Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2022

Hi All. I managed to review all of the below so here’s what I watched in February…

MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):

High Noon – Caught this on Film 4 & was happy to be able to cross another film off the list for my IMDb Top 250 Project that I started in 2013. And as with many of the films from that 2013 list, High Noon is no longer in the Top 250. I’m so glad I saved that much better list to work from! There’s far too much mainstream modern crap in there now.

Well, I can’t say I’m big on Westerns but I have really liked most of the Westerns in the Top 250 that I’ve forced myself to watch for this project. What I most definitely prefer are the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns with the lovely cinematography & kick-ass Ennio Morricone scores, though. Much more my thing than the old straightforward American Westerns like this one. I was slightly interested in seeing this as Grace Kelly is in it & I love her in stuff like Rear Window but she wasn’t given too much to do in this film (not that women were ever given much to do in Westerns). Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train.” I tried to not be annoyed by the fact that the newlyweds had a huge age difference with Kelly being WAY younger than Gary Cooper (I looked it up – 28 year difference. Typical!).

This movie was fine but I wasn’t really feeling it & didn’t even feel much excitement over the big showdown. To be fair to the film, though, as I said already I’m not really into this genre plus life is really terrible at the moment so I’m probably getting less enjoyment out of movies overall. The character development could’ve been better & some of the lesser characters were actually more interesting, such as the woman who was a former lover of the big bad guy. Still had a good story, though, and I can see why it’s a highly regarded Western. For a similar movie in this genre that I watched for the Top 250 Project, I preferred The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. – 7/10

The Tender Bar – Watched this in my desperation to see something that was released in 2022 (in the UK, at least). Ben Affleck annoys the shit out of me but he was good in this role & even likeable so, yay. In fact, I’d say he was a perfect fit playing the loving uncle of the boy in this. The film is based on the real boy’s memoir of his time growing up in 1970’s Long Island with his mother & uncle who encouraged him to become a writer (which he did since he wrote this memoir, obviously).

It’s a “nice” film. I hate when I use that word as it sounds insulting but I don’t mean it that way (I’m not a writer! I suck with words). It’s just one of those pleasant “Sunday afternoon” type of movies to watch. It could have done with more character development overall but they did good enough with the boy & his uncle. Would’ve liked to know much more about his mom and extended family (and Christopher Lloyd as his grandpa! Love him). A tiny bit more time spent on the regulars at his uncle’s bar would’ve been good too. I preferred the start of the film when he was a boy to later on showing his college years. The film dragged a bit then & too much time was spent on a girlfriend who treated him like shit. His life with his family was more interesting, including his troubles with his complete ass of a dad. Oh, and this was directed by George Clooney FYI. It was a decent enough film to pass the time but also a little underwhelming. I admit that it’s the type of movie I know I’ll barely remember a year from now. Oh! I forgot to mention that I enjoyed the very ’70s soundtrack, though. Of course. – 6.5/10

Being The Ricardos – I had zero interest in watching this as, quite frankly, I thought it looked terrible. Then it ended up with three Oscar nominations for acting and I went “Shit, I’m gonna have to try to watch that now” as I try to watch nominees in at least the major categories before the ceremony. And I don’t know WHY I still do that as the Oscars have been a joke for years now. And the nominations for this are a perfect example. The acting is fine but it is NOT Oscar-worthy. Maybe worthy of Emmy awards if it had been a TV movie instead, which is what it very much felt like. And I see they nominated three out of the four who play the stars of I Love Lucy. Why didn’t they nominate the one playing Vivian Vance too? She’s just as good as the other three. Oh! Is it because she’s not a big name??? (I assume, as I’d not heard of Nina Arianda before). The Oscars need to get their shit together. It’s too phoney now.

And… Okay, I know that it’s probably difficult making movies about real-life people but I often find it hard to buy into someone playing a well known real-life person unless they’re really damn good. And I know the acting is very important too but, seriously, can they at least try to get actors who look like the real person?! Maybe I just have zero imagination but, sorry, they need to look like the person. Nicole looks nothing like Lucille Ball. It was distracting as hell. No one looked like the real people. It’s ridiculous. I’m not a Debra Messing fan but I’m with Twitter in that it should’ve been her – she looked exactly like Lucy in images while dressed as her. I could’ve bought into that but instead I felt I was watching a weird-looking Nicole Kidman the whole time & it was all I could focus on. Hell – I’m watching that cheesy Pam & Tommy thing but they’ve done a fantastic job with Lily James so it does feel like I’m watching Pamela Anderson (and Tommy to a degree, although he looks less like him, but his fun performance is selling it. Much more than Kidman’s in this!).

Okay, enough with the ranting. I’ll try to say something positive. Umm… the story was kind of interesting, I guess. I know nothing whatsoever about Lucille Ball & don’t know how accurate this movie is but that was certainly an interesting week for her (if that all did actually happen in just one week). I thought Alia Shawkat was good as one of the writers (probably helps that I know of no real life person to compare her to). Ball’s hubby was a cheating prick & they had no chemistry in this movie. I think what also bothered me was, while I know nothing about Ball, she was known as being the star of big comedy sitcom. But this movie was so dreary & dramatic & devoid of any humor. Is that what Ball was like in real life? No clue. This movie makes her borderline unlikeable. It’s also one of those movies where I finished it feeling like I didn’t know much more about the real-life person than I did before. What’s the point of that? Oops. I was trying to be positive! Okay, the story was kind of interesting. But, holy shit, it couldn’t have been more miscast & the character development was terrible. – 6/10

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) – Although I love most horror movies from the ’70s & ’80s, I was never big on the 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I don’t even remember it very well now & should really probably rewatch it someday. I didn’t think the 2003 film was too bad but I could’ve lived without it. And I didn’t really care about seeing the 2022 one & thought it looked terrible but there are so few 2022 movies on services so far that I mostly watched this just to see a 2022 film. Yep – it’s terrible. Ugh. Here’s the beginning of the full plot synopsis on Wikipedia: “Nearly 50 years after Leatherface’s killing spree in 1973, young entrepreneurs Melody and Dante, Melody’s sister Lila and Dante’s girlfriend Ruth travel to the abandoned Texas town of Harlow, to auction off old properties to create a trendy, heavily gentrified area.” Okay – just from that description I hate these characters already.

