man, I still can’t believe he’s in actual movies now. I mean, he’s fine in this but he’ll forever be that jerk from those adverts to me (sorry, Johnny Flynn). Where was I? Oh yeah. This movie… The acting is fine, the true story is interesting if you like archaeology I guess, but it’s quite slow and character-driven so won’t be for everyone. I’m being generous with my rating as it’s a good enough movie but I’d never watch it again. – 6.5/10

Pieces Of A Woman – Again, this isn’t really my type of movie. If I were being honest, I’d stick my next movie above this & The Dig but it’s not nearly as “good” as these two. This one is all about the acting & Vanessa Kirby does put in a good performance. I actually preferred her performance as Margaret in The Crown, though. She’s good in this but I also didn’t feel the performance lived up to the hype. Am I allowed to say that?! I also felt that way about the thoroughly overrated (and throughly boring) Marriage Story. Are people just less picky with Netflix movies or something? Or am I just too picky? Anyway, I did feel for these characters & their terrible tragedy, although they were all very hard people to like. But everyone deals with grief differently & I can understand Kirby’s character becoming so emotionally detached. Not an easy movie to watch and certainly not one I’d watch again. Man, Ellen Burstyn knows how to pick the “I never want to watch this again” movies! Imagine this as a double bill with Requiem For A Dream… Or Surviving!! Ha! Bet none of you youngsters have seen THAT one! (I actually watched that thoroughly depressing TV movie multiple times, though. Loved it. Zach Galligan! Molly Ringwald! River Phoenix! I’m so Gen X). – 6.5/10

Escape Room – I enjoyed this, even though it was a bit f*^king ridiculous. Especially the very end, but most horror movies like these have stupid endings. I don’t know what to say about this… It’s the usual sort of shit but at least it has a fun idea & the different escape rooms the characters find themselves in are entertaining. When it comes to horror, I lower my expectations a lot as most modern horror sucks. I prefer the classics from the ’70s & ’80s. There have been some good ones in recent years, though (The Babadook, It Follows, and especially the delightfully bonkers Mandy which is very much my type of thing). But the good ones are rare so I’m happy to watch these lightweight & utterly predictable ones to pass the time in between the good ones. This was a bit like the recent Countdown and both have a Final Destination vibe (though not as good as that one, of course). Meh. I liked this. The characters were decent & the story was entertaining. I expect nothing more from this sort of thing. – 6/10

Tangerine – Not sure how to go about reviewing this one. I can’t relate to the lives of these characters in any way whatsoever but I enjoyed watching this “day in the life” film (I like those) & really liked the main characters played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez & Mya Taylor. This is from Sean Baker, the same one who did The Florida Project. I quite liked The Florida Project but am still not sure why. Tangerine is very similar. I think I liked it? But I’m not sure why? If you like one, you’ll like the other (and if you hate one, you’ll hate the other). What an in-depth review! You’re welcome. Watch Tangerine if you like a good puke scene! (That was a lot of puke. Gross.) – 6.5/10

Sputnik – I was excited about this. Foreign sci-fi!! A Russian Alien!! Sadly, I was disappointed. I think it had a good idea (even though, yes, it’s very similar to Alien), the alien dude thing looked good, and the acting was decent. There’s even a mini twist at the very end. But… I dunno. It just didn’t quite work. I can’t explain why, though, as this is totally my type of thing. Maybe my expectations were just too high as one of my favorites last year was a foreign dystopian sci-fi film (The Platform). – 6/10

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – This was pretty crap. I think my daughter just really likes to watch movies starring The Rock (me too). You never know what you’re gonna get with these family films, though. Many are rubbish. But then you get one where they actually put some effort in & every age group is actually able to enjoy it. I’m thinking of a recent reboot with The Rock: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle & The Next Level were loads of fun! Suppose we were hoping for something similar to those but this one was mostly just silly & had dodgy special effects. The tiny elephants were cute, though. I want one! Oh, we also read that you didn’t really need to see the first film first (2008’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth) but I’m thinking it would’ve helped. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched (lots of rewatches during lockdown! I don’t normally rewatch movies often – I’ll be even more brief):

The Jungle Book (1967) – Classic! Love this one & it’s always been one of my favorites for Disney songs. – 8.5/10

Despicable Me – I’m a Disney/Pixar/Studio Ghibli girl but I absolutely adore this Illumination film. The relationship between the adorably cheeky girls & hilariously grumpy Gru really makes these films work. AND a brilliant score from Pharrell Williams. AND, of course, the Minions. AND fluffy unicorns. “It’s so fluffy!” – 8.5/10

WarGames – Hadn’t seen this in years. It has aged better than I was expecting (except for the actual technology, obviously). But it’s still a thoroughly entertaining story and I’ll forever love the ’80s films I grew up on. – 7.5/10

Howl’s Moving Castle(Original review HERE). As I said above, I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli & especially love the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Howl’s is as visually stunning & weird as all the rest but it’s never been an absolute favorite of mine as the story is just a bit too messy. I do love Ghibli weirdness but it just works better in Spirited Away for me. I’m still not sure what the heck is actually going on in Howl’s but do love the look & its characters (as with every Miyazaki movie). And Howl is hot with his Bowie-ness. – 7.5/10

Police Academy – I’ll always love the ’80s & its inappropriate humor. This one was even more inappropriate than I remembered! Ha! Filth. Good thing it’s not on the Disney channel – they’d have to slap a huge disclaimer on it since, you know, humans can’t be trusted to judge these things for themselves & must have history censored for them. – 7/10

National Lampoon’s Vacation – Surprisingly, I also hadn’t seen this John Hughes-written film in years either & was surprised to enjoy Police Academy slightly more. Not quite as good as I remembered but I still enjoyed it. Am just so used to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation now, which is far superior. – 7/10

Idiocracy – Again, a film that wasn’t as good as I remembered. I think with this one, I just loved (and still absolutely love) the concept. It’s scarily accurate. Especially after the last four years… We really are turning into a bunch of f*!king morons. The movie becomes more accurate with every year that goes by & for that I think this Mike Judge story is brilliant even if the execution could’ve been better. – 6.5/10

The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants – I really like this movie, even if it’s a little cheesy & “teenager”. Actually, my rating is a bit low as I probably don’t want to admit that I really like these characters & their stories. I like that we get four stories in one here (I always like movies like that – four for the price of one!). Some are better than others. I’ll rank them! The best story is definitely the Amber Tamblyn one where the cheeky young girl befriends her (that girl is the best character in the whole movie). Next is America Ferrera’s divorced family drama as I felt really bad for her (her dad & his new family were assholes & she was far too forgiving!). Next was the predictable Alexis Bledel Greece romance but Greece itself was gorgeous. Last was definitely the boring soccer romance drama (sorry, Blake Lively). Anyway, I like this movie more than I probably should & think my daughter really enjoyed it too. Much better than that Journey 2 crap! – 6.5/10

The Shallows(Original review HERE). Not sure why but I really like this Blake Lively shark attack story (more than her boring soccer romance drama – maybe this should’ve been her Sisterhood story!). It has a predictable backstory setup but, hey, the pretty blonde needs a reason to want to survive. Maybe I just like shark attack movies. I do enjoy most any kind of disaster movie… – 6.5/10

Shorts:

Pixar Popcorn – Of course we watched all of these super short Pixar shorts. For the most part, they’re not nearly as good as the longer ones we get before films (of course), but there are a few really fun ones here. Surprisingly, I liked the Ducky & Bunny ones the most (they weren’t favorite characters of mine from Toy Story 4). But the one where they argue over who is more lovable is hilarious. Here, I’ll rank them since I’m a pathetic, ranking fool!! (from best to “worst” but of course all are good):

1. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love
2. Dory Finding
3. Cookie Num Num
4. Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads
5. Chore Day – The Incredibles Way
6. Soul of the City
7. To Fitness and Beyond
8. Dancing with the Cars
9. A Day in the Life of the Dead
10. Unparalleled Parking

Modest Heroes (Kanini & Kanino, Life Ain’t Gonna Lose & Invisible) – Watched this collection on Netflix of three shorts from Studio Ponoc, who made the delightful Mary And The Witch’s Flower (from people previously with Studio Ghibli). These were fine but a little underwhelming. The final one, about a lonely guy no one can see, is the best. It’s still worth checking out these shorts if you like anime.

Canvas – This was a lovely short on Netflix as well about a man who loses his passion for painting after his wife dies. Not as powerful as If Anything Happens I Love You but still good.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY

BOOKS READ

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz – Am a big Dean Koontz fan (did a Top Ten list HERE). Honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read this one years ago but think I only saw the 1977 Julie Christie movie based on it. What was disappointing was that I didn’t realise the version I have is actually one that Koontz later re-wrote to update the technology in it & I assume references to specific actresses. I’m old – I can handle reading about out-dated technology. I’M out-dated technology! Anyway, this book is interesting as I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of machines taking over. (They will, you know!!). But it’s also creepy & very rape-y so not one I’d recommend easily to absolutely anyone. There’s a real “woman hating” thing going on here, but I think part of the point of the book is the dreaded “toxic masculinity”. I do wonder if that was as much a part of the original book or if Koontz put more of that in to fit more with the topics of today. – 3/5

Currently Reading Moon by James Herbert as I enjoyed that freaky deaky The Rats book.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai: Season 3 – I’ve gone on about how much I adore Cobra Kai in previous posts so I won’t do that again. I’ll just say that I still love it. As expected, many shows go downhill and that’s the case with seasons 2 & 3 of Cobra Kai too but, luckily, I’d say they’re only going slightly downhill. This isn’t Stranger Things, where I couldn’t even finish Season 3. I still loved every moment of Cobra Kai Season 3 & the writing is still sharp and the characters are still strong. But, at this point, they’ve now covered most everything they can from the films and the teens have all fought each other in every way possible so I don’t see where they can easily go from here. But I’ll keep watching because I love these characters (especially Johnny – still can’t believe they turned that asshole around!).

The Crown: Season 2 & 2 episodes of Season 3: Oh man, I’m really not feeling the new cast in Season 3. Give me Claire Foy back! I hope these get better again, because I thought the first two seasons were great even though I only started watching this to get to the Diana years in Season 4…

WandaVision: Season 1 – Episodes 1-4 – I’m not a huge Marvel fan, although I’ve watched all the MCU movies and do like the characters. Am not sure what to think of this show but do love how original it feels. Being an ’80s latchkey kid who grew up watching loads of reruns of shows from the ’50s through to the late ’80s, I’ll always be fond of those shows and like that WandaVision is paying tribute to them (although the fake WandaVision shows aren’t as good as the original classic shows they’re spoofing). After episode four, I’m glad the story seems to be going in the direction I was expecting & I’m looking forward to watching the story fully unfold. But I’m hoping we get back to sitcoms next week as I want to see which ’80s one they do!

History Of Swear Words – This was fine. A fun throwaway show with lots of swearing. I love swearing, dammit. They covered a different word in each episode. Damn was one – how mild is THAT?! That’s not a swear word. Damn. Nicolas Cage was the perfect host for this. Although Samuel L. Jackson would have been better… Whoa – I have to update my Nicolas Cage Top Ten list!! Mandy would be number one now.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans besides posting these monthly updates. But I’ve been contemplating doing Top Ten lists again as I always enjoyed those…

What I’m really enjoying is trying to make the time to read movie blogs again. I miss the old days (I’ve been here 8 years) but there are some great new blogs. Have been feeling out of touch on movie releases where release dates are a nightmare thanks to the C word & I’ve not had time to read blogs to keep informed. And an old favorite blogger is back! Yay!! I mean old as in was here when I started… (I’d link him but not sure if he’s keeping a low profile). 🙂

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

No clue. Are any movies coming out?! As I said, I’m very out of touch. I still need to catch up on 2020 films that haven’t been on U.K. streaming services yet…

As I end these posts with a music clip, I’ll go with a favorite from The Jungle Book as I mentioned loving the songs in that.

My Top Ten 2020 Movie Releases

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:

34-31

34. Work It – 5/10
33. The Princess Switch: Switched Again – 5/10
32. Noelle – 5/10
31. Birds Of Prey – 5/10

30-21:

30. Brahms: The Boy II – 5/10
29. My Spy – 5.5/10
28. Extraction – 5.5/10
27. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – 6.5/10
26. Enola Holmes – 6/10
25. Hubie Halloween – 6/10
24. Hillbilly Elegy – 6.5/10
23. All The Bright Places – 6.5/10
22. Mulan – 6.5/10
21. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – 6.5/10

20-11:

20. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – 7/10
19. The Call Of The Wild – 7/10
18. 1917 – 7/10
17. Babyteeth – 7/10
16. The Trial Of The Chicago 7 – 7/10
15. Dark Waters – 7/10
14. The Midnight Sky – 7/10
13. Onward – 7/10
12. Wolfwalkers – 7/10
11. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – 7/10

Top Ten:

10. The Vast Of Night – 7/10

9. Color Out Of Space – 7/10

8. Soul – 7/10

7. A Whisker Away – 7/10

6. The Gentlemen – 7/10

5. Weathering With You – 7/10

4. Jojo Rabbit – 7/10

3. Bill & Ted Face The Music – 7/10

2. The Platform – 7.5/10

1. Parasite – 7.5/10

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

All My 2020 Top Ten Lists:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2020

My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2020

My Top Ten Older Release Movies Watched In 2020

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2020

Happy New Year! 2020 is finally over! 🙂

I’m going to finish out the year by posting my monthly roundup of what I watched & read in December. I’ll then try to post some 2020 Top Ten Lists the rest of this week, although that’s been weird to put together this time & to try to figure out which movies were actually released in 2020 in the U.K. (a lot in my list were 2019 in the U.S.). It’s also been a terrible year for movies – I think it’s the first time there were no movies I rated above 7.5/10 all year. Very disappointing, even including the older films I chose to watch. I’ll miss doing the Blind Spot project, as that always meant I saw at least a few excellent films each year.

But first, here’s my month of December 2020…

*Edited to add two things I forgot I watched. How could I forget Wolfwalkers?! That was pretty good.

MOVIES WATCHED IN DECEMBER (ranked best to worst):

Calamity Jane – Caught this on TV & thoroughly enjoyed it. Was surprised it’s now one of my favorites this year. Hubby thought it was crazy I’d never seen it but I’d barely even heard of it. I sometimes wonder if certain films ended up slightly more popular in the U.K. than in the U.S.? Like, maybe they were shown on TV a lot more when people were growing up here. Anyway – I think it’s also my first Doris Day movie too (not counting that Hitchcock movie since I’ve of course watched his biggest films). Day is great in this! I liked the character a lot. She’s feisty & funny. And it’s proof there were strong female lead roles, even back in 1953. The only slight negative I’d say is that none of the songs stuck with me (I can’t remember any of them at the moment). Wasn’t sure whether to rank this above or below Meet Me In St. Louis (also a first-time watch this year). I’d probably put it just below it, as I remember two songs very well from that one & The Trolley Song is a classic plus I really like Judy Garland. However, I have to say I enjoyed the overall story & especially the main character in Calamity Jane more plus it had some great humor. A truly fun musical. – 7.5/10

Soul – Trying to figure out how to review this one. I think I’m tougher on Pixar movies as I hold them to a higher standard. They’ve made movies I consider all-time classics up there with any of the non-animated films considered by many to be masterpieces. So, even when I’m disappointed with a Pixar movie, it’s still usually a much better film than movies made by other animation studios. Soul is like that. As a Pixar movie, I’m a little disappointed. But it’s still a gorgeous piece of animation & still far better than the type of stuff we get from the likes of DreamWorks.

I think, mainly, I felt let down by the ending. It didn’t fully tie things up the way I expect from a Pixar film. It didn’t feel like the fully rounded sort of story we always get from the studio. What becomes of both of them? Has he really learned his lesson? Too many things still felt unresolved at the end (and one specific thing was hinted at early in the film & nothing comes of it in the end so what was the point?). I don’t know. I always hate being so picky with Pixar but that’s just because they have several truly brilliant films. And as a music lover, I think I was hoping to enjoy and feel more of a love for music in Soul as well. But in the end, it’s not really about music at all (sorry – spoiler sort of). And then the actual score was something I sadly didn’t even notice. When I think of Inside Out, I immediately think of that amazing Michael Giacchino score. That’s one of the finest scores of the past 20 years. It’s gorgeous. Same with the scores for WALL-E & Finding Nemo. Pixar have had many great scores so, for a movie whose main character is obsessed with music, I was hoping for more from the score.

Well, Soul is still a lovely film even if it didn’t live up to Pixar’s very best for me. I think it didn’t help that, unfortunately, our two main characters are… Unlikeable? Yeah, a bit. Which is fine for a story where the whole point is to become a better person. Hell, that’s the moral of the story in most every movie that gets made, isn’t it?? But, in this case, we didn’t get enough of a pay off at the end to make up for that. I honestly thought, at the very least, there’d be an end credits scene which would show us more of the end result. I think just one additional short scene like that would have really added to the story & I’d be rating it more highly instead of feeling unsatisfied. The barbershop scene was good – It would’ve been good to see more of his life as the “living people” bits were better than the little blue “soul people” bits. I didn’t feel like I got to know his character. And I think the story just ended up too convoluted to really get its point across to the audience. Inside Out also dealt with very complex themes but in a much more coherent way with a satisfying ending. – 7/10

Wolfwalkers – This was a really lovely film. I love the artwork. I felt the same way about Tomm Moore’s Song Of The Sea. Gorgeous. (I’ve not seen The Secret Of Kells). But, for whatever reason, I didn’t love either of these movies although they’re both very good. I slightly preferred Song Of The Sea, which was quite bittersweet. Both movies had good stories that I just didn’t fully connect with despite the girls in Wolfwalkers being good characters and the wolfwalker girl especially being feisty & fun. I think the movies themselves just don’t quite live up to the great visuals. But I’d happily stick images from these movies up on a wall. They feel almost more like pieces of art than films. – 7/10

The Midnight Sky – Sci-fi is a favorite genre of mine so I rarely dislike movies like this. I liked this one but would have to say it’s not for everyone. It has an extremely slow pace, so I can see those who aren’t big sci-fi fans not necessarily having the patience for this one. Loving ’70s sci-fi, I’m fine with loooong & drawn-out sci-fi films as so many old ones are like that. To be honest, I don’t think The Midnight Sky is “good enough” to have had a cinema release (don’t know if that was the plan?) but as a “straight to Netflix” film it’s fine. It’s a good sci-fi film with a predictable but decent twist. I liked it. – 7/10

The Trial Of The Chicago 7 – I’m not really a fan of courtroom dramas & this one started out VERY slow. I also have zero knowledge when it comes to history so knew nothing about this story. What didn’t help was that the first half of the movie doesn’t tell you what the hell actually happened. It’s not until about halfway through that they show you the actual incident that took place to lead to the trial. Then it got good – the second half of this was far better than the start. I thought Sacha Baron Cohen was especially good as Abbie Hoffman but all the acting was pretty top-notch. And, hey – the real-life guy played by Eddie Redmayne ended up marrying Jane Fonda (thanks, Wikipedia). I think this is just a very interesting real-life story that we didn’t get to actually see as the focus was on the trial. I’d rather have seen this story play out from the start with the trial at the end of the movie. And each of the 7 characters (well, 8 – one was falsely accused) are worthy of their own separate movies focusing on them. I’d rather watch those movies if they got made. – 7/10

Babyteeth – This was good and is the type of thing I often like so was hoping to like it more than I did. It’s about a teenage schoolgirl with cancer who falls in love with an early twenty-something drug dealer. All performances in this were good, especially from our two main characters above & the girl’s parents. It’s an odd film. I think I couldn’t really relate to it as everyone’s behavior was so bizarre. Especially the drug dealer (as to be expected, I suppose). But I really didn’t understand his behavior at the end of the movie & why he reacted the way he did (avoiding spoilers, obviously). Well, it’s a decent film with very good performances and a bit of the quirky indie thing I like. I did still appreciate the movie even if I couldn’t relate to the characters. – 7/10

Santa Claus: The Movie – I still can’t believe there’s an ’80s movie, especially a Christmas one that will have been shown many Decembers of my life, that I never saw. I liked this. Yeah, it’s a bit cheesy & a little dated but I think it still stands up today. I know I’d appreciate it more if I’d actually grown up with it but I’d happily watch it again some other Christmas. Oh, and Burgess Meredith has a small but cool role in this too. Love him. – 7/10

Hillbilly Elegy – This Ron Howard movie was fine. I’m wondering if these Netflix movies were meant to actually be 2020 cinema releases? Because this is another one that doesn’t feel good enough for cinemas despite its big name stars. It’s a decent enough story with good acting but feels like a TV movie (not that there’s anything wrong with TV movies). It’s just a very straightforward “person makes it despite bad childhood” storyline. I love Amy Adams and she was good as always as the drug addict mother but the performance felt a bit phoned in. Glenn Close was also good as her mother but I thought Haley Bennett especially stood out in her role as daughter of Adams. Gabriel Basso (had to look him up) was also good as the son & main character. Good. Yeah. The movie is just… kind of good. But nothing we haven’t seen before. – 6.5/10

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Was disappointed with this but think that was mainly because I didn’t know beforehand that it’s a play & that the movie would very much be like a play & mainly in only one setting as they record an album. The play format occasionally works in movies but is not usually my type of thing. I think it depends on the characters. Unfortunately, I don’t think most of them get as much development as I’d have liked. Besides Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and Levee (lovely Chadwick Boseman – R.I.P.) who get plenty of screen time but I didn’t feel we really even learned enough about Ma Rainey. But both were very good in their roles, especially Boseman. He seemed like a lovely guy & had such a great presence in films – he will be very sadly missed. Was not happy with how his character ended up in this movie, however. Wasn’t expecting that. Why?!?! Again – average movie but good performances. – 6.5/10

Wild Child – Hey, I gotta watch these teen chick flicks with the kid sometimes. Even as an old lady, I still enjoy teen movies. What can I say? I grew up in the John Hughes era! Not that this is anywhere near as good as a John Hughes movie. It’s silly & predictable in every way but it’s also more fun than I was expecting. There are several different fun characters in the group of girls at the snobby English school the bitchy California rich girl (Emma Roberts) gets shipped off to. Does she learn to not be such a bitch by the end?! Duh! Of COURSE. Who cares? That’s the point of these movies. I want predictable with something like this. Happily ever after & all that shit. There’s even a fun makeover/clothes shopping bit. That was fun. I can be girly sometimes! And I swear I’ve visited wherever they did that clothes shopping – that English street looked very familiar. – 6/10

The Princess Switch: Switched Again – Ugh. Not good. The first film was fine. Throwaway Hallmark-type of feelgood movie. This one was too silly with a ridiculous “villain” thrown in. I guess it’s worth a watch if you really loved the first movie but lower your expectations for this one. – 5/10

A Chinese Ghost Story – I can’t fairly review this 1987 Hong Kong film as I ended up not fully paying attention to it. I was bored. Think I saw someone mention it on Twitter & decided to watch it as it sounded fun & had a good IMDb rating. It’s… Strange. I didn’t like it but it’s weird enough that I guess I can see why it would have some fans (think it has a cult following). Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb: “After a string of bad luck, a debt collector has no other choice than to spend the night in a haunted temple, where he encounters a ravishing female ghost and later battles to save her soul from the control of a wicked tree demon.” – 5.5/10

Shorts, etc:

If Anything Happens I Love You – My god, this was absolutely soul destroying! I hated it, in a way. It’s very good but also way too emotional. It’s a topic I can’t stand the thought of and one very big reason I’m glad to not live in America at the moment. Would like to think someone with the right connections would watch this animated short on Netflix & be moved to make some sort of difference to the laws in America. But let’s be honest – that will never happen. Hard to know what to rate this as it’s good & very moving but I never ever ever want to see it again. Only one small complaint I hate to bring up but the song in it threw me out of it a bit. Bad song. Would’ve been even more emotional if it had just stayed as an instrumental score (although I don’t think I could’ve handled it being even more emotional). – 7/10

Death To 2020 – This was fine but a little underwhelming. I did get a few giggles out of it but think I’ll have forgotten most of it in a few months. They did seem to tread very lightly (I suppose you have to be super careful to offend no one these days). I was happy to find that they made fun of both sides politically (a bit), as I expected this to be very far left. Meh. It was okay but it took no risks. Come on – we’re all used to South Park now! But I always love Samuel L. Jackson so he was fun & Hugh Grant seems to have become surprisingly funny with this & in The Gentlemen. – 6/10

Rewatched:

Whip It – I adore Drew Barrymore & I love this movie she directed about a bunch of badass roller derby girls. I desperately wanted to be an old badass roller derby girl like Juliette Lewis after watching this movie but I’m too much of a wuss. Anyway, I rewatched this with the kid & she loved it too. This is more my kind of chick flick. I want badass chicks in my chick flicks! Still love this movie. – 8/10