Admittedly, I’m OLD so can’t really relate to the early twentysomethings in movies now. But these characters are meant to be hateful, right? Except the girl from that dreadful Eighth Grade movie people raved about for some reason – her character is okay. So I guess, if you like seeing annoying youths violently murdered, you might like this movie. That’s the point of slashers anyway, right? So why is this movie so bad compared to the slashers I liked in the ’80s?? They’re the same thing. I don’t know – I really can’t think of anything to say about this movie. Poor character development, I didn’t care if anyone would survive, Leatherface is shown to have some feelings WTF?!, and a bunch of idiots livestream this maniac with a chainsaw and say something or other about getting him cancelled. Seriously. I guess the bus scene was somewhat entertaining but it was so ridiculous & so unlike the vibe of the original film. Oh well – who cares? This will just be another completely forgettable horror remake/reboot/sequel etc etc. I suppose there have been worse ones, although I’m struggling to think of one… – 4.5/10

Movies Rewatched In February:

Suspiria (1977) – I watched this once years ago but hadn’t seen it since. Then in the past few years I’ve tried to delve into the Giallo horror thing a bit & liked Argento’s Deep Red a lot, calling it the more “accessible” film compared to Suspiria. I’ve watched several other Argento films since as well, including the kooky Phenomena, but none of them have compared to Suspiria or Deep Red. I figured it was time to refresh my memory of this film & see how I really feel about it as I know its Goblin score FAR better than the film itself (god I love that bloody brilliant, loud & distracting score!!!).

I have to say that, on a rewatch, I think I may now absolutely love Suspiria. And I’ll stop now as I ended up doing a full post with a slightly longer review HERE last week, mainly so I could post plenty of images from this film as it has stunning visuals. The story is a bit of a mess, yes, but I really don’t care about that when a movie looks & sounds as good as this one does. – 8.5/10

West Side Story – Figured it was time to introduce my daughter to this classic musical before we see the Spielberg version. And I hadn’t seen it since I was a teen so I needed to see it again myself. I knew I liked it but it never became one of my favorites that I watched over & over again like like I did with The Sound Of Music & The Wizard Of Oz.

I still really like it but it’s still not going to be an all-time favorite of mine. There are some good songs but, overall, I feel the songs aren’t as strong as they are in most of my personal favorite musicals. The Romeo & Juliet story, although predictable, is always a winner (which is why it remains so popular). So I like that a lot plus I really like Natalie Wood for some reason, especially since watching the fantastic Splendor In The Grass (which I prefer to West Side Story). There are of course some great visuals, which as I said in my Suspiria review is something that’s always important to me. Like, I really liked Maria’s colourful door to her bedroom. Why do I live in such a drab house (and country)?! I love colors & pretty shit! Well, West Side Story is iconic & deserving of its status as an all-time classic musical. Am interested to see what Spielberg has done with it but am not expecting to love it as I see it as a bit pointless when this version exists… – 8/10

Three Fugitives – Watched this on Disney Plus with the daughter as I have fond memories of watching this several times with my mom when I was a teen as we both really liked it & thought the girl was adorable. Managed to talk my daughter into it after she said she thought Martin Short was funny in Only Murders In The Building (I’ll be mentioning that below). Still really like this one but, oh boy, it does have that cheesy late ’80s/early ’90s family-friendly comedy vibe. Especially with that score! Ha. That’s okay – I still love stuff from my teen years. Daughter seemed to like this one as well & also thought the girl was cute & she still found Martin Short funny. Happy I was able to share it with her the way I did with my mom. – 7.5/10

Sweet Home Alabama – Another movie I watched with my daughter. I also have fond memories of watching this one. It was in the cinema with the hubby & two teen/early-twentysomething girls would NOT shut the hell up so he chucked his (mostly empty) drink at their heads. They did shut up! This movie is fine. A typical lightweight rom-com but I did enjoy when Reese Witherspoon was making this kind of stuff. Not my favorite of her’s when it comes to this genre but certainly not the worst. Probably smack dab in the middle! Ohh… I just checked & had forgotten I ranked Witherspoon’s movies (here). Yep! It’s in the middle! Predictable story but Witherspoon helps sell it. And it’s a good song. – 7/10

Shorts & Documentaries In February

Three Songs For Benazir – It’s up for an Oscar & it’s on Netflix so I stuck it on. I fell asleep so I can’t really comment…

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked)

The Book Of Boba Fett: S1 E6-7 – I wrote in my last post that I wasn’t really loving this show & it was a disappointment after how fantastic The Mandalorian was. Then the final two episodes were awesome! To be fair, they hardly featured boring old Boba Fett & I know some people complained that those episodes were really just The Mandalorian again. Fine by me! I got to see Grogu again! ❤️ AND R2-D2 & Luke! LOVED IT SO MUCH! I needed a Grogu fix so bad after a shitty shitty year so far. Luke looked excellent (I had no issues with how he looked in the final episode of The Mandalorian either, though). The only thing it could have used was more of Grogu & R2-D2 together since those two have been best buddies in my mind ever since the end of The Mandalorian. My two favorite Star Wars characters together!! Honestly, episode 6 of this made my year. No movie or TV show is gonna top that in 2022.

Pam & Tommy: S1 E1-6 – Can’t say I’m exactly a fan of either Pamela Anderson or Tommy Lee or ever gave much of a crap about their sex tape (although I did somehow see part of it at the time – God knows how! If I managed to see it it really must have been everywhere). But this show looked interesting. It really is just pure entertainment, though. I’m not entirely sure what the point of making this show was other than to see Pamela & Tommy’s crazy lifestyle?