Scrooged – I ranked this as my number one Christmas movie once (HERE). It maybe still is but I change my mind on my top five a lot. Well, I’ll always love the Christmas Carol story & love that there are so many clever adaptations of it. This one will always be my favorite modern adaptation. – 8/10

Miracle On 34th Street (1947) – Finally got my kid to watch another Christmas favorite of mine with me this year! I think she enjoyed it. When Santa sings in another language for that girl is one of my absolute favorite Christmas movie moments. Love it. He’s my favorite movie Santa & Natalie Wood is so good as the girl doubting him. Will always be a favorite of mine. – 7.5/10

Crocodile Dundee – Ha! Introduced the kid to this silly classic ’80s movie too. I’d actually not seen it in years myself so was expecting it to have not aged well. Surprisingly, I think it has aged quite well. Kid liked it more than I expected. For a movie I can’t exactly say is “good“, I think there’s just something really likeable about it. Probably why it has managed to be fairly popular for so many years. – 7/10

Deadpool – Rewatched this. I’m starting to question my memory as I had this all mixed up in my mind with Deadpool 2. Enjoyed this again but am thinking the sequel really upped the humor? Need to rewatch that one too. Still love the foul-mouthed naughty humor. More fun than most the superhero movies, which were getting a bit boring… – 7/10

The Holiday – This isn’t a favorite of mine, although a lot of girls seem to love it. It’s not really for me but I do love Jack Black. The movie is fine. Predictable & cheesy but a nice enough rom-com. I personally relate most to Jack Black’s movie score loving character & liked his job as composer (is it weird I often relate to dudes more in movies?!? Lol). Honestly, though – I couldn’t be less like Cameron Diaz’s character. Mainly I was just like “How much f*^king money do these people MAKE?!” when watching this. Their beautiful homes had to cost absolute fortunes. The movie is okay but, my god, I can’t relate to all that privilege. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds – Watched this musical performance & really liked it. Already knew & liked a couple of the songs. They’re obviously the best songs but I’d happily listen to this full album again. I sooooo miss the ’70s and the big concept albums! Why do we never get cool stuff like that anymore??

BOOKS READ

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – Took a little while to get into this one but then I really liked it. The main character sold it to me. She’s damaged & extremely socially awkward & so likeable in her own strange way by the end. She reminded me a bit of Holly Gibney, a character Stephen King created in Mr. Mercedes and has used in a few books since. I like her in the same way. I think maybe I just relate to socially awkward people. Hooray for the socially awkward! My kind of people. This book is funny at times but also heartbreaking & serious. It’s not a “lightweight” book, which I was thinking it might be. It’s a good book with good characters. I liked it. – 3.5/5

Looking For Alaska by John Green – This is the third John Green book I’ve read now since The Fault In Our Stars & I have to say this and the other one (Paper Towns) were very disappointing after TFIOS. It’s better than Paper Towns but, like that one, the main male character is in love with a somewhat unlikeable Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The girl in this is luckily not as utterly hateful as the one in Paper Towns and I liked the overall story & other characters okay. But that’s two in a row where Green has written an annoying girl who is the exact definition of Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Please tell me I just got unlucky reading these two in a row? Because I’d read another book of his if more like The Fault In Our Stars. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The MandalorianSeason 2 – My god. THAT FINAL EPISODE. I loved it so much. Soooo much! That episode made me far happier than any movie has in the past several years. It certainly filled me with more joy than any of the sequel trilogy films. Look how easy it was to please Star Wars fans! How did the sequel trilogy movies get things so wrong?? I have to say I also loved watching the many reaction videos online of people watching that final episode for the first time. So much pure joy (and lots of tears too). Love it. I felt the same way. I won’t “review” The Mandalorian as I don’t really review TV anyway but I think the entire thing has been absolutely brilliant from start to finish. And, like most people, I’m utterly & completely in love with that adorable little green puppet. Greatest character creation in years. Greatest Star Wars character since the original trilogy characters. He’s perfection. And his cuteness will never be topped. Maximum cuteness has now been achieved! Love him. Love this show. Love that some of us had something to help get us through this shitty year. Yes, it’s just a TV show but seeing those reaction videos shows you just how much it helped to lift peoples’ spirits. That’s brilliant filmmaking (TV-making??). I don’t rate TV but, if I did, my overall score would be 9.5/10 for this show so far. It’s THAT good.

The Crown – Season 2 – Not quite as good as season one but I’m still really enjoying this show despite this not normally being my type of thing. It’s very good. Talked a tiny bit more about it HERE.


God I love that cute little face

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I only plan to post my 2020 Top Ten lists & then take a blog break. But I’ll try to do these monthly roundup posts.

Movies I Want To See:

Am very annoyed to have missed so many 2020 UK releases that I really wanted to see. So none of these will be included in my 2020 Top Ten Lists (if they’d make the ten). But these are the movies I still want to see the most of what I missed:

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

Any other movies that I missed? Any recommendations from the above lists?

Am very out of touch with movie releases lately! Also find it very hard to keep track of where each of these can be seen thanks to so many streaming services & the U.K. not having access to many of them. I can’t afford multiple services. Do really hate the way things are going when it comes to accessing movies but I suppose that was going to change with the times eventually anyway. But I’m finding it harder & harder to watch the slightly weird & less mainstream stuff I like. It’s kind of destroying my love of film, making it hard to find the energy to run a blog to discuss nothing but a bunch of very “Meh” straight-to-Netflix movies.

Okay, I’ll quit whining about movies. There are far bigger problems in the world now! I just like having the distraction & it’s always been my main hobby but it’s very hard to enjoy anything at the moment with everything going to shit for everyone (except the rich). I hope everyone is staying safe & well in these crazy times. Here’s to a happier 2021. 🙂

Gotta end with a spoiler-free clip of this little guy. So many favorite moments to choose from! Here’s a favorite bit from Season 2. 🥰

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2020

Hi All. Here’s another roundup post with everything I watched in May. Looks like it was X-Men Month in our household…

MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – I was surprised when this movie turned up in the IMDb Top 250 (a bit later, after starting my project HERE). So I figured I’d check it out as a part of the project that I’m never ever going to finish. This is a lovely, heartwarming & very understated film. It’s inspired by a great true story about a very loyal dog in 1920’s Japan. I’d love to now see the original Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari from 1987. I unfortunately found out a bit too much about the story beforehand so I won’t spoil it if you don’t know it. I think this is one where you’re better going into it without knowing the story beforehand. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love this film. – 7.5/10

Fruitvale Station – I watched this at the beginning of May & it of course became even more relevant later on. This is also, unfortunately, a true story. From Wikipedia: “Fruitvale Station is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland.” This was Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut and starred Michael B. Jordan, who of course went on to also be in Coogler’s Black Panther. Jordan was great in this & I always like this sort of approach to telling a story, especially a true one (showing a simple day-in-the-life of the person). The movie follows Grant on his final day, leading up to the fatal shooting. It obviously gets tense as it leads up to what you know is going to happen so it’s of course not an easy watch (which is why I admittedly don’t watch true stories often – I want movies to provide escapism from how shitty the world can be). But it’s a good & important film. – 7.5/10

The Wraith – I’m always a little shocked when I discover the existence of an ’80s movie that I somehow never saw. This 1986 film showed up on Amazon Prime UK so I had to give it a watch (even though it stars Charlie Sheen. Ew.). But I loved the sound of it from the plot. From Wikipedia: “The Wraith tells the story of an Arizona teen who mysteriously returns from the dead as a supernatural street-racer driving an invulnerable supercar. His intent is to take revenge on the gang who murdered him.” That sounds weird as shit & right up my alley.

The movie is fun & kind of what I expected, although it could’ve been a little cooler. Not sure how, but it obviously didn’t quite make it to cult level status although it had that potential. I think it needed to be a little more bizarre. For a weird plot synopsis, the movie itself wasn’t weird enough. Plus Sheen was a bit dull – maybe this would be a cult film now had it starred someone else? Hell, his brother Emilio would’ve been much better. Which made me think that I really want to watch Repo Man again, as I don’t remember much now but love Harry Dean Stanton.

This is another thing I love about discovering ’80s movies I never saw: I love spotting so many actors I liked, especially if they’re obscure actors I recognise from other ’80s films. Two not-so-obscure ones in The Wraith but it was great seeing Randy Quaid and Clint Howard (this was a big role for him! He’s usually not much more than a cameo). Anyway – it’s a fun movie but it could’ve been better. I want to give it a higher rating than this. I’d probably like it more if it had been one I’d managed to see when I was a teenager. – 6.5/10

The Wolverine – Wait, was this the bad Wolverine movie or the REALLY bad one?? Oh yeah – the really bad one was Origins. And I’d seen that one before, so it’s in the Rewatched section below. I don’t have the energy to write about the X-Men films, which I watched ALL of (other than Logan & Dark Phoenix) during lockdown. Here’s how I feel about X-Men: I know nothing whatsoever about the comics but absolutely loved the first film when it came out. I was a nerd in my mid-20s & it was the first “superhero” thing I really went for. I just liked the concept & thought the characters were great. I even bought some damn toys (including Professor X, as I already loved Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: TNG). Then the second movie was great. Then…. they all went downhill from there. Damn. But I still really like the whole X-Men thing overall so I’m giving even the worst films no lower than a 6/10. I just wish the movies were better as I still love the story & the characters. Maybe I should look into the comics, huh?

Anyway – the reason for rewatching them all was because my daughter showed an interest in seeing them. She’s very into “girl” superheroes at the moment & spends a lot of time drawing them. Two of her favorites are Kitty Pryde & X-23. The other two are Jessica Jones & Kate Bishop, who I know nothing about, but we managed to find a comic series containing both of them & aimed at pre-teens & she absolutely loves it. And she’s gone for the X-Men movies big time, which is interesting as she didn’t go quite so much for the MCU stuff (as she was too young to grow up with those, I guess, so only saw some of the later films & missed out on watching the characters develop). It’s just interesting as I felt the same way in far preferring X-Men to other superhero stuff at the time. I think it’s great that I was able to pass my nerdy X-Men toys onto my daughter 20 years later. 🙂

Oh yeah – was I meant to be reviewing The Wolverine?! It sucked. I only watched it a few months ago & barely remember it already. Yikes. And I think I fell asleep through part of it. But it sucked a bit less than Origins. How did they make such a mess out of movies about such an awesome character twice?! Luckily Logan turned out good (which is too violent for the kid so she’s not seen that one, FYI). – 6/10

X-Men: Apocalypse – Ugh. This one was a mess too. It’s such a mess that I’ve ranked it below The Wolverine. However, I’m not sure which one is actually worse. But I just didn’t go for these “First Class” younger X-Men movies as much. Give me old Patrick Stewart instead! But Michael Fassbender is hot, so… I guess there’s that. What even happened in this one again?! Okay – I think I watched too many X-Men movies in one month. Can’t keep them straight! But that’s the problem with superhero movies, which is why this genre is not truly a favorite of mine: They’re all too similar. Same with the MCU films. At least the MCU films did a better job with the origin stories, which I mostly preferred to the Avengers movies as you get much better character development than you do when too many superheroes are all crammed into a movie together. I wish the X-Men movies had managed to do as good of a job following an overall story arc like the MCU movies did. – 6/10

Dark Places – Oh, look – it’s young Beast from X-Men! Holy shit – I barely remember this movie either. It was only three months ago! My mind has clearly been elsewhere during this pandemic. What’s sad is that I also read this book. From what I remember of the book, this was a faithful adaptation. It just wasn’t my favorite story from Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which was a very enjoyable book (review here). But what I liked even more was her novel Sharp Objects (sort-of review here). That book was fucked up! And the TV adaptation with Amy Adams was decent. Dark Places was okay but meh. The characters are all pretty hateful (but that’s the case with all of Flynn’s books that I’ve read). Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.” – 5.5/10

Rewatched:

I discussed how I feel about X-Men above so I’m not going to discuss each film below. The above were first-time-watches for me but I rewatched all of the below movies in May as well.

X-Men – Yay! – 7.5/10

X-Men 2 – Yay too! – 7.5/10

X-Men: First Class – Not bad but prefer the older characters – 7/10

Mulan – I want to like Mulan more than I do. I like the story & her character but the rest of the characters & the film are a bit weak. My daughter was obsessed with this one in May and watched it over & over. I actually badly want to see the live-action film as it looks so damn good from the trailer. And I’m someone who HATES all these horrible live-action versions Disney have been doing. Beauty And The Beast with annoying Emma Watson? Yuck! – 7/10

The Fox And The Hound – I’ve always been fond of this one, as well as The Rescuers, as for some reason I remember both very well from a young age. Not sure how I saw them, as renting movies obviously didn’t exist at that point (god I’m old). With The Rescuers, I think it’s partly due to having a book of it as a little kid as well as a View-Master reel or whatever you called it (goddamn – I really AM old). And I assume I saw it in the cinema on some re-release. I’ll have seen The Fox And The Hound on its original release, so I guess I really liked it as I was the right sort of age for it. And I’ve always liked “animal” Disney stories the most. So I rewatched this one with the kid in May (is it obvious that Disney Plus was new to the U.K. at the start of lockdown?! Perfect timing). Anyway, on a rewatch I have to admit that this is certainly one of Disney’s weaker films. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still far better than movies from that horrible mid-90s into early 2000s Disney phase (Sorry, Hercules & Emperor’s New Groove lovers). Tod & Copper are still completely loveable, though. – 7/10

X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Wow – I was harsh in my original review of this (linked). I liked it more the second time around. It’s far better than Apocalypse! – 7/10

X-Men: The Last Stand – Hmm – 6.5/10

SpaceCamp – I remember liking this movie a lot at the time (1986) but hadn’t seen it in years. Must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the rewatch. I want to give it a higher rating but know that would be due to nostalgia. It’s a VERY ’80s film so may seem a bit dated now but, for me, that’s a big part of its charm. However, it’s a very fun story for kids so I think any watching it now would still have a lot of fun with it. What was really interesting was seeing Joaquin Phoenix (then Leaf Phoenix) as a young child star again. I still see him that way even now (I was instead a big fan of brother River thanks to Stand By Me) but I think anyone younger watching SpaceCamp now would find it very weird seeing the Joker as this sweet little kid.

Screw it – I’m giving this a score that’s probably half a point more than it deserves. I just still really like this one. And if you have young kids interested in space travel, I’d still recommend this movie. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “The young attendees of a space camp find themselves in space for real when their shuttle is accidentally launched into orbit.” And I now see why it failed at the box office, as I just read this at Wikipedia: “The film received mixed reviews and is famous for being a “marketing nightmare,” as it was released less than five months after the Challenger accident of January 28, 1986 (although filming was completed before the disaster occurred). The film performed poorly at the box office, grossing less than $10 million in the US. The script was later adapted into a novel, which did include references to the Challenger explosion and some of the kids’ decisions to attend Space Camp in the wake of said tragedy.” FYI: SpaceCamp stars Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston (R.I.P. – still in shock at her recent death), Larry B. Scott, Leaf Phoenix, Tate Donovan & Tom Skerritt – 7/10

Mannequin – Cheesy as fuck but I’m an ’80s kid so of course I still appreciate this stupid movie. – 6.5/10

National Treasure – Decided to rewatch this with the kid as remember liking it the first time around. It was still enjoyable but more boring than I’d remembered. Honestly, there’s too much in the way of boring American history in this film. America – Fuck Yeah! I imagine this movie didn’t do as well outside the U.S. Sorry, it probably doesn’t help that History was always one of my least favorite subjects. I prefer sci-fi & the future to humanity’s horrible past. I also thought this movie had more of an Indiana Jones vibe to it but it’s really just Indiana Jones if he wasn’t sexy as hell and if he tried to teach you a little too much about history along the way instead of just melting the baddies’ faces off. – 6.5/10

You’ve Got Mail – This movie is cute and I still like the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan combo but this is the worst of the films they did together. Tom Hanks’ character is also kind of a dick in this one. Tom Hanks can’t be a dick! No, it just doesn’t work. But this is still worth watching if you like these old rom-coms which rarely get made anymore. Why did that stop?! It’s admittedly not my favorite genre but the movies were enjoyable & inoffensive and had some great stars. Just be sure to watch Sleepless In Seattle first as it’s much better. But their best one by far is the quirky Joe Versus The Volcano (which I realise won’t be everyone’s cup of tea). Apparently they also did a movie called Ithaca together in 2016 but I don’t know a thing about that one (I see it was directed by Ryan, though – I’d like to see that now). – 6.5/10

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – God this one is bad. It deserves a much lower rating but I just can’t help but still like the whole X-Men thing… – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC & BOOKS

Nothing “new” to mention here. I’ve just been listening to my usual Apple playlist A LOT lately (it’s one of the best things about working from home: music all day long). One thing I’ll say is that I’ve really been enjoying all the Jóhann Jóhannsson soundtrack stuff that keeps popping up on my playlist while I’m working (particularly the Mandy score). What a loss to the filmmaking world – he did fantastic scores.

I also continued reading Frank Herbert’s Dune throughout May (finishing in June).

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Golden Girls – As I said in my April roundup post, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this on Channel 5 during my lunch breaks. I’m really missing it! Now I just work through lunch some of the time. Bring The Golden Girls back!!!

– As I also mentioned, the UK finally got Disney Plus (in April?), so a lot of time was spent watching Disney stuff those first few months. I especially enjoyed watching all the Silly Symphonies with my daughter. Man, I spent a small fortune many years ago trying to buy all those up when they were released in fancy metal tins. Love them. I especially liked the one that introduced Donald Duck as a character. We also enjoyed Pixar In Real Life, some of which are fun & some a bit meh. I swear no one in the Brave episode knew who the hell Merida was & people didn’t seem to catch on to the Up stuff either. Wow – I’d instantly recognise all Disney & Pixar references in real life. And all the Disney & Pixar shorts are great. Where The Golden Girls stopped showing during my lunch breaks, I still sometimes stick on a Disney or Pixar short to watch with the kid during lunch now. She also really liked the Forky Asks A Question shorts. I find Forky a bit annoying, though. Can only take him in small doses, so the shorts are just the right length.

– We did enjoy watching the Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff they showed on Friday nights during the start of lockdown. Very cool that they did that. Can’t say I loved all of them, though. I just have no class. My favorite was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but we stopped watching The Phantom of the Opera out of boredom. Sorry. See? No class! Jesus Christ Superstar was also disappointing, as I really like the 1973 film. We’ll watch the film version next Easter instead…

– Finally, I started catching up on the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy in May. God that show annoys me. But I can’t quit watching after so many years! And they had the dumbest “write-off” of a character yet with Alex Karev. WTF was that?! Dumb as hell. That was more stupid than when the guy who played George clearly pissed them off on the show so they had his character get hit by a bus & end up in the hospital completely unrecognisable so that they didn’t even need the actor to film that final episode where they kill him off. Haha. So petty.

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

Well, I’ve managed to do my roundup posts up to May now. Didn’t think I’d manage as don’t feel like writing lately. So I guess I’ll try to post June & July as well.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Haven’t bothered with this section as not much is really coming out to see. Plus, I won’t be going to a cinema again for a very, very long time. Feel bad about that as, obviously, movies are my main hobby & I was a regular customer before the pandemic. But I don’t have the money now plus I don’t think it’s safe. Luckily no one reads this blog anyway. 🙂 But the only reviews that ever get any hits are the ones for current releases and I won’t be seeing many of those now.

As for films that were meant to come out in 2020, these are the only ones I badly want to see:

Bill & Ted Face The Music – I NEED to see this. I’m a big Bill & Ted fan (the whole family are big fans) but it was just announced that it will be a cinema-only release in the UK. Extremely unimpressed at that. Why can’t it be video on demand here as well?!?! This has been my most anticipated movie since the second it was announced. Now we have no clue when we’ll be able to safely see it in the UK plus it’s released an entire month after America gets it anyway. So, yay – the whole movie will have been spoiled by then. Just like how The Mandalorian was spoiled for us. Great.

Mulan – At least it’s looks like the UK might get a chance to see this one? Who knows, though – we still get screwed over on later releases for some of the Disney Plus stuff too.

Top Gun: Maverick – I admit it – I love Top Gun. I was really looking forward to this.

Dune – Well, I finally read the book! I mainly want to see this, though, as Denis Villeneuve is my favorite newer filmmaker.

As I mentioned the great Jóhann Jóhannsson above, here’s something of his from the Mandy score:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2020

Hi all. Hope everyone is well & keeping safe.

I haven’t posted any of these monthly updates since February. Obviously, it all seems a bit pointless at the moment. I’m not watching many “new to me” films anyway since I seem to be sticking with movies I’ve already seen & know that I like or think the kid would like. I’ve still kept these monthly lists in my drafts, though, so I might as well catch up on posting them. I’ll keep my thoughts brief (I can’t remember much after five months anyway). Here’s what I watched & read back in March 2020…

MOVIES REVIEWED IN MARCH

Onward – Last film I watched in the cinema. I reviewed it in full at the link. Enjoyed it but a weak entry from Pixar. – 7/10

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst)

This Boy’s Life – Been wanting to check this out for years to see the performances from Robert De Niro & a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Actually didn’t know beforehand that it was about author Tobias Wolff (played by DiCaprio). I then thought “Oh, I read his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test!” But, never mind, that was written by Tom Wolfe. I know nothing about Tobias Wolff (except that his stepdad, played by De Niro, was a bit of an asshole). Well, they both delivered the expected good performances but biographical dramas have never really been my thing. It’s a good film but not one I’d watch again. – 7/10

Four Flies On Grey Velvet (4 mosche di velluto grigio) – Was excited to see this Dario Argento film available on Amazon Prime as I’ve been wanting to explore more of the Italian giallo horror thing since finding Phenomena interesting then thinking Deep Red was pretty damn great. Was super disappointed that Four Flies was only available dubbed in English. Argh! I hate when films are dubbed. It’s distracting & definitely ruins the film but, meh – I was in lockdown so I watched it anyway. It’s certainly nowhere near the level of Deep Red or Suspiria. As usual, there was some imagery I liked (like that doll thing up there – I love a creepy doll thing & Argento clearly does too). Shit, I dunno – I remember almost nothing about this five months later whereas I remember all of Deep Red plus its brilliant score. At least the story was ALMOST coherent in Four Flies, which I can’t say for all of Argento’s stuff (especially Inferno, which is later in this list). It also had a truly silly but fun way in which the killer got discovered so I guess I’ll give it an extra point for that. But if you’re new to Argento just watch Deep Red, which is his most accessible film. – 6.5/10

All The Bright Places – I liked this YA novel a lot. I admit I read waaaaaay too many YA books but this was definitely one of my favorites when it comes to the romance/drama side of the genre. It had very strong characters & it left me feeling emotionally drained in a way that many YA books don’t manage as so many of them feel a bit shallow. So I highly recommend the book to fans of YA along the lines of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, etc. The film adaptation, though? Meh. Disappointing. I didn’t feel they captured the characters at all, especially the boy & it was extremely important to get him right. You can feel his pain & desperation in the book but the film character left me a bit cold. To be fair, I don’t think this is the actor’s fault as he’s such a complex character that they never would have been able to bring to the screen in the same way. Overall, it’s an okay film so I’m sure people like it but I know just how good the book is so I’m hoping people will read the book first. Then, yes, it’s worth seeing the adaptation afterwards if you’re interested. – 6.5/10

Dark Shadows – This was the ONLY Tim Burton-directed film I’d not seen so I finally checked it out. Ugh. I suppose I should update my Tim Burton Movie Rankings HERE but I’m too lazy at the moment. It’s probably second or third to last anyway. What a huge disappointment, especially after it started out okay. Then it all went to shit in the final third. I did enjoy the ensemble cast, though – I do love Michelle Pfeiffer & am happy that (I think?) we’re allowed to like Johnny Depp again (Are we?! Hard to keep track these days). Alice Cooper was also in this (as Alice Cooper). So, bonus points for that since I love Cooper (even though the cameo was stupid and felt forced into the story – it worked much better in Wayne’s World!). The story was just messy and the characters were hateful. Eva Green is sexy but her psycho slut character was just dumb. Meh. Whatever. I’ll give it an okay score since, as I said, it started out okay plus it had some style, as to be expected from Burton. And Alice Cooper is in it. – 6/10