I have to say that I think Sebastian Stan & especially Lily James are surprisingly good in this. Stan seems to be having a lot of fun playing bad boy Lee & they’ve done an amazing job with Lily’s look. As I said above in Being The Ricardos, the actors need to actually look like the real people (or be made to look like the person, like they have here as James looks nothing like Anderson in real life). They’ve done an okay job of showing Anderson as the victim here (which she was) and how upsetting the leaked personal tape will have been for her. Why on Earth have celebs made any sex tapes since then? They always get out. These two were careful, though, keeping it locked in a safe. It’s been interesting seeing the story from the perspective of the guy who stole the tape too (played by Seth Rogen). It’s an interesting show so far but, again, I’m not sure what the point was in making a TV series about this story.

Only Murders In The Building: S1 – After watching Stay Close & discovering that the kid really seems to like crime thrillers, we checked this out as thought she’d be interested since Selena Gomez is in this. She loved this show! And also now seems to think Martin Short is funny, as I said above in the Three Fugitives review. We need to get her liking Steve Martin now too! This show was a lot of fun & we’re all looking forward to Season 2. It’s quite “quirky”. It has good characters & I liked how we got some episodes with their own full storylines, such as one focusing on a deaf character which was also unique as so much of that episode was silent. The three leads work really well together & I like the music in the show plus the stylish opening titles. I think this will work as a continuing series where these characters have a new mystery to solve each season. It looks like that’s already the plan for a Season 2.

The Outsider: S1 – I’m a huge Stephen King fan & try to watch all adaptations of his stories. Been very frustrated in recent years at not getting the opportunity to watch so much of the TV stuff here in the U.K. on my services, such as Mr. Mercedes. So I was very happy to see this on NowTV (Entertainment) and binged it before it disappears. This book was definitely not a favorite of mine. Probably didn’t help that it got WAY too graphic about the murder of the young boy. King gets way too gross sometimes! But I suppose the overall story was okay. I thought this was a solid adaptation (and didn’t go into as much detail as the book did on the murder, thankfully). It fell apart a bit at the end but so did the book. I do find the ending to most of King’s stories disappointing, though.

I thought everyone did a good job in this, especially Jason Bateman in a smallish but very important role in the first 2 or 3 episodes. What I was most looking forward to, though, was seeing a favorite King character of mine that he’s now used in several stories: Holly Gibney. I wouldn’t say that Cynthia Erivo did a bad job or anything – I think the writers just really didn’t capture Gibney’s character at all, which was very disappointing. They made sure to point out that she’s “a little weird” but she really didn’t feel like she does in the books. Not happy! But, as I like that character, she was still my favorite character in this show & Cynthia Erivo was likeable as an awkward person who didn’t feel like Holly Gibney but would probably be friends with her at the very least. But, WTF, they gave her a love interest in this?!? Why?? I now really want to see Mr. Mercedes so I can see what they did with Holly’s character in that…

Well, I still really enjoyed seeing another adaptation of King’s work and thought it was pretty faithful (except for that stupid love interest). If you want more of Holly Gibney, read the (much better) Mr. Mercedes series where she’s introduced. She’s a smaller character in The Outsider – you really get to know everything about her in the three Mr. Mercedes books. And the title story in King’s If It Bleeds collection is a continuation of the story in The Outsider but has only Holly (and her friends from Mr. Mercedes) once again fighting this same evil. So definitely read that if you liked The Outsider.

The Woman In The House Across The Street From The Girl In The Window: S1 – This was okay but nothing special. I do appreciate them doing a spoof of my cheesy crime thriller guilty pleasures like The Woman In The Window & The Girl On The Train. The mystery wasn’t the greatest, though, and the comedy wasn’t good enough to make up for the story. The show was fine. It passed the time but I probably wouldn’t bother with a second season if they make one.

Community: S1 – Oh my god. I love this! Okay, I don’t rank TV shows in these posts in order of my favorites like I do with movies as it’s more difficult, especially when it’s sometimes only a few episodes I’ve seen of a show. I’ve seen all of Season 1 of this now and, so far, this would be at the top of this section. Definitely enjoying it more than Boba Fett, although nothing can top that full-on Grogu/R2-D2/Luke episode so I’d maybe still need to keep Boba Fett at the top.

How did I miss out on this show?! Actually, I have a good excuse as I was very busy with a baby & then toddler at the time. But why did no one ever tell me to watch this show that is so my type of thing?! I’ve been missing out! It’s hilarious & I LOVE these characters. Can I rank them?! You know I love ranking stuff!

1. Abed (the BEST! love his movie & tv-loving nerdiness)

2. Troy (knew I liked Donald Glover in other things but didn’t realize how damn funny he is too. his character in this is good but as a duo with Abed he’s hilarious & I love when they get the final little skit together, especially that Bert & Ernie one that put a big smile on my Sesame Street-loving face)

3. TIE: Shirley & Britta (Shirley is so sweet & lovable with this great naïve side that lets her say hilariously inappropriate things. Britta is the one I identify with the most as I’m sort of a buzzkill too & definitely angry a lot of the time. I can totally relate to her not understanding her fellow women sometimes, such as in the episode where she didn’t understand why women go to the bathroom together. All my teen girl friends wanted me to go pee with them all the time. Why?! Girls are weird sometimes)

4. Annie (she’s growing on me & is getting a bit less boring as the show goes on)

5. Jeff (I mean, he’s a jerk but he’s MEANT to be a jerk so it’s hard to know where to rank him)

6. Pierce (Hard to believe Chevy Chase has the most boring character so far but he still has plenty of funny moments in an extremely funny show. and the whole point is that this group of people have nothing in common so he’s needed in the group too)

There are some lesser characters but I won’t rank them at this point. Ken Jeong is as annoying as in real life so he seems to just be playing himself, although it’s fun when he goes completely overboard sometimes. And Jack Black was in an episode so that made me very happy. Oh, and we’re watching this as a family & my daughter is absolutely loving it too (Abed is also her favorite). So happy that we have the same sort of sense of humor. We’re binging this show like crazy. 🙂

And Just Like That…: S1 E10 – Ugh! I’ve bitched about this show enough in previous posts so no need to again. I’ll just say that episode 10 was no better than any of the rest. And I refuse to put an image into this post for it even though it’s annoying me that it’s the only one I’ve not used an image for in this section.