Inferno (1980) – Again, I was excited to see a Dario Argento film was going to be showing on TV on Film4. I don’t have a way to record anymore so, as it was the start of lockdown & everything was shit, I was determined to stay up to watch this at its 1:30am showtime. Not worth it!! Damn. First of all, this was ALSO dubbed. What? Why?? Let’s be honest – only proper film nerds are gonna watch foreign films in the middle of the night and film nerds want subtitles. So, again, this will have hurt my enjoyment of this one. When I mentioned that Four Flies was somewhat coherent (as far as Argento films go)? Inferno was an incoherent mess. I don’t know what the fuck was going on, but of course it didn’t help that I was exhausted & worried about viruses at that point (well, I still am now). Anyway – I don’t think anyone watches Italian horror for a good story so I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the imagery & bright red blood & supernatural weirdness. Again, there’s some good imagery in this one but not nearly enough to make up for how weak this movie is compared to Suspiria. Here’s a bit about it from Wikipedia: A thematic sequel to Suspiria (1977), the film is the second part of Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy, though it is the first in the trilogy to explore the idea of the Three Mothers. The long-delayed concluding entry, The Mother of Tears, was released in 2007. Yeah, so this is sort of a sequel to Suspiria. Too bad it sucks. But it doesn’t sound as bad as the third film! Released in 2007? I’ll skip that one. Give me good old Seventies/early Eighties horror. At least this one is worth a try if you like Argento’s style as it’s still almost a 70’s film but with a weird ass early 80’s prog score from Keith Emerson. But at least that gives it a cheese-factor that often works for me personally. I kind of hated yet liked the score – I think I’ll add it to my playlist now & I bet it grows on me along with all the other horror scores I like to have creepily playing in the background while I work from home. Give me a Goblin score instead, though! Goblin are a huge part of the reason for Deep Red & Suspiria being the superior Argento films I’ve seen so far. Watch those. Only watch Inferno if you absolutely love Suspiria and want another witchy Argento fix but go in with very low expectations. And don’t watch it dubbed. I’m just too broke to watch films in the way I prefer. – 6/10

Rewatched:

As I said above, a lot of the movies I’ve watched during lockdown have been ones I’ve already seen. Comfort movies, I guess. And some have been ones I’ve wanted to introduce my daughter to, like all the X-Men films (which she LOVED). I better point out that she’s not seen Logan, of course – too violent. I don’t have the energy to write too much about all the re-watches. If I happened to have reviewed them in full in the past, I’ll include the review link.

Jaws – A classic. Still love it but not to the same degree that others my age do. You HAVE to admit it takes a while for this one to pick up. It only becomes truly great once the three guys go out on the boat together. From there, yes, it becomes a brilliant & iconic film. – 8/10

The Hunger Games – I reviewed all but the first Hunger Games film in full as I started this blog just as the first one came out. I should try to review it in full some day as it’s the best of the four (although Catching Fire is very good too). I think these films get some very unfair treatment and it’s likely only because they are part of the YA genre. “Young Adult” is a dirty phrase to people who have become far too judgemental & seem to think art shouldn’t exist for anyone under 25. There’s awful YA & fantastic YA. These books are great reads and the films are very good adaptations while Jennifer Lawrence is perfect as Katniss. Okay, I didn’t like the final book but I think everyone felt the same way about that one. It was a disappointing conclusion. You can’t say it wasn’t well-written, though, and you certainly can’t accuse her of selling out to keep fans happy in the end. It’s a strong series & will be seen as a classic in its genre. And I say this as someone who has also read & loved Battle Royale & its film adaptation. The stories are very different, with The Hunger Games exploring some pretty complex political themes for stories aimed at such a young audience. I actually read Battle Royale after liking that adaptation so much as I wanted a more in-depth look into the reasons why they made those kids kill each other but unfortunately didn’t get much more of an explanation than you get in the movie. So don’t start talking shit about The Hunger Games. For this genre, it’s a very good series. If you don’t like the books or films, it may be because they weren’t written for you. It doesn’t make them bad and, as far as the films go, Lawrence acted her ass off and the characters were far more well-developed & empathetic than in many films – especially Woody Harrelson as Haymitch (why can’t we get his story as a prequel??). – 8/10

Coming To America – Still think this is a pretty damn funny 80’s classic. They don’t make decent fun-but-dumb comedy anymore. Comedy movies are just plain dumb nowadays. – 7/10

50 First Dates – I’m Generation X so I’m not an Adam Sandler hater. It was cool for anyone younger than Gen X to hate Sandler until Uncut Gems. You know what? You’re not allowed to like him if you didn’t like him before Uncut Gems. You can’t suddenly claim him like you tried to claim Keanu Reeves. Reeves is ours and so is Sandler, whether he’s in a good movie or a bad one (and, yes, he’s been in some very BAD ones). Sandler was good in Uncut Gems but it was a thoroughly unenjoyable film. I just wanted it to finish (I really liked Good Time, though, FYI). Give me his “dumb” old comedies instead. The Wedding Singer is great and would probably be more universally loved had it starred someone else (maybe Paul Rudd? He seems acceptable to younger people). I also happen to think Big Daddy & 50 First Dates are good so these are my top three Sandler films. Admittedly, the rest start to go downhill but he’s still had more successful films than many actors, especially in the comedy genre, so he’s clearly doing something right. And I love Drew Barrymore as well & think they’re adorable together in this, The Wedding Singer, and even Blended. Drew is especially sweet in 50 First Dates – she elevates this one quite a bit & is the true star of this film. You keep making films, Adam! I’ll watch them. Even when they suck. Just drag Drew into them when you can – they turn out much better than the ones you do with Jennifer Aniston. – 7/10

Click – Um, Click wasn’t as good. Its heart was in the right place (all about appreciating what you have in life & all that). But the comedy didn’t work as well & got too dumb at times. It also felt like it carried on for too long (too lazy to go check the runtime but it felt too long). However, Christopher Walken was a welcome kooky addition, as he is in everything he’s ever in. So I’ll give it an extra half a point for that. And also for the dog always humping that toy. Sometimes dumb comedy works, such as dogs predictably humping things. – 6/10

MUSIC, BOOKS, TV, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Joe Hisaishi – Dream Songs: The Essential Joe Hisaishi – What can I say? I ADORE Studio Ghibli. But I won’t go into that as I’ve gone on & on about Studio Ghibli so much on this blog. So of course I love this album as so much of it is the music he composed for Ghibli films. He’s a genius. He should be more well known (Well, he’s probably huge in Japan? What do I know!). Special shoutout especially to Hisaishi’s music for My Neighbor Totoro & Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind. Gorgeous. Also my two favorite Ghibli films. The music in a film is very important to me, so it’s probably not a coincidence that they have the best scores as well. He’s to Ghibli what Morricone is to Leone’s films (to me, at least). Perfection.

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream – This is a heavy metal album with each song being about a different horror film. It couldn’t be more perfect for me & my interests & this silly blog! I really like this album, although it’s heavier than the classic type of metal I tend to go for. I just wish I’d known about it last October when I did what will probably be my last ever October Horror Month on this blog. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a proper post on this blog again or if I’ll even post anything else at all after this but this album needs its own specific post. There’s too much to cover, as I’d like to discuss each song as well each of the movies the songs are dedicated to (many of them, such as A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Shining, The Crow & even the not-so-horror Edward Scissorhands being absolute favorite films of mine). So, I’ll make no promises but I’ll try to discuss this album in full sometime. Probably in October while everyone is watching horror movies. I recommend this album to heavy metal horror movie lovers. Thanks to the guy who recommended this album to me! It’s so me. (I thanked him in real life since he’s a real life person – I won’t pretend I discovered this album on my own).

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – I started this at the beginning of lockdown as I obviously wanted to finally read it before the Denis Villeneuve adaptation. It took me several months to finish as I couldn’t concentrate. I did really like it – Life is just very distracting at the moment. I’ll write a bit about it in June’s roundup post, as I think that’s when I finished it.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Like reading books, I’m also finding it hard to concentrate on TV shows at the moment. I’ve still watched only an episode or two of each of these.

Locke & Key – Love Joe Hill’s books & especially his short story collections. Not read the graphic novel this is based on, however, but the story is intriguing. I’d like to read it first. So far, I’m liking the show but I find it far easier to watch a movie than to try to finish an entire series of something. How on earth do people manage to binge watch an entire show over a weekend?? I feel like I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I’m exhausted.

The Storyteller – This is weird as shit! It’s a Jim Henson show from the late Eighties narrated by the brilliant John Hurt and I’d somehow never heard of it. I watched only one episode (Hans My Hedgehog). It was bizarre & creepy and I’m pretty sure it gave me nightmares that night. I’d forgotten I’d watched this. I want to see the rest.

Parks & Recreation – Watched a couple episodes. It’s just okay? Am I the only person who doesn’t love TV shows from the last 20 years?

The Creeps – Watched a few episodes of this Goosebumps-like show with the kid. I’m a lover of weird & bizarre stories, especially with a twist, and I’m always trying & failing to get her to also fall in love with things like The Twilight Zone. She liked this show okay. Think Black Mirror but for kids. But it’s not great. And it’s certainly no masterpiece like The Twilight Zone.

Love, Death & Robots – Watched two or three episodes. Sounded like the EXACT thing the hubby & I would love (sci-fi & robots!!!). We weren’t impressed. And one episode was so over-the-top gory and unnecessarily sexual. Hubby said something along the lines of how it felt like it was made for horny 13-year-old boys (he’ll say I’ve misquoted him when he reads this). That’s accurate, though. Maybe the other episodes are better but what I’ve seen so far was a bit pathetic. How can they fuck up a show about robots?! Robots are awesome! Dammit.

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

I’ll try to do a weekly post of my monthly roundups for April, May, June & July but I’m making no guarantees.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See (I made this list in February so I’m leaving it here for myself as I’ve still not seen even the ones that did get released. I can’t remember what half of these are now…):

The Invisible Man, Dark Waters, The Hunt, Swallow (looked interesting), VFW (what the heck is this?),The New Mutants (ha! will this ever see the light of day?), The Secret Garden, Trolls World Tour (oh god no – why is this listed?! the first one was bad enough), Antlers, Promising Young Woman (don’t remember this), Dream Horse (nor this), Proxima, Finding The Way Back (nor this), Antebellum (nor this), A Quiet Place Part II (still want to see this as really liked A Quiet Place)

Here’s Joe Hisaishi’s beautiful Path Of The Wind from My Neighbor Totoro:

Onward (2020) Review

Onward (2020)

Directed by Dan Scanlon

Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer

Production company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.

My Opinion:

Ahh – My beloved Pixar. Pixar is up there with Studio Ghibli & Akira Kurosawa films for me in that they’re responsible for making so many movies I love & their very best are cinematic perfection (in my opinion, obviously). Pixar could do no wrong until the Cars movies came along & they’ve unfortunately had a few missteps since then. The Disney “sequelitis” thing has hurt the Pixar brand slightly, although Pixar’s weakest films are still far better than the majority of output from other animation studios. Onward is good but it’s certainly not one of Pixar’s best. However, I appreciate getting an original story instead of yet another sequel (Toy Story 4 was very disappointing after the third one had such a perfect ending & made for a fantastic trilogy).

Okay – not that anyone cares but you know I love to make lists & rank things. So here’s My Pixar Movie Ranking (Wow – I never watched Cars 3? I’m clearly not into those…). Figured this was worth doing to see where I’d place Onward:

21. Cars 2
20. The Good Dinosaur
19. Cars
18. Incredibles 2
17. Finding Dory
16. Monsters University
15. Toy Story 4
14. Onward
13. Coco
12. Ratatouille
11. A Bug’s Life
10. Brave
9. The Incredibles
8. Up
7. Toy Story 2
6. Toy Story 3
5. Inside Out
4. Finding Nemo
3. Monsters, Inc.
2. Toy Story
1. WALL-E

So, Onward is unfortunately one of the weakest “original” stories but still better than all the sequels (other than Toy Story 2 & 3, which are great). To be honest, I enjoyed it a bit more than Coco. Coco is lovely to look at & a better “film” but I liked the Onward main characters & the relationship between the two brothers.

I think maybe the most difficult thing with Onward was trying to NOT keep getting Weekend At Bernie’s vibes from it as they dragged their dad around on their journey. As usual, Pixar know how to pull on those heartstrings & there are some lovely moments in this film that are kind of ruined by that stupid Andrew McCarthy movie popping up in my head. Damn you, Andrew McCarthy! (I’m just extra mad at him as I also re-watched Pretty In Pink over the weekend. I will always be #TeamDuckie!).

I’ll try to keep this short as I’m not really planning on doing many full movie reviews this year but, as it’s Pixar, I had to write a little about it. Having just watched Onward, I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. Maybe it will grow on me as some Pixar movies did after a re-watch but I don’t think that will happen in this case & I can’t see ever loving it as I do those at the top of my Pixar list. The overall story is fine but a little weak, especially when compared to just how brilliantly inventive Pixar ideas often are (I’m still amazed by Monsters, Inc. Genius idea). The minor characters in Onward are also disappointing, which is a shame as Pixar often have such strong characters in even the smallest roles. Look at something like Finding Nemo – I love each & every damn sea creature in that thing! They all have such unique personalities. No one stands out in Onward other than the two brothers.