BOOKS READ

Not gonna use an image this time as I’m STILL just reading the same book I’ve been reading for bloody months (been too busy binging Community): A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones. Less than 200 pages left!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

As I’m watching fewer movies, it’s been easier to put together these roundup posts. If all is going well in life at the start of April, I’ll hopefully post my March roundup.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See In March:

Excited to finally be getting some 2022 films on services that look like they could be good: Turning Red on Disney & The Adam Project on Netflix plus I think I’m gonna sign up for Apple TV again which has an adaptation of a YA novel I read called The Sky Is Everywhere. Then I can also finally see CODA & Finch! Plus Spielberg’s West Side Story will be on Disney so am hoping to watch that before the Oscars.

I should end this post with Goblin’s brilliant Suspiria score:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2020

Hi All. Hope everyone is healthy & well. Guess I better catch up on these monthly roundups before the end of this shitty year. Here’s what I watched back in July. If I can remember enough to say anything about each of these all these months later… !

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Infinity Chamber – This was decent. One of those movies where the concept was better than the execution but they did well enough on what I assume was a low budget. Here’s the really short synopsis from IMDb: “A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape.” I’m a big fan of sci-fi & of a good sci-fi story so I’ll watch anything in this genre if I like the sound of it. With these lesser known films, you sometimes find some gems (Circle was pretty great) and you sometimes get some duds. Infinity Chamber is at the better end of things but I’d only recommend it to fans of this genre. I was hoping for a bit more, though. I didn’t feel that we got to know the main character well enough & I wanted to be able to sympathise with this poor guy stuck in this automated prison. And, to be honest, I found the plot a little hard to follow. Although I admit I’m not the brightest & often get confused watching complicated sci-fi but the story could have been a little more coherent.

Speaking of lesser known films, though, this film starred Christopher Soren Kelly who was also in a movie I’m happy to have the opportunity to now mention again: The Frame. Another sci-fi film with a fantastic idea, I highly recommend The Frame (on Amazon Prime – I reviewed it HERE). So watch that first! Then watch Circle (not that crappy Tom Hanks movieTHIS Circle). I actually had the actors from both The Frame & Circle thank me on my blog & Twitter for praising those movies. I love when that happens! Those involved with these independent films appreciate it when you enjoy their work so I do try to support films like these. I want to give Infinity Chamber a higher rating than this as I do very much appreciate that stuff like this gets made. I’m always afraid that stuff like this doesn’t always get given a chance so, despite my somewhat “meh” review, do check it out if you’re a sci-fi fan. – 6.5/10

No Country For Old Men – I finally watched this to get it off of two lists I’ve been trying to work my way through: The IMDb Top 250 & Best Picture Oscar Winners. Guess I need to update both those ranked lists but No Country For Old Men will unfortunately be quite far down both lists. I’ve just never been a Coen Brothers fan. Sorry! Is that allowed for a movie blogger?! (FYI – I also hate Wes Anderson movies). Well, I don’t hate the Coen Brothers films. At all. I just don’t exactly like them either. I recognise that they’re good films and, once again, No Country For Old Men is a very good film with some brilliant acting and a truly despicable & hateful character. I guess Javier Bardem was deserving of his Oscar win since I did truly hate his character, as we’re meant to. What can I say? I’ve never liked “the baddies”. I’m always rooting for the good guy & I want to see evil get its comeuppance so most Coen Brothers films aren’t for me. Although I realise their films are never as simple as pure good vs. pure evil, as Josh Brolin’s character in this isn’t exactly a saint. But we see the bad guys win in real life enough so I don’t really need to see it in movies. Yet I love dystopian sci-fi & am a big pessimist & often a fan of a truly depressing movie ending, so… I don’t know exactly why I don’t get on with the Coen Brothers films. Hmm. It’s a good film so I’ll give it a slightly higher rating than I feel like giving it. Plus I don’t want to be yelled at. Not that anyone reads this blog… – 7/10

Wildflower – How the HELL did a movie exist in 1991 starring Patricia Arquette & Reese Witherspoon without me knowing about it?! I was still in high school at that point & this is the type of movie I’d have watched to death. I think it may have been a TV movie? But I somehow missed out on it. I can think of plenty of TV movies I watched to death at that sort of time: The Stepford Children, I Saw What You Did, In A Child’s Name, and this great little Winona Ryder thing called Square Dance, aka Home Is Where The Heart Is, which was kind of similar to Wildflower. Shit, I want to track down that Winona movie & watch it again! Bet it hasn’t aged well. But I’ll always be fond of it in the same way I’m sure I’d have been fond of Wildflower if I’d seen it in high school instead of now. And I thoroughly enjoyed Wildflower as I’m a fan of the actresses & am always happy to discover unseen movies from my teen years as I honestly feel like I’ve seen them all by now. Is it a good movie? Meh. It’s fine. The acting is okay. It does very much feel like a film with a TV movie budget. But I liked the characters and, as you can tell from my No Country For Old Men review, that’s important to me. I enjoyed this. Wish I’d seen it as a teenager. – 6.5/10