However, I think Onward handles the topic of losing someone well. It manages to make you care about the brothers & their dad, at least, and to yet again simultaneously warm & break your damn heart at the end in usual Pixar fashion. I won’t give too much away but, ultimately, this story is about the two brothers and they’re what make this movie work. They help make up for there being no memorable other characters (maybe that’s the reason why, so the focus is on the brothers & them wanting to see their dad again). I saw people freaking out on Twitter when someone said Onward is Frozen for boys (with people pointing out that both boys & girls can like both of these movies). Chill out, people. The comparison is accurate in that Frozen is about sisters & Onward is about brothers. They’re both about family & love & loss. They’re good films that everyone should be able to relate to in some way. I do wish Onward was a better film overall as its heart is in the right place. Well, you never know – maybe it will grow on me a bit.

My Rating: 7/10

Toy Story 4 (2019) Review

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Directed by Josh Cooley

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack

Music by Randy Newman

Production Company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.

My Opinion:

I adore Pixar. I think they make all-time classic family films that are far better than the majority of live-action films these days. When they became a part of Disney, I knew we might get the problem of “too many sequels” since Disney love to squeeze out these easy money-makers. I know we all love these characters but did we really need yet another Toy Story film after such a perfect trilogy? No, we didn’t. Is it bad? Of course not. Other than the Cars films, Pixar don’t tend to make bad movies. Even their “not as good” films are way better than animated films from other studios. Toy Story 4 really did feel a bit pointless to me, though. While I enjoyed it and liked seeing Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang again, I felt very underwhelmed after thinking about it for a while. I also saw it a second time as extended family wanted to go to it so it was interesting to find that I actually liked it a little less the second time. I didn’t expect that.

I’ll start with the good: Forky is a great new character. I loved his whole existential crisis and wish they had actually explored that much more than they did. We also get a lot of Woody for people who are Woody fans. Wow – these names sound a bit dirty… Who wants a good Woody Forky!?! (I do). I also loved the creepy ass dummies because creepy ass dummies are awesome (I highly recommend the movies Magic and Dead Of Night if you like creepy ass dummies). I loved getting to find out what happened to Bo Peep since they just dropped her ass from these films and it’s great that she turned out to be pretty damn cool. And the animation is AMAZING. Remember when the first Toy Story came out and we were shocked at how brilliant it looked? It looks so primitive now compared to Toy Story 4. OH! I almost forgot to mention Keanu! Keanu Reeves is in this so, of course, his mere presence makes every movie better (in my opinion, at least).


Now for some of the “not so good” things: Buzz Lightyear had nothing to do in this. Neither did Jessie. Both were really wasted in this film (as were all our most beloved original characters other than Woody & Bo Peep, obviously). I know Woody was the focus of this one but that’s always been the case yet other main characters still got some decent screen time in the other movies. I wasn’t all that into the whole Gabby Gabby story, either, as its outcome was so extremely predictable. I also think they haven’t managed to get us to like Bonnie & her family all that much compared to how we feel about Andy & his mother. It just seems like we know Andy far better than we do Bonnie. Oh, and Ducky & Bunny were annoying more often than funny. The only good new addition to this one was Forky. Oh, and Duke Caboom! But that’ll be because I adore Keanu. I’d just rather have spent more time with our favorite characters than with a bunch of new ones. To be fair, a lot of new characters were added to Toy Story 3 as well but they were far stronger than the new additions to this one. I also found that the jokes in this one, for whatever reason, didn’t make me laugh the second time around whereas I still love every funny bit from the other three films. (Well, except for the high-five Combat Carl bit, which cracked me the hell up both times)

Toy Story 4 was okay. At least it’s much better than Monsters University and Finding Dory as far as Pixar sequels go. It just doesn’t have the heart of the first or the third Toy Story or the humor of the second one. People are saying they got emotional all over again with Toy Story 4 but I didn’t feel that way in the slightest. I just about burst into tears at the end of Toy Story 3. Maybe I’m just heartless now? But Inside Out still gets me feeling all emotional every damn time (and I’ve seen that one a lot now), so I think I just have sequel burnout. Enough with the sequels, please! I still love these characters and, yes, I always enjoy seeing them. But I can’t pretend that I didn’t find Toy Story 4 unnecessary.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Incredibles 2 (2018) Review

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Directed & Written by Brad Bird

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L. Jackson

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows the Parr family as they balance regaining the public’s trust of superheroes with their civilian family life, only to combat a new foe who seeks to turn the populace against all supers.

My Opinion:

Okay, this will be super(hero) quick. I enjoyed this movie. I adore Pixar. But, like when I reviewed Ant-Man And The Wasp yesterday, I have pretty much nothing to say about it. I honestly just don’t know what to say anymore about 1. Superhero movies (especially sequels) and 2. Animated sequels such as this one. It was fun. We got to see our beloved Incredibles characters again. But it’s nothing new. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. It’s the same thing again but with the parents’ roles reversed.

Let’s see… I’m trying to think if this one adds much beyond the first film… Oh! Jack-Jack has a much bigger role. It was a lot of fun seeing his crazy powers – I think he was my (and my kid’s) favorite thing about this whole film. I’d have liked to see more of Edna Mode & Frozone (love them). But we maybe get a bit more time seeing the whole family working together as a superhero team so that was good. Umm. Huh. Honestly – I’m struggling to blog lately but I especially struggle with stuff like this. It’s Pixar so it’s great (as are all of them other than Cars). The Incredibles films actually aren’t my favorite of Pixar’s stuff (sorry!) but even my least favorite Pixars are better than the majority of animated kids’ films from other studios. Maybe when I get around to reviewing them I’ll have more to say about The Secret Of Marrowbone & Hotel Artemis, both of which I really liked. Hotel Artemis especially felt like something original, which is what I really crave & appreciate these days as I’m getting bored with superheroes & sequels.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Coco (2017) Review

Coco (2017) Review

Directed by Lee Unkrich

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Edward James Olmos

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel Rivera who is accidentally transported to the land of the dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living.

My Opinion:

Finally! I hate how we have to wait months for Pixar movies to be released in the UK. What’s up with that?!?! I adore Pixar! So, thanks to months of hype about Coco, maybe that’s why I was slightly underwhelmed. Cute movie & nice story but it certainly won’t be at the top of my list of favorite Pixar films. I did do a list of My Top Pixar Movies HERE. Actually, that list needs updating. Okay, I’ll do it in this post! Here’s my Pixar Movie Rankings (counting down to my very favorite & including Coco):

18. Cars 2
17. Cars
16. The Good Dinosaur
15. Finding Dory
14. Monsters University
13. Coco
12. Ratatouille
11. Brave
10. A Bug’s Life
9. Up
8. The Incredibles
7. Toy Story 2
6. Toy Story 3
5. Inside Out
4. Finding Nemo
3. Monsters, Inc.
2. Toy Story
1. WALL-E

13th? Hmm. That’s disappointing. I do think Coco was hurt slightly by Book Of Life coming out first. My daughter said afterwards that Coco was okay but that she likes Book Of Life more. That’s unfortunate as I think Coco is definitely the superior film. It’s more timeless and has a better story. I liked the focus on family & following your dreams compared to the more complicated love story in Book Of Life, which I think fewer people can relate to.

I’ll keep this short. Coco is still a far better film than all the animated stuff we get from the Non-Disney/Pixar studios in Hollywood. I just have incredibly high standards when it comes to Pixar and some movies have been a bit disappointing in recent years. But even the worst Pixar films are FAR from “bad” (well, the Cars films leave a lot to be desired).

Coco’s lead character, Miguel, is strong and I really liked Héctor (voiced by Gael García Bernal). We don’t get to know a lot of Miguel’s family as well as I’d have liked, though (Plus they come off as a bit unlikeable at first). I also thought the movie was quite slow to begin with. Pixar movies usually grab me from the start but I didn’t really get into Coco until almost halfway through the film. The “reveal” was also very obvious from early on but, I dunno… I suppose that’s just because I watch too many movies. As always with Pixar, the film was lovely to look at (Even all the use of orange, my least favorite color! It looked great in this). Mostly, I just didn’t fully connect with the story & the characters in the same way that I usually do with Pixar movies.


This review is coming across as far more negative than I’m intending. Sorry! Coco is a really good film. I just look at that list of Pixar movies above and most of them are stronger films than this one. And I consider both WALL-E & Inside Out to be damn near masterpieces that transcend the whole “Oh, that’s just an animated kids’ movie” thing. (Which isn’t how I feel about animated films – I just know that some people see them as nothing more than “cartoons”). Coco is no WALL-E or Inside Out or the beautiful beginning of Up but it’s also not some other studio’s piece of shit like Trolls or something. Yay, Pixar! You’re still the best. I’m sure Coco will grow on me after I see it on DVD several times…

My Rating: 7.5/10

**I did a “double feature” of Coco & Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (great combo!). I’ll try to review Three Billboards tomorrow or Friday. I really didn’t expect that to be the one that I preferred of the two but I liked it a lot.

My Top Ten John Ratzenberger Movies

Happy Birthday to John Ratzenberger, who turns 70 today.

Ratzenberger was of course first mainly known for playing Cliff Clavin on Cheers & then for doing voices in the majority of the Pixar films. Thanks to this, he probably has the absolute best Top Ten of the many actor/actress top ten lists that I’ve done on this blog. I’m sometimes scraping the bottom of the barrel for the bottom of these movie lists but all (12! Ha!) of the movies in Ratzenberger’s list below are absolutely brilliant.

As usual, I’m ranking these in order of my favorite film instead of performance. Favorite performance? I’m not sure but I do love his school of fish in Finding Nemo. So here are My Top Ten John Ratzenberger Movies that I’ve seen:

The Remainder:

17. Cars 2
16. Planes
15. Cars
14. The Good Dinosaur
13. Finding Dory
12. Monsters University
11. Brave

Top Ten:

10. Ratatouille

9. A Bug’s Life

8. Up

7. Inside Out

6. TIE: Spirited Away (dubbed) & Finding Nemo

5. The Superman Movies (I & II)

4. Monsters, Inc

3. The Toy Story Movies

2. WALL-E

1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

The biggest John Ratzenberger movie I’ve not seen is Gandhi. It’s an alternate on my Blind Spot list so I’ll get around to it someday!

Here’s a fun compilation of some of his Pixar roles:

Finding Dory (2016) Review

Finding Dory (2016)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

Music by Thomas Newman

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Finding Dory focuses on the amnesiac fish Dory, who journeys to be reunited with her parents. Along the way, she is captured and taken to a California public aquarium, from which Marlin and Nemo attempt to rescue her.

My Opinion:

I adore Pixar. Any regulars here will know that by now but, just in case someone new is reading this, I LOVE PIXAR!!! And we always have to wait a couple of months to see them in the UK. I love Pixar so much that I’ve even contemplated travelling to other countries to see Pixar movies when the UK has a much later release date. 😉 Finding Nemo just makes it into my Top Five (I did rank the Pixar movies HERE but I’d re-arrange that a bit now) and Dory is probably still close to the top of a list of my favorite Pixar characters (which I posted HERE on my very first day on this blog – I’ll update that list too!). So, yes – I was very much looking forward to spending more time with characters I love. Was it worth the extra wait? Well, it certainly wasn’t worth a trip to another country to see it early so I’m glad I didn’t do that.

Baby Dory is one of the cutest things ever but all the cuteness still isn’t enough to make up for such a weak story. I was even a little bored throughout the film (as was my kid). It breaks my heart to say that about a Pixar movie other than Cars! I enjoyed seeing Dory but Marlin & Nemo almost felt unnecessary, which sucks. I know they’ve already had their own movie but Dory was just as big of a star in Finding Nemo as Marlin & Nemo were. In this, it felt a bit like “well, we have to have Marlin & Nemo tag along as it makes no sense to not have them in the film”. They also tacked on an appearance from Crush & Squirt that I’m not exactly going to complain about as those two are AWESOME, dude, but I just walked out of Finding Dory feeling like I’d watched an inferior version of Finding Nemo. It’s the exact same story again minus the creativity & imagination involved in the first film. The characters are far weaker and there are none of the special little moments that made Finding Nemo so great.