She’s Gotta Have It – This is an interesting film to follow the above two as, clearly, I often like films that I can “relate” to. Wildflower has actresses my kind of age (sort of) so I know why I liked it as I was that age in 1991 & it’s somewhat a coming of age story. I can’t relate to anyone in No Country For Old Men in any way whatsoever. But I also can’t relate to anyone in She’s Gotta Have It. However, I liked it much more than No Country For Old Men. I’d possibly even rank it higher (I find it hard to “rank” very different types of films when I do these lists). I of course love to see a strong, independent woman in a movie so I really liked the character of Nola Darling (played by Tracy Camilla Johns). I also liked the men all fighting for her affections as they had such different & entertaining personalities. I kept changing my mind on who she should choose (not any of these men, really – they were idiots!). I fully admit to not seeing many of Spike Lee’s movies other than Do The Right Thing, which I thought was a great film (I’d rank that far above No Country For Old Men). Of course I’m not going to exactly relate to his films being a small town Midwest girl but a good film with good writing is something I’ll always appreciate. I enjoyed the conversations in She’s Gotta Have It. It’s so New York. Or at least how I imagine that big city I’ve never ever been to. I think a lot of people in this world are probably a little fascinated with New York as there are SO many movies set there and I like seeing a slice of life so different from my own. I enjoyed this movie more than I was expecting to & would like to see more of Lee’s work, especially from that late ’80s/early ’90s time period. Any recommendations? – 6.5/10

The Borderlands – I love a good horror. We get so few good horror films these days. This one was… Okay. Not even close to being a great modern horror (like It Follows, Train To Busan or The Babadook). But it was a perfectly decent example of the found footage & religious horror subgenres & had a good creepy atmosphere. I also kind of liked the ending as it got a bit weird. I like some weirdness! The whole thing could have done with more of that. I have NO clue why but this one made me think of horror movie The Ritual. That was an odd one. Oh, probably just because they’re both British. Anyway, The Ritual has gone up a bit in my estimation since I first saw it. That one was better. But if you like that, you might like this. And vice versa. – 6/10

Blades Of Glory – Sometimes you want to chill out with a dumb comedy. I don’t give comedy films enough of a chance as I hate so many of them, especially nowadays. So I tried to be open-minded! But this was disappointing. A little too dumb. Maybe I chuckled once? Can’t remember. Saw this four months ago now & already barely remember it. Meh. Will Ferrell is very hit or miss & this was a miss. – 5/10

Step Brothers – Ugh. This movie was truly dreadful. I actually watched it immediately after Blades Of Glory as I thought it looked like it would be the better of the two and I like John C. Reilly sometimes. I was so wrong! I think it made me appreciate Blades Of Glory more. Dumb & immature jokes and two grown men acting like hateful teenagers. Another big Will Ferrell miss! I’ll stick to SNL Celebrity Jeopardy & Elf. And, hell, that Eurovision movie too as it was surprisingly enjoyable. Cheesy but enjoyable. Step Brothers was just painful. Do people not moan when grown women act immature in things like Bridesmaids?! Why is it okay when grown men do the same sort of so-called comedy? (For the record, Bridesmaids isn’t my type of thing either but the comedy in that was a hell of a lot better than in this piece of crap. I at least get some laughs out of Bridesmaids). – 4/10

Golden Time – This was an animated short on Netflix. I forgot about it until I noticed it listed here all these months later. It was fine. It was certainly better than those two dumb Will Ferrell comedies but it’s just a short so I’m sticking it at the end of my list. And I’m not rating it either. Because it’s four months later & fuck if I remember much about it now!! It was about a TV in a junkyard. I think. What an amazing review! Wow I suck at blogging these days. I probably liked it because there were anthropomorphic inanimate objects. A favorite thing of mine! I used to do a series on this blog called Anthropomorphic Cuteness. I miss doing those posts.

Movies Rewatched In July:

Already reviewed most of these in the past (in the links below). I seem to have spent lockdown re-watching movies more than watching ones for the first time. I’m missing first-time watches, but what’s on offer on the services isn’t great…

Weird Science – I will always love John Hughes movies (which is why I did a big John Hughes Blogathon here years ago. Ah – the good ‘ol blog days. Happy times…) – 8.5/10

The Truman Show – Finally introduced the kid to this one. Think she liked it. I think it’s a great film & that Jim Carrey was perfect for the role. I remember the movie seeming a little exaggerated at the time. Not now! We’re certainly living in this sort of reality show nightmare now. They tried to warn us! – 8/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Meh. The first two films (and books) are so much better. But the kid thoroughly enjoyed these films. – 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Still hate how this book ended… But still think Jennifer Lawrence was born to play Katniss. – 7/10

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – Showed the kid the other (and main) side of Jim Carrey with this one. Should I admit that? It’s a bit inappropriate. Screw it – I saw stuff no less inappropriate at her age. And she of course loved it when he talked with his butt. Kids are so immature… (Speaking of dumb comedy like when I bitched about Step Brothers, I know Ace Ventura is dumb too. But I like it. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

BOOKS READ

Flight Or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King & Bev Vincent – Enjoyed this. I really like short story collections, especially in the horror or sci-fi genres. I’m not going to go into each story but, if you like Stephen King’s stuff (or his son Joe Hill’s), you’d like this collection of stories from various authors both well-known & not so well-known. They’re all stories revolving around airplanes and/or flying. So don’t read it while on a flight! Not that anyone can fly anywhere at the moment anyway… – 3.5/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz books. They’re a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I ranked them all HERE once. Well, I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Well, I made no notes here of what I watched so I guess I watched no TV shows in July. Let’s be honest – only The Mandalorian & Cobra Kai are worth watching anyway. Those are the only shows I’ve truly enjoyed in years.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Umm. Maybe I’ll attempt to post my monthly roundups for August, September & October? If I can be bothered. 🙂 I’ve watched nothing that great anyway. Except The Platform! That was good. Man, I can’t wait to see Pixar’s Soul at the end of December…

I always try to end these roundups with good music from a movie that I watched that month. Think I’ll go with something from Weird Science. John Hughes always chose the best music for his movies. This is my absolute favorite song from Weird Science & an overall Eighties favorite of mine – here’s Tenderness by General Public:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2019

Oops. I’m two months behind. Well, here’s what I watched in September. I’ve managed to review the 2019 releases, linked below. I’ve done mini-reviews of the older films.