The biggest new addition is an octopus named Hank & I know he has some fans. Hank is okay but, for me, he’ll never be a favorite. In Nemo, even the tiniest roles were fantastic. I could happily watch an entire movie set just in that tank in the dentist’s office… Gill, Bloat, Peach, Bubbles, etc – every single fish in that tank was more memorable than any of the new characters in the sequel.

I always do this – I’m far more critical of the things that I love. I suppose I just have really high standards when it comes to Pixar because they’ve made so many movies that I consider to be perfection. I did enjoy Finding Dory and, to be expected, I enjoyed it more than any other recent animated kids’ films from other studios. To compare it to something like The Secret Life Of Pets, I definitely liked it more. But when compared to other Pixar films, it would be fairly low down the list. I think I feel similar to how I now feel about Monsters University. Both sequels just can’t live up to the originals but that’s because the originals are so damn good (I just checked my review of that, though – I was way too generous with an 8/10! I guess it was my excitement at seeing Mike Wazowski again). But the Toy Story sequels are great so, I dunno… I’ve realized that part of the problem is seeing Dory upset & not the same silly, optimistic, lovably forgetful fish from the first film. She’s almost become Marlin in this film, which works well for his character but not for hers. The story & the characters all just worked together so perfectly in the first film whereas it all feels a bit too forced this time around. But, hell – it’s still Pixar and I still love Dory & it’s still a million times better than Cars. Maybe it’ll grow on me when I see it more at home. But I’m sad to say that I don’t think the kid liked it all that much so I don’t think it’ll get a lot of repeat home viewings unlike the Toy Stories & Monsters, Inc.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes – at the very end. I found it worth staying for, especially as a fan of the first film.

How About The Short Beforehand?: Piper is freaking ADORABLE. Just as adorable as baby Dory in that above picture and actually better than the Finding Dory film. It was great to see such a good Pixar short after being disappointed with things like Lava. Good job, Pixar!

Inside Out (2015) Review

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Inside Out (2015)

Directed by Pete Docter

Starring Voice Actors: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

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My Opinion:

So, I finally saw this Pixar movie on Tuesday – SIX YEARS after its release everywhere else on the planet!!! Okay – I guess it was only about a month’s wait but that’s like a lifetime to me when it comes to waiting to see a new Pixar film. I adore Pixar! I know the UK gets (and will be getting) all the Marvel films before America. But who cares?! Screw Marvel! I’d much rather not have to wait for the Pixar movies. Anyway, I was feeling some bitterness (along with some disgust, anger & sadness) at the long wait so didn’t exactly rush out to see this when it came out last Friday. I figured it might as well wait a few more days so I could go on my cinema’s cheap day. I give you enough money, Pixar, and you make me wait a month just because of the stupid UK school holiday dates! Lol. Okay… I can’t stay angry at my beloved Pixar for long… 😉

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Inside Out has a brilliant concept (it’s almost up there with Monsters, Inc in that department) and it’s so cleverly written, which is what we’ve all come to expect from Pixar anyway. I love that they don’t feel the need to dumb their movies down and they don’t treat kids like they’re idiots. Yes, some of the ideas and jokes will be over very young kids’ heads. So what? It’s a movie they’ll grow up with and they’ll learn to appreciate more and more as they get older. So bravo to Pixar once again making a brilliant, timeless classic for all ages. This is why I love Pixar so much and have come to respect their films far more than a lot of the non-animated movies that get made.

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However, I’m sad to say that I’m not exactly sure how I feel about Inside Out. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great film and I love that they’ve made something that will challenge young minds and might actually make the future a better place (well, it’s possible… if anyone can discover the secret to true happiness & world peace, it’s Pixar). But I’m not instantly in love with it the way I was with a lot of other Pixar films (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc and especially WALL-E). Man, I remember the feeling I had when I walked out of the cinema after watching WALL-E… You know that pure joy you get as a movie fan when you’ve just watched an absolutely amazing film?? I still almost get chills when I watch the opening of that movie and I stand by my belief that the beginning (on Earth) is a masterpiece. There were a few moments in Inside Out that almost reached those heights but it still didn’t pack the emotional punch that the opening scenes of WALL-E and Up did and it doesn’t have any characters that are quite as strong (and instantly loveable) as in Finding Nemo or Monsters, Inc.

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Okay – I know I take Pixar films way too seriously so I’ll lighten up a little now. 😉 I know they’re essentially “family” movies but, especially with one as grown-up as Inside Out, it’s hard to not review them as I would any non-animated films. As far as other, non-Pixar animated films go, Inside Out blows them all away. As far as most non-animated films go, Inside Out blows those away too. As far as other Pixar films go, Inside Out is definitely one of the best but may not be quite as instantly loved as some of them. That’s the problem – Pixar has such a huge reputation to live up to! Yet they continue to live up to it. I know Inside Out will grow on me. But I’m an adult – what do kids actually think of it?

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My Six-Year-Old’s Opinion: (in my words)

She of course loved Inside Out but most kids will say they love a movie immediately after they’ve watched it. I go more by her reaction to a movie while watching it & how much she talks about it over the next few days. She was completely engrossed throughout the entire film and had a big smile on her face. She entirely understood the overall, basic concept (which is good as the movie was way more abstract than I was expecting – it’s massively clever but also seriously deep at times). She’s been talking a lot about the different emotions she’s been feeling and I love how much the movie has made her think about things. That’s awesome. I think it’ll be a firm favorite of hers for years to come, especially as she reaches the same sort of age as its main character.

As a parent, I’m very happy that movies like this are being made for her generation and I’m a million times happier to let her watch a movie like this than one of those idiotic Barbie movies (which I do let her watch if she wants to. I’m not going to be some movie snob – she’s only six!). However, those Barbie movies usually get watched once and she never really has anything to say about them. That’s the power of Pixar! I think this is proof that kids can handle a more grown-up film with a complex concept and without a load of silly jokes and characters.

My Husband’s Opinion:

This is unusual but the hubby has read my review & actually wanted to state his opinion as he doesn’t fully agree with me. Here’s what he said:

“I consider after all the films Pixar has made, as pure commercial fun, this one is basically a true gift to the world that will fundamentally change how human beings relate to one another. AND they did it in a so-called kids film… I think this is actually Pixar’s most significant piece of work. Not about which movie is their “best movie”. But one that utterly changes the game? This one.”

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Summary:

While I may not instantly love Inside Out quite as much as I do some other Pixar films (or quite as much as both my daughter & husband seemed to), you can see I have a massive amount of respect for it. I know I’ve not really discussed any of the specific characters or anything but I think there have been enough reviews of this by now that I didn’t really see the point of being too specific. I’ll say that I was afraid I might find Joy slightly annoying as overly happy people piss me off but that wasn’t at all the case. I also really liked Disgust but Sadness was my favorite. I’m not sure what that says about me… 😉 Finally, I liked the character of Riley and the importance of her relationship with her family. The human characters seem like the background characters in this one but they’re the true heart of the film. As always, I found I cared more about these animated characters than I tend to care about the characters in most live-action films. I don’t quite know how Pixar manages to do this (or why I can’t make it through the beginning of Up without bawling) but they’ve once again made a movie that they can be very proud of. I’ll grow to love it a bit more – I know I will!

My Rating: 8.5/10

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Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Well, you should all know this by now but there are some great extra scenes during the credits that you have to stay for. I loved these scenes. There’s nothing after the credits, though.

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A very quick review of the Lava short:

As if the main Pixar film doesn’t fill me with enough joy, we of course also get a great short before the films. I always look forward to the shorts! This one, Lava, wasn’t my favorite. It’s of course very sweet and, hey – anthropomorphic volcanoes! I’m a huge fan of anthropomorphism. However, I found the song a little bit annoying and the ending predictable. To be fair, and speaking of those emotions in my head, I was in a very bad mood when we went to this movie so that may have had an effect on how I felt about this sappy little romantic short. Sorry. :-/ But it’s still a million times better than that stupid Boundin’. The short I loved most in recent times was Disney’s Feast – that one was brilliant!

My Rating: 6.5/10

Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014) Review

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Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)

Directed by Steve Purcell

Starring:
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Wallace Shawn
Kristen Schaal
Kevin McKidd
Emma Hudak

Running time: 22 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a post Christmas play date and the toys have to go up against the fearsome and aggressive new dino toys.

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My Opinion:

Yes! Another Toy Story short! This aired in the UK on Saturday and I couldn’t wait to see it as I’ve loved all the shorts so far (Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, Partysaurus Rex and of course Toy Story Of Terror, which was a longer TV special like this one). It’s hard to pick a favorite, but… I think it’s probably this one now. And Angel Kitty RULES. 🙂

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I’ll say that, yes, this sort of uses the same idea from the first Toy Story film in the same way Toy Story Of Terror was similar to Toy Story 2. I thought this one worked better than Terror, though, and I found myself giggling at funny moments a lot more often this time. I really liked the new characters that are introduced, especially Reptillus Maximus and Angel Kitty with her profound statements said in an adorable child’s voice.

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Trixie the dinosaur is the star of this one and I don’t have a problem with that at all – I love it when they focus on characters other than just Buzz, Woody & Jessie. Although Jessie is sadly almost completely absent from this one, the other main characters are still in it enough to keep fans happy. In this story, Trixie wants the chance to play at being a dinosaur for a change and is finally given the chance when Bonnie takes her along for a play date at her friend Mason’s house. It’s a couple of days after Christmas and he’s just received what appears to be the entire set of toys called “Battlesaurs”. I won’t go into the story much more in order to avoid spoilers but it of course has an obvious but simple message that once again fits in with the overall themes in the Toy Story universe. They don’t hammer you over the head with the message or anything like that, unlike in most of my favorite Christmas specials (Charlie Brown, The Grinch… Not that I’m complaining as I loooooove those). My only complaint would possibly be that it didn’t really feel at all like a “Christmas” special but it makes it one you can easily watch year round, I guess.

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Summary:

A worthy addition to the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story That Time Forgot is packed full of the humor we’ve come to expect. I think I laughed even more than the kid I watched this with so, once again, I think they got the balance right with the adults liking it as well as their kids. Bonnie is still as sweet and wildly imaginative as in Toy Story 3 and we get a lot of Rex and especially Trixie, two characters I really like, as well as some great new toys. Plus a cute ending and scene during the credits. Oh, and watch out for the hilarious theme tune! I really had fun with this one. And… Everyone needs an apartment shaped like their own head! 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

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Btw – I’m posting a review on Wednesday for Brian De Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise and I’m hoping at least a couple of people will check it out as it’s the type of movie I enjoy reviewing here. But people only want to read about things like Interstellar… 😦 (which I kind of trashed HERE…). Lol 😉

CPD Classics: WALL-E (2008) Review

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WALL-E (2008)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring (mostly voice) actors:
Ben Burtt
Elissa Knight
Jeff Garlin
Fred Willard
John Ratzenberger
Kathy Najimy
Sigourney Weaver
MacInTalk

Music by Thomas Newman

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up a waste-covered Earth far in the future. He falls in love with another robot named EVE, who also has a programmed task, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity.

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My Opinion:

This will probably be about the most recent CPD Classic as films need to stand the test of time a bit first. However, I do admit that there are occasionally “instant classics”. To me, WALL-E was indeed an instant classic.

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I get super excited about every single Pixar movie that comes out (I LOVE Pixar!) but WALL-E was the one I was the most eager to see as, from clips released before the film, WALL-E looked so completely adorable & loveable plus the film sounded like a very interesting (and brave) concept. And sci-fi! Yes! I even went into London to see it as early as possible because I could NOT wait. And, boy, was it worth the journey!

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The entire beginning of WALL-E, before he leaves Earth, is an absolute masterpiece. Complete & total perfection. Sometimes I put the DVD in just to watch the beginning again. And again. From the second the Hello Dolly music starts to when we’re zoomed down to Earth & see WALL-E continuing to do his job on this desolate planet – Oh my god – There’s a big smile on my face just writing about it. Then the very grown-up Thomas Newman score kicks in and it’s quite dark and almost eerie and you know you’re in for a very different kind of kids’ film. Then, bloody hell – there’s no talking! For AGES. And it’s brilliant! Leave it up to Pixar to get away with that. The beginning of WALL-E is just so… I dunno. Epic! Cinematic! (It’s times like these I wish I was a proper writer!). Like in the old days where they made these sweeping epic dramas like Gone With The Wind & shit. The beginning of WALL-E is easily up there with things like that and I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves, probably because it’s an animated film. And sci-fi. The start of WALL-E, in my opinion, blows away every movie of the past ten years. Probably even 20. Maybe even 30!

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WALL-E, as a character, can’t get any better. Completely loveable and adorable. I never thought I could love another little robot as much as R2-D2! How can these two little robots that don’t even talk (much) have way more personality & character than most human beings? I love WALL-E’s childlike innocence – it’s so genuine & pure and makes you wish that every human could have that same curiosity and thirst for knowledge & experience & love. Love! Because WALL-E is a love story and, I don’t care what anyone thinks, is probably my all-time favorite cinematic love story (it’s close between this and Carl & Ellie in Up. Woohoo Pixar!). I found WALL-E & EVE’s romance more genuine & believable than any in those girly romantic comedy type movies that mostly get on my nerves. I get annoyed with people who moan that WALL-E is some preachy movie about the environment and how fat & lazy & wasteful we all are. Really? Um, no. That’s just the backdrop for a unique love story & a story about appreciating the little things in life. Argh! These people are missing the whole point!! (Sorry. I get passionate about WALL-E because I’ve had a lot of people tell me they do NOT understand my love for it.) 😉

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Unfortunately, (and I hate to say anything at all negative about this movie) once WALL-E leaves Earth, the rest of the film just doesn’t live up to the beginning. But it would be very hard to match the brilliance of the start so I can’t complain too much. I really really want to love the rest of the movie as much but it goes downhill with the appearance of the humans, who aren’t that likeable (mainly because they’re not very developed but, obviously, the movie is focusing on developing the personalities of WALL-E & EVE). There are still wonderful scenes (the space dance with Thomas Newman’s beautiful “Define Dancing”) and anything involving the other robots (especially cute little clean-freak M-O).

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Yeah – I just mentioned Thomas Newman again just like in my review for The Shawshank Redemption. Is it a coincidence that he’s scored some of my all-time favorite films? I think not! He’s brilliant and I love the WALL-E score, although much of it is very different from other scores he’s done. It’s very quirky but I think it fits the film perfectly. Because, I admit, it’s a quirky film and I know it’s not for everyone. But I adore it and the beginning is a true masterpiece that I honestly don’t think I’ll see another film come even close to topping in my lifetime. That’s why WALL-E is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9.5/10

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Toy Story Of Terror (2013) Review

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Toy Story Of Terror (2013)

Directed by Angus MacLane

Starring:
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Joan Cusack
Don Rickles
Wallace Shawn
Timothy Dalton
Kristen Schaal
Stephen Tobolowsky

Music by Michael Giacchino

Running Time: 22 Minutes

Plot Synopsis:
When Bonnie and her mother get a flat tire while travelling, they must spend the night in a motel. The toys are at first excited to be spending the night. But then they begin disappearing one by one…

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My Opinion:

This 22 minute TV special aired in the UK over the weekend. I’m a huge fan of Toy Story and all things Pixar so I couldn’t wait to see what they’d do for a Halloween Special.

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This was a lot of fun and I have a feeling I’ll be watching it every October in the same way that I watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown every year.

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It starts out with the toys in the back of Bonnie’s car watching a classic black and white horror movie. Mr Pricklepants, being the thespian he is, chuckles as he explains all the horror movie cliches to the other toys and continues to do this after the car gets a flat tire and Bonnie & her mother stay in a motel for the night.

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When the humans are asleep, the toys want to explore the motel despite Mr Pricklepants telling them that a motel “is one of the most common locales for a horror film”. After the toys start disappearing, it’s all up to Jessie to face her biggest fear in order to solve the mystery and save her friends. Jessie takes center stage in this one which is nice for a change as Toy Story is often so “boy”. But all the usual main characters are of course in this plenty plus we get to meet a few new toys.

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Toy Story Of Terror is a great short. It’s actually quite scary at first (in a kid-friendly sort of way). I know a four-year-old who has watched it about ten times already and always hides during a couple of tense scenes but always laughs like crazy during a couple of bits and ALWAYS asks to immediately watch it again. As with all Pixar stuff, it’s quite a clever and well written little story with a nice twist. Recommended (for all ages). 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

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First Teaser Poster For Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur

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The following synopsis and a little more information on the film can be found here (ignore the mention of the original release date – this has now been pushed back to November 2015): SlashFilm

“The Good Dinosaur” asks the generations-old question: What if the cataclysmic asteroid that forever changed life on Earth actually missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In theaters May 30, 2014, the film is a humorous and exciting original story about Arlo, a lively 70-foot-tall teenage Apatosaurus with a big heart. After a traumatic event rattles Arlo’s tranquil community, he sets out on a quest to restore peace, gaining an unlikely companion along the way—a young human boy named Spot.

My Top Ten Tearjerker Movies

I haven’t done a top ten list in ages so I thought this would be a good topic. I’m not a girly girl & don’t get all teary eyed at the usual sort of contrived chick flicks (piss off Beaches!). For the most part I’m going to leave out true stories (except for my number one) because it would be insane to not have something like Schindler’s List at the top. So bear that in mind before asking why certain movies based on horrific real life events aren’t on here. I’m also almost more of a sucker for happy endings than sad ones so you won’t only find sad ones here.

So here are my Top Ten Tearjerker Movies counting down from ten: 😦

10. American History X

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9. Brokeback Mountain

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8. Toy Story 3

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7. The Bucket List

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6. The Shawshank Redemption

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5. Stand By Me

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4. City Lights

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3. Cinema Paradiso

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2. Up

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1. Mask

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Honorable Mentions:

Bambi
The Lion King
The Green Mile
Always
Midnight Cowboy
The Lives Of Others
Legends Of The Fall
The Elephant Man
Untamed Heart
It’s A Wonderful Life
The Secret In Their Eyes
Untouchable

Toy Story Meets The Shining

Love it! These are excellent! I love seeing favorite movies of mine mashed together, even if the results are a bit disturbing. See these images and many more from artist Kyle Lambert at the following link: NerdApproved

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Seriously – check out the above link. There are more including a link to even more at the artist’s website. Had a hard time choosing just a few!

Pixar’s Pete Docter’s Inside Out Revealed at D23

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I’m loving the sound of this new Pixar film. Very “out there”! But so was Monsters Inc and that’s one of my favorites. Will this be a return to the very original films the Pixar we know and love used to do?

The following is an excerpt from this link: SlashFilm. Click the link to read more – quite a concept!

The concept is one, they said, that can only be done in animation. We’re inside Riley, age 11. She’s a happy, adventurous kid from Minnesota who loves hockey. But her family movies to San Francisco and everything changes. The characters are her emotions. Anger, pictured as red with a flattop, is voiced by Lewis Black. Mindy Kaling is Disgust, teen and green. Bill Hader is fear, purple and puzzled, in a black and white checkered shirt. Phyllis Smith is Sadness, blue and wearing glasses.

And the most important character is Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, in a yellow dress, with short blue hair. We have more story info below.

Footage shown and described let us know about the “headquarters” of the film — Riley’s consciousness, seen as a screen, with memories storied on racks. Joy is at the controls. If she likes a moment, they store it on a shelf, and it can be replayed like a DVD. But tensions are escalating in headquarters. Joy and Sadness are thrown out of the mind and into places people have thought about but never seen.

One space, Long-Term Memory, looks like a huge room. There are Imaginationland, Abstract Thought, and Dream Production (looks like a movie lot), all connected by the Train of Thought. Headquarters is left with Anger, Fear and Disgust in charge. Things are hard for Riley.

My Top Pixar Movies

Okay – Now that I’ve finally seen Monsters University (My review HERE if you’re interested), I figured now is the time to finally rank my favorite Pixar films. Because I’m sad like that. And obsessed with Pixar. And list-making…

In order, starting with my favorite & ending with my least favorite (Cars 2, no surprise there): 😉

1. WALL-E

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2. Toy Story

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3. Monsters, Inc.

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4. Finding Nemo

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5. Toy Story 3

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6. Toy Story 2
7. Monsters University
8. Up
9. A Bug’s Life
10. The Incredibles
11. Brave
12. Ratatouille
13. Cars
14. Cars 2

Monsters University (2013) Review

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Monsters University

Directed by Dan Scanlon

Starring Voice Actors:
Billy Crystal
John Goodman
Steve Buscemi
Helen Mirren
Alfred Molina

Music by Randy Newman

Studio:
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios

Running time: 103 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

This prequel to Monsters Inc shows us how best friends Mike & Sulley first met while at Monsters University. And how they weren’t exactly best friends at first…

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My Opinion:

Oh Pixar… I love you so much. You’ve brought me so much happiness over the years, which is pretty amazing considering that I was already an adult when Toy Story came out. I won’t go on about Pixar too much – I’ll get on with the Monsters University review. Just letting you know I’m a HUGE Pixar fan.

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Does Monsters University live up to Monsters Inc? No, of course not. But I doubt anyone expected it to – that would be a pretty impossible task as the first one is absolutely brilliant. One of the best things about the first one is the relationship between Sulley and the adorable Boo. Obviously, you don’t get that here so I knew from the start that it was going to be missing a big part of what helped to make these characters (especially Sulley) so endearing in the first place. I was also a bit worried as the trailers were making it look more and more like some sort of All-American Animal House kind of college comedy film. And it is. But it’s still fun and it was great seeing two of my favorite characters together again.

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As far as Pixar sequels (er, prequels) go, Monsters University is unfortunately not as good as Toy Story 2 & 3 were. I felt those really stood on their own as good films – the third one actually managed to be almost as good as the first while the second one was very funny. I was hoping that, where Monsters University wouldn’t have another “Boo” relationship, it would at least be really funny to make up for it. And it IS funny (unlike most inferior kids films from other studios, such as Dreamworks). But it had way fewer laughs than I was expecting – Monsters Inc is much more funny overall. I think a big part of the reason is that Mike Wazowski, one of my favorite movie characters EVER, is far more serious in Monsters University as he works very hard to achieve his dream of becoming the best scarer at Monsters University and to work at Monsters Inc. Okay – I realize he’s very serious in the original as well but all the funny stuff at his expense just worked much better in that one. Also, Sulley isn’t the loveable big blue furball that he is in the first one. As I said, this is thanks to the fact that we don’t have Boo there to help make his character that way. But also, and I think this is pretty common knowledge by now, he starts out a little “less than likeable” in Monsters University. But we all know that this prequel is about watching HOW the friendship develops between these two very different monsters and that was fun to watch. I still adore these two guys!

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Summary:

As to be expected, it lacks a lot of the heart of Monsters Inc but is also unfortunately lacking in the number of laughs we get from that one. It’s a bit too “frat humor” at times, which kids and most people outside of America won’t relate to. And the straight-forward college comedy/underdog storyline just can’t compare to the totally “out there” concept of Monsters Inc, which I feel sometimes doesn’t get the credit it deserves for how truly original it is.

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I hate that I’m making Monsters University sound bad, though, as it certainly isn’t – it’s just very hard to NOT compare it to the Monsters Inc movie I so adore. It does drag a bit in the middle but the beginning and, luckily, the ending DO make up for it and capture some of the magic (and some of the “heart” I keep mentioning) of the original. I obviously won’t give away the ending but I’m happy to report that I found it a satisfying conclusion (or “beginning” if you want to look at it that way) for Mike & Sulley. And as my hubby pointed out, it sends a good message to kids – which is good after a bit too much “college humor” that probably went over their heads. As for the beginning: I loved it. Probably my favorite part of the whole movie. But Mike Wazowski has always been my favorite… For lovers of Mike, you’ll be happy to know that Monsters University is much more the story of Mike whereas Monsters Inc is more Sulley’s story. And Mike as a little kid is the cutest thing I’ve seen in a very long time. 🙂

My Rating: 7.5/10

(FYI – My Monsters Inc rating is probably 9.5/10)

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Scene After The Credits?: Yes, Monsters University does have an extra little fun scene at the very end of the credits. Worth watching for completionists. Like me.

Characters From Monsters Inc?: Yes, we get to see some characters from Monsters Inc. I won’t say who so it can be a surprise. I feel bad at not mentioning Randall – it was fun seeing him again as well. Watch for the poster above his bed – You’ll recognize it if you know Monsters Inc well.

How does Monsters University compare to Despicable Me 2?: I was very much looking forward to both of these as I love the originals so much. My fear was that Despicable Me 2 was looking like it was going to be much better than Monsters University. Well, I do think Despicable Me 2 did manage to live up to its original a bit more than Monsters University did. I thoroughly enjoyed both but almost hate to say that I enjoyed Despicable Me 2 (slightly!) more. My review is HERE if you’re bothered.