MOVIES IN SEPTEMBER

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

It Chapter Two – 7.5/10
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark – 7/10
Crawl – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

It Chapter Two – 7.5/10

Hustlers – 7.5/10

The Farewell – 7.5/10

Midnight Express – I watched this movie as part of my Blind Spot Project so I’ll try to give it a full review by the end of the year. I’ll be honest – I only added it to my list for a) The Giorgio Moroder score and b) John Hurt. Those two things were great, as I’d expected. But the movie overall was just okay and I know it strayed too far from the true story. – 7/10

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark – 7/10

I Am Mother – 7/10

Wild – Finally got around to watching this one for Reese Witherspoon’s Oscar-nominated performance. Interesting – I hadn’t realized that Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay (with the real-life woman, Cheryl Strayed). I love Reese and she was good but, obviously, watching someone walk around in the woods for a couple of hours isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. Also… Laura Dern played her MOTHER?? WTF? So I looked up their ages. Nine years apart! I guess maybe the woman’s mom had her as a teen but, come on Hollywood! Dern was good too. The movie is good. It’s wild (ha! Wild!) that this woman walked 1,100 miles to “find herself”. Gotta give her credit! It sounds like it worked. I’d like to find myself too. Preferably from my couch. – 7/10

Home Again – Another Reese Witherspoon movie! Wild is obviously the better film but, if I was honest, I’d admit to enjoying this one more. It’s a lightweight rom-com, of course, but there’s nothing wrong with those when you’re in the right mood. And I needed lightweight after watching Midnight Express! Yikes. Anyway – what I really enjoyed about Home Again was that Witherspoon’s character was the daughter of a famous film director. As a movie lover, I always enjoy films that are about the film industry in some small way (which is why Cinema Paradiso is a favorite film of mine). She’s newly separated from her husband and ends up letting three cute young filmmaker dudes stay in her empty guesthouse. The movie doesn’t exactly break new ground in this genre but the characters were likeable enough and the heartfelt soppy stuff didn’t go overboard or get annoying. The IMDb rating is too low – the movie is perfectly fine. I’m not sure what people were expecting. Maybe more romance? But Reese turns 40 in the movie and has two young daughters so I liked that there was a realistic focus on more than just “romance” in her life. There’s more to life!! – 6.5/10

Juliet, Naked – I read this Nick Hornby book last year (review HERE). It was okay but definitely not a favorite book of his for me. I had to see the movie adaptation, though, especially as it starred Ethan Hawke as the recluse rock star (good casting – it worked well). 6.5/10

Paddington – People won’t shut the hell up about how good Paddington 2 is so I finally talked my daughter into watching the first one to get started (she really didn’t want to). This movie was fine. Paddington is very cute and loveable. I’m guessing the second movie is WAY better, though?? This is certainly nothing all that special. Just a typical, sweet family movie. – 6/10

Rewatched:

Forrest Gump – It had been a long time since I’d seen this one. To be honest, I’ve been a little pissed off at this movie for years knowing it beat the superior The Shawshank Redemption as the Best Picture Oscar winner. It’s a really good film and definitely the kind of thing The Academy goes for, but I’ve never seen it as some epic classic. I mean, it’s not up there with the likes of Gone With The Wind or something. Tom Hanks is great, though. He created a truly iconic character and was deserving of his Oscar. Gary Sinise was also good but the rest of the characters have always fallen a little flat for me (including Sally Field and even Robin Wright’s Jenny). Sorry, Jenny! I totally just said Jenny in my head the way Forrest says it… I actually find most of the characters unlikeable besides Forrest & Bubba (but I suppose that’s kind of the point? Stupid is as stupid does and all that?). The soundtrack is GREAT, though, especially the Vietnam era stuff. God that was a great time for music. Inserting Forrest into bits of history didn’t work as well for me this time, though. The film is also too American (I’m allowed to say that as an American!). Overall, I felt the film hasn’t aged as well as I’d been expecting. But they sure as shit better not do a sequel. I saw the proposed sequel idea and it sounded dreadful. Just leave some movies alone! Forrest Gump is fine how it is. – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

I didn’t spend much time reading in September and the only TV show I watched was a few episodes of Inside No. 9. I’d been wanting to check it out since it sounded weird and a bit “Twilight Zone“, which is my all-time favorite show. So far, it’s like if the brilliant The Twilight Zone hadn’t been a masterpiece of storytelling and was instead really shit. Maybe I’ll give another episode or two a chance. Maybe it gets better? It has sort of a dark humor, which doesn’t really work.

BLOG PLANS FOR OCTOBER

Well, I did October Horror Month again and posted a horror movie review every day of the month. Fun but tiring – I think this was the last year I’ll do that. And I always miss being able to review non-horror during October.

October Releases I Wanted To See:

Joker – Saw it. My review will be posted tomorrow. Good film. The controversy was ridiculous.

Judy – Also saw this. My review will be posted on Monday. Thought this was really good.

Gemini Man – Didn’t bother with this after it got bad reviews. That’s a shame. Will Smith doesn’t seem to know how to pick ’em anymore.

Abominable – Think this is still knocking around at some cinemas. Might still take my daughter to it.

The Day Shall Come – Also didn’t bother with this due to fairly bad reviews.

The Peanut Butter Falcon – Man, I HATE the stars of this one but it’s had some very good reviews. I’ll check it out on Netflix.

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – Saw it. It was surprisingly decent.

Zombieland: Double Tap – Saw it. Okay but disappointing.

Terminator: Dark Fate – Had some fun moments but, overall, this film REALLY pissed me off.

The Addams Family – Meh. Okay but too “cute”. Was aimed at too young of an audience.

Monos – As if this showed anywhere near me… I get so annoyed at only being able to see mainstream movies locally.

Doctor Sleep – SAW IT! Of course. Being a massive Stephen King fan, I saw this opening day. It’s very good but it’s no The Shining.

I try to end with music from one of the movies I watched each month. As the Giorgio Moroder score was a big part of the reason why I chose to watch Midnight Express, here’s The Chase:

My Top Ten Reese Witherspoon Movies

Happy 42nd Birthday To Reese Witherspoon.

I’ve liked Reese Witherspoon ever since The Man In The Moon back in 1991. I’ve even liked all her girly romcoms despite not being a girly romcom girl. She comes across as so wholesome & likable (which I’m sure some people find annoying). I do wish she’d find a different sort of role that would make Hollywood take her more seriously as an actress, though. She was very good in Walk The Line but it still feels like she’s somewhat ignored even though she has an Oscar. And I have to admit that I’ve not seen Wild (I just checked and it has disappeared from Netflix). Damn – I feel like that’s one I really should’ve seen before making this list. Seems like a more gritty role than usual?

Well, I’ll add Wild once I’ve seen it. And, of course, A Wrinkle In Time (released tomorrow in the UK – 4.2 rating on IMDb. Ouch!). Of all that I’ve seen (counting down from 19), these are My Top Ten Reese Witherspoon Movies:

19. Sing
18. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde
17. American Psycho
16. This Means War
15. Little Nicky
14. Water For Elephants
13. Four Christmases
12. Penelope
11. Monsters Vs. Aliens

TOP TEN:

10. S.F.W.

9. TIE: Sweet Home Alabama & Just Like Heaven

8. Mud

7. Election

6. The Man In The Moon

5. Legally Blonde

4. Fear

3. Walk The Line

2. Pleasantville

1. Cruel Intentions

Yep, I love Cruel Intentions. I don’t apologize. But I do apologize for Fear being way too high. It’s really shit but it’s a guilty pleasure. And I like that roller coaster scene

Saw But Don’t Remember Well Enough To Include In List:

Twilight, How Do You Know

Some I’ve Not Seen:

Jack The Bear, Freeway, Overnight Delivery, Best Laid Plans, The Importance Of Being Earnest, Vanity Fair, Rendition, Devil’s Knot, The Good Life, Inherent Vice, Wild, Hot Pursuit, Home Again, A Wrinkle In Time

Part of me wonders if I liked the Just Like Heaven movie because I adore The Cure song.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Book Review)

Big Little Lies is a seven-episode series starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman & Shailene Woodley. It’s airing on HBO in America this Sunday (19th of February) and looks like it will air on Sky Atlantic in the UK sometime in March.

Based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty, the show was created by David E Kelley & directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (director of films such as Wild & Dallas Buyers Club). Having just read the book, I figured it was time I do a quick book review for anyone who may be interested in either the novel or the TV show…

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Perfect family, perfect house, perfect life; Jane, Madeline and Celeste have it all . . . or do they? They are about to find out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control.

My Thoughts:

I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed this book as it’s certainly not my usual sort of genre (give me Stephen King, fantasy, dystopian, or post-apocalyptic!). Is it chick lit? I hate that term – It’s so condescending. And I hate the so-called chick lit genre as it tends to be the “silly” books that are given this label. I suppose it’s certainly aimed at female readers, though.

I haven’t read reviews at all but I would assume the main comparison being used to describe this book’s story & overall feel is Desperate Housewives, which would be extremely accurate. I have a confession: I’m not a girly girl & watch very few girly things but I watched all of Desperate Housewives (despite its AWFUL title, which almost made me not watch it in the first place). But then the opening DH scene started with a tragic death and a woman who then happily realized that it meant she wouldn’t have to return (some kitchen appliance she’d borrowed – can’t remember) to the now-dead woman. And I was hooked! Well-written dark humor with rich characters is something I can get behind. Who cares what label you give it? I don’t think Big Little Lies is quite as good as that first season of Desperate Housewives (as with all shows, DH went badly downhill in later years) and it doesn’t have as much of that darkly humorous streak but it’s a fun satire on parents, particularly mothers, and the crazy world of school politics.

Big Little Lies starts with a tragic & unexplained death on the night of the adult-only trivia fundraiser taking place at the novel’s school. Our three main characters, Jane, Madeline & Celeste, each have five-year-olds attending their first year of school. This is a fairly long book that I found a very quick read thanks to the way it was broken up into so many chapters & the way most chapters ended with statements from witnesses who were there on the trivia night. After the opening chapter in which someone has died, the novel then goes back to the beginning of the school year to introduce us to all our main potential victims and murderers. I loved not even knowing who ends up the victim, which kept me reading as I was anxious to find out. The witness statements at the end of the chapters give us little clues along the way as to what may have happened.

Big Little Lies isn’t exactly some piece of “worthy literature” but it was a light & entertaining read and should make for an enjoyable TV series. I’d actually like to see them up the dark humor for the show if they can. The book sounds more shallow than it actually is – It tackles some heavy issues, especially at the end, but it could’ve done with sticking more to its sassy satire we mainly glimpse in the witness statements and through the character of Madeline. Speaking of Madeline, the casting of Reese Witherspoon for this role is absolute perfection – I can totally see her as this outwardly superficial character with the deep down heart of gold. I can also see Woodley & Kidman as Jane & Celeste now even though Celeste won’t be how I pictured looks-wise but Kidman definitely has the right sort of personality & manner to suit the role well. With a lot of big names involved, including Jean-Marc Vallée as the director, I think the show is in good hands & I’m looking forward to seeing how they adapt the book.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Here’s the UK trailer for the TV show. I think they’ve upped the drama! Hope the show doesn’t take itself too seriously…

My Top Ten Roller Coaster Scenes In Movies

Summer is almost here which means warm weather, amusement parks, and… Roller coasters! I actually hate roller coasters. I used to throw up in the backseat of my parents’ car on short car journeys so I’m not a big fan of anything that can give me motion sickness. 😉

I was going to do a list of amusement park scenes in movies but, after watching True Romance recently, I decided to narrow it down to just roller coaster scenes since there are way too many amusement park scenes to easily do that list. I love amusement parks in movies, though… Not sure why.

I thought the majority of these should heavily feature roller coasters instead of one just being a backdrop in a scene. However, I’ve included two films where the backdrop was so iconic that it didn’t feel right leaving them out. Hey – can I just say it’s annoying how roller coaster is sometimes two words & sometimes one?? Roller coaster seems more common than rollercoaster so I’ve gone with two words!

So, here are My Top Ten Roller Coaster Scenes In Movies:

10. TIE: True Romance & The Hole (2009)
I had to include True Romance since it’s what made me decide to do this list. And a roller coaster plays a part in the plot of The Hole, a movie I had high hopes for but found disappointing. It could’ve been a great modern Joe Dante film! But it was certainly no Gremlins.

9. Beavis And Butt-Head Do America
Honestly, I don’t remember if this was in the actual movie or just in the Red Hot Chili Peppers video for their cover of Love Rollercoaster… Anyone know?? Oh well – I love the song.

8. Zombieland
This movie always makes me want a Twinkie.

7. Big
Well, he can’t go on the roller coaster because he’s not big enough. It’s the whole reason for the movie’s plot! So I figure it deserves a place on my list. 😉

6. National Lampoon’s Vacation
Man, I really need to watch this again. Not seen it in years! Still prefer Christmas Vacation.

5. Final Destination 3
I couldn’t exactly leave this one out, either, as the whole plot revolves around the “accident”.

4. Despicable Me
LOVE THIS!! Although it’s still not quite as awesome as when Gru wins the “It’s so fluffy!” unicorn.

3. TIE: The Lost Boys & The Warriors
These are the two I really had to include even though we don’t actually see anyone on a roller coaster. But the roller coasters & the entire amusement park backdrops in both films are so iconic & immediately identifiable. Plus I absolutely LOVE these movies. 🙂

2. Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
It counts. Because it’s my list & I say it counts. 😉

1. Fear
I really couldn’t put anything else at number one. Nothing tops this one (especially for Reese Witherspoon!). I have to admit that this movie is truly a “guilty pleasure” of mine. Because it’s pretty bad…

I should point out that there’s a 1977 film called Rollercoaster but I’ve not seen it so couldn’t include it in the list. Here’s the IMDB plot synopsis: A blackmailer threatens to sabotage roller coasters at various American amusement parks if he isn’t paid a huge ransom.

That sounds quite good! However, the trailer makes it look a bit cheesy & dated (but they did do horrible trailers for everything back then). Here it is:

Also, this post reminded me that I saw video of a very cool looking roller coaster at Shanghai Disney Resort. It’s called the “Tron Light Cycle Power Run”. Check it out! It looks cool. There’s video of it at this link: Robot 6.

Finally, here’s the whole video for Love Rollercoaster by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (love them, although I prefer the Ohio Players version):

Mud (2012) Review

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Mud (2012)

Directed by Jeff Nichols

Starring:
Matthew McConaughey
Tye Sheridan
Sam Shepard
Michael Shannon
Joe Don Baker
Ray McKinnon
Sarah Paulson
Paul Sparks
Jacob Lofland
Reese Witherspoon

Running time: 130 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Two young boys find a man who calls himself Mud hiding out on a small island on the Mississippi River. They later learn he is a fugitive and question him about it. Mud claims he killed a man who was abusing the woman he loves and he plans to repair a damaged boat that’s on the island then reunite with the woman and escape. The boys agree to help Mud with his mission.

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This was quite an odd movie and I think it’ll be a hard one to review. I decided to watch it as it made quite a few end of year Top Ten movie lists done by fellow bloggers.

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I think I remember one blogger comparing Mud to Stand By Me which got my interest as that’s one of my all-time favorite movies. Mud isn’t up there with that one but the comparison makes sense in that this is a coming-of-age drama about two boys (of 14, I think). The story focuses mainly on the boy named Ellis, whose parents are divorcing. He also thinks he’s in love with a girl from school so he’s a big ‘ol bag of mixed teenage hormonal emotions. His friend, with the kick ass name of Neckbone, isn’t so much the focus of the film but I really liked him as he reminded me a lot of River Phoenix in Stand By Me, especially with his haircut. Both boys were great and I hope they go on to do more films after this one. They’re what made the movie.

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Matthew McConaughey has never really been to my taste (or to many people’s, I think). I did like him in this, though, and I like that he’s been doing more serious roles and seems to be becoming a more highly respected actor lately (Mud is the only one I’ve seen of his more serious roles but I have to admit I liked him in Dazed And Confused as I’m from a small town and I knew a guy EXACTLY like his pervy loser). He’s a mysterious character and you never really know if the boys should fully trust him.

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This movie has a slow pace and is more about the characters than about Mud’s story. It won’t be for everyone and I’d only recommend it to those who think they may like it based on what I’ve said so far. McConaughey and especially the two boys give very good performances and you’ll find that you just want a happy ending for them all. The plot itself is quite unique compared to other films and I liked that – it felt like a “fresh” idea even though there wasn’t a lot to it. This movie has the feel of the early 80’s way of life (which I’d totally go back to if I had a time machine) and I actually wondered for a while if this was set in the 80s or if that’s just how things still are these days in Arkansas. I don’t mean that in a bad way – it’s just a very different lifestyle and one that someone living somewhere like London might not be able to relate to but, being from small-town Midwest, it made me a little homesick. Overall, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit and the only weak thing, unfortunately, was Reese Witherspoon who didn’t seem right for her role. Otherwise, I can’t really think of anything bad to say about Mud.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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